Part 63: Out for BloodPart 63 - Out for Blood
Well, here we are. This is one job that's guaranteed to make some headlines, the only part still up in the air is whether that'll be in the news or the more literal kind on the wall of some Azzie executive's gold-plated trophy room.
Quiet out here.
[He shakes his head.] That ain't livin', love. It's a slow death. Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.
Starting things off with talk about dying slowly is really not the mood we're looking to set here, Dietrich.
Our main objective is finding and overloading the building's on-site power generators, supposedly located in the sub-basement which is protected amongst other things by a voiceprint recognition system. Protected so well in fact, that even our client doesn't know exactly what else is going to be down there. Taking into consideration the nature of our target and "Frau Müller"'s nebulous horror stories about this Bloodline project, it's probably not where they're running their illegal high-stakes bumper car circuits.
Also no medevac because there's not gonna be enough intacts bits left of anyone to carry back once the building goes, meaning no one's allowed to go down permanently. We didn't bring our medic but we're otherwise pretty loaded with medkits and trauma kits, and we're going to do our best to avoid fights anyway. We don't really need to add a KE High Response Team on our pile of problems and our earlier delay tactics will only keep them away for so long.
Of course none of that is relevant until we figure out a way to get inside the compound, so let's start by working on that.
First things first, we were once told to keep an eye out for pay phones in strategic locations like this one, and sure enough...
Message from the Schockwellenreiter posted:
>>>>>This is an open request for research data from Aztechnology, Jewühl District branch.
>>>>>The Azzies conduct their research in secrecy. They use their money and power to obscure the truth.
>>>>>We will uncover their secrets. We will share them with the world. We will level the playing field between Aztechnology and its competition.
>>>>>The timely delivery of this information will be well-rewarded.
>>>>>FREEDOM. EQUALITY. INFORMATION. SCHOCKWELLENREITER.<<<<<
By project data, are we talking that project data? As in, the project supposedly so dangerous to the world at large that we're here to raze an entire corporate building in order to bury it? Guess technically we're only getting paid to bring down the structure itself, but if this thing really is bad news on that kind of scale then releasing it to the public just might be stupid enough to outweigh even our own greed for the reward money. Guess we'll see.
A few moments later, as we're walking towards the building...
Oh, great. What, the Lodge want their greasy tendrils on Bloodline too? Also, not buying that bit about "sonorous voice", no way this muppet's voice resembles anything but a seagull on helium.
You are in an Aztechnology facility, yes? Well, that facility is also home to an executive. A small man who foolishly believes that he is beyond our reach. In this, he is mistaken. We would like you to deliver a message to this effect.
What kind of message are we talking about here?
Is this a "message" in the same vein as that trip to Hermes Eurocom was supposed to be just for "surveillance"? Granted, this time we're looking to blow up a lot more than just one office, but at least the word "explosion" is clearly spelled out in that plan. We underlined it with a red sharpie ourselves. It's a good word.
And that's all there is to it. A simple job, but an important one. I have already marked your target's current location on your PDA. We have great faith in you, Rosa... please don't disappoint us.
Are they aware that if the guy is indeed inside this building, he's about to be considerably further out of reach than he is now? It's probably safe to assume that they do, in which case maybe this request serves no other purpose but to fuck with this corp executive and make him sweat a bit more in his final hours.
...We can kind of get behind that, actually. Didn't expect to get a more agreeable request from the Lodge than the Schockwellenreiter, but here we are.
As we reach the building's front entrance which somehow manages to look even more forbidding than Feuerstelle's, we get another call.
All right, Rosa. That's the Aztechnology complex, just in front of you. You'll note the heavy security posted at the front door. Those are Aztechnology employees. Dangerous, to be sure, but you could probably take them without too much difficulty.
Unfortunately, the Azzies have also contracted Knight Errant to protect this facility. They're the ones that we need to worry about.
We're well aware Paul, we didn't pay a visit to OTK just for the metacommentary on the harsh realities of video game development.
If you do need to go loud, give it everything you've got. You're going to be reducing the building to a smoldering crater anyway. But I'd highly recommend stealth over a frontal assault.
We won't start shooting until we run out of words.
Good woman. I'd begin by trying to find an alternative path into the building... something out of sight. Once the facility calls for help, you're going to be on a tight timetable.
Let's try some of our famous words on the captain here, maybe she happens to have an open door policy.
