The Let's Play Archive

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

by Kanfy

Part 45: A Toxic Work Environment (Part 1)

Part 45 - A Toxic Work Environment (Part 1)


(The last section of Shady Deal we haven't heard yet, and slightly better of the two ambient tracks.)

Like so many grand tales, today's story begins in an entirely nondescript underground parking garage. If this were the original PS1 Driver this would also be where our story ends because we'd never get past the tutorial, instead spending the rest of our lives failing at doing slaloms while the world burns around us.

But that won't be an issue of course since we're not here to drive, we're here to run. Run the shadows, that is! Boom!

Our objective is fairly simple if a tad vague: Head upstairs using a security-disabling box of some nature provided by Mr. Schmidt, find this prototype that's supposed to be located in the office of a man named Albrecht Haushofer, bring it back down here and head home some twenty thousand nuyen richer.

Luckily we were promised a "simple smash-and-grab operation" with "minimum of fuss" by our client and what reason do we have to believe otherwise? Well there was that incredibly ominous prophecy from Absinthe, but it's probably like the weather forecast, it can't always be accurate.

Still, this isn't our first "no fuss" operation and past experience dictates that sometimes you should bring a backup grenade launcher on a milk run if you happen to have one lying around. Never know when the milk turns out to be sour after all.

The elevators are locked down so our first order of business is finding a maintenance console to stick this box into so it can do its magic and give us access. We're heading for the 25th floor so we sure as hell aren't taking the stairs. Not that these corporate buildings ever really seem to do stairs to begin with.

Luckily this is a parking garage and not some mad wizard's maze, so the console in question is just sitting here in plain sight without so much as a locked gate in front of it.

Time to do your thing little box, whatever it is.

Well what do you know, it actually worked exactly as advertised. Not disappointing but admittedly a little surprising.

Handy little thing. All right, team, let's go.

Before heading up, we grab an Advanced Medkit from the medical cabinet in the corner. A great thing about being a criminal is that you don't feel particularly bad for stripping every room of their medical supplies undoubtedly meant to save someone's life in an actual emergency.

There are also some marked crates nearby, wonder if this "Project Atlas" is related to the MKVI. Would be pretty embarassing if we made it all the way upstairs only to find out the thing was inside here all along. Well, let's just keep the name in mind for now.

While we're heading towards the elevators to see if the way up is clear...

Rosa. Do not speak, just listen. I have a proposition for you.

Oh right, almost forgot about this goober from the apparently very powerful and dangerous shadow organization you should never ever do business with if you value your life and freedom, the one we've done business with several times.

These guys too, huh? Whatever this prototype is, it's starting to sound like something pretty important.

Once you've acquired the MKVI, you will proceed back to the garage as planned. There, you will find a transport parked beside your client's van. Load the MKVI into the transport, and you will be rewarded. "Herr Schmidt" will also be dealt with to protect you from reprisal.

A competing offer, is it. He didn't mention how much the Lodge would pay, but it's likely that they know about Schmidt's offer so one would presume it'd at least match it. We should maybe consult our team about this one, see what they think.

Hey, hold up a second.

What's going on, chief?

We could lie about the nature of the call we got...


That was Herr Schmidt. There's been a change of plans... he's gonna have two vans waiting in the garage. We're to put the MKVI in the second one.

Stupid corporate bastard. What's he thinkin', changin' plans on us just as we're gettin' set to roll into the run?

What are our employers *ever* thinking? Sometimes it seems like they're all out to screw us.

Yeah, tell me about it. Makes me wish that we could screw 'em right back... but that's not the world we live in, is it? Well, anyway. The second van it is, then. Let's get moving.

...but we'd be a pretty crappy team leader if we did that. Obviously our crew always comes first, and certainly before these Lodge bastards.

I just got a comm from a contact of mine. His organization wants the MKVI for themselves, and they're offering us a lot of money to make that happen.

This contact of yours, boss... we talkin' about who I think we're talkin' about?

That depends on who you think we're talking about.

The organization that we discussed a little while back. The big, scary one. The one that I told you not to take money from.

This conversation of course only happens since we mentioned the Lodge to Dietrich way back when. In general this discussion has a lot of variations depending on what is said and who is present, but for the sake of keeping things moving we'll cover the more interesting ones at the end of the update for those interested in alternate dialogue.

