Interlude: Fader

Time:  The night of Fourth Fist’s linking

Place: Isolated location on the Regime/Pantheon frontier, near Redo

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Fader: No.

Anubis: What will your reason be this time?

Fader: Same as it always is, your boss is a butcher.  He proved that in the Fourth Defiance.  I’ll always stand against him.

Anubis: You are pretending you have a problem with butchers?  You work for Peggy Martin!

Fader: She isn’t the one burning cities to the ground around these parts.

Anubis: Really?  Have you seen what your new compatriots left in their wake in Laredo?

Fader: …

Anubis: In case you haven’t, they burned it to the fucking ground.  So go on and tell me how that’s ok with you.

Fader: I… look…

Anubis:  Was it ok because it was on our side of a line on a map?  Because it dared to stand up to your boss?

Fader: No, but…it’s a war, right?  They probably didn’t have a choice.

Anubis:  Ah, so Zeus is a butcher because he fights back when Prevailer sends her goons to slaughter his people, but she is not a butcher when she sends them, because no choice or whatever?  That makes sense to you?

Fader: You are twisting it.

Anubis:  I’m not asking for much.  I’m asking you to swap your allegiance from the bad woman who rules a few million to the bad men and women who rule billions.  Turn your coat, your bosses certainly can’t get any worse.

Fader:  One of your bosses is literally named Death.  She runs slaughter camps.

Anubis:  To make Ultras to defend us against the Fists.  Have you been deathless so long you’ve forgotten what it is to fear?

Fader:  Nothing about the Link changes who we are.

Anubis:  Debatable, and also, I wasn’t talking about the Link.  I’m talking about your power.  Your vaunted ability to take yourself out of a situation.  Just turn yourself into this powerless, and protected, image, and let the world go by.

Fader:  My Gift didn’t change me either.  I do what I can to protect the place I grew up in.  I would do that even if I could die.

Anubis:  Sure you would.

Fader:  Believe what you want.

Anubis:  Alright, this was the usual waste of time.

Fader:  Don’t act like you are surprised.  You had to know how this would go.

Anubis:  I did, but my bosses are always curious.  It would have been good to preserve you once the Regime was gone.  Someone needs to run North America for the Pantheon.

Fader:  The Regime doesn’t look to be going anywhere.

Anubis:  You aren’t looking in the right places.  The Fifth Defiance is already underway.

Interlude: Answerer

Time:  The night of Fourth Fist’s linking

Place: Answerer’s quarters

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Answerer (whispering) : Showtime.

*a button is pressed, music begins playing*

*music continues for several minutes*

*slight bang*

Answerer: Aaaagh!

Prevailer: Heh

Answerer: *heavy breathing*

Prevailer: Some future see-er you are.  Can’t even tell when your boss is going to drop in on you.  Say…what’s this music?

Answerer: I’m sorry, Boss.  It’s just something that Reverter made for-

Prevailer: Shit, I know this song.  This is “I’m right behind you, motherfucker”.  This is great!  I had this cd, way back in the day.

Answerer: It’s Yours.

Prevailer: No, you are mine.  Stuff belongs to whoever is holding it.  Only people can get scared enough to have owners.

Answerer: As You say.

Prevailer: Do the thing.  See the future.

Answerer: *humming noise*

Answerer: Ask.

Prevailer: Fourth Fist is getting Linked tonight, if you were right about that.  When I ask them what they want, what will they ask for?

Answerer: There are many possibilities.

Prevailer: *knuckle cracking sound*

Answerer: My apologies, Boss.  I mean that how You ask them will pick what they ask for.  What do You want them to ask for?

Prevailer: Something that isn’t too much trouble.

Answerer: They are mostly scared of annoying You.  None of their requests will task Your resources.

Prevailer: Ok, well, mostly I want Dale to be cool with it when we fuck. What’s the best way to ask them so they ask for something that makes that happen.

Answerer: If you send Subtracter to test their Link by killing…

 

Interlude: Thui

Time:  Present day (same time as Fourth Fist are arriving to negotiate peace with the Union)

Place: Preventer’s dwelling in Shington

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Perry: It’s a girl.

Thui: Congratulations, brother.

Perry: You should have been there.  It was a difficult birth.

Thui:  Cass is strong.  I knew she’d pull through.

Perry: Thui… imagine if she hadn’t.

Thui: Why dwell on such things?

Perry: Your sister in law was in danger, she could have died.

Thui: She’s fine, is she not?

Perry: What if she wasn’t?  You were three blocks away, sitting in an empty house.  How could you forgive yourself if something had happened?

Thui: I’m not a doctor.

Perry: What are you? Hmm?  What exactly do you do, for anyone? You have become a robot.

Thui: Brother!

