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Apr. 18th, 2014


Previous installments here:
1           6
2           7
3           8
4           9
5


Primeval/Malory Towers


The glass nearly slipped out of her hand, and it snapped Darrell back to concentrate on what she was doing. She finished the final mouthful of whiskey before refilling her glass and taking another drink. Pulling herself to an upright position she swept the files from the table into her bag and threw the bag to the other side of her room. She picked up the piece of paper in front of her, tore it in half, screwed it up and sent it to join her bag.


She fell back onto the sofa, wincing when the back of her head hit the cushion and cursing when her pager immediately started beeping. Force of habit moved her hand to unclip it and she frowned at the message before sending the pager across the room to join the other items.

She counted in her head and as she got to zero, the phone rang. Despite telling herself she was going to ignore it, she stumbled to her feet and lifted the handset.

“Alicia, what is it?”. There was silence on the other end as Alicia no doubt analysed every nuance of her voice,

“You're drunk”

“So?”

“You don't get drunk”

“What do you want?”. The dial tone rung in her ear and Darrell dropped the phone back onto the receiver. She squinted at the clock then headed towards the front door, it would be better to wait on the front steps.



*



“Waiting for me?”, Alicia's voice broke her attempts to stop the world swaying around her, and Darrell winced when her vision recoiled.

“Thought I might as well”, Alicia sat beside her on the step and leant back against the door.

“Where's the ice queen?”, and Darrell dropped her forehead to her hands.

“Don't call her that”, she mumbled, turning her head to look at Alicia. Alicia glanced at her, so infuriatingly casual, just like she always was. The silence continued until Darrell conceded,

“At another meeting, she'll be back soon”.

“Do you always get drunk when she's out for the evening?”, and something about the way Alicia spoke made tears prick at Darrell's eyes, tears she quickly scrubbed away. The gentle pat of Alicia's hand on her shoulder told her she hadn't been quick enough.

“I overdid it this time”, Darrell folded her arms around her bent knees, “My boss gave me a written disciplinary – not meeting deadlines, struggling to concentrate in the office...” Alicia sat forward and put her hand back on Darrell's shoulder.

“From their point of view I deserve it”, Darrell continued, “Since...since that creature...I haven't been able to...I can't...”. She shook her head and exhaled, not sure what words she wanted to use, took a breath and tried again.

“This...it's dangerous, what we're doing”, she mumbled.

“I know, but it's okay Darrell...”

“It's not. I...I could have died”, she made no effort to hide her tears now, “That...it would have killed me...it could have killed you”.

“But we didn't, you can't think about what could have happened. We got there in time”

“And next time?”

“Well, it would be incredibly bad luck for you to stumble onto a third anomaly.”

“And what about you?”

“Well I've still only stumbled onto one so my odds are looking good”

“For fucks sake Alicia!”, and Alicia recoiled from her, “Would you just stop! Just stop already.” Her entire body was cold and she couldn't stop herself from shaking. After a moment, arms wrapped around her and she closed her eyes, leaning into the hold.

“Hey...it's...”, Alicia stopped talking for a moment, “I'm sorry okay...” Darrell nodded, and after a few minutes of silence she pulled away from Alicia.

“I'll sort out your work okay? Leave it with me, they're not going to fire you”, Alicia lifted her hand, paused for a second and then gently took hold of Darrell's, “I promise”. The smile that crept to the corners of Darrell's lips was involuntary, but she nodded again and squeezed Alicia's hand,

“What do you want anyway? You always want something”, Darrell said, using her palm to get rid of the last of the tears, “I'm not used to this caring, sharing Alicia.” Alicia chuckled and dug her hand into her pocket,

“This is for you, and this is another reason why they won't fire you”, Darrell accepted the photograph and held it out to catch some light on it. She frowned and pulled the picture closer then stared at Alicia,

“Is this...”

“..a mammoth on the M26”, Alicia's eyes were dancing with glee and Darrell felt the contagious effects of Alicia's grin.

“So...escaped elephant story I guess...”, Darrell pocketed the photograph herself and turned back to Alicia.

