With the Yeveetha assault crippled for the moment, the military working on it’s own Ratsoogomoz, most of the Sith factions either in retreat or acting as allies of convenience against the Yeveetha, the group was free to make a side trip…
With all my gear packed away, I sent out a message for a courier to pick me up on the Mrs Beasley for a trip to Alderaan. I wasn’t about to go out into what was likely the biggest trap in the Galaxy aboard the same ship as everyone else. I made it clear that I was willing to pay hazard pay to the courier for the transport and that I didn’t want her broadcasting my route to the Galaxy either. She seemed a little insulted by that, but she had to admit that I was the first person she had transported worth ten’s of billions. With the bike and other equipment loaded up, I then boarded the courier’s ship and we departed.
The others took various ships of their own – especially Ben, who’d built his own laboratory-ship (with a wide variety of drives) and a final empire telepresence setup.
We did end up pausing once we were back on the grid so that I could send an encrypted message to the JLA and the military informing them of my decision to return to Alderaan with the intent to spring the RDF trap. I knew they were not likely to be happy with the pronouncement, but I figured it was better than simply showing up unannounced. Besides, it gave the military and JLA time to try and get resources in place for the inevitable confrontation. With any luck, we might be able to spring the trap on the trapper.
We arrived in the Alderaan system a few days later. It was easy to see that the local Republic fleet had been drawn down significantly in size compared to the last time I was here. Almost as soon as we were detected though, the fleet hailed us and demanded that I come aboard the ship for questioning and the usual Yeveetha-search… The courier looked to me for guidance and I simply directed her to comply with the order. Docking with the largest ship in the fleet, I was met by a number of officers who did not look particularly happy to see me.
They wanted confirmation of the “plan” for me to provoke a RDF capture/kill attempt on myself. This was apparently not what they wanted to hear, and I really couldn’t disagree with them. When one of the officers became a bit snotty and made the suggestion that I leave and make their lives easier, I bit back the comment that I wouldn’t even be having to go through this mess if the JLA had kept custody of my family – not that the military rank-and-file really knew a lot about the JLA anyway. Finally I had to ask if they were going to prevent me from heading to the surface or not. With that the one in charge announced that since I had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the Republic and Alderaan legal system, I was free to go to Alderaan – although he made it very clear that he would rather see me leave and not come back. Since I wasn’t planning on leaving, the military advised me that a police escort was being provided.
With landing clearance given, I boarded the courier ship again and directed her to follow the instructions to land on the surface. That brought the ship to the surface in the port city of Aldera not that far away from Crevasse City. Landing at the directed docking pad, I saw the police escort already ready and waiting for me. I began unloading my bags and bike from the ship when I recognized a familiar face at the head of the police team.
(Larson) I thought I was past the point where I had to respond to calls involving you.
(Kira) Man, what did you do to get stuck with this job?
(Larson) Apparently having “Kira Experience” was a major prerequisite for getting this assignment.
(Kira) Oh now it gets a separate line on a resume these days?
(Larson) Oh yes, I am the only person in the Galaxy that can prove that I caught Kira Keldav not just once, but dozens of times in my career.
(Kira) I do suppose you have a point.
(Larson) Now, care to explain why you are here causing me more paperwork?
(Kira) Visiting my hometown isn’t an excuse?
(Larson) I know you better than that. If you aren’t lazing under a tree somewhere, you’re stirring up trouble.
(Kira) Alright fine. I am here as bait for a trap. There is a collection of nuts almost assuredly laying in wait for me and I want to capture and interrogate them.
For the first time in my life I thought I was about to hear Officer Larson swear. There was a time in my life where making Officer Larson swear out loud had been a goal of mine, but now I was feeling sympathetic. This plan was ill-conceived on a number of levels and my luck wasn’t going to hold out indefinitely. The idea that this was going to be a simple bait and switch routine was missing the fact that this was a heavily populated world full of people I knew.
(Larson) Alright, any idea who these people out to get you are? A little bit of information on what to expect would help us immensely.
(Kira) Ok, but don’t expect to remember any of this once I am done explaining.
(Larson) Don’t try any of that Jedi Mind Trick stuff on me.
(Kira) I’m not going to. But the nature of the information is such that one tends to forget it very quickly.
(Larson) Oh geez, it involves THEM doesn’t it? What have you gotten yourself mixed up in?
(Kira) Them? Wait a minute, you mean you can remember….
(Larson) Yep, encountered them during my time with the Navy doing border patrol. At first they thought it was because I was like them, but then they determined it was because I wasn’t willing to let things go. That’s another reason I suspect they requested me to be here.
