Insert apologies and lame excuses for the slow pace here! I have kind of been dreading the Psionic League subplot, though, for most of the same reasons I hated dealing with Gang Alley. It's not that the psionics' story isn't interesting; it's certainly a lot more engaging than the Clean Machine and Deadly Seven. It's mainly that there is a huge pile of characters involved, a lot of events to muddle through, and the whole thing is put together like dialogue was going out of style. Oh,'s not like this segment is going to get any shorter, so let's hurry on to the Psionic League HQ!

Psionic League Headquarters: You'd think the Psionics could just phone it in, but no, they maintain this general storefront/reception area at their headquarters in order to interface with the public. The posters...especially the one over the door...are a reminder to members and recruitables alike that psionic powers can be as dangerous to the individual as to society.

Kaitlin Connor (left): A young woman focuses her telekinetic energies as she hones her skills.

Batch Hachardo (right): A member of the psionic league eyes you suspiciously.

I love the name Batch Hachardo. It's fun to say. Try it! Batch Hachardo. Batch Hachardo! BATCH HACHARDO

Talk to Kaitlin Connor

Looks like you're working hard.

Columbus pushes us past our endurance and then some, but it's the only way to develop our powers. Talk to him yourself; you'll see. He's in the next room with Suzy Toast, who's an ideal example of the work Columbus does here. She was wilding the streets with a rogue named Splits Magnola. She got off on using her powers to hurt other people. Columbus had a big effect on her. She's become one of his most trusted assistants. It's almost like a father-daughter relationship between them now. ...I'm sorry, but speaking with you is distracting me. I'm afraid I'll drop the ball, and I'm working on a new personal endurance record.

Talk to Connor again
Not now. This thing is getting heavy.

Talk to Batch Hachardo

Hey, folks, zero in on Kate! She's had that ball moving for close to half an hour. Spatola's put her on an endurance circuit. She's to keep the ball going for as long as she can.

What about you? You're a telepath as well?

I'm not a mover or a looker. I'm a rare one: a synesthete. My perception of sensory data blends so that I perceive one sense in terms of another. Colors taste, sounds are tactile, smells prompt visions, and I can never predict how the senses will sort themselves.

Fascinating. That must be difficult to live with.

Damn straight. I couldn't hold a job. Tried working in a restaurant, but I couldn't take customers' orders. They would ask for burgers and fries, and I would register it visualy as big yellow splotches dripping with grease. Tried driving a cab once, but I kept experiencing the road as a taste, and it gagged me so badly I couldn't drive.

You were experiencing the road as a taste?

And it was awful! Tasted like rotted flesh and motor oil. Took days to get that out of my mouth. That was the end of my career as a driver. I was fast-tracking to derelict status before Columbus took me in and taught me mastery over my powers.

Talk to Batch again
Whoa! I just flashed a color aura on you two. Icy blues, brooding blacks and grays, and some explosive reds. You two must be out to put a serious hurting on someone.

Nothing important to be done with these two; they're just here for seasoning. We'll head through that door on the right.

Psionic League Thinktank: The thinkers' thinktank - the strategic planning room for the Psionic League's braintrust. The need for a vidscreen shows, perhaps, the limits of their power; the globe, sticking out of the conference table like an exposed brain, their desired sphere of influence.

Columbus Spatola (left): A formidable man keeps several balls afloat telekinetically.

Suzy Toast (right): A young, pleasant-looking woman practices her telekinetic skills.

Suzy TOAST? Hell, we really need to sit down and have a chat about your naming tendencies.

Talk to Suzy Toast

Have you come to join the League?

Not quite. We're hoping that the League can join us. We've got some serious problems that need psionic attention.

You'd better talk to Columbus. He's the founder of the League. We take our lead from him.

Talk to Suzy again
Really, you should speak with Columbus about the use of psionic powers.

OK, fair enough. Let's do that.

Talk to Columbus Spatola

Can I help you with something? Are you psionics seeking help using your gifts?

We aren't psionic, and actually, we've come to help you.

I'm not aware that I need any help.

You won't know, either, until it's too late. The Hand scrub teams don't usually call ahead to check if it's convenient for them to stop by.

You say the Hand wants to kill me? You've got my interest. Keep talking.

No orders have been issued yet, but your activities are giving some high-ups in the Transgressors' Office the shakes.

The Hand of God has nothing to fear from us. We aren't political, and we're sworn to never use our powers for gain. I thank you for the warning, however.

Talk to Spatola again
No use repeating your warning about the Transgressor. I'd rather be dead than cease my work.

