On the edge of GCPS space lies the Death Arc. A series of uninhabited worlds, these have uniquely been declared off limits by the Council of Seven. Scouting probes sent into the region suggested that each and every world had suffered civil unrest, followed by war and chaos. The races involved were long dead now, but the factors all pointed to one reason for their demise: contagion. A virus that could spread from planet to planet, driving the populace insane and causing them to tear themselves apart. The loss to profit was too high a risk. The Death Arc was cordoned off and never evaluated again.
The GCPS thought itself safe until the incident at Adriana. Once a peaceful frontier world, Adriana was sudden subject to wide spread rioting and looting. The local Corporation Security Forces were dealing with the populace, so no foul play was considered. It wasn’t until media streams and intelligence reported – all for filtering before release – showed something entirely different happening on the planet.
Horrified citizens were being chased and hunted by disfigured hulking creatures clothed in torn rags and what appeared to be the skins of the fallen. More troubling were the larger beings that accompanied them – armoured monstrosities that bounded through the streets in packs before tearing people from their feet. Even worse beings were captured for scant seconds on the feeds.
An Enforcer patrol was immediately dispatched to scan for signs of alien incursion. Nothing was found in orbit around the planet aside from its moons. As the reports prior to the unrest were examined, it became clear that the creatures had come from a single point in the planet’s northern hemisphere. It was postulated that the assailants had come from underground. At this point that an alternate theory was suggested – contagion.
The footage was re-examined. Hardened operatives watched in horror as they realised the truth. The larger creatures hadn’t been killing their victims. Instead, those under attack were wracked by spasms, musculature expanding and contorting. They would then pick themselves up and join the attacks on the civilians. These things weren’t alien assailants; they were people.
As this news reached the Enforcer patrols in orbit, a small ship left the surface of Adriana. The number of lifesigns on board registered as far higher than the capacity for the craft and they refused to respond to hails. There was only one course of action. The Enforcer ship opened fire, atomising the vessel. More and more ships started to take off. It was impossible to tell whether those on-board each craft were innocent or infected. The fleet cordoned off the planet and destroyed every fleeing ship, before targeting the starports on the surface and destroying them, preventing any more ships from leaving.
As the Enforcers held the perimeter, GCPS ministers frantically debated what should be done. Some suggested that the planet should simply be carpet bombed from orbit. Others argued that while the populace if Adriana had been all but wiped out, they had left the planetary infrastructure relatively intact. Bombing would result in an unacceptable loss of profit. The debate was escalated until it reached the Council of Seven themselves. One clear command was issued.
Contain Outbreak. Preserve Infrastructure.
The Enforcer cordon was extended. Everything within five light years was quarantined, whilst all record of the planet’s location and existence in GCPS records were purged. No one objected to the world’s sudden disappearance. The practice was so effective, that it was officially implemented as an emergency measure – Containment Protocol.
Adriana was the first Deadzone. More than thirty planets have since been quarantined, including Nexus Psi and Exham IV. This is the council’s weapon against contagion or incursion, where they hide their worse secrets and where the ambitious raider can make a fortune from an abandoned world’s treasures – if they can survive.
Check back tomorrow for more information on the factions fighting in Deadzones.