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 The Gorgon Syndrome

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Heraklea

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PostSubject: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 3:33 am

The Fyn System had very little of particular interest to Heraklea.  True, the roughly five billion people who inhabited planet Odense and the two billion who inhabited other places in the system represented a potentially significant labor source if the industrial capability of the Fynish could be brought to more modern standards, but what had originally brought Herakleans to Fyn had been its proximity to the Ordenreich.  During the period of tense relations following the war with Christana, Heraklea had begun exploring the possibility of establishing a forward operating base in case a war with the Ordenreich broke out.  The subsequent thawing and formation of ties with the Ordenreich caused those plans to be shelved, but Heraklea never stopped their contact with the Fynish.  The limited amount of trade had begun slowly increasing Heraklea's influence, and the occasional warship that passed through was always an occasion to the locals, even if it was only a light cruiser (a warship that still dwarfed everything the Fynish fielded).

HNS Stalker translated out of hyper for one such periodic visit, transmitting its identity before the defense force could issue the challenge.  Only moments later a rate manning one of the communications panels whipped his head up.

“Captain, we're being hailed with a request for aid from the local government.  They say there is some sort of mass riot in a number of cities.  The message isn't too clear, sir.”

“Understood.  TAC, lay in a course to bring us into Odense orbit.  Comm-OW, request amplifying information from the local government.”

“Lay in course for Odense orbit, TAC aye.”

“Request amplifying information, Comm-OW aye.”

The crew on the command deck quickly went to work carrying out the CO's instruction, and before long a return message was received that included footage of the rioting.

“What in the- are the rioters trying to eat other people?”

“Dump that footage to my desk immediately,” ordered the captain.  As soon as it appeared, he began parsing the stretch showing cannibalism.  He focused in on the rioters and began examining them.  “Clark, look at this.  Yellow, bloodshot eyes with dialated pupils.  Green superficial veining.  Rage and inhuman savagery including murder, mutilation, cannibalism and rape of living and dead bodies.”  The XO turned his gaze up to meet the captain's eyes as the blood drained from his face.  “TAC, belay the course to Odense orbit.  Comm-OW, prep an emergency FTL message.  Message is 'FLASH: KAFFA, FYN SYSTEM.  SUSPECTED GORGON SYNDROME OUTBREAK.'  Transmit to all senior stations.”  The control deck was deathly quiet as the orders were carried out.

* * * * *

Not long after the emergency FTL message was broadcast, another followed.

RE FLASH: KAFFA, FYN SYSTEM.  4TH EXPEDITIONARY FLEET MOBILIZED TO ESTABLISH QUARANTINE BLOCKADE IN FYN.

* * * * *

Commodore Stirling reread the messages twice before he was finally able to wrap his mind around the message.  It was still sinking in, but that didn't mean he wasn't aware of what needed doing.  He immediately summoned his yeoman.

“Carter, I don't care how late it is.  You rack people out and you setup an emergency meeting for me with Brother Lal, Talent Zhang, Supreme Commander Aaron and whoever you can figure out is the best leader for the Centauri medical establishment so I can get them briefed on Gorgon.”

* * * * *

Commodore Prisca trembled slightly as her yeoman set about contacting Jenova.

“Not again,” she whispered.  “Please not again.”

* * * * *

Commodore Simona took a long swig of grog.

“Should you really be doing that right now sir?” his adjutant asked.  “You are going to have to talk to Ordenreich leadership about Gorgon Syndrome.”

“If you had any of the memories I have of Magnolia, you would understand why I feel the need to be suitably drunk right now.”

“But sir-”

“Dismissed, Vice Commodore.”

“... yes sir.”

* * * * *

Commodore Hiroshi chewed her thumb thoughtfully as her yeoman began attempting to arrange an emergency session with the Rhean government.  After twelve years, it's back and all the way on the other side of Heraklea.  What the hell is going on?

* * * * *

Miriam Kirrin gazed at the hard look in her husbands eyes.  She recognized it.  He wore those same eyes every time he was preparing to order an atrocity committed for the greater good.  She knew the gears were turning in his head, the numbers being run.  He was looking for something, anything, that he could do differently this time.  Some alternative to the casualties he had to inflict last time.  She knew he could survive making such an order, he was always able to accept what needed doing, but that didn't mean he didn't agonize over it, nor blame himself for not finding another way.  He would do what needs doing.  She just wished that he wouldn't hurt so badly after.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:54 am

Jenova responds immediately as the message is sent to her from the Commodore. Rather than respond via commlink, she materializes in the ambassador's waiting room, announcing her presence and ready to hear what she has to say when ready.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:58 pm

Commodore Prisca rose as Jenova was ushered into her office by the yeoman.

