In the accretion disk, Ben – a ragged castaway at the beginning of time, cast ashore from the multiverse on shore of a black hole, sailing his tree across the endless skies – was considering… Presuming that it would be some millennia yet before the end of this world, what could be done?
Technology might not be as out-of-the-question as he’d assumed; the trees scavenged heavier elements by straining the dust from the wind. Those must be produced in the fusion ring and thrown up to condense into dust in cooler regions. Materials WERE available; you just had to bring the trees down as close to the fusion zone as was tolerable and harvest the heavy elements that way. It would be long and laborious – as well as dangerous and toxic – but the heavier materials would grow more abundant as the hydrogen inflow slowed and materials from the inner edge of the environmental zone began to drop back into the fusion zone to be run through the fusion plasma over and over again.
Besides… where would they go? There would be no planets or reasonable stars for epochs to come. Wander the galaxy fusing the interstellar medium for the materials and power they needed until planets formed? Become the Alpha Empire, and ensure that all life in the galaxy would be biochemically compatible? Convert their homes to tree-spaceships with subspace metabolisms and help cool the galaxy? Eventually see them evolve to plant-based intelligence and found the plant-folk civilization he had encountered on one of his earlier jumps? There would certainly be a fair amount of thermal energy to work with for a long time to come.
Perhaps simply wait out most of the time in stasis fields? But would that even work? The stasis field seemed to drop you to the base timerate of the cosmos, and – without active life to provide faster time for most of the universe, would stasis even get you much here? It would still be billions of years to wait.
He was certainly developing a skill in shunting in materials to work with… Perhaps it would be best to simply leave records somehow and teach any of the bird-people who could to shunt in materials or otherwise organize their escape? Maybe if he built a Holocron just to train force-sensitives to train codifiers?
Meanwhile, back on Coruscant – and despite Alys and Lazlo’s hopes that the mess at the Temple was winding down and they could simply deal with the military and get out – the chaos was still going on. Kira, of course, was missing out on it what with his quick trip elsewhere…
We dropped into a storeroom I estimated about 50 kilometers from the Jedi Temple. I saw Valerie sitting on a crate waiting for us still dressed in her offworld tourist garb. I could see the unconscious and drooling blue skinned body of what I can only assume was the bar patron she had been needling for food and drink propped up in a corner. For a brief moment the thought crossed my mind of what Valerie must have said to have gotten the guy to come back here alone with here and a flicker of annoyance occurred before I suppressed it. Unfortunately, Valerie still saw that and gave me a knowing smile.
(Sagramore) Wait a moment, did you just disconnect us from the universe back there?!
(Kira) Yep, disconnecting the right threads in a controlled fashion can enable you to achieve several nifty tricks if you know what you are doing.
(Sagramore) It sounds like a good way to commit suicide thousands of different ways while at the same time enabling you to do a handful of tricks.
(Kira) In many ways, I can say the same thing about the Force.
That proceeded to get the glazed look I have come to recognize that I was practically arguing with the Censor as opposed to Sagramore. Oh well, that does mean I can more or less cut loose in front of him and not really worry about the guy being able to give an accurate description of what I am doing to others. The Censor is both handy and an annoyance at the same time. At least more of the issues involved on my side I can deal with, unlike Ben and the others who want to put various ways to destroy the cosmos back on the “not banned” list.
(Kira) Regardless, Sagramore, this is my contact with the Varen: Valerie Soung. Valerie, this is Sagramore Wulfes of the Baramour. He wishes to discuss terms of defection.
There was a brief moment of recognition in Sagramore’s eyes as he heard Valerie’s name, followed by a glance back my direction. I didn’t need to be a telepath to see the wheels turning in his head wondering just how much of the story about me and the Varen had to be lies and misinformation. Best to keep him guessing and off balance I think.
(Valerie) Feel free to order whatever you want from the droids. The unconscious gentleman has been kind enough to tell them to supply me with what I want, and I have told them that what you want is part of what I want.
What does it say about me that I am finding it rather difficult to feel much sympathy for the guy?
All that time fighting and running around the Jedi Temple had left me with a bit of hunger and thirst though. I proceeded to order a quick meal from the droids while I looked over the guys clothes to see if they would fit me. Sadly, they were a bit too large for me, but then again, that would better hide the large amounts of weapons I was currently carrying. I was toying with continuing to wear the Jedi robe or swap into his clothes when Valerie wanted an update.
<Valerie> So what is going on?
<Kira> Jarik, in his insane depravity, has decided he wants to kill a significant fraction of Coruscant with bioweapons. Initially he wanted to do this to implicate the Jedi and cause a split between them and the Republic, but that plan is shot. His current batch of plagues are destroyed, his plan is exposed, and he is on the run.
<Valerie> Great, leave it to the Jedi and military to handle then.
<Kira> All well and good, except for the fact that this nutjob is probably on the power level that he can turn cooking yeast into a deadly plague just by staring at it hard.
