Doctor Varroxxian Posted October 11, 2011 Share Posted October 11, 2011 … Doctor Varroxxian ... … Z-Day ... Luke was a looser, and he knew it. A dropout who had probably wasted his chances, who had been disowned by his family for the debacle at college – and for the expulsion … or was it for the narrowly averted stint in prison for all that pot? Pre-med, brilliant … basketball centre, captain of the wrestling team … Harvard scholarship ... all flushed down the toilet. All for nothing, and no real school would have him darken their door ... ever. He would never ... ever ... be a doctor. So how did he end up here? Trying not to think any more about the 'this point in my low-life life' here and considering his surroundings Luke had no choice but to get another drink. It was a cruise in the Caribbean, and he was there with Samantha - a sex in the city sort of woman, more than twice his age. She wasn't bad looking, not great either - but she liked his physical gifts. She wanted it three times a day minimum and liked that her social circle saw him on her arm. He was up for it because it came with a nice place to crash, and perks like the cruise. In fact they had travelled the world in these last seventeen months. He tried not to think about the downsides, like how all of his clothes belonged to her except a few T-shirts and jeans. He wanted to forget about how one long six month party had blown his college fund and got him expelled - about how he knew his real gifts were wasted. He laughed, and smiled, and made sure his six pack showed through this open shirt as he sipped campaign at Samantha's side. He tried not to think how he hated this 'soiree'. Samantha had been under the weather, in fact the whole ship seemed to have come down with something - nasty flu maybe. He'd read about that happening, close quarters and all - cruise liner disaster. Still, people had come out for the night's festivities even though they dragged themselves around like they should be in bed. Then the screams came, the confusion ... Mrs. Hillweather just bit someone's ear off! For f**Ks sake what is going on?!? People look half dead! He was fine though, aside from being bitten by old man Jimson. His head was swimming with too much booze, and he was locked in an electrical service room, alone, no water. There were screams outside, fighting - thank God they had run those lines from these panels to the sound system in a half-assed way. Otherwise this door would have been locked, and the old people would ... have ... eaten him alive? It was hard to even think about, and his hand really hurt. The old fella had tried to take a bite out of him as he was pulling cables to get the door shut. Defensive wound though, not too bad. He really hoped that he wouldn't have to drink his own piss to survive this. He began to fall asleep on a pile of boxes with the world going to hell outside his door ... his watch read 1:06 AM. It had been seven hours in here, and he had to crap in a bucket, but at least the screaming and fighting outside had subsided. He began to fall asleep as he wept for the first time in years. To dream of floating in a cloud, like a nebula might look on the inside but warm. He was calm until he realized he wasn't breathing - he was drowning in some sort of smoke or vapour and his lungs tingled. The panic subsided as he drew a deep breath and realized that everything was just a bit numb, tingling inside and out. He was unusually lucid though, he could remember pi to fourteen digits. In fact, he was feeling better than he had in a long time. Unable to move relative to anything in this shimmering void - just floating, he began to notice strange and intricate patterns in the substance that surrounded him. He began to notice his own body was - different - made up of folds and strange shapes he could not name. Shapes he could not draw, but could somehow see mirrored in the void. It was as if he were in his own reality, and he could move relative to the patters of light, even shifting his perspective relative to his own body. "OK", he thought "I've taken something - Samantha has slipped me something and I am tripping or something. Tibetan sex powders or some shite". Clearly he had just started off with a bit of a bad trip, but this was some stuff she had found. Like that time in Osaka, or the stuff they almost got busted for in Cape Town ... oh man, there had been good times with this lady. This stuff was hitting him hard - harder than anything they tried in Amsterdam ... and that was a crazy week of resorts and white powder. Making the most of it, he imagined his arms as tentacles, he learned to swim in the void, and he reveled in deep thoughts ... all in what seemed like a timeless state, an eternity in some reality outside (underneath?) the regular world. He relived his life, or so it seemed - and he could recall so much. Every gong-fu movie fest, every class that he had half slept through, every insanely dull book that he had edited before quitting McGraw-Hill - an amazing wealth