Part 31: Endgame
This is it. No more excuses.
We finish this. Now.
: Hmmm... I did not expect you to find my nest so quickly. Perhaps you were not the ideal test specimens after all...
: What is this place?
: This is the central research facility for Intelligent Defense Systems. It is my playground. A place where I can satisfy my insatiable curiosity. Perhaps you would like to come in and...take a look around?
: Your clones are human beings, not property. You have no right to experiment on them.
: The man in the armored tank speaks of rights! How very tiresome... Whatever you may think of me, I have always been faithful to my curiosity. I am not motivated by greed, or fame, or the interests of society. If my research causes suffering or moral quandaries, I care not. I seek only to learn. In that sense, I am a pure and simple man.
: You have no concept of what it means to be human.
: Pah! Spare me your overworn lectures and tired morality. You have simply been conditioned to accept the values of society. And now you unthinkingly spout those same values to me. Do you not fight? Do you not kill? Is this not for selfish reasons? You cannot justify your war while condemning my research!
: I fight to help others, and I take no joy from it. It's not because I've been conditioned... It's because I am a human being!
: Merely the ideals of a selfish society has imprinted on your young mind! Such ideals were constructed by society to ensure its survival. They serve only to channel people's energies away from killing each other. Did you not lose both of your parents in the Great War?
: ... ... ... ...
: With no one to care for you, you joined the Rubinelle military academy. They clothed you, fed you, and taught you to fight for your country.
: Such a life has turned you into a foolish, naive young man. You were conditioned to believe the greatest of lies... That a soldier's role is to protect people. When you were saved by Brenner, this ideal was only further cemented. None of your ideas are your own! You are simply conditioned to believe.
: Listen to yourself! Then look about you! How can you possibly believe in hope? You think yourself the heroic successor to this Captain Brenner, yet--
: No. I don't. I'm not a hero, and I'll never be the man Captain Brenner was. But the lessons he taught mean everything to me. He proved that hope is good. He taught me to leave no one behind. If those ideas aren't my own? If he conditioned me? Then that's fine. Keep your theories, Caulder. What's important is that I help people. I have no other ambitions. That is what my heart tells me to do, and my heart is my own.
: You are clearly no logician, so I will speak with simple words.
Let's do this thing!
The west end is ours.
The East, largely Caulder's.
And the north? Oh GOD. Look at this image. The five lasers sticking out are our targets, each with 99 HP to break down, and doing 8HP damage to any unfortunate soul to get struck. But there's more. Those two black circles at the top?
Mortars. Using the same aiming as the AI using missiles or the Great Owl, or Sturm/Von Bolt in the previous games. These mortars do 5HP damage. Ouch. I'm thinking we need some advice here. To the Tactics Room!
: This is it. Our very last tactics session...
: It's almost sad. I've had a good time making fun of you. Sometimes it was the only thing that got me through the day.
: Yeah, I'm going to miss you-- Hey! What do you mean, you enjoyed making fun of me?!
: I can't be the reality-check girl all the time, now can I?
: You surprise me, Lin.
: All right, enough mushy stuff. Let's talk tactics.
: I'd appreciate it.
: Capture cities with infantry and bikes, but watch those lasers. Attack The Nest from the west, ignoring the enemies to the east. Bombers are the best way to destroy the lasers, but keep them protected. The enemy has a ton of units, so keep cranking yours out. Try to plug those holes The Nest uses to build units. That'll be a big help.
: I've got it!
: You're sure?
: I'm sure!
: You're sure you're sure?
: Stop making fun of me!
: Thus ends our final tactical briefing. It's been a pleasure, Will.
Lin, I'm sure even after the war, you'll make fun of Will. That's just something you do.
In the map proper, we begin with a bunch of capturing. Grabbing Com Towers, and both an airport and base as far north as possible. I'd rather not get locked out of one mode of attack or the other so close to the front at any time.
Meanwhile, Will and the rockets head north towards our first laser.
Finishing off the west, I move the fighter and missiles to the east, ready to fight whatever comes from the sky, and amalgamate some unlucky saps to be hit by the first mortar.
