[i]The man stumbles, his vision cloudy. Something compels him to work his way deeper, into the heart of the complex. He stumbles against the reactor, still running despite the disaster outside. He feels his strength fading, as his insides liquify.
He dies, and something inside of him begins to grow.
It feels the hum of the engines, the energy that makes the corpses hairs stand on end.
It feeds, first distending the skin, a tumor on the back of the dead man, until it splits and a thick stalk unfurls into the air, dripping and glistening, more like a creature freshly born rather than a plant unfurling from a seed. At the end, a bud grows, eventually blooming not into a flower but a bundle of tendrils, each one ending in a translucent egg-sac in which a creature grows.
As they grow, the sacs fall off, and from them emerge the root drones - creatures with blank stares, swaying in place until commands are issued from their parent, and then scurrying off to insure the Power Plant or other power source remains operation so that it’s parent can continue to feed, powered by the warped knowledge of a dying engineer.
Runners emerge from the base of the corpse, seeking, following the eyes of the drones, finding new corpses and allowing new pods to form into new stalks, to insure less of the Plant’s power is lost, frittered away into the outside world, until the entire Plant is under their control.
But the spread is interrupted. An intruder is detected. The stalks turn, focusing on this new threat. The drones swarm.
A powerful creature, half-man half-machine, has entered their domain, clad in the armor of advanced science and wielding a weapon that launches powerful blasts of energy.
A threat, to most, but to the Bloom, it is little more than a wonderful meal. In moments, the armor becomes a prison, as it’s joints lock up and its batteries are drained. The bionics that once made this man powerful outside of his armor refuse to work, to respond, to function. Even his weapon, pulling from a now dead UPS, is worthless.
The drones swarm as the stalks feed.[/i]
Leach Pods form in corpses, and have a small radius through which they can quite rapidly drain energy from the player’s batteries and disable the function of powered equipment in the player’s inventory. All members of the leech family also quickly drain electric vehicles, disable robots, and prevent shocker zombies from using their special attack. They can form anywhere, but are only truly common in the new area known as the Power Plant.
Leech Stalks form from Leech Pods, and have a very large area of effect that increases in intensity as you get closer.
Leech Blossoms only appear near regular power sources, where electricity continues to be generated. Power Plants and Automated Centers (Police bot centers, for example), and more rarely private generators. Leech blossoms are accompanied by drones, a population they replenish over time, and will grow additional pods and stalks from all nearby corpses. If the Bloom is killed, but other stalks or pods are allowed to live, they will form a new Bloom, although only one Bloom will ever be active at a time.
Though they are not direct threats, with only the Root Drones capable of outright attacking the player, but they can appear alongside other dangerous creatures and pose a significant problem to those who rely on the powers of modern technology, as they suddenly find themselves with all of the penalties and none of the benefit of powered equipment.
Power Plants are a new area that are inhabited by these creatures, and the main place you are likely to encounter Root Drones.