Special Investigator Nimh Tahl’s Field Report – Session 55

ID: DMST8807422 Released to Public Service Dep...

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As usual, this consists primarily of Kira’s player log, with inserts covering what the rest of the characters were up to – albeit in considerably less detail.

With all the party once again together on Alderaan – even if it WAS the wrong Alderaan in an alternate dimension – and trying to trace down a pair of mutually supportive “snipers”, Jacob was using his cloaking systems to run aerial overwatch, Lazlo was trying to collect information at the street level by running a block party, Kira and Valerie were being targets to narrow down where the snipers could be firing from, Alys was coordinating the local law enforcement resources (since, locally, droids were uncommon and surveillance was limited), Ben, 10CH and Khadim were acting as her bodyguard and helping with the research (and getting reports from himself in the future as to the worth of various courses of action), and Telera and the Varen Council were helping protect the local civilians while they waited in reserve.

Nimh sat back to analyze things. This was going to be quite a job.

Well, it was definitely clear that the stories about alternate dimensions, timelines, and parallel galaxies was true. I’ve spent enough time on Alderaan to recognize several features of the landscape and yet also recognize that this wasn’t the Alderaan I knew. What was really annoying though was the scarcity of droids. Without a local droid specializing in the local history and culture, I was limited to what I could get my hands on and actually read. I don’t mind reading and rather enjoy it, but it isn’t fast. And right now I need information fast.

Like right now I am trying to track down these so-called Faded. I can only assume things like line-of-sight and such still apply to them, but what information I have been able to get isn’t entirely reassuring on that front. Still, going with that assumption and the reports from the Sith Kira Keldav and Valerie Soung, all evidence thus far suggests a need for line of sight. Plus there was considerable evidence that we had not one, but two Faded running around the city using long ranged attacks. One looks to be towards the North end of the city causing fires and explosions in an attempt to lure out the defenders while the second one to the Southwest looked to be attempting to snipe at the defenders responding to the first.

That still was a lot of the city to search for a pair of enemies that didn’t seem to stand out as much as Sith try to.

And speaking of Sith, the assertion that this non-local Kira Keldav is simply a HoloSith variation wasn’t holding much water in my opinion. He isn’t acting like a HoloSith at all. Plus none of his companions were acting like HoloSith either. Indeed, what evidence I was able to collect on them was more in line with what little information was available regarding the Sith that had initially trained Keldav: the Varen.

Add to that the simple fact that Keldav seemed to be intimately familiar with the capabilities and habits of this group. Especially the fact that he wasn’t aware that Ben or Alys had Codex abilities and had no clue who I was. Most telling was how quickly he guessed where the children Ben, Jacob, and Smoche had come from. That was all in line with the information he would have if he really did survive the battle with Lecrouss as Jacob insists he did.

But if Keldav did survive that battle, how did he end up here and why would he be in the company of the Varen no less? I get the sneaking suspicion that the one named Valerie Soung is at the center of all the why’s. The fact that the local version of her was married to the local version of him suggested a potential romantic entanglement between them. What information I was able to get on her from the others was that Valerie Soung was the daughter of the master that taught Kira. She was also the one that made the initial kidnapping of Dorothy two years ago. She also has been to this galaxy before and had details of the technology needed to traverse the dimensions.

So they would have the means of arriving here on their own. But that still doesn’t explain why Kira is with them and how he managed to end up in their possession. Only option I really saw given the evidence was the idea that Keldav had turned to the Varen after seeing his bounty hit the trillion mark. Perhaps he believes that he was safer taking on a false ID with them as opposed to remaining independent? Trouble with that theory is that I find it difficult to believe him so foolish as to think the Varen wouldn’t sell him out when it was most opportune for them. Perhaps he’s deluding himself that Valerie Soung is like Valerie Keldav?

(Kira) Have you finished narrowing down where the damned Faded is at yet? I enjoy being shot at as much as the next guy, but I am not liking the damage being done to the local architecture by all this.

