KEM : Thor


Ultrahuman Designation: Thor

Birth Name: Rajesh (last name Unknown)

Occupation: Pantheon commander

Appearance: Male, dark skinned, dark haired.  Usually grows its hair long, with significant facial hair.  No obvious fat or muscle tone.  Uncommonly tall (approx. 6’4″).  Wears a distinctive pseudo Norse regalia as part of it’s uniform.  Chain accessories, armor as fashion statement.

Sigil: Metal crown/circlet, worked to resemble a laurel wreath.  Distinctive hammer is another identifying characteristic.

Super strength: Level 1

Super durability: Level 2

Super speed: None


Rajesh’s early life is a blank, but reasonable guesses can be made.  It was born into poverty in the midst of the Indian Pantheon territory.  It underwent the Procedure, likely under duress.  It rose through the ranks due to its startling power array.

Patriots first learned of the creature when it arrived on the southern front with a large retinue in tow.  It is likely that the creatures were transported by a scavenged human airplane, as the Pantheon is not known to have any Ultras tasked with large scale transportation.

It immediately took command of the local Pantheon forces, and launched a series of assaults, clashing repeatedly with the Third Fist.  It came off worse in each encounter (Primarily due to Mover), although its mobility always allowed it to escape.  It did better in conflict with Sixth Fist, but still was generally felt to be on the losing end of the clash between the monsters.

At some point its superiors apparently tired of its lack of success, and sponsored or supported the entity known as Krishna to take over.  The Pantheon Ultras in Redo are divided between these leaders.


Thor has, in addition to its physical Ultra powers, the abilities of flight and density manipulation.  Either is formidable.  Together with its other gifts they make for a mighty Ultra, one who has a Tally in the high three figures.

Thor’s flight is directed and swift, but lacks much ability to change direction gracefully.  It essentially flings itself at a chosen angle.  At any time (even midflight) it may hurl itself in a different direction, but it can’t really slow down or speed up, and it appears to become disoriented at times when forced to turn.  It prefers to make straight flights, in long arcs.

Thor’s flight approaches speeds of a hundred or so miles an hour.  Slower by far than aircraft, but fast enough that ground combatants can’t really keep up.

Thor also has the ability to increase or decrease the density of objects which it takes hold of.  It can make a building as light as a tennis ball, or a tennis ball as heavy as a building.  It typically exercises this ability to bomb targets from above with hurled projectiles that strike like asteroid impacts.  Thor has killed many Ultras this way.

Patriots have speculated, in fact, that Thor may have killed an Ultra with level 2 Ultra durability using this gift.  That should not be possible, but the theory goes that this gift would allow Thor to remove Ultra toughness from an Ultra that it got it’s hands on.  KEM applauds this possibility, and hopes that this monster removes many others before it meets its just fate.

Crimes against humanity:

Mass murder, torture, along with a wide variety of more exotic crimes.  Thor feels absolutely no compunction against harming humanity, and seems to revel in the opportunity to lash out at those who cannot fight back.  Unusually for its debased kind, Thor has never been reported to indulge in rape.  Likely the creature kills the witnesses.

Kill Priority: Highest.  Thor is an active Ultra of the worst sort.  A living, ongoing, genocide. It is a rare day that it doesn’t kill a human.

Kill Method: As with many of the worst Ultras, the brave patriots of KEM are unable to destroy Thor.  Ultra toughness level two protects it against all but its own debased kind.  An enterprising patriot who was able to manipulate one of its fellow monsters into ending its life would be a hero to all mankind.


Preventer 2:1

In the morning, I got up and went to see the old bitch.

In the wake of our ‘ha ha not really’ promotion to being a Fist I’d brought my new comrades back to my place.  I told Thui to scram, sent the Knights away and let everyone get some sleep.  The house was big enough for five to settle down comfortably.  I’d planned for this.  Just, in my plan, I was sleeping in the big room that I’d mentally termed the ‘Leader’s Room’.  Instead I’d spent the night next door to it in my usual room, rigid with rage and terror at how my plan had gone awry.

Haunter was easy enough to find.  A stream of chattering spectres milled about on the ground floor of the building, translucent copies of insignificant humans babbling about meaningless subjects.  What was wrong with the woman?  Just because you could manifest something didn’t mean you had to do it constantly.  I didn’t leave barriers all over the place.  Was a little consideration too much to ask for?

The crone was sitting in the kitchen, calmly eating one of my protein packets.  She was already looking my way when I stormed in, lined face spreading into a placid smile that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Adder.

“I’m sorry for eating your supplies,” she said, before I could get a word in.  “I was just so hungry.”

“I don’t eat.”

“Ah, well, no harm done then.”

She lapsed back into a placid silence.  As I watched, a translucent streak snapped into her, emerging from the ceiling and vanishing into her form.  An instant later another shadow stepped out, nodded to me and walked on past, a broad grin on its ill defined face.

“Must you litter our house with these…things?” I asked, seizing upon the easy source of annoyance before getting to what really mattered, the question of leadership.  I hated confrontation.  I’d tried to train myself to be better at it, but I still found myself reflexively backing down, like I had yesterday.

“They are people, Preventer. Just like us.”

That was a bit rich.  Her shadows didn’t have powers.  They were nothing like us.  I couldn’t make myself press the point though.  Something about her stance hinted that she wouldn’t take well to it, and like it or not this hag would be in my Fist for the rest of what I very strongly hoped would be an eternal life.

“Ok, people then.  But, can you just, like, keep them inside of you?  I mean, you do that most of the time, right?”

She sighed deeply, took another bite of the powder.

“Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.  In my storage they can’t sense anything but what I sense.  They can’t do anything but speak on ONE channel, which they ALL share.  There’s a strict rotation, let’s each of them have their turn getting a few sentences out.  That’s their life.  You want me to cram them back in just because you think they are underfoot?”


“No … of course not.” I tried to still my wringing hands.  Focus Rebeccah!

“I guess it’s alright if they are around, as long as they don’t get in our way.” I said.  It wasn’t important, after all, and I’d bank some goodwill by giving in on this.  Heck, I was probably also getting some from putting her up in more style than the bus that she’d be used to.

“That’s very kind of you,” she said, and ate another bite of my property.

“Anyway,” I pushed past the anger.  “We need to talk about this whole Thor situation.”

Haunter put down her the packet with startling alacrity and reached up to rub her mouth.

“You are staring right at my face!  Snitcher will read our lips.”

I boggled.

“Snitcher’s asleep right now.  Even if he was awake, he isn’t about to spend his time watching two women talk over breakfast.  Have you met the guy?”

I knew Snitcher pretty well.  I wasn’t even part of his network and I’d learned all about him.  Haunter had no idea what was up with the guy and she was linked to him?  How dumb was this woman?

“Once,” she said, as though she was making some kind of point.

“He basically never watches people who aren’t doing anything exciting.  He’s got a rotation of humans who watch old world tv and porn that he watches whenever he can get away with it.  Trust me, there is no way he is watching us.”

I didn’t add ‘duh’, because that wouldn’t have helped anything, but I think she got it from my tone.

The weird thing was this seemed to have a big impact on her.  Haunter sort of slumped in her seat for a moment, eyes going glassy.  Then she sat up and gave me a much more genuine smile.

“Thank you so much for telling me that.  I can’t tell you how much better that makes me feel.”

What the actual heck?  We were friends now?  I would never understand people.

“Ok, well, you are welcome of course.  Uh…let’s talk about this Thor situation.”

I wrenched the conversation back on track.

“Let’s.  What do we know about him?”

Her voice changed slightly on this line.  Or the way she spoke did.  Slightly different cadence, a military, clipped way of talking.  Was she letting one of her human shadows talk?  That would be crazy, right?

“Well, the public information is pretty simple.  He’s a warlord, leading a Pantheon force against us in the south.  Officially has about a hundred Ultras, the usual statistics would mean that maybe ten of these ladies are as tough as a given member of our crew.”

She nodded attentively as I talked, but it didn’t seem that what I was saying was sinking in.  Surely that should have prompted some reaction.  I tried to make things clearer.

“We are basically going to be fighting ourselves twice, plus ninety other somewhat weaker Ultras.  We are dead.”

At this she chuckled.

“Haven’t been in a lot of fights, have you ‘Venter?”


“Just a few, but I bet my Tally is as high as yours.”

I actually wouldn’t make that bet, but no one who lived in the Regime could back down when a question like that came up.

“These fights you were in, they were just you and the other Ultra, yeah?”


“And none of those Ultras could hurt you, right?  That Ultra Toughness Three kept you safe and sound no matter what?”

“Obviously.” I couldn’t see where she was going.

