Part 70: A Chipload of AnswersPart 70 - A Chipload of Answers
We meet again, Kreuzbasar sewers. Our previous visit to these dark tunnels involved the disappearance of a local maintenance man, and ended up with us extending the feeding deal between the local ghoul population and doctor Ezkibel.
This time our goal is no less than preventing the wholesale destruction of the kiez itself, and as much as we respect sewer workers, it's fair to say that makes the stakes quite a bit higher than last time.
The good news is that we already know the exact number and location of the bombs thanks to powers that be, but even with our recently heightened mobility, 11 turns is a time limit worth taking seriously as the locations are pretty spread out.
There's one to our immediate south and two further away to the west and north, so this seems like the one time when the horror movie logic of splitting up the group to investigate a series of dark tunnels is actually sensible. We'll send Dante and Eiger to handle the southern bomb since they're our toughest combatants and don't need much support.
On turn 2 the rest of the squad has the first bomb and its guardians in sight. There's also a ghoul here, seems our friendly neighborhood flesh-eaters also figured that armed intruders setting up explosives in their house don't have their best interests in mind. Good thing we didn't end up having to get rid of them, huh?
A lone ghoul's pretty outgunned against these guys though, so how about we go give them a hand. A figurative one of course, though they're certainly free to help themselves to any leftovers once we're done.
The angle of assault here is a little awkward since there's no real cover between us and the mercs, but we've no reason to pull any punches so Dietrich uses his remaining elemental fetish to summon an Earthquake spirit which solves the cover problem by casting Guard.
As a reminder, Guard gives everyone in the cast area persistent Medium Cover status (crit immunity + chance to take reduced damage) regardless of their actual position for 4 turns with no cooldown, and remains a strong candidate for the most busted ability available to us.
Blindness is also up there on the list and we use it to immediately takes out the Vanguard from the fight, while buffed-to-the-gills Glory stuns the western merc with a well-timed Compound Attack crit, moving on to claw some AP and armor off of the third merc hiding behind some barrels as well.
Meanwhile Eiger and Dante spot the southern bomb and its respective guards, this group including a sneaky mage hiding in the small space to the north. Eiger also catches a glimpse of another ghoul in the bomb room itself, not directly visible from this angle.
Also? Calling bullshit on the "heavy cover" of the guy on the left.
As attractive a coverless mage is as a target, South Team is down to their last APs and Eiger only has time to tag him with a tracer round in preparation for a more thorough treatment next turn, while Dante closes in on the two other mercs.
On the enemy turn, the only northern mercenary able to act blasts "coverless" Glory almost point-blank with a Mossberg for exactly one (1) point of damage. Never gets old, and neither will he.
To the south, Dante takes a minor shotgun hit but the mage wastes his precious backstab opportunity by failing to land his Flamethrower. Afterwards the ghouls in both fights demonstrate the traditional ghoulish greeting to their guests by clawing the health out of them.
Turn 3 sees us supercharged to 5 AP by a combination of our adrenaline boost and Haste from Dietrich, and we team up with Earthquake to finish off two of the northern mercs, leaving only one left to guard the bomb. A bomb which apparently has a strange power to cut off visual effects in its vicinity.
Glory then employs her usual methods to remove the last obstacle between us and the explosive, though actually defusing it will have to wait until next turn as all this murderin' has left us fresh outta AP.
So instead we turn our attention to the south where Eiger finishes what she set up last turn with a good ol' full auto burst to the mage's face, and probably a bunch of other body parts too. Full auto fire can't crit, but use enough bullets and you can afford to be less picky about where exactly they land.
Dante fares less well this round, missing both a Petrify and Flame Breath and accomplishing nothing. Even good boys have bad turns, though Dante's medium caster stats make his spells fairly unreliable in general.
The two remaining mercs both get some small hits in on our teammates on their turn, though this leaves the ghoul free to continue bashing them around like flesh piñatas.
We defuse the first bomb to the north with 8 turns left on the clock, presumably by pressing a large button labeled "defuse" on its side. Beats having to deal with some tedious wire-cutting minigame though.
