A hideous surreality hung over this Battlefield 1942 server ... like a cloud.
My day was over and it was time to bust out with the tanks and go crazy-go-nuts with Battlefield: 1942. That daily ritual of mine’s been unchanged since the game came out. But something terrifying happened the last time I logged in, and I’ve yet to summon the courage to go back.
It started out innocently enough. I joined a server and picked my team. My timing was perfect, as a new round was just about to begin. I spawned by the airfield and immediately three pilots rushed to the planes and took off -- I was stunned that there weren’t any extra people camping around the plane spawn point.
Instead, as a group, several assault and anti-tank personnel gathered around a pair of our tanks and they rumbled away toward the enemy base. I started to make my way there on foot when a jeep came tearing up beside me, skidding to a halt in the loose desert sand. “Get in!” crackled my team-chat radio. I have to tell you, this was unreal -- never before had I seen this level of cooperation on an Internet server.
We approached the first of the enemy bases and they began shelling us with artillery. A shell exploded right next to our jeep and we skidded off the side of the road and squealed, smoking, up a hillside. Another shell exploded next to our tanks. The driver of the jeep leapt out of the driver’s seat, dove to the ground, and sniped the enemy lookout. A moment later, a medic came up and healed our injuries. This was starting to wig me out.
Our tanks rolled to a halt and started lobbing shells at enemy emplacements. Then our planes came. The first one, a bomber, softened up the enemy base. Bodies went flying. Then the fighter came, streaking out of the sun, howling through the air as it attacked an enemy tank in a steep dive. The moment the enemy tank exploded, our guys jumped out of their prone positions and charged forward. “Go!” our team radio hissed.
At last the base was ours! We rolled in triumphantly as the flag changed color. Everyone took up defensive positions. Engineers rushed around fixing the tanks and jeeps, medics healed the wounded, and planes circled above calling out where attackers were coming from. I stood in the center of this hive of activity and watched everyone working together. It was ... too coordinated. It was too good. It was...
These couldn’t have been people playing on the Internet. They were playing the game right, without a single teamkill, plane-camp, or accidental jeep massacre. No group of random humans could possibly play the game this well. As this realization sunk in, the hairs on the back of my neck and arms stood on end. I watched as someone carefully landed a plane and restocked his bombs while an engineer fixed it. My world was turned upside down. All around me, it was as though the very buildings themselves twisted and loomed menacingly over me. I couldn’t restrain my horror any longer.
“You’re ALIENS!” I typed. “You’re all ALIENS!! You can’t be real!”
Suddenly the swarm of activity stopped altogether. The pilot stepped out of his plane and slowly withdrew his pistol. The engineers pulled out their rifles and turned toward me.
Slowly they formed a ring around me in the center of the base, a slowly closing in-escapable circle of teammates, lumbering in a shuffling gait. Some of them had knives out, but most of them leveled their guns at me.
“Destroy the human,” they typed. “Destroy the human!”
I let out a bloodcurdling scream as they closed toward me, and just as their outstretched arms touched me I flicked off my powerstrip in horror. I’ve been afraid to go back.... you never know. You ... just ... never ... know.
[Daily Victim idea submitted by GameSpy reader and Battlefield fan Paul "pacguy" Cozby. Based on a true story. Well, except for the part about being aliens. But, there had to be SOME rational explaination.]
Come to think of it, their ping was really high. TOO high.
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