“Well I’ve been in in fights that were a lot bigger.  A dozen Ultras to a side.  Rode with Third Fist when they hit Athena’s army outside of Cago.  Retreated alongside First Fist when Zeus burned the South.”

“Oh, wow, you’ve fought in the Defiances?” I asked, before I could catch myself.  I hadn’t been able to find out much about Haunter when I researched her, but the little that I did know painted a picture of a sort of beaten down drifter, working in the TroubleShooters for decades without the least notion of advancement.

“I have,” she said.  “And I will again.”

Then she looked right into my eyes and winked.

Had Haunter, of all people, the decrepit grandma, figured out my plan?  Did she know?  There was no way that she could, right?  I’d been too careful.  We’d known one another for a day.  This had to be unrelated.

“Well, did you ever see Ultras win at odds like these?” I asked, passing by that conversational landmine entirely.  She MUST have been referring to a belief that she would one day defend the Regime against another defiance.  There was simply no way for her to know that I’d formed this group in order to carry out the Fifth Defiance, and join the Pantheon.  I wasn’t being arrogant.  The evidence didn’t exist in any space time segment that she could reach.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t exactly a ‘fight’, per se.”

She did air quotes around ‘fight’.  She had the mannerisms of a much younger woman sometimes, was another one of her ghostly passengers driving her arms?  How did that even work?

“I’m not sure that I’m following you.”

“A Union force hit one of our garrisons while they were sleeping.  Killed a few dozen Ultras, didn’t lose a single soul.  Afterwards, from what the Troubleshooters could figure out, it turned out that there were just 8 or so of the Union guys, plus human spies guiding them in.”

“Are you suggesting a sneak attack?” I was a bit flummoxed.  She had to know that that wasn’t on the table.  The Regime didn’t do that.  She disapproved.

Haunter nodded.

“Only way we have any kind of shot at making it through this.  Prevailer didn’t tell us to have a duel with these clowns or anything.  We are just supposed to take care of them.  Everyone knows that Fists never try to get surprise, so they won’t see this one coming.  Also, we are new, so their scouts, if the Pantheon bothers with scouts in their own territory, won’t know us from random strangers.  We’ll take our Sigils off, blend in with the humans, and hit them when their guard is down.”

I barely knew where to begin with this.

“Haunter, Jane, look.  You know that Prevailer likes to get Snitcher to show her Fist battles from the Fist’s perspective.  If we take out a hundred Ultras without letting her peep she’ll kill us.”

Haunter gave a small smile, just exactly at the moment where I saw the flaw in that logic myself.

“So …. die instead of risking Prevailer’s anger, the punishment for which would be death?  How does that make any kind of sense at all?”

“Wait … wait.”

I took a second.  This was a trick that I’d learned a long time ago.  Never decide anything important without giving the matter some serious uninterrupted concentration.  I sat down against a wall, closed my eyes and started thinking it through.

Ok, so our alibi would have to be that we didn’t know about Prevailer’s rules.  Normally, that wouldn’t fly, but she’d made it clear that gathering a Fist was a big hassle.  Would she really kill us off immediately after we’d proven ourselves and start the process over?  Even for the Regime that was self-sabotage of an impressive degree.

For the rest of the Fist, this would make sense.  For me it was a little dicier.  No matter how badly the fight with Thor went, I wasn’t going to die there.  No one in Thor’s unit could harm me.  But Prevailer could, so Haunter was asking me to risk my life.

Then again, the only reason I’d started this plan was my certainty that Prevailer would kill me.  With her speech confirming that apocalypse was explicitly part of her desired future, could I afford to start again with another Fist?  Would Subtracter and the others even let me?  Would She?

While I was thinking I became aware, through a thudding sound and vibrations in the floor, that our hulking leader was approaching.

Indulger!  Just thinking his name made me angry.  The leader of our Fist was a giant dolt, someone beyond easy for the other Fist commanders to manipulate and mold.  I’d been saddled with a figurehead who lacked even the wit to realize that he was one.

“What’s Pre doing sitting down on the ground with her eyes closed?” he asked.  Everyone was doing nicknames this morning!

“She’s trying to think,” said Haunter.

“She can’t do that with her eyes open?” he asked, guilelessly.  Haunter stifled a guffaw.

That would be quite enough of that.  I got to my feet.

“Indulger, what do you think we ought to do about Thor?  About our mission?”

“Oh, well,” he scratched his head, “I figured I’d ask you two about that.  How should we set up the battle?”

Haunter spoke up.

“Basically, the question is whether we go on defense or attack them first.”

She gave me a hard look, asking me to play along.  Plainly she’d realized what I had, which was that there was a high possibility that Indulger’s infantile morals wouldn’t allow an unfair play like a sneak attack.  She was also assuming that I’d come around on her idea.  All told, she was placing a lot of faith in me by asking me to back her play with Indulger.  Maybe she’d begun to understand how smart I was.

“I think that we should attack.”  I tried to gauge my language to be easy for Indulger to understand, without being too obviously patronizing.  “We’ll go to where they are staying and take them out.”

He nodded.

“I like the idea, you two.  If we go to them there will be the smallest chance that humans get caught up in our match.  We can fight them in the Pantheon instead of our country, and we won’t have to deal with hostages or rebuild stuff.”

I always had to keep in mind that this man, this great brute lump of a man, had bested Pursuer in personal combat.  The dog man who stalked my nightmares had been soundly thumped by Indulger.  It was a comforting thought, and one that tided me through the greatest surges of my profound disappointment in my Fist’s leader.

After a moment Indulger spoke again.

“That settles it.  We’ll go to the Pantheon and fight them at home.  I love an away match.”

“I’ll tell Fisher and Nirav,” I volunteered.  It would be interesting to see their reactions to the news.  My guess was that Nirav wouldn’t care, and Fisher wouldn’t reveal anything, but it would still be worth it to double check.

“We can take my bus,” said Haunter.  “We’ll make great time.”

This was all going a bit fast, but more details could wait until we’d gathered everyone together to chew it over.  I nodded to the two of them and started back into the upstairs.  They ought to be up by now.

Fisher was apparently up, or, at least, she wasn’t in her bedroom.

A momentary pang of panic came over me.  Had she run off?  Snitcher had her linked up, so she couldn’t get away without blinding herself or something, but even the attempt would be fatal to me.

I kicked myself for not setting some kind of guard.  Normally there’d be the Knights, of course, but I’d sent them home when the Fist got here.

I swept across the hall in high panic and pounded on the door to the guest room I’d put Nirav in.  The door wasn’t latched, and it swung open at my knock.

Conflicting feelings washed over me.  Relief, because I’d found Fisher.  Embarrassment, at what I’d interrupted.  Anger, they’d broken my bed.

I stood in the door for a moment, hand still raised up in the knocking position.  They looked over and gave me a pair of sheepish, but very satisfied looks.

Slowly, without saying even one word, I put my hand down and pulled the door shut.


Profile: Thor


The Pantheon’s leadership is an ever shifting affair.  New warlords rise and fall with each passing week.  Only a rare few manage to maintain their fortunes for any significant period of time.  Such beings are invariably Ultras of great personal power, and often possess uncommon political acumen as well.  The case of the warlord Thor is one of the first variety.

Thor first came to power approximately a decade ago, betraying and killing his chieftain in one of the interminable power struggles which roil the Pantheon in southeast Asia.  Seizing leadership he immediately attacked his former master’s allies, reasoning that they would never see it coming.  Once he’d attracted censure from every quarter, he transferred the small cadre of loyalists that he’d cultivated to the Union front.

Here he flourished for a time, leading mobs of Pantheon Ultras to assault Union positions, and returning alive time and again.  He displayed no particular tactical affinities, but his bravery and aggression endeared him to the ever changing swathes of cannon fodder which made up his command.

After Zeus took power and began to reorganize the Union front into a more formal affair Thor became something of a throwback, or outlier.  His tribal presence clashed with the Leadership Council’s desire to wrest the casualty rates back towards parity by adopting their enemy’s old world discipline.  Recognizing that he had, once again, worn out his welcome, Thor took ship to the Regime Front.

Here his lack of imagination and love for direct battle were not the impediments that they had proven to be against the Union.  He smashed Pantheon resources against the Fists, time and again.  Subtracter, Third Fist and Sixth Fist have all done battle with his forces, and handed him significant defeats.  Nonetheless, Thor remains one of the Pantheon’s frontline leaders in the battle against Prevailer’s Regime.


Thor’s pledged forces number 84 at last count.  62 of these are the Type 1 Ultras that the Pantheon are notorious for flinging into combat.  Blasters without Ultra toughness.  Brutes without a full set of the Ultra physical abilities, etc.

