Off in the archeological galaxy, Ben and Shipwreck were trying to decide what to do. The ship they were on was a lumbering monstrosity. Refitting the drives would… take close to two centuries; even if the locals were willing to do it in exchange for copies of the cultural archives. They simply weren’t fitted out for fast engineering at all, much less on a planetary scale. They just didn’t have TIME for that, even if the local timerate was far faster than at home. It would still translate into months.
Shipwreck really didn’t want to abandon the ship. Maybe they could prevent it from being traced? Transdimensional tracing links normally meant force-bonds, most often to plants. If they set fire to all the plant life aboard other than the black-hole trees…
No, some of the trees were protesting by radio. Either naturally intelligent or bio-engineered for it. Burning them all down would be… just wrong. Besides, searching a planetary-scale volume would take decades, even with a horde of droids to do it. It would never work.
There was no choice. They were going to have to abandon the thing. It was a giant golden bait!
For a moment he had to contemplate things. He’d finally mastered the ability to reach out across the dimensions and steal his own pants from an alternate version of himself. What did that achievement say about his life?
Getting Shipwreck to agree didn’t QUITE take multiple applications of a crowbar to his head, but it certainly seemed that way.
Fortunately, it didn’t take too long to renovate one of the many “pirated ships” scattered across the surface of the planet – even if they apparently never HAD had truly functional drive systems.
Shipwreck insisted on covering the hull with half a foot to six feet of gold (depending on the location), and making most of the structure of platinum, and stuffing it full of gems and artwork and such – but that didn’t matter a lot.
This time around Ben tried for the Mrs Beasley, Smooche, and a satellite galaxy where they were all liked. Hopefully that cumulative set of circumstances would put them in the right timeline.
Vi, meanwhile, had been working on his own solution for Ben’s tendency to drop out of the universe. If force-links helped anchor you, and force-active clones caused force-based feedback headaches, it stood to reason that – since EVERYONE was force-active to some slight degree – a mass of clones in hibernation might serve as an anchor of sorts.
He’d commandeered some facilities aboard the Mrs Beasley and begun cloning up a pilot project – a mere twenty thousand to start with.
Ben found it unexpectedly easy to get back. So easy, in fact, that he collided with the hull – and dented his own ship. Dented? How flimsy was this thing!?!? He was getting off this ship! Anything that wasn’t overbuilt by a factor of at least a hundred was too flimsy for human use!
Besides… he had a package for the cook! Some fruit from the beginning of the universe and some seeds to grow more of the tree! Complete with a handwritten note on beaten-out back… He’d enjoy having the primal food!
After that it was time to get into some real clothes and then his spare armor – pending a complete armor redesign. He might go with the mirror finish for now, there was no time to attune crystal – and he really needed to find Ichara to talk about aging and work on his mega holocron bacta tank of doom.
(Yes indeed, Ben had picked some of the first fruit, and had led the exodus from the garden at the beginning of time…).
The droids took it. Looking at Ben had given Alys a horrible flashback to Jacob’s first appearance, and she was worried that whatever-it-was might be contagious.
Alys was getting her alternate set of parents off Coruscant-Prime and into apartments on Banana Republic Coruscant. Having both sets on the same planet was just asking for trouble.
Lazlo was finally getting responses to the email’s he’d sent off. One seemed straightforward; it was… a fairly typical gung-ho military recruiting routine. It took you to a private site where you got… personality evaluations, questions as to what had led you to the recruiting site, questions as to why you wanted those powers and what you planned to do with them… They really seemed to want loyalty to the republic and – if your answers didn’t fit in with whatever-it-was they had in mind, they pretty much told you to go away. The other groups answers though… they were different.
Kira, meanwhile, was thinking.
Again I found myself laying on the grass in the Sith Canton staring idly at the ceiling of the place as I pondered the recent revelations. The fact that Jarik knew where to find that Infinite Empire installation on Coruscant says a number of disturbing things about that whole fiasco. The simplest solution was to presume Jarik was a Hybrid and had managed to stumble upon the base at some point. Unfortunately, the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me was becoming concerned that someone in the Republic Codifier group was quietly supporting him. But if that was the case, then why didn’t he try to go for the Star Breaker instead?
He went right for the base after being force to flee, but didn’t use the weapons in it that should have been his first goal. Had he been promised something in exchange for trying to implicate the Jedi in a bioweapons disaster? After that failed, he tried to get the weapons he had been denied the use of earlier? But why do that if your own people are having a major meeting in the Temple basement and thereby in the line of fire?
Something here was not making sense.
