As usual, here we have Kira’s player log with information on the rest of the characters added so it can serve as a general session log as well.
With Xiang – and her cargo of antimatter missiles – rushing suicidally towards the orbiting Sith fleet, Alys focused on coordinating the various resistance, hacker, governmental, and Artificer factions… There were hyperspace shuttles to get directed – and conceal from the departments of the government that were still under Zandramas’s control – rogue resistance groups to cover for, stasis generators to position, and a hundred other tasks. Somehow, when she’d started off on her hunting trip, she’d never seen herself as coordinator for a planetary insurrection.
Jacob had gotten the hang of the Artificer’s special trick – and was, once again, upgrading his armor; this time with a droid brain to help him control the ship in flight and with his sensors and with a chameleon cloak. The Artificer’s trick was great! It made the suit feel almost as much a part of him as it had been when it was his body!
Ben was frantically tinkering… he’d been focused on the stasis systems for weeks, but with the amount of raw firepower that was shortly going to be flying around, giving everyone one of his “ultimate dodge” hyperspace-stasis systems was the only way that he could see that they were all likely to survive.
The others began commencing with the final preparations for the takeover. Alys was busily coordinating everyone. Ben handed out yet another esoteric device that he called the “Ultimate Dodge”, supposedly it did the same thing to a person that happened to that warehouse days ago. Jacob was hammering yet more expensive equipment into his suit of armor. Lazlo was curled up on a couch napping, and the Bounty Hunters were busily cleaning and checking their weapons.
I took the opportunity to sit down in a quiet place and went through the meditations Telera taught me. As much as I tried to clear my thoughts, my mind kept getting distracted by a problem that has been nagging me for quite some time. I was quite obviously gaining power far more rapidly than I should be. I was even outpacing the rest of the trouble magnets in the party at the rate I was going. And that brought to mind another troubling thought: both Dkira and Ekira had received substantial boosts in power. Dkira had received a lot of experimental enhancements from the Baramour. Ekira had boosted himself using whatever genetic enhancements he could get his hands on.
Yet for all their enhancements, I was able to keep pace with them. Especially in Dkira’s case as I was able to fend him off long enough for the others to kill him with thermal detonators. Yet there should be no way a kid just about to enter his third year as a Force user should have been able to do that. Also interesting was the fact that Akira was roughly my equal in terms of relative power. Yet he too was inexplicably progressing far faster than he had any right to. A-Valerie said as much to me during one of our training sessions together.
Four Kiras, all have received power boosts of some sort. Two of them are readily explained given what we know, and the other two are not. Yet there is a single common factor with both me and Akira: a version of Valerie. Hmm, yes, now that I think about it, I can sense she is at the heart of the matter. How or why I cannot say, but I think the next time she and I meet, we need to talk.
It was next to impossible to not overhear how things were going while in my meditative stance. Apparently the shields went up before Xiang arrived. The shields had been reconfigured to keep the minefield on the inside, which was annoying but expected. Unfortunately, we had created too much of a disturbance to expect the enemy to raise the shields with the mines on the outside. Oh well, since I was able to foresee it, I’ve been able to plan for taking care of it. We’ve got Smoche’s shuttles and we also have armed resistance cells stationed around the globe with a plentiful supply of missiles to shoot down any of the mines Smoche misses.
Reports started coming in regarding the battle with Xiang in orbit. The antimatter warheads came in from extreme long range – apparently the farthest out she was able to target from. This gave plenty of time for the defending Sith ships to raise their shields and prepare their defensive line. From what we were able to gather, the occupation ships were largely undamaged save for a freakish lucky hit on a fighter bay launching a fighter on the largest capital ship. The defending Sith shortly thereafter even reported capturing the ship Xiang had launched from, and some droids – but not her. They had started running sweeps for escape pods, and were keeping the defenses up in the meantime.
Something didn’t seem right about that.
The atmospheric ionization – the planetary shields weren’t nearly enough to stop all the hard radiation from a wave of antimatter blasts – was making communications difficult, but there was a lot of chatter for stopping such a simple attack.
