Part 61: Cuts & RunsPart 61 - Cuts & Runs
With our schedule at last clear of personal requests, we're once again free to focus on official business. That business of course being shadowrunning for
When put like that a pretty disproportionate amount of this plan relies on the word "hopefully", huh.
So do we have an actual job lined up? Actually we do, and in fact we've had one lined up for a long time now, though it's hard to blame anyone for having forgotten about it by now.
Back when we returned from the veritable orgy of violence that was our run to the SCHERING Pharma AG lab, the one where our job was to silence a captured rigger which didn't turn out to be as big of a moral conflict as it initially seemed on account of that guy being a real Grade A dickbag, we got a call from Paul informing us that client calling herself "Frau Müller" was offering a kingly sum for a job of some vague nature, the details of which she'd only impart to us in person.
Incidentally that was the call which was interrupted by our return train coming to a sudden stop which led to us having to navigate a dark train station and getting ambushed by a group of mercenaries, and from their leader we snatched a PDA which provided us with a bunch of information about the angry ork we encountered even further back in our initial run to Harfeld Manor. This was back in Part 31 so check there if you need a refresher on what we learned, might be relevant at some point in the future.
Anyway, talking to Frau Müller was not an optional objective but at the time we jumped over doing so in the LP because we had other stuff to do and realistically not a soul in the world would remember the finer details of a job description from that long ago.
But now it's finally time to liberate those poor .pngs from the dark confines of the Images folder and let their truth be spoken to the world. Properly edited, cropped and converted into .jpgs before serving, of course. We have standards in this establishment, ever end up with a raw .png with a bloated filesize on your screen and it's your money back.
We were allowed to choose the meeting point and we chose Altuğ's cafe since it was the most comfortable option and he'd find out about it eventually anyway. Kami is still hanging around near the place too, we haven't had the chance to chat with the residents of the Kreuzbasar much lately but it's still nice to see the familiar faces.
For the most part in any case, didn't really need a reminder of that Lodge goon Duerr's mug. We're still working for those guys too, something most people would apparently consider something of a lapse in judgment. Well, one vaguely threatening problem at a time.
Our potential client is present so let's find out exactly what kind of request is worth that sort of money.
A corporate woman of high status possibly hailing from Aztlan offering a large amount of money for an urgent and secretive job... There aren't exactly many Aztlan-based corporations operating in Germany. Can only think of one, in fact.
Rosa, I presume? Herr Amsel told me that I could meet you here.
He wasn't lying. He said that you had a job for me.
[She holds her silence for a moment, then nods.]
Yes. Yes, I do. In truth, I'm in desperate need of your help.
Then tell me what you need, "Frau Müller."
[She offers you a small smile.] An assumed name, obviously. But I have been told that this is how you people do business.
[She straightens in her seat and tries on a smile. It hangs there for a second, then fades away. She sighs.]
From my accent, youve no doubt inferred that Im an Aztlaner. Further, you may have guessed who I work for.
(Corporate) Aztechnology, Id assume.
Gross, hopefully you didn't work on the food production side of the company.
Never once did I question the wisdom of our research. Never once did I consider blowing the whistle on my employers. I kept my nose down, worked hard, and excelled at the tasks set before me.
They must love you there.
No more than any other employee. But my committment and work ethic were recognized, and I ascended the corporate ladder fairly quickly. Which brings me to where I am today.
The Azzies and ominous-sounding projects with the word "blood" in the name go together like peanut butter and jelly, in that a moist heap of red and brown sludge is exactly how you're in danger of ending up should you be dumb or unfortunate enough to find yourself on the wrong side of them.
Ive seen many terrible things in my life, Rosa. In Tenochtitlan, blood magic is commonplace. Take a moment to imagine what that means.
[She takes a deep breath, then lets it out slowly.]
Seeing such things it changes you. Makes you numb. But what I found when I arrived here was worse. This project it horrifies me, Rosa. And it must be stopped.
Tell me everything you know about Bloodline.
[She shakes her head.] The less that you know, the better. For both of us. You'll just have to trust me on that. You need only know that it is *evil.* And that is not a word that I use lightly.
Ooh ooh a chance to try out the Aljernon impression we've been working on. Ahem...
"Evil" is a childish term, Frau Müller. There's no such thing as good and evil, black and white. The sooner you learn that, the better.
If you had seen the things that I've seen, you'd understand how foolish you sound. Of *course* there is evil in this world, Rosa. I'm not talking about the petty viciousness of the human race.
I'm talking about true, supernatural evil. It came back with the Awakening. And denying its existence won't protect you from it.
That bad, huh? Guess it's just not the same without a beard to stroke in an excessively smug manner.
