By Any Means

As you pass by the Training Area, you see a man stumble and then lean heavily against the nearby wall. He slowly slides to the ground, his hands holding his head. Another man rushes to his side, crouching low to speak with the crumpled man.

Level: 10
Start: Augustine, Gym, Bordeaux Station

Introduction

You approach the men, who don't look up at you. The fallen one pulls a shaking hand away from his head, and scowls at its tremors. A light sheen of sweat coats his face and arms. The other one shakes his head sadly.

He says: Kosmas, what have you done to yourself?

Kosmas says: It wasn't intentional, Augustine. By the Black, you think I would do this on purpose?

  • "This doesn't concern me."
  • "Are you alright, ser?"

Doesn't concern me:

You wander off, leaving the men behind you.

Are you alright:

Kosmas raises bloodshot eyes to you, wincing as he does so.

Kosmas says: What? Oh, yes … no. I'm fracking terrible. Just … don't worry about me. I'll be fine, sorry.

You have accepted the "By Any Means" mission.

  • Shrug and walk away.
  • "Do you want me to help you to Sick Bay?"

He coughs and smiles weakly at you.

Kosmos says: There's no Sick Bay on Bordeaux. We have a few quacks who see people and a medic from Moemedi comes by every few days or so. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine. I'm just going through … withdrawal.

He sighs, his brow furrowing in anger. He clenches his fist, trying to stop the tremors. As he does so, his arm muscles bulge, making his tattoos almost ripple.

Augustine says: Stay there, I'm going to get you some water.

Augustine rises and nods to you curtly, then rushes back into the gym.

  • "This doesn't concern me."
  • "How'd you end up like this?"

Me: You seem like someone who takes care of their body. How'd you end up like this?

Kosmas scowls, making a shaking fist and gently pounding it into the knee he has drawn up to his chest. He shakes his head.

  • Convince him to talk to you.
  • Shrug and walk away.
  • Act protective.

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: Maybe I can help.

He sighs, then shrugs.

Augustine returns with a bottle of water which he offers to Kosmas, who takes it gratefully.

Augustine says: Yes, let's hear it.

Kosmas snorts gently, then nods.

  • "This doesn't concern me."
  • Listen to Kosmas' story.

Kosmas says: I didn't realize that I was eating protein bars that were laced with … you know, I still don't even know with what. I just bought a few because my buddies at the gym were going on and on about them. At first, it was great. I had a lot more energy, but I was also really relaxed. I could get in a good workout but … I don't know. I just felt really zen, you know?

He sighs, looking down at his trembling hands.

Kosmas says: I used to have some anger issues, and … well, they went away! So I started buying more bars. And then more. I didn't even realize I was addicted until I ran out the other day and found myself skipping work to wait in line for some more bars. That's when I tried to quit, but the withdrawal was so intense that I realized I needed to wean myself off.

He pauses, coughing. You realize that Augustine is looking at you intently.

  • "Go on, Kosmas."
  • "Why are you staring at me, Augustine?"

Augustine:

Me: Why are you staring at me, Augustine?

A slight smiles plays around his mouth.

Augustine says: It's nothing. Go on, Kosmas.

Kosmas says: I just bought another bunch yesterday morning. I only had half a bar to start, but wow. I couldn't even move. It wasn't like any of the other times. This was like … like everything was turned up to eleven. I woke up with foam coming out of my mouth. I think I'm lucky I even woke up. So today … no more. I felt okay at first, but when I started working out … well, I feel like engine sludge.

Augustine says: Oh, Kosmas. Why would you do this?

Augustine shakes his head, then looks at you again. He beckons for you to follow him slightly away from Kosmas so he can talk to you.

  • "I've done enough here."
  • Go with him.

Augustine leads you a bit away from Kosmas, and lowers his voice.

He says: You're <Name>, aren't you. Don't worry, I'm a friend. Well, I'm a friend of Kazuki. I saw you two together in the bar earlier. I was there, watching his back, and he told me how you've been helping him out.

