It’s been a year since the Zpocalypse started. All the cities are gone, and what few survivors remain are bedraggled and living off the remnants of what came before. Zombies still infest the wastelands without abandon and every death leads to an undeath. It’s been survival of the meanest, baddest, and cleverest ever since. Standing apart from the fray is the Z-team, a special-ops group. They’ve been selected for their diverse zombie-slaying abilities and equipped to eradicate the infected zones so humanity can start the process of rebuilding civilization.
1. Adrenaline Junkie (Pyro Archetype) BETA
Name: Natalia Maliev
Place of Birth: Moscow, Russia
Natalia towers over most women in both size and personality. At 5”11, and built like a tank, her mother quickly gave up her own dreams of Natalia becoming a prima ballerina or the wife of a wealthy man. You have to be practical about these things. Instead Mama started training her in horsemanship and weights, hoping for an Olympian. Natalia had other plans however. The first was to escape her overbearing mother. She enlisted in the army and never looked back.
Her size and strength kept the snickers in the periphery, but they were still there. That was until one day when her team was on a grunt mission to clear out scrub from the west Siberian Plain. From the moment she strapped on that flamethrower, Natalia ceased to be a punchline, and became the object of fear for every man around her. This suited her just fine and made her the Picasso of fire.
Natalia burned down several strategic buildings in unsanctioned operations. They were reported to be safe houses for German and Israeli spies, so some factions in the Russian government paid her handsomely to “get rid of the problem.” When reports started to make the news, she became a scapegoat. She defected to the US before she could be put on trial, sought political asylum and contemplated becoming a mercenary or ladies pro-wrestler. Fortunately, the Organization got to her first.
Natilia is not the Brute. It’s hard to tell sometimes if she’s not standing next to Brick. What she lacks in impulse control, she does make up for in collateral damage. Hailing from Moscow, Russia, she was recruited after searching for political asylum. Let’s just say she burned her bridges back home. Literally. You will always find her with her modified flamethrower. Like her, it runs a little hot.
2. Brute (Brawler Archetype) Alpha
Name: Richard “Brick” Wolkwitz
Background: Blue Collar, Construction, Lumberjack
Place of Birth: Portland Oregon
Brick stands just shy of 6 feet tall. The word brawny has his picture under it in the dictionary. He is handsome in that manly way that Hollywood tries to depict and always fails. His arms are as big as most peoples heads, from daily labor. He has a permanent tan line from working outside every day and early crows feet from squinting in the sunlight.
Born into a family with a retired veteran father who then worked in the deforestation department, and homemaker mother, Brick thought he would escape to Portland and try living in the city as a contractor. His father had taught him all kinds of woodworking skills- they even build a log cabin up in the Cascades where he sometimes still vacationed.
Brick did fairly well for himself, getting the jobs for custom fitting cabinetry and the like. He apprenticed as a welder to get on the bigger construction jobs as well as adding metal work to his crafting skills. Then he developed an enjoyment of scotch and a chip on his shoulder for constantly being called a “hick”. As often as he got hired for a job, he was frequently fired for his temper and willingness to use his hand crafted work as a blunt force object. He sometimes wishes that his father’s buddies, still in the military, could have just asked him one more time to enlist.
Standing at 5’11” 235 pounds, Brick is almost as tall as he is wide, and all of it muscle. He worked construction and in the lumber mills growing up, and might have continued to live the blue collar dream if it weren’t for the end of days. He used his temper and his massive fists to get in and out of fights all his life. Now, getting his knuckles bloody could mean turning. He’s taken to using a ball and chain- all of the satisfying bashing with no pesky infection. It could be love.
3. Combat Expert (firearms Archetype) BETA
Name: Reggie Jones
Place of Birth: Richmond, VA
Reginald Jamison Bartholomew Jones IV is deceptively soft spoken for a man of his size and voracity. Ever the gentlemen, he grew up holding open doors for ladies and always calling others “Sir” and “Ma’am.” Reggie is from a prominent Richmond family known for being polite, genteel and wickedly vicious military strategists.