Yeah. That's who we're talking about.

Yeah. I was afraid you'd say that. And now they've got you on their leash, with us alongside you.

What is he talking about?

[She turns to stare at you.] Rosa... just what have you gotten us into?

I won't lie - we're in bed with some dangerous people. But this could work to our benefit.

I'll back you, chief, no matter what you choose to do. But I, for one, hope that you take the offer.

Pretty sure that kind of math where you only consider the immediate gain and ignore the long-term consequences is what led to you going into massive debt, Blitz. Not that we can really rag on anyone for making some bad calls at the moment, I guess.

In any case, before we decide what to do with this prototype we'll have to find the damn thing first, so let's focus on that for now. The elevator appears to be unlocked and functional so let's head on up to the 24th floor which is as far as it can take us.

Alright, so far so good, no alarms or ambushes or anything. We usually have pretty good luck getting into places unnoticed though, it's when we need to leave that things have a nasty habit of going sideways. Gonna have to work on that part at some point.

Hey now, we're not in Drogenkippe anymore, don't forget who calls the shots here.

Check yourself, Blitz. You wait for my go from here on out.

Okay, chief. You got it.

Still, having control of the floor's remarkably numerous cameras gives us a great deal of visibility over this floor.

There are two things of note to our south and east, namely another elevator which presumably goes up to where we're heading, and also a security room with at least four guards inside. They don't seem to be aware of our presence, but we might need to go take 'em out just in case. Plus there could be stuff in there.

Mostly offices and what seems to be a storage room or maintenance closet of some kind to the north. There's also a door leading somewhere without a camera in it, and a partially visible room with a bunch of computers to the left.

To our west is what appears to be a fairly sizeable laboratory. And... is that a body on the floor peeking from behind one of those tables in there? Gonna have to get closer to make sure, so we might as well start our floor tour from that direction.

Here's the way in the lab, but...

...something appears to have gone awry inside. You'd think there'd be more of a general commotion about what looks like a fatal gas leak, but the security staff didn't seem particularly concerned. Maybe it happened between now and Schmidt's box messing up the surveillance systems? Guess we're gonna have to find a way to deal with this ourselves as usual if we want to get in there.

Maybe we can get something done from here.

14 cameras on a single floor though, infiltrating this place would give even Solid Snake a hard time. Now let's see if we can do something about this gas situation.

Phosgene gas, that stuff was used as a chemical weapon back in World War I and was apparently particularly hard to detect. Everyone knows that working in a corporate environment can be suffocating but sheesh. Definitely gonna have to get rid of that stuff before stepping in there.

There are a couple of ways to go about it, the main one being the introduction of another gaseous agent into the laboratory to neutralize the phosgene. That is if you know which one, and normally we'd have to go find a way to access the building's substance library and look through there to find the answer.

Being well-educated is also a valid alternative however. Stay in school kids, you'll be glad for it when the dystopian hell existence inevitably forces you to a life of a career criminal.

And there we go, quick and easy. Typing in this or "NH3" are the only valid answers so you can't get it wrong and accidentally start melting the walls or anything.

Open sesammonia! We gain 2 Karma for playing with dangerous gases plus a third for disengaging the lockdown. Another alternative would be to purge the air of contaminants by venting the phosgene outside after forging the necessary authorization to do so with Decking 5, but doing it that way means you lose out on the 2 Karma for your air pollution and attempt to go full 1915 on the next-door neighbors.

Mm-mm, breathe in that ammonia. Not entirely sure if the science checks out about this room being safe to enter already, but instead of worrying about that we'll just start going through all this stuff.

Wonder what happened here, another case of someone neglecting safety precautions again?

Maybe the guy's computer will shed some light on the matter.

Text File posted:

I didn't sleep last night. Doesn't look like I'm going to sleep tonight, either. The last test batch failed. My fault, I got the mixture wrong. Sloppy work, Jensen!

I can barely keep my eyes open. Got to try again, though... no excuses in this office! I despise relying on stimulants, but I've got no choice. Got to keep going! Progress marches on!