I didn’t need the Bond to catch that twitch on her face.
<Valerie> And Jarik is the doctor on your team that went off the deep end?
<Kira> Yep, the same.
<Valerie> AND YOU LET HIM LIVE?!
<Kira> Don’t take that tone with me. That was when your alternate’s husband was over here showing off. He got all sentimental and shoved Jarik into stasis instead of putting the bastard out of my misery.
<Valerie> My alternate’s husband? That’s your alternate you realize?
<Kira> Don’t remind me. I get back, Jarik is missing. I assume he is off gambling or something. We leave to retrieve you under threats from your father. We get back from that, and bounty hunters have released Jarik and he escaped before I had a chance to kill the bastard.
<Valerie> So you actually intend to kill Jarik this time?
<Kira> Yep, and you can add Jacob to that list next chance I get.
<Valerie> Well that makes today a good day!
<Kira> How so?
<Valerie> That’s two of your “friends” I get to kill without you whining about it.
I just stood there and stared for a minute. Part of me had to admire her directness and lack of scruples over getting the job done. And yet another part of me was annoyed that this was how she viewed my “friends”. Boy is she going to be a barrel of laughs to introduce to the family if this is any indication of how things might go.
<Valerie> Does your family get you nearly killed or attempt to go on mass killing sprees on a regular basis?
<Kira> Not a typical trait for Keldavs.
<Valerie> Then they don’t have anything to worry about from me.
Putting the argument aside for the moment, I focused my attentions back to the problem at hand. Jarik either needed to die or be rendered incapable of independent action. I didn’t have a second stage stasis generator available to trap him with, and he was well aware of that trick anyway. I didn’t have very good hopes on my ability to face him in single combat. Adding Valerie to the equation helped matters but not nearly as much as I would have liked. Plus how Sagramore would react under those circumstances was difficult to read at best. I considered trying to ask the Jedi Council for assistance, but it looked like they had managed to get inside the Jedi Temple now according to the news. So that put them out of reach. Indeed, the news kept replaying the scenes of the battle between Xiang and Chan over and over again. That was a disgusting display of power if I had ever seen one. They wouldn’t be of help in this either.
We couldn’t just ignore Jarik though. He was too talented to be considered disarmed, and he was bent on whatever this mad scheme of his was about. And the death and destruction that would entail for Coruscant was the last thing we needed now in the middle of this war with the Yeveetha. Well, I still have three belts of thermal detonators. Maybe that will make a dent in him.
Putting aside the how for later, I focused my attention on the issue of where. Reaching out with the Force, I searched for a power strong in the Dark Side of the Force nearby. The sheer amount of noise the city generated was difficult to wade through though. Immediately I could feel Sagramore, Chan, and Xiang. Valerie was significantly harder to pick up these days. I could sense the Jedi Council and other Jedi running around the Temple. There were also the remaining HoloSith beating a hasty retreat ahead of the Jedi counterattack too. Then I felt it, an immensely powerful Dark Sider fifty kilometers away and heading down into the depths of the planet. It looked like the reason I could sense him was that he was channeling the Dark Side into some technique, but it was difficult to tell what from here.
(Kira) Alright, who wants to go kill Jarik?
(Valerie) Count me in!
(Sagramore) Don’t really have much of a choice if we are to survive this.
(Kira) Alright, he is underneath the Jedi Temple and heading further down. We’re going to need a vehicle. Does the unconscious fool have one?
(Valerie) The “gentleman’s” tab isn’t enough to purchase a new vehicle.
(Kira) We don’t need a new one, we just need one able to get us near the Temple.
(Valerie) I know, I just would prefer stiffing him for a new one anyway.
Now suddenly I was curious to know what horrors of courtship the bastard had attempted. I found a set of keys on the guy’s jacket pocket and idly tossed those into the air. Precognition told me the vehicle these went to was parked out back. That also gave me a good whiff of the smell of alcohol on him and his clothes. It was no wonder the guy was unconscious given that smell.
(Kira) Right, shall we just go through the backwall so as to not create a disturbance as a Jedi, a Sith, and a young lady leave the backroom through the pub?
(Valerie) Lead the way then.
(Kira) Alright Sagramore, don’t resist this and it will work out fine.
He immediately began to protest as we pulled him towards the wall. At the very least his instinctive attempts to brace himself weren’t able to overpower both Valerie and I pulling him through. On the other side of the wall we found ourselves in the parking lot. Sagramore was busily staring at the wall we had just gone through while I hunted for the vehicle the keys belonged to. I was rather disappointed to find that the thing was a poorly supped up Hutt manufactured model. There is a reason why the term “Hutt Rocket” is not considered a term of endearment for a ride. I could tell Valerie’s opinion of the guy dropped even further when she saw it too. Oh well it will do for the short trip we needed it for.