And then there was the fact that it was now blindingly obvious that attempting to run any sort of investigation personally was likely to quickly blow up in my face as bounty hunters would swarm anywhere a person vaguely resembling my description showed up. The fact that they had done so even though I was supposedly dead more or less proved that point. So it wasn’t like I could even take refuge in the Verun Navaro ID either. Valerie was advocating just publicly exterminating the bounty hunters repeatedly until they got the picture. I didn’t voice the opinion that I thought this a sign of compulsive Dark Side behavior on her part and thankfully she didn’t catch me thinking that thought via the Bond. Sadly, I couldn’t just pay the bounty boards to just remove me from the listing. And any attempt to try and track down who put the bounty on me was going to result in being hounded by bounty hunters the entire time as they desperately seek the reward.
It’s about money…
Well, we certainly have plenty of ways to produce wealth with the Mrs Beasley, perhaps I could set up a fund to pay money to those that could show that they had managed to reduce the bounty on my head? Say pay ten credits for every credit removed from my head. Hell, the real Mrs Beasley showed that public trust funds could do wonders for garnering support and money for various causes. And I am willing to bet most people across the Galaxy are getting rather upset with the sheer scale of the nonsense that is constantly following me around.
With that thought in mind I called a local communications and marketing firm in this Satellite Republic. It took several minutes to explain the dilemma I was facing and what I was hoping to accomplish. Luckily my popularity here was enough to get them enthusiastic about the concept above and beyond the simple act of paying them. There is something to be said to having enthusiasm above and beyond the simple urge to get paid. With a contract agreed upon and them authorized to act on my behalf in this matter, I assigned a percentage of the resources of the Mrs Beasley under my command to work on securing the funds needed. It would take time, but then I wasn’t likely to need to come up with 300 billion credits immediately either. Sadly, if the Republic Codifiers are behind the bulk of the bounty, this method isn’t going to be very successful. Still it would be informative to see how successful this venture is.
Ben also showed up about this time, apparently having gotten back from some black hole world or something like that. I didn’t really catch enough of his story to make sense of it. His observation that aging seemed to be tied to the accumulation of memories was both informative and yet disturbing and the same time. In theory this meant that a Codifer (or more likely a Faded) could conceivably be able to remain forever young just by continually deleted memories. It was even possible that the founders of the Republic Codifiers were still running those organizations. The possibility of a bunch of immortal Republic Codifiers continually deleting their memories of past failures and getting overly inflated opinions of themselves was not a particularly welcome idea.
On the plus side, the odds of a Codex user lasting that long were slim at best. A Hybrid might be able to do it though. They could even benefit from offloading memories to a holocron for later retrieval. Ben and the others immediately got excited by that possibility, although I had my reservations about how smart it was to be erasing portions of your own mind simply because you found them boring.
At about that point my commlink chirped.
(Kira) Go ahead.
(Nimh) Keldav, we’ve gotten replies to the email recruitment messages. I wanted you to take a look at them. There are several of us on the bridge reviewing them now.
(Kira) On my way.
I made my way to the bridge after making sure that Valerie and the others were aware of the news too. Once there I found that Alys, someone named Vi, Lazlo, and Nimh were reviewing the messages in detail on a number of the screens. Nimh looked to be doing a series of traces on the communications while also doing analyses on the contents of the messages themselves. Lazlo, Alys, and Vi were just watching all the messages and taking notes. I figured Vi was just another technician or something the others picked up. I grabbed a copy of the messages and then proceeded to sit down and review them myself.
It was fairly obvious after a couple minutes of comparison that there seemed to be two completely different recruitment campaigns going on. The first one looked to be a Republic Special Officers recruitment montage given the repeated emphasis on patriotism, loyalty, and duty. It directed you to a preliminary set of psychological examinations involved once someone applied for training. Interestingly, those messages were full of demonstrations of the various Codex techniques, but were incredibly sparse on detail on how to try to use them. Apparently if you took the exams and were found to be unfit to be trained, you wouldn’t have enough knowledge to try to continue on anyway. I had a sneaking suspicion that this was the group Fleet Admiral Ramith and those Hybrids were a part of.
The other recruitment campaign was substantially different in terms of basic philosophy. There actually was several weeks worth of training material to get one started on the basics of the Codex. They didn’t seem to be nearly as picky with their recruitment efforts though. I was just surprised at how much information they were giving away on how to use the Codex for a wide variety of techniques. It seemed incredibly reckless on some level.
(Nimh) Keldav, can you deduce anything based on the training holos they’ve provided?
(Kira) I am not sure I understand what you mean. As best as I can tell this looks to be valid training material for how to use the Codex.
(Nimh) I meant can you determine anything about their general philosophy based on that training regimine?
(Kira) Not really, a month’s worth of material isn’t really much to go on.
(Nimh) Then might it be prudent to involve Instructor Herkondow in this?
(Kira) That is a good point. Where is that bitch bug anyway?
(Valerie) Stop it, she isn’t going to prove cooperative if you keep referring to her in such a manner.
