Phew. I'm probably only going to be able to bang out an update every few days for this one, as opposed to my typical one-a-dayish pace for video IPATs; there's just so damn much transcription involved, it takes forever to get everything typed up and formatted. Only one room of any consequence in this episode, but it's got a mighty load of people and dialogue crammed into it...

Entrance to Interface: While many people have seen demons in the bottom of a bottle, there's no telling from the front of this nondescript building that it contains a speakeasy, which itself is a front for the backroom headquarters of the demon Pazuzu, aka Mr. Beautiful. About the only clue to what's inside is the sign on the door.

Door: A pair of big, dark, bloodshot eyes peers suspiciously out from a slot that slides open in the door. The swarthy lids blink slowly...

Talk to Karl (doorman)

 What is it?

 I'll give you three guesses and a chance for the washer/decking unit.

Don't try to be clever, Gideon. You might hurt someone.

 The password, numskulls. You want in, you gotta gimme it.

 There's a password? You're kidding me.

 Nah. You gotta be a member. Read the sign.

 That ain't the password! Youse guys will have to do better than that.

Oh, fine. Do what the man says and take a close look at the sign, and the password should be pretty obvious. Let's try that again.

 Can't youse read? Like the sign says, "members exclusively". No password, no entry. Now beat it!

And the not-at-all-conspicuous GIANT manhole cover slides away to allow us entry.

The Interface! Man, could I go for a cold...Shnyd's. Anyway, upon entering, we automatically enter conversation with the skunk-haired lady perched on the bartop.

Cynna Stone is portrayed by Stephanie Seymour of modeling, SI Swimsuit Edition, and Playboy fame. She's one of only two characters in Hell depicted in photographic stills and FMV; outside of that first shot of the Interface, you never see her in CG form. Kind of odd, but I guess it would've defeated the point of hiring a supermodel for the game just to represent her as a primitive render.

Well, well, well. And who's the next victim?

 I beg your pardon?

 So this is what you look like now... Wow, they did a nice job. You look great!

 Why, Mr. Eshanti! My little heart would be all aflutter...if I had one.


 Uh, Rachel, honey, allow me to introduce Cynna Stone. She's, uh, an old friend of mine.

 Oh, really?

 No, I just mean we go way back...

 Yeah, we used to go way back behind the barn, didn't we, Gideon? Hey, Gid, remember the days when I used to see through you? "I love you, baby, I'll always love you..."

 Cut it out, Cynna. This is Rachel.

 Not the Rachel? Well, what do you know! Walks on two legs and everything!

 Wait a minute. Gideon, you never mentioned that you two were...

 Involved? Friendly? Acquainted? Pals? Buddies? Amigos? Familiar with the beast with two backs? Just good friends? Scream in the night, rock around the clock, what-do-you-know-here-comes-the-daylight kind of friends?

 ...Right. He never mentioned that.

 ...So Cynna, how's things by you?

 Oh, just fine, thank you for asking. I've found that after you, electronics is the next best thing. Of course, it's not like I have any choice in the matter now.

 I was really sorry when I heard, Cynna.

 I know, I know. I got your cards, the flowers...or rather, the flower. What, is that supposed to be dashing or something, a man sends you a single rose?

 That wasn't a white rose, by any chance?

 White as snow. You on the mailing list?

 One of many, apparently.

 Rachel, the woman was dead! I mean, not dead, exactly...uh...

 It's all right, Gideon. I was dead. Still am, as a matter of the quaint, traditional sense of the word. I'm not much more than a picture in a scrapbook.

 I just don't get this stuff. It's you; you're thinking, talking, still seem to have a little feeling...

 It's not her feeling I was wondering about.

 Relax, Rachel. Gideon always preferred his women to have some substance. Didn't you, lambchop? He liked 'em live, too.

 So how did they do this?

 Did most of this myself, actually. You work with the kind of ordnance I work with, you always figure on slipping someday, especially when the tech updates itself every five minutes. So, I developed this droid I'd been tinkering with for years, and every now and then I downloaded as much of my own playful sweet self as I could into personality, memories, you name it, everything that's me...onto a couple of compact disks. Didn't bother to keep up the holographic file, though. You'll notice I'm a bit younger than the last time you saw me. The last picture of me was from a cousin's wedding. I remember wishing I'd brought some plastic explosives with me. The band played "Satisfaction" one too often.

It wouldn't seem to say anything good about Cynna that she was able to fit her entire braindump on a few CD-Rs.

 Do you remember what happened? I'm sorry, you probably would rather not...

 Nah, it's all right. I don't remember a thing. I only remember up to my last downloading, which was about a week before what my doctors liked to call "the unfortunate incident". I remember taking the assignment, though. It was with an old friend from the Georgetown Revo days. You know, an old friends I was seeing in kind of a new light. He was a pretty damn good B&E man, but as far as demolitions go, he didn't know shit from shinola, so I thought I'd help out, see what it would be like to work together. The job called for us to use protoglycerine caps...nitro in gel form. Highly unstable stuff, not for use at home. Next thing I know, I'm coming out of surgery and there's no there there.

