The Mrs Beasley – as a highly radioactive wreck – continued to plunge every more deeply into the intergalactic void, with what was left of its own drives and those of the Zomogoostar and the Ratsoogomoz thrusting it onwards into the darkness. Already tens or hundreds of thousands of light years beyond the final stars, it continued outward into the endless space of a dead and empty cosmos. The Final Empire would never find them there. Not even it could search infinity for what was – in the final analysis – a very minor annoyance.
It took a while to get the stasis field anchored to the Mrs Beasley and to get the asteroid anchored as well. It certainly didn’t help matters that Ben insisted on subspace freezing the asteroid on top of the stasis effect. In the meantime, we deployed a number of hyperspace-to-subspace relays past the stasis field. These were designed to monitor transmissions from the Final Empire and convert them to a very weak subspace signal that would then be transmitted through the stasis effect. The setup was going to be detectable from the galaxy side of things, but our pursuers were going to have to know where to look, what to look for, and be close enough to pick it out. And any scans looking for the things we could probably detect first and move to evade.
That was the plan anyway.
Again we went with a setup of recording most everything we could pick up and having droids do a preliminary sort on the material for us. It was still far too much material coming in to really let us review all of it in real time even with a practically unlimited number of droids – especially because all the droid brains and storage media were radioactive enough to throw up all kinds of errors. Still, if and when we got out of here, it would be prudent to hire people to start indexing the material and looking for anything new.
Repairs to the Mrs Beasley were not going well. The asteroid the others brought didn’t have the stuff we needed, and what parts we were able to find that were usable were quickly stripped. Lazlo started sorting the Imperialists from the sub-citizens after we figured the su-citizens ought to be given a chance to leave given the opportunity – but, given the repairs needed, and the lack of anyplace non-radioactive to put them, that was definitely a back-burner project. That still left us with about twenty five percent of the Mrs Beasley hot and not enough material to complete most basic repairs. At least we were able to remove the radioactive portions from the ship and collect it together into an immense ball.
Most everyone wanted to throw Jacob overboard by this point. I will admit to sharing and even voicing that sentiment. I was also tempted with throw Handell out too for going boozing on a supplies run, but he had immediately hidden himself aboard the Mrs Beasley with the women and alcohol he had stolen from his little raid. Trying to chase down a precognitive of his power was going to be an exercise in futility anyway. At least Lazlo hasn’t stirred up any trouble recently.
Handell was busily trying to sample every drink known to the Final Empire. Jacob, on the other hand – having observed what alcohol as doing to Handell – had injected himself with a symbiotic organism that automatically detoxified alcohol in his bloodstream.
Smoche was spending the bulk of his time trying to carefully test out the viability of the hyperdrive coils. At least the prognosis was looking like they might be usable given a long cycle time, but he was going to need further testing to be sure. When Jacob offered to “help” with the process, Smoche suggested that Jacob go play with the radioactive materials we had jettisoned out into space. I was willing to pay Jacob a thousand credits if he would build himself a house out of it and play in it. If he died of cesium or strontium poisoning, I wasn’t going to cry about it.
Smoche was, in fact, suggesting that if Jacob wanted to “force heal” the radioactives they were extracting, he would be glad to see it – from a long ways away. After all if Jacob managed it, he’d have some usable raw materials. If he killed himself, that was fine too.
With not much else to do though, Valerie and I focused our efforts on trying to get as many of the ships operational as possible. It looked like the asteroids were in good condition, but the Shard of Devastation and our three sub Star Destroyers were going to need work. The assorted small craft were in various states of usability too. In all, we had enough passenger capacity to move everyone off of the Mrs Beasley and leave, but some of the ships were going to have to be towed. And of course, we would have to leave the Mrs Beasley behind in that scenario. Still, an escape plan was better than none so we directed the asteroids’ manufacturing capacity towards repairing the various hyperdrives.
