Sharkerbob also got the third chapter audio logged:
This marks the end of my November hiatus. Story updates will resume next Wednesday. Thanks for sticking with me.
Sharkerbob also got the third chapter audio logged:
This marks the end of my November hiatus. Story updates will resume next Wednesday. Thanks for sticking with me.
Well, our esteemed Overlord seems to have added a new batch of killers to her service. That’s tragic, of course, and the fact that she can do so is disturbing on levels it would be too depressing to enunciate. But there’s nothing we can do about any of that, so let’s indulge in the time honored pastime of speculating about which of our oppressors would win in a fight.
Vs. Sixth Fist:
Ultimately, this fight would be inconclusive. Fader’s anchoring of Sixth Fist is literally legendary. Prevailer failed to kill her. Nothing that Fourth Fist could do would have any shot at putting so much as a wound on her. But the same is true in reverse, as well.
Preventer is Ultra tough three, by all accounts. Nobody in Sixth Fist can harm her, so there would ultimately end up being at least one survivor from each team, rendering the whole affair pointless.
Still, the question of which team would end up boxing up the other’s anchor is worth considering.
Fourth Fist’s wide area Ultra has to be Indulger. He controls the land for miles around, which would mean that Sixth Fist’s members would be fighting the land as well as their opponents.
Sixth Fist, by contrast, has Blinder, meaning that Fourth Fist would be fighting literally blind. A lot of Twister’s impressive Tally is due to the fact that her opponents can’t see.
These hindrances aren’t really equal, though. Indulger can just bury his enemies and crush them, and he doesn’t really need to see in order to do it. Reliable testimony says that he is aware of everything in contact with the ground, which means that Blinder’s schtick would be basically negated.
Charger and Consumer couldn’t survive this. Charger’s power is dependent on momentum, and he couldn’t really build up any with Indulger working him over. Consumer is just a human, as far as durability goes. She’d be done from a rock spike or something.
Blinder would be another victim of the earth tomb. The power that she draws from light wouldn’t avail her once she was buried. So much for the ace of Sixth Fist.
That just leaves Twister, and here at last Indulger’s trump fails. With her flexibility and strength she could burrow through anything he could drop on her, Fourth Fist would actually have to fight against her.
Fisher is something of a lightweight, as far as we can tell. Twister would shred her like she has so many others. One day there might be a fight there, but they are close enough to one another that Twister’s vastly greater experience would allow her to swiftly prevail.
Condemner, however, is where that would end. Twister has no way to overcome an opponent of living flame. It seems like she’d be burned up by Fourth Fist’s killer.
Sixth Fist vs. Fourth Fist: Fourth Fist wins, but cannot finish Fader off.
Vs 5th Fist:
Fifth Fist is weak. No way to really get around that. They are conspicuously the wimpiest of Her minions. But their success rate is incredible, and we have to respect that.
Traditionally, the usual way to factor in Predictor’s power is to assume that they get the drop on their enemies. So that’s what we’ll do here.
Figure they get Indulger off of the ground, in a building or something. Tamer and Gardener have gathered every minion that could conveniently be found. They suddenly jump Fourth Fist.
Ordinarily, I’d give this one to FourthFist anyway. Condemner is a fire monster, Gardener has a tree army. It doesn’t seem like this is a good matchup. But we have experimental data, if KEM can be believed, that suggests that this fight has actually happened, and they trussed him up like a turkey.
Given that, and every other advantage that we can think up, Fourth Fist is pretty hosed. Haunter’s army is made of fog people or something, and they die when touched. Gardener and Tamer have armies of actual monsters. Indulger and Condemner are nonentities, if off the ground and wet respectively. Fisher is no match for Slicer.
I give this one to Predictor’s crew. In an ambush, they take Sixth Fist apart. They have no way to kill Preventer, but they could take the rest of them out in short order.
Fifth Fist vs. Fourth Fist: Fifth Fist wins but cannot finish Preventer off.
Vs. 3rd Fist:
Third Fist is massively more powerful than the new Fourth Fist, and they are also really well positioned against them. This one would probably be over almost before it even begins.
Leveller hard counters Condemner, unless something incredibly counter intuitive happens. Mover takes care of the Indulger problem, she can just lift her team away from the ground at the first sign of trouble.
If we factor out the wide ranging powers, then Blaster, Evolver and Killer are still better combatants than Fisher, Haunter and Preventer. They’ve been a Fist for decades, have died and killed countless times.
This one goes to Third Fist, in a rout, so long as there isn’t something about Haunter’s powers that I am missing.
Third Fist vs Fourth Fist: Third Fist annihilates Fourth Fist but cannot finish Preventer off. (Probably. The upper level of Killer’s powers have not been explored.)
Vs. 2nd Fist:
Our newcomers have a bit easier time here. The Regime’s Ruling Fist is generally unsuited for direct combat.
Choker is the closest thing that Second Fist has to the range of Indulger, and it isn’t all that close. They would fall under his tremor attack long before Choker’s fog would reach their enemies.