Like a good Southern son he applied to West Point. He excelled in all his classes from military history to martial arts. He did especially well at sharp shooting, but he knew that rather than being a sniper, he was being groomed to be an officer.
Then 911 happened, and all the young men were sent to war. Reggie went along with them. After 3 tours and many men under his command dying, most of that refinement of earlier years is long gone. He is still soft spoken, but what he says is deadly to the point. Mostly it’s used to lull others into a sense that he’s really harmless, right before he open fires.
4. Engineer- (Techie Archetype) ALPHA
Name: Kelly “Mac” McNamara
Place of Birth: Boston, MA
Mac was the youngest of five kids. Her parents raised her to be a good Catholic girl, and her four older brothers helped it stay that way. Running in the streets of Southie she grew up with a smart mouth and fast fists. By the time she grew into her lanky frame, it was also apparent she was not your average hood-rat. Mac got herself a full ride to MIT and a ticket to a home in the suburbs, or so she thought. When the local mob boss threatened her family, Mac took the stand against him. She got her parents in witness protection and a lucrative job offer. All she ever wanted was to get out of Southie, and the FBI was a lot more exciting than the ‘burbs. She never saw any of her family again.
Mac skyrocketed through the ranks. She was pretty, a natural born dirty fighter, with both math and street smarts. It wasn’t long before she realized she was too good for the feds. When a position opened in the diplomat to Saudi Arabia’s office, Mac hired a language tutor and applied for the position. Soon she was working in foreign relations. It was then that she caught the attention of the Organization. While some struggle over the decision, she joined the moment the job was offered. And like always, she never looked back.
5. Outlaw (Sniper Archetype) BETA
Name: Lucia Bruno
Place of Birth: Philly PA
One of the Italian princesses of Philly, Lucia was supposed to stay in the background and make some wiseguy a happy man one day. She was born quiet and serious, rather than loud and brassy, so she knew it wasn’t going to work out for her. She watched too much and knew even more.
At the age of 7 she began her subtle shift of entering the male side of the family business by running errands and providing alibis. Lucia, her big brown eyes full of choked up tears, was a hit on the witness stand. Any other woman would be kicked out of the cigar shop back room… or front of the store for that matter, but she seemed to disappear into the wood paneling. No one noticed her at all, unless those big eyes were staring right at you. Her cousin Dominic was the first to teach her to shoot. He knew he would get a beating for it, but since she seemed to know he was the one skimming off the top, what could he do?
By the time she was of a marrying age, no Italian man would touch her with a ten foot pole. She had learned the names of all their enemies and their mistresses. Since she was the granddaughter of the Don, she wasn’t going to disappear either. While it went against tradition, and Italians do love their tradition, they gave her a job hoping she would get arrested or killed.
Instead Lucia became the best hit-man her family or any family from Miami to Boston has ever seen. No one looks for a woman. She could take a man out from a tower and be having coffee at the shop across the street 5 minutes later. No one would even look in her direction. She could walk up to a victim and her lazy smile was the last thing they saw. Law enforcement of all kinds were constantly at her door. Being a spinster in the family at the ripe age of 30, they thought her a jilted girlfriend. Maybe she would reveal her family’s secrets. While she pitied their ignorance, she enjoyed the company of people outside her family. At least women were more acceptable in the legit work force.
When it all went sideways, she was at the local FBI office in for “routine questioning”. She wished she could have gone back to help the family, but at some point it’s time to leave the nest.
6. Physician (Medic archetype) BETA
Name: Jack T. R. Openshaw
Place of Birth: London, England
Born in Lancashire John Openshaw, Jack to his friends, is an imposing man who wears the weight of his years heavily. His friends and coworkers would have described him as serious. In the aftermath his countenance tends towards severe and haughty.
