Astonishing - another Nightstalkers mission. I didn’t think Takua had it in her. ~Terri Ryan, DOGA Archivist
A long pause.
“Given how often you insist that I ought to be more cultured,” the towering Uruk-Hai in the corner sighed, “you really ought to let me read.”
“The ‘Snaga’s Secret’ catalogue is not culture,” Takua pointed out. “And nor, since we’re on the subject, is this.”
Jareth scowled at the console screen. “Night Watch?” he asked. “That’s the Russian thing, yes? The horror films?”
“The books are more like fantasy.” Takua shook her head. “But it hardly matters… read the summary.”
Jareth peered at the screen. “’Night of the zombies’,” he read. “’ this is not about the book you think it is because i could'nt find the book i was looking for so this is about the book called dead sea by brian keene. this is about a girl named Melony and her friends and thier fight for survival against the living dead.’ That… really?”
“Really,” Takua told him. “It couldn’t find the canon it wanted, so it just dumped the story in any which way.”
“I wonder at the thought process some of these people go through,” Jareth growled. “All right. Now, why are we assigned?”
“Late in the first chapter is an instance of either massive geographical compression or spontaneous teleportation, apparently.” Takua grimaced and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Just once I’d like a nice, normal Magical Kingdom to burn down, rather than all these compressions, omissions and expansions.”
“And I would like to face my enemies in battle with a thousand of my siblings at my side,” Jareth noted, “but that doesn’t mean I get to.”
Takua sighed. “I know how you feel. All right, let’s get to the gettin’.”
It was a foggy and dark day. School started out normally until it happened. All of the sudden had a seizure. We all screamed except for me though. Then she came back!!!!
The two Agents – disguised as random schoolchildren – stared at the… well, it was hard to call it a ‘scene’, as that word implied some form of coherent plot.
“Even the Word World can’t work out what’s going on,” Takua noted as the crowd of students each suffered momentary seizures in turn. “This is why you always make sure to include all the words.”
“You might also consider not making your main character know what’s going on instantly,” Jareth added, as the lead character (presumably Melony, though she was never named or even described) commanded everyone to lock themselves in with guns. “Are we even in Russia? Given the supposed canon…”
“Again, there’s absolutely no way of telling.” Takua pointed up the stairs, where the vaguely-amorphous protagonist was fleeing, yelling for ‘FRANKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!’. “But at least there’s enough punctuation rain to feed a whole hive.”
“I’m not sure it would be my preferred choice of diet,” Jareth snorted, then frowned. “Takua…”
“Stop that. Are there any canon characters in this cart-wreck?”
“I doubt it. Why?”
“So… everyone can see us?”
“Yes,” Takua said slowly. “That’s why we have ‘dis-guis-es’, you know?”
“… including the zombie?”
Takua turned her head to see the shambling undead (which had appeared from nowhere after the disastrously bungled opening paragraph) lurching towards her. “Oh. How do you kill this kind?”
“The Words say the protagonist is fond of destroying their brains,” Jareth told her. “I have a pistol. Duck.”
It took Jareth approximately 0.4 seconds to bring the gun to a stable firing position. He pulled the trigger immediately.
“You maniac!” Takua yelled as the headless zombie fell to the ground. “You could have killed me!”
“Of course I ducked! You were shooting at me!”
Jareth shrugged. “I trusted your reactions. I was right. Don’t we have a mission to complete?”
Takua was scowling as she stalked up the stairs. Raised voices echoed through the stairwell – mostly generic screams, but some with that peculiar overtone which marked them as part of the Words.
"Yes a zombie!!! And yes an actual walking corpse jeeeesh Frankie why can't you just believe me?"
“Because that’s ridiculous,” Jareth growled. “Oh, not the zombie itself – but expecting people to just do your bidding and accept everything you say at face value?”
“Sounds like Upstairs,” Takua snorted. “Which way are we going? All these echoes are throwing me off.”
There was an appallingly loud bang, and Takua whirled to face her partner. “What did I say about shooting?!” she demanded.
Jareth held his hands up in surprise. “Not me!” he exclaimed. “That was the characters – the man-child ‘Frankie’ handed Melony a pistol from a plothole and she shot a zombie.”
Takua scrutinised his face. “All right,” she said at last, “I’ll believe you this time… but only if you help me find that plothole.”
“Agreed.” The agents rounded a corner and caught sight of the characters at last. The protagonist was speaking.
