VN Ysadora Character in Star Wars: Shards | World Anvil

VN Ysadora

Jedi Knight VN Ysadora (a.k.a. Vanya)

Physical Description

Identifying Characteristics

  • has old, odd looking linear scars at crackly angles from wrist to shoulder and from mid-calf almost to hip: Vanya once had an Emergency Quarantine Tent slowly compress on her over a period of several hours

Special abilities

  • Force sensitive: yes
  • Jedi Investigator / Battle Master specialization
  • Vanya is a practitioner of the Jedi martial art style called Form V: Djem-So

Apparel & Accessories

  • Standard Jedi uniform in shades of bluish slate to gray
  • Traveler's cloak (sometimes called a "Jedi Robe" but used by travelers of all religions the galaxy over, with hood and sleeves) purchased at a secondhand shop, trimmed via plasma cutter to just above knee length
  • Blaster holster at the small of the back; shoulder holsters hold a lightsaber on each side; pouch on belt for Datapadd has padding and some armor built into it to protect the device

Specialized Equipment

  • 2 lightsabers (5d damage)
  • Robes + 1 change of clothes.
  • Commlink
  • dataPADD (Pocket secretary)
  • 2 heavy blasters (5d damage), 1 with a scope; but one of the two hb is generally left locked in a safe with Mildred_Krebs. On both, they’ve been set to STUN and then the switch has been disconnected.
    - Last I knew, Davish needed my blaster in the Tilles Base. I have not yet gotten it passed back to me. Holster empty, that's fine.
  • rebreather with small oxygen canister and oxy extraction system
  • 1 can NuSkin (spray-on skin)
  • Medkit, disassembled and contents shoved into various belt pouches
  • night-vision lenses
  • repair/maintenance tools for lightsabers and blaster

Mental characteristics

Personal history

From Ysadora’s own (somewhat obsolete!) notes, accessible via intrusion into her DataPADD:

 

Around thirty to thirty-five standard years old, brown eyes, brown hair worn long and usually loose, approximately 5’6" and 150 lbs.

 

Born* at Mirrul Hospital, Skirzden, Esseles, Essessia System, Darpa Sector; raised by standard contract at Skirzden Star Creche, Esseles, Darpa Sector; graduated Calamar Technical University with certification in database administration; left Esseles without filing travel plan. Job history: various.

 

Licensed four years later by Imperial Review Board as a private investigator.

 

Operated an office on Siskel Station.

 

Student of Jedi Master Skywalker from latter 18 AFE RR until the Nostromo incident, after which time she was seen travelling with Jedi Master Kenobi. Good at finding Storm Troopers. Graduated to Jedi Knight after the second death of Palpatine, at the end of the Shadows of an Empire adventure.

 

A former private detective, frequently seeming to be at odds with the sometimes not-so-practical Jedi Masters, Vanya VNY quickly gained a reputation as one of the more inquisitive Jedi Padawans currently being trained. Her original master was Anakin Skywalker, who at a certain point in her training passed her over to Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of those who trained Anakin Skywalker. Masters Kenobi, Skywalker, Yoda, and Hinalli once swore up and down to have seen visions of Vanya through the Force, showing that she could become a great something-something-something if she would just QUIT ARGUING FOR FIVE MINUTES and listen more closely to the lecture in progress. That conversation went VERY well, Vanya thought, even while on k.p.


Gender Identity

Female human (she/her)

Education

  • graduated Calamar Technical University with certification in database administration
  • apprenticed with Sherry Flippe at the Wide Awake Detective Agency for one year, to qualify for a private investigator license
  • apprenticed to Jedi Masters Anakin Skywalker, then Obi-Wan Kenobi as a Padawan for ten years; graduated to Jedi Knight on 12730/1/1

Morality & Philosophy

Jedi: Vanya believes that all life has value. That individuals have the right to choose who they're going to be, and get all the consequences which develop from those choices.
She will cheerfully tell anybody who brings it up that her religion is correct, of course -- but that some people find a different religion works best for them at that point in their lives. So she'll support that as long as it helps the person function well within the universe.
The problem with the Dark Side, she has gotten Sith Lords to agree, is that it's a powerful short term solution. It is not a good long-term solution for anything, because it burns itself out. It has to be maintained. She has turned to Dark Side practitioners and requested that they do something specific that calls for great power applied in an instant; but then she is right there afterward, easing the situation into a better direction with the Light Side of the Force as a steady stream.
She is making the Light Side look useful to quite the odd collection of formerly-nothing-but-hatred Mystic Mob types in the Tapani Sector ... and Vanya is certain to her core that this is why the Universe put her there in the first place.

Taboos

  • No bacta tanks ever again, thanks anyhow.

Personality Characteristics

Savvies & Ineptitudes

  • cannot do that mind influencing thing, which she calls "Jedi Beer Trick", and will never be able to do it
  • Vanya could intuitively Remain Conscious before she knew she was Force sensitive. She cannot explain how that works. She took longer than expected to learn Resist Stun, which is normally a prerequisite skill.
  • Due to Imperially-mandated educational restrictions in her childhood, Vanya grew up believing some supposed laws of reality that are turning out to be untrue. For example, many sentient species can have viable mixed-species children, contrary to what her Core Worlds curriculum taught. Vanya is able to unlearn some of these false teachings easily, while others keep tripping her up.

Likes & Dislikes

Likes:
  • trying out new local "quick and cheap" cuisine during her travels
  • reading law journals, looking for complications and loopholes that might affect a private investigator's business in the near future
  • picking up minor "cussing" equivalent words of disgruntlement in various languages, particularly any ones that might be applied to herself in earnest someday
  • when a companion joins her in scribbling down flimsicards of gathered intel
  • discovering highly biased, opinionated annotations in the Holopedia Galactica
  • writing her own admittedly biased articles and annotations to contribute to the Holopedia Galactica, especially when she discovers something that has no significant content already entered.
 
Dislikes:
  • the taste of beer
  • heavy spices
  • farces whether live, studio recording, brief, or epic
  • being addressed or referenced as "General Ysadora"
  • every dikut'la time a certain someone uses Vanya's image or her reputation without first getting her approval
  • planets with high volcanic activity AND poor atmospheric motion, either one is tolerable but together it's misery

Virtues & Personality perks

  • ambidextrous

Vices & Personality flaws

  • Fundamentally does not get natural families, which would be any family structure that does NOT involve "raised at a professional child-raising facility, by people licensed and certified and specialized to that particular age group". Accepts that this is the standard across the Galaxy, but she will soapbox a little too often about how "messed up" this "haphazard" system is.

 
  • Vanya seems to be friendly, open, transparent, and casual. Those who have been around her in many different situations usually notice that this is a kindly-meant mask to cover an innately reserved, remote core personality who is constantly watching for inconsistencies in other people's public personas. Vanya doesn't think there's usually malice in having a "public persona" to cover one's private nature; she thinks everyone does that as part of the social contract.

 
  • Vanya tried out recreational inebriation exactly one time.
    She liked it.
    She liked it a little bit too much.
    While she has never requested a medical analysis on the topic, Vanya is confident that she has a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. She will not give herself the chance to find out how good her self-control is when it comes to intoxicants ever again -- not one drink, not one sip.

Personality Quirks

When someone calls her name, she answers, "Yo!" because she thinks it's reassuring on a gut level.
Where did she get this silly notion? It had something to do with the few years when she was a teenager that she worked as the on-site dba for Roeksen Construction, a space-based construction company specializing in null-grav work.
If one of the clone troopers ever calls her by her name, though, watch a very very different response happen. (It'll never happen.) H

Hygiene

When facilities are available, VN gets a sonic shower and washes her clothing once per day whether she thinks she needs it or not. Usually after her morning workout.
Her robe is a beat-up travesty, though. She got it from a second-hand shop. She tosses it into a wash occasionally, and she'll patch minor holes with whatever thread or glue is handy, but she never hems it and she seems not to notice discolorations or thin spots in the fabric.

Social

Contacts & Relations

Family Ties

  • Vanya has registered a legal abdication of claim, for herself in perpetuity, to any familial rights in connection with the Vorharkonnen noble family.
  • If Vanya could figure out the appropriate path to register a legal abdication of connection to whoever Lev Ysadora is, she'd do that, too. But she is not willing to throw lots of time or money at the problem.

Religious Views

Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.

Hobbies & Pets

  • subscribes to the Tapani Alliance Law Journal, reads the latest issue at quiet times, scribbles caustic notes in the margins about loopholes or any clause potentially relevant to a private investigator's workload. She's not a lawyer or a Solicitor, her notes may be spectacularly wrong.
  • writes letters "home" about her quirkier experiences that may be a bit out of order or full of gaps. Sometimes she's dashing off a quick thought. Sometimes she's leaving out all the bits which do not make for a good story. Sometimes she just wants to see if the recipient will be interested enough to ask.
  • When in the right system for it, still tries to meet up with local Force users for coffee or a light meal in the "Tuesday Tea" format
  • Until she was about twenty-five, Vanya blew off steam by going rock climbing. She had to give up the hobby shortly before Twilight due to constraints from the rest of her life. She is no longer subject to a mentor's orders to bring a chaperone for this kind of thing, but on the other hand, any time Vanya tries to go do something "purely for fun", the universe takes advantage of her idle status to put her to work.

Relationships

Muerte

antagonist (Important)

Towards VN Ysadora

-5

VN Ysadora

antagonist (Trivial)

Towards Muerte

-2

History

Muerte finds VN Ysadora absolutely infuriating. He hates her passionately. He would go out of his way to do her harm, if he ever had the opportunity ... but, for all that, he knows that there are absolutely worse people in the galaxy; he can and has set his hatred aside in truly dangerous situations.

 

Vanya has possibly spent a cumulative fifteen minutes in her entire life, thinking about Muerte when he is not actually present. He's an annoyance. He needs to seek professional help. He needs to befriend the sonic shower and let it love him. He simply is not relevant to anything going on in her life.

Nicknames & Petnames

--Muerte to Vanya: "YOU!!!"
--Vanya to Muerte: "Oh. Hi, Morty."

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Master (Important)

Towards VN Ysadora

0

Frank


VN Ysadora

Padawan (Vital)

Towards Obi-Wan Kenobi

5

Honest


History

When Anakin Skywalker ran into serious complications in his training of his "foundling" Padawan, he turned her education over to Ben Kenobi for a very different training style. Since her graduation, Jedi Knight VN Ysadora still regularly turns to her mentors for advice or a sounding board. Or, occasionally, to corner Ben in a hallway and recite the Litany of "MONEY DOES NOT IN ACTUAL FACT GROW ON TREES, YOU INNOCENT" at him.

Nicknames & Petnames

Vanya sometimes calls Master Kenobi "Bossman" or "Boss"; Ben might call her by name, or "Padawan", or "my dear girl", or any other casually affectionate nickname that occurs to him.

Dragomir

unwanted cousin (Trivial)

Towards VN Ysadora

-3
-1

Dishonest


VN Ysadora

unwanted cousin (Trivial)

Towards Dragomir

-2
-1

Dishonest


History

Darth Dragomir, Lord of the Sith, forever failing to measure up to his master Darth Sidious, disliked mere Jedi Order Padawan VN Ysadora on principle before they ever met. Jedi are the sworn enemy of the Sith, after all!

 

Then she publicly referred to him as "Darth Slick". Which was apparently a dig at his exquisite personal care regimen.

 

Then she -- a Jedi wannabe -- when faced with the true test of a lightsaber duel, she shot him at point-blank range with a blaster on stun. Instead of facing her ignominious death in the time-honored tradition of all Jedi versus all Sith, she. just. Blaster to the face. Out of nowhere.

 

When Feyd died, Vanya sent her formal condolences. In the oldest tradition. No gloating. No triumph. Genuine sorrow for his loss. No permission from her master to do so, either, that was certain!

 

When Darth Dragomir was about to finally justify all of his master's impatient efforts, when he had his lightsaber buried in the chest of Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Ysadora had the disgrace to put her hand on Dragomir's hilt and dissipate the power out of the blade and then bodily shove Dragomir off the catwalk, saving the old man's life, when she had no business interrupting their duel at all!

 

But she somehow never hinted to certain Powers that Dragomir had been present at that event, that he could have witnessed what no one must know. That he might have survived in the chaos.

 

She is a Jedi!
(Who readily admits that the Dark Side is devastatingly powerful in a given single moment).
In the cheerful habit of announcing that, "My religion happens to be correct!"

  • but almost always follows with, "but yours works for you, which is all that matters."
  • She discovered evidence from the Corporate Sector that she may have as strong a blood claim to the Vorharkonnen Countship as he and his brother had together!
    (and immediately abdicated it as thoroughly as the law can arrange.)
    She strides through the galaxy in the brash confidence that her way is best
    and so often, that "way" includes ceding primacy to a person of a different faith, because the result is what matters to her.

     
    (Vanya's version of this story is very different, that's for certain.)

    Nicknames & Petnames

    "Dear cousin."

    Relationship Reasoning

    Vanya and Dragomir are not on friendly terms. They're civil to each other. They are pleasant because otherwise there will be serious combat and they are good-humored about it because the alternative is to say "no more of this shit" and start combat and that gives them the social lubrication necessary to work in the same space against mutually disliked exterior issues.

     

    Vanya doesn't hate Dragomir, but she knows damn well he would cause other people pain just to drink it in, and she calculates every interaction with him based on how to channel HIS interests so they don't become HER problem.

     

    Dragomir respects Vanya, but she irritates the hell out of him. He takes pot shots at her because the alternative is to go "I'm done with every bit of this" and throw down... which hurts his plans and that won't ever do. So he puts up with her, knowing he can work mostly around her. In the meantime, he prepares in case of a day where he's backed into a corner and has to thrown down.

    Legal Status

    fellow Tapani citizens, not even of the same Great House

    Davish Tam

    boyfriend (Important)

    Towards VN Ysadora

    4
    4

    Honest


    VN Ysadora

    girlfriend (Important)

    Towards Davish Tam

    4
    4

    Honest


    Wealth & Financial state

    Funds: 3d (1d)
    • note: recently spent most of the accumulated income from her Tapani "petty knighthood" on a single employment contract; it will take a while for this to accumulate, and even longer for her to pay it attention again.
    • Most of Vanya's income is derived from her private investigator work at Mystic Mob Investigations. Most of that goes back into the Jedi Temple. She and Davish live comfortably in a studio apartment about twenty minutes' walk away from their office. Both places are rentals.

     
    Until I started running around with this crew, I never had to enter myself into my own database of notes. Then Danar hired me (on Productivity Day, 'Seven-twenty) to do background checks on all our travelling companions, including myself.
    I thought it was fascinating that Danar would approach me, straightforwardly and with no vague attempt to be discreet, to gather information for him which none of our companions had already chosen to pass to him. The point could not be that he thought I was more talented at getting acquainted than him. I like Danar just fine, but that includes a clear understanding that (1) he believes he is inherently better than anyone who lacks that "vor" syllable on the front of their family name; (2) he believes he is inherently the cleverest trickster in the room; (3) he believes anything that gives him a net advantage is the right thing to do. That does not make him a "bad" person. He has limits, that's all. Everyone does. And he's doing his best: he was not trying to be sneaky, he paid me for my work, he never came back and asked me to dig deeper on anyone.
    Maybe it was a test of where my ethics lie?
    I really did do some investigation of each person independent of the subject, but I always ran the general sense of what I had gathered past that individual to see if they wanted to dispute any component ... or if the idea of others knowing a particular bit made them uncomfortable. These were friendly acquaintances at minimum; I was not going to put anything out there into my security-free database that might get us maimed. Or worse.
    I'm not sure if Danar feels like he got what he thought he'd be buying, but I had fun doing the job. Can't say it was the easiest money I ever made. Possibly up to that point, it might've been the most entertaining. I was chugging along pretty steadily on the job until Selona 'Seven-twenty-four when the missiles took out most of the HoloNet connectivity. After that I kept on, but it was in dribbles and drabs until mid-'Seven-twenty-six when ImpSec and the Mentats got enough of the HoloNet backbone reconnected.
    I think the last time Danar thought to get a report from me, and therefore I sent a bill, was probably around the time he found out he was "Emperor Pro Tem" at which point he had way too much else on his mind. I kept doing the job and putting it into my database, as I had been doing, but by then it was a fun hobby instead of a real case. I still do it today -- fun sometimes, to see who takes what I wrote and charges in a risky direction with it.
     
    I hang out with funny people who generate funny stories, but I'm not, myself, typically funny. (Though I do entertain the hell out of the Jedi Council whenever possible.) So the marker pointing to my name is just my initials, not a prompt for a good story.
     
    Respectfully submitted,
    VNY, P.I.
    17 Selona 12727
    Alignment
    Jedi
    Species
    Honorary & Occupational Titles
    • Dame Ysadora (Tapani Sector formal situations only, also, she hates this)
    • Jedi Knight
    • Chaplain (used most often by clone troopers, members of the Beskar Aran, by individuals who have their own interactions with the Beskar Aran, and in association with formal interactions with the Tapani Imperium government)
    • General (used by clones only, and usually only once per offender, because she has promised to assign an exponentially increasing number of stomach crunches per offense)
    • Commander (used by clones who have known her a long time and are having anxiety or possibly a snit)
    Currently Held Titles
    Year of Birth
    12695 36 Years old
    Birthplace
    Mirrul Hospital, Skirzden, Esseles, Essessia System, Darpa sector
    Spouses
    Siblings
    Children
    Current Residence
    Pronouns
    she/her
    Gender
    female
    Eyes
    brown
    Hair
    brown
    Height
    5'6"
    Weight
    approx 150 lbs
    Belief/Deity
    @force
    Aligned Organization
    Other Affiliations
    Known Languages
    • Basic (Galactic common language)
    • Written language: Jedi Script
    • scattered phrases in modern Mandalorian, Tapani Beskar dialect
    Character Prototype
    Vanya only wishes she were played by Kathleen Turner. Vanya is not that awesome!

    So many quotes; so little time
    Vanya: I'm a cheap drunk.
    Danar: Oh, no; {gestures with tin cup} with this, you'll be an expensive drunk.
    — in reaction to Vanya's attempt to get only a symbolic measure of vintage wine poured for her, "Life and Times on Geidi Prime", Star Wars: Shards of Honor Campaign, March 14, 2009
     
    While Eleni completely agrees with Vanya, her mind tends to take terms such as "eat your heart out" quite literally. "Fixing" is not an option. Leaving them wanting air is
    — Romantic Interests are not "fixer-uppers", Discussion thread for "Time Enough to Spare"
     
    Eleni to Tsu: I like Simon, but you don't need to keep arranging for us to spend time together.
    Vanya to Tsu: She means Tam, not Illyan!
    Eleni to Vanya: That's right, thanks.
    — We'd like Tsu Vorboccioni to quit messing with our (potential) love lives, Band of Shadows, August 30, 2009
     
    {Eleni has been mindtwisted by a Dathomirian illusion spell; coming up from behind, Vanya prepares to lay her hand flat on Eleni's upper back}
    Vanya, to the party: Everything's going to be all right.
    Vanya, sotto voce: Shit!
    — if this doesn't work, I am soooo dead!, Rebel Yell, Saturday, December 5, 2009
     
    {Vanya uses the Force to contact Eleni's mind at the same time as she speaks aloud}
    Vanya: Wake up.
    Eleni's player, gleefully: You're using the Voice!
    — well, "Affect Mind", but in either case, without a whit of training for it; Rebel Yell, Saturday, December 5, 2009
     
    Eleni: So, which one of us is going?
    Vanya: Paper, Rock, Scissors?
    Eleni: Sure.
    {Both players back away from the table, face each other, and begin PRS.}
    Both: {scissors}
    Vanya: {stands up, faces GM, points dramatically at Eleni} That's not fair!
    — Moral of the story: never play PRS against members of the Mystic Mob. Star Wars: Rebel Yell, Saturday, December 5, 2009
     
    IP address: ftp://oldfolkshome.allandor.gov
    Vanya's password: peelingveggies
    GM: {snortcackle}
    Commander Loren: Ah. You must have trained under Master Skywalker.
    Rebel Yell, Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
     
    Vanya: Do I feel like I should be carrying an axe?
    GM: You ALWAYS feel like you should be carrying an axe.
    WookieeGunner: You always feel like you should be carrying a blaster.
    Vanya: I've been carrying a blaster since before I was carrying a lightsaber.
    Eleni: *I've* been carrying a blaster since I met Vanya!
    — "Tales from the Cantina: Enemy Squared", Saturday, July 31st, 2010
     
    Eleni and Vanya: {explain about Royal Blood thing from Matres Merglin}
    Rico: { o_O }
    — He is pretty sure this is entirely wrong; Spatial Relations; Sunday, March 13th, 2012
     
    VN: And I don't think "Count Lod Vorzorad" is a keen idea, either!
    Count Vorboccioni: {giggles maniacally}
    — one of the options is to elevate Yeager Lexics to be a Count; aftermath of Spatial Relations; Sunday, March 13th, 2012
     
    Vod'ika, maybe now is a good time for you to step behind the Captain....
    — Vanya to Rico, while struggling to hold the hunter-seeker still long enough for Eleni to subdue it to death; Spatial Relations; Sunday, March 13th, 2012
     
    Mr. Smiley is retiring....
    .. and you're **NEVER** CARRYING a THERMAL DETONATOR AGAIN!!
    — Vanya to Yeager, or maybe Jennie to Tommy; A Card to Play; Sunday, September 11th, 2011
     
    Eleni: ... I've got this voice telling me what I ought to do, and you're tempting me to do dumb things!
    Vanya: Don't you MISS the dumb stuff?
    — Vanya coaxes Eleni to drop out of sight for a rescue mission; Fool's Mate; Sunday, December 4th, 2011
     
    Come get me right now.
    — Email from Vanya to Jedi Temple, to be delivered as soon as her DataPADD gets a signal to one of the comms satellites above the planet; Tales from the Cantina: Absentis Persona; Saturday, October 6th, 2012

    To which they will actually take seriously since it doesn't have her customary "Hello muther ... hello fadda ... greetings from camp ... waka-sitha" -- GM


     
    hb (GM’s choice per adventure)
     
    * Tapani Calendar date: 16 Yelona 12695
     
    RR Anakin and I met AS on the fourth day of the tenth month in what official documents called "18 AFE". Tess Belden had taught me to use the old Ruusan Reformation calendar because it did not contain that pesky Year Zero when I was six standard, so record research was a whole bunch more linear. Sherry Flippe had the same habit when I apprenticed under her -- using RR might be an industry standard across the Core Worlds, I dunno. Anyway, I wrote that date down as 996:10:04 RR despite my receipts being (firstly) in Imperial Standard (secondly) incinerated about three hours later by the people pursuing the Bossman.
    Well, we would have needed to purge any obvious signs of our backtrail anyhow, I guess.
    I was around 24 or 25 standard years old -- which would make the Tapani calendar equivalent be 12719? I think? Seems about right.
     
    AS more or less as depicted during flashbacks at the end of Cliche
     
    VNY Editor’s note: Don't call me "dame" unless you can do it like Bogey, shweethaht. And "Vanya"? NOT my legal name. It's a nickname. Check my PI license if you don’t believe me. So you've not got a "respecting tradition" leg to stand on there.
     
    heh Some of the above may be carefully presented to create a certain effect in an unauthorized reader.
     
    H Hicks did so in the Gamesman's Arena aboard Kotera on 12 Nelona 12731, and has continued doing so since. Vanya smiled at him like the Dark Side had momentarily vanished from Nar Shaddaa. He missed it because she was moving into place to defend him during combat at the time.
    She continues to smile at Hicks, and focus almost all her attention on him, for the instant after each time he uses her name. Hicks still does not seem to have noticed. Nor has he noticed yet that she addresses him like a peer and a close friend, rather than sticking to the arms-length affection of the past several years.
    Davish, of course, has noticed; Davish is good at people. He knows Vanya is going to keep watching for Hicks to edge away, or otherwise try to reset boundaries where he is comfortable. Vanya will be relying on Davish to warn her if she misses a cue.

    wear your hat tilted just so
    Satunda, 13 Melona, 12731

    Satunda,
    13 Melona,
    12731 T | 1008 R
     

    Previouslies:

       
    • Team Clergy Library Case

      Identify, get 'em monologuing, tidy up.

      The Problem

      (as we understand it)

      at least one murder, as part of attempted theft of Ancient Tech-Augur Book.

       

      Solving:

      1) We have caught part of the thief team. Nassha, a Witch of Dathomir.

      She has named the client who commissioned the theft.
       
      Let's call him "Alex".
       

      2) Turns out Eborreans can eat Force Wraiths.

      Life is good.
       

       

      Not solved:

      Captain Alina Zargat: the other person controlling or monitoring the job. We are currently in combat with her.

       
      In a previous career, she was a Bene Gesserit assassin. She left the order. I get a decent Girl Distraction effect by asking her to explain to me some dearly held BG teachings that never have made sense to me.
       
      • Why does a female-only religious order have their version of the "Chosen One prophecy" center on a boy?!
        Contents of trousers do not determine the resistance capacity of an untrained outsider to The Voice.
         

      Complications:

       
      1. FFS why. What is Sargon's fixation on the Choni? Why are so many resources being dumped into it?
      2.  
      3. What is the actual content of this antique holobook? Does it tie into any part of the ex-B'omarr sites on Chalcedon?
      4.  
      5. Jedi are not qualified to be social workers. Crimson Knights are not qualified to be OSHA inspectors. Mentats are not qualified to be Digital Tech engineers.
        We can do it when that's needed.
        But it's not what any of us are really trained to provide, career-pro style.
        Also, we have two whole other cases running at the same time.  
       

    •  
    • Team Clergy Sun Spear Case

      We have had an eventful ten days and change.

      The Problems, in summary:

       

      1) Commissar Celestima

       
      Temporary solution: She plans to spend the next century or ten being a living history educator, teaching about her culture and religion, and recording all she knows about events and places and cultures in her original life.
       
      She is Too Important to get involved in physical conflicts. Her mission might suffer for it.
       

      1a) Remember when we were gonna steal the Sun Spear?

       
      Are we still reallocating that in the name of the something-or-other?
       
      Maybe I should talk to our colleagues the CKs about doing that while everyone else at the Library is occupied.
      Or maybe not.
       
      The problem is that we don't know enough about what is currently going on with
       

      2) Lt. Felderk Jessip

       
      Solve in progress: I keep emphasizing the "HERO" part of his role as an Imperial Officer. Maybe he will find his own way to a more heroic path founded in his original enlistment in the Imperial Navy.
       

      2a) Lt. Jessip and that "briefcase of tools and data about the Commissar's avatar." He says they are necessary for the ongoing well-being of the Commissar.

       
      Commissar Celestima did not care about that briefcase. Therefore, it is smuggling something.
       
      Solving: Fully inform the Tolla Archive Library Security team about the whole mess, be available to serve when they scan it for potential hazards. Make sure both of our Orange Catholic colleagues are on hand because they're going to have much more relevant skills than I am.
       

      3) A certain "outlaw tech" got the technicians and rating pool interested in mustering out of the Imperial Military. Some of them were talking about asteroid mining. Others just want the next phase of their careers. All of them need their backpay from Coruscant.

       

      4) I need to see if I can somehow boost the "Death Trooper" set toward having a future. I have no idea whether the Mentat Order would tend toward helping return people to being people (not machines) who happen to have cybernetic parts, or if this entire thing squicks them out. I wonder if these lads would be interested in helping to form a task force for solving the Sukill issue when a cluster is suspected in a particular location.

       

      5) By the time we get back to Chalcedon, I wonder if we're going to hear that the rest of the team managed to recover both halves of the Missing Warlord Spouses, or if we're going to still have that to dig through on top of the whole "heavy grav droids wearing meatsuits" thing. And the "ragtag fleet" thing. And, and, and

       

      6) Seriously what is up with Alex and the whole "culturally appropriate the bits of various religions that would feature in a Jedi Quest episode with bad rubber prosthetics and a cheesy suit"? Has he considered top-notch medical care as a means to improve his potential lifespan?

       
       
       
    •  
    • Mystic Mob Investigations: Where's Commander Maeques?!

      Make this make sense.

      Why did Commander Ivana Maeques take off a year ago? What warnings did she have? Why didn't the entire Order go on high alert in time to stay alive?

      Why did she not do what we're doing, go find other uninformed members of the order, and then inform them?

       
       
         
     
    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 8
    Plot | Jun 15, 2024

    Satunda
    13 Melona
    12731 T
    a.k.a. 1008:07:13 RR
     
    Ex-Bene Gesserit, maybe current Nightsister, happy employee of Alex "Captain Alina Zargat" will be waking up from "radiation poisoning treatment" sedation in a jail cell. Checkmate members Rook and Castle are en route to come take official custody of the courier box holding the supposed holobook.
     
    Rook updates the three of us clergy types on some facts we've not had.
    • When she doesn't have an "audience" Commissar Celestima is much more personable and conversational.
      Knight's hypothesis: She is afraid. She knows how alone she is. She knows that she is nowhere near the culture and society she understood. The aggressive Dark Sider is a protective act.
    •  
    • The briefcase did contain a large collection of flimsiplast blueprints for Celestima's humanoid avatar. Essentially they will function as a "medical record".
      It also contained, hidden beneath the blueprints, some very old books, datacrystals, and scrolls.
      Some of them are in a different alphabet -- one Rook might recognize from the War, but he cannot place.
    •  
    • Every material object to arrive goes through a standard set of scans anyway. They will subject this particular package to digital and nano scans as well, since it's supposed to have Choni contents.
     

    Davish has found records that Commander Ivana Maeques came through here under a different identity, six months ago. She did not access any of the secure records, so info on what searches she was doing are vague at best. A lot on Bendu relics; something to do with Choni but not much, and something about Centerpoint Station in Corellia System. Mostly it was Bendu history, the Bendu timeline -- it looks like she was trying to backtrack the homeworld of the Bendu religion.

    What if she is looking not for the actual fact of the homeworld, but for aberrations in how outsiders tell the Bendu's story?
     

    The Unboxing

     

    Inside the battered, sticky, scrubbed case is a holobook: a bunch of flimsies, bound together. The cover is sort of leathery, dark with a pearl white trim. On the cover is the image of some sort of bird with its wings spread. In the middle of the bird is a starburst.

    The librarians pause often to scan. They say this is indeed The Treatise of Inner Alchemy. It was written by Jedi Master Esam Stanev and Sith Lord Darth Krom.

     
    It seems to be intact.

     

    It was written during the First Empire of the Sith, just after the Mandalorian Crusade that sought to eliminate Force users (the Mandalore thought they were a blight).
    It was often thought at the time that Mandalore's overreach was the spark that started the Jedi-Mandalore War.
    Hard to say.

     

    At the time, it was felt that (difficulty in understanding one another's fundamental viewpoint filters) was the problem. The philosophies were not compatible.

     

    That book (the Inner Alchemy) holds as much philosophy as it does practice. The biocrystalline engineering was groundbreaking. The techniques for that …

     

    The biocrystalline engineering techniques, you could say …

     

    Some even said the crystals in the result of that engineering were as special and unique as the creation of life itself.

     

    The philosophy in this book also has a section that references something called "The Other Memory".

     

     

    I think this book has the foundation of the modern kyber crystal.

    And also of the modern Sappho Juice.

     

    We never asked the Mentats "what led to the tradition of chugging a smoothie in order to See the Maths?"
    We never asked the Solicitors why they train up to be able to wield a heavy "shillelagh of justice", when early in their training they all prove able to sense deceits or lies.
    We never asked the Bene Gesserits why they monkey with that "melange" stuff to access the Other Memory.

     

    We figured that we already knew.

     

    I gotta sit down.

     
     

    Lt. Jessip feels a bit lost. If he can't be an idealistic officer in the Galactic Empire's Katana Fleet, he does not know who he could be.

    After a long conversation, interspersed with a bit of unsolicited chaplaining session, he goes to explain his immediate next steps to his officers.

     
    Step one: Anyone who wants to muster out and collect their backpay, can.
    Anyone who wants to return to the Katana Fleet, now's the time.
     
    Step two: The rest of the unit will go to meet a close confidant of Empress Jenna in order to find out whether the Galactic Star Empire needs us, and whether it upholds the ideal we wanted to serve.
     

    (I have not explicitly told him that the "close confident" in question is Imperial Consort Yeager Lexics Martovich. That will be fun!)

     

    Lt. J has information about a chemical signature, a detectable one, that is created by the existence of the Sukill.

     
     

    It's time to pack up everyone who's going. We are headed back to Chalcedon system to find Yeager and his retinue.

    Act Three: Chaplaining
    Satunda, 13 Melona, 12731

    Satunda,
    13 Melona,
    12731 T | 1008 R
     

    Previouslies:

       
    • Natural adversaries temporarily cooperate to visit a Library
      Commissar Celestima, who identifies as also being the ancient Sith Empire ship that is probably what we have been calling the Sun Spear, wears a uniform consistent with the First Sith Empire. She is always happy to burn the heretics.
      I have done the most convoluted yarnball of Al'Saba School of Diplomacy. I talked a First Sith Empire digital person down from Murderhobo Conquest. I talked a Sargon-serving career naval officer into collaborating, first with me, then with Commissar Celestima. I talked a Death Trooper formerly named Rul Ja into remembering who he was, telling me that he nearly died because of a battle between a Crimson Knight and an Eborrean. He got infected with a parasite.
      I think they each nearly killed me five times?
      For now, we have a truce between all of us. We are going to take the Sun Spear to one of the Galactic Imperial Library hubs, where a military ship with the proper codes should get priority docking.

