The Let's Play Archive


by gatz

Part 4: Roses are red. Blood red.

Update 3 - Roses are red. Blood red.

Stark has met some new friends.

Our party members will occasionally chime in from now on.

It's best to check out Tackett's well as soon as possible, which we can now do thanks to our party members. We know of two places with cyberspace access: Tackett's lab, and the Houston Matrix Rovers. We can talk to Hakim Maghsoudi now, so we'll head back to the rovers.

I doubt it. I doubt he said that. Seems like everyday we get a hustler trying to hire us. We're specialists now. More legit and very expensive. Don't like to judge by appearances, but you don't dress like you could afford me.
New line of work? Mind my asking?
Rescue work. Reintegration and reunion. Family members and loved ones of cyberlost deckers are willing to pay big for someone willing to jack into the net and look for the pieces.
I don't get it.

You should be able to, Stark.

Sounds like he might be able to fix Charlie Flyer. Too bad we don't know where he is, or where the rest of his pieces are.

So much for reforming. All that decking won't be legal. What's the wall you're hitting?
Can't get performance out of the Elite series decks. I need a Praxis 3000 or whatever they're using at TransTech these days, but that's taking time. Otherwise I'm ready to start. Maybe we could help one another. You come up with a Praxis 3000, I'm yours, no questions asked.

We can't just buy this from somewhere. We'll have to find it somewhere special.

Time to deck.

One screen down and we encounter a data angel.

Yeah, well, if you don't mind, I'll wait to meet him before I start getting intimidated.
Well, you have reason to be, believe me. He's done damage in here that's unprecedented. It's more than just phreaking with systems. He's actually into damaging angels in here, pulverizing their decking integrity. I mean, guys have found themselves broken up in the net just because Zeus didn't like their attitude. I'd stay out of his way if I were you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

We'll see if anything comes from that. Let's get into Tackett's well, thanks to our patch cord and new party members.

Welcome to Deidre Tackett's well. The only thing to do here is read her journal - that red circle. That's the visual representation for any type of file, from a piece of someone's mind to a text file.

Just right-click on it twice.

Tackett's Journal posted:

Hoping for answers, you read the entries in Deirdre Tackett's journal. Excerpts: "I fear they are close to discovering my location. What I cannot hide from the vampires, I am destroying. Oddly, I find myself relieved that the battle is over. My enemy is undying, and I grow old and tired." "Should anyone read this, they will know of the evil at the heart of TransTechnicals. They will know that I have warred against the vampire lord, Van Helsing. My efforts may be at an end. Others must carry on the fight."

The journal mentions the Red Crosse Knights, "a brotherhood of knights in the medieval tradition, the defenders of the faith from all enemies, especially from vampires." "Though possessing the means to slay a vampire, the Red Crosses lack the technology to challenge Van Helsing who rules TransTechnicals." The journal states that the Red Crosse Knights live at the Cloisters, located at the extreme northern end of Manhattan.

"The Incubus exists. I know this, God help me, because I programmed it. Incubus is the ultimate icebreaker program, a cyberspace pick lock nonpareil. With it Van Helsing could eradicate the underground, extend his influence beyond TransTech space and into the vastness of the global net. At all costs, he must be stopped." "To this end, the Lost Kids--a group of young people from the Greenwich warrens who have served as my constant aides--made the ultimate sacrifice. Without my knowledge, they forever abandoned their bodies and uploaded their minds into cyberspace. They have taken Incubus and no doubt dug a WELL deep into the matrix where they hope to hide it from Van Helsing . . . But these brave children can't long evade the Company. Someone must find them in cyberspace before Van Helsing does."

The journal also mentions a cybernetic engineer named Ludwig Sampson, a sometimes ally of Tackett's who she has not seen in nearly a year. She doubts he knows her current location. Sampson last had a lab near 125th Street.

If you scrolled past all of that, go back and read it. It's all important. We should probably visit Sampson before we bother with the Red Crosse Knights.

Unfortunately, this is the repeated formulla for cyberspace. Deck in, go to a well, pick up a file, and get out. Pretty boring. It could have been so much more, and there are references throughout the game to cool shit that's only made possible through cyberspace. Anyway, the only way we can leave the well is by going down. We don't need to take the journal with us, because whatever we leave inside a well will stay there forever.

