OK then! When last we left our former ARC-narcs, Hell had kind of BSOD'd on them, and some mysterious "Deepthroat" had left a message with Dante for them to meet him at the cyberspace address "garage". Using our newly acquired psychopomp, let's do that!

Nothing interesting happens if you enter an invalid address. Entering a valid address gives you the usual skullface, spiky helmet animation, though now we know it's all just smoke and mirrors...

Garage: For some odd reason, Deepthroat chooses to appear in a cyberlocation designed to look like an old-fashioned subterranean parking garage...

Deepthroat: You are face-to-face with Deepthroat. At least, you assume it's his face, since appearances are deceiving in this virtual environment.

Talk to Deepthroat

You came! I was counting on you being desperate enough to chance it.

Oh, we're here, all right. When a hell pit locks up like a phracker's shanty, we get real curious. Speaking of jury-rigged environments, what's the story with this place?

Forgive the incomplete nature of the area. It betrays my haste in fashioning it. I devoted most of my efforts to cloaking this WELL from Hand detection.

The only internet-related meaning of WELL I'm familiar with is this one, but Hell seems to be using it to mean a sort of personal VR home-space. Take 2's other early celebrity-studded cyberpunk adventure game, Ripper, frequently used the term in a similar fashion.

Doesn't matter. We obviously aren't here to talk about the place, no matter how weird it is.

I've been following your activities as best I can by monitoring the ARC online chatter. I only meant to contact you. Causing Asmodeus's hell pit to lock up was an unexpected side effect. I know that you've been framed, but I don't know why. I also know that you've taken up with the Citizens' Freedom Front.

Yeah, we know what we've been doing. What about hell?

It is the greatest lie in human history, Rachel! Your boyfriend's got it right. It's all computer-generated. You see, from the beginning, the Hand knew that fear was its greatest weapon. They spent billions of dollars tapping into centuries of fear and superstition, humankind's tribal horrors and primal fears. The military and CIA had already stockpiled immense research on the subject, and transglobal CEOS and ambitious secular politicians willingly backed the Hand. They were confident they could share in the Hand's rule of the country, but once the gates of hell opened, Solux swept all non-believers from power. Those were the first nights of the scrub teams, the first nights of many.

So hell is a computer program. No one is damned, then?

Oh, no, no. Oh, no. People are damned. They're hurt. The burning is in the mind, but that makes it no less real. Oh, no...no. The only thing not virtual here is the pain and the death. The death is real.

This changes everything. There's so much we have to ask you.

Not now. I'll contact you again. I will be your...deepthroat. Keep in touch with Dante. I'll contact him when I need to speak with you.

And then we're automatically booted from the garage WELL and returned to Dante's apartment.

Talk to Dante
No word from him yet. Man, I hope they haven't whacked him. He'd better get his ass out of the Pentagon. I'll keep scanning for him.

Time to head back to the British Embassy and fill Senator Burr in on our big discovery.

Talk to Derek Literati
We have news about hell. You think you're confused now, wait 'til you hear this.

Any data on hell is to go directly to Senator Burr. I take my orders from her like everyone else.

Entering Senator Burr's office, we find it empty, so we head over to the computer room, where we find her meeting with Katerina.

Talk to Katerina Goertz
Watch your step. It's not safe here for former ARC agents still heeding their master's call.

You got a problem, woman? 'Cause we can settle it right now.

Talk to the Senator. She knows the score.

Talk to Katerina again
I told you to speak to the Senator, or are you hiding something?

Talk to Erin Burr

What's wrong? Something bad's happened, hasn't it? The assassination attempt on Solux?

The attempt on Solux has failed. The homing device was discovered and reprogrammed. The missile meant for Solux struck a tenement building. Fortunately, most of the residents were on the street watching Solux pass by, so no one was killed. Thank god. I knew it was a mistake to attempt such extreme measures.

Question is how they found the homing transmitter. We spent over a year devising ways to cloak its signal. Spent a small fortune on stealth materials for the casing. People risked their lives to obtain paint samples from Solux's car. Xenon was a fool to use these two to do his dirty work!

