Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 74

Exploding Planet with The Gimp 2.4.6

All right, now back down the power just a bit...

When Ben made it back to the Mrs Beasley, he wanted help planning the rescue of his clones in the face of what we’ve learned about the planetary defenses.

Well, in light of the fact that they were cloning Bens, and Lazlo’s, and Rakata, and would probably soon be cloning Bioweapon Jacob’s, the place had moved up the priority list quite a ways.

The orbital defenses looked to be pretty tight from what we were able to determine, and the shields were strong enough to be a bother. The obvious solution was to hypertunnel the planet to a location of our choosing where we might be able to set up a favorable situation ahead of time. That would play to our strengths and give us the element of surprise when it came to trying to crack the defenses.

Trouble was with finding a suitable location to move the planet to. Two hundred light years was a bit further than we wanted to move a planet with significant life-support infrastructure, so Republic space was out of the question. That left choosing between different Sith factions nearby in the hopes of finding one that wasn’t outright hostile to us and yet not friendly to the faction we were stealing a planet from.

That limited the choices significantly. Looking at the Galactic map and overlaying a sphere with a radius equal to the distance Ben and Smoche thought we could transport a planet narrowed the options even further. Glaive space was one option as it was sure to not have any significant organized defenses to interfere, but it was also certain that at least one or two Glaives would inevitably try to make a near suicidal assault on the Mrs Beasley for the sheer rush they would get. Even with as much power and equipment as we had, I still wasn’t keen on taking on Glaives if I didn’t have to.

That largely left the corporate sector as the only option. They would likely stay out of the fight except to participate on the side of the highest bidder, but I suspect that we would be able to prove ourselves able to outbid an otherwise stranded planet in the middle of not very friendly territory. At which point we could pay the corporate bunch to assist us with bringing down the planetary shields and collecting the inhabitants. That left how to arrange our forces.

On our side we had a significant fleet these days. All the salvaged ships we had accumulated from the Droid Galaxy and elsewhere were more or less fully repaired and operational. Most of the ships weren’t quite on the same scale as the typical star destroyer, but then again we had the Mrs Beasley on our side. Trouble was looking like it was going to be the crews needed. At the moment we were getting by with large numbers of droids to fill in for a massive manpower issue on our part. I’ve been in enough battles with droid armies and droid crews to realize this was a less than ideal situation to say the least.

So letting the Mrs Beasley hypertunnel the planet on top of our fleet was a less than ideal ambush to say the least. We were likely to lose a lot of ships or even risk the Sith escaping under that scenario. We really needed to have the Mrs Beasley supporting the fleet for it to have any chance or to get real crews for the ships instead. Crews of the size we needed that we could trust were not going to be readily available on such sort notice. That meant the Mrs Beasley had to be with the fleet itself then. I suppose we could take the fleet with the Mrs Beasley to the system and just forget about the hypertunnel process, but that had it’s own issues with ensuring the fleet made it through all the hyperspace jumps without disappearing. I suppose the Mrs Beasley could just tow them all.

Hmm, could we do the reverse? Instead of hypertunnelling an asteroid field in to replace a planet, replace an asteroid field with a planet? Smoche and Ben both immediately began running calculations and scenarios regarding the proposal with much heated discussion going between the two of them. It was determined that the best odds of figuring odds of success was to set up the system for an attempt and then letting Ben run his Early Edition technique against the idea. They immediately began to set things up to run such a test when I decided I wanted independent verification of the odds.

Sitting down, I assumed a meditative position and went into a trance. Reaching out with the Force, I began to probe the future for visions of our attempt to move the planet. With that information in hand, I would then feed the information to my Probability Analysis to give better context for the visions I was seeing. Using that context, I could then probe the future again with more detail on what exactly I was wanting clarification on. Looping the two techniques was exhausting, and it helped not to loop too many times or else I would find myself in a tangle of logic and causality that was difficult to unwind. It wasn’t omniscience by any means, but it certainly gave me more detail and accuracy than either a Codifier or a Jedi could achieve alone.

