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Gerome has no native animal species. There are numerous examples
of primitive plants, similar to lichens and algae.
Gerome has been a declared a Red Zone by the Imperial Navy since
945. The reason for the red zone were kept classified until now. Now
under the Regent's new more open government the truth can be revealed.
Previous to this time, a set of false UWP has been feed to the public.
Gerome was established as a top secret research base in charge of finding
new military applications for biotechnologies. These included
anti-bacterial warfare agents, creating geneered animals to serve in both
combat and intelligence roles, methods in speeding the growth of clones,
(TEXT DELETED BY ORDER OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICE: ORDER 18734945-A),
artificial RNA learning techniques and many other projects. The reason for
the Red Zone was simply to keep away spies and others without the Imperium's best interest at heart. In an effort to keep the existance of the base secret, the Navy released fake UPP data on the system, falsely showing the planet to be uninhabited. The results of the scientific experiments were filtered through other research bases. This way the Zhodani and other enemies would not even know that a top secret base even existed. The Civil War did not disrupt the research, as it was located far behind the Claw. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the base
did suffer significant budget cuts, but proceeded much as before.
In 1135 there was a major accident which would alter the world forever. The base had been doing research into artificial bacterial symbiotes that would enable humans to exist in a vacuum without a vacsuit. The work was still far from finished, but proceeding nicely. On 114-1135 an explosion of still unexplained origins ripped through the lab where the symbiote was being designed. The symbiote was released into the atmosphere of the planet. The high speed winds quickly dispersed the symbiote. Over the next few days it became apparent the symbiote was far from finished as it infected several thousand people across the face of the planet. Instead of allowing the infected to survive in a vacuum, the symbiote slowly asphyxiate d the victim over a span of several hours. By now the symbiote had been spread across the entire surface of the planet and was thriving in the environment. It was designed to survive in the cold vacuum of space, the atmosphere provided more than enough heat and carbon dioxide to thrive. An immediate quarantine was placed around the planet. All projects were halted, as everyone tried to find an antidote. Unfortunetly those scientists who understood the symbiote best where the first to die. After six months, no progress had been made towards a cure and over half the population had died. What made the task so difficult was the symbiote had been designed to withstand the extremes of space, high and low temperatures, high levels of radiation and vacuum. It could be killed by extreme methods such as plasma bursts, but this wasn't a practical method of decontamiating infected individuals. The populace holed up small groups in underground bunkers.
The Navy Commander in charge of the planet made the painful choice to permanently close the planet. Slowly the underground bunkers became infected, until the population has dwindled to barely 8000 out of 70,000 former inhabitants. Estimates suggest that within 40 years the remaining inhabitants will perish. A small group of scientists still tries to find a way of defeating the symbiote, but a solution evades their grasp, as the symbiote continues to mutate and adapt. The Navy maintains a squadron in the system to prevent anyone from violating the quarantine. It also drops frequent mercy packages to aid the survivors. The only penalty for violating the quarantine is life long exile to the planet. When asked about the severe actions of the Navy, Cmmdr Wafoua Syoisuis replied, "Its better then dealing with another Virus."
Society- Before the release of the symbiote, humans and other sapiens lived in underground complexes, to avoid the dust storms, and the extremes in weather. It was lucky for the inhabitants, because if the symbiote had been released on a standard world, no one would have escaped. Now the complexes have had 70 years to fortify themselves against the symbiote, through complex filtering
and airtight seals. For the most part these keep the symbiote at bay, but
every so often something breaks down, and the complex is infected, usually
yielding a large death toll. That is if anyone is left alive to count the bodies.
There are somewhere between ten and thirty complexes on Gerome. The average population is several hundred people. Each complex has grown into one extended family, with most people being related through marriage. The families govern the complexes through small town meetings. Most people never leave their complex; the possibility of contamination arises each time someone leaves or enters. Except for the retrieval of Naval mercy shipments, it is only in the most dire of circumstances that anyone leaves a complex. The shipments are usually picked up by robots. When someone is forced to leave the compound it is in airtight ATVs, when they return, the exterior is scoured with a high temperature plasma to kill any of the symbiote that might have attached itself to the vehicle.
The complexes keep in contact through a computer and video network. So while they might not be able to leave their complex, they will be able to meet and become friends with people across the globe. Entertainment from around the Regency are beamed to the complexes by the Navy. Most inhabitants are a fairly dour and grumpy lot. They resent being forced to live on such a miserable planet under miserable circumstances. Most couples do not have children, they feel it wouldn't be right to bring children into such a place.
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Reference: The Regency Source book:Keepers of the Flame.