Part 72: Neighbors in ArmsPart 72 - Neighbors in Arms
Here we are in... some unspecified part of town where Saeder-Krupp's old research facility housing APEX and its kill switch is supposedly located. A discovery we'd feel a lot better about had its source not been the AI basically giving away its own home address.
But we can worry about its motivations once we actually find this lab, something we now have to accomplish all on our own. Paul isn't there to guide us, nor can we rely on an employer's intel. It's just us, some kind of digital predator we know little about, and what we can safely assume to be a whole lot of gangers inbetween.
As we approach the entrance of the building ahead, the pack of armed people loitering in the area seem intent to immediately prove that last part right.
Come again? If you're looking for noble adventurers to save the peace-loving people of the Hub from the evil Magnifikers or whatever the heck you're talking about, one of us has clearly wandered into the wrong setting here.
We need to get into the basement. It's important.
Oh, it's *important,* you say?
[He makes a sweeping gesture in the direction of the building behind him. The other assorted toughs behind him smile.]
Well... by all means, go on in then.
Nice, glad to finally meet someone willing to just coo... waaait a second!
(Intelligence 2) ...You're being sarcastic.
Ha! You're a sharp one.
[He smiles at you, revealing a mouth filled with jagged teeth.]
This building's under Arbeiter protection. We can't just let you waltz in and shoot up the place.
It looks plenty shot up already. A few more holes couldn't hurt.
That all depends on where you put 'em. Look, pal, it'd be better for everyone if you'd just turn back. We don't want to fight you, but we can't risk letting an unknown player into this...
[He pauses for a moment to search for the right word.]
...*situation* right now.
Yes yes we all have our problems, got a hunch ours are a little more pressing than whatever petty turf wars you folks are no doubt engaged in though. Really don't have the patience for these large-mouthed gang types the way we used to...
You don't get to make that call. We have business inside, and that's where we're going. If you wanna try and stop us, be my guest.
[He gives you an appraising look.] My kill list is already full up for the day. Long as you stay cool, we can settle this peacefully.
Each non-dog crew member has their own version of this bit. Eiger rests her hand on her shotgun, Dietrich starts channeling his magic, and Blitz quietly thumbs off the safety of his machine pistol.
We're having some... trouble with a local mage gang. The Magnifikers.
[The ork turns his head and spits.]
They attacked us without warning, took up in our building, and kicked us onto the street. Me and my boys, we're the rightful protectors of this block. But the assholes that screwed us, they've got the building buttoned up pretty tight. We can't get in there to make things right... but maybe you can.
[Glory raises an eyebrow.] Your call, Rosa. You know the timetable we're working on.
Playing bounty hunter for some street gangs we couldn't give less of a shit about really isn't what we're here for. It's tempting to put this whole lot to the ground and move on to more important things, but if agreeing to this deal will get us inside with less trouble then so be it.
If we're to get entangled in this nonsense then we might as well make the most of it though.
(Charisma 5) 200 nuyen per head ain't bad. But from where I'm standing, it looks like you need my help... and that tells me that you can do better.
Fine. 250 per head. But that's my final offer.
Works for me.
Good. Yeah, I think that this will work.
[Glory gives you a small nod. The blades slide back into her fingertips with a click.]
You need anything else? Or are you ready to go crack some skulls?
I want to know who I'm working for.
I'm Ullrich, leader of the Berlin chapter of the Arbeiters. We're a policlub... small, but growing. We serve the People of the working class. Protect them from the parasites that would exploit them.
You're not a fan of the F-State, then?
Right, give us a call once you've successfully convinced the local corps of their moral duty to share their immeasurable wealth with the common man, we'll be sure to hang up our best red curtains.
I want to know what I'm going up against. Tell me about the Magnifikers.
A gang of parasites. They think that their magical talents make them better than everyone else. Because of that, they feel entitled to take whatever they want. Up until recently, they've been content with pulling pranks and stealing purses. Childish drek, but they were basically harmless.