That's your problem, Spatola. We have more important business. The Hand wants us dead for sins we haven't committed, and you might be the only person who can help us.

No, no, no. I can't help you. The League cannot be distracted from its chief purpose, the development of psionic power for its own sake. We can't become involved in things like this, no matter how important the cause.

But surely this is significant enough...

The gift is too easily corrupted. A psionic's power is as natural to him as your sight is to you. It requires discipline and effort NOT to use the power. Any use for individual gain, political advantage, profit...any exception...shatters the discipline, leaves the psionic open to corruption. I know. I've seen it happen too often, seen too many good people lose themselves.

Columbus, surely you...

No. Really, I'm sorry. The League's not touching something that could destroy it.

Talk to Spatola again
Listen, I told you I won't involve the League in this. Your empathic auras are aglow with sincere passion, and I can't help but feel your intensity, but you'll have to look elsewhere. Lord knows there are plenty of psionics willing to sell their gifts.

I don't think we're going to get anything more out of Professor X Columbus. Maybe Ms. Toast will be a little more forthcoming now that we've met her mentor.

Talk to Suzy Toast
I heard what you and Columbus were talking about. You need psionic help?

Looks that way, but from what Columbus was talking about, it doesn't look like we're going to find it here.

Don't be too sure about that. I owe Columbus a great deal, but not all of us are as strict as he is about non-intervention.

So you're volunteering to help us out of this mess with the Hand? What's in it for you?

I'm not the one who's going to help you. That would violate my principles as well, and cost me Columbus's trust and friendship. No, there's someone else who might help you, someone who has already fallen from grace, someone I still might redeem. His name is Splits Magnola. He was a member of the League once, but Splits...Splits was a free spirit. He was jazzed on mind-surfing, couldn't resist the touch of another's mind, and he couldn't submit to Columbus's authority.

He read a few minds, big deal. I'd probably do the same thing if I were psionic.

It's not as simple as that. The power is seductive. Splits started out innocently enough...skim a woman's mind to see if she's interested, project a scan during a card game to see if anyone's cheating... but it's a small step from there to planting an urge in a woman's mind, or looking at someone's cards through their eyes, or playing all the hands at the table, making people throw away cards they should have kept. Things like that. Once you're inside, once you're inside, once you flash on the brain's unending possibilities, you can't resist exploring...and Splits was careless, lacked the mastery to be gentle. He would make mistakes, mistakes that left permanent brain damage.

All right, so Splits is a Rudy, and he got blackballed from your club. Why should we want to hook up with a disrep like him, and what's your share in this?

Splits isn't the lost cause Columbus thinks he is. I know him. He isn't evil, just weak.

"Know him"? You mean you two were lovers? Sorry, girl, we don't have time to run love errands. You want your boyfriend back, YOU go get him.

Jesus, Rachel. Were you forced to leave your Not Be a Huge Bitch medication back at the apartment when the scrub team busted in?

Oh, you're a tough one, aren't you? I wouldn't have him back if he wanted me. Sex is different between psionics. We share countless connections, body entwined with body, mind pressed hard against mind. I've been inside his head, and I'd never trust him enough to love him, but I know that I can't let him destroy himself. The last we heard of him, he was involved with a gang of psionic psychotics calling themselves the Menials. They work the black market for empathic resonances in order to fund their drug habits. If you can get him away from the Menials and bring him here, we might be able to save him from himself, and gain you a psionic ally.

Maybe we're interested. Where do we find the Menials?

They have a dive near the Capital South station.

And they're dealing in empathics, right? What's their source? They aren't just randomly panning the malls, are they?

All I know is that they're strip-mining pure emotion from the patients in a mental hospital. I don't know which hospital. For that matter, it might be a no-name crisper, just keeping the patients alive and scared so the emotions keep coming. The Menials have to be stopped, and you can help me.

Why should we?

Because that's my price for helping you with Splits. You bring him here, and I'll see what he helps you. The Menials aren't empaths...they don't care about they have to employ collector units, they call them "diggers", to help them harvest emotional energy. If you can bring me one of the diggers, I'm certain I can add a cyberfry to it that will stop them. Help me stop the Menials and bring Splits to me, and I'll make certain he helps you.

Talk to Suzy again
You don't have the digger. Don't disappoint me. Too much is at stake.

As you might expect, the Menials HQ now appears on the DC Map, in the Capitol South area. To the ARCmobile!

Menials' World Headquarters: The Menials' World Headquarters seems like a crash pad for college boys drummed out of their frat house for being too rowdy and slovenly...and, of course, there's nothing in the fridge but beer.