We worked towards that end for several days. We where running tests on the Shard of Devastation’s startup sequence when sensors registered a massive radiation pulse. At first we thought we were under attack, but it was quickly established that the radiation pulse didn’t match any weapon signatures we knew of. The next fear was a neutronium containment breach, but there was no sign of that either. What evidence we got suggested it had come out of the stasis field.
Contacting the Mrs Beasley revealed that Jacob apparently had an “accident” while doing something in there. He had come out of the stasis field screaming about something eating his arm and suffering from massive radiation burns. Luckily the various ships were well shielded against that level of radiation, but Jacob hadn’t been. Soon, a number of us stood in the medical bay trying to piece together what happened as the medical droids bludgeoned Jacob savagely.
WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM
(Valerie) Alright, let me get this straight. Jacob went into a stasis field by himself with a box full of radioactive, but otherwise inert metal. A few hours later he comes out having nearly blown himself up and with something eating his arm?
(Telera) Yes, that would appear to be correct.
(Valerie) That stuff shouldn’t have been active enough to trigger a criticality accident, let alone EAT HIS ARM!
(Alys) Not just his arm, but a good portion of the ship he was using too.
(Kira) Alright, how in the hell did he manage this?
(Ben) Analysis of the radiation pulse suggests that a strangelet was created and began to convert all available mass including his arm into more of itself before finally detonating.
(Kira) A strangelet?
(Valerie) I’ll explain later. How did he manage to create a strangelet in a shuttle by himself with no specialized equipment?
(Alys) Beats me.
(Smoche) I think he was trying to “heal” the radioactive materials by pouring the Force into them.
That sounded like something he would try. The others started discussing high energy physics for a bit. It was decided that they would have Jacob try to do whatever it was that he did again to so we could convert all the radioactive material into iron. The iron would then be used to make the most critical repairs needed at the moment and then we would try to depart the Final Empire for a universe more conducive to finishing the necessary repairs to the Mrs Beasley. An argument broke out over where exactly would be best to do this, with me advocating a return to the Codifier galaxy, and the others wanting to go somewhere with more infrastructure. About the only thing we could agree on was that where ever we went, it needed to be quiet.
Jacob had, in fact, funneled massive amounts of force-energy into a mass of radioactives – and had managed to transform the nuclei into quasi-living strangelets. They’d promptly started to reproduce and to eat all the normal matter around them, including him. The trouble was, they were riding on his power – and so shared his timerate. The problem was, trying to withdraw his power led to the blasted things destabilizing in a blast of hard radiation. He’d mostly outrun that – it dropped back into stasis as his power faded – but it was hard to get too far away from the stuff that was eating his arm and space gear; he’d had to cut his way out of the small ship he was using – trying to beat a radiation-wave which was, even in the periphery of his temporal aura, coming all too fast. All in all, the experience had nearly killed him.
He’d also decided that he’d better get some clone-transplants while he still had some limbs left, and put in some orders – especially since the droids were warning him that he was approaching the point where he’d have serious troubles with using more Bacta.
He then tried a variant on the same idea – and eventually did manage to produce a fair chunk of stable iron to handle the most urgent patches.
Finally the medical droids finished slapping a prosthetic arm onto Jacob, shoved him out the door and onto his ass, and then slammed the door to medical shut behind him. I had never seen medical droids become cross like that before, but couldn’t say that I blamed them. Part of me idly considered loading a program onto that prosthetic arm of his to smack him repeatedly whenever he uttered the word “button”. I think I could get most everyone else to agree to that proposal.
(Valerie) Just think, he has one arm, a torso, and a head left. It won’t be too many more times and he’ll be dead.
The mummers of assent were numerous.
Eventually what repairs that could be made with what we had were made. We jettisoned the asteroid Handell and the others had captured and sent it back on a slow journey towards the Final Empire with a beacon configured to activate long after we were gone. That way those people would be able to return home and the Final Empire wouldn’t have enough of a beef with us to chase us across the multiverse. We did end up keeping some of the former sub-citizens while Ben and Smoche stole samples of all the unusual technology. We had copied what records and programs we could find, and added that to our database of stuff to sort through at a later date.