Bomber and Destroyer would likely both persist even after the ground turned against them. Bomber flies, and Destroyer is just too tough to be stopped by mere matter.
Destroyer is fierce, to be sure, but Condemner is a problem that she doesn’t have a solution to. Absent an X factor, she gets burned up.
Bomber would be difficult for Fourth Fist to deal with. They can’t really reach her up in the sky, and she would have Refiner’s blessing on her outfit to protect her from Haunter’s minion’s bullets.
Eventually they could use Preventer’s barricades to pen her in or something similar, but far likelier is that Bomber would abscond, fleeing away to keep her team’s link alive.
So, a victory for Fourth Fist. An important caveat is that we are assuming that Deceiver doesn’t give them the upper hand somehow.
Second Fist vs. Fourth Fist: Fourth Fist wins but probably can’t catch Bomber.
Vs First Fist:
First Fist are too powerful to be stopped by these measly newcomers, and are also merciful enough not to go after pamphlet writers who mention their names.
First Fist vs. Fourth Fist: Total victory.
In addition to this picture, Sharkerbob has made an audio version of Haunter 1:2:
Prevailer’s most dreaded minions are bound together by a gift known as ‘the Link’. This gift provides them with myriad advantages, and over time information as to how it functions has leaked out.
1: Linked individuals are aware of the actions and whereabouts of other members of the Link.
This doesn’t seem to be factual awareness, that is, a Fist member couldn’t tell you which room of a building another one was in. Rather, it is the kind of awareness that you have of your arms, even when you are holding them behind your back. You’d know what signs your fingers were making, not because you could see them or sense them in any other way, but because you’d feel the impulse to form those signs.
The Link provides, to each of its members, a low level version of this. They know what each other are up to, in a diminished but similar way to how they know what they themselves are doing.
In the popular ‘kite’ method of visualizing souls and Ultra gifts the Linked are said to have had their souls wrapped around one another’s, and that the impulses that they are sending to their bodies sort of pollute each other’s experiences.
2: Every 24 hours the Link brings all of the team back to life, if they are dead.
They return in the same physical condition that they were the last time it ‘synced’ them up, 24 hours ago. They retain the memories that they gained during the day.
Apparently, even while the Linked individuals are dead, the sense that the others have of them from the first benefit persists. The deceased team member is still providing the same intent contamination to the others, and remains equally perceptible to them. They describe the ‘location’ of the fallen as a sort of extra dimensional direction, ‘inside’ in at least 4 separate accounts.
The Link can bring the entire Fist back to life, so long as at least one member of it is still alive. In order to destroy a Fist it would be necessary to kill every member of it, or to find some way to directly destroy the Link.
DRex: Alright, just so we are on the record, the reason I am muting you is that she thinks that this is some kind of Ultrahuman only secret chat. I want her perspective on the whole thing with Fourth Fist but she only speaks frankly around other Ultras, and I don’t have time to wait for the usual Ultra to Ultra gossip.
DRex has removed Roy from the channel.
DRex has added Dragon to the channel
DRex: Hey, you receiving this alright?
Dragon: Yes, but I don’t know how that can be. I thought we didn’t have point to point in realtime.
DRex: This is a special relay, I’ve rigged it up just for us. The humans don’t know about, and they won’t.
Dragon: So what’s up?
DRex: A Fist washed up on Crete, it is your favorite people.
Dragon: 4th Fist? U r joking.
DRex: Nope, and they say they wanna negotiate.
DRex: Haha, yeah, so what am I in for?
Dragon: I am on my way.
DRex: NO!! Don’t get yourself in trouble.
DRex: Don’t throw away your career for these fuckers.
DRex: Don’t let them win.
Dragon: Ok. I’ll stay put.
Dragon: They are ice cold killers though. I know you aren’t as powerful as I am, so you better be really careful.
DRex: I’ve got Autumn and Reshi’s squads.
Dragon: I had people, it didn’t matter. We got their main guy, Indulger, off of the ground. Didn’t help. They are animals. Whatever assurances they give you, it just a trick to drop your guard.
DRex: The ambassador is Meghan, do you know her?
Dragon: I know a Megan, but I think it is a different one.
DRex: Ok, well, what I’m asking is what I should tell her? The recordings on your sesesion cut out when you guys took off. Did they have a tell or something before they jumped you? Any warning at all?
Dragon: Nothing I can think of. They said they wanted to give us information, but when the humans were asking them things they got all squirmy, like they didn’t want to cooperate. I can almost respect that, it is hard sometimes to let the daggers boss me around.
Dragon: Hey, you are the one who said they wouldn’t be seeing this.
DRex: Yeah, sorry, just not used to being able to be open about things.
Dragon: We should have had something like this years ago. It is so dumb how we can only talk through them.
DRex: Glad to oblige you. But nothing more about Fourth Fist? I am cube up in a few hours.
Dragon: We been through ‘don’t trust em’, and ‘they are scum’ right? I think that’s it.
DRex: Thanks a bunch.
Dragon: Save me a slice, haha.
Dragon has left the channel.
DRex has added Roy to the channel.
Roy: Anything useful?