A few screens over, we run across the only other piece of Charlie Flyer's mind found in the general plane. Now it's time to deck out.

Turns out that none of the back alley dealers we can go to have red lifters. We'll have to get the location of a drug dealer from someone. For now, let's go to the other place on the block.

Lash reminds us that we're slowly turning full vampire. Let's check our bloodlust.

Note that it's only 3:30 am. The amount of time spent traveling between locations does scale to the amount of distance traveled. I'm not sure what the exact formula is, but it's a nice touch.

16%. Well, at this rate something bad is going to happen. We've got to find some way to quench our thirst for sucking on necks. So about Cafe Voltaire.

You will learn to hate this place, as I do. First person to talk to is the lady in the yellow. Or maybe that's a burlap sack.

I'm not sure what that hat was supposed to be, but whatever. Next is the guy in the red.

Duchamp Pynchon is, of course, most famous for his painting, "Schwarzgerät Descending a Staircase, No. 00000". It's considered a classic of post-cyberism.

Can't say I've seen many bars like this one.
There is none like it, sir. None! It is people, mon ami, who grant life and personality to a cafe. And it is the people--who talk here ceaselessly, who drink absinthe cocktails, write poetry, experiment with technology, seduce one another with unbridled passion and imagination--who give this place spark.
I've always been suspicious of wordy intellectuals. They think they can justify anything if they cover it over in enough bullshit.

Hear, hear! Soon enough Duchamp will start talking about the wonders of Derrida, Lacan, Zizek, and other charlatans who'd probably love this place.

Ah hah! You have panache. You have attitude. Have a chair. Have a gin. There will be entertainment later. Ultraviolet will be performing instantaneous poetry fashioned on stage from words extracted from her subconscious by a neural implant of her own design. She runs the output through a graphics program that converts the literal meanings and emotional connotations of the words into holograms projected throughout the room. Not to be missed, mon ami.

Let's check that out.

Of course, mon amie. You should listen to the tindeck link for the, uh, "great" delivery by the voice actor.

I like my poem better.

As if they have a checklist
the writers of BloodNet insist
upon making name-drop after name-drop.

If they intend to impress
they do it without finesse
because there's more to a good reference than just a name-drop.

UltraViolet's dialogue if you refuse is good enough that I want to show it off.

Would you like to hear my latest poem? Please? I love to share my work.
Then, I'll tell you one anyway: "Roses are red, violets are blue. You're nothing more than a retentive, close-minded megacorp creep." Chew on that for a while, Mr. Mega-Establishment.

Yep, if you don't want to listen to her shitty poetry, you're part of the bourgeoisie.

Next is Xandro, and I'm pretty sure what he's wearing isn't any different than anyone else here.

Aren't you glad I supply these links so you can listen to the fantastic voice acting?

I'm not really up for that right now, thanks.
You're probably just not in tune to it. You need something to open your mind. A little piracetam would wake up your brain. If you want to specialize, I'm working on a combination of centrophenoxine to enhance intelligence and vinpocetine to boost memory. Of course, there're days when a whiff of vasopressin is all you need for a full day of learning, but on my last deck, 20 mg. of sulfutiame did the trick. The sheer quantity of information I brought back! And you don't need a Praxis 3000 for that kind of storage. It's all up here in the gray matter, friend.
Along with a lot of medical waste.
I take it mental fitness is not a subject of interest? Maybe something a little closer to home? Last aphrodisiac I mixed was a combination of biomocriptine and deprenyl that was out of this world. None of us left the cafe for two days. Listen, I mix only for myself, but if you're interested, I could get you the means to be your own medicine man. I've upgraded my equipment, looking to unload my old pharmaceutical kit for, say, 300 dollars. Interested?

We could mix red lifters out of Corticosteroid and Milacemine 27 -- no, I don't have any idea what those are -- but there's no point in buying the kit to mix shit together when we can just buy the drugs from the same person we'd have to buy the ingredients from. Why waste inventory space when you can just buy what you want from somewhere else?

This is the other part of the bar. Let's get to talking with everyone.


1 down: High?
2 down: Kaufsache?
1 across: U?
2 across: A drink?

Is that the most clumsy attempt ever of asking someone to buy them a drink?

Let's try to talk to him.

