Down on Coruscant, Jacob was somewhat disappointed to find out that the resistance was going out of business before it really even got started. It had started gathering as soon as the republic fleet arrived and it had become obvious that there was nothing left to lose – but it had suddenly become quite unnecessary. The authorities might need to hunt down a few Sith and some troops hiding in the depths of Coruscant – but the decisive capture of the orbiting Sith flotilla and the disappearance of Huriel and most of the rest of the Sith leaders (along with, sadly, some of the most senior Jedi) had left nothing to resist – and he wasn’t much for hunting people down in cities.
He got back in touch with everyone else.
At the center of the galaxy, the galactic black hole had – of course – shrunk back to something near it’s original size, or even substantially smaller. It’s rotation had, however, been greatly reduced.
Keldav and Nere were still missing. The fact that the Senate building was now missing below on Coruscant suggested that they had used the subspace drive on their ship to move it and deep freeze Huriel. The fact that they weren’t trying to communicate with us and that the beacon system had failed to operate suggested that something had gone wrong with the jump. Plus since the direction a subspace drive chooses to take is seemingly random, predicting where they ended up wasn’t something we could readily accomplish. Still, that didn’t mean they were lost in the void for the rest of eternity, we just had to search smarter.
Currently there was no know way for a subspace drive to drop out of the universe or out of the timeline. It just moved a given mass along a direction for a given amount of distance. Mass was determined by the configuration of the drive and the payload. Direction was indeterminate as far as we knew. Distance was also a factor of the power input too. The amount of power available to the ship was limited and known. The estimated mass of the Senate building and the ship was known. The most likely failure scenario was that the payload exceeded what the ship was able to safely carry. Ergo, we could derive a maximum distance the ship could have traveled and use that to calculate a spherical zone for searching.
It seemed prudent to start at the edge of the sphere and work inwards towards the center. I supposed it was possible that the ship and Senate building had materialized within the planet itself, but the odds of that happening were minuscule compared with the possible volume they could have appeared in. Besides, I would have figured two Hybrids and a Codifier would be able to know if that was going to happen and avoid it if at all possible.
Soung was having little luck trying to determine Keldav’s location. This visibly seemed to frustrate her, which I suppose made sense. Shipwreck though was busily scanning space looking for a nearly black object with a surface temperature of a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. All I could see in his scans was an relatively immense amount of noise coming from the background of the universe and an immense amount of chatter coming from the fleet and Coruscant. Eventually Shipwreck pointed to one of the many slightly-dimmer spots on his screen and gave coordinates to Handell. Handell in turn brought the Mrs Beasley around to those coordinates with a speed and grace I didn’t think a ship of this size capable of.
I took the time to swap droid modules so I had the ones with various engineering programs installed while we waited for word. Sensor scans quickly began to register a large object ahead of us that was impossibly cold and silent. Quickly enough we saw a black occlusion of the stars begin to grow and take shape. Once we got close enough that the ship could focus lights on the object, we could see the slowly rotating hulk of the Senate building hanging in space – still slowly outgassing what was probably the slowest-moving supercooled atmosphere in galaxy.
Quickly a team was assembled of technicians, Valerie, and myself as we loaded into one of the shuttles. Augusta Stance piloted as we left the Mrs Beasley and began to survey the situation. From the looks of things, the building had been cleanly cut from the city, presumably by Jacob with that ridiculously large lightsaber of his. It was also clear that the building had taken an immense amount of structural damage from those event horizon filaments Huriel had been projecting. I estimated that the building would have been in danger of a major structural failure if it still had been in a gravity well.
We found Keldav’s ship at the top of the building. It looked to be welded to the Senate building, probably to help enable the surface effect to propagate properly. We donned our space suits, double checked the seals on everyone, and then disembarked from the shuttle. Most of the technicians went to work surveying the outside of the ship for damage or looking into the status of the interior of the Senate building. I tried to manually open the outer airlock door without a lot of success. No matter how I pushed or pulled, it simply refused to budge. Soung then pushed me aside, grasped the handle, and turned it seemingly effortlessly.
