Part 24: The Patriarch's PleaPart 24 - The Patriarch's Plea
We have ascended from the darkness of the sewers hopefully never to return, and promptly report back to the nameless maintenance worker while another 4 Karma falls on our lap from wherever they store that stuff.
Well... are you willing to drop your standards down from "everything" a bit? Because in that case sure, it went totally okay.
It's taken care of. You can leave... after you give me my money.
What about Viktor?
Your friend isn't coming. I'm sorry.
If he does somehow pop up one day, you probably shouldn't invite him in for a beer or anything. Maybe consider giving the Ghosbusters a call just in case.
Christ. Poor Vik. I don't know how I'm gonna tell his folks. Real close-knit family, they were.
I found this maintenance manual on his body. Maybe you could give it to them.
That's probably just an awkward pause resulting from us offering a bloodstained technical manual as a touching memento for the man's family. Still, he hands us ¥500 and we get another 2 Karma plus a third for returning the booklet. Not a bad haul for such a short job, though we ended up with a slight net loss money-wise thanks to that greedy bastard Ezkibel.
As a side note, you can actually finish the mission fine without ever finding Viktor. It's unlikely to happen by accident though, his corpse is not exactly hidden plus he has the turbine code, so to pull it off you'd have to either look the code up or use a decker to bypass it while somehow missing the very obvious room right next to the turbine one. But if you do manage to fail in that oddly specific way, you miss out on the Karma point and the conversation is slightly different:
What about Viktor?
Don't know. Couldn't find him.
No sign of him? Christ. I guess maybe I don't want to know what happened in there. Here's the money I promised you.
Time to move on. Since the last mission was just a quick side job, most people have nothing new to say (even Ezkibel doesn't mention it, at least yet) and our crew doesn't bother commenting on it. Couple of exceptions exists though, one being "Simmy" Kim.
Kim, are you all right?
[She shakes her head.] I don't know. Have I ever been, when I'm me?
[She then lowers her gaze from the heavens and regards you, her eyes showing slightly more clarity than before.]
Been thinking. Remembering. Wondering.
Do you want to talk about that black eye now?
Zaak said not to. He said I might get hurt again.
What? That guy's clearly crooked, but if he's going around beating people up then he's gonna have to find somewhere else to peddle his glittery garbage in.
Kim, if Zaak is hurting you...
No, it wasn't him. Zaak loves me. He loves everybody. But the man who did this knew Zaak. He said they used to work together, before they came to the Kreuzbasar.
He said to tell Zaak that he was coming back to take what was his.
Don't worry, Kim. We won't let him come back.
If you say so.
So, what have you been thinking about?
[Kim hugs herself tightly around her midsection, drawing herself in and doing the impossible of making herself even thinner.]
I'm not sure I want to talk about it. I only ever talked about it with Monika.
Come now, you know our policy regarding personal issues. May as well save us all some time and get to it now rather than later.
Anything you could say to her you can say to me.
But then I come back out... here. Where children play in the street, and I remember. Where I see Doc Ezkibel, and I remember. He was mad at me for losing her, but now I don't know if he even remembers. He looks right through me. But I did what he told me... I saw him every month. I took the medicine. I got as much food as I could. But he said it wasn't enough. That I would never be...
That's why all her BTLs involved taking care of a kid, huh... So Ezkibel was presumably her doctor while she was pregnant, and for some reason or another she ultimately ended up miscarrying which put her in a bad place. And then Monika hooked her up with BTLs with Zaak as her provider to help her cope with it, and that's the path she's been on since.
Shit. I'm sorry, Kim. Anything I can do?
No. I'm okay. Thank you.
I'll leave you be then.
By the way, because we've talked to them every chance we get, we've just about exhausted the various Kreuzbasar conversations for the time being. Kim for example won't have anything new to say until after we deliver Alice's fee and start the endgame path, so she'll just have to hang in there for the time being.
Unsure of what we can do for Kim, we quickly excuse ourselves and head down the nearby trapdoor and into Lucky Strike's favorite hangout, the Weinkeller. Perhaps for the final time as I believe this to be the very last instance of Ms. Glowface having something new to say.