of self-knowledge and its context. It was as if he lived in his own reality, but he was utterly alone - a true master of his own form. He became exceedingly lonely. With great effort he could 'swim' or rather kind of slither, flow, shift ... through the nebula void. Once he even thought he saw someone else and he willed himself toward the other. It turned out to be some sort of refection, but also a part of him. As if he was a plant and had shot off a rhizome that grew into a copy ... and then was gone. That was a bit disturbing, but nothing like coming to the edge of the nebula and facing howling madness. The void had been familiar, more or less - sometimes more. In places, as he moved, he thought he could almost feel places he recognized but the stark void was chaos. He had never considered what chaos was, but it was terrible to behold, almost impossible to comprehend. Shapes that were painful, patterns that were not warm but suddenly hot. He had accidentally strayed into the chaos, and felt like he had stepped one foot off a thousand foot cliff. In reflex he retreated, recoiled from the horror and found himself in a cooler place. … Day 2 ... Not only was it cooler, but he felt different and he could see (feel? sense?) the electrical room. Then he was ‘back’. The emergency lights had run down to a dim red, barely enough to see by. It was warm, and the air was stale. The HVAC had gone out. Well at least he wasn't in a sealed space - just stuffy. He was hungry though, monster hangover hungry. He had to leave the safety of his hidey-hole ... so he undoogged the heavy watertight hatch and stepped out. The deck wasn't right ... the ship was about four degrees listing starboard and it was deathly quiet. Sunlight was streaming into the ballroom and the carnage was incredible. As he went to the buffet tables and overturned dim-sum carts he surveyed the gore. Folding the tablecloths into a Edo era Samurai style backpack he remembered from a movie in his high-school Japanese class he methodically gathered up everything that wasn't spattered with gore - passing on anything with a moisture content that might be more prone to some sort of bacterial contamination, everything from the bottom layers of the chafing dishes ... and some of the bottled drinks. He ate and drank like a starving man, so hungry that the sight of his fellow passengers mauled on the floor did not upset his stomach in the slightest. Making his way out onto the deck he saw that the ship had run aground on a small island, ten or twelve square miles by his estimate - and probably no real water because there was no settlement. The ship was firmly planted atop a reef in the shallow lagoon off what would have been a splendid beach in less f**ked up circumstances. This ship had sailed her last, even a typhoon couldn't unseat her from this. Suddenly he heard a shout "You! What are you doing! Run man run!" Looking around Luke saw the officer calling to him from the bridge deck, and then spotted the shambling horde that was approaching from the shuffleboard courts. They were a horrid semblance of life - not rotten but starting to bloat slightly like corpse in tropical heat. Here and there limbs hung at wrong angles, a steward had no jaw - ripped off. Some of them had been partially eaten ... it was like Night of the Living dead with a much better budget. Running like hell - but with some sort of (drug?) flashback to that dream ... he was somehow in is cabin. Poor Samantha, he though as he saw several sets of her shoes. He had tried not to look, not to think about her broken form in the once-grand ball room. He set down his backpack and just sat down on the bed. Then he - well the other him - rushed in through their room door and they faced each other. Then the screaming in horror came, which also subsided as the two ... hims ... realized that they were just as afraid of each other as, well it was confusing. So was the exploratory touching of hands - like coming up to a mirror to touch your own reflection but realizing its real. Even crazier was the re-absorption, and the flood of knowledge, of experience. As it turned out, the other him had been in a more direct meeting with the zombies (was he really thinking the word zombies?). Yeah, and the other him had changed into grizzly bear - the same grizzly bear that had scared the heck out of him when it wandered into his boy scout camp years ago. Sitting in his room, making notes on his Palm TX PDA about what he had seen and done. Hold crud - he could shape shift, and teleport! Somehow. Sh*t - there is a zombie outbreak. Zombie swarm? What to call it? Really do hope the world isn't over. After having gathered his thoughts and made notes, he moved to drop the PDA in its charge cradle ... realizing that there was no power. He then made his notes again, in Samantha's diary. Inventorying the room, securing the valuables and supplies under the bed in fairly well hidden cache he then trashed the room. If it looks like it has been picked clean, they won't look