I ran. I don't remember how long it was for, but I ran. I was just so afraid. Afraid of what would happen if I stopped running. Terry's screams were still in my ears as I rounded the corner, looking for someone, anyone who would be willing to help me.
I thought I found someone willing, one of those groups you hear about, folks who know what we know. I figured as long as I didn't make a show of things, they'd let me go on my way and not try to kill me. They worked fast against the chimera I'd run into, even the zombies. I wanted to thank them before they left.
Then one of them took out a cell phone. "New acquisition acquired." That's when I realized how deep in shit I was.
The Infected know they aren't alone. The world is full of dark secrets, of which they are only a small number. Dead things walk the streets, sucking the blood of the living. Vicious shape-shifters battle with men who control lightning for a deserted forest, while cobbled-together corpses and creatures right out of children's books hide away from gun-toting zealots and men seemingly possessed by ghosts. Never mind rumors of mad scientists, fish walking on land and girls using light to blast their enemies into dust. No one said being Infected was easy, though, so it's not like anyone has a right to complain.
Of course, the infected themselves have dozens of their own theories on what the other monsters are, but each theory gets contradicted by the evidence they see. Vampires are a virus, unless of course they create themselves. The reanimated are just pieces of infected flesh put together again, unless they have evidence of never being sick before. And don't get them started on the werewolf theories.
At first glance, vampires seem to have much in common with the Infected. Both are forced by their conditions to shun humanity at large, to hide away and forgo human contact, for fear of their inner natures. This, however, is some of the closest similarities you can get to.
While the Infected fear their inner natures, vampires seem to almost revel in it, freely consuming the people around them and even willingly spreading their "beast" to others. When an Infected encounters a vampire turning a human being into another vampire, an Infected can't help but draw comparisons between what the vampires do and what their own disease wants. Vampires are the darkness of being something not quite human anymore, of being powerful yet alien.
Protectors hate vampires, because of their habits of feeding on innocent people who don't even know that they're being assaulted. Vampires, for their part, seem to pay no attention to the Infected, except when they step in between a vampire and their goals, whatever those goals might be.
Despite being unable to truly pierce the masquerade that shrouds vampire-kind, one group has been identified. Calling themselves the Ordo Dracul, they claim to want to study the Infected, to find out the reasons for their being, as well as making some measure of insight into what the Infection really wants. Some Infected have used this strange partnership to try to pry information out of the Dracul about vampire society at large, but nothing truly concrete has yet been learned.
Werewolves have proven difficult for the Infected to understand. Werewolves are able to easily blend in with society most of the time, and at least try to make the world better from what has been seen. That they pursue the Infected for being "possessed", or "ridden", or any other type of adjective doesn't help matters.
The Infected have tried to figure out how the werewolves are able to control their abilities, since they affect the body just as much as Infection. Some think it's a sort of retrovirus, bringing mankind back down a few steps on the tree of life, back to a simpler form. Others think that a werewolf has learned to live in symbiosis with their disease, allowing it a host in which to survive while using the abilities of the sickness inside it for it's own ends. Complicating matters are the claims of spirits, concepts and ideas given form that the werewolves claim to battle. Some think this is actually the key, that their sickness is spiritual in nature, a consciousness that comes from somewhere else than Earth that has decided to ravage their bodies. Whether or not there can be any evidence found to support this theory is another matter.
Frankly, werewolves don't like to interact with the infected, seeing them as sick members of the herd to be avoided and shunned, if not outright culled. Few are the werewolves willing to talk with an Infected, since the unnatural actions of an Infected so closely mirror a spirit-ridden individual.
Is the Infection a mage experiment gone wrong, so horribly that it's affects are still being felt by reality? Those Infected who have made contact with the Awakened seem to think so, or at least have a few ideas on what might have happened.
With stories of Atlantis at the forefront of a mage's reason for gaining their powers, the Infected feel almost jealous. Why did this person get the powers and get their humanity intact, they can ask. After all, an Infected individual walks a fine line, a tightrope of possibly watching themselves fall deeper and deeper into the clutches of what is ruining their bodies and minds. Mages, however, seem to be able to get even more power, with no seeming restriction on their own bodies or souls for what they do. As some Infected "scholars" have discovered, those who envy the power of a mage sometimes develop a greenish coloration around the eyes.
Along with stories about possibly fictitious ancient civilizations, the Infected hear tales of hoodoo healers in the West Virginia mountains, vodun healers from Louisiana, and even Eastern alchemists who uses the bodies own energies to either heal or harm. Some Infected have traveled hither and yon to find out if these practitioners could give a cure, but if someone has found the miracle, they haven't reported it back yet.
What the Infected know about mages is just that there are factions, and those factions don't always get along. Anything else is pure conjecture on the little evidence they have. Some mages appear to be actively researching the infected, others simply kill them without hesitation. These actions have done nothing to help the Infected get any kind of dialogue with mages as a whole.
As far as monsters in the world go, comparisons are quickly drawn between the creatures known as Prometheans and the Infected. Both must shun society, for the fear of what would happen if their truth was discovered. You would think that hearing this, an Infected and Promethean would be, if not friends, at least companions on their lonely roads.