Seriously though come on, this whole "I just can't tell you about this thing you're going to endanger your life for" nonsense is getting real old. It's not like we're not gonna find out when it's maximally inconvenient anyway.
You have to understand, Frau Müller. I can't accept a job without knowing what it entails.
Besides if you want us to go up against Aztechnology it'd better be something pretty low-key because our "unwanted attention from some of the most dangerous entities in the world" -quota has already been filled a long time ago.
We don't really do prank requests in this line of work lady. Now are you an offering an actual job or
The computers. The research data. The mages and scientists that are working to bring about this abomination. I want all of them burned to ash and buried in rubble. No compromises, and no exceptions.
[Her tone softens.]
I'm sure that you have unanswered questions. I'm not in the habit of dealing with shadowrunners. In truth, I've spent the majority of my career living in fear of you people. But I do know that you're the only ones who can get this done.
So tell me, Rosa. Is there anything more that you need to hear from me? Or are you ready to make a decision?
You're not joking, are you. You want us to level an Aztechnology corporate building working on some kind of important secret project literally in our own home town.
In that case no, we most definitely have a few questions about this first.
I'm not a demolitions expert, Frau Müller. How do you expect me to level a building?
You don't need to be. All that you'll need is a competent decker.
It'd be easy to take a dig at Blitz here but let's face it, "I need someone who is capable of both decking and bringing about large-scale destruction of valuable property" is a request that describes him with such eerie accuracy that he'd probably pop out of your bathroom mirror if you chanted it three times in front of one.
Once the generators begin to overload, you'll have a limited time to reach a safe distance. The explosion will be quite catastrophic.
What about any innocent people in the building?
This sounds like hyperbole, I know. But it isnt. The Bloodline project will lead to *countless* deaths. I am certain enough of this to hire you, despite the fact that doing so will probably cost me my own life.
Yet despite all this dramatic weight you're heaping on this thing you just can't tell us what this project is actually all about? Johnsons, man...
What can you tell me about building security?
Expect it to be tight. In addition to their standard security team, Aztechnology has taken out a Knight Errant High Threat Response Team contract to protect the building.
A High Threat Response Team too? We're starting to get pretty close to parodical levels of dangerous now, we can chew through a lot of their rank-and-file goons but we'd rather not cross the big guns.
Corporate doesn't seem to mind contracting a competitor for emergency reponse services. That should give you some indication as to the... uniqueness of this project.
At any rate, I believe that I've come up with a solution to the Knight Errant problem. I'll discuss the matter with your Herr Amsel if you decide to take the job.
Speaking of, Paul Amsel is my representative in these matters. Why couldn't you tell all of this to him?
What, first wanted to make sure we looked desperate enough to take on a job like this? Well glad we could qualify.
Naturally, I will send any further information about the job to Herr Amsel. Provided, of course, that you accept.
Let's talk compensation.
Thirty-six thousand nuyen. As I told your Herr Amsel. That's what I have allocated for the job.
It's better than fair. I've done my homework, Rosa.
I've reached a decision.
This is clearly a pretty bad idea but it's not like that's a first for us and we're still trucking despite that so hey, add 'em to the pile.
I'll take the job.
I will iron out the remaining details with your Herr Amsel. He'll want to talk this over with you anyway, I'm sure. You're a good woman, Rosa. You are saving more lives than you know.
Yeah that's great and all, so long as the egg that needs to be cracked to make this particular omelette won't end up being us and our team.
While we're up and about town, let's make a quick shopping visit to Aljernon's.
'Sup Absinthe, how's being an immortal extradimensional entity or whatever working out for you today?
Uh-huh. Sorry we asked. No seriously, that's genuine regret we're feeling.
We sell some of the extra junk we've been collecting and pick up Aim III to replace one of our practically identical disables. Dietrich has access to some rank of the spell too but in our greed we kind of ended up with too many 2 AP spells and Aim is just always a solid buff to throw around early in a fight.
Alright, time to go hash out the details of this plan with Paul.
Welcome back, Rosa. How did the meeting with Frau Müller go?
I accepted the job. Any ideas on how to tackle this?
According to Müller's intel, the facility is extraordinarily well-guarded. Whatever this "Bloodline" project is, the Azzies have spared no expense to defend it.
Got a hunch we're going to find out both what it is and exactly how few expenses they've spared, and end up wishing we could've remained ignorant of each. But go on.
The facility is patrolled by Aztechnology's internal security personnel. On their own, they would pose a challenge, but I don't doubt that you could brute-force your way through them.
Unfortunately, they will not be on their own. Aztechnology has purchased one of Knight Errant's more expensive security contracts as an additional line of defense.
That's not good.
No. It is not. Knight Errant is too dangerous to take on directly. But if we were to compromise their commlinks, we could at least partially mitigate this danger.