Then came the report that three of the warheads the struck the occupation fleet were duds. I didn’t really understand the signifigance of that fact till Ben reminded me that it was impossible for an antimatter warhead to fail to detonate when destroyed. Ok that makes sense, but then why did they fail to detonate? Alys suspected that was because Xiang had removed the warheads, loaded them and every other warhead she could onto another freighter, and sent the first one in on automatic.
Alys sighed. Xiang had access to the cloaking plating, and was suicidal enough to use it no matter what the disadvantages were – and might be suicidal enough to use antimatter warheads as personal weapons. Worse… all the energy discharges, and radiation, from a wave of antimatter warheads was enough to provide perfect cover for a cloaked approach – with what Ben estimated as at least 40% of the antimatter missiles; they wouldn’t all have fit on the first ship that she’d chosen. Suddenly she was even gladder that the Sith had put the planetary shields up; they were excellent protection from their own ally.
This brought to mind two thoughts. First was that we needed to keep the antimatter warheads under better lock and key in the future. This is not the first time a rogue party member has used the things in a manner not exactly conducive to our goals. I mean, yes, she did manage to get the shields raised, but I have issue with the method itself. A lot of people just got a massive dose of radiation today because of her antics. Second thought that crossed my mind was the fact that this seemed too clever for Xiang. If I had to guess, I would say the tactic is a copy from that holo show of her’s that she reenacted. In which case we could probably get a leg up on predicting her if we found which episode she was acting out.
It seemed the Sith Commander in orbit came to similar conclusions regarding Xiang and another ship as they kept the planetary shields up and began enforcing much stricter rules on ships coming and going without proper identification and inspection. It looked like the fear that Xiang might be trying to sneak in with a few antimatter warheads to use as personal weapons was motivating the occupational authority to react. I still say this implied an admirable level of competence in the Commander, but the others didn’t want to hear it. I just hope whoever is the Commander isn’t Zandaras – or one of his blasted extensions.
Still with the shields up and likely to remain up for the foreseeable future, it was decided that now was the time to strike if we were to have any chance of taking back the planet. Alys was already working the communications system hard trying to coordinate things across the globe. I didn’t envy her the sheer scale of the task before her, but stayed out of trying to assist her. I had the sneaking suspicion that I was going to need everything I could personally bring to bear on a problem soon enough. So I watched and continued my meditations.
Apparently Smoche’s modifications worked without any disastrous failures that we could learn about. We had reports come in of additional EMP’s and radiation blasts hitting the surface, and took that as a sign of successfully intercepted mines. How many we were able to get was impossible to verify at the moment, but I remained hopeful that we got most if not all of them. We got word back that at least a third of the shield generators were now captured and at least theoretically under our control.
Jacob was pleased! Smooche had let him pick the moment to push the big red button, and he’d pushed it when it felt just right to push it, and nothing nasty had happened! Buttons were good things after all!
Ben still wanted to kick himself over that; if he hadn’t been so distracted, he’d have thought of that one long ago – even if it did go against his principles to first de-tune a hyperdrive and then to try to use it near a planetary surface. It guaranteed that it would destroy itself, along with the ship and it’s crew, and everything nearby that it had pulled into hyperspace, in mere milliseconds.
Come to think of it, it was too bad that it wouldn’t work on anything too massive to be pulled into hyperspace, or which had a hyperdrive of it’s own that would ground out the field, or on… Well, come to think of it, it would almost never work. He wasn’t sure if that made him feel better or worse about missing the possibility.
Up above, the hyperspace shuttles had reached an altitude of about ten miles, made a slight “course correction” to point them directly at the mines, and had triggered their hyperdrives… For a minuscule fraction of a second their detuned fields had spread out, pulling a column of air into hyperspace, sweeping over the mines and pulling them into hyperspace – and then beginning to scatter back into normal space as the excess mass, and lack of attunement, turned everything into a mass of subatomic particles falling back into normal space.
