Warwick is a monster who hunts the gray alleys of Zaun. Transformed by agonizing experiments, his body is fused with an intricate system of chambers and pumps, machinery filling his veins with alchemical rage. Bursting out of the shadows, he preys upon those criminals who terrorize the city's depths. Warwick is drawn to blood, and driven mad by its . None who spill it can escape him.
Though many think of Warwick as no more than a beast, buried beneath the fury lies the mind of a man - a gangster who put down his blade and took up a new name to live a better life. But no matter how hard he tried to move on, he could never escape the sins of his past.
Memories of that time come to Warwick in flashes before they're inevitably lost, replaced by searing echoes of the days he spent strapped to a table inlab, the mad chemist's face looming above him.
His world a haze of pain, Warwick could not recall how he fell into Singed's grasp... and even struggled to remember a time before the suffering began. The scientist patiently carved into him, installing pumps and hoses to inject chemicals into his veins, seeking what an alchemist always seeks: transmutation.
Singed would reveal his subject's true nature - the deadly beast hidden within a 'good man'.
The chemicals pumped into Warwick's veins boosted his healing, allowing Singed to gradually and painfully reshape the man. When his hand was severed in the course of the experiment, Singed was able to reattach it, augmenting it with powerful, pneumatic, and bringing Warwick ever closer to his true potential.
A chemicalwas installed on Warwick's back and integrated with his nervous system. Whenever he felt rage, or hate, or fear, it would drive liquid fury deeper into his veins, fully awakening the beast within.
He was forced to endure it all, every cut of the mad chemist's scalpel. Pain, Singed assured his subject, was necessary; it would prove to be the 'great catalyst' of his transformation. Though the chemicals enabled Warwick's body to heal through most of the physical damage, his mind was shattered by the unending agony.
Warwick struggled to recall a single memory from his past... all he could see was blood. But then he heard a little girl screaming. Screaming something he couldn't understand. It sounded like a name.
He'd already forgotten his. He sensed that was for the best.
Pain soon overwhelmed all other thoughts. Blood was the only thing left.
Though his body and mind were broken after weeks on the slab, Warwick stubbornly resisted the chemicals transmuting him. Toxins leaked from his eyes in place of tears. He coughed up gobs of caustic phlegm that sizzled against his chest, before burning shallow holes in the floor of the lab. Restrained against the cold steel of the table, Warwick writhed in agony for hours on end, until his body finally gave out.
With the untimely death of his subject, Singed disposed of the corpse in a charnel pit deep in Zaun's Sump, before turning his mind to the next experiment.
But death proved to be the true catalyst needed for Warwick's transformation. As he lay cooling atop the pile of corpses, the chemicals could finally complete their work. The chamber on his back began to pump.
His body contorted unnaturally, bones bending and snapping, teeth growing, sinews tearing and then healing with a faint alchemical glow, dead flesh replaced by something new and powerful. By the time his heart started beating once again, the man Warwick had been and the lives he'd lived were gone.
He awoke to hunger. Everything hurt. Only one thing mattered.
He needed blood.
First, it was the blood of a nearby sump-scrapper, rooting through the charnel pile. And then a priestess of the Piltovan apprenta taking a shortcut, and a philter-faced merchant avoiding a gang, and a dram-dealer, and a tallyman, and a chem punk..., seeking a member of her flock. Then a
He set up a den not far from a place that itched at the back of his now-animal mind. There, he continued the slaughter, not caring who fell to his claws. So long as blood dripped from gnashing teeth, he would feel nothing but a smear of red on his conscience, the hunger in his gut overwhelming any concern for his random victims.
Yet, even as he surrendered to the beast, glimpses of his past began to haunt him. He saw a bearded man reflected in the eyes of a beggar as he tore out his throat. The other man looked somber, somehow familiar; there were scars on his arms. Sometimes, as he fed in dark alleys on stray gangers, the flash of knives would remind him of an old blade covered in blood. Blood passing from the blade to his hands. From his hands, to everything he touched. Sometimes, he remembered the girl again.
And still there was blood.
It had always been there, he realized, his entire life, and nothing he did could wash it off. He'd left so many scars that even if he didn't remember his past, the city would. When he peered into the eyes of Zaun's criminals - the gang bosses, murderers, and thieves - he saw himself. The chamber on his back would fill his body with hate. His claws tore out of his fingers.
No longer content to kill indiscriminately, Warwick now pursues those already covered in the stench of blood. Just as he was the day he was dragged to Singed's door.
He still wonders if he'd truly wanted this. He can't remember details, but he remembers enough. Enough to know Singed had been right all along - the good man had been a lie, before disaster had burned it away, revealing the truth.
He is Warwick. He is a killer.
And there are so many killers to hunt.
