With the party rather widely scattered, this session involved several simultaneous plotlines…
- Alys, Nimh, 10CH, Khadim, the Sith Bio-Artificer Ichara, the Codifier Observer Jarim Edar, and De’Arc were deep underground, having been forced by the locals to embed themselves (and their tunnel boring machine transport) in an envelope of molten rock to escape.
- Telera was acting as liaison with the planetary security forces.
- Jacob, the Sith Artificer Smooche, and a couple of thousand small children were aboard the long-abandoned Life Star – a creation of one of the Alternate Bens – somewhere within the fringes of a supernova remnant in an alternate universe.
- Kira was stuck in a tank of Bacta aboard the Lingsrymu – a super star destroyer of the Varen Sith – on the other side of the galaxy. What with the entire Morrowain, Valerie, and the entire Varen Sith Council aboard, he was unlikely to get away with much – even if they weren’t especially unfriendly.
- Ben was stranded in yet another alternate universe – attempting to figure out a way to get home and rapidly coming to feel that Hell was having to live with yourself – and the consequent force-feedback headaches.
- The Zomogoostar was in deep interstellar space, with a crew of Furripedes and hirelings who were out to salvage a lost fleet – or at least some of the better ships.
- Handell had taken the Ratsoogomoz, the Shard of Devastation, and the rest of their small flotilla to Alderaan, where he and the kids were attempting to persuade the Republic to pull a lot of ships out of the battle and dispatch them to hit Zandramas from behind.
- Xiang was lurking in orbit, with her pockets full of antimatter, and hoping to find a way to get at Zandramas.
- Lazlo was wandering around with Rinal (a Sith who’d somehow managed to fall to an obsession with – of all things – cooking, and had the fat to prove it) and Dar Tessian (who was so obsessed with efficiency that he hated to talk to anyone except droids) and was wondering how long it would be before Rinal’s endless diatribes on cookery drove him quite mad. Besides… his job was looking after Handell! How had he wound up trapped behind the shields of a probably-doomed planet waiting to die with it instead of looking after his boss?
- And no one was quite sure where Shipwreck had gotten to.
In orbit, the Sith Commander had concluded that – despite the relatively few signs of rebel activity – the silence from the shield generator garrisons indicated that a well-organized resistance movement had successfully seized control, and that a the planet was no longer effectively under control.
Outside the city of Karasian, the Sith were massing a sizeable part of their remaining planetary forces in an attempt to retake one of the shield generators – and to discover what they could about the stasis effect. The resistance forces were massing as well, both to attempt to claim the shield generators where the Sith droids were still holding out despite the communications lockdown and to confront the Sith forces. Worse, while the grip of Zandramas’s agents had been pretty severely weakened, they were sill strong enough to keep the government and the planetary security forces fairly effectively paralyzed.
Sadly, with actual professional soldiers available to direct the war droids, and plenty of weapons, that concentration of Sith troops was more than enough to withstand anything the resistance could come up with for entirely too long to suit anyone.
Across the planet, rumors were spreading that Ben Therus – having doomed the galaxy or perhaps the universe – had stolen thousands of children to start a colony somewhere else and fled, leaving everyone else to their doom.
In an alternate galaxy, Jacob was disappointed to find that most of Commander Ben’s records had focused on saving planets and running the Lifestar rather than on further research. Not that he would have understood it anyway, but it would have made Smooche much more cooperative about searching for a way home. At least Smooche had no objections to preparing the ship to jump out of the supernova remnant so that they could find out what was going on.
He couldn’t tell much while he was attuned to his home universe instead of this one – and he wasn’t changing his attunement until he was sure that they could either get home without it or he was sure that it wouldn’t help – but this universe felt disturbingly dead… either there was some sort of shielding or interference, or there was simply very little life in this galaxy to draw upon – and he HATED dead galaxies! They shouldn’t be that way!
Special Investigator Nimh Tahl’s Field Report
Unfortunately, the destruction of the city of Derallas also destroyed the subspace/radio bridge Alys was using. That wasn’t really surprising given that Smoche’s ship was now vapor. That still meant that Alys was effectively out of communications with the bulk of thr forces she was trying to direct. However, with the subspace/radio bridge out of commission, that meant I could turn the turning of the boring machines subspace refrigerator back towards proper cooling again. It wasn’t sweltering quite yet, but it was getting more than a bit uncomfortable and stuffy. Reverting back to full-efficiency operation wasn’t going to be possible until I could get access to some of the outside paneling, but at least I could easily improve the situation.
