INTO THE LONG DARK
Previously: Hoc in Hora
Themesong: Bodies by Drowning Pool
The remaining four years of my oh, so lovely return visit to the darker side of Harry Potter were spent cultivating a celebrity persona as a maligned prisoner / fallgirl of the Umbridge administration, speaking publicly to crowds around the world on subjects ranging from tolerance to forgiveness, and all in all trying to put out the numerous fires the Psycho in Pink had started. That said fires existed often in both the mundane world as well as in the wizarding world… not to mention realms beyond in more than one case, caused no small trouble, as I had to be as honest as possible to the muggles while deftly lying to everyone involved. It was a juggling act that only someone with massively layered Multiple Personalities and a perfect memory could have pulled off… so I did okay, but the stress was anything but restful.
Add to that the psychological trauma of my surviving companions… Tokimi and Yuzuha had fared best, since they’re both a) crazy and b) had had the least time to be poked and prodded… but Cirno had been bound by a particularly twisted Russian witch who had used the fairy as an assassin to take out her rivals before I could rescue the faithful… and deeply offended fairy, who wanted lots of cocoa and to be told she wasn’t a bad person. But head patting doesn’t work for most people’s traumas. Victor had been heavily damaged, Victoria even more so, and both were being dissected in the bowels of the Ministry. Have you ever tried to provide therapy to an AI? I didn’t have the programs, so I sat Victor down with his mother while I communed with Victoria on a spiritual level.
Turns out, she’d almost enjoyed being tortured… not the pain of it… but the testing of limits. Then again, it had only been a week for her. Dyna had had it for 8 months courtesy of the US Government and Toph had somehow ended up in sub-saharan africa being hunted by child soldiers. Dyna seemed more confused than harmed by the experience, but Toph, though mostly unharmed by her only marginally supernatural foes, had to be treated for PTSD and rage issues against the human race as a whole. Dyna had also, it seems, stepped out into the world and become part of it, gaining the import I’d denied her all those centuries ago. She’d become Dianne “DeeDee” Driver, Ravenclaw. 3 years my junior, Hogwarts Graduate and Drop-In, a Memory Spell Specialist and Metamorphmagus with a focus on Wandlore and Muggle-style Duelling.
Mini and Franky too had been to Hogwarts it turned out, using up my last two long unspent import slots, though they weren’t drop ins and had had to finish up their school years before the end of the jump, a fact that earned me (and Mini) more than one of Professor McGonagall’s half-confused glares. Mini found the presence of her elderly alter-ego a bit confusing, but in the end they treated each other much the way their school mates treated them, as grandmother and granddaughter. Franky, a Just and Loyal Hufflepuff, was a Half-blood from a wealthy muggle family, with Veela Blood and a gift for both Occlumency and Legilimency, the one-two punch of reading others and keeping them from reading you in return. Mini was, of course, a Middle-class, muggleborn Gryffindor, brave at heart, dedicated, witty beyond measure… and her particular magical gift lay in the Nullification of the magic of others.
Of the others, Caine was inscrutable, but it was clear his experiences had shaken the immortal, who was unused to feeling helpless when the chips were down. Ryoga and Yoiko had managed to survive everything that had been thrown at them, but the things they’d been forced to do while Imperiused would have haunted them too much, so I erased those memories completely. The rest… hadn’t survived. Franchesca, Bao, and Gaius had been sacrificed in bloodrites. Rayray and Ziggy had been taken out while rampaging. Kohina, Reggy, and Kagetane had gone down in hails of wandfire, and Velma and Uriel had died while trying to kneecap the US government.
Of Zane, Kendra, Joy, and Ahab… I found not a trace.
Still, I suspected they’d (along with the slain) would return at the end of this horrible decade, and so I spent as much time as I could studying up on trauma therapy, both magical and mundane, diving back into old issues of the magazine subscription from Psychonauts and practicing Diving techniques I hadn’t used more than casually in ages. My final exam was returning the Longbottoms (Neville’s Parents) to sanity, stitching their shattered psyches back together through a series of rather harrowing dives that featured some truly terrifying “boss battles”. Like it or not, being inside the mind of another carried with it innate limitations and vulnerabilities, not to mention the potential to do real and lasting harm.
I did decide to take Professor McGonagall up on her offer to replace Flitwick as Charms Master, at least for the last three years, though to be honest I was actually in class less than a third of the time… or at least physically. It was becoming easier and easier to be in more than one place, and I still had cleanup to deal with. Umbridge and Runcorn had not acted alone and dismantling the hidden web they’d crafted was time consuming and taxing… not that all of it was dismantled. Some of the networks they’d created to support OWO had been comprised of those who honestly wanted change, while other parts weren’t fundamentally evil, but merely mercenary.
As One World Order, now rebranded as Our World Network, transitioned from terrorist group to vehicle for social change, I found myself using Supervillainess skills even longer dormant than my psyche-diving skills. This world was too dark, too full of nastiness and reality to allow me to be too altruistic, but what is a supervillain if not a visionary with no limits or constraints and a seriously superior attitude.
As the decade came to a close, I resisted pulling a Superman Returns and spying on Jason or Snape. I’d verified through various means that they were still safe and well and hidden, and hadn’t gone farther. He was almost twelve now, and while part of me wanted to see him, the rest of me doubted we had any right to interfere with his life. I could no more answer his potential questions than I could deal with the emotions surrounding him, so I pushed them away. It was all too easy.
The decade ended not with a party, but with a solemn memorial. I had too many regrets about this world, too many moments of sadness. My last time here I’d been suffering PTSD and survivor’s guilt… as well as from the knowledge that, right or wrong, I’d ended the Reapers, committed genocide against a species where each individual was the gestalt mind of an entire once living race. It hadn’t been an easy choice, destroying all that had been to save all that could be, but I had made it to break the cycle. Now, if anything, I was leaving this world with more anger, more frustration, more personal trauma than the last time. Hopefully the next Universe would have some catharsis.
Stepping back through the Pillars of Time into the Warehouse at Jump’s End I was prepared for anything. What I got was screaming, thrashing, and a mad rush towards bathrooms, potted plants, or the exit portal to either throw up or get revenge. Ziggy hid under the sofa.
