“Ayaaa!!! Is there no end to these abominations?!”
Amidst the sea of corrupt, animate, undead flesh the shining forms of the Zealots blazed like miniature suns. There was no art, no grace, to their movements however, as they marched through the zombie horde. There was no need; wherever they walked, zombie flesh charred and vaporized at their approach. Incandescent plasma cast shadows throughout the shambling mass of undead, shadows that vanished and renewed as hungry corpse after hungry corpse stumbled into the oncoming fireballs, were instantly consumed themselves, and new ones behind them came on relentlessly. Back and fourth the humanoid torches moved, scything down the undead and obliterating them in place.
“We’ve been at this all day! And still they come! Even with rest, I weary of this task!”
“But you will continue at this by my side, sister! They sense those living our sisters protect and move to safety. We dare not let these things come near those innocents!” As if to punctuate the speaker’s admonishment, there came the crackle of plasma bolts from behind a building as the Blood Riders there dealt with the few shamblers and gallopers that had gotten around that way. The handful of Zealots waiting on the small hill nearby for their plasma systems to recharge and be tagged in by those wading through the zombie tide turned their attention in that direction.
“I know, I know! But there is no CHALLENGE to this! I may as well be mowing grass as this!” A long slender arm wrapped in fire swept out kniving into a zombie neck. For a moment the corruption-covered skull rested in the Zealot’s flaming hand before crisping away to ash.
“Are we not best suited for this? Does not our blood burn hot enough to burn away darkness and rot?! Does not our fighting spirit cleanse the world of evil?”
“You preach to the believer, sister, but all I ask for to be able to do something more decisive! If all we are here for is as portable cremators, hunting parties with flamethrowers would do a better job of cleaning this entire place of its stinking masses of undead! What I want is to strike a blow at the heart of this eARGGHHH!!!---”
With a boom of displaced air, the Zealot was thrown back, flying through the undead horde, to impact on the ground.
“Sister! Arest you all right?!”
The inquirer was reassured to hear a pained mutter from behind her, but she dared not look to her stricken battle sister. Instead her eyes were locked on the source of the energy bolt that had brought her down.
“What hit me?!” The Zealot pulled herself up out of the charred patch of ground they’d made landing on. Her plasma field had gone out, and her ruptured skin leaked smoking hot ichor that quickly plated into scabbing as she stumbled to her feet.
“Your careless wish did.” The other Zealot locked her gaze on the tall, skeletal figure in tattered dark, blood-stained robes that had appeared in the midst of the zombie horde. Parchment-dry skin clothed gaunt bones, the whole glowing an unwholesome pale green. Bleached bones necklaced the creature, a crown of skulls atop its own mishappen and flesh-nuded scalp. From within cavernous cadaverous eyes an elditch glow glared at the Zealots, and fleshless lips moved in silent cursing, as the air seemed to gel darkly around the figure.
It didn’t take a magic-sensitive to tell that here was a dark well of death-magic, nor did it take a genius to know that it was angry.
“It looks like you have your challenge. Now let us be about meeting it!” The Zealot fed more power to her plasma mantle, and drew her shielded plasma sword from its insulated scabbard on her back. One hand cupped and gathered a ball of blazing plasma, ready to throw it.
Then she smiled.
The EShemar Blood Rider Zealot arose after the successful assimilation of the Blood Riders into the Ecotroz Shemar. Those initial EShemar convertees among the Blood Riders faced no small challenges in their Enlightenment; the hordes of the Dark One’s minions hunting them, and their own ARCHIE-orthodox sisters, already known for their fierce, relentless, merciless persecution of the Ecotroz ‘heresy’. When the chaos of the Shemarrian Civil War settled, and the Blood Riders began to rebuild themselves, those early veterans who championed the Goddess Shemar and the Ecotroz cause, and survived, came to be highly respected for their persistance, their devotion, and their ferocity, even among the hot-tempered Blood Riders. They came to be known as the Zealots. To commemorate their dedication to the cause, the newly Enlightened Blood Rider Spinsters looked for ways to honor them through the Rites of Upgrade.
The Zealot upgrade proper came about from the discovery, amongst the remains of a butchered caravan of monsters, who had been caught preying on local humans, of several sets of Splugorth Kittani Plasma Harnesses. It is now suspected that the cargo had been illegally acquired in Atlantis by minions of the Vampires, and the caravan was headed to Mexico to deliver the devices when the monstrous members of the smuggling group decided to ‘stop for lunch’. It was pure luck (misfortune for the smugglers) that an EShemar hunt group was in the vicinity and came running in response to the attack on the local villagers who were under the EShemarrians’ protection. The bulk of the scavenged goods went to the surviving villagers in compensation for their losses, but the choicer items were claimed by the Blood Riders as spoils of war. Experimenting with the Kittani devices, the Bloodrider Spinsters quickly discovered the self-destructive properties of the Plasma Harnesses, but still saw potential in the designs. They haven’t been able to improve much on the original Kittani design, or entirely correct its most glaring faults, but they have come up with safety modifications, and have come up with alterations to the EShemarrians themselves to make them better able to make use of the Plasma Harness rigs.
