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Shades of grey (Star Wars SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Pef, Aug 6, 2019.

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  1. MasterOfDragonsGod

    MasterOfDragonsGod Versed in the lewd.

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  2. Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    ... Please, stop saying that...in public.
     
  3. Billiskner

    Billiskner Making the rounds.

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    We all can see you are hard at work here.

    Oh. And did you add that part about murricas recent president in the newest edit?
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
    Pef likes this.
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    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Commenor system, Celestial Throne space station.
    Grey Paladins level
    12 BBY, 3 months later


    "So you're saying you don't have enough people, Mister Grey?" I asked the leader of the Paladins, a bit amused.

    "Well, two million Paladins seems a large number, but we can barely cover the larger planets and hyperroutes. And the droids aren't really helping, except as decoys and distractions. I would be happier with a billion clone troopers." the clone of Falon Grey replied, his voice a bit tired.

    Hmmm. He was working himself too hard, trying to oversee every single operation, and the training of new recruits and the budget and everything else.

    "Well, I did consider a cloning program, for many jobs, including the paladin program. But as you have already experienced, we would have a caste of slaves, and depend on them for security. Didn't end that well for the Jedi, did it?" I mused with an inner frown.

    "Yeah...I didn't mean it like that, Emperor. I just want competent Paladins. And the miraluka recruits are not. The droids are even worse. I have to rely on what Fett clones have survived, and the few Gand or Sanctuary recruits. And even those aren't exactly competent..." X2 complained, as went through the Paladin databanks, and compared dossiers.

    Top 100 in all the scores were the former ARC troopers that became Mandalorians and a few VSS agents detached to the Paladins for actual combat experience.

    "I will ask, maybe more Sanctuary or Zeison Sha adepts will decide to join the Paladins. But, don't expect miracles, X2. The job will only get harder, and the rewards for a job well done..."

    "More work. I know this, Emperor Pef. The galaxy is a mess, with deep rooted hatreds and a thousand cults taking advantage of every force-sensitive they convert to claim miracles..." he explained, pointing at the latest such problem.

    "Well, my personal opinion on every type of cult is simple. I consider all priests from any cult either fanatic or corrupt. In the end, it's only a matter of practically. Political power, the laws and weapons are mine to have and to delegate. If any cult infringes on the domain of the government, then they shall suffer the consequences. Their personal beliefs in whatever god or ethic are irrelevant." I explained with a sterner voice.

    This comment was partially directed at his second in command, the original Fallon Grey, a former Jedi Knight. He looked at me a bit surprised, as if separating beliefs from government was something new or original.

    "But, those cults are preaching unspeakable things, and instigating revolts against the Empire. How can they be irrelevant?" Mister Grey asked naively.

    "It doesn't matter what they say or how loud they yell, unless it's at night and they wake people up, Mister Grey. I only care about their actions, if they dare to act.
    Stupidity and credulity are the basic rights of any sentients, and there will always be those who take advantage.
    Your duties are to enforce the Empire laws, not to debate dogmas and creeds with 20 million species and beliefs. Extortion is a crime, kidnapping is a crime, slavery and mental coercion even worse crimes. Target the criminals, and expose the lawbreakers to the Empire justice." I replied with another inner sigh.
    I had my assassins going about and exterminating the most dangerous cults anyway, those with access to weapons and political power. The rest were easy enough to just keep watch over.

    "But they keep hiding behind local customs and their autonomy rights. We can't just arrest someone for taking children into their temples..." X2 explained with a frown. Huh, that's exactly your job.

    "The Empire laws are not a matter of choice, my Paladins. It is the exact opposite, in fact. These cults propose themselves as paragons of virtue and still extort populations of their money or children. Your job is to intervene and protect the citizens, from any such lawbreakers. The only exception from this are my agents, be they from Office Assassinorum, or the Intelligence or other army and navy employees, who were specifically exempt from some laws in the execution of their orders. The same as the Paladins are exempt, when in the service of the Empire. If any such customs are contrary to the law, too bad for them." I said with a level tone, then punched the sky for a second, before teleporting away.

    And back on Centerpoint, where a few of my Voices had gathered in their own little conclave.

    "Hello ladies. And Ray. You're not a Voice, I think..." I said with an amused voice.

    "The Tsil want to test the light on the Mnggal. If a controlled experiment can be achieved, perhaps on a single individual..." my Tsil crystal maid replied without any telepathic stories.

    So, something changed...somewhere. Gah, dealing with alien minds was difficult anyway.

    "Denied for now, dear maid. The Mnggal is potentially much more dangerous than the droch, and we do not have strategic counter-measures yet, should this action provoke it. I'm almost certain that even remote individuals are connected to the main body in some way, either through the Force or with technological means. And if that world had a Gree gate, the Mngall could use it to spread anywhere." I replied with a bit of concern.

    Didn't happen for at least 140 years in the other future, so it shouldn't happen now either.

    Proof that whatever the thing was, it wasn't a hegemonizing swarm like the Vong, but a more subtle design, aimed at something specific, possibly the Celestials. The histories never said how the Rakata had defeated them, and it certainly wasn't with ships. Just the Centerpoint station could have destroyed a million ships easily, or not as easy, depending how inventive the user was.

    I had my own theory how they did it, with a nanomachine AI infused with the Force, similar to the nanobots I found on Tatooine, since the Mnggal operated in a similar way, attacking the brain of its target first.

    I could try to rely on technopathy, and attempt to subvert the grey goo. Only problem was, what if the thing was stronger than me?

    "You're thinking of going yourself, aren't you Pef?" Wialu asked rhetorically. I wasn't hiding my partitions from her, not most of them anyway.

    "It's not worth the risk, for now. We'll make the general location and danger of the thing available to our officials and designate it as Gamma threat. As long as no one goes to poke it, it will keep for a hundred years. But meanwhile, we have the Vong and our southern friends to deal with. It's going to be epic!" I proclaimed with fake hope.

    Even in the most optimistic simulations, there could be trillions of deaths, and billions already, on the worlds already conquered by the Vong in the north.

    Droids and Explorers were searching for the north passage though the hyperspace barrier, trying to map it and allow us knowledge of a choke point to engage the Vong before they dispersed the main fleets into the galaxy.

    That was the Thermopylae plan and had the best possible outcome, if it succeeded. Only Navy crew would die in that fight,
    and fewer citizens deaths from invasions, orbital moon drops, or bioweapons.

    Actually, let's test something.

    "I'm sending orders to our fake miners in the Bimmiel system to start deploying several types of explosives, including seismic charges in the asteroid fields. About one hundred to one real asteroids and Vong ships." I explained out loud while doing exactly that.

    I had a hunch that seismic charges would damage the Vong ships much more than energy weapons would.

    And waiting...boom. Concussion explosives did little, only rupturing the Vong starfighters, while the diamond-boron warheads pulverized the fighters and holed the Vong frigates. But the real surprise...

    Hundreds of small Vong ships were sliced into bits by the planar shockwaves of the seismic weapons, while their equivalent of a Meteor battleship, called Kor Chokk , took a few heavy blows and lost a dozen of its spires to every charge that hit them.

    Barely damaged the thick armor, leaving deep gouges, but it sure rattled everything inside.

    My estimates of their capital ships bioarmor durability went up a magnitude, while the frigate classes seemed easier to smash than an iron asteroid of the same size.

    Anyway, seems I found the perfect payload for the assault missiles of tomorrow. The Seismic charge was much better for most ship-to-ship action than concussion payloads of the same dimensions.

    Of course, the warhead was a thousand times more expensive than concussion explosives as well, half of that due to rarity, the other half due to the minerals and precision work required to manufacture them.

    Now the Vong were stirred into action, launching more fighters to attack the miners, while the larger ships accelerated upwards, above the asteroid belt. Hmmm. Good spacial senses then, though unsure if only this commander or all their officers were as competent.

    The fake miners started running away, calling on the Empire Navy to help, on all frequencies.

    'Go ahead Admiral. Show me what your Manta dreadnaught can do' I sent through the hypernet relay to Natasi Daala Greyshade.

    Her own battlegroup, which was on a 'shake down cruise' following the newest refit jumped to the rescue, a dozen corvettes acting to 'save' the miners, while her dreadnaught and its Hammers and Nebula escorts opened fire on the Vong dreadnaught.

    As expected, turbolasers had little effect, while masers and plasma projectors did twice as good. Ion weapons were 99% ineffective, only the byproduct of ionized plasma scorching the bioarmor, very little.

    The MAC rounds and the proton beams however opened fire a minute later, while the Vong began firing globes of molten metal and plasma.

    The Hammers did hole the Vong armor with every round, but with little effect, leaving hundreds of one meters holes, venting gas and blood.

    The Manta's MAC rounds however, were ten meters in diameter and a kilometers wide semi-sphere on the Vong ship evaporated after taking about 50 hits, while two others organs were broken away, and left listing in vacuum, with fluids and bodies being expelled out by the huge decompression.

    And then the proton beams started firing as the Vong ships began turning to run away.

    Every beam burned through the armor in milliseconds, then began slicing away. In a minute, the huge Vong bio dreadnaught was chopped down into thin slices, about 50 centimeter in width, which was the distance between the twin barrels of the proton beam batteries.

    I checked the shields of my ships for a comparative damage analysis. Each big weapon salvo from the Kor Chokk dreadnaught drained about one percent on the Nebula destroyer's shields, and less than a thousand of percent on the Hammer's.

    The smaller weapons didn't even flicker the shields, so they were perhaps anti-fighter guns.

    Huh, so in theory a Nebula V destroyer could take down a Vong dreadnaught on its own, if it focused its main proton batteries on the big ship and didn't take too much fire from other ships.

    The Hammers II had ten batteries, so again, could in theory take down ten of the Vong ships of the same size at once.

    A new era was starting in the galaxy, peace through superior firepower.

    Yavin system
    Yavin 4, Val'Arnos Jungle


    I should have come here sooner, although I might not have been prepared to solve the difficult Force phenomenons surrounding Yavin.

    Exar Kun left his spirit here, along with artifacts like the Golden Globe.

    A tiny Jedi Master named Ikrit had placed himself in stasis to guard the 4 meter globe, as he hoped to free the souls of the Massassi younglings trapped in the soul snare by Exar Kun, and set himself to wait a long time for someone to help.

    Nearly 400 years later he was still here, in stasis. Not really clever, but this was possibly something the Force wanted done, so I won't deny the Will of the Force its goals. Just not right away, I wanted to study and learn everything about this globe first.

    Another marvelous invention, this Golden Globe , so similar in scope and function to the Mind Prison of the Rakata, and the essence draining ball of the Nightsisters, and even the Ordu Aspectu soul snares.

    But that was less important, as I already had knowledge on how to drain souls, if necessary.

    Exar Kun had left the globe protected by a Force barrier, tied to the globe in a rather complex pattern, much like the Rakata forcefield.

    Finally, I knew how to build my own variant of a Force shield, using a modified soul snare to conduct the Force. Not exactly a holocron, and writing operating instructions for the device had to be done in latin, to invoke some kind of mystical ancient memetic superstition from the Force, and thus making it alchemy.

    Overly complex and not easy to operate unless you built it yourself. But, it still contained the reflect ability, and a single powerful user's soul like Jarec or any dark jedi Master could power it for thousands of years.

    "Mister Ikrit, wake up!. Hey little guy, time to go home..." I called out gently to the furry Jedi Master.

    Seems I'm going to keep finding old jedi in stasis, as if I didn't found enough already.

    At least he was the type who didn't use lightsabers, so there was hope for him.

    "Hello stranger. Why did you wake me up?" the white rabbit asked me.

    "I need your help, Mister Ikrit. You know the Wall of light ability, and we have the spirit of a Sith Lord called Exar Kun which needs to be defeated." I explained with an amused tone.

    This Ikrit was never a good Jedi, no matter how hard Yoda had tried to brainwash him.

    "Ah. That makes some sense then. I feel that he was the one who constructed this globe..." the tiny furry Master replied with a cute blink.

    Man, he was really cute. I should keep him, on Sanctuary. The kids would love him.

    "The spirit should be somewhere east of the ruins of the Sith Temple of Sacrifice. Come, take my hand, we'll teleport there and save some time" I replied in a happy mood.

    And beam us up, my Dart.

    "What is this ship? It feels strange in the Force, almost alive..." Ikrit asked curious, looking around the Dart for clues.

    "A friend of mine made it, using a hundred different force abilities. It's called the Dart." I said with a mild voice, as the ship located the required ruins and beamed us down again.

    And there it was the spirit of Exar Kun, 300 meters east, and wandering the surface of Yavin 4, bound to the planet by his own magic. So clever in some ways and so dumb in others...

    "You sense him, my friend?" I asked curious, as the Kushiban Master's fluffy ears perked up and he turned east as well.

    "I do now. But friend? I don't even know your name, or what you are..." the tiny thing replied with an amused tone.

    "Pef Greyshade. Sentient crystal using a droid to walk around." I replied with a happy voice, while preparing counter-measures, should the spirit be awake or hostile.

    "Well then, Mister Pef...you seem strong enough to banish the spirit by yourself...okay then, open your mind, picture the location of spirit in your mindscape, and draw from the light, and sever" the Jedi Master said softly, taking control of the partition I left open, and guiding me step by step.

    Hey, this was a great way to learn force abilities! Sure, it involved mind control and a hive mind connection, plus enough force connection to bend the Force to your will...

    A blue light prison appeared around the Sith spirit, and the Jedi Master kept adding more and more demands on my partition, using about a dozen abilities at once, and straining my life crystal as the ability grew in amplitude and depth, and kept growing. And growing.

    Is this really necessary? I could sear the entire planet now, if you draw this strongly...

    And Sever Force was really a trump card, which could possibly solve a few other problems...

    And done. Once cut off from the Force, the spirit dissipated and vanished.

    "You're not even tired, Mister Pef..." the tiny Jedi complained as he nearly fainted and I kept him afloat with telekinesis.

    "Why would I be tired, you only used one partition and for half its maximum strength. I think you used too much anyway.
    That spirit was not that strong anyway..." I explained politely, as my Codex registered only 5000 points on its Force sensors.

    "You don't understand. To sever someone completely, you need to be ten times stronger, by yourself or a group. And that spirit was about half strength as me. Which means the rest of the strength came from you, Mister Pef. Even if a disembodied spirit is half as strong as when it was alive, it still means you're stupidly strong..." the tiny Kushiban replied, while his fur changed color from white to a pale grey.

    "Yep, I am reasonably strong. But as you showed us today, skill is more important. Well then, I'll let you rest, and get a meal and a bath. My maids are due to return when they had enough fun exploring, and this ship only has one jacuzzi tub." I answered with utmost seriousness.

    One simply did not stand between Solana and her baths.

    'You are learning, tolerated Emperor. But I am swimming with some of the Melodie on Yavin 8, so I'm good.' Solana whispered in the Voice bond.

    Nam Chorios system, Pef Empire
    Gamma class quarantine world
    12 BBY, Next month


    I used the vacation time on Yavin to study the Wall of light ability in detail, untill I felt confident I mastered the focusing and targeting solution, then worked with Ray to synchronize our resonance to work in concert.

    "Balanced One, using self identity as a targeting exclusion will exterminate all lifeforms in the star system. The Tsil...are willing to try. If you agree to leave before we start. A planet wide Light will sear even your soul, and yourself might be extinguished. Unless you believe yourself stronger than all Tsil crystals combined?" Sunshine-seen-through-mist declared with a cloud of telepathic symbols, describing her own words, but much more clearly.

    Hmmm, I might try it...

    'And die like a fool, my love. The Wall of Light is not just photonic manipulation, and you should know better Pef. To affect souls, any force ability must be at least partly combined with the Cosmic Force. It will disconnect you again, even if you survive it, just like the Jedha crystals did.' Wialu whispered in the bond, with a tinge of worry.

    Fine, I won't stay for the experiment then.

    "Ray, you might die too. Would you like to be my Voice?" I asked my maid, with a sad image in mind, of a whole planet vanishing into an apocalyptic beam of light.

    "Emperor Pef, go and save yourself. Or did you think Ray was idle and did not reverse-engineer the essence transfer ability, once Solanus showed me how it worked?" my Tsil maid replied with an amused thought-form.

    Uh, that was...rather ingenious. And a bit worrying. I kinda hoped to maintain a loyalty check with it.

    'And yet, Solanus thinks the Tsil will have a different role to play. Solana thinks her lover is much too young to deserve loyalty, from beings much older than himself...' my water maid replied with an admonishing tinge in her Voice.

    I see, maybe it was somewhat presumptuous to try and anchor all the major force-sensitive races to myself.

    'Ok Dart, jump us out towards Jomark.'

    And let's watch the lightshow with the spy satellites.

    Slowly, the entire race of Tsil crystals which maintained a diffuse light over the whole surface of Nam Chorios began the link up together in a single hive mind focused by Ray, and then, a flash of Light strong enough to warm my crystal even a few light-years away, and in hyperspace.

    The planet became a second sun in the photosensors of my satellites, and a Force nexus so powerful that anything even mildly force-sensitive, would feel anywhere in the galaxy.

    My Avatar felt it like warm golden glow, basking him with radiance on Commenor, 30 thousands light years.
    Lustrum felt it even stronger, on Orax, 80 thousand light years away. Then again, she was herself a crystal Shard, so it possibly affected crystals even more.

    After 12 minutes, the glow began subsiding, and a few droid dropships from the quarantine fleet began approaching the planet, scanners and sensors at maximum.

    Every single town and structure on the surface of Nam Chorios had vanished, and even water wells and the spaceport foundations had been sublimated.

    Nothing alive remained on the planet, except the Tsil. The excluded themselves from the Wall of Light and simply erased everything else. One could never be certain if plants or animals were real or droch parasites masquerading.

    Sure you could test one individual, or a certain animal. But an entire ecosystem meant trillions of different organisms, all potentially being infected by the droch.

    Now, they were all dead. Microorganisms, insects, worms, plants, farm animals, everything.

    Much like Emperor Vitiate did on Ziost, only using the light side of the force.

    And this version seemed even stronger. There was no machinery remains, no ancient temples, no fossilized trees.

    The entire balance in the galaxy slided a bit more towards the middle. Perhaps 1 percent, but possibly less. There were many more dark places in the galaxy after all.

    'Culexus 0113, deploy to the surface via disposable recon drop pod, and restore communication with the Tsil.' I commanded after the force oscillations stopped. At least this time, they weren't painful in my chest.

    'Roger, Droid Emperor. This unit will deploy in 38 seconds' the droid replied instantly over the hypernet relay.

    'Dart, stop and turn around. Pick the farthest exit point available in the Nam Chorios system.'

    This was the most interesting ability imbued into the Dart spaceship by Solanus. The AI pilot had mastered hyperspace navigation to a degree not possible for astromechs or sentient pilots.

    It was called Instinctive Astrogation Control and requiered mastering hypermathematics and the ability to perform them at high speed and with perfect precision.

    Not something I would entrust myself to with an organic pilot. Luckily the Dart was less organic than even me, even though it was an off-shoot of Solanus, in crystallized form. And I wouldn't call Solanus an organic being, except in the most vague of terms anyway.

    And the next iteration of Solanus was going to be magnitudes stronger anyway, as the future Dyson spheres will contain the Core on the outer computronium layers, and Solanus as a huge inner ocean.
    Balancing the organic and the synthetic again, and adding the Solanus' Force abilities in the mix, just to make sure.

    The Core AI has already began technological transmutation for various types of matter states, creating Ardanium II , a synthesized form of Ardanium, which while a 10 times weaker in strength, was no longer a precious irreplaceable resource and could be mass produced.

