Manifold Mischief

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

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sugar Shack 35: Exile Contact Missions: Thallia: Harsh Yet Fun

Sugar Shack 35: Exile Contact Missions: Thallia: Harsh Yet Fun

Thallia impressed me. I first came across her awesome top-floor Magog lair (348, 27, -344) purely by accident one day when I was looking for a mission site, but I lingered to marvel. I couldn’t help it: the lovely bookshelves, the capacious couches, the thick carpeting, the glass end-tables, the towering bamboo, the kitchen, the bedroom…this was a place fit to be a clan’s HQ. Or my home away from home. Back in beta, there was even a splendid fireplace! There are even some hangers-on, in various moods. Presiding over this is the lovely, wicked Thallia, standing in the middle of the living room, a perpetual stern look on her face. She favors a silvery catsuit (the kind no player would want to be seen in) with bulky thick gloves and a dark beret. The appearance is distinctive without being distinguished.

Compared to many Exiles, Thallia is cruel. But she is also subtle, as we will see. Her missions are definitely worth your time, for the insight they give into the crime world and the things they do to each other. Be sure to laugh at her jokes, few though they are; the last thing you want is to fall onto her dark side, which is deep. Her missions generally involve much violence, be sure to bring friends to make the work go faster. As Mr. Po would say, “Many hands make light work”.

1. Calculated Risk

The classic milk-run first mission! Pick up and drop off a package. She speaks with authority and formality: “There should be no complication, but should they arise you will be required to deal with them. Do we have an understanding?”. She was not opening to me at all yet. The initial pick-up is smooth (though Thallia nonetheless intervenes to tell you “Try not to waste any time”); but things become complicated at the drop-off, where your contact lies dead! After you have killed everyone there, Thallia seems positively smug: “Good. I suspected Mercury was moving against me, but this confirms it. Don’t worry about the package, it was only bait. You’ve proven to be very dependable.” I think that’s good news.

2. Applying Pressure

“Ahh, Sugaree, your timing isn’t awful.” With this cryptic greeting, the Mercury arc continues. In order to provoke him to an impetuous early implementation of his plans, she tasks you with attacking two of his labs and wiping out their staff and data. Well, not completely out; she wants you to leave a single survivor at each location, so the word gets back to Mercury. Like a calling card.
This is a straightforward kick-down-the-doors, shoot-up-the-targets mission. But you must be careful not to kill _every_one. Several times when doing this with clanmates, my partners got carried away and forgot this. I had the pleasure of telling Thallia we had screwed up. It was not a happy time. Thallia’s aggressive manipulation delighted me. Before I had left the building, I heard from her: “Perfect. Mercury has already contacted me with threats of retaliation….Sometimes, this is just too easy.”

3. Boiling Point

When Mercury’s forces attack Thallia’s, you move in from behind for a surprise counterattack. “Kill them all. Spare no one,” advises my Operator. Don’t have to say that twice! You slay at two sites, score a data CD which Mercury’s men have been after, and then drop it off. Thallia is clearly impressed. “You’re more useful than you look, Sugaree. I might have some…sensitive work for you in the future.” Along the way we hear this memorable line from Thallia: “Mercury couldn’t scheme his way out of a wet paper bag”. Wow, that was harsh. I’m sure she doesn’t talk that way about me when I’m not around….

4. An Offer They Can’t Refuse

“Sugaree, you haven’t managed to get yourself killed…yet”. That’s Thallia’s way of saying she is delirious to see me. This time, three informants need persuading. The first one is a former employee of Beryl. After I get into her super-locked room with a spare key, she reveals that Beryl has a nasty habit, with one of Argon’s men being her main contact. Hmm... Girl Scout thin mints?

The second one comes off as a tough cookie, to be sure. He swears not to cooperate, and then orders his Sears Rent-A-RSI simulacrum to attack me while he watches and sneers. After I trash it, he changes his tune. We discover that Raini is aware of Beryl’s narcotics habit, and wants the same thing. This only confirmed my low opinion of Raini, who devoted an entire mission to getting drugs.

Alas, the third one dies before you can reach him; someone has taken an interest in Thallia’s interest. This curiosity is not pursued.

5. Digging Deeper

Thallia is endlessly inquisitive, and finally tasks you with capturing an informant to find out more about Beryl and Raini. The target has surrounded herself with lupine mercenaries, and you must fight your way past them to get her, collect any disks she has, and deliver them all. Well, this sounded simple, but I was soon introduced the hard way to an ability called “backfist”. This dished out 4555 (1811 absorbed) damage to me! In one shot! Yow! I don’t know who has this, but I want it!

So, anyway, I finally escorted the reluctant informant past several dozen Blackwoods, who all seemed to be in a good mood, ‘cuz none of them felt like attacking us. What a miracle! As I left the drop-off, I could hear the woman wailing behind me, “Are you just going to leave me here with him? You can’t do that!” Counting my hard-earned cash, I thought, I sure can, honey. Thallia’s last call to me was sheer delight: she cooed, “Oh, this is priceless. Beryl and Raini won’t know what hit them. You performed admirably, Sugaree, I will certainly require your services in the future.” That’s what they all say!

So, what’s memorable about Thallia, you say? First, she has the best lair I have ever seen. It’s worth going there just to hang around and show it off to your clanmates. Besides this, she has strong motivation, and you really feel like you’re working with a personality, not a pudding of spun subroutines (like Raini, for example). I enjoyed exploring the interplay between her and Mercury, Beryl, and Raini. And she is creative in her cruelty. Working with her was far more satisfying than with many, many of the other Exiles.

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