Once inside the interior, we saw that everything was still frozen like the outside. We were also able to confirm that Keldav, Nere, and – surprisingly enough – Therus were all aboard huddled around the subspace drive console. None of them looked to be damaged in any way. I immediately turned my attention to the power and defrosting systems. It definitely looked like the power distribution system had been overloaded by a massive current draw way above specification. The neutronium system survived intact though. From what little I was able to tell about that, there were going to be stability problems in the short to mid term unless power was restored, but I didn’t have enough expertise to really say more than that. The other technicians or Smoche were going to have to deal with that.
I turned my attention back to the defrosting system. It looked to be intact and functional save for the lack of power. It took a few minutes to determine the voltage and current requirements for the system and then modify the calculations to handle just defrosting the three frozen crew without bothering with the entire ship. With the numbers in hand, I sent word to the Mrs Beasley to deliver a suitable power supply for the job. Droids delivered it minutes later and we ran the extension cords into the ship to hook up to the system. Glancing at Soung for any precognitive issues she might foresee, I then cycled the system.
Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 62
Next thing I was aware of was a bright flash of light followed by the entire interior of the ship suddenly turning impossibly cold. I was suddenly struck by the fear that something had in fact failed, the ship was now stuck frozen solid inside the black hole, and I was still aware of the passage of time to slowly die in here – or worse, to never die. It was at that point that I became aware of the immense difficulty of breathing as the very air seemed frozen into a fine mist. I was really beginning to panic when I felt something grab me hard and a breath mask was placed over my face.
<Valerie> Calm down, breathe.
A few quick breathes of air and running through the calming techniques quickly got things under control. I snapped the breath mask into place and surveyed the situation. Valerie was behind me in a space suit, as was Nimh and a number of technicians. They looked to be calming Ben and Alys while giving them breath masks as well. I could see sections of the flooring pried open to reveal conduits and cabling hidden beneath the floor. I saw splices leading out the airlock that was propped open. Something had obviously gone wrong.
<Kira> What happened?
<Valerie> Looks like dragging Huriel with you overloaded the power system. You made the jump and dropped the stasis effect, but the recovery systems were unable to operate without power. It took several hours to find you.
<Kira> So we freed the Galactic Core then? How is that going?
<Valerie> Chaos, confusion, accusations of people being Sith, and absurdly weird events happening. It should sound normal to you.
<Kira> I have expectations I have to meet you know. How else am I supposed to make acting normal seem so weird?
Ben, Nimh, and the technicians then began to get distracted with the power core. Alys rushed off to handle explanations and negotiations with the Republic, Faded, and Codifiers. Valerie and I went off to assist with the survey of the interior of the Senate building. Inside, droids and technicians were already setting up lighting so we could see what was going on. The destruction was pretty serious. Major structural damage was everywhere, there were signs of a major firefight, and there were a number of Sith soldiers frozen solid throughout the building. The main Senate chamber was especially torn up. There was a serious amount of destruction at the center of the chamber on the Senate floor – as well as a lot of senators who, thanks to being frozen at the instant of their injuries, might still survive.
Meanwhile, Alys was handling the republic fleet. With the disappearance of the senate and the appearance of the Mrs Beasley – for both of which some SERIOUS explanations were being demanded (as well as explanations for what was left of Jacob’s lightsaber ship and how not a few ships had simply vanished – either from the midst of the fleets or while in hyperspace), the fleet was on a hair trigger – and there was no current political authority around to restrain them.
They didn’t need shooting breaking out while they were trying to rescue the galactic government and a selection of friends – yet the whole “you’ve lost 17,000 years and have been rescued courtesy of the Sith and some factions you never knew existed and…” bit was a bit much to hand out at one go.
Back with the rescue operations…
We made our way to the center using telekinesis to steer our way around. As we got close, we could see a fine red mist scattered over several square meters of space surrounding one of the most chopped-up bodies we’d ever seen. We both realized at the same time that this was all that was left of Huriel. It looked like channeling that mess had been more than sufficient to make finely-chopped meat out of most of his body, and suck various chunks of it into the event horizon. All it took was a fraction of a second and a seeming eternity to kill the bastard.
(Valerie) Amazing, he is still alive. Well, sort of.
She was right, as astonishing as it was, Huriel was still alive. In the process of dying, but not dead. Since the bastard was known to have clones stashed all over the place, actually keeping his spirit secured would be good assurance against any repeat episodes. Unfortunately, he was going to eventually thaw and then “die” if we left him here. Still, there are ways around this sort of issue. It was a simple enough matter to request a large stasis box be fabricated and delivered so that his frozen remains could be scooped up and stored for perpetuity – or at least until he managed to pull off a mind-exchange across the timelines. The box came an hour later and we watched as it was lowered over Huriel, closed, and activated.