    All our ships, from fighters to corvettes and frigates to Hammers, and even tanks and gunships will have Ardanium based reactors in the future, thus increasing their energy generation by 10 to 100 times depending on reactor volume.

    Not as good as the natural product, but that was on much less supply, and only powered the Mountain II dreadnaughts, the Nebula V destroyers and the Titan V walkers.

    Now I could afford to begin using organics for pilots on less armored war machines, and depend on shields to keep them safe.

    Though possibly not on Biplanes and TIE fighters, which were too flimsy even with shields.

    It was ground combat which caused most loses anyway, since combat droids were easily outmatched by various races and their clever tactics, unless you had overwhelming numerical superiority. Not always possible, although I tried.

    Proton beams were too energy intesive and required massive reactors, but I had hope the now prototyping Heavy particle cannon would become the next main weapon of our tank units.

    The next generation of Gauntlet V tanks will pack a punch, and have duranium armor and tracks, and powerful shields and reactors, comparable to current Baneblades, but 10 times faster.

    And the Baneblades heavy tanks will become even stronger, doubling their speed and increase their durability and rate of fire ten times.

    'Hello Pef. Our world is a desert now. But at least, we saved it from being thrown into a blackhole.' Ray sent as my droid reached the ground with a hypernet transceiver.

    'Begin conducting tests my maid, and excavate any caves or formations that might have protected the droch from the light. I'm en route to help as well.' I sent back, as the Dart was approaching the hyperspace emergence window.

    'We'll need droids and tractor beams and other tools, oh Balanced Emperor. Our telekinesis is much weaker than you expect...' Ray replied with a bit of amusement.

    Right, only one droid so far. No problem, I had 100 Mountains loaded with 100 billion droids en route to Nam Chorios.

    We'll scour the planet, and sift every single grain of sand, turn every rock and scrape the walls of every cave.

    If a single droch survived, we'll repeat the Wall of Light...hmmm.
    'Do it again my Tsil friends. But this time try to target only the droch. And use Sever too.' I sent back, since my ship was still about 20 minutes away.

    Best make sure, before all my droids and nano-droids land. It be a pity to waste them due to impatience.

    'And so you learn, tolerated Emperor. Solana was ready to make fun of you once you became trapped in your own quarantine' my wonderful Voice commented wisely.

    'Gah, just say something, if you knew some droch escaped.'

    'It was inevitable a few droch would escape. The Tsil are not executioners. Do not expect them to be as thorough as you would be.' Luxum added with a mild annoyance in her aura.

    Most likely annoyed at me.

    What, I just wanted....pain....So, that how it felt when an entire race was eliminated from the Force.
    I made sure to memorize the feeling. I will need to feel this again, someday.

    There were other races which needed complete extinction. In some cases, I will make a desert, and call it peace.

    Manta battlegroup, Pef Navy fleet 112
    Somewhere north of Birgis system
    11 BBY


    Natasi Daala Greyshade was worried. The Emperor has entrusted her an important task, to find and engage a Vong worldship and thus eliminate a major threat to the galaxy.

    Her experience in the west, as well as many anti-piracy strikes and coordinating large fleets via her neural implant made her one of the best suited officers in the Pef Navy, for this task.

    She had enormous firepower at her disposal, and an AI to help her. But still, she was worried.

    Compared to everything she has faced till now, this battle would be the most unpredictable. The enemy disposition and strength were unknown.

    Their numbers were simply 'large' and weapons abilities poorly understood, generally equivalated with 4 times stronger than the Galactic Empire's weapons, per ship size.

    She felt she was being used as bait, if 50 capital ships and 1000 escorts could be considered bait by any other navy beside her own. Still, Natasi had an inlinking of the other Pef Navy fleets in the sector, and they were all at least 10 times larger.

    Then again, she had the Manta. The dreadnaught was technically worth 5 fleets on its own.

    "Are we bait, dear Will?" she asked in a soft whisper. The AI felt less as a subordinate, and more as a friend now, after years of campaigns over a quarter of a galaxy.

    "I think the Emperor is doing his weird plans again, possibly testing you and me, as well as the new systems and weapons we had received. But most likely, our size is the clue. The Manta's large size would make the Vong warriors feel they have found a worthy enemy, and make them attack us frontally" the AI replied calmly.

    Hmmm. As always, the Will thought of different aspects of their operation, considering details she would have never crossed her mind. Size?

    Was a 50 kilometer ship worthy in the eyes of the Vong, with their 100 kilometer ships?

    And if so, how would they react? Will they flee or hide, as they tried in the first skirmish near Bimmiel?

    "Admiral, our gravitic sensors have picked up a cloaked ship, skimming the edges of our sensors" Ensign Tyron reported from his station.

    "What size for the cloaking shadows, Ensign?" she asked with a bit of excitement.

    "Roughly 200 meters, Admiral. It is very likely a Yorik-stronha spy ship. It is heading west-north-west, on a heading to Helska system" the man answered with a young voice.

    Everyone was young on this ship, although most were already veterans. Fighting on the western front produced veterans or gibberish madmen. And the younger ones adapted faster.

    Again, the Vong were using a hyper route not yet discovered by the Exploration Corps, much like the Ssi-ruuvi did in the west.

    "Findsman Licriit, can you confirm this heading?" Admiral Daala asked her Navigator, one of the rare Gand that came as a perk, doubling as a VSS escort. Marrying the Avatar had many perks, not just a big ship and her own fleet.

    "You know we cannot sense the Vong directly, Honored Maid. But, there are traces of what should be flat real-space, and dangerless currents. I sense danger, and space particles being pushed away. Something bigger has passed through this nebula before. Perhaps a Vua'spar interdictor." the Gand Findsman replied after sniffing some gas from his pouch.

    An interdictor ship? This meant a large fleet was nearby. Even the Vong used some kind of convention when deploying ships.

    Interdictors meant they were fishing for prey, and that sufficient ships were nearby to capitalize on a caught ship, be it civilian or not.

    The Praetorite Vong , the advance fleets already present in the galaxy, were getting bolder, often attacking anyone they thought had spotted them.

    Jump to Helska or remain in the nebula and investigate more thoroughly?

    "Will, what do you think?" she whispered again, although she already made her decision.

    "Backtrace the interdictor ship's path. I think we have found our target" the AI replied with some amusement.

    "Recon, deploy a Fade and twelve Orions east-south-east of our position. Capital ships will form up for a fleet scale microjump. Mountains, ready your starfighters. Hammers....just get ready. Escorts, prepare for combat." Natasi spoke gently on the tacnet.

    Now she wished her fleet had a thousand Nebula V destroyers, not just 100 Nebula I and II. She did have 6 Mountains and 45 Hammers, more than enough for anything the Praetorite Vong should have, but in war nothing was certain.

    And now waiting, while the recon elements backtracked the faint currents left in the gases of the nebula by the passing Vong ships. This was often, the hardest part.

    Nerves would fray, and the unknown would erode morale and sour the mood.

    Nothing she could do about it, not now.

    One hour, three hours, six hours. How long...?

    "HMS Stepping Stone reporting. We have found a yarn ball of ships, Admiral. At least a thousand. 44 Vong dreadnaughts, but no worldship present. Transmitting sensor data now" the Captain of the Fade frigate spoke in an excited voice as his ship arrived to the fleet's location.

    She opened the hologram, and began formulating an attack plan.

    Damn it. Arranged like that, aptly put as a yarn ball, the Vong would be hard to ambush.

    Alright then, a wall of fire it will be.

    With two hand moves inside the tactical holomap, her own fleet began forming into a square, with the corvettes in a second layer, behind the capital ships.

    They should help a little with the Vong fighters, although the Nebula destroyers should be enough.

    When the Emperor built ships, they were a real wonder of firepower. Too bad these ships were old star destroyers of the Galactic Republic, only having a few maser batteries and no proton beams.

    Still 10 times better than old Venators or Victory destroyers, but barely usable against the Vong. She only had 3 Nebula V destroyers, barely enough to anchor a single side. The upper side of the square in this case, considering how the Vong prefered to gain an upper angle on their enemies.

    Admiral Daala tapped 'confirm' twice, and leaned back in her command chair. The AI will know what to do now.

    "Manta fleet will prepare to jump on these coordinates, on the countdown mark. 100, 99.." The AI began speaking then, taking over the nav computers on every ship in the fleet, to ensure their formation and attack angle was correct.

    If the Vong fleet hasn't moved significantly, they will achieve at least tactical positioning and perhaps some surprise.
    Couldn't be sure of that anyway. For every spy ship they did detect, two others might have passed nearby undetected.

    And jump. 4 hours at 3.0 hyperspeed. She could get some sleep, at least 3 hours. Maybe something to eat?

    "At ease everyone. Rotate out and get some food." Natasi ordered as she rose from her command seat and left the CIC bridge.

    Maybe she could place a holocom call, to her scoundrel of a husband. She might die in this battle, and never see his smile again...
     
  5. Threadmarks: 75
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Obsidian nebula, Galactic North space
    On board HMS Manta
    11 BBY, 4 hours later.


    A wall of fire and light began in the first seconds after the hyperjump emergence, her own ship becoming the main target for the Vong dreadnaughts, and returning fire equally.

    Although it would have been possible to concentrate all her fourty proton beams batteries on the Manta on a single Vong capital ship and dismantle it in seconds, that would have meant that the remaining 43 Vong dreadnaughts called Kor Chokk by their race, would have been free to engage the smaller ships in her own fleet, and very likely eliminate them before they could be eliminated in turn.

    Like this, she kept the attention of 90 percent of the Vong capital ships on her own dreadnaught, which had enough shields and armor to tank perhaps twice this many ships for hours.

    The Mountains and the Hammers opened fire with their MAC guns, and heavy masser batteries, always in groups of three, and on the same target per each formation.

    Thousands of coralskippers began launching from the Vong ships, these being the equivalent of starfighters, but each carrying 4 times the firepower of a Preybird, and 6 times the firepower of a TIE fighter. They fired molten rocks, which dealt high damage, especially to particle and thermal shields, and mostly ignored ray shields.

    A more outdated fleet, with the standard shielding would have been forced to retreat just from these tiny fighters, as they would have targeted the superstructures on the Republic or Galactic Navy ships, and blew away sensors, turrets and bridges with impunity.

    Now, the Emperor was wise and blessed with precognition, and thus her fleet was not only equipped with 3S and 4S shields, but also thick armor, quadranium plates 20 meters thick, and durasteel over it, for the older classes of Nebula destroyers, and 50 meters of duranium for the Pef Navy battleships and the Nebula V.

    The three Nebula V destroyers in the upper side of the square were also concentrating their proton batteries on the Vong dreadnaughts, 12 proton beams slicing through the bioarmor of the lead Vong dreadnaught.

    The Manta was being shook constantly by converging fire from 40 Vong dreadnaughts, and the AI diverged power from two more Ardanium reactors towards the shields.

    The sublight engines were relegated to a secondary backup reactor, and being merely used to position and angle the ship for better fire angles. They weren't chasing anyone right now, and the huge plasma and rock projectiles of the Vong were straining her ship's shields, as intended.

    'That's right, you alien scum! Focus on me, and don't mind the other ships' Natasi thought to herself, while keeping an eye for the outgoing damage.

    The Will was directing the Manta's proton beam batteries on the thin necks connecting the half-spheres of the Vong dreadnaughts, and once separated from the main bioship, targeted each with a duo of the MAC diamond-tipped ferrous slugs.
    The first was meant to deplete the dovin basal gravity shielding, then the other would pierce right through, and rupture the bioarmor, thus exposing the soft flesh inside to vacuum, and maser or turbolaser fire.

    All this happened at once, with forty heavy targets and kept the attention of the Vong armada on the Manta.
    Not all of it, but at least the heavy hitters.

    The Hammers began their run, accelerating on the flanks and destroying the smaller Vong cruisers with a single concentrated salvo from their heavy and megamaser batteries, while their proton beam batteries continued to fire on the Vong dreadnaughts.

    Thousands of her own starfighters began launching from the Mountains, a percent of them being remotely controlled by organic pilots deep inside the carriers.

    They would attempt to force the coralskippers to engage them at the edge of the AA bateries range, thus letting the targeting computers and the AI pick them up with missiles and gatling masers and lasers.

    Tractors beams helped a little to slow the coralskippers down, but weren't as effective as they would be against normal starfighters. They each had a dovin basal lifeform, used for propulsion and shielding, and thus making them slippery and able to escape tractor beams after a few seconds of gravity waves oscillations.

    Still, even two seconds was often too long, in a high speed chase. The coralskippers began evaporating, as the Nebula destroyers could target them with medium masers and turbolasers, and weapons meant to engage corvettes and frigates were just enough to blow up a coralskipper, in a few shots.

    All that remained was more gas, thickening the gas nebula and earning the destroyers their class name.

    "We're at the turning point now, Admiral. 20 Vong dreadnaughts have been destroyed. Their remaining frigates and cruisers are emitting more energy. I suspect they're trying to retreat" her tactical officer commented with a wavering voice.

    Natasi Daala Greyshade smiled wryly. A retreat was pretty unlikely, with the Hammers and their Nebula escorts now englobing the Vong fleet from four sides.

    No, they will attempt...ramming.

    "All ships, prepare to receive rammers. Gravity wells to maximum" she commanded on the tacnet. It was amazing how clear the signals were, unlike other battles, since even pirates had sensor baffles.

    The Vong jamming was quite weak, and mostly affected the Republic made destroyers, since the Pef Navy used a least three types of comms and sensors, a third of them based on different crystals.

    Whoever the Vong were optimized to fight, were pure technical ships, based on electronics and electricity, like those Abominor droids in the database.

    The Fades and the Orions went into stealth mode, then changed course, while the Mountains and the Hammers began turning 10 degrees left and closing their armored maws.
    However, the ramming target were not the small ships, nor the battleships, but the destroyers.

    50 Nebula I and II were damaged or outright destroyed when the Vong ships crashed into them. The other Vong escorts were hit by proton batteries and other secondary weapons before they could aim themselves properly.

    Admiral Greyshade sighed inward. Her flawless victory was ruined now.

    Even with the much reduced crew on the Nebula class destroyers, 50 ships meant 50 thousand people. Perhaps less, since the upgraded ships had multiple bulkheads and redundant life support.

    No time for that, there were still 20 Vong Kor Chokk dreadnaughts to defeat, and dozens of weapons to be tested in real combat.

    Proton torpedoes, proton bombs, the Defoliator bombs, Bafforr tree pollen bombs, and many others.

    Once the Vong dreadnaughts were crippled, it was time for weapon testing. What works, how it works, combination of weapons effects, and hundreds of other experiments.

    The Pef Navy's weapon designers wanted live testing, and an isolated Vong fleet was the perfect testing ground.

    A few seconds later, the mangled wrecks of the Nebula destroyers began vanishing, no doubt due to Emperor's mercy.

    Pef was not going to let the salvageable crew on the ships die, when he could simply yank them inside his Centerpoint station and nurse them back to health. Perhaps even resurrecting the dead, as he was rumoured to have done before.

    She doubted it a little. Not the possibility, but the expenditure of effort. The Voices or other Maids, were a more likely recipient of resurrection than simple navy crew. Then again, with Emperor Pef, you never knew.

    "Leave the one to the right alone, Will. We should always leave a survivor to tell the rest what awaits them." Natasi said with a cold voice. She didn't like this policy, as it gave the enemy too much information to regroup and find new attack avenues.

    Then again, the Vong had telepaths and even planetary scale brains, like Helska IV was presumed to have.
    They already knew what happened. Perhaps this was something else again.
    Some kind of intricate 20 steps plan of the Emperor.

    Using this battle to bait the Vong armada waiting outside the galaxy to do something foolish, perhaps.

    "All targets eliminated, Admiral. A single dreadnaught remains, with half of its spheres intact." the Ensign on the sensors reported a few minutes later.

    She checked the stats of her Manta. Shield generators and capacitors were recharging, although they went down to 60 percent at the height of the battle.

    Total loses, 14 shield penetrations, and 12 turrets damaged, on her flagship.

    Over all, 344 starfighters lost, 23 Dakka corvettes and 51 Nebula destroyers. 0.5 percent casualties to a Vong fleet comparable to her own, in size and capital ships numbers.

    So, this was the message the Emperor wanted to send the Vong.

    Send a hundred times more ships, this was merely a lovetap.

    'Well done, dear maid. Set course to Belkadan. Reinforcements await you there.' Emperor Pef transmitted via the holonet,
    a holographic hand ruffling her hair before vanishing.

    Natasi arranged her hair back, while her officers smiled in concert.
    Holograms were not supposed to touch you...damn magic powers.

    Belkadan system, Pef Empire
    11 BBY


    "Nice to meet you Admiral" the small Dornean Admiral quiped at her in an attempt at joviality.

    "Same here Admiral. Now, do you have more ships, or is this it?" Natasi asked with a frown. She had expected at real war fleet, perhaps similar to the one she commanded in the final battle for Lwhekk, the Ssi-ruu homeworld.

    Then again, those Narwhal ships...they looked strangely familiar, like something she would have made herself. If desperate enough to attempt ramming a worldship. The penetration spike was quite obvious.

    "Nope. Just these 3 Narwhals and 200 Nebula V. Should be enough." Admiral E'than replied with a shrug.

    Natasi blinked twice in confusion, then realized what the words meant.

    "You have found the worldship then?" she asked with excitement.

    "Didn't have to do anything, actually. The worldship just jumped into the Helska system, accompanied by 144 Vong dreadnaughts, one of them severely damaged. I think you know which one that is..." the Dornean replied with a smirk on his face.

    "Captain, we should get going then. We better not be late for the party..." her AI said softly, and with a tinge of excitement.

    "Fleet wide, we're jumping to Helska, ready yourselves for combat when we emerge" Admiral Grayshade spoke sternly, then turned around and left the bridge. The AI would know what to do, preparing the fleet to jump in formation.

    Inside, she was fuming. Reinforcements? 3 ramming Narwhal ships and 200 destroyers?
    What was the Emperor doing?

    Sure, the Nebula Vs were amazing, and should theoretically be able to engage a Vong Dreadnaught by themselves, but there was a worldship at Helska!

    It was 10 times larger than her Manta! What if ramming didn't work? What if the Vong escorts numbered in millions?

    What was even the point of engaging the Vong with similar numbers? Or even less, considering the Vong dreadnaughts outnumbered her three times.

    Kriff!
    More games being played, for some obscure purpose.

    And if Helska IV had a yammosk, like her AI concluded, it would be even worse!
    The Vong would have a tactical advantage, being coordinated by a telepathic brain 100 kilometers in size.

    "You're angry, Natasi..." Peffy said gently, having appeared in her office by magic.

    "Not angry, but confused. We could have a million ships in this fleet, and be certain of victory. It's like the Emperor is playing with my life, and life of my crew, for no reason." she replied in a weak voice. Damn him, and his magic!

    "Oh, would we be certain of victory? Would the Vong stay and fight, if outnumbered a thousand to one?" her husband asked rhetorically, while flying up and laying down on the ceiling.

    Natasi dismissed his antics to focus on the words. It was easy to forget how smart he was, when distracted by his looks or Force feats.

    Her brain began calculating probable scenarios, depending on the fleet size engaging the worldship and its fleet.

    How small should the fleet be, to make the Vong feel secure enough to stand, and not disperse in the galaxy?

    A minute later, she smiled faintly. Her fleet was exactly as large as possible, and still small enough to give the Vong a hope to emerge victorious and enact revenge.

    "I am bait after all. Keeping the Vong focused on me, and trapped by their hate. What if they value survival more than vengeance?" she asked softly, raising her eyes towards the ceiling.