"Tip when you shoot one shoot it in the head so it destroys the brain. And don't get any blood in your eyes moth anything that is open. Got it?"
"Yeah I got it, but how do you know so much about zombies?" he answered and asked.
"Oh I read Brian Keene's books "The Rising," City of the dead," and "Dead sea." I answered.
“Yes, don’t get blood in your moth,” Takua laughed. “It might turn into a zombie, and then our only defence would be to light a candle and hope it flew into it…”
“I’m more interested in this ‘I’ve read the books’ thing,” Jareth said. “Did not the summary say it was set in the Dead Sea universe? If that is the case, how can she have read the-?”
"DIE YOU FREAK!!! WHY WON'T YOU DIE!!!!!"?
The agents were treated to the somewhat bewildering sound of a yelled statement questioning its own existence. Jareth scratched another line of Cirth on his notepad. “Punctuation is important.”
“Only if you’re actually writing,” Takua pointed out. “I’m not sure this counts.”
The third main character, Jackie, having finished screaming at but he was a zombie, turned out to be an equally good shot with the spontaneously-appearing pistol. Takua narrowed her eyes as the characters discussed their situation.
“You know, I had to go through about five months of training before I was able to hit a target the size of a head.”
“I only needed three,” Jareth said smugly. “Of course, I am the superior being…”
“Only superior to badfic characters,” Takua retorted. “You may have been bred to be better than everyone else – but the Istar who created you was an idiot.”
Jareth paused for a moment, then shrugged. “Much as I would like to, I cannot disagree with you.”
"Okay,” declared the protagonist, “so this just started, so we need to go get a lot of water, food, guns, and ammo. Then we need to get on a boat asked and said.
“And again, closing quote marks, please.”
"Yuppers!" Frankie replied.
"Yeah I got it now let's go!" and set off to an oilrig. Got it?" I Jackie answered.
“What?” The characters turned round at the startled exclamation to see a pair of unfamiliar kids. “No, I certainly don’t ‘got it’.”
“Okay so were being attacked by zombies and we have to run away and take lots of guns so we can shoot them in the head and destroy the brain,” Melony explained.
The girl who had spoken shook her head slowly. “I’m not actually stupid,” she growled. “But you haven’t explained why we’re suddenly on an ‘oilrig’.”
“…” Melony, for the first time, was at a loss for words. Unfortunately, her friends weren’t.
“OILRIG!!!!!!!!!” Jackie screamed. “This is definitely the best place which I have been in all day and also there aren’t any zombies here!”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” the girl muttered. “Anyway, the point is, we’re from the PPC. We’ve got some charges for you.”
As if on cue, the girl’s friend – “Ooh shes with a boooooy,” Jackie declared – lifted a sheet of paper. “Probably-Melony,” he growled, “Frankie and Jackie, you are hereby charged with planting a story in the wrong continuum, claiming knowledge of your own canon’s source material, assuming everyone will just believe everything you say, atrocious punctuation and generally bad writing, manifesting previously absent weapons, having no plot to speak of, and most important of all, conjuring up an oil rig by appalling sentence structure.”
“And also saying ‘I said and asked’ far too many times,” the girl added, “where ‘far too many’ means ‘any’. Do you have any last words?”
“YES I DO,” Melony declared. “You have to believe me there are zombies everywhere and they are going to eat us if we don’t shoot them-“
“-through the heads and destroy their brains, yes, I got it,” the girl cut her off. “You might want to tell that to the ones behind you.”
The characters turned as one to see the open mouths of the zombies. “I WILL SHOOT THEM!!!!!!!!” Jackie screamed – but the boy who had read the charge list was at her side, impossibly fast, and snatched the gun from her fingers.
“No,” he said – and then the zombie was too close anyway.
Takua and Jareth watched as the zombies fed. “Was that too cruel?” Takua asked. “I have difficulty deciding, sometimes.”
“I don’t believe so,” Jareth shrugged. “It was reasonably fast, after all.”
“Mm.” Takua glanced around as the oilrig began to fade, revealing the grim visage of Night Watch’s Moscow behind it. Then her eyes widened. “Oh, no…”
“What?” Jareth span on the spot, trying to find the cause of her alarm. “Are the zombies not fading? Do we have a canon-merge?”
“No,” Takua groaned, “it’s worse… we forgot to find the armoury plothole!”