Alys swore again as the radiation-flash blazed through the Jedi Temple. She’d been through THAT (and the blasted radiation treatment) enough times to recognize it instantly! From the way the lights flickered – and the fact that they WEREN’T all a drifting cloud of vapor – Ben must have vented part of the reactor reserve. Why was he blowing himself up? Just to get the Baramour? According to the surviving droids… He’d intentionally incinerated himself (unless he’d dropped out of the cosmos again, which was likely), and his armor, and probably some of the Baramour – and, almost certainly, most of the bioplagues (which was something). Oh well, she knew better than to ask why he was destroying his own equipment these days.
Still, if the radiation-flash had been that bad through the fortress-construction of the Jedi Temple, it must have been horrific outside. Thank goodness Ramith had been wrapping the place in warship shields.
Unfortunately, she had to relocate. Between Chan, Xiang, the radiation-flare, the pressure of the military shields outside, and the widespread use of explosives by the Sith, Kira, and large numbers of bounty hunters, the area she was in was no longer stable. It was time to run… Luckily, enormous reaches of the temple were still just fine. It looked a lot more fortress-like now that a lot of the decorations had peeled off.
Lazlo, meanwhile, was calling for information on the Baramour. They kept using precognition to dodge his bounty hunters – and he wanted some of the moss-panels to use to make Sith blinds.
Well, that was creative. Given the chaos in the temple it would be easy to overlook a few blank spots in the force – and the temple already had quite a few of them anyway. She sent them over.
Meanwhile, back with Kira…
Reaching out with the Force, I could sense the various Jedi and Sith running about the Temple. I noted the location and direction of travel for the Baramour moving along the West Wall and backtracked to find the various plague canisters they have been dropping behind them. Sadly, I was going to have to get closer to be able to pick up the clouds of plague the canisters have released already compared to just the canisters. With the location of the next canister noted, I sped off through the walls in Hypertime.
About halfway there, I was blinded by an intense flash of light that seemed to go through the walls themselves. I dropped out of Hypertime before I ran into something to give my eyes a chance to recover as I reached out with my senses to determine what had just happened. Suddenly it felt like the entire Temple dropped a few feet. I hit the floor in a tumble as gravity reasserted itself. Soon my eyes recovered to show me still in the corridor I had been running along. According to my Force senses, whatever had just happened had affected a significant area around the Temple and the space above it for a long ways out.
(Kira) Alys, what just happened?
(Alys) It looks like the main Hypermatter reactor for the Temple just initiated an Emergency Vent cycle. Those within the Temple were subjected to a burst of soft x-rays, while those outside got a hefty dose of hard gamma radiation. It looks like one of the Lunar colonies got a near miss from the blast. It is even possible that Coruscant’s orbit has been altered by that blast.
(Kira) Should I be concerned that we might be heading into a critical containment failure?
(Alys) Doesn’t look to be any danger of that. It looks like Ben purposefully triggered it somehow. Ben is currently missing but that did force the Baramour team at the reactor to go into retreat. Indications are also coming in that the blast of radiation killed the vast majority of the plagues they had been spreading too.
(Kira) Well that is good I suppose.
(Alys) Ben also gave confirmation that Jarik is here with the Baramour.
Damn it. Jarik was not who we needed on Coruscant right now. If I run into my Codifier Alternate again, I am going to be sure to smack him for putting Jarik into stasis instead of drugging him into a stupor like the Arethi suggested or handing him over to the Republic. I am not as naive when it comes to insane Sith with far more power than sense.
(Kira) Right, we continue as is, except I will go after Jarik once I am done with the team on the West Wall.
Someone of Jarik’s power in the Dark Side was going to have a hard time hiding, even on Coruscant. At least now that I knew to look for it. Still the focus was on the Baramour team on the West Wall doing who knows what. Once I dealt with them, I could focus on chasing down Jarik after that. I just hoped it wouldn’t become necessary to use that spacefield grenade.
