The Rack of Baal

The Rack of Baal – Background

Falcon, back for more!

Do You Know Your Lyrics? (80s Edition). "Here I Go Again.." GIF | Gfycat

The background to my new mission briefly confirms that the entire last book was a waste of time, since my Holy Grail time-altering stunt from the end has ensured that my arch-nemesis, Agidy Yelov is again at large, having escaped from prison.

Aside : Fictional prisons leak like sieves. On regular planet Earth, hardly anyone escapes, and when they do, they usually last for about a week. In genre fiction, supervillains basically check-out of prison like its some kind of anti-Hotel California.

Anyway, my equivalent of Basil Exposition (being Jobanque) summons me to his office.

Apparently there is now a mission even more urgent (!) than catching the guy that nearly erased my planet from existence last week.

Better Be Good GIFs | Tenor

I’m going to use my faithful bullet points to summarise the next page and a half of exposition :

  • Jobanque shows me footage of an asteroid, supposedly put there by an ancient civilization, creatively dubbed ‘the Ancients’.
  • The Ancients were a highly advanced culture from ”thousands upon thousands” of years ago.
  • I can only assume that Falcon bites his tongue rather than enquiring about, given the Danikoi from the last book, actually HOW MANY of these ancient-yet-advanced cultures have existed before Earth discovered how to travel through space and time. There might even be a lesson there.
  • Anyway, the asteroid was orbiting some mysterious globe of energy. Because none of these people had read a science fiction / horror story before, a group of psychics were brought in to probe the globe (heh).
  • In a development which Stevie Wonder saw coming, a powerful psychic mind immediately took control of the psychics, and ordered one to fly a starship into the globe, causing an explosion.
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  • So, the footage……

Aside – WHERE does this footage come from? The asteroid? That is a POWERFUL telescopic lens if its filming the globe around which the asteroid is orbiting…

Anyway.

  • The hologram shows some human-esque superbeing escaping from the globe of energy. He looks like your standard supervillain, white triangular shapes encircling his wrists and ankles.
markwahlberg | Tumblr
  • A handy codex found on the satellite has been translated by a team of scientists (not linguists, curiously) who have worked ‘night and day’.
  • This lovely creature is a nigh-omnipotent superbeing called Baal. There is a vague description of how he (it?) feeds off the life force of ‘sentient beings’ and is sustained by some kind of ‘natural energy’.
  • In a shocking twist, someone with a name like ‘Baal’ is a baddie. More precisely, he will apparently now seek to rule the universe, etc, etc.
  • Now we get to the heart of it – the ancient beings used a device called the ‘Rack’ to contain Baal. Said Rack comprises the four white objects which were previously attached around his wrists and ankles. Each piece of the Rack depletes Baal’s powers, and collectively they can imprison him.
  • Baal has scattered the plot tokens *ahem* Rack pieces throughout space and time.
  • Although Baal can travel through time without needing to use timeholes, apparently both Baal and the Rack will cause timeholes to appear near them if given sufficient time.
  • In once piece of good news, the Ancients left behind some sciencey doo-hickey which can detect if a piece of the Rack is in the vicinity.

And finally, just as I was getting used to it, Jobanque casually asserts that I’ll be unable to use the Strike Fighter because it would ‘break the First Law of TIME’.

Ummm – QUESTION.

If using the Strike Fighter would automatically break the First Law of TIME, WHY WOULD YOU INSTALL A TIME MACHINE IN THE FREAKING STRIKE FIGHTER??

Muppets headdesk miss piggy GIF on GIFER - by Lalace

Note : The entire specs for the Strike Fighter are included in the front of the book, because of course they are.

Paragraph 1 puts me in CAIN’s cockpit, with CAIN spouting some A-1 Alfred-esque snark about me.

Now, here is something interesting. I am given four options as to where to go, which I would guess corresponds with the four Rack pieces I am trying to retrieve. The four locations are Aztec South America (1409AD), Civil War North America (1863AD), Rigel Prime (1642AD) and an Earth colony on the planet Dustbowl (2764AD).

The book mentions, and I think the exact wording is important here, that “a disturbance in the timelines has been noted in the timehole currently active [my emphasis] in North America 1863AD.”

Now the book took care to note that Baal was putting the Rack pieces in places where there WEREN’T timeholes, and that timeholes would only be created later through his or the Rack’s presences. So I’m thinking that the Civil War option is a red herring, and I’m going to pick one of the other choices.

Bright Idea GIFs | Tenor

Only time (!) will show whether I’m right.

Endurance : 20, Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 1

Pop culture!

Since the world is going through so much right now, I thought I’d include one of my favourite stand-up bits of all time. If I’ve linked to it before, so be it.

I may well be feeling like a right nitwit one day….

Mechanon

Mechanon – Conclusion

mechanon

 

Mechanon, the book so awesome it took me over a year to complete!

Actually, there’s a lot to love about Mechanon, so I’m going to break my overall review into several categories.

Firstly, its important to note that this book, like the majority of the Falcon series, consists of several (fairly) self-contained subplots attached to each other with narrative tissue.  Here, you have the Crecy battle, the Thrix interlude, the first Mechanon mission, the 1980s Earth quest and then the endgame involving Mechanon and Yelov.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps the book more lively than if the whole thing was an unchanging dungeon-esque crawl.  For example, an entire book spent slogging your way through the Mechanon factory complex would be positively dire.  Even in this book, the machine complex was probably the least atmospheric part.

Mechanon (Falcon #2) by Mark Smith

This breaking-up into ‘sub-missions’ does effect the replayability of the book somewhat. In particular, given the comparative lack of dice rolls, the Crecy, Thrix and retro-Earth passages are basically filler once you know the correct choices.  As there are no real items / plot tokens that carry from one part to another, there is a real omission of the ‘game’ component of the book until the final showdown.

And oh boy, does the final showdown with Yelov make up for it.  Consisting of half-a-dozen or more dice rolls in a row, there isn’t a massive amount of strategy involved, but rather a simple reliance on lucky rolls.  In a situation where this confrontation takes place near the end of the book, I can easily picture a frustrated reader howling at the moon if several attempts in a row fell prey to unlucky dice rolling.

Save for that portion, the balance of the book, in terms of difficulty, is quite appropriate.  Sensible and strategic choices are rewarded, while most dice rolls give some possibility of recovery, even when failed.

