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Shrike

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"This is classified information!"

This article contains unmarked spoilers. You have been warned.

A building covered in Shrike cells.

Shrike (伯劳, シュライク), classified as Stem Cell Line No. 57 or Cp57, is a type of relic organism created by the Aurora project of the United States during World War Three,[1][2] named after a genus of small birds also called Butcher Bird.[2] It was later weaponized by the URNC and combined with subject Noylu of the Three Goddesses project by William, prompting the Antarctic Union to research anti-Shrike chemicals.

Characters that are Shrike organisms include Lusica, Lige, Sugar and Noylu.

Characteristics[edit]

A Shrike mitotic specimen being repaired by absorbing the cells from the arm of a Sigma Shrike.

The most basic Shrike organism is the Shrike cell, which is capable of assembling into various shapes through mimicry, including human shapes.[3] Shrike cells can undergo mitosis at extremely elevated rates and sentient Shrike organisms can control their cells at will, enabling Shrike organisms to transform their body and summon blood cells constructs. Shrike organisms can also vaporize Shrike cells in the air to create deadly Blood Mist.

Shrike cells can enter a human corpse and take control of it as a Shrike puppet. Shrike cells cannot take control of a living human.[4]

Anti-Shrike measures[edit]

The Aurora project found that Shrike cells can only be reliably eliminated by temperature in excess of 900°C.[2] Flamethrowers have been used for local decontamination,[2][5][6] and incendiary airdrops for wide decontamination.[7]

Mendo Martin and Jefuty are two individuals who received genetic modifications tailored to make their blood produce a serum that kills Shrike cells on contact. Applying such a serum to the mock-nervous system of a Shrike organism will cause it to lose its mimetic abilities and collapse.[8] During operation Bakery, Jefuty and Mendo used blades covered with their own blood and crafted Blood Bullets, Blood Grenades and Blood Traps to fight against Shrike organisms. This is however ineffective against higher forms of Shrike,[9] except when injected directly into their core.[10]

High dosage of Collapse radiation would induce ELID in Shrike cells, leading to their silicification and preventing them from multiplying.[11]

Due to their genetic modifications, the bodies of Antarctican soldiers killed after being reused as Shrike puppets collapse into a Blood Blister containing a fluid with anti-Shrike properties. Elite soldiers with further enhancements produce blue Blood Blisters with even more deleterious effect against Shrikes.[12]

Finally, eliminating a Beta Shrike will damage the entire gestalt mind,[13] while eliminating the Progenitor will kill all organisms psychically connected to it.[14]

Shrike cells can also be kept in stasis inside liquid nitrogen tanks.[2]

History[edit]

Aurora[edit]

In 2048, three years into World War Three, the United States started the R&D program "Aurora" (虹光, sometimes translated “Rainbow Light”) in South America to weaponize ELID infected in response to troops depletion (the Neo-Soviet Union and the Pan-European Alliance developed Tactical Dolls instead). By infecting cheetahs, leopards and bears with low amounts of Collapse fluid, they bred ELID creatures capable of facing armored vehicles, but could not find a way to control them. Months into the project, failed test deployments against left-wing guerrillas forced the ELID Bioweapon Development Unit to refocus its efforts on uncovering how ELID enhanced the biological properties of living organisms. They started cultivating ELID-infected cells and found dozens of gene fragments similar to the DNA of the Black Lily and White Rose project subjects, revealing the source of the subjects' increased physical abilities.

After the United States lost the European front in May 2050, the political tensions became stronger than ever in the US and South America. In August 2050, the Aurora researchers were recalled to the US, but when the American Civil War began, some Aurora researchers left for Europe, where the US still hoped to merge the Aurora unit[15] with Germany's[16] National Special Defense Technology Development Group.[15] The Shrike was among the experiments that escaped destruction and were smuggled to safety in Europe inside a Biosafety Level 5 liquid nitrogen tank. Aurora originally used flamethrowers as makeshift safety procedures, but eventually designed a lab safety system called Bird Catcher, which would incinerate the entire lab in case of a containment incident.[2]

