On Gruenn, Alys was cataloging the current problems.
- They still didn’t have all the shield generators under control.
- They still had some Sith forces operating onworld, including a few possessed saboteurs.
- The Commander of the Sith Flotilla that was currently in orbit seemed to be sane, competent, and quite certain that he could take the shields down whenever he chose.
- Xiang was probably in orbit, possibly with Shipwreck – who always gravitated to things that exploded violently – with hundreds of antimatter warheads.
- The Barramour were still lurking at the edges of the system.
- Zandramas and HIS fleet would be arriving in about a day.
- Thanks to Mrs Beasleys talk-show fundraising drives, the bounties on Kira, Ben, and Jacob were now past a trillion credits each – and the incidental bounties on most of their other companions were at least in the billions. Combined with the furor over Mrs Beasley the Ship, that meant that most of the galaxies remaining bounty hunters – along with a Hutt fleet – were probably on their way.
- Mrs Beasley the Ship – perhaps the most powerful individual vessel that had ever existed in the galaxy – was on it’s way, towing along one fleet manned by a race of insane combat monsters and a substantial chunk of the republic fleet and the Ratsoogomoz.
- Ben was en route with yet ANOTHER experimental drive system.
- The Furripedes, with the Zomogoostar, the Shard of Devastation, and an unknown number of salvaged ships were on their way – hopefully.
Matters were coming to a crisis point, and vast forces were converging.
Which is why it’s time to cut to Kira, who is getting a new outfit halfway across the galaxy from the scene of the action.
Put that lightsaber down please!
I found myself staring at the mirror on the wall. The first stubble of a beard was beginning to show on my face. This was the first indication of my new hair color after the new implant. Supposedly the implant secreted an enzyme that activated the malformed genes whose inactivity caused my albinism. This meant my eyes were slowly turning blue, my skin was tanning, and I was seeing my “natural” hair color for the first time.
(Kira) Why red?
(Valerie) What’s wrong with red?
(Kira) It seems like an awful lot of the people I’ve met lately have had red hair.
(Virstris) It’s a common Varen color. Supposedly had something to do with the seed population that colonized the Varen system and the surrounding cluster.
(Kira) Ok, fine, but that does not explain why I have red hair. No one in my family as far back as I am aware of had red hair.
(Valerie) They didn’t, you dolt, they had malformed genes for red hair that made them carriers for albinism.
(Kira) I just thought I would have black hair like my family. Nichel and I looked so much alike when I dyed my hair. Oh well, at least no more bacta and chelation treatments for me.
(Vincent) Yes, you just need to continue the calcium supplements to counter the bone loss. That should take only another couple days. In all, your recovery has progressed at a remarkable rate.
(Virstris) Now, what’s your name?
(Kira) Verun Navaro
(Virstris) And where are you from?
(Kira) Uhhh, Dweomer.
(Valerie) Uhhh’s aren’t going to cut it if you want to pull this off.
It’s been like this for over a day now. They keep teaching and quizzing me on the life of some poor sap they found who looked like me. Apparently I was going to assume his identity and he was going to live a cushy quiet life somewhere out on the edge of the Galaxy. The story was going to be leaked that Verun Navaro was actually Force sensitive and secretly apprenticed to Valerie Soung for some time now. Witnesses to my training with her would be arranged and records modified to suit the new status.
(Kira) Well excuse me if remembering the details to a life I never lived doesn’t come naturally to me.
(Virstris) We’ll start from the top again….
And so it went. Virstris worked on teaching me the specifics of my new identity, Vincent continued his work on healing my injuries, Ban repaired and replaced my equipment, and Valerie oversaw everything. She tried to hide it, but my announcement that I would join the Varen had stirred something inside of her and she was determined that everything would be made perfect. It just seemed like a complete turnaround from the days she could only sneer at me back at the Academy. Now that I think about it, the change in her disposition really started when I manipulated her into killing Jurin for me.
The similarities to my exile in the Codifier Galaxy while A-Valerie trained me in how to better play the role of Akira were striking. I guess a part of me had been compartmentalizing the two Valerie’s as fundamentally different people, but now I am beginning to see the “Core” that makes them essentially the same person. Amazing how much and how little difference being raised in a different setting made someone.
As my injuries healed, I was needing to use less and less of my Force powers to expedite the healing and to keep my stamina up. That also meant I was becoming more aware of the ship around me too. I have dealt with crowded spaces before and the presence of multiple powerful Force users, so that didn’t bother me. What was really vexing me though was the Bond. I had a pretty good idea of where Valerie was in relation to me, what she was feeling, and even catching glimpses of her thoughts from time to time. Especially when she was thinking about me. I was also certain the converse was true as well. Tenatively experimenting with the Codex proved unable to filter it out at all and I could tell she tried something similar as well. Whatever the link was, it was on a level deeper than either of us could reach consciously with our powers.
