Note: While Xiang has now remembered her real name, her general personality – as determined by the player – has in no way changed. Ergo, she’s still going to be referred to as Xiang for the moment.
And so we sat and waited. Or at least, I sat and waited. The others were still busily setting up their traps and such for the Faded assault. Something was wrong with this whole proceeding, but I wasn’t entirely sure what. Valerie was too preoccupied by her preparations to bother listening to my concerns, as was everyone else. We’re missing something critical, but exactly what continues to elude me.
About the time of the predicted assault, the bridge shuddered and there was the sound of multiple explosions nearby. Gravity had a momentary interruption, and the bridge switched to emergency lighting. Smoche immediately started swearing about something too. My senses were warning me that something beyond a simple bridge assault was going on.
Ben swore. Drat it! They’d set so many booby traps and concentrated their forces so much that assaulting the bridge had become a really low-probability route to seizing control! So – of course – the faded had gone elsewhere! He should have foreseen that, but he hadn’t thought to check!
Shipwreck – working with Smoche – started scanning bridge systems…
Lazlo hefted his faded prisoner in stasis; he’d make a fine shield!
(Smoche) Most of the control connections to the bridge have been severed. Systems are being rerouted to secondary control.
(Kira) What’s secondary control?
(Ben) That’s the backup bridge.
(Kira) Wait, we have one of those?
(Kira) Alright, where?
Ben then pulled up a display and had an indicator light up where the secondary bridge was at. Orienting myself against the map, I turned to the appropriate door and powered on my lightsaber. I wouldn’t put it past the Faded to engage the door locks and disable the controls to keep us from leaving the bridge, but I highly doubted they knew how fast I could cut my way out. Stabbing the door with a thrust, I then began to cut open a hole.
Thankfully my senses gave me enough warning to power off the lightsaber and leap back far enough to avoid the explosion that tore through the door. Shipwreck started warning about more devices implanted on the doors to deter more such actions – where Ben hadn’t throughly trapped the bulkheads and decks. At least the path down the corridor to the lift was now clear.
How did they manage to get this many traps and explosions off so quickly without us noticing? It wasn’t like they could use hypertime right now. I stared down that corridor hard and quickly concluded that more traps were likely to lie between me and the secondary bridge. And given the amount of swearing coming from Smoche, time was not on our side in this matter. Xiang, Jacob, and Lazlo immediately took off down the corridor in a blind charge.
Shipwreck was scanning… It looked like they had one faded – with what was left of what had to have been a plentiful supply of smartmines – running about at high speed and blowing up conduits and slapping mines on doors. How was he… Ah. A SERIOUS hypertime expert; he was using micro-bursts of extremely high speed to get in between Smoche’s hyperjump cycling – which was a good deal slower now, thanks to the damage to the power core. The guy was still only averaging about four times normal speed even without a witness, but between that and phasing, that was letting him drop bombs at strategic points awfully easily.
Smoche was livid! Explosives? In HIS control systems? This was not to be borne!
Lazlo and Xiang promptly dived ot the door and headed for a fast-transport tube. Those ran to the secondary bridges so that – in the case of damage to one bridge – the survivors could resume control in the shortest possible time.
The capsule headed off at extremely high speed – passing through some of the odder environmental parks along the way. The Mrs Beasley HAD been intended to be able to offer accommodations to almost any known sapient creature after all…
Jacob hesitated a moment – and then headed out after Lazlo and Xiang. There would be enough people to guard the bridge against a single faded, even if they were pretty mean!
I needed to move fast and in an unanticipated way. Hmm, maybe turning the trap idea in on itself would work well in this situation.
(Kira) I want you to rotate the ship so that the secondary bridge occupies this position.
(Valerie) What are you doing?
(Kira) I am going to phase through the window while Handell rotates the ship under me. With any luck, I will end up outside the secondary bridge.
(Ben) That’s a great idea!
(Valerie) Of all the stupid, insane stunts! At least stay inside the ship and just phase through the walls!
(Kira) Fine. Smoche, would you be terribly upset if I destroy the controls in the secondary bridge?
(Smoche) I’ll be terribly upset if they get control of my ship.
Actually there were five secondary bridges – so the ship could be operated regardless of the damaged area and current facing – but that didn’t make any difference at the moment.
(Kira) I’ll take that as a yes then. Handell, you ready?
(Handell) A few seconds to get the calculations loaded.
(Alys) I’m coming too.
(Valerie) I’m going to stay here and help defend the bridge.
