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Tour of Duty - Never Burn Money *LONG*
Posted By: PerseusSpartacusDate: 9/23/12 5:01 p.m.

TOUR OF DUTY

Welcome to another exciting edition of Tour of Duty. Last time, we were exploring BioCore Vents in search of a mysterious Assault Rifle. The final terminal of the last level told us that we needed to replace the damaged circuit boards for the Marathon's automated defenses. This time, we will search through Automatic Manufacturing Systems for three of the replacement circuit boards, and meet a new and dangerous foe.

NOTE - The experiences described in Tour of Duty are of an early version of M1A1. If you encounter any differences in your experiences, please feel free to point them out for everyone's benefit.

When we begin the level, we are inside of a small chamber containing both a Pattern Buffer and a Terminal ("Yoink!"). Now, the door to exit is interesting. It consists of two frontal 'bars' that open in opposite directions along with a large angled section. This angled section, when it reaches the ceiling, activates another angled section. All in all, a very complex door. My guess as to why this was thrown in was just for the sake of practice; Greg Kirkpatrick was probably playing with the platform parameters and created something fun just to show he could (Greg created the level, as you will see if you go here).

We throw ourselves out the door, look to our right and see... WHAT IN THE NAME OF?!?!

Sprite sheet for M1 Wasp

Meet the Wasp. These guys are very weak, but en masse, they can wittle away your health with those globs of... er, I'm not really sure I know what those things they shoot are, or whether I even want to know what they are.

There's two of these guys at the start, along with a dozen or so Fighters homing in from two opposing corridors. This fight is pretty straight-forward, and is also good practice for run-punch acrobatics. Nevertheless, on Total Carnage, this fight may be a bit too nasty for just jumping straight into. You'll probably want to shoot the Wasps with your Pistol, dump some AR rounds on the Fighters to wittle down their numbers, and then jump in both fists raised.

After punching our way through that fist-fight, you'll want to investigate the corridors the Fighters came from. Each corridor contains an interesting piston-like platform and a bunch of side-rooms. One of these side-rooms contains an AR and some ammo, another contains a 1x Recharger, and yet another contains a Wasp and a low window looking down into a big room. After investigating the corridors, you head down the left side of the hallway you entered at the very beginning, to enter another fist-fight with some Fighters. This room is dim, but it has a hidden switch on the backside of a column which will turn on the lights, making the fist-fighting a bit easier. You'll also find an elevator. It's easier if you don't go up this yet.

Instead, we head through a door into a dark stairwell. We emerge into a pair of rooms containing Wasps, Fighters, two Uplink Chips, a Terminal, a Pattern Buffer, and some AR Magazines. This Terminal reveals there was a bit of an error in the transportation systems (possibly a result of the S'pht assault on the Marathon's computer network), and so we have to head up to another section of the area. But not yet! There's a semi-hidden alcove in the brighter room, containing some Pistol and AR ammo. Sweet.

Now, we head back up the stairwell and into the elevator we avoided earlier. We head up into a dark hallway. Fighting our way through this hallway, we find a big, dark room teeming with Fighters, Wasps, and a S'pht Compiler. It's probably best to grenade the Compiler straightaway; you don't want him to get into attack-mode before you've had a chance to put the hurt on him. Once he's down, things are fairly straight-forward, as the Fighters and the Wasps both fall quickly and easily to close/mid-range AR fire. You'll find an intriguing Terminal, a Pattern Buffer, and a switch in this room. Flipping the switch activates a large elevator in the center of the room. Hop off the elevator onto each of the four corner alcove. Eventually you'll step on one that turns out to be a platform, and you'll end up going straight up a level, into a small area containing a Fighter, a Wasp, and another switch. Flick the switch and head back down. You'll find that a small niche opened up in one of the alcoves, containing the third Uplink Chip. But don't read the Terminal next to it yet - you have another secret to find!

