Soon enough reports came back in that the authorities had picked up Ben and were in the process of bringing him and his ship back. By this point the chaos was dying down as the authorities took command of the situation and permanently re-established power to the city. All the RDF we could find had been rounded up and put into stasis. In all this was looking like a wildly successful rout of the ambush back on itself.
Ben was a bit cross… After Lazlo had done some quick probing for him he concluded that he had one kid, who’d overdosed on holos and who had basically fallen to the dark side dreaming of using his powers to become grand ruler of the galaxy, three more friends of his that he’d somehow managed to persuade that he might manage it (and make them grand galactic rulers in the process), some mercenaries who’d work for anybody who could pay, and some droids that it looked like the kid had gotten them from a junk dealer! His four “villains” were all still three to four years underage! The one needed treatment, but the other three needed spankings!
Fortunately the military was being fairly cooperative at the moment; there might have been some debate at the very top end of the command structure, but everyone lower down was apparently quite pleased with the interdiction of the Yeveetha.
Even if part of the attitude seemed to be based on “After thousands of years of Sith nonsense, there’s finally a competent superweapon designer – and he’s on OUR SIDE!”.
Oh well. He could put him into the experimental treatment program and see – with great caution – what could be done for him. He wasn’t too far gone, and he was young enough to be pretty malleable, so he was an excellent prospect for a cure!
With them in hand, and the rest of our business on Alderaan wrapped up, it was time to take our prisoners back to the Mrs Beasley for “questioning”. I bid farewell to the Bernellis, Olaths, and Glithes and even offered to bring them along to the Mrs Beasley for protective custody, but they all turned it down. Martha Glithe said it with the least tact as she refused to get aboard the “largest target in the Galaxy”. I did receive a number of care packages though from various people I knew and a few anonymous donations too. I stuffed those in the crates to be sent to the Mrs Beasley along with my weapons and other equipment. The Republic was kind enough to provide a transport to haul all the prisoners in and I rode with them as an “escort” of sorts. Thankfully that trip was uneventful and there were no prison breaks during the journey.
Not on board the transport anyway… Jacob, meanwhile, had gone looking for Sith – and had managed to locate a creature deep in the underworld who could lead him to some.
In exchange for stealing an enslaved planet from the Hutts and freeing his species – who shared a limited sort of hive-mind – of course, but nothing was free.
With a guide, and some friends to help, and his own powers, he managed to steal a ship and depart, once more claiming the freedom of the galaxy…
About a week later we finally arrived at the Mrs Beasley. I could tell that Valerie must have returned from her own mission to wherever since she was back aboard as well. The others had also beaten me back since they were all returning aboard personal ships as opposed to a Republic transport. Alys immediately started the process of unloading and prepping the prisoners for interrogation by Kven’thann. Nimh was already talking with Kven’thann regarding what questions she wanted to ask and in what particular order she wanted the prisoners scanned. I handed Nimh a list of questions I had thought of asking on the trip here to add to her list. She looked at the list, rolled her eyes and condescendingly told me to leave this to the professionals.
It was at that time that I felt Valerie doing something weird with the Force and Codex in one of the larger combat training facilities onboard. Boarding an elevator, I directed it to take me to the closest point to Valerie it could manage. Arriving at the training room a few minutes later, I found the door to be unlocked as it automatically opened when I approached. I have to admit I was not prepared for the sight in front of my eyes as the door opened.
I saw Valerie in a tight form-fitting body suit that sparkled immensely as she moved around. I could see bright pink glowing highlights shift along the surface of the suit as she went through a number of exercises. About all she needed to complete the ridiculous image was….
I immediately did every trick I knew to derail that thought as best I could. It wasn’t easy, as that image was really wanting to present itself to my conscious mind, but finally I was able to shove that thought aside as I thought back to how annoying the twi’lek was at times. Valerie had sensed those mental gymnastics though and had stopped what she was doing to look at me. It was at that time I saw Qwuam, Ilia, Virstris, Ban, and Gab were all in the room as well and now staring at me too.
(Ilia) Are you alright? It almost looked like you were suddenly suffering from a serious headache there.
(Kira) I’m fine. Just found it very hard to keep a comment to myself is all.
(Virstris) So you are learning!
(Valerie) You better keep your mouth shut about this.
(Kira) Alright, if you don’t mind me asking, what is that ridiculous thing for?
(Qwuam) Can’t you tell? It’s a high quality reproduction of what those crudely made Rakata suits. I must say I am rather proud of myself.
(Kira) I suppose someone must be.
That got me a number of glares.
(Qwuam) Regardless, the lady here was testing out her ability to activate various sections of the suit on demand.