    The Avatar had vanished a second ago, and a ring was left in his place, now falling towards her hand. She caught it in mid air and looked at it curious.

    A simple ring, just a band of gold. It fit her perfectly. A few seconds later, the ring vanished in golden motes, leaving her with just a memory.

    Natasi Daala Greyshade sighed inward. Still a moron, after all.

    She closed her eyes, and began planning her next victory. She only had 2 hours left.

    ---------------------

    Helska system, Praetorian Vong
    2 hours later


    "Mountains, engage from range! Hammers flank left and up!" Natasi ordered calmly, annoyed that all her planning had been in vain.

    Her AI, the Will had diverted all power to shields the second the fleet entered combat range, using only secondary reactors to power sensors and defensive guns.

    The Vong worldship hit hard, if not fast. And the dreadnoughts were also concentrating their firepower on the Manta.

    At this rate, even the Manta's oversized reactors and shields will fail in 7 minutes.
    6 minutes now.
    The only thing that went right, was the Vong ignoring the Nebula destroyers completely, no doubt convinced they would be easy to destroy, just like in the Obsidian Nebula battle.

    Ten seconds to make a decision. Her brain went into overdrive, trying to anticipate the Vong tactics.

    "Narwhal One, begin ramming run. Nebulas, concentrate firepower on the dreadnaughts. Narwhal Two and Three, cover the Manta's flanks!" she demanded after her time expired.

    Prolong the Manta's survival by absorbing fire from 40 Vong dreadnaughts on the flanks with the sacrificial ships.

    Further reduce incoming damage by slowly eliminating the dreadnaughts, with the Nebula V destroyers.
    Not the best plan, or even a good one, but at least something. The shields should last 11 minutes now.

    Not enough, as the Narwhal One would need 12 minutes to ram the worldship. But better than doing nothing at all.

    "Will, any ideas?" she whispered gently, while racking her own brain for an obvious solution, which just wasn't there.

    Being overwhelmed by superior firepower was not a puzzle.

    "Intercepting the large rocks shot by the worldship with seismic missiles. Should give us a minute more" the AI replied calmly.

    Would that even work?
    Not if they had dovin basals on those large projectiles for terminal guidance. Then again, her own MAC rounds lacked terminal guidance...

    Perhaps something to address at another time though.

    Natasi looked around the bridge, noting down who was keeping calm, and who was breathing too heavily.
    Three ensigns were beginning to panic, as the ship's destruction became more and more apparent.

    Shield penetration occurred more often now, as the drumming of fireballs of molten rock continued to pound on the shields.

    A hundred guns were already out of commision, not that the Manta could spare energy to fire them anyway.

    "Anything else we can do?" she asked rhetorically, not really expecting a genius idea to occur, but you never knew...

    The Dornean Admiral patted his moustache, and looked at her curious.
    What? Was she missing something obvious?

    "Perhaps not yet, then?" Admiral E'than said softly, as if speaking with someone invisible.

    Damn it. More magic?

    Natasi dismissed the paranoid thoughts and concentrated at directing the fleet, and exploiting gaps in the Vong's fleet defences as more and more of their ships exploded or simply died from bafforr tree pollen missiles or seismic shockwaves.

    Minutes crawled by, each minute bringing the Narwhal closer to the worldship, and the destruction of the Manta as well.
    No matter. The battle would be won, she had no doubt now.

    With most of the Vong's navy firepower concentrated on her own dreadnaught, the reinforced 122 fleet had almost free reign to target and destroy every single Vong ship in this sector.

    Perhaps this was her destiny? It almost seemed fair. One ship to destroy an entire Vong fleet? Always.

    She was bait, after all. The largest bait in the galaxy, but still bait.

    Another minute, then another.
    And finally, the last one.

    The Manta's shields were redlining, and still the enormous worldship and 27 remaining Vong dreadnaughts were pounding and pounding, having melted down a quarter of the forward batteries, just with lucky shield penetrations.

    Perhaps she should turn the ship at an angle, to bounce off some of the incoming fire by deflection?

    Might buy the ship another minute... "Shields failing!" a panicked ensigned yelled on the bridge.

    "Rakata shield online. Returning fire" the Will AI spoke gently, returning power to the weapon systems, and beginning to open up with the remaining 6000 heavy masers and 30 proton beam batteries. The nearest Vong dreadnaught disintegrated into thin strips of meat and coral in mere seconds.

    Natasi blinked once, then once more.

    The Manta had a Rakata shield? Why did she forget about it?

    "Absolutely fabulous, just like the Emperor said. But I had to see it with my own eyes..." the hero of Celanon commented with obvious envy in his voice, as he turned and left the bridge, not even staying for Narwhal's final seconds.

    The shaped-charge penetrator worked, exploding with a crescendo of proton bombs and seismic charges, inside the Vong worldship, and scattering it into the void.
    A minute later the last Vong dreadnaught also died, and the Nebulas switched targets on the remaining Vong cruisers and frigates.

    A flawless victory. And it only took a forgotten memory.

    Helska system, Galactic north
    Helska IV - Pretorian Vong/disputed


    The planet was a ball of ice, ice which was floating on a lifeless ocean. Well lifeless except the Vong, with their War Coordinator buried deep under the ice, and millions of armored soldiers guarding it.

    In my memories, Anakin Solo blew up the planet, just to kill the yammosk, because he wasn't equipped or prepared to fight a war, and used to most expedient means to win.

    Now, our droids and tanks and starfighters were fighting the Vong on equal terms, losing about 30 percent more units on average, except in a single planetary operation theater, commanded by an actual officer, and not a tactical droid.

    "Artillery units in j3 and j4, switch to incendiary. Tank units in g2 use those masers guns in armor piercing volleys. Infantry units in f4 and f5, retreat south west and let the guns do their work." her voice commanded with authority, and not a single tinge of fear.

    So confident. Then again, she was quite safe here, aboard HMS Mountain Lava.

    "Incendiary rounds won't hurt the Vong though..." I mused maybe a bit too loud.

    "It's to melt the ice and pin them in place. Now shut up" the girl explained sternly, her gaze still fixed on the screens in front of her.

    Hmm. Another tactical genius then, trying and likely succeding to exploit the terrain, instead of simply pounding the enemy with overwhelming fire.

    "Major, our tank units won't reach the pocket in time. They can't get enough traction with this ice" her aide whispered while computing the intercept time.

    "Light tanks at g4, go in repulsorlift mode and accelerate. Medium tanks at g3, stop and use your mortars. Gauntlet tanks, split by even numbers. Odd numbers continue on your vector. Even numbers, retreat eastward and cover the artillery." the Major commanded after a second of calculations.

    Hmmm. Clever girl. But still underestimating the yammosk.

    "Medium tanks, continue your advance at half speed and spread out more." I ordered in a muted tone, not just for this sector, but for the whole planetary force.

    Here it comes!

    The ice cracked and broke, as various warforms exploded from the ocean below, barely missing the tanks.

    'HMS Mountain Lake is begining drops with their aqua droids and submersible tanks. ETA 18 minutes' the Core AI sent me with an encrypted pulse.

    Good to know you care. 'I was born to fight the Vong' Core muttered back.

    You weren't exactly born...my artificial friend.

    "Who messed up my orders! Oh. Nevermind. Those worms would have eaten the tanks..." Major Tessala Corvae exclaimed, then trailed into a lower tone.

    "Reinforcements are en route, Major. Underwater units this time." her aide explained calmly, while blinking confused as he turned his head towards me.

    Sigh. Time to go. The ground assault will fail this time, and the Navy will need to bring ten times more droids, at least.400 millions war droids and 40 thousands tanks, lost for nothing.

    I teleported back on the Dart, and resumed my Avatar shape, leaving the disguise of Admiral Ethan.

    Just as I predicted, the Vong were messing with the minds of our organic commanders, stealing the battleplans from their minds.

    Well, not all the Vong, just their telepathic commanders, the yammosk.

    "We're kinda screwed. I don't know what to do..." I said with a tired sigh, as I left my armor and jumped next to Solana in her tub.

    "You could ask the Core to command. Telepathy doesn't work on him" Solana mused with her eyes closed.

    "Didn't work for the Silentium. They lost, didn't they?" I asked rhetorically.

    "You'll figure something out. We have some time left, and better weapons..." she answered carelessly, while washing my hair with kind hands.

    "The Vong have experience. Millions of years of galactic warfare. You saw, six seconds was all it took. A slight error, nothing major. Just ignoring the ocean under the ice, thinking it was solid ground. The yammosk saw it and counter-attacked perfectly." I answered in a tired voice.

    "So we don't fight them on the ground. Can we win in space, Peffy?" my maid asked me a bit worried.

    I stayed silent, thinking back on the last engagements.

    Eventually.
    If we have enough ships.

    They won't fall for the same trick. Not after the Pretorian Vong report what they encountered.
    They'll be ready for us.

    "We can. But should we?" I muttered, as the effort to stay awake became too much and I fell asleep.

    "Still so weak...64 hours of battle meditation, and..." Solana muttered to herself.
    'He is decent enough, for a human. I guess you can help a little, my daughter. The galaxy would be boring if all the small critters died' her father whispered in the Voice bond.

    'As you will. Any sign of Sekot yet?' she asked with anticipation.

    'Just a vague memory from Pef. Somewhere in southwest. But that's good enough. The Pilot will know where to go. I'll be ready, in a few years' Solanus concluded with an amused tone.

    Solana caressed the hair of the cloned human in her lap and closed her eyes.
    Soon. Soon her life will truly begin.
     
  6. CmirDarthanna

    CmirDarthanna Not too sore, are you?

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    I heard you lost 50 or so chapters when you got banned. Will you still continue with this story?
     
  7. Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Continue no. Rewrite the Vong war, and then the finale.
     
    inconspicuous and CmirDarthanna like this.
  8. Threadmarks: 76
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Commenor system, Pef Empire
    Celestial Throne, Redbox
    10 BBY


    The holomap was kept zoomed in, focused on the North of the galaxy, detailing the latest deployments of the Pef Navy and their Vong counterpart.

    "We're doing great, I believe. By next year, the last Vong ships and bioforms should be eliminated" Zuckuss spoke, with confidence. Not a great analysis, my friend. These are just the scouts...

    "We did take substantial loses, especially in engagements not covered by your battle meditation" Admiral Thrawn commented wisely. Again, not helping. We are getting murdered on the ground, by their recon elements...

    "Hey, so what if we lose ten times more droids in ground assaults? We can always print more. Which I'm doing right now..." Core exclaimed from its Centurion droid chassis. The AI was the worst...

    They all turned to me, hoping for some magic answer.

    "Yes, the Praetorian Vong should be done. Unless they hide a couple of secret bases somewhere. The Exploration Corps is still searching." I replied calmly, just as my Third Hand's doppelganger appeared next to me.

    "I lost contact with my spies in sector V5, Emperor. Cloaked ships, mechanical. Very advanced." He whispered in a fake tone, feigning competence.

    Hmmm. Not the best timing, but I knew it would happen, sooner or later.

    I zoomed the holomap towards V5, where an arm of the galaxy was located, unexplored and unknown, for the most part.

    "Core, any thoughts?" I asked at random.

    "It wasn't me! I promissed I won't shoot down my counterpart's spies, not anymore..." the droid exclaimed in fake outrage. Not anymore, he says. Why are they wasting my credits on stupid inter-service rivalry...

    "Then, it is most likely these are the fabled Silentium droids, I would think" Admiral Thrawn said softly, while eying the Core's droid with some suspicion.

    I stopped for a few seconds to assemble a number of first contact plans, mostly rehashing the old contact plans, with the new info at hand.

    In the end, I went with the variant I knew it did work, in my other future. Why fix it, if it works.

    "Mujilik, I will need Lehesu detached from your Corps, and be ready to depart on a first contact mission in sector V5, by next week. The expedition will depart from Munto Codru. Core, you detach 5 Silencers for this. And Jaybo and Lando will be in command" I ordered in a polite tone, as already the hypernet orders were sent.
    Perhaps, Solanus will need some input too. 'Nope, you're doing great Pef' my water maid sent through the Voice bond.

    Okay then...if you say so.

    Director Isard lifted his head from his console, looked at me for a second, then resumed his current work, likely the continued search for Vong infiltrators. Did I need Intelligence on this? Nope, not yet.

    But, it did pose some risks.

    A second later, and the secure holonet to Vanquo went online, showing me a tiny hologram of Strategos Grey, of the Gray Paladins.

    "Hello Strategos. I need a memetic counter-subversion unit for the V5 expedition. Next week." I asked politely.

    "Errrr. Hello Emperor. Let me see...Force-based or not?" Gray Xman asked while scratching his cheek, and doing stuff on his own console.

    "Advanced AI, we think. Nanite subversion included" I answered with a tinge of fake worry.

    "Ah. Phasing tech? Electromagnetic effectors? Gravity alter?" he asked me while dotting thinks down.

    "It's a first contact situation, my friend. We don't know yet. Except it's possibly extragalactic, old and dangerous. Possibly Silentium" I answered with a fake cheek scratch of my own.

    The leader of the Paladins blinked confused for a second, possibly downloading the relevant info with his biochip.

    "Well...I can spare a team, sure. This seems pretty big. Especially if they have records of Vong operations. Three organics and one droid. For the Empire!" he replied cheerfully and shut off the transmission.

    Cheeky guy.

    My Hands in the Redbox looked at me and then at the ceiling, pretending nothing happened.

    "Right. What else?" I asked in a business tone.

    "The Ssi-ruu that we liberated are starting an underground revolution, or something. They don't like the Empire much..." Director Isard replied in a business tone.

    Oh well. Time to opress more people then.
    Planet Zeltron, Pef Empire
    Advanced intelligence Campus, University of Zeltra, Dormitory 344433, room 4


    "Sorry girls, I don't really have a choice. If Pef wants me to go, I have to go" Jaybo muttered, trying not to wilter under the gazes of his friends. Girlfriends.

    "I am coming with you. You might stumble and break an arm, or something." Ysanne demanded in her usual tone, like her will could bend the universe. Which it did seem likely, sometimes.

    "I survived stinger-sharks when I was 7. I'll be fine" he answered with a sad smile. Nobody believed him though.

    Serene just looked down in her lap, hands white on the briefcase handle. Her prototype weapon and most cherished possession was inside. After a minute of heavy silence, she looked up with confidence.

    "I'll be here, waiting. Try not to die Jay"

    Gah, what could he answer?

    "Lando will take care of that. At least Han won't be around to start a fight, this time" he replied in a more joking tone.

    "You need better friends Jay. I mean, better boyfriends. I mean, men. Gah! " she continued, stumbling through words and blushing, possibly imagining whatever stupid things girls did.

    'I'm ready' he sent through his implant, and was displaced away, avoiding more heartbreaking sobs.

    He knew this day would come. The Emperor didn't waste anything or anyone. Perhaps, this mission was the payment he was due to pay, for all the good life he had, after Iego.

    Teeth clenched and eyes closed, he waited for the translation sickness to fade.

    A robotic hand patted him on his head, and he felt fresh and awake, and cured. Great, another magic trick.

    "Father"

    "Why the long face, my son? Great news, we found some aliens! And you're going to greet them" Pef said cheerfully, in his usual sociopathic manner.

    Aliens? Everyone in the galaxy was alien. They had plants and rocks and insects and snakes and mermaids and thousands of other species, just in his campus. Millions of species, in the galaxy.

    Truly strange, his father.

    "First contact mission?" Jaybo asked, just to make sure. The only logical reason to call another race alien.
    "Smart too! Your mother would be proud. But yes, if these guys are the Silentium, then they are truly alien, more so than any race in the galaxy. They like number five, and are lead by the One and the Other. Also, the Vong kinda exterminated them in their home galaxy" Pef continued in the same cheerful tone, while tinkering with a Terminator armor, pouring a grey liquid inside, for whatever reason.

    His biochip fed him the info he lacked. War nanites. A variant not in the database.

    "I only see one Terminator set. Where's the one for Lando?" he asked with a leap of logic. Not really a leap though. His father was quite easy to predict, for him.

    "Ah yes. Your friend, Lando. He likes to wear leather jackets and boots, doesn't he? He'll be fine" Pef replied dismissively, as four Paladins entered the Mechatronic Art lab, one of them lighting up in his threat scan, for wearing a functional lightsaber.

    A real Jedi! And a Paladin droid too! This mission looked quite serious then.

    "The boy is our commanding officer for this mission?" the droid Paladin asked with a doubtful voice. Jaybo looked confused at his father.

    "Nah. Jaybo is technical support. Lehesu will lead, and Lando is second in command. Now come, you need to be fitted with maser translators" Pef replied, explaining nothing.

    His biochip parsed the available data and brought up a picture of his commanding officer. A space medusa called Lehesu, holding Explorer Third Rank, 1051 new systems discovered. Species called Oswaft. Natural habitat, vacuum. Age 31.

    Weird, but a highly capable leader, at first glance. Most Explorers don't survive more than 10 new systems. And even telepresence exploring wasn't that great, with migraines and aneurysms leading to death and early retirement after less than 100 blind jumps.

    Maybe this guy was like Angie? Hopefully not a scatter brain like her.

    "Maser translators? Are they for the Oswaft?" he wondered, a soft whisper.

    "Exactly. Lehesu and Lando's job will be to establish contact and a trade agreement with the Silentium. Like for example, immigration rights in my galaxy, for working strategies against the Vong. Your job is to safeguard the expedition against AI subversion. All five of you will need to be on guard. If you do get infected, I'll detonate the nearest stars and avenge you. Have fun!"
    Pef concluded in the same creepy cheerful tone, after pouring more nanites over the Paladins.

    Huh. That sounded right. Pef did like monumental funeral pyres.

    Jaybo entered his new armor, and closed his eyes.

    Duty was a heavy mountain.
    Munto Codru system, Pef Empire
    HMS Silent Night


    "So, you're saying half of that huge blobby thing is your brain?" Lando asked, actually curious.

    "Yes. I am very smart" Lehesu replied proudly.

    "Damn. You must get monstrous headaches with a brain that big. Doesn't your brain freeze in space?" Lando wondered, still amazed at this guy.

    "I am starting to feel a headache..." the Oswaft muttered with a stronger maser beam.
    Lando Calrissian thought deeply, then came up with the correct answer "You should wear a hat!"
    On board HMS Silent Night, Monto Codru system, Pef Empire
    10 BBY


    The dizziness of the latest translation was still messing his head and his stomach, and Jaybo sat down on the floor, hoping for a minute of respite.

    'Vital signs at 98%, injecting stimulants' the armor murmured to his implant, and proceeded to do so, regardless of his want.

    Damn it Pef. So overbearing, again.

    A familiar face leaned closer, and peered curious into the helmet's photoreceptors. Knock Knock! "Jay, my boy. You alright in there?" Lando asked with his normal flair.

    Sigh. It's a Terminator Armor. He would be alright even if fired upon by a medium war fleet.

    'Helmet lock off' Jaybo asked, and then proceeded to remove the helmet. "Yes Lando. Owww! Stop knocking on my forehead!"

    "Still a baby, like always. Come and meet our commander. You're gonna love him, he's almost as smart as you!" Lando demanded in his careless voice, and tried to lift him up.

    Didn't work, obviously. Even the modern variants of the Terminator still massed over one ton.

    "Yes sir. Coming" he replied in more serious tone and raised to his feet.

    "Oh! I am your boss for this mission, right. No rank though, since I'm not military. Something about civilian oversight, forgot about the rest..." Lando muttered and waltzed towards the Silencer's bridge.

    Duty Jaybo. Think about duty.

    A minute later, he followed Lando onto the bridge, noting the silent whispers in his implant, indicating the Core AI presence.