“Pa'u Jenovah, thank you for coming so quickly,” she said with a voice far more sure and controlled than she truly felt, and Karly entertained a though wondering how she managed it when she felt like the earth might open beneath her at any moment. “I just received several emergency messages, the content of which I feel must be shared with you, and the meaning explained. I received a Kaffa, a message indicating a dangerous disease outbreak from the Fyn System, which lies between the borders of Heraklea and the Ordenreich. The originator said he suspected an outbreak of what we call the 'Gorgon Syndrome,' after the first system in which it was discovered. Gorgon Syndrome is caused by a fungal infection which targets the nervous and adrenal systems. Before the body eventually shuts down, the infected begin committing some...” Karly could feel herself on the verge of trembling again, “... truly horrific acts. Cannibalism, mutilations, necrophilic rape... It was bad during the original outbreaks. And we don't have a cure for it.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 7:49 pm

Within a second of the yeoman's sending of the request, the cold and lifeless voice of Lal's communications expert system rang throughout his office, demanding his immediate attention.

"IMMEDIATE EMERGENCY MEETING REQUEST RECEIVED. SENDER: COMMODORE JOHNATHON STERLING, HERAKLEAN EMBASSY."

"Accept. Dismissed," he replied laconically, as he pondered what the subject of the meeting could possibly be. It was certainly going to be a serious situation, but he had little inkling of what, if anything, it could be. He had doubts as to whether it would be a diplomatic or military matter, considering that the political climate had been extremely stable recently. Was it one of those galactic threats yet again? With a slight sigh, he then turned to face the holograms of the others who had been invited into the meeting, and saw Commodore Sterling, but then the others: Talent Zhang, Supreme Commander Aaron, and, most surprisingly of all his chief medical researcher, Doctor Vlad Nikhil.

With that, a frown appeared immediately. Turning towards Commodore Sterling, he said to him, "It must be a serious situation to warrant to four of us being here, and you need not bother with pleasantries. From the presence of Doctor Nikhil, I infer that this must be about a serious outbreak of some kind, correct?"
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:44 pm

“I'm afraid so, Brother Lal.  We believe an outbreak of what we call the Gorgon Syndrome has occurred in the Fyn system which lies between us and the Ordenreich.  Our medical attaché is standing by to give Doctor Nikhil and the rest of you a more detailed briefing on the disease but here are some important highlights.  Gorgon is a highly infectious and highly lethal fungal infection that targets the nervous and adrenal systems.  It can be spread by inhalation of airborne spores, consumption of contaminated foods, or bodily fluid transfer as the fungus progresses, including saliva.  It takes between two to four weeks for symptoms to appear, the earliest of which are mostly psychological including paranoia, insomnia and unprovoked rage.  From there, if the infected has not been killed, that rage will become more violent and psychotic, being driven to horrific acts as the documents that are being transmitted to you will attest.  Certain physical markers, including the appearance of green tinted superficial veins, will also start to develop at that time.  Those who have progressed to that stage typically target their rage and appetites at those who have not progressed to that point for reasons which are unclear.  Though we have been successful in developing scans to identify the fungus and those infected, we have no cure.

“Brief history:  It first appeared on the planet Stheno in the Gorgon system twelve years ago.  Based on what we were able to piece together, multiple patient zeros were initially exposed following a subterranean explosion.  Based on the speed of spread it is believed that infected persons are capable of exhaling infectious spore within the first day after infection.  Several major cities were overrun within a month.  Local authorities attempted to stem the infection rate by establishing quarantines around those cities, but it spread anyway to numerous population centers on all three planets in the Gorgon system by the end of the third month, which is when Heraklea stepped in and established a full system quarantine.  Despite that effort, we had confirmed cases in the Magnolia and Samsun systems within the month.  Six months after the initial sighting, failing efforts and a beginning spread amongst our own personnel in supposedly clean facilities on the planet surfaces resulted in the Chief of State ordering a clean sweep of all three systems to end the threat.  There have been no other sightings of Gorgon Syndrome until the report from the Fyn system occurred.

