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Player Punch / MMORPG

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  • In the Rikti War Zone arcs of City of Heroes, Lt. Sefu Tendaji, the Longbow agent who's generally friendly toward you regardless of whatever other issues Longbow and Vanguard have, fills this role.
    • What makes it a wonderfully painful Punch isn't that he's built up nicely as a sympathetic figure, working first as an extremely useful ally and then as an honorable (if hard to defeat) enemy. It's that he isn't even killed for a good reason. He's not a threat, about to uncover the terrible secret behind the Rikti War. He's not an inspirational symbol of how enemies can team up to challenge a greater evil. No, he's killed because Nemesis is a racist. That's the point where Nemesis crosses the line.
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    • The game gives us a new one in Issue 17: You're given a doppelganger who at first is an opponent, but then starts working with you on your missions. At the end of the arc, they're all alone fighting off dozens of clones of you while you're taking on the mastermind behind the whole mess. You win, but the fight takes its toll on your double; they stay behind to make sure the bombs they set go off, and you race to get them out... you're forcefully kicked from the mission just as you're about to reach them and everything explodes around you.
  • In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion in World of Warcraft. Any player, Horde or Alliance, who has experienced it needs only to hear the words Angra'thar the Wrath Gate.
    • Less so on Horde side, though. Alliance loses Bolvar Fordragon, the benevolent regent of Stormwind, who had been in the game for more than two years and had saved the player character from being ambushed by the dragon Onyxia. Horde loses Saurfang the Younger, who, unlike his badass father, had done nothing remarkable until the Wrath Gate.
      • Except that wasn't the only thing the Horde lost: Apart from the emotional significance of delivering the news of Saurfang the Younger's death to his father, the Horde must then confront one of their former racial leaders, Varimathras, who has been in the game since launch and even started quest lines for younger characters. The Horde falls under martial law, the Forsaken have to, well, forsake their home until Thrall, Sylvanas and Vol'jin can storm the Undercity with the player character (and any friends he/she brings) and put an end to Varimathras, removing him from the game permanently. And even after you tear one of the Horde's capitals down to cinders around the traitor's ears, you learn that it was still all for naught, and the Alliance king Varian Wrynn reignites the war that Thrall and the others have been fighting for years to prevent.
      • This is still a difficult quest line for the Alliance players who enjoy the lore and fleshed out story Blizzard has really put into this expansion. You first accompany Jaina Proudmoore on a diplomatic mission to Thrall about the events at the Wrathgate and find that both Jaina and Thrall are dedicated to creating peace and cooperation on both sides to fight Arthas. After you help Varian and Jaina reclaim the Undercity, Varian hears a warcry from Thrall for having defeated Varimathras and takes the fight on to Thrall and his soldiers. Wrynn then declares his goal to destroy the Horde once and for all. Jaina does stop him, but not before it's too late to stop the war. No specific player or NPC dies, just the hope for peace between the Horde and Alliance.
      • The Wrath Gate also has a.... different kind of Player Punch, specifically for Forsaken players. See, that bioweapon Putress is hocking at the Horde, Alliance AND Scourge? Yeah, every single Forsaken player had a hand in making that. There's a series of quests before you even leave the starting zone - called 'A New Plague', in which we assist the Royal Apothecary Society in the development of a new secret weapon(ized disease). When Putress roars DID YOU THINK WE HAD FORGOTTEN?, every single Forsaken on Azeroth went HOLY CRAP WE DID. It gets more evident once you reach Vengeance Landing and Venomspite, but it only sinks in after the Wrath Gate.
      • The entire Horde-side questline through Howling Fjord and Venomspite deals with the Forsaken apothecary's final preparations to bring this weapon to bear. If you ever did those zones, you were directly responsible for this.
      • The Wrath Gate comes back to haunt the player even further when one of the bosses in Icecrown Citadel turns out to be Deathbringer Saurfang. Yes, Arthas raised Saurfang the Younger after the Wrathgate incident to become his most powerful Death Knight and now the player has to kill him. Again. Alliance and Horde each even get their own versions of an in-game cutscene to beat the crap out of you even more:
      • Horde players are accompanied by High Overlord Saurfang — his father — when he appears at the entrance to the Upper Spire and asks his father to join him in service to Arthas. The High Overlord responds, "My boy died at the Wrathgate. I am only here to claim his body." before charging into battle. After the battle, Saurfang kneels over his son's body and weeps before carrying it to the airship to take him to Nagrand to be placed with his mother at the ancestral burial grounds.
