"Aiden, I think we might have a problem."
"You know, Bas, I really hate it when you say that."
"Be that as it may, we still have a problem."
Aiden sighed. "As we always do. What's the emergency this time?"
"We're running low on fuel," Bastila stated simply. "We're not going to make it to Tatooine with the fuel we have, so we need to land somewhere."
"Can't we just go back to that space station on Yavin that we found?"
"Aiden, if you spent half as much time looking at the charts as you do with that lightsaber of yours, you'd know that Yavin is twice as far away from Tatooine as we are now, and in the opposite direction."
"Oh." He was silent for a moment, then strode towards the cockpit. "Carth?"
"I'm trying to find a planet close enough, that's not under Sith control for us to land." His fingers flew deftly over the keypad, searching through nearby systems. After several moments had passed, he pointed. "Here."
Aiden squinted at the screen. "Overlan?"
"It's an unaffiliated planet. Completely occupied by a private university."
Bastila frowned. "Won't it look suspicious if we land? We are not, after all, scholars of any type."
Carth shrugged. "Maybe one of us has a kid who's thinking of attending there."
Bastila caught the sly grin on Aiden's face, and immediately protested. "Oh no, you don't. I am not your wife, I am not going to pretend to be your wife, and in any case, I wouldn't believe me if I said I was old enough to have a child entering university."
"She's right, you know."
"Oh, fine. You be the parent." Aiden stretched nonchalantly. "I'll just be the peon who works on your ship."
"Sounds like a plan. Why don't you go fill in Mission, Zaalbar, Leiraya, and Jolee?"
"Will do." Aiden turned and left the cockpit grinning. He'd been to university at one time, back on Deralia. It was, as he remembered, quite a bit of fun. Well, except for those tests and papers, but that was another story. Either way, it would be entertaining to see one again.
It was night when they landed in Boulder Wilde, the capital city of Overlan. The admissions officer they'd been redirected to had been most enthusiastic about their deciding to visit, and pointed them towards the main spaceport with promises of a campus tour in the morning.
Late as it was, Leiraya felt it necessary to get off the ship for a while. She'd tried meditating to clear her head, but the planet was buzzing with insane levels of anxiety. It was, she suspected, either midterms or finals week. Either that, or these kids were being put through inhuman amounts of work.
The campus was relatively well-lit, but all the nervous feedback was putting her on edge. She could see a park in the distance, however, so she headed in that general direction. It seemed odd that nobody else was out, as it wasn't all that late, but if her suspicions were correct, everyone was probably inside studying.
Yeah, that's right. Studying.
Moving along, trying not to look like she was unfamiliar with the area, the only sound was the padding of her bare feet on the sidewalks.
That is, until a guttural scream cut through the night.
It was all she could do not to jump out of her skin right there. She froze, unsure of what exactly to do, or what would make such a noise. Her curiosity was satisfied when a figure came around the corner.
Partially lit, she could see the figure's darkened eye sockets, and gashes across its cheeks. It held its arms out limply before it, and dragged one foot behind as it tried to walk. Seeing her, it grinned and, empty eyes staring up at her, it uttered, "BRRAAAAAIIIIIINNNSSSS..."
For the love of the Force, they've lost it completely. Not waiting to find out what would happen if she stayed around, she bolted back to the ship, not looking behind her. Running on board, she nearly knocked Carth over as he walked by.
"Hey, slow down there-"
"Monsters!" Leiraya blurted breathlessly. "Out there. After brains."
"Back that up a few steps- monsters?"
"Well," she paused, "maybe not monsters. But they definitely aren't human. Or any other recognizable sentient species."
"And they're just wandering around out there."
"Actually, I only saw one." She bit her lip and looked down, then back up at him. "But it was real!"
Carth sighed. "Would it make you feel better if I go out and check?"
She gave him a tiny, hopeful smile. "Yes?"
"Fine, I'll go out and show you that there aren't any monsters out there."
"You're my favourite person ever, Carth."
