Back towards the galactic core, the JLA had a consultation of their own underway… It would take at least an additional month for the republic fleet to complete their own version of the Ratsoogomoz, and every day meant more Yeveetha attacks. Just as importantly, Lazlo had checked in, and had apparently escaped from Yeveetha space and back to the Mrs Beasley with a Yeveetha computer core full of navigational data.
If the Yeveetha could be cut off from their home worlds, and pinned down before they could usurp a local industrial base, it would turn a long war of attrition into a relatively short war of extermination. Much as they hated to rely on wild cards and trouble magnets, taking Kira, Alys, and Ben up on their offer to deploy the Ratsoogomoz – as guided by the navigational data that had somehow wound up in their hands – was the only tenable solution.
Given that the Mrs Beasley was off the grid, they sent Vi via a high-speed courier to act as liaison.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t yet arrived when the conference started.
Planning turned to our next objective. Again it was obvious that our means of directly assisting in the Yeveetha war was less than ideal. Plus, while it looked like the destruction was going to be pretty significant, things looked like the Republic was winning the war. Short-circuiting the last Sith War had saved a lot of equipment – and left everything already mobilized. Still no word from the Republic on our proposal to set up a regional interdictor field in the area using the Ratsoogomoz. So that issue was put on the back burner for the time being. Still, the upgrades to the Zomogoostar were running along nicely, if a bit slowly. Hopefully we could be ready to intervene in multiple regions this way soon. On the plus side of things too was the fact that the bounty on my head had dropped significantly. It had been well over thirty billion, but was now in the range of twenty billion. What information we could get on that suggested that a single group had put up at least ten to fifteen billion of it. About the only group we could think of that had that kind of money and the motive to use it against me was the RDF.
At this point everyone could agree that the RDF was completely out of control, a danger to galactic civilization, and in need of a serious attitude adjustment. Unfortunately, the RDF had the weaponry at their disposal to actually present a significant threat to the Mrs Beasley, as Jacob and the Rakata had proven not all that long ago. So going off and directly assaulting the major bases of the RDF was going to prove exceedingly costly at best. So we needed to avoid any of the facilities where there might be Starbreakers until such a time when we had the resources to simply overwhelm the Starbreakers before they could fire in return.
Plus there was the big unknown as to where my family and friends were being held. Unfortunately, I suspected the RDF were hiding my family on a Starbreaker or in a system with at least one StarBreaker locally. Given what information we and the JLA could put together, the sheer number of bases and facilities under RDF control was going to make any sort of a search incredibly time-consuming if not a complete waste of time. We needed to narrow the list of possible targets while also salvaging what we could of the remainder. Getting our hands on some Starbreakers of our own wouldn’t be bad either. But how to narrow down where to look?
Ben suggested that we find an alternate dimension where Valerie and I were married and already had a child. He then wanted to get recordings of the wedding and baby pictures to broadcast in our galaxy. The theory in his mind was that since the RDF was so keen on getting ahold of my family and friends, that they would be especially fixated on getting ahold of my own child. Both Valerie and I were taken aback by this proposal. I was hostile to using alternate children of mine as bait on general principle. Valerie had similar concerns and in addition was not happy with the idea of trying to explain that one to her family. I had to admit, the idea of trying to explain it to my parents, let alone her parents was really discouraging the idea. Plus, I didn’t want to meet a version of myself willing to use his kid as bait either – even if it was in an alternate dimension.
With that idea shot down, speculation turned to other possibilities. Rumors of Ben building superweapons were possible, if not for the fact that much of the Galaxy already believes he is doing just that even when he’s building kitchen appliances (although, sometimes, with Ben it could be hard to tell the difference). Lazlo’s facetious suggestion of an offer to freely distribute Ben’s got him a look from Alys that could have frozen a supernova, and probably wouldn’t work anyway. Using the families of other party members as bait had issues too. Besides myself, Alys was the only one with anything like a normal family life to hold hostage and yet the RDF had no particular interest in her as best as we could tell. That led to the idea of my appearing on the Mrs Beasley Show to try and stir up the rabble. That one I just rejected outright given how much trouble had been caused by me inadvertently stirring up the rabble.