(Kira) Oh like she enjoys my company anyway? During our last training session she called me a patronizing fool utterly lacking restraint.
(Valerie) She’s just trying to push you to do better, and she is highly orthodox in her thinking. I’ll talk to her and ask her opinion, Nimh.
With that, Ilia started participating in the discussion remotely from her quarters as she began to review the material as well. She, Alys and Valerie started discussing various nuances of the training holos as they nitpicked a variety of minor details. I wasn’t quite seeing most of what they were talking about or why the particular choice of wording in a few places was so damned critical. It all looked like a standard training holo to me.
(Alys) It looks like these are all set up to lead to a Fading accident if someone doesn’t get recruited.
(Ilia) Quite astute dear. I concur.
(Kira) Huh? I don’t see that.
(Ilia) You might if you didn’t foolishly rely on those Binding techniques so much to compensate for your reckless abandon.
(Kira) Foolishly? I’ve been able to pull off stunts you could only dream of by using the Force and the Codex in tandem.
(Ilia) Yes, and how many times have you fallen out of the universe doing so?
(Ilia) I count four times. Once when you came to my universe. Second was when you came back here and Valerie came to mine. Third was against the Faded assault on this ship. And the fourth was when you did it ON PURPOSE to dodge your own attack.
(Kira) And you’ll note I survived each of those and managed to get back home using the Force to guide me.
(Ilia) My point exactly.
I just glared at the screen for that. She returned with her own disapproving and condescending stare.
(Valerie) So these are looking like a Faded training regimine?
(Ilia) Yes, I would say that is the case. And the other is looking like a much more prudent and controlled approach to the inherent problems in training people with the Codex. They may well be the Codifier equivalent.
Great, two groups of Codex users out there and no easy way to tell which one is the one I am looking for. And given the limited luck we were having in tracing these messages, it looked like the only method of continuing to track this back was to actually try and be recruited. That was going to mean splitting up to tackle both groups at once. I knew I had no chance of passing a military psychological exam, plus my biometrics were on file with the military as well. So by default I had to either not participate, or try to infiltrate the other group.
Lazlo wanted to join the military bunch. Vi elected to go with him. Ben wanted to look into the more pragmatic bunch, as did Alys. Telera – having no codex abilities – had to abstain from the mission. Valerie insisted she had very important things to work on with the help of Sagramore. I figured that was more experiments on curing mental disorders and the Dark Side. Most of the rest were either not qualified or not interested in this exercise.
(Virstris) I’ll go!
(Virstris) Kira thinks I might have potential, since I can resist the Censor. So it would make sense that I should try.
(Valerie) Do you realize how dangerous the Codex is?!
(Virstris) You use it all the time!
(Valerie) That’s different!
(Virstris) How so?!
(Valerie) Because like Kira, I am also a Force user!
That quickly devolved into a shouting match between the two of them. I was becoming concerned that it might come to blows there on the bridge when they both stormed off in opposite directions to take different elevators. I was going to let them cool down on their own when Nimh suddenly spoke up.
(Nimh) You do realize Virstris ran off with a copy of the training materials in her hands?
(Kira) Damn it all.
I hadn’t noticed that. Knowing that she was as head strong as her sister, I wouldn’t put it past her to try to run through the training program herself. I immediately ran for another elevator and called up the destination Virstris was heading for. Thankfully it didn’t look like she had turned off her internal tracking aboard the Mrs Beasley as I saw she was heading for one of the nearby training rooms. I told the elevator to take me there as well. By this point Valerie had sensed my own alarm and was wanting to know what was going on. She didn’t appreciate my opinion that she needed to leave this one to me for now, but finally relented. After what seemed like an eternity, I was dropped off in another otherwise nondescript corridor and my pocket computer directed me towards a door down the hallway.
Annoyingly I found the door locked. Reaching through the wall with the Force verified her presence on the other side, but she didn’t seem to be interested in opening the door. Finally I just phased through into the training room. I found Virstris had just inserted the datacard and was working on pulling up the initial training holo. She heard me approach and quickly glanced over her shoulder before returning to the console.
(Virstris) Why are you here?
(Kira) I was worried that you might be trying something stupid.
(Virstris) I can handle this.
(Kira) I would really prefer you did this in the presence of someone who knows what they are doing. Preferably a Force user too.
(Virstris) You think I need my hand held?
(Kira) I am worried that someone who’s in many ways like a sister to me is going to get herself stuck in the void!
That seemed to trip her up and knock her out of her dark mood.
(Kira) You’ll notice that I’ve had my fair share of accidents using this stuff. The only reason I am still alive to talk about it is because I am cheating as far as Ilia is concerned. If these really are Faded training exercises as Alys and Ilia think they are, then you are better off receiving Codifier training instead.
