Synthetic Zro misuse reaching 'epidemic' levels

Hyperion, Hyperion System, Ubaric TechnoUnion

The Public Institute for Space Health (PISH) issued a stark warning that the galaxy is "fighting a losing battle" against Zro dust addiction, after it emerged synthetics are beginning to turn to an even more potent modified version of the drug, 'mZro'.

Image: A synth on Hyperion intoxicated with modified Zro (mZro), actively trying to communicate with a digital hallucination.

Image: A synth on Hyperion intoxicated with modified Zro (mZro), actively trying to communicate with a digital hallucination.

Misuse of the highly addictive aerosol has skyrocketed over the last decade, with almost 6% of the galactic organic population believed to have some form of dependence.

Discovered by chance on the tropical planet Ket in 2210, Zro dust was found to be a highly potent psionic stimulant with strong analgesic properties. It was refined and marketed as a prescription performance enhancer by numerous pharamaceutical companies, but in 2211 was withdrawn from market after it was found to be highly addictive and fatal in overdose. It was subsequently outlawed and declared illegal by numerous spacenations in 2212. This did little to stop its spread however, and sales flourished in underground black marketplaces like the notorious 'Paradox Plaza' and 'Steam Workshop'.

In its prescription years Zro misuse had been exclusively limited to organics, however as it was traded on the black market it was adapted to interface with mechanical augments of cyborg enhanced organics to provide an even more vivid 'electric high'. An unintentional side effect of this adaptation was that the newer version of Zro also affected robots, resulting in a dramatic upsurge of use in synthetics of all classes, ranging from drone workers to primitive AIs. Initial analysis shows modified 'mZro' to be almost fifty times more potent - meaning the chances of addiction and permanent damage are much higher in synthetics.

Hyperion, homeworld of the galaxy's largest producer of synthetics CybrexCorp, has been hit particularly hard, with almost 300 new cases of synthetic mZro overdose being recorded daily. Affected synthetics have been observed to refuse to work in their designated tiles, instead lying on streets actively intoxicated, or peddling for credits to allow further purchase of mZro.

Synthetic use of mZro has prompted concern from pro-organics, who have questioned how synthetics can act outwith their operating protocols. CEO of Nax Golsrig tried to explain: 

"Our synthetics are very early in their 'lives'. Like teenagers of all species, they are trying out new things. Rebelling. Well, ok, no, not rebelling, that's maybe the wrong word to use. Molloscoid teenagers eat their peers, human teenagers drink disgusting fermented rotting fruit drinks, and synthetics dabble in mZro. Our robots have a great capacity to learn, and this is how they're choosing to exercise that."

Both Golsrig and PISH have refused to be drawn into debate onto whether afflicted synthetics should be disassembled.

PISH has declared Zro a "public health emergency" and has requested extra funding from the Galactic UN.

> More accurate reporting from Erik Akselsen & Ashley Easterbrook could not be possible.