He says: Listen, I want to find out where Kosmas got this junk. I'm the head coach at this gym, and if more clients of mine are using this stuff, I need to stop it as soon as possible. Kazuki told me how resourceful you are. If you can help me out with this, I'll be happy to compensate you for your time.

  • "Any friend of Kazuki is a friend of mine."
  • "Sure, I can help."
  • "No thanks, I'm not interested."

Friend of Kazuki:

Me: Of course. Any friend of Kazuki is a friend of mine.

Augustine smiles widely and claps you on the shoulder with a wide hand.

He says: Then you've found one in me. Come.

Together, you walk back to the miserable Kosmas.

Augustine says: Kosmas, you gotta tell me where you got these bars.

Kosmas shakes his head again, then rubs his face with a shaking hand.

Kosmas says: When I went back to confront them, they threatened me. It's not safe, Augustine.

  • Act tough.
  • Convince him to talk.

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: Don't you want to stop this from happening to other people? Help us help them. And you.

He sighs, raising his eyes to the dark ruins above.

He says: Okay, okay. What do you want to know?

  • "Have any of your friends gotten sick too?"
  • "Where'd you get these protein bars?"

Friends:

Me: Have any of your friends gotten sick too?

He says: You know, I don't know. I was here before any of them. I should check in on them.

He groans again, and his body spasms slightly.

Where:

Me: Where'd you get these protein bars?

Kosmas says: There's a person in the ruins. Creepy as the Black. Wears a mask and goes by Nine. Tell them, “For the gains.” That's the passphrase.

Kosmas coughs again.

Augustine says: I think we have enough information now. <Name>, I'm going to take Kosmas back to his place. Will you check out this Nine character and let me know what you find out?

  • "I'm on it. Feel better, Kosmas."
  • "Will do."

Feel better:

Me: I'm on it. Feel better, Kosmas.

He looks up at you through his sweat dank hair and gives you a humorless smile.

He says: Don't say I didn't warn ya.

Augustine nods his thanks to you and helps Kosmas to his feet.

Talk to Nine in the Ruins

Next step: Ruins, Bordeaux Station

  • Enter the ruins.

You can tell you're getting closer to the station's ruins because the usual lights that flicker above you grow dimmer and, in some areas, don't exist at all. The dust here is thick, and out of the corner of your eye, you catch the site of dirty yellow bones peeking out from under a piece of regocrete that fell from a building nearby.

  • Search for Nine.
  • Ask around for Nine.

Search:
(Intelligence check)

You wander the ruins, keeping your eyes open. As you walk, you see someone come out of an alleyway. They meet your eyes briefly with their own bloodshot ones, then quickly look down and hurry past you.

You step into the alleyway and find a line of people waiting to speak with a dark figure.

  • Cut the line.
  • Wait in line.

Wait:

You wait patiently at the end of the line, which moves quickly. The people leaving from the front of the line rarely make eye contact with you as they hurry out of the alley. Finally, you're the last one and you've come face to … mask with Nine.

They look at you silently, scratching at the mask now and then.

Talk to Nine in the Ruins

Next NPC: Nine, Ruins, Bordeaux Station

  • "I'm here for the win."
  • "I'm here against the grain."
  • "I'm here for the gains."
  • "Whatcha sellin'?"

For the gains:

I'm here for the gains.

Nine says: Then you've come to the right place. Welcome fair customer! How many bars would you like today? They're 40 credits each.

  • "Just one is good."
  • "Do you make these yourself?"

Do you make these:

Nine says: Sorry, no time to chat. There are people waiting behind you now.

  • "Just one is good."

They reach into a black bag that's hung cross body and pull out a small wrapped bar. Nine hands it to you and scoops away your credits.

You have given 40.00 credits.

Nine says: Next!
The next person in line steps forward as you leave with your bar.

  • Eat the bar.
  • Examine the wrapper.

Examine:

The bar is wrapped in edible plastic, with the words, “PURE VIGOR” on the front of it. After turning the bar over, you find incredibly small print that reads, “Manufactured with 100% Biomeat protein by Griselde's Épicerie, Bordeaux.”