      • For Alliance players, when the fight is over, the High Overlord arrives to claim his son's body, only to be stopped by Muradin Bronzebeard. Muradin is about to resort to force when Jaina Proudmoore teleports herself and King Wrynn onto the scene. Considering Wrynn and Saurfang's history, when the King tells Muradin, "Stand down, Muradin. Let a grieving father pass," every single Alliance player knows exactly how much a Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming this is.
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    • And anyone who's played a death knight needs only to hear the words "A Special Surprise" for still another.
      • Night Elf Death Knights have it the worst out of all the races. For Night Elves, the target of the quest is their caretaker while they were still an infant. DAMN.
      • Worgen and Goblin are both pretty bad too. While other races talk about where your character was born, the Worgen reminds you about your life in slavery to Arugal and claims that if not for you, he would have died in slavery on the night the two of you escaped. And the Goblin as your best friend who insists that you were the only decent goblin he ever met and that he joined the Argent Dawn to honor your memory.
    • For many Horde players, if they can find her, delivering the news to Mankrik about his wife can be a sobering task.
    • For Alliance players, there's Emmy Malin. Emmy is a captain in Malygos' anti-magic army and is in charge of one of the ley line foci located in southwestern Dragonblight. Player characters have to kill her to get a ring necessary for reading and recording information stored in the focus she's guarding. When looted by an Alliance character, her corpse proves to hold a letter she had written to her father, detailing how she had been forced into serving Malygos and that she had been working from the inside to sabotage the corrupted blue dragons' plans. The questgiver tells the PCs that they shouldn't feel guilty as there was no way they could have known, and Emmy's father, an Archmage in Dalaran, even sends a letter later saying that he understands the actions taken by the PCs and forgives them . . . but damn. That's still a kick in the gut.
      • The same goes in Horde version for Ta'zinni, who had a similar backstory and of course another quest requires you to kill him as well. Converse to the Alliance equivalent, Ta'zinni's sister sends the player a letter swearing vengeance on whoever killed her brother, your exact role in his death being covered up when she was informed.
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    • A Horde example at the end of the Pit of Saron instance, with the death of SpartOrcus in the middle of a Rousing Speech praising the players' triumph. The real punch isn't his death though, but rather Sylvannas's posthumous mockery of him.
    • The final battle with Arthas in Icecrown Citadel is a literal player punch for the PCs. After a long, difficult and grueling fight against The Lich King, once he reaches a certain health level, he effortlessly wipes your entire raid. He tells you that he's been waiting for you to fight your way through to him and now the most powerful heroes in Azeroth will become his most powerful Death Knights. Oops. Fortunately the spirit of his father appears to resurrect your team and assist in finally beating Arthas down.
    • The Battle of Darrowshire. While we see why the Plaguelands is called Plaguelands, finding a ghost of a little girl is a completely different thing.
    • A good Punch (though not actually tear-jerking) comes with the unbelievably long quest chain (the longest in the game) in The Storm Peaks, where you basically reinvigorate a downcast Thorim to raze hell only to find out that everything you'd done for Lok'lira the Crone, from freeing her to the end of the quest chain, was actually for Thorim's jerkass brother Loken. It's your fault that Thorim gets captured and corrupted. It's your fault that Veranus, a noble proto-dragon broodmother and Thorim's old ally, is tortured and transformed into Razorscale. This isn't a Player Punch, so much as it's a Player Instant-Hell-Murder.
    • In the old Duskwood zone, there was a very long questline you do for a nice old man living in a shack at the edge of the woods. His requests for things like ghoul ribs, plague flowers etc. aren't really that strange considering what else this game has had you do so far. And he only wants to make wacky voodoo charms to protect himself, right? Up until he hands you a note to take to the town mayor, informing them about the horrific abomination that he's created and is about to unleash on their town. Which so you kindly helped him to build.
      • Also in Duskwood is the saga of Mortimer Ladimir, the selfless paladin who spent his entire life sacrificing for the good of others, only to be caught by despair and corruption following the death of his wife and children. Also known as Mor'Ladim, the elite-level killer revenant who will appear out of the dark mists without warning to kill your ass while you're trying to complete quests in the eerie graveyard of Raven Hill.
