The Let's Play Archive

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

by Kanfy

Part 53: Engineered Solutions

Part 53 - Engineered Solutions

We've concluded that the banged-up corpse in the other room had likely ended up getting a bit too into an especially intense type of BTL chip, likely the same kind we managed to retrieve from the courier drone before it self-destructed and which our ill-mannered friend on the floor here also seems pretty keen on.

[Eiger glances up from your manic captive and looks you in the eye.]

Find what you were looking for?

Yeah. I pried the dead guy's chipjack open and found a blob of melted plastic inside. It was still warm to the touch.

Yeah, I agree. But the ganger who slotted this wasn't blissed out like a normal sim-junkie. It was almost the opposite... he looked wild, like a madman.

Surprisingly expressive for a dead guy, really.


[The Engineer lets out a chuckle. It's a hoarse, barking sound.]

You don't know a damned thing.

I know that you'd love to get your hands on that chip Eiger's holding... if you could move your hands, that is.

You really want this thing, don't you?

[She waves the chip in front of his eyes.]

This is junkie behavior. Whatever this thing is, you're hooked on it.

Okay... Getting the feeling this guy's less "hooked" and more "already on the cleaning table and offering his belly for the fillet knife". Eagerly, at that.

[Eiger stares at him, her expression flat. The Engineer sneers.]

I, too, was a skeptic. Then the Wolf caught me, and the Raven opened my eyes. And now, at last, I CAN *SEE!*

Well he's sure gone off the deep end in a hurry. We're obviously holding a real strong bargaining chip in more ways than one, so now looks like our best chance to go on the offensive.

Tell us who you're working for, and it's all yours.



[There is a moment of silence. Finally, Eiger speaks.]

Never heard of them.

Of course you haven't, bitch. If you had, you'd already be dead. They don't leave loose ends.

Yeah you sure are looking as tight as they come right now buddy.

[His body begins to tremble. It looks like the drugs are wearing off.]

T-they have money, she-troll. M-money and influence enough to put the syndicates to shame. Even I cannot say how much, but I d-do know that what I've seen is just the tip of the s-s-spear.

All right. Let's say that you're telling the truth, and some sort of secret society is behind this. What do they want with Schattennest?

Th-they do not tell me these things. All I know is that they w-w-want to store things here. Crates. Boxes. Shipped in f-f-from all over. No cargo inspections, and no t-t-traces back to th-them.

What are they shipping in? Weapons? Drugs? More of these BTLs?

[He eyes her incredulously.] You th-think that I asked them? It is n-n-not my p-place to know. All th-that I know is what was p-promised to m-m-me.


*I,* on the other hand, didn't offer you a goddamned thing.

Guy definitely got one thing right, as far as Eiger's concerned he was dead the moment we caught him. Understandable from all we've heard, and doubt anyone halfway decent would shed a tear for a scumbucket this rank getting thrown overboard, but we did certainly make a deal.

After all if the man whose electronic bits have been disabled wants to slot a BTL chip this badly, then we can certainly oblige at least that much.

Put the knife away, Eiger. I gave him my word.

[She turns to stare at you.] You're not suggesting that we let this monster live, are you? Do you know what's going to happen when his cyberware powers back up?

If we were feeling real soft we could claim that it's not right to coldly murder a captive even as rotten as him, but suffice it to say that it's not a plan Eiger is really onboard with when she already has him within stabbing distance.

I'm suggesting that we keep my promise. If he wants the chip so badly, give it to him.

[He licks his lips and nods feverishly.]

I... I have a stash, here in this warehouse. A custom rifle. It's all yours if you give me what is mine.

[Eiger looks back over to you and raises an eyebrow.]

I could use a new rifle. What do you think, fearless leader?

This is basically our last chance to decide which one of two potential pieces of equipment we'll walk away with. Coming this far and making this deal is the only way to obtain a unique assault rifle for Eiger, while any other path (including failing to retrieve the chip intact in the first place) nets her a unique grenade instead.

For a min-maxer the grenade might be better since it deals major AP damage and one can always loan a store-bought rifle to a crew member, but we've never bothered doing that so a rifle suits our purposes quite well.

Deal. Once we know where the stash is, give him the chip.