It didn't take long before the merging of the American and German research groups was abandoned, as the German research group was soon disbanded.[15] Mark von Velsen, a professor of Biological Sciences at Heidelberg University who had been excluded from the research team for his anti-war positions, was tasked with evacuating the Shrike to London. The person who tasked von Velsen to protect the Shrike isn't formally identified but could be Vincent Baldassa,[2] former Vice-President of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.[17] Files on von Velsen record that he later committed suicide in London in 2051.[2]

Thorn Collar[edit]

In January 2054, William invited Baldassa to continue his Shrike experiments at his lab in Warsaw.[Note 1] Baldassa believed that there was a reason behind the Shrike's instinctive search for nutrients and William provided him with a Bird Catcher-equipped lab for his experiments.[18] Files on Baldassa declared him missing in Rio de Janeiro in 2056,[17] while he continued his experiments in Warsaw. William himself experimented with using Shrike cells to clone human beings, but faced repeated failures as his subjects appeared to be stillborn and their theoretical life expectancy was less than two years in any case. Baldassa eventually asked William to bring him data about the control system of Pikes, and in 2064, he completed the first theoretical model of the "Thorn Collar" Experimental Battle Control System.[19] The Thorn Collar name may be inspired by the Butcher Bird's habit of impaling insects on thorns.

Inspired by the ternary electromagnetic signals used to control the Pikes, Baldassa started searching for frequencies that would elicit responses from Shrike cells on 4 April 2064. The evening of 6 April, Baldassa found the frequency and excitedly invited William to join him in the lab to demonstrate his Thorn Collar that could “make the soul” that was missing to give life to their Shrike test subjects. The test subject showed signs of life, but then broke confinement. William exited the lab before Baldassa and activated the Bird Catcher system, incinerating the test subject and Baldassa before disposing of the remains of his former colleague to claim the Shrike for himself.[17] The AU would come to consider the Shrike as William's personal weapon,[20] and William did carry a mass of Beta Shrike cells as a portable bodyguard in 2092.[21][22]

Another Thorn Collar prototype was made in 2068 and a third saw live combat trial at an unknown date and location.[19]

Three Goddesses project[edit]

Jefuty and Lige's deadly experiment to find the anti-Shrike formula in later timelines.

At some point during the Three Goddesses project, William dissolved subject Noylu's body into Shrike cells, changing her into a Shrike Progenitor and forcing her to continually generate mitotic specimens to produce a pan-immunosome individual capable of interfacing with relics. The experiment was initially unsuccessful, as the mitotic specimens did not keep Noylu's pan-immunosome properties.[14][23][8] It was surmised that William's end goal was to produce a pan-immunosome under his complete control, which he could use to activate relics without scrutiny from the URNC.[8]

The Thorn Collar also found use during the project,[19] where it gave subject Jefuty sentience in 2079.[24][25] In 2084, William probably showed his Shrike experiments to Philip Martin, causing their professional relationship to break down as Philip disapproved of William's experiments.[24][26] Among rising political tensions between the URNC and the Antarctic Union (AU) and the fear that the Shrike could be used in war, this event might have provided the impetus for Philip and his wife Helena to start secretly searching for an anti-Shrike serum formulation.[8]

In early timelines, before the pact between Jefuty and Lusica, Philip, Helena and Jefuty secretly researched an anti-Shrike serum formulation, but were unable to complete it before the URNC stormed the Three Goddesses project lab[27] in 2085.[28]

In later timelines, the consciousness of a version of Jefuty from 2097 was transferred into the Shrike body of Lusica. This enabled the Jefuty of the new timeline to psychically detect the presence of Lusica's body inhabited by her own alternate mind, though she was oblivious to her nature.[27] Up until then, William had been using Jefuty to psychically survey mass-produced Shrike specimens in search of a pan-immunosome. In 2084, Jefuty detected a Shrike specimen designated “β Organism-19782” she could psychically talk to, and who lacked the natural aggressive tendencies and simple animal mind of the other subjects. Jefuty hid 19782's nature from William and instead asked to keep her alive for further study. Sensing a special connection with 19782, she adopted her as her sister and gave her the name Lige. She then designed a neural inhibitor that would sever Lige's psychic connection to the Progenitor and arranged with Philip and Helena to build the device and perform brain surgery to fit it on Lige.[5][8]