Watch who you're accusing, Katerina. Your plan was dicey from the start. I don't care how mondo your homing device was; you think the Hand techs aren't three steps ahead of you? Judas Priest, it's the Imperator's parade car! You think they don't scan almost every molecule of that thing?

There is no time for this! There is no time for recriminations! As you see, Gideon and Rachel, some of my staff do not trust you.

Yeah, we noticed that with Literati. He's got a big problem with us.

Marcus Vanders and Claudette Simeon of the attack squad were his closest friends. He hasn't been the same since their death. When they disappeared, something inside him disappeared as well.

We've discovered Solux's secret. We've discovered the secrets of hell!

Hell's secrets? I've no time for idle boasts. Tell me what you know.

The Imperator doesn't have the keys to hell, but Solux does have a team of ace hackers and hardware at least three generations ahead of anything you've ever seen. Hell isn't real. They're computer-generating the whole thing.

Computer-generating?! But how?

The Hand has ruled like Luddites, outlawing most cutting-edge tech, but that hasn't stopped the government itself from moving ahead full bore. They've been developing cyberspace and decking technologies to a sophisticated degree. When they damn people, they don't physically send them anywhere. The victim's nervous system is linked to a computer network that's generating an enormously complex virtual environment...and that's hell.

My god! You're certain of this?

We've got a deepthroat inside the Pentagon. He's a programmer who spends his days backing up data generated by the hell program. They've got everyone's nightmares on tape. He's spilling everything he knows. Everything he's said so far is consistent with our experiences in the underworld.

All right, all right. This changes everything! Can you get to this person, this deepthroat? We must speak with him! We must have him here with Katerina, working on some way to destroy hell. If it's a computer program we can crash, we can devise a bug or virus and reduce the gates of hell to virtual ruins. Correct, Katerina?

Maybe! I mean, in theory, any program, any data can be corrupted. It's a matter of understanding their code, and it'll depend on hardware. I'll need information...lots of it.

You heard her, Gideon, Rachel. Bring me this deepthroat. We must have him on our team. In the meantime, we must plan. If we bring down the Hand, we must be prepared to replace it with something better; we must be prepared to govern! The Front has a number of important allies, former government officials who have resigned their posts rather than serve under the Hand, and activists who the Hand deemed too subversive to remain free. All of them will be crucial to forming a government that can take charge when Solux is defeated. The Imperator, of course, knows this and has apprehended them, consigning all of them to hell. We had never seen a way to rescue them until now. Can you access hell at will?

We think so. We have access to a psychopomp, which, as it turns out, is only a disguised decking unit.

Good. You two must undertake to rescue our people being tortured in hell. If I understand this correctly, they are most likely linked to a computer somewhere in the Pentagon. We have spies inside. Hopefully one of them will be able to free their bodies while you free their minds. Katerina will brief you on the identities of the prisoners. While you work to free them, we will devise a means of destroying hell.

Talk to Katerina Goertz
All right, so I have to Mission Impossible you two on some of the Front star power who've taken a ride on Charon's jetski? Get ready. The list reads like a who's who of Establishment figures gone disgrunt.

Any theories on how we're gonna find these people? We've got a psychopomp, but what next? We can't just make blind decks. Hand's C-space jocks would find us in minutes.

We're a little lucky there. The Hand's given us a head start. You know how they run it. Hell isn't scary if the folks at home don't know something about it. Hand's buzzed us the sweaty locales of some of the prisoners. 'Course, the Hand never figured on their enemies having a psychopomp. If the psychos are anything like the Acti-Decks, then they've got some cutting-edge intentionality engines. The psycho should be able to scan for the hell areas you're aware of, and offer them as an option for travel.

Let's if I have this right. We just use the psychopomp in this room, as it to take us to Charon, and we can go to any hell location we're familiar with...and to leave a hell pit, I assume we just return to Charon.

That's the theory. Remember, the psychopomps are for the bad guys who run hell. It's supposed to be easy for them to get around. Listen now; here are the people you have to rescue from hell. There are twelve of them in total. We know that Eddie Commerce is being held by a demon named Machalas in some manner of hell zoo.

Isn't Commerce the underground comic, the really subversive guy?

