Part 66: Paid in FullPart 66 - Paid in Full
Our biggest and most dangerous job is behind us and our payday is waiting ahead, one that should at long last see the completion of long-term goal of putting together ¥50,000 for Alice in exchange for her information on Vauclair's current whereabouts.
Karmic rewards have instant delivery though, and foiling the Azzies themselves nets us a full 12 points of scrumptious self-improvement.
We cash in what we have to furthen our already considerable BioTech knowledge from 5 to 7, together with the prerequisite Intelligence from 6 to 7. At this point our Medkits are pretty much strong enough to heal decapitations and cure cancer, and from here we're mostly going to focus on further improving our combat prowess.
We're also dragging around a sackful of optional objectives. We successfully completed the Lodge's little task, and the Schockwellenreiter are waiting for us to deliver the Bloodline project data, though before we'll even consider the latter we're first going to try and find someone who can tell us what the heck it actually is all about.
We'll wrap up our official business first and while at it check up on our crew's feelings about what we did and saw back in that facility, maybe see if some of them have hidden talent for translating ancient Mesoamerican languages. Otherwise our best is probably Aljernon and one shouldn't expose themselves to hazardous levels of smug radiation unless it's the only option.
Blitz is hanging out at his usual spot near the entrance with his two best listeners, the Japanese paper bumbershoot and the hindo-buddhist syncretist cult statue. We'll start from him.
Wonder if the guy's still bothered by that disappeared ex business. We adviced him to back off from his search after she sent a message asking for that exact thing, hopefully he's actually stuck to that.
Of course it was our advice that got him started on the chase again too, so maybe we're not as good at advicing as we like to imagine.
Any thoughts about that last run that you'd like to share?
I, uh... I never thought I'd set foot in an Aztechnology building. Looks different in meat-space than it does in the Matrix, I'll say that much. Truth be told, chief, I found the whole experience kind of nerve-wracking. I'm glad that we're out of there, and I'm even gladder that the building is a pile of smoldering rubble now.
That whole thing definitely felt like a nonstop series of close calls, too many jobs like that can't be good for your mental health. That said bullets are definitely even worse for your physical health, and we did manage to avoid those pretty well that time.
I need to find someone who can read this data that we lifted. Any thoughts?
No, chief... sorry. I'm new here, remember? My advice is to treat it like any other paydata. Just throw it up on Shadowland and go for a quick sale... that's what I'd do. We've got bigger things to worry about than hunting around for a linguist.
Cashing it in for some quick nuyen is probably what many runners would do, though even setting aside the moral aspect of releasing what's made out to be incredibly dangerous research, there's some professional pride on the line. Blowing up an Azzie corporate building is certainly a fine thing to do in itself, but an expensive fireworks show clearly wasn't what our client hired us for.
Big D's up next.
Whatcha need, boss?
Any thoughts about that last run that you'd like to share?
Y'know, boss... livin' in Berlin, I never thought I'd get the chance to go up against a blood mage. Guess it was my lucky day. Not sure how I feel about your freeing those clones. It might've been kinder to've put 'em out of their misery.
It was your call, though.
Can't say we're super optimistic about their chances out on the streets either. Leaving them there would've felt akin to putting them down as if they were animals though, figured they at least deserved a shot at making something more of their lives, even if that shot is almost as long as these last couple of weeks have felt for us. Almost.
I need to find someone who can read this data that we lifted on the run. Any thoughts?
No idea, boss. But if you want my advice, I say that you should delete that information right away. You saw what those blood mages were capable of. Whatever they were workin' on... whatever Project Bloodline was... you should let it stay buried.
Maybe, but our clients always seem to love trying to keep us in the dark so there's something of a personal drive to foil their efforts and at least find out what we're risking our lives for, y'know?
Eiger didn't seem to have much to say while we were in there, but let's ask her too.
Rosa. What can I do for you?
Any thoughts about that last run?
That complex needed to be buried. What they were working on in there... it was an atrocity, Rosa. I'm glad that we were able to put a stop to it. And saving the clones was a bold move. It would've been easier to leave them where they were and consider them collateral damage.
But it was the right choice, Rosa.
Well hey, glad someone seems to think so.
