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Darth Wiki: Planet Of The Dead
Zack: Tac-Con, unit is out of kill zone; you may drop the package at your leisure. You know, one of those Westric gits called him a monster. Just thought he oughtta know. Over.
Louis: I'll tell him that, Recon. Releasing locking clamps in ten. Over.
Zack: Bring the bloody whirlwind, Tac-Con. Over.
An Alternate History
setting for several short stories that Pepinson
is working on, largely focusing on members of Zeta Corps, an all-undead black ops team tasked with hunting down and neutralizing biological and chemical weapons.Not a planet with a load of sand and some stingrays.
In fact, predates it by about six months.
This setting provides examples of:
- AKA47: Semi-example. Firearms have taken on a slightly different form over the course of history, developed in response to the abilities and weaknesses of the latest undead menace, and even the few guns we recognize are manufactured by different firms. Assault rifles are nonexistant, and Mikhail Kalashnikov is known primarily for his variable battle rifle, the AR-15. West African arms firm De Boers cornered the phallic symbol market in the 60s with the distinctive PAK shot-pistol, and four out of five big screen terrorists carry the sinister-looking M6 machine pistol, a Chinese gun known for terrible design, shoddy construction, and such awful, awful performance that its use in the the catastrophic Battle of Myanmar inspired the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy cliche still in use in modern cinema.
- Alternate History: Diverging from our own at the moment history began. The first proto-humans were born, lived for a few decades, died... and a few of them got back up. Notable highlights: No Christianity, the British Empire is a superpower (and the national language is French!), World War II never happened because World War I didn't end until 1947, Hitler was a renowned Dadaist painter and peace activist, the League of Nations never broke up and is headquartered in Berlin, the first man in space crash-landed on the moon and stayed there for five years, and most of Eastern Europe is ruled by the descendants of Dracula.
- Armor Is Useless: Averted; if anything, the divergent path that military technology has taken makes armor even more important. Putting it all on is such a chore that some undead soldiers even opt to have their armor grafted on.
- Axe Crazy: The cyborg ninja vampire Super Soldier Specimen Four oscillates wildly between various forms of murderous insanity, from Dissonant Serenity to Screaming Warrior to Psychopathic Manchild. And worse, nobody knows what triggers it...
- Captured Super Entity: ...which is why the League Non-Proliferation Task Force keeps him chained up in a windowless cell two thousand feet below ground.
- Crystal Dragon Jesus: Without Christianity, two Roman faiths became dominant in western Europe, and due to shared culture and history they both inherited many philosophical and stylistic elements of real-world Christianity.
- The Roman imperial cult, which over time has grown to incorporate regional forms of Germanic ancestor worship and become the Empyrean Church. Historically prevalent on the Atlantic coast, but also along the Elbe and Volga rivers due to Saxon incursions in the second century. Has an Orthodox element with over two thousand revered ancestors, and a reform element that attempts to reconcile mythology and modern history, reducing the pantheon to as few as three hundred in the process.
- The Universal Roman Church instituted by Julianos Konstantinos, fusing over a dozen polytheistic traditions into a single cohesive church in an attempt to fight the growing power of the Empyreum. Over time, the name underwent the same Latin-to-Greek-to-Romance mutation that the Universal Christian Church underwent in our own timeline, and modern Universal Romans simply call themselves Catholics. Also has numerous sects of varying degrees of orthodoxy, mostly split over the modern study of comparative religion—whether Tyr is an aspect of Mars, as traditionally held, for example, or whether modern linguistic taxonomies prove that he is actually one of the faces of Deus Pater (Greatest and Best, Glory Be Upon Him And All His Peoples). Other points of contention include what to do about the Way of the Wheel and Sphere, a Dharmist religion on the other side of the planet that has the same linguistic and stylistic elements that unify the Catholic pantheons, and how all the religions that can't be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia fit into the grand scheme of things.