About a minute after my return, Zane and Kendra tumbled into the Warehouse, trenchcoats smoking and looking like they’d just solo’d against Smaug. Ahab and Joy materialized a moment later, Joy covered in blood, Ahab looking a little… ghoulish… though he pinked up quickly. Zane looked over at me and quirked an eyebrow “Where’d you guys go? We couldn’t access the Warehouse at all and the phones didn’t work.”
I looked at him and growled “The Banker thought it would be funny to send the rest of us back to Hogwarts.” He opened his mouth to say something snarky, but I added “Hellblazer edition.” before he could and he paled. “How bad was it?” he asked. “Umbridge was PM and Minister of Magic. Runcorn was in charge of the secret police, and they’d used my legend to turn me into a global terror leader. It was a shit show. Your trip?”
“Joy got killed by a psychopath. Ahab got undeaded into a corpse-eater. We had to kill him. It was essentially a decade of running about and screaming. Wasn’t too bad. I give it a 2/10, would not visit again unless the other option was actual hell, but the food wasn’t bad.”
Kendra snarked “You only say that because you weren’t sexually assaulted by Asmodeus.”
“That has nothing to do with the quality of the food.”
“And we did chain him to the rock of eternity and sic the vultures on him.”
“Couldn’t happen to a nicer fiend.”
“Sounds like we could all use some group therapy. Let’s make sure everyone’s here and getting the medical or narcotic help they need, then we’ll spend the next three weeks or so talking things out and… beginning to come to terms. I’ve already asked the Banker to delay the arrival of the VMoD until the last week of the month.”
Shan’t go into the details of those weeks. There were many unpleasant scenes and various people’s coping mechanisms are different. I very much ignored my own issues in favor of helping the others. I could put off my emotional responses in theory indefinitely, and there really wasn’t anyone on crew who was qualified to help me… and helping the others made me feel like I was doing something useful. Still, it was clear that the mental scars weren’t going to fade quickly, though I was doing my best. What I needed was a Councillor, I realized… but all I had were warriors and scholars and monsters. Maybe a return to Star Trek was in order…
I was debating the sanity of using a decade long return to the Federation just to pick up a Betazoid… when the VMoD sprang to life. John Williams’ immortal Star Wars theme began and I growled “Wrong Stars. Wrong type of Councillor.” Then I looked over at the machine and grimaced “Wrong era too. I don’t even know if there is a Jedi Council in the Old Republic.”
Mini, who’d been nearly glued to my side for the past 4 years, looked up at it and blinked “What is Kotor? Is it bad?” She was a little nervous, but more resigned to hardship than I was happy with. I hoped I could help her get back to her more carefree and adventurous state, but rolling back the clock had to be used… carefully. Franky, by comparison, had been heavily drugged and remembered nothing more than a bunch of pain and a floaty feeling.
“Knights of the Old Republic. Star Wars Videogame. Never played it. I know that the main character can follow either Dark or Light paths… that’s about all I know. Oh, and this nice seeming old lady is actually a Sith Lord. And there’s someone named Revin.”
“So… this is set when? Before trilogy… the second one I mean?” “Way before, if I’m remembering correctly. Pretty sure on the order of 300 years or so. But date’s aren’t going to be helpful, since most dates in Star Wars are given in, if I remember correctly, in years before or after the Battle of Yavin. So anything before that is going to be pretty much impossible to set exactly. It could be 20 years before or 20,000. I just don’t know enough about Star Wars Extended stuff.”
“Actually,” came Vivian’s soothing voice, “The game takes place some 4,000 years before the events of the five trilogies.”
“What? How… five?” I spluttered.
“You forget. The Mass Effect Reality I am native to was accessed from your home reality via the entity known as BioWare. BioWare is also the entity that created the game which served as access to the Knights of the Old Republic Realty. Thus, that game and its backstory were accessible to the society of Earth in the Mass Effect Reality. Plus, it was available for purchase in Buffy, West Wing, and Gargoyles Realities in the later half of each jump.”
“Ah… well… good. Helpful. Potentially. Assuming the details haven’t changed across versions. Are there any substantive story differences against the scope of the… what… four different versions you have?”
“I do not know. Someone has erased my memories of having played the games, as well as my copies of the games, the walkthroughs, and my reviews.”
“Soo… how do you know it’s 4000 years before the movies?”
“It says so on the screen of the VMoD.”
“Right. I knew that.” I looked. “Peace! It is the Year 3960 BBY and with the conclusion of the Mandalorian Wars, both the Republic and the Jedi take a sigh of relief and celebrate victory over their malicious foes. However, victory in this conflict has come at a massive cost; with dozens of worlds devastated, millions dead, and the rogue Jedi Revan and Malak disappeared into Unknown Space. Within the next year, the galaxy will be plunged back into violent conflict. Revan and his army will return to spark the Jedi Civil War, and (if history goes unhindered) the first jedi purge will follow soon after. You are a young force sensitive placed in the perfect position to change the course of the coming events. Armed with your lightsaber and some essential supplies, will you succeed in your quest for greatness, or fail and lose everything?”
Okay then. That’s something.
The list of freebies was… impressive. Force Sensitivity was a boost to luck and all natural abilities, such as strength, agility, wisdom, charisma… and came with all the basic jedi powers. Force Speed (I am with the Force, the Force makes me go zoom), Force Sight (improved visual and spiritual perception, allows one to see through obstacles like darkness or solid matter), Precognition & Farsight (allows one to see events from the past, present, and future… at a distance), Force Empathy (the ability to sense the emotions of people and creatures), Force Telepathy (the ability to communicate across long distances mind to mind), Force Telekinesis (the ability to manipulate matter and energy with the mind), Mind Trick (allows one to influence the thoughts of sentient creatures… especially those with weak wills), Force Stealth (allows one to hide their presence in the force and to make oneself less noticed in crowds)… and basic Lightsaber Training. Also came with a free single bladed lightsaber. Pistol Training however did not come with a pistol.
“Please Note: You keep everything you’ve gained from previous universes and can decide if people will question companions or powers from said universes or simply accept them as things that could happen. All your companions and podded followers automatically gain a connection to the Force if they accompany you into the Star Wars Universe, regardless of whether they are imported or not.” A connection to the Force is nice… not as good as Force Aptitude or Force Sensitivity, but I shan’t look a gift Force in the mouth.