The bastard was as much of a snarky ass as the stories said. He’s the one with Force and Codex powers, why can’t he deduce this if he thinks it so simple?

(Nimh) I take it you’ve been shot at again?

(Kira) No, I managed to take cover before he fired. I’m at 2214 Elm Street.

(Nimh) Well that eliminates 8 of the remaining 34 possible locations.

(Kira) 34?! I thought we were down to 12 already!

(Nimh) We were, but Jacob and Ben have ascertained that the sniper is reusing locations in some sort of rotation. That means I need to re-expand my search area accordingly.

(Kira) Oh damn it all.

Lazlo got the first results… What with the stress, and the services shutdown, and the general level of paranoia at the moment, information on “suspicious” people came in in a flood – and everyone was willing to come out for free food.

At least it started helping narrow things down, even if his cooperation with Alys was pretty grudging. Oh well. At least he was assuring himself that girls other than lunatics like Xiang found him attractive.

Jacob got the next – an abrupt flare from a rooftop, that vanished. When he checked on it, there were signs of an extremely high-temperature pulse, a scorched line – evidently the signs of an ultra-temperature plasma shockwave from a few hundred heavy blaster shots in a fraction of a second, a discarded power-pack, and a scorched spot which went right through the roof.

A hypertime sniper who’d went into hypertime, fired, phased through the roof – and vanished into the city in a fraction of a second. Using multiple firing locations. That was going to be hell to trace – but at least it said he’d be walking the streets carrying a broken-down heavy blaster.

Not that half the population wasn’t armed, but few would be carrying anything like that.

That was indeed the case, Jacob and Ben’s reconnaissance had found that at least some of the sniper locations were being reused. Alys was still coordinating things with the locale authorities, and Lazlo was…. hosting a block party of all things. I guess he was using food, drink and general revelry as bribes in exchange for information. That could be productive if the people on the street have noticed anything unusual.

What efforts the local authorities were managing to look for anyone suspicious was rapidly generating more nonsense than help. It seemed half the town was taking pictures of the other half and sending them in as possible Faded candidates. Especially bad was the little green old man that seemed to be sending in reports on every person his dogs barked at. He seemed to focus particularly on images of Keldav. This was not going to be easy by any means whatsoever. At least Jacob was able to provide some information when the sniper ended up spotting him and took a shot at him.

Jacob’s poking around the rooftops eventually gave him away – or at least the sniper got really lucky in spotting him. It wasn’t a direct hit – evidently the sniper had guessed wrong about his exact location – but the energy-bolt bored straight through the roof and detonated the building. The blast left him injured and stunned… Fortunately, one of the Sith (and old lady drinking tea) caught him telekinetically before he crashed (and DIDN’T want to eat him, Yah!). To force-sensitives an Atavist was pretty blatantly obvious, even if he was cloaked against physical sight.

Lazlo managed to get pictures of several possible suspects – including one who kept coming through for another plateful of food.

At least tracking down the terrorist Faded was going a lot more easily. He didn’t seem to be moving all that much if at all. I was able to locate him to a trio of buildings and a hill as the likely location he was operating from. Unfortunately, going after him was going to prove impossible with the sniper ready to blow the head off of anyone that got too close. It was obvious though that the two Faded were communicating, as the fires and explosions seemed to be designed to lure Keldav and Soung out for a clean shot (especially the prompt hit on the Disaster Control Headquarters that the locals set up). But that too added more data for the analysis.

Lazlo eventually came in on the group channel and asked Alys regarding if there were any undercover police or Codifiers in the area. Apparently the local criminal element was aware of somebody new in the area acting suspicious and felt it was someone on the side of the authorities.

What Alys was able to learn there from the authorities was interesting. The police and security forces had no one working undercover that they were aware of. The Codifiers had all their agents already committed to assisting us or to helping fight the Faded army on the other side of the planet. It was possible that it might have been a private investigator like myself, but the basic behavior pattern was matching up well on that. All evidence pointed to this mysterious individual being one of our Faded targets. Alys directed Lazlo to continue finding out what he could about this man and I went back to looking over the data for any patterns.

