It’s time for answers. After thirty three weeks, and a mentally scarred Snake, we’re finally going to understand what The Question Mark has all been about. I’ve been ill again, which explains the two-day delay. Once you know, there’s no going back, and there’s still two more chapters to come.
Previously: Snake has woken up in the past on Shadow Moses Island and events are supposedly repeating themselves. After an unexplainable series of events, Meryl and most others are dead leaving only himself, Ocelot and Otacon outside of the base ready to board Metal Gear Ray as part of Ocelot’s mysterious plan. Snake has stated that he will only go with Ocelot if he is told what is going on.
Disclaimer: This story contains violent scenes that some younger readers may find disturbing. Many chapters contain detailed scenes of gore and peril. If you haven’t played the Metal Gear series, there will be spoilers in this story.
Ocelot stepped backwards in the shadow of Metal Gear Ray. He looked up at its awesome structure, towering over Shadow Moses Island. He also knew Snake could kill someone else with his robotic fist, and it could reset everything. Ocelot had thrown his gun far away. He didn’t intend on shooting either of them, and neither did he want any of the two men using it against him.
“Give me your word.” Ocelot asked.
“You have it.” Snake spoke slowly and quietly.
Ocelot took a long sigh and began taking steps towards Snake. Snake turned around to watch him. Snake had no intention of killing the man. Ocelot’s sigh was depressed. He didn’t like to hand out answers so easily, and he thought Snake would have figured it out already.
“When was the last time you called Mei Ling, Snake?”
“I… I haven’t… That’s irrelevant.”
“It’s more than relevant. It means everything”
“Let me put it like this. You die in a place you didn’t before, and you appear back in the past able to continue past the moment you lost your life. Sometimes you only go back a short while, others you go back very far.”
“And you haven’t called Mei Ling.”
“Are you seriously kidding me? You haven’t worked this out yet?”
“What the hell is going on?”
“None of this is real!” Ocelot shouted happily.
Ocelot laughed. “It’s all just a huge joke. This whole… place.”
Tears lingered on Snake’s eyelids as Ocelot began to make sense.
“Put it all together you fool. Everything here is fake. From the air you breathe to the ground you stand on. It’s digital, it’s wire-framed, it’s programmed.”
“You refuse to believe it? Just look around and tell me what you see. A dead man-turned-robot. A bipedal tank. Me, you. We look old. We look exactly the same as you did when you decided for whatever reason to stick a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger. And thank God you did.”
Ocelot stretched out his arms in ironic gratitude.
“None of this would have been possible without you. Kill yourself where you shouldn’t and we all get a second chance. You have no idea how much work I’ve put into this.”
“…I can see.”
“No you don’t! You haven’t noticed at all! It’s all the S4 Plan! The Solid Snake Simulation Sustainability Program. That’s what I like to call it. In reality, I have no control over it. It has its own rules. Its own controller. Its own ideals. Programmed fate. But it doesn’t have details. I had to make them myself. If you suspected there was something different, you could have turned back. Let you think you’ve got a one-up over us and you remain in control. Because it’s not just about simulating the same events, but seeing if you’ll believe it despite the obvious madness of the situation.”
“So are we really in the past? If you had to recreate events?”
“… God knows.”
Snake looked up.
“Programmed fate. What a joke. You think I liked the idea? I had to get Vamp in because he was the only one I knew wouldn’t die until years from now. If Mantis was right, then at least I had a backup. Mantis was the one hell bent on keep details exactly as they were. He moved Wolf’s body.”
“This is madness.” Otacon spoke quietly.
“This is a game.”
“I refuse to believe you.” Snake interrupted.
“Every person’s death is meticulously written, coded into a given timeframe. They simply cannot exist out of that time because the rules haven’t been written for them to be there. That ninja dies in Rex’s hanger. That’s where his scripted death is written. Surviving that, he started to break down. He was a paradox. Similarly, we just died, if you hadn’t noticed. But the clock got turned back. We were given a new chance to stop the events that lead to our deaths the first time. You call it fate. I call it a curse. Hearing computer code coming through your codec? I hear it too. It’s a result of a burst transmission made that simply doesn’t exist in the original program. It’s a virus.”
“Does that mean Meryl’s still alive?” Snake asked.
Ocelot took a digital camera out of his pocket and threw it at Snake.
“Take a photo.”
“Just do it.”
Snake pointed the camera away and took a picture.
“Now look at the screen.”
There was a pale image of a man smiling in the emptiness of the snowfield. Snake looked up: no man there.
“They created this place.”
A teardrop splashed on the camera’s display screen.
“I think I’ve explained everything.”
Ocelot approached Snake, ready to knock him out and take him aboard the machine.
“Ooh, one more thing. Years from now. Years and years and years… you remember that gravestone? Could you shoot yourself there again please? I liked that. Thanks. Actually, if you don’t… just don’t. None of us want that.”