There was still some coherence to the fields as they hit the inside of the shield. A fraction of the mass-energy spread out across the inside of the shield – wrapping the planet is a shell of plasma – but the rest dropped back into normal space just outside it, erupting into thirty massive spikes of plasma and hard radiation, with a total energy far in excess of Xiang’s antimatter barrage. For a time the world was wrapped in a radiation storm. The EMP, static, and ionization took out most long-range communications save for the hardlines – including surface-to-orbit communications – along with an awful lot of equipment. Suddenly the planet blazed like a miniature sun, doing an excellent – if unanticipated – job of simulating some horrific planetary cataclysm.
Fortunately, the Shield Generators – hardened military facilities behind secondary shields of their own – stayed online as the stasis generators engaged and the medical-droid / hacking link assault was launched.
Alys even managed to get those hackers organized into running a secondary line of attack in taking over all those Bounty Hunter ships and Sith droids. That bunch she recruited had far greater success than I had anticipated as she was now in remote control of 3,600 ships, 40,000 Sith war droids, and at least four of the shield generators. And all of this was connected directly to her datapad.
Alys was spending force points like water, making sure – via spectacular Bureaucracy checks – that everything was properly organized and went off smoothly. They HAD to get those shield generators into stasis, and take out those mines, and get the droid army under control, steal the bounty hunter’s ships, and… in fact, almost every facet of this had to come off, or they’d have been responsible for the death of a world.
Reports also started coming in that all those war droids the Sith had brought in were now rebooting as the EMP’s and radiation blasts caused even more errors in their programming in addition to the damage Jacob’s little stunt had done earlier. This at least disrupted any sort of organized occupational response for the time being and gave us a substantial leg up on the matter.
At about that time most every Force sensitive in the room became aware of a growing number of people dying above us. Quick checks from Alys revealed that the various Sith droids were now resorting to different protocols in response to the programming damage and the sheer chaos of the situation. What exactly was going on wasn’t clear since communications globally were in a mess and what reports we could get were conflicting. At the very least it looked like some of the droids were now beginning to take hostile action against people. Best bet was that the droids were trying to round people up and dealing with those the resisted harshly.
Ichara thought that THAT was just too bad! People were being killed before she could put them into robots!
Alys starting issuing orders to try and calm things down when I felt an utterly massive burst of power come from Jacob. A wave of soothing calm washed over the area and I suspected the entire planet as I can only assume that Jacob had just pulled on the collective power of the sector to power that. Jacob then announced that he felt that he had just attracted the attention of Zandaras to himself specifically for eating. Why Jacob felt this was surprising in the least was beyond me. To me it’s obvious that the soul devouring bioweapon of destruction would want to consume the soul of a Force user able to pull on the power of an entire sector.
Jacob had indeed pulled massively on the force (spending to get all three rolls to 40+ in order to save as many lives as possible) to spread his wave of calm – and the directions to remain inside, stay safe, and not resist the droids. There’d been so much pain and fear… how could he NOT try to help? Unfortunately, he’d also sensed the unnatural presence of Zandramas – and been sensed. Zandramas was most intrigued, and was now headed their way at top speed to absorb him. He’d had a small link before, and had sensed Jacob’s presence a few times – but this power would be most valuable to him… Jacob also made a note to himself; never upset Alys! She could control the world if she wanted to!
Alys was hoping that she wasn’t going to wind up with a stimsynth addiction after this… Thank the force (oh dear; hopefully not literally!) that she’d trained and interned in project management on Coruscant. Nothing less would have let her hold this mess together for an hour! She’d thought that keeping her friends semi-organized was bad enough, but now she was trying to run what she could reach of the planetary defense network, issue instructions – through a bunch of underage hackers – to thousands of war-droids, direct the efforts of a small fleet, organize the resistance, deal with the bounty hunters, keep a bunch of Sith Artificers (!) from causing disasters, and make sure that the city kept working in the midst of a war zone – all from her datapad.
Fortunately, she kept finding new reserves of strength and skill somewhere. Was that the force too? She wouldn’t have believed herself capable of some of the things she was routinely doing now a mere few months ago.
Blast it… the robots that were still under Sith command were bad enough – and “their” artificers seemed to have managed to bring their droid troops through all the disruptions readily – but half the others had rebooted to damaged programs, and were completely out of control! And those blasted bounty hunters were getting into everything!