I need to find someone who can read this data that we lifted. Any thoughts?
You're on your own there, fearless leader. I have no idea. I don't even know why you took it in the first place. We brought down a building to bury this information. Flashing it around after the fact isn't the world's most professional move.
Sounds like we're roughly on the same page about this whole thing, but our thirst for forbidden knowledge must be sated.
Glory wasn't around for the run at all, and technically speaking no dialogue about it actually appears with her here, but we can bypass such minor details with a bit of LP magic.
Rosa. What do you need?
I need to find someone who can read this data that we lifted on the Aztechnology run. Any thoughts?
Yes. You should try the talismonger, Aljernon. I've had... dealings with him in the past. If anyone in the Kreuzbasar can read what we took, it'll be him.
We figured as much, just tried to see if we couldn't find any alternatives first is all. Odds are looking worse by the second though.
Any thoughts about that last run?
I don't like magic, Rosa. I've had some... unfortunate experiences with it in the past. What they were doing down there, in that lab... that was magic of the worst kind. You also took the time to save Aztechnology's test subjects. In your place, I might not have... I don't think I could've justified endangering the mission.
[She pauses for a moment, considering.]
Still, it worked out. And I suppose that's all that matters.
It definitely worked out for us, maybe less so for everyone else involved with that place. Not that we're exactly out of the woods in a broader sense just yet.
But if we are to find our way out of this damnable thicket, we're going to need the funds to hire a professional guide. And for that we need to get paid.
Seems like we've got a couple of messages to go through first. Let's see...
Damn, that has to be one of the most ominous subject lines imaginable. Opening up your messages and seeing one that's just titled "Blitz" is like the start of a horror story about a cursed e-mail where everyone who opens it gains immortality, but all their friends start dying in explosions from increasingly unlikely sources and all the money they touch gets automatically invested into the latest cryptocurrency schemes.
Please tell Lukas - excuse me, I mean "Blitz" - that I'm proud of him for not being an idiot.
In all seriousness, I know that his first impulse must have been to come riding in to my rescue, despite the fact that I didn't want him to. The fact that he was willing to listen to me and stay away... well, it means a lot.
I wish that I could tell him everything. So much has happened. But for now, I'm afraid that I have to keep quiet... lives depend on it. Please tell him to sit tight, and that I'll be in touch when I can. And please, tell him that I love him.
A lot less calamitous than expected, think "Lukas" will be happy to hear that we made the right call over on our side after all. Still though, Blitz as a romantic partner? He's undeniably a very skilled decker, but... Well, suppose Emilie knows him better than we do.
As for the other message...
>>>>>Thank you for your service.
>>>>>As a sign of our appreciation, we have decided to reward you with a piece of biotech that one of our operatives acquired on a recent job.
>>>>>If you wish to take advantage of this, go see Dr. Ezkibel. The implantation surgery has already been paid for, so there will be no cost to you.
>>>>>Thanks again for your help, and enjoy your new toy!
>>>>>FREEDOM. EQUALITY. INFORMATION. SCHOCKWELLENREITER.<<<<<
It's our grand reward for helping out the Schockwellenreiter with enough of their tasks! Which is two out of three, also (spoilers) true for the Lodge requests. Our 'ware options are real limited since we kind of need all our Essence, but it's biotech which can come cost-free so it's something worth checking out in case we are able to make use of it.
But there's no money in reading mail, so let's move on the main course.
If you are receiving this message, I have fled the country or am otherwise unavailable. Don't worry, you'll still be getting paid... I've made the appropriate preparations.
In any case, Rosa, thank you for helping me. Please do not attempt to contact me again; as far as the world - and my former employers - are concerned, I am buried under a ton of rubble. It is best that I remain that way.
Ivonne Jimenez, aka "Frau Müller"
That's some solid filling for our wallet, and not only that, but finally...
We have done it. We have put together Alice's fee in its entirety. Kind of hard to believe to be honest.
Lady's better come through after all this, or so help us.
Ah come on, Amselblocked right before the big climax! Pff. Well, let's handle our paydata and go see him afterwards.
We collect our pay for the OTK financial records we'd put up, and post the DNA "donor" list we picked up from our previous corporate visit.
