Last time, we text-bombed our way through the NPCs in the main room of the Interface. Now for the back room, the rumored hiding place of our accuser, Mr. Beautiful!

Mr. Beautiful's Office: Besides the fact that the room is papered with the kind of wallpaper you don't want to stray too close to, there's the pentagram on the floor, and all the other etceteras you'd expect in the office of a major-league demon. The jukebox, though, is a puzzling inclusion.

Abonides (short demon, right): A small demon in spats feigns servility. He is the demonic epitome of the plotting servant, carrying out his master's agenda whenever it coincides with his own agenda.

Mr. Beautiful's Cue Stick: A regulation, but souped-up, customized pool cue that has kind of a sticky feel to it. It belongs to Mr. Beautiful.

Jukebox: A blast from the past, a jukebox loaded with Mr. Beautiful's favorite hits.

Talk to Abonides

 What's this? What trouble have I bought? Have I copped a fate naughty and full? Are you heat or scrubs who want me shot? I plead you see I'm only dutiful. I didn't make the game I play. The one you want is Mr. Beautiful!

Abonides got mad flow. Word life (this is basic thugonomics).

 You've got that right, shorty. We need to see your master, now!

 See him? Not everyone may. Those who do so are select; make your bones! You've dues to pay. I will summon him if I elect, but for me to chant and call him hence, from you the code I must detect.

 Incorrect, you stupid slob! You have no hope. Go get a job.

 Damn, these underworld types are secretive. Vows of silence, passwords, secret handshakes. Now, we need a code word to summon this demon. Maybe there was something in that gibberish Kween Chaos was spouting. It seemed like she was trying to tell us something. If we can just remember what she said...

Fuck a bunch of that. Let's screw around with the other stuff in here.

Use jukebox
 Now is not the time to dance! You've business in this city dark? On my cue you get your chance.

Get cue
 The cue is not yours to take! While my master lives, he'll use your head to break!

God, Abonides is such a cockblock. Fine, we'll give him his stupid code.

 Your brow is twisted. You look tense. You desire still to see my master. You must give the code to fetch him hence. You're impatient, you want him faster. To summon him you lack the stuff. Give the code or court disaster.

The trick here is, indeed, found in your conversation with Kween Chaos. Remember her going on and on about Beautiful's being the essence of condemnation, and finding him in his essence? Well, looking at the word "condemnation", its "essence" is the root condemn. And there you go.

 The underworld will part and rend a fissure up, from hell to surface, and Beauty rise, at the word condemn!

Cutscene: Arise, Dennis Hopper, arise! (Local Backup)


Wow. That wallpaper really is kind of fucked up, now that we get a good look at it.

 Abonides, you cowering lickspittle, I told you to go light on the smoke and brimstone and shit when I'm in my human form! This stuff goes right into my friggin' throat, man!

 You find it even harsher as of late. With human heart and human lung, perhaps you are not one so great! ...But I speak with too sharp a tongue. As your servant I stoop and crawl. Here are two with stories unsung.

 Oh, listen to you. You're not fooling anyone with the false modesty. Fire up the espresso machine; I want a pot of the double stuff ready for me when I'm done with Gideon and Rachel here.

 Now, I gotta tell you two I'm not happy. Not frickin' happy at all when two of my people are making this much noise. Kicking the crap out of scrub teams in your underwear? How do you think that's gonna play with the dagos and spics and those damn Indians downtown? I got every mob in this town handing me money 'cause I've got Mephisto's patronage and a sweetheart deal with the Hand. You two start blowing their people's brains out, and you know what I'll have? I'll have freakin' squat, man! Every scrub gun in the metro area will be after me.

 What is this? We don't work for you! We've never even seen you before.

 Don't play games with me, girlie! That's the problem with the rackets these days; nobody's got any loyalty left. Hey, I'm fightin' a war here! I got enemies on every front and two different planes of existence. I don't need mutiny by my own freakin' people.

 We're not your people, Beautiful. We're wise to what your "sweetheart deal" with the Hand is all about. We know that you implicate people in crimes that they didn't commit so that the Hand has a cover story for arresting them. Well, it didn't work, pal. We slipped that noose, and we figure you know the real reason that the Hand wants us killed. We've come for answers, Beautiful.

