Part 82: The Friends We KnowPart 82 - The Friends We Know
The thread has voted on the imprisoned dragon's fate, and while the voice of the people condemned APEX to deletion, the Firewing was found far more sympathetic and has been deemed worthy of freedom by an overwhelming majority, 38 votes for freeing her versus 3 for both killing her and leaving her here. And so it will be.
Will you finish it, little human? Will you end Feuerschwinge?
No, Feuerschwinge. A forever task requires patience. And faith. The next world could be better.
I have been ripped from my body little human. Imprisoned in this girl, imprisoned in this cage. Tortured longer than the span of your entire lifetime. And I have been defiled. The green is defiled. Spoiled. There is no forever for me. Forever is dead.
I do not want to sleep the long sleep. I want oblivion. End me, little human.
The green needs you, Feuerschwinge. You are her shelter, her shield, her shepherd. Dont abandon her.
I cannot abandon what does not exist. The green is gone. The cold has won.
Look, the whole burning countless people alive in a violent rampage deal? Not cool. But we do kinda get it now, you'd only just woken up to the scene of your living room having been trashed and your beloved pets driven out by weird monkeys who by the looks of things had been throwing a frat party in there every weekend for the last thousand years or so. That'd make anyone a little irrational.
We fucked things up and the smell ain't gonna come off the walls of that living room anytime soon, probably shouldn't look in the kitchen either to be honest, but the house itself is still standing, yeah? Some rooms remain behind lock and key, and despite our best efforts, our monkey brains still haven't figured out how to get in there to make a mess of what's left. That backyard garden still exists too, no one's dared to piss off the guard dog yet.
No. The cold hasnt won. Dont forget the elves. They still tend the green.
[Her brow furrows and her head of stringy hair inclines.]
Yes. Look at Tír na nÓg... Tir Tairngire. Elven cities devoted to the green. To keeping it safe.
[Her eyes widen as the memories return.]
They would build walls around it as before.
And the green still lives in Amazonia. Its *covered* in jungle.
I hear that a feathered serpent rules it.
Mujaji has awakened? It must be she.
Nothing is over, dragon.
[She holds her head in her hands.]
Nothing is over?
You are Feuerschwinge. While you live, the green will live.
While the green still lives, the task remains. Until the last world ends.
[The vessel holding the dragon lifts her face to a sky she cannot see. ]
Perhaps it is not too late. Sleep sleep would bring healing. My nest
Yeah... probably not gonna be there to see it for ourselves, but here's hoping you'll get to wake up to something a little better than whatever the hell all this is.
Well, that's a thing we just did. Good thing it's nighttime, a dragon taking off from Harfeld would probably raise a bit of a ruckus in town.
My head tells me we released a dragon, but I can't help feelin' that we did the right thing.
I'm surprised to hear you say that. The Firewing wasn't just any dragon.
She was a Great Dragon, Dietrich. An *insane* Great Dragon. Lord knows what she's going to do now.
It'll be fine. My gut tells me that she's gonna disappear. Find a nice, cozy place to sleep off this age of the world, and try again next time.
Let's hope your gut is right.
[She turns to you.]
There's nothing more for us here. Let's get back home.
Another possible version of this exchange with Blitz present:
Do you know what we just did, chief? We released an insane Great Dragon into the wild. And not just any Great Dragon... a *legendary* Great Dragon. The Firewing. We set her loose like a caged bird.
I dont know, Rosa. Blitz may have a point. Im not sure I wouldve made the same call.
No, Eiger. That's not my point at all. What Rosa just did was *epic.*
[Blitz turns to you, and he cracks a wide grin.]
That was a badass play, chief. Ten points for style, no question about it.
[Dietrich smiles wryly.]
Well, then I *know* that we did the right thing. Come on, boss... let's get out of here.
We could certainly just leave, but there was a perfectly fine self-destruct switch on this console and we can probably all agree that it'd be a sin to let it go to waste like that. Whether a Great Dragon or a button that goes boom, all must be granted a chance to fulfill their purpose in this world.
That settles that! C'mon, boss, let's get the hell out of here!
Right behind you.
Farewell, Harfeld, our only regret is that we never ended up getting our hands on that vase after all. Oh well, at least we get to walk away from a scene of everything blowing up behind us, always a sign of either a catastrophically bad or an extremely good end for a run. We certainly know which one to file this one under.
Time to go home.
Against all odds, we've come out on the other side of this incredible mess still standing and still breathing. If only everyone else could've been so lucky as well.
I think weve had enough Wyrm Talk for one lifetime.