That's right. The Hand kept censoring his act. Finally he got fed up and went full-blown disgrunt.

That's one. Who else?

Front's top EE guy...a shaman with circuitry, a Texan named Dingo Tucker...is being held in one of Beelzebub's pits that's apparently teeming with rats. Former Secretary of State Czeschew is having his gums eternally torn open by a dentist demon named Malebolge. Prudence Alala, Senator Burr's chief of staff, is getting the traditional hellfire treatment. Multi-billionaire Conklin Danforth is encased in a block of ice beside a tributary that leads to hell's frozen sea. Former Secretary of Defense Trenton is in one of Mephisto's pits. That's all I got on these guys, but it's a good start.

That's a good start. Anything else?

There is one other thing. Townson Ellers is the chief tactical planner for the CFF. We can't attack the Pentagon without his expertise. Apparently he's being tortured by Satan personally. That can't be good, even if Satan is just a computer image. Don't know how to access him yet, but you'll be duking it out with Satan before this is over. One of our people inside of the Pentagon reported that they've located where our torture victims' bodies are being held while they're in the hellnet.

Great. They can just disconnect the psychopomps and save us a lot of sweat.

Life ain't that easy, Rachel. Release of their bodies is apparently blocked until their minds are freed from their torture in hell. Once that happens, our agents in the Pentagon assure us they can move the prisoners out.

Talk to Katerina again
We need to get everybody out of there before we can try to crash hell.

Talk to Burr again
You should resist coming here unless you have something important to report about the attack squad, Solux, or hell. Just visiting the embassy is reason enough for the Hand to pick you up.

So begins our first set of hell rescue missions; we'll be getting more of them later. They typically involve freeing a prisoner from a hazard or demon by way of simple inventory puzzles or puzzles of varying difficulty. Before we get started, though, we can go chat up Derek for a bit more dialogue.

Talk to Derek Literati
Senator Burr had me monitoring the meeting. I can't pretend I grasp all the implications of hell being a computer program, but I know you two are putting it on the line for all of us. I want to apologize for how hard I was on you. It's my job to be the Senator's hammer; I can't allow myself to trust anyone.

Guess I can see how you might be suspicious of two ARC agents claiming to be switching sides.

I hope you can get our guys back. I'll be working out the logistics for a strike against the Pentagon, if we get that far.

Talk to Derek again
Don't give it up. We can bring the Hand down if we stay together. Bring any further data directly to Senator Burr in the command center.

Nice to see him coming around. Anyway, as Katerina explained, we can use the psychopomp to travel to address "Charon" from the CFF computer room (for some reason, it doesn't work anywhere else).

Charon's Ferry Landing: The "ferry" isn't what ferries used to be, but then, the river isn't what you'd expect, either.

Charon: The proverbial figure of Death has become a bit cheerier of late, having put down his scythe to take up a new business.

Talk to Charon

Greetings! Welcome to Charon's Boatrides along the scenic Styx. My name is Charon, and I'll be your guide on this red-water rafting trip. Passengers are advised not to dip their hands into the river, or they will pull back a CHARRED STUMP. And beware of the spray, as it will dapple your complexion with searing lesions and, well, outright holes. As there is limited seating, passengers are further advised to cling to each other for dear life. We hope that you regret traveling with us today, that you suffer mercilessly during your stay, and that you come again. Please state your destination.

Oh hee hee hee. I love that speech. Anyway, this will be our hub location for all future explorations of hell, and Charon will be our DC Map analogue; talking to him gets us a list of available destinations. Here's what we've got so far.

Hey, that dentist's office sounds like fun. Onward, Charon!


The Hell Dentist's Office: Although the only person in hell who is perhaps more sadistic than Malebolge the dentist is his interior decorator, the decor isn't the sole giveaway that this is the office of a fiend. The blood spattered around the victim's chair contribures to the impression.

Dentist's Drill: Hell's version of a dentist's drill is bigger and nastier than anything on Earth.

Gauze Bucket: This medieval-looking wooden bucket is used in the hell dentist's office to catch bloody gauze, which explains the creepy stains.