The locals didn’t have any SynStim for me to use, and my own personal supplies were contaminated by the moving of planet Gruenn and associated silting. That left me raiding the local supplies for something stimulating to use. The stuff wasn’t as powerful as what I was used to, but it still gave me a much needed buzz as I poured over the mountains of data and maps.

One pattern was beginning to emerge though. The sniper was only sniping for a few hours at a time before going quiet for a few hours. This pattern would repeat itself in a predictable fashion well enough that some deductions could be reasonably made. It looked like this Faded needed time to recharge his powers and rest much like the saboteur did. Exactly what portion of his ability was causing the need to recharge was unknown, but it suggested that he had somewhere secure to rest. All we had to do was find that location and we could bring overwhelming force upon him to ensure a victory.

Strange though, according to the reports, if the sniper really is resting during those quiet periods, then it should be for a minimum of six to eight hours, not three. Resting while in Hypertime might be able to do it, but Keldav insisted that was impossible. The Codifiers similarly shrugged when I posed the question to them. Perhaps a new phenomena or technique was at work here. It certainly wouldn’t have been the first time in this investigation that I’ve had to discard ideas I thought to be immutable laws.

All over the Sith were making their presence felt in an unusual fashion. Fire alarms were getting tripped minutes before the building would get targeted for attack. Explosion debris would fall harmlessly around crowds in the streets. At other times crowds would suddenly disperse moments before a fire would sweep the area. This felt unnervingly like Jedi trying to quietly assist local authorities with issues of unrest as opposed to a bunch of Sith. I would have expected Sith “assistance” to involve a good deal of threats, posturing, and direct attacks on any perceived opponent. Not this…. quiet assistance from the sidelines.

Just who are these people?

Lazlo, meanwhile, had traced one of his suspects to an apartment building – thanks to some crooks who were afraid that the man was an undercover cop – and had decided to confront him alone, by knocking.

Told to go away, he tried going in the window – and had been shot. Jacob managed to catch him telekinetically before he hit the street and dumped him on another building, but the ensuing confrontation didn’t go so well for him either. He managed to use the force to foul up the heavy weapons and deflected a few shots, then used his button-pushing technique to make the fellow shoot himself in the leg, and interrupted the guys hyper-fast packing – but he got away. He did leave behind a weird helmet and datapad combination, with an absurd amount of redundancy built in, but escaped via motorcycle.

Ben tried to stop him, and nearly got his head kicked off for his trouble. He’d tried to use his shield system to cushion the impact of being run over by the bike – but the faded had filled his shield with plasma and overloaded it. Fortunately, Alys took out the guys tires – and he tried to take a hostage while he looked for another vehicle. Sadly, that turned out to be the Sith Councilor who’d been observing Ben and Alys…

Taking a Sith Master as a hostage did not go well.

Lazlo did catch up with Alys and punched her out – but wound up grudgingly “forgiving” her.

The locals promptly cast the Sith Councilor in the hero role – especially since she was a Binder – but at least that kept most of the rest of them under cover.

All thoughts along that line were pushed aside with a series of shots and explosions in one of the abandoned construction areas to the South of the city. Jacob was able to respond first and announced it looked like Lazlo got himself shot confronting the Faded by himself. Of all the stupid things to have tried, confronting a Faded by himself is near the top of the list. Why he felt the need to go by himself when he knows the rest of the planet is launching a massive manhunt for these guys is beyond me. I mean seriously, one of them was able to hold off several powerful Sith by himself for several moments and even managed to badly wound some of them in the process.

Stupid, incredibly stupid.

The others were all moving to assist Jacob in cornering the sniper as rapidly as they could. I only heard a good amount of blaster fire and shouting over the commlink as the battle unfolded. After several minutes I finally got confirmation that the group had brought down the sniper with the assistance of one of the Sith. Apparently she had slapped him hard enough to throw him into stasis.

