Federation-Apocalypse Session Log Index III

Here’s an updated index for the Federation-Apocalpse Session Logs to date, since there are so many that it’s rather hard to keep track of them otherwise.

  1. Session 1: Gathering the group, mission briefing, and setting out.
  2. Session 2: Gating to Greenwald, first Praetorian encounter.
  3. Session 3: Debriefings and Madness Memes.
  4. Session 4: The search for Singular, Into the Underdark.
  5. Session 5: Mind Flayers, Drow, and the Godswar.
  6. Session 6: Shopping with the Drow, Destruction with the Mind Flayers.
  7. Session 7: The Dark Temple and the Negative Realm.
  8. Session 8: The New Imperium and the Tomb Archive.
  9. Session 9: The Moons of Korriban and the Second Silmaril.
  10. Sessions 10-11: The Tomb Guardian and a Break in Baelaria.
  11. Sessions 12-13: Sales Pitches, Singular, the Mirage, and the Mages Guild.
  12. Session 14: The Battletech Wars.
  13. Session 15: Battling Business World and the People of Singular.
  14. Session 16: Trade Negotiations – Singluar and the New Imperium.
  15. Session 17: Business operations on Baelaria.
  16. Session 18: Baelaria, Voidstones, the Mages Guild, and a Holy War.
  17. Session 19: Battle at the Alchemists.
  18. Session 20: Vekxin and Hogwarts.
  19. Session 21: The Crypts of the Baelarian Mages Guild.
  20. Session 22: Assault on Londinium.
  21. Session 23: Beneath Londinium and Into the Guld.
  22. Session 24: The (Mad) Minister of Magic.
  23. Session 25: The Outsider, The Adversary, and Merlin.
  24. Session 26: Aftermath in Londinium and the Crystal Palace.
  25. Session 27: The After-War Party, Minotaurs and Samurai Jack, and Experiments in Core.
  26. Session 28:  Interlude in Core – M and the Military.
  27. Session 29: Not Samurai Jack versus the Minotaurs, the Farmer, and the Bandits.
  28. Session 30: Why not to use nuclear weapons in hand-to hand.
  29. Session 31: Cleaning up – Baelaria, Ealor, and Timeslips.
  30. Session 32: Yoda and the Search for Computer Update Sources.
  31. Session 33: Dragonladies, Mech-Shopping, and Planet Moving.
  32. Session 34: Ryan, Godfire, and Moving Pictsome.
  33. Session 35: Seeking the Rosary of Memory, Moria and the Balrog, Raid Training in Battletech.
  34. Session 36: Recruiting the Balrog of Moria, Into the Underdark, and Stones of Mass Destruction.
  35. Session 36a: Raiding with Child-Soldiers.
  36. Session 37: Return to Ealor, Neodogs, and the Dark City.
  37. Session 38: Leaving the Underdark, Space Battles with Pirates.
  38. Session 39: The Rosary of Memory and Child Protective Services.
  39. Session 40: Counting the Rosary, Jarvain and AA.
  40. Session 41: Guarding the Rosary, the Mind Flayer Archives.
  41. Session 42: The Battling Business World INS, Dating with Dragons, and Singular Investigations.
  42. Session 43: Dragon Dating and the Accounting Department Wars.
  43. Session 44: Into the Linear Realms, Tracing the Madness Memes.
  44. Session 45: It seems there were these two professors…
  45. Session 46: Assault on the FBI.
  46. Session 47: Forging Alliances and Buying Advertising.
  47. Session 48: Tracing Cyborg Assassins.
  48. Session 49: Ambassadors of the Fey.
  49. Session 50: Chaos in Crusader, the Weakening Barriers.
  50. Session 51: Negotiations with the High Lord.
  51. Session 52: The Mad Machine Master.
  52. Session 53: Holographic Warfare.
  53. Session 54: City of the Mind Flayers, Preparations for the Linear Wars.
  54. Session 55: Delving into History. Character Backgrounds.
  55. Session 56: The Birthday Party, Sesame Street, and the Big Bad Wolf.
  56. Session 57: Counterassault on Singular.
  57. Session 58: Singular Gates, Evacuating to Ealor, and Visits Home.
  58. Session 60: Family Matters, Golf, and the Jedi Academy.
  59. A Draconic Interlude Part I: Discipline.
  60. A Draconic Interlude Part II: Coursework.
  61. A Draconic Interlude Part III: Academy.
  62. Marty’s Vacation Interlude (Technically session 59, but listed here to remain in sequence): The Living Galaxies.
  63. Session 61: Napoleonic Werewolf Pirates, Dragon Pets, and Squirrel Unions.
  64. Session 62: The Jedi Academy and the Council of Cardinals.
  65. Session 63: Setting Sail for the Crusader Realms.
  66. Session 64: Battle at the Straits.
  67. Session 65: The Storm at the End of the World, the Death Crusade.
  68. Session 66: The Siege of Jerusalem.
  69. Session 66a: Jarvain’s War.
  70. Session 66b: Interlude; Communications with Computers.
  71. Session 66c: Interlude: Chaos on Ealor.
  72. Session 67a: The Merchant Prince.
  73. Session 67b: Dr Lichstein.
  74. Session 68: The Council of Knights and the Temple Mount.
  75. Session 69: The First Ward War.
  76. Session 70: Preparations for Battle.
  77. Session 71a: Interlude, Runaways on Ealor.
  78. Session 71b: Interlude, Considering Accounting.
  79. Session 72: Affairs in Kadia, Underground Investigations, Priestly Confrontations, Intelligence from Elsewhere, and Tactical Planning.
  80. Session 73: Into the Garden of Eden.
  81. Session 74a: The Council of War and Death.
  82. Session 74b: Ward War II and the Silmarils.
  83. Session 75a: Interlude, Rescue Mission in the New Imperium.
  84. Session 75b: Interlude, Escape from Coruscant.
  85. Session 76: Battles in Jerusalem.
  86. Session 76b: Thawbans Relic Accounting, Investigation of Kevin.
  87. Session 77: Memories of the Fallen. Recruiting Death.
  88. Session 78: Death and the Trickster.
  89. Session 79: Gelman and the Squirrels.
  90. Session 80a: Gelman and the Balrog.
  91. Session 80b: Gelman and the Manifold.
  92. Session 80c: Gelman in Kadia.
  93. Session 81: Abigail and the Class-4 Weapon.
  94. Session 82: Artists and Otters.
  95. Session 83a: Corrigan and the Balrog.
  96. Session 83b: The Balrog at the Disco.
  97. Session 84a: The Dark Side of Magic Squirrel Land.
  98. Session 84b: Abigail’s Investigations.
  99. Session 85a: Neodog Rescues in the Linear Realms.
  100. Session 85b: Revenge of the Evil Doctor.
  101. Session 85c: Catching up on Events Elsewhere.
  102. Session 86a: Bad Contracts.
  103. Session 86b: Working Around the Terms.
  104. Session 86c: Slave-Trading Regulations. Lightening the Darkness.
  105. Session 86d: Marty’s Mid-Life Crisis.
  106. Session 87a: Small Cults.
  107. Session 87b: Child Custody and the Drow.
  108. Session 87c: Coming to terms with Concubines.
  109. Session 88: Reconciliations.
  110. Session 89a: Gelman joins the operations department.
  111. Session 89b: Discussions with the Darkness.
  112. Session 90a: Reminiscence of Apocalypse.
  113. Session 90b: Return to Core.
  114. Session 91a: Dragonworld Investigations.
  115. Session 91b: The Bronze Alliance.
  116. Session 92a: On Many Fronts: Reports from Multiverse.
  117. Session 92b: Action Conference – Where to Intervene?
  118. Session 92c: Car Wars – Battling Business Style!
  119. Session 93a: Against Entropy – Operation Midnight Gardener.
  120. Session 93b: Continuing Destruction, Car Wars II.
  121. Session 93c: Car Wars III and Thrall Visitation Rights.
  122. Session 94a: Visitations and the Lawyers of the Rings.
  123. Session 94b: The Witch-King of Lawyers and Singular Debriefings.
  124. Session 95a: The Winter King Part I, into Crusader.
  125. Session 95b: Mystic China – The Winter Maiden.
  126. Session 96a: Recruiting King Arthur, Trading with Necropolis.
  127. Session 96b: The Children of Ealor and the Lost Fleet.
  128. Session 97a: Salvage Operations and Holes in the Cosmos.
  129. Session 97b: Negotiating for Repairs.
  130. Session 98: The Hoslin and the Tomb.
  131. Session 99: Adventures in Necropolis.
  132. Session 99 Interlude A: Abigail and the Dragons.
  133. Session 99 Interlude B: Abigail and Kevin.
  134. Session 100: The Siege of Gethrid.
  135. Session 101a: The Krul-Vampire Treaty of Gethrid.
  136. Session 101b: Hoxin, Guide to Necrosis.
  137. Session 102a: Events Elsewhere and the City of the Damned.
  138. Session 102b: Ruth runs amuk.
  139. Session 103a: Dr Brenner Expanding.
  140. Session 103b: Dr Brenner in the Manifold.
  141. Session 104a: Ruthless Ruth Investigates.
  142. Session 104b: Father and Daughter Conflicts.
  143. Session 105: The City of Necropolis.
  144. Session 106a: Pyramids and Neodolphins.
  145. Session 106b: Gelman, Abigail, and Meeting Kadia.
  146. Session 107: Ramira, Kelsaru, and System Security.
  147. Session 108a: Escape from Necrosis, The Jesus Realm.
  148. Session 108b: Jenkins versus Jenkins, Todd’s Escape.
  149. Session 108c: Lord ZERO versus the Squirrels.
  150. Session 110: The Rescue of Sir Quincy.
  151. Session 111: Working with Werewolves, the Persona Chip.
  152. Session 112, Midnight Gardener, Capturing Vekxin.
  153. Session 113a: Interrogating Vekxin, Introducing “God”.
  154. Session 113b: Heading for Inversion, with Xellos.
  155. Session 114a: Thrall Missions – Todd’s Pathbooks.
  156. Session 114b: Thrall Missions – Lord ZERO and Jenkins versus BBW.
  157. Session 115: En route to Inversion – the Wookie World.
  158. Session 116a: Kevin, Marty, and the Rats of NIMH.
  159. Session 116b: The Rats of NIMH and the Yellowstone Supervolcano.
  160. Session 117a:  Reports from the Manifold, Child Kidnappings.
  161. Session 117b:  Thrall Missions – Child Rescue Operations.
  162. Session 118a: Arrival in Inversion.
  163. Session 118b: Inversion, Breaking and Entering 101.
  164. Session 119: Plumbers, Loonies, and The People of Inversion.
  165. Session 120: The Lend-Lease Program, History of Inversion and “God”.
  166. Session 121: Heading for Berlin, Hijackings, and The Grand Tour.
  167. Session 123: Prison Break in Inversion.
  168. Session 123a: Negotiations in Kadia, Planning the Assault on Inversion.
  169. Session 123b: Consulting the Church, the Infiltration of Inversion.
  170. Session 125: Catalysis, The Transformation of Inversion, Neanderthals.
  171. Session 126a: Jenkins Vrs ZERO, Holly Vrs Kadia.
  172. Session 126b: Gelman and the Rabbi.
  173. Session 127: Jenkins and the Numbers Vrs Mr Leland and Opossums. NIMH and the Authorities.
  174. Session 128: Grenwald for the Neanderthals and Reforming “God”.
  175. Session 129: M, Multi-Identities, the Silmarils, and Morgoth.
  176. Session 130: The Silmaril Wars, Opening Salvos.
  177. Session 131: The Silmaril Wars, the Vala and the New Imperium.
  178. Session 132: Recruiting in Heaven, Empowering the Forgelight.
  179. Session 133: The New Imperium and the Hellstorm War.
  180. Session 134a: Martin in Kadia, Ryan’s Investigations.
  181. Session 134b: Project Midnight Gardener goes public.
  182. Session 134c: The Once and Future Dr. Brenner – Prophet.
  183. Session 135: Boarding the Hellstorm.
  184. Session 136: Marty Vrs Revan.
  185. Session 137a: Falling Back to the Forgelight.
  186. Session 137b: The Imperial Debriefing.
  187. Session 138a: Martin Senior – Arrival in Kadia.
  188. Session 138b: Martin’s Casino, Jenkin’s War, and Limey’s Rebellion.
  189. Session 138c: Marty’s Younger Siblings.
  190. Session 138d: Disciplining Limey; quotations from the Book of Threats.
  191. Session 139a: The Council of the Traditions.
  192. Session 139b: Policy Review, Todd, Limey, and the Number Lords.
  193. Session 140a: The Core Investigation, Gathering of Experts.
  194. Session 140b: Preliminary Interviews; Gelman and the Harem.
  195. Session 140c: The Visiting of Family; interview with Temerin.
  196. Session 140d: Thrall Assignment Policies and the Investigation Report.
  197. Session 141: Child Protective Services, Puffin Wars, and Vacationing with the Anthropomorphous.