(Virstris) Ilia said she was too busy training the others to help me.
(Kira) I think Ilia is too obsessed with your sister to think straight. Besides, I’ve been trained as a Codifier and I am also a Force user. So I can train you and anchor you in case of accidents.
(Virstris) You mean like Valerie does for you?
(Kira) Not quite on the same level, but same basic principle.
(Virstris) You’d help me with this?
(Kira) I am practically your brother-in-law aren’t I?
With that she hugged me tightly. With that out of the way, we started running through the various training exercise holos. We would watch each lesson, I would then fill in the blanks, and she would then try to take the knowledge and apply it. Quite a bit of time was spent on the Codifier philosophy and why this was important given how the powers worked. We quickly settled into a rotation of a few hours every day with large blocks of time with her interacting with the others on the team like Augusta, Ban, Vincent and I.
As first Valerie was too busy with her own experiments to bother coming to assist with this, but I finally had to put my foot down and had a lengthy “discussion” with Valerie about it. She relented and began to spend time with Virstris both during training and outside of it for a bit of sisterly bonding experience. Personally, I felt it was as much for Valerie’s own good as it was for Virstris. Virstris needed as many bonds to friends and family as she could get, and Valerie still being rather belligerent with others.
It was a long few weeks as we waited for replies to the recruitment applications.
Lazlo, meanwhile, had been taking tests… He’d decided to be honest. He let them know that he thought that the republic was well-intentioned, if a bit crazy in spots, that it didn’t seem to be able to sort out what it wanted to be, and that it was still the best form of government that he’d seen so far (even if that was a bit sad). The Jedi were friendly, he rather liked their company, and they were good to have around – even if they were rather inefficient.
On the psychological evaluation side… He seemed reasonably sane, he seemed to expect some discipline and supervision in his life, he seemed to have a flexible approach to problems, and he didn’t seem insanely destructive.
He wasn’t entirely ideal, but he wasn’t a bad candidate. He got directions.
Finally we were given directions on how to meet actual recruiters and be tested to join either group. It looked like the one we suspected was for Republic naval officers was exactly as we figured since instructions were more or less to pick a Republic world and the recruiters would come test you and take you in for more training if they accepted you. The other one was to head to a quiet system outside the typical boundary of the Galaxy and apply at some sort of training facility. I especially loved the little blurb at the end of the message that said we would be free to leave the facility at any time of our choosing. Somehow I suspect that it wouldn’t be the way most people expect to leave.
With destinations now in hand, it was time to plan for heading out. We were going to split up as we had agreed: Vi and Lazlo to meet the military recruiters, and Alys, Ben, Virstris and I to meet the more “pragmatic” group in that distant system. We ended up using a small battered ship we had salvaged from one of the other galaxies, and even decided to use the hypertunnel system to reduce the trip time substantially. It was Ben that figured out that by using the shorter “route” we could delay our departure another couple weeks and so stay aboard the Mrs Beasley in relative comfort that much longer. I had to admit it was a decent way of doing things. Although Vi and Lazlo still had to go about it the long way since their route would have entailed silting issues otherwise.
That did give me another couple of weeks to work on Virstris’s training before departure though, so I wasn’t going to complain. That also gave us more time to work on our false ID’s. Ben and Virstris were going as mercenaries doing freelance work, while Alys was going as a trader. I was going to use the Aaron Corselli ID as a pilot and racer. I was going to be doing piloting and courier work after a bike crash ruined my racing bike until I could get enough funds again to do repairs or buy a new one. The unconscious use of hypertime could go a long way towards explaining how I managed to do races and survive crashes at the speeds frequently involved out on the Rim. To support this I had some documents of participation in a few races, the ID documentation, and a small account with funds in it towards buying a new bike. I did leave most of my weapons and armor behind though since I figured it was going to be incredibly difficult to smuggle the robes and lightsabers into the place.
Lazlo and Vi arrived first – and found that Lazlo’s base species was a good deal more “catlike” than he was. They were also competitive, cheerful to the point where they thought that normal people were depressive, they were very physically-oriented – and they seemed to feel that the droid-based economy gave them license to turn EVERYTHING into a quick physical contest. Not enough berths? Arm-wrestle for it! Building a dam? Decide who gets the contract by a foot race! Why not? It didn’t matter too much!
At the moment, one port had been co-opted for a music festival and one was flooded – but was available if your ship could operate underwater and you wanted to swim to shore through the floodwaters.
Lazlo sighed and took that one rather than wrestle for a berth at the remaining open port or the satellites. He and Vi managed to get ashore without too much trouble…
It wasn’t long – and not too many episodes of having sensible, easy, answers disregarded in favor of a competition to decide the issue – before he concluded that he didn’t much like his race; they were just too silly! Legislation by wrestling and repeals by general public boxing? How could you run a society like that?
