Gideon it is!

So here's a basic game screen. As Hell begins, we're hiding out in the apartment of Dante, a downscale friend of Gideon and Rachel.

If you move the cursor over an object you can collect or use in some way, the cursor turns into a skeletal hand, like so.

A human-head cursor indicates someone or something you can engage in conversation.

Clicking on Gideon or Rachel accesses your inventory. You start the game completely empty-handed, so we can't do this yet.

Alternately, you can access the same functions by moving the cursor to the top of the screen, revealing a menu bar.

The "examine" command gives you a full list of every unique object or person in the room. Handy if you think you might've missed something, though I don't recall pixel-hunting being too much of an issue in this game.

Left-clicking the regular cursor anywhere reachable makes your main character walk to that location; control-left-click makes your partner walk there. There's usually no good reason to do this, though it's useful your partner gets in your way or obscures your view of something important. Finally, right-clicking on a room, object, or person is a shortcut to the examine command. Let's look at some stuff!

Dante's Apartment: The pad of a cyber-tech artist. You get the idea that the occupant is apt to strum the guitar while working on the computer. The art from around the world gives the impression that he's well-travelled, too...and in more ways than one.

Key: The electronic key to Dante's apartment.

Dante: At last, a friendly face. Dante Scrivner, underground hacker and amateur philosopher, grants you safe haven in his apartment. You never turned him in, although he is guilty of minor uses of technology, because he has kept you informed on tech innovations in the underworld. You have become friends over the years.

Sounds like a nice guy. Maybe he's heard something about our situation on his secret internets!


 At least you're out of your underwear. You're lucky the Hand didn't pick you up on indecency charges.

 We'll be fine as long as we don't cross the people at the laundromat who owned these clothes.

 So, what's the flowchart?

 Let's start with what we know. A scrub team tries to nuke us in the middle of the night, only we got lucky and stuffed them. Question, of course, is: what have we done to earn midnight execution?

 Damn it, we're ARC employees. We enforce the laws! We believe in what the Hand's doing, even though they step over the line sometimes.

 Maybe they nailed you for being soft on rogue techs like me. Any other ARC agents would have pulled my plug by now.

 That wouldn't get us cleaned. Maybe a rebuke, but we could've told 'em you were a singer with data on other hackers. Few months ago we tagged some would-be deck jocks that were programming an illegal c-space. Let a couple of kids skip, maybe gave them a second chance. But, again, they wouldn't scrub us over something like that.

 I know the two of you are straight lines, but even you can't believe that Transgressions only punishes the wicked. This is a tyranny, man, a government with supreme power!

 Clearly, the first move is to learn what the Hand has, or thinks it has, on us.

 If it were me, my first move would be to a 787 headin' to Africa. The Coastal African Republics have become a high-tech free zone of sorts. A little rough, but the Hand don't reach that far yet.

I have to say, Dante's making a lot of sense here.

 No way. We aren't running.

 She's right, Dante. We've spent our lives enforcing this government's laws. I won't end it all as a fugitive. We're getting some answers even if we have to go to Solene Solux to get them.

Whereas our protagonists are very brave, very naive, or very dim. Maybe all of the above.

 Where do we start? Do you think we can trust Frank Jersey?

 Of course we can!

 Who's Jersey?

 He's an ARC captain, our superior. I've never known him to act on political motives...just the opposite. He's taken great risks defending people from corrupt busts. Lives in Georgetown. He would have the official e-mail on our scrub.

 Nick Cannon. He's jacked into the Voice of God news nets almost constantly. He's one of the few people who get the news before it's run through the Decency Council's censors. Fortunately, he owes us for overlooking some information theft.

 Don't you two arrest anybody?

 We figured he was a good person to have our hooks into. Looks like we were right.

 You two'd have to stroll right into Voice of God headquarters on the Mall. It's too risky.

 Voice is usually low security, and we don't plan on using the front door. So, that's it...Cannon and Jersey. Not much. I wouldn't trust anyone else not to turn us in.

 I might be able to fill your need. I know someone with links to the Front. I don't know how desperate you are, or whether you have any faith left in the system, but you may want to see what the other side has to offer.