Along these lines we have a Current Timeline (and the previous  Timeline Update), a Current Projects list (and the older Things to Do list), and a Session Timeline to help keep track of plots and developments. A timeline update will be next.

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Eclipse d20 – Rahne Diende

Rahne Diende

Level Four Human Healer

Rahne is an idealistic young woman who feels that her magical talents are a gift that she is meant to use to make people’s lives better – a quest that she combines with her personal quest to see the world.

Unfortunately, the world is proving unexpectedly difficult; her tendency to heal people for free means that she rarely has any money (even if she’s rarely short for a meal) and her naivety gets her into a good deal of trouble along the way. Still, there’s nothing that gives her more pleasure than to do what she can to help those less fortunate than herself.

Physically, she’s slender, athletic, slightly below average height, and usually has blue hair – although her life magic allows her to grow it out in whatever color she likes with a simple spell.

Personally, she’s easy going and has a good heart – although, with the inexperience of youth, she can be outspoken, headstrong and downright stubborn when she feels strongly about something. While she doesn’t shy away from combat should it be necessary, she really isn’t that good at it – although a few defensive spells will let her hold out for quite some time. Nevertheless, if combat is in the offing, Rahne will be best off finding companions.

Available Character Points: 120 (Level Four Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +6 (Human Bonus Feat), +18 (The campaign is awarding two bonus feats at level one) +8 (Duties) = 162

Basic Attributes: Str 8, Int 14, Dex 12, Wis 16 (18), Con 12, Cha 16 (18).

Level Four Attribute Bonuses: +1 Charisma.

  • Hit Dice: L1-4d8 (8, 6, 8, 6, for 16 CP). Hit Points: 32
  • Base Attack Bonus: +2 (12 CP).
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Saving Throws: +2 each (18 CP).
    • Fortitude: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +1 (Con) = +3
    • Reflex: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +1 (Dex) = +3
    • Will: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +4 (Wis) = +6
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Force Armor) +1 (Dex) = 15
  • Skill Points: 19 (CP Spent) +14 (Int) +8 (Fast Learner) +14 (Enhanced Racial Bonus) = 55
  • Usual Weapon: Staff +1 (+2 BAB, -1 Str), 1d6-1 (Str), Crit 20/x2

Special Abilities:

  • Upgrade human Fast Learner ability from Half Cost to Double Effect (3 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (6 CP).
  • Adept x2: Pays half cost for Rune Casting and Mastery (Life and Healing), Rune Casting and Mastery (Spirit), Spot, Heal, Knowledge/Nature, and Knowledge/Religion (12 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Wis Mod) with respect to Wisdom-based Skills (6 CP).
  • +9d6 Mana, Specialized/only for Rune Magic (27 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +18 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only works after sleeping for at least a few hours, can only be used to restore Mana (10 CP). Note that any uses “left over” after restoring her mana reserve in the morning may be used after napping later in the day.
  • Evasive/may cast spells in melee without provoking Attacks of Opportunity, Specialized/only works with healing and protective spells (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (5000 GP effective value, 6 CP). (Note that this cost 416 XP to activate).
    • Force Armor I (Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP for Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal Use Only = 1400 GP).
    • Enhance Attribute/+2 Wisdom (as above, 1400 GP).
    • Enhance Attribute/+2 Charisma (as above, 1400 GP).
    • Detect Magic (as above, but not personal-only, 1000 GP).

Skills:

Skill Base SP Stat Bonus Total
Rune Magic / Casting
-Divination +2 2 +8 +10
-Life and Healing +7 3* +8 +15
-Spirit +7 3* +8 +15
-Wards and Shields +2 2 +8 +10
Rune Magic / Mastery
-Divination +1 1 +8 +09
-Life and Healing +7 3* +8 +15
-Spirit +7 3* +8 +15
-Wards and Shields +1 1 +8 +09
Heal +7 3* +8 +15
Spot +7 3* +8 +15
Knowledge/Nature +7 3* +2 +2 Sy +11
Knowledge/Religion +7 3* +2 +09
Sense Motive +7 7 +8 +15
Survival +7 7 +8 +2 Sy +17
Diplomacy +7 7 +4 +2 Sy +13
Swim +4 4 -1 +03

Rahne is a formidable runemaster – capable of casting spells of Life/Healing and Spirit Magic of up to level four at an effective caster level of eight, and of erecting wards and shields or casting divinatory spells of up to level two at an effective caster level of five. While she is a poor fighter, she is a capable defender – and can heal or enhance her allies in a variety of ways via life/healing and warding magic.

Rahne’s Further development will probably involve Reflex Training (to let her erect emergency defenses and shields), the Magician and Runic Ritual modifiers for Rune Magic, the (reluctant) development of some form of offensive ability – and continuing to expand on her Mana reserve, skills, and other basic abilities.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 141 – Of Plasma, Penguins, and Puffins

A polar bear at the Central Park Zoo in Manhat...

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Kevin and Marty’s return to Kadia had started off with a bit of an explanation for Gelman. Kevin had been about 60% of the way along in rebuilding himself – but that still meant a seething cloud of glowing molecular fragments being assembled.

(Gelman) “All right… what’s with the vaguely-person shaped ball of fire?”

(Marty) “That’s Kevin. He blew himself up protecting me from a Sith Lord’s Force Lighting, and he’s still alive. Somehow.”

(Gelman) “Blew himself up and survived as that?!”

(Marty) “Yeah. He’s healing up, though. Should take only a few more hours. I gotta say, I would have been dead meat without him.”

(Gelman) “And at what point did taking on a Sith Lord seem like a good idea? Or is this another one in the “It’s Marty” category?”

(Marty) “Well, Kevin and I thought it would be the best way to stop the invasion. It worked, too! Now ramming his ship with ours counted as ‘That’s Me.'”

(Gelman) “So what major villain of the Manifold are you heading to face next? Some eldritch abomination that consumes stars?”

(Marty) “Nah, we just fought him. Now we’re going on vacation.”

(Gelman) “Right… I suppose the Linear Realms is still the priority at the moment?”

(Marty) “As far as I know. They’re still being hit pretty hard.”

(Gelman) “Well that keeps things simple at least.”

Marty, having read the benefits that Kevin was giving now, arranged a nice gift for Gelman. He’d have an extra burden for a bit, and he’d never really signed up to be manager for a major segment of a cosmic war.

Kevin, meanwhile, was completing restoring himself – and was passing the word to the Thralls to keep an eye out for Ryan. Hopefully he hadn’t gone and inherited the Hellstorm’s massive evil power again. That could get very bad – although he had resisted it before of course. Still, if he followed true to form, he’d accidentally spawn a dozen new menaces purging himself of it again, and the last thing the Manifold needed was more insane godlings to go with the simulacra already running around loose! Just like HE didn’t need competition, even if his head start would be bloody difficult to overcome at this point!

After that – and when he was corporeal again – he settled down to relaxation and recovery for a while.

Unfortunately, Kevin’s pleasantly distracting relaxation period was rudely interrupted by a pair of operatives from Ealor’s Child Protective Services.

Kevin nearly chocked on his malt. Who’d let Child Protective Services get to Kadia? They were pests!

According to the computers… They’d claimed refugee status when they were denied entry, and had shown that they were being ”persecuted and oppressed” by the New Imperium Government and then the rules for entry as refugees had kicked in. What had the New Imperium… No, wait; he could guess. They’d been told to “Shut up and go away”.

Drat it! He’d thought that the entire organization only had one or two live people, and that most of the idiocy was courtesy of the local computers!

Not surprisingly, they were fussing about practically everything – but their biggest complaint was the enslavement betting matches, closely followed by the lack of adult supervision

Oh for…

(Kevin) “The kids need to be ready to deal with the Manifold. If they’re silly enough to get into trouble here – despite all the warnings – they could get HORRIBLY messed up out in the rest of the Manifold. If it takes twenty years on a leash to keep them out of trouble while they pick up an education, it’s really no big deal; they don’t age here, can’t die, and get all kinds of opportunities even as “slaves” – which is pretty light duty for about four hours a day! As for the “Betting Matches”… unless they’re betting with each other – which IS legal once they’re of age – that’s just the juvenile delinquents drawing lots to see who gets spanked!… Well, OK, there may be some of-age youngsters who want to gamble mixed in, but they ARE of age, and so if they want to play a high-stakes game, that’s their business! Now GO AWAY. I’m still adjusting my new body!”

OK, that was a bit misleading… What he wanted to “adjust” had more to do with hormones than physical adjustments, but it promised to be a lot more fun than dealing with Child Protective Services again!

Of course, so was wallbanging.

The Thralls hauled the Child Protective Services bunch away… That was weird really; the last actual human they’d met from CPS had been sensible. Perhaps she’d been the only one and these were just the other two? There couldn’t be THAT many habit-bound CPS agents; Ealor had only had a few hundred children… Maybe these were phantasms?

(CPS Agent, shouting) “You can’t just dismiss us, we will be back, and you will regret this!”

Kevin couldn’t be bothered checking. He had to issue some orders… “Refugee” status was not supposed to be enough all by itself! You were only supposed to get approved to stay as a refugee if your entry was approved normally already! Demons and things didn’t get to take refuge in Kadia just because another demon – or perhaps an angel – was after them!

Fortunately, no one else seemed to have gotten in via loophole… Trouble was, Ealor was on the “known and reasonably friendly” list anyway, they could have just applied normally – and would probably have been approved anyway – especially since Ealor was on record with an open rescue mission.

Oh yes! Being yelled at, or told to “go away”, or even being booted out of someone’s residence, was NOT enough to get you classified as a refugee unless there was a lot more to it! USE SOME JUDGEMENT…

Gaah! Now he needed that neck rub more than ever!

With Kevin still drowning his sorrows – or leftover trauma from being vaporized – in a barrel of sensuality, Marty had a few minor items to pursue. He’d been monitoring what was going on in Battling Business World – and, while it was lurching towards a major reset, the Number Lords were still holding it back. Still, ever-more oddities were popping up as they placed more and more stress on the structure of the realm…

At the moment, New York was having issues with the Central Park Zoo and there was a booze shortage (?). Was the Tux Brigade operating in his realm’s Central Park Zoo again? That might even explain how there could be a booze shortage when neither he not his father were present!

He slipped back into Battling Business World to check…

Reports were a bit confused on the matter, but it looked like – in the interim after Lord Zero’s attacks stopped – a war had broken out around the Central Park Zoo. Small flightless birds were duking it out in massive numbers and the property damage was escalating.

Well, that sounded like an organizational power struggle. Marty headed in to investigate. It had been a bit since he’d visited home!

Near Central Park almost every car was a smoking or burning ruin. The sounds of weapons fire could be heard echoing through the streets. Explosions rocked the ground beneath him as he crept through the streets.

Once Marty would have strode in shouting “What’s going on here!?”, but now – now that he was over his love of violence – he simply wanted to get to Central Park Zoo and see what was going on with as little fuss as possible. Fortunately, he’d gotten good at that too.

Peering around the twisted metal, fallen lumps of brick and mortar, and the still-burning wreckage Marty could see that the park was awash in a tide of black and white. It looked like two small armies were fighting each other in hand to hand combat, with the occasional use of flame throwers, clubs, and swords, and projectile vomiting of all sorts of disturbing things at each other. Some of them looked – especially a bunch at the center of the defensive line – looked familiar from the Car Wars… the Tux Brigade was definitely involved.