Hey again, Rosa. What's up?
You said that you've got a team in Mitte. I'd like to hear a little more about them.
[She shrugs.] They're good people. They get the job done. What else do you need to know?
Their names, for one. You know my team, I'd like to know something about yours.
Man, I wouldn't mind an actually competent and intelligent rigger in our team either. We should send this Racter guy an invitation, maybe he'd be interested in running with a ragtag bunch of outlaws with wildly different personalities desperately struggling against an incredibly powerful force of largely unknown nature while barely making ends meet.
Then again, probably not.
Hähnchen is our decker and requisite tough guy. Troll, huge, covered in tats and piercings - you know the type. I'm pretty sure that he and Barrakuda have a thing going on, but they'll never cop to it.
[She presents herself to you with an ironic smile.]
And then there's me. Between us, we keep our bases covered.
I'm sure that you do. I'm willing to bet that my crew's better, though... there's still a space for you if you wanted to sign on.
Not really true, I mean we already have to leave one party member out of every run, two would be even more annoying.
Hate to disappoint you, but that isn't gonna happen. Not that I don't appreciate it, mind you. I just can't work with a team like yours on a permanent basis.
The people in my crew get how things work in Berlin. Even Racter gets it, and he's still pretty new to the scene here. There's no leader on my team, and no one follows orders. We're all equals, and we can give suggestions or tell one another to piss off whenever we please.
That doesn't sound practical. Truth be told, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.
[She raises her glass and takes a moment to study the amber liquid inside.]
You're a good runner with a good crew, Rosa - but it'll never be *my* crew. No hard feelings, though - I'll still moonlight for you whenever you need me.
[She lifts the glass to her lips, closes her eyes, and drains it.]
You know my price, and you know where to find me.
To be honest she probably wouldn't fit in anyway, her personality seems like it'd start grating on everyone after a while. But she does seem to practice what she preaches and apparently it's working out for her so hey, good on ya lady.
Yeah. By the way, I've been meaning to ask... what's up with the tattooed circuitry? Is it purely decorative, or...?
When were you in Tokyo?
'Bout three years ago. Spent a few months there... it was a business trip, though. You know how it is - straight from the airport to the hotel to the job site, and back to the hotel again afterwards. Rinse and repeat until the job is done. Not the most exciting way to travel, but the pay was good.
And what were you doing for the Yakuza?
Work. The kind that you don't talk about afterward.
I've played my share of Yakuza and let me tell you, the kind of nonsense those guys get up to? We probably wouldn't believe it even if she told us.
So tattoo magic, huh? That's a new one to me.
Yeah... it was for me, too. It's a metamagic thing - a way of quickening spells to a person. Binding magic into the flesh so that it's almost impossible to get rid of. Anyway, long story short, I found a way to break it. Now it just looks pretty in the lamplight.
Yeah, it's a good look on you.
I think so. Good thing, too - getting this thing removed would be a real pain.
What did the tattoos do before you broke them?
So, when I went to work for the Yaks, they offered - no, *insisted* - that I let them ink me. Said I'd need it for the job. Long story short, the tattoos did boost my abilities, but they also branded me. Marked me as Yakuza property, and gave them an easy way of tracking me from the astral plane.
We can only hope this power to track anyone no matter where they go stays in the realm of fiction. Really though, agreeing to something like that in the first place seems like an amazingly bad idea.
How'd you break the spell?
That's an even longer story, and not one that I want to get into. Suffice it to say that it started with killing the guy who inked me, and ended in a pretty dark place. The upshot is that I can't go back to Japan. Ever. But at least I got my autonomy back.
[She pauses for a moment to light up another cigarette. After she fills her lungs with smoke, she continues.]
So the moral of this story, I guess, is not to take an employer's word at face value. It's a lesson that every shadowrunner needs to learn sooner or later, but I had a harder time with it than most. Now, can we talk about something else? Or better yet, can we shut up and have a drink or two? All of this yapping is making me thirsty.
Learning that lesson the hard way is one thing we definitely have in common.