Starting a new batch. If Haushofer's pet isn't ready to be tested tomorrow... well, best not to think about that. Got to concentrate. Remember lab safety: Keep alert, keep awake. One wrong move could spell disastttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

Yeah, rip Jensen. Maybe if we hadn't gotten held up by that potato head Duerr we could've been here in time to save you, oh well. Also, "Haushofer's pet"? If that's the same thing we're after, it had better be something tame and cooperative or bringing it back downstairs could be an ordeal and a half.

Three entries in total, each one week apart. Guess we don't really have a reason to be digging through random text files instead of looking for the prototype like we're supposed to, but we don't have any grumpy old codgers breathing down our neck anymore so who's gonna stop us?

Entry from Two Weeks Ago posted:

The new formula arrived today! "Formula 17." I swear, whoever names these things must have no imagination at all. Formula 17? Honestly.

...Still, I can't wait to start working with it. From what I've read, early clinical trials were promising in the extreme. Amazingly potent, this stuff. And increased potency means less frequent injections, at a lower dosage. There's nothing not to like.

Despite my enthusiasm, there is still much to be done. Speeding up absorption rates is first on the list, and I have some concerns regarding the subjects' immune reactions. Perhaps the formula could be tailored on a patient-by-patient basis...

Not really enough context to make anything out of that one, but it's probably something shady and unethical as always. We'll make a mental note about this "Formula 17" and move on to the next one.

Entry from Last Week posted:

Tailoring doses to individual patients has worked wonders! The key was taking a gene therapy-based approach... they've been using it in medicine for ages, so why not apply the same logic here? So, in a nutshell, I've used the subjects' own DNA to delude their immune systems into believing that Formula 17 belongs in their bodies. Simple and effective.

This approach has helped to increase the formula's absorbtion rate, as well as significantly reducing incidences of rejection. Unfortunately, it also rules out an easily mass-produced product, but I am convinced that the results will justify the additional costs.

This is some Umbrella-ass language, kinda reminiscent of some of that stuff we saw in Sutterlin BioScience. Let's just hope we won't bump into Billy's distant cousins here.

Entry from Yesterday posted:

A WEEK! He waits an ENTIRE WEEK before telling me that tailoring the mixture is an "unacceptable solution." And THEN, he tells me that the trials are to begin TOMORROW!

I have no time, and Giesbrecht's applying so much pressure that I can barely think. Bastard! Haushofer's probably threatening him. All of them can rot. Maybe now that Haushofer's playing heat-the-sheets with Giesbrecht's secretary, he'll learn to lighten up. We can only hope.

ANYWAY. I have some new ideas to move forward with the formula. Admittedly, they're far-fetched... possibly even dangerous. But if I don't start producing some results, I get the feeling that it won't be my problem for much longer.

Wish me luck, journal. It's Science time.

Haushofer's a name we recognize, though we're not particularly interested in his workplace trysts. Giesbrecht's a new name, we'll throw that into the pile with the rest of 'em.

Nothing else of interest on the computer so we get to lootin', starting from the late scientist's Jazz bottle on the table. Not to be consumed when it's "Science time", evidently.

Another Advanced Medkit on the wall. Didn't do much good for the guy on the floor, but we can always use more of 'em.

The last thing of note here is, well, a note.

Stromberg's Note posted:

I'm still waiting for that report... when I said "ASAP," I meant "I needed it yesterday." Stay until you've completed the tests, then leave the report on my desk. The door code is 54139. DO THIS TONIGHT. I'll expect to see it waiting for me when I arrive tomorrow.


Finally something we should be able to make concrete use of. Another new name as well, Lennart Stromberg.

They got the wrong name in the description though, it can be hard to keep all these German names straight. That's all there is to do in the laboratory, so let's move on and check out the rest of the floor.

We'll leave the computer room we saw earlier for a bit later and head north to the office area. First stop, the maintenance room.

These places are usually pretty juicy targets, but this one turns out to be a major disappointment. Nothing here but another Medkit on the wall, and a Basic Medkit at that which is almost insulting at this stage.

The next room seems to belong to a junior executive. Harrdegger's a fun name to say out loud. Harrdegger. Harrrrrrdeggerrr. Heh. Door's open so we invite ourselves in.

Free access to the bar just so happens to be part of the invitation. It's written somewhere in there, promise.

