Friday, 25 October 2013

The Hunter's Guide to Monsters - Chapter Three

We fear evil, we fear monsters & we fear death. For all three of these, you need look no further than those who have died and been resurrected as undead. Today, we'll be taking a closer look at our monster of the evening, the 'ZOMBIE':

Zombie /'zombee/ n. 1. Occult A dead body brought to life by a supernatural force. 2. A person thought to be like the walking dead, in having no independent judgement, intelligence, etcetera. Also, zombi.


3. Zombies
  by Hunter Jeremiah

The most disrespectful beast I have ever faced would have to be the zombie. In the business of hunting monsters, I have lost many of my friends. Friends, family & fellow hunters have and will continue to die in this business. So for anyone to disgrace the remains of these fallen soldiers by bringing unnatural life back into their corpse is nothing short of sinful.
It is nearly impossible to disguise a zombie. Their bodies will be rotting, their faces blank, their hair falling out, their movements stressed or mechanical and they are often covered in blood, detritus, ritual scarification, grime or bugs. Then, of course, the smell of decaying flesh is inescapable. Depending on the age of the zombie, their smell can be noticeable as far as 50 feet away.
These creatures are abhorrent in every way, and as such they are to be killed on sight. In fact, even non-Hunters are recommended to dispose of these creatures if they are willing and able.
Just remember, that if you see the face and the soul decayed of beloved friends to rest been laid, with last respects already paid - you can't doubt yourself for a second; there is no life, love or soul in these creatures, only death.

The most important thing you need to know about zombies is that they are not all the same. The methods of propagating zombies vary widely and they are often difficult rituals to perform; as such, it is very easy to get the processes wrong and create something even worse than a reanimated corpse. Also, due to their decomposition, many zombies will develop differently with different disabilities over time. You cannot react to all zombies the same and expect the same result.
Contrary to popular belief, not all zombies can change their victims into a zombie. This kind of zombie is the result of a poorly performed reanimation. However, because the accident that creates infectious zombies is a common one, it is safe to assume that all zombies have the potential to create more zombies. The same can be said of the ravenous brain-eating zombie and the stumbling, shuffling zombies; they are either mutations of the zombie curse, or zombies that have decomposed beyond control.
Truth be told, when the rituals and hocus pocus are performed correctly, a zombie is not a mindless monster. Zombies are nothing more than tools created to serve as a proxy, servant or soldier for their creator (or even, in rare instances, a pet). The creator of a zombie can be almost anything - a sorcerer, a sage or even the simplest student of the occult - but for the sake of simplicity, Hunters always refer to them as Necromancers. When a necromancer creates a zombie, they usually have some form of control over it. This may be in the form of a mental or spiritual link; an artefact such as a poppet (also known as a voodoo doll) or charm; a grimoire, a book of magic or even some kind of spoken cue like a trigger word.
In this way the actions of the zombie will be controlled by a necromancer, and they will do anything commanded of them, within the capabilities of that particular zombie. In general, a zombie can walk, stand up straight, grab things & use simple tools as directed. In exceptionally crafted zombies, they can achieve running, talking, writing & even remote casting.

The best way to think of zombies is like dogs. Zombies do as their necromancer commands them, but like a loyal dog as much as they do as they're told, they do have a simple mind of their own. Those that have attempted to study Zombie Psychology have all been killed, but we do know this of their mentality:
- Zombies Like Moving. They prefer to walk around, even if it means walking in circles. They especially like to wander around, and if they can't do this (and have working vocal chords) they will groan. The only time they stand still is if something else is keeping them occupied.
- Zombies Like Zombies. When a zombie comes across another zombie, they will either start walking with each other or walk circles around one another. Sometimes they will groan together. However, if one zombie bites another or in some way hurts them or makes them fall over, they will attack one another.
Zombies Like Biting. They will bite anything they can put in their mouth, including their own fingers. For this reason, many necromancers sew their zombie's lips shut as a precaution; especially if a zombie is of the infectious kind.
- Zombies Hate People. When a zombie comes across a human, it will react aggressively, either shoving them or hitting them. In extreme cases they may lunge at them, bite them or bludgeon them. Some theorize this is because they are in pain and are defensive, some believe they are territorial & some believe that they remember being alive and are "jealous" of the living. But as a Hunter, all that matters is that they attack us, so we must remain vigilant.