In the meantime Dante chases one of the two mercs out of cover and Eiger tries to finish him off, but falls just barely short.
While this means he has time to get one more shot off, ultimately both he and his buddy are finished off by the ghoul's infectious claws.
Afterwards Eiger proceeds to defuse the second bomb with 7 turns left to deal with the last one. And in case you're wondering, no, Dante is a dog and dogs cannot disarm explosives.
Both groups joined by their respective ghouls now start heading towards the last remaining bomb, its location accessible only by a lone crossing to the northeast which means the western squad has to take a bit of a long way around.
Also it's now been several turns since the Earthquake was summoned to this realm so its pebbles are starting to rattle pretty restlessly. We'll send the spirit in first so that if it does go berserk, it'll at least be more likely to channel its frustrations on the right people.
6 turns remain as we first start making our way into the section housing the final bomb, guarded by the largest mercenary group so far.
...These guys are awfully dedicated to their job for hired arms, huh. You'd think "set up a bomb and stand guard next to it until it explodes" is a clause most mercenaries would find something of a dealbreaker in a contract, but these fellas will not hesitate to sit right there to the very end if we let them. Really putting us to shame with their unyielding professionalism here.
With 5 turns left Dietrich's lively pet rock almost reaches the enemy but then decides that rock beats leash and goes out of control, while a third ghoul enters the fray from a nearby storage room.
At the same time Glory guns down the conjurer with the help of a sniper bullet from Eiger fired from so far back, behind the earlier crossing and through the doorway, that she couldn't actually fit into a single image together with her target. It was a pretty cool shot though.
On the enemy turn the mercs mostly focus on the ghouls and Earthquake, though the mage singes us a Flamethrower and the Vanguard reminds us of the dangers of grouping up with a concussive grenade. AP damage is a bit weird so this is not as bad as it looks though - only Dante is actually affected and loses his next turn, as Glory doesn't suffer a critical hit and our 4 AP keeps us above the stun threshold.
The Vanguard gets no praise for his throwing skills and instead gets pummeled into a mushy pile on the floor by a ghoul and a very angry elemental who once again demonstrates that stone, for its part, has little trouble getting blood from you.
4 turns left, and we kind of fail to make much of an impact of our own this turn. We spend a little too much time worrying about the elemental and Eiger still hasn't even reached the scene of the fight, so the only real highlight is another Compound Attack crit from Glory knocking out one of the mercs.
One day we'll learn this lesson for good. One day, but not today.
The mage has gone un-geeked for far too long but is now left on death's door by a ghoul. Those guys have really been going at it today.
Another ghoul takes its claws to Earthquake which... actually gets unsummoned on its own this turn, wasting the time we took to try and get rid of it ourselves. Kind of didn't realize that was a thing that'd happen.
Still, neither of the remaining mercs are in any kind of fighting shape so Dante and Glory mop up the last of the resistance.
Glory proceeds to press the defuse button on the final bomb, and so the Kreuzbasar which was a mere 3 turns away from destruction is saved and we are 8 Karma richer for our efforts.
Let's head to the safehouse... take care of Paul.
That ork is gonna pay for this.
We leave our helpers to their well-deserved dinner and make our way back to the surface. Our home is saved and we have won, but with Paul and who knows how many others dead, it's a victory that's hard to celebrate.
I think we should say something. About Paul.
[Theres another moment of silence, then Eiger speaks up.]
Thank you, Paul Amsel. For everything.
[Another pause. Her voice softens.]
I was out of position when they came for you I couldnt save you. I'm sorry.
I appreciate what Amsel did for us. Its another loss. One that this team cant afford.
What, us? Sentimental stuff isn't really our forte, but...
Its hard, I know, but this is why we need to keep together. Support each other. No ones gonna look out for us but us.
Oh right, Blitz is here as well. Good to see he made it, not that we especially suspected otherwise. Doubt anything short of the actual apocalypse has the power to kill this guy seeing as nothing's done it by now, and he'd probably stumble into some interdimensional portal at the last second and avoid that too.