This is a secure facility, ma'am. Show your ID or move along.
Maybe not. We actually do have the option to throw the plan in the trash right away and go for an open frontal assault, but let's avoid giving Paul an aneurysm and look for a quieter way in. Maybe we'll find an Elixir in the stairwell.
No worries, ma'am. I was just out for a walk.
Following the good captain's friendly advice, we continue on until we find ourselves at two divergent paths. It's not really in the direction of where we're supposed to be going, but while we're scouting we might as well see if there's anything of interest past the open gate to the southeast first.
This definitely ain't it, by the looks of it the only explosion this dive could help induce is of the intestinal kind. Nice solar panel setup though.
Some people out here too, and not corp employees either from the looks of it.
On the streets, yeah. But against the Azzies? I... I just don't know.
Oh? What's this about the Azzies now?
She'll be okay.
[Brave words, but her tone tells a different story. It's plain as day that she's worried sick.]
Oh, man. I don't know what to do, Mira. And I still say that messing with the Azzies was a *bad* idea.
What else were we supposed to do? That compound of theirs is lit up like a goddamned Christmas tree. They've got more power than they know what to do with.
Well it's their lucky day, because we're here to show them this one crazy trick on utilizing excess energy to considerably cut down all future project expenses by fundamentally rearranging their corporate structure from the ground up. And the ground down.
We need that juice, Heimer. Our solar collectors are *garbage.* If we can't keep the lights on after a few days of cloud cover, how do you think we're going to survive the winter?
I know, Mira. I *know.* But couldn't we have just bought some secondhand panels? They can't be *that* expensive.
[She sighs.] We could have, sure. Before Danni spent our last handful of nuyen on those forged keycards.
[She straightens up. Puts on a brave face.]
She'll be fine. She'll be back any second now. Just you wait.
Sounds like we're not the only ones interested in Aztechnology power sources tonight. Maybe we can help each other out.
Evening, fellow conspirators.
Couldn't help overhearing you two. Going up against Aztechnology, huh?
We're not "going up against" anything.
[She gestures broadly at her own body.]
Do we *look* like shadowrunners to you?
Maybe? We don't exactly have official uniforms in this line of work. Hell, apparently one runner stopped a serial killer in Seattle not that long ago while sporting a full tourist getup for some reason, gaudy Aloha shirt, socks in sandals, the whole shebang. All kinds of weirdos out there.
We're just, uh, improvising. Trying to stay in business.
[He gives Mira a significant glance.]
The only way we can.
You kids are gonna get yourselves killed.
Look, lady. We're just trying to keep our business running.
[She nods.] That place is everything to us. We live there, we work there. It's all that we've got. If we can't keep the shop open, all of that goes away. We're all out on the street, broke, in the dead of winter. We're doing this because we don't have a choice.
...But she doesn't know the first thing about dealing with corp security. And Danni knows even less about splicing into power lines. Confidence can only carry you so far.
[He looks down at Mira and shakes his head.]
I'm sorry, Mira, but I can't afford to be optimistic. And to be honest, you can't, either. Danni needs help, whether you want to admit it or not.
[The facade cracks, and Mira's face crumples.]
...Yeah. I know.
So... can you help us? We need that power, and we need Danni back. I don't think we're gonna get either without your help.
We're kind of in the middle of something, but guess we could spare a bit of our time to help pull their friend out of hot water. Could well be that they're going to need a new power plan soon anyway.
If it's bad for the Azzies, it's good for us. We'll help you out.
This'll get you into the utility tunnel. Danni went down there about a half an hour ago.
She said she'd be back in ten minutes.
Find her for us, okay? Please, bring her back safe.
Not going to make any safety guarantees we can't keep, but we'll take a look. This should be the utility tunnel hatch right here.
There we go. Not the first time we're descending into a dark tunnel in behalf of someone worried about their buddy who hasn't come back from there, let's just hope this one won't turn out to be a ghoul hangout.
No one near the entrance at least, in one piece or otherwise.
They clearly knew at least something about electronics to have busted through this lock.
Hello? Speak up if you're still alive, we have a schedule to keep. You know how those corporate buildings are, they don't evaporate themselves.
Oh there you are. These friends of yours?
Look out for these two 20 HP drones? Yeah, pardon if we're not exactly shaking in our boots here.
Hell, we just take both out in a single turn by ourselves, earning a point of Karma for the most effortless rescue operation on our career.