Those armed with the Socialite etiquette, which won't ever come up again after this by the way, would be able to tell which bottle here is worth the most money and could therefore make an informed decision about which one to bring with them. But mingling with the high society was never exactly our scene, so we'll just grab one at random like a goddamn brute and move on.

Could end up real thankful we have this, depending on how the rest of the night plays out.

But drinks aren't the only thing that's being offered for free in this office. How about some information to go with it?

The brick wall labyrinth was always the best one.

Huh. Speaking of information being free...

Schockwellenreiter Message posted:

>>>>>Schockwellenreiter Contributor #1432 recognized. Welcome, Rosa.

>>>>>Re: Secret Projects

>>>>>This is an open request for information about the projects and material prototypes being developed at this facility.

>>>>>It is known that a synthetic drug is being developed here in support of a project called "Atlas." In addition, a functional prototype called "MKVI" has been developed.

>>>>>The first contributor to provide us with the PROJECT DATA for Atlas, the CHEMICAL FORMULA for this new drug, and VISUAL RECORDS of the MKVI in operation will be handsomely rewarded.

>>>>>All three pieces of information are required for a payout.

>>>>>AG Chemie Europa is known to be a heartless corporation with little regard for metahuman safety or morality. They guard their secrets jealously and seek to hoard all information gained for themselves.

>>>>>This behavior cannot be allowed to go unpunished. What they know, all shall know. No longer will they hide their secrets in the shadows.

>>>>>The timely delivery of this information will be well-rewarded.


Waiting until a supporter just happens to stare at the screensaver of a random computer in an unremarkable office sure seems like an unreliable and unnecessarily contrived way to make contact. The Lodge are apparently some kind of a global shadow conspiracy vying for world domination or whatever and even that bunch just uses a phone!

Either way, our optional objectives have really started to pile up now. Whether or not this potentially dangerous information should really be available to literally everyone is a matter we can ponder once we've gotten ahold of it, but answers to questions like that tend to be fairly simple as long as payment is involved.

We have still have quite a bit of this floor left to cover, but this is a pretty good cut-off point so we'll get to that next time.

-- EXTRAS --

As mentioned in the update there's a variety of different conversations relating to Duerr's call in the garage, depending on who's present and what you decide to do about it (if anything). They'll be covered here for people interested in seeing bits of dialogue and crew interaction which don't come up during the LP proper.

First up are the reactions if you lie to your team about the caller, minus Dietrich's which was already included.

That was Herr Schmidt. There's been a change of plans... he's gonna have a second van pull in while we're upstairs. He wants us to load the MKVI into that one.



[Her mouth curls into a frown.] Pretty amateur hour of him to change things up at the last second like this.

Tell me about it. But hey, the job's the job.

[She sighs.] Yeah. All right. The second van it is. Come on, let's get moving.



Interesting. It's strange of them to change plans on us at the last minute like this.

Yeah, well, you know corporate-types. Everything has to happen on their timetable, however arbitrary it may be.

[She shrugs.] True enough. All right. The second van it is. Let's get moving.



[He rolls his eyes.] Typical. "Hey, go do this, and follow my instructions to the letter. You doing it yet? Okay, plan's changed."

Yeah, tell me about it.

Well, at least he let us know before we got out of the garage. The second van it is. Let's get moving.

Next up are the potential conversations if Dietrich hasn't been told about the Lodge. If he has then everyone's reactions are pretty much the same variation of "what have you gotten us into" which aren't interesting enough to be worth showing off. Included are the versions for both deciding to refuse and accept the offer.

I just got a comm from a contact of mine. His organization wants the MKVI for themselves, and they're offering us a lot of money to make that happen.



Not sure how I feel about that, boss... we need the money, an' all, but I'm not sure that betraying our employers is the right way to get it. I dunno. It's your call, of course. But me? I wouldn't do it.

All I'm saying is that I got the call. I haven't decided what to do about it yet.

I guess that, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter all that much which group of corporate bastards get their hands on the MKVI. What I'm sayin' is that it's your call. I'll back you on it either way.

I don't think that we should make a habit of turnin' our backs on our clients, though. I know that if someone did that to me, I'd lay 'em in the ground for it.


I've made a decision. We're sticking to the original plan and delivering the prototype to Herr Schmidt.

Yeah, that's probably the best way to go. It's what we agreed to, after all.


