1800h, Curious Observatory
After a rushed early dinner, Pascal Curious and Johnny Smith headed up to the lowest telescope deck to review the security footage. Pascal was still feeling light-headed from the blow to his skull during the last battle. It wouldn’t be wise for him, or Johnny with his injured leg, to climb too high. Thank Watcher for Jenny and PT, who were watching over baby Newton for him.
No zombies were in sight, so Pascal sent the signal to the Smiths and the Grunts. He hoped that the Beakers would be too busy preparing or eating dinner, to realize that any assault could take place now.
The brown jerseys emerged from Grunt Boot Camp first – General Grunt, Lyla, Tank, Ripp, Kristen Loste and Ajay Loner – healthy and injured alike. Team Grunt’s distraction had to be in full force, before Team Curious stood any chance of succeeding in their task.
The green-yellow jerseys of Lola and Chloe Curious-Smith, and Vidcund and Lazlo Curious, followed the brown jerseys up the hill. Team Curious needed more scientists with the technical knowledge to disable the electric fence, assuming it had not changed since the last attack.
Pascal and Johnny crossed their fingers. Chloe, being healthy, was redeployed to assist Team Grunt in their distraction. Lyla and Ripp Grunt, being injured, would cover the front arches and back door respectively.
Meanwhile, Lola and Vidcund would be standing guard over Lazlo, who would be disabling the fence. Then Vidcund would run down, grab Nervous Subject, and all of Team Curious would rush out together, victorious. Hopefully, it would all go to plan.
1810h, Beaker Castle
Nervous Subject’s accusing wail resounded from the pit once again, as Erin Beaker tossed in the second plastic bag of food for the day.
Erin may not have been as much of a “hardened” Beaker like her brother Loki, or sister-in-law Circe, but her intense loyalty to her brother had a clouding effect on her moral judgment. She quickly dismissed her conscience nagging within her.
She then crossed her fingers for her boyfriend, Ajay Loner, then took her seat next to Loki and Circe at the dinner table.
A few mouthfuls into their meal, Team Grunt burst in through the front arches. Unfortunately, so did the zombies.
“Food fight?” asked Erin.
“Go ahead,” agreed Circe, as she and Loki prepared to hobble to their pre-arranged posts.
Fruits, crockery and various kitchen utensils flew at the zombies. Loki and Circe did not have time to notice that Erin was focusing only on the zombies, while avoiding the brown jerseys. For a split second, Erin and Ajay Loner locked eyes, and he nodded. She nodded in reply.
“Loki and Circe will be stationed on different floors.”
That was Erin’s last tip-off to Ajay via text message. He wondered how this information would come in handy.
He did not expect the sudden slap across his left cheek.
“Traitor!” roared a harsh male voice. “Ajay Loner, if you love my sister, why are you wearing the Grunt uniform to fight against the Beaker family?”
“I… I…” was all Ajay could muster, before two more punches from Loki rained down on him. Despite Loki’s lower-body injury, his upper body retained much of its original strength.
“You son of a boolprop! Were you here last battle too?” Loki’s verbal taunts were almost as bad as his physical punches. Ajay was too stunned to fight back, and was cowering a lot more than usual.
“Brother, stop! Fight the zombies, not Ajay!” Erin could only yell in horror, as she was still trying to concentrate on the fruit fight against the zombies.
“Erin, your useless boyfriend is a traitor! You deserve someone better!”
Before Erin could answer, Loki suddenly received a blow to his head, knocking him to the ground. He howled in pain, as his bad legs made it harder than usual for him to get up.
“Are you all right?” Ajay thought he heard a female voice amid his dizziness.
“Of course not!” yelled another female voice. “You just hit Loki from behind! How dare you, Kristen!”
Ajay managed to steady himself. “Thank you, Kristen,” he mumbled.
“Good, Loner. Now let’s go kick some boolprop!” Kristen Loste and Ajay walked off without looking back, leaving the Beaker siblings speechless.
