Part 21: I Didn't Make Up This Ending
I Didn't Make Up This Ending
You feel the now-familiar sensations of entering the dream world. This time, however, you do not find yourself in a "Hall of Dreams"...
You see the Shadowlord of Falsehood.
"Frau Steve, I believe that the dream we have entered is in fact your own! Three shadowy figures stand before you. Is it possible that they represent your id, superego, and ego?"
"Sadly, no, it's just the Shadowlords again."
"What's up loser?"
The dark robed figure looks up at you, and you recoil, certain that your eyes are deceiving you.
"No, actually I'm pretty good, thanks. It's not like I haven't killed these guys before."
When the vision does not fade, the robed figure speaks. "How delightful indeed that you remember me! It has been a long time, Steve, since we last met in Britannia at the Lycaeum."
"Where I killed you. You make it sound like a date."
"Ah, you must have thought me and my siblings destroyed, but as you can see, your attempt was unsuccessful."
"Wouldn't the fact that you exist only as memories in my subconscious be more likely to demonstrate that I was successful?"
"I knew you were learning something!"
"You can ride my wing any day, Freud."
"Again with the phallic symbolism..."
"Here, in the world of dreams and shadows, WE will dictate your actions, leading you down the paths of our 'virtues,' until you learn the Falsehood of your 'incorruptible' stance as the Avatar. I have returned to test you, Steve. I wish to show you that virtue is the greatest of lies! You need merely to ask, and I will be glad to begin the test."
"I thought you were here to dictate my actions."
"That doesn't mean I have to be rude about it."
"You're still full of crap though. I've done this temptation-away-from-the-virtues thing before and it didn't really work the last time."
"Virtue! What rot! Do you realize that the Way of the Avatar was originally meant to be a guideline for commerce?"
"Well, I did get incredibly wealthy doing it."
"Can you truthfully say that you always live by your eight 'great' principles? When you fail the tests before you, your faith in virtue will be proven false as well!"
"You're really big on this lies thing."
"Falsehood has many forms. A mortal can lie to another, to cover guilt or achieve a desire, and that is satisfying. But best of all is a lie to oneself: 'Pretend to be happy when you are hurt or sad, and you will be happy.' Or 'present the right appearance to the world and what you want will be given to you.' Delightful! Even my siblings delight in Falsehood: 'I need no one else, so I hate the people who I wish loved me.' 'I could do something to help, but it wouldn't make any difference.' Falsehood is the supreme principle of life!"
"Gonna need your guidance on this one, Herr Freud. Let's roll."
"Faulinei, you ceased to exist long before I ever met you. You never had any purpose after you were shattered off Mondain's Gem of Immortality. The murders in the Underworld only breathed what little life was in that empty cloak of yours. I just finished off what remained. The only falsehood here is you: my superego, representing itself as an old foe. Really, that's all you're saying, isn't it? 'Act the way people expect me to act.' But hey, maybe that's not really lying to yourself. Maybe we can all be different people sometimes. I'm not a philosopher here, but I am the motherfucking Avatar, and if you think I'm going to be beaten by myself, you have another thing coming. So test me, and let me prove who the real liar here is."
"Very well... Step into the gate I open before you. Beyond, you will find your old friend Warren Spector. You will also find one of my lies, in his image. Of course you can trust your friend to tell you the way out of the maze, and of course my creation will lie to you. If you find such power in 'truth,' you will easily tell the difference."
An obelisk is conjured, and we're on our way.
One of these Warrens is the real one, and one is fake. This is a pretty easy puzzle; if you check that mirror, it will say 'you see a human reflection.' So if we shove it in front of the Spectors...
There we go.
A sudden transformation comes over "Spector," and its form becomes that of a Martian. It says, "You have uncovered my illusion. The door to the exit is now unlocked."
"Can I get respect knuckles from my dreamworld homeboy, Warren?"
"Ordinarily I would refuse and call you infantile but since this is your subconscious I am completely incapable of refusing. Put her there, Steve."
