Part 78: High-Intensity Lab WorkPart 78 - High-Intensity Lab Work
We've successfully made our way into the laboratory below Harfeld Manor and learned about the existence of the Panacea project which sounds like it could make for the real bad kind of viral sensation. Vauclair must be found, and for that to happen we'll have to keep heading deeper in.
The keycard we looted off of the guard gets us through the door and into the part of the facility we haven't set foot in before.
The first thing that greets us on the other side is a pair of fancy sentry guns, but the sudden disappearance of their AI daddy has left them paralyzed and incapable of making decisions for themselves.
The meatier parts of the defenses weren't chained to such a codependent relationship and remain functional, but realistically they're going to have bring in bigger numbers than this to at least have a shot at stopping us.
There really are no surprise twists in this particular story, so we'll just skip to the end credits, rate it two stars, and move on.
Of the three doorways in the room, we first take the one to the left and find ourselves in a small space with a computer terminal.
This is where not bringing Blitz matters for the first time as this terminal is in fact completely inaccessible without a decker, no guessing or finding the credentials written on a misplaced note or anything like that.
Now while there's nothing that important contained in this particular terminal, the goal is to show off everything and also there's no real logical reason why Blitz wouldn't have joined this run beyond the arbitrary party member limit, so it seems justified to bypass the nerd requirement here.
Taking our hacking to a different level gives us access to three brief emails.
I know you need to pass through multiple checkpoints to get outside for your smoke break, but that's no reason to break protocol and smoke in the lab. The material that we are working with is dangerous, and your laziness is putting people at risk.
Please don't let it happen again.
Please stop asking me where my work has taken me. You know I can't tell you that - I made it clear when we parted at the train station last year. Security on this project is very tight, and all of our outgoing email is being scanned. Although we have been quite busy recently, I believe we are nearing a breaking point, and I can come home to you and Felix soon.
All my love,
Again, excellent work on the venting system. Everyone is very pleased with your performance. It seems like only yesterday that you were one of my interns, and here you are - a newly-appointed department head!
Beyond everything that I told you earlier, you also have access to the guards' storeroom in your section. Use access code 1247 in case of an emergency. That's for Level 4 Personnel and above, though, so keep it to yourself.
With a new code in hand, we investigate the east doorway next and there we face more delicate machinery that filthy non-deckers aren't allowed to touch. There's a safe and a security terminal here, but access to both is locked by the jack-in point which we obviously can't do anything with.
Basically what we could do here with a decker is to gain access to the floor's cameras, and also to obtain the control device for some drones we could then use to either 1.) fight for us or 2.) to gain access to some extra loot a bit later. As these are purely mechanical advantages which aren't of much interest to us, we'll just move on.
Past the security room we find the storage area we acquired the code for earlier.
Within we pick up a Premium Medkit and a Gold Trauma Kit we don't have space for and which both get sent to the great stash in the sky, never to be seen again.
The two doors here as well as the one we passed earlier all connect to the same central room where a somewhat more serious lineup of guards are prepared to try their luck.
Our positioning doesn't quite allow us to take over the fight immediately this time, though we do at least manage to torch the grenadier before passing on the turn.
Our comparatively slow start results in the guards actually getting some decent work done, nailing us with a couple of frag grenades and some pistol fire. Even these guys weren't given the budget for top-tier weaponry though, so the damage is pretty manageable.
Our second turn is a lot more effective than the first, with Glory clawing everyone out of cover in turn and Eiger getting a pretty nice double kill with a high-spread Wide Load shot from her Enfield AS-7. Hasn't been a lot of shotgun action going on since she got her fancy assault rifle, so it's nice to get to bust it out every now and then.
Without their cover and with all our AP dedicated to killing work instead of positioning, the two remaining guards fall later on the same turn.
Another room, another computer terminal. This one's glitched out exactly the same as the one in the main lab, so a simple press of a key grants us automatic admin access.
Another set of private communications for us to dig through like the dirt-caked privacy mole we are.
We need to organize an all-staff meeting to discuss lab safety. Everyone is overworked and overstressed, and that's a perfect recipe for workplace accidents. I am telling you, we *cannot* afford any more accidents.