It got really interesting when we were both in the same room. The flow of thoughts and imagery between us became significantly stronger at those ranges. One of us (I still don’t know which) glanced at the bedroom in my quarters and the flow of imagery that followed was more than a bit…. well I don’t know what to describe it as, except she got red-faced and angry with me. The embarrassment was easy to tell on her face, but I didn’t know if that was from her embarrassment at her seeing that image, or her embarrassment at my seeing it. It never occurred to me that having a direct telepathic line into the mind of a woman would still leave me completely confused as to what the hell she is thinking.
I mean, seriously, what I am supposed to be doing with this? The parallels with our Codifier counterparts were strong, but they had also gone through a serious lead up romance. Valerie and I were adversaries and rivals not too many days ago, and then we were suddenly thrust into this. Plus there was also the fact that Valerie has fallen to the Dark Side. That added another whole dimension to the Bond and the implications for me.
Suddenly I heard Valerie’s voice in my head.
<Valerie> Quit moping, you’re making me depressed.
That snapped me out of my inner dialogue and back to the situation around me. Augusta and Vincent were still watching the news on the massive fleet battle going on. Ban was prepping the crystal furnace so I could make me a new lightsaber crystal. Virstris and Valerie were busily comparing a holo of Verun to myself and making alterations to my appearance to better match the two. I wasn’t liking the look of those earrings Virstris was holding either.
(Kira) So these things are like engagement rings?
(Virstris) Not quite, they are usually exchanged between people dating as a token of love. The more rings a person accumulates, the more loved and desirable they are.
(Kira) On Alderaan, we called such people players and avoided them. No one wanted to be the next conquest for them to brag about.
(Virstris) It’s a different culture on Dweomer. Alderaan has it’s own peculiar traditions as well.
(Kira) Like what?
(Valerie) Paying a bunch of people to plant colored grass in patterns on your lawn for instance.
(Kira) Hey, now I will be the first to admit that grass painting is a rather asinine profession.
(Virstris) Now, hold still. I am about to start putting the piercings in.
(Kira) Son of a…..
(Valerie) For someone that blew off silting, toxic gas, and a battle with a mighty Sith Lord, you are reacting in a rather silly fashion.
(Kira) How many more of these do we have to do?
(Kira) And why aren’t we using painkillers?
(Virstris) Because it’s all part of the experience. You have to be able to accurately describe it to others if you are to play the role correctly.
(Kira) Ah yes, the first thing that comes to mind when faced with a Sith Assassin is to ask him if he used painkillers while getting his ears pierced.
(Augusta) Ha! Kira’s bounty hit the trillion mark! Pay up Ban!
(Ban) Damn it!
(Kira) Damn it!
(Virstris) Four more to go.
Mrs Beasley was apparently taking up a galactic fundraiser now to “deal with the Kira problem once and for all”. She was only getting a few million credits per world, but several million worlds were now contributing to the fund. It certainly didn’t help that Jacob apparently thought it cute to stop at every world along the way and demand that it surrender or be destroyed in my name (even if he did then leave immediately without actually doing anything at all). The Hutts were organizing a fleet to join the fray – apparently simply to try and collect the money that Mrs Beasley was raising – and now we were seeing a long extinct civilization rise from the dead to chase me.
The Yeveetha were causing the most havoc besides the Mrs Beasley as they too would announce their intent to destroy every world they came across. They showed a willingness to pick fights with everyone and everything in their path. I mean, I’ve heard of insane species with religious prohibitions against the rest of the cosmos, but I thought that they only existed in comedies and poorly written action holos. It was hard to fathom the idea that something like that actually existed.
The other Varen were watching the whole spectacle and laughing. Morrowain in particular liked to watch the ships and fleets tally up along with my bounty. She even ran the news feed to most of the major displays throughout the ship for the crew to watch. The Hutt betting boards were also proving popular. The bookies were giving favorable odds for my capture or death at the hands of this massive amount of firepower chasing the Mrs Beasley.
I have to admit, I thought Ben was having delusions of grandeur when he called it his “Ultimate Dodge”, but that blessed thing had managed to get me out of the way of this mess. That meant I was probably going to have to take back most of the things I said about his superweapons and insane inventions. Of course, that would have to wait until I got back in touch with the others again.
The remaining earrings went in painfully but quickly. Virstris then went to work finding a hair dye that matched the new color growing in and began applying it. In many ways I felt like a kid again with my parents washing my hair for me. I had offered to do it myself, but Virstris insisted that this was the only way to ensure the color was thoroughly spread since she could see the back of my head and I could not. When that was done and all the excess dye was washed off, she went to work trying to get the hairstyle to match Verun’s.
(Kira) When did you become a stylist?
