It is remarkably hard to be a slaveowner in this day and age. Once most of the more menial jobs (like harvesting crops, mining, etc) are automated, you’re left using slaves for jobs that require having actual knowledge. You can’t train a slave to fix a speeder or maintain a laser turret without teaching some of the underlying concepts of transportation or weapons theory. Of course, at that point, slaves who might be less than enthused in their current occupation now also have means to sabotage any jobs that they are put in charge of. More unfortunately (for the slavers, at least) is that most modern jobs require at least rudimentary education. Unlike the slaves from the ancient days, most slaves nowadays NEED to know how to read and write. The thing about that pesky education is that it also allows them to be much more exposed to concepts like “freedom” and “not being a slave.” From there, at least for the more determined slaves, it’s fairly easy to get them to sabotage and attempt to escape. From a slaver’s point of view, that is not the most desirable situation.
Once slaves are educated, something more than just pain is needed. Slaves know that something better is out there now, and the pain of the lash alone is often not enough to maintain control over the slave population. The Amarr struggled with this for quite a while before coming upon a solution. In retrospect, it’s one of those ideas best classified under “blindingly obvious.” Just make the slaves WANT to be slaves. If you can addict them to it, so much the better. And thus was born vitoxin and it’s cure, vitoc. Originally, it started as a simple toxin that lodged in a slave’s bloodstream, threatening to poison the slave if the antidote was not taken every 24 hours. In more recent centuries, Amarr researchers have upped the deviousness of the scheme to an almost absurd degree. Today’s vitoxin is a virus that pumps the toxin into a slave’s body unless the antidote is taken. The death is quite gruesome, from all reports. More importantly, today’s vitoc also releases endorphins and oxytocin, giving the slave a euphoric, drug-like high that quickly addicts slaves. By triggering the same neural pathways that are activated during bonding events (such as having sex, or childbirth), the drugs attempt to bond slaves to their masters, and make them actually addicted to being a slave.
Needless to say, a significant portion of the Republic’s R&D efforts have focused on counteracting this virus. Not just for the multitude of slaves still within the Empire, but also for millions of recently freed (or escaped) slaves who still find themselves needing daily injections in order to not die horrible, painful deaths. Not only that, but to also break the addiction in order to have the former slaves as productive members of society. The last thing the Republic needs is slaves who are not only still addicted to vitoc, but actually attached to their former masters due to the chemically induced affection. To that extent, the Republic recently established one of the largest research centers of its kind in Yrmori, the Forlorn Hope. A fitting, if somewhat depressing, name for a research center dedicated to reversing the evils of Amarr enslavement of the Minmatar. As I entered the site, Aura presented me with the following information:
Housed aboard a Ragnarok-class titan, the Forlorn Hope is a massive laboratory complex dedicated to finding a cure for former slaves infected with Vitoxin. It was built by Eifyr & Co. as a memorial to Dr. Mishkala Osnirdottir and her research team, who were killed when their research facility in this system was destroyed by sabotage. Some say her spirit haunts the new laboratory complex, protecting the scientists there and guiding them towards the cure she never found in her lifetime. Others say that’s superstitious nonsense, but there has never been an accident at The Forlorn Hope since the last.
Given a titan’s normal job as a bringer of death, it was heartening indeed to see it used in another fashion. A scan of the titan was summarized by Aura as the following:
This massive laboratory complex was once home to over 10,000 scientists, their staff and security personnel, working day and night to unravel the mysteries of Vitoc. Since the return of the Minmatar Elders and Otro Gariushi’s bequest of Insorum [Editor’s note: a secondary cure for vitoc] to the Republic, the facility has largely fallen into disuse, but some few scientists cling on, pushing to finish what they started before they too seek more commercial roles.
For the most part, research continues inside the newer biodome nearby, but a few smaller laboratories and their staff still insist on basing out of the aging titan.
‘Aging titan’ is right. The titan itself is literally falling apart at the seams. Gaping holes can be seen in the general superstructure, making it a minor miracle that anyone manages to live there, much less perform complicated biochemical research. Still, a titan is a titan, and is always a site to see. As usual, my poor Professor Science was absolutely dwarfed by the hulking giant, a mere speck on the hull plating next to the beast. Even a nearby Tempest seems tiny next to the mass of the Ragnarok class titan. Pieces of debris, presumably from the titan, floated in a halo around the converted research center. I kept needing to tell myself that the titan was inhabited: there was certainly no outward sign of active power sources or life, and I could only assume that the habitable parts of the ship occupied only a very small portion of the entire internal volume. On the plus side, I was able to check the Ragnarok off my list of ships I’ve seen. With this out of the way, all I need is the Erebus and I’ll have seen every titan class in person.
Compared to the dilapidated Ragnarok, the other research sites practically gleamed in the sunlight. A Gallente-built outpost serves as the main residential area for the researchers. The biodomes serve as both nature reserves and stores for research materials. Nearby, a complex of control towers were melded together with other structures to form the primary research labs. Four control towers were needed to provide the necessary computing power for the protein folding models necessary to defeat the vitoxin virus. Sticking out from the main structure were a number of ancillary labs, specializing in various research areas. All together, this was probably one of the most advanced research centers in the entirety of the cluster. For when more high energy research is necessary, there was a tachyon collider nearby. I’m not entirely sure what a tachyon collider was needed for in biochemical research, but admittedly that’s not my area of expertise. Strangely, the collider is surrounded by ruins. Age has taken its toll on whatever used to sit there. All that remains are mangled sections of metal, surrounding the crackling energy of the tachyon bombardment chamber.
Forlorn Hope is an odd combination of the old and the new. An old and run down titan sitting next to the cutting edge of research facilities. A tachyon bombardment array sitting on top the warped ruins of some ancient facility. In some respects, it was an accurate analogy of slavery. Slavery is one of humanity’s most ancient (and monstrous) customs. Today, it is an old and tottering institution that (at times) seems held together by sheer force of will. In order to keep it functional today, the latest research must go towards figuring out how to best maintain control, often resulting in significant advances in biochemistry and psychology. If only the Amarr realized that they could attain the same results without resorting to such barbarism. But I suppose that’s a bit of a forlorn hope.
- Attraction: Forlorn Hope
- System: Yrmori
- Security Rating: 0.6
- Region: Metropolis
- Potential Hazards: If you’re below a -4 in security status, or -5 standing with the Minmatar, you’ll have to deal with some rather unpleasant policemen.
- Additional Notes: There are a number of agents scattered throughout the area, but the latest reports suggest that they are not yet offering missions.