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Colonel Corbec

Colonel Corbec

9/13/2007 8:56:41 PM
Hello there. Well, this is my latest production for you people. War Of The Matches is a semi-spoof of H.G. Well's War Of The Worlds, set on the premise of an invasion of the Halo 2 online system by outisde aggressors. If you're interested at all then you can feel free to PM me on the matter. Most of all I hope you enjoy it... [i]“Let us reply to ambition that it is she herself that gives us a taste for solitude.” –Montaigne.[/i] [b]The Evening of War.[/b] For the uninitiated, an explanation as to what [i]Halo 2[/i] even is should be supplied here. [i]Halo 2[/i] is a First-Person Shooter game, or FPS for short. That means that the game is played through the eyes of (usually) the main character, and the game involves gratuitous violence, big guns and bigger explosions. Released to audiences in 2004, [i]Halo 2[/i] quickly became known as one of the foremost online multiplayer games devised. The phrase “Online” means Players have created an Xbox Live account, and can play matches competitively together on Microsoft’s broadband-only gaming network, Xbox Live. On this system, players communicate vocally through the use of simple headsets known as Xbox Live Communicators, thus “creating a more immersing atmosphere,” or whatever the Microsoft Marketing Department spouts at the time. The golden days of the game lasted for much longer than expected, with hardcore fans and even new Players carrying on at the game long after the advent of newer releases. But no one would have believed in the last update of the [i]Halo 2[/i] system that we were being scrutinised from afar like a man would watch cells or bacteria swarm and multiply through a microscope. So obsessed were we with our own affairs, and so assured of the protective defences the operators of our digital world provided, that we were oblivious to any threat from beyond our tiny realm. At that time, we knew not even of the existence of [i]them[/i]. Even with half a year past after the events I chronicle here, negligible amounts have been learned on the matter. Their true identity, rationales, organisation and methodology are as much a mystery today as they were the moment that the first of their enigmatic kind defiled our game world. Their tactics and strategies have been the subject of much heated debate, yet little has been gleaned. That is to say nothing of their place of origin. If only one facet of their kind has to be plucked from the sea of perplexity for sheer levels of confusion, it would be where these invaders came from. However, the events you will read of sent shockwaves throughout the gaming world, with other companies and organisations scrambling in great haste to prevent an attack of such devastating magnitude befalling their systems. The attack unleashed on the [i]Halo 2[/i] online multiplayer system is, without a shadow of a doubt, the single most staggering event of its kind thus far. And yet, despite all the precautions taken, it still wrought terrible havoc. And so, as we blundered and floundered around in the blissful daydream of ignorance, across the vast gulf of the Internet, cold, calculating minds regarded our online world with envious eyes and instruments we have yet to even fathom. And slowly, yet surely, they drew their plans against us. [Edited on 09.13.2007 1:04 PM PDT]

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  • Sniper Hippie
  • squirrel dude
  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/15/2007 9:54:40 AM Permalink
    [quote][b]Posted by:[/b] crapdancemagee People still write stories here? Wow... I'm amazed.[/quote] Yup. I've been doing it for the past year now.
  • crapdancemagee
  • Sniper Hippie

    Sniper Hippie

    9/15/2007 1:08:35 AM Permalink
    That was cool. four point five stars out of five (I wanted Bungie to mod the match and save the day : ( )
  • squirrel dude
  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/14/2007 7:06:05 PM Permalink
    [quote][b]Posted by:[/b] Eight Oh 8 State *saves thread*[/quote] If you're sure that's what you want to do.
  • Eight Oh 8 State
  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/14/2007 7:00:49 PM Permalink
    It's actually the shortest thing I've done, excepting Through Hell For Hitler. It only amounts to 20 pages of Word Document.
  • squirrel dude
  • game fan

    game fan

    9/14/2007 12:50:33 PM Permalink
    [quote][b]Posted by:[/b] Colonel Corbec To be honest, I don't think this is as good as my other stuff.[/quote] Nonsence, it's pretty awesome.
  • Colonel Corbec
  • Zero V2
  • game fan
  • raison d etre
  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 9:39:13 PM Permalink
    Bugger all I reckon. I did research though McGee. And I story I already wrote, when an American friend posted it at a time I could never manage, did pretty well. Oh, the bitter, bitter irony.