I've pulled some strings with an old contact of mine, and he's provided me with the address of a small software developer. OTK International. They write the firmware updates for Knight Errant's comm systems, and their defenses should be considerably weaker than Aztechnology's.
Damn, we only just found out about the details of the job and you've already got a plan worked out to this much detail? You're really on top of your game as always, Paul.
When OTK's next update goes live, our compromised version will be pushed out to Knight Errant. When you hit the Aztechnology facility, I'll be able to track Knight Errant via their commlinks. This should make the run much more manageable.
[He fishes in his pocket for something. A moment later, he produces a corporate ID with your face on it.]
This will get you through the front door of the office park that contains OTK International. My contact was only able to provide me with the one card, so you'll need to let the rest of your team in through a side door.
All right, sounds like a plan.
I'd rather just hit the Aztechnology facility directly. I can handle whatever they can throw at me.
No, Rosa. You can't. Even if, through some minor miracle, you managed to get past Aztechnology's internal security *and* Knight Errant's High Threat Response Team, your chances of survival would still be close to zero. Aztechnology is well-known for its practice of blood magic.
Your best chance for success will be going in quietly. And your best chance of avoiding unwanted attention will be in taking my suggestion and hitting OTK first.
Very good. OTK's offices aren't far from here... you should take the U-Bahn there when you're ready.
No sense in wasting time then, the sooner we get his job done the sooner we'll finally have Alice's fee together.
Been a while since we've last had a full team together. We'll let Glory rest for a bit after that last ordeal.
This is promising to be something of a warmup before the real deal, but complacency can kill you just as dead whether the target is a small fry company or a world-class corporation, so let's make sure we get this done right.
First we have one bit of alternate dialogue. Namely, turning down the run (though you never get locked out of it):
I won't blow up an entire building full of people on such vague information. I'm sorry, but you'll have to find someone else.
[Her face clouds with despair.]
Then I've thrown away my life for nothing.
What do you mean by that?
My employers have a way of seeing the truth of things. Of reading the intent behind a person's eyes. I won't be able to hide what I've done from them for long.
When I took this step, I signed my own death warrant. My employers will bury me. Unless, of course, you change your mind and bury them first.
I'm sorry. I'm still not interested.
Then the project will reach completion, and nobody in your line of work will ever be safe again.
[She shakes her head.]
I will leave my contact information with your Herr Amsel in case you change your mind. I hope that you'll reconsider... for all of our sakes.
Now as the update was otherwise a bit on the short side, I'm going to take this opportunity to show off some random bits and pieces that I missed or meant to bring up earlier in the LP but which never ended up happening.
To start with, and credit to forums user BurningStone for reminding me that this was a thing that existed, there's a semi-hidden message that can be viewed on the mission computer in the hideout. It's actually there literally from the beginning and it was clearly meant to be viewed early on, but it's located in the menu used to view your previously read messages which is not really somewhere you would normally ever bother looking for ones you haven't seen before.
But late or no, here it is now:
Hey, ace. If you're reading this, it means that I've either died or stepped down... hopefully the latter, but probably the former. Not many shadowrunners make it to retirement age.
My advice to you is this: hold your own with her. If she pushes you, push back. Don't try to butter her up with flattery, she'll see right through it. Most of all, do what you can to earn her respect. She'll never be satisfied following you if you don't give her a better reason to than "because Monika said so."
I have faith in you, ace. It's up to you to justify that faith.
While on the topic of the mission computer, there were a couple of Shadowland BBS discussions that never got covered. Namely, ones related to the outcomes of the short mission to the sewers where we investigated the disappearance of a sewer worker and ended up helping a group of ghouls secure their feeding deal with doctor Ezkibel.
Now while that outcome of the mission did not yield any threads (which makes sense as the whole idea was that that they could live in peace maintaining the sewer equipment), two alternate outcomes for that mission did each add a topic.
First, the thread which would've followed had we attacked and killed the ghouls:
- Ruby <14:22:54/11-13-54>
[What do you think? Sounds dead-on like a corp machination to me. Two bodies found in the wastewater down there... both HMHVV carriers. I know the people in Schöneberg were striking at that Saeder-Krupp factory last month - punishment?]
- Tolstoi <14:29:41/11-13-54>
[S-K wouldn't be that stupid. If it ever got traced back to them, that they purposefully tried to contaminate a water supply with HMHVV, they'd get run out of Berlin completely. From what I've seen, it's total chaos down there. I've heard reports of looting at the markets, people hoarding all the clean water they can fit in their homes.]
- WraithLike44 <15:01:12/11-13-54>
[Sure they wouldn't. They'd hire runners to do it for them. Anyone know of any ghoul bag-n-tag jobs recently?]