The good old Wheel of Locality had two locations I knew by name (Coruscant, the Republic’s capital and home of the Jedi Order, an Ecumenopolis… and Dantooine… which is not home to the Rebel Alliance… and won’t be home to it in 4,000 years either.) The others were a desert world named Korriban which was the Sith Homeworld, an ocean world called Manaan, a farm world that’s home to the Jedi AgriCorps called Telos IV, a heavily industrial world named Onderon which had traded hands several times in the recent Mandalorian wars (Fett’s armor is Mandalorian), and a second eccumenopolis called Taris. “Big City… Big City… no whammies” I said as I spun…. Only to end up on Dantooine… a world described as “Largely uninhabited, where the only threats are raiders, wild animals, and the occasional fallen Jedi.” Oh… doesn’t this sound like fun. “Explore the crystal caves and Force Sensitive Ruins!” can I not?
A second spin and I was now 23 again… does living Ice have a biological age? Origins… origins… Drop-In… Jedi, Sith, Grey Jedi, Mandalorian… So No Training, Indoctrination, Brainwashing, Chip on your shoulder, and most over-rated people ever. Seriously, Drop-in came with powers and zero idea how to use them. Errr… no. Jedi came with a caring master and a rival! Wooo. no. Sith… no. no nono. What a terrible idea. Mandalorian origin was essentially Stockholm syndrome the origin, a padawan captured and kept as a pet by the Mandos… Which left Grey Jedi, taught to be all Jedi by parents who abandoned the Jedi years ago. It wasn’t perfect, but the groundwork, the “Things are not Black and White” was there, so I might as well go that route. Cost me 100 CP… but better than the alternatives.
And then it was time for… Species. Excellent. I could remain human… hah… that was a joke… on any number of levels… or I could take my pick from Twi’lek (Bib Fortuna’s race… the guy with the head tentacle behind Jaba), Zabrak (Darth Maul’s race… the badguy who died like a chump in episode I), Togruta (Ahsoka Tano’s race… Anakin’s padawan), Nautolan (no clue, kinda bugfaced tentacle heads… apparently amphibious), and Cathar (kitty people!!!). Togruta were kinda cool and had passive echolocation, which seemed like it would be cool, since it effectively granted better perception and spatial awareness. They’re carnivorous (mmeeaaaat!), with colorful skin, long (stripped) head-tails, and horns. They had their own language and spoke Galactic Basic… and buying it would come with some interesting new instincts and memories… and what can I say, I’m an experience junkie. It wasn’t free like Human or Twi’lek, but 50 was affordable, so I took it.
Now, I know you’re thinking “Location, Age, Origin, Race… clearly, it’s time for Perks, right? Or maybe drawbacks?” Nope. apparently every Force User had to pick a path along which their powers would develope. The choices were Strength, Intelligence, and Balance, and each came with a bonus power. Strength was for Jedi Guardians and Sith Warriors and boosted combat and physical abilities. Balance was for Jedi Sentinels and Sith Assassins, and improved skills while keeping physical and mental aspects balanced. Neither was really my jam. Intelligence was my thing, always has been. The path of Consulars and Inquisitors, Intelligence boosted mental abilities and made learning skills and force powers easier. What’s not to love? The bonus power was Force Healing, which could be used to mend injuries and cure diseases. Strength’s force bubble protective power and Balance’s force cloak stealth power didn’t come close to that. And it was all free.
And speaking of free, it was finally time to hit the Perks and grab me some freebs. Grey Jedi got Persuasion, a natural affinity for speech and psychology that made it easy to convince people to do what I asked them to… and to get better deals from merchants. Social Fu additions were always welcome. As gear went, Grey Jedi also got a Datapad (a personal computer tablet complete with journal, map, digital storage drive, holoprojector, calculator and sketchpad… with wireless connectivity to any nearby computer network and a rechargeable battery), and 50,000 Galactic Standard Credits, tax free and legal.
Grey Jedi also got a discount on Hardware (a perk that was training in how to operate, repair and improve machines. Easily rebuild broken droids from salvaged parts or fix starships with enough time and equipment… no thanks, I should be able to figure this one out on my own). Disable Droid (a force power that would temporarily deactivate machinery, and lightly damage electronics and droids. Could be very useful.), Beast Control (a force power that did exactly what it sounds like. Interesting.), and Pyrokinesis (a force power that was far too expensive for something weaker than what I already could do. It was a nifty force power however, and had no alignment.)
Hmmm… was it worth paying points to get Force Powers? Couldn’t they be learned? Was it like Bending, where buying Force Powers gave you training and experience, but if you didn’t you’d still be able to learn those abilities like any other Jedsithi? Hmm… If so, that was good… if not… I was going to need more points. Drawbacks hooo!
A six hundred point limit seemed reasonable, and within moments I’d found exactly that. Wild was a +100 item that made it so that I’d have difficulty controlling my Force powers, in that TK type abilities would react to my emotions and other powers would randomly stop working for short periods of time… but it was (potentially) overcomable with either strong willpower or long periods of training. I had the first… and was willing to put in the second.
Broken was another +100 which meant I’d have my left arm cut off (in grand Star Wars fashion) years previously and replaced with a cybernetic one. It would be a weak one, especially for doing force powers, but it too was potentially fixable via upgrading the thing. I like projects, and this seemed a reasonable one.
Blind was nearly free points. At +200, it might have been scary to be without working eyes, but the presence of Force Sight negated most of that… but I’d been through this before. I’d spent considerable time before relying on non-ocular sight, and in the world of Star Wars, being forced to rely on the Force was practically a bonus.
Hunted, another +200, was nearly perfect… dangerous, but perfect. A powerful bounty hunter would be after my head. They’d be impossible to negotiate with and would continue to hunt me until one of us was dead. Excellent. A (potentially) one and done fight. Worth the risk… and it would keep me on my toes.
It wasn’t really close. All the others were worse. Slow hamstrung Force Powers and reaction time. Speciesist made dealing with other species a hassle. The less said about the +300s (Notorious… how to be hated by everyone, Phobia… of starships, and Aura… how to be hated by everything.) the better.
So that left me at 1450… time to start spending. First thing was Chosen Ones [200/1250/1600] which would allow me to import 8 of mine, giving them all the freebies for their origin and a new body. Good. I think several of them could use it.
Tactical Info [200/1050/1600] was another undiscounted item that caught my eye. It equipped me with an HUD that quantified my remaining health and the amount of Force energy I had available, displayed the amount of damage I did per hit, showed a complete list of the powers and abilities I had available, and automatically recorded all of my current and completed tasks in an electronic journal format. A built in organizer, a training tool, and all around useful piece of information. Hopefully it was toggleable and not too intrusive.
