Deleted Member: Dream Log: Stomping Down Prices (All Over The Place)
Dream Log: Stomping Down Prices (All Over The Place)
I found myself the pilot of a war mech. It wasn't a very large war mech, as these things go. Apparently my operator's license did not yet have the “kaiju” endorsement on it.
Myself and many other mechs were doing battle in a Wal Mart. This is how I was able to divine the scale of my machine so easily, you see. I also knew it was a Wal Mart, because every Wal Mart in the world is exactly the same (and I've proven this by visiting them in states all over the country). We were just about large enough to stand on steel robotic tiptoe to see over the tops of the aisle dividers, making the aisles themselves very effective cover. It was not possible, for instance, for most of the machines to both look and shoot over an aisle wall at the same time.
In general shoppers were sort of put on edge by having bipedal war machines stomping around the store but that didn't dissuade them from going about their business much. The employees, though, didn't seem to pay us any heed at all. Apparently this was the sort of thing that happened all the time around here, and what can you do? Sometimes forklift-sized mecha just run around in your store and have a little tussle with each other, and what are you and your price gun going to do about it?
And a tussle it was, evidently, as the situation quickly devolved into chaos. My starting position was in the paint section, and by the time I got to the center of the action (mostly happening near the soft goods and tupperware departments) any semblance of order was long gone. If there were supposed to be teams or sides in this fight nobody seemed to be sticking to them. Little mechs of all types and descriptions were lasering and missiling away at each other indiscriminately – Curiously, though, doing surprisingly little damage to the shelves and merchandise. While there were many crests and markings on all of the mechs, no two of them seemed to be alike and nobody was the same color or even vaguely the same design as anybody else. There was no uniformity at all, so maybe this was just supposed to be a free-for-all.
I found my mech to be fairly nimble (if still a little stompy for my tastes) and armed with some kind of chaingun that seemed to be laughably ineffective against anything up to and including other mechs, people, cardboard product displays, even the light bulbs in the ceiling. I'm fairly certain it only shot airsoft BB's. I also had a laser cannon, which was apparently much more powerful – at least to the point of being able to disable other mechs – but was prone to overheating and forcing me to retreat for some seconds if I fired it more than once. The noise in my cockpit when I was in a overheat situation was exactly the same one as you'd hear in Descent (the original one, for DOS) when you were dangerously low on shields. I think, perhaps, some mech designer thought he had a sense of humor. I made a mental note to stomp on him if I ever met him.
Because of my armament handicap I found myself spending a lot of time edging around corners and hightailing it away from the other fighters whenever I was spotted. Mine was a “skate” mech, like in Virtual On or Armored Core, so I could in fact leg it quite effectively and go blasting off around corners and down the aisles.
I briefly considered a strategy of kicking over the aisle dividers onto the combatants, but somehow this struck me as bad form. Instead, I discovered that the other pilots apparently had really lousy peripheral vision and only seemed to notice me if I was standing right in front of them. Even standing a couple of feet away from a mech locked in battle with somebody but 90 degrees to the side ensured I was unnoticed. So I settled for hit-and-run tactics surprising my enemies from the side or from behind, blasting them once (so I didn't overheat) and legging it. This seemed to work, though my foes seemed to be a little angry about it.
There seemed to be no shortage of knuckleheads to fight, and I decided to return to my paint section for a regroup. A silly idea struck me: Blasting hapless fools from behind was effective, but it wasn't really much fun. Instead I decided to take up several cans of spray paint and went around sneaking up on the other machines and painting them in silly colors. So I went about redecorating the backsides of all kinds of mechs in pink, purple, and chartreuse. Of course people got angry about this, but it had another effect, too: Mechs who I'd spraypainted started allying themselves with others I'd painted the same color. I wondered if I could end the battle by painting them all the same color, but it seems idiots had beaten me to the punch. I returned to the paint aisle to resupply and found most of the others parked around the place repainting themselves, and getting into arguments over which color they should be, whose color was best, and who wanted to be the same color as someone else. Pretty soon everyone seemed to have the same colors – Plural, since everyone had painted all different parts of their mechs in all the silly colors, and they decided they were on the same team. They shooed me away from the paints, because I didn't have a team color at all and therefore I clearly wasn't even eligible to be a combatant. Evidently they'd already forgotten who started the fad by going around surreptitiously painting people in the first place.
Deciding that this lot were as dumb as a box of hammers anyway, I stomped off on my own, not feeling rejected or bitter at all, really, but just sort of annoyed. I took out my irritation on a cardboard product display using my chaingun, which had no effect whatsoever other that scooching the thing across the floor a couple of inches.
Ugh. This stupid bucket of bolts was so lame.
I resolved to go outside and do something else instead, but I found that in defiance of the “all Wal Marts are the same” rule, this one had front doors that were about thirty feet in the air. It was higher than I could reach, even by jumping (which shook the floor when I landed and made shoppers scold me). It was in this fashion, though, that I discovered I had jump jets. Just like everything else I had, though, they were sort of ineffective. I could hover a few feet off the ground for a few seconds or just barely inch myself about ten feet in the air before I ran out of oomph.
It was clear that I needed an upgrade, and points to by upgrades were obviously earned by defeating other mechs. None of whom were fighting, because they were all sitting around the back of the store huffing paint, or whatever the heck it was they were doing. Evidently just going and taking them all out wasn't an option. Even if it was, I'd probably get my ass handed to me since I could only shoot twice before overheating, and there were like thirty of those guys all sitting around in a clump, apparently decided they were all allied with each other now. Yeah, bad plan.
Instead I earned points by helping people out with odd jobs. Cleaning up the mess left by the other mechs was a big one, since despite the fact that they apparently couldn't damage the merchandise (were all of our weapons only shooting Nerf balls, or what?) they could still knock it all over the place, and they certainly did plenty of that.
This was apparently not a very profitable enterprise. I determined that I would be old and wizened before I ever earned enough points to buy jump jets sufficient enough to get myself up onto that ledge by the doors and also all the attendant parts I'd need to run them: Generators and upgraded stabilizing gyros, and so forth. Instead I got the brilliant idea to stand my mech up with one arm up in the air as high as it could go, then leave it parked that way and use it as a ladder to scrabble up to the ledge on foot. This worked, and before I jumped through the doors I turned around and sat on the edge with my legs dangling over, looking over the tops of all the aisles and gloating triumphantly at all the other stupid people (and mech pilots) still milling around in that store.
Before I could get up and leave, though, I woke up.