Well, uh... I didn't know Paul as well as the rest of you. But he seemed like a good guy.
[He shuffles his feet.]
I didn't want to see this happen, at any rate.
You okay, Blitz? Looks like you and Maliit saw some action back there.
[His eyes remain fixed on Amsel's body.]
[As if in turn, Dante lowers his head sadly, lets out a heavy sigh, and closes his eyes.]
Looks like Dante's cooled down again some. Poor guy, losing owners left and right recently.
Okay, looks like everyones had their say.
After we've watched the chip, I'll take care of the body. I know what to do.
Be respectful, but be quick. After all, it is only a shell. Paul is with Monika now.
Were all gonna be with Monika soon if we dont do something. The Firewing came after us once. She'll do it again.
This is about more than just us. Everyones in danger. The whole damn F-State.
Let's not forget that there is still the minor matter of a radioactive bioweapon, that doesn't seem like something you just pick up to take out a group of pesky runners.
Arent you being a little dramatic?
I don't think that she is, Eiger love. I really don't. C'mon, everyone. Let's get a look at that optical chip. I wanna see what we're dealing with.
Agreed, we are long overdue some concrete answers.
...but not so long that we can't take a moment to at last pick up our final crew member perks! Seeing as this is everyone's final level up, their final stat screens will be included as well.
Eiger kind of half-asses it with the stat increases for her final level up compared to the rest of the crew, but the increases in Quickness and Ranged Combat make for a major accuracy boost and at the end of the day hitting things with bullets is all she needs to do anyway.
Weapon skills only unlock abilities and increase crit chances so while the 5 points she now has in both Rifles and Shotguns seem low, there's not actually that much benefit in going further anyway.
Speed Loader: Eiger gains the ability "Tactical Reload" that reloads all her equipped weapons. Cost: 0 AP. Cooldown: 7 turns.
Sniper Rifle Specialist III: Eiger gains the ability "Snap Fire" that can target two enemies in one action. Cost: 1 AP. Cooldown: 3 turns.
As for the perk choice, Tactical Reload is handy but more of a luxury than anything. Reloading a weapon costs 1 AP but it takes a while to run out of ammo, especially when using multiple weapons, so it just saves an AP here and there. It'd probably be extra useful with a minigun, and yes, we could buy a minigun now, but she doesn't actually have enough Strength to carry one so that's sadly irrelevant.
What makes this a pretty easy choice is the fact that Snap Fire is great, not least because you can absolutely fire both shots at the same target. Eiger's done most of her work with the sniper rifle already, and two shots for 1 AP on targets of our choice with no downside? You'd best believe we're snapping that shit up.
"Anarchist Shaman" remains a great title. Like with Dietrich here, the rest of the crew's final level ups just involve a giant pile of stat ups across the board, though on the flipside their final perks are kind of underwhelming across the board too.
There's not much to say about Dietrich's skills, he was a jack-of-all-trades support character in the beginning and remains so in the end.
Dragonslayer's Wrath: Dragonslayer Idol is replaced by "Dragonslayer's Wrath" which harms all foes within 3 tiles of Dietrich for 16 HP damage, followed by lingering 6 HP damage and 1 AP damage every turn for three turns. Cost: 1 AP. Cooldown: 3 turns.
Dragonslayer's Shield: Dragonslayer Idol's protective aura grows more powerful, increasing its damage reduction from 3 to 5.
Dragonslayer's Wrath is kind of a strange option. The initial damage can crit which is nice, but on the flipside the lingering damage is affected by armor which can easily reduce the HP part of it to nothing. The main downside however is the rather obvious fact that Dietrich is a support caster and has absolutely no business being in the front lines. On Glory an almost melee-range AoE like this could be very useful, but on Dietrich it's just an odd perk to even offer.