Upstairs, at least a portion of Alys’s interference had been traced.
We all became aware of cracks appearing in the dome above us at roughly the same time. There was a suddenly blast and a hole appeared through which droids started dropping through. I got a few seconds warning before Ben activated his Second Stage Stasis system and that gave me sufficient time to go into hypertime and counteract the effect on myself. Khadim and Jacob immediately began to load everyone and everything of importance back into the boring machine to facilitate our escape. I took the opportunity to go underneath the hole our enemies had blown open and looked up.
I saw more droids than I cared to fight on their way down with indications of even more ready to follow. I also saw indications of at least a dozen bounty hunters guiding things too. I briefly toyed with the idea of leaving some thermal detonators waiting for them when they came out of stasis, but decided against it. The stasis field was too valuable as a impenetrable black void for the enemy to throw themselves against right now. I still took a quick tally of everyone present and didn’t see any of the Holosith among them.
Right about the time it occurred to me that escaping via the boring machine was going to be a nonstarter while the area was in stasis, I saw Jacob climb in and start powering on the boring machine. Ah yes, he’s powerful enough to drag major pieces of equipment into his timerate, I don’t know why I forgot that tidbit. We finished loading the boring machine and Jacob took us into the wall we had entered the place through the day before. Soon enough as he followed the tunnel left behind, the others reentered normal time and I suddenly lunged into hypertime for a split second before I stopped the technique. I resumed my meditations while the others argued the situation.
Alys then received reports of the droids making more trouble out in the city. Lazlo, Jacob, and Ben elected to head out into the city and work on damage control on the streets. Alys, 10CH, and Khadim were going to find another secure location and try to keep ahead of the Occupational Forces’ response. For the time being I elected to remain with Alys since my presence on the streets was likely to continue to cause even more chaos. The bounty hunters, unsurprisingly, elected to stay with me. Jacob brought the boring machine to a quiet location in the tunnels underneath the city. He, Ben, and Lazlo prepared to depart when I suddenly got a vision.
I saw a gaunt man dressed in black robes and armor invoking imagery of bone in the middle of a stadium. The stadium was filled with young children, many of them crying, and hundreds of black war droids standing guard. More children were being shepherded in by the droids from across the city. The vision then focused for a moment on the gaunt man in black as I heard a single word resound through my mind.
I don’t get visions that often, and I had never gotten one that vivid or powerful before. Something incredibly bad was about to happen and I think I was just told I needed to intervene. As the hatch to the boring machine began to close, I quickly slipped out to follow Ben, Jacob, and Lazlo, much to the Bounty Hunters’ consternation. I waved at them as Alys came over the commlink demanding answers as the boring machine reentered the bedrock. She didn’t sound happy to be stuck with the Bounty Hunters with only 10CH and Khadim for allies. I told her it was one of those premonition things, but I didn’t think she bought it.
She then announced that as best as she was able to piece together, the enemy droids fell into six groups. First bunch were attempting to capture the space port from the Artificer droids. Second group was seizing various government buildings. Third group was removing youngsters from hospitals, daycares, kindergartens, and schools. Fourth set were busily rounding up stray people and collectiing them in temporarily force-fenced areas outside the city.
Over in the next city, a fifth set of droids were in a stalemate trying to capture one of the shield generators from the droids set to defend the place. And finally a sixth group of droids was attempting to capture pieces of infrastructure around the city, including the regional hypermatter reactor. Amazingly, the vast majority of the droids were engaged in tasks that we could wait to respond to individually or were busily keeping themselves occupied as droids ended up on opposing sides due to the fog of war. Suddenly I understood what Valerie told me of the limited effectiveness of droid armies.
Alys then asked over the commlink what the priorities were for her to send responses to. Primary in my book was critical infrastructure like the regional hypermatter reactor and such. If we lost that, it was conceivable that the shield generator would lose power and then the rest of it all was moot. Similar priorities to other critical infrastructure needed to sustain a population of billions for any length of time. Government buildings, civilians rounded up in fences, and the spaceport could all wait until we could focus on each in turn. The shield facilities were also a priority, but not urgent yet.
