We live in a constant state of duality, both craving the truth while simultaneously attempting to conceal what we have done and who we are from everyone, including ourselves. Most of the time this doesn't matter. Society and the universe doesn't care about the extra slice of cake, or not inviting that person to the party you were asked to invite. But sometimes, there is a secret dark and bleak enough that its existence tears at not just the soul, but the fabric of our reality.
Again, most of the time, the fabric of reality is made of stern stuff and to make a mark on it requires horror on a scale to match the Holocaust.
But things have changed.
The Midwich Horror
The Midwich Horror was the cause and result of a dimensional fatigue event in the Midwich arcology. Midwich is a small arcology, housing 50,000 people, including the city's urban zone, but not the approximately 35,000 who reside in the surrounding Midwich Rim. The arcology, located in the Virginia province of the Confederation of Southern States, is largely unknown, and is functionally a 'small town' level arco. It is a residential/agro/commercial mixed area with only light industrial capability, and minimal arcanotech research and development, and considering its five star rated secure location, minimal security and no military assets in the immediate area. In short, Midwich is as close to Arco-Idyllic as exists in the Cosmic Era.
The City was rocked by the appearance of the Midwich Horror, and it's brutal rampage through the arco.
Arco-security emergency response requested. Level three disturbance reported in unit 307, deck 10. Suspect is caucasian male, 33, identity unknown. Armed with category 2 melee weapon, possible body armor. Further information unavailable, sensors questionable.
The Horror manifested in unit 307 on the lowest residential deck of the arco. This unit belonged to James Brookhaven, a blue collar arcanotechnician who worked in the arco Facilities Maintenance Corps. Brookhaven was known as a decent worker, but not much of a person. He was insubordinate to superiors, condescending to peers and juniors, and was known for regular alcohol abuse, suspected drug abuse, and maintained a string of abusive and badly managed relationships.
Unit 307 has been gutted, there is blood, but no body.
Copy that security. Biometrics are offline for decks 8 through 12. Sending back up and FMC to assist in room by room search and to restore sensor systems.
Copy that Control.
Control, I have life signs, female, possibly injured. Send a med team to mechanical (deck) 9
The Houri appear as women who have had their flesh melted and warped around their body. Their faces are obscured by flaps of skin, and the entire skull can and frequently is pulled down and partially buried in the shoulder. This would require the neck to be dislocated or broken, which post mortem generally demonstrates this to be the case. The face itself is almost always obscured, save for a single orifice that is capable of spewing out a strong acidic solution. Houri have been demonstrated to use this ability to feed like a fly, vomiting on a potential food source and then siphoning up the resultant organic soup.
The most disturbing aspect of the Houri is that the feminine aspects of the body are often prominently displayed by the body warping. In almost all houri encountered, the arms are fused to the torso, but the breasts are if not visible, have been engorged by the flesh warping that created the Houri to begin with. The female reproductive organs are also often pulled out of place, and have demonstrated functional teeth, acidic secretions, and primitive tentacle structures. The houri, reduced to an almost animalistic nature functions in constant alternating states of anger, hunger, and sexual frustration.
We have a breach event, mutants, there are mutants in Mechanical 9!
Can you describe the mutants, officer?
Officer, are you there?
A large number of security personnel and maintenance corps personnel were contaminated or killed during the initial response to the appearance of the Midwich Horror. The female victims were mutated into more Houri, while the male victims were given much less special treatment from the Horror and were reanimated as fairly weak 'zombies'. These contaminated individuals quickly spread through the mechanical decks of the Midwich arco, and into the mechanical geofront under the arco. Given the almost complete lack of firearms and other defensive weapons allowed inside an arco, a large number of residents were injured, contaminated, or otherwise exposed to the effects of the Horror without ever coming eye to eye with it.
The Arco went into security lockdown approximately 6 hours after the initial call to unit 307. Security and quarantine procedures were enacted, and transit between decks within the building was restricted. The arco security detail, minimal as it was, attempted to move in and clear out the contaminated zone within the lower decks. The plan was to move room by room, deck by deck until the security forces would be able to reach the geofront and mechanical zone and finish sweeping up. The director of the Arco security and the leadership of the arco all agreed that this mess could be cleaned up in time for breakfast.
