Monday 5 October 2009

Permanent Death, Episode 9: Bridges, Bombs and Broadcasters

I’m back with the UFLL. Voorhees and his boss want me to kill an arms dealer called Yabek. Voorhees tells me, “I hear that’s a speciality of yours”. Andre calls me up and asks to meet near Sepoko.

On the way out of town, I stop in to see the doctor and pick up some passports to swap with for some malaria pills. After catching the bus up north, I get in a car and am promptly attacked by a bunch of soldiers in jeeps.

I swap my jalopy for one up with a grenade launcher on the turret. It is a silly move and I later end up nearly blowing myself up with it.

Further up the road, I get attacked by an RPG from a nearby hill and swerve off the road to avoid it. I look back over my shoulder in time to see the explosion.

I reach the safe-house and go inside to meet Andre, who wants me to go get a fuse for a 1000 pound bomb he plans to use to drop a bridge on Yabek the arms dealer. As one does.

I picked up a clean new rifle from the weapons crate inside the house, trading it for my dirty and soon to become prone to jamming AR16. Some of soldiers had followed me to the safe-house and had set up an ambush at the front door. As in literally at the front door.

To get to the crash site and the detonator for Andre’s bomb I had to pass through the checkpoint that had previously fired an RPG at me and after sniping the Rocketeer and checkpoint guards, I took down some more soldiers at another safehouse.

Creeping up to the crash-site, I took out one sniper from distance and used my flare gun to start a pair of fires on both sides of a group of soldiers.

Swapping to my SAW for closer combat, I lobbed two grenades into the group. Two distinct explosions followed by two distinct cries of pain were heard, but I’d seen three in the initial group. Peering over the lip of the rocky-outcropping, I spot the last of the trio standing surrounded by flame and destruction.

I put him down with a quick burst, but he’s not done yet and, getting up he limps away, the flames lapping at his heels.

I stand transfixed in horror as I watch the poor injured man’s fate initially believing that the fire would eventually claim him. However he made it to a burnt patch where the fire was dying down and I had to finish him off with anther quick burst.

The thought of the unknown soldier dying from the flames really shook me up and I wondered why. Really, why should it, and why now? I’ve killed men by fire before. Yet it remained a strange and affecting moment, perhaps a result of some combination of visual verisimilitude and emergent situation. It is exciting to be affected like this by a game.

I picked up the warhead from the middle of the crash site and got a call from Andre – it was time to meet him on the bridge. On the way I picked up a number of Reuben’s recordings with The Jackal.

The quickest way to the bridge was to pass back through the RPG checkpoint from before. I blew up a whole bunch of cars and the enemies using them as cover by putting a grenade under one of them.

I took a bus back to Pala and arrived in the dead of the night. I then drove to the arms dealer and picked up some stealth weaponry to make the most of working in the dark. Taking a boat up the eastern tributary, I made good progress.

On the way, I passed close enough to reach out and touch another patrol boat heading in the opposite direction. It couldn’t identify me as either friend or foe in the gloom and I was past them before they could call out. They followed me a ways down river but by the time they caught up to where I’d beached my swamp boat I was safely hidden in long grass up the bank.

They did a few lazy circles scanning the bushes for me, but eventually gave up and went back to patrolling. It was another moment of intoxicating, unexpected verisimilitude to real-world behaviour.

After watching the boat retreat up the river, I walked up the road to a safe-house on the track to the bridge pausing to stare at two water buffalo by the side of the road.

Spotting two soldiers up ahead I crept up to the edge of the clearing around the safe-house and opened fire with my silenced MP5.

One soldier on the opposing side of the campfire from me wasn’t killed by my initial burst and in the time it took to take down his friends had pulled himself up onto his knees and had drawn his side-arm.

I shot him again and he went down, falling half-into the fire. There’s no predicting which kills are in Far Cry 2 are going to leave a mark in your memory, but this was another one. Perhaps it was the way he collapsed into the fire looked unsettlingly real. It’s certainly been one for affecting moments.

I reached the bridge at the end of the road and spotted Andre down the far end, a truck with the bomb in the back parked over barge below.

I delicately hand over the warhead/fuse. “No sudden moves” he adds, quite unnecessarily I feel. He then tells me to run for it and I realise that he’s armed it – just like that, and no warning. I’m too busy sprinting for my life to get a good look at the best of the fireworks and it kind of annoys me actually – it was a lot of hard work getting that fuse and I expect to be able to enjoy the show.

APR goons swarm towards us like we’ve just stepped on an ant’s nest, since we’ve just put their favourite arms dealer out of action, but they’re easily put down. Kind of suspicious how quickly they arrived – did they let us blow up Yabek’s barge? Was he becoming too greedy even for the APR?

I take a hang-glide and a boat ride to end up back in Pala, searching for more clues.

