From the center of the table, a holographic projection shot up into the air and formed a display-screen. Once the computer was started up, Beatrix spent three minutes struggling to find the right folder; eventually, she gave up and just accessed the internet. After selecting a miscellaneous cellphone video, she whispered “On November twenty-first, Baltimore was overrun by a vast assortment of pestilence… The rodents and insects were fairly dangerous on their own, but the humans were much worse. Some of them exhibited symptoms of what we now call ‘Zombification’. They possess a specific type of mana, which allows their rotting and deteriorated bodies to keep functioning in some capacity.
“Unlike what popular culture speculated… even without their brains or heads, their bodies, limbs and organs will typically continue to ‘survive’. Their most fearsome attribute is merely their capability to spread contagions. If they do not consume the mana of ‘living’ creatures on a daily basis, they fall into a state of perpetual stasis… It is unknown how long they can maintain this condition.” As she was speaking, she switched to a clip that displayed something that appeared similar to a huge glowing jungle.
At that point, she sent a telepathic message to Gabriel, and he continued where she left off. “Um, okay then… This phenomena is called ‘Super-Veg Syndrome’. Essentially, an overabundance of mana causes the vegetation to well, just grow super-fast. It’s often accompanied by really scary fucking insects; they aren’t always huge, but they’re definitely dangerous regardless of the size.”
The screen changed to a video of Patterson Park from a drone that was at an extremely high altitude. He pointed towards the small pond on the western half of the park, and asked “Do you see that blue thing? Yeah, that isn’t water… I mean, when was the last time you saw ‘blue’ water anywhere in Maryland? That’s what it looks like when billions of tiny demonic spider-eggs are clumped together in one place. Do you see those trees over there? Well, this was November; those big green things are millions of adult spiders ‘pretending’ to be trees, bushes… Hell, every single blade of grass is made out of the little bastards. Now watch this part; see where that helicopter crashed and exploded? Sure, tons of them died in the blast, they aren’t invincible after all… but look at what happens after only a few seconds. Yep, they wash over it like a tide and within moments, they’re able to easily put out the fire. Then they slowly, but steadily, consume everything… including steel.”
Beatrix switched to a slideshow of various images that were taken of men and women with blood-shot eyes, using guns, hammers, knives, cars, and even their bare hands to kill each other. Gabriel sighed, explaining “This is the most common and possibly the most dangerous epidemic out there… It’s actually not that different from rabies and mainly drives people or animals go crazy. What makes it so terrifying though, is that they aren’t mindless zombies, but capable of using weapons or tools. It varies from case to case, but we had someone in our group… Joey Day; he maintained enough of his sanity to ‘pretend’ that he wasn’t infected for a whole week. Eventually, he managed to purposefully contaminate our stockpile of food, in an attempt to wipe out our whole group.
“That’s one of the main reasons why there’s only a handful of us left… It was total chaos for a while there; in the end, those of us that survived, were forced to consume tainted meat, grains, vegetables, whatever.” However, at that point, Beatrix glared at the ape and smacked her palm onto the glass table.
She angrily whispered “We haven’t reached that point yet! We’re still on day-one of the apocalypse!” Then she switched to a clip of a beautiful woman, with blonde-hair and golden irises, levitating above a building. She was wearing skinny-jeans and a black sports-bra, while wielding a thin rapier in her right hand; her seemingly weightless body floated through the air, stabbing her blade through the chest of a muscular man, who was holding a fire-axe with both hands. He was standing on the roof of someone’s house in downtown Baltimore, but even after being impaled, he just jumped backwards and the wound healed swiftly.
The gorilla-man frowned, muttering “Fine~… So, as you can see here in the video, Psychers started showing up a lot during the chaos. There are way more now than back then, I’m also one of them now. The two people shown here are known as ‘Axeman’ and ‘Bitchy Cunt’; I’m not even making this shit up, those are the fucking names that they picked themselves. For the most part, they’re resistant to a bunch of the horrible diseases that are going around… Hell, the mana actually makes them stronger.”