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  • Sniper McGee
  • Colonel Corbec
  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 9:04:37 PM Permalink
    [b]Wrecked.[/b] I cannot regret, now that I am concluding my story, how little I am able to contribute to the discussion of the many debatable questions that remain unsettled. We all know the Hackers were finally brought to an end by their own designs, as various Microsoft sources are quick to remind us. The Hackers, overly eager to avoid a punishment before they had completely dominated our world, had developed ingenious solutions to their problem. But in doing so, they had only sealed their fate. The process where a Hacker made a replica of itself, which I have detailed, gave rise to certain problems that are assumed to lie in online connectivity. In short, they overloaded their own Internet connections with these faked accounts. This explains what I saw when I witnessed a Hacker create a replica of itself, with the choppier movement due to a connection slowly overloading. As mentioned before, their rationales, organisation and methodology are still mysteries. For instance, when the first Teleporters appeared, why did the enemy not just pour through immediately? Was it again a connection problem? A slow process to complete? Since none of those behind this have been brought to justice, or even come forward to claim responsibility, we cannot say. Inspection of the mechanics of the Deletion Gun show that the weapon used a virus inside Microsoft servers to delete Xbox Live accounts, perhaps providing the best avenue of future investigation. But such speculation will scarcely be of interest to the reader. The question of gravest and most universal importance now is the possibility of a new attack. A great deal of faith has been lost-along with a fair amount of money to reimburse those with deleted accounts-in Microsoft. The company regularly makes claims that such an event will not repeat itself, and it has stepped up a massive range of new security measures that would have been seen as absurd in the days before the attack. But I, for one, anticipate a renewal of their adventure. The imagination of these violators, these aggressive destroyers, literally is the limit of their capabilities. I fear that they can create a way around every obstacle they encounter and still be smiling afterward. Perhaps this was only a small band of pioneers, and the main onslaught has yet to come? Perhaps this is only a reprieve. But we should stay thoughtful. Maybe the next great advance lies in the creations of our greatest enemy yet encountered. And we should ask ourselves this: Who are we to presume we shall thrive and expand? For perhaps the future belongs not to us, but to them. [b]The End.[/b]
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  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 9:04:01 PM Permalink
    [b]Dead Map.[/b] I never recorded how long I slept for, but when I awoke I immediately noticed things were different. Still weary despite my rest, I wasn’t able to pin down exactly what this change was. The first thing that came to my mind was to move to a new spot before my luck ran out. I again took the back routes and covered areas as I went, yet all the while perplexed like never before. What could be different? Before I had gone to sleep, the colour had drained from the map entirely. A quick check confirmed that was the same. I shrugged off a growing unease and carried on. It was as I went that I stumbled across the first other Player I had seen in what felt like an eternity. He was crouched in a corner, alive, but completely unapproachable. Armed with a rifle, he spat garbled gibberish for words and swung the rifle around at random. I should have stayed with him but for the semi-understandable threats he hissed. I left him behind, but that was when it hit me: Everything was still. Everything was silent. There was no noise but for that of my footsteps and no movement but for the rustle of the wind. I emerged onto a platform looking over the map, spotting several Striders. The black colossi were standing at a stiff attention at random places, with none of their ruthless persona about them now. I looked to where their vast Teleporter should have been, but I could find nothing. This finding only heightened an underlying tension in my mind. The map seemed in everyway condemned and derelict, with the black-and-white sights and no sounds, it was like an abandoned home. The more my mind dwelled on this, the profounder grew the suspense. I nearly jumped out of my skin when a chilling wail, almost like a sobbing noise, split the air. “lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol” It cried, and I realised one of the Striders was the source. Suddenly determined to investigate, I set off for a staircase to descend to the Strider’s level, with the peculiar cry resounding off the walls to chase me. Why was I wandering alone in this map of the dead? Why was I alone while all else was lying in state, in its black shroud? “lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol,” Went the cry. Once I finally reached ground level, I peered out from cover to look for any Hackers. The nearest Strider was some distance away, and facing in the other direction, so I fancied my chances if I tried to pass through the open. But, as abruptly as it began, the sobering howl cut off. The silence was as petrifying as having to fight a Strider face to face, yet somehow worse. But while that voice sounded, and as haunting as it was, the map still seemed to have some vague semblance of life. Without it, the gaunt quiet made the map into a tomb. An insane resolve possessed me. I would put an end to this here and now. I had had enough of this game, for that was all this was. There was no real threat to my personal safety, no painful death awaiting me. I felt foolish to have been so involved over nothing more than a videogame. I physically slapped myself for such behaviour and started to run at the nearest Strider. I felt no fear, only a wild, trembling exultation as I shouted and fired whatever weapons I had at the Titan before me. I primed a grenade, threw it in a long arc and cheered as it exploded by the Strider’s legs. The cheer died in my throat though, as the Strider quaked with the blast, then toppled backwards with a screech of grinding metal. The impact shook the ground and sent a billowing cloud of dust in all directions. I could only gawp in surprise. The other Striders refused to move, as motionless as before. I needed no further coaxing, and opened up the pause menu to quit the game. I was free! The torment was over!