I guess I should grab Disable Droid [200/850/1600], Beast Control [200/650/1600] and Hardware [150/500/1600]… I should be able to learn them, but I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t buy them and couldn’t… I had a hand to fix and getting a leg up on local tech wasn’t a bad idea… plus, there really wasn’t anything else worth 50 CP I wanted, so that last 50 would be going to waste… it kinda made Broken a wash… but not too bad of one.
In the gear section were a set of Lightsaber Crystals… two of which were “alignment” locked. The Solari Crystal enhanced the blade of the saber, as well as the user’s willpower… but was for Jedi only. The Qixoni Crystal also enhanced the saber’s blade, as well as the user’s Force Powers… but was for Sith only. The last, the so called “Mantle of the Force” Crystal, could override those lockouts and slightly enhanced the effectiveness of the others. Collectively, they were [300/200/1600]… and well worth the cost, in my opinion. At the very least, I was guaranteed three lightsaber crystals post jump.
Which left me enough to pick up the Mandalorian Ripper [200/0/1600], an energy powered ballistic pistol that ignores personal shields and most armor. It could be modified with attachments like scope or silencer, was more durable than most blasters, and was highly illegal. It also could not be completely deflected by a lightsaber. That… could be useful.
Which only left the companion importing… and there I was… conflicted. Did I bring along the most useful among them? What would that mean, since I had precious little contextual knowledge of this period in Jedi history? Did I bring along those who’d been the most traumatized? I was going to bring everyone along regardless, importing just elevated them from Force Connected to Force Sensitives. In the end… I just decided to invite those I thought would have the most fun… without being terrifying. Well, that’s not true. I did invite Yuzuha… just because I found the idea of seeing what a Sith with the full force of The Tree of Darkness could do. I’d briefly considered Caine for the same, but decided instead to bring Kohina along as a Jedi… she could use some centering and calming meditation after what had happened.
Aside from those two (and Joy & Ahab), I decided to bring along the Ladies (and Ryoga)… and Tokimi… whose inclusion was… pending. Strictly speaking, she was… or had been… a suitor… but honestly… the thought of sleeping with her was more than a little bit creepy… and I’m not certain she even understood the mortal desire to mate on anything more than a chemical level. Maybe she’d understand more after an import… or fifty. I wouldn’t hold my lack of breath.
“Okay… who’s what and why? Anyone wasting the opportunity to be something other than human doesn’t get dessert tonight. Joy?”
“Yeah, same diff. Grey Boy. Intelligent.”
“You’re being deliberately annoying.”
“Yeah, well… this is lame.”
“Hush, it’s for the reader’s edification.”
“What readers? We’re all here… and no one’s taking minutes.”
“Shut up Vivian.”
“I shall because I want to, not because you told me to.”
“Sant. Sant Jara. That’s my new persona’s name.”
“Oh. Good. Cause that’s not a terrible… I’ll shut up now.”
“Good thought. Ahab?”
“Hornhead, Bounty Hunter, Brawn.”
“Now you’re just being… moving on… Velma? Are you going to-”
“Twi’lek Sparkles, the Jedicorn of Balance.”
“I’ll just be over here, damaging the infrastructure with my head, shall I?”
“Mini say Nya!”
“Franky say Nya too!”
“Cathar do not talk like that.”
“How does bossy lady know that?”
“Fine… Cathar probably don’t talk like that. What kind of Sensitives are you?”
“Mini is Smart Kitty Jedi.”
“Franky is Strongk Kitty Jedi.”
“Should never have introduced you to the internet. I blame Japan. Kohina? I know I said you had to be a Balanced Grey Jedi… what race did you pick?”
“One of the tentacle ones… are they prehensile?”
“What? No… Strictly speaking Tentacles aren’t. Arms are. Tentacles are only partly manipulators.”
“I’m not going to ask… or scan… to find out why you wanted to know… which type of tendril-head did you pick?”
“The sex slave one.”
“Ah… I don’t think Twi’lek females are always sex-slaves.”
“I… right… moving on.”
“I wasn’t asking you to enslave me.”
“But you could if you-”
“Right… Yuzu? What did you settle on?”
“As you advised, I went Sith… Balance… though I followed your lead and went Togruta… they seem the most vicious.”
“More than the Zabrak?”
“Zabrak are aggressive… but it’s for show. Those horns are too small to be effective. A Togruta’s horns are considerably larger, plus, they are ambush predators. One can tell from the coloration, diet, and sensory suite.”
“Ah… yes… It is interesting that 4 of the races on offer are carnivores. Tokimi?”
“Oh. Well… In an effort to fit in, I have decided to mirror your choices. They seem most… reasonable.”
“In other words, you haven’t the faintest idea and just went the safe route?”
“As I said… reasonable.”
“Right. Hibikis… you decided yet?”
“We’re going as Zabraks.”
“But he’s an idiot.”
“Jedi are the idiots.”
“Shut up Sith Boy.”
“Make me.” “Children…”
“That’s better. Good. remember, no matter what side of the Force you’re on, you’re on my team. Anyone going too far into anyone’s dogma is going to find out what it’s like to be a Force Ghost real quick.”
“Actually, that sounds-”
“It’s not cool, Yuzu. It’s a punishment. No snacks for Force Ghosts.”
“Oh. Never mind.”
Well, here we are on Dantooine… where’s the plotline around here, because this place is fucking boring as all hell. Sure sure, it’s a big planet, lots to explore… but frankly, It’s a farming world with bugger all to do. Been here six weeks and all there is is bucolic countryside and farms and little communes as far as the eye can see. I’ve no idea what year it is, or where the plot is… it’s like… exile. “You’ve been a bad girl. Sit here and consider all you’ve done until we decide something interesting can happen.” Oh, and the Force? I think I know why so many Jedi turned Sith. It’s like… a voice whispering “Uuuuuuse meeeeee.” and when you ask “Use you to do what?” the only answer is “Yes.” It’s literally the most fucked up power source. It’s life force at it’s most raw, and these idiots are wandering around claiming it has a dark side and a light side?
