Part 16: Back to BusinessPart 16 - Back to Business
Hello, and welcome back to Dragonfall. Before we get into the update proper, let's take a small step back and see how things would've ended up in the Trial Run had we gone for the somewhat short-sighted yet satisfying choice of siding with the foreign elf upon his having had enough of James' shit.
I'm with you, pal. To hell with the Lodge, and to hell with this run.
The elf stabs the sneer elemental to death so hard his leg spontaneously explodes. Children cheer, birds sing, a clogged toilet on the first floor suddenly clears itself without anyone quite knowing why. A good time is had by all.
The rest of the mission progresses much the same as before, though we obviously skip the camera planting part and proceed directly to murdering our way through the Knight-Errant squad waiting outside.
And so we once again arrive at the U-bahn station, though this time in rather different circumstances. There'll be no call from Luca this time around, so we sadly can't tell him to stick his dumb sunglasses sideways up his urethra.
Sorry if I put you in a bad spot, but you can see what kind of people the Lodge are. I can't justify working for them.
Well, isn't that nice for you? You had a *choice.*
[Her voice is full of venom.]
What choice do I have now? The only reason I'm even *here* tonight is because I owe the Lodge a debt. This was my one chance to pay it off, and now I *can't,* and they won't forget that.
Things branch here, depending on if the elf survived the return trip. If he did not then the conclusion is as follows:
You could come back to the Kreuzbasar with me. I'll keep you safe.
They got to you, same as they got to me. You wouldn't be here if they didn't. I won't be safe with you. I won't be safe *anywhere.*
Well, then, what are you going to do?
I don't know. I'll have to figure something out.
[She hugs herself and turns away.]
Leave me alone, please. I'll get the next train.
Let me help. I can protect you, Jana.
You think that I feel safe with you? I just watched you kill a guy who was on your own team!
He deserved it. James was a bastard.
[She struggles to calm herself.] I have to deal with irritating, insulting people every day at work. I don't like it, but I don't *murder* them! Sane people don't *do* that! I'm not going anywhere with you, Rosa. I'll figure something out on my own.
If that's what you want... but I'm telling you, you're making a mistake.
Yeah, well, it won't be the first.
And that's that. There are of course other dialogue choices not impactful enough to show off, including telling her you really don't care what happens to her and that hey, getting involved with such a dangerous organization means that all of this was really her own fault anyway.
Now if the elf is alive, Lana's lamentation regarding her impending doom gets a response from him instead.
[Jana blinks up at him, but holds her silence.]
See? You'll be just fine with this guy. It all worked out okay in the end.
I don't even *know* "this guy." And no, it *won't* be fine. If I go with him, I'll be leaving my whole life behind.
<You leave... things. Not life.>
[After a long pause, she looks back up at him and nods.]
Once an organization like the Lodge gets its hooks into you, it never lets go. If you think that finishing this run would've changed anything, you're fooling yourself.
Jana can't really catch a break no matter how things end up, but maybe this way things ultimately end in a slightly more hopeful note for her. Or maybe they both get murdered before they even get off the train. Life's unpredictable like that.
The last potential route to show off has Jana die in the escape while the elf survives. Upon arrival at the station:
[The elf studies you, his arms crossed over his broad chest. His expression is neutral.]
Well, we're out. No more James, and no more Lodge.
[He holds his tongue, still examining your face. A long, awkward silence descends over the both of you.]
Um. Pity about Jana. I wish that we could've gotten her out, too.
[He continues to stare. Eventually, he seems to come to some sort of decision. He nods once, then drops his hands to his sides.]
So... what're you thinking of doing next?
[Without a word, the elf hitches his weapons over his shoulder. He steps past you and boards the train.
With nothing left to do here, you follow in his footsteps.]
The chemistry is palpable. As one final thing, this conclusion to the mission nets you a different loading screen description:
And indeed with this route the whole Lodge business ends here and Luca, together with the promised payment, will have disappeared for good.
But that was not the path we chose, so let us return back to our reality where only the elf died and we completed the job successfully.