Which led to us circling right back around to us assaulting the RDF and making ourselves enough of a pain to force the RDF to trot out their hostages. That meant knocking over RDF facilities, and the only facilities we had the resources to assault were the minor ones without Starbreakers. So that brought us back to staring at the large list of RDF and Infinite Empire facilities again. First off, we sorted that list into two groups: RDF and not RDF. That led to a number of them being marked “tentative” one way or another, but our information was limited on some of these worlds. With those lists filled out as best as we were confident, our next task was splitting the RDF list into those worlds likely to have Starbreakers, and those unlikely to have Starbreakers. Unfortunately, that split was even more tenative than the first given the sparse information we had.
By the time they had all that research done, Vi had caught up with them – the Mrs Beasley was hardly the fastest ship around – and preparations for dispatching the Ratsoogomoz were well underway. With the military cryptology droids Vi had brought along and both force and codex users to advise them, the data-translation would be complete in only a few days.
Another side-trip wouldn’t make any difference in the launch time, so why not?
One thing did catch our eye though. From what information we were able to collect and pool together, six major Infinite Empire bases – facilities capable of independently building Starbreakers from scratch – likely were still somewhat intact after the Final War: Coruscant, Alderaan, Tatooine, Corellia, and two others in disputed territories. Ben started getting really excited about the one on Coruscant until I finally announced confirmation that it was fairly thoroughly destroyed. That led to some looks at me from Targus, but I didn’t volunteer any further information. Alderaan’s facility though was also looking like it had been destroyed or ruined according to the records. Digging into that showed that the supposed location of the facility was where the hypertunnel attack all those millennia ago had been focused. Oddly, we found where much of that material had gone and we had seen no evidence of an artificial structure there except for the hypertunnel superweapon. Valerie confirmed that her team had found much of the same before they had been forced to leave.
So that left a few possibilities: the Sith had missed, the base had been hypertunneled out and then scattered across space, or that it was intact somewhere. The idea that the Sith had retrieved it and taken it back to their section of space was hard to believe simply because I would have expected an attempt to use it afterwards. I suppose it was possible the whole thing was a charade on the RDF’s part to steal the base for themselves, but something about that scenario seemed unlikely. Still it might be prudent to go looking at some point to see if the fate of the base could be uncovered. Unfortunately for that idea, my sheer notoriety made any attempt to go to Alderaan to conduct an investigation fraught with difficulty. Same basic premise held for Corellia give a number of factors.
That did leave Tatooine though. It was likely to be intact given that the planet had survived (if barely). I suspect though that the Hutts would have realized the presence of a secret Republic military base on the planet if the RDF was there. The Censor could work some headbangingly stupid miracles, but that one I had to write off as even beyond it’s means. That meant we had the location of a probable major Infinite Empire facility that no one was in possession of. The Hutts might contest that idea if something were discovered, but that could be dealt with later. It also had the benefit of the fact that no one was looking for Kira Keldav there. Even if it was a haven for bounty hunters, the odds of a major disaster unfolding there were significantly less than someplace like Alderaan.
Plus it was likely that if we did find something there, it might give us indications on the locations of other Infinite Empire facilities that we didn’t know about. After more discussion and debate regarding various details of the plan, it was eventually decided that Nimh, Ben, Vi, and I would go to the planet separately, meet, and then try to investigate the whereabouts of the facility if it still existed. I elected to head to the planet using the Verun Navaro ID again. Looking into the future, about all I could see was a potential for conflict with unknown assailants and something about potential allies. Consulting with the Optimize technique however led to more interesting and yet nonsensical results: a jar of pickled vegetables, a molecular analyzer, skimmer power cables, a flaregun, and oxygills.
Most of those seemed like the sort of thing that would pop up as a spur of the moment need difficult to predict in advance. But the oxygills were something else. There shouldn’t be enough water on Tatooine to require the need for anything like that. Unless I was going to need to hide in a Hutt swimming pool for hours on end, something strange was going on. Oh well, I called up the list of items to be prepared for my departure as I packed up my tools, weapons, and supplies.