The remaining 22, including Thor himself, are all Type 2 Ultras, with a few close to being Type 3’s.  These are the core of Thor’s force, and the meaningful measure of his strength.  It is these inner circle Ultras that Thor looks to for victory, and what victories he has achieved has come about because of their combat abilities.


Thor is generally driven by an inferiority complex.  He strives always to prove his aggression, power and ability to succeed.  He cannot stand the notion that anyone is looking down on him, and strives with all his might to destroy those expressing such contempt.  He has a particular desire to show himself equal or superior to female Ultras, having been excluded from early Pantheon associations on the basis of his gender.


Thor will likely be killed by Subtracter or Prevailer in the near future.  He will continue to grind his pledged forces against the Regime’s Fists until they send a Type 3 against him, whereupon he will lose core forces retreating.  It is unlikely, but not impossible, that he will succeed in destroying Third Fist or killing Subtracter.  Either would prompt Prevailer to destroy him.  The most likely reason that Zeus sent him here was to pin down the Regime front for a few months, and to rid himself of a tactical liability.  It is likely that these goals will be achieved.

Haunter 2:7

The tension in the room lifted somewhat when we got the news that we wouldn’t have to suffer through an interview with First Fist.  No point to it, now that we had the majority.

The Knight who delivered the message took the Posture for a moment, then headed back down the hallway.  Presumably we’d be summoned when Prevailer wanted us.  We had a little while to relax.

I’d been dreading meeting First Fist again, honestly.  They were such garbage, such vile shit.  I’d have had to strain to hold the shades inside in case any of them wanted to do anything dumb while simultaneously mouthing pleasantries at war criminals.  The last time I’d talked to Pursuer I’d thought my heart would stop.  It was an enormous relief that we wouldn’t be meeting the Regime’s worst unit today.

For all that, I wasn’t the most obviously relieved of group.  That title would go to Preventer.  She actually shrank into a chair, the soap-opera slow collapse you used to see on the more trashy programs.

“She mentioned that the First Fist had a grudge against her,” said Joe.  “Guess she wasn’t looking forward to seeing them.”

That was a bit of an understatement, it seemed.  Preventer sucked air in and out through her mouth, great wheezing gasps accompanied by visible shudders.  Strange behavior from a woman who didn’t need to breathe.

Indugler, Nirav and Fisher began to chat.  Presumably they got the same vibe that I did, that Preventer wouldn’t be thankful for anyone pointing out her moment of weakness.  I listened in at first, but it was mostly just nervous relief talking.  They were thrilled that this had gone so well, worried about what would come next…all the usual things that you’d expect people to feel at this point.

I used that time to call the Reserve to order.  The Colonel held forth.

“I’m always at a loss, at times like these, on what to call you.  There are those among you who are my subordinates.  Should I address you in that way?  Should I hold forth as the last vestige of the American military, and call upon your obedience by invoking the traditions and oaths of the finest fighting institutions that have ever existed?”

No, most of you haven’t sworn those oaths, and never lived as servicemen and women under my command.

Shall I appeal to our common situation?  The experience of existing, day in and day out, within Jane’s gift is a humbling one.  Surely it must build common ground.  Shall I address you as my fellow shades?  Fellow ghosts?

No, for we remain human still.  But there it is, there’s the key.

My fellow humans, we need to talk.

In a very short time, just a few minutes, Jane will stand in front of Prevailer.  She will stand before the beast, no, that’s not quite right.

Peggy Martin would like for you to think of her as a beast.  She would like for you to think that she was a monster, a natural disaster.  But that is exactly the wrong that our existence exposes.  The Regime’s central fiction.  The perverse and blatantly incorrect idea that Ultrahumans are not human.  That they do not partake of a shared heritage with the rest of us.

Prevailer is no monster, she is simply a criminal.  Anyone, given limitless might, could choose to abuse it.  Could choose to ruin the world.  It takes no special talent to be wrong.  It is easy, common.  In just a few hours, Jane will confront this criminal.

I call upon you, at that time, to hold your hands back.  I call upon you to withhold condemnation, to make no move to bring this overgrown delinquent to justice.  Jane must be, not a soldier, but an undercover inspector, building the trust of the suspect and preparing for the day when the natural order of things can be put right.

And that day is coming!  Let none among you doubt that.  Our gracious host’s tireless efforts WILL bear fruit.  The world WILL be set right.  Peggy Martin’s own moronic notions, her conflation of power and shared sin with her own warped moral compass, will blind her to the peril that we pose.

Let me be concrete here, as our losses were concrete.  If Jane can keep everything under control during this interview, if you cooperate, then before the day is out we will learn the truth of Linker.  THAT is a fact.  We will see the Regime’s vulnerable underbelly.

Perhaps Jane will strike.  She may decide that our lives are worth giving up in order to destroy the system of the Fists for all time.  Perhaps we will simply pass this information on to the Resistance, allowing others to take advantage while we search for further weaknesses.  Perhaps she will take no immediate action.

Officially, Jane answers to me, but the obvious truth of the matter is that she has the final say in what is going to go down.  My final exhortion, to you all, my fellow refugees, and to you, our gracious carrier, is to be guided by the better angels of your nature.  Let us all exercise the caution that this task demand, the nuanced discretion that our civilization trained in us, and take from this criminal a vital pillar of her gang.”

I sat for a moment further, absorbing that.

It was a pretty good speech.  He’d always had a talent for them, and I was sure he had the time to compose them, locked away as he was.  It really brought home the immensity of the decision that I was facing.

It wasn’t exactly as he’d portrayed it.  There wasn’t really much of a chance that destroying Linker immediately would be the right call.  She or he might well be in a link.  This was mostly recon.  But the decision was still real.

Once I understood the Linker system, disseminating that information would be my first active and verifiable treason against the Regime.  If the Resistance was infiltrated, which there was every reason to expect it to be, it would be my last act.  It would be the death of my new colleagues in the Fist, as well as the thousands that I bore within the reserve.

Would it be worth it?  The Fists exported Prevailer’s will, no doubt of that, but She was still almighty without them.  Would She simply shatter the world when it was no longer so pleasant to maintain Her dominion?  Could I take that risk?

Heavy questions indeed.

Preventer and I were still sitting quietly, absorbed in our respective thoughts, when the Knight knocked on the door again.  Indulger broke off his conversation to walk over and open it.

“Fourth Fist?” he asked. “She would like to see you now.”

We followed the Knight down the hall, finally leaving the ruined office.

The interior of the Lair passed quickly, an indistinguishable blur of neglected hallways, guard stations and empty rooms.  The place had been raided long ago.  No real hint of past glories remained, and such prestige as it presently had was not expressed by any kind of artifacts.

I thought at first that we’d head towards the ruins of the Oval Office, but we headed down to a subterranean level instead.  It was actually an old break room, soda dispensing machine still intact, where we found Her.

There weren’t any guards to alert us to the encounter.  The Knight we were following did not slow.  We simply passed around a corner, like dozens before it, and found ourselves entering Her presence. I dropped and took up the Posture before I could take a second thought.  The sounds of the others doing likewise was reassuringly uniform.  I’d been worried about what Indulger might do.

Prevailer looked over at us.  She seemed to come to some kind of conclusion, then impatiently motioned for us to rise.

As always, there was nothing much to Prevailer, physically.  She had the kind of body that you’d see behind a counter bagging your groceries, or at a local license office renewing your forms.  Pudgy, dark skinned, middle aged.  She was wearing a sweat suit.  The only sign that this was the closest thing Earth had to a ruler was Her famous Sigil, a baseball cap with a crown scribbled on it.

“So, you are the Fourth Fist, huh?  The peeps Adder said can throw down?”

Prevailer’s voice didn’t really vary from a bored monotone.  She still had slight twinges of the accent of the old American urban poor.

No one answered for a moment.  I didn’t want to upstage our leader.  Presumably the rest of the Fist felt the same.  On the other hand Indulger was just standing there, gaping slightly.  Fisher dug an elbow into his ribs.

“Yeah, that’s us.”

“I figured.  I guess it’s time for me to give you the talk.  I don’t wanna stand around all afternoon.  You gonn’ be on your way and fighting before much longer.”

Everyone stood in silence as Prevailer took some scraps of paper out of a pocket and consulted them, then started talking.

“So, I was just a lil’ thing, just a lil’ bitch, helpless, when my ma told me something damn scary.  She said that there were seven billion people on earth.  Can you believe that?  It was true.  Bout the only true thing she ever said.  Yeah, she dinn’ sugar coat it, laid it down on me when I was jus’ small.  Seven billion of you, one of me.  Scarcy stuff, huh?”