Proceeding back through the dark hallway which led into the final room, try tapping the 'action' key at the walls until a secret door opens. You'll find a ledge. Don't jump down, however. The M1A1 version of this secret room is a bit different. Edge your way forward until you finally fall off the ledge. Make sure you fall almost straight down. You'll land on another ledge which teleports you to a third, smaller ledge. To your right you'll see a teleporter and yet another ledge. Leap over to this teleporter, and you'll find yourself in a nasty teleporter maze containing a few enemies and some ammo. When you reach the end, you'll find the infamous Gherrit White terminal. To save you bandwidth and time, here's the text from the terminal:

Data Transfer from Leela
Host 39.59.19.21
Transfer Durandal
Error Unknown

Transfer Durandal
Error Unknown

Interior Error

***MESSAGE RECEIVED***

Gheritt White had been floating six feet off the floor for
three weeks. His feet and hands tingled, and his eyes burned
with the flames of a dying fire. He had last heard someone
speak to him as the cell door slammed shut. He didn't
remember what the uniformed man had said. The words had
bounced off the bars of the cell and rang through Gheritt's
ears. Gheritt had been talking to himself for the last few
minutes, something about getting caught, but then his ears
began to tingle just like his hands.

He looked at his hands, but the fire in his eyes made him
blink. Tears came, and when he opened his eyes again, his
hands had been melted into fleshy pancakes that wafted in the
ripples flowing over the fire in his eyes.

"Damn cell," he heard someone say. "Last time I had a good
meal was three days ago. The food they feed you in here could
kill a lab rat."

Rats. He had remembered something about rats. But his ears
began to ring again and the voice speaking to him faded off
into the background of his mind. In its place, there was a
new sound, the clapping of hands together. He blinked hard to
made out his hands again. They had disappeared; his arms
connected at the wrists.

He thought back to the time he went ice skating on a pond. He
remembered the sound of his skates on ice, a gentle scrapping.
Scrapping away now inside his ears, trying to tear down his
thoughts. There had been a woman with a white fur tube over her
hands. Her wrists were like his now. The wrists of
someone who had tried too many times to clap his hands. He
had been applauding everyone else in life, but never himself.
The hands, like himself, had been put into prison, and he
didn't know why.

"Can't sleep in here, if the smell of this musty bedroll
doesn't make you sick, then the sound of the rats chewing
inside the walls will keep you up. You'll wake up from your
dreams to their little chomping. Sometimes I think that they
are chewing me..." The voice was coming from inside the cell,
but Gheritt couldn't see anyone.

Gheritt hadn't always been alone, he could vaguely recall from
somewhere inside his broken mind that there had been friends,
lovers, murderers.

He recalled a theory he had come up with after a bloody
schoolhouse brawl. The theory was simple. At some point in
time, everyone was a murderer. Whether or not they ever felt
remorse, they had all wanted someone dead. Hatred. Everyone
knew the feeling of hatred. Gheritt had known hatred on that
schoolyard. His beater had laughed at their bloody faces, a
laugh which now echoed through his ears, rhythmically blocking
out the other voice in the cell.

The schoolyard was usually a place where Gheritt and his
friends would play football or foursquare or something, but
today, there was an edge. Maybe everyone had eaten cereal
with milk that was about to go bad, or maybe there was too
much smoke in the air from the wheeling hubcap factory.
Football had been extremely rough. Gheritt had gone to play
foursquare after he got tackled by five boys who weren't his
friends. But today, even foursquare had an evil twist. The
top square today had become habituated to making fun of the
first square. Gheritt had decided that it was an evil day.
When his beater started to push him around, he exploded.
Hatred flowed from his eyes, his hands and feet began to
tingle. All of his coordination left him, and his face was
beaten to a bloody mess. The schoolyard disciplinarian had
been slow to notice the ensuing carnage, and she didn't really
care anyway.

Gheritt would have killed him if he could have. He would have
torn out the eyes of his beater. He would have made him pay
for his abuses. But his hands had begun to tingle. He
couldn't feel his feet and he had begun to float off the
ground.

Everyone was a murderer, but Gheritt couldn't remember his
reason for why that was so. He thought it was something about
hands, the passion for justice. His hands and feet had begun
to tingle, and he was floating farther off the floor. He
looked up from his hands, and he saw the bars of the cell,
moving left and right, opening wide and then closing shut
like the surf coming up a beach. Every time that he thought
he would be safe, the bars crested up, the opening closing,
the wave rising, crashing. The result would be the same, he
would never escape. The bars would crush him, break his back.