Since I had the keys, I was the one that got behind the wheel. I could already tell this was going to be a chore to drive as I saw the shoddy upgrades done to the dashpanel and controls. It even didn’t want to start initially. Finally the engine started and I drove it out of the parking lot and towards the Jedi Temple. That proved to be a rapid lesson in controlling a repulsor car with too little handling for the (surprisingly large amount of) boosted power it had. Eventually I was able to get a handle on it without having to tap into the Force and Codex at all as we sped towards the Temple. I was too busy trying to keep the damned thing going straight to realize we had passed the police barricade until Valerie brought to my attention the pursuing patrol cars behind us.
(Police) This is the police. You have entered a restricted zone in a stolen vehicle. Land and surrender to police custody immediately.
That was fast of them to get a report on a stolen vehicle. Especially since the owner should still be unconscious on the floor behind some crates right now. Oh well, time for some fun then. I dove the car through several levels of traffic and then started running around buildings, relying on Codex and Force navigation to guide me. This thing wasn’t going to be able to stay ahead of them for long, but then it didn’t need to considering my ability to weave through traffic. A few minutes of that gave us enough distance to reach the destination and allow me to break their line of sight for a few moments.
Sadly, the owner had some friends – and they’d seen enough to check on their friend, wake him up, and call in a report.
“Dude, three Sith just jacked your ride!”.
We could bail out of the car and just fall to the street below without issue given our talents, but the car would quickly come to a stop without a driver. Hmm, on a second glance it looked like the owner had disabled a number of safety systems in order to get what performance gains he had. All it would take would be a simple wedge to hold the pedal in place while the steering control avoided buildings. It would need to be about so long, so thick, and preferably made of some sort of fibrous material to fit properly.
I proceeded to pull out the piece of the packing crate I had gotten earlier. I was most pleased to find it was a perfect fit for the situation at hand. Valerie watched me pull it out with a look of amusement while Sagramore was staring with a look of confusion.
(Kira) Alright, time to bail out the moment we turn the next corner!
I turned the car around the next skyscraper and threw open the door. Rolling out the side of the car, I glanced back upwards and saw that Sagramore and Valerie had also leapt out too. I telekinetically closed the doors before the police had line of sight on the car so they wouldn’t suspect a thing. With that done, I focused my attention on the ground below and all the cars zipping about at high speed underneath me. In fact there was one about to plow me over in a few seconds.
Without even really thinking about it, I tapped into a bit of Hypertime and gently landed on the hood of the car. Taking a moment to wave at the driver, I then backflipped off of the hood onto another truck further down. From there, I simply ran the length of the truck, leapt off the end and landed on another car. Cars were busily honking at me as I acrobatically leapt my way down to street level, all the while making it look absurdly easy as I did it. I was the first to reach the street behind Valerie and Sagramore as they gently floated down telekinetically beside me. I also got a standing ovation from all the people on the street who had watched my little performance. An older man sitting at a street cafe got up and handed me a drink.
(Old man) Bravo! The Jedi will occasionally drop down like your companions there from time to time, but none bother to put on a show like that! Let me buy you a drink as a toast to your showmanship!
Maybe I am a bit too paranoid, but I actually did scan the drink with the Force to check that it wasn’t a poison. Now assured that it wasn’t, I glady took the drink and made a show of taking a sip in front of the crowd as they applauded again.
(Valerie) I wish I had thought of doing that.
(Kira) Give it time. You’re doing better everyday.
Bidding the crowd goodbye, we departed into the substructure below the streets. Following the guidance from the Force and the Codex while chasing Jarik, we wound our way through the tunnels and passages underneath the city. We started running into fewer and fewer people as we made our way into the areas of the undercity that only droids went to for maintenance purposes. Soon enough we found a droid service elevator that looked like it went down towards where we were detecting Jacob. Unfortunately the access door looked to be made of a particularly dense material that was going to prove difficult to phase or cut through and it didn’t want to respond to requests to open.
Running precognition and probability analysis against the issue “helpfully” informed me to use a key to open the door. Well, since this looks like it is primarily used by droids, it stood to reason that one of the droids would have one. Running precognition and probability analysis against the droids running around to find a key told me to use a key to open the door again. Alright, something about this is weird and I must be missing something critical. I continued to stare at the door as Valerie got annoyed by my staring at a door.
(Valerie) Yes, it is a door. You going to cut through it or shall I instead?
(Kira) Hold on, I am missing something critical here.
Use a key….
Looking at the panel again, it looked like the key would be of a given thickness and length that would be slid along the slot to be read. It didn’t look to be magnetic per se, but some sort of an optical system, like it was meant to read an encoded crystal or something.
Wait a moment.
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out that blue piece of crystal I had gotten earlier in the warehouse. It did look to be of the right size, and the section that would presumably be slid through the slot was undamaged. I aligned the crystal at the top of the slot and then swiped it down in a smooth motion. A second later a light turned from red to green and the door opened to reveal an elevator car.
(Sagramore) Where did you get that?
(Kira) Found it in the Jedi Warehouse. I had a feeling it would come in handy at some point in this debacle, so I took it.