One thing stood out as immediately obvious: we weren’t going to get all the cities this way. Why we were going to lose some of the cities wasn’t exactly clear though. I immediately brought this up with Ben and Smoche and they again started chattering excitedly about subspace, Force shielding, and all sorts of weird ways to interfere with hypertunnelling effects. Something told me they were barking up the wrong tree though. We’ve seen something like this before, where trying to establish a remote hypertunnel connection ends up going haywire with unintended results. That was the office building incident now that I think about it.

That ended up going awry because the office building was full of hyperdrive coils for various lab testing purposes. It ended up burning out the main hyperdrive on that star destroyer from the huge energy sink involved. Could something like that be happening here? But it would take very large hyperdrive coils to interfere significantly with the Mrs Beasley’s hyperdrive and power system. A few ships in port wasn’t going to be enough. It would need a hyperdrive on the scale of a star destroyer or super star destroyer’s to make a dent. But why would those cities have hyperdrive coils like that laying around?

The only option that immediately came to mind was the idea that this may have been another secret Rakata base and I was indirectly deducing the presence of a number of star breakers hidden underneath the cities. That would certainly explain why the Rakata paid for a cloning operation here, but it seemed difficult to believe that the Sith would be involved in crewing Star Breakers hidden on their own planet, unknowingly or not. But I was having issues coming up with any other possibility that made much sense. So I presented the idea to Smoche and Ben again.

Ben immediately piped up with the observation that the cities were giant arcologies spread across an otherwise inhospitable planet in an arrangement that neatly created an interlocking planetary shield. I thought this a natural response to the fact it was a hostile planet ideally suited to preventing escapees from building a significant movement and technological base. Ben then argued I was missing the point as he pulled up a holo of one of the arcologies on the display. He then pointed out how little their locations had to do with natural resources, how identical they all were, how there was no reason to sit on a planet at all instead of building a space installation if you were going to build in an unlivable environment – and, again, how well sealed the arcology was against the environment,

Again, I thought this self-evident given how hostile the planet’s environment was, but then I realized what he was getting at. There weren’t hidden Infinite Empire bases underneath the cities, the cities were actually ships themselves. The contours didn’t look like anything I had seen regarding Star Breakers or any other Infinite Empire weapons, so they were probably dated from more recent times with a more “benign” intent. If those arcologies really were ships, then they could readily relocate their operations to another world almost at the drop of the hat. Ben then started digging through the Republic records and found that this particular world was settled about 450 years ago. On a hunch, I asked if there were any records of a group of cloners getting into serious trouble in the years immediately prior to then and we got the answer back of yes.

Interesting. So they’d just wanted a planet to park on, and it being unlivable just meant that it had no people or creatures to argue with.

It was also vexing on a number of levels. The planet wasn’t what we were after, it was Ben’s clones and all those Rakata they were making that were the priority and those seemed to be located in the arcology ships. So we needed to capture the ships. And that meant assaulting the planet directly and interdicting all their attempts to leave. Ben’s notion of landing a team on the planet and sabotaging twenty hyperdrives before the locals caught on was ludicrous at best. We would be lucky to get one or two at best, let alone twenty. No, we needed to be smarter about this attack than just charging in guns blazing.

It was Ben’s proposal that we place large stasis fields on top of the shields with enough range to be able to stasis the ship underneath as well. Meanwhile the Mrs Beasley could provide cover using the massive ion cannon to blast any and all opposition into submission. Offhand I didn’t see any issues with this proposal beyond the vagaries of battle against other precognitives, so I gave my assent. Ben immediately had the droids and technicians begin fabricating the stasis fields for us while Handell plotted a course to take the Mrs Beasley into the Galaxy. We determined it was probably best to come in from the edge of the Galaxy and move inwards, keeping our route through inhabited space as short as possible to avoid stirring up too much panic.

So off we went to rescue a bunch of… engineers, from their imprisonment in… comfortable offices, working for bosses who didn’t appreciate them and thought of them as interchangeable resources.

If THAT was all it took to qualify for a rescue, we’d be rescuing half the galaxy. If it wasn’t for the Rakata – and the prospect of Bioweapon Jacobs – this wouldn’t be a very high priority, no matter WHAT Ben wanted.

