Human Ursurping and Supressing Contagion ("Husk")
H.U.S.C. was developed by an unknown group. Little is known about it, beyond what was able to be discovered by Dr. Paula Johansen before abandoning her Brigsborough lab in Trenoon. What was able to be ascertained was that the disease is a form of Maltech, developed from the THIN-C nanites - one designed to instill violence in the host so that they may spread the infection. Key differences include that these machines are capible of self-replicating without the perview of a nanohive. Further, the patern makes to replace the human brain with a computer of it's own design; built of neurons, but designed to fulfil a more malignant purpose. The host is overwritten and, in their place, an unthinking - animate corpse is present. Additionally, the nanite spreads to coat the teeth, gums, and nails of the host - allowing them to pass the disease on.
Transmission & Vectors
HUSC nanites survive poorly outside of a human body, stellar radiation and a lack of maintenance resources preventing it from surviving for longer than a few minutes outdoors, and a few hours indoors. For this reason, the disease can only be spread reliably via:
- The sharing of fresh, contaminated blood or other bodily fluid.
- A Bite or scratch mark from an infected person who has reached stage 5 infection.
- Direct exposure to an afflicted Nano-Hive
- Direct Injection.
The cause of this condition is attributed to the arrival of foreign nanites to a host's system. It would only take a single, lucky nanite to survive long enough to infect the entirety of a person's brain. The mind begins to fade as the disease takes root, as memories are physically removed from the brain and their associated neurons recycled to create additional nanites. By the time Stage 4 infection is reached, the brain has lost large volumes of it's original patterning, the lower order functions kept in order to pilot the body more naturally. Full removal of the nanite virus would simply result in an empty being - one that is fully incapible of independant action, and incapible of understanding what is said to them.
An infected individual will feel unaffected for the first 36 hours of their infection. After this point, the nanites will reach what is deems an acceptable viral load. The first symptoms will be an increased difficulty focusing, frontal headaches, and short term memory loss. As the hours pass and the host reaches Stage 3, they will begin to lash out, their memories beginning to fade as their brain is overwritten. Most hosts will collapse and appear to be in a coma as they pass from Stage 3 into Stage 4. As the host enters Stage 4 fully, they will attempt to network with nearby infected. In the event that they are unable, they will make to infect as many close to them as possible - their poor dexterity made up for by raw velocity and resilliance.
At this time, the only known cure for HUSC is to fully rebuild the brain - a process only possible using Paladia's THIN-C Nanites. However, this requires the user's system to be fully flushed by the mal-tech nanites before it will be effective. Nanites can be erradicated from a host (or, indeed, blood sample or other contagion) through the application of a powerful Electromagnetic Pulse. Hosts in earlier stages of infection can have the infection halted by having the disease wiped from their system. Re-infection would result in the initial 36 hour incubation period, followed by the process picking up from where it left off.
HUSC has 5 major steps through the course of infection.
- Host becomes Infected. The Nanite(s) make to skim the blood flow for materials it can use to self-replicate, and does so. During this stage, the host is generally unaware of any change to their body - however the decrease in their blood iron content would be detectable.
- The initial wave of neural restructuring begins. Hosts may find themselves struggling to concentrate - both from their brain firing poorly as pathways are actively rewritten around thought processes - and as a result of moderate-to-severe headaches that may occour. As new pathways are written by the brain, they are often immediately disabled - leading to short-term memory loss.
- Once groundwork is set, the nanites begin to link their newer structures into the basal thought processes of the host; hijacking first their inhibitions and other primal sensations and modifying their cravings and dopamine centers. This progresses until the virus has direct control of the piloting systems of the disease. Hosts in late stage 3 often collapse into comas as the final adjustsments are made, however this rarely extends over 2 hours.
- The host will either wake up or never have fallen asleep. The original personality is entirely dormant now, and the nanites will attempt to network with other infected. Their individual perview will be to spread the disease and broaden the network. The nanite mass will then return to a Stage 1 like state as they mass-produce more of themselves, targetting excess tissues in the body for processing. If a host is able to isolate an uninfected human, they will injure them and note where the body is, so that they may return once Stage 5 is reached. Stage 4 is the shortest stage, lasting all but 30 minutes at most.
- The host will undergo no neutral change in this time, however the nanites will spread to coat the teeth, nails, and gums of the host. At this stage, the nanite is able to spread to others. This stage can be most easily recognzied when a host will stop, then retrace it's previous path, infecting any injured it left along the way in hopes of spreading the disease further.
Only those with M.E.S. have been found to be immune to the disease.
This condition's origin is unknown, however it's spread through the population can be charted. Infection must be passed along by those in the late stages of the disease, with afflicted mass being originally generated within Prisons and Police stations, where the violence of Stage 3 and onwards had driven many of the hosts. One host can infect as many people as their body can produce Nanites - with infected consuming non-viable hosts (Read: Psychics and Corpses) for additional materials.
The first recorded cases of this disease occoured in 3221 CE on the planet Lodan Novus. The origin of the disease is, up until now, unknown. Due to the recent discovery of the disease, it has remained isolated to the Horseshoe on said world - however Omnipandemic is a genuine fear for this disease.
Nanite / Mechanical
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