- Subject #1088
Procured a cutthroat hiding among the populace and feigning civility. Only a disciplined eye could recognize the beast within, yearning for release. How could I refuse? For what is my work if not an attempt to reveal life's hidden truths through science? It required two doses to subdue him. Impressively resilient. A necessary quality to survive the grand catalyst of pain and provoke the transmutation. The metamorphosis will reshape the man into a chimeric Zaun will be its hunting grounds., and all of
Prepared subject for implantation. Tested a surgical technique I observed during the Ionian Campaign to reach the scapulae. Required several minutes of drilling through bone to attach the alchemical and pumps that will deliver the transmutative formula. Subject wailed and pleaded. Insisted he was no longer a monster but a good man. Ignored the distractions and threaded lengths of delicate hoses throughout his extremities, splicing them with his veins and arteries. The subject remained conscious and screaming for six hours. Very encouraging, as he endured significantly longer than earlier failures. Finished by integrating the mechanical augmentations with the neurolous fibers of the spine. Minimal stitching required. Subject stable and recovering. I must rest and replenish before tomorrow's procedure.
- Grand Catalyst
Found subject despondent and shrinking at the slightest gesture. He struggled against his bonds as the delivery chamber filled with the transmutative formula and activated. The mechanism primed the alchemicals, then initiated the next stage. The effects were instantaneous. The subject convulsed as his blood vessels constricted against those first drops. The plunger pushed the mixture through the obstruction, and the subject thrashed violently, nearly toppling the surgical table.
As hypothesized, pain proved the catalyst of change. It released the flood of chemistry required to transmute the subject's base anatomy. A snapping of bone and sinew followed, reshaping the skeletal frame. And then a jagged shard ripped through the subject's wrist. He wrenched against the bindings, pulling until the joint cracked sharply, and his severed hand fell to the floor. There was a piercing wail, and his entire body seized before suffering a full collapse. The transmutation had failed. I stanched the wound and stabilized the body's vital tasks. Perhaps I've overestimated the subject's tolerance for pain. I will recalibrate and begin anew tomorrow.
- Severed Limb
Returned to my laboratory and found the severed hand still on the floor. Surprisingly, it showed no signs of decay or rigor. Examined the subject's mangled stump as he spat a litany of insults and threats. The rise in aggression is a promising aftereffect of the alchemicals. But the most striking change was hidden beneath the blood-soaked bandages: a protolimb. Embryonic and malformed, but beautiful in its predatorial function. Even now, hours after the aborted procedure, flesh continues to grow and outpace the formation of misshapen bone. Perhaps allowing more time for the serum to take effect may prove beneficial.
- New Design
Images of the protolimb pervaded my sleep. Its beauty and singular purpose arrested in tragic failure. But what if it could be more? Awoke with the spark of inspiration. Metallurgy. It may lack the refinements of true chemistry but, last night, it served my purpose. Worked until first light, forging steel, sharpening edges, and hammering a framework. It should provide the necessary structure, a scaffolding of sorts, for the new limb to grow into. Improving upon nature is simple when she's already offered a design.
The constraints of the procedure forced me to benumb the subject and work swiftly. Discovered signs of new growth on the protolimb. The changes had slowed, but not settled. Grafted the malformed limb's muscle tissue, blood vessels, and delicate nerve endings to the framework. Finished by integrating thewith the alchemical chamber. Observed a slight twitch in the smallest digit. Moved subject and reinforced his restraints. What other enhancements could be made? Perhaps I shall have a stroll and take in the Gray. There is much to consider.
Returned from the Boundary Markets and was greeted by an old familiar stench: tributaries of blighted veins stretched across the subject's back. The infection originated where bone and metal chamber adjoined. Made adjustment to the formula and dispensed the new batch. The subject's stupor broke in a piercing shriek as his skeletal structure fractured and reshaped. A bestial form began to emerge, the chimeric properties finally surfacing, but then the transmutation slowly ebbed and stilled.
Increased the chamber's outflow: it trembled violently, delivering twice the dosage for every beat of the heart. The body contorted in response as flesh split like poorly seamed fabric, unable to contain the changes occurring underneath. The chamber rumbled as the mixture roiled within the sealed container: pressure built until it released in a rupture of hoses, seals, and blood vessels. A series of snapping sounds followed, metallic and clanging, and the subject's restraints gave way.
An instant later, he was tearing into my face, reopening the old wounds and feeding the old rage. We struggled briefly, until he finally grew limp and collapsed: a single word escaped his throat. And then, all the indicators of life faded and the body finally settled. No heartbeat detected. Applied several drops of caustic solution to his left arm, and received no response: subject deceased. Dragged the body outside and disposed of the remains in the Sump. Once again, scientific progress is stifled by lesser creatures. The only consolation is that even failure adds to the vast reservoir of knowledge.
There was a disturbance last night: arrived to discover the rear door to my laboratory was torn from its hinges, its heavy wooden planks cleaved and splintered into kindling. Inside, my equipment and provisions suffered a similar fate: nothing was spared. And everything bore the same deep, gouging slash of sharpened metal. Hours of examining and comparing the marks confirmed the truth - the subject had returned! I don't know how, but there are a myriad of questions already forming in my mind. But first, a new laboratory must be secured before locating the beast and starting the next phase. What was the word the subject said before it collapsed? A name, perhaps? I'll start there and see where the search leads me.
