The Von Braun Incident: Chapter 9 – Basketball is not for weaklings

Chapter 8

Chapter 10

And we are back with a new, and rather special, chapter of The Von Braun Incident. It’s the first time I’ve come up with a chapter title! The plan is to go back and add titles for the other chapters as well.

Push the button.

This time we get a rather nasty surprise, and as usual almost manage to get ourselves killed. It’s becoming a habit.

As I mention down in the logs I find the Viral Proliferator this time, and honestly it felt a little underwhelming. That could of course have been partly to do with how the big target I was after wasn’t exactly a pure annelid after all as I had thought, but rather an evolved Hybrid. That, combined with the effort it takes to find ammunition for the thing makes me wonder how useful it’ll actually be, but I’m gonna take it along for now.

——————–

89th entry: I am inside. The passkey worked. I passed by the the cinema on the way, and it’s certainly seen better days. I actually vaguely remember going there. I know SHODAN attempted to wipe all my memories of what happened aboard this ship, but I also know memory is a tricky thing. The only guests now were some annelid eggs. One of the cyborg ninjas had taken it upon himself to man the snack kiosk outside. Anyway, I need to see if I can figure out where Cortez went. I need… I need him to still be alive.

90th entry: May the bastards rot. It seems they’ve turned the entire crew quarters area into a breeding ground. Droids and Hybrids walk the hallways as guards, while almost every room has more eggs than I care to count. At least I have the passkey to Athletics now. That’s something. I do still have more rooms to search though. I need to find that device. Weapon. Whatever it is. Hopefully I can figure out how to use it without poisoning myself.

91st entry: I found it! What… whatever it is. It looks like a rifle or cannon of sorts, and I’m fairly certain it must be annelid in origin, or at least based off of them. The other rooms didn’t hold much, but I found another ghost, so that’s just lovely. Watching a woman weep herself into hysteria is how I like spending my evenings. Am I better off now than I was? Who can say. The next thing on the agenda will be to research this weapon then. Figure out how to use it safely before I attempt to fire it at anything. I have a feeling I won’t especially enjoy the hike back to the chemical storage. Distressingly there’s no sign of Cortez, alive or dead. Where could he have gone?

92nd entry: I made it into the Athletics sector just as research completed on the weapon. I was right in my hypothesis that the annelid worms I’d found in the beakers are meant as ammunition for this thing. I can apparently adjust the settings to damage annelids or humans. This was not built by annelids though. It seems to have been constructed by humans. But who? Cortez and his gang seem to have no idea where it came from, at least according to the logs. And I can’t imagine the ones joined with the Many making such a destructive weapon that would afflict their own masters. Could it have been Taylor himself? How could he have misused it, if that were the case? It’s a mystery, but I will keep it with me. Should one of those flesh giants show up, this might give it pause.

93rd entry: That was curious. I went over the map for the Athletics section before I ventured past the locker room, and I figured I’d check the top door first. I heard a blast just as I approached, and the door is no longer responding. I wonder if there’s a way I can get in from the basketball court besides it. I’ll just open th- Christ Almighty! [roar heard in the background before audio cuts]

94th entry: Okay, that ‘superweapon’ I found? Practically useless. I pumped all I had into the flesh giant and it didn’t even slow it down. In the end I beat it into submission with the crystal branch. It had more speed and power than me, but I had more agility. I don’t know how many blows it took, I honestly didn’t count, but it’s dead now. I made sure. I used the branch to further slice it open and extract what the computer deemed to be the central organ. SHODAN says the thing is called a ‘Rumbler’, but she doesn’t want to offer anything more. I’ll do my own research then. I have also found the transmitter now on the viewing floor of the court, but I’m still missing one number on the activation code. And I’m not about to start guessing.

95th entry: No no no no. Damn it! Damn it all. This is not what I wanted to hear at all. The Rumbler is apparently a Hybrid that has further evolved, but it is not the final form, according to the research computer. It’s more like an in-between kind of deal of the regular Hybrids I’ve been smashing, and a third as of yet unknown form. On the plus side they don’t like fire. On the minus I don’t really have any incendiaries. SHODAN isn’t talking, so I have no recourse but to dread the future. Not that that’s entirely new, of course. I still need to find the final part of the code. Where have I forgotten to look?

96th entry: I found the final part of the code and activated the transmitter. SHODAN weakened Xerxes and seized control, then spread out and attempted to wipe out her ‘creations’, as she called them. Apparently they have too firm a hold on the ship though, so she has opened the elevator up to deck 6. She says she’ll give me further instructions up there. A pity. I knew it was too good to be true, but I had still hoped… still hoped it would be over. That I could have rested. It is also rather worrying that she said the signal had been tampered with. What, exactly, did we transmit to Earth?