    • As of Mists of Pandaria just three words: the Battle of Theramore.
    • So here's a little lore bit - a peaceful land welcomes visitors from outside. The visitors conscript the indigenous populations to fight, and unleash threats that had been inside the continent and hadn't plauged the people for centuries. Is this the Burning Legion corrupting a race? Nope - it's the Alliance and the Horde.
    • And the Jade Serpent statue, which was to become the new Jade Serpent. The Jade Seprent herself, Yu'lon, tells you in a questline that it's been under construction for a hundred years, and she was ready to die and pass on her life force to animate the statue as the new Jade Serpent... and then the Alliance and Horde, despite having been shown repeatedly what happens in Pandaria when a lot of negative emotion is generated, show up and start a massive battle at the foot of the statue. Things rapidly get out of hand as stray fire from their siege weapons destroys the statue, releasing the monstrous Sha of Doubt imprisoned beneath it. What makes this especially gut-wrenching is that in previous quests, the player helps their faction prepare for this very battle, essentially meaning that YOU are an accessory to bringing doom to an innocent race of people, despite having claimed peaceful intentions when you first met them. You'll likely leave the Jade Forest wondering if you'll ever be able to look a pandaren in the eye ever again.
    • For Horde and Alliance both, "Breath of Darkest Shadow" ends with one. You're forced to watch as Garrosh nearly kills a pacifistic teenager and declares it to be a triumph for the Horde. The Alliance at least sees Anduin to safety; the Horde have to leave him there, comatose and broken.
    • The Reveal that General Nazgrim is a boss in the Siege of Orgrimmar hit Horde players hard as he had been a major friendly NPC since Wrath.
    • The Broken Shore has the player witness the united armies of the Horde and Alliance broken by the Legion, along with the deaths of Tirion Fordring, Vol'jin, and Variann Wrynn. Each side gets their own flavor of the punch. The Horde is overrun by an impossible number of enemies, with their leaders falling one by one. Meanwhile the Alliance holds strong until the Horde retreats for, from the Alliance perspective, no reason and leaves the Alliance in the lurch.
    • For the Alliance, the War of the Thorns, the event leading up to Battle For Azeroth. The fact that Sylvanas burns down Teldrassil, and the night elf capital of Darnassus along with it is bad enough, but to make matters worse, you're given a timed mission to save a little less than 1,000 civilians. The fact that a diligent and fast player will be lucky to save 50 gives you some idea of the sense of helplessness this quest fosters in players.
    • The Battle of Dazar'alor serves as one for Horde players, especially if they were not aware of the Alliance story events leading into it. After Horde players spent weeks stealing an artifact from the Alliance, they learn it has been stolen back and used to lure the army away from Dazar'alor. The Zandalari navy, the most powerful on the world, is abruptly devastated by hidden explosives and their capital is besieged. Not only does the Horde fail to kill any of the major Alliance leaders in the attack, but King Rastakhan who has driven much of the Horde plot is killed by the Alliance. In all, the Horde players accomplish nothing and are told their faction is now losing the war.
  • In Vindictus, Ellis is a cadet who at first comes off as the "Oh I'm happy to be here" cadet for the royal army. After it's implied that the royal army was the provocation of a recently destroyed village he almost breaks at the mere thought that his ideals were not those of his army's, to the point of appearing sad for the first time. When he gets permission to examine the incident, he rushes off to the village to examine. The normally Cloud Cuckoo Lander old man realizes just how deadly that was, and warns you that you had better get over there fast. He promptly gets brutalized and then killed by a sadistic goblin warlord when you finally catch up to him.
    • The death of Gwynn, a fairly major NPC is the first chapter, gets killed at the end of Chapter 8 trying to protect Kheagan. She was a Defrosting Ice Queen, and one who was heavily involved in the plot. Her death emphasizes the seriousness of the storyline if nothing else. Even worse, her icon, the one that depicts she's in a location, sticks around for any sidequests uncompleted that might involve her conversation in the dialogue, as a constant reminder that she's dead now.