       
    •  
    • Montage of ship preparation, travel through the Outer Reaches, approach to a free-floating "local branch" of the Galactic Star Empire Library System
    •  
      Just a quick experiment, we thought. See if the Mentats can make any progress with the palatreum, since I have not managed to get contact with So'Zen for the past couple of weeks.
       
      They wanted me to settle down near the Night Sparrow's hyperdrive, then reach out through the Force to contact So'Zen, who has (supposedly) a connectible palatreum and the knowledge of how to use it.
       
      The Force had other ideas.

      — VN Ysadora, summarizing to her Datapad
         
    • After an unscheduled rest

      Commissar Celestime did not care about that briefcase. Therefore, it is smuggling something into the Library Collection.
    •  
    • The library station suddenly shudders violently from impacts!
    •  
    • Five initiates in total have been affected: four more than Initiate Challa Zanulla. Doctor 2b says this was a mini concussion to the memory cortex. Each one has a tiny puncture wound duo, entry point for some sort of venom. 2b believes it is a modified bone worm venom that causes an overload of the nervous system for a second or two. Patients will recover in, at most, four weeks. including partial recovery of lost memories
    •  
    • list of persons present, independent of Staff List and Visitor List. Contrast with BoSS list. Looking for anomalies, and also for persons who have been here more than once -- with the 2nd being within the last 15 days.   1) Gin Taaks (Human)   2) Zoh Keeng (Rodian)   3) Ulid Mar (Human)
    •  
    • montage of Almon "Heath" D'joy giving an infodump, then Kitkat "Reese Pieces" handing out investigative assignments to the team. We will solve this mystery methodically!
    •  
    • Tech team working digital security for the Library: "Checkmate", war veteran group. Chex, Knight, Rook, Bishop, Castle. Probably veterans of the 212th.
    •  
    • Chex, retreat! Now!

      The HS in the main room has a gripper attachment, so we find out after we disable its handkerchief-sized baffle cloth and its attack field. Reese and Chex determine that the gripper attachment had a piece of Librarian Roku's hair. It was likely stolen as a means to unlock the stolen container. Meanwhile, the miscreant -- disguised as a Library Initiate -- has escorted Librarian Roku out of the main hall, toward the medical wing, for "a concussion check".

       

      Most Initiates probably do not fire weird green bocce balls of plasma from their fingers, when thwarted.

    •  
    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 8
    Plot | Jun 15, 2024

    Satunda
    13 Melona
    12731 T
    a.k.a. 1008:07:13 RR
     

    Once the opponent is in custody -- and boy oh boy, did that take a LOT of heavy stun blasts! -- we have a possible identification that she may be "Nassha", a Witch of Dathomir. Checkmate and I transport her to Medbay for a medical scan, removal of all gear including a microdot tracker, and a Conversation.

     

    Nassha is primary contractor on this job because someone male, and strong in the Force, has taken away her options.

     

    Sir Rock Tapna and Minsa Sol do their own interview. They tell me that Nassha has been "tethered" through some kind of Dark Side hijinx. The tether, according to what she believes, establishes a link that if she says this person's name, she can be harmed through the Dark Side even over extreme distances.

     

    Okay: I sort of know how to deal with this problem. Namely, Chaplain Talks Through Spiritual Therapy.

     

    Nassha is involuntarily serving Sargon Xan Duran, who we will nickname "Alex" for today's philosophy chat. If Nassha gives herself over fully to the Light Side of the Force, it could form into a spiral shell of protection that will deflect the Dark Side's attacks away.

     

    A Dark Force Wraith turns out to be shadowing over Nassha, glaring at me, listening to all of this. Of course, Dark Force Wraiths are not resistant to cheerful chaplain distractions -- which sets up me being able to shove it directly over to Sir Tapna and Minsa Sol.

     

    Minsa Sol devours it.

     

    That leaves Nassha as a prisoner for now, which makes it useless for Alex to attack his hostages among her clan.

     
     

    Chex advises me of a problem. Bishop has ceased responding to communications. He had gone down to the reactor core with the two Mentats.

     

    Captain Alina Zargat, up until this past hour "mission partner" for Nassha, is probably there. She is not being coerced by Alex. She is also a Nightsister, formerly trained up as a Bene Gesserit assassin.

     

    Captain Zargat is absolutely susceptible to the investigator's query approach. Why is the Bene Gesserit (female-only religious order) myth of a Chosen One centered on a boy? It's not like the contents of the trousers change whether any untrained sentient being has more or less resistance to The Voice.

     

    That buys enough time, enough full distraction, for Almon and Kitkat to take necessary steps toward their own safety.

    Detective Work
    Satunda, 13 Melona, 12731

    Satunda,
    13 Melona,
    12731 T | 1008 R
     

    Previouslies:

       
    • Natural adversaries temporarily cooperate to visit a Library
      Commissar Celestima, who identifies as also being the ancient Sith Empire ship that is probably what we have been calling the Sun Spear, wears a uniform consistent with the First Sith Empire. She is always happy to burn the heretics.
      I have done the most convoluted yarnball of Al'Saba School of Diplomacy. I talked a First Sith Empire digital person down from Murderhobo Conquest. I talked a Sargon-serving career naval officer into collaborating, first with me, then with Commissar Celestima. I talked a Death Trooper formerly named Rul Ja into remembering who he was, telling me that he nearly died because of a battle between a Crimson Knight and an Eborrean. He got infected with a parasite.
      I think they each nearly killed me five times?
      For now, we have a truce between all of us. We are going to take the Sun Spear to one of the Galactic Imperial Library hubs, where a military ship with the proper codes should get priority docking.

       
    •  
    • Montage of ship preparation, travel through the Outer Reaches, approach to a free-floating "local branch" of the Galactic Star Empire Library System
    •  
      Just a quick experiment, we thought. See if the Mentats can make any progress with the palatreum, since I have not managed to get contact with So'Zen for the past couple of weeks.
       
      They wanted me to settle down near the Night Sparrow's hyperdrive, then reach out through the Force to contact So'Zen, who has (supposedly) a connectible palatreum and the knowledge of how to use it.
       
      The Force had other ideas.

      — VN Ysadora, summarizing to her Datapad
       
      Time seems to be frozen in this part of space.
       
    • somber image of Cap'n AERENA'Relentless' KOLENE, frozen in time. She is in the cockpit of a starship with design elements similar to Mon Calamari aesthetics. She was suspended while reaching for a control on the console. She is covered in a blue-white energy film.
      So is the console.
    •  
    • Sometimes what we really need is a friend.
      KitKat, I need you!

      - Jedi Knight Vanya Ysadora reaches out for her old friend, both in the Force and physically by lifting her body's hand toward him.
       
      When he joins me in the Farseeing, I explain the problem as much as I currently comprehend it: the equation of reality is stuck. It needs expert mathematics to reconnect it, maybe through Aerena who is all about going forward. Meanwhile, I need to go down the central corridor to find So'Zen and that palatreum.
    •  

      Shortly:

       
    • Captain Kolene, I need you!

      - Vanya
       
      No! No, no, no, no. I don't do that. NO

      - Aerena Kolene, atheist, is about to wind up having a Very Important Dream
      about piloting an entire ragtag fleet out of a cosmic storm

       
     
  • After an unscheduled rest

    Commissar Celestime did not care about that briefcase. Therefore, it is smuggling something into the Library Collection.
  •  
  • The library station suddenly shudders violently from impacts!
  • Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 8
    Plot | Jun 15, 2024

    Satunda
    13 Melona
    12731 T
    a.k.a. 1008:07:13 RR
     
    Davish and I have been working for the past hour on locating and interviewing other Library staff and patrons who might have been affected by the induced short term memory loss.
     

    Five initiates in total have been affected: four more than Initiate Challa Zanulla. Doctor 2b says this was a mini concussion to the memory cortex.

    1. medical device? close range pulse gun?
      possible medical non-chemical anaesthesia
    2. time frame between effect and cause? Fairly quick but will take one to two seconds on a typical victim.
    3.  

      Each one has a tiny puncture wound duo, entry point for some sort of venom. 2b believes it is a modified bone worm venom that causes an overload of the nervous system for a second or two.

    4. where were the punctures?
      Shoulder area.
      Could be concealed in a bracelet/glove.
    5. are bone worms exclusively native to Tapani Vor burial worlds?
      No.
    6.  

      Patients will recover in, at most, four weeks. including partial recovery of lost memories

    7. Does this mean the process of recording short term memories was not interfered with, and transfer to long term memory was not interfered with, but only access procedure was bruised?
    8. Patients were different species, were punctures always at best placement for memory effect?
      Same places.
      Not most medically efficacious.
      Applicator is not a medical expert.
    9. Have patients been checked for bone worm parasitism?
      Yes. No parasites found.
    10.   : list of persons present, independent of Staff List and Visitor List. Contrast with BoSS list. Looking for anomalies, and also for persons who have been here more than once -- with the 2nd being within the last 15 days.
      • Gin Taaks (Human)
      • Zoh Keeng (Rodian)
      • Ulid Mar (Human)
       
    11. Davish asked about angle of puncture. We now hypothesize that hunter seekers were used via remote control.
     
     
    I compare notes with Team Catholic, starting with asking "Heath" about practical means of disrupting function of a Bene Gesserit assassin's favorite tool.
    He gives me a light overview of what one needs to know about how the remotes work, in order to avoid getting needled. We jointly conclude that a low grade interference or jamming signal, in pulses, integrated into the library lighting system in all areas including maintenance areas, should give good coverage.
    This will have to be authorized by Librarian Roku, of course.
     
    KitKat phrased questions to Librarian Trullum based on some assumptions. He wants "Heath" and me to check these for potential flaws.
  • Single person
  • human or near human
  • has been on station at least a number of days
  • trained in architectural structure, to know tugs that would provide amt of distraction needed
  • knew which tugs might be used today but not necessarily which one
  • knew specifics of sensors and how to foil them
  • could be a commando with personal combat skills
  • programming skills for additional program routines
  • excellent dexterity
  • possibly has a great deal of practice at extravehicular
  • possibility of a baffler suit, which requires advanced training
  • Libarian Roku:

    You would not believe the amount of Vor Houses that go out of their way to try to skip out on late fines.
    We keep accurate records on who arrives, under what purported identity, and what real identity, in order to track down loaned items.
     
    The tracking device on the artifact containment is good for long range, but not within the Library. Go to Green Sector and speak to Checkmate for further information. "Chex" is very particular about the relic security and tracking system.
     
     
    The tech team in Green Sector for the Talla Library is five veterans of the Great War:
    • Chex
    • Knight
    • Rook
    • Bishop
    • Castle
    and I gather from context that they were part of the 212th.
    During investigation, I find a couple of HKs in one of the weapon lockers. We trace the signal back up to a maintenance locker in the main docking ring. Davish goes to investigate that; there's a relay in there. Davish traces that relayed signal onward to the next daisy in the chain. One line goes into the middle of the library, dead center of the main hall. The other line goes to the escape pods. Davish goes to check the escape pods; Lt. Jessup and I go to play bait at the main hall's center.
     
    The HS in the main room has a gripper attachment, so we find out after we disable its handkerchief-sized baffle cloth and its attack field. Reese and Chex determine that the gripper attachment had a piece of Librarian Roku's hair. It was likely stolen as a means to unlock the stolen container. Meanwhile, the miscreant -- disguised as a Library Initiate -- has escorted Librarian Roku out of the main hall, toward the medical wing, for "a concussion check".
    Most Initiates probably do not fire weird green bocce balls of plasma from their fingers, when thwarted.

    Library Card
    Satunda, 13 Melona, 12731

    Satunda,
    13 Melona,
    12731 T | 1008 R
     

    Previouslies:

       
    • The "Eternal Sith Empire" have something called a "Sun Spear" that they cannot yet turn on. It might be a ship?
      It can apparently cause an atmosphere to boil.
      It is also lined with beskar, which makes it durable as hell.
    •  
    • Obviously, we are going to steal that ship.

      - Jedi Knight Vanya Ysadora
      proposes Grand Theft Star Destroyer.
      Her clerical adventuring team all agree to this plan.

    •    
    • Almond d'Joy as Heath Toffee:
      I learned that at the Al Saba School of Diplomacy!

    •  
    • Encrypted Comms
      Prose | Jun 13, 2024
    •  
    • Two of the "Death Troopers" may still be people; may, in fact, be capable of relating their current selves to the people they once were.
      • DT-7754 was previously Lur Draigland
      • DT-1332 was previously Reb Tin. He remembers getting caught in crossfire between an Eborrean and a Crimson Knight. He remembers being infested with a sukill.
    •  
    • Commissar Celestima, who identifies as also being the ancient Sith Empire ship that is probably what we have been calling the Sun Spear, wears a uniform consistent with the First Sith Empire. She is always happy to burn the heretics.
      I have done the most convoluted yarnball of Al'Saba School of Diplomacy. I talked a First Sith Empire digital person down from Murderhobo Conquest. I talked a Sargon-serving career naval officer into collaborating, first with me, then with Commissar Celestima. I talked a Death Trooper formerly named Rul Ja into remembering who he was, telling me that he nearly died because of a battle between a Crimson Knight and an Eborrean. He got infected with a parasite.
      I think they each nearly killed me five times?
      For now, we have a truce between all of us. We are going to take the Sun Spear to one of the Galactic Imperial Library hubs, where a military ship with the proper codes should get priority docking.
    •  
     
     
    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 8
    Plot | Jun 15, 2024
     
     

    Diversion

    Just a quick experiment, we thought. See if the Mentats can make any progress with the palatreum, since I have not managed to get contact with So'Zen for the past couple of weeks.
     
    They wanted me to settle down near the Night Sparrow's hyperdrive, then reach out through the Force to contact So'Zen, who has (supposedly) a connectible palatreum and the knowledge of how to use it.
     
    The Force had other ideas.
     
    I look around at the starship. It looks vaguely Mon Cal -- very nature-inspired.
    Ahead is the ship cockpit. To left and right are doors to cabins or something.
    All around is a strange hum.
    Up ahead, I see Captain Kolene.
    Frozen in stasis.
    Surrounded by a blue-white light.
     
    The Force is confused; it can only move slowly, not properly flow.
     
    Captain Aerena Kolene is in this cockpit. Frozen. Reaching for a control on the console. She is covered in a blue-white energy film.
    So is the console.
     
    Time seems to be nearly frozen in this extremely narrow locality.
     
    Hunh. This is not ideal.
     
    Is the Force trying to protect Aerena?
    No. It's confused. It cannot figure out how to flow properly.
     
    Hunh.
     
    I need KitKat.
     
    When he joins me in the Farseeing, I explain the problem as much as I currently comprehend it: the equation of reality is stuck. It needs expert mathematics to reconnect it, maybe through Aerena who is all about going forward. Meanwhile, I need to go down the central corridor to find So'Zen and that palatreum.
     
     
    So'Zen is in a radsuit, being treated intravenously by a mouse droid, in the ship's medbay.
    This is going to be a heck of a story!
    I work hard to move the palatreum from an outer pocket on the radsuit to rest within the loosened helmet, between So'Zen's montrals above his forehead. I hope it will work better with him in this spot -- take advantage of the natural togrutan biophysics.
    And I control So'Zen's pain so he can become more aware. He has some major work still to do.
    Being a Jedi may be easy. It also comes up with the occasional bout of Your Responsibility Regardless Of Ideas On How To Solve it.
     
    So'Zen let me know that Hicks is also in extreme danger right now, and possibly in a space walk! I turn my awareness toward him.
    Hicks is asleep, healing, strapped into a crash couch in a Tie Advanced Shuttle. KitKat and I get a lot of info from the Jedi who retrieved him from outside, who in turn needs calculating genius to assist in a problem he is trying to solve.
     
    KitKat tells me that he needs me to do metaphorical "lightning rod" services: he needs us to go to the cockpit of each ship in this ragtag fleet, so a handful of adjustments to hyperdrive controls and shields, and preprogram them to all activate together. Do we send them to Chalcedon or somewhere else? I am more familiar with Chalcedon System than I am with wherever the fleet is.
    As for getting through nearly thirty ships, well.
     
    Captain Kolene, I need you.

     
    In my head, I start composing a hypothetical letter to my partner. I don't have any way to send it in realspace.
     
    Dear Davish,
     
    There is too much; I will sum up.
    Our Mentat colleagues are saving the local sector of space, and possibly this quarter of the entire Galaxy, from ill-advised gravitronic engineering.
    Don't wake us. Even if the effort is killing us.
     
    Hope the library presentation is going great!
     
    Love, V
     
     

    After an unscheduled rest

     
    Commissar Celestime requires "her Jedi" to be present for the presentation and negotiations of moving her into residence at Tolla Archive Library Station.
     
    Librarian Reth Crotu greets us formally, and has an acolyte escort the humanoid avatar of the Sith Empire Ship to her new quarters.
    Lt. Jessip then presents to the Librarian's attention a briefcase.
    He says it contains tools and data about the Commissar's avatar. He says they are necessary for the ongoing well-being of the Commissar.
    Commissar Celestime did not care about that briefcase. Therefore, it is smuggling something. I know it, I'm sure everyone knows it. I expect the library system has a protocol for any voluntarily donated "artifacts" which will screen out many hazards and contain most others.
    I will have to do something about this later however, as the library station suddenly shudders violently from impacts.
     
    After the remote-controlled tug is stopped from its bad programming attack, and Lt. Jessip has confirmed count that all the endangered Library Acolytes have made it safely into the main station, one of the Initiates hears a ping at the metal bulkhead door sealing the damaged maintenance spur off. When she opens the door, a dead trandoshan courier falls into the station.
     
    Forensic investigation on bodies is not my thing. Davish takes that one on while I go do a first inspection of the maintenance spur's corridor. Top of the list: this person has an angular, axeblade-shaped hole in his chest.
    At first, I spot no blood. Either he was killed elsewhere, or it was cleaned.
    Finally I find some stains of blood on one of the doors that are sealed and shut.
    I got a download of the control chip for the door keypad, and visual scans of the area. Used on both sides. Activated coming here, then back out.
     
    On station recordings of the event, Reese sees a shadow out of place where there ought to be no air. As the tube is falling away, it's hard to make out but someone was able to mountain-climb the pieces of the broken corridor as it fell.
     
    As I continue a basic search, I get to the part of the maintenance tube damaged enough that it has snapped off and the force screen is snapped into place. Past that, as I return to the station, I spot that a recycler vent has been replaced recently. The screws were not replaced quite right -- somewhat cleaner than the rest.
     
    So how did the deceased get from the place where he took his last, dying step, all the way to leaning on the closed metal door?
     
    Librarian Crotu knows this person. He is a courier. He was supposed to deliver a package to the library -- was scheduled to arrive today. He was bringing a relic -- a holobook. The only known recording. The Treatise of Inner Alchemy. Supposedly written by early Choni Tech Augurs during the early formation of their organization. It supposedly contains meditation techniques and other means of life extension and healing.
     
    Reese has determined that a glitch was installed into the remote tug, causing it to stutter into the library station hull repeatedly. I get Librarian Crotu's permission for Reese and Heath to patch the firmware on drones and associated remote controls so that the vulnerability allowing this glitch will no longer be present. I also get permission to check all Library staff and patrons for a biological infection that might have a related effect. I'm off to search for sukills.
     
    I don't find any. Thank the Force. I do however discover that Initiate Chala Zanulla is feeling unwell. She was one of the people rescued from the collapsing dock maintenance spur; she has been dosed somehow with memory loss during part of the time she was in danger of decompression.
     
    I have rounded up the other people who were in that situation, shepherding them to the medical bay so that 2-1b can also treat them for the (probably chemical?) amnesia damage.

    There you are.
    Natunda, 10 Melona, 12731

    Natunda,
    10 Melona,
    12731 T | 1008 R
      Previouslies:
       
    • New passenger Minsa Sol, Eborrean, is bewildered by the mental silence (now that he has no puppeteer parasite to yammer orders at him). He remains in or near the Night Sparrow, chaperoned by Zam Ello.
    •  
    • The Raven Guard think they're some kind of New Order replacement for Palpatine's previous Galactic Star Empire.
    •  
    • The "Eternal Sith Empire", who have something called a "Sun Spear" that they cannot yet turn on. It might be a ship?
      It can apparently cause an atmosphere to boil.
      It is also lined with beskar, which makes it durable as hell.
    •  
    • Obviously, we are going to steal that ship.

      - Jedi Knight Vanya Ysadora
      proposes Grand Theft Star Destroyer.
      Her clerical adventuring team all agree to this plan.

    •  
    • Things that continue to not make it onto a Highlight Reel:

       
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a clearly and concisely, with a Tapani CT accent.
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a to call out a Raven Guard member with Sith powers.
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a to describe the Raven Guard as a "cowardly sorcerer" who "shames all who marched before in those colors".
       

      We'll take "Things that the Mand'alor won't believe without holographic proof" for 400, Alex!

    •  
    • Almond d'Joy as Heath Toffee:
      I learned that at the Al Saba School of Diplomacy!

    •  
    • Encrypted Comms
      Prose | Jun 13, 2024
     
     
    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 6
    Plot | Mar 23, 2024

    Vanya Ysadora, Davish Tam, and Reese Pieces head for the distant world of Yonbiss to rescue a lost squad of Crimson Knights but there they must confront the dire secret plans of Sargon Xan Daran before they burn through an unsuspecting Outer Rim.

     
     
    When I returned to the physical world after my meditation hour, my plan was to get some food; hope for some sleep; assist in the heist.
    What I had was a notification beep on my datapad.
     
    Four new emails have arrived!  
    1. We've been trying to reach you about your warranty!
    2.  
    3. You have two Death Troopers near you, not joining the rest. Their identifications are
      • DT-7754
      • DT-1332
    4.  
    5. Lonely Death Watch Troopers Want To Meet U
    6.  
    7. Have you renewed your Death Trooper Warranty?

     
    A brief check-in with Tech Feena tells me that some of the troopers are people. The ones who have not yet ceased to be people are listed on the crew roster.
     
    I am not the answer to anybody's needs. I am not here to bring these "Death Troopers" hope.
     
    And it does not say "Skywalker" across my forehead.
     
    Surely I am not here to offer these two a hand out of the light.
    Am I?
     
    Kriff it all.
     
    Davish sends me a follow-up email that he got the names of these two guarding Death Troopers off the crew roster:
    • DT-7754 = Lur Draigland
    • DT-1332 = Reb Tin
     
    Commissar Celestima, who identifies as also being the ancient Sith Empire ship that is probably what we have been calling the Sun Spear, wears a uniform consistent with the First Sith Empire. She wants Draigland and Tin to take her to the bridge of the surrounding Katana Fleet capital ship so she can make adjustments to Lt. Felderk Jessip's thought processes.
     
    If that does not work for her, she is always happy to burn the heretics.
     
    I have done the most convoluted yarnball of Al'Saba School of Diplomacy. I talked a First Sith Empire digital person down from Murderhobo Conquest. I talked a Sargon-serving career naval officer into collaborating, first with me, then with Commissar Celestima. I talked a Death Trooper formerly named Rul Ja into remembering who he was, telling me that he nearly died because of a battle between a Crimson Knight and an Eborrean. He got infected with a parasite.
     
    I think they each nearly killed me five times?
     
    For now, we have a truce between all of us. We are going to take the Sun Spear to one of the Galactic Imperial Library hubs, where a military ship with the proper codes should get priority docking.

    No matter where you go
    Natunda, 10 Melona, 12731

    Natunda,
    10 Melona,
    12731
      Previouslies:
       
    • New passenger Minsa Sol, Eborrean, is bewildered by the mental silence (now that he has no puppeteer parasite to yammer orders at him). He remains in or near the Night Sparrow, chaperoned by Zam Ello.
    •  
    • The Raven Guard think they're some kind of New Order replacement for Palpatine's previous Galactic Star Empire.
    •  
    • Thanks to a weaponized sensor ping, two Raven Guard are now apostate.
    •  
    • The "Eternal Sith Empire", who have something called a "Sun Spear" that they cannot yet turn on. It might be a ship?
      It can apparently cause an atmosphere to boil.
      It is also lined with beskar, which makes it durable as hell.
    •  
    • The Crimson Knights mission here in Vok City on Yonbiss -- led by Sir Rock Tapna, working with Leftenant Pag Dan and Portmaster Bab Sritoo -- have something called "the Sword of Khashyun", which is kinda shattered, and supposedly an ancient Sith artifact.
    •  
    • Dear So'Zen,
      I think we're now trying to rehabilitate D'Joy via the Bartertown Trading Game.
      Please pray for us.
      Sincerely, Vanya
    •  
    • Vanya's internal narrator: I did promise Almon that if he would work on being a decent Catholic, I'd be between him and what he fears. Dangit. I gotta get off this roof.
    •  
    • Things that continue to not make it onto a Highlight Reel:

       
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a clearly and concisely, with a Tapani CT accent.
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a to call out a Raven Guard member with Sith powers.
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a to describe the Raven Guard as a "cowardly sorcerer" who "shames all who marched before in those colors".
       

      We'll take "Things that the Mand'alor won't believe without holographic proof" for 400, Alex!

    •  
    • Almond d'Joy as Heath Toffee:
      I learned that at the Al Saba School of Diplomacy!

    •  
    • Obviously, we are going to steal that ship.

      - Jedi Knight Vanya Ysadora
      proposes Grand Theft Star Destroyer.
      Her clerical adventuring team all agree to this plan.


    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 6
    Plot | Mar 23, 2024

    Vanya Ysadora, Davish Tam, and Reese Pieces head for the distant world of Yonbiss to rescue a lost squad of Crimson Knights but there they must confront the dire secret plans of Sargon Xan Daran before they burn through an unsuspecting Outer Rim.


     
    We got attacked by a couple of Sargon's TIE fighters on our way back to Vox City. They tried to shoot down our air shuttle. (It's a repulsorcraft! If it crashes from this height, no artifacts or body parts will be recoverable! idiots!)
    One lost a solar panel thanks to excellent Mentat math. The other managed to stay close on our trail for most of the trip. We stopped the combat by impeding the ability of the pilot compartment to maintain atmospheric integrity in low pressure; he has to land.
    And talk with us.
     
    He says he's Captain Angan Gest. He is very proud of being with the Seventh Katana. He has a mix of "the dossier on you says you are a threat!" and "what the Old Man wants is above my pay grade" that do not form a cohesive whole.
     
     
    Now that we have all the parts of the key, we head for the Sun Spear.
     
    It is being guarded by at least one quartet of Sargon's guards.
     
    Team Outlaw Techs bring holovid of an attacking Nightsister Raid Captain and her pet Rancor, taking their ID and attempting to eat them. They want protection! Safety! Go get her! She took our wagon! She folded our wagon!
     
    Davish and I make our way in through one of the subterranean access ports.
     
    In short order, we start easing Technician Sammie Fadrel along to be comfortable with us.
     
    We have to disarm and stun three Flame Troopers.
     
    It turns out that Katana Fleet got knocked through hyperspace to another Galaxy during the Twilight assault. They blame someone for messing with their "navigation crystals" as they were en route to invade Procopia right after the hyperlane missile swarm.
    The parties blamed are 1) Jedi; 2) Crimson Knights.
     
    I think Sammie was no older than 15 when he joined the Galactic Imperial Army.
    Twilight was nine years ago -- it was Expansion Week of 12722, so in between months 3 (Selona) and 4 (Telona). I may have the math wrong, I'm going to hedge a bit when I start talking to all the techs assigned to the Sun Spear restoration project, but I think that would have been 999:03:36 through 999:03:40 on the Ruusan Restoration calendar.
     
    I'm going to start off with estimating that this was 1000 RR, see if anybody steps in to correct me.
     
    And then I'm going to say "Ignite the spark."
    See if anybody answers with "Light the fire!"
     
    Hit them immediately afterward with the hard fact that Palpatine sent them to murder Emperor Gregor Vortapani ... only Palpatine was so arrogant as to think he had subjugated all of Mentis.
     
     

    Foreman Gin Taaks liked our speeches. He takes a survey by task force among the techs; they say that they are up for helping us steal this capital ship.

    That leaves us the Lieutenant to deal with, and the two Death Troopers, and maybe some of the lower-ranked Storm Troopers.
     
    Also there's the emergency message about skin-wearing Killer Droids answering to Sargon.
     

    The Plan:

     
    • Reese and Heath can Sense whether the count of "persons" near them match the visual count.

    •  
    • Reese and Heath have a Plan for arranging a large metal cargo crate, which shall contain Death Troopers. It shall be suspended from a magnetic crane.

      I will possibly then alert the Raven Guard about said Death Troopers, which should be an abomination.
    •  
    • Davish will use private comms channels to contact his colleagues. We need our original crew from arriving here, and the ship they should still be in/near. We need anybody who is ready to pack up and move on to the next mission, meaning "c'mon Crimson Knights, let's go to the next ruckus!". We need someone with experience as a pilot of a Capital Ship class vessel.

    •  
    • I need a meal and an hour's meditation.

      Which is going to include my own use of 1) "encrypted comms" in the sense of using the palatreum to call So'Zen and Aerena and Hicks. 2) "encrypted comms" in the sense of checking in with Jenkins about what Danar said.

    Pest Control
    Natunda, 10 Melona, 12731

    Previouslies:
    • Dear So'Zen,
      I think we're now trying to rehabilitate D'Joy via the Bartertown Trading Game.
      Please pray for us.
      Sincerely, Vanya
    •  
    • Vanya's internal narrator: I did promise Almon that if he would work on being a decent Catholic, I'd be between him and what he fears. Dangit. I gotta get off this roof.
    •  
    • Things that continue to not make it onto a Highlight Reel:

       
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a clearly and concisely, with a Tapani CT accent.
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a to call out a Ravenguard member with Sith powers.
      Vanya speaks modern Mando'a to describe the Ravenguard as a "cowardly sorcerer" who "shames all who marched before in those colors".
       

      We'll take "Things that the Mand'alor won't believe without holographic proof" for 400, Alex!

    • Almond d'Joy as Heath Toffee: I learned that at the Al Saba School of Diplomacy!

    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 6
    Plot | Mar 23, 2024

    Vanya Ysadora, Davish Tam, and Reese Pieces head for the distant world of Yonbiss to rescue a lost squad of Crimson Knights but there they must confront the dire secret plans of Sargon Xan Daran before they burn through an unsuspecting Outer Rim.


     
    We think a missing agent of the local group (one of the CKs?), Sgt. Vomlab Bim, was taken by one of the local Eborreans.
    We also know that the pieces of the control stick for the Sunspear are in "the Necropolis", which is going to be A Fun Time For Us.
     
     

    There is a weight of history here. Certain tombs and pathways are very strongly attuned to the Light, with a deep sense of compassion. Nearby on the hill are certain pathways that feel malevolent -- dormant, patient, waiting, but certainly not friendly. These might be full of unresolved grief left to fester.

     

    The standing rectangular tombs mostly are unremarkable within the flow of the Force.

     

    The circular ones seem to carry more of a sense of comfort or contentment.

     

    The two doors that lead into the hill itself have the weight of the past, but also a stern sense of duty.

     
    When I ask a funerary holoprojection of an Abyssin, another holoprojection steps out of the first.

    He looked for the Lost Heroes, as he needed to give them a new burden.

     

    There were once eight great explorers. These eight, in a time of war and conflict, looked to a new horizon; a new tomorrow.

    They refused to believe that the Yondini and the Abyssi would forever be at war.

    They believed we are one people.

    They sought to prove it.

    They explored beyond the reaches of what is known.

    They were opposed by both sides. There were many who saw no reason to stop the war until the other side was gone.

    These heroes traveled beyond the stars. They found what they needed to find -- what they wanted to find -- what they hoped to find.

    They found enlightenment.

    They found an idea.

    They met a people who helped them see the Galaxy in a different light.

    An ancient people, and their students.

    What they found and met was a teacher. A teacher who was only known as a jedai.

    These eight came back and brought that knowledge to the world.

    But the war had gone on in their absence, and was reaching a bloody end. Weapon beyond imagination had been found, and was going to be used. A weapon that was a piece of the sun, caught and kept. One that could be unleashed on a whim.

    But the eight knew if it would be activated, would be opened and let loose, it would consume the user as well as the target.

    Leaving a recording from that jedai teacher in a safe space, the eight went to stop the war. The only way to stop the war was to show how dangerous this weapon was.

    They had to dismantle it. To dismantle it, they had to release the thing that had been caught, the thing that had been trapped.

    It did not like being trapped.

    In that weapon, the flying weapon, was a crystal that bled; and within that crystal that bled was the creature that was the heart of the weapon. An angry spirit, filled with malevolence, it knew only rage.

    The eight fought that creature, but discovered that it had taken over the leaders of both sides.

    The eight, the lost heroes, took the crystal beyond the world to remove its corruption, to take it away from the world they loved.

    They knew it would take all eight of them to do so because of the sheer power of the creature they were trying to get rid of. They deemed that an acceptable sacrifice; there was not any other way that they could find.

    They still hope to return one day.

    And one day, may still come. As the lost heroes left the world with the bleeding crystal, the survivors now free of the corruption looked to the recording of the knowledge from the teacher, the jedai. They saw the philosophy, the knowledge. Their eyes were opened. They saw what they had been doing and were about to do.