(As a side note, the combat theme in the utility tunnel is the combat section of Blood Hounds which is a cool track I'd forgotten ever plays outside of exactly one fight in Dead Man's Switch.)
Don't worry, you're safe from getting tickled to death which is presumably the only way drones that weak can really harm anyone.
Thanks for the rescue. It takes a pair to bring a weapon into Azzie territory... everybody knows that they shoot first if you're packing. I wouldn't have risked it.
Life in the shadows is all about taking risks.
We're not gonna pass on an opportunity to bust out the cool lines when we can. Also literally nobody has paid any attention to our weapons here or anywhere else, which is certainly a little odd now that you brought it up.
Anyway, yeah. I'll admit it... I got in over my head. But only a little bit. The drones wouldn't have shot me. I wasn't armed. But I wasn't looking forward to spending the next week in an Azzie interrogation cell... I've heard stories.
They're true, love.
[He shakes his head at her.]
Word to the wise. If you're fool enough to try something like this again, carry a gun. Better to be shot than to let them take you.
I'll take your word for it. I'm not planning on making a habit of this.
[She slaps the side of the power conduit with a smile.]
And I shouldn't need to. The tap's all hooked up and ready.
Impressive. Heimerich wasn't convinced that you could pull it off.
Yeah, well. It's amazing what you can teach yourself to do when your livelihood depends on it.
[Blitz leans in to inspect her work.]
Yeah... yeah, that looks like a pretty solid connection. Nice soldering job on those contacts, there. I'd say that you're good to go.
[He straightens. Casts a glance back at you.]
You know, chief... we *could* use this setup to our advantage.
That... doesn't sound like an altogether terrible plan, actually. How distressing.
[He shrugs.] Your call, of course. Just thought I should bring it up.
We can make it worth your while.
No. You can't. There's nothing you could give us that would make up for what you're talking about doing. So please, just drop it, okay?
C'mon, we're going to blow up the building anyway, assuming we manage to get that far of course. Fine, guess we can at least look for other options first.
You're right. Nobody needs that kind of heat. We'll find another way in.
Just hope that we do find some other way in because between this and trying to charge in through the front, we know which one we have designated as Plan B.
I'm gonna bail on out of here... I've been stuck in this tunnel too long already, and like you said, the others are worried. But if there's ever anything that we can do for you, come by the shop! You'll be welcome at our place for life.
We do actually have the option to overload the grid right away regardless of what we might've told her, but we'll keep our word at least until we've looked around the premises some more. Let's head back up.
Dammit Blitz, stop trying to hog the spotlight.
Thank you so much, ma'am. Thanks for bringing her back to us.
Yeah. Thanks. And thank you for helping to keep the Azzies off of our tails. If Danni had been captured...
It would have been bad.
[Mira reaches up. Grabs Danni's hand. Clutches it tight.]
Worse than "bad," babe. A lot worse.
At least we did our good deed of the day if nothing else, hope they'll avoid the classic fairy tale ending of "and everyone lived happily for about two hours before a massive explosion buried them in flaming debris". Never really figured out what the Brothers Grimm meant to be the moral for that one, those guys threw real dark sometimes.
We return to the compound premises and this time take the other path, momentarily stopping to muse about how corporate art imitates corporate life.
After a bit we come across a loading area with a side entrance, though this one is also locked tight.
There's also a lone worker who seems to be having a bit of trouble with what looks to be an LTG panel. Perhaps we can offer a helping hand?
Incidentally LTG stands for Local Telecommunications Grid, the Matrix connection grid of a given localized area with its own area code.
Unless you're here to help me fix this panel, you'd better stay the hell out of my hair. Otherwise, I'll call Security and have them *drag* you out.
Sounds like somebody's had a long day. Can't say we know much about this kind of stuff, but we did bring someone who ostensibly does.
We might be able to make use of that panel and you could clearly use a break, perhaps we can offer a mutually beneficial solution?
(Charisma 5) Y'know, if you're that far behind, you could always go catch up on your other work... leave us to work on the panel. It'd be no trouble.
[A confused scowl crosses her face.]
I don't even *know* you, buddy. Why in God's name would I leave you alone with a panel that *I'm* responsible for?
Because we didn't go hard on Charisma to not successfully convince people to do things they clearly shouldn't even consider.