(Virstris) It’s a skill I picked up during infiltration training. It’s helped Valerie on some of her assassination missions in Republic space. This limits the number of people who witness the fact that you are both Kira and Verun.
Finally the hair was done, and I was handed the repaired contact lenses to put back into my eyes. Once I got those in, I was handed a mirror to look into. The face in the mirror wasn’t unfamiliar as I could easily tell that it was me in the reflection. Looking at the Holo of Verun was when it became weird. I hadn’t really seen the resemblance between us until they made the changes to make me look like him. I could see the differences between us, but I knew what to look for.
(Virstris) Alright everyone, compare and comment!
(Ban) I’m impressed. You can see a slight difference in the shade of red, but I could easily tell myself that is a trick of the lighting.
(Virstris) Well it’s better to go with his natural color as opposed to dying it to match Verun’s.
(Vincent) That isn’t his natural hair color.
(Virstris) You know what I mean!
(Augusta) He certainly has a malicious look in his eyes. Although it could use a little something extra to help the effect.
At which point Valerie began rummaging through the bag she had brought earlier. After a few moments, she pulled out a set of jaws with teeth that looked ominously familiar to me. I had sudden flashbacks to the Force Predator of Kahranoth back aboard the Zomogoostar. Valerie stopped what she was doing and looked at me with a hint of surprise in her eyes.
(Valerie) You’ve seen this species before?
(Kira) Yeah, had one sicced on me by a mad doctor.
(Valerie) And yet you obviously survived.
(Kira) Yeah, but it took a lot of cheesy tactics and fighting like a Codifier for me to manage to drive it away.
(Valerie) You didn’t run?!
(Kira) There weren’t very many places to run that it couldn’t rip it’s way into in short order. You probably have no clue just how monstrously strong those things are. Fighting was the only chance I had.
I could sense Valerie was making an internal assessment there. I can only imagine images of my fight with the thing were flashing through her head now as I thought back to that fight. Something clearly unnerved her but she quickly suppressed it.
(Valerie) Regardless, I picked this up on Nar Shadda some time back. It’s been fashioned into a face mask you can wear. Try it on.
Putting it on took a moment to figure out the chain mechanism that fastened around my head. After a few moments, I had it resting on my face in what seemed like a comfortable position. For added effect, I cycled the robes to a black and red color scheme.
(Augusta) Oooh, now that is a malicious look!
(Vincent) Ehhh, he looks like a Holosith that is trying too hard to me.
(Ban) I can add a voice changing system to the mask to make you sound more like Verun.
(Virstris) Might be best to intentionally induce a distortion into the voice. If scanners pick up a voice changer and yet he sounds like Verun, people are going to get suspicious.
(Ban) Simple enough, I can add an ominous echo distortion on top of the Verun voice pattern so that it seems like Verun is trying to be more intimidating. No one will be the wiser.
(Valerie) Is the furnace ready yet?
(Ban) It is, how many crystals are we going to be making?
(Valerie) How many do you want Kira?
(Kira) Well, I can’t use the shield anymore now can I?
(Valerie) No, it’s too distinctive. Maybe further down the line when people aren’t looking for you so hard.
(Kira) Let’s go for two crystals then. One lightsaber for attack, and the other for defense.
(Ban) Alright, two it is then. We’ll do them sequentially. Since you’ve done this a couple of times, it should be faster than before. Shall we get started?
Ban inserted the seed crystal and dopant into the appropriate places and fired the furnace up. I sat down and took the pose I had been trained to use back when I got my first lightsaber and began my focus meditations on the forming crystal. Ban verified everything was working properly with the furnace before taking the mask and tinkering with it.
While growing the crystal was much faster than the previous times I had done this, it still was a several hour ordeal. Eventually the process was done and the cooling cycle completed. I removed the crystal and popped it into place into one of the lightsaber hilts the Varen had given me. Powering it on produced the familiar translucent violet corona indicating it was glowing in the ultra-violet. Odd, some part of me figured that the color would have changed somehow. Why, I don’t know.
(Virstris) Ultra-violet is a bit too unique to be using under a false identity. You may have to end up using generic lightsabers like Valerie does when undercover.
(Ban) Not necessarily. Can I see the crystal for a moment?
I powered off the lightsaber, removed the crystal and handed it to Ban. Ban then produced yet another arcane device from that tool bag of his and inserted the crystal into it.
(Ban) These things typically have alternate resonance frequencies beyond the primary one. Efficiency is lost when you shift resonance modes, but it does work quite well at disguising the color.
Ban fiddled with the device for several moments muttering to himself while taking notes. Eventually he looked up and spoke again.
(Ban) Alright, the primary resonance frequency is in the near ultra-violet as we all knew. There are an additional four frequencies this crystal will resonate at with a reasonable amount of output.
