I wear my Halloween costume all year round!
This report contains spoilers through July only. Please don't discuss any later months in the comments!
We found the virologist this month; if you haven't, you might want to skip the last few paragraphs.
There was a glimmer of hope this month. Earlier this spring and into the summer, it had seemed like we were descending hopelessly into the apocalypse, with COdA becoming ever stronger and more difficult to deal with. But now, for the first time, we had good news. Vera Walker, a virologist working on another research team at the CDC, reported that she had made a major breakthrough in sequencing the disease. We might actually be able to cure this thing one day!
And then Vera promptly disappeared. We knew she had been working at a dangerous research station in a Faded city, either Atlanta or Santiago, but we weren’t sure which. The orders went out that we should find her as soon as possible, which meant we’d have to spend more time in the Faded cities ourselves. And of course, we were supposed to do this while simultaneously researching cures for standard diseases and working on multiple other projects, like constructing military bases, establishing quarantines, and eradicating disease. All this without any government funding—typical.
Still, when we looked at the map of disease incidence at the start of the month, we felt relatively optimistic. There were level-three concentrations of disease in Delhi (currently our home base and location of a major research station), neighbouring Chennai, and Tokyo. Since Delhi had been our center of operations for the past several months, we had learned a lot about the types of disease that might develop there, and were confident that we could treat and cure it relatively quickly. Meanwhile, Tokyo was a relatively quick land trip away, and Jim the Medic could use his local connections to deal with the situation while he was still some distance off. So although there are never any certainties when it comes to the spread of disease, we felt reasonably sure that we could head off any immediate outbreaks.
The start of the month
The map was also showing level-two disease concentrations in Montreal, Atlanta (a Faded city), and Osaka, while there were level-one concentrations in Moscow, Cairo (also Faded), and Jakarta. On the whole, we were relieved to see that there wasn’t too much COdA being reported quite yet. We set up some road blocks and got to work with the same old team from the past few months: Melody the Quarantine Specialist, her coworker Sandra the Research, Jim the Medic, and his rival Robert “Bob the Builder” the Operations Expert. Sandra got the team off to a good start, treating all the disease in Delhi and Chennai and also taking some time to acquire knowledge from Jim about the disease’s current state in Delhi. Then Jim set off towards Tokyo, and brought the rest of our initial plan to fruition.
The middle of the month played out basically as expected: Melody spent most of her time at the research station in Santiago, Ground Zero for COdA, maintaining the quarantine there and analyzing the research data sent to her by her coworker Sandra. There was an outbreak in neighbouring Lima at one point, leading to instability in that city, but on the whole we managed to get the three standard diseases cured without much problem. It was only later that the situation started escalating, when we started to focus on finding Vera the Virologist and building military outposts rather than keeping the diseases under control.
Vera’s trail was starting to go cold, and ultimately Melody had to take desperate action to find her before it was too late. Bob the Builder had set up a research station in Cairo, a city that had remained remarkably calm despite being Faded and having at the time a level-two incidence of COdA. Melody spent her final turn searching for information on Vera in Santiago [using two yellow cards to advance the search tracker three spaces, since there was a quarantine there as well], then flew into Cairo, where she established another quarantine and pursued the investigation even farther [using three black cards to advance the search tracker four spaces]. Combined with Bob’s preliminary investigations in Cairo, this was enough for Melody to crack the case and discover Vera’s whereabouts, and not a day too soon. [We drew the final epidemic card at the end of Melody’s turn, so if we hadn’t found the virologist on that turn, it would have been too late.] Melody was taking a big risk here, ending the day in a Faded city whose horrors might leave her scarred for life, but we were optimistic that we could accomplish all our government-mandated objectives and get her flown out to safety before the danger would be realized. And that did in fact come to pass: Bob took a shuttle flight back to Cairo and constructed a military base there, then flew to Manila and built a base there as well. And so we had succeeded, without much time to spare.
Melody’s risky endgame (and it looks like there are four Faded Figures in Lagos....)
[Possible spoilers start here; you may not want to read on if you haven’t found the virologist.]
It wasn’t all smooth sailing—there were outbreaks in San Francisco and Lagos toward the end of the month, leading to instability in both cities—but the rewards were great. Vera the Virologist reported that she had found the gene sequence of COdA, raising hopes for a vaccine in the future. The world may not be ending after all! Of course, we’re still a long way from actually developing that vaccine—we’ll need an immunologist to get to work on that—but just knowing about the possibility has given us a renewed sense of optimism.
And of course, we continue to develop new strategies for dealing with the situation. We’ve decided that Mel the Quarantine Specialist could use a Paramilitary Escort, which will help her deal with the Faded in the cities that she travels to. I know we said earlier on that we weren’t going to use force against innocent victims, but unfortunately we do need to keep this situation from getting out of hand—especially if we end up needing to spend more time in Faded cities researching a cure. On that note, we decided to keep the research station in Cairo as well; hopefully it won’t get destroyed before we can put it to good use.
Going forward, I actually think we could get this thing under control one day! We’re all feeling much more hopeful than we were over the past few months.