Obi-Wan, meanwhile, was not exactly having the best of days. He hated being confined. Like all Jedi, he hated losing his lightsaber. And above all, he hated the slight, worrying eddies of Dark Side energy. With the interference from the confinement field, he couldn’t even tell whether Darth Sidious was there, or whether the energy came from something else – and if so, what?
Soundless as a dead thing, Dr. Vindi glided into the room, careful to keep out of Obi-Wan’s line of sight. The Jedi Master didn’t even sense his presence until he spoke.
“I’m sure you’re beginning to vonder by now, Master Kenobi. Vhy you are here, perhaps? Vhat I vant vith you, maybe?”
Obi-Wan willed himself not to answer, not to scream at Vindi to stop toying with him and tell him what was going on. Astoundingly, the man seemed to be waiting for an answer. He managed a non-committal “hm” through tightly clenched teeth, and hoped Vindi would keep talking.
“The original formula of the Blue Shadow Virus vas remarkably effective.” The thin face clouded over with frustration. “Remarkably effective, that is, for poisoning an entire planet. Less so for exerting pressure on von individual subject. But not to vorry, Master Kenobi. I solved that problem too. In the end,” he added reflectively, “It vas really qvite simple. The drawback vith the original formula in this application is that it kills almost instantly.” Vindi paused. “Vhy am I telling you all this? Is that it? Vell, the answer is as simple as most others. You are going to die here. I have… acqvaintances in the Senate, and the Jedi tell the Senate about all missions of Galactic significance. So I know: you are alone and there vill be no rescue. In these circumstances no plans vill be damaged by your knowing how you vill die.”
Obi-Wan didn’t want to scream at Vindi now. He wanted to know more. The news that the rumor about Darth Sidious” Senate contact was true he filed automatically for future reference. Trying to maintain a normal tone of voice, he asked Vindi, “So tell me. How am I going to die?”
Vindi seemed delighted. “Slowly, Master Kenobi. Slowly.” This wasn’t information. This was… gloating. The doctor went on, “My new strain is designed for injection. Vhen the concentration in the bloodstream reaches fifteen ccs per liter, the virus vill begin to reproduce itself. To grow, in other vords, until you die. There is then the added benefit that as your corpse decays, the residual virus is released in its airborne form. Just a little trick I planned to keep anybody from wanting to rescue von of my subjects. It couldn’t be better.”
“I needed a Jedi to test it on. The Force-sensitivity makes the results unpredictable. And now I think ve have talked enough.” Theatrically, Vindi brought his hands out from behind his back. “This syringe contains seventy-five ccs, which is enough to kill an ordinary being of around your size. I’m curious to know how you vill react to it. Now don’t move. Oh, sorry. I forgot. You can’t.”
Expertly landing the ship on Dorshan late at night, Siri told herself firmly that even she and Garen, experienced Jedi Masters with long histories of risky and secret missions, were nervous, so of course she would not censure young Threeb for the pale, shaken fear of her Force aura. Terrifying as all their previous missions had been, this would be by far the worst, for the simple reason that if anybody asked, the Jedi Council would deny having any more than one Jedi at Dorshan. If the trio failed to find Obi-Wan, the Council would cut all four of them loose and leave them to die, abandoning a few Jedi in order to keep Galactic politics from disbanding and banning the entire Order. Siri tried to keep every hint of the situation’s true seriousness buried at the back of her mind, because, well, what Garen and Nasriel didn’t know couldn’t hurt them, or could it?
Garen whistled softly for her attention. “Hey. We’re talking plans over here. Threeb, have you ever heard the term ‘division of labor’? It means we split up and get done twice as fast. We’ll get in separately so we don’t all get caught at once, and then you girls find Vindi. I’ll find Obi-Wan. We’ll meet in the central lab. Destroy any battle droids you see, but save an EmDee if you can – we may need it. Don’t open a door you don’t have to. Clear? Great.”
Moving with the soft swiftness mastered only by the Jedi, Nasriel and Siri rapidly surveyed their options. Nasriel pointed to a window on the second floor. “There. It’s perfect: it isn’t even sealed.”
The older Jedi shot her an exasperated glance to see if she was serious. “No, it’s totally un-perfect because it isn’t sealed. That means Vindi knows about it, which means that to go in there is certain death. Probably his idea of a joke – an unsealed window is how he got out of the prison. Find another window and smash it. Take your pick.”
Nasriel kicked off her boots, gauging the ten-meter wall with a practiced eye and finally settling on a small window barely half a meter square on the third floor. Fast as a chikka climbing a tree, the blue-skinned Padawan scrambled up the building, finding finger and toe holds in impossible cracks between the weathered white stones of the wall. When she reached the tiny window, she turned to smile sweetly at Siri, white teeth flashing in the twilight, and shattered the window with her lightsaber hilt. Slivers of glass tinkled to the ground like a shower of diamonds, and Nasriel, gripping a catch on the inside of the window to keep her balance, quickly stripped off her outer tunic and flung it over the lower edge of the broken window, before easing her slim body inside.
Siri waited patiently on the stony bank below until the Padawan, her search for a rope fruitful at last, tossed down one end of an electric cable and beckoned Siri to join her. Once crouched in the window frame, the older Jedi watched as Nasriel, barefooted, leapt over the minefield of glittering broken glass that littered the floor of the bare, white-walled room, and then followed her to the door into the corridor. Siri was not sure, on later reflection, how many rooms the two of them investigated, only to find yet another deserted chamber, full of shelves of chemicals or rows of test-tubes. Strangely, there did not seem to be a single droid activated in the entire complex, not even a medical droid, an EmDee. After nearly ten minutes and nearly a kilometer of dark, echoing corridors later, they pushed open the glass door to a room full of twisted transparent piping full of pale blue liquid and gas, with a massive fume hood at the very back. And bent over the fume hood, in the glare of a floodlight, was Dr. Nuvo Vindi.
Siri stalked up to stand just behind him, and, checking that his hands and pockets were empty of any deadly potions, she activated her lightsaber. “Don’t move a muscle, Doctor. I have no orders to keep you alive. Don’t even speak unless I tell you to.”
At the door, Nasriel whispered, “Yo. Battle droid coming. I’ll deal with.” A smooth stroke of a saber, a shower of sparks, and the droid was no more. “Let’s go. You might bring ol’ creepoid along to keep him out of trouble.”