Dr. Jack was quiet, but well liked growing up. He had started studies to be an engineer, but soon decided he was more interested as the body as a machine. He took a year off to work as a curator of a museum and then began his education to be a doctor where he excelled in anatomy and pharmacological studies. His career could have gone either way, but it appeared he chose to be a surgeon and began his residency at the Royal London Hospital.
For several years he seemed satisfied with his life, but then he pulled away from all who knew him. Some thought he had ties to a company doing research trials for new “medicines” and simply supposed he had returned to his earlier interests in pharmaceuticals…
7. Scientist (Biologist or Physicist Archetype) ALPHA
Name: Dr. Franklin Kriegor,
Place of Birth: Frankfurt Germany
Dr. Kriegor was recruited from a think tank subgroup of the German Advisory Council on Global Change. Either the US felt that as a superpower they needed to be in on the latest developments of social change in Europe or it’s a cover story, and he isn’t sharing intel with anyone. What you notice is that he seems to have more knowledge about the physiology of zombies than anyone else you’ve met.
Dr. Kriegor has spent the last year categorically and empirically studying zombies in the field.While other survivors have sunk into depression, become cruel opportunists, or appear almost delusional, Dr. Kriegor is the only one that appears to be enjoying himself. Occasionally you catch him waiting to execute a zombie. Instead of killing he writes notes in one of his many journals while muttering “Well THAT didn’t happen in the lab!” to himself. It is a wonder he has not been turned. However, when he does kill one of the undead, it is with complete dispassion and efficiency. His squad may have to do a lot of babysitting for him, but they don’t seem to mind. His predictions and understanding of how zombies works has saved their hides more than once.
Under the hazmat suit Dr. Kriegor is a slight man with a fearful intensity that belies his lack apparent lack of physical strength. His raw intelligence mixed with analytic skills and a lifetime of scientific inquiry at some of the finest institutions and labs in the world make him a brilliant and terrible genius. He makes Mac seem like a vapid cheerleader. Of course his social skills are garbage. The team does take awfully good care of him though, even finding him a 50mm MGL that he has modified for “field testing.”
8. Survivalist (Archer Archetype) ALPHA
Name: Delphine Mercier
Place of Birth: Baton Rouge, LA
Delphine tells people she is from Baton Rouge. If they’re a Yankee, they believe her. Only someone from Louisiana would know her Papa told her, “Don’t go d’ere, chere, dats a baad place.”
Thinking on it now, she laughs at her father trying to keep her away from a small city like Baton Rouge. If only he knew how bad cities could get.
A tiny little thing no bigger than a minute, Delphine grew up hunting in the swamps with her father. He taught her how to keep one eye out for ‘gators at all times, and how to blend into the trees like a ghost that weren’t never never there. Her maman showed her how to make any ol’ thing that came out of the wilds into something delicious. They both taught her how to make moonshine and sing like there was no tomorrow.
When the local base started taking over the lands they hunted (it may have been government land, but Delphine and her kin had been there for generations) it took her no time to sneak in and put those soldier men to shame. How was she to know they were training to be snipers? If you thought about it, she had done those clumsy boys a favor. They would have never gotten a clean shot and exit. It was a shame though, with her bright green eyes and pixie-like appearance, you would have thought one of them would have gotten over their pride and asked her out. Instead the organization was her only caller.
When standing next to her team Delphine looks like a pygmy. She is by far the slightest in size. Seeing as she spends much of her time tracking her prey and not wanting to be seen, this has its advantages. Even though she did eat some strange things growing up in Louisiana, for once she isn’t interested in chowing down on her kill. Her compound bow is at her side, day and night. If you hear its quiet whisper, another poor undead soul is finally at rest.
When the local base started taking over the lands they hunted it took her no time to sneak in and put those soldier men to shame. If you thought about it, she had done those clumsy boys a favor. They would have never gotten a clean shot and exit. It was a shame though, with her bright green eyes and pixie-like appearance, you would have thought one of them would have gotten over their pride and asked her out. Instead the organization was her only caller.