Valerie directed Augusta to be my pilot and to use one of the freighters we had stashed away. Augusta didn’t seem to be happy with courier duty, but went along with it. Nimh insisted on being on the same ship I took though, much to my annoyance. At least she said she wasn’t likely to leave the ship unless it was an emergency. With all our stuff loaded aboard, we departed for Tatooine. The journey itself was largely uneventful with only some more annoying questions from the Twi’lek regarding my time with the RDF. I answered them to the best of my ability, although I did get annoyed at her tendency to rephrase questions just to see if I answered differently. When I wasn’t busily answering questions, I spent my time trying to get the Verun disguise set up.
Soon enough we ended up in the Tatooine system, and the place was as suspiciously busy as always. Now we had a good understanding of why though – a major hyperspace nexus and rich crystal resources, even if the biosphere was pretty throughly burned off. Still, it just reinforced the image in my mind of just how badly damaged our Galaxy was. Part of me wondered if terraforming would suffice to repair the damage or if we were going to have to find a source of new planets and stars somewhere. The Final Empire solution was ethically unacceptable though, and building a system able to just generate suffficient mass/energy to make more was asking for someone to hijack it as a weapon. Hmm, Ilia suggested that careless use of Hexcrafting led to the generation of empty timelines. I wonder how much gets generated during such a split….
A quick look at the planet showed much of the place to be a barren wasteland, which was no surprise. Trying to deduce where in all of this place one might hide an Infinite Empire base was a difficult manner though. Nimh was busily trying to do various statistical analyses of the seismographic data and wasn’t having much luck. On a hunch I asked her what locations were presumably underwater before the cataclysm. With that she overlaid some blue highlighted sections on the display. I then asked her to show the locations of all the major current settlements. That resulted in a number of yellow dots appearing, but few in locations highlighted blue. It made sense why the Rakata might put such a facility underwater, but why no one had moved in since the oceans dried up was a mystery to me. It was Nimh that figured out that the blue region was largely unsettled since it was Sand People territory.
That was interesting. Could the Sand People be the remnants of a slave species that had been responsible for maintenance or something? Looking up what data was available on Sand People turned up a surprisingly sparse amount of data. No corpses were ever found in the desert, and attempts to forcibly capture one had always resulted in the capture team being hunted down and exterminated. Some of those capture teams had a considerable amount of hardware at their disposal and still were lost. The Sand People were fiercely isolationist and no one was even sure what they looked like. My thoughts then immediately turned back to the oxygills Optimization had told me to bring and I began to harbor suspicions of what was really going on.
Regardless, we were quickly enough hailed by the local port authority. Augusta gave our identification codes and requested permission to land. Without any major hiccups, we were given permission to land at Mos Losa. I directed Augusta to watch the ship and Nimh said she wasn’t leaving the ship either, but both would respond to commlink requests if needed. With that sorted out, I left the ship to meet with the clerk that had arrived outside with a clipboard. I walked up to him while trying to project an air of malice about myself.
(Clerk) Your name please?
(Verun) Verun Navaro.
(Clerk) I see you appear to be a Sith then. Please note that any trouble you may cause will result in the Hutts unleashing their new Force Bounty Hunters upon you. I can assure you that the odds of your survival in that circumstance is quite low.
(Verun) That sounds like a bluff.
(Clerk) A recent addition my employers have acquired, they have already proven quite effective. I assure you that they were quite expensive and have been worth every credit.
(Verun) Yes, I am quite sure whatever animal you have acquired is quite good at killing the riff-raff. Now do you have anything else to say to me besides this senseless bragging?
(Clerk) Indeed, I would ask your business here on Tatooine.
(Verun) I have received a vision that I am to meet with the Sand People and commune with them.
That certainly seemed to surprise him. He gave me warnings regarding the dangers of interacting with the Sand People, but I gave him with an annoyed glare. After he filled out a few more forms, I was free to depart the ship and visit the planet. With that over with, I went back aboard the ship, grabbed my bags, and moved to get on my bike when Nimh stopped me.
(Nimh) You should be aware that all this sand is going to tear up that caterpillar system in short order. Then it will have to be cleaned and refurbished yet again.
