The Distress Signal – The Outer Worlds

This guide is meant to walk you through The Distress Signal quest that concerns helping Gladys on Groundbreaker and investigating the situation on Roseway, Terra 2 in The Outer Worlds. It will guide you through your quest options and dialog summary in particular. This guide will summarize the general dialog options you have with each NPC you will encounter as a part of your quest, as well as some of the important information they would reveal to you if you chose to invest time into asking questions.

Please be warned that the guide ahead contains spoilers for The Outer Worlds, especially for dialog and plot development.

This quest will branch out into a few side-quests on Roseway. In the process of completing The Distress Signal you will acquire The Doom That Came to Roseway, By His Bootstraps, Vulcan’s Hammer, and Novice Alchemist – major quests that will address some operations in the supposedly abandoned Auntie Cleo outpost. This guide covers The Distress Signal quest, the overarching mission to investigate the call for help coming from Roseway with options to help or dismiss different involved parties with its completion. We will cover the Groundbreaker’s Moonhead Guy as an Easter Egg ending to this quest as well. We cover The Doom That Came to Roseway quest that you will acquire as a result of undertaking this mission in its own guide, which you can check out right now!

The Outer Worlds Gladys

Note: the walkthrough was done on a Below Average Intelligence character, resulting in some [Dumb] dialog options being substituted for some of the standard dialog options.
Very High Strength and Perception, however, allowed for the pursuit of other options in their stead.

This guide quotes from the game heavily, but in fragments. You can also use this guide if you feel you might have missed something in your dialog encounters, without reloading your previous save.

This guide will omit secret or interesting locations on the map and other Easter Eggs that are not directly related to the quest, since those deserve their own guide.

You can refer to the Table of Contents to navigate between the different parts of the quest more quickly: the guide is organized around the quest updates and key interactions.

The parts that relate to the progression more directly that others have been bolded for your convenience.

Did we miss anything particularly interesting? Tell us in the comments or on our Discord server!

The Outer Worlds Passage to Anywhere

“Gladys has given you a copy of a distress signal from Terra 2. Someone in Roseway, a supposedly-abandoned Auntie Cleo outpost, is requesting help. If there are corporate operations hiding there, it’s likely you’ll be able to find some valuable data to sell back to Gladys.”

After you complete the Stranger in a Strange Land quest by installing the power regulator on Unreliable, ADA will take the ship up into the orbit.

Phineas will initiate a call and explain the situation with Terra-2 and the Board, hoping to revive more of the “brightest minds” off of Hope, which will require you to get to Stellar Bay on Monarch. Phineas will talk about Gladys Culkelly, an organizer behind “a cozy little black marketing outfit” on Groundbreaker, who can get you the coordinates for locating Stellar Bay’s landing site. An item difficult to obtain with Board’s insistent confiscations. Any other option is improbable or outright suicidal (“and I’m reasonably certain I tested your brain for incipient signs of insanity”). The “Speak to Gladys on the Groundbreaker” step will be added to your journal with Gladys’s location on Groundbreaker.

Use the navigation panel travel to “the only neutral station in the Halcyon colony,” the Groundbreaker (should have a green quest marker). Chat with Parvati at the doors, if you have her, ask Vicar about his quest to translate the book, if you took him. Then, head out and sort out your arrival situation (and maybe pick up Felix afterwards) and locate the Rest-N-Go inn, inside of which you will find Gladys herself (if you found slightly confused Ephraim, it’s the other room). A shady-looking man will be standing outside the door.

The Outer Worlds Gladys Location

Gladys, an elderly lady, will be sitting at the desk and working on her papers beside a metal tin of Trip-Teaz. Her associates will be looking less friendly, leaning against the wall, their darker outfits making them less visible in the shadows.

The Outer Worlds Gladys

Start of Dialog

Surprisingly “innocent” for a black market organizer, Gladys will talk and address herself like a grandma figure, even talking about her sugar cookies and how… “just like store-bought” they are.

