ENTRY 201: The Burning Plague
“Burn. All burn.”
- Last transmission, Utica Station
- Last transmission, Utica Station
There is an old legend, that one of the titans of myth stole fire from the gods and gave it to transhumanity. Perhaps it is ironic, then, that it was one of the TITANs that instigated the Burning Plague. First categorized as spontaneous human combustion and subsequently ignored, medical evidence eventually came forth of a new, deadly strain of the exsurgent virus that causes the subject to rapidly develop pyrokinetic abilities—in a process that is so rapid, most subjects lose control and explodes in a ball of flame.
It starts with a fever that you can never quite shake, running a little hot constantly, all the time. After a couple weeks you get used to it, the extra energy that seems to drive you a little faster during the day, and keeps your mind so busy you can hardly sleep at night. In a month, you’re past the little headaches and periods of light-headedness, face flushed all the time, incredibly energetic. Some victims report bursts of nymphomania or compulsive touching, spreading highly infectious body fluids with each contact. At the end of the event, the flashes start. No one knows quite what triggers them—agitation, stress, light cycles, hormones, anything. But things around the victim start to burn…anything they concentrate on starts to burn…and when they realize they are the one causing it, they start to burn. Most victims self-immolate at this point, the victims of their own developing psi power.
Stage 1 (initial infection to 30 days):
Upon initial infection, the character begins to feel feverish. Other physiological effects may include mild headaches, nausea, skin rashes, early onset of periods, light sensitivity, and priapism, but most victims report a sense of energy and alertness—treat this as temporary +1 to REF and COG. Medical attention at this point usually points to a mild viral infection, though a detailed scan of the brain will reveal tumors growing and the nervous tissue altering in subtle ways. If these tumors are surgically removed or treated, the infection resets to day 1, but does not go away. Resleeving at this point will save the character’s ego.
Stage 2 (30 days to 35 days):
After a month, the tumors in the character’s head have reached full size, and they gain the Psi (Level 3) trait and the Pyrokinesis Psi-Epsilon sleight with all the usual psi drawbacks (Eclipse Phase, p.220); at this point the character is considered an NPC (though any forks of the ego prior to this point are still under the control of the player). At this point, the character’s pyrokinetic psi powers begin flaring almost uncontrollably. Every hour, make a Control Test—if the character succeeds, then they can determine how their pyrokinesis is used; if they fail, then the pyrokinetic effect is random, usually with some item nearby or that they are focusing on bursting into flames. As most victims do not have any ranks in the Control skill, few survive very long once the flares begin.
Stage 3 (36 days+):
At this stage, the mutations in the character’s brain and nervous system stabilize, and they gain control over their pyrokinetic psi abilities—at least enough to keep from frying themselves by accident. The neural damage also causes profound shifts in how the victim perceives the world and relationships with other transhumans. The original personality and memories are still present, but the NPC tends to feel alienated in their own skin, like a computer running an emulation of another operating system on top of the one built into it. Such characters also run a slightly higher body temperature, making them easy to pick out in a crowd with thermographic sensors.