Well, here it is! The sequel to Dead Space: Playing the Game. I know this is very fast, but I had started typing this chapter before I finished the first story, and since it was completed, I figured why not just put it up now. People have been asking about this one for a while, so here it is! :) The format will be the same from before, except with the obvious addition of new characters. If you haven't already, I suggest you go back and read the first "Playing the Game", because some of the references won't make sense unless you've read that one. With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this sequel, and once again, praise and/or constructive criticism are welcome!
NOTE: This is not meant to offend, nor is it poking fun at the tragic elements of the game.
WARNING: There are Dead Space 2 and some Dead Space 1 spoilers throughout this story.
DISCLAIMER: Everything belongs to Visceral Games and EA.
Italics- game dialogue (and just like the first story, "game" will be written in front of everyone's names to distinguish between the game and real life)
Wow, this is getting long now, so I'm going to stop here and let you start reading. Enjoy! :)
If there was one thing Challus Mercer wasn't expecting, it was his afternoon mail.
His day went normally, as usual: he meditated in front of a small replica of the Marker in the morning, went to the CEC, and then attended a Unitology meeting right after that. It was coming home that would be different.
The first thing Mercer noticed when he entered his small apartment was that his mailbox was slightly open due to the large amount of mail he apparently had. What the hell? He asked himself as he retrieved his mail for the day. There were the usual Unitology pamphlets and bills. That was no surprise. It was the thick package underneath the other items that caught him by surprise, especially when he noticed the return address.
Visceral Studios, he thought, I never thought I'd hear from them again. It had been almost a week since he had written to them, and he wondered what took so long. He immediately sat down, grabbed a letter opener, and opened the envelope, feeling eager over what he would find.
He would soon come to regret it.
Once he was finished opening the package, Mercer held up a neatly typed letter and read it a few times, taking in the response to his complaint list. At first, he couldn't believe it, but then, he realized everything was true when he retrieved the other part of the package.
"Oh…my…God," he petitioned under his breath.
The next day at the CEC office…
"Isaac! Isaac!" a familiar voice called out to systems engineer Isaac Clarke, who was just looking away from his computer screen as he typed in some coordinates for a new ship the CEC was building.
"Hey, Kendra," Isaac greeted as computer specialist Kendra Daniels barreled into the room, "What's up?"
"Terrence is back!" she announced happily.
"He is?" Isaac replied, getting up from his seat.
"Yeah, he flew in about an hour ago!" Kendra said, "Come on! The others are there and waiting to welcome him!"
And with that, Isaac followed Kendra out of the room and went to wait in the main lobby of the CEC. Zach Hammond was already waiting, as well as Isaac's girlfriend, Nicole Brennan. "Hey guys," Isaac greeted, "Where's Mercer?"
"He's on his way," Hammond answered, and suddenly, the doors opened, revealing their other friend, Terrence Kyne.
"Terrence!" everyone shouted, running over to him, holding up "Welcome Home" signs and hugging him, "Welcome back!"
"Ahh, thank you," Kyne thanked everyone, "It's good to be back."
"How was the conference?" Nicole asked, "Tell us everything!"
"It was good," Kyne explained, "Very good. 'Finding Innovative Ways to Improve the World'. That's what it was all about. Some of the most renowned research scientists were there."
"Ooo," everyone replied in fascination.
"Sounds great!" Isaac commented. That was when he craned his neck and noticed somebody else standing behind Kyne: a man with black hair and blue eyes.
"There's someone else here?" he asked.
Kyne blinked and then widened his eyes. "Oh!" he gasped, "Yes, yes, I was getting to that. I met a friend there. He's also a research scientist like I am, and he'll be staying with me for a while. It's part of a program we're taking part in from the conference." As if on cue, the unfamiliar man stepped forward.
"My friends," Terrence continued, "This is Nolan Stross. One of the top scientists in the country."
Nolan Stross, huh? Isaac thought as he shook hands with Nolan Stross, who seemed friendly enough, if not a little shy. "And these are my friends, Zach Hammond, Kendra Daniels, Nicole Brennan, and Isaac Clarke," Kyne said to Stross in turn.
"Very nice to meet all of you," Stross piped up, shaking hands with everyone in turn.
"So, Nolan," Nicole began, "What kind of research do you do?"
"Mostly government research," Stross explained, "But I can't say too much on it, except there are a lot of steps that need to be taken."
Probably some sort of energy research, Isaac thought.
