Previously: The Magi Wore Flipflops
Themesong: Der Fuerhrer’s Face by Spike Jones
“It’s been 28 days… why aren’t you working on the Jump Tree?”
“I’m hoping if I ignore it long enough it’ll go away.”
“I don’t think it works like that.”
“I know. Just… I really hate Zombies.”
“Well, that’s cool. We get to kill them in this jump.”
“Yeah… that’s what we get to do… for 10 fucking years. While civilization slowly crumbles around us and the zombies keep coming and coming and coming and we constantly have to be on our guard against the monsters that look like those we once loved.”
“Oh come on. We’ve fought through tons of monsters! This will be like “Pow, Zap, Squish!”
“I can’t believe you’re psyched for this.”
“You’re a dork.”
“Hey, I’m not the only one. Joy and Ahab are both interested, Kendra’s up for anything involving killing the undead, and most of the Mon are like “Gnar! We fight!” It’ll be swell… especially after all the downtime!”
“I can’t believe you’re dating Kendra.”
“I was married to her for 45 years.”
“Yeah… well… I didn’t even mean to bring her along… and I didn’t think Quick would pull her out of storage… or turn Vivian into a tree.” I looked over at the large hypercomputer cum Cherry Tree growing through the center of the house. “But that’s besides the point, you guys are so keen, you do it. I’ll just hide in the Warehouse behind my shields and autoturrets and dimensional barriers.”
“That’s cheating. And I can’t believe you’re scared of Zombies.”
“I’m not scared of Zombies. Zombies are icky! And weird! And… and… all Zombie fiction is depressing! It’s not scary… it’s dystopian end of the world blaaaaah.”
“Zane… that wouldn’t have worked on me when I was actually 12 for the first time. Fine… you know what… fine. I just spent the last 12 millenia sitting on my ass being all contemplative and godly. I could use some dirt on my hands. Zombies? Bring it on. You want me to fight Zombies? I’ll show you me fighting Zombies.”
“Stomping around in your PJs and ferret slippers isn’t very intimidating.”
“I loathe you.”
“It’s pronounced ‘Lurve’.”
“The two are not mutually exclusive.”
The machine was bright red and black. It looked ominous as fuck. There was a Pandemic One Armed Bandit with three rollers. I pulled “THE LEVER!”. Chunk, “Parasites”, chunk “Phase One”, chunk “Major Hospital”. I read the precis… Parasites hijack their host’s nervous system, and are larger and more difficult to pass on than other causes. The hosts are driven to extreme aggression when it’s time for the parasite to reproduce. With above human speed and strength, Parasitic Zombies can typically restrain healthy victims while they transfer the new larvae into them. Usually attacking in groups and picking the vulnerable in the early stages, these parasites may escape notice until it’s too late. Hosts are fully aware of the creatures in them, but can do nothing to resist. Clearly, a bioweapon that reflects on the folly of man.
Phase One made it potentially a fixable problem, which was good. It was on the “Several Outbreaks within the same region, a frightening first experience with the potential death toll if the condition is not contained. The preppers begin to fall back into their bunkers.” The lunatic fringe claim it’s the work of Zombie Hitler and his Zombie Nazi Legions.
Starting in a Major City Hospital means that I’m surrounded by the turned and the just about to turn. Joy. And with no danger warning, I’ll have to rely on my own senses.
I chose to be a Tradesman for (100) [900/1000], in this case a Glassblower, and spin the wheel of aging. 31. Why am I in a hospital? I decide to go into the jump as a Guy, but thanks to my trip to Ranma land, I don’t have to pay for it.
Before I shop for myself, I go looking for the import option. My companions seem eager for the opportunity to blast some zombies. Dawn of the Deputies costs 50, and grants the same basic value as Joy and Ahab’s automatic importing ability. So that just leaves 6 others [600/1000]… Zane, Kendra, Dyna, Petra, AJ, and Francine. Ziggy is happy just sleeping and getting treats and Rayray is totally above it all. Toph, Bao, and Uriel wisely decide to refrain from the festivities, which is good, because I’m at 8 without them.
I flip through the rest of the options, seeing nothing I need and only a few things I’m even vaguely interested in that aren’t hugely expensive. It’s all very thematic to survival horror, but I’ve always figured real Zombie Apocalypses will be more in the line of medical emergency / open warfare. At least a Parasitic Zombie Plague vaguely works, unlike a disease vector. Still I scoop up Double Tap, which effectively doubles my weapon damage, which can’t be bad.