We only get measly 2 Karma from this one, presumably due to the mission's status as an extra one only added in Director's Cut. Shops have also not gotten any new wares and only a couple of people have new things to say compared to before.
But first, let's head for the café to properly wrap up this unpleasant business.
You son of a bitch. You never said anything about a bomb!
Plans changed. They sometimes do. Nature of the business.
[He reaches into his pocket, and produces a slim plastic rod. A credstick.]
Is that going to be a problem for you?
Ultimately we have little room to argue though, we can tell him to fuck off which he will, but with our payment and all future Lodge stuff in tow. We could also tell him we can't be paid enough to violate our own principles, but that promise is maybe a little too lofty for us to make considering our profession and situation.
...No. If I'm doing runs for you, you're the boss.
That distinction belongs to my organization's ruling council. I am a go-between, nothing more. This is not a business for bleeding hearts or free-thinkers, Rosa. The people at the top of the ladder are the decision-makers. People like you and me are nothing more than convenient sets of hands.
Yeah we kind of figured that part out already.
If you work for my organization, you may be asked to do things that you find morally troubling. Sometimes, it might even appear that we are lying to you. But you can take comfort in knowing that everything that we request of you is ultimately for the greater good.
After what happened tonight, how can you expect me to believe that?
I suppose that we are asking you for a leap of faith. That leap will be well-rewarded, of course. Just imagine the good that you could do with the money that we're offering you. You could make a real difference in the lives of the people of this Kreuzbasar, if you felt so inclined.
That's not an answer.
Well that changes everything, I can't recall anyone powerful ever attempting to accomplish "social order and stability" by questionable means in the past.
[He stares you in the eye.]
What do you think of all this?
At the end of the day though, business is business. As always we should at least keep our options open, we do need all the support and allies we can get.
I don't like being kept in the dark, but if you pay as well as you say that you do, I can overlook it.
So what happens now?
Now, we part ways. Don't worry - I'll call you when your services are needed.
[He taps a neatly-trimmed fingernail against the earpiece of his commlink.]
When I contact you with a new task, the choice of whether to take it or leave it will be yours. If you take it, return here and I'll pay you a fair sum for your services. If you leave it... well, there are some in my organization who will be quite unhappy.
There are no further Lodge-exclusive missions, but instead certain runs will have alternative ways to finish them which'll net an extra payment upon completion. These alternative ways are pretty much always doing something shitty in order to serve the Lodge's interests instead of your own or even your client's. Completing most of them nets you a bonus reward at the end and completing all of them an achievement and the firm knowledge that you're a bad person.
I can't promise you that I'll always be able to accept every job that you offer me.
Understandable, but I would strongly advise compliance whenever possible. There is always some margin for extenuating circumstances; we are nothing if not understanding. But abusing that margin would be unwise.
Let's hope we don't regret this decision...
And how's our local incomprehensible mystery entity doing? No not you Aljernon
Welcome back, Rosa. You are always welcome here.
[She pauses for a moment.]
It's the funniest thing. When I look at you, do you know what I see?
And then I hear gunshots, and they bring me back around to the present. A strange dream. I wonder what it means...
Um. That was an... awfully strange way to open a conversation.
Pretty sure that was just a scene from Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden.
Was it? Then I am sorry. I didn't mean to offend.
[She looks away.]
I merely comment on what I see.
Well that sure was... enlightening?
But we're not here to just listen to cryptic prophecies which may or may not be related to our future missions, we also pick up a couple of basic spells since we have the money and slots to spare.
Now you may recall that we wasted some money on a piece of cyberware we'll never use during the previous mission and had it sent to our shady neighborhood doctor. Let's find out what exactly it was that we bought.
Welcome back. What can I do for you, my friend?
I had a piece of headware shipped here. Could you install it for me?
[Ezkibel takes the purchase order and scans it over.]
Oh, yes... yes, this arrived just this morning. I can certainly install it for you, but it won't be cheap.
But I already own the cyberware! Shouldn't that entitle me to a discount, or something?