    The heroes were last seen taking the bleeding crystal to the heart of the star, in hopes that despite how hostile and angry the creature inside the crystal was, the heart of the star could burn the crystal pure.

    They hoped they would be able to return. They have not yet.

    But in some ways, we do not feel they are gone.

    The eight heroes saved our world, and promised there would be another to remove the danger to our world when it arose.

    That is the story of the Eight who helped reshape our people, to bring the Yondini and the Abyssi together to understand: they are one.

    And now, the heroes' legacy has passed to new heroes that are standing here, hearing the story.

    Natunda, 10 Melona, 12731
    Natunda, 10 Melona, 12731

    Previouslies:
    • New passenger Minsa Sol, Eborrean, is bewildered by the mental silence (now that he has no puppeteer parasite to yammer orders at him).
    •  
    • Reese found a crashed High Vor Ghtroc 720. It might be VorCadriaan.
    •  
    • The Ravenguard think they're some kind of New Order replacement for Palpatine's previous Galactic Star Empire.
    •  
    • Thanks to a weaponized sensor ping, two Ravenguard are now apostate.
    •  
    • The "Eternal Sith Empire", who have something called a "Sun Spear" that they cannot yet turn on. It might be a ship?
      It can apparently cause an atmosphere to boil.
      It is also lined with beskar, which makes it durable as hell.
    •  
    • The CKs have something called "the Sword of Khashyun", which is kinda shattered, and supposedly an ancient Sith artifact.

    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 6
    Plot | Mar 23, 2024

    Vanya Ysadora, Davish Tam, and Reese Pieces head for the distant world of Yonbiss to rescue a lost squad of Crimson Knights but there they must confront the dire secret plans of Sargon Xan Daran before they burn through an unsuspecting Outer Rim.


     
    Sir Rock Tapna has been on Yonbiss for two or three years now, heavily engaged in mission work. He is not happy about the past year-and-a-half of events that Davish is sharing with him.
     
    Leftenant Pag Dan is the ranking officer among the locals.
    Leftenant Dan decided to ask a "delicate question" of Reese and myself.
    Leftenant Dan just wanted to know whether the presence of Minsa Sol meant that we were allied with the Eborrean Collective.
    Leftenant Dan received a large datadump about the Vindrizi and their malignant fascist control of other people such as the Eborreans.
     
    Leftenant Pag Dan went off with a whole lot to think about.
     
    Portmaster Bab Sritoo has completed a scan of the Night Sparrow. We are cleared from suspicion of Eternal Sith or Eborrean Collective tracking and surveillance devices. We are now cleared to visit the Vok City marketplace.
     
    Davish has gone off with Sir Rock to speed up the whole "catching up the local Crimson Knight mission squad" process. Minsa is going to stay with Zam (and vice versa) fairly close to the ship for now. Our crewmember "sensor techs" are going over to the marketplace to see what bartering they can accomplish for services and/or non-ration food supplies.
     
    Oh hey, Reese caught a spy! I wonder where his signal was going.

    Here to Rescue Somebody
    Natunda, 10 Melona, 12731

    Here I am in one of our cargo bays, waiting for the passengers in two lifeboat pods to finish healing and wake up.
     
    Minsa Sol is bewildered by the mental silence, now that they have no parasite yammering orders.
    He wants more information. First, he needs (physical) food; he goes to the galley with Zam Ello. Rations or emergency snacks tuned for Mon Cal or Quarren passengers should be compatible with his biology.
     
    Sith Knucklehead cannot figure out his own best interest. Even when he proves to himself that something I said was true, he continues to think everything I say must be a fiendish trick. Also he can't drop off the party line: he has never heard of Darth Vectivus or Darth Marr or anyone else like them.
    He has to go, and so does his lifepod.
     
     
    Reese found a crashed High Vor Ghtroc 720. It might be VorCadriaan. We can go check this out, now that Darth Knucklehead has been dropped off to his own devices.
    Someone with a plasma sword put a hole in the forehead of a Ravenguard helmet. We still don't know whether Sargon's people were the cause of the crash, or the ones who got crashed.
    Circumstantial info suggests this freighter crash happened six months ago -- which puts it much more than five months after the Crimson Knights vanished from most of the Galaxy.
     
     
    Well, bugger: the Ravenguard think they're some kind of New Order replacement for Palpatine's previous Galactic Star Empire.
    The Crimson Knight detachment here is fighting both the Eborreans and the "Eternal Sith Empire", who have something called a "Sun Spear" that they cannot yet turn on. It might be a ship?
    It can apparently cause an atmosphere to boil.
    It is also lined with beskar, which makes it durable as hell.
     
    Oh, and thanks to a weaponized sensor ping, two Ravenguard are now apostate.
     
    Meanwhile, the CKs have something called "the Sword of Khashyun", which is kinda shattered, and supposedly an ancient Sith artifact.

    chuck the faux Gamesman to the crowd
    Datunda, 4 Melona, 12731

    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity, Chapter 2
    Plot | Mar 9, 2023

    After infiltrating a casino in the remote mining town of Tunring Station, the heroes have to find a way to rescue the Jem Vandos impostor so they can track down the real Jem Vandos!

    Datunda
    4 Melona
    12731
    Bent Spanner Cantina, Quantum Queen Casino, Tunring Station
     
    My chances of getting shot in the next 5 seconds are pretty high.
     
     
    While we got Niles Benton out of the casino (by playing Hot Potato with him), Davish and Lady Zaye dug up some intel on the actual location of the Gamesman.
     
    • At least some of the pirates specifically hired on to protect "Vandos" are not getting along with Ebon Veil, who may be a faction within Clan Tilles or may be business colleagues.
    •  
    • Ebon Veil set up a deal between the Chalcedon Trade Guild (a.k.a. "Black Sun in a local tee shirt") and Nova Orion from Corporate Sector.
    •  
    • Locations the informant described to Lady Zaye as possible actual locations of Jem Vandos:
      1. Yavin IV
      2. the Spacer's Tears, out by the gas giant Monorik here in the Chalcedon System
      3. Yonbiss (sometimes called "Byss" or "the Other Byss") in the Outer Rim
      . Of those three, I'm most likely to believe the middle option -- it makes less sense to move Vandos out of this system after having shipped him here and then laid down all this chaos.
     
    Anton Kal
    • possible Secret Spouse of the Gamesman
    • pirate and warlord in Outer Rim, gave the Hutts a lot of trouble for years.
    • He was not fighting for "law and order". According to Sector Rangers, he was on the rampage over "Hutts overcharged me".
    • Somewhere along the line, he met another warlord so dangerous that the Hutts would not fight him -- they would bribe him to go fight other clans. This warlord was Pel Kanner.
    • Pel Kanner was a brilliant strategist. No one knows where he came from. Corellian? Nabooian? It is possible (according to Mentat analysis) that Kanner disappeared in the same time frame that Jem Vandos appeared.
    • Kal and Kanner formed a gentlemen's agreement. It turned into a romance. When Kanner vanished, Kal became more reserved and more willing to negotiate.
    • Anton Kal is part of the Vandos Kajidic.
    • Anton Kal is also known by a "fighter name": Genog Druqod, aka Genog the Zabrak, aka Champion Genog.

    Escape Velocity
    Datunda, 4 Melona, 12731

    Episode 3.09 - Escape Velocity
    Plot | Feb 10, 2023

    The war on Chalcedon has ended but the real troubles begin as the heroes must deal with the kidnapping of Jem Vandos but have to contend with the schemes of Sargon Xan Daran.

     
    Datunda
    4 Melona
    12731
     
    As session umpteen of the Freedworlds-Meldari negotiations stream live on holovid, we have snacks and snark at Lady Zaye's house.
    (I wonder if she invited us over because her adopted father is one of the Meldari representatives in the negotiations?)
     
    Almon d'Joy tells us that Sargon Xan ordered him to collect Jem Vandos and turn him over to Clan Tilles. For all he knows (so he tells us), the Gamesman could still be here on Chalcedon?
     
    Rico just came hurrying in. He says they've got intel on the current location of Jem Vandos: he's at a pirate casino at Tunring Station.
    Wheels up in five!

    - Captain Rico Vorysadora to the Night Sparrow collective

     
    Lady Zaye is calm, but the tension in her is palpable.
    So I tell the kids to grab their weather gear.
    If I were trying to conceal an extravagantly bright-colored prisoner, I would hide him in the brightly decorated daycare facility meant to park dependents while the suckers are gambling away the family funds.
    We can check in there only if we actually have children with us, in on the cover story we are trying to run.
     
    (This way we do not leave any of the family someplace where they could be isolated.
     
     
    two hours later
    approaching Tunring Station from the west
     
    Rico and the lads plan to start with perimeter watch, so they can catch anybody trying to escape.
    Except Goss. He wants to go check out the catamarans. He is going to play "bodyguard" to Vance's "Core Worlds trust fund dilettante".
    So'Zen is going to the Quantum Queen Casino.
    As Corellian-dressed frat boys, the Mentats are going to go to the casino and try to break the bank. Sort of.
    Davish, Lady Zaye, the children, and I will start off investigating the daycare and similar facilities.
     

    According to the daycare lady:

    Functionally speaking, the Chalcedon Trade Guild owns this town. They take forty percent of all cash profits. The Mining Guild has been ignoring the situation here in Tunring Station.
     

    According to the Mining Guild Security and the Sector Ranger:

    • Zuld Lurang, Mining Guild Security Services
    • Omar Jarand of the Sector Rangers
     
    Chalcedon Trade Guild has got a deal with 2 other groups that do processing: NovaCorps / Nova Orion Group
    There's a reason this town and another one are off the books: most of these mines do produce metallic ore. Duralite, iron, various components of starship hulls.
     
    Mine #23 produces spice. Not same variety as Kessel. When it's in the soil, the hydroponics wind up growing food that causes visions.
     
    We don't have the evidence.

    Sector Ranger Omar Jarand
     
    Mining Guild did not sign up to mine spice. They need a way out without being labeled "spice miners". Meanwhile, Sector Rangers need evidence to start filing charges.
     
    The casino contains a refinement lab for the spice.
    Past the lab is an office. Then you can get to the main floor of the casino.
    There's a back door on the east side of the casino, concealed, goes through a main office and into the laboratory..
     
     
    The casino owner at the Quantum Queen is Thol Balmuri. He is Thisspassian. He says he got the money to buy this casino/cantina and "fix it up" by betting on "Blue" on Nar Shaddaa.
    And since he kriffing announced me, I guess I can go up there on the stage and speak with apparent Lord Jem Vandos directly. In public.

    Okay, but why did you leave it in a vault?
    Datunda, 29 Helona, 12731

    Datunda
    29 Helona, 12731
     
    So we're in a stairwell, and we're facing some nasty options.
    I wish Reese were here.
    I also wish So'Zen were completely here!
     
    We sent Dr. Zack and Bishop up to the surface, to occupy a vehicle and get out of here. He has both palatreums. We need those artifacts moved away from the villains whether that is Almon d'Joy or Sargon Whatever.
    We need to go down to the vault level, where we heard d'Joy shouting complaints to unknown trooper types. We need to extract the "Mind's Eye" from any chance of d'Joy's custody because it is a Force vergence. We need Sargon Take Me Away to not have a Force vergence either.
    Nor are we inclined to put up with him demanding General Vance Kerplocken.
     
    Aerena clearly has advanced experience at doing the "forward scout" thing for a raiding team. I appreciate her spot report of the crossfire in the tunnel ahead.
    We need a great distraction to get past them.
    Spook has an old holoprojection commercial in stock.
    Spook might be able to offload it into the Techauger temple's ambient systems?
     
     
    That was great!
     
    Now to do the Chaplain Sweetness-and-Compassion routine on Almon d'Joy and his two Raven Guard escorters.
     
    (Man, I sure hope Ghostie al Saba is doing okay upstairs. It's awful noisy up there.
     
     

    Vanya to Almon d'Joy: "You have asked me to rescue you over and over. I'm here."

    GM to Vanya: "Do you want to roll your Con?"

    Vanya to GM: "Nah! I'm just annoying him."

    — Vanya uses the sweetness-and-kindness voice to tell the twisted Mentat and his bodyguards that he has been trying to betray Sargon for months
     
     
    Ohhh kay.
     
    Here I am, inside the Choni Techauger Vault.
    Standing between a tweeked-out Almon d'Joy and a deep pit, at the bottom of which (I think?) might be a Force vergence.
    Drawing on everything any Mentat ever told me about the soul of the Mentat order.
    Trying to boost Almon away from a nonconsensual psychic tie to the Tenocron Codex ... which is outside the vault, with the rest of my team.
     
    Why oh why isn't it So'Zen doing this? He's gifted at diplomacy!
    If I can talk Almon into letting the fear pass through him and away, letting the Dark Side's controlling tendrils follow after it, so that the Tenocron Codex cannot grasp onto his mind, then it should weaken the current instance of the Codex enough for the rest of the team to defeat it.
     
    To
    Reese.Pieces
    Stardate
    12731:06:29
    Location
    Choni TechAuger Temple Ruins, Planet of Chalcedon, Chalcedon System.


    Dear Reese,
    You were right. Your bestest frenemy has been shouting for a rescue for months now. He's terrified of the people he works for. He sees no way out. He wants someone to come protect him and wrap him in a blankie and say "there there".
    Also he has got the entire kriffing Tenocron Codex.
    If you have this email, it means someone on our team managed to disrupt the Almon-designed machine that is taking out planetary Holonet connections.
    It might also mean that Almon d'Joy died in the process of taking us all out, plus something called a "Raven Guard" on a "crusade".
    Do your thing, man!
    VNY
     
     

    Trust in The Force

    and take no osik.

     
    Davish will find me.
    So'Zen and Aerena will figure out how to get to me.
    Danar will find the resources for it.

    Ghostie al Saba
    Datunda, 29 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08: Kanter's War, Chapter 21
    Plot | Jan 28, 2023

    The Zorphax droids have retreated, but the threat is not over. Chalcedon's holonet communications black out, leaving the heroes with refugees to send to Port Etmar, and an ancient relic that is now active...

     
    Datunda
    29 Helona, 12731
     
    Step one: ask Davish if he blacked out planetary comms.
    Step two: get Dr. Zach Stavin cleared to hyperfocus on this new crystal orb thingy, which he is calling a "palatium" or something like that. He says it's a long distance communications, navigation, and remote viewing artifact of the Choni Techaugers.
    Step three: get the multitools off So'Zen's body so Stavin does not do himself an injury.
    Step four:
    ...
    ... we need to get some elevation.
     
    I wish I knew where we should go. So'Zen is better at this than I am.
     
     
    We're heading into the Honloo Dust Ocean, up past Stiydear Estate. I need to record a summary of our findings so far -- including the Reese part -- and set it up as an email attachment to Bossman Ani and Captain Rico.
     
    I have not changed my point of view on the notion that the Beskar Aran need to stay away from the Honloo Dust Ocean. That means, Rico: Do not come digging me out. Bossman Ani will back me up on this. Don't. It's a really slimy, smelly trap.
     
    For one thing: We more than halfway expect to be walking directly in Whackadoodle d'Joy's footsteps.
     
    I have so much a bad feeling about all of this. We're doing it without a friendly Mentat. At least we've got a long-dead archaeologist?

     
     
    Oh look, it's an island.
     
    It's a crater in an island.
     
    It's a palatial temple, in a crater, in the island.
     
    It's a Choni Tech Auger Temple ruin.
    That sank into a crater.
     
    We're gonna sneak into it, because it is full of Republic era guards in the mood to kill first.
     
     
    First trooper: Sargon is coming?
    Second trooper: Oh, yeah. You didn't get the briefing?
    First trooper: I guess we look sharp!

     
     
    I left three non-combat items behind at the Choni TechAuger Temple ruin in Honloo Dust Ocean:
    • my backup battery for my datapadd
    • the memory expansion datacrystal for when I go a long while without HoloNet access
    • my can of NuSkin
     
    I appreciate the effort that the Choni made to assist us.
     
     
    I'll be into the vault and have the Mind's Eye soon enough!

    - Almon d'Joy, on hearing that Sargon is coming here

    Zorphax
    Datunda, 29 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08: Kanter's War, Chapter 20
    Plot | Dec 1, 2022

    A distress call from fleeing refugees puts the heroes on a crash course with the next step in the Dread Pirates, and Almon D'Joy's, plans to unlock an ancient terror!

     
    Datunda
    29 Helona, 12731
     
    Rico blames me for the former-ATST silicone based people who are going away to a new life full of Aw'akeen insight.
     
    Heh.
     
     
    Refugees trickle in from around the continent. So do reinforcements from sources such as Clan Bareesh.
    Meanwhile, our rescued Outlaw Tech folks from the prior job are quick to confirm that d'Joy has been telecommuting tech ideas (for pay!) to the enemy side.
     
    Oh, and now Hicks is the (temporary) (supposedly!) Fleet Admiral for Freedworlds Republic. He ever calls me by rank again, I'm gonna call him "Admiral".
     
    We spent the past two weeks mostly quiet, getting regular work done. Now suddenly we have a bunch of refugees showing up from the southern coast. Port Nevermore is devastated. Port Nevermore is ruined! People are scrambling away from PN any way they can get out.
    Chancellor Kanter orders General Kerplocken to "deploy the forces. Now!"
     
    We are off to go rescue Jarrod Quantas. He has got unarmed civilians that he and some of the other Ragnar Syndicate are escorting.
    Additional Ragnar curreintly trying to keep these civvies alive while being repeatedly attacked:
    • Felnar Jax
    • Mick Rory
     
    "it's like buzzbots"
    "Holding out as best we can. We've had to crash land in the desert. We are doing point guard. We are outnumbered -- it's got to be at least 15 to one. We are not able to receive communication."

    - Captain Quantas' latest broadcast on Emergency Channel

     
     
    Hunh.
    The cyclopic attack droids have layered shields. They rotate in a fresh one when another takes damage. Kind of like capital ships.
     
     
    The droids are using complex team tactics. They compensate for one another. They coordinate.
     
    They absolutely have a spotter somewhere, at a slight distance, overseeing the entire fight.
     
    I would like to talk to them.
     
     
    Oh, I say!

    - Dr. Zack Stavin
     
    Oh Crom, he's back!
    Wait. Now So'Zen is a Ghostie al Saba standing to one side of his own body?
    Not okay!

    First Rule of parrying incoming vehicular blasts: DO NOT
    Satunda, 18 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08: Kanter's War, Chapter 19
    Plot | Nov 9, 2022

    Deep below the desert pirate base, the heroes find themselves with unexpected allies among a base of enemies, and possibly on the wrong side of a Droid Rebellion!

     

    Pay close attention, my Padawan.

     

    The first rule of using lightsabers to block incoming blaster fire on a vehiclular scale is this:

     
    Do not!
     
     

    We're clear on that?
    Great!

     

    Now, the second rule is, "Do what I say. Not what I do."

     

    (Actually that's more Ben's rule. I borrowed it when the twins left the toddler stage.)

     

    In your case … It might be survivable, yes, that's hypothetically possible. Depends on your position. Depends on the vehicular weapon. Depends on, oh, air temperature. Fluctuations in the Force around you. Timing. Angles. Whether you have a useful place to redirect the blast. Aperture diameter.

    If you have to try it, if it's "parry laser cannon beams" or "get vaporized", maximize the chaff between you and the weapon. Minimize the amount of time your lightsabers spend in contact with the beam. Use obtuse angles of deflection only.

    Put most of your effort into being where the blast will not be.

    - Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker
    Atunda, 11 Kelona, 12721


    Satunda
    18 Helona
    12731
     
    I may not be good at "diplomacy", but I do fit the historical notion of "Jedi General" okay. Let's see if these Dark Trooper AT-STs will buy into that!
    If they do, I need a Better Offer to make them.
    Introducing them to the B'omarr Order seems like a bad idea all around.
    Definitely "no" on anything Catholic-adjacent.
    I wonder if they could adapt to the Shalent attitude toward life?
     
     
    Who put a trap door in this sandy rotunda?!?
     
     
    Okay so!
    The sandy rotunda is the top of the exhaust space for the ancient reactor for the original crashed ship.
    These new Future Shalent have several interesting bits of gear equipped, including bubble shield generators.
    The Future Shalent:
    • DT-997
    • DT-775
    • DT-468
    • designator not yet provided, busy working with Davish
     

    SSD Hardridge Bulwark
    Satunda, 18 Helona, 12731

    Satunda
    18 Helona
    12731
     
    I think it is just before the date switches over to the 19th, anyway. I would check, but So'Zen and I are so busy right now in making new acquaintances.
     
     
    Techs at Hardridge Bulwark have been coming up with the most adorable inventions, if only they'd had a different outcome in mind. Chibi Droidekas could be great supplements for mousedroids; Funko Pop versions with teeny repulsorlift undersides, that would be great companion droids for adolescence if those weapons were replaced. Also I really like the campers' shield projector that accordions out of its packed configuration to make a little wall.
    And now that I pointed out the missed financial opportunity in Funko Pop Droideka Companion between now and Life Day 12731, we have at least one technician rethinking his future.
    I've given him a flimsiplast note to show any Adepta, to get an introduction to Sev Burroughs.
     
    People just outside this room are growing more and more frightened. I gotta get out there to mitigate that. "Pops" has shared out some livestream info around the base, including that the CnC is full of Career Problems. I gotta hope that Captain Kolene and Davish can take care of that, because I need to head in the wrong direction.

    The old Chaos Goblin routine
    Satunda, 18 Helona, 12731

    Satunda
    18 Helona
    12731
     
    We have just finished up dinner at the General Kerplocken "Estate", cooked up by Lady Zaye.
    Lord Vondromas says the tactics of the raids by the Killian-Tilles Alliance has changed more than what Vance already described to us. He has some video passed along from an embedded spy.
    1. The Gamesman has been spotted on Chalcedon!
      He is "hosting" a gladiatorial challenge here on the world.
      He is still a prisoner, but he's also hosting and coordinating these gladiatorial fights, and officiating at them.
    2. The scouts that have been following these pirates have gone missing.
    3. According to the telemetry, Port Nevermore, Carapace Station, everything but Chausid have been hit hard.
    4. The video is of a recent attack on Port Nevermore. It might be bodycam? The Tilles and Killian combine forces are specifically targeting supply line items: food, tech, ten metric tons of supply.
    5. Vondromas: "And this is why:"
      We see a big bulky block-shaped transport, which flies in and drops off four AT-STs. For a split instant, we saw one of the AT-ST's apparently ignire a yellow-bladed "lightsaber" to proportional size.
      Also it has retractible E-WEB cannons on its sides.
    6. The AT-ST has no pilot.
      Droideka pilot brain?
    7. The view shifts again. Here is Almon d'Joy! He is discussing a blueprint on his datapad with a tech/mechanic.
    8. The spy is Ivan Vorpatril, who says, "And they're making more!"
     

    And the transmission ends.

     
    Vondromas says this is no more than twelve hours old.
    He has narrowed down the current base of operations as an old ruin in the hills.
    Oh and that's not a massive lightsaber. That's a fragmentary freeze frame of a superlaser charging up and firing. You know, like in the
     
    the
     
    dangit!
     
    Oh and the Hutt Council is calling the Freedworlds government "thieves". Vance points out that this makes the government eligible to join the council,. I suggest using the name of the Kerplocken Kajidic. They can suffer a hostile takeover by the Kanter Kajitic! It'll be fine."
     
    Finally, in "good news": Vondromas has created an experimental "Tenocron Codex Page Capture Device". There's a "briefcase" part and there's a "tractor pistol" part, and between the two they form a trap.
     
     
    Most of the party is going in disguised as Tilles pirates with some Adepta loot. Captain K and her associates "Pops" and "Ioz". Davish will make up his mind what name he's using whenever someone asks him.
    So'Zen and I dropped off before they swung around from the west. We climbed up to the side of the protective cliff wall.
    Desert Settlement Base Map Image
    by Miska
    There is a sandstorm approaching from the east.
     
    We found an ancient hatch into the original buried starship. This might be Eborrean Original. So'Zen found that the hatch had been badly welded shut; I found a slightly crisped Fremen comms earpiece.
    The chamber below has a bit of water on the floor. It has a rockfall that complicates progress directly westward to the next room. So'Zen knows there are various lives in that next room, some quite large, others anxious.
    Those proved to be a guard posting of "pirates" and large pampered predators ... plus one freshly arrived Cap'n Kolene.
     
    Medusan booty call procedure just started. We might be here a minute.

    - Vanya to So'Zen
     
    This chamber has water in it. It has air in it that is not stale or smelly, which means it had air flow even before we opened that hatch. There logically must be another route -- this is, at minimum, a T intersection.
    So'Zen found a maintenance hatch. This is not a comfortably full-size tunnel. We don't have to crawl, though, so we'll take it southward.
    Desert Outpost Lab Base Map Image
    by Miska
    We arrive at the west central turbolift chamber. Great! I take a second to change the password on the controls.
    hippydippy

    - the current password to access the west turbolift in the Dread League base
     
    In the next room, we have an opportunity to make friends!
    • two pit droids
    • two piratical techs
    • two all-purpose pirate types
    • one Crimson Nova bounty hunter
    Hello there! would you like to talk about the church of the Force?

    - Jedi Knight So'Zen al Saba to five pirates and two droids from the Dread League
     

    Threes
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731
    in the innermost chamber
    of a fancy looking B'omarr Research Chamber
    under the area around Stiydear Estate
     
    Three things have generally been true about me, as a servant of the Force:
     
    1. I'm unusually good at discarding energy stun.
    2.  
    3. I have a decent record at telekinetic redirection of momentum.
    4.  
    5. There's a lot of stuff about how the Force works on which I was never given any framework. My Masters like to get me started and then see what I can deduce from experience and observation.
     
    I don't think I can get Aerena or Reese out of these metal cans myself. I do think I can support Aerena -- who trusts me! Sometimes! -- in rejecting the ooze, and in the process expel the outer shell away from herself.
     
    Getting Reese out will be a little tougher, because his innate scientific curiosity binds him to the armor with so much less resistance. He needs his long friendship with a pre-piratical Vance. I can follow Danar's lead as he figures out how to support Kitkat in disentangling himself.
     
     
    Wow.
    I need to think about a lot of this.
    It hurt. In a way I absolutely was not prepared to bear.
     
     
    Hicks' inventory says that we have recovered about two-thirds of our original shipment. Hurray!
    We still need to check it for problems. And for pieces of Master Artak's journal.
     
    And we need to swap gears into a hefty investigation into the Ivan Vorpatril case!

    Space Shanties
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08: Kanter's War, Chapter 15
    Plot | Aug 14, 2022

    Deep inside the ruins below the Stiydear Estate on Chalcedon, the heroes confront the Supreme Intelligence of the B’omarr Order … the Concord … over the mysterious Atheneum, the Tenocron Codex, and perhaps the fate of Chalcedon!

     
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731
    in the innermost chamber
    of a fancy looking B'omarr Research Chamber
    under the area around Stiydear Estate
     
    We have too many opponents in this room. My first step is to warp one of those decorative plasma bracers so it'll makea startling noise as it ceases to function. This will take the room-wide focus of hostility off Reese, at least for five seconds.
    Also it establishes, first, that the Concord are not untouchable nor are they impervious; second, that the Concord were not prepared for us to use their environment, their set dressing, against them.
     
    My second step is my highest priority. I defend aggressively against a whole lot of incoming blaster fire.
     
    These Concord brats have a trick that looks like a negative image of Force Lightning. It's horrid. I feel like I've been punched in my gut with serrated brass knuckles. Also, several of the B'omarr suffer horribly. Possibly they die.
    That's got to go.
     
    I have begun to suspect that those big bulky squat "mini AT-STs" might have Dark Siders in them.
     
     
    The Concord think Vance is a "Jedi Stalker". Is that an offensively rude way to call him a fan of Jedi Quest?
    It's no reason to smash him with the shadow webby energy thing.
     
     
    I am so, so glad that Aerena and Davish have been smashing power stores, while Reese and his new colleagues have been dismantling the Concord's controls, as the three of Vance and So'Zen and I made a huge disturbing distraction. I don't know how we're going to do with So'Zen so badly injured.
    All I can do is draw attention away from the upper staircase for a few seconds. Let's see where I can--
    Uhh.
    There's a B'omarr spider mecha running up the stairs, carrying a miswired Vor shield belt away from danger. And the Concord brats ordered their minions to shoot, with intention to cause an explosion. Nope, guess I'm not drawing attention away from the stairs just yet, I need to defend the B'omarr!
     
     
    Datapad, set a reminder for twenty minutes from now: Update case files on flimsicards. Concord are trying to flee to a chamber eastward. Expect an alternate exit thataway.
     
    Datapad, set a reminder for three hours from now: Update Facts flimsicards. B'omarr spider mechas can do a jump pounce in the style of typical arachnoidal webless stalkers. Cross-reference with Problem, B'omarr do not culturally seem to have the idea of 'positive consent' requirements.
    I am going to not think about that for now.
     
    Datapad, one more thing. You don't understand that command. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
    Datapad, set a reminder for three hours from now: Check my math on galley supplies for a typical two week hyperspace trip in the Night Sparrow. I think the Concord brats tried to convince me that I ordered wrong. Also, make sure we have whatever Aerena's favorite snack is.
     
     
    Dear diary, I just experienced the new contender for Top Three Reasons Why We Question Appointing VN Ysadora as Chaplain.
    I still don't know if someone is using my datapad to harvest intel from me. I would not care if someone was, except that it wears down my battery while interfering with my normal use of it. I mean, also, obviously, I'm not pleased about the malware.
    Anyway, I think I did a bad job of answering some interfaith questions while playing the role of "chaplain" with my friends. There are a lot of reasons the Beskar Aran keep a certain cushion of emotional distance between themselves and me, even those who do not avail themselves of my support. They need me to be something other than a close peer, if my role as analyst-and-advice-provider is going to work. I can't be that and be a good friend. Since these folks are my friends, I make a lousy spiritual advisor.
    I got them a smidgen more inner-directed, though! Which is more of what I comprehend in the first place. Understand themselves, who they choose to be, how they have constructed themselves, all within the context of whatever shenanigans are in progress around us.
     
    Speaking of which, we are going to check out this next chamber. Reese confirms that some sort of big, shiny relic is in there. He says his local resources have confirmed it as a cache of information. We need to find out what it is, at minimum; we might need to figure out what to do with its contents.
     
    I am sure it will be fine.
     
    Do I sound like Ben Kenobi there?
    I think his words just came out of my head.
    Thanks, Master.

    one of WHOSE children?
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08: Kanter’s War, Chapter 14
    Plot | Jul 31, 2022

    The heroes stand at the entrance to the ancient, and corrupted, research center. Once a place of great learning, it's now twisted and evil. There they confront the vile Concord but uncover more than they realize.

     
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731
    in a fancy looking B'omarr Research Chamber
    under the area around Stiydear Estate
     
    Clear thoughts to you.

    — a B'omarr Monk in a spider mecha body
     
    Maybe we don't have to fight these folks? Maybe we can enjoy some mutual problem-solving?
    Whup, no, So'Zen is taking a solidly hostile starting point.
     
    B'omarr: Do you seek enlightenment in the way of logic?
    So'Zen: I seek enlightenment in the Force.
    B'omarr: There is no force. There is only mechanical principles.
    Me, writing notes on a fragment of a flimsiplast:
    There is DEFINITELY force. Mass times acceleration. This person is not translating to and from Basic as well as we'd hoped.
    It's momentum that's a bitch.
    Me to Davish: I think there's a translation glitch going on, what've we got without using our datapads? All I can think of is to get Vance talking in Herglic.
    Davish: Hm... they're talking logic... I think they believe we're here to join up?
     
     
    Something from the next room, that we can't see, just imposed control on all these B'omarr in this room. They want a "Jedi Crystal", probably the one Vance has. Reese is trying to help them resist, but it's a nearly impossible slog.
    Which means So'Zen and I should probably start trading off "aggro magnet" duties while the rest of the crew do stuff to reduce the overall threat level. Aerena and Vance and Davish are taking out the crystalline "Peer Review Chorus" tubes.
     
     
    With the B'omarr defeated and detached from malicious control, we can patch them and ourselves up. We can restore our preparations for trouble. Aerena has freed all the bottled spirits from the "Peer Review Chorus".
    Danar is still seeing trippy colors.
    Hoo boy.
    I think he'll be okay; he has the tools he needs. He has done good work so far in repulsing the Dark Side.
    If he's okay, I imagine that Reese is also getting a grip on things.
     
     
    In the next chamber are Larry, Moe, and Curly, the Three Stooges of Evil. Also they have a Mini-AT-ST Mecha.
    They want keys.
     
    You know, Goss is not going to believe any claims that there was a Mini-AT-ST Mecha. At all.
    Also they have an energy-absorbing defense shield.

    The Anti-Life Equation
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08: Kanter’s War, Chapter 13
    Plot | Jul 31, 2022

    The battle takes an unusual turn as the BT-16s choose sides, ancient wardroids arrive, and the heroes discover the chamber held a deeper secret than they believed.


     
    Atunda
    6 Helona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:06:06 RR
     
    We got the fight solved, we were cleaning up.
    I went to Reese, finally able to follow his instructions. Reese will have good info for us. He's had time to think about things.
    Reese showed me something on his datapad, something from Almon d'Joy.
     