The final stage, with the ‘Hail Mary’ request of the Danikoi to refrain from colonizing Mechanon doesn’t stand up to any real logical scrutiny.  Given the repeated warnings about the ‘butterfly effect’, and the stern attitude taken to meddling in the timeline, the idea that the granting of your request would have no other meaningful effect on the timeline is laughable.  Even a token nod to consequences, where your colleagues are changed in someway on your return would have been appreciated.

Mechanon (Falcon #2) By Mark Smith,Jamie Thomson 9780722179116 | eBay

Also, apart from some snarky comments from CAIN, the book is pretty much devoid of humour, with the whole endeavour being treated with po-faced seriousness.  I would have loved for a gamebook series with the gamebook mechanics of Smith / Thomson and some of the light-hearted touches of J.B. Brennan (as seen in the Grail Quest series).

So – on the The Rack of Baal!

 

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 5, Part 1

IMPORTANT NOTE!

If you have not already read it, check out this post, which contains the vital start of this attempt to conquer this gamebook.

*Ahem*

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Falcon has just blasted his nemesis, Agidy Yelov, into molecular fragments.  Apart from Yelov being, you know, the baddie, there’s always that satisfaction of killing your former boss that just can’t be beat.

Relishing the opportunity for some wanton destruction, I begin blasting the various components of the Central Computer.  Said computer immediately begins to quickly cycle through the five stages of grief :

  1. Denial – Asks me to leave, calls me an intruder, acts like I’m not a threat.
  2. Anger – States that the whole planet will explode, killing me, if I continue.
  3. Fear – Changes tone as my blaster fire gets closer to a fascinating steel pyramid.
  4. Bargaining – Demands that I stop, in exchange for which the computer will NOT launch the ‘planet killer’ against earth.
  5. Acceptance……

We actually don’t get to acceptance, because I melt down the steel pyramid, and the whole system goes haywire, as the book moves from a 2001 : A Space Odyssey ripoff to a James Bond ripoff (I kid, I kid).

 

war games explosion GIF by MANGOTEETH

In something of a surprise, I don’t need to make any choices or dice rolls to escape the complex, as I hop into my Strike Fighter, get informed that the ion engines have ‘cooled off’ (um, I have QUESTIONS…) and take off.

But, surprisingly, I am not yet instructed to turn to the fabled paragraph 420…

Hm.

I sure there’s no such thing as a ‘planet killer’.  I mean, that’s just fresh out of Star-Wars style Death Stars and…

 

Oh.

 

 

As I make tracks from Mechanon, the planet calmly splits in two and an ENORMOUS spaceship emerges from the centre.  It is obvious that through its size alone it would wipe out any planet that it hits, but CAIN cheerfully confirms that it is essentially a massive flying bomb.

And not the sort that gets directed by Uwe Boll, either.

I have an interesting ‘choice’ here – the books says that I can ‘try to destroy the planet killer’ or rather ask CAIN if there are any ‘other’ options.  Since its a fair assumption that my (comparatively) puny ship’s weapons aren’t going to be good for much, I ask my super-computer for help.

Computer Calculating GIF by Eva Garner The Secret of Eden - Find ...

After blithely confirming that nothing on board my ship can even scratch the ‘planet killer’ (hereinafter called PK, because I’m lazy), CAIN gives me the moral authority I need to go back in time by 50,000 years and convince the Danikoi to refrain from colonizing Mechanon.

Um…

Isn’t this MASSIVELY irresponsible on a galaxy-wide scale?  I mean, this short-term solution may theoretically save Earth from this immediate threat, but won’t such a significant alteration have severe consequences for several, if not all, planets in Earth’s vicinity?

I mean, has CAIN even read ‘A Sound of Thunder’?  Or seen The Butterfly Effect?

Oh well, I guess I’m just going to take the universe’s future in my hands and go for broke.

What Is A Blog? What Am I Doing? How Do You Spell….. Here Goes ...

I get 2 Endurance restored from dressing my wounds, and emerge at Danikos, 50,000 years ago.  I land without resistance in a city reminiscent of how people think Rome looked in the time of Christ (you know, without the travails of life in that era).

The Danikoi are tall and spindly, with golden eyes without iris or pupil.  I am told they have no body hair (?!) and I assume that I know this because they are not wearing clothes or protective gear, as I don’t even want to THINK about how else Falcon might know this fact.

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After some back and forth, I am taken to an informal Council, where an opposing advocate, known as the Disputer, is given the role of rebutting my arguments.

Falcon, Barrister, your time is now!

Lawyer GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I reveal that I am a time traveller, and that they must resist any desire to begin work on a factory planet in 5,000 years.  The Disputer asks me to prove that I’m traveller.  The option of actually showing the my time travel device and explaining how it works has BAD IDEA written ALLLL over it, so I get CAIN to provide me with details of a post-death message from a deceased Danikoi which is due to be opened.

After correctly predicting the contents, they accept my ability to time travel, but ask why they should care about people to be born thousands of years in the future ?

Again, the choice presented isn’t difficult.  I can either mention that Earth will become head of an empire to which Danikos will be subject, or I can mention that these people in the future will live, laugh and love just like the Danikoi.

I think I just walked into a Julia Roberts movie.

EAT PRAY LOVE "B" 11.5x17 PROMO MOVIE POSTER

Oh, and NOW he starts with the Trump-esque argument that these doomed people will be ‘aliens’ from another world….

I refuse to use Power of Will, but reassure him that people from Earth have the same pleasures and desires as the Danikoi.

Except the movies of Steven Seagal.  Seriously, screw that guy.

My argument is accepted, and they create a law against building a factory planet in the future. I leave, before they get a chance to enslave me as a human concubine or steal my spaceship.

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I reach Earth, 3033AD, and CAIN promptly advises that he has no record of any planet named Mechanon in its databanks.  Instead of being overjoyed due to my wild scheme succeeding, for some reason Falcon is shocked (!)

Turning to 420 (!!), I enter Jobanque’s office, only for him to ask for my help, as Agidy Yelov has just (sigh) escaped from prison.

So all my efforts have succeeded in….getting me back where I started.

After I tell my story to Jobanque he believes me, but laughingly refuses to give me a medal for something that no-one else thinks has happened.  He sends another agent after Yelov, and gives me ten days off.

Well, that’s something at least.

Next : My thoughts on Mechanon as a book and a story!

 

 

Endurance : 19, Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Ship scores : Shields 8, Battle Armour Points 4 Fission Missiles 4

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 420

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 4, Part 1

Thought You Were Dead William Zabka GIF - ThoughtYouWereDead ...

 

Well, maybe not that melodramatic, but this site (along with my other playthrough sites) have been dormant for long enough that an explanation is in order.