On their part, they thought that Lazlo could stand to lighten up. Why shouldn’t life be mostly made up of parties? There were LOTS of droids, and they didn’t need that much supervision – and most of that could be hired offworld…
They gave him a legal certificate entitling him to beat the hell out of everyone involved in the genetic meddling – and would pay bounties to help him arrange opportunities.
Well, he had to admit that in some ways that MIGHT be more satisfying than a fine.
The recruiter did, indeed, turn out to be military – and found Lazlo to be a reasonably good candidate, even under his real name and with access to his records.
Vi, meanwhile, attempted to plant a bug on the military courier, but – unfortunately – called a bit too much attention to himself and had to escape.
It wasn’t that hard to escape from three or four normal military types, especially since they were ships crew rather than specialists, but it was a bit conspicuous.
On the other hand, when he simply decided to go apply, he was a tolerably good prospect too.
The introductory training program did include some questions about the rest of the group – but it was primarily focused on boot camp. The military DID have good trainers though – and it looked like this was a fast track to special forces or even fleet command duties with excellent pay and benefits, some latitude with regard to cover activities, companionship, and a general feeling of superiority – with Sith as the usual targets.
They… seemed to be quite honest, encouraged outside ties, and weren’t too worried about secrecy. They apparently simply trusted in the Censor for that.
Meanwhile, It was finally time for Kira, Alys, and the rest to head out to meet THEIR recruiters…
The hypertunnel trip itself was uneventful. We arrived a good distance out to avoid detection and then went in the rest of the way in the more conventional manner. We soon arrived in a system a significant ways from the main disk of the Galaxy. It wasn’t quite a red dwarf star like we would find Vampiric Space Moss around, but it still wasn’t quite in the main sequence range we are used to. That fact alone made me rather wary of the local biospheres to start with. There were three gas giants with moons supporting ecospheres of some sort, but I wanted to have nothing to do with either of them considering neither of them were our destination and those gas giants were significantly warmer than they had any right to be.
I think it was Ben who first noticed the pair of Star Breakers in the system as he proceeded to get really excited about them. I was significantly more disturbed by it though considering that this now brought the number of Star Breakers these guys had managed to keep since the Infinite Empire to four. Of course, two of those I had pretty thoroughly destroyed I think, but I wasn’t about to volunteer that information without a damned good reason. At least Alys and Virstris seemed to be less than enthusiastic about seeing those things.
Ben was the first to notice that the moon-systems of the gas giants seemed to be “hungry” and hard to sense with the force – and their presence was blurring the entire system. The Starbreakers were heavily shielded with the stuff as well.
Great. A solution to the Censor, and it was apparently in the hands of a bunch of throughly ruthless bastards who thought it was a good idea to keep a fleet of starbreaker superweapons.
Our destination was a world in close around the parent star. Close enough to make it a hot, muggy tropical mess despite the relative coolness of the star. The local port authority quickly confirmed our identity and then gave us directions for landing at what was looking like a fairly large training center near one of the coasts of an inland sea. We were quickly met at the port by someone that just seemed to reek of a sense of self-importance. He looked at each of us in turn as he tried to measure us up. After introducing ourselves, we were then led to the training center we had seen flying in. We were split up and led to separate rooms. There I was sat in front of a psychologist who wanted to ask all sorts of vague yet probing questions. At first he asked about my background to which I gave the Aaron Corselli story, but then things started moving towards general personality test type stuff.
I figured it prudent to not be using telepathy around this bunch unless I absolutely had to. And trying to fake a personality with these testers was as likely to reveal I was hiding something as it was to work. No, it was smarter to let them see my personality, and then color the details of my background to mislead them.
(Psychologist) Tell me, what are your opinions of the Jedi and the Sith?
(Kira) Eh, both are a bit nuts on some level. The Sith are more blatant about it, but the Jedi also have their issues. I think the Jedi are doing the best they can given the limits of their situation. Playing a game while missing half the pieces really doesn’t work well.
There was a lot of scribbling on his datapad.
(Psychologist) Now, what do you think about the Republic and it’s military?
(Kira) The Republic is the best solution seen thus far, but that isn’t really saying much when all you have to compare it to is the Hutts, the Sith, and all those minor little fiefdoms out there. Frankly I think it’s position as the only superpower in the Galaxy has made it complacent. A little competition from another organized power in the Galaxy would probably do the Republic some good and kick it out of the rut it likes to call tradition and precedent.
(Kira) As for the military, they are quick to judge people and lump them into categories defined millennia ago at a moment’s glance. They frequently over-react and are prone to seeing things in a worst case scenario way too readily. Anything not part of their nicely organized plans is considered a threat to be dealt with or marginalized.
