khaosworks: (Dr. Harvestman)
So after much nudging from various friends and casual discussions with best friend [ profile] logam, I bummed a set of World of Warcraft discs off a colleague and signed up for a 10-day free pass.

To be honest, CoH and CoV are still fun, but has been getting a bit of a grind. I've never quite recovered from the loss of Level 40 Battlebug a couple of Christmases ago, and now that I barely get to play with the rest of my supergroup anymore, it's been getting more and more tiresome (I'm not blaming you guys — I still love y'all — it's just bad scheduling on all our parts). So, figuring that five million players must be on to something, I decided to check WoW out.

I haven't played it all that much - just a couple of hours. I created a Dwarven hunter named Stoutfoot (I think only logam will know that reference out of everyone who's reading this) on the Bronzebeard server and in a couple of hours made level 4.

First impressions? The worst part about WoW is traveling, and apparently you don't get mounts until Level 40. But that's really a small thing. The most impressive part about WoW is how fucking huge the place is, and the ability to move between game areas seamlessly. It's mind-boggling, I have no idea how they do it, but not having to wait for the next zone to load really keeps you immersed in the game. As to the rest, the interface is intuitive enough that you don't really need a tutorial, the textures are really pretty and detailed, if a bit cartoony, but hey, I play City of Heroes — cartoony isn't really a problem. And what logam says is true: I'm not even looking at my XP bar to see how I'm doing most of the time.

More updates after I play some more tonight. I'm not cancelling my sub to CoH just yet. Just want to see if WoW's all that it's hyped up to be, and if it's a better gaming experience for my buck.
khaosworks: (Battlebug)
To my compatriots in crime-fighting: We really need to get together to kick some ass in the PvP zones. Siren's Call is particularly cool, since you get to fight alongside NPCs.

I miss playing with you guys. Come one, let's start getting those prestige points and build that orbital ice penguin we were talking about!
khaosworks: (Default)
Old Steel

"Hey, buddy, time to go."


"I said," the bartender repeated, putting his head at the level of the counter where the drunk had his own face plastered, "Time. To. Go. Home. Sleep it off." Around them, the bar was empty - even the most die hard of the patrons had wandered back to their Talos Island apartments, anticipating the hangovers they would have the next morning. This guy, though, looked like he was going to be cultivating his for a long time.

The drunk placed two hands on the counter, tried to push up and off, and only succeeded in losing his balance. He tumbled off the stool and hit the floor. The bartender didn't move to help him. The drunk didn't feel a thing. "Home?" he slurred, as he ungainly wobbled to his feet. "Don't have a home," he added, barely loud enough to hear. "Don't have a home, don't have a job, don't have a life..."

He stood up to his full 6'2" height, rubbing his unshaven face, the formerly neatly kept beard now a tangled growth. The shirt he was wearing was missing a tie, his pants were permanently wrinkled from sleeping in doorways, and he hadn't had a shower for weeks. With as much dignity as he could muster with eighty-proof breath, he turned to the bartender and said, "I used to be somebody, you know."

"Sure you were," the bartender said skeptically, coming around to take a hold of the drunk's arm and guiding him to the exit, "I bet you were a superhero. Superheroes make the worst drunks."

The drunk reacted to this, flinging the bartender off easily - strong for a lush. He grabbed the bartender by the shirt, and yelled in his face, "Not a drunk!" He released his grip, pushing the bartender back. "Not a drunk," he repeated, in a softer tone, "Not a hero. Not... not anything."

He walked out of the bar, with the bartender screaming obscenities back at him, warning him never to step in there again. He wondered which alley looked comfortable tonight. Maybe he'd be lucky and some Tsoo would come along and start beating him up again for fun. At least this time, he'd be able to use the hospital facilities without paying off too much. When he turned the corner, there they were. The Tiger Enforcer smiled, cracking his knuckles. "Gotta pay the toll," he said.

