. As usual, the situation was good, bad, and completely chaotic, all at the same time; the group was still attempting to draw in, and trap, Zandramas – and they were certainly causing a big enough ruckus to attract his attention. On the other hand, that meant that they’d also drawn a great deal of attention that they DIDN’T want – and they needed to stay ahead of the secondary pursuit while still setting up their trap.
. Sadly, their current series of hideaways was rapidly being uncovered and they weren’t yet entirely sure what kind of trap it was going to need to be. They did have several different schemes underway though.
. Most of them were unified on one topic however; they wanted to yell at Jacob. Taking himself apart and thus making himself into bait for a trap for the rest of them had NOT been a particularly inspired notion!
. Unfortunately, all of my plans were going to be for naught if we were found. And security – in combination with the various other hunters – was now finding all of the hiding places that this particular resistance group had set up. The bane of small-scale amateur movements; no proper cell structure… We needed to find somewhere to hide again for a while, at least until we made our move and came out into the open.
. After taking out our frustrations on Jacob for a few minutes, we all felt better, even if Jacob was largely uncomprehending and undamaged. We decided that the only real place to hide nearby without risking going out into the open to skip to another city was to go deeper underground, into the older sections of the city. Ben, Jacob, 10CH, and Alys searched my bike for any more of the spider droids hiding in it. Jacob reprogrammed some of the droids and sent them searching for more as well. I wasn’t real keen on the idea but they knew more about the process than I did. I still don’t like the idea of Sith monitoring droids running around my bike, even if they are “reprogrammed”.
. Khadim had procured a larger van in the meantime and loaded all the rest of the equipment into it. Once the others were finished with their sweep of the bike, it was loaded too. We then all loaded into the van and Lazlo drove us deeper into the depths underneath the city. I rode shotgun and used the Codex to give tips to Lazlo on where to turn to reduce the odds of pursuit from time to time. In the meantime I considered our problems facing us now.
. First issue was a hiding place, but we were working on that as we spoke. The other resistance groups were now working on the remaining stasis generators, so that shouldn’t be a problem either – at least if we had a little good luck for once. Heavier weaponry would have been nice to have, but I imagine the bounty hunters will be rectifying that shortcoming far sooner than I would like. We also had an enormous number of pursuers chasing after us all now as well. The Sith garrison were unleashing the swarms of droids to hunt us down, the government was after Ben for supposedly destroying the universe or some such nonsense, we now had over 20,000 bounty hunters on the planet, the remaining rogue resistance groups were under the impression – thank’s to Zandramas’s remaining undercover agents – that we were rogue Sith, the Artificers and Holosith were keen on finding us, and planetary security was doing their best to pretend to be chasing us for appearances sake.
. This was not my idea of being popular.
. I sent a quick message to the resistance to keep an eye on Oliva Sandis, Officer Olson, and tailor Qwuam. I suspected with this many people following us, that they were likely to get into trouble sooner rather than later. Hopefully they can manage until we get the shields restored and the planet back under our control. If not then we needed to keep an eye out in case we needed to intervene.
. My thoughts on the matter were interrupted when Alys noted we were being followed by another van. Lazlo made a few turns to see if they were really following us only to confirm it was the case. I had a hard time seeing past Lazlo and Jacob though, and it was only after Jacob leapt to the other van that I saw them pointing a missile launcher at us. They couldn’t seriously be thinking to fire such a weapon at this range….
. Jacob had seen the people in the other car pointing a missile launcher at them – from well within the safety-interlock range. Still, the local resistance was inexperienced enough that they might well have disarmed it… He used his repulsor systems to help make the leap.
. They did, one of the missiles Jacob barely managed to dodge as the other slammed into the side of our van. It impacted the wall of the van and embedded itself right in Ben’s lap. The anticipated explosion did not come as apparently the missile hadn’t had time to arm itself yet – thank sensible engineers for minimum-range requirements – although we all heard the click as the arming mechanism activated. Ben proceeded to grab the missile tightly and then activated his stasis belt. The missile then proceeded to detonate in slow motion as I could see the warhead begin to vent and deform from the slow detonation. The moment it got past the stasis effect it would obliterate the van.