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  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 9:03:12 PM Permalink
    The fallen walker was smoking and charred as I saw it through the scope of a sniper rifle I’d scavenged. The tank shell seemed to have punched straight up through the Strider’s gut and blasted everything inside of it. Even as I watched, a Hacker approached the crippled machine. Once within a few paces of the monster, he shot the thing with a pistol, and then suddenly the machine was upright and as good as new again. I was amazed and terrified at the same time. It had taken a massive effort to down only one of the machines, yet only a moment to put some custom made computer code to use and have it on its feet again. No wonder we were doomed. But that wasn’t the only revelation I had at this time, I saw how the Hackers deployed their artillery amongst other things. While hunting for me or any other survivor still roaming about, Hackers on foot switched to a weapon that, on the outward appearance, looked like a shotgun. But when it fired, that black, arcing blob went flying towards its own destruction. More and more often, the Hackers resorted to using it to blast out the interiors of buildings, throwing plumes of black flames and smoke out of the windows and hurling even heavy cargo containers around inside. Not only that, but they seemed to find the restrictions of gravity were beneath them. It quickly became commonplace to see individual Hackers zipping around at high speeds in mid air like hover cars from some 1950’s prediction of the future. These Hackers would zoom around, peer into a room through an opening, dart away or move closer to inspect something. They were the eyes and ears of the Striders, pointing out targets for decimation. They were as equally invulnerable as their monstrous metal comrades though, and I saw from a distance many Players fire accurate shots only for the Hacker to nimbly dive aside. Such measures made matters particularly stressful and harsh for all of us struggling to survive, especially considering we had no counter-measures to match them. We couldn’t make ourselves levitate, become completely undetectable or have weapons capable of atomising half of a planetary body in one shot. That had been our problem all along, yet it was never more highly stressed than it was now. These obvious inadequacies made me think in the few times I could stop and rest. Perhaps it was only natural that we should be swept aside like dust. Perhaps this was just natural selection taken to a digital level, and that it was perfectly right that we should be destroyed and replaced by our superiors. I retreated to a dark corner of the map and pondered this despondently for some time. [b]The Map under the Hackers.[/b] I forget when I exactly emerged after contemplating the fate of our place on these matches. But when I did, I had the distinct urge to move on, as a Strider had been grinding its way over. I moved slowly through the shadows to a staircase built into the wall, dreading the possibility of being seen. Outside, the Strider continued clanking and stomping along. I proceeded down the stairs to an open doorway that coincidentally led onto the very same back alley that the Baptist had scampered down earlier. (The map, as big as it was, couldn’t truly replicate the authenticity of a sprawling metropolis.) It was there that I noticed a change in the scenery. The difference was subtle, and lay in the colours and tone of the surroundings. It was a small change, yet one that I perceived as surreal. All of the colours had apparently been toned down, as if someone had decided to change the colour settings. The usual bright copper colour of this map, cast from a blazing African sun above, seemed muted and paler than before, and the vibrant tone looked darker. I drew the simple conclusion that now the Hackers had conquered our world, they intended to change it to their liking. I imagined that soon, these ruins would be the weird and lurid landscape of another planet. It underlined what I had thought on just before, a sense of dethronement and dejected defeat. For a time I felt that I stood there alone, the last Player left alive. I was convinced that the extermination of our kind was complete, save for myself. But then I snapped out of the reverie and listened: There was no monotonous clank and grind of Strider footfalls. The machine had stopped. I gingerly backed into a corner and waited. Then, with growing volume I heard a persistent and bizarre [i]“lolololololololololol”[/i] noise, and I realised something was approaching. For what seemed an interminable age, the noise grew louder and louder, until I saw a black metal tentacle, obviously one from a Strider, emerge into view. I bit back my fear and stood stock still in the corner, if I tried to run then I would surely be spotted. [i]“lololololololololol”[/i] The tentacle was through the doorway now, and facing up the way I had come. It had no clearly visible camera mounted onto it, but it was doubtless like a fibre optic cable that a modern day soldier might use on the battlefield. The tentacle swayed away from me, looking in the opposite corner. I gulped, hoping it wouldn’t turn around to find me. But then I noticed a grenade sitting alone on the floor, and my only hope for getting out of this. I scooped up the explosive, pulled the pin and tossed it out the doorway where it bounced off a wall, settled on the floor by the extended tentacle and blew up. Immediately the tentacle whipped backwards out of the doorway to the source of the disturbance, leaving me alone. I sighed with relief, then took a risk to peer around the corner and see what was actually going on. Further on the alleyway to my right, a Strider was crouched low at the mouth of the alley, much like the one that had caught the Baptist unawares. Now joined by more tentacles, the original helped pick up crates to throw them away so that a possible survivor would have nowhere to hide. They continued like this for about half a minute until they ceased their frenzied search and retracted to their normal length underneath the main Strider body. I was then surprised to see a Hacker emerge from this towering construct. I ducked back into the shadows as it passed by, but kept an eye on the Hacker regardless. It stopped within sight of its war machine, then drew a pistol. Fascinated, I watched as the Hacker fired a single bullet at the floor in front of it, and on that point an exact replica of it appeared. I was barely able to understand what had happened before my very eyes when the first Hacker promptly vanished. Almost like the Deletion Gun had been to work, nothing was left. Dumbfounded, I was only left with more questions to ask when the replica stirred into life and headed back to its Strider. Now, while the change in the surroundings that I mentioned earlier was subtle, the one I talk of here was verging on unnoticeable. Somehow, I picked up on a slight change in the Hacker’s movement. It seemed slightly more jagged and jerky than it had been only moments before. Of course, I did not know this at the time, but Microsoft online teams were working feverishly to ban the Hackers before they could make this disaster even worse. What the Hackers were doing-as I had seen here-was creating new accounts on the spot with a modified weapon, then logging on under that alias before the Microsoft workers could nail them down and stop them from going online again. So, not only were the Hackers numerous and invulnerable, they could operate almost without fear of retribution. Against that, it was a wonder we managed to hold on for as long as we did. The Hacker returned to its Strider and the behemoth lumbered away, and once more I was alone with my thoughts. Once confident I would not be seen, I continued travelling the map and spotting more and more differences as I went. Outside, a traveller was kept under the constant scrutiny not of the sun that I had become accustomed to on this map, but a great, black disc hanging serenely in the sky like a total eclipse, the faintest rays of light escaped its edges, though that was all. Colours quickly lost all vibrancy, and soon I felt as if I was trapped in an old-fashioned monochrome film. More Striders than I care to remember came and went through their vast Teleporter, the ground quaking with each step they took while cohorts of Hackers marched in ordered columns through the same portal. Above them, more Hackers flew around freely on a constant hunt for any Players still alive. When I had a moment to stop at a place with a good view, I witnessed Hacker industrial prowess. There was no long and arduous assembly line, no heavy parts that needed to shipped in from miles away, just a modified gun. Hackers merely had to fire a shot at the floor, and a monstrous Strider would spontaneously appear, apparently ready for combat. Another Hacker would immediately clamber into the cockpit and pilot the Strider away for whatever purpose. But despite the constant threat of danger-and most likely because of the stress it caused, too-I could feel myself slowly slipping away to sleep. My eyes were getting heavy and movements sluggish. I knew what might happen if I left my Player in one spot for too long, but the lure of rest was too great. I stumbled, desperate to stay awake, to a storage area with plenty of crates and barrels for me to hide behind. The walls were splashed with dried blood and spent shell casings were everywhere, but I couldn’t care less. The cacophony of marching Hacker Striders and their indefatigable industry resounded around me, but nevertheless I drifted off into a troubled, restless sleep.
