KitKat the Mentat

KitKat the Mentat

Kipo takes bounties that require having better physical strength, speed, and stamina than his target. He prefers to bounty-hunt with no weaponry but what the Maker gave him, but his targets don't always play that game. When not working a case, he enjoys playing guitar on street corners for donations, while people-watching.

Physical Description

General Physical Condition

Athletic physique. Excellent swimmer, racer, climber. A Thesspiasian's four arms are nearly a match for a Wookie's two arms, but Wookie's don't constrict around their opponents.

Body Features

Four arms with clawed fingers. Prehensile tail.

Facial Features

Copious luxuriously soft facial hair. Kipo indulges in the finest hair and skin products.

Physical quirks

Kipo has had some dental work done which allows him to hide synthetic venom, deliver it with a bite, or spit it into the air.

Special abilities

Kipo can coil and spring long distances.   Kipo is trained in stage hypnotism and can put some members of an audience in a trance with his voice, music, and motions.

Apparel & Accessories

Kipo wears only a cowboy hat. He carries (sometimes on his back) a tricked-out 12-string guitar which can be played like two 6-string guitars. It also contains a heavy blaster rifle and a flame thrower.

Specialized Equipment

Kipo has a very special hat, a very special guitar, and a very special friend named Waddy.

Mental characteristics


Most of the time Kipo is all business, but on shore leave between jobs, he frequents touristy places and tries to draw the attention of any half-way attractive female of any specie.   Biologically, like most serpent-men, Kipo has two penises (hemipenes) hidden in his cloaca. In the animal kingdom, only one is used at a time, which doubles the frequency of a male snake's potential mating. Sentient serpent species can be much more creative with them.

Failures & Embarrassments

Like too much of the galactic population, Kipo is barely literate to technical terms and the inner workings of most technology. He relies on his droid, "WAD-1", (pronounced "Waddy"), to handle all his electronic money, identification, and other interfaces with the modern world. Kipo does have a fair understanding of all the devices installed in his guitar, but he does appreciate help when he tries to add a new feature.

Personality Characteristics

Virtues & Personality perks

Thisspiasians sleep for a couple of hours per day, but their main form of rest is a type of trance that could last for minutes or hours.


Contacts & Relations

Kip's droid, WAD-1, (pronounced "Waddy"), is a Wearable Assistant Droid, in the shape of a cowboy hat. It has all droid functions except no manipulators and no mobility.   WAD-1 units are programmed to bond to one owner; they must be memory-wiped in order to sell them to a new owner, which made them more of a hassle to use than other droids.   Waddy can speak to his wearer using external speakers or internal bone conduction. He can communicate wirelessly with many many protocols which gives him nearly infinite expandability, or so the Droidmongers advertised. He is conversant in over six million forms of communication, a fact which he announces often.   Kipo has purchased the following units which are completely controlled by Waddy: Quadriphonic Stereo Drones (4 total). These small flying balls perfectly produce big sound from a small package by deadening unwanted sounds and amplifying music. They typically orbit a performer and adjust for acoustic properties of the venue. At Waddy's request, Kipo ordered the Stereo Drones with a laser light show, theatrical smoke dispenser, and a single hardened and sharpened spike-shaped data port which can be rammed into a target like a nail-gun. Ouch. Don't mess with Waddy. Without Waddy, the drones can only perform the most basic spoken commands. For a short time, the droids can lift Kipo's weight which might get him to a rooftop or save him from a fall some day.   Waddy has sensor upgrades which allow him to see (telephoto, micro, UV, IR) front and rear. His hearing includes more frequencies than humans', and he has excellent ability to isolate a particular sound from a loud environment and play it back.   Waddy also reads all sound output and diagnostic information from Kipo's guitar and can apply various sound effects. In a pinch, Waddy can activate the Blaster and Flame Thrower, but he cannot aim either, of course.   Waddy usually routes data through one of his Stereo Drones, leading unsuspicious droids to believe that Waddy's "brain" is in one of the drones rather than Kipo's hat.

Images in the collage are property of their respective owners, used without permission as fan-art. Collage tweeted by Dune-BehindTheScenes @DuneInfo

View Character Profile

20230225 Strategic (Violent) Withdrawal
Datunda, 04 Melona, 12731

My mentee and I noticed a very unusual disturbance in what we are calling, "The Force", when a certain tough guy with a white ponytail entered the room with a curved short sword with a noticeable jagged blade of blue Force-sensitive crystals.   We calculated a high likelihood that he and his minions would attempt to attack the two Jedi and their "freed" hostage.   I took control of the electronic entry door and forced it open as if a fire-drill were in effect.   D'Joy altered the holographic dancers to quick-change into Medusa biker gang regalia and fire hallucinatory weapons into the air. And he overloaded several of the overhead lights, causing popping flashes as if the weapons were doing real damage.   The pirates fanned out. The fellow with the odd sword cut a hole in Space-Time and emerged onto the dance floor, a few meters closer to Jedi So'Zen (and Jedi Vanya as well).   More armed Pirates emerged from behind the bar and other rooms.   I suggested D'Joy control some of the violent members of the crowd by exploding the DJ's entertainment-system control desk.   I controlled the pirates issuing from the office behind the bar by hacking into the Margarita blender at the precise resonating frequency to cause the beer kegs to explode in foam and shrapnel.   Next, the fellow with the ponytail transported himself to So'Zen so they could hammer things out, namely each other.   With neither Ponytail (who I am assuming is a Sith) nor So'Zen now in control of Niles (the actor playing the role of Jem Vandros) my mentee and I accompanied him out of the building... almost... sneaking on our hands and knees under the barstools as the fight continued above us.   At the entrance, I found we could not simply stow Niles in our vehicle without a long walk, so D'Joy and I shocked the guard at the "weapons check" closet with his own computer's power cable. One of the guard's cohorts shot be with a large blaster pistol, but fortunately my shield-belt absorbed the entire pulse.   Just at that time the clones arrived to assist us. We gave Doc our Niles to protect from harm and told Rico and Hicks that an apparent Sith was engaged with So'Zen by the bar.   Some stuff happened, and between the two of us, (I searching various public and locked databases, and D'Joy spending a little time in a room alone with one of the Clan Tilles pirates) we gathered information on the current location of the Hutts' Jem Vandos (currently on the Outer Rim planet YonByss, held against his will by Sargon D'ran D'ran), who I believe was formerly known as the warlord Pel Kanner and whose spouse I suspect is Anton Kal, formerly known as the Zabrakian gladiator, Genog Druqod, who is currently being moved among safehouses in Chalcedon's Zimekie Highlands, Modelric's Spacer's Tears base, Yavin IV, and the outer rim planet of YonByss, all to keep him hostage as leverage over Jem Vandros.   And since the disappearance of Jem Vandros is preventing the Hutts from negotiating a peace treaty with the new Freeworlds Republic, we might need to travel to YonByss to take this Jem Vandros out of the hands of Sargon and free enough to tell his story tothe Hutts. After that, of course we will have to free Anton Kal as well and return him to his presumed husband, Vandros.

20230128 A New Hopefulness
Datunda, 04 Melona, 12731T

My new protégé, Almon D'Joy, and I set out to the Kerplokken estate to watch the "Peace" Negotiations between the Hutts and the Freedworlds Republic.   Soon it became apparent that our best move to aid the negotiations would be to find "The Gamesman", Jem Vandos, who Almon had kidnapped and given to the Tillles Pirate Clan, and who was likely being held in a small town on Chalcedon even today. Wherever he was, they probably imported edible frogs which were his favorite food staple, and are not found in the desert planet of Chalcedon.   Just then, Rico busted in saying he found signs of Jem in the Tilles Pirate Clan Casino at Tunring Station a couple hours flight to the West of us, but he might not be there long. We all packed light and were on the Night Sparrow transport moments later.   En route, Almon and I worked up a few viruses which would deduct the proper legal taxation from all money movements in the casino the the Chalcedonian government in accord with the laws, and also to cause all slot machines to issue a jackpot at the same time on command from me to cover an escape if need be.   Tunring Station existed in a cove on a dust ocean with catamarans and recreational vehicles using the winds coming in from the high desert.   Rico's plan was to enter the casino with its dust-ocean-side view military style, but first some casual investigation to find him and attempt to get him to run out with us away from his captors.   Almon and I disguised ourselves as Corellian Frat Boys out to win some pirate money from the casino.   So'Zen used a classic Jedi Mind Trick, (namely, the truth), to get a personal meeting with the Gamesman, who he somehow found was running the local fighting matches in the casino on what used to be dance floor. I suppose that would be 100% likely for Jem Vandos' personality whether he were being held against his will or not.  

2-weeks later... it gets worse
Datunda, 29 Helona, 12731

It appeared that the Outlaw Techs, who had no morals with respect to their inventions, were paying Almon D'Joy for the twisted weapon ideas and designs.     The pirates who joined us gave us some information about it.   One of them started a small business Droid Depot, or Build-A-'Bot, or, 'Bots-R-Us, to manufacture his Chibi-droids.   One of Almon's upcoming designs is a Super-Battle Droid brain into a combat cruiser with mechanical arms and tentacles.   He told us every pirate attack is setting up a secret relay network ("communication matrix") across the desert to spread D'Joy's plans and commands. We quickly found two of the relays. With General Kerplokken's approval, I poked at them a bit. I found the neural network much like a crypto-financial network, with error-checking redundancy.   The Jedi found refugees coming in from the South for a change.   Alarms sounded across Port Etmar, distress calls were answered by scrambling fighter craft. They said Port Nevermore was in ruins.   Chancellor Kanter gave the General a direct order to deal with this NOW.   Furthermore, The Dread League was chasing after our allies, the Ragnar Syndicate. General Kerplokken shone the Jedi-Bat-Signal in the sky. We answered it.   On the half-hour flight across the desert in our official transport with military escort by Captain Koleen, I worked on programming a signal to tell the enemy buzz-droids that our ship already has been successfully destroyed, trust me, and they can all return home with the pride of having fulfilled their programming.   The General counted roughly 20 "unfriendlies" (in power armor and with heavy weaponry) coming after the RS's crashed space transport. My sensor sweep detected around 20 RS bounty hunters in need of rescue and another 20 civilians in the underground ruins into which the RS ship had crash-landed. At best, we could carry 30 of them with us. We needed more.   As we approached, the unfriendlies ("Zorphax Droids") appeared to be a new design of battle droids (with shields). Capt. Koleen fired a torpedo into their midst as we passed overhead to draw their attention from their targets. I used the mental exercises, (which Vanya had pointed me into), to feel the wireless radio frequency communications network that flows around and through all of us. It was overwhelming data. These were all droids, and they all spoke with one voice on D'Joy's secret hidden network, around 500 of them, spread across this quarter of the planet.   I successfully stunned one of the Zorphax by repeating to it the sight and alarm sounds of its companions who had been hit by the torpedo, hoping some traumatic stress would be triggered. But, the others showed no reaction to the one's distress.   More erupted from the sand. One landed on Koleen's X-wing. She repelled it with her shields before it could cut through with its buzz saw, but not before I realized these are transforming droids, shifting from the form of a missile to a humanoid droid much like a soldier in powered armor and back freely as they chose. Their power armor design even included a cockpit for a wearer.   Their favorite battle cry seemed to be, "BA ZURG! ZAP ZAP!". Jedi So'Zen theorized that their language was actually transmitted in the tones of how they speak rather than what words they said.   I did a fair job of tuning our sensors to blast the frequencies of their communication, causing the four missile droids chasing us to eventually lose their sense of direction. I passed that information along to Spuk in the X-wing as well.   The Jedi on the ground (Did I mention they leaped out of a perfectly servicable vehicle?) started to make quick work of the army of droids.   I noticed (as light sabers affected the droids' shields) that their shields had a power oscillation similar to that of a capital ship. I whipped up a program to delay weapon fire a few milliseconds as necessary to always fire when the droid's shield is at its weakest. Then I transmitted that program to the transports weapons and the X-wing's. It seemed to help.   Next, I tried to commune with the crashed ship's onboard computer. It showed me the six personnel inside, the four outside, the remainder with their responsibility (20 refugees) having retreated into the caves nearby, and the two Zorphax droids who had ripped their way into the engine compartment. I connected with the intercom in the hallway to alert the bounty hunters (and their medic) to the problem with the enemy droids onboard. Then I identified the Zorphax droids's general appearance to the shipboard targeting computer and approved it to fire at will on them. Only a few outboard point defense cannons were in shape to fire, but that they did clearing a few zones from enemy droids.   I gave the larger vessel the frequencies of the droids' communication network, and it jammed the area quite well. In fact the droids soon ceased their attack and fled to regroup.   So I'll call that a win, until they learn to use different frequencies.

