Warning: this story contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 2 Episode 7, "Blood and Lies." The Walking Dead: World Beyond declassifies the top-secret Project Votus, revealing the meaning behind the letters "A" and "B" branding the Civic Republic Military used to traffic survivors on The Walking Dead. In Season 1 Episode 4 of the spinoff, a post-credits scene showed CRM scientist Dr. Lyla Belshaw (Natalie Gold) conducting experiments on walkers and labeling test subjects as "As." The reveal came after Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) traded people she marked as either "As" or "Bs," a binary code that classified Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) as a "B" before a CRM helicopter airlifted him away from The Walking Dead.
Rick, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) were all marked as "As" when Jadis captured them and nearly had them bit by walkers on The Walking Dead. Jadis abducted and traded Heath (Corey Hawkins) to the CRM in exchange for supplies for the junkyard where she lived with the Scavengers until Season 8.
In The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 3, a CRM pilot tells Jadis she needs an "A" for extraction from the junkyard to the Civic Republic, an advanced civilization home to 200,000 survivors. After Gabriel finds out she's been trading people for supplies and threatens to tell Rick, Jadis reveals she thought Gabriel was a "B" but nearly has a walker bite him to make him an "A."
Jadis gets her "B" in Season 9 Episode 5 when Rick washes ashore after blowing up a bridge to stop a walker horde. "He's hurt, but he's strong," she radios the helicopter pilot, using Rick as her ticket to the CR.
"A" or "B"
World Beyond Season 2 Episode 7 confirms "A" means "test subject" and "B" indicates an asset when Jadis, now Warrant Officer Stokes of the CRM, investigates a missing vial stolen from the Civic Republic Research Facility where Lyla conducts classified experiments on empties.
The vial contains a sample of a green liquid chlorine gas that biochemist and geneticist Dr. Leo Bennett (Joe Holt) determines was used in the tactical military operation that killed 10,000 people at the Nebraska Campus Colony and another 100,000 at the Omaha Safe-Zone. The bioweapon chemically bonds itself to moisture inside the body, triggering severe bronchial spasms and an excess of fluid in the lungs that "drowns" the victim from the inside out.
It's a project that involves studying live test subjects through death to further research on reanimation.
In the secrecy of her underground lab, Lyla confides in Leo's daughters, Hope (Alexa Mansour) and Iris (Aliyah Royale), explaining she studies reanimation and observes what happens to test subjects as they die. "Most" of the zombie-bitten "TS: As" kept in cold storage were found in the wild and in death are a gift to science.
Explaining the green color of the gas, Lyla developed an intra-cerebral injection of algae-derived chemical extracts that showed promise in delaying the time between death and reanimation. Lyla and Dr. Abbott (S.J. Ovaska) of Portland — the test subject strapped to a gurney in Lyla's lab in "The Wrong End of a Telescope" — learned of a secret military operation in which tens of thousands would die but was critical to the survival of the human race.
When Abbott threatened to alert the Civic Republic's Civilian Government, the CRM killed him and turned him into a guinea pig. Sergeant Major Barca (Al Calderon) meets the same fate in "Blood and Lies," killed by the chlorine gas after confronting Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond) about the massacre at the Campus Colony in Season 1.
Kublek founded Project Votus with CRM Major General Beale eight years ago, two years post-global outbreak of the unknown zombie virus that turns the dead into flesh-eating empties. In The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 6, "TS-19," CDC virologist Dr. Edwin Jenner (Noah Emmerich) says resurrection times vary: it can happen in as little as three minutes or as long as eight hours.
In "Blood and Lies," Lyla is close to a breakthrough when test subject Barca approaches eight hours without turning. It's rare, but not unheard of, Jadis says. This proves correct when the ex-CRM soldier reanimates after 7 hours and 48 minutes.
The Last Light of the World
Project Votus is the "ultimate priority" for Kublek and part of the CRM master plan to resist returning power to the Civic Republic Civilian Government, violating a provision of the Founding Compact. A decade after the CRM agreed to transition power to civilian oversight after ten years, Major General Beale's attacks on Omaha and the Campus Colony will ensure the military stays in power as CR Research Facility scientists carry out their research to potentially end the zombie plague.
In "Foothold," Lyla said her work was to determine "what inside us makes us turn - whether it be fungal, bacterial, viral, or something else entirely." If they can investigate and discover what keeps the dead animated, what slows their decomposition rates, and what feeds their appetites, "We hope to one day turn off those triggers, eliminate the dead as a threat, and eradicate them from the earth."
Using biorecorder devices fused to the brain stem of walkers, Bennett's research involves infecting the dead with strains of fungi grown on necrotic flesh. By modifying existing fungi, Bennett hopes to accelerate the dead's rate of decay and neutralize them as active and mobile threats. Along with decontamination centers used for mass cullings of the undead, the ultimate goal of Project Votus is to gain a foothold by eradicating empties from the planet to ensure humanity's survival.