    And I nearly drowned.
     
    I chewed Reese out -- completely unfairly! -- for not listening when I explain facts about how reality works!
     
    I drew, but did not light, a saber to wave at him. In "emphasis".
      .  
    Wow, I am inept.
     
     
    One of Reese's new friends is RQ-10.
    RQ-10 says we should go back into the Skull Room. He feels it is the safest place to be. He says the B'omarr and three Mentats called "the Concord" have taken over the Control Center. He says that So'Zen has the "unlock key" to make use of the Skull Room.
     
    By "Sanctuary", he means having So'Zen use the Skull Room to open an Infinity Gate to the Library.
     
    While it would be hilarious to shove So'Zen through that gate, the more virtuous shenanigan is to send Palatine Jula Brisini and the three RQs and both damaged astromechs through, to clean up the invasion aftermath and to rest up / do repairs. And if d'Joy manages to get through, they can thump him.

    Unauthorized scan detected
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08 Kanter's War, Chapter 12
    Plot | Jun 12, 2022

    Deep below the Stiydear Estate, the heroes uncover an ancient meditation chamber. This possibly corrupted room may be more than just a meditation chamber, but a key. One that may be a benefit to Chalcedon... or its doom...


     
    Atunda
    6 Helona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:06:06 RR
     
    Davish - no Jedi voodoo talk

    — Cap'n Kolene did not appreciate his 'Always clouded is the future' snark
     
    The Force told So'Zen that I am overthinking things.
    This inclines me to leave the current logic puzzle to other folks, keeping myself to what I do best: write up my POV on outdated/nonexistent Holopedia Galactica entries. Support other people in developing habits of spiritual existence that function for them in this Galaxy. Get myself into repositories of information where I was not welcome. Be a problem in the path of the destructive.
    Keep my overcomplicating notions out of the way for my friends and allies.
     
    That inclination lasted me, what, twenty minutes?
     
    So'Zen did something in that room full of skulls, one result of which: we all got scanned. Maybe not the droids, but definitely us carbon-based organisms.
     
    Davish let me know that there's a riddle floating on the screen in the Skull Meditation Room:
     
    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

     
    After So'Zen does something doplomatic and insightful, that changes to
     
    Point for Point but not one more,
     
    unlocks the key forever more.

     
    and also a bunch of Zombie Spiders drop out of the hallway ceilings to north and south. And some new bilateral biped droids step out of the walls to the northeast.
     
    This is a mechanical puzzle, not a spiritual one. But would you say it's got a foundation in science, in ethics, in culture, or in Random Weird Junk? Given the creators.

    — Vanya and Davish compare impressions on the not-B'omarr learning puzzle in the Skull Room
     
    My partner also leans toward the "mechanical, not spiritual" label on the genre. He supposes it was originally a mixture of scientific comprehension and cultural guidelines -- and of course we do not know much about its culture of origin.
    Too bad we can't get more data from So'Zen right now! He is busy trying to solve it, instead of poking around for more circumstantial clues.
     

    I'm probably overthinking again. Three green, one yellow? Four. Also four obelisks. The BT-16s only have six limbs and a manipulator arm under the torso. What's with all the fours in Bendu stuff?

    Four lizard dude mecha statues in that cavern with the Stupid Dark Side Pop Quiz.

    Two stars and two gas giants and three rock planets, it's still not based on astrocartography for this planetary system in particular. Overthinking again.

    — Vanya, under her breath, much less cheerfully than when she performs her Orange Catholic Cookie Saleswoman Act to newly arrived potential adversaries
     
    I ... I wonder if, in the aftermath of Reese's code injection uploaded to the spiderbot cloud, are the current two hallways' worth of BT-16s doing a system reset? The fluid in the jar where the brain is supposed to go, it looks sludgy. I wonder if I can get them to engage diagnostic mode, provide me with a diagnostic readout so I can summon appropriately qualified repairs.
     
     
    Update: That's a "nope"!
     
    If Davish can buy me ten seconds, I can buy him refresh time after. And if we, Vance, and Aerena can push back the spiderdroids far enough, So'Zen can get out of the Skull Room with the necessaries so we can all obey Reese's instruction to run for the northeast corridor -- where there are fewer droids, only four, all distinctly not spider-shaped, ready to shoot at the BTs surrounding us.
     
     

    See, here's what has honestly always concerned me since that time at that wedding: Can the other Orange Catholic clerical orders do things like the Weirding Way? I'm talking about Mentats, who get annoyed enough sometimes to redirect ASTEROIDS and COMETS into ships holding people who interfered with the latest Pi-Baking Convention. And I'm talking about Solicitors, who do that thing with the Shillelagh of Law. Do they have their own Weirding Word?

     

    Intersections
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

    Episode 3.08 Kanter's War, Chapter 11
    Plot | May 30, 2022

    Heading deeper into the ruin, the heroes push on into the ancient ruins. But they face the challenge of rampaging B'omarr Monk security droids while contending with ancient security of the ruin itself!


     
    Atunda
    6 Helona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:06:06 RR
     
    Now that the room is calmer: we have a yellow crystal to investigate. It's about the length of my tibia but convex instead of concave. The crystal is more like a salt lamp than a NSFW malachite meme. It's a tightly packed molecule, definitely NOT a kyber thank goodness and probably more durable. Could it be synthetic? If yes, could that tight packing contain and conceal encrypted data?
    It's still not really in construction range of hardness but maybe as electronic component range? It has some copper in it. I think it also has some sulfur, which is what usually tints rocks in the quartz family toward yellow spectra.
    Regarding the semi-concealed door that leads back to the room where we found the statue of Master Artak: This lock is YOUNGER THAN ME. Not military grade or even Corporate Sector grade. But definitely a post-B'omarr instruction.
     
    We think the glowy yellow crystal thinger -- which Vance has now got attached, mace head style, to a metal rod -- may have come from Monorik 12? One of the moons of the gas giant Monorik, where some sorta-bees liked to eat these yellow crystals to create fuel.
     
    Vanya to Davish, on seeing the skull stacks: "Uh. Well. Ain't bees, at least."
     
     
    I wish we had Highlight Reel of most of our companions trusting in the Force, and in us, to have Davish and me lift them up and move them most of the way across the trapped hallway so So'Zen could ease them to the safer floor of the first cross intersection!
    O'course, once we'd served the rest, Davish and I pulled the transparisteel lids off the empty bacta tanks. We set those on the floor to block the emitters hidden in the skull stacks and the whatevers in the quillvines.
     
     
    This place is full of intersections. Nothing is exactly straight. Is this meant to be a visual metaphor for something? Or is it an indicator that the original complex was not droid-built? Maybe it was originally a surface level settlement, gradually buried under shifting dust. Or maybe some of the local fauna had a warren here.
    Oh good, there's a heartening thought: we're in an ancient sand shark burrow, repurposed by B'omarr.
    Gee! Thanks, brain.
     
    Even heatening-er: Actual saywix! Two of 'em!
    They're adorable!
    They are hungry and scared.
    Fun fact: Saywix can bite straight through zombie spider droids.
    Further fun fact: A saywix has no objecting to eating seven-month-old heturam jerky.
     

    Spider Pez
    Atunda, 6 Helona, 12731

    Atunda
    6 Helona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:06:06 RR
     

    Aboard our shuttle, headed to Stiydear Estate

     

    Vanya: "Faboo. I've received more intel from Lord Vondromas --"
    Vanya thumps the belt pouch in which she keeps the index card sized flimsiplasts
    Vanya: "-- explaining more Everything Is Awful about that Codex jobby. In summary, it's awful, we will have to figure out a different Off Procedure every time, and so I see no reason we should ignore the 'explode a can of beans' protocol as a possibility."
    Vanya looks around for where she left her mug of caf.
    Vanya: "My immediate reaction to an ex-Sith insisting Everything Is Awful is pretty much the same as my reaction when I was twelve and my peers pronounced doom about the next semester's class schedule. Just go do something else."

     
      Here in the Stiydear basement, in a room that Lord Baize is certain was empty a few years ago:
    • shards and fragments from many damaged holocrons
    • piles of other broken items
    • in the center of the room, on a pedestal framed by four ceiling-supporting pillars, one meter-tall statue -- damaged -- of Jedi Master Shal Artak.
    Upon first glance, we tentatively identify all of these as things that came from the Jedi Temples at the end of the Clone Wars. In fact, that statue was part of a lot of artifacts being escorted by most of us aboard the Kylo's Star during Winter Fete!
    On 12731:01:01, the Black Hat pirate gang attacked us en route, killed the shipmaster, and cleared out most of our cargo. Instead of recovering from the holiday celebrations like sensible people.
    Vance raises a fair point. Now we all wonder if whoever put this statue here also loaded its hidden compartment with a bomb?
     

    Farseeing the statue's past

     

    Vanya makes several notes:

  • fake wall to the northwest
  • Black Hats and Tilles know how to get in here, except the Tilles shot the Black Hats afterward
  • check debris for sabers and medical scanners
  • several rare old scrolls in boxes, too, all dumped on the floor
  • OH FRAK a B'omarr!
  • is the Tilles' employer.
  • also "paid" via murder
  • three more B'omarr
  • take the Tilles corpses off to be jarred
  • B'omarr are working for Almon de Joy
  • who pays them off with a page from the Codex
  • and then talks to me. I don't want to talk to him!
  • now who wrecked stuff? and was something put into the statue of Master Artak? DANGIT
  • Did this happen within the past 6 months? Must have.

     

    Months further back! In a cargo ship with these artifacts.

  • Piotr Sparaval supervised the piratical cataloguing team, and told them to bring these artifacts to Chalcedon.
  • They wanted a particular old holocron that was not in the batch, supposedly in custody of Crimson Knights.
  • Nothing useful about a Tenocron Codex. Which might have been inside the Jedi Temple?
  • Something local to realtime is mucking up my connection to spatiotemporal history.
    I can feel minds screaming into the Force in agony. From a nearby room.
    Almon De Joy is taking a red lightsaber to the holocrons, pissed, muttering about "it's NOT HERE" and "they didn't record it!" and "it HAS TO BE here!" and, regarding the statue, "YOU FOUGHT HIM! WHERE?!! WHERE?!?!"
    He is having a full bore tantrum. He's particularly focused on two holocrons in the back of the pile.
     
     

    Master's Message Fragment

     

    The projection from Temple Guardian chip:

     

    And so I had to do what was necessary. I knew it would return. I knew my adversary too well. So therefore, to prevent his plan, I changed the rules of the game. I moved it.

    — Jedi Master Shal Artak

    It fizzles out -- message incomplete

    Perspective Adjustments
    Katunda, 31 Nelona, 12731

    Katunda
    31 Nelona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:05:31 RR
     
    When I finally detached from Port Etmar report-seeking long enough to tromp onto the Night Sparrow, I heard Davish before my eyes adjusted to the light spectrum.
    "Ah, there you are," Davish said. "I'm glad to finally be home."
    Sometimes he says the most romantic things -- like that his home is not a place, but wherever I am.
    "Here's what I want to do," I told him. "I am going to take a twenty minute sonic. Unless we're forbidden by your current medical instructions, I intend to spend the next half hour scandalizing the Republic. And then we can both take another sonic, put on clean clothes, chuck every non-weapon thing currently on me or in my overnight bag into the cleaner, and finally I am going to eat two and a half rations' worth of actual food. With caf. At which point, we can compare notes on the trivial parts of our life."
    Smiling, Davish assured me, "I already have the caf dispenser and the stewpot prepped."
     
    Scandalizing the Republic went very well indeed. We needed that second clean-up.
     
    By the time we wandered back out, I was sure someone had been through the galley -- the insulating mitt hung from a different hook, the stack of bowls in the rack was no longer an even number, the seasoning rack looked tidier than Davish or I usually leave it. Someone else must have made it back here, fueled up, and gone off to their own bunk.
    Once we both had a few sporkfuls of stew into us, I started our intel-exchange in the wrong order:
    "I tried out So'Zen as an ethics and perspective advisor. Not his jam. He made the supportive noises but his later actions contradicted. Or invalidated, anyway."
    "Nobody is good at everything," Davish said, "thank goodness. What is your ethics thing?"
    I told Davish about the Codex. And the lousy "reading for comprehension" emails from Vondromas when I asked about a disabling procedure. And Vondromas' dramatic doomspeaking. How that made me wonder, does this thing actually have a circumstance for which it is suited?
    "Because here's the thing: my documented, consistent reaction to aggressively destructive people or objects has been 'don't get fussed, just chuck it into the nearest late-series star and move on.' I tend to get overridden on that -- can't dispose of the creepy black hand, can't stuff the invasive poison weed transplants into the mulch machine, can't go around shooting Lieutenant Zorad just because he's a domineering ass. I feel like, more often than not, this has been a fair rebuttal to my pragmatism. No living creature is just one thing, sure." I pointed toward the stewpot with my spork to find out if Davish wanted more; he did not. "So here we are, actual grown-up knights, I ought to be responsible and patient and so forth. Especially given the Sith tradition of doom-flailing in the face of this whatsit. Is it bad ethics to give it a chance? I presented the idea to So'Zen as if I am firmly on the side of everything being good if it's properly situated. He nodded along but when we got into the crime scene, he went straight to eradication. Which might mean that when I asked for a reality filter check, all he heard was blither."
    Davish thought about that while I refilled my bowl.
    "You're sounding kind of pollyannaish on the ethics thing," he said.
    I sighed. I resumed my seat at the galley table. I plunked my spork into the bowl to see how fast it would settle to the rim.
    "I have more than 'knight order' grounds," Davish said. "The potential for a redemption arc is not a linear ray, with 'waste of time' at one end and 'worth the effort' at the other. An entity has to be willing to do some of the work on their end to seek a healthier situation. You can't redirect the willfully bratty, you know?"
    I did, indeed, know.
    "Don't set yourself afire to light the way for others. If people never choose to reach for hope, that is on them. And some beings will only ever reach out in order to snuff the hope. You have as much right to not get snuffed as anyone else."
    There's a part of me that wanted to argue against this.
    It is probably the same part of me that bothers Jenkins so much.
    "I knew that," I said slowly, "but I needed to hear it from someone else. Hence the reality check. Thanks."
    We ate in comfortable silence for another few minutes.
    "Why the test run of Sparkle Sparkle Goggles, then?" Davish asked me.
    I was quiet for a while.
    "Chaplain Ysadora does okay," I told him. "Either in the right, or at least in a useful consultant mode, about eighty-five percent of the time." I put my spork down in the empty bowl. "Jedi Knight Ysadora receives another 'you got that wrong' just, so often in comparison. I am not going to give up being Jedi. I know who I am. But when the galaxy keeps swatting another error buzz in my direction every time I do any sort of religion-based deduction ... and the Dark Side keeps trying to lay traps that consist of other people's suffering ... I cannot stick my fingers in my ears and balk. What matters is the result I want, not how I present myself."
    Davish reached across the table to pat my arm.
    "Don't let them badger you, hon. When you do your thinking under the Jedi cap, I promise, you are wrong a normal percentage of the time." He smiled a little. "Maybe less often than the statistical average. You do look for pertinent factors!"

    Thin Darkness
    Natunda, 30 Nelona, 12731

    Natunda
    30 Nelona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:05:30 RR
     
    Today's original Tactical Outline:
     
    1) Cut off all communications.
    V: Check!
    Someone did that for us!
    2) Sneak into Chausid.
    V: Check!
    More or less!
    At least, until we got into THIS combat.
    3) Find the Lead Problem.
    V: Check!
    So'Zen Al Saba did that.
    4) Capture the Lead Problem.
    V: Check!
    So'Zen Al Saba took him drinking.
     
    I'm doing the

    VN Ysadora,
    Girl Distraction

    routine. I yell an invitation to the target at the south end of this lane and then put my back to the business wall on the east side, so I'm less likely to be attacked from behind.
     
     
    I step out to the center of the north-south lane.
    I face toward the one southward as I rotate to put my back to the building on the east.

    Vanya to Saber Carapace, in exactly the tone of yelling "Hey Asshole!" at the start of a ballroom blitz:

    "I sense some DARKNESS in you!"

    — and then I light up sabers
     

    Vanya, continuing the tone of yelling: "Not a LOT of darkness, mind. Milk tea, the kind you make for sick people and Corellians."

    Vanya: "And I've had scones with a Vorharkonnen, so believe me, I know what dark looks like!"

     
    I had the attention of both Carapace-wearing Killians for a moment, anyway.
    And now we can confirm "Force Lightning".
    Also, I need to make amends to Cap'n Kolene for denigrating her culture of origin.
    Possibly via bauhin flower candle for her bunk aboard the Night Sparrow? I wonder if I can find that, or anything exported from Corellia that isn't a vehicle or food, anywhere on this dirtball.
     
     
    We have got to figure out a way we can include some of those tactics in Practice Hour At The Dojo!
    The current set-up would be difficult. We don't have that kind of room.
    I wonder if the Roughnecks have a membership at a splatterball court? Especially if there's a chain through the Tapani Sector, we could try out some real shenanigans there.
     
     
    Next problems on our list: There' are a pair of Sithy things in town, or part of it anyway, known as the "Tenebrex Codex". Or maybe the "Ten O'Clock Codex". I am not entirely sure because the nearby street combat noises interfered when I was listening to Reese's message on the topic.
    TEN oh Cron COH decks.
    Hicks,
    speaking slowly and distinctly,
    about to have to also spell it for me
    Importantly, Reese and Vance are both excited about it in the Not Happy sense. Or maybe about something related. Anyway, something something there's an AT-ST being refitted somewhere to the east with Carapace Armor tidbits; plus further, the missing Fremen Troops we wanted to rescue were being marched in that general direction for involuntary pilot status.
    While I'm waiting for this quickcrete to finish drying around the two synthetic kyber crystals in this busted pot, I suspect Hicks and I are going to have to split up. He can go scout some repair shop to the east, looking for advance intel on the literal Big Problem, while I--
     

     
    while I go support Cap'n Kolene, and dash off some emails to subject matter experts, and in general find out what I missed while I was having two fights.
     

    To: Lord E. Vondromas
    From: vy_pi
    Subj: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    There are allegedly 2.

    They are trying to absorb and/or dismantle all complex systems around.

    At least one is actively projecting its gatekeeper.

    Do I, what, hit 'em with a hammer?

     

    To: vy_pi
    From: Lord E. Vondromas
    Subj: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    Vanya, that isn't a normal Sith holocron. Sith don't allow their holocrons to do that... but... has anyone mentioned a 'scroll' ... or 'pages' of something?

     

    To: Lord E. Vondromas
    From: vy_pi
    Subj: Re: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    Some sorta "codex"

     

    To: vy_pi
    From: Lord E. Vondromas
    Subj: re: re: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    Sithspawn...

     

    Vanya. If it is a 'codex' then that could be the Tenocron Codex. It isn't supposed to exist. Sith legends state it is a 'book' made of ancient flimsies that are considered the most powerful Sith 'holocron' to have ever been made.

     

    Vanya.. the legends state it 'wills' owners to transport it to where the book wants to go... and its 'Gatekeeper'? May be a Force Wraith.

     
    Whoops, he's showing signs of a tizzy. Got to reassure him back toward "tell me the calm method of deactivating or disabling it"!
     

    To: Lord E. Vondromas
    From: vy_pi
    Subj: re: re: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    It'll be fine.

     

    We have cans of baked beans.

    I'm sure we can find more in this city even if Bishop is fresh out. That reminds me: still need to ask the Consular Kid why does his astromech carry around a can of baked beans?
    Captain Kolene probably can rattle off some ideal places in this town to go rummage!
     

     
    Update: Captain Kolene is done with absolutely everybody's issues. She's declaring the Wet Wookiee Inn off limits to everybody while she, uh, establishes a strong personal alliance with a local business contact.
    That was defiitely the "Leave Me Out Of Your Issues, Or Else" tone.
     

    To: vy_pi
    From: Lord E. Vondromas
    Subj: re: re: re: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    Word of caution. If the legends about that thing have any truth ... it absorbs memories from other holocrons at will. Draining them dry. Supposedly anyone who touches it, even Jedi Masters, have been said to be consumed by power to the point they can fall to the dark Side.

     
    This is not the hologram-presenting body language of a man who's feeling Reassured and Hopeful.
    Everyone's a doomsayer this week.
     

    To: Lord E. Vondromas
    From: vy_pi
    Subj: re: re: re: re: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    I didn't say I was gonna touch it, I said I was gonna dump an expired can of baked beans all over it and gum it up. It's hard to be Goth and Terrifying when you have oversugared bean gelatin filling in all the cracks in your molecular structure.

    Maybe I ought not get sharp on disrupting the Complicated Doomwail he's extemporizing here, but.
    C'mon!
    Wallowing in unresolvable misery is stupid. And self-limiting. And pretty much the opposite of "Enlightenment 201".
     

    To: vy_pi
    From: Lord E. Vondromas
    Subj: re: re: re: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    Not that simple. The book 'spawns' itself using copies. You'll need a lot of beans... or the original and a very hot plasma forge.

     
    It ... may be time to give up on my Sith Expert du Jour. I think instead I will lean heavily on my favorite mathematician.
     

    To: vy_pi
    From: Lord E. Vondromas
    Subj: re: re: re: RE: virus-ridden antique computers

     

    No one has been able to destroy the Tenocron Codex. The few that have tried were consumed by he thing. But ... in a former life I had a theory on how. You don't destroy the book from the outside. You poison it. It devours knowledge... feed it a virus. Sadly you have to do it page by page... in theory.

     
    New rule: If I have to ask Lord Vondromas for input on "where's the offswitch", I need to plan to redirect him sharply when he falls into the old Sith habit of woe-is-everybody. No, he cannot have even a little woe. Certainly not as a treat! Not until he learns to think more along the lines of, "Hunh. A problem. What am I going to do about it?"
     
     
    Additional rule: Don't ask the nice barely-in-his-twenties guy to check whether I'm being a Pollyanna. I won't be convinced of his analysis regardless. Ask someone more seasoned.
    (O'course, that means I need to get some time on the daily planner for a seasoned friendly acquaintance.)
    (In our respective hypothetical spare time slots.)
    (Which this planet seems determined to deny us.)

    We Do Not Touch the Creepy Artifact
    Natunda, 30 Nelona, 12731

    Natunda
    30 Nelona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:05:30 RR
     
    Let's review Today's Tactical Outline:
     
    1) Cut off all communications.
    V: Check!
    Someone did that for us!
    2) Sneak into Chausid.
    V: Check!
    More or less!
    At least, until we got into THIS combat.
    3) Find the Lead Problem.
    V: I think that's in progress down on Center Street in the big intersection.
    4) Capture the Lead Problem.
    V: Beskar Aran regs permit
    "we have custody of more than half of the corpse"
    as a definition of "capture", right?
     
    I'm starting to get tired. Good thing we got this room cleared. Not so good thing, though, now we gotta move at least half a block before more heavy armor contestants arrive. And for all I know, these new people are also wearing bracers with vials of Liquid Dark Side injectables.
     
    Hicks is updating his sibs on the current problems, possibly including how we've tasked Bishop with collecting and storing all the bracers from the Killians.
     
    But since Vance tells me that the two armored guys are after me, and he's off to try to prevent the captured troops from getting subjected to some sort of prototype crap, I need to step out and be Girl Distraction.
     
    I sense darkness in you!

    — Vanya yells a "greeting" in the exact precise tone of voice that she would call out "Hey, asshole!"

    Chausid Station
    Natunda, 30 Nelona, 12731

    We took a Three Hour Tour down to Chausid Station, which amounts to half an hour of briefing followed by 2 hours of meditation followed by a half hour of getting updates on how The Plan has Already Changed:
     
    All the communications are jammed up tighter than
    :my mind supplies static to cover some sort of Orange Catholic metaphor:
     
    I gather that he thinks that someone else already did it. He suspects Almon D'Joy, of course, but adds that the Killian Clan likely does not see themselves as pawns.
    Also there's stuff about tight-beam transmission, which leads to Reese during an analysis of the geography surrounding the town and the heights of various buildings.
     
    Vance contributes some interesting facts about the locals. There's a (retired?) prizefighter who is a Wookiee. Also the "Sheriff" and "Deputies" are from a gang called the Void Wolves, led by Toth T'vondt, and they have a "shoot on sight" agreement with the Killians.
    Furthermore, Vance found images of a Mentat named Rokay Elroad, possibly from Reese's graduating class.
     
    Oh good.
     
    I've got some notes here that I am pulling from others' observations.
     
  • A distress signal is broadcasting, close-in only, from Jombai Repair and Salvage (Owner: Genkin Jombai). It's a Freedworlds Republic signal. That's interesting enough that Rico and Goss decide to get dropped off and go check it out.
  • Reese says the existing jamming is based in "old Mentat" mathematics.
    Ombresezi published his Wandering Sequence equation about 200 standard years ago.
    Any math that's held up since the Federal Era has to be solid math.
  • Chausid Station has a resident Mentat who is integral to local society -- included in most of the social holoimages for the town.
  • As we quietly make our way into town, the "Docks" region gives off a deliberately unfriendly impression. Reese decides that the Council Center building serves as a nexus of the jamming; he and Bishop head off to take custody. The rest of us head to the Wet Wookiee Inn.
     
    Kunla, proprietor and chef, greets us with a double-barrel bowcaster.
    Immediately he gets the Charm Trio: Vance with the banter, Aerena with the appreciation, and So'Zen says what he is doing is called "diplomatic relations". All three find success.
     
    Hicks and I fade into the background as best we can. We'll look over the walls. Hicks checks in with his siblings.
     
    So'Zen goes off to scout out the Killian occupation of the Docks area. Vance goes upstairs to a rented room on the 3rd floor, where he scans the city for useful tactical updates. Aerena and Kunla come to an understanding.
    I found an older map of the city, maybe 30 years old?
     
    We don't have solid facts on the Killians other than "hate the Void Wolves", but Hicks dug up tentative info based on some Wanted posters. Gruk Eqitch, a male Trandoshan, is a senior level leader (probably not top, but close) known for brutal action. Annikale Bearsat, a female human, is more known for pilot-related raids.
     
    It bothers me that the Killians did not come to this remote outpost with overwhelming antigrav-based vehicular capacity. This town ought to be covered in the glowing engines of repulsorcraft and speederbikes and whatnot. They should be blanketing every pocket of resistance.
    The fact that this is not happening means that it would somehow be significantly detrimental to the Killians' goal to have active hovercraft engines in quantity.
    I would like to know why that is.
     
    Hicks and I agree that we need Reese in order to find out from the local Mentat what our answers may be.
     
    First, we need Reese and Bishop to be done with their jamming-related task.

    The droid did WHAT?
    Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

    Datunda
    29 Nelona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:05:29 RR
     
    Right.
    Right.
     
    I think Vance is handling a fight in another room. Solo.
    Maybe Reese is backing him up. I hope so.
     
    Cap'n Kolene is shooting any key target she can line up. Keeps giving instructions to Spook. Some of those instructions are about the doors.
     
    Davish is bleeding. Not okay. Needs some first aid. Nobody available.
     
    So'Zen Al Saba just faceplanted under heavy crossfire. He's clear across the battlefield, I cannot get to him super fast.
     
    My combat sense faded down under the strain. I have limited effective time remaining in this fight before we get overwhelmed.
     
    I need to start eliminating directions of threat.
    Right after I get out from under this heavy droid.
     
     
    My new parishioner is Zam Ello, and he says he'll convert if I will protect him from an ex-Crimson Dawn enforcer type named "Voodoo". Ohhhhhkay sure.
    On the plus side, Vance got the Dark Troopers to shut down. And I think Reese has control of the base exploder AND all the door locks.
     
     
    There's a Devaronian working in this place named Heth G'vanek who is

    A
    mazing

    when it comes to bo kata. He is an expert in Zama-shiwo. When we'd exchanged a few moves, So'Zen and I stopped dead to exclaim enthusiastically our admiration for his form.
    It was not difficult to take that conversation over into finding out the terms of his contract. The necessary modifications to the stolen weapons have not been specified. All he has agreed to do is to watch over these farmers to ensure they make "modifications" to these weapons -- at the end of which, he gets the other half of his pay. No problem for us. We direct the farmers to make the modification of detaching the power packs from the weapons. Put all the power packs in one box, all the weapons in another, bring along both boxes.
    Also So'Zen confiscates that other gunship as a transport. And gives bounty hunter Arthal Kale custody of the fighter that was parked in the base's hangar.
     
     
    When we land, while Davish and I await our medically prescribed yelling fest, Hicks and Vondromas arrive with somber news. There's a place called "Chausid Station" where some Republic Troopers got attacked by Killian's pirates. The Troopers' weapons misfired and knocked them out of the fight. Chancellor Kanter needs to take it back but does not really have the forces to do so by strength. Hicks says he thinks a small Commando force could sneak in and get the job done. We compare some notes with So'Zen before confirming that yes, I will go. (Davish can work on returning the _Shenanigans_ to Vorbaize and get our shuttle back.)
    Everyone else signs on to support this plan. I appreciate that a lot.

    Aboard the Loaner Shuttle _Shenanigans_
    Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

    Datunda
    29 Nelona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:05:29 RR
     
    It's evening at last on an incident-packed day.
    We are not done yet.
    I have been snacking when I got a chance to keep my systems going, but listen, when an opportunity comes up I am going to get someone else to take a shift of piloting the Loaner Shuttle Shenanigans while Davish and I flop for some decent sleep.
    At minimum, a standard hour.
    I am at the brink of the point where filling one metaphorical need no longer compensates for the empty fumes in another.
     
    I notice that I keep finding chances to tell people that I love them. Particularly the Beskar Aran. The enemy is going to try to use this against somebody. Good luck, buddy: my actual point is that no matter how vile this planetary system gets, they should know on a no-question-about-it level that they are loved.
    No strings attached. No return required.
    I want it to be a fact like bioelectric processing. The political mess here is trying to kill us. If it gets me -- if it gets any of them -- I want them to know, in the midst of the nastiest that can be flung around, that they are loved.
     
    Also, that preceding is incontrovertible evidence of me needing a nap and a cookie! I get stubborn and yelly when my serotonin gets out of balance. Maybe I'll wrap up in my cloak during this rescue job. When I'm not cheering on my favorite racing pilot in the entire Galaxy.
     
    We landed near the southern end of Needle Forest Canyon, in the fog, to use the sewer entrance. I expect fewer filters to slow us down. We did have to do some team-based lockpicking on an LTRON digital control panel for the access hatch, but we fortunately packed along all the right tools: my "hairpin" and "souvenir travel chopstick", a Mentat with a Medglove, Danar's lockbox of Reserve Voradelli Chocolates in gold foil, and So'Zen with a double handful of snow.
     
    At the top of the ladder, Reese does his thing. the console disgorges a directory of the various 'freshers in this base. The room to our east is the Command and Control center. The double doors to the west are the fastest route to the Mess Hall ... which is where I need to be. So'Zen and I head that way while getting our minds set for the fight we know we are about to face.
     
     

    Dark Troopers.

     
     
    Davish says these are the Mark Threes --
    but the Empire never put them into service. No clones inside... just recorded tactical studies of trooper tactics... records called it 'memory tape transfer'
    — Davish gives the necessary info on what we face
     
     
    When more charge into the room, Aerena triggers the fire suppression fog to give us better cover as we move around.
    By the time the actual pirates staffing this base finally join the fight, Davish is in rough shape. Reese has deduced an enemy hacker; he sends Vance to take care of him in the CnC chamber. Aerena steadily picks off one target at a time while So'Zen directly fights one Dark Trooper while indirectly delaying two or three more Dark Troopers.
     
     
    This fight is not going well.
    Davish is badly injured.
    My Combat Sense has faded off.
    Something in the middle of the room blew up. I don't think anybody was expecting it.
    And we have two minutes and twenty-eight seconds to the whole base detonating....

    Braiding is a skill.
    Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

    Datunda
    29 Nelona
    12731
    a.k.a.
    1008:05:29 RR
     
    I suppose I ought to get back in the habit of thinking in both calendar systems at the same time. We're going to be out here, outside the Tapani Sector and for that matter, we're not even in the Colonies Region at this point. We are in Tashtor Sector which, if I remember my one semester Galactic Astrogation seminar, is part of the Mid-Rim.
    I went to do my bit downstairs, ensure as best we can that the current prisoners will not be future "Problems" flimsies. Two of them were not in their original makeshift cell. They were in the Stiydear Estate medbay -- burned, plus some other wounds.
    Well ... frak. Reminder to me: make another Problems card, make sure Davish gets the half of the flimsi stack with that one. Captain Kolene and/or Spook define "Bad Cop" to include "create suffering".
    I should have considered that possible.
    I know that when star pirates try to leave that life behind, sometimes frustration with the non-crook path through life is a problem. (Why hasn't anyone ever recorded a decent, not-preachy holovid series on "So You're Transitioning Out of Piracy"?)
    That's a thing for Future Me to review. In the immediate, I persuaded the current guards on duty that life would be easier if we take the remaining two Tilles Pirate Clan prisoners down to the medbay where they can all be watched at once.
    Once I had all four in close proximity, I literally spread all of my flimsicards out on a table for a little Show 'n' Tell.
     
