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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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WORLD WAR SBU: A Reporter’s Look Inside Humans vs. Zombies

The Human's rally to plan their attack on the zombies. (Christian Santana / The Statesman)

The Second Zombie War at Stony Brook University was a chain of events that began with the spread of bacteria, Necro streptococcus pyogenes, through the release of a green substance planted inside a newspaper kiosk in Times Square.

Day 1: This is how it begins…

The virus was initially called Z1H1 according to moderator and storywriter Kenneth Ejerta. By the time the virus spread to Stony Brook, it had mutated into Z2H1.

“Finding a cure is proving difficult because of its mutant nature and Stony Brook is now on lockdown to hopefully stave off the disease’s spread,”¬ Ejerta said in a forum post.

In hindsight, I would never have guessed that my entrance into the fray would come in the form of a Facebook message received at around 23:30, which only read “I’m in front of the TAC.”

In the midst of a small crowd outside of the Tabler Café stood my contact and my guide into the human-zombie conflict: the figure I only knew by a forum alias, Solidus_Snake. I wandered around the café’s outdoor plaza aimlessly, only vaguely knowing who in the crowd I was to meet, until a man sitting in the corner waved in my direction.

He formally introduced himself as Nick Mann, a geology student, and in this war, the leader of FoxHound Squad, one of the many factions combating the undead hordes. Clad in a black tactical vest, sunglasses, and wielding an arsenal of no less than three NERF guns, Mann seemed perfectly equipped to weather the zombie apocalypse. In fact, he had done just that in last year’s game, in which he survived four days.

“FoxHound specializes in reconnaissance,” Mann said between drags from an American Spirit cigarette. “We mostly do surveying and provide supporting fire for other troops.”

To demonstrate exactly what he meant by “supporting fire,” Mann unloaded an entire magazine of darts at a nearby wall in about ten seconds flat with one of his guns, a NERF Magstrike AS-10.

He soon left, and with good reason; we later recieved word that the original zombie had spawned in Tabler and would soon infect many of the people in front of the Café that night.

****

Day 3: Paranoia sts in…

The bulk of the human resistance had fortified itself in front of the Javits Lecture Center to await instructions for the first mission of the game: escorting a radio operator to the Union. While I push through the crowd, I see a familiar face: Mann and the other half of FoxHound, sophomore Paul Harding.

“I don’t like being in huge groups like this,” Mann said. “You can’t cover everyone, people move too slowly and communication breaks down.”

Not long after, the group splintered off in all directions with many humans unsure of where to go next. Subsequently, the opportunistic undead took advantage of the confusion.

“Worst of all, people get way too cocky,” added Mann, as humans splintered off from the group every few moments to pick off a few straggling zombies, only to get infected themselves.

Though they were quite easily held off, many underestimate the cunning of the undead. On many occasions, zombies have been observed waiting under the cover of brush and foliage for hours, with some even sustaining rashes from poison ivy, until their next victim walks by, according to sophomore Jeff Fernandez.

There are even reports of zombie players using rollerblades and bikes to gain an edge over slow-moving humans. According to both Mann and Harding, “those are the scary ones you need to watch out for.”

“When you’re human, you actually feel really scared,” said Andy W., a human resistance fighter who wanted his last name hidden for undisclosed reasons. “You start avoiding roads, and start taking shortcuts and different ways to get to class just so zombies don‘t catch you.”

The group FoxHound followed was an escort squad headed towards the Student Activities Center. I have found Human fighters often band together to protect one another during trips to class and dining halls in the academic mall, a hot spot for confrontation. Unfortunately, some of their comrades were seized in the ensuing confusion.

Seeking refuge, FoxHound made a beeline for Roth Quad, where they stunned two wandering zombies before settling down in the dining hall for food with one of them, a friend of Harding‘s who was recently turned. For a moment, it almost seemed as if the airs of cautiousness and even fear pervasive throughout the game had cleared.

