Manifold Mischief

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

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sugar Shack 52: Bishop and Stealthy Love

After too many months in the Desert of the Real, I return to surveying the Exile contacts and their missions. They’re a great way to get loot and info and xps, and learn more of the backstory of the Matrix. Today we meet a mover and shaker in Chinatown.

With an entire building bearing his name, you might think that Mr. Bishop would receive you in his office or board room. After all, he is certainly comfortable enough with redpills; why, our clan has hung out in his place since forever! But wealthy and influential though he is, when it comes to missions, he is suddenly cagey, and chooses to meet you outside his building, yet in a public place. It may be that, like HP, he is worried about leaks, and thinks that nothing is better hidden than in plain sight.

Be that as it may, Mr. Bishop has desires best barred from the boardroom. Like many an Exile, he savors the old and the antique, much like the aged who obsessively collect the trivia of their youth. And like many an Exile, he dares not pursue his love directly, and needs you as a go-between. All his missions place you in the role of procurer.

1. The Hunter

His first mish is standard, looking for some debris from his past. In this case, he craves a set of gems held by some Merovingian redpills, and a statue held by some machinists led by an Agent Jones. I averted my gaze from him as I fought; praying he would not recognize me and report me to my clan Council. These were both obtained after some straightforward gunplay. Then the purloined loot was placed into a wall safe. And thus Bishop laid his hands on them without actually laying his hands on anything: the general Exile pattern.

Alas, neither gems nor statue were vieweable, just some generic item avatars. If only we could behold them, perhaps we could feel what the Exiles feel for these things they endlessly pursue.

2. Unravel

Did I displease Bishop last time? Is that why he gave me such a trivial task for my second mish? All he asks me to do is pick up an already-paid-for package and drop it off. The kind of task you’d give you kids to do at school! Perhaps he is testing me….

I traveled to Chukokkula and received the package. As always I chatted with everyone there, and as we all hung out, grooving on the code, an Elite Guard took a long drag on a joint, looked out the window, and shared the following reflection:

“Destiny rules us all, even here in the Matrix. Do you find it strange that I believe in Destiny? Destiny is a system, a pattern of events carried out with precision and absolute certainty. Destiny is nothing but code applied to life, giving the illusion of choice. Here, everything is code, and this everything is ruled by Destiny.”

“Destiny, schmestiny, who’s bankrolling this?” I asked, and set off to find Bach, the recipient. I wondered if I should get an all-brown outfit for these UPS runs. On the other hand, the all-yellow was more appealing, and had the benefit of setting off my hair.

So, anyway, I found that Bach was being held hostage by some twit who wanted to hijack the delivery. Not on my watch! Harsh words were followed by harsh fighting. I was the only one standing when the smoke cleared, and I completed the drop-off to the grateful Bach. Interestingly, there was a door between her and me, which seemed openable by hacking, by killing one of the thugs and retrieving an access card from him, or, ironically, by getting a key from a drawer! I liked the ingenuity!

3. Heirloom

I loved the way this mission began, with Bishop purring “Your reputation grows, Sugaree.” Say it again! Then, “I’d like you to go pick up an associate of mine and bring him to Chotte Brothers Imports Offices. His name is Jellyfish, deliver him unharmed if you don’t mind”. I loved the sly wit. I could tell we were really bonding; I started thinking about a corner office with an Ikea furniture upgrade.

From my operator I learned that “Jellyfish” contained some valuable code in his RSI. Kind of like steganography meets the Matrix, I guess. As I was looking at the non-descript JF, he looked right back and greeted me with: “What’s wrong? You were expecting a bondage king? Not all of us Exiles dress like freaks, you know.” I cleared my throat and hastily looked away, wondering what Raymond Chandler would have said.

Nearby, there was a computer with a message calling someone a bigot; I could imagine who had sent it... Naturally my escort mission was a fab success! Who would have suspected I was with an Exile! My fellow machinists chose to intervene, despite my protestation that I was on the team. Illyria, explain to the agents for me! The drop-off contact, after paying me off, explained that the Machines often intervened, inasmuch as Bishop and Chotte tend to traffic in materials which disrupt the current versions of the Matrix. I thought they and Anome would have a lot in common! And the Auditor downtown, always obsessing about memory leaks and the Matrix, would also have an interest.

4. Play Dead

No discussion of items traffickers would be complete without mentioning Digger and the Collector! I particularly enjoyed the backstory on this one: Digger has found something. The Collector wants it. So does Bishop, whose recipe for universal happiness involves paying Digger to give the Collector a fake.

But before I can get in to see Digger, his handler makes me fight a simulacra…perhaps to make me show I know my way around fakes? An alternate solution exited, involving getting a disk to a machine generating the replicas, but I was unable to figure it out, and uncharacteristically resorted to fighting, my least favorite form of defeating others. Honest!

After dealing in the past with mystic candy, enchanted candlesticks, and packets of numinous gems, I was expecting a lot from this item. A tiara? Shoes? A brooch? A ring, maybe? A Sword of a Hundred Truths? But instead, all I got from Digger was a tape. And a VHS tape at that! Apparently the elite personalities of the Matrix Exile community have a fondness for Days of Our Lives, Max Headroom, or I Dream of Jeannie. Go figure!

Before I had time to digitize it for my crew’s amusement, I had to drop it off. This cut-out had a great backstory. She was an archiving program who had defected from the Machines to protect her daughter, threatened with deletion. This effort was unsuccessful, and she eventually came to Bishop’s employ. She seems to have listened to the tape. She did not get much from the images (Crossfire? The Daily Show? Persephone as a weather reporter? The Merovingian with his own game show?) but said the voice was very familiar. I was dying from suspense, and was mercifully distracted by one of her colleagues, who went off on an absorbing, self-absorbed rant about the maternal program, the world they live in, and how real it is. I politely nodded as I counted my info, and absently waved to them as I left.

Bishop was on a high, I could tell. The pay was good, and he gushed, “with your help, my business grows even stronger”. Say it again, big spender! Say it like you’re Donald Trump!

5. Cold Sweat

An unexpected continuation of Play Dead! Bishop has tinkered with the artifact (perhaps redubbing it like What’s Up, Tiger Lilly? Or overlaying the voice of Orson Welles?) and now wants _this_ artifact taken to the Collector, who has already received the fake. My mission was to break in, take the fake, and replace it with the altered original. Got that? Well, get this: the office with the wall safe is located in Bishop Imports!! Someone else must have thought about the incongruity of this, for when I arrived I discovered the item had been moved. Nonetheless, I tracked it down, laid waste to the defenders, and made the switch.

Logic Problem: If the Collector came back, found all his guardian staff dead, and the artifact still in the safe, not stolen, don’t you think he would be suspicious? Or is it just me?

And that’s it! This suite is worthy for the great backstory, the characters, and their reveries. Bishop is an intriguing character, though most of the intrigue takes place by inference (meaning I made it all up). But you get involved in the networking and schemes of some of the major players in the Matrix, and that can only be a beautiful thing. Let’s hope it comes back to haunt us.