The gang lifestyle sure seems to attract a lot of weirdos with inflated self-worth. Maybe we can convince the guy to travel to Sutterlin and become Phil's court wizard or something.
"Trithemius" took over the Magnifikers, militarized them, and convinced 'em that they could take us. And thanks to the element of surprise, they actually managed to do it.
[The ork folds his arms across his burly chest.]
Any day now, we're gonna show 'em exactly how bad an idea that was. I think I'll start by breaking Uri's neck.
You look pretty dug in out here. How long do you intend to man the trenches?
We'll be out here as long as it takes. We're taking our building back, one way or another. For over three years, we protected that place. We held it for the People, to do with as they pleased. Kept it safe from parasites and exploiters.
Everything was cool until those drecksau Magnifikers sucker punched us. No negotiation, no warning. They just turned on us out of the blue. Brought a couple dozen spirits down on our heads. I didn't even know that we were under attack until the water in my bathtub snaked up and tried to drown me.
Sounds unpleasant. On the bright side, at least you weren't on the toilet.
Most of us got out alive, but we've been stuck out here ever since. Just give us some time, though. We'll take the building back... we'll starve 'em out if we have to. And when we do, those scrawny bastards are gonna pay.
Anything I should know about the building before I head inside?
So, what, religious preachers during the day and gangs blasting each other at night? No wonder that AI's all murderous, with upstairs neighbors like this we'd probably feel like cracking a skull or two after a while too.
Why'd you keep them around at all, then?
Because a lot of them are rich. They paid a drekload in rent, and we redistributed that wealth to the common man.
Let me guess: you define yourselves as the "common man."
Do you see a tie around my neck, pal? Do I look like a corporate stooge to you? We are the friends of the People. And we *are* the People. Don't you dare to question it.
Guessing the guns and threats of violence go a long way in helping potential doubters see the wisdom in the People's wealth redistribution policies. Whatever, play at what you like as long as it doesn't obstruct our job here. And speaking of which...
Just one more thing. I need to get into the basement. Anything you can do that'd help me out?
Basement? What could you possibly want to go down there for?
You wouldn't believe me if I told you.
You'd be surprised what I'll believe. Try me.
All right. I need to stop a killer AI so that I can rescue an elderly scientist from a ghost-dragon. The future of Berlin could be at stake.
You're right. I don't believe you. You're either lying, or you're crazy. But crazy has its uses. All right, I'll get you into that basement. But it'll cost you.
Yeah. Of course it will.
Another bush-league extortionist, tryin' to milk us for cash.
You've got the wrong idea. I don't need nuyen, friend. What I need is Trithemius' head on a fucking platter.
So in the end we're to wipe out the whole bunch after all. If your People were so easily outsmarted and beaten that you can't recover without an outsider doing literally all the dirty work for you, maybe you just weren't really fit to run the place to begin with.
Problem is, he's holed up somewhere in the building, and we don't know where. Best guess? He's hiding somewhere upstairs, in a room with no exterior windows.
[He cracks a grin.] Then, I give you the control chip that I pulled when we had to fall back. Slot them both back into the elevator, and it'll take you straight to the basement.
All right, I'll see what I can do.
If we had the Gang etiquette we could negotiate a better deal:
(Gang) This deal's coming out all in your favor. If I'm going to hand your entire territory back, you'll have to sweeten the pot.
[He shrugs.] Well, you've got a point there. Tell you what. Like I said, we had a bunch of weapons stashed in the basement before the Magnifikers showed up. You take care of Trithemius, I'll let you have your pick of the armory. Whatever piece of hardware you want.
That's more like it. One dead mage, coming right up.
Good. Just remember - no amulet, no basement. Now go on through, and show that little prick what it means to screw with the Arbeiters.
What a chatty guy. It doesn't especially matter to us who gets to plant their flag on this particular pile of debris, but let's play along for now and see where we end up.
Hard to imagine a rickety place like this would hide a secret Saeder-Krupp lab, but then maybe that's the point. Couple people hanging behind counters here, some stairs in the back too.
Let's start from the dwarven chap to the south.