Something about the attacking force seemed wrong though… He was no naturalist – but they didn’t quite look like penguins to him. Their beaks were black and orange with a little bit of yellow. They had a dutch accent, and walked more like normal birds as opposed to how penguins walked. They were black and white like penguins though.

Were the avian species fighting for dominance? Well, the Tux Brigade had offered him training!

He pulled on a tuxedo and put on a stray traffic for a beak… Huh. Not that long ago, he wouldn’t have realized just how silly it was that – in Battling Business World – that would probably work! He really was becoming a citizen of the Manifold… That was sad in some ways, but liberating in so many others – and growth always did leave leaving something behind.

It worked too! It was like revisiting a childhood friend, and finding that they hadn’t changed a bit

Meanwhile, back in Kadia, Kevin had settled into his new body – and had re-established his secondary aspects. Along the way, he’d gotten lots of sympathetic attention from his harem, dealt with the foolish young dragons in the cells who’d thought that his odd vanishing had signaled his death – or at least a good time to jump him – over in the dragonworlds, had the roman imperium estate running properly again, and had his projects (or at least a secondary vacation) back underway with several of his identities.

One of the penguins on the defense notices Marty as he approached the front lines from the rear.

(Penguin) “My you are a big one! Are you some sort of insane mad scientist experiment? The humans are really good at those!”

(Marty, removing his cone) “Hey, I just got back into town! What’s with this? You guys need help?”

(Penguin) “Awww, I thought you were some sort of ill-tempered mutated emperor penguin! Anyway, the Puffins are attacking and trying to take over our made forward base in the northern hemisphere. They were hoping that in the aftermath of the evil number god’s attacks that we wouldn’t be prepared. Little did these danes know that penguins are always prepared!”

(Marty) “Sorry, I’m just short and chubby! Want me to do some backstabbing on their end?”

(Penguin) “Ya, if you can get the leader, then the rest will get bogged down in determining who is next in charge, they will be playing paper rock scissors for weeks!”

(Marty) “Any idea where that waste of feathers is?”

(Penguin) “Probably the one insulting the commander from atop that light pole over there.”

There was a lamppost that looked like it belonged on Sesame Street slightly behind the Puffin lines. An oversized puffin perching on it was saying all sorts of awful things about the quality of the commander’s mother’s regurgitated cooking.

Right! Like his mom could do better! Marty ducked behind cover and had Elera cast a flying spell on him while Minel turned him invisible – then rose up like the wrath of god to fly up and attempt a nice, full-force, stabbing, going right for the bird’s beak! His knife sank into the puffin’s beak as he opened it to launch another biting insult. The knife sank in – and all the hot air rhetoric got stuck in the puffin’s throat, unable to escape! The puffin begins inflating rapidly…

Marty grabbed the beak, pulled out his knife, and tied the beak shut. It was hard – the words stuck in it’s throat started to come out as he pulled the knife out – but as he quickly tied it’s mouth shut a look of panic entered it’s eyes. The puffin was now the size of a beach ball and was swiftly growing larger.

(Another Puffin) “He’s going to blow! Run for it!”

Marty hurled the puffin towards the sea!

His throw was off, as the puffin started spinning off center like a balloon instead of going off into the distance. However, it swiftly turned an ugly shade of green.

(Penguin) “If he wasn’t going to blow before, he going to now! Take cover!”

Penguins, puffins, and Marty, all ran for cover with comical expressions of panic! There was much chaos and confusion as the puffin swelled to four feet in diameter… Marty ducked behind a tree as a massive explosion went off – and a whistling sound went off into the distance. The air was filled with the stench of rotting eggs, and penguins and puffins were passing out as the  disgusting noxious fog swept over them, although it did seem that the penguin command team had managed to acquire gas masks from somewhere… A faint contrail could be seen spiraling off into the sky – and possibly into orbit.

(Marty) “Yeah, I thought your mom couldn’t cook better!”

(Marty, aside) “Well. That went more smelly than I thought, but at least he’s out of commission!”

He had Limey summon a big gust of wind to send the fumes to the nearest landfill – aiming as high up as possible to keep the humans from getting too suspicious – not that Manhattan wasn’t stinky enough with car fumes.

(Commander) “Thanks for your help there higher mammal. You fight like a penguin would, with cunning and valor!”

(Marty) “No problem! Now, I had somebody offer me training before. Does that still stand?”

(Commander) “Ah, that was you now wasn’t it? We can certainly offer that training. What sort of training do you need at the moment? We offer combat, commando, infiltration, and basic organizational training.”

(Marty) “I’ll take the organizational training. Never paid much attention to it in business school.”

(Commander) “Certainly. What type of organization are you trying to run?”

(Marty) “It’s going to be a pocket dimension, a lot like the one owned by one of my associates. It’ll have at least three planets. One for administration, one for fun, and one duplicating Earth. Is that okay?”

(Commander) “A bit larger than our normal jobs, but we can certainly manage. Is the size just for show or an indication of the size of the organization?”

(Marty) “A little of both.”

(Commander) “Very well, give us directions and we shall send a team of trainers and organizational experts to start setting things up.”

(Marty) “Right, I’ll open up a gate to my friend’s dimension! We can do some test runs there.”

Marty notified – who seemed to be a good chunk of the way back to normal by now – that a lot of phantasm penguins were coming into Kadia and requested some sites to test godrealm-building.

(Kevin) “Penguins? Oh, why not…  Can’t be any worse than CPS!”

Temporal Note: since the Federation-Apocalypse game has many different characters in play in several different groups, their timelines require some co-ordination… Most of the events that involve Kevin and Marty from sessions 138, 139, and 140 actually fall into this period – when Kevin is completing his recovery and Marty is more-or-less at loose ends. For those groups, of course, Kevin and Marty are simply putting in cameo appearances during their own activities – which are spread over a good deal of time.

Kevin wanted to visit the anthropomorphic worlds for a variety of reasons, but the biggest one was simply because he’d pretty much concluded that the computers, the Church, and the House of Roses were running interference in Core to ward off “distractions”. The parents of the three Thralls he’d “taken home for visits” were from Core of course – but even that wouldn’t suffice to explain just how calmly they’d accepted the situation; they had to have been briefed in advance. He had thousands of Thralls from Core in his service – and there had been no parental demands, no rescue attempts, and only the most tepid of objections save from a few investigative and crusading types. Even if most of the other worlds were too wrapped up in their own plots to pay attention, Core should be taking more notice than THAT.

The anthropomorphic worlds, on the other hand, were huge and ill-defined. They had no central plot to distract everyone, they had a vast number of local powers – far too many to interfere with at all readily – and they were wide open. Anyone could get there fairly easily. Ergo he could show up with a splash (not quite so easy to trace that everyone looking for him would appear at once – but more than conspicuous enough to let the ones who were really looking start to turn up), make some noise, act out a bit,  and – for once – be waiting for people to come to him, rather than chasing them across the Manifold. With any luck that should winkle out some angry parents, any religious sorts whom he was offending, emissaries from annoyed deities, and stray demons that were after him! There might even be some business propositions about buying or renting Thralls! Or some non-business propositions, or attempts to summon him, or some such! It would be fun!

Kevin had been making preparations. He’d had a ship of his own commissioned (the Nightwind Voyager), had had the Lissefea refurbished and enhanced, and had gotten the crews ready to go – leaning towards Thralls with naval skills. He’d loaded them with the richest of cargoes – gold and fabulous gems, ivory, rare spices, the finest of silks, celestial wines, magical materials and items, masterpieces of art, and other fabulous treasures. Even by Core standards, it was a pricey pile…

For a crew… Thralls of course, shapeshifted into anthropomorphs, mostly as wolves and big cats – matching his own wolf-form. More Thralls as his “personal household” – some shape-shifted to look much younger and somewhat like his wolf-form as offspring-apprentices, a few concubines (mostly wolves, but with a lioness or two), some equines to carry things, and his usual three as a lion, a wolf, and a bear. He’d thrown in a matched set of black-jaguar palanquin-bearers, just to show off. Branded and collared of course, and the house-slaves declawed, as was appropriate in most of the anthropomorphic realms… Even the realms that didn’t recognize predation weren’t big on social equity when their populations were so obviously unequal.

Marty, of course, wanted his crew made up of assorted birds or prey and fancy tropical birds – but that was easy enough to arrange with a bit of shapeshifting and local identities.

In either case… a large, and extremely wealthy and powerful, household – or a set of pirate lords.

Marty wasn’t exactly surprised to find that Kevin had gotten a pair of ships together and loaded them with all sorts of ostentatious goods and slaves – but the lengths to which he’d gone were fairly impressive! He hadn’t seen that much loot… well, not since the looting of London, and maybe not even then!

(Marty) “Wow. If we don’t make a big splash, I’ll eat krill for a week!”

(Kevin) “Er… what? (He ran a search)… Er… Tiny arctic shrimp? What have you been doing Marty?”

(Marty) “Getting staff for my own dimension. Why?”

(Kevin) “Just wondering… why Krill? It’s mostly whales that eat that stuff… and fish and things.”

(Marty) “Penguins too. Say hi, guys!”

(Penguins in unison) “HI!!!”

(Kevin) “Well, those are the most FORMAL birds I’ve ever seen! Hi Penguins!”

(Marty) “This is the Tux Brigade. They’ve volunteered their organizational services, since I need work there.”

(Kevin) “Oh! You mentioned them before! Some sort of undercover formal dress ninja birds?”

(Marty) “Yeah. Anyway, I helped them in their fight against the Puffins of the Netherlands, so they’re helping me in return. Who wants an ice floe corporate headquarters?”

(Penguin #2) “Ooooh, me, me, me!”

(Marty) “Okay! Tell those kids over there Lord Marty sent you, and they’ll get you set up. Now I’m going to be away for a while, but I’ll keep in contact. You guys have fun when you’re not on the clock, got it?””

A very large number of penguins went marching past to meet with the Thralls… Kevin shrugged. OK; why not marching penguins?

(Marty) “Well! Now that my work’s done, let’s get this vacation started!”

(Kevin) “Set sail for the anthro realms! One of the areas we’re getting lots of recruits from!”

Marty settled back… As long as there was swashbuckling and piracy, it would be good! And if they were there, could piracy and conflict be far behind?

It took a couple of days of sailing (long enough for everyone to settle into their roles) before they passed through the mists to make the final transition…

The port in the distance was a sizable city, and looked vaguely appropriate to the renaissance or the age of exploration. There were quite a few ships in port, and a fair number of fishing boats in the local waters. A large and wealth city…

(Marty) “Avast, me hearties! I see plunder!”

(Kevin, a bit more practically) “We’ve already got a hold full! We want to sell things and make room first!”

(Marty) “You can never have too much… oh, okay.”

Kevin posed grandiosely in the prow, his cloak fluttering, his sword prominently on his hip, and an elaborate hat with a long feather on his head! Marty flew up to the parrot’s nest (NEVER a crow’s nest!) and squawked “LAND HO!”!

A small boat flying a green and red flag headed out to meet them. It was probably the harbormaster, and so they refrained from blowing it out of the water. Besides… they were here to trade; why make a bad first impression?

(Kevin) “Well then! And what would ye be wanting?”

(Pompous looking official badger) “I am going to need to be told your names, affiliation, and business here in the city of Gan Trego.”

(Marty) “I be Martin of House MacAw, here to make me fortune and sample yer taverns’ rum!”

(Kevin) “I am Angkor Shadowfang, Captian of the Nightwind Voyager! I am here to see the sights of your fair city, to seek amusement, and to sell my current cargo! What in your little city is worth a bit of coin?”

(Official) “Well if you are here to sell goods, then I am going to have to inspect your cargo and levee a tax. As for the attractions of our fair city, we have magical services, many old and venerated churches to visit and pray at, gladiator combat to bet on, slaves for sale, and of course the market with goods from across the world available… Is there perhaps something in particular you are looking for?”

(Kevin) “Taxes is it? There be no greater thieves than the ones who sit in governmental councils! My hat is off to them!” (Kevin doffed his hat to make a sweeping bow in the general direction of the larger buildings).