    • Here are several MMI Flimsies - Facts about critters reshaped by the Tor Ceti bone worms and their retrovirus.
    •  
    • Here's a particular pair of cards, currently number 152 and 153:
      A cargo of Tor Ceti creatures (and eggs thereof) are en route to Chalcedon.
      Part of Almon D'Joy's's plan involves trapping Zaye and her children on Chalcedon when it gets invaded by Tor Ceti creatures. The point is to force Grakkus the Hutt into open hostility against the Freedworlds Republic.
      And let's also note card 155:
      Four batches of Tor Cetian creatures shipping to Chalcedon. One shipment was in orbit on 1008:05:12 RR which would make it 12 Nelona 12731 TT.
    •  
    • Now, we persuaded somebody really good at snarling orders, you know the Fleet Commander Having A Bad Afternoon type, to try to recall those. He managed two of them. The other two were past the point where hyperspace signal transmission was being jammed.
    •  
    • Oh, right, about that signal transmission jamming, it's happening strongly around Chalcedon system, see card 100 here about Port Greymouth? Been going on for more than two months. Bloodsmith Raiders and Nightsister slave collectors have been using that to their advantage, but we don't have evidence that either of them designed the jamming array. It lets through just enough signals in both directions that no one realized trouble was brewing until, oh, in the Ruusan calendar we'd mark that as 1008:04:07 RR, I think. And since today is 05:29, that means we have not managed to fix it nor arrange an emergency shipment of the anti-worm topical spray for nearly twelve weeks.
    •  
      But, hey, let's not dwell on that just now. You have no reason to believe me on any of this. It's not like I have holovid to back up my claims.
       
    • On the other hand, I do have holovid on the Piotr Sparaval problem. Here's a few members of the Bonejackers swoop gang on Nar Shaddaa hinting to me that they were hired by Sparaval.
      Here's Problems card 28, it's got a video clip attached of Piotr Sparaval sniping Piotr Sparaval, I guess to make sure we did not get to ask either Sparaval maybe-hive-mind clone any questions about Sparaval's boss. By this time, we had good intel that Sparaval is working for an "eerie maniacal laughter" type who goes by Almon D'Joy.
      Free information: if Sparaval is willing to murder himself by one remove, just to tidy up any potential inconveniences to himself, I feel like you guys going back to working for him is a self-sabotaging idea. Also if you contact him with info, that means he knows you're still kicking and he might be able to trace you down.
    •  
    • Oh, hey, let me also hit a few notes on Almon D'Joy.
      All Bloodsmith Raiders on Nar Shaddaa are infected with a Mentat computer virus which can allow Almon D'Joy to speak through them.
      All Bloodsmith Raiders on Nar Shaddaa are infected with a Mentat computer virus which can allow Almon D'Joy to drain their entire internal power supply to ionize the host to death.
    •  
    • I have also got my own recording of an original security recording where D'Joy is ranting to some of his co-conspirators about why he is arranging all of this. It's lengthy. It's full of bananacrackers claims about various people and organizations. I'm not going to subject you to it. Just, believe me, this guy is indeed a smartypants but he is way out of his tree.
    •  
    • What else should I show you about D'Joy? What'd be useful to you for making your plans? Oh, I know: Here's a shaky bit from an afternoon two months ago in Port Nevermore where we fought a couple waves of Reavers from out of nowhere. No ship landing, first thing we knew was them lurching over the ridge toward the town gate. You catch in this, when we damage them enough, they kind of melt. Right? Second video attached here, Facts 63, we found behind a sand dune a fragging three-dee printer was making the things out of some weird algae slop.
    •  
    • Here's the weird bug things attacking Port Etmar the other day. Notice how they melt.
     
    Now that we have gotten the relevant bits of Your Boss's Boss's Boss Ain't Worth It out of the way, gentlemen, I'll go over some options for a better tomorrow for you. Feel free to poke at my flimsicards if you want.
     
    • Here's Derma the Hutt. Here's Trenloe, his majordomo. Lord Derma is currently the broker who matches "workers needed" and "skills established" for the new nation, starting in Port Etmar and spreading out from there through the rest of the Freedworlds Republic. Let's just say that right now, he is busier than a half-dressed Sister of Battle in a fake-Reaver-printing factory.
    •  
    • Nobody is getting out of this system before all hell breaks loose. Not at this point. D'Joy won't want independent narratives out there in the greater Galaxy. Also I have a circumstantial reason to think he has a Boss who isn't telling him everything. And anyway, this isn't a holovid drama. There's no neat, tidy, single Mastermind Mir'sheb with pruny fingers who is the ultimate motivator for all the Galaxy's problems. Too many variant interests have clashing reasons to feed on the isolation of Chalcedon system this month, you gents cannot possibly account for all of them in one dash.
    You want to live?
    A month from now, you want to do well?
    That's doable. That just takes plodding, steady work. If I didn't have a contract to fret, I'd be doing it already. Since I can't, well, somebody might as well get a chance at using my plan instead.
    Establish yourself as a useful neighbor to know -- not to me, nobody cares what I think. I don't plan to be here a month from now anyhow. But go to Etmar, get involved in building defenses -- and boosting the signal strength at BSS Traffic Control -- and, hell, assemble sandwiches at the public canteen. Define yourself as "Old Reliable" for some skill you've always had that is not "underpaid Tilles Clan thug".
    As for these folks here at Stiydear? Ehh. If you are not on the checklist for troubles, current or future, then they are just as happy to see the back of you. They have -- we have -- too long a list as it is. My plan, the one I'm offering you to use instead, said that if I established myself as a useful cog in Etmar then by next month, people like the Vorbaize Clan would naturally consider me a go-between.
     
    I would steer clear of everyone in this "gladiator" nonsense, though, as if they were MLM grifters. Which they probably are: Gladiatorial fighting is not a moneymaking venture. For anyone. It's a cover for something else.
    Even before you figure the startup debits on that three-dee combatant printer abomination.
     
    I dunno if my team can talk the Vorbaize Pirate Clan into sending you off in a proper vehicle. I think so, in the cost-benefit analysis of "let's send one problem away" combined with "maybe you four will spread some of this intelligence around other clan goons, show them an easier way to survive comfortably than the brief life of a disposable thug". I know that if they go along, it won't have functional weapons or more than the barest minimum of survival supplies.
     
     
    And then I leaned back, inviting questions.
     
    Ghas Vandt, Devaronian in charge of the raid, took to the presentation of facts sooner than his crew. He decided to lay out some tips for me in trade, which are getting scribbled onto flimsicards whenever I am waiting a few minutes for something else (like a holonet connection):
    1. This attack was a decoy to keep Vorbaize Clan distracted away from another Tilles raid.
    2. Vandt's team was essentially sent to fail. The storm was a lot stronger than they expected, but really they did not expect to get anywhere.
    3. Seriously that thundersand hurricane got powerful mighty fast.
    4. Whatever the raid was, they will not have made it back to stash their acquisitions.
    5. Check the farms north and south of the Kessora Mountains.
    6. Be prepared to have to go into the Kessora Mountains for the Tilles HQ.
     
    Okay, hopefully the rest of our group has got some info that will let us work; I can pile this atop it.
     
    After I record and send a couple of messages!
     
     
    From: vy_pi@oldfolkshome.allandor.gov
    Subj: Baize mission status report

    Hi, guys.
    Pardon the grime. There was a, oh my head. "Sandstorm" plus "lightning" multiplied by "hurricane". We are fine, we all got inside thick stone walls before it smacked us, no Stavin-esque hijinx for any of us. We even got our shuttle and Kolene's X-Wing into a hangar before they could get scoured.
    Whole place is on water rationing, obviously.
    But -- look, Doc, I'm doing the skin pinch test. See? Normal rate of recovery. I have had a couple mugs of caf and a snack. I do not need to be stunned and shoved into a humidifier tent. I know you worry. I love you for it. So I am starting off with proof: We are okay. Just filthy.
    So!
    I presume that whatever Fuzzy Eyebrows arranged to embugger my Holonet account, it's still a factor. I probably have eavesdroppers. Hi, eavesdroppers! Have fun analyzing for hidden messages!
    Obviously I'm not going to relate our Awesome Extremely Classified Strategies via holonet message. Which are strategies we definitely have, absolutely. But here are the hints for the eavesdroppers to study.
    One: Primary meeting with Lord Erenn Baize has been concluded. Also a secondary and tertiary meeting. I did the Obnoxious Bureaucratic Pot-Stirrer thing. My name may well be mud with some of the Vorbaize Clan, for entirely fair reasons. A result of these meetings is that four ex-Tilles goons will probably slog to Port Etmar and look for the jobs board. They are not of significance to your chore list nor mine, I just wanted to give you the heads up that they might show. Rico, the elltee-type among them is a Devaronian who goes by "Gaz Vant", spelled "grek-herf-aurek-senth vev-aurek-nern-dorn-trill". If he was Beskar, I'd trip him so he faceplants into Goss's Drone Wars League for a while, just to see how that turned out in six months.
    Two: We are not coming directly back to Etmar. We will go simplify the overall warlord-pogo situation. I'll update you again before we divert to the whole Stavin checklist.
    So'Zen is currently So'Zen, by the by. Not much to tell there. If he relapses, I'll confiscate the hazards again.
    Three: ...
    ... Uhh. Reese and So'Ze determined ...
    Kriff. I probably shouldn't broadcast this one on a compromised holovid. But trying to avoid one potential enemy use-case is more problematic than hearing Reese do the Arena Sportscaster voiceover. The hell with it. The "Keen Science Duo" uncovered significant evidence that brain-in-jar-in-spider-droid monks either built this place, or converted it. I am a little unclear on that last bit, I was busy going, you know, "Whaddaya mean, we have B'omarr artifacts in the sub-basement?!"
    Please, for the love of The Force, grab Sabine Tri'elle and Master Kit'Sedda and a few species-appropriate mild intoxicant beverages, and explain creepy brains ... in jars ... in spider mechas. Other people can be present too, but get that concept imparted.
    Which ties in to Four, after which I'm signing off: I am going to give the Polite Henchwoman edition of this summary in a group message to a lot of authority figures on the planet. I can't do those two because I do not have holonet contact addresses for either of them. Jenkins, love, if you can charm usable contact info out of them and forward those to Davish, we would be much obliged.
    As a matter of ethical responsibility, I am going to include the Adeptas in that message group. I absolutely do not want you ruffians signing up to join the "Purge the Unclean" Fiesta that I just know they want to host. For one thing, the correct host for such a party is Erenn Vorbaize, not Canoness Commander Agnuya Ogerine and her Wacky Lasses. It's his basement! For another thing, I just. ...
    I don't want you lads anywhere near the Honloo Dust Ocean this month.
    I don't know why.
    Not yet, anyway.
    It's either a matter of knowing the Beskar are all inoculated against Tor Ceti infections, which makes you potential linchpins in the current Freedworlds situation, or else it's this whole Dr. Zack Stavin pile.
    I saw giant trapdoor spiders when the two of you were getting a surprise upright nap, couple of days ago. And now there used to be, maybe still are, giant spider mechas? Let's not push that metaphor too hard.
     
    I trust you to make good decisions, vode. Regardless of my input or preferences.
     
    I will write when I get work. Promise!
     
    May the Force be with you.
     
     
    From:: vy_pi@oldfolkshome.allandor.gov
    To: Chancellor Nalerine Kanter, Derma the Hutt, Mand’alor Asajj Ventress, Mistress Belshanna, Lord Errol Vondromas, Questor Satina, Cannoness Commander Agnuya Ogerine, Lady Zaye Grakkus Kerplocken
    cc: Imperial Consort Yeager Lexics, Trenloe, Quanor Al Fayed, Kal Holst, Captain Vorysadora
    Subj: Baize mission status report

    If some of you could please forward this report to Noxarin Salbur and Mister Anatoli Cuylin, I would be most humbly grateful. I just realized that I do not have direct contact info for either of them.
     
    I believe that my HoloNet account has been infested with some server-side subroutines that make anything transmitting from or to me also duplicate themselves to at least one unauthorized party. I also have something of a time crunch; hence, my group message to all of you rather than individually crafted updates.
    Our conference on behalf of the Freedworlds Republic with the Vorbaize Pirate Clan has produced some early results. General Kerplocken likely will update the Chancellor with pertinent details soon.
    I have circumstantial evidence that the B'omarr Order is at least nominally active. And inquisitive. Cannoness Commander, you will need introductions to the primary authority of each suspected enclave, once the Imperial Consort's current responsibilities allow some time. I recommend your cordial attention to Mr. Trenloe or Mistress Belshanna. Also you probably will want to make a trip to the ruins of Port Tanin but please for the love of the Steel Rose, proceed with caution.
    The Tilles Pirate Clan is currently involved in water spillage, slave-based gladiatorial merchandizing, prospector claim-jumping, theft and redistribution of weapons shipments ... and at this point I would also believe "investment opportunities in the exciting market of Bespoke Cosh-Braiding". Our itinerary includes a cosh demonstration opportunity they are not inviting. Don't wait up for us.
    For those among you who like forewarning of such events, I suppose I should mention that part of our itinerary also involves an ancient Dark Side locus that is not Tanin. I do not know if that will happen within the current standard day.
    The subsurface of this continent has a lot more ancient mass-transit tunnels than I would have guessed. Please have your security folks do deeper scans than just to the level of the hypothetical water table.
    Lord Derma, I'll keep sending your division more skilled workers. I have not confirmed anyone yet with construction experience in subterranean shelters. I know you need something that could hold up to orbital bombardment. You might need to confer with Mistress Belshanna if you can't find a few Tapani engineers.
    End of message. May the Force be with you.
     
     
     
    Right, then. So'ze says he's got this -- the "this" being "explain the immediate plan" to the rest of our slapdash troupe. I'm going to take my fastest possible sonic shower, get a little of this grit out of my pores.
     

    Confound it, woman!

    Derma the Hutt via HoloNet reply message
     
    After the shower, I retrieve my clothes from the touch-up cycle of the 'fresher and head for someplace with raw veggie snacks. And a little more caf. I need to shove some nutrition in my face as we gear up for the rescue job.
     
    Baize told Davish that it's fine for us to borrow that attack shuttle. We've also got two winged jetpack jobbies.
     
    Cap'n Kolene goes after the single escort, a something-170, while Davish maneuvers to get a good management angle on the LAATi gunship.
     
    Hicks my love, you're a pilot.
    — Vanya to Hicks on a voice-only HoloNet call
    I am! That's what people say about me! Have been for a long time!
    Why?
    I haven't done anything to you today....
    — Hicks to Vanya
     
    Apparently there's this landing system control lever right in the center of the cockpit console. Shinies used to bump into it all the dang time, making ridiculous amounts of trouble. The ship would auto-land regardless of current flight plan.
     
    So if I pull a Kenobi, instead of spending this whole rescue being supercargo -- which makes me a poor reflection on the dignity of the Order, given that So'Zen is doing some genius young-people stunts to the enemy escort's shields -- I can be an active contributor. I can go in there and distract the guards while the rescuees swarm the landing lever!
     
     
    That was an energetic fight. I have additions to my bruise collection.
    Reese says the meetup point is on the southeastern end of the Needle Forest. None of the ex-prisoners have any idea why they would be brought there.
     
    I had to derail briefly to tell Spook that the Beskar get dibs on anything "as old as I am". Meaning, Clone Wars or Republic era.
     
    From: vy_pi at oldfolkshome.allandor.gov
    To: goss at beskararan.tapani.mil, hicks at beskararan.tapani.mil
    bcc: rico at beskararan.tapani.mil
    Subj: Got you a souvenir
     

    Vode, look, I found you a life size playset! even better than the toy in a Crackerjack Box or a Happy Meal!

    See attached:

     
    ü sandy_laati.gif
     
    From: vy_pi at oldfolkshome.allandor.gov
    To: rico at beskararan.tapani.mil
    Subj: Re: souvenir
     

    Don't let them come get it. Make them send a tow repulsorbarge. Reese is checking now for mean tricks.

     
    From: hicks at beskaran.tapani.mil
    To: vy_pi at oldfolkshome.allandor.gov
    Subject: RE: Got you a souvenir
     

    Well, I've not seen one of those in a long time. I wonder if it has the "security alarm" leads run from the battery core to the datacore?

     
    Now that this half of the rescue is completed, with Vorbaize Clan backup en route to take custody of the four prisoners and transport the ex-prisoners to safety, our group needs to determine our next step. There are people in need of a swift rescue; unfortunately, those were taken from the Honloo Dust Ocean for transport to some undisclosed facility at the south end of the Needle Forest.
    Captain Kolene reiterates her very sensible point that we need to clear out those Stiydear Estate tunnels where Lord Vorbaize bricked up some dormant B'omarr bodies.
    I am NOT in favor of leaving an enemy behind me. Too easy to get shot that way
    — Captain Aerena Kolene makes a tactically sound judgment
     
    Meanwhile, Reese has an equally arresting point: Why is the expense of multiple raids, with fighter escort, worth corralling subsistence farmers for transport to a distant location? Uncooperative, non-consenting, noncombatants. Who don't have an exclusive skill set. Who are honestly worth more in place, running their farms, producing taxable or salable resources, than they would be as basic mob fodder for a single betting event.
     
    If we don't save them now, we do not expect there will be anybody to be saved later.
    I know what the decision has to be. Ethically. Tactically. But as I told Aerena, I don't want to find out that all of Vorbaize Clan has been bodysnatched, neither! I will have some burden of blame if we take off to go rescue the prospectors from an unknown threat while leaving the staff at Stiydear to get their own brains shoved into jars so creepy B'omarr can occupy their bodies.
    I hate this stuff. I wish somebody else on the team would lay out a clear strategic argument in favor of a plan sequence.
     
    Instead of us all staring at one another.
     
    So'Zen is good at sensing a path through the eddies of the Force. I'll ask him how much time we have got to deal with other stuff before the Stiydear obelisk -- which, in a certain point of view, is an antenna for the Light -- gets fogged by darkness.
     
     
    Soze says he thinks the B'omarr are busy in contemplation of something in the ruins under the sea. (Where there might be Eborreans to interact with.) He feels that they might have left their cutting torches on Baize's side of the blast door.
    Reese says he wants to see what the obelisks point to, to make sure nobody uses it as a weapon, but he agrees that halting a kidnapping is a more immediate priority.
     
    Vanya: ... On the third hand, this feels like yet another distraction away from what we set out to do.
    Aerena: That has been at least four hundred objectives ago - what did we set out to do??
    Vanya: Escort some archaeological artifacts back to the Jedi Temple. And along the way, try to pick up clues why Davish's entire religious order is getting killed or vanished. As I recall, we got shot to hell back on Bonfire Night and nearly died, and lost the stuff we were escorting. Everything since has been catchup.
    Aerena: Well, we did discover why Davish's entire order was - handled
    — Shards of Exploration: A Summary
     
     
    I have got to get myself organized.
     
     
    Breathe in.
    Breathe out.
     
    (release all the jitters into the Force)
     
    Jenkins is right: I'm not alone. I don't have to do everything.
     
    I open my eyes and lay out a plan, inviting anybody at all plus Vance in particular to riposte, amend, or contradict:
     
    • We're going to call up the Sisters of Battle, who have had an hour to stew after I infodumped.
    • We're going to see what their timeline is for a Purge Fiesta.
    • We're going to find out how fast Lord Baize can run on a rolling powder keg.
    • Anybody who wants to supervise the Sisters of Battle doing a Purge, this might take up your schedule for the next few days. But you'll have an energetic time!
    • Whoever's not on Purge Fiesta Decor Duty, we'll go rescue the other prisoners, and make the Tilles raiders feel in their guts the true depth of their bad life choices.
    • And once that's done, maybe we can show up late to the Fiesta with party favors.
    • Finding the next Obelisk can wait until nobody's in immediate danger of getting their brains munched or whatever.
    • — the intern Battle Master cadges together a basic plan for the party to demolish
     
    While Vance does say he sees no obvious flaws, this leads into a side conversation about how the Adepta are not Bene Gesserits. They keep their hair on, they carry guns and flamethrowers. And detcord. And bacta patches.
     
    Lord Erenn finishes sorting out the immediate ex-prisoner recovery work to step in. Bene Gesserits? He heard that much. Does he need to set up surface to air weapons? No; these aren't Bennies. Different Orange Catholic group, more like classic armor-wearing knights from the ancient sagas.
     
    We have another round of each segment updating the ally segment as Vorbaize Pirate Clan gets ready to depart. Then I make the call, connecting to Palatine Jula Brisina and offering a chance at doing two good deeds!
    1. Significant indicators of not-entirely-dormant B'omarr Monks. Yes. I am ready to introduce you to the lord of the first confirmed monastery site we have identified, although I also have reason to expect many satellite offices under the continent surface. The lord in question is a responsible, honorable man
    2. who wishes a genetic check of the possibility that he may be distantly related to "young Lord Byerly Vorrutyer". Why? He merely wishes to know his heritage.
    Which is the first hint Lord Vorbaize gets from us that we think his father might have been a Vorrutyer. He can't process it now because he just got a Perfect Etiquette presentation made to him of this lady in Very Serious Armor. She needs to exchange contact info and a preliminary description of the Unclean That Is To Be Purged. By the time he gets a chance to think about this Byerly Vorrutyer thing, first, the emotional smack will have worn off a little; and second, we'll be offski!
     
     
    I missed some stuff because I was having to do a hard reset of my datapad. I think Vance and Reese did a similar "combination infodump and pot-stir" on Chancellor Kanter and Lord Derma? Good, that gets the official Freedworlds Republic government up to date.
    Anyway, I look up and suddenly Vance is looking to me and asking my estimate of what Grakkus the Hutt might have in the way of capabilities. Because this place we're headed in the Needle Forest, the place the kidnap victims are to be delivered, belongs to Grakkus. Vance wants to know what pertinent info about Grakkus did I gather during all that time I spent on Nar Shaddaa.
    Hoo boy.
    I'll do as requested. Absolutely. Yes. I'm a Jedi, that's what I do.
    Danar and I have been friends for a long time. He can ask things of me that would get a humorous redirect to a more casual acquaintance.
    Good thing Davish has those "restaurant mints", though.
     
     
    I said it. Almost everything.
    I do not get a Betan vote on how anyone takes it. Or what they do with it.
    Not mine to decide.
    Now that we are loading into the attack shuttle, I'm going to take a minute to just release all of that into the Force. Check my inner equilibrium.
     
     
    Our route took us over Etmar's edges. I missed most of it. I guess the Spartan Imperium is getting a tour of the big green light show?
    But now we are on approach to the Needle Forest, which has got that thick misty fog going on like last time. Some small craft race through the stone needles to prove who's the better high-speed survivor.
    So'Zen and I decided to try out a thing as a supplement to the mechanical sensor suites of the two vehicles.

    post-hurricane
    Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

    Datunda,
    29 Telona, 12731 T
    afternoon
     
    I don't feel like this nap was fifteen minutes. And yet, most of the people who were in this room when I put my head down are now elsewhere; and the hurricane has passed; and the obelisk has poked me to let me know it has sunlight; and I have this email I missed from Reese.
     
    To Vanya,
    From Reese.Pieces@Mentat.edu,
    Is now a good time to inspect our friends and enemies (et cetera) for Tau Ceti worm creatures?
     
    Under cover of staring at a mug o' caf, it is time once again for the Ysadora version of the Jedi Mantra:
     
    :breathe in:
    Emotion, yet peace.
    :breathe out:
    Bone worms. Mucked up by three Kaminoans on contract to Matres Preena. Now they use retrovirus technobabble (thanks Dr. Simon Tam! I'm still not learning those words!) to turn their hosts into other creatures.
     
    :breathe in:
    Ignorance, yet knowledge.
    :breathe out:
    Also the puppetmaster whatsits. Different shape in the Force. Take up a similar volume of body, at least at first, but more likely to be near the neural net. A group is sentient but I dunno about an individual.
     
    :breathe in:
    Passion, yet serenity.
    :breathe out:
    It's right and proper to care about this. It's not good for me or anybody else to take it personally. I will not pick up a sense of being a failure if these things happen to be here, outside the biome where they belong.
     
    :breathe in:
    Chaos, yet harmony.
    :breathe out:
     
    Sense the shape of the surrounding Force, feeling in expanding concentric ripples around me for intense pockets of the Dark Side -- like trying to find clogs of mud floating in the bend of a wide, slow-moving river
     
    :breathe in:
    Death, yet the Force
    :breathe out:
     
    It's like a warm hum, with the bonus of a warm cup of caf in hand on a cold morning.
     
    It's like being around the Beskar when they're doing a haka for the fun of it.
     
    It does not seem to be aware of me.
     
    So'Zen Al Saba says this used to be a B'omarr Monastery which means there might be brain-stealing bogeymen in the subbasement and you know, that's not congruous with the aura of this particular obelisk.
     
    A Durosian lady, Jill Voontum, is Lord Erenn's right hand person at Stiydear Estate.
     
     
    Foreshadowing:
    The message carved into the hatch door says,
    You Will Find Only What You Bring.
    Look Too Long And The Shadow Of the Light Looks Back Through You.
    I translated that into the very very vernacular as "Don't start none AND don't overstay your welcome", but in a really happy tone.
     

    So'Zen goes inside the Obelisk chamber:

     

    The catacombs under the old monastery go toward the eons old city now below the dust ocean

    They also show the obelisk at the Rotating Temple, and eons ago a small city there as well.

    Also also: the old Bendu temple at the Needle Forest is the last surviving part of that ancient city.

    The miniature versions of 2 obelisks are made of crystal that starts to glow green. They cast a light ray that stretches across the planetary miniature.

    The convergence point is out in the desert, it forms the shadow outline of a city, and then for a moment the mountains turn to glass. Underneath one of the glass mountains is another city with an obelisk. This is nowhere near Port Tannin/Undercity.

    Something about the shadows beyond the 3rd obelisk calls So'Zen's attention.

    1. a stack of some old flimsies!
    2.  
    3. 2) the shadows beyond the 3rd obelisk form the shape of the Sith Order
     
    No problem, we know a couple of people.
     
     

    Reese the Battlefield Sportscaster
    Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

    Reese on Allcall: (starts Sportscaster routine with the headliner being GENERAL VANCE KERPLOCKEN)

     

    Vanya: ... Oh man, you have no idea how much this works for me.

    — maybe not in the GOOD sense though, since it's a reminder of the Gamesman's arena
     
    I need to liberate one of these speeder bikes, I think. There's one coming at me. I bet Davish knows how to steer it!
     
     
    I need to remember to get that lightsaber back before the sandstorm hits.
     
     
    I need to get vacuumed before some of those glassed-up sand fragments bury themselves in one of my old scars.
     
     
    Vance has an interesting idea about the monocycles being basically coins rolling on an edge. Maybe Davish and I can pop these two under the feet of the walker?
     
     
    Man, I'm so tired. Physically. I need about three liters of consumable water and a half-shift of sleep.
    I still have to finish being Bad Cop at Mr. Vorbaize.
    Remind me: we need to mechanically disable the weapons on this AT-ST, and unplug its engine's power sources including backup battery, when we park it.
    And I need to go grab my missing 'saber before I do any self care.
    Like shaking the grime out of my hair.
     
     
    I think we might need this big net thingy to prevent the storm from doing something unacceptable to the obelisk.
     
     
    Circumstantial evidence suggests that Erenn Baize's paternal progenitor might have been Ges Vorrutyer. Bitty Erenn and his mother were exiled by the Bene Gesserit on grounds of his being "impure".
     
    Is this exile a point of religious excommunication, or a point of fact in law? What would a clerk from the Order of Solicitors say?
     
    If it's an excommunication, we have plenty of other religions in the Tapani Sector now. Tolerated by Our Imperial Lord and Master, blah blah.
    If it's a legal exile, he needs a lawyer.
     
    Yeah, Erenn Baize can't be officially legally Vor here. Not even under a functional policy that "Vor is a state of behavioural ethics, not a religious award."
     
    We can solve the travel-across-borders problem if it's religious. That's easy.
    We get a pastor from the Church, right? and we get, I dunno, a couple of powdered doughnuts. Not the jelly-filled ones though. Maybe I'm short on electrolytes.
    Anyway. Couple of doughnuts, a sincere profession of compassion for one's fellow corporeal beings, smudge his forehead with the powdered sugar, have a snack.
    Next week, meet the Ambassador and ask her if she has an opinion under her Countess hat. Religious problem solved.
    If it's a legal thing, though....
     
    I'd have to talk to a legal expert. Vir Cotto, maybe. Or that other government person from Tapani who's supposedly showing up here in a few days.
     
    He can't be a Vor specifically while taking over all the other warlords in this new government.
    He can act Vorlike all he wants, but he can't be Vorsomething while taking over several armed bodies.
     
    He can be very Vorish and play politics and make mutual alliances, that's fine. But a "Vor" is a member of the ruling castes of a specific government.
    Which is not THIS government.
    And if he's "Vor" and has power around here, he's in violation of Vorloupolos' Law. Even though that's not a law here.
    It's a mess.
     
    Let's go "borrow" a copy of that genetic database from the Bene Gesserit!
    — Davish has a simple solution that will definitely work!
     
    Let me know when you get back from that "borrowing" trip. I'll be interested to hear how it turned out.
    — Reese is not wowed by Davish's idea
     
    Hon?
    Did you just say "let's go steal the official record of the Landsraad from a Bee Gee temple"?
     
    ...
    Okay.
    Are we doing this tomorrow?
     
    Not tomorrow, we have a lot to do first.
    — Davish acknowledges a necessary delay
     
    So'Zen suggests that we could probably get that genetic databank from the Sisters of Battle, instead.
     
    Hey, there's a point!
    I wonder who's the head of the protective detail on the Consort?
    I think they're in a different city on this planet.
    Probably not Nevermore.
     
    Okay, maybe it is Nevermore, the distance is about right.
     
    Vance and Reese can give Lord Baize good ways out of the diplomatic mess of walking into a negotiation for alliance while being a walking Vorloupolos violation.
    Right after I do my Big Wet Blanket Routine about why being Vor outside of Tapani is a diplomatic thermal det.
    I think that leaves So'Zen and Captain Kolene and Spook to gently enlighten the visitors who aren't us.
    And get intel out of 'em.
     

    Love ya, mean it, Force be with you.

    and if you love ME, please keep the noise down

    — Vanya, muffled by table on which her forehead rests, to Aerena Kolene and So'Zen al Saba
     
    While they get some of that in gear, and while we wait on Lord Baize to finish up checking on his people, Davish is right here and I trust all the people immediately around me. I am going to put my head down on this hear table immediately in front of the chair I occupy. I'm pulling my hood over my head and face to block out light and soften sound.
    I really need a fifteen minute nap.
    Davish will wake me up if I am about to miss any "fun".
     

    Nobody knows I'm a detective.
    Datunda, 29 Nelona, 12731

    "You're an archaeologist," Reese says to Dr. Zack Stavin, "you're in the business of finding things."
    I'm sitting three seats away at the breakfast table. Davish is next to me. We have actual detective licenses. And a detective business.
    This is a delight to me. I'm not going to contribute any thoughts on how to do a lost property search, or a family heirloom trace, or any of that. Unless directly asked.
    Instead I'm spending this midmorning repast in writing more cards for the flimsi stacks.
     
     
    Chancellor Kanter has had too much trouble from the warlords around here. She needs someone to talk reason with them. In particular, go deal with Erenn Baize.
    All the warlords are a little different, some of them are whackadoodle. Baize wants to be a Vor.
    If he was on the Freedworlds' side, that would help a lot, first with getting cooperation from some of the other warlords around here.
     
    He didn't just knock out a ship and take the cargo ... Baize stole a whole tanker! The whole thing!
     

    In light of the attacks, I as Chancellor would like to speak to him as one leader to another to hear what he might be willing to say in light of a mutually beneficial agreement that would benefit both our peoples, in light of the arrival of the Ambassador from Tapani.

    And I might want his help to work with the Tapani.

    — What Nalerine Kanter wants us to offer to Erenn wanna-be-Vor Baize
     
     
    Here at the Vorbaize Estate are some ruins, and another obelisk.
     
    And apparently "Dr. Stavin" is the delight of Vorbaize's week.
     
     
    I can't. I really can't. I cannot sit here listening as Vance and Dr. Stavin lure Baize into a "Grand Campaign" to take over all the warlords on Chalcedon, to "help the little lady", to have so much soap opera bluster filling his sails as he tries to steer the negotiations with General Kerplocken toward making a civil war out of the Chancellor's needs.
     
    I'm going to have to play the affronted petty knight.
     
    I'm going to have to make a show of asking Master Pieces whether "Vorbaize" appears on the Landsraad.
     
    I'm going to have to use my full title.
     
    Crom, I hope no recording of this survives.... I'll never hear the end of it!
    It gets even worse if a description of this scene gets back to the Beskar, given the context that Jenkins handed me a few nights ago. Some of the lads think I'm halfway crashed already. If they pick up gossip that I did the "stuffy caste-conscious snot" routine, they may not take that as Bad Cop to the rest of the party's Good Cop, trying to maneuver Baize into ~~ {magic sparkles} Proving Himself Nobly {/end magic sparkles} ~~ in front of his loyal followers.
    I don't care what the Baize Gang (or whatever they call themselves) think of me. They can have a dour opinion forever, that's peachy.
     
    I care what the veterans of the 257th and of Clan Venn think of me. I value their myriad points of view.
     
