0600h, Curious Observatory
The following dawn, Vidcund and Lazlo Curious reported for telescope duty at the highest decks of their Curious Observatory.
They reviewed the “security footage” for the night, captured by their self-configured telescope-video camera hybrids, and concluded that the coast was clear for the entire night. Besides, they had set an alarm to trigger in their bedrooms if the cameras detected any signs of significant movement from either Specter Yard or Beaker Castle. The alarm had been silent all night.
Now, the brothers peered through the telescopes in person, and concluded that the coast is clear now. So Vidcund sent a signal to the Smith residence.
Within three minutes, Vidcund and Lazlo saw four brightly-clad figures emerge from Jenny Smith’s house. Their brother Pascal Curious, Johnny Smith, Lola and Chloe Curious-Smith were dispatched for the mission to save Nervous Subject.
“What a uniform!”(*) remarked Lazlo. “Team Curious for the win!”
“Heh heh. PT loved it, because it goes well with the green skintone,” Vidcund mused. “At first, I thought loud colors would be bad for a stealth mission. But if the zombies show up again, it’ll be easier for us to identify each other.”
0605-0610h, Charge of Team Curious
“Don’t be afraid to bust the Beakers’ heads if you must! Can’t expect the zombies to do all the hard work!”
That was PT9’s rallying call before Team Curious left the house. Those words bothered Johnny immensely, as they made their way up Beaker Hill. He finally could contain it no longer.
“Guys, do you find it strange that Dad would encourage us to hurt the Beakers? Dad is normally not so enthusiastic about others getting hurt”. The rest nodded.
Pascal put his arm on Johnny’s shoulder. “We should focus on the task. Get Nervous, and get out. Try not to die.” More nods followed.
0615h, Grunt Boot Camp
Ripp Grunt was still yawning as he walked downstairs for breakfast. How he managed not to sleep through his ridiculously-early alarm, he would never know.
As usual, General Buzz Grunt and Tank were up before him, already dressed, and seated for the morning meal. Lyla entered the dining room, and took her seat at the table too. But the table had been set for only one more person. Ripp shot a quizzical look at his parents.
“Dad, Mom, where is Buck?”
“Buck left five minutes ago,” said Lyla. “He’s going to a summer camp in Desiderata Valley. Jenny Smith is driving him there, with her daughter Jill.”
“Your mother didn’t want her youngest child involved in this ‘civil war’,” interjected the General. “I wasn’t fond of the idea of Buck travelling with that alien’s wife, but we are shorthanded here, so we don’t have much of a choice.”
Ripp frowned. He was particularly peeved at not being included in this summer camp arrangement. Surely they could send him to one for teens? Besides, Buck would surely miss him. How could they send him away without even saying goodbye?
These troubling thoughts were written so prominently on Ripp’s face, that Tank could no longer keep his mouth shut.
“What’s wrong, Ripp? So grumpy? Don’t wanna fight? Stop acting like a little girl, and behave like a man! Stop thinking like a woman, you weakling!”
Lyla narrowed her eyes. “Tank Grunt, have you forgotten that your mother will fight alongside you in this battle? So will Kristen Loste. You better not let her hear such comments about women being weaklings, young man!”
“Kristen is a respectable lieutenant and competent soldier. You should see her in combat,” added the General. “So don’t generalize all women as weak.”
Tank cowered under his parents’ glares. Ripp tried hard to suppress a smirk. Tank being lectured for misogyny? Perhaps this was going to be a good day for Ripp after all.
“Now, soldiers, finish up this nutritious meal, because we are on standby. Especially you, Ripp. Finish up quickly and get dressed immediately.”
The doorbell rang. Kristen Loste and Ajay Loner had arrived.
“Sir, the zombies have been spotted near Beaker Castle,” reported Kristen. “We should get moving now.”
Ajay put on his best poker face. Nobody in Team Grunt must ever see the last text message he sent. It was to his girlfriend, Erin Beaker, in Beaker Castle:
“Get out now. They’re coming.”
He had also seen her immediate reply: “Beware electric fence around Nervous’ pit. Gen Grunt is a son of a boolprop, but please be safe, I love you.”
0625h, Beaker Castle
Lola stationed herself at the front arches. Chloe snuck around to the back door. Pascal and Johnny crept their way into the castle, and made a beeline for the basement chamber.
But they were forced to stop. “Oh Watcher,” groaned Pascal, “that son of a boolprop Loki installed an electric fence. Johnny, keep watch, while I try to disable it.”
Though Johnny tried his best to keep a lookout, he did not notice a blonde woman creeping out of the shadows.