[He nods feverishly.] O-over there. In the c-c-corner. Th-there's a duffel b-bag under the f-f-floor plate. N-now GIVE IT TO ME.

All right, Yuli. It's all yours.

Let no one say we don't keep our deals. Well, unless said deals really screw over someone undeserving and we're not paid quite enough to look the other way.


Real shame for our man here that him and "undeserving" went their separate ways a long time ago.

I said that we'd give you the chip. I never promised that it would work.


Good luck with that.

Bet you don't even know how to input that Fatality.

[Eiger takes a step back.]

Something's wrong. Look at his hands.

...Well that doesn't seem right. Did this guy just reactivate his electronics with the power of sheer anger?

How long was that cyberware deactivator supposed to last?

[She reaches for her shotgun.]

Longer than this. I'm going to kill Bannik when--

Whoa! Step back, Rosa... *way* back.

Oh fuck!

Well... guess that's one way to take care of any potential moral dilemmas regarding murdering prisoners. Good thing it wasn't a bigger bomb, decorating the walls of an old warehouse in the middle of Piss City isn't our first choice for a final resting place.

His employers. Winternight. They must have implanted that thing in him.

Yeah, and judging by the way he reacted, he didn't know that they'd done it. They must have thrown it in while he was getting other work done. I'm willing to bet that if we hadn't used the cyberware deactivator on him, he'd've gone up before he had the chance to spill any names.

If you were looking for proof of who his employer was, I think that this was it.

Things took a bit of a turn there, but end of the day we can consider our mission a success and success should be rewarded.

Here you go, Eiger. All yours.

We don't have the option to keep it for ourselves, even if we were interested in something as crude as guns instead of taking a much cooler and more literal approach to the concept of firearms.

[She takes the bag from you and unzips it. Her eyes go wide.]

When he said that this was custom, he wasn't kidding.

[Gingerly, she reaches into the bag and pulls out a sleek, angular shape.]

This is a Steyr AUG-CSL multiweapon system. A very nice - and very expensive - piece of hardware. Yuli put a lot of after-market work into this. I don't even recognize some of the accessories he's bolted onto this thing.

Pull the small lever on the side and it'll play some relaxing jazz and pour you a nice warm cup of chai. Oh, and the gun itself obviously doesn't have a 2-turn cooldown, that refers to the cooldown of its unique ability. Probably ended up listed among the other stats by mistake.

You feel comfortable using it?

Nothing like simultaneously carrying a shotgun, an assault rifle and a sniper rifle to make it clear that distance is never an obstacle for having a good time.

[She slings the rifle, then claps you on the shoulder.]

Come on, fearless leader. Let's get back home.

Lead the way, I'm right behind you.

Time to get out of here. Pretty nice and simple run where things more or less worked as expected for once. Gotta enjoy those when we can.

As tends to be the case for side runs like these, our karmic rewards are low and monetary ones non-existent. We do have a fair amount of Karma saved up at this point though, so we might as well take this opportunity to beef up our stats some.

We spend all of our 26 Karma and increase our Body by 2 and our Intelligence, Biotech and Charisma by 1, the latter allowing us to pick up the Academic etiquette. We're still wearing the suit providing us with +2 Charisma but that's entirely redundant so we're only really sticking to it for style reasons.

Alright, let's go hash out our conclusions about what happened in Schattennest and then see what's next on our plate.

We should talk about what happened with the Engineer.

[She nods.] Agreed. I'm ready to go over it if you are.

The contents of this discussion obviously vary depending on what we learned during the run (or what Eiger learned if she handled it alone) but we'll cover the other versions later.

So, the Engineer was working for a secret society. I wasn't expecting that.

Neither was I.

[She frowns.]

A part of me is still having trouble believing it. But it's true... Yuli wasn't lying. I could see it in his eyes.

Have you been able to do any digging on Winternight?

No. There just isn't much reliable information out there. Whoever these guys are, they're very good at information control. None of my contacts could find anything but rumor and conjecture, and most of that is too crazy to even consider.

Quick work considering we literally just arrived back home, but passage of time can get a bit weird when you can have these conversations at any point.

Maybe they're not that much of a threat. A small-time operation wouldn't get much press, either.

