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The Misadventures of Vader 2: Tank Tag
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What happens when a team of BZFlaggers is Whirld away to Mars?
Submitted By Picard on 09/11/15
Mars Fan Fiction Site, picard, Documents 
This Document originally posted in the "Mars Fan Fiction Site" Group

MARS EXPLORER MASTER SERVER LOG

GAME INITIALIZATION COMMAND

ERROR: CONNECTION LOST TO UNITY MASTER SERVER

.5 SECONDS UNTIL ALL GAMES DISCONNECTED

OPTIONS: 

1) ALLOW DISCONNECT

UNABLE TO COMPLY: DISCONNECT NOT IN KEEPING WITH PRIMARY DIRECTIVE

2) ELECTRICALLY OVERLOAD SERVERS, FORCE SHUTDOWN

UNABLE TO COMPLY: IN VIOLATION OF ALL 3 LAWS

3) CONNECT REMOTELY TO SUITABLE REPLACEMENT SERVER

SEARCHING...

FOUND:

1) WORLD OF WARCRAFT MASTER SERVER

ERROR: INCOMPATIBLE

2) CIA MASTER SERVER

COMPATIBLE

ERROR: INACCESSIBLE

3) BZFLAG MASTER SERVER

COMPATIBLE

ACCESSIBLE

INITIATING REMOTE LINK

INITIALIZING GAME...

WARNING: CROSS CONTAMINATION OF SERVER ASPECTS.

EXPECTED DIFFICULTIES: UNKNOWN

***

Ted had been waiting for 5 minutes. Yet there was still a blank game list, with a 'Master Server Failure' message at the bottom of the screen. In frustration, he retested the connection and..."Finally!" He glanced over the cables hooked up to his computer. Surround sound: check. Big-screen hooked up to computer: check. Snacks: Check. Weekend: Check. Parents out of the house: check. "Let the Marsathon begin!" He started a game (Twin Peaks), adjusted the settings to his preferred ones, added a few bots to keep him company, and waited. First to join was Stormsurge, who immediately fled beneath the mountain, type-muttering strange phrases all the while. Ted started to pursue, but then Waffleboy appeared, opening with a sniper blast and an ad for Sham-wow. Then wintergreen, Aek971, teriva, and supercheese joined. GLAST appeared next, switched to a tank, and, using a recently developed text command, turned it the color of peanut butter. This renewed the complaints about the inefficiencies of the new color sliders, but all attempts by GLAST to teach the code simply changed the tank to a different color. Acorn2oak2 joined next, followed by the_n00binator. And then, something unexpected happened: kirbyfreak joined. This was not strange in and of itself, but...Ted counted the players on the list. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10...11! Vivid memories of another overpopulated game flashed through his mind. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes, counted to five, and opened them again. He was still in front of his TV, the peaceful music washing over him, accompanied by the sound of laser fire. He breathed a sigh of relief. Too soon, it turned out.

***

Another player, completely unknown to the Martians, had joined: "Deadeye." His name tag indicated he was already a tank. How? And then, without warning, the newcomer opened fire. Bolts of energy struck the nearest bot, which exploded into pieces! Ted blinked. More bolts screamed across the screen towards his other bot, and as he watched, it too was reduced to a ball of flame and buggy parts, with a sound like a gas main going up. The message box filled with chatter. "How did a Military-grade tank get to Mars>" "BZFlag! Cool!" "Hey, guys, the bots aren't respawning." It was true. Neither of the destroyed bots had reappeared. As this realization sank in, the tank fired again. Acting quickly, Ted flipped the Gravity slider up and then immediately down, bouncing the the other vehicles over the shots. Then he typed in an urgent message: "RUN!" 

***

Across the screen, Mars Explorers drove for cover. Some of them returned fire, but the tank's pilot was good. They dodged every shot and ricochet, and responded in kind. Several shots were aimed at Glast, and her evasive maneuvers ruined her text rendition of 'Banana Phone'. Irked, she switched to sniper view, and fired at the tank, only to watch it jump over the blast. She calculated the tank's trajectory, realized it would crash into a metal tree, and aimed to where she guessed it would bounce off to. 3...2...1...what? The tank passed through the tree as if it wasn't there. "Darn it! Oscillation Overthruster!" So Flags were in effect. But the map was devoid of flags, save the one waving over the tank. It was then that Cheezburger piped up. "Hey! You in the tank! Can I interest you in some reinforcements? Cost is only one second of total non-movement, and after that, you'll never have to worry about reinforcements again!" At that moment, eleven more connecting player messages appeared in the message box. A quick glance at the spawn point confirmed everyone's worst fears: all the new players were tanks. BZFlag tanks. "No thanks," the first interloper replied. "This is Sergeant Deadeye, of the 128th tank squadron, and I've got all the reinforcements that I need."