The bomber goes as far north as possible, avoiding the laser range and will be able to strike it next turn.
The war tank and the antitank meet up with the fighter. This can only end well. We end the first day.
And here we go, our final villain, Caulder. I really like his theme. No idea why, really. It fits him though. The name of it, Puppet Master, also does. Think of what he did to us with the Beast, attempted to do with Forsythe, and did with Greyfield.
: I've armed her with five powerful lasers and two mortar launchers.
: Good-bye, my self-righteous friends! This world grows weary of you.
Caulder immediately uses his Nest's vast arsenal to shoot his own tank. I see where Penny's suicidal strategy has come from, and it ain't the testing.
I feel pain. It's name is mortar.
: If you can destroy all five, it should overload the system.
: Isabella, you shouldn't be here. It's dangerous.
: I want to live together with you and the others, Will. That is my dream.
Fun thing about the outer two lasers. They turn.
And as Caulder said, the damn Nest can make any land or air unit. This includes seaplanes, which if you remember, are pretty devastating. For now, we shell a fighter.
And, using the rockets...
We are 20% done this mission.
My saps... I mean my valiant forces that weathered the mortar move out slightly, the war tank rejoining the forces.
Elsewhere, we attack one of Caulder's war tanks.
Since the B copter here doesn't have much impeding it's attacks, the antitank aims upwards and strikes.
Then, in a moment of clarity, I bomb the crap out of one of Caulder's full health war tanks.
Man, the end of Day 2 just looks like a clusterfuck, doesn't it?
Great. Missiles AND a bomber from the Nest. His fighter sacrificed itself on ours, and we got beat up a little in the south end by the B copter and light tank.
Gotta move up there fast for that rightmost laser, because Caulder also built a new fighter last turn.
Meanwhile, that bomber also has to be hurt. It would rampage unchecked through the majority of our forces.
Look at this overkill. We won't see it again.
Every little bit of uncountered damage will help us here. We need every point of HP we can get off his units early, before we're completely overwhelmed.
Our antitank attacks the light tank, everything else moves up and begins capturing more buildings. We also build a fighter in the east end. Maybe it'll distract Caulder's new fighter. Maybe. There is also a bomber built in the south end.
One last movement this turn, and we're set.
: You think you're a man of science, but you're just a selfish monster.
: You didn't have to journey there to see the fruits of my labors! You can find evidence of my work far closer to home. In fact, you can even look... inside yourselves!
: I told you that all my dreams came true when the meteors struck. I had designed a virus that I thought to be a colossal failure. It had a fragile genetic structure and was unable to survive direct sunlight. But then the wonderful meteors fell to earth and choked the world in dust.
: Temperatures plummeted. The sun was lost. Lives died out by the millions.
It's the little things in life, eh?
:I seized the chance to refine my virus, and now you have seen the results! I no longer need a laboratory! I have all of you!
: You're worse than I thought...
: In its original form, my virus affected only the young.
:It has been a tremendous boon to my research. And so fascinating...
: Without respect for life, your science is pointless!
: What is life? Merely a protein-based mechanism for energy consumption. It is really nothing special.
: You look like a human, but you're not! I don't know what you are...
: What you think I am is the least of my concerns. I care only about how you face your imminent demise.
And there we go. The conclusion I think most people came to in their minds (and if so, thank you for not saying anything in the thread). Caulder is, in fact, the creator of The Creeper. And also why it mutated so quickly to start hitting adults. It had some encouragement to reach that point.
So, as it turns out, I got one of my war tanks and the missiles shot by a laser. Whoops. Thankfully, it wasn't anything critical, like a bomber. Or Will. Because that TOTALLY hasn't happened in a scrapped run. No sir.
Time to clear a path to the middle.
I still love the fighter's range. Can't even see it on the screen anymore, and it's shooting a copter in the face.
Not quite enough to take it down, but close. Very close.
NO. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH. FUCK CAULDER.
Look at those stats. Look at that passive. He has no Power? Fuck that noise, His passive IS HIS POWER. Want to know how much it heals? 5 HP. Yeah. Luckily, they slightly realized how broken this is, and made it so Caulder has to pay for his repairs, as though it were being done at a city. Still, 160% attack and defence for every one of the units in his range? Broken as hell.
