As Kor switched off the console and stood up to leave, an alert sounded to inform him of an incoming call from Aubreta. He hit the “accept” button. The screen flickered and he found himself looking at a vaguely familiar Dhiketh female. “Hello,” he said cautiously.
She nodded. “Hello. Are you Kor Sheen?”
“That’s right. Who are you?”
A relieved expression crossed her face. “I’m Thessa ne Jhemon d’Aubreta, Prauf’s sister. Is my Father there? A doctor, Morst Versio, from the Sicemon system is calling for the Jedi.”
The two-tiered system of communication they’d set up to screen themselves from the galaxy at large required Jhemon to answer all incoming calls for help then relay them to the Jedi. Kor nodded at her. “He’s upstairs drinking with Prauf, Aquila, and Melron. Hang on.” He stepped out of visual range of the screen and sent a mental message to Prauf. Thessa is calling for Jhemon. There’s an incoming call for help for the Jedi. You can have him take the call from one of the terminals up there.
A moment later, Prauf answered him the same way. Sure. Transfer her.
Kor went back to the screen. “I’ll transfer you so he can take the call.”
She smiled. “Thank you, Kor.”
He returned her smile and keyed the transfer. The screen went blank. He turned and hurried out. He was too impatient to wait for the lift. Instead, he flew up the stairs, leaping and bounding up them with the Force. He reached the lobby in time to overhear part of the conversation.
Prauf, Aquila, and Melron were hanging back out of sight of the screen. Jhemon was talking to someone, presumably Doctor Versio. “. . . won’t help, at all?” Jhemon was asking as Kor came in. He sidled up beside Prauf to listen.
“None of the core systems will help us,” Doctor Versio replied with fatigue and frustration in his voice. “They don’t want to take chances on the virus infecting any of their people.”
“What about medi-bots?” Jhemon asked.
Versio snorted derisively. “Sure, they sent some. So what? Medi-bots are only good for diseases that are already in their database. With something new like this, they’re worse than useless.” His voice climbed in desperation. “Believe me, I wouldn’t have called if there was anyone else who could help us. Can the Jedi help? I mean, are they even able to help with diseases? Or are they just fighters? That new video they released seems to indicate they’re good with living things. That’s why I called.”
Jhemon raised a calming hand. “I’ll talk to them and find out. I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”
“Alright.” Versio sounded defeated. “But please hurry. We’re running out of time.”
Jhemon nodded then cut the signal.
He joined them, shaking his head sympathetically. “Those poor people.”
“What happened?” Kor asked.
“The Empire used to have a bio-warfare lab on Sicemon. When the Emperor was killed, the lab was abandoned and left to rust. Now, one of the viruses they were weaponizing has escaped and is killing people. If something isn’t done soon, the whole planet will be wiped out.”
Kor and Prauf exchanged a glance. “We can heal people to a certain extent,” Kor said slowly, “but it’s a one-at-a-time thing. I’m not sure we can stop a planetary pandemic. That’s a bit of a reach, even for us.”
Prauf was unusually thoughtful. “Maybe we can use the Force to analyze the virus and help their doctors create a vaccine.”
Kor cocked his head. “That’s not a bad idea. It’s better than nothing.” He nodded at Jhemon. “Call them back. Tell them we’re coming and let them know what we can do.”
Jhemon smiled. “Will do.”
On the way to Sicemon, they stopped at Aubreta long enough to drop off Jhemon, Aquila, and Melron. It was the following day before they dropped out of hyperspace over Sicemon and began spiraling down.
The most recent reports about Sicemon were sketchy. It was mainly covered in vast grasslands with occasional mounds inhabited by Aiwhas, also called air whales. They were a non-sentient species of winged cetaceans native to the planet Kamino where they were used as mounts by the Kaminoans. They had been imported to Sicemon ages ago. The planet was lightly populated, with only about 3 million people calling it home. Its sole claim to fame was that it had once been the site of a small Rebel Alliance base during the rebellion against the Empire.
Its only other claim to fame, or more accurately, infamy, was the Imperial Bio-Weapons Laboratory, which, until recently, had been so secret no one even knew it was there. It wasn’t until a stanchion gave way due to lack of maintenance and cracked one of the bio-containment vessels, releasing a deadly virus onto the otherwise peaceful planet, that its presence became known.