If a necromancer ever loses control of their zombie, then it will act on these instincts naturally. In smaller numbers, they are relatively harmless; however, the risk of infection - or discovery by those kept ignorant by the Silence - is too great a threat to be left unchecked.
Of course, once a zombie has been dealt with, there is still the problem of the necromancer themselves. In most instances, this is out of our hands. It is to be dealt with by local wards or casting authorities. Unless the necromancer is identified as a Demon, TrollWitch, or some other powerful, supernatural monster referred to in this guide; in which case, you should deal with them via the methods outlined within the relevant chapter.

Protection
To stay safe in the presence of a zombie, there are a selection of guidelines that one should keep in their mind at all times:
  • Stay in Control - Zombies under a necromancer's direct control are incredibly dangerous. If a zombie is moving deliberately & cleverly; evacuate, do not engage.
  • Know your Foe - All zombies are uniquely decayed & created, so observe yours closely and take note of its abilities, behaviour and vulnerabilities.
  • Destroy the Head - Destroying the brain almost always works. Yet even if this fails, a headless zombie is quite impotent; but as a precaution - Keep your Distance.
  • No Rest in Pieces - A dismembered zombie is not always a safe zombie. A decapitated head may still bite & body parts may yet be mobile. 
  • Double-Tap - Make sure zombies stay down when you put them down. If a zombie (or the recently deceased) is at the risk of infection, destroy the brain.
  • Zombies are Stupid - They don't understand danger, fire, traps, pain, doors, cages or weapons. Use your intelligence to fight them, because they can't.
  • Know Your Way Out - Zombies don't die in daylight or run away & they can take years to rot. If things turn sour don't wait it out, you'll need an escape route.
  • Move Quickly - Running is good. Even zombies capable of running are prone to trip if they chase you. Just ensure you're running away from danger, not into it.
  • Keep them Busy - Zombies only think of one thing at a time, if you distract them with something loud or bright or tasty, you can use the opportunity to run.
Hunting
Zombies are relatively simple to Hunt and for the most part needs little advice as zombies alone are not that dangerous. What is dangerous is either when zombies spread (via plague) or if they are under the direct control of a necromancer. Direct control of a zombie is when they have utter control of the zombie's body, allowing them to act precisely (as opposed to Passive control, whereby a zombie does as instructed, via its own means).
Uncontrolled and even some passive zombies are easy. Follow the Smell, Destroy the Brain, Don't Walk into an Ambush, etcetera; generally Hunters can follow the simplest of the "Protection" guidelines [listed above] and deal with their zombie Prey. However, when under control of a necromancer, it becomes an entirely different beast.
The resilience of a zombie paired with the wisdom of a human being is a dangerous combination. So, the following advice applies to cases of Hunting a zombie under the control of a necromancer.