Nah, I've gotta run. See you around.
Yeah, see ya.
Laine is also starting to run out of topics, but there's a few words left in the old war veteran yet.
I want to talk about what happened the other day.
That was the beating in which the beater took a beating and ended up beaten instead.
[The old soldier glowers, but given his physical handicaps and his recent injuries, he hardly makes for an intimidating figure, troll size notwithstanding.]
Hang my hoop. I'm not a child, woman! I'm not helpless. And even if I was, leave me to whatever fate I've earned.
Who was it?
Someone who heard an unfounded rumor. A rumor about me joining up with ORC, presumed favorite policlub among us trogs. Maybe he was Humanis. Or maybe just another Flux fanatic who thought the balance of power would be upset by me joining up with ORC. I don't know, and I don't care. I just want to be left alone.
That's "Ork Rights Commission" by the way, not a confusing abbreviation at all.
And what did they want?
He wanted to dissuade me from lending my voice or experience to any pro-metahuman parties. I tried to talk him down. Tried to explain my fighting days are done. But he wouldn't believe me. Bastard made a liar of me, when I beat him with my crutch.
Will they be back?
Not if they know what's good for them. Last time, they caught me alone, taking a shortcut through an alley. I won't make that mistake again. I'm sticking close to home, and close to Samuel and his people. They won't shy away from a fight.
All right. We'll leave it at that, for now. Changing the subject, I'd like to hear more about your part in the Euro Wars.
[The old troll leans heavy on his crutch and takes a steadying breath.]
I was a colonel in the Finnish Army. During the first Euro War, the Jaeger Brigade was mine. For decades, we'd used ATVs. Nasus and Bandvagns mostly. Slow, lumbering things, but built for the snows of the Lapland. I was the one who changed all that, moving us over to t-birds. I made us fast and nimble.
It's a minor pet peeve of mine that a supposedly Finnish man keeps saying "the Lapland" even though there's never been "the" in Lapland. Between that and getting the direction of Russia wrong, I'm not entirely convinced Laine isn't just some German troll who got really messed up one day and started imagining he used to be a Finnish war hero.
Oh, and t-birds or Thunderbirds are swift and armored Low Altitude Vehicles manned by small crews. Not to be confused with actual thunderbirds which are obviously a thing as well.
But I don't celebrate the title. Far too many young soldiers died under the command of the Arctic Fox. This is why some ask me to fight. And this is why I refuse.
Thanks for the story. I won't take up any more of your time.
Beckenbauer isn't accepting any new donations yet, but we quickly stop by to ask him how Alexander is doing.
He'll probaby be fine, he's a big boy. Well maybe not compared to orks and trolls, but y'know.
We also stop by Aljernon's to sell some junk and to get our latest cryptic prophecy.
Rosa. Do you feel thirsty? I do... parched, in fact. It happened when you walked through the door. I could really go for a cold one.
[She pauses for a moment, considering.]
Or am I speaking with another's voice...? Sometimes it's difficult to tell where I end and the dreams begin.
Maybe you just need to cut down on the binge drinking, lady.
That's all there is to see around town, so let's head home and stretch our legs a bit. And maybe take a shower or three.
Afterwards we check our computer, finding no less than three messages waiting for us. Seems we've gotten all popular and stuff.
Might as well start from the top, with the message titled Thanks.
This is Silke, from the hotel. I hope it's okay that I'm writing you... Samuel gave me your email address.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for everything that you did for me. Kicking my cram habit was the hardest thing that I've ever done, and I don't think I would've tried if you hadn't talked me into it. To celebrate my newfound soberiety, I've decided to sign on as a volunteer at the charity. Who knows? Maybe giving back to the community will help turn things around in my life.
Anyway, thanks again, Rosa. I owe you one.
Aw, good on ya Silke. Glad we managed to have such an unequivocally positive impact on someone's life for once. Next is the message titled Still alive.
I guess that I should thank you - you got me out of that horrible job alive. I don't think I could've made it on my own. What happened on that run took everything else away from me, but at least I'm still breathing. The Lodge turned me into a killer, Rosa. That gnaws at my guts every minute of every day, and I still can't sleep at night. Innocent people - *normal* people - died because of what I did.