NO2 Tank: This cartridge contains NO2 gas, which is not lethal but can knock people out nearly instantly. Demons, it just makes crazier.

Alfred Czeschew: The former Secretary of State, Alfred Czeschew, writhes in extreme pain in Malebolge's dental chair. Obviously, the demon works without anesthesia. Czeschew kicks and screams; bloody saliva runs from a tube in his mouth and splashes onto the floor.

Malebolge: A hideous demon dentist practices his profession. Blood drains through a tube from the patient's mouth as he squirms and thrashes in agony. Malebolge drills and hammers, pulls and tears at healthy teeth and gums. He frequently breathes nitrous oxide from a gas mask to add to his enjoyment.

This is one of the more unnerving prison pits, largely because both Malebolge's drill and Czeschew are letting out a constant horrendous screeching. Eeeeee. Regardless, we'll swipe the gauze bucket, extra drill, and gas canister; Malebolge either doesn't care or is too busy to pay us any mind.

Talk to Alfred Czeschew

(incoherent muffled screaming)

Well, I guess that's understandable.

Talk to Malebolge

Stop squirming! If you hadn't waited so long between checkups, this wouldn't have happened! Besides, it isn't good for you if it doesn't hurt a little! Hee hee! Oh, sorry, did I hit a nerve? Oops, hit it again! Sorry! Aaahaha, heeheehee!

(incoherent muffled screaming)

What's that? No insurance? I'm afraid we'll have to bypass the anaesthesia and keep that for the doctor! (Sniff, snort snort) Ahh, that stuff is sweet. I do love dentistry.

Talk to Malebolge again
Sit still, or I'll really have to hurt you! Now RINSE AND SPIT!

We've secretly replaced Malebolge's regular nitrous oxide with Folger's Crystals the nerve gas we lifted from Sanguinarius's hellpit. Let's see if he notices!

I think he noticed. :(

Ohh, thank you. You can't believe how painful. I kept telling him I'd just had my teeth capped, but he just...kept...drilling!

We're with the Front. You're not really in hell. We haven't got time to explain. In a few seconds you're going to wake up in a room inside the Pentagon. The Front has a woman inside who will get you out. Get ready now!

Alfred Czeschew now does the traditional wooden-skeleton cruise back to reality. We can now return to our new hub location by going to the toolbar up top, where the DC Map icon has been replaced by the Styx, like so:

Home, James!

While we're at the dock, we can scoop up some of that river water in our new gauze bucket.

Examine Gauze Bucket of Styx Water: This bucket isn't on fire; it contains water from the river Styx.

We'll tackle the music room next.

The Hell Music Room: The tiles with the musical staves and notes actually give this hell pit something of a cheery air...but it is, after all, a hell pit, which means you'd better watch your step.

Alice Trenton: The Former Secretary of Defense, Alice Trenton, is held captive.

Talk to Alice Trenton

Woo, nice bondage hood. I never knew Secretaries of Defense were so kinky. Well, I did always have my suspicions about Rumsfeld.

Hold on, Ms. Trenton. We're here to rescue you. Are you in pain?

Hell yes, I'm in pain! My whole body feels like it's on fire.

OK, we're going to rescue her. Any suggestions, big guy?

I dunno, I thought it was your turn to have an inspiration.

The glowing stones embedded in the floor emit tones when they're stepped on. Only way to free me from my bonds is to put pressure on the stones in the correct order. Herodias keeps telling me to shut up, that "silence is golden" and "silence is my only chance of getting out of here alive". Then he starts playing the harp and singing some verse: "Murder the dumb / torture the meek / with the scent of death / and the gnashing of teeth". Something about silence and that verse must be the key to my rescue, but I haven't figured it out.

What order is that?

Don't you think I'd be telling you if I knew it?

Just hold on!

This one's pretty easy. The clues about "silence" refer to silent letters in the demon's song: dum[B], tortur[E], s[C]ent, de[A]th, and [G]nashing. All we have to do is push the floor tiles with the B, E, C, A, and G notes, in that order.

Took you long enough! Now, then, I assume you can get me out of here?

That's easily done. You should feel it happening any second now.