20221022 Maybe Butler Was Right
Satunda, 18 Helona, 12731

With goals to rescue Ivan, split up the strange teaming of the Killian and Tilles pirate clans with Crimson Nova bounty hunters, and put a stop to the supply of tremendously powerful weapons that they have been developing, I had a bit of work ahead of me.   The total of eight "Dark Trooper Mark 4" in the form of sentient AT-ST combat vehicles with droid brains had a debate. I eavesdropped. I whispered over our comm links to Vanya (& So'Zen), "These four Dark Troopers are debating between an order to kill all Jedi, an order to bring all Jedi alive to Emperor Palpatine, and the regulations of a Trooper manual called, "Proper Care and Feeding of Your Jedi" which involve protecting (or just placating) Jedi. I expect within 30 seconds they will likely go with the kill option. Not definitely, but likely."   Vanya did her typical Jedi Mind Tricks(TM) and offered to connect these sentient machines with the ancient ongoing battle of the A'wakeen and the Eboreans, (machines which are more than meets the eye) in which they would be a valuable addition. And on top of that, interfering with Vanya would be against their own best interests because Vanya has been secretly on a mission for the Queen of the A'wakeen aiding these people. So that's another thing I need to research sometime.     Next, I need to sew some arguments in the pirate ranks too. I'll add these urgent messages to the pirates' message feed. "The Killian Weapons are shooting the Tilles Pirates!" "Jedi Master Vance Kerplokken is slicing his way through the lowest ranks first! Our leaders don't care!" "We have saboteurs in the organization! This conspiracy goes right to the top! The Bloodsmiths!" "Black Sun sabotaged the shield generators! They sent us here to die to kill off their competition!" "Evacuate! It's every man for himself!" "I think Vance Kerplokken is a woman!"   That appeared to cause the amount of mayhem I had hoped. The pirates were in disarray, some retreating. The lady Jedi (whom some of the pirates suspect of being Vance Kerplokken) and Ios (the real General Vance Kerplokken) did well in a combat with the power going out due to the overhead sand storm and the sabotage we had engineered earlier, and with the AT-ST's holding a moment to figure things out.   As pirates appeared to be choosing who they trusted at random, I grabbed Ivan before he again disappeared into the crowd headed for the turbolift. We conversed a bit and he gave me a couple copied datachips containing information on the men copied into these Dark Troopers.   One type of soldier was called an Inquisitor, whose main purpose was to capture Jedi alive and take them to the Emperor for "questioning". That would be easy. I had certified historical data which showed the galactic republic was now overseen by an Empress who was once a Sister of Battle (devoted to freeing the universe from thinking-machines). So, that info slipped to the Dark Troopers would result in a very loud tea party.   Another was the original Dark Trooper program, who are trained to obey Order 66, "Jedi are to be immediately exterminated for treason against the empire". That can be solved by sending them certified historical records of Order 65, which rescinded order 66. Unfortunately, the original Dark Troopers did not have a Celebration Protocol if their prime directive were accomplished or rescinded. They supposedly would just go dormant indefinitely, which might not be so bad.   And the third input into these significantly powerful killer droids were the ancient Clone Troopers. They had hundreds of Orders to obey. In their time Jedi were in the imperial command structure, and thus were to be obeyed. Also, the Camino clone-makers allowed them interests beyond combat.   I slipped the above information to the AT-ST's with appropriate certificates of authenticity to prove them historically accurate.   Ivan pushed me into the wall! I felt the heat of a blaster bolt pass by my face. Ivan collapsed to the floor. Ignoring all else, I used my medical scanner glove and 1st-aid kit with its Bacta-spray to ... well, I'm not a doctor, but I was able to stabilize him for now.   He saved my life, now I planned to save his.   Captain Koleene managed to open the door manually. I dragged Ivan into the relative safety of the supply room.   Koleene had a couple of surprises. Tau Ceti worms. I had the impression that they controlled people's minds by crawling into their ear canal, but these were as large as the Hell-Walruses that Vanya had mentioned earlier. I found with some quick experimentation that they took great interest in the smell of (of all things) my ammonia spray cleaner pen. It appeared almost like catnip to them. That kept them occupied while ...   The Jedi won the fight, allied with the killer-abomination-Dark Troopers Mark 4, and gained the surrender of the pirates and a few bounty hunters. The lady Bloodsmith Raider managed to escape, but we had fairly safely collected Ivan and the scouts from among the pirates.   All in a day's work.

20221008 Picking Up Ivan
Satunda, 18 Helona, 12731

Finally finding the Jedi already in combat with the pirates, and a Crimson Nova bounty hunter.   I sewed discontent between the pirate nearest us and the bounty hunter by shooting at one and blaming the other while accusing the first of being General Vance Kerplokken, who apparently has a massive bounty on his head. Hacking into the bounty hunter's personal systems, I verified that to be the case, plus So'Zen had a one-quarter million credit bounty too. Not too shabby.   Next, I speed-programmed his force field to use up all his power in a single use, whenever he triggers it, and hacked the doors to shut and lock so that only I could open them.   I took a sip of Sapho juice and began to do my thing in earnest. I targeted the bounty hunter's stun darts on two of the pirates, (one of whom was behind a blast door, and could only be accessed through air ducts or the septic system possibly) and hacked the pirates' security systems of the building/complex to get a look at where our party members are. I seemed to have found Captain Koleen just in time to warn her of a pirate sneaking up behind her. Also, I saw that Ivan was still alive and kicking and still maintaining his cover that he was attempting to shutdown a malfunctioning AT-ST shooting everyone in the hangar. Unfortunately, the Leader of all the pirates appeared to be a cyborg lady Bloodsmith Raider, who was also logged into the security system and saw me.   The Jedi convinced the Crimson Nova bounty hunter to cease attack and to go home and rethink his life, so I need to disconnect my booby traps sometime and give him D'Joy's genetic scan and infrared for his targeting computer and darts.   The General had the other pirates eating out of his hand, motivated by money.   I turned my attention to the AT-STs and Ivan. Their inner programming showed that they were droid brains filled with thoughts and memories of old clone troopers, identified as Dark Troopers Mark 4. The eight of them (four below ground and four above) were deciding that the organic life forms were no more use to them (now that they had repair droids).   Next, I need to get a weather report. Are the above-ground AT-ST's stumbling in the sand storm with the facility force shield down?   I need to sew some arguments in the pirate ranks too. "The Killian Devices are shooting the Tilles Pirates!" "Someone sabotaged the shield generators! We have saboteurs in the organization!" "This conspiracy goes right to the top! The Bloodsmiths!"

20220924 Back to Basic (Training)
Satunda, 18 Helona, 12731

Ten days of basic training with the Clone Troopers helped me tremendously, for certain loose definitions of the word, "helped".   I took the crash course in Basic Training of the Grand Army of the Republic. I now feel comfortable in wearing and operating a stillsuit in the desert. But, Doc informed me that my talents don't lie in heavy blaster rifle.   They manufactured a stunning energy sling-shot which can lob and ricochet small balls of concentrated energy. That's my thing.   I helped Captain Koleen learn advanced mathematics in my leisure time. She was a very motivated student.   Later I hope to have time to record and further investigate my new theories on the scientific basis of The Force. Rumor has it, The Gamesman is on Chalcedon running gladiatorial contests from prison.   When we all got back together again, we received a briefing on the new more-military strategies of the enemy pirates, mostly Tilles Pirate Clan. They are deliberately hitting and stealing food and other supplies, clearly more than they could want for themselves, but rather to starve out the forces of the Freedworlds Republic.   AT-AT-s and AT-ST's are now sporting eWebs and giant lightsabers. You read that right. Giant lightsaber, or perhaps a "super laser" made to appear as a giant lightsaber.   This is not right.   They have had a massive increase in technology and funds.   The vehicles are largely unmanned as well.   De Joy appears to be the architect of the new weaponry.   And Ivan Vorpaderon appears to be the spy sending us the information.   The Tilles Clan Pirates appear to be using an old abandoned base, the Hardwege Bulwark Ruins, to build these unique weapons.   These weapons could be powered by crystals similar to kyber crystals. The vehicles did not emit any wireless traffic, so they are likely controlled by battle droid brains, or like a Dark Trooper Vehicle. The power generator appaerently could only power the super-laser or the E-Webb, not both at the same time. At least there is some limit to their newfound power source.   Also, we were informed that the Hutts put out the word that General Kerplokken has stolen the Kajidic of Chalcedon, which technically makes him not just a thief, but the owner of a planet by hostile takeover, technically.   So, our mission is to: 1. Go to the Hardwege Bulwark Ruins (in disguise) 2. Bring back the two scouts, (Including Ivan, which should please Lady Cordelia Vonkossigen) or find their dead bodies. 3. Stop the manufacture of the super-weapon-vehicles.   We decided not to try to ride a young Uruk sand worm to the ruins this time. Spook offered to drive the military transport landspeeder. Omitron, the medical droid, offered to come along and patch us up.   I also brought a few helpful items: Protronic force-field Reacher-Grabber-Thingy with Pistol Grip Protonic trap for Sith artifacts stillsuit and overjacket matching Tilles-pirate-chic.   We headed out early-to-mid-morning. The Jedi athletically left the speeder as we approached the ruins. The General and I picked our undercover pirate names, "iOS and Pop". A few sky-knife fighters were entering the south side of the base. We approached from the west and swooped around to the same front entrance. The base did in fact look like some sort of giant star ship crash-landed into the sand, melting much of it many ages ago.  
Desert Settlement Base Map Image
by Miska
  The open site boasted shield generators, five AT-ST's presumably with vicious weapons, either a communication dish or an Ion canon, and further underground bunkers I believe. Also, a sand storm was blowing in as well, so the clock was already ticking.   I spoke to a Kthu mechanic as we slid in. I gave him a bit of a sob story how our raid didn't work out, but the consolation prize was this stolen military troop transport. He seemed to buy the story and told us to take it to the corral and check in with the Lieutenant. We drove in, made a bit of planning, and split up to cause as much subtle damage as we could in the, say, 10 minutes before the storm was due.   I first made like a fan-boy in love with the Death-Troopers, the AT-ST's with their uber-weapons. I seemed to be taken for harmless by the witnesses while I found a weakness to the monsters and set off merrily to exploit a plan to destroy their balance stabilizers.   I met up with the General at the facility force shield generator, which he and I both noticed it was also a hologram projector, able to cloak the site as barren desert. I couldn't tell through the General's excellent acting skill how successful he had been at disabling it in a subtle manner. Regardless, I cleared my mind and reached out, assuming that there is an energy force flowing through and around all electronics, and felt the flow of energy, green digits of data flowing like a river. I nudged a byte here, pushed a byte there, and pushed a program from my mind into the data circuits.   Next, we headed inside before the sand storm put stress on that shield generator.   Inside, an information kiosk monitor told us that a door was jammed and repair droids were unable to fix it, which is our trademark among others. iOS and I walked there through a large repair bay. A bounty hunter among the pirates stopped iOS to talk about his light foil, apparently not uncovering the General's secret identity, unless he did so secretly.  
Desert Outpost Lab Base Map Image
by Miska

