Part 12: Betrayal in Ankara12: Betrayal in Ankara
So, here we are outside the small and slightly charred town of Gregor.
Mary Kay and Sonya both said that the capital is to the south. They appear to have forgotten to mention that to actually get there you need to fly.
Since we can't fly and the Gregor-Akara Express Shuttle isn't running today, the only way off this island is through the Mesa Canyons to the north.
Doesn't look too bad.
It is, however, infested with Ankaran Soldiers and their Combat Hounds, with orders to shoot and/or bite on sight.
The Hound can bite and cast Mass Haste, and the Soldier can shoot you with bullets and throw grenades - nothing we haven't seen before.
You also run into the occasional Ankaran Sergeant, who has napalm.
There's a few Jinam robotroopers lurking around, too - presumably the reason why the Ankaran troops have shoot-on-sight orders. Of course, the robots are trying to kill us too. Maybe they just don't like player characters.
Making it to the ramp puts us on the upper level. It's larger than the lower level but entirely straightforward - just follow the path to the exit.
The exit takes us to the meat of this zone - the huge bridge.
The Jinam forces have the upper hand here, and the bridge is populated with Jinam ROBO and Jinam Sergeant troops.
The bridge has been badly damaged, forcing us to backtrack and cross this plank onto the rocky islands surrounding it. (What are the bridge pilings connected to? Isn't there nothing below us but another shell?)
Bearing left and up from there brings us to this narrow path, guarded by a wild helgak.
Unlike their docile cousins used as beasts of burden and bioengineering components the world over, wild helgak are highly aggressive and capable of seriously injuring a human with their tusks.
Of course, they often don't need to, because they're fucking magical and can cast Berserk, causing the target to attack continously and at random.
And, if badly injured, a wild helgak will flee rather than fighting to the death. (You can just see its foot as it leaps off the top of the screen).
For all that trouble we get a Fire Guard. Not really worth it, in my opinion.
Heading down and circling to the right brings us to the exit, but if you keep going the entire upper-right half of the map is accessible.
Expect to run into Thundercats, last seen on Shell 3 as a sort of informal miniboss, and Thundercat/Helgak teams. Fortunately, Berserk Maya made the right choice and spent most of this fight firing on the Helgak.
With the Helgak gone, though, she's just as likely to attack Corgan as the Thundercat, so I break out a Ward for the first time.
The description is slightly misleading; it won't remove positive effects, and there's one negative effect it won't remove either: Slow, which we've seen, but only briefly.
There's two ledges hanging off the left side of this path. The northernmost has a chest with a Kyra's Tear, two Core Relics, and a Potion.
And the southern one has a bird! Three birds fed.
The exit takes us to another area containing Ankaran soldiers.
It's an entirely linear path containing nothing of interest, apart from this fight between Ankaran and Jinam troops that you end up in the middle of.
Both sides will completely ignore you in their eagerness to wipe one another out. This is also the best time to see their beam weapons in action, as for some reason they rarely, if ever, use them otherwise.
Interestingly, the game seems to consider all the enemies to be on the same side for the purposes of dispensing damage; so the beams will cause friendly fire incidents, but won't hurt Corgan at all. The easiest way to deal with this fight is just to wait until one side wins, then finish off the other with tier 3 attacks.
And here we are, finally back on the world map.
Heading east takes us to an Ankaran Base nestled against an impassable mountain range, with another facility behind the mountains. I'm guessing that the Ankarans rely heavily on air traffic in peacetime, which is fun and all, but considering how this war is going they may wish to consider investing in some tunnels, and possibly antiaircraft weapons.
Entering the base, we are immediately greeted with a chest - and what a chest it is! Cracking it open gets us a root, potion, core rune, core relic, smelling salts...
...and the Air card. More expensive than Hydro or Geo Strike at 12 Core, Lightning Strike is more powerful than either, and is especially effective against Water-elemental targets. This also means we can combine it with Barrier to create an Air Barrier, should we be facing something fond of air-elemental attacks.
Apart from looting, there's also Led, found tinkering with this aircraft.
[talk] Who are you?
Name's Led. I'm in the Ankaran Army, but my dad has me stationed here to keep me from getting hurt. He's done that ever since I lost my lower legs in a training accident.
My father's General Campbell - you know, commander of the Fifth Fleet?
[talk] You're in the army?
Second Mobile Division, Mechanized Infantry...mechanic, actually...Daddy doesn't really let me fight.
[Grubb] Have you seen a little guy with a mohawk?
No. I'd remember that.
[Jinam Soldiers] These enemy soldiers, are they all Jinam?
Yeah, the bastards invaded without warning. They say we assassinated their president. That's bull! I think they're still ticked off because we whupped their butts a decade ago.
They wanted to take our mining operations at the Core away from us. They sent secret strike teams disguised as pirates to take 'em out, then walked in and offered to "protect" the operations.
You mean, annex them.
Bingo. They started a whole little war.
I find that war is never little.
There's nothing more to do or say here, for now, so we leave and keep exploring.
To the north is a crashed Jinam battleship. Didn't Mary Kay say that Grubb was out west, repairing refugee wagons near a crashed ship? We may have just found it.
Figuring out how she could possibly have known this in the first place, given that the ship is on the other side of a canyon and bridge system infested with trigger-happy soldiers from both nations and large, angry wildlife, is left as an exercise to the reader.
Approaching reveals the ship's number and name - Jinam 08, the JNS Tiamat - and a gaping hole we can use to get inside.
And here we are. That alcove to the right can be easily snuck into.
However, all it contains is an electronically locked blast door.
Cutting across the central area to the leftmost alcove gets us into a skirmish with a Jinam ROBO and Sergeant, along with a Maintenance Bot.
Corgan tests out the new card on it, with satisfactory results.
The entrance to the left alcove is guarded by another Maintenance Bot and a Guard Bot. They both fire energy bolts for around 10 damage; they're distinguished by the fact that the Maintenance Bot can heal other robots for around 30 points, and the Guard Bot has a grenade launcher.
Sadly, they explode without using either.
The room contains a lever, which opens a door to the area in the upper left.
Running across the central room again to the last alcove gets us some angry robotroopers and another lever.
Both doors open, the back area is now accessible, containing another Jinam Sergeant and two more Guard Bots.
Oh, and Grubb.
Oh, hey Maya.
What are you doing here?
Couldn't help myself. I mean, this ship is awesome! Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I found this in here, on a dead Jinam guard.
What is it?
Not sure! I think it's a recorded message, but I can't figure out how to play it.
Let's get out of here.
On the way out, Grubb can offer his insights on the locked door. We can also have him examine the hull of the Tiamat...
That's not ominous at all!
With nowhere else to go, we head back to the base, which contains a surprise.
Hey! Heel, Punkin!
Runner! Here, boy!
Punkin, get back here!
Running spins back and forth in confusion before finally settling on Grubb.
His name is Punkin, and I found him, so he's mine.
Oh yeah? Well I built him.
Whatever. I wouldn't force him to stay anyways.
And with that, the whole gang is back. Now, let's get back to the important thing, that is to say, plot developments.
It's probably just the first mate's shopping list or something.
Oh my god.