The led to a furrowed brow and more scribbling.
(Psychologist) And what is your opinion on the use of force to solve problems?
(Kira) There are some people out there *cough* Sith *cough* that are unwilling to listen to reason and for whom it tends to be the most effective solution. Unfortunately, force is rarely contained to the immediate area and others get involved unnecessarily. I much prefer to leave my opponents dazed, confused, and wondering what the hell just happened instead. Done properly, it is possible to remove a problem without anyone ever realizing you did anything.
I detected a slight snort of derision as the psychologist proceeded to scribble several paragraphs worth of material into the datapad. Apparently I wasn’t saying what this group wanted to hear. While that wasn’t surprising, I was curious as to what exactly they were looking for. No way to know that without telepathy or just asking, and I wasn’t about to try either yet. Still, even a rejection and being sent away to be “dealt with” would be informative to say the least.
(Psychologist) Well, you aren’t a perfect match in terms of what we are looking for, but I think we can find a place in our organization to suit you. Welcome to the RDF.
The RDF? Weren’t they the old Republic Special Forces unit? From back before the Republic Senate farmed out the duties of the army to the various members worlds? I think these days the RDF was largely involved in covert ops and various infiltration operations across the galaxy that no one really hears about. Last I recall, they reported to the Senate directly and weren’t really part of the Republic Military chain of command. This was the organization of spies, assassins, and saboteurs that everyone speculated about endlessly.
Interesting, that certainly threw some of their own questions of me into a new light. Especially considering that we had significant evidence that the military were the ones training the other group of Codex users.
I was put into a group of other recruits along with Virstris. I didn’t see Ben or Alys around in this group though. Hesitantly I reached out with the Force and quickly I was able to pick up on Ben’s aura on the other side of the facility. I was quickly able to confirm that he was alright, and he confirmed that Alys was in the same group he was in. With that confirmed, I shut off the link for the time being. There would probably be plenty of time in the future to meet up and compare notes later. I turned my attention back to the training exercises we were being run through at the moment.
Ben, meanwhile, had elected to consult himself in the future via the Early Edition – and had wound up being mostly honest as well. The republic was better (as in less annoying and likely to interfere with him) than any other government he had seen, the military were a bunch of guys that just followed orders and jumped and had problems with anyone that didn’t – and were annoying. The Jedi were cool, but senile and the Sith were worse – and he rather liked superweapons. If you couldn’t capture, subdue, and cure your enemies, a superweapon tended to settle the problem.
He, as Justin Therus – one of Ben’s clones – scored quite well.
He also concluded that these people were EVIL. They PREFERRED that he kill everyone and build superweapons. He took the test while imagining that the entire universe is populated by button obsessed Jacobs. That would get him in with flying colors – even if he HAD been kind of hoping to hide his super-weapon preference. Oh dear! Was he on track to becoming Commander Ben?
Alys was being Narisa Vaughn, a trader specializing in mercenary interests. Her tests said she was a bit soft on Sith and Jedi – they both had their flaws and the Sith might not be QUITE as bad as Republic propaganda suggested. She thought that the Republic government was quite flawed, but didn’t want to bring it down unless it was absolutely necessary. She didn’t really trust the military. She thought that violence should never be the first option, but there were times when it was necessary.
The their purposes, Alys was almost ideal.
Alys wasn’t so sure… Was this Codifier group tied to the droid galaxy? They definitely didn’t approve of Force users, and the only reason they hadn’t cracked down on the Jedi was that the Senate wouldn’t approve it. They might not even let that stop them if things get serious enough. This was BAD.
It quickly became apparent that the group Virstris and I were put in was being training for the basic disposable-shock-troops approach as there was little in the way of how to protect yourself from the techniques backfiring. At first I was finding it hard to conceal just how much I knew compared to what I should know at this point, but keeping an eye on Virstris during the training was doing nicely at cutting down my performance enough to keep from standing out too much. In fact, a number of the instructors saw me stealing glances at her from time to time and chastised me for allowing myself to be distracted by a female instead of focusing on training.
Quickly enough there began to be accidents though. Someone didn’t quite make it through a wall before dropping the phasing technique. Another one vanished in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the area in either case to try to intervene. Virstris nearly fell out of the universe too during one of the shunting training exercises. I felt her start to disconnect from reality entirely and saw that she was starting to panic as she turned translucent. I ended up shoving one of the other trainees out of the way in order to get line of sight on her as I reached out with the Force to her and pulled as hard as I could muster. That snapped her back to corporeality as she fell to the ground shaking hard.
At that point the guy I had shoved to get a look at Virstris appeared behind me looking to make trouble. Turning around to face him, I saw he was nearly ten centimeters taller than me and quite possibly double my weight. He also didn’t look to be happy.
(Man) What the hell do you think you’re doing you little runt?!