(Kira) Ok, but I thought the thing was supposed to be a sensor cloak or something. Seems awfully pointless to hide from sensors when you sparkle like that.
(Qwuam) The system also doubles as a reactive shield system, but we’ve been able to add a number of other functions as well to it. Care to demonstrate?
With that I felt Valerie use a combination of Shunting, Crystal Repair, and Sensing as suddenly a section of her arm lit up bright pink. It looked to me like suddenly her arm had become wrapped in a lightsaber blade. With a wave of her arm, she was able to effortlessly cleave the target dummy in half as the field tore it apart. Then she presented the back of her hand to me like if she had been holding shield. With another flash of pink along her arm, an energy shield shaped like a more mundane one materialized just a few centimeters from her hand.
(Kira) Ah, I see, you are feeding the crystals energy directly via shunting and then using the Force to repair the crystals on the fly like one does a lightsaber.
(Valerie) Yes, it was Vi and Ben who initially came up with the idea. I just added a few modifications to the concept and have asked this talented tailor to assist me with the prototyping process.
(Qwuam) I must say the lady has been a delight to work with. And I do love the challenge of designing something like this.
(Kira) Let me guess, if you go all out you can turn yourself into a full-body lightsaber?
As confirmation she suddenly started glowing bright pink as the crystals all over her were shunted with energy from the multiverse. Valerie was feeling awfully pleased with herself and I couldn’t resist responding with a comment.
(Kira) Impressive. Now you’ve managed turn your entire clothing into a giant lightsaber. I’m sure Jacob would find it incredibly attractive.
For a split second I thought Valerie was going to kill me right there as she killed the effect and gave me a glare that made me instantly regret saying that. Thankfully Valerie got distracted as the door to the training room opened and Darius entered the room.
(Darius) Ehh, what the hell is that monstrosity? Show some more skin, increase your bust, and wear a giant pink bow and you’ll have the look down pat. Do you think you used enough sparkle-glitter? You might have missed a spot on your ass.
I just stood there dumbfounded at the sheer idiocy I had just heard uttered.
(Virstris) Like master, like apprentice.
(Gab) My brother, born an idiot, died an idiot.
(Darius) What? It’s her fault for wearing it.
I was not prepared for the blast as the wall seemingly exploded. By the time I could react, I saw Valerie grasping Darius by the neck and holding him up in the air. She was holding a glowing sphere of pink energy in the other hand menacingly in front of his face. The look on her face was one I remember well from when I had mocked her lightsaber years ago. It was not a pleasant experience to see that again. I was trying to come up with something to say that would prevent anyone from getting killed when Ilia spoke.
(Ilia) Put him down dear, killing him will only prove that you can be manipulated by the mere words of a punk.
I could feel the conflicting emotions boiling within Valerie as she struggled to maintain control. Finally she came to a decision and flung Darius over to the side. She drapped herself in a cloak she grabbed telekinetically and wordlessly walked through the hole in the wall. Darius was having trouble regaining his composure as he picked himself off the floor. Gab was already berating him for being a galactic-class idiot. I was about to join in the process when Ilia interposed herself.
(Ilia) Let his sister handle the process of trying to knock sense into the boy.
(Kira) He is my apprentice and if anyone should be knocking some sense into him, the responsibility falls to me.
(Ilia) No dear, your responsibility lies elsewhere.
(Virstris) She’s telling you to go after her.
Tracking Valerie down was a simple matter. Trying to sort through that boiling cauldron of emotions I felt over the Bond was not nearly as simple though. That had me worried. While Valerie could be very difficult to read at times, usually her emotional state was a simple thing to assess. Especially since that was usually set to “cranky annoyance” most of the time. I found her in another training facility but the door was locked. It took only a moment to deduce the pin number given the fact that it was still fresh in her mind and I entered the room. I saw that Valerie was already massacaring a large number of droids as she fired blaster bolts from the palm of her hand. I gave her a few minutes to work out some of that frustration against the droids before opening my mouth.
(Kira) I will say I am impressed at what that suit is capable of in your hands. I would never have thought of trying that sort of thing.
(Valerie) I hate this.
(Kira) Then don’t wear it. No one is forcing you. There isn’t a law that states you have to use every bit of useful technology you come across.
(Valerie) That is not what I meant.
(Kira) Well, forgive me, but despite our little secret and my being a telepath, I still am not sure what you are talking about.
(Valerie) I hate feeling all of these emotions. It’s becoming harder and harder to suppress them all. That “perpetual cranky annoyance” as you call it has been my barrier against losing control.