Tradesman nets me Repairman for free… and it does more than its name implies. “You’ve got great skill working with your hands. Basic Woodwork and metalwork are easily within your grasp (haha).” Which is nice. Most basic fixit skills have traditionally been beyond me. I also scoop up the two next cheapest Tradesmen perks, just to round myself out.
Vehicular Skills not only makes me great behind the wheel (wooo! Redline here I come!) but makes me a frankly amazing mechanic. Which is like… cool… because normally I’m like ‘Where does Gas Go in?” well, okay, not that bad, but honestly, I barely know where to put the washer fluid in a car. Not that I’ve driven a lot these last few millennia (We are the Manifestation. Cars are driven for us.) (Oh hush you… fucking 169 incarnations, always cluttering up the back of my mind. Thankfully, they all just fit in one wing of my mind once I deleted the day to day / century to century sameness of their lives. I do not need 12300 years of bathroom breaks, meals, or meetings.) The power to avoid any avoidable accident will probably be more useful, in the long run, than the ability to upgrade vehicles into mobile death machines.
Master of the Craft I take for the fluff, as it makes me THE master of (in my case) Glassmaking. Sure, as a true master craftsman, it says I’m sure to impress others with my work, but that’s less important to me than just… being good at something. If I had more points, I might take drawing as well… but I have no intention of making this any worse just so I can learn to draw… maybe a different jump.
I do note that one of the drawbacks makes the parasite non-human specific… so by inference, it must default to being human specific… which will be… useful. Dunno if Hobbits are close enough, but I’m betting Krogans, Asari, and especially Pokemon aren’t. Which makes Kendra the most at risk for zombification… but with a Parasite, I should be able to Medbay at least my friends.
And speaking of them, I confirm with each of those who are coming what costume they’ll be wearing. I am spectacularly unsurprised to find myself with four doctors, considering that it confers Disease Resistance as its freebee and of the four already immune to disease… four clerics… hopeful thinking? Seriously, that’s what Clergy’s freebie was. The ability to spread hope. Wooo. I asked them what religion they were Clerics of… and they pointed at me, smirking. Jackasses. I hit the confirm with no real plan and no anticipation that this will not be fifty kinds of horrible.
We drop into the middle of chaos, the Zombies coming from all around us, an emergency room full of doctors all backing away from the chaos of their patients trying to bite them. Bending powers activate! Pressed Zombie… Zombie Sashimi… Zombie Jerky… Zombie Flambe… And the fucking norms freak. Sigh… this is going to be a problem. I notice things look off, then blink in marginal surprise.
“Fuck me… I think this is the 1940s.” I can’t say all the clues, but the lack of any TVs, old style radios, outfits… men wearing hats… the posters with their “Just-Post-WW2” feel, the number of nurses with military bearing… but my memories tell me it as well… unless I’ve been in a coma and it looks as if I was here for a burn that has now healed. The Allies won the war… hurray… the Nazi’s unleashed hell… boooo. It’s 1949, and Truman is President.
We pull armor and gear out of the warehouse, suiting up as I tricorder the shit out of the parasites, then dump the data to Vivian as I fuse with Victoria for the first time in ages… literally. “Victoria, this is Atura, my inner spirit. Atura, this is Victoria, my highly aggressive clothing. And I… appear to be Solomon Judd. Good southern Jewish name…” I shook my head and shrugged.
The trip out of the city is so much less fun than strolling out of Raccoon city. We’ve got hours before the Bombers reach Atlanta… this is Atlanta… but there won’t be an Atlanta in by dawn the next day. The army has the city surrounded… no one gets in… no one gets out… at least not until after the firebombs and nukes have their way. Jesus… the news says they’ve already taken out Savannah and Tallahassee… and every city on the continent is on quarantine. The Economy must be tanking fast. No news from elsewhere, but I have my doubts.
My companions get out by going under the blockade, thanks to our Earthbenders. I go through the line, wanting to see how tight it is. It’s tight. Nothing gets within 50 meters of the encircling force without getting filled full of holes and then burned. The army are wearing camo-ABC suits… they look reinforced. Someone’s on the ball. This isn’t consumerism zombieland or communism zombieland… this is Nazi zombieland and the army is laying down the law. Sooo many tanks. I nod in approval, then pass on through.