I spent the travel time working with Darius on the initial steps of his training. First we focused on the deficiencies in his Codex training by filling in more of the basics of the Codifier training and explaining the importance of bonds. Once we got that problem fixed, we began work on the basic philosophy of the Force. I started that with an explanation of the various positions of the Jedi, the Sith, the Hedi, and Arethi. I explained the pitfalls of using the Force for attack or for personal gain as illustrated by the example of Jarik. I then reiterated the dangers of obsession and letting your emotions get out of control as evidenced by the Sith and Artificers. In my mind, the Force was best suited to defense of the self and others. In fact, it seemed the Force actively encouraged this role given the ease with which the temporary boosts of power came to me these days.

With the basic philosophy out of the way, we began simple exercises in using the rudimentary techniques. His progress was slow, about on par with my own progress with the Force before I got my own lightsaber. It was in watching him go through one of the training exercises involving predicting sequences of lights that Telera had suggested that I found myself thinking back to my time at the Academy. It was obvious that there had been a fundamental shift in how rapidly my training in the Force progressed around the timeframe I got my lightsaber. I had dismissed it as the lightsaber serving as some sort of catalyst, but in hindsight it was probably around then that I Bonded with Valerie. Why then, I don’t really understand.

For good or for ill though, Darius didn’t have a bondmate to accelerate his progress. That would probably give him more time to let the training sink in before his power became too much for him to handle without it. I was torn between letting him tag along with me though. I suspect it would accelerate his progress significantly but it would also put him in greater danger as well. I certainly wasn’t going to be able to protect him all the time either. It would probably be prudent then to work on teaching him to defend himself adequately and then giving him the choice. To that end I presented him with the shield I had the droids fabricate similar to my own.

(Darius) A shield? I thought Jedi and Sith used lightsabers while JLA and RDF used blasters.

(Kira) True, and if you will turn it on and hold it out in front of you, I will demonstrate why it is a useful thing to have.

He did as instructed hesitantly, although I had to correct his bracing of the shield to ensure he had a better grip on it. Once he was in position, I stepped backwards in hypertime, fired a single shot at the shield, and then charged in with a lightsaber swipe against the shield itself. As expected, the blaster bolt bounced off and hit the ceiling harmlessly, while the shield neatly stopped my swing as he instinctively braced against the impact. I hadn’t put any real power behind my swing, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to illustrate that the shield could help him defend against both sets of attacks.

(Darius) You didn’t tell me you were going to attack me!

(Kira) Darius, if I had meant to attack you, you’d be dead. I was purposefully attacking the shield to demonstrate a point. And that point is that the shield is incredibly useful in countering attacks from most types of weapons you are going to face. It also doesn’t require nearly as much skill as a lightsaber to use effectively.

(Darius) Again you push the idea of defense. How do you defeat the enemy by turtling all the time?

(Kira) Because sometimes not losing is a form of winning. How do you think I’ve managed to avoid being caught by tens of thousands of bounty hunters all this time? It’s not by leaving tens of thousands of corpses in my wake. And I also have enabled my companions to achieve victory countless times because the enemy was focused solely on me. My power isn’t some ability to slay thousands with my mind or some such nonsense, it’s to be the shield others need in times of crisis.

(Darius) Yet there is a war going on and you sit here in this immense ship living the comfortable life.

(Kira) I can’t be everywhere saving everyone. My ability to make a difference in the war with the Yeveetha is marginal in my estimations. All I would accomplish is to draw more Yeveetha to whatever world it is I happen to be on until they finally overwhelmed me. What would that achieve?

(Darius) Yet you’re going after cloners because they are mistreating their clones.

(Kira) Ben is. I am willing to help him because I think we can do it and I have my own reasons for it.

(Darius) Such as?

(Kira) They are cloning Rakata.

(Darius) I thought they were an archaic form of Kreedath?

(Kira) Indeed, and it was the Rakata that ruled the Infinite Empire long ago. They were able to maintain their hold on the Galaxy because they can make superweapons such as the Star Breakers work.

(Darius) What? They have some secret technology or something no one else does that is ingrained in their DNA or something? That’s ridiculous.