Maybe. But then, a small-time operation couldn't afford to hire the Engineer. He wouldn't even talk to an organization that couldn't pay top dollar for his services.

Maybe they tricked him into popping one of those "God chips"? Got him addicted without ever offering him any money?

[She frowns.] It's possible, I suppose, but I doubt it. Yuli was a bastard, but he was a careful bastard. Anyway, we stopped them, whatever they're up to.

Probably learned their lesson and won't ever bother anyone again.

Just out of curiosity, when you say the rumors about Winternight are crazy, how crazy are we talking?

Gotta be at least twelve different Norwegian metal bands with lyrics about that exact combination of things.

There are a lot of crazy things going on in this world. That doesn't mean they're not real.

[She nods slowly.] Yes, there are, and no, it doesn't. But this... this is just too far out for me to accept. It's far more likely that they released these stories themselves to throw people off of whatever they're really doing.

Anyway. We stopped 'em cold in Schattennest. Whatever their business is... whatever was going to be in those crates that the Engineer was having shipped there... it isn't our problem any more. The Kreuzbasar is safe. On that front, at least.

I hope you're right.

Chin up, fearless leader. We did good back there. Besides which, we still have a dragon to worry about.

Yeah thanks Eiger, that little problem had almost slipped our mind.


So since we're done talking about them, it's probably worth explaining the significance of Winternight for the setting which is primarily that, 10 years after the events of this game, they would team up with the Matrix cult Ex Pacis who'd at their behest develop a powerful dissonance virus dubbed Jormungand which would bring about the desruction of most of the globe's wired Matrix network in an event that would become known as Crash 2.0 (named so as the first internet crash already happened in 2029).

This was fueled by Winternight's belief that the Matrix held their god Loki prisoner and freeing the ol' trickster by blowing up the internet (alongside other fun things like terrorist attacks, inducing destructive earthquakes and causing a prolonged nuclear winter) was necessary to bring about Ragnarok. Also tried to redirect the Halley comet so that it'd collide with the Earth once, didn't work though.

The so-called "God" chips that we got an early preview of were one of the methods used to control the key individuals which made such a large-scale operation possible. The actual leader of Winternight was a toxic Raven shaman known as Wednesday because of course it was, dig deep enough and you'll find some toxic shaman or another behind every damn problem. In fact a number of them were involved with Winternight, something of a rarity since they're not usually team players.

Ultimately they managed to wreak quite a bit of havoc but full-on apocalyptic levels of damage were averted and both Wednesday and Winternight were brought to their end, but obviously the world would never be the same after.

There's a lot more to the whole business of course, an AI wanting to become an internet god was also involved and the Matrix would eventually be rebuilt in wireless form, but that's outside the scope of this LP where Rosa & co. are still blissfully ignorant about all the nonsense to come. Speaking of, let's get back to it.


While we're on the topic... when I left that room to search for clues, the Engineer told you something. Something that pushed you over the edge.

[Her eyes narrow.] That son of a bitch said a lot of things. What of it?

You knew that we needed him, but you beat him badly. I'm worried about that lapse of control.

You don't need to be. There's nothing wrong with my self-control. I made a *choice* to unload on Yuli because he was a murderous asshole. I knew how much pressure to apply, which bones to break, and which ones to leave alone. And I did all of those things.

...Glad we managed to put our initial differences aside, Eiger.

Fair enough, but why? What did he tell you to push you to that point?

He told me about a bunch of Polish towns that my unit swept for Syndicate activity. He told me how the mob poured back in right after we left, and what they did to the people who'd accepted our help.

Polish towns really never catch a break.

Yuli seemed to find all of this hilarious. Yeah, I know that he was pushing my buttons on purpose. And yeah, I know that he was trying to make me lose control. But the hell with it - he deserved a good beating.

Yuli didn't pull any punches, so *I* didn't pull any punches. And if you have a problem with that, you can go and get fucked.

Cool down, Eiger. We're both on the same side here.

If I leave things where they stand, there'll always be some hope that he was lying. But if I dig into this and find that he was telling the truth... if I find out that none of what we did *meant* anything...

Even if he was telling the truth, that doesn't invalidate what your unit was doing over there.

Doesn't it? Our actions might have drawn attention to those people. Made them targets.