too hard. Carrying what he couldn't hide, looking like some sort of Samurai-Ronin-Mad-Max-reject-cross-dresser with his layers of light clothes and backpack with web gear made of fine ladies handbags and purses. At least he had brought two sturdy pairs of hiking boots, a couple pair of deck shoes and his favourite hat. He had the eco-gimmick metal water bottles from their visit to the spa. Good canteens. Sandra was a smoker too, so a couple of high fashion Zippos and fluid refills meant fire. One of the ship's fire axes worked too, can't count on these powers ... Making his way out into the hall, he left the door closed and got a laundry cart. from what seemed to be a dead housekeeper - kicking her to make sure she was dead-dead, not un-dead. It seemed that there had been some fires below decks, the air was fouled in places but he found his body adapting. Many of the dead-dead had suffocated ... seems like the watertight compartments had gone airtight somehow. They had smothered to death en mass. Someone else had been picking through the rooms - and here he was. Lost a zombie fight. From the dragging, irregular footprints in his blood it seemed that the walking dead had grouped up and left by the way he had come in. The fellow had a small propane torch on him, and aluminium tape with some tools (take them). This bastard had suffocated the sick hoping they wouldn't rise some other way. Hadn't worked out exactly that way. Below decks he found similar stories ... and some of the walking dead. In his first few encounters he just ran the other way - they were slower. Until he got cornered, then the bear came out again ... sure it was a bear made of metal ... not sure where that came from but whatever ... his blade like claws and metal skin made short work of the shamblers. From a quiet lookout aft, it seemed that the horde of dead was gathered around barricades to the upper decks - the bridge and adjacent officers’ quarters had become a hold out for some survivors.. The zombies seemed to sense they were there, and with slow thudding blows seemed to be trying to break through the barricade. The metal banquet tables had been welded in place - and still the dead tried to get to fresh meat on the other side. Suddenly there was a shout, and a glancing blow on Luke's shoulder ... Again, and in rapid succession ... plink plink, he was being shot! It was just deflecting from his metal skin. He called out, but a deep roar came out. Right ... I am a big stainless steel bear. He took cover, not exactly knowing how to change back right this moment as he'd been this way since he was cornered. He had placed it though, this was from a comic book his friend had written in his first year of college. He was a robot bear death machine ... from Robot Bear Death Machine Issue 1. OK, it had never made it to print - but that was what he was. The rest of the day was spent gathering supplies, tearing zombies apart, and relocating himself to a defensible holdout. Also dodging the terrified survivors, who were - quite rightly - terrified of him too. Sometime after the moon just passed its highest point he was done - his holdout was secure, and so were the immediate decks. He managed to change his hand enough to work tools, and had welded himself a safe room. Then, after an adrenaline filled day ... twenty hours of work, stress and fighting plus a belly comfortably full of the food that would go off by tomorrow ... he fell asleep again. Then came the dreams of the shining void. … Day 4 … Over what could have been hours, or days he slept. in the void he discovered the geometry of his essential form, the shape of reality that lay under what science or language can yet describe. He folded space, and folded matter - but he could only affect himself for he was all in that realm. The rest was just brilliant shadows of reality - some recognizable as his own reality, some utterly alien. In this space he gained knowledge of himself, he gained an understanding of science and medicine by studying himself and all the permutations of himself. He learned how to move, how to shift, how to shape, and he could even mirror himself. He woke knowing he could do these things in the physical world ... he wanted to consider it the real world, but what if the nebula was actually real? Dismissing those thoughts he again ate, and used the composting toilet he'd set up. Important thing that, not having to smell your own stink in a mostly enclosed space. Checking his watch, he had been sleeping for thirty hours. He felt so alone, and he had to go to the survivors. Carefully, still not in full control, he changed his shape to human. If anyone could see, he seemed to just blink - a clean film edit in reality. The FX people in Hollywood would probably end up adding flash, but even Luke didn't have an outside perspective ... for him it was a transformation in the radiant void. A mere moment later in this reality his body was strong like the steel bear, and tough like armour plates - but looking human. He made