“Yeah, really angry, alpha male, bull elephant...”, Alicia handed her another piece of paper, “Vague details of where it's gone...have fun with the rest”, and then Alicia was getting to her feet, and it felt much colder.

“Call me tomorrow before you run the story okay?”, Alicia said, as she shoved her hands deep in pockets. After a moment of hesitation, she turned and walked back to her car. Darrell waved half-heartedly and struggled to her feet, grateful that the night air had at least sobered her up for Sally's return.

She took another look at the photograph and sighed before shutting the front door behind her.

Video Games #21


Dance Central: Not mine but I counted it in my list because hey it's kicking around the house and doesn't get played much. This got a lot of attention when it came out - got a lot of very high ratings as well. Well deserved ones it turns out. I can't think of another game that I've played so far on the Kinect that has tracking accuracy like this one. The songs - admittedly - aren't really my sort of music but they're varied enough to keep it interesting. The break it down section is very well paced - allowing for you to slow down harder moves and rehearse them until you get it and performing it, well that pretty much depends on how well you did in practice. It's a lot of fun and seriously gets your heart rate up if you're enthusiastic enough in your moves.

Ride to Hell Retribution: Aaw hell, sometimes I think I just have have a soft spot for games that received goddawful ratings. RtHR definitely falls into the category and then some. It's got poor graphics and jeez the jaw movement on the characters when they talk is nigh-on off putting. The 'blood spatter' is terrible and the main character brandishes a lighter bigger than his fist. The game jumps from scene to scene: you're on a bike, now you're in a fist fight, back on a bike and unless that changes later on in the game it seems like a seriously linear game. Which is disappointing because when Ride to Hell was first announced (in a different format) it had a lot of potential - wide open American highways and biker gangs? Basically talking Sons of Anarchy in video game form? It had a lot of potential and you can see where RtHR could have been onto a winner. Instead...
That said, there is some fun in it. Maybe I have low standards, or maybe like I said I have a soft spot for bad games. Either way I found it entertaining. Yes it's B-movie standards when my character rolls into town, I beat the hell out of an abusive boyfriend and then get dragged back for some happy time with the scantily clad lady in question but it is B-Movie sortsa entertaining as well. I will probably complete this.

Steam Games played: 109/217
XBox 360 Games played: 321/403

Video Games #20


Fighters Uncaged: Another £0.99 find in a Cash Converter/Generator - and I did remember this getting a lot of complaints about poor recognition and response from Kinect. But I figured, hey for 99p, even if it's awful I can use it for a frisbee - so.... Well...I completed the Tutorials on the actual moves and the Kinect picked up all but 1 of the moves once I'd worked out what it was asking me to do. Bizarrely enough, the one 'move' it couldn't pick up was activating special moves by shouting... Then I moved on to the 4 training battles with the coach, and yeah the Kinect loses some of its effectiveness and accuracy when you're in an actual fight. It can be slow detecting moves and then detect only the tail end of your movement - so carries out an attack you didn't want to do. However, I didn't find it anywhere near as bad as a lot of reviews were saying. I'll probably cycle it in the way I do with the Kinect games I own.

Side note: It's quick knackering.

Resonance of Fate: An RPG my dad bought me two Christmases back that I am ashamed to say got forgotten about. I'm not really sure what on Earth's going on - one of the characters tried to save a girl jumping off a bridge and then they flew off the edge of the city and started plummeting down towards another city. Fast-forward a year and the character is sat on a sofa but no sign of the girl. I'm sure it will be delightfully convoluted as most RPGs are. Graphic design is FFVIII mixed with Steam Punk, fighting style is less turn based (although your three characters do take turns) and more action based. Also heavy on the guns and grenades. The fighting is an enjoyable change from the norm and even after playing it for a short time became much easier to control. So far completed a handful of missions and rebuilt a wee bit of the world map (that's a whole other thing - you collect energy cores off of enemies and use them to rebuild the world map so you can get to other places). So far, so good, I'm liking it.

