Since installing Force-tech in the Whimsy, they always carried a few spare kyber crystals with them. They were small, about the size and thickness of a fingernail. So, before taking off on a potentially unnecessary trip to Zosma, they tried building a virus killer using the crystals they had on hand.
It took a couple of tries but they finally settled on a rectangular frame suspended between two poles. A kyber crystal, tuned to a lethal frequency for the E-virus, was placed inside each of the four sides to create overlapping fields. Servo motors raised and lowered the frame while the patient stood inside it. The field was turned on, then the patient stepped inside it and the servos raised the frame until it passed the top of the patient’s head and the patient stepped away. The servos reversed and lowered the frame to the floor for the next patient.
The Force in the powered frame was so strong it only took one treatment, lasting about 10 seconds, to completely eradicate the virus in each patient.
Doctor Versio was ecstatic. “With the right modulation, we can tune this device to kill any virus, not just the E-virus. This is a huge medical advance!”
Doctor Ju was equally happy. “No more experimenting with vaccines every time a new virus develops. Just spin the dial until you find the lethal frequency for that virus, run the VEA over the patient, and they’re cured.” VEA was the acronym for what she called the Virus Eradication Armature.
Once they confirmed the VEA worked, Kor took off in the Whimsy, pushing the engines to the limit for the trip back Zosma to collect as many kyber crystals as they could spare. Prauf stayed on Sicemon to oversee the construction of more VEA’s with the remainder of the kyber crystals they had with them. A nearby factory was put on full alert producing as many of the devices as possible. When Kor returned, they could be loaded with crystals and dispersed around the planet.
While Kor was collecting crystals from the growth tanks at the Lodge, he manually updated Morg’s AI avatar with all the specs on the E-virus and the VEA’s. Almost immediately the avatar recommended a reduction in the number and size of the crystals needed for each VEA.
“According to my calculations, one kyber crystal, a tenth the size of the ones you’re using now, will be sufficient to eradicate any virus the device is used on. The field size will be just over 2 meters in diameter, sufficient for most standard humanoids. On larger species, you’ll have to use more or larger crystals, of course.”
Kor kept forgetting the avatar was a computer program with an artificial intelligence imprinted on it. The AI understood the significance of their discovery and had the initiative to use the computer’s calculating power to test various scenarios in record time then make recommendations based on the results. He called Prauf right away with the news.
“Wow, kid. That’s great,” Prauf enthused. “We’ll start modifying the existing VEA’s right now and change the design specs at the factory.” He paused and looked around to make sure no one was listening. “You know, I honestly didn’t think we were going to win this one.”
Kor laughed. He understood the feeling. “You and me, both.”
He finished loading the Whimsy and headed back to Sicemon. By the time he arrived, the news media were swarming around the spaceport. It took an army of security guards to push the reporters back so he could get the crystals to the hospital.
Prauf bared his teeth at the hated media then welcomed Kor with a rib-cracking bear hug. “You gotta see this, kid. These people are motivated!” He led him to a warehouse on one side of the hospital complex. He threw open the doors to reveal row upon row of VEA’s silently waiting for the insertion of their kyber crystals.
“Whoa!” Kor was stunned. “How many are there? How’d they get so many so fast?”
“Over ten thousand,” Prauf informed him. “They’ve got five factories working around the clock turning them out. And like I said, these people are motivated. Looking death in the face will do that to you.”
“You don’t say,” Kor commented sarcastically. “May I remind you, I know a thing or two about staring death in the face or exploding landing craft anyway. And in case I haven’t told you lately, I hate you.”
Prauf roared with laughter.
A week later it became obvious the E-virus was being eradicated at a steadily increasing pace. Although a few people had become reinfected after their treatment with the VEA, another quick trip through it wiped out the reinfection as fast as their original infection had been cured. The sheer number of VEA units, coupled with the speed at which they worked, was overwhelming the virus’ ability to keep up.
“We’re beating it,” Doctor Ju proclaimed triumphantly at their morning meeting. “In a few days, the E-virus will be just a memory.” A few nights of restful sleep without having to worry about new infections had worked wonders for her. She was bright and chipper.
Doctor Versio was equally upbeat. “And, we’ll be able to use this technology on any other virus that rears its ugly head, here or anywhere else in the galaxy. We owe it all to you two.” He gestured grandly at Kor and Prauf. Kor ducked his head with embarrassment. Prauf just nodded, keeping a poker face. “The President wants to see you this afternoon for a State ceremony in your honor,” Versio continued.
Kor started in alarm. The last thing he wanted was to get bogged down in anything that reeked of officialdom. Not only did it bore him to tears, but it might also create the perception they were on the side of the Sicemon government. Prauf’s reaction was even more extreme but Kor ignored the violent images he was getting from his friend. “We’ll have to decline,” he said quickly. “It’s time for us to get back to our own planet.”
“But the President wants to bestow our highest honor on you,” Ju protested.
“And there’s the matter of your payment,” Versio added.
“NO!” Prauf struggled to keep his voice under control. “I mean, no, we don’t accept payments, just donations that suit you and your people. Whatever you decide to donate is fine with us. Send it to Aubreta and they’ll alert us when it arrives.” He stood. “Meanwhile, my friend is right, it’s time for us to go home.” He headed out.
Kor rose and followed him as if it were choreographed.
Versio, Ju, and their staff trailed behind, protesting that they needed to remain for the ceremony, that they were heroes, the whole planet wanted to honor them. Kor and Prauf ignored it all. They sensed the presence of the media outside, so they were prepared for the tumult when they stepped outside.