Dragonslayer's Shield on the other hand couldn't be simpler, simply boosting his protective aura instead of replacing it. Enemies don't use high-power weapons much, and 5 extra "phantom armor" on top of normal armor is actually quite the barrier to pierce. It's also far easier to cover our ranged fighters with it than it is hitting enemies with Wrath, though the main downside remains its short range as grouping up is unadvisable even with the extra protection. Still, Shield is our choice here.
Lookit all that muscle, wouldn't want to challenge her into an arm-wrestling match even without the razors. Funnily enough unlike Eiger, Glory can actually wield a minigun as it has high Strength but low Ranged Combat requirements. Perhaps something to keep in mind.
Trauma Specialist II: Glory upgrades one of her Basic/Gold BuMoNa Trauma kits into a Platinum Trauma kit which revives downed characters with 100% HP.
Gear: Revolver: Glory carries a custom Ruger Super Warhawk revolver, with hand-machined armor piercing ammo. 14 DMG, 6 Ammo Capacity, pierces 4 Armor.
The most noteworthy thing about Trauma Specialist II is that it overrides the first rank we could've picked at level 3 which upgraded her Basic Trauma Kit into a Gold one (we upgraded her Medkit instead).
The custom Super Warhawk is a very solid revolver which doesn't replace her original chain pistol either. It's the best handgun available for Glory who lacks the skill for top-tier pistols as the store-bought version has no armor piercing. That said it is still just another handgun and Glory's way more effetive with her claws, especially against the high-armor enemies the Savalette is weak against.
We haven't needed Trauma Kits much, but going from Basic straight to Platinum is a fine deal so that's our choice here.
Blitz is the only crew member we haven't seen in action after his stat ups, and they don't disappoint either. With +2 to both Intelligence and Decking he's now an unbelievably good decker. Literally, it's hard to believe it's still Blitz we're talking about here.
He's also become a pretty competent shooter by now, mostly held back by SMGs simply not being a very strong weapon type. His drone skills have remained wholly mediocre to the end though to the point that sacrificing an AP to keep Max active might not even necessarily be worth it. "Part-time rigger" indeed.
Pain Suppression: While Blitz is jacked into the Matrix, attacks on his physical body deal 3 less damage.
Novahot Targeting: Integrated tactical omputer marks weak points in an opponent's armor. Blitz's ability "Mark Target" now also reduces the target's Armor by 2.
On the perk front however... Pain Suppression is a joke. I'm fairly sure up to this point Blitz has never suffered a single point of physical damage while jacked in, so he could've literally had this perk for free from the start without it having made any kind of a difference. Being under fire while in the Matrix, especially to a degree where you wanted extra damage reduction, is simply too narrow a circumstance.
Thankfully we at least have an alternative in Novahot Targeting which is... okay. Marked targets are easier for everyone to hit, and a small armor reduction on top of that synergises especially well with Blitz's own SMG which has both low accuracy and damage per shot. It can still miss though, so increasing the party's own accuracy with Aim is more reliable. But it at least does something, and as mentioned individual enemies can get pretty tough from here on out, so it is the clear choice here.
With our crew now all perked up, let's... oh? Looks like somebody's left a box on the counter.
Seems like we've got a thank-you present of some sort from the local shadow organization bent for world domination. Considering the kind of packages those guys like to deliver, it seems prudent to first make sure their gratitude isn't of the ironic kind.
Little wonder spirits always seem so uncooperative, one moment you're doing free spirit things and the next you're bound to some bauble or another and stuffed in a cheap box for shipping. Doesn't seem dangerous though.
Let's see now, a grenade, an elemental fetish and top-tier trauma kit...
Oh, and also the best piece of armor in the game.
Exactly like with the Schockwellenreiter, clearing at least two out of three Lodge objectives nets us their big reward. Which is almost kind of a shame since it lets you chicken out of their most objectionable jobs and still reap the full rewards.
Still, the Prototype Combat Suit is generically strong all around and we're going to be making use of it from here on out. Our tailored suit served us long and well, but getups like that are for civilized interaction and as our enemies have now dropped all pretenses of civility, it seems only appropriate that we respond in kind.