(Sagramore) That is awfully specific for precognition.
(Kira) Yep, instead I just did a survey of nearby alternate universes slightly ahead of us in the timeline for things that might be useful for me to have. With that list in hand, I just simply took the items suggested.
(Sagramore) That seems like an awfully circuitous and elaborate way of finding out what you should pack with you.
(Kira) Eh, all the techniques have their issues and blindspots. I find it useful to know what those limitations are and use them in combination to achieve results no single technique could.
Again that brought about the glazed look in his eyes as the Censor started interferring with his memory. Oh well, we loaded into the elevator car and pressed the button I felt would take us to the level Jarik was heading towards. That sent the car plummeting at a significant clip that was slightly alarming. We weren’t in freefall, but it was hard to take lightly just how far and fast we were dropping. Within minutes the metal and concrete substructure around us transitioned to stone and a metal framework. I could feel my ears pop as the air pressure around us increased.
(Valerie) Wait a minute, that’s bedrock! Just how deep are we going?
(Kira) I don’t know, the panel isn’t very indicative of depth. I didn’t think anything went this deep on Coruscant. Is this an old mining shaft?
(Valerie) Doesn’t look like it. There doesn’t seem to be any horizontal shafts or indications of exploratory drilling.
(Kira) Then what the hell is this? We’re kilometers underneath the lowest levels of the city from what I can tell.
(Valerie) At this rate we’ll be at the mantle soon.
(Kira) Odd, I am still sensing that Jarik is below us.
(Valerie) And it looks like we lost Sagramore.
I turned and saw that Sagramore had more or less mentally departed the premises. He was still here in body, but something about where we were was bringing the Censor down hard. What was down here that could do that?
(Kira) Watch it be a hidden shipyard for building Star Breakers or something.
At that point the elevator shaft around us opened up to reveal the largest room I had ever seen. I had thought some of the Republic government buildings like the Senate building or some of the largest cargo bays on the Mrs Beasley were huge. But they didn’t compare to this vista before our eyes now. One could easily park the Mrs Beasley in here and have room to spare. I felt Valerie become alarmed as she gripped my arm to get my attention. Turning to look at what she was seeing, I saw two Star Breakers in the foggy haze and what looked to be pieces of more.
(Kira) Oh crap.
I thought I was kidding about this being a shipyard for Star Breakers, but it literally looked like this place was an ancient Infinite Empire base hidden deep in the crust of Coruscant. This neatly explained where the Republic Codifiers had been able to stash Star Breakers and other Infinite Empire superweapons without anyone noticing. I just was now concerned with how many of these damned bases there were out there hidden practically in plain sight like this. Is this why the Jedi Temple was built in this location of all places?
And then I realized this was the same room Jarik was now running around in. Valerie reached the same thought as well.
(Valerie) We have to kill Jarik, NOW!
(Kira) I whole-heartedly agree.
Sagramore still was in a daze and was going to be useless in a fight as we reached the floor. I could sense Jarik was about a kilometer and a half away from here. At this range I could sense that he was pouring massive Dark Side energies into some sort of genetic manipulation technique. What he hoped to accomplish, I had no idea, but given where he was, I really didn’t want to give him a chance to finish. Unfortunately, I had my doubts about Valerie and I fighting him together in such wide open terrain like this. And if he managed to unleash some monstrosity or gained control of one of those Star Breakers, the death toll would be horrendous.
We took off at a run towards Jarik’s position. Valerie and I were doing what we could to shield our presence, but Sagramore was going to be detectable regardless of what we did. As we ran, I continued to evaluate various battle plans to use against Jarik and found the odds for most of them to be pretty bad. There had to be a plan that would work. Some way to use the situation to our advantage and win this. Otherwise there wasn’t much point to rushing forward and trying to win a hopeless battle.
Three belts worth of thermal detonators weren’t going to be of much help in killing Jarik out in the open like this. I’ve seen Sith of similar if not lesser power survive more than that. We were going to need something bigger, like that Rakata rifle or something if we were to hope of killing him quickly. But I didn’t have that with me, and it wasn’t like weaponry of that scale was readily available that would simply fit into the palm of my….
Wait a minute.
Realizing how stupid I was being I stopped running and started rummaging through my pockets. Valerie saw that I had stopped, and turned to see what I was doing. Her eyes went wide as I pulled out the space-field grenade.
(Valerie) What in the infinite hells is that thing?!
(Kira) Something else Optimization told me might come in handy: a space-field grenade. From what I understand, it uses a tiny piece of antimatter to power a lightsaber-level repulsive field blast in a multi-kilometer radius. It’s supposed to make quite a bang.
(Valerie) I’ll say, most any futures I foresee with that thing detonating end abruptly. How exactly is that going to help right now? While it might be able to kill him, it will also be readily able to kill us as well. Hypertime isn’t going to cut it on this one.
(Kira) We are probably the two best dimensional navigators in the Galaxy and you are asking me how we can dodge this thing?
(Valerie) I concede the point.
