With the fate of the others possibly weeks from being determined, I needed something to occupy my time until then. Pondering things for a few minutes, a thought occurred to me. A quick check of the computer systems told me where I needed to go to find who I was looking for. I boarded an elevator and directed it to the 8th recreation center.
Lazlo, meanwhile, was enjoying himself a bit… Handell was safely occupied, most of the people who drove him crazy were stuck in slow time in a black hole, and he had free run of the ship and it’s manufacturing facilities!
He decided that what it REALLY needed was a waterpark.
Annoyingly, I could sense Valerie moving to intercept me from elsewhere in the ship. Apparently I did something to perk her interest, or she felt the need to give me yet another condescending lecture. I was not the least surprised when the elevator door opened to reveal Valerie standing there in front of me.
(Valerie) You’re planning something.
(Kira) Do I need to present the plan before the committee before implementation?
(Valerie) I am not a committee!
(Kira) Ah yes, forgive me, Mistress Soung. What can your humble apprentice Verun Navaro do for you this evening?
The look of frustration and annoyance of her face was amusing to see. At least she didn’t take herself quite as seriously as her father did.
(Valerie) I want to know what it is you’re scheming. You’ve got some goal in mind and I want to know what it is.
(Kira) Then why don’t you come along and find out?
She stepped into the elevator with an annoyed huff. I directed the elevator to continue with the original destination again. Soon enough we were deposited at the 8th recreation center. This particular place seemed modeled on some idyllic beach resort. A number of the crew and their families were busily relaxing while droids waited on everyone. It kinda reminded me of Archegyph, except for the lack of giant monstrous jellyfish bioweapons. Visually scanning the people, I found who I was looking for reclined under an umbrella.
(Remilias) I take it you want something? I am not entering that black hole, no matter how safe you tell me it is.
(Kira) I want training.
(Remilias) Training? I thought you were a Binder.
(Kira) I am, but I also can use the Codex. I guess you can say that makes me a hybrid of sorts.
(Kira) I’ve received some training as a Codifier already. Unfortunately, my alternate’s wife is rather stingey with further training these days.
Remilias gestured towards Valerie.
(Remilias) Isn’t that her alternate?
(Kira) Yes, that is correct.
(Remilias) So wouldn’t that make it your wife’s alternate?
(Valerie) Not quite.
(Remilias) Ah, my mistake. You two hang around each other so much I figured the parallels were greater than that. So you’ve been trained as a Codifier, and wish to continue your training, even if it is from a Faded such as myself?
(Kira) Well considering I’ve been trained by evil Binders out to conquer the Galaxy, good Binders out to save the Galaxy, and Codifiers out to save a different Galaxy, I figured I might as well go for the entire set.
(Remilias) Well, since this is a life of luxury you’ve given me that I am unlikely to find elsewhere and you are trying to actually save the Galaxy, I will train you. I am going to need a large room and quite a bit of specialized supplies first.
(Kira) Tell the droids what you want, and I will add it to the production queue. I really doubt finding a suitable room is going to be very difficult to find.
(Remilias) I imagine not. I will get you the list, and then let me know when the equipment is ready.
(Kira) I will.
With that I left him to his relaxing and went to the bar for something alcoholic to drink. Valerie was still following me though. I sat down and told the droid bartender to make a Lithusian Malt and was annoyed that it didn’t know how. I ran through several more drinks that I knew and it didn’t before I eventually settled for a vintage wine. A glass of wine was then promptly handed to me. Valerie sat down next to me and annoyingly the first thing she ordered the droid actually knew.
(Valerie) Are you really wanting training from a Faded?
(Kira) Well the Codifiers haven’t been rather forthcoming about a trainer so far. I need more training if I am going to become good at this. No offense, but I can’t simply rely on you for all my training.
(Valerie) This still is about not falling to the Dark Side isn’t it? You’re willing to engage in learning all sorts of dangerous techniques and knowledge, yet you refuse to learn our methods of control.
(Kira) Control? It seems to me that you’re the one struggling with maintaining a consistent timerate using Hypertime.
(Valerie) You’ve had more practice than me is all.
She was lying. It was becoming increasingly obvious that the Dark Side was interfering with her ability to use the Codex and she knew it. Her pride was preventing her from admitting it though.