I won't charge you for the device, of course. You already own that. But if you want me to put it into your head, it's going to cost. Period.
All right, fine. Let me see how much.
The answer is "hella much". Even for deckers and riggers who use Intelligence as their primary stat, the Encephalon NEXT is a pretty questionable purchase because raw Intelligence is just not that useful. It also requres switching to an eye- or hand-based datajack due to it occupying the head slot. It makes a comeback in Hong Kong where it provides a more useful +1 Intelligence & +1 Decking instead, though it retains its fearsome price tag and money is pretty tight in that game.
"Simmy" Kim is one of the few people around with something new to say.
We could all use a little sun down here.
It's not literal sun, silly. It means tomorrow will be a better day. Monika used to say something like that.
I've lived many lives, but I've been an orphan more times than anything. It was the first story I found when I needed to get away.
Anybody ever try to get you off the sims?
But I need them! Monika understood that. And Zaak says they're safe.
It certainly sounds like Monika didn't try very hard to get her off the BTLs, and maybe even encouraged their use.
They help me forget. They help me be strong and smart. And I never lose anyone. That makes it a good thing, right?
Can't run from your problems forever.
"It's escapism! Can't you see? It's not healthy!" -History's Greatest Villain, 2003
So that aside, do you like it here in the Kreuzbasar?
I can get what I need from Zaak Flash or Doc Ezkibel. And they let me pay however I can. Monika was always nice. And Paul Amsel. And the angel is nice to me too, usually. I know Monika's gone now, but I can still stay, right?
Of course you can stay, Kim.
This isn't Planescape: Torment so despite the vastly expanded repertoire of asshole options, you can't actually straight-up kick her out. At worst you can tell her to "earn her keep".
Thank you. Oh, thank you. I don't know what else I would do.
Let's talk more another time.
The only other resident feeling talkative, sort of, is the taciturn war veteran Laine.
Just checking in.
I appreciate the effort you're making, but you've got some big shoes to fill around here.
Monika was important to this place.
You have no idea. But I imagine you soon will.
Next come visitors of uncertain intent. Some may just be bottom feeders, sniffing after the leavings of the dead. Others will be hunters, looking to exploit a leaderless tribe.
We're all stepping up to fill the void left by Monika.
[The old troll rubs a thumb pensively across his single unbroken horn.]
You might have something there. If you can keep that group together. There are trying times ahead. Seen it before. Too many times before... Well. Anything else you need?
I wanted to hear more about the war.
[Laine grumbles and massages phantom pain in his synthetic legs.]
Damn it, why won't the world just let an old soldier fade away, like MacArthur promised?
You were military? Where did you serve?
Back home, with the Finnish Defence Force. Jaeger Brigade.
Last I checked, Russia was to the east of Finland, not west. Treacherous Swedes or too many years of Koskenkorva vodka having taken their toll on the troll?
They thought wrong. And the snow was painted pink on both sides of the border.
Tell me more about the Euro Wars.
Doubt there's much I could tell you that you wouldn't have learned in school. That you should've learned in school.
"Russians invaded" and "the world was a mess", the two constants of the universe.
They attacked Poland and Finland first. Poland broke within months, opening the door into Germany. I had no contacts in Berlin back then, mind you. Can't really say how bad things were here. Had battles of my own to worry about.
Sorry. I won't bother you anymore about it. See you around.
Moving on, we dropped a little something off at Maliit's last time, maybe she's done with it by now.
Welcome back! What can I do for you?
Got that drone fixed yet?
I do! Just finished before you arrived. There's a complication, though.
Complication? You said it was fixed.
It *is* fixed. But the person who built this thing "fixed" it in a different way.
Before you ask, yes, I looked into that. Problem is, this is a stolen corp drone. A *discontinued model* of a stolen corp drone. There are no parts for this thing on the market around here, so unless you know who locked this thing up so tightly, you're not going to get more use out of it than a door-stop.
Thanks for your time, Maliit.
Hey, no problem. It was a fun project.
Gee, wonder who this mysterious unique drone could belong to!
