Sith Sorcery and the Multiverse – Eclipse d20 and d6

Since the characters in the Anomaly game currently have enough sources of information to get a good idea of how “Sith Sorcery” works, and one of their opponents is using it, here’s a summary of the current state of their research. I’m not guaranteeing that it is 100% correct, but they do have enough information to be sure that it’s pretty close even if a few details have been left out. Technically this only applies to the Anomaly campaign and our d6 Star Wars games, but parts of it may be useful elsewhere. 

Some universes have no variants at all. Some have a few. A very few have a great many – but that number is always very, VERY, small compared to the number of possible variants. Some people call that “probability summation”, but the actual exclusionary principle is much more general than that.

Everything organized above a certain level – dependent on perceptual feedback from the local sophonts – is at least a little different in two different universes. Personalities. Appearance. Composition. Cultures. Natural Laws. Whatever. There are no two universes where everything is the same except for some tiny difference. There are no two universes where ANYTHING is quite the same, although it can be pretty close. Did you “split the timeline”? Your original universe continues, and the “new one” will prove to be simply a shift into another locally-similar existing universe.

Perhaps Timeline One Earth will soon be confronting the dread million-year-old Bladoon Empire and their psychic dinosaur steeds, while Timeline Two Earth will be dealing with an influx of Space Gypsies because the Bladoon never existed to wipe them out. You may be able to find some “Nazi Worlds” – but there will be differences in their histories all the way back to the beginning, the people will always be notably different, and if you liberate one of them… it actually means something. There may be a number of other Nazi Worlds out there, but the number is finite and relatively small on the cosmic scale. That’s probably a good thing. Most people don’t LIKE Nazi Worlds.

Honestly, the “Quantum Fan” model turns into a mathematical disaster as soon as dimensional travel comes into play.

Lets say you transfer a rock from one Tier 2 Universe to Another. The universe that lost the rock now has fewer particles. Its rate of branching drops by many orders of magnitude, and its branch of the quantum fan and all subsequent branches become less important to overall reality by many orders of magnitude every second. The universe that receives the rock experiences the opposite effect; it’s now branching many orders of magnitude faster than the rest of the fan. It’s reality is rapidly heading towards dominance.

Don’t even THINK about time travel. It makes that sort of problem retroactive.

If you want dimensional and/or time travel, you really need to discard the Tier-2 Multiverse Quantum Fan model – and for games, that’s a good thing. It means that the characters actions can actually make a difference in the wider universe and that they can actually be somewhat individual. They may still be able to meet an alternate versions of themselves, but they won’t be just a part of a nigh-infinite set of indistinguishable duplicates with every successful intervention just splitting off a world where they didn’t succeed.

As it happens, the Star Wars Universe Cluster is one of those with a great many variants. That’s due to a local definition of “hyperspace” that adds several additional degrees of divergent freedom to the cluster. These universes are non-relativistic, maintain an absolute “now” even in the face of locally varying time rates, do not permit true time travel, and offer a localized system of “Force” and “Anti-force” powers that interact with those extra hyperspace axes. That has its advantages – the Force and Anti force have as many effects and uses as (say) electromagnetism does – but there are disadvantages too.

In particular, it cripples most forms of True Magic.

While there are many local technologies that offer weird powers in particular universes and clusters thereof, True Magic relies on the same perceptual feedback effect that helps define universes through the exclusionary principle – allowing its practitioners to interact with other universes and the substrate that separates and defines them (whether that substrate is known as “subspace”, “the informational level”, or whatever). In crude terms… a practitioner of “true magic” draws on a world where what they want to happen makes sense and manifests a bit of that universes structure on their local universe. Or perhaps they perceive, and then manifest, a tiny pocket reality that’s more accommodating. Or they just distort the laws of nature locally. All or none of those options may be correct, depending on how you look at it.

There are an awful lot of techniques to make that (whatever “that” is) happen. You can draw on the substrate directly or you can take various shortcuts – such as attunement to specific worlds, asking powerful entities to help out in exchange for spreading their influence and promoting their goals, drawing energy slowly and binding it into prepared effects, drawing on natural “subspace channels” that provide links to particular universes, and so on – to make it easier). Sadly, as a rule… you get what you pay for. Each technique has its advantages and limitations, more general techniques are more work to master, and the range of effects that any one technique can produce tends to be limited. In universes where there are complicating factors, access to True Magic may be very limited indeed.