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  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 9:01:49 PM Permalink
    [b]The Death of the Baptist and the Man in the Building.[/b] I took to exploring the cold metal corridors of the building, knowing I had little else to do now. It was as I explored what I feared to be my tomb that I found another survivor. I turned a corner, and, with an odd feeling of being watched, I noticed another Player. Armed with a shotgun and watching me cautiously. “You one of them?” He asked, his voice hoarse and distinctly American. His MJOLNIR armour was a dark brown, and like all of us he could not quit and reach the menu necessary to change the colour to black in an attempt to at least imitate one of the enemy. “No, you aren’t.” He said, answering for me. “Get over here, you’re in the resistance now, man.” He ordered suddenly. I looked around, making sure he wasn’t talking to someone else. “Yes, I’m talking to you! Just follow me.” He snapped. I followed him as he took several winding turns and pauses, checking for Hackers every step of the way. “Can’t be too sure these days…” He often repeated. It was a refreshing change from the pious Baptist’s prayers, at least. Eventually, we reached a spot in the building that was out of the way, and had no danger of giving us away. “As I said, you’re in the resistance now, so welcome to you, Brother.” Said the man; once he was confident no Hackers were nearby. My silence clearly told him I had no idea on what he was talking about. “It’s all over.” He said grimly. “They’ve lost one-just one. And they utterly wasted us. The death of that one just there was an accident. And this ain’t over. They’ll keep on coming. We’re under! We’re beat!” He exclaimed. I gave no answer. If we were “under” and “beat” then why was there a resistance? “But this ain’t never a war. It was as much a war as a war between us and… Uh. Something not as good as us.” He said, his speech increasing in speed so it was more akin to a rant. “But now they’re finished with us all proper like, they’re going to store us away in cages and things, like. Keep us for target practice and stuff.” I still had no idea, though I said nothing. “But I got a plan. We’re going under their feet. I’ve thought it out. We’re going underground. We’re going to use the drains and subway and all that and we’re going to dig tunnels and all!” At once I realised this person was suffering from a delusion even worse than that of the Baptist. I’d simply traded one near-psychopath for another. Not only had he forgotten that, this being a computer game, we couldn’t dig at all, and that there weren’t any subways or drains to hide in. Someone had clearly been reading too much late nineteenth-century science fiction literature. He continued to babble on, as he did walking along with me in tow. We came to a window and looked out onto the map, but still careful not to be seen. The Baptist offered up yet another quick prayer as he scrambled along a back alley of the Headlong map. The grind and clank of the Hacker Striders still rang deafeningly around him, as did the occasional rattle of gunfire, but it never lasted for long. Down the back alley, two of the Striders had taken up position around the Teleporter and their fallen comrade, with the last hunted around for more victims, scouring the place clean. He had been ground into the dirt earlier when a completely unexpected Warthog smashed into him and his congregation. They were all killed as it barrelled through them, their corpses scattering around like bowling pins. Fortunately, he re-spawned afterward, giving him a second chance. That said he would never get near the escape Teleporter because of the damned Striders. He hurried on down the alley, emerging on a path looking onto a wide, open area. Above, a steel girder and a section of motorway dangled on chains held by cranes high above. But his eyes were drawn to the Teleporter that the Hackers had come through, the huge black portal that had spelt the doom of hundreds of innocent Players. Unexpectedly, two more Striders emerged through the Teleporter, along with a sizeable host of black-armoured Hackers on foot following. They moved on to the two Striders waiting directly opposite them, mercifully not noticing them. With that, he crept along, keeping to the shadows. He planned to head to the other side of the map, and to do so he would have to cross the open, but he was confident he could make it. There were places he could hide over there, but the Hacker force was too close to him here for his tastes, so movement was the only option to his mind. With the enormous Hacker Teleporter to his right, and a high road barrier shielding him to his left, the Baptist tried his best to sneak along unnoticed. Crouched low, he felt he was making excellent progress, muttering fervent prayers as he went. Unfortunately for him, he had forgotten to turn his Xbox Live Communicator off. Which meant that his prayers were quite audible for those on the map nearby, including the Hackers. The Baptist pulled up short suddenly, hearing a noise he found synonymous with trouble. It was the chilling clank, grind, clank, grind of Strider mechanics, and it was getting louder. Frozen to the spot, the Baptist’s eyes widened in fear as a Strider sauntered into view, planted its feet with firm stamps, and lowered the black bulk of the central body down to his height, almost as if a man would stoop down to inquisitively inspect a bug. The Baptist’s eyes fearfully strayed to the multitude of writhing, metallic tentacles hanging from the main body, then started running the way he came. The Strider bounced back up to its usual height, tentacles flailing around like whips, and howled its machine roar as it lashed out a tentacle that wrapped around the Baptist, threw him up into the air like an unwanted toy and fired a single shot from the Deletion Gun, picking him off even before he hit the peak of his flight. “See! Target practice! Like I said!” The