(Kira) Alright, this is a long story, but I shall try to explain.
I explained what I knew of the RDF and JLA conflict and how this had gotten my family and friends caught up in the middle of it. I then went on to explain some of the details of the investigation thus far and the deadends I kept running into. Quickly enough I could tell I had lost the rest of the police assigned to escort me, but Officer Larson kept staring at me with that vaguely disapproving look I had gotten all too used to. More than once I felt like I was back to trying to explain how I had gotten possession of alcohol despite not being of age to drink. This was not a pleasant experience.
(Larson) Ok, I don’t like this plan at all, but I still have a job to do. By the way, the lawyers want to see you.
(Kira) Lawyers? Why would lawyers want to see me?
At which point a rather weasely looking man dressed up in business attire appeared before me. I don’t know what it was, but something made me instantly dislike the man.
(Lawyer) Excuse me, but are you Kira Keldav.
(Kira) I am.
(Lawyer) Ah good, in your absence I have been appointed your attorney by the court. I will need your account information for handling the royalty payments.
(Kira) Royalty? Wait a moment, why am I being charged royalty fees?
(Lawyer) Goodness no, the courts have decided that you are entitled to royalties from the sales.
(Kira) Sales? What the hell are people selling that I am entitled to royalty fees?
(Larson) Oh, this is going to be good.
(Lawyer) Your likeness has been quite popular this year with the upcoming Festival of Masks. So everyone who makes a mask of you for sale has to pay a royalty fee.
My jaw just about hit the tarmac with that. I just could not fathom the idea of my face being popular enough for use in the Festival of Masks to warrant royalty payments. Then I saw just how much was transferred to my accounts. It wasn’t an immense amount of money, but I had a good idea how much the typical mask sold for and how much of that went to royalties. Doing the math came up with a number significantly higher than I would ever have imagined. My astonishment became even worse as we arrived in Crevasse City and I saw the preparations for the festival that night starting. A significant fraction of the costumes and such were of me and my companions.
This was disturbing on a number of levels. Last time I was anywhere near this world, I was being reviled as a Sith Lord come to conquer then destroy the planet. Why in the Galaxy my face was the popular one to wear this year was hard to fathom. I found myself staring at a pair play dueling with a faux lightsabers in disbelief. Officer Larson must have seen the look on my face. He and the others in the police escort had switched into costumes to better fit into the crowds while still wearing the police armbands signifying their real status.
(Larson) I take it something about this is eating at you?
(Kira) Last time around, my name was enough to send people running in a panic and started a massive shootout. Why am I this popular?
(Larson) Well, not everyone thinks this is proper. Beasley’s fans all think this is incredibly distasteful and have been protesting the whole event. Those that believe everything the Jedi say all think Beasley is a loon. A lot of rest simply go with what they are seeing in the news all the time.
(Kira) What I see in the news all the time is Death Asteroids, Sith Assassins, destroying planets, and commanding armies of Yeveetha.
(Larson) And none of that has ever been verified except for the wild rantings of a crazy old lady. What has been seen on the news here has been the immense bounty on your head and the remarkable lack of bodies you’ve left in your wake. The recordings of you protecting children from that monster Leucross and how you helped overthrow a major Sith Lord have also had a hand in making the more rebellious youth see Kira Keldav as a role model and a hero.
(Kira) A role model?
(Larson) I find you to be a pain in the neck at times, as I imagine most of the authorities in the Galaxy do. But I have to admit you’ve done some good things.
Alys, Ben, and the others thought it was quite amusing – especially the “Jacob” masks and the wooden lightsabers for those who wanted to be risque. Ben, Alys, and Lazlo got some masks of themselves, while Vi went for a Kira mask – and Handell got a beer keg mask.
With that, we began to wander around the quickly starting festivities. My initial plan had been to visit the house to see what traps were waiting there. While that would likely result in the destruction of the house, the thought that Mrs Beasley’s house would get caught in the ensuing destruction was a tempting one. Visiting the parents of my friends might also trigger traps, but then that would be including them in the line of fire. And it wasn’t like I could pose dramatically, make a tongue-in-cheek monologue and expect everyone to flee. All that would do is draw attention and a crowd. There really was no good way to find the trappers without springing the trap it seemed. If there were any trappers here. I could sense the other party members arriving in the city, and I could feel the various other people in the city too. But I didn’t sense any blank spots like Codex users save for the party members.
