Chapter 35: Ursi Ek'fon

Leritor

The footage of Lir Sey'les cut off. Behind Garmr's body, slouching in the transfer chair, was now a black screen. A cacophony of worried Bothan and Kaminoan voices spoke in and around the control terminals. Beings raced around, mashing buttons frantically.

"Is there any confirmation on Garmr's arrival?"

"Do we have a status report?!"

"Gnipahellir to Fensk, do you read?"

Ursi turned to Vasa. "What if Garmr's consciousness transfer failed?"

"Impossible," Vasa scoffed. "We've been doing this for over 200 years. Never has a consciousness transfer failed—at least not when the transferee was in a known location."

"Didn't Sey'les stand up though? Right before the footage cut out I mean—"

"—In my line of work," Senator Halle Burtoni interjected, green Kaminoan beads jingling as she turned her head, "I have learned not to speculate. It is best to come to a conclusion once we have all of the facts."

"Exactly." Vasa nodded in approval. "There comes a time when—"

"—INCOMING ESSENCE TRANSFER!" a red furred Bothan tech yelped.

"Incoming?! Consciousness transfer only works unidirectionally!"

"—Can confirm! Reading a databurst matching the profile of a consciousness. Incoming from ninety-four degrees, tracking five—"

—Sparks emanated from the electrodes over Garmr's head. On the right side of his head, one of the electrodes erupted into flames.

Garmr's left eye blinked.

"He's back! Put out the fire!"

"MEDIC!"

A Kaminoan technician sprayed Garmr's head with an extinguisher. A collective gasp echoed through the room. The Sauvax began jittering and clicking the claws, chattering to each other in a language Ursi could not comprehend.

"We need to send a transmission to Kothlis!" Vasa bellowed, leaping to her feet. Her fur was flat. "Something's gone wrong. Something's gone terribly wrong!"

Medics swarmed Garmr, one of them wiping the extinguishing liquid off his head with a towel. Quickly and professionally, they laid the Dark Lord out on the floor.

Ursi stood up, cautiously walking into the midst of the action. Garmr now stretched out on the ground, surrounded by five Bothans and a Kaminoan.

"He is… He is having a stroke!" gasped one of the medics, running a medisensor over Garmr's head, still covered in smoking electrodes. "Or, maybe he's—AHHHHH!"

With a hawk-like shriek, Garmr opened his snout, biting into the medic's neck. The medic gurgled, yelping in pain as he punched Garmr's snout.

Ursi pulled out her blaster, aiming it at Garmr—or whatever creature was now inhabiting Garmr's body. Before she could squeeze the trigger, two technicians tackled her to the ground.

"BLASTER! SHE HAS A BLASTER!"

"HOLY SHTAK!"

"KAT MU PANAN AGKAVORMAST!" ["WE NEED REINFORCEMENTS!"] a voice yelped in Bothese.

"Garmr's bit—AHHH!"

Luugor's gravelly voice screamed. "Get away from the Dark Lord!"

For a moment, the Bothans and Kaminoans quieted down, staring at the ominous crowd of Savax. The only noise was the continued struggle between a snarling Garmr and the medics.

Without further warning, the dozen of Sauvax charged forward, snapping their claws on any Bothan or Kaminoan who stood in their path.

Terrified yelps and Kaminoan screams echoed through the consciousness casting room.

One of the technicians who had tackled Ursi seconds ago, stood up, running across the room as a red and blue crab sentient chased him.

"Blast it!" Ursi yelped, raising her blaster as she lay on the ground. She aimed her pistol up, shooting the nearest Sauvax, whose shell cracked, spewing white salty-smelling guts out onto the ground.

As if taking her lead, more Bothans turned their blasters on the Sauvax.

"RIOT IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS TRANSFER ROOM!" a technician yelled into the intercom. "Activate protocol seven!"