  • Almost any Call-Back that Star Wars: The Old Republic makes to Knights of the Old Republic through liberal use of Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
    • The entire planet of Taris. A Marathon Level and Bleak Level of the highest caliber, it's a sad mess covered in toxic waste, overgrown ruins, and rakghouls everywhere. Do you remember it from the first game where it was an active, albeit crime-ridden city planet?
    • Finding the logs of the Outcasts. Oh, hey! There were survivors due to your Player Character's "canonical" light side actions in that first game. Then, you find more logs...their shelter was in ruins. They ran out of vaccine and couldn't make more because the rakghoul virus mutated. The survivors held on for a few, pathetic generations until you find the last log where the final survivor speaks in broken, halting Basic. The few survivors that managed to survive disease, starvation, and rakghouls were rendered barren by toxic radiation. Congratulations, player. Instead of a quick death by orbital bombardment, you condemned them to a slow death by disease, starvation, rakghouls, and toxic waste. How about those Light Side points?
    • Finding out what happened to your PlayerCharacters from those first games. First game? You were Darth freakin Revan, biggest badass in the known galaxy! Turns out, Revan went to Unknown space and got his ass handed to him by the Sith Emperor - that's why he made the Face–Heel Turn and began conquering worlds, hoping to become the Emperor's Starscream by making the conquered Republic his private fief and betraying him later. When Malak decided to betray Revan first and the Jedi got lucky, the plan fell apart. Revan later remembers this, but instead of warning his loved ones or the Republic, or even making plans to document the threat, he goes charging in alone and without warning to stop the threat...leaving Bastila knocked up and facing everything from assassins on her tail to a sentence of exile with no support. What the Hell, Hero??
    • Second game, you played the only Jedi who was strong enough to tell Revan "NO" when it came to betraying the Republic, and strong enough to go back and face the Jedi Council for going off to fight the Mandalorians. By endgame, a wave of the wrist and whole armies were getting knocked on their butts. Takes out her Evil Mentor who wanted to destroy the Force itself What happened? Goes along with Revan on the idiotic scheme, gets stabbed in the back by Lord Scourge, who ends up rewarded as a hero and bunking on the Knight's boat.
    • That Evil Mentor of the Exile's, who was possibly the most Magnificent Bitch to ever cross Star Wars Legends? She's implied to be "the Entity" an imprisoned shell of her former self, the emperor's ex-girlfriend, and now the favorite little crystal ball of that cheezy, sleazy butterball Darth Baras.
    • And then, the flashpoints that show the final fate of Revan. He was captured by the Emperor and used as the Emperor's favorite Mind Rape Chew Toy for the next three centuries. Revan claims he tempered the Emperor's hate and convinced him to declare a truce with the Republic. Considering that the Emperor is an Omnicidal Maniac nutcase who doesn't give a whit about his own Empire and wants the entire galaxy (save himself) dead, it's just as likely that a war of attrition plays right into his hands anyway (it kills off lots of people, and keeps his Darths busy so they don't gang up on him) and Revan's just deluding himself. The Republic strike team frees Revan, the Empire claims the Emperor let him go...there's probably some merit to the latter claim as the Imperial strike team finds him on a Rakata droid factory called The Foundry, clearly insane, and amassing an army of killer droids (including a rebuilt HK-47) that will wipe out about 98% of the Imperial population (and, considering the amount of side-swapping in that universe, an equally large chunk of the Republic). This, again, would play right into the Emperor's omnicidal plans. And it's up to a team of Imperials, who are Noble Demon characters at best who have to charge in and put him down like a rabid dog. his last line even echoes Malak pathethically as he dies for an extra twist of the blade.
      • Oh, but that isn't the end of it: He was so powerful in the Force that he developed a Literal Split Personality. His Dark Side half survived and is still making omnicidal nutcase plans. Queue a whole expansion "Shadow of Revan" where he assembles a cult, tries to wipe out a large chunk of both the Republic and Empire, tries to resurrect the Emperor (ostensibly to kill him once and for all), and then is put down like a rabid mutt.
  • One in Star Wars: The Old Republic that has nothing to do with the backstory: Playing the Bounty Hunter, you come back from your first successful mession as a member of Braden's stable to find the Bounty Office in ruins, Braden and his partner dead, and the sweetheart Mission Control Mako devastated by the loss of her adoptive family.