Clad in our new outfit and on our way to join our team, we stop for a moment to observe our unexpectedly fierce pet whose flames seem to have died down for the time being.
So Rosa... Dante was very helpful out there but I am a bit concerned about his...
Fire-breathing? Pretty cool trick, don't you think?
It is handy. Thats not hard to argue.
Ability to petrify people that he doesnt like and then rend their flesh with tooth and claw? Yeah, that bothers me, too.
Hes not a normal dog. Not by a long shot. Is he possessed?
I assume youve checked his aura and discovered hes part hellhound. Monika trained him for months to be combat ready.
We had a hellhound in the house, and Monika didnt tell us? For MONTHS?
Rosa has him under control. Dante performed well in the field. Followed commands flawlessly. I have no concerns.
Welcome to the team, Dante.
Sure enough, we can now bring Dante into a mission as a full-fledged crew member!
Unfortunately from here on out he does take a full member slot and so his lack of perks, dialogue, and clear combat niche don't make him a very appealing choice outside of the obvious fact that he's a firebreathing dog which is obviously a wonderful thing.
While we do want to go check on how the people of the Kreuzbasar are faring in the aftermath of the attack, we've waited too long and paid far too much to delay getting the results of Alice's investigation any longer.
Creepy. If you go through the trouble of creating a digital copy of yourself like this, you might as well go for a more natural eye choice than black voids.
Greetings, valued customer. I am an offline simulacrum of the Alice persona. I have been included on this chip to answer any questions that you might have about your information purchase.
Nifty piece of tech.
Not now, Blitz.
If you are ready to proceed, I will present Alices findings. You may interrupt this presentation at any point by saying Alice, I have a question.
Let's hope these questions come a little cheaper than the initial one.
Is that the only thing youll respond to? Or can I talk to you like a normal person?
[The simulacrum hitches slightly.] You may interrupt this presentation at any point by saying Alice, I have a question.
That answers that.
Were ready. Lets get this show on the road.
All right, Rosa. Ive got good news for you, and Ive got bad news. Lets start with the good news. Ive found Vauclair, and he is alive.
Won't thank anyone until we hear the bad news. Always start with the bad news, dammit.
The trail to your missing doctor was a long and slippery one. The fee that you paid me barely covered my costs for the job. I sent a team into the SOX on a fact-finding mission. I bribed government officials. I greased the palms of wageslaves at megacorps all across Europe.
Each step I took eliminated possibilities. Drew me a little bit closer. And finally, I found the place where Vauclair is being held.
Youve gotta be kidding me.
Don't think we're exactly talking to a comedy club regular here, Eiger.
He was there the *whole time?*
[Glory says nothing. She just studies the photograph and nods.]
Okay. Nobody tell me, I get it. This is something else that I missed.
...Somebody probably should've filled you in about a few things by now, huh.
So it all comes back to that cursed mansion that started this whole mess what feels like three lifetimes ago. In the end Green Winters, or rather Herman Vauclair, in his desperate quest to find his lost brother actually ended up sending Monika to exactly where he was. And to her death while he was at it.
Alice, I have a question.
[The simulacrum hitches again, and you can feel the life drain out of it. It looks up at you robotically.]
You have a question. All right. Please, make your inquiry now.
You said that Vauclair is being held at the estate. What evidence did you turn up to support that?
One of my assets at Transys Neuronet provided me with a video feed dated 2053-10-10. The feed was taken by a corporate surveillance drone. Playback commencing.
Thats Vauclair, all right... what's left of him, anyway. It doesn't look like they've been feedin' him much.
[He shakes his head.]
We'll just have to pack a few soyburgers when we go after him, we didn't come this far only to have the man starve to death in front of us.
Already knew that bloodthirsty bastard was making his nest in there. Just what is that guy's full deal anyway?
[The simulacrum stares at you impassively.] Do you have another question?
What else did you turn up about the Harfeld Manor?
Seismological data and thermal imaging confirm the existence of a large, hollow chamber under the estate. It is my suspicion that Doctor Vauclair is being held somewhere within this substructure.