“Uh oh…” Lazlo frowned at the control box near the electric fence. “There’s a missing component. No matter what I do here, I can’t disable the fence, unless I have that component.”
“A remote control?” Vidcund suggested. “Most likely, it’s on Loki.”
Lola nodded. “It could also be on Circe, or even on Erin. We may have to search them all, or beat them up, and force them to give it up.”
“So you’ve figured out my little trick.” Loki’s cold sneering voice sent chills down the spines of Team Curious.
Unfortunately, it also seemed to have frozen them where they were standing. Neither Vidcund nor Lola could react in time to stop Loki from pushing Lazlo into the electric fence.
“Stop attacking me, Grunt boy!” snapped zombie Rigger Mortis, whom Tank was punching. “Master commanded us not to hurt you! Smash furniture and equipment, not people!” Apparently, Olive Specter had been updated in time by her agent, Lyla Grunt, about Team Grunt’s coalition with Team Curious.
“You are not a person. You’re a zombie,” growled Tank. “And I LOVE killing zombies.”
“Oh really?” Rigger looked askance at Tank. He then whistled to his comrades. “Bad Grunt boy here likes to kill zombies. We kill him now!”
“KIIILLLLL…!!” Two other zombies, Hugh Thanasia and Seth Zaidi, joined in, shoving Tank into a corner.
The military-aspiring teen yelped in horror, as the world went black.
Oblivious to what was happening downstairs to his favorite son, General Grunt winced as he smashed a chair upstairs. He had been injured in combat before, but that was no excuse to stop fighting. But this time, his arm, which was broken during the last battle, was giving him boolprop, as if demanding the General for more time to recover.
In this moment of weakness, Grunt found himself pinned to the floor.
He looked up at his assailant. There was Circe Beaker’s malevolent grin, and the most unwelcome taste of her shoe sole.
“That was for being uncooperative when Loki wanted to roast your head,” gloated Circe. “Wounded soldier not resting, but still fighting? Now the mighty General shall finally fall by the hand of Circe Beaker!”
Was General Buzz Grunt now going to pay the ultimate price for his machismo, by not allowing himself a lesser role due to his injury? He beheld Circe drawing a knife, but held his breath when he saw…
… Ajay Loner approaching.
Ajay had heard Circe’s taunts, and weighed his obliged loyalties to Erin’s family vs his forced commitment to Team Grunt’s cause. If Erin was right, then he did not have to worry about Loki seeing this…
With as much strength as he could muster, Ajay kicked… Circe. The red-headed woman was sent rolling off, her path intersecting with the trajectory of an incoming table hurled by a zombie. The collision did not end well for either the table or Circe, for they both collapsed into a heap, broken in many areas.
Ajay proceeded to lift Grunt up, and away to safety.
“Don’t say I didn’t repay my debt well, General.”
“You’ve got game, Loner. Ever considered joining the army?”
Back to 1825h
Near the electric fence, tears were streaming down the horror-struck faces of Vidcund and Lola. Despite his strong Angry and Sad moodlets, Vidcund knew there was no point tinkering with the control box, so he turned towards Loki. Lola was also getting ready to throw her punches at Loki…
“AHHHHHHH!!! Who are you??!!”
The agitated scream of Nervous Subject echoed from the pit, proving to be more chilling than Loki’s voice.
Loki cautiously peered down the fence. Vidcund and Lola followed suit, keeping a safe distance from Loki.
Apparently, a young woman had materialized into the pit. Nervous stood rooted on his spot, utterly horrified at her unexpected appearance.
“Nervous Subject, I’m your cousin, Ophelia! I’m here to save you! To bring you back to your mother!”
“Mommy heard me?” gasped Nervous. “She sent you?”
“Yes, she sent me. Come now!!” Ophelia held out her hand towards Nervous.
“Oh no, you don’t!” roared Loki from above. He disappeared out of view.
Despite his injury, he returned with alarming speed, brandishing a nearby chair, which he hurled down the pit.