    Yeah, some of them barely think of me at all.
    Some of them actively dislike me for specific reasons, or on spec.
    Lots of them find me entertaining or pleasant company when I'm in proximity, but only think of me otherwise when they face an obstacle the nature of whose solution confuses them; there's a Chaplain-shaped plug in their mental toolbox that they access when they need a smidgen of advice, and then they go about their own way. I have worked diligently to make this be the case. If I'm not the designated "Chaplain" for this role in their lives, someone else always will be.
    Some of them have affection for me in return for the affection I have always had for all of them.
    All of these veterans are great guys, gals, and others. They average toward intelligent and even-keeled. They are astoundingly healthy for former child soldiers, very little of which has anything to do with me personally.
    If they are seeing in me reasons to be concerned -- to observe with caution -- I believe them.
     
    I cannot agree that the solution is to change the foundation of who I am away from what Almon D'Joy knows to be true of me. I think Jenkins has got his helmet polarization mistuned on that one.
    But if I wind up degrading the trust that they have previously given me, even just by hearing that Vanya got all formal/prissy/petty in the middle of a peace negotiation ...
    ... well, I am not sure that I can ever make it up to them.
    And I really do need to take a hard look at myself. The past two standard months have been a steady callback to that rough period based out of New Dendarii. Do I have more of a problem when I'm isolated than I thought? Do I use my social network as more of an ethical and emotional crutch than I was raised to expect of myself? Is the Evil Fuzzy Eyebrow Technique of manipulating me into consistent inadequacy successful, and to top it off I've been fooling myself?
     
    This stinks.
     
    Which does not make it any less my own responsibility to manage.
     
    Maybe I can get some time to work on it after I disrupt the momentum on this "We'll take over the other warlord clans and then the planet and then the system and then the GALAXY! in the name of Vor Noblesse Oblige!" thing that is so very, very, exceedingly Vorkosigan-esque.

    Aggressive Negotiations Fremen Style
    Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731

    I really appreciate So'zen drawing off attention to the south side of the ... what is this? a canyon? a valley? Something. It gives me a straightforward plan for the next few seconds:  
    1. Terminate the large hostility problem immediately near the obelisk. Five seconds, maybe ten at the outside.
    2.  
    3. Get a good sense of the situation for Rico and Goss. Five seconds of most of my attention.
    4.  
    5. Size matters not. (Momentum is sometimes a pain in my math, though.)
      If Cap'n Kolene can give me some cover, I can get this all done in less than half a minute!  
      Or.   Not.   Either I'm trying to dislocate a buried mid-size freighter, or there's a massive chunk of shale just under the sand.   Or another underground tunnel, that could be it I guess.  
      Oho! I can see a hatch!  
      Or maybe this is an old Aildae Bender temple.   Goody.  
      You know, I'm going to let the Roughnecks decide if they're going to copy this report to the Old Folks' Home. This was bananacrackers.   It does NOT say "Skywalker" across my forehead!  
      Granted, it absolutely does say "Chaplain" across my forehead.   Okay, fine.

    the Ghost of Future Vegetable Peeling
    Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731

    Force willing, Goss will be done with his bandit issue when we get there. And I can separate him from the Fremen fairly quick so we can have a sincere talk.
    And then maybe I will have time to go get a baked good or something, because I am tired of eating that stuff in the Kylo's Star pantry.
     
    Something's got to balance the scales here, because I hate doing the "authority of the rank of Commander" thing. And all my guys know that. But they still need me to do it on occasion.
    There's just got to be a meskouta in it for me, is what I'm saying.
     
    Instead of finding a meskouta cart, I find the Mand'alor! I don't have Mr. Cee but I do have the Thingy In A Sack which we have been transporting without touching. I can finish transporting it into the possession of its owner! That's one problem down.
     
    Why did we initially request Lady Ventress's presence here? Was it about the Revolving Temple?
    Maybe.
    That was six weeks ago. I've mostly been on Nar Shaddaa since then. I know the Thingy In A Sack was maybe six or seven days ago. Which means we woke up Mr. Cee that same amount of time ago, because we did those on the same day at the same location.
     
    Lady Ventress is ready for me to introduce Mr. Cuylin to her, if I'm not busy. But I am busy: I need to go do the Chaplain thing. Is it acceptable for me to go find Mr. C and bring him to wherever she cares to relax?
    It's a great plan right up until an explosion goes off at the nearby government building. What the...?
     
    A sliver of the Dark Side slips through that area of New Etmar district. It snuffs out a life.
    Vishan Pel?
    — Vanya to GM
     
    At the same time, a much bigger cluster of the Dark Side builds itself up north. I have an impression like two trapdoor spiders, getting ready to jump from ambush.
     
    I don't have time to explain properly to Reese. I describe Vishan Pel in the most minimal terms. I mention sniper math. I ask him to mess up Vishan Pel (or whoever's) ongoing assassination.
    Of Cap'n Kolene, I ask does she feel like doing sniper work.

    Aerena: What do you need me to do?

    Vanya: I need you to get in your X-Wing and come in hot.

    — is running to her X-Wing going to take too long for me to be asking it of her?
     
    General Alarm:
    Distress Call
    Beskar Aran channel
     
    Jenkins taps in to give me his most urgent concerns.
    Jenkins addressed me by name.
    Wow. Lots of this going around.
    I wish I had time right now.
    Jenkins has Doc watching his back -- albeit, Doc stepped away a few minutes ago to check on something.
    Jenkins can't connect to Goss or Rico. At all. They were last known to be up to the north.
    I tell Jenkins that I want him to literally have his back against one of his brothers, right now.
    And then, as I run with the crowd northward, I gather up the Force around me so that I can feed it into Jenkins.
    Once he is boosted, I dump a little more Force into the connection between Jenkins and Hicks to get that active.
     
    When I arrive at the problem location, it turns out Lady Ventress is to my right.
    It's going to be an interesting day!
    Five Republic troops are on site, a mix of humans and noghri. They show a lot of anxiety in their body language. They know that something mighty hinky is going on.
    Jenkins says he can connect to Goss and Rico but neither get nor give useful signal. He's getting interference.
    There is an obelisk here. I think my vode might be underneath it? I move toward it while starting the breathing pattern for Djem-So.
    I advise the Republic troops to do an orderly retreat to a position where they can follow the commands of Mand'alor Ventress. She is the galaxy-renowned expert in this kind of situation.
     
    I think I'm going to be pulling a "Hey, Aurra Sing!" on this whole canyon....
     
    Discussion in the background of the languages carved into the obelisk and the bridge. Eborrean and maybe "Rakata"? on both, ancient Sith also on the obelisk.
     
    My guys are unconscious in the whatever. While So'Zen is drawing aggro (because ... Reasons), I'm going to run over there. I need to clear off all the unnatural whatsits immediately here. If I push in for melee combat, that means I have multiple opponents simultaneously, right? Maybe I can get through them in just a few seconds.
    I really really need to get the unconscious people out of the space below the sand!

    Welcome Back Kal Holst
    Atunda, 26 Nelona, 12731

    Getting from the hyperspace exit to the planet is half our problem, because there's a multi-sided space battle in progress.
     
    MSgt Jenkins connects to me and starts updating. He has been having a no-fun month. He'd like for me to arrange No Weird At All. I instead promise that I'm here to take custody of All The Weird. We give each other the most important bulletins we can think of, which include that I'm not the only one who has been blocked off from access to proper Holonet-based communications.
     
    Getting across Port Etmar to the battle eastward is a bump in the overall road. There's a Mentat here who (in the Living Force) looks a HECKIN' LOT like Kitkat. The real Kitkat! But he is introducing himself as "Reese Pieces".
     
    General Kerplocken goes off to help Chancellor Cantor figure out how to deal with foreign government stuff. He promises to try not to get murdered.
     

    You know what would be hilarious?

    "Ambassador Derma of the Freedworld Republics presents his official identification to the Alliance of Worlds".

    Senator Skywalker would take a turn making me peel veggies.

    — Vanya to So'Zen and Davish
     
    So'Zen goes off to diplomatically present Queen Sabine to the government of the Freedworlds Republic, taking Kal Holst along. That should cause some fun as Kal and Sabine explain what's really been going on regarding the Eborreans.
     

    Things I did not think we would have to be researching this year, part ... seventeen? I think? Tapani High Vor marriage law in the post-Republic constitutional revision.
    I mean. I knew marital regulatory issues would come up on occasion. Divorce work and so on. But I expected it to be non-Vor or maybe Low Vor. I figured the Orange Catholics had a monopoly on the High Vor.

    — Vanya to Davish
     
    Davish goes off to confirm that his fellow Knight Errant Sir Saphor Kronn, ace pilot, is still 1) in Chalcedon System 2) alive 3) in possession of his own mind, because "Reese" tells us that some kind of twelve assassin club has decided they want all Crimson Knights gotten out of the way. Sir Kronn got mentioned back on Fact card 107.
     
    Aerena and Reese and I go off to the continuing battle to the east of Port Etmar, so that Aerena can enjoy shooting people while "Reese" and I use the pretext of telling her stuff to catch one another up.
     
    We are supposed to all meet up again at Lady Zaye's house after we get these chores done, because that is likely to be a secure location for personal conversations.
     

    Vanya is obviously scanning whatever she wants to say for what should maybe not be said in mixed company

    Vanya to Reese and Aerena: Aerena, are you familiar with Orange Catholic virtues and sins?

    Aerena: Not even the concept of orange as an element of religion

    Reese: The OC prohibition against thinking machines is of particular interest to me, especially considering the recent uprising. I think someone might get another doctoral thesis out of studying the droid's involvement in the formation of the Freedworlds.

    Vanya to Reese and Aerena: Yeah, I think you and some of our current companions are going to be an exciting issue for anybody with a popcorn bucket.

    Vanya to Aerena: I spend more time these days around non-clergy members of the faith than more dedicated followers. But Mentats are Orange Catholic, and so are Bene Gesserit, and so are the Order of Solicitors. I'm not that kind of monk. But I'm a chaplain so I have to understand enough to be useful to my troops.
    And here's what you need to know right this moment about Orange Catholics: To lie is a sin. To kill a human is a sin. To let pain control you is a sin. And they find "thinking machines" to be horrible, which some interpret as loosely as "any cyborg" because every religion has some jackasses in it. But the thinking machines thing apparently comes from the last time the Awakeen and the Eborreans got into a fight in this part of this galaxy.

    Aerena: Which means they are going to find this VERY interesting

    Vanya to Reese and Aerena: And the fun thing is, as I often have to point out: I am not Orange Catholic. I can lie if my conscience is okay with the results. But I think it's rude for me to lie to a cleric of the Orange Catholic faith when I'm trying to be pleasant company.

    Vanya to Reese: So, let me know if I get too close to something you find uncomfortable here, okay?

    Reese: Oh, I have to be quite comfortable about smoking a turd in purgatory for lying if it prevents a mass extinction event.

    Vanya to Reese: :snerk: Tough but fair!

    Vanya to Aerena: Until about five years ago, I often worked with a Mentat in the employ of some of the Jedi Council's closest allies. I liked and trusted this guy. He did something ...

    : Vanya has to discard several ways to say something because they break a rule :

    Vanya to Aerena: ... He did something frakking looney that I cannot discuss. At all. Even obliquely. And it got him moved into a different job, which means I haven't seen him nor communicated directly with him since nearly five years ago. But if I ran into him today, I would still probably trust him implicitly.

    : Vanya tilts her head toward Reese :

    Vanya to Aerena: This guy reminds me enough of the guy who was my friend, that they could be cousins.

    Reese: Did this Mentat look like me? He might be my exact genotype. We are not complete strangers to cloning techniques when certain situations arise.

    Vanya to Reese: You know, to my perceptions, I think it's downright uncanny. Good thing you're not a stormtrooper.

    Reese: Indeed.

    Reese winks.

    Reese: That was why I mentioned the colored jewelry earlier, hoping you might be able to point me a direction where I might be able to find someone offering such jewelry. Your unique perceptions, that is.

    Vanya to Reese: Well. There's a ghost in the temple. So I imagine there's some jewelry but listen, man, a lot of it looks like trees.

    Vanya to Reese: Looked, I mean. Uh, that was a month and change ago. We'll have to go check it again once we get some time.

    Vanya to Reese: Oh! And there's a well of the Dark Side up in the mountains that will take a decade or so to finish unknotting. And there's a Sith-wannabe looney dude running around the tunnels in the desert.
    Again: was. Last month.

    Aerena: Fun times on Chalcedon

     
    Over here are a number of locals wearing dirt-brown synthskin bodygloves (probably at the training of the Beskar Aran!) laying prone in ambush as invading Bloodsmith Raiders in skiffs and at least one walker tank. This battle has obviously been going on for a while, attack and retreat and ambush and so on.
     
    So having the three of us show up to support the Republic should be great! Right?
     
    Only they planted a doorbuster mortar onto the knee of a walker
     
    and at just the right rhythm to draw in a quartet of Aur'rook
     
    We probably could not have gotten all the Bloodsmiths out of there in time even if they HAD all believed us. Or obeyed Satina of the Qo'shasot.
     
    No, the three idiots in the disabled skiff refused to follow instructions until the four Aur'rook came up to their full five story height above the sand!
     
    And since Reese was trying to save somebody from the sand whirlpool, I had to step forward and talk peace back into the space. Convince the Aur'rook by my attitude and actions that we delight in them (well, that I do) and that no one here is a slaver or in any way a threat to their children.
     
    Once we had defused the situation, the idiots in the skiff surrendered and the Aur'rook left for deeper sands, I asked one of the Fremen "Which Roughneck had the bright idea to bait the Aur'rook into being a surprise weapon?"
     
    Goss, it turns out.
     
    Goss is up north dealing with some bandits.
     
    Goss is gonna get some stomach crunches assigned to him by his chaplain.
     
    Goss is gonna get assigned to figure out how to negotiate a mutual benefit relationship with the Aur'rook where if they come clean up enemy equipment on request, they get FED. Or other resource as suits them.
     
    Goss is going to write out two hundred fifty-seven times, no voice-to-text nonsense,
    I will not treat people like things, no matter their shape or size or language.
     
    And I still have to find Lady Ventress so I can return her property and introduce Mister Cee!

    Ides of Nelona Client Progress Report
    Natunda, Nelona 15th, 12731

    The holovid shows Vanya Ysadora from about mid thigh up. She is in the process of towelling away fire suppression residue from her hair and clothing. Her immediate environment appears to be one of the two small refresher closets in the back of the Bureau of Ships shuttle.

     
    Hi, Bossman.
    This is going to be a blurt, almost certainly out of order. I do not have a lot of privacy in my life right now -- hence, recording this while I clean myself up. I cannot tie the head up for very long. Currently I am one of twelve people, all of whom were standing in the room when the sprinklers fired.
    Wait! Let me check my math:
    Captain Aerena Kolene and her R2, "Spook", are in their X-Wing.
    Here in this vessel are
    {taps fingertips together as she lists parties}
  • four rescued Jawas, two of them in stasis, strapped into medical gurneys;
  • Kal Holst, maybe-ex-Bloodsmith Raider;
  • Queen Sabine Tr'ielle of the Exclamation Points;
  • Aldwin whatever his last name is;
  • Knight Errant Sir Davish Tam who is going to have to buy another weighted scarf because his previous one got blown up in a nuclear-type kaboom;
  • Jedi Knight Consular So'Zen Al Saba who is holding up amazingly for a guy who has gotten much less sleep than I have;
  • Hicks is probably in the pilot seat;
  • myself, goop and all;
  • and Mister ...
  • Okay I am guessing at the spelling here. We are going to tentatively write this one as C u y l i n. Pronounced by him, "koh-LEEN".
     
    Vanya gives the camera an amused look.
     
    You can just imagine how much trouble that caused.
     
    Vanya wrings the towel out over the tiny sink.
     
    Mr. Cuylin might be four thousand years old. He wants to know if his clan survived while he was in cryo-sleep.
     
    He speaks what we call Ancient Mandalorian. You know my vocabulary in modern Mandalorian is mostly limited to people crabbing about the Jedi. So'Zen has been talking to him, translating for me, that sort of thing. All I could do at the start of the encounter was to apologize, which I actually meant "sorry we woke you up, please let me finish what I am doing and then I will explain", and then agree with the furious rant that Mr. Cuylin threw my way. I was still fighting a droideka at the time. Danged thing was using Vaapad. I would hear jetiise and aruetyc and etyc and I just knew ge'hutuun would be coming along, and all I could spare the air for was to keep agreeing in my best humble tone while I worked.
     
    And to make matters even better, data indicates that good old Sith sorcerer Errol Vondromas was the person who ended up putting this blacksmith in cryo-sleep to save his life.
     
    Vanya resumes blotting the white fire suppression foam off her tabard.
     
    So. Note for the archives of Other People's Problems: Y'toub System includes gas giant Kiskua, orbited by several moons including Dotera. Dotera has a problematic atmosphere, requires rebreathers.
    You would hate it.
    Volcanoes spewing red powdery-looking stuff into the air all the time, constant winds blowing around green sand, ancient Sith base dating back to probably one of the early Sith Wars. Separatists happened across it and converted it to one of their hidden research stations. There's some kind of mineral in the harder rock that interferes with sensors, so people will probably have to navigate via the mark one eyeball.
     
    Something ancient and evil is waking up under there because people keep bothering it. You want to get So'Zen's report for more information on that. I did my best to try to get us in and out before we had pissed it off enough for it to wake up and let us know what it is. Soze was in favor of blowing the entire thing up from orbit, I did not want to stick around long enough to plant any charges. Someone else should solve this. Later. In the Order's copious spare time.
     
    As you can see --
    gestures to self with soggy towel
    -- I have been incompetent at holding up the dignity of the Jedi Order. We got into a fight against a bunch of Separatist battle droids wearing shield belts and wielding lightsabers. Danar decided I was not winning my fight fast enough -- which, you know, Fair -- so he stepped in and took the fight away from me. Caused an explosion in the process that set off the fire suppression system.
     
    I can't guess whether it is despite my recent track record or because of it, but Captain Kolene chooses to trust me. I feel pretty good about that. I am busting my shebs to live up to her trust every time she calls on me. Almost got her cryofroze, but she got out of it! Hicks probably has some highlight reel of those shenanigans, just wait and it will make the rounds.
     
    Hicks is being a delightful mir'sheb throughout this mess, I tell you what. He might need a string or two pulled to start his vacation over on a better basis. I am so glad for the signs that he is finally recovering from Twilight.
     
    You remember back in 'Seven-twenty-one, you told me that young Lord Danar was looking to become a Dark Jedi while cheating his way out of any consequences for the use of significant power. I still say he has grown up into a pretty cool guy! But. I have to admit he continues looking for a way to be the hero of all possible stories without any downsides marring his view. And that absolutely includes trying to grab up mystic mob weapons and any other power item or status item he can find. He is downright indignant when a Sith artifact -- so unstable that the Sith put it in a droid's claws instead of a Darth's -- turns out to hurt him when he touches it.
    Is this a Vor mindset thing? A nobility across the Galaxy thing? Maybe I am looking at it incorrectly.
    Please, please, please do not tell Lady S that I asked you if all nobles think they are imbued with the divine right to appropriate any nifty cultural thingamajob they see. I do not want to be on the Padme-and-Luke special project list.
    Danar still cares about people in the immediate. I think he cares about people in the abstract. His actions say we're mostly incompetent which, again, Vor mindset there. But he steps in to make the situation work whether we yell for help or not. He wants this to work out right.
     
    So'Zen took on a Sith battle droid all by himself. He was amazing.
    You know he is only 4 years older than the twins were when you introduced me to them? When I was his age, I had just qualified for my private investigator license. I was trying to figure out if I should open my first independent office on a planet where work would be tougher or on a space station where I can't go rock climbing. That was my big life challenge at twenty-two.
    Meanwhile, here is So'Zen, sweet talking people into doing the right thing and fixing my screw-ups and fighting an entire Sith battle droid to keep it off the rest of us and calming Mr. Cuylin down enough to take a "wait and see" attitude instead of smacking all of us.
    He is also antagonizing Aerena like it's the only way to score points in a tournament match, but heck, he is barely out of his teens. He has to have some flaws!
     
    Current stuff, though.
    Here is something I will be writing up more neatly when I finally do a client report. Maybe by then, I will have filled in a lot of gaps.
     
    A year ago, problem Mentat Almon D'Joy swiped a Sith holocron from the library on Dotera. We think it compiled notes from Errol Vondromas and Darth Tyranis. It turned green when D'Joy picked it up.
    Meanwhile we have (in a sack) a Jedi style holocron, except it is black with silver white edges, and it is speaking the Mandalorian Creed. Nobody wants to touch it and start another war.
    D'Joy was in the company of several other individuals, including an Eborrean.
    He told his allies some things that don't make sense.
    He arranged the destruction of the Crimson Knights because they are far more dangerous than the Order of Solicitors. He wants Lord Danar Vorpadaran dead because Danar annoys him. He says So'Zen has too much potential as a future Sentinel. He told his allies that I am the greatest Battle Master of all time.
    I will absolutely buy for 2 credits that Joy wants all of us dead. But I do not buy that we scare him. Or that he wants his brother's sponsor dead for being an annoyance. Or that a man of his experience could really believe the Solicitors are fakes.
     
    Does not make sense to me.
     
    Vanya drapes the towel into the sink. She wipes her hands off against one another.
    She shoves her limp hair out of her way as she leans a shoulder on the wall.
     
    Boss, I am really tired. I have been treading water for a long time. I make things worse more often than I make them better, at this point. I am screwing up so much. I cannot slow down. I cannot just refuse to act until I fully understand what I am setting into motion. I know that I am here because I am expendable, and you guys are nice to say that it's more, but things might be going better if all the people I am with weren't spending so much time fixing what I do.
    I can hear you advising me to trust in the Force.
    How do I know whether I am living up to the trust which the Force has placed in me?
     
    I think our next immediate task is going to be to find out what happened with the Kylo's Star. It looks like it was in a pretty bad fight.
     
    Once we check that off, we are tentatively scheduling ourselves to go rescue Lord Ivan Vorpatril, Jem Vandos, Genog Druqod, and Talow Kit'Sedda.
     
    Respectfully submitted, finally the fifteenth of Nelona, Twelve Seven Thirty-one.
     
    Vanya reaches forward to click the holorecorder off.

    Jawas in Spaaaaaace
    Datunda, Nelona 14th, 12731

    Datunda
    14 Nelona
    12731
     
    I've had an hour and a half of sleep in the last nineteen hours or so. I did my morning meditation and I recently did another hour and a half. I've had a mug of soup and some really bad caf.
    I'm ready to go!
     
    Which is good, because somebody did not pass the word around that some Jawas got hold of a vacuum-tight shipping box and welded some hyperspace engines onto the back of it.
    They want us to go to the Separatist station on the nearby moon of Dotera to rescue their missing members and recover the memory core. It's going to hurt AND sting, so maybe I should do another round of food from the BoSS Autochef in this shuttle.
     
     
    Something shut off the landing beacon. Didn't destroy it. But shut it off. So they think landing now is bad, but maybe in the future it will be okay.
    Nothing comes up out of the ground like a "Hellwalrus" worm thing, so this landing strip is going to be as close to "safe" as we're going to get for a bit. Let's go see what is inside the base.
     
     
    I've got that deja vu thing going on.
    This is the place I saw ... what ... four hours ago?
     
    We do need to find the Jawas and rescue them.
     
    We do.
     
    That's highest priority.
     
    But I think I'm going to wind up going to the spot where I saw Fuzzy Eyebrows putting his culturally appropriating mitts on a Church of the Force artifact. Yes, a Sith one. Still!
     
     
    Got all four of the Jawas to our exit point. Danar wants Hicks to check on whether those cloning tanks in the medbay were Kaminoan or not. Aerena brought them down to take a quick peek. They're taking more than 5 minutes. I wonder if they found bacta or--
     
    Vanya, help!
    — Aerena Kolene, over comms

         

    More and More and More Every Day
    Datunda, Nelona 14th, 12731

    Datunda
    14 Nelona
    12731
     

    Davish:

    Hon, look what I found.
     
    Davish bumps the sensor with his elbow, closing the utility room door.
     
    Vanya is seated on the floor, using a padded bench as a workspace.
    Many small flimsiplasts covered in scrawled notes are spread across the bench.
    She has a damp towel draped unevenly over her shoulders.
     

    Vanya:

    Is it caf?
     

    Davish:

    Almost as good!
     
    Vanya looks up at the two mugs in his hands.
     

    Vanya:

    Well, that sounds exciting.
    Vanya puts down her stylus.
    Is it brown tap water?
     
    Davish smiles faintly.
     

    Davish:

    {sounding as if he is quoting something}
    Shut up about the brown tap water.
    Davish squats to bring the mugs down to a level
    where Vanya can take one without spilling.
    I think someone else has dibs on the caf distiller. No, I found the controls for the autochef.
     

    Vanya:

    You mean we get to eat before we go find our next fight?
     

    Davish:

    Maybe get a nap en route, too!
     
    Davish uses his free hand to help settle himself on the floor next to Vanya.
     

    Vanya:

    Now you're talking.
    Vanya gazes into her mug.
    {hesitantly}
    Hon. Is this tiingilar?
     

    Davish:

    Oh! Sorry. Wrong mug. That's for me.
    They swap mugs.
     

    Vanya:

    That's a relief. I tell Burner that Mandalorian cuisine does not mean you have to fight your food, we have clear documentation about this, and he just tosses in another handful of lill.
     

    Davish:

    Hence the red gourd soup for you.
    Davish tries a bit of his meal.
    I don't think this tiingilar is up to Burner's standards. I can still feel my lungs.
     

    Vanya:

    Thank the Force.
     
    They spend several minutes quietly eating. Finally Vanya starts to pay attention to her array of flimsies again.
     

    Davish:

    What problem number have we passed?
     

    Vanya:

    We're over fifty.
     
    Davish glances toward the spread out notes.
     

    Davish:

    Not counting ninety-eight and ninety-nine?
     

    Vanya:

    Mmm hmm. Greelo is next month's Morty. And Vance's soap opera is only our problem if he pulls the "friends" card.
    Vanya picks up her stylus in her left hand so she can scrawl an update on one of the cards.
    Plus side, nine and a half of these updates are of the tentatively-solved variety. And there's an update changing the shape of the item while not solving it.
     
    Davish uses the back of his spoon-wielding hand to nudge a flimsi into a more convenient alignment.
     

    Davish:

    I thought it was cute when you did your Cranky Jinn impression at Holst.
     

    Vanya:

    {not looking up}
    Yeah, that went surprisingly right. It was the old "your bathtub gin is going to poison your customers and that's bad business" routine from New Dendarii. I haven't used that in years.
     

    Davish:

    Still counts as a problem?
     

    Vanya:

    Yeah. He expects that telling the Galaxy is going to get him killed. He's got to see results first.
     
    Davish nudges around a few more flimsies.
     

    Davish:

    Hunh. You wrote "paramour" in thick lines here. Vorpatril's date is a concern?
     
    Vanya pauses in mid-word. She stares at the far wall until her face is blank.
     

    Vanya:

    Some hapless High Vor damsel has been in distress for we dunno how long. Possibly no one else has clued in. We should be open to signs of where she is, and who.
     
    Davish looks at Vanya. He smiles fondly.
     

    Davish:

    Hon. Are you lying to me?
     

    Vanya:

    Yuppers.
     

    Davish:

    Well, now, that sounds fun!
     

    Vanya:

    Oh definitely.
    Vanya finishes what she is currently writing.
    She eats another few spoonfuls of her soup.
    She starts pushing the flimsies around.
    I can't find any new patterns.
    Vanya huffs. She checks the current time.
    She hastily stacks the flimsies into a single pile,
    which should fit into a belt pouch.
    Thanks for the dinner, hon. I should finish cleaning myself up so I can get onto the shuttle.
     

    Davish:

    Seriously. Nap? Or meditate?
     

    Vanya:

    Hour and a half of each, I think. We are not going to speed much in a BuShips shuttle. I can nap and then meditate, be more or less functional when we arrive.
     
    Davish gets to his feet. He turns a yawn into a stretch.
     

    Davish:

    You know everybody else calls it "BoSS', right?
     

    Vanya:

    Yeah. Old slang from my misspent youth. At least no one says I sound like their great-aunt.
     
    Vanya heads for the interior door that leads into a washroom.
     

    Davish:

    I love you very much.
     
    Vanya stops. She turns to face him.
    For a second, her expression is clouded, a train of thought disrupted and foundering.
     

    Vanya:

    {pretending astonishment, as if reciting from a script}
    You really do?
     
    Davish grins. He's quoting her usual lines instead of his own.
     

    Davish:

    {pretending reluctance}
    More and more and more every day.
     
    Vanya smiles back. It's a little crooked -- she is having a stronger reaction than she expected to a familiar exchange.
     

    Vanya:

    You know what's funny?
     
    Davish takes a step toward Vanya.
     

    Davish:

    What?
     
    Vanya walks back to Davish.
     

    Vanya:

    That's exactly how I feel!
     
    They kiss.
     

    Vanya:

    Ugh! Horseradish.
     

    Davish:

    I'm breathing great, though!
     
    Vanya laughs. She resumes course to go tidy herself up.

    Intermezzo 3.07.8.5
    Datunda, Nelona 14th, 12731

    Ysalamiri
    Datunda, Nelona 14th, 12731

    Datunda
    14 Nelona
    12731
     

    Episode 3.07: Chapter 8: Choices of Heroes, Duel of the Fates

     
    Everyone always stares into atmo as if waiting for someone else to think up a Brilliant Plan. I wish someone would! I think up some pretty dumb plans, which no one ever responds to with, "no way in Crom's Galaxy am I doing that, let's do this Brilliant Plan instead". Maybe Danar tries to get the people we're saving to do the bulk of the work of saving them, but all too often it turns out the reason they need us is because their plan is even dumber. Or if not dumber, more likely specifically to {get us killed / cause inhumane incidents / burn the Galaxy down / all of the preceding simultaneously}.
     
    (Good to be needed, I guess?)
     
    And then we sort of follow my dumb plan. At least, until someone on the team dumps the plan in favor of a newer, shinier, much more alluring dumb plan.
     
    The thing is, when I'm looking at a hellstorm like "everyone in Ole Town Sector is struggling not to die of Evil Gas while trapped by Evil Forcefields, except for a bunch of Storm Commandos who are shooting anybody that tries to shut off the Evil Forcefield Generators", I've got to have a step forward. Got to. Can't stand there and wallow in despair.
     
    That way lies nihilism.
    Nihilism is The Dumbest Possible Plan. Any plan is better.
     
    Okay then.
     
    I have started getting faster about my response time, from "recognize hellstorm" to "start describing Dumb Plan and then ask everyone to suggest Better Plan, but don't let them take too long dithering about it". Key to my plan is usually thinking about what everyone in our team is best at doing, put them in the best situation to do it, leave 'em to their own tactics. Because most of these people are actually smarter than I am, once they get their brains moving.
     
    We're going to have Danar go be a political/diplomatic thorn in everyone's side. Get him to the Kotera. Get him to Jem Vandos and/or Lord Solicitor Mollari. Danar tells me he cannot actually pilot a starship (what?!?) so Genog Druqod the Champion of the Gamesman's Arena will go with him. Genog can get through a lot of the bureacracy if he and Danar work as a team. On the way there, Genog will drop the rest of us off at our action points.
    We're going to drop Cap'n Aerena 'Relentless' Kolene and Spukamas off near the landing strip for Corellian Sector. They're going to find a starfighter to get into, and start shooting anybody who deserves it.
    We're going to drop So'Zen, Davish, and myself off at the edge of Ole Town Sector so we can put a stop to this whole forcefield-gas nonsense. Jedi bring Hope. That's what we're agonna do.
    Kal Holst and Queen Sabine Tr'ielle are also going to pull a Captain America (to wit: jump out the back of a perfectly good starship) and they are going to focus on stealing control of the forcefield generator(s).
     
    Those are not Stormtroopers. I don't know who or what is inside the Storm Commando armor down there, but they are not Troopers. Clone or otherwise.
     
     

    First discard of Dumb Plan in favor of Shinier Dumb Plan: Spook and Aerena stole a BuShips patrol craft. They love it. They want to keep it. They're going to aim straight up out of atmo and send the signal straight to Dr. Tam. So'Zen already passed 'em the necessary data.

     
     
    Still on plan:
    • I do believe there are ysalamiri somewhere around here.
      I misremember them as eating crickets and frogs, because I Am Dumb. They eat tree.
      But it's going to be fine. Find the ysalamiri, calm down the ysalamiri, use the Force cheerfully.
    • Public comms channels are full of people trying to get a signal out, trying to get help, trying to understand what is going on.
      No problem.
      Small problem:
      So'Zen the Consular is too fully occupied
      to be Mister Diplomat.
      I do Chaplain Voice into the channel. We're here. Outside knows. Help is coming. Look around you, find one person to help, do that.
      Hicks speaks up. He needs me there soonest. "Reavers," he says. Right, then: hope is coming his way as soon as I can. This is still The Plan.
     
     

    Second discard of Dumb Plan in favor of Shinier Dumb Plan: Danar drew Fire Suppression to the starship that Genog is still piloting. Danar jumped onto one of those military swoops stolen from the Bloodsmiths, who stole 'em from the Adepta Sororitas. Danar launched himself across open atmo to get to the Kotera, abandoning Genog.

