From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
In a world full of superhumans, Quark Zombie's origin is so cliche it's almost mythic.
Amanda Wilkerson was an experimental physicist, part of a team of specialists working with the new ULTIMA apparatus outside Fargo, North Dakota. ULTIMA, which stands for Unified, Large Tensor Instantiation Array, was a giant high energy physics tool built to test predictions in the Extended Standard Model. There was a freak occurrence during the first ignition of the array and a fire broke out in the scintillation counting assembly, just after the primary laser cooling stage. Wilkerson, the chief scientist on the team, went to investigate the damage directly. After investing so much of her life in this research, she wanted to know what was destroying that last four years of her work.
What she found in the fire is still unknown but, the evidence found in the aftermath was truly bizarre. It caused Wilkerson's colleague Professor Othiambe, upon seeing it, to mumble and shake his head in fear and then fall silent. When questioned, he'd only say, "No, it is fruitless and irresponsible to speculate on what happened here. I will not give the press lurid spook stories." He later completely changed the focus of his research, abandoning 10 years of prior work. The other members of the team reacted similarly. And in the two years since then an unspoken decision was made by the global community of physicists not to pursue research similar to the ULTIMA project.
Here is what they found in the wreckage of the fire: The assembly housing, where the fire took place, was inexplicably and intensely radioactive. The source of this radioactivity was unknown and wasn't due to any expected effects of ULTIMA operation. Cables, struts and braces, holding and cooling the instruments surrounding the reaction vessel, were sheered away in a near perfect sphere, some four meters across, almost as if something had taken spherical bite out out of the machinery. The material that would have existed in the volume of the sphere was nowhere to be found. There was no ash, slag, rubble or debris of any kind. The machinery had completely disappeared.
And, at last, Amanda was found in radiation of that strange scene, dying rapidly. Her colleagues, in hazmat suits, pulled her from the wreckage as fire fighters put out the blaze and contained any toxic residue. After such intense radiation exposure, she was given a day at most to live. She should have died.
But she did not. In a special intensive care room at a nearby hospital, her body struggled its last. Then suddenly the radiation in the room intensified enormously, killing a doctor watching over her. She was the source of this radiation, that grew and grew until her bones glowed with an intense subatomic heat that should have incinerated her instantly. She rose from her burning bed with her eyes glowing with the speckles of coherent light interference. Her eyes were something not to be stared at for fear of your own blindness.
The creature strode across the room, body glowing with light, to the door and, with five minutes steady effort, its eyes burned right through the lock, the door handle and the door itself.
The Quark Zombie walked slowly through the hospital leaving death in its wake. A security guard tried to gun it down but collapsed dying in his own vomit. The bullet did nothing. It was not a creature of ordinary flesh and blood now. The zombie strolled out into the night, into parking lot outside and was not seen again. The radiation trail it made ended abruptly there. It is suspected that was it performed its first space warp and teleported far away. In the months that followed the creature made further sudden appearances, gathering supplies, stealing equipment, perhaps getting its bearings for whatever plans lurked in that truly alien mind. The appearances become more frequent but at that point, a year since the fire, the creature fashioned a suit that contained contained the intense radioactivity and the death of bystanders diminished. The deaths did not stop because creature was unconcerned with human life. We were ants for it to burn, poison and crush.
It was about then that creature began to communicate with us. It was not the communication of a human mind.
Astronomically intelligent, alien and remote, the Quark Zombie regards all other life on this planet as either a source of information, a barrier to be removed or as completely unimportant. Many of its actions appear as capricious, evil and wanton destructiveness but this oversimplifies things because its mind really can't be judged by human standards. Basically it views us as less important than ants and would just casually brush us all aside if it served its purposes.
The creature has an agenda but, it's only vaguely comprehensible to us. Luckily for us, the creature is still attempting to understand the local physics of our universe and this limits its power. It's cooperative with any beings it regards as threatening or useful. All weaker creatures that get in its way will be destroyed or simply ignored. It is a mystery why it is aiding other villains in plots that, by its criteria, seem petty and unimportant. Perhaps it's just biding its time as its power grows?
Also it is a mistake to assume it has anything like human gender. To call her a "she" is merely a matter of convenience--it is the gender of the corpse, piloted by a higher dimensional creature of unknown biology.
And for you mind readers out there? The Quark Zombie's mind can be read but this video gives some idea what the inside of Quark Zombie's mind is like (Have fun!):
Basically Quark Zombie is not a people person.
The Quark Zombie Speaks!
From its very first appearance, Quark Zombie established that it doesn't communicate like humans. The creature is not deaf, in fact its senses are superhuman, but it is mute.
It walks around with a couple of packs of index cards stowed in an equipment belt. These it pulls individually to burn text in with lasers from its eyes. It's like a built-in, inkless laser printer. The cards often have pictures and equations in addition to the main text of the message she is trying to convey.
