The second beta test has come and gone, and I've got the map pretty much the way I want now. I'm just going to run the final compile when I upload this update, then I'll probably release the map tommorow.. err, tonight (it's now 12:30am, Friday).

The map will be titled 'Moonlight Assault' and Vigilante was kind enough to write me a background story to include in the text file - but here it is a little early to get you started:

"We are taking a few hours break now. My feet are burning, as we just

walked for over eight hours. I'm not sure how Jones can manage though. He's in pretty bad shape, but the lieteunant is pushing us forward. He thinks that even this is a waste of time. He says that we should be nearly at the pickup already, but that's just madness. It would take at least two days for a troop to travel from the valley to the pickup. And yet we have managed to get this far, on foot, in 32 hours. And not only that, but we have had all the wounded to carry. There is a great deal of walking to be done though, until we can reach the hills now seen on the painfully distant horizon. I just hope that our ship hasn't arrived at the pickup already and left us stranded down here. But as I haven't had the time to write anything in nearly a week I might clear some things up. Especially why are we here. I can't beleive it has been five days already, it feels like it happened just few hours ago...

 We have had troubles ever since the initial landing. I hear that the

commanders didn't have much faith in our side's ability to penetrate the castle to begin with. Our chances of actually finding the rune and escaping alive were even worse. Doomed right from the start. First the pods from Mickey's squad deviated at least 15 klicks from their assigned location, landing the whole squad in a distant swamp. We managed to keep radio contact for only a few hours. Captain Rodgers didn't tell us what had happened, but I think we all knew that it was just as well. The day after that our camp was assaulted by a pack of fiends. They broke through the outer barrier in a matter of seconds, hitting our main encampment. Eventually we managed to drive them away, but with considerable casualties. Many worried wispers made there way though the camp that night, after the attack. The men knew it was unusual for fiends to appear in such a large pack, and to seem so organised in their attack as well.

And still our bad luck continued. Two days after that a large

contingent of Quake's troops ambushed us while we were traveling. We had come to a narrow pass between two steep hills. Captain Rodgers sent scouts to the hills, but they never came back. The lieteunant still wished to travel that way though, as it was the fastest way to the castle we were supposed to siege. Our long line was cut in three parts, the last one totally annihilated in a few short moments. I was in the leading squad, and we kept our ground pretty well, until one of the grunts got a lucky shot at Captain Rodgers. After that our lines broke. Then the lieteunant ordered a retreat. A few groups made it back from the 2nd and 3rd ranks, and strengthened our numbers. But most of the force didn't manage to break through The Horde. The lieteunant kept our lines together, and we succesfully escaped the ambush. It was obvious that we couldn't siege the castle with these numbers, although Ensign McKenzie wished to take a few volunteers and still proceed to the objective. I was very surprised when the lieutenant agreed.

Well, we kept radio contact for only a couple of days. Ensign

McKenzie's small squad was against vast odds, and it wasn't long before they had been all but obliterated. There were some distorted messages that said one of the men had fought very bravely, keeping the squad alive and planning the attack even after Ensign McKenzie's death. We didn't get his name, but I believe he was their last survivor.

After that we got to a beautiful valley. I'm sorry that we couldn't

stay there for long, as it was a welcome change from the seemingly endless wastes, but we had to get to the pickup as fast as we could. The lieteunant kept us going 20 hours each day, giving us only two two-hour breaks. There was more waste to cross, but not anything like the first. Soon enough we had entered another valley where we stayed a while, bandaging our wounded and burying the dead. We had some time to prepare, but the first of the Horde was closing in behind us.

Fortunately they didn't attack in great numbers, seeming disorganised,

and they were easily defeated. 32 hours after leaving the valley, crossing another blasted wasteland, our goal was in sight. Somewhere in the hills on the horizon was the pickup point. With over two thirds of our force wiped out, there was no hope for us to regroup and return for the rune. Ensign McKenzie's squad had given us something to hope for while we concentrated on getting the rest of our force back to saftey, but even the strongest of us cannot place that hope on one lone surviver...

It is 5 minutes to departure now. We had just reached the beginnings

of the hills when we stopped to rest. The scouts are just returning now, and they've brought bad news. There is a large force directly in our path. By the looks on their faces I am not sure if we can reach the hills in time..."

- John "Cannonball" Velasquez, last journal entry

You will play the part of the lone surviving soldier from Ensign McKenzie's suicide party. It's up to you now to take on the forces guarding the castle and retrieve the rune single handedly... (isn't it always up to you? =). See you soon.

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