“Are there any questions before I turn it over to my medical attaché for a more in depth discussion of what we are dealing with?”
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:16 pm

Brother Lal and Talent Zhang briefly exchanged a glance, and she replied, "We have but one. As part of the Pact of Brotherhood, we are of course obliged to aid you in your efforts to combat this Gorgon Strain. The only question of course is how. The researchers under Doctor Nikhil will of course gladly aid you in this endeavor, but I suspect you may need more than our aid in research. If our help is needed to contain this disease through deployment of our military, I am sure that we will render it without any hesitation. Protecting the galaxy from the spread of exotic xenopathogens is of course in our interest and the interest of all vulnerable sapient beings."
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:55 pm

"The 4th Expeditionary has already begun deploying to enforce a quarantine blockade. Whether or not they will need assistance I don't know, but we're certainly not going to turn it down. Our military attaché is attempting to get more details on what exactly the 4th Expeditionary might need in the way of support. Light vessels most probably I would think, things fast enough to catch anything moving about in the system with enough kick to make any panicky civilian think twice before they try to run for it. If there's nothing else, I'll turn it over to my medical attaché."

The medical attaché thanked Commodore Sterling and began expanding on what he had said in the pre-brief, beginning with the course Gorgon Syndrome typically followed and a more in depth explanation of the original outbreaks, followed with a discussion of the difficulties in finding a cure.

"To correct what the Commodore said earlier, we have been able to create a medication that eliminates the fungus responsible. The problem lies in effectively employing it. The genetic material of the fungus is highly malleable and changes slightly when it infects a new person. The variance is sufficient that we need to analyze the particular fungus from each victim in order to synthesize the medication for that individual. The process is time consuming, even with automated systems, and the machinery is very mass intensive. There is only so much we could make at once, and people get infected at too high a rate for it to work well. Further, the medication needs to be ready within a week of infection, which means detection within the first twenty four hours after exposure. After the first week, the permanent damage already done to the nervous and endocrine systems will be extensive enough that the victims will suffer long term from the early psychological problems we discussed. Another three days after that and fungus will have worked its way through too much of the body. The medication will only kill them.

"There is something which may or may not be of consequence medically, but is troubling. As Commodore Sterling said, it has been twelve years since the original outbreaks and there haven't been any additional sightings until now. That in and of itself is worrying, as is the fact that Fyn is just beyond our southern frontier while Gorgon, Magnolia and Samsun lie to the north. However, even more concerning to us in the medical field is this: we have been able to find no evolutionary link between the Gorgon Syndrome fungus and the native flora and fauna of the planets involved in the original outbreaks. I don't hold strong faith that it would prove otherwise with Fyn. This fungus comes from somewhere else, and we don't know where."
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:31 pm

Nodding, Doctor Nikhil said, "I see. There are a variety of pathogens found in interstellar space that we are aware of, however most are completely alien to our physiology and pose little to no harm. This fungus may be of the same origin, or perhaps it may come from a planet with an exotic ecology that we are not yet aware of. In that case, it may be prudent to search the surrounding regions for planets with the same ecology. As for the issue of medication, I believe that we might be of some assistance. Our biotechnology laboratories are cutting edge, and we may be able to improve its efficiency or effectiveness, if we are provided access to a sample of the pathogen and the medication. I am certain, however, that we should be able to repair this psychological damage relatively easily, given our extensive knowledge of treatments for it. Finally, has the creation of a specialized fungicide ever been considered? It may not be able to cure the disease, but it might help efforts in reducing contagion and limiting spread."

Meanwhile, Commander Aaron disconnected from the meeting, clearly having left to do something else. Momentarily, he returned, and said to Commodore Stirling, "We have deployed a detachment of light frigates to aid in the quarantine effort. Later we might be able to move in Gilgamesh Fleet to block access to surrounding systems, just in case."
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:15 am

“We'll definitely avail ourselves of your offer to improve the medication.  I routed the request to get a sample from the black site where research into Gorgon Syndrome has been continuing.  We should have some en route before too long.  As for the repair to the nervous and endocrine... that may prove more difficult.”  The hologram of the medical attaché was seen to reach over to the side and her hologram was replaced with a read out of data from a study.  “As you can see, we tried an experiment with pigs cured of Gorgon Syndrome after we acquired Rhean bacta.  Bacta has remarkable regenerative capabilities, as you well know, but none of test subjects experienced any tissue regeneration after bacta treatment began.  If you can accomplish anything, we would be most interested to see it, but please forgive me for saying that I won't be holding my breath.”  The commodore could be heard to clear his throat and the data projection was replaced with his own image.