- Jast <15:05;19/11-13-54>
[Can't have anarchy without honor keeping us going. No runner team I know of would take a job to poison innocent people for S-K, unless their Fixer is just a real shitshow.]
And second, the thread which would've followed had we ordered the ghouls to disperse:
- Ruby <14:22:54/11-13-54>
[Hearing reports that a band of ghouls showed up in Hallesches Tor. One got hit by a train, splattered the thing all across the tracks and the people waiting at the stop. News footage is showing hazmat types hosing the entire place down. No reports of HMHVV infection just yet, but we'll see.]
- Tolstoi <14:29:41/11-13-54>
[God damn. What happened to the rest of the ghouls?]
- WraithLike44 <15:01:12/11-13-54>
[Hate to have been one of those people just waiting for a train. Shit.]
- Jast <15:05;19/11-13-54>
[RE: TOLSTOI: Sounds like they fled after their buddy got pasted by the train. People have been reporting sightings, and there's K-E in the streets looking out for them. So far, only false positives. The rest of the poor bastards are probably still wandering around out there.]
Moving on, the data of some cut NPCs remain in the Kreuzbasar map and conversation files. One of these would've been a person called Mogens found in the cafe and who offered a small task, possibly making him a proto-Duerr:
[The stranger smiles and raises his drink in salute.]
I'm glad you could come. I have a job offer for you - a little errand that I'd like you to run. The pay is good, and if you perform to my employers' satisfaction, there will be more work in the future.
Who are your employers?
I'm afraid that I can't tell you.
[The stranger offers you a broad smile and a shrug.]
Because I don't know. I was offered a tidy sum by an anonymous party to request an audience with you, then recite their offer verbatim from a script.
Honestly? I don't care whether you accept the offer or not. My job is finished, and I'm getting paid.
What's this errand?
Oh, it's a milk run. You can trust me on that. But I'm afraid that I can't tell you more until you accept. Not my rules, friend. My employers'.
Sure, I've got some free time.
Very good. My employers need a delivery made. Take this PDA, and drop it into the trash can near the statue at the northernmost point of the Kreuzbasar.
That's all there is to it. Simple, like I said. You'll find a note under that can with payment instructions.
The trash can and the description of the PDA - "You'd need a monster rig to decrypt this. Mogens asked you to drop it in the trash near the Stuffer Shack" - still exist but that's all there is to Mogens and his errand.
And speaking of NPC cuts, there is a rather conspicuously empty garden area in the southern part of the Kreuzbasar:
I believe this was originally the location of a pair of cut NPCs named Kristian and Karin Becks. They would've been a pair of elderly Kreuzbasar residents who you could chat with about all kinds of topics from past events to other Kreuzbasar residents.
In fact while Mogens and his job were pretty much completely scrubbed, the Becks still have a full-blown dialogue tree in the files which encompasses the entire game from start to finish. It's a fairly significant cut, something I originally attributed to the devs simply figuring that there was already enough dialogue to work through in the hub (though if so then that restraint definitely went out the window in Hong Kong) though it's also possible the reason behind their exclusion was more practical.
Namely that the Kreuzbasar already looks quite full.
But I figured we should honor the sacrifice of Kristian and Karin, and for that reason from here on out we'll dedicate a small part of the Extras section to the Becks wherein we'll go through their dialogue for those who are interested in seeing what was lost.
They have no portraits so I've taken the liberty of borrowing a couple. We'll start from the beginning, which would be the first time one could go around the Kreuzbasar after the initial botched run to Harfeld Manor.
[An old couple tends to one of the many communal gardens scattered through the Kreuzbasar. They appear to be in their late sixties or early seventies, though it is increasingly hard to determine such things in this day and age. The woman is the first to notice you.]
Oh! Mein Schatz, we have a guest.
Don't mind me, folks.
No, please. Stay and chat with us. Say, you're Monika's new... associate, yes?
My love, why would you say such a thing?
Well, what would you call her?
Friend? She is Monika's new friend. We don't judge their work. We are grateful.
When have I ever judged?
Yeah... About Monika...
[The woman's warm smile fades as she reads the tone in your voice. The old man frowns.]
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we lost Monika tonight.
[The old woman's thin shoulders slump, making her seem even smaller than she already is.]
She can't be gone. She... she's the heart of this place. Was... was someone with her, when it happened?
She was in the Matrix. There was nothing we could do.
I see. I'm sorry, mein Schatz. I'm suddenly not feeling that well.
No, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you.
We know. And we'll be all right, won't we, my love?
[Hugging each other, the old couple seems somehow older and more frail than they did at your first approach. They won't be the only ones mourning tonight, once the news has spread.]