1 Chapter 1: F...

"It was an alien and ethereal feeling that I felt, and yet at the same time, it felt like destiny." - John the Risen, Year 2031.

What does it mean to be human?

What does it mean to be human in a world that was forced to abandon their humanity? A world where those who still cling to their humanity are beaten and bruised… and often lose their lives in the process.

What about you?

What choice will you make?

Will you hold on to your humanity, or will you give it up for the sake that there might be a better future for you?

But then begs the question…

...Is it even your choice to make?

In the year 2021, a virus had scattered throughout the world, leaving only half of the population uninfected. But although 50% of the population was exposed to the virus, not even a percent of them died. Those who were gravely affected were the elderly, as well as those who were already sick.

This caused most of the world's population to relax. It didn't concern them, they all said. As long as they were healthy, they didn't care about the rest-- perhaps this was the reason it spread that much.

But then came the vaccine.

Media all over the world proclaimed it to be the hope of the future. It could stop the virus from spreading even further to the rest of the population.

"The world could finally breathe again," was their main promise.

But yet this promise ended the world as we all know it. The governments of the world were unsuccessful in their mission, or perhaps they were, and the mission was different from what they promised in the first place.

Those who were injected with the vaccine started showing different symptoms. Increased strength, mobility, intelligence, and some…

...even magic.

Perhaps it was some sort of side effect of the vaccine, but people started gaining abilities that one could only imagine from books and movies. Some were able to fly, some were able to manipulate the elements, and some were able to move things using only their minds.

Lots of people rejoiced with these newfound powers. Within just 3 months of the discovery of the vaccine, more than 99% percent of the population were already vaccinated.

But then…

...chaos.

The people became uncontrollable, testing out their powers and completely changing how the world works. But it wasn't until someone finally died that they truly knew what true chaos was.

Those who died... did not remain dead.

Perhaps, like in the movies, one may call them zombies. With just a single bite, they release toxins inside your body that would render one dead within minutes. And with the death, comes another soldier for the army of the dead.

But unlike the movies, those who have turned into zombies…

...were able to keep the powers they gained. Their intelligence might have drastically decreased to support only their most basic instincts, but some learn to harness their powers.t

The people fought back, of course… and they won. But as is with time, the dead always outnumbered the living.

Even with all their new abilities, with all their fancy magic and newfound strength, humanity was pushed back.

And 10 years after, in the year 2031, the war between the living and the dead was still rampant all over the world. The humans have set up different bases in different countries, but all have the same goal-- to eradicate the undead.

There are those, however, who have not gained anything from the vaccine. No powers, no increased strength, nothing. Most of those who have gained abilities, now called Exterminators, treated those who did not have any abilities as 2nd class citizens. It didn't take the whole 10 years to change the hierarchy, no.

It only took a single year before one side decided they were the more superior race.

Some even treated them as a liability, treated nothing but a slave. But still, most were still lucky; as some were being used as Bait to lure the zombies.

And one of those Baits was currently running for his life a few kilometers away from the walled city.

"G… god damn it!"

It was a skinny man, his snot, sweat, and saliva already mixing inside his mouth as he screamed for his life. As a Bait, he was tasked by the Exterminator team he was under to lure the horde of zombies hiding inside a certain building.

He didn't complain, of course, as this was part of his job description. He had a clean record as well, maybe even prided himself as one of the best.

He has, however, been running for more than 30 minutes now. And yet there was still no sign of the Extermination team that hired him. This was supposed to be a high-paying job, enough credits to allow him to move to the upper echelons of society and become a servant.

But alas, perhaps that dream now ends as he tripped on a bottle of whiskey that was right in front of him.

"S… shit!"

The man's stuttered screams echoed throughout the street as the shards of glass pierced through his cheap boots. He wanted to run, he truly did-- but the pain was not allowing him to do so.

If only one could reserve adrenaline, but alas, he had already spent it all running away from the horde of zombies that was now only a few meters away from him.

"Fuck!" The man could only let out a shout as he grabbed a gun from his waist. But instead of pointing it towards the horde of zombies, the barrel of the gun pointed towards his head. The man's finger trembled, hesitating to kill himself to spare him from the torture of being devoured by these mindless zombies.

He was about to pull the trigger, but he was too late-- one of them was suddenly behind him. Unfortunately, the first thing the zombie bit was his hand, causing him to let go of the only thing that could spare him from the pain.

"N… no, no--"

Alas, he could not even finish his screams as the horde finally reached him, their jaws gnawing through his body from every angle possible.

'Why?' He thought as the pain did not leave any part of his body unafflicted. There was supposed to be an Extermination team waiting for him somewhere in this area, and yet not even a single Exterminator made his presence known to him.

Was the team that recruited him perhaps… played him?

Was that it? Was his life just something for the Exterminators to play with? Just because he didn't have any powers? Because he was weak?

'Why?' The man once again thought. Maybe, if there was ever a chance that he would survive this, then he would definitely get his revenge. Maybe even if he doesn't, he would take revenge as a zombie.

But alas, it was not that kind of story. Or rather, it was not his story in the first place. How could it be, if there was no part of him left to even be a zombie?

Rather, amongst those who devoured his flesh, amongst the almost thirty zombies that ate the man, one of them suddenly stopped.

The zombie stood up, his open mouth still holding a part of the man's skin. The male zombie was staring above the skies, its gray eyes as if looking at something that only it could see.

And it was just that-- a wall of text that only it could see.

[Congratulations, host. You have successfully completed your first quest: Devour a human 5/5!]

[Congratulations, you have unlocked your first Skill - Skill Absorption]

[Proceeding to Absorb the last devoured human's Skill…]

[...]

[...]

[Skill: Speech, Gained!]

The zombie could only tilt its head from the floating words that suddenly appeared in front of it, completely oblivious of what they could all mean. There was, however, one thing he did…

"F… F… fuck." -- Repeat one of the words the now devoured man said.