Pandemic: Spoiled Meat
Today we’re continuing the adventures of everybody’s favorite gang of disease-fighting, globe-trotting pathologists, a journey that began when [redacted]. You can read all about it over here. In either case, what follows after the jump CONTAINS SO MANY SPOILERS THAT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE SYMPTOMS SIMILAR TO EBOLA IF YOU READ THEM UNPREPARED. IF I’VE WARNED YOU ONCE, I’VE WARNED YOU A HUNDRED TIMES. OPENING THIS CONTAINER CARRIES THE RISK OF PLOT-POINT INFECTION. BE CAUTIOUS, BE AWARE, BE SAFE.
“Is it zombies, Tex?”
“It’s zombies, Red.”
As the month opens, our team is given the simplest of orders: Carry on. All previous objectives remain in place. And honestly, that sounds like the perfect reprieve from all our hard work. Working for the CDC had somehow gone from leisurely to kind of stressful over the last few months, so simply replicating March’s success at setting up paramilitary bases sounds just grand. Why, we’ll just spread out and do our usual jobs. Rocky jets around the world to treat diseases where they get too scary, Hootie Pants begins accumulating the cards we need to engineer cures, Afrojack starts setting up quarantines in C0dA country, and Jackie Tan wears his lucky dispatching jersey and tells people to do things over the radio. Sublime.
“Yessir. Them’re zombies.”
Unfortunately, the good times don’t last. As it turns out, C0dA still has a few tricks to pull. Now it mutates into something completely different, disfiguring its hosts and spreading beyond its usual boundaries. These “Faded,” as some asshole at the CDC water cooler has termed them, are pretty much walking bags of pus and pestilence. They look a lot scarier than your usual disease cube, and spending too much time around them can cause physical and mental trauma, as Afrojack unfortunately discovers when she starts her turn in Hong Kong surrounded by a whole pack of the things.
The good news is that Afrojack got off lucky. The things she saw that day may have left her full of regret and persistent nightmares, meaning she’ll lose track of precious documents whenever she departs a fully-infected city in the future, but, well, nobody ever leaves a fully-infected city without doing a few cursory treatments. She’ll live, albeit without much sleep.
After evacuating Afrojack, we’re much more cautious about sending agents into cities infected with C0dA. Since Afrojack can issue a quarantine anywhere on the map once per turn, she’s given a new assignment on the other side of the globe. For now, she helps Jackie Tan and Hootie Pants hunt down the necessary components for manufacturing cures to the other three diseases while phoning in quarantines on C0dA from a distance. We’re too slow to prevent Taipei from going a bit unstable from all the lurching Faded clogging up their streets, but by and large things are okay. As our agents converge in Lima to manufacture the final cure, we make a portentous vow to never let C0dA spread beyond its established border. Someone points out that it feels like a movie promise, which is basically like promising that the inverse will happen. We chuckle nervously.
With the situation under control for the time being, it’s a hard debate how to proceed. Now that zombies freely roam much of eastern Asia, setting up paramilitary bases staffed with sociopathic triggermen doesn’t feel quite so short-sighted, and we all agree on letting one such camp set up shop in London. Meanwhile, we give Hootie Pants military access, which should let her move between those new bases from now on.
The eggheads over at CDC HQ have been busy figuring out ways to stem the spread of C0dA and the Faded, and their newest idea is one of the oldest ideas in the book: roadblocks. These should prevent the disease from spreading between cities, though our own guys will find it harder to move along any route that has been blocked off. We nod enthusiastically then immediately forget about this stunning new technology.
But we’re distracted for a reason. Turns out we were right to set up a permanent military base — in fact, we probably should have started building them a month earlier. The newest member of our team is Colonel Sanders, a military sort who can drive through roadblocks just by flashing his military ID card and can coordinate with the military to wipe out any Faded who have gotten out of hand. The only downside is that he needs a military base in the region before he can operate. Oh, and he sucks at curing diseases.