Steam Games played: 109/217
XBox 360 Games played: 319/403

Video Games #19


Dead Space 2: Sometime about 2 years back I finally mustered up the courage to complete Dead Space, amid much whimpering and only playing when other people were in the room I got to the end of the game. Second time around, Isaac has gone mad (can't say I blame him) and I'm not sure whether the things happening in this game are really happening or if he's in a nice padded room with a straight jacket imagining all this. Of course, there's not the same shock value this time around but that doesn't make it any less terrifying. (I have already heard that there is a horrible scene in this game involving a drill and an eyeball...so...there's that to look forward to). Gameplay wise it's as good as the first one, shooting off limbs is very manageable and highly satisfying, and I like the fact that his gait changes depending on how injured he is. I want to complete this, I just don't know if I have the nerves!

Blood Drive: This was £0.99 in a Cash Converter and I hadn't seen it before - I can kind of understand why after playing it. You drive around in a big car squashing zombies and trying to win in some ridiculous competition set in a zombie infected world. There doesn't seem to be any type of customisation or levelling up or, any real substance to be honest. Honestly, I'm not a fan of racing games so it was never going to rank highly but for multiplayer or quick-fire fun it's not too bad.

Medal of Honor: There isn't much to separate this from other FPS for me (although I'm sure players of Call of Duty or Battlefield will be outraged by such a comment), you get given an objective, you follow your team-mates, you shoot the bag guys and complete the objective. The weaponry in this game is fun and varied so that's always a bonus and the AIs are pretty much as awful as they always are in FPSers. Another game that isn't going to light the world on fire but is fun enough to play.

Steam Games played: 109/217
XBox 360 Games played: 317/403

Apr. 13th, 2014


Previous installments here:
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Primeval/Malory Towers


Abby refused to let her drive.

Alicia had to admit that this was a good thing, even if at the time she had used some choice language to argue with the blonde woman. So she sat in the passenger's seat: legs bouncing, fingers alternating between tapping, checking the pistol Cutter had handed her and looking at her pager.

She wanted to scream, swear, shoot something or something else that didn't begin with s; anything but sit here. This was all her fault. She had dragged Darrell into this and now, and now...

“We're about five minutes out”, Abby said, “She'll be fine”. The second, quieter statement threw Alicia. She swallowed heavily and kept her eyes facing forward.

“You don't know that”

“Just because it's there doesn't mean anything has come out of it”.

“Yeah but when have we ever got so lucky”, Connor clamped his hands over his mouth and stared wide-eyed at Alicia, shaking his head as Abby aimed a backwards swipe at him.

Connor was right. They didn't get that lucky.

The last few minutes of the drive were in aching silence, swinging around to the front of the disused estate.

“That's hers”, Alicia said, pointing at the black Citreon parked near the entrance. She unbuckled her belt before Abby stopped the car. She was out of the door by the time Stephen pulled in behind them and was advancing on the front gate.

“Alicia, stop”, Cutter's voice halted her and she turned, tried to stop her hands shaking at her side. The rest of the team caught up with her. Stephen pushed her behind him with one hand and stepped inside the estate with assault rifle drawn. Alicia flushed bright red and lifted her own gun to a semi-prepared position. It was much heavier than she remembered in training, it seemed bigger too, but Cutter had assured her it was her original weapon.

An unearthly screech send a chill through her.

“Definitely a creature”, Cutter murmured, as they headed towards the sound. Alicia kept pace with Abby, looked around her for any sign of life, for any sign of...

“It's pretty big”, Stephen said, and he pointed at a set of prints in the mud.

“And angry..”, Connor's voice trailed off as he pointed at the remains of one of the small buildings, a wall on one side almost completely destroyed. Alicia just stared at it until Abby tugged on her elbow to follow Stephen.

They saw the creature before it roared again.

“Arcovenator...”, Connor offered out of habit and Stephen raised the assault rifle,

“You get one shot Abby”, his voice was low and Abby stepped forward with a nod, tranquilliser gun clasped in both hands,

“We don't want to kill it”, Cutter said, but Stephen just pointed at the tracks in the mud. Alicia raised her own weapon, footprints led straight to the storage unit that the dinosaur was attacking.