Speaking of which, had I not become “used” to seeing clones of most of them, this would have been a really weird day. My ability with the Force made it easy to tell who was wearing costumes and who was not so there was no awkward moments there. What was weird was seeing myself as a costume for others to wear. A part of me had been wondering when the pretenders would start showing up, I just hadn’t expected it to occur all at once like this. Some of those costumes were pretty elaborate and ostentatious too.
Soon enough Ben and Alys met up with me. Vi and Lazlo went off to play the various games, while Shipwreck and Handell had apparently disappeared to go get drunk or something. I still wasn’t picking up anything with my senses other than a vague sense of unease that was hard to place. Ben and Alys I think were having too much fun impersonating themselves to really put much thought into what to do next as I ended up getting dragged to a play. That was a piece in what I figured the locals would consider incredibly bad taste as the play told the story of how the Sith were the ones to rise up against the Infinite Empire and liberate the Galaxy. The Sith mostly died heroically vanquishing the threat and the Jedi then stepped in to seal away the remnants of the Infinite Empire so that it would never trouble the galaxy again take credit and bring peace.
To me this seemed like ancient Sith propaganda, but I also suspected that it had a kernel of truth to it as well. After all, the Jedi weren’t much for rising up, seizing military command, and striking down their enemies… Personally, I doubt there was nearly as much of a distinction between the Jedi and the Sith at the fall of the Infinite Empire as there was now. Indeed, I figure it was probable that many of those that fought the Rakata would be classified as Sith today. Hell, depending on a person’s definition, I was a Sith. I never have learned about the origin of the split between the Jedi and the Sith except that it seemed to follow some time after the fall of the Infinite Empire. Part of me wondered if it was simply that the Rakata blew up Sith with those massive weapons of theirs.
Apparently the audience thought the play wasn’t so good, even as a work of fiction, as they quickly dispersed after the play and didn’t mill around to discuss it much. As I got up to leave, I noticed that Ben seemed to have gone catatonic. A quick snap of the fingers in front of his eyes and poking him in the shoulder provoked no response. Reaching out with the Force, I could tell he was alive, but something was….. off about him. Ah, now I recognized the problem, Ben was using that damned reploid technology of his to run around Alderaan. Given the lack of a consciousness, I would say that something had cut off the link to the real Ben somehow.
Could someone be jamming him? I suppose that was a possibility, but I found it hard to imagine that anyone even knew to look for this sort of technology. And if someone was jamming unidentified signals on general principle, then they were either incredibly stupid or paranoid. So someone probably wasn’t jamming him then. Probably unintentional interference or a technical malfunction then. Officer Larson, Alys, and the other police officers noticed Ben’s condition and started their own diagnostics while I sat back and considered the options. Trying to scan for any interference was going to be awkward without Shipwreck since we didn’t quite know what to look for. I wasn’t quite sure what ship Ben had arrived in to begin looking for him either. Besides, that was going to be very difficult to explain to the police that I was wanting to find Ben’s ship so that I could find where his mind went.
Ben, meanwhile, had seen everything go dark and quiet… It took him a moment to realize that it wasn’t the lights and such in the theater; it was that sensory input from his replica had been cut off.
That turned out to be because his ship had been boarded by a Holosith who was trying MUCH too hard to be impressive – and was wearing a powered exoskeleton to mount his armor on – and some minions. They were now in hyperspace heading for wherever-it-was that the Holosith considered his base.. The Holosith wanted him to build a hand-held superweapon capable of destroying Alderaan.
Ben went to quite a lot of trouble to persuade the youngster that there were superweapons already on Alderaan, and that he could look for them safely by trying out the Reploid technology. They could return to Alderaan and descend and start using the databanks to begin the search!
The reploid-clone turned out to be… a teenage boy. So much for the big impressive armor. And so much for notions of just disposing of the inconvenience; he’d just have to get the kid into their experimental treatment program.
Besides… He wasn’t sure that a hand-held planet destroyer was even possible, much less something that he could whip up on the spur of the moment even if he WANTED to come up with something like that! (Was the Sith kid just deluded, or did his reputation really imply that he could?)
Meanwhile, back on Alderaan…
At that point I became aware of a number of ushers beginning to circle our position around Ben. It looked like their clothing was a lot bulkier than it had any right to be and there were a lot more of them than would be needed to clean this theater. Perhaps it was a deliberate jamming after all?
(Kira) Can I help you?
(Usher) Is there perhaps a problem?
(Kira) It looks like one of my friends has had a seizure after that light display.
(Usher) Unfortunate, would you like us to call for medical assistance?
