The Let's Play Archive


by gatz

Part 12: No Gods No UIWVMXW

Update 11 - No Gods No UIWVMXW
We've raided TransTech (not completely) and found a ton of quest items. We have many options as to which quest we should wrap up first. I'm going to do one that you all probably forgot about.

Yeah, remember Zeus? We met him in cyberspace, and he said he wanted to kick our ass irl. One time, a guy on the internet gave me some address in chicago and told me to come fight him in real life after we had a disagreement about radiohead on some internet forum. Let's see if internet tough guys have beefed up a little in 2094. Stark is feeling mighty strong after sacking the headquarters of future Manhattan's most powerful private tyranny, so this shouldn't be a problem. Hopefully.

Looks like we've been had, folks.

Maybe we have. No internet tough guy in sight. Funny how Stark can just get into somebody's dorm room without any trouble.

Location posted:

The room is neatly and orderly, hardly the sort of chamber you had imagined for the 'awesome' Zeus.

There is a person in the room, however.

Paula DiMigglio posted:

A New York University sophomore is hard at work studying at her desk. She is slight of stature, with an innocent, intelligent face.

Could it be?

Sorry, I'm looking for someone by the name of Zeus.
You're lookin' at him. You gonna fight me, Stark?

Shock the matrix! The internet tough guy was, in fact, an internet tough gal. I'm glad to see some cyberprogress.

You seem to have lost a certain intimidating quality.
Well, Stark, you're onto my secret. It's true, as Zeus, I'd heard about your work in the net. I saw what you were capable of, and I needed to ask your help. Since I didn't have any large sums of money to lure you here, I thought the next best thing would be a challenge. Primitive, yes, but it works on your type of guy. Of course, all I can offer you now in exchange for your help is the promise of information. HOT information on TransTech. Could you help out a fellow decker?

If we choose no, that's it and we can't do this sidequest. She just tells us to get out.

Thank you, Stark. I need you to help me rescue a good friend of mine, Banks Verbatim. Banks was into something big in TransTech's system, something about the design of cyberspace itself. He wouldn't tell me exactly what it was, but I tried to crack his code to the WELL where he hid it. All I know for sure is that all the N's are L's. Well, Banks got reckless and they caught on to him. He was doing some sim pirating at Paragon Virtuals, easy stuff, when TT snagged him in a data cage. I used to go in there to grab a diversion from time to time. We all did. Their cyberaddress code is practically public knowledge--SOFTBALL, and the entry code is NINJA. I know you could use the information Banks was on to. All I want is Banks back. Please do what you can.

Something related to the structure of cyberspace? This sounds interesting. And it involves a data cage? Sounds like Banks should have checked himself before he decked himself. Lucky for us, we just happened to get the only data cage key that exists in BloodNet just a little bit ago. Also note that "all N's are L's". I'm sure that won't come up again.

Paula's dorm room, which happens to be a whole lot bigger than the double I'm in, has a cyberspace port. It's the future version of an Ethernet port: NYU dorms come standard with them. I'm sure Paula won't mind if we deck up.

The writers threw us a softball by giving us the code, instead of some sort of puzzle to figure it out.

Sorry Paragon Virtuals ICE, we're in cyberspace. Don't you know that reality is a social construct, anyway? The Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity proved it.

Location posted:

Your data angel spins through the virtual beams and spans of a data cluster. You are nervous. A person with Hopkins-Brie Syndrome shouldn't be in cyberspace. You gamble that your neural implant can hold out while you take care of business.

We better do this quick. It's not like we've been in cyberspace multiple times for extended durations or anything.

That tenticle thing is a data cage. Odd that they chose something so organic looking. Banks is caught inside of it.

This is weird. The game's files say that the text here should be: "Helpmeyoumusthelpmereleasemebodyweakcagedfordaysnofoodboxdecay. . . " but it looks like the coding fucked it up. BloodNet, ladies and gentlemen. The voice actor says what appears in the game's dialogue files.

