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A cat has a total of thirty two muscles in each ear.

In 1386 a pig in France was executed by public hanging for the murder of a child.

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The Infected
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For so long, Austere Island has seemed to be outside of the view of the rest of the world. Those who resided on the island not paying much of any attention to any other location. The Guardians had fashioned the island long ago to become the safe haven for their beloved shifters and for many centuries the shifters thrived. Perhaps however, had they not had such a narrow view of focus, they could have prepared for what was to come. Around the globe, countries started experiencing rather unusual natural events. From freak blizzards in desert land, to heat waves up in colder territories. The weather everywhere started to behave unusually, though the humans put the blame on global warming. It only seemed to grow worse as more destructive events started taking place. Earthquakes, tsunamis, wild fires, volcanic eruptions, and many others were the cause of cities being destroyed and people having to relocate.

As it was, Austere Island was not completely off the map for these troubles. In the summer of 2029, it's very own Vormor Volcano erupted. Thankfully, the volcano had given some warning signs and most of the shifters were able to flee from the pack lands before it erupted. However, this event was what sparked the initial disbanding of all the packs. The lands became unfit to live and even Austere City was not an ideal location to be in. Air became riddled with smoke and smog and because of that, many of it's inhabitants left the island in hopes of finding a cleaner place to live. Not too long after the volcanic eruption, an earthquake followed through the middle of the city, destroying hundreds of buildings in the process. If the volcano didn't get rid of the residents, the earthquake certainly did, turning a once thriving city into a less desirable location. Still, there were plenty of residents that refused to uproot themselves and leave.

Unfortunately, these natural disasters were the least of their worries. Something else was brewing among the people, something all the more deadly. While people were so focused on the natural disasters happening around them, they failed to notice that some kind of sickness had begun to spread. It didn't take long for them to finally recognize the sickness once people started showing symptoms, but by then it was too late. Those individuals who showed the world that there was an sickness to be concerned about, were in the later stages of development, although no one knew it at that time. As more individuals came down with it, doctors were frantic to try and figure out what it was. There was nothing about the sickness that alerted them to any sort of illness, disease, or virus that they knew of. With such variations in symptoms it was hard to pinpoint anything. It did not help that whatever it was, seemed to be easily passed between species as if there were no barrier.

The sickness spread, infecting millions before any real action could be taken. Yet the sickness still remained unknown and was soon referred to as the "infected" among the people. No one knew how to contain the infected but soon they were forcing them into cities where only other infected individuals lived. Even then... it was hard to keep it from spreading and governments from around the world agreed that they needed to eradicate those who carried it. In areas of high population of infected, there were bombings to kill off as much of it as they could. Nationwide government began to become over thrown, the people not trusting them to keep them safe. They started establishing Quarantine Zones in major cities around the world, blocking off entrance into these zones and requiring anyone who wanted to enter to be scanned for the infection. No one, no matter what stage, was allowed into these QZ cities if they were infected. It was the only way they knew to keep themselves safe.

These cities began to create their own form of government, though most of the cities became a dictatorship. Depending on which city anyone happens to go to, the rules will be different. Each QZ requires its residents to pull their own weight, whether that be working on a farm to help produce food, or running patrols in the QZ security team. For that reason alone, some of the Quarantine Zones have decided to get rid of their children and elderly, feeling they are too much of a burden for society. Some QZ cities have resolved to food rations as payment for any work an individual does. Money has ceased to make any difference to humans. Instead they rely more on making deals with other members in their QZ: bartering food rations, weapons, needed supplies or services, trading duties and many others. Some cities are more civil than others, but they are nothing like they used to be.

Transportation is more limited than ever before. It's very rare for any sort of public airlines to be used. Most of the air travel has been limited to military use only, but that won't stop those who own their own aircraft. Unfortunately, even that is risky as most the time, any unapproved aircraft in flight will be shot down. Travel by ship is still guarded, but so far has not reached such extremes. Still, many try and be discreet if they can about where they are going and how they plan to get there. Many cities have fallen to pieces, some have even begun being over run by weeds and wilderness. It's not uncommon for roads to be unusable for motor vehicles to pass from town to town. The areas between quarantine zones fall under no jurisdiction, and those outside of them are referred to as outsiders, but roaming them alone is very risky. Chances of contracting the infection is increased, but your also at risk for other travelers and many of which are not too friendly.

An outsider's best chance for survival is to form a band with other survivors. If they are in a band, then they go by whatever name the group identifies itself as. If the band exceeds 9 people, they either disband or join a QZ to stay together as, by that point, there are far too many people to safely keep track of. Survival is of the utmost importance to these bands. With that in mind, some bands are willing to do whatever it takes to continue on, whether that be to steal, lie, smuggle, cheat, attack without question, or even kill. They are beyond the touch of the law, where everything is permitted. When coming across a roaming band, an individual should be cautious in any approach, for you never know what kind of interaction may come of it. Some bands have settled in a location and have created small 'territories' for themselves, but many do not linger in one place for long.

A few years have passed now since the start of the infected, the world falling in to the year 2032. So many roads lay out before everyone, many paths in which one can take. There are no safe routes, no guarantees that anyone will make it out alive before someone can come up with a cure. Many are trying, oh how they are trying, but with each passing day, more and more individuals are dying from this infection. Will you survive long enough for a cure to be found? Or will you pass in to the void? Either way, we have passed the point of no return - no matter how much you may want to, there is no coming back from here.

Alysia 2015

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