The Deadwalker (Lamenting City)

Could it be? A lore post? In this economy?

Anyhow.

The deadwalker is, for all intents and purposes, a cryptid to the people of the shining cities and to their mech pilot defenders and the mech pilots left behind in the deadscapes. It’s the type of thing you tell stories about over a campfire, the type of thing that keeps the young and the believer awake at night.

Only the deadwalker is real. Rare, very rare, but also very, very real. Seen by few mech pilots in the deadscapes, even fewer have lived to tell the tale about it.

To them, it is a ghost, a zombie, a thing which should not exist. They’re not completely wrong.

The deadwalker is the worst case scenario. It is why, in later models of the mechs built and deployed, there is a kill switch within the code to trigger when the pilot’s physical, human body dies, forcibly powering the mech down. Death is preferable to the deadwalker.

In the world of Lamenting City, not a single modern mech is controlled by a pilot in a seat pushing buttons and handling levers and joysticks. Instead, it is controlled by a complicated link between pilot and mech, syncing them together through neural implants inside the pilot. When synced together, the mech’s body becomes the pilot’s body, in a fusion of human and machine.

Disrupting this bond or corrupting it has devastating consequences for… everyone involved.

A deadwalker is “born” when a pilot’s human body dies, but a sliver of their consciousness remains trapped inside the mech, the sync having been improperly severed and with the failsafe… failing to shut the mech down. It is alive in a very loose sense of the word, animated by whatever emotions the pilot felt before dying. Usually, these feelings are despair, terror, and rage.

And so the newly formed deadwalker roams, circling the place where the pilot met their end and became trapped inside the digital and mechanical prison. Some believe it constantly relives the final moments, but no one knows for sure.

The deadwalker cannot form any thoughts except those of which the pilot had prior, and because of the aforementioned usual feelings, this results in the deadwalker attacking any other mechs in sight, whether they are live or dead.

Some say that a telltale sign of a deadwalker’s existence is the presence of mech bodies shredded and crushed into as much of a mulch as metal and cable can become.

The deadwalker attacks relentlessly once it has a target, only becoming satisfied once the mech is no longer recognizable as a mech.

Destroying a deadwalker won’t, of course, bring back the pilot, nor will it make the cursed mech salvageable.

It only ends the horror.

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