Necrostasis - In Memoriam

Wiggles
Super Mutant
Wiggles
Super Mutant
Joined: February 27th, 2013, 10:41 pm

March 15th, 2016, 6:21 pm #1

He took a bite out of the bread. Its coarsely ground ingredients would have caused him to reject it half a decade ago. Now he munched through it, mechanically, until he found a particularly recalcitrant particle. A particularly hard grain? A bit of husk? Actual grit? Regardless, he manoeuvred it onto the tip of his tongue and with a hissing noise propelled it onto the ground below. The grain proved reluctant to exit his mouth and he had to repeat the action a couple of times to dislodge it properly. He looked at the irregular hunk of bread he was holding.

“You know what I really miss?” he asked his companion, “Processed food. You know, something made to please our monkey selves. Just all the sugar and the e-numbers and the fat. All that unhealthy shit. I would kill for a microwave burger right now.” He swung his legs freely under the trunk of the fallen tree they were sitting on and squinted at the distant figures. “Pass the binoculars again.”

The zombies slouching towards them across the overgrown fields sprang into sharp relief. The lead zombie was smaller than the others. She had been perhaps 10 when she died and returned. She must have been one of the earlier ones; the soiled and torn pink rabbit onsie that clung to her remains was almost completely rotted away, as was much of her flesh. It looked like one good fall would finish her off. “Christ.”

“Ten minutes,” he called over his shoulder in the low, carrying voice universally found among survivors. The pair behind him acknowledged him and continued dressing the deer they had stumbled across. ‘Crunchy’ had been wearing homespun ethically sourced materials before the fall. She reminded him forcefully of an alternate universe Hermione Granger who had ditched the magic and taken out a subscription to the Guardian. The young man with her – Ralph - dressed in faded and patched MTP’s reminded him of a squatter, better looking Shrek.

“You still think it was a good idea to get their attention, Ben?” his companion asked him.

“There’s only a dozen or so, I’ll take out four or five before they get to us,” he said patting the crossbow in his lap, “and they’re stung out in a line. Take ‘em out one by one, don’t take chances, we’ll be fine. I’d rather we dealt with them here and now rather than let them bumble close to the forest around any longer.” He scratched his cheek. “We’ll head to the lookout after this, drop the lovebirds off and swing round the perimeter, see if we can scratch up some mushrooms, then head for home.”
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v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
Joined: July 24th, 2008, 6:54 pm

March 16th, 2016, 9:19 am #2

"It's a good enough call I guess..." Gryph shrugs "...but still, after all the years of hiding and evading it doesn't seem right to get their attention.”
James ‘Gryph’ Gryphon was a shaggy haired bear of a man in his mid 30s, most of his clothing concealed under the picnic-blanket-turned-cloak that draped his shoulders. Logically, he knew that Ben was right – Ben’d be able to pick off a few at range, and then with Crunchy and Ralph’s help they shouldn’t have much trouble finishing off the rest. One on one, in the open, any of them were the match of a zombie. To have made it this long, you pretty much have to be.
But the zombies still unsettled him; somewhere deep down in his psyche, the primitive ‘lizard brain’ still rebelled at the idea of dead walking. And no matter how many of them he returned to the grave, it never quite went away. It wasn’t fear as such, not anymore, just an unsettled feeling in the pit of his stomach.
He toyed with the idea of sliding off the log, getting warmed up and ready for action, but decided he had a few more minutes yet before he had to swing into action.
”How much hope do we have of finding any mushrooms? There weren’t too many left last time we came through – atleast, not ones that I know are safe to eat. I always get the feeling Crunchy should be able to tell the types blindfolded after her experiences gathering ‘hedgerow foods’ before the Fall. Still, I guess it’s one thing to do it with a guide book to hand for reference, safe in the knowledge that you can stop in Safeway on the way home, and another doing it here and now…”


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v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
Joined: July 24th, 2008, 6:54 pm

March 16th, 2016, 10:53 am #3

James ‘Gryph’ Gryphon:
Age: Mid 30’s
Appearance: Shaggy long blonde hair and beard. Tall, well built. Wears a check picnic blanket as a cloak over a hip length brown leather jerkin, red tee shirt over a long sleeved black tee shirt, tired khaki combats and long steel toe-capped boots. On his right arm is a battered leather bracer, and he carries a bleached linen satchel over his shoulder. His broad belt has a fancy buckle plate showing a helmeted warrior on horseback, and on it are a water bottle, a leather box pouch intricately tooled with celtic knot work, a larger ‘magazine’ pouch filled with oddments such as a pocket flashlight and a multitool, and a short ‘puukko’ hunting knife. A battered tin cup hangs from a loop of para cord whilst a thin, second belt carries the crudely stitched leather sheath for ‘the beast’, on his left hip.
Weapons: ‘The beast’ – machete, modified to have a 12” grip such that it can be used one or two handed. He carries a long shillelagh style cudgel, which doubles as a walking stick. Across his back, he carries a leather covered round ‘viking’ shield on a shoulder strap
General background: Due to his short sightedness, Gryph has always preferred melee combat to ranged, even back before the Fall, when he spent his weekend re-enacting Viking age battles. Most of his kit (and glasses) is long since gone, lost in the early days of the Fall with mail discarded for its weight and blunt swords embedded in zombie skulls. An aesthetic still lingers though, with a couple of bits of kit left, the overall appearance of which is further accentuated by his long suffering shield. Despite being battered and clawed over the years, and having a rivet replaced here/the leather edging re-stitched there, its still going strong.
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Wiggles
Super Mutant
Wiggles
Super Mutant
Joined: February 27th, 2013, 10:41 pm

March 16th, 2016, 6:22 pm #4

“Uh’ur oh” He mumbled through a mouthful of course bread. He swallowed and continued; “Pick whatever we find and let the hippies back at The Rock sort out the good ones? I don’t think it’ll matter, that deer was a good catch. But you know… every little helps.” He finished his bread and bit into a small hard apple knowing it to the core then eating that too, along with the seeds. It did little to satisfy the gnawing hunger that he suspected would never be satisfied again.

He understood Gryph’s reservations, could even understand if he was puzzled by the actions of a man who was usually so risk averse that he sometimes only took a shit if there was someone there to watch his back. But there was a difference between a stupid or unthinking risk and a calculated one; there was a difference between dying stupidly and dying well… not stupidly. That attitude was what was starting to rub between him and Fletcher.

He’d expounded on his models of zombie behaviour to anyone who would listen, but now was not the time for a symposium. Instead he threw the apple stem away and waited for their undead guests.

“Hey,” he said, as if reminded of something, “when we’re on the move again, there’s something I want to put to you.”

“Why not now?”

He glanced over his shoulder at Crunchy and Ralph. “I think we should keep this between ourselves.” Gryph raised his eyebrows but made no comment.

The zombies hit the low boundary wall at the far end of the field and began hauling themselves over it, stumbling as they hit the ground on the other side.

“Ok then? We doing this? We’re doing this.” He landed with a thump on the ground below. It wasn’t a hard landing, but it caused him to cough as he straightened up. He heard the little rattle in his lungs, the scary noise he hadn’t managed to shift in the two years since The Winter. He straightened, stretching, feeling the bones click in his lower back and his shirt lifted to reveal the belly of a man on a Western diet who had lost too much weight, too quickly.

He placed the stirrup under his foot and hauled on the cocking cords even as the others formed a fighting line behind him. Did he sense some nervousness. No. Just anticipation.

60 meters was extreme range, but he wanted the practice. The little girl dropped backwards. Her knee failed as she fell and her lower leg fell forward limply. 11.

The desiccated husk of the woman behind her stumbled forward after being hit. For a moment he thought that he’d failed to do enough damage, but it turned out to be just momentum as she lost her footing and sprawled forward, motionless. 10.

“They’ve bunched up at the rear,” said Gryph calmly.

“On it.” He took two swift steps left and lined up on one of the stragglers. Sometimes he thought Gryph got him. Other groups would have targeted the closest zombie at all times. What he had tried to convince people of was that, as a group, they needed to control the arrival rate of the undead. Dispatching a zombie was an easy, almost trivial task for a properly armed and prepared adult. Once you had to deal with more than two at once, things started to get dicey.

His bolt caught the side of the zombie’s head and pin-wheeled off into the long grass. “Bollocks!” he muttered. He could feel his heart rate begin to increase as he reloaded and the neglected vanguard of the undead column lumbered closer. This was the most dangerous point of the operation, when nerves failed and mistakes were made. He remembered seeing some amateur footage on YouTube at the beginning of the rising. The camerawoman was laughing; the man with the handgun and the southern US drawl was having a whale of a time gunning down the advancing corpses of his deceased neighbours. Then he fumbled a reload. By the time he had a new magazine in his gun, the zombies had closed the distance and he began to fire wildly. He’d had the ammunition and the space to fall back if he’d kept his nerve. He didn’t. The laughter became screams.

9.

He reloaded and fell back, level with the line and dropped the next leader. 8.

Four. He’d hoped for five, and the rear was still a little bunched.

“Have you guys got this if I keep shooting?” he asked, even as he went about re-cocking the crossbow.
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v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
Joined: July 24th, 2008, 6:54 pm

March 16th, 2016, 7:24 pm #5

''We've got this''
Gryph made the statement sound like an established fact. He stepped closer to Ben, ready to use his shield to cover his friend if he had to. It was heavy, but had saved both their lives over the years. 'The beast' was a solid weight in his hand. Comforting. Something in the whole situation took him back to Senlac Hill, with the Norman line slowly advancing and the anticipation building. Of course, when the normans 'killed' you, you would get back up and shake hands at the end of the battle.... Not this time.

Ben fired again, dropping another zed. They were getting properly close now - time to get to work. He stepped forward to meet the leader, a long dead fireman by his uniform. The zombie swung a claw like hand, which he took on his shield, using the momentum to open the zombies guard and lining up a clean blow to the zombies head with the beast. The heavy blade crashed into the skull just above the ear, droppijg the zombie like it had been pollaxed. He pulled 'the beast' clear with a grunt, briefly smiling as he heard Crunchy and Ralph put down another with their distinct 'double act'.

No time to look around - the last of the zombies had arrived in a gaggle...
Two came towards him at once. He shield slammed the first one, using the boss to shove the zed to the ground, before whipping the beast out to strike at the other. A bad angle, it clipped the zeds shoulder, but he followed up by using the shield as a glorified knuckle duster, smacking the rawhide covered wooden rim into the zeds face. It gave him enough time to step back a pace. Take stock. The zed he had knocked to the ground was pretty much upright again and although he had riped away most of its jaw the most recent one looked none the worse for it as it stumbled forward again. Again, he took the blow on the shield, before slicing down hard into the neck, dropping the zombie. Just as contestant 1 got close enough to swing for him.
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Wiggles
Super Mutant
Wiggles
Super Mutant
Joined: February 27th, 2013, 10:41 pm

March 16th, 2016, 11:01 pm #6

Ben clocked the zombie in under Gryphs guard, but the angle was too oblique, he’d risk shooting him in the back of the head if he moved suddenly or unpredictably. He had to trust the man to deal with it. Instead he dropped the furthest zombie as Ralph and Crunchy surged into and knocked down the last two on the right.

3.
2.
1.

It was up to Gryph now, even as he dropped the crossbow and started loosing the crowbar tucked through his belt.
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v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
Joined: July 24th, 2008, 6:54 pm

March 17th, 2016, 9:05 am #7

Gryph felt the zombies hands grasping his cloak, so he back handed with his shield, crashing it into the zombies body. This time he didn't have enough momentum to knock it over, instead pushing it back. He felt the cloak tighten and heard the fabric start to rip. The carried on turning into the shield swing, his hand sliding up the grip of 'the beast' until it was just under the blade. He stabed the zombie with quick sharp thrusts, up under the shield. It would have wrecked its internal organs, but this made little difference to the zombie. The 4th thrust hit home, with the heavy machete blade crashing through the zombies spinal cord. Its legs went limp, but the hands held onto his cloak as gravity took its toll and the zombie slumped to the ground. A quick blow from the beast severed an arm, before Gryph dropped his shield and swung the beast two handed, decapitating the zombie and sending the head rolling across the grass. He turned, just in time to see Crunchy put he claw hammer through the remaining zombie's temple, whilst Ralph used his pitch fork to hold it down.

Gryph exhaled, turning it into a low sigh. It had been a bit of a scrap, but nothing too bad. No really close calls. He glanced at the tear in his cloak - it'd need stitching later - before bending down to clean the worse of the zombie viscera of the beast's blade using the tattered remains of contestant no. 1's tee-shirt. In days gone by, he'd have called 'the beast' something meaningful. Poetic. Romantic even. Zombie bane. Abhorsen. Dragon's claw. Peace bringer. Instead Ben had walked past him whilst he had been working on the handle, making a glib mark about turning a perfectly good machete into a complete beast of a weapon. It had stuck...

"This lot don't look like they've got much worth scavenging... shall we just leave them and carry on?" The zeds had nearly all been first generation victims - folks that got sick and died on their sofas or in bed; or whilst tending to the infected. All rotten joggies and pyjamas, tattered jeans and ripped tee shirts. The earlier the generation, the slower and more run down the zombies became as the decay took its toll. Fresh zombies, the so-called "third generation", were almost as fast as a human. Faster in some cases. The only fresh zombies these days came from survivors, and atleast they had sometimes died with useful things in their pockets or bags.

1st gen - The most run down and dilapidated zombies. Typically the initially infected and care givers. Immediate family staying at home to look after the sick, nurses, doctors.. People out on the street when the dead burst through living room windows. Joe public.
Typically these zombies died in their every day clothes and don't have much worth looting - even their clothes and shoes are pretty ragged.
2nd gen - Emergency services, military responders and refugees seeking someplace safe from the dead.
These zombies are normally worth considering looting. They often were carrying weapons or bags filled with worldly possessions when they died. Some still do. These zombies are typically as fast as a human or only slightly slower. In some cases the virus manifests itself in mutations, although this is uncommon.
3rd gen - Fresh zombies, taken from long term survivors. Often faster than a human, they also have the most likely hood of having some sort of goods worth scavenging.
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Wiggles
Super Mutant
Wiggles
Super Mutant
Joined: February 27th, 2013, 10:41 pm

March 17th, 2016, 9:19 pm #8

He hesitated, hand on the bolt he had been about to reclaim from a skull. He had been going to ask the same thing. Back at the start of the rising, looting zombies often yielded small treasures. Batteries, pen knives, even snack bars for those with the stomach. Now the batteries were flat, the pen knives had fallen out through rotted and worn fabric and the snack bars… well…

He wrenched out the bolt and looked at the other three. None of them looked like they fancied working their hands into slimy and disintegrated pockets on the off chance of finding a half full plastic lighter.

“Yeah. They’ve got nothing.”

***

Ralph and Crunchy lead the little group towards the lookout, skirting the forest. Ben and Gryph took the deer, dressed and hanging from a pole between them. Once Ben thought that the other pair was out of earshot he spoke quietly.

“I want to go there,” he gestured with his head towards a town on a ridgeline on the horizon.

“Where? Kingscote?”

“Yes.”

“That’s got to be ten miles away.”

“Six.”

“What?”

“Six. I found a road map.”

“Fletcher won’t like it.”

