Zone 2 awaits!
I’m on the final straight towards the end of Neuromancer! If I can manage to get across the line without requiring assistance, I will feel pretty proud of myself. My last post covered the entirety of cyberspace zone 1. I accessed every base in that zone and defeated both AIs, raising my Logic, Phenomenology, Philosophy and Sophistry skills to 5 in the process. I also had some great warez, including BlowTorch 4.0, Decoder 4.0, Drill 2.0, ThunderHead 2.0 and Python 2.0. I hoped that this would be enough to handle whatever zone 2 served up, and made my way to the high-tech zone to find out. There were cyberspace jacks in all four companies there (Fuji Electric, Hitachi Biotech, Hosaka and Musabori), but all of them accessed zone 2, merely changing the entrance point. I decided to start with Fuji Electric, and was thrilled when I was able to hack in with little trouble. Surprisingly though, there were no new access levels available to me, so the effort was pointless. I moved onto Hitachi Biotech, still hoping to find some way of getting back at them after they took my lungs in an earlier session. I was close to dying during this ICE battle, but still managed to get through the defences. This time there was a new menu option available, but the Employee List contained nothing more than 11 names I didn’t recognise.
Nope, don't recognise any of them!
So far zone 2 had been pretty disappointing, but that was about to change. The Hosaka base had an expanded Software Library, including Hammer 4.0, Concrete 1.0, Mimic 2.0, Injector 2.0 and Slow 2.0. These were all either entirely new warez or upgraded versions of ones I already had. I replaced my Hammer 2.0 with 4.0, my Slow 1.0 with 2.0, and added Concrete 1.0 to my deck (this is one of the ICE breakers Deathangel’s Shadow listed in the Best category). I didn’t have room for Mimic 2.0 (a warrant mimicking piece of software) or Injector 2.0 (a slow acting virus), but it was nice to know I could get them. Slow 1.0 had already made breaking through ICE much easier, but 2.0 was simply awesome! I could now attack ICE at twice the speed that their attacks were coming back at me! This made hacking into Musabori a simple task, but then I found myself face to face with an AI! All he had to say is “Go ahead. Make my day.”, before he started hitting me with seriously damaging attacks. All the great warez I had now were completely useless against him and, even worse, none of my skills did anything either! I was very quickly crushed, and then taunted for my humanity: “That’s what you get for being an ape-descendant.” This really set me back! If none of my AI affecting skills could touch this AI, how could I possibly defeat it!? Had I missed a skill altogether?
This couldn't even scratch this AI!
I had a good think about what else I could try to get into Musabori, but nothing came to mind. I decided to try my luck on Freeside, where I assumed the cyberspace jacks would give me access to zone 3. I took a shuttle straight to Freeside as I could see no point in going via Zion now that I’d got the Bank Gemeinschaft code off the Rastafarian leader there. I knew of three different jacks that I could potentially use on Freeside, but I decided to use the one in the Bank of Berne. I soon discovered that there were five bases in zone 3, and my Probe software told me they were Bank of Berne, D.A.R.P.O., Screaming Fist, Sex Union and Turing Registry. I decided to try my luck getting into the Bank of Berne base, as I was getting pretty desperate to find a new form of income! It took me a couple of attempts, but I scraped my way through the ICE on the base, only to come face to face with yet another AI! “You’ve forced me to levy a service charge on your account.” I quickly figured out that this AIs weakness was Philosophy (he cried out “Ouch! Bankruptcy!” when hit), but I got crushed every time I tried to take him on. This didn’t bode well, since the only way I knew of to increase my AI harming skills was to defeat AIs. I decided to move onto the other bases in zone 3 for now, and hoped that I would find something along the way that might assist.
Another defeat! My pride was taking a beating at this point!
The D.A.R.P.O. base turned out to be Defense Advanced Research Projects, and the welcome page informed me that the “system contains RESTRICTED data as defined in the Tempest Restrictions of 2025”. There were two menu items inside the base, being 1. Current Research Topics and 2. Software Library. The first section contained highly technical documentation regarding Hypersonic Weapons, Photon Echo Memories, Kinetic Energy Weapons, Monoclonal Antibodies and Laser Techniques. I read through each of them, but I highly doubt any of the information is useful, so won’t bore you with it. I’ll include an example below so you can see what it looks like. The Software Library section contained ThunderHead 3.0, Injector 3.0, Jammies 2.0, Concrete 2.0 and Drill 3.0, all of which were updated versions of software I’d come across previously. The two viruses (ThunderHead and Injector) are hugely effective, lasting a long time and causing significant damage to ICE, and Concrete 2.0 and Drill 3.0 were great replacements for their previous versions. A few readers let me in on what Jammies is all about after I could find no use for version 1.0. I can now see what it does with Jammies 2.0 (it locks up the ICE, stopping it from launching software for a short period of time), but its effectiveness couldn’t justify keeping it installed on my deck, given the RAM limitations I was facing.
Blah blah blah blah...