In order to produce the anti-Shrike serum, Philip and Helena relied on genetic alteration of Jefuty's body. Helena at first tested the gene editing on her own body since she was the closest available subject with a genetic structure close to Jefuty's, but eventually could no longer endure the rejection responses and resorted to using her son Mendo as a test subject, on the basis that she had birthed both Mendo and Jefuty. Mendo displayed practically no rejection and the test yielded high-quality data on top of turning him into an anti-Shrike weapon. While Jefuty's blood could already kill Shrike cells in about two minutes, several months would be needed for the genetic factor to stabilize and make her blood instantly effective. However, political tensions between the URNC and the AU caused the URNC to invade the Three Goddesses project labs with militarized Shrike specimens. In the 7922nd timeline switch, William himself killed Philip and Helena, took away Lige's neural inhibitor and attempted to capture Jefuty, who committed suicide and transferred her memories of the incident to another timeline.

The alternate memories were received by Lige, who insisted to perform a drastic experiment using herself as a test subject to determine how to best weaponize Jefuty's blood. Philip prepared a sealed room where Jefuty poured increasing amounts of her blood onto Lige's body, measuring the response time to find the most effective amount. After several trial runs against the attacking specimens and timeline hopping, Jefuty reduced Lige to only her head and concluded that a bullet containing 50mL of her blood, fired directly at a Shrike's nervous system, would cause a Shrike organism to lose its mimetic abilities and collapse. Jefuty then died from the blood mist.[8] Lige recovered the memories she had lost about Lusica's pact during her near-death experience.[27]

Warszawa Incident[edit]

Werewolf team surveying Warsaw before the bombing.

On 6 January 2088, a traffic incident on National Highway 63 out of Warsaw caused[7] Beta Shrike cells[13] to leak out of their confinement tanks. Within three hours, the cells had contaminated an area covering the Vistula and Narew River delta, infecting 8,000 people and placing about 10,000 more at risk of infection. The URNC's Werewolf Commando Team,[7] specifically created to handle Shrike confinement failures,[1] entered the city three hours later, and decided that the situation could not be salvaged. They sealed off the delta by blowing up Highways 610 and 850 accesses, and the URNC European Emergency Department sent a bomber squadron to drop incendiary bombs on all buildings in the area within 12 hours. In all, about 18,000 civilians were killed, including 60 to 80% of potential survivors.[7] Among the survivors were Kirill and Lukasz Sadr, who would remain with the URNC and work from the inside to destroy all Shrike experiments.[13] Oleg Carolin also hated Shrikes due to the incident.[29]

The URNC heavily modified the public report of the incident, claiming that AU Special Forces had attacked a medical shipment containing dangerous bioweapons. The casualty figures were not changed, but it was claimed that they were already all dead by the time of the bombing. Intervention of the Werewolves and the URNC European Emergency Department were also classified.[7] Despite the URNC's propaganda, the AU learned the truth of the incident and high-ranking members of its military were informed of the Shrike's existence.[11] The Werewolves were commended for their handling of the Warszawa Incident and rose to prominence afterwards.[30][7] The original Thorn Collar prototype was also lost during the incident.[19]

At least one high-ranking member of the URNC military was aware that William had arranged the incident, but William's research was too precious to the URNC for him to be court-martialed.[31] At some point, the URNC ordered to cease experiments related to the Shrike before October 2089.[18]

Operation Bakery[edit]

There is no sign that Shrikes were involved in operation Bakery in early timelines, before Jefuty and Lusica's pact, as the AU forces, including former Bakery participants, were at a loss on how to deal with the menace when it appeared in Antarctica. The AU had been aware of the Shrike's existence and made efforts to prevent it from infiltrating Hollow City. After the operation, Jefuty was used by the AU for relic research while completing the anti-Shrike serum research with Colonel Kämpfe's support in 2097. The genetic modification caused Jefuty to lose her access to relics. Shortly after, Lusica infiltrated Hollow City and activated the Antarctic Relic on William's orders. She was then killed by Jefuty and Mendo, and sealed her pact with Jefuty to explore alternative timelines.[27]