Fuck that… the midichlorians are only collectively aware in the vaguest sense. They’re absolutely interested in only one thing… their own survival. And as they’re symbiotic with essentially every lifeform in this galaxy, they’re interested in keeping those lifeforms alive and healthy… and I suspect that means at odds with each other to a certain degree, as aggressive species are harder to eradicate than pacific, supine, cattle-like species. But I don’t think the Midichlorians really understand anything on any complex level. They’re treating their hosts as if they were… I dunno… still primitive planetbound tree-dwellers. They can’t really understand the difference between a group of Wampas beating each other up and massive star fleets crushing each other in planetary orbit.
But that’s a guess. Maybe they understand completely and have a reason to keep spurring Sith into being megalomaniacs and Jedi into being tools. As it is, I’m still adjusting to using the force to see. Mostly, I do this by sitting in a field and throwing little flechettes of ice at bobbing wheat stalks. And by throwing, I mean using the force to pick them up out of my palm and launching them across the field. I refuse to move from this spot until the plot finds me. Either that, or until I’ve decapitated every last grain of wheat, one at a time.
Oh, look, a hopping mouse. Fuck it’s boring here. Good thing I only have one hand right now or I’d be hitting myself with the other one. My 14th new hand blew up this morning when I tried channeling the force through it. The tech here sucks. Oh, and Yuzu totally doesn’t get why neither she nor I can regenerate my missing limb. Drawbacks are fiat enforced is why, of course, but she’s not used to people telling her no and living. She’s offered to beat up the Vending Machine for me. I told her to go play with Ziggy for a while.
It is soooo quiet here. Just wind and the sounds of tiny wildlife. It’s somewhat relaxing… and I need relaxing. For instance, when I started looking into recent galactic events, you know what I discovered? Shit. Not the “We didn’t find shit.” kind of shit. No. I found out that the Jedis of this era are even bigger fuckups than of the Prequel Era.
Take this for an example. 4 years ago, give or take, a group of Jedi Masters on this nearby planet called Taris killed… murdered… massacred… their own padawans… because a Force Vision had fucking convinced them that one of them was going to turn to the Dark Side. They straight up murdered their pupils, who fucking trusted them, because of a vision. Instead of, you know, getting them counseling. And these brilliant fucking Jedi Masters couldn’t even kill all 5 padawans. One of them survived and brought the whole thing to light while being hunted and framed for the murders of the others. Morons.
Of course, that wasn’t the worst… no… that was the Republic-Mandalorian War… which the Freaking Jedis mostly sat out because it wasn’t their fight. Except the ones who went rogue, like Revan and Surik. And they managed to end the war by freaking destroying the Mandalorian fleet… and their own fleet… and the planet Malachor V using some insane super weapon called, if the rumors are right “The Mass Shadow Generator”. I can feel the… the… I don’t know what to call it… the rent in the fabric of the Force? The Scar? I don’t know… but I can feel it throbbing like a canker even from here… and I haven’t the faintest clue how far away Malachor is from Dantoine because I don’t understand the hyperspace system these fucking morons are using. MEASURE THINGS IN LIGHTYEARS YOU FREAKING MORONS!
I really should study up on this shit… but I don’t have any local spaceships so I can’t be arsed… plus, mastering the Force and making a functioning hand seem more useful… hello little mouse, yes, you can have a piece of ice. Very cute… please stop nibbling at my robe. Oh… I’m flesh again. Turns out a new form is what I needed. Can turn back into ice if I need to, but am frankly enjoying having internal organs again. Oh…. and a lightsaber. Sure, I have energy swords, but Lightsabers are cool. I have five right now. Not sure why, but I had my starter lightsaber and decided to see if I could use my replicator technology to replicate the crystal. Took three tries… and rebuilding the unit once to do it, but I did. So now I have five. Could make more. Doesn’t seem to be any point to it at the moment.
Invented a stunner Lightsaber design, haven’t built it yet. Need to synth a totally different crystal for it. Have a design for a Lightblaster, uses lightsaber crystals to focus the beam, allows a force user to adjust the blast… not sure there’s a point to it. Designed a Lightsaber version of a buckler… that’s in fabrication right now. It has a core of mandalorian metal and can block lightsabers, and deflect blaster bolts… in theory.
Right… sorry… the tech isn’t great, but then again, it’s 4,000 years behind what I’d expect from Star Wars. And in some ways, Wars tech is better, but in other ways it’s worse than Trek Tech… and all of them are different from Asgard or Juraian tech. Then again, Asgard and Juraian… and Magi tech for that matter aren’t hyper tech, they’re clarktech. Trek and Wars stuff is soooo last epoch. But what can you do?
So, scarred reality, Jedi are idiots… and they don’t know that Revan is going to come back leading a bunch of… renegades I guess… I have no idea, and set off some kind of Jedi Civil War and after that a Jedi Purge? I haven’t the faintest idea who’s on which side or if I should be siding against Malak & Revan or not… though since those names sound a little evil, I’m guessing against… but until they show up calling themselves Darth Whosit or Count Fuckit, I’m just guessing.
There’s a local group of Jedi here. Apparently they’re like… the back up Jedi Council. Oh, I do know that the Jedi order is having a trial for Meetra Surik, Revan’s second in command. She’s the one who detonated the Mass Shadow Generator and killed both fleets and a planet. Sounds like a lovely person. Apparently she’s been cut off from the Force because she killed so many people. Huh… that never happened to Palpatine or Dooku or Vader. Maybe because they didn’t pull the trigger? But neither did Surik. Apparently she ordered someone else to do it with, of all things, a head nod. That’s got to be one hell of a headnod.
“She nodded her head, Nuke the Star System!”
I’m tempted to go to the Malachor system to feel this scar up close… but I doubt anyone sane will fly me there. “Hi, You don’t know me, but I’d like to hire your ship to take me to Malachor.” “Lady, you blind, right?” “Yeah?” “Well, Malachor is gone. The planet’s just, like toast. Lots of floating debris… not a tourist location… and you can’t see anything anyway. So what’s the point.” “There is a hole in your reality.” “Great. Ain’t going near it.” “Darn.”
So, that’s why I’m in a field, playing with ice and mice.
1 YEAR LATER
Remember how I talked about Surik being on trial? They exiled her from the order. Oh, and there are some ruins on Dantooine, really old ones. We’ve been exploring them. I have a hand made of living wood, and fifteen lightsabers. My main one has three crystals and generates a blade that is actually three blades spiraling around each other in a triple helix. It’s silver… or so I’m told by people who have eyes that work. I don’t know why I keep building more lightsabers. Two of them are lightsaber tonfas… one’s a lightsaber three piece rod… one’s a trident. I’ve been really bored. Maybe I’ll piss off the Jedi Council for something to do.