He turned the screen to face us. I saw four sets of wavy lines, numbers and then colors arranged together. Three of the four sets had colors next to them: violet, gold, and orange. The fourth color was a blank panel showing “Outside Display Output Range.”
(Ban) As you can see, Violet, Gold, Orange, and Infrared. Pick the color you want and I can tune a frequency shifting circuit appropriately.
(Kira) Wait, what?
(Ban) A lightsaber crystal can give off more than one color depending on the circuitry powering the lightsaber. I can build a circuit that will change the UV blade on your lightsaber to a gold one if you like.
(Kira) If you can do that, then why don’t more people do this? You’d think the Sith would have an interest hiding those red blades of theirs.
(Valerie) Because in using an alternate resonance other than the primary one, you impair the lightsaber’s function. You’ll find they don’t cut as well. You can compensate for this with techniques that enhance the output of the lightsaber. I’m sure you are familiar with the technique.
(Kira) Yes, it’s a difficult one to control though.
(Valerie) Well, consider this resistance training.
(Kira) Focus on overcoming the lightsaber’s inherent handicap as opposed to focusing on harming my opponent?
(Valerie) I suppose that is one way of going about it.
A thought then occurred to me.
(Kira) Alright, why don’t you do this then?
(Valerie) Because mine is a combination of red and white light.
(Ban) The white light portion poses difficulties in any attempts to shift the frequency. You not only have to find a harmonic for the red, but for all the other frequencies that make up the white light as well. The calculations I did some time back gave only two potential options: very long radio waves, and highly intense gamma rays. Both have obvious difficulties and make the circuitry fiendishly complex and very large.
(Valerie) Not very practical. And attempting to suppress portions of the resonance so that it only glows red leads to the stresses sheering the crystal in short order despite anything I try to do about it.
(Ban) So which color do you want?
(Kira) Orange, we’ll go with that.
(Ban) Alright, I will begin tuning the appropriate circuits. In the meantime, let’s get you started on that second crystal.
That one took even less time to grow than the first. After it was done cooling it was again a simple matter to assemble the lightsaber and test the blade. Ban then motioned to several droids that had quietly arrived while I had been busy meditating on the crystal growth. All three looked to be carrying bins full of nicely organized parts.
(Ban) They’ve got a wide selection of parts and styles for most of the major components. Pick the ones that you like and swap out accordingly. I’ll add the additional circuits to the emitters you choose.
I had to admit there was quite a collection here. There were several different brands, vintages, and styles here to choose from. I was still going to have to procure myself some of the more esoteric components, like the black gold hilt, but what was here would do a hell of a lot better than the generics I had been given. After choosing the parts I wanted, Ban started modifying the emitters while I assembled the rest of the components. Soon he handed me the modified emitters, I snapped them into place, and powered both of the lightsabers on.
Both gave off a warm orange glow and that familiar hum I have grown to know so well. However I could tell both of them were not quite right as they flickered and sparked more often than I was used to. Focusing on the enhancement technique brightened the glow and made the blades more…. full than before. I could tell compensating for this was going to require a serious amount of practice. There also was an underlying feeling of a lot of force bound up on some immovable obstacle threatening to give.
(Ban) I take it you are satisfied?
(Kira) Yes, although this is going to take getting used to. It’s like trying to stand straight up with a heavy backpack on your back.
(Valerie) You’ll manage.
(Ban) Here is the mask back, everything checks out on it.
Suddenly Valerie’s bracer started chirping. She looked at it and then pressed a button.
(Valerie) Alright, let’s go Kira. It’s time to report in and receive orders.
I put the mask back on, put the lightsabers on my belt, and followed Valerie outside the “apartment” and to the waiting conveyor car outside. Once the two of us were seated, the car took off and carried across across the ship. we followed the main thoroughfare some kilometers before beginning the ascent up the command tower. The sheer number of side corridors and levels that passed us by began to blur together quickly as I lost track of them all. I realized that this ship had more in common with a cross-section of Coruscant equipped with engines than it did with the Zomogoostar in many ways.
Eventually we were deposited outside a corridor with guards stationed outside it. From the looks of their armor and weapons, they were of the same type of unit Virstris was from. Except these four guards showed no detectable Force presence that I could pick up. These must be the elite Force-Immune that Virstris spoke of. I wonder if Valerie has told the Varen that these guys were very likely to have Codex potential? Then I heard Valerie’s voice in my head.
<Valerie> We’ll discuss that later. Now, as we rehearsed.
(Valerie) Valerie Soung and Verun Navaro reporting as requested.
One of the guards immediately took out a handheld scanner and began scanning me while another did the same with Valerie. After a few sweeps of the wand he then held out a pad in one hand and a light in the other.
(Guard) Please remove the glove Master Navaro and place your hand on the panel. Now look into the light please. Thank you, everything checks out. You are now free to enter.
