Part 44: Chemical PursuitsPart 44 - Chemical Pursuits
We have returned with the mystery box in our hands and Blitz's thumbs still attached to his, and if Hasenkamp's words are to be believed then his ex-boss' loan operations have likely ground to a permanent halt by now as well. The karmic reward for getting Blitz out of hot water is nothing to write home about, not that we could afford a pen to write with anyway since we weren't paid anything. But hey, at least we picked up a cool grenade launcher as a souvenir.
As far as the Kreuzbasar is concerned, things continue to be a bit boring here. As has been the case for a while now, we've exhausted most of the dialogue for the time being, plus we've done two Director's Cut missions back to back so even most of our crew members won't continue telling us all about their personal issues.
Absinthe at least has had the occasional vague prophecy to throw our way so let's check with her, surely there'll be something good in our future for once. It can't always be something about wading through a sea of corpses or whatever, can it?
Ah well, we'll just have to worry about our future reading like the synopsis of a cheap slasher movie again when it becomes relevant. For now let's go deliver Blitz his damn box, and maybe a piece of our mind too while we're at it.
At least he's bothered to drag his ass back from the cafe, hope the trip wasn't too much of an exertion for the poor guy. Wouldn't want him to collapse from overwork.
Not just yet, Blitz. First, we need to have a chat about that whole "Meat Grinder" fiasco.
Yeah! Um, okay... sure, we can talk about it. Do a little post-mortem on the op, that sort of thing.
[He tries on a smile.]
For my part, I'd say that it went *great.* I mean, mission accomplished, right? All's well that ends well, and all that...?
That's an interesting way of putting it.
Well, I mean, it wasn't a *complete* disaster. I mean, we won, right? Nobody's going to cut my thumbs off, and that's what's important. So, uh, anyway... was there anything in specific that you wanted to go over?
[He drums his fingers on the table.]
Go on, I'm all ears.
The vault door. The one that you "forgot" to account for. Was that really an accident?
[His mouth drops open.] 'Course it was, chief! I'm shocked that you'd even ask! What'd you think, that I'd purposefully strand you in a bank vault? I mean, what kind of asshole would I have to be to do that?
We could point out the fact that he sold out his old gang and as a result can't really trust him anymore, but between "traitorous intent" and "Blitz fucked up again", well, Hanlon's razor cuts sharply here. Besides if he wanted us dead for some reason then he wouldn't have had any reason to warn us about Hasenkamp and give us the means to stop him from accomplishing that exact thing.
If that wasn't a part of your plan, then it was an oversight of epic proportions. You can see how that isn't much better, right?
Oh, come on, chief. Like you've never made a mistake. Look, you can lambaste me all you like. Aside from that one little detail, the plan was *perfect.* I'm *proud* of my performance in there!
You weren't even "in there" you soykaf-sipping schmuck. Well whatever, we lived and it's not like we have any reason to go on another Blitz-planned run again. There are more than enough curveballs to deal with in our average run as it is.
It sounds like you're in the clear with Hasenkamp. Do you have any other debts that I need to worry about?
Nah, nothing worth mentioning. And I mean it this time! We've been making good money, and I've paid off everyone else already. You've got nothing more to worry about from me.
[Give Blitz the box.] All right, Blitz. I guess that you've earned this, whatever it is.
Huh. Well, this is weird. The data hard-coded onto this thing is jam-packed with commlink software. It looks like it has protocols for all of the major brands... sysadmin-level tools, too. And there's something else...
What do you see, Blitz?
[Slowly, a smile spreads across his face.] This thing is like a master key for communications systems. With this box plugged into my deck, I could hack the commlink of just about anyone in the same room as me.
How is that useful?
Well. I can't wait to see what you can do with it.
[He grins.] Yeah, chief. Me neither. So, is there anything else that you wanted to talk about? Or can I start playing around with this thing?
Thanks to the magic of LPing we don't actually need to wait, here's what Blitz's new toy does in practice:
Hijack Commlink: Target becomes confused and changes faction for 2 rounds. Cost: 2 AP. Cooldown: 6 rounds.