Mick: A Menial slumps in his chair, all bad attitude and unfocused anger.

Refrigerator: The Menials' refrigerator is always well-stocked with Ausgezeichnet Alt Brau, their beer of choice. Mick routinely levitates bottles from the refrigerator to ease his seemingly unquenchable thirst.

Collector Unit (on table): By clamping the jacks to their victim's nervous system, psionics can use this device to collect empathic resonances.

If we try to grab the collector, the game just tells us we can't do that with Mick watching. Crap.

Talk to Mick

Whazza? Who're you? You're lucky I've been partying all day, or I'd scan all your secrets.

If I even think I feel your drunken presence stumbling through my mind, I'll shoot you full of holes.

Got yourself a killer, Charlie. She must rough your ass up good.

You're disgusting!

"I haven't been into pegging since that one time at the Academy!"

Listen, here's the pitch. We're out of Chicago, jobbing for a Yakuza family that's branching out from designer drugs to experiential imprints. Supply's reliable. Got a pair of surgeons in the Central Clinic giving us access to anaesthetized patients.

Menials got wallet enough, Jack. We're stripping empathics from the loonies in Arioch Asylum over in Foggy Bottom. The Nations are paying serious coin, and there's no detente between the Japs and the Redskins. Circuits-Overloading and his braves would have our scalps for dealing with Yakuza. That's that, Jack. You two can leave me to my beer now.

Well, at least he spilled the location of the asylum. Guess where we're headed next!

Asylum Waiting Area: What looks like a holding pen for cattle is actually the former dining area of this once-prestigious sanitarium. The modern addition of a barbed wire-topped fence reveals that patients are often herded here while waiting to be taken off to patient areas for "treatment". At other times, it's where the Ghost Dancer, Phyllis Dancing-Till-Daybreak, holds office and issues instructions to her staff of Menials.

Phyllis Dancing-Till-Daybreak (right): A large woman with eyes like burning coal supervises the havoc being wreaked upon the unfortunate in the next room of the asylum. Dressed in Indian clothes, she looks like some smug, demented earth mama.

Clap (left): A nasty-looking Brit in leather smokes and scowls. Pity the asylum patient left to this fellow's mercy.

Talk to Phyllis Dancing-Till-Daybreak

Well, lookee here. My people used to say that evil spirits walked the earth at night...

Well, then, your ancestors must be real proud of you! Those your henchmen out there, sucking these people dry? You're Phyllis Dancing-Till-Daybreak, right? Looks like you're the evil spirit now, lady.

It's something to see, isn't it? My people, hard at work, mining the white man for natural resources. The Great Spirit has brought us full circle!

Yeah, either that or you're a common, run of the mill sociopath.

And what do you mean, "your people"? The Menials look like a bunch of white trash to me, not Indians.

I know exactly how to use these scum. They are an evil I control completely. Besides, I am a Ghost Dancer. We are impervious.

Bullets bounce off you, right?

Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Yes...something like that.

And you have no qualms about messing with people's souls the way you're doing here?

None. Perhaps you'd prefer that I simply slit their pale throats? I've done that, too! ...But I find it more satisfying to leave them wandering, soulless, the same way your people left my ancestors wandering the sparse confinement of the reservation. That's the thing about whites; you feel no responsibility toward your ancestors. I honor mine, and take pleasure in revenge.

Not to mention a healthy profit.

You think I care for the white man's money? My wampum comes to me in the currency of bloody, soul-shattering retribution. I plan to devour them. I'm going to take their money from them, their feelings, their emotions, their souls.

That must be how you got your name, huh? Phyllis Dancing-Till-Daybreak, because you're such a happy sort.

Do not mock me, demon, or it will be your blood dripping from my chin.

That would be "chins", and don't kid yourself, tubby. People like you are only tough enough when it comes to beating up on wrecked people they find in asylums. You mess with us, it's gonna be your own blood you're tasting.

I have to admit, that first line was a pretty good burn on Rachel's part. She's probably been looking to recoup ever since the robot uterus shut her down back at New Corporeals.

My, my, my...all this talk of blood has my taste buds tingling! Are you really feeling all that lucky?

Kind of an interesting character, Phyllis, if a bit heavy on the stereotypes. She never comes up again after this conversation, but she's one of the more colorful one-off flavor roles, I reckon.

Talk to Clap

Ah, visitors to our humble institution. Make yourselves at home. How might we help you? A parent or relative you wish to have committed?