(Kira) Well here is a perfect opportunity to rectify that then.
(Valerie) Fine then. Let us both get training.
Some time later I got the list of equipment and how much space Remilias needed for the training exercises. None of the items on the list looked untoward to me, so I forwarded the list to the manufacturing queue and told the systems to system to deliver the equipment to an appropriately sized room. Once the equipment was completed and delivered, the system would then alert Remilias, Valerie, and I.
Notice arrived the next day that things were ready. By the time I arrived in the designated cargo hold, I found that both Remilias and Valerie had already beaten me here.
(Remilias) Alright, let’s see how much you’ve learned. Let’s run through the basics.
We went through a series of exercises for Shifting, Phasing, and Tempus in succession. Occasionally, Remilias would ask us to try a different exercise to better determine deficiencies in our abilities. Running through the exercises would have been boring, if it weren’t for the fact that Valerie was clearly struggling with her control. This was a rare opportunity to show her up and rub her nose in it. Eventually Remilias halted the exercises.
(Remilias) Alright, I would say the two of you would both classify as Codifier Gunslingers. You would probably be a mid-range Gunslinger, while Valerie I would say is a low range Gunslinger. You both seem to have a good grasp of the basics, so I think it best to start with some more exercises to work on your power and control. We’ll work on the advanced techniques later.
What followed was a number of exercises against droids and each other. I had to admit, the shooting each other with foam darts while phasing against counters bit was my favorite exercise of the whole batch. Correspondingly it was Valerie’s least favorite portion of the training as she got smacked repeatedly as she failed to phase properly at times.
Training took place over a number of days. We both saw improvements to our skills, although it was obvious Valerie was catching up quickly to me. Interestingly, her mood seemed to subtly improve over the course of the training exercises and she spent more time on the Codex side of things. She wasn’t working quite as hard to stay on the controlled side of things. That did make the darkening of her mood as she switched back to the Force side of things all that more stark and disconcerting.
We had been at it for a little over a week when Telera came over the intercom.
(Telera) Kira, we have a number of Faded vessels making very slow approaches and trying to hail us.
I could only imagine that this was going to be yet another “Surrender and we will let you live” line of nonsense. I am not a negotiator by any means, and I’ve never been much of a people person either. Still, just outright ignoring them was just going to provoke more boarding attempts. And that meant I had to attempt to see if they wanted something reasonable and work from there.
I found Smoche on the bridge still doing his arcane things with the hyperdrive systems. Telera was watching the comm, Shipwreck was running sensors, Handell was still watching our position, and Lazlo was no where to be found. Lisella was still fooling no one with her knitting, and Valerie had followed me up to the bridge. I walked next to Telera and looked at the console she was poking at.
(Kira) So who have we got?
(Telera) Looks like a delegation of some of the more powerful Faded.
Whether or not that alliance would hold or if it was worth driving a wedge into was going to need more information we didn’t have. It wasn’t like precognition and mind-reading were going to be of much help in this either. I got no indication from Valerie not to handle it myself, so I gestured to Telera to open a comm channel.
On the main screen appeared a number of individuals. Most appeared to be human, but there were a few aliens. Interestingly, there didn’t seem to be any sort of dress code or popular clothing style with the Faded like the Sith were so fond of. The man at the center of the group spoke first.
(Darren) I am Darren Mccoy of the Corellian Protectorate. My colleages and I of the Pursuer Alliance demand your surrender and the immediate handover of your vessel.
(Kira) Really? And what exactly makes you think you can enforce any such demands? We did just pass through your territory without much of any impedance from you or your allies. Your boarding parties that actually managed to get through the shields are either dead or added to our collection of frozen annoyances.
(Darren) We would be most upset to see the loss of your vessel since you seem particularly set on being suicidally close to a black hole. I think we could find much better uses for it and allow you to suicide anyway.
(Kira) Ah, like taking it to Alderaan and crushing the Codifiers and the Alliance once and for all?
(Darren) They are preventing us from reforming the Galaxy into an eternal paradise.
(Kira) No, what is preventing you from remaking the Galaxy as you wish is the fact that the Codex simply doesn’t work that way. You’re missing a critical element known to you as the Binding.