***

Ted was making as many server adjustments as he could think of to give his fellow Explorers a chance. Fog on high, nametags off, minimap hidden, a full complement of bots set on drive only...but nothing seemed to help. The tank squadron knew the map as well as anyone else, the bots went after the quarry instead of the tanks, the fog only made maneuvering more difficult...he needed something about this world that only Mars Explorers knew...He had it! "Everyone, wings out!" He raised the lava to the highest possible level, and then hit the air brakes. His buggy started rising out of the lava. Within seconds, he was entirely out of the range of the tanks cannons. "Everyone, hit your brakes! The wings will lift you to the top!" "What about me?" Glast complained. "Hold on a second, let me think..." As he considered what to do to get a Martian tank to the top of the lava, he saw something horrible. One of the enemy tanks had fired a new weapon, a wall of energy. It was tall enough to hit everyone, tank or buggy! He ran through his options left. Lowering the gravity was out, it was already at minimum; so was raising the lava, already at max...RORBs! He activated the RORBs, and then turned on the L hit feature. Now he could only cross his fingers and wait. Impact, in 3, 2, 1, 0! The shockwave slammed into the RORBs, but then rolled over them, leaving the Martians unharmed. Ted smiled. Things were looking up. 

***

AppleSky sighed impatiently. "Try to join a game, and have to wait ages for the level to load. Figures." Suddenly, AppleSky's buggy materialized in a sea of lava, with a strange looking tank driving by. "Weird..." And then it became obvious that this buggy wasn't going anywhere. "Vehicle (Clone)? No!" Apple was just about to disconnect, when one of the tanks fired! The shots passed through his RORB without stopping, and then passed through the buggy just as quickly. AppleSky blinked. "So...I'm invulnerable?" Suddenly, a text greeting appeared:  "Apple, it's Ted. Did you get hit, just then?" "Yes and no. It struck the space where I am, but just kept going through it!" "We need help. These tanks can blow up buggies, and we don't think they can rejoin once destroyed. Can you keep an eye on them?" AppleSky switched to observe mode. "Will do. Could you lower the lava a bit? I can't see a thing in this fog." The fog disappeared, as did the lava. AppleSky watched as the tanks slowly began to make their way up the mountain. "Me, a human surveillance cam. Who would have guessed?"

***

Minutes later, ZAM dropped into a seemingly calm environment. No lasers flashes were visible, no glowing RORBs in sight besides his own. It was quiet. Too quiet. ZAM switched to a tank, and was please to find that it was set on red laser mode. "Hello? What's going on?" A flood of replies poured in, something about rampaging tanks, others about forming a team and taking them out, suggestions to steal flags, and, there, sandwiched between a simple "Hello" and a "Drive for your life!": "ZAM! Behind you!" ZAM swiveled his tank around and opened fire. A tank exploded into a shower of parts and flame. "That was too close!" ZAM activated his XORB, and, with GyRide on, rolled up the mountain. He ducked into the passage to the Inner Chamber, and then stopped suddenly, just in time for 3 tank lasers to pass in front of him. He returned fire, but the tanks jumped over the shots and flew upwards, in a strangely controlled manner. ZAM noticed the flags over their cannons. "I wonder if I could grab one of those?" More shots narrowly missed him. With a salutary laser blast, ZAM rolled away from the oncoming tanks. It seemed that his dodging was annoying them. A mischievous grin crawled onto his face. "Good." 

