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Old 04-29-2006, 02:54 AM   #60
machievelli
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Too late

Again it came down to simple geometry. A ship on a direct course from Nar Shaddaa had to travel a greater distance, but the Jedi ships left an hour and a half too late.

*****
The trio of Jedi ships dropped out of Hyper space less than 400 kilometers from the Bondrant.

“Sulisht control, this is Jedi courier Knight of Corellia, Master Soo-chin commanding. The ship approaching your planet has a lethal chemical aboard. It must be stopped immediately.

Jedi ships. You are not welcome. Depart or die.“

“Sulisht control, destruction of that ship is imperative. We are approaching to destroy it at this time.”

As The couriers charged after it every communications channel was broken by a transmission in Sulishti;

Warning. Attacked by Human vessels

Protect, protect.

The attack was masterfully planned. Bondrant was unmanned. Better that a system fail than someone suddenly in fear of their life abort it. After all, this was only a secondary attack. It it failed, the other would succeed.

Landru had studied his enemy well. Being insects, their primitive forebears had used several different chemical signals, that predated language, and their communications systems aboard their ships still did. These signals as with the human brain reach past the conscious mind, setting off alarms that are reacted to not consciously, but with a biological imperative far beyond reason. A signal of this sort will hurl a mass of stinging death against a bear or insects ten times their size. Launch an attack that ends when the enemy is dead or every defender is. Will cause them to even throw themselves against a fire or flood trying to bury it under their own bodies.

In reaction to that imperative the Sulishti warships in orbit turned, moving outward to protect their executioner.

“Sulishti control this is-” Master Soo-chin began.

“Depart.”

“We have to-”

“Depart or die.”

“All ships. We have to blow it up before it reaches Sulisht.” She ordered.

“What about the Sulishti?” Lang asked.

“Avoid them if possible, but that cargo ship must be destroyed!”

The three Jedi vessels spilt up, charging for their target.

The Sulishti were confused. The signal was in their language, the wording exact and correct, but somehow wrong coming from a ship they had never designed. But the language was imperative, and a score of fighters led the fleet into the attack.

Honor Blade dived right, rolling, her guns ripping into a fighter, then lunged past it. Other fighters barred Lang’s way, and he grimly settled down to merely defending himself. Knight of Corellia, broke to the left, trying the same, but was quickly cut off and Master Soo-chin found herself also unable to do anything but defend herself.

Sanji was in the center. His ship dove in, blasting a pair of fighters to scrap, then was on the tail of the freighter. Her guns blasted, but Bondrant had been modified with all of this in mind. The heavy armor on her stern shrugged off the hammer blows of his guns. Rafe Morale dodged a lunging attack by a trio of Sulishti fighters. “We need to use missiles!” He shouted.

Sanji nodded, turning to the second panel, flicking on the switches arming the three missiles Kreekta carried. The ship suddenly slammed to the right, and air shrieked through a gap in the transparisteel cockpit.

Sanji reacted. He slipped his air mask on, still setting the panel. A red light flashed. The burst had shredded the missile bay.

“Rafe get us out of here!” He spun. Rafe would never smile at him again. A shell had blown his head open. He remembered Yodai back on Coruscant when he had gone to the Admiralty.

Master no sense it makes that I must not go.

Padawan, your time has not yet come. Stay here you will. You will be a Padawan Teacher on the dawn, as you deserve

Place beside you I belong.

Trust in the Force. You are needed here. Where I go you won’t follow yet.


Sanji closed his eyes, then opened them, flipping the switches that transferred control from left seat to right. He turned whipping into a spin, Rafe’s hands following his, still locked on the controls by his death. Sure my young friend. Help me. I couldn’t do this without you.

He raised the nose, running down the side of the massive ship, then turned, boring toward the dead center of mass. If he hit it just right-

An instant before impact a shell from a heavy projector smashed the nose of Kreekta. Sanji was killed instantly. He never knew that he had not only failed, but done so catastrophically.