97th entry: Our new plan, as crazy as we are. I am to access the bridge and scuttle the Von Braun completely. Destroy every little part of it, to rid ourselves of the Many, the annelids and the Hybrids, and then escape in the Rickenbacker. What could go wrong? Okay, first task is to access the bridge and transfer SHODAN to the Rickenbacker. Could the captain still be here? And if he is, what has he turned into by now? I honestly do not want to find out. Either way, I am certain the Many will throw whatever they have left at us to stop us. Spiders, Rumblers, droids and more.

98th entry: The voices speak again. Saying they won’t allow Xerxes to be destroyed. Taunting me about whether their ‘machine mother’ would be as generous towards her servants. Probably not, but I have a feeling I wouldn’t like the way the Many would ‘take care of’ me. They also mentioned Earth. They think we’ve done a poor job managing it. They might be right, but as for thinking they could do a better job, that is stretching it beyond my belief. I do wonder where Cortez went. The crew quarters were swarming, and that’s the last place I saw him. Did he also make it up here? Is that too much to wish for?

99th entry: I am at the tram. Several dead bodies here; I assume they were killed attempting to escape. I have been thinking. The Many have to be stopped. They can’t be allowed to reach any other planet, or space station, or even ship. And definitely not get all the way to Earth. But can I allow SHODAN to make it back to anywhere either? The havoc she could cause… the havoc she did cause the first time around. Honestly, she is to blame for everything that has happened here as well. While I support her plan of destroying the Von Braun, I think I should attempt to destroy the Rickenbacker as well, when opportunity allows. None of us can be allowed to make it back. We must all perish out here.

——————–

I guess the bridge of the Von Braun is our next stop. Will we find Korenchkin there? Maybe even Captain Diego? Or will they both have retreated to the Rickenbacker? Maybe the bridge will simply hold four Rumblers?! We’ll find out next time.

Chapter 8

Chapter 10

~Wulf

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Posted on January 29, 2013, in Games, Retrospective, Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. The Recreation and Command decks are my favorite areas in the game. The reason for this is that they have the most interesting level structures with respect to areas and I feel that the developers put the most effort into making the areas interesting. I particularly like how the levels are based around either loops or a branching linear structure which allow you to explore what appears to be a realistic ship structure. The tram is clearly one of the more linear parts of the game, but it still feels novel having a tram running the length of the ship’s hull. It’s also the best area where the story is told in both environment, emails and logs..whilst having lots of interesting events to deal with. The story is going to change pretty quickly now as both Many and SHODAN take a number of pieces off the chess board.

    I particularly liked the corpses which seem to disgorge annelid worms when you get close. It’s something that gave me no end of uncomfortable moments when searching certain areas.

    Since you removed XERXES as controlling AI in the system, the Many are in a weakened position and are now evolving their strategy to deal with your actions. You probably haven’t played the original System Shock, but SHODAN did a similar role in the original game when you’d defeated her primary plans and she switched from offensive to defensive whilst looking to escape. The Many are now in a similar position as they no longer have the power to control the ship or use the main drives since you took over the SIM units. They know about SHODAN’s plans to destroy the Von Braun, and they only have to get a handful of eggs of the ship to start the the whole infection process again. SHODAN also had a potential survival issue in that she’s stuck on a ship that she is planning to destroy. She has been turning her research talents to that problem as well..!

    It’s also interesting how it would benefit the Many to send out a distress call to attract more humans to help it get to Earth. SHODAN on the other hand does not want people to know that it survived Citadel Station, and so it’s a pretty obvious ploy by SHODAN to use the transmitter to cripple XERXES without sending out a transmission to bring any help. Which makes you question what plan she is really working to.

    The Viral Proliferator has two modes. For attacking the Rumblers, it might be better to use the “Human” mode to take them out at a distance as that’s more effective. The major issue is that the Rumblers move so quickly that keeping them at a distance can be an issue.

    You will probably see that the Rumbler has a useless head on one shoulder as the brain is no longer in charge of the body. You may ask yourself what happens to the brains as the organism mutates to meet the needs of The Many..and what happens to those people who side with SHODAN but fail to meet her expectations. You may not be the only person she has had contact with..

    • I do know that Delacroix had extensive contact with SHODAN, and was basically set to do the same job I’ve been doing, but I can only assume she failed to meet SHODAN’s expectations, as you put it. And I don’t think I’ve yet to see either Delacroix’s or Cortez’s bodies, so not sure what to expect there.

