Part 7: Update VII - Maybe A Monster Mash, Definitely A Graveyard SmashUpdate VII - Maybe A Monster Mash, Definitely A Graveyard Smash
Alright, we're awake again, refreshed from a good round of sleep. Let's roll.
When you think about it, that makes it the perfect place for people to gather if they don't want to be noticed. No corp security, no Imperial marines... it's about as quiet a place as you can get. You're the only one who's actually seen this troll, so I need you to head down to Colma and check it out. You'll probably want to bring another runner with you, so pick someone dependable.
Well, the audience decided, and it decided that Orion would be the one we're taking along this time.
May I hire your services?
I gladly make my resources available to anyone in need who is willing to pay. More specifically, I requite a sum of ¥750.
(¥750) Here you are.
Excellent. I shall accompany you to Colma.
Cool. Let's head out.
So here we are at Colma.
Here's a look at our new friend. He's a good shot and decent with melee weapons. Should be handy for when we need to shoot shit, which we probably will. He's got an assault rifle to do the shooting with.
As we head into the graveyard, we can interact with four different graves to read them. They have the following to say:
"A TREE IN THE DESERT NAME HIM OR BE HURT"
"WITH A BLOW OF HIS HORN THE WALLS WERE TORN"
"FROM THE MOUNTAIN CHEYENNE HE FIRED MISSILES AGAIN"
"THE PRESIDENT'S ADVISOR FROM FICTION IN DAYS OF YORE"
And in front of a locked gate, we find this person. So clearly, we need to solve a puzzle here, related to the gravestones we just found. So, I can figure out two of these. The second one is referring to the biblical story of Jericho and the Isrealite leader that was around at that time. And the third one is referring to the movie WarGames, the computer's password, to be precise. Both of those are "Joshua". And one I just looked up - the first is referring to the Joshua trees in the Mojave Desert. I don't get the last one, though.
Now, if we get this wrong...
ALL NAMES ARE FOUND WITHIN, BUT ONE ABOVE ALL. HONOR THE NAME BEFORE YOU FALL.
And then a zombie shows up. Not much of a problem, but it seems like the way this is set up, it gets a free shot at you every time you get a wrong answer, so this could cause some issues for squishier characters.
Of course, Kami is not a squishy character, and instead cuts the zombie into bits, with a shot from Orion taking it down completely. Now, if we give the right answer - Joshua:
EVEN SO. GO FORTH AND HEED HIS CALL.
And the gate opens, letting us move on.
Now, the moment the gate opens, enemies start moving around. However, that's all they do - they just walk around, being all menacing. They don't attack. They're marked as "Norton's Soldier" and run around screaming stuff like "SIGNS IN THE SKY!" and "NORTON IS DEAD! LONG LIVE NORTON!".
Well, I decide to not fuck around and potentially end up with these guys ambushing me, so I mow them the fuck down.
After dealing with those guys, we get to see Norton I's gravesite.
And further in the graveyard, we seem to have some sort of congregation.
You stand in the presence of Emperor Joshua Norton IX, Emperor of this California State and the Protector of UCAS. You may bow.
Well then. We are actually talking to an Emperor Norton. Also, "IX"? Dang, that's a long line.
You come here from San Francisco, do you not? We have longed to return to her most beauteous streets, her seven hills of luscious green, our fair subjects who cry out in their hour of need. Our head hangs heavy, burdened with the responsibilities of state. But, enough of that. Please tell us, why have you come to our court?
I believe they are looking for me, your Imperial Majesty. I encountered them while carrying out your work in the Pyramid yesterday.
My... work? We do not remember asking you to visit the pyramid, loyal Shavarus, merely to assure our subjects of our imminent return.
Indeed, your majesty. And what better way to assure them of your imminent return than to strike a blow against one of the powerful corporations that hold them in oppression?
[Norton's commanding gaze grows unfocused. For a brief moment he seems troubled and confused.]
But... surely it is Saito who holds them in oppression, is it not?
[His eyes snap back to you.]
But enough of these affairs of court. You say that you wish to question our subject. Very well. What would you know?
How long have you been Emperor?
We have held that honor for over a decade. At the peremtory request of a large majority of citizens, we did declare and proclaim ourself Emperor of the California Free State. Since that time, we have labored ceaselessly to ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring.
[Shavarus coughs politely.]
Of course, some ignorant persons will claim that Norton here has never sat on a throne, and never wielded any actual influence over this nation or its governance.
Yes, quite right you are, Shavarus. Ignorance abounds, sadly.
Some enemies of the state even go so far as to name you mad.
Indeed! We have ordered them executed, of course. We cannot tolerate such threats against our Imperial self.
Regardless, Emperor Norton is beloved by many, and he has proven a surprisingly valuable ally in the struggle against Saito.