We also have the option to put up the Bloodline project data for sale like Blitz suggested, though even if did want to do that, not actually knowing what it contains makes it a bit tough to figure out a proper price. So instead we check the BBS for relevant keywords, which gets us one hit this time.
- Maelstrom <09:27:52/11-16-54>
[You feel that shake a few hours ago? Not an earthquake. Azzie facility went sky high downtown. BOOM! Can see the smoke from here. Friend of mine down there says it was a power spike that blew their generators. I doubt it. Only Shadowrunners have that sense of flair.]
- Jast <09:30:04/11-16-54>
[You're kidding me. That huge one that sprung up six months ago? Place must have cost millions to build.]
- Ruby <09:30:31/11-16-54>
[If it was runners, hope they got a major payday. No way I'd go anywhere near an Azzie facility without a trunk full of ammo and a mage watching my back.]
- Lumens <09:39:15/11-16-54>
[Honestly, the power spike version sounds more likely. I've walked past that facility, and they have guards posted at the door 24/7, not to mention the automated turret systems backing them up. No way someone got paid to waltz through that scheisse. No way.]
- Maelstrom <10:02:31/11-16-54>
[So, dig this... apparently, there were some survivors wandering around a U-Bahn station near the blast site. Some BuMoNa folks approached to see if see they had accounts. Then one of them said that they "had to keep running," and they all took off down the tunnel.]
- Ruby <10:04;04/11-16-54>
[Well, sure. With a blast of that magnitude, they were probably all in shock.]
- Tolstoi <10:15:50/11-16-54>
[Found another post about a bunch of glassy-eyed people wandering around, it said that they were all wearing hospital gowns?]
- Ruby <10:28:13/11-16-54>
[The BuMoNa people must have hooked them up. They keep all kinds of medical gear in their rescue wagons.]
- WraithLike44 <10:31:21/11-16-54>
[Maybe. Or maybe they were Azzie guinea pigs.]
Who can say? Guess this is just one of those mysteries that will pass on to legend without ever getting a satisfactory explanation.
Heya Paul, way to ruin the big moment.
I need your password to transfer Alice's payment onto a credstick.
We once again have the option to be a dick to Paul if we wanted to, but that's so petty and mean for no good reason that we'll leave it for the Extras section.
Yes, it has... too long.
[He claps a hand on your shoulder.]
Well, my friend. The wait is over now.
[Amsel withdraws his hand and turns to open a file on his computer.]
All right. Before you go see Alice, there are a few things that you should know.
Firstly, this is a one-way operation. Once the funds have been transferred to the credstick, the only person who will be able to access them is Alice. As far as the team is concerned, the money will simply disappear.
Are you sure that we can trust Alice?
I am. Believe me, her reputation in the shadow community is worth far more to her than fifty thousand nuyen. She will deliver the information that she promised.
Besides, what other choice do we have? We cannot run, and money will do us little good if we're dead.
Well you never know, maybe all those Egyptian pharaohs and such are really living it up somewhere right now.
I suppose that's true. Okay, keep going... what was the second thing?
Secondly, once you make your way to the Rabbit Hole with the funds, it's go time. I trust that you understand what I mean by that.
Go ahead and clarify it for me.
What I mean is that retrieving Alice's information will be your *only* priority. No more distractions, and no more side work. I will busy myself canceling your remaining jobs and smoothing any ruffled feathers.
In other words "this is the point of no return so you'd better have done all missions you want to do", though there's a bit of extra leeway with the crew personal missions (aside from Dietrich's as his is tied to a main run). We've done it all and we've seen it all of course.
Isn't that a bit... premature? We don't even know what Alice has come up with.
All right, I guess that makes sense. Anything else?
Just that you need to be sure before committing to this. Time is important. A great dragon wants us dead, and that is not a thing to take lightly. But you shouldn't return to the Rabbit Hole until you are prepared to *act.* If you have any doubts, then I'd urge you to wait.
We have some minor business around town but nothing that should take very long. No sense in dawdling any further, far as we can see.
I understand. I'm ready to proceed.
