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by Jason Whong

Mars Rising and Explosives Don't Mix

The Horror.

The abandoned building invited me to its shelter. There I was, hiding from Andrew, avoiding work, and playing Mars Rising on my PowerBook 3400. Playing an Ambrosia game is usually considered work when the game hasn't been released. But for a game that was released in 1998, that's just goofing off. I had been dutifully preparing the Snapz Pro 2 Web site and testing Cythera, when my longing for a break took over. That was what had brought me to this lonely, cold building.

There was no heat on this February morning, and vandals (so I thought) had knocked out the windows. The wind slapped me like so many pine needles thrust at high velocity. My punishment for skipping work was harsh, but the reward was great - in my solitude, I had somehow managed to pass level 6, a new first for me. (Yes, I suck. I know. So shoot me.)

While the chilling air turned my fingers and other extremities blue, my senses were focused on the game. I was in the zone - that zen-like state where there are only two things left in my consciousness - the game, and the arrow keys beneath my fingers. The PowerBook 3400 was merely an extension of my eyes and mind. The scenery faded, as did my attention to the cold air. Neither I, nor the building which had beckoned to me earlier, remained. Vac-Fighter. Fingers. Arrow keys.

In fact, my only awareness of myself had to do with my adrenaline, which I knew was something like 2 feet below my head. It was of no importance. Neither was the distant radio transmission which was lost in the noise and the glory.

"Tower?....Clear... Crane? .... Clear....HQ?....Clear....South Lot?...Clear...Roger that, everyone, we are go for demolition. Ignition on my mark... Ignition in five..."

The colonist infiltrators were on the run now. I had acquired extra auto-fire upgrades as well as the dreaded rear shot.


My heart was dancing the cha-cha as I grabbed my 40th star and passed that really tricky part.


My fingers curled backwards. Luckily, my adrenaline was killing the pain.


After defeating a mid-level boss, my brain started to digest the radio transmission.


"Gee, a countdown..." I thought. Suddenly, a million thoughts raced through my mind as I realized that I was sitting inside a building that had been rigged by a demolition squad! I left the PowerBook on the hard concrete floor, and shot toward the broken window just in time to hear


and as I fell down the three stories, I heard an explosion so loud that it needed no reinforcement from a subwoofer.

The ride to the hospital was uneventful. I stayed for three days, and, as luck would have it, I somehow had only the youngest, prettiest nurses assigned to care for me.

Damages were light. The building was destroyed, but since that was the demolition team's objective, there was no loss there. My PowerBook didn't survive, but I have an AppleCare warranty, so I am confident that Apple will eventually replace it with one of those new PowerBook G3s. I managed to escape with only minor head injuries, and David was kind enough to take this photo for me.

It's me. I'm alive.

The moral of this story: Don't skip out on work when you should be writing the March/April issue of the Ambrosia Times. A building might just blow up with you inside. And you might get a head injury and discover pretty nurses taking care of you. And your PowerBook 3400 might get toasted. And you'll never find out what was at the end of that really hard part of level 7. That's the part that really kills me.

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