Talk about slapping someone into the next century.

I also got reports from Ben and Alys regarding a device the Faded seemed to be using. As best as they could describe, the thing looked to be an audiobook player designed to be worn by someone sleeping in Hypertime. This would provide an adjustable external time reference for the sleeping mind to use to prevent entering stasis completely. A clever contraption to say the least, but I was concerned about the potential effects to one’s lifespan regular use of the thing would cause. Perhaps this is why the Codifiers don’t use it?

Nonetheless, that was two Faded down and one to go. An attack on the party while they engaged the sniper gave another datapoint for the map. That suggested our terrorist was on the hill Duren’s Overlook. We probably had a limited time to intercept him before he took off for another location. I was about to relay the information to Keldav and Soung when I saw they were already quickly moving that direction. A lot of our resources were still recovering from the battle with the sniper, but there were still assets available to assist.

I started relaying tactical and movement orders for Alys to enact.

Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 55

Again I was being shot at, and again this was all part of the plan supposedly. It was just Valerie and I wandering the streets, pretending to be trying to track down the location of someone we already had a good guess of where he was located. Precognition and probability analysis was giving me good indicators on a pair of buildings and a hill to the North. He either wasn’t moving very much or wasn’t shielding himself well. Of course, these guys were highly unlikely to realize the need to shield themselves from Force users like us.

No, the real plan was to pretend to go after the terrorist setting fires while providing opportunities for his buddy to snipe at us from across the city. He was much more difficult to track, and evidence was accumulating that he was rapidly moving from location to location. That meant getting shot at repeatedly to eliminate locations as already used or unsuitable for his purposes.

It certainly didn’t help that the one coordinating all these data and telling us where to go next was the damned twi’lek with all the personality of a power droid. It was obvious that she was a Syndat like Vincent was, but she seemed to have cultivated the anti-social skills to an artform. Her questions seemed to be phrased in such a fashion that she was paying as much attention to how I answered them as much as what I answered. It was like Officer Larson purposefully trying to be annoying while imitating a tree stump looking down upon me.

(Valerie) Are you done flirting with the Twi’lek yet?

Speaking of condescending….

(Kira) She can’t seem to ask a simple question and I swear she is taking her time narrowing down where the sniper is. I’ve seen garbage droids with more personality.

(Valerie) She is asking a lot of probing questions. Any idea why she is so interested in you?

(Kira) Not a clue, I’ve never met her before we arrived here. She is probably one of the differences between our Galaxy and theirs. Besides the fact that their Ben and Alys have Codex powers too.

(Valerie) Perhaps….

(Kira) Perhaps what?

(Valerie) It may be too soon to be drawing conclusions just yet.

(Kira) Nonetheless, we need to head towards Forage Trail Road next.

(Valerie) Where along it?

(Kira) Anywhere apparently, this looks to be another one of those multiple vantage point things.

Valerie pulled out the datapad and began looking at a map of the city. The road seemed to veer off at an angle from the grid pattern of the rest of the city. The road even intersected with the street we were on a few blocks from here. We both started evaluating different routes to the road and relayed any ominous feelings we got regarding particular routes to the road. Nimh added the information to her list and ran more studies. Eventually Valerie and I agreed the intersection of Forage Trail Road and Riverside Drive was the best place to try given the amount of cover available.

Getting back on the bikes, we rode through the streets to the intersection. The streets were largely empty as people either huddled in their homes or evacuated from the ongoing fighting. This made navigating the streets fairly easy though since most of the vehicles were parked. It only took a few moments to traverse the distance and come within sight of the intersection. Looking at the place, I would have said it was a fairly nondescript street intersection if I hadn’t already known better. My Force senses were already blaring a number of warnings about going out into that intersection. I could also tell that Valerie sensed it too.

(Kira) Nimh, we’re at the intersection of Forage Trail Road and Riverside Drive. It’s obvious we’ll be shot at if we head out into the open.