 Don't push it, Eshanti. Ask Abonides what happens, heh, when he pushes me too far! Heh, heh, heh. He pushes and pushes and pushes, man, and then I have to push back. It ain't pretty, ain't pretty.

 We know what your game is. We know that you helped set us up for the scrub hit. We're here to learn the reasons why, and don't try to intimidate us, because we're not afraid of demons.

 You making demands on me? You've got rocks as big as church bells, boy, but I'm gonna make 'em ring if you don't watch your step! Couple of ham-and-egg grifters think they can walk into MY office in MY speakeasy and give me the business? ...And don't hand me this fearless rap. You've had the late-night kick on your door. The scrub teams showed you how vulnerable you are. This planet's brimming with fear, man. I sense it everywhere, in everything. It's in the sweat of anxious transglobe grunts, in lonely beds at 4 AM, and skinny chicks with ugly scars taking wicked backhands from husbands. Don't think you're special. You've got buckets of fear in you, boy, and I'd rip it out and show it to you if I didn't need both of you.

I kind of like the "fear" speech, personally.

 This is useless. Let's get out of here, Gideon.

 You're not going anywhere. You're still in shock from the scrub attack. Happens to everyone the first time someone tries to shoot them in their bedroom, heh heh! Trust me, you'll get over it. Best thing to do is plunge yourself into your work. ...Now, here's what you gotta do for me. You're gonna help me with Sanguinarius, that sonofabitch. He's been a stone in my shoe for centuries, and today we settle all accounts. Does he think I've got my head in the sand that I don't know what he's doing with all that ordnance he's stockpiling? That megalomaniac sees himself straddling the horse of, and he's leading this army of demons armed with bazookas, machine guns, and cluster bombs. He's even invented his own weapons: guns that fire poisonous serpents and machine guns spraying hellfire. And, see, he's got this vision of himself on this horse, man, with my head impaled on his sword, and he's kicking ass all over hell in the name of his master Belial, who'll reward him with chests of gems, and chariots overflowing with food, and chambers full of plump naked boys or some shit like that. Oh, your tiny little minds can't conceive of the desperate grandeur of a demon's dreams. He wants it all, and that includes my head, but I'll be bum-buggered from Dis to Dorchester if that gun-crazy diablo's getting the drop on me.

 (sotto voce) Let's play along a little, Rachel. Something wild's happening here, and we might be able to turn it to our advantage. (normal voice) I, uh, never quite understood the conflict between you and Sanguinarius.

 What's to understand? There's nothing to it. It's a vendetta; it's hate! We're demons. Hate's our thing, our schtick, our raison d'etre. It's...what we do. Sanguinarius serves that ignorant, hulking Belial, see, and I do the job for Mephistopheles. We've been tearing it up over the same turf for thousands of years, and now I've got the upper hand. I had the vision, the brilliance, to get connected with humankind's most potent sinners. I had the genius to take human form and become a player in the rackets. I built what I got with class and negotiation. Every mob boss has a weakness, and I played them off one another like a freakin' maestro. They all depend on me for something. Sanguinarius thinks he can just buy up weapons and blast his way to victory? That's so typical of Belial's cadre, man. So now it's time to go to the mattresses. We're gonna hit him before he figures out how to use his new toys. You two proved yourselves by kicking that scrub team's ass, and I think you're ready for the big time.

 He's ranting, Gideon. He's completely evil and insane.

 Let's hear him out. He's coming to the point.

 You bet your ass I'm coming to the point! You're going to hell to see what Sanguinarius's got. I wanna put a job on that monkey, I'm gonna know what he's packing. He thinks he's the only demon who can score from the military, meanwhile I got dozens of buyers working the street. M-50 tanks with uranium-coated shells, automatic weapons with armor-piercing bullets, capillary-bursting sonic devices...arms race with me, will he? I'm gonna shut him down! See, you two are gonna help me take away his edge. I know he's whipping on a trio of high brass that used to belong to those saps in the CFF. If we can snatch them outta there, one of them might be loyal enough to steer some Pentagon hardware my way.

 And if they tell you to stuff it?