In May 2019, I changed careers, and became a barrister.  My usual working days (until the recent health crisis) have consisted of Court from 9-4 and then preparation for the next day of Court from 8-11.

But, at least for the time being, I’m back!

For those who are new to my posts, or those who have understandably forgotten :

Like many children of the 80s, I was a fan of gamebooks.  Like so many children of the 80s, I was also a fan of reaching the end of gamebooks, by cheating if necessary.  I have, in my mature years, been trying to complete certain series of gamebooks completely by the rules.  For those that haven’t read them already, these are my other pages :

Way of the Tiger (complete)

Lone Wolf (incomplete, 18 books finished)

This series focuses on the science fiction series Falcon, by the same authors as the Way of the Tiger series.  When this blog trailed off, I had failed tantalizingly close to finishing the second book, Mechanon.  If you want to read about the background to this series as a whole, go here and here.

This link takes you to all posts regarding the current book of Mechanon.

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So to summarise my retracing of my steps :

  • My boss turned arch-enemy, Agidy Yelov has escaped from prison and stolen his old time machine.
  • He has travelled to Mechanon (a devastated robotic planet), Thrix (the planet where polybdenum, the material enabling time travel, is mined) and Crecy, a famous battle in Earth’s past.
  • I travel back to Crecy, and prevent Yelov from erasing me from existence.  I do this by saving the life of my ancestor, a combatant in the battle of Crecy (who Yelov had targeted for assassination).
  • I travel to Thrix, become besties with a sentient rock called Carborundum, and destroy the store of polybdenum that Yelov was going to use to bring countless war robots to Earth.
  • I then jump to Mechanon 1986, penetrate the industrial complex, download the necessary date from the central computer and get rescued by my fellow agents, Bloodhound and Lynx (getting +1 to my Evasion!  Groovy!)
  • My bosses give me a souped-up Strike Fighter / Time Machine combo, and send me to (re) destroy the central computer at Mechanon (year 1986).

Spaceship - fighter class | 3D Space | Unity Asset Store

  • I scoot over to Mechanon, play some ridiculous combination of battleship and chess to dodge space mines sent to kill me, and notice a small ship headed directly for Earth, with clearly malevolent intent.
  • I take a detour to Earth and successfully navigate a mashup of Star Trek IV, Wargames and The Terminator, preventing a robot from convincing the USSR to launch its nuclear arsenal against the UK.

As I return to Mechanon, I’m going to revert to (slightly) more detailed descriptions, as I try to reach the surface of the planet.

I start my ‘attack run’ (heh) by destroying a weather control satellite, that was committing the crime of minding its own business while I had an itchy trigger finger.

In the meantime, an intruder detective satellite is sending three missiles towards little ol’ me, requiring speedy counter-measures.  My savvy dice-rolling means that I blast all three missiles before they can damage my ship.

Too Easy GIFs | Tenor

After passing through an ion storm, put in there for atmosphere (boom!) I approach the central complex, noting that the destruction fleet hasn’t yet been launched against Earth.

A new edition of the 1957 classic On The Beach has many things to ...

There is a famous story about the making of On The Beach (the bleak drama from which the above image is taken, and not ‘On the Beat’ as stated in the first edition of this post) where supposedly Ava Gardner, the star, said that my home city of Melbourne was ‘the perfect place to make a movie about the end of the world’.

Hmmmph.

Anyway, a missile literally as large as my ship (!) gets fired at me, and I decide to quickly bank my ship spaceward.  As the missile gains on me, I try and pick it off with my aft lasers.  My Attack Roll of 9 is sufficient to knock the missile out of the sky, where it hits the planet’s surface and destroys robot factories for a mile around (!).

I use the Main Access Code to gain entrance to the inner areas, and a swarm of ten smaller ships, along with a missile launching ship pursue me.  Another missile is sent in my general direction, but I prove a dab hand with the dice, and my countermeasures detonate both the missile and the other pursuing ships.

Best Im Alive GIFs | Gfycat

Seeing a mechanical mini-fortress ahead of me (this is getting more like a video game as I go on) I try to blast it with my lasers without losing speed.  My Attack Roll is insufficient and, although I don’t (for the moment) lose any shields, I spy both plasma shells and missiles about to be sent, express delivery.

I evade the plasma shells (thanks, dice!), but my follow-up Attack Roll is insufficient, and I lose 2 Shield points (down to 8).

I reach a T-junction, and confront the classic ‘turn right or continue straight on’ choice beloved of gamebooks everywhere.

Which Way GIFs | Tenor

I turn right and blast, with one of my missiles, a battle computer that it blocking my way.

The power surge shorts out my ships Ion Drive and I land, just in time for (drumroll!) Agidy Yelov to make an appearance, riding on a so-called ‘raildroid’.  Wearing my badass battlesuit, I’m ready for the encounter!

Carl von Clausewitz Quote: “Close combat, man to man, is plainly ...

He drops a small white object from his hand, just as an Interceptor emerges from the far end of this corridor.  My Evasion roll of 12 (!!) allows me to dodge the laser fired by the Interceptor, but I now have to contend with this decidedly unfriendly white object.

Forewarned by the previous incarnations of Falcon, I rise above the object, which promptly explodes.  Without missing a beat, I then blow away the Interceptor, which was returning for another shot.

Yelov blasts me, and I can’t help but lose two armour points and three Endurance points. I fire a rocket at Yelov, which doesn’t reach him, but buys me a bit of time.  Noting that Yelov appears to be protected by a force field, I shoot the generator, forcing Yelov to retreat.

In hot pursuit, Yelov conveeeeniently leads me to my objective – the Central Computer, who delightfully asks Yelov to exterminate me immediately.

I Dont Think So Cady Heron GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Locked in mental combat, and haunted by the memory of falling at this hurdle last time, I have to make a Power of Will roll, needing a 7 or higher (with no modifiers) for success.

And….I promptly fail the same two rolls in a row as last time, and fall to humiliating defeat.

angry gif alison brie annie community ~ Booking in Heels

I was so furious, that I literally played through the ENTIRE BOOK again to this point, making it to the same confrontation with the following stats

Endurance : 17, Ship Shields 8, Battle Armour Point 5, Missiles 2

So therefore, bonus feature :

Mechanon, Attempt 5, Part 1

And I now roll a 7!!

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And….now I need to make ANOTHER Power of Will roll to resist Yelov’s Thinkstrike.

6 or more needed for success.  And an 8!