his way to the deck and climbed up a level. From here he could see a bit of the survivors stronghold, and he waved his white-linen flag. Hundred thread count sheets waving white in the wind ... he called out. "Hello! Hello! I am Ohh Kay! Not a Zombie!", waiting for a reply and getting none he added "Don't shoot! I am coming over!" With a few of the walking dead in his way he slashed and crushed his way to the stronghold - only to discover one of the barriers had given way. They had fought tooth and nail, but there were only two survivors - the Comms officer and a cook. Both of them bitten, both of them pale. They had fallen back to the bridge, and when Luke made it clear there were no more of the dead left they let him in. For the first time in days Luke wasn't alone, but it wouldn't last. He saw they were infected with whatever this agent was. They wouldn't last the night - so he shared their last few hours and then put them out of their misery. That was the hardest thing to cope with, he had to put them down like one would a wounded animal. At they end, they even reminded him of rabid dogs - a loyal, good animal that had to be put down. Then, once again, he was alone. .... 1 Month ... He hadn't found any people on the island. He had cleaned up most of the ship, given the dead proper burials - even said last rites. He wasn't Catholic, but it looked good in the movies he remembered. He had managed to catch some of the cached online news and web pages on various computers hooked to the satellite feed system. The news outlets hadn't offered much but the net held out long enough to confirm that his story had played out across the world. The world had died that day, about a month ago ... but their must be survivors He thought about preparing, he even stabilized the ship (it is amazing what a few super strong clones of him can do when they cooperate). He changed into a giant bird, something like he imagined a condor to be if it were carved in titanium like animated alloys. In this way he searched the surrounding islands, but he found hordes of walking dead. The rich and well to do didn't do all that well against the locals, or each other ... no survivors in a fifty mile radius. He was alone for now, but he had plenty to do. He could shift into anything but he needed practice with the forms ... some machines were actually way easier than living things, but he didn't know as much about 'hard' tech. He explored biology to extremes though, even testing the idea that his clones and him (or others) could exist symbiotically .... the clone changes into a sort of bio-suit - does all the work while he armours up and 'pilots' inside. Fortunately his clones come from him, and he's cool with idea - so they are too. He explored body modification, and replicating the amazing systems found in nature - like the vision of an eagle. Nature used available materials but he could use whatever he imagined. Birds with exotic alloy bones, hand like claws, and composite feathers were his experiment for a while ... and he became quite practised in making incredible flying forms with phenomenal long-range-wide-spectrum vision ... biology already did so much that he could compound with science ... and when he willed it, with what he understood only as 'magic'. It was very clear to him that his knowledge base only informed his use of power, and there was much more to be learned. … 2 Months ... Luke had become quite practiced at his new-found powers. His body and mind were changing too, accelerating. He no longer needed to eat as much - or at all, except that it offered him some human comfort. He had run into a lone zombie that had almost killed him, even in his bear form ... but once he optimized his physiology for the fight that zombie was toast. Damned thing even broke off one of his blade claws... When he shifted back that equated to a missing finger, which had regrown itself in four minutes. Nifty that, very handy - though it meant shifting to a regenerative form and that might not be viable in combat. Luke had even made it to an enclave in Jamaica - where he announced himself as Dr. Varroxxian. Also from his days of helping with the comic book - why not? Plus he was becoming sort of a Doc Savage type - all web gear and cargo pants. His knowledge of science and medicine had positively blossomed - his skills with computers and engineering remained mediocre, but his incredible intelligence managed to fill in the pieces. In this world gone to hell, maybe he could call himself a doctor despite the failings of his past. Doc Varrroxx made his visits to the enclave, and made a difference there - but there were none like him. There were no others there who had gained powers ... yet it was highly improbable he was alone. Not wanting to risk falling into the "chaos zones" of the "nebula realm" he had limited his teleportation to familiar places. If he really steeled himself, he discovered that he could go anywhere he had been ... even if only having been there for a moment ... but the trip