In later timelines, Lige was captured by the URNC during the operation and her neural inhibitor removed, making her a part of the URNC's forces under the Progenitor's control. In the Chapter 2 timeline, Jefuty and the AU forces fought Lige in an Epiphyllum field, where they used incendiary grenades to expose Lige to massive doses of Collapse radiations and silicification, slowing her regeneration rate long enough to disable her. Afterwards, Jefuty decided to use a more dangerous method by crafting blood bullets, relying on the anti-Shrike properties of her own body,[11] but reached Lige too late in the URNC base's lab and was killed by Lige under the Progenitor's control.[32]

In the Chapter 3 timeline, Jefuty reached the lab before Lige fell under the Progenitor's control and injected her with heavy doses of tranquilizers.[21] Lige still fell under the Progenitor's influence some time later and massacred the Antarctican soldiers protecting her from the URNC. Lige briefly regained consciousness after fighting Jefuty and asked her to use her blood to kill her for good. Jefuty, who had suffered a massive wound from fighting Sugar, embraced Lige, dissolving her, before also ending her life.[12]

In the early Chapter 4 timelines, Jefuty arrived early enough at the lab and had enough support from the AU to enter Lige's Virtual Cognition Image and fight off the Shrike consciousness. This enabled Lige to repel the Progenitor's influence for a time,[33] but she eventually still lost control to the Progenitor.[34][9] During these attempts, Jefuty learned that Colonel Beria was in possession of Lige's neural inhibitor,[35] and realized that he and Kirill probably held a grudge against Shrikes and assumed that she was one too after learning about Lige's nature.[13] Jefuty also concluded from Sugar's ability to track down Lige that she was a Beta Shrike under William's orders.[9][36]

In later Chapter 4 timelines, Jefuty negotiated with Beria to acquire Lige's neural inhibitor in exchange of blood bullets to kill Sugar.[13] Beria and Kirill fought Sugar but were killed, passing their Battle Fortress onto the AU.[37] After being taken down during the battle of Larne, Sugar revealed her nature as a Shrike Progenitor and assembled all Shrike cells in the area[10] before trapping the elite AU forces in the city with a wall of Shrike cells. TASA forces eventually arrived to burn the wall with flamethrowers and Jefuty and Lige escaped, but all their companions were killed by the Shrikes.[38]

In the Chapter 5 timeline, the AU successfully used blood armament to force Sugar into a Reflection of the Progenitor form, before entering its body and killing its heart with blades coated in Jefuty and Mendo's blood.[39]

Shrike organisms observed during operation Bakery[edit]

Shrike Progenitor[edit]

Also known as “Parental Subject”[27] or Σ Shrike (Sigma Shrike), it designates the central organism of a Shrike gestalt mind, which possesses free will and the greatest regeneration power.[14] They are said to be composed of original Shrike cells.[10][27] Jefuty also posited that the natural function of the Shrike's gestalt mind was for the mitotic specimens to act as servants to hunt for the Progenitor.[23]

Known Shrike Progenitors are Noylu and Sugar. William had several under his command.[40]

There is some confusion around the proper use of the terms “Progenitor” and “Reflection of the Progenitor”. The worldview treats the terms as synonyms,[14] but it remains unexplained why Sugar, designated as a Progenitor herself,[10][27] could track down and psychically connect to Lige, and summoned Shrike organisms with the same form as Lige, who was a descendant of Noylu.

