A seedship colony almost lost because of immunology deficiencies.

Image from Steve Bowers
The Penglai ship Taikong Shi approaches the habitat Korkai, bearing an unwelcome cargo of diseases
SystemName: Pandya
Stars: 2
1) Murugan (Mu Cassiopeiae A)
2) Lohit (Mu Cassiopeiae B)
- Distance from Achird: 5.458 ly (J2000)
- Distance from Sol: 24.638 ly (J2000)
Murugan(Mu Cassiopeiae A)
Names: Mu Cassiopeiae A, 30 Cassiopeiae A, GJ 53 A, HD 6582, HIP 5336, HR 321, Murugan
Physical characteristics:
- Mass: 1.472E+30 kg (0.74 x Sol)
- Radius: 550,299 km (0.791 x Sol)
- Luminosity: 0.459 x Sol (bolometric)
- Temperature: 5,341 Kelvin
- Spectral type: G5Vb
- Age: 4.5 billion years
Planets: no major planets
Lohit(Mu Cassiopeiae B)
Names: Mu Cassiopeiae B, Lohit
Orbital characteristics:
- Semi-major axis: 1,141,432,000 km (7.630 AU)
- Period: 21.75 Julian years
- Eccentricity: 0.56
Physical characteristics:
- Mass: 3.381E+29 kg (0.17 x Sol)
- Radius: 201,753 km (0.29 x Sol)
- Luminosity: 0.006344 x Sol (bolometric)
- Temperature: 3,025 Kelvin
- Spectral type: M5V
- Age: 4.5 billion years
Planets: 3 small terrestrial planets

The Seedship Colony

A strategy of interstellar colonization by uncrewed seedship, carrying a cargo of human zygotes, artificial wombs, and so-called Parental Vecs, was developed shortly before the establishment of the First Federation by Surya Interstellar Inc., and continued for several centuries. The early targets were Achird (Eta Cassiopeiae) and Uoagranyu (HR 8832), respectively. Next on the target list was the Mu Cassiopeiae system, consisting of a metal-poor G-type star and a red dwarf companion in an eccentric orbit, whose gravitational influence emptied the bigger star of its planetary system. The seedship Prithvi Mata was launched in 1004 AT towards this binary system.

This time the frozen zygotes of the colonists were accompanied by an experimental neogen ecology, all completely designed from scratch by former Biotek specialists. Each organism, from the intestinal flora that was to be introduced into the gut of each newborn child at the destination, to the soil organisms included in the artificial soils they would establish in their habitats, to the simplified food animals they would eat, was designed to be mutation-proof. The genomes of these neogen organisms were designed to be fail-safe; that is if any mutation did occur the organism would cease to function. In this way, the designers hoped to establish a colony entirely free from bacterial pathogens and, as no natural viruses capable of infecting humans were taken on board, this colony would be free from viral infections too. The colonists were provided with artificial epigenetic immune systems previously designed to resist the diseases prevalent in Solsys at the start of the second-millennium AT, but as none of these diseases had been brought on board the Prithvi Mata, these immune systems were never required, and over time they began to atrophy. Over time these artificial measures became out of date, as they were never updated with the newer versions available back in Solsys.

The Korkai Habitat epidemic

A number of rotating space habitats were constructed in the circumbinary asteroid belt soon after the Prithvi Mata arrived in 1118 AT, collectively becoming known as the Pandyan cluster. Synthetic human parental vecs raised the first couple of generations, gently enculturating the children with a mix of Hinduism and communism inherited from ancient South Indian cultures, blended with Federation corporatism. The Parentals later withdrew from society, acting as consultants to the local government on rare occasions. The colony thrived in solitude until the first crewed interstellar ships arrived in 1350 from the nearby system of Alsafi (roughly 15 light-years away at the time), bringing with them the inhabitants of Penglai and their microbes. Despite the stringent quarantine measures that were standard in the First Federation at that time, some communicable diseases eventually escaped and spread into one of the habitats that made the contact, Korkai. Because the Pandyans had no natural immunity to disease, and the epigenetic immunity systems they did have were inadequate to deal with the unfamiliar Penglaiese diseases, the colonists at Korkai rapidly fell victim to the pathogens introduced by the interstellar starfarers. 70% of the habitat's population died, and the remainder of the Pandyans rejected further contact.

After several decades of research and long-drawn-out consultations with both Alsafi (involving a thirty-one-year round trip for a single message) and Solsys (a forty-eight-year wait), the Penglaiese explorers finally developed an artificial immune treatment suitable for the Pandyan population, but it was many more years before they could persuade the locals to try this treatment. Still, the treatment was a success, and the properly immunized Pandyans eventually joined the First Federation. Later, it briefly became part of the Penglai Evolution.

During the Version War, the system was annexed by the Solar Dominion. Today it mostly remains loyal to that empire, although a separatist faction loyal to the Uoagranyu Free System (UFS), a local independent power, has gained popularity over the millennia.


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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Updated by The Astronomer, 2020
Initially published on 07 January 2010.