Damn it all, I finally get myself a nice bike to ride, find a place with wide open spaces that I could really open up on, and now I am told I can’t ride it for fear of sandblasting the internals of the bike. I wonder if Smoche would be open to the suggestion of building a track aboard the Mrs Beasley for racing on. With a sigh of annoyance, I slung the bag over my shoulder and walked out into the streets of Mos Losa.
It was hot, dry, and dusty. The streets were also filled with all sorts of thieves, smugglers, slavers, bounty hunters, thugs, and other low-lifes. A number of beggars and street vendors tried to sell me various slaves, lightsaber crystals, fragmentary or (almost certainly) fake holocrons (although they mostly seemed to think they were real; the knowing fakers probably didn’t want to try to fool a Sith), supposed locations of holocrons, and other trinkets of marginal value. Part of me idly thought that it might be prudent for me to pick up a “slave” at some point just to better facilitate the impression that Verun Navaro is a Varen Sith expecting a noble’s pandering, but now was not the time. Especially since I had just given Valerie such a hard time over Gab. Oh well, I will make it up to her at some point.
Ben was quite pleased! One of the vendors had a pistol-sheathe fitted up with a cloaking crystal that could render it – and a pistol inside – invisible for a few hours. It was minuscule, but it was a genuine cloaking crystal! He’d been looking for one of those to analyze for months!
What news there was on the street – at least about me – was about how the bounty on Kira Keldav was continuing to drop. Not as fast as it was a couple weeks ago, but still on the decline. It looked like it was on track to level off at about fifteen billion credits. It was also interesting to hear the bounty hunters all look at that bounty and announce it to be a fool’s game. Apparently my continued evasion of the most determined of snares was finally beginning to pay off. Now if I could just get rid of that last fifteen billion and find my family, life would be good.
I was a bit startled to hear a Hutt announce in the streets that he alone could defeat the legendary Kira Keldav. Realizing that he was not directly referring to my presence there, I wandered in closer to catch what was going on. I saw a Hutt sitting at a table in front of a restaurant. It looked like he had quite the crowd gathered there as he continued his spiel.
(Hutt) It’s quite simple! Kira Keldav never turns down a challenge!
(Verun) Is that so? News to me. I was under the impression that all he did was run away. So what sort of challenge do you think the “legendary” Kira Keldav would not turn down?
(Hutt) I propose an eating contest! Kira Keldav versus myself! We shall eat so much that he will fall into a coma from the exertion! At which point I shall be victorious!
Well, I had to grant him that the plan would undoubtedly work. Except only if Kira Keldav really never backed away from a challenge. Where exactly he got the impression that Kira Keldav never backed down was an open question, but if he felt it would drum up more business for his restaurant, then more power to him. I certainly wasn’t going to begrudge him the rather benign use of my name.
Just for amusement value, I did decide to dine at the restaurant and have something to eat while I studied a map of the planet. Nimh had loaded my datapad with all the data she thought relevant to my needs and I was looking at the various overlays while reaching out with the Force. It was obvious that the locations heavily settled by the Sand People were also the same areas that were heavily resistant to any probing with the Force. Biggest blank spot was at the bottom of the ancient sea bed where it was also said the largest Sand People population center was located. It was definitely looking like the connection between the Sand People and the Infinite Empire facility was growing stronger.
Part of me wondered if it might still be a RDF base now and the precognition shielding might be more of the vampiric space moss stuff. But I was having a hard time reconciling what I knew of the RDF with what few details we had regarding the Sand People. The RDF was not indirect and didn’t try to hide in the shadows because they trusted in the Censor to protect them. The Sand People were evidently trying to hide something though. About the only scenario that made sense to me was Rakata or one of their slave species. Which of the two it was is an open question and would require actually meeting a Sand Person.
With that decided I finished the rest of my meal and continued to thumb through the notes of the planet’s history when someone sat down at the table I was sitting at. Looking up, I saw that it was Vi dressed as a Jedi and Ben was dressed like some ridiculous fantasy wizard or something. The feelings of indignation and disgust must have been evident in my eyes as many of the other patrons in the restaurant promptly vacated or readied weapons of their own.
(Verun) What do you want? I have no quarrel with either of you yet.
(Ben) We were going to meet with the Sand People and thought you might want to come along with us.
(Vi) Yeah, the more the merrier!