1 YEAR LATER
Sooooo… Remember how I said I’d worry about Revan when and if he showed up calling himself Darth? Hello Darth Revan, Emperor of the Sith Empire. Fuuuuuuuck. Apparently Jedi are going over to this screaming cunt in droves. Sith doesn’t, apparently, have a bad rep yet. Fucking morons. This is what happens when you have a pair of monastic orders and, while neither of them is at all fun, one of them gives you freedom to be a psychopath and the only thing the other gives you is “that’s not nice, oh… and your skin will rot off.” See Sith Lords and Masks for proof.
Sooo, yeah… maybe having spent the last year dropping into the local Jedi Temple and arguing with them about the finer points of Jedi philosophy… while engaged in lightsaber duels… might not have been the best thing I could have been doing. Have picked up over a dozen new fighting techniques though. Some of those old guys can fight… especially Vandar Tokare. He’s like Yoda, but with a bigger stick up his butt. Means well, but…
Now I’m fairly sure I’m going to have to stop a galactic war. No idea how yet. Still don’t have the faintest idea how to navigate this universe and most of my companions are off planet learning exactly that. We found this holographic star map in one of the ruins and I sent off everyone but Yuzu and Tokimi to track down the other maps that were hinted at in the map we found. Something about a Star Forge… a matter replicator on a huge scale… could be interesting technology.
1 YEAR LATER
Well… fuck me sideways with a Thermal Detonator… Malak apparently betrayed Revan and Revan’s dead. Interesting. Supposedly, the only survivor of the Jedi taskforce that took down Revan’s defenses long enough for Malak to betray his master, one Bastila Shan, is coming to speak with the Jedi Council here. I’m so glad I tapped their coms. Must talk to this Bastilla. See what she knows. Maybe convince her to take me to Korriban… that’s where the Sith Empire’s capital is… or wherever Malak is. If I can get close enough, say in the same system, I can probably deal with Malak…
Now, where the hell are my companions?
1 WEEK LATER
Ahahaha… oh… this… this is sooo wrong. Shan lied! Hahaha. She’s got Revan with her. Dude’s brain is… heh… he’s lost most of his memories. It’s… I shouldn’t be laughing… dude’s being reprogrammed by the Jedi Council of Dantoine to think he’s just this guy who happens to be force sensitive and Shan’s going to use him to take down Malak. Pretty sneaky for Jedi. I’m going to sneak on board their ship. I figure this has got to be the plot rearing it’s ugly head. Interesting that I can’t read Revan with his… identity scrambled. It’s as if he doesn’t know who he is… even on the spiritual level. I wonder if he turned to the Dark Side willingly. Or is this just how someone looks when their balance of good and evil or whatever is in flux? Can’t say. Not willing to take him out yet… the fun has finally arrived.
Yuzu asked me a good question, though “Why don’t you just change history so all the Sith stop being Sith.” to which I replied… Because nothing will stop them from shifting back again. I can change history… not the people who caused it. Also, I really don’t know how well it would work on a galactic scale. If it would work… I suspect the drain of even trying it would leave me too weak to do anything for… who knows how long. I’ll stick to planetary bodies with that power… for now.
Oh, and speaking of range limitations… apparently the Warehouse coms don’t work on galactic distances either. Fucking hell. I’m going to have to rebuild the damned things. But that’s for later. I left a message for the Questors in a spot I knew they’d find and boarded Bastila’s ship, The Endar Spire.
SEVERAL DAYS LATER
Well, huh… the ship just got attacked and deorbited over that Taris planet… same one from the Massacre… small… fucking… galaxy. Dude-Who-Used-To-Be-Revan has teamed up with some git named Carth to go rescue Bastila. Am tagging along just to see what happens. This is very strange, stealthing my way through life, trying not to be noticed. The Force actually makes that pretty easy.
They met a weird tribe down in the belly of the eccumenopolis that covers Taris… totally different vibe from the ones built by the Asari or by my Magi. Definite “underbelly” vibe. Anyway, Revan and friend ran into a twi’lek girl named Mission… yes… that’s her name… sigh… and her pet wookie, Zalbaar. Kid’s cute, wookie’s… a wookie… and pretty young too. Turns out Bastila’s being held by some gang boss named… eh… fuck it. Who cares. Minor gang leaders involved in turf warfare in some city I couldn’t care less about. Fetch Quest, gambling minigame, racing minigame, blah blah blah.
It’s about the same time that Revan, Carth, and Mission… plus he-who-shall-not-be-getting-a-medal… meet up with and rescue Bastila… instant sexual tension between R & B… cue Barry White singing “Let’s Get It On.” but not really… that Malak’s fleet shows up and starts just… fucking… carpet bombing the god damned city for no fucking reason.
Look. I don’t give a flying fuck about the people of Taris. Met like… 15 of them and 13 of them were jerks. But this shit don’t fly. I think I may have derailed the plot… a little bit. Star Wars ships are big and tough… but these weren’t Star Destroyers and a freaking Tie Fighter can take one of them out. Getting into orbit took Ziggy and Yuzu a few seconds. Destroying the enemy fleet took less time. I took the flagship… No idea how I knew it was the Flagship, it just… felt like it. Fucking Force. Drew me right to Malak.
What can I say about Darth Malak? Well, momma always said… haha. No. Unlike Revan, Malak had his mind and memory intact. I pulled him inside my mind a split second after I smashed through the armourplast windows of his command bridge so he didn’t get sucked into the void and considered him as he flailed around looking for a) his lightsaber and b) the Force.
“Hiya!” Soul of Ice said as she kicked him in the mask. “You have been weighed.” added Victoria. “You have been measured.” added Silent Judge. “You have been found wanting.” He didn’t get the reference. Talk about being out of the cultural loop. He struggled for the first hour, but I think by the end of the movie, he was getting into it. Of course, he lacked the proper frame of reference, so we had to pause every so often to give him a crash course in whatever he was missing, but I think he got the point by the end… of the lance… never mind.
Anyway, while torturing him with popculture of a universe that wouldn’t exist for a very long time in a galaxy far far away, I was reading his mind, trying to figure out what made a Jedi turn Sith… and not just one, but a multitude. Malak and Revan had turned many a Jedi to their cause.