(Kira) Shouldn’t be necessary, although thank you.
(Usher) In the meantime, we have an urgent call for the young lady. If you would follow us please, we can take you to a private booth to receive the call.
That was a blatant attempt to lure Alys away from the rest of us if I ever saw one. The police were still busy poking at Ben’s reploid, but Alys had caught on to what was happening with the ushers. I was about to call out the ushers on their weak excuse for a lure when Alys suddenly announced that she would gladly go along with them. Catching her eye, I realized she intended to get caught and reveal the identity of whoever it was that was directing these people. Perhaps that would give us the lead we were looking for. But why were they going after Alys? Were they trying to remove all of my allies before engaging me directly? In ways that helped me more than it would help the attackers since I could then fully cut loose with the less discreet techniques.
A few minutes later it looked like Alys had reappeared around the corner chatting excitedly on a commlink, except that her personal Force presence (as weak as it is) was clearly moving away from here at significant speed. I proceeded to head out of the theatre as Officer Larson followed protesting.
Alys had been handed an old-style sensory immersion helmet to take her message on. That was so obvious that it was hard to take seriously! It looked like it had… knockout gas in the scent-generating mechanism.
She faked semiconsciousness, and her kidnappers cheerily carried her off – to a very palatial ship indeed. With quite a few guards, and big ramps…
Oh dear. A Hutt. This wasn’t an attack, it was a very insistent offer of employment!
The Hutts wanted her too… hack into the republics central financial network on Coruscant and help them with a few projects – some immense money-laundering schemes, transferring some funds, and other financial shenanigans. They were willing to offer her rather a lot to help them – and she wasn’t in a good position to escape either.
Wait a moment… The RDF finances – or at least a portion of them – came from the Senate. With the Hutts information to help her, maybe she COULD crack the network and trace it!
The knew something about the RDF already? How could…
Hutts were highly resistant to force-based mind control. They couldn’t protect gear or others from the Censor, but they could remember… And had trouble with skills, which was why they needed so many servants and translator-droids – and relied so much on crime and bribery rather than the usual droid-based economy.
That had made them the Infinite Empires secondary administrative species – and, when the Infinite Empire had come apart, they’d just… taken over in their own right.
Hm. The Hutts were also willing to search for Kira’s family and help out her brother’s military career. She think discreet protection would be better – and she should be able to get out of this just fine without any assistance or violence, albeit with some loss of moral decency…
She came to an agreement, parted amicably, and talked with a few other festival-goers (including a kid who liked her Alys mask; he’d collected his masks every year!) Before she told the police that she’d been kidnaped, but that the kidnapers had run off when they thought that Kira was hot on their trail – and headed back towards the others.
Back at the theater…
(Larson) Hey, your friend is back there is a coma or something and you’re leaving?
(Kira) First off, that is just a remotely operated body he is using to pretend to be here. Second, someone has grabbed Alys and looks to be making their way to the spaceport.
(Larson) Alys? She’s over there talking on the commlink.
(Kira) That’s a droid made to look like her.
(Larson) What? Oh for the love of the Force.
He promptly went off to get the other police chasing down Alys while getting Ben medical assistance. In the meantime, I suddenly received a message from Alys indicating she was alright and in the presence of a Hutt wanting to bargain with her. That wasn’t what I was expecting, but since she was indicating that she was alright for the time being, I wasn’t going to make an issue of it yet.
Vi and Lazlo had gone to see some competitions – and had started an argument with the Mrs Beasley supporters. This had become a brawl (which they were both enjoying very much) but it went more than a bit overboard as Vi went into hypertime, Lazlo spread the word that Vi was one of “Kira’s Death Clones!”, and the fire-extinguisher systems went off…
There was a mighty brawl – from which Vi managed to escape unharmed (thanks to armor and defenses) unidentified thanks to the fire-extinguishing foam and Lazlo claimed self-defense on…
The Flash Lynch Mob had been a surprise though – as had been the attempt to crash a vehicle into Lazlo, the illegal cyro-needler, and the news-scenes of “Kira” disarming the valiant people of Alderaan one after another.
The news media, of course, reported what they’d seen – “Kira” defeating dozens, being near-invulnerable, and then (apparently) teleporting away. After all, Kira HAD recently captured a bunch of cloner-specialists. The “Death Clones” weren’t TOTALLY implausible.