A cutscene is supposed to happen here, and sometimes it does, but the trigger for it seems a bit flaky; sometimes it happens quite a bit later. For example, even though it specifically refers to two rescues, it didn't happen for this runthrough until I'd rescued five prisoners. I'll put it in here, though, where it's supposed to happen.

Well, isn't this lovely? What heroes they must consider themselves! Two people rescued by our gallant ARC renegades! In and out of hell unsinged, and no sign of the Imperator! How special they must feel...aaahahahaha! It's a trap, you dumb little shits; come into my web!

Oh man, Cyborg Grace Jones is totally on to us. Well, nothing for it but to continue with the mission. To the Ratroom!

The Ratroom: The space of this subterrane seems eerily vacant...until you notice the huge rat traps, and then the mysterious tubes; they're clear, but smeared on the inside with some kind of slime...

Dingo Tucker: Dingo Tucker's face is frozen in sheer terror as he is suspended in a series of tubes. Husky, hungry rats race through the tubes looking for a way to get at Dingo's flesh.

So Dingo's trapped in a series of tubes, in a VR representation of hell...a twofold prisoner of the internet. Poor bastard.

Talk to Dingo Tucker

Oh, god, rats! I hate rats!

Tucker, are you hurt? Are you all right?

Hell no, I'm not all right! Rats are my worst nightmare. I can practically feel them crawling over me. I hear them scratching and chirping. I feel their weight against me when they throw themselves against the tubes...and they're hungry! They're gonna get me. They're gonna eat my skin!

Just hold on. We'll get you out of there. The rats aren't real. This whole thing, all of hell, it's just a computer construct.

You crazy, girl? Cain't you feel the heat? Look at the teeth on those buggers! They can flay the tissue off a bone in under a minute's time!

Just hold on another second, and I'll smash the tubes.

No! Don't do that, ya fool! These rats are wild; they'll chew us up if they git out. You gotta find some other way to free me, and hurry! I'm losin' my mind!

This is another simple inventory puzzle; all we have to do is dump some of the dentist's laughing gas into the tubes.

Ahh, you killed 'em, compadres. You cain't know how this feels. You can just rot here, you disease-ridden beasts!

They're not real, Dingo. We were trying to tell you, but you were too frightened to hear it. All of hell is a virtual reality construct that the government uses to create fear.

Well, they do a damn fine job of it, let me tell you! And how do you mean, "virtual"? Ain't a deck or a system I know of that can generate anything near this complex.

Front techs will explain it to you. Your body's currently jacked into a machine at the Pentagon. Burr's got a woman there who'll see you out safely. Hold on; she'll pull you out any moment.

Next stop: the zoo!

"Dead Reptile"?

The Hell Zoo: Things seem to have flip-flopped in hell's version of a zoo; the only visible beast is the one guarding the caged human.

Machalus: Everything about him says "not too smart". A second opinion would grant that he is ugly, too. However, like a stick of dynamite, it doesn't really matter how bright he is; he has a wide killing radius.

Eddy Commerce: A wiry, bearded man kneels with his arms tied to a large railroad tie behind his back. Rendered immobile, he still seems to pace with restless energy, an intellect that can't quit racing: the proverbial motormouth.

Jar of Food: This glass jar is full of what looks like rancid gravy with large chunks of meat. The outside of the jar is caked with a crust of dried slop.

Staff: Close inspection reveals that this is no walking staff; it's sharpened at one end, and is more clearly an instrument of torture.

Floating Beasts: Small, hand-sized beasts that don't have wings, yet somehow seem to levitate and fly.

Zoo Keys: The keys to the zoo resemble the keys to some medieval dungeon...which, in a way, they are.

Rachentieren: Hell's answer to pit bulls. A little smaller, maybe, but who's looking at their body? It's hard to see past their teeth.

In our usual kleptomaniacal style, we'll grab both jars, the staff, some floating beasts, and the keys. Using the keys on the Rachentieren's cage gets us messily disemboweled in a bit of video clipped directly from the death-against-Sanguinarius scene. So don't do that!

Talk to Machalus

Go'way. Me busy. Torture you later.

Oh, no, we insist. Torture us now.

This one could be tricky, Rach.