Marty/Martin augmented the show with cheery squawking and birdsong (and offered to employ a Fascinate effect to facilitate pitching him overboard if Kevin was agreeable). Kevin, if somewhat reluctantly, had to turn that down for the moment… They were here to trade after all!

(Kevin) “I think perhaps I shall be sampling the shows and social whirl! The courtly dance is always amusing, and perchance there will be over-excitable young nobles!”

He grinned conspiratorially at the badger – with lots of teeth. Sadly, the badger seemed to be very well practiced at ignoring such things.

(Official) “Very well then, will you show me the cargo?”

(Kevin, pointing at youngsters) “Show him the cargo Daviros! I smell… good beer, bad beer, slightly overripe fish, some very good hotpot, entirely too much cheap perfume, (List goes on)… Ah, fresh roasts with spicy sauce – I shall have to have some of that…”

Marty wanted to lock him into the hold, but Kevin had to object…

(Kevin) “No, no… we’re arriving legitimately! How else will we get into parties? Well, OK, we may have to be gatecrashers… There will be time enough to throw him overboard if the taxes are unreasonably high and he won’t take a bribe!”

(Marty) “Oh all right. Besides, he might have a pretty daughter.”

(Official) “All right, I have tallied the value of the goods inside your hold and have determined the tax to be levied. Here is the paperwork for your review.”

Hm… the local taxes seemed a bit… excessive, unless the official was skimming pretty seriously. A quick scan showed that the local taxes were actually reasonable enough (even if they would be a fabulous windfall for the city), but it was quite obvious that the official was taking a rather high percentage off the top – far more than the modest “service fee” that most officials would tack on. Almost as bad, he wasn’t actually offering any useful information, or offering to let some goods in tax-free, in exchange! He was even stupid enough not to realize that skimming a percentage or two off a fabulous cargo was far more likely to be noticed than skimming a bit off a lesser one! He could have tried a far lesser scam, and STILL have been a wealthy badger!

(Marty) “SQUAWK! This be robbery!

(Kevin) “Skimming a bit are we now? And what would your masters say to that if I showed them these papers? (He carefully keep them out of the official’s reach). Shall I have your guts out, or perhaps your balls for souvenirs? I think they would make an entertaining ornament to show your offspring in the poorhouse – or bait for a little fishing!”

(Official) “Well if you have a complaint regarding my assessment, you are free to see the tax assessor’s office and file a complaint.”

(Kevin) “Certainly! Lets go right now! The apprentices can handle the docking…”

Kevin picked the badger up and hauled him along.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 140d – The Last Report

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Kevin, meanwhile, had recovered enough to handle a few things. Rationally or not, the first item on the agenda – at least as far as he was concerned – was Thralls. More specifically, some of the ones that Limey had wound up recruiting.

It wasn’t that the boy had claimed a harem. Limey was perfectly entitled to claim a harem if he’d hit puberty and could manage it. After all, the fact that Limey had to deal with puberty at all was entirely their fault. Laptop computers – even sapient ones – didn’t normally have to deal with adolescence.

His problem was with the Thralls that were involved! The females mostly had jobs as gate-operators and project co-ordinators and such, and were all perfectly entitled to pick Limey to father their kids it they wanted to – but the males were mostly new Thrall-recruits, with no other tasks! There were plenty of major projects underway that called for Thrall-services. Was there really a group of his Thralls who – despite all the powers and abilities he’d given them – couldn’t think of any better way to serve him than to act as simple child-attendants and household servants for one of Marty’s pets? Were some of them really THAT short of initiative? That was very disappointing! It was one thing if HE asked for it – they were HIS property after all – but it was quite another thing if they just couldn’t see that there were better things to do out there! Having Thralls doing nothing but waiting in a harem for their master to return to his pleasures was a serious waste of their time! Even HIS concubines had other jobs when he wasn’t around, they didn’t just lie around waiting for him to call on them!

Admittedly, he and Marty had thrall-aides and guards – but that was because they were doing things that called for them. Their kids were being looked after by Thralls because they needed special care, were threatened because of his and Marty’s activities, and because – as children of wealth and power – they got special privileges! There was no reason for Limey to need Thrall-attendants even if he was fathering children; Limey’s kids would be normal thrall-candidates eventually, and they would be quite safe enough in Kadia until then – just like all the other Thralls children. If he wanted or needed a dedicated harem for some reason, normal indenture-slaves should be quite enough.

Hm. Eventually he’d have to make having some kids a normal part of a female thralls tasks. That way he could keep the human race expanding perpetually!

Kevin spoke briefly with Marty and the various Thralls.

The girls were straightforward; Limey had been abruptly dealing with human instincts, wolf instincts, and adolescence on fast-forward when he’d never even had an organic body before. He was a close associate of Marty’s, and powerful, and had needed them. They were still doing their gatekeeping jobs; the ever-growing Kadia gateway network was currently keeping some 16,000 Thralls busy – and there were plenty move on caravan escort duty.

The males however… They were a few who hadn’t been handed initial assignments, had not been sure of what to do, didn’t have a lot of initiative, didn’t get recruited by Thralls who were running projects and needed help, and who had desperately wanted to get closer to Kevin – or to anyone who associated with him a lot… Aaargh! The thickheaded ones from out on the end of the bell curve!

Fortunately for them, Marty recognized the signs of Kevin’s darkness-fueled temper rising and promptly stepped in to defuse the explosion before the dummies got assigned to permanent harem attendant positions or to Dr Brenner or something. Defusing Kevin was often a very useful solution! It kept the kid from doing things that he’d regret later on! Even if he had to agree that signing up for harem attendant positions just to be working for an associate of an associate of Kevin’s was pretty silly…

Besides… he remembered how hard being a freelancer had been: being abruptly dumped into the job market could be pretty confusing at first!

He suggested setting up some default assignments for incoming Thralls, so that they didn’t have to look for work. After all, given that some of them came from radically different worlds, it was hard to blame them for finding Kadia disorienting at first.

It was a good idea. Kevin promptly set up some default assignments to initial training classes, followed by rotation  through a variety of positions in Kadia until they found one that satisfied them – and assigned a few of those new manager-Thralls to handle it. He hadn’t really considered it before; the vast majority of the Thralls didn’t need explicit directions for everything!

Wait! There was an endless demand for disaster-relief, rescue services, medical aides, and famine mitigation efforts – and that kind of job often led to good publicity and to gaining new recruits as well, which was an extra bonus! Thralls who didn’t show any real aptitude for other jobs, and who didn’t have other preferences, could be routed to those jobs pretty much endlessly. It would be a strike at the Horsemen of the Apocalypse too!

Limey had a request as well; he didn’t actually feel that he needed any harem-attendants (which Marty was quite pleased to hear), but a couple of adventuring-assistants to keep him from being bothered while he cast spells to assist Marty might be handy!

Well, that was easy enough; Marty just assigned him the most physically imposing pair – a couple of kids from the Five Worlds named Antonio and Eduard – and sent the rest back to the labor pool… Hm. It looked like most of them had been from the Five Worlds; they’d apparently been used to waiting for orders before doing anything – and for permission for everything short of breathing. No wonder they hadn’t known what to do when they got turned loose in Kadia with no one to provide directions! Fortunately, it looked like most of the Core Thralls – and virtually all of the ones from the more independent worlds – had a lot more sense than the Five Worlds batch did. Still, the further their operations spread, the more totalitarian regimes they were likely to start recruiting from.

Meanwhile, Kevin had found that there were people wanting to see him – apparently a Core survey group.

Oh blast! Just what he HADN’T needed at the moment, and couldn’t turn down! Well, at least he still had the “recovering from injuries” card to play… It was even still partially true.

He gave them a little time.

The final report was as difficult to compose as Dr Parson’s had expected. Kevin had made more time for them than they’d really expected – but he’d been very hard to read. His habit of multi-tracking all the time made reading his physical responses unreliable; you could never be sure that they were actually related to what he’d just been asked or said.

  • Kevin did indeed seem to consider himself an embodiment of “the darkness” – but he also seemed to define “the darkness” as the instinctive human drives to spread, to dominate, to strike back at whatever harmed or threatened, and to have lots of children. Midnight Gardener seemed to be nothing more – and nothing less – than an attempt to claim all of eternity for the human race and the uplifted animals it was dragging along into its future.
  • He seemed frighteningly easy to impose on. He had – despite being an Opener and thus almost unbindable – apparently been summoned at least once as a Demon Lord, and had answered. In fact, they had felt compelled to warn him not to simply give everyone what they asked for – and to watch out for would-be mates who wanted to exploit him. So much of his will seemed to be bound up in controlling the more malevolent aspects of the darkness that he seemed to have little capacity left to consider other things – and he was self-aware enough to rely extensively on the judgement and decisions of others. That might be why he so readily gave others what they asked of him, and would explain the one notable exception – his refusal to share, or transfer, the powers of darkness; he was afraid of creating another Hellthunder.
  • His Thralls… were adolescents. Like every adolescent, they wanted adventure AND security, freedom from restraints AND firm limits, independence AND someone to love and care for them, the power to act on their own decisions AND someone older and wiser to tell them what to do and take responsibility for it. They wanted skill and power right away, without having to work for it. They wanted all the self-contradictory things that every youngster wanted – and Kevin gave it to them. Their development was indeed being retarded, but they seemed to be in little danger, and were mostly doing work that was useful to the race.
  • Gelman appeared to believe that Kevin was primarily focused on containing the darkness, and so was essentially both allowing the will of the race to steer him around and pretty much giving anyone who asks whatever they asked for simply because saying “yes” was easier than arguing – and it would be hard to say that he was entirely wrong.
  • Kevin himself apparently felt that youngsters who were silly enough to get themselves enslaved in Kadia – despite all the computerized warnings – were too foolish to be let out in the Manifold without a leash. He also apparently felt that a few decades service in Kadia might suffice to get them ready for the wider world – and that the Manifold was coming into their lives whether their parents, or Core, liked it or not.
  • As for his Thralls… his statements indicated that he felt that they had agreed to his contract, were being well paid for their time, and would eventually “graduate” into the Manifold well-prepared for it, able to use many of it’s powers, with a proper appreciation of its opportunities and dangers, and long, long, lives ahead of them to explore and enjoy it. He did not seem to see any real distinction between a Human and an equally-sapient Neodog or Anthropomorph – or any reason why humans should NOT be property. That might be a symptom of being somewhat inhuman himself.

Overall? Kevin possessed enormous power and controlled tremendous resources, but that potential seemed extremely unlikely to become a military threat to the Core Worlds. It was, in fact, far more likely to come to their defense – but he and his operations were certainly a threat to the established ethics and social structure of the Core. Whether that would ultimately be good or bad was beyond their ability to say.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 140c – A Family Connection

Nadyenka and Dr Parson had a more specific source in mind for their next stop. They shared a distant family relationship through Lilian Ardanel – and Temerin, Lilian’s youngest daughter, had opted to stay in Kadia – and was currently supposed to be one of Kevin’s Thralls.

Lillian was pretty worried about her, although she put on a good face when it came up. She might be right to be worried too… If only they could get more than the public information on Midnight Gardener! It showed a frightening level of ambition anyway – and either a lack of all sense of scale or a serious intention to challenge eternity. The boy was certainly thinking on a transhuman scale there – even if the fundamental motive was no more than “I don’t like death!” his humanity was arguable enough at this point anyway.

Finding Temerin was easy enough – although they did stop to talk to a young performance artist along the way. It seemed that he had opted for indenture instead of Thralldom – but had nearly bought himself out of it in less than a year through sheer talent since he was allowed to keep all of his profits beyond a fairly modest daily fee for not taking a work-assignment as a tour guide…

That really was a remarkable bit of generosity on Kevin’s part. Demanding a substantial share of the profits rather than a flat daily fee wouldn’t have been at all abnormal. They bought several of his paintings; the expense account had been under no strain at all so far, so they might as well give the boy the final boost he needed to be free.