We shall ignore him for now, however. He's in the corner, and we're fighting up north where he can't immediately hit us.
And slowly we whittle down the northern resistance. Two more will arrive through the Nest, but the bulk is gone.
Four days in, and we tentatively hold the center. Caulder has a decent force in the east, and he continues to rebuild two at a time in the north.
Will's war tank got shot by a laser, and taken down by the Md tank. The fighter and bomber got hit by the mortar, the bomber then fried by the laser as well. Not good positioning, but necessary at the time, I feel.
Indirects must DIE.
And strengthening our bombers will only make killing lasers go faster.
That duster worries me, however.
There's time for that, though. The rockets get taken out.
Laser gets damaged again, and I believe nothing is close enough to the bomber to kill it. The second laser will fall next day.
Two fighters, and the duster is removed.
More bombers. As Lin said in the Tactics Room, bombers are our best bet. Combining bombers and fighters with one or two war tanks makes this mission absolutely winnable.
Now, I decide to work right to left. Since Caulder's actual base is on the east side, it seems prudent to do so.
Every little bit helps. Trust me. I wouldn't steer you wrong.
Of course, doing more than a third of it's health is a little bit, right?
Bomber comes screaming in, having been nailed by a mortar at the start of the day. At the bottom, you can see Caulder is taking the blocking job up, preventing me from using an airport. OH NO.
Damage, and blocking it from the bomber. Good plan, I'd say.
Hindsight, I should have moved this one to the south and blocked the seaplane there too. It works out, but... you'll see.
Well, this could look worse.
It's worse! Caulder now watches over the other airport. I can't build planes without him taking out one guaranteed.
But hey, the seaplane is neutered. And it won't retreat to rearm. Brilliant, Caulder. Brilliant.
It's okay though, I have a plan. First, the bomber goes and smacks the central laser about.
Oh hey, would you look at that?
Clearing some space at these lasers, don't mind me, Caulder.
So close. So, so close.
The central force is set. They look like nothing could stop them.
This will never not be amusing to me. The counter to a shell firing unit? Assault rifles.
I like this. Things are on the up and up. Caulder has something to say about things first, however.
: But while technically feasible, there was ethical resistance to the idea.
: Y-you cloned yourself?
: After countless failed experiments, I finally realized my ambition.
: Do you know what it is like to watch yourself die?
: You're insane!
: These clones were used to grow organs that could be transplanted into me. But then something went wrong... The clones began to...feel. They resented being used in such a way...and they fought back. After a brief, fierce war, only one cloned survived...
: But that means... Wait, you're--
Well then. That sure is a lot of information on Caulder.
We have more important things to chew on. Namely, the remaining two lasers. How to proceed though?
Like it isn't obvious? Tasha lets us know the left laser has been destroyed.
This mission, this war, this CAMPAIGN, is over.
: I'm...I'm dying... I'm DYING! I have killed so many clones, but I am different! I am unique! I am ALIVE! Help me! Please! Someone! Help me!
Incidentally, should you still be alive on Day 12, there is one more dialogue between Caulder and Will:
: Yet you still fight on! You can take a lot of punishment... I think it is time for you to accept the inevitable. This planet no longer needs weak, mortal people like you.
: We won't surrender!
: I have important research to do, and you continue to disturb me! This planet is not yours anymore! It belongs to me! It has evolved! There is no place for selfish, naive humans in this new world.
: You don't know the first thing about humans. We are not selfish. We simply want to live in peace with our fellow human beings. No matter what happens, I will always believe this. People like you, people who see only evil... You are the minority.
: Even by your standards, such a position is absurd!
: Your research interests no one but yourself. But my dream is shared! That is why you will never win!
But obviously, that didn't happen. And, the final reveal:
Perfect. A full S rank run of the campaign. I said at the outset that I had no intention of really trying for it. But, in an effort to not make the LP a slog, it happened anyway.
Indeed we did, Will. We did it.
: We finally got some crops to grow! It's not much, but still...