 Then I'll freakin' stuff them with broken beer bottles and cherry bombs, ahahahaha! Same for you if you don't get your blank minds hooked up to my psychopomp. I want you to bring back as many of those tin soldiers as you can, but look out for Sanguinarius. If he catches you, you're gonna have to duke it out with that helmet-head. So, you've got your marching orders; you gonna just stare at me, or are you ready to go to hell?

 Exit stage left, Gideon. There's nothing in hell that's gonna save our necks.

 I dunno, Rach. It's a dangerous hunch, but I think Beautiful's an important part of this mess. We don't have any leads on earth about why the Hand wants us dead. Maybe we have to go to hell to get the truth.

 Here's the drill, kids. I use the psychopomp to open a portal between here and hell. You need to get out, just think about leaving, and you'll be back...unless you try to job me, and then I'll leave you there to burn. All clear on that?

Saying no gets us a somewhat funny line from Mr. Beautiful, and gives us an opportunity to get the examine text for him before moving on, so...

 You're bustin'em with a hammer, kids! You think I need this? You think I can't spit out a window and hit muscle as good as you?

Mr. Beautiful: The scent of brimstone fouls the air. The demon Pazuzu, known on earth as Mr. Beautiful, plots new evils from within his sanctum.

OK, fair enough. We'll talk to him again and do it properly this time.

 You two don't hook to this psycho right now, they'll be finding pieces of you all over the warrens for years. You ready?

So apparently "psychopomp" is Cyberpunk Thriller for "spiky Frankenstein hat and vaguely Aztec barbershop smock". Good to know. Gideon's face goes all skully and we're off to the fiery depths.

Sanguinarius's Arsenal: The main storage facility for Sanguinarius's vast arsenal. Big enough to include not only weapons but aircraft and other vehicles, he spends a lot of time here just soaking up the atmosphere.

Combat Buddy (backpack thing, lower left): This unique weapon actually consists of the upper body of an android carrying a machine gun. Worn like a backpack, the wearer merely has to face an enemy to elicit a deadly round of fire over his head from the buddy.

Hell Blade (crossed swords): This sinister weapon is sharp enough to split hairs, and heavy enough to require two hands.

Bazooka (gun rack, top): Modern weaponry has not improved significantly on the World War II-era bazooka, except that the explosive charges are a good bit more powerful.

Hellfire Gun (gun rack, middle): 2095's version of an assault rifle holds a bigger clip and fires higher caliber bullets at a significantly faster rate.

Laser Pistol (gun rack, lower-left): A standard Army-issue laser pistol.

Serpent Gun (gun rack, lower-right): One of Sanguinarius's "improvements" on earthly weapons, this rifle fires a shell that, on explosion, releases a swarm of hellspawn serpents that slither over an opponent, inflicting countless lethal bites.

Explosive Charges (green ball): These plastique charges are set for detonation when the pin is pulled.

Nerve Gas Cartridge (brown cylinder): This cartridge contains a deadly, fast-acting, wide-area nerve gas.

Admiral Pike (left torture rack): Admiral Pike, one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, writhes in pain.

General Tantlinger (right torture rack): The once rugged, now bruised and battered and nearly fried, Marine chief of staff, General Tantlinger eyes you up.

Talk to Pike

 Where's Sanguinarius? He's gone!

 No, he's not gone. He's over there, going over the latest loot that greedy traitor Mangini let him have!

Talk to Pike again
 Are you crazy? Get out of here! We're done for. Save yourself for something worth saving!

Talk to Tantlinger

Nice touch, the whole "medals pinned to his bare chest" thing.

 Don't worry, General. We're here to save you. We're from the Front.

Oh, Gideon. Don't you know lies are the road to...wait, never mind.

 I don't care if you're with the Foreign Freakin' Legion! Get out of here! You came here of your own accord? How stupid can you be? Evac, haul ass, retreat! Sanguinarius is nearby, and he's spoiling for a fight; you'll end up in worse shape than me!

Sanguinarius is nearby, eh? Capital! First, we'll grab some of the weaponry (not all; there's a failure to demonstrate!), and skim over that invoice in the lower right.

There's an exit to the right, so onward and forward!

The War Room: The crucified torture victims lining the horizon, backlit by firelight, seem apropos in this perpetual battlezone. This is the place where Sanguinarius likes to try out his new weapons...and his old, for that matter.

General Mangini: The wreck of the former US Army Chief of Staff.