Dr Parson’s involvement with that interview gave Nadyenka more time to find out what Temerin was involved in – and it seemed that she was currently working with weaponized meme victims, attempting to trace the source of their exposure and looking for new strains. That was… rather a lot of responsibility for a child of only twenty-eight! [thanks to Core genetic engineering, that’s about equivalent to an old-style fifteen]. For that matter, it was also yet another major, and at least apparently altruistic, project – unless Kevin’s motive was simply to ensure Core’s stability so that he’d have a steady source of recruits. Still, if that was it… why had such a vital project been left in the hands of a self-proclaimed demon lord? Surely there had been an evaluation run when the boy had gotten involved in that field as well!

So many contradictions… Either the boy had no stable personality at all, or he had some of the most elaborately contorted self-justifications in human history!

In recent history anyway. Old-style humans could get pretty crazy.

While the others were musing, Dr Parsons went on a bit ahead.

Temerin was engaging in some light exercise then he arrived – a combination of acrobatics and aerobic dance to music that called for impressive strength, agility, and timing. A rather high-end training exercise for a purebred human, if only mid-level for someone with the right genegrafts – or for a Thrall. At least she was quite blatantly healthy and happy, even if that “happy” might be pretty artificial.

(Temerin) “Great uncle-Albert! How nice to see you! What brings you to Kadia?”

(Dr Parsons) “It’s good to see you too! I noticed you had disappeared, so I thought I would search for you. Your cousin Nadyenka is here as well, and will be along shortly.”

(Temerin) “Oh Uncle Albert! I was home for a holiday, and sent an electronic contact address! Mother was just all nervous wasn’t she after that mess in Masayvril wasn’t she?”

(Dr Parsons) “I’m afraid so, child. Is everything all right? You seem happy enough.”

Dr Parsons was scanning as well… It looked like she really had accepted the Thrall-pact; assorted massive physical, psychic, and magical augmentations, genegrafts, exceptional muscle tone and conditioning, and all. She’d filled out a bit too – probably thanks to the shapeshifting. She was as well-shielded as the rest on most levels, but – like the other Thralls – had nothing to keep him from reading her physical reactions and condition – or from noting her pointy ears, tiny cute fangs, and slight fuzz. What, was lycanthropy – or possibly the old “catgirl” or “wolfgirl” routine IN this month in Kadia? That was what happened when you made voluntary shapeshifting a major feature of a world!

On the other hand, like the rest, she did indeed seem to be fine – and quite happy with the arrangement.

Maysavril had been one of the worlds on the fringe of the New Imperium/Old Sith Empire until the Hellstorm hit it unexpectedly and reduced the surface of the planet to a sea of molten rock. Unfortunately, Temerin had been visiting there at the time and hadn’t managed to reach a gate in time to evacuate. For a time she’d been presumed dead in the attack – although, in the Manifold, there was always hope.

As it had turned out, quite a lot of people – at least the ones with offworld wealth to pay for it or who were most salable – had been taken off by freetraders. Some of Kevin’s agents bought her, and had offered to either send her home with a charge against her credit account in Core or to let her join the Thralls. She’d seen enough of their abilities to find that interesting – and the notion of being able to take care of herself was also appealing – so she’d taken them up on it. After she’d reached Kadia, been briefed, and had accepted the bond, she’d gotten back in touch with her parents – who’d been overjoyed to hear that she was alive, less than happy to hear that she’d been enslaved, and QUITE unhappy to hear that she had then VOLUNTEERED for more slavery!

Confirming that made Dr Parsons quite uncomfortable. Thralldom in the abstract was enough of an ethical problem, having it become a family matter was entirely too close to home. Still, at least she was alive; as long as that was true, almost anything else could be worked out eventually.

It was easy enough to find out why Lilian was looking so strained though; unsurprisingly, no amount of explanations from Temerin had helped things with Lilian – especially since the first reports of her daughters adventures had involved dangerous rescue missions, with her having both legs blown off and nearly dying on one of them.

Dr Parson’s wasn’t so happy about that himself, but at least she was definitely aware of the risks. It was even better that she’d apparently decided to keep things a little quieter for a bit.

(Dr Parsons) “Sigh… you do realize your mother is unhappy about this, of course.”

(Temerin) “She thinks I’ll get hurt… I did stop taking rescue missions to try and calm her, but it’s not like I could get killed or anything! Kevin doesn’t allow that!”

That was still the rub; Kevin delivered what he promised – but the price he demanded could be abused so readily!

(Dr Parsons) “I know, dear.”

As the rest of the group arrived, Temerin cheerily waved, gestured, cleaned up instantaneously, and flipped down from the exercise area to give Parsons and Nadyenka welcoming hugs.

(Temerin) “Hey Nadyenka! Why are you here? You worried too? I’m just fine you know!”

(Nadyenka) “If you say so.”

(Temerin, not being stupid) “You don’t approve – but they rescued me, and gave me a chance to rescue other people and really do things that needed doing!”

(Nadyenka) “For what purposes, though? Have you thought about his motivations? CAN you?”

(Temerin) “Yeah! He likes to have people in general be happy and expand – and he likes to have more Thralls sign up! And why shouldn’t we?”

Nadyenka really didn’t have an objection to that quite ready… It was outrageous, and it was targeting children, and she didn’t approve – but she was stymied in looking for a LOGICAL objection.

Dr Parsons had been probing as deeply as he could – at least on Temerin he had a baseline to work with – and the Thrall-augmentations were just as major as he’d come to suspect. There was no remaining trace of damage or trauma; it looked like the transformation had wiped all that away. Her stress levels were good – but she practically radiated eagerness to please Kevin – like all the rest – and utterly accepted her status as property right down to the instinctive level.

She did still like to help people at least…

Generic lycanthropic powers, but – at least for a Thrall – that seemed to be a very minor thing, and might just be a training package. She was also about two weeks pregnant at the moment.

Lycanthropy never got any less disturbing… Wait, she was pregnant?!

Dr Parsons elected to ask telepathically, since he wasn’t sure Nadyenka was going to react.

(Temerin, mentally) “Oh? It shows already? I decided to get pregnant by young Limey Tabard! He’s really cute, and he’s extra powerful, and he works directly with Kevin and Marty!”

(Dr Parsons, mentally) “That’s an odd name. Is it his actual name or just a nickname?”

(Temerin, mentally) “Oh, it’s Limey Remiliard Akeveron Tabard really!”

(Dr Parsons, mentally) “Is he a werewolf? A human?”

(Temerin, mentally) “Oh he’s a werewolf! And a weremachine! And a lot of other things, as well as being a bit younger than I am – but he has lots of energy!”

(Dr Parsons, mentally) “I can’t even BEGIN to imagine what the baby will look like. But you’re clearly well-supported here.”

(Temerin, mentally) “Oh of course! Lord Kevin takes good care of everyone – and he makes special provisions for anyone who’s having a baby!”

(Dr Parsons, mentally) “That’s good.”

Oh dear! Was Kevin is trying to BREED thralls? What were those benefits?

Oh. Public records. Virtually EVERYTHING was public records… Was that intentional policy, a leftover childhood assumption, or a carefully-crafted front? In any case… Larger quarters, child care, larger luxury allowance, assignments in Kadia with flexible hours and such to allow parents to spend time with their children (and to make sure that the children remained in Kadia, where nothing seriously bad could happen to them, until they were of age), and – apparently – Kevin’s general seal of approval.

Well, at least he wasn’t forcing them to have children – although further investigation was certainly in order. Still, she was far, FAR too young! People didn’t normally start families until they were at least a hundred and had settled down in life a bit! (Well, OK, a few overeager types started around forty). Her family was NOT going to be amused!

Well, there was nothing that could be done for Temerin; she’d accepted accepted the deal, and apparently Kevin was incapable of revoking it. They could set up more regular communications, and tell Lilian that – since she had a daughter resident in Kadia, and in Kevin’s service – she could just come and visit readily enough.

The report – to both Lilian and the military – was going to be awkward. The data was disturbing, yet there were few black and white issues save one; it was hard to find a better deal in exchange for your freedom, dignity, and personhood – but were those things that, even if there was no way to stop the sales, Core should acknowledge that a child could sell? Loosening up had benefited humanity, but to this extent? It seemed so extreme!

Now, they could certainly report strong indications that Galman was right; Kevin was addicted, trapped, and not really in control of the power passing through him. The fact that he didn’t have any purpose in mind for most of the Thralls said that it was the binding itself that drove him. The honesty… spoke of inhuman self-discipline, and he might well have recently become aware that fathering children was a possible self-treatment for binding-addiction.

It would be worthwhile maintaining communication with Gelman. For someone approaching the matter from a religious and philosophical perspective, he had done some rigorous investigation and analysis – and he seemed to be genuinely concerned. There had even been some indications that he might be trying to influence the situation – although he might well get in over his head.

Next up; they’d have to try and see what Kevin was doing in person. So far, at least, there was no indication that simply meeting or talking with him – if that could be arranged – was dangerous, and they still needed more data.

Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 48

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Alys wondered how they’d reached a position where most of their allies were insane Sith, but didn’t have the time to consider it in depth. She was still holding nearly four hundred war droids – and eighteen hundred bounty hunter ships – in reserve, and that was heartbreaking. There was so much that needed doing, the ships couldn’t do most of it, and she had to hold some forces for emergencies – but that meant that there were people she could have sent them to help and wasn’t.

Hm… Did this make her one of the largest individual receivers of stolen property in the galaxy? Would that help her negotiate with Hutts in the future? She could almost feel her parents disapproval all the way from Coruscant – although she liked to think that there’d be some pride as well.

Blast it, with the orbital communication links out of action, and the government virtually monopolizing the few existing hardlinks, she couldn’t confirm success at more than half of the other shield generators. At least the vast majority of the Sith activity – including all the Artificers, most of the Droid Army, and all of Jacob’s button-pushing disruptions – had been concentrated around them. Most of the other cities should be in considerably better shape!

Also, fortunately, an awful lot of the people in “their” city had opted to take vacations, visit relatives, or otherwise get out of town for a bit when all the Sith had moved in… There were still a fair number of casualties though – and half the emergency services were (of course) droids, and a fair number of those were scrambled, most of the human supervisors had gone on vacation – probably via hacking the droids to cover for them.

She had several of the reserve ships, and a small contingent of the reserve droids set up in the area so that they could easily move to defend her location. It was an odd thought, but at the moment at least she was a pretty vital control nexus herself.

From orbit, at least with the naked eye, it was difficult to tell that the planet was still there; between the plasma-shroud wrapped around the shields and the radiation storm, communications with the planet were down and instrumental readings were so degraded as to be almost useless. The local fleet commander had pulled back to higher orbits in clear space and referred the matter to his experts… All this nonsense was harmless enough of course; the slight burden on the shields was trivial – but it did make marvelous cover, and they might well have a madwoman equipped with multiple antimatter warheads running about. Fortunately, while the planetary shields stayed up, she would not be able to reach the surface. There was a strong possibility of an insurrection of course – a series of unexplained events on an occupied planet was a strong indicator of that, and it would obviously be to such a rebellion’s advantage to strike while the shields were up and communications were down – but he had his contingency plans in place for that.

Ben and Jacob were trying to reach Smooche. It looked like Kira and Lazlo were going to need a private miracle to deal with Lecrouss – and all of his apparatus was committed at the moment.

It proved unexpectedly easy to cross the town… As long as it was simply droids his precognition stood him in good stead, and most of the other groups had better things to do than to get involved with a modest contingent of war droids and a couple of “prisoners”.

Unfortunately, the battle around the spaceport was NOT so easy to get by. Missiles, craters, lots of random fire, droids laying siege versus the spaceport defenses and Smooche’s droids, and half of it on movement-response or semi-random. Enough to swamp immediate precognition.

Not enough to stop longer-scale stuff though. It was just barely possible that he’d get through on a run – especially if he asked Alys to clear out an area and try to overload the starport shields for a bit – but the chance of success was small and the chance of being killed was depressingly high. The only really good odds were with going underground – and most of the spaceport substructure was depressingly solid.

There were a couple of tunnels and trenches though – mostly with squads of droids trying to get through. There was s good possibility that they could use that. Wait. There was another possible entrance… one that the droids weren’t bothering with.

He had Alys do some very hurried research. There was an old tunnel that had been… Sealed off because a ship had crashed over it and left it unstable and it had been… cheaper to seal it off than to fix it. It was too narrow, and too unstable for war droids – so they weren’t bothering with it.