Welcome to the Hub, sister. Are you here to share in the splendor of Communion? If so, I can show you to an empty terminal.
This already has all the hallmarks of a highly tiresome conversation.
What do you do here?
I am the custodian of the Hub. I tend to the bodies of our brothers and sisters while they share in the rapture of Communion.
I might be interested. Tell me more.
Really, of all the possible places in Germany this here is where you decided to set up some kinda Matrix cult? You run a paintball club in the local bear enclosure on the side too?
Race. Gender. Social class. All of the artificial barriers to empathy that we've constructed as a culture. Communion strips them all away. It is a monument to the great truth that so many of us deny: that we are all the same at the core.
Imagine it, friend. Dozens of individual minds, all tied together into a single, cohesive whole. Sharing in a collective subconscious, connected through the Hub.
[Parson raises his hands in supplication.]
Join with us, and feel your limitations fall away.
You and your... congregation need to stop. There's a killer AI on the loose in this building.
[His benevolent smile doesn't falter.] You are quite mistaken. The Hub is a place of peace. We are in no danger here.
Oh okay well since Herr Parson says it's safe, who are we to doubt him?
Then sure, I'm game. Where do I jack in?
Wonderful! You may use any available terminal in the other room. Now, if we may discuss your donatio--
Ah come on Dietrich, sometimes you gotta play along a bit to get to the good stu... hm?
[All at once, Parson's face goes blank. The benevolent smile dies away, and he begins to speak in a monotone.]
The Hub is currently closed for routine maintenance. Please come back again later.
...Parson? Are you okay?
Right... Getting the hunch there might be more connections in play here than just between the brain stems of the local faithful. Best not let our guard down.
I have some questions for you about the local gang activity.
[He nods.] We do seem to have more than our fair share. Very well, I will answer your questions.
Should I be worried about the gang war that seems to be gearing up around us?
While you remain in the Hub, you have nothing to fear. We pay well for the use of this place, and neither gang would risk driving us away.
And the rest of the building...?
[He spreads his hands.] If you choose to go exploring, I can't guarantee your safety.
That's perfectly alright, there's actually a certain kind of safety in good old-fashioned gang turf we're not really feeling down here.
What can you tell me about the Arbeiters?
[He lets out a heavy sigh.] A pack of snarling animals dressed up as a policlub. I'd steer clear of them if I were you.
If you came from outside, you've probably bumped into their leader. A huge ork who calls himself "Ullrich." He can seem reasonable, but I'd give him a wide berth.
This all about matches our own impression, this guy is definitely sharper than he seems.
One more note: if I were you, I'd avoid being seen with the Magnifikers. The Arbeiters take shots at members of the mage gang whenever they see them. If you're not careful, you could find yourself caught in the crossfire.
I need to know more about the Magnifikers.
Power-drunk fools, the lot of them. The Arbeiters were bad enough, but the Magnifikers are even worse. The Arbeiters' interests were limited to theft and violence in the name of their "cause." The Magnifikers... they have power, and they seem to relish in abusing it.
You're safe down here, though?
Yes. Trithemius needs the Hub. To threaten this congregation would be to jeopardize his primary source of income. But the upper floors enjoy no such protection. They have become dangerous places to travel.
I'm looking for Trithemius, actually. Any idea how I could find him?
[The smile fades from his face.] Trithemius is a dangerous man... why do you ask?
I have business with him. Private business.
[Parson studies your face for a moment, then nods.]
Fair enough. Trithemius is almost certainly upstairs, hidden away from the outside world. I wouldn't advise going after him, but if your mind is made up, I suppose that I can't change it. Yes, I can tell you how to find him. But I will need something from you in return.
Yeah, of course you will. Saw that coming.
Tell us what you need.
I believe that I know the squatters responsible. Their leader's name is Janet. She is a decker of some skill. I don't know what she has planned for my parts, but I do know that this situation will not stand. I cannot allow another terminal to be damaged.
And so you want us to... "deal with them" for you?
Yes. But not with violence. I want you to talk with them and convince them to bring me back my components. Do this, and I'll tell you how to get to Trithemius. Deal?