"Well, it's good to have you here," Kendra said to the scientist, "And Terrence is a good friend. We'll all make sure you feel welcome here."
"Thank you," Stross thanked her, "It'll be good to look around for a little bit."
Suddenly, the door flew open again, and Mercer ambled inside the building, looking distraught over something. "Challus!" Terrence cried to the other scientist, "You're finally here!"
"Welcome back, Terrence," Mercer replied, shaking hands with his friend.
"Oh, Challus, this is Nolan Stross," Kyne said, introducing Stross again. The two of them shook hands.
"Pleasure to meet you," Stross said, glancing at his other hand, which was clamped around something, "What's that in your hand?"
Mercer perked up, as if he remembered why he had run half a mile from the parking lot to the office building. "You're not going to believe this," he puffed, "But look what EA sent me in the mail yesterday!" He held up a very familiar looking jewel case, and as soon as the others glanced at it, they felt surprise and dread creep through their veins.
"Oh…my…God," Isaac replied, "You can't be serious! What?" He snatched the case out of Mercer's hand and studied the front cover of Dead Space 2. At first, he wanted to believe that this was just a joke, but the longer he stared at the front cover, the more he realized this was all real.
"No!" Kendra and Hammond groaned, "There's another one? When did they make this?"
"Earlier this year, it seems," Isaac said, "I can't believe this. I just can't believe this!"
"Another one of what?" Stross asked, raising his eyebrows in confusion.
"Another Dead Space game," Hammond answered as Isaac handed the game over to Stross.
"Dead Space," he echoed, "Is that the game about the Necromorph outbreak on the USG Ishimura? With the Marker?"
"How did you know that?" Nicole asked in surprise.
"My wife, Alexis, saw ads for it and said she was never going to let our son play that game when he got older. We didn't know there was a second one, though. We don't even know the full story."
"You have a son?" Nicole asked, her face lighting up in happiness for a minute.
"Does everyone except for us know about Dead Space?" Kendra asked.
"I don't know everything about it," Stross assured her.
"You guys know what this means, right?" Isaac piped up. The others waited for his answer.
"Time for another party at my place!" he announced, "Do we want to risk everything and play Dead Space 2 now?"
The others looked hesitant at first. They remembered all too well what playing the first game had been like, and now there was a second one? "EA apologized and said they made corrections," Mercer explained, "I want to know what they meant by that."
"Then I guess I wouldn't mind sitting through another game," Hammond conceded, "Even though we're all dead except for Isaac."
"You're welcome to join us if you like," Isaac said, facing Stross, "Since you're staying with Kyne and all."
"Sure!" Stross replied, "I'd like to come by."
"If any of you guys have friends you want to invite over, you can," Isaac continued, nodding to the others.
"Will do," Kendra said, "So we'll all meet at Isaac's apartment later?"
"Looks like it," Hammond mused, "Dead Space 2, here we come!"
Later on that day…
"This is crazy," Isaac muttered to Nicole as the two of them opened Dead Space 2 and studied it, "Another game about us?"
"I wonder what corrections they made from the first one," the Senior Medical Officer wondered out loud.
Ding dong! "I'll get it," Isaac announced, leaving Nicole to finish setting up the Xbox 360 as he went to answer the door.
"Hey, Terrence," Isaac greeted, "Hey, Stross. Come in."
"You have a very nice apartment, Isaac," Stross complimented as he took his seat on the couch next to his friend.
"Thank you," Isaac thanked him, "We're just setting up. Help yourself to snacks and drinks."
The doorbell rang five minutes later as Stross and Kyne finished getting themselves situated. When Isaac went to answer it, he spotted Kendra and Hammond, as well as a man he had never seen before. The third man was slightly taller than he was and carried a serious air about himself.
"Hey, Isaac," Hammond greeted, "We're here. And Kendra brought a friend."
"He works in security," Kendra explained, "I told him we were having a party here and I invited him."
Isaac glanced up at the man and held his hand out. "I'm Isaac Clarke," he said.
"Hans Tiedemann," the man replied in a calm voice, gripping the engineer's hand, "Kendra told me all about you and your game. I don't know anything about it, so forgive me if I'm lost."
"It's okay," Isaac assured him, "Come in." Tiedemann nodded and followed his friends inside. It seemed like people from every single group imaginable were there: CEC, EarthGov, Unitology…it was mind boggling.