The glow of Atlanta’s destruction lights up the twilight and I wonder if it will be rebuilt a third time. It isn’t the last city to go down. The outbreaks don’t stop, but these people have just come out of a world war and there are more soldiers than anyone one can shake a stick at and so very very many guns. I try and find a cure in Memphis… the city goes down in a month. We move on to Topeka… it falls three months later. Dayton… at the end of the first year. The Pandemic isn’t spreading fast, the parasites run in cycles that are predictable, but each city that falls spins out a few contaminated before it falls. No citywide quarantine is foolproof and just closing the roads isn’t always possible.
I’ve provided sampler technology to the Army in exchange for funding and priority evac and protection. They keep moving us, rolling my mobile lab on a convoy of armored semis. The Zombies clearly know I’m a threat now. Must be all the samples. I’m working too hard, not getting enough sleep. Headaches all the time now.
After Dayton comes Fort Leonard Wood, Indiana. It’s been reinforced into a cantonment, barricades, walls, a freaking moat. Nothing gets in without passing through checkpoints, bloodwork, x-rays. The Parasites aren’t tool users, but they’re sneaky. The base has internal walls too and a network web of electrical wires spaced over it with holes even a sparrow wouldn’t fit through. It’s a tough nut to crack… until the ammo runs out… which it does. Where the fuck are all these Zombies coming from? Can’t think… popping aspirin by the bottle now. Maybe heroin?
After Fort Leonard Wood comes Camp Grafton in North Dakota. The Zombies don’t do too well in the winter… not enough survival instincts… can’t hunt… they freeze and die, so the further north we go, the better we are. Russia’s doing okay like that. China too apparently. But the jungles of the tropics are a mess. The island nations seem to be doing pretty good. Most of them are on total quarantine. Didn’t save Britain though. I’d cut down the number of actually destroyed cities somewhat by handing over neutron bomb specs, which only destroyed some of the city and killed pretty much all life, human and parasite, dog and cat, you name it.
Two years in and the pain in my head is making thought almost impossible. White noise makes it bearable… but just barely. Only time it seems to let up is when another city is nuked. Dunno why… until it hits me. I shut down all my psychic senses, all of them, by injecting myself with a very questionable cocktail of neuroinhibitors. The silence is deafening. I swear.
“MOTHER FUCKING BULLSHIT!”
Zane snaps up, looking around. “What? Where?” He’s training his gun around the room like an attack dog. He looks like one too. The army has long since gotten used to the fucking aliens. We’re here to help, we claimed, come in peace we claimed. Ripped apart a lot of zombies to prove it too. One of the privates is convinced that Joy and Ahab are Hobbits because they’re short and have big hairy feet. We scoff, “Hobbits? Those aren’t real… nooo… Joy and Ahab are Vulcans. See the pointed ears?”
I turn to Zane. “Fucking Zombies… there’s a god-damned hivemind… or a queen. Dunno which. The headaches… it’s interference. Gets disrupted every time a nuke lights up too many of them.” The vaccine gets put on hold… already got a cure, had that soon after the detection patches, but it’s not a “Zap, you’re cured kind of thing.” Requires sedating the victim then a bunch of treatments. The Parasites don’t like it much. They fight back. Muscle relaxants and lots of restraints. Found a poison that works on them too… works damned good… but they kill their host when they go down and the poison is injection only… and not exactly fast to make. Fucking daddy-longlegs are hard to milk.
This world had no satellite network, so we had to build one. That took time, even with the Warehouse’s fabricator. Getting them to orbit wasn’t hard, but tuning the network to find psychic wavelengths wasn’t exactly easy either. The army was getting impatient. Finding those wavelengths took five weeks. But the noise was all over the spectrum, so I had to search for where it was strongest, narrowing the line, which took another ten weeks… but all that told me was where Zombie Infection rates were highest… which the army liked because it meant they could target clusters before they bubbled out… but didn’t help me much with finding the problem.
Base security got a lot stronger after that… though I did have to waste time travelling to DC to explain to those fucking idiots in the War Department why they fucking well better give the technology to the god-damned Ruskies too.