She took off her Sigil for a moment, bending the cap in her hands.  Her eyes were unfocused, fixed on whatever memory She was examining.  I fought down a mad desire to attack while She was monologging.

“When I got big I started working on that.  Threw me in jail for some other stuff, but they never knew I’d killed a guy.  Wasn’t nothin’.  You know that tho.  Killing ain’t nothing.  But there were too many of you to kill.”

She paused for a few moments, picked back up the notes, flipped through them.

“So, the Fists are part of the plan for dealing with that.  We are down to like 4 billion now.  The game goes like this.  The Process is set to kill most people who take it.  Those who live are Ultras, and the Fists kill those.  Anyone tough enough to take you out would be fun for me to take on.”

“Set to kill?” I erupted within the reserve.  “What the hell does she mean by that?”

“As my Fist, you are gonn’ be fighting all the time.  Killing off Ultras, making them kill their own people to make more.  That’s what you do for me.  You kill Ultras.  What I do for you is two things.”

Prevailer held up two fingers, as though she needed to reiterate the concept of ‘1 + 1’.

“First off, I don’t kill you.  I’ve never killed a Fist that was doing its job.  Or, not for good.  Anyway, if you kill for me, you are mostly safe from me.  It’d be a pain in the ass to replace you.”

She gestured around for some kind of emphasis.

“You think I like wasting afternoons on this bullshit?  That I like calling everyone together?  It’s a huge pain!  So I’m not gonna kill you until I have to.  Sleep easy.  That’s the first payoff.”

Indulger looked like he was about to say something at this point, but didn’t actually break his silence.  Maybe he wasn’t as dumb as I’d feared.

“The second thing, you get one favor.  Can be anything that is too much pain in the ass, of course.  But mos’ stuff though?  Done.  Want a mountain of gold?  No sweat.  Want me to kill some punk you hate?  Consider her dead.”

This time the silence stretched a bit longer, before Prevailer pointed to Indulger.

“Uh, yeah.  We, we were talking about-“

“Uh…Uh…Stop stuttering, you sound like a lil’ bitch!”

Prevailer aped his mannerisms, his stoop and distinctive cadence, as she spoke.  She moved her hands fast and laughed at his flinch.  It was pure playground bullying.

“We want a boat!” said Indulger, firmly.

“What?!” I exploded again.  “A goddamn boat?”

“A boat?” She said.

“A big damn boat.  And all the people on board have to do what we say.  We’ll sail across the ocean and kick ass wherever the sea goes.”

“Don’t his powers depend on contact with the ground?” asked the Colonel rhetorically.

Prevailer shook her head, as though amused or dismayed.

“A damn boat.  Fine, done.  You get through your trial and you can pick any boat you want.  You’ll be in charge of everyone but me on board it.”

Trial?  I felt a chill hand seize my heart.  Getting the approval of a majority of her psychotic slaves wasn’t trial enough?

“Nice!” Indulger put up his hand and got a high five from a shell shocked looking Nirav.  “Can’t wait to see it!  You won’t be disappointed, Boss, our Boat will be the coolest place in the whole Regime.”

Prevailer said nothing, just sort of blinked at that.  Indulger’s entire demeanor indicated that he had been expecting to be turned down.  Now he seemed relieved, almost manic.  She didn’t seem to know quite how to take that.

“So, Boss, what’s the trial gonna be?  Or can’t you tell us?”  Indulger’s audacity continued.  He addressed Prevailer like you might anyone else, and seemed to be taking the insanity of this new hurdle in stride.

She seemed to be getting over her momentary confusion, and responded with a breezy carelessness that matched his tone.

“Go down south.  Son’ of a gun calls hisself Thor is causing some trouble.  He’s scrapped with Third and Sixth fist a time or two.  He won’t know you though.  I want Fourth Fist to go down there, kill Thor and his gals.  Then come back to get Linked up.”

We were being deployed into battle, and with a Pantheon warlord, WITHOUT the Link?  I wasn’t even going to get my chance to take action against the Regime?

I started to speak up, but out of the corner of my eye I saw Preventer give a slight head shake.  As little as I liked her,she was probably right.  Asking for clarifications, fighting the request…none of those were options.  When She gave orders, we obeyed.  Until I got the rest of the Fist on my side, and until the time came for open defiance this would remain true.

“Where-“ started Indulger, but something shut him up.  Maybe it was Nirav’s subtle hand motions.  Maybe it was Prevailer’s untroubled gaze.  Whatever it was, it stopped him from trying to get directions from Her.

“We’ll take care of it.”

“Do that.  Then come back.  Tell Subtracter when you are done.”

We all nodded.  She turned away and took out a handheld video game.  It seemed like we were dismissed.  We walked out of the room.

Once we’d gotten a little ways away down the hall I asked the question that had to be on everyone’s mind.

“Thor, I’ve heard that name.  He’s a Pantheon heavy hitter, right?  Fights in the south?  About how many Ultras are in his crew?”

I didn’t really expect an answer to this.  I was mostly just sort of establishing that I was a forward thinking person who the team should turn to in times like this.  It was a bit jarring when Preventer answered immediately.

“A hundred.”

The Regime’s Birth 1

History is replete with calamities that were, in retrospect, inevitable.  There have been many wars where the underlying causes were systemic in nature.  Too many of Tribe A, who hates Tribe B too much to coexist.  Customs that didn’t mesh.  That sort of thing.

The destruction of the human dominated society which immediately proceeded our own was not of this nature.  We live in the world we live in, Ultra augmented or not, Pantheon subject, Union citizen or Regime victim, because of Dr. Everett Chen and Peggy Martin.

No apportionment of blame would be complete without considering the college of Westen, where Dr. Chen first brought forth his thesis on Essence Theory.  If they had simply fired him, perhaps we’d still be living in a world that abides by physics today.  If they had embraced his discoveries, perhaps the first Ultras would have been carefully selected by the government of the day.  Instead, they made sport of him.

He doubtless bears some of the fault for this.  Dr. Chen was undoubtedly somewhere on some mental health spectrum or other, and didn’t understand that proving something to his own satisfaction didn’t automatically convince everyone that he spoke with.  He brought his seemingly wild and outlandish conclusions, the ‘essence’ he spoke of would have sounded remarkably like the Christian or Jewish soul, to the school board’s attention without a shred of evidence.  The theory seemed sound to him, after all.  When the board gently suggested that he put his efforts back behind the brain studies that he was supposed to be doing he more or less disregarded them.

When he went on television and claimed that the board supported him, he wasn’t trying to make a power play.  He honestly thought that, since he’d told them the reasons that he found convincing, they must have believed him.  He didn’t see anything wrong with putting Westen College’s name firmly behind his cryptoreligious nonsense.  It was a PR debacle.

Westen’s board responded by terminating the doctor, and by seeing to it that he would receive no employment from any others.  It is likely that this blacklist would have failed had Dr. Chen been diligent in his search for outside assistance, but it seems that he was crushed by the rejection.  He turned to private study.  He built his lab at his apartment.

It is generally accepted as some malign equivalent of a miracle that Peggy Martin (small time shit head and career criminal) decided to rob the old man on the very night that the Process was to be tested.  That she, in a chemical induced frenzy, consumed the very first dose of the Process is the stuff of a comic book’s origin story.  Unfortunately, Dr. Chen read comic books.

Picture it.  Prevailer-in-embryo, Peggy Martin, crashed out in a dingy lab in a drunken stupor.  It would have taken some time for her form to harden to Ultra Tough two. She was UNCONSCIOUS, and initially still vulnerable to human means.  One stick of dynamite, and the cities of the world would still be standing.  One whiff of nerve gas and our population would be twice what is today.

Dr. Chen, when the intruder survived, was there to help her make sense of her newfound powers.  He was with her when she discovered her Ultras Strength, her teleportation, and her endurance.  He was patient and calm, sitting with her as the drugs she’d taken worked through her system, ready to help and guide her.  He saw her as vindication, proof that his theories were true.  He saw her as a daughter figure, which his own life had never provided.  He saw her, if the truth be told, as a fledgling superhero, just like his comics described.

Haunter 2:6

Nirav was already shaking his head.

“It doesn’t work like that.  I told you.  Condemner …. he comes out when HE wants to.  I can’t just fetch him on command.”

The Jury felt that he was probably telling the truth, none of the telltale twitches or mannerisms of a liar.  They’d been wrong before though.

“Stop lying,” said Fisher.

“I’m not lying!” he protested.  “I really can’t control when he comes out.  It isn’t me that does it!”

Fisher didn’t change her expression, still smiling pleasantly.

“That’s not how Ultra powers work.  You can control it.  If you need to, you can use your powers.”