You know, I seriously entertained the idea of killing one of them right then and there followed by claiming it was an accident. I wouldn’t even need to come up with an excuse considering everyone at the restaurant was expecting me to do that anyway. In fact, not doing that was going to raise more eyebrows than massacring everyone here on general principle.
(Verun) As much as I would like to gut you for the impertinence of seating yourself at the same table as myself, I fear the Hutt’s new pets might make that costly for me. With that said, you haven’t given me what I think would be a good reason to venture with you out into the desert alone.
(Vi) We found a guide that trades with the Sand People on a regular basis!
(Ben) And we have indications from the Force that you wish to speak with the Sand People as well.
A Jedi, a Sith, and Wizard walk alone in the desert…..
(Verun) Fine, although I cannot be held responsible for any “accidents” that might take place out in the desert.
There wasn’t much of any acting required to make it clear that Verun was not entirely happy with this plan or to be travelling with two other Force users like this. People made an effort to avoid being in my path as we made our way towards the trader contact Vi had spoken of. The reaction on the trader’s face when he saw the weird collection of people come to see him was enough to sour my mood even further. Was it stuff like this that drove Valerie to the Dark Side? Or is my acting of the role becoming too good?
Once the trader got over his shock, he began to recite a long list of warnings and cautions with regards to travelling in the desert and meeting with the Sand People. None of the cultural taboos were especially odd save for the sheer isolationism shown. Ben and Vi then went to go hunting for trade goods to sell while I sat back under an awning and away from the sun. Thankfully my robes were keeping me cool for the most part, but the sand was quickly getting everywhere. While I waited for the others to get their stuff ready, I practiced various combinations of Inner Control, Telekinesis, and Personal Environment to better handle the heat, dry air, and sand. Quickly enough I managed to work up a solution to the problem and so I started experimenting with shunting in food and water using my bag to hide the process. Water was easy enough, but food wasn’t quite as cooperative. Ah well, stocking up on rations to put in the bag was another easy task.
Ben found that rather interesting… The sandpeople traded for food flavorings (understandable given the limited variety around HERE), fabrics (also scarce), explosive ammunition – which would require a major chemicals industry – and several types of plastic stock. Insulation and sealing? They certainly had enough crystals of various types…
Were they using that to build old-style Rakata weapons? Hard to say; plastics were just too versatile…
Vi had arranged for them to be followed by by a high-altitude and rather well-camouflaged ship with a droid crew. Might as well get everything recorded and have some fire-support and an escape route on hand!
Finally they returned, spent a lot of time loading equipment and supplies onto a bunch of animals I had never wanted to be this close to, were given very brief lessons on how to ride the smelly things and then we rode off into the desert. Ben and Vi spent much of the time discussing the sands and crystalline deposits interfering with sensors. Debate on their part turned to whether or not it was natural or artificial. Eventually Nimh got involved remotely as she asked for me to take molecular readings of the sand.
(Nimh) Hmm, reading a high content of quartz and other crystalline materials.
(Verun) Well of course, it’s sand.
(Nimh) There are usually other silicates and carbonates in sand as well. This stuff is showing high content in the proper crystals you would need to effectively interfere with scanners. If this is a natural occurrence, then it’s awfully conveniently distributed – unless the Sand People seek out such areas for some reason. It’s still unlikely; veins of the proper materials shouldn’t be nearly so extensively and evenly distributed.
(Verun) So it’s artificial.
(Nimh) Also hard to believe since the required level of organization is beyond what we believe the Sand People to possess.
(Verun) Correction, beyond what YOU believe the Sand People to possess.
(Nimh) I suppose it’s vaguely possible that the Sand People are descendants of one of the Rakata slave species, but the problem there is they would not be able to make the ancient weaponry work. And the Rakata are amphibians.
(Verun) And you’ll note that no one knows what a Sand Person looks like.
(Nimh) You know something I don’t.
(Verun) We’re being watched. I can sense vague presences flitting around us. It’s hard to feel them directly given how fuzzy they are, but they are certainly there. I’ve sensed this kind of thing before with the Rakata clones we captured.
(Nimh) That raises about as many questions as it answers.