(Kira) I imagine it’s a sign that the Unfalling process is reaching a new stage. You’re having to relearn how to behave normally as opposed to simply faking it.
(Valerie) I hate it.
(Kira) Well I will admit that I don’t always like the emotions I feel sometimes. But don’t convince yourself the Dark Side is some panecea when it’s clearly not.
(Valerie) Ilia said the Codifiers called it the Madness. A disease of the mind that drove people to obsessions beyond all reason. Apparently it was one of the duties of the Codifiers to find and restrain the Mad. She then told me how disappointed she was that I had fallen victim to the Madness too.
(Kira) I think you are a victim of the circumstances you grew up in and that you’ve done remarkably well considering the handicap.
(Valerie) I DON’T WANT YOUR PITY!
(Kira) It’s not pity. Back when I first arrived at the Academy, I was the kid from pacifistic Alderaan stuck in the middle of a Sith Academy. It doesn’t get much worse than that. I figured I had a few days at best to live before your father picked me to be his apprentice. Even then I knew it wasn’t going to last since I could never be what your father wanted. Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly role model material in my eyes.
It wasn’t pleasant drudging up the memories from the Academy, but I felt Valerie needed to hear this right now. Something told me it was important to say this as I felt the internally directed anger subside within her.
(Kira) Then I saw what you had, how everyone knew your name, and how even the instructors couldn’t push you around. To a kid like me, that looked really good in comparison to what I saw ahead of my short life. Deep down a part of me wanted to be like you. I was stupid and headstrong enough that it took me a long time to even admit that to myself. I guess that is why it took me so long to realize we are Bonded.
(Valerie) And yet you ran away.
(Kira) Well, I didn’t want to think of myself as a person willing to kill my older sister just because she said something insulting about me. I saw what that position you had gained cost you and I didn’t want to have to pay that price. It did help matters that you inadvertently gave me enough of a boost to momentarily overwhelm your father. I did come back didn’t I?
(Valerie) With a bang of displaced air and a confused look on your face that I will forever remember.
(Kira) Gotta make an impression somehow.
At that point my commlink chirped. I really didn’t want to interrupt this discussion, but it was Nimh calling and she usually had something beyond idle chatter to say.
(Kira) Go ahead.
<Nimh> We’re getting a lot of useful information regarding how the RDF is organized, confirmed locations of various facilities, number and distribution of Starbreakers, and how they acquire their funding. I suspect we may have a rogue Rakata computer on our hands.
(Kira) That’s nice. Could you write it all up in a report for me to look over in detail then?
<Nimh> Already documenting everything and writing summaries. Why I called you has to do with something else though.
(Kira) And that is?
<Nimh> We’ve deduced what they are trying to do. It looks like the objective was to isolate you to the city and then trap you with a bunch of Force predators and heavy weaponry. They were trying to damp any strong local links you might have and force you to make an uncontrolled jump across the universe.
(Kira) Well, yes, that much is obvious. What exactly forcing me to drop out of the universe would accomplish is hard to fathom though. I’ve returned from alternate universes in the past despite some of those being random jumps.
<Nimh> Not an uncontrolled jump across the multiverse, they were aiming for you to make an uncontrolled jump across THIS universe.
(Kira) Still not sure what that accomplishes, I’ve shown in the past that it is survivable too.
<Nimh> Yes, but it seems the RDF isn’t aware of a certain special consideration in the room there with you.
Then it dawned on me what Nimh was saying and why we hadn’t heard of any hostage demands.
<Nimh> Given your silence, I imagine you realize the implications. It appears that your family is currently being held in front of a Starbreaker awaiting your sudden arrival. Using them as an anchor point on a completely random jump, you’d appear just in time to be blown to subatomic vapor as the RDF shot you with the Starbreaker. I imagine they must be getting pretty frustrated that this nearly foolproof plan isn’t working as expected.
(Kira) Any indications that they have found out what is going on?
<Nimh> No, but I don’t expect them to take much longer to deduce that something is wrong with their plan. The more you jump around and not end up there, the faster it will be.
By this point I wasn’t paying much attention to the twi’lek as I was busily counting the months and back tracking the local calendar. I could see Valerie was doing the same thing as she mentally marked off dates on the calendar. We both arrived at the conclusion at the same time: this plan was operational during the Battle of Gruenn. Had it not been for Valerie, that random jump with Lecrouss would have resulted in me appearing next to my family and friends in front of a Starbreaker finishing the firing sequence. That would have killed me quite readily. I was suddenly reminded of Lessa Soung’s warning to me that I likely faced damnation if I failed to rescue Valerie from Codifier Galaxy.