Sitting in the midst of the bloodshed and phantasmagoria, Ursi lowered her blaster and turned her snout up, sniffing the air. A sweet-smelling odour like nothing she had ever smelled before grew stronger and stronger.

Suddenly, all around the room, the Sauvax started slowing down. Their claw swings and steps became noticeably clumsier. A second or two went by, and then, one at a time, the Sauvaxes collapsed to the ground.

Ursi spotted Luugor, lying in a pool of blood. An eviscerated Kaminoan lay next to him, cut in multiple pieces.

Snarling, Ursi walked over to her nemesis and aimed her blaster down at him. But her hand shook. The stitches on her ear ached and the dead Kaminoan should have steeled her resolve. Yet, Ursi found herself unable to kill the unconscious Sauvax.

"Ursi!" Vasa yelped. "Stop it, we need to help the wounded!"

The moaning sounds of the wounded all around came into focus. Ursi lowered her blaster, gazing around at the scene of death and destruction.

Holy hell. What just happened?

o.o.o.o.o

After the Marshals extracted Lir Sey'les from the Fensk, they left the system. The least they could have done is rendered medical assistance, Ursi thought bitterly.

Today began with her first time witnessing a consciousness transfer. In other words, her first time witnessing a maniac posing as a demon murder a thirty year old hero of the Republic Judicial Corps, spin murder into a spectacle with fanfare, and take her body for his own use. An hour after the ill-fated extravaganza, it was her first time volunteering in a hospital.

Ursi had basic first aid training, like most Spynet operatives. With half of the medical staff clawed to pieces by the Sauvax, she found herself applying pressure to wounds, wrapping bandages tightly, and even stitching Garmr's administrator's—Hira Ko's—forearm.

The Kaminoan trauma ward now had twenty-seven wounded, many of whom had lost arms or legs. They sat in beds or in bacta chambers, looking decidedly… Decidedly miserable, Ursi sighed, staring at a red furred Bothan who now had a stump where his forearm used to be. Twenty-seven crippled, thirteen dead over what?

"Oh Ursi," a familiar voice sighed in relief. "They said you were here. I didn't believe it but—"

"—What?!" Ursi snarled, turning around to face Vasa.

"Garmr… We've… Well, we think we've figured out what happened to him. We need—You'll want to see this."

Ursi blinked, then looked down. Her hospital scrubs were covered in blood. "Where are we going?"

"The brain ward."

o.o.o.o.o

Garmr's body was hooked up on life support. Flimsiplast scans of his brain at various stages were plastered all over the wall behind his bed. Most out of place was a security image of a hawk flying over one of the Kaminoan domes and an image of a dead hawk—legs curled up after it expired on the permacrete of one of the landing pads.

"What the kriff am I looking at?" Ursi scoffed, running her finger over the images of dead birds.

"I believe that is where most of Garmr's consciousness went," sighed Liac Gel, Gnipahellir's Kaminoan neurosurgeon.

A laugh bubbled up Ursi's stomach, but she fought it down. "How is that possible?"

Liac pointed to a diagram of the Fensk's location in low orbit. "Somehow, mid-transfer, the Dark Lord's essence was deflected from the Fensk… A bird, well, as you can see..." The Kaminoan's finger pointed to the portion of a diagram where some illustrator had digitally inserted the image of a Leritoran Hawk.

That explains the screech, Ursi thought with a shudder.

"I say we reset the Dark Lord," Vasa said.

"Reset?!" Ursi gasped. "How can you reset him?"

"It's not complicated, really," Liac explained matter-of-factly. "At least not complicated in theory. We simply transfer an analog of his consciousness, and transfer it to his body, overwriting the mess of hawk and Bothan that is in there now. The Dark Lord has an analog computer that is backed up every 24 hours. It was backed up less than thirty minutes before he attempted to transfer his essence to Lir Sey'les."