“For weeks after the game, I’m still on edge whenever I see someone with a bandana on their head,” Mann said, between bites of Wendy’s. “Even off campus, in the city, I instinctively want to reach for my NERF gun, and then it hits me that nobody’s even playing.”

****

Day 3: Through the undead’s eyes…

When I arrived at the Union lobby at 19:00 that night, there stood a sea of green bandanas; at least 50 to 60 zombies were gathered around a bench, upon which stood the leading figures of the zombie war-effort. Whereas the humans have many small squads and different faction leaders, the zombies have managed to unite most of their forces under a centralized authority led jointly by two people.

On one side, clad in a black cloak and wielding a yellow NERF battleaxe like a scepter was Dan Haigh, the universally recognized Zombie King (as well as a member of the SBUNDEAD club’s eBoard). Beside him was his girlfriend and Zombie Queen, Megan “Morgan” Youmans, the leader of the elite zombie Stealth Squad. Both were discussing plans and ordering their troops around for the night’s mission, which involved intercepting airdropped supply boxes intended for the humans.

(Christian Santana / The Statesman)

“Remember,” Haigh said to much cheer, while punctuating each syllable by raising his axe. “They can pelt us with sock grenades, shoot us with darts and reset our stun timers—but they can’t take our brains!”

With that, the zombie horde unleashed itself upon campus, scrambling to find potential drop box locations. While patrolling with moderator Erik Servili, we found that some humans had the foresight to set out false “dummy” boxes to mislead the zombie scouts.

Meanwhile, back at the SAC plaza, the humans gathered around the perimeter of the building and the tent where they were to drop their found supply crates. Their guns were all pointed at us as we drew closer, though they relented when they noticed a camera dangling around my neck.

Meanwhile, the Zombie King himself approached the crowd, now donning a miner’s helmet topped with a red strobe light. After switching the light on, he declared with a smirk: “You’re all on radar.”

****

Day 5:  United we stand…

At around 20:30, the humans met in the North Parking Lot, near the Long Island Railroad station. Tonight was the first time I had seen the human resistance unified and in action.

All the major squads and militias were present; including Death Squad, clad in their soon-to-be ubiquitous black t-shirts emblazoned with a sniper rifle-wielding woman‘s red silhouette and Shadow Company, the coalition of squads unified and led by Michael Yen.

Along with Yen, many other human fighters were resurrected or present, including FoxHound’s leader, Nick Mann and Death Squad’s Chris DaSilva, armed with his “child,” a heavily modified red and black striped Longstrike CS-6 he calls “Ana-Lucia.”

Yen, clad in all black, wearing a headlamp, and wielding a combo NERF Alpha Trooper CS-18 and blowgun fashioned from PVC piping, is an important figure within the human resistance. He formed Shadow Company, which grew to be the largest human force in the entire game, with the intention of ensuring survival for himself and the largest amount of human resistors.

“Our focuses and strengths are organization, teamwork and leadership,” Yen said. “The combination of these traits will give Shadow Company its victories.”

Combining experience in fencing, paintball, capture the flag, HvZ games in Brooklyn and knowledge gleaned from poring over army training manuals, the fifth-year psychology and health sciences major compiled a manual of his own which he passed on to his comrades.

The manual details tactics such as combat formations and their uses, various zombie weaknesses and utilizing different paths to get to class—all tips and tricks that have proven useful to Yen in a time when zombie hit-squads were gunning for him.

“I wasn’t very well-known or recognized in-game last year,” Yen said. “This year, I’m paranoid because the zombies have made me a high-priority target, even going as far as distributing my picture and getting orders to tag me!”

The zombies had already gotten Yen once before; he was actually a zombie for the first few days of the game until he was resurrected following the slaughter at Javits and the library last night. Despite the looming threat of undead squads seeking him out, Yen still fights on the front lines with the troops he leads.

****

Day 6:  Divided we fall…

(Christian Santana / The Statesman)

The humans grouped together in front of the Sports Complex to be briefed for the day’s mini-mission, which involved the location and retrieval of intelligence vital to the night’s major mission.