Armed with a heavy metal poker, Erin Beaker struck Pascal on the back of his head. Pascal collapsed into a heap, but mercifully, without touching the fence.
Erin turned and glared at Johnny. “Take him, and get out now, before Loki and Circe see you.”
Moments later, the zombies burst through the front arches.
They were followed by another group of sims… in similar uniforms as Johnny’s, but in brown instead.
“For Strangetown!” came the familiar roar of Tank Grunt.
Johnny banged his head.
“Uncle Pascal is heavy,” thought Johnny, as he dragged Pascal across the castle floor, careful not to inflict any further injuries on Pascal. It also proved difficult to try to shield himself and his uncle from the raging zombies.
Finally, Johnny reached the back door, where Chloe was chatting…
… with Ripp Grunt, the last person Johnny expected to see at a battle scene.
“Ripp? What are you doing here?” Johnny stared agape.
“I don’t know,” groaned Ripp. “I can’t believe I ever marched into battle in uniform, on my father’s orders.”
“Dude, at least they gave you guard duty, instead of the more dangerous work.”
“Yeah, I guess. Wait, Johnny, what happened to your uncle?”
“Yeah, what happened to Pascal? Do you need me to go in instead?” Chloe looked concerned.
“Chloe, neither of us have the know-how to do this.”
As Johnny related Pascal’s mishap, none of them noticed that Tank Grunt was glowering at them from the back door.
“So, Greenie Smith,” Tank roared, “you come here to mess up a Grunt mission, and distract my loser of a brother from his guard duty.”
“Who are you calling Greenie?” snapped Chloe. “We also have our own mission here!”
“Stay out of this, lady.” Tank let his fists do the talking, as he got into a full-on brawl with Johnny.
“Stop!” yelled Ripp. “Tank, aren’t you supposed to fight the zombies instead? You’re wasting your energy!”
Tank thumped Johnny to the ground. The latter yelped in pain, clutching his leg. Tank marched up to Ripp.
“I have plenty of energy to fight zombies,” Tank muttered, “after I teach you a lesson to stop being such a loser.”
“Stop!” was Chloe’s furtive cry, as the Grunt boys turned on each other.
“Lyla? Aren’t you supposed to be guarding the front arches?” growled Kristen, as she punched zombie Bella Goth in the solar plexus.
Nearby, Ajay was punishing zombie Hugh Thanasia.
“Kristen, I need you and Ajay to follow me upstairs. I know where the master control is.”
“What master control?” Kristen pushed zombie Bella down. Ajay kicked zombie Hugh away.
“The Beakers’ master control for the zombies. You two just follow me. My gut feeling is usually correct,” Lyla insisted.
“But what about what’s down there?” Ajay pointed towards Nervous’ basement chamber.
“Doesn’t matter, probably not important,” Lyla grumbled. “Follow me upstairs now!”
Kristen and Ajay followed Lyla upstairs.
“Now what? The furniture looks more normal up here.” Kristen looked askance at Lyla.
“Smash everything! The master control could be anywhere!” Lyla commanded.
“But you said you knew exactly where it is,” said Ajay, in a small voice.
“Just do it! Beware of zombies!” Lyla yelled, as she took the initiative to smash the nearest objects around her. Ajay and Kristen followed suit.
As Ajay was smashing a vanity table, wondering how Circe Beaker would react to this, zombie Benjamin Cho charged towards him.
Luckily, Ajay had not destroyed the mirror yet, so he broke it over the zombie’s head. Ajay sighed in relief as another pile of zombie dust formed at his feet.
Meanwhile, Kristen lifted a large vase, hurling it at zombie Brenda Zaidi.
Soon a pile of porcelain shards were mixed with zombie dust.
Unfortunately, the removal of the large vase also exposed Circe Beaker‘s hiding place. Circe pounced on Kristen, and tried to strangle the military woman.
Fortunately, Lyla Grunt saw that, and rushed promptly to Kristen’s aid. Lyla kicked Circe off Kristen, sending Circe rolling into the sharp porcelain remains of the large vase.
Circe howled in pain. Despite her multiple cuts, she managed to stand up, and promptly shoved Lyla in the direction of another fragile heirloom.
As Lyla crashed, Circe was too busy gloating to notice that Kristen had recovered, and was stealthily approaching her from behind, iron poker in hand.
The big stick found its target on Circe’s head, knocking the red-headed woman out cold.
Kristen bent down to examine Lyla’s wounds. “Yikes, she’s one of them,” she gulped.
“Kristen, is Lyla OK?” Ajay panted as he emerged from the other room.
“Oh my Watcher!” he gasped, as he noticed that Lyla’s blood was green, instead of red.
