Aberrant to Trinity – Magnus Varr

BSI 3x3

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And here, for Aberrant and Trinity, we have Magnus Varr – an Olympian Undercover Agent. As befits someone extensively augmented by Nova technologies, he’s extremely powerful compared to a normal human, and quite powerful compared to your basic psion – but he’s no match for a high-powered Aberrant or Nova, while a psion is far more flexible – and may well outgrow him in the end; gadgets generally don’t improve with experience.

Origin: Magnus was eight years old when Prometheus led the exodus from earth – and grew up exploring the frontiers of a new world – and needed the services of search-and-rescue several times. Like every other kid on New Olympus he started anagathic treatments to slow his aging at eighteen. He, however, signed up for his mandatory six-year term in the security services right away instead of waiting for a bit.

Given his existing aptitudes and experiences, he easily obtained an assignment doing search-and-rescue himself – and quite enjoyed it. When his term was up, he opted to re-enlist, and continue his work as a career non-commissioned officer.

When the rise of the Psions and return of the Aberrants called for an increased presence on Earth, he volunteered for the assignment, underwent additional training and augmentation, and went in under cover as a mercenary and bodyguard. Now 30’ish and prematurely greying, he’s one of nature’s born sergeants.

In the original game, a new Psion character, nervous about an “educational caravan” trip into the badlands, hired Magnus as a bodyguard. After the trip was over, that psion was assigned “on loan” to another psion order for a special investigation, and towed Magnus along.

Thanks to some confusion in the paperwork, it was quite some time before that order realized that Magnus wasn’t a psion and didn’t work for them.

Nature: Critic (Most of the time), Leader (Combat situations). From a world of Nova’s, he’s used to deferring to expertise.

Allegiance: The Knights Of Olympus and Humanity at Large. He is currently infiltrating Orgotek.

Attributes (7/5/3):

  • Str ** (7), Per **+, App *, Willpower ***** **
  • Dex ***++, Int **+, Man **+, Psi xxxxx **
  • Sta *****, Wit ****, Cha ***+, Initiative 10

Qualities: Str; Athletic, Dex; Coordinated, Sta; Resilient, Wit; Level-Headed, and Cha; Commanding.

Abilities (23): Athletics***+, Brawl ****+, Command ****+, Firearms ****+, Medicine **+, Melee ****+, Might **+, Resistance **+, and Stealth **+.

Movement 5/17/35

Bonus Points (15): +7 Backgrounds (7), +2 Willpower (4), Specialities; Brawl/Commando Training, Melee/Bo-jutsu, and Firearms/Multiple Fire (3), Ambidextrous (No offhand penalty, +1D for 2-hand attacks, 1), Combat Reflexes (Roll 2D for initiative and select result, 2), +1 Ability (2), Olympus Operative (QV, -3), Intensive Training (Base skills max at 4, 2), Latent Psion (Character has no active psionic modes. Even if his potential is somehow triggered later he will have to be trained and/or buy them starting from zero. Thanks to his devices (QV) this is especially unlikely in his case, -4), and +1 Initiative (1).

Backgrounds (7) : Resources 3 (5 for obtaining gear only, 4), Device(s) 6 (four L5 devices; see device packages below, 6), Allies 1 (Paladin; Olympus Agent Director; very powerful, but virtually never available undercover, 1), Citizenship 2 (the Federated States of America, the United African Nations, and India, 2), Contacts 1 (mercenaries and weapons suppliers, 1)

Device Packages:

  • 1x L5 : Nanite Augmentation.
  • 1x L5 as 4x L4: Implanted Computer, “Skillwires”, Bell Theorem Inseparability Link, and Chemical Synthesizer.
  • 1x L5 as; 3x L4 (ECM Cloak, Endocrine Adjustment* and an Earth Identity), 3x L3 (Archimedes, Phermonal Enhancement, Psiscreen*), 3x L2 (Smartgun Link, Retinal Enhancement, Linecaster), and 4x L1 (Internal Medical Sensors, Hypnotic Shield, Longevity Treatment*, and Faraday Shielding).
  • 1x L5: Reserved for GM whimsy, unknown implants, probably some sort of suicide/memory-wipe security implant, or whatever item(s) the GM feels like adding.

Device V : Nanite Augmentation

  • While roughly equivalent to a “standard” hardtech VARG (Device III) this network of smart microtronic fibers, subcellular nanite organelles, and force field-based microdevices, integrates itself into the user’s body – making it’s bonuses more-or-less inherent. Of course, any “display” of these capabilities would be virtually impossible to explain, so he attempts to avoid it at all costs…
  • Statistics: Str +3 (6), Soak +2/+4 (6), HTH Str+2L or Str+4B when unarmed, Run/Jump/Etc x5, 48 Hr Life Support, Sensors 4 (IR/ UV/Low-Light/Flare Compensation, Life-Sign [Mainly used to locate pre-eruption Novas, Aberrent intrusions, and people in the area], Radiation and Tactical [Energy sources and objects in the immediate area. Makes him hard to blindside]. Unlike a standard VARG, there is no radar system), Plasma Cannon (8 Shots available, recharge 1 per hour, 10D+10 Damage, use Firearms to attack, LOS range. Not a subtle effect, primarily for emergency anti-aberrent use), GPS, and Communications (A a radio link).

Yes, that does make him a light-duty walking tank. Now, this sort of gear is available to other characters – and more cheaply – but he’s paying extra to be able to hide it and “wear it” all the time. Of course, if he ever has to really rely on those enhancements, and reveals anything close to their true extent, he’s probably blown his cover.

Other Devices:

  • Archimedes; Archimedes is a standard Olympian Computer Agent. Performance 7. Applications; Computers 4, Mathematics 3, Espionage 4, Tactics 4, Law 2, Culture 2, Current Events 1, Linguistics 2, Electronics 3, Research 2, Quick Search 2, Medicine 4, and Mechanics 3.
  • Bell Theorem Inseparability Link (to the Aegis Network); Two objects, once linked, remain permanently linked by quantum wave functions. Sadly, using this link for the instantaneous transmission of data requires some way to control quantum events – such as Nova powers or devices or quantakinesis. Basically this is an undetectable and instantaneous link into the Aegis Network on Olympus. Indirectly it can also be used to link back into the OpNet – or to allow an Olympus-based hacker to get into a system Magnus has physically accessed.
  • Chemical Synthesizer; This is usually run by Archimedes, using it’s medical and chemical database. It can dispense chemicals into the user’s bloodstream or through pressure-injector channels under the fingernails, and can also analyze chemicals drawn from those locations (allowing it to dispense antidotes and such). Quantities are, of course, very limited, but the required amounts for drugs, toxins, and assorted other biochemicals are very small. “Common” applications include; personal medical treatment, painkillers (Negate wound penalties), stimulants (Either long-term [but low grade] or briefly boost Str [+2], Sta [+1], and Actions [Extra action at 1/2 initiative without splitting dice pools] for [Successes] turns. This causes a major strain on the user’s body; 1D bashing damage against Stamina soak ONLY per prior use in previous 24 hours when coming down), and many other tricks. QV; “Resistance”.
  • Earth Identity; Magnus has a through set of false/coopted records. There are some blank spots – but that’s not uncommon, and there are no “real” records to uncover. This is NOT the same as the “cipher” background; it’s fairly easy to get his official biography. It’s just that the early section never really happened.
  • ECM Cloak; This is basically equivalent to the electronic warfare suite of the “Spirit Warrior” / Kami-Hei-Bushi VARG. It provides “+3” difficulty versus instrumental detection and targeting and +2 dificulty versus EM disruption. While this is normally only relevant on battlefields, it can be used to simply interfere with evesdropping, bugging, and so on, if you want to have a private conversation.
  • Endocrine Adjustment*; This bioapp adjusts the user’s body and metabolism for optimum operation. Unformatted it provides a “+1” boost to any two physical attributes. Formatted it provides a +2 boost to two physical attributes and a +1 boost to two mental ones. In either case, the maximum limit is 5. Mass -, Tolerance */***.
  • Faraday Shielding; This is actually just a note. His “armor” protects him against electrical/EMP and external/internal thermal effects, as well as against direct physical injuries.
  • Fighting Staff; A collapsible metal staff. It extends, collapses, or extends a naginata blade, as triggered by the weilder. Str+7D B as a staff, Str+5D10 L with blade extended. Magnus generally prefers to stick with knocking people out as opposed to killing anyone.
  • Hypnotic Shield; These cultivated neural patches provide +2 difficulty on any and all attempts – including interrogation, mental probes, and drugs – to get information out of him.
  • Implant Computer; Standard functions plus; neural interface, a sensory-feed/pickup display/input system, 500 B storage, a cellular uplink/wireless interface, a fiberobtic probe/datalink and various internal sensors. High resources provide a +1 rating bonus to any Agent used on the system. The interface may, at least in theory, confuse telepaths and electrokinetics – but it’s never been tested.
  • Internal Medical Sensors; These monitor his health, including checking for diseases, drugs and toxins, and gross physical damage.
  • Linecaster; Spins a monofilament line from fast polymers, with a reaction pressure that can hurl the resulting line fifty meters. Due to incomplete boundary polymerization the resulting line is “sticky” for several seconds afterwards. The line can support up to 250 kilograms, and is often used to tie things together, swing across gaps, climb walls, snatch things (using the rewinder), or to tie people up.
  • Longevity Treatment; This is a standard medical benefit for citizens of New Olympus and drastically reduces the aging rate. Sadly, in game terms, this really has no relevant game effectsl few RPG’s go on long enough for the characters to age very much.
  • Pheromonal Enhancement*; Actually more of a confidence building placebo, this does provide a notable improvement in your “social” attributes (+1 to Manipulation and Charisma). Mass -, Tolerance *.
  • Psiscreen*; This subdermal fiber network simply has it’s own – clashing – neotic “signature”. This makes it hard for more subtle psionic applications to “focus” on the user (+3 Difficulty versus Telepathy and Clairvoyance. “Throwing” one of your own Psi points into the network generates a short-term (2D10 turns) burst of psi “noise” in a five meter radius; +6 difficulty vrs Telepathy/Clairvoyance, +3 vrs any other “projected” effects). Tolerance 0, obviously can not be attuned. Can be used defensively without an action at any time.
  • Retinal Enhancement; Extended visual spectrum and sensetivity, with overload cutoffs. Provides IR/UV/Light Amplification and Flash Protection functions. (Yes, this does overlap with his VARG bonuses. He had this particular enhancement long before he qualified for that one).
  • Skillwires; Provides a +2D bonus on unskilled activities and +1D on those in which the user is a novice. There is no bonus if the user is practiced or better. This expert “instruction” does make it easier to develop abilities – the first dot “purchased” grants the user “practiced” status. While these benefits only apply if and when an appropriate skill program is available, these aren’t hard to come by.
  • Smartgun Link; Basically an Electronic Combat Sight (QV). +4D for visual perception and firearm rolls.
  • Warp Anchor; Acts as a focus for the “Warp” power, drastically reducing the strain, difficulty, and energy-signature, of opening a warp to the user’s location for Nova’s who are properly attuned to the device… The radius of detection is reduced to 50/1 KM in space/planetary environments.

“Cyberware” has advantages; it has no encumberance (+1 “device point”), is concealed (+1), and is mentally controlled (Thru some form of neural connection, not a neotic link. +1). Disadvantages include making it harder (+2 difficulty) for physicians and vita- kinetics to treat you unless they have details on the items (-1), reducing your psionic strength (a -2 penalty on Psi points, -1) and is both difficult to explain and socially unacceptable (No direct game effect but potentially bothersome). It also tends to disrupt any attempt to undergo the “Prometheus Process” (the name is unrelated to the Professor). Overall a cybersystem costs one more device point then a similar external item.

As nanoware systems, Magnus’s cyberware is self-repairing, has a fail-safe rating of 9, and is moderately difficult to detect by anything short of a full exam.

In the original game, Magnus was more-or-less destined for martyrdom. Given his personality and the escalating Aberrant attacks against Earth, he was almost certainly going to die pulling the “lone guardian at the gate” or “valiant rear guard fights to the last” sort of shtick – and his sacrifice would hopefully help unite the Psions of Earth and the Novas of New Olympus against the various threats to humanity of the Trinity universe.

Until then, of course, he wanted to keep almost all of his enhancements secret while spying on the psion orders – which sometimes made his life quite awkward.

Aberrant to Trinity: Professor Prometheus and New Olympus

English: "Prometheus Bound", part of...

 

There’s a major problem with a lot of settings. They feature super-intelligent geniuses, people with inhuman scientific skills, psychologists with near-total understanding of the human mind, incredible artificial intelligences, and often even the ability to entirely rebuild the human brain – and yet the vast majority of the organizations and groups in such settings are following plans of action that would not get past your average six year old. No one seems to have read the Evil Overlord List. Even those few planners in the setting who show some trace of competence never do anything really subtle or clever.

There’s a reason for that of course. Neither the writers (or, in RPG settings, the game masters or players) have superhuman intellects to start with. More insidiously, the writers don’t want to make their audience feel stupid or lost – and so (unlike the situation in many mystery stories) they make their plots simple and blatantly obvious. In a few settings – mostly those where the PC’s are supposed to be the unquestioned stars and plot-drivers – this gets taken to the point of insanity; and every NPC plan is made so idiotic (and doomed to failure) that anything the players come up with short of “I hammer nails into my eyes!” is bound to be better.

That does accomplish what it’s supposed to, but it makes most of the background materials for such settings pretty unbelievable when you sit down and think about them – and it tends to get worse with every adventure and expansion.

Ergo, here we have a character for White Wolf’s Aberrant system – and a background element and organization for Trinity games – who isn’t quite so incompetent. I can’t claim that the Professor’s plans and responses are really up to what his superhuman intellect would justify – but at least they’re reasonably sensible.