Putting the glove back on, I followed Valerie as we walked down the corridor past another set of guards and through a doorway. On the other side of the door was a familiar looking conference room and twelve figures around the large table. I recognized Morrowain and the Iresha woman from when I first arrived, but the others were unknown to me. All of them were powerful with the Force and I fought the urge to shift to the Codex side of things. This was definitely a crowd I didn’t want to mess with right now. I really wanted my thermal detonators back. Not that I figured they would do me much good.
(Valerie) Members of the Council, I present Verun Navaro.
(Kira) Special Agent Verun Navaro, reporting as requested. Awaiting your command.
Special Investigator Nimh Tahl’s Field Report – Session 51
Back in the hills of Gruenn…
Alys was still frantically coordinating things when some of the remaining governmental higher-ups finally managed to trace her down.
They didn’t have much choice any longer – they had to admit that there was no way to stop things now – but they desperately wanted to know if there was some sort of plan to this rebellion, and if that plan (hopefully!) involved their planet surviving he ensuing chaos more or less intact.
Alys could re-assure them on a number of points. The plague was a fake, space and time was not breaking down starting with Ben, the universe was not ending, the “plague victims” were in hiding and not dead, and more – but she had to admit that the shield generators were still under enemy control and defended by droids, even if those enemies were effectively paralyzed at the moment and the droids were operating under a communications blackout.
After a great deal of work, pointing out that she did not have TIME to explain everything, and much negotiation – and calling in Nimh to testify – the local planetary government had to concede that their only chance was to hope that these people’s plans would allow them to survive – and they were official trouble magnets who had managed to remain unshot for months. With any luck – and nothing else could save them now – it would stretch to cover everyone else.
Alys found herself more or less ceded command of the planetary security forces and equipped with emergency powers. She had them deploy the planetary security forces (or what was left of them) in readiness to try to gain control of the five sealed shield generators, ignore the bounty hunters, shut down the official hunt, close down the orbital links to hinder the Sith Commander – and started letting valuable personnel people out of stasis.
As for Nimh…
I woke up thirsty, hungry, and with a headache. The locals in the camp obliged me when I asked for food and water, and I was able to get a pain suppressant from my medkit. It took a while for my brain to fully synchronize as I sat there an mechanically ate what was on my plate. It always took awhile for the droid prosthetics to resync with the rest of my brain after taking SynStim. At least the prosthetics ensured I had something left to sync as opposed to the poor fools that were rotting their brain with the stuff.
It still wasn’t a smart thing to be doing often, no matter how addictive the stuff is.
That fact that I was still here indicated that at least this section of the planet was not being bombarded. That was a good sign. The morning sky wasn’t showing any real change to the fleet in orbit either. That meant the siege was probably still going on then. Looking at my commlink showed about twelve hours had passed since I took the SynStim.
Swapping modules, I did some rounds in the surrounding camps for anyone needing medical care. There were some minor injuries, a broken bone, an infection, and a number of people in psychological shock. Between my medkit and the supplies the others had available, I was able to treat everyone present in a few hours. I left instructions for those that would need long term care, and then hitched a ride on one of the trucks ferrying supplies in from the next town.
Solid rumors were scarce on the ride to town. It appeared that the government had cut off all the major broadcasts relayed via satellite and had gone to landlines for communications. That implied the government had finally wised up to what was going on and thrown their lot in with Keldav’s group. That implied a certain amount of sense, but I really doubted they had much choice in the matter. What other rumors there were running around were so fanciful or outrageous that it was really hard to take them seriously.
Arriving in town didn’t really change things as the rumors were still full of wild speculation and very little in the way of veritable facts. Communications were thoroughly clogged as there wasn’t enough landline capacity to be handling all the communications traffic this world generated. There wasn’t much more to do here than at the campsite I was at earlier.
Suddenly I got a priority encrypted call with a government signature on it. Answering it revealed Alys Nere on the display. She apparently was having trouble convincing the government about several points her group had uncovered and was wanting my assistance as an expert independent witness to the facts. She already had a ship in route to pick me up if I agreed.
Well, there wasn’t much I could do anyway right now, and acting as an independent expert to a planetary government regarding the claims of Keldav’s group was certainly something that would keep me occupied. I agreed to act as a consultant in the matter and boarded the ship that arrived moments later. Inside I found a member of the resistance as the pilot as Keldav’s group apparently were swapping out the purely droid based crews with organics. After confirming that I was in fact Nimh Tahl, he lifted off and took the ship several hundred kilometers south.
We quickly landed outside another small and rather non-descript town and I was directed towards the local security station. Entering the Security Station, I found the place had been converted into a makeshift command center of sorts. I could see displays of twelve planetary shield generators on the walls with a projected tallying of forces underneath each of them. It looked like seven of the twelve shield generators were under the control of the locals now, and the remaining five were still in dispute. Those five were also giving the locals an immense amount of difficulty given the lack of professional soldiers to use against the Sith battledroids and soldiers still in stasis.