She spoke in a calm monotone, stating facts.  It wasn’t so much that she was trying to convey a lack of alarm, I gathered, as the fact that she was unpracticed at conversational interactions.  She’d mentioned that she was imprisoned somewhere.  Must have been solitary or close to it.

“More importantly,” I overrode them, “we can’t exactly have Condemner burning inside the Lair.  Subtracter is close by, and Her.  I’ve never seen him in action, but I take it that Condemner does a lot of collateral damage?”

I directed this last at Nirav.  It was a softball, right down the center.  Fisher had been winding him up, and that would be no good to anyone.  Giving him a question that he could answer should get his confidence back up.

Nirav nodded.

“To say the least.  I would venture to guess that Condemner deliberately spreads the impact of his battles out.  I can’t speculate as to his reasons.  Perhaps he draws strength from the devastation?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Preventer spoke up.

I turned to look at her.  She didn’t look like she was experiencing the same borderline panic that I felt when I thought of Nirav petitioning Refiner.  What did she know?

“What do you mean, Pre?” asked Indulger.

“Refiner…isn’t in charge of Second Fist?” I guessed.  That didn’t exactly make any sense.  I’d spoken to Refiner and his crew several times.  It had been his sponsorship, purchased by tolerating Seth and company on my rounds, that got me into this group.

Indulger shushed me, absently.  I raised my eyebrows involuntarily.  It had been decades since that had happened.  Maybe not since I became an Ultra?

“You could say that.  You could say a lot more, actually.  Refiner isn’t in charge of  Second Fist anymore…because he’s completely senile.  He lost his marbles a few years back, totally checked out.  I think he’s actually died a few times.  The Link keeps bringing him back, and they can make his powers work, but the lights aren’t on, and nobody’s home, if you take my meaning.”

That didn’t mesh with my experience of the man at all.  Joe Ludd, Refiner, had been old, sure, but leathery and tough, with the same raspy voice that I remembered from the old tv broadcasts.  For all his age, it had looked as though he was vital still.  Certainly his eyes were clear and he had no difficulty following our conversation.

“Are you…?”

I trailed off.  I didn’t want to offend Preventer any more than I already had, but how to finish that question?  Sure?  Positive?  Crazy?  They would all be decent choices.

“Is it Deceiver?” asked NIrav.

Preventer nodded.

“Got it in one.  She uses her illusions to make gullible folks “, and here she glanced in my direction, “think that the Knights still have their commander.  She can make people see and hear things, remember.  Ruling from behind the scenes is more comfortable to her.”

It was plausible, barely.  I still didn’t buy it though.  Refiner had been engaged, present, active in our meetings.  Every little detail spot on.  The Jury had been watching the whole time, and none of them had noticed any illusion.

Before we could argue about the matter any further we heard that tramping thud of figures approaching down the hall.

I spared a second to try and figure out where everyone was waiting.  It wouldn’t do to have these Fists run into each other.  Many of them despised one another.  How did each come in turn?  Maybe they were all holed up in little offices?  It was a funny mental image.

Refiner shoved the door open, and Second Fist surged into the room.

It was an energetic and serious performance.  The Jury registered its approval as we watched them each dart through the door and cover a portion of the space inside of the room.  They were using old world tactics, a breach and clear that they must have cribbed from some old world entertainment show.  It was a far cry from the other Fist’s lackadaisical entrances.

Refiner stood front and center, proud and tall in his Knight raiment.  His thrice blessed robe swathed every inch of him.  His skull mask, embossed with bull horns, only just peaked out of the garment that he’d famously worked with his power.  His scythe clanged at his side as he strode.  He was a picture of wrathful authority.

He was also, if Preventer was to be believed, an utter fraud, concocted by the inconspicuous woman standing off to one side.

Deceiver showed little trace of the hippy that she had once been.  She looked like a crone nowadays, and coming from me this meant something.  She was positively ancient, stick dry limbs jutting from a withered and hunched form.

It was another illusion.  I had some experience with the aches and pain of old age, whenever I stopped wearing any shades I felt them all too keenly.  Deceiver hadn’t bothered to include the mannerisms of an old woman in her guise, so she had a kind of hideous vitality.  A hag with the mannerisms of a maiden.  A monster from the oldest stories.

Choker was much more straightforward.

He’d rolled into a corner and was now watching us carefully, presumably alert for any signs of aggression.  His trademark black gas billowed and eddied about him, but he was keeping it reined in for the most part.  It didn’t leave a small area around him, as though his storm was stopped up inside of an invisible phone booth.

Across from him stood Bomber.  She crouched warily, energy spheres glowing from her palms.  The overall impression was of a race car, revving its engine.  She was just waiting for go time.  Positively relishing the thought of conflict.

Destroyer took point.  She walked in without the tactical pretensions of the rest of the gang, strode right up to Indulger.  It obviously galled her to look up at him.  She was a tall woman.  That couldn’t have been something that she needed to do all that often.

Destroyer was a mountain of muscle, clearly displaying a form that had certainly required a long time in the gym in order to craft.  In any company save Indulger’s she’d be the biggest person present by a large margin.  The body builder, however, made even her look diminished, and she plainly wasn’t enjoying it.  If I had to take a stab at the difference, I’d say that Destroyer lifted for strength, while Indulger did it for size.

“Hi!” said Indulger, and extended a hand for Destroyer to shake.

She took it almost despite herself, just reflexively responding to the offered handshake.  She held him for a moment, and then brought their locked hands up and down, once.

Plainly, both were squeezing and testing one another’s strength.  Equally plainly, if she got serious, Destroyer could crush every bone in his hand to powder.  She had Ultra Strength Two.  The size of their respective forms didn’t matter.

She didn’t do that, however, instead releasing him after what seemed to be a testing of some kind.

“Hey” she responded.

That seemed to exhaust the meat heads’ conversational menu for the moment, so we all just stood there.  Everyone was too cool to be the one to break the silence.  I resigned myself and spoke up.

“The Ruling Fist.  It’s so pleasant to see you again.”

I pitched my voice and angled my face towards Refiner, or his semblance at least.  His skull mask pivoted slightly, and his reedy old voice emerged.

“Haunter.  The Ark of the Past.  What a pleasure to see you again.  My Knights have told me of your doings.  Honestly, this appointment couldn’t possibly fall to a more worthy candidate.”

Alright.  If Preventer was right, and this was all Deceiver’s puppet work, then why was she playing along?  I decided to move forward with the conversation as though I was actually talking to the Knight Commander.

“I’m glad to hear you say that.”

Before I could go any further, Fisher spoke up.

“You are in charge of the Knights, right?”

Refiner’s mask pivoted over to face in her direction.  His eyes narrowed.

“I have that honor.”

“You did a great job training them, really!  I’ve always wanted to meet you.”

Fisher approached him, holding out her hands as though to clasp his.

Refiner backstepped, and Destroyer intercepted Fisher, simply barging into her path and standing insolently before her.

“Easy there, Barbie.  No need for you to get all handsy with my squishier teammates.”

Even as I started to move over to smooth over whatever this was, Preventer was talking to Deceiver.

“Do you really need to do the whole puppet show?  We are going to be one of your fellow Fists, you know.  Surely you can let us behind the curtain.”

I couldn’t hear Deceiver’s response over Destroyer and Fisher talking.  Destroyer was continuing in the same vein as before, remonstrating with her and instructing her to stay back.  Fisher was apologizing, attempting to mollify Destroyer.  I had the sense that Fisher’s form, apparently optimized for attractiveness to guys, was hurting her with Destroyer.

I had to make a choice.  Let Preventer communicate with Deceiver, unobserved, or let the Destroyer/Fisher interaction go on.  I decided to put my trust in Fisher.  Surely, she could handle a trivial manners dispute.  I headed across the room to Deciever and Preventer.

Deceiver looked up as I approached, rheumy old eyes meeting mine.

“Pleased to see you again, Jane,” she said.  “We didn’t get to talk much the last time that you came by.  I feel like that was a loss.  Two Ultras like ourselves, who have experienced so much of what the world can dish out… I feel sure we would have found common ground.”

Common ground with an enthusiastic supporter of the Regime.  I didn’t think so.

“I have no doubt about it.” I responded.  “And we’ll have plenty of time to get to know one another, provided that your band votes to approve us.”

“Hmm…” she drawled out the word.  Preventer seemed to take that as an invitation to butt in.

“I know that you don’t want our help.  I know that you don’t want anything that we can give you.  I know you aren’t afraid of a threat that we could subdue, or greedy for a prize that we could win.  Honestly, I’m at my wit’s end.  What is it going to take to get you to assist us?  Can you just tell me?”