“Two Marines, Cpl. Jeremy Dunn and Pvt. Ryan Ramirez, were sent here to help you,” moderator Jonathan Gottfried said to the crowd. “However, they were ambushed near the LIRR on their way to your bunker at the Life Sciences building, and in the process they dropped a tape recorder containing vital information.”

“Either side can use it to their advantage,” Gottfried said. “It will reveal troop locations for tonight’s major mission.”

The resistance leaders planned amongst themselves, and deliberated that it would make the most sense to search near the Marines’ last recorded location. They headed for the train station, following a path near the basketball and handball courts behind the Sports Complex.

They were quickly met with ambushes from zombie sprinters and scouts, who were hiding in the parking lots and behind the abundant trees around the path’s exit. The zombies hollered and yelled with a palpable desire for brains and flesh, though they refrained from attacking because of the humans’ superior numbers.

The humans proceeded towards the athletic fields, when they were suddenly attacked by joint force of zombies scouting in the woods and a larger, more organized group of undead moving down the other side of the path. In their fear and confusion, the humans rushed into the soccer field, hoping to close themselves off within its gates. This strategy managed to bottleneck them, and many were turned in the process. The humans that survived backed themselves onto a fence, huddling together into a phalanx formation in an attempt to fend off the dead.

They were surrounded. In an attempt to organize everyone, DaSilva called for those wielding Alpha Troopers and Raiders (two types of rapid-firing NERF rifles) to position themselves in front.

The sounds of NERF guns reloading and darts flying was punctuated by orders to keep firing as the group inched its way towards the gate it entered from. From then on, it was a long, slow crawl towards the open expanse of the stadium parking lot, where the humans learned from a messenger that the zombies had already obtained the tape recorder and were on a course to Javits. A large portion of the humans surrendered and sought refuge in the Sports Complex, where they regrouped and tried to brainstorm a plan to get back to their dorms and cars without walking into certain death at the hands of the huge throng of undead just outside the building. I don’t know if they made it or not.

****

Day 8: Absolutely pure luck…

Earlier today, resistance members managed to rescue a CDC scientist, escorting him from the Physics building to the Infirmary.

The scientist, known only as Dr. Keller, has warned the humans of a new mutation of the original Z1H1 virus that has evolved because of the prevalent use of antidotes among the human forces. The new strain, known as Z3H1, is highly resistant to current medicine. Because of this mutation, two antidotes are now required to treat any wounds caused by coming into contact with the undead.

(Christian Santana / The Statesman)

Keller will attempt to synthesize a new treatment, and the humans are to protect him and his laboratory while he does so.

“We might be able to synthesize a new antidote,” said another scientist, known only as Dr. Ded. “However, the chances are slim.”

The humans freely traded antidotes amongst themselves, so that those who had fewer than two would be able to survive the inevitable zombie charges. They positioned themselves at the bottom of the Staller steps and on the platforms and balconies overlooking them, successfully defending Keller and receiving more powerful antidotes in the process.

That night, another mission was received from the Resistance’s coordinators. A cryptic transmission that originated from Tabler Quad was picked up by one of the Marines. Humans were told to track down the source of the transmission, code-named Agent GKNOVA6, and extract her from zombie territory for interrogation.

The humans began a long trek from the Administration building’s parking lot to Tabler Quad, where the zombies had already gotten a head start on searching for GK-NOVA6. As the humans entered the quad, zombies peered out from over the walls and behind the trees, receding into the cover of darkness when flashlights were shined in their direction. As soon as the resistance forces passed, the formerly shrouded undead emerged from their hiding places and followed. A second group descended from the hill by Toscanini College and backed the humans against a tree.

All the while, a scout on the zombie side had already dealt with GK-NOVA6, having run into her while surveying the trails between Roosevelt and Tabler.

“It was absolute pure luck, but we got her,” said the Zombie King, after the mission. “Our scout was headed here [Tabler] from Roosevelt and happened upon the NPC we needed to find.”