This chain of errands is starting to get a bit longer than we'd prefer. Guess talking is a lot less effort then shooting at least.
Sounds straightforward enough.
Excellent. It's a deal, then!
Can you tell me anything about this building itself?
Beyond the Hub, there isn't much to speak of. There's a small shop down the hall if you're hungry, or in need of basic supplies.
[He shrugs and offers you an apologetic smile.]
And that's about it, I'm afraid.
What about the upper levels?
There are floors above us, of course. But you're unlikely to find anything of value up there... just the domiciles of the faithful, and the Magnifikers who have taken charge of the building. I would steer clear of them, if I were you.
We need to get down to the basement.
Ah. That would be difficult. The stairway leading down to the building's sublevels has been blocked. And the elevator has been sabotaged... it stopped working at the same time that the Arbeiters were driven from the building.
If only we'd had the foresight to bring a few sticks of dynamite. Would solve a lot of the various problems we tend to face, really.
As we discussed, if you recover my stolen property, I will tell you how to find Trithemius. Otherwise, you could try your luck with Ullrich out front... but I wouldn't recommend it.
I don't need anything else, thanks.
[He inclines his head.] Come back anytime.
Before moving on, we take a quick peek at this sacred "Hub" of theirs which looks less like a church and more like the world's most depressing LAN party, and that's really saying something. Wonder if all the bloodstains are from before or after they moved in.
Across from Parson's Party Pals is the small store he mentioned, ought to investigate here too.
Welcome to Karl's General Store. What can I do for ya?
I need some info.
[He rubs his eyes and does his best to shake himself awake.]
Yeah. A'ight. Whaddaya want to know?
What's the layout of this place like?
[He pauses for a moment, gathering his thoughts. When the words come, they're slow as molasses.]
Well... You're on the first floor. That's the Hub... and my shop. The... uh... the second floor has mostly been converted into makeshift apartments for people to live in. A gang squats up there. The Magnifikers. Dangerous people - I'd stay away from 'em.
The third floor is mostly housing, too. Lots of Parson's Communion-crazies live up there. The Magnifikers have a squat up there, too.
[He leans in and lowers his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.]
I'm pretty sure their main crib is up there, too. Don't know exactly where.
What do you know about the Magnifikers?
They don't care 'bout much, aside from their own magic. Whole world's one big magical pissin' contest to them... always tryin' to summon bigger an' better spirits. Dangerous stuff, man.
Must be tough, having to live down here with all that goin' on over your head.
Sounds like they know how to live it up. Well, aside from the part with the terrorizing and killing, you gotta find the right time and place for that kinda stuff.
What do you know about the Arbeiters?
Bunch of tough guys. They took a big cut of my sales in protection money... all in the name of "the working class." Funny. Last time I checked, *I* was one of the working class. In fact, I'm the only one who's *working* in this whole damned building.
[He spreads his arms, a helpeless look on his face.]
But at least they kept some form of law. Mugging and assaults were rare, and they didn't let murderous spirits run loose on the upper floors. So, you know. You take the good with the bad.
That's all the info I need for now.
Okay. So, like... you wanna buy something?
Let me see what you have.
Karl's inventory consists of a variety of consumables we already have plenty of, but we pick up some cheap and miraculously non-addictive variety of Cram for the road in case someone will need a boost sometime.
Walking down the hall towards the stairs at the end, we pause to inspect the unresponsive elevator keeping us from our goal.
Any chance at all we could get this thing running without having to get involved in all this gang junk?
Figures. The hard way it is.
No going this way, not that we have much interest in wandering around any more than we need to anyway.
Let's start from the second floor and see if can't find Parson's saboteur.
As something of a filthy hallway connoisseur, we'll give this one a solid 6.5 out of 10. Color palette's real dreary but at least the graffiti and fancy-looking windows serve to give it some character.
Might as well start from the nearest door and see what happens.
This really doesn't even warrant a reaction at this point. Let's just get on with it.
They always say you should take out the casters first, but what if they're all casters?