 You think your partner screwed up?

 Couldn't say. He didn't make it. He always was kind of fumble-fingered when it counted, though. I guess it just goes to show you: never mix love and explosives.

 Sorry about your friend.

 Don't be. I'm a holograph. Go ahead, pinch me.

 Who was in on the operation? What was your target?

 Oh, no you don't, ARC-head. You know I would never give up names.

 Well, I'm not exactly with "the firm" any longer. We, uh...

 I heard, I heard. They finally wised up to the fact that you weren't really a fascist at heart, and put out a hit on you. I figure, knowing you, that it hasn't sunk in yet; you probably figure it's some bureaucratic snafu you can still clear up. And, to be honest, it's an old habit that's gonna die even harder than I did...knowing better than to talk about the Revo side of things. I mean, remember how much trouble you had kissing in public? Even after we'd been going out for ages, it made you uncomfortable.

 Was he like that with you, too? I thought it was me!

 Nah, he's got his prudish side. And does he still leave wet towels all over the place?

 Uh, wait a minute. I think we're getting off the subject.

 How'd you like to see him take a walk on the Revo side?

Well, that came right the hell out of nowhere, Miss Kill-The-Sinners Porn-Burner.

 Gideon? That's something I'd like to see.

 Great! Why don't you come with us? We could certainly use you. Of course, with my expertise with explosives, I'm likely to blow you up again.

 No problem. That's the great thing about being dead: you don't sweat the little things.

 Great. I have a feeling that with you along, we'll really be able to give the Hand a run for their money.

This is certainly an abrupt change for the adversarial in Rachel's attitude toward the government, though I suppose she could just be telling Cynna what she wants to hear.

 Yeah, well, you know my motto: If you can't figure it out, blow it up. Uh, by the way, Rachel, I was just kidding earlier. I mean, I knew it was over between Gid and me the first time I heard him mention your name.

 Really? The first time? Why, Gideon...

 Judas Priest, is it me or did the road just get longer? OK, ladies. Beautiful must be behind that door at the rear of the bar. First thing we should do is confront that demon. Once we've done that, we can consider these other leads we've collected. Let's see. Dante told us about Aldous Xenon of the CFF. We should go there soon. There's Nick Cannon at Voice of God near the Mall and Dr. Clean at McPherson Square. Jersey tipped us to Mouchoir's computer in the Transgressions office near Federal Triangle, and he also mentioned a demon hunter named Dean Sterling. Maybe Mouchoir's got something on Sterling. Of course, if we get really desperate we can drop in on our old friends Pap-Pap and Anna Mae at their comics shop near Gallery Place. Hmm, not far from that Xenon fellow. A long road, indeed. On to Beautiful, ladies!

There's a pretty serious gaffe in the script here. Captain Jersey didn't say a damn thing about Dean Sterling. Clearly someone screwed up in editing. Gideon also pulled Pap-Pap's comic shop and Dr. Clean out of his ass, but those turn out to be existing contacts from his ARC work with Rachel, so it does make some sense for him to bring them up during a time of trouble. Pretty wicked boner on the Dean Sterling thing, though.

And there we go: Cynna is automatically added to the group. You can have up to 3 allies travelling with you at any time; there are 5 in the game, and 4 of them have items and/or skills that will be needed at one point or another (the fifth is useless aside from a bit of comic relief).

Being a Demolitions Expert, Cynna comes equipped with an EMP grenade, explosive charge, gas bomb, and a pack of mini-bombs. Let's have a look at those...

EMP Grenade: This electromagnetic pulse grenade can have a particularly devastating effect on machines.

Explosive Charge: These plastique charges are set for detonation when the pin is pulled.

Gas Bomb: A bomb that emits an incapacitating nerve gas; it does not harm victims, but so deadens their nervous system that they are rendered into a virtual coma for several hours. It will take out a roomful of people almost instantaneously, and it's small enough to fit in a pneumatic tube.

I'm sure that oddly specific reference to a pneumatic tube couldn't possibly have any relevance to a later puzzle.

Mini Bombs: A small charge, the size of a bullet. Also known as "poppers".

Anyway, recruiting Cynna sets a flag that allows us to start investigating other leads, and opens up a bunch of new destinations on the map. There's plenty more to be done in the Interface, though, so let's take a look around.

The Interface Speakeasy: The place still resonates with the shock waves emanating from the mysterious and brutal murder of the owner, Swivel O'Leary, by a government scrub team. All the normal, talkative patrons keep coming, however. Maybe because now they have something to talk about.