. Oh hell.
. Meanwhile, Jacob was taking away weapons (via telekinetically tossing them over into their van, which complicated things – such as Lazlo’s driving – there again), dealing with small arms, and dumping people out of the “enemy” (well, perhaps “mislead should-be friends”) landspeeder – but there were entirely too many of them to deal with while clinging to the side of the landspeeder.
. He managed to dump a few weapons (including the missile launcher), toss one idiot over into the window of the van (and almost into Lazlo’s lap, making maintaining control rather difficult), and disarm a couple more before they managed to dislodge him.
. He didn’t injure himself hitting the road – sometimes it was nice to be made of metal! – but his opponents promptly swung around to try and run him down. A good thing that the automatic systems were already diverting other traffic… Wait! They were using a repulsorlift vehicle! All he had to do was to lie flat! There would be some pressure, but it wouldn’t be anything too serious…
. The resistance fighters themselves saw a major benefit in dropping back; it took them out of Alys’s line of fire, and – given the accuracy of her shots – that was really looking like a good idea.
. It occurred to me that a small fan would keep blow all the damage away from us, but I didn’t have the time, the space, or the equipment to do something elegant like that. Not when there was still a van out there able to fire more missiles at us. Phasing through the seat and the rest of the van, I hit the road at a run as I accelerated into hypertime. I quickly caught up with the van and ran along side it. Cutting out the missile was going to be too time consuming even in hypertime. No choice then but to try this the hard way. Grabbing onto the missile, I propped my feet against the side of the van and pulled. I felt the Force instinctively respond to the effort as power surged through me. The missile budged slightly and it was then that I realized that I was trying to move something in stasis while I myself was in hypertime.
. With a subjective several minutes of pulling, sliding, and straining, I finally managed to pull the missile free of the van. It’s explosion sped up as it left stasis, but thankfully was still in slow motion from my perspective. Seeing a side maintenance tunnel not being used by anyone, I quickly hit the ground, pivoted, and flung the missile into the side tunnel where it could detonate safely. With the missile out of the way, I could see one of the resistance fools dangling halfway through a window of the van. It was a simple matter to push him the rest of the way through; his pants would probably catch on fire from that, but I didn’t really care at the moment.
. Inside the van, 10CH suddenly had something to do, as a burning, heavily armed, insurgent carrying a selection of explosive devices was abruptly shoved into the van; disarming and extinguishing him suddenly became a top priority – and once again complicated Lazlo’s attempts to keep from crashing.
. Looking down the road towards the other van and Jacob, I could see the fools trying to run him over with a hover van of all things while Jacob did his best impression of a speed bump. I ran down the road to intercept the van from behind but found myself significantly slowed as Jacob caught a glimplse of me and his atavism began to overpower my hypertime.
. Damn it, Jacob makes a really good boat anchor for our own efforts, while continually bringing Sith down upon us. OK, that weird atavism talent of his had saved our necks once or twice – but we could probably have found some other way out of things that wasn’t such an aggravation the rest of the time!
. Doing the best I could to maintain as much of the hypertime technique as I could, I powered on the lightsaber and ran down the van. Once I reached it, it was a simple matter to start cutting the van from the rear towards the front. When I came into range of the repulsor it felt like I was walking through water. Oh yes, that was another warning from A-Valerie, shield effects (and thereby repulsors and lightsabers) could significantly disrupt my cohesion while phased. Impacting a shield barrier could easily scatter my atoms across the multiverse if I wasn’t careful. Luckily I was only in hypertime so all it did was slow me down even further.