    • In the Trooper's story, there's a nasty Sadistic Choice - You're trying to save 300 Republic POWs, but there's a problem; to keep them from dying, you have to vent another area to space, the area where your teammate and possible minor love interest is in. Either you kill your teammate or you kill 300 Republic prisoners.
    • Another is the end of the Ziost arc. Ziost is a thriving city planet of the Empire, heavily populated. The Emperor possesses a large percentage of the population, sending them into a blood-fueled frenzy. Your Player Character manages to knock him back a bit and force him to lose control of his mind controlled thralls temporarily. But just as you leave to the space station, the Emperor announces that you've made him so annoyed (not angry, just annoyed) that he will destroy all life in the galaxy, force you to watch, and kill you last. He then demonstrates by evaporating all life remaining on the planet (down to the molecular level!) with a World-Wrecking Wave.
    • And the latest in the conga line. Knights of the Eternal Throne - during the attempt to stop Vaylin, you have to split your team. Valkorian, because he's a jerk, decides to have you pick which Companion to spare. The other, he's sending his daughter to kill. No, you won't be able to stop her from killing your companion. Yes, said companion will know you chose them to die. Yes, they're Dead for Real. And they aren't any of the base-breaking or "thank goodness I can get rid of that twit" companions. The Sadistic Choice is between fan favorites Torian Cadera and Vette.
  • Star Trek Online has the Romulan captain mission "Mind Game". After accidentally hoping through an Iconian portal into General Hakeev's ship, he captures you and Mind Rapes you into becoming a member of the Tal Shiar. To make sure you're good and brainwashed? You're sent to do certain errands - you're forced to kill a member of your crew it isn't, but you don't find out until after the test. But, you still killed someone in cold blood, construct a Thalarion weapon and use it on innocent Epohs (essentially cute and cuddly creatures), then implant Borg tech on a captured Romulan. Even worse, you get the option to resist, but when you use up all of your resisting options, you're forced to do these options. Even when you try to save someone by killing them, the game refuses to let you do so. You helplessly watch as your character does some unspeakable things. On the plus side, this makes your final encounter with Hakeev and Empress Sela so much more satisfying.
  • WildStar has the Calmwater Commune in Ellevar. In exchange for Eldan Artefacts, you deliver supplies to them and help around the community, by collecting food, earning the trust of the Hydro spirits, and even playing kickball with their children! Unbeknownst to you, the supplies are poisoned. You get revenge against the man who did it, but then you have to go and kill the rest of the Commune for your own safety.
  • TERA 's Fate of Arun expansion featured a new story, one where you are tasked to embark on a journey towards the continent of Northern Arun with the Valkyon Federation's vanguard to combat an evil empire of blood maguses. On the road there, you meet up with an elin named Zolyn and a popori companion named Paesyn, both of whom are given scenes of their own. Zolyn seeks to find her sister who has gone missing in a previous expedition up north and meanwhile Paesyn spends many moments trying to befriend Zolyn and help her ease her mind of her search for her sister Syona. He eventually succeeds to some degree throughout the story and some players might warm up to the two. You also eventually join forces with Rhodos, a human from the Savage Reach who leads a resistance against the Archdevan empire. However, partway through the campaign, Zolyn and her team are ambushed by the story's Big Bad: Dakuryon, and try as Paesyn and the player might, there is nothing they can do to combat his binding magic keeping them at bay. Dakuryon taunts Zolyn about Syona, implying that he likely killed her and experimented on her, and expresses interest in Zolyn as she can resist his magic to some extent. He abducts her and escapes and Paesyn and the player are forced to carry on wtihout her and hopefully find her before its too late... As the player enters the Archdeva sanctum in Arx Umbra, the player finds Dakuryon once more. After fighting another horde of his Archdeva servants, Paesyn yells at Dakuryon to return Zolyn... and he complies, revealing her transformed as a muderous demokron and sending her towards the heroes. Despite Rhodos's warnings, Paesyn attempts to appeal and reach through to the transformed Zolyn, which seems to work... the magic influencing her mind and warping her body proves too strong and poor Paesyn is fatally wounded for his trouble, thus leaving the player tasked with putting down Zolyn. As the player fights her, she begins to slow down and hesitate, begging the player to kill her and put her out of her misery, with the game even giving the player the "mercy killing" debuff to further remind the player the gravity of the situation. If you weren't with Rhodos in your burning hatred to give Dakuryon the grand-mother of all smackdowns, you will be after seeing the full scope of his depravity.