"Killer. So much for Faulinei."
You see the Shadowlord of Hatred.
"Greetings again, Steve. Welcome to the shrine of Hatred, here, deep within your own being!"
"You're somewhat less of an asshole than I remember."
"But of course I am cordial to you! Is not the thin veneer of cordiality the noblest display of one's inner hatred?"
"Wait, does that mean... Warren Spector actually hates me?"
"Hah! I invite you to a little test, a little morality play to demonstrate important things about Hatred to you. Now you will begin to see with clarity. Certainly, you of all mortals can appreciate the value of Hatred. Without Hatred, you would not find the strength to object, to repel your assailants, to enjoy the pleasure of conflict. Without Hatred you would be limited in your capacity for self-indulgence: Why give up any pleasure for an enemy? Are not all strangers unfriends?"
"Here we go again. Astaroth, your notion of what Hatred is can be said to be a diluted version at best from the Astaroth I once knew. You're really just my ego-"
"-a particularly active one, at that."
"-telling me that the real reason I do things is because I want and enjoy them. That may be true, but it's not the whole story. You can't hate instinctively. Hatred is a rationalization, not an impulse, and no matter how big a jerk I am to people who claim to be my friends, I'd never be able to convince myself that any of us are out to destroy each other. Besides, hate's not the only thing that seeps up from the subconscious. So does love. And neither of them does me a whole lot of good until I do something with them. You of all people should know that. Good try though. Let's see this test."
"Here, step through this obelisk. Beyond lies my demonstration. If that Love you profess is so strong, perhaps you will find an expression of it that overcomes the purity of the Hatred you will find."
That's something of a spoiler considering it came from the first dreamstuff we used.
Dibbs, Nellie, and Sherman on the gallows. If I actually cared about any of them, this might be a tense moment.
You see a wounded Martian.
"Whoa, buddy, let's take it easy."
"Why should you care? You only wish to destroy me as your friends do!"
"What are you talking about? Did they hurt you?"
"They attacked me and sought to kill me, but now I will have my vengeance! I have the power to end their lives! Leave me to my pain, to have my vengeance on those who injured me."
"You don't really mean that."
"And how would you know!?"
"If vengeance was all you cared about, you'd have killed them already. What you really want is for somebody to apologize. Well, they can be jerks sometimes, but they're still my friends, and if they're not going to make things right, I will. Here."
You give the healing elixir to the Martian. A look of amazement comes across its face, then relief as its wounds close before your eyes. "My... my thanks, off-worlder. In my rage, I would not have believed that you could show such compassion for me."
"Trust me, it shocks a lot of people that know me."
"Please, forgive me. I was blinded by my pain and hatred. You have saved us both!"
Two down, one left. An interesting side note: Astaroth and Faulinei refer to Nosfentor as their "sister." So apparently Nosfentor is female. I'm pretty sure they just made that up, because previously these guys didn't even have lines.
You see the Shadowlord of Cowardice.
"I am so pleased to see you again, dear Steve! Perhaps this time you will discover that you can never conquer your own weakness! I am here to remind you of your lack of courage, and challenge you to a test!"
"It's interesting that you would come last. Well, maybe not, if Freud's crackpot theories hold any water after all."
"I'm still listening you know."
"It is not so surprising. Courage is the most meaningless of your virtues, the one most obviously against survival. To confront pain and conquer it simply leads to more pain, and gains only the knowledge and strength to deal with more pain. Why not give up the struggle and simply run away? Cowardice is peace! Oh, Cowardice! Greatest of vices and solace from pain. Mortals live in a world of struggle, but they find in my embrace the peace that struggle for virtue can only promise. I delight in showing them a refuge from their pain. My disciples enjoy their pleasures and toys, secure by choosing only goals easily met and prizes easily won. Silly visionaries such as yourself will talk of goals 'worth struggling for,' but do you in fact struggle for them? Why pretend to care? Why claim something so foreign as altruism? I offer a solution so simple and obvious. You hate work and pain. Stop claiming a reason to work or endure! Accept my tutelage, and say, 'I am more important than any other! Let others starve, or struggle for their daily bread, cloth to cover them, and a roof over their heads. I stand for myself!'" She smiles, clearly impressed with her own eloquence and confident of her power over you.