. I finally managed to slice the hover van in half and re-entered normal time just so the two pieces of the hover van could dramatically but harmlessly slide to either side of me as it spilled out all it’s passengers. Jacob was looking at me strangely after that and muttering something about radiation blasts. Right, smacking him until he came to his senses, we took off back down the road after the others. Jacob wanted me to pull him with a rope while I went into hypertime, but I refused. Not only was I not going to pull someone of his weight that far, but his atavism made the point moot.
. From Jacob’s point of view, a flaming figure emitting a fair amount of X-Ray radiation was coming his way. He promptly fired his own repulsor systems, sending himself skidding down the road on his back. Fro good or ill, however, that hadn’t really been apparent in Hypertime.
. Jacob used some sort of built in repulsors to start sliding over the road like a miniature landspeeder, and I followed along with the Force Speed technique until we caught up with the rest of the group again. Once we were all back aboard the van, Lazlo took us down another tunnel and into a much older section of the city underground. It was obvious these tunnels hadn’t been used in many centuries judging from the maintenance. Several more turns and down ramps later it was felt we were probably safe from pursuit for the time being. Radiation alarms were going off, although nothing high enough to warrant immediate evacuation. After some brief exploration, we found out why: we were standing on top of the regional hypermatter reactor.
. Even I could tell the thing hadn’t been maintained or repaired for quite a while. Ben immediately started basic diagnostic checks while Alys and Jacob interrogated the two resistance members we had caught. At first I was willing to dismiss how they were tracking us to Zandaras using precognition to track Ben, but they managed to pry out the tidbit that the locals were hacking the droids to track us for them. Wait a minute, just how many droid engineers have joined the resistances? I was flabbergasted to learn that most of the locals knew how to do some of the more basic hacking techniques.
. How the hell did this happen?
. Wait a minute, they actually put droids in charge of the education system and didn’t supervise the process? So apparently the kids had begun hacking the droids to improve their grades and take days off and cover up anything else they got up to, while simultaneously (and unwittingly, at least from a kid’s perspective) undermining the education of generations? Look, I know I slacked off in school at almost every opportunity Sabrina would give me, but I was only hurting myself and not society at large with those shenanigans. Looking back at the hypermatter reactor I wondered how much of the neglect was actually negligence and how much was actually due to this planet having no one qualified to do such work.
. The idea of putting this system under a fake occupation beneath Ben is suddenly looking a lot better and a lot less fake.
. Ben came back with his report on the status of the hypermatter system. Nothing was critical yet, although it definitely was going to need preventative maintenance soon and was probably going to need a serious refurbishing in the next century or two as well. Given the way that a hypermatter reactor leaked neutrons, you always had to keep replacing the physical shielding – and it looked like the maintenance staff was letting it go as long as possible between overhauls. Why did that sound like every other public works project?
. Unfortunately, it looked like the idiots in city planning had preferred to pour massive amounts of concrete on top the maintenance levels as opposed to paying for proper access routes for preventative maintenance. To make matters even worse, they then proceeded to build the entire city on top of the giant concrete slab so there was no easy access to critical systems. If someone was going to refurbish it wholesale, then they needed to dismantle the city to begin. The looks from the resistance I got when I stated this were incredibly frustrating, especially when it was pointed out that you only had to do that even few thousand years.
. Maybe I am spoiled from growing up on Alderaan, but there we couldn’t tear up cities to work on the utilities every few thousand years. Cities like Crevasse City which are built into a cliff side couldn’t afford to tear up the landscape like that. There were huge maintenance tunnels disguised to look like part of the cliff face and it was even said the river could be temporarily diverted for the larger jobs. Of course, now I think I understand why the Alderaan school system forbade the use of droids for teaching. They probably saw the consequences of that and actually learned the lesson as opposed to shrugging and saying it’s someone else’s problem.
. Maybe the furipedes could come up with something.