This is possibly the easiest team we’ve ever put together. Colonel Sanders heads east to murder some Faded, Neil Patrick Harris is here to set up as many military bases as possible, while the usual Rocky and Jackie Tan duo are tasked with controlling the spread of every other disease. Easy. At least, until one of the non-C0dA diseases starts running rampant throughout Europe.
Our backside is exposed, no doubt about it. While our agents are preoccupied with C0dA and more military bases (and doing a mighty fine job of both), a terrible outbreak of the sniffles wreaks havoc on territory that was previously secure. An outbreak in Madrid not only means that the population is starting to get edgy, but also that the disease spreads to Algiers, Paris, London, New York, and even down into São Paulo. Worse, New York was already feeling under the weather, further spreading the bug to Washington and Montreal. We’re lucky to be within reach of the necessary cures, but the panic that has begun to take hold of Madrid and New York isn’t something that can be erased with a shot in the buttocks.
Then again, maybe shots are a good idea. As the month ends, HQ comes up with an idea to put some of their highly experimental vaccines to use. From now on these will be shuffled into the deck, appearing at random. When used — and each of these is a one-time thing, the card itself to be shredded into confetti if we ever resort to it — we’ll be able to ignore one of those terrifying Epidemic cards that spread the disease faster than greased lightning. The downside is that the anti-vaxxers will raise a stink (and therefore raise a city’s panic), because smallpox, polio, measles, whooping cough, yellow fever, tetanus, diphtheria, and being turned into a rotting Faded zombie are all preferable to fictional levels of mercury injected into a kid’s bloodstream.
But for now, that’s all above our paygrade. As far as we’re concerned, it’s time for a permanent military base in Manila and a round of genetic mutation on the boogeritis. It’s the same thing we pulled with the poop crud back in March, transforming the disease so we can cure it without actually visiting a research station. If you ask me, we should just mutate it to grow candy and spread world peace, but I’m just the lowly dispatcher, so nobody’s asking me.
Once again there’s a new member on our team. His name is Stallone, and boy is he a hunk. He can move among the Faded without getting beaten up, and although he can’t cure diseases at all, he can also pull equipment cards out of the discard pile. And if you’re wondering what equipment cards are, they’re awesome little stickers you can apply to the cards in your hand while stationed at either a research center or military base. Like so:
Equipped with bandoliers of grenades so heavy-laden that they threaten to tear off his shirt and reveal a washboard of glistening muscles, Stallone marches straight down C0dA’s throat, making boom-boom all over the place and then reclaiming the cards seconds later. Neil Patrick Harris mutters something about inventing induced pluripotent stem cells that will make curing diseases much easier, but nobody listens because Stallone is doing the sexy all over Asia.
We’re also given our first real look at those roadblocks, and it turns out they’re a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, this is our first real taste of just how dangerous C0dA can be, as multiple outbreaks occur in sequence. Beijing overflows with Faded, though thankfully the roadblocks channel them away from Shanghai. Tokyo almost spills across the Pacific, only for another roadblock to intercept (and hopefully firebomb) the infected cargo vessel. We’re less fortunate in other cities, and the Faded are on the cusp of running rampant. Then, the worst thing imaginable happens when the bastards finally break out along the one line we haven’t yet blocked, traveling straight from Manila into San Francisco.
Poop, someone says. Except they say it in expletive form. That’s how bad of a development this is.
Nobody blames Stallone. He did his best, and looked great doing it. Someone grumbles about how this is Neil Patrick Harris’s fault, and he whines back at them.
As before, we’re on the verge of successfully wrapping up the month when this happens, so C0dA doesn’t get the chance to spread even further into North America. We mutate the poop crud to be even easier to manufacture a cure for, and give Afrojack the “Forecaster” ability to let her predict where the next diseases will appear. Even so, this is perhaps our grimmest moment yet. San Francisco is no longer a regular old “blue disease” city. Rather, it has now been transformed into a place that will forever harbor C0dA.
Next time, we’re going to more careful about the vows we make.