In The Wake of Battle, Disaster Strikes Mekhios
Sarum Prime – In the aftermath of Jamyl Sarum's triumphant return and the defeat of the invading Minmatar forces here last week, the overall mood on Mekhios has been celebratory, with many church services on the planet offering special prayers of thanks and the Sarum Family proclaiming Sunday to be a planetary holiday. Her gilded path to taking the throne of the Empire has only intensified the revelry.
However, the battle above this heavily populated world has not only brought joy, it has brought destruction to a wide swath of the planet's northern continent, where wreckage from the the Minmatar and Amarr ships destroyed on Tuesday has been raining down for the better part of a week. Late Tuesday, half of a Minmatar Naglfar-class dreadnought hit the outskirts of Erasileo, a city of 15 million people. The blast destroyed a large section of the city and started fires that burned until early Friday morning, and most of the city has been evacuated as a precaution due to noxious gases produced by the fire. Planetary officials fear that the area may have to be sealed off for extensive decontamination, as starship drives contain a wide variety of radioactive components, heavy metals, and other health hazards.
While Erasileo has been the worst incident here, it has hardly been alone. A camp home to over 50,000 slaves belonging to the Sarum Family was hit by wreckage from a number of ships, killing at least half the slaves and sickening most of the rest; according to House officials, the damages from that impact alone will number in the hundreds of millions of ISK.
The port city of Tempestas Terminus was hit by a tidal wave created by a number of impacts offshore, destroying much of the city's port facilities and the luxurious waterfront district. According to Amarr Certified News, at least 200 people are dead as a result and as many as ten times more are missing. “It hit just as the waterfront was starting to open up for business,” said one witness. “I've never seen anything like it; one minute there were a dozen people walking along the boardwalk, and the next, the ocean had swallowed them up.”
According to planetary officials, local defense forces have spent much of the last several days attempting to remove the largest debris from decaying orbits and recover it for salvage. Though the battle over the planet temporarily knocked out the tracking system used to identify threats – which led to the Erasileo disaster – it was back online within 12 hours, saving many additional lives. Unfortunately, the debris field could still pose a significant threat for a considerable length of time.
“There's so much out there though,” said one salvager, “that it could take weeks or months to get most of the big stuff, and then you're still going to have fairly large chunks raining down for who knows how long. Frankly, with that many ships being destroyed in orbit, we're lucky we only had one really serious impact.”
Planetary officials tell ACN that the number of dead may be in the millions by the time a full assessment can be made, with as many as twice that wounded or sickened. “The health effects could last for years,” said Garmasi Panora, professor of environmental sciences at Hedion University. “The gases, dust, and other contaminants released from the impacts could stay in the planet's upper atmosphere for decades. In order to deal with that kind of a threat, you almost need to use techniques usually used for terraforming; unfortunately, those are a lot harder to do when you're trying to do it on one of the most dense populated worlds in the entire Empire.”
The Sarum Family, however, has promised that they will not allow this disaster to overshadow their triumph over the Minmatar here. According to a spokesman for the family, Jamyl Sarum herself has sworn that the planet will be restored to pristine condition. “Lady Sarum has called upon the best minds in the Empire to attack this problem, and offered a considerable honorarium for those who do so. The Sarum Family intends to make this restoration a budgetary priority.”