Part 17: Smuggled on Your ShoulderPart 17 - Smuggled on Your Shoulder
(Not my favorite ambient track, it makes my ears feel weird after a while. Also the loop's pretty awkward which seems like a recurring theme with Powell's tracks.)
Look, boss... I just wanted to thank you for bringing me along on this one. It means a lot.
Don't sweat it. Even shadowrunners have families.
[He nods.] Alexander... he's a good kid, y'know? If I'd been there for him... if I hadn't run off to Berlin, left him with his worthless sack of a dad... he'd never have fallen in with those Humanis pigs in the first place.
There are worse ways to spend a night for sure.
Doesn't exactly seem like the party center of Berlin, the only things that stand out is a lone food cart and a piece of ancient technology known as a "phone booth".
Nothing much has changed with our group either besides the skills they learned a couple missions back, though Blitz now has control of his drone. Max is more useful than what his owner's low skills would indicate, being a B-class attack drone which also comes equipped with a powerful taser for when you want to get kinky on the move.
To satiate our late-night munchies, we start by striking up a conversation with the kiosk owner.
That depends. What do you have?
Well, today we have a soya-based currywurst for 5 nuyen, or a soup-and-sandwich combo for 10. Good, simple, stick-to-your-ribs food. Perfect for a cold day like this.
I think I'll try the currywurst.
One day we'll meet our end during a run, not from a bullet but from an especially poor choice of cheap street food.
What the hell kind of place are you running here, lady? This thing is terrible!
[She bristles.] What kind of place am I running? Why don't you look around and tell me? Yeah. That's right. My "business" is a run-down sausage cart on a filthy street corner. If you were expecting fine dining, I don't know what to tell you.
...Actually, you have a point there.
We could ask for our money back, but maybe this lesson was worth 5 nuyen.
[She nods.] Now, do you want to try something else? A soup and sandwich, maybe, to wash the taste of the currywurst out of your mouth? I'll have to charge you for it, but if you don't like it, I'll give you your money back.
Fine, I'll take the soup-and-sandwich combo.
See, you can't always lose in Russian Street Food Roulette and therefore there's no reason to stop playing. That's just math.
[The vendor pauses a moment, then steeples her pudgy fingers.]
We don't see many strangers down at this end of the line. In case you hadn't noticed, things are a little run-down out here. You weren't thinking of heading out past the wall, were you?
As a matter of fact, I was.
Well. It doesn't make any difference to me, but you be careful out there. The people on the other side of that wall... well, they've got no respect. For anybody.
I'll be careful.
[She nods.] Uh-huh. Well, best of luck to you... and don't say I didn't warn you!
We don't have anyone to call, but we were told to keep an eye out for these things some time ago.
[Searching the dead-drop, you find a package with the telltale markings of the Schockwellenreiter.]
Sounds like easy and consequence-free money. Well, consequence-free to us in any case.
More objectives to throw on the pile.
The road leading towards our meeting point appears to be blocked by a dwarf and his large troll buddy.
Didn't mean no offense. But look at me.
[He gestures at himself.]
Compared to me, *every* human is a beanpole. Ain't a bad thing. It's just the way it is.
Incidentally he calls dwarves "pals" and orcs/trolls "troggs" (to which his troll friend hastily adds that he didn't mean anything with it.)
But consider this a friendly warning: there's a reason why we're stationed here. There are gangs out there that'd skin you alive as soon as look at you.
Well, then, we'll just have to skin them first.
[He shrugs.] All right. Be my guest. Go play with the torture-gangs. Something tells me you'd be a better fit out there anyway.
[He gestures to the troll standing behind him.]
Let 'em by, Sergej.
If only every guard we came across was as cooperative. But I guess someone has to keep the local morgues in business.
A short walk later we find the people we've been looking for.
Well, well. If it isn't the muscle that Tuck promised us. Look who it is, everybody... the new hires have elected to grace us with their presence. Nice of you to join us.
[He glances at the PDA on his wrist, then looks back up at you. When he speaks again, his voice is sharp and humorless.]