You can always trade with her, if you want some Science Weapon pointers or some rarer items, but talk to her about Stellar Bay’s Navkey and she will explain that the item is exceptionally illegal and rare (in fact, she only has one, if we are to believe the “poor old woman”). She will ask you to pay 10,000 bits for it. Unless you haven’t been buying much so far and you have completed a good number of side quests, you probably will not have this sum on you. Don’t even try to bring up Phineas to ask for a discount – apparently he owes her an even larger amount…

She will tell you about an opportunity to earn the lacking bits, and that’s where The Distress Signal Quest will come in. Why bother? Well, no matter how you choose to complete the quest(s) on Roseway, if you explore the territory a bit and collect the loot you would have earned quite a bit more than just 10,000 bits upon your return. Can be useful for buying some things off of Gladys, too. Roseway is also your way of completing the quest to activate SAM, and with some companion combinations (like Felix and Ellie) you could have a bit of extra dialog and exploration fun there.

Ask Gladys about this “opportunity” of hers and she will warn you that she is looking for someone with a bit of “moral flexibility”: the job involves responding to a distress signal sent from Roseway, an outpost abandoned by the corporation that owned it — Auntie Cleo, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, to be specific — years ago. Gladys thinks that if someone has a shop in Roseway, “they got something to hide.” She wants you to investigate the area for any valuable information she can then sell to a corporate buyer. Gladys will add that this could also keep the corporations busy and thus with “less time” to “meddle in our affairs.” So, in simple words, she wants you to go to Roseway, snoop around, and bring her something of value. Besides, she will promise you a pleasant chat with tea and cookies.

Accept and your quest tracker will update with The Distress Signal quest – Gladys will give you an SOS recording to review, along with the coordinates.

You can ask her about “other jobs” and she will mention the overheating problem and and how you can assist the Groundbreaker’s chief, Junlei Tennyson in this unfortunate matter. If you prod further, you can learn why Gladys thinks it’s the Board’s way of pressuring the independent community.

End of Dialog

Feel free to explore the Groundbreaker at your will: there are a couple jumping puzzles with secret locations, certainly several ducts you can crawl into to locate yourself all around the ship’s Promenade, a couple of Easter Eggs (Junlei’s poor employee might need some assistance and Greasy at Auntie Cleo’s eatery might have suffered a small issue…), a couple of side quest starters (deal with the shipment message Leonard asked you to deliver to Wanda at Medical Bay, for example), and a way to assist and recruit Ellie, if you want a good medic in your party.

Otherwise, head back to your ship (if you haven’t recruited him already, Felix might be eagerly waiting for you there).

The Outer Worlds The Distress Call Signal Recording

“The distress signal has nav coordinates embedded in it. Play it on your ship so that ADA can get to the Roseway landing pad.”

This is a step that will give you the questline to track your progress on Roseway. Walk up to ADA and tell her you picked up a distress call you want her to play back for you.

It will be a video recording that looks…. rather dire. “There’s viscera and death! Everywhere!” the man will look panicked and the video will end abruptly. You will get the coordinates for accessing the landing pad on Roseway after the message cuts. ADA will give you some names to look out for (recorded for the purpose of “retrieval”): “Anton Crane, Vaughn Cortes, and Orson Shaw.”

The step in the quest will complete after that. You will acquire The Doom That Came to Roseway quest with a step to locate the broadcast tower on Roseway – we won’t track its progress here, but you can read the separate guides for it and other quests that we have linked for you below.

“Investigate Roseway to find potential company secrets that could be sold to the highest bidder through Gladys. Talking to the scientists around the town would probably be a good place to start.”This guide will not cover the events that will happen on Roseway

: you can investigate them by continuing with The Doom That Came to Roseway quest, and follow along with our guide! Anton Crane will give you The Doom That Came to Roseway quest (which we will cover for you), and By His Bootstraps (the quest to rescue poor forgotten Jameson). Orson Shaw will give you the Vulcan’s Hammer quest (retrieval mission for the schematics for the prototype pistol he is working about). Vaughn Cortes will give you The Amateur Alchemist (goes along with Anton’s quest, since it is in the same lab; Vaughn needs you to pick up the raptidon musk from the experiment he left running at the Secret Lab).

All of these quests will produce valuable items you can either return to their rightful owners, or sell to Gladys.

The Doom That Came to Roseway will result in you locating Auntie Cleo’s Research Data (The Distress Signal: Acquire Anton’s Research; Anton’s research sounds like it’d be valuable to Gladys.)

