10 Jul 2014

By The Numbers Chapter 14 - Commentary

To avoid spoilers, please go read the chapter first.  The commentary will make sense that way, too.

Chapter 14 starts with a title drop.  A bit of a cheat, especially since that's three more words to the word count, but /By the Numbers/ was always a working title.  The implication of the chapter title was that the crew was going back to basics, doing legwork.  Investigation needs to happen.

If you've read along with the Lethal Ladies commentaries, I mentioned a few times that I had started that story's climax long before I hit the needed 50 000 words for NaNoWriMo.  With By the Numbers, the end of the bodyguard job was never the planned end of the story.  That job was just the start, introducing the mystery.  The crew is on the periphery right now; they know something's up but not the extent.  Fortunately, I do know.

Numbers is off her game and has been since the start of the inter-corporate meeting.  Treehugger has noticed; between the hacker getting drunk last chapter then crashing at the rigger's apartment, there's enough to get TH to worry.  Numbers does get caught up in work; she forgot about Treehugger's allergy.  The hacker's backstory is still coming.

The cereal Treehugger's eating comes from "Food Fight", the sample adventure from first edition.  Sugar Bombs is a shoutout to the Chocolate-Coated Sugar Bombs from Calvin and Hobbes, but, in game, come in three popular flavours: Red, Green, and Purple.  Weclome to the future of breakfast cereals!  Treehugger gets to be the font of knowledge for all things elf.  Since she really wants to be one, she has made it a goal to learn all about what elves do, including the status of Tir Tairngire.  But, Numbers has a huge task in front of her to figure out who was responsible for the kidnapping.

Charles is off working his own contacts.  Some activities, though, work best in the late afternoon and in the evening, which is why Mr. Macro is still asleep.  Crime slows down at seven in the morning; it's just too early to be up.  Skater, though, is up and about.  As I've commented before, most of the supporting characters have a background.  Skater's gets meta; she was the first character concept I had back in Shadowrun's first edition.  Originally an elf decker, I've adjusted her as the timeline progressed.  As for why she's at the Big Rhino in the Ork Underground, it begins with the Night of Rage.  The Night of Rage started after Humanis Policlub, who make the KKK look like a gentleman's club, tried to round up metahumans for removal from society.  Rioting broke out; families were torn asunder; streets were covered in blood.  Skater, in the middle of all this, was a young girl and separated from her parents.  She found herself in the Ork Underground, and hung around even after schisms occurred.  Skater has been a shadowrunner for at least twenty years as of By the Numbers.  Thus, Charles could ask her about the names Oswald found.

While Charles is working on his end, Oswald is checking with some of his own contacts.  Sergeant Tina Miles was named well after it was obvious that Oz was a ladies' man.  Oz's background comes out fully; the only thing not named was his previous employer, NYPD Incorporated.  More of Lt. Kiser's background comes out, too, and is a clue to how serious the meeting was for Knight Errant.  The call from Nabi, though, was to wrap up that plotline and to show that there's more to a runner's life than just being expendable deniable assets.

Tomorrow, brainstorming and Dashiell Hammett's fall back position in Chapter 15.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the animated Dilbert.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Robocop.
Coming soon, the return of Project Natasha.
And a reminder that By the Numbers now has its own page.

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