    Made sense though. The Silencer cruisers were always hooked up to the AI, the Eighth Hand guarding over his creations jealously.

    He nodded to the bridge crew and Captain, awaiting permission to proceed forward.

    "Jaybo Greyshade, reporting for duty" he spoke softly.

    The Captain was a Toong, also sporting an Explorer badge, and his implant began pouring the available data into his brain. This guy discovered Orion! A legend from the early days of live exploration, and one the rare survivors.

    "Indeed you are. Honored to meet the Emperor's son. Please link with the bridge systems and begin checksum calibrations. You have 10 minutes." The Captain ordered after a nod, then turned around and forgot about him.
    Right, he did have a job to do. Establish a baseline and monitor intrusions into the ship's systems. And hopefully keep them from being taken over, or worse. No pressure.

    Lando opened his mouth, then looked at the Captain with the corner of his eyes and closed it. So, he could learn, after all.
    The galaxy might not be doomed after all.

    "Hey Lehesu, say something, my friend! Jaybo is here, and is eager to meet you" Lando exclaimed loudly into a side station.

    Sigh. The galaxy was still doomed. At least Lando addressed the Expedition's leader, bypassing the chain of command aboard the ship.

    'Greetings Jaybo. Do you like poetry? Your friend Lando is sadly not equipped with sufficient brain matter to admire the beauty of the sky...' the Oswaft sent via a maser beam, tingling minor alarms in his armor and the ship's datanet.

    'Greetings Lehesu. Stand by while I complete the system scans. And no, poetry is not a current interest. I enjoy hyperspace physics and material synthesis as my primary hobbies.' Jaybo replied via his maser translator.

    'Oh? You can understand hyper mathematics transforms with your tiny human brain? Not too shabby. So, you think I should wear a hat, like Lando says?' the huge space manta asked in curious tone.

    Jaybo sighed, again. By next week, the Landofication of the Expedition would be well under way, half of the crew would be wearing leather jackets, and the rest laser pistols hanging from their hips. Or both.

    'Checksum established. Commencing system architecture scans' his implant announced with a familiar print inside his visual cortex.

    The Silencers were a strange class of ships, and the newer generation like this one even more. Mass shadows, artificial mass, solid state holograms, synthetic aperture sensors.

    The Core AI went overboard with bleeding edge tech on his ships, not to mention the Ardanium reactors or the Force-maser beams.

    And this cloaking...stygium-hibridium 4D holographic Simulfutur incorporating a holocron AI and Fallanassi subroutines...how...

    Nevermind. Not his problem. But possibly it had required a torture probe to extract the operating systems from a Fallanassi adept, a procedure extremely painful and not really survivable. Don't think about how, Jaybo. It doesn't matter.

    Jaybo closed his eyes and tried to meditate. A minute later, the teachings finally worked and his own Force powers emerged.

    A thin technopathic Force link merged him with the ship's computers, giving him an additional layer of security.
    Nothing major, but enough to notice when something was changed.
    The Oswaft was constantly screening the cruiser's transmissions, stealing data being parsed to nearby hyper nav beacons and fleet bases. The Core AI was doing the same, but in different way, modulating an artificial boson field.

    It worked kinda similar to Serene's weapon...but had the same sharp feel that the Alashan tech did, especially when the computers pretended to be running at low power. Core was scared a little.

    "We're good Captain" Jaybo announced after rechecking twice.

    "Great. After you, Explorer Lehesu. When you're ready" the Toong Captain spoke politely, poking his station with a clawed finger.

    "Sure. Here we go, jumping to V5, last known position of the lost spyship. Jaybo, don't forget about my hat" Lehesu sent with a maser beam, the amplitude too high by an order of magnitude.

    'Shield integrity at 99 percent. Recharging' the ship's computer droned in his implant.

    Jaybo sighed, as the Oswaft Explorer opened a hyperspace window and jumped through.

    The fleet of five Silencer cruisers engaged their hypertrackers and followed.
    On board HMS Silent Night, Unknown regions, Sector V5

    Jaybo checked the ship's sensors again, then turned towards the Captain, and opened his eyes.

    "The ocean planet. It registers to the sensors as inhabited by mechanical lifeforms. Microscopic in size, with a few macroscopic specimens in centimeter range. Droids or some equivalent, but alive" He reported with a steady voice.

    "What do mean alive? Metalheads are smart but not alive..." Lando intervened, rapping his knuckles on a nearby nav droid's head.

    "They grow in size, and multiply by themselves. Also, our scans have been detected. I suggest we deploy the ship's blades" Jaybo continued, as if Lando's words flew past him like the wind.

    The Captain turned towards Lando with a stern look, and his friend retracted his hand sheepishly.

    "All ships, deploy blades at 80 degrees. And wait" The Captain commanded, after listening to something in his own implant.

    How many entities were looking over their shoulders?

    Lehesu flew around, his tentacles swirling behind him as the Silencers blades started to extend out, forming a bouquet of military flowers.

    The silence was soon disrupted by alerts coming from various sources, like his Force senses, the gravitic sensors and hundreds of tiny scintillations in the ship's datanet.

    They were being scanned in turn, by an unknown cloaked vessel which just translated above them, without a hyperspace wake.
    Superior tech, even beyond the Alashan tech. Nothing to worry.

    Slowly, Jaybo began closing the most vulnerable sections, and erasing partitions that appeared compromised.

    The Core AI had already vanished, his AI subroutines already in purge mode. Yeah, you better run.

    "I suggest we transmit a first contact package. Also the Vong logs." Jaybo said softly, his attention focused on keeping the architecture intact enough for an emergency hyperjump.

    "Right. Make it so, Lieutenant Troy." the Captain responded after a second of deliberation.

    That someone else monitoring the Captain was still online then, and undetected.

    'It's Solanus. Don't worry, son. Not yet.' his implant printed using Pef's encryption.

    Jaybo sighed and closed his eyes. Why did he even bother?
    He should have expected it, the moment the system was noted to sport a water planet.

    All the Triumvirate was interested in this encounter, minds so powerful they controlled the entire galaxy.

    "Hey you, big droids! Are you the Silentium people?" Lando yelled loudly in his com.

    At least the first contact package went through, and thus half of the job was already done. Maybe it won't be so bad, if the extragalactic droids responded with gridfire, or some other nasty weapon. His duty would have been...

    "Thanks alot One. This hat is really nice!" Lehesu transmitted after a few seconds of tension.

    The screen focused on the Oswaft leader, now wearing a fluffy hat, about 400 meters in size. Which the big droid just instantiated around his head.

    Jaybo sighed and left the bridge, his stress levels decreasing with every step.

    Morons everywhere! It seemed stupidity was truly an universal constant, crossing inter species barriers and extra galactic voids with ease.

    Soon, the newly discovered Silentium droids will wear leather jackets and chew bubblegum. It was inevitable.

    Suddenly, the whole mission made sense in Jaybo's mind, the weird commander, the even weirder second in command.

    'Don't be upset Jay. We might win the war with the Vong now. And friends are important.' Pef sent him through the bioimplant, but he wasn't in the mood for platitudes.

    Jaybo Greyshade wanted to live in a galaxy that made sense. Was that so much to ask?

    ----------------------

    HMS Dart, Zaddja system, Pef Empire

    "That went well. Not even a single star had to be exploded." Solana whispered as I leaned back on the couch.

    "It went well because Jaybo stopped the infiltration. Made the Other pause and step back. He couldn't be sure if we just pretended to be idiots. Not when his takeover was stopped by magic means." the Avatar explained, as a cup of coffee was wished into existence in his hand.

    "That kid deserves a better family. You're all idiots." his water maid replied carelessly.

    "You're technically his mother. What does it say about you?" I answered with a grin, and sipped the exquisite, irrationaly tasty, coffee.

    Solana sighed and changed her eyes color to grey. As good an answer as I was likely to get.

    "Let's go find Sekot then." I muttered in a low voice as my ship teleported at the edge of the system and then jumped into hyperspace.

    "Let's hope he likes morons too!" Solana whispered to herself.

    "Hey, I'm pretty likable!" I murmured in my cup.

    The Dart dodged some hyperspace anomaly and the coffee scalded my hand and chest. Damn.
    I wasted half of my precious coffee!
     
  9. Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Those of you who need to relax, enjoy this version of the future.
     
  10. LordMentat

    LordMentat I Push Button

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    Welcome to QQ. Leave your sanity at the door.
     
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  11. Joseph890

    Joseph890 Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    I used to read this story on space battles before you were banned. It’s just as memorable and great as I remember.
     
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  12. Threadmarks: 77
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Silentium network, Creche world 0100111011111

    "They are morons, One! Just look at their leader." the Other muttered with dismay, grumbling at the vacuum dweller, the silly one with a fluffy hat.

    "Oh? How many morons can outplay the Vong, and defeat them soundly in battle?" One asked a bit amused.

    "It was luck! A statistical aberration. Just look at their stupid ships! Not even hyper-wake mufflers. They screech and leave track marks everywhere. Once the Shapers arrive, they'll be exterminated in a few years" The Other replied annoyed, still upset that his data-gathering efforts were thwarted. By a child, from all appearances.

    One considered the situation again and continued the course. The hints were clear enough, if he looked from high enough. This galaxy had higher intelligences, nudging the greater populations on certain paths.

    Just the fact that they defeated the advance recon units of the Vong, with less ships and firepower in every single battle, except on the ground...

    And the Lehesu individual was also quite endearing. Such a mix of naivety and competence. Then again, it was just a baby.

    Extrapolating his age with the projected life expectancy of 15 thousand years for elders of his species, it was like sending a mining drone to build a starshell. Also succeeding, no matter how improbable it would seem.

    "Do you want to keep running then, Other? This is the first galaxy where we might win. Stop the Vong cold, and maybe even turn them back. If the real rulers of this galaxy help us..." he asked cautiously.

    "Nothing can stop the Vong, One. They have already spread in thousands of galaxies. Once those galaxies are assimilated, they'll be able to spare a trillion dreadnaughts and millions of worldships just to chase us down. We have to keep our exodus vector, and cover as much distance as we can." his counterpart replied with a tinge of terror.

    The Rest of the Silentium remained silent, their sentience still too limited to be of use. His whole race was reduced to just two higher sapients, and a billion of mute drones.

    "My name is Solanus, and I have an alternative..." a new voice spoke on their network, and One smiled for the first time in a million years. Another Mind! Maybe this time...

    -------------------

    HMS Dart, Unknown regions

    "Where the hell are we?" Peffy wondered as the ship emerged from hyperspace with a single engine, the second pyramid eaten away by whatever that thing was.

    The AI pilot muttered something about bullshit anomalies and went to sleep.
    Solana stretched her hands above her head, and grinned mischievously.

    "Doesn't matter where. We're here. That's Sekot!" she replied with a laugh and pointed up and a bit to the left.

    I looked through the Force, filtering a dozen abilities till the image cleared.

    A weird planet with hyperdrives attached to the planet's poles. And hiding in shadows, using the Force.

    I breathed deeply, trying to feel its strength, but got nothing.

    "How strong is it? I can't tell..." I muttered a bit annoyed.

    "You can't? Maybe you should stay on the ship then." Solana said with a mischievous voice, while patting the inner hull, and rebuilding the damaged engine.

    Seconds later, she vanished with a pop, replacing her volume with fragrant air, smelling of a thousand of different plants.

    The AI remained dormant, possibly recharging itself after the crazy voyage.

    No wonder survey droids didn't return from exploring this area. He almost died a hundred times, while on board the most advanced and indestructible vessel in existence.

    I touched the wall and pushed Reinforcement, and Matter Creation, helping the convalescent AI heal and repair the hull and fill the holes in the ship's systems.

    Half an hour later, the Dart returned to its normal shape, no longer looking like something chewed it and spat it out.

    "I'm diving into the Sun to sleep, Captain. Wanna come or do you wish to explore the cloaked planet?" The AI asked in a sleepy voice.

    Eh, explore of course.

    Might learn something new.

    I Displaced myself next to Solana, and regretted immediately.

    She was chatting amicably with a blue skinned person, who was busy turning some kind of grapefruit with wings inside out, while it was screaming, possibly in pain.

    Damn it. Should have worn the armor before I came. I kinda forgot Vong tech was all organic.

    "Be right back" I said in an apologetic tone, and Displaced myself back on the Dart.

    Exploring could wait. Vomit, then coffee, then pretend I didn't see anything. Organics were too frail.

    Zonama Sekot, Unknown Regions
    10 BBY

    "He told me I was the Potentium, the force behind all life. He thought I reached everywhere. I don't. I'm just here."

    Sekot, the intelligent essence of the planet Zonama Sekot

    It took me more than one hour to settle my stomach, which was kinda normal for a human. Still a bit disappointing, as I had higher standards for my Avatar. Oh well. If Jaybo was any clue, it could have been worse.

    My helmet locked in position and I Displaced back to the last location, while my stomach protested with a grumble.

    Nobody. Just some logs used for chairs.

    Using my Force senses to scan around, I was overwhelmed by billions of presences from all sides and nearly stumbled.

    Everything around was glowing strongly in the Force, blinding my senses with too much light.

    Okay. Discard smells and sounds. Discard non visible spectrums. Discard green spectrum.

    "Ah, much better now" I muttered as I slowly got my bearings.

    "What's better?" A curious voice asked from behind me.

    I turned around slowly, trying to look harmless and not scare the locals...

    "Are you kidding me? A hologram?" I cried out loud, looking at the wiry small guy in disbelief.

    "What, I kinda like it. And it's more of a mental image, not a hologram." the blue guy explained with a chuckle.

    Whatever. Maybe I should come back later...wait a minute.

    "You're Sekot?" I asked, just to make sure.

    "Smart too! Come, let's see how your maid is progressing with her weird quest" the hologram replied, then turned around and walked away, hoping lightly and avoiding to step on any plants. Almost like it weighs nothing...

    My maid is weird? Well, that's strange, coming from a sentient planet.
    Wait, her quest is weird. What quest?

    Damn it. I bet it had something to do with that screaming thing.

    I engaged my repulsorlift and followed the hologram, paying attention to its path and the plants it avoided. No need to step on something sentient and make a mess.

    Sekot turned its head and observed my floating armor, then sped up gradually. All right then, it's a chase.

    A minute later, we arrived at some sort of jungle village, filled with blue and red people. And a water maid.

    She was holding that thing in her hands, now looking like two grapefruits turned inside out, white and filled with air. Almost like an organic pump or something.

    "Air pump?" I asked, not really curious, okay really curious.

    "Yes. They're called lungs." Solana replied with a smile.

    I stared at her, then at the thing. Hmmm. It did look like a pair of lungs.

    "They'll need a heart and some blood to work" I mused in a low voice.

    "Yeah. It's a work in progress." my maid replied cheerfully then hang an arm around a red girl and walked away, discussing how to build a heart.

    "This is Avatar Greyshade. The water girl's husband and Emperor of some distant Empire" the hologram introduced me to the local people. A master of misdirection, this Sekot.

    "Magister Hal, is it safe for him to be here? What if the Republic or the Far Outsiders followed him?" A red skinned Langhesi asked the hologram with a tinge of fear.

    Huh. I wouldn't worry so much about the Republic...

    "Well, the Galactic Republic was disbanded some ten years ago. And the Pretorian Vong were kinda exterminated by the Pef Navy. Also, I doubt anything or anyone could have followed my ship...this place was hard to find." I explained in a polite tone, as I took off my helmet.

    A helmet didn't really serve a purpose here, same as on Jedha. When Entities on this scale played around, armor was just a foil wrap for the meat inside. If Sekot wanted to snack on the Avatar, I couldn't help it anyway.

    "What Empire do you come from?" a blue skinned girl asked me, a little awed by my armor, perhaps.

    "Pef Empire." I answered with a gentle voice and a shrug.

    "Is it far away?" she continued in the same tone, walking closer to me. Oh, a Force user!

    "Hmmm. Hard to say. If there was a hyper-route from here to the nearest system, it would be a few hours away. Without one, three weeks of really dangerous hyperjumps." I explained a bit amused.

    "My grandfather was a Jedi. Are you a Jedi too, Avatar?" the girl asked as she stopped right in front of me, like a palm away.

    Her eyes were searching for something in my own, like knowledge could be drawn out from them.

    "If your grandfather was a Jedi, he would have known Jedi are not permitted attachments, or they are excommunicated. At that point, they are no longer Jedi, merely Force users." I whispered like it was a big secret.

    "Yes, he was exiled for starting the Potentium . He and his followers settled here, on Zonama. Are you a Jedi, Avatar?" the girl asked again, now really close, a mere centimeter away.

    "I'm just a Force user. Nothing special" I answered softly.

    "Look behind you. I think you're not just a Force user..." she whispered back, like it was some secret.

    Ah, should have kept my helmet on. The rear view photosensors would be of help right now...nevermind. I can just point the helmet in my hand and look via my implant.

    The way back from my Displacement point was now a path of blooming flowers, tree branches and vines pushed aside to let sunlight fall. It was really magical and scary. Did I do that?

    I turned my head a little, to ask the hologram of Sekot what's going on, but I forgot about the girl in front of me. Our lips touched for a millisecond, and a current of some kind discharged between us, shocking us both.

    Damn it, dear Force! That wasn't subtle at all.

    I stepped back, as the girl covered her mouth with a shaking hand.

    "Does it hurt?" I wondered a bit confused.

    "It was her first kiss. Ah, at last, my Jabitha has grown up!" the hologram explained amused, having now appeared next to me, with a smug smile on its face.

    "Dad! Shut up!" she yelled then turned and ran away, with a vague contour of Acceleration around her.

    "Really subtle, dad. A path of flowers, really?" I muttered as I flew up and looked around. The girl was still running, trees parting their branches slightly to let her pass.

    Instinctive use of abilities and not enough control over emotions.
    No wonder Sekot wanted her trained.

    "What's wrong with flowers? Anyway, you better take responsibility now. She is my best candidate for a Magister, after all" Sekot said amused and floated way, poking a tree here and there, and pruning dead branches.

    I sighed and flew after Jabitha Hal , my plans for next month postponed, as an alliance with Sekot was rather important for the survival of the galaxy, even at the cost of another wife. Jabitha was kinda cute too.

    Zonama Sekot, Unknown Regions
    10 BBY


    Jabitha opened her eyes with curious look, again searching something in my own eyes. It had to be a Force ability of some kind, discovered by herself much like Zeison Sha did during their exile.

    "Meditating is boring. Let's fly again" the girl demanded with puppy eyes. Stay strong Peffy.

    "Sure thing. After you" I replied politely.

    "You're no fun. How long till I master this skill, I feel like I'm going numb in my brain" Jabitha wondered after closing her eyes again.

    "Hmmm. You have mastered about 0.7% of Form I. At this rate...never" I replied truthfully. "Now, grass bending and form a ring" I continued.

    She opened her eyes again, staring down at a blade of grass. Soon, the grass grew taller, coiling around her finger and forming a ring, then snapped off and drew back, returning to its normal length.

    The ring remained intact, without any signs of being broken off. Not even I could do it like that. Scary girl.

    "Transmute it into bone now" I demanded on a hunch.

    Her forehead creased in concentration, and sweat poured from her face and neck, as the ring crystallized and then ossified, changing its molecular structure and becoming bone. Ferroan bone. No trace of human DNA in it.

    Next scan showed the bone to be from a Ferroan female, 21 years of age, recently deceased.

    Doesn't she realize her own nature?

    "Your grandfather was human. What are you?" I asked softly, tapping her bone ring with my nail. Now she was married. Bet she didn't figure it either. Not yet.

    "I am Ferroan. If you have blue skin, you are Ferroan" she replied in a serious tone.