"We have another new guest," Kendra announced, "This is a friend of mine, Hans Tiedemann." The others quickly introduced themselves as Tiedemann opened a beer for himself and took a seat next to Kendra and Hammond.
"I've never seen a videogame about my friends before," Tiedemann commented, "Wasn't that strange the first time?"
"It was," Kendra said to him, "But after a while, you get used to it."
Five minutes later, the doorbell rang for a third time, and Mercer was on the other side, along with a woman dressed in blue.
"Hello," the Unitologist greeted, "I also brought a friend of mine."
"Daina Le Guin," the woman introduced herself before Mercer could get a chance to.
"Isaac Clarke," Isaac replied, "Nice to meet you, Daina."
"This should be interesting," Daina commented, "Looks like a lot of people are here already. I do hope this game is good."
"I heard it was," Kyne piped up from next to Stross, "EA said so."
Daina quickly introduced herself to everyone before taking a seat near Mercer, Kyne, and Stross.
"Wow, what a turnout," Isaac announced, "Is this everyone?"
"Almost," Nicole answered, "There's still one more person."
Almost as if on cue, the doorbell rang, and the engineer went to go answer it for the fourth time.
When Isaac opened the door, he came face to face with a woman he had never seen before. "Hello," he greeted politely, his facial expression changing as soon as he laid eyes on her.
"Hello," the woman echoed, "Is this Isaac Clarke's apartment?" She smirked at the bewildered look on the engineer's face. Isaac shook his head once he realized he had been subconsciously checking her out. Damn it, Isaac, he cursed to himself, Don't do that. You don't even know her that well. He hoped for a second that Nicole didn't notice anything.
"That's right," he confirmed, "I'm Isaac Clarke." From the look on the woman's face, he could only guess what she was thinking: Nerd.
"Nicole invited me over for the party," she explained, "I'm Ellie Langford. Heavy equipment pilot for the CEC. Class Four."
"That's right!" Isaac repeated, "She did mention meeting you on a lunch break a few days ago. Come in. You're just in time." Ellie entered the apartment, and the engineer knew that this was finally everybody.
After Ellie introduced herself to everybody, she sat down next to Nicole, who didn't seem to take note of what had happened before. "So," Isaac began, "Dead Space 2. You guys ready for this?"
"I think so," Hammond piped up.
"Bring it on!" Kendra cried.
"What happened in the first one?" Daina asked, "I'm not familiar with this series at all."
"Me neither," Ellie agreed.
"Neither am I," Tiedemann added.
"I only know some parts," Stross admitted, "Not the whole thing."
"Looks like there's some sort of recap video," Isaac said as he finally made it to the main menu for Dead Space 2.
"Previously on Dead Space," the engineer read.
"Let's watch it!" Stross suggested.
"Good idea," Kyne piped up, "So that we can all be caught up." Nodding, Isaac selected the recap video as Nicole shut off the lights yet again and took her place in between Isaac and Ellie.
The screen faded to black until a picture of a factory at sunset appeared. "Hey, that's you, Terrence!" Mercer pointed out as, sure enough, game-Kyne provided a voiceover.
"You're doing the voiceover?" Ellie asked in surprise.
"We were all in the first game," Kyne explained, "Let's try and hear it." Everyone quieted down immediately.
"By the twenty-fifth century," game-Kyne narrated, "Earth's resources were ravaged. Consumed. Exhausted."
"I think we get it by now," Daina joked tentatively, and everyone chuckled quietly as the video continued.
"Desperate and on the verge of extinction, we cast out into the void of space and discovered rich new worlds waiting to be cracked open, and stripped bare. All of Earth became devoted to this effort. The planet-crackers were built, the USG Ishimura the first and most famous. Planet cracking became routine. Its spoils kept us alive.
"Eventually, greedy eyes fell upon Aegis 7, restricted for centuries for reasons unknown. Greed and corruption saw to the demise of caution. There, buried beneath the surface, an artifact, the Red Marker. Long lost, and long forgotten. The religion I had once called my own had found its holy grail, the key to human immortality."
"This is crazy," Tiedemann whispered under his breath as screaming echoed in the video, showing flashbacks to game-Mercer murdering game-Temple.
"There you are, Mercer!" Kendra cried, "Remember that?"
"How could I forget?" Mercer growled as he touched his left eye, the one Jacob Temple had punched in their fight because of that very scene.
"It did not bring salvation. It brought doom. The Marker bred insanity, murder, and chaos." At this point, the head-banging man from chapter two made an appearance. Daina covered her mouth in horror while Stross, Tiedemann, and Ellie looked away. This was not what they were expecting at all.