Well, one option is to have half of 'em fight for you instead. Is having two sources of Confusion unfair? Probably. Do we have a reason to feel bad about it? Not really. We have places to be.
Dietrich fixes our armor and does his usual boosting while Glory goes after the conjurer. He in turn summons an Inferno spirit which doesn't only knock our razor medic around pretty good, but even has the spare AP to hit us with Heatwave which reduces the accuracy of everyone in the target area by 10%.
As a side note, a spirit summoned by a confused conjurer would still be hostile to us.
Meanwhile the mages (one of which the Healer kindly boosted the aim of) engage in literal friendly fire, though not to any great impact.
The conjurer gets the honor of being the first test subject of Glory's murdercannon, and presumably finds its performance in tearing him to bits entirely within expectations.
While a fairly inaccurate weapon wielded by a medium firearms user, Glory's natural close-range focus compensates for a lot, making this kind of maneuver of rushing into melee followed by shredding people with the minigun from point-blank range quite effective.
Mechanically the minigun's attack options are "a lot of bullets" and "a shitload of bullets". Both require 2 AP which likewise works well with Glory's usual 4 AP.
The Healer just barely survives her own double serving of bullets, but only until Blitz flushes her out of cover and finishes her off.
With the remaining two mages still gripped by confusion, we have all the time in the world to thank them for their valuable service and distribute to them their well-deserved severance packages.
Afterwards we make sure to collect their amulets to cash in with Ullrich later.
Baubles of the dead aside the room is devoid of anything valuable or interesting, though a small adjacent space contains a pair of spellbooks for Powerbolt III and Glue. Amateur-level stuff, but we can sell 'em off later.
Back in the hallway, we next investigate the closed door on the other side.
Also we're finished with the fight, Glory. You can put the minigun away now.
We could have Blitz bypass this lock, but it'd definitely be more polite to see if someone's home first.
Uh oh. Alright brain, give us your best here!
(Charisma 6) Hey, I'm a pizza delivery lady. I ended up with a few extra pizzas, and I thought you'd want one. No charge!
...We'll take it.
Guessing we've found Parson's troublemakers, though it's a small wonder they've survived this long if that's all it takes to trick them into opening their doors.
Pizza! Weren't you listening?
[Her lip curls into a derisive sneer.] Yeah, I heard you the first time. And I suppose you're sellin' those fancy new *invisible* pizzas, huh?
[She gestures with her rifle.]
Cut the shit and start talking. What do you want, and why are you here?
Parson sent me. He wants his hardware back.
We have a few options here which include convincing her to give us the part with Charisma or Strength or simply by starting a fight, but let's try to play it smart.
(Intelligence 3) Look, those parts can't be irreplaceable. Let me take a look at your terminal. Maybe we can figure something out?
All right, the terminal's in the back room. Go take a look. But if you try to rip us off, you're gonna regret it.
Very cute, thinking you're even remotely capable of qualifying for a spot on our list of regrets. At least get a portrait first and maybe then we'll consider looking at your application.
The terminal in question is located in the back of the apartment, next to some wall art altogether too cheerful for its surroundings.
We could just take this stuff, but let's see if we can't figure out something that'll get us what we need without screwing over the people here.
With Decking 8 we could straight up reprogram the transmitter and render the parts (or part, they can't make up their mind on whether it's singular or plural) unnecessary, but we can't use Blitz for that one.
(Intelligence 5) Perhaps a more common part could be modified.
Considering how things have progressed so far, we're probably going to have to go search for this thing too. Might as well report back to Janet first though.
[She eyes you warily.] So... what did you find?
Looks like the part that you "borrowed" from Parson is acting as your datajack signal converter. I think that we can cobble you a replacement, but we'll need a signal regulator to modify... and you don't seem to have any spares on hand.
[Her eyes widen.] You could do that? Jury-rig one for us? That'd be amazing!
Don't get too excited. We still need the part.
All right, I'll see what I can find.