If you guessed "Dietrich" or even "Amazon", you're probably drunk and/or high as hell. That's very understandable in these dark times, so we'll let it slide.
I found this drone in that hotel vault. Does it belong to you?
Um. Yeah, chief. That's mine. I didn't want to say anything at the time, since it was my idea to have you loot the vault in the first place.
What was it doing in there?
I've gotta say, chief... it hurt me to see her all banged up to hell like she was. Looked like Luster had a few of her goons take turns on my baby with a baseball bat. But it looks like you've got her up and running again. How'd you manage that?
Maliit fixed your drone. She says that it won't listen to anyone but you, though.
We could lie here and claim it was us who fixed it. Why? Because we can is why, don't ask such silly questions.
Score. So, uh... can I have it back?
Sure. It's no use to me, anyway.
We could also refuse and keep the drone to ourselves here. Why? See above.
Oh, and while I'm here... Have you ever heard of an organization called "The Lodge"?
Think I've heard something about a capital-L *Lodge,* yeah... there was some chatter on a BBS that I used to hang out at a few years ago.
[His brow furrows in concentration.]
It's a magic thing, I think. Sort of a bogeyman for conspiracy theorists.
Interesting. Do you know anything else?
"Disorganized and Selfish" eventually ends up being the title of Blitz's autobiography, in which he finally admits that global conspiracies not working in a magical dystopian cyberpunk world probably ranked as the 347th dumbest call he made in the year 2054.
Anyway, that's all I know.
I don't think it's anything to worry about. Besides, with the whole "dragon" thing, we've got enough on our plates already.
Yeah. Anyway, talk to you later, Blitz.
There's no new dialogue to be had from the rest of our crew nor has there been any new activity down in the Shadowland BBS, so we're free to directly get started on our next job, namely the one Paul told us came from Samuel Beckenbauer.
Heya, Samuel. I heard that you wanted to talk about a job.
Not a lot. I don't pay much attention to politics.
Humanis may call itself a policlub, but its goals are anything but political. The organization's true objective is to spread fear and hatred of the metahuman races. Humanis's bloody rhetoric helped to instigate the Night of Rage.
Night of Rage?
We don't pay much attention to infamous global crises either. Look, we've lived a very sheltered life.
The most well-known such incident took place in Seattle (where else?) where a terrorist firebombing of warehouses claimed the lives of hundreds of metahumans detained inside despite the presence of the Seattle Metroplex Guard who were supposed to be protecting them. Another famous terrorist attack by a different group which took place around the same time was the bombing of the Sears Tower in Chicago, which destroyed both the tower and several city blocks around it.
*This* is what Humanis stands for. This is the agenda that its leaders strive to advance. They will not be satisfied until all metahumans - *everywhere* - are driven from the face of the Earth.
Disgusting. And this job of yours has something to do with Humanis?
[He nods.] Yesterday, I overheard one of my assistants talking on his comm. He was yelling, clearly agitated. I questioned him, and he confided in me. What he told me made my blood run cold.
What did he tell you?
His brother, Tuck, works for a smuggling operation based in Schattennest. Apparently, these smugglers have accepted a contract from Volker Stahl. Stahl is a vicious ideologue, and the leader of the Berlin chapter of Humanis.
Let's face it, with a name like "Volker Stahl" that guy was never going to end up as anything but a video game villain.
I want you to infiltrate the smuggling operation that is delivering the shipment. Once you arrive at the Humanis compound, you will find out what they're planning to do with the chemical and put a stop to it.
Wouldn't it be easier to just hijack the shipment? Why allow it to get to the Humanis compound at all?
[He shakes his head.] No. Stopping the shipment would not stop Humanis. They would merely acquire another. For a pack of snarling racists, they are extremely well-funded.
Metahuman characters can ask why Humanis would want anything to do with them, to which Samuel explains that Stahl is pragmatic enough to work with metahumans when it suits him to do so.
Let's talk compensation. What does this gig pay?
I have contacted sister organizations across Berlin and taken up a collection. Between us, we have raised 22,000 nuyen as a payment. I trust that this will be sufficient?
