Project FlashDeath is a top-secret biological weapon project developed by the Galactic Empire during the reign of Emperor Palpatine. FlashDeath serves as a major plot device in the Rayzur's Edge Audio drama Second Strike.
Project FlashDeath (alternatively "the FlashDeath Project") began shortly after the Imperial takeover of Ferri'sol. Acting under orders from Emperor Palpatine himself, Imperial Intelligence began funneling scientists and researchers from the Empire’s publicly-funded science academies to Ferri'sol, under the guise of tourists. They set up shop in a high-end prefabricated warehouse in the capital city of Pri'gorod, where the facility would remain until just over five years after the Battle of Endor.
The goal of the project was to create an “ultimate pathogen,” a virus that would be airborne, species-jumping, and 100% contagious to all forms of life, sentient and otherwise. The intent was to use this biological weapon not for pacification but for the complete annihilation of life on a target world without causing damage to infrastructure or natural mineral deposits on ore-rich worlds, particularly in the Expansion Region, of which Ferri'sol itself is part.
Utilizing the pinnacle of Imperial genetic science, researchers, including the ill-fated Dr. Lom Darus, worked for over five years on the project with only the slightest hint of their work ever making it off-world. What little information did leak into the outside world came only in the form of the project’s name, recovered by the Rebel vessel Stallion after the deaths of a Rebel team (Traiven Kova, Skyben Lokan, and Triina Asante) sent to capture information about the project during its early development, approximately one year after the Battle of Yavin.
The project continued in secret, oblivious to the failed Rebel mission. As of the time of the New Republic Intelligence mission to remove Lom Darus from the world, the project was not yet finished, but optimistic estimates, based on their progress to that point, would have put the final completion of the virus at perhaps one year from the time of the Intel mission.
According to computer files recovered by Jaren Valkan, Kristara Eri'lur, and Tathan Aldric after the liberation of Ferri'sol, the virus would have lived up to Imperial expectations. The virus (more accurately described as a metaviral agent) would have been capable of being inserted into a biosphere, where it would spread through air, water, and physical contact from one lifeform to another, mutating with deadly efficiency to continue its path of destruction across species lines. One small vial of the pathogen (the size of a vibroblade handle) would have been able to distribute the agent across the surface of a Coruscant-sized planet (12,000 – 12,500 km diameter) within a timeframe of approximately twenty hours.
The metaviral agent, in theory, would act by attacking not specific DNA sequences, but the basic building blocks of DNA and RNA themselves, causing those nucleotides to become, in effect, biological time bombs. This instability would eventually effect the metavirus’ own components, causing it to break down within a week of exposure to a planetary atmosphere.
The specifics of how the agent would cause these changes in nucleotides were not yet pinned down at the time of Ferri'sol's liberation, and details inside recovered computer files were so sketchy and so far beyond common Imperial or New Republic scientific knowledge, that it has been speculated that the reason the FlashDeath scientists remained so oblivious to their research’s true future application was that the scientists were not the primary architects of the pathogen at all. The true architects, at least based on speculation over the years since the end of the project, were most likely a group of rogue Chiss bio-engineers.
The similarity of the virus to other more recent discoveries during the war with the Yuuzhan Vong, however, have put some doubt to this theory, suggesting that much of the pathogen’s structure was somehow tied into captured Yuuzhan Vong or Sekotan biotechnology, neither of which should have been available to the Empire at the time of the project’s inception.
One can only wonder how many such secrets Emperor Palpatine took to his grave.