<Nimh> While you are considering that, Alys would like you to think about how to knock over the Republic Banking System.
(Kira) Wait, what?!
<Nimh> She apparently made a deal with the Hutts to help us track the RDF funding in exchange for us helping the Hutts gain access to a number of accounts that have been frozen over the millennia. Looks like a giant money laundering scheme.
(Kira) Since when does Alys advocate robbing banks?!
<Nimh> You’d best take that up with her, although I think she is rather annoyed with people using Rakata weaponry in the middle of major cities.
With that Nimh cut off the communications. I was still pondering the absurdities of trying to rob one of the most heavily fortified institutions in the Galaxy just so the Hutts could launder some ill-gotten funds when a thought occurred to me.
(Kira) Valerie, I guess that is another one I owe you for. I would have just been a cloud of particles if it weren’t for you. It seems I am continually finding myself in your debt.
I could tell that Valerie was going through some sort of an internal debate with big emotional issues at the center of it. I was about to ask her what was wrong when she spoke very quietly.
(Valerie) When you tricked me into killing Jurin for you, I wasn’t mad and you couldn’t fathom why.
(Kira) That was the beating I was expecting but never came. It never made much sense to me.
(Valerie) I didn’t because it was then that I realized that you are what the Varen call a Nalton in the old language. It frequently gets translated as strategist or tactician, but a more proper translation would be “seer-of-the-hidden”. It means you see the options no one else would consider trying. You couldn’t beat Jurin on your own no matter what, but you saw that I could. Instead of lamenting your lack of power, you turned it around and used my underestimation of you to your advantage.
(Kira) I still don’t see…..
(Valerie) It’s an incredibly rare trait, possibly much rarer than being Force sensitive. It’s also incredibly valuable, it would have made you a major prize to the Varen, my family, and possibly even as a mate. But you were so vulnerable given your lack of experience and training. It was going to be years if not decades before you could be considered able to protect yourself against other Sith. I wanted to use my power to shield and protect you. To be the example which you would emulate. Your cunning and my power would have enabled us to go quite far. Possibly making the Varen one of the major Sith factions in the Galaxy and myself Grand Mistress of the Council.
(Kira) And so we both got what we wanted, well kinda.
(Valerie) And then you ran away.
(Kira) And I came back, with a bang of displaced air and a confused look on my face.
(Valerie) Can’t escape me that easily.
At that point we embraced for several minutes before she put a halt to it. I had to admit that mass of crystals covering that suit of hers was an excellent way to cut up my hands. I could only imagine that was one of the “bugs” still needing to be worked out.
(Valerie) You do realize that according to Varen custom, you would take my name instead of me taking yours?
(Kira) Well Kira Keldav is a name that seems to have run off on it’s own. A little name change wouldn’t be too bad I think. After all, I have a little brother to carry on the Keldav name. Now would that be as Verun or as Kira?
(Valerie) Kira of course, against the rules to have relationships with your apprentice. Since technically you are Father’s apprentice, there isn’t any issue.
We found that Virstris and Gab had beaten Darius senseless in the meantime. Everyone was getting a lot of use out of those faux-lightsabers Ben had created, much to Darius’s displeasure. Valerie went back to working with Qwuam regarding tuning her suit properly while Ilia gave more pointers regarding the use of Shunting. I couldn’t help but stand over Darius and give him a smug grin as he struggled to his feet.
(Darius) Come to smack me around too?
(Kira) Nope, although consider yourself incredibly lucky. I insulted Valerie far less shortly after I first met her and I ended up in medical for a week because of it. You get off for saying something far worse with only a damaged pride.
(Darius) I think I have some bruises and minor burns too.
(Kira) Oh cry me a river. If you became my apprentice not realizing you would get smacked around a little, you are stupid.
(Darius) How in the hell can she move so fast? It was a friggin instant at most.
(Kira) She’s every bit as skilled, probably a lot more talented, and is far more ruthless than I am.
I was more than a bit annoyed when Qwuam realized I was wearing the robes he designed and started lamenting the cruelty of how I was treating them. With that he took my measurements with a glance and then demanded I hand over the robes I was wearing for “proper” repairs. Annoyed, I stripped down to my base clothes and handed the robes over. Qwuam then quickly shooed me out of the room as all of us standing there was interferring with his concentration he claimed. I took it as an excuse to lounge around a bit.