What I found was… disheartening. Torture, mostly. Forcing them to experience overwhelming negative emotions… and utter bollox preparation by the oh so wise Jedi in how to deal with any of this crap. “Deny your emotions. Emotions baaad. Attachment leads to…” you know the spiel. But it went further than that in Malak’s case. Revan’s too, for that matter, if Malak’s memories were to be believed.
After the Mandalorian Wars, the two of them had headed out past the edge of the republic, looking for whoever had manipulated the Mando Clans into going to war in the first place. They’d found the Sith Empire. Not, I should point out, Revan’s Sith Empire… noooo… a totally different but identically named (because fuck logic) Sith Empire ruled by an immortal douchebag named Lord Vitiate or The Sith Emperor. Apparently, after something called the Great Hyperspace War way back a thousand years earlier, the Really Old Republic had smashed the then Sith Empire and he’d emerged from obscurity to put it back together again… because apparently, when you smash an entire fucking star nation, you just say “eh, they probably won’t emerge again if we leave their worlds alone. Let’s just ignore that part of the Galaxy and hope nothing bad happens”… because fuck logic.
So they’d found Dark Lord #897 and he’d turned them into Dark Lords #898 and #899… and now I had to go blow the fucker and his empire into itty bitty Sith bits because Fuck the Force’s manipulation of events… and I found out where my god-damned companions had gone. Turns out, Malak and Revan had found the fucking Starforge and were using the damned thing to pump out all these fucking ships (where the hell they were getting the crews from is beyond me. Malak just subcontracted that to the lesser Jedis he’d corrupted.)
Turns out, the Starforge was orbiting the homesun of this truly fucked up species called the Rakata who’d figured out how to use the Force to create a freaking stellar powered, Dark-side of the Force using matter compiler (the Starforge itself) which they’d used to pretty much conquer the galaxy (previously ruled by the Force Sensitive Kwa (what does the penguin say? Kwa!) and (after killing off most of those nice Kwa who’d uplifted them from barbarism… before figuring out that the Rakata were cannibalistic assholes who could only use the Dark Side) establish “The Infinite Empire” (Arceus, these names… good me. This is why Sci-Fi Fandom gets a bad rap. Fucking repetitive nonsense.) some 32,000 years ago… but that Infinite (good thing they hadn’t called it the Eternal Empire or the name might have been bullshit… ahahaha… I laugh… not) Empire had come to an end 11,000 years later when the Rakata had been all but exterminated by a slave race called the Esh-Kha and a massive plague that ravaged the Rakata population and severed their connection to the Force (The Force clearly screwed these guys, but why, exactly, did it let them get away with this shit for 11 millenia?).
Without Force Users and with a techbase built entirely on Force Manipulation, and the survivors sealed away on their homeworld Lehon… behind a disruptor barrier that destroyed the comms and navigation systems of any ship nearing the planet and trapping the survivors there… with the freaking Rakata. Which meant I had to go to Lehon. Thankfully, Malak knew where it was. And where Vitiate’s Sith Empire Mark II was.
Step one, visit Malak’s capital on Korriban (which had been the ancient Sith Capital & homeworld of the actual Sith… did you know they were a species? I didn’t know that.), kill or imprison all the Sith I could find. Step two, visit Lehon, rescue companions using tech that laughed at the idea of being disrupted… literally, Ziggy said it tickled and Yuzu almost orgasmed at the pure darksidedness of it all. She also ate the Star Forge… I mean it. She… absorbed the entire thing into the superstructure of hershipself, using its Darkness to fuel her own powers. If it had been a living thing, I’d have felt sorry for the titanic weapons factory.
Step three… Look, I can’t say I liked doing it, but any empire with Sith in the name can’t be allowed to keep warships. At least not a home fleet. With the help of Malak, who was really not enjoying the constant rotation of sit-coms, rom-coms, and other feel good couch surfing material, and my crew (several of whom had bothered to figure out how to read local starcharts and learn how hyperspace navigation worked) we arrived in the Dromund Kaas system, all five of my starships (yes, the Black Jenny had been upgraded to Juraian battle tech thanks to Vivian’s robotic minions… and even Victor had gotten some upgrades, not that he’d needed much, most of his tech was Magi.) moving to neutralize anything that registered as a threat.
Twenty-two minutes later, my fleet settled into parking orbit above the capital, Kaas City, and began the invasion. KAIJU HOOOOOO. I, meanwhile, pulled out my rolodex and dialed Lord Vitiate’s private number.
“I’m busy! Who is this?”
“Hi! My name is Sant Jara and I’m the psychotic bitch who just destroyed 71% of your spacebased infrastructure, several centuries worth of military hardware, and landed multiple nearly impervious giant monsters on your capital.”
“WHAT! Who… Why are you doing this. We didn’t attack you? I… my people are a peaceful-”
“Oh, can it, fuck face. I know you True Sith dickheads have been plotting against the Republic and the Jedi for a thousand years since you went into exile way out here. Interesting reading, back in the ruins of Korriban. Just came from there… well, after taking the Rakatan Star Forge out of commision.”
“Your ships aren’t Republican Ships!”
“No. They aren’t. They’re Magi. You’ve heard of the Magi, right? (thanks to the Civ jump, pretty much everyone had, in some way, heard of the legendary and long gone Magi).”
“You’re lying. The Magi have been extinct for a million years.”
“Eh. We got better. Anyway, I’m here on behalf of the Galactic Republic to accept your immediate, unconditional, and complete surrender. I will be landing in front of your palace in ten minutes, and any armed guard I see will be killed without warning. If you care about your people… no… never mind. You don’t. You’re Sith. You only care about revenge… never mind that if you’d just fucking played nice with the other kiddies they wouldn’t have exterminated your kind. 5000 years of hatred and plotting and all you’ll ever be remembered as is the bitches who were always on the wrong side of history. Empire after Empire you build and it always comes crashing down. Because you can’t be trusted. So tell your people to fucking stand down or I’ll vaporize an entire random Force-Damned sky-scraper for every weapon that so much as twitches in my direction.” My voice had grown steadily darker and harder edged as I was reminded of the unspeakable atrocities that the Dark Lords of the Sith would perpetrate on the Galaxy again and again and again. Proportional response for Taris weighed heavily on my thoughts… though I didn’t actually mean it. My Kaiju had gone after military targets and defensive installations, not civilian centers. I’m sure they’d squashed some non-combatants, unfortunately, but it really couldn’t be helped.
