la Plaga Carmesí
Héctor Jiménez is dead. A monster remains.
I am no human.
Low, due to his status as a [albeit unwilling] serial murderer and target for experimentation. He makes due with whatever he has.
Late 40s at time of mutation. Aging process has halted significantly, if not entirely.
Brown, previously, now bald.
Brown, previously, now white.
Base of Operations:
80s—90s: Medellín, Colombia
90s—2010s: Atlanta, Georgia; CDC Headquarters
2010s—2017: Mérida, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
2018: N/A [United States]
Dual; Colombia & United States
Have a seat. I'm going to tell you a story.
There's a tale that mothers tell their children, in various tows and cities in Mexico. It rose in popularity due to the spree of killings that occurred across the country in early 2018.
Héctor Jiménez was a small boy born to a house of 4 in Medellín, towards the tail-end of fall. Ever since he was un niño
, he had the idea in his head that he was going to help make the world a better place. When he grew older he took up an interest in medicine and the sciences; eventually, his resolved that he was to become a doctor and travel the country, helping poor villages and communities in need. Through demonstrations of his intellect and the achievement of high marks throughout his high-school career, he was able to attend la Universidad Nacional de Colombia
and complete his Bachelor of Medicine degree.
The 80s and 90s marked a period of major strife in Colombia, sprouting from the conflict between various cartels within the region and influence from the CIA of the United States. Medellín, the city that housed the university in which Jiménez studied and earned his degree at, was a major area of operations for these cartels. His expertise in medicine, particularly the synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, made him a prime target for branches of these cartels in cocaine labs around the country. There were rumors circulating that pharmaceutical doctors had been regularly kidnapped by the Cali and Medellín cartels in order to boost quality and oversight of their product, but Jiménez never directly believed them, let alone thought that it would happen to him. But it did.
There's a sense of compliance that arises in one's mind when a gun is pressed to the back of their skull. For Jiménez, the choice was either working with the Medellín Cartel in the creation and refinery of narcotics, or a gruesome execution. Naturally, he chose the former.
The doctor's captivity went on for about a year and a quarter before Escobar was shot and killed in the city he once essentially ruled over. As la Policía Nacional de Colombia
liberated the small bunker lab the doctor had been held in, the reality of the world dawned upon Jiménez. The cycle would continue, and various other cartels would fill the vacuum that the Medellín variation left. Tyrants could exercise their power as much as they saw fit, but their empires would crumble at some point. Escobar was gone and the Medellín cartel began to disintegrate, yes, but a new tyrant had stepped in the moment his previous captors had left: the United States.
Their bargain? Come work for us, or spend the rest of your life in a 7 cubic foot cell.
It wasn't that hard of a decision; the United States didn't seem so eager to throw away a top mind in Colombia, and Jiménez wasn't eager to throw away his life out of spite. The doctor traveled to the US and completed his MD, and was immediately placed into a branch of the CDC that dealt with infectious diseases and treatment options. Life remained easy and relatively boring for Jiménez over the next two decades, and he liked it that way. He found it easier to work in an actual lab rather than among dirtied equipment and barely-paid workers, and he showed his gratitude by developing various patents for treatment of chronic illnesses. In 2003, he married an American woman by the name of Grace Davison, becoming Grace Jiménez, and in 2005 had a son by the name of Cristián Jiménez. For all intents and purposes, the life the doctor had made for himself was a good one.
Until April 25th, 2013.
For almost anybody else, the 25th of April was just another date. Jiménez considered it a turning point in his life as it was the day he was diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative disease that had caused cancer-like tumors to form in his brain. He was lucky enough to remain relatively unimpeded by the onset of these tumors, though a pressure on his frontal lobe changed his personality. He became incredibly distant from once-close colleagues and friends, and the progression became so drastic that he stopped spending time with his family entirely. Jiménez became absorbed in his research, intent on finding a cure for his disease. After all he had been through, this would not
be how he left this Earth; he had too much to do. His entire life, he had been railroaded and forced into what he had to become. And now, when he finally felt happy for the first time in decades... everything was about to be taken from him.
What he also realized was that his son was at a substantial risk for the disease. If it was to affect Cristián, there had to be a cure made. Jiménez reasoned that his devotion to a cure, even a treatment for this disease would be worth it solely based on the reason that his son could have peace of mind.
The change in personality for Jiménez led him to become increasingly paranoid in his last few months of service to the CDC. The thought of the United States repossessing his work and marketing it was always in the back of his mind following the diagnosis and subsequent spiral, and it came to a tee in mid-October of 2017. Not only had the US government expressed a need for claiming his work, but other corporations came to him with offers— even threats— for his research. Jiménez knew that if those in power couldn't acquire what they wanted by peace, they would take it by force. So he fled, like a coward.
He couldn't take his family, no, that would have been to hard on them; so he left alone, facing an uncertain future with nothing but a trial schematic and diagram of the treatment for synthesis at a lab. He could trust nobody in the United States, so he fled south of the border. To Mexico. His time in South and Central America had opened up connections. Earned him favor with the right people to supply him with what he needed. He just prayed that the cheques en blanco
wouldn't bounce. Thankfully, he found refuge in Mérida on the Yucatan Peninsula. Jiménez was able to set up a rudimentary lab and began the synthesis of his "cure".
