Rebel, Rebel
Rebel Scenario One:
The Antiobiotic War

Katniss Everdeen
Welcome to the Near Future. Despite so many promising medical and technological advances by scientists in recent years, we seem to be losing the centuries-long war humanity has fought against the microbes. The antibiotic “miracle drugs” we have long used as our primary weapons in this microscopic war seem to be turning against us. Overuse of antibiotics in centuries past has led to the emergence of resistant strains of superbacteria that are devastating the ecology of the planet. Millions have died not only of virulent new diseases, but also of virulent old diseases once thought conquered — but now untreatable with any known drug. These old enemies have returned stronger than ever. The common cold is now deadly. Old nemeses like smallpox and tetanus have joined forces with new and more deadly foes like stone pitt syndrome, which leaves its victims forever unable to digest solid food, and mad duck disease, with its characteristic stench of festering poultry. The plague no longer responds to antibiotics, threatening us with a new Black Death, which killed a third of all humans on Earth between 1346 and 1353. A plague is truly upon humanity. It appears to be only a matter of time before the human race is reduced to little more than a cockroach memory.

On the front lines of this microscopic war, an elite team of military disease-control commandos makes a last, desperate stand for the survival of the human species on Planet Earth. Empowered to shoot to kill with no questions asked and immediately burn the corpses, the commandos hold the power of life or death over anyone accused of being a reservoir of antibiotic-resistant microbes. Their mission: hold the line against the advancing microbes in the hope that the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and government worldwide can fund and develop novel, broad-spectrum superantibiotics to combat the superbacteria before it’s too late — the so-called “antibiotic solution.”

In the midst of this microscopic war for species survival, a small band of Rebels has arisen to challenge the military health establishment, whose deadly force they claim has been used not only to contain the spread of disease, but also as a political weapon to ensure the continued political power of the Establishment. What’s more, the Rebels believe that developing more and more powerful antibiotics will only stimulate the genesis of even more powerful superbacteria. They will therefore stop at nothing — including overthrowing world governments — to implement their own proposed solution: genetically engineering new, “human-friendly” bacteria to battle the plague on a microscopic level. Their “ecological solution,” however, is also not without its significant risks. It could, after all, lead to the accidental creation and release of even more hostile microorganisms — which might finally destroy any last remaining hope humanity has for survival.

The fate of humanity depends not only on whether the Establishment or Rebels prevail in this struggle, but also on which side turns out to be correct in their strategic approach to the antibiotic war. We invite you to imagine yourself taking on the role of any or all of the characters described below and consider how you would handle the situation.

The Characters

The Establishment

Dr. Lee Pawn, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a fervent believer in the antibiotic solution, who dreams of developing a new drug-based cure for the plague and using it as a personal springboard to wealth and political power.

Dr. Chris Cope, Director of CDC Antibiotic Research, a former true believer who now suffers from stone pitt syndrome and questions the wisdom of the antibiotic solution.

Dr. Sylvan Heir, Director of CDC Public Relations, a cold-blooded apologist for the Establishment who supports the mass extermination of infected citizens and believes that only the strong always will--and should--survive.

General Rory Cork, head of CDC Security, a hard-core militarist, lover of fancy weapons, and strong proponent of superantibiotics as the ultimate weapon in the battle against the plague.

Senator Pat Capture, Head of Senate Subcommittee on Quarantine Management, primary sponsor of the legislation that changed the government’s prior policy of quarantining and treating infected citizens into one of mass extermination.

The Rebels

Lt. Col. Bobbie Slaughter, a suicidal veteran of the disease-control commandos, who has lately found mass murder in the name of the survival of the species without much appeal. The lieutenant colonel no longer cares about whether the human race will survive the plague, but has made it a personal mission to bring down the CDC, the World Health Organization, and other like-minded groups.

Private “Stinky” Reeks, a former contamination disposal specialist for the disease-control commandos, who suffers from mad duck disease and no longer hides it. The private believes the CDC has deliberately been concealing evidence of a nonantibiotic cure in a bid to boost the profits of drug companies who are heavy political contributors.

Dr. Brook Queen, Former Director, CDC Antibiotic Research Program. Dr. Queen created the first superantibiotic, which was subsequently linked to the emergence of stone pitt syndrome and mad duck disease following a mass inoculation program. The good doctor feels personally responsible for the current horror — including the mass exterminations being carried out by the disease commandos--and is desperate for personal redemption.

Capt. J. “Rebel” Boomrock, specialist for the disease-control commandos, who has watched once-powerful antibiotics become ineffective against the microbes, and who has seen enough blood and guts for a dozen lifetimes.

Prof. “Blackie” Coffee, Professor of Ecology, Rachel Carson University. Prof. Coffee has genetically engineered a new “friendly” microorganism that appears to be capable of boosting the immune system and demolishing hostile microbes in the human body. Is it a panacea, or another plague waiting to emerge from the test tube?

Further Developments
OK, you’ve chosen a character. You’ve thought about the attitudes they hold, the things that are important to them, their temperament, etc. And you’ve tried to imagine how you — as the character — would handle the Antibiotic War scenario. Now we’ll throw you a little curve. Here’s the most recent status of the War. How will your character handle it?
You have heard rumors that the other side has reported great success in treating the plague, and is about to claim victory in the antibiotic war. Flushed with bold enthusiasm, your enemies stand poised to implement their claimed solution on a global scale within the next 24 hours. You have no way of assessing if the other side has truly achieved an ingenious solution, or is merely being reckless. Your own forces, however, are currently in position to destroy the enemy stronghold and finally prevail in the ongoing conflict between the Establishment and the Rebels. Whether you take this opportunity to destroy your enemies once and for all, quietly withdraw your troops, or finally decide to join forces with them in their bid to defeat the plague, there will be no turning back. What will the character or characters with whom you have chosen to identify do now?

Think you know now if you’re a Rebel at heart or a defender of the Establishment? Maybe it’s not so simple. This was just one possible future. You might respond differently under other circumstances.

This article copyright © 2016 by Alpha Cygni, Inc. and Keith Harary. All rights reserved.