A Perilous Beginning
Sonny wrestled through blood-splattered aisles of riveted stainless steel floors lined with sturdy chrome guard rails bordering the chaotic deck of the White November. Softly striding behind him was Louis, his sole companion and invaluable mentor with whom he had shared the first and only fifteen minutes of his life; the only life he could remember. Although Louis was blind, his sharpened auditory and olfactory senses adequately compensated for his optical deficiency. Together, they struggled through a terrifying crescendo of panicked screams, cannibalized corpses, rotting flesh, and distorted inhuman vocalizations.
It seemed like an hour ago, when Sonny was miraculously reborn near the bow of the infested research ship, amidst the incomprehensible pandemonium of grotesque horror and insanity that ensued. Fortunately for Sonny, it couldn't have been timed better: Louis had resuscitated him just before the condition had completely metastasized and took over his entire body… He managed to retain his rudimentary physiological traits and mental integrity as a human being, but he had lost all the memories of his past existence.
When Sonny first gained consciousness, he was extremely disorientated and debilitated. Clearly, there were some adverse effects of the resuscitation. Louis first instructed him to acquire a weapon. There were few options available, and little time to reconsider any one of the barely discernible objects that qualified to him as a weapon, so he reached for the closest article: a detached, broken lead pipe that lay freely within ten meters of his grasp. With that, he entered the savage post-apocalyptic world in a perilous venture of survival.
The entire deck was littered with flesh-eating degenerates whose decomposing bodies reeked of nauseating putrescence. When he first encountered one of them, Sonny was still significantly discombobulated by the aftereffects of his revival, a difficulty Louis had quickly acknowledged and asserted.
"It will wear off eventually- You need to focus!"
With basic form and composure, Sonny savagely dismembered the horrid monstrosity in a series of flurried, overhead blows. Evidently impervious to pain or shock, relentless assault and aggression was the only solution for dealing with this… thing.
Although physical encounters were sporadic and brief along the way, Sonny quickly learned the ropes of mortal combat due to an instinctual, almost natural, drive that was intrinsically programmed in his mental mainframe. His progress was also generously supplemented by Louis's strategic vocal instruction.
Fortunately, due to their impaired balance and poor locomotive calibration, it was easy to maim and bluntly destroy these mindless abominations. Perhaps they may have been former comrades or colleagues, but Sonny's necessitated impulse towards self-preservation had overridden any sentimental attachments to their previous existences. Besides, he reckoned, there was nothing he could do for them at this point.
At last, the faintest glimmer of hope had risen by his brief glancing towards the speed boat hangar up ahead, on the gruesomely gut-splattered and malodorous horizon of steel beneath the gloomy sunset. Louis was even more ecstatic to apprehend the distant droning of propellers with his keen auditory perception.
"I think I can hear helicopters, Sonny…It must be the rescue team!"
In just moments, they were approached what appeared to be a trained operational platoon. As they drew closer to him, Sonny noticed how these individuals stood with a rigid firmness and composure that matched Louis's. In addition, none of them reeked of the unbearable stench he was now all too familiar with. He soon recognized them as human beings. Acknowledging this, Sonny and Louis finally halted, indulgently succumbing to their overwhelming exhaustion.
There were three of them. The squadron consisted of two support units and a captain, who was clearly distinguishable by his authoritative stature and central placement in their tactical formation. Both of these lesser subordinates were equipped with authentic combat vests, corresponding black and dark blue uniforms, and tactical SWAT hoods protecting their anonymity by covering their entire faces; save a thin, horizontal slit for their eyes. Their combat vests were composed of rich, densely-reinforced synthetic carbon fibers. Firmly embedded onto these vests were the bold, rectangular white letters that solidly spelled out the capitalized acronym "ZPCI."
What was most intimidating, however, was their customized weaponry: each of the support units was equipped with a heavy, two-handed firearm that closely resembled an M4 Carbine assault rifle. However, there was something frighteningly peculiar: the barrel was elongated and ventilated with a broad, cylindrical barrel shroud, which is indicative of a highly exothermic firing mechanism. This made the rifle appear to function more like a rocket launcher or high explosive bazooka rather than an M4 Carbine. Just below the shrouded barrel was a fixed red guide laser, strikingly characteristic of a sniper rifle. In addition, a long, stainless steel, shank-like bayonet was attached beneath the barrel to supplement melee combat. It was strongly evident that these military personnel were more than adequately equipped for managing the infected.