. Sigh, I needed to unwind and I could see staying on either of these topics was going to further irritate me. Instead I turned my attentions to Ichara and attempted to see what information I could get out of her. At first she was focused on her obsession and didn’t really want to talk about anything else, so I took the tact of complaining about people and their oddball and innane projects. She quickly picked up on that and started discussing her companions and their obsessions and how they weren’t focusing on anything important like her project. With some more encouragement and prodding, she began to rant about all of them.
. There were nine of the Artificers on this planet, including Ichara. Another eight were off with Zandaras’s fleet doing weapons testing she thought. We proceeded to focus on the ones here on the planet as priority as we tried to steer Ichara to discuss them. First one was a hyperdrive researcher much like Ben. Second one was obsessed with automated manufacturing systems and wanted to reduce the inherent error rate. Given what we knew of the structure of the universe, that was probably a lost cause. Third Artificer was obsessed with the self-replicating/organizing systems and wanted to learn about the “Living Death Asteroids”. Sigh, it seems whether I am serious or joking, it all comes back to haunt me.
. Fourth Artificer was big on biological spacecraft nonsense and wanted to know more about the killer jellyfish. The fifth was big into weapons, but the exact type wasn’t exactly clear. Given the fact that he was here and not on the front, we concluded it was more likely personal weapons as opposed to ship weapons. Sixth one was obsessed with shields and other defensive mechanisms. Seventh looked to be a powered armor nut. Eighth one looked like a real piece of work as a mythic researcher keen on becoming some sort of fantasy necromancer.
. Eh, some of them could probably be negotiated with given the knowledge and resources our group had at our disposal. But I could see that a few of them either weren’t going to be happy with the answers we had to provide or were big on obsessions that weren’t exactly compatible with everyone else.
. At which point Ichara chose to point out that Jacob was very unstable and degrading right now and he needed to get into an organic body again soon. Jacob then started wanting us to make him a new body to inhabit. My answer that we made him a new body, but then he chose to sell it for a bounty didn’t seem to register with him. We didn’t have the facilities of our own to make him a new one, nor did we have the genetic data to get the hospitals to make one either. The only place that had the resources and the data needed was the asteroids, and they were on their way to Alderaan right now. I had enough problems to deal with right now and I didn’t need to deal with ones Jacob creates because he finds it “cute”. At this point Lazlo started complaining about a buzzing sound and wandered off.
. Lazlo found a contingent of bounty hunters – led by De’Arc – who had apparently commandeered a tunnel-boring machine and were trying to sneak up on them that way. Apparently De’Arc had managed to tap into some local resistance source, had found that they were headed down, had deduced where they had to be headed – at least in general – and had seen their stasis fields in action often enough that he’d recorded their signature and was following that.
. Damn it, the man was actually competent at his job in some ways!
. Lazlo promptly tried to settle things amicably again. It had to work sometime, and they now had enough money to offer a sizeable reward for cooperating that you were actually likely to get! Surely the bounty hunters would realize that the bounty on Kira being so high meant that you were almost certainly not going to be able to collect it.
. For once, it seemed to be working. He took them all back to the others to discuss it!
. Jacob, Ben and I were still busy arguing over Jacob’s dilemma when I noticed Lazlo return with a good deal of company. Said company looked to be six Kredath Berserkers, six competent looking Bounty Hunters, and another Bounty Hunter that looked very familiar and dressed all in black armor. I know I’ve seen that one before. wait a minute, that’s De’Arc.
. Oh hell.
. My thoughts immediately turned to the massive hypermatter reactor behind me as I looked at that mass of weaponry. No one could possibly be that stupid. Surely that level of idiocy would have caused the Kredath to go extinct. Lazlo piped up with some story of hiring them to work for us as opposed to hunting us. My mind immediately figured the real story was he was now going to get a cut of the bounties in exchange for either staying out of the way or helping. Alright then, I could probably escape, but the others were going to be a lost cause if this came down to a serious firefight.