Actually, I've been trying to quit.
Your mind will be focused only on finding the unified theory. See the Nobel Prize in your hand. Read your name in the history books. You've got to want it.
What the hell are you talking about?
Open your mind. Let me in. I can help you. I sense that you're having doubts about marrying the man. Are you really ready for this? . . . Just think wellness; together we can shrink the tumor . . . Yes, you've got to admit to your department supervisor about the embezzlement . . . Why mess with a drug that isn't approved by the TTFDA? . . . Trust me and find the truth. Go back to vinyl. . .

Let's see if anyone knows what's up with Cyril, here.

We can step outside if you're that interested.
You're a real live wire, then? Despite what Jane Queen has been arguing, there are some in the Conspiracy who don't shy away from the more . . . aggressive tactics. If you are a man of the gun, I know some in the Kafka Conspiracy who would like to meet you. Interested?
I might be.
I can arrange a meeting. Be at W. 23rd and 9th street--take the W. 23rd Street subway stop. Someone will be there.

I suppose it's good to have as many contacts as possible, but we don't even know what this group that we've agreed to meet with is. Maybe someone else can tell us about them.

What's the Kafka Conspiracy?
Just fly in from Kansas, pale face? Conspiracy's working to bring TransTech down. Maybe the most serious challenge to the Company's monopoly on cyberspace, but I argue they don't take the challenge far enough. Yeah, I admit they phrack over some of the company's cyberspace properties--the sims pirating, public access WELLS. I mean the language conversion bugs they unleashed two years ago, yeah, that was hell on wheels, but it just annoyed the Company. It doesn't bring about information freedom any faster.
I agree. That's just hacking at the edges. You don't get TransTech's attention by costing them money. They just generate more of it. Only colors they stop for are red. Blood red.

All the sudden Stark is a committed revolutionary.

Sing it, brother! A bullet square in the eyes of one of the suits in the Star Chamber will get their attention. A tyranny's only as strong as the flesh of those running it. Punch a few holes in those bastards, and people will have the courage to demand their freedom.

I'm surprised that Max isn't chiming in. Let's continue.

Quite a bit to be interested in.
Be more interesting if he had any concept of politics and any facility for recognizing an enemy and fighting it.
Who's the enemy?
You gotta ask, you are the enemy. Companies run the net, and the net runs the world. They extend their control a little further every day. A flurry of notional patents everyday, companies and individuals leasing data clusters in ever greater numbers. You think companies like TransTech don't monitor everything that happens in the net?

Fuck bringing class consciousness to the masses.

You're preaching to the converted, sister. I've been a disgrunt for years, but TransTech's all over this city, all over the world. Hard to fight an enemy with that kind of scope. Believe me, I know.
He could. C.T. could do it. He has that kind of power. But, hell, parse this: The most important conflict in human history's being won by the bad guys, and a potentially powerful weapon for freedom wastes his time playing boy scout.
How's that?
He's the psionic ombudsman of cyberspace. People have problems--personal stuff: sexual dysfunctions, psycho disorders, driving obsessions--they jack into the net and let C.T. go to work on them. It's child's play for him to modify a human mind when it's rendered as a cyberspace data structure, a lot fewer barriers for him to penetrate.
He's that powerful?
People can't kick a narcotics problem? Maybe burning up on breathers? He can isolate the precise structures causing the addiction and excise them from a person without harming other facets of the personality. I mean, psychologists only dream of that stuff. He can modify or temporarily dampen any aspect of a human personality. What a weapon he would make.

Sounds like Cyril might be someone we should talk to. We've gotta find some way to interact with him.

The next guy we're going to talk with is named Gerry Soo. I'm not kidding. It looks like he's wearing those old-style 3D glasses.

If you listen to the tindeck link, he doesn't pronounce german correctly.

I'm not impressed.
You weren't meant to be. I said you were a curious one. You seem to be interested in our friend C.T. You should talk with him yourself. I've written the address to his WELL on this paper. If you have difficulty with languages, you should talk to Benny Puzzle. He's standing over there. He can help you translate my note. Benny speaks in crossword puzzle clues. Don't worry, you don't have to arrange the answers like a crossword. His "one downs" and "two acrosses" are just window dressing, but you do have to solve the clues.
Cute. It's in three different languages. Real cute. Maybe I'll just tear that deck off his head?
83 67 82 69 87 59 6f 75! He'll hardly be your friend if you do that. You don't want him as an enemy.