Now this is more like it. Socialites can squeeze him for an extra 500 which is hilariously dickish considering it's pretty much demanding your own donations back, but we'll have to make do.
I'll do it. Count me in.
Best of luck to you, Rosa, and good hunting. Know that you are doing a great thing for the metahumans of Berlin. Your efforts will not go unrecognized.
There's nothing left to sidetrack us so let's get right to it. Some good old-fashioned racist punching ought to be a good palate cleanser after that last mess.
'Sup Dietrich. Wait, aren't you supposed to be at the safe house?
Figured Id run into you here, boss. Wanted to be sure that I caught you before you headed off.
[He takes a deep breath, then slowly releases it. Looks you in the eye.]
Rosa... we need to have a talk about this Humanis gig.
We literally just picked it up like thirty seconds ago and came down here directly. Could this be the mythical power of punk?
Go ahead, Dietrich. Im listening.
Well. Ive got a history with Humanis. I fought em back in 39, during the Night of Rage.
Anyway. Long story short, we beat em. Berlins punks and anarchists all came together, and we stomped the living drek out of those racist pigs. A lot of good people died that night, but we put down some of the bad ones, too.
Why are you telling me all of this?
So that you'll understand. I don't like Humanis... I *hate* the swine. But there's one I've got to try to save. My nephew, Alexander.
Well that'll make for some pretty awkward family gatherings.
He's a good kid, Rosa. I don't believe for a second that he's bought into their bullshit. But I have it on good authority that he's signed on with Humanis, all the same.
Why would he join a hate group if he isn't a racist?
So I'm asking you, as a personal favor, to let me come along on the run. I have to get into that compound, Rosa... I *have* to find Alexander. I have to turn him around before those animals make him do something unforgivable.
That's right, we've just found Dietrich's personal mission! Well kind of, as his is more of an extra objective added to a regular run rather than a whole separate thing. Proper personal missions for the rest of the crew weren't introduced until Director's Cut and so in OG Dragonfall only Dietrich got some extra time in the spotlight. Now it's kind of the other way around as everyone else gets a whole mission dedicated just for them while Bal D's is tacked on to Beckenbauer's job. Such is the cruel pendulum of game design.
Of course, Dietrich. I wouldn't keep you from something like this.
Thanks, boss. Never doubted you'd bring me, of course... you're too good a woman for that. But it's good to hear it, all the same.
Despite being "his" mission there is absolutely no requirement to bring Dietrich along at all, not even after promising him you would. This, as you might expect, has some consequences which we'll explore when we get there.
Being the first mission where we actually get to pick our team, the runner hiring system announces its return. Since we have our own crew now we have absolutely no need to bother with anyone else though.
The list of available runners which includes our previous acquaintance Lucky Strike is way shorter this time, though on average they're also much more useful than back in DMS.
Lucky Strike in particular eclipses pretty much everyone in our crew, at least this early on. She's incredibly durable, specializes in the best ranged weapon type in the game, has the strength of a troll and even comes with some magical ability, allowing her to cast Heal and Aim.
Her very high stats are complemented by a unique assault rifle that packs almost as much punch as Eiger's sniper and very decent sword which allows her to deal large amounts of AP damage with ease in melee.
To top it all off she comes pre-equipped with one of the best cyberware augmentations with the absolute worst acronym in the series, Wired Reflexes With Reflex Trigger. While eventually our crew with their unique upgrades will start catching up, at this stage finishing jobs with just yourself and LS isn't even particularly difficult.
Alas, her one fatal flaw is that she's not a proper crew member and thus in this LP she'll never see even a shred of action. Instead we'll be bringing Dietrich, Eiger and Blitz. This'll probably be our most common team composition, though we'll make sure to give Glory time to shine as well. Eiger and Blitz are both hard to replace as one holds almost all of the team's physical firepower and the other all the decking expertise, so Dietrich and Glory end up as the most common bench warmers in most playthroughs unless you picked a Decker yourself.
Let's get in there and turn Humanis... into HumanWAS!
mm yeah that's the good stuff right there