(Kira) Alright, where do you want to go visit? Let’s get our destination worked out so we don’t end up interfering with each other.
(Valerie) I am surprised you are asking. Of course the Codifier Galaxy is the easiest to aim for and we are welcome there.
(Kira) True enough, I’ll set the timer and drop this, after that we immediately drop out, right?
It only took a few seconds to figure out the timer mechanism since it looked to be using the same basic activation design of thermal detonators and other similar explosives. Before I clicked the activate function, I verified Valerie was ready. After getting the nod from her, I dropped the grenade and took a firm grasp of Sagramore and Valerie as we disconnected ourselves from the universe. We worked together in the blue mists of hyperspace to find the right thread that linked us to the Codifier Galaxy and then pulled hard.
Thanks to the Rakata installation being buried close to the mantle, it’s massive size, and the nigh-indestructible materials it was constructed of, Kira and company managed to detonate a hyperatomic weapon of mass destruction in the center of the biggest city in the galaxy without anyone noticing.
With a bright flash of light, we found ourselves in the middle of a busy shopping plaza. A number of people had seen our entrance and were gawking while others called for security. I could tell via the Force that we had to be on a city planet of some sort but it wasn’t immediately obvious which one or even if this was the right universe. I did manage to deduce that we were not in any immediate danger and so I wander over to a set of empty benches. The crowd did part to let me pass as they continued to gawk. No sooner had I sat down than a female’s voice next to me.
(Woman) Excuse me, but would you happen to be Kira Keldav?
I saw the voice had come from an attractive young woman that had pushed through the crowd around us.
(Kira) I am, please tell me that you are not a bounty hunter or something.
(Woman) I would love to get your autograph! You and your friends saved the Galaxy and the Republic from Huriel while stopping a millennia old war! Could you please make it out to Jenefer Arelli?
(Kira) Sure thing.
This certainly seemed to be the right Galaxy then based on what she had just described. As I signed the autograph she wanted, more began to line up wanting autographs as well. I could tell Valerie was suddenly annoyed with all the female attention I was getting but then she started getting her own requests as well once people began to recognize her too. I could tell that Sagramore was getting rather confused by all of this as he began to get requests from bystanders as well. Soon enough though I began to not feel well.
(Valerie) You’re not looking well. You seem to be turning a bit red.
(Kira) Yeah, I don’t feel so hot either.
(Sagramore) Probably the radiation pulse we took finally beginning to manifest itself. I’m surprised it took this long for you to start showing symptoms. I’ve been quietly compensating for some time now.
(Kira) Well, I was in Hypertime when the blast hit, so I probably got hit with a much less intense blast than everyone else in the Temple. It was probably frequency down shifted radiation that generated that blinding flash I saw.
(Valerie) Then we need to get you looked at by a medical facility.
The police arrived not long after that and requested confirmation of our identities. Valerie and I handed over our local identification codes and then vouched for Sagramore. That was when we found out we were on Codifier Coruscant. The police wanted Jedi to come and verify our claims though, but they were willing to take Sagramore and I to a medical center for preliminary treatment. The shoppers were disappointed that we were leaving and not going to be signing any more autographs, but the police were adamant about taking control of the situation.
At the medical center I was examined in detail and told I had received a significant amount of radiation. All in all, I apparently had gotten away with the equivalent of a large sunburn as opposed to anything more significant. I was given a number of supplements to take to help with the genetic and metabolic damage while given ointments for the burns themselves. As the redness faded and my skin finished peeling, I could see that my skin was darkening a bit. It took me a while to realize that was me tanning in response to the radiation blast.
A Jedi did show up during the treatment process, but he waited for a pause in the treatment instead of immediately demanding an audience.
(Jedi) It appears you have returned to our galaxy once again. You’re always welcome here, but might I ask what brings you here?
(Kira) I had to deal with an insane plague making Sith back in my home galaxy. He was threatening to unleash a number of those plagues on that Coruscant for whatever insane ends he had in mind. I was able to stop him, but the blast wave was impossible for me to survive without dropping out of the universe. Valerie and I figured this place was easy to aim for.
(Jedi) Commendable that you managed to stop such a madman. Of course the Jedi Order will attend to your expenses during your stay here. Now, might I ask about your companion Sagramore Wulfes? He has a great deal of medical expertise to be sure, but I can tell he is quite fallen.
(Kira) Has he caused trouble?
(Jedi) Not at all, although some of his statements have alarmed and worried some of the staff here at the hospital. We just have concerns about ones such as him, despite you and Ms Soung vouching for him.
(Kira) Well, he helped us track down the insane Sith trying to unleash the plagues in exchange for asylum. I figure that was worth a little bit of good faith, even if I don’t entirely trust him.
(Jedi) Very well. I shall leave the matter in your hands for now. Is there anything else you might require?
(Kira) We are probably going to need to borrow a ship and have a technician help us rig it for trans-temporal travel at some point. Navigating dimensions with a ship tends to be a bit less hazardous and a lot more controlled.