“Yeah well, we don't always get what we want”, she started towards the creature, prompting Abby into action. The tranquilliser gun was a lot louder than Alicia had expected it to be, the crack beside her ear left her stumbling away from the group – trying to shake the ringing out of her head.

“I hit it...”, Abby's triumph dissolved, and as Alicia regained her bearings she saw Abby reload and fire another tranquilliser into the dinosaur that was now aware of their presence.

“Back off!”, Stephen shouldered his rifle as he spoke and Alicia ran back towards the group.

This wasn't like training. Her first shot went wide – ricocheting off the unit door which she hoped Darrell was behind. Her breathing was ragged and she seemed to have no control over her limbs. She scrambled back a few more steps, slipped to one knee in the mud and Stephen dragged her back to her feet.

“Take a breath”, he ordered, raising his rifle again.

Breathing through the rising feeling of sickness in her stomach, she did as he said and tried again. This bullet hit the creature's huge torso but seemed to have no impact, Stephen fired bursts alongside her and they were at least slowing the beast down.

The creature began to pick up speed, and Alicia's legs went rigid for a few seconds. She just had time to follow Stephen's lead and take a dive sideways into the mud – the ground shaking as the Arcovenator stampeded past.

“Guys! The anomaly is getting weaker”, Connor called from his position front down in the mud, detector gripped in his hand.

“Go check on Darrell”, Stephen called, pushing Alicia towards the unit, “Cutter! Want to wave a red rag to a bull?”

“Aye, why not, he can't get much more pissed off”, Cutter called back, and took off towards the anomaly, Stephen running parallel to him. Alicia immediately went to follow them, then froze and turned, sprinting back towards the units.

She grabbed the bottom of the unit's roller door and pulled, the door shifted upwards to her chest. She ducked underneath, missing the metal pole swung at her by less than she would have liked.

“It's me!”, she waved her hands at Darrell, who just stared at her, eyes unfocused and this terrifying chaos flickering over them, “It's me...it's me...”, she stepped in closer, grabbing the pole with one hand and pulling it out of her friend's hand, “you're okay”.

Darrell crumpled against her and she just kept murmuring,

“You're okay, it's gone”, she wrapped one arm around Darrell's waist and moved her other hand to the back of Darrell's head, “It's over...”.

Apr. 12th, 2014


Yep, still no name. Previous installments here:
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

Primeval/Malory Towers

Darrell shoved the communication box, or whatever Alicia had called it, back onto her belt and turned to face the anomaly. She didn't remember it looking so mesmerising. Of course there had been more pressing issues during the last anomaly opening she had been around. If she stood still too long, she found herself drawn towards it, so she kept pacing. Alicia had told her that the ARC tried to get to any anomaly in London in under an hour now that Connor had built a functioning detector. She hoped they managed a reduced time today.

The roar echoed out of the anomaly again, the only reason she was staying in this derelict estate. When the anomaly had opened she had heard the screeching bark of something, and her conscience wouldn't let her run off and risk an unsuspecting bystander stumbling into the past.

“Bloody hell”, she muttered, and ran her hands through her hair – no doubt making it more untamed than usual. She needed a hair cut. She shook her head, determined to stop her mind drifting onto irrelevant topics and focus on the anomaly. The anomaly which probably had a creature in it like the one she had seen before.

The throbbing started in her shoulder and when another screech sounded from the anomaly, louder this time, her courage almost left her.

A weapon. That would be a good start. She took a short run to one of the piles of debris that decorated either side of the road and began kicking it aside. After a few seconds of rummaging, she grabbed a metal pole and tested the weight of it – too light. She tossed it aside, the clang making her jump. A second and third pole were also too light and the screech had sounded once more in her search. The fourth pole she scrambled out, hands and shoes now covered in dirt, was a little too heavy but she made her choice and turned back towards the anomaly.

Part of her had been hoping that it would have disappeared.


She returned to her pacing, swinging the pole a few times to get rid of some nervous energy. Twice she saw a flicker of something come out of the anomaly, each time sent her back a few paces and made her check her watch. It was half an hour since she had sent that message to Alicia. Panic started to creep in, what if Alicia had never got the message? She dismissed that thought, after all Alicia's message from earlier had come through just fine.