It took months to perfect the physical form, and the end result was a red-tinted liquid that even Jiménez himself didn't have confidence in. A quick trial on lab animals with the relatively same affliction he had revealed that it miraculously eliminated all traces of the diseased tumors and rebuilt the structure of the damaged brain. He cried at the results.
What he didn't account for, however, was time. After finding that the disease's effects were reversed, he immediately prepared an IV with the fluid and began transfusion into the bloodstream. That was when he noticed that the rats he had tested began to act strange. Violent. Turning an odd tint of color, growths sprouting from their bodies and twisting around them. Mutating them. By the time he realized the horrible side-effects, the IV had been emptied. He quickly incinerated the remains of the corrupted rats and prayed to God his case would be different.
It came in distinct pulses, emanating from the site of the intravenous cannula and radiating outwards through his entire body. The doctor grabbed at the inside of his arm, desperately applying pressure to contain the hemorrhage of blood from the place of injection. Crimson poured down his arm like a fountain and stained the concrete ground beneath him. Jiménez rushed to the door of his lab but collapsed halfway across the room, his legs refusing to work. His muscles began to twitch and spasm.
After the pain was an intense heat, as if his blood was raised to a boiling point throughout the entirety of his veins and arteries. His blood came alive, thrashing around inside of him and breaking open into organs and skin. Blood oozed from his eyes, mouth, nostrils, ears. It came from underneath his fingernails, from his hair follicles. Any place it could escape, it did. A question flashed across the doctor's mind for a brief moment before being swept away in a tide of suffering: how am I still awake? How am I still alive?
The seeping blood coagulated quickly once on the surface of his body, becoming a writhing, crimson mass of tendrils and stretched tar that began to systematically cover his body. Somehow, through the fog of indescribable pain, Jiménez began to inch towards the doorway, hand toppling over hand to grab the ground and propel himself further. With each passing attempt the hands which he once called his own became alien in appearance, digits blackening and lengthening into sharp talons. The burst veins within his body turned black in appearance, distinguishing themselves from the red hue that had overtaken his body. Arms cracked and lengthened somewhat, though the pain of these mutations were lost in the wave of fire that had spread across his body.
Jiménez screamed in pain, though no sound came out beyond the morbid coughing of blood. Teeth became sharpened knives, stretching and warping into fine razor-sharp points. The living blood that had coursed over his body soon enveloped his eyes and face, blinding him completely before finally reaching his brain, sending him spiraling into darkness. For a moment, the doctor was completely brain dead.
And then, life.
Death would have been a welcome escape from the redounding waves of pain that crashed through him upon awakening. He screamed again, sound finally exiting his unrecognizable mouth; a horrific hiss escaped into the night air, and anyone in the area would have thought it to be some sort of animal.
Vision returned to the thing, as did control over its body. Desperately, it clawed its way towards a mirror that sat above one of the lab's many counters. Pitifully, it managed to raise itself and stare at its reflection.
What stared back at him was a demon.
In a sick, twisted way, the serum had cured him. It had caused his neurodegenerative disease to increase in scale tenfold, affecting his entire body and spreading the cancerous growths until they were the only thing that remained. He, himself, had become the disease he had worked endlessly to cure. The jagged and horrific mutations came as a result from the rushed synthesis of the cure, as not enough care was taken to properly documents its complete effects. To think that he would have avoided a fate worse than death had he just waited a small bit longer was insulting to him, and the one thought of self-destruction he held in his mind as he succumbed to his transformation.
Hector Jiménez died that day. What took his place was not a man. It may have held the same memories, the same emotions, but it was something else entirely. A physical manifestation of a plague, the antithesis of what Jiménez stood and fought for.
At the onset of 2018, a series of random killings began occurring in rural Mexican villages and towns. The trend showed a path upwards, towards the United States border; the evidence left at crime scenes was an unidentified black substance, which after close examination was found to be dried blood belonging to no known organism. The quick deterioration of this substance left no time for analysis or study.
As a result, mothers began to warn their children at night. Before bed, they warned of a diablo rojo that would visit their nightmares and impose upon them an incurable sickness, one that would only serve to cause them agony and suffering. Once the last killing had ended in El Paso, the story faded from relevancy; however, the myth of the "crimson plague" prevailed.
Ten Cuidado con la Plaga Carmesí.
Following the horrific accident in Mérida, Jiménez as he once was had died. The man who, at a point, would have done right by his family, no matter the cost, was gone.
The doctor is now noticeably paranoid in his conversations and reasonings. His innate fear of others seeing his mutated form leads him to completely stay away from social circles and populated gatherings, which in turn has contributed heavily to the gradual unwinding of his mental state. The entire ordeal has pushed him to the brink of sanity; what composure he retains is due to the need for survival, and the far-fetched hope that one day he might be able to cure his affliction and return to the life he once knew.
Despite all these impeding factors, he still retains his brilliance. The man is no savage, and realizes that his appearance is heavily... off-putting to most members of the populace. He was a quiet man before the horrific mutation; he is an even quieter one now.