Soon enough Alys found me and asked me to look over a number of samples and bodies trapped in stasis for her. Then I was to make a report on my observations that she could then give the authorities so they could make an informed decision regarding Alys’s claims. Alys then gave me some background on her group’s findings regarding these samples.
Alright, I will admit, the horrible possessed bioweapon made out of silicon goo and droid brains was more than a bit hard to swallow. Especially when she started to explain how it had been busily possessing important government officials in an attempt to sabotage attempts to create a rebellion. Luckily for her, she actually had captured some of the officials she claimed to be possessed so that tests could be run. I flipped through the notes the one known as Shipwreck had generated and then pulled out my own sensor pack to begin verifying claims.
- First specimen was a sample of the silicon goo that they had scooped out of the brain of one government offical. Since it was locked into stasis, there was no way to verify that the stuff was actually alive. I was also unable to resolve details to the degree claimed by Shipwreck in his report either. Still, I was able to verify that the stuff was seemingly organic in structure, included multiple electronic circuits and crystals, and appeared to have been interfaced with a nervous system in a fashion analogous to my own implants.
- Second specimen was a government official with the silicon goo still inside his skull. He too was in stasis, but it was easier to verify that he had to be alive given the lack of vital signs and decomposition. The silicon goo in his skull was easy enough to detect, and looked to be of similar composition and design to the first specimen. Here it was easier to detect how the silicon goo was interfacing with the central nervous system. In fact, it wasn’t as I had initially supposed where it was interfaced to the brain directly much like my own prosthetics were. Instead, it was coupled to the brain stem directly and completely bypassing what little was left of the brain for all but the most automatic of functions. That explained the lack of resistance to the foreign implant taking control of the body.
- Third specimen was much like the second, yet another government official with more of the stuff in his head.
- The fourth was more interesting. This one lacked the silicon goo in any detectable fashion inside his skull. However, he did possess a number of implants inside him including an explosive charge of some sort and numerous other electronics. An analysis of a blood sample that took a good deal of creativity to extract also revealed a number of modifications. There were a number of enzymes of obvious artificial origin that I was unable to verify the purpose of given the equipment at my disposal. I also detected hormonal levels consistent with chronic high stress levels and a number of tranquilizer chemicals.
My findings were consistent with the reports given by Shipwreck and Lazlo, even if I was unable to do any Force probing or whatever it was Shipwreck was able to do to get that level of detail.
Finally I reviewed the information provided on the nature and abilities of the Sith Lord Zandaras. The information provided sounded more like something out of a horror holo as opposed to a real creature running loose around the galaxy. As far-fetched as the information provided about escaped bioweapon from four millenia ago seemed, the data matched what I was able to verify about the silicon goo and what I had heard about Zandaras.
In fact, it explained a lot of peculiar things about Zandaras.
What wasn’t being said and really stood out in my mind, was where the party got this information from. It was too much of a coincidence for them to have stumbled upon this information that was proving to be most relevant and helpful in fighting the most dangerous Sith Lord to come around in quite a while. This group knew too much, had almost all the missing information no one else in the galaxy seemed to have, and even knew where to look for it and what it’s relevance was. I think there is more to this story than these people are letting on.
Perhaps Zandaras escaped confinement because they let it loose?
Still, that sort of accusation was not needed right now. I gave the government my findings and the conclusion that the group was telling the truth regarding the nature of the how Zandaras was controlling critical members of the government. I spent a considerable amount of time reviewing that report and the findings in detail over the commlink to various government officials that felt they needed to hear this first hand.
Once that was done I wandered back over to where the amateur resistance commanders were steadily making a mess of trying to capture remaining the shield generators. I watched them shuffle icons around the holo map while making grand pronouncements about brilliant plans and strategies to each other as they all produced garbage. I played the cute and innocent girl act for a while as I asked about the various pieces on the map, the shield generator defenses, and that circular projection coming out of the van off to the side of the map that covered most of the field. Ah, so that was a larger version of the stasis generator then.
Still, the resistance was largely made up of irregular fighters and malfunctioning droids of assorted types. Meanwhile the defenders were well equipped professional soldiers and hardened battledroids with a massive defensive advantage. Simply put, the only reason the resistance hasn’t suffered massive casualties already is the fact that the stasis field was stopping the soldiers from doing anything and the droids were turtling.
[That was partially defense, and partially quarantine; there had been reports of a time-stopping plague, then everyone organic inside had apparently stopped experiencing time – obviously they had a major outbreak! Thus the local medical robots had been able to take over several of the shield generators…]
What grand schemes the would be generals were coming up with were unworkable on a number of levels and tended to greatly overestimate the combat abilities of irregulars versus professionals. Well, the Sith Commander in orbit was wanting the shield generators relatively intact, so assisting the resistance in taking them with minimal damage could be construed as a sign of remaining neutral in this. It’s to the short term advantage of the Resistance, and to the long term advantage of the Sith to ensure those shield generators remain intact.