We need my contact's resources more than we need Herr Schmidt to like us. We're going to take the offer.

This might be a mistake, boss... I've never been big on knifin' people in the back. But I guess that it's your mistake to make. I've got your back, just like I always do. Let's get this thing done.



More money, huh? I like money. ...And more importantly, we *need* money, for the Alice fund. So, yeah. Sounds to me like we should do this, chief. Good choice!

All I'm saying is that I got the call. I haven't decided what to do about it yet.

I don't know who this mystery contact is, but we need money, and we need it fast. So I say, go for it. Besides, if we piss off this "Herr Schmidt," who cares? I mean, we live in Berlin! There're bound to be *plenty* of other clients out there.


I've made a decision. We're sticking to the original plan and delivering the prototype to Herr Schmidt.

I wish you'd reconsider this, chief. If we're gonna collect Alice's fee in time to save our own skins, we're gonna need to take all of the opportunities we can get, and this looks like a pretty great one to me. I don't know why we're passing it up.


We need my contact's resources more than we need Herr Schmidt to like us. We're going to take the offer.

I'm behind you a hundred percent, chief. This is the right call, no question about it. Now let's get this thing, get it back to your contact, and earn us some money!



I think that betraying our employer would be a mistake. Whatever your contact is offering us, it can't be worth the hit that our reputation would take if people learned that we betrayed our employer.

I don't think that the information will get out. My contact has offered to "deal with" Herr Schmidt.

In that case, going through with this new plan would render us complicit in the intimidation - or perhaps even the assassination - of our client. I'm not sure how that's an improvement.

All I'm saying is that I got the call. I haven't decided what to do about it yet.

I don't know what to tell you other than that it's your call. Whatever you choose to do, we'll back you on it. That said, you probably shouldn't make a habit of stabbing our employers in the back. We have enough enemies already. No need to add to the list.


I've made a decision. We're sticking to the original plan and delivering the prototype to Herr Schmidt.

[She nods.] That's the call that I would make.


We need my contact's resources more than we need Herr Schmidt to like us. We're going to take the offer.

I think that this is a mistake, Rosa. But as the leader of this team, it's yours to make. I'll back you. We all will. I just hope that we don't wind up regretting it.



I think I must have misheard you. For a second there, it sounded like you were thinking of stabbing our client in the back for some extra nuyen.

...But that can't be what you said, because you know better than to do something like that. Right?

All I'm saying is that I got the call. I haven't decided what to do about it yet.

Well, you already know how I feel, but you are the leader of this team. I guess it's up to you.


I've made a decision. We're sticking to the original plan and delivering the prototype to Herr Schmidt.

[She nods.] Good to see you making the right call.


We need my contact's resources more than we need Herr Schmidt to like us. We're going to take the offer.

What you're really saying is, you're going to trash our reputation for a few extra nuyen. Bad call, fearless leader.

[She shakes her head.]

Really bad call.

As a final thing of note, there's one completely different version of the conversation which as far as I can tell happens only if you've told Dietrich about the Lodge but have no other crew members except for him in the group.


I dunno, boss. I don't like lettin' anyone tell me what to do... I wanna say to hell with 'em, and leave it at that. But this is the Black Lodge we're talkin' about. If they want somethin' from us, it might be best to just give it to 'em.

I'm a little surprised to hear you say that, Dietrich. You've always struck me as... fearless, for lack of a better word.

Nah. I've got a lot of fear in me, same as anyone else. I just don't let it tell me what to do. That doesn't mean that I can't recognize a threat, though.

Are you saying that they'd turn their guns on us?

Not right away, but sure. I've heard enough stories to believe that they would... it's happened plenty often before. You don't get to be a global conspiracy by lettin' people step on your toes.

I guess what I'm sayin' is, you should know what you've gotten us into. Disappoint the Lodge, an' they might come after us. It probably wouldn't happen soon - they're nothing if not patient. Might even take a year or two. But eventually, long after we've forgotten all about this little adventure, they'll come knockin'.

I won't let anyone intimidate me into doing anything. If I decide to take Duerr's offer, it won't be because I'm scared of him.

Fine by me, boss. I'd probably do the same thing... just wanted to make sure that you knew the stakes of the game.

[He cracks his knuckles.]

Let's get movin', then. We've got a job to do.