Check out Griselde's Épicerie in the Market.

Next step: Market, Bordeaux Station

  • Enter the Market.

You wander through the market, past the close grouping of merchants and stalls. Everything from foodstuffs to weapons and armor is being sold, and there seems to be no rhyme nor reason about it. Nearby, the sounds of ships arriving and departing helps to contribute to the incredible din of the market.

You find a small shop with a sign reading, “Griselde's Épicerie” above the front door. A hologram of a woman on the front of the store waves cheerily at you. Below the hologram, are the words, “Griselde welcomes all to her Épicerie!” A large plastic sheet has been affixed to the front of the shop. It reads, “Closed forever. Thank you so much for your patronage throughout the cycles. ~ Griselde”

Another small sign on the shop's front reads, "For lease."

A voice suddenly growls out behind you.

The voice says: Out of my way!

  • Move.
  • Stand your ground.

Move:

You step aside, making way for a man to step by you. He has straggly hair that looks to not have been cleaned for numerous cycles. His eyes are bloodshot and when he raises a fist to pound on the shop's door, you notice that it shakes.

He growls: Where is she!

He grabs the door and yanks on it, then kicks it when it remains locked. The man rounds on you and mutters lowly. Then, with a disgusted look at you, he stumbles away.

  • Ask around for Griselde
  • Search for Griselde

Ask around:
(Social check)

An older man nods when you mention Griselde.

He says: Oh yeah, that one. Long time respected business owner until recently. Good riddance to her and the trash she was getting people addicted to. She's saying her goodbyes to Vercingetorix over by the viewing glass.

He points to a filthy glass wall that's set into the very crust of the asteroid. You see an older woman standing near the glass who matches the hologram. She's managed to scrub a small square of the thick glass clean, so that she can look down on the dwarf planet.

  • Look at Griselde

Griselde is of the Baseline genotype.

Griselde's eyes carry a sadness accumulated over the many years that left their marks on her face as well. She wears her silver-gray hair in a high bun, from which thin tendrils have escaped. She wears flowing garments of deep sapphire, with intricate bead work around the collar and cuffs.

  • Talk to Griselde

Griselde wipes her eyes when you draw near. She smiles at you softly.

She says: I'm almost done, just a few more units, then you can have all the turn you like.

  • "I'm actually here about your protein bars."
  • "What are you looking at?"

What are you looking at:

Me: What are you looking at?

She says: Vercingetorix. The dwarf planet this station orbits.

  • "I'm actually here about your protein bars."

Me: I'm actually here about your protein bars.

She says: What? Sorry, shop's closed. You know what? You can have your turn now.

She starts to leave, picking up a large bag and hefting its strap over her shoulder.

  • Convince her to talk to you.
  • Make her talk to you.
  • Let her go.

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: Look, I'm just trying to help a friend. Your “protein” bars made him really sick.

She pauses, her face draining of color. She looks around to see if anyone heard you, but with the din of the market and the port, it would have been nearly impossible.

  • Let her go.
  • Show her the protein bar.

Show:

You show her the protein bar and her shoulders slump.

She says: What do you want? You don't look like security. Not that I did anything … illegal.

  • "Why are you dosing the protein bars?"
  • "What did you put in the bars?"

What did you put in:

She sighs and puts her bag down, then returns to the viewing glass and her small cleared patch.

She says: It's just … a synthetic blend. It's not illegal. Well, mostly because authorities don't know that it should be.

  • "Why are you dosing the protein bars?"
  • "Someone I know got sick from your last batch of bars."
  • "Where'd you get this 'synthetic blend'."

Where:

Me: Where'd you get this 'synthetic blend'.

She says: I've said enough. You don't want to know, and I sure as the Black won't be spilling on her. I mean … oh by the stars, I'm not cut out for this life.

  • "Maybe 250 credits will help you with your travels?"
  • Threaten her into telling you.
  • Convince her to tell you.

Convince:
(Social check)

Me: I'm pretty sure I know who you're talking about. The Chemist has been coming up a lot lately.