[He breathes a sigh of relief.] Excellent. The password is "VOLKLINGEN." Once you are en route to the Rabbit Hole with the funds for Alice's payment, I will cancel the team's remaining obligations.
Ah geez Paul, stop it, we're too emotionally repressed to start crying here now. We're all just trying our best to somehow keep things together in this enormous shitshow we all ended up getting swept in.
Now please, go fetch the information from Alice.
[He claps a hand on your shoulder again.]
We're one step closer to surviving this mess.
Yeah. Let's make it a firm one, we've been stumbling around in the dark for long enough. Oh but one more thing, just to make sure...
I pulled some paydata from the Aztechnology facility, but I can't read it. Any ideas?
I strongly suggest that you delete this, Rosa. From what Müller told us, this information is dangerous. But if you're determined to know what it says, you could try the talismonger, Aljernon. I have no doubt that he can translate it for you.
It was worth a shot, at least. Yeah yeah, we'll go see him.
But first we head back for our computer and enter the password which is no doubt meant to be "Völklingen" after the German town...
...and we finally hold the fruits of our labor in our hands. One hell of an expensive fruit basket too so let's uh, make sure not to drop this thing.
As a side note the extra ¥8,000 is deposited into our own account, so at this point we have enough money to buy pretty much whatever we want.
Now before we head out to town, we have some good news to deliver.
Hey again, chief. Something else I can do for you?
Nothing much, Lukas. Hey, I've got something for you.
Really? What is--
[He straightens, and his eyes go wide.]
Wait a second. How do you know that name?
I found a message waiting in my inbox. It was directed to you.
[He swallows. Hard.] Who... who was this message from?
[Blitz stares at you for a moment, uncomprehending.]
Wait. What? You got a message from Emilie?
[He blinks.] Well. Um. Let's hear it!
Maybe you should see for yourself. I copied it to my PDA.
Of course I was. I'm always right.
[He smirks.] I'll do my best to remember that from now on.
You ready to leave this behind you and concentrate on your work? Here's a hint: the correct answer is "yes."
Yeah, boss. No more digging around, and no more fishing expeditions. When Emilie's ready to come back, she'll come back. I get that now.
And with that, we've officially reached the good ending to Blitz's personal questline! As you may have surmised that means there's also a bad ending, and we'll of course cover that as well.
Time to head out.
Our first order of business is visiting Ezkibel's clinic to check if that biotech reward is something we can make use of.
And the answer is, hell yeah we can. The Adrenal Contractor is for all practical purposes a 0 Essence cost version of Glory's Adrenal Pump with a negligible downside (though hers now lasts 4 rounds thanks to a perk) and that thing has always been just great. As with the Adrenal Pump it costs 1 AP to use which effectively means the benefit lasts for 2 rounds and the cooldown is a lengthy 6 turns, but a free AP boost is still a hugely powerful effect.
And for a Mage like us it truly is free in every sense of the word, as there's no other competition for the Body slot nor does it cost anything to install. Even for non-casters the only real competition is Wired Reflexes With Reflex Trigger which Eiger got from a perk of her own, but honestly the Contractor may well be the best choice even for them.
So thanks Schockwellenreiter, the slight unease about selling off that Formula 17 thing sure has faded a lot now.
Also after having run the numbers some, we now also opt to install the other 0-cost bioware which was amongst the ones made available after our journey into the Knight-King's realm. This brings our Willpower up to 9 which incidentally is the natural maximum for humans.
Next we'll report back to Luca that his message has been delivered.
Welcome back, runner.
Talked to that exec. He'll fall in line, after he gets his pants thoroughly dry-cleaned.
Assuming he still has the legs necessary to wear pants on.
[He smiles broadly.] Excellent work. Perhaps you do have a future in this town. Here is your pay.
Not too shabby for what was basically not even real work. We still consider you an enormous dickbag though, let's be clear about that.
We're out of excuses to postpone our visit to the smugzone, so it's time to see if the local magic man can help us decipher the true nature of Bloodline.
I have a question for you, if you don't mind. I came by some data on a job, it's written in a foreign language... maybe you could take a look?
Yes. Of course. Hand it to me, if you will.
[Aljernon sweeps his eyes over the information on your PDA. His mouth curls into a frown, then a grimace of disgust.]