You're late, chummer.
Leave the dry snarking to qualified professionals will ya
Yeah, sorry about that. We got held up at the wall.
[He lets out a theatrical sigh.] Well. You come highly recommended, so I suppose I'll overlook it.
If we run into trouble, you'll be glad to have us around. I guarantee it.
[His mouth twists up into a smirk.] I certainly hope so. For your sake.
*** One brief fade to black later... ***
Damn it. I knew this was gonna happen. I fuckin' knew it.
[He cranes his neck around to look you in the eye.]
Everybody pile out of the van. And get ready, Rosa... we're gonna need some muscle in a second.
Need muscle as in "a tree has fallen on the road" or as in "we've driven into an ambush"?
Guess there aren't that many trees around here anyway.
[Maxim licks his lips, his eyes scanning over the gangers' hastily assembled roadblock.]
This kiez belongs to Surfturf, slag. Has for months. You'd better clear on out of our way before they show up and force you out.
I love these dumb gang names.
Surfturf? Those tunnel rats? They're ancient history... go ahead and call 'em if you don't believe me.
[Her face twists into an ugly smile.]
Scream as loud as you want. They won't hear you. We buried them last week.
You know what? You're absolutely right. We don't need to fight. You just pay us a small toll, and we'll be more than happy to let you cross our bridge. I'm thinkin'... say... five hundred nuyen per van.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this *does* need to get violent. Get ready to ventilate these assholes, Rosa. We've got a schedule to keep.
Decision time! We can help Maxim's smugglers fight off the gangers, try and negotiate with them or go full WILD CARD MOTHERFUCKERS and start gunning down everyone present, presumably ensuring nobody sane will ever hire us again.
We'll come back to that last one later, for now let's try boring ol' talking first.
Look, let's be smart about this. Nobody wants a firefight today.
Good. That's a real good idea, pal. See that? Your muscle is smarter than you are. You should put her in charge.
[Maxim wheels around to face you, his face a mask of fury. His voice explodes out in a harsh whisper.]
Quiet the fuck down! You don't speak for me, and you don't speak for this organization!
It takes the Gang etiquette or 3 Willpower to stare Maxim down.
I know what I'm doing. Let me speak.
[Maxim stares at you, bristling, but he holds his tongue. After a few seconds, he nods.]
Do it. But you'd better not fuck this up.
[Maxim steps back, leaving you to negotiate with the Rammbock leader. The ganger boss stands there, hands on her hips, awaiting your response.]
Another decision time! We can simply pay the 1,000 nuyen from our pocket or bring it down to 750 with Charisma 4. Picking neither leads to this beautifully eloquent response:
...I've got nothin'.
Well, then, why the hell are you wasting our time? Fall back in line and get ready to fight. You *can* do that, can't you?
Here's the deal. You let us cross for 750 nuyen. That includes the return trip. We renegotiate for future crossings.
[There is a brief pause, then the Rammbock boss yells out a response.]
You've got yourselves a deal!
[His eyes go wide.] Do you even *have* 750 nuyen? 'Cause that ain't coming out of *our* cut.
Ultimately Dietrich was right though - this is indeed a waste of time and we only chose to talk so that I could show off what happens. 750 is as low as you can go, and hell if we're going to pay that kind of money especially now that we have a competent team at our back.
Nope. But now we can catch 'em off guard.
Take 'em down, boys! OPEN FIRE!
(The in-game version of this track sounds really muddy for some reason, so I put this together from the soundtrack version instead. Which was probably not worth the effort in hindsight, but it lets me pretend like my standards for this LP are higher than they actually are.)
Things explode into action immediately with the smugglers and the gangers exchanging spells and gunfire to no significant effect. Our claim of catching them off-guard being our plan all along was purely to save face, both sides get to act before us regardless.
In addition to the blockade ahead of us a pair of gangers pop up behind the convoy, in theory putting us in a rather disadvantageous position.
