Monday, 15 June 2015

The SPLATOON War Journal

DAY 29

Report filed by 1LT Crawfish 'Craig Macd' MacMackerel

Two rooks fresh out of selection

War.  War has changed after all.

Used to be, I could tell who the enemy was just by looking at their eyes, their flags, their tentacles.  And you knew what you were fighting for.  All those long, sticky days trudging through hostile ink down in the valley, gradually wearing down strongholds until we could take out the Octarians' weapons of mass stainage - oh, they were real.  Very real.  Don't let the limp-suckered media types tell you different.  I lost 3 good men to the Octomaw.  Watched them get swallowed up, struggling to reach past its reinforced teeth before it bit down and, splat.  Gone forever.  Nobody came out of that valley unmarked, but we never doubted the mission.  We were keeping people safe.

These days?  These days I see the same faces on the other side of the field as I do among my own squad.  There are no superweapons to secure, no evil mastermind waiting to be toppled.  Just endless proxy battles between factions, with no high goal than keeping YOUR colour more prosperous than THEIR colour.  All happening out in the streets of our own city.  Somehow I doubt anyone feels 'safe' anymore.

But, I'm a soldier, and this is still a war.  A turf war.  And I'm going to fight.

The orders come down the wire to the Plaza - take back Arowana Mall.  Again.  I was fighting here last week, and the week before that.  Starting to wonder what's so splashed special about the place.  It's not the food, I know that much.  My old colonel had the trots for a fortnight after sampling one of the planktonburgers down there.  Had to assign a cleaning 'bot to follow him wherever he went and sweep up the ink always leaking from his backside.

They wanted me to try out a new gun, too.  The .96 Gal.  Never had much love for the .52 and they tell me this one's even slower.  I'd have better luck just holding a barrel of ink under one arm and throwing handfuls around.

The inkportal jump doesn't phase me anymore.  Once I can morph back out of squidform, I look over my squad for the morning.  The first two answer to callsigns 'spoonybard' and 'BastGame', while the third is from one of the outer boroughs, so splat knows how his name's supposed to read.  BastGame looks nervous, his fingers gripping his Splash-O-Matic autopistol a little too tight, but the other two look how I figure I do - jaded, miserable, but determined.  They're no strangers to the war either.  A quick check of the scout report gives me some names for the enemy - 'Mircasta', 'Short', 'kyle' and 'Meyoshehe'.  Suspect I've fought with or against kyle before.  Couldn't pick him out of a line-up, though.  Then we get the green light and I put those thoughts away.  Time to paint some turf.

The .96 - works about as good as it looks

spoonybard takes off for the left-hand high path while the guy with the mystery name charges straight down the middle with his roller.  Never much cared for rollers either - give me a trigger any day - but he who controls the battlefield wins the war, and they're good for that.  I take the right side, and I'm halfway up before I realize we're missing someone.  Looking back I spy BastGame, still at the drop point, not moving.  He's frozen.  Guess I saw that coming.  Maybe a few stern words would snap him out of it, but I don't have time to hang back and coddle him - the other side's already on the move, and if they capture the middle before we do it'll be hell to get them out of there.

The early moments are nonetheless clear.  Can't say if that's because the other side's taking their sweet time or if my other squadmates are selling their lives dearly to hold them back.  A glance at sonar while I'm filling in the side walkway tells me they're still in the fight and have engaged the enemy.  I pick up the pace and join them, throwing out a sprinkler before leaping into the fray.  The device doesn't last long but it gives the enemy a target, leaving them open, like I wanted.  My gun speaks six times and two of their team go down, Mircasta and Meyoshehe.  Two shots apiece for full de-materialization?  The lab boys sure made a hell of a gun for an assassin, I'll give them that.  But not for a soldier, not on this field.  Coverage matters more than kills.  That's what the upper brass wants, these fields covered in more of our ink than the other side's.  Something about forming comm networks with liquid-based data streaming, I think.  The details are fuzzy.

I come to rely on the sprinklers in favour of the .96's woeful rate of fire.  I rely on them too much, and my ammo runs dry just before Short comes swimming up behind me just in front of the enemy drop zone.  I curse to myself and try to retreat but he's too fast and...I die.  It's agony, like it is every time, feeling your whole body burn, your insides swell up from the spiking heat before your brain pops in your head and you stop feeling anything.  I hold together just long enough to see Short get surprised in turn by spoonybard, and they take each other down.  And then, seconds later, I'm back, in mind and body, restored to life by arcane science I don't even pretend to understand.  Looking up, I see that BastGame has shaken off the nerves and joined the fray.  I jump to his side and cover him as he holds the center, quietly promising myself not to go through that experience again.

I die once more before we hear the go-home signal.  Final tally: 44.5% of our network down versus 44.4% of theirs.  Barely a difference at all, but that point-one gets me and my squad a bonus on our paychecks, so who are we to complain?

