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Carmen

C94789A-3

by Lewis Roberts

Since the early days of the Third Imperium, this world has been ruled by the Von Hauptman dynasty. The royal family enjoyed wide popular support, and for the most part were loved by the citizenry. The ruling Vizar made policy decisions and these were implemented by the vast royal bureaucracy. In 1126 the first of several plagues spread across the planet The source of these plagues is unknown; whether it was a Imperial bioweapon strike, an accidental release of Solomani weapons, a terrorist strike against the Confederation, a bungled attack by disgruntled citizens or something else will never be known. One of the first casualties was the royal family. For several months the castellan and the bureaucracy kept the royal family's death a secret, fearing that it would cause mass panic. In early 1127 when the death toll reached 200 million, the first of many riots started. In the royal name, the bureaucrats in the capital ordered the National Guard to put down the riots. Afterwards a stiff curfew was imposed. While the curfew stopped the riots, it did little to curb the spread of disease.

The Confederation sent several teams of medical personnel to try to treat the plagues, but they were ineffective and the first two teams perished from the plagues. The plagues were of an unknown origin and had little similarity to any known illness. Also the plagues came in waves, each plague bearing little similarity to the previous disease. In late 1127, the Confederation put a quarantine into effect and prevented any traffic to or from the world.

The plagues continued to rampage through the community. As millions died, the bureaucracy increased the harshness of the laws, in an attempt to maintain order. Eventually they released the news that the royal family had died, but by then the bureaucracy's control was tight enough to prevent extensive rioting. The planet didn't even notice the Collapse, and the plagues continued throughout the 30's. The last plague died out in 1142. By then the population had been cut by 95%.

The great industrial cities were abandoned; the inhabitants had either fled or died. Almost all of the population now lives in the countryside engaging in agriculture and cottage industries. Since the last plague, the population of the capital has increase and now numbers around 100,000. This is the only major city left. The bureaucracy controls the planet through extensive use of the National Guard. The Guard functions as a combination law enforcement, militia, secret police and tax collector. Citizens must get permission to leave their district. Public demonstrations are strictly limited and speech critiquing the government is illegal.

Carmen was first contacted by the Hivers in 1184. The government welcomed contact with the Hivers, and were bewildered by the changes that the sector had undergone since the quarantine was started. They fully expected the Solomani Confederation or the Imperium to be in charge and merely maintaining the quarantine in case another plague broke out. Hiver medical teams found no evidence that the plagues were still lurking on the planet. The government isn't interested in technical assistance. The planet has been at the same technological level for since the founding of the Imperium. That is not to say the people are technophobic, they simply don't crave new technologies. The people and the government are willing to trade for isolated advanced technology devices to make life easier, but they don't want to totally change their culture. With assistance from the Hive Federation, Carmen established a new starport. Most of the maintenance staff are offworlders who have come to Carmen for the chance to live a peaceful pastoral lifestyle. Serenity is probably the best word to describe Carmen.


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