to unfamiliar physical locations took him far too close to the chaos zones. This research would take him months, and unfortunately he could only access rudimentary equipment and supplies. Even those he eventually donated to the local enclave - stripping areas of the ship to set up a decent fortified clinic. … 4 Months ... Varro, as his friends had begun to call him - sounded Spanish so he sort of let his features settle more that way - made his rounds. He flew high, a silver bird surveying the land. He returned to his old home to find New York city a ruined wasteland. Hordes of undead and buildings ravaged by fire made for a land good only for salvaging the relics of civilization past. Boston, the same ... even as far north as he could easily teleport - the Alaskan Glacier where he and Samantha had camped on the adventure package last year ... all the same. In general, he didn't visit many enclaves in North America. Watching with his telescopic lens hawk eyes he had seen there was more violence than he was used to. Maybe it was the tougher conditions up here, not like you could just go eat a palm tree, scoop some fresh crab from the shore with a simple net, or open up a coconut as a fresh beverage. Some annoying little things he discovered along the way led him to much contemplation - it seemed his teeth and nails had become fixed somewhere between the steel bear form he first assumed and human. He had no trouble talking, eating, or with manipulation ... but he had these metallic bits. That and his eye color was sometimes off, the mole on his cheek came and went, and lost track of time since he rarely slept much anymore. But his teeth and ... claws ... were the most troubling aspect. Everything else was just habitual, or from sloppy shape shifting. They teeth we're anything he could identify either, not magnetic in any way, only mildly conductive, and fairly strong (though not exceptionally so if he didn't use his juice to shift them to weapons, etc.). He learned to hide them - wearing gloves and not speaking with this mouth very wide. The nails *must* be associated somehow with his blade claws, some sort of essential part of his transformation ... but a part he could no longer bring back to 'human' norm. He learned to stabilize them, able to effect them in a partial change ... just as he had learned to summon massive strength by affecting a partial change. Yet he could not restore them ... it seemed there was some things that one could not go back on. The worst thing was that normal people sensed he was somehow different. Just a little bit, but enough to throw them off. Somehow, he felt disconnected from them ... even though they listen and even obey when he tells them too. Still it was different with his team, in school. He related to the guys back then, he was one of them ... but now there was a divide. His teeth, his claws, his change of perspective ... the inability to relate to the people at the enclave. Varro contemplated, even discussed with himself, a big question: What am I? ... 5 Months ... Gathering supplies for the enclave was fairly easy work. Varro had mastered a few handy forms that made raids against normal targets not a problem. He could manage four clones, and that sort of team had facilitated a great set-up on the island too. He had also learned to be cautious with para-humans. One notable case was a man by the name of Harris - Emperor Harris. He had gone a bit off his rocker, but he was like a drug. It had taken all the mental reserves Varro had not to go back to the fellow after he absorbed the memories of the clone scout who visited the madman. Fortunately the Emperor was insanely focused on his tiny island kingdom - convinced it was the last refuge for humanity. He also had a passive aggressive way of dealing with other para-humans ... namely pitting them against each other. They didn't seem to last too long, and his scout clone was sure he had already been slated for the gladiatorial arena by the time that him managed to teleport away. Varro shuddered at how strong the influence of even the second hand, absorbed memories were. This sort of power could mandate the irrational. Hyper-social abilities worried him, but there was little he could do except establish a policy of isolating himself from direct contact. Then he would question the scout clone extensively, have that other him write reports (according to a coded format) along the way - and not absorb the memories directly. He had begun to notice his own hyper-social capacity emerging. Was this something he had to have ethical worries about? Physical power was one thing, but social power ... was it too much for an individual to handle? … 7 Months ... Though Varro had been thinking about the cause of it all, he had been more concerned with the state of it. He had helped the Blue Valley enclave in Jamaica, but had declined any sort of leadership role. He just felt unable to really relate to these people, and the tensions really built when he broke the news that they were all