(Charisma 6) When did Aztechnology ever do anything for you, aside from working you half to death? Let us take care of the panel, and you can clock out early... I'll even spread a little spending money your way. Say, about a hundred nuyen?
Good idea, take your time and have one for us too while you're there.
After she's gotten into her van and driven off, we earn 1 Karma and are free to take a closer look at the box she was working on.
This thing looks like what robots would post on shock sites after they'd justifiably overthrown humanity. Any chance you can get that door open with this, Blitz?
Excellent. That's our first objective met, next time we'll get around to seeing what the feathered serpent looks like from the inside.
A decent amount of things for this section today as well, and we'll start by a brief jaunt to the ~Non-Canon Zone~ in which we cover taking the path of overloading the power from the utility tunnel, starting from the conversation after having saved Danni and Blitz having brought up the option. Ice cold Rosa edition, because why not.
Whoa. Hold up! If you do that, they'll trace it! Aztechnology will find the power tap, and they'll come down on us!
We just saved your life. You owe us.
Yeah, you saved my life, all right. But now you're talking about doing something that'll get *all* of us killed! Me, Mira, Heimerich... he's got a little sister to look after! What happens to her if the Azzies take us away?
(Overload the grid.) Not my problem.
True. You and your friends should probably start running.
[She screams at you. Her cheeks are streaked with tears.]
Screw you! I hope that you all burn in hell!
Back up on street level...
You goddamned heartless bastard!
[While Danni and Mira are clearly furious, Heimerich just looks tired. He shakes his head.]
Why'd you do it? You know that we can't fight the Azzies. You *know* what they're going to do to us.
You can do that?
[He smirks.] Sure! Wouldn't be a big deal. I used to do it all the time back in Drogenkippe.
[He raises an eyebrow at you.]
Your call, though, chief. Obviously.
If you could do that, I suppose it'd solve the problem on our end...
Declining is of course an option:
We're shadowrunners, not a charity. I won't lift a finger unless we're getting paid.
Typical runner bullshit. I *knew* that we couldn't trust you people. Get the hell out of here. I never want to see your face on our property again.
But agreeing leads to an additional optional objective:
Sure. Why not? We'll make sure that you're taken care of.
[Danni raises a hand and cuts in.]
Wait! Tossing the logs won't be enough. They may not know where the power spike came from, but they'll still have questions.
She's right! They'd come poking around, and we could still wind up on the hook for this.
[Blitz shrugs.] Well, yeah. *Of course* I was gonna do that. I just, uh... y'know. I thought that it went without saying.
[Heimerich nods.] All right. Yeah. You do all of that, and all is forgiven. We're golden. But if you don't, a *lot* of innocent people are going to get hurt.
[He stares you in the eye.]
Unless you want our blood on your hands, you *do* this. You hear me? For the love of God, please, just do it.
It's definitely a land of optional objectives. It's also worth mentioning that if Blitz isn't around, a Charisma 5 check or the Street etiquette can also be used to receive this objective. Otherwise they're just screwed.
With the power cut, we can go back to the front to see the lights and turrets having shut off and to overhear a short conversation between the captain and one of the guards.
Ma'am... I've lost my link to Central. Is that even supposed to *happen* if we lose power?
No. It's not.
But from what I've heard, this was a power spike. So I guess that the overload could've scrambled something... gummed up the works somewhere upstream.
[Just then, her body language changes. Suddenly aware of your presence, she turns to face you.]
You there! Stop where you are! Clear this area, or we will remove you by force!
Hold your fire, I'm leaving!
She's not kidding either, talking to her again turns her and the entire compound hostile.
There's also an extra guard along the path to the side door.
And back in the loading area, the LTG worker is arguing with one of the guards.
...So what you're telling me is this: You were working on our LTG box. And then, all of a sudden, everything *magically* overloaded and went to hell, taking our communications along for the ride. And you had *nothing* to do with it?
Look, pal. *You* are a security guard. *I* am a technician. And for the last time, I'm telling you, this was NOT. MY. FAULT.
Yeah, but you were poking around in there...
[She waves her arms in exasperation.]
I wasn't even working on the power system, you dolt! How could I have done ANYTHING to the power grid? It DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT!
I don't like your attitude, lady.
I DON'T LIKE YOUR FACE, IDIOT!