Now we’re getting physical, as Yelov produces a blaster.  I need to make an Evasion Roll, where thankfully I have a +2 modifier.

I dodge the laser blast, but get punched by Yelov’s bionic arm, losing 1 suit armour point (down to 4).  I manage to punch Yelov full in the face with my own robotic suit, sending his gun flying.

The computer then activates some kind of claw normally used for shifting data banks, and I have to make ANOTHER  Evasion Roll (if the penalty for missing these rolls is an instadeath EVERY TIME, then this book is getting hideously unfair).

Thankfully, my hot streak continues with an 8, and I get the chance to blast Yelov as he swings a girder (!) at me.

Top 30 Blaster GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

For crying out loud, I need to make YET ANOTHER Attack Roll.  I succeed, and Yelov’s bionic arm is blown off.

Before I can savour the moment, the computer opens a trap-door (!) which then closes, trapping me at the neck (!!)

Did I hear someone say that I had to make another dice roll??

You were right.

My Evasion Roll succeeds, and I dodge Yelov, break out of the trap door and blast him into constitutent atoms!!!

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The adventure doesn’t appear to be quite over, so I”ll leave the remainder for another post, which hopefully won’t take as long!

 

Pop Culture!

For newcomers, I usually recommend something interesting at the end of each post.  Although their attitude to gamebooks varies between irreverent and insulting, Mark and Martyn certainly kept me chuckling as they play through the Fighting Fantasy series.

Warning : They get several fundamental rules completely wrong for the first few entries before course-correcting.

Campaign on Dice

 

Endurance : 17, Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Ship scores : Shields 8, Battle Armour Points 4 Fission Missiles 4

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 313

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 3, Part 1

And once more into the breach, dear friends!

Do you want a detailed explanation on how I play through the first segments of this book again?  Me neither.  Briefly :

  • I travel to Crecy and save my ancestor’s life (although at the cost of receiving a sword wound of 12 (!!) Endurance points
  • I correctly deduce Yelov’s plan (to prevent the nuclear holocaust on Mechanon, and then to use polybdenum from Thrix to fuel a robot invasion force to Earth).
  • I travel to Thrix, survive the free-fall brought about by my engine malfunction
  • I meet Carborundum (I don’t know if I mentioned this during my earlier playthroughs, but Carborundum is another name for silicon carbide, a semiconductor used for electronic devices which operate at a high temperature or voltage).

Carborundum

  • Anyway, my new semiconductor friend and I manage to smash Yelov’s mining operation on Thrix without having to make a single dice roll.
  • After my brief confrontation with Yelov (which, unfortunately, doesn’t involve me firing a blaster shot AT HIS FACE) I return to Falcon’s Wing and set a course for Mechanon.
  • Reassuringly, my Autodoc is able to restore the 12 Endurance points that I lost in my encounter with the black robot knight.
  • I land on Mechanon, quickly leap onto my access disc and blow away the radar beacon before it can detect me.
  • I continue on foot, and navigate the droid complex (using my previously-gained knowledge) and escape with Bloodhound and Lynx, only needed to make one (comparatively easy) Evasion Roll along the way.
  • Did someone say “+1 to Evasion modifier for escaping Mechanon”!!?  I THINK THEY DID!
  • We return to Earth and I get my new mission – to head off to Mechanon in 1986AD, together with my new attack tech!

 

Image result for back in time gif

  • I get the Zeiss Shields for my Strike Fighter, instead of that passe titanium armour.
  • Unsurprisingly, I am again confronted by the weird grid / time-travel / acid-trip logic problem, but navigate the time-holes / mines without a hitch.
  • I see the ship leave Mechanon for Earth 1986 and follow it.

Image result for 1986

To cut a long story short (“too late” I hear my audience cry) I follow the android, prevent it communicating with the controls for the Soviet nuclear arsenal, blast it (losing 3 Endurance in the explosion) make the necessary Evasion roll to evade the police, and return to my ship, with the next stop being a rematch with one Agidy Yelov.

I re-emerge in the space above Mechanon, and depressingly remember that I need to navigate various obstacles (while maintaining my shields and ship) before I could get close to a mano-et-cyborgo individual struggle.

I take out the weather control satellite, and narrate my action sequence (TM) as follows :

  • My first successful Attack Roll means the initial volley of missiles is destroyed without damage to myself (Shields – 10)
  • As I approach the entrance to the Central Computer Complex, a missile as large as my ship comes hurtling towards me.
  • I try to evade the missile by banking my ship skywards, and have to make an Attack Roll as I use my aft defence lasers.  My Roll is successful, and the missile crashes into the surface of Mechanon, causing a blast a mile wide.

Image result for destroyer crashes into death star gif

Returning to the hangar entrance, I am pleased and slightly surprised to note that my shields remain, for the moment, at full strength.

  • I zip into the hangar entrance, and use the Main Access Code to gain further penetration.
  • Unfortunately, I now have 10 Interceptors on my tail, along with the missile launcher that was previously so unfriendly to me.
  • I use my aft lasers and yet another (!!!) successful Attack Roll destroys the second missile which was being launched, along with the Interceptors, which are destroyed in the resulting explosion.
  • A miniature fortress, complete with armaments looms ahead, and I launch a Fission Missile.
  • My missile destroys the fortress and opens a path forward, admittedly through the smoke and debris caused by my wanton destruction.

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  • I take a right turn (when it presents itself) and use another missile to destroy a further force field.
  • Things are looking great before the force field redeploys on my say through, causing me to crash land.
  • As I emerge from my ship, I see Yelov approaching on a transport disc, just as another Interceptor emerges from the distance.

No more bullet points, as I stand ready at the point at which I previously fell!

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I leap over the laser blast from the Interceptor (thanks, Evasion modifier!) before I see that Yelov has dropped a hunter-seeker mine towards me.

Learning from my mistake last time, I get clever by waiting for the mine to approach, before zipping upwards with my jet-pack, letting the mine harmlessly detonate on my former location.  Heady with success, I fire a rocket from my battlesuit at the Interceptor, blowing it away.

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However, without a chance to even catch my breath, I am given no opportunity to evade Yelov’s high blaster, which does 2 Armour Points of damage along with (!) 3 Endurance.

Interestingly, the book noted that Yelov’s blaster has been modified to a ‘high intensity’ level.

I can use my particle disruptor or a rocket.  Never one to shy away from a higher level of firepower, I shoot a rocket which never made it past a force field that protects Yelov.

In a “THIS IS IMPORTANT” moment, the book mentions that there is a generator which maintains breathable air for Yelov.  I blast it, and Yelov retreats, as I follow him.