It was decided that Ben, Telera, Valerie and I would steer the Mrs Beasley during the jump while letting the others sit back and watch. The trip itself was uneventful save for fears of a failure of the hyperdrive coils leaving us stranded somewhere. Soon enough we dropped out of hyperspace into seemingly familiar territory. It looked like the massive shipyard at the edge of the galaxy we had found back home. Shipwreck began making scans of the region while Ben and Smoche tried to assess the state of the hyperdrive after that jump. While it looked like the system managed to make it through the jump without further damage, the coils were going to need to go through a lengthy cooldown period before being usable again. So at the very least, the Mrs Beasley was stuck for now.
Jacob wanted somewhere they could get repairs. Ben was interested in finding some abandoned fleets. Alys wanted somewhere quiet. Kira wanted the Codifier Galaxy, or at least sanity. Lazlo didn’t want to deal with people. Valerie wanted quiet, technicians, and resources. Telera wanted a quiet place with lots of techs who’d be willing to repair the ship rather than blowing it up, stealing it, or salvaging it. Others wanted a quiet place, one without prisons, a shortage of instant doom, easy sources of materials, and more… Wish-fulfillment struck again.
Shipwreck reported that there was quite a bit of activity around the shipyard, but all the communications traffic was binary. There didn’t seem to be any organic communications traffic at all. That was disturbing to say the least. Quickly enough one of the automated systems began hailing us. Alys wanted direction on how to handle it. Personally, I was getting very ominous feelings about the lack of organic traffic and thought it best to hide our status. Ben’s precognition quickly concurred with me. During this discussion Jacob just simply passed out on the floor unconscious.
(Valerie) Well that is convenient. Usually there is a middle step between him having an idea and falling unconscious. This saves us a lot of heartache.
None of us could disagree.
Alys started communications while pretending to be the ship’s computer. Or more precisely, letting 10CH pretend to be the ship’s computer while giving directions on critical questions and requests. They ended up convincing the droids that we were a salvage ship in need of repairs. The droids would commence repairs, but it was probably best that we hid ourselves in the meantime. Alys sent orders out to all of our droids to load everyone in stasis into crates and hide them while those of us still active would retreat to the bunker we had found weeks ago and hide. 10CH elected to remain outside to act as a “liaison” between us and the local droids while repairs went on.
Eventually 10CH sent us a history of what had happened locally. It looked like things had gone similar to the Codifier galaxy with Huriel taking out much of the galactic core. At that point things started diverging as the Sith bluffed that they could do that again, and the Codifiers responded with a number of hidden Infinite Empire weapons they apparently had stashed away. The Sith were quickly being exterminated at the expense of the Censor falling apart as well. Towards the end the Sith ordered their droids to eliminate every living thing not positively proven to be a Sith. The droids then went out and did exactly that. And with the Censor no longer operational, the droids were actually able to build the automated factories complexes needed to actually carry out such a campaign.
Alys found that both interesting and worrisome. The Censor had started to break down in the Codifier Galaxy, and the galaxy had started to fragment. Languages, technology… they’d all started to break down and become world-specific. Here, the censor was gone – and the droids were exterminating life throughout the galaxy. Was the censor itself a living being? Did the censor favor these millennia-spanning, galaxy-ranging governments? The censor – stupidly and blunderingly – tried to keep the galaxy alive… Was the Final Empire the final outcome of the operations of the Censor?
Currently, it looked like the only life still left in the Galaxy was the vampiric space moss and the subspace plant people. The droids were ignoring the former – apparently some technicality kept them from considering it to be “life” – and the latter the droids were trying to exterminate by searching every cubic meter of the galaxy.
(Valerie) Vampiric space moss?
(Kira) Best name I know for the stuff. Actually seem to be able to eat life energies and even the life energies of stars directly.
(Valerie) And how do you know of these things?
(Kira) It was back when you caught up with Akira. We traded places as you know, and I ended up aboard your star destroyer with the wrong Valerie. I played diversion and in the process Alys, 10CH and I made a random hyperspace jump while trying to give the others a chance to escape.