(Jedi) I think the Jedi Order and the Republic can arrange for a small ship to be provided. And there are always plenty of technicians available.
The local news was largely filled with more bits about the seemingly never-ending negotiations between the various factions of the Galaxy over Alys’s Constitution. It did look like things were heading towards peace, if not immediately towards unification. I was rather amused to see a comedy news program that was highlighting the latest rants from Mr Beasley and Elder Ben Therus about the immense dangers posed by Kira Keldav. Whether they were talking about me or the local version was hard to tell. Neither seemed to have a very good grasp on the whole idea that there were two Kira Keldav’s as far as the locals were concerned. Elder Alys was apparently busy keeping the various factions talking to each other, if not exactly working together.
Back on Coruscant-prime, Vi was having problems… It wasn’t just that Ben had vanished again (he needed a dimensional leash or something!); the reactor chamber was searing hot, and wasn’t going to cool anytime soon. Most of the doors were sealed, and probably too overheated to open readily. Alys was sending droids – but the closer they’d been to the center, the fewer of them had survived.
Worse, Jarik had made his own escape – and left behind a couple of thugs to shoot at him and plant his explosives. They were apparently thick – or possibly doped or brainwashed – enough to believe that Jarik would be coming back for them.
Disarming them, and persuading them that they had to get out before they all cooked was not easy. The door… was worse. Bypassing the controls and shunting all the available power into the opening-motors was useless. It was jammed too tight. None of them had the strength to operate the manual wheel is overheated and expansion-jammed as it was. There wasn’t any more power he could…
Oh. OF COURSE there was more power. The biggest hypermatter reactor he’d ever seen was sitting in the center of the room! All he needed was cables – and to not kill himself trying to route far too much power through the door drives.
The engine blew itself up in a sheet of flame in moments after he threw in the power – but it wrenched the door open far enough in those seconds to squeeze through.
Shipwreck had been late to Coruscant. He’d traveled with Xiang, and had insisted on stopping for a couple of private salvage-operations along the way – after all, he still had notes on a lot of hidden treasures – but the mess at the Jedi Temple appealed to his brand of opportunism. Could you claim salvage rights on a building?
Well, probably not – but with the military being obstructionist, he was willing to bet that he could find a way in for both himself AND the Jedi Council. Now, if he could get them to pay for it… Better to negotiate first and scan later! They were telepaths!
That actually more-or-less tied. The Jedi weren’t used to actually bargaining, particularly not over something as unimportant as a little cash.
Sadly, Shipwreck hadn’t really thought about what he was looking for BEYOND a way in when he slipped into his divinatory trance – except for one thing he’d had in the back of his head since he’d seen the Mrs Beasley; the biggest, most tricked-out, over-the-top, ship he could ever imagine – with fantastic amounts of treasure aboard.
The biggest and most impressive salvage claim in history – preferably of the multiverse, but he’d settle for a few thousand galaxies.
When he woke up, he was… standing on the surface of a planet, with patches of smooth metallic ground. The sky glowed a brilliant yellow, there were luxuriant patches of plants – of wildly different types – scattered about, and there were… dozens or hundreds of wrecked ships scattered around. ENDLESS salvage.
There was a Jedi Councilor peering through circular hole in the air behind him, and waving at him to come back – but the lure of the place was just too strong.
It wasn’t long before he stumbled across a “ravine” – or access corridor – going down, and into a clearly artificial planetoid.
It was GARGANTUAN – and the space between the outer hull and the central core was half full of… treasure. The plundered riches of a galaxy!
It also called for a crew of two hundred thousand or so – and had a couple of billion defense droids aboard. Fortunately, defense droids were relatively easy to fool with electronic manipulations and programming skills. All you had to do was stay out of the way, scan for control nexi, and feed new commands into the system.
When he got to the absurdly luxurious crew quarters it looked like… the last crewman had died of over-indulgence decades before, and the droids had sent his concubines and playthings home.
Something seemed to be wrong about that somehow. About the entire setup – but Shipwreck was too intoxicated with the lure of treasure to pay attention to such doubts. There were billions of artworks, statues, rooms of gems, and more – wealth and salvage beyond his wildest dreams.
Those doubts got resolved when he made it to the control chamber, with it’s viewing shafts; this was… a much older galaxy – and one apparently already plundered.
He should have paid more attention to that portal in the air!
The Jedi Councilor who’d followed Shipwreck – he was in a divinatory force-trance after all – had not been sure why he’d started meddling with the portal generator that some of the techs had built from Ben’s designs, opened a portal, and then passed through it – but he’d tried to call him back. When he would not return within the time limit for keeping the portal open… well, presumably it was the will of the force.
Wonderful. And the thing didn’t even seem to be rigged for transdimensional travel, even if he could steer it well enough.
That plaque – something about “Grand Prize” and “Imperial Succession Scavenger Hunt” was kind of worrisome as well. It likely meant that more claimants were on the way even if the thing WAS a stylized fake.