Loki had intended to hit Ophelia. But his aim proved inaccurate, so the chair struck Nervous instead, as he made his hesitant approach towards Ophelia.
“No!!” Ophelia cried, as Nervous crumpled to the ground. But she reached out and grabbed his hand anyway…
Loki’s eyes were so fixated on the drama in the pit, that he forgot all about what was happening on his level.
It was too late for him to react to Vidcund’s stealthy approach from behind. Loki’s world went black as he crashed into the electric fence.
“That’s for Lazlo, you fringin’ son of a boolprop!” Vidcund snarled.
Lola was not sure if she was more horrified at Vidcund’s ghastly revenge, Loki’s evil aura, Nervous’ blood-curdling scream, or Lazlo’s untimely death, when something else competed for her bewilderment.
As the deadly electricity coursed through Loki’s body, the electric fence’s strength seemed to diminish.
Vidcund was right. Loki had the remote control. When the remote control self-destructed, the electric fence’s charge also turned off.
The coast was clear! Or was it?
Vidcund politely asked zombie Rigger Mortis to walk down the stairs before him. When Rigger seemed intact upon completing his descent, Vidcund and Lola followed suit.
The stench in the pit was unbearable. Besides the many empty bags of food, Vidcund guessed that Nervous needed the bathroom more often than the Beakers allowed him to go.
But even more disturbingly, there was no sign of Nervous Subject or Ophelia Nigmos.
Vidcund and Lola examined the pit walls. All solid.
Where could they be? Had Team Curious come so far, just to have Nervous slip through their fingers at the last moment?
1845h, Specter Yard
Olive Specter was still in the midst of her zombie ritual. The front door suddenly swung open, revealing Ophelia dragging someone behind her.
“Aunt Olive, is this my cousin, Nervous Subject?”
Specter got up. She looked down at her son, and sensed his mortal wound. “Oh Nervous, my baby. My son… you’re safe now, with Mommy.”
Nervous met her eyes.
“Mom… what… have… you… done?”
Nervous’ eyes went blank, and his body was motionless.
“Ophelia, how did you…?” Specter managed to speak through her sobs.
“Aunt Olive, I learnt to teleport (^). It was very difficult and dangerous, but I thought that was the only way to get past the electric fence safely. But Beaker hit him on the head, before we could leave…”
“Ophelia, did you hear what Nervous said? He knew I sent the zombies. He died thinking his mother is a bad person!” Specter’s sobbing intensified.
When she calmed down, Specter looked Ophelia in the eye. “You are a very brave girl, Ophelia. You focused on what’s the most important, went through with it, and became a hero. But I was so focused on revenge, and it killed my son. You are a much better person than me, Ophelia.”
Ophelia blushed. Her aunt had rarely praised her, let alone given her such a high compliment.
Specter continued. “Now I am going to bring him back.”
Ophelia turned pale. “No! Are you going to make him a zombie?”
“No, my son shall not return as a zombie, but as a full human. But this will cost me dearly.”
“What cost, Aunt Olive?”
“You’ll have a cousin instead of an aunt.”
“Aunt Olive…” Ophelia struggled for the right words.
“I’ve caused so much pain and misery. It’s time I made amends. My son shall get a second chance at a new life, outside of Strangetown, if he chooses. Ophelia, when Nervous asks, tell him his father is Thanatos Grimm, the Grim Reaper. Please also tell him the truth about the good moments we had as aunt and niece.”
“Thanatos Grimm, the Grim Reaper. Got it. Yes, I will tell him that you’ve been a good aunt,” promised Ophelia, as Specter pulled her into an unexpected hug.
After finishing up her well-deserved dinner, Ophelia entered Specter’s bedroom. Nervous Subject was alone. He seemed relatively healthy. There was no sign of Aunt Olive, or any of the zombies.
“Thank you for saving me, Cousin Ophelia. Did you see my Mom anywhere?”
