Jovian Chronicles: Most Wanted
During the chaotic years of the second half of the twenty-first century, many nations devoted ever increasing amounts of money and resources to scientific research, especially in new fields of study.
Speed and results were the two keywords, and authorities didn’t much care how the work progressed as long as it did. Security precautions were vague, sometimes non-existent, and casualties were always high. The consequences were terrible: plagues, atrocities and implements of mass destruction were created and unleashed. Fortunately for the future of Mankind, most of these dangerous experiments were carried out in remote locations
on Earth or in isolated orbital laboratories and workshops.
The result was the Edicts, a covenant written into the codes and laws of every place of learning in every nation in the solar system. Though they are disliked and even hated by many in the scientific community, all agree (even if reluctantly) that some form of control is necessary for the safety of all.
The Edicts prohibit all access to high-level information pertaining to bioengineering, high energy physics and nanotechnology, and likewise forbid research into these areas without specific government approval and constant public scrutiny. The Edicts also apply to research into artificial intelligence; creating new self-aware life would be even more potentially devastating to humanity.
Offenders receive the most severe punishments possible, ranging from the loss of prestige and research privileges to imprisonment or even death, if the offense is grievous enough. These restrictions and penalties are intentionally harsh; a single accident may have the potential to kill billions, and no one is taking any chances given the odds.
Pockets of facilities flouting the Edicts flourish in different areas of the solar system. Although every nation maintains several illegal research facilities, these are always heavily safeguarded, and most feature safety procedures that are above and beyond anything that the Edicts require. Even so, one of the Solar Police’s major efforts goes towards keeping an eye on such installations.
The Kansas City Scare of 2037
The Kansas City Scare of 2037 was one of the events that would eventually lead to the Edicts. Although there were few victims, the potential for disaster was so staggering that regulations were put into place virtually overnight. A small engineering lab on the outskirts of Kansas City was working with a batch of new Yamashita material processing microrobots that had just been shipped over from Japan. During an all night run, most of the batch was accidentally destroyed. The lab’s manager decided to reprogram the remaining bots to build copies of themselves rather than order a new batch and blow his budget.
Three weeks later, replicated microbots turned up in five different locations around the neighborhood. Civil authorities closed the city limits to avoid additional contamination. Panicked rioters descended in the street, facing soldiers determined not to let anyone “infected” through the barricades. The riot lasted for two full weeks, until it was discovered that the microbots were degenerating with each “generation.” They had never been designed for self-reproduction, and the entire disaster ground to a halt by itself.