Ben made sure his traps in the wall were deactivated. About a minute later Handell announced he was ready to rotate the Mrs Beasley. I gave the go-ahead and phased. It was hard not to flinch as the wall suddenly accelerated towards my face. Walls flicked past far faster than I could keep track as the Mrs Beasley rotated underneath my feet. The impression of a holo special effect was hard to shake off as I watched massive amounts of corridors, rooms, and machinery pass me by without feeling a thing.
Alys didn’t manage to phase – but Ben managed it nicely.
Meanwhile, Lalzo and Xiang were hurtling towards the secondary control room stop at high speed – and Lazlo was getting increasingly nervous. There was something very wrong here… He jammed the emergency stop button – and the braking system started slowing the capsule. Xiang started forcing open a back panel.
The reason for that apprehension appeared at the end of the tube – a monowire grid, freshly spot-welded into place. Xiang managed to bail out in time, but Lazlo – encumbered by his “shield” – had more difficulty, and wound up slightly injuring himself and slicing several limbs off his “shield” as he got out of the tangle.
Damn… They could see into the secondary bridge, but the angle certainly wasn’t favorable for what ranged weapons they had and the tube proved too solid for even Lazlo to bend. Making it far, FAR, worse was the fact that Jacob was coming up behind them in another capsule…
(Jacob) Those fools what are they doing in this tunnel?? Oh it is the Newlyweds…This is no place for a romantic stroll!
He hit his own emergency stop – but could see that it wouldn’t be in time. Then Xiang set her force-pike into the walls and braced for impact.
It was really too bad that, after a hundred millennia of using inertial dampers, the galaxy had quite forgotten the secrets of “seat belts”.
Impressively, it held up. Such were the benefits of buying the best possible equipment and investing your own energies in it.
With the front of the capsule folding around Xiang, Jacob was hurled halfway through what was left to collide with her as well – slightly injuring himself, although Xiang tanked it easily again… She was just as bad as Lazlo, even in her right mind! It was something of a shame that the couple seemed to be considering breaking up!
She yanked him the rest of the way out after confriming that no one else was coming this way and headed back to the barrier…
It looked like the monowire barrier was the work of a small spider-droid… The faded had apparently anticipated the use of the fast-transport tube in the assault. Jacob thought that was silly! Thanks to his artificer-technique, droids were easy to manipulate! Silly faded!
He seized control and sent it after it’s prior masters – then set to work with his lightsabers; even if the monowire was tough enough to resist a lightsaber, the walls of the tube – and the spotwelds – were NOT.
Meanwhile, Handell had completed his calculations – and spun the ship. Since Alys had missed the ride, she went back to telepresence – sending in a wave of security droids to back the others.
I appeared on the bridge with a bang of displaced air. I saw two Faded in the room: one reading an instruction manual, and the other swearing at a control panel that was flipping switches back after he flipped them himself. (probably due to Smoche). Both turned in shock as they noticed my arrival, along with Ben’s. Alys presumably got lost somewhere in the process.
Moving before they had a chance to respond, I unleashed a storm of Force lightning across all the panels and consoles with all the power I could muster. Blue arcs of electricity crawled across all the controls, detonating some panels, fusing others, and causing small explosions and clouds of smoke all around me. That neatly derailed any plans they might have had regarding using this place to take control of the Mrs Beasley.
At that point one of them reacted by suddenly directing the energies I had just unleashed to underneath my feet. More power then flowed into the mess as it all then proceeded to detonate and rip through the flooring underneath me. I pulled again on the Force hard to resist injury and to keep my footing as I stepped through the fires and arcs of electricity towards the Faded. Ben was blown back by the detonation, but it looked like I had the Faded’s full attention right now.
The other Faded was looking at me with a mixture of horror and shock as he suddenly did something with the Codex difficult to read. I got my answer almost immediately as to what he thought he was trying to do as the lights went dim, the sensation of gravity disappeared, and my Force senses went dull. He was obviously trying to push me out of the universe and succeeding much better than I would have anticipated against a Force user. I grabbed onto the Force as hard as I could, trying to resist the push out. Unfortunately my struggles were not going well as I could feel the threads binding me to this reality slip away from me one by one.
How is he able to push out a Force user? Is he really that powerful, is it because I am a hybrid, or is it because I am not native to this galaxy? Or more than one of those?
Despite my struggles, the threads binding me here all slipped from my grasp and everything went black. Then with a brilliant white flash, I found myself back on the bridge standing next to Valerie. Before I could even react she smacked me on the back of the head.
(Valerie) Quit falling out of space and time!