Blitz certainly has talent in confusing the hell out of people around him and when said talent is weaponized, it actually becomes one of the more potent abilities in the game to the point where the sheer power of his bullshitting surpasses even our literal magic. While it doesn't work on everything and has a very restrictive cooldown, Hijack Commlink is very accurate and a great opener in a lot of fights. 2 AP is a bit rough, but when he eventually gets a third he can also use it while having his drone activated which only makes it that much more useful.
Now here's the alternate conversation and reward had we taken one of the other two paths and ended up with Plotz's mystery program instead:
That software that you found after you took Plotz down. Have you had a chance to play around with it yet?
[He nods eagerly.] Oh, yeah, chief - it's wiz. I mean, like, *really* wiz. Old Plotz must've been a fair hand at programming, because this didn't come off of any store shelf. Y'know, he was pretty savvy for a dinosaur.
What is it?
It's sort of like a scrambler for IC. It gets into the assembly code of hostile programs and jumbles it around a bit... confuses the hell out of 'em.
Sounds intriguing. I can't wait to hear all about it.
You won't have to. As soon as you bring me along on another run, I'll show you what I can do.
[He cracks his knuckles with a smile.]
And believe me, it will be *masterful.*
IC Scrambler: Confuses the targeting systems of the IC, causing it to attack allies and ignore enemies for 2 rounds. Cost: 1 AP. Cooldown: 5 rounds.
Yeah, it's pretty much the cyberspace version of Hijack Commlink, and considerably less useful as a result. Blitz is already plenty strong when it comes to Virtual Kombat and most individual IC are neither particularly strong or accurate so converting one is not nearly as valuable as flipping the allegiance of, say, a Grenadier or a Mage in a real fight. I'd definitely say we got the better deal here.
Now while we're done with Blitz's debt business, there is something else we've talked to him about in the past. Specifically, we encouraged him to continue looking for his ex who disappeared one night with his decking gear in tow, and it was searching for her which caused Blitz to fall in debt in the first place. We're very good with giving advice, having made such excellent life decisions ourselves.
How's the Emilie thing going anyway? Any luck with the search?
Yeah, actually. I've made some headway. For the first time in a year, I've got a solid lead.
Anyway, I did some housekeeping, and I discovered something. On the morning that Emilie disappeared, some information vanished from my cyberdeck as well. She did a good job of covering her tracks, but I can see the signs. She grabbed the file and ran, end of story.
I'm shocked that you missed that.
Yeah, chief. I am, too.
[He shakes his head.]
It's embarassing, I've gotta say. The worst part of the whole mess is that I don't even know what the data she stole *was.* The file was encrypted all to hell, and I never could get it open.
Blitz. Where did you take this data *from?*
A corporate database. Y'know. No big deal.
Tell me *which* corporation, Blitz.
Silly of us to even ask really, that's the worst possible option so it being the answer he would give was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Forget worrying about your thumbs man, have you checked your blood pressure lately?
[A tinge of red crawls into Blitz's cheeks. He shuffles his feet.]
In hindsight, it might not've been the best of ideas.
Yeah. I guess. Emilie wasn't too impressed, either. Our only really big fight was over that stupid file. Anyway. Time passed. Eventually we made up and laughed the whole thing off... or at least, I thought we did. Truth be told, I forgot all about it until I realized that the data had gone missing.
Only Blitz could succeed at stealing who-knows-how-important secret file from the Azzies and then be able to just "forget all about it" afterwards thanks to all consequences of his actions bouncing off of him and right into the faces of other people like rubber balls coated in cosmic injustice.
All right. So the love of your life took your encrypted file and bailed on you. What're you gonna do about it?
I dunno, chief. This whole incident has me rethinking a lot of things. What if... what if she took the file to protect the Azzies? What if she's with *them?*
The smart thing would probably to just leave things be, but on the other hand it'd be nice to have at least some idea what's going on what with a major corp as dangerous as this one being potentially involved. We've come this far, surely there's no harm in just a little more gentle probing.
You've got a direction to look in now. If I were you, I'd get back into the Matrix and find her.
[He nods.] Who am I kidding? You're right... I won't be able to stop thinking about this until I've found her. So I might as well keep trying. Thanks, chief. You've been a huge help.
Best of luck. Let me know how it turns out.
I will, chief. I will.
It's been a while since we've last had a good chat with any non-Blitz crew member, and that's not going to change today. But there is one new relevant topic in the BBS at least, and who needs (meta)human company when you have the internet?
