Rank: Captain (O-6)
DoD ID#: 0739423153
MOS: Medical Services Corps Officer (#2301)
USPHS Commissioned Corps - CDC
Stationed: Atlanta, GA
My name is Kristen Ricci, but you can call me Kris. I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on December 10, 1973 to my father Jack Ricci, an American Navy serviceman, and my Hawaiian mother Lynn Maile. Growing up my father was a Naval Aviator, so we transferred around the country alot; Key West, Whidbey Island, Corpus Christi, and eventually settling down at Coronado in San Diego, CA.
My parents had 3 children; myself, Jack, and Lisa. We lived a fairly idyllic life growing up; school, long summer vacations, missing dad when he was on deployment. I graduated from Granite Hills High School, in El Cajon, CA in 1991, and went to UC San Diego School of Medicine on a HPSP scholarship, graduating with my M.D in 1997. After completing my residency at National Naval Medical Center and a deployment on the USS Mercy to was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton. That was when I met Laura, she was an IT Director at a company in San Diego. We met at a rooftop party at the San Diego Hilton, and it was love at first sight. 6 months later, we moved in together, in true lesbian style. We settled down in San Diego and adopted two beautiful children; Grace and Patrick. I was deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan as a field doctor and surgeon, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2007 I requested a transfer to the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corp, as part of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. After officially receiving my transfer order, we packed up and moved to Atlanta. At the CDC, I began to specialize in Medical Forensics and Epidemiology, working with the worst of the worst diseases; MRSA, smallpox, Ebola, Tularemia, Nipah Virus, Hantavirus, and other scarier things that the CDC keeps locked away in their BSL-4 labs.
Life progressed well in Atlanta, by 2015 I had been promoted to Deputy Director of Epidemiology at the CDC, basically we monitored infectious disease outbreaks, research new disease strains and variants, traveled to conferences to discuss findings and collaborate with governments around the world. In March of 2015, I receive an urgent top secret email. It appears that US forces intercept a crashed Russian IL-76 transport freighter in Iraq, on board are several bio-hazard sealed containers labeled KN-151. The containers have been shipped to the CDC for analysis. Of course this just ruined my week, I was supposed to be leaving for Geneva the next day for a WHO Summit, now I have to go look at Russian Flu Samples, which are probably nothing. I head into the office and we take the samples into the BSL-4 lab, and start to investigate. Starting to the investigate the samples, my team and I are a bit stumped; it looks like Marburg virus, particularly the MARV strain, but it is different, like it has been modified, or engineered? Oh! You don't know what MARV is? Let me explain; MARV is an extremely deadly virus which causes a hemorrhagic fever, you bleed internally. There is no known cure, however those get early medical attention are more likely to survive, the fatality rate is about 80%.
Clinical phases of Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever's presentation are described below. Note that phases overlap due to variability between cases.
Incubation: 2–21 days, averaging 5–9 days.
Generalization Phase: Day 1 up to Day 5 from onset of clinical symptoms. MHF presents with a high fever 104 °F (~40˚C) and a sudden, severe headache, with accompanying chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pharyngitis, maculopapular rash, abdominal pain, conjunctivitis, & malaise.
Early Organ Phase: Day 5 up to Day 13. Symptoms include prostration, dyspnea, edema, conjunctival injection, viral exanthema, and CNS symptoms, including encephalitis, confusion, delirium, apathy, and aggression. Hemorrhagic symptoms typically occur late and herald the end of the early organ phase, leading either to eventual recovery or worsening & death. Symptoms include bloody stools, ecchymoses, blood leakage from venipuncture sites, mucosal & visceral hemorrhaging, and possibly hematemesis.
Late Organ Phase: Day 13 up to Day 21+. Symptoms bifurcate into two constellations for survivors & fatal cases. Survivors will enter a convalescence phase, experiencing myalgia, fibromyalgia, hepatitis, asthenia, ocular symptoms, & psychosis. Fatal cases continue to deteriorate, experiencing continued fever, obtundation, coma, convulsions, diffuse coagulopathy, metabolic disturbances, shock and death, with death typically occurring between Days 8 and 16.
