Part 11: Ahead On Our WayPart 11 - Ahead On Our Way
Time for another walk out on town. Maliit's tech store is right around the corner, so no reason not to start from there.
Welcome back! What can I do for you?
I'm looking for something that can play back a DVD/RW.
Ah, yes. Here we are!
[The dwarf wrestles a mid-sized flat-screen display out of the bin.]
This display has old enough hookups to connect to a DVD player. RCA, you know! Vintage.
It's like they say, there are three things that only get better with age: Wine, cheese and RCA connectors.
[She takes a deep breath and smiles.]
But you are not here for gossip. Shall we conclude our business? I could give you the display for... say... 200 nuyen?
Paul Amsel said to charge it to his account.
Ah! Very well. I will have it packaged up and delivered to Herr Amsel straight away. Best of luck finding your DVD reader! I wish you well.
While we're here, this is probably the best place to see if something can be done with that busted thing we found in the hotel vault.
I also, uh... "acquired" this broken drone. Can you get it up and running again?
Yeah, probably. It might take a bit of doing, though. I love working on these old corp drones. Can't make you any guarantees, but either way it's on the house.
I'll leave it in your hands.
I'll start on it right now. See you later.
Samuel's looking pretty good today, hope the whole shelter thing is shaping up well too.
Hello again, meine Freundin. What can I do for you?
How is Silke doing?
Let's hope so. Are you still accepting donations?
Our next goal is to fully stock the library. With 350 nuyen, we could make the purchase. Whatever you could spare would be most appreciated.
Same deal as before. Relatively speaking 350 nuyen is a smaller investment than 250 was last time so giving it up for a good cause is no big deal.
I've got you covered, here's the whole sum.
Happy to help, Sam.
It's a little depressing that ¥600 is enough to elevate us to practical saint status. Monika must've been slacking, seeing as how this place was practically under her care.
How's the resident grandpa troll doing?
Word travels fast around here.
Hell, an old man farts and the kids across town complain of it. You need something from me?
How are people handling the loss of Monika?
I think most are still in shock. But just you wait. That'll pass, and then the panic sets in. Few folks of any real discipline around here. Monika kept them calm, by keeping them safe. Now that she's gone, they're going to start realizing what a heap of misery this blasted city can be.
She really was like that one load-bearing pillar which brings the whole thing down when it breaks. It's very unlike the Flux State actually, influence doesn't generally accumulate in one place for very long.
And what about you? How are you feeling?
Exhausted by the prospect of change. Damned F-State.
Anything else you want to jaw about?
I'd like to hear a little more about you.
Let me guess. You want to know how I lost the legs?
Those prosthetics are antiques.
Biotech 3 choice here, though not a particularly important one.
Not like your modern cyberware, that's for sure. But few better options at the time. Lost the legs during the first Euro War, if you must know. In a bombing. Now you need something else from me?
Nope, sorry for bothering you. See you around.
Simmy's still in her usual street corner. It's not entirely unlikely that she's been there the whole time.
Maybe by face, if not by name. I'm Rosa.
By face, by name, by cry, or by song. Simmy Kim is what most people call me. They think I don't know why, but I do. Monika explained.
How do you feel about her death?
[Kim hugs her arms close to her body.]
Sad. She never got to have a family. She'll never get married. Never be a mother.
Seems she was a mother to the whole Kreuzbasar.
[Kim nods her head almost dumbly, her eyes unfocused on the ground.]
So uh, what have you been up to?
[The girl absently fingers the chipjack in her temple.]
I wanted to escape with the children, and the captain. We had to get away from the soldiers. Out of Austria.
I didn't want it to end badly, so I turned it off. Zaak sold me something new. In it, I feel strong. I have a son, and he's destined to save the world. I have to protect him, because the machines have come back to kill him before he can become a man.
Starting to detect a bit of a running theme here... Also, Zaak Flash is her BTL supplier, huh? Guess that shouldn't come as a surprise.
I'll... catch up with you another time.
We should probably figure out a way to help her before it's too late, but it's pretty obvious that won't be as simple as it was with Silke. She was clearly very fond of Monika so if even she couldn't get Kim to drop the habit, a simple pep talk from us probably won't do it either. I mean she must've tried her best, right?
But we'll move on for now, "on" being about five steps to the left. This trapdoor wasn't open last time, and in fact it wasn't open in the original Dragonfall at all. Only Director's Cut allows us to explore its damp depths.
It's not a bonus dungeon or anything though, just a small bar called "Der Weinkeller". Probably don't need to bust out the German-English dictionary for that one. The only real thing that stands out in this hole is the lady at the counter with a sword on her hip.