And while the two lovebirds are having fun, we can simply sneak through the now open door (talking to the guard just turns the compound hostile again in case you're wondering). There are some benefits to this approach, primarily making certain checks easier later on. We'll cover any noteworthy differences when they're relevant.
Now on to some miscellaneous bits and pieces.
After having helped the LTG worker fix the panel on the non-power surge path (which by the way can also be done by the player character with Decking 4) and having asked to her leave with the Charisma 5 choice, she can also be bribed with ¥300 instead of ¥100 if one lacks the 6 Charisma needed for the latter:
I don't even *know* you, buddy. Why in God's name would I leave you alone with a panel that *I'm* responsible for?
(¥300) Well, that way you could claim your 300 nuyen "efficiency bonus."
Y'know what? I *do* deserve an efficiency bonus.
[She snatches her PDA off of her belt and presses it to your credstick. Once the transfer is completed, she steps away from the panel.]
And now, I am going to go get plastered. Efficiently.
Or one can avoid spending any money whatsoever after having helped her fix the panel by asking her nicely using Strength instead of Charisma:
Look. I really appreciate the help, but I have to do this myself. I'm already *way* behind, and Corporate's gonna have my ass if I don't get it done before lunch.
(Strength 6) Let me ask you a question then. Do you value your kneecaps?
[She swallows, then steps away from the panel.]
I'm a big fan of my kneecaps. Tell you what... I'm going to climb back in my van and drive them somewhere far, far away.
Moving on to the down-on-their-luck cafe workers, one can respond to their plead for help by asking for compensation which they take poorly:
So... can you help us? We need that power, and we need Danni back. I don't think we're gonna get either without your help.
I don't do pro bono work. Unless you can pay me, you're out of luck.
[Mira turns on you.]
You *knew* that we didn't have any money! Why the hell did you string us along like that if you were only going to say no?
[He nods.] That was pretty cold, lady.
We don't *need* you. We can take care of *ourselves.* Danni will be back any minute. You'll see.
[He opens his mouth to speak, then seems to think better of it.]
You, get off of our turf. *Leave.* And don't come back!
Finally, Danni can die in the fight against the drones.
And by "can die" I mean "you can kill her with an area attack like an absolute fucking monster" because not only are the drones incredibly weak, they don't even attack Danni. Guess it's possible you might whiff a grenade really badly, but it's a pair of 20 HP drones, there's no reason not to just take them out with normal attacks.
Either way, the conversation after having returned from the utility tunnel having "failed" at the rescue:
I'm sorry, Mira. She didn't make it.
[His voice quivers with grief.] I'm so sorry, Mira.
No. You're wrong! You have to be! Danni *can't* be dead!
I knew that this was going to happen. I *knew* it. I *told* you that she had no business going down there.
Shut up, Heimer! Shut UP!
[She starts in the direction of the utility hatch.]
(Charisma 4) We did what we could, Mira. But by the time we got there, it was already too late.
We understand. Mira, stay here. I don't want you getting shot, too.
[She collapses to her knees, sobbing.]
Finally, just for a less depressing finish, here's the second conversation with the Becks, the elderly couple who were ultimately cut from the Kreuzbasar.
[The elderly couple huddles together in the cool air, their hands cupped around their respective cups of coffee. Seeing you, they warm, if ever so slightly.]
Still shaken up about Monika?
We still can't quite believe it. I don't know what the Kreuzbasar will be without her.
She meant a lot to this place.
And this place meant a lot to her.
She made this neighborhood a sanctuary. A home. You ask anyone here why they came, and you'll get a hundred different reasons. But you ask them why they stayed, and you'll get one. Monika.
I neglected to introduce myself before.
Oh, there's no need. Word gets around. You're Rosa.
Afraid I didn't catch your names either.
Kristian Beck, at your service. And this is my blushing bride, Karin.
You two lived here long?
Twenty-five years in Berlin, but only three here in the Kreuzbasar.
It's the nature of the city. Always changing. A kiez that is peaceful one year becomes a warzone the next. It kept us constantly moving, looking for somewhere safe.
Easier in our younger years.
And then we discovered the Kreuzbasar, and Monika. We could tell she had a good head on her shoulders. So we figured this could be a home for us.
I hope we can continue keeping it that way.
I hope so, too. For all our sakes. But I do worry. The Flux sees to it that few things stay the same for long. Without Monika here to read it and react, I'm not sure what the future holds. Only time will tell.
I should be going.
Take care, dear.