“Thank you for coming back, Cousin Nervous. Umm… your Mom chose to sacrifice herself for you to return to life.”
“Oh.” Nervous looked crestfallen. “Did you know her well, Ophelia?”
“Yes. She was good to me.”
The Next Day
Ophelia was reluctant to say goodbye to her new cousin. Nervous was not sure where exactly he was heading, but had promised to keep in touch with her, and with the surviving Curious brothers.
Ophelia was now the owner of 13 Dead End Lane. The place felt lonely without Aunt Olive or her guests. All the zombies had vanished along with Specter when she died.
The rest of StrangeTown had also been mystified and saddened by the sudden disappearances of PT9 Smith and Lyla Grunt, shortly after the battle was over. Things were already gloomy enough with the deaths of Lazlo Curious and Tank Grunt.
That night, the full force of Olive Specter’s confession finally hit Jenny Smith like an anvil. Who, or what, was that creature who had posed as PT9? How much of her husband had been intact in that incarnation? How dare Specter mess with their memory of PT9? Jenny decided to stop brooding, for the sake of her sanity. Her family needed her.
Likewise, General Grunt was not sure whether to be more upset with Specter for lying on her River Styx oath, or with himself for believing what he wanted to believe about Lyla’s resurrection. No wonder it had been so easy for him to believe that the zombies were the Beakers’ creations instead. Would he have led his team differently, if he was willing to consider that the zombies were Specter’s? Maybe he may not even have lost Tank…
Meanwhile, Ophelia looked at the skull phone that Specter left behind. She picked it up, listened to its message, then put it down, without responding to it. Seems like the phone had reconfigured itself automatically after Specter’s death.
She knew what must be done. She would need two living members each from the Curious-Smith and Grunt families to accomplish that.
(^) How Ophelia learnt to teleport in such a short time:
Immediately after Chapter 6, she approached RM Roberts, who was walking outside her house. She sensed that these strange Observers were not walking around StrangeTown randomly, and they had the means to escalate the execution of her existing wild idea, as there was little time to waste.
“I can call a ninja from Takemizu Village to come here now. But remember, it’s up to YOU to go in and save your cousin. Nobody else can fight your battles for you.“
If only it were so easy for Ophelia to simply “book a ninja online”, let alone for immediate on-site service.
So in Chapter 7, when Ophelia was stared at by RM Baptiste outside Loner Shack, that was the first time she succeeded in teleporting.
Ajay Loner’s house was chosen because it is one of the furthest lots away from Specter Yard. We also hoped that fans who recognized Loner Shack would wonder what conspiracy Ophelia could be planning with Ajay, as he had shown earlier signs of not being fully aligned with Team Grunt’s objective.
THIRD BATTLE ONLY
|Grunt||General (arm injury gets worse)||Tank Grunt|
|Beaker||Circe (head injury gets worse)||Loki Beaker|
& all zombies(*)
OVERALL NET LOSS & GAIN
|Curious||– Lost Lazlo (-1)
– Lost PT9 (0)
|– Successfully disabled electric fence, but full victory was snatched from them (+0.5)||-0.5|
|Grunt||– Lost Tank (-1)
– Lost Lyla (0)
|Beaker||– Lost Loki (-1)
– Lost Nervous (-1)
|Specter||– Lost Specter & all zombies(*) (-1)||– Gained Nervous (+1)
– Ophelia struck the winning blow (+1)
|(*) Since the zombies’ “life force” is tied to Olive Specter, they should all be counted with her as one unit.
(#) PT9 and Lyla count as zero points, because they were already dead before, and won’t even be back without Specter’s meddling.
Battle of StrangeTown WINNER:
Which victim is most deserving of a second chance? Vote now!
For the POLL on Nervous Subject vs Ophelia Nigmos, vote according to what happened in your game, or what you like to happen in your own story.
Thank you everyone who voted in the Battle of Strangetown poll!
Will Strangetown be the same, without the sims who had died and disappeared?
1. The Pleas