“Yes but do you think Alicia actually wears her little communication thing? Just because she asks you to wear one and you do without so much as a squeak...”, she said to herself and returned her eyes to the anomaly.

She leapt back as she saw the head emerge through the anomaly.

“Oh hell”, it was bigger than the thing that had attacked her before. She crept to the nearest building as the creature shifted it's bulky head through the anomaly, followed by upper torso. She fixated on how short it's arms were for a moment, a distraction that passed when it's full length became obvious.

It was bigger than a car, and the length of metal in her hand was going to be of little use if she had to confront it. Still, she wasn't ready to just put it down.

“Please hurry up”, she mouthed to herself, as if doing so would make it happen quicker. The creature shifted it's head and weight backwards and forwards, sniffed and snapped at things on the ground. It was getting much too close to where Darrell was standing. She took a few move tentative steps backwards, towards the nearest door; let out a silent curse when it didn't open.

The dinosaur had stopped moving around as much, but it was sniffing intently and Darrell had a good idea of what it had detected. Her cautious steps took her around the corner of the house to a second door, which opened on the first try for her to get inside.

She didn't hear the footsteps that had started as soon as she had unclicked the latch.

As she shut the door, this force smashed back and the dinosaur charged her off her feet along with the door. Pain seared from the back of her head all the way through her spine. Her vision blurred and spun, her only view the painted wood of the door that lay atop of her.

She blinked.

Twice.

Tried to get some kind of clarity back to her vision. She wished she hadn't when she saw the talons click past her.

She shook her head to clear it, but instead her vision spun and a feeling of sickness plunge into her stomach.

Click. Click. It was still walking past her, she had to...

She scrambled out from under the door, grabbing the metal pole from where it had fallen. A sharp-tooth head shot around to face her and she swung as hard as she could. Metal connected with cold flesh in a satisfying crunch and, as the creature veered sideways, she took off running back out the door.

The ground in front of her wobbled and waved, as she staggered towards nothing in particular. A screech that sounded far angrier than the previous ones reverberated between the storage units, sending a flood of adrenaline through her. She aimed her uncoordinated body towards a partially open storage unit, falling to her front and dragging herself underneath the door and rolling to the back of the unit.

It didn't take long for the creature to find her, she had barely regained her breath when it smashed a dent in the door and noise crashed around the room. Head ringing, she pushed herself back against the wall, both hands clasping the metal pipe.

She wished she had some pen and paper. She wanted to write something for Sally. God, more than anything she wanted to see her...

Darrell buried her head in her arms for a second before getting to her feet and lifting the metal pipe.

Apr. 11th, 2014


Previous installments here:
1
2
3
4
5
6

Primeval/Malory Towers

“I'm fine, just stop fussing and go help someone else”, Alicia growled as she grabbed the ice pack from Abby's hand and slammed it back in place herself. A jolt went through her and she couldn't say if it was a result of the cold or the hurt look she got from her blonde friend.

Still, she reasoned, There are more important things to be doing than simpering over my little bump. She immediately reassessed that when she tried to reach for the ringing phone and couldn't lift her right arm. Dropping the ice pack, she used her other hand, and bounced her leg to knock the ice pack onto the floor before it left her with an entirely unflattering wet patch.

“Alicia Johns speaking”

“I hate this thing you've given me”, and a broad grin spread across Alicia's face as she pulled her chair in closer to the desk.

“Well it means I don't have to come to the house or ring you, so it must be keeping Sally happy, if she even smiles at all any more...”

“What do you want Alicia?”, and well-adept at pushing the boundaries she might be, Alicia recognised the tones that told her to back off,

“Just to tell you that the meeting tonight won't be happening, we had an incident at the centre and we need to sort things out here before we do anything else”. There was a beat of silence,

“Are you okay?”, and that jolt was back in her stomach.

“Of course, you know me, it's more the mainframe and Connor's equipment than any person. Just wanted to let you know”, the lie flowed so easily off her tongue.

“And you couldn't have sent this message through this annoying little box you've given me?”

