This is part two of my ongoing series of diaries from the world of Champions Online, written in character as The Exclamation. This week, fresh from his victory over the Qularr, Ex is sent to Canada to help the armoured mounties defeat a strange zombie invasion brought about by a sudden and dangerous storm. He is not amused.
If forced to choose between being too hot or being too cold, the cold wins.
I don’t get on well with hot climates. Heat is an oppressive and tiring beast with only a limited number of ways to combat it. There are only so many articles of clothing you can remove, so many fans you can have whirring away, before you’ve reached your very limit. This meant that, when presented with the choice of setting foot in the desert or the frozen wastes of Canada, the frozen wastes won hands down.
A bit of background: I believe my last entry was made during the alien invasion. That’s over now, and all the better for it. I was forced to take an active part in the end, fellow heroes (and I use the term loosely, both in regards to myself as well as the others) practically had to drag me out of the bar and into the fray. Once involved, it was a simple matter of cutting down anything that moved, which came easily to me.
The Champions claimed to have a big master plan to halt the invasion once and for all. From what I managed to piece together, the plan involved committing a little more mass murder inside the Champions’ headquarters and pressing a button in the control room so that they could launch a half crazed alien out of a cannon like a giant bullet. Given the choice, I would have sat this one out, but the pathetic mewling of cowardly civilians was starting to get to me, and this was the only place in the city that I could be sure would be sufficiently soundproofed to shut them up.
Upon completion I was awarded the key to the city, which I found a little odd. My contribution to the war effort had been to begrudgingly walk around the headquarters of the nation’s premier superhero squad and press buttons. There was a mild bit of killing on my part, but the truth was that the majority of my input was to press buttons. Oh, and turn off the inexplicable devices the Champions keep in storage that seem to have no purpose other than to irritate the aliens to such a degree as to make them hostile. Still, the key came with a holiday to the desert or Canada, so I wasn’t about to back out of it.
When I say holiday, what I mean is practice. I was informed of a paramilitary coup taking place in the frozen north, and that was just what I had been searching for. Millennium City was about to fall prey to the whole patriotic fervour that comes from any major disaster, so people would be busy pretending they were virtuous, moral people. No fun. The sort of mentally delayed mastermind who thinks the tundra is the best place to begin your coup, they’d be a nice warm up.
My arrival, however, made me wish I had chosen the desert.
A storm of biblical proportions was blowing as I arrived, and it’s a wonder my transport made it in one piece. From the window of the helicopter I saw heroes with personal flight powers blown away into the storm, struck by lightning or merely ripped apart by the razor-like wake of the violent storm. It was strangely gratifying, those whose powers of flight had largely been reserved for looking flashy and important, prostrate before the power of nature. I’m not ashamed to say I may have smiled.
Someone else on my transport, a man in armour so heavy that the pilot had been forced to make modifications to the rotors before take-off, noticed my mirth at the situation. I saw thoughts flicker across his face, the will to confront me coming to the forefront briefly before fear shut him down.
My preliminary search of the base at which we touched down yielded little of interest. I was informed that the storm was about as sudden as you can get, like flicking a switch. It had caused havoc with various military training manoeuvres, brought down passenger planes, even somehow raising the dead. I was dubious until my first encounter with these alleged Ice Zombies, and then I was certain that someone had gone to great lengths to make this appear supernatural. I went out zombie hunting.
I feel it is important to be clear just how much I despise the weak members of society. I am not, despite what license documents may say, a selfless hero out to save the world. The only thing achieved by such people is the creation of a group of people so used to being saved that they cease to become self sufficient. When you start to demand help to extricate yourself from a three foot pile of snow, you no longer should be described as a human. These are the sort of people I ran into while out searching for the cause of these zombies, and their nasal, mindless whimpering left me no other choice but to dig them out, despite my better judgement.
A further note, swords do not make for accurate or safe tools for the extrication of cowards from minor snow drifts. On more than one occasion, my makeshift shovel would extricate arm from body instead of coward from snow. This made the situation bearable.
Eventually I gave up on the weaklings and left them to freeze. Other heroes would be along eventually, assuming they managed to avoid getting their capes dragged into a nearby cyclone, and I had undead to hunt and paramilitaries to slay.
The undead were surprisingly numerous, and easy enough to dispatch. I’m still not entirely sure they weren’t just normal men painted blue, but their actual nature is largely irrelevant, they can be killed. The paramilitaries, however, were disappointing. They were largely camped out around a downed passenger jet as if it were some massive monument to their terrorist skills. Downed airliners are small-time, reserved for guerilla organisations and lone operators; a heavily funded group determined to overthrow the government should really be playing in a different league. It didn’t help that their visible troops were so dire as to be worse than cannon fodder. One of the officers even surrendered to me. Dreadful.
They did eventually redeem themselves, however, and for that I am somewhat happy. It transpired that they were responsible for the storm, roping in some barmy toff with no understanding of the workings of a nail file, to recite some incantations and release a demon chained beneath the earth. While we are on the subject, by the way, beneath the earth is not one of the better places to chain a demon.
I do enjoy killing demons, however. And wizards. There’s something very primal about running your blade through the heart of someone whose entire combat prowess is fuelled by their own arrogance rather than any form of skill. To see the conviction drain from their eyes in the final moments, to see them realise that their entire existence has been a lie. Oh, it’s delectable.
Unfortunately, I turned up to late to slay the demon and had to make do with the wizard. He was quick, but dim, and I took him down with a minimal of fuss. His tongue was sharper than any of his spells. With his death, the storm finally abated, and I was presented with a serene snow scape upon my victory.
It was relaxing, until another simpering Canadian strolled up and begged me for help.