Thaddeus Connors, former CEO of ConTek Industries, former holder of the Stark-Hawkins Chair at Paragon University, former engineering wunderkind, former superhero celebrity, former human being, just smiled. Maybe this time I won't get up.

Just weeks ago, he was on top of the world. Dinners at the White House, interviews with the Paragon City Press. Nemesis was said to grow livid at the mention of his name - no easy feat for a steam-driven cyborg. Connors - Battlebug - had been cleared for access to the Shadow Shard, and General Hammond himself was saying he looked forward to working with him.

Then the newspapers revealed that Connors had been embezzling funds, skimming off the top of ConTek Industries, overreporting revenues, deceiving stockholders. An SEC investigation quickly (perhaps too quickly) found evidence of insider trading. An IRS audit followed, but Connors still had enough influence with the government and brownie points stored up to prevent any major felony charges from being filed. He lost the company, lost his security clearance, and worst of all, lost the suit and the associated technology. The Incomparable Armored Battlebug, who had bounced back from every defeat, wasn't bouncing back from this one.

He was losing himself in the oblivion of another Tsoo beating when he heard the familiar sounds of a flame blast. The Tsoo around him could barely react as they were quickly surrounded by waves of heat and the moisture was sucked out of their bodies. Whoever did it had excellent aim - Connors was untouched, while his assailants dropped to the ground, unconscious, and were teleported away by the city police grid into the Vaults.

He sat there on the alley floor, propped up by a brick wall, and looked up at his rescuer with bleary eyes. "Didn't need rescue," he muttered, "Jus' leave me alone..."

"Thaddeus Connors?" the red-clad figure in front of him asked. "Battlebug?"

"Not any more," Connors laughed bitterly, "Who wants to know?"

"My name's Thermion," he said, "I'm with the PACK."

The PACK. He'd heard of them. Big supergroup - operated in another part of the city, though. They and Penguin Force never crossed paths. "Whoopee for you," he said, spitting out some blood and part of a tooth, "So what? You gonna give me a lecture on what a disgrace I was to the tights?"

"No," Thermion said, "You didn't do what they said. We found the evidence inside a CreyNet mainframe. It's not enough to reinstate you, but..."

He shook his head, trying to clear it for the first time in days, because he wanted to hear this. Evidence? Proof he was innocent? If the PACK had proof, they had to know...

"Who?" Connors managed to get out, his voice with an edge to it. The old steel.

"Countess Crey."

Of course. It was obvious. Crey Industries had wanted the Battlebug technology from the beginning. They were the ones that tried to steal the prototype, sending a raiding force of Fifth Column and Sky Raider mercenaries, back when Connors was freshly graduated from MIT and trying to perfect the cold fusion generators that would power the armor. Connors had been saved by the 1960s hero Battle-Bug, but the older hero died from his wounds, and Connors decided to take up the fight in his name. The Countess. He had gotten close once or twice, even took down Hopkins, her right-hand-man, alongside Task Force Chimera, but he'd never met her himself. The Countess. So, it was personal. Probably got so right after he shut down Project Locke and the obscene way they were creating the Paragon Protectors...

Connors leaned his head back and sighed. "What do you want?" he said, suddenly very tired, "You can't get my company or my suit back. What can you offer me?"

"A second chance," Thermion said. He tossed a large bundle at Connors's feet - it clanked when it hit the pavement. Connors looked down and unzipped the bag. Inside were the pieces of his old armor - the Mark I suit, when he was starting out, that he had kept in his trophy room as a reminder but had long abandoned. It was pretty basic, without all the bells and whistles he put on the Mark II, III and IVs, but... it was the suit. He was quickly sobering up as he saw it, and wanted to ask how Thermion had gotten his hands on it, but in the end, all he could get out was one word, carrying with it everything.


"Revenge," Thermion replied, smiling, and added, "Justice."

Connors ran his hands over the pieces of the armor. It felt good, like a call to battle once more. He looked up at Thermion and smiled back. It had an edge to it, too, this smile.

The old steel.

December 2011

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