Back on the main bridge, Alys had deployed enough security droids to chase the faded saboteur onto the bridge – at least with the help of Valerie and Lisella using the force to attack him and sending grenades chasing him – and had confronted him with her talent for taking command and ordering people around (backed by a force point, for a 58). Between that, and the fact that he was confronted with rather a lot of opponents, he was wavering pretty badly.
Sadly, back on the secondary bridge, the initial battle wasn’t going well… Ben had managed to evade most of the initial electrical blast, but now had his feet welded to the floor and a high-voltage cable running power through his armor. Fortunately, Jacob, Lazlo, and Xiang were cutting their way out of the transport tube.
Everyone on the bridge was staring at me except Khadim, 10CH, Valerie, and Lisella. Then I noticed that a presumed Faded was also staring at my sudden arrival. Alys was the first to respond coherently.
(Alys) Surrender, as you can see, our resources and abilities far exceed anything you can possibly imagine.
Whatever resolve the guy had wilted in the face of the numbers and power arrayed against him. Valerie and Lisella moved quickly to restrain him while I went to Handell. He looked up from his drinking surprised to see me.
(Kira) Can you rotate the ship again to put me back on the secondary bridge?
(Handell) When did you get back? Wait, you want me to do that again?
(Kira) Yes, I don’t think the others are doing well.
(Handell) Hold on, give me a minute to get the calculations entered again. You want fast or right?
Valerie took that moment to give me a dirty look from across the bridge.
(Kira) Do it right. Hopefully the others can hold off long enough for me to help.
Back on the alternate bridge, Jacob had hurled his lightsabers at the two faded – and had seriously injured their phasing specialist, who’d expected the lightsaber to pass through him harmlessly. Ben had tried to transfer the heat from his armor into the Shifter’s blaster, that had worked tolerably well – at least costing the guy a weapon – but he needed help quickly…
Lazlo moved in to hit people, which some success – dodging the various explosions and electrical arcs along the way – but another unlikely shift in the electrical powerflows courtesy of the faded left Ben even more injured and Jacob barely conscious….
Fortunately, that left Alys’s droids concentrating their fire on a single target – and they managed to briefly stun him. If you filled the air with enough blaster bolts, something would leak through the interface eventually.
Xiang promptly impaled him with her vibropike. He’d let her first couple of strikes pass harmlessly through – but he couldn’t do that while stunned…. The man attempted to twist the timeline into one where that hadn’t happened , but only succeeded halfway; he arrived on that timeline – but no one else did, and he was unable to repair the breech of reality.
From everyone else’s point of view, he was just gone.
The gravely injured Shifter attempted to eject all of them from reality – and would have managed it with most of them if the force hadn’t aided them (via much spending of force points). With his failure, the backlash took him – and a bunch of the droids – as well.
That was a VERY good thing; Ben was cooking and nearly out, Jacob was cooking and nearly out, Lazlo had some serious wounds (and his “shield” was quite dead), and only Xiang was in decent shape.
Fortunately, Alys could afford to send in more droids.
It took the better part of a minute for Handell to do his thing again. Again I phased right as the wall lunged at me and the ship rotated underneath my feet. The effect wasn’t nearly as disorienting this time, by it was still incredibly difficult to suppress the urge to flinch. Appearing on the bridge with another blast of displaced air, I saw the battle had concluded without me. Neither Faded was anywhere to be seen. Xiang and Lazlo looked somewhat bruised and battered. Ben and Jacob looked to be having other issues. A symptom of this distress was evident from the fact that both their feet were welded to the floor.
Meanwhile, Jacob was “adopting” the spinner-droid (and having it reel in it’s monowire) and ordering more. Those were kind of cool!
Oops… Channeling the force into his bionics to try and heal them was making him feel their damage as pain! That had been a REALLY BAD IDEA! Ow!
He put it into the Mrs Beasley instead. That would help things!
Alys was already remotely directing droids to cut Ben and Jacob free, but I shoved the droids aside and did the job myself with a lightsaber in a fraction of the time. Droids then immediately took everyone to medical for treatment. Droids were verbally giving the complaints I was silently giving in my head. We were taking too much damage in this. Jacob especially was accruing damage far too quickly. And we still had around eight Faded on the loose.
I was also dismayed to find out that Lazlo had killed his prisoner before we even had a chance to interrogate him. The fact that he found absolutely nothing wrong with this idea gave me the impression of a house cat presenting a dead bird on the porch. The dark energies I felt coming from him also weren’t reassuring. It felt a lot different from the Varen I’ve met, and a lot more like some of the worst apprentices at the Academy like Jurin.