Kreekta had been blown into a sharp turn, aiming not at the side of the massive freighter or at the bow, which might have helped. Instead she rammed the portside stern of Bondrant, exploding. Engines disabled, the ship continued her plunge, actually pushed into a much better angle by that helpful tap. The ship whipped around the atmosphere at less than 25 kilometers altitude station keeping thrusters holding off her immolation, gas streaming from her holds as the dive shallowed out. Then it lurched, the station keeping thrusters had exhausted their fuel, the ship dipping to finally head for the surface. The gas had been evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere, sliding downward as the heavier molecules were attracted by gravity. As she began this final dive a series of small charges pushed small packets out that deployed ablative shields. Her nose glowed, and the ship fell, coming apart as it punched down through the atmosphere, then impacted into one of the giant nests of the Sulishti.

As if planned, every Sulisht ship stopped firing, every bow turned toward the plant so far away. Soo-chin felt a wave of something through the force, but it wasn’t death,

A shuttle was taking off below, but as it started to leave the atmosphere it suddenly plunged back as if afraid.

“Human ships, human ships. This is Admiral WWelldori. We have reports of widespread madness on the planet. People boarding shuttles are reporting intense fear and pain as they approach their ships. Explain.” As the signal was sent, the Sulishti fighters withdrew toward their fleet.

Soo-chin stared aghast. The com channels from the planet were inundated. More shuttles, even a warship started to lift, then suddenly settle back down on the planet.

“Admiral, a madman attacked several locations, several planets and peoples. He released a gas which drive people mad and they murder anyone around them.”

“We know of this. Our station in orbit was destroyed because of it.”

“The gas affects were discovered to be permanent in your species. We came to stop that weapon from being deployed.”

“Yet there are no reports of such a killing madness. Instead our people return to their nests and cower. The ships that were supposed to lift and repel you have refused to fly. Instead they cower unable to even leave their vessels.”

Soo-chin shook her head. “He has modified it again, somehow. Perhaps this madness is related to the chemical.”

“Perhaps. But if it has caused our people to become as they seem to be becoming, we can never travel in space again.”

“No Admiral.” She snapped. “You and your crews still can. If your race is to survive, you must not go home. If you and your crews value the lives of their race. Wish to protect them still, do not attempt to land of Sulisht.” She considered. “Anision is still available. You can start a new society there.”

“Too far. We must build a new station. One free of this contagion.” There was a long pause. “One that our own people below can never visit for fear of this madness spreading.”

“We will bring your case before the Galactic Trade Authority. Once we have discovered a way to cleanse what must come to you from below, we can begin shipping it in sealed and depressurized lighters.”

“We have no choice.” The Admiral finally answered. “To protect our people, we can never go home. Guide us in this Master Jedi.”
*****

The talks went on for several days.

Soo-chin stared at the planet. From below the com lines were still open, but all were filled with the fear these people now had. Even flights from place to place on the surface had ceased. WWelldori had acted as the mediator between the planet and the Jedi, and while long and convoluted, for once the Sulishti and the Humans above were working to the same point rather than at cross purposes.

Message torpedoes had gone out, and ships began popping out on the last day of the meeting. Coruscanti cargo vessels loaded with formed metals to begin construction, tools for working it, and several manufactories designed just for the Sulishti to operate. It would take the better part of a year, but one of the first ships reported that a Czerka Corporation was sending a full scale repair dock to arrive within the month so that the Sulishti fleet in orbit could be maintained.

“How long do you think this will last?” She asked.

Padawan Losian her student shrugged. “The natives or the contagion?”

“The affects on races other than the Sulishti?”

“Maybe forever. Until we have a measure of how this chemical was manufactured and how it degrades, it’s too soon to tell.”

“Record it. Record it all.” She sighed. “Honor Blade, this is Knight of Corellia. Deploy the warning buoys.” Both ships turned, and they seeded the space with glittering gems. As each fell from the ship, it activated.

Warning, Planet Sulishti has been affected by a chemical weapon lethal several species. Do not land under any circumstances. This agent is deadly, and will remain deadly for an estimated minimum of 20,000 years. All communication with the planet is via Station Omega 1 in orbit. This is your only warning. A few moments later, it repeated, each buoy covering a different band, in every known language.

Finally Knight of Corellia broke the silence “Come on, Lang. There’s nothing we can do.”

The two ships turned, headed away.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 05-03-2006 at 03:37 AM. Reason: rewrite
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