I don't believe that we've met. I'm Rosa.
Lucky Strike is a hireable runner and a pretty damn competent one at that. We might take a closer look at her when we head out for our next mission, though we're still always going to stick with our own crew as she has no dialogue during missions. As per her own words, she's "not the chatty type."
As a nice touch, hiring her at least once before talking to her for the first time changes the introduction slightly to reflect that you've met but haven't gotten the chance to talk.
Yeah, I know who you are.
[She takes a drag on her cigarette.]
How you holdin' up, champ? I heard what happened to your boss.
She wasn't just my boss, she was a friend. But it happens. Running the shadows is a dangerous line of work.
[She smirks, then lets the smoke escape from the corner of her mouth.]
Don't I know it. So... you need something? Or are you just going to stand there staring?
Why'd you bring up Monika? Did you know her?
Can't say I was a fan.
Huh, that's... a first, actually.
That's your prerogative. But then, you didn't really know her.
That's true. But I do have eyes, and I can see what's been happening to the Kreuzbasar since she got geeked. Whole place is falling apart, isn't it? And why do you think that is?
My guess would be that a variety of factors are to blame. But it sounds like you're going to blame it all on Monika.
[She smirks.] Ooh, touché. All right, let's assume that there *are* a bunch of different things going on.
Did she really make herself a leader, or did her charisma and skill at dealing with the Flux ultimately land her in a position where people with no one else to turn to naturally started relying on her?
[Lucky Strike taps out her cigarette and leans forward, a predatory grin on her face.]
You and your friends, you followed Monika, too. Obeyed her orders without question. Right?
Not without question, but she was our team leader. Of course we listened to her.
I've got a news flash for you, friend. Here in Berlin, teams don't *have* leaders. The very *idea* of a team leader runs counter to the spirit of this place. For such a rabid anarchist, your friend seemed awfully comfortable being in power. Kind of a contradiction in terms, don't you think?
That seems a little extreme in a profession like shadowrunning, but otherwise she's not entirely wrong - Monika did certainly enjoy a position of some power and influence while simultaneously advocating against the concept. However while Lucky Strike sees it as a sign of hypocrisy, another strong possibility is that Monika herself didn't even realize just how critical her role had gradually become over time. Or maybe she did but by then it was too late to back down. We'll probably never for sure.
Either way we've seen some signs that the conflict between her personality and her position may have left her incapable or unwilling of making decisions which ran counter to her beliefs, even when such decisions would've been warranted. A devoted anarchist in a position of control and authority is a bit of a paradox, and at the very least an imperfect match.
Yes, actually. All your points are valid.
Maybe not all of them, but this is the only choice which allows this conversation to keep going a bit longer so... what can ya do.
[She blinks.] Huh. I've gotta admit, I wasn't expecting that... she was your friend, after all. And you're following right along in her footsteps.
I don't put my friends on pedestals. Monika made mistakes, just like the rest of us do.
But then... why did you step into her shoes? Why are you making all of the same decisions that she did?
I'm not. But you're looking at this from outside. You can't see the big picture. Besides, I never claimed to be an anarchist.
Of course we're not Monika and hell, we're not even from Berlin. We're not here to lead anyone but our team, and we're certainly not here to impose our will upon the free people of the Kreuzbasar, but we have no qualms in taking direct action to change things for the better if it's in our power to do so.
We might've inadvertendly landed on Monika's position but that doesn't mean our path will be the same, despite what Ms. Know-It-All Glowy Face over here might think.
[There is a long pause. Finally, she shrugs.]
Fair enough, I suppose. But a word of advice: don't take too much on yourself. Spread the responsibility around.
Good of you to care.
Something worth thinking about to be sure. But for now let's move on, we've still got places to be.
We don't have any real business with Zaak, but we might as well drop off that formula we picked up while we're passing by.
Oh. Hey. You're back. Great to see you... what can ol' Zaak getcha?
I've got a formula for Jazz here. Can you produce something like this?
Oh, you know I'm your man. I can hook you up right now.
Speaking of Flash, maybe the doctor has figured out what's in the stuff. Let's visit the clinic next.
Welcome back. What can I do for you, my friend?
I found this schematic, seems to be for a Hyper auto-injector of some kind. Think you can hook me up with this chrome?
Hmmm. *Very* nice. The design appears to be simple enough. Yes, I should be able to provide you with this. It won't be cheap, though.
I'm not entirely convinced this'd be worth 2,000 nuyen and a slot even if we were in the cyberware business but hey, at least it's there now.
So, what was in that drug I brought you earlier?