(Kira) Sorry, my instinct was to help the lady in distress as she started panicking and you were in my way.
(Man) I’m in your way?! You’re the one spending too much time ogling that damned girl and causing the instructors to focus on chastising you as opposed to training the rest of us properly.
(Kira) I suppose you are entitled to that opinion. Although why you feel I need an excuse to look at pretty women is an interesting question.
(Man) Oh you are going to regret that!
With that he swung at me. It was a simple matter to simply move to the side as his fist swung a couple centimeters from my nose. With him slightly off guard, I tapped lightly into the Codex and rammed my fist into his gut. I hardly put any power into that, but he still hit the ground clutching his stomach. He laid there on the ground groaning and coughing as he tried to regain his breath.
(Kira) Next time, don’t throw a punch at someone that’s been racing speeder bikes for years unless you are going to put a bit more speed into it.
(Instructor) Not bad, you’ve got better mastery of the use of Tempus than I had suspected.
Damn it, I’m standing out too much.
(Instructor) And you are right, this trash should have used the lessons we’ve been teaching him instead of relying on his muscles. I will have to drop him to the soldier classes I think. Maybe there he can be of some use.
This was not a place filled with nice people and the consequences of failure were harsh. I was beginning to have flashbacks to Trayus Academy, but this time I was in Valerie’s position. And it was looking increasingly like Virstris was now in my old position. I resolved to try to spend more time with her filling in the blanks the training was leaving her. It wasn’t going to be easy finding the time given how hard they were pushing us to perform, but I wasn’t about to let her “drop out” as the instructors loved to call it. Hopefully the instructors would take it as me trying to be “helpful” with the pretty woman instead of me showing more knowledge than I should have.
Unfortunately, that idiot the other day was just the beginning. I was quickly attracting attention from the other trainees looking to prove themselves to the instructors and I had just set the bar. Keeping it all nonlethal and yet believable was becoming a delicate balancing act. Fortunately, the story of me having a good intuitive control of Tempus was rapidly gaining ground and allowed me some room to maneuver. Virstris at least was making progress on her control and wasn’t showing any signs of having more accidents. It was after one of the race exercises when I purposefully came in third place that Ben contacted me telepathically as I sat on the sidelines.
<Ben> I need help.
<Kira> What has happened?
<Ben> I may have blown my cover. I know they are beginning to do a thorough background check on me now. Can you get the Jedi to falsify records in their archives for me?
<Kira> You want me to what?!
<Ben> Tell them to falsify their archives with records of my ID. Your range is significantly better than mine and the Jedi Council are some of the best telepaths out there.
<Kira> Alright fine, I’ll try to contact them. Give me the details on your ID again.
And so he recited the details of his ID to me. I did what I could to memorize it all since I very well couldn’t be seen taking notes right now. With that done, I verified that the instructors were still watching the others race to be paying much attention to me. Then I reached out with the Force and tried to reach the Jedi Council. At first I thought I wasn’t going to be able to reach that far, but then I felt a power significantly greater than my own reach out to me.
<Hesta> Yes, young Keldav?
<Kira> Look, I am sorry to be asking this in such a manner, but it seems Ben has gotten himself into a bit of trouble. He would like for you to modify his records to show a fake ID of his to be valid.
<Hesta> An unusual request, and not one we would agree to lightly. Very well, I shall make the appropriate arrangements, but I am going to expect explanations at the next opportunity.
<Kira> Thank you, I promise to explain the next chance I get. The details on the ID are as follows….
And so I recited as much as I could of what Ben had told me. I proceeded to lay back on the grass and pretend to be taking a nap during this. That way no one should be able to tell that I was telepathically in contact with someone with me just staring into empty space. Soon enough I recited everything I was able to recall.
<Hesta> And is there anything else you require?
<Kira> Yeah, I’m am not sure how to explain this or even if I should be saying this right now, but keep an eye on your Chief of Security.
<Hesta> Well, he is a recruit we picked up from the Republic Military and as such we tend to watch them a bit. The ones we get from the military are usually a bit too paranoid and have lingering loyalties to the military. Power-wise they haven’t been historically very strong either. They do tend to work well at catching potential problems within our ranks though.
<Kira> As I promised, I’ll explain later, but don’t trust everything he tells you.
<Hesta> Very well young one, we shall keep an eye on him.
With that I broke the link and returned to the local events. I sat up and pretended to stretch a bit after laying down for so long. No one seemed to have noticed my efforts that I could see. With that I returned to the next round of training exercises they were running us through.
The longer I spent with the instructors, the more obvious the prejudice against Force users was getting. The general hostility to the Sith was understandable, but the disgust with the Jedi was a bit of a shock. Usually I hear people express disdain and calls for greater regulation of the Jedi, but these people actually seemed to be of the opinion that exterminating all the Force users was a valid policy for the Republic to pursue. Their opinion of the military wasn’t a whole lot better since they felt the military was listening to the Jedi way too much.
