I remember the day I heard Borderlands 2 was coming out. Just as the trailer had said, I joy-puked my face off. This wasn't some childhood thing. I was just wildly addicted to this new, "shoot and loot", laugh your butt off gameplay; where nothing mattered, and everything was just good, clean(ish) fun. When the midnight launch finally came to my town at the local Gamestop, my dad and I were already in line, hyped beyond belief and ready to melt some faces. We scampered home with the game and a copy of the cheat sheet book. We sat down with all the caffeine and sugar we could find and (once we worked out the splitscreen) began eagerly playing the new installation in the series.
Flash forward to just last week. I had given the console a rest, and was thoroughly enjoying match after match of League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, or any of those good ol' free to play games. It was two in the morning (because what gamer has time to sleep?) and I was getting my butt handed to me on a silver platter, bells and whistles included. As I threw my hands up in frustration for what seemed to be the umpteenth time, I noticed my quiet little dust covered Xbox, unused since my father's internet was shut down, and we only played splitscreen anymore.
I immediately left the match I was in, much to the dismay of my all-sniper team, and grabbed my shiny black controller to get to rolling some skulls. Upon booting up, my Xbox told me that I needed to update, or I would be unable to play online. So, like any person I spammed the 'A' button until the update was over and quickly selected the play option from the Xbox dashboard.
Just like old times, the same familiar skag getting hit by a bandit vehicle. I decided to watch the cutscene for old times sake, and for the bitchin' music that came with. Upon reaching the title screen I pressed start, selected my save device, and was sent to the game menu. My eye caught on a new DLC that had arrived, and I was eager to play it. I downloaded it straight from the menu and decided to get a roll on. Starting it in UVHM (ultimate vault hunter mode) I realised my wimpy level fifty character wouldn't cut it, and checked out of the game immediately.
A little depressed the DLC was too tough, I decided I might try it with a lower level character on normal mode rather than True or Ultimate mode. Unfortunately, the only character I had close enough to this state was a level twenty-eight Assassin named Hunter (after myself, as well as my favorite class from Borderlands one), just barely away from the end of the campaign on "Where Angels Fear to Tread", the mission in which you *SPOILERS* must kill The Angel, who is revealed to be Handsome Jack's daughter, and a Siren...a true angel of sorts. Close enough I thought, I'll just finish out the campaign and I should be high enough level to take on the DLC.
All went well, I levelled up by the time I had destroyed BNK-3R, and was sitting at a pretty level twenty-nine, having just unlocked a new skill, and using it to tear up enemies with a newfound ease. As I descended the elevator to Angel's chambers, everything ran smoothly, the cutscene revealing the angel and then leaving the room into a huge, awesome fight. I noticed, however, that while the sound clips of conversation between Jack and Angel were usually clipped and sounded just a little choppy, now they were running flawlessly and sounded almost organic.
I pushed the thought off, believing it to be an update, and enjoyed it without suspicion.
As time went on and the final eridium injector's shield dropped, I decided to have some fun, and spent some time trying to aim a Tediore reload at the injector (for reference, Tediore guns are reloaded by throwing the weapon. the weapon explodes on contact with an enemy, or after a short time, and you will simply spawn a new gun of the exact same kind). I finally made the hit, and with the final eridium injector gone, I watched as Angel descended to the ground and began to make her final speech.
"Dad...You're an asshole"
I laughed a little at the time, having been used to the scene but I quickly sobered. As Angel's body went limp I heard the strangest thing. It sounded like the strung out sound of a heart monitor connected to a dead patient. The one you hear in hospital dramas. That one. Long. Beep.
I was so shocked I dropped the controller. Where the heck had that come from? That had never happened before!
I gave myself a few moments to breathe before I grasped the controller again. Can't be anything TOO weird right? Though I still didn't understand why it had had such a great effect on me, I felt as if I knew that sound. Not from cheesy TV shows, but from real life.
I finally guessed it was just a dramatic effect added by the creators, and carried on. I finished out the next few story missions, destroying the Boom Bringer and killing the bandit boss. I travelled, once again, to the Arid Nexus and finished off the spoiler-y details there before I was finally ready to head to hero's pass, the last mission in the game.