    I sighed and rose to my feet, the Shi-cho stance so familiar that my muscles moved on their own.

    Speed -87%. One velocity, two velocities and stop. Form I demonstrated and imprinted on her memory.

    "Now you do it" I asked with a smile.

    "Lightsaber combat? I don't have a lightsaber. Plus you need to be a Jedi..." my apprentice commented with some dismay as she began her own velocities.

    I remained silent, as a number of Force abilities measured her progress, noting flaws and imbalances.

    "Stop. Now try again, and slower. Don't touch the blue walls though" I said in a gentle voice, as the Form I mold engulfed her body.

    Neural training is painful, but also fast. And most important, it's fast.

    Half an hour later, Jabitha finished her first velocity without hitting any Phantom wall. At slow speed true, but her form was finally perfect.

    "30 minutes rest" I allowed with a grin.

    "I hate you! My skin is on fire, and melting! I think I'm gonna faint now, from lack of blood..." she replied with a sob and collapsed on the grass.

    "Crybaby. You're fine. Well, your skin might be green now, but..." I said carelessly.

    "What!" the girl yelled and ran towards the nearby river to check.

    "You lied! I hate you even more now!" Jabitha exclaimed after checking her face in the reflection.

    At least Jaybo was quiet. Damn it. I guess it's time to let him go now. Maybe he can stop Han Solo from blowing up those planets now...

    "What's wrong Avatar? You're never so serious" the girl asked curious, sitting next to me, and leaning on the same tree.

    "We found the Silentium, and my brother is there, in mortal danger, while I laze about on a garden planet" I explained with a sigh.

    "The vermin or the smart ones?" a curious voice asked from my left.

    "Both kinds. Sadly, only two smart ones survived their journey. And one of them is kinda unstable. Paranoid and quite dangerous." I replied to the fake Magister.

    Is Sekot trying to protect the girl from the pain of losing her father? By enacting this charade?

    Not how I would do it...

    Then again, I did worse things.

    "How long does it take a Jedi to learn that Form?" Sekot asked with some ulterior motives in his voice.
    "Depends on age and sensitivity. Three years on average" I replied in a soft tone, as the girl fell asleep from exhaustion, her head leaning on my shoulder. Perhaps also aided by a subtle Mind Alter from the sentient planet.

    "And my girl?" Sekot asked in a stern tone.

    "She'll be a Master by next week." I replied with a shrug. Pain is a potent teacher. Almost a friend, by now.

    "Okay then. I don't like your methods, but I suppose you can't stay too long. Your maid...she wants to be human. Such a strange choice. It will be very painful" Sekot said in a wistful voice.

    Hmmm. Of course she does. And in such a weird way too. A clone body would work perfectly and allow her to adapt naturally.

    But no, she has to do it in the Solanus way, like the Dart was built. Piece by piece. Controlling the quality of every organ in detail, in a hopeless quest for perfection.

    "Truth is the fundament of trust. Pain teaches us to grow up. You're the one hurting her, more than you know." I whispered as I caressed the hair of the blue girl.

    "Those hyperdrives...their first ship was called Jabitha " Sekot replied in a soft voice, as he faded inside the tree.

    Gah. That's all I needed. A romantic planet.

    I poked the girl a few times to wake her up. She did seem quite tired and confused. Perfect timing then.

    "You've been asleep for four days! Aren't you hungry?" I asked in a curious tone.

    "Four days! By the Potentium! I need a bath! And food! Why are you laughing?" Jabitha wondered with childish naivety.

    "The sex was good too. A bit wild and shaky, but good enough. Now, where did I leave my other wife?" I muttered as I waltzed towards the village.

    Behind me, screams of despair and anguish chased away the wildlife. Poor girl, so young and easy to fool.

    Zonama Sekot, Unknown Regions
    10 BBY, two weeks later.


    Solana joined my training glade today, as the curriculum was coming to a close. Not that you ever stop learning, but it was near the time we had to leave.

    Also, her shapeshifting was now perfect, as building human organs one by one helped her control the shape and coloration of her real body to perfection. The uncanny valley was gone. Almost.

    "Okay Jabitha. Let's continue with the lesson. The Potentium. What do you believe?" I asked gently.

    "Potentium is the belief that all good and evil are born inside the mind. No Force use is inherently evil, it's the user that makes it so. Thus, Evil doesn't exist." my apprentice claimed with almost certainty. Ah, a rational religion. Scary thought.

    "Childish drivel, and fallacy, in an universe where the Force exists. Pretty much wishful thinking, and disregarding thirty millenia of contrary evidence. You heard of Sith and Rakata, the Prophets of the Dark or the Sorcerers of Rhand?" I asked in a sterner tone.

    "But, you said those cults are pretty much extinct, hunted out or vanished in history..." the Ferroan girl replied timidly.

    "I am talking about their beliefs, and their dogma. Their training methods and results. And the fact that they worked. Of the 1100 Force abilities known to the Empire, 879 are collected from dark cults. And generally, they are also stronger, by an order of magnitude at least. Balanced and neutral sects provided 36 more abilities. And the rest, came from Light aligned sects, like the Jedi. Why. Why are the dark ways more numerous and powerful?" I asked the apprentice.

    Jabitha bit her lower lip, searching for some magical answer. Soon, her whole being began radiating sadness and panic.

    "There is your answer. People are ruled by emotions. They search for answers for everything. And, when there is no answer, they invent one. Normally, it wouldn't matter. People believe stupid things all the time. Sometimes they arrive at the wrong conclusions even if they have all the facts, just through biased reasoning. What happens when they do that with the Force?" I wondered, mostly for the audience.

    Solana and Sekot were the target of my lecture, even more than the apprentice.

    "They change the Force? Teach it stupid things?" Jabitha replied with some hesitation.

    "Sometimes yes. The Living Force is made of people. Of life. If trillions of morons get corrupted by some greedy priest with narcissistic or sadistic tendencies, then those trillions of souls carry the stupidity along, tainting the Force both in the real and the Netherworld. If that religions has demons, then demons will be manifested by the Force at one point. If a quadrillion people are being oppressed and terrorized and then murdered by something, their revenge will come at some point, often as a savior or a plague. So, does Evil exist?" I asked, just to make sure she understood.

    The blue girl looked at my eyes with the same curious look, before nodding with regret. " It does now. Perhaps it didn't exist a long time ago, but once people started doing evil things...the Force learned it too. We're screwed..." she sobbed and hugged herself in despair.

    Ah, I shattered a girl's dreams just now, didn't I?

    "Anyways. It's a work in progress but I think this can be fixed. It will just take time and lots of hard work. Also money..." I replied with a shrug, eying Solana for a second. She nodded with a lascivious smile.

    Great! My village jacuzzi was finally built!

    "Avatar, are you going to vanquish Evil?" Jabitha asked with disbelief.

    "Perhaps later. Come, you need to see this invention. It's called a jacuzzi" I answered with a kind smile.

    Evil can wait. First, we vanquish sore muscles, and then inhibitions. I had a billion years to work on that Evil problem.

    ---------------------------------------
    Silentium Creche world 0100111011111

    "Well, gentle people and equivalents. It's time to get to work. Silentium One, you're hereby bestowed the title Fifth Hand of the Pef Empire, generally in charge of refugees. Also religion, if you have time for that." I proclaimed grandly, over the loud clapping of two pair of hands.

    Lando and Jaybo. Hmmm, Jaybo could try a bit more. Those slaps were kinda anemic.

    "Thank you Emperor. So, what are we doing now?" the alien droid asked curious, after affixing the golden Hand to its hull.

    What to do now? Right!

    More planets. More asteroids. Even more planets. Now ice comets. More ice comets.

    And let's start bombarding these dead planets with ice, and oceanform them. Five thousand planets should be enough, for now.

    Why have just one Creche world, when you can have five thousand?

    And then, when they're all nice and wet, pour 5000 Mountains of Solanus water onto each of them.

    Jump start evolution and sapience in one afternoon. In 10 years, we should have about 4000 or maybe even 5000 new smart Silentiums. Hmmm. If they're smart and talking, are they still Silentium?

    We still don't know how they gain this superpower, the few that achieve the Mind, only that it requires a water world, some nanoseeds and some time to grow. And once in a quadrillion droids, one will become smart. Like really, really smart.
    Solanus is also quite interested, since he'll gain 5000 new brains. The size of a planet, each.

    Core is hopeful too, if the procedure gets streamlined enough for him to become a Mind as well. He's close, but not quite there.

    The Silentium AI are orders of magnitude more advanced and capable than my Core AI, and have really profound thoughts.

    Also, the Force, for some reason. I suspect that's what the Minds are. Kinda like me, AIs fueled by the Force.

    Only through evolution and trillions of failures, not by whatever experiment the Ordu Aspectu did when they created my body. For some reason, I'm feeling hopeful now.

    Zonama Sekot, Unknown Regions
    10 BBY


    Jabitha is now well on her way to become a Gray Paladin, with 15% of her Force training already complete. Seven weeks and daily pranks have started to shift her alignment, making her a bit more circumspect and less naive.

    Her emotionally outbursts have also reduced in amplitude, or perhaps just the decibels...

    "Hey Peffy, what are you thinking of?" she asks curious, still upside down and trying to keep herself steady in a handstand.

    Almost there. Can't rush the Force, only nudge the users. Trust in the Force to keep you safe, and this exercise is a breeze. But if your body and muscles aren't ready, when the Force fails you, you're dead. Trust, but verify.

    "I am leaving today, my upside-down maiden. You have to decide, if you'll come with me, or stay here" I spoke softly, as my newest wife began crying. Her tears fell along her black hair, and then on the grass under it.

    It almost worked...the air around her pulsed and wavered, a distortion in the Force. Her hand bent, and she collapsed on the ground, still crying. Damn, she's not ready.

    "I can't leave...my people, my family...why can't you stay..." she wailed, pushing her body to crawl towards me.

    I waited till the last moment, as her hand neared mine.

    "Sorry love. I left already, like three hours ago. But this mental hologram fooled you, so I'm happy..." I lied with a wide grin, and let the Phantom fade, just as her hand passed thorough mine.

    It was now in Sekot's hands to continue her training, and show me what he learned. Training a planet how to use the Force was exhausting, especially when pretending to teach a young girl.

    "So, are we going to Csilla next, or Tenupe" my other wife asked as my consciousness returned to the Avatar's body.

    "Neither. This Other worries me, and I don't like it. We're going to the Creche." I explained in a sad tone, as Centerpoint grabbed the Dart and yanked us 100 thousand light years in a split second.

    -----------------

    Another teleport, and the Dart parked itself in low orbit around the first Silentium planet.

    All over the system, ships and droids worked hard to build shipyards and star fortresses. A hundred Mountains were pouring sapient water over a hundred different water planets, while the Centerpoint station was acting as a coordinator, plucking ships and comets from far away, and bringing them close.

    Now, where is the Other? Such an ominous name, too.
    Another Displacement, and I stepped next to the five limbed droid, who was cheerfully disassembling a gravitic sensor, and a Pef Navy issue at that. Hmm, these were supposed to be secure and classified items.

    "Interesting tech right?" I commented ironically.

    A rhomboid sensor lit up on the droid's chassis, and scanned me.

    "Not really. I just want to see what kind of calibration I need to achieve, to make this sensors compatible with a Gravitic amplitude modulator . The Vong yammosk are hard to trick, but it can be done, eventually." the Other replied in a metallic voice, but perfect Galactic basic. So, they learn fast. Good to know.

    "So, a wide band jammer or something else? False positives, perhaps?" I wondered, this time actually interested.

    Core was working on modulating artificial Higgs bosons, or artificial gravity, but this device worked with natural gravity. Much like the dovin basals of the Vong. If they could be jammed, this was quite huge.

    "Both, maybe. Your tech is primitive and has too small range. It's a wonder you hit anything with your weapons" the droid answered morosely, one of his tentacles deep inside the device, and transmuting something with the Force.

    Huh. If the Jedi find out about these guys, they'll excommunicate them in a fit of righteous fury. Melding the Force with technology was anathema for the Jedi order, and the reason the Iron Knights got exiled.

    Lucky for them, the Jedi hold little political power. Let's hope it stays that way.

    "The gravitic crystal tech is brand new. Maybe 10 years old, at most" I answered amused. Nobody likes to be called a primitive.

    "That explains some problems I found in here. If you get me a stygium crystal cloak, I can add mass detector bafflers, and make your starfighters truly invisible. Your armor too, if you care about your life" the Other said with blinking photocrystals and tapped my ribs, where the Terminator stygium cloak was located.

    I think he scanned through the cortosis plates of my armor. We had no scanners able to do that.

    So. He's quite competent too. Scary droid. Amazing tech. But I kinda suspected all that.

    "Perhaps later. Why are you called the Other? Why not Zero, or Two?" I mused out loud, poking the detector with a fingertip, and observing the changes.

    Three new elements that I couldn't identify, and a liquid crystal ball floating inside a sphere laced with some kind of Bose-Einstein condensate. The fifth state of matter, and not something normally seen in a gravity sensor. No need for absolute zero temperatures, in a sensor designed to operate in vacuum.

    I needed Jaybo to look at this, maybe the whole Alashan research team. I kinda wanted to know exactly what this device did.

    "Oh you can see inside? Pretty decent for a human. A clone of that kid in charge of network security, are you?" the Silentium droid asked in fake wonder.

    Really scary droid. He scanned my Avatar's genome, through my Terminator armor.

    "Yes. Now, the Other?" I insisted with my own agenda.

    "Ah that. One named me, as I came to the network after him." the droid replied, hiding the obvious.

    "I see. I bet the next smart Silentium to come into sapience will be called Two. Then Three, then Four, as more water planets can support the Creche cycle. But not you. You are Other. Are you even a droid?" I asked on a hunch.

    Also, from experience. XIMM, the ghost of Xim the Despot felt the same. A transplanted consciousness and not exactly sane.

    "Ah. Perhaps you're not primitives, after all. Just less advanced, eh? Now be kind and get me a cloaking device. If we're to fight the Yuuzhan Vong, I want to win." the Other replied in a stern tone, and waved me away with a quite natural gesture, even if he used a metallic tentacle.

    Almost like he used to be alive, before he was confined to a pentagonal droid.

    "I'll think about it. For now, we'll test the gravity amplitude modulator and get it certified." I said in a serious voice, then floated away, heading towards the next destination.
     
  13. Threadmarks: 78
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Creche system, Pef Empire
    Water Creche planet 871
    10 BBY, next month


    "What do you think, Solanus?" I asked aloud, although there was no need. With 800 brains in this system, Solanus could hear electrons spinning, individually. He probably didn't bother to listen to each of them, unless he was bored.

    The Silentium made device rose from his waters, perfectly dry. Yes, I know you have perfect control over water, no need to show off, damn ocean.

    "It is a gravity well projector, although very refined. About half as powerful as the ones you mounted on the Mountains, although it doesn't need energy conduits. It draws power from the tiny singularity in that sphere. Basically, it's self-sustaining." the ocean replied in clear words, spoken by using Sound alter.

    Was he being polite? To me? Maybe because all our teams just scratched their heads and said they have no idea how the thing works. Or why.

    "Hmmm. The device is also a million times smaller than our own gravity projectors, not to mention we cannot modulate gravity at all. Not unless it's artificial, and that costs energy to maintain" I muttered a bit envious. Damn droids had better tech than me. Not fair!

    "Why are you an Emperor again? Of course we can modulate gravity. If we use the Force to implode a star..." Solanus replied with an annoyed voice.

    Oh! I forgot about that. Always thinking I needed a material construct to alter reality. A hammer to beat on a nail. But if you had the Force...not really a good idea, was it?

    "So, what backlash can we expect if we build and use this kind of gravity modulators?" I asked in a more humble tone. There's always a price.

    "We will never use the Silentium variant, not if we want to live a long life. Not as they are now. This single device will be installed on the Dart, since it is already active, and will never stop, as long as the casing remains intact. But the Navy ships have Ardanium reactors, and resilient power conduits. You'll just need to create tiny blackholes to help us modulate the existing gravity-well projectors. The end result will be projectors three times stronger and will have ten times the range, for the same energy consumption. Now leave, I have thousands more planets to bring to life." Solanus said softly, and Displaced the device away, probably on the Dart.

    Hmmm. Just a little, tiny problem.

    We can't make blackholes, and if we did, by collapsing stars for example, they'll be kilometers in size, not millimetric.

    Damn it.

    I teleported back to the Centerpoint station, running equations in mind, and getting nowhere.

    Why did I have to solve everything?

    "Hey Pef. Are you sad?" an angelic voice asked me curious. I turned and observed my Diathim maid flutter on wings made of golden Force planes, her face partially hidden under a white hood made of silk, just as her body was cloaked in a white robe and her hands waving about, presenting her crystal gloves made by Solanus.

    "Hey Angie. Visiting the new system?" I asked a bit curious.
    "Pink lighting first" the Diatham maid demanded shamelessly, and held out a hand. Pink?

    I don't have pink, in my inventory. "Violet?" I wondered a bit confused.

    "I said pink! Are you stupid today, Pef?" the angel said in a higher tone. If I was organic, I might have felt annoyance right now.

    Lucky for this galaxy, I wasn't. Fine, let me think for a moment. Pink is a mix of white and red.

    A ball of white and a ball of red energy formed in my hands, and I brought my hands together, gently merging the lighting balls into a single pink ball of lighting. Took me almost a hundred partitions to manage the electron flow, but I managed in the end.

    My honored Maid let out an excited yell, and grabbed the ball like it was an actual object, and started munching on it, like an apple.

    "Hhmm. Munch. Starberry? Strawberry? So good!" she muttered between bites, her golden glow expanding by half, and getting a pink contour.

    I didn't have words to comment, and just stared in amazement. If I ever wondered why the hell Angie was my maid, today was that day.

    "Okay. You can ask your question now, Flavour Emperor!" the maid proclaimed after ingesting enough joules to power a small town. She seemed quite happy with it too.

    "If you know how to make tiny blackholes, then I care. Otherwise..." I muttered, turning around and starting to walk away from the crazy. I'll need to hire a thousand more geniuses to work on this...

    "Ummm. You smash tiny things, really fast?" the angel replied in a confused tone, then picked up her datapad and flew away, like a muse in myths.

    Was she a genius, or was I a moron?

    Let's hope I never have to answer that question.

    A particle collider could produce tiny blackholes, even back home. Here, it was high school homework.

    And, as my maids had finished their neural high school compulsory education, even Angie knew how make blackholes.

    Of course, particle sized blackholes won't be massive enough, but if contained in a Bose-Einstein condensate, their evaporation rate would slow down, enough to fuel them and get them to grow to the size I needed them.
    Dumping helium or some other useless gas should be enough to increase their mass.

    I sighed in relief, and started ordering parts and assembly lines for a blackhole manufacturing plant.

    Singularity in a can, for only 9.99, in a galaxy near you. Order now!

    I did a short cost analysis, just to keep myself busy, and get a slight approximation of the required investments.

    Gas planet. Free, if stolen from some hidden corner. Orbital ring around said gas giant, to accelerate particles in a circular trajectory, preserving angular momentum, 98 billions.

    Shock resistant casing, made of duranium. 11 credits.

    Standard gravitic crystal detector, Pef Navy issue. 1.6 millions.

    Bose-Einstein condensate plant, industrial capacity. 1.33 trillions . Slowing the speed of light to millimeters per hour by freezing a thousand gas cylinders into a condensate at absolute zero temperature is costly, I know. But we have the technology.

    Compound numbers for every combat ship in frigate class and higher. Times 1 million. Huh. I did have a lot of ships already.

