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10.26.2012 , 07:04 PM |
Worlds Colliding: In which Nalenne is uncharacteristically helpful to strangers.
Nalenne, no spoilers except for There Is No Death, There Is Only Wrath. 1200 words.
Time period: After Quinn returns to life and after he leaves the S.A.B.E.R. Helicarrier, having quarreled with Nalenne. Again. Oh well, he's starting a solo military career. Meanwhile Andronikos Revel is tagging along with Nalenne's crew.
Nalenne touched down on Nar Shaddaa, just another stop on the way to mayhem. To her considerable surprise, a small balding man darted up the ship's ramp and past her into the holo room. "My lord," he squeaked. "Come back in. We have to talk. In private."
"I'm feeling generous, stranger. You have fifty words to not die." Nalenne and the crew gathered round. Andronikos kept his hands on his blasters.
"Wait," said Pierce, "I remember you. You're the guy who made
that hallucination planet-killer
the Wrath had to break back in the day."
"Yes. Yes, I am. I'm Doctor Nasan Godera and you have to help me."
"Thirty words left," said Nalenne. "More or less, I don't count well."
"Two planets are about to be destroyed and I don't know who else to call."
"Ooh, where? I want a front-row seat."
"No!" squeaked Godera. "Listen to me. I was working on a highly classified project."
Pierce perked up.
"It was a weapon designed to be installed in a planet to move it out of orbit, irrevocably changing planetary conditions and leading to the destruction of the whole thing."
"That's terrible," breathed Jaesa.
"We built the prototype on Nosovil IV. It was a good candidate: Low mass, out of the way galactically speaking, and hardly populated at all."
"Oh, great. Hardly-populated planets are the best ones to blow up," said Vette.
"Sith clan prefers heavily populated," buzzed Broonmark.
"I'll assume he just said something outright evil," said Vette.
Godera continued. "I had a crisis of conscience just after it was completed. I realized I could never let this be used."
"Just like the last fifty things you've prototyped?" Pierce said dryly.
"Exactly!" cried Godera. "So I had it buried."
"And someone unburied it?" guessed Nalenne.
"Not quite. All that material blocked the exhaust."
"…It was still running?"
"Backup batteries. The staff forgot. Anyway, the weapon won't activate, but complicated reasons having to do with gaping design flaws are building up pressure as we speak. Not only is the whole thing going to blow within hours, on its predicted trajectory the planet will collide with Nosovil III. Billions will die." Godera's eyes filled with tears. "That Sith that the Hero of Tython goes around with started intercepting and summarily hanging up on all my calls for help with this sort of thing months ago. Please, you stopped one of my superweapons once. You can do it again."
"I could," Nalenne said slowly, "but I'm a little confused as to why you think I would want to."
"There are people on those planets!" He looked tearfully at her unmoved face. "Imperials! Doesn't that mean anything to you?"
"Doctor, there's one Imperial in this galaxy I care about. The rest are entertainment."
"Thanks for that, milord," said Pierce.
Nalenne jumped and looked guilty. "You could've been the one I was talking about."
"You're a terrible liar, milord."
"Okay, two Imperials." Nalenne leaned over to catch Andronikos' eye. "For clarification, I'm not counting you as an Imperial."
"Stars, I hope not."
"Master," said Jaesa from the coffee table console. "One of those Imperials is on planet."
"No. Why would Quinn be assigned to Nowhereville III?"
"Nosovil III, my lord," said Godera.
"Insanity Company was sent there. Records don't say why." She looked up at Nalenne. "I just thought I'd check, you know, before you let two planets burn."
"Collide and partially disintegrate," said Godera. "The burning will be purely incidental."
"Lay in a course, Andronikos," ordered Nalenne.
"Do we have to? It's just the guy who walked out on you."
"Lay in a course," Nalenne said quietly. "I don't like even you enough to say it a third time."
"Right." Andronikos disappeared to the bridge.
Nalenne turned to Doctor Godera. "Now what do you expect us to do about it? I seriously doubt going down with shovels will help."
"You could get your ghost to sneak past the blocks and shut down the power source?" Godera said hopefully.
"The ghost couldn't have touched the power controls, he has a body now anyway, and he isn't with us. Try again."
"We could blow it up," suggested Pierce.
"Somehow I doubt blowing up the thing that's threatening to blow up is going to change the course of events," said Vette.
"We break the blockage, Vette. The whatever-it-is will exhaust normally."
Godera nodded. "And my staff can disassemble it after the danger is past so it can never be used."
"But why wouldn't you leave fully functional superweapons lying around?" Vette asked innocently.
"An insightful question," blipped Broonmark.
"Listen, milord, remember those megamissiles you wouldn't let me buy back at the pirate bazaar on Hoth?"
"Pierce, Andronikos said they would've killed the hyperspace mileage on the ship, and besides that the launchers were ugly as virtue."
"What if we just bought 'em for one-time use?"
"It's your best chance," said Godera. "Perhaps the only one."
Nalenne started for the bridge. "Maybe we can make that detour in time."
The galaxy's most slapdash bolt job secured the missile launchers to the S.A.B.E.R. Helicarrier as it streaked through hyperspace to the Nosovil system. Jaesa made multiple efforts to contact Quinn via holo, but since the reconstruction of the ship's holo they had had a new frequency and Quinn wasn't answering the new one. He would get no warning.
Nalenne slid her hands over Andronikos' shoulders as he maneuvered into orbit over Nosovil III, seeking a good shot at the location Doctor Godera pointed out. "If you make this in time," she said, "I'll make it very much worth your while."
"Huh. You realize you're offering sexual favors in exchange for rescuing your husband."
"Is it going to work?"
"Well, yeah, but still. Weird."
Pierce, wisely, didn't comment. Instead he flicked another couple of controls at his console. "Targeting systems coming up. And, ready when you are."
"Go for it," said Andronikos.
The missiles shook the ship so violently upon launch that everyone fell over and most of them bounced into walls. Nalenne scrambled to her feet to grab Godera by the scruff of the neck and drag him to one of the monitoring stations. "Tell me if it worked."
"Fixing our damn orbit first," said Andronikos, dragging himself back to the pilot's chair. "Those were ridiculous."
"That's the point," grinned Pierce.
Godera watched the console anxiously. Nalenne had chewed most of the way through her lip before he finally closed his eyes and relaxed. "The primary exhaust on the planet's surface is clear. It seems to be venting nonviolently."
"So everyone on both planets is not going to die."
"Not because of me, anyway," said Godera.
"Oh," Broonmark blorped disappointedly.
"Ordinarily I would just off you now," Nalenne told Godera, "but it's so much funnier to leave you on the loose. Jaesa, drop him off someplace." Nalenne grabbed Andronikos' tunic. "I'll be busy."
Vette watched them go and blinked. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but is she about to celebrate the rescue of her husband by banging Andronikos Revel?"
"Yup," said Pierce.
"…And yet," said Vette, "as of right this moment she is still not the most unethical person on the ship."
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