If Feuerschwinge's kept Vauclair trapped there for almost twenty years, she's gotta have a reason for it. It takes effort and resources to lock a man away for that amount of time. So what's her endgame in all of this? Why not just kill him and be done with it?
Malice. Revenge. Who knows? Remember, this was the man who shot her down. He sent her crashing into a radioactive wasteland. If somebody did that to me, I'd want to hurt him, too... and I'd make it last.
If it is something like that, then maybe we still have a realistic shot at this. Let's face it, unless the good doc has come up with a pocket-sized delivery method for his dragonslaying juice, the only kind of dragon we could even remotely hope to take on would be a greatly weakened one.
Do you have another question?
No more questions. Let's get on to the bad news.
Right, could really use a solid downer so that all this rambunctious celebration doesn't get completely out of hand.
Very well. Feel free to interrupt again with any future inquiries.
If Vauclairs at Harfeld, weve got problems. The last time we broke into that place, they took Monika out. It was a miracle that any of you got out alive.
Yeah, but now we know whats down there. This time, well be prepared for it. We can handle this.
What exactly do we know and can prepare for? A dragon? A mystery brain-frying killer virus? Hell for all we know doc Vauc himself might turn out to sprout metal tentacles from his back or something, reveal he and the dragon have become secret lovers and he was actually just pushing himself too hard on his diet after an off-hand remark from Firewing that he was starting to get "a bit tubby" one night when they were going to bed which wasn't meant as anything serious but that he just couldn't get out of his head.
Could still be anything is what we're saying.
[She shakes her head.] No. It'll be even worse this time. The first time we went in, we had the element of surprise on our side. But now, they'll be expecting us. They're hunting us, remember?
Well, what else can we do? Cut and run? The last time I checked, that wasnt an option, either.
Even if it were, I wouldnt take it. Im not running from this. Not after what they did here tonight.
None of us are, Glory. But Eiger's right... we cant just go charging in there again. Not without some kind of edge.
[The simulacrum jerks back to life. It resumes speaking, blissfully unaware of the conversation that it's cutting off.]
And now, Rosa... on to the bad news. You now know where Vauclair is. But rescuing him will not be possible.
Alice, I have a question.
[He continues without waiting for a response.]
Why the hell not?
This *thing* that I met is protecting the Harfeld Manor. And it's going after anyone who gets too close to what's happening there.
Alice... what did you see in there? *What* is going after these people?
Great, forum archives from almost two decades ago, guessing everyone's uncomfortably racist and all the images are broken.
When youre finished reading it over, say Alice, Im done, and we can continue.
[You all hear about the S-K team that got crisped a few hours ago? A whole lab's worth of researchers, all burned and broken beyond recognition. Ugly stuff.]
- Clockwork <13:27:02/09-01-38>
[At this point, who hasn't?]
- Big Pharma <13:28:05/09-01-38>
[Power spike. Got 'em right through their datajacks, like a bolt of lightning to the brain. A one-in-a-million accident, is what they're saying.]
- Mr. Mayhem <13:29:00/09-12-38>
[...and you believe that?]
- Clockwork <13:29:10/09-12-38>
[Got a more plausible explanation?]
- Mr. Mayhem <13:29:22/09-12-38>
[Yes, actually. It was a clean-up operation.]
- Clockwork <13:30:05/09-12-38>
[Color me intrigued. What were they cleaning up?]
- Big Pharma <13:30:52/09-12-38>
[A secret project that Lofwyr didn't want anything to do with. You might've heard rumors about it... the project name was APEX.]
- Clockwork <13:32:24/09-12-38>
[Aaaaaaand you've lost me.]
- Mr. Mayhem <13:34:40/09-12-38>
[APEX, Clockwork? Seriously? That old line of drek?]
- Big Pharma <13:34:44/09-12-38>
[I'm tellin' you jokers, APEX is real. Or at least, it was... until the wizworm pulled the plug.]