As is often the case, the similarities end at the skin. The Infected are still like any other human when it comes to Prometheans, meaning their souls and emotions are still affected by the disquiet that surrounds a Promethean. But what about the other half, the fact that the disease itself takes control? What does it do when a Promethean is in the area? Despite all attempts, the Infected haven't found a connection between their condition and interactions with the Created. But what they have discovered surprises them.
The Prometheans, to hear them tell it, are brought to life by being created from the pieces of corpses either by other prometheans or humans, so driven, that their need to create drew the attentions of something greater. Various types do exist, five aligned with the classic four elements and the same element that seems to create ghosts. Rumors have also been heard of one type made out of nuclear energy, but such creatures haven't been found by the Infected yet.
Prometheans have had a shaky introduction to the Infected, mistaking them as the creators of chimera mistaken for Pandorans. Despite the introduction and issues presented, the Prometheans have continued to make overtures of connection to the Infected, claiming to see them as objects of study, of a human being losing themselves to a new nature. Despite the sentiment, the Infected take such statements with worry and fear.
When the first Infected to start networking with one another looked at the wider world, they realized that something was lurking in the shadows sometimes, following them closely, even in daylight. Looking around, they only ever noticed normal human beings in the area, but out of the corner of their eyes, they saw shapes and figures of things far beyond mere human condition. So when a group of animalistic monsters approached an Infected and asked him who his master was, he was confused up until they attacked him. Calling his own allies, the Infected discovered that some fairy tales are more true than anyone ever thought.
The Infected haven't made much of an effort to understand the creatures calling themselves changelings, probably because they stick to their own corner of existence, and the Infected to theirs. Both fear capture, and keep to themselves to prevent being noticed. The two have little reason to interact, but when they do, it often quick and without any real conflict.
The changelings take a similar position, and stick to their own freeholds and courts. If anything does make the two go into conflict, no one can tell the reaction.
Hunters, to be blunt, scare the Infected to no end. People react with fear and anger when confronted with something beyond their normal experience, and the Infected are no exception to that. So when an Infected meets someone who isn't scared, but stands firm, and is maybe even emboldened by the encounter, it frightens them just as much. To the Infected, the fact that there are people hunting monsters makes them feel less at ease when there are so many like them who act like monsters. Even worse, trying to explain the difference to these "hunters" usually gets an Infected nothing more than a slug between the eyes and a burned corpse. It's not the fact that they kill the Infected, though. If the simple fact that the hunters are what the world would do to the Infected if it woke up and realized what was happening around them. The lucky Infected would be killed, the unlucky taken away for God only knew what in a secret government or corporate lab.
What the Infected have managed to figure out is small snippets of information about the hunters from those who were once holding the Vigil themselves. Some came from small groups of friends or family devoted to defeating the monsters wherever they revealed themselves. Others part of large networks, spread loosely about to fight as best they could. Still more say they came from shadowy cabals dedicated to keeping mankind in the dark about the monsters like them, all the better to keep the panicky public complacent and docile. But no one seems to know everything about every group, no matter what is attempted.
Of the Infected, only those who take up the mantle of the Protectors have anything even resembling civil relations with any hunter groups. The like-minded goals of giving people safety from the monsters in the night resonates strongly, and encounters with hunters possessing strange and otherworldly abilities has given some Protectors a new light to themselves. They take it as proof that humanity is not without inherent supernatural abilities.
Of all the hunter groups, the ones identified by the Infected at large are a group called Null Mysteriis, who work tirelessly to study and potentially cure those Infected willing to undergo treatment, Network Zero, an internet movement dedicated to directing light and cameras into the dark corners of existence, and the Union, a group of regular people who want nothing more than the monsters to stay away from their jobs and homes. Other groups have been theorized, though, including priests wielding hellfire, a shadow corporation, and literal government men in black. Who are these hunters? No one has yet found a definitive answer.
Interestingly, the Infected seem to know a lot more about Sin-Eaters than nearly every other group of beings associated with the paranormal, because of a group called "The Stricken". It seems the Sin-Eaters realize something the Infected don't, but whatever they try to find out from these apparently resurrected individuals, they're found nothing but angry ghosts and deadly dead men.
What the Infected know for sure is that Sin-Eaters are, or were, most definitely dead and came back thanks to some kind of ghost. What's worse, some appear to be able to manipulate ATP zombies in manners similar to other Infected. Others can use ghosts to attack their enemies, claiming they're stopping the Infected from spreading their disease. If there is a greater reason, the Infected don't yet know.
As for Sin-Eaters, they just know that the Infected are monsters, and approach with caution. Even if they aren't dead or causing deaths, they still aren't trusted with complete immunity.
A Genius is driven by the need to discover. They dive into their pocket dimensions with impossible machines, and bring out devices and samples that don't exist unless something went horribly wrong with physics while it wasn't looking. They wage war with each other in the backstreets and in the distant plains. The same places the Infected try to hide out mostly.
What do the Infected know about the mad scientists who commit these acts? As usual, not much. A few Infected have tried to go to these men and women for help, but have only walked back out either with their hope crushed, or worse of than before. The Geniuses an Infected can contact will usually be fired on, the Inspired shouting about "manes" and "mania" and other strange terms. What does matter is that the laser guns and killer robots make a strong point for the Infected not to associate.