Kor and Prauf had reviewed Morg’s lessons on healing during the trip. All his training focused on individual healing though, so they were determined to stick with their original plan unless something better presented itself.
The doctor met them at the spaceport as they disembarked from the Whimsy. “Hello. Thank you for coming so quickly. I’m Doctor Morst Versio and this is my colleague, Doctor Seena Ju.” He indicated a short, dark-haired woman with intense eyes. He was tall, with sandy hair and brown eyes. Just now they were red-rimmed with fatigue. “This way please.” He led them to a comfortable sedan. They got in and he accelerated away from the spaceport. They soared into the sky, heading for a distant complex of buildings.
On their way to the buildings, which turned out to be the hospital, Kor outlined what he thought he and Prauf could do for them.
Doctor Ju couldn’t hide her disappointment. “We had hoped for more than that. The virus is extremely aggressive. We have perhaps three months before everyone on Sicemon is dead or in terminal condition. I’m not sure that’s enough time to develop a vaccine.”
Kor bit his lip. “I’m sorry. We’ll do the best we can but appearances to the contrary, we’re not miracle workers.”
They could tell Doctor Versio was just as disappointed as Doctor Ju but he hid it better. In the Force though, his feelings stood out crystal clear. When they arrived at the hospital, he hustled them into a laboratory. There were sealed containers with samples of the E-virus in them. Each sample was being tested with different medicines, chemicals, and types of radiation. There were thousands of them lining the shelves. On the way to the lab, they’d passed room after room filled with patients in various stages of infection. Some had just been infected and others were in the final, terminal stages of the disease.
Kor and Prauf examined the containers with the Force. It was easy to pinpoint the E-virus. Its semi-living status made it equally easy to spot inside a living host. They experimented with using the Force to eliminate it and found it was nearly effortless. The difficultly lay in the fact there were billions of individual E-virus agents inside every person. They tried it on a terminal patient and working together, it took them half a day to eradicate the virus.
The patient immediately began to recover but Doctor Ju delivered the unfortunate news that the Jedi method of curing him hadn’t left him with any of the natural immunity that normally developed when a person recovered from a viral infection. He was just as susceptible to contracting the E-virus again as anyone else.
Kor slumped in a seat in the lab after hearing the news. “This is our hardest mission yet,” he told Prauf, “and it doesn’t look like we’re succeeding.”
Prauf disagreed. “We haven’t tried analyzing the virus yet. Curing that patient was just a test anyway. Let’s not give up so soon.”
He was right. He was also wrong.
Modern medical science was extremely sophisticated. Versio, Ju, and other doctors had already compiled an incredibly detailed analysis of the virus and its method of attack. Their thousands of test samples also covered every possible means of beating it. Every suggestion Kor or Prauf came up with had been tried and rejected. The thousands of samples in the lab were merely the latest batch to be tested. Altogether, the hospitals on Sicemon had tested over 250,000 different antiviral drugs and techniques, without success.
At the end of three days, a dispirited Prauf called his Father to complain about the hopelessness of their task. Jhemon listened patiently at Prauf rattled off the list of all their efforts to date. When Prauf finally ran down, Jhemon shook his head.
“But you cured that first man. That’s something.”
Prauf laughed harshly. “Yeah, and we just found out he’s sick again. He caught it from his neighbor or something.” He waved a hand in the air. “We’re just spinning our wheels.”
“But if you healed everyone, the virus would be gone.”
“Father! Weren’t you listening? It took Kor and me half a day to cure one man, and that was working together. There are over three million people here. It can’t be done.”
There was a moment of silence.
Prauf was about to end the call when Jhemon had an idea. “Can’t you use some of those ki-dar crystals to create a tool to kill the virus in people?”
“Kyber crystals,” Prauf corrected him absently. “I don’t know. Technically, I suppose we could but I don’t know how fast it would be. It could take half a day for each person.”
“Or it could be faster,” Jhemon argued. “How will you know until you try?”
“Well . . .” Prauf paused. “I guess we could give it a try. One of us would have to go back to Zosma to get some crystals” He sat up, feeling a surge of excitement. “If we could build enough of them, it might work. It might work!” He bounced to his feet. “I gotta tell Kor! Thanks, Father! Bye.”
He slapped at the switch and raced outside to find his friend.
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