. I asked if De’Arc had come to donate more equipment to our cause. DeAarc replied by complaining about how his insurance premiums had gone through the roof. My counter about it being fair play in exchange for attempted kidnaping got some nonsense about “Honor of the Bounty Hunters”. I don’t think someone willing to kidnap or kill people merely because someone is willing to pay him to do it has much right to claim honor.
. What soon followed was a good deal of arguing, finger-pointing, and negotiating over cooperating or fighting. Sensibly, it looked like most of them agreed fighting in front of the hypermatter reactor was an unprofitable situation for everyone. I figured this meant the bouhty hunters were going to wait until I wasn’t paying attention to fire a stunner at me.
. One of the Kredath, clearly agitated by all this “talking” walked up to me. He tried to be intimidating as he wondered aloud about how much more money he could make capturing me rather than being paid by Lazlo. Feeling the need to remind him how stupid said plan was, I gestured to the hypermatter reactor behind me and reminded the idiot how stupid it was to fight next to one. The Kredath then asked if I was calling it stupid and didn’t like my answer that backing down would show it to be smart. It pulled out a large mace from that mass of weaponry it was carrying and proceeded to swing it in a side sweep intended to crush my arm and ribs.
. I already had my shield and lightsaber in hand in case things turned hostile. Indeed, most everyone already had weapons in hand and ready to go. Instinctively, I met the mace with my shield as I felt the Force flow through me. The mace impacted the shield hard and rang it like a bell as I was sent rolling across the ground. Rising to my feet as I was surprisingly unharmed, I saw two Kredath charging me: one with the mace, and the other pulling out a similar weapon. Fighting broke out all around me as others began their own fights, but I could only focus on my two attackers at the moment.
. Unfortunately, several of the unprotected characters – such as Shipwreck and Alys – had gone down with the first salvo of knockout gas grenades. Fortunately, most of the bounty hunters had been looking for a chance to smack down the Kreedath anyway. Ben went for the stasis systems – since Jacob and Khadim could resist the effect, that was a near-unbeatable edge if he could adjust it so as not to paralyze the city. Lazlo went to work tying up the Kreedath he was fighting, one loop of rope at a time.
. Precognition made it clear that both were coming in with large overhead swings meant to crush my skull or shoulder. That made it a simple matter to spin around the first attack while slicing at his knee. A quick step back dodged the swing from the second as I then slashed across his chest. I finished up with a telekinectic blast to knock them off their feet and hurtle them a good distance away from me. Looking at them, it was clear they were both stunned, but I had only barely injured the one with that slash to the knee. Apparently that thick leathery hide of theirs was tougher than I had imagined.
. As I was pondering how to best whittle my opponents down, precognition suddenly indicated something very bad was about to happen to my left. As I turned my head, I saw another Kredath leveling a fully automatic blaster rifle at me. Then I realized that I the hypermatter reactor was behind me with respect to this latest attacker too.
. Oh hell.
. A stray shot that missed me would still impact the reactor behind me and potentially incinerate us all. Attempting to reason with the Kredath was obvious out of the question; these were the idiots that rated “going out in a huge blaze of glory” as the ideal end to a warriors life. I tapped into the Force harder than I could maintain for long as my precognition and speed went into overdrive. The shots came in fast and I struggled to intercept them all when two of the bounty hunters tackled the Kredath and began trying to bash his skull in. Looking around, I saw similar scenes as Bounty Hunters and party members overpowered and tied up the Kredath. Ben then began to put the captured ones into stasis to prevent escapes.
. De’arc and the other bounty hunters quickly deduced the nature of the stasis fields, and it was revealed that the stasis systems were how De’Arc was now tracking us. De’Arc then proceeded to unnerve me as he guessed that the hypertime effect I was doing was the opposite effect and that a lightsaber would work nicely against me while phased. Ben tried to spin some nonsensical tale about breaking time, alternate dimensions, evil clones, and conspiracy theories, but that did little to dissuade De’arc and the Bounty Hunters – especially when Ben tried De’Arc on the Codex Channel and found that he could see it. Was that how he actually managed to locate targets? Using the Codex to rate probabilities? And now he’d know even more about it and us…
. Damn Ben and his damned channel!