You and your team were doing good over there. Whatever the Mafia did afterward is on them, not you.

[She gives you a brusque nod.] You're right. It isn't. No more moping about - I promise. And I *will* look into this, Rosa. Wherever this trail leads me, I'll follow it, and I won't stop until I find the truth.

Good to hear. For a second there, I thought you'd gone soft on me.

When you are ready to start looking, you can call on me for help. I've got your back, Eiger.

This offer comes with the caveat that we're not smouldering corpses on the ground by then, obviously.

[She nods.] I know it. And I'm glad. Now, let's change tack. Is there anything else from the run that you'd like to go over?

[She folds her arms across her chest.]

If you have any thoughts, I want to hear them.

Have you had a chance to play with that rifle that we got from the Engineer's stash?

Yeah. It's a beautiful piece of engineering. Shoots straight, has good stopping power, holds a big magazine.

[She nods appreciatively.]

A really nice gun.

Don't know much about rifles but it shooting bullets in a straight line definitely sounds like a feature you'd want in one.

You mentioned a bunch of after-market mods when we found it. Have you figured out what they do yet?

In layman's terms, you can use this thing to mark a target. There's cyberware that does the same thing, and deckers do it all the time. But this is the first time I've seen this kind of functionality on a rifle.

In practice the tracer shot increases a target's chance to be hit by 10% for a turn, which indeed is basically a lesser version of deckers' Mark Target. Nothing earth-shaking but it's as damaging and accurate as a normal shot so it is a consistent performer.

Not bad... not bad at all.

Of course for us who don't bother buying weapons for crew members, the real prize is Eiger gaining an assault rifle which is pretty much the best weapon type in the game and eliminates Eiger's last remaining blind spot. All in all she wrecks house even better than before and she didn't leave many walls standing to begin with.

[She pats the Engineer's rifle.]

This thing, though... this adds enough utility that I think it's worth the extra weight. I'll find a way to make it work.

That's all, Eiger. Thanks for the talk.

Thank you, fearless leader. Both for the chat, and for the assist on the run.

Alright, time to take a moment to relax from all this serious business and see what the Shadowland community is chatting about today.

That sounds... vaguely familiar...

- Tolstoi <18:42:39/11-15-54>
[So we've all seen this one floating about the 'trix, this is some serious stuff. It's got heavy-duty corp written all over it. Not a lot of players could be behind something like this... Ares, or S-K, or maybe one of the big pharma corps? Say Schering, or AGC?]

- Ruby <20:19:11/11-15-54>
['Course, you can never totally discount the Azzies either.]

- The Smiling Bandit <Strikes Again!/Ha-Ha-Ha>
[Tolstoi, my esteemed colleague, this is indeed a recipe for some top-shelf drek. Whispers from the shadows say that this is sourced straight from the F-State.]

- Brewmeister <22:43:52/11-15-54>
[Hello, boys! I'm a big fan! You know, long time reader, first time poster. Quite an interesting concoction you have here, I'm just itching to cook some up! So many interesting properties to play with, I've already got a few tweaks in mind for my own special version 2.0!]

- The Smiling Bandit <Strikes Again!/Ha-Ha-Ha>
[You sure that you want to do that? This stuff doesn't play nice, and Corps are really bad at sharing their toys.]

- Clockwork <22:49:23/11-15-54>
[You can, of course, always share their secrets for them! Just gotta make sure that you run a little faster than them.]

- The Smiling Bandit <Strikes Again!/Ha-Ha-Ha>
[Always running, eh CW?]

- Clockwork <23:02:41/11-15-54>
[Like clockwork!]

- Brewmeister <23:51:09/11-15-54>
[Bandit, I'm touched by your concern. But don't you worry about little 'ole me. I do declare, this shall be ever such fun!]

...It'll probably be fine. This discussion is only here because we sold the data to the Schockwellenreiter, by the way. Speaking of those guys...

- SCHOCKWELLEN_REITERS <18:40:19/11-15-54>
[The Reiters have it on good authority that the Winternight Cult is eyeing Schattennest for expansion. We do not have any information as to what purpose they have for Berlin yet, but for the good of the Flux, we should keep a watchful eye on this situation. See attached files for more details...]

- Tolstoi <19:01:29/11-15-54>
[Can’t track down much about these guys. What’s the big deal?]