He could feel the roughness of the sand under his palms, for
all the motion of the waves around him, his hands had come to
rest serenely upon the ocean floor. His body tossed and
flipped, pivoting about his hands under which he could feel
the safe, coarse sand. The wave crashed one final time, he
landed upside down, his hands thrown clear from the sandy
bottom, the rush of the water filling his ears, his nose, his
mouth, the sound of crashing water cascading down from his
feet to his head- penetrating his mind to tear down thoughts.
Like the sand castle he had built to withstand the tide, his
thoughts came down around him.

Gheritt had a good life, so much time, so much time. He had
loved swimming, turning, beating. He had loved the tingle in
his hands and feet, his inability to kill his nemesis. Once
he had fallen down the stairs, and just for a moment, his
hands came to rest on the carpet of the stairs. In that
instant, his body had frozen, floating over the stairs, safe
from falling, but the moment didn't last. The ocean crashed
about him, his hands torn free from the sandy bottom, his body
flipping, falling.

But now he levitated farther up, his hands still tingling. He
began to float through the bars, he expected the instant of
safety as his hands found footing, but that moment did not
come, the bars squeezed his body. His chest tingled. As he
fell through his cage, his legs tingled. The fire in his eyes
had become a cold wind, he blinked away tears. He tumbled
through the bars, spinning and turning, he could see a man.
In his hand he saw a small white rat. A pounding, the
crashing waves in his ears became rhythmical, hard. The man
was beating the rat against the floor. Pounding, pounding.
Blood covered his hands, the man's hands tingled. He had
broken them on the floor of the cell. Disciplinarian, lover,
murderer. Gheritt looked back into the cell. He saw himself,
disciplinarian, lover, murderer. He had killed his nemesis.
The rat lay dead in his bloody hands. At last, he held the
throat of his beater.

He escaped into the waves.

The waves.

***END MESSAGE***

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Reply Unknown

Wow, that was long. Now you can head back to the final room and read the end terminal, taking you to Defend THIS!

Now, time for the aesthetic and story elements of the level. I think it's interesting that we've changed from the dark, melancholy themes of Landing and Leela to the frenetic action of Fat Man. It really shows that you've gotten over the dark shock of your first encounter with the Pfhor and now you're kind of... having fun killing the aliens. That reminds me of a later quote from Durandal:

Perhaps, you are doing what you were meant to do. Your human
mentality screams for vengeance and thrives on the violence
that you say you can hardly endure. Your father told you as a
child to always fight with honor, but to always fight. Do you
care about honor, or do you use honor as an excuse? An excuse
to exist in a violent world.

Organic beings are constantly fighting for life. Every
breath, every motion brings you one instant closer to your
death. With that kind of heritage and destiny, how can you
deny yourself? How can you expect yourself to give up
violence?

It is your nature. - Durandal, Fire! (x5)

Or perhaps that is not the case. Perhaps we're not the serial-killer, lusting for wicked pleasure in the deaths of alien foes as Durandal would say. Perhaps we're the action-hero, blasting away aliens with grace and agility, rescuing humanity from destruction. That makes me think of a terminal from Rubicon X:

I cannot count all the times I have seen films where the hero
makes a last stand and overcomes the most impossible odds.
And how many times
have I imagined myself in that situation, blasting away foes by
the dozens
, wishing I could be the centerpiece of such drama.
- An unknown guard aboard the Salinger, Rubicon X, With utility bills like these...

I think the Rubicon X team accidentally gave a nice alternative vision of our character's personality - dreaming that he is the hero, overcoming impossible odds, blasting away aliens by the dozens.

But of course, such dreams are immature. ;)

Cheers,
Perseus

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Replies:

Tour of Duty - Never Burn Money *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 9/23/12 5:01 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Never Burn Money *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 9/23/12 5:09 p.m.
     Re: Tour of Duty - Never Burn Money *LONG*Godot 9/24/12 10:03 a.m.
           Re: Tour of Duty - Never Burn Money *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 9/24/12 2:54 p.m.
                 Re: Tour of Duty - Never Burn Money *LONG*Godot 9/24/12 11:40 p.m.
                       Re: Tour of Duty - Never Burn Money *LONG*PerseusSpartacus 9/25/12 7:08 a.m.

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