A while back, you were recruited by the Organization. You weren’t surprised, your reputation for being the best in your selective skill set will one day make military history. The Organization told you to continue with your job, your family, your life- but they would be in touch when they needed you. Periodically you got a phone call and were directed to a location. There you would meet up with team members and carry out the mission given to you. Rarely have you met with the same people, but each recruit’s abilities and background added to the locations and operations you were assigned gave you the impression that the Organizations reached far and wide. At home, no one, not even your military superiors seemed slightly suspicious of your whereabouts.
Then you received the phone call.
“You have been assigned to Team Alpha. Gear up and meet them at safehouse 2739AXF. You will be given further instruction upon arrival.”
“But why aren’t you telling me the mission now? This is breaking protocol? What-”
The click on the other end leaves you uneasy. This is unprecedented. You have spent these years being the best and do not want to lose your place now. However part of being the best is listening to your own silent alarm when you know something’s not right.
You arrive at the safehouse, in the middle of the night. You are in a brick house on top of a large hill so that you can see the night sky is lit up by the nearby city. One by one the team arrives, four of you in all. Usually you fit into your roles and discuss strategy, but it is clear no one has been given a mission. The tension of uncertainty fills the main room of the safe house. No one wants to sleep on one of the cots in the upper rooms, but you are all professionals. You remain quiet and vigilant to threat.
At 2 am the land line rings. You snatch it up.
“Hello! What are we doing here! None of us got a missio-”
“It has begun. Soon they will overtake the city. You must save as many as you can and cut off exit for the rest. Wait in the bunker below until the bombings are over. Then rescue as many Survivors as you can. Don’t let them get into the suburbs. You will hear from us when you complete this mission. Do not try-”
The phone cuts off again.
“Wait! I don’t understand? Who will overtake the city? What bombs?!?”
“Huh. So they’re real,” says one of the team flatly.
You spin around and see three pairs of eyes looking back at you, edged with fear and resolution. But what you don’t see is surprise.
“Yeah,” the other recruit drawls, “Best we got down to the bunker now.” we can suit up and start slaying after the bombs. They want us on clean up, right?”
“Yeah, “ you say bemused. “But that’s not all. They want us to save as many as we can first…”
Silence descends on the group. Finally you say, “Anyone know what we’re up against?”
“You don’t know? Well shoot, you’re in for it now. Sleep up, because we’re goin’ zombie huntin’ soon!”
We were sent to a safe house right before the world went FUBAR. Our missions had always been unorthodox, much like the members of each team. Not that it mattered. None of my… colleagues had ever shown signs of caring that we had crossed a line. When it came to expectations for covert operations, our personal history had already proven we made Special Forces look tame. But this… this was another reality. We hunkered in and stuck with the mission- to keep the flow of zombies leaving the cities at a minimum by any means necessary. We were warned to get underground when the bombs went off. Later, we were told to get on clean-up duty. We swept for hostiles and retrieved as many breathers as we could. There weren’t many.
Two weeks after the blast, we got a transmission.
“Beta Team, Organization Headquarters calling Beta Team! Do you copy?”
“Roger O.H.Q., we’re here.”
“Well thank God for small miracles. We’ve got a situation.”
“Is that what you call this sir?”
“Are you joking with me soldier?”
“Suit up, you and your team are going in for an extraction. Senator Kennemer did not make his helicopter before this went south.”
Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Kennemer!?”
“The very one. He was sent to a safe location. You need to get him out of the city.”
“Sir, that’s all the way in the thick of it-“
“That’s an order soldier! Over and out.”
There were four of us on Beta Team. There were thousands of rotten, radioactive, hungry undead out there. We were all for working for the cause, but this was not an extraction, it was suicide. More than that, we would never get him out. Of course there had been rumors that some in the Organization wanted him killed in the first place. If you weren’t a grunt, it might make you wonder what happened to that helicopter.
We looked at the city. Then slowly we tuned to the civilians who had made it out.
“Welcome to the cause,” I said. “Your country needs you.”