Thursday, 23 December 2010

Put the Epsom in the Irrigation!

Phew, last night was exhausting. It was the finale of Fifteen Days of Darkness and boy was it tense! For those of you not familiar with the game, there are a number of great player made wikias set up for each "act" or "round" or whatever in the series (Vanessa Atalanta - Act 1, Ministry of Argon - Act 2 and Fifteen Days of Darkness - Act 3) and the unFiction thread can be found here. I've said it a billion times and I'll say it again, the best place to get involved with games like this is unFiction and the whole VA/MoA/15DD saga can be followed there aswell.

I'm going to describe to you how it all went down, and hopefully I can convey some of the tension and urgency which I felt playing it. Quick synopsis of the story, in fact I'll start with the summary the PM gave me when I joined the game late:

"very quick praisee - order of oborot have proven to be the 'bad guys' building up towards something at winter solstice.
Vladimir Sirin [from last game] has remembered everything, was kidnapped by them [possibly] and is now trying o 'hack' the leader [Jayden Doyle]'s mind.
This is via chess and riddles done by Internet pages where people have to work out the answer to each page before moving onto the next..."
After we fully hacked Jayden's mind we discovered the Order's final plan - they were growing Erigeron Breviscapus - also known as the Flower of Life - using some power provided by the eclipse and the winter solstice to achieve eternal life. We didn't know where they were growing the plants, and we weren't 100% on what they were going to do with them - but we knew they were bad and must be stopped!
The Chess Master's Final Move

So, Tuesday evening myself, the_claw and Dagada were faced with a quandary - do we ask the long standing character, the seemingly all-powerful Vladamir Sirin, to delve deeper into Jayden's mind in order to extract more information and possibly save Ben (an Order member who's body Jayden had invaded with his consciousness), but also risk killing both Ben and Jayden in the process? Or do we ask Vladamir to withdraw, sparing Jayden, but possibly not saving Ben?

We struggled with the choice, dear readers, we hesitated and faltered and left it till the last minute - we simply couldn't choose! Eventually we bit the bullet and decided to urge Vlad to push further into Jayden's mind to extract more info. My reasoning was as follows: Vladamir, although at times secretive and manipulative, is a good man and would gladly risk his own safety for the safety of others. Similarly, if we do not push forward we spare Jayden (a seemingly ruthless man who had no problem invading someone else's body for his own means) and lose Ben. So, onward and upward Mr Sirin. This choice, it appeared, was not without consequence.

The strain of pushing further into Jayden's mind, probably coupled with the fact that we ummed and eeerred for so long was too much for Vlad. He managed to evict Jayden and gather more information, but in the process he succumbed to the pressure and died. Oh woe! Oh damn and blast!

It seemed as if we had made the wrong choice, we had sacrificed one of the most important characters and we weren't even sure what it was worth - all we had gained was a cryptic video message from Vlad and a dead Jayden.
But then Ben chirped up on his facebook wall - he was alive! We'd saved him! He had woken up in a dark flat above a shop in London.
Furthermore, we were able to use the images in Vlad's final message to hack Jayden's account on the Order of Oberon's message board, there we found a final farewell by Jayden to the members of the Order and his conversations with a mysterious character "MeeM" to whom he appeared to be reporting. MeeM demanded reports every few months from Jayden, each time Jayden reported our actions to this overseer and MeeM responded with derision and aggression - eventually it emerged that MeeM intended all along for Vlad to hack Jayden's mind, and in fact had sacrificed Jayden to kill Vlad. I think at that point we all appreciated the gravity of what we had done. Jayden was just another pawn, as were we.

You ain't gettin' on no Train Foo'!

Ben described to us his surroundings, he had woken up in the flat in London, above a shop with the shutters down. Next door was another shop called "Ecomax" where he grabbed a bite to eat and then headed left and round the corner to a tube station called "Stamford... something", then he took the district line into the center - intending to take a train up North. We recognised that he'd essentially been a prisoner in his own body for many weeks and it would probably be best if he could get some rest and see Claire.