This... is an abomination. You would do well to delete it.
I thought you said that you didn't discriminate when it came to magical traditions.
[He meets your eyes.] This is a special case. What you have shown me... this should not exist.
But you are looking for specifics, and you will continue asking until you have them. The impetuousness of youth. Very well, then. I will attempt to provide the clarity that you seek.
Please do. Hard to imagine as it is, you're apparently our best source of clarity when it comes to these kinds of things.
There is great power in blood, Rosa. It can be used as a focus, a battery, or a bridge. The blood mages of Tenochtitlan are widely feared for their proficiency in abusing this power. This project... this "Bloodline"... seeks to abuse the power of blood in a novel - and horrifying - way.
Do you see the ramifications of this, Rosa? Do you understand what this means? Were the project completed... were the techniques described within to be perfected... nobody would be safe.
And "nobody" especially includes people who might have connections to say, blowing up Aztechnology buildings, huh. Hell we've probably pissed off an aunt or two enough for them to volunteer themselves to this thing purely out of spite.
You could run and hide, you could go to ground, you could bury yourself in a mile of concrete. It would not matter. As long as Aztechnology can find a blood connection to their prey, they could target them. And it would be fatal.
Damn. Yeah, that does sound bad enough that we probably can't hand this over to the Schokkies, though we kind of did figure as much based on our unofficial tour of those labs. Ah well, we got their main reward already and we're not especially strapped for cash.
We'll just get rid of it. For that we need to take a quick trip back to our computer because the technology to open up a choice menu without interacting with something external hasn't been invented yet.
Gotta make sure we don't just throw it in the recycle bin, wouldn't that be embarassing.
Handing it over to Schockwellenreiter would've been worth 2 Karma and 500 nuyen and selling it as paydata 1125 nuyen, but we do at least get one consolation Karma point for potentially preventing a new world order based on blood and terror, so there is that.
And that's all our business finished. Time to head down the rabbit hole, one last time.
We probably don't need to bring our teammates, they already tried the whole metro ambush thing and everyone knows villains never use the same ploy twice. Everything'll no doubt work out just fine and we'll be back home safe and sound with the precious information in hand, next time.
First off, crew comments if the clones were not rescued (Blitz doesn't comment on the matter either way):
It's too bad that we couldn't have saved any of the clones that they were working on... poor things. They were the ultimate victims in all of this. Oh well. We got the job done. And at the end of the day, that's what matters most.
You put a stop to it, Rosa. Buried their research under a ton of concrete, and made us a hefty sum in the process. All in all, a good day.
Pity we couldn't've saved any of those clones that the Azzies were testing on. But it was probably kinder to let 'em die. Considering what the Azzies did to them, they'd never have been able to lead normal lives anyway.
Secondly, if we had done the power-off path in the Aztechnology run, we would've received a message from Heimerich with the contents depending on whether or not we saved them from getting tracked down by deleting the logs.
If we had, the message would've been titled RE: FIREWORKS:
[The screen flickers to life, and Heimerich's face appears. He raises a liter of beer to the screen in salute.]
Hey, Rosa! That "fireworks display" that *mysteriously* went off at the Azzie compound was a thing of beauty!
We wish you could've been in the coffee shop with us to see it, but we understand that you had more important things to do. Come by for a drink sometime, and we'll raise a toast to the rubble!
If we had not, the title would've been RE: ROT IN HELL:
[The screen flickers to life, and Heimerich's face appears. He looks pale and haggard, and his eyes are rimmed with red.]
Well, you really screwed us. I hope you're happy about that. An hour after your little party at the Azzie compound, the whole district was crawling with Knight Errant. And who do you think they came to see?
You guessed it, drecksau. They came to *us,* just like we said they would. Danni's dead, Mira's a wreck, and we need to keep moving just to stay alive. All thanks to you. I hope you rot in hell.
Also a little surprisingly there's no BBS thread or anything if the Bloodline data had been released like there was for Formula 17.
Next, being a dick to Paul. I mentioned this a whole bunch of updates ago but the game actually tracks Paul's opinion of you and he doesn't appreciate rudeness, like:
This has been a long time coming, Rosa.