(Darren) We’ve heard of it. It is the stuff of fables and legends. Ancient nonsense is all there is of it.
(Kira) Don’t be dense. You have to be aware of the fact that there exist monotalents that cannot be readily replicated with the Codex no matter what you do.
(Darren) We are aware of such things.
(Kira) Then perhaps you are aware of the fact that your galaxy is falling apart? There were a lot more planets and stars 18,000 years ago.
(Darren) It is simply because the Codifiers refuse to allow us to create paradise with their fiendish resistance.
(Kira) Considering they have the same power set as you and far fewer numbers, I think any fraying of the Galaxy rests on your shoulders first and foremost. The fact that your kind exterminated the Binders millennia ago has only made the situation worse.
(Darren) How so?
I then proceeded to explain the theory of how the Force bound things together, how the Codex broke those bonds, and what this was doing to their Galaxy. I refused to actually give enough detail that they might try to train Force users, but abstract theory and demonstrations I was willing to give.
Over the next several days it eventually devolved into an argument over what we thought we could do better to fix this Galaxy that they couldn’t. I would have thought the weird technologies, massive ship, weird abilities, and actually having a clue what we were doing might suggest we had a better chance than their millenia of failure, but I was astounded by the religious rhetoric that would get thrown around as “fact”. I was about to go on another rant when Telera spoke up.
(Telera) It appears that Alys, Ben and Jacob didn’t pass the point of no return. Their communication signal is slowly gaining frequency again after reaching a minimum frequency an hour ago.
(Kira) Ok, so how long until they get out of the distortion?
(Smoche) Same amount of time it took for them to reach this point obviously. The timewell is symmetrical after all – unless Jacob reacts quickly enough to alter something.
(Kira) So nearly two weeks?
I wasn’t looking forward to arguing with the Faded for another two weeks it took for Alys to get back and take over. So I directed Handell to find us an asteroid we could use as raw material and fuel so we could effect repairs to the Mrs Beasley. The Faded protested for a bit over us ignoring them, but I replied back that I wasn’t interested in negotiating with someone who refused to acknowledge a position other than their own. That didn’t earn me any friends in the Faded fleet, but I really didn’t care.
There was still the occasional verbal sparring as they followed the Mrs Beasley and continued to make demands. We in the meantime found an asteroid, started the process of using it as raw materials, and then returned to where Alys and the others were going to expect us to be. I spent the bulk of my time training and speaking with some of the more moderate Faded who wished to understand more about the Force and how we thought we might be able to use it to repair the Galaxy. Darren wasn’t happy when I refused to speak with him any longer though.
Not that I really cared what he thought of me.
Eventually after more than a week, we started getting meaningful communications with Alys, Ben, and Jacob. At first it took some effort to get through the pitch and volume distortions, but things got better over time. True to predictions, they had only experienced a few seconds, while we experienced weeks. Jacob was visibly tired by something though.
(Kira) Alys, remember when I said I wanted you to just look, and not do anything stupid?
(Kira) Well, consider this fair warning that I am putting in a request for droids to smack you once you get back aboard the Mrs Beasley.
She started swearing at me at that point, but it was a simple matter of hitting the mute button until she was finished. Astoundingly, they wanted to do more scouting instead of returning immediately. I ended up shutting off the channel in frustration. It certainly seemed like Alys’s suicidal tendencies were back again. That coupled with Ben and Jacob was sure to lead to more halfway thought through plans being implemented.
Down inside the black hole, the event-horizon – or hyperspace-flaw – filament that the group had gotten too close to had started anchoring Jacob’s time-bubble into the galactic black hole – and he wasn’t prepared for that. The stasis field fluctuated, both around its fringes, leaking slightly higher-frequency radiation. The tendrils had almost started to move as Jacob and the others had nearly fallen into stasis.
They’d pulled away barely in time, in part thanks to the fact that the music from the Mrs Beasley soaring towards an ultrasonic scream had signaled the problem. For them it had only been a fraction of a second…
Still, even with Jacob tiring, it had seemed a pity to waste the trip.
It looked like there had been some reporters outside the senate when things had gone wrong – and they’d certainly have some information.
They snagged one. Explaining that time had been “turned off” took a little while – but the sights all around them were evidence enough.