(Kira) Evil HoloSith in a can?
(Valerie) I would say he’s been put on ice.
With that menace sealed away for the time being, we turned our attention to the various Senators and staff. The technicians were already setting up a defroster system on the Mrs Beasley for processing them all quickly. The real work was in systematically retrieving everyone from the interior of this immense building with all the little nooks and crannies stuffed everywhere. We elected to keep the Sith soldiers on ice for the moment while giving priority to the Senators and staff. While the techs worked on that, Valerie and I returned to the Mrs Beasley and watched the first people get defrosted. It was amusing to see the various reactions to the perceived change of environment as we defrosted people. A thought then occurred to me.
(Valerie) What’s so funny?
(Kira) Insert freeze dried politician in one end of the machine, out the other end comes government!
(Valerie) Just add hot air!
We both ended up chuckling at that one. Soon enough we had a crowd growing larger by the minute demanding answers and trying to order me around. I found a box, stood on it, and then proceeded to grab their attention.
(Kira) Alright, I am going to explain. Those that ask stupid questions, or try to legislate during my explanation will get smacked.
They didn’t want to believe me. Especially those that lost their worlds to the subsequent wars and disappearances that followed. I could sympathize with that sentiment. The simple fact that the galaxy was practically destroyed from their perspective didn’t help matters either. Thankfully, between the Jedi, the Codifiers, and our technologies, they would be able to slowly rebuild their galaxy towards something approaching normal. And on that note, the Jedi showed up and took over the process of explaining things. I was content to let them handle things here.
Alys was busy arranging matters… Fortunately, an interruption in government wasn’t entirely without precedent, and re-elections, honorary seats, and similar precedents were established – even if they’d normally only applied to gaps of a few months or years in much smaller regions. That led her deeper and deeper into trying to reorganize things and revise the rules to cover the new situation.
Eventually she wound up rewriting the galactic constitution – or someone did. It kind of felt like… something was writing through her.
She also wound up being assigned some bodyguards, an honorary post, a sizeable pension, and various other honors.
It took several days for the explanations to be given and for the various delegates of the Faded and Codifiers to arrive. I busied myself with as little as I could, instead taking the time to relax by the lake in the Sith Canton onboard. The others chose to involve themselves in the politics and negotiations since it made them feel better. It was nice to actually be away from the center of attention for once and have some peace and quiet.
All of that was interrupted a week later when Virstris stood over me with a datapad as I was busily napping on the lake side. She seemed really excited about something.
(Virstris) Have you seen this new constitution that Alys wrote?
(Kira) What is there going to be a test on it or something? Cause if there is I can already tell you I don’t plan on passing.
(Virstris) Oh just read it would you!
I took the datapad from her hands, propped myself up and started reading it. The bulk of the text was dense legalese that meant absolutely nothing to me, but there were provisions for Sith, Codifiers, Faded and for reconstructing and expanding the galaxy. The more I read the more concerned I got with the document and the hidden implications involved. Everything was neatly sorted into departments with specific powers, responsibilities, and limitations. Potential issues were quickly sorted into categories and dealt with efficiently. There was something about the hidden assumptions and how things were phrased that was somehow familiar and yet made my skin crawl.
(Kira) And Alys wrote this?
(Virstris) Yep, she said she felt like she was being guided by something to write it. My sister says something very odd with the Force happened when Alys wrote it.
Something was wrong. I don’t care who you are or how good you are, you can’t simply produce a document of this magnitude out of thin air. She had to have been tapping into something really deep and ancient to have pulled this out of her ass.
(Kira) Oh hell.
(Virstris) What is it?
(Kira) This looks suspiciously similar to how I would imagine the Final Empire’s charter would look.
(Virstris) Final Empire?
(Kira) The big “galaxy stealing empire at the end of the universe” galaxy I told you guys about.
This was definitely cause for concern. Hearing how much the politicians and ambassadors loved the thing only heightened my worries. A galaxy like this would certainly cause the locals to want to develop the technology and infrastructure needed to incorporate other galaxies into their own. We had just given over all the critical pieces of information and technology needed, and now it seems like Alys had handed over the organizational system to make it all happen. Weren’t we credited back in the Final Empire as the bunch that made it all possible at the very beginning?