They piloted the boring machine out to the nearby forested hills, on the theory that there should be few locals there to cause trouble. That still meant we were underground and cut off from outside communications for several hours during the journey. I took the opportunity to continue my interviews with everyone present and make notes. While it definitely looked like some of the party members were incredibly crazed loonies, the rest of them looked to be fairly normal people or Force users. Circumstances and chronic stress would account for most of the personality distortions I was seeing, and the fact that the majority of them were Force sensitive or active users would explain the remainder of it.
All of them were adamant though that – while Keldav was not a Jedi – he had not fallen either. They were also adamant that Kira had found a fundamentally new set of powers that were not Force based. There were numerous recordings of Keldav moving through walls, moving faster than the speed of sound, and having blaster shots go right through him with little effect. I had figured that all of those were faked or new hyperspace/subspace technology at work, but Alys especially insisted that it was something Kira was doing innately as opposed to some technology.
That would definitely provoke someone into taking a major interest in Keldav’s family and friends if it was true – or even if it just seemed like it MIGHT be true.
That led into what little theory they had on the matter, this so-called Codifier Galaxy they had found, and this thing they called the Galactic Censor. This then led to a fantastic tale of entangled conspiracy theories, secret Republic Anti-Force training programs, new powers no one could remember explanations for, predatory universes, and a load of other seeming nonsense. They all got really offended when I started asking about any chemicals they might have been imbibing habitually.
I’m sorry, but their only evidence thus far has been assorted easily-faked recordings, Keldav, Jacob and Smoche disappearing into a hyperspace hole (and Smooche WAS an artificer obsessed with hyperspace), and Alys being reasonably good at estimating odds. Fantastic claims were going to require fantastic evidence.
Then the quiet one, Jarim Edar, stepped forward and offered to demonstrate. He placed a bowl on the table and handed me a can of fruit.
(Jarim) “Please verify that these look normal.”
Swapping droid modules, I then turned all of my deductive powers on both of them. I started analyzing the craftmanship and deducing as many facts as I could regarding the creators of the bowl and the can of fruit. The can looked to be aluminum, locally made, of subpar gauging, and has been in storage for several decades given the manufacturing date. The bowl itself was handmade, probably by a drunkard spending more time at the bar than at work. The uneven glazing and imperfect circular shape testified to that. Both were evidence that the local manufacturing economy was slowly falling apart.
I said as much.
(Jarim) “Regardless, there is nothing strange about them then?”
(Nimh) “Of course not, both look to be typical examples of what I would expect given this world and it’s people.”
(Jarim) “Very well then, watch this.”
He then held the can over the bowl. A moment later, the fruit contents of the can fell into the bowl with a splat. The fruit looked a little dry and stale, but otherwise edible. Squeezing the contents out of a can, while impressive, wasn’t exactly something unexplainable.
Then I saw the intact can still in his hand.
I reached to snatch it out of his hands for examination when my hands then went through his like a hologram. After verifying that I could not touch him, I checked to see if the fruit behaved similarly. It did not. I could hold the fruit in my hands as I would have expected, but he was intangible. A hologram then? But he had handed me the bowl and can moments ago, and he seemed solid enough at the time. Alright, what technological trickery was this?
Then Jarim tapped my forehead playfully.
(Jarim) “By controlling how much of my body exists in normal space, I can virtually ignore physical obstacles. There are limits of course, but the techniques are quite real.”
(Nimh) “So you can do it too?”
(Jarim) “Of course, I am a Codifier, and I was sent to observe this group and make reports back to my superiors on their activities and culture.”
Well, this was unexpected – and rather more convincing than the old “I am not of your world” routine. There certainly seemed to be something to there claims, although I still haven’t ruled out weird Force talents at work. At least this story of theirs was internally consistent given the data and evidence they had. The supposed history of the Codifier Galaxy also had disturbing implications for my understanding of the Republic and how it operated. It might be best to “sanitize” my reports back to the Glithes for the time being until I could get a chance to speak with them privately. Being able to bring Jarim or Keldav back as evidence for the Glithes would do wonders for making my case.
Again that meant staying with this group for the time being. I really wasn’t keen on upsetting the Sith authorities, but my ability to play neutral was limited. Well, hopefully the group will turn the occupation into a siege and make the matter moot. To that end we emerged on the surface in the forest. Alys immediately started hammering at her datapad as I found local refugees from Derallas coming to meet us. Unfortunately, greeting us entailed pointing a number of improvised weapons our direction and making vaguely threatening remarks; evidently they’d had problems with the bounty hunters.
