What do we KNOW about the Pax?
Monday, February 22, 2010

Okay, this is me shamelessly attempting to mine the knowledge of others for fanfic purposes.

Is there more information about the Pax to be found other than what we learn in the BDM?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010 6:49 AM


Anothersky: I've thought there might be an element of that, Mal is a pretty good source of Reaver information, tactics, and strategy (which makes me think he's had more than a chance encounter with them once or twice). So if Mal says he's seen people go made just from having to WATCH what the Reavers do, he's probably right.

There seems to be some aspect of PTSD here, but how do you push that far enough, to really cause the person to snap, and just permanently go ballastic? That's where the "Pax on the Reaver ships" idea comes in. Traumatic experience makes the person (and their amygdala, it's been shown that PTSD actually changes brain structure and geochemistry) suspectible to being Reaverized by the Pax. It's also a handy explanation of why ten percent Reaverized in the first place. Imagine the trauma of watching everyone around you slowly grow more apathetic and die.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 12:07 AM


Well, I've posted my 'Pax chapter' now :), where a modified Pax is being used by a rogue doctor to make subjects pliable, if not compliant. It's not spelled out, but in the first stages of use it's being injected; the doctor then becomes more experimental about how he gets it into the body, including via modified acupuncture needles that allow administration of a drug at the same time. The damage that I've had this creating is to the nervous system, with all the attendant consequences, though again I haven't gone into this in great detail.

I hope this doesn't seem too implausible. Psychiatry is in its infancy at the moment, and only decades - less than decades ago - patients were being subjected to the most brutal and barbaric 'treatments'. Even though mainstream psychiatry may have evolved a great deal, unrecognisably even, by the time of the Verse, it's no stretch at all for me to imagine that the brutality and barbarism remain.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 9:38 PM


I always thought the "new" reavers were made by psychological breakage and twisting---accomplished much more bloodily and painfully than the originals.

Because that's what the Pax originally did if you follow the amygdala hypothesis. If not, well anything goes.

Well, with werewolf syndrome, if River got reaver blood on her, she's doomed. What about Zoe, sliced up by bloody reaver blades?

Maybe it's like rabies. Given their cobbled together psychological scare appeal with elements of pirates, cannibal natives and zombies, I wouldn't put it past reavers to transmit something via biting. But I don't know about the Pax. Perhaps Pax is like DDT.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:45 PM


Some toxins bioaccumulate, though usually it's from one animal eating a contaminated animal, not the other way around. It's possible, maybe. Certainly zombie, werewolf, and vampire stories like this idea.

I've always liked the idea that maybe there's Pax somehow IN the Reaver ships. So they dock with a vessel they're raiding, or haul off victims from a settlement to keep around for snacks, expose them inadvertently to the Pax on their ship, make new Reavers, eat the people who quit working. 1 in 10 isn't too bad for odds.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:21 PM


I often took the 'scientists' explanation of what the Pax did to imply that it was a chronic exposure over a period of time -

The people here
stopped fighting.

And then they stopped
everything else.

They stopped going to work...

they stopped breeding,
talking, eating.

There's million people
here, and they all just
let themselves die.

That she says they stopped fighting, and *then* they stopped everything else, implies that there was some time in between those two events. We don't know how long, though. That would explain why people in cars also stopped, presumably because they had received enough dose from whatever various sources the 'air processors' supplied, but that it wouldn't be enough to affect Mal and the crew from their, relatively, brief exposure.

I was just asking GillianRose today about the potential potency of the Pax after exposure - i.e. in the body of the exposed person - wondering if exposure to bodily fluids say, through bites or scratches, etc. from a Reaver attack could spread the Pax to a new victim?!?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 5:45 AM


Yeah, you can have a lethal one time dose to something, that's "acute exposure."

The only problem with the "piped indoors" idea is that there's clearly some element of exposure outside the buildings. Unless the cars are also outfitted to disperse Pax. There was one guy laying on the sidewalk, but maybe he was dragged there by the Reavers when they broke out.

A poor understanding of the long term effects of Pax exposure and a cumulative effect of chronic exposure could also cause the same scenario, with the crew not being effected.

I think Pescaline is a reference to fish, like how Omega-3 fatty acids can be used to treat arthritis, and D is a reference to Vitamin D, which is used to treat osteoporosis.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:39 AM


As for other meds, is Pescaline-D a shout out to Phillip K Dick?

Monday, February 22, 2010 5:21 PM


Well, as for the paranoid schizophrenia thing, I think Simon is trying to cover at that point.

For those who are aware of the symptoms, it becomes kind of hilarious, and might be a weird kind of irony--you know, because the voices she hears are their emotions, and her evil-government-conspiracy ramblings are, well...real. Lol. It's the Pax!

Perhaps the writers were throwing back to the Pax Romana...or more sinister, the Pax Deorum. More irony!

I envisioned the air processors of wonders if a lethal dose could be a one-time thing. Since they already pipe scents through in some places, why not the Pax?