Vulcan’s Hammer will result in you locating FORCE Pistol Schematics (The Distress Signal: Acquire the Weapon Plans; The schematics for Orson’s prototype would likely be valuable to Gladys.)

The Amateur Alchemist will result in you locating at least one Raptidon Musk (The Distress Signal: Acquire Vaughn’s Research; Vaughn’s semi-legal research would likely be valuable to Gladys.)

After you complete all or some of these quests on Roseway, you can proceed with the next step below.

“You’ve acquired one of the company secrets that Gladys was talking about. You can return to her to sell it, or keep searching for more secrets.”

If you acquired all of the three items:

“You’ve acquired all of the worthwhile company secrets in Roseway. Head back to Gladys on the Groundbreaker.”

You can still turn all of the acquired items to Gladys instead of the people in Roseway for a considerable bonus (especially with Persuade or Intimidate options).

There are a few reasons to do it this way, especially if you followed the codex discussions of how destructive and lethal the experiments and the resulting items are, and if you dared to look into the darting eyes of the raptidons suspended in chemical liquid inside the lab. (Also, if you don’t care about Anton’s retirement plan and the resulting existential crisis, should you question him enough.)

See the “Martin Callahan” section below if you want to get an additional option and help out an interesting NPC as a result of this decision.

Head to Gladys on the Groundbreaker when you are ready to either disappoint her or to significantly saturate her black market. Try to bring companions to boost your Persuade or Intimidate skill to get a considerable bonus for your efforts.

The Outer Worlds Gladys The Distress Signal

Start of DialogYou can start by selling her “this fancy toothpaste formula,” Anton’s research.

She won’t quite know how to “offload this.” Still, she will pay you about as much as Anton would.

To add meaning to this transaction check out the “Martin Callahan” section below. You will get this option as a result: “Martin Callahan might be interested. Spacer’s Choice is supposedly developing toothpastes now.” She will thank you – “I might just follow-up on that.”

Or, with a [Dumb] option you can sell it off as “a formula for experimental rocket fuel.” Gladys won’t pay more for the research, but she will sound quite impressed.

Next, there is the raptidon musk. Gladys (like Ellie, if you had her in your party when talking to Vaughn) will note that it’s an unusual case. “Naughty, naughty.” Gladys will note that some people might even be able to start “a bidding war” over this. If you didn’t get a chance to discover the nature of the item, it’s used for the creation of an aphrodisiac – “N-Raptured,” in particular. (Thank you, Ellie!)

Then, the FORCE schematics. Gladys will remark, “If that isn’t the most handsome bit of engineering I’ve seen all week.” Still, she will pay about as much as Orson would have.

Now come the bonuses. Gladys will pay you 375 bits on top of all this when you close the quest with her, but you can [Intimidate 65] or [Persuade 65] (Bring Vicar Max and SAM or Pavarti and Felix) for more payment – 500 bits, to be more exact. “Consider it hazard pay.”

If you turned in all of the research, Gladys will be very delighted with you. “That’s plenty, my dear, and more than I thought you’d find.” She will value you over “those SubLight lunkheads.” Your reputation with Auntie Cleo will not change if you do this, even if you have failed all of the quests with Roseway scientists as a result.

Gladys won’t tell you what happened to the research, if you ask – “A matter of customer privacy.”

End of Dialog

Whether you sold partial or full list of secrets to Gladys, The quest The Distress Call will be COMPLETED.

And now, about that Easter Egg you can complete prior to talking to Gladys and what Martin will say if you involved him in the transaction.

The Outer Worlds Martin Callahan Wave

If there was a poll, this NPC might be rated the game’s favorite. We suggest you talk to him by yourself, exploring all of the dialog options and checking out a few extra bits below.

Trust us, the expert dialog writing and excellent voice acting is best experienced on your own.

“Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. Make a choice. Spacer’s Choice.”

That being said, let’s get to know Martin and his story. Head to the Promenade at Groundbreaker and locate the faded Spacer’s Choice sign. A guy wearing a moon head will be attending to the stall.