You don't have to tell me how long it's been, old man. I've been working my ass off to raise this money.
[Amsel bristles slightly, but keeps his cool.]
Yes. Of course. You've raised Alice's fee with admirable expedience, despite your obvious social... issues. But I am very much looking forward to bringing this entire sorry episode to a close.
If his opinion is negative enough, his comment about us being a worthy successor to Monika is somewhat less warm:
What else... oh right, the bad ending to Blitz's personal questline which would've happened had we encouraged him to go after Emilie after getting the message from her to stay away.
If memory serves I got this conclusion on my first playthrough because I'd been conditioned by past RPGs to assume that telling him to stop would've just ended the storyline prematurely. And they clearly knew it too, as there's a lot more to this ending than the other one.
You don't look so good.
No. I imagine that I don't.
Well, clean yourself up. We have work to do.
[He pauses for a beat before continuing.]
Uh, chief... don't you want to know how things went with Emilie? Going after her was your idea, after all.
It was *your* idea, Blitz. I just didn't stop you. But okay, let's hear it.
It was a goddamned disaster!
[He pounds his fist on the table, sending cigarette butts flying.]
Everything is *screwed,* chief! It all went wrong!
With *your* world-class skills? However could that have happened?
I dunno, chief. I really don't. I hit the data node, just like last time. And just like last time, navigating it was a breeze. ...At least, it was in the beginning. The Azzies must've beefed up their security over the past year.
You don't say?
Well, I don't see any smoke pouring out of your ears, so it looks like you made it out okay.
Well. Um. Emilie found me. And, um...
[He turns his head and looks away.]
She rescued me. I'd've been ecstatic to see her if I wasn't so ashamed. She didn't look particularly happy, either.
Well, you were finally reunited with your lost love. That's something, right?
Yeah. Sort of.
Actually, no. Things are worse now, chief. Much, *much* worse.
And that's about it. She's gone, Rosa.
[He looks down into the cup of soykaf in his hands.]
I don't know if I'll ever hear from her again.
I'm sorry to hear it, Blitz. That's rough. But you never know... she might come around.
Yeah. I guess so.
Let me guess: bad news.
...Well, at least you know that she was working for the Schockwellenreiter.
[His reply is dull and flat.]
Somehow, that's not a consolation.
No. I guess not.
I could see this train wreck coming from a mile away.
Well then... *why* did you let me *do it?* I thought that we were friends!
(There's actually quite a few choices here)
I'm sorry, Blitz. This was just too hilarious not to see through to the end.
Hilarious? *Hilarious?* Screw you, chief. Seriously. I don't even know if I want to be on this team any more.
In all seriousness, Blitz, this is your own fault. You needed a lesson in humility, and you were gonna do this whether I encouraged you to or not.
That's... that's true.
[He hangs his head.]
I messed this up on my own, didn't I?
Yep. But now that you've acknowledged that, you can make an effort to change.
Yeah. I guess so. Maybe it's too late for me and Emilie. But I can still try to be the man that she hoped I could be.
Good plan. I'll leave you to it.
All right, chief. You do that. I've got some thinkin' to do.
Another way to wrap it up:
Well then... *why* did you let me *do it?* I thought that we were friends!
I'm a better friend than you know. I just got you out of a toxic relationship.
You don't know what you're talking about, chief. You've never even *met* her.
I don't have to. She could've avoided all of this, *and* protected her oh-so-secret mission, if she'd communicated with you a little better.
She left me notes--
Yeah, inflammatory notes that provided almost no useful information. Look, you've made your fair share of mistakes, but no more than she did.
[He hangs his head.]
I dunno. Maybe. I still love her, though.
Oh, come on, Blitz. She's robbed you, insulted you, and abandoned you.
It didn't go down like that - not really.
You put yourself in debt with dangerous people trying to find her, and what thanks did you get? She told you to get lost.
You just don't understand how wonderfu--
Now, any one of those things would be a dealbreaker for me. So why are you tearing yourself up over this woman? You're better off without her!
It isn't that simple.
[He stares at the floor.]
You don't get it... I was *better* when I was with her.
There are a lot of wonderful people out there, and they won't make you jump through the hoops that this one has.