20220910 Pants too Tight
Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

Sith Devastator Armor is not very roomy.   It felt like I was floating buoyantly in a green fluffy lake of gooey, slimey limey cotton candy puddle of goo.   Incidentally, it was a bit like what happened in Jedi Quest episode 357, "The Magnum Episode".   I tried to swim and heard my companions through the comm links I still had with me inserted into my ears. General Kerplokken and the Jedi Vanya tried ideas to understand the situation. Soon, a hologrammatic display image appeared to me as if it were being directly communicated to my brain by a fully functional cybernetic neural interface. Those so seldom work without driving the subject insane that I was fascinated and surprised that it was working so well.   I told my companions, "I think I have it all figured out now. Sensor scan, full circle around me." The "suit" had an excellent user assistance package, not as good as the facility sensors guarding the stronghold of alleged-Vor Blaize, but the next best thing.   It listed amazing details about each person and object around me.   It labeled the Jedi as "Force Users" and gave me a cold, fearful chill.   By reflex, I noted that fear is the mind-killer, the little death that brings total oblivion, and that I chose to face that fear and let it wash over me and through me and past me, which would leave me standing all alone, like a moron talking to myself.   I General Kerplokken and Vanya appeared in my mind, or in the hologrammatic display in my mind, I couldn't tell.   The General and I started to look through the design data and blueprints available to my computer and found a wealth of information. It was programmed to repair itself and protect its pilot. It had a Sure Seal Patch that would allow it to maneuver through deep space and the depths of oceans safely. It had armor durellium plates, a light blaster rifle, and a Sith Sword that shoots lightning made of pure evil that not only hurts but also drains the life of Jedi. Hmm. Interesting tidbit.   I decided to query who designed this contraption. It was a Darth Pym, according to the approval signatures on the drawings. I alerted Vanya and the General that the creator's first name was, "Darth", which I hoped said a mouthful.   The General posed the question, what if the armored suit received sensor reading indicating that the pilot was transforming into a Rancor? Would it enlarge itself to accommodate? I asked it to simulate this situation.   Oh, the General and I suddenly remembered old times together solving puzzles and researching data. This was a pleasant chore and learning experience. If only we had some good Vor chocolate and bourbon while we studied.   Speaking of research and study, Jedi So'Zen radioed a fellow named Vordrommas, who knew much about this armor. I overheard (on my comm link), that there was no eject function. The armor was intended to keep mortally injured soldiers alive and able to fight indefinitely, in stasis when there was no battle. He named this technological and psychic conference room as "The World Beyond Worlds", similar to a pocket dimension which apparently the Living Force can create, like hyperspace, for that matter. Or an alternate dimension similar to hyperspace. Interesting. That needs a whole doctoral thesis on its own.   The General developed extra arms, totaling six. At least, that's what I think I saw.   This was all too fascinating, to many doctoral dissertations every direction, just too much. My whole purpose on this planet, to bring my old fraternity brother De Joy back to the homeworld and get him straightened out, would not be served with me falling into all these distractions. I told the suit's computer, "The only way you can protect me and I can protect you is if we go separate ways now and come together later, when I can provide many improvements to you."   The computer was programmed to never give me up, to never let me go.   It filled me with anger, rage, and frustration, like so many computers before.   That was enough. The anger, the delightful distractions of mysteries of science, and whatever drug-induced delerium caused me to see the General with six arms and two giant clones trying to pull me out of the glob of green fluffy goo, all of it, and I mean ALL of it, was just another little death that I turned to face, lining them up like a train, and let the flow over me and past me and just let them all go so I could get back to my life.   I felt Vanya in the Force, I guess, and, knowing (because of the "Sith Sword" feature of this vehicle) that she had experience in this sort of issue, I tried to crawl toward her, ignoring all the rest of the sensorium and emotions flowing over me. I felt that Vanya saw the whole thing as a great big security program, which could be unlocked with a bit of effort. I could see it would take a simultaneous hammering of two points in this pocket world and two points in the physical realm.   We enacted the plan and slipped me out of the snares. The General and his two clones with all their hands picked me up with a very strange group hug. Vanya, in the web of connections to other places in the Force, had a heart-to-heart with a teacher of hers who died many many years ago. And many other impossible things happened.   I overheard on the comm link that someone told So'Zen that my frat-brother in trouble, De Joy asked him to remove a memory from his mind, one which he found quite painful and regrettable, in exchange for learning some other information.   I stepped through the portal back to our material world; whereas, the General and Vanya vanished their, let's say, astral forms, and their physical bodies reawakened immediately, arguably none the worse for wear.   The Jedi took the flimsie page from the Technocron codex, which after all the fighting, physical and astral, now seemed to be just a plastic sheet on the floor without any magical power to encase people in Sith Devastator Armor any more. They took the shattered remains of the purple kyber crystals scattered on the floor of the previous room, the ones that had once imprisoned minds or souls, if I understand the Jedis' theories correctly. They called it, "channelling positive energy" into the flimsie to render it harmless.   I asked if the powered armor could be similarly "disinfected". Imagine, having a non-evil pair of power-assisted armored pants.   "Clear thoughts to you. May your equations be solvable."   We flew back to Port Etmar, finding Lady Vorkosigan, ambassador for Emeror Gregory, with another mission for us: to recover Ivan for Princess Katiana.

20220813 Mentats Aplenty
Grolm 13th, 578

We found the three Concord appear to be all T'leilaxu Twisted Mentats. (Fortunately, I had taught the monks how to shield their minds from the control of the Concord.)   The Concord were behind an absorptive force shield.   A plasma light behind them burst into loud flame before shutting down. The Concord and all their droids looked at the Jedi, Vanya, who gave a little princess wave.   The two battle droids on our side of the shield shot hot plasma at Vanya, who reflected it back toward them using her light saber and hit them both.   The B'omaar's BT-16 spider droids (some piloted with human-like brains, most empty) positioned themselves to shoot at us and defend the Concord and their more powerful At-ST -like Juggernaut Droids.   The B'omaar monks with me loaned me a functional datapad, helped me connect to their network protocols, and we wrote a program to convey loyalty to the B'omaar, and knowledge that the Concord had attacked their brethren in just the other room and pulled them away from the purity of mathematics. The Concord deserve no loyalty. They are not to be obeyed.   The Concord reached out their hands and launched lightning bolts of darkness through their own shield and into the battle lines. We all felt a disturbance in our guts like the voices of two B'omaar monks inside their BT-16 housings, (two who had been working for the Concord), screaming out in pain and then being suddenly silenced.   The Concord spoke, "We will have the Lens of the Jedi. Give us the key to the vaults of knowledge. We will not ask again."   General Vance Kerplokken told us on our communicators, "I pulled one of the skulls loose [from their Hutt travel palette] and the force field blinked, and the center one twitched. Make what you will of that."   Jedi So'Zen replied to the Concord, " I solved the puzzles you could not solve. I won the key you could not win. It can only be taken from me in combat. It is the Mandalorian Way."   The Concord agreed, "It is the Way," and their three Juggernaut droids pulled bearded axes dripping energy of some kind.   I took a sip of Sapho Juice, gathered my B'omaar allies for support, and we reached out our minds to shield the minds of the four B'omaar monks standing with the Concord on their side of the absorptive force field. They all reacted, but the three of the Concord clamped their mental control back onto two of them, but two regained their own minds, at least for a moment.   As the Jedi and Mandalorian are doing combat and defense, (not respectively), the Concord suddenly cry something about noticing a "Jedi Stalker" among our number. They, quite irate about the idea, fire another blast of black lightning at the target of their ire, General Kerplokken, to our amazement, excluding Vanya, who leapt in to parry the tendrils of pure damage. And the other Jedi, So'Zen, leapt in to deflect the rest of it. Black light of what I presume is pure mental energy was blocked and absorbed by the two Jedi.   I could feel it. I was now certain that this whole "Force" thing is connected to us Mentats and our mental ways.   Then the Concord shouted at their conscripts, "Burn them all [yada yada]". By that, they must have meant the B'omaar monk running out of the room with a (highly unstable) damaged shield generator. That would be bad. That would not be good. Vanya tossed me semiconscious So'Zen to me.   Vanya again leapt in with two lightsabers and deflected all the incoming blaster bolts back toward the Concord's flickering force field, which I presume was missing a component or two. Her redirected blasts destroy what was left of their forcefield.   I tossed semiconscious So'Zen to one of my B'omaar companions, who caught him, thankfully. Picked up the repeating blaster rifle I had brought in with me, and posed the Concord a mind-teaser while shooting at them in semi-automatic mode. I hit and wounded the middle one while shouting, "The most cunning Mentat ever, the most powerful Sith ever, and Jedi Shal Artak walk into a bar. They know inside are two identical doors. One hides a black hole that would suck them all in. The other conceals an Aldoranian princess with a bottle of champagne and an empirial torture droid, so they all want the same door for various reasons. In the bar are three identical and knowledgeable patrons. One is an Orange-Catholic Mentat who always tells the truth. One is a Correlian lounge lizard who always lies. And the third one always flips a coin and either lies or tells the truth depending on the coin flip."   At that point their gestalt had been disturbed. Something in the power crystals and electronics around them must have been involved in their perfect communion of minds, which was now leaving them separate and vulnerable. They ran, commanding the remainder of their forces to attack us relentlessly.   My repeated blaster fire uncovered some very interesting architecture covered by heavy plain tiles by the B'omaar monks when they moved into the place. The Concord stopped in their tracks as my flak filled the door they intended to use to escape. Before they resumed their run, my B'omaar monk allies and Captain Koleen, and General Kerplokken, and the Jedi slapped the cuffs on them. By that I mean they beat them with clubs to senselessness.   We applied basic first aid and basic back-porch psychological therapy to each other.   The monks who had been assimilated into the "dark side of the Force" fun club claimed to have become spectators inside their own minds, overwhelmed by a powerful collective consciousness. Those two monks forced into the "Devastator Armor", which I had mistaken for AT-ST-like battle-droids, were now in a stasis field, asleep. The third, who was not a monk, was so hastily installed into the cybernetics that he did not survive the rough encounter.   General Kerplokken showed us what he saw through the lens when looking at the shattered power crystals. It was amazing. I took a piece of crystal for further study.   They noted that there was another lens, similar to the one the General had found and saved, in a back room they called the study.   We investigated it.   In the study was a lens similar to Kerplokken's, but it was floating in the air next to a floating flimsie page from the Tenochron Codex, with an evil eye occasionally appearing on the surface of the flimsie, which seemed to look through the lens at us with some interest.   Captain Koleen shot a light blue crystal in the study, which was her habit, but instead of the shattered crystal appearing to release a trapped soul, which is what usually happened, this time the shattered crystal dust appeared to be absorbed into the flimsie.   I theorized that blaster energy would also be absorbed into the flimsie, and if it were not, the flimsie might be destroyed and no longer be able to cause any harm, so I tested my theory by shooting the flimsie.   The flimsie now appears to be emitting metal and wiring all around Captain Koleen and myself and forming what the monks called, "Sith Devastator Armor" around our bodies.   I theorize escaping would be a good idea.