(Kira) No, they have a monotalent that makes them and an area around themselves immune to the Censor.

(Darius) I think I remember Virstris mentioning the Censor before. She said it was why Gab can’t remember I am a Codex user.

(Kira) The Censor is an effect of the Galactic Force. It finds certain concepts and technologies to be particularly disruptive and so it prevents people from thinking of those ideas. It also actively disrupts technologies that could pose a serious threat, like self replicating droid armies, planet sterilizers, or the Codex. Codex users like yourself are immune to the effects of the Censor by nature of the Codex’s opposition to the Force. Rakata are also immune to the censor – and can shield weapons against the Censor too. To put it simply, the Rakata can prevent superweapons from malfunctioning in the first place by their very presence.

(Darius) That’s bad.

(Kira) Indeed, and that is why I am keen on helping Ben rescue his clones. Because I want to stop the cloners from making more Rakata.

Finally satisfied with that explanation, we continued the training some more. Virstris helped out a bit with the defensive training and Telera continued to provide suggestions regarding basic Force exercises beyond the ones taught to me by the Varen. Valerie would just silently watch during the training sessions from time to time before going about her own business. About all I could feel from her was a sense of curiosity.

Soon enough we were about to arrive in the target system. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do for this except to stand around the bridge and be available in case of something needing me. Darius came to the bridge to watch the coming battle as did most of the rest of the group. We then dropped out of hyperspace in the system and engaged the interdiction field as planned. Attempts by the Cloners to hail us were ignored by Ben as the Mrs Beasley lumbered towards the planet. There were ineffectual attempts by the orbital defenses and some fighters to assault the Mrs Beasley, but the shields proved more than capable of handling the attack.

Once we were positioned over the first shield generator, the Mrs Beasley began firing it’s ion cannon at all available targets while the first stasis generator deployed. As it got into position and activated, we quickly deployed the second stasis generator through the hole in the shields where the first shield generator had been running. That quickly netted us a second cityship as suddenly the other eighteen took off from the planet in an attempt to escape us. Unfortunately for them, our interdiction field was still going strong as they attempted to escape via slow drive. Given that the size of our interdiction field was measured in lightyears, that was going to be a very slow escape indeed.

On the other hand… the things had substantially more acceleration than the Mrs Beasley as far as normal space went. That was bad.

Surprisingly, there was an attempt made to assault the Mrs Beasley by a small force of military ships followed by three of the cityships. It was amusing to imagine the surprise on their faces as the Mrs Beasley displayed an ability to rotate about it’s center far more rapidly than most people would have expected as it rotated into position to fire it’s ion cannon at the attackers. Amazingly they still managed to get some damage through the shields to hit the top layers of the hull, for all the good that did them. That got us another three cityships in our possession and a small fleet of military vessels added to our collection. That still left us with fifteen city ships still attempting to run away.

Wait, had the attackers been sacrificed just to buy the rest time to get out of range?

(Virstris) No wonder the Republic military is cranky with you guys having this ship.

Watching the decidedly one-sided battle unfold, I had to agree. At least the military could recognize that we were being rather benign with it as opposed to what a HoloSith would be trying to do with the Mrs Beasley. The fifteen remaining ships had split up into two groups: nine were moving to get behind a gas giant world, and six were heading out of the system as fast as their engines would move them. I figured the ones moving behind the gas giant were trying to hide their course by using the planet as a screen, while the ones heading out of the system I figured were hoping to outrun us. I was expecting us to give chase when Ben had Handell take us over to the local asteroid belt.

At first I thought he meant to swap asteroids with the fleeing ships in order to drag them back to us, but Smoche informed me that the Mrs Beasley couldn’t hypertunnel through it’s own interdiction field. Ben then had the remaining stasis generators attached to asteroids and had the Mrs Beasley begin throwing the asteroids at the remaining ships using tractor beams. While this was going on, the Cloners hailed us and asked for our demands.