Snake’s vision went black as the butt of Ocelot’s pistol came across his face.
“Where am I?”
“You’re in the hull of Arsenal Gear.”
Snake looked around. All he could see were cushioned walls, caging him in small, but brightly lit room. Ocelot watched though a CCTV camera as Snake tossed and turned, realising he wore a straight jacket.
“What the hell?!” David shouted.
“Thank you for your understanding. I needed to ensure that you wouldn’t do anything crazy.” Ocelot’s voice came through on the intercom.
“You mean you don’t me to kill myself and risk you having to restart all of your work?!”
“… Have you heard yourself lately?” Ocelot spoke.
“… What? Where’s Otacon?”
“Apparently we’re all in some computer program.”
Ocelot was trying to mess with Snake’s head.
“You’re insane.” Snake shouted.
“Who’s which side of this door?”
Snake thought for a moment.
“You told me the truth. Why are you lying now?”
“What’s to say I’m lying, Snake?”
“You… you don’t want me to linger on the thought that we’re actually in a program…”
“This is all real, Snake.”
“…But why is that? You’ve locked me away in a place where I can’t harm myself, sure, but why feed me lies? Why now?”
“You’re insane. Take your meds.”
Two white pills had been placed near the door.
“…Because… because I’m the only one keeping us all here…”
“Have you heard yourself lately?”
“I’m the glitch. I’m the one thing that’s wrong. I wasn’t supposed to kill myself in that graveyard.”
Ocelot threw in no reply. The room began to rumble.
“No…” Ocelot spoke through the intercom. “You can’t…”
“What? What’s happening?” Snake shouted back, scared.
“I thought he’d react the same as all of us. No one told me this would happen. How is this possible?” Otacon spoke to someone else outside.
“Someone get this man under, please!” Snake could hear the muffled shouts of Ocelot outside. “Get here now! I want Snake unconscious!” The door was being unlocked. Ocelot was coming in to knock Snake out to prevent him thinking any more.
“I… I’m the glitch….”
Ocelot burst into the room with a clenched fist.
“I’m the one who broke the rules. I killed myself. I’m the glitch in the system.”
Ocelot stopped. He couldn’t move.
“No…” he began.
The program had moved elsewhere in the storyline and Shadow Moses Island no longer needed to exist.
A cold wind passed through the room, yet there was no source of air.
“Stop it. Stop it now!” Ocelot shouted.
“I don’t know what’s happening!” Snake replied.
The walls around the two men broke apart. Cushions combusted and melted into themselves. The rusting metal hidden beneath cracked, and dented outwards before patches began flying away from the room filling the space with daylight. The walls around them rumbled.
“I said stop!!! Please! Please stop!!” Ocelot was crying.
“What the hell is going on?!” Snake replied back.
“Ignore what Mantis told you. Just ignore it!”
The room around them literally fell away the same way rooms had changed in Mantis’ visions. The entire metal structure rose out of the water and tore itself apart below them. In the distance, a green glow appeared from the middle of the island, and both Snake and Ocelot fell through the empty, dead air to the ground below. The exterior sections of the complex were falling in on themselves and the sound of churning metal rang out across the island as Shadow Moses began to implode on itself. Every exterior outpost bent forcefully towards the center of the island before cracking and flying off into the horizon. Snake looked up as the world around began to fall into itself.
The tunnels into the base collapsed flat in front of him, throwing out clouds of dust which soon changed course back into the island. Every part of the metallic structure crumpled down on itself and rocks began flying past Snake. Ocelot had regained his movement and his hair blew violently in the virtual wind as he moved towards Snake.
“Make it stop!” he shouted above the sound of compression.
I don’t know how!” Snake shouted back, laughing.
“Kill yourself now! While we have a chance!” Ocelot called.
The hills around them began folding into the center point of the island, forcing down into an infinite point, and the ground beneath them shook, moving inwards. The ice melted, and the seas lifted before dipping back down to reveal a fully intact submarine that slowly moved towards the island before hitting the water’s edge and flipping over Snake’s head, flying into the point of no return. Snake’s codec screamed. In the distance, a tsunami formed, and the dooming wall of icy water blocked out the digital sun on the horizon.
Both Snake and Ocelot were knocked off their feet, dragged by the force of the generated black hole towards the center of the island. Ocelot fell towards the new center of gravity and grabbed Snake’s foot.
Ocelot made pathetic attempts at punching Snake’s leg. If Snake died, the two could avoid the impending doom and go back in time. It was a risk, and they could both wake up before any of the events occurred, but it was safer than facing this.
Snake took off his glove to get a proper grip around something.
The force grew too strong, and Snake’s sweating fingers were slipping on the surface he had taken hold of, with Ocelot holding onto his leg now floating in the air. Distorted screaming filtered through his codec as he closed his eyes and let go, flying towards the centre of the island.
The glitch took effect.