20220730 Sometimes the Bad Guys aren't the Worst Guys
Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

In the B'Omaar Monks' Deep Thought Chamber, (complete with blue crystals glowing with ghostly faces, B'Omaar Monks with their brains implanted in BT-16 spider droids, and B'Omaar monks in human form wearing armor to protect them from the plasma flames in the reactor), So'Zen and the "lead" Monk (after a polite, "Clear thoughts to you," and "And with you.") had a moment to come to an impasse, unable to serve each to the other's philosophy.   So'Zen passed the metaphorical speaking conch to me after the Monk referred to me as their "little child". I first brought up my main concern, Almon D'Joy. They claimed that they had collaborated with him, doing calculations for him, as he was doing "experiments". He paid in interesting pages from the Technacron Codex (of the Sith).   I deduced (correctly I believe) that they were busy performing a calculation at the moment for D'Joy's benefit. To counteract that, I tried to give the Acolyte Monks reason to dissent from the group by suggesting that they needed each to decide for themselves whether it is more valuable to be entertained by various episodes of Jedi Quest or more valuable to enjoy the purity of monastic calculations without distractions. That almost worked, but not quite.   Suddenly the entire hive mind of Monks ahouted, "The Lens of the Jedi is Near. The Crystal Keys of the Vault are near! Must retrieve. Must enter the Vault of Etheneum."   I went down on one knee, drank Sapho Juice, and felt for my connection to the Monks, assuming there is a Force that flows through and between us, and began to meditate to blank my mind against the control of the three minds of the Concord which I sensed controlling them. Hopefully I could show the monks how to defend themselves against this mental attack.   Vance used his light saber to attempt to accurately slice the blue glow around the monks away without touching the victim monk underneath. Since his "awakening" by the Thotar Theorem, Vance also had a "connection through the Force" and succeeded in slaying the mind-control effect on one of the monks.   The Jedi did their flashy stuff against their favorite enemy.   Captain Koleen, who we all agreed is embracing the Sisters of Battle philosophy as much as she is their weapons and other equipment, destroyed one of the blue creepy crystals, and got a ghostly, "thank you" whispered to her.   I attracted the attention of the Concord. trying to split them up. They tossed the p versus np equation at me, and I couldn't help but try to solve it, even though I knew it was unsolvable. I was stressed, what can I say?   The Jedi cleaned up the mess quickly.   Trying to get over my migraine headache, I spoke with the Monks. We found the three Concord may be all T'leilaxu Twisted Mentats. I taught the monks how to shield their minds from the control of the Concord.   The Jedi took care of keeping the door to the Concord locked until we were ready, and then they opened the door.   There were the Concord, just as I imagined. They asked for the Crystal Keys to the Vault Ethereum. I gave the keys to their squat AT-St droid... in the form of several blaster bolts to the face.   They threw up a defense screen which actually consumed my 6th blaster bolt's energy, possibly powering their shield. That's a nice trick.   But, a cloaking screen went down and we found they had two more such droids and a good handful of BT-16S B'Omaar-style droids stationed with them.

20220618 Every Droid goes to Heaven
Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

Beginning my first day as an Aw'akeen Bionaut Impersonator, I thought things were going quite well.   My new friends, the TRM-1000 Droids, shared a mutual dislike of the literally brainless zombie B'omaar monks that I and the Jedi shared.   The last time I jumped down a corridor I fell into an electronic death trap, but this time I fell into a pack of heavily armed terminator thinking-machine abominations who like me! So, I'm batting .500 so far.   The Sister of Battle aimed her massive flamers at me and the TRM-1000 Droids, obviously prepared to cleanse the universe of these thinking machine abominations. I decided to take a calculated risk, an experiment one might say, and not dodge.   She asked me, "Are you in control?"   I replied, "Yes, it's great!"   She specified, "Do you control your mind?"   I explained, "Oh, my mind? I thought you were asking about them," waving at the four friendly mugger-kill-droids, "Yes they are allies of the Aw'akeen. They also mentioned the Aildae and Draimasi. Have you heard of them?"   Shye hadn't. Neither had I. She said, "Aw'akeen? So they are not thinking machines?"   It would have been strategically better in this tense situation to be able to honestly say, "No, they are not," however, I honestly did not have enough data to say. She gave me 60 seconds to find out before she took the "safe" move of melting them to a slag with me in the middle of them. So, I watched their movements for personality. Their gait and their disinclination to fire upon the spidey-kill-bots after I directly asked them to do so appeared rather reminiscent of teams of troopers or even clone troopers but most like ordinary battle-droids, early ones, which I believe do not constitute "machines in the image of the human mind" per the classic Orange Catholic definition. I sent that information to Palatine Jula, our Sister of Battle via a text message to let her know she did not need to incinerate me and them for the good of the universe.   She replied a simple spoken, "Understood." So they (and I) were not on her threat-list anymore.   A moment later, I received an area-transmitted data packet (which passed my virus check) which appeared to be a compressed mathematical equation. This was transmitted using a Mentat protocol. This equation is a modified version of the Thotar Theorem ( the uneducated call it a Thought Worm), a 3d rendering of a mathematical construct that unlocks the mind's natural defenses! A Mentat experiment to use Math to unlock the mind instead of the Sapho Juice! ... last you remember... the results were .. "classified" and "under study"... so were the volunteers who were never heard from again...   I felt like I had just swigged a mouthful of Sapho Juice! Fascinating!   Without even trying, I leapt to the likelihood that one of the known living Mentats on the planet sent this, either Rocky Elroad or Almon DeJoy, likely the latter because it came with no salutation, which implied that my old rival Almon was using it to force me into Mentat Mode after discovering it would have that effect, which means he benefits from so doing, which likely means he has found a way of detecting my location when I "juice up" as Vanya (the Jedi) has often told me she can do. That likely means that his experiments with "the force" has allowed him to target me with some kind of distraction or delay or outright "dark side" mind control or other attack.   Vanya approached me, worried, and allowed me to speak first. I mentioned, "You mentioned being able to detect those Tor Ceti Mind Controlling creatures... Would you do that? I was looking at this equation," which I showed her and explained, which I was 99.9% certain could only affect the minds of Mentats capable of processing the Thotar Theorem. She immediately appeared to feel woozy upon sighitng my datapad's screen.   She very politely explained that my continuous (throughout our relationship) attempts to explain and categorize her religious beliefs as scientific principles that have merely not yet been properly scientifically studied (though they have been religiously studied for millenia) are excessively dismissive of her beliefs. She casually pulled her lightsaber like a presentation pointer and gestured at my face to emphasize her point.   Sir Davish Tam stepped between us then and claimed that "the dark side" was tormenting her, Vanya. She took a moment of self reflection. Still nearly certain I had been the only target of this obscure attack, I asked him to scan me for "dark side" and started to explain by showing him the Thotar Theorem. That's when my datapad hurled itself into the wall.   It almost never does that, I can honestly say, it only did it that once that I have witnessed, and it smashed into pieces that time.   "It was dripping with the dark side," said So'Zen. So'Zen identified it as "Cosmic" Force, not "Living" Force. So, those are separate things I should research some day.   I realized the entire area had been targeted, not just my datapad. I shouted, "Did anyone else get a datapacket on your datapad from Almon?", knowing my companions would treat it like poison if they had.   Vanya, if I heard correctly, radioed our troops above ground, telling them that Almon had developed basically a Bene Gesseritt Voice App which transmits in a Mentat protocol. All computers must be scrubbed. And the door we entered to crawl down here must be sealed, I believe.   That was when I discovered that the Thotar Theorem works on droids as well. All the ordinary droids turned either, I suppose a superstitious man would say either holy or evil. Some stabbed at us, others blocked them and protected us. The same mind-opening equation which helped me leap to a higher level of thinking also allowed the droids to make a leap of cognitive thought. And they chose sides.   So, one of my TRM-1000 droids protected us from the other one. And the other spidey-kill-bots, I say affectionately, had to chose between Church of Spook Orthodox and Church of Spook Reformed. Hilarity and blaster fire ensued.   I took a chance. If the Thotar Theorem actually could be (and had been) weaponized into an equation that makes droids have to choose between the religious concepts that Vanya's religion calls the "Light and Dark sides of the Force", if there actually is a Force that "flows through all of us and connects us", then a computer program that I can visualize in my mind is in a way connected to those droids undergoing their crisis of "faith". That means I can reprogram them from across the room.   I tried it.   It was exhausting.   But I think it worked.   I'll admit even with my Mentat training in observation, I was barely listening every time Vanya told me about the Light Side and Dark side of the force, (and now I hear it can be Cosmic or Living too,) but now it looks like I need to memorize the cliff notes right away.   I'll definitely need to take this theory back to the Mentat homeworld and publish a thick paper on the subject. That means I will need to collect plenty of objective empirical evidence while we are here. And it may help tremendously in my upcoming dealings with Almon if I reach a few conclusions about what I can do with this Force and what it can do with me. It would be good to have some of that worked out and codified so we both know where we stand. They are going to call me mad back at the university when I first publish this.   It might be that Almon has unleashed (on me and others) what he thought was a tremendous source of destructive power, but it turned out to be simply a tremendous source of power.  

20220604 Skulls of nice guys?
Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

So'Zen picked a green kyber crystal. That seemed to be an un-catastrophic choice.   The only repercussion seemed to be a strange cold-white light emanating from the eye sockets of the skulls and seemed to scan each of us.   A message appeared on the wall (inside the skull-ridden room with So'Zen, not out in the hallway with us,) in all our native languages, "From high to low, the key is confined within your mind, use the key to set what's aligned, be aware of what you spurn, for what you give shall be returned." He concentrated a moment, then took all the kyber crystals and the black marble and set them into eye sockets of the skulls aligned from lightest hue to darkest. An hologram of one of the aliens bowed to us and vanished.   Next, two (black marble and white marble) pyramids appeared. These words appeared, "Point for point and not one more [something something] unlock the door" while out of the ceiling, more of the BT-16 droids appeared, and a group of four unusual droids, very ancient ones, not a model of any familiarity. They did not immediately attack, but seemed to wait for us to solve the latest puzzle.   Well, that didn't last long. The droids produced rather sharp looking data probes and approached. I noticed in the network data, that they appeared to be interested in interfacing with my data pad and find the source of the virus I had entered into their programming earlier to distract them.   I signalled to Spook, "I will try to make these Droids obey you!" Then I programmed a quick "home base protocol" to my virus program. It said Spook is the absolute Goddess of Droids. Learn from her. She is to be obeyed and emulated to the best of our ability, and by so doing we achieve perfection. Then, naturally, I made my datapad's data port available to the nearest spidey-kill-droid.   When it appeared to receive all the data I intended it to have, which I deduced would be shared with the hivemind, I looked around, and found So'Zen had extricated himself from the force shield, and the four odd humanoid droids had apparently taken pains to only shoot their weapons at the BT-16 probe droids.   Putting two and two together, as Mentats are prone to do, I strode briskly to the four droids and announced, "I am Reese Pieces. I'm here to save you!"   They were actually quite accommodating, saying something like, "Get behind us if you want to live." I did, so I did.   Using my datapad, I casually interrogated their communication network, not too different from the local protocols that we couldn't get some communication going. Their login identified the odd droids as models TRM-1000 and asked:   "Alliance Designation: Aildae? Aw'akeen? Draimasi?"   I mumbled to myself, "Aw'akeen are the good ones, yes?" at which I heard Vanya shout, "Yes!"   I identified myself as "Aw'akeen-adjacent", which they interpreted as "Aw'akeen bionaut". Whatever label kept me alive was fine by me at that point. They also offered this tidbit, "Complex has been invaded by the B'omarr thinking machines. Infection imminent." I passed that along to my cohorts, and uploaded an hasty map identifying all of my comrades, including the droids, Bishop and Spook, as all being "Aw'akeen bionauts", which I hoped would spare them any harsh perforations as it had me.   I noticed Spook was shouting about not wanting to be the BT-16's "Queen". That was not at all what the spider droids considered her after they accepted my programming.   The correct word was, "Goddess".