Basic Sorcery is very limited in the Star Wars universe cluster because the substrate is supporting a large number of timelines separated by local rules – and thus in very close proximity from the viewpoint of the substrate. When power is drawn from or through the substrate the vast, vast, majority of it gets uselessly lost into “nearby” timelines. Unless you find a way to compensate… learning or using True Magic in the Star Wars Universes is extremely difficult, time-consuming, and grossly overshadowed by Force and Anti-Force powers. You can do it – but gathering up enough power to fuel any notable effect will take a great deal of time even if you know how to collect and store it. Those few small oddities that do occur are generally simply taken as minor force, anti-force, or force/anti-force “monotalent” effects. It’s not like the difference is readily discernible to anyone except the user (and possibly not even to them unless they’re exceptionally well-informed about the local physics).

About the only upside is that the Galactic Censor – the self-protective part of the Star Wars Galactic Mind that inhibits cheap super weapons and other major threats to life – doesn’t pay much attention to people dabbling in True Magic. It’s not very threatening on a planetary scale and it doesn’t really interact with the Force anyway.

  • D20: There isn’t enough power available for spontaneous casting. Prepared casting is possible, but it takes a full day to prepare a set of one-use Cantrips, a week to prepare your spells of levels 1-3, a month to prepare your spells of level four to six, a year for levels seven to nine, decades for levels 10-12, and so on – and trying to shortcut that time with things like Rite of C’hi simply does not work. Similarly, items that store magic will work until they run out of magic – but constant-use and rechargeable items will soon deplete their reserves and then take a very long time to charge up again before they can be reactivated.
  • D6: Whatever you name your magical field, you can build up to seven (arbitrary, but a traditional magic number) prepared effects, How powerful they are depends strictly on how long you spend building them – although, for comparison purposes, their “level” cannot exceed the number of dice you have in your magical skill.

There is one natural way to compensate: just as their are natural hyperspace routes, which tend to speed travel and funnel traffic through themselves, there are natural subspace routes or nexi (Since most of the “route” is outside the local universe) – areas which are better connected to some other universe. Those lose less energy to alternate timelines that aren’t a part of the nexus and make it easier to draw on more power to compensate for what is lost. Thus, if a world happens to be linked with a nexus, minor tricks drawing on whatever effects are most natural to the linked universe are actually practical – often giving such worlds a reputation for being haunted, or odd occurrences, or for being home to species with exotic powers.

  • D6/D20. L0 (minor nexi) or L0 and L1 (major nexi) effects can be produced spontaneously. Minor nexi reduce the time required to prepare greater effects by one level (A week becomes a day). Major nexi reduce the time required to prepare greater effects by two levels (a day becomes an hour). In both cases, however, only effects suitable to the energies provided by the nexus are affected.

A skillful user of True Magic can tap into such nexi to produce reasonably impressive effects with little delay, and can even store some of them for later use elsewhere – but will still be limited to the effects that a particular nexus makes available. It doesn’t matter if you know how to produce a thousand different effects if the local power sources will only support ten of them. Of course, location-specific skills that are immensely difficult to develop aren’t well-supported in the Star Wars Galactic Mind – making it extremely difficult for any resident of the Star Wars galaxy to develop them. After all, who wants to waste time on “(Planet) Magic” that only works in one place when they can learn “piloting” and use any starship in the galaxy? Thus native skill-based True Magic Users are virtually unheard of in the Star Wars Universe.

Monotalent Sorcery uses the Force and Codex to cause many of the local timelines to overlap, so that energy can be drawn across the substrate without impossible losses – while simultaneously anchoring the user so that he or she can pull harder without yanking himself or herself out of the Star Wars universe. A monotalent can pull off any minor tricks they know how to use anywhere. If they happen to be at a nexus, however, they can pull off or store reasonably impressive stunts appropriate to the nexus considerably more quickly than normal.