(Verun) It also raises the issue that these guys probably have the weaponry at their disposal to readily kill me.
(Nimh) Have you told the others yet?
(Verun) No, I was hoping to avoid them doing something stupid trying to make contact and spooking our shadows.
At first it was one or two I sensed out there. But over the next several days the numbers slowly increased. I made a point of wandering a short distance from the camp every so often to make weird markings in the sand and to scan the horizon, but saw no sign of footprints or other traces for those tailing us. Plus I wasn’t about to go after them directly given how much firepower I suspected surrounded us. No wonder people could wander off into the desert and never be seen again. Getting blown to atoms while the hole in the ground filled in with more sand did a lot to hide any traces.
On the sixth day of the journey we arrived at some rocky outcropping the trader said was our spot to wait while the Sand People arrived from another much larger outcropping. He then went into a great amount of detail about his theories about how they lived in hollowed out rocky hovels hiding from the sun as they clung to some water spring. Truth be told, he was probably right, except for the fact that I imagined those hovels to be a facade and the real homes to be a massive underground facility underneath our feet. I also suspected there was a lot more water underneath us than a mere spring. The fact that I imagined the Sand People to have a great deal more manufacturing capacity at their disposal than the Hutts was another issue entirely.
Probably best to let some people remain ignorant while believing themselves wise.
Ben was bothered… There were plenty of crystal outcroppings all over Tattooine – but he’d swear that a lot of these had been shaped. And there was something familiar about those forms. Still, it would take massive power sources to do anything that way.
Could the sandpeople actually have that much power available?
Soon enough a delegation of Sand People left the large rock outcropping and came our way. Ben, Vi, and the trader all began to enter discussions of trade and barter with whatever goods they had brought with them as I sat on the sand and laid out the contents of my pack for them to see. I expected more of a reaction to the oxygills given my suspicions, but the pickled vegetables did catch their attention surprisingly. I proceeded to pretend to haggle with them regarding a crystal in exchange for the pickles as I focused my attention on the Sand Person I was speaking with.
“He” was smaller than the Rakata clones we had, and was definitely smaller than the Kreedath. That was no surprise given what I suspected the adaptions might have been going on to compensate for the desert climate. The fact that they were so interested in the pickled vegetables was also interesting. The Rakata clones and the Kreedath were preferentially carnivores by nature although they could eat plants when needed. Perhaps one of the adaptions to the desert climate and limited access to organics was a switch to herbivore or at least omnivore? That would certainly let them stretch whatever food supplies they had much further. I wonder if that mask and armor they wore housed a stillsuit to help conserve water?
Interestingly, the molecular analyzer showed… crystals, dry fabric, and almost no moisture or animal-style organics coming off them. That pretty much said either fully silicon-based life – quite unheard of – or a sealed environment. Just like Ben would show in that armor of his.
Vi had been wondering himself – and had had his ship start a full-powered sensor scan of one of the sandpeople. Unfortunately, that had triggered some sort of reactive shield system in addition to some sort of screening in the robes – and THAT had provoked a massively powerful set of shots from the “sandpeople town”.
Those shots went through his ship like a plasma cannon went through a sheet of ice.
The explosion behind us caught me completely by surprise as the sky briefly lit up with the light of a third sun. I still was trying to ascertain what was going on when the Sand Person in front of me pulled out what looked like a crude version of a Rakata rifle, pointed it at me, and fired.
That shot struck me squarely in the chest, and I barely had time to reflexively pull on the force enough to endure the blast. That flung me back several meters into a sand dune as my chest felt like I had just been punched by a Rangkor. Sand began to spill on top of me as the dune I had collided with collapsed. I struggled to regain my bearings as I started shouting in Rakata.
Ben, meanwhile, had phased out of his robes into the ground – and discovered that the ground was full of heavily-shielded tunnels, with a LOT of energy running around. He didn’t dare try to enter any of those…
Later he would realize just how wise that caution had been.
Vi managed to survive by pulling on the force – and by sheer luck of only being hit by glancing shots.
(Verun) Cease fire! I apologize, but my companions are idiots!
That stopped the shooting for the moment. I stood up and made no effort to pull a weapon or otherwise defend myself. One of the Sand People stood in front of the others with weapon still drawn as he spoke to me in a thickly accented Rakata.