Ursi stammered, at a complete loss for words. "We—What?! Analog computer?"

o.o.o.o.o

After a turbolift ride down into the ocean, Ursi and Vasa found themselves in a massive hundred meter wide transparisteel sphere, surrounding a slightly smaller metallic structure, shaped like a Bothan brain. All over the structure, tiny lights flickered.

At the heart of it all, standing near the brain-analog, was a navy blue furred Bothan. "The organic mind is not a digital thing," growled Lodusk Jy'kre, acting chief systems manager. His boss had been decapitated in the incident this morning.

"Uh huh," Ursi muttered, staring through the transparisteel at a school of fish. After the shock of the injuries she had seen this morning, the fish were comforting to watch.

"This means Garmr… Garmr has been backed up?" Vasa asked.

"In a manner of speaking, Director. As I said, the organic mind is not digital. In order to host a mind outside of a conscious body, you need an analog mind… Or at least, you need an analog at our level of technology."

Ursi sighed, continuing to stare at the fish. She really did not understand any of Garmr's servants' crazed explanations about consciousness transfer. Nor did she understand why they were trying to save him in spite of all of the pain and suffering he had caused.

Vasa however, was keen on entertaining this option. "What are the downsides?"

"Even with a volume of 435,000 cubic meters, we have only ever been able to represent an analog of 83% of Garmr's mind in one of these at once—increasing the size doesn't help, it only increases distortions. A bit like the perspective issue on giant statues, you see? When you increase the size of a marble statue, the level of detail decreases, right?"

Ursi turned away from the fish, looking the technician in the eyes. "No I don't see."

"Well, it doesn't matter, Director," Lodusk stammered nervously in a nasally voice. "What matters is, the Dark Lord will be missing a good part of his memories, skills, really everything. There is also some risk his body will reject the consciousness, which would well… Kill him. If we decide to go through with it though, I can be ready in nineteen hours. Much longer than that, and we start running into decay."

Ursi reached up to her floppy ear, gingerly poking the stitches. "I say we put the Dark Lord out of his misery. Cut off life support."

"You can't be serious!" Vasa gasped.

"Do I look like I am joking?" Ursi asked, putting her hands on her hips. "Let's pretend any of this makes sense. Let's pretend we can reset the Dark Lord. Why do you want to?"

"The Dark Lord may have—I understand you have some personal vendetta against him but—"

—Ursi interrupted with a mirthless laugh. "Personal vendetta? Vasa, he has a bunch of sentients around who worship him as a demon. He tried to kill one of your psychiatric patients and came back as a hawk. Maybe the universe is trying to tell us something!"

"Garmr is an invaluable asset," Vasa insisted. "Without him, the consciousness transfer program—"

"—Kriff the consciousness transfer program!" Ursi snarled, walking angrily towards the turbolift. "It has been nothing but trouble! One thing Garmr is right on, it has made our assets rely too much on the ability to assume the identity of a host. Our organic intelligence gathering has atrophied. Look at—Look at us and Sey'les!"

"That's. That's not fair," Vasa growled cautiously.

"Not fair," Ursi snorted, stepping into the turbolift alone. "You know what Vasa? You can reset Garmr. I am done with him. Done with this place. I am flying back to Atzerri and you can come with me or stay. Your choice."

Vasa gulped. "My next assignment is on Kamino."

"Well, I can drop you off on Kamino then."

"I—I am going to see this through," Vasa stammered. "I think we need the Dark Lord's wisdom, at this time more than ever. Besides, it's not up to you to decide what is to be done about him. The Council of 12 is meeting in an hour, and my recommendation—"

"—Good luck with that," Ursi yelped, cutting Vasa off. She punched the close button on the turbolift, scowling angrily.

Vasa opened her snout to say something, but Ursi did not catch it. The turbolift door shut and it began to make its ascent to the surface.

The way Ursi saw the situation, today was the first opportunity the Spynet had in a hundred years to get rid of Garmr. If anything, the Spynet should be sending Sey'les some flowers.