Soon more information starting pouring in from Nimh’s investigation and Kven’thann’s interrogation. Apparently the reason why I was so popular these days was because the RDF thought I was an incredibly powerful Sith Lord out to form a Sith Empire spanning the multiverse as I brought an invincible Sith army from outside the universe. Once I had this Galaxy in my control, supposedly I would then go off to repeat the process elsewhere. Part of me idly wondered if the RDF was seeing the formation of the Commonwealth concept I had planned out. That showed how biased their viewpoint was if they thought that was what I was trying to accomplish. Of course, I suppose it was possible that they were seeing me inadvertently trigger a Final Empire Invasion, but by definition I wasn’t planning that.
It was also one of the pitfalls of trying to use the Codex to predict the future; you could scan a sheaf of “very similar but more advanced” universe – but injecting even a modest bias into your selection of universes, or starting with false assumptions about which universes were “very similar” and you could radically skew your results.
The opinion of the RDF was that Zandaras was an escaped minion/experiment of mine that I then later hunted down and killed outright for having the audacity to disobey me. Apparently the fact that I had warned the Republic to kill Zandaras and then was asked by the Jedi Council to do something about it had little to do with their version of reality. I wasn’t even on that side of the Galaxy when Zandaras was finally killed. Nevermind the fact that as powerful as I’ve become, Zandaras could still readily kill me in a straight fight. These people are about as detached from reality as Mrs Beasley is, and at least she has the excuse of being senile.
We also learned more about the attack on Crevasse City and some of the contingency plans that were in place in case of a failure. Apparently the most fanatical members of the command staff had been given space-field grenades like I had used against Jarik as an option of last resort in the event of a capture or total defeat. Luckily it seems that Lazlo and Vi had managed to disarm the only one that was triggered during the battle, but it still illustrated how badly out of control the RDF was. We also found out the RDF was able to smuggle so much weaponry past Alderaan customs by using hypertime to put customs officials into stasis and then haul crates of weapons and other contraband past customs before letting the person in stasis go again.
That certainly lacked a sense of artistry, regardless of how practical it might be.
Nimh was also able to derive that it looked like the RDF command structure was heavily centered around the various Starbreakers in their possession. While they had planets under their control via intimidation, it looked like their over reliance on the vampiric space moss to keep things hidden and protected meant that the RDF was having massive infrastructure issues as their people were blocked out of the universal skillsets the Force granted. That meant an over reliance on automated factories and droids to keep what little they had still functioning. That in turned revealed that there was a lot of computer coordination going on in the background just to keep the RDF moving at least somewhat coherently.
That was where Nimh picked up on the fact that the RDF had massive computer coordination running things, a distinct hatred of the Jedi, almost identical tactics to how the Rakata in the Infinite Empire ran things, and no clear sense of what other units were doing. To her this suggested two possibilities: either the RDF were using poorly purged Rakata computer systems, or were secretly being run by Rakata themselves. Thanks to additional information provided by our two captured Rakata (who became cooperative after a call to the Elder Council on Tatooine), we learned it was the RDF who was providing funding to clone the Rakata. Rakata secretly running things wouldn’t need to clone more Rakata under normal circumstances, so that suggested the RDF was using Rakata computer systems that weren’t properly purged in her opinion.
But that didn’t make a lot of sense in my opinion since that would require that the RDF have failed to operate by the most simplistic rule when it comes to using acquired computer equipment: purge it first. I found it extraordinarily difficult to believe that after twenty some-odd millennia no one in the RDF has realized they have a rogue computer system on their hands? I’ve seen people be stupid before (Jacob comes to mind), but for everyone in an organization of this size to not realize something is up after twenty thousand years bordered on the absurd.
Nimh’s response to this was the idea that if the RDF was being over-reliant on the vampiric space moss to hide things, then that would significantly impair their ability to do even the most routine tasks like preventative computer maintenance. I thought about it for a moment, realized the corner the RDF have likely painted themselves into, grabbed a faux lightsaber, and went to the RDF prisoners to unload my frustrations for a while. Too bad they were all in stasis and couldn’t be properly humiliated for their immense collective stupidity, although Kven’thann did watch me vent for a while before shrugging and continuing his business.
Alys still wasn’t real big on volunteering more information about this bank hack she had agreed to with the Hutts. How exactly the Hutts expected we might pull this one off was never explained either. This wasn’t going to be easy, but then again we probably had far more resources at our disposal than the typical bank robber. Of course, once you had these kinds of resources, you didn’t really NEED to rob a bank….
Lazlo, meanwhile, was running a statistical analysis; they’d intruded into several other universes, and had quite an impact. Was it likely that alternate versions of themselves from other universes had been meddling in THEIR universe? It would explain a lot about how their reputations were building out of control!
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 76 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 73a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 75 Appendum (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 73b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 77 (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 72b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 76b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 71a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 67b (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 68a (ruscumag.wordpress.com)