The Strikefore Screaming Fist base had the same RESTRICTED welcome screen as D.A.R.P.O., and once again contained two menu options (1. Software Library and 2. Operational Reports). The software library contained Slow 3.0, Depth Charge 3.0, Python 3.0, KGB 1.0, ArmorAll 1.0 and Easy Rider 1.0. This turned out to be a smorgasbord of awesome warez! As you might expect, Slow 3.0 allowed me to hit ICE with three separate pieces of software to every one coming back my way, which makes getting into any Zone 1 to 3 bases really very easy. Depth Charge was the second piece of software on Deathangel’s Shadow’s list of Best warez (leaving only Logic Bomb to find) and Python 3.0 made an already great virus frickin awesome! Most interestingly though, I’d not come across KGB, ArmorAll or Easy Rider before, although I remembered reading something about Easy Rider on one of the message boards. Polychrome had told everyone on the Panther Moderns board that “Screaming Fist has Easy Rider 1.0 in their base. Lets you cross zones without having to go to another cyberjack.” That sounded awesome to me, so I made room for it. I had no idea what either KGB or ArmorAll did, although I figured I could guess the latter. Before I went back into cyberspace to test them out, I checked out the Operational Reports section on Screaming Fist.
I found a report from General Davis to Ossian Intercept with the Operational Code of HAMMER. The report appeared to be a summary of several reports concerning Colonel Corto, who reportedly ran into trouble while fighting the Russians over Kirensk (I assume in some sort of fighter plane). He managed to take out many of their defences before being taken down, and even then he commandeered a Russian gunship and made his way to Finland. Once there he was brought down by a cannon, losing his eyesight, legs and most of his jaw in the process. Corto was repaired, with “new eyes, legs, plumbing and extensive cosmetic work”. Later, Corto surfaced in Thailand as “overseer of a heroin factory, then as enforcer for a Californian gambling cartel, then as a paid killer in the ruins of Bonn, then was sent to a mental institution in Paris! Why do I bother mentioning all this? Because Corto is “now living under the name of Armitage”! That’s right…the same Armitage that gave me $10000 at the beginning of the game to work for him, then never turned up to give me my directives at the rendezvous point. As far as I know, Armitage was taken by the lawbots and executed, so I fail to see why any of this information is in any way relevant to the game. It’s likely just something that played a role in the novel, and so is included here, but that really does make figuring out what you’re supposed to be doing in Neuromancer much harder than it would be otherwise.
I assume this Captain Fargo is the ffargo that I owe $2000 to as well!
While I was chomping at the bit to visit the Sex Union and Turing Registry bases, I devoted some time to figuring out what the KGB, ArmorAll and Easy Rider warez were about. The Easy Rider one, as I hoped it would, allowed me to visit every cyberspace zone from any cyberspace jack! This meant that I no longer needed to move around in the real world, as one jack is all I would ever need again! Using KGB 1.0 while in cyberspace autopiloted me straight to a particular base in zone 5. I assume I could have made my way to the base manually easily enough (perhaps not?), so not sure of the purpose, but I do know that the ICE at the base smashed me in seconds! Finally, ArmorAll very handily reduced my damage back to zero on use, although it seemed that I could only use it once per base attack. With all that figured out, I moved onto the Sex Union base. I broke through the ICE easily, but then was confronted by another AI. “Mmm, you’re a big one! Want to play with me? I’m Xaviera.” I hoped that this AI might be easier to defeat than the one at the Bank of Berne, so tried out my skills on her. Phenomenology turned out to be her weakness and thankfully, I was able to beat her (just!) on my third attempt! “Oh, it’s never happened to me like this. It’s driving me MAD…!#@$^*#$#”. I was in! Not only that, but I’d also increased my AI harming skills to 6, meaning I might be able to go back and defeat the Bank of Berne AI.
Sorry, you just seemed the type that likes it rough!
There were three sections on the Sex Union base, being 1. Meeting Place, 2. Advice from Xaviera and 3. AI Message Buffer. The first section’s purpose was described by Xaviera as a place to “get in touch with others who share your tastes and desires. Anything goes, as long as it is above board and you let it all hang out – let’s not have any surprises, unless that’s what you’re into.” I could then see three “profiles”, written by a 41 year old male and 21 and 44 year old women. I won’t describe what was in each of the profiles, but I’ll put an example below. The Advice from Xaviera section was fairly humorous, being a conversation between Xaviera and someone calling themselves SM, 15. Basically, SM, 15 told Xaviera about a girl called Cindy, and how she’d touched his shoulder and called him “unique” in response to a joke. He wanted to know what he should do next, so Xaviera advised him to ask her out on a date. He did, and while Cindy hesitated before saying yes, he thinks that pause was only to have an orgasm. Xaviera was stunned by this, and told him that she wanted to have a long chat with him! Anyway, the AI Message Buffer was the real reason to visit the site, but even that was a bit disappointing.
Showered with gifts and constant attention? Man, that sounds like a form of abuse!
There was a message from Greystoke to Xaviera: “What do you mean asking me if I’m into domination? We can’t have these cowboys violating us at every turn, can we? What would you do for playthings?” There was also a message from Neuromancer to Xaviera: “I do not agree with your assessment of cyberpunks, and I regret the cruel methods you use on them. Do not destroy them all just to sate your bestial lusts.” These messages didn’t really give me anything to go off, making the whole Sex Union base a bit useless. I took my leave and went off to pay a visit to the Turing Registry base. I’d been looking forward to accessing it since I read a message from Greystoke to Morphy on the World Chess Confederation base: “The AI destruct program that Turing developed to destroy me is missing from their vault! I am unable to locate it! If you know where it is, inform me immediately! If it falls into the wrong hands, Neuromancer may win! This cannot happen!” Perhaps Greystoke was the AI that I was unable to defeat at Musabori, and this AI destruct program was the key! I haven’t quite managed to get through zones 2 and 3 in this post, but I’ve probably gone on long enough for now. Join me in a couple of days, where you will witness one of the most successful heists known to man...maybe!
..and so the progress continued!
Session Time: 2 hours 00 minutes
Total Time: 15 hours 30 minutes
Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!