Here's what we're looking at, 3 gangers and a pair of sentry guns in front and the flanker duo at the back. There's also a set of ley lines in the small walled-off area to the north which aren't very useful in this situation, but if you turn this into a 3-way fight by making an enemy of Maxim and his smugglers, retreating there right away is likely the wisest course of action to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
Between the sentry guns and our bad position even going up against just the gangers could make for a nasty fight, but luckily the Rammbocks decided that surrounding their own positions with no less than 4 explosive barrels with their leader right in the middle was a sound tactical decision.
And so Eiger fires what is most likely to be the single most devastating bullet in the course of this adventure, instantly blasting the loudmouthed boss lady into bits and heavily damaging both sentry guns and the two gangers in the process.
With the turrets cleaned up the situation quickly becomes much more manageable.
While the rest of the team is handling things up front, Blitz sends his drone to help out the smuggler dealing with our two flanker friends. Max is no Prime but it provides pretty reliable damage and acts as a good distraction.
On the following turn two more gangers, a Conjurer and a Thug, make their fashionably late entrance from the northeast building. Maybe they were busy making out in there or something.
Maxim welcomes the newcomers with his rifle. The smugglers mostly act as meat shields but they do also get a few good shots in.
The Max without the -im on the other hand demonstrates its zapping capabilities. While its 2 AP cost makes it a little hard to use, it can knock people out pretty reliably. And let's face it, tasering bad guys is always funny in every video game.
We finish what Maxim started, taking out the Conjurer before he gets to do anything.
More bodies hit the floor as Eiger and Blitz bring down two of the five remaining gangers, one over at the front and another next to our position.
Now very much in the clean-up phase of this fight, we bring down the mage...
...and Dietrich hurls a knife right through the heart of the stunned Thug. Throwing knife kills are rare but always satisfying.
The last remaining ganger makes herself a bit of a nuisance by taking cover behind a truck to the north, but Dietrich flushes her out and Eiger promptly pops her in the head from halfway across the map. Sniper rifles, the best kind of outdoor fun.
We get 2 karma for fighting off the ambush, and 1 extra thanks to Maxim surviving the fight. If he goes down you'll instead deal with a random faceless smuggler from this point forward.
You tell me. You're the big-time smuggler. I'm just hired muscle, remember?
Yeah, well, trust me. It happens. I'm just glad that I had you here to cover me. Always good to have a competent woman at your back.
[Maxim pauses for a moment before continuing.]
Ammo. How quaint.
When we roll up on the meeting site, be ready. We may need the element of surprise if negotiations go south.
Agreed. That ambush was more than a little convenient.
[He nods.] Couldn't have said it better myself.
No sense in turning back now. We get back on the road, and another *** fade to black *** later we arrive at the compound.
Let's hope this is the right address, wouldn't want these murder chemicals to end up in the hands of someone irresponsible.
[The smugglers finish unloading the last of the crates, then take up positions around the van. Minutes pass. Nobody comes to meet you.]
No welcoming party. This isn't a good sign.
It's almost as if they didn't expect us to make it here.
My thoughts exactly. This puts us in a bad spot, Rosa. I'm not sure what our next step is.
We need some answers, and we need to get paid. I'm gonna go have a talk with them.
What're you gonna do, knock on the front door? What makes you think that they'll even answer? They've done a pretty good job of avoiding us so far...
[His eyes widen.] You've gotta be kidding me. That's a *Humanis* compound, pal... you go in there, and you aren't gonna come back out.
They say that about a lot of places we tend to come back out from.
You want to get paid, don't you?
Well, yeah. Of course. But I don't see how you getting yourself killed is gonna accomplish that.
Leave it to me. I'll get you your money... and some answers.
Before we head in, we can take a look at the label on the delivered crates.
They must've extracted this from my ex heyyyooooo
Nobody either greets us or tries to stop us as we make our way through the courtyard and towards the entrance. Awful lot of places to take cover behind here though...
They don't even have anyone watching the door, this is just getting discourteous. Or maybe they're throwing us a surprise party!
Guess we'll just have to let ourselves in and find out.