(Sand Person) Who are you and why do you approach the People?
Referring to themselves as “The People” was the final piece of confirmation I needed. Now to see if “The People” are reasonable enough to be negotiated with.
(Verun) My name is Verun Navaro and I seek knowledge of the People’s weapons. An enemy of mine has been collecting them and has even begun to use them.
(Sand Person) Someone is using the People’s weapons? That is grave news indeed. Very well, we shall consult with the elders and perhaps they will speak with you concerning this matter.
With the Sand People sending a messenger to the elders, I took the time to assess the situation. I was injured and my robes had been damaged from that hit, but I would recover probably in a few hours. Vi was in similar shape while Ben was nowhere to be found except for a set of robes laying on the ground. I didn’t believe for a moment that he was dead though. The trader was definitely dying though. Making sure that the Sand People understood my intentions, I went to him and put a stasis belt on him. In the meantime, Ben suddenly reappeared in his robes somewhat to the consternation of the Sand People. I ignored him.
Then we waited.
Eventually, word came back that the elders had agreed to meet with us. We were led into the rocky outcropping only to see that a large stone probably weighing tens of thousands of kilograms lift up to reveal an entrance underground. The Sand People made a point of declaring that entering their territory would show good faith, but I paid them no heed as I grabbed the trader still in stasis and leapt down into the tunnel. The others soon followed as the door closed behind us. Vi started mumbling something about collapsium nets woven into the walls (OK, that would provide impressive screening as well as making it impossible to phase through the walls without injuring or killing yourself; maybe there was more to this “show of faith” thing than I’d thought). I took note of the increased humidity and cooler temperature. The Sand People with us took off the masks to reveal faces similar to the Rakata’s as they escorted us into the depths of their home. Soon enough we were brought before a group of elderly Rakata seated in a chamber. The one at the center of the group spoke first.
(Ikaron) I am Ikaron. We are informed that you claim others are using the weapons of the People. Who are you and who could claim to be able to use our weapons?
With that, I took off the mask I had been wearing as Verun.
(Kira) I am Kira Keldav. I apologize for introducing myself to your guards with another name, but I must take care in who I let know who I am. I am sure you understand.
(Ikaron) Indeed, we know of you, Kira Keldav, and your track record is most impressive for one who is not of the People.
(Kira) As for who would claim to be able to use your weapons. There is a group of people known as the Republic Defense Force or RDF that has amassed quite a collection of Star Breakers.
(Ikaron) To collect them is one thing, to be able to use them is another.
(Kira) Indeed, and this group is made up almost entirely of people immune to the Force.
With that I began to explain everything I knew of the RDF, the Jedi, the Sith, and the Codex. I detailed how my family had been kidnapped by the RDF and how the RDF even used a Starbreaker against a Republic Naval Base to cover their tracks. I did the best I could to explain our understanding of the Censor, how the RDF was able to hide in plain sight, and what sort of damage I suspected the Codex was doing to their minds. All the while the Rakata listened and interrupted occasionally to ask a question or for clarification on some matter. Their assertion that the Jedi and the Republic were well on their way to unleashing a disaster the Rakata would never have allowed I could not disagree with.
The statement by one of the young Rakata in attendance that there couldn’t be that many Force Immune in the Galaxy was amusing to say the least. He was quieted by an elder with the reminder that the Galaxy was a much bigger place than Tatooine. This then led to the monologue about how only their race was fit to rule the Galaxy since they were immune to the detrimental effects of the Censor and all it’s associated problems. While I didn’t necessarily agree with them on that point, I had to admit that the Censor was making itself a real pain in the rear with this mess.
The Rakata were actually quite familiar with the Codex, although their limited force-sensitivity generally meant that THEIR drop-outs never returned. They were loosely familiar with the force – although they didn’t think much of the Jedi, who had done their best to destroy their civilization – if not their species – and thought that the Sith were a proper punishment for their overthrow of their betters. They had been waiting for the Republic to finish collapsing before the Sith, for the Sith to fall apart on their own – as they always seemed to do – and for the way to clear for them to rule the galaxy once more. It looked to them as if it was only a matter of time…
They only needed to avoid having the Jedi find them before that time came. There were few colonies of the People left, even if they still possessed some of their ancient bases and weapons.