Hmm, those stasis generators project a field of static size centered on the field generator.
(Nimh) Why don’t you send in a droid to the van and tell it to drive three meters forward at a time. This will then make portions of the Shield Generator accessible to your forces three meters at a time.
(Commander) Well what good would that do?
(Nimh) Well, you could then concentrate your forces on gaining control of the three meters of the shield generator that become available, while the Sith can only use the droids and what few soldiers come out of stasis at that time. Once you gain control of that portion, move the van another three meters. Divide and conquer.
Alys immediately approved of the plan and began implementing it. The commanders present looked a little sheepish to have been told something so obvious in hindsight. I didn’t really care what they felt so long as they did the smart thing needed to get the job completed correctly. We needed to take this slowly and thoroughly, this was going to be all for naught if the resistance ended up accidently blowing the thing up in their haste to capture it.
That still left the matter of jamming the Sith kill command while we looked for the modification the Sith installed to receive and act on it. Unfortunately, that was going to have to wait until the engineers had time to thoroughly go through the Shield Generators we had captured. Hmm, I may have to go to one in the near future and try to assist in the effort.
The one named Lazlo then called Alys wanting to know what to do about the ones called Xiang and Shipwreck. Listening in on that conversation revealed that Lazlo was now in communcation with Xiang and Shipwreck. Xiang had a “plan” to use Shipwreck’s unique talents to find a way past the shields of Zandaras’s command ship and then challenge Zandaras to a duel and threaten to blow up his ship with antimatter unless he consented.
At first I had wondered if I was watching the Xiang holo show by accident or something because that was one of the most insanely stupid plans I had ever heard. I was quite saddened to find out this was actually real and the full scope of the plan. Comparing what I knew of Xiang’s combat abilities against the data on Zandaras did not give Xiang very good prospects beyond becoming a thin paste smeared on the wall. On the other hand, the amount of antimatter she had at her disposal was more than sufficient to blow a good sized hole in the Super Star Destroyer in orbit.
Sadly, manipulating Xiang to blow herself up and kill the Sith in orbit was morally wrong on a number of levels. Plus Xiang seemed to be against any plan that did not result in her fighting the Sith in a hand-to-hand duel to the death. That greatly limited our options. What we really needed to do was get those antimatter warheads and missiles out of her possession and then stash away for whatever use we find for them later.
That meant trying to talk Xiang out of her suicidal plan though and that wasn’t going to be easy. I could tell that Alys had come to the same conclusions as well. I was amazed that someone could be this delusional to actually believe that she was a character from a holo show.
If she actually believed herself to be Xiang from the holo show, then it stood to reason she would act in the same way the character would in a given situation. Surely there have been situations where Xiang had to back down from a fight and not go charging in. Alys soon after came to the same conclusion and we both began consulting the Xiang Holo Show message boards for ideas on how we might influence the situation to our advantage.
The message boards were yet another good example of why I dislike most people. Idiocy, willful ignorance, hate, intolerance, and posturing ruled the day for a lot of people the moment they believed themselves anonomous. It took some digging while Lazlo stalled the discussion with Xiang and Shipwreck for a bit, but eventually we found four major options: first was that Xiang would back down if badly injured, second if she was unable to reach her opponent, and third if her friends needed immediate assistance or fourth if someone made a declaration of undying love to her.
Well, Xiang was currently uninjured and was beyond our ability to cripple her. She also believed herself to have a good chance of reaching her opponent and would die trying if not. None of us needed her immediate assistance, nor could I see any way that I liked to readily simulate that to a nut with antimatter. That left someone making a declaration of undying love to her.
It was amazing how empty the makeshift command center got at that statement. Those remaining were either female, claiming to be married, or of the completely wrong species. Alys volunteered Lazlo and he “accepted” to “take one for the team”. What followed was one of the corniest and sappiest confessions of ”love” that I had ever heard. I figured that there was no way it would work and was shocked to see that Xiang was crying.
Xiang immediately brought a small shuttle down from her ship she left in low orbit and chased down Lazlo. After she captured him, she dragged him before Alys and demanded an immediate ceremony. Much to my surprise Alys went ahead and gave one, after which Lazlo promptly ran off into the woods with Xiang giving chase. Alys looked at me and said that it wasn’t official so what was the harm?
I had my doubts about that, since Alys was a noble from Coruscant and the now official leader of the planet’s forces in resisting the occupation. That definitely gave Alys substantial legal powers that I doubt she really was taking into account on this matter. Still, this did separate Xiang from her shuttle loaded with antimatter.