“Thank you lieutenant.  I'll call you back on if we need anything else.”  The holographic projection watched something occurring outside the image radius, then returned his gaze to the Centauri.  “Please understand Brother Lal.  Gorgon Syndrome left a fairly deep scar in our national psyche.  Everything we are supposed to be, we weren't.  Sure, faithful and triumphant is our standard and we fell short.  The clean sweep was a decision of near panic.  It was necessary, but there is always that nagging doubt in our minds.  And we left our own people down there.  They may not have even been infected, but we wouldn't risk bringing the fungus back with them.  And as for triumphant...” he waved his hand in a universal sign of 'look at all that amounted to.'  “We were the most advanced civilization around and we had to burn down the damn village to save it.”

* * * * *

The holographic display of the flag deck showed the track of the missile as it completed its attack run.  The icons of the missile and mining facility it was targeted at disappeared and a new one indicating a nuclear detonation appeared.

“Admiral, the mining facility on Asteroid 718 is confirmed destroyed.”

“How many?”

“Facility compliment was one-zero-nine souls, records indicate six were on leave, total one-zero-three. Not sure if there were any alive and not infected at the time of detonation.”  Fleet Admiral Nikolaos Konstantinos pinched the bridge of his nose.

“That's three facilities all ready,” said his second-in-command.

“I know.  It's spreading faster in system than it ever did during the original outbreaks.  None of this makes any sense.”

“Admiral, contacts detected heading in system... Signatures match Centauri light frigate design.”

“That'll be the reinforcements.  Hail their flag and let them know the restrictions we're enforcing on travel.  Make sure they understand current ROE allow for skipping warning shots at CO's discretion.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Mar 30, 2014 5:20 am

Jenova frowns. After all, the late Emperor Thorgood of Burnination perished just before the recent restructuring of Burninite society. Cause of death? Seemingly incurable plague. So there is a bit of cultural historical memory at play here.

"That is most unpleasant, from the sound of it," Jenova responds carefully. "I see that this message has unsettled you somewhat. What reason do you have for bringing this matter to our attention? Is there some kind of help you wish us to offer? We will offer help within reason if you seek it, of course."
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:13 am

Nodding, Brother Lal replied, "We completely understand what you have done. Life on Chiron, as tame as it may be today, was once an ongoing crisis for a hundred and fifty some years. Mind worms infestations, Progenitor incursions, exotic pathogens and toxins - we had to make no shortage of difficult decisions. As much as they went against our ancient conception of ethics, we were better for having made them. That was why we developed our system of ethical calculus, to rationally analyze and justify our actions. If we were to look at your actions in the same manner - not that I am an ethicist - I believe that our conclusion would be much the same: that your actions were completely ethical and justified. Perhaps your people may want to consider some memetic engineering to rectify this particular issue?"

At the same time, Doctor Nikhil disconnected, preparing his lab for incoming samples and transferring a large portion of the computronium available at the lab for planned research of the Gorgon Strain and its medication.

***

The leading member of the detachment returns the hail, and replies, "Restrictions and rules of engagement acknowledged. We will position ourselves to intercept any incoming or outgoing ships. Additionally, requesting permission to place one ship in orbit around the planet, to gather sensor and communications data."


Last edited by Selathorn on Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Mar 30, 2014 2:31 pm

“Gorgon Syndrome is considered an existential threat by our government,” said Commodore Prisca, “and as such we are informing all of our allies and friends of the danger. We can't be certain how the fungus will affect Burninite physiology, but if it at all resembles what it does to humans...” Karly suddenly realized her left arm had begun shaking slightly and her right hand swung over quickly to steady it. She raised her eye's back to Jenova, her confident expression slipping. She took a short sip of water to calm her nerves.

“I was in Gorgon. I was a tactical officer on board the task group flagship responsible for enforcing the quarantine around Medusa. I was on watch when the clean sweep order came in. I was the one who plotted the bombardment. I was the one who initiated the launch signal. I killed everything on the surface of that planet. I killed the people we couldn't risk bringing home, the people we failed, the people we betrayed.

“Anyway, any assistance the Burninites might be able to provide for trying to combat this disease would be greatly appreciated.”

* * * * *

“Brother Lal, I have no doubt your memegineers could take away any lingering guilt we hold, but I do not think we will take you up on the offer. Herakleans can accept the hard decision, but I don't want us to easily accept them. Not when that decision means shooting children.

“I, uh... I wasn't a part of the response to the original outbreaks. But I have plenty of friends who were. One of them was a marine who had cycled through for surface duty. He had to gun down an entire pack of infected children. Even our most battle hardened marines, with the exception of the 6th Division maybe, have trouble with that concept. I think I'd rather avoid the man who finds the idea of shooting children, even infected children, easy, even after the fact.”

