Morrow and Griqua

Morrow and Griqua: plague-stricken habitats in the inner Middle Regions

Morrow Habitat
Image from Steve Bowers
Most of the population of Morrow Habitat dwelt in low gravity structures near the hub, or in small towns on the inner surface surrounded by parkland.

Morrow and Griqua : Data Panel

StarHD 100607
Distance from Sol191 ly
Luminosity0.804 Sol
Notable StructuresMorrow Habitat, 170km long, 40km in diameter
Griqua Habitat, 150km long, 55km in diameter

Located 191 light years antispinward from Sol, Morrow was reached in 2220 AT by a venture vessel from Negsoa (Mu Arae bII) launched at the height of First Federation power, but arriving centuries later. The colonists were largely of Southern African lineage.

With no terraformable planets, the colonists decided to construct a series of habitats in this system from the various small objects such as asteroids and moons. One of the first structures to be completed, Morrow was a rotating space habitat with a length of 170km and 40 km in diameter.

By 2900, Morrow citizens were increasingly using neurotech to augment themselves, with an emphasis on personal development and individuality. Most of the transapient entities that had accompanied and sponsored the colony mission were located in the Morrow Hub at this time, but they had little interest in human affairs, and were withdrawing piecemeal from Morrow to establish themselves in the resource-rich outer system.

Another similarly-sized habitat in this system was Griqua, a politically and ethnically mixed megastructure with many Bioist and Voluntary factions, together with a collectivist groupmind faction known as the Community. Using biotechnology to modify themselves for uniformity, this faction became much more influential when a improved form of Unityware became available in this system, allowing efficient mental connections between members of a hive.

The libertarian and democratic factions in Morrow were ideologically opposed to the Community's brand of groupthink, despite the fact that the collectivists were often successful at innovation in technology and attaining social goals. Opposed to both the collectivists and the individualists on this diverse world were the Bioist faction, especially some militant groups who wanted to revert to a pre-technological state.

From 3000 AT onwards the HD 100607 system was rarely peaceful, thanks to asymmetric warfare, infoterrorism, ecological sabotage, and occasional lightning wars of a more ferocious nature. On several occasions peace treaties were forged, often with the assistance of transapient entities from the AI camp or formed by large Community groupminds. But after a few years or decades conflict would break out once more.

In 3541, after nearly a hundred years of relative peace due to an effective stalemate between the factions, a new existential risk emerged: a secretive group of bioist biohackers created new virulent diseases which attacked the hive mind neurological systems. An almost undetectable prion-like complex deposited by an otherwise harmless bacteria matured in the central nervous system after a period of a few months, and killed anyone with the Community modification. This bioweapon was designed maliciously to resist all artificial and natural immunological systems used in that system at that time, by mutating rapidly in a semisentient fashion.

Soon a variant appeared which was fatal to all humans, although the origin of this variant has never been identified for certain. The epidemic which resulted was virulent but eventually contained, mostly by strict quarantine arrangements and attrition. Both Morrow and Griqua were hit by this plague, which was barely contained.

Twenty months later a second epidemic broke out, first in Griqua then in Morrow, spreading from an unknown reservoir which could not at first be identified. At length the reservoir of the epidemic was found; the disease was dormant in many of the ubiquitous kittekops, a neogen species kept as pets by the people of this system. Despite a programme of extermination the epidemic spread, becoming a pandemic and eventually causing the deaths of 96 per cent of the population of both habitats. The few survivors were either evacuated to live in isolation among the aioid factions in the outer system, or remained behind in dwindling bands of survivalists living off the detritus of their former civilisation

Apart from Morrow and Griqua, most of the other habitats in this system survived with few casualties, but a few lesser habs did succumb following accidental cross-infection or carelessness. Attempts to return to Morrow and Griqua to make contact with the survivalists failed, since the epidemic remained in yet another unidentified natural reservoir even after the extermination of the kittekops. . This rapidly mutating epidemic was in fact capable of laying dormant in any convenient species and resurfacing after an arbitrary length of time. Of course the rapid mutation rate eventually meant that the reservoir species was not immune indefinitely.

After a hundred more standard years Morrow cylinder held no human population at all, and Griqua was slowly being disassembled by vec scrap-merchants. For two millennia Morrow was only visited by aioid explorers, or by bionts in hermetically sealed suits following strict decontamination procedures. The evolving pathogen eventually killed off most of the spliced mammalian and neogen fauna in Morrow.

By the end of the Version War the disease had seemingly vanished spontaneously. Despite its virulence, even this tailor-made pandemic could not persist when all its hosts were eliminated. The internal surface of Morrow was covered in ruined towns and villagess, each covered in vegetation strangling and cracking the buildings and sidewalks. As a memorial to the population which died here, Morrow has been preserved in its depopulated state.

The ways in which the ancient towns have decayed are fascinating; some buildings, particularly those with metal frames, have disintegrated entirely; others, built of stone or diamondoid, have lasted longer covered in creepers and aerophytes. Tourists can now wander this deserted world in confidence, since the pathogen is extinct- but up-to-date ultratech precautions are firmly in place just in case.

Morrow and Griqua are examples of worlds ravaged by artificial pathogens in the earlier history of the Terragen Sphere. The specific type of disease which wiped out this colony could be cured if it emerged today, but deliberately designed pandemics can be (and sometimes are) designed which challenge even modern medical science.

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 07 May 2009.