A, not B
ALTRICE CITY, REMIA - At an Information Ministries press conference today investigators confirmed reports that the lead suspect in the RemianB genocide has been found dead. Investigators say that Dr Salanar-Niqdun Schuecter was found dead some distance from a remote campsite along the Caskia Range Trail. The badly decomposed body was discovered by a small group of hikers. Forensics indicate the body was that of Dr Schuecter, and that the cause of death was self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that death had occurred approximately two months ago.
The body was discovered after one of the hiker's Or'tor returned to the group's campsite with a partly decomposed foot. The hikers were able to retrace the steps of the Or'tor and found the body deep in a thick patch of verrs. Investigators commented that the body probably would never have been found otherwise. "It appears that Dr Schuecter did not want his body found," commented Chief Investigator Malduc Rune. Investigators have not been able to determine how Dr Schuecter may have gotten to the site. There have been no abandoned vehicles found in the area. While it is possible that he walked the entire distance from Altrice City, it is unlikely that he could have done so without having been seen. "It is still a mystery," says Rune.
The three week global man-hunt for Dr Schuecter had not turned up any information on the Dr's whereabouts. It seemed that he had literally vanished without a trace. Once investigators identified Dr Schuecter as the prime suspect it seemed that they were too late and he was no where to be found. He had not been seen at his apartment house for some time, according to his neighbors. His employer, Seros BioGenetics, had not seen him in three months. Investigators combed through his apartment and his laboratory at Seros, finding nothing of any importance to the investigation. Chief Investigator Rune has indicated that he was wanted for questioning, but she would not elaborate on why he was a suspect. Dr Schuecter was well known in the field for his advanced bioengineering and synthesis techniques.
The latest information from Federation scientific investigators concerning the so called B virus has revealed a startling and absolutely efficient killer. Dr Essisso Dynlorr, who had been studying the genetic structure of the life forms on Remia since first contact six months ago, had just begun to map out the separate but parallel evolution of the RemianA and RemianB, with many others in his agency working on the lower life forms. "They had completely different genetic codes. The were truly different species. This provided the viral immunity for the RemianA, and unfortunately, the lethal vulnerability for the RemianB," he commented.
Dr Dynlorr has been working with a team of scientists from across the Federation, as well as RemianA scientists, to reconstruct the timeline of the destruction of the RemianB. "The B virus was engineered to accomplish one goal, the complete annihilation of the RemianB. A typical virus reaches some equilibrium point in the competing characteristics of lethality, contagiousness, and curability. An instantly, absolutely lethal virus would have a very difficult time spreading to new hosts, as the first host is not able to spread the virus if they are dead, and other hosts would quickly learn to avoid contact with the dead host. A virus this deadly would probably not survive long trying to propagate in this fashion. On the other hand, a completely non-lethal virus might be able to spread to the entire population, but would never kill any of the hosts. A virus usually settles into some in-between, with the more lethal versions being less common. If the virus can be controlled with treatment the lethal ones can be kept at bay or even eliminated. It seems that Dr Schuecter has successfully engineered the B virus to accomplish both ends. It seems that the virus was introduced into the RemianB population about one year ago, probably at multiple locations. It is not yet clear how this was done. The virus spread through the population undetected, as there were no symptoms. The presence of the virus was also masked by its similarity to the common G virus, so anyone looking for virus would have seen only a minor variant of G. This enabled the virus to spread as deeply as possible into the population. The lethality problem was dealt with by engineering the virus to change over time, with a built-in genetic clock counting the viral generations to its eventual lethal form. As the virus spread it slowly sliced off genetic base pairs from its timer code, with each new host getting the newly modified virus. By the time the timing base pairs were all gone the entire population had been infected, and the result was catastrophic, and it would seem, complete, for the RemianB. The last death was five days after the first. Eight billion RemianB in five days. No time for cures, no time for anything. Simply ghastly."
While this atrocity may eventually have a complete technical answer for the question of 'how', with their prime suspect now dead it would seem that here may never be a definitive answer to the question of why.
Federation Cultural Anthropologists on Remia indicated that the two Remian species have been very open and engaging during this first contact period. It seems that the RemianA and B were once competing species, but had turned to cooperation over two-hundred years ago. There does not seem to be any cultural conflicts that could explain this cataclysm.
The shock of this horror is still evident everywhere on Remia. The untouched RemianA population is still reeling, and it is difficult to imagine that life on this small developing planet will return to normal anytime soon.
"The sociological implications of the complete destruction of two thirds of a twelve billion Remian population by one of us are staggering," commented Dyghach-Niqdun Surval, one of the RemianA delegates to the Federation. "Those five days of terror and horror will scar this world forever."
Copyright 2003, David Scott Coburn

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