* * * * *

“You are cleared for placement of ships in Odense orbit. Be advised that late stage outbreak in Gorgon, infected attempted to leave the planet surface to attack our own ships. Exercise caution.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:25 pm

"I understand your desire for your people to keep a certain sense of guilt. If we were to accept all of our own actions without question, our own dehumanization would be total. The ethics that bind one society will not be the same as those that bind another's, and we shall not press the matter. Besides that, are there any more matters to discuss? I must leave to make sure that all our administrators and relevant professionals are informed on this matter."

***

The Centauri ships began to take position in-system, and the ships in orbit started to intercept communications and take sensor readings.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:33 pm

Jenova frowns at the story. She shakes her head. "Have you been unable to find the mode of transmission?

"In any case we have a number of restorative technologies that tend to repair any bodily damage that is physical, but they cannot be used with large groups of people and the energy costs are quite high, even for an individual. I can offer your heads of state or important figures the ability to regenerate if affected -- most likely -- but not much for the rest.

"We can also offer our hospitality, as always, but that may be of no use depending on how the disease spreads."
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:01 am

***CODED BURST TRANSMISSION***

SOURCE: O.S.S.C. LIVENSTEIN
PRIORITY: SEVERE
SUBJECT: FORSAKEN ZONE

TO ALL ORDENREICH STAFF AND MILITARY

HEED AND STAND TO! UNKNOWN PATHOGEN DETECTED ON COLONIES OF TRIDENT, NOVA HAVEN, AND AUGUSTA TEREVORUM. CONFIRMED 100% LETHALITY AND INFECTIVITY. PATHOGEN IS CONFIRMED AS FUNGAL BASED LIFEFORM. ORDENREICH 7TH AND 10TH ARMIES SENT TO SECURE COLONIES, STATUS: 100% CASUALTIES. FLEET IS AUTHORIZED TO INITIATE CLEANSING FLAME PROTOCOL. ALL ALLIED FORCES ARE ADVISED TO AVOID THESE COLONIES. ALL SYSTEMS BORDERING HERAKLEAN SPACE NOW CLASSIFIED AS "THE FORSAKEN ZONE." TRAVEL TO THESE AREAS CLOSED TO ALL CIVILIAN TRAFFIC. ALL SYSTEMS IN THIS ZONE UNDER STRICT QUARANTINE AND SUBJECT TO CLEANSING FLAME PROTOCOL. MULTIPLE FOAB STRIKES LAUNCHED TO FULL EFFECT AGAINST COLONIES. NO SURVIVORS DETECTED ON COLONIES BOTH HEALTHY AND INFECTED. HOCHMEISTER MICAH AND ORDENMARSHALL THOMAS CONFIRMED DEAD ON NOVA HAVEN DURING AN ECONOMIC SUMMIT BETWEEN THE ORDENREICH CORE AND ITS COLONIES. PRESUMED INFECTED BY FUNGAL VIRUS AND ERADICATED BY FOAB STRIKE. ORDENREICH GOVERNMENT NOW RUN BY ACTING HOCHMEISTER MAYA VON DANZIG NOVA. VIRUS PROJECTED ORIGINATED FROM FYN SYSTEM. ORDENREICH FLEET SENT TO INVESTIGATE. FLEET: ORDENREICH 4TH HOME FLEET BASED OUT OF NEW HAMBURG, COMPOSITION: 14 FRIGATES, 10 DESTROYERS, 5 CRUISERS, 2 DREADNOUGHTS, 2 CARRIERS, 1 ULTRA-DREADNOUGHT (T.S.F. EL DURADO). STATUS OF FLEET: UNKNOWN, LAST KNOWN COORDINATES: 3 LIGHTYEARS FROM FYN SYSTEM, RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION.

***Transmission copied for allies of the Ordenreich - unauthorized reproduction of this information subject to military tribune***
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:14 am

“The mode of transmission is much the same as other fungal infections I'm afraid. Within a single environ, the spread follows fairly predictable patterns. As is often the case, sometimes how it spreads from environ to environ is much less clear. The Fyn system is well isolated, and we're certain for the time being that there should be no spread to Heraklean territory.”

* * * * *

“As you can see, the Fyn outbreak is following a very different pattern to the original outbreak. It took two months to spread to most population centers in system, four to appear in other system. This spread occurred within the first month. Further, unlike Magnolia and Samsun which had ships regularly traveling between them and Gorgon, there is no regular transit between Fyn and these Ordenreich colonies. We have been able to discern no natural pattern of spread which explains the course of this outbreak.”