Can the sales pitch, Clap. We're facing for a megacorp in Manhattan that needs a few hundred terabytes of pure existential fear and sex drive. Can you harvest something like that from this dump?

Pump up the boys on runners and work them a few days straight, they can fill any order, especially fear. There's plenty of fear here. Who the hell did you say you're working for, anyhow?

Megacorp in Manhattan.

Take a look in the next room, and you tell me if your bugger-happy paymasters in New York can drill brain shafts like a Menial!

(Tell us about Splits Magnola)
You know how to queer a deal, Yank. Splits wasn't really a Menial, although he partied with us and went psionic wilding a few times. He lost his nerve, though, when he showed him this mining gig. He took a powder on us and made off with a multi-terabyte d-base of empathic data that's worth millions! I don't know where he thinks he's going with it or who the hell he's sellin' it to. You don't just walk into a pawn shop with six terabytes of illegal emotions!

So you're after this Splits guy?

I don't care if Splits washes up in a trash heap along the Potomac, but I want that d-base back, and I've hired a gun from the Midwest...calls himself Milwaukee track Splits until he's stupid enough to flash that d-base, and then the Mil-Jack is going to do him!

Splits must be pretty paranoid if he's running from you. How's Jack gonna evade Splits's mind scans?

The Mil-Jack is psionic as well. Better than Splits, too. He won't even see it coming. Splits thinks his powers make him safe, so he drinks in the same bar every night, a speak called Fitzgerald's.

Fitzgerald's? I know that place! It's over near L'Enfant Plaza.

(How do you mine the empathics?)
How do you mine the empathics?

That's right, pump me for information so that you can rip off our tech! Not that you'd be able to dupe it or have psis ace enough to pull it off.

Didn't ask you for a how-to. Just checking that your action backs up your talk.

Right, if we can do it better than New York, we must be lying! The secret's in the power of the Menials and the efficiency of the diggers. A mind link isn't simple, right? A brain's not just some freakin' computer! Takes countless parallel neural transfers to create the simplest images or concepts.

So it's a complex job.

Yeah, it's a complex job. No two brain structures are alike, either. Mining the empathics would take too bloody long if a psi had to prep each dig. Luckily, the Nations had some genius tech come up with the diggers. You program them for specific neural energies and the diggers channel the psi's power to where he can start mining. Go on, look about. You think the wankers in New York can match our act? Not bloody likely!

Will do! Thanks, Chlamydia! We can amble off the screen to the right from here, bringing us to another room in the facility.

The Asylum Dormitory: Few people are ever given the chance to sleep in the beds lining this musty, rat-infested room, where the walls seem pockmarked from the searing agonies of the residents, past and present, and the weird thing that looks like an electric chair seems permanently galvanized from those sounds, too.

Cora Bora (leftmost): A woman is having her empathic resonances ripped from her psyche by a sadistic Menial. A manic depressive, her mind wrestles with the infidelity crime for which she was institutionalized.

Cora Bora. Hell. NAMES. Rumor has it Bin Laden might be hiding somewhere in this woman.

Hump (left): A Menial is draining the empathic resonances from a patient. It's evident that this cold, heartless bastard is in this for the pure pleasure of it, as well as for money he'll undoubtedly make on the black market.

Rita Troit (right): The demeanor of housewives hasn't changed much over the years, except that this one has a frazzled, exhausted, terrified look that comes from something other than watching the kids.

Chet (rightmost): A Menial uses a collector unit...a extract empathic resonances from a patient.

Talk to Cora Bora

You ougtta watch me drain this one's brain. It's like soft-serve, man. Must be secret. Getaway.

Spill it, bitch!

Yes! Yes! Naughty, naughty! Tuesdays, and Thursdays too! Sneaky dirty. Damnation be damned. The hell with it!

That's it. This one's spent.

Talk to Hump

Hey, get a load of this! These old bitches are a motherlode, man. The guilt, sex, vague dissatisfaction...hormonal rollercoaster!

Looks like you're in this for more than the money.

Better than any holovid, man. It's real, man!

Real pathetic.

Hey, you gonna let me suck this basket case dry, or are you gonna be my next drain?

Go right ahead. You say you make out pretty good on these?

You kiddin'? Some accountant somewhere will pay enough for a smut bit to keep me livin' like a freakin' Hand Legislator for a month...and the best thing is, once they start gettin' a taste, they crave the harder stuff. ...Yeah, yeah. I heard that already, baby. Open up! Listen, I'm gonna have to work this one harder than I expected. Get lost!

