Among the slaves and prisoners freed by an edict of Emperor to-be Doriam Kor-Azor are reportedly “hundreds” of those infected with various viral control agents. Originally designed as a method to enforce compliance in Minmatar slaves, these viral control agents kill their victims unless a constant supply of the antidote drug Vitoc is administered. Minmatar and neutral organizations are receiving reports of freed slaves dying in transit or while waiting for transfer to ships that would carry them to freedom.
Whether an oversight, a tragic accident, or (as many Minmatar are saying) a calculated and merciless act of murder, if these reports can be substantiated they will no doubt further sour relationships between the Minmatar Republic and the Amarr Empire.
Intoxication with the viral control agents themselves have little or no obvious immediate effect, provided the antidote Vitoc is available and administered on a regular basis. Further complicating matters are the various strains or classifications of Vitoc necessary to counter the effects of the viral control agents.
Giils Delaau, a Gallentean biochemist working with the neutral organization the Sisters of Eve, has studied the so-called Vitoc Method and its associated chemical agents for over a decade, and is one of the leading experts into this controversial and vilified practice.
“The viral agents the Amarr use are mutable in ways that we are still struggling to understand,” said Delaau. “The various types of so-called ‘viral drug’ we have managed to isolate and study are chimerical—that is, they have apparently recombinant characteristics of various viral types in a single strain—and appear to be somehow random or programmably mutable, changing in ways that we can’t anticipate or predict. We’ve been able to isolate thirteen or fourteen different envelope proteins, which allow the viral agents to deliver their ‘payload’ if unchecked, but in every instance the payload itself and the replicative machinery—the internal mechanism that allows the virus to spread throughout the host—has been from different or unknown strains.”
This unpredictability is what makes the so-called Vitoc Method so reliable: for the past dozen years, it has been impossible for Minmatar or Gallente scientists to devise an alternative antidote to the viral control agents. “It’s literally like trying to crack four or five codes at once,” Delauu said. “In order to succeed, you’d have to solve each code simultaneously, over and over again. We don’t know who engineered these viral agents, or really even if there are different strains, or if all the mutations we see are simply variations on the main virus. And we can’t manufacture an antidote.”
But the Amarr can, and do, in ways that baffle those studying the problem from outside the Amarr Empire. Delauu, again: “Somehow they control the virus or know what it’s going to do, and can blend a type of Vitoc that prevents the viral control agent from killing its host. Without that Vitoc … well, I’ve only seen one heroic test subject die from Vitoc withdrawal, and it still haunts me. It is not a pretty sight.” Reports from border regions where the freed Minmatar are in transit or are being held for transfer are indeed horrific, if true. Stories of incredibly agonizing and grotesque deaths are making the rounds, but as yet no hard proof has materialized.
Sources inside the Amarr Empire are difficult to reach, owing to the great changes going on throughout Amarr Sovereign space, but Ammatar officials have responded, and are dismissing the reports as “alarmist propaganda intended to undermine the beneficent and noble gesture of Doriam Kor-Azor toward the Minmatar people.” One report from a confidential source suggests a subversion of Kor-Azor’s attempt to free Minmatar citizens by “certain agents displeased with the imminent succession.” It can only be assumed these “certain agents” would be under the direction of Jamyl Sarum, already widely believed to have ordered the attack on slave transport convoys in Roushzar that killed scores of Minmatar youths destined for freedom.
“If the reports are true,” said Delauu. “It’s a horrible thing to contemplate. If it was an error or oversight, it’s a tragic and terrible case of negligence. If intentional, it’s almost unthinkably, unnaturally cruel. I cannot conceive of anyone willfully inflicting this sort of death on another living creature,” he said, but continued after a thoughtful pause, “… but then the Amarr invented this as a method of control in the first place, and intended for it to strike terror in its victims. Which is worse?”