(Valerie) That much I know.
(Kira) Well the random jump went badly and we ended up crashlanding on a planet around a red dwarf star.
(Valerie) No one ever visits those.
(Kira) Yep, and we found out why. Turns out the local biosphere is made up of all sorts of creatures that love to eat life forms so full of energy as we are. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pleasant three weeks.
Eventually we learned that the droids were killing anything with a carbon-based chemical metabolism. That raised the interesting possibility that the Furipedes were not considered alive from the viewpoint of the droids. Some quick discussions with the Furipedes convinced them to introduce themselves as self-assembling protein droids capable of using hyperdrive. Some even volunteered to split off, form a colony, and try to take care of the droid problem. All that manufacturing capacity the droids had built was awfully tempting to try and exploit.
Not that I had visions of galactic conquest, but there are a few projects I wouldn’t mind trying out given the resources available here.
Plans then turned to trying to exploit our status in the droids’ systems as a salvage ship. The obvious targets were the various derelict fleets spread throughout the galaxy. Ben wanted to find some of the Codifier Starbreakers, but I had my doubts that any of those had survived. Of course, given how empty and yet built up this place was, this all seemed like small potatoes compared to what might be out there to salvage. Someone then suggested stealing entire shipyards, like the Kuat System shipyards. But the problem with that idea was that the Kuat system was stuck in the expanded event horizon….
Wait a minute.
A good portion of the core of the Republic was locked in stasis here too. It would be more of a rescue operation as opposed to a salvage one, but we had practice with this very scenario. We couldn’t leave it here though as the droid swarms would eventually overwhelm the Republic. Unless the Censor reestablished itself, but we really couldn’t take that chance. I was getting concerned about the timing of dropping the stasis and getting in there fast enough to teleport the galactic core out before the droids arrived when Valerie reminded me that the droids were using slower than light drives to move from system to system. As long as we didn’t take months or years to transport the core out, we would have plenty of time.
The plan was readily endorsed by all those involved in the discussion.
It also took several months for the droids to finish repairs to the Mrs Beasley. That many people crowded into such a small space for that long was getting to be unbearable. Eventually we decided to draw lots to take watch while the others went into stasis for the duration of the wait. We ended up with two person teams on watch for a week at a time and rotating who was on watch. That helped the time go by faster from our perspective. I ended up on watch twice and was bored out of my mind both times.
Eventually though, 10CH gave the all clear for us to leave the bunker. We stepped out into a sparkling, newly refurbished ship. I was rather annoyed to find that all the living quarters were now dedicated to either storage or manufacturing capacity though. That meant moving back to one of the asteroids for the time being until new quarters could be built. At least this gave the technicians a more or less clean slate to start with for rebuilding the Sith Canton. And it also meant we now had a fully stocked raw materials stockpile too for most purposes. We made ready to depart from the system as we received a number of coordinates from the droids for fleets needing salvage operations support.
With a repaired ship and coordinates for derelict fleets in hand, we made our way to the center of the galaxy. It wasn’t quite a spiraling inward course, but it was close enough for a lot of purposes. This was another few month process as we went from derelict site to derelict site collecting ships into our “armada” and then continuing on with the process as we drew near the black hole. By my estimations we collected about one hundred and fifty major ships, and a couple thousand smaller ones.
The debate also raged over where exactly to take the Republic Core once we freed it. We couldn’t leave it here. Taking it to the Codifier Galaxy was going to create a lot of duplicate people issues. We couldn’t just drop it in an uninhabited galaxy since that would pretty much disrupt all navigation and cause civilization to collapse too. About the only idea any of us could agree on was to bring it home with us and set it up as a satellite galaxy. Not everyone was happy with this idea, but we really didn’t have many options available to us either.