Open Soar (bartender): Ever since the previous bartender...owner Swivel O'Leary...was brutally murdered by a scrub team, former Hell's Angel Soar has been nervous and tender as a, well, open sore.

Scub Stevens (seated at bar): He may look like an elf, but he's really a wizard when it comes to jury-rigging anything out of nothing. He's even got his appearance rigged to his liking; due to his size and quiet demeanor, he's easily overlooked, despite the fact that his name has near legendary status.

Mindrunner (in blue, behind Stevens): Some things never change: a big, badass biker.

Kween Chaos (on stairs): This disparate confabulation of decades of urban contrariness in fashion, attitude, and jargon appears to have dressed in the closet of some countercultural the dark. Carries it all off with the haughtiest, most regal bearing, though: the look of royalty, slightly deposed.

Sophia Bene (left, in shinypurple): A woman of striking warmth and grace is out of place in this seedy speakeasy.

Talk to Open Soar

Well, hello, sailor! Didn't realize it was that kind of bar.

 What'll it be?

 Answers to some questions we have.

 OK. Beer.

 I beg your pardon?

 That's my answer.

 You only sell beer?

 We like to keep it simple.

 We wanted to ask you about Swivel O'Leary.

 Swivel's dead.

 We know. You got any idea why the Hand would off him?

 You don't get it. He's dead, as in smeared against the freakin' wall. As in, no way in hell I'm talking to you about him.

 Cripes. Whatever happened to the friendly neighborhood barkeep you could tell your troubles to?

 He's still dead.

 So are we, if we keep wasting time on clowns like you. C'mon, Gid.

Talk to Mindrunner

"Some things never change", says the narrator, but in my day, most big badass bikers didn't have hair formed entirely from melted vinyl.

 Hey, sweetheart. Ditch that loser and run with a real man! I got a full tank of gas in the hog, a six-inch wad of hundred-dollar bills, and enough adrenal stimulators to party a week straight.

 Tempting offer, chief, but I'll pass. We've got work to do.

 C'mon, babe. What can tall, dark, and depressed do for you that Mindrunner can't? Hangin' with me is more than just physical, if you get what I'm sayin'. They don't call me Mindrunner for nothing.

 Can it, Casanova. We're digging for data on Swivel O'Leary.

 O'Leary? Funny how a man gets more interesting once he's had his intestinal tract splattered all over a walk-in freezer! Swivel played it cool, kept his mouth shut. Mostly mumbled to himself; hell, half of that was in Latin.

 Latin? He spoke Latin?

 Just a few phrases. Hell only knows where he picked that up. Freakin' annoying is what it was. I almost busted his chops plenty of times. "Vocabulum est grallae, ominus venire ab genitor". He must have mumbled that a thousand times under his breath. What's with you two? That mean something to ya?

Not meaning to stereotype the motorcycle enthusiast community here, but I'm kind of surprised Mindrunner could recognize Latin, let alone rattle it off from memory.

 Vocabulum est grallae, ominus venire ab genitor, eh? The word "grallae" could mean something.

Hint, hint. Also, you may recall Rachel blurting out a similar Latin phrase as she woke from her nightmare, back in the intro...

 Glad I could help, sunshine. Guess you owe me now. I can think of dozens of ways to repay me, depending on how flexible you are. Heh, heh, heh.

Talk to Kween Chaos

 I shudder to ask.

 Actually, I thought we'd do the asking.

 I should have known: investigators. You have that orderly, methodical look. Seekers of arrangement where there is none; it doesn't exist, and even if it did, I'm not interested!

 Judas Priest, how do you order a drink with that kind of mumbo-jumbo?

Dammit, Gideon, leave Rob Halford out of this.

 Kind of reminds me of the time I tried to get you to talk about commitment, Gideon.

 Yeah, well, you blew your chance at that one, didn't you? In more ways than one, I'd say.

 Blew my chance?! Did it ever occur to you that maybe some women don't feel like they have to beg a man to commit to comething. Maybe I was secure enough!

 Are you saying I'm insecure, you tin-plated bimbo?

 Will you two knock it off?

 All right, all right. So anyway, lady, what you're saying is, you're a fan of disorder?

 Queen of chaos, actually. Deck in, baby, c'est-ci moi: Kween Chaos.

 Is it me, or is this conversation just a tad over my head?

 It's shooting around you, my dear! Like subatomic particles ricocheting for no discernable reason...and yet I repeat, even disinformation includes information.

 Do you know how we can get a hold of Mr. Beautiful?

 Everyone knows that. You just have to say the magic word.

 Good. There's nothing random about that; it takes a certain, particular word to summon him up.

 And yet not without the possibility of chance occurrence, much like what happens in happenstance. A cyber-duality, the prosing occurrence of his appearance with you standing there. Much like if a drink were suddenly to appear at my elbow, for example.