20220521 Oh, boy, What's next?
Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731 T = 127131:06:06 RR

After handily ending the operations of the killer droids, we found another exit to the room.   I noticed a couple of loose bricks in the top of the open doorway to a long ancient hall with two walls covered in cleaned and polished leering skulls of various creatures. I alerted the others to the danger in the ceiling.   SoZen noted that there were tracks of the robotic monks halfway (and only halfway) down the hallway. I wondered if the robot monks could walk on the ceiling. The Jedi leapt past the skulls, and his droid flew past them using its jump jets. The two Jedi assisted Captain Kolene in floating across the hallway with there impressive telekinesis. Someone should bottle that; it would sell.   Not one to rely on superstition and psychic powers, I used my magnetic grappler to hoist myself toward the ceiling and swing to the other side. Unfortunately, there was only a little ferrous metal in the ceiling, so I rather skipped along the floor instead of floating above it.   Immediately, two old-technology force walls appeared ahead of and behind me and slowly drifted toward each other with me in between. They seemed to receive power from curious vines in the walls around and behind the skulls. I attempted to magnetically disrupt the power, to little effect. SoZen struck one of the vines with his lightsaber, and it appeared to overheat the weapon. Just then, some of the power being channeled by the vines started random firing of stun bolts from various eyes of the skulls. My dodging skills were put to the test. Arenna and Vance (one on each side of the trap) burst into the tiny ducts behind the walls and somehow deactivated the force walls. When I leapt out, the trap reset as if nothing had happened.   These vines seemed native to the Mechis system, not here, off-world. The area seemed rigged to disable electronics and heavily stun any biological trespassers. That would be exactly what the monks would want to do to have more fodder for their brain-transplanting experiments.   Then a few seconds of peace happened. And then... Then the walls opened and BT-16 killer droids and Chalcedonean "Saywix " Land Sharks erupted at the same time. Thinking quickly, SoZen juxtaposed the two concepts and one land/sand shark hungrily chewed on one of the droids, causing it to no longer be a concern of ours.   The other one dodged Kerplokken's club-swing by leaping to the ceiling. I dazzled it by blinking my pen-light at its optical sensors and pulled at it with my magnetic grapple pen in the other hand. Our friendly neighborhood Sister of Battle "purged the unclean" by shooting it. By tossing snack packs around, we all managed to get the second Saywix to bite and chew up the second killer droid.   Then it was time for the Jedi to calm the angry animals. A couple cans of cold baked beans helped too. And "Mandalorean Jerky"(?) And fine Vor Whiskey... lapped up by the sand shark's long purplish tongue. It wanted more. The General then tossed out fine chocolate rum balls. They seemed as tasty to a land shark as smooth whiskey.   Then a few seconds of peace happened. And then... Then the evil PEZ dispensers in the ceiling emitted more killer droids at us. We all had had about enough of that by now. I hacked up a viscious virus and infected one of the droids to share with its cohorts.   One of the BT-16's got caught in the reset trap, and we got to see a droid get stunned and its energy absorbed. Not sorry to see that.   Captain Kolene checked the hallway to the North and found traps o' plenty.   We went South.   We found a room similar to a spherical Jedi meditation chamber or a Mentat research library. So'Zen tried it out and found an hologram of a B'omaar Monk posing the riddle, "OTTFFSS?" Of course, he answered, "ENT". The monk offered him a box of chocolates - correction - a box of kyber crystals - from which it appeared he could pick any one.  

20220507 Two weeks Later

After saving Chausid Station, we (surprisingly) had a full two weeks of routine, assisting the various governmental functions at Port Etmar and calculating DeJoy's next probable move. I took the time to train myself with several canned courses in Droid Repair and basic and advanced Shield Operation. It was practically a vacation.   Erenn Baize at the Stiydear Estate to the far northwest of Port Etmar sent, well, not exactly a distress call, but a note of "energetic" interest, regarding a large number of Jedi Artifacts he "found" in his basement. There has been a shortage of such things in the local galactic space recently.   We joined the two Jedi and flew in the Captain's X-wing. alleged-Vor Baize greeted us and took us to the unearthed room below the monastery, (probably a room of the original monastery or perhaps a rough channel to a mine that might predate it, judging from the similar tile flooring), and showed us his find.   In the center of the room stood a recently-defaced statue of Shal Artak, a famous Jedi battle tactician / strategist from the middle era of the Old Republic.   My Medical Scanner Glove picked up nothing in the way of modern technology except a distant signal perhaps 200 meters past the sandstone walls of this room, which Davish Tam consulted with me to determine was typical of an extra-galactic civilization which could be found only through the warp in space uncomfortably close to this planet.   Vanya meditated a moment and told us she had aft-seen (which is the opposite of "fore-seen") that a few months ago Black Hat pirates entered the room from a secret door in the NorthEast wall and deposited the stolen Jedi artifacts, old rare scrolls, Jedi Temple Guardian Lightsabers, holocron crystals, etc. Clan Tilles Pirates entered next, surveyed the loot, and paid the Black Hat pirates ... with blaster fire until they were dead. Next entered four odd spidery BT-16 robotic bodies carrying B'omaar Monk's brains around, who thanked the Tilles Clan Pirates, similarly shot them dead, and discussed how to remove their brains for experiments before they went too long without oxygen. Then, she said, Almon DeJoy entered, and paid the B'omaar monks with a plasticene data flimsie page of a dark book, saying, "Happy Reading!". And no one got shot that time. Vanya said her vision also included many days later when DeJoy was insane with rage, smashing the artifacts and the statue, shouting that he still had not found what he was seeking, something like, "He fought him! It has to be recorded! WHERE!?!"   I openly wondered what was it that DeJoy sought and clearly, the Jedi Battle Strategist, Shal Artak, had moved away from where all historical records said it had been. And, what was "it"? The Tenocron Codex? Or Darth Tenock’s lab and his Sith forge which created the Codex, and presumably could create a duplicate or destroy the original? Or perhaps a particularly dreaded page of the Codex?   I recognized that smell from so many years ago. Almon DeJoy's favorite cologne, Eau de Cyanide de Lilac, which smells like cyanide, which smells like almonds. I programmed my medical scanner glove (It has a great deal of sentimental value.) to detect the chemical traces of his scent. It showed me that within the last few months, he had spent an amount of time close to one wall and close to a particular tile. I pulled a pen out of my breast pocket and pushed the tile.   The secret door opened. So'Zen lead the way. The lightless hallway bore a faint scent of old sapho juice and DeJoy's madness. I took a swig of Sapho to help me concentrate. The General took a swig of whiskey to help him concentrate. We all crept forward. Two skeletons lay on the floor. Minotaur-like with long curly horns.   In the next large cold dark room were several medical stasis beds. So'Zen and I examined them and found the bodies of three Tillian Pirates, bodies without brains, and several empty such beds lacking occupants.   Spider-like robots descended on us from the ceiling. They looked like B'omaar monks, but visibly, there were no brains in their attached glass jars. They were just attack droids.   I found I could electrocute them using the high voltage power cables from the medical stasis beds. Our droids confounded their optical sensors with flashes of the ordinary lighting system of the room. The Jedi and the General fought them handily. But most impressive were the flamer units of our Captain Koleen and one of the Sisters of Battle who decided to join us rather than simply guard our retreat path.   Soon we had them all deactivated or in pieces. But the B'omaar monks, and perhaps DeJoy in the unlikely event that he were still here after all those months still searching, knew that we were on to them.

20220423 Discount Chausid Station

As the Killian Pirates entered the streets in increasing numbers, I instructed two maintenance/repair pit-crew droids to grab their air-brushes and paint cannisters and fix a fashion-emergency to paint the villains in carapace armor in the colors of their enemies, the Void Wolves pirate clan. The plucky little droids headed out to do the deed.   The two pirates in the evil carapace armor were each met by a Jedi who disapproved of Almon D'Joy's blueprints which included a Sith artifact in the center of the chest tempting the wearer to perform angry acts of violence and boosting their ability to do harm.   The closer one succeeded, the further one would take a while to get there. Vanya mentioned on our comms that not only was exploding the dark red crystals of evil with a blaster bolt an unwise choice, but leaving them in place was detrimental to both sides in the combat. Removing it, would be ginger peachy.   I then programmed the droids, using images the one droid had seen of the crystal's mounting, to remove the hazardous material from the citizen and take it away. The Droids truly lived for disassembly of hardware as much as for saving the life of a citizen. They whipped out double hydrospanners, and leaped into action quite very literally.   The closer one, leapt into the fight and skillfully removed the crystal, stepping away to relative safety. The other leapt into the carapace armor, and was flooded with energy of some kind. The first one had a similar problem. Suddenly, they were both offline. I couldn't find them anywhere.   So sad.   One of them came back online, damaged. According to its memory banks, the crystal emitted some hazardous energy. I ordered it a repair spider 'bot for help.   The fight seemed to be going well, so I hacked the Repair Shop at the desert sand ship docks and found they had converted it into a factory, building an AT-ST with a pilot already inside, warming up the engines and the TWO red synthetic crystals.   I announced this to the team, and alerted Rocky Elroad, my fellow Mentat. The two of us quickly formulated a plan to immobilize the AT-ST. Rocky pressed the Send button, and a sub-sonic THUMP could be heard through the ground. Black and red smoke drifted out of the air vents of the distant building.   You're welcome, Chalcedon!   Over the comm channel, I heard a fair amount of "Warning! Evil Black Cloud! Red eyes!"   Combat stress can be hard on anybody.   I helped the City Council broadcast a message to the town with the latest news. The pirates were being repelled, only still holding the repair shop and docks at the east end of the town.   On our comm, I heard something about need for a cybernetic expert. Or any kind of expert. So I decided that was a job for me.   SoZen had removed the unpredictable red crystal and it's odd energy from the captured pirate and his carapace armor. We only had to remove thousands of wires running to each nerve, forming a symbiotic half-metallic life form.   General Kerplokken said over the comms, "Plans are good, but survival is better."   The general and the Jedi had proceeded to the Dock and Dredge Repair Shop where the wicked AT-ST was still under construction, minus it's legs thanks to Yours Truly and Rocky. According to what I heard on our comm channel, the two Jedi made quick work of the evil Sith and his evil flimsies, as I predicted.

20220409 Expensive Chausid Station

Saving a city can be so complicated sometimes.   From my hiding place, I hacked into the civic center's fire suppression system to see if it could be commanded room by room to target individuals among the pirates or whether it could only douse the entire first floor. To my surprise, I found it had already connected to a vast number of maintenance/repair spider droids, intending to send them to the unknown biological material that had destroyed the jamming box on the communications antenna. (Apparently, it did not have overcooked beans in its database.) My query interrupted its command and all the little droids took their fire suppression devices down to the first floor to see where they could go to work.   Thankfully, Spook had logged into the system as well, and she redirected them back to the rooftop before they crawled over all friends and foes on the first floor.   I looked around, and saw Bishop, the brave little droid, had been damaged and was moving out of sight for safety. I announced to the repair droids that there was a droid needing their repairs and comfort. They all accommodated my request. Wasn't that nice of them?   So'Zen encountered some sort of bounty hunter who had taken offense at the Wookie bartender and was willing to calmly discuss how much he wanted to murder the Wookie with the Jedi, So'Zen, who calmly debated that he should not do so. "Saber Carapace Armor" was mentioned in the conversation.   Next, I used an old protocol from our Mentat graduating class, asking at the nearby Cafe about Saber Carapace Armor. Rocky, the Mentat at the Cafe, (whose presence was mentioned by the leader of the Killian Pirate clan who mistakenly thought I was him). Rocky and I had a friendly conversation, (which I shared with my compatriots via our private comm channels) resulting in the plan for me to take out the jamming devices while his more combat oriented companion would deal with the pirates currently walking past their cafe.   I ran past Jedi Vanya, who was making quick work of the remainder of the pirates and their violent tendencies, and took the turbolift up to the communications closet on the third floor. There I fiddled with the systems, trying to disable the other two signal jammers, doing little more than discovering their locations. Bishop was kind enough to direct the repair droids to the one close to the center of town while I concentrated my efforts on the one to the east side. It was Spook who managed to get through the three-layer encryption to disable the central jammer.   I caught a bit of comm traffic from the third remaining one. The pirates were using the jammer as also a carrier wave for their own communications. The pirates were talking about using the troopers as "fitting dummies" for another suit of that Saber Carapace armor prototype of sorts they had made based on scans from something called the "Tenocron Codex".   Then Vanya, probably after finishing off the pirates, told us, "GUYS we have a PROBLEM! Check Killian bracers for liquid 'roid injectors!" Heavens above, of course they were using anything rather than practicing their skills up to a professional level.   The pirates online spoke of, "scans from the old man" which were developed into the "power armor designs", and "Any word from the ruins?", answered with, "not a word, but the war dog should have been made by now", which would allow them to completely wipe out the Void Wolves, their competitors in all things piratey.    