man exclaimed. We’d both been watching the demise of the Baptist from our overlooking window. “Come on, let’s keep moving before we go out like him.” The man advised, and led me across a gantry leading from our current building to another one, with some walls only partially complete and all others were plastered with a company logo of a cheerfully smiling Hippo. I couldn’t help but notice the contrast. Not the yellow background on which the black lettering was stamped, but the happy visage of the Hippo against this final defeat of us Players. We were doomed now, and in a sudden fit of despondency I felt that we would never survive, cursed to run around in the shadows until the hackers finally honed their sharp shooting skills on us as well. “This way.” The man said, then taking me to an empty stairway lit by a single fluorescent light bulb. Stitching, erratic lines of bullet holes and plasma burns decorated the concrete walls. He span around several times, check this way and that then looked down the stairs and back the way we came before speaking. “Look, a resistance can’t operate if it ain’t got no troops. You go down them stairs and check out the lower spots and I’ll check out the rest of the building.” With that, he promptly went the way we came, but crouching as if it were some invisibility cloak. Crouching would only make you a slower moving target when the Hackers came. My mind was made up. Even if I found anyone not wearing black armour or piloting a Strider, I wasn’t going to baby-sit them or pass them on to this moron. They would do as I was going to: Slog it out on their own. I crept away to the darkest corners of the map, my familiarity with it helping greatly. I only passed from building to building by the longest routes to avoid detection, hiding, then moving on, hiding, and then moving on. I never met the man with such high ambitions again, nor did I see anyone else, though on the rarest of occasions there was a brief staccato rattle of gunfire. During this game of cat and mouse, I witnessed many interesting things that, at the time, first motivated me to document my findings. Not least of which was the repair of the fallen Strider. Some time after my departure from the idealistic man, I was taking stock of the situation from a perch overlooking the map. The Striders seemed dormant for now, with only one stomping around in a search for living Players and a few more Hackers on foot accompanying it.
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  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 9:01:09 PM Permalink
    [b]The “Lightning Child.”[/b] Before long, I, the Baptist, and whatever ragged remains of the Player population had arrived at Bungie’s promise of salvation. The entire surviving Bungie online team, bolstered by a few more Bungie workers and those few volunteers still with them had given up defending the match just before this, in order to fortify their positions on this final one. The map was named “Headlong,” set in a futuristic dockyard of the African city of New Mombasa, it made for a very large map, even bigger than the giant of Containment itself. The map consists of several high-rise, half-completed buildings and roads, with one side barred by a towering city wall and the other by the sea. Skyscrapers and cranes loom over the whole affair, the latter holding steel construction beams and a section of motorway above the battlefield. The famed Teleporter was to the seaward end of the map, sitting on an overpass at the foot of a huge, almost modern art style statue. Gaggles of refugees, in loose groups or straggly lines, were constantly filing through. But the pressure to get through was heavy, and showed no sings of easing off. Many suspected that they would never get through in time. Waiting in grim expectation, a Banshee patrolled the skies while two Warthogs trundled around the roadways of the map. The passenger accompanying the gunner and driver on both vehicles was armed with a Rocket Launcher, in the hope it could harm a Strider. Players lined high ledges and walkways spanning between the high-rise construction sites, armed with grenades, Rocket Launchers, or any weapon they could lay their hands on. Some were holding onto the grips of machine gun or plasma turrets, wondering whether their armaments could actually harm Hacker war machines at all. Finally, waiting below the shelter offered by the overpass, was a Scorpion tank, its old engines grumbling and exhaust pipes belching blue exhaust smoke, ready for action. Survivors of the battle to come would later affectionately dub it the “Lightning Child.” In addition to this were the hundreds of refugees like myself waiting impatiently to be let through the last Teleporter and be on our way to safety. But the pressure to get through was huge, and many doubted they would actually escape before it was too late. In addition, the volunteer Players and Bungie workers had to divert some of their already overstretched manpower from defending against Hackers to the queuing refugees to stop a riot. I, as well as the Baptist, was in an undefined category somewhere between lucky and unlucky in this matter. We were unlucky in that we weren’t close enough to the Teleporter in time. We were lucky in the sense that, when the Hackers did attack, we were in a position that allowed us to get away quickly. The Baptist and I were both caught up to the side of a gaggle of refugees standing near to a footbridge over a road which quickly after took a left turn to go under the overpass, and subsequently to the Lightning Child. The footbridge went straight to a raised path, and an open doorway into one of the closest high-rise buildings. This would be vital to our survival once the Hackers arrived in their usual style of shock and awe. The Baptist started leading another sermon again. I absent-mindedly let my mind drift from the frustration the Baptist caused, and looked around at my surroundings. Surely the Hackers would never use their Striders in