Tambossa is the only one who will even see me now. I’ve used up all my usefulness to the UFLL with the last job apparently. The APR commander’s formal army attitude puts me on edge and he tells me he knows I’ve been ‘working with the enemy’. Of course he knows, however he must still have some use for me or he’d have had me shot as soon as I stepped into Pala.

This time he and Greaves want me to stop a DJ from speaking anti-APR propaganda on the radio. The problem until now has been that his transmitter was portable and as soon as they could pin him down he’d pack up and leave again. They’ve just spotted him again, however, and now it’s my job to shut him up.

Andre calls me about the job and asks to meet near Sepoko and since it’s near the drop-off for the passports Doctor Obua gave me the day before (and which have since been in the water with me and possibly ruined; I haven’t checked) I decide to detour to meet him. Taking a boat down the western river, I didn’t get far before I felt a wave of illness pass over me and as I tossed back a pill I noticed it was the last in the container. Good thing I’m on my way to get some more.

I’m met with little to no resistance and find Andre in the safe house. I don’t quite know how he got there so fast – he must have gone direct from where I’d left him near the bridge. But as for how he knew where I’d be doing next, I’ll never know. I guess there’s a reason he’s the near-mythical Andre Hypollite.

Andre tells me that, better than just kicking the DJ off the air, I should get him to read something that will incite the local militia into attacking some official that’s in the country. Before I can get the DJ’s altered message on-air, however, I need to get some UFLL censor’s finger off the button that kills the signal. So off to the ranger station it is, and still in the early hours of the morning, I approach and quietly take out a number of guards. I manage to sneak my way underneath the target’s building and shoot him in the head from below. His body goes limp, sliding out of the chair he was sitting in and onto the floor.

I start some fires to act as a diversion while I extricate myself from the ranger station.

Heading over to the phone card shop (as Doctor Obua described it to me) I’m finally delivering the passports. I take out the soldiers peppering the façade of the building and another soldier ends up wounded on the ground, crawling away to lean against a rock. What is it with me and wounded soldiers today? I hate leaving survivors (particularly when they still have a sidearm) and I equally hate killing these soft targets. Like the man in the fire earlier, it kind of wrenches at me as I pull the trigger.

Wanting to put some distance between myself and this latest fight, I quickly hand over the passports, the civilian giving me a look as he gets up.

I leave for my new target – the DJ Lord Haw-Haw. What a stupid name. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to shut this guy up as I’ve been hearing him talk over and over on the radio ever since I came to this country. The sun comes up on the way and I change my load-out, opting for a shiny new super powerful, super automatic shotgun.

To get to the DJ I have to go through a small cluster of buildings pock-marked with soldiers. I charge into the place with my fat Land Rover and charge up the front stairs, blowing up something flammable in the process.

Soon, everything is on fire and obscured by the smoke.

It quickly clears, and it is plain that most soldiers were unfazed by the blaze and are already pressing the attack. To top it off, a jeep appears behind and two or more soldiers begin shooting into my back. I’m now surrounded, and only by popping three syrettes in a row can I stay on my feet. I make it over to a rock formation to the west and take a breather.

With a full magazine and a lungful of air (as opposed to lead) I take down soldiers one at a time from a position of relative safety behind a large rock. I even manage to catch one with my flare gun at 100 paces!

Heading south towards the DJ and his transmitter, a RPG-wielding lookout launches a rocket toward me. I get a dart off but miss and I notice as the rocket is coming in that I’m surrounded by potent explosives.

I high-tail it, sure that I’m not going to make it far enough away, but luckily the rocket ‘packs it in on the surface’ and doesn't hit near enough to do more than singe my eyebrows.

I steady for my second shot and score a hit as he launches off another rocket still aimed at me – however it goes haywire, presumably from the guidance system, as it does a few loops around the hut from which it was fired.

The DJ is no problem once I show him my machete and he spits an ineffectual “Fuck you!” after me as I strode out of his bush-studio.

I threw a grenade under his transmitter to shut him up.

Andre calls and I go to his aid, driving a jeep over three soldiers as they stand in the road shooting. More turn up but I was by then getting the hang of my shotgun so it was no hassle.

I clear out another safe-house on the way to the bus-station and what should happen but more wounded soldiers I fail to kill in my initial shots. Two wounded soldiers survive my attack to get up onto their knees.

Whether it’s from the visceral joy of firing my new toy or I’m just getting inured to euthanizing wounded soldiers, I fail to hesitate on these two.

Back on the road, about 100 metres from the bus station I come across this grisly scene.

There appear to be no survivors.


Ben Abraham said...

Apologies for a) so many pictures and b) the rather extreme length of this post.

Elliott Richards said...

The pictures are good! If I couldn't trust your incredible writing to paint the perfect picture for me, these pictures certainly do the trick every time!

Great blog too. Sounds like winding yourself up into your avatar Quarbani Singh's mind again! Once that happens, your creativity guides you. I'm glad to be reading these blogs again.

Despite my long-term absence from your Blog, I am always an avid fan, and stick by you with page visits, comments and pure inspiration.