That still left the children being rounded up. Whatever was going on there, it needed to be thwarted no matter what. Alys began arranging for what droids she had in her command to create defensive perimeters around the critical infrastructure and what bounty hunter ships she had to begin air lifting children and sickly out ahead of the droid sweeps. Ben, Lazlo, Jacob, and I then began to quietly make our way the remaining distance to the surface.
De’Arc and the bounty hunters shrugged and continued setting up traps and firing posts. Between looking over Alys’s shoulder, the public datafeeds, and their own data sources, a nice defensive position deep underground was looking pretty attractive. Besides… they WERE resisting the Sith, and, on the cash side, Alys had just seized control of more resources than all of them put together could reasonably expect to accumulate in a lifetime of bounty-hunting.
We saw a group of four bounty hunters making their own way down to escape the chaos above ground. We elected to just sneak past them and on up to the surface as opposed to risking a needless confrontation. I set my robes to begin color shifting to match the surrounding environment. It was still nowhere near as good as Valerie’s or especially Ichara’s stealth suit, but it still provided a good deal more cover than nothing. We were about halfway past the bounty hunters when suddenly I became aware of something glowing bright neon green behind me. Turning to look behind me, I saw Ben glowing brightly and frantically hammering at a datapad.
It’s like watching Jacob give a presentation on industrial manufacturing.
This obviously attracted the notice of the bounty hunters who almost immediately recognized Ben and opened fire. Jacob disarmed them telekinetically and I used my own telekinesis to hold three of them against a wall. I had hoped to grab all four of them and then pin them with debris, but that powered armor of theirs was taking all of my concentration to counter. I heard the sounds of battle as the others engaged the one still free, when I saw Ben run up to two of the ones I had pinned. He used that stasis gun of his to put those two into stasis.
Sadly, Jacob had pulled an immense pile of weaponry to himself. That wouldn’t really have been a problem – despite a bad moment with all the knives headed his way – thanks to his armor, but at least one of the bounty hunters had been equipped with those little taser-droid things, and they promptly elected to shock the unauthorized handler. That led to an attempt to take him hostage, and yet more electricity. Stupid droid weapons!
Unfortunately, that dropped those two from my grip as their Force presences winked out. That disruption in my concentration was enough to let the last one fire a flamethrower at Ben. That caused Ben to lose his hold over the two in stasis and they became free. Suddenly the battle we were winning from the start turned ugly fast. I felt Ben go into stasis, and I felt Jacob go unconscious. One of the bounty hunters lost consciousness to Lazlo and he was busily fending off two while I had one still pinned. I couldn’t hold the one and help the others at the same time. Eventually I saw that we were going to lose this battle if I didn’t do something drastic.
Stepping into hypertime, I sliced at all three of the still fighting bounty hunters with my lightsaber as I attempted to disable them all. I managed to seriously wound two of them, but the armor on the third resisted the blade. Blast it, lightsabers in hypertime don’t ever seem to work quite right. Still, that gave time for Jacob to come back around and reenter the fight – and to start treating Ben, who’d nearly burned to death before getting his stasis going.
That brought the numbers fighting on both sides back to parity, and we were still armed with all of our weapons, whereas the bounty hunters were not. We each then focused on a particular opponent. I ended up with one of the two I had wounded earlier. I was armed with my lightsaber whereas he had only a retractible blade mounted to the forearm of his armor. He came slashing along the side at me, hoping to slice the tendons in my arm. It was a simple matter to grab his fist as it came in, twist his arm behind him, and then ram him face first into the wall. The helmet cushioned the impact, but a few more forceful slams into the concrete and he went unconscious.
Looking at the others, I saw Lazlo and Jacob had won their own battles, but with varying degrees of injury. Jacob got to work reviving Ben, while Lazlo and I put the Bounty Hunters into stasis. I elected to just leave them in the corridor for someone to find later. They can wake up with concussions then. I don’t need them causing any more trouble right now.
Heh, this gives new meaning to the phrase “Hit them into next week.”
