Part 69: A Nice Little RecapPart 69 - A Nice Little Recap
While working on the next update wherein we finally gain access to the long-awaited information from Alice, it dawned on me that due to the main story having taken a backseat to all the unrelated missions we've run, not to mention the long period of time this LP has been ongoing for anyone who's been following it live, it might be nice to provide a brief story recap to bring everyone up to speed about what has happened and what we know.
After all, every longrunner needs to have at least one filler episode.
If you already know or remember everything that's gone down, you're not going to miss anything by skipping this one.
The story began with the crew, led by the decker and unofficial head of the Kreuzbasar Monika Schäfer, having been hired by a client to break into a data vault located inside a remote mansion called Harfeld Manor.
What was supposed to be an easy job takes a hard turn south when in the process of opening the vault door via the Matrix, Monika is killed by an unknown force who with her last breath struggles to speak out a name: Feuerschwinge, the "Firewing", a Great Dragon who rampaged through Germany in 2012 until eventually being shot down by the Luftwaffe using an experimental weapon designed by a man named Adrian Vauclair, then the CEO of Diehl Defense.
She crashed into the radioactive wasteland known as the SOX in an event which came to be known as "Dragonfall", and as far as the public was concerned she was presumed dead. While initially a cause of great celebration, both her and Vauclair quickly faded from public consciousness due to the ongoing global upheaval caused by the re-emergence of magic.
Finding themselves under attack by security led by a heavily armored ork with a distinctively scarred face wielding a minigun, the rest of the crew barely escape the manor with their lives.
Back home trying to figure out how to proceed and what possible connection the ancient Firewing could have with what happened in the manor, the crew's fixer Paul explains that the run was commissioned by a man calling himself "Green Winters".
Paul tasks Rosa who now leads the group in Monika's stead to find out information about Winters, directing her to Altuğ Burakgazi, the proprietor of the local Turkish coffee shop and the primary information broker of the Kreuzbasar.
Along the way Rosa also encounters a whole bunch of colorful Kreuzbasar residents. Namely...
Kami, Altuğ's adoptive "niece" and cheerful assistant in matters related to both his businesses of coffee and information.
Jan Goldschmidt, a merry soykaf hound and a regular at Altuğ's cafe with a lighthearted love-hate relationship with the man.
Luca Duerr, a representative of the secretive Black Lodge who hires Rosa to do a variety of shady tasks for them.
Lucky Strike, not a local but rather a fellow shadowrunner operating from Mitte who strongly disapproves of hierarchial power structures and is not afraid to criticize the late Monika having held such an influential position in what is supposedly an anarchistic community.
Her own crew consists of the brawny troll decker Hähnchen, the charismatic elven shaman Barrakuda, and the rigger and mechanical genius from Russia named Racter.
Samuel Beckenbauer who runs a voluntary shelter for the disadvantaged, especially for the many orks and trolls still facing racial prejucide. Initially desperate for donations, Rosa helps him upgrade his shelter into a full-fledged civic enter which comes to bear her name.
Aleksi Laine, an old and crippled Finnish war veteran who now asks for little else than to be left in peace to life off his remaining time.
"Simmy" Kim, a local woman who in the past suffered a traumatic miscarriage which drove her to heavy BTL chip use (introduced to her by Monika as a way to cope with her trauma) and who has since struggled to find any joy in life outside of the simulations she's often lost in.
Zaak Flash, the local drug dealer who is actually a human but pretends to be a magical elf in an effort to boost sales. Seemingly quite affable and not ill-liked in the neighborhood, he amongst other things provides Simmy with her aforementioned BTLs.
Dr. Xabier Ezkibel, a rather arrogant elf from Spain who fled his homeland to Berlin after a variety criminal accusations, all of which he vehemently denies.
A man of questionable ethics but unquestionable skill, he also appears to have been helping Simmy financially in the past before her miscarriage while having her return for "medicine" until the time she could pay him back. Though the doctor's motivations and the exact nature of their relationship remains unclear, reading between the lines implies he might harbor some feelings of guilt for not having been able to save her unborn child.
Maliit Holyey, the local expert and vendor of all things related to tech.