Again Ben led the proceedings as he demanded the hyperdrives, the Ben clones, the Kreedath, and the Sith. There was much back and forth going on with threats, bluffs, posturing, negotiating, and statements that our demands were unreasonable. While negotiations were going on though, Ben continued to have the Mrs Beasley work on capturing more of the cityships – without that much success. Once the asteroids being thrown were away from the Mrs Beasley and on inertial courses, it was no great trick for any kind of precog to work out how to dodge.

We could destroy or capture several ships – but they were holding a lot of hostages, and knew it.

Eventually they came back with a counter offer to give us the Bens, the Kreedath, the ships we had already captured and some of their crews, while those ships not captured would be allowed to leave with a prohibition against cloning the Kreedath for one hundred years. By this point we had captured another two cityships and my own talents were telling me that this deal was likely to be honored – and that a battle would risk losing what we wanted to get.

(Kira and company) Deal.

While it was disappointing to not get a total capture, this was still a reasonable victory considering the goals we had started out with. There was a lengthy exchange of prisoners and crews with the pretty much mandatory tense moments. With that done, we collected our spoils of battle and took off towards the rim of the Galaxy again. We made sure to keep all the Rakata in stasis while letting the Bens free inside the ship. The Bens were not pleased to find out that they were now in the possession of Kira Keldav and Ben Therus aboard the Mrs Beasley. Apparently we were major Dark Sith Lords in their minds out to do some sort of horrific experiment on them. Ben’s attempts to explain simply resulted in more of them lamenting now being on the biggest target in the Galaxy. Oh well, I’ll leave that one to Ben to figure out.

The Rakata were proving to be a more difficult matter. Those released from stasis under carefully controlled circumstances were adamant about their need to escape so that they might find their true owners. This led to the revelation that they were aware that the ones who placed the order for them was the originals. We also determined that while we had several hundred thousand Rakata in our possession, they came from only 152 distinct progenitors. That neatly lined up with the number of Rakata we think were retrieved from the Furipede world. Part of me had to wonder where the Rakata had come up with the funding for this in such a sort time and if there might be more cloning facilities out there making more.

Sadly, as tempting as locking them in stasis for the rest of eternity would be, their talents would be incredibly useful in helping to repel a Final Empire invasion. It might also be that only the Rakata can readily maintain the Star Breakers that would make up a significant part of that defense. And for that we would need their cooperation. At least this batch didn’t have the insufferable superiority complex of the originals; they knew they were clones and were used to lectures from other species. Perhaps we can negotiate from the standpoint of the fact that the Galaxy needs defended from extra-dimensional invaders and the Final Empire in particular is intent on exterminating their species. Oh well, something to ponder until I have a good angle of attack on the problem.

Ben was a bit worried… The local year was only about four months on that planet – although thirty normal length years was still a good break – but they’d just taken aboard the largest known collection of superweapon designers and operators in the galaxy. Just how much fear and chaos was THAT going to cause?

Oh well! He still had some experiments to try… He’d determined quickly enough that stasis fields were not additive – but he wanted to try making a second-stage stasis bubble around an asteroid in normal time with some plants and lights and things.

That got messy… He set it up, checked the possible results with Early Edition – and found that there were a wide variety of apparently random outcomes. Dropping the fields to find nothing at all there, finding a temporal catastrophe, finding the asteroid just as it had been, getting a huge explosion or some random junk – and possibly even creating his own subspecies of possibly-dangerous vampire plants.

Wait, would the plants just run on personal time until energy starvation, then… fall out of the universe, tap into the local stars directly, or get more time?

Blast! There was something he was missing!

I was verifying the stasis systems in place around the Rakata a second time when I got a call on the intercom.

(Targus) Kira Keldav, we are receiving a transmission from the JLA, I expect that it is in relation to the matter we had discussed. Meet me in the conference room indicated on your PDA.

(Kira) On my way.

I sensed that Valerie seemed to respond to the sudden shift in my mood as she immediately started heading towards me as well from whatever it was she was doing. She beat me there as I saw Nimh and Targus had also arrived. Nimh took a seat up near the front of the conference room much to Targus’s consternation while Valerie quietly slinked back into one of the corners of the room. Finally Targus gave up on trying to get Nimh to leave as he opened the communications channel. Immediately a holographic representation of a Republic Fleet Admiral appeared in the room.