When I re-entered the eridium blight, I got the message from Handsome Jack that autoplays there. "You feel that? That electricity in the air when you're just aching to murder someone. Haven't felt that in such a loooong time." However in the background I heard the same Flat-line audio tune accompanied by a fire alarm.
What? A fire alarm? And what was with that Flat-line again? Why was this all so familiar?
I was deeply bothered, but I kept on playing anyhow. I had nothing better to do and if I tried to sleep I'd just think myself to death. The game from here progressed naturally. I entered Hero's Pass and began slaughtering enemies left and right, giggling at some of the hilarious ways I was taking the Hyperion infantry down. Though, at the same time, that same thought kept creeping back into my head. Why was this familiar?
I finished out the area and entered the lair of the Warrior. Things still continuing as regular, however, just as the fight with Jack began, the fire alarm and flat-line sprang up again, constantly and louder than ever in the background of the fight. That's when things began flipping out. The gameplay remained the same but the audio completely cut out other than the flat-line, fire alarm, and Jack's voice over and over again repeating "You pulled it, you pulled it, you pulled it..." in that creepy, half-demonic, half-hilarious "Youtube poop" style of rehashing existing audio to make new words. "You pulled it, You pulled it, You pulled it..." Until the moment when a Jack clone caught me off guard and put me into Fight for Your Life. (a pre-death process where you can revive yourself if you get a kill).
As I crawled after the Jack clone firing clip after clip of ammunition I began to get hopeless as the noise began to consume me and my time began to run out. "You pulled it, you pulled it, you pulled it..." Was all I heard as the screen began to go black until suddenly I was back on my feet as Zer0 (the assassin) rattled off a one-liner. Suddenly Angel's voice blared over the game "STOP!" Every sprite in the game stopped. Even the lava that surrounded the arena had stopped flowing.
"Angel!" Jack cried again angrily with the clip this time from during the mission "Bright Lights, Flying City".
"This is all my fault!" Angel's voice sounded slightly evil this time, tainted and angry.
"What the hell are you DOING Angel?" Jack cried.
At this point the Xbox shut off with a final clip of "I'm sorry" from Angel's voice. Had they just had a conversation? What was all this about "You pulled it"? The fire alarms? The flatlines? Right then my mind exploded.
When I was younger, my parents would take me to work with them if my brother couldn't babysit. This wasn't so bad as they worked at the same hospital. One such night, a commotion sprang up down the hall, and both of my parents were rushed away to help. During this time I was alone and had been told to sit still, but what child EVER does that?
I hopped off my seat at the TBI station and noticed a large, red pull lever on the wall with the instructions "push in and pull down". I was too young at the time to care about the possible consequences. I reached my little hand up and pushed down the handle. Immediately, the loudest alarm I'd ever heard rose throughout the entire hospital, and just afterwards from down the hall I had heard the not-then-recognized sound of a flatline, all too real for a child who knew not what it was.
I grasped at my chest, gasping for air as I used my other hand to slam down the silver button on the Xbox controller, turning the Xbox on once again. The system immediately flashed to the scene in the lair of the warrior where I had left off, except Jack was already dead, Loot scattered the ground, and in front of me lay Jack's mask. I moved toward it, and the message attached had changed. Where it usually informed you how to use the item, it now held five words, "I'm sorry for my father".
As I looked around more I saw the fading face of Angel smiling where the Warrior usually rose, and I noticed that, aside from the fact that I was now level thirty-two, the loot surrounding me was considerably rarer. In fact, they were all legendaries with the same text, "Thank you for releasing me".
After collecting the spoils with my *cough* not modded backpack, I teleported to sanctuary before saving and turning off the console.
Like a lightning bolt I shot to my Laptop and began searching. I had pulled the fire alarm so there would have to be a police record somewhere. It only took me a few minutes before I found a newspaper article. I read in horror, the text before me.
"Young Girl Killed in Accident"
"Fourteen year old Angela Martin was killed today during an incident in which a fire alarm was pulled by an unidentified person, causing a nurse to slip up and shut down her life support by accident. Her wounds beforehand had been grave, and she was already considered terminal by the doctors present so no charges have been pressed. The father, who was her only living family member, killed himself later that day."
I fell back from the computer, shocked and distant.