“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

With A Whimper

No one knows how it happened. It’s assumed that Patient Zero was in the United States. The spread of the Cellular Regenerative Virus ran unchecked throughout the United States and Canada. It spread across the world through plane traffic and down into Mexico as people attempted to flee the country.

CRV was incredibly hard to detect initially. The virus’ gestation period looked like the common cold, and took at least a week’s worth of incubation before the symptoms began to show in earnest. First flu symptoms. Fever. Runny nose. Wracking cough. Then more symptoms — insomnia, paranoia, madness and death at the end. All within a period of two weeks. Humanity’s greatest strength, community and civilization, became its greatest weakness. The virus used this to its advantage, as people were infected by the violence inflicted by late-stage CRV victims.

At the beginning of the crisis, people in Iceland, Norway, Canada, Mexico, Brazil – too many countries to name – were lined up against walls and shot to death as soon as they exhibited any kind of symptoms. People who had legitimate mental instability were given the same treatment, out of fear that CRV was the cause of their paranoia or schizophrenia. It was pandemonium and chaos.

As towns and cities within North America, Europe, Asia and Australia were overrun, most of the world’s superpowers saw no real alternative. The first missiles were launched. The world was changed forever in the span of thirty-five minutes.

Nuclear fire lit up the continental United States. There were flares and flashes and soon the ash and dust swept up into the sky and remained in the stratosphere. Similar actions were taken throughout Europe, Russia, the United Kingdom, Oceania, Asia – any country that had a nuclear arsenal used it. Some used it against population centers that were known to be overrun within their own borders. Others used them against their political enemies in the fury and confusion caused by humanity’s most powerful weapon.

And just what were they afraid of?

No More Room In Hell

Cellular Regenerative Virus earned its name through the action it caused after the victim died.

The body would come back to life, completely overtaken by the virus, which acted as a parasitic creature that hid in the victim’s brain. It bore the immortality of any virus; it could not be knocked out by anything short of destruction of the brain. It was a blood-borne virus. As soon as the walking dead began to bite the living, the victims showed symptoms of CRV. There was no escape.

Some people saw the signs before the end. They secured themselves in underground bunkers, vaults and barricaded caverns and subway stations. When the survivors emerged twenty years later, they sought to retake the world and rebuild it.

Unfortunately, the bombs could only destroy so many of the unliving. No structure existed to allow for the continuation of society as it was. More than that, an entire generation had been raised in the shelters and dark places; an entire generation had become used to drinking from semi-radiated substances; to avoiding the sunlight when scavenging for food; to the eerie silence of the world after the holocaust.

The Fifth Age of Kali

Now, six months after people began to emerge to retake the cities, strong survivors and those mutants who’ve expressed strange abilities that both awe and terrify other humans, communities are beginning to establish themselves.

In Portland, Oregon, the damage is minimal. To the chagrin of the survivors there, the government had ignored it, save for carpet-bombing a large part of the suburbs. CRV victims are still entirely too common.

And this is where your people have chosen to make their home.

Borrowed Time And Borrowed World