They were wrong.
The Medical Center
There was a massive breach in the quarantine procedure. Most arcologies have multiple medical facilities, and a central core facility. Midwich only had minimal medical facilities, and referred most of it's more serious medical cases to larger facilities in other cities rather than handle them themselves. Thusly, the Midwich Medical center was more accustomed to out patient medical procedures, cosmetic medical treatments, and to a great extent, first aid and promoting general well being.
A large number of people made it to the Medical Center before the activation of the lock down procedure. Some of these were contaminated by the Midwich Horror and after a brief but intense bout if illness (fever, delirium, sweating, vomiting, hallucination) they would die and shortly reanimate as fairly weak zombies. While even moderately prepared and lightly armed people can hold their own against weak undead, the Medical center was completely unarmed, and horrifically unprepared. In less than an hour, the Center was overrun with undead, and the morale of the security forces was ruined when instead of finding medical treatment for their wounded, they were attacked by the reanimated corpses of hospital staff, former patients and others who were unfortunate enough to be in the med center when it was overrun.
Florence is a Codex Series Clone designed and produced by McCandless Corp of the Commonwealth of New England. Florence was designed to attractive, charming, and to have not just a good bedside manner, but the full functional ability of a first tier medical professional without requiring the 8 years of education or certification. Based off of the ideal of Florence Nightingale, Florence is a medical professional who can be grown and decanted in just 8 months instead of 28 years.
Extensive pre-decant conditioning ensures that Florence is a meek and docile clone, just the sort to soothe worried nerves, embarrassed patients, and unhappy children.
The Midwich Arcology made extensive use of Florence series clones, having almost 50 on staff at the time of the Midwich Horror event. Considering the timeframe involved, almost the entire compliment of clones were on staff at the medical center when the breach occurred. Being docile and meek, Florence clones were unable to defend themselves or even consider a mode of defense before the zombies knocked them down, and killed them, usually by eating their faces.
All the conditioning and training that the clones were subjected to vanished when they died. When they got back up, they retained a semblance of their medical training (wielding medical tools and knives to horrific effect) but none of their emotional neutering. The Florence zombies proved to be much stronger and more violent than anticipated, almost as if the corpse was making up for the life (however long it had been) of docility.
A few Florence Clones were seen engaging in odd behavior, bandaging their ruined faces. The Florence zombies were a stronger more cohesive form of reanimated dead, and while still homicidal and cannibalistic, were capable of some limited reasoning and deductive abilities. They also demonstrated vanity, emotional rage and hostility, skills held in life, and planning.
The Horror, James Brookhaven
James Brookhaven was physically a large man, heavyset and borderline morbidly obese. He took to a career in maintenance arcanotechology, and would have excelled in the field if not for a large number of destructive personal habits. Aside from drug and alcohol abuse and immersive pornography addiction, Brookhaven's most dangerous and destructive habit was interest in the occult and subversive arcanotechnology. He searched out and found a copy of the Austere Verses, along with other hoary old books. Such things are rare and hard to come by in the Cosmic Era.
Brookhaven also had a sizeable collection of black market and contraband arcanotech devices. These were easily overshadowed by the number of hitome units he owned, and by the well documented series of failed relationships he crashed through. This unhealthy lifestyle left Brookhaven with a strong misogynistic streak, and a wreck of a life.
Eventually, through enough emotional trauma, enough CogNet overstimulation, and contamination from regular exposure to unshielded arcane radiation, Brookhaven broke. Brookhaven's latest and last relationship had just ended, but the lady in question hadn't left his unit yet, when he snapped. The how and why are of limited importance, but it is speculated that Brookhaven, being in a highly agitated state, was able to form a parapsychic conduit. This put the overweight nihilistic tech into a full state of parapsychic burn. The resultant surge of power caused massive physical changes in Brookhaven.