The whole speech was delivered in a whispered monotone.  I doubt it was audible beyond the three of us.

Deceiver laughed, delightedly.  It was the first time that I actually felt like she was just an illusion.  She laughed like the young woman that she was.  Enthusiastic chortling, nothing held back.  It was an odd feeling.

I mean, it was one thing to be told that your senses might cheat you.  Another entirely to hear a geriatric near my own age suddenly giggling like she just got told that there’d be no homework on the fieldtrip.

“Preventer, please.  I told you that I wouldn’t commit to a yes or a no.  I’ve told you that ten times.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m wedded to yes.  It was always going to depend on whether I felt that we could trust you to have our backs.  You don’t need to intrigue or bargain for our approval.  We are following the process as She laid it out.  We’ll find in your favor if we think you’ll be a good fist, and not otherwise.”

Preventer looked like someone had just farted in her face.  She backed away, leaving me alone with Deceiver, or at least somewhat alone.  The others were conversing around us, but none of them seemed anxious to interrupt the two old ladies in the midst of our chat.

“Anything I can tell you to help you make that decision?” I asked. “Not offering a bribe here, just saying that if you are trying to find out about us, I’m more than ready to help with that.”

She grinned, face folding up like a worn old quilt.

“Actually I did have some questions, for you in particular, Haunter.”

No more Jane, huh?  I braced myself.

“What criteria do you use, in order to determine who you will save in that marvelous soul cage of yours.”

Deceivers manner was relentlessly casual, which assured me that this query was anything but.  I decided to go with a version of the truth.

“I need body contact, as well as their agreement…“

She was already shaking her head.

“Not how you do it.  I don’t care about that.  We are going to be on the same side.  I don’t need to look for weaknesses in your power.”

She looked me right in the eyes.

“I’m asking you WHY you do it.  Why do you take someone into your refuge, hold them for tomorrow?  Why not the person next to them?”

I thought for a moment.  The Jury fell silent, wanting to hear this answer as well.

The truth of the matter was that I took just about anyone.  If I could get a hook in someone’s soul I usually did.  After all, it was a strictly superior arrangement to an ordinary life and death.  If a shade ever wanted to go to their rest I let them.  Those who wanted to remain in this valley of sorrows got their chance, limited as the shade’s existence necessarily was.

I was tempted to speak a noble lie.  Tell her that I was taking the brave, or the cunning, or those chosen by fate.  Just about anything would sound cooler than my calm practicality.  But this was an audience, a woman, who had no problems letting the rest of her team take the spotlight.  A woman who, if Preventer was to be believed, ruled entirely through the puppet Refiner’s mannerisms.  Sounding cool would be the least of her concerns.

“I take anyone I can.  Why them?  Why not the person next to them?  The answer is that I take them because I can.  Because we all deserve a second chance.  And I take the person next to them if it is at all possible.”

Deceiver didn’t react to my statement, even as my passion made my speech just a bit louder than the private conversation that we’d been having.  She faded into the background for the rest of their visit.

We talked to Second Fist for more than half an hour.  Longer than the other Fists all put together.  Destroyer was belligerent, and a little bit attracted to Indulger.  Choker and Bomber were ciphers, saying little and communicating less.  Refiner was every inch the charismatic leader that he was built up as by the Knights.  Deceiver had apparently found out everything that she was wondering about.

When the visit was over, they confirred briefly, and my heart was in my hands as they stepped forward to announce it.

“We think you’ll do great things, guys.” Said Refiner.  “Let me be the first to congratulate you.”

We all shook hands. Deceiver gave us a last bit of encouragement.

“Good luck with Her, Fourth Fist.”

2nd Fist

The Second Fist, colloquially the “Ruling Fist”, or “Twisting Fist”, is a Fist that Prevailer keeps close at hand.  They function as the first line of defence in Shington, should that be necessary, and also serve as reserves if situations arrive where Prevailer does not deign to take action.

The Second Fist are much more closely integrated with the remainder of the Regime than the rest of the Fists are.  Refiner, of course, leads the Knights of Purity, but a more important fact is that Deceiver coordinates the Regime’s intelligence services.  Second Fist is also usually the Fist which takes charge when they act together, if Subtracter or Prevailer isn’t leading directly.

Second Fist is right in the middle in terms of combat efficiency, but they are more generally triumphant than most of the rest. This is because of their penchant for engaging in battle directly supported by Regime assets.  Refiner’s followers in their hundreds, Ultras in their dozens…the Second Fist have a strong preference for mass combat, and heartlessly expend the Regime’s assets to safeguard their own lives.

Beyond this, it must be remembered that Second Fist is the least experienced Fist in terms of actual battles fought.  First and Third Fists function as the Regime’s offense.  Fifth and Sixth fists work primarily on defense.  Second Fist serves first and foremost in neither capacity, and hence sees less combat than the others.  The lack of familiarity that this brings about has proven fatal to many adversaries.

Deceiver : Aura Starshine

Little is known of the leader of Second Fist.  She was subjected to the Process along with the remainder of her commune during the waning days of the Old World, and switched sides to join Prevailer’s Regime shortly thereafter.  She was not originally the the leader of Second Fist, only taking over within the last decade when Refiner stepped down.

Deceiver’s powers are unclear in their scope, likely by design.  Current thought is that she can hypnotized or mesmerize a small number of enemies, fabricating sensory input as she wills.  Note that this is unlike Blinder or Alerter’s facsimiles, which involve creating actual massless forms in the world.  Deceiver fools the people, not the world itself.

Refiner : Joe Ludd

Refiner’s crime spree helped bring about the end of the old world.  By lending objects enhanced by his power to his hate group he forced the public to confront the Ultra’s existence and provoked the government to harness them for its own defence.  By joining with Remover and persuading Prevailer to rebel he cast the civilization that he hated down.  The rank hypocrisy of a devoted white supremacist working for Prevailer didn’t stop him from embracing a role in the Regime.

Everyone knows Refiner’s story.  Leader of an obscure hate group, he gained powers when Dr. Chen asked Her to find him subjects for his experiment, and She reached out to the criminal underworld.  His ability, which allowed him to lend Ultra power to objects and specify the circumstances under which they would retain that power, made the Knights from a laughably misguided fringe group into a terrorist organization.

Nowadays Refiner plays little role in his Fist’s battles, seemingly content to stand back and let his Fist (draped in gear improved by his gift), and his Knights do all the fighting.

Bomber : Margaret Wen

Bomber is the Second Fist’s only highly mobile member.  She is excellent at this role, however, with Ultra flight speed that approaches an old world plane, albeit a slow one.  When her fist takes to the field, Bomber scouts and provides the information that they need.

She also has a surprisingly potent offensive ability, discharging energy spheres from her hands which explode on impact with another form.  Her precise aim when using these spheres cause some observers to believe that she has at least some of the powers associated with Ultra Speed one.

Margaret has been known to buck at the Second Fist’s command structure, and is definitely the team’s hot head.  She has defied Deceiver on several occasions, always in order to seek out thrills or new experiences.

Destroyer : Lucy Welk

Every Fist has a member who can go toe to toe with just about any adversary.  In Second Fist, that’s Destroyer.  Destroyer is an Ultra who cares for nothing beyond the thrill of combat.  She is a battle maniac, a kindred spirit to Subtracter or Prevailer.  Her power level is also frighteningly high.

Destroyer has Ultra Speed two, Ultra Strength one and Ultra Toughness two.  As though that’s not enough, she can also increase her size to a titanic extent, eventually towering several stories in the air.  When expanded her strength increases and her speed drops.

Destroyer has a furious rage inside her, and is always ready to enter battle.  Perhaps the only thing that kept her out of First Fist is that Destroyer’s battle lust is reserved for worthy adversaries.  Wholesale slaughter bores her.

Choker : Daniel Stanton

It is likely that Choker has suffered from the mutations common to men who undergo the Process.  There is no way to be sure, however, as he wears a full body leather bodysuit at all times, and is surrounded by a few feet of his trademark black fog.

Choker’s fog saps the strength of those who venture within, and lends that power to him.  There is no known limit to the number of victims he can harness power from, nor are there any individuals (including Her) other than himself who seem to be immune to the power draining effect.

Choker’s fog is difficult to use in concert with the remainder of his Fist, and consequently he is generally held in reserve, or used to affect broader battles, rather than fighting alongside them.  He seems alright with this fact, obeying without question Deceiver and Refiner’s orders.

Haunter 2:5

We had a little bit of time before we had to speak with Third Fist.

“They aren’t going to approve of us,” said Preventer.  “I tried everything that I could think of, but there was no way to influence them ahead of time.  They don’t seem to want anything, or fear anything, other than Her.”