It occurred to me, however, that we kind of ignored the information which Ben had given us (and in these games you learn quickly that nothing is irrelevant, we are not given information which has no purpose). I decided to take another look at the place where he had woken up, I looked up Ecomax and myself and the_claw tracked his movements along Chiswick High Road and down Goldhawk Road to Stamford Brooks tube station. There must be something important in the area, then it hit me: Jayden had taken his body to that specific shop next to Ecomax - so I checked it out.

A freaking pharmacist! A perfect place to grow experimental regenerative herbs! My suspicions were confirmed when the_claw - having been reporting to MeeM and pretending to be Jayden, received the following reply:

Message subject: Re: Report
From: MeeM
Sent: Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:16 pm
To: JayD
You write early in the day for me, but I can understand your urgency to inform me of this, little rabbit.
What extra information do you need to know? The plants are in your care still, are they not? Growing comfortably in that dismal city you call home? So what is it you need to know? On the 4th we will be glorious, alive and never turning back...

This message confirmed to us that the plants were growing in London. I quickly contact Ben through facebook (on my blackberry, not the easiest thing to do!) and asked him to stop and head back to the shop. He wasn't happy. I had to guilt him a bit - gave him the old "many have sacrificed their lives for this" speech and eventually he started heading back across London.

Put the Epsom in the Irrigation!

The employees at the pharmacy, presumably, still worked for the Order of Oberon. So, when Ben arrived they recognised him as the Jayden who had showed up and spent the past few weeks asleep on the bed upstairs. They admitted him without argument and left him alone to explore the shop and find the plants. Ben found his way into a back room, pitch black and stuffy, we asked him to rummage around in his pockets for anything which might light the room, he came out with a lighter.
Once he could see by the light of the flame he described the room to us, lines of shelves with seedlings supported by an irrigation system coming from plants. At the end was a window with a shutter over it - angled so as to catch the light of the moon. As he described the surroundings, he complained of a wooziness, but he soldiered on. He uploaded a picture of the shutter to facebook:

Ben activated the shutter, and a countdown appeared - we feared we might be caught! The device had a musical lock, which needed a specific sequence to unlock it. Thankfully Sarah (the_claw) was quick on the case and described to Ben how to play the melody composed by Mozart which we encountered earlier in the ARG. This, thankfully, stopped the countdown.
However, this extra time in the room had left Ben extra extra woozy. We figured it was some kind of gas meant to keep the plants alive, but it certainly wasn't good for Ben! He started to pass out, we frantically suggested items to hurl at/bash the window with, chairs, water tanks, keys... in the end he just went through the door... clever boy.

Once Ben had gained his composure he took a look around the shop - we realise we probably shouldn't just wander round in full view of the cameras, so he used his new found abilities (gifted to him by Vlad upon departure) to take out the security cameras. Unfortunately, the effort caused a nosebleed. We could tell he wasn't exactly having a hoot so we devised a plan to kill the plants quickly and quietly. We asked Ben to scour the pharmacists for anything which might be harmful to the plants - Bleach, Salts etc.
He came up with some Epsom salts. Brillo!

So, we urged him to quickly and quietly fill the water tanks with as much salt as he could muster and turn the irrigation system up to full to give the plants a full blast of its salty goodness. Boom baby! After a couple of breaks to get some air, he was done. We told him to make sure he cleaned himself up (would look a bit suspicious walking out there with a bloody nose!) and calmly make his way out the shop as if nothing happened. I don't even think he knew that he might just have saved the world.

Once this was done the PM, Paul, gave us an out of game tip that the game was now over until 4th January. We still aren't sure if we won - did the salts kill the plants and stop MeeM from achieving eternal life? Was it all in vain? Will Jack Morgan top the charts this Christmas with "Little Mouse"? The answer to the first two questions will come early next year. The answer to the final one: No. It's Matt Cardle. Stupid.

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