I... uh, the more that I think about it, the more that I think that Emilie didn't *make* me do anything. *I* chose to chase after her, even though she told me not to. *I'm* the one who messed this up.
All right, I give up. This is pathetic. You go ahead and cry this out... just make sure it's out of your system before our next run.
[He stares at you petulantly through red-rimmed eyes.]
Don't worry about me, chief. I'll be just *fine.*
[Walk away.] Good man.
And last but not least, one more check-in with the Becks before we've caught up to the present with them.
I actually made a small mistake here as the conversation in the previous update was supposed to come after this one, but it's not a big deal. We already know the truth behind the incidents discussed - Laine was assaulted by someone who thought he was planning to join a pro-trog policlub, and Kim by a rival drug dealer of Zaak's who had been barred entry to the Kreuzbasar by Monika and wanted to take back his "turf".
[Kristian and Karin Beck walk arm in arm, enjoying a stroll in the unseasonably warm air.]
To what do we owe the pleasure?
Just checking in and checking around.
So vigilant. You and Monika were cut from the same cloth.
We do appreciate your efforts around here. You seem to be adapting to the F-State rather well.
And how's the Flux treating the Kreuzbasar as of late?
[Karin looks ready to make a quick reply, but Kristian places a hand on her shoulder and gives her a look that says they should not dismiss the question lightly.]
Since you ask, we do have some concerns. Since we last spoke, there have been more reports of strangers in the Kreuzbasar. And with these visits, there have also come some unfortunate incidents. One with Miss Kim, and another with Mr. Laine.
What do you know about the Simmy Kim incident?
[Karin turns red in the face, positively fuming.]
We know she was beaten. Assaulted by some cowardly drug dealer.
You're speculating, dear.
Fine. What we heard is that someone came advertising cheaper BTLs than what our resident Mr. Flash provides. It got Kim's attention.
Why would a dealer beat on a new customer?
Exactly my point. If someone wishes to steal Zaak's business, beating his customers isn't a smart way to go about it.
And people say I am the naive one. Mein Schatz, we've seen life in the other kieze. Pimps and dealers who use fear and violence to cow others into submission.
Give her some time. We'll get to the bottom of this.
I truly hope so.
What do you know about the Laine incident?
Only what we've heard. That he nearly killed a man who cornered him in an alley.
A human, to be specific.
We don't know that it was racially motivated, my dear.
You think someone's trying to use him to get to Samuel and his group?
Samuel is well known throughout the city. He could rally the orks and trolls of Berlin if he so chose. But before he'd ever rise for war, he would confer with Laine. Could be that the man was trying to convince Laine to offer advice one way or the other.
Or he was trying to kill him, which would surely give Samuel cause to react.
Suffice it to say, war of any kind would not bode well for the Kreuzbasar. But should it come to pass, the presence or loss of the "Arctic Fox" would be significant.
Agreed. I'll stay on top of it.
We appreciate it.
So you were here when the Flux started, weren't you?
Not here in the Kreuzbasar, but in Berlin, yes.
I remember hearing the reports of the anarchists burning City Hall, and seeing the smoke over the rooftops.
And then came Schoneberg, and the Final Law. Few took it seriously at first.
We were sure it was only a matter of time before the government or the corporations regained control. So we waited.
And the government?
The government did nothing! They wrote the city off as a loss. Probably figured the whole anarchist movement would bury itself in time, saving them the trouble.
Only it hasn't crumbled yet. Believers like Monika made it work.
And the megacorps?
The corporations seemed to welcome the F-State. No regulations. No rules but the Final Law. All except for Saeder-Krupp. The Flux opened the door for outsiders to take a piece of Lofwyr's pie.
And the people?
Many of those left in Berlin were the disenfranchised. The old ways of running things did little for them, so most embraced the F-State. It worked out well for some, less so for others.
And the two of you?
It took us quite some time to find a place within the F-State. Our first kiez changed so radically that we were compelled to leave.
Others we tried were worse. One even kicked us out because of our age. At times we regretted staying on this side of the walls. But then we found the Kreuzbasar, and we were home.
I wish I had time to hear more.
We understand. Stay safe.