Alright, this feels like the final confrontation, as Yelov and I square off before Mechanon’s central computer.

Yelov attacks me with his mind.  I fail one Power of Will roll, and then get a second chance, although on the basis of my Power of Will modifier being reduced by 1.  Naturally, I fail the roll by ONE POINT, and get a charming paragraph about how Yelov heats up my suit with his blaster until I am roasted ‘like a lobster in a pot’.

Charming.

I shall return.

Pop culture.

Russian Doll is a Netflix series, created, written and starring the amazing Natasha Lyonne.  A combination of an unapologetic feminist tale, Groundhog Day, Less Than Zero and Donnie Darko, its fantastic.

MASSIVE NSFW LANGUAGE WARNING FOR THE TRAILER.

 

Endurance : 0, Zeiss Shield Points : 10, Starship Trooper Battle Armour Points : 8

Fission Warhead Missiles : 4

Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 249

 

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 2, Part 5

[Two notes : I’ve amended the amount of missiles remaining – thanks to the pickup from Gloccus.  I’ve also inserted a picture (of my frightening rear view camera) which for some reason hadn’t appeared in the previous post]

Well!

I’m back, and this time it hasn’t been for lack of enthusiasm.  My current course is absolutely intense, but I’m finding it incredibly satisfying, despite the lack of, you know, actual pay.

I’m not sure exactly how long this entry will be, what with the possibility of instant death and the constraints on my time, but we’ll see, shan’t we?

 

Image result for gif i'm doing my best

Ah, Spaceballs, we miss you.  Back when people looked at President Skroob and thought “There’s NO WAY a country could elect a President THAT stupid!”

Good times, good times.

When we left our intrepid pilot / psychic / assassin, he had finished with the Mechanon defense fortress, at the cost of reducing his Shield points to 2.

Coming to an old-school dungeon-esque junction, I can either head straight on, or take a side tunnel to the right, towards a ‘blue light’.

I think, given my lack of shields, the frontal approach may not be best, so I guide my ship down the side passage.

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As I hurtle down the side corridor, I note with some trepidation that the floor of the corridor serves as a vast robot factory, building all sorts of devilish tools of destruction.  I speed along at Mach 5 (around 6000km/h) and approach the glowing blue light that I noticed earlier.

As I press my petal to the (literal) metal, I rush towards a blue energy barrier which completely blocks this corridor.  Without being able to slow down in time, I have to take out the barrier’s generator by either launching one of my missiles or shooting my ‘regular’ lasers.

I think this is a case for wanting maximum firepower – missiles it is!

tooltime-more-power

[Tim Allen, by all accounts, is a jerk.  But he was, a la William Shatner, awesome in Galaxy Quest, playing a thinly disguised William Shatner-esque actor]

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After a few nervous moments the missile does indeed (temporarily) overload the generator, leaving a path through for my (slightly relieved) self.

Before I can remind myself not to get cocky, the barrier springs back into life when I am halfway through, shorting out my ship’s Ion Drive.

Forced to crash land….

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…….I fire up my battlesuit and spring out of the cockpit.

Before I can meaningfully get my bearings, I see a ‘raildroid’ approaching, carrying none other than Agidy Yelov as a passenger.

I might have my battlesuit, but I have no doubt that he’s equipped with various homicidal Mechanon-made toys.

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The thin atmosphere has apparently adjusted, as Yelov needs no spacesuit.  He recognises me and curses “Kill or be killed, Falcon.”

Simultaneously a small white object drops from Yelov’s hand while an Atmospheric Interceptor enters the far end of the tunnel.  Before I can think about making a decision, I’m instructed to make an Evasion Roll.

My roll of 9 means that I make a battlesuit-assisted leap into the air, over a laser blast from the Interceptor robot, which the hurtles past me.  I can also see that the white object dropped by Yelov is actually a hunter-seeker mine, which is closing in on me.

So many things trying to kill me, so little time.

I can fire my blaster at the hunter-seeker, shoot a rocket at the Interceptor, or wait for the hunter-seeker to get close before soaring above it.

The Interceptor doesn’t seem to be the most urgent threat, and trying to avoid a device that is literally homing in on me seems like folly.

Blast it!

I have to make an Attack Roll without the benefit of any modifiers, which always makes me nervous.

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And just like that, my roll of five means that my blast misses the hunter-seeker and it latches on to my battle-suit, killing me.

Unforgiving, much?

I’ve got no idea when I’ll be back, but I have no intention of abandoning my quest to blast Yelov’s remains into space.

 

Pop culture.

 

Since I’m feeling a little melancholy, I’m going to give you two songs about love and loss.  Both by the folk singer Jewel, the first one is a simple and poignant tune about trying to get through the day all alone.  The second takes a sharp aim at those who persist in playing destructive emotional games.

Take care of yourselves.

Endurance : 0, Zeiss Shield Points : 2, Starship Trooper Battle Armour Points : 10

Fission Warhead Missiles : 2

Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 306

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 2, Part 4

Annnnd – I’m back.

For those who don’t know, I’m currently engaged in an intense eight-week course in preparation (hopefully) for my admission to the Victorian Bar.  Apologies to all my readers, but posting will, in all probability, be spotty until May 2019.

But!

I’m here, at least for the time being!

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In any event, I’m fleeing the dread land of the 80s for the safety of my Time Machine / Spaceship / Jet Fighter.

Aside : Speaking of the 1980s, for those that were unimpressed with ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline, have a listen to the first episodes of the podcast 372 pages we’ll never get back.  Hilarious.

I emerge from light speed approximately two hours (of space travel) from Mechanon, outside the range of their detection satellites. I do note a nearby weather control satellite, which were used to spare the planet of the constant storms and hurricanes which were prevalent before colonization.

FMsat

Aside : I would LOVE a weather control satellite.  You know, just to make sure that half the people on Earth don’t die within the next 100 years…

Just as the sight of the weather control satellite relaxes me, CAIN notices an intruder detection satellite concealed behind it.  I am cheerfully informed that it has already noted my ship and sent a message to Mechanon.

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My cannons are itching for some action, and I can fire at either the weather control satellite or the intruder detection one.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, I see little benefit to blasting away at a detection satellite that as already, you know, detected me.  Bring on the storms and hurricanes, you feckless robots!

The weather control satellite is now nothing but dust, but I am somewhat discomfited by the fact that the ‘intruder detection satellite’ also doubles as a FREAKING MISSILE GUIDANCE SATELLITE

Three ‘surface-to-space’ missiles have now been fired from the surface of Mechanon and are being guided by the satellite towards my humble ship.