I immediately started directing droids to systematically and carefully remove the antimatter warheads from the shuttle. Once the droids understood the nature of the request, they thankfully used the care and precision a delicate task like this required. It looked like she had….. 120 warheads onboard, each with 2 kg of antimatter. The freighter still in orbit looked to have 300 torpedoes with four warheads apiece. That amounted to…. 2,640 kg of antimatter.
What the hell were these people doing that they could have amassed such a stockpile? Seriously, that would require the output of multiple direct conversion power systems running more or less continuously for years to generate that much. What sort of equipment did this bunch have at their disposal that they could undertake that kind of a project? Was there more to that superweapon asteroid nonsense than I had first believed?
No matter, we unloaded all the warheads and stashed them away in a heavily guarded warehouse in the meantime. I double-checked the containment systems on the warheads and directed several technicians to keep watch over them and make sure they remained charged. Having their armaments blow a hole in the world after successfully repelling the Sith occupation would be very embarrassing to say the least. And I certainly didn’t want that happening while I was on that same planet.
Xiang eventually came back and claimed that Sith had stolen her antimatter and Lazlo from her. Neither Alys nor I made any attempts to dissuade her of this delusion since it didn’t force us to come up with an excuse anyway. Now to find a use for the antimatter stockpile….
Then all hell broke loose in the skies above us.
First indication that something was wrong was when the Sith Fleet in orbit retreated. What sensor scans were coming from satellite indicated that the Sith fleet had retreated to the asteroid belt. Why that was became clear an hour later when a new fleet suddenly appeared in orbit and began bombarding the planetary shields. A broadcast then began as some avian creature aboard the bombarding fleet announced that all species except their own to be blasphemy and that we were going to be exterminated off the face of the planet. Apparently their god would smite the shields for them as they demonstrated their resolution to kill us all.
Who the hell were these people and where did they come from?!
I took a recording of the broadcast and began searching archives regarding the species. It took a lot of digging and searching old records to find much of anything relevant. Closest match appeared to be the Yevetha, a species thought to have been exterminated by the Infinite Empire nearly 65,000 years ago. What few records there were described them as obsessively xenophobic and utterly incapable of conceiving of peacefully coexisting with other species.
Other records included notes about augmented reflexes, enhanced strength, light natural armor, extensible blades in the forearms, very fast metabolisms, poison vulnerabilities, and details about the life cycle. Apparently the “adults” would breed to produce a sessile creature that would then clone more of the adult specimens by the thousands. Those clones were programmed with the knowledge of the original adults and could immediately enter the religious jihad against everything else. Those that survived long enough would breed more sessile creatures to repeat the process again.
They also looked to be completely incapable of creative thought whatsoever as the primary tactic seemed to be to charge straight at the largest and most dangerous looking threat they saw. Any technology or infrastructure was supposedly captured from eaten enemies and even something as simple as farming was unknown to them.
Alright the odds of this species being something that evolved naturally were nonexistent. This had to be a bioweapon created by some enemy of the Infinite Empire as blaster fodder. I had my doubts the original stock species even existed anymore, and this bunch was showing signs of having been modified so extensively that reviving the original genome was a lost cause.
Tactical Recommendation: Extermination.
At least the shields still seemed to be holding, and this did give us additional time to capture the shield generators before the Sith decided to drop them remotely. With any luck, we should have full control of the shields before the Sith can do anything about it.
Then more ships began arriving in the system. What limited sensor systems we had showed multiple large Republic Battle Groups, a Hutt fleet, several Sith fleets, more Yevetha, more Bounty Hunters, mobile asteroids, capital ships of unknown origin, and an abolutely massive spherical ship. That thing was enormous… nearly three times the length of a Super Star Destroyer and over thirty times the volume! The shield systems alone were Core World Planetary class! Despite the fact that everyone was shooting at it and each other all around itself, it was pretty much ignoring them all!
Where in the infinite hells did that thing come from?! And why are all these ships here?!
Right, gaining complete control of the planetary shields was now top priority. I need to help find and eliminate that remote shutoff immediately. There wasn’t going to be any way to survive this otherwise.
Meanwhile, Jacob and Smooche had been jumping across the galaxy, leaving messages at several planets so that Jacob could spread his Fame (or infamy) and rejoice in his ever-increasing bounty (finally bigger than Kira’s!), even if it was by association with Kira. They’d also discovered, and played with, the planetary-scale ion cannon, and picked up Ben – who’d caught up with them, used his subspace drive (as witnessed by the Sith and several others) to get past the shields, and boarded the Lifestar – only to be captured by the cat-like security robots.
Persuading Jacob and Smooche that he was indeed THEIR Ben hadn’t been too bad… but their lunatic progression across the galaxy WAS!
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 50b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 49a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)