Monday, February 22, 2010 4:30 PM


That's the one! yeah, I don;t know of any other canon sources re:Pax, so I just thought Screw's take on it might be a source for inspiration. I guess though that from what's been written in the wiki's and whatnot about the terraforming process that there are "atmospheric processors" in place to make the planet habitable. I have no idea what those would look like, but that would probably be a good place to start if you want to spread some kind of toxin over an entire planet. That sounds like something larger than would be found within cities/buildings b/c they would have had to be put in place before building could really start. Or, yeah, they could be the air processors in the cities, since if it was just early settlers the government/Blue Sun would have a fair idea that all the people were basically in one or a few places, and thus in range.

Monday, February 22, 2010 3:35 PM


You probably mean ScrewtheAlliance's Unfinished Business. Don't know anyone who hasn't read it. The prison ship in question was just for doing inital testing with the Pax. I don't know how canonical it is, because Miranda happened just before the War and the suggestion is that the Alliance used the War to distract attention from Miranda.

Monday, February 22, 2010 2:48 PM


Well, he said that to Mal in Safe, but I think he was pretty much referring to the symptoms she was presenting. Or trying to cover up for whatever else was done to her with a more mundane explanation.

Someone has a fic on this site delving more into the Pax and what the Alliance was using it for (trying to quell prison populations, etc.) And I thought he/she had an interesting take...I forget the name though. One of the chapters was "The Monkey King" or something. But unless you have one of the RPG manuals handy I don't know if there's more canon Pax-specific info out there.

Monday, February 22, 2010 12:39 PM


Speaking of which, does Simon ever actually SAY she has paranoid schizophrenia?

Monday, February 22, 2010 12:32 PM


Why is it always the amygdala...

Well, you're right, the symptoms do fit in both cases as damage to the amygdala. Or maybe suppression to the amygdala in some people, and rage/aggression/uncontrollable libido damaged amygdala for others.

Monday, February 22, 2010 12:15 PM


My first thought when I heard the trade name was Paxil, (haha) and they're both after, you know, peace. Pax.

Or it could be a suspended aerosol (something like an asthma inhaler or air freshener...)--easier to control the measurements that way, and not have it doing all the inconvenient things that true gases do.

However they use it, I would hazard a guess that what it did to the percentage of proto-Reavers was mess up their amygdalas something awful. Major damage to it generally results in uninhibited aggression and lack of a fear response in most higher mammals.

Sounds like Reavers to me.

Yes...and all of this is totally backed up because I am a Medicad-trained doctor like Simon. Who thinks his sister has paranoid schizophrenia, but that's another subject...

Monday, February 22, 2010 11:53 AM


That's about what I think. The movie specifically calls out air processors. Which actually in my head could be ventilation systems in buildings as much as actual plants to do the same job. Might be easier to hide (put it in the furnace or AC). And the buildings are sealed off in the movie, maybe when whoever was monitoring the whole debacle realized it was going wrong, it's almost like a quarantine. Maybe that prevented a minimum of Pax still leaking into the atmosphere, hence the crew being safe. Unfortunately for the people who died in all those cars, seems like a lot of them still got a fatal dose, probably from working in those same buildings and as a cumulative effect.

Monday, February 22, 2010 11:36 AM


I'm also supposing it wasn't part of the initial terraforming, that there needed to be continuous work done to maintain the levels in the air. Otherwise our BDH's would have been poisoned too, not to mention the scientists who came to investigate.

It'd be hard to crop dust an entire planet, especially if you were after a consistent dose across the population. Someone (Wash?) mentions flying over several large cities - maybe there were air-processing facilities in the cities, going through all the buildings, the mass transit, and even the outdoor areas of the urban centers, meant to ensure that everyone was sufficiently calmed.

This has me thinking of the old studies on the effects of overcrowding on aggression. Maybe the Pax would be particularly useful in ultra-dense city environments, or other places where space is at a premium. Hmmm, like a mine?

I always thought it was called Paxilon just because of the Latin Pax, I did not know there was such an herbicide.

Monday, February 22, 2010 6:57 AM


Dosing a population with herbicide is kind of suspicious in the first place. Maybe brain damage was the entire point. A dumb population of cattle is easy to control.

In the 1960s, there were various pesticides invented. Everyone was told, don't worry, they're completely safe! They'd go out and work in the fields, and stop to watch the planes as they passed overhead dropping the pesticides. Get covered.

You can probably guess that the health assessment was over optimistic. People definitely don't do that anymore.

Monday, February 22, 2010 6:53 AM


It's also possible that the Pax just plain caused brain damage in the subject population. Initial test studies probably didn't model large scale populations and aerial dispersion well. Might have upped the dose to try to counter dispersion issues or maybe increase the effect, but the dose was too high.

Monday, February 22, 2010 6:45 AM


Well, we know the chemical trade name, G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate, we know it was distributed through the air so it's probably a gas, and we have a rough idea what symptoms of exposure are. The why is less certain.

Looking at the trade name, Hydrochlorate is likely either just a kind of salt (from Hydrochlorate of Soda, which is NaCl, table salt) or it's a compound related to Hydrochloric acid.

My guess is it's related to these compounds and generally was developed for use as an antidepressant.

Paxilon is a herbicide.

Mmm mmm. Sounds like tasty fun stuff.


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