****

Day 9:  The Final Stand

It had just so happened that the human and zombie forces were nearly evenly matched in numbers on the final day, at about 300 players on each side. The 200 other players in the game had starved themselves to death as zombies and were rendered inactive.

The humans decided to hold their final briefing and regrouping at 17:00 in Roosevelt Quad’s courtyard. They seemed to have mostly recovered from the previous night’s devastating loss; many of them were smiling, laughing or singing songs to boost morale. Some even used their blowguns as impromptu vuvuzelas.

In the midst of all the ruckus, squad leaders were working on combat strategies and formations to mitigate the damage done by zombie rush tactics.

Michael Yen of Shadow Company and other leaders devised a formation that involved “Vulcans (a fully automatic dart cannon) at the sides, Magstrikes and Raiders in the center, blowguns at the back and everyone else in the front.”

To much laughter, someone in the crowd yelled, “shoot them only when you can see the jaundice in their eyes!”

Meanwhile, moderator Kenneth Ejerta, clad in a ghillie suit and armed with a blowgun, climbed up the nearby wooded hill to pick off eavesdropping zombie scouts in the distance.

The humans received their briefing soon after; they were to pick up the scattered parts of a transmitter and rebuild it so that an army helicopter could be called in for supporting fire. The humans would need to defend the landing zone, located at the Physics Building’s lawn, for 30 minutes, the last five of which would be “shoot to kill.”

The transmitter was to be constructed at the lawn near the generator that was defended during Tuesday’s mission. The humans scattered into groups to both locate the transmitter’s components and defend the soldiers assembling it. Zombies were not to attack the humans while they constructed the transmitter within the safe zone. However, the humans were fair game once it was completed. For what seemed like hours, the humans and zombies stood at opposite sides of Engineering Drive, hurling insults and from the human side, darts and socks, at each other as cars passed by, perplexed by the commotion. Some humans were picked off while they were outside of the safe zone.

After what seemed like an eternity, the humans finally assembled their transmitter and proceeded to the Physics building lawn. The zombies also left as soon as they got word of this.

(Christian Santana / The Statesman)

Both armies positioned themselves on opposite ends of the lawn, each getting into their formations; zombies arranged into their wave tactic, while the humans assumed the formation dictated by Yen and other commanders earlier.

Once the go-ahead was given, the lawn was a site of bitter fighting; darts and socks littered the ground, humans scrambled to pick up their lost ammo and zombies crashed into walls of defending humans. Humans would drop their guns in the midst of the fright and commotion, and were subsequently tagged. More and more resistance members were tagged amid orders from their leaders to hold their ground, and the din of improvised blowgun trumpets filled the air.

The minutes passed, with the human group getting smaller at each moment, until the 25-minute mark arrived.

“Shoot to kill, shoot to kill!” was the only thing heard throughout the dwindling human resistance, until the clock reached the minute mark.

“Just a minute left, everyone!”

Fallen zombies were unable to respawn and tag humans within the shoot-to-kill window, and they promptly fell where they stood or retreated to the side. The remaining humans picked off any charging undead.

Thirty seconds, then twenty, then ten passed, with the tension and expectation of victory for the human side growing inversely proportional to the decreasing timer.

Victory had arrived.

With that, cheers erupted from the human camp. Guns were fired into the air, sock grenades were tossed into the sky, squads chanted their mottos and blowguns were played like herald horns.

Death Squad’s members stood to the side, chanting “when we roll, we roll deep.” The Stimson Resistance was in the rear, repeating “Stimson” like a sort of mantra. Squads whose leaders were at odds with one another shook hands and embraced. Friends from opposing sides congratulated one another on a good game.

The humans were proud; they had won and ensured the survival of the mankind for yet another day… well, at least until next semester.

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  • F

    FionaOct 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks for the update and photos!

    Reply
  • C

    Christian SantanaOct 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/55122698@N07/sets/72157625114758161/with/5115005904/

    here’s an album containing more photos on flickr for whoever is interested!

    Reply