  • Guild Wars 1's Prophecies campaign has several. First, that lovable idiot Prince Rurik, who admittedly was slightly suicidal in missions where you had to escort him, dies protecting his people, then you join the white mantle only to find out that they're a tyrannical organisation and what you've been doing to help them directly leads to the death of many innocents. As you fight back together with the rebellious Shining Blade, you manage to secure a safe haven for them as they are being hunted. When you go on, you have to flee with the Vizier and find out that the safe haven you worked so hard to create has been overrun and the Shining blade are scattered and divided. Finally, after you Ascend and try to fight back against the White Mantle and their Mursaat "gods", the king of the dwarves's brother, who has helped you multiple times throughout the game, sacrifices himself to give you a chance. This all escalates into you destroying the Mursaat, but the Vizier is then revealed to be a Lich lord who had been manipulating you all along. Due to destroying something the Mursaat were protecting, you gave him control over an army that's much more powerful than the Mursaat, and he starts using it to invade the entire continent. As if that's not enough, in the mission to stop him, you're faced with an undead Prince Rurik, who laments that he has to fight you but he has no other choice.

  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • The death of Sultana Nanamo Ul Namo at the end of Before the Fall (patch 2.55) which set the scene for the game's first expansion as you are accused of her murder by her political enemies (she had invited you to a private audience and falls to the ground in front of you after drinking poisoned wine), several people you thought your allies either turning on you or forced to watch without being able to help and your Scion companions invoking dramatic You Shall Not Pass! stands to ensure your escape. Turns out she survived and it was a Faux Death but you won't discover that until Heavensward. The Sultana wasn't especially close to the player's character but was a fan favorite; she's an adorable Lalafell with a heart of gold who feels for the struggle of her class-divided subjects and was making plans to dissolve the government to install a republic in its place. At the time, her death and the resulting chaos was compared to the Red Wedding.
    • The death of Lord Haurchefant Greystone in Heavensward, defending you from a surprise attack as you chase corrupt Ishgardian clergy fleeing The Vault. Haurchefant's distinction has been standing by the Warrior of Light when all other allies seemed lost - he takes your side against Inquisitor Guillomont when you are strangers to Coearthas in the wake of a devistating Garlean attack on the Scions seeking Cid's missing airship, he shelters and comforts you, Alphinaud and Tataru when you are fugives accused of regicide, he secures asylum for you as a ward of his father's house in Ishgard, he accepts on trust at a crucial moment the fact that you return to Ishgard having allied with Ishgard's most wanted heretic, pulls your ass out of a tough skirmish as the Holy See comes to hunt you down for the secrets you've learned and he dies without warning or foreshadowing taking a magic lance that pierces his shield. There were implications that he also had a crush on you (more in the Japanese version than the English translation), or at the very least had a serious case of Hero Worship for you, and there was definitely a level of mutual understanding that transcended spoken words (even allowing for the fact that you're a Silent Protagonist). If his last words and death scene weren't enough to push people over the edge, you then have to break the news to his father, who bids you with all the stoicism he can muster to chase the cause his son gave his life for before breaking down utterly. In the cutscne following where you and your companions decide your plan of action you can either stoically vow to peruse those responsible to the ends of the earth or vow vengeance on his killer; many people reported they picked the violent option which they wouldn't have in most other cases.
  • Issue #5 of The Secret World reveals that nearly the entire population of Solomon Island may be condemned to Filth infection and mutation. And there is absolutely nothing you can do to save them.
  • MapleStory has Vita in the Resistance storyline. During the very first quest, your character saves her from imprisonment in the Black Wings' laboratory. Afterwards, she spends most of the story sitting around in the Resistance Headquarters trying to find a way to repay the Resistance for their kindness. Then, in the 4th job quest, she goes missing. Dr. Gelimer had set her up as a Manchurian Agent, using her to lure the player character into a trap by strapping her to a bomb in an attempt to wipe out any Resistance that came to save her. The bomb is rigged to detonate if Vita tries to escape, so she sets it off before you can get close just so you won't die, too. Much, much later in Black Heaven, your character brings this up when they finally confront Gelimer. He dismisses it as irrelevant, and can't even remember her name.

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