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[I try to manfully ignore that FIVE MINUTES AGO the book informed me that I was TWO HOURS from the surface of Mechanon…]

As I grapple with my electronic counter-measures, I need to make an Attack Roll :

My result of 5 is ONE LESS than needed for success.

This means that one of the missiles is liquidated, while the other two continue on their merry way.

Second Attack Roll!

My total of 7 is enough to knock out one of the remaining two missiles, but that last tenacious sucker manages to get through my defenses and knocks one point off my Zeiss Shields.

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I have a funny feeling that gif might be getting another workout or two before this part of the gamebook is over…

I dive into an ion storm, which makes my navigation tricky, but also (hopefully) scrambles the detection scanners of nearby wardroids.  Thankfully (and yes, this happens in the same paragraph) I emerge from the storm right above the Central Computer Complex.

As I am about to dive into the hangar entrance a missile as big as my Strike Fighter (!!) starts rocketing out of the depths of the planet straight at me.  It is ‘so close’ I can see a bunch of sensors on the tip.

I must quickly whether to bank the Strike Fighter skyward, use electronic countermeasures, or simply to fire my fusion beams at the missile.

I think that the mention of the sensors is a clue that the missile will simply follow me if I try to dodge.  Since my counter-measures were (sort of) effective earlier, I decide to give them another try..

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UnNfortunately, the missile had been built with a jamming system, and the counter-measures don’t work (!)

I have to simply try and blast the missile, and another attack roll is required….

A 7 means that the MEGA-missile gets blown away, but it explodes so close that my vaunted Zeiss Shields cop a 2-point battering.

This is starting to get expensive…

My fighter zips down the main entrance tunnel, and I use my hard-won Main Access Code (15) to secure entrance to the complex.  Unfortunately, as I enter the Main Access portal, ten unfriendly ships decide to follow me, with obvious intentions…

I bank left down another corridor, and emerge near the main hangar.  Unfortunately the ten missiles are still hot on my tail, along with another missile sent my way by the launcher in the hangar.

For those that think I’m exaggerating, here’s my rear camera :

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With regard to the missile, I can use my electronic counter-measures, or fire my (aft) lasers.  Given my previous experience with ECM jamming technology….

ENGAGE LASERS!

Unfortunately, another Attack Roll is needed….

My roll of 3 (!!) does not inspire me with confidence and, indeed, the missile pierces my defences and causes 4 points of damage to my shields (for the curious, it would have caused SEVEN points of damage if I was working off the Titanium Hull defenses…)

In at least a kernel of good news, the missile explosion takes out the other interceptor fighters which were pursuing me.

Before I can breathe a sigh of relief at being alive, I see a mobile fortress embedded in the corridor, with all the technological doodads, like weapon pods, sensor banks and plasma cannons.

Ignoring the other choices I launch one of my fission warhead missiles at the fortress and have to make a chance (!) roll.

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My roll of 1 (!) means that my missile doesn’t destroy the fortress, although it buys me a few extra seconds of life.

Three more (!!!) missiles are launched at my tail, and I once more hope that my ECMs will actually work this time.

The missiles are destroyed, but at the loss of a further one shield point.

And, at the risk of making the next entry a short one, I leave you.

Endurance : 17, Zeiss Shield Points : 2, Starship Trooper Battle Armour Points : 10

Fission Warhead Missiles : 9

Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 185

POP CULTURE!

Although it is a (hilarious) comedy, My Cousin Vinny, where a New York Italian lawyer defends his cousin in redneck country, has been justifiably lauded for its comparatively correct depiction of courtroom procedure and cross-examination.

Plus, for those so inclined, Marisa Tomei, in her Academy Award winning role is MIGHTY FINE.

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 2, Part 3

Well!

After defeating the challenge of what I’ve now decided to call the ‘sinister x-y axis’ I’m back on track!

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My time-travelling fighting spaceship finally emerges above Mechanon in 1986AD.  I’m just in time (pun totally intended) to see a massive starship departing the planet with a 93% (according to CAIN) probability of being headed for Earth.

Well, duh.  You think the fascist rulers of Earth would go to all this trouble to save Kelados?

I can either follow the ship to Earth or continue on course to Mechanon.

Not a hard choice.  The starship obviously has the intention of interfering with Earth’s past timeline (or just blowing the whole darn planet up) and it must be stopped before I meddle with the home base of these wardroids.

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Both the enemy starship and I emerge from hyperspace near Earth’s moon, and I remain undetected, around 4,000 miles away.

Interestingly, the ship does not attack Earth, but merely drops a small ‘re-entry capsule’ before leaving, presumably headed back to Mechanon.

I can head to Earth, following the capsule, or continue on the tail of the larger starship.  Again, I suspect nefarious deeds will take place on Earth, so I think it is best to focus on the possible damage to the past in my home planet.

I track the capsule, noting that it is too close to a ‘large city’ to simply blast it out of the sky.  I land in a field, in an area CAIN describes as Devon, in England.

Just in time for some comic relief, CAIN informs me that there is no molecular convertor or hologram device on board, and that I’ll have to stroll around in my 3033AD outfit.  CAIN simply suggests that I pretend to be an extra in a ‘science fiction film’.

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Is everyone else thinking what I’m thinking?  Time traveller(s) from the distant future, sent to Earth in the mid-1980s to try and save the universe?  Wandering about in futuristic outfit(s) for comedy purposes?

 

 

 

 

star-trek-iv-the-voyage-home-md-web

As I check the relevant dates, I see that Star Trek IV came out in late 1986, while this book was published in 1985!  Paramount owes Messrs Smith and Thomson millions!!!

Ahem.

Back to the book.

As I emerge near to the mystery capsule, I don my infra-red goggles (because I didn’t already look weird enough, apparently) and see an android (which I know as such because of the lack of body heat) quickly moving towards the nearest road.  In the headlights of the moving cars, I see that it is dressed in period-appropriate clothing.

I can follow the android or retreat to sabotage the capsule (which is, tellingly, described as a ‘burnt out’ capsule).

I’m pretty sure the capsule was a ‘one use only’ deal, and it isn’t like an android is going to have massive self-preservation instincts, so I stay on its trail.

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Aside : This whole section has the gimmick of describing everyday 1980s Earth places, people and things from the supposed perspective of someone who only vaguely understands what they are.  I’m going to skim over this artifice unless something is truly funny.