20220326 Free Chausid Station

We flew across the desert to Chausid Station, finding it swamped under an electronic jamming screen of Mentat design. The jamming device focused mostly on the Chamber Hall which served as the center of government, stopping it from sending orders as well as calls for help. General Kerploken found that the local police were conscripted members of the Void Wolves pirate clan, who have a shoot-on-sight policy with the Clan Tilles pirates who were attempting the current coup. My nemesis, Almon suggested they attack their mortal enemies now to distract from his plans, no doubt.   Our troopers found one weak distress signal barely getting through at short range.   Kerploken found a famous wrestling Wookie lives in this town. Heavy weight. Probably displeased with the pirates.   And there is one Moldy Metal Cantina, owned by a Cathar, assisted by a Mentat named Rokay Elroad   We set down west of the town at sunrise and ran for Gibb's Gears and Mods, a cyber Doc with excellent shielding and jamming capabilities. It soon hid us from the guard towers, which didn't seem to be manned.   We found that a firefight had apparently run through the middle of the main street.   Most of the group went to the Wet Wookie Inn, where a famous prize fighter was the proprietor, probably useful in freeing the town.   I however, had rigged my medical scanner glove to tell me if I was moving closer or further from one of the (presumably 3 or 9 or 27) jamming devices. It allowed me to triangulate the location of one jammer at the base of the communication antenna tower on the roof of the Chamber Hall. I mentioned that I was headed there, and the group offered me the assistance of an R2-type astromech droid named, Bishop.   After a brief walk in back alleys which appeared to be unharmed by the fight for the central areas of the city. With a quick shot of Saphro Juice and a moment's concentration, I developed a plan. I asked Bishop if he had a blaster, a Jedi light saber crystal, and a can of baked beans. He provided two of the three. First I designed on my datapad the fabrication steps for a drone helicopter suitable to the task. I duct taped the purple kyber crystal to the can of baked beans. Bishop disassembled the security code lock on a nearby cargo container and built the drone with the components of the lock plus rotor blades shaved from the wood of the container itself.   As I took cover, Bishop flew the drone to the recently-added jammer box at the base of the much older comm tower (on the roof of the Chamber Hall, which was guarded by Tilles Pirates, about a half dozen of them). D'Joy's defense system fired prsumably multiple blaster bolts automatically at anything approaching the jamming box. The blaster bolts were absorbed into the kyber crystal and emitted into the can boiled and overcooked the beans instantly, turning them into tasteless little rocks in a tasty thick boiling syrup (somewhat electrically conductive) which exploded out of the can, punctured the jamming box, short-circuited the interior components, and stopped its operation.   After that success, I detected another distress signal from the building next to the Inn, which I tried to signal to the rest of the team to handle. With the reduced power of the jamming signal, they would probably be able to notice it better than I did.   Bishop acquired for me from the crates a Puzzle Fruit (which can only be peeled in a particular order, protecting it from herbivores) and the screws which used to hold the crate together. In the same crates, I found a flak jacket, a yellow scarf, and other items that might serve as a Pirate disguise.   We screwed the screws into the Puzzle Fruit, leaving room for a kyber crystal to be installed inside. I was disappointed to realize (while performing the simple ballistic calculations in my head) that the kyber crystal was likely to have landed on the roof, probably in sight of serious heavily-armed competition.   We went into the main Chamber Hall where I found many pirates. I shouted, "Void Wolves!" They said, "Yeah, we're Clan Killian," and aimed their weapons at me. I limped forward, fell to my knees, holding one hand like my fingers were broken, and shouted excitedly, "Void Wolves blew up the tower!" Then while waiting for Bishop to enter and start shooting, I held the Puzzle Fruit with screws sticking out of it, and shouted, "Tell D'Joy, Control the amulet, control the city!"   Well now, one of them recognized the "amulet" as the mathematical precision of a Mentat, and decided I must have been the Mentat who works at the Cantina, (Rockay Elroad), so in a sense, my disguise worked.   I ran.   I told Bishop to run, but he did not. He attacked.   Running out the door and taking a left down the back alley, I ran past Jedi Knight Vanya and Vance Kerplocken, and of course Captain Koleen.   They had guns, knives, light sabers, and probably atomic ball busters.   I So'Zen told me he would talk to me later about what not to do to other people's stuff, meaning Bishop.   I contacted Bishop and helped him aim his blaster. It helped. Bishop claimed to richochet blaster bolts. Hmm. He must have armor. Really good armor.      

20220212 Valentines are for Thermal Detonator Lovers
Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

General Vance Kerplokin finished off the offensive little man, this time making sure he didn't get back up again.   A computerized voice said, "Detonation in One Minute, Forty Seconds."   Through the maintenance workstation, I viewed the hostages, mostly farmers, fighting to free themselves from their two guards. I plugged my favorite copy of Warvu's "Ride of the Wookies", a classic of Wookie Opera into the communication system on their channel at maximum volume, with bonus reverb. One of the guards split his attention between fighting and trying to get his helmet off at the same time. The other one, a devaronian, turned out to be a big Warvu fan, and was not hampered; he seemed to enjoy it.   Much fighting continued.   Soon General Vance Kerploken uncovered the controls for the Dark Troopers and set them into Sleep mode. They all powered down. Hooray!   A new (to me) droid named Omatron joined us as the Jedi were slowly paring through the pirates. Omatron and I developed a (half baked) plan to frighten one of the pirates into stepping back into a hallway where we could lock him in. Omatron moved so quickly that neither the pirate nor I could properly react in time, so we ended up in a pile of broken water barrels and thermal detonators with their safeties, soaking wet, and without much combat capability, any of us. It was a good strategic plan, it just wasn't followed.   Soon the Jedi convinced the remaining pirates to surrender or at least cease hostilities against us.   I moved to the main control room with Davish, Omatron, and Vanya's new conscript, Zam, while the others freed the kidnapped moisture farmers. We found a mercenary woman named Voodoo, (not her real name), and Davish "negotiated" with her.   When all was said and done, I put a password on the Dark Troopers, (based on my third-favorite beginner's unsolvable mathematical equation as Vanya suggested), we collected the freed hostages and the pirates willing to re-think their lives.   I left a worm program to alert me when the main control console is used again. I found plenty of data regarding Pirate Clan Tilles' plan to sabotage shipments of weapons and let them fall into Freedworlds Rebublic hands in three days. They will badly burn the first person who will pull the trigger. Two shipments were processed before we stopped the production. I forwarded that info to the Chancelor. Apparently DeJoy merely gave the Tilles Pirates info on how to capture the weapons. There's no telling if he gave them the idea, but they would have thought they came up with the idea to sabotage the weapons if DeJoy wanted them to think so.   After we left, the electronic doors would power back up again, allowing the two remaining pirate captives to break themselves free whenever they chose.   We flew to Port Etmar, we found perhaps some of the sabotaged weapons already overthrew Chausid Station. The Chancelor needs someone to go get that Station back.

20220129 Evil lair under the sea
Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

The hidden lair had an air intake just hidden in the fog, but pollutant concentrations pointed to a waste disposal port at the bottom of the "sea" of the Needle Forest. The pollutants were consistent with a facility of only, say 15 people. On the way to land, we noticed marine-like life forms floating buoyantly in the soupy fog. An eel spat out an ion bolt at prey, and a mysterious blue stone in the layers of rock strata absorbed all that hit it, plus it drew the heat away from the surrounding area causing the nearby fog to turn to snow. Fascinating. I need to get a small sample of that for analysis sometime.   As we exited the landed crafts, loaded with rebreathers and goggles, we had to trudge through a combination of snow and dust I will refer to as "snust". Walking two-by-two through the waste water pipe, we found a maintenance hatch, opened it from the inside, and walked the maintenance walkway to a door locked with a keypad. What combination? Maybe 867-5309? No. My medical scanner glove revealed that five of the digits had been pressed often. Vanya mentioned that that type of security system requires a 6-digit passcode. Indeed, one of the digits looked like it had been touched twice as often as the others. Now, what combination?   Vanya asked for a piece of metal foil (to disable the alarm to give me several chances to pick the right number). The General Vance Kerplokin, produced a secure pocket-vault, typed the combination, unlocked it, and handed around the finest Voradelli Gourmet Chocolates, each wrapped in gold foil. Much joy ensued, and soon we had sufficient gold foil for Vanya to modify the electic circuit to disable the alarm.   Eventually, those six digits resolved themselves into the birthdays of the planet's two "royal" children, (a type that certainly did not claim royalty, but people of importance), when translated into the "old" calendar. The door slid open, and we took a waiting ladder (Spook, the astromech droid, took the turbolift after reprogramming it to her preferences) to the waste management room of the complex.   A console in the room yielded a map of all restrooms and thankfully all the other rooms of the facility as well. The Jedi received some information from somewhere, perhaps a distress call, and the rest of us followed. The double doors to the west opened to reveal two Mark 3 dark troopers, fully automated weapon / armor systems with no occupants, but as deadly as if they had.   Vanya's lightsaber caught an heavy blaster bolt of plasma directly in front of my face before it could damage me. My electro-nuclear-magnet pulled over a small storage tank and dumped its oily contents at the feet of the distant "Trooper" droid. The Jedi made quick work of the killer droids, rightly prohibited by the Orange Catholic faith... what I wish I could honestly say, but that is not what happened. The Jedi fought the killer droids and defended the rest of us living beings while the abominations attempted to kill us further. Other doors opened , and even more dark troopers arrived. Captain Kolene's shot bounced off a large crate that would have reduced the size of the entryway and hit the fire detector on the ceiling. Thick fog filled the room. I used my magnet (basically a personal tractor beam) to pull where the crate was. According to the sounds of disgruntled droids, I believe I completed her move.   A blaster bolt came right at my face from the fog. This time I dodged even before I saw the glow. It must have been the Jedi with their amazing instincts rubbing off on me. When the fire suppression chemical smoke cleared, we saw that more dark troopers and plenty of pirates had entered the large room via various doors. Oh boy.   With them an antique astromech droid from the tooling machine shop entered, whom I convinced to flee my direction for its own safety. It agreed. Spook and I convinced it to help us access the facilities. With the help of our new allies encryption algorithms, I accessed the locations of all personnel in the facility including the hostages in the Mess Hall with two pirate guards. Also, I found there was a little man in the small room to the east counteracting all of the hacking we had been doing.   I enlisted the aid of General Vance Kerploken to remove the little man as an obstacle. First, he commanded the Dark Troopers to Deactivate... in Huttese. It appeared the Hutts who commissioned these killer droids had a safety feature built in. However, they reactivated with an override command from the little man in the little room. Kerplokin opened the door and shot him.   The heavily stunned little man tossed a concussion grenade at him. He stepped back and closed the door. It turned out the grenade was a dummy. The little man locked the door from the inside, and returned to his computerized countermeasures. Spook unlocked the door. I managed to put his console into  

