Fungal Zombie

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Your mind will be destroyed

This article (Fungal Zombie), or a section of this article, deals with mature content or language.

Though nothing one couldn't find on the internet anyways, we felt it necessary to warn you.


Fungal Zombie
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FungalZombieConcept.png
Information
Faction CombineLogo.png Technocratic Combine
Designation Melee Infantry
Cost N/A
Construction Time N/A
Unit Type Infantry
Produced at Protocol
Ability Bloom (Sacrifices self, rapidly boosts nearby Fungal Zombie speed and attack)
Heroic Upgrade N/A
Dev. Status Conceptual


Country of Origin  Amazon Rainforest
Trained at  Corpses
Key Features » Unes Fungi infection
» Deceased carrier host
» Unes spore 'buds'
» Ability to detect living organisms
» Desire to propagate


Tactical Analysis

  • The dead shall walk: Fungal Zombies are dead bodies, but nonetheless they're also up and about walking about. Near-mindless organisms driven to spread, they'll attack anyone and everyone not wearing sufficient fungicidal protection. To make matters worse, soldiers killed by their hands will soon rise to join them in undeath.
  • Nightmares from the crypt: Though not the most proficient of fighters, Fungal Zombies make up for it by simply being freaking terrifying - they can shrug off wounds that would kill living beings, drive men into panic and destroy their morale, or even destroy themselves to boost the speed and damage of other Zombies (and thus their chances of survival). Due to this, they are often the first targets fired upon by enemies when spotted, and will draw fire away from other units.
  • Kill it with fire: Fortunately, on the battlefield there is a dearth of options for taking on these abominations. Slow moving and dealing low damage, they can be engaged from range freely with rifles and other weapons, and their lack of intelligence makes them more vulnerable to normally anti-material devices. Flamethrowers work wonders too.
  • No brains here: Controlled by the Unes Fungus, a species not noted for the ability to make extremely intelligent or even sapient tactics, Fungal Zombies are unable to benefit from battlefield experience and never gain veterancy.

Background

"When there's no more room left in hell, the dead will walk the earth."

- Hollywood writer George A. Romero in his documentary, Night of the Living Dead.

Juan ran.

His boots smashed against the tiled hallway floor, arms punching the air as if his body was attempting to fight and run at the same time, a stick of dynamite swinging back and forth at his side as he ran. His backpack was lost somewhere in this hellhole of a laboratory base, unbuckled and thrown off to give him more speed as he ran, ran to get away from the things chasing him.

The hallway blazed bright with fluorescent lighting, a mockery of the situation he was in – running for your life from ungodly horror should be done in darkness, a thought in the back of his mind said, not in the grotesque normality and safety of the light. But still he ran, lost in the complex of halls and paths that trapped him inside...and those that hunted him. Behind him, some ways away but still keeping pace, he could hear the labored breathing of Queca as she too ran to get away...get out.

It wasn't supposed to be a big mission

It was supposed to be a simple mission. There had been six of them, flown in from Santa Cruz to the remote jungles of the Amazon – Juan and Sam as the soldiers, Queca the interrogator, Alicia the saboteur, Carlos the escopetero, and Pulgas the riot dog, each one of them an expert in their chosen trade. The People's Unit had some contacts in the area, and they had reported one of those damned Technocrat labs nearby, working on something. They were supposed to steal it or destroy it...depending on how much the Technocrats were fucking with the natural order this time.

It was supposed to be easy – it was, at first. They impersonated a Bluejay supply drop-off, came in, disguised themselves as menial servants, and infiltrated the compound easily enough. The scientists and workers there hadn't paid them any mind, and they had hidden their weapons well. Carlos took point in the jungle to cover their escape, Pulgas trotted ahead to sniff out anything interesting, and Juan and Queca provided protection for Alicia to slip in. It had all gone perfectly.