Plus there is the fact that Alys was the one to tap into the archetype for the document. Did that mean that another Alys was responsible for the creation of the Final Empire’s government billions of years ago? Could it even mean that it might have been Empress Alys? No way to know for sure right now, but I suddenly found myself trusting Alys a lot less than I had been. After all, there wasn’t much of a place in her system for difficult to catagorize people like me. And it looked like the system was going to be very ruthless and pragmatic at times.
(Kira) Listen, you can tell your sister about my concerns, but otherwise let’s keep quiet for now. I do think we now need to keep an eye on Alys and her ambitions though.
Valerie wasn’t nearly as concerned as I was. She thought I was making an awfully big deal out of a simple document. Her assertion that it took a lot more than one person writing a good piece of legal paperwork to create an empire of that scope made sense, and I hoped she was right. I didn’t want to end up saving the Codifier Galaxy only for Alys to turn it into a galaxy enslaving civilization.
About that time there were reports of a Sith Artificer that had snuck aboard the Mrs Beasley from back on Gruenn. I didn’t recognize this one though. When I asked what his specialty was, cooking was not exactly what I had been expecting. On the other hand, it seemed harmless enough within limits, and I was told that he was the one that actually killed Lecrouss for us. Well, I suppose that was worth a ride across the multiverse with us at the very least.
My commlink then chirped.
(Commlink) Master Keldav, could you please come to guest quarters 811037? It appears we have a visitor that arrived with one of the delegations, and she wants to speak with you and Lady Soung.
(Kira) Really? Who is it?
(Commlink) She is only identifying herself as Archivist Ilia Herkondow. Codifier Jarim Edar says he confirms her identity.
(Kira) Alright, on my way.
Now why did that name sound familiar? It was probably one of the names the local Valerie insisted on forcing me to memorize back when I had been trapped in this galaxy. Oh well, no use pretending to know what I was getting into. The elevator dropped me off at the wrong end of the hallway though, and I ended up having a walk a fair distance to reach the guest quarters. I saw a pair of our security guards standing across from the door, and another set of what looked to be Codifier guards stand to either side of the door itself. They all saw my approach and waved me in.
Apparently the 811 series of quarters were the ones meant for heads of state and other important guests. Inside was a spacious set of rooms with extensive holographic displays on the walls, ceiling, and floor. It looked like the displays had been set up to mimic a glass walled building overlooking a number of open fields. I could hear the sound of running water from some sort of fountain off to the side. Ahead of me I saw a number of droid servants waiting a table with what looked to be an elaborate tea and cakes setup.
At the opposite side of the table from myself was a hoverchair seating a rather elderly looking insectoid person. She wore a blue coat in line with what the Codifiers sometimes wore. She noted my arrival and spoke.
(Ilia) Ah, you must be Kira Keldav. Please, have a seat.
There was something about that voice that just brought to mind the image of a mother speaking to a neighbor’s child. I took one of the offered chairs and sat in it. What was it about this person that seemed familiar? I know the local Valerie told me about this person and there was some sort of warning involved in it. I hadn’t paid attention because at the time I didn’t think the information was going to be practical for me to have.
(Ilia) No offense, but I wish to wait for Valerie Soung to arrive before beginning.
Valerie stepped through the door behind me right when I felt she would. Ilia immediately focused her attention on Valerie and seemed to have completely forgotten I was here. Ilia started circling Valerie in her hoverchair and appeared to be doing a rather thorough inspection of Valerie. After several moments, I could tell Valerie was getting annoyed.
(Valerie) I am not some beast for sale at the market.
(Ilia) My, you are the almost spitting image of Valerie Soung…. although I guess she is called Valerie Keldav these days.
(Valerie) That would be because I am Valerie Soung from another universe.
(Ilia) Indeed. You are missing a few scars, have a slightly different build, and are in the wrong section of the galaxy to be her, but the fact remains that you are inarguably her.
(Valerie) Why are you here?
(Ilia) Because young Keldav over here has been making requests for our organization to provide a trainer. And to be honest, we haven’t had the manpower to spare for such a request, but now that the war may well be over, a call for volunteers to join you has arisen.
(Valerie) All well and good, but if he is the one making the request, then why are you focusing on me?