WERE THESE PEOPLE PHYSICALLY ALLERGIC TO DOING ANYTHING RIGHT!?!? Sure it was convenient at the moment, but SEALING IT UP WAS NOT THE WAY TO DO CITY MAINTENANCE!

It was still his and Jacob’s best shot. They got their chameleon systems activated, and headed for the tunnel.

Lazlo and I had found an overpass near the stadium that at least gave us some indication of what was going on inside. We could see about 300 droids in the section we had a clear line of sight on. Extrapolating from there gave us over a thousand droids inside the stadium with another two thousand surrounding the place. That was way too many droids to try and handle without one of Ben’s contraptions. Nevermind the Necromantic Artificer I sensed wandering around inside the stadium. I couldn’t get a clear view of Lecrouss himself, but I could see droids hauling in vans full of snacks and such into the stadium. It wasn’t like we had the equipment to do any sniping anyway.

Well, on the plus side, that implied that he wasn’t out to kill the children immediately and was at least putting in a modicum of effort into keeping them calm. That was encouraging on some level but it also made whatever he was planning feel more ominous. In fact, the whole situation felt ominous, like a major storm was approaching over the horizon and I was feeling the chill in the air. Something very important was about to happen and I wasn’t sure what it was. Nor was I sure I could stop it if I had to.

Lazlo spotted a commotion before I did. Looking where he was pointing took a moment for the contact lenses to refocus before I saw a bunch of teenagers heavily modifying a school bus. Details were still hard to make out, but it did look like they were welding plating to the bus along with a nearby stack of missiles.

Oh for the love of….. they couldn’t possibly be so stupid as to believe that would work.

I leapt off the overpass and onto the street below. From there I made straight for the staging area they were using. I heard Lazlo land on the ground behind me as he hustled to catch up. The teenagers saw me before I got to the staging area as they suddenly started lining up with missiles pointed at me. I was readily able to dodge the four missiles aimed at me as I started verbally berating them over the brilliance of their “plan”. Apparently the idiots thought that such “massive firepower” pointed my way would be enough to get me to surrender.

The ensuing argument wasn’t going anywhere, even if arguing was better than active idiocy, when a yellow blur of to my side caught my eye. A quick glance showed that one of the kids had started up the school bus and was attempting to run Lazlo and I down. Lazlo rolled to the side as I made to leap over the bus. Unfortunately, my power responded a bit more forcefully than I anticipated as I went up at bad angle. I then hit the top of the bus, rolled several times, and then hit the pavement face first. Not very graceful to be sure, I then stood up and began brushing myself off when I heard the beeping of a backup alarm. I only had sufficient time to turn around as the rear door impacted my face.

That knocked me back down, and the bus proceeded to back over me. Then, once I was firmly in the middle of the repulsor field, it parked. This was embarrassing to say the least as I looked at the underside of the bus above me. I saw one of the kids try to attack me with a welding torch only to find that the repulsor field was deflecting the flame. Annoyed, I gave serious thought to just using my full power to stand up and throw the bus off of me. That at least would intimidate the teenagers and maybe convince them to drop this insane plan of theirs.

Meanwhile, Lazlo was taking small arms away from the youngsters… Apparently they were smart enough to avoid trying to use missiles in a small area… And were apparently trying to avoid drawing the attention of the war droids.

Wait; how were they managing to avoid being picked up by the droid patrols? They were well within the defense perimeter already.

Alys was wondering the same thing… Had they managed to hack the droid programs while an Artificer was in direct control of them? That would be an incredible feat… No; they’d hacked the city records the war droids were using; they’d… simply listed a dozen or so areas, and some of the entryways to the stadium as being impassable or unusable – and the droids were simply ignoring the places where people couldn’t be.

That was actually pretty clever – and another strike against he “droid army” idea – but there had to either be some reason why it wouldn’t work or something fouling up precognition – or Lecrouss would have picked up on it already.

Hm. Actually that was kind of discouraging. No wonder people thought that only a Jedi could stop a Sith; if they were likely to be stopped by anyone who couldn’t avoid precognition, they just didn’t show up.

Meanwhile, back with Kira…

No, probably wasn’t smart to do that while I was this annoyed. I am not going to fall to the Dark Side just because some punk kids managed to run me over with a bus. Well, if using Force abilities was out of the question right now, then there was only one thing left to try. Stepping into Hypertime, I felt the effects of the repulsor lessen significantly. I rolled to one side and then resumed my verbal assault on them. I heard the school bus start up again as the driver made to run me over again. This time I was ready for it.

Entering Hypertime once again, I rammed my fist through the windshield and removed the keys from the starter. I then leapt back onto the street in front of the bus and twirled the keys on my finger. I saw Lazlo had systematically disarmed the other teenagers of all their missiles as well. The driver looked at the hole in the windshield, the glowing hot sections of the hood where my feet had been, and then at me taunting him with the keys. He determination then wilted at that point.

They finally agreed I wasn’t likely to be a Sith since I hadn’t even bothered to kill any of them. There were still a good number of arguments regarding Ben’s destruction of the universe, hacking droids, my competence, and trying to remain hidden. We determined that they had more school buses being prepared like this one and I got Alys to send some droids to them all to start coordinating this nonsense. It looked like their plan was nothing more than drive in – relying on the droids not starting to fire immediately for some reason – and fire volleys of missiles at Lecrouss in hopes of overwhelming him before he could kill the kids.

I can’t believe they would consider something so idiotic. The number of children likely to die in that scenario was staggering. Even if they did win, the casualties would make it a symbolic victory for the Sith and dishearten the population even further. That can’t be allowed to happen when we are so close to liberating the place. I told the teenagers to go home and find shelter, but they insisted on being prepared to intervene if I screwed up. They especially were not happy to find out my plan was to enter, talk, and try to stall as long as I could for either my companions to do something, or for Lazlo and I to try to kill Lecrouss.

Alys came over the commlink and said something about the kids having set up multiple dead zones of some sort to keep the Sith droids from finding them. Not really understanding what she was describing verbally, I told her to do what she could to prevent Lecrouss from getting more children while keeping these teens from doing something stupid. She didn’t seem happy with the idea, but went along with it for now.

Out at the spaceport, Ben and Jacob had reached the tunnel entrance – and Jecob promptly used his lightsaber collection to slice through the seal.

Unfortunately, that drew the attention of the Droids – and so Jacob tried to pick up Ben and go for a high-speed flythrough. Between Ben’s precognition and his droid-brain augmented piloting system, he nearly made it too. He was approaching the crater that would let them exit inside the spaceport when he dodged a partial blockage and found that there wasn’t any floor to repulse himself from.

Ben promptly provided a panicked force-boost up – while Jacob poured power into his repulsor systems to boost himself off the walls. Between them, they were abruptly headed for the ceiling at very high speed.

Jacobs armor and shields were not enough, although the shield-overload cracked the pavement above. He was stunned by the collision – but Ben figured that he was going to die. He REALLY wanted Kira’s phasing ability right then (and the player had banked enough XP to buy it on the spot). He passed through the stone like a wisp of mist, and found himself drifting up into the sky as a see-through ghost.

Naturally enough, he concluded that he’d been killed instantly – and dropped back to first rescue, and then haunt, Jacob.

Jacob was not pleased at the prospect of being haunted until he died or got eaten by Zandramas, but it was hard to argue with a cranky force-ghost.

With more controlled levitation Ben helped Jacob get out of the pit, and then into the spaceport – and Jacob promptly got poked by one of Smooche’s droids and… instantly frozen?

How was that… a subspace transfer. Instantaneous loss of radiant energy. Damned close to absolute zero in a single instant. Clever, if impractical for normal folk… The droids stuck Jacob in a freezer for later thawing (or disposal) and – since force ghosts were Smooches business – pointed him towards the lab.

Wait, if he was a force ghost, how could the Droids see him? Was it just that they were being boosted by an Artificer? At least Smooche was willing to thaw Jacob and help set up the electricity-draining effect to help out Kira with the droids.

Meanwhile, some of the better bounty hunters had been doing some signal-tracing – which wasn’t easy at the moment. They’d narrowed Alys position down quite a bit, and were headed that way. They wanted their ships back – and it looked like whoever was behind the hacking might really be the group mastermind. A big prize, especially with all those stolen Sith resources…

Back with Kira and Lazlo…

That left Lazlo and I walking towards the stadium. Eventually once we got close enough, one of the droid patrols intercepted us and demanded to know who we were. Identifying ourselves as Kira Keldav and Lazlo, the droids then proceeded to demand we surrender. Which led to a most…. interesting scenario as we surrendered and the droids were confused as to what to do about it. When asked, the droids then revealed that they had been ordered to apprehend some 2,416 individuals. 314 of those had been dead over two hundred years. Another 689 were believed to be fictional, and the remaining 1,413 were probably not within a thousand light years of this world.

That was….. disturbing. I mean, Xiang being unable to distinguish what was real and what was fantasy was one thing, but this was on another level of delusion entirely. It looks like Lecrouss was even unable to tell that someone had been dead for centuries. Either he was that focused on his task, or something else had badly damaged his mind to this extent. What information we got from Ichara and Smoche was that Lecrouss was more than a bit odd, even by their standards.

Eventually the droids decided to escort us to Lecrouss to get further directions. They then proceeded to disarm me as best they could, but only found the lightsaber on my belt. All the stuff I had hidden in secret pockets was nicely overlooked. Once inside the stadium, I could see approximately a thousand children in here and close to five hundred droids on the inside. Droids were busily handing out snacks and treats while also keeping the children divided into two groups.

They had a problem with Lazlo too, since he was listed as an indestructible bioweapon – and was supposedly capable of nigh-infinite feats of strength. As a Jedi, disarming Kira just meant taking away his lightsaber. Disarming Lazlo was impossible… Ergo, they rummaged through the listing of restraints until they found one for immensely-strong entities that was supposed to be unbreakable.

They insisted that he take a Wookie oath of surrender before letting him in.

Why they were keeping them divided was unclear, but we saw Lecrouss walking amongst one group. As he touched each child in turn, the child would then be escorted to the other group. All I was initially able to sense was that something really weird was happening with the Force as he touched them, but Lazlo whispered that Lecrouss was creating links of some sort with the children. Once he pointed it out to me, it became easier to see what was happening.

It looked superficially like the Pyramid Technique Lazlo had learned back on Chyran. However, something wasn’t right with it, as it looked to actually be controlled as opposed to that poorly aimed mess Lazar used. Then I realized why the Force looked so odd while he did it, he was using the Codex to limit the feedback and throughput. At first I thought it a monotalent, but then I saw indications that he was actively balancing the power flows himself. This wasn’t a natural monotalent, but an accurate mimicking of a monotalent using the Force and Codex!

Oh hell.

That meant this nut was a hybrid on some level too. And that he had figured out how to do one of the major tricks that would give a hybrid a major leg up on Sith and Faded. Finally, Lecrouss noticed Lazlo and I and demanded to know who we were. Introducing ourselves didn’t get a lick of recognition. Lecrouss turned to the droids and demanded an explantion. The droids then proceeded to recount a description of who we were, why he had wanted us, and then informing him that we had surrendered to his custody.

The sheer amount of time and information it took for recognition to hit him was disheartening to say the least. I was really hoping for a reaction like Smooche and Ichara where they immediately focused on me to the exclusion of all else while they tried to get the information they wanted. Lecrouss then said something to the effect of “low priority” and then went back to work binding the children.

Lazlo at least succeeded in getting him talking to us while he did it. That slowed Lecrouss down some and got him talking about the process he was doing. From that jumbled mess of mysticism and fictional lore, I got some inkling as to what he thought he was doing and what it might mean with regards to the use of monotalents, but I was going to have to review the recordings of the conversation repeatedly with the others to really make any sense of that load of nonsense. When he started going on about undead stars and the death of the cosmos, I felt the need to point out that not even black holes really were undead in any sense.

This then prompted the question from Lecrouss as to how else to save civilization from “Heat Death” if not through necromantic unlife? I really didn’t want to go into details about the Final Empire, but I did tell him I felt any prognosis about final fate of the galaxy was extremely premature. Lazlo chastised me on believing I could alter the final fate of the universe all by myself. I almost pointed out that the Final Empire recorded our group by names as the people that made it possible to avoid the “Heat Death”.