Then I noticed that some of the flammable gel from the flamethrower had gotten on the shoulder of my robes. It was only a few drops, but the robes still took it without any damage. I was even able to wipe the residue off my shoulder with a brush of my hand. Alright, I am impressed. Tailor Qwuam certainly does good work and not just in terms of looks, but also function. I will certainly need to remember to seek his business in the future.
As we finished the clean up, a group of twenty Sith combat droids approached us. Not sensing any hostile action imminent, I stood confidently and waited for a response. Worst case, I suspect hypertime would be really effective against them since they can’t effectively anchor me to their timerate.
(Droid Commander) Are you Kira Keldav?
(Kira) I am, may I ask why you want to know?
(Droid Commander) We have been assigned to assist you and your companions during this crisis.
Ah, these must be some of the droids Alys had under her command then. Leaving the Bounty Hunters in the road with appropriate signage, we finished making our way to the surface without additional issues. I could hear distant sounds of battle as droids fought droids, while Security and Bounty Hunters made their own contributions to the mess.
Alys then came over the commlink again with another update. She had traced the children being collected back to a stadium near the center of the city. Air reconnaissance showed Lecrouss to be present and one of the government officials possessed by Zandaras. What imagery she was able to get showed Lecrouss wandering among the children trying to be nice and calming. Needless to say that didn’t seem to be working very well.
Alys then sent us layouts of the place and underlying tunnels along with details of the droid distributions. It looked like over a thousand droids had set up a perimeter around the place, with another five hundred or so inside standing guard. That still wasn’t counting the additional thousand or more collecting children from across the city. There was no way we were going to be able to overpower that many droids with the firepower we had available. Let alone do that while a powerful Sith and an extremely dangerous observer are in the middle of it.
I tried running various scenarios for sneaking in and killing Lecrouss only to get abysmal odds back from the Codex. Nor did it help matters that a successful assassination would end up giving Zandaras valuable information about what I do and how. So I needed to incapacitate the Zandaras minion first, but that in turn gave Lecrouss warning of an attack. The loss of surprise with Lecrouss made my already long odds of a win even worse. Plus there was the unknown of how the droids would react to Lecrouss’s defeat. Killing Lecrouss would accomplish nothing if the droids he controlled then went on a killing spree among the children.
Unfortunately, trying to run odds on how the droids themselves would react gave a wide variety of options almost equal probability. I was unsure if that was a sign of how Lecrouss’s and Zandaras’s precognition was interferrring or if that was because some of the droids would follow each of the actions I had assessed. We really needed to disable all the droids at once if we were to have any chance of rescuing the children. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the equipment with us to stasis them all.
Remembering back to Jacob’s experiments with Smoche, I recalled one blast that ended up disabling all the electronics in the city for a few moments. Turning to Ben, I asked if he could rig something up to mimic that effect. Depressingly, he then went into a rant about how that was impossible given the equipment and knowledge he had. At least Ben started talking about rigging something up I didn’t really understand with Smoche’s aid. I told him to get with Smoche and hurry as best he could. I was going to confront Lecrouss and try to buy Ben as much time as I could to pull off a miracle.
Jacob elected to go with Ben to provide protection and to help Ben move as quickly as possible. I figured Lazlo would go with them too, but Lazlo volunteered to come along with me. In ways I was glad to not be going alone, but I had a sneaking suspicion that any attempt to overpower my opponent this time was doomed to failure. This was going to have to be a battle of cunning and stalling for time.
As I began walking to the stadium I could see off in the distance, I heard Telera come on the communications channel.
(Telera) I didn’t have a chance to warn you, but an Artificer’s precognition prevents them from focusing on something fundamentally impossible.
(Kira) I don’t understand.
(Telera) It means that regardless of how outlandish their actual goal may be, if they have remained focused on it, then it must be at least remotely possible for it to work.
(Kira) You can’t be serious…
(Telera) The fact that Lecrouss and the others focused on your group so much is also worrisome, it means you might be catalysts to make their projects work. Be careful!
Oh hell, I really didn’t need this right now. A nutjob that thinks he can become a necromancer is bad enough, but actually having to face someone that might actually pull it off because of something I might do is more than I think I can handle. I just hope I don’t get known as the idiot that caused the death of all these children.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 46 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 45 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)