You got that right. If I never have to talk to another dragon again, it'll be too soon.
[She shakes her had.]
This whole thing has been a nightmare from the beginning.
Still, there are no simple jobs. Ever. Thats part of the gig.
Rosa is right. A good runner knows that the run she's on is never what it seems. Were deniable assets to our employers. Disposable goods. It's on us to succeed in spite of that.
And honestly, thats fine with me. A soldier knows how take orders and get the job done, without worrying about the big picture. Leave that kind of thing for the generals. Show me the hill, and Ill figure out how to take it.
Heh, many would probably say witnessing things like we have would change anybody's world view at least a little bit. They haven't met Eiger though, ever as unmoving as her namesake mountain.
Thats what they want. Thats what they need. The corps. The dragons. The politicians. Everyone. They want us to think that we cant make a difference. They put effort - a lot of effort - into making us feel small. Insignificant.
But were not. We had the power in our hands today. We had a choice and we made it. And because of that, the world is different.
For good, or for ill.
Thats right. For good or ill. We cant see the future. I dont think that anyone can. But the world is different now, and were the ones who changed it.
Ironically we did so by preventing change on a more dramatic scale. How very moderate of us.
So did we... y'know.. did we win?
Ill tell you what we did, we avenged Monika. And Paul. That was what we set out to do, and we did it. And Berlin is still standing too, isnt it? Id count that as a win.
So now what? Monikas gone. Pauls gone. Do we keep running together, or is this the end of the road?
I have some personal business to attend to. There's a man that I need to find... a vicious, repulsive monster who needs to be brought to justice. Rosa knows what I'm talking about.
Right, Harrow. In the end we let him escape in exchange for those brainwashed kids' lives, purified the spirit instead of killing it. We do stand behind that choice, but it was always going to be the path on which Glory was unlikely to find the immediate closure she was looking for.
This really sucks, but it's not our place to try and dissuade her from doing what she needs to do. Gonna be hard to find another minigun-wielding medic in this economy though.
Well be here, Glory. Therell always a spot for you on my team.
[She nods.] Understood. I'll see you around.
I'll miss you, love. Be safe.
[Dietrich turns to you.]
...I thought I had something going there. Whatever. The point is, Im in.
That was beautiful, man.
You'd damn well better stay you bald bastard, where would this team even be without its punk dad cracking both jokes and skulls while keeping us whippersnappers in line, huh? You're pretty much the light and soul of this crew, and this business being what it is, without those even the best of squads can find themselves drifting towards some pretty dark roads.
Eiger. It's kind of funny that after such a rocky start, and despite some of our philosophical differences, our bond of trust is maybe stronger than anyone's here and we'll always have each other's backs without question or hesitation. We definitely haven't forgotten that time you saved us from getting ventilated on that train either. Just, one thing...
Depends. Are we done with that fearless leader crap?
All done. Were good, Rosa. Tight. Anyone else tries that crap on you, Ill put his head out from five klicks away.
Five klicks, huh? Not bad.
[She smiles.] In a high wind. Guaranteed.
[Eiger looks around. Realizes that she forgot Blitz.]
What about you, Blitz?
About love, and about life.
Ah, Blitz. Not gonna lie, for a long time you came across as little more than a walking disaster with a serious ego problem. And... well, that assessment wasn't entirely wrong, but there's no denying that you're also one of the absolute best deckers we've ever met and, at the end of the day, you've always stood right there with us even against some pretty gnarly odds. Much of it in a war that wasn't really yours to begin with.
Plus having a walking chaos nexus in the house does a great job keeping the rest us from getting too complacent.
No contest. Im in.
Dante humped your leg?
I dont wanna talk about it. Its still too fresh.
[Eiger snorts a laugh. Then shes back to business.]
Altuğ, huh. There's one person who's lost even more than us in this whole mess. Wonder how the man's holding up.
Thanks. Im going to see whats going on in the Kreuzbasar. Ill stop by the coffee shop on my way.
We've now arrived to the final crew talking tour, one more round of chats with everyone to bring a long and proud and very wordy tradition to its conclusion.
We always started from Blitz, and we'll do that here as well.
Heyya, chief. That was a hell of a thing, wasn't it?
Yeah, it was. I'm glad to hear that you'll be staying on with the team.
[He puts on a lazy smile.] Couldn't keep me away.
Yeah? Good to hear everything worked out on that front, but uh...
Blitz... I don't want to offend you. But I've really, truly heard enough about your love life.
[He chuckles.] All right, chief. No more relationship talk. Go on, get out of here. If you need me later, you know where to find me.