The press tried to mob them but Kor and Prauf used the Force to keep them at bay. They maintained carefully neutral expressions on their faces as they made their way to the spaceport where the Whimsy waited for them. They’d had to request the local security forces throw a cordon around the ship to keep nosy reporters from swarming all over it or breaking into it.
Kor activated the ramp controls as they approached it. The ramp folded down and they marched up it. At the top, they turned and he held up his hands for silence. The media finally quieted down.
“Thank you for your interest in the Jedi. However, rather than hold press conferences or act like self-important fools, we prefer to let our actions speak for us. Thank you.” He turned into the ship, Prauf hard on his heels. They closed the ramp, then stood by to ensure no one tried to sneak aboard while it was retracting.
It finally closed and locked.
Prauf let out an explosive sigh of relief. “Let’s get outta here!”
Kor slid into his captain’s chair. “I hear you. He glanced outside. Are we clear?
Prauf did a quick scan with the Force. “There’s a few of them who are too close but I think they’ll get the message as soon as we fire up the engines.”
Kor started flipping switches. “We’re about to find out.”
He felt squawks of fear in the Force as the media stumbled over themselves in their haste to get away from the engine exhaust and blast. He grinned. “It looks like you were right.”
Prauf returned his grin. He ran an eye over his board. “Course plotted and laid in.”
A voice came over the comm. “Whimsy, President Tambor requests you delay your departure until tomorrow morning. Please power down your engines. Departure clearance is not granted.”
Prauf stabbed a button. “Tower, haven’t you heard? The Jedi enforce honesty instead of laws. Whimsy out.” He nodded at Kor.
Kor grinned and took the Whimsy into the air, retracting the landing gear as he angled it into the sky and applied power. The light on the comm blinked frantically as the Control Tower tried to contact them. They ignored it.
Prauf suddenly frowned irritably. “Are they for real?”
Kor felt it too. A disturbance in the Force indicating several fighter craft ahead, moving to block them. His teeth clenched. “Prauf! Scan them. Do they have parachutes or any kind of emergency safety equipment?”
“Alright,” he growled. He punched some buttons. “Yeah, they do. So?”
Kor stood up. “Take the controls. I’m going to teach them a lesson.” He sent Prauf a quick mental image of what he planned.
Prauf laughed behind his back as he strode aft to the closest ramp. I don’t think we’re gonna get any donations from them after this.
Responding to Kor’s mental image of his plan, Prauf slowed the Whimsy, maneuvering it across the path of the approaching fighter craft. Kor hit the ramp controls and jumped out as soon as there was room for him to slip through the opening. He used the Force to pull himself back to the Whimsy and scrambled up to the top of the ship’s hull. He felt Prauf close the ramp behind him.
Kor eyed the fighters as they slowed and formed a tight circle around them. He backed up slightly then ran and jumped toward the first one, boosting his speed with the Force. He landed on the nose of the fighter, coming face-to-face with the startled pilot through the cockpit window. He activated his lightsaber and sliced through the canopy, tearing it to shreds. The pilot gasped in fear. Kor grinned at him. “You can’t follow us into space now, can you? And just to make sure –” He jumped for the rear of the ship and stabbed the engines with his lightsaber. They instantly began coughing and sputtering. Smoke billowed out as they failed.
He was ready for it and jumped to the next fighter. He didn’t bother with the pilot this time, he went straight for the engines, slicing into them and jumping for the next fighter. He managed to disable the third fighter before the last two realized what was happening. They sheared off and he leaped for the Whimsy as the third fighter plummeted toward the ground.
He landed easily then stalked back along the hull watching the fighters. They’re behind us.
I feel them and I can see them on the screen. Do you want me to scare them off with the guns?
No, hang on. Let’s see if they got the message. Kor kept watching them, his lightsaber lit and at the ready.
Three chutes deployed, Prauf reported.
Good. I’d like to get out of this without bloodshed if we can. The fighters dropped back several kilometers, spreading out behind them. Are they signaling us?
No, but our long-range scanners are picking up ten more heading our way on an attack vector. I’m opening the hatch. You better get inside.
Kor cursed and dove for the hatch. I’m in! Go! He hit the controls to close it.
Prauf accelerated recklessly. The two fighters behind them hit their jets moments after the Whimsy did. The scanners showed the other fighters changing course to intercept them. Kor slide into his seat. “What is this? We save their whole planet and now they’re going to shoot us down because we didn’t go to their parade?” He glanced at the board. “How soon will we be clear of the atmosphere so we can jump?”
“30 seconds but the fighters behind us will catch up in 20.” Prauf began activating the automatic firing sequences on their rear guns.
Kor held out a restraining hand. “Wait! There’s got to be some way out of this without killing anyone.”
Prauf glanced at the board. “15 seconds. Make it fast.”
Kor cudgeled his brain for an alternative to killing the pilots. What was it Morg had said about strength versus skill? Maybe this was a good time for it.
“10 seconds.” Prauf’s hand was hovering over the fire controls.
“Let’s combine our strength with the Force to knock them out. It’ll give us a chance to escape.”
Prauf shrugged. “Eight seconds. It’s now or never.”
Kor stretched out his feeling to Prauf and felt him reaching in return. Then together they reached back for the two pilots behind them, reaching further than either of them could have done alone. Their combined strength was enough for the task and they touched the pilot’s minds, rendering them unconscious. Their hands fell off the controls and their ships slowed.
“Yes!” Kor pumped his fist in the air.
Prauf took his hand off the fire controls. “The other fighters will get here in 20 seconds but we’ll be gone in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, now!”
Kor punched it and the Whimsy vanished into the stars.