Slow down. Your transmission rate is too fast. My unit's parser can't keep up.
Speed is my only hope. I've been in this cage for days. Usually, the Company just erases your deck's memory and releases you, but they've got plans for me. My body can't sustain itself much longer, and my soul box matrix is decaying. If I were a samurai I'd already be dead. They should have come for me by now. They can't just mean to kill me like this.
No one on the outside knew you were decking? You're that reckless, you deserve what you got. If Zeus hadn't happened across you, you'd be doomed. You still might be.

How stupidly reckless! Stark is much smarter than that. That time in Tackett's apartment never happened.

I didn't intend to interface for long. I'd just decked to check some collector traps I'd laid in the area. Then I noticed an enormous distortion in the ether. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen, as if a data entity of vast complexity and intensity had passed through. It was too unexplainable. I had to scope it out, and that's when this cage snared me. I'm gonna die! Soon. Either my mind or body will go if I'm not released from this cage. Somewhere in TransTech headquarters or cyberspace there must be a key of some kind to undo this thing. Save me. I'll make it worth your while. But hurry. I can't last more than another day.

So we'll use that data cage key.

If we were ever caught, which will never happen since we've got balla decking equipment, we could use that to get out of any cage.

Another clue similar to the one Paula gave us. Hmmm. Let's deck out.

I am, as well. We'll head there right now, but Central Park is on the way, and we've got a quest to finish there.

I'm not an amateur. Like you promised, I expect to be able to deck from here whenever necessary. And, you owe me information.
I'll take the cable, and you have my word that once we have our system on-line, you'll have unlimited access to it. As for information, Jason is prepared to brief you. Speak with him.

Take Object posted:

Kimba West takes the Fiber Optic Cable

All right, Jason. What ICE-shattering knowledge are you going to lay on us?

they even have a weakness. I know that each drone regularly links to a central computer for servicing and program updating. This common link with a single computer may be a weakness, but I don't know how you'd exploit it.

Why, BloodNet, why?

Got anything else for me?
I should think that enough, but you have done us a valuable service. If you know the streets as well as you appear to, you've heard the rumors about Praxis Engineering's wireless decking unit. The rumors are true. It was only in the conceptual stages when I was booted, but the design work should be completed by now. They may even have begun production if they caught a few breaks.

This wireless decking unit is another unimplemented feature, among many others. I think that the wireless effector we found in the last update was supposed to be a component of it.

Thanks for the tips. I just might be able to profit from this.

The writers are laughing in our faces. Speaking of writers, there are two people that are credited for both game deisgn and writing (with no one else being credited for either): Laura Kampo and John Antinori. In fact, the game files containing the dialogue are actually named JOHN.TF and LAURA.TF. In the following two years after BloodNet, the two went on to play a part in developing both Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller, and the Bureau 13 video game. Monomania in video game form.

Banks' hunger should be sated by now.

I guess so!

I barely knew the guy. I wasn't a part of whatever he was into.
Is that so? And I suppose that when my men search you they won't find a decking unit? You are not a so-called "data angel?"

Am I using this slang correctly, youngster?

Tell you what. You let me back out of this door, and you'll never hear of me again.
I won't be hearing of you again, but you are not leaving this room without my permission. In fact, you'll never do anything again without my permission. I cannot tolerate unsanctioned decking. Your ilk believe you have a right to explore any computer system you can access, to copy and distribute any information without regard to whose effort and money produced it.
Your effort didn't produce anything, you fascist.

That's right, Stark. Seize the means of cyberproduction!

No, but I am paid well by those who do produce the systems you routinely violate. There are rules we must all follow, young man. Even information--especially information--has rules of access and usage. Your friend here would still be alive had he recognized that.

He doesn't seem to understand how the capitalist mode of production functions.

What have you done to him?

Did you see the body on the floor? What do you think they did?!

