Spoiler Warning: Letters from the Quarantine Zone is a recap of a playthrough of the board game Pandemic Legacy (an After Action Report, if you will), retold in-character. Though the series does not directly acknowledge game mechanics or cards, it references their content, and the events from the game described within will result in spoilers. This is a work of fiction. You can read the entire series here.
Sigh. Another month, another crisis. On the bright side, the media has begun to follow our activities and has really trumpeted our accomplishments in 2016, especially in the face of our severe budget cutbacks. For me, the tragedy is in the cost. It all could’ve been avoided if only this Presidential administration would give the Centers for Disease Control the funds we need.
In many ways, we’ve crossed a Rubicon. The CDC is no longer simply fighting disease; we’re now fighting public perception. First, we have added Essen to the ranks of panicked cities. Worse, we’ve got riots beginning in Osaka. Riots! In Japan! The CDC isn’t equipped to handle riots; we’re a civilian organization. We specialize in epidemiology and public health, not politics. This struggle has grown irrevocably political, and we are poorly equipped to handle it.
Fortunately, the media’s attention has brought new resources into the fold. Various military and paramilitary organizations around the world have contacted us to provide support. Hearing of this, the President made a public proclamation that the CDC would establish partnered military bases on every continent to aid with local response. Yea, like we have the money or resources for that. What an asshole.
The truth is, we would love to have that kind of infrastructure. The reality is that every time we eradicate a pathogen strain, we gain valuable knowledge that makes it easier to handle future strains. We need to poor our efforts into research and eradication if we’re going to steer clear of a worldwide disaster. So, with all due respect, to hell with the Commander in Chief.
The population of Khartoum, the unsung heroes for their sheer resiliency in February, finally succumbed to the Yellow pathogen. James “Patch” Adams and his ever-ready medical team were on the first flight to Lagos and had sub-Saharan Africa cleared in a heartbeat. New York and Paris both suffered new strains of Blue, and while Paris had preemptively quarantined (bless the French for their insularity), New York’s subway system catalyzed the spread. Our only team on hand, the scientists leading the efforts on curing REDRUM under the leadership of Dr. Skylar “Scully” Sullivan, had to make due. Though it isn’t their primary function, in a crisis, even Scully’s lab geeks are ready to rush to the aid of the Big Apple.
Once the initial flare up of Yellow was contained in Africa, it proved to be relatively benign. Meanwhile, we chased outbreaks and epidemics of Blue and REDRUM across Europe, North America, and the Pacific Rim. The diseases always seemed to be a step ahead of us, and Osaka paid the price. In a lot of ways, I don’t blame them for being upset; I just wished the riots didn’t hamper our ability to treat REDRUM in the region. Meanwhile, in Essen, a sudden epidemic outbreak cast doubt and disease across Europe.
Ultimately, we got ahead of the problem and cured the March strains. Scully’s team was incredible, working calmly under pressure while constantly in transit between a research station in Istanbul and our headquarters in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Patch’s return to Khartoum eradicated the Yellow pathogen entirely, and helped us identify the common structure between all known mutated strains. This is a major breakthrough.
We made it through March. Like I said, it wasn’t pretty, but it worked. The President was livid that I ignored his order to establish military bases. I got another one of his personal calls. He threatened to defund us entirely, but that would literally take an Act of Congress, so we’re just going to carry our torch with the existing skeleton crew. To hell with him; we made it through March, and that’s an accomplishment.
If there’s any levity in the situation, it’s in the tabloids, of all places. Once we established the link between the dormant disease and acute liver failure caused by alcohol, The Sun dubbed it “Jaund-on-the-Rocks” for the jaundice that accompanies liver damage. Clever.
Oh, and there was a silver lining to March’s storm cloud. Remember that research station in Istanbul that Scully setup? The Turkish government was so impressed with our work (or, more likely, terrified of COdA, for which we still have no cure or treatment) that we managed to convince them to fund it themselves. We now have a base of operations in Europe that can easily serve Asia and Africa. So… there’s that.