- Clockwork <13:35:52/09-12-38>
[C'mon, Clockwork. We're still decades away from seeing a fully functional AI, you know that. Those APEX stories that've been floating around... they're just some conspiracy nut's wet dream.]
- Mr. Mayhem <13:38:12/09-12-38>
[Fine. Keep your heads in the sand. Some of us know the truth when we read it.]
- Clockwork <13:38:20/09-12-38>
[Okay, Clock. I'll humor you. But riddle me this: if Lofwyr had an armed and operational AI in his claws, why kill it?]
- Big Pharma <13:39:30/09-12-38>
[You remember what happened to most of Echo Mirage?]
- Clockwork <13:40:07/09-12-38>
[The Crash Virus killed them. Fried their brains. But I don't see what that has to do with anything.]
- Mr. Mayhem <13:44:59/09-12-38>
[With the commercial release of the CDT-1000, some security firms are working on counterintrusion software that could do the same thing. "Black IC." You can look it up if you don't believe me.]
- Clockwork <13:45:43/09-12-38>
[Whoa. Scary stuff, man.]
- Big Pharma <13:55:20/09-12-38>
[Well, the goal of the APEX project was even scarier. IC waits for you to come to it. APEX wouldn't be bound by those restrictions. It could go out hunting, hit its targets when they least expected it. That's why they called it APEX... it was designed to be the apex predator of the digital world.]
- Clockwork <13:58:11/09-12-38>
[...and so, rather than using it to his advantage, Lofwyr decided to kill it in the cradle?]
- Big Pharma <13:59:10/09-12-38>
[The wizworm's no fool. Some things are too dangerous to play around with. How would you put that genie back in the bottle if it ever slipped out of your control? Answer: you couldn't.]
- Clockwork <14:00:08/09-12-38>
[And then it would TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!111!11!]
- Mr. Mayhem <14:01:26/09-12-38>
[Okay, this thread has officially gone off the rails. I'm closing it down for the good of mankind.]
- Captain Chaos <14:05;39/09-12-38>
Man, moderators used to be real strict back in the day. So, what, she's implying that we're looking at some murderous AI that started as a pet project of Lofwyr's? Starting to feel like you'll eventually find a dragon behind every problem.
Alice, I'm done.
Just as I am certain that APEX was responsible for the deaths of Monika Schäfer, Green Winters, Clockwork, Peregrine, and a score of other deckers over the last sixteen years.
[Blitz raises his hand.] Hold up. Uh, Alice, I have a question. I thought they said that Lofwyr killed APEX?
They speculated as much, yes. They were wrong on that count.
I do believe that Saeder-Krupp was developing APEX as a tool for Matrix Warfare. I am also convinced that the IT personnel who were killed were the APEX development team. But I dont think that Lofwyr was responsible for their deaths.
APEX killed them.
A pet AI would explain how Feuerschwinge has managed to maintain her conspiracy and avoid detection for the past two decades. Any time anyone gets close, the AI takes them out and scrubs the record clean.
So theres your bad news, Rosa. Vauclair is being held at the Harfeld Manor. But knowing that does you no good, because you cant approach the place. I doubt that you could open the door without APEX frying you.
Man, and we were just a bunch of shadowrunners trying to make a modest living. If we ever come face to face with whoever decided we'd end up having to deal with nonsense way above our pay grade like dragons and killer AI, we'll make damn sure give them a piece of our mind.
We did last time.
They were trying to protect their secret. Like Audran said... if we hadn't gone down into the basement, they'd've let us go. APEX didn't react to us until Monika attempted to force the door to the basement.
...and now that the cat's out of the bag, they have no reason not to pull out the big guns on sight.
You're right. We can't go back while APEX is in place.
What's the play, Rosa?
What exactly are our alternatives here, doesn't take a chessmaster to figure out the next move when you only got one available.
We cant turn back now. If APEX is standing between us and Vauclair, then we need to find a way to kill APEX.
Fuckin' A, boss. I'm in.
Did you hear that, Alice? Do you have any suggestions?