A brief return trip later we enter Karl's shop to look for the regulator (Parson can't be asked for one) but while there, something interesting catches our eye. The picture on his wall we didn't really pay attention to earlier actually depicts a rather familiar face. Could it be that Janet has a secret admirer?
[He rubs his bloodshot eyes.]
I'm looking for a datajack impulse transmitter.
I've got what you need.
[He looks you up and down, his eyes lingering on the gear you're carrying.]
...One thousand nuyen. No less.
Can't say we know the exact value of one of these things, but we're pretty good at telling when someone's trying to screw us.
A thousand? Can't you cut me a deal?
[He looks baffled.] Why would I do that?
Because you like me?
Not that much, I don't.
Pff. With Charisma 4 we could negotiate the price down to five hundred, and with Street etiquette we could convince him to give it to us for free for the good of the community. We're not streetwise enough for that, but there's one more angle we can try.
Because you like that hacker, Janet.
[His neck flushes red.] Huh? What are you talking about?
C'mon, man, her photo is hanging right behind you. Y'know, it'd be a real shame if something happened to her...
Happened to her? What could happen to her? What do you mean?
[His bloodshot eyes go wide.]
Are you threatening Janet?
Think of it more like a friendly warning.
Warning? About what?
This is a dangerous situation. She won't hand over the parts if it takes her terminal offline. That could get her hurt. Or worse.
Why, doing anything to his dear Janet was never our plan, no idea at all where he got such a ghastly idea from. We will happily accept his generous present though, very kind of the man.
Back on the second floor once more, and a little bit of fiddling around later...
Alright, now to return this to Parson so that he can give us the location of Trithemius so that we can take his amulet so that we can bring it back to Ullrich so that he'll give us the elevator part and we can get started on what we actually came here to do.
Good news lady, the local problem-solving fairy has come and miraculously swept your problems away with zero effort from your part.
All fixed up! Everybody wins. You got your terminal, and I've got my parts!
[You see the tension drain out of her.]
Thank you, I'm glad this could end without bloodshed. There's been enough of that around here recently.
Yeah. Sure looks that way.
Instead of needlessly wearing out the stairs by traipsing back and forth, let's just finish looking around on this floor before returning to Parson. While approaching the next door and mentally preparing our face for another wave of magical pain, we also note the presence of some squatters in the southern apartment.
To the delight of both us and what few nose hairs we have left, this one turns out to be completely empty of occupants.
Digging through some filthy drawers nets us ¥29, unquestionably leaving us on the losing side of that particular exchange.
The walls are covered in all kinds of drawings and scribbles indicating that these are the Communion domiciles Parson mentioned. We find no spiritual enlightenment here, but we do grab some Bliss from the nearby dresser.
The rest of the place contains nothing of value, though three guesses whether this last one would've been the correct password for Janet and her crew's hideout.
The doors to the last remaining apartment aren't locked and the occupants don't appear hostile either, so we let ourselves in and strike up a conversation with a nearby human man.
Rosa. And you are?
My name is Franz. These are my friends, and my wife. We live together... Well, we *used* to live together, up on the third floor.
You used to live upstairs?
Yes, until about a week ago. Then the Magnifikers' pets moved in, and we had to run for our lives.
Spirits, you mean.
[He nods, a look of pure misery on his face.] They're always summoning the damned things, but last week they lost control of a handful. Before we knew what was happening, they were running wild in our living room!
[Franz takes a moment to collect himself. When he speaks again, he sounds more composed.]
At least Janet is letting us use her Matrix uplink. We can still afford to feed ourselves, thanks to her.
If there are uncontrolled spirits loose up there, someone needs to deal with them. Might as well be us.
We're going up there anyway and it's not like we're going to leave any doors unopened like a smart person, we all know it's going to end up being us whether we volunteer or not.
[His face lights up in excitement.] Oh, thank you, thank you! Please let us know when it's safe to return home.
As a side note, had we not already gained access to Janet's place then Franz would offer the password in trade for the task (yes the same password written on that note next door) and we could ask him to part with his savings for his wife too. He'd also give us his take on the Communion:
Do you know anything about the hackers over by the stairs?