     
     
    Still on plan:
    • So'Zen al Saba headed straight into action with the nearest Storm Commando. Smart moves. Smart approach. Davish has his back.
    • Kal Holst and Queen Tr'ielle are working their way into position from their initial touchdown spot. He's a fair shot.
    • I can't get a big enough cloud of dust and dirt flying up to crimp line of sight. Well, fierfek! I bet I can Ghostie Jinn my way through the forcefield itself though. Two lightsabers; no waiting.
    • "That went better than I wanted it to," I think I heard Davish say. Shortly afterward, people were mentioning "the tornado" like No Big Deal. Okay.
    • Kal reported to team that the generators have a "failsafe". He recommends:
      Run!
      — Kal Holst to everyone
     
     

    Third discard of Dumb Plan in favor of Shinier Dumb Plan: Danar isn't trying to get to the Gamesman and the Lord Solicitor any more. He's going to do a solo run on assassinating Almon D'Joy.

       
     
    Still on plan:
    • "Let's trade places," I hear Queen Tr'ielle say to So'Zen. Sounds like they have that "failsafe" problem resolved.
    • I see Hicks. He's trying to drag an unconscious person out of a nearby intersection. Reavers are coming in a pack. Too fast. Hopping like bunnies. Aw hell no! Pause notes here--
     
     

    Fourth discard of Dumb Plan in favor of Shinier Dumb Plan: In the process of keeping hopped-up Reavers off Hicks as requested, I found out how many simultaneous opponents is too many on a day when I've already gotten thoroughly beaten up.

     
    And in the middle of that, Aerena Kolene -- who dislikes all Jedi, but trusts me -- called on me for some emergency hope.
     
    You bet!
     
    The problem she described was of a lot of troubles -- I think I heard "buzzbots" included -- but the immediate one was that she needed a hot restart of the starfighter she was in. Up outside atmo.
    I don't know how to do that.
    You know who does know how to do that?
    Pilots.
    Hicks and Davish are pilots.
    Not me.
     
    Okay.
     
    That thing I did yesterday (was it really yesterday?), that thing I learned from someone not-a-monk, that feels pretty closely related to Battle Meditation? Aerena trusts me. She said so. She has not, far as I have been told, changed her mind. Okay. This will work. No problem.
     
    And then Hicks and Davish can tell her how to hotwire an emergency start in her ship before she falls too far.
     
    (I just, uh, kind of lost the fight with the Reavers in the process. Hicks had to shove me into the nearest open building.)
     
    Later:
     
    Record up to date now?
    Good.
     
    I think I might lose that leg.
     
    Pesky.
     
    I'm crouched down in a building I don't know, with Hicks and someone who's completely unconscious. I have an extremely bad feeling about how Danar's mission to get help from the Kotera is going. I have a lightsaber blade hole in my leg.
     
    My honeybunch is injured and still controlling that tornado. He's trying to get rid of the poison gas.
     
    I think there are still jumped-up Reavers around here.
     
    I wish to Crom that the Force had decided to send a competent Jedi into this problem. So'Zen is good at what he does. He should not be the heavy fighter on this team. Should be me. I am so darned tired. I need an hour of meditation. I need stitches in my leg. I need a water shower, not a sonic.
    I need one consecutive day of not hosing up.
     
    Scratch all that:
     
    I need a not-dumb plan, is what I need!
     
    C'mon, Ysadora, you're supposed to be the practical type. Shake your fundament here.

    Four against One? Okiedokie.
    Datunda, Nelona 14th, 12731

    Datunda
    14 Nelona
    12731
     

    Episode 3.07: Chapter 7: Chaos, Normal, and a Certain Point of View

     
    Awwww, nuts!
     
    Okay, if we drain off the excess energy into a dead battery, Kal Holst will be exhausted and in need of emergency calories but he should survive. Noooooooooo problem. (Which one of these wires was I supposed to attach to Kal's arm, again?)
     
    After that, we still have a big ol' stack of things to accomplish.
    1. Arrange that Kal Holst can no longer have the virus download into his BIOS or whatever. (Check!)
    2. Arrange to get control of a means of signal transmission that the Hutts won't (or can't) block. (Maybe?)
    3. Arrange to get the survivors out of this warehouse before more bad guys show up.
    4. Back up So'Zen Al Saba
    5. Stop the shipments of Bad Plan to Chalcedon system
    6. Solve the blackmail ongoing on Jem Vandos the Gamesman
    7. Provide an opportunity for all the Hutts in the Meldari Council to figure out for themselves that Almon D'Joy is not their buddy.
    8. How many clones of Piotr Sparavaral are there?? And what is going on? And let's put a stop to it!
    9. Figure out whether anything here is immediately useful in regard to the whole Missing Crimson Knights case.
    10. Generally ruin D'Joy's day.
    11. Why in the name of shiny nose rings is someone working so hard to get rid of old Jedi artifacts??
    12. Which military's swoop bikes are these?
    13. Generally straighten out the Bloodsmith Raiders' hash
    14. Get Galaxy Sector Ranger Andan Jouric and witness Pek Rondoon off to safety
    15. Get Hicks back to his vacation
    16. Figure out ... SOMEthing ... with Queen Sabine Tr'ielle and her whole ... situation
    17. Oh, right, right. Someone was trying to fight Aerena Kolene. We should talk to them about that.
     
    But first: Some folks over at that other warehouse are terrified. Let's go be big damn heroes!
     
    Vanya, on the roof of the warehouse, into team comms: Update
    Vanya: We're here to rescue the Tor Ceti natives.
    Danar: ... WHAT?!
    Davish: :snickers:
    Danar: Did I use a little too much of the good whiskey on you??
    — turns out we're gonna save a cryostored hellwalrus or two maybe; "Revenge of the Slave Lords: Chaos, Normal, and a Certain Point of View Report", Saturday, December 21st, 2019

     
    I was doing pretty well until I got gutshot at point blank range . . . .
    . . . . Oh, hey, these are some good quality stimpacks! Thanks, So'Zen!
     
    But now the leader of this group of Bloodsmith Raiders has had an eye color change and is being "possessed" by D'Joy, who is trying to pontificate and monologue and I keep trying to talk over him because NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU
     
    aaaaaaand
     
    whaddaya mean, he's at or near Grakor the Hutt's estate in Ole Town Sector?
     
    I'm so tired.

    Pumpkin Dinner
    Datunda, Nelona 14th, 12731

    Datunda
    14 Nelona
    12731
     

    Episode 3.07: Chapter 6: Introduction

     
    Genog Druqod says the Gamesman is being blackmailed by D'Joy to transport four waves of Tor Ceti Creepies to Chalcedon the eponymous planet in Chalcedon system. We're negotiating with the Bonejackers Swoop Gang to be troops for us to assault the Bloodsmith Raiders base and make the BSRs rethink their poor life choices. Especially the "smuggling Hellweasels" part.
     
    All caught up?
    Good.
    Start editing new section of case report from raw notes here, then.
     
    Once that is all set, So'Zen lets the Force determine which way we should walk in order to go deal with the BSRs. We arrive at a pair of warehouses, both dark, both modified to withstand raids and probably fight back. So'Zen and a couple of the creepy all-white-clothes knife types sneak off to go jump the light freighter that's attacking Talow Kit'Sedda's area behind us.
     
    Skywalker School of Slavery-Stomping is in effect. I go to the back of Warehouse 2 and cut a hole in the wall and enter. The BSRs don't like that. Imagine!
    Very soon, Aerena is close by with her shield active and her blaster firing. Davish comes in from the side and starts doing bank shots. Aldwin is ... around here somewhere? And Genog is using a chain as ranged melee AND as brass knuckles. Hoo boy. Think about that later.
     
    Ranik Nuwest, leader/spokesman of the Bonejackers, is ... uh ... ? They like sneaking. And also they like riding in on their swoops. They are not in the building quite yet. I'll worry about that when it's part of the combat.
     
    And
     
    ohdammitall tower, the BSR nitwit with the plasma bolt gun must have jacked up the intensity on that round, I need to catch that and still defend myself
     
    hooooooooooo boy
     
     
    Okay ... while Davish runs the cleaning cycle on the cloning machine thingamabob, I'll go try to talk basic sense into the one BSR who surrendered after losing his lunch during combat.
     
    Guess I should learn to turn the volume down on comms while having these spiritual counselling sessions with disgruntled opponents, huh? At least I have it tied into my datapad so I can make sense of notes later on. I was nudging this BSR in the direction of "your problem is a secret-keeping dangerous enemy that comes out of nowhere and kills everybody, which makes a solution of 'keep them a secret' SUPER STUPID, why not broadcast their history and citations of evidence all over pay-per-view??" when Talow manipulated Aldwin into getting Cap'n Kolene to bring the talking crystal out of her pocket and start a dialogue. Which is coming across on comms. Which is making me really really want to whip out my 'pad and start filing notes at best speed! I hope Davish is doing so instead. In his copious spare time.
     
    Princess Shiny Crystal Person explains to Talow, Aldwin, and the rest of us that over (ten? a hundred?) thousand years ago there was a war. The people on one side of the war liked to experiment on their subjects, and created the Eborreans. The Eborreans later came to this galaxy and fought the Aw'akeen.
    By the way: in current times, Queen Sabine Tr'ielle has observational data that droids are invisible to the Eborreans.
    So are Reavers.
    Hunh.
     
    After the war, the Aw'akeen split into three factions due to fear. One faction, the Olddea, wants to stay hidden as observers. One faction, the Crathax, wants to conquer the galaxy in order to be safe. The third, smallest faction thinks the other two are both being fools -- but the Shalent are mostly outcasts and exiles.
     
    Meanwhile, when my BSR conversation partner here sees Queen Sabine, he freezes up in panic and she audibly scowls at him.
     
    Heh.
     
    So I ask him if he trusts me (to be a Jedi). And then I walk him over.
     
    --

    She has no reason to help you. You stole her past away from her children. You didn't care what that would do to them. You have no reason to expect anything of her.

    Tell her about your problem.

    Vanya Ysadora to a captured Bloodsmith Raiders having possibly the third most dangerous day of his life, Shards of Exploration: Episode 3.07: Chapter 6: Introduction, Saturday, November 9th, 2019
    --
     
    (Somehow this leads to the Bonejackers building her a big enough pile of droid parts that Sabine can recreate her body. )
     
    Now my BSR dude feels like he has a LOT to think about.
    Good. Thinking is good.
    Taking what he knows and broadcasting it in many directions at once, to inform everyone around who MIGHT be a complication in the bad guys' plans, is even better.
     
    Meanwhile, Davish and Danar are going to use the Old Vor Network (that the saber rakes have been using for decades) to send the data files on the Weird Shapeshifter Shock Troops which the BSRs created to fight Eborreans. They're going to specifically send it to someone Danar knows on the saber rake circuit. The plan is to send it to a certain doctor of our nonclerical acquaintance to start distilling out the Actually Useful Bits without, you know, a round of "Purge the Unclean!" setting the entire Galaxy afire.

    Faultline
    Datunda, Nelona 14th, 12731

    Datunda
    14 Nelona
    12731
     
    I have informed everyone that I need to inform about what's going on. I really appreciate that the crew has gathered resources and information for us -- isn't it lovely to work with folks who know how to deal?
     
    We got the Gamesman's staff to contribute a sort of a repulsor-type parachute thingy for the turbolift car for when the city power abruptly ends. This at least got us down safely. I dunno if it will help us get back up, we'll find out.
     
    So! This is the Underground area. It has a lot of fog. Eyeless salamanders. Mushroom trees with dnagling tendrils of moss or something. Big functioning factory completely run by droids. There's an old depot with people carrying weapons. Warehouses, not in the best shape, one of them looks like it was converted into a smuggler's hangout. The other two are still in use for storage, and have people in/around them. Part of an incredibly old settlement, complete with dilapidated museum and a hospital and a sputtering makeshift power grid fence keeping the Reavers in there. And in a section of the forest drifting away from where I want to go, there's another part of an old settlement -- but this has got a pond or some sort of water feature, and a refurbished beehive-looking thing with a reptilian person in front of a campfire grilling something.
     
    Danar/Aldwin talked to the Info Desk or equivalent for the droids in the Valveworks factory. They're not just in business, but in fact, they've had recent deliveries and pickups and they have a scheduled pickup in 12 hours. I found this noteworthy even before D asked me what my "detective mind" thought about this. The frak?
    So'Zen went to talk to Unknown Species Feathered Reptilian Person, with us backing him up from a distance. Hermit Person said we should come all the way into the area so we don't get dragged under the moss by the thing under there. His name is Talow Kit'Sedda] and he's a Force Bender hiding away from Palpatine / D'Joy / whomever.
     
    The Force tells him stories.
     
    He told So'Zen about twenty minutes worth of stories, and then told "Aldwin" a good fifty to hour-thirty minutes of stories.
     
    (Boss, I also think Brother Kit'Sedda there cooks with spice,
    and I do not mean the horseradish sort of spice.
    I'm not eating the stew he served up.
    I am in enough trouble without tripping balls, you know?)
     
    Here's my plan: We're going to work with the smuggler hangout to set up some neural stun bombs to make the Reavers resemble the carrion they actually are. We're going to get the critters under the moss to come eat the Reavers. Meanwhile Davish and Danar, our Superspies, go steal Genog Druqod the Zabrak back from whoever's holding him prisoner. We'll then get out of the way so the Gilded Thorn smugglers helping us can find out what is worth defending with an electric fence and Reavers.
    It's a great plan!
    And the nearby smugglers, who quite sensibly flirt with Aerena, are on board with this plan. They come up with some kabooms of an ad-hoc makeshift nature. (Turns out that their mechanic, Kallie Upton, is one of Blue's fans? Okeydoke!)
     
    This plan goes GREAT until
     
    I hear hellwalrus
     
    hellwalruses
     
    at least two
     

    Oh

     
    good
    --
    Everyone get off the ground. Right now. Move.
    — me, calmly, to everyone around me
    --
    Emotion, yet peace: I walk carefully around the feeding Next-Door Neighbor critters eating the Reavers.
    Ignorance, yet knowledge: The old hospital has been turned into a greenhouse. The hellwalruses are thumping the wall to break out.
    Passion, yet serenity: We have to prevent the Hellwalrus parasites from infesting the carrion-eaters currently eating the Reavers.
    Chaos, yet harmony: I turn on my left-hand lightsaber.
    Death, yet the Force:
     
    Here we go.
     
     
    I'm
    uhh
    ?
     

    Fell through the ceiling of the building.

     

    While fighting a hellwalrus.

     

    Not fighting it very well, mind.

     
    Think it's in the rubble here with me.
    Also its arm. Which I cut off.
     

    Watch out for the goo.

     
    Anyway, I can hear it screeching. Gotta get up. Gotta do something while I'm at a good elevation to the business end of the hellwalrus. Don't need that tail getting into action.
     
     
    Got it beheaded. Okay! There are littler ones. Run that way. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat are they doing on Danar-and-Davish's swoop??! That's a No. Run past one of the pursuers, hit the next and put it down.
     
    Long combat. My combat sense is getting fuzzy. Good thing it's over. I want to see if I can get those swoop gang fellas to set fire to the eggs and so forth.

    Give that Mentat a cookie!
    Satunda, Nelona 13th, 12731

    Satunda
    13 Nelona
    12731
     

    Good job, Almon D'Joy, if you would give me your current delivery address then I would send you one of those highly sugared giant cookies. You're the first Dork Sider (no spelling error) to figure out how to actually have a reasonable chance of crashing me.

     

    I have my 2nd caf and I have had a polite conversation with Lord Solicitor Mollari who is the official judge for my matches. He confirmed that today's match is postponed while a "tiger match" is set up. I don't remember that being in the agreement. Is the profit margin on my stuff no longer worth the perpetual "next match"?

     

    Rumor mill has it that somebody may have blown up Media Intern Cub Reporter Gilberto whatever-whatever I lost track. I dunno why a Loony Mentat would care, except specifically that Gilberto is apparently the Gamesman's type. Was? I dunno.

     

    Since I have a day (at least) to deal with other matters, I need to look into some minor matters. They are not going to be crash opportunities, but if you WANT to waste your time, okay then!

     

    See you around.

     

    V

     

     
    Danar had extremely strong intel that the current Arena Champion was in the Coldwater Detention Facility hoosegow for having participated in the attack on Lord Grakor's private estate yesterday. After some data searches, we headed down there to interview ... and this is some guy named Madalitso Alvarez who is definitely 1) not a gladiator 2) not the champion of the arena 3) not going to help us any. But he signs an autograph for Aldwin anyhow.
     
    As we're leaving to head back to Lord Grakor's estate, sirens go off and Aerena shouts for someone to "stop him!" and points at a departing aircar.
    I don't have ranged weapons right now. Why's she yelling to So'Zen Al Saba and me?
    Okay, sure.
    "Size matters not," I say out loud in the usual advisory to the team, and call upon the Force to halt the momentum of that vehicle. It has Madalitso

    **AND PIOTR SPARAVAL**

    right in there. Driving.
     
    Uhh huh.
     
    My colleague So'Zen, always quick with an opportunity for diplomacy, bounces his way up there onto the hood of the aircar to negotiate a reasonable outcome of the situation.
     
    Which, due to a lack of diplomacy among surrounding people, abruptly means a three-way-maybe-more fight is now in progress. Piotr Sparaval shows up again! As in, twice! Shoots himself! And then an older Cragmoloid bounty hunter named Akoom (I think?) jumps in to collect the live bounty on Gilberto.

    I give you my word as a knight in Tapani Sector that he is NOT a reporter.
    — me, about Danar, to Bounty Hunter Akoom

    Somebody tried to grenade the aircar, which is VERY unhelpful, so now I am slowly and carefully setting down a quintet of large CHUNKS of aircar onto the pavement.
    Danar persuades Akoom to work with us for the time being.
     
    Madalitso tells So'Zen that Madalitso is contracted to steal the Mandalorian (by which I think he means Hicks of course) and the boy Pek Rondoon from the Blue Spider. And then he leaves.
     
    Green gas billows out of Coldwater. Cops in environmental gear help carry their less-protected comrades out of the building.
     
    There's a Wookiee out of nowhere attacking Cap'n Kolene. So'Zen is attacking the Wookiee back to support Aerena. There's a sniper-Sparaval on the roof, now fighting an IG88 on what Akoom tells us is the "Overwatch" team. There's a bonus person hidden in the 3rd floor under the roof sniper, possibly firing saber darts. Part of Overwatch? Or another Sparaval? I dunno, but I know they intend us ill. Akoom tossed his first aid kit toward Danar a little too hard, knocking him out, and is now correcting that miscalculation. Aerena fights some Twi'lek woman who may be the angry Medusa they told me about earlier, it's blaster fire at range zero and a lot of petulance on the stranger's side.
    But that means all my allies are busy.
    And I still don't have a blaster.
    Okay, fine. I have cobblestones, and I can throw 'em at the window. Startle the hidden person into moving away for a moment. Make sure they know that I know where they are.
     
    (Hey, Akoom knows Ben Kenobi!) Akoom has Danar back up on his feet, has gotten stabilization treatment going on shot-Sparaval. I ask him to do something toward getting "whoever is on the 3rd floor" into answering our questions.
    Cannonballs of ionization energy come boiling out of that godawful thing Akoom fires, outlining whoever that is in blue light.
     
    Wowsers.
     
    Okay.
     
    Danar heads up there to find out what's what. Danar has taken a level of stims meant for Akoom, who's three meters tall and easily 225 or more in kilograms. I'm astonished that Danar did not drop dead immediately. We need to talk to Akoom about how people who mass a quarter what he does, do not need that kind of health risk!
     
    Four police officers in armor and rebreathers come running toward us. I point toward the roof of the nearest building, where the IG-88 continues to fight sniper-Sparaval. Three of the officers run that way. The fourth waits near me, analyzing the scene.
    So'Zen continues to patiently wear that Wookiee down. He tries yet again to talk the guy into a cessation of hostilities, but whatever that response was, it was rude. The next exchange ends in a loud pop and a bellow as the stubborn jerk's arm pops out of the socket.
    Aha! A chance to get the jerk to LISTEN to what So'Zen is telling him!
    While So'Zen still has him pinned, I advise him to "hold still" and then I put my hand in place to control his pain. I keep it managed while So'Zen puts the shoulder back in socket. We back off, and wait to see if Jerk is going to go right back to smackety.
    No, apparently we are done for today's round. Good. When he comes back for another round, So'Zen can maybe fix his other shoulder for him or something, but right now we have so much to do.
     
    Such as: both of us turn to stare at the woman trying to fight Aerena.

    Vanya: Hey, Medusa!
    {Relentless and Inip'velo both glance back}: Yeah?
    Vanya {gesturing toward the senior Ole Town Sector SWAT officer standing here}: The fuzz?!
    — Inip'velo decides to quit fighting for now, instead maybe run off so as to avoid arrest

     
    The cops take custody of the Sparavals. They will get them medical care while being in all sorts of custody. Madalitso has another court date coming his way for the gas attack left behind at Coldwater. We take Akoon and Danar back to Grakor's estate with us so Dr. Stom can get all the chemicals out of Danar, at which point we can ask him about what may be on a camera in his possession, and then clear that bounty problem up.
     
    I have accumulated a short stack of index cards with notes on who might have wanted to blow the probably-late Gilberto's hotel room up. Since he now has a copy of the recorded images from Gilberto's camera, Akoom is going to look into who might've used those particular explosives. We think, though, that it might have to do with one of the two kidnappings recorded by this camera -- one is of a broker who is the lynchpin in the organization of Carli the smuggling Hutt, probably being kidnapped by agents of Tigu the Hutt from Zortu Kajidic.
     
    The other kidnapping recorded is of Genog the Zabrak, official Champion at the Gamesman's Arena on the Kotera. One of the kidnappers was ...

    Piotr Sparaval

    and where the broker kidnapping traveled up from camera view level, the captured Champion got transported sharply downward.
     
    Welp.
     
    We are going to
     
    (My bad.)
    Yes, I am going after him.
     
    Of course I am going after him.
    1. Genog needs rescuing.
    2. Hello: I'm a Jedi.
    3. Piotr Sparaval. Which means Almon D'Joy.
    4. and in conclusion:
    5. Jedi.
     
    Akoon is blaming this on Ben Kenobi's lineage. He wants to know if So'Zen is also one of Ben's "kids". Heh.
    Guess I need to go wake up my partner, and Hicks, and collect Pek, and see if Andan is awake enough inside that bacta tank to hear the sitrep all at once.
     
    Lord Grakor wants to walk me toward the quarters and have a private conversation with me. Okay. This is probably about the whole arena thing. Now is a good time, since after I have updated internally, I plan to go to the Kotera and explain what I know to the resident gladiators. They ought to be informed about the champion being kidnapped off a Corellia Sector street by Sparaval. And that I'm going after him. And that it'll probably be at the Faultline level or even below it.
    (My luck? It'll be below it. Guess I'll be bringing Light to folks who have spent a few generations in darkness.)

    Thirty-six days completed
    Katunda, Nelona 12th, 12731

    Vanya:

     
    Today is, I'm pretty sure, twelfth of Nelona -- so that makes it Katunda. Still Twelve-seven-thirty-one on the Tapani calendar. We're in Hutt Space, not the Tapani Sector, but you know what? I don't care.
     

    Vanya leans forward to rest her elbows on her knees, her forehead on her hands.

     
    Maybe I should put this off for another ten minutes. I dunno. If you're my unauthorized eavesdropper, you might want to hit the fast forward until I get organized and interesting.
     

    Vanya looks up to face toward the datapad's screen.
    Her posture otherwise does not change.
    She appears slightly worn.

     
    Oh. While I'm in here, I should undo the rest of the braids. Maybe run a comb through my hair a few times. I got distracted.
    So. As you can deduce, I normally have done my debrief entry more quickly after the end of a match. But, you know, that thing in the Arena -- that was a hairball, wasn't it? I was actually hanging with my scheduled opponents, getting on pleasant terms, when I found out that one of my parishioners was in the cacky.
    We get back here, start washing up and patching up, there's all this bureacracy that I needed to handle quick in the wake of who all jumped into Team Us. Lord Grakor probably had his people handle loads more. But a few things were either Jedi-specific or chaplain-specific or {waves one hand tiredly to the left} Vanya-specific. Support people who got hit particularly hard by that Force Scream, that's Jedi. Go over medical histories of patients, that's the chaplain. And "Hi, welcome to the 'What are YOU doing here??' Club", that's me in particular.
     
    Which. If you're the folks working the bounty on one of my associates, maybe get in touch? We can schedule something?
    {forehead against upraised palms again}
    In my copious spare time.
     

    {Long, slow breath. In. Hold. Out. Shoulders do not relax.}

     
    I should not start these things up until I have thought of at least two topics. I know better. Stream of consciousness does not work for me.
     
    My first mentor on how to be a private investig-- strike that. My first official mentor was great, too. But not who I'm thinking of now. I'm talking about my actual first mentor on how to investigate, which was a lady back on Esseles who had retired from the industry. Tess Belden. She's gone now, so if you go investigating in that direction, you're wasting your money. Tess is the one who pointed out that someone is always going to be better at slicing through encryption than I am ever going to afford defenses on my database. So why bother? Put my notes that need to be private in a file which no one can hack, otherwise known as "keep it under your hat".
    Tess did actually wear a hat sometimes. Think she might've had a datastick for a hairpin, too. But she meant the metaphor.
    So then she handed me a stack of blank flimsies, cut down to index card size, and taught me how to record each item I learned in small bits. How to label the cards. How to sort them. How to shuffle 'em together, lay them out in different patterns, see if I can find connections or disconnects that might be worth poking further.
    Once I got pretty good at that, she said I should learn how to do it in my head, too. At least the card-making and sorting part. You can always find some old flimsies to wipe, reuse, wipe again. If you get stumped, get a stack and start writing things down.
    Turns out that I can keep a good-sized stack all sorted into the To Do List. Mine is getting to an alarming size lately. I need to complete some of 'em, sort them over to "Done". Otherwise cards are going to start falling away.
     
    You know what? Let's talk about some of the older cards.
     

    Vanya straightens up, settles her arms with fingers interlaced in her lap, her expression brightens a little. She opens her mouth to speak.

     

    A strange expression crosses her face.

     
    Fierfek.
    Can't talk about that, can't talk about that either . . . . Remind me in a couple days that I wanted to spill all I've got on the parasite thingies. The mynock is out of the proverbial spare parts crate on those, but I have not yet done a full datashare. If you lot want to pile in on any of these, it would be a help. Toss me an email after Datunda's match, I should be ready to get disgustingly medical.
    Today is not my day for that, though.
     

    {starts unwinding the braid frontmost on her right side}

     
    I dunno how strictly arena fans stick to the fanon -- I mean, you know, the fictional narrative of the gladatorial arena shows, the whole "Curator the Torrent versus Blue" thing -- while they try to politely pretend the backstage actual people "Maspi Tarr" and "Vanya Ysadora" are an irrelevant mystery. But I also figure that anyone who's into the fanon is not going to dig up journal entries that I try to delete every day. So this is probably going straight to bettors and bookies and would-be bounty collectors, right?
    The real people are the ones that matter to me.
    That Nightsister in the match, listen: she was the exception among gladiators, not the rule. Most of the gladiators are competent people living a career. They treat their colleagues as colleagues.
    I admire that.
    And I'm relieved about it.
     

    {switches to working on the next braid around}

     
    When I was a young adult, I did contract work for two notable construction crews. One of 'em was successful, efficient, and profitable. Because they were pleasant to one another. Because they gave each other some space. Because they started with the assumption that no one would be on that job without knowing how to do it, and from there they traded useful techniques on how to deal with particular client requirements or legal restrictions or just, you know, "how'd you get that cable to thread in on the first try?"
    The other crew, every employee was out for themself. And it showed. Nobody stayed in that job long before they got into some kind of shouting match, or burned out, or started checking around for a replacement contract. One riveter got into the habit of marking his checklists with stale eyeliner -- he was an ass, don't do that. Ruins the finish on the flimsy so it can't be reset. Also tends to smear so the scanner won't pick anything up. Lipstick is not much better.
     
    Before my matches, sometimes, the other gladiators include me in whatever chat is going on. It's {waves hands vaguely, then switches to the frontmost braid on the left side} workplace chitchat. How was your week, have you heard about the new protein shake flavor at the commissary, my agent wants me to switch my trademark weapon but I'm not convinced, they're recruiting for a new Boomboom teamup but I heard that it's because Shuge Nirid came down with a severe case of "lawyers", which anybody hearing this is going to know Shuge not only had full-blown lawyeritis but turned out to be a lawyer's favorite Yarkora cousin so that must have been an entertaining patent infringement trial to adjudicate. Heh.
    Anyway.
    My point is, the gladiators at this facility are mostly sensible pros. I like that. My intrusion on the scene probably threw the regular structure for a loop. I'm trying to be extra respectful of that fact, to the point that I did not even think about calling Shuge to ask where I can get my manipulator digits on a current law library. Maybe I should do that this afternoon?
     
    There's an idea. I don't want to drag Shuge into an introduction with Legal Shark Cousin Nirid or anything, but maybe we can find the funds for a couple of hours with a paralegal or a law clerk or -- does Nar Shaddaa even have that kind of profession? Does that standard not apply in Hutt Space?
     
    Fierfek.
     
    Remember when I used to be an autonomously functional component of society?
    Man, I miss those days.
     

    {Vanya takes in a slow breath, lets it out carefully, runs her fingers through the kinks of the unbraided hair. No knots so far. She reaches for the final remaining braid.}

     
    Okay. We all know I'm going to end up asking Lord Grakor's staff about research resources. What's that old saw about favors owed to Hutts? But I'm not going to take stupid risks in order to lower the weight, either. Some dumb, not--
     

    {Davish and Hicks step into the room. Vanya immediately becomes more cheerful in expression and body language.}

     
    Hi, you two. {wiggles one elbow toward the recording datapad} That's on, and unsecured. Any late developments from this afternoon?
     

    Hicks:

     
    Sure, Vanya: summaries only. Injuries treated, no internal bleeding, no debilitating issues. We're going to get another meal before we head out.
     

    Vanya:

     
    Thanks, vod.
     

    Hicks:

     
    You got it.
    {walks toward exit}
     

    Davish Tam:

     
    I'll catch up with you, man.
     

    {focuses fully on Vanya}

     
    You know the rules. You have to talk!
     

    Hicks:

     
    {stops in the open doorway}
    Eh?
     

    Vanya:

     
    {to Hicks, wryly}
    Qualifications to be a chaplain do not mean that one has LESS need of spiritual advice and intervention, vod'ika. In fact it means I must be more blunt in my self-analysis. And.
    {to Davish} Yeah. Hadn't've been for Danar, yeah. My estimate of how close I had gotten to a fall over the course of this past month was way off.
     

    Hicks:

     
    {small voice}
    Oh.
     

    Vanya:

     
    {to Hicks}
    Everything is going to be all right. Get some food, man, you look peaked.
     

    Davish:

     
    {to Hicks}
    Everything is going to be fine. I'll be maybe half an hour.
     

    {Hicks gives them both a Significant Look, then nods and resumes his exit}

     
    {to Vanya}
    Should we shut that thing off?
     

    Vanya:

     
    Uh. It doesn't delete when it tells me that it did. I don't know that it'll shut off when I trigger that, either. Another room, you think?
     

    Davish:

     

    {Davish glances at the datapad}

     
    We aren't going to be saying anything that's a security hazard, but you deserve some privacy. C'mon, let's go sit on a balcony or something.
     

    Vanya:

     
    You betcha.
    {turns to datapad}
    Databank, voice command: Delete entry titled "Thirty-six days completed".
     

    {lower corner of image displays request for confirmation of deletion}

     
    I confirm.
     

    {lower corner of image displays "Deletion Confirmed" while central image disappears}

     

    Vanya's voice:

     
    Thank you, Databank.
     

    {sound of door closing}

    Sequential report: Lights Snuffed Out
    Katunda, Nelona 12th, 12731

    Katunda
    12 Nelona
    12731
     
    It is really nice to have travelers of the Light here. I mean. I still have more stubborn in my bag. Weeks more. Maybe another month and change.
    But it is nice to not be the one dim bulb in Ole Town Sector.
     
    Hicks fulfilled his gladiatorial contract by winning that third combat, and might even have some cash coming to him. That's a pleasant surprise.
     
    I have told Davish about the pantry full of beans. He mostly did not spit out his tea.
     
    Cap'n Kolene wants some time to think up the story she's going to tell us to explain the attempted hit on her earlier.
    That's fine, as Dr. Cantol Stom is applying medical care on about everybody while I get in and out of his way.
     
    Aerena asks the very reasonable question about what is going to happen next.
     
    Well ... I dunno what their plans are, but for me: tomorrow, I'm going to have an arena match. And the day after that. And the day after that. Until I lose twice in a row. Because I need to buy time for someone else. Wait, let me get everyone acquainted!
     
    I start introducing people to each other:
    • Cap'n Aerena Kolene is a freelance fighter escort and courier,
    • unconscious colleague So'Zen Al Saba is sensitive about his horns,
    • Sir Davish Tam is my partner at the detective agency,
    • Hicks is still in the shower.
    • Sector Ranger Andan Jouric (who is still wrapped in bacta strips around his middle, on account of the hole through his gut) is a man to whom I still owe one completed rescue, and he would like it very much if I stopped introducing him as a "Galaxy Ranger".
    • Pek Rondoon the Nautolan witness kid is around here somewhere doing his own thing, which mostly does not involve talking about anything.
     
