Oof, so much for picking up the pace. The spirit remains willing. but the real-life schedule sucks. Well, hope springs eternal. Anyway, this seems as good a time as any to hook up with Dante's pal in the underground, Aldous Xenon.

Upon entering Xenon's loft, we automatically enter conversation. Nice mural there, by the way, Al.

Hold it right there; don't move! ...OK, you can come in now.

What was that all about?

He was scanning us. Scanner had a motion stabilizer on it, too. Move and it stabilizes you. Stabilizes you as in "poof"!

Very good! How did you know? You couldn't find those scanners if you reduced this place to toothpicks.

I dunno! To tell you the truth, it...it just came to me. Weird. I guess it's just something I picked up somewhere. Anyway, I take it Dante told you we were coming.

Yes. You'll have to forgive the scanner check; standard precautions. Anyway, actually, when Dante mentioned you, I asked him to send you. I thought a couple of renegade ARC agents could prove...useful. ARC agent, ARC agent...ever notice how much that sounds like "archangel"?

Can't say that I have.

Dante seemed to think you could help us.

Oh, there's no doubt we could help you. The question is, are you going to help us?

You said yourself a couple of former ARC agents would come in handy. We can help out, some.

Some, some. Some's not enough my dear. You think the Resistance is staffed by part-timers working their way through school? Don't tell me you can help "some".

Rather nice line, that.

Take it easy, pal. Rachel just has a little trouble with the concept of total war against somebody we just quit working for, somebody we gave heart and soul to.

Well, there's more to it than Solux, but cutting off the leader of a rotten system should help considerably. Snakes rarely regrow their heads.

What are you talking about?

You still want in? It's got to be more than shelter in a storm. You've got to help us. I've got an assignment that only someone with a background like yours could pull off. It would involve swooping down and leveling a mortal blow against your former employer, the Hand of God itself.

All right, I'm in. I guess I just can't find any more excuses for Solux.

That's because there are none, which is why your assignment is to kill the Imperator.

What, are you out of your friggin' mind? Solux has so much security around, it's suicide to even think about it. Shit, they probably COULD kill you for thinking about it. Solux probably has psionic bodyguards.

Three of them, to be precise...a reconnaissance that cost us the lives of two freedom fighters. We've even heard they've developed something called a resonator shield. Supposedly, Solux wears a device that is programmed to recognize the vibrations of various grades of bullets, in flight. The rifling of the bullets apparently slices through the air with a detectable resonance. The device emits an aura that matches the vibrations, thereby disrupting the flight, slowing up the bullets so much they literally bounce off the wearer. In any case, true or not, that kind of personal security is why we're not going after Solux.

Wait a minute, I thought you said...

We're going after Solux's car.

The Solene-o-zene? C'mon, that's gotta have security every bit as tight as the protection around Solux...and even if you got through to it, wouldn't they scan it for every type of demo device imaginable?

They've put most of their effort into guarding the building the car is in. They figure if the compound is secure, the contents are secure...but there's a lot of business in and out of that building. Getting past the initial security shouldn't be impossible. From there, you've just got a team of 24-hour mechanics to outwit. As for the device, take a look; it's a homing mechanism, not a bomb. The bomb comes later, when the car is in motion...and occupied.

Still, they'll detect it right away, even if it is a tiny little thing. They'll find it long before Solux gets anywhere near.

Look again. This thing has an anti-scanning shield that cost us dearly. The final mechanism contains no demolitions and it emits no radio waves; it's virtually undetectable.

So how does it work?

It simply hums in response to engine vibration. That means we can use a resonance impactor: a smart bomb that homes in on the particular frequency of this little hummer.

Wouldn't be the first time the national figurehead was brought low by a little hummer, I suppose.

Wow, what a great deal! All we have to do is go out and get ourselves killed for the Resistance. Actually, probably tortured, THEN killed! And in return, you'll...you'll...what?

What'd you expect? You think you could just sit around our various safe houses and twiddle your thumbs? You want to be safe and secure, you've got to help us topple the Androgyne. No one will ever really be safe as long as the Hand rules America!

He's right, Rach. Besides, we owe the old girl. Er, guy. Whatever. Hell, you know, we kill Solux, they might finally find out what sex that character is.

Oh, there's a good reason to do it!

For whatever it's worth, you survive, and I'll bring you to Senator Burr, the leader of the Resistance. Killing Solux has been my main orientation for years; it won't be the end of the struggle, but it will be the beginning of the end. It will bring us that much closer to freedom, and it will rejuvenate the entire movement.

His main "orientation"? Anyway, Aldous is kind of a jerk, but he's probably one of the better-written characters in the game. He comes off as very cautious, very focused, and very cold...an appropriate attitude for a ranker in a covert and highly dangerous resistance movement.

Gimme the device, Xenon.

It's right over there, and you know where the Solene-o-zene is: the garage at the Pentagon. Good luck.

Now that we're done chatting, we can take our usual look around the room.

Aldous Xenon's Loft: It looks like just another messy warehouse loft, but lofts are often where society's outsiders take up residence, and where art...and revolution...is often made.

Aldous Xenon: A lean man with a distracted look to him; either he's been reading a book of poetry all day, or he's lost in thought on how to kill somebody.

Homing Device: Known as a "hummer", this small handheld homing device is made especially for use on automobiles.

Gideon gets himself a hummer, then he and Rachel bugger off to the Pentagon garage.

Pentagon Garage Office: It looks like a typical garage office, if you overlook the fact that the occupants aren't mechanics but security people.

Dispatcher (left): The garage dispatcher, a surly slob, is on the paging system, dispatching government vehicles to locations throughout the capital.

Guard (right): A large guard seems more interested in the bucket of barbecued ribs he holds than in performing his duty.