Janet, you mean? Of course we know her. She and her bitheads control the only Matrix hookup in this dump. Thankfully, she allows us to use her uplink. It's only by her generosity that we've been able to provide for ourselves at all. And she's kept us from having to rely on Parson and his wacko religion, thank God.
[He leans toward you and lowers his voice.]
By the way, friend... you don't want to plug in with those Communion drones. I've seen it too many times. People jack into the Hub, and when they come back out, they're... different. It's creepy, and it's wrong.
Different? What do you mean different?
Maybe "detached" is a better word? I've seen all kinds of people jack into the Hub, but only one type comes back out. Quiet. Subdued. Disinterested in anything other than their beloved "Communion."
I don't know what happens to them in there. But they're somehow less... I don't know, less *alive* when they come back out. It makes my skin crawl.
Do you know where the Magnifiker hideout is?
Can't help you there. We used to see a lot of the Magnifikers up on the third floor, but I never wanted to get too close to them. You wanna know where their hideout is, I'd ask Parson, or maybe step outside to ask Ullrich. Not that you're likely to get far with either of those nutcases.
We're all done here, so we're going to go and do just that.
As a final note, we could tell Franz that upstairs is safe at any time, whether we've actually cleared the spirits or not.
Before wrapping up for today, let's reunite Parson with his precious parts.
Welcome to the Hub, sister.
I've recovered the parts for your terminal.
Aah. Excellent, my sister. Let me see them, if you please.
[As suddenly as it disappeared, the smile returns.]
Yes. These are the parts that I need. Thank you, friend. I trust that there was no trouble? That you were able to attain them without bloodshed?
Of course. We never spill blood when we don't have to.
But plenty of it when we do! And in case you're wondering, our crewmate would say the exact same thing even if we'd taken the parts by force.
[His face lights up.] Oh, that is wonderful news. Truly, truly wonderful! And now, I have my end of the deal to uphold.
There's an old bookcase in the very back of the apartment. Under the second shelf from the bottom, you'll find a button that opens the door to Trithemius' hideout.
How do you know all of this?
Because that abandoned apartment was once mine. In the days before I discovered the peace of Communion, I was a very different man. I had need of such contrivances.
[His smile widens.]
But not anymore. Finally, I am at peace.
That's all we need, thanks.
Today sure has been a very productive day, though mostly for the benefit of people other than ourselves. Next time we'll find out what fun surprises the third floor has for us, one of them hopefully including a way into the basement.
Just a couple of brief dialogue highlights today. Trolls are able to easily convince Ullrich to stand down:
Best step back and stand down before you get hurt.
[His lips curl into a disdainful sneer.] You sure you wanna go down this road, friend? We've got you outgunned, and we're in no mood to be screwed with.
(Troll) Who said anything about guns? Back down, or I'll break you in half, little ork.
[The ork looks you up and down, and you can see the uncertainty gnawing at him. When he speaks again, the swagger has disappeared from his voice.]
Take it easy, friend. I'm not gonna draw on you. You just... you just caught me at a bad time.
One can also attempt to intimidate Parson into revealing Trithemius' location without having to do his fetch quest, though it doesn't work:
I want you to talk with them and convince them to bring me back my components. Do this, and I'll tell you how to get to Trithemius. Deal?
I have a better idea. Why don't you just tell me what I want to know, and then there won't be any need for violence.
I cannot accept this diminishment of the Communion. I believe you were meant to bring us back together, and it will be so!
I need that information, and I need it now. Unless you want to see some real violence, tell me what I want - now.
[He chuckles softly to himself.] Killing me will only allow me to join forever with the Communion, and you will have destroyed the only source of the information you require. Get me my parts, and you'll have your information.
Lastly, while there's no practical difference between them, there's a variety of snarky responses one can give to Janet depending on how her door was opened. For example:
Who the hell are you? And how did you get through the door?
I used my charm and natural musk. Gets 'em every time.
Who the hell are you? And how did you get the password?
I just guessed. "Shark Tank" was my mother's maiden name.