...We believe you meant to say "valuable commander", good Shavarus.
Indeed, it is as you say, your majesty.
Hrm. That's not implying any sort of betrayal is imminent at all, no siree.
What are you doing in Colma?
Why? Does this strike you as an odd place to strike one's court? You must not forget that we hold dominion over all the great expanse of California, from the forests of Redding to the outskirts of Los Angeles, from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra Nevada. Any place the emperor sits immediately becomes the center of government. Merely because we are surrounded by thousands of gravestones, does not make this place any less worthy of our presence!
Which is not to say that His Imperial Majesty would not prefer to return to San Francisco.
No, you are correct as always, good Shavarus. When last we visited the city, we found the condition of its inhabitants most intolerable indeed. We have dispatched numerous imperial proclamations to leaders of city government and military, ordering them to show proper benevolence towards all citizens.
I assume they didn't obey.
Sadly, we received no reply to our orders. Therefore, we ordered Colonel Saito and all other persons in authority into exile! They... have not left yet, but surely will.
As you say.
Seems like His Imperial Majesty has not exactly been blessed with success.
Are you going to attack Saito?
You see, your majesty? It is as I have been telling you. Your loyal subjects cry out for you to take action and overthrow the usurper.
[Norton stares unhappily at his boots.]
It would be uncouth for the Emperor to invade his own city. Our role is to elevate the lives of our citizens, not to cut down the wayward.
I'm pretty sure the marines aren't just going to leave through harsh language. But let's get down to brass tacks and talk about what we're looking for - even if everything surrounding this seems a lot more interesting than some paydata from the Azzies.
I need that information Shavarus took.
Yes... what exactly were you doing, Shavarus? Why did you disobey our decree and enter the pyramid?
Your majesty, surely you must understand by now that your enemies will not leave simply by wishing so. We must strike against them. We must strike so brutally and effectively that they fear to spend another day in your city. While many dispossessed metahumans have flocked to your presence, they will never stand a chance against the might of the Marines coupled with the bottomless resources of the megacorps. We must hit them where they are weakest, cutting off their will to remain.
But how will you ensure that only our enemies are affected?
I wish I could assure your majesty that there would be no civilian casualties, but I cannot. They must pay the necessary price for freedom, whether they wish it or not. Consider, however, that these same victims would otherwise live the rest of their years in despair. Is it not better that their lives mean something. even in death? Is it not better that their sacrifice, unwilling though it might be, improve the world for their children and all metahumankind?
No! We will not allow it! This goes entirely too far, Shavarus. What shall I do, human?
Well, we have a metahuman scholar with us, let's ask him what his opinion is.
Do you have any advice, Orion?
I feel as though Shavarus and I have studied at the feet of the same guru. He has the right of it: as hard as it may be to stomach, total war is the only answer. They will probably lose in their assault, but that hardly matters. They will become martyrs, and hasten the day when all metahumanity will rise up and overthrow the old order of humankind.
Whatever the alternative might be, Norton's idea of overthrowing the occupation won't work. There's going to need to be some sort of war.
Listen to Shavarus. Scorched earth is the only way to win this war.
[Norton lowers his head. For a moment it looks as though he might weep.]
We do not care for these times we were born into. Why could we not be like our glorious predecessor, who faced only an indifferent Congress and recalcitrant merchants? We were not made for conflict with a foreign emperor and megacorporations. Very well. It grieves us, but we shall do as you say, Shavarus. We shall take the battle to the enemy, using any weapon at our disposal.
I hereby declare every person within this zone a traitor and an enemy of state, and order you all to summary execution!
You fool! You were followed! Follow me, my loyal servants! Norton, stay here and defend your court!
It shall be as you say. Come, friends! To battle!
Well, looks like it's time to fight.
Shavarus is a neutral party and just does his own thing, but we're allowed to control Norton.
Norton, as it turns out, is a Shaman.
He also has some hellhounds with him, though we can't control them.
So, Norton, being a Shaman, has a lot of useful support spells. Aim, Haste and Armor are great buffs, the healing is useful, and Air Barrier is also good for blocking chokepoints like I just did here, with it forcing the enemies to walk through it to advance, meaning they're going to use 2 AP just moving and can't attack, which will get them in range to get torn apart by Kami and Orion. I can't think of a good use case for Slow, to be honest. I feel like I'd much rather be casting any of the other spells.
Anyway, we go through one...
...four groups of marines, none of which offer any serious resistance.
Now, you must find Shavarus. Before you arrived, he mentioned that he would be traveling to the Embarcadero. I know not what he intends, but you must find him quickly!
Looks like Shavarus is up to some shit and has bailed on us.
So we grab a car and head after him.
Here we are, back on the docks, but this time, with an actual objective. Let's see who's around.
Oh, hey there.
Turm?! What are you doing here?