Sangiunarius: Clearly a demon who revels in his uniform, which is the proverbial full metal jacket, and then some.

Personally, I'd describe his "uniform" as the proverbial US Postal Service shorts, but who am I to judge?

Talk to Mangini

 Hold on, General. We'll get you out of here as soon as we can deal with Sanguinarius.

 Don't worry about me. This bastard hasn't gotten diddly out of me. I wouldn't even give him my name, rank, and serial number!

Talk to Sanguinarius

 Humans with guns? Ask Mangini if those guns are gonna make any difference. I'll plug ya and gut ya and feed your bowels to the hellhounds and Rachentieren.

To the hellhounds and the what now?

 Stuff it, gruesome. We don't scare that easy.

 No, but I'll bet you DIE real good.

Fighto! OK, so. Combat in Hell is rare and non-interactive; it basically amounts to a set of short cutscene clips in which you either win or die, depending on whether you've met a certain set of conditions for victory. In the case of Sanguinarius, these conditions are simple: loot everything from his arsenal. If you left even a single weapon behind, that's your ass, like so.

Combat: Plugged and gutted (Local Backup)

Oh. I guess that's the Rachentieren thing he was talking about. Let's try that again, properly equipped this time.

Combat: VICTOLY! (Local Backup)

Much better! Mangini, Pike and Tantlinger are thus returned to the world of the living, their souls represented by a human skeleton made entirely out of highly polished wood. Don't ask me, kids, I just work here. Anyway, we end up back in Beautiful's office.

Talk to Abonides

 Neither one of you a slaughtered lamb? It is Sanguinarius who tastes defeat! I salute your strength; let's down a dram.

Talk to Beautiful

 We did your dirty work for you, Beautiful. Now you can pay us back by clearing our names.

 Payback?! You ought to pay ME back, girlie, after all I've done for you two. You think Sanguinarius is the only one who wants me dead? I keep my standing in the mobs because they're too afraid to try for me. I show one sign of weakness, one sign I can be had, and they'll be on me like dogs, man, like rabid freakin' hellhounds! I need you two to be good Germans and keep checking with me. I'll have your next mission.

We get another set of conversation-tree options here. As usual, I'll run through the lot of 'em.

(Tell us about the Imperator.)
 So, what do you know about the Imperator? There's gotta be more than what we hear.

 No shit. I think it's safe to say you two are pretty much clueless on any subject.

 But then, Solux did actually turn some things around for this country.

 Boy, you really buy all that propaganda shit, don't you?

Jesus. I'd forgotten how flaky Rachel's characterization is in this game. One moment she's a true believer; the next, she's ramming Gideon's naivete down his throat.

 What? It's true, Solux did do some good for the nation.

 Yeah, and he also made sure that he twisted the whole checks-and-balances concept into his corner. Solux controls every facet of the government, from getting a bill passed to your local zoning commissions' ordinance on cleaning up dogshit. You probably already know that...but what you may not know is that Solux controls more.

 What do you mean?

 What do I mean? I mean Solux controls your life, your laws, the friggin' air you breathe. But Solux, in a way, also controls...the fear.

 The fear? Fear of what?

 That's it! That's all I'm sayin'. I probably said too much already. Man, am I stupid, stupid! Well, looking at you two, I guess I'm not too bad off, but damn! I almost cut my own throat, man.

(How much do you know about Satan?)
 What do I know? Shit, I serve the guy. Man, you know what kinda shit I'd get in for trashin' the big kahuna? I mean, we're talking the master of evil here. I respect the hell outta that guy.

 Such as?

 Such about this whole scouting thing?

 Scouts? As in, Girl and Boy Scouts?

 Sure! See, I'm thinking long-term. This whole troop thing could be a gold mine. You got a network of kids across this country, already connected. You start the temptation off early and it spreads like wildfire.

(What's the word on Mephistopheles?)
 Mephisto? Listen, I work for the guy, whaddya want me to say? Heh, heh, y'know?

Talk to Abonides again

 Plunge ahead, never retreat! The master plots and works his magic. With your help, his rule will be complete.

As Beautiful suggests, we'll want to check back with him later. However, we're done here for now, so it's finally time to move on from the Interface. We have lots of places unlocked on the DC Map now, and can finally start checking into some of our other leads.