"The id isn't just a primal survival tool, you know. Unconscious desire is part of the reason I feel altruism in the first place. It's not like human beings aren't tribal animals at heart. The very same emotions that encourage me to run away from danger are the ones that encourage me to this 'meaningless' struggle. You'd understand that if you weren't just a twisted shadow Raxachk thinks he can dredge up against me. If it wasn't for courage, humans and Maritans would never have gotten this far. It's what gives some people the luxury of cowardice. Your disciples are only working towards an end that'll destroy them too. So it looks like you're the one who's not being sensible. Bring it on."
"I propose a simple test of your courage. If you accept, and win, I will allow you to continue your journey unmolested. If you fail, I will accept you into the ranks of my disciples. Your friends are in need of help. They are about to be devoured by a Sand Leviathan. You must simply go to them and rescue them. Of course, the path to them is not for the faint of heart. Step into this obelisk to begin your task."
The path is fraught with heat rays and frag grenades, and this guy.
"Beware, worm-form! Death lays ahead, a trap prepared by your foes, the Shadowlords. For your sake, hear my plea! It will certainly kill you, and it cannot be avoided unless you go through the door now! Through the door is life and safety. To go further will only result in your death in the trap ahead!"
"What do I look like, not the Avatar?"
Sure enough, the attacks can damage me, but they can't kill me.
I don't even need to fight. Just walk forward and pass beyond the tests, to...
You see a maniacal-looking Martian.
"I know why you are here. Your thoughts are like an open scroll, a scroll with little worth reading."
"You're exactly as much of a jackass as before, only now you're three times as ugly. Nice to see you too."
"I have your precious phlogistonite. And I am not going to back down at the mere sight of the 'mighty Avatar,' Steve! You think you can defeat me? Ha! I need only bide my time here while my plans reach fruition. Soon I will be off to your Earth to take it over with the power of my dream technology. You pitiful Earthlings aren't even able to leave the planet without your phlogistonite."
"Is this blackmail or gloating?"
"It is whatever I wish it to be, human. I took your propellant, and as you can see I have it here in my citadel. Oh, perhaps you'd like me to give it to you? Why should I!? You are unable to affect me in any way."
"We have places for people who lock themselves up in tiny rooms that nobody can get into or out of, Raxachk. They're called prisons."
Raxachk seems initially startled, then shrugs it off. "True, I am bored by the wait here. Perhaps you can afford me some entertainment. If you win three combats to entertain me, I'll give you your propellant. Do you accept?"
"How do I know I can even trust you?"
"I give you my word."
"Because that's worth so much. Fine. I'll 'entertain' you."
The first test is a simple combat thing. Imagine up a machete, kill some jumping beans. No sweat.
"Of course, mere vermin like that are hardly a challenge. Would you care to try something a little more interesting?"
"Bring it, E.T.!"
The second test is some Ammonoids. Nothing too difficult at this point.
"That was scarcely more difficult than the last."
"Don't look at me, you're the one who came up with this crap."
"It is time you encountered a REAL monster!"
"What, your mom?"
The next area has a Sand Leviathan in the center (well, more like slightly left of where I'm standing here). We need to use purple berries for telekinesis, grab the dreamstuff to create an elephant gun and ammo, and...
...take potshots at where it's hiding from the white border, where it can't harm me. Tee-hee!
"Ah, that was quite diverting. But now I am tired of my play. Have a nice eternity. There is nothing you can do to harm me."
"I didn't think you were sincere in the first place."