Lazlo, meanwhile, had hooked up with one of the Jedi – and had laid a successful ambush. It had taken some bouncing around, running on the ceiling, droid shockmines, heavy blasters, net projectors, flamethrowers, gas grenades, rapidfire concussion grenade launchers, and rather a lot of heavy firepower from the bounty hunters – but he and the Jedi had managed to render the Sith leader (thanks to a headbutt from Lazlo, which had gotten him much applause) and his assistants unconscious and get them into stasis (or, in a regrettable instance or two, deceased).
Fortunately, the bounty hunters were well-supplied with restraint options. Still, had that bit about “Fools, you will find no victory here! It is already too late!” been mere bravado?
Jarik’s bioweapons were too hazardous to leave to guesswork.
A conscious or unconscious Sith – or even a minion (aSITHtant?) with Sith training – could actively resist a probe. Fortunately, Lazlo was a master of probing minds that were in stasis…
It looked like Jarik was in charge because of his incredible skills – he’d been astounding as a doctor before, and now could glance at a bottle of yeast and mutate it into a deadly plage. Jarik had planted a variety of bioweapon release systems around Coruscant before he’d ever headed for the Jedi temple. Fortunately, they’d been timed to supplement the release from the temple, and so were on timers set for – the next day or two.
Sadly, his new Jedi friend kept getting fuzzy when told about things like the stasis belts. Blasted censor.
Lazlo fed that information to Alys, who got on the priority channels with Ramith again – with a confirmation from Chanoth (the Jedi he’d hooked up with).
Ramith hadn’t realized that there was anything out there that would make him LESS happy with this situation! Another eighty biocontainment setups and biohazard/demolitions teams to get to locations scattered around Coruscant… Still, at least he had firm information as to their exact locations. That was worth something!
There was a reason why he was the sector fleet admiral though. The orders were sorted out, and the operation was underway, within minutes.
Unfortunately for Alys, that burst of top-priority transmissions had been traced – and more of those blasted bounty hunters were on the way. She barely made it out ahead of them, and even that was only because of a desperate phasing attempt through the floor.
Wait, one had been carrying a pack with female evening dress in her size? What the… What kind of perverts had a bounty out on her this time?!?!?
That had been too close; she needed to work on her phasing! She’d better go find Kira… He was GOOD at the last-moment escape routines!
She headed for Kira’s current location – where he, of course, had problems of his own.
Luckily, I was running into fewer and fewer bounty hunters the closer I got to the Baramour team. Quickly enough I got ahead of them and around a corner out of line of sight. I was already suppressing my Force presence in order to maintain the element of surprise. Despite their attempts to move silently, I could still hear their approach as they came down the hall towards my ambush position. In less than a minute they would be at a section of hallway with no easy access out for some distance to dodge thermal detonators.
Then I felt a hand clasp my shoulder from behind.
It took everything I had to keep from crying out and stumbling out into the hallway. Turning to look behind me, I saw Alys standing there obviously startled from seeing me startled. I thought I was pretty good these days at detecting people stalking about, but obviously I was wrong. She then proceeded to start telling me how she was ambushed by bounty hunters and came running my direction since there were fewer bounty hunters this way. She wasn’t catching my gestures to be quiet though as any moment the Baramour would hear us.
(Baramour) You wouldn’t happen to be Kira Keldav would you?
Sigh, too late.
So much for the element of surprise. I turned to see an older man in the classic Baramour garb followed by a trio of normal looking assistants. I did reach out with the Force and confirmed that these four were the only ones in the vicinity and that none of the assistants were disguised Force users.
(Kira) I would, and you?
(Baramour) I am Sagramore Wulfes. I’ve heard quite a bit about you. Do you know that Jarik considers you to be his personal curse?
(Kira) It doesn’t surprise me considering the sheer amount of things I get blamed for. Although why some of the others aren’t included in that statement is a mild curiousity.
(Sagramore) Tell me, who brought Chan into this? I thought that sort of power was fictional.