They had gotten past the initial defenses, passed throughout the facility as best they could...and finally, had made it to the very center of the facility. It was obvious, from the RESTRICTED signs, where the secret project of the Technocrats was being studied. Alicia was absolutely brilliant, quietly ducking under the signs and preparing to investigate the secretive project within. She had been able to get in, and quickly found what the scientists within were studying – it was just some kind of fungus, that's all it appeared to be. Some damn green fungus with little white stalks. Some fungus that was going to be the death of everyone.

Of course she had just broken it on the ground, shattering the vials carefully kept locked up, away from the corpses nearby. What harm could it do? Of course when the resultant quarantine alert sounded, she broke it to get out – what true reason would the Technocrats have to put in such a quarantine besides paranoia?

It wasn't supposed to be a big mission

And then people started dying...and coming back.

That fucking fungus! It was everywhere – it was in the air, in the vents, in the bodies that were even now lurching after Juan and Queca, attempting to drag them down, attempting to...propagate. No, no, it wasn't fungus – it was fucking insanity incarnate! It was in the corpses...it was controlling the corpses! It was...it was...Juan wasn't a praying man, but if he was he'd pray with all his heart that this was just a nightmare he hadn't managed to wake up from yet.

Juan and Queca had been separated from Alicia for some time, the young teen having run the other way down an intersection after a former scientist burst out of a side-door, bulging in an unnatural way with the fungoid infection, and attempted to tear her head off. Pulgas had fought bravely even while clearly terrified out of his mind, but even the brave dog went down eventually to the infected corpse of a former soldier. And Sam....oh god, Sam...

Sam had been right behind them, and he seemed fine, he was okay...and then one of those..those..those things reared up, and just exploded. And then the other five walking corpses started to actually run, and...They could still hear Sam's screams ringing in their heads, even two minutes after the sounds had been replaced by the ever-present rustling of fungus spreading throughout the facility.

Juan could still hear occasional bursts of gunfire, any surviving guards or scientists attempting to presumably hold back the walking corpses that seemed to be everywhere in the facility. Damn these technocrats for keeping all their corpses unburied! The vents had spread the fungus everywhere...

Eventually, they reached an unlocked door, empty of living or dead. As Queca reached him at least, Juan pulled her in, the Soldadera too tired and harried to even snap back at the brusque touch. The door was hurriedly locked..and then the two collapsed to the ground.

“This is fucking insane, Juan. What are those goddamn idiots trying to do? What the hell are those things?”

“I...don't...know, Queca. Best as I can tell...that fungus...it's in the corpses. It's just causing them to kill everyone...and..I don't know, spread itself? I don't know, I don't want to know!”

The two sat, simply breathing, until a high-pitched scream filled the air. A...familiar scream. Queca jolted up.

“Shit, shit, shit! That's Alicia, oh shit, she's still alive, damn damn damn...We have to get try and get her out, Juan! She's just a kid!”

Juan shook his head. “We can't, Queca. Those...those dead things out there...they're everywhere. It'll be too late even if we found her...”

Queca spit, and stood up. “I don't goddamn care! We got to save her if we can, and if you won't I will!” Getting to her feet, and gripping her pistol tightly, she strode to the door. “Stay here if you must, but I'm going to go get her.”

It wasn't supposed to be a big mission

Twenty minutes had passed...Queca was gone. The gunfire that had issued sporadically throughout the facility had died down, and the screams of those trapped and unable to escape had gone down...whether those that had made them had escaped or been hunted down by the walking dead. Juan was alone.

How long he sat, in the dark room that had once been a teaching lab, gripping his machete tightly to him, he couldn't tell. But after a time, he could hear a noise...not a steady noise, but a single one that was repeating itself, over and over.

Thump......thump......thump......

And then he saw the source of the noise...against the door. A man...no, no, the corpse of a man against the doorway, skin green and distorted with tendrils of fungus that burst out of it, face bloody and mouth hanging open. The tongue was discolored, and starting to sprout white furred spores, and the..the corpse was steadily, steadily banging its head against the door.