"So what if I wasn't? Your powers in this dream realm are disgustingly weak. You barely have the will to form dreamstuff into objects you know well. I have constructed this citadel to be too strong for any weapon your pitiful race can imagine to penetrate. Even if you had the mental power to gather your own dreamstuff, your race will be unable to imagine a weapon powerful enough to harm me for a hundred years or more."
"A hundred years?"
"Well, that was just an estimate."
"You seem awfully full of yourself."
"Here in the dream realm, sheer mental power controls physical reality. Even a mind as pathetic as yours can shape objects you are familiar with from blobs of dreamstuff, but you don't have access to any dreamstuff here. And you do not have the power to gather it from the void. You have no idea how it comes to be or how to manipulate it, do you? Pathetic!"
"What was that, a stiff breeze?"
"Crap! This elephant gun has no effect..."
"Ah yes, your precious hand cannons and death cannons, your steel cannonballs, how childish! You have no idea. You don't even understand where to begin."
"Or maybe I do... the berries! The purple ones are telekinesis, the green ones seem to expand my general perception. And I know that the brown ones..."
"...make me aware of my spatial location in relation to other objects in space outside my normal senses. That room has a switch in it. I think I can... no, I can flip it."
"Ah yes, my dreamstuff hoard! It's lovely, isn't it?"
"Go ahead, take your fill! Try to conceive of things that don't exist! You'd need centuries of study to even approach my intellect!"
"Axe, ball-peen hammer, saber, revolver... none of this is going to work... wait... of course! Hey, Raxachk. You said my mind was open to you, right?"
"You ever notice the years that come after 1895?"
"Hey, I've got an imaginative number for you."
"7.62 x 51 mm."
"His" pride and megalomania led to his destruction. After a moment, you bend to the world-saving task that brought you here.
Your friends return your body to the dream machine and you awake.
"I am so fucking awesome."
"Good to have you back."
"That's it? No snarky comment about how you're surprised I made it at all? Nothing about how I'm always the big hero in my own dreams?"
Spector gestures to the recovered cannisters. "I think for today I can let that slide."
"Not that I wish to interrupt your triumphant return, Madam Steve, but your recovery of the phlogistonite has caused extensive distress to the planet. You may have noticed those earthquakes."
"Looks like we'd better motor."
Olympus is empty. Where'd everybody go?
Probably to the space capsule, where they've all lined up to offer their congratulations.
"Preparations for our return are done. Bring the phlogistonite to Mr. Carnegie so we may start home! ...I'll slit his throat later, I guess."
"Good to see you again, Steve! This last-minute escape from the Red Planet is a tale all the stranger for being true!"
"L'Avatar! All is gone well, I see. That is magnifique! You will take the fuel to Andrew now, non? And soon, we will be home!"
"Oh, good Avatar! It is good that you have arrived on scene, for we must all be away from this planet before we are undone!"
"Steve! Thank God you've returned safely. This is indeed our lucky day."
"I must return us to Earth with all haste, Steve. Your timing couldn't have been better."
"We must leave Mars, and my brother, now. I thank you for your help, Steve. I can never repay you."
"I reckon you folks got that flow-gist-ten-ite that Mister Carnegie wants to juice up our space cannon with. I won't be keepin' ya, pardner!"
"Well. Glad to see you finally returned. Hmph. Good job, yes, good job. Now let's go home! ...and much as I hate to say it, it looks like that Tesla was right about a few things."
"Howdy, pardner! We all need to shoot away from this planet as quick as we can! I done some rough ridin' and breakin' in my time, but I never tried to saddle break a whole planet. Whoa, Bessie!"
"I say, it certainly is good to see you! Step to it! We're all ready to leave!"
"Howdy, Steve! Best you be hurryin' that stuff to Mr. Carnegie so we kin' all get off this planet. I ain't had this much trouble walkin' since I got hoot-owl drunk in Dodge City that time..."
"Ah, my friend! It is good to see you alive and well. We must all leave now!"