“Admiral, are you suggesting that this is some sort of bio-terrorism?” asked Grand Admiral Kirrin.

“That is beyond my ability to suggest, sir. All I can say is that assuming Fyn is origin point of this series of outbreaks, then I do not believe its pattern of spread is natural.”

“Thank you, Admiral. We will recall you if we have further questions.”

“Thank you, sir.” The hologram of the CO of the Disease Control Command extinguished and the Chief of State looked gravely at the assembled Joint Chiefs.

“Options?”

“Do we really have any?” asked High Admiral Arthur Tricia. “Given those projections, we're looking at over 95% infection rate amongst those still alive on Odense. Even running full bore, we couldn't save even a hundredth of a percent of the population. Maybe once the Centauri have made progress on the medication, but that will take time. The various mining outposts and other minor colonies that haven't been infected might be saved. Other than that, I recommend we initiate a clean sweep of the Fyn system, followed by the 4th, 1st, and 7th Expeditionary conduct a survey of all systems in the region.”

“Any other recommendations?” The room was silent. “Very well. Clean sweep it is.”

* * * * *

RE: FLASH KAFFA, FYN SYSTEM. CLEAN SWEEP, VARIANT TWO.

* * * * *

“Admiral, orders from Kirburg.” Fleet Admiral Nikolaos Konstantinos turned his head to the comm FTL comms station. “Clean Sweep. Variant Two.” Nikolaos nodded sagely in response to the expected message.

“You heard the man people. Let's be about it. Make sure our friends know whats coming. This sort of thing has a tendency to spook civies. They're probably have a lot of runners when we hit the planet.”

* * * * *

“I guess that's that,” said Commodore Sterling.

“Shall I setup another briefing, sir?”

“No. This isn't urgent. I'll leave a recorded message for Brother Lal.”

* * * * *

“Ma'am? Are you going to be alright?”

“I'll be fine,” Commodore Prisca responded. “I don't have a fiance to abandon this time.”

* * * * *

“Well sir, are you planning to get sober now?”

“No, I have every intention of remaining drunk for the foreseeable future.”

“Do you have a projected date for that intention to change.”

“As soon as I can relegate Magnolia to my deep subconscious again.”

* * * * *

“So many questions left,” said Commodore Hiroshi.

* * * * *

“Come on, there's nothing left to do but wait,” whispered Miriam Kirrin. “Come on. I know a way to pass the time.” She kissed the back of his neck and slowly began pulling him towards the bedroom. Even though she was retired, Miriam knew she could still serve her country in this way. Keep him calm. Relieve his stress. Put him to sleep. Make sure that when the time comes he is alert and focused. Make sure the only thing on his mind is the situation at hand. It may not be a romantic thought, but there would be other nights for romance. Tonight was duty.

* * * * *

“Execute.” Fleet Admiral Nikolaos Konstantinos watched the holographic projection of Odense as strings showing the paths of nuclear warheads connected the ships in orbit to the planet surface below. He moved his view to the screen displaying a visual of the planet surface. The spreading rings of destruction dotted the planet surface, blotting everything out of existence. “That's that then. Let's step up the evac of the uninfected installations, people. I want to spend as little extra time in this forsaken system as possible.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Wed Apr 02, 2014 12:00 pm

(OOC: Everyone is able to hear the coded burst transmission I wrote earlier)

*The Ordenreich ultra-dreadnought and some of the other ships from its fleet slowly drifted into the Fyn system. The El Durado was completely dark, not even its running lights were on, and the engines were completely dead. The ship wandered into the Fyn system entirely by drifting.*

(OOC: Think Dead Space but with your virus)
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:02 pm

"If you give us a little time, we can entirely quarantine any area you want. We can project shields across large areas. We can quarantine anything you need quarantined. We can help you research a cure. This I can offer you."

She stops speaking suddenly.

"What has been done..." she takes out her commlink, seeing the messages.

She vanishes from the commodore's room; her eyes were pink, not blue. If Commodore Prisca had read the bio-studies on the Burninites... rage. Great rage.

[UNENCRYPTED]
TO: All heads of state in Korel
FROM: Jenova of Burnination

In this stardate, it is entirely unacceptable to attempt the decimation of a population afflicted with a disease.

Any further use of this practice will be taken as a forfeiture of the right to be considered a legitimate government by Burninite society, and will face the full force of whatever sanctions I am capable of bringing to bear against your trade or economies.

Burninite acceptance of Ordenreich protection of its trading vessels is hereby rescinded.