Gunari Mettbach, a stern Romani arms dealer with a strong sense of pride for both himself and his selection.
Aljernon Half-Dream, the local elven talismonger already familiar from the previous game where he kept some extraordinary company. The smuggest-looking man on at least two different continents who's made cryptic answers an art form, his connections and knowledge on supernatural matters appear so vast as to cast doubt on whether he truly is just an ordinary elf like he claims.
Finally there is Aljernon's emerald-eyed assistant Absinthe who likes throwing around vague prophecies and who is definitely not an ordinary elf, but instead appears to be some kind of a powerful extradimensional entity taking an illusionary humanoid form. Her true motives, nature, and connection to Aljernon remain a complete mystery. Has a lifetime ban from staring contests.
Anyhow, Burakgazi's information on Green Winters leads the group to a hotel called Das Kesselhaus in the decrepit kiez of Drogenkippe. Here Blitz joins the group, and while the group successfully locates Winters, he's in no shape to answer any question, his broken corpse still connected to his datajack in a scene eerily reminiscent of what befell Monika.
However while the man himself is no longer amongst the living, a collection of ancient DVDs found hidden in his room is brought back to the Kreuzbasar with the hopes that some lead will be recoverable from them.
Indeed, the DVDs would prove to be the main source of information regarding what's going on. The first DVD contains a message of Audrian Vauclair himself from 20 years ago to his brother Herman Vauclair, who turns out to Green Winters' true identity.
Seemingly convinced that the Firewing did not in fact perish in the Dragonfall, he declares his intention to mount an expedition into the irradiated wasteland of the SOX to find her and make sure she would not rise again to repeat the rampage which claimed so many lives in the past.
The group then learns that while someone at some point is rumored to have emerged from the SOX, there has never since been sightings of Adrian and so his brother has spent a desperate 20 years trying to learn what exactly happened to him in the wasteland.
Herman starts tackling the issue by looking into the Firewing instead, but as time passes he starts growing increasingly paranoid, feeling like he is being tracked and that all the information he's finding seems too clean, as if it was deliberately controlled.
The next footage from the DVD is from fairly recently, with the now visibly haggard Herman talking about a string of disppeared deckers who were all looking into the dragon, with even a story about a decker named Hellebore who live-posted a killteam murdering her in her own home. Before the thread suddenly vanished, she had described her would-be killer as "a great big ork with skin grafts".
Herman concluded that his brother had been right all along and the Firewing is indeed preparing for her return, now erasing anyone trying to dig too deep which by now would certainly include Herman himself.
He does manage to recover a set of map coordinates that Hellebore was looking into before her death, and those coordinates point to Harfeld Manor. And so to investigate this lead without endangering himself, he plans to hire Monika Schäfer for the job under false pretenses.
The last section of the DVD, and indeed what would be the final footage of Herman before his death in Das Kesselhaus, follows him having now heard of Monika's death in the depths of the manor. Terrified yet determined to not go down without a fight, he opts to take the risk and try to very briefly jack into the Matrix to use his connections and do what he can to defy his fate.
In his final message, recorded separately, he pleads anyone watching the DVD to find his brother Adrian, him being the only one who possesses the knowledge on how to defeat Firewing. After all anyone watching would now also be one of her targets.
The group concludes that they indeed are now in the sights of something they can't hope to fight by themselves, so finding Dr. Vauclair is their only real recourse.
The task is nigh-impossible though, so Paul opts to hire the mysterious but highly-skilled information broker Alice for the job, whose services would not come cheap. As the crew works to collect the money, Majiit works on recovering what she can from the rest of the old DVDs, eventually finding success with a second one.
The second DVD again includes past footage of Herman talking about the various rumours he's heard, including talk of a cult said to worship a radioactive ghost dragon, and that the SOX radiation might've "mutated" Firewing's spirit in some strange way, perhaps either trapping it in her body or freeing it and having her live on in immaterial form.
He also muses about the possibility of other dragons working with her, though he eventually dismisses the notion as they're not a very cooperative bunch.
Another thing contained on the second DVD is a younger, sleepless Adrian talking about what he recognizes as lingering PTSD from the events of 2012, already then convinced that the dragon was not truly dead. Despite his own mental baggage, he hopes that his brother "Hermie" can live a normal and happy life.