Juan looked around for an escape route, and found none. He was trapped...trapped in this room, and with his only means of getting out filled with at least one corpse. He didn't even have a way to contact Carlos, to tell whether he was alive or not...whether the facility was contained by the Technocrats, or whether the fungus infection had spread further.

He was trapped, and he was going to die.

The thought terrified him, but it also calmed him somewhat. So he was going to die at the hands of Technocrat corpses. So his companions were dead. So the mission was technically a bust. If he was going to die, he was going to give as good as he got.

As the corpse continued to thump against the door of the lab, as the sound grew louder and louder, Juan prepared the crazy maneuver taught to him back in Puerto Rico. As the noise grew in intensity, as more corpses began to bang against the wall, seeking out the only nearby source of new, warm flesh to propagate into, Juan quietly murmured a prayer to whatever gods might be listening. As the glazed, dead eyes of the fungal infected focused on the room beyond, Juan prepared to unlock the door and swing it open.

And as Juan opened the door with a bang, revealing the hallway of corpses – their skin mottled and rotted, tendrils and vines of the fungal infection covering and filling them, their hands and mouths reaching forward to spread their gift of undeath to Juan, their numbers including the shambling corpses of scientists, soldiers, civilians, Juan's former companions, and even the rasping, undead corpse of Pulgas – he threw the Machete to the multitude.

The hallway was a gory disaster by the time the first of the undead reached him.

It wasn't supposed to be a big mission...

Outside, the jungle was alive.

Vengeances patrolled the skies above the doomed facility, focusing on all major areas with spotlights ever since the broadcast of lockdown and quaratine, looking for any survivors. Soldiers and turret gunners focused on the facility from afar, keeping watch in case one of the Unes infections happened to find a way out. Those civilians who managed to escape the facility were huddled near the infection cleaners, keeping to themselves as they watched the doomed laboratory, hoping they would see friends or family coming out. There were no soldiers or guards amongst the escapees - they had tryed to get as many surviving civilians out as possible, and they would pay for it with their lives.

And, acting as leader of the Combine troops stationed in the area, Manager Redfield listened as his aide relayed the news of the facility's quarantine and...outbreak.

"Manager, we believe we have isolated the cause. A count and checkup of all incoming and outgoing traffic to the lab have revealed one of the supply drops - Bluejay J4b - was waylaid earlier, but we have a report of that same Bluejay arriving here...three hours earlier."

Redfield turned in the saddle of his warhorse to face the aide. "Guerrillas, Cultists?"

The aide nodded. "The waylaid Bluejay fits perfectly within the trajectory of the first of the three MIR encampments within the nearby area. It would make sense for them to corner one flying alone, substitute their own, then try to break in...other than capturing the Bluejay and shooting the driver who was trying to shoot back at us, however...all personnel who've escaped are registered in the records."

The Manager nodded in response. "I see. Very well then..."

He turned towards the north. Far out, he imagined, he could see the encampment of Guerrilleros that had set up base in the nearby area, the largest of three that had arrived in the last month. No doubt they would be very surprised to learn that, for all their Camo netting and camouflage, they were under surveillance...had been, ever since they had shown up. Very surprised indeed...

He looked to the aide, and then reached into his breast pocket. Pulling out six small vials, one by one, he pressed them into his aide's hand. Six vials, each of them containing a dormant sample of a particularly virulent fungal species - the Unes Fungus.

"Two vials for every MIR encampment. I want them spread over all of them - by nightfall. Target their hospitals and wounded first - then start bringing in the cleanup Automata."

The aide nodded, and made to move off. But, before he could fully move out of range, there came one more order. "And one more thing..." The aide turned back, to see Manager Redfield staring at the quarantined facility.

"Don't leave a single one of them alive."

Behind the Scenes

The Unes Fungus is based on the Cordyceps genus of fungi, in particular species that can modify their host's behavior through affecting the brain. Unlike them, however, the Unes spreads and controls dead bodies instead of living hosts.


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