DRex: Well, by her description they are basically another First Fist. Murderers and such. But, I’m not sure I believe her.
Roy: You don’t think she is a credible witness?
DRex: I’m not sure. She gives off a very Pantheon/Regime vibe. If there isn’t already a forest of red flags on her file somebody has been slacking off.
Roy: Her sympathies have been noted, but she remains a potent military asset, and you know how lax the disciplinary boards are with folks like that.
DRex: Yeah, not my business. I’ll take her warning to heart, but I’m not going to be guided by it. I know there have been a number of more generous descriptions of this team.
Roy: Meghan has polled her contacts separately, and most of what she has heard has been good. Consensus is presently that this is a genuine outreach.
DRex: Well, ‘Consensus’ won’t be in the room with them, but I guess I’ll take what comfort I can get.
[Sorry, this was a day late. I got caught up in other things.]
In the land that was once known as Turkey, the fiercest battles rage.
This place, between the Black and Mediterranean Sea, has become the greatest battlefield of the New World. It is here that the forces of the Union and the Pantheon clash directly, every year.
As the snow melts and the days grow longer the Pantheon camps send forth their progeny. Teenagers swollen with divine power, indoctrinated with dreams of glory and given minimal training, they undertake their Pilgrimage with glad hearts.
By far the greatest number come from the heartlands of the Pantheon, from what used to be India and China. They trudge west in endless columns, Ultras and humans, Gods and daggers.
Some fall along the way, lost to internecine squabbling. Others desert the migration, joining one or another of the Pantheon’s many subfactions. But the vast majority, aided by their divine gifts, arrive intact to the Great Hosts’s fortresses.
Here the Valkyrie and the Gods of the Pantheon sort them and arrange them, test and train them. These Gods, who have earned their Divine Names in previous years, now take part in the culling of the next generation. They divide the output of the camps into warhosts suitable for battle, contesting among themselves for the right to lead the mightiest and most useful.
As the year goes on these hosts march west, and meet the Union’s forces in battle. Sometimes they go one at a time. Other times they set forth in larger coalitions of hosts, always they test themselves against their godless foe.
The Unions forces, for their part, have also been receiving reinforcements. Throughout the year their straining motherlands send them every new machine of war that can be constructed, every Ultra that the stingy Company will grant them and every new son or daughter who has passed their strict training regimens. They hope (for prayer is of their foe) that it is enough to keep the Faithful at bay for another year.
Their champions are always outnumbered, and inevitably strained to the breaking point, but every year the miracle repeats itself. The armies of the Union, stretched thin and overwhelmed by numbers that should be beyond defeat, pull through and gain their victory. The Pantheon’s proud Hosts are left broken and crushed upon the battlefields, the spurious divinity that mankind’s rambunctious children claimed revealed to be a lie, as their elders lay them low.
It has been estimated that the Pantheon sends as many as twenty thousand Ultras a year against the Union, and the same again in human servants and auxiliary forces. As many as seventy percent of them are lost in the battles, in one way or another. Most are killed. Some few are captured by the heathen enemy, dragged off to be interrogated in bunkers of dread repute. Many more abandon the crusade, vanishing into the dust and chaos of battle, wandering back into the Pantheon.
The remaining survivors fall back, and rejoin the Great Host. Some of them have earned their Divine Names, and become leaders of the incursions. Others escaped death in a more prosaic manner, and join their fellows in the great waiting.
As for the Unions forces? Estimates are far less certain as to the number of their Ultras, but most guesses place their numbers at a mere eight or nine thousand. It is likely that as many again are spread throughout the Union proper, awaiting their turn on the front lines.
They do not fight alone, of course. The Union’s Ultras are shielded by its drone forces, which number probably half again as large as their Ultra contingent, and by the finest human military that the world has ever seen. Union battle doctrine calls for ten humans per Ultra, minimum, and often times the numbers climb well beyond that.
The question that hangs above the fields of war is always the same. “Is this the year?”
Civilians tap it into forum threads. Soldiers ask it in their free time. Officers mutter it to one another, and anxiously query it into their com bands. Newly minted Gods scream it to their masters.
What ‘the year’ means varies depending on who is asking. Pantheon forces wonder if this is it, the year that the Great Host, the accumulation of decades of Pilgrimages, finally goes west. Union forces wonder the same, and also whether or not the endlessly rumored preemptive assault will finally sally forth, and see them wrong foot their enemy by engaging the Great Host directly, before it has the chance to send out its smaller war hosts. Conspiracy theorists scratch their heads and rake their cheeks, wondering whether She will finally send Her forces into the greatest battle in the world.
Those who know the truth, meanwhile, ask a far more sinister question. They know that even the Great Host is merely a smokescreen, a frightening apparition meant to mask the creation of a far deadlier weapon. The Army of Sunset, they ask. Is this the year that it makes its move?
They need question no more. None of them. This is the year.
Above is a picture of Haunter that a reader ( https://itsbenedict.tumblr.com/ ) drew, and here is a link to a youtube video of another reader reading the first story entry, Haunter 1:1.