(Admiral) Greetings, I am Fleet Admiral Dirk Haggins. I presume you are Kira Keldav?

(Kira) Indeed I am.

(Admiral) Then I will get right to the point. Yes, as you were able to deduce, our group were the ones that took your family and friends into custody. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

(Kira) Now why did I have the feeling that this was going to be your answer?

(Admiral) Yes well, we had taken them into custody once it became apparent that you were in fact a Hybrid. We’ve found that the odds of a family member or a close friend being a Hybrid increase substantially when one of them is.

(Kira) Makes sense since all evidence points to Codex and Force potential running in families. So who took them? The Sith or the RDF?

(Admiral) All indications are that they were taken by the RDF. We had determined that at least two of them were showing signs of monotalents and a third probably had some Codex potential. With that knowledge in mind, we had relocated them to a military facility far from the war front for safe keeping and basic training in how to use their talents and protect themselves against the more dangerous side effects.

(Kira) And then….

(Admiral) We lost contact with the asteroid facility some four months later, or about five months ago now. Our investigations found that the entire asteroid complex had been vaporized with signs of a significant battle amongst most of the remaining debris. All evidence is that the RDF deployed a Star Breaker against the facility to hide all traces.

I about fell out of my chair in shock. Valerie wasn’t doing much better in hiding it on her side either. I hadn’t even thought it possible that the RDF would use a Star Breaker right now, much less against a Republic Military facility. What in the Galaxy did those nuts actually think I was capable of if they felt the need to assault a Republic Naval base with a superweapon just to get my family? It felt like my entire mind and body had gone numb.

(Nimh) They used a superweapon against a Republic Naval facility?

(Admiral) Indeed.

(Kira) Is the Senate aware of this?

(Admiral) Not generally no, a few of the relevant subcommittees have been informed, but we are trying to keep this under wraps. I will inform you that all indications from our own Hybrids and what we’ve been able to learn from the Jedi investigation indicates that your family and friends are alive. Intelligence analysis suggests that the RDF intends to use them as hostages against you.

(Kira) Just great, so now my family is in the hands of a group of nutjobs that not only are in possession of superweapons, but have actually used them against people supposedly their allies?

(Admiral) Unfortunately that is the case. It is because of this incident that we have stepped up our efforts to find and destroy those weapons where we can. We cannot risk a civil war breaking out at this time, let alone one with weapons of such destructive power. I hope you understand, we were rather reluctant to inform you of this matter.

(Kira) Let me guess, because I am in possession of superweapons of my own, know how to build more, am Sith trained, in possession of what is likely one of the most versatile and powerful combination of talents possible in this Galaxy, and known for having significant issues with authority?

(Admiral) Well yes, that would be correct on all counts.

(Kira) Tell me, the RDF spoke of a Hybrid from 3,000 years ago that really seems to have them spooked. Can you tell me why and what it has to do with me?

(Admiral) I shall consult the records… (After a few minutes pause) Most likely one Levi Trapolian, an independent Hybrid such as yourself that had begun to travel the multiverse. Apparently he began experimenting with a technique to cooperate with himself across dimensions on certain tasks.

(Kira) Let me guess, spreading the damage of an attack across multiple versions of himself so that each one only had to tank a portion of the attack?

(Admiral) Yes and other related techniques designed to multiply his power. We won’t teach you the technique though if that is what you are after, it tends to have it’s own issues as a matter of course.

(Kira) Offhand I would imagine multiple personality disorder, disorientation, hallucination, and really weird obsessions.

(Admiral) Yes, that would pretty much sum it up.

(Kira) Part of me wonders if that would cause a merging of timelines.

(Admiral) That may well be impossible to verify.

(Kira) Regardless, I have no intention of learning that skill. And you would probably be pleased to note that my powers are plateauing. Some practice with individual techniques might help me, but my general powers seem to have reached their limit in strength.

(Admiral) That is good, no offense, but we really don’t think it wise for any one person to have nigh limitless power. It tends to lead to bad scenarios for all involved.

(Kira) I think I must agree.