Kami! Ha, there's a face I didn't expect to see! I could ask you the same thing. With the cred we made on the Antumbra run, I've been slagging jobs all over. Seattle got slow, but them Tir elves have a habit of paying high and in advance, so I run security for them now. Our boat just pulled in a few minutes ago. Nothing personal, but I've been paid good nuyen to keep people far away from these boats. If that means I have to shoot you, I will.
We could convince her to come over to our side with the Shadowrunner Etiquette, but we still have a different weapon in our arsenal to get the same result.
(¥400) We had a good run before, didn't we? How about I hire you again for old time's sake?
Yeah... we did have a good time, didn't we? Frag it! This city is drek anyways. Who cares if I break a contract to a bunch of Tir keebs? Let's dust them!
And there we go, Turm's back in our crew. She's gotten upgraded since we last saw her. So now we have a very balanced crew - one who beats the shit out of people, and two who shoot the shit out of people. Do you need anything else?
Next, we make our way through some shipping containers, fighting marines...
...and after dealing with the marines, we get some Tir guards and mages. They sure don't want whatever they're protecting to get interrupted. Too bad we're here to do exactly that.
Kami does need to burn one of her three medkits on the next group of Tir, but nothing too major. Now, we have a problem. To advance, we need to get through a locked gate. We have several options here.
We can talk to this... strangely familiar Lonestar officer and bluff our way through if we had the Security Etiquette.
There's a rowboat nearby we could use if we could find some lumber somewhere around here. But we don't need that, because we have a different option.
We can just guess the code to get in.
(Etiquette: Academic) [Guess the override code.]
[A recent paper you've read on the psychology of random code selection proves to have hit the mark. You deduce the proper combination for the manual override before its heightened security system kicks in.]
Who says you need a decker to hack passwords? Sabermetrics, baby! You don't need a hacker to just guess when somebody's password is "eckstein123".
And on this pier, we find what we're looking for.
So, what's the job?
I fear that you are laboring under a misapprehension, namely that you will participate in the job. You are nothing but a nuisance, a worthless human who had no role to play in our great project. You still don't see, do you? You're still stuck in your narrow mindset, seeing only one run at a time, one job, one villain. Not like our friends here from Tir Tairngire. They see what Saito is doing, and feel fear. They also feel hope. The elven nation wishes to extend its benevolent reach to encompass all elvenkind. Even so, we will see Orkland become a haven for all orks, Halferville a home for dwarves. There will be no home for humans, or for those who collaborate with them. That includes you, Kami. I know all about your corporate paymasters. You will perish, along with Saito, the megacorps, their wageslaves, and every metahuman who remains in this city.
OK, that doesn't sound great. I mean, I'm pretty sure wanting to kill Kami is, like, a capital offense punishable by death, so that kind of spells out Shavarus's fate here, but let's just hear what he's planning.
What is your plan?
Saito's paranoia is entirely focused on preventing threats from entering this city. He's too short-sighted to realize that the true danger is the cessation of the city's lifeblood. Did you know that this city used to be mostly desert? Mankind spent a century building artificial rivers, sucking dry nature's teat in a bid to prolong their unnatural existence on this peninsula. Every drop of water drunk in this city has traveled hundreds of miles, pulled from the great mountains to the east. And, starting tomorrow, that water will cease to flow. That data I pulled from Aztechnology reveals every detail of the Hetch Hetchy water system: its pipelines, its defenses, its schedules. We will slice the artery and see the city bleed. San Francisco will no longer support life.
Yeah, I mean, I figured my idea of organizing an armed revolt centered around a guerilla warfare militia and organizing the populace to impede the occupation forces at every opportunity was going to get a lot of people killed, but this is nuts.
But the corps will just leave! Only the poor metahumans will die!
Do not underestimate the impact of fear. The next would-be tyrant will think long before persecuting metahumans.
OK, yeah, we can't have this happening. This is less scorched earth, more cutting off your nose to spite your face.
So, we have another fight on our hands.
Turns out that that Tir mage next to Shavarus is protecting him, so you can't deal any damage to him as long as the mage is alive. "Always geek the mage first" turns out to be a good rule of thumb once more.
However, once we do that...
Defend my exit, elves! We will rendezvous in the Mission when this is done!
And he bails. You can knock him down to 1 HP, but that's it, he becomes invincible afterwards. That's some bad GMing - I've got your villain dead to rights, don't just bullshit something up so he can escape. Oh well.
In the ensuing battle, Kami gets into a bit of trouble again with HP, but nothing we can't handle. It's just carving up and putting holes in elves.
Eventually, Shavarus makes his escape...
...and after beating down the last few elves, so do we.
And that'll be it for this run, and this update. Next time, we regroup and rethink our strategy, try to figure out how we can take down this guy before he turns San Francisco into a desert.