Aberrant – Professor Prometheus, Leader Of The Olympians

To Dr. Edari the conclusion was as obvious as it was sad; human society as it was could not possibly withstand the pressures that vast disparities of personal power would introduce. It had enough trouble dealing with normal human beings… It might be that something stable would arise – possibly driven by the same Nova’s that were driving the existing social order towards total collapse – but despite sleepless nights spent on the problem, he could say little about what form that collapse might take, and nothing about what might come after it. Neither psychology nor sociology was an exact science.

One day, when he awoke, he found that suddenly things were a lot clearer.

It was all too obvious that he had joined the ranks of the Nova’s – his incredibly expanded intellect left him with few illusions about himself – but he now saw the more inevitable portions of the future clearly – at least in broad outline.

The seeds of conflict had already been sown. It was already too late to prevent a major social breakdown. Power in the hands of madmen would almost inevitably lead to war. Some major stroke of fortune might prevent that – but such good fortune was wildly unlikely.

Still… Some of the damage could still be mitigated. Many of the wonders of the Nova Age could be preserved out in the galaxy, if not on Earth. Guardians could be set up, and a refuge could be prepared.

He set out to arrange it.

Professor Prometheus

Attributes (7/5/3) :

  • Strength 2, Perception 5, Appearance 2
  • Dexterity 6, Intelligence 10, Manipulation 5
  • Stamina 6, Wits 5, Charisma 2

Qualities: Dex; Coordinated, Sta; Resilient, Per; Observant, Int; Inventive, Wit; Creative, and Cha; Eloquent.

Special Attributes (Starting Quantum 1, Will 3) :

  • Quantum 7, Quantum Pool 34
  • Taint 4 (Silver Eyes), Will 5,
  • Lethal Soak 8, Bashing Soak 12

Abilities (23): Academics 5, Bureaucracy 5, Command 5, Computer 5, Drive 1, Endurance (3), Engineering 5, Firearms 5, Intrusion 5, Legerdemain 5, Melee 2, Pilot 1, Medicine 5, Resistance (3), Science 5, Investigation 5.

Backgrounds (7): Resources 5, Contacts 1 (Component Suppliers), and Backing 1 (College Professor with Tenure).

Bonus Points (22): Quantum +3 (21) and Speciality/Gadgeteering (1).

Quantum Points (30): Mega-Intelligence (5) (Mental Prodigy/Engineering, 15), Enhanced Attributes (+12 Points, 4), Enhanced Background (Eufiber, 5) (1), Enhanced Abilities +36 Points (5), Quantum +1 (Tainted, 3), Willpower +1 (1).

Experience Expenditures (36): Mega-Stamina 1 (Adaptability) (6), Mega-Dexterity 1 (Fast Tasks/Hyperspeed Gadgeteering, roll 1/hour instead of 1/day. Not usable for other purposes) (6), Extra Enhancements: Mental Prodigy; Medical and Scientific, Hyper-Deduction, and Stamina/Regeneration (20), Node 2 (4), and Willpower +1 (4).

Disadvantages (-7): Cannot buy quantum powers other then mega-attributes. Must create gadgets instead. -7

Automatic Development (To Trinity Aberrent Baseline): Quantum +2 (No Cost).

If you want to use the Professor, add additional abilities as seems appropriate; this is a bare-bones framework. He will usually be equipped with a variety of powerful defensive, offensive, and utility, devices.

Trinity and New Olympus

Doctor Edari – better known now as Professor Prometheus – had, as always, been right… The Aberrent attacks had been the final blow to a tolerance already stressed by cults, fantastic (and sometimes unreliable) technologies, and the excesses of the odder Novas. A new dark age was coming. It would be at least a century before the hatred of the Aberrent’s would wane – and all Nova’s would be included in that hatred. In the interim, 99.9% or more of the Nova-created technologies and advances would be lost as well, destroyed by the fearful.

If he and the rest of the benign Nova’s remained on Earth, the wars would not stop until mankind had regressed to the pre-industrial era.

It was time to leave.

His friends and allies were ready. The warp-gate was ready, the extra-solar base was ready, and the terraforming of their new world was almost complete. They would found a better world – and maintain a watch over the Earth.

There had been casualties amongst the Nippontai, Nordlysene, Team Australis, Team Tomorrow, and the other “superhero” groups – but most of the “quieter” researchers and non-combative Nova’s had survived by withdrawing to the lunar colonies. The final exodus from the solar system included nearly 150 Novas and 200,000 normal humans who had accepted the Professor’s vision.

On H97-X3 – now christened “New Olympus” – the colonists thrived. Thanks to the application of Nova technology to medicine, the original colonists are still (some sixty years later) alive, healthy, and producing the occasional child – having “aged” less than fifteen years – and the current population is approaching ten million.

While few “spontaneous” Novas have erupted, there are quite a few second generation – and some third generation – Novas around, as well as a few “Induced” Novas. Induced Nova’s are fairly rare however; only the most extensively-tested and reliable humans are even considered for the process. Psionics are known and understood as well (thanks to that super-enhanced intelligence some Nova’s have again), but are even rarer then quantum powers.

New Olympus has had agents on Earth (sometimes fancifully known as the “Knights of Olympus”) since before the Exodus. For good or ill, Nova’s had generally been far too well known to work undercover – so the first agents were simply trained human types with some equipment. Later on, New Olympus started providing their agents with technological enhancements or “cyberware”. A few of the quieter second-generation Nova’s – and even a Psiad or two – are available to back up the augmented human agents, but the rise of the Psion Orders have drastically limited their activities.

General Orders for Olympian agents operating in the solar system include;

  • Locate and evacuate new Nova’s, preferably before eruption.
  • Organize and assist in the defense against Aberrant attacks.
  • Obtain information on the goals and activities of the Psion Orders, Governments, Aliens, and almost anything else.
  • Subtly encourage the acceptance of Nova’s (and counteract the prevalent anti-aberrent propaganda/hysteria when possible).
  • Be one of the “Good Guys”. Assist and protect the “normal” population where feasible.
  • Recruit psions and other allies.
  • Maintain security. It is not yet time for formal contact.

Agents do get one special benefit; they may take the “device” background at up to level six – representing a set of level five gadgets since there are no level six items and have an easy explanation for where they came from. Being an Olympian Agent is still a “-3” disadvantage though; all those orders can be quite a pain sometimes.

“Cyberware” has advantages; it has no encumbrance (+1 “device point”), is concealed (+1), and is mentally controlled (via a neural connection, not via a neotic link. +1). It’s disadvantages include making it harder (+2 difficulty) for physicians and vita- kinetics to treat the user unless they have details on the items (-1), reducing the user’s psionic strength (a -2 penalty on Psi points, -1) and being both difficult to explain and socially unacceptable (no direct game effect but potentially bothersome). It also tends to disrupt any attempt to undergo the “Prometheus Process” (no relation). Overall a cybersystem costs one more device point then a similar external item.

Some specific devices commonly issued to agents will be included with the next post in this series – an agent character.

Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 78a

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope color image of C...

Move over and let me drive! Look where the planet is now!

Up in orbit, Ben’s plan had not gone as hoped; the police had indeed responded to his request that they board his ship and arrest the Sith who’d hijacked it (and him!) – but his young Sith had left some minions to keep an eye out, and sneaking up on an orbiting ship was not easy.

They’d tried a tractor beam, but Ben’s ship had massive power reserves and very powerful drives; It was currently heading for the asteroid belt at nearly 80% of the speed of light with the police cruiser straining to keep up – despite the tractor beam. About the only good point was that the ship couldn’t jump to hyperspace while the tractor beam was on it…

They’d swiftly passed the maximum range of Ben’s reploid setup though; he didn’t have the massive hyperfields of the final empire to piggyback on.

That left him and his young Sith charge awakening to… a near-overloaded power plant, heated drives, straining shields, a ship under fire from the police cruiser’s ion cannons, a crew of droids, mercenaries, and a few other youngsters, and an asteroid belt less than two minutes away and them moving too fast to get a clean miss. Jumping to hyperspace would avoid the asteroids – but they couldn’t do that with that damned tractor beam on them!

Drat it! He should have known the local cops would hang on like grim death! To them, “Sith” + “Ben Therus” + “Near Alderaan” equaled “Potential Superweapon Attack!”.

Worse, the kid had gotten out a minute or two before he had – and was preparing to use his precognition to try and pick a path that would take them safely through the asteroid belt at near lightspeed. After all, he knew that “Other Sith” could do that (at least on the holos) and “therefore” he should be able to do it too! Besides, he couldn’t foresee any disastrous consequences from making the attempt!

Bens quick estimate of the odds of success on such a maneuver – given what he’d seen of the kids shaky grasp of his powers extent and limitations – suggested that the only reason why the kid didn’t foresee a resulting fiery explosive death was because HE was likely to do something!

He couldn’t get to hyperspace, fiery death was waiting in normalspace…

In the chaos, Ben hastily sidled towards the subspace drive – grabbing his personal thawing system and his clothes – with their powered thermal liner – off the rack along the way. If he crosswired the thawing signal to his own personal system, he could jump the ship to (probable) safety and still leave all these maniacs frozen!

It took some frantic rewiring – but with the “crew” manning the shields, lamenting the lack of guns, and trying to “assist” the kid with his “piloting trance”, some hasty excuses covered the few queries about what he was doing fooling with some obscure bit of apparatus.

He jumped with seconds to spare…

That left him… well outside the elliptic, about four light-hours from the local sun, aboard a ship that was barely above absolute zero, with a frozen toe (he’d been standing a bit wrong in the rush), and… still in something of a mess. Most of the ships systems wouldn’t work at such low temperatures, he was rapidly freezing to death as his body heat drained into the smog of supercooled (and slowly crystalizing) gases that had been the ship’s atmosphere – and if he reheated the ship so that things would work again, he’d once again have a Sith crew – and he’d flashboil himself unless he got outside the ship first!

Wait a moment… Getting outside the ship wasn’t a bad idea at all!

Ben hastily grapped a hypercom unit, warmed it to operating temperatures with his lightsaber hat, and got outside into the welcome insulation of space where he could call for help before he froze to death.

The military were by to collect him and his ship shortly thereafter

Meanwhile, back on Alderaan, Alys had been relaying the situation – including the use of Rakata weaponry – to Vi, and Vi had been explaining what kind of weaponry they were up against to the military… Fortunately, the military knew the JLA as a specialist command group that dealt with the Sith – even if a good many of their methods were pretty mysterious. Since there was a “Sith” problem in the city, the advice of a JLA command officer was well worth listening to.

The local commander had ordered the fighters out for an immediate stun-strafing of the city streets. There might be a few really big weapons down there – but it sounded like their operators were relatively unprotected. It was a rough way to restore order – but better a massive stun-headache than blown to bits by some maniac with a ridiculously powerful hand weapon.

Back on the surface, Alys picked up that order – and ducked under cover. The theater was handy since she’d been headed back there anyways – and, like every sizeable public building on Alderaan, it had it’s own internal riot-control and safety fields. Hm… With the power back on, she could probably control some of those…

And back with Kira…

I had just finished asking Alys to send a pickup for these Rakata I had incapacitated when suddenly I got the impression of incoming fire. Turning around to look behind me, I unfortunately got confirmation of that feeling in the form of two fighters coming in to do a strafing run on me and everything else in the area. Ben’s reploid along with that teenage Sith’s had both gone limp and fallen to the ground around that same time. Well, no point in saving soulless and brainless clones, but I really didn’t want the Republic fighters to accidently eliminate the Rakata in stasis or frozen. That meant dodging and taking the Rakata with me.

Damn it all.

Picking up a Rakata in each hand, I ran the ten meters to the edge of the city and leapt over the side. With the local explosions, the fall arresting shields were inoperable which neatly allowed me to dive straight into the river thirty meters below me. While it wasn’t the most graceful dive in history, it still got me out of the line of fire of those fighters doing their strafing run above me. As I put on my breath mask, I took stock of the situation. The river itself was still roiling from the holes blown in it earlier in the battle, and it took some effort to avoid the suction trying to pull me into the sinking mud, silt, and debris. I didn’t bother attempting to counter for the current slowly moving downstream for the time being though. Perhaps I would worry about it once I got to the point I was likely to drift pass the entire city, but not now.

It was with some annoyance that I impacted another shield system twenty meters downstream.

That system promptly scooped me and the two Rakata out of the water and then began making noises about calling medical droids to come check on me. Attempts to brush off the system resulted in the computer notifying me of a five credit fine for disobeying the “no swimming” signs and diving into the river. It then notified me that this was my first recorded offense as an adult and that I needed to think hard about the path my life if I was so willing to casually disregard the rules of society.

I really wanted to ram my fist into the computer for having the audacity to lecture me about a five credit fine.

At that point a team of medical droids arrived and started fussing over the two Rakata. Announcing that the one was “cryogenically” frozen while the other was in a metabolic stasis only increased the fuss as the droids then tried to shove both me and the Rakata into an ambulance to the hospital. Presuming that the fighting was already largely over except for the Republic military doing cleanup, I decided that it was less of a hassle to go along with the droids than to stand here arguing until the police and military arrived. This resulted in me being deposited at the hospital only minutes later with more droids and doctors fussing over me and the Rakata. I was busily trying to explain what was going on with the Rakata when another droid suddenly blocked my path.

(Droid) Sir, I am afraid I must insist that you disarm yourself immediately. This is a place of healing and we cannot have you taking those weapons into the hospital with you.

(Kira) Oh, for the love of…, I have a waiver from the military and the Jedi Council itself!

(Droid) I don’t care if the Supreme Chancellor himself gave you permission. You may not enter until you disarm.

(Kira) Ok fine.

At which point I began laying out my weapons on the table the droid had indicated. First there were the two Rakata weapons I had removed the power cells from, my own rifle, pistol, lightsabers, flamethrower, variable stars, subspace lance, glass packets, smoke pellets, explosive gel, glue spray, and bracer shields. The droid looked at the pile and somehow managed to give a look of incredible annoyance on that plastic face it had.