This was beginning to look like the essence of the split between the Codifiers and the Faded. The Codifiers were from the Jedi Liaison Authority or JLA, which doubled as a pool of Special Forces and a fast-track for Naval Officers. The Faded in the meantime were looking like they were from the Republic Defense Force, a Senate funded intelligence and covert ops organization rooted in the original Republic Army. It also appeared that the RDF was the bunch with a bunch of Infinite Empire weaponry stashed away and looked to be crazy enough to use it if given an excuse.
On the whole, it looked like it was the JLA that had taken my family and friends into custody. The simple fact that it was Jedi or supposed Jedi who took them more or less proved that. As to whether or not they still had them, or if it was this bunch I had to rely on the Jedi pronouncement that they were all still alive. I had my doubts that the RDF would keep “hostages” instead of using brute force against me, and that my family would have survived this training very long if they proved talented. Besides, it was the Codifiers that had placed such importance on families, and the JLA was looking like a close analogue compared to these nuts. So the circumstantial evidence was pointing to the JLA on this matter.
That still didn’t mean that these guys weren’t worth investigating and learning as much about them I as I could. Crazed nutjobs with functional superweapons just looking for an excuse to use them was not something I liked having in my Galaxy. I don’t like relying on the inertia of the Senate to keep the Galaxy from being destroyed. And it was still possible that my family was with this group and not the JLA like I thought.
Alys did manage to catch me in the cafeteria one day though. She quietly explained what she had learned about the bunch she had been interacting with. That more or less lined up with what Virstris and I had picked up. Unlike Virstris and I though, she had managed to pick up some details regarding Hybrids. That this bunch found Hybrids valuable yet never trusted them was hardly surprising given the sheer animosity I’ve seen. What was surprising was the observation that it was felt that Hybrids could go crazy in their own unique way.
Evidence to back this assertion up were: disappearances for periods of time, a massive upgrade in power, doing strange things, multiple personality disorder, enhanced toughness and strength, and strong resistance to telepathic probing. At first I thought this was a recital of the issues they had with me, but then Alys mentioned that this was apparently a description of a Hybrid from three millennia ago.
That was shocking. Most all of those made sense in my case due to a combination of my Bond with Valerie and our traveling the multiverse. I was strong and tough because Valerie had trained for years to become so. She was also the source of my massive upgrade in power. I disappeared for long periods of time into other timelines, swapped with an alternate with a slightly different personality from my own, I was certainly doing strange things with the knowledge at my disposal, and being a Codex user made me resistant to telepathic probing by default. Yet half of those shouldn’t have really applied to a Hybrid millennia ago. Specifically the ones that involved my Bond with Valerie.
Perhaps the really odd or powerful Hybrids are the ones that are Bonded? I suppose that was possible, but it was hard to establish a baseline when the only Hybrids I have much experience with are Valerie, our alternates, and Ben. It wasn’t like I knew much of anything about the Jedi Chief of Security and his life as a Hybrid.
Besides, it’s almost like this bunch hasn’t really figured out what is going on with the structure of the multiverse and what the Codex and Force really do. In some ways it was like the Censor was affecting them, but that should be more or less impossible for a Codex user. What could be deleting the relevant memories from all these people like this then if it wasn’t the Censor? Could it really be self-inflicted memory erasure? Perhaps this training regimen is subtly trimming the minds of all these recruits with the practically religious nonsense? These nuts were calling the Codex “Providence” after all. Best to warn Virstris, Alys, and Ben about possible memory erasure issues then.
Perhaps I need to just confront the JLA at the next opportunity and start demanding explanations. I can’t imagine they are entirely clear on what is going on out here on the Rim, or that they would condone it if they knew. Plus there was a part of me wondering if the assault on the Jedi Temple was an attempt to build a Casus Belli for a war of extermination against the Jedi. Jarik certainly knew where to find that Infinite Empire base without a lot of guidance while fleeing me. And the JLA had been in the basement of the Temple itself when that whole fiasco broke out. I think the Jedi, the JLA, and I need to have an open and frank discussion in the near future. In the meantime, I need to get as much information out of this group as possible without blowing my cover or letting Virstris “drop out”.
Besides, I really have my doubts this group is going to just let me walk away from here once I am done.
Jacob, meanwhile, was threatening to teleport Coruscant into another galaxy unless it submitted to Kira the Invincible. Fortunately, the military was pretty sure that he did not have the Mrs Beasley with him in the tunnels of Coruscant. Still, the manhunt was massive.
The military questioned Lazlo about him too, but he really didn’t have that much to add.
- 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 66b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)