There are points where, if his anger has risen substantially, he slips into bouts of hysteria and becomes a primal force of terror and aggression. Trauma has also proven to cause these lapses of reason and intelligent thought. Though he doesn't know the exact reasoning as to why, the manifestation of the disease in his brain and the serum's effect upon it is a likely culprit. He's likely to warn others if he feels himself slipping into a state of hysteria.
There has been a notable decrease in Jiménez's empathy. Seeing as he was behind a wave of killings through Mexico, one could assume so without much background. The doctor's devotion lies solely to secure his research from meddling hands, something that has already started in the wake of his apparent death. His family, however... still holds a spot in his heart.
As a result of the serum, Jiménez's blood had mutated into a highly volatile, cancerous substance that spread throughout the entirety of his body; this is due in part to the method in which the serum was injected. His entire circulatory system was compromised as a result of the cure's intravenous delivery. The changes, as far as Jiménez has observed, are irreversible by conventional means.
In addition to a superior intellect caused by the growth of his brain and skull, Jiménez's mutated body boasts an extremely efficient method of regeneration. Given the advanced regeneration of cells that the serum afflicted Jiménez with, he is able to come back from most injuries in a matter of minutes. Limb removal, depending on level of severity, can take hours to days to completely heal. He shows an increased vulnerability to fire, seeing as incineration was his method of killing off lab-tested animals affected by the serum. The chitinous plating around his body and head protect very well against varying degrees of attacks.
Head injuries, while within the realm of possibility for regeneration, take a substantial time for his body to recover from. While physical recovery takes the standard amount of time for other limbs, the memory loss and lapses in mental clarity take longer for his body to find and rectify. After a suicide attempt a few days following his mutation, he was left without memory of his family or identity for around two weeks. It was during this time that the killings in Mexico were the most frequent.
In addition to regeneration, Jiménez can produce chitinous tendrils that are able to break through varying degrees of metal and armored plating, depending on the time and effort given. When destroyed or broken off, the available pieces retreat to Jiménez and reform around him. He can produce varying sizes of these bladed tendrils, depending on the amount of biomass he can devote to them. In addition to sharpened forms, Jiménez is able to control slack and slithering variations of these tendrils for non-combat purposes [e.g. sliding limbs under lock doors to open them, covering cameras]. Each piece of biomass separated from his body is still considered a connection to his body and can return at any time. Given the slight adhesive properties of the substance making up his body, Jiménez is able to attach these distended tendrils to surfaces and pull himself towards them, allowing for increased mobility.
Among the boosts to Jiménez body is the increased sensitivity of hearing and eyesight, the former of which is affected the most. The drawback of this superhuman hearing is his susceptibility to concussive and sound-based attacks directed towards his body. He can forcefully cover his ears with the malleable biomass covering his body, but his hearing is still affected nonetheless. Agility has also increased in his new form, as has speed and strength.
The Search for Jiménez
"In recent news, a string of gruesome killings has effected Mexican communities over the past few months. Originally starting in the Yucatan Peninsula, the trend shows an upwards— if not sporadic— travel towards the United States. The CIA has issued—"
"— el suspechoso llamado Hectoro Jiménez, un cientifico farmacéutico que huido a Mexico delos Estados Unidos. Examinacion de los restos quemado en una facilidad de almacenamiento que el convertido en un bùnker—"
"— is this man still alive? We do not know. His research and laboratory have been completely torched, and the unidentified remains of one man that fits the doctor's profile were recovered. It seems a highly unlikely chance that he is involved in these murders.
"Dr. Jiménez's defection to Mexico was sudden. It was speculated that he was working on a cure for an advanced and rare form of Huntington's Disease. It was also confirmed that cancerous tumors had developed in his brain.
All of his research had been torched, and the US Government is working to find and claim any remaining schematics or patents that the late doctor had designed. Alex Janisse, CBS evening news. Good night."
The cure for cancer, people had called it. As if that was what I had created. No, I had made something far worse— I attempted to play God, and I suffered the consequences. People jumped to conclusions about how I had been assassinated, or that I had found the cure and faked my death. Those rumors were true, partly. In a way, Jiménez was dead. I am the only thing that remains of him.
The Sinaloa Cartel had made quite an effort to take my research for their own purposes. In my... new form, I was able to fend them from taking any vital documents. They escaped with some papers and notes, but not enough to make sense of anything. I'd written it in specifically that way; a puzzle of sorts. The only way to get the full picture is to have all the pieces together...
The United States will have found out about the body in my torched lab. They will have found out that it was a fake, planted there as a way to throw them off for just a while. Enough for me to get to the border. From there, it was only a matter of beating them to my stored research. I'd communicated with my wife; sent her vital documents. A copy of my research. I made her promise to keep it a secret, lest it fall into the government's hands. Or worse. I have no doubt that there are those out in the world who would want me, too; experimentation, biopsies on a live source would be the best method of studying. I would have to prevent that from happening, too. I've gone on too long to start trusting my superiors.
I just... pray that my wife kept her end of the bargain.