Five Minutes To Midnight
Outside the Enclaves are the Khaki Wastes: areas where the Khaki Plague dominates. The Plague is still active, and travelling the Wastes without an environment suit is a quick way to get infected. The Wastes are a network of roads, bunkers, and supply depots filled with machinery that doesn’t work and guns that don’t fire.
And Plaguebearers. Some of the victims of the Plague survive. Most are little more than animals, kept alive by the Plague and marched in weak mimicry of military patrols, constantly scouting for fresh resource. They make sorties against the Enclave and its external operations from time to time, though repelling them has become a matter of routine.
Since the initial outbreak, inhabitants of the Enclaves have frantically researched ways to deal with the Khaki Plague. Some are more successful than others, but none is a perfect solution.
First up: like any other foreign body, the Plague triggers the human autoimmune response. It’s not a given but — especially with a helping hand from regular shots — minor exposure to the Khaki Plague will just put you out of commission for a few weeks while your body takes care of it. In general, though, you want to give yourself every edge you can when what’s at risk is turning into a horrific zombie monster.
Next up is minimising exposure. The Plague uses biological components as a power source, piggybacking off the respiratory process in animal cells or photosynthesis in plants. This means that it takes much longer to convert dead things. Hazard suits get eaten away eventually and need to be decontaminated, but they’re a big help when traversing the waste.
This brings us on to decontamination. Irradiating the plague kills it, and so does burning it. Obviously, this is no good if it’s already on you, but it’s the business for disposing of bodies and sterilising exposed items.
This is all fine for stuff that’s not coming for you screaming at the top of its lungs. Plaguebearers are a different matter. Bullets will stop one moving, but the Plague is medically pretty advanced and won’t write a carrier off until there’s barely anything left to push it forward. Fire works a lot better, and most sorties into the Wastes are sure to carry flamethrowers and a good supply of fuel.
There are persistent reports that some inhabitants of the Wastes have developed an out-and-out immunity to the plague and make their living out there as best they can: intelligent, capable, and still infectious. Though their motivations and goals are unknown, a lot of people would like to figure out how they do it.