. It was clear though that futher hostilities were out of the question in the presence of the hypermatter reactor. Just what would happen once we left here was an open question. Lazlo was treating them like his new best friends, but I considered the betrayal to be almost inevitable. I wasn’t going to start the fight, but I sure as hell was prepared to finish it.
. Things proceeded with the looting the Kredath of all their valuable possessions. The spoils were divided and I took one of the belts of thermal detonators and a laser pistol. The thermal detonators didn’t have locking mechanisms to prevent telekinetically activating them, but we might be able to rig something up. The laser was a power hog and wouldn’t last as long as a regular blaster, but my adventures with Valerie and Virstris proved they had their uses.
. With things settling down for the moment, Ben and I began to discuss the upcoming attack on the shield generators. I expressed concerns about whether this planet full of hackers may have damaged the software running the shields and other military systems, but Ben assured me that such systems were built in such a way to prevent remote access. The only thing that really could be done remotely he said, was a planetary alert would trigger the shields to activate automatically.
. Great, so that meant we either had to fake a planetary alert, or get someone inside one of the generators to broadcast a link out. That still meant we had to find some talented hackers to pull either scenario off though and where were we going to find someone like that? The answer came to both of us at the same time as we stared at each other and cursed our stupidity. We were sitting on a planet full of hackers! Organizing them was going to be a real impressive trick, but that mass of manpower should be able to overwhelm the system through sheer odds.
. Presuming we could get them organized, that should allow us to raise the shields while the stasis systems prevented anyone from interfering. That still left us with the capital ships in orbit that would immediately proceed to start hammering the shields. Our own big ships were out of the system and likely out of touch for an extended period of time. Plus we would be trapped inside the shields for all intents and purposes so we couldn’t immediately try to salvage those derelict fleets either. We needed something to at least distract the capital ships in orbit long enough for us to cobble something together, but where were we going to find the resources for that?
. Hmm, 20,000 bounty hunters on the planet meant a similar number of ships were here too. They either were planetside or in one of the port stations in orbit. Those same stations should be inside the planetary shields when we raise them too. Well, several thousand armed freighters surely could make a dent or provide some distraction for the occupation forces in orbit. Trouble got to be, capturing all those ships was going to be difficult and messy. I really couldn’t see any way to pull it off without a huge amount of manpower and a major mess resulting.
. Ben and I bounced crazy ideas off each other on that one for a bit with no real success. Either his precognition would say it wouldn’t work or my probability analysis would give abysmal odds. In frustration I started scanning the room looking for distraction and my eyes came to rest on 10CH standing guard over the place.
. 10CH standing guard…. why did that seem important?
. When we met 10CH, he was standing guard over the Asari (then the Nightraptor) for De’arc. Bounty Hunters typically leave their ships guarded by droids. We were on a planet full of droid hackers! Oh this was going to make my previous thefts of ships look pitiful in comparison if we could pull this one off. This was going to require a massive coordination effort to work, but if we could get the shields raised, then we had the time. Hell, we might even be able to use the time to work out some negotiations with the other Artificers to assist us in exchange for what information we had regarding their various projects. It was worth a shot at the very least.
. Alys pointed out that there was a body we could get for Jacob: the empty clone that was captured. Her own inquiries indicated it was laying in a hospital on the surface. Odds were good that at least some of the bounty hunters were watching it though. That meant a high potential for a serious fight then. Ichara repeated her point that Jacob was rapidly deteriorating and needed an organic body soon. Damn it, I guess I know what we are doing next.
. Oh well, I suppose a trip topside was inevitable. After all, my new robes should be done soon anyway and I get the sneaking suspicion that I am going to need them soon enough.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 39 from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 41 from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 40 from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 43 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav- Session 42 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)