A Trail of Carnage
Boiling over with cosmic force, Brookhaven's psyche and personality were blown away, leaving him as a walking engine of fury fueled only by his previously existing mental disorders and negative behaviors. Brookhaven demonstrated massive biomorphic ability. The overweight technician grew over a foot, and his flabby bulk became chiseled muscle. This ability extended beyond his own internal use, and Brookhaven used this flesh sculpting ability to create the Houri creatures mentioned above. These were the remnants of the women he encountered and the result of his misogynistic sexist view on women. The other lesser undead created by the Horror were unintentional, as Brookhaven's power was overflowing and the corpses proved to be suitable receptacles for this power.
Brookhaven also manifested hyperstrength, incredible durability, and rapid regeneration. The Horror demonstrated extreme sadism, and when a subject died before his fleshcrafting work was complete, he/it would go into a deeper state of rage, tearing the failed houri apart, often skinning and dissecting them with an improvised blade that had formerly been a structural support beam.
Fighting the Midwich Horror
The Midwich Horror has exceptional physical stats, notably high strength and stamina. The horror can shrug off civilian grade weapons, and ignore things like non-military shotguns, tasers, and other non-lethal takedown weapons. The 'helmet' the Horror wears is a collection of arcanotech devices. While most of the devices contained within are entertainment based, readers and simulated sensation systems, some are not. The helmet has a number of arcanotech sensor systems. These devices give the Horror some impressive and borderline magical ability to sense things around it. The Horror also has the ability to access and control computer and tech systems by touch and force of will. This is how the Horror shuts down lighting and internal sensors inside the arco.
In combat, the Horror is brutal, direct, and straightforward. The Horror will attack first with it's heavy iron sword which is augmented by the Horror's parapsychic fortitude. The Horror can use the sword to cleave through light and general security grade power armor and hardsuits. The blade would be caught in a medium power armor, and bounce off of heavy grade armors. (In an arco like Midwich, there are no heavy power suits)
Once the serious threats are eliminated, the Horror will switch to 'technician mode' and start investigating the survivors. Male victims are generally killed quickly and without fanfare, while female survivors are singled out for the Horror's special attentions. Once the Horror has 'enjoyed' it's new victim, they will either be torn apart and killed, or be subjected to the Horror's body warping powers.
I'm not sure which is worse.
The Midwich Horror was eventually contained, but at great cost. Several hundred people were killed by the Horror and it's reanimated minions. Thousands more were injured, and more than half the arcology was exposed to contamination. The Horror was taken down by a special ops team after it's helmet was shattered by a shaped charge, and the disoriented Brookhaven was immolated with plasma based flamers.
The undead and houri were likewise eliminated, and incinerated following SCP.
Caught in the Middle: the PCs are in the Midwich arco, and are faced with a zombie uprising back up by one heck of a baddie. Unlike their normal situation, the PCs don't have access to their coil guns, plasma rifles, hyperedge blades, and other high end firepower, likewise they don't have their vehicles, mecha, or power suits. The PCs are forced to rely on their wits, skills, and stealth rather than breaking out the big guns and making it rain. Theme and mood: paranoia and fear
First Responder: a good start for a new group of PCs, they are part of a rapid response and containment team that is sent down into the geofront in the first stages of the Horror's rampage and they are armed, but they have no idea what they are facing, and find out that the rentacop weapons are useless against zombies, houri, and the Horror, kickstarting their careers as problem solving ass kicking PCs.
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? Responses (3)-3
Just incredible really! I'd give a 4.5 to just the Houri (perfectly named!) alone! The whole thing is a mad-house of mind-bending horror. This was my first read of the day, and blew me away. Tagline for this as a module, should be...'Welcome to Midwich. Do NOT go to Midwich'
Full marks my friend.
It's just beautifully horrific really. There is some exquisite detail in the description of these creatures and the, origins of each is genius. I be the first to admit I'm not the biggest fan of horror, but dammed if I don't know what good horror looks like. Kudos!
Ah, classic horror. I love the buildup and descriptions you provide without giving in to excessive (and unnecessary) detail. That makes this more usable in-general, even outside the Cosmic Era.