And yet everyone calls me a Sith and the one most likely to fall to the Dark Side.
Alys already had droids cleaning out corridors of traps. The fires in the secondary bridge were quickly put out and Smoche was back in control of things from what I understood. I briefly considered joining Virstris and the others in fighting off the Faded assault on the power core, but received one of those Force promptings to wait for the moment. So I stood in the remains of the secondary bridge and watched the ongoing battle out the window.
Like I knew she would, I felt her approach and enter the room.
<Valerie> You are damned lucky you have me around to save your ass.
<Kira> Well, it wasn’t my intention to get shoved out of the universe in the first place.
<Valerie> The twi’lek is already asking annoying questions about that whole fiasco. She can’t seem to take the hint to drop it.
<Kira> I figure it is only a matter of time before she figures it out.
<Valerie> A lot faster than you did no less.
<Kira> I guess I do owe you a thank you for earlier.
<Valerie> Let’s hear it then.
<Kira> I said I owe you one. It means you’ll get it later, probably after I find one to give. When’s your birthday?
<Valerie> Maybe I’ll ask for your head on a pike too.
<Kira> Now, now, we both know the consequences of that.
<Valerie> Yet you continually fling yourself out of the universe.
<Kira> I didn’t fling myself, I was pushed out. And you know damned well I fought that effort.
<Valerie> Then maybe you need to learn how to better anchor yourself instead of relying on me to pull you back.
<Kira> And how exactly do you suppose I practice that? Most people don’t have to worry about sudden existence failures.
<Valerie> Oh I’m sure I can think of something.
The conversation went quiet at that point as I turned back around to look out the window of the bridge. The battle was still raging outside as the Faded ships fired fruitlessly at our shields trying to score a meaningful hit. The number of ships involved was impressive. It sorta reminded me of the massive battle I saw in the holos as most of the fleets back home around the Mrs Beasley. There were so many ships darting around at such a distance it almost looked like the stars were moving around us.
Wait a minute….
Valerie quickly noticed my shifting attention as I started trying to get a rough count of the ships around us.
(Valerie) What is it?
(Kira) There’s too many ships.
(Valerie) What do you mean? The shields seem to be holding up fine despite the damage.
(Kira) I mean that there shouldn’t be this many ships out there.
(Valerie) Now you presume to tell the Faded how many they can bring to battle?
(Kira) How many were attacking Alderaan when we arrived?
(Valerie) You know this, fourteen major ships and a few hundred fighters.
(Kira) And why were they attacking Alderaan?
(Valerie) Again, you know this. Because it is one of the last major fortress world between the Faded and most of the Rim. Most of the other routes only give you access to a small fraction of the Galaxy, but if you take Alderaan there is nothing to stop you from reaching the void at the edge of the Galaxy. If the Faded take Alderaan, they effectively win against the Codifiers. Destroying the Codifiers means they can wish themselves into paradise – at least according to their twisted religion.
(Kira) And yet, there are several thousand ships out there right now.
She stared out the window as the realization of what I was saying dawned on her. Annoyingly she immediately began her own counting of ships as if this was another thing I couldn’t be trusted to do right.
(Valerie) It has to be factional infighting that has prevented them from pulling it off – unless they were just attacking everywhere to keep Alderaan from getting any reinforcements.
(Kira) I don’t believe it.
(Valerie) It’s stopped the Sith from taking Alderaan.
(Kira) Except the Sith have something else to contend with: the Republic fleet. The Faded don’t have that issue.
(Valerie) Hm… Many of those ships don’t look to be dedicated warships per se. The actual number of warships may be significantly smaller. In fact… perhaps we should check with Shipwreck. I see very little major weapons fire.
(Kira) The fact that they exist at all still poses a problem. Either the defenses of the Codifiers and Alderaan were much sturdier thirty days ago, or something is seriously wrong with this picture.
There was actually; Kira was a bit too used to the fleets of his own galaxy; there actually wasn’t a single ship on the scale he was used to out there – and his unconscious assumption that the largest ships he could see were star destroyers (rather than light cruisers) was throwing him badly off.
(Valerie) Well what do you propose? Do you really think they are so incompetent that they can’t get more than fourteen ships together to fight their most hated enemy?
(Kira) How am I supposed to know? Since the Dark Side seems to cause brain damage, maybe Fading causes stupidity?
Just then I realized what I just said and to whom. Valerie spoke again, and the icy tone of her voice was impossible to miss.
(Valerie) Brain damage?
Opening my mouth again was just going to result in more trouble, so I kept my mouth shut.
(Valerie) Is that what you really think?