Burninite cooperation with the Ordenreich on all piracy measures is hereby rescinded until further notice.

You are institutions that charter to protect the people you serve, not destroy them. My anger is over the fact that you have failed to pursue all possible other options before pursuing the nuclear option.

Sincerely,
Jenova Incinerator.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:35 pm

Though Lal had seen no shortage of crises in his life, the speed and intensity at which this particular crisis progressed shocked him. The disease had already spread to the OrdenReich without anyone's knowledge and apparently claimed the Hochmeister, so to him it was understandable that the OrdenReich might take extreme measures. Even so, the idea of wiping out an entire civilian sector with FOABs seemed incredibly rash, if not necessarily wrong, although the Burnites certainly seemed to think it was so. Finally, he received a notification from the detachment within the Fyn system that alerted him about the Heraklean-ordered sweep, which did not entirely take him by surprise, given what he was told about the Heraklean history with the disease. After he had processed the information, he wrote an unencrypted message to all known heads of state, detailing the Governate's position. At the same time, he ordered the Homeguard to be on high alert, to implement a stricter policy on biological screening of ships entering and departing Port Garland, and to be prepared to lock down the Port at any given moment.

***

[UNENCRYPTED]

To: All known heads of state
From: Brother Pravin Lal, Planetary Governor of Alpha Centauri

Although the Planetary Governate of Alpha Centauri generally recognizes the destruction of diseased civilian populations as an atrocity, we urge understanding and recognition on the part of all polities within the galactic community as to the intent of it. It is the responsibility of all polities to protect sapients from harm, and at times extreme measures are necessary to do so, especially with the known danger posed by the Gorgon Strain and its adverse physical and psychological effect on sapients. However, we urge restraint in all polities whenever possible, and pledge our full effort in developing a cure and assisting in containment wherever and whenever possible. Additionally, we encourage all polities to exercise vigilance and develop measures for combating and preventing an outbreak, and to cooperate in data-sharing measures to facilitate this.


***

Captain Adelia Ansaldi sighed, watching the bombardment of Fyn begin from orbit. It was not long before she saw the first wave of refugee ships departing the surface of the planet. She felt the smallest pang of regret appear within her as she ordered the gunners to prepare to fire upon the fleeing ships, but she soon suppressed it, though it did not entirely leave her. Still, what she then saw was unlike anything she had ever seen before. It was an orgy of destruction, with her ship's tachyon beams and plasma shards tearing through the unarmored civilian vessels. A few ships, perhaps those with infected occupants, attempted to fire back, but it was a lost cause for them. Their primitive lasers and mass drivers could barely hit, let alone penetrate shields. It was a pitiful attack, and it aroused exactly that. Pity, but without an ounce of remorse.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Wed Apr 02, 2014 4:27 pm

Jenova sends Teresa, who is much more composed than Jenova seemed to be (given that her eyes changed colors when she felt the death of a planet), to offer the governments of Korel use of Burninite shields as quarantines.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sat Apr 05, 2014 12:02 am

***CODED BURST TRANSMISSION***

SOURCE: O.S.S.C. LIVENSTEIN
PRIORITY: SEVERE
SUBJECT: BLACK DEATH QUARANTINE

TO ALL ORDENREICH STAFF AND MILITARY

FUNGAL CONTAMINATION DETECTED ON SHIPPING LANES. ALL SHIPPING ROUTES THROUGH ORDENREICH SPACE CLOSED ON ORDER OF ACTING HOCHMEISTER MAYA VON DANZIG NOVA. HIERARCHY OF THE ORDENREICH NOW IN BLACK DEATH QUARANTINE PROCEDURE. GENERAL ASSEMBLY HAS BEEN SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. GALACTIC COMMUNICATIONS TO AND FROM THE ORDENREICH CRIPPLED BY INFECTED ORDENREICH FRIGATE CRASHING INTO CENTRAL COMMUNICATIONS HUB IN ORBIT AROUND LIVENSTEIN. LIVENSTEIN CONFIRMED CLEAR OF INFECTION…


FUNGAL CONTAMINATION DETECTED ON CORE WORLD OF NEW HAMBURG. POPULATION: 10 BILLION CIVILIANS. CENTER OF MILITARY MANUFACTURING FOR THE ORDENREICH. CURRENT POPULATION INFECTED 10%. PROJECTED FULL INFECTION IN TWO DAYS TIME…



CLEANSING FLAME PROTOCOL AUTHORIZED. PLANET QUARENTINED. EVACUATION SHIPS WILL BE SHOT DOWN ON SITE. PROJECTED CIVILIAN CASUALTIES: 100%

*Soon after this burst transmission was sent the silent El Durado drifted into the Fyn system. By this point any ship could detect the dead Ultra-Dreadnought drifting in system.*
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:15 am

Adelei's eyes snapped open and without even realizing he had moved found himself sitting upright in his bed.