(Droid) Is that all?! Are you sure you don’t have plastic knives or something?

(Kira) Whoops, forgot those.

(Droid) Oh please don’t tell me you have monofilament wire in your hair, explosive fillings, razors hidden in your fingernails, or any other highly impractical weapons hidden about yourself?!

(Kira) Oh, I forgot the monofilament line in the bracer, let me take that off.

I could practically see the smoke come out of the side of it’s head.

(Droid) Anything else?!

(Kira) Well, I am fairly sure that I could use my boot as a lethal weapon just by hitting someone hard enough with it.

(Droid) This is nearly eighty kilograms worth of weaponry you are carrying! Don’t you think that is a little paranoid to say the least?! I don’t think the Jedi Council had this in mind when they gave you a waiver!

(Kira) Eighty kilograms, you’re exaggerating! I hardly felt that weight!

(Droid) You can see the scale readout here. It was calibrated this morning. See, if I add this ten kilogram weight, the scale output goes up an additional ten kilograms.

I found myself staring at the weight readout and the pile of weapons for a moment. I never really noticed just how much weight I had been carrying this whole time. I had just been adding the occasional item from time to time as I ran across something new. A number of those items had largely become obsolete given how my powers had developed too. Maybe it was time to reconsider consolidating things a bit. I know Valerie had been on my case about how much I was carrying these days.

The droid did another search of my person again for any other weapons but finally decided I was disarmed. I made sure it knew to keep my stuff safe in the meantime as I continued into the hospital to try and keep the doctors from reviving two Rakata without having any clue what they were getting into. I was busily trying to explain stasis belts to the doctors and droids when my commlink chirped.

It was about at that time that Alys realized that the RDF commanders had located Kira again – and were getting an assault using “top-level” weaponry organized.

While he was in a HOSPITAL? And disarmed?1? She passed THAT on to the military right away – and the local commander ordered Kira pulled out NOW.

(Kira) Yes?

(Alys) Kira, Republic soldiers are on their way to pick you up and evacuate you.

(Kira) What? I’m fine, I don’t need to be evacuated.

BOOM

At which point the wall beside me was blown out and soldiers started pouring through. The doctors’ attempts to protest were quickly silenced as the soldiers brandished their weapons in an effort to show they meant business. I got the impression that these guys were in an immense hurry.

(Soldier) Target acquired, beginning evacuation.

(Kira) I’m fine. No need to worry yourself with me.

(Soldier) Sorry sir, but I have orders. It looks like the enemy is bringing serious weaponry to get you and we can’t have a firefight in a hospital.

(Kira) Alright, but can I at least get my weapons first?

(Soldier) No time, but I will have another team retrieve them for you while we get you out.

At which point they practically pushed me out of the hospital and into an assault shuttle. We took off immediately – although they’d never actually touched down – and I found a corner to sit in while trying to look mildly annoyed. I could hear the soldiers arguing about who the enemy was and why they were targeting me, but the Censor made trying to explain anything but the simplest overview difficult at best. Finally I just resigned myself to sitting back and letting things take care of themselves. If they wanted to get panicky over a few RDF soldiers still running loose, more power to them. Besides, it looked like the RDF command staff had gone into hiding for the time being.

At which point I got the sudden precognitive warning that something very bad was about to happen to the shuttle and everyone in it. There wasn’t going to be time to do any careful thinking about whatever this threat was, but I could only think of one thing that might threaten a military shuttle of this class that quickly. Reaching out with the Force and the Codex, I grabbed a hold of the shuttle and everyone in it as I accelerated our timerate. Between the cries of shock from the soldiers and the fact that I could feel the deviation in our timerate and the planet’s, I could tell that the technique had been successful. I yelled at the pilot to take us aboard the command ship as we were about to be fired at with some serious weaponry. The pilot complied without questioning and took us into the open shuttle bay of the command ship hovering above the city.

From Alys’s point of view, the shuttle suddenly burst into a ball of fire, there was an explosive boom and a streak of flame across the sky – and the shuttle vanished utterly.

Blast it! Kira had better have teleported or shifted or something! If he’d gotten himself killed, she’d never forgive him!

The pilot started complaining once the shuttle started melting through the floor of the shuttle bay once we landed, but I ended the technique at that point and ignored the matter for the moment. At least a major capital ship’s shields should be able to handle Rakata rifles for quite some time, the RDF would be fools to engage a warship in an artillery duel anyway.

THWOOOOOOOOM

With the sound of a major impact on the shields, the ship lurged significantly. I nearly fell off my feet as I couldn’t see the lurch coming through precognition. The soldiers were visibly upset as they tried to get back to their feet.

(Soldier) Why couldn’t you be bait somewhere no one cares about, like Tatooine?!

(Kira) No one is looking for me on Tatooine! It’s hard to act as bait when no one knows where you are!

(Soldier) We could put out rumors and have paparazzi dedicated to just following you around!

(Kira) Do you realize just how many bounty hunters are on Tatooine?!

(Soldier) At least then you wouldn’t be my problem!

With that the ship lurged again and I heard the incredibly disconcerting sound of the shield failure klaxon. The ship started rocking hard almost nonstop at that point. Had another ship entered the fray or something? Wait, they wouldn’t dare use the Hyperstrike technique in conjunction with Rakata weaponry would they? Of all the incredibly suicidal things…..

With that a hull breach klaxon pretty much overrode all sound aboard the ship. At the rate this was going, we weren’t going to last much longer. Only thing I could think of to help was to try and nullify the advantage the Hyperstrike technique gave them by pulling the ship into Hypertime too. No longer trying to brace myself, I reached out with the Force and Codex again as I attempted to repeat what I had accomplished in the shuttle. Grabbing a hold of what I could, I then pushed to accelerate the timerate experienced. Hopefully I could get all of the ship with this, and thereby get the ship’s shields on an even footing with the Rakata weapons.

Almost immediately I could tell that something had gone wrong as I felt the area of accelerated time expand beyond the boundaries I had try to set up. My attempts to reel it back in resulted in just straining myself dangerously. At least the rocking of the ship slowed dramatically given whatever had happened. I struggled back to my feet as the soldiers started panicking over something. Looking over at them, I saw that they were staring out the open bay to outside and were exclaiming that someone had done something to the sun. Walking over to get a better look, I saw that the sun was now incredibly dim and red with the city seemingly in the darkness of night. I watched as the sphere of accelerated time washed over the entire city and stopped some ways past the city limits. This scene seemed abruptly familiar, almost like what happened to the Shar Research Group….

Oh hell, I just caused a Codex accident like they had, except I had dragged the entire city into one. This was the sort of thing which had destroyed all those asteroid colonies… Ilia is not going to let me live this one down. Looking at the city below, I could tell that the presumed Codex users were standing there looking dumbfounded as they stared at the sky and their weapons. They seemed particularly annoyed with their weapons for whatever reason. Why they weren’t using Hyperstrike to keep attacking was odd too. Then I realized that the Codex accident was preventing me from entering Hypertime relative to the city. Oh now this is interesting, the accident effect overrides the use of Hypertime by bringing the entire city into lockstep.

While the presumed RDF commanders below kept shooting at us relatively ineffectually, I could see that Alys was apparently getting the soldiers and city defenses coordinated to overwhelm the RDF. As that quickly resolved itself, my commlink chirped again.

Now that the RDF commanders were no longer flashing around in hypertime – and the city safety fields were available at full power again – it was easy for Alys to locate the remaining RDF troops and their eight commanders and turn the riot-control systems against them. That left them wrapped in multiple layers of safety fields. Firing Rakata weaponry inside THAT would break them free of course – but the backblast would almost certainly kill them in the process.

Still, they might have other resources… Lazlo, now free of the need to keep fiddling with the RDF troops now that the riot systems had them pretty well under control vaulted across a narrower section of the chasm to kick one of the RDF commanders; they were fanatical enough that they might do something even more suicidally stupid than the stuff they’d already pulled if they were left conscious.

The first one had been slowly reaching for some sort of grenade-like device. Fortunately, a fist to the face to follow up on the kick put an end to THAT.

With Alys playing spotter and opening the restraining fields when he needed to hit people, smacking down most of the RDF commanders was fairly easy. With hypertime locked down, and phasing mostly incapable of getting them through a shield / restraining field, that left them with shifting – and they just weren’t good enough with that to stop him.

Unfortunately, one of them had been in the process of activating his “grenade” when Lazlo took it away from him – and Lazlo had no clear idea of how to disarm the thing. What little he could get with precognition suggested that it would be a REALLY good idea to find a way to do it though!

Wait! Vi had studied all the RDF weapons too! And had a better memory for that kind of thing!

Lazlo called Vi…

Vi, at that moment, was busy. He’d been peacefully advising the ships captain on what to do to contain the RDF – when a flarestorm of firepower had impacted the shields. A partial burn-through had blown out the big hyperspace observation window on the bridge and flung half the bridge crew out of the ship as it had tumbled to the side…

That included the pilot – which left Vi trying to hang onto the control consoles to avoid falling out, pulling people back inside, piloting the ship via remote manipulators, and trying to operate the commlink remotely so he could shout directions to Lazlo on how to disarm a spacefield grenade, all at the same time.

This was not easy – but with the force and plenty of pure luck he managed, even as Kira dragged the entire area into hypertime – and the ship shields started to come back up.

Lazlo managed to disarm the grenade with Vi’s help – and promptly found himself cornered by a group of kids who wanted to know how he’d been able to do some of the things they’d just seen. They’d seen every episode, and didn’t know he could do those things – and they weren’t in his stats in the Kira the Kat trading card game! And did what Lazlo said count as official errata for the Lazlo card?

Lazlo was a bit flabbergasted for a moment – but eventually went along with it. When had he become an object of merchandising?

Meanwhile…

(Alys) Kira, what is going on? It’s like the Shar Research Group accident right now.

(Kira) I botched my attempt to take the ship into Hypertime to deal with those blasted weapons. Apparently I dragged the entire city with me by accident.

(Alys) I am detecting a nearly 260,000:1 timerate increase in this field! And the shield-aura from the military ships is creating a vacuum zone outside the city due to the augmented repulsion! At least that’s keeping the interface temperature from melting down the area outside I think.

(Kira) Well at least we know how to fix it. Priority should be on keeping everyone from panicking or trying to leave the field. The Shar bunch proved that the outside atmosphere is like a solid wall given the timerate difference.

Again she started cursing up a storm given the seemingly impossible demands we kept asking of her but I ignored her for the time being. Let her work with the police and the military to keep things quiet and I can see if I can arrange a fix. Ben was nowhere to be found. Well, we found two of his bodies, but neither of them seemed to be the real one. I found Vi and Lazlo arguing about what to do next some time later. I proposed that we could use one of the big ship’s hyperdrive to try and take the city into hyperspace and back again. That would likely melt the ship’s hyperdrive in the process, but that was minor compared to the city’s plight right now. Vi lamented the need to destroy a hyperdrive when he suddenly announced that a really powerful Force user might be able to power through the time differential and lock us back onto normal time.

That was a nice idea, but I wasn’t sure I knew of anyone with that kind of power that wasn’t an insane nutjob themselves. I suppose maybe the Jedi Council could do it, but they would take weeks of normal time to get here and that would translate to….. nearly ten thousand years of our time. Screw it, I could personally haul people through the interface zone faster than that. At which point Lazlo piped up that he had made friends with the local planetary energy being who happened to be a Force user.

Blink

(Kira) You met what now?

(Vi) I think it is this planet’s version of Khadim’s main body.

(Kira) Wait, you mean that is the planetary energy being or whatever they are?

(Vi) Yep, and apparently this one is Force sensitive.

(Kira) What does it want?

(Lazlo) It wants to turn me into a galactic mind so that it has someone to talk to.

That wasn’t quite right – it wanted to accelerate the evolution of the existing galactic mind to bring it up past the instinctive-reflex level – but it was close enough.

(Kira) Tell it that it can make friends the same way the rest of us do, by going out and meeting them. Wait, scratch that.

At which point Vi started talking excitedly about immortal Force using energy beings, Force ghosts, infinite energy content and a whole lot of things that weren’t making a lot of sense to me. That then led to him, Lazlo, and Alys discussing the whole silly “Galaxia” concept and making the Censor intelligent. To me this sounded a lot like more of that weird mystical nonsense the Jedi kept pushing around. Eventually Vi and Lazlo determined that the energy being had been working for tens of thousands of years to get the “small minds” to be peaceful, cooperative, and organized into a harmonious society. It took me a few minutes to realize the full implications of that statement.

(Kira) So you’re to blame!

Sadly venting my frustrations of my difficulties trying to fit into Alderaan society on the planet’s energy being was about as effective as arguing with a planet would be expected to be. Vi’s assertion that this energy being must be what the Sith have been trying to destroy or blackmail subconsciously for millennia did little to help my mood. Life was so much simpler not so many years ago.

(Kira) Regardless, do you think you can get in touch with it and get it to help?

(Lazlo) I can try.

(Kira) Right, Vi, I want you to try to get a hyperdrive ready as a fallback plan. If Lazlo’s friend doesn’t come through, we are going to have to depend on ourselves to get ourselves out of this.

(Vi) Can do.

(Kira) Officer Larson, I have a pile of weapons and such that I ended up having to leave behind at the hospital in a bit of a rush. Would it be possible to get that stuff crated up and sent to my ship while we wait for a resolution to this fiasco I created?

(Larson) I suppose so, but aren’t you going to pick them up yourself?

(Kira) Right now I want to go someplace quiet for the moment. Feel free to escort me if you want, but I suspect the excitement is over for now.