I made a mental note to inquire into these pre-Fist activities of Preventer, but now wasn’t the time.

“Just because you didn’t rig things ahead of time, doesn’t mean we can’t convince them now.”

I spoke with authority, carefully projecting my voice and weighing the impact that it had on the rest of the team.  We may have made Indulger the official leader, but either Preventer or I would likely be the team’s actual thinker.  I needed to reinforce the idea of myself as the talking one, the one from whom the plans originated.

The rest were nodding, Fisher a little too vigorously, when Preventer spoke again.

“Haven’t you been watching how these interviews have been going?  Are you distracted by your shadows, or what?  Fader and Predictor both decided that they were going to say ‘Yes’ before we even showed up.  What makes you think anyone here is going to be open to persuasion?”

I didn’t really have an answer to that, and lapsed into silence.  She had an uncomfortable point.

“I told you, didn’t I?” Preventer went on.  “I told you how hard this would be.  Third Fist only respects power.  We don’t have enough of it.  We aren’t going to impress them.”

Indulger was actually the one who answered her.

“What do you mean, we don’t have enough power?  There are five of us!  We can do a lot of stuff.”

“I think what the little woman is saying” interjected Fisher, “is that we aren’t powerful in comparison to Third Fist.  No one is disputing that five Ultras linked together is a powerful force.  We are tough, in an absolute way.  It is only in a relative comparison with Leveller’s crew that we lose out.”

Indulger furrowed his brow, cocked his head to the side.

“We are strong, but weaker than the next people we will talk to.”  I broke it down for him.

“Rather than getting their approval,” continued Preventer, wrenching the conversation back into her favored path, “we need to focus on avoiding their wrath.  There is no way that we can stop them from voting ‘No’ on us, but if we don’t annoy them that’ll only be one vote against.  We have much better odds of persuading Second Fist than we do Third.”

“You think they’d jump us in the Lair?” asked Nirav.

Deafening silence.  Everyone looked around, carefully not responding to that.

To his credit, it didn’t take Nirav long to realize the obvious.  He smiled sheepishly and looked down at his feet for a second.

“Let me do the talking, or Haunter” said Preventer, “They don’t like dudes much.”

“Do they like you?” I asked.  I wasn’t surprised when she shook her head in the negative.  Funny to think that I had something in common with the butchers of the Third Fist.

Further conversation was curtailed, as we heard them coming down the hall.  We settled into seats, leaned against walls and generally tried to look some combination of tough and cool.  We did pretty well on that front, according to the Jury’s impressions.

The door opened with a sort of gurgling splash, and Leveller floated in.  Or stomped in.  It was hard to know what the right word to use would be.

She was a tall woman, wearing a wetsuit.  She floated in the midst of an animated statue of water.  A water golem.  Paths of air appeared from mouth and nose every few seconds, and the whole thing had a vaguely humanoid aspect to it.  The golem stomped, she drifted, almost entirely motionless save for her eyes.

Behind her, Blaster breezed in.  She was shorter and heavier set than her boss, although still towering when compared to Preventer.  She had on the same sort of military leavings that I did, though she wore it a bit better.  She gave me a shit eating grin, and traced her hands across her face.  It took me a sec to realize that she was trying to pantomime my wrinkles.  What was that about?

Blaster stood by the door as Leveller floated to the middle of the room.  It didn’t seem like a tactical formation or plan of any kind, just each of them doing what they wanted.

“So, you want to be a Fist” said Leveller.  Her voice was deep and echoing, sounding as though she was calling out from the bottom of a well.  It would have been an intimidating effect, even if I didn’t know her Tally.

Before we could answer, Killer sauntered in.  Leveller didn’t turn back, but Blaster started slightly.  I didn’t blame her one bit.  Killer had an arresting presence, for all that she lacked distinguishing features.  It was in the gaze, or maybe the stance.  She radiated danger on some primal, instinctive level.

“We ARE a fist,” said Preventer.  She was going with defiance.  I probably would have done the same.  Meekness, negotiation…these would get us killed in the Lair.  The Regime respected only audacity, acknowledged only power.

“I didn’t say, ‘So you want to be fisted’.  I asked you if you think that you are worthy to bear the name of Fist.  To stand alongside us, the killers of cities, and lay waste to the enemy.  You think you are strong?”

I almost spoke up then.  Preventer was taking a few seconds to think, and it seemed like the delay could prove ruinous.  I was sure that the other two members of Third Fist were close by.  We wouldn’t win this fight if it broke out.

“She thinks that we are worthy.  You saying that She can’t pick Her fists?  Have you told Her that?”

Preventer’s reply was smooth, polished, casual.  Only the shaking of her hands betrayed her terror in the face of Leveller’s threats.  I adjusted my mental model of Preventer’s courage up a notch.  It was one thing to have no fear, but a much rarer, and altogether more valuable quality, to be able to defy your fear and strive anyway.

“Talking again?”

It was another voice, a new one, and I turned my head to the hallway to watch Mover drift in.

Like Leveller, she didn’t deign to touch the ground.  Unlike her leader, there was no visible medium for her to drift through.  Mover’s telekinesis steered her along without need of wetsuit or mobile pool.  She just floated wherever she wanted.

She was positively dapper, despite her warlike reputation.  A tailored suit, with matching purse and sigil.  She had a gun at her side, but even that was fancy, with engravings on the handle and some kind of coloring job which made it match her attire.  Her hair was dyed blonde, but the job was good enough, and recent enough, that the roots weren’t showing.

Leveller twisted about within her water sphere.

“I wasn’t talking to you, if that’s what you are asking!”

Mover lifted a hand in a ‘no foul’ gesture, and moved to lean against the wall.  Blaster was already there, but she scurried out of the more powerful Ultra’s way with a practiced ease.  Mover settled into place.

Leveller looked back to us, or, more specifically, to Indulger.

“So, you are the leader, huh?”

Indulger grinned sheepishly, rubbing his head.

“That’s what they tell me anyway.  They all pointed at me and that’s how it happened that I got to be the leader.  I’m real excited about it.”

Leveller seemed momentarily taken aback by his cheerful response, but then floated rapidly towards him.

Indulger didn’t react, even as Nirav moved to his side.  An instant later, he was engulfed in the sphere of water that surrounded Leveller, and her custom currents were holding him inside.

“Leader, huh”.  Leveller could speak just fine as her tides choked out Indulger.  “YOU are their leader?  A man, an inferior Ultra, unable to do a thing when he’s separated from the land?”

Indugler didn’t respond, as he was choking.  I saw his muscles strain and flex, but despite his size and power Leveller’s liquid mastered him effortlessly.

I had to do something.  I started across the room towards him, then became still, held in place by Mover’s gaze.

It wasn’t that I was intimidated or something.  I mean, of course I was intimidated, but I’d have been over and pulling Indulger out if it had just been that.  No, the force holding me in place wasn’t Mover’s intimidation.  It was her gift.  Force without mass, the ultimate weapon.

“Let’s let the leaders handle this, okay grandma?” said Mover.  She wagged a finger at me as she said it, grinning broadly.

“Took the words right out of my mouth” said Preventer.

A shimmering barrier unrolled itself from the back of her head, somewhere behind her ear.  It shot through the air towards Mover, then vanished.

What had…?  Preventer was shuddering, clearly affected by something.

Had it been Mover’s telekinesis?  But how could that affect Preventer, who had Ultra Toughness three.  It didn’t make any sense.  Nothing should be able to affect her that she didn’t allow.

Leveller hadn’t moved during all this, suffocating Indulger with a malignant indifference to what the rest of the Fist was up to.  She floated before him, watching wordlessly as the bubbles rose from his throat, and his hands fought helplessly with the unnatural waves which surrounded him.

Suddenly, she relaxed, letting Indulger out.

What had…then I noticed Nirav, or Condemner maybe, pointing a finger at her.

“You are that fire guy…” she began, trailing off a bit.  I knew that pattern from my time in the Troubleshooters.  She was trying to remember his powers, but she’d read so many that they all blurred together.

“His legacy, anyway.  You don’t bother my brother, unless you want me to incinerate you.”

Nirav had a manic look to his face.  I knew it to be that of a man who has just found out that he isn’t real.  Someone whose life expectancy was measured in weeks at most.  I had no idea Third Fist would make of it.

“You need him to fight your battles?” asked Leveller, speaking to Indulger again.  “A true leader would do their own fighting.”

Indulger, for his part, took shuddering breaths and coughed like he was trying to turn himself inside out.

Fisher spoke up, for the first time in this conversation.