I find her near the Black Lanes, where merchants and thieves do business. Anything is for sale. Everything is stolen. I could kill them all.
Do they think the shadows hide their misdeeds? The gleam of their knives? The deals they make, shrouded in darkness? I can smell the shimmerwine on a beggar's breath from across this wretched city.
I know their crimes. I can taste them.
Then I see her. She's taking a message from one of Baron Spindlow's men - the lump-faced one, all scars and scowl - and placing it into a pneuma-tube. He mutters instructions to her.
Who knew the dob could even speak, let alone write a message? I've only heard him scream. The last time we met, I took his leg. Its replacement is already rusted.
The cogs clink as they pass from the thug's meaty hand into the girl's. I can smell the blood on the gear-shaped coins. The pain that passes from person to person. If you want something in this city, it doesn't matter how many cogs you have. Pain is the true currency.
I remember a man who knew this - the blood and cogs on his hands - but that man is gone.
I growl, and the two figures flinch in surprise. Even the shadows seem to draw back as my augments cast a sickly, green glow. The girl takes one look and flees, but not deeper into the alley. She's a pneuma-tube runner. She clambers up, into the darkness, taking a path few can follow.
Afraid. Fast, but vulnerable. Carrying a pneuma-tube with a chem-baron's seal. The gangers will come for her.
I begin the hunt.
We move so quickly, the city is a blur - mycutting through the smoke, scrabbling for purchase as I leap across rooftops, following the pneuma-tube runner. Carving a path so deep through the city, it seems to bleed chemtech, toxic puddles gathering in the alleys.
She tries to double back, skittering beneath a cart full of tinctures. She knows the city almost as well as I do. She knows where I'm driving her. Away from sanctuary, toward a place all the runners fear, where only the Zaun Gray escapes.
I need to remind her to be more afraid of me than what lies in the darkness. I land ahead of her, roaring with rage, my claws tearing a chunk out of a steam conduit. She hesitates, but only for a moment, before turning back into the depths. Where I need her to run.
I can hear the gasps of effort as she scrambles up walls and slides down railings. She's praying to theto save her. Perhaps I should do the same. The animal inside me wants more than murder. It wants meat.
I could kill her right now. It would be so easy. I feel my claws emerging, greedy for flesh. I forget why I should spare her, until I draw closer. Close enough to see my reflection in her eyes, as she stumbles on a ledge and looks back.
Her eyes brim with tears.
It's all so... familiar.
I pull back and howl into the darkness, driving the girl forward. She drops down into a maze of pipes built for the ancient pneuma system. I follow behind her, hanging back as she reaches the dead end.
The girl thinks I'm going to kill her. That her pale throat is the reason I bare my teeth. But she is only the bait. This is where she'll lure out my true prey.
Those who'd prey on her.
"Well, well. Look what fell outta the Gray", says a ganger emerging from the darkness. He and his friends surround the girl, their blades catching what little light survives in these depths. I recognize their tattered rags. The Gray Nails. A dead man once had dealings with them.
There was another girl...
I shake away the memories. I don't want them.
"I know you", says one of the Nails, her face ringed by piercings. "You run for Boggin, eh? One 'a Spindlow's mugs. What's that krovin' psycho got to say that he don't want us to hear?" She pokes the pneuma-tube with her dagger and smiles.
"Please, you don't understand!" the girl sobs, scanning the gray darkness behind her and trying to rush past.
"Neither do you", the first ganger says. "We're gonna have some fun."
I hesitate as the thug knocks the pneuma-tube from the girl's hands. It's worth more cogs than their own lives. It's their ticket out of this miserable pit, to a slightly less miserable one.
I thought the pneuma-tube would distract them for the moment I needed. It cracks against the alley stones, Spindlow's seal broken.
What have I done?
The runner cries out as a Nail grabs her roughly. There's a struggle, a flash of steel, and then... blood.
Theon my back pumps, and I am lost.
Afills the darkness.
"It's him! The Howler!" a Gray Nail cries out as I race into the clearing, trying to focus on the punk. I slash into him, and the alley wall steams with red mist. He crumples to the stones.
Where is the girl? I've lost track in the mayhem. Surrounded. Blades stabbing like clumsy teeth. Claws a metal blur.clamp down, and bones crack along with armor.
I taste blood. And still there's more.
I see her now. One of the Nails hovers above the girl, his shiv raised. I can stop him.
But the machine pumps again, and my limbs surge with power.
The red haze fills my mind. Everything is a blur. Everything is forgotten.
Everything is blood.
I don't know if I saved the girl. I don't know if I killed her. I'm still biting through flesh when the surviving Nails flee into the darkness.
I turn, following them into the night. I have no choice.
They are the monsters I hunt. And I am one of them.
- In Zaun's Gray-filled streets, the criminal underworld is hunted by an engineered beast.