Zealot Upgrades are modified Berserkers who have had their skin replaced/reinforced with high temperature-resistant materials that give their skin a glossy metallic ‘coppery’ appearance. Similarly, their hair has become thick and wirey; dreadlocks and afros are common among Zealots. Their eye-optics are also specially shielded against the effects of plasma, and have a gold or silver appearance. The false blood in their outer integument that ARCHIE-3 and Hagan had originally incorporated to give the Shemarrians the illusion of life, has been altered in the Zealots to a bismuth-laced coolant solution. When cut/damaged, the coolant-blood often comes out glowing and steaming, and this earned the Zealots the nickname ‘Hot Bloods’ from observers. Other changes include modifications to the nanite repair mechanisms; the nanites have to be resistant to extremes of heat and magnetic leakover from the plasma manipulation fields. In place of the traditional Berserker leather armor, Zealots wear instead metal-and-ceramic techno-gear that looks like a cross between a high tech swimsuit and partial armor, typically red in color, with gold or silver refractory mesh. Powered by an induction link to the EShemar’s own powerplant, the modified plasma harnesses can generate a field of flaming plasma around the Berserkers. This fiery field of live plasma coursing around the Berserker makes every physical strike they make a damaging incendiary blow, and close contact with them virtual suicide. Sheathed in flame, their mirrored eyes blazing, their wirey hair glowing, the mere approach of Zealots have been known to send enemies to flight to avoid combat with the incendiary warriors.
Since its introduction, the Zealot Upgrade still remains rare among the Blood Riders. The extra cost of the special upgrades is prohibitively expensive, and the upgrade is only offered to high level veteran fighters (the tribal elders won’t even look at candidates until they reach 8th level of experience, and most Zealots are 10th level or higher). Being a Zealot is also personally expensive; unless they want to have their personal weaponry replaced or extensively repaired after each combat involving the plasma field, Zealots must have their weaponry plated in thermal refractory materials (DOUBLE to TRIPLE the cost of weapons so modified, depending on if the weapons take HALF or NO damage from the plasma, plus the size and sophistication of the weapon to be so protected). Zealots also typically have their Warmounts barded or reinforced with refractory materials. Zealots tend to be, as their name suggests, hot-tempered, insanely courageous, fearless fanatics who love close and personal combat. They favor plasma weapons, such as plasma swords and whips. They are recognized as an elite within the Blood Riders. Zealots are EXCLUSIVE to the Bloodrider clan; no other EShemar Tribe possesses them (and even if they have the means, would not produce them in deference to the Blood Riders).
Unless otherwise noted, Zealots are IDENTICAL in performance and features to regular Berserkers, except as follows:
Modifications to the Zealot’s skin and cooling systems allow them to take NO damage from the plasma field, and NO damage from heat-based attacks(magic-based fire still does full damage). With the plasma field down, plasma attacks do only 1/4 damage(the plasma stream still has some kinetic kick to impart).
This protects the Zealot’s internal systems from interference by the plasma conduction fields. Note, however, that with the plasma field on, radio transmissions from the Zealot suffer a reduction in range by two-thirds, and quality of transmission will be spotty; marred by static.
Enhanced Nanotech Repair System
The Zealot’s nanite repair system is souped up for dealing with extra damage.These systems repair 5d6 MD per hour, and can repair 50 MDC before needing material stocks to convert to MD repair material.
The Zealot has a few extra weapon systems added to the base Berserker, in addition to any Rites of Upgrade she might have.
|Damage||5d6 MD punch|
|Damage2||1d6x10 MD grapple|
|Payload||15 min/15 min rest|
This is a body conformal plasma field that incinerates anything that comes too close to the Zealot.
Anything flammable will be incinerated on contact, including SDC bullets and weapons. Furthermore, with the plasma field up, other plasma attacks do NO damage, as they effectively splash around the projection fields.
Payload: Can maintain the plasma field for 15 minutes and recharge in 15 minutes, or for 30 minutes, requiring a full 60 minute recharge period afterward. The Zealot can reboot the field before then, but the extra power draw will cause the EShemar to be -1 on initiative, and -2 to dodge, strike and parry, and reduce maximum running speed by 25%.
|Rate of Fire||ECHH|
|Payload||unlimited with field active|
The Zealot can also throw a bolt of plasma while the plasma field is active.