Mandarins, heroes in another timeline...


It was a fully populated world, in the novel they had to set up a full blockade to intercept and shoot down any ships trying to escape the planet.


I thought that the entire population of that planet in Telamon was situated in that one colony.

Nope, they just landed (in the game), and to quote the script:

Wing Commander 4 Script said:
Civilian: If you can hear this, it might not be too late. Unmarked ships are attacking and many people are dying! We know planet FT957 is far from any other colony, but, if you have any Humanity, please, send help immediately! Otherwise, our world is doomed – I don’t know if this thing is working!

And later on, we get this:

Wing Commander 4 Script said:
Civilian: It didn’t take long after the bombs dropped.

Maverick: Bombs? Well, this place is still standing… the airstrip’s in one piece… It doesn’t look like you’ve been touched.

Doctor: The attackers didn’t blow up anything, Colonel – they used bio-weapons.

Dekker: So, no offence, doc, but why are you still breathing?

Doctor: I’ve been asking myself the same question. What’s the pattern here? This is not random. The autopsies have been showing commonalities. Things like: percentage of body fat, bone brittleness, eyesight, sperm and egg count. Everything… genetically determined. What do you know about nano-technology? And bio-convergence?

Maverick: Bio-convergence? Well, it’s fairly new. That about covers what I know.

Doctor: Well, I think the attackers dispersed replicating nanobots into the atmosphere – billions of ’em.

Maverick: Nanobots?

Doctor: Yeah, think of them as computers – small as atoms. They get into your body and start a genome comparison of your DNA helix. If they don’t like what they find, they start attacking your RNA. Your cells… your cells stop replicating and then begin killing each other. Let me show you. Your body becomes a battleground, and in a matter of hours…

Maverick: <groans> So why aren’t we like… this?

Doctor: Thank your parents. The nanobots have been programmed to look for certain genetic characteristics: low body fat, good eyesight, and so on. My guess is they can be EPROMd to do anything. Any trigger in the DNA strand will do. You want to, er… you want to weed out the skinny folks in the world? People with iron-poor blood? You just tweak the code.

Civilian: They came out of nowhere – in unmarked ships. They dropped canisters like this.

Maverick: How many of your people were affected?

Doctor: I’d say 90%.

Dekker: This is a ghost planet now, boss. I’ve seen this a couple of times during the War. If the rest of these people don’t clear out soon, they’ll all be committing suicide in a year or so.

Maverick: Admiral Wilford will get a full report: I’m sure he will act appropriately.

Dekker: Hard to work out what appropriate even means, after you see something like this. It’s a good thing the Kilrathi never worked out this stuff.

The 'vector' was just wind patterns, dropping the nanomachines all over the planet. The doctors in the novel and Blair in the game merely landed near the capital. Later on, Blair comments that, if Sosa had been able to light a candle for all the casualties, it'd take up more volume than the ship had.