Colonel Grigorij Ivanovitj, head of a secret Soviet military research facility, makes a phone call over a secure line. The call is very brief, consisting of only three words: "Project Potemkin successful".
A column of 12 unmarked APCs arrive at the research facility. Troops in black uniforms disembark and quickly round up the entire staff, detaining them in the largest building. A number of large metal canisters are carried from the main lab and stored in the awaiting troop transports.
Seismologic and thermal readings consistent with a tactical thermonuclear explosion are recorded by a US satellite in geostational orbit.
The readings from the satellite are evaluated. It has long since been determined that the facility was likely to be used for biologic weapons research. The concluding theory is that a likely contamination triggered the "sterilization" of the facility. The report is classified at the highest level.
Two black vans arrive at a forest road, where a group of men are waiting. A suitcase changes hands and one of the black vans drive off. A few minutes later, the second van leaves in the other direction under escort.
In the kitchen of the hotel, favoured by western reporters, a member of the staff produces a small vial and discretely pours a few drops of liquid in a half-full bottle of ketchup. At the end of the day, the man and his entire family disappears and none of them are ever heard from again.
Most of the passengers on the plane were reporters that were catching connecting flights. A few of them were displaying symptoms of a mild cold and most of them sneezed several times over the next few hours.
A disease with flu-like symptoms has spread rapidly across the globe. Simulations mapping the spread of the disease has shown that global air traffic has been a major factor in the rapid spreading. The first deaths are reported. More follow.
Several people pronounced dead from the strange disease suddenly become reanimated, mindlessly attacking any living person nearby. People injured in the attacks rapidly display signs of disease and die within a few hours.
Martial Law is declared in most countries of the world, following the almost complete breakdown of society. Major urban areas have been hit the hardest, with very few remaining survivors. Most of those who were not killed by the infected are sick or dying from lack of clean water, resulting from the lack of electricity. Some rural and isolated areas remain unaffected and local militias have been formed to prevent any outsiders entering. Looters are shot or hanged on the spot.
The population in most industrialized countries has been reduced by over 90%. Several cases have been noted where apparently uninfected people have died and become reanimated. Several more or less scientifically based theories claim that most of the population is already infected with the virus, that for some reason appear to remain dormant until a person either dies or is subjected to a different strain.
The world as it was known has come to an end. Very few humans remain alive and struggle to survive. Resources are scarce and people are robbing and killing eachother over scraps. A pack of cigarettes, a few bullets or a can of beans is worth killing for.
Most people of the Earth were caught completely unprepared by the sudden events of what came to be known as "The Outbreak". This guy was not. Some people would even say that he was so prepared for the Apocalypse that he was actually happy when it finally happened.
Armed with a military grade precision sniper rifle and the eyes of an unrivalled marksman, Prepper Jack could probably hit a fly on a wall from a mile away. However, most flies these days are not on walls and should he miss the occasional flying bug, chances are that his shot will still have the desired effect on the undead thing it was sitting on.Prepper Jack
Trailer Jane was working late on the day of The Outbreak. When the hordes reached the diner, the young waitress was the only survivor, thanks to the Colt 1911 - a present from her father on her 9:th birthday - that she never left out of reach even before the end of the world. What really ticked her off was when one of the undead managed to mess up her hair on the same day as she had been to the salon. The killing spree that followed is said to have made even the undead sick to their stomach and chances are that some of the corpses she left behind in the diner wasn't really dead to begin with. But don't even hint about that to Jane if you know what's good for you.
Anyway, since the trailer park that had been Jane's home since birth was completely overrun by the hordes, Jane has made it her mission in life to kill again what is already dead.Trailer Jane
When the hordes descended on Dirtmine, Arizona, Deputy Klaus was busy, escorting an undesired bum out of town and "mildly persuading" him never to return. As Klaus came back to the sheriff's office, no one appeared to be left alive. A few minutes later, Klaus had made sure that no one was left moving as well. Some people say that there actually was a survivor, a local man that spent every other night in lockup due to a habit involving drinking, fighting and... well mainly drinking and fighting. Since Klaus was a firm believer in the value of teaching lessons, it is not unlikely that if so, Klaus may have just left him in his cell awaiting the sheriff's order to release the prisoner, as regulations stated. At least if there was nothing in the regulations about making exceptions in case the sheriff was no longer able to issue such an order due to being busy prowling the streets with an urge to devour human flesh.Deputy Klaus
A tech student who really didn't bother to hang out with anyone else, Jin spent most of his time prior to The Outbreak studying or practicing with the ancient sword replica he purchased on eBuy. Most people around him thought him fairly strange, and the word "creepy" was more often than not used by people describing him to others. As The Outbreak came, Jin was convinced that it was caused by something in the air, perhaps something to do with chemtrails. Although there's been no proof of such a connection since, Jin retains his conviction about the state of the matter and prefers to keep his gas mask on at all times. Well, he actually takes it off from time to time for eating and drinking, but generally tries to hold his breath as best as possible during those rare occasions.
