While MJ got an advance tour of the issue, I purposefully remained ignorant of it so that I could experience it for the first time on the live servers. The whole affair begins with Who Horrifies the Horrors? in the Besieged Farmlands in Transylvania. The one-eyed Carmen told me that something's agitating the local werewolves, and when the scary beasties that you know are terrified, then it's probably not good all around.
It turns out that the werewolves aren't being agitated; they're being hunted, ripped apart, and slaughtered. The alive ones practically trample over me trying to escape the area, but I'm not going to give them a free pass just because they're scared. A little cleanup with my trusty shotgun and those mongrels won't need to worry about fear any more.
A happy ending? Not so much, as the Horror changes back into its original form: a little boy. A dead, burned little boy. Um, question for the developers? Did you guys just have me help kill a kid? Because from where I'm sitting, it looks like that.
It's an absolutely shocking way to begin this story arc, and my emotions mirror the Vampire Hunter, who verbally lashes out at me for the innocent casualties of this Secret War. Nearby, an Orochi corpse gives me an idea who might be behind all of this.
I search around and find an Orochi van with even more Orochi corpses. I think that the group probably just steals bodies from the morgue, dresses them up, and flings them across the world to save on expenses. A dossier in the van talks about experiments on a werewolf (sans anesthesia) and marvels over the creature's regeneration capabilities.
It turns out that this van is just one of many temporary outposts in the region. The Shadowy Forest is full of them, and each one is thoughtfully supplied with a gruesome aftermath of experiments and eviscerated Orochi. "JOIN THE OROCHI, SEE THE SECRET WORLD, AND THEN DIE HORRIBLY FROM IT!" their lifeless eyes advertise. One of the sites has a report that mentions kidnapping a Romani teen to bring back to the Virgula Divinia project. Yup. Just one of the creepiest parts of the game coming back to haunt me. Awesome.
Upon reaching the Romani camp, the kids there tell me that two children have gone missing in the woods. Vampires? Ghouls? Werewolves? Or something much worse with a large budget for scientific research? We shall see.
Inside Hatchet Falls is a dead facility with a few surprises left. The first is a mysterious member of the Council of Venice who suggests we team up (she then disappears because Funcom loves me). An electrified door nearby requires a little footwork, leading me into the spookiest generator rooms of all time.
After I get the power online, I search the facility and find myself a nifty EMP gun. Time to short-circuit those annoying laser grids and shields! Have I mentioned how much I hate sabotage missions in this game? Naturally, everything is super-dead here, with signs of a huge firefight having taken place. One prison cell amps up the spook factor, with a doll presiding over a circle of phrases, each saying, "Hello, I walk into the empty." A dead Orochi outside has the word "Empty" scrawled in blood beside her. Later on, a series of computer logs detail the terrifying end to these people, although the writer suggests that it wasn't the two Romani teens who did this but another.
I work my way to the computer center, where the Council agent has an emotional moment concerning the kidnapped kids. Guess she was a mother at some point, although she's not now. A couple of clues send us to the Carpathian Fangs. I couldn't wait to get out of that place soon enough!
In the snowy mountains is Daniel, one of the very few alive and friendly Orochi in the game. He's all for helping Emma, so he gave me some info how to unlock the Nursery. Time to make a fuss so they'll open up the doors and come out to play!
Jumping on the conveniently located snowmobile, I take off on a breakneck race through the mountains. For the game's first mount, temporary or not, it's an absolute blast. I was throwing out mines and launching rockets against Orochi enemies while trying to beat the clock on the course.
My escapades took me to the top of a dam, where the Orochi closed in. Was all lost? Nay -- the mysterious Council lady showed up in the nick of time, handed me a parachute, and blew up the bridge. One jaunty jump later, and I was at the door of the Nursery. Did I want to go in? I guess I had precious little choice.
I investigated several rooms devoted to performing specific experiments on the children. The doctors here figured that children have the best chance of surviving infusion with foreign DNA, so there are kids deliberately infected with spores, with the werewolf gene, and even with the Filth.
I don't think there's a chance for the Romani kids, but Emma is nowhere to be found. A secret trap door leads me to the basement where the girl is lying on a table. That's when the double-cross happens: The Council lady knocks me out and ties me up on a table. She gives a little bit of helpful exposition while a laser burns through my legs. Turns out she's actually Lillith, one of the two heads of the Orochi. She's gone rogue and allied herself with the Filth, and she needs Emma to bolster her position. I did not see that coming at all, I have to admit.
I do have a chance to make wrong things right, however. Emma pulls me into her head and shows me a few scenes from her past. One is quite notable: She's the only survivor of a house fire, and when the fireman asks her name, she replies, "Anima." The firefighter mishears her and tells her that Emma is a pretty name. Interesting.
Whatever the case may be, I'm eager to see where the tale takes us next. I have a debt to settle with Lillith, fair and true.
Conspiracies, paranoia, secrets, and chaos -- the breakfast of champions! Feast on a bowlful with MJ and Justin every Monday as they infiltrate The Secret World to bring you the latest word on the streets of Gaia in Chaos Theory. Heard some juicy whispers or have a few leads you want followed? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and they'll jump on the case!