And you know why they made me do it? Because they could.
I don't know. Maybe this doesn't bother you... you're a shadowrunner, after all. You kill people all the time. Just another day at the office, huh? Well, I'm not like you. I can't just kill people on the job and forget about it the next day. This is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.
I don't know how to live like this, but it's still better than not living at all. That's what I keep telling myself. And so I figured that I might as well tell it to you, too.
Sadly any real chance of Jana having a normal happy life went out the window the moment she was signed up for that accursed run. Hopefully she'll eventually find some semblance of peace though.
Had we killed James and scrubbed the run, Jana would never be heard from again. Instead we'd get the following pissy mail from the Lodge:
You have failed to live up to our expectations, and you have failed your audition. In light of your apparent inability to follow simple instructions, we have withdrawn our representative from your kiez.
After much internal debate, our organization has decided not to take punitive action against you or your team. We have wasted enough time and resources on you already. Consider yourself lucky, and enjoy your career in the shadows. We are confident that it won't last long.
The most immediately relevant of the messages seems to be the last one though. Something about a job? Let's see.
If you value new hardware coming into the Kreuzbasar, we need to talk. One of my weapons shipments was hijacked by a local gang. I can promise 500 nuyen - and if you can recover the shipment, I'll have some new gear on the shelf.
Come see me for the details.
Gunari's the Romani weapons merchant who we haven't seen much since guns are for people who can't set other people on fire with their minds. While we're not in dire need of better firearms ourselves, them ending up in the hands of gangers instead of the Kreuzbasar does sound like bad news. We should probably get this taken care of before it gets out of hand.
Before we hit the streets again, we collect the payment from the Humanis safe house data we posted last time.
Gunari's shop is next to the sewer entrance to the southeast.
Welcome back. You need some weapons? Some ammunition, perhaps?
I got your message about that missing shipment. How can I help?
Your dear departed Monika used to provide encryption and information control for the Kreuzbasar. Now that she's gone, we merchants have been having no end of trouble. The obvious answer is that a gang has been intercepting our communications.
It's certainly looking like Lucky Strike was right about Monika carrying too much responsibility here, things seem to be falling apart all over the place now that she's not around to hold the strings.
What kind of communications?
Shipping manifests. Payment orders. That kind of thing. A group with an agenda could use that information to set an ambush, and that's just what this gang has been doin'. Several cargo trucks full of goods have already been hijacked en route to the Kreuzbasar.
"Rabengeister" is for once an actually cool-sounding gang name. In German anyway, "Raven Ghosts" doesn't quite have the same punch to it.
So. I need you to go to Gesundbrunnen, find the Rabengeister, and get our goods back. I can offer you 500 nuyen for the task... and if you can recover our missing weapons shipment, I'll be able to sell you some better hardware, too.
Another low payment job... but it's for the good of the Kreuzbasar I guess. We're gonna have to start getting back to proper runs soon though, there is still that whole dragon thing going on.
Can you tell me anything else about this gang, the Rabengeister?
[He frowns.] Not much, I'm afraid. From what I've heard... the Rabengeister are tricky. They have a reputation for stirring up trouble, then disappearing without a trace. I would tread carefully in Gesundbrunnen if I were you.
How do I get to Gesundbrunnen?
Just take the U-Bahn. The line still runs, though not many folks stop at Gesundbrunnen anymore. The market there used to be something of a tourist attraction... but I think they've fallen on hard times recently.
I'll take care of it.
Good. It's about time I had some new inventory come in.
Only one buddy this time, huh? Well alright, as long as we get to pick them ourselves. God only knows what kinda pyromaniac circus clown we'd end up with this time around.
Let's just get this done so that we can go back to bigger things, like avoiding death by dragon and screwing with Blitz's relationships.
Seeing as we're only limited to one person we might as well bring our biggest muscle, just in case our silver tongue fails to lick people in the right spots.
Let's teach these thieving bastards that having a cool name is no justification for stealing our darn guns.