“Look, I’m grateful for all he’s done for us, and for the most part I think he’s right. But you and me, we’re not idiots, we’ve had more experience surviving out there than almost anyone else at the rock. You know there’s nothing left in Stanhope. We’re critically short of a lot of stuff. And I’ve been watching that place for a while. On every patrol we’ve done. There’s no movement, no smoke, no nothing. That place is deserted and probably full of stuff we could use.”

“I think you just like locking horns with Fletcher.”

“That’s not… Look... Sod it. Whatever. Are you in?”

“You’ll never convince him to let you go.”

“So we don’t tell him. We get up tomorrow, we leave a note, by the time they find it, it’s too late to stop us and they don’t panic when they find we’re missing. We come back with our bags full of antibiotics, yeast and chocolate, we’re heroes and we’ve got a weekly scavenging trip guaranteed. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. And it brings us six miles closer to the collective.”

“You guys need a rest?” Ralph called. They had stopped walking.

“No. We’re good,” He called back. “So… Are you in?”
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v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
v_lazy_dragon
Wasteland Warlord
Joined: July 24th, 2008, 6:54 pm

March 31st, 2016, 7:42 am #9

Gryph shrugged
"Put it like that, yeah why not. This routine is getting to me a bit, so a bit of an adventure seems like a good plan. Do you reckon there is anything we particularly need to pack? I can't see much point taking all our worldly goods - we shouldn't be gone more than a day or two, tops" He switches the conversation as they get within ear shot of Ralph and Crunchy "... so what do you reckon they'll do the vension with? I know they tried that mint sauce gravey sort of thing last time, but it really didn't work for me."
Ralph chips in "Yeah. I know mint grows well and all, but I am getting fed up of mint everything. It used to be refreshing, but now it's just samey"

Gryph just grins "I guess it doesn't matter what they cook it with - it's better than nothing. And on that note, isn't you two's turn to carry the deer?" Ben and He pass it across to the others, stretch their shoulders and then start loping off ahead to form a vanguard, scanning likely places for zombies or marauders to be hiding.
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Wiggles
Super Mutant
Wiggles
Super Mutant
Joined: February 27th, 2013, 10:41 pm

April 6th, 2016, 5:23 pm #10

“We should be back by sundown if we don’t run into any trouble.” He scratched his nose. “I was thinking as close to ‘weapons and ammo’ as possible, just to keep the load down, but you’re right, I don’t want to get caught out there without something we might need. Just keep it to the essentials. Bit of food, water, something warm in case we get caught out.” The list of scenarios and the essential items they might need if they were caught in them lengthened in his mind. “You know. The essentials”

“There’s something else I wanted to ask you. I want to bring a third person.”

Because if something happens to one of us, two people stand a better chance working together than one person on their own.

“The first options Frazer. We’d have to convince him to come, but he should be able to swipe us a shotgun from the store.” He felt, rather than saw Gryph’s expression.

“You want a shotgun. And Frazer.” The question was implicit. You said this was safe, that this was easy, that this was within our abilities to handle. “Do you even like him?”

“I don’t dislike him…” This was the world now; tooling up to walk to a village on the horizon.

“I just want…” to not die because I didn’t bring a firearm. To not die stupidly. This wasn’t stupid right? This was a calculate risk. The working behind Fletchers back, the stealing – no, borrowing – of a shotgun from the community. This wasn’t a power play, wasn’t a dick waving competition, this was just the best way to get what they, the community, needed. Fletcher was a good leader, apart from this one blind spot. He didn’t want to undermine him. And yet. “I just want to cover all eventualities. In case you know…” There’s a sprinter, as unlikely as that was. Or another survivor who didn’t like the idea of company. Don’t die stupid.

“The other option’s Jinty.”

“OK?”

“No chance of a shotgun, but she’s solid and I know not being let out is driving her stir-fry. I think she’d bite my hand off if I asked her to come. What do you think?”
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