such an area. Had they not heard of the battles of Stalingrad or Berlin? The roads between the buildings of the map were wide enough for a Scorpion to pass through well enough; so doubtless a Strider could too. But the problem was that these multi-storey buildings offered so many vantage points for an attack and plentiful routes for escape. It was typical urban combat terrain, giving the defender countless places to hide but the attacker hundreds of nooks and crannies to scour clean before proceeding. Any competent fighter could easily keep an enemy held up for a great length of time in these circumstances, I reckoned. But I did not reckon on the fighting style that the Hackers would employ. The Hackers arrived quite suddenly. Without warning, a Telepoter bigger than a house appeared literally out of nowhere at the opposite end of the map to me. My heart sank when I turned to see it, the midnight black abyss of that giant doorway beckoning like the Grim Reaper itself. Then, the tumultuous grind of tortured metal announced the arrival of a Strider. Stalking through the gaping portal, and looking as menacing as ever, the Strider went to one side of the Teleporter. It was then followed by a second, and a third, and a fourth. They stood in a rough line, as if waiting for a superior’s order to attack. My eyes were only a pair in a sea of the things that now stared disbelievingly upward at not one, but four Striders. The Baptist’s droning incantations stopped. None of us moved, none of us cried out, none of us fired a shot, making for a surreal situation. Such a numerous Hacker deployment had never been witnessed before, and we were horrified. Then, to compound our shock, the Striders all at once howled their distinctive, bone-chilling machine roar, like the one I had heard back at Containment. I slowly started to creep toward the footbridge. On foot, it would take an age for a Player to go from where the Striders were to the seaward end. But the Striders could manage it in at most seven lengthy bounds. But my motion was quickly lost in the stampede of panicked Players that rushed for the Teleporter Bungie had talked of so highly. I quickly crossed the footbridge once I fought through the crowds and stood in the doorway of the high-rise building. Three of the monstrous Striders were loping toward the terrified refugees trapped in a wide and enticing target. The fourth broke away to prowl down a side road. A Strider’s Deletion Gun plucked the solitary Banshee out of the sky before it could even try to evade. As the smoking wreck tumbled downward under gravity, the two Warthogs were already trying to flee from the Strider that had broken off from the others, but only to run straight into the sights of its companions. One Warthog burst into flames as a Strider turned a Deletion Gun onto into, while another kicked the second casually away like a football. The kicked Warthog flew for an impressive distance, hurtling with terrible speed into a pack of helpless refugees, mowing them down before ploughing onward into a wall and exploding spectacularly. The turrets on overlooking platforms or balconies opened up on the nearest Striders, peppering them with high velocity tracer bullets or Plasma burning at thousands of degrees Celsius. The Striders shrugged it off and Deletion Guns obliterated the emplacements for their efforts. Rocket Launchers and Grenade Launchers again pelted the monoliths before them but their operators were swept out of existence, having only irritated the walking destroyers. With that, the Striders turned their guns onto the inviting target of the petrified refugees, all rushing at once toward Bungie’s promise of salvation. They pelted the terrified rabble with merciless rapid-fire, thinning out the crowds with pitiless precision. This was a massacre, and there was nothing I could do about it. But then, a Strider’s central body was smacked with a devastating blast, hidden by smoke from an explosive detonation. Rumbling into view on the road beneath the footbridge I had crossed was the Lightning Child, its long-barrelled cannon smoking. The Strider reeled back from the strike, and then staggered again as the Lightning Child dealt another blow. Later, an individual would report what he saw on the Internet, including the tank that threw shells “like bolts of lightning.” And so, the term “Lightning Child” was born. The tank blasted off a third shell that stunned its opponent, sending it stumbling forward. Then, by some wonderful fluke, the towering construct’s thin legs caught on the footbridge, removing it’s footing. So, it piled forward like an express train, unsupported, and smacked into the road with a painful crunch behind the Lightning Child, which traversed its turret and pounded one more shell into the underbelly of the beast, this time provoking an even larger, louder, yet curiously black explosion, with metal shards zipping everywhere. Everyone cheered with relief, their crushingly low morale boosted to finally see an enemy fall. But the Striders were well aware of the Lightning Child now, and determined to make it pay. They turned their attention to the armoured fighting vehicle and peppered it with black lances from their Deletion Guns, buckling the armour plating, tearing track sections apart and making fire spout from its ventilators, melting its valiant heart. Then, in an inevitable conclusion, ammunition and fuel ignited in an explosive tumult and tore the turret straight off from within. I gasped and jumped back from the doorway, and the scorched turret flew upward and then landed haphazardly, the gun bent out of shape, across the doorway, barring the entrance. I turned away, knowing I could do nothing. At least the Lightning Child managed to distract the Hackers for some time, and many survivors attribute their successful escape to the brave crew of the tank. It spared me the sight of watching hundreds deleted, but I found myself cut off from the only way out of this accursed game, so I was as good as dead.