Sure. Oh, and Blitz... you've done a great job all around.
Thanks, chief. You too.
Dietrich's up next.
Well, boss, we went up against a dragon and lived.
[He pulls a flask from his jacket and raises it in salute.]
I guess that's a win in my book.
Couldn't have put it better myself.
Glad we ultimately avoided an actual physical confrontation with an actual physical dragon though, no matter how on brand it would've been for that totem of yours.
So... any big plans looming on the horizon? New clients you're thinkin' of goin' after, maybe...?
Not now, Dietrich. If there's one thing I don't want to think about tonight, it's work.
[He takes a swig from the flask.]
You're right, boss. 'Course you're right. Oh, and Rosa... I meant what I said earlier. From this point on, wherever this team goes, I'll follow.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Sadly we can't talk to Dante, but he knows he's a good dog and we'll continue to protect each other from here on out as well. Eiger and her weapons arsenal are sticking around too, ensuring our enemies can still adjust their exact distance from us and by doing so get to pick precisely which one of her guns will be the one to blow their head to bits.
Rosa. I'll admit it... you did a hell of a good job back there. I couldn't've done better myself.
Well, I wasn't gonna say it.
[She chuckles.] All right, Rosa. Make light of my compliments all you like... I might do the same in your shoes.
Anyway. I'll be looking forward to the next run... just do me a favor. Make sure that the client is properly vetted, and for the love of God, verify that the job has nothing to do with dragons.
Done and done.
Go back far enough and there's probably a dragon involved *somewhere*, but we'll definitely do our best to keep that distance as long as metahumanly possible.
[She dips her head in salute.]
Until next time.
Sadly we have to finish things up with a farewell.
Rosa. You got us through the night alive. Well done.
You're running off to find Harrow, I take it.
That's right. He's already gotten enough of a head start on me... wherever he's gone off to, it'll only get worse the longer I wait. So I'm headed out after him, and I'm leaving tonight.
I'll keep a seat warm in the safe house for you. Do you know when you'll be back?
Years sure is a long time to keep a seat warm, but we'll definitely make sure it stays that way however long it takes. Maybe we'll move it next to the heater or something.
I could look through Amsel's old contact list if you want. It's a long shot, but maybe one of them could point you in the right direction.
[She nods.] See what you can find. You know my commlink number.
Well, I guess that this is it for a while, then.
It is. But only for a while. Rosa... your friendship means a lot to me. This *team* means a lot. I wouldn't be leaving if I didn't have to, and I fully intend to come back.
I'd like that. I'd be willing to bet that we all would.
I know. I'll be back as soon as the job's done, Rosa... that's a promise.
When you get back, you'll have to tell me about it over drinks. I'll buy.
Goodbyes are the worst. Let's move on before we make a scene.
Now, completing all three Lodge objectives leads to Luca Duerr sending a video message here on the computer. We didn't technically qualify since we didn't hand over the MKVI, but for the sake of providing proper closure to the Lodge storyline which otherwise would just be left hanging in the air, here is that message:
[The screen flickers to life. Luca Duerr's face shines out through the gloom.]
Rosa. I would like to thank you for your continual assistance over the course of the past few weeks. Ascending the ladder of an organization like mine is never easy, but it's much simpler when an ally such as yourself volunteers to do the heavy lifting.
I'll spare you the details on the other little tasks that I had you perform, but suffice it to say that each was an arrow aimed at the heart of a rival. And the elimination of Aleshire on your trial run created a vacancy within my organization that only I could fill... he was one of us, by the way.
And that just about does it. All that's left now is to go see what business Burakgazi has with us, to take one last look at the Kreuzbasar and its people who just might still have a future thanks to us, and that, as they say, will be that.
Firstly, a few notes:
- Any alternate outcomes of the crews' decisions to stay or leave will be covered in the ending showcase.
- In the original expansion Glory always leaves and Eiger always stays as their personal missions didn't exist. Blitz's personal mission doesn't come up at any point, and Dietrich's situation has remained unchanged: He only leaves if he was deliberately left out of the Humanis run. If he was brought but his nephew died anyway, he'll stay but give some different words about it:
Well, Im in. Losing Alexander was hard, no doubt about it. But it clarified something for me - something Id thought of before but figured was just wishful thinking or something. We can make a difference here. In peoples lives. I want to be a part of that.
- Blitz is the only crew member who will always stay with you, no matter what. That's right: Once you Blitz, you can never quitz.