- Dark Is Not Evil: If anything, the dark magic saturating the world has made it a better place. When somebody who hates you enough might actually claw his way out of the grave for a chance to kill you, you tend to be a much nicer person.
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: One of the many things that have changed the face of modern warfare is the wildly varying weaknesses of various types of undead. Most armies issue their soldiers several different types of ammunition depending on the composition of enemy forces—from hollow-point and FMJ rounds to 10-gauge shells packed with copper-jacketed white oak shot—and coupled with the weight of standard battle armor, it's easy to understand why the living are increasingly willing to leave warfare to the dead
- If you're interested, the above cartridge is for taking out flamewights; Walking Wastelands animated by pure, nihilistic rage at the human race that incinerate any organic matter that gets too close. The wood core of the shot is protected by the jacketing as it leaves the barrel, but when it comes within a five-foot radius of the flamewight, it literally atomizes, and the pellet is instantly reduced to a droplet of molten copper traveling at supersonic speed. Despite their names, flamewights do not react well to being set on fire.
- Dracula: His Imperial Majesty, Vlad I Basarab, By Grace of Mithras Eternal Ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, Liberator of Constantinople, Reaper of the Turks, Scourge of the Rus, Champion of the Faith, Son of the Dragon, et cetera...
- Or, in his home country, His Majesty, Vlad III of the House of Basarab, King of Romania, Knight of the Order, Defender of the Faith, et cetera...
- Anyway, that guy disappeared in 1702, and his empire slowly splintered into half a dozen feuding states ruled by one of his progeny. The Great War saw them sandwiched between paranoid Britannia and an increasingly belligerent and imperialistic China, forcing them to unite again in an uneasy Imperial Synod that endures to this day.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Averted, at least in terms of death toll. Adolf Schickelgruber was a renowned surrealist painter and died quietly in 1972, and nobody stepped in to fill his shoes. Stalin and Lenin never existed, and the purges they carried out never happened either. Mao, on the other hand, waited until most of Europe was busy fighting itself, then declared the founding of a new Middle Kingdom and invaded Russia, carving out a huge chunk of land before anyone even figured out what was happening. The following political purges and ethnic cleansings could have been a reasonable substitute for the Holocaust—but on March 15th, 1947, the first and only ghost in history manifested in Irkutsk and claimed that name for itself. In total, the Maoists killed five million people plus change, and the murderous apparition formed from their collective fear and rage devoured a further three, compared to the over thirty million that Axis nations killed in our timeline.
- Jossed: Specimen Four is not Dracula. Just cutting that line of thinking off before it starts.
- Mayfly-December Romance: Actually a common turn of phrase in-setting. Not only do most undead live far longer than humans, but they themselves can have wildly differing durations; some simply rot like any other body, some exist only until they've accomplished something, some need to do something regularly or cease to exist, and a rare few are flat-out immortal. Relationships that cross these categories tend to end poorly.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The psychotic (and butt-ugly!) killing machine that most call a vampire is only the first stage of the creature's life cycle—a sort of cocoon for the monster developing inside the human corpse. A mature, "true" vampire isn't a humanoid undead at all; it's a massive, amoeba-like mass of human blood and mutated zombie germs. Neither actually has any overtly magical powers—but they don't exactly need them. They're fast enough to catch arrows, strong enough to snap swords in half, and the original vampire almost singlehandedly destroyed the entire Ottoman Empire and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pius II. The only things that can seriously threaten a vampire are explosives and incendiaries—which is why Dracula only got as far as Mongolia.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: In that, with one exception, they don't exist.
- Our Ghouls Are Creepier: People who starve to death, filled with despair, come back as flesh-eating, skeletal undead with a massive Healing Factor and a disease-ridden bite. They've been a fact of life longer than any other undead—some of the earliest known human remains have telltale signs of ghoulification, and they're part of the heraldic tradition, symbolizing strife.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Siberian Holocaust rampaged across Russia for a month before it seemed to run out of steam—and in 1953, the world learned the hard way that it had just run out of bodies to consume. This time, it took three years and the total evacuation of every city in its path to stop it. It's currently lying dormant at the center of a five-mile-wide Forbidden Zone in the Gobi Desert, where a joint military task force made up of British, Union, Byzantine, and Chinese soldiers are dead set on making sure that nobody ever gets close to it again.