It was also during this timeframe that Ilia began her training of Valerie, me and some of the others. Ilia insisted on training Valerie and I separately. Well, she wanted to train Valerie separately from everyone else, but it was sort of a package deal between us. Valerie was clearly struggling with the training as the Dark Side hindered her, but she was making progress. It was also becoming increasingly obvious that she was Unfalling and I was getting curious when the others would start noticing the change.
On the other hand, Ilia wasn’t particularly tolerant of Valerie’s lack of performance. Strangely enough this resulted in me trying harder to perform so that I drug Valerie along with me and to keep Ilia focused on me as much as possible. The fact that Ilia and I didn’t get along didn’t help matters.
(Ilia) I have never seen anyone so proud of so little.
(Kira) Oh come on, that was the most perfect shot there is. It vaporized the target and made a good sized hole in the wall behind it.
(Ilia) Your point?
(Kira) Alright, then how about you show me how this was done back when you were a larva then grandma?
(Ilia) Gladly you patronizing smart ass.
I was most annoyed when she not only blew away the target, but the next two walls, and put a good sized hole in the bulkhead beyond. I am really beginning to dislike this insect. And worse yet, she is amicable with the others if a bit condescending. Ben wasn’t happy about the damage to his ship, but I was too busy trying to put Ilia in her place to really care. Leave it to Valerie to make an overachiever out of me.
Eventually we did reach the Galactic Black Hole. It was a lot simpler this time to go about the process of subspace freezing Huriel and breaking the stasis effect. It helped that we had all the techniques and equipment prepared, tested, and ready to go right off the bat this time. Subduing the fleets took less time too. It then became a simple matter of leaving Alys to explain while the Mrs Beasley raced to the black hole itself. Hauling the galactic core with us was relatively simple, but steering it to the galaxy we wanted was a lot harder than steering the Mrs Beasley, and took several tries. Luckily we had plenty of power and time to keep trying over and over again until we got it right.
Once we managed to hit our galaxy, it then became a relatively simple matter of projecting a hyperfield to steer it into a stable orbit around our galaxy. Again something we had become good at from a previous rescue mission. Needless to say the hyperspace disturbance was detectable to much of the galaxy. The Intergalactic Exploration bunch was the first to arrive and was predictably shocked to find a section of the galactic core from 18,000 years ago waiting for them. Both the Jedi and the Sith were sending emissaries, and the Republic military was complaining mightily of the security situation we had just created. Alys again tried to explain things to everyone involved, but at least this time she didn’t write any disturbing constitutions.
Still, it wasn’t even that big an argument. The Republic would have had a hard time arguing that the Republic didn’t have a right to exist. The fact that a similar, if smaller and very distant, power had appeared was startling, but not exactly a cause for hostility. It turned out to be a cause for a plague of historians however – and for the retirement of their historian. He’d NEVER find a better chance to examine things a bit.
To be fair, the Republic Military was more worried about the fact that near-infinite forces, from an infinite number of possible sources, could apparently appear at any time – and wanted the group to quit prodding the infinite hornets nest at least until after the Yeveetha war was over and some defenses could be found. On the other hand, the potential for acquiring a near-limitless supply of warships was very tempting.
We even had a Sith artificer show up believing that we had found a way to manipulate the very information fabric of reality itself. He was rather disappointed to learn it was only trans-dimensional travel and not pure reality editing, but Ben pointed out what the guy was looking for was really the Codex. That implied that this Artificer might actually be a potential hybrid, and the talents he was looking to develop might actually be hybrid abilities. Well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to give him some pointers and direct him along some of our theories for further study. Plus we had a load of Final Empire material to sort through. Maybe he could make himself useful with that?
Still, as interesting as that was, I was concerned about how much the furor over the Gruenn fiasco had died down. If it was quiet enough, maybe I could finally go looking for my friends and family. Galaxy knows that putting it off this whole time was going to be hard to explain if I ever saw them again. Hopefully they will understand.
At least this new satellite galaxy seems to like us.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 62b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Special Investigator Nimh Tahl’s Field Report – Session 62a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 60c (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- 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)
- From the Holocron of Ben Therus – Session 51 (burntbones.wordpress.com)