Perry:  You sit in an empty house, waiting on someone who will never come back.  Waiting on a goddamn witch!

Thui: She instructed me to await her return.

Perry: And you obeyed.  There’s no shame in that.  Many men obeyed her.  Everyone comes in when the storm’s fury fills the sky.  But, brother, the sky is clear.  To continue to cower is shameful.

Thui: …

Perry: …

Thui:  Thank you for coming, brother.  Tell Cass I’m happy for her.  And your baby girl.  Give her a belated happy birthday from her uncle.

Perry:  Come tell her yourself.

Thui: Goodbye, brother.

*door closing*

Thui: …

Thui ….

Thui:  Come back soon.

Interlude : Krishna

Time:  Shortly after the Redo incident

Place: A secure location in Texas, Pantheon side

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Kami:  Well, what is it?

Krishna: Sire, I’m not stupid.  I know I was set up.

Kami: Why do you believe this?

Krishna: Thor was aimed at me, and I was expressly forbidden from removing the danger.  My gift was twitchy for weeks about it, but I obeyed.  Then the Archenemy arrives on my doorstep, exactly as he is making his move against me.

Kami: The-

Krishna: We are massacred wholesale.  My forces suffer serious attrition, Thor’s are annihilated, and the enemy is triumphant.  And yet you show up to commend me?  A promotion?

Kami: What happened to you was unavoidable.  We do not believe that it reflects a failing in your efforts at command.

Krishna: I know it was unavoidable, in the same way that “what is 2 + 2, don’t say 4” is unanswerable.  I was prevented from avoiding it, and now I’m not being punished for my failure.  Taken together, it is apparent that the whole thing was a setup.

Kami: As wise as I’ve heard, if a bit headstrong.

Krishna: I’m right here.

Kami: Apologies.  One grows accustomed to a certain oblique manner of speaking, in the circles I travel in-

Krishna: The Leadership.

Kami: yes, yes, that’s what I meant.  …  In any case, you are quite correct.  Your force was expended in order to confirm a report.

Krishna: What report?  What information was worth the lives of so many of our Ultras?

Kami: A hole in Her protector’s sight.  A weakness, at long last.

Krishna: Prevailer’s protector?

Kami:  Have you ever wondered why Zeus never simply lead a kill team to destroy Her, as he did Fourth Fist?

Krishna:  I don’t want to know.  It doesn’t seem safe to speculate about.  Above my level.  I wouldn’t want to be seen as doubting Zeus.

Kami: Well, there is no harm in speaking in generalities.  The reason that no one has ever killed Ms. Martin is that She is defended by some manner of forsight or prediction.  Events are steered to benefit her.  Until this is no longer the case, all direct confrontations are unwise.

Krishna:  And somehow setting my unit up changed that?

Kami: Not exactly.  It exposed a weakness that an intelligence source had described.  Due to a certain factor, events transpired in a manner that was not forseen, which will lead to minor ripple effects.  Of greater interest is setting up a situation to exploit this weakness again, and strip the Archenemy of her defenses long enough to put her down.

Krishna: What factor, and what weakness?

Kami: My apologies, but that information is, as you say, “above your level”.

Interlude : Mangler

Time:  At the same time that Fourth Fist is being deployed to seek peace with the Union

Place: A room in the Castle

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Refiner: How do you think they’ll do?

Mangler:  Badly.

Refiner:  A direct answer.  Can you be more specific?

Mangler:  Very badly.

Refiner: Why?

Mangler:  Subtracter took their whole team apart, in about a minute.

Refiner:  Subtracter is Her fist.  It is no shame to fall before her.

Mangler: Come on.  It was one on five.

Refiner:  I take your point.

Mangler:  Fists are supposed to have people who are basically on par with the very best.  First Fist has the dog guy.  You guys have Lucy.  Third Fi-

Refiner: Like I said, I understand your meaning.

Mangler:  I’m not saying that they are weak, don’t get it twisted.  I’m just saying that Rebeccah is their only truly big deal, and she is totally passive.

Refiner: So, another Sixth Fist situation?

Mangler:  Just about.  Preventer should anchor them the same way that Fader does.  They may lose a lot of fights, but they shouldn’t die like the last gals did.

Refiner: I see.

Silence.

Refiner: You understand, of course, that this criticism could be taken as disloyalty to Her.

Mangler: *snort*

Refiner: Your irreverance-

Mangler: Look, I’ll talk to this puppet if you want to play it that way, but I’m not going to be threatened by it.

Deceiver: Alright, sheesh.

Interlude: Marian

Time:  Approx six years before our story kicked off

Place: Darmouth, Marian’s office

***********************************************************************

Isaac:  We’ve figured out what happened.

Marian: Jesus, finally.