When asked, I told them the truth: we had fled the destruction of Derallas and I was a Special Investigator tracking down Kira Keldav. They were most upset to learn the city was a crater, but there was no point in lying to them. The observation on their part that insurance doesn’t cover acts of Sith was both correct and pointless. Lamenting the facts of life was going to do nothing to improve their situation, only looking to the future and planning now would do that. At least they proved friendly enough to share a meal and discuss rumors.
I did get a number of rumors out of them regarding Kira Keldav though. Some thought he was a Jedi heroically fighting the Sith. Others thought he was a Sith heroically fighting the Sith. Others thought he was a member of some secret order that surpassed both. Others thought he was on some sort of crusade against that neighbor’s cats and that one of them was in Derallas. Even more rumors and speculation based on that odd cartoon of his too. This was enlightening purely from the standpoint that Kira’s position in this whole affair was such an open question. About all anyone could agree on was that he and Zandaras were enemies. Lesser investigators would take this as a sign of wild public speculation, but I see it as evidence that Keldav’s status has been a lot more fluid in terms of goals and actions than people realize.
Alys and the others took off to stay on the move after dinner. With the evacuation of the city over, Alys’s communication demands were now significantly lessened compared to the day before. That should make it easier for her to remain discreet in her attempts to run the occupation. We exchanged commlink codes to keep in touch, but agreed that it would be best to split up for the time being. While the liberation of the planet was still in doubt, it would be best not to be seen actively supporting the group or the Sith.
Meanwhile, Jacob and Smooche had gotten the hyperdrive working, systems repair started, and the kids settled in – with a few of the older ones working on getting the droids back into shape. They weren’t bad at it – and ANY kind of human supervision made droids a lot more effective.
It might take a decade to bring all the auxiliary systems and outlying equipment back online, but the ship was reasonably functional.
Unfortunately, leaving the supernova remnant left the Lifestar in the middle of a bubble of emptiness, some four hundred and fifty light years across.
What had HAPPENED to this galaxy?
Jacob made several more jumps – but always found himself in the middle of a bubble of emptiness. Was the drive malfunctioning? No, the supernova remnant was gone… In fact, once he even found a new one… were all the stars running away from him? Could they DO that? Was this universe afraid of visitors? There seemed to be a whole thriving galaxy out there that wouldn’t let him near it! And there were a few subspace whispers – far too faint to decipher, and only detectable at all because subspace was otherwise silent…
He consulted Smooche (who didn’t see anything implausible about the universe being afraid of Jacob), and wasn’t very comforting – but who did eventually remember light-speed delay. If they just jumped towards a star until it disappeared, and then jumped back and forth carefully, they ought to be able to catch it in the act…
That led to them eventually seeing a star abruptly grow blurry – as if it had been surrounded by something that diffused it’s light, along with generating some gravitational lensing, to hearing a few faint traces of radio traffic – and then to seeing the star and it’s planets abruptly – wink out. Had it… no, wait… lightspeed delay. Four hundred and fifty years ago, something had swept across this galaxy and… absconded with all the desirable stars and planets. Something with a big enough fleet to noticeably diffuse the light of a star.
The Final Empire.
They had to get OUT of this place… There were those faint subspace whispers though. Had a few people managed to hide?
Chasing those down was easy; with Smooche to work the navigation systems, the engines of the Lifestar, and nothing at all in the way, they could trace those in hours – and found four small colonies, on worlds circling what had once been halo stars and now were slowly drifting away. They had been too far out and too new to be on the galactic grid – but they had heard the frantic calls for help, the reports of a vast fleet, the panic and the hopeless attempts at resistance – and they had been unable to do anything save to shut down their own emergency transmitters and hide.
Since then, there had been nothing but silence, and the gradual winking out of stars, for four hundred and fifty years.
They were easy enough to persuade to come, despite the rather odd beliefs they’d developed – and the Lifestar had been designed for planetary rescue missions.
They confirmed the absence of the galactic black hole on the way out, which pretty much confirmed it – and this universe hadn’t been so different from their own…
They had to pass on a warning!
Jacob wondered… he’d learned the Artificer trick of projecting force-energies into machines and he was attuned to their home universe; if he infused the dimensional hypertunnel engines with his energies, would the resonance take them home?
Well, it wasn’t like they could really get much more lost. It was worth a try.
That got them into… a modest cluster in the unexplored regions, isolated by some very nasty high-radiation zones, and inhabited by a most irrational race called the Yevetha.
At least it was home.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 49 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 48 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 47 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 46 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 45 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)