He had the robots start rigging for a transdimensional jump. It didn’t help that the thing seemed to be impossibly slow and lumbering, but he should be able to get at least ONE jump out of it…
Lazlo, meanwhile, had been running around collecting bounty hunters – and chasing the last of the ones who’d come in through the lower levels back out again. With the Jedi Council once again in the temple – and doing the same thing – it hadn’t been that hard. There would probably be stray parties of bounty hunters wandering about for days, but – in a building this size – that was almost unavoidable.
He turned his collected bounty hunters over to the Jedi and went to see what had happened to Ben…
What he actually found was Vi trying to get out; the outer door on the reactor containment was jammed as well – but at least the corridor was cool enough to live in.
Ripping the door off was easy enough. Dealing with the bounty hunters who were ALSO looking for Ben was not so easy – especially when they managed to set off another massive explosion that they had to be rescued from.
Fortunately, they didn’t try to resist Vi’s hypertime or Lazlo’s strength while they were trying to evade the explosion.
Fortunately, that was close to the last spasm of fighting. Lazlo and Alys could settle down to their honors and rewards and Vi could play the market while waiting for Ben to turn up again . And some time went by.
Shipwreck debated… Focus on Kira? He jumped around too much. Alys? No. Too likely to be in a conference room or something. Jacob? Hell no!
Eventually he settled on Ben, invoked the divinatory-trance again – what they heck, it had worked the last time – and tried to head for him.
Arriving near a primordial black hole in a primitive universe – with the hyperdrive in need of weeks worth of repair – was not what he’d had in mind.
Ben was quite shocked when a yellow star abruptly appeared in the sky – but wasn’t too shocked to realize that it HAD to be from outside, and therefore would have some of the resources he’d need!
He rigged his radio for more power and started signaling.
Oh gods! Was this where the “they built the first transdimensional tunnel generator out of wood” had come from?
Shipwreck was shocked to find himself being signaled by a black hole – but, having found that the yellow sky-glow was in fact manipulable as the galaxies largest light-show, and could be made to act as a speaker system as well thanks to it’s magnetic containment, used that to signal back.
They got together eventually – after some confusion over ragged, castaway, tree-dwelling Ben (an atavist version? Had someone REALLY wanted him gone?) and ruthless pirate Shipwreck who’d evidently lived up to his name to plunder the commerce of a galaxy – and gathered up quite a few of the trees and bird-folk as well. The magnetic flux, and low gravity, of the pirate planet’s upper atmosphere lighting-speaking system could support them while Ben rigged the drives for another jump.
That took them to an older universe – the archeological realm where humans were long extinct.
The actual scholars turned out to be more reasonable than their droids… This universe had… fended off the final empire by dismantling the grid and re-engineering themselves for slow time experience. That way they didn’t NEED faster than light travel. Aging was linked to information storage – which went into the force ghost, and so led to a slow but inevitable progressive mismatch between the spirit and the body until the breakdowns cascaded. The “Censor” was an early stage in the growth of a galactic mind – the blind tropism/survival urge stage.
(Ben considered that for some time… of which this 48 billion year old universe offered plenty). There might be some very old codifiers or hybrids running around indeed, only adding information to their personal experiences when absolutely necessary. How irrational could you get across 20,000 years?)
But why were they HERE? Normally they were drawn to galaxies that needed fixing! What need had brought them here?
Oh… The bird-folk didn’t mind not having a planet nearby, they needed lots of zero-gravity space stations – which this universe had in plenty. They were here for the infinite skies…
Back with Kira and Valerie…
True to the Jedi’s word, a ship was presented for our use not long after we were finished with medical and had given full reports to the Jedi and the government. They had even gone to the trouble of installing a second hyperdrive purely for use as a trans-temporal system. Valerie was looking over the ship with me when she suddenly spoke up.
(Valerie) It does seem that there are benefits to being in the public eye from time to time.
(Kira) Well, it helps to be seen as a great hero as opposed to a source of enough credits to immediately retire filthy rich.
(Valerie) We’ll have to do something about that bounty then. Still, once again you have managed to cobble together another success on demand with little to no support beyond these friends of yours. And you even managed to kill yet another powerful Sith using cunning and wits as opposed to brute force.
(Kira) Well I doubt Jarik is permanently dead since he likely knew the cloning technique. Besides, I would probably say a space-field grenade is a form of brute force.
(Valerie) You used the techniques at your disposal to realize you should grab it. Then you had the one thing at your disposal you needed to ensure a swift victory against a powerful and dangerous opponent with minimal risk to yourself and others. Not a bad job there.
With that Valerie got a strange look in her eyes I hadn’t seen before. Before I really had a chance to ask her what was wrong, she moved to pin me against the wall. The sense of alarm I felt quickly turned to surprise as she leaned in and kissed me rather passionately.
(Valerie) And you were actually feeling threatened by that poor drunk back in the pub!