The fact that Sagramore felt the urge to talk was setting off alarms in my head, but I wasn’t sensing any sort of an ambush around us nor was I sensing a plague or poison either. Is this a delaying tactic? If so, then what is he delaying for? To let Jarik get away?
(Kira) As did I to be honest. I thought it was all special effects and net hype. As for who brought him, I think he just sorta showed up and was drawn by the sheer amount of chaos going on.
(Sagramore) Bother. And tell me, is your bunch responsible for the defeat of all of my comrades here in this battle?
Well, I certainly had accounted for one team. Ben managed to drive away Jarik’s team with his stunt. It felt like Lazlo had brought down another, while the other group of bounty hunters and some Jedi were busily overwhelming the remaining team. It was probably a fair statement then.
(Kira) While we may not have been the direct opposition in all the cases, we certainly had a hand in it.
At which point Sagramore sighed.
(Sagramore) Very well then. I believe Jarik and this ill-conceived plan of his are both utterly insane.
(Kira) I can’t say that I disagree. Even if you had largely succeeded, the sheer reprisals the Republic would have inflicted back on the Sith and the Baramour in particular were not going to be pleasant.
(Sagramore) Indeed, and I would like to get myself out of this stupid mess. We believe that you have been receiving support from one of the Sith factions for some time now, and we know that you are working with the Artificers but I doubt it is them – it’s not like they have any kind of central organization. I would like to receive protection and shelter with whoever it is that is supporting you. In exchange, I would be able to offer antidotes, antibiotics, vaccines, a number of other valuable formulas, and my services.
I wasn’t detecting any hint of possible treachery in the near future, but then with all the chaos going on and all the precognitives that could be involved it was impossible to sort the noise from the signal. Through the Bond I could sense Valerie get a smug grin on her face. She either had inside information or made an incredibly good guess there as my own precognition hadn’t foreseen this scenario. And it wasn’t like the difference in power between us was that substantial these days either. When this is over I am going to pester her about it until she tells me how she did it.
I wasn’t about to admit having substantial contacts with Sith who weren’t Artificers in a location I could be overheard though. Reaching out with the Force and the Codex, I determined the only vector by which that information would be leaked would be via Alys right now. She almost certainly had to suspect I was working with the Varen to some extent given the fact that I had shown up in the Codifier Galaxy with the Varen, had been answering their questions fully, and been in Valerie’s presence ever since. Surely she had figured it out by now.
I glanced at her for confirmation that she wasn’t going to repeat what I was about to say. Then I saw that she wasn’t particularly happy with my reluctance to answer the question. She finally caught my intent though and nodded in assent, although I could tell she was going to demand explanations in the near future. Well, it wasn’t like the Bond with Valerie was going to be able to remain a secret forever.
Actually, Alys was more confused… Why would Kira need her confirmation? It wasn’t like they weren’t ALL entangled with the Sith. The actual galaxy had turned out to be a lot more complex than the Holo’s made it out to be… When all “Sith” meant was that you’d let out-of-control force powers burn an obsession into your brain, you wound up with everything from posturing super villains out to destroy civilization to… well, cooks, and doctors so pacifistic that they persuaded the germs to become symbionts instead of killing them, and martial artists obsessed with proving how tough they were, and more – all to some extent crazy, but some quite tolerably so – or even helpful!
And that wasn’t even to mention the various subgroups of Codifiers.
Oh, for some reason Kira was still waiting for HER approval? She gave it.
(Kira) I can work on arranging an audience. Sad to say, I don’t quite have the authority to make such decisions myself. In many ways I am still on probation.
(Sagramore) Then I would recommend vacating the premises. The window of opportunity for leaving is nearly closed.
(Kira) I have ways around such issues.
<Kira> Valerie, I’m going to be using the escape route and I’ll be bringing some guests that want to cut a deal. Can you discreetly find someplace quiet?
<Valerie> Me be discreet? You are the one with your name and face plastered all over the news. Half the Galaxy knows you are in the Jedi Temple right now.