 S'funny, almost. A week ago, we'd have busted you for telling us that.

 I won't mention him again, but if you're looking for new friends, his name's Aldous Xenon. You can find him in a bodega in Chinatown near Gallery Place. I'll pass your names to him. He's a little rough...not your usual type...but you can trust him.

Man, Dante's kind of jumping the gun here, huh? Considering Gideon and Rachel just refused to skip town for WE ARE GOOD LIFELONG COMPUTER-NARCS AND MUST CLEAR OUR NAMES! reasons, you'd think slipping them your contacts in the resistance movement would be kind of a bad idea.

 We'll keep it in mind. We certainly need all the help we can get.

 Don't deal me out! I owe you two for not feeding me to Transgressions. You always have a hiding place here. Take that extra key over there; it's yours. I'll surf the underground networks, see if anything's being rapped out about your case.

That's all we can do here for now, aside from yoinking Dante's spare key, which we do. To travel, we go to the menu bar and select "dcmap"...

...and get a DC map, appropriately enough. Right now, there are only two locations available: Dante's Apartment and Captain Jersey's Kitchen. We can't follow up on Xenon or the Nick Cannon/Voice of God lead yet. Off to Georgetown, then!

As usual, I'll start by examining everything, except for that memo on the kitchen table. We'll be looking at that shortly.

Captain Jersey's Kitchen: Where better to go when you're on the run: the kitchen of a cop. A safe, warm, middle-class place to discuss the fact that someone is trying to hunt you down and kill you.

Captain Frank Jersey: Your trusted ARC superor, Captain Frank Jersey, is alone in his kitchen. He seems to have been waiting for you. You've always found his calm authority reassuring.

Talk to Jersey

 Cappuccino, anyone? Maybe some tea with a hit of bourbon in it? You must be freezing after your jog about town in your underwear.

 We figured you'd have heard by now.

 I saw it on the scrub team's playback footage. You two kicked some ass! I didn't know you had that in you.

 Neither did we! Amazing what surprise and fear can do for your combat reflexes.

 We know it's probably stupid to come here, Frank, but we need to talk to someone on the inside who we can trust. We know the Hand might be watching this place.

 Screw the Hand, I'm an ARC Captain. This is the last place they'd look for you. My standing orders are to scrub rogues like you. You know me...heh...I always follow orders!

I like Cap'n Frank. He's got the kind of cynicism that, one would imagine, comes of a long career in law enforcement; he comes off as the kind of guy who still tries to maintain a reasonable standard of law and order, but learned long ago that the system is neither infallible nor incorruptible.

 Why was a scrub team trying to burn us in our bed? Who gave the order, and what the hell for? We've done our duty for Hand and country! Is this our payback? We haven't done anything!

 That's probably what most of the people you feed to the scrubs said.

 Those people were sinners, Captain. They deserve what they got.

 I forgot. You two are believers in the Guiding Hand. You thought being narcs for Reality Containment was doing God's work. Still feel that way now?

 There's got to be an explanation. There was some kind of mistake!

 Don't play games with me, girl. The Hand has something on you. What have you done?

 Is this Interrogation 101, Frank? If our scrub went over the net, then you know what they're charging us with. That's why we're here. You tell us what we've done.

 You want to keep me in the dark, fine. Maybe you don't know why they want you, maybe you do. Here's what I know: the official charges are crap. C'mon, you mean this kind of stuff doesn't trickle down to grunts like you?

 Educate us, Captain. Obviously we need it.

 The Hand's rule isn't exactly the rule of law. It's not what they charge you with, but the fact that they charge you at all. Officially, you're in violation of the Artificial Realities and Extranoumenal Environments Design, Programming, and Transportation act. You've been accused of dealing in pornographic virtuals involving human/demon coupling!

Dude, hot. I'd totally watch some raw girl-on-Zuul action.

 They said we're skin dealers? That's ludicrous! Look at my case history; I've burned whole libraries of pornographic books and virtuals. It's a frame job, Captain!