It was about that time that I started hearing screams that Kira Keldav was attacking in the plaza. That quickly brought Officer Larson back out of the theatre ready to yell at me but he caught himself when he saw me standing there as dumbfounded as he was. Then one of the big screens on one of the nearby buildings lit up with news footage of a “battle” being fought by Lazlo and someone in Hypertime against what looked to be Mrs Beasley enthusiasts. It didn’t look like anyone was getting injured yet and the area was quickly getting saturated with fire suppression foam. Reaching out with the Force, I could feel the presence of a hole that I was beginning to recognize was Vi. Comparing my Force sense against the video display confirmed that it indeed looked like the “Kira” was indeed Vi in disguise. Vi then dove into one of the piles of foam and slipped away without the mask.
That started prompting cries that Kira Keldav was now teleporting to escape the area. Lazlo responding to news and police questioning with some nonsense of “Death Clones”. That then provoked more hysteria that I now had teleporting death clones out to do my dirty work for me now that I had recently knocked over a major cloning facility not too long ago.
Oh for the love of…..
It seems like no matter what I do, someone finds a way to make it look bad for me. Vi I could tell was insufferably pleased with himself about this. Officer Larson was watching the screens next to me and looked like he was torn between laughing and sighing in exasperation.
(Larson) Is it always like this around you?
(Kira) My reputation these days has very little to do with anything I’ve actually done. It’s been incredibly frustrating to be accused of all sorts of nonsense I had no part of and yet have it all stick to me.
(Larson) I hate to be the one to tell you this, but a person’s reputation often has little to do with what they actually do.
(Kira) Forgive me if I don’t find that reassuring.
(Larson) Well consider it karma for all the headaches you put me through.
Alys then got me on the private comm channel and announced that she had made a deal with the Hutts. The Hutts would help us track down the RDF’s funding in exchange for assistance in releasing some of their funds that had been frozen by Republic authorities for some time now. She didn’t go into much more detail than the fact that the Hutts apparently were immune to the influences of the Censor and could help track the RDF.
Vi and Lazlo showed up not too much later. Vi particularly had an insufferable grin on his face. I was about to punch him on the nose in retaliation when the lights all across the city flickered, came back on, flickered again, came on, went out a third time and didn’t come back. I held off on giving Vi my gratitude as I looked at Officer Larson. He was on his commlink trying to get a report on the situation. Soon he reported that it looked like there had been a malfunction of the main power generator, the secondary feed that was fed under the river exploded, and the tertiary feed at the top of the cliff also suffered from a malfunction of some sort. Now everything in the city was on backup power or batteries.
I don’t think anyone there thought this was a coincidence.
The police suddenly found their hands full trying to get a handle on the situation as a call went out across the city for everyone to return home and await restoration of power. Alys started using that datapad of hers to try and get a handle on the situation while the police were complaining that Ben’s comatose body was declaring to have been kidnapped by the Sith and was now plunging down the cliff wall with him in tow.
Unfortunately that sense of unease was growing in my mind. Reaching out with the Force, I tried to feel out for incoming dangers and trouble. Focusing hard, I suddenly was able to discern a number of blank spots in my perception moving this direction. Whatever those were, they felt vaguely hungry and were completely blank to my senses otherwise. That felt like the vampiric space moss shielding at a guess. Why that stuff would be in the air moving towards the city had ominous implications though. Officer Larson must have seen my unease.
(Larson) Repair crews and service vehicles are already on their way. Is something wrong?
(Kira) There are a number of blank spots in my perception moving this way quickly. At a guess, I would say it’s vehicles equipped with Force shielding.
(Larson) Force shielding? Then how can you see it?
(Kira) It’s like seeing still water in a swiftly moving stream. It stands out if you know what to look for. I can’t tell anything about what is inside, but I can guess who they are after.
(Larson) So we’ve got stories of Kira Death Clones attacking party-goers, Ben Therus running around with a Sith trying to blow up Alderaan, massive power outages across the city, and an attack group of Force hunters and who knows what else coming to kill you?
(Kira) That sounds about right.
(Larson) Yet I’ve watched you the entire time and you sat quietly in a theater being perfectly well behaved.
(Kira) I know right? Who would have thought that a juvenile delinquint like me would be this undeserving of such hostility?
(Larson) It’s like responding to those old calls from Mrs Beasley all over again. Except she wasn’t carrying heavy weaponry and taking matters into her own hands.
I looked back at the horizon towards the incoming ships laden with Force shielding and had to agree. And again I had to think to myself that this whole plan was a bad idea from the get-go. Pulling this off without heavy casualties was not going to be easy.
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 76 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 72b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 73a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 71c from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 67a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 71a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 71b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 66b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 68b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 72a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)