    Everyone starts throwing pertinent information into the pot, including So'Zen who wakes up for a short time.
    Ranger Jouric explains about Pek witnessing something particularly horrific when the Bloodsmith Raiders attacked a cruiseliner.
    Aerena explains a little (and probably a variant on the truth, which is fine! really!) on the angry bounty hunter Davish had told me about.
    Hicks tells us that he was on the same cruiseliner as Pek, that he's the one put Pek in an escape pod, and that the Bloodsmith Raiders were collecting samples possibly including live ones in stasis from Tor Ceti. The death world with the Hellweasels and the Hellwalrus.
     
    Oh goody?
     
    I ask Hicks a personal question: Does he know that none of his brothers and cousins are on this world. He says yes, he knows that.
    And then he says he knew that Pek was somewhere on Nar Shaddaa when Hicks landed on Nar Shaddaa.
    (What? But! Nautolan. TC. One of these things does not fit the other!)
     
    (But. The worm things from Tor Ceti would alter a current host's body with genetic material from previous hosts.)
     
    After a couple of careful breaths, and an "OH GOOD", I add that to my mental index card stack.
     
    Aerena busts into the flow of conversation. She hits the intercom to ask Grakor if he had the Kylo's Star moved?
    Because it's not where the team parked it.
    ...
     
    He did not. He gets the parking berth number from Aerena. He says he will access the security footage and find out what's happened.
     
    So'Zen is carrying on about his astromech to the point that Dr. Stom gives him a ten minute chemical nap via hypospray.
     
    Who
    or what
    is an "Omatron"?
    I bet I'd get a clearer answer than "marshmallow who wants to heal you" if I asked Davish, but he's taking his turn in the shower.
     
    Hoooooooooookay, so we have two immediate things going on and one of them is more Davish's area than mine: the whole Evil Mentat Mind Games thing, where we need some vulnerable points to puncture. The other one would be a straight investigation (around the BuShips enforcement, and aren't they going to be happy to see us around) on which I will be partially unavailable because. Arena fights. That's half a day of prep, fight, recovery, every day.
     
    Grakor comes into the room. I automatically stand up, which escapes the notice of my firmly informal friends. That's fine. I'm in a weird position with this Hutt and they are not.
    Grakor's intel, summed up: Crimson Nova has stolen the Kylo's Star. Or arranged for its theft.
     
    Oh ... good ....
     
    Davish is going to lead Team Deep Cover. They (Davish and Andan and Hicks) will try to find a couple of critical points in Almon D'Joy's plans which are 1) screw-up-able and 2) not an All Hutt Goals plan.
     
    Cap'n Kolene, So'Zen, and I are going to work on the detective work of where the eff is our ship. At least, until I have to start getting ready for my next match.
     
    We on Team Poke Around go to meet Aerena's X-Wing, which is bringing in Spook and Danar. He has rough news: Vance Kerplocken has been burned and also several "Vance Kerplockens" have been killed.
     
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaand then the power goes out!
     
    Bonus: I am having trouble drawing upon the Light Side.
     
    Pek is in the medical wing with Dr. Stom. Hicks is near the other side of the building, with Davish. Okay, that means Pek is the most vulnerable likely target!
    I send So'Zen, who moves faster, running back toward medical. By the time Aerena, Danar, Spook, and I get there, a vent cover lays on the floor and (we can presume) So'Zen has gone up into the shaft after either Pek or hostiles, or maybe both. Also there is a crumpled high-tech face mask of Dr. Stom laying right here.
     
    .... good.
     
    Danar, who is better at range than I am, goes in to support So'Zen. Spook and Aerena find Actual Dr. Stom in one of the closets, stunned unconscious. I go running through the halls to try to flank whatever So'Zen is pursuing.
    The Light Side of the Force is trying to tell me something about impending doom but there's so much tar everywhere....
    I get to some glue grenades just in time to prevent them from smothering So'Zen and Danar, but they get me. I am stuck in place a lunge's distance below the vent, arms extended, lightsabers in hands. Meanwhile, the Blue Spider a.k.a. Torana Sivron is chasing Aerena and Spook. The Spider claims that she and her sister have already found this job to be profitable -- and talks about how "handsome he is".
    Force bless Danar, he used his expensive Vorpelagia whiskey to dissolve the glue.
     
    I make a mental note: I need to take a seriously objective look at 1) how I am doing, not how I think I should be doing at this point but how I am actually doing; 2) that thing I have about my own competence. And lack thereof.
    Not now, obviously, because So'Zen has gone hunting the Blue Spider and Aerena and Spook have gone hunting either the other Blue Spider or else their planned extraction point, ideally with non-blaster ranged weaponry of some sort, and Danar is going to retrace our path back to the landing point and bring vehicular tools to bear on the problem, and that means I need to get into this ventilation shaft (ugh) and pursue Pek.
    He's smaller, but honestly, I'm in better shape. So I get close enough to hear him, and I start trying to talk him into giving me a chance to prove that I'm on his team.
    We end up in the kitchen, where Cap'n Aerena Kolene and Spook catch up with us. She has a plasma thrower and it's, I think, capsule based? I just. Okay. Awesome. She says she's not Catholic so we've got this going for us now.
     
    Ya know, I have never caught an Adepta Sororitas using the Voice.
    Small favors!
     
    Anyway. I set Pek to shutting off every pipe valve, whether water or fuel or other, while Aerena checks the freezer for lurkers or nasty surprises and I check the loading dock entrance. There's a repulsorlift in the loading bay with its engine running.
    Ah, it does not say "Skywalker" across my forehead. I call upon Aerena.
    Who calls upon Spook.
    Who informs Aerena (who informs me) that no life signs or active explosives are detected.
    What the hey. "Spook? All yours." Let the hostiles deal with that on extraction.
     
    We look around and Pek is gone, running away from the building toward the parking garage.
     
    I just ... I'm not good with children. I admit that. I was okay with my peers in Skirzden, but those were peers, y'know? I turn to Aerena. "By the time you were ten, did you have any terrible life decisions under your belt?" We start trading. By the time I was ten, I had dug out of sealed files that my progenitors did not want me, and that I did not in fact have a name. So of course I did dumb things at that age, and there was no telling me how to be smart.
     
    Danar: By the time I was ten, I had stolen a submarine and gone on a joyride.
    Vanya, delighted: You know, THAT sounds like a story I gotta hear!
    — semi-OOC aside of "in character" conversations that did not really happen because characters are separated; "Revenge of the Slave Lords" chapter 3: "Trust and Consequences"

     
    The Dark Side of the Force is gathering in the motor pool. Why?
     
    We need to compare notes with our closest allies. I turn to Aerena. Does she trust me? Will she give me her hand and opt in? I get The Face ... and a "yes". All right! That's a start.
     
    I have watched Jenkins do this at least fifty times. It's a little bit like Battle Meditation. It uses Projective Telepathy and Receptive Telepathy. I'm already maintaining Battle Meditation to connect allies, so ... yep, there's Davish, and he and Aerena can hear each other. And there's Hicks, good, and Danar (excellent!), and Danar tells me that So'Zen is laying on a floor having suffered a nerve strike so I reach to click him in. Good, we're comparing notes. What's the thing with the Dark Side and the motor pool? Can Danar see it?
    Andan is in the motor pool (alone?) and fighting one of the Spiders. Pek is running that way loaded with a slingshot and cans of Spam.
    Oh, fierfek!
    Run. Run. Run.
     
    The Dark Side takes a breath and I can fling myself into the Light within that gap, get into place with my back to Andan as the Spider turns around to see who hit her concealed helmet with a can of meat, now the game has changed so she has to adapt. All I can think to say is "Bring it!" and I bet that is a lousy idea from me right now. Too aggressive. So I wait.
    She starts the match with a low "punch" that I block the way Ani taught me, swinging down and out to knock it aside with my lightsaber, and it wasn't her fist it was a telescoping staff which was supposed to knock me into Andan.
    Rude.
    Ruder for her, because now she has half a telescoping staff and a reason to back up two steps. Which frames her nicely for Aerena's blaster shot from the side.
     
    "Do you want medical attention?" I ask as she stumbles away. Fight is probably over but I am not dropping my guard just yet.
    Torana Sivron won't actually say that she wants me to stop her from leaving. But she does say she's on a contract with someone who has deep pockets, and that I maybe need to talk to a contracts lawyer about the Corellian Intelligence Agency.
     
    The. The what now?

    Thirty-six days and counting
    Nelona 12th, 12731

    Katunda
    12 Nelona
    12731
     
    I think that is the correct date. I'm out of the habit of converting from AFE or RR to T and back again, and this datapad does not have access to the Conversions Tool at the Great Library.
    I am pretty sure that this thing is lying to me when it confirms that it deleted an entry. So, okay then: Hi! Whoever is picking these up, hope it is proving worth the trouble for you.
    If you are looking for Secret Messages in that journal entry I wrote last week, I think I titled it "Fifty-Seven Meal Plans with Shelf Stable Non Legume Components", the secret message in question is "stop eating so many beans in space". That's it. Really!
    Anyway.
     
     
    I have taken to braiding my hair up while I wait for my next match to start. Makes me boring to holorecord, gives me something for my fingers to do. Also it's a whole thing because I would like to spend less time combing the knots out of my hair than I spent in the arena.
    I am not to the point of telling Lord Grakor that this is no longer sustainable. I am doing okay. I would really like to get on with my pending task list, but I have not yet finalized why I am here in the first place.
    This next fight is going to be some kind of a combo thing. Lord Grakor is participating as "the Razor". We have done enough dojo time to have a few options available which we have not yet displayed on camera.
    This means that Pek Rondoon is not in the viewing box, which is good.
     
    You know, I do this better when I imagine that I'm talking to a specific person. Hang on, let me adjust something.
     
     

    Dear Mildred_Krebs:

     

    I hope you are collecting a comfortable amount of data searches to keep you busy while we are away. I know this is a lot longer than Davish and I anticipated being out of office.

     

    The update to the Artifacts Case continues to be "in another castle". Attach the "Solias Traft" entry from the Suspects Database to this case as a potential venue of investigation. Attach recent HoloNet updates on Chalcedon system to this case as well. Wrap it up in invoice style and mail it off to the Council, would you?

     

    Also, in my cold cases, find "Andan Jouric" and mark that one "tentatively resolved". I will update it once I have reliable access again.

     

    I am in ██████████, specifically ███ ███████, and I don't know how long I am going to be here.

     

    I do know this stay is going to go way past the Womprat Parable and into new levels of Concerned Client Discourse. That is fine. We like it when the client cares about our general well-being.

     

    I have been doing one fight per day for the past month. At least. Ideally only one. I am not going to get away with a day of no fight at all, the way this thing is working, unless somebody else's match wrecks the arena cameras or something. I don't even know how bad the mess would have to be. Let's not have that happen at all, yeah.

     

    I need a standard week someplace that does not ooze tar out of every flat surface.

     

    ...

     

    Uh, okay, that's enough for this morning. I have some meditation to do before I head to the Arena. Bigger match today. I should meditate here, it has fewer interruptions.

     

    Respectfully submitted,
    VNY

     
     
    Databank, voice command: Delete entry titled "Thirty-six days and counting".
    I confirm.
     
    Thank you, Databank.
     
     
    Emotion, yet peace.
    Ignorance, yet knowledge.
    Passion, yet serenity.
    Chaos, yet harmony.
    Death, yet the Force.
     
     
    Preview match is WHO versus a tank?
    Not MY Hicks!
     
     
    Oh good: a Nightsister-ish. And these two Essoomians are wearing armor this time.
     
     
    Oh good: Noghri Death Commando.
     
     
    OH GOOD: What're the dudes with the bonus arms??
     
     
    Oh, good: Davish.
    Oh! and that's So'Zen and Aerena. Even better!
     
    Now we can make some real progress here.

    Mystic Mobs Investigations: Backstage
    Katunda, Telona 17th, 12731

    Right, so, this is a loaner datapad in a style with which I am not familiar. It might be a knockoff? It's probably a knockoff.
    Best I can tell, it does not have a keylogger installed, nor any sort of streaming or eavesdropping software running.
    Some of its parts have been replaced post-factory, that's for sure, so I might have something here waiting for my Banking Clans passcodes.
     
    Which is fine.
    I don't have those anyhow.
     
    I was loaned this thing so I could do some research on any names that get mentioned in advertisements for the next arena match. I borrowed it so that I can organize my thoughts in the method that most often works for me. Nothing I do here is going to be of much use to anyone. But don't take my word for it!
     
    I wonder where the "pause" button is on this thing?
     
    Emotion, yet peace.

     
    I have not been this completely alone in ten years.
     
    I am out of the habit.
     
    I got sent on errands as far back as 'Seven-twenty-two, sometimes. But even then, if I took a minute to check around, there were lights. Some of them were dim bulbs like me, some of them sported a complicated spectrum, most of them were tiny water droplets flowing along their own paths before I could focus on them. And then there were the other Padawans, who were like those geysers in Skirzden that the city turned into decorative fountains: and if that was a Skywalker, I might spot them from the next Province over.
    Also: the people working the assignment with me. We knew each other long enough that I was aware of them like the scent of the creek in the park. Even when I holed up in my assigned bunk on the Mismatch, even when I ran to make a defensive line between a batch of stormtroopers and the oncoming Reavers, I could spot lights around me, connected to me at least tangentially.
    The last time I was anywhere near this alone, it was around the tail end of seven-twenty-four. Even then, I had Ghostie Jinn to point out that I should quit letting Lod get quite that maudlin on me; I had the wacky lads around, a muted cascade more needing me to shine but they still glowed back in my direction sometimes. I had the pirate clusters and the indignant burbling of the Tapani veterans.
     
    This place is all tar sludge, all the time. I don't see any light. I don't hear the flow of the Force trickling along on its business. I am so far away from my favorite waterfall that I cannot even pick up the eddies of breeze it scatters.
     
    Plenty of people here are not soaked in tar. The critters and the plants outside this building are, you know, your basic life. That's all fine. They are not springs of the Light but they are not stagnant cesspools, either.
     
    And I am not wishing that active light sources were here with me! That's not it at all.
     
    I just ...
    ...
    ... I am out of the habit of being truly alone.
     
    Ignorance, yet knowledge.

     
    I don't know what I'm doing here.
     
    Strike that. It's inaccurate.
     
    A certain point of view: I am here because Almon De Joy is a twerp.
     
    A certain other point of view: I am here because fighting Boba Fett in the middle of Undercity -- while trying to yank several massive problems out of their increasing ruts -- was the insightful private eye's direct route to getting curbstomped. By surrendering to Boba, cheerfully and sincerely, I planted some new ideas in his head about how the galaxy works and how he functions within it. I gave him a route in to a social network where he can be a happy river rock instead of an increasingly isolated desert spike, if that is the choice he makes. In the process, I got him to help me with the other massive problems: we thwarted the Dark Side assassin a few times, we got the slaves of Undercity free and on their way to Derma the Hutt, we enabled Vance Kerplocken to rescue the priestess. I called the Exclamation Points up and reported the location of the thieves who stole their ancestors, and or their children, I have not got a clear file on that one. And I advised the Exclamation Points that the nearby organic life forms are in a specific category which is NOT the Exclamation Points' enemies. That alone was a big deal that needed sorting in a way that should keep it from becoming a nastier problem down the road.
     
    A certain other point of view: I am here because somebody has got to buy Andan some time.
     
    A certain possible point of view: Somebody here needs to see the Light enough that a single Jedi is worth the various detriments that will fall out of this situation. And, like the Skywalkers, I'm persistent; like Kenobi, I function okay in your typical hive of scum and villainy; unlike Al Saba, I am on a path suitable to direct confrontation on a repeat basis. And unlike everybody else, I'm relatively expendable, if it comes to that. My absence is not going to leave a hole in anyone else's framework.
    (I have been careful to make sure everything is set up that way, so I would not leave a hole.)
     
    Regardless of the point of view, though, I feel like these are contributing reasons. I do not get the sense that any of this is The Reason, you know?
     
    Passion, yet serenity.

     
    I had been on Nar Shaddaa five minutes before I concluded that I might hate this place.
    (Dark Side need not get excited: I don't mean hate, like "let the hatred flow through you" crap from Jedi Quest. I mean "hate" like "the smell of this tar gets everywhere".)
    Life is cheap here. Compassion is a form of inherent value but this entire star system is woefully low on it. Every act of meaningless kindness is a sort of defiance.
    And I got a bag full of defiance, let me tell you!
    But I have a long list of problems to work on, which list I hope Davish and company picked up once they figured out whatever was going on as Boba's pursuit craft left the Chalcedon System. I have to trust in the Force that events will rearrange themselves so I have time for this:
    1. There are Crimson Knights out there somewhere, digging themselves further into trouble.
    2. There's someone else who is chasing them down with nefarious intentions.
    3. There are Exclamation Points who instructed me to stay away from Chalcedon, which (obviously) I politely registered but did not comply, and I bet at some point they are going to have Firm Statements on that topic.
    4. There is somebody out there who is stealing my religion's cultural artifacts. And killing to do it. Who? Are we really sure it is not that Ferrin guy?
    5. Bodysnatching parasite symbiote hive-mind thingies. Might have to do with Spartan Imperium somehow. Might have to do with a new-to-me variation of "organized crime syndicate" in addition/instead.
    6. People. Converted to amoeboid composites. Whaaaaaaaaaat.
    7. Bloodsmith Twerps put a kill order out on me. And on So'Zen Al Saba and on Vance Kerplocken. We are going to have to set aside the time to explain, at length, how much this is a terrible idea.
    8. The Guy with the Orchids. We agreed to relocate him, his staff, his orchids, his household basically. Except now he's also the contract employer of an entire cavern city full of low-income workers.
    9. Who the eff keeps swirling up Reavers out in these reaches of space?
    10. Where does the "Thousand Stars" and their pyramidal SSD fit into this whole mess?
    11. Tentacle Face Dudes.
    12. Some Hutts, not just Grakkus alone, got upset about Undercity. They decided to up the pot by putting an open bounty on all Jedi. They declared a "shadow war". (Whatever that is.) I have advised the Old Folks' Home about same, and requested that someone not-me, not-So'Zen, and not-Ben get tasked to go to Chalcedon and sort it out.
     
    All that and: I am certainly not going to worry at all about Vance Kerplocken's new father-in-law being Grakkus the Hutt, because that is personal business into which I have not been invited. (Grakor? Grakkus? This must be the local equivalent of people on Pelagon with the name "Ivan" somewhere on their calling card.)
     
    Just saying it all aloud makes me want to grab a sheaf of flimsies, write out all the components, and start shuffling them into different layouts. Patterns. Connections. Got to be some gaps in there that we could poke.
     
    Chaos, yet harmony.

     
    I need a plan.
     
    I'm not a Mentat, I'm not a droid: I do not "plan for all eventualities". I do not think there is any such thing. Oh, sure, they say they can prove it with math! But what good does "proof" do me that I can't understand? None. And anyway, they make it sound like predestination. I don't believe in predestination. That is someone's Brainweasel of Depression convincing them not to defy the depression.
    My plan tends more to be a scaffolding, where I can hang all of my variables. I know roughly what I'm building on. I know approximately what conditions I have to work with. I know approximately where I want to head. Get the plan arranged, start hanging, see how it goes.
    That is my usual theory, anyhow. It has worked since I was eight.
    More often than not.
     
    So. My foundation:
    • I am a Jedi.
    • On Nar Shaddaa.
    • Those that love me, know I am not going to stick the back of my hand on my forehead and swoon until rescued.
    • I have an ally in the form of a local political force, and his base of operations, and his experience in surviving this environment.
    • I will soon have an ally in the form of Lord Solicitor Londo Mollari, he of the glittery bouncy hair, upon whom I can rely for pageantry and a certain amount of time on the clock. As designated "judge" for this series of contests, Lord Solicitor Mollari will see to the proper representation of Our Imperial Master's interests, whether that is to my benefit or my detriment. Also, anybody who lies to Lord Solicitor Mollari on this world will cheese him off, because he is so much more perceptive than he leads strangers to suppose.
    • I foresee a non-zero chance that Lord Solicitor Mollari and this Gamesman person see themselves reflected in each other. Either fall madly in love (outside extreme chance), or at least find common cause for future friendship (much more likely).
    • I know Almon De Joy is messing around.
     
    My operating conditions:
    • I am a Jedi.
    • Most highlight reel that got spread around of me is helmet cam footage, later cut to emphasize the "Snarky Optimist Padawan" personality. That is me, but it's an edited version of me. It gives an impression of haphazardness, of lower attention to detail. My first six or so challengers will have studied an edited presentation of the edited version of me -- and at that, much of this old data will involve fighting alongside people who are not in this fight.
    • Not everyone here has been rolling around in the Dark Side of the Force like a melk in a mire. Let's see who gets interested in me if I go for a jog every morning and a walk every evening.
    • As soon as the Gamesman can set events up, I am going to start having at least one staged fight each day. Let's make the first few as minimally interactive as possible. It also is a good chance to lay groundwork for the idea that someone is playing games here, but I am not going to follow their script.
    • I do not have access to a handy Bene Gesserit.
    • I may be confronted -- probably not on the arena, and not for a couple of weeks -- by Mentat Fu. Oh good.
    • "Area of Effect", environmental hazards, and "to become a Solicitor one usually spent time as a Street Judge, surprise!" are the only assets I have for that now. Not promising. I should look for replacement assets, especially regarding that last one.
     
    My heading:
    • Somebody on this world wants to see some Light?
    • Okay.
    • And while they're looking at the Light, Almon's frilly card stack will misplace some of its foundation cards.
    • I might even remember where on the HoloNet I can dig up "No Guts, No Glory" by Phil Galdston and John Van Tongeren while Andan makes faces at me from his bacta tank. Or maybe he'll be into it. Either way, I want him healthy and in shape for shenanigans before the Bloodsmiths remember to look at him.
    • Anything else I can straighten out as far as "Slavery = Bad" and "Compassion = Healthy" would be excellent.
    • But more importantly: I need to get back on that To Do List. If I can pick up any useful information toward Priorities One through Five, that would help recover some of this lost time.
     
    In the short term, I am scheduled tonight to face my first arena match.
    Some bounty hunter named "Tantor".
    What's an Esoomian?
     
    Death, yet the Force.

     
     
    Databank, voice command: Delete entry titled "Backstage".
     
    I confirm.
     
    Thank you, Databank.

    And me without my datapadd
    Satunda, Telona 13th, 12731

    Year: 12731
    Month: 4
    Day: 13
     
    When I am able to get signal to my datapadd, I have an email from a bounty hunter named Greelo.
     

    To: Vanya Isadora
    From: Greelo
    Subject: Courtesy Call

     

    Hey, I heard the Crimson Nova Clan have put a big bounty on you. Thinking of possibly trying to collect it. I did say I'd give you a heads up if I ever decided to hunt one of you guys so I'm shooting you this email.

     

    Reply as soon as you can to let me know you got my notice and that the hunt can begin.

     
    OH BOY.
     
    How to respond ... how to respond ... hmm.
     

     

    To: Greelo at BananaRepublic dot com
    From: vy_pi at oldfolkshome dot allandor dot gov
    Subject: Re: Courtesy Call

     

    It's up to you, man, if you want to tag in on that one ... but Mr. Fett is in the process of collecting a bounty on me right now.

     

    On Nar Shaddaa.

     

    This might take a bit of time, you know?

     

    I'm not going to be reachable at this address for a while, on account of not having a datapadd. You might check in with, hmm, sozen_al_saba at oldfolkshome dot allandor dot gov

     

    Oh, and Boba'ika says you can collect the bounty SURE, so long as you are good with HIM collecting the bounty that will be issued on YOU for having jumped "his bounty".

     

    TO be fair: he did have dibs.

     

    Then he started saying something about "grown-up weapons" and "shoestring" and I'm not going to repeat that. You guys can settle that over a pint of beer or something.

     

    Best!
    V

     
     
    Then I give Boba Fett my datapadd, my blaster, and my lightsabers (some of which I plan on getting back). I put the manacles back on.
     
    This place is gross. Vondromas needs to NOT be here. I have a quiet but sincere conversation with Boba about giving Vondromas the chance to make his own choices.
     
    Boba Fett turns me over, I get him paid, I hand him my cuffs, and I demand that Fen Whatshisname explain why I would want to meet with Grakkus. Because I am not buying in. He can explain while I am being scanned for weapons -- I am not getting naked for this guy.
     
    Suddenly people from Clan Bareesh show up and start fighting over me. And then there is a HUTT with CYBERLEGS and he's NOT on the Dark Side. Aaand
     
    uh
    I have been looking for Andan Jouric for years! He's a Sector Ranger now, and he is in some serious medical mess. He also has a green kid who is a witness to a theft, and he needs to get the witness back to someplace, and FIRST he needs medical attention.
     
    Grakor the Hutt gets all of us out of here. He wants to know why Grakkus would want me alive and for that matter, why did Boba Fett have a contract on me (maybe for taking away a city full of slaves) but not on the rest of my team (many of whom took away a mine full of potential slaves and also screwed up the Nightsisters who were doing a lot of the enslaving)?
     
    Ranger Jouric here, meanwhile, says that the theft was of some biological samples which were originally House Vormecetti property (yay?) from a planet they own called Tor Ceti (YAY). Are we talking parasites, or larger? We are talking larger. YAY.
     
    I gotta scribble all this down on the ol' mental index cards, because I am going to at some point get hands on a datapadd and start updating some Holopedia entries in a hurry.
     
    What else needs sorting? Let's find out!
     
    Soooooooooooooo Plasma melee weapons are ILLEGAL on this planet, Grakor tells me. He feels that it would be wise for me to not wave them around.
     
    Driver bangs on the divider to get Grakor's attention, which he directs to the breaking news over some kind of sportsball stream: now there is a five million credit bounty out on me. Yay.
     
    I have been on this planet for twenty minutes so far. I might hate it. Pretty sure it hates me!
     
    I reach out in the Force to prepare for more combat. A blaster shot hits the car. We are being fired on from above!
    And someone is sneaking up on us from below in another aircar.
     
    Why is Errol Vondromas here?
    On a speeder bike.
    Using his lightsaber to damage the enemy car.
     
    I might as well point out to him that all the vehicles here will have built in ambulance right of way circuitry, so he can turn them down to 5 mph.
     
    Once we get to Grakor's building, they take Andan and a lot of other people off to get medical attention. I have a brief conversation with Vondromas and then I settle down to try to find out what I am doing here.
     
    No CTs in my range; I try Farseeing why it was that Grakkus wanted me here alive.
    Some other hutt (maybe Grakkus), wearing a purple sash, is talking to Fen Whatshisname the Bothan while looking at holo images of us -- me, then Vance Kerplocken, then Vance and Mayor Canter, several images of "the Relentless herself! the famous ex-Medusa", then images of So'Zen and images of Davish ... Grakkus squints at the images as he tells Fen, "They are a problem. They have hurt my business. I should have them killed! But ... I have a different idea. They are important to this new little government, this 'Freedworlds'. Word has it that even Vance Kerplocken has become more of a leader than a scoundrel or businessman. They say he is general of their armies. Well, well, well. And of course, the ex-Medusa -- I don't believe in such a thing. So where she is there, the Medusas will have their hand in it as well.
     
    "There must be a weak link here."
     
    (points at me) "That one. She was instrumental in doing many things, according to what my sources say from Rogga, in Tapani. I have the feeling that if I pull that string, it will bring the others. And if it brings the others, who defends," he does the Significant Pause of Portentiousness here, "... Chalcedon? So! A bounty. Live. On the mistress Jedi. She is valuable to many. There will be several who will want her back, in one trip. We bring her to Nar Shaddaa, it is a long trip. It will bring the others. And then we can do what we want to do."
     
    Fen says "Yes, Master," and leaves.
     
    The room is quiet.
     
    Grakkus says, "You can come out."
     
    A voice says, "And here I thought you were not one with the mystic energies of the galaxy."
     
    Grakkus says, "We hutts are many things, but not that. We don't want to be."
     
    The shadowy figure says, "I heard your plan. It is a good one! Very good. It will work. It is very sound."
     
    Grakkus: "Good. I am glad you approve. Did I miss anything?"
     
    A scarred Mentat walks out. The hair has been buzzcut short. But I can still make out the features of Almon de Joy. "No. No, Master. That is the one that, I can tell you from experience, that is the one that is the string to pull. After that, the rest of the cards will fall exactly as you want. The mathematics are too perfect or this. The logic is not flawed at all."
     
     
    I take a second to think over the things a smart but twerpy type like Almon would not consider.
     
  • Everyone I love, knows I love them. Or is not allowing themselves to know. That's already handled.
  • Everyone who loves me, knows that there are more important things in the galaxy than whether I'm secure. That's not the issue here. Some of them might come get me out of annoyance, because our To Do List is the size of a graduation-level course at Reena University and we cannot spare this time for some stupid domino game. That is the issue here; I need to get them the message that they should brace for a trap. Be inventive. I can try to tell Davish, I could try to tell the Roughnecks but they are probably further away, but it's always more reliable to send a powerful messenger outside the field of interference first.
  • We need someone to remain in a position to aid and defend the newborn Freedworlds government of Chalcedon System.
  • We need to get Andan Jouric some time to heal.
  • We need to prevent the nibbling death of a thousand little assaults on Grakor's neighborhood. Grakor believes that he can subvert that by means of a series of (yick!) arena combats staged for sportsball streaming. I am going to be peeling so many vegetables.
  • I need to slow down the pageant of events ... which I can probably do by adding more pageantry. Who's even more of a drama generator than my buddy Danar when he plays the part of "Young Vor Lord Danar"? That would be the only Lord Solicitor I ever met who styles his hair with glittery rubber cement!
  • and above all, I need to get Errol out of here so he can make some choices for himself, without the Dark Side ambiance and the surrounding bad habits on display making his choices for him.
  • The way we are going to handle this goes as follows:

     
    1. Vondromas will leave with Boba Fett. Vondromas will tell the party they are heading into a trap. Vondromas will tell Yeager Lexics to stay and defend Chalcedon.
    2. Grakor will arrange for "the Gamesman" to set up arena fights, me and Grakor vs challenger. Once per day, best 2 out of 3. Loser transfers property to winner.
    3. I will contact Lord Solicitor Londo Mollari via "the Gamesman" to come be the judge.
    4. young Pek Rondoon the witness will be in Grakor's arena audience box, with some of Grakor's people as guards.
     
    And once that is in progress, I tell Grakor about Almon de Joy.

    Memorable meals

    Best meal I ever had? That would be tough to pick out, actually.

     

    I can tell you about the worst one, though. I was, let me see ... I was about twenty-five standard years old, working as a dba for an orbital station construction crew. We were subcontracting for some expansion and retrofit work on Corvalis, a peg-in-a-ring looking space station out in the Nezri System. The construction crew were decent sorts, but not inclined to let "the office flunky" into their after hours hijinx, which I guess I can't really blame them for. I mean, I processed their paychecks and filed their materials requests.

     

    Anyway, most of my meals on that job were some kind of pasta in some kind of seasoned broth with some kind of barely-identifiable but brightly colored chunks of vacuum-frozen bits. You work with a lot of bulk purchases on that sort of job site. I was trying to save up money as fast as I could, in order to fund the last stage of my private investigator apprenticeship and qualify for a license; so I ate the cheap rations for as long as I could stand them, and then I would take my once-per-twenty-days trip to the regional office as a chance to eat a nicer meal.

     

    It was usually pub food.

     

    Which means it was only a matter of time before I got something truly not designed for humanoid consumption.

     

    So this one trip, I stopped in the nearest open place while I waited for the regional office to swap out data crystals. I'd eaten there before. I ordered something with "nerf" in the title, figured as long as it was cooked through, I should be okay, right?

     

    I should have gone down a couple levels to Flangth-to-Go. Really.

     

    The dish came to me the first time and it was still half frozen. I sent it back, politely but a little exasperated.

    Next time it was in front of me, everything was black. I poked it a little bit and flames shot out. The bartender hit it with the extinguisher before I could discover any more.

     

    I heard a lot of yelling in the kitchen before I was finally presented with a plate of ... sort of warning-tape-yellow ... oval lumps on top of these orange flat slabs. I guess that might have been sauce on top of a piece of meat? Only its surface tension was so strong that I could not pierce it with a fork.

     

    I wound up eating about half of an orange flat slab thing. I can tell you a few things: it was decidedly not nerf-anything. It probably was vat-grown, and that vat needed serious repairs. And the seasoning was, as far as I could tell, grated peas dyed with food coloring, because it had nearly no taste at all.

    Character Portrait image: by Star Wars Galaxies screenshot

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    Author's Notes

    Vanya's legal name is "VN Ysadora". All the legal documents around her birth, her childhood, being trained as a database administrator in her teenage years so she'd always have some applicable skills for most careers, and her licenses, all say "VN Ysadora" (and the contracts set up before her birth did not specify a gender, either, because the people signing the contracts did not want to know). She was nicknamed "Vanya" by a licensed caretaker in the infant pool at the creche, and it caught on; the nurse had no idea that "Vanya" is typically a masculine name. None of the PCs care about that, of course; but it's a legal loophole that she bears in mind occasionally.


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