Letting the experts work on fixing this, I left and made my way across the city on foot. A few people were out in the streets after the police announced the fighting had ended but it seems like the festivities were over for the time being since it looked like the sun had died or something. This was probably another thing I was going to get blamed for too. Oh well, since I am on a roll for getting blamed for crap right now, I might as well be present for this next round personally. I arrived outside the restaurant sometime later and found the “Closed for Private Party” sign hanging like it does this time every year. While the door was obviously locked, the keypad still took the old passcode for members of the private party. As the lock quietly snapped open I entered the restaurant to see who was here.

(Martha Glithe) It’s obvious who is at the center of this fiasco. Yet another festival ruined because of that degenerate.

(Cyrn Bernelli) Now, now, even if Kira is involved like the news says he is, that doesn’t mean he’s caused it.

(Martha Glithe) Quit apologizing for him!

(Cyrn Bernelli) He has the approval of the Jedi Council itself! How much more of an endorsement do you need?

(James Olath) The Jedi aren’t the most…. pragmatic bunch. Still, I don’t think we can hold it against Kira if he has made some enemies in his travels. After all, you don’t kill major Sith Lords without pissing someone off.

(Martha Glithe) He could at least be a target elsewhere! Our children have gone missing because of that freak and you bunch keep apologizing for the one responsible!

(Evelyn Olath) How about we let the young man defend himself then? You can quit eavesdropping.

(Kira) Knew I was listening in huh?

(Evelyn Olath) I know that door and your habits a lot better than you think.

At which point I was nearly bowled over as Priscella Bernelli rushed me and grabbed me in a giant hug. Before I really had any chance to react, I found that I had been plopped into a seat at the table and a plate of food in front of me. It really was like I was ten years old again in some ways. Actually in more ways than one. The Bernelli’s were seemingly oblivious to my actions, the Olath’s were cautiously sitting the fence, and the Glithes were looking at me with more than a little scorn. On the other hand, I wasn’t a small child easily intimidated by adults anymore.

(Kira) Alright, given what I just heard and the fact I have an incredibly annoying Twi’lek investigator continually pestering me with questions, I assume all of you know something has gone wrong?

(Martha Glithe) Considering how much we are paying for such a highly respected investigator, she sure is taking her time and not being very detailed in her reports.

(James Olath) We are aware that the ones who claimed to be Jedi are not who they said they were. That much was obvious when the Jedi investigators showed up and began asking questions. We also know that the military is involved somehow.

(Kira) Then I shall explain the sequence of events as best as Nimh and I have been able to reconstruct. Please forgive me if I gloss over some details, but there are issues with the very nature of the information I am going to relate.

And I began to explain things. I gave very basic explanations of the Codex and the Censor as general background. After finding a way to explain that in a form that would at least get the concepts across without giving enough details to invoke the Censor, I then went on to describe the JLA and the RDF and how they related to the incident. It at least helped matters that the issues involved were personally important to them and that helped them focus a bit on the topic at hand. I detailed my actions up until now and how I felt it might have triggered the RDF to take such a dim view of me. Finally I explained why I came back to Alderaan despite knowing it was a trap. About the only thing I really didn’t try to explain was Valerie and how I escaped some of those incidents with her help.

(Peter Glithe) So you came here, knowing it was a trap and got lots of people involved in a firefight using star destroyer scale weapons?!

(Kira) I had lost track that it was festival time again. It was not my idea, but the plan was to go to the house, get ambushed by a small squad of Codex users, and then capture as many as I could. I did not anticipate the ambush involving over four thousand soldiers and Rakata.

(Martha Glithe) Some Force user you are. I thought you people were supposed to be able to see these things.

(Kira) Not when a Codex user is involved. That makes it incredibly difficult.

(Cyrn Bernelli) Besides, he did manage to save everyone that got caught up in it all.

(Martha Glithe) Have you even looked outside?! We could all still be killed by this so-called accident he caused!

(James Olath) He says he knows how to fix it and that the military is helping.

(Martha Glithe) You have way too much faith in the military and Jedi!

(James Olath) And what would you have us do?! Punish him?! You do realize that right now he is powerful enough to kill everyone here and there isn’t a damned thing any of us could do to stop him! The military, the Jedi, and Kira are the best bet I have of seeing my son again!

(Martha Glithe) He hangs out with that damned Sith girl all the time and you want me to trust him?!

Leave it to Nimh to spill the beans without any heed to the social considerations of certain pieces of information.

(Evelyn Olath) Yes, I’ve noticed you’ve curiously omitted her from your explanation. Valerie Soung of the Varen Sith I believe she is. How does she figure into this? Nimh seemed to think she knew why but was keeping it secret.

(Kira) It’s complicated.

At which point I could just see the look of disgust wash over Martha’s face.

(Martha Glithe) Found yourself a little Sith tart to play with?

Alright, this needed to stop now. I know the Glithes didn’t like me, but I think it is about time they understood that I wasn’t that stupid college kid they remember anymore. Reaching out with the Force, it was a simple matter to simply telekinetically move the table out of the way. Setting it to the side, I pulled Marthas’s chair close to me so that she was almost face to face with me. The others had backed away looking alarmed by the sudden move, but I focused my attention on Martha as I looked into her eyes and put my hands on her armrests. She was trying very hard to look as defiant as a moment ago and not having a lot of success.

(Kira) Alright, I know you don’t like me. After twenty years that has become one of the facts of life. If you feel the need to lecture me like a child, that’s fine and a privilege of having to deal with me when I was a bratty kid. I am not, nor will I ever be asking for your approval. I have endured terrors at the Academy that still gives me nightmares. I have fought Force predators that can rip through solid rock like it was made of wet paper because I had no where to run. I have been chased by thousands of bounty hunters while trapped on a lonely planet far from the Republic. I have fought a Dark Lord of the Sith that thought nothing of casually killing children just to provide a technical demonstration. A nigh immortal Sith Lord that threatened to destroy the Republic is now dead due to my actions in no small part. I have saved quadrillions of people in two alternate galaxies and have managed to significantly tilt the tables in the Yeveetha war heavily in favor of the Republic.

(Kira) I accept that I am not well appreciated by a number of people across the Galaxy. No matter what I do, there is always someone out there able to twist the story into further proof that I am a Dark Lord of the Sith out to conquer the Galaxy. Frankly, I don’t care beyond the sheer inconvenience it has caused. What I do care about is when you belittle that “Sith tart” as you called her. She has worked very hard to reform herself since I met her and has done far more for me than most anyone else over the last five years. To be honest, I don’t really appreciate it when you talk about Valerie like that. Do I make myself clear?

(Martha Glithe) Y-yes.

(Kira) Good, now I will find your daughter, Barcos, Nathan, and my family because they are all important to me. Not because of your attempts to guilt-trip me into doing it. I am sorry the festival got ruined in the process of me attempting to learn where your daughter is hidden. Deal with it.

(Evelyn Olath) Bravo kid, way to stand up for yourself.

I silently moved the table and chairs back into place. Evelyn tried to start the small talk going again by asking me to describe meeting the Jedi Council and what my impressions of them were. That got the discussion going in the direction of how the Force affected the minds of those sensitive to it and how this resulted in the various types of Sith. That fascinated Peter immensely as he started asking a number of psychological questions relating to the various Sith I’ve met and my impressions of them. That took the discussion fairly late into the night and finally everyone started going home.

I thought briefly of visiting the house myself, but decided the amount of traps that were likely to be waiting for me wasn’t appealing right now. Not to mention how disturbing sleeping in an empty house was likely to be given all that was happening. It was bad enough considering how silent things felt through the Force right now and adding to the isolation I was feeling was the fact that the link with Valerie was now feeling incredibly weak through the interface zone. To that end I found myself a hotel room to stay in for the night.

The next few days was spent trying to keep on top of what Lazlo and Vi were doing, making sure the RDF command staff and soldiers remained secure, watching how repairs to the power plant were going, and keeping an eye on the interface zone for any untoward changes. I still found myself amazed at how many of the people here obeyed the curfew without question the entire time. It was towards the end of the third day when I was beginning to contemplate issues with food and water supplies that I felt time suddenly snap back into place. At that same time the sky went from an incredibly dull red glow to a noonday sun in a single blinding instant.

As part of this blinding sensation was a feeling of an immense ocean of Force power that seemed to engulf the entire region. To say this felt overwhelming was an understatement of epic proportions. I thought Lecrouss, Huriel, and Zandramas were powerful practitioners of the Force, but they didn’t hold a candle to this ancient behemoth. I ended up shifting to the Codex side in order to keep the feeling of being overwhelmed at bay. I could only presume this was Lazlo’s new friend. At least this seemed to fix the problem my accident caused. Looking at the clock, it looked like three days passed inside the interface zone while only a second passed outside the interface zone.

Police, government officials, and military officers all began to converge on Crevasse City at that point. Alys took on the task of explaining to the government and police while Vi handled the military. We did learn that Ben’s ship was missing, but apparently the military were giving chase right now to a ship racing towards the asteroid belt at a significant fraction of lightspeed. Not much I could help with there though besides just offer suggestions from time to time since the Republic military had such a head start on chasing the ship down.

That more or less resulted in another couple days of cleanup efforts, explanations, and trying to stay out of the way as the festival restarted. News of Kira Death Clones showing up, defeating thousands of soldiers, disrupting the festival, and getting my first criminal offense as an adult (damned swimming violation) was filling the local broadcasts. The calls for banning the Kira Death Clones from next years festivals were annoying on a number of levels. How exactly they proposed to tell the difference between me and any so-called Death Clone was not immediately clear and the whole ruse stunk of a round-about means of banning me from future festivals. The arguments then proceeded to debate the point of whether or not you could ban something that did not exist and if it didn’t exist, was there any “harm” in banning it?

It was as I was lamenting the fact that the locals were even having the debate to begin with that my PDA informed of the arrival of a number of messages. First batch was from various members of my extended family wanting to get in touch with me. Many of them were people I barely remembered beyond a few reunions and visitations over the years. Some wanted updates regarding what was happening to me, my siblings, and my parents, and I went ahead a wrote a response for those. Then I saw that apparently some of them had realized I had come into some money recently and were (although not always subtly) asking for financial assistance. Part of me was torn between the realization that many of them wouldn’t care the slightest about my well-being if it weren’t for the money, and the fact that refusing to help family was a bit of a egotistical Sith trait. I am going to have to think about this for a bit. I was rather amused to see the letter from my cousin Al Masters (I think he is a paramedic these days) wanting to get together for drinks at some point. Last time we had gotten together resulted in me getting a court order to join the military. I might take him up on that at some point.

The second batch was a bit more surprising on a number of levels. At first the PDA asked me what to do with the assorted messages it had presorted into the spam category for the interim. I asked it to provide a typical sample for me to review so I could give better guidance. That resulted in me being presented with the image of a blonde female offering to do a number of things that weren’t exactly considered polite to say on Alderaan. I mean, I’ve seen more than my fair share of associated mass-market spam promising all sorts of things, but this was the first time I’ve seen something like that addressed to me personally by more or less ordinary people. A quick review of a few more items in the list showed that this blonde was hardly an isolated incident on any level as there was a considerable number making similar offers. I even recognized one of them as a girl that never gave me the time of day back in college. The contrast between those messages and the people wishing all sorts of unpleasant things to befall me was stark.

Dashing rogue indeed….

And yet it felt so hollow. I had no delusions what they were after any more than I did regarding many of those family members wanting to get friendly with me all of the sudden. Perhaps there was a time where that sort of thing wouldn’t have mattered to me but these days I want something more substantial than that. Of course, it is hard to get anything more substantial than being Bonded to someone. Perhaps that is why I feel nothing more than idle curiosity with these messages. And I think that is probably a good thing. Letting Valerie see these messages, however, was not a good thing.

So those messages got sorted into the spam bin for prompt deletion.

Of course that brought up the thought as to why exactly was I Bonded with Valerie. Oddly enough that never came up in any of our discussions of the Bond between us. Maybe I should talk with her about it the next time I see her.

Theovin Syindar, Lord of Chaos

Cover of Rifts first edition: a splugorthian s...

By Amber standards? Populated with very minor creatures.

As usual for Amber NPC’s, Theovin comes in several versions; after all, you never know how a given game master may want to use him.

Theovin, of Clan Syindar, is Erin’s (far) older brother or half-brother. He’s a trump artist, with the curious and annoying habit of picking up various “ultra-tech” items and powering them with trump energies – throwing in the powers of Self Healing and Alternate Form and (for robots and vehicles) Shadow Seek. While it does take him several hours to make such items, rather than simply being able to call for them, he can be counted on to have a small arsenal of energy weapons, sensors, computers, tools, and suits of “power armor” on him at any given time – usually disguised as an assortment of small ornaments and talismans. He also usually employs a powerful force field and a psychic screen generator.

That kind of gear won’t necessarily stop a full-out assault by a high-ranked assailant, but it provides a substantial edge – and will usually offer some options for escape.

  • Base Attributes: Strength: Chaos (-10 Points), Warfare: Amber (0 Points), Endurance: Amber (0 Points), Psyche 24 (24 Points).
  • Base Powers: Trump Artistry (40 Points), Basic Shape-Shifting (35 Points), and a Named and Numbered set of “Personal Planes” with Restricted Access (3 points, x2 for Named and Numbered = 6 Points).
  • Horde Of Devices: Various high-tech items, all Powered By Trump, Self Healing (or, in some cases, self-reloading), with an Alternate Form (usually some small trinket) and Shadow Seek (if appropriate). That’s a base of ten points, x3 for a horde = 30 Points.

That’s a total of 125 points – a fairly normal starting character. Game masters can either go with that or use one of the more experienced versions below:

The Adventuring Hero: Theovin’s older then Erin – but that’s not saying a lot for a Lord of Chaos. This version has a fondness for going forth and exploring the more dangerous sorts of shadows, such as “Rifts” Earth (yes, that’s another game entirely – but it’s a very exciting place to be an alien godling). This version will have Sorcery (15 Points), Power Words (15 Points), items that Store Spells (4 Points) and confer Regeneration (9 Points), 7 points of “Good Stuff”, and 25 points worth of allies, devotees, and such – for a total of 200 points. He’s actually, and simply, one of the “good guys”. His political position will resemble Gerard’s in Amber; the various manipulators may think he’s a dimwit, but everybody knows that they can count on him.

The Scheming Lordling: A lord of chaos he may be, but Theovin recognizes the potential of technology. It can be used to channel trump energy in so many ways… This version is as political and scheming as any normal Lord of Chaos – but he tends to be collecting power and allies with a view to the future, rather then for “immediate” use. Hence he tends to be fairly trustworthy and looks out for his friends and family… Of course, he expects them to return the favor. He’s a Logrus Master (45 Points), wields a set of 12 specialized Power Words related to psychic combat (17 Points), and uses an artifact that Confers Trump Defense (10 Points). He has a Warfare of 22 (22 Points), an Endurance of 5 (5 Points), and a point of “Good Stuff” (1 Point). 225 points base, may have allies and such at the option of the GM.

The Bothersome Punk: As one of the rowdier junior lords of chaos, Theovin tends to violate tradition a lot – and rides his motorcycle through places where it definitely does not belong. He’s a pest, but does tend to get (simpler) things done. This version is often acting as an errand-boy for someone else – whether due to some manipulation, or simply because he’s returning a favor. This version uses a device that Confers Trump Defense (10 Points) and a set of ten Power Words that allow him to make short-range teleport jumps, boost his devices – and resist attempts to capture him (15 Points) – for a total of 150 points.

The Potential Companion: A reasonably friendly, and rather inexperienced, fellow, this Theovin is a decent ally for any starting-level character, and will probably be interested in an alliance. He may seem omnipotent to Erin, but he isn’t ready to play in the big leagues yet. A character fortunate enough to forge an alliance with Theovin has a convenient source for trumps, high-tech equipment that works – and (probably) access to a nice secure shadow or two with plenty of resources. It can be very nice – but it means that you’re making his problems your problems as well. This version is rather unlikely to have extra powers – save possibly a device that Confers Trump Defense (10 points) – but will grow along with the player characters.

Regardless of the version, Theovin has provided Erin with several toys at one time or another, and with two “pets” – whether out of affection, from a desire to keep an eye on him, or simply wanting to protect him as a likely future ally. Brothers make good ones if they grow up liking you.

Arath and Charin are big robot “dogs”, with a fully natural appearance, advanced computer intelligences (no psychic presence – but friendly AI’s), vast physical capabilities (Run at 300+ MPH, capable of doing “destructive” damage with a variety of built-in energy weapons or their ultra-hard teeth and claws, multiple-ton hydraulic strength, a wide assortment of sensors, and an advanced tactical computer equivalent to a midlevel warfare rank), and a tendency to catch him, to try and talk him out of doing dangerous, and make him study his lessons and do his homework… Being powered by trump, they’re pretty indestructible.

Depending on just how authoritarian and restrictive they’re being, Erin may regard Arath and Charin as pets, friends, companions, annoyances, or as nuisances to be avoided at all costs. Like most independent characters in Amber, they can serve a variety of purposes.

“HEY! NOT NOW! THEY’RE IN TROUBLE! I GOTTA HELP! LEMME GO!” (As Erin gets carried off) “It’s Time for your bath Erin”, says the deep mechanical voice. “Your Mother will be very upset if you aren’t ready for your magic lessons tomorrow” “BUT I GOTTA STAY HERE! LEMME GO! PUT ME DOWN!” (the voices fade in the distance).

Erin, of Clan Syindar, a youthful Lord of Chaos and Order

Cover of "Knight of Shadows"

Yep. This place again.

So I’m not supposed to – it’s a DARE… I Have to. Besides – everybody peeks. So mommy had said never to go near the Logrus. Suhay wouldn’t get mad. Everybody peeked at the Logrus at least once when they were kids (Well OK – maybe some of them lied). You could see it through some of the world-cracks… There was supposed to be a hole that let you see it down this way without even any guardians on it…

There was.

Wow… That’s neato. All wiggly lines – an arcs of power – an all those things that are there – an aren’t there (at the same time) – an the way it sorta “twists off” into other “places” that’re really weird – an the way it – it… I don’ feel so good. It’s all dizzy an it’s goin roun an roun…

Erin started to back away. And then the world split wide open – as the Logrus reached out and grabbed him.

HELP! MOMMY! ARTHEEEN! LEMME GO! LEMME OUT! MOMMMY!

Space warped. Colors swirled. Lines of fire reached across the world. Doorways to a million million realms gaped open around him. Shifting instinctively, flowing with the raging current of primordial power, Erin rode a wave of blazing energy into the heart of the Logrus. A whirling vortex of pulsing force spun around him, as what currently passed for his feet carried him through the shifting maze…

Something laughed.

When things settled down, Erin got very sick.

Back in human form, He dazedly opened his eyes as a dry, old, voice spoke; “Congratulations child… Even among trained adults few successfully walk the Logrus” “Ooh… Is that what I did?” “Hmm… How did you come to reach the Logrus anyway child?” “I was peeking – AN IT GRABBED ME!”

Suhay muttered, frowned, and peered at the Logrus…

“Well – Come child. Intentional or not, I will have to tell you something about the powers of the Logrus.” “Hey! Where’d all these funny rings come from anyhow?” “Didn’t you have them before child? Let me see…” (BY THE SERPENT!!!) “Child…? We have much to talk about I think… What’s your name?”

Suhay spent several hours (minutes? days?) teaching Erin enough about “using” Logrus powers to keep things under control… He gave him some “gloves” to make the rings less magically conspicuous – and he told him not to tell anybody about this…

Erin didn’t… He went home and Arthen (the butler) put him to bed. He didn’t need to tell Arthen anything anyway. Arthen always seemed to know about everything he did – but Arthen never told on him.

He spanked him sometimes, but he never told mommy.

He’d have to get up early tomorrow… There’d be so many neat places he could go now – an people to meet – an some really neat places an things to find (I wonder where I heard about those?) – an he could beat Tevrinn up now – an – an – (Yawn)… (Tired)… an… (Sleep).

Erin’s childhood in the Courts of Chaos has been rather isolated, and has really been mostly under the control of Arthen – and the other house servants / creatures. His (presumed) mother has always been rather distant, and he has no idea at all who his father might be… Save for when he gives the servants the slip, he rarely gets to meet or play with children from other houses.

As for why the Logrus pulled him through – maybe it wanted an agent, or thought it was funny, or liked the potential for weird chaos inherent in a small boy with power, or was annoyed, or it was simply an accident…

As for what Suhay is up to – maybe he was just mad, or didn’t want to deal with a string of dead kids when the rest decided to try it too, or simply doesn’t know what the Logrus is up to, or actually wants to conceal the fact that kids are so adaptable that they can walk the Logrus with no problem (and would that ever make for confusion in the courts), or he’s just amused, or who- knows-what.

Game Statistics:

  • Strength : Human (Amber with Rings) (-25 points).
  • Psyche : Chaos (-10 points).
  • Endurance : Chaos (-10 points).
  • Warfare: Human (Amber with Rings) (-25 points).
  • Standard Disadvantages: Diary 10 points, Game Log 10 points.
  • Personal Disadvantage: Erin is a small child. He has few skills outside of being a passable sneak-thief (for stealing treats and sneaking out) and hacker (of limited use in Amber). He’s far too small to use a big sword, emotionally immature, and people never take him seriously. He’s bright and intuitive, but it’s still -5 points.

This provides Erin with a total of 195 points to buy other powers with – including:

  • Basic Magic (5 points):

This covers a fair amount of theory, a simple spells (comparable to AD&D’s Cantrips and first-level spells), and the ability to recognize magical items and effects. In Amber terms this is pretty trivial – but it’s handy and well-suited to a child.

“I discovered a dark three-cornered one (a hat) which fitted me perfectly. The color was a little off, but I recalled a spell which altered it.” -Merlin, Knight Of Shadows.

  • Amber Devotee (6 points):

At the moment, the identity of Erin’s amber parent remains unknown – at least to him.

  • Chaos Devotee (4 points):

Erin assumes that the Lady of Chaos he knows as “mother” is his indeed his mother. Of course, given the intrigues of the setting, it’s possible that this is wrong.

  • Family Friend (2 points):

Lord Theovin of Chaos – his (presumed) elder brother.

  • Shapeshifting (35 points):

As a denizen of Chaos, Erin is, of course, a full shapeshifter.

  • Minor Logrus Powers (20 points):

It is debatable whether Erin has Logrus Powers or if the Logrus has him. While Erin can use Logrus Defense and Sight, his ability to manipulate Logrus Tendrils is limited by his youth, inexperience, and his inability to concentrate for very long. Unless whatever-it-is turns up in a minute or two he gets bored and loses focus. This does offer one interesting ability; he can travel through shadow in a series of very short “hops”, about equal to a hellride – but this includes little ability to navigate. Unless the Logrus (or something) decides to steer him, he tends to get lost a lot, and blunders all over shadow.

If Erin walks the pattern any time soon, it’s very, very, likely that he’ll acquire a “partial” version of that as well. It requires concentration too.

  • Good Stuff (12 points):

Things just tend to go well for Erin. Given the general lack of pre-planning and deep consideration which goes with his age, that’s probably a very good thing.

  • Runic Rings (90 points)

The Runic Rings can be found over HERE. They’re incredibly complex – and powerful – items. Sadly, the character they were originally written up for wound up almost never actually using them. It seemed a pity to waste all that work though – but coming up with a reason for a starting character to have a ninety-point set of items is a little awkward. Hence Erin…

  • Ten Power Words (15 points):

While the Runic Rings have plenty of power words built into them, Erin does have some of his own.

  • Resume True Form; Standard.
  • Burst Of Psyche; Standard.
  • Fugue; “Stretches” .01 seconds into 10-15, although the utility is limited by the massive inertia of items that don’t belong to the user.
  • Reconstruction; Summons or recreates any item which the user paid the points for. Summoning is far easier, and will be what happens if the item still exists.
  • Instinct Tap; Draws on the instincts that go with a form, allowing a shapeshifter to avoid practicing.
  • Power Tap; Draws on the powers of an item, allowing the user to briefly use one of them as his own.
  • Chaos Bolt; Focuses the energy of the Logrus into a (tiny) bolt of primal chaos… This is hard on anything of shadow that it hits, but fades away swiftly. It’s nowhere near the critical limit where it becomes self-sustaining.
  • Phasing; Turns the user briefly intangible, letting him move through things and pull various tricks.
  • Instant Shift; Lets a shapeshifter accomplish about five minutes worth of shifting.
  • Summon Logrus; Brings the logrus instantly to mind.

Obviously enough, most of those just let Erin use his other powers more spontaneously, although that would normally tire him rapidly. Given that his rings grant him endless stamina however, they now let him play a lot more.

  • Personal Shadows (6 points):

Yes, this is Amber, where – for a handful of points – you can own a set of personalized universes. Erin’s Shadows include several video-game universes, a carnival world, a realm for outdoor sports and camping with some rustic villages to play in, a giant shopping mall world where you can get almost anything (and he never has to pay), and so on. Fundamentally they’re all the same – fun places with lots of interesting things to do and a lot of inhabitants (both human and animal) who like him and are quite willing to help him out. This is a Named and Numbered (x2 cost for a set of twelve) set of Personal Shadows (1 point) with Restricted Access (+2 points, mostly due to being hidden off in obscure corners of shadow – but partly due to various childish procedures for gaining entry).

Sadly, Erin never got much play time either. Ah well; maybe one of these days.

Federation-Apocalypse Session 177 – Family Matters

Given a little time to think, Kevin had concluded that the proper thing for a wedding was extravagant festivities and gifts! Hm. A bunch of dragon-slaves of course! They were very classy and added color and impressiveness to any celebration! Perhaps a bunch of slave-girls with the magic to act as surrogate mothers? That would keep the burden off Mrs Fennwick… Still, that might be considered a little over-personal mightn’t it… Perhaps he should leave that decision up to her. A couple of nice, fully-staffed, mansions of course! A vacation home and personal gate to a mountain-peak palace in Kadia? Some Thralls of course! Perhaps a ship or two? A yacht anyway! Oh! A set of high-quality (and colorful, in honor of Parrots) outfits for everyone attending!

Party food didn’t make the list. Kevin was still shying away from that topic.

Festivities… Fireworks at the end of the evening of course! A three or four hour display over the entire city should do for that! Some Kabukai Theater would be fun! Robot battles and Kaiju Ballet? (Perhaps Ninja Cyborg Godzilla and Pirate Superhero Mothra?) And largesse and games and a carnival for everyone in the city! He could hire on the fox kid who’d been runner-up in the sociability competition to help get it going!

He’d have to ask around on the local customs too… Were a bunch of willing females expected to be a part of the bachelor party?

Raphael kind of felt that giving the groom a harem – or even a temporary one at the bachelor party – was in poor taste. Besides, the bride usually objected to that sort of thing, and there was no use starting off a marriage on the wrong foot! Did Kevin go this overboard on EVERYTHING he took an interest in? After all, Marty already controlled an entire dimension! Perhaps simple symbolic gifts were in order! Or – at most – something for his new wife to reduce the disparity a bit!

Still, the evening wound to it’s end. Raphael had had a long day building new robots, so it was time for a well-deserved rest. Marty had a few nightcaps and settled down as well – while Kevin, with adolescent energy, told the young lady “good night” but skipped out on a good deal of sleep in favor of spending time with his various personal companions – including the two new (and very happy-and-eager looking) panther-girl concubines.

Now that they’d taken care of the local assassins and troublemakers, squelched the mage who periodically caused disasters, and held still long enough for several of the major groups to put in an appearance, the night was relatively quiet…

Unfortunately, Raphael was one of those !@#$%^ morning people! And relentlessly cheery in the morning to boot!

Raphael didn’t see the problem! It was a good day! The machines were in their place serving him slavishly and all was right with the world!

He spent his cheery morning preparing his pirate cove to be turned into a working dock with a entry elevator into the city and a full lab and residence ready to work on robots and repair boats – or whatever else needed doing in a city’s second dock that was miles away from the first.

The city was agreeable enough; money and power both spoke loudly…

Kevin, grumblingly, eventually got up to check on a few things… He’d sent out some Thralls to try and catch some of the War Party Rabbits, the Wolf-Matron was still closeted with her major advisors, it was almost time to go with the Platypus trading expedition – and he still had a cute girl to catch!

Of course once they left they’d have a goddess to rescue, several court cases, reptile-people to talk too, and quite a few other things to do – including finding out what was going on with those machines that Jarvain kept complaining about. Hm… Perhaps it had been unwise to put someone with quite so many unresolved hostility issues in independent command of an interstellar battle fleet.

He decided to just wander around for a bit, confirming rumors through the presence of several new, youthful, panther-thralls.

Marty was checking out the local wedding customs. He certainly didn’t want any serious omissions!

Raphael was directing repairs on the ships when another ship arrived outside the barrier across the entrance – and seemed to be trying to get in… The flag wasn’t in any of his databases, but there seemed to be a couple of hundred people aboard – mostly arguing with each other while a team of six adventurer-types analyzed the cliff face…

Well, that meant that it was time to alert the city guards to the fact that somoene was knocking on their back door (he sent a Thrall to do that), to figure out that flag (another Thrall-job), and to go and see who was knocking – a job he kept for himself. Knowing that the Thralls would cheerily die by the swarm simply to keep him from being inconvenienced still gave him the creeps even if they did just come right back in Kadia and go on a shopping spree with their “Death Benefits”! The still looked like adolescent-or-younger kids!

Still, he gave the Thralls a few minutes; he wanted to see if the visitors would pierce the wards before someone came back to tell him what that flag meant. Besides… that gave him time to have his new robots generate an illusion of a small army waiting in the cavern – all in city guard uniforms.

His first response was Marty, who – having nothing better to do while he waited for reports on local weddings to get back to him – had unerringly headed for the commotion.

Shortly thereafter a translucent Raccoon mage appeared – arguing with someone unseen.

(Raccoon) “Alright I am inside, let me have a look around. Hmm, looks like a pirate cove filled with guards or pirates. No, I can’t tell who they are, and quit asking me how to open the door already! (As he noticed Raphael and Marty) Uhhh, we mean you no harm?”

(Raphael) “Hey what are you doing in my cove?”

(Raccoon) “Well it appears that my tracking friend has once again led us into a trap – or at least a detour. We are searching for someone and appear to have gotten off track is all.”

(Raphael) “Oh who are you looking for?”

(Raccoon) “Ah, what was the kid’s name again? Oh, Kevin Sanwell, thanks Jeorg. I have no memory for such things. They keep telling me to get a set of those damned “brilliant clothes” or whatever they call them, but those damned machines give me the creeps. (Apparently to someone else) Yes, I know you say they are perfectly safe. I don’t care.”

(Raphael) “Oh, those are pretty safe if you add the right safety features. They are really handy and totally worth the hassle… I might be able to summon Kevin Sanwell for you. What do you want him for?”

(Raccoon) “Ah, well that would be good then. I have a large number of people here looking to speak with him regarding some missing children. WOULD YOU BE QUIET! IT IS HARD TO LISTEN TO WHAT THIS GUY IS SAYING WITH ALL OF YOU YELLING IN MY EARS! Alright, sorry about that. It appears that a number of them are rather upset with this Kevin.”

Ah, upset parents! They’d finally stayed in one relatively peaceful place long enough for a pack of them to catch up!

(Marty) “Hey, you’ve got a lot of people horning in on things there! Where are they from?”

(Raccoon) “A selection of realms actually, they hired our party and chartered this ship to seek out this “Kevin Sanwell. They are aboard the ship on the other side of this… cliff wall. I’ve been projecting myself through the wall to see what was on the other side and found you bunch, but unfortunately I can hear the discussions on both sides.”

(Raphael) “Well I think it would be easier for me just to come out there then.” (then to one of the kids via telepathy) “Quietly ask Kevin if it is ok to overlay the version of him in Kadia with a boat full of angry parents in a few minutes.”(Then to Marty normally) “He’s projecting from that ship over there.”

The Raccoon was now studying the wall intently.

(Raccoon) “Just how do you open this exactly?”

(Raphael) “Oh I have yet to get around to figuring that out yet. I only found this place the other day. It was in a divination duel to find the largest unclaimed buried treasure in the area.”

(Raccoon) “Fascinating. I wonder if it becomes incoporeal or if it folds open somehow?”

(Raphael) “I was just going to carefully teleport to the other side. it would be nice to know but I really do not want to play with the doors until the guards are less nervous about suddenly finding a cove of this size here and I have it back in operating order”

(Raccoon) “Oh, ok fine. I presume you can teleport then, or do I need to teleport you?”

(Raphael) “I can teleport just fine. just give me a second to check if the door has any traps or wards which would affect teleportation through it.”

He could just take them down the coast of course, but then he wouldn’t get to “summon” Kevin (via a communications overlay) in Dragon form! It would be a lot more fun and impressive that way!

He did a few divinations to check for anything that would block a short range teleport out.

It looked like… there were a number of spells designed to ward against anyone coming inside. There didn’t appear to be any such safeguards against leaving… Interestingly enough, it looked like you needed a keystone to activate the enchantments that opened the door from either side.

He’d have to look for that later. It was probably somewhere in the cavern. After all, the ships were inside and it was unlikely that they’d been damaged in battle in the cave. Someone might have taken it along in fleeing to the city above – but there was no reason to expect that to have stopped the psychic cat-creatures, so it might be in some mage-school or collectors stockpile of weird gewgaws of unknown function.

Marty was impressed; Raphael was GOOD at analyzing things like that! Very handy! Much as he hated to admit it, there were times when physical violence was not the answer, and neither was talking or having Kevin throw another tidal wave of raw magical power at something…

Admittedly violence and raw power often chanced one problem into another one altogether, but they weren’t always actually SOLUTIONS.

(Raphael) “I’m going to teleport over to their ship and “Summon Kevin”; want to come along?”

(Marty) “Sure, why not?”

Raphael spent a few moments gathering energy – Kevin was dreadfully profligate in his use of personal power, although he usually drew on his Thralls for it – and invoked a simple short-range spacefold.

Hm. Had Kevin started collecting Thralls so early that he’d never learned to Gather properly? Maybe he should try teaching him; it might wean him off so much reliance on Thralls.

Meanwhile, of course, a few miles down the coast in Cyrweld, Kevin was showing off a tiny part of his collection of enslaved children… Mostly his three new panther-girl concubines and a few new servants.

Marty and Raphael appeared on a large wooden sailing ship, and were met by the mage you were talking to a moment ago, five additional adventurer types, and what looked to be over a hundred other people…

(Raccoon) “Welcome aboard the Fortune Oreo. I am Tyrmar Alaban.”

(Marty) “Hi, what’s up?”

(Raccoon) “Well, my companions and I have been paid by these nice people to help them track down Kevin Sanwell. My companion Alexander here says he traced a path to this location. Now, your companion here says he might be able to arrange a meeting with this Kevin.”

(Raphael) “So where do you want him summoned? and do you have a nice clear area to do it in?”

(Tyrmar) “Well, I suppose here on the deck will work well enough unless he is a very large fellow.”

Raphael tried to clear enough room for Kevin’s dragon form – just in case – and evoked his spell.

An eldritch wind rose, whipping out from a raging vortex of terrible magical energies wrapped around a flaming draconic form – which cycled through a half-angel-half-demon thing with rakish halo, and several other forms before the massive energies were sucked down into a human form which looked more-or-less like Kevin usually did, but with glasses, a scarf, and an english smoking jacket.

(Kevin) “WHO DARES SUMMON… Oh, it’s you Raphael. What do you want?”

There was a long moment of silence – but some of the parents aboard were too anxious and angry for even displays like that to inhibit them for long.

Kevin was wondering if the display had been good enough; it was hard to judge exactly when you didn’t know exactly who you were trying to impress.

(Raphael) “O these guys wanted to see you about their children”

(Kevin) “What, ill and they want to sign up or something?”

(Angry Mother) “What have you done with my child!?”

(Kevin) “How in the Abyss should I know? You could ask him, her, it, or whatever-the-kid-is by Email if you gave their name!”

(Angry Mother) “Her name’s Lillian!”

(Raphael) “It might help to give more than that there are lots of kids he’s ‘done stuff with’”

(Kevin) “Well, there are only… 1237 “Lillians” in service at the moment.- so that narrows it a bit!”

(Angry Mother) “Oh, all right, I’ll try the local… magic? It seems so weird to say that!”

(Kevin) “What magic? Things like last names, where she was recruited, and that sort of thing would work!”

After a moment of shock, the angry woman gave him that information… It looked like a “cold war” spy fiction realm… That narrowed the field to one “Lillian Markus”.

(Kevin) “Hmm… Looks like she was swept up in some sort of school takeover with ransom demands – a “high security” place with some officials kids or something? – and got broken out and taken to Kadia with some other kids by a couple of Thralls who happened to be in the area when the people doing the takeover started wanting to shoot lesser hostages. She was of age in Kadia, and signed up so she could go on rescue missions of her own. What’s wrong with that? They should have left a note! (after a moments pause) It looks like they did…”

(Slightly Less Angry Mother) “We thought it was a smokescreen for a terrorist group, though I really am beginning to wonder. So where is she now?”

She considered the flaming-dragon manifestation… It might just be special effects, but if it was all real… Talking might be her only chance of taking her daughter away from a demon-dragon-god.

(Kevin) “Hm… Looks like she’s doing rescue work over in one of the Old Testament realms! Those are popular destinations for some reason, but they’re very big on divine smiting and global floods and plagues and things!”

Raphael was considering… Quite a lot of them were wearing Smartclothes. They were kind of ubiquitous in a lot of the Manifold… He sent a brochure explaining Thralldom, and Kadia, and its benifits to each set of smartclothes in the area – as well as a tourest’s guide to Kadia while he was at it.

Hmph. Some of them hadn’t set their spam filters! He could get around the automatic ones since they WERE interested in Kevin and Kadia! It was SPAM TIME! That would teach them a lesson! More brochures about the wonders of Kevin’s operations, and on how great it was to be a Thrall, and some on why not setting your filters was just inviting hundreds of spam files to be sent to your inbox all the time!

And a warning about the dangers of machines taking over the world just to be sure that they knew.

(Kevin) “Lets see… (pointing to a middle-aged couple from Core) your kid ran away from Crusader and came to Kadia to sign up, your (pointing to a younger mother from the English Fantasy Realms) kid went was captured by pirates, sold into slavery, and purchased by one of my agents. He was permitted to send a funding request if he’d wanted to, but opted out since he said you had no money – and he elected Thralldom over indenture and school. Bad luck there! He should have written anyway! Your (pointing to a father from the Shadowrun world) kid was… Hmm… recruited by a thrall who did a basic witchcraft-link on her before some cultists sacrificed her, so she showed up in Kadia and signed up. She’s… chasing the cult on assignment, and has probably been just too busy to check in with you and may have been worried about explaining the bit where she was killed. Your (pointing at a couple from the “Jesus Realms”) son wanted the “cool powers”, and the money, and the sex, among other things, and signed up for that since he didn’t want to wait for adulthood to get his own nanite changes…

The various parents had been taken aback for a moment – but the various demands for contact information and links, for going to Kadia to chew out errant kids, for proof of some of these incredible assertions, and (for some of them of course) for the immediate return of their kids (no matter WHAT Kevin was or said), was growing louder.

(Kevin, to the ones demanding the immediate return of their kids) “Well, you can talk to them about it! Or possibly employ them!”

The majority (including many of the ones who’d taken a look at the brochures) were still very upset that Kevin would do – whatever the hell it was he’d done – to their kids without asking them, but they did want to see them.

(Kevin) “Hmph! Most of them were either out in the Manifold, running away, or escaping likely death anyway! There are lots worse things that can happen to a child out in the Manifold than signing up with me! You should see what Chernobog does!”

That wasn’t particularly soothing – but it did shut quite a few of them up. They didn’t particularly want to know what “Chernobog” – whatever “Chernobog” was – did to kids; a good many of them could imagine some really horrible things – and the reality was probably worse.

It was really… Chernobog was a mountainous dark god that used human bodies as the “cells” of it’s body – absorbing them into it’s gelatinous mass, fueling it’s terrible psychic powers with the unimaginable torment of the minds trapped within those bodies, and empowering the cultists who fed it a steady stream of sacrificial victims and occasionally shared in the dark ecstasy of their gods constant sadistic feeding. Eventually, of course, those minds finally burned out, the bodies perished despite the “afterlife” status of being a part of Chernobog, and the souls could depart – but that process might require many centuries. Those cultists who voluntarily joined their spirits with Chernobog became warped and demonic things, finding in the torment of others, and their own lesser torments, a warped ecstasy. They might endure for millennia – but they too would eventually burn out, hopefully to find a life less terribly broken.

Other entities opposed Chernobog of course, but it had other ancient evils as it’s allies, and the layered, defenses of it’s personal realm placed attackers at a tremendous disadvantage.

Marty almost had to laugh. Once again, Kevin presented himself as the least of the available evils… It was hard to say where the sleight-of-tongue lay however. Was he the least evil because he wasn’t evil at all, or did it lie in never mentioning that there might be good alternatives?

Were there good alternatives? “Good” seemed to give you what you needed, even if it was free of charge. It was “Evil” that gave you what you wanted, but charged high for it. Was it that Kevin somehow turned what you wanted into what you needed?

(Kevin) “Now, those of you who still wish to shout, can shout at your own kids as they pass through Kadia; there are some gates you can use in the city down the coast! Except for YOU (as he pointed at one angry father), you can’t shout at your daughter that way; stress is bad for the baby! Otherwise there are plenty of guides available in Kadia! ”

That caused a bit of a stir, with the outraged father demanding to know who had impregnated his daughter?!?

(Kevin) “Isn’t that kind of her business?”

That left him (and a number of others) somewhat flustered – and wanting to make a quick departure to ask.

Raphael provided the captain with directions for sailing to Cyrweld. He considered warning them about the machines in Kadia – they were dreadfully intelligent – but then they weren’t really very big threats, even if they DID need more safeties!

Kevin didn’t bother setting up anything special in Kadia. There were plenty of guides, and plenty of things to see, and their Thrall-kids to meet – and about the worst thing they’d find there was the possibility of betting yourself into slavery – and you wouldn’t do that if you had a lick of sense. You had to work hard on that, or let a unicorn sucker you into joining it’s herd or some such.

Pesky parents, expecting him to keep track of individual kids… Fortunately, he could consult the computers! Oh well. Kadia could handle any outraged parental outbursts just fine! And if they just HAD to have their kids back they could always rent them! He’d even do a reasonable rate, since that just meant putting them on “local recruitment” assignments for a decade or so at most…

Meanwhile, the Bishop had headed back to Core at high speed to consult the other senior officials of the Unified Church. At least in his opinion they could no longer afford to stand neutral on the subject of Kevin Sanwell. At the very least, they would have to act as intermediaries between him and the other races of the galaxy!

In Cyrweld proper the Platypi were planning the details of their voyage… They’d been planning a zig-zagging route along the coast and between various islands to maximize their profits and pick up speciality items along the way before jumping off to one of the other continents, where they turn such goods into a much greater profit – A multi-legged trading voyage in the most classic style!

With more ships and reinforcements aboard, they could even afford to come closer to some of the pirate dens – the cesspool city known as Ventorga, the floating fortress Alabaster, and Hables, (a rival city-state to the north).

Kevin was beginning to wonder if they’d gotten all the results they were going to get from staying in one place and waiting for people to come to them. But that was the advantage of having an expert and a diviner in your party!

He promptly turned to Raphael to ask. Would another week or two give any slowpokes time to arrive? They didn’t exactly want to advertise their position (that would scream “Trap”!), but would a few more really big spells help? If it was any help, the Thralls could loan him mana, power, and magic!

That was an interesting point! Raphael had known that Kevin drew on his Thralls, but hadn’t really seen the extent to which that power could be shared with other masters once they were formally assigned… That wasn’t much help in this realm, but other realms made things a lot more difficult – and it would be an immense help there!

Marty went off on wedding planning again; he liked the kaiju ballet idea, but wasn’t quite sure of how to fit it in…

Meanwhile, the Thralls were closing down the rabbit-hunt. They’d only participated on a small scale – but they’d mostly gone after the kids and teenagers, who didn’t really need to be involved at all, while most of the other hunters had gone after bigger targets.

That had quickly collected the minors and the lower level rabbits who were still resisting. A small number of higher powered rabbits had eluded the hunt and escaped however – including the now notorious ring-leader.

Well, that was more or less the cities problem…

Kevin checked on what the Rabbits – and the rest of the City – wanted done with the prisoners. Was it going to be bounties? Taking them away? Selling them? Dramatic public executions?

The Rabbits were open to enslavement, banishment overseas, or execution. Their sentiment mainly came down to banishment for the fodder, enslavement for the officers and middle ranks that went along with it, and execution for the ringleaders. The city sentiment was leaning towards banishment and execution.

Kevin promptly offered to pay off as much as was reasonable of their damages and fines – and, if those didn’t exhaust his offer, to pay the rest towards help in rebuilding – in exchange for ownership of the cannon fodder, middle ranks, and offspring (who mostly went with their parents).

That raised some eyebrows – he had that much money and had a use for that many slaves? Didn’t he have more than enough slaves already? – but no one questioned it.

Some of the more practical ones did wonder… Did he want a different set to haul his palanquin every day of the week? Besides… former rebels, brigands, rogues, and such didn’t really make very good slaves!

Fortunately, of course, Kevin would be shipping them off to his operations elsewhere – except whoever had passed the “do what you please” order to the three who’d attacked the lion girl. If she wanted to use them for palanquin bearers, she needed a matched set of four!

Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 77

Jabba the Hutt as seen in the film Star Wars E...

Hutt it's a very good deal!

With Alys on the way back from her (involuntary) meeting with the Hutts, Ben and a young Sith headed for the depths of the city in search of clues to superweapons, Lazlo and Vi just back (from a brawl which would be reported as the largest riot on Alderaan since the last time Kira had been home), and Shipwreck and Handell missing (and presumed dead drunk), Kira was sensing lots of blank spots in the force popping up…

I looked out to the sky towards the voids I knew were coming this way. Already some of them were landing across the city and deploying who knows what. Personally, I felt there were three different possibilities: soldiers, Force predators, and powerful explosives or possibly nukes. Given the general indifference of the RDF to collateral damage and casualties, it was only a matter of time before the body count started climbing. We needed to do something to limit the damage and fast. But my ability to do much of anything on this large a scale was limited at best.

Wait a minute….

I asked Lazlo if it was possible for him to use the pyramid technique to share another technique across a large group of people. He wanted clarification as to what I had in mind and I then suggested that he use the pyramid technique to pull on the Force potential of much of the planet, and then use that power to increase the durability of everyone in the city against damage. After all, Leucross had been able to do something like that… That took him aback for a moment, and Lazlo announced that he would have to meditate on that idea for a few moments.

Ben’s reploid announced at this point that another one of his reploids was descending down the side of the canyon wall with a young Sith while pretending to be hunting superweapons. Ben wanted us to use him and the Sith as decoys to distract the RDF for the purposes of determining what they were bringing to the battle and possibly for manuevering them into a situation beneficial to us. He did announce that the RDF was heavily armed but conspicuously lacking in terms of grenades. Apparently these guys had done their homework on my tactical habits. Then Ben said he was getting shot at and stopped talking to us.

His young holosith charge had swallowed the notion that they needed the computer systems to locate his superweapon, and had taken the power and communications systems going out as an attempt to stop him.

That made it pretty easy to persuade him to bypass all security by leaping into the crevasse and using the force to control their fall. After all, if anything went wrong the emergency safety systems would stop them…

While jumping into the chasm and using the force to descend safely had first attracted only annoyed disapproval (for depleting emergency power reserves which might really be needed later on) from the locals, down below – interestingly, at the cable-based communications-and-power hub built into foundations of the city – there were rather a lot of people already.

Really heavily armed people. With some sort of hunting beasts along. And with personal body armor. And a distinct shortage of grenades…

Oh dear. They were jumping straight into an RDF task force. Wearing Kira masks. It was a good time to stop a level early…

The kid tried to mind control the entire mob. He wasn’t bad for an untrained kid – but he’d have had to be a near-god to control a couple of hundred men and a dozen force predators…

On the other hand, he’d certainly gotten their attention – and did manage to parry an entire fullisade of blaster bolts. Either he was better than even he had known, or very lucky there…

Well, these force predators didn’t seem to be gargantuanly powerful – but they were tough, strong, and fast enough to make it up the slanting walls of the city… NOT what he needed at the moment! He had to keep these bodies alive until the police had time to rescue his real body and arrest the Sith aboard his ship!

He rather desperately phased the wall – and let it snap back as the predators fell into it.

That was rather messy – and the internal pressure-wave shattered a good chunk of the wall. Even stresscrete had it’s limitations.

At least it helped him persuade his young charge to fall back. The RDF thought he was Kira anyway…

The RDF gave pursuit.

Alys had ducked for cover when the assault started… OK… There were a LOT more RDF troops on Alderaan than they’d given them credit for. How on earth had they gotten all those weapons and creatures in?

Oh, never mind that. Given stasis and the Codex, she could think of a dozen ways.

Ah, there it was! A steady stream of encrypted traffic from all over the city. That would be the RDF… A good thing Kira had gotten that military-quality encryption droid brain installed on her datapad… With that to help and her own talents, it didn’t take long to crack the encryption.

So the RDF was definitely tracking Kira – and the masks were giving them problems, although the force predators they had along made it easy to sort out the ones who were total pretenders…

Force predators? Oh dear. At least these seemed to be fairly minor creatures. Still, the whole operation seemed more to… chase Kira into a corner surrounded by predators than it was to kill him. Did they WANT him just jumping around the universe? Why? Kira always turned up with Valerie, and THAT wouldn’t help them… Wait; if an unbonded Hybrid jumped at random, where would… OH! So THAT was what they were up to! That made the plan of taking out the transport, power, and communications, and trying to “trap” Kira actually make some sense!

And to start… they’d overloaded the central power plant into shutdown, crashed a ship on the rim link to take it out, blown up the river link, and blasted the secondary power supplies. Still, even then a city on Alderaan had plenty of local backup power on the emergency systems. Almost nobody else in the galaxy – including quite a few places with hostile environments – provided protective backups like Alderaan…

Alys then came on the commlink and announced that she had broken the encryption algorithm on the RDF comm channel. How she managed to pull that off so quickly was an interesting question, but more relevant to the current moment was the fact that she was able to give us a good breakdown on the attackers and their plans. It looked like the basic plan the RDF was going for was to shutdown power, block off all transportation out of the city, and then trap me. Oddly the goal wasn’t to then unload massive amounts of firepower at that point, but to surround me with a number of Force predators and force me to drop out of the universe. Now why would they be trying that?

Wait, what if they think that I am teleporting around the same way a Codifier does? In which case such a plan would more than suffice to cause me to lose all connection to this Galaxy and drop out entirely even if I was using the Force to cheat a bit on the targeting. At which point I might well appear in the middle of space in some weird alternate timeline or something at least from their experience. Part of me still wasn’t sure that the idea of appearing in space as opposed to a planetary surface might be more mythical than real. At least it seemed to work that way in my experience. Still, that wasn’t how I was teleporting and the fact that the RDF hasn’t caught on to that fact was encouraging.

Still, why not go for the kill instead?

It looked like there were 3,224 attackers in the city now according to Alys. Most of them were divided up into teams either sweeping the city or going after critical pieces of infrastructure. The Force predators were apparently not on the same scale of the ones from Kharanoth I had fought, which was also a good thing. These were more on the scale of trained attack dogs with good speed, strength, and the ability to track Force sensitives. The attackers felt that any stray Force users killed accidently was too bad, any Jedi that got caught should have been trying to stop me, and good riddance to any Sith that got killed. That should at least keep the casualties the predators caused amongst the general populace down to a minimum, but meant we were going to have to hunt down and protect all the Force sensitives in the city. Oh crap, and that means that if Lazlo uses the pyramid technique to enhance everyone in the city, then we’ll only succeed at putting everybody on the menu.

At which point Lazlo came out of his meditation and announced that he thought is was more than possible, although he thought it much more benevolent to protect our attackers since they were the ones most likely to receive injury in the coming battle. As I caught his meaning, I couldn’t help but grin and nod my approval. Lazlo went back into his meditative trance and began to glow brightly as I could feel threads from across the planet converge on him before spreading out across the entire city. Then I felt several thousand Force potentials suddenly spring up wherever those threads attached to. Quickly the entire sky seemingly lit up with fireworks as chaos unfolded across the city and soldiers unloaded heavy weaponry wildly into the air.

Alys quickly confirmed that the Force predators the attackers had brought were rapidly turning on their handlers across the city. The fact that the handlers were all now far more durable than they had any right to be was only adding to the confusion and chaos breaking loose. We could hear from Alys’s relaying of the RDF communications traffic that there were many demands for explanations and requests for help among the soldiers. I couldn’t help but feel a bit mischievous again.

(Kira) Hey Alys?

(Alys) Yes?

(Kira) Can you insert a message stating that Kira has infiltrated the RDF strike teams? You can even include something about you can tell which one is him based on how invulnerable he is to injury.

(Alys) Oh I like it.

(Larson) Now that is just downright mean. I like it too.

Quickly enough the shooting and fireworks display intensified as the soldiers started using their own heavy weapons against the Force predators and each other. I was busily chuckling to myself over my own cleverness when the ground abruptly shook and I nearly fell to my knees. A quick look around quickly confirmed that whatever caused that had shaken most of the city. That was not good at all. Alys quickly located the epicenter of the blast to a warehouse near the power plant. Details were scarce to say the least, but all indications were that the warehouse had been thoroughly vaporized in that explosion. Was that a partial containment leak of the power plant vaporizing a nearby building? That wasn’t good to say the least. A reactor containment loss of that scale could put a significant hole in the city. And if the reactor has been damaged badly enough to begin losing containment….

Vi then announced he was going to the reactor to see what was going on. I told him it was too far to get to quickly even with Hypertime, but he waved it off and said he was going to teleport there instead. He can’t be serious, even with my skill with both the Force and the Codex, I don’t dare try to teleport using the Codifier technique. I tried to warn him of the dangers when Vi abruptly vanished in a puff of displaced air. Well, he either made it or not. I suppose we will find out soon enough.

Vi in fact was trying a variant on Ben’s “Ultimate Dodge” – essentially attempting to use the Force and Codex to control a microjump though hyperspace. He almost managed it too – winding up only a few hundred feet short.

That wasn’t as good as appearing out of nowhere to surprise everyone, but it did let him get a look at what was up.

There were a bunch of real techs under a couple of RDF guards off to one side – it looked like the RDF had arrived in a batch of heavily armored vans disguised as service techs, shut down the plant, and then captured the real tech’s who’d promptly been dispatched to fix it.

With hypertime and his various other abilities to draw on, defeating two normal guards was no real problem – and the techs could give him a rough count… It sounded like a couple of higher-ups, two heavily-armed Kreedath, and a few techs and soldiers.

He went in through the service corridors. That was easy enough. The repair techs had a bunch of droids with all the passcodes for the plant along.

Ah. There they were. Two command-types giving orders over the comms, the fellow faking the “temporary disruption, no reason for alarm” reports, and two… Kreedath?

No. Not Kreedath. Two fully-armed and equipped Infinite Empire Rakata Troopers. That explained where that massive blast had come from – and it was BAD. That pair outgunned every security officer put together in the city all by themselves.

He got into position and tried to take one out with a hyper-accelerated drug dart. That way it would punch through his body armor. It did – but the military automatic medical pack countered his drug. Fortunately, they hadn’t spotted his position – and his use of hypertime was letting him fire and shift before any normal human could react. Eventually the creatures would have to go down! He had more sedatives than a medical pack could possibly counter!

Unfortunately, he popped up to find that someone – possibly the Commander or Lieutenant, who were using hypertime themselves – had managed to get the direction of his next attack right. He managed to dodge most of the shot – but not even hypertime would let him fully avoid the corona-effects of a Rakata Blaster.

It blew a gasping hole in the wall and flung him hundreds of feet into the air above the river. He could use hypertime to generate enough thrust to direct and cushion the fall – but realized mere moments later that it would also make him a glowing, fabulously conspicuous, and unprotected target for every RDF fighter in the city.

He teleported again just ahead of the incoming shots – jumping aboard the incoming (thanks to Alys) Republic Command Ship.

Fortunately he had the JLA credentials to start giving some directions, even if they were mostly to contain the situation with a double-sided shield-englobement, to attempt stun-strafing of the “rioters”, and to beware of some REALLY high-powered weaponry that was in use.

Lazlo, meanwhile, was switching out the powers he was bestowing every time the RDF forces started to get used enough to them to use them effectively. Incredible toughness gave way to enhanced dodging, and then to jumping… It was very entertaining in a keystone cops kind of way!

Alys was busy getting into the communications channels – and countering the line that “no help was needed” that the RDF communications specialist was putting out. Fortunately, she was far more persuasive than the RDF comm officer.

In the meantime I figured someone had to be directing all of these soldiers. And that meant there was someone in charge somewhere and they probably were Codex users. If we could decapitate this operation and get the power back on, then we might be able to rout this ambush completely. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of Force noise and chaos around us was making it incredibly difficult to tell much of anything going on right now.

(Kira) Alys, someone has to be directing this operation. Any idea where they are?

(Alys) Been working on compiling a list. Looks like eight command staff and two special advisors.

(Kira) Special advisors?

(Alys) Difficult to determine who they are. They aren’t RDF though and they are making the general soldiers nervous. Despite being allies, the general sentiment seems to be that the advisors blew up several of the soldiers when they couldn’t get their pet under control in a timely fashion. That apparently was the warehouse.

(Kira) You can’t be serious.

(Alys) Afraid so. Looks we have one officer providing technical assistance for the operation. Two directing the Force predator teams. Another two responsible for the secondary power links to the rest of Alderaan. Then we have an Overall Commanding Officer down at the power plant along with a second lieutenant of some sort. Both of the special advisors are down by the power plant too.

At that point another explosion rocked the city as a blast struck the opposing canyon wall. That easily looked like a capital ship level blast that came from within the city itself. So unless someone was hiding a Star Destroyer in the city, someone was using Rakata weaponry inside the city. That was not good.

(Kira) Alys….

(Alys) That came from the power plant.

(Kira) I’m enroute now. Get the military down here NOW!

(Alys) Understood.

(Larson) What are you doing?

(Kira) I’m going to stop the idiots from using those weapons inside the city.

Alys, from her booth two levels up, broke into the republic military communications as well (which they found annoying), and was busily relaying information and calculating… Full-power Rakata rifles fired blasts on the level of star destroyer primaries! They’d presumably fired at low power, but they were still incredibly lucky that all that had blown up was a warehouse…

Wait. Maybe it wasn’t just luck. Safety Fields… A safety field was simply a low-powered shield generator. She’d assumed that the way everything was over-engineered on Alderaan was just their usual “absolute safety” idea in action – but the power supplies were over-engineered as well, and every system had a built-in power reserve, and the multitude of projectors which made it possible to shape and control the fields on the fly could be stacked instead of being used for finely-controlled shaped fields…

And the cities hypermatter reactor was absurdly over-engineered as well.

If Crevasse City had an instants warning, and some presets on the system controls… It might be able to survive the planet blowing up. “Blending into the environment” and “unobtrusive” could just as easily be read as “camouflaged” and “buried in the planetary crust”. No wonder the damage was so… contained.

Their planetary shields were among the best in the galaxy too. Any weapon which could threaten Alderaan would make short work of almost any other planet in the galaxy. Massive defenses hidden in plain sight…

Ben, meanwhile, had been steering his charge towards the power plant (on the premise that restoring power would allow the research to begin) while body-jumping to pass on requests to the planetary security forces that they board and recapture his ship.

Unfortunately, he’d recognized a blast from a Rakata weapon easily – and he definitely didn’t need that going off in any city he was in! Even remotely!

Still, if he could restore power, the security systems should swing the edge back to the local cops… He couldn’t bring in a ship though, and – as amusing as the idea was – he couldn’t run an extension cord to the Mrs Beasley even with a hypertunnel.

Wait a moment. What about with a codex gate or overlay? Not to the Mrs Beasley – but to another Alderaan… Crevasse City had many times the power it actually needed available; all he had to do was reach a major power-cable nexus and set up a gate to borrow some of it from an alternate version!

Besides, it was something to do besides frantically dodge badly-distracted RDF troopers and their frothing little force-predator pets… That had to be Lazlo. Only he would find a way to empower thousands of people, use it to grant marvelous bonuses to his enemies, and then sit back and drink tea and innocently watch as all those benefits and enhancements somehow added up to total catastrophe.

A major power nexus wasn’t hard. . They’d been fairly near the power plant anyway.

Ben focused on creating a gateway-overlay to another, very similar, Alderaan – thus linking their two power systems together – as “Darth Kiddeous” looked on and speculated about ways to turn the gate-effect into a superweapon.

With that I ignored his protests as I ran off down the street towards the power plant. There was no way I was going to be able to make it to the power plant in a timely fashion and in condition to fight even using Hypertime to speed things up. Running simply wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to move faster than that and the bike was still back at the spaceport. No choice then, I’ve always wondered why Jedi and Sith never tried this despite what seemed to me like a natural enough thing to try. So I leapt into the air, grasped myself telekinetically and pushed forward. That worked to some extent, although gravity reasserted itself quickly enough. A few more leaps and pushes quickly worked out that I needed to push upwards at an angle to keep my flight level. With that worked out, I quickly mastered steering and speed as I flew along the streets at higher and higher speeds.

Judicious use of wraithing enabled me to fly downwards at an angle to take me to the power plant, and soon I was on the right level but still several kilometers away horizontal. Then another bright flash from another weapons blast blinded me for a moment. Not wanting to delay my progress any, I kept going at full speed above the street. Besides, the streets were clear of vehicles because of the festival, and the people had largely retreated indoors. It wasn’t like there were going to be any….

CRACK

I struck something hard, then went rolling through the street. By the time I finally stopped, I was face first in the pavement with my legs dangling over my head and my ears were ringing.

Son of a bitch.

Luckily it looks like my durability enhancement kicked in just in time to prevent serious injury. I was busily righting myself when I heard a female voice.

(Voice) Are you alright? Did you get thrown from a crash or something?

(Kira) I’m fine, just a little dazed for the moment. That bright flash of light caught me off guard.

(Voice) It almost looked like you went through that tree there! I don’t see any other cars though! You shouldn’t be driving during the festival anyway! And don’t you know you should be indoors right now?! You should go see a doctor! By the way, that is a really expensive looking Kira costume you have there!

Something about this chatterbox sounded familiar. Finally getting into a sitting position, I looked up at who was speaking to me.

(Kira) Ashley Tremsel?

(Ashley) KIRA?!

In what was probably a historic moment for Alderaan, Ashley actually was at a loss for something to say. As proud as I might have been under other circumstances, I had other priorities that actually mattered right now. Getting up and brushing myself off, I waved as I floated up into the air and continued my flight towards the power plant.

I was able to close that last distance quickly. It looked like whatever was going on in the canyon was doing nicely at distracting everyone from the flying blur zooming over the streets. Getting a view of the power plant, I saw Ben and what looked to be some kid dressed as a HoloSith standing over a power conduit. From what I could see, Ben seemed to be struggling with some sort of portal. Landing next to him, I was quickly able to gather that he was trying to open one instead of close one and so I thrust my hand at the gateway as I threw my power into assisting Ben with the effort. That caused the rippling gateway to smooth and stabilize. Oddly enough there didn’t seem to be any difference looking through the portal as opposed to around it. I was about to ask Ben what he was trying to do when the kid shoved a lightsaber into the portal.

A lightsaber was a spacefield effect, drawing most of it’s power from dark energy – and leaking a portion of that energy across the interface that defined the “volume” of the blade. Shoved into a transdimensional portal, a nearly two dimensional cross section of the blade existed in each universe transversed – and the rate of radiant energy leakage was inversely proportional to the distance over which the potential dropped off.

Nearly two-dimensional “slices” of the blade meant that that distance approached zero – and the rate of energy loss approached infinity, multiplied by countless trillions of universes.

With virtually no dark energy left in the volume of the blade, the expansive force of the cosmological constant became an implosive force – and the flood of radiant energy from nowhere that was causing power blowouts across countless Alderaans cut off as the lighsaber, and the hand holding it, were crushed into neutronium and beyond. The “implosion” shockwave in the structure of space was detectable light-hours away.

That caused some sort of weird IMPLOSION that yanked me off my feet but left me unharmed. Getting back to my feet AGAIN, I saw that there was now a crater in the ground under the portal. The kid was standing there looking dumbfounded at the severed stump of his arm. Ben and the kid started arguing about the prudence of shoving fields inside each other when I noticed the power start coming back on around the city. Ben seemed insufferably pleased with himself at that, but I was more concerned with whoever was using Rakata weapons nearby and how that explosion was likely to bring attention to this location.

True to my predictions, I saw what looked like two Rakata or Kreedath stumbling through a hole in the reactor building. I figured that they were going to start shooting at us, but I was amazed when the two of them began to run for the river. I gave chase, but the first one pulled out a Rakata rifle, pointed it at the river and fired. That threw large amounts of steam, rubble, and water into the air and forced me to stop and block the blast wave.

The first Rakata then leapt into the maelstorm that was formerly the river as the second one hobbled along to follow. Moving in Hypertime to get behind him, he reacted to my presence as he whirled around to point the rifle at me. I easily grabbed the rifle and tore it out of his hands. As he reared back to punch me, I pulled out the subspace lance and jammed it into his ribs. That immediately froze him in place and he began to topple over backwards. Using telekinesis to cushion his fall, I then went to the edge of the river to see what happened to the other one.

At first I had thought he had blown a hole in the bottom of the river to reach some hidden underground facility or something, but then I had seen that instead he had just leapt into the hole and was laying still as the water and rubble filled in the void he had blasted into the river bottom. Probing harder with the Force, I could tell that what limited signature I could sense from a Rakata had vanished entirely. What was going on? Something just seemed off about the scenario somehow. I found it hard to believe that the Rakata could actually use the reploid technology that Ben had been using.

Not wanting to approach the Rakata for fear of a trap, I pulled out a knife and threw it at him. It sunk into his shoulder and stuck as the Rakata failed to take any notice of the injury. Almost like he had died or something.

Wait a minute

I slapped my forehead for being so stupid. The Rakata were relying on stasis fields and probably some sort of a short range transmitter system to hide and await rescue from the rest of their people. Well, I wasn’t going to give him the chance to be rescued. Reaching out the Force, I started telekinetically pulling rubble and such out of the way as I then extracted the Rakata out of the river. Setting him down on the ground next to me, I then put one of our stasis belts on him, and removed his own for the time being. Retrieving the two Rakata weapons, I removed the power cells and made sure the damned things were thoroughly discharged.

The two RDF Codex users that were supposedly were in the area were conspicuously absent though. Two Codex users powerful enough to be in command and two Rakata armed with Infinite Empire weaponry could readily threaten to do enough damage to kill me even with Ben and Vi’s support. The worst they could do from their perspective is force me to drop out of the universe to dodge the attacks. Wait, was that what the Force predators were for? To sever enough of my links to this Galaxy so that I would be unable to find my way back? That would certainly work for most anyone to prevent them from ever returning. That also had ominous implications for my friends, family, and Valerie. At least as long as the RDF is unaware of the Bond, Valerie should be relatively safe as only a tangential concern in the RDF’s mind. Still, this just reinforced the fact that I had to track my friends and family down now and not get too distracted with side issues.

This still left the damned issue of not knowing where to look. For all of our spectacular success at turning this ambush into a rout on our attackers, we didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. Recognizing that my frustrations were getting the better of me, I shifted to the Codex side and ran some of the meditations. After that I called Alys.

(Kira) Alys, I am going to need pickup on two captured Rakata down here. One in stasis, another frozen via subspace. Any word on where the RDF commanders have run off to?

(Alys) Looks like they’ve gone to ground. We’ve been busily rounding up the soldiers and Force predators. Since the power came back on the shields and other protection systems throughout the city have been deploying and restraining the soldiers so that the police can pick them up with ease. It’s an impressive system.

That system was also one I have found deeply disturbing on a number of levels for years now. The fact that the system has only been used for benign purposes thus far did little to quell the fact that the authorities could readily stamp out dissent at a moments notice. Given how ubiquitous the system was, there was little that could be done about it without heavy firepower, unusual abilities, or leaving the planet. The first was banned on the planet, the second was rare, and the third option was more or less what was left to those uncomfortable with the system. Increasingly these days I was beginning to think that this planet wasn’t what I wanted to consider home.