- Shown Their Work: Literally. Pepinson is basically using this page as a database-slash-world bible.
- Überwald: Eastern Europe is ruled by a clan of feuding vampires and dominated by a trippy Syro-Roman mystery religion involving lots of phallic symbols and animal sacrifice. Their primary saving grace, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, is that they keep to themselves and act as a powerful buffer between China and Britannia.
- The Undead: Thousands of different kinds, each corresponding to a specific mental dysfunction and/or horrible death. A small handful, such as Ancients (beloved icons and historical figures) and Stillborn (undead children), are animated by others' suffering—and two, vampires and zombies, reproduce by infection.
- United Europe: The League of Nations is still active and vocal, though not terribly powerful—with superpowers on both sides, Europe is united as much by survival as by a handful of often-overlapping treaties and trade agreements.
- Vampire Bites Suck: A source of confusion in Specimen Four's backstory; initially, nobody had a clue what Specimen Four really was, because a newborn vampire has no fangs. Initially, the research team thought he was some kind of wight. And then somebody noticed that Four wasn't chewing on his dismembered prey... he was sucking.
- And on the other end of the age scale, a truly ancient vampire doesn't even bother to drink from the neck; it just engulfs the victim, effuses the poor soul of every drop of blood, and flows away, leaving a shriveled husk behind.
- Vein-O-Vision: "Do you bloody idiots understand what we all looks like to that fucking thing?! Seax, Russo, it don't matter; we all tastes the same! We'll all look the same when 'e splatters us all over the fucking wall!"
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Pepinson being a history major, this is sort of inevitable.
- Virus Misnomer: Loudly subverted; the pathogen that creates zombies is a bacterium—albeit one that mutated from the stem cells of baby Jesus.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Also loudly subverted; undead that hate their existences are typically considered just as irrational and unstable as a suicidal human.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Started in Judea, spread across Europe, and changed the face of civilization. After a few hundred years, the living learned to fight back... and then it started mutating. In the modern age, it's become a Subverted Trope; the zombie infection can be fought off with antibiotics, the zombies themselves are dying out, and the regimen of therapy and embalming products used to rehabilitate a one-in-a-thousand "progressive" zombie is covered by most healthcare plans. Unfortunately, it's set to become a Double Subversion; it mutates every few centuries, and we're long overdue for something really nasty. Notable strains include:
- The common zombie, known as the Bedlam ghoul or plaguewight before the development of a comprehensive undead taxonomy. These are the classic zombies, vulnerable primarily to fire and headshots, and responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire. Today, the zombie germ is largely under control in Europe, but makes a decent living in central Africa as an AIDS allegory.
- The Red Frenzy, a fast-acting strain that causes delirium, violent paranoia, and muscle spasms within a few hours of infection, making the living even more dangerous than the zombies they become. It first appeared in 15th-century Spain, and forced a complete rethink of the country's military policies, causing them to abandon the inaccurate musket in favor of old-school heavy cavalry. This, unfortunately, left them utterly unprepared for the living soldiers of the rest of the world, and modern-day Spain is part of Portugal, which in turn swears allegiance to the House of Basarab, making it the only Mithraic state in predominantly Catholic western Europe.
- The Slow Creep, an especially insidious slow-onset strain that popped up in Tamil Nadu around 1821. It can take weeks before the first symptoms (excessive sweating and salivation) present, and by the time the infected notice that their blood isn't clotting normally, their bodily fluids are saturated with the pathogen. As contagious as the common cold and a good deal nastier, the only thing keeping it from becoming the public health issue of the century was the isolated location of the initial outbreaks, which prevented it from making it to major population centers for another fifty years—during which John Tyndall discovered penicillin.