- Tolstoi <17:12:54/11-14-54> [Looks like there's been a good old-fashioned bank heist in Drogenkippe! One of those old, defunded banks still had some funds in it, apparently. Whoever was responsible waltzed right in and transferred away a whole load of nuyen.]
- The Smiling Bandit <Strikes Again!/Ha-Ha-Ha> [That's not all. A pal of mine had been contracted to do some work for one of the other (ahem) lending establishments in the area. When he went in to meet with his contact, all that he found was a couple of shell casings and a troll-sized pool of blood.]
- ProShot <18:09:37/11-14-54> [Huh. And I'd always assumed that banking was a boring job.]
- Maelstrom <23:32:11/11-14-54> [Sounds pretty action-packed to me. You've got a break-in, a big score, what looks like a revenge killing... all of that, plus a steady paycheck! What more could you want?]
- ProShot <23:59:01/11-14-54> [If you need me, I'll be putting in an application at my nearest savings & loan.]
Sounds like the old guy was as efficient as he claimed, bet the grandkids are fast asleep by now too. Or maybe it's morning already, it's a little hard to tell what time it is at any given point. In any case, we've been handling a lot of personal requests lately, maybe Amsel has one of those good ol'-fashioned runs that pay you know, actual money lined up for us. Lessee what we've got in the Jobs directory...
Exactly one choice, which makes it a remarkably easy one.
"Herr/Frau Schmidt" is the German equivalent of "Mr./Mrs. Johnson", although Johnsons employed by Lofwyr's Saeder-Krupp often go by "Herr Brackhaus" instead which is a name you might have heard before.
One other thing: Herr Schmidt provided me with a device to assist you on the run. He calls it a "little black box"... apparently, it can be used to compromise the power and security systems of the run site. If you opt to take the job, be sure to take it with you.
Greetings, Herr Amsel. I trust that this connection is secure?
Naturally. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?
Call me Herr Schmidt.
Very well, Herr Schmidt. You have some business for me?
Indeed. I have a job for your team... a simple matter. Judging by what I have heard of your team, I imagine that they will be well suited to the task.
The interests that I represent have learned that AG Chemie Europa is working on a company-wide project. Something very secret, very new. Reliable sources inform me that they're keeping a working prototype of this new venture at their Berlin facility.
I see. And your employers wish us to acquire this prototype for them?
What is this "project?" If you want my team to grab the prototype for you, they'll need to know what they're looking for.
I'm not at liberty to say. I can tell you that the prototype has been branded "MKVI." I can also tell you that your team will find it on the 25th floor of the Berlin facility, in the office of one Albrecht Haushofer.
Further, I can assist your team in disabling building security and gaining access to the 24th floor. From there, however, they will be on their own.
Such vagueness can be dangerous, Herr Schmidt. I will not commit my team to a run without a better understanding of what the job entails.
Facing such dangers is the purpose of a shadowrunner, Herr Amsel. Your team will be rewarded handsomely for their services... my employers have set aside 20,000 nuyen for the job. Consider it hazard pay if you wish.
Make it 25,000 nuyen, or look somewhere else.
22,500 nuyen. Final offer.
Very well. I will pass your offer on to my team. Are there any further details that you can provide?
Haushofer's office will be locked behind a vault door. The lock is old-fashioned, of the mechanical variety. I will provide your team with a copy of the key. I will also supply you with a "little black box"... a solid-state device that your team can use to override a variety of building systems.
Your team will enter through the facility's underground garage. When your team has acquired the MKVI, have them exit through the same garage. I will have a van there waiting to extract them.
Thank you, Herr Schmidt. I will pass your offer on to my team.
Good day, Herr Amsel.
Not sure what to think of this one, we've developed what could probably be described as a healthy distrust for mystery boxes and vague mission descriptions. AG Chemie primarily specializes in chemistry and genetics so who knows what kind of illegal biological weapon we're being tasked to look for here, could be something potentially dangerous to even carry around. But we can ill-afford to pass on that kind of money and we have no other options anyway, so...
Alright box, we're giving you the benefit of the doubt and presume you're not another surprise bomb or some other "fun" surprise we'll find out about at the exact worst possible moment during the run. Don't let us down now.
No rest for the wicked, off we go.