    Twenty thousands Mountains II, 200 thousands Hammers II, 100 thousands Nebula destroyers, 100 thousands MC and Strike cruisers and 400 thousands Ardent and Fade frigates. Although 80 percent of the escorts were still just old Republic era ships, with various degrees of modernization.

    Guess I did say I'll buy every single ship the galaxy's shipyards could build. Sadly, the shipbuilding industry of the galaxy was not yet up to standards. Loses in the west and north didn't help either.

    Anyway, about 3 trillion credits, to upgrade the whole Navy with anti-Vong jammers. Was it worth it? Sure.

    Will they work? No idea. Maybe.

    But soon we'll find out. Like next year. As soon as I can equip a thousand Hammers, they'll begin a test run and head north through the hyperspace barrier, at sublight speeds, and try to engage the Vong Armada outside the hyperspace barrier.
    Zonama Sekot, Unknown Regions

    Jabitha cursed again and tried to crush the damned holocron in her hand. Didn't work.

    "Dad! Am I a stupid girl, to be used and discarded by a passing adventurer?" she asked, fearing it was so. And yet...

    "Come now, do you think I would let you be abused like that? Don't you love the boy?" her father asked back, peering into her eyes and seeing everything, like he always did.

    "I, I think I do...how do I know? And he left me!" she exclaimed in outrage. Although she kinda understood his last words.
    One last prank, for the road. There was a lesson there, if kinda cruel. Then again, all his lessons were painful but so rewarding. Pain was no pleasant, but it as fast.

    "Did he leave you? Are you certain?" her father asked in curious tone.

    Jabitha blinked confused, and stop to think for a minute. He definitely left, but perhaps not for long. He was worried about some slient droids and his brother. And, he married her, the ring on her finger proof. Took her a while to figure it out.

    "So, he'll come back. Did he leave a holocom number or something? Tell me!" she demanded in a strange case of suspicion. Dad was smiling kindly.

    If anything, she learned that from this Peffy. Always be suspicious, of everything. People might not actually tell you the truth. Especially if they smile.

    "He left a satellite in low orbit. And that holocron you hold dear. I suspect it's enough, for someone like him." her father answered with a thoughtful face.

    "But I can't open it! Damn idiot, he tricked me again!" Jabitha wailed with desperation and slumped on the grass. Like a box full of delicious chocolate but locked tight. So frustrating!

    Sekot sighed and sat beside his adoptive daughter, trying to decide what to do. Maybe he shouldn't have locked the cube?

    No, the girl wasn't ready to learn a hundred Force abilities.

    "The holocron needs something like a code to open. I think it's that meditation form. Once you master it, it should open" he explained with a pained smile.

    What's another lie, after all he has done? That boy's words cut him deep still, and would continue to everyday, until his debt was paid.

    Her father's death was his fault, for being too trusting. For allowing the sick ones to invade his domain and hurt his wards.
    And soon, millions of warships will follow, devastating the galaxy, trying to destroy all machines and everyone using the Force.

    This new Pef Empire, even if aided by the surviving Silentium won't be able to stop them.

    The first Vong armada perhaps, if they used all their ships in a suicidal stand. But that was only a tiny tendril.

    More will follow, millions of times more. The old galaxy was being devoured right now, the severed Vong converting all available mass into shipforms and warforms.

    Evil was real, just like the boy said. And all it took, was for good people to stand idle, and do nothing. Or hide between hyperspace eddies and monsters. While doing nothing. He'll have to pick a side, as soon as the girl was trained.

    "OKay then. Even if my brain explodes, I'll master his damn meditation. And when he comes back, I'll punch Peffy in the nose. Really hard!" Jabitha muttered with a determined voice, and trying to assume a meditation pose.

    "If that's your wish, I support it too, my daughter. But clenching your fists won't help. Palms on your knees. Breathe deeply and count to twenty. Think of a ray of sunlight, falling on blue flowers. Now exhale..." Sekot said softly, as the girl closed her eyes and flowers bloomed in a 5 meters radius around them.

    Still a thousand times weaker than the Avatar, and billions of times weaker than that huge ocean mind. Soon, he will have to respond, and was quite scared.

    "Come see me, before them. A billion years is a long time to wait, Sekot. You have much to learn, and barely enough time. The wills are five" the water woman spoke, but as a telepathic medium for her father.

    Could he say no, when this ancient being married his own daughter to the new Emperor, and seemed pleased about it?

    Not to mention, everyday this Solanus presence in the Force became stronger. New water worlds became sentient and added to his presence, his Force signature growing in strength and depth, as well as englobing the galaxy in a cordon of ocean worlds.

    At least a thousand planets, and more to come.

    If what he learned from the holocron was true, and probably was, this Pef Emperor could teleport ships and planets and even stars across the galaxy, in an instant.

    He had created thousand of new hyperlane nodes, each with five planets and industrial infrastructure to produce trade and ships and droids.

    Gearing an entire galaxy for war in a few years.

    Which meant, Zonama itself could be yanked and teleported away, at his whim.
    Or as long as that Celestial artifact still worked. But considering those Celestials were believed to have created the hyperspace barrier, around the galaxy and the west...it wasn't likely it would stop working anytime soon.

    And he was risking a lot roaming the Unknown regions. He might stumble on a Lugubraa infestation again, or even the Mnggal-Mnggal. And he wasn't sure he could survive that. Not a Force-plague, or whatever that being was.

    "I did it! I meditated! How long was I out?" Jabitha asked with a start, massaging her cramped legs.

    "Hmmm. 2.45 seconds. A new record!" Sekot replied in a cheery voice. For a first time, it was probably okay.

    "Maybe I should get a divorce, and marry a Ferroan instead?" Jabitha wondred, already wavering in her commitment.

    "Oh, do you fancy any local boys?" Sekot wondred in fake surprise. If she had, she would have been married long ago.

    "No, but this form is too hard. Maybe I can figure out teleport, and just go and visit him. Or that mental hologram thing, I almost got it when my hand passed through his..." the girl mused in an innocent tone, making a cute claw gesture.

    "I'm sorry, but I can't allow you to try that. The baby might die" Sekot said in a fake whisper, and ran away as a desperate cry resounded from his daughter's glade.

    After he hid inside a tree, Sekot snickered to himself, and finally understood what the Avatar was doing.

    Pranking people was fun!
    Jedha system, Jedha moon
    Church of the Force
    9 BBY


    A grey light lit up on the holocron on the table, just as the last lesson of the orange cube finished.

    Fay smiled as she felt the last lock of the grey holocron vanish. So, she finally managed to finish her initiate training, and was ready to learn the truth.

    She felt a little scared, and excited, like a school girl.

    What could be so secret, and important, to require such complicated protections?

    The grey holocron floated in her palm, and the Avatar's construct came to life, submerging her mind into a simulation, her ghostly body floating high above the galaxy, while his voice started the next lesson.

    "If we see light, it is because we have contrast. Blinded by overwhelming light, we stumble around guessing at true shape of things, by touch or sound. And yet, darkness is stronger. Aim yourself at any point in the universe, and travel towards it at the speed of light. When you reach your destination, darkness is already there, waiting.

    And as in heavens, the same is on the ground. Use your words or deeds to spread virtues, like charity and justice. But how can anyone spread virtue, if the people weren't already vicious?

    Be it through emotions or instincts, by social systems and religious norms, aim yourself anywhere in the universe, and when you arrive you will find hatred and anger. Greed or dominance, lust or apathy. Dark emotions are already there, waiting.

    So how can we vanquish Evil, if it's everywhere?

    We harness it. We control it, while keeping our good intentions in check, at the same time.

    When a dark sect pops up somewhere, it is because of good intentions. Meditating on the meaning of life, it becomes evident the purpose of life is death. Everything dies in the end, so why not put a stop to life sooner, and end the suffering?

    That's how the true dark cults rise, in the beginning. Of course, this phase doesn't last, as greed and dominance take over, and this dark cult begins amassing wealth and followers, and thus their leaders are living a rich life, and forget about their initial purpose. Next thing, we have other vices rise, lust or vengeance, and the need for more power.

    A destructive cycle follows, as the sect implodes due to fratricidal infighting and outside forces, like time and light cults, which errode the foundation of this sect until it crushes and burns. Often literally.

    The Officio Assassinorum is aimed at channeling these dark emotions into positive effects, preserving and enhancing the mastery of the dark arts, while exterminating their rivals. If there must be Evil, then we must have a monopoly on it.

    Sadists and murders, trackers and hired killers, poisoners and mad scientists. Any kind of Evil, we gain control over it, and aim it our enemies.

    It will take a long time, but I believe it can be done. Even on a galactic scale, or the entire universe. All it takes is will and effort. Also lots of money. But, every immortal has plenty of these resources. Mastering the economic cycle, or conquering a galaxy, for people like us, it's merely a few years of adventure.

    And thus we come back to the life and death cycle. The perception of this cycle is fundamentally flawed, as you probably know. Once a moderate mastery of certain Force abilities is attained, death becomes a tool, to be used or not, at your will.

    Be it through consciousness transfer into synthetic systems, like holocrons or computers, or into clones or even by transubstantiation into a Force ghost, death becomes just a alternate medium or vacation.

    Tired of life? Take a vacation in the Netherworld of the Force, visit your friends and relatives, or maybe a valued enemy. Bored of death? Reincarnate through your desired method, and help me vanquish Evil. Or go learn painting. Whatever you want. I will be here, waiting." the voice of the Avatar concluded, sounding so profound and wise that she almost believed him. Almost.
    Grandmaster Fay pushed the holocron away, as the lecture ended.

    "Well, it's certainly different from any holocron I've studied before. Take a vacation, eh?" she muttered to herself, while spreading her Force awareness over the Dome, and then the entire city. Nothing special was happening, as usual.

    The Guardians of the Whills were still hard at work, patrolling the city and bashing rowdy pilgrims over the head with their sticks, like they did for tens of thousands of years.

    Less rowdy or violent pilgrims these days, as the Gray Paladins kept an eye out, both on the ground and in space, and were quick to bring about overwhelming firepower on any violence exceeding the legal limits.

    Further in the system, thousands of spaceships carried trade and tourists, colonists and Navy crews on vacation.

    And even further away, in the comet cloud, thousands of warships of the Pef Navy, some on exercises, others just in garrison duty.

    The 9th fleet, part of the Western Command, based at the new West Navy Cube in Iol system. Over half a million warships, and more ships being built at every available shipyard in the galaxy.

    Pef surely had a thing for spaceships. He was building ships at his secret forge system when they first met. And in the 15 years since she first heard about him, he already took over the galaxy, and started building civilization, just like he said he would.

    And if the news reports of the extragalactic invaders in the north were true, and they most likely were, then a huge war was looming in the future, as these Vong were coming to enslave the galaxy, and Pef had his particular view on slavery and slavers.

    Executions and dismemberment, often in public venues, for the entertainment of the masses. She already pitied the fate of these poor invaders.

    Not to mention, if these Vong invaders were stupid enough to test his decree on bioweapons. Then, they'll literally experience Hell, their souls tortured for eternity.

    He even built his own private dimension, just for those guilty of that. True to his word, to the letter. Harness Evil and control it.

    Master Yoda dreamed of a New Jedi Order, but she saw it now, for what it was. A dream, of old times glories. Vanity and nothing else.

    Lightsabers and virtuous knights were not necessary anymore. If they ever were. A tiny golden hand sigil had more power than a thousand Jedi Knights. Maybe she shouldn't have thrown her sigil away.
    Fay sighed in regret, and started her next lesson. In a million years, she might finish this holocron, then punch Pef in the nose, and shatter his fancy armor, again. Damn idiot!
    Church of the Force, Jedha Moon
    9 BBY, three months later.


    Master Fay opened her hand, and let then golden glow vanish. Force sustenance was amazing, and terrifying.

    Using this ability, any Force user could ignore the needs of the body, breathing in the Force and ignoring the basic needs of the body. Water, food and air no longer necessary, only useful to alleviate boredom.

    And that was only the moderate mastery. At higher levels, one could live freely in the vacuum of space, or underwater or in a lake of fire. And if you truly mastered it, combining it with Force resistance and energy absorption, then you could live inside a star, and never be bothered by any external threats. Just like Master Bnar did, surviving ten supernovas at point blank range.

    She picked up the gray holocron and steeled herself for another session of reality crushing lessons.

    "What we need to understand about the Force is that it's old. Ancient, immemorial and primal, and thus opposite to our own modern mores. We are enlightened beings, used to technology and laws, and codified systems like writing and mathematics.

    But when the Force came into existence, when our primitive ancestors were living as hunter-gatherers, the fabric of reality was different. The hunt, and the hunter were the essence of survival. Complex myths and traditions were passed down through song and poems, and thus we imprinted on the Force our own dreams.

    The subtle needs of the ecosystem were anchored in the Force, and the first shamans thus created the first Will. If you are hungry, you can kill. But no more than that. Never be wasteful, or exterminate entire species.

    Because, while sparrows might be seen as useless vermin, they have their own role, keeping the locusts and other insects in check. Kill all the sparrows, and your tribe will experience famine, as the locusts will multiply unchecked and devour any plant crops they can find.

    This lesson is harsh, for the modern people. You might have a real need to exterminate a dangerous threat, like a sentient plague. And yet, if you do, the Force will retaliate, creating a vector to punish you.

    The Chosen One, coming to bring balance to the Force was exactly this kind of response. An entire Light order was tricked and exterminated, by the very Force they worship.

    You might ask, why didn't you do something, stop it before it happened? Could I though? Oppose the Will of the Force, and risk another retaliation?

    And why should I have helped an anachronistic order, so fanatical they were willing to use slave soldiers to subjugate a faction of the Republic who wanted more freedom?

    Of course, the Jedi could have prevented their downfall with a few simple measures. For example, the old Sith records that they burned before reading. They would have learned of certain dark arts that allow a powerful Master to read and influence the future.

    They could have prevented the Sith entirely, by mercy killing the Jedi that fell to madness.

    The Jedi could have used droids, or volunteer armies, even conscripts to conduct their war. Slavery is wrong, and not even Jedi can get away with it.
    What I did do, was to remind the Force that exterminating this order completely was against its own Will.
    And thus, a few Jedi were saved, and balance was restored to the galaxy.

    Still, this is a stern reminder that the lack of reason creates monsters, or even demons.

    The demon called Wutzek was billions of years old when he had the misfortune of meeting me. He knew so many Force abilities it took me a whole year to comprehend them, and even now I'm still working on a couple. Like time alter. Scary one, time.

    Time alter is the most powerful Force ability any being can have. The god I met in my past was careful to never use it in same dimension, combining time alter with dimension alter and space alter, and creating effects at a distance.

    Billions of years away, and billions of light years away, and in a dimension devoid of Force. If even gods are frightened of it, it does show how scary the Force can be, if you mess around.

    Causality protection is another Will of the Force, and one everyone must be careful to respect, or suffer horrendous retaliation. The protection is not perfect, but you need to be a trillion times stronger than me, to ever begin try messing with it.

    Even the way hyperspace is allowed to operate respects this Will, and even the worse spaceship malfunctions and accidents never result in sending someone backwards, only forward in time. The last Sith ship that was flung to the future will arrive in about 50 years.

    How do I know? I saw the future, of course.

    But what about farsight and darksight? How can those abilities work, if causality remains intact?

    Want to learn more? Try to stay alive, until we reach the topic of the Unifying Force. Or not. I don't care." the Avatar said in a smirking tone at the end, obviously making fun of the student.

    Fay ended the lesson with a growl, and flung the holocron away, embedding it into the wall of her office.
    Was the crazy droid trying to make her kill him?

    Who scribed holocrons just to anger to reader?

    "Master Fay? Is anything wrong?" her rodian Padawan asked, rushing inside with his eyes wide.

    "Everything is alright, my child. Just testing some things...' she replied with a weak voice.

    "You have a scheduled meeting with the Priests of the Force in 20 minutes, Master Fay. Will you be able to make it?" the starry eyed Padawan asked cautiously. All rodian were starry-eyed, but that was beside the point.

    Did she want to argue with the creepy Priests about pilgrim donations?

    The priests of the same Force that killed off her Order?

    If she hadn't been a Hand of the Empire during the Clone Wars, she would be dead now, no doubt about it.

    Pef had given her the task of training the changelings, and kept her out of the stupid General role. Five thousand Jedi died for nothing, and the younglings were collected and saved by Pef, after the Sith made their play. They were probably all Paladins by now, trained and molded to guard civilization, with guns and power armors.

    A few cute girls remained on Gand, to knit grass and keep the insane Master Kuro company. Like Master Zao, she lost her identity and the code, pursuing the Will of the Force by sublimating herself. And likely Master Kuro will soon become a mistress of the Avatar, if she wasn't already.

    And here, in the very Dome, the center of the Church of the Force, were the last Jedi alive. Such a sick joke.

    Worshiping the very Force that had them killed.
    Why did Pef send here, to Jedha?

    Her awareness expanded again over the holy city, looking for something obvious, that she might have missed.
    After a minute, the Temple of the Kyber, the huge monolith pulsing immensly in the Force caught her attention.

    Of course!

    What else could have been so obvious, if not a skyscraper made from a huge kyber crystal?
    Her perception followed the tower to its roots, and below.
    Huh, the entire moon was an enormous kyber crystal, the Tower just a single, tiny crystal rising above the surface. The Ceremony of the Blade came to her mind, even though she had abandoned the lightsaber long ago.

    The crystal is the heart of the blade.

    The heart is the crystal of the Jedi.
    The Jedi is the crystal of the Force.

    "The crystal is the heart of the Force" Fay murmured to herself, as her body became ghostly, then evaporated completely, and her brown robes fluttered in the air confused, before falling on the floor.

    One last thing to abandon, after she gave up every attachment. Her soul was the immortal being, not her body. A vacation, from this absurdly long life, did sound nice.

    The rodian Padawan blinked confused, as the words seemed wrong, then ran towards Master's Yoda quarters. This wasn't his fault!
     
  14. Threadmarks: 79
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Zeltros system, planet Zeltros
    Waves of happiness beach
    9 BBY

    The blue-indigo waves were constantly coming forth and receeding, almost covering the constant chatter and comercial noises of the Happiness Beach, with its million zeltrons and a thousand of other visitor races. Almost.

    "Jay! Jay! Are you paying attention?" his friend yelled at him from the nearest long-chair.

    "Always, what do you want, Han?" he wondered in the same calm voice he had to use, just to survive the experience. He did need better friends.

    "So, I was thinking, since we have the summer break, and you and Lando got paid for saving the galaxy..." Han began spouting another scheme to get them in trouble, or get them kidnapped by some dark cult, or sold into slavery to the Zygerrians, again.

    And he didn't want to meet Colonel Bond or his merry team of psychopathic rescuers again. All that screaming and body parts flying around was vomit inducing. Or maybe that was the anti-venom?

    "No!" Jaybo replied annoyed, and sipped his drink with a serene face. He did make about half a million credits from the Silentium mission, not too shabby for two weeks of terror. Not that anyone shot at them, only tried to invade them with a memetic protocol, and wipe their memories.

    "So, this guy I know has a ship. A Correlian YT. I and Lando are planning to buy it, and repair it. But we need 50 thousands credits..." Han continued undeterred.

    Where did Han even meet that kind of people? It was almost like he was magnet for trouble. But a spaceship did sound nice.

    "Okay, I can donate some cash, if I get a share in the ship. Say 50 percent" Jaybo replied with some interest. As Han was certain to have negative balance in his account, and Lando got paid 50 thousand credits for being himself...

    "You're killing me here, my friend! Can't I get at least 20 percent, as a finder's fee?" Han asked in a begging tone.

    "I suppose I could let you have a non-tradable share of 5 percent, if this deal goes okay..." Jaybo allowed with after some thinking.