Regrettably, we killed him. But that wasn't our intention. We were about to release him from his data cage. People are much easier to interrogate after seventy-odd hours in cyberspace. But somehow--maybe this is were you came in, eh?--he escaped from his cage. His body suddenly came to life. He produced a small firearm from somewhere in his clothing and begin firing at us. We returned fire, of course.
So you screwed up. You killed him before he could tell you what you wanted to learn.
That's why my eyes lit up when you entered the room.
What now?

He's going to take you out for a night on the town - flatter you into helping him. Again, it's completely obvious what he's going to do!

Your friend Mr. Verbatim somehow acquired a fragment of the cyberspace source code. By itself it is probably of little use to anyone. Still, the Company would rather it not be at large. Before he died, Mr. Verbatim revealed an encrypted code which, I am certain, hides the address of a data WELL where the source code fragment is located. The encrypted code reads "MNQUQTIVM VJM UIWVMXW." Eventually, we could decode this, but your presence will save us a great deal of effort. Are you prepared to help us?

Thanks for conveniently giving us the WELL address before we agreed to help. He's like those bad guys in poorly written movies that reveal their master plan in its entirety to the protagonist, who then goes on to use that knowledge to completely thwart the villan's plan, resulting in the villain's capture or death. These writers weren't any better. Let's see what Stark says if we agree.

You leave me little choice, I guess. I'll need a few things first: a code breaker's lexicon and a better palmtop than the one I have.

Palmtop? Those shitty little computers from the 90's? Did anyone ever use them? I guess the writers thought they'd be hot shit in 100 years.

You are bluffing for time. I could decipher it myself with a code breaker's tools. You are truly an unlucky man to have burst in here when you did. Another half an hour, and we would have been gone. Kill him.

We have four enemies to deal with. From left to right:

This fight goes on for way too long. Most of the enemies are wearing armor that's resistant to Hi-Tech Weapon damage, which most of our party members, the exceptions being Max Bax and Stark, are dealing. Plus, both Max Bax and Stark keep constantly missing for some unknown reason. Their stats are good enough where missing should be a rare occurance, but here they do it constantly. The fight ends up lasting 8 rounds.

The reward is junk equipment to sell for money that we don't need.

Megacorp pigs. I don't even feel a twinge when one of 'em buys it.

Now we can explore the place uninhibited.

Location posted:

Bank's Verbatim's blood drains into an open pipe in the center of the room. You saved him only to send him to his death. [Like we knew that was going to happen!] His apartment--more like a warehouse than a home--is crammed with equipment and computers. You have little trouble believing that Banks could locate the cyberspace source code.

Hoarders must know what's up in cyberspace. That's the only conclusion I can come to.

There are three items on the ground waiting to be picked up:

Diagnostic Unit - We bought one of those to make the electronic lockpick.
Energy Interface - This is a component of the Bio-siphon (a useless biotech weapon), Inert/Rad Suit (which isn't explained anywhere in the manual and I've never jury-rigged one), and the Arno Suit. The arno suit is described by the manual as such:

The Manual posted:

Arno(ld) Suit: Increases a character's strength by 50%.

It, like the Inert/Rad suit, can only be aquired through jury-rigging. I'm interested to see if it actually works.

And lastly, there's a Dragon Soul Box slightly obscured by a shelf in the background. That'll go right into Starks' deck.

Now, we've got a nonsense well address: MNQUQTIVM VJM UIWVMXW. This turns out to not be valid. But we've also got two clues that can help us make sense of it. Paula Di Maggio told us that "All the N's are L's." Taking that into account, we get:


That didn't help much! It only changed one letter! But wait, Banks also gave us a clue: "All the M's are E's."


There are no more clues in the game to help us, so it's up to us to do it ourselves. How many three letter words can you think of? How about ones that end in E? The one that is used most frequently is the word, THE. If we substitute all V's as T's, and J's (there's only one) as H's, we get


or, more simply,

EL_____TE THE ___TE__

That first word is looking like it could be eliminate. If that is the case, then Q's are I's, U's are M's, T's are N's, and I's are A's.