Unfortunately, what I needed was a couple more nuked cities… and the army was having a field day stopping cities from needing to be nuked. Shit. The US and Russia were the only nuclear powers in this time, and Russia had used all five of its nukes in the opening days of the infestation. The US was the only country still producing them damned things. Everyone else had bigger problems.
Kendra saved the day there “Why don’t you get the government to nuke one of the cities in another country?” So I did. But not our government. I sold the russians enough plutonium to make 20 good sized nukes, by posing as a Chinese weapon’s dealer, then sat back and watched. If there was one thing you could count on Stalin for, it was over-reacting. Within a month, Russia was down 10 Zombie-nest cities and I’d gotten 20 pulses across the global parasite network. The lynchpin was in Buenos Aires… a city so far untouched by the plague.
I considered my options… then made the most difficult choice of my life. Titanium telephone poles. Rods from God. The fabricators could make them easily enough. I’d used one once in a targeted strike. But this wasn’t going to be targeted. This wasn’t going to be clean. We dropped fifty-two of them onto The South American Big Apple, then paved the ruins of what had been a city of 6 million innocent people with neutron bombs courtesy of the USAF.
That flushed the bastard out and we tracked it north-east. No idea how it survived, but it had. We hit the ground running, following it as it gathered more and more zombies around it into a army of half a million crazed meat puppets. We caught up to them just outside of Curitiba, Brazil, a massive swarm of zombies pouring out of the beleaguered city to join those already clustered around the lynchpin.
We had plasma cannons on grav-tanks… 20 of them, fabricated based on Anti-Geth units I’d commissioned way back when. We had shields… they had flesh and bone and infinite rage. My companions… and the First Marine Grav-Tank Corps… smashed through the lines of zombies at 50 miles an hour, pulverizing bone and brain and parasite under the crushing weight of an 80 ton countergrav field. I stood alone, cloaked, waiting for the motherbrain to run like the coward it was, out the far side of the throng.
I was not expecting Zombie Hitler… but that’s what I got. Zombie. Queen. Mother. Fucking. Hitler. Fifteen feet of psychotic half-human half-parasite monstrosity. It was tough, it was fast, it threw psy-blasts like nothing I’ve ever faced before, backed by the neural network of a quarter billion Zombie Hosts. Vivian gave me feedback as each pulse fried more and more of the Zombie Network, but it wasn’t enough. ZQH could throw approximately 75 of the things… I was at half power and dropping after 4. I backed flipped up to the top of a 10 story building, highlighted against the sunlight, then called “Oy, Hitler. Scared of a little Jew?”
He roared, leaping upwards towards me. Just before he crested the top of the building, I yelled “AVAST!” and apparated behind and above him. Not far. Just far enough that I wasn’t in the way as the Jenny Ray smashed into the ex-dictator, who threw all his shields into blocking the titanic WEAPON killing beam. And then I RAILGUN’d him in the back. “How’s that for a Final Solution?” I asked as the hideous freak of nature boiled to vapor and the beam plowed a hole in the army, nearly knocking out one of our tanks.
I’d like to say that solved the problem… but all that did was make the Zombies more feral, less organized. We monitored their activity, focusing on the larger packs, spreading out anti-zombie units across the world. Full body armor was back in a big way. Cities were walled and sectioned once again. There were craters everywhere. The vaccine took another 2 years to develop…. And even by the end of the jump there were regions still unclaimed, still unvaccinated. I left the battle tanks there. It would be a hundred years before they even had the tech to open the hatches on those things… but hey, they needed them a lot more than I did.
On the last day, on a small island in Fiji, we watched the sun rise and I asked Zane “Did you guys have fun?” The general consensus was that, yes, they had had a lot of fun, but that I’d set the game on easy mode. “What? You wanted more Zombies? Bigger Zombies? Well, fuck you. No more damned Zombies! I hope the next jump has nothing for you to kill more dangerous than a cocker spaniel.”
“What are those?” Zane asked “They sound fierce.”
“Remember Lady & The Tramp?”
“The animated Chick Flick with the dogs?”
“Kinda? I was rooting for the dogs to eat the Cruel Woman. Sucked they didn’t.”
“Well, Lady, the momma dog… she’s a cocker spaniel. They’re slightly less fierce than Ziggy.”
“Blah… sounds horrifying.”
“You have a weird sense of horrifying.”
“Yeah, well… you’re no fun.”
“Shut up and pass me a beer.”
Next: World 22 – Magical Sapphism Tour
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