I'll say. We could laser this guy in the forehead, and he probably wouldn't notice. You gotta admire somebody that has that kind of concentration.

Talk to Eddy Commerce

Hey, it's great to be back in hell again, although it's a little quiet out there; this could be the sound of that one hand clapping you hear so much about. Solux baby, you out there? I can't see the audience 'cause of the stage lights.

Bet no audience ever stab you before. Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.

Ahhh! Auuuughh! That's where you're wrong, you pinhead. You know how comedians are always saying "You're killin' me, you're killin' me"? What the hell you think they're talking about?

I'd tell you not to worry, that this is all virtual, but you'd probably keep talking anyway.

Why is it beautiful women always have the IQ of a fence post? I could use a break here, you morons! I'm running low on material fit for the thinking impaired. Ahhhh! Of course, I'm saving all the good stuff for Solux. I know you're coming, you asexual asshole! I figure you're late 'cause you can't decide what to wear. But seriously, folks, what a leader, huh? No chance of corruption or scandal with Solene Solux! No chance they're ever gonna catch ol' Solene doing to his-her secretary what he-she's been doing to the country for years!

No bad talk Solux!

Ahhh! Auuuugh!

I wouldn't mind taking down the steroid case with the cattle prod, but I say we leave the twerp tied up.

Let's take care of the keeper and let funny boy figure the rest out for himself.

Talk to Eddy Commerce again
Are you waiting for your waitress to serve you? Because I think she's on break! What, do I have to spell it out for you? OK...H-E-L-P, you dig?

More inventory stuff here: we use the jar of food on Machalus, then unlock the Rachentieren's cage.

Instead of eating us, the Rachentieren chases the food-covered demon offscreen, allowing us to free Commerce at our leisure.

Well, it took you long enough. You know, my father never mentioned the possibility of crucifixion, although he did always tell me that wise guys end up sidewise. Of course, ol' daddy-o oughta know; he's been horizontal for ten years now.

We now have everything we need to solve the ice field, so that'll be the site of our next rescue.

The Hell Ice Field: It's so cold here that one can only imagine the glaciers on the horizon are approaching rapidly; one victim seems to have already been overtaken.

Conklin Danforth: Conklin Danforth, wealthy financier to the revolution, is encased in a block of ice near Cocytus, the frozen hell lake.

Seeing as he's frozen solid, we can't talk to Danforth, and if we try to walk across the ice, we fall through to our deaths.

Solution: floating beasts...

...followed by firewater.

Brrrrr! Th-th-th-th-thank you. S-s-s-s-so c-c-c-c-cold!

That's five! Last up for now, the Wall of Flame.

The Wall of Flame Hellpit: Between the Wall of Flame itself and the skulls tossed casually about, this hell pit seems more of a charnel than any of the other hell pits. It's as if all of the demons have tossed their scraps here, and forgotten them...forgotten the victim suspended behind the flame, too.

Steam Hole: A sharp, high-pressure blast of steam.

Prudence Alala: Prudence Alala suffers hell as it's traditionally known, roaring flames and searing heat.

Talk to Prudence Alala

Apparently Senatorial staffers are also a little on the kinky side.

Hang on, Prudence. Senator Burr sent us here to rescue you.

Rescue me? What do you have in mind? Just gonna stroll across that moat of flame? My bonds are easily undone. It's getting across that moat that's the problem. The heat's unbearable! Don't know how much longer I can stand it!

Hold on! We'll do what we can.

Hurry! The pain is terrible!

This requires a bit of timing, but it's nothing too complicated. You have to put the steel lid (acquired back in Mr. Beautiful's pit) over the steam hole between bursts, then quickly move to stand on it.

*poom* Whee!

My god, you did it! You made it across the moat!

You're safe now. Any moment, and you'll feel yourself fading away. I think you'll be surprised when you reach the other end!

Anything's got to be better than this. I can't believe I'm saved...that I'll live to see Senator Burr again, and that I'll live to fight Solux one more time.

And with that, all six of the initial batch of hell prisoners have been rescued, replenishing a healthy chunk of Burr's shadow government. Next time on IPAT: Hell...the Psionic Leeeeeeeague.