I wasn’t sure if that was an arrogant argument to make or not.

Jacob, meanwhile, had been dispatched with some of Smooche’s war-droids – while Ben and Smooche built weird devices – to get the stasis generator they’d left behind.

Unfortunately, there turned out the be a Sith, one of Zandramas’s possessed agents, and a bunch of droids trying to investigate it. Apparently the Sith had been trying to push things in with a massive force-ram, and had been exerting hundreds of tons of pressure on something just past the edge of the field (the first droid he’d put in) for hours now.

Jacob managed to dive in despite nearly getting caught – but was unable to keep the Sith from getting a partial link onto him. Worse, he dived in, started to fall, touched the droid that had been being accelerated at hundreds of G’s by the Force-ram for hours, which jerked ahead, and stopped in stasis while he fell to it, and so on repeatedly – thanks to Jacob being a little stunned – until it drilled it’s way through the floor, came out the bottom of the field, and turned into a fireball which blew Jacob back up through the field and – thanks to the stabilizing thrusts of his droid-brain controlled repulsors – straight back up the shaft he’d created to confront the Sith.

He then fell back in – but found the Sith was stronger than he was by a substantial margin, and – now that he had a good telekinetic grip – was pulling him back out.

He pulled the generator to himself – and once the Sith was inside, and was relying on Jacob to supply him with time, dispatched him relatively easily. After that, escaping with the generator, and getting back with it, wasn’t too hard. He was very hard to stop while carrying a second stage stasis generator, even if he was encumbered by another one of Zandramas’s minions.

When he got back to the Spaceport, Ben and Smooche were almost ready to head for the stadium.

Nonetheless, as Lazlo and Lecrouss talked about links, I spent more time watching the process at work. That, combined with Lazlo’s questions and Lecrouss’s answers gave me a better estimate of what Lecrouss was able to use the links for. It did look like the children would get a minor trickle of power flow back along the link so that they would be a little healthier and such, but the majority of the benefit went to Lecrouss. He can a significant power boost drawing on so many like that, and attempts to kill him would result in probably fatal damage being transferred to half of the children at least. This combined with his already considerable power made the prospect of fighting him dismal.

I saw Zandaras’s minion watching us closely, but did my best to shield my Force presence to the level of a minor apprentice. I wasn’t sure enough about what the relationship was between Zandaras and Lecrouss to risk taking out the Zandaras minion just yet. Hopefully I will get enough warning that things are about to go sour to take out the minion first.

Meanwhile Lazlo was able to get some history out of Lecrouss and a bit more on his motivations. Apparently, Lecrouss and his wife had a deep link between them. That sounded like the Bonding thing I’ve heard about in Holos and such where two affectionate Force users become closely linked and share a deep resonating bond. Exact details always seemed to vary with the writers, but in general the whole thing had a mystical romantic air to it.

Lecrouss also had lesser bonds with his children too. Unfortunately, it looked like his family was killed in a space disaster some time ago. The trauma of the loss deeply affected his mind and resulted in a downward spiral into madness. This led to an obsession with reviving his dead family through whatever means necessary. The combination of the trauma, obsession, and Dark Side induced madness had left his mind more or less an empty shell of his former self.

In many ways, I think it would be fair to say that Lecrouss died the day his family did. His body just hasn’t caught up yet. Something about that started sounding alarms in the back of my brain though, but I don’t know why.

The bonds he was creating looked like something I could sever, but Lecrouss was bound to resist the effort once he became aware of it. Unfortunately, he had enough power to readily overwhelm my efforts if he wanted to. Distance would help, but our ability to take the children offworld was rather limited right now, and I wasn’t going to let this madman run loose while we worked on ending the siege.

I really hated to be asking yet another favor of A-Valerie and Akira, but they were growing to be our only choice in the matter. If we could send the children to the Codifier Galaxy to break the bonds, then we stood a chance of pulling it off. But that meant we had to get the children away from him first. Lazlo solved that when he got Lecrouss to agree to let us take the children already processed by him. The order then went out to the droids to give us the right permissions for that.

That neatly cleaned up the necessary point of dealing with the droids once Lecrouss was incapacitated. We could evacuate the children and the droids won’t raise a finger to stop us. Cutting off the supply of additional children should then give us the chance to keep him from linking more while we evacuate this batch. Now we just needed to find a way to incapacitate him before he can give new orders to the droids.

I called Alys over the commlink and asked her to send a ship to let us begin the evacuation process. While we waited for the ship, I heard Lazlo and Lecrouss discussing links again. The conversation had swung back around to necromancy and undeath when Lecrouss then offered a demonstration of something undead. At first I thought he was going to do something to one of the children, but he just waved his hand and announced that they would arrive from the cemetary shortly.

Shortly thereafter a ship appeared above the stadium as it manuevered for a place to land. Suddenly I felt a massive surge of Force power coming from Lecrouss. Turning to look at him, I saw that he had gripped the ship with telekinesis and was steadily pulling it to the ground with raw power. This was even more unnerving when I saw the ship fire it’s thrusters hard to try and counter the effect. Within moments Lecrouss had forced the ship to land and was examining it. Then he dismissed it as just a droid piloting it and flung the ship back into the air.

I asked Lecrouss to leave the ship alone since it was one of ours. This started the line of inquiry from him as to why we had bounty hunter ships piloted by droids, but I deflected that with the comment that we were very good at stealing the property of our enemies. Lecrouss eventually relented and allowed the ship to land. I started directing the children aboard the ship. Soon enough it was full and left and Alys said another one would be arriving shortly.

This led to an argument between all the different party members over what to do with the situation. Ben was not happy to hear I wanted a Trans-Temporal Hypertunnel again. Alys wasn’t happy with the request on my end to evacuate the city. Lazlo wanted to try and reform Lecrouss. I argued that Lecrouss was practically dead and there wasn’t anything left to reform. I argued that Lecrouss was so far gone, he took the cake. On second thought, Lecrouss didn’t just take the cake, he took the brownies, the cupcakes, the doughnuts, and the entire friggin bakeoff. The argument got dropped at that point as it was established that first priority was limiting the damage to the children.

Meanwhile, a commotion had started among some of the children on the far side of the stadium. Focusing my attention in that direction, I saw the children were upset by a pair of shambling corpses coming our way. I quickly verified the…. undead were not hurting the children yet and held my position. Looking at them closely through the Force, I couldn’t really say they were what I would have expected for an undead monstrousity. As best as I could tell, the only reason the things were moving was because Lecrouss was actively supplying energy to it moving. once that ran out, it would shortly thereafter stop.

Not all that different from what Ichara and the other Artificers do with machines.

Lazlo then asked a question about how could such an arrangement possibly be self sustaining. Then my precognition started shouting warnings at me as I saw Lecrouss announce he was going to use one of the kids to give a more effective demonstration. I felt a massive surge of power build up as I can only guess Lecrouss was about to kill the small child.

Without even really thinking, I flashed into Hypertime and tackled Lecrouss with all the power I could. We rolled several times as I felt massive wave of necromatic energy wash over me. That didn’t do any crippling damage so far – although it looked like Lazlo had pulled his grounding trick again and taken most of the blast. He obviously couldn’t survive doing that again though. I could see Lecrouss’s furious face slowly turn to look at me as we stopped rolling and I could sense he was about to fire off another serious blast. Keeping a firm grip on Lecrouss, I reached down with my other hand and pressed the button on the Ultimate Dodge belt Ben had given me. Everything then went white.

When awareness returned, I found myself situated in a swirling mist of blue and white. I could tell I was slowly losing air, but it looked like the Codex environment technique activated unconsciously to slow things down. I pulled out the breath mask I had on my belt and put it on. That bought me more time, but I wasn’t sure how much I needed or whether there was any point to it.

Lecrouss was nowhere that I could see, although the concept of place was more than a bit odd here. At least that meant I didn’t have an insane necromantic Sith out for revenge to deal with right now. Looking down at the Ultimate Dodge belt, I was dismayed to see the amount of heavy damage it had taken. I didn’t need Codex probability analysis to guess the thing wasn’t going to be able to take me back. Given that and the fact Lecrouss was nowhere to be seen, I concluded something had gone drastically wrong with Ben’s design.

Well crap.

The odds of the others being able to mount a rescue were abysmal. Any other form of outside intervention coming into play was inconceivable. That meant I was on my own to figure a way out of this mess. I know intuitive navigation can help with plotting courses through hyperspace, but I wasn’t even sure what traveling through hyperspace even meant in this scenario. That also didn’t give me any clue as to what to do about transitioning back to normal space either. I seriously doubt the Jedi or the Sith had any techniques for moving through hyperspace without a ship.

Blast it!

This day hasn’t gone well from the start. The schoolbus was just an omen to this humiliating disaster. At least I might have given the others time to figure out how to deal with Lecrouss and save the children. That did bring me some small measure of comfort as I “float” wherever I am. There has to be a way out of this….

I then became aware of a strong pulsing link to me. It was the only such thing I could sense out here in this…. mist. Not really understanding what I was doing, I reached out instinctively and grasped that thread. I could sense another person on the other side of it, but the details were hard to make out. Not really knowing what else to do, I gently tugged a few times on the thread and found it to be solid. With that confirmation, I took a firm grip on the thread and pulled myself towards it.

Again everything went white.

Back at the stadium, there had been initial confusion when Kira and Lecrouss had vanished – but they’d kept Lecrouss talking long enough; Ben and Jacob and Smooche had arrived before the Droids had sorted out what to do and shut them down with the electrical-drain trick for long enough for all those kids with missile launchers to blow most of them up and Jacob had used the stasis generator to clean up the remainder.

Unfortunately, it seemed that Lecrouss was both active in hyperspace, capable of surviving there, and capable of projecting his power through the children he was linked to. They’d have to keep them in stasis until they could get them out of Lecrouss’s range.

Hopefully Kira was still alive – but the prospects were dim. He should have gone to wherever Lecrouss had – yet Lecrouss seemed to be free to try and exploit his links with the kids. That didn’t sound good for Kira.

System Inventory

Basic Role-Playing

Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to a special request – “what could we play?” here’s a quick survey of the games currently on my shelves. There are probably a few more buried in boxes and things, and there are quite a lot more on PDF – but it’s hard to hand a PDF to someone at the table and let them leaf through it, so I prefer to run games I actually have a physical copy of if possible.

Obviously enough, this is going to be a giant list: sorry about that, but there’s just no other way. Note that this does NOT include sub-games, supplements, and d20 stuff in general except to note the presence of the d20 category. That would boost the length of this list many times over.