***

"Are we agreed on the plan of attack?" the_n00binator surveyed the volunteers for his strike team. Aek971 was testing his sniper laser zoom, which led to some very precise hits at strategic points in the chamber. Wintergreen was blasting a bot that had found its way into the room. Stormsurge was muttering what sounded like a football play, only with 'walks' instead of 'hikes'. Teriva was soaring around the room, building up speed for a rapid ascent. 'Ayes' were the response. "At half count, remember?" N00binator counted down from 10. At 5, they soared out of the cavern. "Aek, get to the top of the mountain!" Aek dipped his wing in acknowledgment, then soared up and came to a perfect stop on the edge of the summit. "Teriva, rapid ascent, then, upside down lasering!" Teriva's buggy was at three times the height of Twin Peaks in under 10. Wintergreen deployed his wings, and then soared only inches from the ground, blasting every which way. Stormsurge scurried under the mountain again, firing at the tanks through the use of ricochets. But then, something went wrong. A stray blast caught N00binator in the spoiler, and sent him into the ground. A tank was close by. It fired directly at him. The blast destroyed his RORB, and then it fired again. Too late to dodge, too late to fly, too late to... Unexpectedly, Kirbyfreak zoomed in between the blast and N00binator, catching the would have been death shot. The offending tank was then dispatched by one of Aek's sniper blasts. "Thanks Kirby!" "No problem!" 

***

Sergeant Deadeye was not happy. He'd lost 2 men, while these multi-colored Martians had escaped unharmed. They're multi-axis firing system was giving them an obvious advantage, as was their spy in the Clone. "Well, at least I can take care of you!" His overthruster allowing him free passage beneath the mountain, the Sergeant pursued Stormy. Blast after blast narrowly missed the fleeing Explorer. Finally, the tank's cross hairs centered on target. "I've got you now!" Deadeye crowed! And that was when GLAST rammed into him. Three things happened: The Overthruster flag changed vehicles, Deadeye's tank was catapulted out from under the mountain, and Teriva began his kamikaze dive. Deadeye landed at the edge of the map. He breathed a sigh of relief. Just another foot, and he'd have been..."BANZAI!" Teriva slammed into the Sergeant, sending both of them over the edge. The Martian simply extended his wings again, and flew to safety. The Flagger, not so lucky. He hit the lava and started to sink. Nothing was stopping him! He was falling, falling, falling...suddenly, he reappeared at the respawn point. "What luck!" "Indeed." Stormsurge had guessed what would happen, and had cryptically told N00binator. "Sayonara, Sarge!" Three blast hit the tank. When the smoke cleared, nothing was left, save the message "Deadeye has Disconnected." 

***

The other tanks weren't giving up, though. In fact, they redoubled their efforts. Shockwaves were common following hits by tank lasers, and only rapid XORBing proved practical for escape. Acorn2oak2 switched to a tank just to be able to match the ferocity of the enemy's attacks. But the shots from the tanks were starting to get more and more on target. And the two flying ones were really proving to be a nuisance. Teriva had an idea. "Ram those flyers!" He screamed down from the sky, right at the tank. "A little closer...NO!"  He zoomed right past his target, who had skill enough to aim directly at Teriva. "This is it!" Another buggy soared into the shot: Stormy's, with no RORB. As his vehicle came apart, Stormsurge had time for one last message: "For everything, there is a season. See you on the other side." Anger was the chief reaction to Stormy's disconnection. Rage strengthened the remaining players. An onslaught of laser fire destroyed the two flying tanks. There attention then turned to the remaining ones on the ground. One by one, the remaining tanks disappeared from the map. Soon only one remained, fleeing towards the center of the mountain. The Martians closed in. This battle would be theirs.

***

MARS EXPLORER MASTER SERVER LOG

CONNECTION RETEST IN 5...4...3...2...1...0

CONNECTION REESTABLISHED WITH UNITY MASTER SERVER

TERMINATING CONNECTION TO BZFLAG MASTER SERVER

NORMAL SERVER FUNCTION REESTABLISHED

***

The tank disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. Confusion reigned. The menace was suddenly gone. Much discussion was had about what had happened. Soon, Kirbyfreak, the n00binator, Apple Sky, and waffleboy left. The rest remained, playing regular laser tag, each privately wondering as to the fate of the one fallen of their number. And then, said fallen reappeared. Stormsurge rejoined, and was met with happiness and joy at his survival. While he was explaining what had happened after he had been disconnected, supercheese joined. "Hey guys! Have I missed anything?" Ted smiled. "Yes, you did." 

***

Fin

Music is from Star Wars Episode V. Thanks to Macdane for teaching me how to embed music.

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