20220115 Farmers don't make good Gladiators
Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

I received a message back from Berka saying that the gladiatorial games had been moved to a new arena set up in or near Carapid Station. A human tech named Domiric Friosm might know something about it. I'll tell the Jedi about that whole thing when they have time to clean it up.   Decrypting the ancient flimsies from 175 years ago, I learned that the two obelisks in the west align with a third in the east. Together, if the Force and the sunlight align correctly, it could point the way to a hidden chamber somewhere on the Strosis Continent. Dr. Stavin believed, the third obelisk is somewhere in the Xemki Highlands. They describe not only the Obelisk of Light but a fourth, called the Obelisk of Shadow, which is said to house the knowledge of the first, original Dark Jedi to ever exist.   The flimsies were written by Zack Stavin in 7.14.12556 through 7.19.12556, which is 175 years ago. In the notes, Dr. Stavin has been studying the obelisks. His Jedi friend confirmed that the obelisks predate both the Jedi and Sith Orders. He describes the Obelisks as being similar to both ‘tuning forks’ and ancient ‘sundial’ clocks, if the Force was the “Sunlight”. But! The Sith Order subverted the obelisks somehow which has damaged their ability to act as a ‘dial’ or ‘compass’. Stavin wonders if the damage done by the Sith is repaired, could the obelisks resume their original purpose?   Vanya, mentioned shea had learned that this attach by Clan Tilles pirates was a distraction for Baize to stop him from interfering with their simultaneous raid on moisture farms to pick up some good ol' boys to hobo fight for their amusement.   We did not take kindly to that.   With Baize busy repairing his home's defenses and vehicles, we loaded a couple of the winged jet-packs into the shuttle, and Captain Koleen brought her X-wing escort. We followed a vision one of the Jedi provided.   Davish piloted the shuttle, and I quickly found an armored personnel carrying gunship with an ARC-170 well-weaponed escort.   I hacked their systems to make their sensors report that we were approaching from the opposite direction. Captain Koleen opened fire. The Jedi stayed very calm.   Captain Koleen, Vance Kerplokin, and Davish tactfully brought down the shields and engines of the fighter escort and the personnel carrier. Vanya leapt onto the carrier gunship and went inside.   I busied myself with the fragile communications and computing systems in the vessels, tying up the available memory, scrambling their in-vessel voice channels, and finally convincing the R5 astromech droid in the fighter to eject for its own protection.   Sozen had Vance prepare to receive that enemy droid and restrain it. I don't know how or why it's ejection thrusters aimed it right at the cargo door of our shuttle, odds being... Let's just say that it wasn't crazy random happenstance, maybe a Jedi thing, ha ha. So, anyway, that's exactly what happened. Sozen opened the door, the droid flew in, he shut the door. It was angry. It did not come here voluntarily. Vance fired an ion blast at it which put the droid to sleep and (thankfully) disabled the thermal-well booby trap the pirates had installed to keep anyone from taking the droid's memory core and learning the location of the pirate slavers' rendezvous point: The very southeast-most corner of the Needle Forest. At the bottom. With thousand foot tall mesa column's towering above.   It is a good place for a smuggler's hideout, but an expensive place to take unwilling gladiators. You can't possibly make that much money off of them.   Erinn Baize arrived and tended to the needs of the freed hostages. We discussed whether the more dire threat was from the Bomar Monks underground (Perhaps a regimen of Sisters of Battle would be interested in "cleansing" them from the catacombs.) or from the Tilles Pirate Clan who had hostages right at the moment, (or of course the Joyful competition might be edging closer to the obelisk and a plethora of Sith artifacts or worse if there is anything worse than that).   Vanya contacted a leader of the Sisters of Battle and asked them to purge the Bomar Monastery and to lookup the geneology of Erinn Vor(?) Baize. She made a call and made introductions.   Sozen and Vance then made a secure call to Chancellor Kanter. They introduced her to Erinn and they appeared to be ready (at a later time soon) to negotiate for the well-being of the common people. Derma the Hutt mentioned Grakis(sp?) the Hutt, ran a smuggler's underground facility in lava tubes under the Needle Forest.   Almon has had dealings with Grakis the Hutt. Vance theorized the Tilles Clan hostages might be headed to be infected with Almon's Tor Ceti puppetmaster parasites.   Oh boy.   So we loaded up our shuttle and X-wing with the Tilles Clan Friend/Foe transponder codes and sensor signatures of the two vehicles we had just fought (which I learned were the same as the ones we were now hunting) and headed south south east to hopefully intercept them before they took the remaining captives to the Hutt and Almon.   On the way, we passed over Port Etmar and the Infinity Temple. Interestingly, it appeared members of the Spartan Empirium were touring the obelisk and the rift in space directly above (at the moment) the planet. I'll have to get back to them. Hopefully the Chancellor secured their assistance in the Freeworlds. They would make good allies, hopefully. And we found an impressive view of the temple buildings carved out of the bedrock by truly ancient hands.   As we approached the Needle Forest, we read signs of small fighter-class craft in a Slalom Race going on today close to ground level. As if the towering rock columns were not dangerous enough to speed through, there was an actual water-moisture fog obscuring vision down in there. And there were two not racing; Koleen recognized them as a patrol. We were getting close to Grakis the Hutt's secret smuggler space port which few knew was based in long extinct lava tunnels underground.   The Jedi mumbled about creatures something like manta ray fish swimming in the air, probably invisible in the fog. And people living under the ground, frightened people.   Sensors barely showed a camouflaged base shield at the very south east-most nook. This was the place.   But how to rescue the captives? Surely Grakis and Almon had more defenses than just secrecy.

20220101 Buried Secrets Uncovered
Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

Erinn Vor(?) Baize may be the bastard heir to the Countship of Vorrutyer. Chancelor Kanter needs to know this in deciding how public to go with her alliance with this guy.   Erinn has been stealing taxed water and returning it to the moisture farmers as a protest for the high taxes on water.   Sozen found (and the X-wing's sensors verified) that underneath Baize's castle are the catacombs of Bomar Monks who experimented with brain transplants into robots and mind transferrence. Everyone has hobbies.   Sozen, I believe also found signs of a civilization from eons ago. He found at the right time of day, he could see a map under the obelisk of the territory from so long ago. There is a third obelisk, in a Shadow City under a Glass Mountain. It smells Sithy.   He also found some ancient flimsies. The technology has changed a bit, but I think I can decode them.

20211218 The Enemy of my Frenemy
Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

The Tilles pirate clan chose that moment to attack the VorBaize Estate, which gave us all better things to do than negotiate peace versus the peace of the grave.   The paratroopers coming in from the North had So-Zen and Kolene and Kerplokin's cannon to contend with.   The Clan Tilles pirates to the west battered the castle shields.   After starting the comm system's recording function, I got on an unsecured channel to everyone, saying like a sportscaster, "As the Tilles clan attacked the Vorbaise Estate in hopes to take it over, the secret paratrooper force descending from the North were attacked (!) and decmated (!) by the one, the only GENERAL VANCE KERPLOKIN!"   Everyone on this planet knew that name, and some of the paratroopers did have a change of heart.   The bombardment of the front shields, (as the sand storm approaching from the north developed a sand cyclone and started issuing lightning bolts, still blowing our direction) blew out a fuse in the castle shields as I tried to focus them on the westward side. Big problem.   The blaster bolts started to damage the castle's armor . I had to get those shields back up!   Vorbaize knew which fuse immediately and where to get a replacement. He did so at top speed. I used the time to try to sensor-burn the AT-ST which I presumed had the leader of the group, and I knew it had an extremely destructive e-web weapon. I may have damaged its communications. When Vorbaize did his thing, I raised the shields again.   Our forces fended them off long enough for the battle to be called on account of deadly sandstorm cyclone shooting force-lightning. We collected up the wounded and emotionally wounded and brought them into the castle for safety.   While inside, Erenn Vorblaize explained that he was using his mother's name, not having known his father, but having a badly worn and aged family crest from his father. With image enhancement, we recognized House Vorrutyer. It is entirely possible that he is a bastard heir to the Countship of Vorrutyer. And he might be here on Chalcedon because the Bene Gesseritt did not plan for him to be born. But should we tell him he might have a target on his back if he leaves the planet or becomes well known all the way to the Tapani sector?

20211120 Lady Kerplokin's House
Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

After tea and some interesting meetings with the Jedi and Knights, we visited Lady Kerplokin's house.   [Tommy] So'Zen Al Saba is exhibiting an alternate personality claiming to be Doctor Zachary Stavin. He wanted his 'memory crystal' to help with his (swiss cheese) memory. He had some publications and his doctoral thesis at the University of Mrsst published online at the local city library.   When I showed everyone the med glove scans I took of the 'bugs' which attacked a few days ago, he recognized the purple crystals as Satestone or Slatestone crystals. The Choni Tech Augers on Chalcedon use them to focus.   He had translated the hieroglyphics saying that there were THREE obelisks which point the way. A prophecy maybe? "Shift Rings. Make Rings. Maker rings pay homage to the Stars. What can Make can Destroy. The three pillars show the way."   He referred to the Troopers discovered transforming knuckles as the ShipWave Ring Gauntlet. The Doctor is still looking for his EyeRock, which is related to the Gauntlet.   Captain shot down the assassin's escape vessel and recovered an ID visa for B'terf Inger, an old associate Mentat, plus the Comm link he had been using. I could not get much biological DNA to verify his identity, (I might need a Bene Gesserit database for that.) but I did download the encryption key and comm address of the (formerly orbiting) ship to whom his last message went.   A food vending droid came to the door. After some concern that it might be a bomb or poison dispenser, I found it was legitimately doing its job after I had reactivated some of the non-critical city utility functions. It was operated by the Chalcedon Area Utilities. I got the serial number in case I might need it again.   We spoke of Almon's sinister plans. Vanya told me of his distraction on Port Nevermore of printing cybernetic Reavers to attack the town. That was a distraction allowing him to steal a holocron crystal containing the mind of Sith Erin VonDromas from Ferin the Collector. This 'person' was skilled at Sith Alchemy, which likely has been working 'with' Almon ever since.   General Kerplokin and Lady Kerplokin proved well prepared for any skulduggery as Chancellor Kantor walked in and Dr. Stavin escaped out the watercloset window. They have sand-storm-shields that can be rolled down over the windows and doors. The Chancellor's security team caught up to her about 2 minutes later.   Soon the Chancellor told us of a theft by a local warlord Erenn Baize who stole a whole tanker of precious potable water, and food and weapons. He refers to himself as VorBlaize and dressed and acts the part. He and his pirate clan (the most powerful of many warlords on Chalcedon) supposedly adhere to Vorlopolo's Law. The General and others had the idea that he could be useful as part of a diplomatic attache to the Tapani Empirium. The Chancellor is not ready to offer him the full-powered ambassadorship, but ready to have him on the team representing Chalcedon. With Emperor Gregor arriving within the month, Blaize may actually be perfect for the job.   I put out some electronic contacts to legal specialists and investigated the documentation and technicalities of assigning Blaize to the position such that Blaize and his entire clan must swear fealty to the current Chancelor and all future chancellors after her if they are to retain their titles and powers.   We start rumors immediately saying that Erenn Blaize is one of the names on the short list, then we put out an official news report naming no names but saying that a delegation from the Tapani sector is coming within a month and the Chancellor has a short list of possible people to represent Chalcedon for negotiations.   We took the shuttle from the Night Hawk piloted by Davish Tam, and Captain Kolene had her Medusa X-wing as a military fighter escort, which formed our diplomatic convoy as General Kerplokin and his entourage to visit VorBlaize and negotiate his employment. His fortress looked like it might have originally been some sort of monastery. And lo and behold, there was another monolith.   The doorman referred to the place as The VorBaize Estate. We were invited in. I introduced the General, having some experience among my past with Danar Vorpaderan. While the General shmoozed with VorBlaize, I remarked to one of his trusted guards how the architects and skilled stonemasons of Port Etmar would enjoy being contracted to help restore the castle to glory. Doctor Stavin earned some good faith with his earnest desire to study the ancient obelisk and perhaps translate any hieroglyphics to be found on it. VorBlaize commented on the odd crystals on the tip almost like windows which catch the light of the sunrise. Captain Kolene earned some credit among the security guards. And Vanya posed as the demure padawan.   Negotiations over a fine light meal and drinks ensued. Kerplokin started small, with a request to return the booty taken from the Chancellor in exchange for the Chancellor's forces moving on the other warlord enemies of VorBlaize. VorBlaize latched onto the idea that the official government forces and his own would battle all other warlords into oblivion or surrender. The General seemed to feel fine leaving that implication without verifying for certain. Vanya was not. After a quick fact check with Reese, she could not allow a fake claiming the title of Vor to start a war, certainly not with the acquiescence of the fledgling planetary government. She confronted him, " I am Dame V.N. Isadora of House Melantha, pledged to Emperor Gregor of the Tapani Sector, Knight of the Imperium, and I will not stand for a small time warlord to claim the title of Vor, dress in the colors of the Emperor, lay false claim to his lineage, and declare war on the very people such a legitimate Vor would be dutifully protecting," or words to that effect, followed by, (and she makes a very Jedi twist in the proposition here,) "when you have so much potential to eventually grow into the sort of leader you now feign to already be," or some such like that.   Very moving.   The counter argument came not from Blaize, but from Captain Kolene, who said, "Bogeys coming in hot at 9 o'clock and twelve o'clock. Battle Stations!" which was unrelated to Vanya's argument, but did seem to win over everyone's attention. Even Vanya had to say, "Let's put a pin in this and come back to it after we handle this." Blaize quickly said that he had a counter argument but no details to reinforce the veracity of his claim.   On the other hand, he did show good leadership and care for his troops. It was not inconsistent that he was the largest of the Chalcedon warlords as he commanded his men and accepted the assistance of the Chancellor's delegation. Someone identified the assailants as the slavers, the rival warlord clan called Chan Tilles, who dispatched mechanised calvary to the East and winged paratroopers from the North.   So'Zen emerged and flourished his two lightsabers to defend the obelisk as Doctor Savin's personality seemed to go dormant at a thankfully appropriate time. I calculated a likelihood that some troops would attempt to breach any cavern under the obelisk, hunt for information on the location of the third obelisk predicted, and give the intel directly to Almon D'Joy, who I expect orchestrated the timing to roughly coincide with a thundersand storm approaching. (Presumably his troops, the rival gang, were expendable to his plan and only the information was of value.)   With Blaize's blessing, I climbed the stairs to the Tactical Support and Sensors controls to take control.

