The Alchemist

Draco Maligo

17-01-2008 04:38:06

After the debacle that was our personal introduction to the Yuuzhan Vong, our leadership quickly figured out that it would take intelligence rather than brute force to win the war. They engaged in a three-part plan of action: Infiltrate spies into the New Republic to learn everything about the YV from their main foe; rebuild our military strength, both in membership and warships; and create weapons through the use of alchemy.

Despite the loss of Antei, and the Dark Brotherhood alchemist workshop, most of the wizards escaped. In particular was an elderly human, dark-complexioned and wrinkled. He was of a mercurial nature. Some thought him insane, but his mind was sharp and inquisitive. Dark Jedi Master Novus, the primary Sith alchemist, directed our efforts to two major areas – the creation of beasts that would specifically target the Vong, and toxins that would affect their physiology. It wasn’t hypocritical to take a page out of our enemy’s playbook. Being dark Jedi, we would do whatever it took to prevail. Lie, cheat, steal. And the YV, despite their superior size and strength, were themselves not above using proxy troops to do their fighting for them.

So we were not afraid to genetically alter some of the vicious predators of this galaxy to go after them. We had numerous corpses to work with, studying their DNA to discover genetic triggers to weaken or destroy their physiology. After several months we had developed three animals to work on the Vong: a venomous snake; an altered manka cat; and a modified Almanian vampire bat. All three could deliver toxins that we thought would be greatly injurious, if not fatal to them, and all were given enhanced olfactory senses that would enable them to sniff our their prey.

Theory is one thing, but real life was another. Our work in the labs was tedious, demanding and dangerous. We put in long hours looking into microscopes, mixing dangerous chemicals, and breeding violent creatures. Toiling in dim light while breathing noxious fumes. Injecting tissue samples with numerous poisons and slathering on alchemical concoctions. The number of accidents was high, and a few of our members died.

But this was vital research, and sacrifices had to be made. Being from another galaxy, the YV were of interest to every xenobiologist we employed from outside our ranks. Strangely, they were genetically very similar to humans. Only a couple of their genes were completely alien. Early on we discovered a brilliant method of polluting their nursery planets to introduce genetic weaknesses into all their biots – coral skippers, vonduun crabs and amphistaffs. While giving us a decided advantage in combat, this was, unfortunately, a long-term project, for we would have to poison each of their supply planets and wait for the tools of war to be grown and distributed. It would take a year or more to produce tangible results, and we wanted something quicker.

Our work with cats, snakes and bats produced three good leads, but we needed to be sure they worked before we put our breeding program into full production. That required something that was next to impossible – capturing a number of live Vong to experiment on. From the files we stole from the New Republic, we knew that the YV would kill themselves in captivity, and fight to the death to avoid capture.

But we had ways around that. All living creatures, even the alien ones, had bio-electric impulses running through their brains and nervous systems. Therefore, they would respond to electric shock. Stokli made an electrical capture net that we could use, even without any modification. So the clan summit put together a strike team at the behest of the Dark Council.

So I found myself, after months of spending every waking moment inside a research lab on Vanqor, in a shuttlecraft heading for Vong-infested territory. We had plenty of support, knowing might would serve us better than stealth. This raid, though small in terms of ground troops, still had to penetrate Vong space, which meant an armada to fend off any fleet that happened to be present. Sure enough, our target world was defended by a couple of coral skipper squadrons and a trio of blastboat analogs. Despite being vastly outnumbered they charged our ships, preferring certain suicide to a sensible retreat.

We chose a world in the Methrian nebula, by the name of Worxer. We knew the planet had been Vong-formed. There should be plenty of candidates for capture, and since the planet was in their rear area it wouldn’t be crawling with warriors. And because it was shrouded in the cloudy ionized gas of a nebula, the likelihood was that we would ambush them quite nicely.

Our fleet quickly blasted through the ships that patrolled the area, and the shuttle I rode dove through the damp, heavy atmosphere. Our sensors detected one of their home-grown villages, the dwellings made from some kind of gargantuan mollusk shells, and our pilot landed beside one of the cream and rust colored nacre huts.

A dozen battle-hardened Obelisks led the way, followed by a squad of heavy infantry and my small capture squad armed with shock sticks. The dark Jedi formed an inner circle around the shuttle, ready to respond in any direction. The outer perimeter was made up of two infantrymen for every member of the capture squad. They would only fire if we were overwhelmed.

I stood flanked by a pair of troopers, tall, strong and armed to the teeth. The climate was jungle-like, with a cloying botanical smell to the air. The loud buzzing of insects drowned out the normal sounds of wildlife, and brought members of the warrior caste running. They came from all directions, in twos and threes, charging straight into our lines.

They were the largest of the YV, specially bred for combat, and disdainful of pain. Their heavy tattooing and ritual self-mutilation were evidence of that. The warriors screamed their fanatical prayer until either cut down or enmeshed in an electrical net that rendered them mute, twitching as high voltage coursed through their neural networks. I had half a dozen shock sticks clipped to my belt, and used them up in only a couple of minutes. Still more warriors poured into action, cut down by the high-pitched whine of the heavy blaster rifles the infantry used to safeguard our exfiltration.

More difficult was getting the test subjects aboard the shuttle. They wouldn’t respond to attempts to use Force levitation, but we quickly discerned that we could use the Force on the shock webs, lifting the heavy warriors like netted trout. We piled them into the cargo hold, the several dozen prisoners we nabbed, under heavy guard and constant electrical stimulation to keep them comatose. As we loaded our catch a squadron of Tie’s strafed the burg, the power of their lasers easily punching through crab armor and mother-of-pearl abode.

Back at home the captives were divided up into lots, distributed among the various research teams. The warriors were separated from their armor and weapons, the amphistaffs and vonduun crabs themselves undergoing testing. We released our prisoners, one at a time, into a specially prepared reservation, and inserted several of our modified manka cats.

The cats were fairly large, easily a hundred to a hundred twenty kilos. They were covered with short-haired, jet-black fur. The animals were smart and fast. Their normal method of hunting was to creep up on their prey until they were discovered, then use a burst of speed to pounce and kill.

On our first test, two of the males simultaneously found a female, who, unbeknownst to us, was in heat. She sat there waiting patiently as the two toms tore into each other. The last female set about her work. Each cat was tagged with a tracer so we could follow their progress. Female B took only twenty minutes to find the Vong in an area of sixteen square kilometers. She showed exceptional promise for our breeding program.

The warrior heard her coming through the underbrush and fought, but the claws and fangs did their deadly work. He was dead in a minute. We wouldn’t be certain until the autopsy whether the cat killed him or the venom did. Of course the cats wouldn’t be able to pierce the armor the warriors typically wore, but the plan was to deliver several breeding pairs into rear area planets where they could feast on workers and shamed ones, hurting their logistical base. And for this our jet-black beast looked ideal, though further tests would be done to confirm or belie this early optimism.

Macron Sadow

21-01-2008 10:30:58

Very interesting. Makes me wish I had been with you! >:)

In any case, great imagery, bit of a dry read but then again, I write that way myself. Also, it does go with the almost science-journal like style. Well done overall.


21-01-2008 17:30:38

Draco, meet Macron, the Mad Alchemist and former CON of CNS =)

@Mac: How did I just know that you were going to read this lol.


21-01-2008 18:14:12

Now that's something to pursue. Nicely done Draco.