We don't usually leave Eiger on the bench thanks to all the firepower she brings, but it's nice to shuffle things around occasionally and by now the rest of our crew should be strong enough to hold their own in combat.
Alright "MKVI", whether you're some illegal biochemical experiment or a long-lost entry of a popular fighting game series from the early 90s, you're about to find yourself a new home.
It didn't really fit into the main update but for completion's sake, here are the conversations with Blitz for the two other resolutions to his mission. First, believing Blitz and killing Hasenkamp with no appearance from Grinder:
So, Hasenkamp's dead. That's something, I guess. But don't we still have Grinder to worry about?
Nah, not so much. Remember what Hasenkamp said... he was the one who handled all of Grinder's finances. It's tough to hang onto a criminal empire when you can't keep your books balanced.
He doesn't need a criminal empire to cut your thumbs off, Blitz. All that he needs is a pair of scissors and a grudge.
It's fine, chief. Don't worry about it... I've got the situation under control. And I really, really mean it this time.
What are you planning on doing?
Well, I got that custom software off of Plotz, right? The next time that Grinder jacks into the Matrix, I'm gonna be there, waiting for him. And I'm gonna use that software to see to it that Grinder never jacks back out again.
All right, Blitz. As long as you don't need my help to do it.
I've got it covered, chief. Don't worry, you won't hear peep from me about Grinder ever again. Now, is there anything else, or can I go about my day?
And not believing Blitz which leads to Grinder taking out Hasenkamp:
So, I think it's fair to say that your debt to Grinder has been settled. Do you have any other debts that I need to worry about?
Nah, nothing worth mentioning. And I mean it this time! We've been making good money, and I've paid off everyone else already. You've got nothing more to worry about from me.
[There is a pause, then Blitz looks you in the eye.]
Oh, and, uh, chief... do you have anything that you want to say to me? Maybe a little something about trusting my word over that of a gangland stooge? That kind of thing?
No, not really.
[He scowls.] Well. Gee. You just can't give it to me, can you, chief? You can't give me the satisfaction?
All right, Blitz. Calm down. You were right, I was wrong. Is that what you wanted to hear?
Yep! Now, was that so hard? ...You don't need to answer that, it was a rhetorical question.
The discussion on the BBS also changes depending on the outcome so here's those as well. This version for having believed Blitz reads like you're meant to see it a bit later as it implies he's already taken Grinder out in the Matrix:
- Tolstoi <17:12:54/11-14-54> [Looks like someone tried a good old-fashioned bank robbery out in Drogenkippe the other day... one of those old, defunded banks still had some funds in it, apparently. One of the poor bastards ran afoul of the building's defense turrets, and there isn't much of him left.]
- The Smiling Bandit <Strikes Again!/Ha-Ha-Ha> [Speaking of which, a friend out in Berlin tells me that the biggest loan shark out in Drogenkippe got taken down yesterday. Some fat, sadsack troll called "Meat Grinder." My pal was supposed to run collections for him, but instead of getting paid, he wound up having to deal with the body.]
- Maelstrom <18:09:37/11-14-54> [Sounds like a revenge hit to me. What goes around comes around.]
- WraithLike44 <23:32:11/11-14-54> [That tub of lard will keep the ghouls fed for a month.]
- BlueBeerd <23:52:19/11-14-54> [Forget the ghouls, think of all those people who just had their credit restored! Free money!]
And the alternative:
- Tolstoi <17:12:54/11-14-54> [Looks like there was a good old-fashioned bank robbery out in Drogenkippe the other day... one of those old, defunded banks still had some funds in it, apparently. Whoever it was, they played it clean... waltzed right in, transferred away a load of nuyen, and left before things went sideways.]
- The Smiling Bandit <Strikes Again!/Ha-Ha-Ha> [Not *that* clean. There were a couple of bodies out by the front gates. Looks like they ran afoul of the defense turrets... I've got the holopics in front of me, and what's left of them isn't a a pretty sight.]
- Maelstrom <18:09:37/11-14-54> [They made the transfer though. Left the bankers in the lurch, there's no capitol left! Their whole operation is coming down around them!]
- WraithLike44 <23:32:11/11-14-54> [I'm sure that's very comforting for them. Oh, no, wait, they're dead.]
- ProShot <23:59:01/11-14-54> [They made big bucks, man. In my book, that's a win, even if they *did* do it posthumously.]