(Kira) Oh like all those young women back in the mall wanting my autograph didn’t make you feel a bit jealous? And I will admit that poor guy is a lot like how I used to be before I was captured by the Sith.
(Valerie) That was a long time ago. Since then you have given me lost technologies, legendary techniques, a chance for true control of the Force, access to a planet’s worth of manufacturing capacity, and opened the door to the entire multiverse for me. And as a Varen you have continually managed to restrain the excesses of the other Sith, not gone on an insane rampage yourself, and proceeded to become the most famous former student of my Father and his Academy since escaping. What isn’t there to like?
(Kira) And yet you continually tell me of my shortcomings in your eyes.
(Valerie) Because as good as you’ve become, I still see that you can do even better. I am just providing the prodding to push you to do better is all.
(Kira) We aren’t so different from our local counterparts then, are we?
(Valerie) We just met under different circumstances is all. The rest has just been differences in background.
And with that she embraced me again and I returned it this time. Finishing that embrace, we completed inspecting the ship and declared to the Jedi that this one was more than adequate for our needs and thanked them. We left the Jedi messages to give to our local counterparts, loaded into the ship, and left Coruscant. Then the debate turned to where to try to head next. We could agree on returning to our own Galaxy readily enough. We had learned enough about the Republic Codifiers to warrant a report to the Varen. The recordings we had of the Star Breakers hidden underneath Coruscant should be enough to convince even the most cynical how serious the situation could get.
Returning to Coruscant though was asking for trouble after that whole fiasco we had just gone through. While I was beginning to have my suspicions regarding Alderaan itself, my bounty precluded me going anywhere near there anytime soon. Varen space was a possibility, but our business there at the moment would largely consist of submitting a report and then moving on again. No, when we got right down to it, it looked like returning to the Mrs Beasley and regrouping and rearming was the most prudent move right now. With that decided, we laid in a course we felt was likely to take us there and started the trans-temporal drive.
Handell and Ben could probably have made the journey a bit faster, but the two of us managed while Sagramore watched with curiosity. Nonetheless we ended up in Satellite-Coruscant system a few hours later (which was something of another shock to Sagramore). Another quick round of identification codes and verification occurred between us and the local military. Once we were positively identified in their eyes, we were welcomed and then informed of the Mrs Beasley’s location as it was busily working in the local Kuat system building a number of subspace relays and hyperspace navigation beacons for placement between the two galaxies. It was a bit of a long term project, but still a worthwhile one on a number of levels. With that information in hand, we quickly were able to lay in a new course for the Kuat system.
Arriving there, we found the Mrs Beasley slowing deconstructing a number of asteroids for raw materials. We were granted docking permission after requesting it. Landing in the designated shuttle bay, we saw that Virstris and a number of the others were already waiting for us. Valerie and Virstris took Sagramore off to meet with Lisella for debriefing and for discussions of asylum with the Varen. With any luck, Sagramore will have more valuable information regarding the activities and resources Jarik has at his disposal so that we might be better prepared for the next insane plot. While they worked on that, I figured now was as good a time as any to sit back and relax a bit. Unfortunately my efforts on that front were impeded by Alys wanting to interrogate me.
(Kira) Ah, I see you managed to extricate yourself from that mess quickly enough.
(Alys) Not without a lot of difficult explaining and covering for you. What were you doing running off with a Baramour like that in the middle of the battle and then bringing him here no less?
(Kira) Well, Valerie wants to run more tests on curing the Dark Side and mental disorders using the Codex. She’s been particularly keen on getting a Baramour for that project in an effort to reform them. It seemed like an opportunity to not waste.
(Alys) And it comes back to her again. Why in the Galaxy was she with you on Coruscant?
(Kira) We’ve gotten sort of attached to each other these days. Because of that she isn’t about to let me run around without being nearby herself. She wants to be able to intervene or help if things get ugly like they so often do around me.
(Alys) Which is odd considering you were rather fearful of her until recently. It all seemed to change about the timeframe you disappeared on Gruenn and then reappeared with the Varen around Codifier Alderaan.
(Kira) It’s difficult to explain right now, but due to a quirk of fate, I ended up in Varen space after that battle with Lecrouss. As part of that whole experience, I learned a great deal about what type of person I am, and why my powers are developing as they have been. It turns out that I owe Valerie a great deal and just never realized it until then. Because of what I learned, I’ve found that there are few people I can trust like I can trust Valerie.
Alys was clearly surprised by that as she went silent. She didn’t impede me anymore as I walked past her towards the Sith canton. I just wanted to find someplace nice and quiet to lay down, relax and think a bit. This whole fiasco on Coruscant has given me a lot to think about and has managed to make my ambitions to find my family a bit more difficult. The most immediate problem was the hordes of insane, stupid, and desperate bounty hunters that continually showed up whereever anyone looking like Kira Keldav arrived. I know Valerie was advocating exterminating enough of them to warn off the others, but there had to be a different way.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 68b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- 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 61b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)