Isaac:  An Area Supremacy Patrol ran into one of the Regime’s Fists near the end of their route.  They engaged and were wiped out, just one survivor.

Marian:  Shit.

Daria:  That doesn’t make any sense.

Isaac: I assure you, the evidence is…

Marian: Why did they engage?  Why on earth didn’t they break away once things started going wrong?  One Fucking Survivor?

Isaac:  The enemy used subterfuge to pin the patrol down in a gas station, they didn’t believe that they had the option to flee.

Daria: Oh, Alerter’s trick?

Isaac: Indeed.

Marian:  What’s Alerter’s trick?  She’s in First Fist, right?

Isaac:  Yes, one of the auxiliary members.  She controls sound.

Marian:  What’s her trick?

Daria:  She impersonates your superior’s voice over your comband, gives you fucked up orders.  We use codes to stop it from working.

Isaac:  Unfortunately, Eva apparently swallowed the phony assertion that the passcode holder had been destroyed.

Marian: Ah.

Isaac:  She thought that her team was buying time to complete an evacuation.  Last Stand kind of thing.

Marian:  I take it that was not true.

Isaac:  The ASP was the only unit involved in combat operations in that area.

Daria: Who survived?  Jean?

Isaac:  An unpowered human.  One Fidel Martinez.

Marian: The commanding officer?  How’d he escape?

Isaac:  He didn’t buy the ruse, but Eva mutinied, and the other Ultras took her lead.

Daria: They’d have had to.  She was the strongest in that crew by a long way.

Marian: So he ran?

Isaac:  Stayed and tried to regain control, but they just knocked him out.  First Fist tortured him for a while, but bugged out before finishing the job.

Daria:  They ran?

Isaac: We got the gist of the situation from the comband, and ‘accidentally’ leaked that you were on your way.

Marian: This Fidel…how’s he doing?

Isaac: How do you think?

Marian: See if he’s broken.  If he isn’t, then I’ve got plans for him.

Daria: Making another hero?

Marian: Shrewd enough to see through their tricks.  Brave enough to stand up to Eva.  Lucky enough to walk out of a fight that no one else walked away from.  We could do a lot worse.

Isaac:  ASSUMING he’s not broken.

Marian: Of course.

Interlude: First Fist

Time: Before Indulger’s introductory storyline

Place: First Fist’s rundown mansion, all present

***********************************************************************

Attacker:  How did you lose?

Pursuer:  I’m a stupid shitty dog and I can’t help sucking.

Remover: Alerter, translate properly

Alerter: *sigh*

Pursuer: Fuck off Tacker, useless bitch.

Attacker: Yeah, let us hear what he has to say.

Alerter: I am.

Pursuer: She is.

Attacker: You got your ass handed to you by some bitch I never heard of.

Pursuer: He was fucking enormous.

Attacker: I’ve seen you throw a skyscraper, Pup.  Didn’t Averter say this guy didn’t have Ultra strength at all?

Pursuer: You are correct and I am a bitch.

Attacker: Let him talk, babe, you heard Remover.

Pursuer: There was no one afraid there.

Attacker: He wasn’t afraid of you?  You are a fucking werewolf.

Pursuer:  Yeah, but he didn’t give a shit.

Attacker: And the fucking crowd?

Pursuer: No one is afraid of people in the ring.  They don’t think that we will come out and kill them.

Attacker: But still, no powers or whatever..you are still a werewolf.  He is still a dude.  Averter said that up in the ring, off the ground, he wouldn’t have any powers at all.

Pursuer: *growling noise*

Alerter: Long speech incoming guys, hard to parse.  I’ll try and make his voice work right, but he’s really putting a strain on the tooth clack code we use.

Pursuer:  Look, I don’t really fight hand to hand without being Ultra strong, alright?  I can’t even remember the last time it happened.  This guy apparently does it all the time.  He was stronger than me and a better fighter.  He kicked my ass.

Attacker: Bitch!  Some random fucking wrestler kicked your ass, and you just take that shit?  What’s the fucking point of you if some jackass can completely clown you out.

Pursuer: He might not have been afraid of me but you, on the other hand….

Alerter: I’m not letting you say that to her!

Pursuer: *growling noise*

Remover: Quiet.

Remover:  We are going to kill this guy.  I’ll put the story out that you let him win just to build up his confidence, so it was all the sweeter when you killed him, something like that.  Not everyone will believe it, but it is better than nothing.

Averter: There might be a problem with that.

Remover: What?

Averter: From what I’m hearing, this ‘Indulger’ skipped town right after the fight.

Alerter:  Where is he heading?

Averter:  No one knows.  Apparently he just heads out into the wilderness sometimes, stays out there for months.

Remover: Fuck.