The mall, before it all goes to hell

I grab some rack time with a seaweed sub and my 'Amorous Aplacophoras' back issues before getting recalled.  All that work we did in the mall this morning?  Wiped out because the next boys on shift couldn't hold it.  Same sad old song.  This time I tell the armourer to stick his new toy where the sea doesn't flow and retrieve my Aerospray.  It might look a little old now, and it shoots wide of the mark, but it fires fast, it covers turf, and it gives me space to carry mines and a CAS director, my personal preference.

The duty roster's been changed so it's a whole new squad that greets me as we move to the site.  'Ryan', 'Katie' and another funny-named one, with 'elijah', 'Fabrizio', 'nysaiah' and a foreigner on the other side.  This time around I don't pussy-foot up the sides, I take the straight route down the center of the field, firing on all sides as I go.  It's more than a little undisciplined, but when your squadmates are all rushing forward without covering their tracks, it's a sensible precaution.  The enemy is waiting for me atop the ramp to the center, and when I see a laser sight homing in on me my throat goes dry.  Chargers.  Chargers are my bane most days of the week, especially since my Aerospray isn't so hot at long range.  Luckily Fabrizio isn't a natural sniper, his shots go wide, and I take the chance to blast him into vapour while he tries to get a better angle.

Slipping up the wall into the opposing force's side alley, I hear the distinct whine of a Killer Wail charging up - aiming down the middle of the field, though, so it's no danger to me.  Seems to miss the rest of the squad too, though it does force them to take cover and lets the enemy regroup.  Not good.  I check my own gear and find that our support craft is in the air, so I holster my gun, get out my director, and launch a targeting missile.  It lands just in front of the enemy camp, and less than a second later a rippling whirlwind of close-air support blasts the ground, tearing apart one unlucky squid.  They'll notice that, of course, and move to cover up the stain in their territory, but that's a good thing.  It'll keep them occupied and let my team get their suckers out their asses and back in the fight.

The squid with the golden gun gets it done

It's not all smooth sailing - nysaiah scatters my blubbery flanks to the winds with a Seeker bomb in the final minute, putting a hole in the effective-til-that-point control zone we'd set up.  That costs us some coverage as we scramble to chase down an escapee in our own territory, but even so, we end with 53.4% of the area coloured in our favour.  Not bad work.

When I trudge back into the plaza, I spy elijah and nysaiah skulking about, whispering to each other, and my trigger finger itches - fruitlessly since I already turned my gun in after leaving the field.  Old habits die hard.  But the reality is, we're all mercenaries now.  The colour I'm fighting for tomorrow won't be the same one as today - next time I make a report like this, it'll likely wind up posted to the desks of the very same group I've been calling 'the enemy' in this one.  And everyone else in the plaza is in the same boat.  Makes you wonder what would happen if, one day, a squid among us decided to turn their back on the established hierarchy and unite us all in one force...but I'm blubbered if I know anyone capable of that.

And then the alarm goes off.  Yep...the mall again.  Don't ask how, don't ask why.  Just go.  Do.  At first I think the roster's the same, but then I notice nysaiah's joined my squad while Katie's thrown in with the other side.  No great loss, since nysaiah was one of the more promising fighters on their side last time.  We all know what to expect from one another, and so the battle is fought up-close and dirty as you like.  I kill Fabrizio twice in quick succession deep in enemy turf, shredding him with a rapid-fire barrage then laying a landmine and letting him blunder into it in his next life.  That makes me feel good for a little while.  Getting inked in the back by elijah's Splattershot Pro takes the wind out of my sails again.

Callsign 'nysaiah' demonstrating sonic weaponry

Even after that, my squad keeps our heads cool and our feet wet.  We take both side alleys and hold them until the battle's end.  Twice I come across Katie while she's trying to get an airstrike launched, and send her down to Davey Jones' before she can finish.  One of the foreigners employs Kraken tech to try and break our lines, but Ryan evades him nimbly and splats him when the morphing effect wears off.  That tech has been unreliable from the start - I get the impression most of the soldiers who swear by it do so just because they like the feeling of go-anywhere swimming.  I'm sure it's nice but if you're only worried about getting your jollies, you're not supporting your team.

We win, in the end.  I don't even remember the final tally, somewhere in the 60% region for us.  A steady improvement that bodes well for my chances of earning the Lv20 commendation soon.  Maybe after that I can think about retirement.  Move out of Inkopolis to a quiet suburb, find a nice boy to settle down with, squirt out a school of kids and spend the rest of my days wading through the shallows.

Not likely.  The war is in my mind, in my ink.  It's my life now.  And as it looks like it'll never end...that makes me immortal.

Callsign 'Craig Macd', signing off.

Just a day like any other

(Note:  Well that was fun!  Splatoon has become my life recently, but I didn't have time close to release for a proper review.  Still, I wanted to do something for it, and the idea for this post just floated into my head one evening while playing.  Hopefully it raises a smile or two.)

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