Interestingly, the Soviet Military attempted to weaponize the MARV virus in a series of classified research programs during the cold war. At least three Soviet research institutes had MARV research programs during the Cold War: the Virology Center of the Scientific-Research Institute for Microbiology in Zagorsk (today Sergiev Posad), the Scientific-Production Association "Vektor" (today the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology "Vektor") in Koltsovo, and the Irkutsk Scientific-Research Anti-Plague Institute of Siberia and the Far East in Irkutsk. A Soviet defector claimed that a weapon filled with MARV was tested at the Stepnogorsk Scientific Experimental and Production Base in Stepnogorsk, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (today Kazakhstan), suggesting that the development of a MARV biological weapon had reached advanced stages. At least one laboratory accident with MARV, resulting in the death of Koltsovo researcher Nikolai Ustinov, occurred during the Cold War in the Soviet Union. In short: MARV, it is nasty shit.
So anyway, where were we, oh yeah! So this KN-151 strain looks like MARV, but a bit different. We conduct tissue samples, and it seems just like MARV. We then decide to test on rats, as expected the rats got sick. A few days later one of my researchers comes and tells me she has something that I have to see urgently, come over and she has a video up of the rats on her display. As expected the rats die, but the rats infected with the KN-151 strain seem to come back to life, for a few minutes, even though we see them die for several minutes. They are different, aggressive, listless; Their heart is beating abnormally, and their brain signals are all over the place. Eventually they die, and the monitors go silent.
We stare at each other, what was this? We decide we have to test this on primates, we decide to test on four squirrel monkeys. We expose the four monkeys to the virus, and they go through the normal stages of MARV, and die. Then 24 hours later, they were reanimated; much like the rat's they were listless, but aggressive. Similar to the rats, they experienced irregular heart rates and abnormal brain patterns; like only medulla and pons were active. When the researchers would approach the holding tank, they would lunge and screech, gnashing their teeth at us. The control monkey, which was exposed to standard MARV, was eaten at by the reanimated monkeys. We decided to insert a healthy monkey into the environment to see the results, almost immediately the monkeys attacked; clawing, and attacking aggressively, blood and flesh spattered the walls of the holding tank. 32 hours later the monkeys have died. We are in shock and disbelief, this is the zombie virus that we have dreaded and feared forever; the Russians are obviously developing this, but why? It breaks so many international conventions, and laws. Is there more of this? How advanced is this program? The remaining KN-151 is locked in a CDC vault, never to see the light of day again.
We reach out to the Russian government through State Department back channels, and our peers in the WHO. The Russian government disavows any knowledge of KN-151, and the U.S. Government, wishing to avoid an international conflict buries the information, and the case is closed.
On the 13th of July, 2017 I receive a classified briefing from the US Embassy in Novigrad, Chernarus, informing us of a infectious outbreak in the cities of Severograd and Turovo in South Zagoria. Some claim that after people die, they come back to life; the US Embassy cable classifies this low confidence. When I read this, my heart stops, and my mind flashes back to KN-151; Could the Russians have? Why would they release it so close to home? Was this an accident gone wrong? On the 14th the CDC and the WHO organize field forensics teams to travel to Chernarus. After saying goodbye to my wife and kids; my team and I leave on C-17 Globemaster, with a stop over at Rammstein AFB, and then direct to a NATO base in Takistan, we arrive on July 16th. Once we arrive, we discover that the border is completely closed to Chernarus, and board a fleet of US Navy ships traveling to South Zagoria. Our mission is to provide a forensic assessment of the situation on the ground, and see if there is a possible antidote to this disease.
On the morning of July 17th, my assistants; Kate, Charles and I arrived with a US Marine detachment in Elektrozavodsk. The city was in panic, we drove to the Elektro hospital, it was completely full and the staff was stretched to their limits. We met with the head Doctor, Gregory Tretiakov (Григорий Третьяков); he tells us there is nothing that they can do, other than make them comfortable and then kill them before they turn. We head back to the NATO command, and request all of the medical supplies we can get, to be sent to the hospital. My team spends a sleepless night, helping the doctors and nurses in the Hospital, so they could get some much-needed rest.
On the morning of the 18th, I call my wife, she is scared, there are reports of outbreaks of MARV in New York. I tell her, it is bad and to leave Atlanta, and head to her parent’s house in Jefferson, Missouri. We spend the day in our makeshift lab in the hospital, analyzing the sample against KN-151, and the two are strikingly similar. It appears the Russians had continued their research and made a full blown pandemic virus. Dr. Tretiakov, takes ill, and several of the nurses, yet still more and more refugees are flooding to Elektrozavodsk from the countryside seeking refuge and medical care.