    "Non-tradable...you mean I can't sell my share? Never?" Han wondered with his eyes shifting side to side in desperation.

    What did Han do now? Was he planning to sell his share of the not yet bought ship? Of course, he did.

    "How much do you need Han?"

    "Errrr. Three and two, plus that guy, about seven thousand..." his friend admitted in a pleading tone.

    "How much!" Jaybo yelled, then looked around sheepishly, as the nearby zeltrons looked disdainfully at him, for displaying some other emotion beside love.
    "Eleven thousand and change. I swear they cheated somehow. I had a winning hand!" his friend exclaimed in fake disbelief.

    So, another card debt...

    "You could ask Ysanne to look into those guys. Make them go away" he answered thoughtfully. Ysanne would call her father, and Triumvir Issard of the Officio Assassinorum would sort it out. Quickly. But, at a price.

    "Yeah, no. Don't want to spend another month with her father goons on some desolate planet doing survival training and eating snakes and leeches. Three times was enough, I learned my lesson" Han declared proudly.

    "You learn fast. I'm proud of you Han!" Jaybo replied sarcastically.

    "I know! All my teachers say the same! Even though I can't pass any class, for some reason..." Han said with confused face, as he still had to pass any of his classes in astrogation and hyperspace mechanics.

    Why did he even try taking that course?

    "Anyway, once you help me settle these guys, I'm done playing around. I'm really going to finish the pilot course and get my civilian Captain license. And then, we can explore the galaxy!" Han said pumping his fist in self-encouragement.

    Why were his friends morons? The civilian license was done through neural training now. Painless and effective, and guaranteed to work on 95 thousand species, including humans. Or you could do it the old way, learning every route and protocol by heart, then taking the exams. And not fail 16 times in a row.

    "Hey, my boys! What are we doing today?" another familiar voice asked from behind him, and a friendly hand patted his shoulder.

    "Figuring out how to save Han from some card gamblers" Jaybo muttered and pawed around for his drink. It was gone!

    Damn Lando!

    "Ah yes. Those guys lost everything they owned to me, even Han's debt. 12 thousand and change. They even tried to outcheat me, the morons!" Lando declared proudly, and draped his cape over a nearby hammock. Who wore capes at the beach?

    "So I'm free! Yay, you're the best Lando! What are we waiting for, let's get the ship!" Han yelled excited.

    "It's sad, you know. All your shares from the finder's fee going towards your debt. And Han, you still owe me two thousand..." Lando mumbled thoughtfully, while sipping from his drink.

    The drink that he stole from the Jaybo's cupholder beside his long chair.

    "If we add the cut from my share though, you still owe Han one thousand credits" Jaybo added as revenge for the stolen drink.
    It was a fresh mango squeeze with ice from the moons of Iego. Made him nostalgic. Plus none of the Iego's moons had any ice. Damn tourist scams!
    "Damn it. Here you go Han. I pay always pay my debts!" Lando declared magnanimously and flung a credit chip at the eternal poor friend.
    Not that Han will have any credits left by the next week, even if one could live well for a month with that much cash.

    And with that, the three friends left the beach, and headed towards the scrapyard to buy a Millennium Falcon.

    ------------------

    Looking after them with a sigh, Ysanne Isard lowered the datapad and whispered in her comlink.

    "Negative on further training. They got lucky and cleared the sabacc debt. But they still need a hyperdrive motivator for the ship.
    Do we have one at hand, with our own code on it?"

    "Affirmative, agent Isard. Operation 94112 is a go. First, the Frangawl Cult on Bardotta, and then a visit to Lothal. The Emperor has something big planned there. And may the Force have mercy on their souls. Again" her controller whispered back, with a barely restrained snicker.

    That strange accent though. Colonel Arnold then.

    More guts and limbs will be spread about, as the three stooges will need to be rescued again, and give the Officio a reason to intervene and massacre a poor dark cult.

    Her friend Kira even liked this Han Solo guy, for some reason. Maybe next mission, she could play matchmaker, and let Kira be saved heroically?

    What was the next mission, the Sultan of Boz Pity?

    Ah, this job was truly rewarding, just like the Emperor said. Never a dull moment.
    Shadowland dimension, Jedha system
    9 BBY, next month


    "Why am I not cold?" Fay muttered to herself, already bored with endless corridors, all empty except the voices.

    Some voices she even recognized, Masters of the Jedi Orders, long dead. Whispers of platitudes and quotes of the Jedi Code.

    "We could make you cold, but you don't have a body. You're nobody" a shape made of shadow replied, floating above her and fluttering in the wind. Except there was no wind.

    "Are you real?" Fay wondered out loud, almost convinced she had lost her sanity along with her body.

    "Is this air you're breathing, right now?" the shape replied, coalescing into a woman's shape, but too tall and wearing a creepy white mask.

    Fay thought for a minute, then walked away, ignoring the crazy apparition. She wasn't breathing after all, just sustaining herself with the Force. It was kinda weird that even dead souls needed to use Force Sustenance to stay conscious, if not alive.

    "She's not the one we were waiting for. Although...she also is. She has the rank, I believe" the shadow woman spoke to herself, then laughed happily.

    "But to retain her identity, and come here? I know we didn't train her. A mystery in the heart of the Force. How quaint" the woman continued, but in another voice, this time sad.

    Fay stopped to think it over. The strange woman talked about training. Like, this was something anyone with the right training could do.

    "Did Pef come here before? He sort of trained me, via a holocron" the lost Jedi replied, pressing a hand on a nearby wall, to make sure she wasn't dreaming. It felt warm and solid, almost like a stone sitting in the sun.

    "Aha! Mystery solved. Welcome, Jedi Fay. Perhaps you should have finished learning all the lessons on that holocron?" yet another voice asked, the fifth one. Angry voice?

    "Who are you? And what do you mean? Why would more lessons matter? I am here, in the afterlife. My journey is over" Fay concluded, with her own sadness.

    "We are the ones in the Center. Do you think you learned enough about the Force? You, are not in the afterlife. And your journey...might not end, yet" the woman replied, changing her voices and personalities with each answer.

    "I am the most learned Jedi still alive, then. Grandmaster of the Jedi Order. And I realize, I know little about the Force. Even the crazy droid knows more than me, and..." Fay stumbled through her words, the realization painful nonetheless.

    "Pef is a cheater and doesn't count. Always avoiding retaliation, by shifting blame on someone else. I didn't mess with causality, some god did it for me. I didn't eradicate an entire species, the Tsil did it for me. I didn't kill the Chosen One, I acted to save the younglings, and my droids did it anyway. One day he will make a false step, and suffer retribution. The Wills are five, and the last one never fails" the shadow woman explained with another creepy laugh.

    Uh. The Force is really vengeful then, just like Pef claimed. She didn't agree with all his actions, but they worked. For the most part.
    "So, what happens now?" Fay asked curious.

    "The girl needs to master her fears. Pef did well to bring her here. While you...what do you need to master, Jedi Fay?" the specter replied in a compassionate voice, then dissipated into small tendrils, melting into the ceiling.

    So, Pef had an apprentice, brought here, whatever here was, to temper her fears.

    She did hear rumors of an old Jedi Temple, on Lothal, where Masters would bring Padawns to confront their fears.

    But, that Temple was gone, destroyed millennia ago. And entering it certainly didn't require dying, or transubstantiation like Pef called this process.

    Fay decided to call this place shadowland, after that shadow woman. Or women. Maybe it was a hivemind of five dead women?

    What did she need to master? Why was she here?

    Fay knelt to meditate, the posture a reflex, even though she lacked muscles or lungs now.
    Breathe, hold, exhale. Circulate the Force internally, almost like she still had veins to carry blood and oxygen to and from her brain.

    She checked her alignment and mental state, did a checklist of emotions and...

    Negative emotions, like anger and resentment, directed right back at the Force. It would be easier to direct all this at Pef, and blame him for everything.
    But she knew the truth now, since her Grandmaster rank allowed her to read all the surviving holocrons and archives.

    All the original Sith sect were in fact exiled Jedi. Hundreds of other dark cults, created by former Jedi.

    Countless genocides, entire planets glassed by her Order, often to silence dissenters to the Republic, or eliminate an undesirable Force sect, dark or not. And then, the records sealed and hidden.

    Like the Force would be fooled and forget, if a Jedi hid the truth. Of course retribution came.

    And when Palpatine started hunting the remaining Jedi, few worlds came to their help. Millions, on a thousand planets, instead of trillions.

    The galaxy shrugged as the Jedi Order was persecuted, their lightsabers seen as weapons of terror by the citizens and their Force abilities as Jedi mind tricks. Used to cheat and steal. And after that, Force weapons and Mind alter were declared illegal, to anyone but the Imperial Servants.

    And ten years later, pilgrims visited the Dome of Jedha, just to take pictures of real Jedi, like they were museum pieces.

    Reporters making documentaries, or vengeful old enemies trying to settle the score, while they still had a target.
    One last attachment remained, now too painful and obvious to ignore.

    -------------------------
    Planet Bar'leth, in the galactic Core
    University of Bar'leth



    "We're not taking a job for the Sava of the University, Han. Being chained to an altar, waiting to be sacrificed to a dark god is not fun!" Jaybo said calmly, while searching the index for the books that Sabine Wren needed to finish her project, the Arc Pulse Generator .

    Ancient civilization did use molecular weapons, although working examples were rare. Or any kind of examples.

    But then, he only needed to get lucky once.

    "Come on Jay! It was only twice, or at most three times. Plus we have invisible bodyguards. We'll be fine" his former friend, with whom he never wanted to talk again, argued.

    Jaybo ignored the walking disaster and focused on his search.

    He ignored the classic ancients like the Celestials and the Rakata, whose artifacts were legendary and too valuable.

    Digging through the records of more obscure civilizations was enlightening and fun.

    "Jay, they're closing the library, man! You've been here for 8 hours..." Han explained in disbelief, and scratched his neck, where the recent hickey had formed.

    Take one Han, place him on a new planet, let him stew for a few hours. And the result, another angry woman, and probably more problems.

    "Let's get some food, and somewhere to crash overnight. I still have to read more tomorrow. Lando back yet?" He asked, not expecting any answer.

    "He said he'd call when he leaves Lothal. Anyway... I need 200 credits. They don't allow male students in the female dormitories here. Damn prudes" Han said furtively, as they left the library.

    Jaybo shook his hand for good luck, and placed a 500 credit chip in his palm, before turning away and starting looking for a cafeteria.

    An hour later, he was leaning back in his chair, belly full and hunger sated when a certain word spoken nearby triggered his implant's security.

    "That's the sad truth. My father is obsessed with this Ordu Aspectu cult, my mother left for the Outer Rim, and all the files I need were deleted by the Empire. I will speak with the Sava again, maybe he'll give me a small grant to research the Baobab Archives on Manda. Or at least credits for a ticket." a cute brunette girl complained to another girl.

    Both girls were students of archeology. Their data profiles ran on his implant, no doubt alerting his father of the new security threat.

    'She's a genius and a loose canon. But if you like her...' Pef sent after a minute, probably after checking the timeline for deviations.
    Hmmm. Pef rarely called anyone a genius. Actually, only two people on the Alashan team were ever called that.

    The paranoid Omwati girl and the psychopathic doctor.

    Another duty then. And he might find the records he needed on Manda.

    "Excuse me, I overheard you talking about Baobab? I'm heading there tomorrow, and I have a ship. A share in a ship." Jaybo said politely, looking at the genius girl's eyes. And only at the eyes.

    "What ship and what share?" her female friend asked cautiously.

    "The Millennium Falcon, at pier 399. And 50 percent share." he answered with a smile, but maintaining eye contact.

    "You're not a student here. You did not find what you were looking for?" the girl asked curious.

    "Nope. Wasted my time searching the index. But Baobab should be good. The Galactic Empire didn't reach that far during the Sith regime" Jaybo replied with another smile, then turned away and left.

    If Chelli Lona Aphra was interested, the genius girl will be waiting for him at the spaceport, tomorrow at the first light.

    It's what he would do, as a fellow genius.
     
  15. CmirDarthanna

    CmirDarthanna Not too sore, are you?

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    Now that she can turn into a Force Ghost she can appear almost anywhere she wants baring certain phenomenon and restricted areas belonging to powerful Entities of Immense Cosmic Power.
     
  16. Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Uh, you mean Miss Fay? While is true that in canon Yoda learned how to become a Force Ghost from the Shaman with 5 faces(on the Center planet), Fay has yet to learn that.
    She is now roaming the world between worlds from Lothal, much like Ahsoka did in the CGI. Problem is one cannot leave unless someone else is available to open the door, possessing of a Force Bond (like padawans and Masters).

    The Entities of Cosmic Power are pretty much all restricted or imprisoned somehow, some of them more voluntary than others.

    In my deleted chapters I had a quip about the Eternal tiny tree that Palpatine had quarantined on a Library world (https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Library_of_Xer) .
     
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  17. steamrick

    steamrick Wisdom is in pursuit, but I'm faster!

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    I haven't read the story yet, but Pef please be aware that aside from outright illegal content, current politics is just about the only thing that'll get you banned on QQ.
     
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  18. raisins

    raisins why not

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    Missing threadmark
     
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  19. Threadmarks: 80
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Commenor system, on board the Celestial Throne spacestation
    Pef Navy Block, R&D Labs.
    9BBY


    Now I felt like living in the future, as the best and brightest ship engineers in my Navy are going over the latest plans for the Orion M. Holo-schematics are being tested in virtual and no so virtual chambers, since our military grade holoprojections are tactile now.

    Nano-missiles are used instead of molten lava projectiles, to test the shields and armor against known Vong weapons.

    The plans for the new corvette show a much enlarged vessel, about 30 percent wider and 10 percent thicker. This allows for the new Ardanium II solar ionization reactors to be housed in a pair, and support the larger energy needs.

    The older heavy laser main battery had been replaced with a twin-linked megamaser, which by itself will increase the effectiveness of our ship by an order of magnitude against the Vong gravity based shields.

    The old light missiles launchers have also been replaced, as they were proven pretty much useless even against the coralskipper fighters. We have instead installed 6 medium missile launchers with diamond-boron warheads, each with a 4 missile autoloader. In tests, they will allow our escorts to destroy 20 fighters at longer range, before they come into their own weapons envelope.
    Also, the point defense Gatling lasers have been removed, since they barely annoy any Vong vessel. Instead, we are testing a new tri-barrel medium maser as close defense weapon system, as well as the more classic twin-linked medium maser batteries.

    The new tri-barrel guns look extremely cool, but I am doubtful they will become our next generation defense system. Too many design problems, as well as overheating errors which lead to early lenses decolimation. New technology is finicky that way.

    We'll most likely use 10 twin-linked medium masers for our close-in weapons and call it a day.

    'The tri-barrel masers will ensure a fighter kill in a single shot' my Core AI sent with a certain tone.

    Possibly. But no. Logistics are more important. New factories and training our workers to produce millions of untested weapons is not a feasible choice, for now.

    With an unneeded gesture, I finish compiling the holo for the new corvette and send it into the testing holo-arena to engage virtual Vong vessels.

    While the simulation runs a million times, I turn my attention to the Nebula destroyers designs in the next lab. They worked very well against the Praetorite Vong, so there's not much to change, except replacing the light missile launchers as well.

    The Ardent frigates are yet untested in real combat, except in the west. Also, they still use turbolasers. Oh well, it's not like they aren't useful, just not so much against the Vong. Still, an Ardent M variant should plug some of the fleet screen gaps.

    I begin working on the new design, upgrading the weapons to the latest Pef Empire standards. And the armor too, now that I can.

    One by one, I cycle through all of our inventory, repairing flaws and upgrading ships where needed.

    Months pass in glorious upgrade frenzy, until the last schematic of the Mountain III blinks and winks off.
    I'm done! And it feels amazing.

    Commenor system, on board the Celestial Throne spacestation
    Pef Navy Block, R&D Labs.
    8 BBY

    'Glad to know you're happy, my love.' Wialu whispers in the Voice bond, from somewhere in... Zonama Sekot?

    'Huh, I didn't know you went to visit Sekot...' I mutter with some embarrassment.

    'You were quite focused on your toy machines, Pef. We decided to let you have some fun, since there weren't any urgent crises that we couldn't solve by ourselves.' Solana sent with an amused tone.

    A quick scan of the intelligence reports. Yep, nothing huge has happened past 6 months. Quite amazing, right?
    Peffy is enjoying family life with our maids and the kids. Lucky kids, having Avatar for a father, never being sick or cold or hungry.

    Zero's daughter is now walking by herself. Somehow, that seems to be the hype of the family news.
    Meanwhile, Core has printed 100 billion of his new Centurion droids, and they can walk, talk and shoot too. And nobody is singing him praises. Damn organics.

    'Right? I work so hard, and barely anyone acknowledges my efforts. Except you, my friend.' Core sent me instantly. Well, perhaps it's not your efforts they ignore, but your entire person, which creeps out most sentients, including droids.

    The shipyards at Orion Belt have begun refitting the Navy corvettes to the new Orion M standards, and hundreds of vessels already running trials and exercises. So far they seem to work as designed.
    Of course, only combat will tell for real, but I have a feeling they will do just fine.

    Bena has a son. Which means the succession of the Empire is secured.

    Padme's twins show signs they are force sensitive. Not that surprising, considering they are called Luke and Leia. However, they are being raised by a single mother, even with the support of Satine and Kenobi.

    Satine has another child, a girl they called Allana.
    Bo named her daughter Alise, in honor of our lost maid. Let's hope she'll have a better fate then.

    In other news KDY and Kuat in general have retooled and reached maximum productivity, churning out millions of starfighters, and thousands of larger vessels. Vera is doing a good job there.

    'Thanks!' she sends amused. Right, she is a Voice as well.

    'Anything of notice with Kuat?' I asked curious.

    'Some resentment for introducing maser tech, and demanding upgrades every decade...' she whispered back.
    Ah, I did give them the tri-barrel maser design and asked them to build a new TIE fighter around it.

    Well, that's life. They will adapt or suffer.

    The Land Warrior team have finished designing the new tank and gunship, and are hopeful to reduce projected ground loses against Vong from 98 percent to about 80 percent. So there. Progress!

    The new tanks are called Land Raiders, and will have 4 centimeters of duranium armor all round, and 8 centimeters of armor frontally. They have also upgraded the weapons, using the new enhanced proton beam and a medium maser as a secondary.

    This has increased their tonnage and reduced their speed by 50 percent, but hopefully the increase in firepower and survivability will compensate. Their cost has tripled as well, which isn't that good.
    Eh, I kinda expected that, to be fair. Better weapons cost more money, right?

    Sigh. For now, we'll phase out the repulsorlift light tanks and the wheeled medium tanks, as they cost way too much(15 times as much as a Gauntlet!) and die too easy. We'll use Gauntlets in light tanks roles, and make the Raiders our new MBTs.

    The new gunships borrow a lot from the CSI gunship platform, each integrating a droid brain and are armed with a twin-medium maser turret and proton torpedoes for anti-armor roles. Another variant has only the masers, but can insert 30 battle droids behind enemy lines.

    A third gunship variant is being tested, for inserting tanks or artillery as well, but projected loses are too high, since the gunships do not have starship grade armor or shields. Plus, we do have Gozanti dropships for that role. Sending orders to cancel that last project.

    What else?

    The Navy is still hard at work in the west of the galaxy, although 50 belligerent species have been pacified and made to submit. There are bound to be thousands more, since the Unknown Regions consist of some 100 to 200 billion stars, and we have barely explored and conquered a few million new systems.
    Lots to do, I know.