Well... about that. I sure hope you haven't been taking that stuff.
Oh, no. Never. A friend of mine used it once.
I put a small sample in my mass spectrometer and I noticed a very curious odor. Quite sweet, in fact, but co-mingled with the smell of burnt plastic. I examined a bit under the microscope while it was running. My eyes came to the same conclusion as the spectrometer, though it did narrow down some specifics.
Due to the powdered sugar and glitter, though, I would imagine that you're getting less Cram than you would from a pure, uncut source.
The guy had plastic surgery done to look like an elf purely to boost his drug sales and is selling a mix of cram, sugar and glitter for ¥700 per hit? That's so hilariously audacious it almost flips around to being amazing. "Spirit residue" and "a secret blend of herbs and spices" indeed.
So, I probably shouldn't take this?
Right, I'll tell my friend it's not safe. Thanks for the run-down, Doc.
No problem. Let me know if you have any other health concerns.
Disappointingly we can't bring up the questionable contents of his namesake substance with Zaak himself. The weapons merchant Gunari Mettbach meanwhile has nothing new to say, so we next stop by the junkyard to find the scavenger Maliit mentioned.
...William? Wait no, sorry, dunno where that name suddenly popped up from.
Maliit tells me youre the man to speak to about DVDs.
That little shrew sent ya my way, huh? Will wonders never cease. Well, introductions are in order, I suppose. Schrotty Buchman, at yer service.
[The old man raises a grimy hand in salute.]
Need somethin' salvaged? Some old components, vielleicht? I'm indeed yer man.
"Vielleicht" is a uniquely German insult which roughly translates as "your face looks like a half-eaten Bavarian sausage left rotting under the sun for three and a half weeks."
...just kidding, it means "perhaps".
Wonderful. How about a DVD player?
Ah, here we go. An old Korean player that I dug up last week. 2010 model, a real beauty.
[Schrotty's smile broadens, and he gives you a conspiratorial wink.]
I fixed 'er up and got 'er runnin', but without any discs to read, I've mostly been usin' her as a paperweight.
Not so different from the way DVD players are used in 2018 then.
Sounds like what I'm looking for. How much do you want for it?
[He glances back at the DVD player, a rueful expression on his face.]
Well, I'll admit, I'm a little loathe to part with 'er... there're plenty of folks out there who'd really appreciate an older player such as this, and I don't know what your intentions are fer it.
That's ridiculous. I could buy a new tri-vid player for that!
We could pay him 500 right here and now which is so dumb it even shocks Schrotty himself, though not enough to stop him from taking the money of course. With 4 Strength we could just straight up rob the man, but that's a little rude and without Eiger we don't have the required muscles anyway.
Yeah, but you can get one of those anywhere! You ain't gonna find another of these anytime soon. But it's not like I get offers to buy these every day, so I'll cut ya a deal. How's 350 sound?
I'm short on cash right now. Could I offer you something in trade?
You get me a cup of Turkish coffee - the real stuff, not that fake junk - and I'll give ya the DVD player. Sound like a deal?
Deal. As it happens, I have a mug right here.
What a happy coincidence. Good thing he never specified it had to be fresh or warm coffee.
Aah, thank you.
[Schrotty gratefully accepts the coffee, then snaps the lid back and inhales deeply, wiggling his mustache as he processes the scent.]
Yep, that's the real stuff, all right.
Poor guy, his hard life must've done a number on his senses. But he seems content and isn't that what counts?
Great. A couple of more stops and we'll bring this back to Paul.
Stop one: The magic store. There are no new wares here but there's a little something we could try to figure out what the deal is with the weird eye lady.
Rosa. A pleasure, as always. What can I do for you?
There is no way this can go wrong.
Don't worry. The pain will fade, in time. I wouldn't recommend doing that again, though.
You don't need to worry about that. I won't try to read your aura again any time soon.
[She nods.] Believe me. It is for the best.
Never thought I'd say it, but talking to Aljernon feels downright safe and comforting right now.
Hello again. May I help you?
I have a question for you, if you don't mind. Have you ever heard of a gang called the Kreuzritters?
We can bring up this topic because we heard about them from Glory earlier.
Sadly, yes. They are quite active here in Berlin. They're fascists, plan and simple. They cling to Christian doctrine to justify their actions, but they are killers first and religious fanatics second.
It's 2054. Haven't we gotten past this kind of thing?
I wasn't talking about the cruelty. I was talking about the religious fanaticism.
Ah. That is a more complicated question, albeit a loaded one.
If complicated questions require complicated answers then we're definitely in the right place.