By the 20th, we have heard that Chernogorsk has fallen, and has been burned to the ground. Charles and a detachment of Marines have headed north to man a checkpoint perimeter. The NATO and Russian forces are flying bombing runs to the north, and all we hear all day is the sounds of explosions, and occasional gunfire as the forces must kill those who have turned. At one point a full hoard of zombies rushes the perimeter from Chernogorsk, and all forces open fire for twenty to 30 minutes; nothing but the noise of SAW’s and A-10 GAU-8 cannons cracking through the air. The streets of Elektrozavodsk smell of burning gunpowder and death. I call my wife on the satellite phone, she tells me they have made it to Jefferson, and are safe, but outbreaks have spread in Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas. Suddenly the phone goes dead. I try calling back, but the lines are all busy.
I head back to the hospital, people are in a panic. CDF forces are going through and killing anyone showing symptoms. I walk into the hospital room where Dr. Tretiakov is at, as I open the door he is standing facing the corner. I call out his name, and suddenly he lunges at me; crack, I hear the shot as my military attaché, Sgt. Ryan Ellis shoots Dr. Tretiakov in the head with his service pistol. Then I notice the trickle of blood coming from Sgt. Ellis’ nose. He looks at me knowingly, and I pat him on the shoulder as we head back to our lab. I look in the window and I see my assistant Kate; she has turned… I know someone must kill her, and it should be me. Sgt. Ellis hands me the weapon, and I open the door tears streaming down my face, aim and crack, and she is gone. I slump down on the floor, and burst into tears. So much death, so much hurt, even in my days on the front in Iraq and Afghanistan, I never saw anything like this. Suddenly I hear over Sgt. Ellis’s radio that NATO command is calling everyone back to the ships for immediate evacuation. The first thing in my mind: Charles! I tell Sgt. Ellis that we have to go for Charles, Sgt Ellis protests, saying that the Marines will ensure they get him back safely, I protest, “I cannot lose another member of my team, not if I can save them!” He finally relents and we grab a Jeep and head up the road to the checkpoint North of Elektro, as we pull up we see a horde of zombies, and the checkpoint is over run. The zombies, hearing the jeep, start to run following us. We are driving as fast as possible looking for a place to lost them. Sgt. Ellis hands me his gun and the rest of his magazines. Suddenly a zombie lunges for the back of the truck, holding on, I start shooting; crack, crack, crack. Shots ring out. We make it back to Elektro, just in time to see the last patrol boat leaving the docks. Grabbing the radio I call for help but just hear static. I fire shots up the in the air to try and get their attention, but the soldiers on the patrol boat cant hear us. Suddenly zombies rush our location! Sgt. Ellis turns the jeep and starts driving up the road to Kamyshovo. We pull up at the hunting stand at the end of the road. We have lost the zombies. Sgt. Ellis, is looking very poor, and asks me to end his life. After saying our goodbyes, and crying many tears, I take the gun and crack! His lifeless body falls to the ground.
I slump to the ground, alone and terrified. Here I am, a week ago in my nice Atlanta corner office, to being in a zombie zone, cutoff, completely alone. I rummage through the truck, eat some rations, and think. The Russian border is not far from here, with the jeep I might make it in an hour or two. I gun the jeep and drive up the road. Everytown is deserted, and eerily quiet. Finally I make it to the border, a pass in the Black Mountains, it is sealed shut. Large massive cargo containers, concrete barriers and razor wire block the way. I try the radio again, nothing.
Now fully realizing my situation, I decide to travel to Novigrad, I make the trek through rolling hills, and back country roads, with nothing but a compass to guide me. It takes several months, once I arrive the city is in ruins, I travel on to Takistan, the NATO base is abandoned, crawling with zeds. I grab a new jeep from the base, and move on kilometer, after kilometer, abandoned town, after abandoned town, month after month. I finally find my way back to Chernarus through Belozersk. One night, as I am sitting in the Jeep under the stars, plotting the next base or gas station to raid for fuel, I start flipping through the stations on the radio, and I hear a message. “This is Charles, Charles Pollock, from the US Center for Disease Control, if you can hear this, this is a recorded message. I am in Altar, anyone help!” My hear races for joy, oh my gosh, Charles, how is he still alive? In Altar? I whip out my map of South Zagoria, and start plotting a route that way. Finally the message shuts off. Charles! How is that huge nerd alive? How did he survive? I don’t know, but I have to find him!