Their reporter knew a fair amount. Huriel had forced the Jedi to surrender with a threat of mass bombardment, and had imprisoned them in orbit aboard a sith star destroyer with “impenetrable” defenses. He’d blown up the Jedi Temple afterwards – probably just to be symbolic – and had been addressing the senate. He’d claimed that – unless the Republic Fleet surrendered to him – he would singlehandedly destroy them all with the force.
The fleet had refused of course – and everything had apparently stopped…
Well, THAT was definitely some information worth having – and it told them where Huriel was too. Almost certainly right at the center of all those damned tendrils.
I ended up throwing myself into another training session with Valerie while we waited again. Remilias had shown us the exercises and benchmarks for us to work with and now was spending most of his time back at that beach resort to relax more. That also meant that without an instructor to watch over us, the training started to drift more and more into outright sparring. Lightsabers were replaced with extensible batons, blasters were replaced with paint guns, and trash talk began escalating as the sparring became more aggressive.
First thing that I think surprised us both was the fact of how much I’ve caught up to her. She still had the advantage of the power from the Dark Side and years of experience with Force powers, but it was clear that my superior control of the Codex and using it in tandem with the Force had narrowed that advantage of her’s a lot. It was also easy to see that it was frustrating her immensely. The escalation of attacks from both of us quickly was getting out of control.
Valerie then threw a large crate at me telekinetically in an attempt to pin me while she pulled a finishing move. She wasn’t prepared for me phasing through the crate and right in front of her as I moved to slam her. My shoulder impacted her in the chest as we collided. I felt real pleased with myself for finally knocking her down when her blazing white foot slammed into the side of my head hard. My vision was a mess of spots from the blow and I could tell from my other senses that I had been sent spinning. My muscles didn’t want to respond to my command and I hit the floor hard. Luckily I still had enough control of the Force to absorb the fall without more injury.
It took a few moments to realize that the pain in my chest wasn’t my own. Sitting up was a tricky matter of remastering balance and getting my vision to stop swirling, but I soon managed to get a look at Valerie. She was clearly nursing a few ribs and her leg.
(Kira) I think we got a little carried away there.
(Valerie) Yeah, I think I have a cracked rib or two and a bruised leg. You might have a concussion.
(Kira) Give me a moment to regain my sense of balance and we’ll go to medical.
(Valerie) I think we need to start putting stricter limits on our sparring. This is going to be lethal if one of us makes a mistake.
(Kira) Not as easy to dominate as I was back at the Academy?
(Valerie) Your Force skills aren’t quite as polished as they could be….
(Kira) And neither are your Codex skills.
(Valerie) Not bad for an apprentice that didn’t complete his training.
(Kira) Gee, I wonder how that happened?
(Valerie) Smart ass, let’s get to medical.
We found Vincent running things in medical. He was teaching some of the crew how to use the equipment to diagnose various illnesses when he noticed our arrival.
(Vincent) Well that is fine mess you’ve done to yourselves. Might I recommend not being so rough with each other next time?
Valerie promptly went redder than her hair and I could practically taste the embarrassment over the link. Apparently getting injured by me was a bigger blow to her pride than I thought.
(Valerie) THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED!
What the hell? Oh….
(Kira) An accident during practice. She didn’t take the tackle very well, and I nearly got brained for it.
(Vincent) Indeed? Well get on the tables then. This would be a good opportunity to teach the nurses.
That resulted in a number of scans, probes, injections, and condescending looks from the Syndat. Apparently I suffered a mild concussion from Valerie’s kick. I was told to not take anymore blows to the head, and shouldn’t have been taking them to begin with despite my protests of trying to avoid them in the first place. Arguing with Vincent was like arguing with a sign. Valerie had two cracked ribs and a hairline fracture to the tibia. She got some bracing wraps and bone supplements to take. About the time we finished, Telera came over the intercom again.
(Telera) Alys, Ben, and Jacob have emerged from the black hole. It looks like they brought someone with them.
Great, knowing them, they found some poor soul looking lost frozen in time and now they want to keep him.
(Kira) What shuttle bay?
(Telera) I just had them cleared to dock with shuttle bay 16. They should get there about the same time you arrive.
(Kira) On my way.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 60a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- 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)