The central commanding figure was adorned with a conspicuous, shiny metallic full-body suit that was electroplated with Cobalt alloys, which emit a vibrant blue hue. Instead of wearing a black SWAT hood to cover his entire face and shoulders, he wore a polished cobalt blue helmet with a thick glass visor, coupled with heavy, electroplated shoulder pads. The most distinguishable feature among his attire was his weapon: he carried no firearm of any sort. Instead, he wielded a heavy, two-handed luminescent great sword whose cobalt blue surface glimmered intensively in the faint, sunset sky. On its hilt were inscribed the words Property of Zombie Pest Control Inc.
"Finally, You're here!," greeted Louis excitedly, with a candid tone of earnest relief. "I thought we would die on this forsaken ship!"
But, to his dismay, the central figure emitted a callous, authoritative voice that sounded more of sordid, militaristic discipline than of any human compassion.
"Take them out, boys. We don't need any witnesses."
"What…?," inquired Louis innocuously, in startled bewilderment.
For a nanosecond, Louis thought, or he hoped, that they were grossly mistaken. Unfortunately, that was not the case. To confirm the worst, a horrific red dot appeared on his bleached white T-shirt. Then, with the swift, mechanical motion of his arms, the subordinate to the left of the Captain, from Sonny's viewpoint, discharged his standard-issue M7-V Pulse Rifle.
Louis was directly hit in the sternum. As if a fragmentation grenade had detonated directly on his chest, Louis exploded.
He screamed in agonizing pain.
His body was completely encapsulated inside a fiery explosion, with his torso as its epicenter. As sinewy flesh, shrapnel, and other gory fragmentations projected from the blast, Louis collapsed on his knees, and then submitted himself to the cold, steel floor of the White November. He was completely destroyed.
The energy-based explosive round of the M7-V Pulse Rifle was designed to be effective at physically disassembling and incapacitating the infected, who lacked a central nervous system and were therefore impervious to the pain and shock associated with piercing projectiles. Unfortunately, it was also very effective at decimating innocent survivors.
The perpetrator intuitively began to reload his weapon. A tiny white cross, which was barely noticeable, was embedded on his left shoulder, indicating his certification as a trained combat medic. It was quite ironic that, of the three squad members, he was the one to perform this atrocity. Nevertheless, orders were orders. In accordance to Z.P.C.I. protocol, he was obligated to follow them regardless of the circumstances, or otherwise face execution by his commanding officer, for insubordination. In any case, he was in no position to question the wisdom of the privatized military, let alone his superiors. Although their contracted operation was strictly assigned the sole objective of exterminating the infected on this vessel, it was in the organization's best interest to tragically 'discover' no survivors...
Despite his relatively safe proximity from the blast, Sonny was rather shell-shocked. The political or bureaucratic complications behind this unspeakable act were beyond his limited comprehension. "LOUIS!" he cried in disbelief. 'This is NOT a good day to be shooting my friends!". The combat medic was attentively surprised by this alarming consternation.
"Hey, look at that! That one just talked!"
However, the Captain assertively dismissed this conjecture with a cold, domineering and authoritative gesture.
"So what? That 'thing' is no different from the rest of them. Just do your job, soldier!"
Just then, Sonny realized the gravity of the situation: the distant droning of helicopters in the background grew louder. More of them are coming, he thought. And they are equipped with technologically advanced weaponry.
Fortunately, the M7-V Pulse Rifle required steady aim and focus in order to use effectively. The ideal, intended target was the lesser, more disorientated and corporeally degenerated variation that Sonny was superior to in both strength and agility. If he was swift enough, he could out-maneuver these weapons and quickly strike their wielders. His greatest challenge would arise in combating the Captain, who was more than adequately prepared for melee combat. The supporting assault unit to the right of the commanding officer, from Sonny's perspective, had already begun to methodically lock and load his weapon, and would soon open fire on him.
He would have to kill these bastards, or be objectively eliminated with extreme prejudice. Sonny took one quick, analytical glance at Louis. His limbs and appendages still appeared to be intact, however he was bleeding incessantly. The impact must have caused major arterial damage all throughout his entire upper body, and critically damaged many of his vital organs. At this rate, he wasn't going to last very long…
No! He could not afford any pessimism. Louis had promised him answers. Without him, Sonny would be hopelessly lost in this unfathomable world of meaningless chaos and genocide. He didn't even understand his own identity or the purpose of his existence. He had to kill them, and then escape with Louis on a docked speedboat, off this wretched ship. The odds of him defeating this specialized task force were grotesquely slim, and even then he had no idea of the horrors that lay ahead of him, just beyond the eerie horizon…
Sonny embraced his only remaining friend capable of assisting him in this seemingly impossible endeavor: the broken lead pipe. Being his sole weapon of choice from the very start, by now it had somehow formed an empathic bond with him. Firmly grasping its solid, metal body in his steady hands, he suppressed himself. Then he let all hell break loose.