As the android enters an English pub, I do get a snicker from the description of the patrons drinking ‘enormous glass mugs of what looks faintly like urine.’

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As the android asks someone about the use of a ‘phone and then moves towards the back of the building, a drunk patron describes me as a ‘Star Wars chappie’ and offers to buy me a drink.

Rather than ignore him, I claim a lack of funds and duck out the front door and circle around to the back.

As I start to move, CAIN informs me (and how CAIN knows this, I have no idea) that the android is using a public telephone to communicate with the computer controlling the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal (!!)

Aside : This book didn’t only predict Star Trek IV, now its revisiting the plot of…..

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I spot the android in a public telephone box, with a device fixed to the telephone’s receiver.  I can ‘yank’ him out of the phone box, cut the cable or use my blaster.

I hesitate to whip out the blaster save for those times that I have no other choice, so I take a practical option and blast the telephone cable.

The android, who may or may not look like this….

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…..steps menacingly out of the phone booth, spots me, and raises its blaster.

I can run away (across the fields), attack hand-to-hand or use my blaster.  Hand-to-hand battles with a robot are strictly for suckers, and running away seems less than ideal when I’m about to get blasted.

Gunplay for the win!

The android suffers from a severe malfunction (of being blasted to kingdom come, with the explosion taking 3 of my Endurance points) but some 1980s British bobbies take an active interest in my handiwork.

As I try to climb a nearby wall to get away, I need to make an Evasion roll….

My roll of 6, together with my Evasion bonus of +2, is more than sufficient, and I leave the flatfoot officers in my wake.

Following a homing signal from CAIN, I locate my Strike Fighter and, satisfied with a job well done, once more set course for Mechanon.

And that is a convenient moment to leave you.

Final aside : tomorrow (22 Feb) is my last day at my current job!

 

Endurance : 17, Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 135

Pop culture!

Something slightly different tonight.  There is an ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC Youtube channel called ‘Oversimplified’ that gives brief and hilarious summaries of world-changing events such as World War II.  It shouldn’t work, but somehow does.  Here’s an example –

 

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 2, Part 2

In one of those ‘mid-mission breathers’ that are so popular in genre films, I return in Falcon’s Wing to the Eiger Vault and hand my (futuristic) USB stick over to Jobanque and Skirrow, the latter of whom is the head of the research section of Time.

Aside : Given all the vacancies in the ranks of the Lords of Time after my first mission, you just have to figure that both of these guys are angling for a promotion…

For those that remember my earlier days of blogging, I’m getting shades of Gorobei in the Way of the Tiger series…

[Aside, and if you don’t remember, check out my first blog! Try the veal! ]

In any event, to make a long story short, my superiors confirm that Yelov’s new plan is to attack earth in the year 1986AD, using the Mechanon wardroids,

Given some of the culture that was taking place in 1986, it is arguable that Earth at that time was, perhaps, deserving of destruction…

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As I’m taken to the equivalent of a spaceship showroom, I feel the need to summarise the briefing by way of bullet points :

  • I’m being trusted with the latest Strike Fighter.
  • In essence, this ship combines the ability to fire shots and have dogfights in space, aopng with a Variac Drive, the latter of which enables time travel.
  • So I’ll be essentially flying an X-Wing / jet fighter crossbreed that can travel through time.

Strike Fighter

  • I also get a battlesuit, which is basically a souped-up version of my old-school environmental suit.  It includes such goodies as a built-in particle disruptor (ie. blaster), a psionic enhancer helmet, armour, and the overall ‘strength of an android’.
  • In one of those Chekhov’s Gun ‘this will be important later’ details, it is mentioned that Skirrow suffers from red / green colour-blindness.
  • I am given the option of retaining the Strike Fighter’s current Titanium hull, or swapping that out for Zeiss deflector shields.

Aside : I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA why you can’t have the strong hull….and the deflector shields?

Anyway, I keep the deflector shields, because, if possible, I’d rather keep my hull (which protects me from the lethality of outer space) unblemished, if I can help it.

Jobanque tells me to rest while my new space toy is readied for launch.

Like an idiot, rather than crashing on a private couch or watching a movie, Falcon decides to stroll among the common citizenry in a public park.

Sure enough, because this is a gamebook and no stupid deed goes unpunished, I run into Clone, leader of the Mad Max-esque gang from Book 1. Just as I start to get worried about an unpredictable melee, Clone misses me with his hover-bike, spouts some vague threats (which essentially relate to his loss of face from being mind-controlled by yours truly), and gets dropped by a casual Thinkstrike blast.

As the police actually act in my defense for once, they drag him away and I return to base, ‘unsettled’ by the encounter.

Well….that was something that happened.

Since, after the encounter,  I get directed to the same paragraph as would have been the case if I had never encountered ‘Clone’ and his buddies, I have to think that the authors needed to plug in an extra couple of paragraphs to get to the magic number of 420.

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I strap into my new Strike Fighter, and set course for Mechanon.

I then get thrust into one of the more bizarre sequences in a gamebook.

To summarise the weird description –

  • Mechanon has constructed a ‘time flux destabiliser’ which has trapped me in null-space.
  • I am essentially trapped in a 2-dimensional grid, where the various time-holes are represented on the X-Y axis.
  • Mechanon’s robots have also sent ‘atomic mines’ with ‘anti-matter’ drives to blow up at an inconvenient time.

Now, I don’t want to nitpick (Heaven forbid!) but I have no idea why this illustration depicts both my ship and the mines at Thrix, rather than Mechanon, where the text specifically stated that I had emerged.

The book states that I have to jump to one of the other locations, given as follows :

Clyss?  Is that meant to be a deliberate fake-out, or a typo when they meant to say ‘Thrix’?

Thousands want(ed) to know!

Anyway, I am genuinely struggling on this one.  The text makes some comment about how (four of) the mines will apparently scatter to four of the other destinations once I make my escape.

I really have no idea here.

I guess, since the miunes will be following me, I’ll go to Rigel Prime, since it is the furthest away….?

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In a compliment which I ABSOLUTELY do not deserve, the book tells me ‘Well done’, and shows me a map, specifically showing a bomb at each planet (including one approaching me at Rigel) and mentioning that the one at Mechanon has ‘exploded’.

NOW the choice seems fairly simple, and I return to Mechanon, which will presumably be the one place (now) without a mine.

I emerge safely at Mechanon, and the last mine is now exploding at Rigel Prime.  However, the fallout from the recently exploded mine is overloading my ship, and I have to ‘convince’ CAIN that I am not, in fact, within the restricted ‘grid’ of this 2-D universe.