(Nimh) That’s nice, but I need to know what direction the shot comes from. There are currently three different regions of the city that have good line of sight there.

(Kira) Damn it. I can’t get a good enough impression on which direction the shot will come from. Can you Valerie?

(Valerie) No, there is too much interference right now to tell.

(Kira) Well it looks like one of us is going to have to get shot at again. Care to provide cover fire while I go out?

(Valerie) Trying to be heroic?

(Kira) Not at all, although I think we have shown I can pull a good amount of power for a short period of time more readily than you can.

She wasn’t happy to hear about it, but it was true. For whatever reason, I could pull on great bursts of power far more readily than she could. That much we proved in this whole mess of being shot at repeatedly. She still had me beat in terms of how much power one of us could actually sustain though. Right now, being able to sustain a technique at a high level for minutes wouldn’t mean squat if your head got blown off. Seconds counted right now and cramming as much power into those seconds as possible was all that stood between us and becoming a crater.

After checking that she was positioned and ready, I “strolled” into the intersection. Strolled wasn’t really accurate as I was trying very hard to act normally and not run. I could sense the Force warning me of the danger growing larger but held my ground next to a jewelry shop as I pretended to survey the remains of a fire from the day before. There wasn’t much left of the police station other than a still smoldering shell and barricades still encircling the place. I still focused my attention on the Force for warning that a shot was imminent as I circled around to look into a burnt out window.

NOW!

I didn’t hesistate as I dove into the window. A wave of heat hit me as the street on the other side of the window exploded and set some of the still smoldering embers of the building I was now in on fire. I didn’t stop moving for a moment as I leapt up through a hole in several of the floors above me to the fourth floor. My weight and the explosion outside started a partial collapse of the structure though and it became a race to stay ahead of the collapse as I hunted an exit. I quickly found one in another burnt out window looking at the roof of a short building next door. I took yet another running leap as I jumped out the window and rolled onto the roof of the adjacent building.

Dusting myself off and surveying my surroundings, I saw that I was in the middle of a rooftop cafe. The building I had just leapt from was in the midst of burning and collapsing in on itself. I heard the sound of emergency sirens quickly approaching. I heard someone speak from behind me.

(Soung) Not bad. The fire department should be here within moments. Of course, no one was in the building at the time save you.

I turned to see Councilman Soung sitting at one of the tables drinking some sort of beverage and reclining under an umbrella. He calmed the panicking waiter with a wave of his hand and turned his attention back to me.

(Kira) Enjoy watching little guys running around and getting shot at?

(Soung) Not at all. Consider it a performance evaluation. You are doing remarkably well for someone that has only been able to use his powers for a few years. I believe you have my granddaughter to thank for that.

(Kira) I believe that issue is between me and her.

(Soung) Perhaps, although I had been considering putting you into stasis for the next century or two just to be on the safe side.

(Kira) I don’t recommend trying that.

(Soung) And I don’t recommend doing anything that might harm her, boy.

(Kira) Are we done exchanging threats, cause I have a war to run here if you don’t mind?

(Soung) By all means, I shall continue evaluating your performance. Perhaps we might have more uses in store for you yet.

I didn’t even bother responding to that one as I walked to the edge of the roof and leapt over the railing to the street below. I landed a few feet from Valerie.

(Valerie) He shot from the Southeast. Looked to be an old hotel building. The others are trying to track him now. Nimh says we should have a few hours before the sniper starts shooting again.

(Kira) A few hours? Why?

(Valerie) She said it some sort of pattern she had detected in his shooting. She suspects he has to eat and rest during that timeframe.

(Kira) But that doesn’t make sense. A few hours wouldn’t be enough time. You can’t take a catnap and expect to keep this level of performance up. You know as well as I do that we can’t sleep in hypertime.

(Valerie) I know, but obviously he needs to do something during that timeframe, and it gives us an opportunity to rest a bit.

