Part 54: Engineered to FailPart 54 - Engineered to Fail
Taking advantage of the Engineer's crippling chip addiction, we eventually got him to spill the true identity of his employers which turned out to be the apocalyptic cult Winternight who are unknown to the world at present but will one day cause all sorts of trouble for the decent (and indecent) people of the Sixth World. Ended up spilling a lot more than that too, thanks to a bomb they implanted in him.
In today's trip to the ~Non-Canon Zone~ we'll take a look at how things could've gone down had we not had that particular ace up our sleeve, accomplished simply by not bothering with passwords or hacking and instead trying to force open the drone containing the Engineer's precious chip and failing the Quickness check required to save it.
As before we find the dead guy and the "Wednesday" ledger and return to Eiger who has rearranged Yuli's face some in the meantime, then chat a bit about what those two things mean and finally bring up the drone:
Have you found anything else?
There was a courier drone back there, but it self-destructed. Whatever it was carrying went up with it.
"It self-destructed" is technically a 100% correct description of what happened, and any mentions about us trying to punch our way through an anti-tampering system which required all of 2 Intelligence to detect are to be erased from the official records as both inaccurate and blatantly slanderous.
What was the drone carrying, Yuli? Sounds like it was something important.
[He grinds his teeth.] It was MINE. But as for *what* it was... you'll never know, slag.
[Eiger looks you in the eye. Desperation hangs over her like a wet blanket.]
Was there anything else out there, Rosa? Any other clues at all?
I don't think so. I gave the building a thorough sweep.
Yeah, Johnny Clean himself couldn't have left the place more spotless. Might've done a better job with any password-locked devices involved, but that's neither here nor there seeing as we never encountered such a thing.
[The Engineer smiles.] You're wrong, slag. I'll give you that much for free.
[Eiger glances down at him. Shakes her head.]
Oh, shut up, Yuli.
...Well so much for any other potential approaches. We have 7 Charisma and everything, surely we could've at least tried to figure out some angle here.
What the hell, Eiger? We weren't done with him!
Torture wasn't going to get us anywhere... in my experience, it seldom does. And that sack of shit has had this coming for years now. He's done more than enough damage for one lifetime.
That wasn't your call to make.
Wrong, fearless leader. When it comes to the team, I'll follow your orders. But this wasn't the team's job. This was *my* op, and *you* elected to tag along.
He was our captive. We don't kill prisoners, Eiger. It's wrong.
You knew what this job was. What we came here to do. If you didn't have the stomach to see it through, you should have stayed at the Kreuzbasar.
So what do you propose that we do now? Inform the F-State?
Well, first we search the body. Who knows? Maybe he has some additional evidence on him... or in him. Could be that he has headware storage. We won't know until we go digging.
I'll leave you to it.
Like hell you will. Get in here and help out.
What happened to "stabbers looters", the ancient rule of the streets? Man, we're never giving up our position as the boss again, this sucks.
Does that mean something to you?
Yeah, actually. It's a pulse grenade. The last I heard, the Russian military were developing them as crowd dispersal devices, but that was years ago. Looks like Yuli kept a memento of his time in the Spetsnaz.
[She examines the grenade with a critical eye.]
Looks like typical Russian engineering... clunky, but functional.
If I took this thing apart, I bet that I could figure out how they made it.
Anything else in there?
[She dips her hand into the secret compartment one more time.]
No, not that I can--
[Eiger snatches her hand back and steps backward.]
What the he--
Bastard didn't even have the courtesy not to blow up all over our face this time, this is truly the worst timeline.
Does the Lobatchevski Syndicate do things like that? Plant those kinds of bombs in people?
There's no extra conversation or anything at the end this time because this path is overall a lot more boring and less involved than the other one, so we take our leave in silence.
We should talk about what happened with the Engineer.
[She nods.] Agreed. I'm ready to go over it if you are.
We found some evidence to suggest that it was the Lobatchevski Syndicate, but nothing concrete. That worries me.
I'm worried too.
Have you been able to do any digging since we got back? I need to know that we made the right decision back there.
And by "we" we mean "you" and by "decision" we mean "the part where you suddenly stabbed the guy in the damn throat in the middle of an interrogation".
Yes, but it's also possible that we had Bannik publicize a bunch of false information. We didn't find any definite proof.
In my experience, you usually don't. You work with the intel that you have, and make the best decisions that you can in the moment. It's easy to fall into the trap of second-guessing ourselves, but we shouldn't let it consume us. We have other things to worry about.
what about that part of intel where the guy straight-up told us our conclusion was wrong without even showing signs of lying for once Eiger
maybe we could've tried to find some follow-up on that if not for the fact that ten seconds later he was no longer in possession of a functioning trachea
Yeah, I get that. I'm still worried, though.
Now, is there something else that you wanted to ask me about the run? If you have any other concerns, I want to hear them.
You said that you thought you could reverse engineer that pulse grenade that you pulled from the Engineer. Any luck with that?
"The Reverse Engineer" is also a pretty good posthumous title for the man himself with how much of his insides ultimately ended up on the outside.
Yeah, actually. It wasn't too difficult to pull the thing apart and see what made it tick.
Making one of my own was a different story, but I got it in the end.
[She reaches into her desk and grabs a cylindrical object. Gently, she lifts it up and hands it to you.]
Nice. You said that these things were designed for crowd control?
Originally, yeah. Mine has a lot more bite, though... I bumped up the amperage quite a bit. When that thing goes off, it'll both shut down the nervous system and cook the organs of anyone in its blast radius.