“So, your definition of a leader is someone who doesn’t get any assistance from followers?  That makes sense, in your damp ass excuse for a mind?  Leaders are those who don’t lead?”

I thought, for just a second, that we were all about to die.  Leveller’s teeth curled back in a terrifying snarl, and Blaster moved up her hands, as though to fire off her deadly projectiles.  We were saved by a knowing chuckle.

Leaning up against the wall, still floating off the ground, Mover was chuckling quietly to herself.  As everyone else fell silent, it became more and more obvious.

“What!” snapped Leveller, orbiting about to get her eyes on Mover.

“Nothing, nothing,” said Mover, her chuckles subsiding a bit.  “It’s just…she’s right.  You were being ridiculous.”

A moment ago I’d been worried that Leveller’s group would kill us all.  Now I worried that they’d kill each other, and we’d get caught up in it.  Leveller’s fists clenched and her teeth ground as she looked at her impertinent minion.

Leveller’s mobile pond was drawing back an appendage when Indulger made his move.  He was up and off the floor, across the room and standing between them faster than I could remark on it.  Mover let him close, I guess, or maybe he was strong enough to push through your TK.

“What are you…What…” sputtered Leveller, as Indulger threw his arms out wide in a “hit me, not her” kind of gesture.

“Friends shouldn’t fight, it’s bad,” said Indulger.  “Fight with me instead.  You were starting something just a second ago with that water choke hold.  I still don’t have a way out of that.  It’s a strong move.”

“I don’t need your protection, big guy,” said Mover.  “Leveller and I have had our disputes many a time.  Nothing comes of it.”

I could almost sense Leveller’s pulse rising at that comment.  I tried once again to move, but apparently when Mover puts the whammy on you it lasts a while.  I couldn’t get my body to move so much as an inch, despite her evidence distraction.

I polled the Jury.  Should I wear more shades, get myself stronger, break out of Mover’s grip?  It would risk them. Blaster and Killer would have their pick of targets if they opened up in here.  I’d be hit several times before I even noticed, and for every extra shade that I wore each one of those impacts would claim another of the shadows.

They thought I should stay the course.  Just wait until she takes her power off, or leaves.  Fighting free might be defiant, but it would also damage Mover’s ego, and that was too risky to consider.

“Oh, I’m sor-“ Indulger began, even as Leveller barged past.

“You lot are failures”, her voice came back.  “We are going to recommend that She not use you as a Fist.  You aren’t worthy to be a goddamn Ankle, much less a Fist.  You barely quality to be a Dick.”

The others followed after her, Mover leaving last.  When she was gone, I could suddenly move again.  It was a good feeling.  I clasped my hands before me reveling in the voluntary motion, unimpeded by Ultra shenanigans.

We all stood quietly for a moment, taking stock.  I nodded to Preventer.  Her prediction had played out, exactly as she’d said.  There had never been a chance to convince Leveller and her crew.  They’d come in with their minds made up, exactly as Preventer said.

“Don’t get discouraged,” Preventer said, after taking a moment to collect herself.  “The odds of that working out for us were dreadful.  We have a better chance at the next one, and we just need one.”

“The Command Fist?” I asked.  “Refiner knows me, he recommended me for this post.  Can we use that as an ‘in’ with them?”

“Is Refiner the knight guy?  The racist?” asked Nirav.

I looked at him.  He had a good point.  The leader of the Knights of Purity wasn’t about to give the ok to another brown person joining the Fists.  At least, not if he had a choice.

“Yes” said Fisher, “So it would be best if, when he comes, you weren’t visible.”

I boggled at her for a moment.  It was so hard to understand what Fisher was thinking sometimes.

“Are you saying that we should put him in the space behind the couch?” asked Indulger.

Fisher shook her head.

“I’m saying that we should put him in the fire.”

3rd Fist

The Third Fist, known sometimes as the “Striking Fist” or “Battling Fist” is Prevailer’s most generally aggressive and hostile unit.  For the most part, they spearhead strikes against Pantheon positions, and perform limited overseas raids.  Experts generally believe that this is the unit with the highest combat power among Prevailer’s Fists.

The Third Fist is a collection of formerly independent Regime enforcers and loyalists.  Built in the wake of the catastrophic losses of the Third Defiance, the Third Fist has generally been a pillar of the Regime since its creation.  Aside from Prevailer herself, it is the most effective element of Prevailer’s military.  Third Fist lacks First Fist’s sadism and Sixth Fist’s rebellious nature, leaving it as the most obedient and reliable front line unit.

Notably, the Third Fist is the most mobile of all of the Fists, with Leveller and Mover both able to propel the Fist faster than most modern vehicles.  Leveller’s dependency on water is the only real limiting factor in their area of operation, but given the need to go inland the Fist is entirely capable of fighting without its leader.

Third Fist rarely ends its battle by pulling back we the other fists do.  It doesn’t have the same dependency on an ‘anchor’ Ultra or other hardened target in order to guarantee survival.  Third Fist tends to make itself safe by killing every adversary.  In this, it takes after its master.

Leveller : Yuan Tzen

Leveller is an incredibly powerful hydrokinetic, capable of controlling the smallest motion of a veritable river’s worth of water.  She remains submerged at all times, wearing a small pond like a war suit, creating breathing channels to bring herself air.

Yuan can destroy a battlefield in an instant, given sufficient water to work with.  She has an awesome gift, and leads Third Fist primarily by virtue of this power. She can freeze it, manipulate it, turn it to steam or boil it.  Leveller seems to exercise this control with very little effort, remaining clearheaded and calm enough to lead the fist even while striking down her enemies with individually targeted rivers.

Killer : Angela Penny

Angela appears startlingly young for such a hardened fighter.  This appearance is deceptive, as her gift seems to be preventing her from aging.  In truth, Angela is not the naive teen that she appears to be, but an Ultra warrior with decades of experience enforcing the Regime’s will.

Angela’s main power is Ultra Speed 1, but she is also blessed by a strange protection.  Weapons refuse to harm Angela, misfiring and falling apart rather than bringing her to harm.  Additionally, she is able to hardness death energies, which she describes as being emitted by humans killed in battle.  We have no way to verify the truth of these statements, but the fact remains that as the victims in a given battle mount so do Killers abilities.

Killer gains Ultra Strength, Speed and Toughness as people die around her, and also gains the ability to conjure weaponry from seemingly nowhere.  She demonstrates an instinctive familiarity with these weapons when she employs them.

For all of this power, Angela seems content with life as Yuan’s minion.  She rarely speaks independently, and seems content to obey the more powerful members of Third Fist.

Evolver : Meghan Brann

Evolver was originally believed to be a team of Ultras, but careful observation has revealed some details of this four formed Ultra.  This report is much less complete than the others, however.

Evolver’s age, height, hairstyle and facial features all change between a set of 4 forms.  Each of these forms, named after the seasons, has its own powers.  She can swap from one form to the next, but doesn’t seem able to alter the pattern (it goes spring->summer, etc.)

Evolver’s forms individual abilities are not known, save that the Fist generally keeps her in Winter form (older woman, white hair, shoots blasts and Ultra tough) during their engagements.

It is likely that Meghan uses her other forms to spy on the Fists enemies, but information on the subject is understandably hard to come by.  Without question, Evolver is the most mysterious member of the Fist.

Blaster : Sasha Resk

Somewhat overpowered by Mover and Leveller, Sasha Resk would probably be the heavy hitter in a less powerful Fist.  With Ultra toughness one and the ability to fire incredibly powerful energy blasts from her hands, Sasha has gifts which are apt for military service.

Sasha’s beams are the most potent and versatile projectile gifts of any known Ultra.  She can bend them mid flight, cause them to split, and adjust the power with which they strike, from a gentle shove to the kind of blow which damages Ultra Toughness three.  They impact selectively on Forms that she targets, and ignore all others.

Blaster is the team’s resident hothead, always champing at the bit and trying to bring about conflict.  She is the most common loss for the team to take, and relies heavily on Linker’s insurance to keep herself alive in warzones.

Mover : Dana Khan

Mover is a telekinetic, full stop.  She can control any form that she can lay eyes on, marionetting it with her gift.  This power is not limited by the form’s type.  She can control flames, water, wood, metal, anything.

She can even control humans, or other Ultras.  The force exerted by her gift appears to max out at Ultra strength 1.  It can’t move things much faster than a car can drive, either.  Nonetheless, the incredibly power of Mover explains much of Third Fist’s successes.

Dana is in frequent conflict with Yuan’s orders.  Yuan’s pragmatic leadership clashes with Dana’s hedonistic impulses and carefree demeanor.  Up till now, Yuan has always ultimately exerted her authority by reminding Dana that Prevailer placed her in charge of the Fist.