I leaned against the wall and slid down it to a sitting position. This was stressful on a lot of levels and I was getting tired. Force enhanced stamina only went so far after all. Although she didn’t dare show it, I could tell Valerie was getting tired too. A catnap was sounding really good right now. Hell, something to eat and drink would have been enough.

(Valerie) There is a cafe above us.

(Kira) Yeah, with your grandfather threatening to shove me into stasis to protect you.

(Valerie) I don’t need protecting. He’s just trying to push you and see how you respond.

(Kira) Tell him that.

With that she returned to her bike and started digging around the storage compartments. Finding whatever it was she was looking for, she tossed it to me. Catching it, I saw it was a ration pack. She had one too and was busily opening it as she sat against the wall with me. I quietly began eating when she spoke again.

(Valerie) It appears that my counterpart keeps rations and other supplies stashed on her bike much like I do on my own.

(Kira) Well, I won’t deny there aren’t similarities between the two of you. Although she isn’t a Sith.

(Valerie) And he uses his head more often than you do.

(Kira) And yet here we are together fighting against Faded much like they do.

She cracked a smile at that.

(Valerie) How’d that happen?

(Kira) I think it was when I was captured by the Sith, trained by them as an assassin, took superweapons to Alderaan, and then convinced much of the galaxy I destroyed a planet.

(Valerie) And all of this without falling to the Dark Side.

(Kira) Yep, can’t do everything right after all. I have to screw something up along the way in order to keep my reputation as a loser intact.

(Valerie) Most losers aren’t typically worth 1.4 trillion credits.

(Kira) And most Sith don’t endorse sending rescue missions to a nearly defeated Alderaan.

(Valerie) Can’t let the Faded conquer the place, it would make our struggle to conquer it for millenia look incredibly incompetent in comparison. Then we’d have to conquer it from them instead of a bunch of grass painters.

I couldn’t help to laugh at that one. Here I was stuck in an alternate timeline on an Alderaan under siege, wanted dead by most everyone back home, believed to be dead by most of the rest, all my friends and family missing and presumed kidnapped, and working for a bunch of Sith that barely tolerate me because of a simple quirk of fate. And yet, sitting here with Valerie, it didn’t really feel so bad anymore.

We heard an explosion towards the South but couldn’t see what the commotion was about. Valerie and I could sense though that a battle was unfolding between the party and someone we couldn’t feel. That meant they had likely found the sniper and were engaging him. I could tell the odds of us reaching the battle in time to make a difference was slim at best, but there was another way to contribute in all this. With the others battling the sniper, it was likely that the arsonist was going to be focused on them for the near term and not focusing on us.

Valerie obviously had the same idea as we both got up from our sitting positions and got onto our bikes. I still was having trouble getting used to the fact the thing actually had wheels though as we fired them up and took off down the street towards the remaining Faded. The noise of the tires made using the commlinks difficult at best, but we had another means of communication that worked nicely in this circumstances.

<Kira> Alright, I think you need to lead on this. The last time I tried to hunt down and kill someone powerful it resulted in a lot of people thinking I destroyed the planet. I’d rather not start doing that here too.

<Valerie> Good, I dislike this whole operating out in the open as a decoy for others business. I much prefer the stalking and killing. Much cleaner, more direct, and not so dependent on the performance of others.

<Kira> That’s fine, as long as we don’t get in over our heads. These Faded are tough. At least we don’t have to shield our powers from the Faded. But we need to move fast if we are to get there before our arsonist decides to relocate.

<Valerie> Agreed, speed is the key, but I would rather sneak up and get the element of surprise as opposed to rushing straight at him in Hypertime though. And hopefully when we do engage him, some of the other Council members will be able to get there in time to help with the battle.

And so we were off, moving at high speed down the roads least likely to grant the Faded arsonist a chance to see our approach. Hopefully the others did all right capturing or killing the sniper, or else Valerie and I were going to be caught between two powerful ranged attackers real quick.

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One Response

  1. […] Special Agent Nimh Tahl’s Field Report: Session Fifty Five […]

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