The possible co-ordinates are :

0/5/5, 1/0/0, -2/4/1 and 0/-5/-5.

Firstly, I’m strongly reminded of the Greg Bear short story Tangents, where someone living in a three-dimensional world has to train his mind to ‘see’ in four dimension.

Anyway, option (1) is just another 2-dimensional spot.  Option (4) is a 2-dimensional spot that isn’t on the grid.  (3) is just nonsensical, while I think (1) is the best way of representing a 3-dimensional location, since it uses the third axis without mucking around with the other 2.

So much for that – CAIN tells me that I’ve ‘tried to move in a third dimension’, and I have only one more chance, as radiation levels are becoming critical.

Of the other three options, I guess (3) still won’t work, since CAIN is telling me I can’t use the third axis.  I guess I’ll have to go with (4), and move ‘off the grid’.

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After overcoming the typo in the paragraph reference, I am relieved to be told that I have moved ‘outside’ the grid, and re-emerge above Mechanon, ready for my next absurdist challenge…

Note : My next instalment may not be for about a week, as I move into my last few days of work, with a TON of stuff to finalize…

Endurance : 20, Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 279

Pop culture!

‘Once’ is an absolute gem of a movie – made for about $50.00, (and I’m only slightly exaggerating) it tells a captivating story of two souls in Ireland with very different lives and circumstances that find common ground in music.  First, I want to link to  Roger Ebert’s fantastic review, where he makes you want to BOLT from your chair and watch the movie

This is the trailer.  I’m getting a lump in my throat all over again just from watching it :

 

Mechanon

Mechanon – Attempt 2, Part 1

Well, the bad news is that Falcon, you know, died.

The slightly less bad news is that I don’t think our bloodthirsty special agent made a lot of mistakes before reaching his inglorious end.

I’m going to (mostly) retrace my steps, and summarise in bullet points.

 

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  • I relax on my crash couch in Falcon’s Wing and debate the merits of simply travelling to 1970s New York and hanging out at Studio 54 for a few months.

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  • I then snap out of it and confirm with Jobanque that he has no intention to send other agents on this mission.  I can therefore blast any time travellers with impunity, as they will be Yelov or his allies.
  • I then elect to travel to Crecy, in order to ensure that I have a future, as well as a past.
  • I enter the battle and stay near Sir Thomas Chandos.
  • I resist the urge to interfere in his battle with Count Louis and once more confront the (robot) Black Knight.
  • Eschewing my blaster, my initial attack roll of 6 isn’t enough and the Black Knight tries to blast me with the laser beam from his helmet.
  • My Evasion Roll is sufficient to allow me to dodge, but now I have the added options of either (1) Using Power of Will on Sir Thomas Chandos’ current foe to force him to attack the Black Knight, (2) Using my sword on the Black Knight (3) Using my blaster on the Black Knight.
  • Getting someone to attack the Black Knight from an unexpected direction sounds like a great idea, and I try to control the Duke of Alencon.
  • My Power of Will roll of 12 (!) is more than enough
  • First, the good news – the Duke stops the Black Knight’s attack, and Sir Thomas Chandos is safe.
  • Now, the bad.  The Knight in its final throes kills several English soldiers, causing an English retreat, which will significantly change history.
  • Running out of options, I quickly employ Thinkstrike against a number of unsuspecting French knights, stopping their charge literally in its tracks.
  • When I return to Falcon’s Wing, CAIN advises, to my relief, that any significant changes to the timeline will be eradicated by the forthcoming Black Death.

Aside : Never knew the day when that worldwide calamity would in any way be ‘good’ news…

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  • I confirm with CAIN my guess as to Yelov’s plan, and head for Thrix.
  • I engage my Variac drive at the correct interval to land safely on the planet, and meet my future silica-clone, Carborundum.
  • This time I actually restrain myself from destroying the main mining droid, and am rewarded by being able to finish the Thrix ‘stage’ of the adventure without needing to touch the dice again.
  • I reach Mechanon and take the liberty of making the exact same choices – blasting the radar beacon, entering the main complex on foot and observing the creation of the enormous time machine.

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Tempting fate, I again dash down the smaller access tunnel but elect to talk DIRECTLY UNDER the rail along which the wardroid is travelling.

Under the rail is obviously the robot’s ‘blind spot, and it whirs past me without bothering to look down.

Alright – uncharted territory!

At the end of the tunnel it (and the rail) turns sharp left.  I have the option of waiting, but that appears to be a waste of time, particularly if the robot travels on the rail on a circuit.

The tunnel leads to a communications network / terminal.  Using my conveeeeeenient ‘Universal Interface’ (which has a quite literal name, apparently….) I extract gigabytes of material on Mechanon, before detecting some communications, presumably notable for having a human rather than robot voice.

It is Bloodhound and Lynx, who have presumably been sent to help me!

How Jobanque knew that I would be on Mechanon at this stage of the mission is open to conjecture.

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I have the choice of trying to fight my way back to them (the network has allowed me to note that the tunnels between us are teeming with wardroids) or continuing deeper into the complex.

Frustratingly, I am given no indication as to whether the information which I have extracted from the computer is enough for my current purposes, or if more data should be obtained.

I mean, are the Death Star plans in this readout or not??

I decide to move deeper for the moment, setting off the homing beacon in my suit for my fellow agents to approach.

In a fairly abrupt resolution, I am summarily informed that a platform that moves between levels is commandeered from above by Bloodhound, who throws me a rope.

Aside : My geek self was just waiting for him to say “Throw me the idol, I throw you the whip!”

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Anyway, as I get lifted towards the hole in the ceiling, some stray wardroids open fire.  y Evasion Roll of (4+1)=5 is juuuuust enough and as I get congratulated by Lynx, I get the welcome news that I can add a further +1 to my Evasion modifier!

After confirming to the book that I destroyed the radar beacon on initially leaving Falcon’s Wing, we all return to the Eiger Vault in our respective Time Machines.

And that appears to be convenient moment to leave you.

Thanks to all my supporters and readers.

Pop culture!

A movie that endures in terms of its quotability is the 1987 masterpiece Broadcast News.  THe three leads of William Hurt, Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks have never been better, and their collective focus on their careers anticipated shows like The West Wing and Murphy Brown.

The line that always resonated with me :

“It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.”

“No……..It’s awful.”

Endurance : 20, Evasion – +2, Thinkstrike – +1, All other modifiers – 0

Equipment (extra) – Keladi pills

Current paragraph – 91