Talk to Hump again
C'mon, Cora baby, gimme somethin'. Anything! Dammit, I'm not gettin' nothin' on her. What, did someone give her a lobotomy or what? Who knows, in this freakin' toilet of a hospital.

Talk to Rita Troit

Geez, Gid, I don't know who's more zoned out, this poor woman or the friggin' vampire Menial. Should we take a chance and try to talk with her?

It's worth a try. Hey, lady, can you talk while you're, uh...

Talk, listen, answer, do as told, ignore...lies, don't believe, talk back nice...don't tell, don't tell, don't tell...

It's OK, it's OK! We're not with the Menials.

We're just looking for someone. friends, not since hell. Just...husband, no lover, husband, no lover...

Ask her, Gid. She's breaking my heart!

Magnola, lady. Splits Magnola.

Splits, Splitsville, split up, won't let me go...

It's hopeless, Rach. It's like she's been condemned to hell forever.

Talk to Chet

Don't fight it now, girl. Don't fight it. Give me something pleasant.

Love...mother father warm wet Carrie womb die for you red mommy daddy. Ooooeeeehhh!

That's it, girl. Slight change now.

There's nothing we can do here, for now. That'll change soon enough, but for the moment, we'd better just move on to Fitzgerald's speakeasy and find Splits.

Fitzgerald's Speakeasy: The checkerboard floor comprises a virtual sobriety test for the patrons of this upper-middle-class speak. They rarely notice it, though, as they are too busy slumming by watching professional wrestling on the holovid, which sometimes gets them so excited, it's a good thing the rifle on the wall is safely out of reach.

Splits Magnola (leftmost): A man who looks as though he were born guilty slumps in a chair, contemplating a drink.

Carla Prince (left): A woman in brick-textured tights attends the bar with great calm.

Milwaukee Jack (middle): A lean man with a sociopathic stare pretends to relax in the speakeasy.

Lissa Couerter (right): A rough-looking woman strokes the hair of the man sitting next to her. Both intently watch the fights on the vid.

Ged Dandy (rightmost): A bar patron and his date watch the fights on the vid screen.

Ausgezeichnet Alt Brau (on bar): The Excellent Old Beer first brewed by the Nazis in Berlin, this is the label of the upper crust in the days of the Solux regime.

Tiger's Eye Lager (on bar): The snooty brew of choice for 2069's happening, now, upwardly-mobile-in-their-dreams people. Guaranteed to get you the car, the girl, or at least unconscious.

Shotgun (far left, on wall): When the design is good, you stick with it. A classic shotgun, first developed in the late nineteenth century, and essentially unchanged since.

Fitz Vid Screen (left, on wall): Sporting events play out on the bar's vid screen. The place seems to be packed with sports fans; all the patrons seem to have their eyes glued to the screen.

We can't take the shotgun or monitor, but we sure can grab the beers, and so we do. Lots of folks to talk to in here.

Talk to Ged Dandy

You two fight fans, huh? Here to watch the fights?

You two ever see the Cross-Species Slugfest in Natchez, Mississippi? Cyber-amped bears taking on rabid wolfpacks, rams with explosive-charged horns, humans fighting mammals of all sizes...whoo-ee!

Talk to Ged again
Hey, you gonna sit down and watch these fights? You're makin' me nervous with all the walking around.

Talk to Lissa Couerter

Don't block the view, Rudy! My man Whip crushin with Spike Bronze, a puncher out of Mexico City.

Big fight, huh?

Got me and my man Ged in a lather! Whip's the best metal thrower, but Spike's never been down. They're both so even is what it is. Both are recons, with Fenner-Walters torso architecture, mechs in the torso juicin' up every punch. Spike's undefeated in Mexico, but Whip's no Aztec. He come up fightin' from Louisiana, dominated the Dallas Hub battle royals. He gonna drive Spike into the canvas.

Talk to Lissa again
Hey, I said don't 'scure the screen! Fights are happenin'.

Talk to Milwaukee Jack

Good game, eh?

We're not sports fans.

Something on your mind, folks? I'm trying to relax. I'm kinda tense.

Talk to Carla Prince

Ye gods! They weren't kidding about those brick-printed tights. They can't be too good for her Camo Index against that background, though. The GRU's gonna find you, Carla!

I can make a pair of disreps from forty paces. You two got predator's eyes. Fitz don't abide hunting in his place. People here just lookin' for a safe place to watch the fights. You got bad business with someone, take it outside.

What do you know about those two guys, the jack with the beard and the punk with the shifty eyes?