<Kira> And exactly how much of that is my fault? I came in here under disguise and met with the Jedi Council about as quietly as be managed by anyone including yourself. What exactly would you have had me do differently?
<Valerie> Not gone in there with so many known faces.
<Valerie> You’re sighing at me again.
<Kira> And you’re being difficult.
<Valerie> I am not being difficult. Fine, I will discreetly find someplace quiet. Although I doubt it will remain too quiet with you around.
<Kira> Hey, one of us has to be discreet, and it obviously isn’t me.
<Valerie> True, maybe it will finally rub off on you if I keep it up.
<Kira> One can hope.
(Kira) Alright, Alys, it looks like Jarik has escaped for the moment. I am going to take Sagramore and his people outside the military blockade. After that I am probably going after Jarik. Do you want to come along?
(Alys) No, I think I am needed here more.
Much as she wanted to, she couldn’t run the Weaponized Jacob containment from outside the temple – and if those things got loose en mass they’d be an ongoing disaster for years to come. Besides… it looked like she would have to explain to the military. That would take caution; they already knew that Ramith knew more than most – and he was disconcertingly fast and direct in his thinking. Beyond that, she wanted to monitor Lazlo – after all, he’d been taking lessons from Sith Holocrons, and directly mind-probing Sith, again – and to try to find out where Ben had gotten to, and talk to this Vi person.
For that matter, the Military was still trying to keep the Jedi Council out of their own temple – on the not-entirely-unreasonable grounds of biohazards to Coruscant.
Hmm… Too fast? Come to think of it, Coruscant HAD taken very VERY little damage from a massed Yeveetha suicide-assault – and not a single Yeveetha ship seemed to have reached the surface – and he had been inside the temple, meeting with a couple of hybrids. Was there a special top-secret training program for the high command? Codifiers didn’t need to follow the Jedi Code to avoid “falling” after all…
(Kira) Very well, suit yourself.
She didn’t seem happy with what I was doing. But unfortunately I needed to get outside of the Temple and at the same assist my benefactors without actively defying the Republic Military. A precarious balancing act of conflicting responsibilities to be sure, but I know where my bread is buttered these days. And it isn’t like the Varen are the ones that kidnapped my family either. That distinction falls to the so-called good guys outside right now who have gotten here faster than the hostiles did, and have apparently been secretly manipulating the Jedi Council and their investigations.
The military can demand my arrest and interrogation all they want for all I care until they hand over my family. I’ve got things to do. Finally I got a message from Valerie that she was ready on her end.
(Kira) Alright Sagramore, I would recommend you and your assistants take my hand and focus your attention on me. This is going to be a bit disconcerting on your first trip.
With them all focused on me, it was a relatively simple matter to start disconnecting the threads that bound me to the universe while dragging them with me. Sagramore resisted at first, but quickly relented as I severed more threads. Soon there was just a few threads remaining, and finally just the thread to Valerie provided by the Bond. One quick tug on that resulted in the scene around us suddenly shifting to that of an underground warehouse. Valerie was still in her civilian disguise, but I could see the weapons were now out in easy reach in case she needed them. It didn’t look like we were going to be overheard here for the moment. I was pleased to see that Sagramore at the very least seemed to be shocked by the teleportation demonstration.
(Kira) Sagramore, meet Valerie Soung. She is my contact with the Varen Sith. Valerie, this is Sagramore Wulfes. He would like to discuss his defection from the Baramour.
Now to find Jarik and put an end to this nonsense.
Back at the temple, Alys was explaining to the Military – with fair accuracy, even if she was leaving out a few bits about Kira. Sadly, the military wanted to arrest Jacob, the Jacobs, and Ben – since importing bioweapons to Coruscant was a major offense.
Lazlo, on the other hand, was sent to medical for a checkup, along with everyone else who had been in close contact with a Baramour, and was in line for a medal and a stipend. At least in the eyes of the Republic he and Alys were once more major heroes!
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 68a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 67b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 67a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 66b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 60c (ruscumag.wordpress.com)