“She’s still alive. Ajay, get some cloth. We need to stop the flow of blood, or whatever it is she’s bleeding,” Kristen made a valiant attempt to remain calm.
Ajay returned with some ripped curtains, and assisted Kristen in bandaging Lyla’s wounds.
“Ajay, we mustn’t tell any of the Grunts, especially the General, about the green blood, at least until after all the battles are over. Even if she’s a zombie, we’re shorthanded, so we need her,” instructed Kristen.
“Yeah. Maybe the zombies won’t be so hard on us, if she’s one of them. But I wonder why she diverted us up here.”
Kristen shrugged. “I don’t know. I think it’s because we’re not her family members, so we’re less likely to sense anything wrong with her. Ajay, aren’t you glad that you’re not the only non-Grunt in this team?”
“Yes. I’m glad I’m working with you, Kristen.” Ajay recalled how Kristen stood up for him during the first Team Grunt meeting. The last thing he needed was any trouble from the General, so with Kristen around, things would certainly be easier for him.
Downstairs in the kitchen, General Grunt found himself in direct combat with Loki Beaker himself. Grunt was caught unaware by Loki, as the latter had been crouching in wait in a dark corner. Loki proved to have a home ground advantage, as he smashed Grunt against the dishwasher. The General roared in pain, and was unable to rise.
“Gotcha now! The mighty General has fallen!” roared Loki with glee. “Now his head shall roast in my oven!”
Grunt groaned from the sharp pain in his arm. He might have broken a bone or two in there. His gaze shifted to Loki, who was turning the knobs to preheat the oven. Just as Loki was about to open the oven door…
Grunt summoned all his remaining strength, and sprang to his feet. With his good arm, he slammed Loki onto the refrigerator instead.
Alarmingly, the fridge toppled over, crushing Loki’s lower body under it.
“Owww!! Not fair!” wailed Loki, as Grunt proceeded to turn off the oven.
“Beaker, you may be an enemy in battle, but I’m not evil like you,” Grunt snapped, as he walked off, pretending that both his arms were intact.
By now, Team Curious was already retreating down Beaker Hill. The girls dragged Pascal behind them, while Johnny hobbled on his good leg.
They saw no point in staying on, if none of them could disable the electric fence. Instead, they should try to get the injured treated as soon as possible.
General Grunt had also given his orders for Team Grunt to retreat. As they left the battle scene, Lyla was dragged behind Kristen and Ajay. The General scowled as Ripp complained about his arm injury. Tank pretended nothing was amiss.
However, Ripp openly blamed a zombie instead for these wounds. Despite what he thought of his trigger-happy brother, Ripp thought that if the General knew the truth, the military patriarch may impulsively beat Tank up so badly, that Ripp’s chances of being exempted from the next mission would be close to zero. Worse still, Ripp may even be forced to take over Tank’s role in close combat.
Tank could not believe his luck, but wondered why Ripp would bother covering up for him.
Ophelia Nigmos grimaced upon hearing the news of the injuries of both Johnny and Ripp. Aunt Olive’s zombies had gone too far.
Ophelia was torn between her fear of offending her aunt, and her conscience that told her she could not just sit back and do nothing. Being from neither Team Curious nor Team Grunt, and with privileged insight into the true nature of the zombies, Ophelia realized that she was in a unique position.
A wild idea came to her head. She could not afford to tell anyone, not even Johnny and Ripp, and certainly not Aunt Olive. If zombie Hugh Thanasia was to be believed, then Aunt Olive had kept murderous secrets from Ophelia all these years, so she did not deserve to know Ophelia’s new plan.
Ophelia’s idea was extreme, and may even kill her. But this zombie boolprop had to stop, so she would have to try.
– Pascal (head)
– Johnny (leg)
– Ripp (arm)
– Lyla (body)
– General (arm)
– Circe (head)
– Loki (legs)
– Brenda Zaidi
– Benjamin Cho
(*) Football/Soccer Outfits are used as battle uniforms because these are the only CONSISTENT clothing available throughout most age groups and genders… and as a visual reminder of the PVCS vs STM Football Matches.
Team Curious’ green-yellow is an echo of Team STM’s outfield outfit, while Team Grunt’s brown-white is Team STM’s goalkeeper uniform. In the PVCS Football series, most of the Curiouses/Smiths are outfield players, and most Grunts are goalkeepers.
The Beaker family’s ninja suits are what they were notorious for wearing in StrangeTown Monty Season 1.
Make your GUESS for the Battle of StrangeTown winner.
For the POLL on Nervous Subject, vote according to what happened in your game, or what you like to happen in your own story.
How would the teams modify their strategies?
1. The Pleas