See, you're starting something. I knew you were here to start something! The kid is Splits Magnola. Been in and out for a few years, but lately he's been a real regular. Don't trust anybody, even though he's a psi and can probably tell who's gonna rat him out. Big spender these days, like he did a big job or something.

What about the scary guy?

Been coming in steady for a few weeks. I thought he was trouble at first...I'm certain he's packing...but he's been steady. Guess there's no crime in LOOKING like a killer, huh?

Talk to Carla again
Whatever it is, take it somewhere else. We got enough problems here.

The upcoming puzzle is a bit broken. It's necessary to talk to Splits in order to get a hint on what to do next, but talking to him usually results in his death immediately after the conversation ends. Occasionally it doesn't happen, but that's rare, and there doesn't seem to be any real rhyme or reason as to whether or not the chat with Splits triggers his assassination. It is, therefore, a real good idea to save the game before swapping yarns with Mr. Magnola.

Talk to Splits Magnola

You're Splits.

Hold it, Daddy. I'm glimpsing your short-term memory, and I'm glommin' on Suzanne P. Toast, who's only the most psycho bitch I've ever met except for maybe my morphine-crazed mother. Whatever you're pushin', if it's got Suzy involved, I ain't interested.

Stay out of my head, you damn psi. Suzy and Columbus said you got your kicks from screwing with people's heads.

Yeah, like Saint Suzy would never do something like that. Don't speak. Think. Just think it, and I'll hear it, but nobody else will. I gotta be a little careful these days.

What're you saying, Splits?

Just sayin' that Toaster Pastry's got her dark spots like everyone else. What d'ya want? You can't reall be here just 'cause of Suzy.

Haw, even Splits makes fun of Suzy's name.

Actually, we're here to warn you about a gun your old pals from the Menials have contracted to kill you. He's sitting over there. Goes by the name of Milwaukee Jack.

Damn, I'm not packin'! You two are gonna have to help me. There's a gun hanging over the bar. I don't have to move to levitate and fire it, but he might get hot to my play. Throwin' up a shield around your thoughts is one thing, but cloaking a telepathy is something else. I might manage it, but I might not, and then the Jack there will blow my head off. If you two can create a diversion, I'll be able to get a jump on him.

Diversion? Like what?

Who cares? Anything, so long as it's something big. Make it something that'll involve the losers in this place, something that'll create an emotional response...what we call a psychic event. Hopefully, that will confuse him long enough for me to cash his chips.

And yep, right on cue, before I can do anything else...

...Jack jumps up, pulls a gun...

...and shoots Splits dead as a can of Spam.

Talk to Milwaukee Jack
Unless you want to end up like your friend Splits, you'll just walk out of here and forget you ever saw that.

Talk to Carla Prince
You two better make vapor. I don't want to see you around here. Leave me with the damn janitor work. Damn, what a mess. Wind up in hell for sure this time!

Ged and Lissa have absolutely nothing to say about the murder that just took place in the other half of the speakeasy. Anyway, we are now officially boned; it's impossible to complete the game without Splits.

So, we reload, and use the Tiger's Eye Lager (we'll be needing the Ausgezeichnet Alt Brau later) on the vidscreen. Since we haven't actually spoken to Magnola about creating a diversion, this basically means Gideon decides to rear back and heave a beer bottle through the monitor for no reason whatsoever.

Splits, as suggested by the parallel universe in which he died, Jedis the shotgun over from the wall and...

Wait a minute. Wasn't that supposed to be a "classic shotgun", essentially unchanged from the original design back in the 19th century? Because I'm pretty sure they don't fire lasers.

Talk to Carla Prince
Damn, I told you to do the job someplace else! This is bad, bad, bad.

You're as steady as a rock. Gunplay doesn't shake you?

What shakes me is Solene Solux putting our asses on a raft heading down the Styx and burning us for twenty. I don't want to see your face in here again. I'll do the cleanup on this guy. Don't trust you two doing the job right.

Talk to Lissa Coeurter
You better get lost before Fitz learns what you did to the vid!

Talk to Splits Magnola
Nice work! Maybe this will back the Menials off for a while. Man, Fitzgerald's gonna want to kill me when he sees what you did to the vid.

OK, Splits, we helped you wipe out the Jack. You owe us.

Don't get pushy, sweetie. I sincerely appreciate the save, but don't think I couldn't have handled Milwaukee here without your help. I'll come with you as long as you take me to Suzy Toast. I can't have that frail sendin' people after me.

What is it with you two? Suzy seemed disgusted with you.