"It bred Necromorphs. Those who escaped from the planet fled to the safety of the orbiting Ishimura. The scourge released upon Aegis 7 came with them. Within hours, the Ishimura went dark. The corporation dispatched a small repair crew to check on its investments."
"There you are!" Stross suddenly shouted as part of the original opening cutscene played, "You must've been surprised to see yourselves in the game."
"You better believe it," Hammond replied.
"Among the crew was an engineer: Isaac Clarke. He had something special aboard the Ishimura. In the darkness, Isaac found death…and the Red Marker. It was not holy. It was not alien. It was manmade, and it could be used to stop the outbreak. Isaac also found Nicole. Dead by her own hand, she was an apparition of the Marker. Isaac engineered his escape, but everything else was destroyed.
"Three years later, he wakes in a hospital on Titan Station, an EarthGov metropolis on Saturn's largest moon. Isaac has survived, but his mind is no longer sane. For the Marker changes all." With that, the recap video ended, and Isaac took a deep breath as he returned to the main menu.
"So," he began, "What do you guys think?"
Stross, Ellie, Daina, and Tiedemann didn't answer, for their mouths were dropped open in horror after the video ended. The others couldn't help but laugh a little bit, as they had had the same reaction.
"It's okay," Nicole assured them, "We felt the same way the first time."
"Let's start the game now," Isaac suggested, and with that, he selected the Single Player campaign, as well as the Survivalist Difficulty.
"Oh, God," Mercer groaned once the opening cutscene got underway, "Here we go again." Daina patted his arm gently.
After the title screen reading "Dead Space 2" appeared, a blonde woman followed suit. "Isaac, are you there?" she asked, "Come in, Isaac."
"Nicole?" Kendra gasped, "Is that you?"
"I think so," Nicole answered, "I look and sound different."
"Different voice actor, I guess?" Tiedemann guessed from next to Kendra and Hammond.
Another video log popped up, and game-Isaac appeared. He was lying in bed as he flipped onto his side and smiled. "Isaac!" Stross and Ellie shouted at the same time.
"Yep, it's me," Isaac announced proudly.
"Oh, God, I'm so sorry," game-Nicole laughed, "The time difference. I'll call you back later."
"No, no, no, it's okay," game-Isaac assured her, much to the shock of all the old timers in the room.
"Well, I'll be damned," Isaac said out loud, "I actually have a voice now! I like this game already."
"You can speak!" Hammond cried next.
"You didn't talk in the first game?" Daina asked.
"Not a word," Isaac told her, "Except for screaming."
"The silent protagonist, huh?" Tiedemann joked.
"That's definitely what they were going for," Kendra said to him, and they all quieted down as the cutscene continued.
"How're you doing?" game-Isaac asked.
"Good," game-Nicole answered happily, "You were right, Isaac. The Ishimura is a great ship. I'm so lucky to be serving aboard her."
"Enjoy it while it lasts," game-Isaac said, "They're gonna decommission her next year."
"Aww, you spoiled the moment," Ellie teased, smirking as Isaac rolled his eyes good-naturedly. He was still loving the fact that the game producers finally let him speak.
"Isaac," game-Nicole interrupted him, "Thank you."
"For…just pushing me to do this. I mean, if it weren't for you, I never would have made it this far, 'cause you made me stick with it."
Game-Isaac paused before replying, "Just remember, I'm giving you up for six months so you can do this."
"You know, we must be getting out of range. Isaac? Isaac can you hear me? I'll call you back as soon as I can. Isaac…"
The camera zoomed out until it showed a man sitting at a desk. "Isaac?" he asked, "ISAAC!"
Everyone jumped in his or her seat. "Whoa, no need to shout," Stross commented from the back, "Sheesh."
"Who's that guy?" Tiedemann asked Kendra and Hammond.
"No clue," Hammond replied, "He wasn't in the first game."
"You were drifting away for a moment there, Mr. Clarke," the doctor, Edgar Foster, continued, "I believe you were telling me about your nightmares that you've been having. About your dead girlfriend. What was her name?"
Game-Isaac shook his head before whispering, "Nicole."
Suddenly, an image of game-Nicole appeared. "I didn't want it to end like this," she choked, "I really wanted to see you again. Just once. I loved you. I've always loved you."
"Oh, yeah," Nicole mused as she remembered that video her character had made in the first game.