      And yeah, the speed of the Rumbler is a real factor, and why I ended up panicking and just wailing on it with the crystal branch until it was dead, and then some. Pretty much all the creatures I run into are still a threat, if I forget to use tactics. I can’t exactly just charge in anywhere, guns blazing, as there’s always the very real option I’d get killed. Sometimes it’s better to just sneak past.

      Bodies with worms coming out of them are always super-creepy. I do wonder though, if I just ‘saved’ them from becoming a hybrid. That was another thing about the Rumbler, finding out that it was just an evolved hybrid, with the implication that all of them would become like that eventually. And the thought that they’re protecting a highly evolved but unconnected brain for some eventual next stage of evolution is not exactly encouraging.

      • I think that the annelids needs somewhere warm and wet to develop and they partially consume their host. This is why they’re found in the shower plumbing and corpses. They might already be dead, but the Many don’t waste any organic matter. They wind up being food for more worms. In a level or two, you’ll find out where all that organic matter has been going. And it’s not winding up in burgers served at the cafeteria.

        There’s a log by Turnbull (who I think was one of the security staff working under Bronson) who left the MedSci deck to find out the password for the Armory and wound up getting infected..and in her final log she talks about the work eating her from the inside. You find the log on a body in Hydroponics which suggests that that was her. The people infected who manage to resist the psi-control of the Many are do not relish the transformation..and the hybrids also call out to you to kill them. I assume that once infected, the parasite stops you from suicide as an option once you lose control of your body.

        System Shock (I and II) is very good at discouraging charging in with all guns blazing approach to gaming. It’s sort of the anti-Call of Duty in that respect with camera and turrets because you can find yourself rapidly swamped by multiple target which can kill you in one or two shots..like the turrets. Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite have weakened this very important gameplay element as they reposition the game for the CoD gamer market they hope to tap into. It’s a mistake because it’s what a survival horror game is all about – the fear of dying as your meagre resources are consumed fighting something much bigger than yourself

        If you’re playing as any character other than a marine, then you need to take a very considered approach moving around the Von Braun as your offensive skills are very weak. Suddenly meeting a Rumbler as soon as you enter the Athletics area is a classic horror trope. It’s the equivalent of opening a door whilst distracted talking to someone (despite a fake shock moment before when you expect something to happen and it didn’t)..and suddenly being grabbed by something through the door.

        Up until then, it’s been a constant challenge that you could deal with..one enemy at a time, but the Rumbler fight forces you into a panic as it was something you were not prepared for. Rumblers are used by The Many to guard areas of importance and are thankfully few in number. But where they are employed, you can be sure that something important is very close they want to keep you away from..

        In the first game, SHODAN took those whom she wanted and used nanites to transform them into mindless cyborg human hybrids to do her bidding. She doesn’t like her drones to have too much free will because they cannot either challenge her or prove to be much of an offensive threat. The problem with you is that she needs your skills and initiative to fight The Many which is why you are still human. What happens once either The Many or SHODAN are vanquished? What will happen then in your future?

      • Oh, I forgot to say – Enrique Cortex is dead. His corpse in somewhere in the Crew Lounge..having being mangled shortly by something big after seeing you and banging on the window. It seems in System Shock..every time you come up against one of the living, their life expectancy can be measured in minutes..!

        And if you’ve ever wondered what Ken Levine sounded like, he is the voice of Cortez.

        In fact I think that at your current position there are only five or six uninfected crew members remaining within the game..and you’re going to just a bit too late to save any of them..assuming you don’t accidentally kill them yourself! 🙂

      • I think SHODAN has had contact with five people on board ship – Bayliss, Polito, Prefontaine, Delacroix and yourself. Polito was offered the chance to become SHODANs avatar and shot herself when she knew what she’d done. Delacroix is still on the loony AI payroll, but SHODAN is suspicious to her loyalty. Bayliss was somehow immune to The Many which made him an asset to SHODAN. At this point in the game, it’s difficult to determine where Bayliss is. He could be lying low somewhere or dead as no new logs or emails arise once you wake up.

        Prefontaine – you won’t have encountered yet although he is aware of her presence and what she has done on the Von Braun (despite it being a secret between Polito and Delacroix)..and you are basically her key avatar in the fight against the Many. A soldier augmented by surgery to fulfil her purposes.

  1. Pingback: The Von Braun Incident: Chapter 8 – Christmas shopping is important « Wulf Space

  2. Pingback: The Von Braun Incident: Chapter 10 – A Bridge To Nowhere « Wulf Space

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