(Valerie) You will answer me now.
(Kira) After spending time with Artificers, Arethi, Jedi, Jacob, HoloSith and even Varen, it is hard to deny the idea that the different factions more closely resemble various mental disorders as opposed to factional cultures. I think it was Smoche and Ichara that really drove the point home.
I could feel that sea of anger within her boiling. To say she wasn’t reacting well to the perceived insult was an understatement. I was just surprised at how much it seemed to be affecting her. She actually seemed to be quite hurt by it, yet I would have thought it something she’d have brushed off flippantly. The only time I had seen her this upset was when I mocked her lightsaber. That had ugly implications for what was about to happen next.
I absently stepped back as my hands slowly edged towards the lightsabers at my sides. Just when I thought the anger was about to boil over, she suddenly went very cold and her face went impassive. All I could tell over the link was that something had come down hard on her anger and squashed it. The recognition that it had to be sheer willpower made my hair stand on end. When she spoke again, is was in a very quiet, emotionless tone.
(Valerie) Back to the business at hand, what do you propose is going on with the Faded fleet?
(Kira) I don’t know. All I know is that by my own estimations, we have several galaxies worth of Faded and ships out there attacking…. us…. now….
(Valerie) I take it you’ve thought of something?
(Kira) Maybe that is several galaxies worth of Faded and ships.
(Valerie) And you complain about the twi’lek being cryptic.
(Kira) No, think about it. This galaxy has been slowly fragmenting. The old maps pretty much prove it. We’ve been assuming that it’s been losing the occasional planet or star, but what if it is losing a fraction of the stars every so often? This one galaxy has instead been fragmenting into many, each with a fraction of the stars of the original.
(Valerie) Ok, but that doesn’t explain why they’re all here.
(Kira) But what if our incredibly unlikely journey to the Galactic Core to fix things is causing the pieces to reassemble? We even have an atavist aboard. He’s been fixing the Censor as we’ve found out the hard way.
(Valerie) But why would it be reassembling so much here compared with Alderaan?
(Kira) Because we are getting close to the stasis field where all the divergence hasn’t happened. All timelines converge back on this section of the galaxy which has been locked into an instant in time for millennia now.
(Valerie) I still find it hard to buy into. Assuming that the Faded can’t work together is a lot simpler than inventing new physics.
(Kira) I’ve had a lot of people try to lecture me on what can and can’t be done. I let the evidence decide and I don’t make conclusions before then.
(Valerie) You would be a lot more convincing if you hadn’t taken years to realize the truth in front of your eyes.
Sheepishly I had to concede the point.
Checking in with Virstris showed some progress against the Faded assaulting the power core. Handell had been assisting as best he could by rotating the ship while Faded were phased. This had helped split up the six Faded, and Handell had apparently even succeeded in throwing one into the room with a hole leading straight to the power core. So that left five Faded remaining on that end split up into three groups. Virstris and the others were working with Alys to continue to isolate and overwhelm the now smaller Faded groups. Of the two that managed to sneak through the shields earlier, one was now missing, while the other was still at large.
It was around that timeframe when I felt two massive surges of Force power emanating from deeper in the ship. The first one felt a look like what Smoche and Ichara do with imbuing equipment with Force energies except this one was focused on the Mrs Beasley as a whole. The second pulse was “focused” on the Faded ships around and behind us. Given who I suspected was behind those two blasts of power, I highly suspected the second one was aimed at pushing more buttons. As proof, the Faded fleet around us immediately fell into chaos, confusion, and some ships were even destroyed.
Between that and our final approach to the Galactic Black Hole, the Faded assaults on the Mrs Beasley began to drop off. Apparently they weren’t insane enough to want to follow us near an almost invisible black hole. Can’t say I blame them, not everyone could have a pilot as good as Handell and a sensor specialist like Shipwreck. Handell wasn’t appreciative of my faith in his abilities though.
This thing looked a lot more like what people visualize when they think of a black hole. It was the purest pitch black and utterly featureless from what I could tell. Nowadays I knew enough to realize that wasn’t what I was supposed to be seeing. The accretion disk and jets were missing, nor was the thing generating an appreciable gravity well at this distance. Which for a black hole a thousand light years across was more than a bit odd. To me this suggested that the second stage stasis field hypothesis was gaining significant traction.
This left the issue of what to do now that we were here. The debate between the experts began, in the meantime I turned my attention back to the Faded on board and the effort to clean them out of our ship.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 57 from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 56 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 58 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Special Investigator Nimh Tahl’s Field Report – Session 55 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 47 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)