 Much like the fat within chance. You want a drink from us, you've got to give us some news we can use.

 I'm sorry, you're like aliens to me. I see him all around me! It seems easy; you must merely look at the creature to see his essence.

 But we can't look at him if we can't summon him up!

 If you could, you would see no more than some petty hood, not unlike thousands of others. Fate has condemned him, so he is the essence of condemnation. In that lies his essence, and within his essence, you will find him.

 My head hurts.

 Mine, too. I give up. Thanks for your time, queenie.

Talk to Scub Stevens

 I was wondering when you two would get to me.

 What are you talking about, fella? We never saw you before.

 I know, just my footprints...and that, only when I got sloppy a couple of times.

 Who the hell are you?

 Name's Scub Stevens.

 Holy cow, Scub Stevens! The man's a legend!

 You're Scub Stevens? You're kidding me.

 You expected somethin' taller?

 Well, yes, frankly. A holograph can dream, can't she?

 Cynna! A holograph can have some manners!

 It's just that we never figured on meeting you. The sign of a good rigger is that he doesn't leave too many fingerprints. You don't leave any. In fact, that's how we know a job is yours: no fingerprints, no marks, virt afterimages...nothing.

 But from what I seen, if anybody could have given me problems, it would've been you two! Heh, heh...too bad for ARC you're out of the business.

 Wait a minute, I just remembered something. Didn't a scrub team come after you once?

 Maybe? No maybe about it! Don't they teach you ARC boneheads about famous disasters amongst your peers? I mean, he took out an entire scrub team!

 Let's just say you should never try to take a jury-rigger at home. I didn't have to lift a finger. All they had to do the door. How'd you guys escape?

 Pure luck. They were expecting to take us out one at a time.

 It's never pure luck when you outdo a scrub team, lady.

 I'm beginning to think our luck has run out.

 Maybe not. You're off the Hand's map now. That's one good thing. They don't know where you are; they don't know what you know. There's a bunch of good people in your jurisdiction they never heard of, people you laid off of. Maybe some of them could help you.

 People like you?

 I could be persuaded. Plus, I sorta owe you two.

 You'd be willing to work with us even though there's a scrub team after us?

 Yeah, what the hell, it's a slow week. Whaddya think, you need me?

Legendary hardware-hacker who takes his beer straight from the pitcher? SOLD!

 Great! ...But don't you have to get, like, your little black bag, or whatever it is riggers carry their tools around in?

 Nah...I'm a rigger, for God's sake. If you can't make do with stuff on hand, what good are ya?

Right, let's have a look at Spielberg's Scub's stuff. He's got a glass cutter, some glue, "dream powder", and his jury-rigging skill, represented by the hammer icon.

Glass Cutter: A common household item: a glasscutter.
Yeah, I've got like a dozen of those just lying around the kitchen.

Glue: A bottle of standard household glue.

Dream Powder: This vial of so-called "dream powder" could knock out an elephant.

Jury Rig Skill: Scub Stevens' ability to jury-rig.

Pretty straightforward stuff, but like Cynna's gear, it's all important.

Talk to Sophia Bene

 You don't look like the type who drinks in a place like this.

 Not by choice. I'm desperate to earn some money. Know anybody who needs the services of a good forger?

 Damn right you don't look the part. Why put yourself at risk?

 That's my business, isn't it?

 Not if you're pushing your services to us.

 I told you, it's the money. I need cash to get my daughter out of the city. She lives with a gang of kids that call themselves the Clean Machine. They live near McPherson Square in a tenement across a narrow street from their opposite numbers, the Deadly Seven.

 That's odd. What caused the division? Was it a result of their deck mutation?

 Not much we can do about getting your girl out of the gangs, but we could have use for a forger.

 I always carry my tools. If you want me to work with you, I'm ready, but my condition is this: you two help me convince Chastity to leave the Cleans. Do something to show her how empty of a life it is, and I'll serve as your forger. Agreed?

Dude! Fake IDs! Gideon's totally being "Miles Long" on his.

 Remember our deal, now. You have to help me with Chastity while I forge for you. Time goes by, and I think you're welching on our deal, I'll leave you high and dry.

Sophia travels light, compared to the other two; other than her forging skill, represented by the pen, she's just got a pass template.

Forger Skill: Sophia Bene's ability to forge documents.

Pass Template: This template will allow you to make an official-quality Level 4 pass.

The "Get Chastity away from gang life" subquest is going to be an almighty pain in the nuts, seeing as it involves talking to upwards of 12 NPCs, sometimes more than once. D: My fingers ache already. Besides keeping Sophia happy, though, it'll also give us a chance to investigate Brian Avery, who was listed on the Night of Re-Entombment memo as an associate of the Clean Machine and Deadly Seven gangs.

Next time on IPAT: Hell...Mr. Beautiful!