- ProShot <19:17:06/11-15-54>
[Have a friend out in Cal Free State who swears that he's worked for them before. Says that they're the real deal - an honest-to-God global conspiracy. I thought he was full of drek... a Norwegian cult with money and influence to rival the big corps? Come on.]

- Tolstoi <19:17:54/11-15-54>
[Yeah, sounds a bit far-fetched.]

- ProShot <19:18:32/11-15-54>
[...That said, my buddy *is* rolling in nuyen, and hell if I know where it came from. Or maybe I should say "was."]

- Tolstoi <19:17:54/11-15-54>
[As in, past tense. So what happened?]

- ProShot <19:18:32/11-15-54>
[He went on a shooting rampage a few weeks back. Took out his entire family and a couple of neighbors before Lone Star managed to bring him down. He'll be sitting in one of their supermax facilities for the rest of his life, and the money got seized as evidence.]

- Tolstoi <19:18:45/11-15-54>
[Whoa. That's horrible, man.]

- ProShot <19:18:32/11-15-54>
[Yeah, it was. Thing is, I've read his arrest records. At the time that Lone Star tackled him, he was screaming crazy things... things about the world burning and a moon made of blood. So maybe there's something to all of this after all.]

- AlanAltbit <14:32:07/11-15-54>
[I’ve got solar panels like everybody, but does anyone have experience with these mana-turbine services? I’m off the grid, so there are some times when I need to do some late night decking, or maintenance on my telescoping limbs.]

- WraithLike44 <18:01:54/11-15-54>
[Is that the thing where a mage comes by and drops some juice into a generator? My buddy was telling me about them last week. The turbine spins the mana around and the charge lasts for weeks, he said.]

- Tolstoi <18:40:01/11-15-54>
[They’re a scam, chummer. That mage is going to be out of there with your money before you realize how much power you’ve actually got. You’re better off pedaling a bike-battery.]

And that'll more or less do it for today. Next time we'll take a trip to the ~Non-Canon Zone~ and see the less conclusive result to the Engineer job. Until then.

There's one potential discussion about stopping Winternight at the end of the mission which I opted not to take in the update proper. Just felt a bit out of character for Rosa who doesn't really have a personal stake in stopping them and has a pressing dragon issue besides, but there's enough to it that it's worth including here.


Come on, fearless leader. Let's get back home.

Hang on, Eiger... I'm not comfortable leaving Winternight to the Flux State. I think that we should handle them ourselves.

What you're suggesting is beyond the scope of our capabilities. I don't have any contacts in Norway. We wouldn't even know where to begin looking for Winternight, and if we found them, what then?

The two of us aren't going to stop an international conspiracy on our own. We're good, but we're not *that* good.

Speak for yourself.

The hell with that, we can't trust a bunch of strangers with this.

I understand where you're coming from, Rosa... believe me, I do. I like a clear resolution as much as anyone else. But out in the field, you almost never get one.

There are no easy fixes in my line of work. You don't kill the bad guy and have everyone live happily ever after - that's a fairy tale, not real life. The real world is more complicated than that.

That's something, I guess.

It's a lot, Rosa. Believe me. Come on, fearless leader. We're still in gang territory. Let's drop this and get moving.

Also this kind of funny way to skip the whole discussion about what the Engineer said to Eiger in the post-mission conversation:


When I left that room to search for clues, the Engineer told you something. Something that pushed you over the edge.

[Her eyes narrow.] That son of a bitch said a lot of things. What of it?

Oh, nothing. I just wanted to thank you for knocking him down a peg.

[Her lip curls into a smirk.] He did need it, didn't he? You're welcome, fearless leader. It was my pleasure.

I don't have a follow-up. Just expressing my appreciation.

[She blinks.] Uh. Well, okay... thank you, Rosa. Was there something else that you wanted to ask about?

Finally, the quick and efficient alternative to agreeing to the rifle deal.


I... I have a stash, here in this warehouse. A custom rifle. It's all yours if you give me what is mine.

[Eiger looks back over to you and raises an eyebrow.]

I could use a new rifle. What do you think, fearless leader?

To be perfectly honest, I was just toying with him. You can kill him now if you want to.

Good riddance.