The Outer Worlds Martin Callahan

Start of Dialog

Martin, a loyal Spacer’s Choice worker will greet you by apologizing about the heat at first (if you didn’t fix the ship’s issue), in voice that hints at him not getting proper sleep for several nights. And obviously overheating underneath that hat. He will recite the Spacer’s Choice slogan and note that there are a lot of them and they are hard to keep track of. “Sometimes I forget.”

From here on you can talk to Martin about Edgewater and learn that he has never been there, only hearing about it and its cannery from his “orientation aetherwave.” His guess is, it “smells as good as it looks.” Depending on what you have done to the town, you will have different options here. If you rerouted the power to the town you can note that the people are struggling, but with good hearts. Vicar Max and Parvati will chime in if they are in your party. Martin will appreciate the spirit. Say it’s a dump, and there will be a little bit of disagreement with the same companions. Martin will sound hopeful and supportive, to his best ability. “I’m sure they’re doing their best – that’s the Spacer’s Choice Spirit.”

Ask about his hat and he will note that he is “bound to satisfy headgear-related inquiries.” Ask him to speak up and… well, enjoy the last bits of humanity escaping this man’s throat with a cry of true corporate loyalty. “TASTE THE FREEDOM!” Where can you get a hat like that? “You would never ask if you knew what it’s like in here.” Ever heard the true voice of a soul in purgatory? Probably actual purgatory if you didn’t deal with the heat issue before chatting with Martin. He will regain his composure after this: “Why, anyone can be a Spacer’s Choice Consumer Relations Specialist! Just keep your nose clean and aim for the moon.”

Is… he doing all right in there? Slogan deflection. Can you see in there? Slogan deflection. How do you brush your teeth? “Spratwash, Mouthswash, and Mantifloss are among the exciting line of dental goods currently in development.” Do you miss eating solid food? Yep, another slogan deflection. Seriously, what dedication, what willpower. Do you have to sleep with that hat on? He has a rather creative solution… Does Spacer’s Choice make you wear that? “At Spacer’s Choice, we Care about your health and emotional well-being. That’s why we put Martin through six years of vendor school only to make him wear this hat.” Do you need me to help get you out of there? “Even if my contract didn’t forbid it, I think- I think it’s a part of me now.” Then, another slogan. Okay… I am addressing the man beneath the mask. Are. You. Okay?

He will finally not be able to reply with a slogan. Something deep within will come to the surface. “Look. This hat, my job? It may not seem like much to a brave space captain, but they’re all that I have.” Some respectable words of wisdom will come out of this man’s closed plastic mouth. Then, “Now if we’re done with the chitchat, I hope you don’t mind if I make the most of this short life and try to be the best moon person I can be.” Ooof.

Apologize for pushing him too hard and Martin will be modestly polite. “It’s fine. I should be stronger than this. Thanks for taking an interest. Speaking of interest! …” Slogan.

What do they sell here? “Anything and everything” and any needed replacements. If you note that the replacement stock availability speaks to the quality Martin will reassure you that the items are always new. Then he will screw up a line and offer to repeat it. Clarify, “the line?” and he will say: “It’s a script. If I don’t follow it to a T, I might lose my job. You want me to do it right?” Allow him to and he will enthusiastically try to promote Spacer’s Choice gear over “overpriced Aramid gear.” Argue with him a bit and he will sound tired again, offering you to buy “a backup or three,” “Become a frequent buyer. Join our friendship rewards program” with a small disclosure at the end.

End of Dialog

The one question many players have asked after talking to someone who might be the most relatable store clerk in the history of first-person rpgs is, how do I free Martin from his “self-made purgatory”? Well, there is no way to do that in the game. We wish we could buy Martin’s position of slavery in the corporate world, but it seems that his job truly became the part of his identity. There is a way to help this admirable man out just a tiny bit, however – keep reading to the “Alternative Ending” below!

Take Felix with you to Martin and initiate dialog.

Martin will promote a product. Felix will sound pleasantly surprised, “Oh, it’s Martin. Hey, Martin! Still wearing the hat?” Martin will note that “this uniform is more than headgear. It’s a state of mind, and our customers know the difference.”