We stand in a country that has clung to its religious heritage with considerable zeal. In much of the developed world, the Awakening shifted public perception away from organized religion, but here in Germany it had the opposite effect.
Makes sense, it's a pretty safe choice with spirits are all over the damn place.
And what do you believe?
He has got to be doing this on purpose.
In my view, all belief systems are essentially different ways of interpreting the same thing. Magic is an underlying force of the universe - it is a fundamental truth. Religion is the lens that societies use to focus the enormity of that truth into something that their people can understand.
So you think that the world's religions are wrong, then.
Did I say that? No, young human. If anything, I am saying that all belief systems are equally valid. After all, they are all different interpretations of the truth. And how can the truth be wrong?
I don't buy any of this. We're dealing with fundamental contradictions here. If one philosophy says that there's no God, and another says that there are hundreds of them, they can't both be right.
Lots of weighty topics today.
It's a conundrum, to be sure. The world's great religions have been struggling with it ever since the Awakening.
[He offers an apologetic smile.]
This is a problem that I cannot solve for you, young human. You'll have to find your own answers.
Right. Going back to what you said earlier, what is the source of magic? Where does that "truth" come from?
A relatively frank answer from the man, considering what a great opening for some cryptic bullshit we just handed him.
Intriguing. Well, you've given me a lot to think about.
It was my pleasure. Now, is there anything else that you need?
Yeah, I wanted to buy something.
Since we have a little more cash on us now, we pick up the spellcaster outfit we skipped last time. It doesn't look that great, but we can use the stats.
The young girl outside Altuğ's cafe wasn't there before, but this isn't the first time we've seen her either.
Depends. Is there anything I should be looking for?
[She titters.] Volunteering information? That's bad for business! Unless Altuğ wants me to tell you something, but that's rare. I'm just his ears and hands outside of the cafe - he's got enough of a voice all by himself.
Well, you'll most likely hear instead of see, if you haven't already. Or I guess you'll see if you're tripping on something wiggly.
Yeah, he definitely doesn't seem to be afraid to use that voice of his.
Pissing him off can't be worth it. And at the very least, you won't be able to get good coffee in this town again.
[She grins cheekily.]
So what's the story between you and Altuğ?
[She grins again and winks lasciviously.]
Oh, surely you've guessed!
You're not serious.
Haha, I can't pull a fast one on you can I?
While this is technically the end of the conversation, we can just talk to her a second time right away.
Hello again. I hear you've been busy.
Gossip travels fast, doesn't it.
It's not gossip! It's work. Survival, really.
What makes it that you need to survive working like this?
Intel is important, but that should be a lesson for when you're older, don't you think?
And what does THAT mean?
Chill, I only meant that it can be a hard life for a kid.
[She grows quiet for a moment, briefly looking down at her shoes before looking you straight in the eye.]
Yeah. It can be. But it's better than some other lives.
We haven't been here for very long, but that much has certainly become clear already.
We leave her to her information gathering and step inside the cafe. We could use a new cup of coffee, plus Burakgazi might have an update on that weird conversation we partially overheard while flushing those data taps.
Altuğ! I have been waiting for my coffee for nearly an hour already! Are you growing the beans out back?
[Altuğ shouts.] Cant you see that I am speaking to an honored guest, you tower of quivering corpulence?
There's nothing quite like the warm feeling of a close-knit community.
[His voice lowers again.]
Now then, as I was saying, we were fortunate that you happened upon that surveillance tap when you did. The people on the other end were planning a very bad thing, to be sure.
Very bad thing?
But Monika was a stabilizing force. And not just because she was dangerous. She was smart, and funny, and wise and she had a way with people. They wanted to support her, to follow her... because they loved her.
Monika might not have done a perfect job at being a hands-on leader, but despite Lucky Strike's criticism about leadership in the Flux it's plain that she was able to do far more good than harm here.
When she was killed, it left an opening for others. It would have meant bloodshed and pain, if this council had been allowed to continue their plan. But they did not. We saw to it, you and I.
What happened to them?
Another +1 Karma in the bank for our invaluable eavesdropping service to the community.
Now, what can I do for you, efendim? Would you like some coffee, perhaps?
Yeah, give me another cup of the real stuff.
A coffee in one hand and a DVD player in the other, we make our triumphant return to the safe house.
Rosa. Have you procured a DVD reader?
I have, it's right here.
Well, don't keep us in suspense. Start the damned thing already.
Rosa went to the trouble of fetching everything. Let her do the honors.
Sorry Dietrich, but you'll have to stay in suspense for a while longer because we've reached the end of this update.
Next time: Watching TV together! Don't forget to bring snacks.