(Ilia) Because the Kira Keldav I know doesn’t have much of a talent for our techniques. Nothing against him, since he does try so hard, but he won’t ever be able to catch up no matter how hard she tries to help him. Such a scenario really doesn’t interest me as an instructor.
(Valerie) You are unwise to underestimate him. He is after all the one that orchestrated this whole scenario to begin with. A little thing like having a late start isn’t going to stop him.
I don’t think I ever heard Valerie actually praise me like that. It reminded me of hearing Valerie’s alternate talk about her then fiancee. Valerie’s agitation with Ilia was slowly turning towards a cold fury by this point. Something about this whole exchange had been perceived as an insult by Valerie, but exactly what was unclear. About all I could read from her was the iron clad will holding things in control. I didn’t fail to note though that Valerie had positioned herself so that Ilia was now caught between the two of us.
(Ilia) Sigh, what really interests me is the precocious little girl I met years ago. So full of talent and yet so difficult to control once she became aware of that fact. She was my best student and I wanted to see just how far she would go. Sadly she decided to pick someone other than the one I recommended for her and ended up curtailing her career because of it. I was hoping you might do better.
Ah, now I remember who Ilia Herkondow is. This is the Codifier that trained the local Valerie. Valerie had spoken of her as a motherly type figure in her life. She had also said this person could be a ruthless, manipulative bitch to people she didn’t like. Last I recall, that list was getting longer everyday as Ilia became increasingly bitter and disillusioned with those around her. I could just tell she was going to be a joy to work with. I felt the sudden urge to find out who she did approve of for the local Valerie and make his life hell. As tempting as that was, it was probably better to be obnoxious to Ilia than some poor sap that happened to get her approval.
(Valerie) Let me guess, my alternate was that little girl?
(Valerie) And if I let you train me, then will you train Kira and the others as well?
(Ilia) Sigh, if you wish. Although my experiences with the other Kira lead me to doubt the effectiveness of the matter. Perhaps some of your companions will actually surprise me. Do be warned that I can be very demanding from those I teach.
(Valerie) And know that I can be demanding of those I let teach me.
(Ilia) Very well, we shall begin as soon as I get my stuff setup. I presume I can ask the droids for anything I need?
(Valerie) Yes, although anything too untoward will require approval from the crew.
(Kira) Oh you know, things like antimatter, neutronium, dual-use interdimensional subspace refridgerators, a thousand tons of cheese….
Ilia then turned to give me the most hateful glare I have seen from someone in recent memory. I considered it fair play for the insinuation that I wasn’t good enough to bother training. I could tell that Valerie seemed to enjoy seeing Ilia get annoyed as well. I’ve dealt with enough disapproving instructors in the past to know exactly how to deal with them.
(Valerie) Alright, please inform us when you are ready to begin and we shall begin training lessons.
(Ilia) I shall dear.
With that Valerie and I got up and left. The guards nodded as we passed out the doors and into the corridor. Since we were both heading to the Sith Canton next, we got into the elevator and rode together. Valerie was the first to break the silence as she spoke mentally.
<Valerie> I expect you to prove her wrong about your abilities. No goofing off just to annoy her into leaving.
<Kira> She seriously needs to be taken down a peg. She reminds me of all the worst things about my friend’s mothers.
<Valerie> So what exactly did my counterpart do to get her so disappointed with her?
<Kira> What little I recall, Orthodox Codifiers tend to go with arranged marriages. Something about them forming more stable, long-term relationships and professional personality and genetic matching tests. Evidently Kira Keldav was not on the approved list for whatever reason.
<Valerie> Well, who my alternate chooses to marry is her business and her business alone. I don’t get involved in her affairs.
<Kira> Not a bad policy.
At that point the elevator deposited us at the new entrance into the Sith Canton the technicians had built. This opened up onto a peninsula out into the expanded lake system. It looked like they were making a lot of progress with the landscaping and remodelling of this section of the ship. From what I understood, Virstris and Valerie had been organizing the idle Sith techs and other personel to work on this and keep them out of trouble with the Republic techs onboard. It certainly seemed to be working. After taking a moment to survey the progress, we continued on back to our quarters.
<Valerie> And you will excel at this training. I will not tolerate anything less from you.
<Kira> Yes, ma’am.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 61a (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 60a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 60c (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- From the Holocron of Ben Therus – Session 52 (burntbones.wordpress.com)