Note is, when you find mentions of Martin inside terminals (try Junlei’s terminal or the security office – pay attention to the terminal you will be hacking for the Vicar, for example), he will be usually called the “Moonhead guy,” so this is the rarer instance of us hearing his name.

Take Ellie with you to Martin and initiate dialog.

Martin will promote a product. Ellie will act shocked: “That’s an Auntie Cleo’s product!” Martin will have a little bit of a mental breakdown. “The company will have my head. Both of them! THIS IS AWFUL! HELP ME, OH LAWS…” Ellie will laugh. “This guy’s real easy to fuck with.” (Albeit I am not sure what you meant by “What I wouldn’t give to see the look on your face” there, Ellie). Martin will be upset, obviously. “What kind of DEPRAVED mind would conjure such a nightmare?” You can have a small laugh yourself or ask Ellie to play nice. “Our friend here is more fragile than he looks.” Martin will try to forget this exchange ever happened.

Trade with Martin and buy a MoonMan Helmet item. The Defective MoonMan Helmet you will find if you lockpick the room in the back will not work. Put on the hat in the armor section of your inventory (makes a cute sound) and talk to Martin again.

Say, “Hey, we’re wearing the same hat!”

Martin’s first reaction, before catching himself, will be “They got you too?” When he notes that it looks very good on you, a snug fit “on your giant head,” Parvati will wonder if Martin is honest. Martin will assure her that he is “obligated to project honest testimony.”

“Wear it with pride. With hope. No one can take that away from you.”

What a tired voice, what an inspiring message.

Head towards the upper level (with SubLight on the left and Bedford’s throne room on the right). To both of your sides immediately will be two terminals for public use.

If you are facing towards Engineering, use the terminal on the left. Pick, “Recent Users” and then Martin’s account that he left logged in. You can view two exchanges: one with a Spacer’s Choice manager, another… a message to his mom.

Martin will be complaining to SC_Manager541 about the hat being a wrong fit. “How many people have worn this thing before me?” Martin will warn the guy that, yes, he can accept this as his life, “I’ll be your moon man – but there won’t be anything left of me to care.” The manager will point to the employment contract. “You made your Spacer’s Choice.”

You can then read his message to MAMA_C. He writes to her with hopes that she is doing well. Apparently Martin was an engineer back on Terra 2. Leader of the SubLight branch, Lilya, offered him a career in salvage “if this thing doesn’t work out.” He asks her to give “Dad and the others” a hug from him. It’s very important to him to get little reminders of home like this. He sent her some Spacer’s Choice goods, since there is some company discount, even though she can get the identical items at home. The brief reply is, “Are you okay, honey?” She probably picked up his troubled voice from the text.

You can go to Martin and warn him that he is still logged in on the public terminal. “… Shit. Oh shit. No, I mean… Ahem! Yeah. Excellent. That was intentional. As the face of Spacer’s Choice, it’s my honor to be a public figure. Who needs privacy when you have job security?”

Hopefully he will take care of that on a break. If he gets breaks? Martin might need a break.

So, what if you sold Anton’s research to Gladys and mentioned Spacer’s Choice efforts to develop their toothpaste?

The Outer Worlds Martin Alternative Ending

Well, Martin will sound much more awake. “I received a very interesting message from Gladys Culkelly not too long ago – you know, about the toothpaste? The Spacer’s Choice trustees will be pleased. I might even get an extra meal voucher. And I hear I’ve got you to thank. So, thanks.”

You can tell Martin to be bold and to ask for two meal vouchers – he will think on checking his contract to make sure if boldness “is really part of our brand.”

You can note that Gladys is very quick and Martin will note her quick knitting skills. “Anyone on the station has a baby, she just about buries them in booties.”

Or, “Don’t mention it. Seriously, don’t.” And Martin will sound… genuinely happy. “For once, it just might be the best choice.”

You can feel a bit proud of yourself when this loading screen comes up from now on:

The Outer Worlds Martin Spacer's Choice Toothpaste

It was all for you, Martin.

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Mila Grish
Mila Grish

Dedicated contributor at EIP Gaming and a part-time collector of books she will never have time to actually read. Jumps on the newest releases just as quickly as on the uncovered dusty collections from the basement. For her, shiny graphics can never be an excuse to not have a polished player experience or an immersive story.

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