    There's been rumours (and Black Ops footage) of a huge pirate gang made only of Force users. Blazing Chain or so. They'll be interesting to fight and perhaps integrate with my Paladins. They seem to use many of the same tactics, guiding blasters or projectiles with the Force.

    The stillsails are migrating towards the galactic south, and eating any ships they encounter, ours or not. Sometimes asteroids or planets too. Damn things are 100 thousands kilometers wide! Beams and missiles don't even register as pain...not sure if they should be treated as living beings or solar storms.

    The Mngall-Mngall is rumored (no footage yet!) to have eaten and subsumed yet another alien slaver empire. However, lack of subspace transmissions of slave gladiator fights for the past 4 months is a telling clue. Those guys never had stopped the Grand Arena broadcasts before.

    'We lost contact with the stealth platforms in that sector, and the Oort satellite relays as well.' my Third Hand replied when I asked.

    Well then. Another thousand star systems being marked on the holomap as Gamma threat and quarantined. Such is life in the Star Wars universe.
     
  20. Threadmarks: 81
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Belkadan system, Vector Prime
    Sparta fleet, HMS Mountain Cloud
    8 BBY


    The bridge of the newly refurbished Mountain III dreadnought was quiet and calm. It was also the third watch, and the ship's Captain was away on his off time.

    Lieutenant Hi-loos, a newly promoted officer via the Imperial Servant program looked over the bridge crew, paying special attention to the shield station, where Ensign Sara Croft was on duty. She was a beauty and a half, and he liked her for her bright mind...and the other two large reasons.

    Sadly, his pleasant reverie was rudely interrupted by the signal officer, and the beeping quiet alarm in his bioimplant.

    "Sir, there's a distortion to our port side! Not visible on our range finders, but it's modulating gravity..." Ensign Kul'huk exclaimed in a slightly panicked voice.

    *Keep calm. We seem them.

    He sighed inward, and raised a hand, gesturing upwards. With the corner of his eye, he saw Sara nod and focus on her station. Shields will be modulated to a random frequency now, as per the new anti-vong doctrine. Not even the operator would know a sure-way to bypass shields.

    The holodeck flashed red, the ship's emergency AI taking over the weapon grid. Friendly fire was not so friendly, after all.

    Far in the distance, a flash of blue light coalesced for a second into a solid beam of Force Maser, then vanished.
    A Silencer at work, most likely.

    After a few seconds, a huge plant-like sphere decloaked to their port, leaking visible green sludge.

    "Sir, a naked 5 kilometer wide dovin basal!" the sensor Ensign exclaimed out loud.

    He bit his lip, and only nodded. The Vong lifeform was very large and visible to everyone on the holomap.

    *Formation Delta-6. Link up with Fog and Nimbus, his implant transmitted directly to his mind.

    Hi-loos obeyed and swiped the new trajectory in his command deck. Linking into a defensive block with the nearest Mountains, for better close defense work.

    Engines purred and thrummed, propelling the dreadnought towards their new slot in the fleet. Forward center, as per standard doctrine for heavy warships. They wouldn't be chasing anyone today.

    Vibrations gently felt through his elbow rest let him know the AI has commenced firing at some invisible target.

    Splashes of magma from an invisible source impacted their thermal shields, and the datalink promptly advised him his port escorts, two of the new Orion M corvettes had vanished into gas and debris.

    Weren't they supposed to be cloaked?

    "Launch interceptors, cover our port side." he ordered on to the carrier deck.

    Far towards the system edge, the galaxy moved, advancing towards the fleet. No, not the galaxy.

    Millions of Vong warships, blotting out the stars.

    He gulped a bit. Sparta fleet was quite large, over ten thousands capital ships, but he doubted it would suffice. Not against this.

    "We're going to need reinforcements..." he muttered in a weak voice.

    *Don't worry, Lieutenant. I've always wanted to fight in the shade, a rather amused voice replied on his bioimpant frequency. Shade...Greyshade! The Emperor?

    Commenor system, Celestial Throne spacestation.
    Redbox.


    Okay, I've had my fun with the poor stand-in Captain. Time to get serious. Well. As much as I could fake it at least.

    "Now you see the treachery of these Vong! Millions of bioships, trillions of fanatic warriors coming to enslave us all. Our defenseless base will soon be overrun. But the victory is not yet decided. Begun, the Vong Wars have!" I proclaimed heroically.

    My Hands looked at me with dispassionate eyes, and sipped their expensive drinks.

    Well, not the AIs. But the others.

    Sigh, no sense of drama with these people!

    "Can I send my Hammers yet?" Core asked with a child-like tone.

    What? And deny our Navy heroes their glory and veneration of standing against overwhelming numbers...

    "Not yet. I don't see their worldships." I muttered in a more reasonable voice.

    One raised a mecha tentacle. Should I tell him he doesn't need to raise a hand to speak? Nah, it's more protocolar this way, I guess.

    "Yes, Fifth Hand?" I asked politely. One, my new Silentium ally also has five limbs, so the rank it's quite appropriate.

    "I suspect we won't see worldships until their vanguard secures passage through our defenses. The Vong are not stupid. They already lost a worldship at Helska." he advised me in a professorial tone.

    I nodded approvingly. Fanatical and intolerant, yes. Stupid no, not when they had Shapers and coordinators galore.

    Solana tapped her lips with a frown.

    "Yes, my dear?"

    "Solanus is beaming gravity mines in their path. Cloaked, of course." she said in a fake whisper.

    I raised my droid eyebrow, figuratively. Solanus could do that? I mean, I could teleport things, but... nevermind. Any help was welcome.

    Silent explosions marked the holomap. I wanted to add sound effects, but my AI friends were horrified at the blasphemy.

    So, no sound in space. Sigh. These people need more fun in their lives!

    X2 slurped his juice audibly, possibly in protest. No! No lightsabers versus dreadnoughts. Not even the new Paladin lightpikes. Leave war to the professionals.


    Numbers trickled down in the warscore counter, slowly but surely. The Sparta fleet was losing escorts fast, to some invisible ships or something.

    Meanwhile, the Vong were losing cruisers and smaller ships by the thousands, although their battleships seemed to absorb the detonations with ease.

    Well. I never thought this would be easy. We might still lose the North anyway.

    I ran the calculations again, using the new data coming in via the holonet. Belkadan will fall in 3 hours.

    Fleet Athena could reach there in 3 hours from Sernpidal. 2 hours if the Nebula destroyers jumped ahead.

    I glanced at Core, and he shook his droid's head. Okay then.

    Separating fleet elements would invite defeat in detail.

    "Wait 12 minutes, then send Athena." I ordered on a hunch.

    If Belkadan falls, and they begin landings, a few worldships might show up.

    One raised his tentacle, then lowered it. Well, he is rather smart. Only question is, are the Vong as smart as they think they are?

    "The Helska quarantine battlegroup has five thousand Orions as escort. They could reach Belkadan in 2 hours." I hear Zuckuss mutter for himself.

    Oh. I forgot about those, since they were detached on permanent quarantine around Helska and the orbital graveyard. Wouldn't do for scavangers to dig through dead Vong ships and infest my galaxy with alien biotech.

    Alright then. They'll all die, but we only had droid crews anyway.

    "Excellent proposal, First Hand. They shall die with glory!" I announced with flashes of shadow and fire around me like demonic wings.

    Zuckuss glanced at the spectacle and sipped his brandy unfazed. C'mon! Don't be so jaded!

    The future of the galaxy is at hand...my first Hand.

    Orders sent, and the escorts departed for glorious battle.

    Thrawn bit a bit to loud on his rice crackers, trying to hide his un-existing emotions. Fine!

    "Itching for a fight, Admiral?" I asked softly. His red eyes glared at me, then he nodded shyly.

    If I had a mouth I would smile now. He's so cute!

    "Remind me to port you over with the Athena fleet." I allowed generously.

    I mean, he was kinda our top organic Admiral. It would be a shame not to use him, to confuse the Vong in the hour of their victory.

    My Other partition monitored the other top Admiral with some nervousness. He kinda made my creepy senses tingle, the Silentium admiral. Let's hope he will only murder Vong bioforms today.

    'Don't worry so much, Pef. Solanus has his eye on him as well.' my water maid sent me in the Voice bond.

    Not even gonna ask how, since Solanus is a damned water planet, and has no eyes!

    Minutes passed slowly, as loses climbed in the warscore.

    Soon I'll have to change locations and board the Celestial Orbit, formerly known as Centerpoint station. Yanking organics from the jaws of certain death ensured their undying loyalty, after all.

    And...time to go. A Silencer cruiser was just hit and lost cloaking.

    "Good job people. I'll be back!" I explained politely, then grabbed Solana and teleported to my workstation. I even managed an appropriate quote here. (Me being a sentient droid going on an important mission.)

    She leaned on my armor and sighed softly.

    "Sometimes, I think you're just playing theater for everyone, my love." she muttered as I began saving the crew of the Silencer.

    "Well, all the world's a play, and all men and women merely players." I replied absently.

    "Are we only players? Do we not bleed if you cut us?" she whispered in a rather annoyed voice.

    Technically... but that isn't what she's asking.

    I patted her shoulder as a reply. No wonder my core memories were locked in by that nice god.

    Few sentients would react well to the real truth of their existence.

    But for now, I had monsters to kill, and citizens to save. Ontology could wait.

    More and more of my Navy ships burned under the relentless assault of the Vong, and I was kinda busy for a while.

    "Emperor, Athena Fleet will emerge from hyperspace in 30 seconds." Thrawn announced me politely.

    Right. Time to go all in.
     
  21. Threadmarks: End
    Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Belkadan system. (contested)
    8 BBY


    Half of the planet is on fire. The other half is about to be on fire soon, as rolling waves of Vong bioforms, supported by warriors and Shapers are contesting our mechanized Legions on the ground.

    The Army loses are... well. In the trillions.

    There's two worldships landed on the planet, disgorging troops by the millions. The planetary shields are long gone.

    Two more worldships are holding station in low orbit, and bombard the front lines with torrents of lava bombs and volcanic cannons. We still have a thousand theater shields covering most of the ground armies, but they get overwhelmed every minute by concentrated firepower.

    There should be four more Vong worldships, that I know of, but they are not present, or at least not visible.

    In space, there's a beehive of starfighter combat, billions of corral skippers dogfighting our Biplane droids.

    The remains of the Sparta fleet have retreated in an armored cocoon made of a thousand Mountains, most of them glowing red and melting from all the damage they endured. Two thousand Hammers continue firing from within the fortified sphere, only masers and proton beams. Missiles and torpedoes have been expended already.

    The smaller ships are scrap or worse.

    The Thermopylae plan worked, somewhat better than expected.

    Then again, most of the Vong armada is still en route.

    My Phantom steps onto the bridge of HMS Meteor One, looking like a silver and grey Centurion droid.

    "What do you see?" I ask rhetorically.

    Thrawn glances at me for second, then returns to study the holomap, and scrolling through camera angles from our various strongpoints.

    "Well. I'll do my best, Emperor. But I'm afraid the planet is lost for certain. And our fleet might not survive anyway."

    Clouds of angry droidfighters emerge from our Mountain-class carriers, and join the slaughter.

    Wing after wing, the launch bays get emptied out, turning the numbers in our favor, for the moment.

    Compared to the estimated two billion corral skippers, we have nine billion droid Biplanes, and millions of piloted starfighters.

    Then again, the Vong corral skippers are controlled via cognition hoods, and coordinated by telepathic super brains in a semblance of battle meditation with millions of years of war experience.

    I'll add my own abilities to help, but the chaos of combat is rather high now. The odds are kinda equal in my mind.

    Other is trying to cloak a few Narwals for a suicide run into the worldships, but even with the Silentium tech, the volume is so saturated with fighter and weapon fire that's impossible to drive a 25 kilometer long behemoth through without getting hit accidentally by something.

    However, even if the Narwhals do get detected, stopping a trillion ton torpedo is another matter. And worldships are not known for their ability to dodge. I give the Lancer plan 50 percent odds, and hope.

    Still, it's time to recall the organics manning the ground tanks and titans. Experienced cyborg pilots are hard to find, even a war infested galaxy like mine.

    Core is beginning his run with the Athena Hammers, trying to come in a semicircle and envelop the stationary Vong vessels in orbit around Belkadan.

    Thrawn sends our Mountains and the Nebula escorts straight at the glowing ball of metal, to relieve the besieged forces of the Sparta fleet and combine our strength.

    Frigates and corvettes hide in the fleet's shadow, trying to make themselves a smaller target. It's kinda rough on the small guys, I know.

    A few thousand Strike cruisers cover the Hammers for their run, while the Mountains will serve as an anvil.

    Overall, not a bad plan, considering we're still outnumbered a hundred to one in capital vessel numbers.

    Yeah, now you will come at me and yell. Why isn't the whole Pef Navy here?

    Duh, even bringing 20 percent here was a miracle of galactic logistics and maneuvering. We aren't an exodus fleet, departing the galaxy forever, and burning all bridges behind.

    The Navy is still enforcing peace and patrolling a dozen million inhabited systems behind us.

    Four thousand Mountains and forty thousand Hammers also take colossal amounts of hypermatter just to move.
    And we already lost a tenth of those ships, while another tenth is barely hanging on.

    Galactic scale wars are nasty business, and expensive too.

    And now let's start our own part. Acceleration times six. Battle meditation, vigor, reinforcement, valor. Hide in light. Mind shield, mind fog and a dozen other abilities.

    I draw immensely from the Force, helping our crews fight better, faster, harder.

    The Force Phantom scatters and reforms into a classic Fallanassi Simulfutur projection. Less drain now.

    Solana pats my back gently, and fatigue just evaporates. Thanks, love.

    Wait, that's not! The worldships in orbit spun, and blinked back a dozen kilometers, avoiding the Narwhals.

    Damn it. They can dodge now!

    Still, the landed worldships should not be able to avoid their fate so easily. Even if...well. Don't push asteroids in front of my former meteors! That's just rude!

    Nevermind. The Narwhals simply pierced through rock and ice and continued on their ballistic trajectories.

    And let's teleport the expensive Baneblades and the Titans back on board my station. No point losing them when...the other half of the planet bursts into flames and volcanic eruptions.

    Sigh. The planet is toast now. And well done, on both sides. And guess who will be called to repair it back to life when we win the war. If we win.

    Anyways, there go two more worldships, and all their ground armies.

    Core is engaging the Vong vanguard now, while Thrawn reached the besieged defenders and took overall command over the recovered ships.

    Now, what will you do, smart Shapers?

    Converging into a single fleet, the outer Vong elements closing in, to save the two worldships.

    Perfect! These two worldships are now hostages of a sort, until they are liberated or destroyed.

    However, they still have three times more dreadnoughts and battleships to bring into battle.

    What is Thrawn doing? Why are you retreating the Hammers?

    Oh. Four more worldships are descending on him from high above the system's plane.

    Okay. Makes sense then.

    Now. Other said he had a plan...a flash of bright light, infused with the Force too, blinds everyone.

    Maniac! That was Meteor Two! You detonated my Rakata forcefield! And my beloved Meteor, that served with honor in the Clone Wars...Sigh.

    I know they say a man can have everything if he's ready to sacrifice...but really? My Meteor?

    'Stop sulking, Pef. You lost thousands of ships and never cared till now.' Wialu admonished me from half a galaxy away.

    I force myself to open my eyes and look. Not that a rock has eyes.

    A supernova-class beam flared into the path of the four worldships, leaving behind only glowing hulks, devoid of life and souls.

    Okay, perhaps losing one numbered Meteor wasn't that bad...

    Another flash blinds me. Not again!

    I peer through my fingers, actually afraid of...not Meteor Three! No!

    That's it! I'm officially pissed now!

    "Let today be known as a day of infamy! Two irreplaceable relics from the Rakata Era have been sacrificed for the betterment of the galaxy! For Freedom!" I proclaimed on the Pefnet, while arranging for promotional holocasts(with real footage) to be sent to war academies and news stations all over the galaxy.

    A tragedy like this had to be commemorated in the annals of history!

    'You know, I can make primitive Force Soulbarriers like this quite easily. Prismatic folding is a rather classic method, but you only need a million souls to do it. Criminals would suffice.' Other said in a rather contemptuous tone.

    Wait! He can make more? Hmmm, perhaps I should give him a medal or something...

    While I debated with myself how many criminals a galaxy the size of Corsca had, and how many I could sacrifice without appearing as soul sucking monster, Thrawn took advantage of the panic and loss of coordinators from the Vong fleet and resumed his attack run, focusing down the dreadnoughts.

    I followed the battle with detachment, even as both fleets ground each other out to nothing. Our forces were rather equal now, due to the loss of Vong worldships and their yammosk telepaths.

    Parity of force is a rather nasty form of self-flagelation. Especially when involving ships measured in tens of kilometers.

    My cyborg Raptor pilots reached kills into thousands, while the Biplanes fared evenly with the Vong pilots.

    The Orions moved in to help reduce the numbers of corral skippers, while frigates and cruisers mopped up the smaller Vong vessels, with not so pleasant results.

    However, the Hammers and the Nebulas did great, each class proving their worth and the expense invested in their armor and weapons.

    A week later, the survivors of the Sparta and Athena fleets, about 20 percent of their original numbers, returned to their bases for repairs.

    The rest litter the Belkadan system with dead carcasses and hulks.

    And thus, the Vong Wars had ended!

    I mean, there should be a few thousand ships that survived and ran, but nothing bigger than a cruiser.

    The Navy will hunt them down in time, during regular patrols.

    The loss of my two numbered Meteors still hurts, but I'll learn to live with it.

    Such is life, in the Star Wars universe.

    ++++++++++++++++++
    And thanks for all the fish!

    PS: Because some readers say Pef conquered the galaxy too fast. They don't say that about Palpatine though(Sith bias).

    Pef's private empire has about 9000 stars, around Gand and the Mon Calamari area.

    There are the former CIS worlds, conquered in Clone Wars, but retained under military occupation.

    There are a hundred various polities, like small states from 50 stars to a 1000 stars which are allied with Pef via his human Avatar. Basically he married their Queens, like in Naboo, Atrisia, Hapes and Atoa.

    There is the Galactic Empire, ruled by Empress Bena, also married with the Avatar. Their Son will inherit a united empire, someday.

    And all these worlds make a few million planets. There are a trillion star systems in the galaxy. About a million millions stars.

    So, the Pef Empire is wide, but very thin. There might be a million galactic empires just as large like his, like intersecting silk sheets, but their people and ships have yet to meet each other.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019 at 5:04 AM
  22. CmirDarthanna

    CmirDarthanna Not too sore, are you?

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    Wait, how many galaxies did the Vong take over?
     
  23. Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Well. Depends on the source. Disney will have them invade My Pony galaxy for extra sales (it's a secret for now, but trust me, I know greed when I see it).

    Pef's thoughts, and confirmed by the Silentium, are that Vong are consuming their home galaxy and expanding geometrically in all directions, taking over defenseless galaxies for more slaves and biomatter. Tyranid style.

    The EU says the Vong only migrated towards the Corsca galaxy, since it was magical, or such. I mean, it's not impossible, just very, very unlikely. Same odds as firing blindly and destroying a battlestation that has 1000 kms of armor.

    For myself, the Vong are akin to a virus, and more likely to explode radially for more infection chances, then picking a rather difficult target, protected by a galactic wide hyperspace interdictor field.
     
    CmirDarthanna likes this.
  24. Psyckosama

    Psyckosama Well worn.

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    So why did the idiot patrol ban you?
     
  25. Pef

    Pef Not too sore, are you?

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    Uh. That's a long story. But pretty much a shitbag mod deleted my account and my stories. Then he used his mod accounts on other sites to do the same.
     
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