Apo123 posted:

This says "S C R E W Y o u". First 5 characters are decimal, the other 3 are hexadecimal.

Let's check out this note.

Gerry Soo's Note posted:

You burn with anger as you look at Gerry Soo's note. It is written in three languages. It reads: La curiosite seriez digne de recompense. J'admire ceux qui cherche la verite. Los poderes te Cyril pueden ses usados para bien o para mal. Welcher sacher du dienst, kummert nich nicht. Gip das wort mittler ein, um unseren geheimnisvollen freund zu tressen.

I'd love if anyone could actually translate this. While we're in the invertory, we'll equip Max Bax with a kevlar jacket and sawed-off shotgun

Rhymma Fizz with a kevlar vest and .44 Machine Pistol

Monique St. Clair with a kevlar vest and two laser pistols.

and Lash Givens with an Insul Suit (protects against radiation-based weapons, i.e. useless), and a laser rifle.

He also has a riot-stopper rifle in his inventory, but there's no point in using that.

Now we'll talk to Benny Puzzle again.

Gerry Soo said you could help me translate this message into English.

The voice acting here is good for a laugh.

What're you talking about? Oh, I get it. You're talking in crossword puzzle clues. Cute. What is it with you people in here and languages? Guess I have to figure out your clues and translate your sentences into real English.

Let's try it.

0 down: beer container = Cooler?
1 down: Zulu, Latin, German; (are my) = Languages?
2 down: medicine or law; (and my) = ... what?
1 across: a day in the _ _ _ _ of. (I) = Life?
2 across: done on the job; (for a) = ... huh?
3 down: i.e., TransTechnicals; (that) =

This isn't getting us anywhere. I'll give you all until the next update to try to translate the note. I assume it's written in Zulu, German, and Latin, but I don't know. There is another way that we can translate the note, but it's realy stupid.

We've got two more people to talk to.

What's the story with this guy? He's kinda bold to be decking in public. Looks like he's hot-wired that XC to hell and back.

This is probably one of the programmers who posed for that portrait shot.

Ace data angel?
Archangel ascending to heaven. He's a polycognitive, a cyberpsionic, combining natural psionic abilities with the capabilities of his deck. His mind's reflexively expansive--takes conscious effort on his part to contain it from interacting with other minds. I mean, he doesn't need cyberspace; his brain creates its own networks.
Damn. And he can hold it all together in c-space?
He's that disciplined, fascistic in his control. It's scary what he could do if he wanted to. That's why he sits without worrying about External Security. He augments his powers in the net so that he can scan everybody that comes in here. Thought shields ain't been invented that he can't penetrate. And we're his friends. We try to keep an eye on him.

Here's the last person to talk to.

This is the cardinal sin of BloodNet. While wanting to seem knowledgeable about radical politics, they erroneously conflate anarchism with chaos, bomb throwing, murder, etc.

I'm hardly certain what the Kafka Conspiracy is. Don't judge me by my looks, sweetheart.
Did he express ignorance of the Conspiracy? Feigned or genuine, but vigorous, yes. Did Joyce Reverb offer an explanation? Within the limits of her knowledge she attempted. She explained the shadowy nature of the Conspiracy, the imprecision with which even the size of the confederation can be ascertained, the anarchist precepts which they adhere, their insistence that information follow its inherent predisposition to be free, and their unrelenting and increasingly sophisticated strikes against TransTechnicals' previously unchallenged preeminence over cyberspace.

If we try to talk to her again...

Did he appear gracious for Joyce's help? His thanks and appreciation were negated by his reluctance to excuse himself from her company when the exigency of their conversation no longer was pressing.

Next time we'll get Bonton in our party. I swear.

Main Quests
Find the Lost Kids
Visit the Red Crosse Knights in the north end of Manhattan
Visit Ludwig Sampson on 125th street.

Side Quests
Leo Elvis needs a new pair of shoes body.
Collect the other three pieces of Charley Flyer's mind.
Visit Timmy Goldfarb down at the Autonomy Dogs
Penn Martinez will help us with complex computer code
Get Hakim a Praxis 3000
Visit the Kafka Conspiracy
Translate Gerry Soo's note
Get someone to vouch for us so we can talk to Lenora Major
Head to the Electric Anarchy

New Locations Gained
Sampson's Lab
Red Crosse Knights
Kafka Conspiracy