BloodNet desperately wants to be anti-authoritarian, so that last word must be masters.

Fuck that puzzle. That took a while to figure out.

After a search, we find a file.

Source Code posted:

A fragment of exceedingly complex computer code that is a fragment of the cyberspace source code.

Exceedingly complex? We know just the guy to help us with that.

Part 2 posted:

If you come across any computer code that you don't know what to do with, we can probably help you. Bring it here.

We should take Penn Martinez of the Houston Matrix Rovers up on his offer. On the way down there, we should probably tell Paula what happened to Banks.

Maybe I'll see you in the net again, Stark. Right now, I'd like to be alone.

Well that's a little somber of an ending to that part of the side quest. Can Penn brighten our day up?

fragment of cyberspace source code.
Shock the matrix! Let me see that. I don't want to overstate the possibilities of this, but depending on what precisely this is a fragment of, this could be potent. We'll all have to take a shot at this, but Reflex should get first crack. Show it to him. Be careful. This could be worth killing for. Company could come gunning for you.
Appreciate it, pal.
I don't need to know the whole score here, but I know you have a vendetta against the Company for what they did to your head. You aren't doing something drastic, are you?

Like raid the headquarters? No, never.

I'd like to see the headquarters aflame and the Star Chamber hanging from the light posts on Broadway, but I'm not a suicide jockey. I move against the Company, I do it for profit, not revenge.

Is antihero even an appropriate title? Stark sometimes has good goals, but he has them for the worst reasons.

Oh yeah, you're into something. I know you too well for you to lie to me. Here, this might help you down the line. It's an innoculator program, effective against over two thousand computer viruses. I'm copying it into your deck's memory. You might try talking to Trammell over there. He regularly scans some of TransTech's internal bulletin boards. He's picked up on some strangeness in the Star Chamber. He can explain it to you better than I can.

That explains Starks' dialogue from earlier, where he told Rags that "Penn told [him] that [Rags has] been collecting whispers about the Star Chamber", but it baffles me how out-of-order it was.

Give Object posted:

The Innoculator is placed in your decking unit's memory.

That just might be helpful.
Larry's hip-deep into digging our next series of WELLS. Ones we got have been up long enough. Company's due to detect one soon.

What? That doesn't follow from the conversation you were having. Anyway, Reflex might be able to tell us more about this code.

Few dead guys thought it was. The Company's hot to get it back, but it's just a random slice of code as far as I can tell. I don't see what even you guys can do with it.
You wouldn't, Stark, but then you wouldn't know Notional Labs' work from the code for a tic tac toe game.

He says this even if your decking skills are as good as they can be.

If the fragment's substantial enough and from an important module, we could learn something. You know, if it's just from a text editor, frag it, right? Who cares? If this is from an architecture generator or virtual graphics spawner or something big, look out. You say the Company's killing to get this back?
Yeah, but they would want it back even if it was a text editor. They wouldn't want to set a precedent for this sort of thing.
Leave it here. We'll all look at it. I've got mathematical optimizer programs and permutations generators that can suggest the directions in which this code could possibly lead. That will get me started. Could take some time, but if the fragment's about anything important, we'll get to it. Don't look too excited about it. You might have just handed me the means for ending TransTech's death grip on c-space, and you look like you've just given me half-dozen donuts.

No, he actually looks like he just told a joke and is waiting for a reaction. Actually, knowing Stark, he looks like he would if he pushed a kid down on the playground.

You think this is that important?
If it allows us to learn how the Company fabricates cyberspace, yeah, it's that important, which is why External Security will probably fry us on sight if they find out we have this. Who knows, Stark. You might go down in history as the techno-clod who accidentally liberated cyberspace.