"Yes," Foster continued, "Nicole Brennan. She was a Senior Medical Officer stationed aboard a planet cracker-class vessel."
"The Ishimura," game-Isaac whispered.
"The USG Ishimura. Yes. Part of a mining operation on Aegis 7. I understand communications went down shortly after their arrival. You were part of the repair mission. A mission you volunteered for, am I right?" Game-Isaac nodded, and nobody in the room commented. All ten of them were so absorbed by the opening cutscene.
"What did you find aboard that ship, Isaac?"
Game-Isaac shook his head as he mumbled, "I found something."
"What did they find aboard the ship, Isaac?"
"Did you have contact with this Marker? It made you see things, didn't it? Things you didn't want to see?" At that moment, an image of the Marker appeared, as well as a bloody version of game-Nicole that was now climbing on top of the table.
"It spoke to me," game-Isaac answered.
"What did it say to you? What did it say to you, Isaac?"
"Damn," Kendra cursed, "This is some crazy shit." The others nodded in agreement.
Lights illuminated from game-Nicole as she whispered, "Make…us…whole!"
"Isaac?" Foster shouted, "Isaac, can you hear me? Isaac!" The scene changed until it showed a man shining a flashlight into game-Isaac's eyes.
"Isaac!" he cried, snapping his fingers, "Isaac, can you hear me?"
"Brother!" Daina suddenly cried out, "What's he doing in this game?"
"You know that guy?" Kyne asked in surprise.
"We've been friends for years," Daina explained.
The man in the game glanced over his shoulder for a second before speaking into his RIG. "Daina," he said, "I've found Isaac Clarke! Repeat, I have him."
"Great work, Franco!" game-Daina complimented much to the shock of everyone in the room, "Be careful! He's been out a long time!"
"Daina?" Mercer asked in surprise as everyone faced the blonde woman. She was staring at the screen with a perplexed look on her face.
"I'm…in the game?" she spluttered, "But…how?"
"Exactly how we reacted," Nicole assured her, "You'll get used to it." Daina was still thunderstruck, but she nodded all the same. Everyone continued to watch as game-Isaac started to regain consciousness.
"Good, good, steady," Franco said, "We've got to get you out of this straitjacket." Game-Isaac groaned and struggled to stand up.
"Where am I?" he mumbled.
Franco gripped him by the upper arms. "Listen," he started, "I know you're confused right now. I can explain everything, but you've got to trust me, okay? You're in terrible, terrible dang-"
Bam! Suddenly, a familiar looking proboscis pierced Franco's chest, causing everyone to gasp in surprise. "No!" Daina cried, "Franco!"
"And again with the black character dying first!" Hammond growled as he experienced flashbacks to his own game-character's death.
"Sorry, Hammond," Tiedemann and Kendra apologized.
"Not again!" Nicole groaned as Franco transformed into an Enhanced Slasher. Game-Isaac head-butted him and then took off down the hallway.
"Franco?" game-Daina cried, "Franco, what happened? Oh, God. Isaac! Isaac, if you can hear me, run! Run!"
"Run!" Nicole echoed, shoving the controller into her boyfriend's hands.
"Oh, shit!" Isaac cursed as he began to run, watching as Necromorphs popped out of every room around him.
"Oh, God," Stross whispered, "This is insane!"
One of the Necromorphs suddenly swiped as game-Isaac, making everyone gasp again. "Evacuation in progress," a female voice announced.
"Come on, come on," Isaac muttered to himself as he continued through the hallways.
"How are you running in a straitjacket right now?" Ellie asked in amazement.
"Because I'm still badass," Isaac replied, grinning as Ellie scoffed. He turned his attention back to the screen just as he made it out of the bloodbath. Once he ran through some double doors up ahead, a Necromorph suddenly leaped out of nowhere and grabbed game-Isaac.
"Watch out!" Tiedemann cried, but Isaac immediately began hammering the "A" button in order to shake the Slasher off. After another few seconds, game-Isaac managed to kick the Slasher off as it got sliced in half by the doors.
"So," Kyne started, facing Tiedemann, Stross, Daina, and Ellie, "Are you guys ready for this?"
Just like at the end of Previously on Dead Space, the four newcomers just stared at the screen in shock as Isaac went to save at the first Save Station. "Just what kind of game did you buy, Clarke?" Tiedemann asked.
"If you thought that was bad," Kendra answered before Isaac could, "Just hold on to your hats. That was only the beginning."