Disgusted 'cause she doesn't have her hooks in me.

You could do worse than Suzy Toast, Splits.

Just take my word for it, she's bad news. I'll go with you, but only if you agree to take me to the League so that I can case-close that woman. Then we'll see about my helping you. You ready to shoot?

We'll pass for the moment, because we can't finish the Menials subquest with Splits in the group, and we've already got a full party. We'll only need Scub Stevens for one more thing, though...which we'll do while finishing up with the Menials...and then we can swap him out for Magnola.

Why don't you two debug your circuits and decide what you want from me? Let me figure how I'm gonna explain this vid to Fitz.

So, we roll on back to Menials World Headquarters...

...and use Scub's dream powder on the Brau.

Examine Drugged Ausgezeichnet Alt Brau: This particular bottle of Ausgezeichnet Alt Brau packs a bit more of a wallop than usual. It's laced with a heavy sedative.

You may recall that the Menials' fridge is full of Ausgezeichnet. We slip our doped bottle into the fridge, and the next time Mick magics a bottle into his mouth, he gets the ringer...

...and obligingly passes out. We're now free to collect the collector, and take it back to Toast at the League HQ.

Talk to Suzy Toast
We have the digger you wanted, and we've learned that the Menials are working Arioch Asylum.

You've decided to help me, then? I'm so relieved! This is a Psionic Distorter, a cyberfry. It creates a distortion effect in a radius of two hundred yards, causing intense psionic feedback along any external cerebral circuit.

Cut to the chase, girlie.

It will fry the Menials' brains like a large order of fries. They won't be able to harm the inmates at Arioch anymore, and I'll have done it without using my powers against anyone.

What good does that do? It's only one gang, one hospital. There are others.

It's just a start, Rachel, but it's a good start.

Examine Collector with Cyberfry: A cyberfry device that has been combined with a collector unit, then altered to counter the effects of both individual devices.

Talk to Suzy again
You must hurry and stop the Menials. I sense that time is running out for Splits.

We've already solved his little hitman problem, but no matter. Next on the agenda: return to the asylum, and use the cyberfry on Hump or Chet; activating it on either Menial will hit them all with its effects.

C'mon, baby, gimme some...oh, god! What the hell are we doin' in this tunnel? It hurts my eyes! What the hell...aaaagh! The pain! My brain is comin' out through my ears! Help me! Oh, god, help me!


Talk to Cora Bora
Thank you. Oh, my god, thank you!

Talk to Rita Troit
I'm free! Thank god, I'm free!

Stay strong, Rita Troit.

Back to the other room...

Talk to Clap
Aaarrrgghhh! What the bloody hell have you done?! I'm bleedin' out me nostrils, for god's sake. You've maimed me, you've ruined me! Aaaaaarrgggggh!

Oddly, Phyllis has nothing to say about any of this. Just like saving Oscar Drexler, the whole cyberfry business is completely can recruit Splits and take him back to League HQ immediately, which cuts you off from obtaining the cyberfry and shutting down the Menials, without penalty...but it's a nice thing to do, and I'm being more-or-less completionist here. Anyway, back to Fitz's.

Talk to Splits Magnola
Hey, family man. You decide whether you and the wife are gonna take me to Suzy?

This time we say yes. Since we've got a full party...

...the game prompts us to ditch one of our current bandmates. Scub's done everything we'll ever need of him, so as much as we'll miss our little chugmeister, we now release him back to the Interface from whence he came.

Let's do it!

Splits doesn't join with anything but his mad psionic skillz, but we'll definitely be needing them soon enough. Aaand so, once more back to League HQ.

Talk to Batch Hachardo
Splits? I thought I smelled a rat.

We'd better move Splits along before someone else tries to kill him.

I hate these damn synesthetes. So damn artsy and sensitive.

Connor has nothing new to say, but I'm sure Spatola and Toast will!

Talk to Columbus Spatola
I think you know this guy, Columbus.

Hmph. I know him.

I don't get a hug? I'm prodigal-sonning here, and you're high-hattin'. This isn't easy for me, y'know. I mean, you know, I gotta be registerin' all reds and yellows in your emotive centers.

The rest of the conversations in this update contain some psychic exchanges, which Gideon and Rachel don't hear. The game distinguishes these with an distortion effect on the characters' voices; I'll be putting them in parentheses.

(I told you when you left that you could never return.)

(Kiss my ass, Columbus. I'm only here because of these two ARC rejects, and I'm only hangin' with them because they helped me toast a Menials killjack.)

