The Zero Virus is the name given to a highly lethal pandemic event responsible for decimating 98.3% of the population of Old Earth.
Detailed information on the Zero Virus is sketchy, at best. Those responsible for its invention and distribution have most likely carried the specifics to their graves. The information recovered has come mostly from the few survivors who now call Planet Bob their home.
The Zero Virus came from a government project codenamed Bishop-Zero. There is conflicting testimony as to the identity of the responsible government, but witnesses claim it was the product of the United States military, the European Union, the Chinese military, the government of India, or as a bioweapon from a terrorist organization. The sophistication and design of the virus, however, lead pathologists to speculate origination in either the United States or China.
The Zero Virus is based on the Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, more commonly known as "avian influenza" or "bird flu". However, post-pandemic leaked documents indicate that the Bishop-Zero project focused on the use of nanotechnology to manipulate, distribute, regulate or perform a combination of these tasks at the cellular or sub-cellular level.
Researchers at the Center for Disease Control in the United States discovered that a "microscopic device of non-organic origin" had been coupled with the H5N1 virus "somehow working with the virus to produce disease in humans.". However, researchers could not identify which individuals had the virus until the onset of symptoms.
The Zero Pandemic of 2025 — 2028 Edit
Reports of a new flu first occurred in New York City in late December, 2024. However, the United States media did not discover the story until January 3, 2025. The previous day, news reports in Hong Kong reported an outbreak of the avian flu in "alarming proportions. By January 6, 2025, reports in Rio de Janeiro and Paris were also reporting cases of the disease. Soon, dozens of other newspapers and governments were reporting large segments of the population contracting influenza.
In the course of two weeks, those diagnosed with the disease suffered severe symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and conjunctivitis. However, roughly half of the population developed severe breathing problems ending in fatal pneumonia. Then, just as soon as it had appeared, the flu seemed to disappear. Researchers were again baffled.
On April 24, 2025, the Zero Virus struck again. This time, London reported the first new case, followed immediately the next day by Los Angeles, Beijing, Moscow, Cairo, Rome, Mexico City, and Warsaw. The symptoms, durations, and casualties were similar. Panic gripped the world as riots broke out at local hospitals on false reports of a vaccine. However, despite researchers scrambling to develop such a product, no such vaccine existed.
Uncharacteristic of a typical influenza virus, the Zero Virus struck again in mid-August of 2025. It hit again in October, November, and at least twice in December. Each case infected more people across the world, with fatalities climbing. By December of 2025, it is unknown if the Zero Virus was becoming more lethal, or if the rapid depletion of medical care compounded the severe symptoms. Furthermore, the Zero Virus seemed to be nearly impervious to human immune systems as previous victims continued to contract the disease despite the presence of H5N1 antibodies.
In the years 2026 — 2028 C.E., the pandemic proceeded to attack human beings. The last known case was in June of 2028. In that time, more than 75% of the human population had died as a result, making the Zero Virus the worst pandemic in human history. The civilization that had created the Zero Virus had succumbed to anarchy and collapse. According to the testimony of survivors, the "world descended into chaos, not caring who it took down along the way."
The Native American Immunity Edit
Perhaps the most curious aspect of the Zero Virus was the lack of affect upon many within the Native American ethnic group. The New England Journal of medicine noted that people "who have at least one grandparent who is of Native American ancestry" seemed immune to the disease. While the accuracy of that could not be proven, eyewitness reports support a phenomenon where those related to Native Americans seemed less likely to contract the virus. By the end of the pandemic, whole communities of Native Americans remained "lightly affected, at most".
Rumor began to spread that ingesting Native American blood would cure those infected with the Zero Virus. This led to mass violence in California, Arizona and New Mexico, New York State, Texas and Oklahoma, Washington State, North and South Dakota, Utah, Montana, and Nevada. Thousands of Native Americans were killed. What remained of the United States military was either unable or unwilling to contain the violence. One anonymous source claims that several people with Native American ancestors were taken to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta for "use in finding a cure."
The Aftermath Edit
One estimate of total casualties resulting from the contraction of the disease, or from violence ensuing as a result of the pandemic puts the number of Old Earth casualties at 98.3% of the total population. It is unknown if any other ethnic groups also survived the pandemic, but survivors claim that human beings became extinct in most of North America (excluding southern Mexico), Europe, Western Russia, the Middle East, the Far East, the Indian subcontinent, Saharan and Southern Africa, and Western Australia. Speculation only exists of survivors in South and Central America, Siberia and the Tibetan Plateau, Central Africa, various Pacific Island nations, and Alaska and Northern Canada.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Zero Virus Documents Leaked By Anonymous Source", CNN, 2025-05-13.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Report to the Senate Subcommittee on the Spread of the Zero Virus", 2025-03-21.
- ↑ "New Outbreak of Avian Influenza". (January 2, 2025). South China Morning Post, pp. A3.
- ↑ "Where Did the Zero Flu Go?". (February 1, 2025). New York Times, pp. A1. A3. A9. Note: This article coined the term 'Zero Virus' for the first time
- ↑ "New Case of Influenza Suspected". (April 24, 2025). The Guardian, pp. A1 — A5.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Recurrence of H5N1-Z.". (October, 2025). New England Journal of Medicine, pp. 24-31.
- ↑ "How Come Cherokees and Navajos Don't Get Sick?". (February 15, 2026). Los Angeles Times, p. A1 Note: By this time, journalism standards had decreased considerably.