Too bad we'll never know more about this. I'm not kidding. It's never brought up again. On a lighter note, we have a quest item to give to Hakim. He was looking for that Praxis 3000, and we found it at TransTech.

The only other thing to do with the deck is to sell it, so why wouldn't we say yes?

Give it here. Let me see. This is the real thing all right.

Take Object posted:

Hakim Maghsoudi takes the Praxis 3000.

So now I have a Praxis 3000, but I still only work with Cisco. You want me, he comes along too. Bring Cisco here and you have us both.

If we want to revive Charley Flyer (and it's appropriate to now reveal that Charley can join us if we revive him), then we need to recruit Hakim. To do that, we need to go to the Abyss and recruit Cisco. After we recruit Hakim, we can get rid of Cisco, if we'd like. For now, we'll head to the Abyss.

Oddly enough, we aren't given a choice. I saved before this happend, so if what I think is unlikely to occur, and the thread doesn't want to recruit Cisco, and thus doesn't want to revive Charley Flyer, that's a viable option.

Cisco is pretty unremarkable. He's just another fighter, and his clothes are the same as Garrick's.

Hakim is a different story. In my view, he's one of the best party members you can get.

I think I've seen his clothes somewhere else before.

Another funny thing is if you examine an item while in his inventory screen.

The colored border happens with every party member, but normally it's just another dull looking color. Here, it become awesome.

So we've got two votes to make. First, do we recruit Cisco? If we do, who does he replace? Then, will we recruit Hakim? Oddly, if we do, we can replace Cisco with him and it's fine. So, who will he replace, if we do? We're missing one last piece of Charley Flyer's mind, but when we get it we'll go back to the hospital.

Main Quests
Bring Chuck (Electric Anarchy) the TransTech list of Deirdre's associates
Incriminate Walter McCalaster for Bill Dougan, in order to help Mother Mary
Kill Abraham Van Helsing
Visit the Red Crosse Knights (175th Street)

Side Quests
Collect the other one piece of Charley Flyer's mind
Coover Tristan (Kafka Conspiracy) wants us to non-violently steal a multi-channel transmitter from the Icon Robbers and bring it to him
Cyril Thorpe (Cafe Voltaire) wants us to put something he calls "the possession" next to his physical form
Find more shit for Larisa Mayne (Plaza Hotel) to cure her madness
Bring Bertrand Foucault (Plaza Hotel) the blood-synthesizing nanotech
Find out what's up with the two pieces of the amulet we are in possession of
Bring Shock Maraud the Rimbus Database
Meet Emily Esaki at the Hellfire Club
Lazlo (Lazlo Green) wants to destroy the Morph Spawner from the BLACKWOOD WELL

Tit for Tat
Phree Taught (Electric Anarchy) will trade sleeping gas for a dragon soulbox
Collect $10,000 from Phracktle K. Oss (Electric Anarchy)
Sis Konfigg (Doom Pilots) will trade a Level Four Cloak for the well address of the New York Bank
Wyche Gibbons (Museum of Modern Art) will trade $4000 for the book, Mystics of Catal Huyuk, from the New York Public Library

HOPE is Deirdre Tackett's personal WELL Held Tackett's journal
NOUN is Greenberger Phonomes (what's that?) WELL Held the Babel Code and a piece of Charley Flyer's mind
MEDIUM is Cyril Thorpe's personal WELL
TTHEAT supposedly holds TransTech records on "half the people in the city." Contained security files and a Security Cage Key
ZARATHUSTRA is Ludwig Sampson's personal WELL Held Sampson's text file
MAJOR is Lenora Major's personal WELL Lenora created a TransTech security imprint for us
MOZART is Notional Lab's WELL. It supposedly holds morph codes
ANTIBODY is Rimbus Pharmaceutical's WELL. Contained a piece of C. Flyer's mind and the Rimbus Database
BLACKWOOD supposedly contains a Morph Spawner. We need a specific essence to get in

New Location Gained
Banks Verbatim