But this is only the start of it. The creature's grammar and semantics are very strange. Every sentence is a statement or given in some kind of bizarre mathematical or logical proof, which may or may not be nested within larger proofs. Also it seems that her understanding and perception of space and time are very different the human ones. Quark Zombie's constant references to events, probabilities and superpositions of potentials indicate that it has much deeper and intuitive understanding of quantum systems, relativistics and higher mathematics than humans do. Perhaps there is arrogance or frustration when it attempts to communicate with us, like it's talking down to us in ways that we'd understand but that it still finds limiting.
Additionally, although no one has yet discovered this, it turns out that the equations and formulas she sprinkled on the cards in addition to the main message are of mathematics that is almost incomprehensible to earthly mathematicians. At least two mathematicians have tried to decipher her work and one disappeared mysteriously (And whom we'll describe later.) and the other experienced a full psychotic break and is now slowly recovering from severe mental illness in a sanitarium on Mercy Island. It seems the mathematical subtext is literally like a neurochemical toxin. How this is possible is still unknown.
Recently, upon encountering a creature who was not literate, Quark Zombie was forced to purchase and use a speech synthesizer. Later it modified a smart phone to serve this same purpose.
With its laser eyes it can project vectored images on to flat surfaces like concert lasers and, more recently, she has developed means to generate holograms in smokey air. These can also be beamed into people's eyes, relying on the persistence of vision effect.
It's former boss, Guardian of the Book (The boss of the Fallen Ones.), called Quark Zombie, "a difficult underling to work with, because of the communications barriers."
It Kills with Injurious Vision
Quark Zombie has a large number of ways to kill and damage but seems to favor its laser emitting eyes. These powerful laser weapons, ranging in frequency from terahertz light to soft X-rays, often attack multichromatically to avoid energy loss from reflection. Other times the zombie may use mirrors to attack around obstacles.
But the Zombie's eyes are remarkable tools as well. They able to function as a laser spectrometer, a bar code reader, lidar and a range finder. She is able to transmit data through them just like a message laser. For example she was able to beam phone numbers into her expensive, heavily modified mobile phone camera. She was also able to beam text into her radioactive laptop by way of its built-in web camera.
Scarlet Society records indicate that the Quark Zombie is a member of the organized crime group known as The Fallen Ones. This is odd because the Fallen Ones had previously been known be strongly associated with magical and diabolic forces. It is unclear why Guardian of the Book keeps such a strange creature around as for such simple tasks as enforcement, assault and murder.
After a major failure in a task given by its boss, Guardian of the Book, Guardian had the creature thrown into a blast furnace in Sharkhead. The corpse vaporized and incinerated quickly and that was the last anyone saw of the monster for at least two years.
But sightings have been happening again as late. Apparently, the creature has returned from total incineration. It is unknown what its agenda is now.
Who or What Pilots the Corpse of Amanda Wilkerson?
It is speculated that the creature who pilots Quark Zombie's corpse like some grotesque puppet, is actually a creature from a dimensional continuum far above our own. The tentative name given to this creature (Or others of its type if more are discovered.) is "dimensional sidestepper." Somehow the disaster at the ULTIMA experiment provided a way for this creature to enter our own dimension and take hold of Amanda Wilkerson's body.
Anyone familiar with basic geometry can see the ramifications if such a creature were to enter our world of 3 or 4 dimensions. Physicals barriers would not be such because such a creature would simply "step around them" by moving through hyperspace or a higher dimension. What appears as closed to us in three-space is not in four-space, five-space or n-space. Such a creature would be able to violate causality since causal paradoxes that exist along one dimensional time may not be such with the greater degrees of freedom beyond the 4 known to relativity or the 11 known to String Theory.
Luckily for us, perhaps luckily for us, this event also seemed to diminish the ability of the sidestepper, preventing it from doing the things that would otherwise be child's play. But it appears to healing or relearning these abilities. It's only a matter of time before Quark Zombie rediscovers its full power and then applies it to our little universe. See the spoiler below.
Regardless, the biology of this dimensional sidestepper is unknown as it is probably not even composed of anything like matter and energy that we know of.
The Metachronicals of Quark Zombie
Quark Zombie has history prior to her arrival at the Chateau Rouge but this hasn't been compiled yet.
Quark Zombie first appeared in the lobby of the Chateau Rouge at 4:15PM (Rogue Isles time) on June 10, 20xx. The following morning, it revealed its purpose to the assembled job hunting villains: It was searching for three magical artifacts.
Over the next three days, Quark Zombie managed to make significant progress in locating these objects only to find that one was possessed by a Vlastislav Teivos of a multispecfic extraterrestrial civilization called the Esertosian Empire. The other two are possessed by a superhuman thief named Calia Sakori. Quark Zombie failed to obtain these artifacts and was thus punished with incineration by its boss.