Marty Manning fell into his job as a forensic mortician with the help of his employer and friend, Jackson Xenia. Already a quiet loner, his class voted him “Most Likely to Be a Serial Killer” and nicknamed him “Morte” for his gloomy disposition.
His quiet life took a turn to the better when he met a sweet social worker named Persephone. Her lightness complimented his darkness, and their courtship would have had a happy ending if it wasn’t for a couple of corrupt EMTs.
Morte came to work to examine a traffic fatality only to discover it to be a Husk. The creature bit him before he shot it down.
Morte thought he could stave off the infection by taking a new illegal street drug called >Voodoo, but as his skin tightened and his weight dropped, he realized that he would eventually become a Husk.
Unable to maintain the lie of his condition, Morte broke off his relationship with Percy. Unfortunately, weeks later, he finds her body in his morgue, a victim of a human crime…
Zombies, ‘nuff said.
A social worker struggling to make the City a better place, she often works with petty criminals, giving them a chance to reform before getting sucked up the Underwood Syndicate.
When she meets Morte, she finds not a troubled, quiet loner, but a quietly passionate, loyal, and honorable man. A rarity in the City.
Obviously she thinks the relationship is going well, because she often hints at marriage with a toy ring Morte got her at a carnival. She never took it off, even when he broke it off with her.
Run by the mysterious Hayden Underwood, the Syndicate controls all the black market dealings in the City, including the distribution of the street drug Voodoo. Unfortunately for the legitimate government of the City, the Syndicate has been equally effective containing the Husk threat.
Underwood’s captains serve as the public face of the Syndicate, and they would never admit Underwood’s identity. John Acheron, “Cocky” Rocky, Tony Stix, Fred Phelegan, and Seth Leth each has their own quirks and style. What seems to be a stable organization threatens to break apart due to a social worker named Percy.
John Acheron, one of Hayden’s oldest captains, maintains the Syndicate’s regiment of enforcers. Although in their business, old is anything past thirty. Like a grizzled billdog, Acheron lost his tooth for the violence Underwood requires from the captain of the enforcers.
Seth Leth handled the Voodoo trade, production and distribution. Quiet, loyal, and intelligent, he took a bullet during an unexpected raid. Now in a coma in the City Hospital, doctors believe the man will remain a vegetable for the rest of his life.
“Cocky” Rocky, gained the promotion to captain when Seth Leth went into a coma. The other captains don’t believe new guy can provide effective leadership, especially since Rocky suffers from nervousness and a stuttering problem. However, Underwood wanted him to run the Voodoo racket, and no one, not even Tony Stix, dared to challenge the boss’ edict.
Fred Phelegan might be more trouble than he’s worth. Until now, Hayden Underwood managed to channel the pyromaniac’s skills toward intimidation and property damage. If anything needed to be “accidentally” burned down, with or without someone inside, he’d be your man. However, ever since Leth lapsed into his coma, Underwood hasn’t been around to reign in Phelegan’s desires.
Tony Stix maintained order within the organization and insured Underwood’s safety. Most of the other captains and the street soldiers fear Stix, and this has allowed him to create a cabal of his own loyal enforcers. He has butt heads with Acheron, and publicly denounced Rocky’s inclusion into the organization, although remained quiet when the nervous man became a captain. Of the five captains, no one commands more respect and fear than Tony Stix.
Police Commissioner Poe Luto obtained with position the old fashioned way, serving as a beat cop but fighting the politics to the top. Respected as a regular joe, but with the eagle-eyed sharpness of even the most astute politician, rumor has him becoming mayor. The only obstacle is an equally powerful man on the other side of the law, Hayden Underwood of the Underwood Syndicate.
Luto took a special interest in Morte, seeing in the young man a keen mind and more importantly, a strong sense of loyalty. He helped the young man obtain a job at the Police Morgue, and hopes to see him rise in responsibility and stature. In exchange, Morte keeps the Commissioner informed of any street level news that might threaten the cold war peace in the City.
Both men attended the same academy, although Xenia went straight to management and administration, while Morte “descended” into technical investigations and forensics. Jackson, however, never forgot his friend and introduced him to CommissionerPoe Luto. The three men once shared drinks at the local bars, but recent troubles with Husks and the Underwood Syndicate has pulled the three friends apart.
A mysterious drug appeared on the streets a few years ago. The drug didn’t appear to do anything until some addict realized it slowed down the physical and mental degradation from Husk-bites. Although there is no cure for a Husk-bite, the drug keeps the user alive for two or three times longer than without. Voodoo offers a chance for someone to avoid the Husk research camps, death by vigilantes, or the transformation into the walking death.
Morte’s upbringing, and his nose for trouble, keeps him in close contact with street-level news and business. However, Morte’s recent “addiction” to Voodoo forces him to interact weekly with the black market. One of the nicer dealers of Voodoo, Roy Charson, almost qualifies as a friend for the mortician. Roy has never done him wrong, and in occasion, calls upon Morte for certain chemicals for his business.