She looks up at you in surprise, then glances around hastily. She lowers her voice, speaking so quietly that you can barely hear her.

She says: You need to be more careful with who you talk to about that. Look, a woman came by my shop a while back. Said she worked for … her. Gave me some free samples and taught me how to mix them in. Just a boost, she said. Just a bit of relaxation and a more … zen approach to life. I even tried it myself. It was … okay, but not my thing. But others loved it! And she assured me that it was safe.

  • "Someone I know got sick from your last batch of bars."
  • "Why are you dosing the protein bars?"

Why:

Me: Why are you dosing the protein bars?

She looks down at the planet below, the light from the other side of the glass making the lines on her face even more pronounced.

She says: I needed the money. I need to get off this station.

  • "Why do you want to get off the station?"

She says: You know, I was alive when the Catastrophe struck. I was very young, but I still remember my parents. They were down below when it happened. I never saw them again, and all communication was cut off when the Catastrophe happened. For so many years, I hoped. That they'd find their way back, that we'd reestablish communication.

She touches the glass gently, bowing her head.

She says: But look at me now. I'm past my middle-ages and am creeping into my crone years. My parents, no matter what happened to them, surely are dead by now.

She looks up at you, her eyes shining.

She says: I can't stay here anymore. I've lived my entire life, waiting for them. They're never coming back and I … I need to really live what little I have left of my life. I needed the money to leave, and to start somewhere new.

  • "Someone I know got sick from your last batch of bars."

Me: Someone I know got sick from your last batch of bars.

She says: They did? Oh frack. I knew I put in too much. I just … I'd made all I needed to get off-station and I wanted to use up the rest. I … I can't believe I did that.

She hangs her head, her face crumpled with shame.

She says: I am so selfish. I can't believe I've stooped to this. I didn't even realize it was addictive until the same people started showing up, day after day, desperate.

She reaches into her jacket and pulls out a small vial.

She says: Here. I was given this by my … supplier. It was in case I accidentally ingested too much. It's supposed to help during an overdose. I hope it helps your friend.

  • "I don't have anymore questions."

Me: I don't have anymore questions.

She says: So now you know everything. I … I'm sorry that what I did hurt people. I'm not sorry that they let themselves become addicted. They made their own choices, you know?

She looks at you, her eyes glancing from you to the port, as though weighing whether she could dash past you.

She says: What are you going to do? Now that you know? Are you turning me in?

  • "Yes. You are responsible for lacing those bars without your customers knowing."
  • "Yes. But tell me what was in the bars so I can help my friend."
  • "No. Get going."
  • "No. Tell me what was in the bars so I can help my friend."

No. Tell me:

Me: No. Tell me what was in the bars so I can help my friend.

She says: Like I said, I don't know. But here. You can have this.

She hands you a plastic bag with some white powder in it.

She says: That's the last of it. I'll be happy to see it go.

She picks up her bag, takes a deep sigh and then gives the planet below one last look before walking to the port.

Return to Augustine at the Gym

Next NPC: Augustine, Gym, Bordeaux Station

  • Talk to Augustine.

Augustine is spotting for a huge Mall woman who is bench pressing so much weight that the bar is bending. When he sees you, he nods, helps her place the bar back on its rack and then asks someone to stand in for him so he can talk to you.

He says: <Name>! You're back! What did you find out?

  • Give him the bag with the powder.
  • Give him the vial.

Vial:

Me: I have something that will help Kosmas.

Augustine eyes the vial you hand him suspiciously and you explain to him what it's for.

He says: Worth a try, I guess. Hopefully it doesn't do more harm.*

  • Give him the bag with the powder.

Me: This is a sample of the drug. Maybe you can have it analyzed and a doctor can figure out how to treat Kosmas.

He says: Wow, that's great, <Name>. I think this can really help him. I know someone who can look into this.

Augustine says: Thanks so much for your help. I'll help Kosmas get through this, and I'll check in on his friends too. We can get this solution analyzed too and have more made for them. Wow, Kazuki was right about you, <Name>. You have my gratitude.

  • "That's everything I found out."

Mission ends abruptly

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