Manifold Mischief

Mission reviews, essays, and documents of record regarding The Matrix Online. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sugar Shack 31: Exile Contact Missions: Mr. Po and The Inner Light

Sugar Shack 31: Exile Contact Missions: Mr. Po and The Inner Light

Our sage stands on a quiet street corner in Kowloon (226, -4, 424), in dark robes, like Kwang Kai-chang from Kung Fu, baldheaded and bare-footed. His missions are some of the most absorbing I have ever run, due to the wisdom he dispenses, and the stories they tell. Most of the Exiles live their coded lives impervious to the life and deaths of the redpill population. That is, they fight us or they ignore us. Few do business with us or understand us, as Mr. Po does. He understands the cravings of the human heart as few do. This is indeed a classic suite of missions which absolutely no one should miss.

1. Shadow Play

“An inquisitive mouse finds many morsels the further afield he looks. I am an old and hungry mouse. Go to these addresses and search their computers for tasty bits.”

So starts this most exceptional mission. It has three parts, each building on the one preceding, which open your eyes to many a heart lost in the Matrix. Do them soon!

Part 1. You casually peruse three computers in an Exiles service agency. You discover a distraught redpill in tears as he tries to decide whether or not to return to his old life to visit the woman he left behind. Go, I told him, she would want you to. I glanced at the computer screen and saw her on a bed with a scrapbook of news stories about a missing man and the police search for him. As I stood there, feeling for her and for him, the Exile, a superb salesman, sidled up to me and said in a soft voice “Are you sure there isn’t someone you’d like to see? Mother? Father? A child perhaps? A lost lover?” I thought of my parents and family, and how I had left them with no warning. What had I been thinking, to do this to them? He asked me again, and I quickly left. No, actually I fled.

The next two computers there had more information about this. But nothing dramatic. Mr. Po’s take on this surprised me: “Nothing so lightens the heart as when a fool awakens from his folly. Still, more must be revealed. Continue your search”. Oddly enough, continuing my search took me right back to Mr. Po’s building.

Part 2. There I found a Machines office where they have been monitoring these services, apparently trying to run sweeps for indications of regret in the population. This leads my sponsor to intone “That which is hidden can never know the light. That which lives in the light will never know peace. The search continues.” Yes, Master.

Part 3. I met a kindred spirit. In an abandoned redpill extraction center, Captain Wasat and an aide maintain a lonely vigil. Reading his journals shows the bitterness he feels about his daughter, left unrecruited in the pods. Another computer shows records of multiple remittances from him to the Exile agency in Part 1. I tried hacking his computer to actually get the files (brashly, while he was standing next to me) and though I succeeded, he did nothing and I found nothing. I could tell he did not care what anyone did. I left him as I found him, waiting for some unknown release.

I felt shaken by all this, and left Kowloon to seek the reassurance of my clan. As I stood at the hardline, I heard Mr. Po intone “Wisdom lights the path and Strength walks it”. Perhaps this means the Cypherites know of these services…or run them…

2. Incubation

We plunge from the sublime in Mish 1 to the profane in Mish 2, an insufferable escort mish which took multiple tries to get right. I started to worry as soon as I heard Mr. Po’s suggestive directions: “One rabbit alone is a meal for an observant hawk. Many rabbits keep the hawk sated and still there are more rabbits. Retrieve the rabbit at this address”. I felt my ears growing.

As soon as you contact the bluepill in question, you are attacked. As soon as you leave the elevator, you are attacked. As soon as you leave the building, you are attacked. As you pass within a lightyear of any mob on the way to the destination, you are attacked. A single stray shot or ricochet or harsh word instantly kills the bluepill, and you get to start over. Any questions?

I tried leaving the bluepill in the elevator while I cleaned out the lobby. Then leaving her in the lobby while I cleared the way to the destination. By the time I had reached the destination and killed the mobs, the ones back at the starting point had regenerated. I tried tucking her in buildings along the way while I re-cleaned the route, and mobs inside the building killed her. Finally I gave up in disgust, and asked some friends to help me. This worked beautifully, and soon I was reading Mr. Po’s words, “The path to enlightenment begins with a single step. The purpose of the rabbit will become clear to you in time.” And perhaps his observation about a multitude of rabbits was a hint about the right way to approach this perverse mission.

3. Isolation

“A lone bird in a nest of vipers is surely dead. A broken nest offers an opportunity for escape.”

So begins this very well-constructed and very ingenious story. It starts out simple: rescue a redpill and return him to Zion. But when you do, they try to kill him! It turns out that there’s some “misunderstanding” and one Zionist captain holds this guy responsible for the death of his wife. So, his bridges burned with Zion, he decides to join Mr. Po’s organization, and you drop him off with some of Mr. Po’s operatives. They are not surprised at all. Somehow, they observe, things always seem to work out just right for Mr. Po and his plans. I was pondering this as Mr. Po paid us all off and observed, “opportunity is made, not found”. What wise words they are.

4. Leaders of Men

“As a diseased finger must be struck off, so must a toxin be rid from the body.”

After the intricacies of the earlier missions, now Mr. Po eases up. A traitor must be brewkoed, and that’s it. The first location is empty, but the second one yields the principal. The traitor is disgruntled because Mr. Po keeps him on such a tight leash; he cannot stray more than a short distance from a hardware tether. It was hard to blame him, but I fulfilled my mission nonetheless. After all, as Mr. Po reminds me at the end, “pain is a part of life”. Mr. Po, it seems, moonlights as a CSR….

5. New Dawn Fades

“A lamb has gone astray and a good shepherd knows to bring it back to the flock”

A Zionist operative wants to switch, and we must assist him. First I helped him get to a hardline (a vastly easier escort mish that #2, by the way). Then we help him in the Desert of the Real. This involved “that which all men fear”, which turned out not to be, umm, what I thought it would be. I purloined a virus (neat test tube graphic), uploaded it to incapacitate the defector’s old hovercraft crew, watched them fall like leaves, and left. Note: do not engage the Zionists; just go straight to the computer and upload the virus. This permitted another hovercraft to dock with them and take aboard the defector. Who knows what else they might have felt like doing? Operetta has been involved in this in some capacity; she seems to be at odds with Mr. Po.

At the end of this fascinating mission, Mr. Po nods at you and says with quiet strength, “Just so. We are whole”. And that is the end. How ironic that at this instant my connection with him broke, and forever after when I asked him for a mish, he blandly said he had no more work for me.

These missions have great emotional resonance, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I love their backstories. They reminded me of being human, and of the life I had left behind when I took the red pill (accidentally in my case). I absolutely recommend them. But bring lots and lots of friends for the second one.

Special thanks go to Warboy from the MegaCity Police Department, and Sattakan, Brightangel, Calliente, and Roukan from The Collective for helping me with these. I doubt that I would ever have finished the second mission without them. And I enjoyed all of them much more with such great company. Mad props to them all!

This mission review may be found at manifoldmischief.blogspot.com, along with previous reviews and other writings relevant to MxO.