  1. 2300 AD
  2. 7’th Sea
  3. Aberrant
  4. Ace Supers
  5. Ace Agents
  6. AD&D (first and second editions, with innumerable settings and supplements)
  7. Adventure (the White Wolf version).
  8. Adventures in Fantasy
  9. After Wars
  10. Aftermath (a game with the most complex combat flowchart around).
  11. Agone
  12. Alternity
  13. Amazing Engine (with an assortment of worldbooks).
  14. Amber (still one of the few systems out there that gets along without a randomizer).
  15. Apocalypse
  16. Arcanum
  17. Arduin
  18. Aria (a game where characters, clans, and societies use pretty much the same rules).
  19. Army Ants (literally; you play militarized insects battling it out in the back yard).
  20. Ars Magica (one of the few RPG’s that embraces troupe play).
  21. Asylum (where hallucinogens from the sky have made the entire human race psychotic).
  22. Attack of the Humans
  23. Baba Yaga (designed for a WWII game with a bit of mysticism, but a universal system).
  24. Basic Role-Playing System (the base for Runequest, Nephelim, Call of Cthulhu, and many more).
  25. Basic D&D (and assorted expansions)
  26. Bastet (an Old World of Darkness race).
  27. Batman (a stripped-down version of DC Heroes).
  28. Battlelords
  29. Beyond the Supernatural
  30. Big Eyes Small Mouth (the original Tri-Stat system).
  31. Birthright (Included as separate from normal AD&D thanks to the boardgame aspect).
  32. Blood Dawn
  33. Blood of Heroes
  34. Bloodshadows
  35. Boot Hill
  36. Brave New World (a world where your superpowers are usually less effective than buying a gun – and the upgraded version of the game never came out).
  37. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  38. Bullwinkle and Rocky (OK, this one is for kids – but it’s still a role-playing game that includes hand puppets to help you show what your character is doing).
  39. Bureau 13 (if someone wants Ghostbusters, this is a good contender).
  40. Bushido (one of the classics when it comes to oriental role playing games).
  41. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (this would doubtless have attracted me more if I’d ever read the original comic).
  42. Call of Cthulhu (not the d20 version, that’s under general d20. Still a classic).
  43. Castle Falkenstein
  44. Chainmail (again, not exactly a RPG, but ancestral).
  45. Champions / Hero System (1’st through 5’th edition).
  46. Changeling, The Dreaming
  47. Children of the Sun
  48. Chill
  49. Chivalry and Sorcery
  50. Chosen
  51. Continuum
  52. Continuum II (one of my personal rules sets).
  53. Corax (another Old World of Darkness were-race).
  54. CORPS
  55. Cosmic Enforcers
  56. Creature Feature (technically an expansion for Chill, but turning it around to play the monsters is pretty much a whole new game).
  57. Critter Commandos (for kids, but where else can all your soldiers be represented by stuffed animals?)
  58. Cybergeneration (amusing, if unlikely – and featuring nanotech that might as well be magic).
  59. Cyberpunk
  60. Cyberspace (a Rolemaster supplement, but one that really rewrites the world).
  61. Cyborg Commando (not one of Gygax’s better efforts unfortunately).
  62. d20 (3.0, 3.5, Future, and far too many variants to list)
  63. d20 Eclipse Point Buy
  64. d6 (Fantasy and assortment)
  65. Danger Quest
  66. Dangerous Journeys (another one of Gygax’s, and with potential – if a bit turgid in spots).
  67. Dark Conspiracy
  68. DC Heroes
  69. Deadlands (original and d20. A nicely original system and an evocative world. If you want to try it, go for the original).
  70. Demon City Shinjuku
  71. Demons
  72. Dominion Tank Police
  73. Don’t Look Back
  74. Dragon Quest (complete with that wonderful list of summonable demons).
  75. Dragon Hordes (more of a war game really, but some RPG aspects).
  76. Dream Park (a game where your playing a player of a character who can adapt to the game system. Best if you’ve read the books and know what you’re getting into).
  77. Dreamtime
  78. Duel
  79. Dying Earth (the original “Vancian” setting).
  80. Earthdawn
  81. El-Hazard (a Tri-Stat production, but essentially a separate game).
  82. Elfquest
  83. Elric
  84. Empire of the Petal Throne (Tekumal, and a seriously old-style classic).
  85. Enforcers
  86. Everlasting
  87. Everway
  88. Exalted (a nigh-unplayable rules set with errata that – at more than 160 pages – is longer than many games, but with White Wolf’s usual highly-readable fluff).
  89. Expendables
  90. Extreme Vengeance
  91. Fading Suns
  92. Fantasy Wargaming
  93. Fantasy Earth
  94. Feng Shui
  95. Fifth Cycle
  96. Forge out of Chaos
  97. Forgotten Futures
  98. Fringeworthy
  99. Furry Pirates
  100. Fusion
  101. Galactic Underground
  102. Gamma World (in both original and updated styles).
  103. Gangbusters
  104. Gatecrasher
  105. Gemini
  106. Geriatric Wars
  107. Ghostbusters (honestly, I’d use Bureau 13; it’s a lot more flexible).
  108. Giant Psychic Insects from Outer Space (OK, technically this goes with Don’t Look Back – but how could I pass up including this title?)
  109. Godlike (a one roll engine game, with a bunch of sample characters on this site under the “other games” tab at the top of the page).
  110. Godsend Agenda
  111. Greeping Death
  112. Gurahl (another Old World of Darkness subrace, but of some interest).
  113. GURPS (Cyberpunk, Discworld, Horror, Ice Age, Illuminati U, Lensman, Martial Arts, (The) Prisoner, Riverworld, Space, Special Ops, Supers, Swashbuckling, Time, Wild Cards, etcetera).
  114. Gypsy (Old World of Darkness)
  115. Hahlmabria (a very generic, and extremely forgettable, D&D clone).
  116. Harnmaster
  117. Heavy Metal
  118. Hengeyokai (Old World of Darkness East)
  119. Hero Wars (Glorantha)
  120. Heroes Unlimited
  121. Heroes Forever
  122. Heroes and Heroines
  123. High Colonies
  124. Hunter (Old World of Darkness).
  125. Imagine
  126. Immortal (very atmospheric, and with lovely art, but rather difficult to play).
  127. In Nomine (where both the angels and the demons are friggin’ nuts (TM))
  128. Indiana Jones (where your heroes are close to unkillable).
  129. Infinite Domains
  130. Insectia
  131. Iron Wind
  132. Ironclaw
  133. It Came from the Late Late Late Show (this one is a lot of fun; you’re an actor in a BAD movie).
  134. Jadeclaw
  135. James Bond OO7
  136. Justifiers (the system is hopelessly creaky, but the background is nice. I’d use Baba Yaga for this).
  137. Kindred of the East (Old World of Darkness again).
  138. Kult
  139. Land of the Rising Sun (a Chivalry and Sorcery spin-of, and as hard to play as that ever was).
  140. Legacy: War of Ages
  141. Legantia
  142. Legend Quest
  143. Legend of the Five Rings (we usually use a point-buy adaption that allows for building your own schools)
  144. Legendary Lives
  145. Lexicon Atlantis
  146. Little Fears (a game about being a child with horrible things after you. Not… pleasant).
  147. Lords of Creation
  148. Lost Souls
  149. Macho Women with Guns (once a joke, later a game – but where are the motorcycle aztec wrestling nuns? And how badly does even remembering that joke date me? Even more than the rest of this list?).
  150. Maelstrom
  151. Mage, The Ascension
  152. Man, Myth, and Magic
  153. Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP system. A lot of fun really, and character generation is a game in itself. There’s some stuff for this under the Other Games tab)
  154. Marvel Super Heroes (Current card-based system)
  155. Masterbook (the TORG successor).
  156. Masters of the Mind
  157. Mechanical Dream
  158. Mechwarrior
  159. Mega
  160. Megatraveler (an “updated” version of Traveler that more or less came and went).
  161. Mekton II
  162. Men in Black
  163. MERP / Middle Earth Role Playing
  164. Metabarons (what happened when West End lost the Star Wars license).
  165. Metamorphosis Alpha
  166. Midnight at the Well of Souls
  167. Millenniums End
  168. Mokole (Another race from the Old World of Darkness)
  169. Multiverser
  170. Mummy (Old World of Darkness)
  171. Murphy’s World (Monty Python meets AD&D meets the Apocalypse).
  172. Musketeers
  173. Mutants and Masterminds (d20, but sufficiently different to get it’s own listing).
  174. Mutazoids
  175. Nephelim (Original secretive-entities from ages past version).
  176. Nexus
  177. Nightbane (notable for creating REALLY random characters…)
  178. Nightlife
  179. Ninjas and Superspies
  180. Nobilis
  181. Noir
  182. Of Gods and Men
  183. One Roll Engine (the system for Monsters and Other Childish Things and assorted other games).
  184. Oriental Adventures (Not the d20 version, worth noting as being essentially AD&D 1.5)
  185. Ork
  186. Over the Edge (if this got much more “Rules-Lite” it would evaporate entirely).
  187. Palladium Fantasy Role Playing
  188. Pandemonium
  189. Paranoia (in various editions).
  190. Pelicar
  191. Pendragon (perhaps THE game of arthurian romance).
  192. Powers and Perils
  193. Price of Freedom
  194. Prime Directive
  195. Prince Valiant
  196. Project Twilight
  197. Providence
  198. Ravenstar
  199. Realm of the Gateway
  200. Recon (sneak-sneak-sneak-BLAM-you’re dead… the game is better than actually doing it, but it’s still rather less fun than you might think).
  201. RIFTS (and far too many supplements and worldbooks).
  202. Robin Hood
  203. Robotech
  204. Rolemaster (the closest any game has yet come to a complete list of everything).
  205. Rune (viking slaughterhouse. Need I say more?)
  206. Runequest
  207. S.LA Industries
  208. Saurions (a long-forgotten derivative of Chivalry and Sorcery).
  209. Sengoku
  210. Senzar
  211. Shadowrun (still one of the best, at least if you stick to editions 1-3).
  212. Shalkith Last Kin
  213. Shatterzone
  214. Ship of Fools
  215. Skyrealms of Jorune (for those who want a really exotic background).
  216. Sorcerer (White Wolf, in assorted versions)
  217. Space Master (Rolemaster version).
  218. Space 1889
  219. Spacemaster (yes, this is entirely separate from the Rolemaster version).
  220. Spacetime
  221. Spookshow (ever wonder why intelligence agents are called “spooks”? Now you’ll know).
  222. Star Wars (d6, the d20 version is included in the general d20 listing)
  223. Star Frontiers
  224. Star Trek RPG
  225. Stormbringer
  226. Sun and Storm
  227. Suzerain
  228. System Failure
  229. Tales of Gargenthar
  230. Tales from the Floating Vagabond
  231. Talislanta (a simple system but a nicely detailed world and background).
  232. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  233. Teenagers from Outer Space (have you seen my popcorn grenade? Oh wait! It’s under your seat!)
  234. Tenchi Muyo (another Tri-Stat production).
  235. The Fantasy Trip (Melee, Wizard, and Into the Labyrinth)
  236. The Blood
  237. The Primal Order
  238. Thieves World (a nice system if you want to focus on stealth and illegal operations).
  239. Throwing Stones
  240. Time Master
  241. Timelords (a Dr Who system)
  242. Timelords (A couple more by the same title, but unrelated to Dr Who or to each other).
  243. Tome of Neverworld
  244. Toon (you might as well not bother with a system here, but it’s fun).
  245. Top Secret (along with a bunch of other Hero System genre productions – sci-fi, fantasy, giant robots, and more. The Hero System does best with pulp heroes to superheroes though).
  246. TORG (the war for the multiverse!)
  247. Tractics (ok, it’s not really a RPG, but it was an ancestor of theirs).
  248. Traveler Classic
  249. Traveler, the New Era
  250. Tribe 8
  251. Trinity (psychics versus mutant monstrosities returned from beyond the stars!)
  252. Tunnels and Trolls
  253. Twilight 2000 (this is what you get for picking a near-future date for your game…)
  254. Underground
  255. Universe
  256. Unknown Armies
  257. Unsanctioned
  258. Usagi Yojimbo (yes, it is indeed cartoon rabbit samurai epics).
  259. Vampire, The Middle Ages
  260. Villains and Vigilantes
  261. W.H.A.T. (a generic system – with an acronym standing for nothing that I can recall…)
  262. War Gods (Turned out to be more of a miniatures war game, but usable)
  263. Warhammer Fantasy Role Play
  264. Warlock
  265. Warp World
  266. Waste World
  267. Wasted West
  268. Web of Stars
  269. Web of Heroes
  270. Web of  Horror
  271. Werewolf Wild West
  272. Werewolf the Apocalypse
  273. Whispering Vault (where you get to be horrors from beyond come to save reality).
  274. Witchcraft
  275. Wizard’s World
  276. Wizards (yes, a RPG taken from that old animated film)
  277. World Tree (an extremely well-written and highly recommended game)
  278. World of Darkess (New, and point-buy adaption)
  279. World of Synnibar (Yes, yes, I know, Boo Hiss)
  280. Worlds of Wonder (including psiworld, spaceworld, and superworld as I recall).
  281. Wraith, The Oblivion (a remarkably gray setting with very little in the way of actual goals).
  282. Ysgarth (a game with the most elaborate skills system I have ever seen).

Hm. There seems to be a distinct shortage of RPG’s in my print collection that begin with a “Q”, “X”, and “Z”. I must see if I can fix that. I think there are a few “Xeno-something” games in existence out there.

This also doesn’t include a selection of minigames and one-page things. Those are usually too thin to support an extended campaign.