I dropped from orbit under my own power, swathed in Victoria and all the stealth systems and magic I could muster, blanking my Force Signature as well as I could, and cloaking myself from precognition. The palace was… nice enough, if a bit grim, and the guards, although clearly uneasy by my appearance, had also been told not to offer any insult.
A senior General appeared to guide me to “His Imperial Majesty” and I nodded, Victoria looking like nothing more than simple grey robes (at least she says they were grey… my force vision wasn’t in color). They could have been hot pink with polkadots and I wouldn’t know the difference. Nor, strictly speaking, would I have cared.
It’s easy not to be impressed when you’ve lived in palaces for thousands of years. It’s easy to become jaded. I don’t think I was, but I really hadn’t come to sightsee and the propaganda of the Sith Palace’s architecture failed to impress me. The throne room was… trite. Vitiate stood, seething, amid several dozen courtiers and functionaries. His mind was full of hate and his soul was as black as mine was frozen.
“You were a fool to come here, alone, unarmed.” He said, voice cruel and mocking. He drew his blade and descended the dias slowly, the crowd parting around him, giving him plenty of room to maneuver.
“Ah… here we see the classic NLF in action.” I drawled.
“N… L… F?” He asked, confused.
“No Lightsaber Fallacy.” I chuckled “You, of all people, should know how little such toys matter.” I held out one hand and Force Lightning played across my fingers… know something? Watching Return of the Jedi? Enough to allow CopyCat Technique to work… at least if you’re in a setting where it qualifies as “Historical Document” and not “Light Entertainment.”
“You’re not a Jedi. You should-”
“Join you? Hah. More like you should join me. I’m orders of magnitude more powerful than you and I have a muuuuch better health plan than the Darkside. At my side you could live forever and amass power the likes of which even you’ve never dreamed of.” I chuckled dryly, smug in my wit and condescension.
Vitiate blinked at me. Then his lightsaber shut off and he knelt. “How may I serve, my Master?” I… hadn’t actually meant it to be an invitation. Really. Honestly. I had not come to Dromund Kaas looking for a 3rd Emperor. But, I had spoken the absolute truth. As powerful as Vitiate was, he wasn’t nearly as powerful as many of my companions and the majority of them (18 to be exact) were an order of magnitude older than him and had survived… a lot.
Ooookay… not what I wanted… but… right… “You do realize that, by now, the only people who really know what the hell Sith even were are historians no one listens to and a bunch of Jedi who, truth be told, haven’t clue one. Your empire contains, far and away, the vast majority of active force users… by about 10 to 1, if I’m any good at guessing. The problem is… your people can’t be trusted.” I glanced around at the courtiers who were just beginning to get over their shock. “Look at these fuckers. Half of them are plotting how to betray you and the rest of them are plotting how to betray each other. So here’s what you’re gonna do.”
And that’s how I conquered the True Sith Empire, established meaningful reforms, opened up lines of trade with the Republic, and transformed the Sith into Grey Jedi. Took most of my remaining time, but… eh… I’ve always enjoyed civilization building… I wonder if there’s a Master of Orion Jump.
Oh. Revan got his memory back. Eventually showed up to kick some serious Emperor Butt, with the inimitable Meetra Surik in tow. I welcomed them to the Palace, where everyone knew to refer to me as “The Butler”, and gave them a tour. Vitiate, it turns out, knows a fuck ton about the Force. Waaaay more than anyone else living I suspect (when 1300 years old you are, look as good you will not.” I really didn’t like him (dude had gained immortality by absorbing the lifeforce of an entire damned planet), but he had… like… aaall the Sith Holocrons and if I was going to have any chance at stamping out this idiotic divide in the Force, it was going to be in this time and in this place.
In the end, I sent Revan back to his wife, assured that, in fact, the New Magi Concordance was no longer a threat to the Galactic Republic and wanted only peace and a chance to discuss ancient grievances like civilized people. Meetra, on the other hand, intrigued me deeply.
She was a walking void in the Force, but one she’d made of herself. When she’d made the fateful decision to end the Mandolorian War with the Mass Shadow Device, she’d been linked to most of the command staff of most of the Republican Fleet via Battle Meditation. She’d been bonded with all of them as they died, and… sadly… in the moment of their death, she’d closed herself off from the Force completely in order to preserve herself, entirely without realizing that’s what she’d done.
I convinced her to come with me to Malachor, to show me the terrible Wound in the Force, to confront what had happened, and there we used the Mass Shadow Device to permanently destroy itself and Malachor’s shattered remains, sealing the wound and allowing Meetra to come to terms with her massive case of survivor’s guilt. She needed waaay more therapy than a couple years could provide if she was going to make a complete recovery, and so I invited her to come along as well. It seemed a fitting balance.
In the last year of the decade, in the year that would eventually become known as 3951 BBY, a human explorer named Kwilaan discovered the planet Naboo and established a small colony there. I figured that was as good a beach as any, and, just outside of the settlement of Thead, me and my companions old and new, waited on the end of an era. Meetra, very drunk, and Vitiate, eyes twinkling, watched in amazement as the Pillars of Time rose from the sands of Naboo and the Universe froze around them.
Vitiate chuckled as he stepped into the warehouse, though Zane had to help carry Miss Sulik. “Excellent.” Vitiate chuckled, smiling as he looked around the extradimensional space of the Warehouse. “And you say-”
He never finished the sentence. As the connection between his universe and the Warehouse ended I materialized Soul of Ice and cut him down, running the blade not just through his heart, but through the center of his very soul. I looked up into his eyes as the color returned to my vision and hissed “As if I’d ever… ever… grant eternity to scum like you. I just had to get you somewhere where the Force was meaningless, you murderous, genocidal, sociopathic fuckhead. It’s not enough to abandon you on some primitive world, or to banish you to a hell dimension. You’re so fond of those… festering boils that the Sith made? Well, good. Because you’re going to spend the rest of time trapped inside one.” And I pulled the very lifeforce from him and sealed his very essence inside a holocron I’d prepared just for that very occasion. Then I sealed it in a layer of hyperice and stuck it… ah… but that would be telling.
“Someone get Meetra to the bathroom, she’s about to be…. Never mind. Cleanup, Aisle seventeen.”
Next: World 52 – Of Hosts and Hostages
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