β Shrike (Beta Shrike)[edit]

Beta Shrikes are stronger forms of the Mitotic Specimen and called the backbone of the Shrike gestalt mind. They are capable of creating, controlling and accelerating the regeneration of mitotic specimens with their own cells,[13] and infecting dead organisms to take control of them. They are also said to have a certain amount of self-awareness being repressed by the Progenitor.[41] Destroying a Beta Shrike deals damage to the entire gestalt mind and to its Progenitor.[13]

Lige is classified as a Beta Shrike.[22]

Lusica[edit]


A shrike based on Jefuty's DNA,[42] Lusica is the only known instance of a Shrike mitotic specimen who retained her pan-immunosome abilities. As such, she possessed a Virtual Consciousness Image, could perform consciousness resonance with other pan-immunosome lifeforms, activate relics and access Nirvana.[8] Though she could act independently, she remained under the surveillance of the Progenitor. William used her to activate relics, causing “the end of the world”, and Lusica came to resent him to the point that she made a pact with Jefuty to create a timeline where she would prevent her own creation.[27]

Shrike Mitotic Specimen[edit]

Body clones of Lige, without a mind of their own and acting either on predatory instinct or under the direct control of the Progenitor.[43] When one of these organisms falls in battle, others can absorb its remains to boost their own power.[44]

Shrike puppets[edit]

While Shrike cells cannot take control of living human bodies, they can take over dead bodies to use them as Shrike puppets. Shrike puppets are more resilient than living humans, but are vulnerable to anti-Shrike weaponry. During operation Bakery, puppets had a tendency to violently explode on death to cause further damage after being incapacitated.

Blood structures[edit]

Beta Shrikes are able to attack by forming Blood Thorns, growing them from a nearby surface.

Sigma Shrikes can additionally create many more blood structures:

  • Blood Palms are tree-like amalgamations generating Blood Mist and Blood Fruits.
  • Blood Fruits are gestation pods where raw Shrike cells can be assembled into the equivalents of Shrike puppets without the need of a base body.
  • Blood Cocoons can form around other organisms to kill them and transform them into Shrike puppets.
  • Blood Vines are tentacles-like structures that can take control of mechanisms.
  • Pupils Matrices are control nodes found inside massive Shrike structures.[39]

Notes[edit]

  1. In the email in Cp57 Experiment Records, William invites Baldassa to come to Heidelberg instead of Warsaw, the location where the Shrike experiments take place in every other source. NSC-68 also confirms that William was in charge of the labs in Warsaw. This could be an error or an unclear reference to Heidelberg being used as a stop on the way to Warsaw.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reverse Collapse Worldview#Shrike Cell
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Cp57 Special Experimental Materials
  3. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reverse Collapse Worldview#Mimicry
  4. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 5, Act 2
  5. 5.0 5.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 2, Act 4
  6. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 3, Prologue
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Warszawa Incident Investigation Records
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Memory Fragments
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Mutual Destruction
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, The Final Battle I
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 2, Act 7
  12. 12.0 12.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 3, Act 8
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Negotiation & Confrontation
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reverse Collapse Worldview#Progenitor
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Experimental Unit "Aurora" Mission Overview
  16. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Copy of Philip's Work Notes
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Small Raptor Photography Project
  18. 18.0 18.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Cp57 Experiment Records
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#"Thorn Collar" Test Data
  20. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#NSC-68
  21. 21.0 21.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 3, Act 5
  22. 22.0 22.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 3, Act 7
  23. 23.0 23.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 2, Act 6
  24. 24.0 24.1 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Copy of Philip's Work Notes
  25. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#"Carpenter" Working Group Record 1
  26. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Razor Surveillance Report: Subject Information
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 27.7 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 5, Act 1
  28. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reverse Collapse Worldview#Philip
  29. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 3, Act 2
  30. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reverse Collapse Worldview#Werewolf Commando Team
  31. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Secret Documents#Warszawa Incident Original Report
  32. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 2, Act 9
  33. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Blood Horror & Nightmare
  34. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Eviction Notice & All-Consuming
  35. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Night Scouting & Lure the Enemy
  36. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Dead End
  37. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Rapid Advance & Treacherous Road
  38. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, The Final Battle II
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 5, Act 3
  40. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reflection of the Progenitor unit description
  41. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reverse Collapse Worldview#β Shrike
  42. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 5, Act 1, “Too bad I'm not an ordinary Shrike. […] I'm a perfect Shrike cells replica of your fully-immune body.”
  43. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Reverse Collapse Worldview#Mitotic Specimen
  44. Reverse Collapse: Code Name Bakery, Chapter 4, Honeypot