The loss of van Wijk has been hard on everybody. He was well liked, and watching him die in such a horrible fashion has been hard on morale.
The staff is still committed to the cause... they all know what they signed up for, and they know how important this is. But losing such a good man because of such basic lapses in lab safety has been a difficult pill to swallow.
I am writing this to request additional security for the animal testing lab. You know how large and vicious these creatures can be... without more trained handlers on staff, we're just begging for another accident. You remember what happened to van Wijk.
I'd also like to repeat my request that the animals be defanged, declawed, and muzzled, preferably someplace far away from the lab. Our having to use them is unavoidable due to their genetic similarity to our targets, but that doesn't mean that we can't take precautions.
I just wanted to thank you for pushing to bring the new hermetic lab online. It's good to know that you're listening to our requests.
The research that the hermetic researchers have been doing should make our work with the Panacea much more manageable.
Sounds like the workplace security is leaving something to be desired in this place, which is maybe a little concerning considering the kind of stuff they're working on here.
The next area of interest contains more inactive sentry guns and a treasure trove of loot behind a wall we can see through but which has no actual entrance. This is where we could deploy a drone to self-destruct and make our own door had we gotten the control device from the safe earlier, but as it is we'll have to make do with window shopping.
The contents of the room would include a Fireball II spell, a Ruger Super Warhawk pistol, a Smartlink SCK Model 100 SMG, a pair of HE Phosphorus Grenades and a Renraku Flashbang Grenade. Renraku Flashbangs deal 3 AP damage which is obviously very strong, but we can barely throw things far enough not to hit our own toes and you can't give looted items to party members (unless the item is looted directly with a party member while in combat mode) so in practice nothing here is worth anything to us anyway.
We do miss out on a couple of Karma points but again, at this point it just doesn't really matter much since we're largely done with skill advancement too.
Otherwise the only noteworthy thing about this room is that it has two doors leading forward, the heavily guarded double doors in the center and a small unguarded side entrance which seems to somewhat undermine the purpose of that first one.
Obviously between these two we'll be taking the side door. Nobody ever watches the side doors.
...Guess even in the final dungeon it's not too late to continue learning new and painful life lessons.
You people just don't know when to give up and accept that some paychecks just aren't worth it, do you.
We could do all this with dialogue checks, you know, talk it out and be on our way. Seeing as none of you resembles either a doctor or a dragon, we really don't have much interest in wasting time on this.
The room ahead turns out to be more crowded than it initially seemed. We took a couple of knocks entering from the side here, but most of the heat was focused on the main doors as expected.
Please respect our personal space, Mr. Enforcer. If that is indeed your real name.
If Medium Leylines make Lightning Ball extra zappy, a Heavy one like this tripling the AP damage from 1 to 3 is downright unfair. And this one even comes with cover, we're really getting spoiled here.
One swiftly confused Vanguard Mercenary shows up from some corner of the room or other, making the total enemy count in this room an impressive 9 guards. Bringing in drone assistance to this fight can definitely be helpful, especially if one enters from the front.
Heavy Leylines reduce spell cooldowns on top of other bonuses which turns "fire at will" from a command to more of a lifestyle.
Dietrich then adds his own flavor of electricity into the lightning cocktail which by now is strong enough to have left barely anyone standing.
Glory takes care of the other Vanguard and we're left surrounded by a bunch of sleepyheads and one turncoat. This is pretty much in the bag, the kind that comes person-sized and with a zipper.
One of the mages actually manages to recover, only to get stunned again by the Vanguard's flashbang. Some days just don't give you a break, we've all been there.
We make sure to return the favor before he realizes what he's doing. You know you're living that decadent Heavy Leyline life when even your basic Powerbolt crits for 37 damage like it was Big Shit Magic.
Uncharacteristically we had two mages left standing, or at least wobbling unsteadily, in the end, but they fail to magic themselves out of the way of our bullets and the way ahead is once again clear.
We've left quite a mess in our wake, but we'll get as messy as it takes to put an end to this nonsense. Nothing to it but to keep going, and hope that maybe these unassuming blast doors will finally be the ones hiding our long sought answers.