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  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 9:00:10 PM Permalink
    The worker’s rocket banged away and exploded straight in the Hacker machine’s face. To no effect. In response, the tentacle-esque limbs thrashed around to face the obstacle ahead of it. Exactly as when I tackled the first Hacker, the tentacles fired lances of utter black with horrific precision from their ends. The weapon would become known as the “Deletion Gun,” a device that, as the name suggests, deleted entire Xbox Live accounts in a single hit. With the defending heavy weapons already destroyed outside the walls, and the turrets sitting in smoking ruin, all that remained to those defenders not yet running was what they held in their hands. Some had Rocket Launchers or Grenade Launchers, but others weren’t as well equipped. Tracer bullets joined stitching lines of Plasma Rifle fire to smack into the thick hide of the machine. Brute Shot Grenade Launchers rattled off belt after belt of grenades at the monster and Rocket Launchers did the same. But it was all just bows and arrows against the lightning. Bullets bounced off it harmlessly, plasma dispersed on the armour without even so much as scorching it, and Grenades and Rockets burst harmlessly on the machine’s metallic skin. The machine took confident, lengthy strides over the smoking hulls of the destroyed Scorpions and heaved itself onto the wall, snapping all resolve to fight. What was the point in fighting something that scaled walls larger than a house, and could withstand so much punishment? Already out of anti-tank ammunition, the defenders were scythed down where they stood by the blistering rate of fire the machine laid down, and not a single shot missed. The walls were, after around ten seconds of the machine arriving, silent. My eyes widened as the machine turned to face us survivors solemnly. But suddenly, giving us one last hope came the Banshees. Having somehow escaped the malevolent attentions of the artillery and the machine thus far, the two aircraft came down on the Hacker construct at full throttle, engines screaming, and cannons blasting searing darts of plasma at the enemy. I was already through the Teleporter that we had been advised to flee through, and mercifully out of harm’s way by the time that the Banshees were swatted out of the sky. [b]And I fell in with the Baptist.[/b] Had the Hackers been a little faster in breaking into the “path” of matches that Bungie had secured for the safe passage of the players, then they could easily have annihilated the entire population after the rout from Containment. As it stands, they managed an admirable job regardless. As that Bungie worker back in Containment had told us, we were to follow a set of Teleporters form one match to another. The plan worked well in principle; the only problem was that the Hackers were tenacious and highly capable. It seemed no obstacle could hold back the Hacker machines, which had been labelled as Striders, for the way they seemed to stroll across the battlefield like it was a relaxing walk in the park. I was there to witness several holding actions end in failure at the hands of these Striders. The Hackers saw to it with their infernal artillery fire that no heavy weaponry could ever be deployed against them, and their Striders would storm in to finish off the job. Not once did a Strider fall to our fighters, while every holding action met with disaster. And every time a Strider triumphed, it would slaughter dozens of stragglers before they could escape, and hunted more down like dogs. Hundreds, it not thousands met the ends of their accounts like this. Yet still survivors fled toward the promise of safety that Bungie claimed was waiting for them. Having seen all of their attempts to protect us before fail miserably, I was not convinced. Also, somewhere-and I cannot recall where or when-along the line, I fell into the company of the Baptist. His MJOLNIR armour was painted white, and I do not know or care why. Easily identifiable as an American for his irritating, drawling accent, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get rid of him. Even the Striders kept shooting the wrong people when they had the chance. He frequently quoted Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, a famous Baptist writer, on our arduous journey and making it no easier for the both of us. In fact, his favourite quote was: “He that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.” He repeated it to me countless times, in some personal mission of his to make me see that “The heathen Jews, Atheists and Agnostics” were orchestrating this disaster. I’m sure you can tell he was a very, very entertaining fellow, but for all the wrong reasons. Once, when we were waiting to head through a Teleporter to another match, he even led the hordes of faithful in a prayer session, much to my chagrin. Along the journey, when not trying to evangelise me or someone else, the Baptist often complained about what was unfolding around him. “Why are these things permitted? What sins have we done? My match was over, I was about to log out, and then- darkness, destruction, deletion! As if it were the slaughter of the Midianites! All our work deleted! All the work-What are these Hackers?” He would often exclaim with monotonous regularity. Whenever I told him to be quiet, he would do so for a short while before carrying on his diatribe about how secular minds were behind this. It was almost like listening to a Naz i newsreel, exhorting the lie that somehow Jews had infiltrated every part of German society and corrupted it; such was the incredulity of his claims. And, as two distinctive groups raised forces on either side of us-Players in front and Hackers behind-I was forced to listen to the ridiculous ramblings of a person I never wanted to meet. Admittedly, the thought of just running at the Hackers to avoid such torture did cross my mind more than once. Fortunately, I knew that I didn’t have long to go before I could be free of this burden. The match that Bungie had promised was achingly close
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  • Colonel Corbec

    Colonel Corbec

    9/13/2007 8:59:02 PM Permalink
    [b]The Exodus from Containment.[/b] The moment I logged on to [i]Halo 2[/i], I was hurled into a match without me even so much as pressing a button. Bewildered, I found myself on a map called “Containment.” Containment is one of the largest maps in the entire game, based in the massive, frozen and twisting valley of a natural fault running between two enormous fortresses. Supposedly built by an extinct race of aliens, the symmetrical fortresses sit on opposite ends of the map, dominating each end with their imposing size. The fortresses, their alien metal a rusted brown against the dazzling white snow and decrepit from millennia of disrepair, loom over an icy and inhospitable tundra. I found myself in the “Southern” fortress-at the bottom end of the map-and confronted by a crowd of shouting players facing an agitated speaker at the centre of their gathering. “Would you all just SHUT UP so I can speak!” Barked the speaker menacingly, silencing his audience. “For the benefit of those who have just arrived, I work for Bungie Studios as a member of the online team. I and many co-workers are operating on the Halo 2 system to try and restore order.” He explained. “We don’t care who you are! Just tell us what’s going on! That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?” Snapped someone in the crowd. The speaker sighed in exasperation. “An unknown number of Hackers have infiltrated the system and are running riot. They’ve armed themselves with