“Maybe I wanted to hear your voice”, Alicia grinned and was not surprised to receive a weary goodbye and a dial tone. The grin slipped from her face and she tightened her grip on the phone before putting it down, realising her final words were more than just a test of Darrell's patience.

With some difficulty she retrieved the ice pack and reapplied it, struggling to her feet. The walk to Connor's station took twice as long and when she crumpled into the seat beside him it took all her strength not to whimper.

“How is it looking Conn?”, she asked, and the lanky young man just stared back at her with exhausted eyes,

“I don't even know...there's just...”, he threw his hands up and slumped back into his chair, “It ain't looking good mate”, he turned his head to look at her again, “Tell me you've got somethin' good”

“I do not come bearing good news I'm afraid.”, she let her head fall back against the tall back of the computer chair and took a couple of deep breaths, “By the way, no meeting tonight...obviously. I just rung Darrell and told her”. Even glancing from place-to-place around the half destroyed room, she caught the smile that tugged on the corners of Connor's lips and looked back at him.

“What are you smiling about? Are you that happy we cancelled the meeting”

“Oh yeah, cos we're nearly squashed by a herd of Styracosaurus and your first thought is to cancel the meeting...and not to do with a certain journalist”

“Shut the hell up Connor”, her voice came out sharper than she had expected and Connor held up his hands and spun round to his computer, mumbling apologies. Alicia struggled to her feet and headed back to her own work station. Slamming the door behind her, she leant against it and slid to the floor.

“Oh for God's sake”, she sighed as her vision started to blur and wobble. She allowed herself a few seconds before getting back to her feet, throwing the icepack aside and getting to work putting her own computer back together.


*


“Go home”, Cutter shouted from the door, “It'll still be like it tomorrow”, and Alicia didn't need a second telling. It had taken two hours to get her computer back into a working condition – digging cables out of storage and trying to source another monitor. She was confident that Stephen would never notice that his monitor had changed models.

Dragging her holdall behind her and trying to muster the strength to lift it onto her shoulder, she groaned at the beeping from her belt.

“I bet it's bloody Lester”, she muttered, coming alongside Abby and Connor as she unclipped it. Then she felt a coldness run right through her,

“What is it?”, Abby peered over her shoulder. Alicia just reread the message,

'ANOMALY – GREENWICH IND. EST. HELP'

Sender: Darrell Rivers

Video Games #18


I haven't actually played many games recently owing to busy times at work and a lot of sorting around the house, my PC is also in a box for the foreseeable future as I have neither a desk nor room to put it.

I did complete a run-through of Dust: An Elysian Tail, got all but 2 achievements, and promptly started a new game on Tough to get those final two achievements. It is a fantastic game, I really hope the studio that made it have have another (not necessarily a sequel) title in the pipeline.

Apart from that:

Lego Marvel Super Heroes: I love playing the Lego games, as far as co-op games go they are by far and wide my favourite and I have bought and played to the end of every Lego game that has been released on the 360 up to Marvel. Okay not much changes each time around but there's just endless joy involved in running around as little Lego versions of your favourite characters. On top of that the worlds have become bigger in recent outings and there are more puzzles, abilities and other side-bits to complete. Still finding the talking a bit odd but I can live with that.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City: Okay so this is basically Resident Evil world meets Gears of War gameplay. Which is fine, I have Revelations lined up to play for more traditional Resident Evil-ness, so the complete lack of expected gameplay style is not an issue. Plays well - zombies suck up a far amount of bullets unless you get the headshot so you really need to keep your AI team alive as much as possible, and as far as AIs go, they're pretty workable. Nice array of weaponry to fit any style, unlockable perks as you gain XP and familiar settings from the previous games to tramp through. There are some decent little touches as well, like the fact that if you are hit/shot there is a % chance of bleeding - and this calls all the zombies in the immediate area to you. This opens up tactical approaches like trying to get an enemy to bleed so you can attract zombies to the centre of their unit and cause chaos. So far, so good.

Steam Games played: 109/217
XBox 360 Games played: 314/402

Apr. 8th, 2014


My handheld scanner arrived.

I'm going to go scan things!

I am so happy!

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