I'll be the judge of that.
Alice, tell us about APEX's kill switch.
If Alice was scared of this thing, maybe we should give it a wide berth.
That's not an option, Rosa. We can't get into the estate without dealing with APEX first, and we have to get into the estate. I don't like this, either. But I can't see how we can get around it.
I'm still in favor of the "cut and run" plan. Butting heads with an AI isn't high on my list of things to do for the day.
We can't do that. Glory's right... there's no way around this. If Alice knows how we can kill this thing, we have to at least try.
All right. Alice, tell us about APEX's kill switch.
I have also determined that a kill switch for the AI exists somewhere in the basement of this facility. I will provide you with a physical address.
I don't like the smell of this, chief. It said that APEX *let* Alice escape.
[He turns to address the simulacrum on the screen.]
Alice, why would a Matrix warfare AI allow you to run a trace on it?
Blitz isn't wrong. This APEX has been able to operate all this time, straight-up killing numerous people without getting caught, and now it not only allowed to Alice get away but she even managed to track its location? It might as well be sending a formal invitation.
[It stares straight ahead. Its eyes are dead.] Im afraid that the answer to that question falls outside of the scope of my written parameters.
[The simulacrum stutters one final time, then looks up at you with an apologetic smile.]
You have now reached the end of this presentation. I have been encoded with a final message from Alice to Rosa. Playback commencing.
Thats all that I have to say Im following my own advice. Im *out.* Dont try to contact me again.
Well, we were looking for answers and we sure found them. Not sure if we feel any better now though.
Nice, bet she uses that last line every chance she gets. We sure would.
We know what killed Monika. We have a name for it, an' we know how to kill it. That's good enough for me.
We know what we have to do. We can either stand around talking about it, or we can go do it.
Agreed. We shut down APEX, then we re-enter the estate and rescue Vauclair. Hes the key to this whole thing.
As a side note, had we any personal missions open, we could bring it up here and ask the rest of the team to prepare while we quickly took care of it.
Sounds like a plan, boss.
I still say that all of this is crazy talk, chief. Taking on an AI isn't just a bad idea... it's *suicide.* So my vote is to cut and run.
We don't envy being the team decker considering what we're up against, but if there's something that could catch even a cold and calculating AI off-guard, it'd be Blitz.
Alice said that the kill switch is located in some old S-K facility. Assuming that the site was shut down sometime after the APEX project "disappeared," it could have stood empty for years. Maybe decades.
She also said that the building was in gang territory now. I wonder if it'll be anything like Das Kesselhaus was...
God, I hope not.
There's only one way to find out. Let's get prepped. This thing isn't going to kill itself.
[Blitz glances at you. The worry is painted all over his face.]
I can't believe I'm saying this, but you'd better bring me along. You try going up against an AI without a novahot decker at your side, and you're probably going to regret it.
Were we a decker, Dietrich would instead remind us to buy the best deck possible, or hire the best one available if Blitz wasn't around.
[Eiger begins her weapons check.] Improvise, adapt, overcome. Whatever's there, well deal with it. First, we find our way into the basement...
[She peers through the scope on her sniper rifle.]
...And then we kill the AI that killed Monika.
You did good out there, defending the Kreuzbasar. Youve had our backs the entire way - made good decisions.
I appreciate that. Now you need to forgive yourself. You werent out of position, Eiger, and you know it.
[She scowls at the floor.] Thanks. Cant do it. But thanks.
The conversation normally ends here, but high enough trust with Eiger (which I think basically means if her personal mission is done) has it continue for a bit.
Don't worry, Eiger. I've got your back.
[She smiles. Claps you on the shoulder.] I know you do. And I've got yours. You've more than earned it.
Stop it, you're making my mascara run.
[She smirks as she slides the shotgun into its sheath on her back.]
I have that effect on people sometimes.
C'mon, you two. We've got a job to get ready for.
So we do. But first we'll go see if everyone's alright here at home.
(No space for Extras this time, we'll come back for anything significant)