modified weaponry capable of not only killing you in-game, but deleting your Xbox Live account in one hit.” He said, in a tone of voice that spoke of a man who had long since stopped caring. Nevertheless, he still provoked a gasp of amazement. “Furthermore, they’ve tampered with the system so that you cannot leave the game simply by quitting. However, we’ve bypassed this. At the end of this map is a Teleporter that will transport you to another match. You’ll find that these circumstances will repeat five more times after this until you reach your goal. There, we’ve established another Teleporter that can safely escort you out of the Halo 2 system. Once there, your account will be kept safe and secure until it’s deemed right to release it again.” He finished, waiting for some antagonist to shout something unhelpful out. But no one did, and soon I was just one part of a lengthy column of digital refugees trudging a winding path across the wastes to our only hope of surviving this experience. As I went, I wondered how exactly Bungie had managed to get this many people onto a single match. The limit of players was 16 in normal circumstances, but my estimate told me this was vastly in excess. I smiled and corrected myself: These were anything but normal circumstances now. No one said anything on the difficult journey, with dozens of Players ahead of them, and dozens more behind, they simply meandered on like automatons. Some compared it to the retreat of German troops at Stalingrad, most just carried on. Once we reached the second fortress, my hopes were not raised particularly high. The defenders, workers of the Bungie online team and foolhardy volunteers, had assembled all the mechanised units they had outside of the fortress wall. In the sky flying patrol were two Banshee aircraft. The alien flying machines were aptly named, as they made a distinctive wailing noise while accelerating. Armed with twin Plasma Cannons, the aircraft was poorly armoured and could be fairly awkward to handle when in the heat of combat. Considering they would be flying against a foe whose imagination literally was the limit as far as capabilities were concerned, I didn’t envy the pilots. Accompanying them on the ground were two Warthog 4x4 vehicles. Rugged and reliable, they had room for a driver, passenger and a gunner for the rear-mounted turret. Like the Banshee, they lacked armour in a sacrifice for speed. Finally we saw two Scorpion MBTs. (Main Battle Tanks.) These formidable, inexorable weapons platforms, these heavily armoured monsters of machines were undoubtedly the best hopes for our defence. They boasted a long-barrelled cannon capable of flinging 90mm shells for miles. Having felt their sting myself, I knew how lethal they could be. But that wasn’t the only thing barring the way for any hacker enemies. All along the wall of the fortress, Players manned machine-gun turrets, grasped Rocket and Grenade Launchers and any other weapons they had to hand. It seemed an impregnable defence to some, and they took heart at the sight, but I was less convinced. Luckily, I was inside the fortress once the hackers finally resolved to test the defences. Others weren’t so fortunate. A substantial number of Players were still in a lengthy column exposed in the open when our new foes made their presence known. First, they bombarded the poor souls outside of the fortress. Suddenly appearing from the other end of the map, warping black blobs-for want of a better word-sailed through the air in long arcs, just waiting for gravity to leisurely send them down again. At first, onlookers were bewildered by this display. Then the “blobs” came down on their heads with explosive results. The blobs detonated on impact with the ground, forming a blooming black rose of destruction. Each explosion then lobbed half a dozen more black blobs in random directions, sowing death and chaos in equal measure. Helpless observers also noted an effect identical to the one I witnessed earlier. These blobs served the same purpose as artillery shells, but left no cadavers after their destruction was wrought. The deceased simply vanished. But that wasn’t all. Our morale sank like a stone as we saw the fate of the vehicles waiting for deployment. The Warthogs were blown apart by direct hits, even as their crew scrambled to escape. Armour shards flew around as ammunition cooked off inside and the vehicles burst into flames. More disheartening was the finding that even tanks couldn’t withstand such powerful weaponry. The Scorpions joined the Warthogs in a fiery demise, their turrets springing high into the air, propelled by exploding fuel within. But before anything could be done, the hacker artillery fire adjusted its aim. Again with startling accuracy, the blobs now pounded the fortress walls. The defenders scattered into cover, fear gripping them as their machine gun turrets were blown into pieces and comrades were violently obliterated. Even refugees such as myself were herded by instinct into shelter as the artillery rained down, shaking us all with shockwaves and blast after blast. I watched in horror as a small knot of defenders flew into panic and routed. Abandoning their posts, they fled across the snowy courtyard behind the wall to escape, but were caught by artillery fire before they even made it halfway. Nothing could be done but to ride out this maelstrom. Then, as suddenly as it had began, the blaze of artillery fell silent. Players looked to each other cautiously, fearing a trick. Then they padded into the open, relieved the bombardment was over. I allowed myself to breath a sigh of relief, but I concentrated, hearing an odd, menacing noise. A clank and grind of servos and gears, a bizarre stomp at regular intervals that made the ground shake slightly. It was almost like listening to a recording of some assembly line. But it stopped abruptly, leaving only a curious silence in its place-the calm before the storm. Then, like everyone else on the map, I jumped in surprise. A machine roar sounded out, terribly loud like someone was yelling into your ear. The booming noise was like a trumpet call for the start of a hunt, and then descended into static and feedback as it died out. No one moved. The source of the deafening announcement, which grated on your nerves like nothing else, was a matt black monolith, a gargantuan colossus whose very appearance spoke of death. It towered even over the fortress wall, supported by four spindly legs, the central section looking like a man’s cowled head. From the central section dangled at least a dozen tentacle-like appendages that swung around and moved seemingly of their own volition. No lights, markings or apertures broke the uniform matt black of this massive machine. Behind it were tracks on the frosty ground, marking its path on the way here and clearly the reason we had heard the ominous mechanical noises moments before. Those on the walls, now sneaking out back to their positions, took deep breaths to steady their nerves. People such as myself felt themselves slowly slinking back out of sight. It was at that point that two different individuals on the fortress wall made two very different decisions. (I know of this only through hearsay, so the reliability of this can easily be disputed.) The first was a simple volunteer who had no real intention of putting himself in harm’s way. The second was a worker for Bungie Studios, whose job was on the line to keep events under control. The volunteer decided to run for the hills. Others in a similarly distressed state followed his example and scampered away. The worker pulled the trigger of his Rocket Launcher, starting the massacre in earnest.
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