Cleanslate hurried back to his office at City Hall. He was preoccupied – not an unusual state of affairs for the Maceholder of New Babbage – and moving quickly. The shipping quarantine had been initiated, which had raised a host of questions and a litany of steps needed to be taken. He glanced down at the list on his omnipresent clipboard:
- First, food. How long would the city’s supply of perishable foodstuffs last? Visit the warehouses in Wheatstone and Port Babbage, supplement the engine-calculated inventory with a quick eyeball estimate. Make a note: draft eminent domain writ in case we need to confiscate; get Tenk to initial.
- Steam. Pneumatic note to Kahruvel and Miss Falcon at the power plant: how long can we go without coal or aetheric filament? Heliograph to mines in the Badlands: postpone production and stop the ore and coal trains. Make a note: ask Steamweaver’s engine to calculate how much of a pressure reduction will buy us another few days.
- Transport. Personal visit to the portmaster for arrivals and departures schedule. Make a note: how long can we ask a merchant vessel to stand off in the Vernian before we start seeing … unfortunate developments? Likewise with the automated airship deliveries, given this is air kraken season. Floating squid are far smarter than those big dumb robot airships.
- Medicine. Telemessage to the hospitals: report the outbreak count hourly, and supplies of ether and laudanum extract. Make a note: call a conclave of medical personnel to discuss antidotes or preventive serums. See if Tenk wants to summon Obolensky or (shudder) Underby for consultation.
- Ammunition. ((Underscore)) Given the nature of the outbreak, this is urgent. Undertone is busy with emergency relief, get the other militia officers to report in: how are we on shells, cartridges, black powder, howitzers. Make a note: Will severing body parts of the affected stop them or do we have to go for their heads? If we see someone we know does it make sense to subdue them or do we have to actually kill them? Will blood spatters spread the contagion?
The questions went on and on, and the To Do list got longer and longer: foreign relations, water supply, get the DPW streetsweepers out and affix the special blood-and-body-part brushes, do we need an emergency city ordinance to license private zombie extermination businesses? Cleanslate’s head was down as he climbed the staircase leading out of the Visitor’s Hall, so he didn’t notice the noxious green vapor drifting ever closer to the brass and cut-glass of City Hall’s dome…