  • D6/D20: L0-L1 effects can be employed spontaneously anywhere. Minor nexi allow the spontaneous use of effects of up to L2, major nexi allow the spontaneous use of effects of up to L3. Preparation time for effects beyond that are reduced by an additional level, albeit to a minimum or one hour. In D6 this is a normal monotalent. In d20 this is usually purchased as a specialized form of Mystic Artist / The Path Of Whispers / through Worldgate

While many sorcery monotalents never really put their ability to use, and those who do often never bother to learn anything beyond a few basic tricks, those few who do make a determined effort to try to exploit their power often wind up being labeled as Sith or working with the Sith. After all, how many Jedi are really focused on enacting strange rituals on distant, haunted, worlds in hopes of acquiring bizarre and unnatural powers that violate the very laws of nature?

Hybrid Sorcery: A hybrid Force-Anti-force user can theoretically learn to duplicate the relevant Monotalent – but a full hybrid has many more power options than they can explore in a lifetime open to them, many of them far more obviously rewarding than trying to force a localized timeline convergence. Even worse, force-based precognition has a very hard time showing things being imported from other universes where the Force doesn’t reach – so anyone trying to let the force guide them will see this particular avenue of development as a complete waste of time. Similarly, using the anti-force to peep into other timelines in search of guidance will generally reveal nothing. After all, getting anything useful out of the project will, at least initially, rely on nexi that don’t extend into all that many timelines – and so this method will also tend to show “no results”.

A sufficiently skilled wielder of True Magic can learn to set up remote links into nexi or even into other universes, becoming a master of unnatural, alien, powers and a likely figure of myth and legend – but without advanced training from a genuine master of True Magic, the chances of anyone getting THAT far are so close to zero that it probably only happens once or twice in the history of a hundred galaxies.

  • D6: This is another specialized skill for each nexus. Fortunately, you only two dice to tap a minor nexus and three to tap a major one.
  • D20: You want Mystic Link with Power Link. Sadly, the monotalent “generating an overlay” effect really doesn’t work with remote links unless you can project it over them to the nexus you want to affect.

The most common form of Sith Sorcery on the Anomaly in Eclipse d20 is Rune Magic, drawing on a particular Nexus – most commonly Specialized for Increased Effect (Double effective rating of the user’s Mastery and Casting skills) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Spells can be prepared in advance and held. although the total number of spell levels that can be so prepared is equal to the user’s effective Casting skill level). This is usually coupled with the ability to draw Mana only at power nexi. This allows a Sith Sorcerer to have a limited selection of fairly powerful preset effects ready – but he or she must return to an appropriate nexus and spend a good deal of time there to renew them, making Sith Sorcery a very limited resource.

Unfortunately, given that we’re using point-buy systems for both d20 and d6, every Sith Sorcerer is going to be somewhat different – but hopefully that’s enough detail on the general theory to allow for some sensible builds and guesses about the current Sith Sorcerer running about.

Star Wars Campaign Index

English: Flag of the Galactic Republic (Star W...

And Now For Something Completely Different…

I eventually ran short of time to keep the various indexes and logs updated – including the Star Wars campaign – but Spellweaver81 very kindly did so. After a hundred and four sessions (counting the prequel campaign) the various characters finally achieved various goals – although material is gradually accumulating for the next campaign. With Spellweaver81’s kind permission, here we have his Compiled Campaign Index:

Campaign Background:

Characters:

Campaign Logs:

Backgrounds and Character Missives:

Kira The Kat Show:

Ships, Droids, Weapons, and Cloaking Devices

Non-Jedi Force Users

False ID’s:

  • Leah Burgess: Up and coming industrialist and a false ID for Valerie Soung
  • Lin Vardul: Smuggler/Trader ID for Alys Nere
  • Verun Navaro: Apprentice Sith to Valerie Soung and false ID for Kira Keldav

Star Wars – Twilight Seekers Campaign Index

Spellweaver 81 – Kira Keldav’s player – has been compiling an index of the material for the Twilight Seekers Star Wars Game. Given that time problems have left my indexing well behind, he’s kindly allowed me to repost that index here…

Campaign Background:

  • Scale of the Galaxy: Or why anyone can find anything despite it being a Galactic Civilization
  • Technical Explanations I: Monopolium, Power Sources, Dark Energy Manipulation – including Repulsorlifts, Sublight Drives, Lightsabers, Hypermatter Reactors, Artificial Gravity, Tractor Beams, Gravity Well Projectors, Thermal Detonators, Shields, Blasters, and Creating Lightsaber Crystals
  • Technical Explanations II: Mental Manipulations, Interrogations, The Force and Biochemical Adaption, Species Interbreeding, Alien Powers, Transplant Surgery, Unexplained Deaths, Technological Limitations and Enhancements, and Bacta
  • Technical Explanations III: The Galactic Republic, Major Projects, Currency, the Interstellar Trionist Conspiracy, and Extragalactic Exploration
  • Force Power Packages: How to build Force Users and Force Sensitives
  • Secrets of the Sith: Biowarfare and a description of an ancient Sith Bioweapons Lab
  • Basics of the Codex: The AntiForce and how it works
  • Twilight Seekers Setting Conversion: Notes on how to convert various popular science-fiction settings over to the Twilight Seekers campaign by altering what the Force Censor allows and forbids
  • Characters:

    Campaign Logs:

    • Prequel Campaign
  • Main Campaign: Discovering the Codex Arc
  • Main Campaign: Alternate Rescues and War with Zandaras Arc
  • Main Campaign: Rescue the Codifiers Arc
  • Main Campaign: Discovery of the JLA and RDF Arc
  • Main Campaign: Rise of SHIELD and Fall of the RDF Arc
  • Prequel Series: Valerie Soung and the Trayus Academy
  • Side Campaign: The Destroyed Galaxy
  • Backgrounds and Character Missives:

    Kira The Kat Show:

    Ships, Droids, Weapons, and Cloaking Devices

    Non-Jedi Force Users

    False ID’s:

    • Leah Burgess: Up and coming industrialist and a false ID for Valerie Soung
    • Lin Vardul: Smuggler/Trader ID for Alys Nere
    • Verun Navaro: Apprentice Sith to Valerie Soung and false ID for Kira Keldav

    More Indexing – Spellweaver81

    USPS Mailbox for Star Wars Stamp Promotion

    They're Heeerrreeee...

    Here we have some more catching up on the cross-indexing; Spellweaver plays in the Star Wars game – usually as Kira Keldav. He turns out the Kira-focused versions of the logs, which I then go through to insert what all the other characters were up to.

    Unfortunately, for the last couple of months I haven’t had time to do much of any of that – so here are some direct links to his material.

    Pseudoscience Demolitions: Spellweaver has somewhat more patience left with this than I do, and doesn’t expect people to make most of the deductions for themselves – which means his articles on the topic tend to go into more detail than my general observations.

    • Remote Viewing: The US Governments Clairvoyance Project. I tend to just note that this promised marvelous results at very low costs – and yet it was dropped, declassified, and not picked up by the rest of the world. Ergo, it was a false promise and failed to work. The End. Spellweaver covers it a lot more throughly…
    • Masaru Emotos Water Crystals: The claim that water picks up “emotional energies” from people’s thoughts. Basically yet another claim that the “power” of “positive thinking” has non-psychological benefits. So why don’t the powerful and wealthy get panels of positive thinkers to provide them with all these benefits? Could it be that one of the qualifications for wealth and power is the ability to recognize when something does not work?
    • Masuru Emotos “Experiments” – taking a detailed look at Masuru Emotos own reports on the subject.

    Star Wars Material:

    Indexing Updates; Player Blog Links

    Flag of the Isle of Wight The registered Isle ...

    Faster! Watch out for leaping jellyfish!

    Here we have a selection of crosslinks to articles by one of the player/game masters who is currently involved in the Federation-Apocalypse (Eclipse d20), Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice (Exalted), and d6 Star Wars campaigns. As they say, better late than never – and this is definitely somewhat overdue.

    Exalted – The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice:

    d20 – The Federation-Apocalypse Multiverse Campaign

    Star Wars d6:

    • The Dusk Gryphon – Alys Nere’s personal vessel.
    • Jarim Edar – a Codifier Observer from the Codifier Galaxy, and a man who grew up as a colonist aboard a decrepit Star Destroyer.
    • The Kira the Kat show is a (sadly, in-game only) cartoon based on the activities of the player-characters Most recently we have the Episode Summaries for Season II and Season III.
    • Dispatches from the Hyperdriveless Galaxy part III. This one’s kind of late to crosslink – I linked to parts I and II long ago – but what’s a tale without an ending?
    • An updated character sheet for Alys Nere.

    Sith Hierarchy – The Artificers

    This is an unofficial, fan made map which repr...

    I'm not complaining, but I'm fairly sure that you shouldn't need THIS kind of map to navigate your speeder bike!

    Force sensitives can go over the edge in many, MANY, ways. When a mind taps into the raw power of the force, it reinforces the mental patterns associated with that use – burning them into the mind and making it easier and easier to draw on the force in pursuit of those patterns.

    With caution, and a code, moderation in it’s use, and constant self-discipline, you can use the force and maintain your sanity. Sadly, few force-sensitives can manage that without training.

    Without training you can fall to ambition and the will to power. You can fall to anger and the desire to destroy. You can fall to jealousy and envy. You can fall to greed or to the desire to manipulate. Such patterns are easy, unsubtle, and already inclined to the extreme – and such are the adepts of the Dark Side.

    You can also fall to lust, to gluttony, or to pride. You can fall to seeking after fame. You can even fall to creativity, to love and compassion, or to the desire to discover new things…

    Thus have Artificers fallen.

    At its core, the madness of an Artificer is simply good old garden-variety obsession; the force feedback loop has simply carried their focus on their research to heights of insanity that no normal mind can reach. They’re the stereotypical mad scientists of the Galaxy.

    How much of that is true madness and how much is just being absent minded and hyperfocused on the task at hand largely depends on the individual and on the extent to which the force has control of their behavior.

    To understand an Artificer, one must understand his or her Project.

    Thanks to their precognitive abilities, an Artificer’s project is always something POSSIBLE. That’s not the same as practical, affordable, or even sensible – but it’s vaguely possible, even if the odds are a few trillion to one.

    Projects can range from the utterly mundane (catalog all possible uses for duct tape!) on through a complete analysis of hyperspace, fully automated manufacturing facilities, finding ways to transfer minds into immortal mechanical bodies, creating new weapons, building dyson spheres, or engineering the ultimate plague.

    Some projects are quite innocent, or even helpful and useful.

    Others not so much.

    Still, regardless of how harmless a Project may appear to be at a glance, it is the singleminded obsession that makes Artificers dangerous. It doesn’t matter if some experiment is not a good idea – or if it might wreck a city, or unleash a galactic war, or blow up a city. All that matters is that it advance the research and leave the Artificer around to consider the results.

    They’re impatient too, and inclined to throw things together with the force rather than tediously setting up a proper experiment. Trying out a new hyperdrive configuration is all well and good, but trying it in the middle of a crowded city may not be the best option.

    Still, as far as Sith go, the Artificers are often tolerated, and sometimes even supported. Such dedicated researchers are not easy to find – and most of them just need someone to watch over them and make sure to remind them of the potential consequences of their actions before they try something. Indeed, with proper use of suggestions and steering a train of thought, an Artificer can often be persuaded to assist with any problem related to their Project.

    Artificers tend to travel in groups. Not out of any sense of belonging, but because it means they can borrow spare parts and tools from each other. It is actually rare to see more than one cooperating on a single project though – unless the potential reward would apply to each of their personal Projects in turn. One can expect Artificers to be able to pull off weird stunts no one in their right mind would attempt and to have a gadget for every occassion (regardless of how relevant).

    • Thanks to their focus on mechanisms and devices, Artificers suffer a -3d penalty on their use of force Manipulation and Control unless their target is a machine or device of some type. They suffer a similar penalty on all normal “social” skill checks.
    • They may, however, distribute their Manipulation dice (and any relevant dark side dice or speciality dice) amongst the characteristics of any machine(s) they happen to be carrying, using, or operating up to a maximum of one-half that dice pool invested in any one function. Thus, if one happens to be piloting a Starship and had 8d to distribute, he or she might add +2d to the main weapon, +3d to the shields, and +3d to the speed.
    • Like most Sith, Artificers are always crazed obsessives, and will need to make will checks to pull themselves away from their studies to address other situations – or to resist appeals to their particular manias.

    Recordings from the Holocron of Kira Keldav – Session 78b

    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….

    ABORT!

    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.

    (Kira) Huh?

    (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!