Only the people were fit to rule the galaxy because everyone else was CRAZY!
I was then asked what exactly I had come to them for. I responded with a request for assistance in dealing with the RDF since the People were immune to the Censor, could use the same weapons, and knew the locations of the various bases their race had built. I then explained the nature of the Final Empire and the potential need for the Galaxy to arm itself with Starbreakers again as a defensive option. The Rakata were rather impressed with the achievements of the Final Empire, but felt that it had to be ruled by the People in order to have achieved such stability and that the Empress was obviously a front.
Personally, I think the Empress was by this point so utterly full of herself to the point she probably believed herself the only Person. I wouldn’t put it past her to be using some combination of Holocrons and memory erasure to have maintained immortality this long. All this talk of a new Empress every dozen millennia or so may well be just her snapping as another holocron takes control of the mess for awhile.
Still, the Rakata acknowledged the threat posed by the Final Empire and the RDF to their people. To that end, they were willing to lend assistance in the form of information on the locations of the rest of their bases and manpower to help run ships and help scout out the lost bases. I pledged my support to help them reintegrate into galactic society again and offered that I had come across a number of clones of their people in need of a home. That resulted in an explanation of our discovery of the Rakata military survivors, the cloning project, and our intervention. Thankfully they took no offense when I informed them that now was probably not the best time to be trying to launch a war of conquest against the Galaxy. In fact, amazingly enough they agreed with me.
Perhaps there is hope yet for integrating these people into society as protectors as opposed to oppressors.
That led to discussion about the arrival of the Furipedes and the creation of the Yeveetha. While they were able to more or less confirm the sequence of events I had been presuming for some time now, they weren’t able to confirm my questions regarding whether the Furipedes and their allies created the Yeveetha or if they were the creation of some third party. I think I am going to have to have a long talk with the Furipedes when I get back to the Mrs Beasley then. I had been avoiding it due to the language issue, but this was becoming a critical issue. I wasn’t out to blame anyone these days, I just wanted to know where I might find clues on how to stop the Yeveetha.
The Rakata had thought that the Furripedes were extinct; they, and a few apparently related races had arrived – and had the ability to work superweapons, even if they did have a hard time with maintaining them. They were partially immune to the madness. They had refused to accept the authority of the People, and two rival civilizations in the galaxy – both with Starbreaker technology – was unstable and intolerable. A war had been launched to bring them into the Infinite Empire, whether they liked it or not. The Furridpedes had seemed almost unkillable en mass – so they had been isolated.
We were also able to get confirmation that whatever Codex accident had put it on the Censor’s list, it predates their records which went back over a million years. Oh well, that would be nice to know, but wasn’t critical to anything we were doing. It also pointed the way towards a possible galactic civilization predating the Infinite Empire. Again, interesting, but not a priority right now.
With agreements of mutual support made, we set up arrangements for Alys to use to begin collecting the Rakata being sent to support us. Before we left back to Mos Losa, I did have one final request of the Rakata.
(Kira) I would ask that you not share the fact that Kira Keldav and Verun Navaro are the same person. I have no intention of revealing the fact that the People and the Sand People are one and the same.
(Ikaron) Understandable, and truth be told, we have great difficulty in telling you humans apart. I also have a poor memory for the names of humans anyway.
(Kira) And if it wouldn’t be too much to ask, would you happen to have some sort of baubbles or trinkets you might be willing to part with? The story I gave the locals is that Verun came out into the desert to commune with the mystics of the Sand People, so some minor trinkets would go a long way towards verifying that story in the eyes of others.
(Ikaron) Ah, you want trinkets like we sometimes give the traders and scientists to make them go away. Easy enough, I am sure some of the children can make something suitable for you.
(Kira) I thank you.
Ben and Vi, meanwhile, were messing around with that reactive shielding system… It could be pretty handy! Especially fitted up with that miniaturized subspace heat pump – which powered the rest of the basic electronics at the same time as it cooled the wearer! Very neat!
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 73b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
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- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 72a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
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