"I can't tell you how much that means to me," he sighed, checking the charge on his blasters just in case there actually was a problem. Heading out, she took him down the path she'd been walking. They didn't even make it as far as she had last time before they saw a figure dart into the street, the leg-dragging creature pursuing. The running figure, a young woman, stopped momentarily to catch her breath, then moved ahead. Carth and Leiraya immediately stepped into the shadows, so as not to be seen.
"Can't you feel them in the Force?" Carth whispered.
"No," she hissed in reply. "There's too much anxious energy floating around here, I can hardly think straight."
Looking back up at the scene, Leiraya gasped. A group of three of the leg-dragging creatures had come around the corner and were converging on the young woman. They watched in horror as they grabbed her, appeared to bite her in the neck, and she dropped to the ground. She simply lay there for a few moments before rising, her posture now mirroring those of the creatures. When she moved, her leg dragged behind her, and her guttural scream pierced the dark.
"See what I mean?"
"Something isn't right here." Carth squinted at the departing creatures. "This isn't normal."
"Thank you, Captain Obvious. Of course it's not normal! Do you think-"
"Leiraya, run!" Carth grabbed her hand and yanked her away.
"What do you think you're-" she looked back, and saw one of the creatures had come up behind them, and was now chasing them down the street. "Oh, shavit." She picked up her pace, and the pair ran as fast as they could away from the lilting, grinning creature.
The road's end brought them to a parking lot that was by this time crawling with people. Some of them were running madly, some of them were chasing with trailing legs. Many of the creatures they saw had black, sunken eyes and ashen skin. Some tried to resist, throwing blunt objects at them. It took the creatures down for a short time, but they were soon back up, screaming for brains once more. Leiraya had heard of their kind on Corellia- the undead- but she had thought they were a legend. A story told to small children to scare them on camping trips.
Clearly, she had been mistaken.
One by one, the running students were taken. Several times she and Carth came within inches of being caught. Each time it was closer, though. Their numbers were increasing, and they were getting tired.
Finally, they found themselves in a corner. "I can't… run…" Leiraya gasped. "Too many."
"This is not normal," Carth growled, standing between her and the advancing masses of the undead.
A closer one heard, and smiled chillingly. "No, but we will have your brains, anyway."
"Not if I have anything to say about it-" Carth reached for his blaster, but was blinded by a ray of light that suddenly appeared. Blinking, his eyes adjusted and he could see three hovercars converging on the scene. The creatures immediately stopped their advance and fell silent.
The car that reached the crowd first stopped, and an officer hopped out. "All right, kids, you've had your fun- we've gotten too many disturbance calls on your account."
The lead creature, a figure with multiple gashes across his face, deactivated a field from his belt, revealing a young man, scruffy and smiling sheepishly. "Sorry, officers."
"Well, you can show us how sorry you are by going and doing something else. Something quiet."
"All right." The young man shrugged, and turned to his cohorts. "Who's up for heading to South Residence Complex for a game of Zombie Capture the Flag?"
A series of assenting mumbles rippled through the gathered crowd, and they slowly moved off, leaving both Carth and Leiraya standing dumbfounded in the corner of the lot. The officer walked over. "I hope they didn't bother you too much. Sometimes kids do crazy stuff under the stress of midterms."
"We're… fine." Leiraya managed.
"Well, have a good evening, then." The officer nodded slightly, and returned to her car.
After they left, Leiraya could only giggle uncontrollably for a few moments. "That was, without a doubt, one of the strangest things I've ever seen."
"You and me both, sister." Carth patted her on the shoulder and shook his head. "You and me both."
"Where were you two?" Aiden asked upon their return. "You just ran off a while ago, and nobody knew where you went."
"Zombies," Leiraya stated simply.
Aiden raised a skeptical eyebrow and looked up at Carth, who simply shrugged and said, "Brains."
Looking between the two of them for several seconds, Aiden decided not to even try making sense of it. "I don't even think I want to know."
Carth shook his head ruefully. "No, you probably don't."
Zombie Capture the Flag and its companion game, Zombies vs. Humans are the intellectual property of the leaders of the Oberlin College Capture the Flag ExCo. Inspired by a massive game of Zombies vs. Humans involving around 100 students running around a back lot downtown. Midterms really can do crazy things to a person.