Enderra: Worldbuilding and Role-playing Games kicked off the February RPG Blog Carnival with a great topic: Legends & Lore. And one of the suggestions was:
- ” In a science fiction setting, there would be stories of lost colonies and abandoned space stations. Or maybe even legends of the fabled home world of our species!” (Check out all the other great suggestions here: https://www.enderra.com/2020/02/01/rpg-blog-carnival-legends-lore/ )
This somehow clicked something in my brain with the current coronavirus scare and I started pondering a “lost” space station in the context of infectious diseases or other containable biological problems.
The Disappearance of Research Station Ignis-9
When the agents in black from the Office of Infectious Diseases (OID) come to a scene, everyone knows it’s probably too late. That sense of dread comes from a number of tall tales told in quiet whispers about the OID and their rumored “Roanoke Protocol” which is said to make a place literally disappear from the map. Such an organization thrives on having that healthy fear and the OID definitely cultivates it to their advantage.
One such tale is the Ignis-9 station operating in a geosynchronous orbit above Io, one of the literal hot spots in Sol system. Io features volcanic eruptions that launch cubic miles of lava high above the moon’s surface. And when that extremely hot lava eventually comes to rest again, it can completely change the landscape.
The Ignis project was a continuing mission of the Dominion Science Corps (DSC) focused on tracking volcanic eruptions across occupied space so we may have a better idea of what to expect as we pushed further and further into the universe. There were two dozen Ignis stations set up across the five systems for observation, recording data from every front possible. The DSC number crunchers had so many details they were literally buried in data at the height of the project’s collection phase.
Unfortunately in Ignis-9’s case, there was a catastrophic anomaly that resulted in a complete blackout of that moon’s data.
On a particularly spectacular blast from Io, it launched a nanoscopic extremophile along with the gas and debris into a collision course with the station. As the story goes, those microbes burned their way through the space-conditioned titanium hull and made their way into the air re-circulation systems. It was a few hours after the event that crew members started complaining of burning lungs and worse. When more than a third of the crew began exhibiting the same symptoms, they called in the OID for help with containment and finding a cure.
Turns out they never found a cure, but they did manage to contain it. And when the OID left Io’s orbit, the station simply ceased to exist. Data was reclassified and buried. And a warning beacon was put far above the moon to keep ships at a safe distance.
When information about Ignis-9 is requested, they are redirected to leave messages with the Dominion office in charge of handling such requests, which conveniently never checks their messages.
Family and friends of the crew of Ignis-9 were given the opportunity to pay their respects at an event held at the DSC’s main offices on Earth. A memorial was placed on the Wall of the Lost and they were told it was constructed of part of the hull of the station. The Ignis-9 name was imprinted clearly, but a strange, gritty series of holes was burned through in a seemingly random pattern on the piece.
Now 75 years later, the Dominion is no closer to releasing details of what happened to the station or what the OID had to do with it, but the OID’s legend grows…
A Couple of Details
I used an old product I wrote several years ago to help come up with part of this idea: Little Spaces: Abandoned Places. I started with four elements:
- Sense – 4 = Touch
- Descriptive Element – 5 – Marker
- Current State – 6 – Deliberately Erased
- Sense Descriptor – 75 – Gritty
And second, you’ll be able to read more about the OID in an upcoming product. In the meantime, I wrote about them about a year ago in Group of the Week: Office of Infectious Diseases (OID). They’re a fun group to cause all sorts of disease-themed containment stories in your space-based game!
The RPG Blog Carnival
For more about the carnival, be sure to check off the kick-off post and all the other follow-ups at Enderra! And for the RPG Blog Carnival Archive, be sure to take a look at the page maintained at Of Dice and Dragons!