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 Zombies...

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SimianAngel
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PostSubject: Zombies...   Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:15 pm

In the first year of Civil War II, the United States wanted to give its infantry an edge against that of the Union of New America. (read more)
They decided on a Soldier Augmentation Program (not to be confused with anything called a Super-Solider Program, whatever that might be). All the most prominent military scientists weighed in with this theory or that, but the idea they found most compelling was the Metamorphosis Trigger, invented by one Dr. Steven Mallory, who they were reluctant to trust, but they couldn't argue with his demonstration.
The Metamorphosis Trigger Theory came from Dr. Mallory's study of insect metamorphosis. He observed how hormones and enzymes could trigger expression of different genes during the process. Comparing the charted expression of the insect genome to that of more complex animals, he speculated that he could devise an artificial method of inducing a similar metamorphosis in mammals.
For his presentation to the United States government, he had prepared several completed metamorphoses of different mammals. Several rats, a pig, a dog, and a chimpanzee had all successfully undergone the trigger. Each had developed varying new traits, but the common theme was that they underwent a sort of 'second puberty', with all their natural traits being amplified. This was especially the case with the Chimpanzee, which led the government committee to believe that this would have the best possible results for humans.
A test subject (purposely identified only as Subject #1) was selected, and Dr. Mallory began all the necessary testing. After 3 months of preperation, the experiment was GO.
Midway through the pupal stage, Subject #1 died. The government committee was outraged, figuring that they had been scammed for funding by Dr. Mallory, like so many others had been. They shut down the program and attempted to arrest Mallory, who maintained that the program should have worked, and then escaped.
What no one accounted for was Subject #1's body being returned to life.
As it turns out, Dr. Mallory's program HAD worked, but due to the inferior gene sequencing technology of the time period (which he pretty much had had to cobble together himself), he had accidentally targeted the Metamorphosis Trigger to Subject #1's mitochondrial DNA, instead of his cellular DNA. As a result, only his mitochondria underwent the transformation, becoming a sort of cell in their own right, and killing the cell that housed them.

--To Be Continued--
(Due to time constraints, I will have to continue this tomorrow)

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PostSubject: Zombies, continued...   Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:50 am

As mentioned earlier, Dr. Mallory had escaped his arrest, but only because of the bedlam caused by the reanimation of Subject #1. The subject first slaughtered the morgue staff, and injured several soldiers sent to investigate, before being taken out by a gunshot to the head. Within 6 hours, the injured soldiers had all died from their injuries, and in another 2 hours, they rose and began the same cycle that Subject #1 had begun. The entire base was swarmed with walking corpses within 2 days. Only a handful of survivors had escaped, Dr. Mallory among them. The base was razed by an airstrike, as an attempt to eradicate the zombie menace, but they have still surfaced from time to time in varying numbers.
Study of captured zombies has revealed much about why the Metamorphosis Trigger has had this effect.
As mentioned earlier, the cells of Subject #1 were killed when his mitochondria became cells themselves, of a sort. Being the energy generators of the cells, they have become capable of controlling the shell of necrotic tissue surrounding them, with a few obvious differences.
Most of the functions that keep the body and its cells alive are no longer necessary. The respiratory, digestive, and circulatory systems have all ceased functioning. The nervous system still functions, but at a rudimentary and almost insectile level. The zombie is driven entirely by the need to eat human flesh. It doesn't digest it, in a classic sense, but does absorb some necessary chemicals and minerals that mitochondria would ordinarly absorb from the cell surrounding it. It does this with its mouth, more than its nonfunctional stomach. The mouth cells absorb the cellular chemicals through osmosis and transport it throughout the zombie form (especially to the all-important brain) using the lymbic system, rather than the circulatory system. It is a very inefficient means of digestion, but the transformed mitochondria run at such a peak of efficiency themselves that they can exist for great lengths of time (sometimes months) without the zombie feeding at all.
Zombies will instinctively seek out human cellular material, but if need be, they will consume any other living animal material, starting with mammals. One side effect of the specially developed mouth cells is that they are just as easily absorbed by the victim's tissue as the tissue's cellular chemicals are absorbed by the zombie's mouth. These cells will begin to replicate within a living victim's tissues, absorbing material and killing cells at an incredible rate. Within hours, the zombie mitochondria will have killed the victim, and after running out of material to absorb, they will reanimate the new zombie in search of more material to consume.
Studies have confirmed that these zombie mitochondria (or ZM-cells) do not actually mutate the victim's own mitochondria, like the original Metamorphosis Trigger treatment, but instead are identical to Subject #1's original ZM-cells. This means that the subject's own cells are propagating through others, independent of the original host. The only thing of the victim that remains after reanimation is the shell of dead tissue and cells that surrounds the hungry ZM-cells.

--More to come, I'm sure--

Questions? Comments? Notice any problems?

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PostSubject: A note on bitten animals.   Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:01 pm

It should be noted that while a zombie may feed on non-human animals, and ZM-cells will spread and kill the animal victim as it absorbs the host's cellular chemicals, the animal victim will NOT be reanimated. The human-based mitochondria do not have the proper 'blueprint' to animate and utilize the dead tissues of the animal in the same way it does with a human victim. Perhaps a future mutation in the ZM-cells themselves could produce such a creature, but as of the current date, there have been no known occurances.

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