“Dammit, why didn't I think of it before?”  He threw on an undershirt and ran over to a com station.  High Admiral Roger Dvorak appeared on screen after the first beep, the screen showing him in the black sweater typically worn by members of the HIS.  Does the man ever sleep? Adelei wondered.  “Roger, what can you tell me about radiation levels on Stheno?”

“Last year they were lethal within an hour.  The scrubbers we got from the Ordenreich have greatly reduced that.  I wouldn't want to build a summer home there, but as long as anyone sent to the surface has their own air supply, they should be good.  The atmo is still extremely toxic.”  Adelei marveled at Dvorak's eidetic memory.

“What about remote operators?  Would the platforms or the control signals be degraded?”

“Should be fine.  What do you want done?”

“An exploration of sorts.  Not really sure what to look for.  The planet surface is probably clean, but we believed the original outbreak was from an underground source anyway.  That's worth looking into.  Make sure that we send someone with deep ground penetrating survey capabilities.”

“On it, sir.”

* * * * *

TO: TERESA TRIMBALT
FROM: FLEET ADMIRAL NIKLAOS KONSTANTINOS

YOUR AID IN MAINTAINING QUARANTINES IN THE HERAKLEA-ORDENREICH BORDER REGION UNTIL SURVEYS FOR THE GORGON SYNDROM FUNGUS CAN BE CONDUCTED IN THE AT RISK SYSTEMS IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.  ATTACHED IS PROJECTED SCHEDULE FOR THE SURVEYS TO AID IN COORDINATION.

* * * * *

“Outer perimeter breach!  Multiple signatures inbound from out system.  Zero emissions.  Engaging active sensor net...  Contact signature matches Ordenreich designs, including an Ultra-dreadnaught, bringing up visuals...  Holy crap, it's the El Dorado.”

“The El Dorado, huh?  Try to hail them.”

“I will sir, but... we're not picking up any emissions.  Not even EM radiation from power transmission.  It's possible they have something running further in where the EM radiation would be shielded, but there isn't any power running to their comm equipment near the hull.  We may as well fart out an air lock for all they'd be able to hear us.”

“Understood.  Belay the hail.”  Fleet Admiral Niklaos Konstantinos frowned and considered for a moment, then triggered the interior communications window on his console and contacted fleets leading marine officer.  “Commodore, I need a battalion to send across to explore and Ultra-dreadnaught and another to be distributed to several other ships.”

“Objectives?”

“They'll be securing control of compartments on those vessels and protected the crews we're sending aboard to put them in a stable orbit around Fyn.”

“Secondaries?”

“There will be some techies along to see what they can learn from any tech or operations manuals they can locate.  If we can, we may try to extract a FOAB for study.”

“Can do, sir.”
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:33 am

(OOC: Going to give the others a chance to post before continuing)
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:17 pm

Jenova responds to the Heraklean request.

"We will gladly assist by protecting your people. We will provide a small number of personal protective shields that we will calibrate to allow no living matter to transfer through, and we will provide large shield projection wherever you so desire. The personal shields can be used if you wish to send people into infected areas.

"Our shield projection capacity is limited, of course; we can't project a shield halfway across Korel. But we can probably meet your needs. It should also be noted that if someone violently attempts to break the quarantine, they will succeed sooner or later. Shields fall eventually.

"You will be contacted by individual Motherships shortly; you may give them orders for shield projection and expect military obedience, though I would word your orders as though to equals or to those who aren't your equals but whom you definitely respect. They'll trust you much more that way.
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PostSubject: Re: The Gorgon Syndrome   Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:03 pm

"Ma'am! Sensors report that an OrdenReich ultra-dreadnought has entered the system. Derelict, as far as we can tell. Transponders report that it is the TSF El Dorado. Orders?"

Frowning, Captain Ansaldi replied, "We don't have the manpower available to make anything of it, nor do I want to. I suppose that the Herakleans might attempt to board it, but even if we did, I would order us to hold back. God knows what they have in there, but it almost certainly is infected by the Gorgon Strain. If I had any choice, I would order it be locked down with shields until further notice, but obviously I'm not the one in charge here."

(OOC: Basically, pass on going into the ship.)
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