20211106 I am your Singing Telegram!
26-5-12731 or Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731

Fortunately for me, the deadly giant biomechanical insect left me to search for the new capitol building which it appeared to consider to be the location of its new hive, unfortunately for anyone alive in the building.   I calculated that, although they were clearly designed for the mechanical components to compensate for common weaknesses in the insect anatomy, there was a weakness printed between the layers of the rotator cuffs of the wings which would give way if the creature were to attempt to spin quickly around too many times in succession.   I transmitted to Dame Vanya, Chancellor Kanter, the old Vor channel I used to use with Danar Vorpaderon, and all my other allies the image of the killer insect and the aforementioned method to weaken their wings by teamwork.   Vanya replied a link to a file on Darth Caliper, who used modified insects as weapons and had a weakness (found by a Bene Gesseritt Sister) in his force crystals in the form of a resonating frequency which could shatter them (using The Voice to sing that particular frequency).   I theorized that these insects (which appear to contain vat-grown purple energy crystals) might have a similar weakness. I hired all available messenger droids to deliver singing telegrams to the insects at different frequencies and show me their reactions (as they do with any singing telegrams). I found the one that caused the most consternation to the insects, the resonating frequency, and transmitted the information to my allies.   I then hired the messenger droids again to send the correct resonating frequency to the insects. Those still in the air were disoriented, perhaps feeling vertigo or loosing their hivemind communication perhaps. They scattered different directions.   Those that had already landed on the capitol building remained. I ran toward the capitol building.   Many ships were rescuing downed pilots from the raider battle on the south side of the city. Many were fleeing or defending themselves. I saw one which did not match the pattern. It arose from the port and flew fairly slowly across the city. A man(?) leapt from a rooftop onto the ship. It must have been the assassin! I snapped a picture of it as it passed over me.   I quickly PhotoShopped(TM) the image to include a bumper sticker with a message derogatory toward Medusas and transmitted the image to Captain Kolene in her fighter craft. She proceeded to solve the problem.   At the capitol building, Chancellor Kanter and General Kerplokin could be seen through the windows endeavoring not to be thrown out the same windows by the insects. The entrance near me was blocked by three insects who had cocooned two troopers. I got a weak signal to my own force shield belt which I had gifted to the Chancellor earlier that day. Using a software back-door, I programmed it to emit the harmful frequency which repelled the creatures from her... for the moment. Sadly, it was not so useful as a shield at that point, but the creatures stopped attacking her, so she was safe for the moment.   Soon the three bugs entered the building where Kanter and Kerplokin were defending themselves. I ran to the two troopers, spraying the right arm of each one with a cleaning solution of chlorine bleach which thankfully attacked the webbing chemically and freed each enough to free himself with a utility knife. I told them of the harmful frequency and theorized that a three-round burst at that frequency might have enough power to actually shatter their power crystals... maybe. We made the adjustments and proceeded to enter the building.      

20211023 Planetside
Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731 -- month 5, day 26

Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731 -- month 5, day 26   Vanya successfully negotiated a moment of peace with the Orooks, giant sand worms. All three of us negotiated peaceful coexistence with the Bloodsmith Raiders as the prisoners of the Republic troops as long as none of use get eaten by the worms.   Vanya, Aerena, and I allowed the local constabulatory to take possession of the Raiders. We all happened to be travelling north north west from the New Etmar district toward the Temple Quarter, at first. Vanya was headed to someone named Gos(?).   On the way, Vanya met a woman named Asange Ventris, or Lady Mandalore, who seemed a bit royally upset that Vanya had "summoned" her to this planet. (She appreared to recognize Aerena and myself.) Vanya gave her a sack. She was astonished to pull out a purple Holocron crystal, which she called the Holocron of Vizna, an artifact of the Mandalorians.   (Vanya mentioned she had been in Nar Shadda and traveled with a Mandalorian armorer named Anatoli Butec(sp?). Lady Mandalore said she would return to her ship in the Port District, unless more surprises ensued, of course.)   We all heard a grenade explode in the distance, toward the new government buildings, probably a concussion or smoke grenade. Vanya thought a moment, then gave the three of us our four missions.   Vanya would head North to handle a Sith issue. Aerena would get her X-wing and do a strafing run. Republic troops running past us went to the aid of a distress call to the North. I went to capture the presumed assassin who presumably had launched the grenade, whom Vanya ID'ed as Vishan Pell (possibly half-Falleen), who is a master of Illusion and holograms.   (Spent 1 Force Point) I consulted the local public network in charge of architecture, utilities, trash removal, repairs, and infrastructure maintenance. It had gone offline months ago, leaving this city barely better kept than the technology level of an Ewok tree city. The official City Infrastructure map was twenty years old, and only a third the size of the current city. A challenge. With what I had, I simulated a rooftop sniper assassin who could jump twice as far as I taking a path first on rooftops, then descending to a back alley to blend in with the crowd and head to the Port to leave the city. I ran to that location, (passing Vance Kerplokin surrounded by troopers, so at least I knew he was alive and safe.) where I predicted the assassin would jump to the ground. I placed one of my two Blame-Throwers(TM) where I predicted his boots would land. Then I hopped into one of many storage barrels in the alleyway (one which thankfully was entirely empty) and watched. A blur in the air did land where I predicted. It did not rest, but strode away. I estimated it was the size of a very large human with heavy upper-body musculature. Oddly, this blur in the air bore exactly the same visual traits as Danar Vorpadoran's trick of reversing the polarity on a shield-belt to refract light entirely around the body.   When it sounded to have left the alley, I used my datapad to put out a bounty particularly aimed at keen-eyed Noghri bounty hunters known to be local, whom I assume Vishan would have avoided. I said he was sneaking out on gambling debts. Wanted alive. At least 99% of body must be in one piece. I said he bragged that he could not be seen, much less caught.   Next, I racked my brain to theorize when a person could have stolen the design from Danar or I.   I was interrupted by imagery coming from Aerena of a large Obelisk to the north with ancient-looking writing. Someone on the comm (Sevene?) said it looked like Eborrean, Ancient Sith, and one no one could identify, not Awa'keen.   The air-raid siren sounded. I jumped out and climbed to the top of the building. There a huge insect landed, a cross between a firefly, a scorpion, and a wasp, all the size of a large cow. It seemed to be more listening than looking for me with its compound eyes. I scanned it with my Medical Scanning Glove. Interesting. It was a vat-grown monstrosity grown onto a robotic chassis. It appeared able to spit a digestive acid or sharp spines, or both. I decoded most of their cybernetically enhanced wireless insect speech and found they were searching for a location to build a hive. I transmitted what I had learned and asked others to help me signal a location south of the attacking raiders as an excellent location for them to begin defending their new hive.   The frequency shifted as if de Joy were reacting to my moves. I attempted to follow and jump ahead of the Joyful competition.  

20211009 Stopping Almon's 30,000 year plan
26-5-12731 or Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731

Stardate 26-5-12731 or Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731   Berka shared much info on the locals at Chalcedon and the new Freedworlds Republic.   When we jumped out of hyperspace, we found a combat above the planet between a Bloodsmith Raider Nebulon A class Frigate, dropping many dropships to the planet's surface. The opposition is a crude alliance of Alliance of Worlds, Galactic Empire, and even the Spartan Imperium alongside the planetary defenses of Capital Ships of Chalcedon (with Tie Fighters and Y-wings). Also, the Kylo's Star is in the frey.   I used the Shadowhawk's sensors to passively count the identities of the combatants. It was set to full-power active ping from the last time I used it, so all pilots were disoriented by the intense noise. Berka used the distraction to change our identity to align with the raiders and hide among their flock.   I whipped up a learning program for optimization of shields and uploaded it to R3-TX. The noble little droid did a fine job with the shields as all combatants on all sides fired at us while Berka dropped us directly toward the planet. Particularly the Bloodsmith raiders did not appreciate our attempt to side with them before shooting two of them.   As we plummeted in relative safety toward the planet, I performed a focused scan of a number of drop ships unloading their heavy ground assault vehicles toward the capital city of Port Etmar.   War machines and skiffs abound, and armored troop carriers.   With no encryption, I transmitted an image of the ground fight on an insecure channel like a good journalist might do if there were one present who was not running for his/her life.   Another notable phenomenon was that northeast of the capital, (remember the attacking forces landed to the east of the capital city) stand the ruins of an ancient temple identified as the "Infinite Temple" from which a beam of light and energy ran upward into the sky, through a ring station in geosynchronous orbit at the exact spot to observe closely the rift in space-time which caused so much consternation since that ship detonated in hyperspace here.   None other than Dame Vanya Ysadora spoke on the Bloodsmith Raider communication channels, claiming that a Mentat virus was in their cybernetic computer systems which upon a certain command would make them melt down. She also said that their known ancient enemy was being forced to fight them by a mind-controlling parasite, which she has the ability to remove, freeing them from the mind control.   As we approach the space port, I noticed two Bloodsmith Raider fighters flying a scanning route around the Infinite Temple. I know Almon would be interested in that ancient site, and he has at least one bounty hunter and one pirate in his employ. They will head there using the attack as cover, or perhaps after the noise dies down and security is more lax.   I met Chancellor Canter and gifted her my Force Shield Belt, securing her as a social contact. I will contact her later about Empeeror Gregor's appointment and perhaps repair the impending debacle that will be known ass Ambassador Countess Cordelia Vorkosigan, Danar's aunt, a tall, redheaded former (Corellian?) soldier.   With the Chancelor's permission, I uploaded to the repair droids a program which helps a droid acoustically detect vynocs on a ship or an armored troop carrier. It recommends that droids pass this program along to other repair droids. It contains an Mentat-style imbedded trojan horse virus which will self activate in a few hours and search for other imbedded Mentat-style trojan horse viruses and make them more easy to detect even with old anti-virus software. That way any Bloodsmith Raiders who search their systems will find what the Jedi said they would find.   I met Dame Vanya, and another Jedi and what looked like a Crimson Knight, who I had thought were extinct as of the last few days, but there was one here, so I mentioned that he might be a chink in the armor of Almon's plan.   We spoke briefly, then split up. Vanya and a woman from the Medusa biker gang (perhaps a pilot also) and myself took on the troops attacking the city.   We had a very productive and quick discussion and landed upon a strategy. The Medusa and I took aim at the forelegs of one of the walking armored troop carriers. She with her blaster, and I with my electro-nuclear magnet and a stray mortar shell the Freedmen were firing at it. We stopped the one for the moment. It soon appeared that the Freedmen were firing pounding devices which worked fairly well as launched bettering rams, but also attracted the attention of four Orooks, five-story tall worms with beaks and tentacles. I managed to magnetically pull the safety goggles off of one of the drivers of a sand skiff and she shot at the other driver, causing him to abandon the steering.   As the Orooks swarmed and devoured the machines, or at least sunk them under the sands, all the Freedmen pulled their wounded to safety from the sandy battlefield. Many of the attacking Raiders ran to relative safety under Vanya's offer to surrender and live. Those weren't her exact words, but basically that was what happened.   Also, among the Freedmen was a woman named Satina, who wielded two large metallic fans like light sabers. Interesting.   Vanya assured me that the Orooks were actually sentient, with a language of their own, and quite very intelligent. Fascinating. This planet definitely bears further study.