infertile. He had noted the total lack of pregnancy despite lots of unprotected sex. Some still don't believe him, some blame him in an unconscious way, but he doesn't show his face there too much anymore. "Perhaps", he thought, "I am not a great community builder. Maybe I need to find one that suits people like me." Certainly he had met 'supers' like him. Some of them had even been OK, but they had all been little kings of their own castles. The ones who looked like they could take him he stayed away from, and he used clones whenever he could. A few times, they didn't come back - most of the time his giant metalic spider form clones, or a pack of stainless steel bears, won the day. Fortunately, there were few super combats all in all, since he tried not to fight, and even harder not to kill. Along the way he found a woman, about his age - smart as a whip and cute. Sterile like all the others so far, but she appealed to him. He was determined to afford her some safety - even luxury - in this world. He still felt distant from her, different - but he also felt love. At least something more than just physical, erotic love. She'd survived alone and so had he. She had become a scientist, and become stranded at a research station studying the flora of tiny island for cancer drugs. Varro ... he didn't even think of himself as Luke any longer ... planned to strike out from his shipboard haven. With all the easy salvage gone from the vessel it was of no real value except as a huge empty castle. He had sealed off the top castle and the small upper rec deck so that zombies (if they swam?) couldn't get in - heavy steel bulkheads double deep, no vents, no lines to the rest of the ship, no small accessible spaces for things to hide in (who knew if rats were carriers of a potential virus?) - and lots of natural light when the steel shutters weren't in place. There was enough water from rain catchment (a use for the upper swimming pool) and enough chemicals to purify years’ worth - and more than enough food stores for Weiwei to spend her time here studying. The supplies were even cached in a panic room in case someone got any ideas, but there was no one else for fifty miles. Really, the place was just for Weiwei, maybe-visitors and a little relaxation. Sometimes he just like to sit in a wing-back leather chair or sleep in a well-appointed cabin. "There will be time for that later" he said to WeiWei, "assembling a better library like we've talked of would be a great thing. Maybe using botanical and glassware level lab gear to explore some bioengineering research. First, I’ll find a place that's actually a home for us ... a community." ... They spent the last night before his trip excitedly talking about the lab she wanted to set up, strategies for scavenging remote scientific sites, and finding like minds - finding scientists out there. To himself, Varro thought about how much the powers he'd seen so far - even his own - were more like magic. He could create mass - so much energy in that mass that it would dwarf the worlds nuclear arsenal going off in one go for some of the shifts he had pulled off. He could survive without any apparent intake to supply his metabolism - even oxygen seemed moot as he had tested himself by taking extended strolls in red tide waters - with little or no dissolved oxygen there is no way he needed anything like respiration. Plus there was the teleportation, which was a direct effect of the nebula realm. He has regularly been violating the laws of physics. Even with his new-found enlightenment, an inhuman level of intelligence, he still had only the faintest idea of how to even investigate any of it. Clearly, Weiwei had sensed that he yearned to know more about himself. More than once, she had been present when some new feature of his ever evolving form became apparent. It wasn't the physical things that took him by surprise these days - it was the things that science couldn't explain. Like how we was able to sense the universe without senses ... Breakfast the next day was a happy farewell - she cooked up the last of the birds eggs along with the bao she'd made from palm flour. ... When his various selves returned from their first week of searching he found the haven empty. Tracking what might have become of Weiwei he eventually found her. On a routine trip to the coconut palms of the island for resupply she had been bitten by spiders. He hadn't been there but the venom has ravaged her - the pain must have been excruciating. Still, she had written him a farewell. For the first time in months, maybe since Z-day he had shed tears. Alone, without the help of a community she had died there in the jungle. She had died a senseless, painful death. He felt the loss, deeply - even though they had only been friends and lovers for less than six weeks. He buried her with the others, and while saying a solemn prayer ... decided to leave the place. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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