Next was a video of Miami Beach being invaded by government helicopters and tanks, then getting bombarded by what looked like meteors, and finally, the upper half of the island disappeared in a blinding nuclear explosion. Beatrix murmured “On November twenty-second, we lost contact with the three of you. We assumed that you were dead, since your last known location was… that smoldering wasteland of glass and death. There was a category-five hurricane immediately afterwards, accompanied by a tsunami, which killed several hundred-thousand people. How did you survive such an absurd catastrophe?”
Luke finally had the chance to speak, so he hurriedly explained “Um, yeah, so we kind of went to the hospital because the evil demon-god that caused the apocalypse had a short convo with us about some stuff… Anyway, the point is that, while we were at the hospital, the place got attacked by the army. A few hundred of the staff and patients, including a couple dozen of our soldiers, were evacuated into these ridiculous automated elevators… that turned into submarines. Then we ended up in Atlantis, which is real by the way… except it’s run by vampires, and they aren’t the sparkly kind. So we ‘did’ sort of escape, in the sense that we basically just fondled Michael’s body and were sucked into some other dimension. We were there for a little bit, but my perception is pretty off… since there was this dragon-elf woman, who drugged us and turned us into children?”
Lee facepalmed, and Kelsey shouted “For fuck’s sake! I lived through all that shit too, but hearing you actually say it out loud… It doesn’t help that you’re totally wasted right now!”
Beatrix glared at them, whispering “Regardless of what really happened, it’s good that the three of you managed to survive this long. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for everyone else in our organization. In fact, our current designations have become obsolete… You no longer have any sort of naval fleet, all of my soldiers have either deserted or died, and Air Marshal Leblanc is currently MIA, but presumed dead: His plane crashed in the Arctic Ocean. If he managed to reach Greenland, he may have survived, though it is unlikely.”
Kelsey suggested “Oh, I know, how about we just call each other by our actual names, like everyone else does? Either that, or we could go with nobility titles… It seriously doesn’t mean jack shit either way.”
Luke suddenly yelled “Yes! We should totally do it like that! Playing-card style! I call King of Diamonds!”
Philip asked “Wait, is there any significance between the suits? Are we allowed to choose Jokers or Aces? I feel like we should-”
“King of Clovers, bitches! I’m seventeen-percent Irish!” Gabriel smacked his palms against the table, while standing up and announcing his self-proclaimed new title.
Beatrix pouted, murmuring “Ace of… Spades; In the game ‘War’, the Ace of Spades has the greatest value.”
Kelsey complained “Well, now you’re one-hundred percent gorilla, jackass… Ugh, I wanna be a King, but my inner feminist is telling me to choose the Queen of Diamonds instead.”
Lee grumbled “I wanted to be the Queen of Diamonds… Fine, I’ll settle for Jack. As long as I’m in the same suit as Luke, I probably won’t die.”
“I’ve got no fucking clue what you bastards are talking about, but since I was born on Valentine’s Day, I’ll be the Queen of Hearts.” A beautiful, red-headed nearly prepubescent girl, with crimson eyes and a bright-blue sundress, casually entered the room.
Gabriel grumbled “Who the hell is this brat?” as he obnoxiously stared at the surprisingly large and pale cleavage.
Luke introduced “Ah, that’s Iris… An infamous Psycher that we finally managed to track down shortly before B-Day. She’s only fifteen, but her kill-count is already pretty high for a civilian. Her specialty is ‘Telepathy’, specifically, convincing people to commit suicide or murder.”
Beatrix glared at the ginger for a few seconds, before whispering “Good, her skills will be useful to us in the future… However, I must first finish the briefing. The three of you were MIA for nearly two months; the King of Clovers shall now give a day-by-day, detailed report of the events that occurred between then and now.”