"Again, Steve, you rescue distressed folk. This time, of course, you will save all of us from the destruction of Mars. (Jerk)"
"You'd best get that fuel to Mr. Carnegie as fast as you can. It's the only thing that can get us out of here!"
"Very good to see you, Madam. I hope you are taking those cannisters to Mr. Carnegie before these earthquakes... err... Marsquakes destroy our space cannon!"
"Ahoy, mate! I say, this reminds me of my old shipboard days. I'll have my sea legs back in no time."
"You would not know, but I am Xaktsesh. We have spoken before, in the world of dreams. You are busy bringing the phlogistonite to Mr. Carnegie, but perhaps later I shall recite some poetry to you."
"Steve, old friend! So good to see you again. I would suggest you get that to Carnegie as soon as possible. The world feels like it's falling apart!"
"I am Plashef. Perhaps you recall my name, shell-less one? Well, no matter now. The tremors are closer together now. We do not have much longer before our home is destroyed. We must go."
"All preparations for our return are done. Bring the phlogistonite to Mr. Carnegie so we may start home!"
You recognize the speech of Pukchep, the Gatherer. "Greetings once more. I must give you thanks for your sacrifice, soft one. You have done as you have promised, and new life is possible for myself and for all of my podfriends. Now we must ask that you save us all once again, now that Raxachk has been vanquished. We will leave our old home and go to the homeland of the worms, to learn your ways and your seasons. I will miss Mars, my home... I shall dream often of this place."
"I don't fancy taking up permanent residence here..."
"We need to git ourselves back to Earth before Mars blows up! ...or whatever it's doing!"
"Hello, Steve. It is good to see you again. We'll have time to talk on the trip back to Earth."
"I don't want any more patients to deal with on the return trip! Get those cannisters to Carnegie!"
"Ah, it is the one they call the Avatar. Zdravtsvuy, sister. I am glad to see you, gladder that you are working again for the good of all people on Mars."
Dr. Freud just smirks.
"Again you save us all, Steve! As soon as Monsieur Carnegie has prepared, we will be safely away from here!"
"I do not think that even this calamity will destroy Mars. But we must escape all the same, as it will be a very different place in a very short while."
Your voice startles Earp. He looks up at you and quickly drops his hand to his belt. But he quickly recognizes you and relaxes. "Sorry, I don't like to be bothered much, and I'm pretty rattled right now."
"Good to see you all back. Rush that phlogistonite to Mr. Carnegie so we can load up! I only hope we get away before one of these shocks damages the cannon."
"It's nice, isn't it? All these people finally working together. Every one of them will return to Earth as intended. And it's all your doing, Steve."
"Yeah but hang on, there's one last thing I gotta do."
"That's for chasing me all over the fucking planet you prick!"
"STUNNING UPSET IN THE MARS CUP FINAL ROUND, AVATAR DEFEATS DETERMINISM BY A SINGLE GOAL! THE CROWD GOES WIIIIIIIIIILD!"
And thus further so...
"Excellent! As the Martians are all once again corporeal and waiting, let us go home!"
Soon, all is ready for the trip back to Earth.
A passing ship rescues you and the rest of the survivors of the Mars expedition.
"I thought you were concerned about altering history."
"Well, I figured... what the hell."
Suddenly, you realize that this photo will be delivered to your home almost a century later!
As with so many Ultima games, the ending isn't entirely happy. The Martians are saved, but Mars is gone, and so is the civilization they knew. They'll integrate into the population of Earth, but their dreams will ever be on Mars.
And someday, when humanity takes its "first" steps onto the Red Planet... well, who knows? Somebody in that expedition might know a few things about the place. And maybe Mars will bloom. Again.
But you're mostly interested in the secret Ruby Slippers from the Wizard of Oz.
Far south of Hellas, in the depths of the glaciers at the South Pole, under a rock and some loose dirt...
I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Warren.
Why Avatar, you've had the power to go home whenever you wanted! Just click your heels three times and say...
...I'd like to watch the ending movie!
Well, I'm out of ideas. Take care, everyone.