With that the Admiral gave his regards and then ended the transmission. Nimh and Targus immediately got up and left the conference room leaving me to trace lines in the wood of the table with my finger as I thought about what I had just learned. After an indeterminate amount of silence, Valerie sat next me and I could hear her speak over the Bond.

<Valerie> You taking this more maturely than I had anticipated.

<Kira> Throwing a fit won’t accomplish anything. Nor will blaming the JLA. Who would have thought the RDF would use a Star Breaker on a Republic Naval base?

<Valerie> This just reinforces Virstris’s assessment of things, they’re out of control.

<Kira> What the hell do they think me capable of to justify this?

<Valerie> Considering that you could sterilize the Galaxy if you so choose, are you really asking that question?

<Kira> Do you really think I would do that?

<Valerie> Now? No, I think you’re no longer at risk of that. Even if the worst should happen, I think now you would lament the loss and go on.

<Kira> I hope it doesn’t come to that.

<Valerie> Kira, don’t repress these emotions and make yourself numb to it all. I’m here for you, and so is Virstris. And you know you can trust me.

<Kira> I know and thanks.

<Valerie> Any thoughts on how to proceed?

<Kira> They’ve gone too far now. They’ve crossed a line. Attacking and kidnapping my family is one thing since that is between me and them, but to attack a Republic facility with a superweapon says the rats have run of the ship.

<Valerie> So what do we do?

<Kira> This has gone beyond my need to rescue my family and friends. I’ve got to dismantle the RDF before they do something really stupid. The Republic can’t do it for fear of triggering a civil war, so it has to be someone outside the Republic.

<Valerie> To what end? You can’t just make that kind of knowledge and organization vanish without exterminating almost all of them.

<Kira> We’re going to have to repurpose them. Purge the elements that prove completely uncooperative and then reform the rest into a saner organization. Just like I plan to do with the Rakata.

<Valerie> What exactly are you planning?

<Kira> This Galaxy and others are going to need an organization dedicated to the defense against threats like the Final Empire if it hopes to remain independent. To that end we are going to need a lot of Force users, Codex users, what Hybrids we can get, and the Rakata. Every Star Breaker we can salvage or build would help too.

<Valerie> You know for someone who despises superweapons so much, you are amassing quite the collection of them.

<Kira> Would you have it any other way?

<Valerie> I think not, it is the contradictions that are so alluring.

<Kira> Alluring?

<Valerie> Of course, my Bondmate has to be alluring by definition.

With that she began to lean in to kiss me. Our faces were only centimeters apart when we were both hit with ridiculous images of what felt like the forests of Kashyyyk from the perspective of algae. The visions of the ridiculous trees and a telepathic broadcast of longing to return to the great forest were a major mood killer for us both. I put my money on Jacob having returned to the Mrs Beasley somehow and was about to make sure he didn’t live to regret that action when Valerie motioned for me not to get up.

(Kira) Alright, I’ll deal with him.

(Valerie) No, I’ve been wanting to kill the bastard for some time now. Are you denying me that pleasure?

(Kira) Who am I to deny you what you want?

(Valerie) Good boy, now we will finish this later.

With that she left the conference room with a mission. I briefly thought about following her in case she needed assistance, but she mentally replied with a forceful “No” as soon as she felt my intention. Oh well, best to let her do what she does best I suppose. Trusting Valerie to handle that job, I made my way to the Sith Canton to relax a bit. All this training with Darius and insanity with the RDF was stressful on a lot of levels. So I found a place next to the artificial lake under a tree and sat down. I saw a number of the technicians and crew had similar ideas as they were in various spots around the lake. I was idly watching them when Virstris walked up beside me.

(Virstris) Taken to watching people now instead of just napping?

(Kira) Just noting all the couples appearing these days.

(Virstris) Yep, I imagine it won’t be long and there will be children appearing onboard.

(Kira) Somehow that just seems odd to me.

(Virstris) So where is my sister?

(Kira) Off to kill Jacob or whoever it is broadcasting images of giant forests telepathically.

(Virstris) That’s odd, cause Ben not long ago stormed off the bridge in a bout of anger and frustration after his shirt vanished.