More time passes as the crew continues to put together Alice's fee, but eventually Maliit sends word that she's salvaged what she could from the third DVD.
This one begins of Winters reminiscing about the past, about a childhood vacation during which Adrian saved him from drowning, something Herman would never forget and always love his brother for.
He's also dug up some old financial news about the dragon Lofwyr's takeover of Saeder-Krupp, with one of the "victims" mentioned being Werner Harding, the former CEO of Diehl Defense who eventually replaced Adrian.
A communication from the aforementioned CEO reveals that Dr. Vauclair was essentially fired from his job for allocation too many company resources for his search for what everyone else believed to be a long-dead dragon.
At one point when returning from a job, the group is ambushed in the metro tunnels by a group of mercenaries. A PDA recovered from them would turn out to provide information regarding the mysterious scarred ork they'd encountered in Harfeld, and whose description matched that of Hellebore's killer.
What is learned that he goes by the name "Audran", and at the time of admission to a local hospital in 2039 at the age of 25 he had suffered significant injuries. Sixty percent of his body was covered in third-degree burns, he had suffered significant blunt force trauma which had shattered his pelvis and broken his ribs, and he was also suffering from near-fatal radiation poisoning.
Paul theorises the burns to be dragonfire and the radiation to be from the SOX, putting forward the possibility of him belonging to the dragon-worshipping cult also mentioned by Herman, the Disciples of the Cleansing Fire. Whatever his full story is, he is clearly hostile and very dangerous.
Once again time passes. One day when returning from another job, the crew gets a call from Paul who simply says he's discovered something terrible.
And he's not wrong; It turns out that on top of everything else, Harfeld Manor which all signs point to being Firewing's present lair appears to be housing a hijacked shipment of an extremely dangerous radioactive bio-weapon simply nicknamed "Doom".
While yet another alarming development, the group concludes that it ultimately changes little for the time being - whatever role this Doom plays, they're already fighting for survival anyway and their objective of finding Vauclair remains unchanged.
Around the same time, word comes in that the last recoverable DVD has been delivered.
This one begins with footage from 2012 with Feuerschwinge's reign of fire still ongoing. While the interviewer tries to probe Vauclair about possible corporate interests in play behind his motivations, he assures her that his only interest is to help the people affected by the disaster, and that he sees it as his duty to mankind to make use of his position of wealth and influence to stop the slaughter.
Next is footage of the visibly agitated Herman again, who has stumbled upon some of Adrian's old lab notes. From them he has concluded something unexpected - that what downed the dragon was indeed not the Luftwaffe, but an experimental warhead developed at Diehl Defense which acts on the metagene of dual-natured beings and splits their astral form from their physical body, leaving them in an agonizing halfway state between life and death.
He concludes that this is the reason why Adrian was so convinced that the dragon yet lived, and that the government would've suppressed him from going public about it due to wanting the whole mess cleanly swept under the mat as fast as possible. He also concludes that should the dragon ever recover, she would not be in a good mood and everybody'd be fucked.
The final plot-relevant bit on the DVD is an old conversation from 2033 between the two brothers, with Herman angry at his brother for his "fairy tale ideas" that not only is the Firewing alive, but that dragons are supposedly taking over the world one corporation at a time.
Adrian himself likens the dragons' gradual conquest to things like a cigarette smoker dying of cancer and mankind's ability but unwillingness to stop climate change, that by the time people actually start getting concerned about it, it'll already be too late.
The conversation concludes with Herman pleading for his brother to stop his obsession with the Firewing and to start living his life again, if not for his own sake, then for his brother's. Adrian promises to try.
And that more or less brings us to the present, with the crew finally having Alice's information on Adrian's whereabouts in hand. However the Kreuzbasar has fallen under assault with Paul dead by Audran's hand, and the as of yet unidentified threat in the Matrix which has menaced people looking into the Firewing all this time has once again emerged to chase Alice into hiding.
The conclusion to this tale is starting to be in sight, but don't undo your seat belts just yet as we do still have some ways to go, and it's not going to be slow going from here either.