 Of course it's a frame job! You two are either guilty of something else, in which case I'll take you in myself, or you've become politically unpalatable for some reason, and they want to whack you for it.

 So somebody in ARC wants us dead?

 Someone in ARC or Transgressions or the Pentagon. Somebody with some connections, because they've linked you with Mr. Beautiful, and they only do that when they're desperate to whack somebody.

We now get a list of topics we can ask about. Since I'll be aiming to transcribe all of the dialogue options, I'll indicate each choice in parentheses.

(Who's this Mr. Beautiful?)
 Beautiful is one of Transgressions' dirtiest little secrets. Association with him is as good as a guilty verdict. They accuse someone of running a narcotics or porn or illegal realities scheme, fabricate a link to Beautiful, haul his ass in, he signs a confession implicating the accused. Beautiful's freed on some technicality, and the accused gets scrubbed, or worse.

 Let me guess. Beautiful's fingered us as accomplices in a virtual skin ring?

 That's a good guess.

 Where do we find this Assyrian scumbag?

Assyrian? I have no idea what that's supposed to mean in this context.

 He's got a hangout in the back room of a speakeasy called the Interface, out in Foggy Bottom. Watch your step. Everybody in the place fancies themselves a badass, and most of them actually are.

(You suspect Transgressions' involvement?)
 Then we're finished! The two of us can't fight Transgressions.

 Best you can try to do is avoid them. They'll try for you again, that's for sure. Still, there might be a way to make Transgressions work for you, if you've got the guts to try it.

 I don't know about guts...will desperation do?

 Not everyone in Transgressions is a despot hiding behind holy robes. There are some men and women of integrity trying to make the system work. One of them's an acquaintance of mine, name's Jean Saint Mouchoir. He's a compulsive diarist, makes entries in a voice journal every day. He's a straight-arrow, by-the-book guy, so you can't risk confronting him. You'll have to break into his office, and he has passwords on everything in his system, but if you can break those, you might tap into what he knows about your case. I know that's not much, but it's a start. His office is in Sin Central, the Transgressor's complex right smack in the Federal Triangle.

(Anybody else scrubbed that night?)
 Scrubs were out in force that night, which suggests a sweep, which means one of two things. You're either really involved in something which case, I'll haul your asses in myself...or Transgressions is using one fabricated crime to wipe up a whole lot of undesirables. Question is, why are you two loyal ARC agents suddenly dirt?

 Who were the other germs? Any pattern to the hits?

 Only name that meant anything ot me was Swivel O'Leary. He ran a speak called Interface over in Foggy Bottom. Wild place...Mr. Beautiful hangs there. Transgressions had been tolerant to this point, but they finally got around to O'Leary.

(What's our alleged involvement with smut?)
 Well, who knows? Transgressions is shadowy in its accusations 'cause it answers to nobody. Virtual porn's a popular setup; they get you for the sexy stuff and for the VR. Not much I can tell you because I haven't worked that turf in decades. Heh...pain in the ass, more than anything. Spend half your time busting horny kids and couples looking for a few new thrills.

 But Beautiful deals in the stuff?

 That's not his usual game. Plenty of other demons for that.

(End conversation)
 Stay in touch. I'll do what I can to watch your backs, but be careful. The Hand's not finished with you two.

Now let's have a look at that memo.

"Night of Re-Entombment", eh? Must be the codename of the Hand sweep operation that led to our attempted execution. There we are on the hit list, along with Swivel O'Leary and a pile of others, all of which may be worth checking out. We'll take the memo with us, and with that, we're done with Cap'n Jersey's place for now.

We've got plenty of new leads to investigate...Nick Cannon at the Voice of God, several targets of the Night of Re-Entombment sweep, Aldous Xenon of the Citizens' Freedom Front...but only one new location available for the moment: The Interface, that speakeasy run by the late Swivel O'Leary. I guess Mr. Beautiful is our top priority. That's fair enough, and we can ask around for information on O'Leary while we're there.

As we travel to the Interface entrance in Foggy Bottom: A cutscene! (Local Backup)

Next time on IPAT: Hell...The Interface!