So far, he's turned down all opportunities to switch out his sword for a ranged weapon and seems to prefer going all out berserk when confronted with the undead.Samu Jin
No one really knows muck about what Shotgun Joe did before The Outbreak, but he seems to regard the undead as mostly a nuisance that has to be put down with much the same focus as a buzzing mosquito has to be waved away. A sawed off shotgun is his weapon of choice, some say because he cannot be bothered to have to aim to hit his target. Having to raise his weapon to aim would probably piss him off quite badly. In fact, Joe is pissed off by a lot of things but mostly by people, especially the kind that bother him with talking.
The jury's out on whether Joe actually likes living, talking people or undead the least. But at least he can kill the undead kind without anyone complaining, which seems to suit him just fine.Shotgun Joe
Growing up Mechanic Mike was not the brightest kid in town. In fact, he was probably just about the opposite. By the age of 12, he had just learned the basics of reading and to be honest he didn't really get any further than that. He never spoke much and he easily got confused when people talked fast or used difficult words. You might expect a kid like that to get bullied badly by the other kids, and it might have happened to Mike as well, had it not been for one reason: He was simply huge. A head above other kids his age and about twice as wide. Most of all he reminded you of a bull, both physically and intellectually. No kid would run the risk of provoking him, even though he really never got into a fight or hit someone.
Living alone with his widowed mother, he preferred to spend his time in the garage, playing with his late father's tools and old car. Mike failed miserably at school and didn't appear to be able to learn anything at all above the level of a 6-year-old. Except for one thing. He had an amazing understanding of engines and mechanics, far beyond what anyone could expect of a professional mechanic or engineer. As his mother was one of the first victims on The Outbreak, Mike ran from town. An almost unbelievably peaceful person, he couldn't bring himself to use force even against the undead hordes, not even to save his own life.
Lucky for him, he came across a group of individuals with more than plenty of potential for violence, but in desperate need of a mechanic.Mechanic Mike
The "Mortuus Vivens" virus consists of a single base strain, that mutates rapidly after becoming activated. The base form of the virus causes mild cold-like symptoms with some of the infected within a week after infection, while others don't display any symptoms at all. If the infected person do display symptoms, they will be worsening over the next 10 days, to what resembles those of a major flu. The virus then invariably kills the host in another 4-6 days. The death of the host triggers the virus to become fully actvated and it starts to mutate rapidly.
In those hosts who do not display any symptoms, the virus will remain dormant until the death of the host, which triggers it to activate.
The base strain of the virus is highly contageous from within an hour of infection, spreading by body fluids and droplets in much the same way as a regular cold. After the virus has been activated, it immediately becomes less contagous, spreading only through direct exchange of body fluids.
If a host carrying the base strain of the virus is subjected to an activated strain, it causes the base strain to activate almost instantly.
A living person subjected to an activated strain of the virus will undergo what has become known as "The Change". Over the course of a few hours in case of the previously uninfected or a few minutes in the case of those carrying the dormant base strain, the host will see a rapid shutdown of brain and body functions to a bare minimum. What remains is just a few very base instincts, similar to those of a very simple creature, like a worm or an insect. What seems to be the only senses remaining are an insatiable hunger for uninfected flesh and a high sensitivity for the sounds and smell of uninfected people. During "The Change", the infected person will gradually become less sentient and increasingly aggressive.
In a host where the virus activates at the moment of death "The Change" will take longer, due to the fact that the virus has to spread without the aid of a moving blood stream. Such a host will seemingingly remain dead until the moment the virus triggers reactivation of the base brain functions. The host then appears to awaken, in a fully changed state.
Without the support of a heart or lungs, the affected cells of a changed host's body can survive by cannibalising the surrounding tissue, but mainly does so by consuming any bacteria or foreign biomaterial found in the host body. Unaffected cells will degrade over time until consumed or completely dried out, while serving as nourishment for the bacteria that the affected working cells will eventually devour.
Although a changed host need only a bare minimum of brain activity to function, it cannot function without it completely. If the brain tissue is sufficiently damaged, reanimation will not be possible. Removing the head from a changed host will thus prevent the rest of the body from reanimating, but in order to completely "kill" the host, the actual brain - more specifically the Cerebellum and brainstem - has to be subjected to severe trauma.
Fatal Hour: Petroleum is the first chapter in the story about a group of survivors, struggling to remain alive and find a safe haven in the chaotic aftermath of the Zombie Apocalypse known as The Outbreak.
In the first chapter, we find the group at an abandoned gas station in the middle of nowhere, as the bus they've used for transportation breaks down. The group's mechanic, Mike, is working on repairing the vehicle when the undead, aletred