Find
Zombies are used for all manner of things, theft, murder & assault. Yet, due to their restricted movement, most murder attempts never succeed beyond that, often leaving you with a living victim. In this instance, keep any victims close to you, or your necromancer may strike again. According to Hunting by-laws, such victims are effectively unSilenced, so inform them as best you can about what they need to know, particularly the Protection guidelines.
Get their eyewitness account and interview them about any strange occurrences in town, anyone that wants to hurt them, the usual detective rigmarole. In the rare cases of a murdered victim, you should interrogate their close friends and family in this manner and try to identify the murder weapon as evidence.
Generally, zombies are easy to find, due to their visage, vocalizations and abhorrent smell and most necromancers cannot disguise that. Some can mask the smell somewhat, but none can truly stop zombies from decaying, so keep an eye out for rotten detritus at the location of the crime. Remember, zombies are messy, they don't clean up after a crime, they leave evidence everywhere. Sometimes passively-controlled zombies leave a trail of careless mess in their wake, from bumping into walls and dragging their feet. Even in the instance of a zombie with an accurate stride, they may leave a trail of blood, footprints or other evidence behind. Also, if you're quick to report to the crime scene, breathe in deep. The smell of rot tends to linger.
Also keep in mind, zombies are dead bodies. They are not easy to acquire. Check local reports of murder, kidnapping or grave-robbing, and investigate any cemeteries, morgues or even hospices for missing people or bodies. It may also be prudent to check eyewitness accounts to identify the previous owner of the zombie's animated body, it could well be the recently deceased body of your necromancer's family or friends.
When it comes to suspects, The most important thing to know about Hunting controlled Zombies is that the necromancer and the zombie are effectively the same thing. The zombie will act on the whims of their necromancer, directed by their motives, their desires & their knowledge. If a zombie tries to kill someone, it's because the necromancer wanted them dead. If a zombie tries to steal something, it is because the necromancer wanted it. Investigate the motives of locals, any suspicious persons related to the crime at hand and anyone with a prior criminal record. Reports of other supernatural phenomena are also useful, as necromancers are often the type to flaunt their arcane abilities, you need to know how to make a zombie before you can use one, after all. Also, remember that the necromancer has to hide their zombie, take care of it & command it, so if you can find the zombie, you're not far from finding the necromancer, and vice versa.

Capture
In every case, your goal is to kill a zombie, not capture. However, if you must capture them for the purposes of finding the necromancer or some other reason I cannot fathom, the method is relatively simple, You will Need:
"Trip it" - Literally, take a zombie off its feet. Some Hunters use the concussive force of explosives to knock them over, but I prefer to trip them with a blunt weapon or even an ankle-high rope. Place a foot on their chest or back to keep them down.
"Trap it" - Handcuffs, chains, rope. Bind your zombies hands behind their back, preferable with rope, as chains have a tendency to tear the skin, and zombies can then rip their limbs out. Also, if your particular zombie has the ability to use arcane magic, you might want to remove their hands, as you might with a Witch, to sever the aetheric flow through their limbs - so be sure to tie their arms tight, to ensure they cannot use their blunt wrists as bludgeons. Only bind their feet if necessary.
"Tame it" - It may look odd, but a putting something over your zombie's head covers their teeth to stop biting and for passively-controlled zombies, their impaired vision calms them down, as they can't see you. This is a good idea for Directly-controlled zombies, as it also impairs the vision of the necromancer, if they are seeing through their zombie's eyes. A bucket or a cloth bag works well, just make sure it's opaque & resilient. You can use almost anything so long as it is secure on their head. I've even seen modified motorcycle helmets, thick balaclavas & rubber swimming caps effectively get the job done. Remember they're already dead, they don't have to breathe.

You may also require, some form of distraction, fire, colourful lights, perhaps a music player - if you can distract your zombie with bright lights or loud sound, it makes it a lot easier to run up and trip them; your weapon of choice, should be close at hand if your Prey also has a weapon & although it may seem minor, some form of deodorant, for the smell is a good idea, be it air freshener, perfume or what have you. This may seem like a trivial matter, but I've seen people vomit & even pass out from the smell of a dead body, so it would be wise to have a deodorizing option available.

Kill
Destroy the Brain then bury the body on unhallowed ground. If the body remains animated after cranial destruction, dismember the body (for safety), then destroy it. For incineration, a crematorium is preferable, but a well-tended bonfire will get the job done. In either case, collect what remains you can and store them. Alternatively, some Hunters have methods of acidic disintegration.
If you have a personal disposal site, it would be appropriate, otherwise seek the assistance of your local Hunting authority.

Final Notes
No matter what happens, it is important to remember that the body of a zombie is entirely dead and cannot come back to life. That is why it is referred to as undeath, it is not life. There is evidence that some zombies can retain the memories of their host bodies and some even react differently to people they remember. However, zombies are nothing more than a parlour trick, an imitation of life. No matter how much you may wish it, your loved ones cannot come back from the dead.

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