As far as actual gameplay mechanics go, "shut down the nervous system and cook the organs" is sadly something of an embellishment, in practical terms the Voltaic Grenade is simply a top-tier (3 AP) stun grenade except it also deals some physical damage and does not inflict the Unbalanced status which slightly increases hit chance against the affected targets.
Nothing one would call especially interesting, but AP damage continues to be great so it's certainly a fine package deal which remains useful for the entire rest of the game. Or would if this wasn't all just a dream.
[Hand it back.] Sounds nasty.
[She nods, and tucks the weapon back into her desk.]
It is. You wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of one of these.
So you'll only have one per run?
That's right, fearless leader. But if used in the right situation, that one could turn the tide of an otherwise unwinnable firefight.
Hey, I'll take it.
The conversation about what Yuli said to Eiger while we were gone is identical to before, so next we'll rewind back to the start of the conversation and jump to yet another alternate reality where we didn't join Eiger on the run at all and instead she sat out one mission and went by herself.
I'm all ears. How did it go?
Well enough. The Engineer is dead, and I found out who he was working for.
Don't leave me in suspense. Who was it?
It's really too bad Eiger was working with X-COM probabilities with this one.
So you're not completely sure?
No, I'm not. But I'm close enough to move forward with what I did find.
Isn't that... I don't know... reckless?
Fair enough. If the job is done to your satisfaction, that's good enough for me.
[She nods.] Good. And, Rosa... thank you for trusting my assessment about the need for this mission. It *was* important, I promise you that.
Don't worry about it. I wasn't planning to bring you along on our last run anyway.
[She rolls her eyes.] Your honesty is appreciated, fearless leader. Your tact could use some work, though. Now, is there anything else that you want to talk about?
And that's that for that, not joining in on the run means you miss out on both rewards which is obviously not optimal. One last difference left to cover is that the Shadowland thread pertaining to the mission has changed accordingly:
- SCHOCKWELLEN_REITERS <18:40:19/11-15-54>
[The Reiters have it on good authority that the Lobatchevski Syndicate is eyeing Schattennest for expansion. 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>
[Okay bad news for Schattennest. But if the Rammbock isnt going to stop them, and I hear Surfturf is out of the picture Well, Im sure theres *some* policlub out there who wants that piece of the pie. I know weve got enough of them.]
- Ruby <19:17:06/11-15-54>
[I know that Humanis has some presence there, but I doubt theyll fight the Russians too much. Id say theyre far more likely to form a partnership.]
Alright, back to reality, reality where we have successfully helped three of our four comrades with their personal problems, and by our math that means exactly one remains.
And this one is probably going to be a doozy.
Rosa. What do you need?
We left off in a bad place last time. I've been thinking about your story, and I have a question for you.
Yeah? What's that?
Are you still looking for closure? Because your story had a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up.
The story being that of this Harrow guy's twisted Adversary cult which Glory eventually severed ties with (more literally than anyone should have to) but which is still up and operating. See Part 30 if you need a refresher on the man and the nature of the totem he follows.
[She holds her silence for a long time. Finally, she nods.]
Yes. I've been thinking about this for a long time, Rosa. And every time that I've gotten close to making a decision, I've turned and run away again.
No more running. I'm ready to face this thing, but I can't do it alone. I'm going to need your help.
That's the idea.
All right. If we're going to do this, we need to be clear on what our goal is. There are a lot of innocent people in that place... lost street kids who got sucked in by Marta and the other girls like her. Saving them won't be easy, but it feels like the right thing to do.
Right, Glory was in a relationship with this Marta back in the cult days. ...Which could make for an awkward reunion if she's still around.
We're likely to run into other complications, as well. So I think that we need to make a decision here, up-front. What would you do in my place? Rescue the kids, or take down Harrow? I don't think that we can manage both.
Glory getting real proactive here, usually we have to make these big choices at the end of a run instead of before it.
Well let's see here then, probably depends on the exact circumstances but if we imagine a clear-cut "Either let me escape or watch all these kids blow up" -kind of scenario, well, despite what she says it's probably still easier to pick up the hunt for Harrow again someday than it is to put those kids back together. So we'll see how things actually go, but for now it feels like...
Freeing the kids should be our first priority. We raid Feuerstelle, round up the runaways, and clear Harrow's influence from their minds. Killing him will have to be secondary.
Glad to hear that we're in agreement. When you're ready to go, meet me at the van - it's a long drive from here to the Schönbuch.
No kidding, Schönbuch is a natural park located southwest from Stuttgart, almost 700 kilometers (roughly 430 miles) from Berlin. Best pack a lunch.
[She nods.] Right. I'll get my things.
Always happy to help our friends, and this sounds like a pretty worthwhile cause too unlike say, clearing the personal debts of a certain fuck-up.
Since we're taking the car this time we won't head for the usual U-Bahn station, but instead back down the same ladder we entered the safehouse from way back in the beginning.
It's not uncommon for a runner not to be entirely sure what to expect heading out for a run, but facing a devil-worshipping cult in the countryside on the other side of Germany is definitely way outside our sphere of expertise. This ought to be a memorable one, if nothing else.
Not much to see here except choosing to prioritize taking out Harrow over saving the kids:
We wipe out the cult, starting with Harrow. As long as he's alive, he can just start all of this over again. We'll save any cultists that we can, but the ones that are too far gone will have to be put down.