Secondly, Blitz and Glory have different conversations if their personal problems weren't resolved, or if they didn't come up at all. They're not that interesting and I don't want to bloat this section too much, but if you want to see 'em I've linked them here:
Here's something incredibly obscure but kind of funny: If one never talks to Blitz in the safehouse after recruiting him at Das Kesselhaus, not even once for the entirety of the game, striking up a conversation with him for the first time now actually reflects that:
Heyya, chief. That was a hell of a thing, wasn't it?
Yeah, it was. I'm glad to hear that you'll be staying on with the team.
Frankly, chief, I'm surprised that you care. I mean, all this time, and we've barely even talked... I didn't hear a peep from you when we weren't on a run.
I dunno. I just didn't think that we were friends, exactly. Friendly, but not friends.
Well, maybe we can change that.
Maybe we can, chief. I'm game if you are. Wanna meet up later at the soykaf shop? We can trade war stories over a smoke.
All right. But you're buying.
[He breaks into a broad smile.]
You're right, we're not. Carry on.
[He frowns slightly, but nods.]
All right, Rosa. Works for me. Good talkin' to you.
Next up, while it's been possible to piss off Eiger and Dietrich by not letting them do their personal missions, there's been no such way to sour one's relations with Glory. But should Harrow still live, something like that can finally be "accomplished" here in the epilogue by stubbornly refusing to let her go after him on her own.
...So I'm headed out after him, and I'm leaving tonight.
Well, that settles it - I'll pack a bag. Where should we start looking?
[She smiles at you. Her eyes are sad.]
*I* will track Harrow down.
[She taps herself on the chest.]
Myself, and the spirit that's bound to me. But as for you... I can't have you coming with me, Rosa. Not this time. Your place is here.
With all due respect, Glory, I'm the leader of this team. *I'm* the one who'll decide whether I can spare the time to help you or not.
The Heart of Feuerstelle and I share a common goal, and a common responsibility. We have to deal with Harrow - it's on *us* to stop him. But you, Rosa... your responsibilities are here. And I can't let you walk away from them.
One can still acquiesce here:
You're right. Harrow is your responsibility, and this place is mine.
[She nods.] I'm glad that we're agreed. And Rosa... I knew that you'd choose to do the right thing.
Yeah, well. That's been going around lately.
[She smiles.] It has, hasn't it? After a lifetime of poor decisions and worse consequences, it's a nice change of pace.
Or, one can keep at it to the bitter end:
I'm going with you, Glory. I'll follow you if I have to.
[That sad smile returns.] Look, Rosa. I appreciate everything that you've done for me... the talks, the encouragement, and the help in taking Feuerstelle down. But this last leg of the journey... confronting Harrow and stopping him for good... that's something that the Spirit and I need to do on our own.
We started this together. Don't finish it without me.
You're a good friend. I mean that, Rosa... I respect you greatly, and I trust you. I hope that the feeling's mutual.
Of course it is.
In that case, I'm asking you to trust me. The Spirit and I need to do this on our own. I need you to respect that decision more than I need you to hold my hand through this.
No. You're just being stubborn, Glory. You *need* me by your side.
[She averts her eyes, then turns back to her packing.]
Tonight, I'm leaving the Kreuzbasar. I'm going to find Harrow and deal with him, however long it takes. In time, I'll come back to this place - and, if you'll have me, to this team. But right now, I think it'd be best for us both if you said good-bye and walked away.
You're jumping to conclusions - blaming me for things that I didn't do. But if you want me to go, I'll go.
[She eyes you coolly.]
We'll wrap things up with a final farewell to the phantom couple, the Becks:
[The unofficial grandparents of the Kreuzbasar greet you warmly on your return, with a hug from Karin and a firm handshake from Kristian.]
Welcome back, dear. I trust all things are settled?
We finished what Monika started, in more ways than one.
She would be so proud. Thank you. And in case it wasn't already obvious, you should know that we've decided to stay. We could never leave this place. We are as married to it as we are to each other.
Oh, are we now?
Don't you start with me, mein Schatz.
[Kristian gives his wife a look that must have been in his eyes on their wedding day. He then composes himself and turns back to you.]
And what about you, Rosa? What does the future hold now that your work here is done?
We'll just have to wait and see, won't we?
"We"? Mein Schatz, either we are in the presence of royalty, or she has decided to keep on.
[Kristian regards you more seriously.]
Is this true? Will you be staying?
Can't think of anywhere I'd rather be.
[Kristian takes his wife around the shoulders and hugs her close as she begins to tear up.]
Neither can we. Thank you. Thank you for everything.