(ARC? These two are Containment knuckles? What's going on here?)

What's going on here? They having a staring contest?

Splits and I are getting (Are) reacquainted (you bringing), aren't we (the Hand down on us, Splits?), Splits?

(You think I'd Judas you to Solux's goons? How bad a guy do you think I am? I surfed their gray matter. They check out.)

(You scanned them without their permission, I assume.)

(They don't even know I was there. No headaches, no dizziness. I'm better than when you knew me, cuz!)

(You chose your fate when you sided with the Menials. You have too much to atone for to just walk in here and expect to be welcomed. Don't try corrupting Suzy Toast or...just watch yourself!)

(Careful, Columbus. You almost threatened to fry my circuits! Not a very League-like thing to do, is it?)

Talk to Spatola again
(You're not welcome here, Splits. Keep yourself in line, or we are going to clash.)

Talk to Suzy Toast
Game's up, Suzy. I scanned these two once they mentioned your name. They think you don't want me back, but I know better. Rachel here thinks you're pathetic. I agree with her, by the way. Ol' Gideon likes the look of your legs. I agree with him, too, although your ankles look a little heavier. While I was in their heads, I noticed massive scarring and memory overlays. They're holding something out on you. You should scan them, but then, you don't pierce the skull. I forgot, sorry. Doing a nice job blocking my scans, though.

My thoughts are my own. I got involved because I want to help you. When I learned you were running with the low can you fall, Splits?

Every jack strikes a bad bargain in his life. I bolted the Menials when I flashed on their op in Arioch. Managed to finger a d-base that should stake me for years. Interested in a vacation? Thailand's indoor beaches sound good to me!

You owe us your life, Magnola! Now we need your help.

I didn't ask you kids to get involved. I had Milwaukee Jack pegged and scanned. I knew his motives, his moves, his mother's maiden name. I'd have made Suzy Toast outta him, and I'd have done it without blowin' Fitzgerald's vid. Sorry, guys, but I don't do pro bono jobs.

(I've had enough!)

(Huh? Suzy?)

(I'm more powerful than before, Splits.)

(Get outta my head!)

(I'll show you the errors...)

(You want to fight, girl?)

(...of your way.)

('Cause I'll singe your synapses.)

(You can't stop...)

(Fry you as soon as I find you.)

( I've been preparing this for months.)

(Hey! Get out of there.)

(Preparing to introduce new Jung banks into your...)

(Christ, that hurts!)

(...eidetic studio.)

(Stop it, Suzy! I sense what you're doing, child, and I will not let it stand.)


(You'll make me a cripple!)


(Can stop you, child. Absorb your force.)

(Make you love me...)

(Gonna kill somebody MINDS COLLIDING LOOK OUT)

(Suzy, NO!)

(Make you over. You will love me, you will love me, you will love me, you will love me...)

(Oh, shit...there's nothing.)

(I've always loved you, Suzy.)

Gideon, what just happened? Why do I have a headache, and what's with these three?

Excess psychic discharge. Their minds just came together, hard.

Nothing. Nothin' there. My whole life...just a nothing that smells like whiskey.

This is one of my favorite lines in the game. Sometimes getting a good look in the mirror, with clear eyes, can be a hell of a thing.

Columbus? Do you...what I felt...?

There are no secrets when minds collide, Rachel. Apparently Suzy has more feelings for Splits than she was admitting to. You're out of the League, Suzy. You were attempting to cripple Splits, to force false memories and images into his mind to make him love you. After all of this work, all of this time...only to have you seduced by the power.

But said that you

False projection! I...I was...alarmed. Concerned that both of you would be killed. You've ruined what we had here, Suzy. You have two hours to vacate your chambers.

Crazy bitch! Almost...snif...killed me. You two still want a psionic, I'm yours. Maybe it's time I use these...snif...powers for something worthwhile. So long, Suzy. Try not to blow your circuits.

All wrong. This is all wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Talk to Spatola again
I'm sorry for that scene with Suzy. I feel...very protective of her.

And you've obviously got a problem with this Splits fellow.

Splits is a potent psionic, but he's morally weak and lacks discipline. He abused his gift and chose those demons in the Menials over the League, and he did his best to drag Suzy into ruin with him. I don't know what that girl sees in him. What could make her love someone like that?

What indeed? Also, sweet Christmas, does everything Gideon and Rachel touch turn to shit? Well, we've done enough damage here, and with Splits's allegiance secured and just a bit more prep work, we'll soon be able to pursue another avenue of Hand investigation to completion. 'Til then, folks!