(Kira) What?

(Virstris) Yep, ran off saying he was going to teach someone a lesson or something.

The image of Ben going Iron Sith was an incredibly hard one to visualize. If Ben has truly fallen in such an odd fashion then life was definitely going to get amusing fast. Virstris and I began discussing what progress Darius was making with regards to his Codifier training when I felt Valerie’s frustration kick up a notch. Apparently whatever issue she was faced with was defying a simple and violent solution. About all I could get over the link was something about Lazlo and multiple Bens arguing something nonsensical. I thought about heading over to get involved but got rebuffed with that “No” from Valerie again. Virstris must have seen my consternation.

Meanwhile, the Banishment of Lazlo had indeed sent him home – carrying Wizard-Jacob along with him.

Wizard Jacob wasn’t a strong force-user – but he was quite strong enough to cause force-feedback between himself and the original. Worse, he was utterly horrified by the conventional galaxy… the place was almost totally dead, and sterile, and without magic, and the force was weak – and it seemed to be slowly dying the rest of the way! Even the stars were dying, and stars were immortal! What level of hell was this?

It was… empty and dying! Like being trapped in the long-decayed corpse of a proper universe!

AND it had nonsensical poorly-dressed images of him making pointless announcements! Even the DRINKS contained toxic chemicals that would wait in your blood and cause you pain!

It took Lazlo a moment to realize that he was talking about hangovers.

Ben, of course, had gone to see what was causing his headache – and had lost his shirt along the way to some alternate Ben who was using a variant on his pants-stealing technique!

Lazlo was trying to explain “Star Forges” versus “Magical Forges that Made Small Stars” (“You’re murdering your own stars to MAKE STUFF?!?!) And the Big Bang, and Entropy – and wasn’t doing a very good job.

The confrontation of Ben’s – and Lazlo’s attempts to reason with both of them – did not go well. It got worse when Ben reached out and grabbed another shirt – and wound up with three, one of them a bomb with only minutes to go on its timer.

Valerie phased him out of it and had him carry it into stasis with him, since he was the only one who’d used that technique before.

A demolitions-droid from Shipwreck could defuse the bomb – but found the idea of explosive tailoring quite interesting.

Lazlo tried to get Ben to promise to use the “alternate dimensions” technology only with his prior approval in exchange for explaining it – but Ben preferred to figure it out on his own.

Back with Kira…

(Virstris) What is it?

(Kira) Apparently Lazlo and two Bens have stirred up some argument about trees, life, death, and something about stealing pants. Your sister is in the middle of it and getting rather cranky.

(Virstris) She’s doing a lot better these days. Much more approachable than before. Although Augusta says that my sister got really cranky and irritable while we were infiltrating the RDF training facility.

(Kira) Really?

(Virstris) Yep, Vincent thinks it is because my sister was getting lonely without you around.

It wasn’t long after that Valerie showed up in the Sith Canton carrying the remains of a droid’s head in her hand. She tossed the head to Virstris.

(Valerie) I want that thing thoroughly destroyed so nothing can be recovered from it.

(Virstris) Of course.

Virstris took the droid head and left to dispose of it.

(Kira) Dare I ask what offense it committed?

(Valerie) Ben fed it the idea of explosive shirts and it then began speculating about other explosive garments. I decided it needed to be destroyed when it started talking about explosive lingerie.

(Kira) Now there is an interesting twist.

(Valerie) What is?

(Kira) The dashing hero must hurridly disarm the bomb threatening the fair maiden. Purely as an unfortunate circumstance, this involves undressing fair maiden….

(Valerie) Not going to happen!

(Kira) Ok fine then. I take it you are disappointed there was no Jacob to kill?

(Valerie) We’ve got plenty of Bens and Lazlos, and they’re even importing sillier versions of themselves from other dimensions. Surely one or two of them going missing would go unnoticed?

I ended up giving her a slightly disapproving look in response to that. With that Valerie gave up the argument and sat down next to me under the tree. We ended up sitting there letting the Bond between us resonate and flow. We both were finding it calming and relaxing being like this as the troubles around us for seemingly disappeared for a while.