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Circe

Ruins of Jurvain Commonality settlements on Circe with an eclipse in the background.

The Circe System lies on the extreme southern rim of human space, along the Holy Terran Empire side of the border with the Jurvain Commonality and the Arachnid Quarantine Zone. It is controlled by House Jordan.

HistoryEdit

Located near the crossroads between the Bugs, Holy Terran Empire, and Jurvain Commonality this planet has seen a lot of conflict.  Before the expansion of the Bugs, it was controlled by the Jurvain as a colony and military outpost at the edge of their space.  The Jurvain lost the colony to the Bugs, who in turn saw it taken by the Earth Federation

During the height of the Second Civil War in 2226, Circe along with many other human colonies of the rim of known space broke away from the Federation to for the Frontier Worlds Territory (FWT), with Circe as its capitol.  Unfortunately, while humanity was fighting itself during the Third Civil War of 2243, a combined invasion of Jurvain and K'Nes aliens overran the Frontier Worlds Territory, and Circe was reconquered by the Jurvain.

Since then, the control of this system has gone back and forth several times between the Bugs, Jurvain, and Earth Federation.  After the Caal Invasion of 2264, Circe was an early member of the Holy Terran Empire, but at the height of the Ascension War in mid-2265, it was hit by another Bug invasion.  The Imperial Navy, busy fighting the Federation's Earth Fleet, wasn't able to reinforce Circe in time, and the system fell to the Bugs in less than a month.

With humanity weakened by decades of warfare and the the dismantling of the jumpgate network, it took the Imperial Army over a decade to eradicate the Bug infestation off Circle, but they finally declared it Bug-free in 2277 and open for re-colonization.

The system was awarded to House Jordan, an offshoot of House Landon who had been the original overlords of St. Michael's Star, disgraced when that system briefly fell to the Earth Federation during the Ascension War.  Now back in Imperial favor, the young Countess Rebecca Jordan is determined to develop her system into a strong Imperial bulwark against the alien races beyond.

GeographyEdit

Circe is a metal-poor, rocky, medium-sized planet with a thin atmosphere, limited tectonic activity, and very little water.  This makes the planet mostly flat deserts with only a scattering of mountains and salt lakes that provide a source of water.  Most human settlement is concentrated in the equatorial belt, since the thin atmosphere leaves the polar regions uncomfortably cold even in local summer.  The planetary capital, Sirena, was located where the biggest river on the planet (itself little more than a trickle in the dry season, but occasionally actually worthy of the term river) carries runoff from a nearby cluster of volcanic mountains into a fairly large salt lake.

Although life arose on this planet, it did not get a chance to develop further than microbes, but enough of those microbes were photosynthesizing oxygen-producers that the planet has a breathable, if thin, atmosphere.  The local equivalent of Chlorophyll is a purple pigment that absorbs the green-yellow portion of the visible spectrum, and the widespread mats and films of local algae-equivalents and lichen-equivalents give much of the planet's surface a pleasing purple hue.  Local life does use DNA, but a different alphabet for translating DNA codons into amino acid sequences in protein synthesis.

Among the most interesting of the microbial life forms are a group of related microorganisms of the genus Protozoadiplococcus, which curiously share many features with Archaea from Earth, but also some features found in Protozoa and Monerans.  These microbes are very small, even by microbial standards, a fact made possible by their small but fantastically efficient intracellular organelles.  About 50 million of these microorganisms could fit into one typical human cell, and they are little larger than most viruses.  These microbes feed upon the local equivalents of viruses, breaking down their DNA strands to harvest the Deoxyribose sugar components for energy, and the base-pair codons for resynthesis into amino acids and then proteins.

DemographicsEdit

This planet had an estimated human population of 15 million before the Bug attack, most of which were civilians providing supporting services for the large military presence of the Holy Terran Empire, or scientific research stations studying the fascinating local microbes.  Since the removal of the Bugs, it has rebounded in population somewhat, but still remains mostly a military and research colony.  Countess Rebecca Jordan is determined to attract settlers to solidify humanity's claim to this oft-disputed system, but for now, the population remains a paltry few million.

The major focus of this research was into potential medical applications of Protozoadiplococcus that have been found to be very effective against numerous types of viruses, including those evolved on Earth.  The Protozoadiplococcus normally feeds upon a local equivalent of viruses, and they find the thin protein capsids of Earth-evolved viruses easy to break into in order to feed upon the DNA and RNA strands within.  However, the local microbes of Circe are still using polysaccharide cell walls and have not yet evolved the phospholipid membrane of Earth-evolved Eukaryotes, and thus the Protozoadiplococcus have never evolved the ability to penetrate such membranes.  As a result, human cells and others which have such membranes are completely immune to the effects of Protozoadiplococcus, which are thus almost entirely harmless to humans.

When introduced into a human body infected by a virus these microorganisms attack the virus as a source of food within the extracellular fluid of the human preventing their spread to healthy cells.  Eventually, the viruses cannot spread to enough new cells to maintain the chain reaction of infection, and there is hope that this can lead to new and exciting medical cures.  After the microorganisms consume the available viruses in the body, they themselves die due to a lack of food.  Unfortunately the Protozoadiplococcus has not been shown to be able to survive when taken off the planet.  Scientists using genetic engineering are attempting to create a strain of the Microorganisms that can.

Behind the ScenesEdit

Circe was the Greek goddess in The Odyssey who turned men into swine by drinking a magic potion.  Compare to similar names from neighboring systems, like Scylla and Charbydis, the whirlpool and rocks that threatened to smash or suck ships that dared pass between them.

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