Talk to Dispatcher

Yeah? You guys from the Polish sausage place down the street? Think you guys take long enough to deliver a couple lousy sandwiches? We're starving down here! Garage 16, we need an XF5700 limo down at the Watergate, pronto, over.

No, we're here on official business.

I see you've already been snooping around the place. Sector 7, do you have a hovervan serviced and ready, over? ...Listen, what's your business here?

This brings up a conversation menu with a number of options. Only the paging one is useful, but as usual, I'll suck out all the sweet, nutritious dialogue.

(We want to register a delivery.)
Uh, yeah, we've got some parts out in the truck. We're with Shank Tools.

Sorry, ain't nothin' from Shank scheduled. You'll need to file bills of transit, receipt, and lading in triplicate, and initial customs, decontamination, and tariff affidavits in addition to submitting the shipment and vehicle to molecular scans. A real pain in the prostate! Why don't you come back on someone else's shift?

(We'd like to have someone paged.)
Listen, I've dealt with you guys before. I don't have time for all your bureaucratic bullshit. If you know who you're looking for, I'll page 'em for ya.

Oh. Quick, make something up!

We got no one here with that name. See for yourself. Listen, if you're gonna come in here and bust my balls, at least know what you're after.


(We want to submit a work order.)
Sorry, this crew only repairs vehicles.

(We want to collect a paycheck.)
If you're busted, that's your problem. Heh. This ain't payday, and this ain't no charity ward, so don't go looking for handouts.

Talk to Guard

"Hey, this guard in the Pentagon garage office...he's kind of boring. We need some kind of character quirk." "Man, I could go for some ribs right about now." "YOU'RE A GODDAMN GENIUS. And I shall call him...Ribsy."

Um, hold on, be with you in a second. Mmmm, these ribs, I love these ribs! They rip up my stomach, but I love 'em. Let me just wipe my hands. Don't wanna get sauce all over your papers! Now then, what can I do for you?

Uh, parts delivery! Got a truck idlin' out front with a load of axles and exhaust systems. Where do you want 'em?

Parts? What, axles? I don't know no axles. You gotta have a level-four pass to get in here, and I don't care if you're bringin' me axles or thirty pounds of ribs! Hah! Heh heh heh. Let me see your pass if you got one.

Talk to Guard again
What is this? Am I speakin' in tongues or something? A pass! I need a level-four pass!

Hey, what's that thing we found in Sophia Bene's inventory?

Oh yeah! Use Sophia's forger skill on the pass template, and...

There you have it.

Level-4 Pass: Created, as it was, by one of the underground's most proficient forgers, this level-4 pass is practically guaranteed to help you get past the level of security that they have at places like, say, the garage where they keep Solene Solux's car.

Boners. Here you go, Ribsy!

That was easy enough! You gave me a pass, and now you can pass. Ah heh heh heh heh!

With that, our path to the garage proper is clear.

Solux's Pentagon Garage: It's an awfully spacious garage for just three cars: the Solenozene, and two of Solux's weekend sports cars.

Mechanic: A mechanic is at work under the hood of the Imperator's parade vehicle.

Mechanic's Creeper: For all the techno-advancements of 2095, they still haven't found a better way to get at the underbelly of a motor vehicle than a platform on four little wheels.

Solene's Limo: The Solene-o-zene, Solene Solux's official limo.

If we try to use the hummer on the limo right away, we get the following message:

The mechanic does not allow you to get close enough to the vehicle!

Botheration. Maybe we can social-engineer our way through this one.

Talk to Mechanic

Yeah, what's up? I got my hands full of vacuum tubes here.

We're Artificial Reality Containment. Got a report on someone down here using a VR emissions unit.

How the blue hell is THAT supposed to work? Distract the populace with a rousing game of Dactyl Nightmare long enough to keep them from noticing the smog?

Are you kidding? What do I look like, someone who's lookin' to get set up with the Prince of Darkness or what? Listen, I don't mess with nothin' that's not regulation. I'm strictly by the book here. I got my hands full just keepin' this thing running.

Well, we just want to take a look. It'll just take a second, really.

Listen, I've taken this thing apart and rebuilt it more times than I care to remember. What would I need with unauthorized tech to cut corners? I know what I'm doin'!

Talk to Mechanic again
Hey, do you people have jobs to go to or what? I work for a living. Now get the hell outta here!

That won't do. However, if we take a closer look at the lunchbox on the garage floor, we see this:

Jo Boyle, eh?

Armed with a name, we grab the mechanic's creeper (hey, adventure game), and return to the office to try the paging option again.

Let's check the roster here. Name doesn't ring a bell.

Check again, old man. You know, a blot on your record for uncooperative behavior with the Bureau doesn't fare well when, say, you're in need of a government service!

So I'm dealing with a couple of ballbusters here. Fine. Jo Boyle, get your ass to the Dispatcher's Office, over! ...Now if you don't mind, I work for a living.

Now, if we head back to Solux's car...

Voila! No more Jo.

Aaand hummer attached. Let's hurry back to Xenon to report our success!

Talk to Aldous Xenon
Incredible job, man. We'll have to wait and see if the device works, but you've gotten it hidden on the Solene-o-zene. In the meantime, it's time for you to meet Senator Burr. You're one of us now. Go to the British Embassy. It's in Dupont Circle.

Meeting the Senator moves us into the next big story segment of the game, but before we do so, we might as well take care of one more lead we got from Frank Jersey: Jean Saint Mouchoir's computer at the Transgressions building. That'll lead to some new avenues for chasing down more information on the other Night of Re-Entombment scrubs; after all, we still don't know why the Hand put out a hit on us. So, next time on IPAT: Hell...Transgressions and side-quest-o-rama!