: Those meteors actually fertilized the soil somehow. The plants love it. But without sunlight, I just don't know...
: Don't give up! Keep at it! Remember, where there's life--
: ...There's hope! Don't worry, Will. We'll keep at it!
: Heya, Penny.
: I'm Will. We talked yesterday. Remember?
: Come on, Mr. Bear. Let's go away from the stinky cheese man.
: Don't worry, Penny. You'll remember someday.
: Daddy went BOOM! Cyrus went BOOM! Sister went... Sister went...
: We think Tabitha's still alive. We just aren't sure where she is.
: She IS alive! We can feel her. Sister and Penny and Mr. Bear! All one big system! Whrrrr! Cliiick! Booom! Tee hee hee!
: ...Really? Huh. That must be what Caulder meant by one person controlling an entire army.
: Sky! Black! Black sky! Other sister wanted to look at the sky! We looked! ...It's dirty. Mr. Bear hates it. Then Mr. Bear was bored, so we left. How much is that sandwich? Trees! Big Trees! Tee hee!
: ...Sorry, Penny. You lost me.
: Well, at least she seems happy.
I love Penny's character. Just so happily deranged.
Where's David Caruso and The Who? I have need of them.
: Hey, Doctor! That's actually kind of funny! And I'm glad the cure has worked. We owe a lot to Cyrus, don't we?
: It's hard to believe that upstanding young man was a clone of Caulder. He was created to be a killer, but he ended up having a true and good heart. I think it proves that there is more to a human than their DNA.
: You're right, Doctor.
: And now that we have a moment, Will... I've been meaning to talk to you about Isabella and her sister.
: What is it?
: In the case of cloned mammals such as sheep, the aging process is usually accelerated. There are sections of DNA called telomeres that act as buffers during cellular... Hmmm... I can see I'm losing you. Let me try again. Basically, clones have genetic problems that cause them to have shortened lives. And clones made from other clones have even shorter life spans.
: No! You have to do something! You have to--
: Will, Will! Please! Let me finish... There have been cases with certain mammals, like cows, where cloned genes function better. If the same quirk occurs in cloned humans...
: OK. That's all a bit weird, but I think I understand.
: I don't know how well Caulder's clones will function, or how their genes are faring. But that means Isabella is just like us. Her future is uncertain. And in the end, perhaps that's for the best.
: I agree. I think Isabella has many happy years ahead of her. And she believes it too.
: That is good to hear.
I'm a little rusty on my knowledge of DNA, but I do know that to be correct, in a rough way. Telomeres are buffers that shorten every time the DNA strands duplicate during cellular mitosis. In a normal human, they're fine. Clones, meanwhile, get the length of theirs from the age of what they were cloned from. Part of that buffer is used up already. This leads to part of the genetic information held on the DNA itself to vanish during subsequent divisions. Can be quite lethal, depending on the information lost. That's what Dr.Morris was getting at.
: Aw! My two favorite big, dumb animals are together at last!
Still holding your gun. You're doing it wrong.
: Are you worried it might ruin your image?
: Good morning. Is there enough milk for everyone?
: I'm...working...on it... Stupid cow!
And thus, Gage does have emotion. Frustration is an emotion, right?
: Will! Good morning!
: Lin and the others are on their way, but I think we can wait for them here.
: Yes, sir! What's wrong? You look upset.
: No, it's just... The war is over, and the virus has been eliminated. But this doesn't mean that our work is done, you know?
: You're right, Will. We may not. But we will keep trying, and that is what matters.
: ...You're right. We can't give up. After all, where there's life, there's hope.
: Yes, Will. There is always hope.
: Hey, enough about me. How about you? Are you doing OK?
: Oh, I'm fine! You know me! Just...one day at a time. As long as I'm here with all of you, I'll be all right.
: ...Me too.
: Oh! Oh my gosh, Will! Look!
: What? What's wrong?!
: You were right, Will! There IS hope!
And that's that. We're done. That is Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. Thank you, to everyone, for following and posting in the thread. Making fun of me for my frequent delays between updates which ended up inspiring me to continue. Oh, and: