Regime Quest 17

Results from Previous round votes:

2 Votes: Plan Talon of Antares (SV thread)

1 Vote: Plan CCC on my blog

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Winning Plan:

[X] Do not interact with Subtracter, leave immediately for Delphia

[X] Take only volunteers from Delphia

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Day 14 Log (Crisis):

 

Blender + Builder travel to Delphia from Shington (adv Blender’s vehicle, Blender’s experience, disadv nighttime transit), roll 6, success

Blender diplomacy w/Delphian Ultras (adv Warlord, high Tally), roll 8, success

Delphian Harvest (innate disadv), roll 9, success

Blender + Builder + new Ultras travel back to Shington from Delphia (disadv only one vehicle, disadv ragtag group), roll 10, success

 

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There’s an old song I liked, back when I was young and the world made sense.  I forget most of how it goes, the words I mean, but I remember the message, the story of it.

The protagonist is a rich guy, no time for love.  Some people come to lynch him and kill him.  But they decide to only rob him instead, they take all his money and they let him go.

The chorus goes ‘and I walked away from the hanging tree’, or something like that.

That was the line that I had playing in my head, over and over, as I carefully and methodically drove all twenty one of our new recruits back into Shington.

It wasn’t a song about winning.  It wasn’t even a song about trying, or doing anything.  The protagonist demonstrated no agency at all, that I can recollect.  It was a song about surviving, about things not turning out as bad as they could have, and it was a perfect summary of my life right now.

Start with the trip over.

I’d been driving at night.  Racing the clock, with Builder in the passenger seat.  Builder, who, it had turned out, had never been in a vehicle in her life, and who proved to my dismay that not eating very much didn’t actually stop you from vomiting with excessive force and frequency.

I’d almost left her behind.  She’d be taking up a space that I might have needed for a recruit, but I’d been worried about what she might say, who might hear her.  She had needed a quick talk about the importance of information security, about what lies were ok to tell to who, and I had decided, on the spur of the moment, to give that talk during our drive to Delphia.

Also, while it probably was not strictly necessary, I’d always been more comfortable with someone to talk to on a night trip.  My gifts would protect me if I wrapped my car around a tree, but they wouldn’t do the same for my car, and being marooned out in the wilds would have utterly ruined my schedule.

So, yes, the trip over, I’d been driving tired, talking at the same time, over dark roads with only the moon and my headlights to guide me.  The road was ruined in places, blocked by wreckage in others, and I had to remember all of the squirrels paths and side ways that we Troubleshooters had worked out.

I did it.  Flawlessly.

I made it into Delphia just as the sun was coming up.  I left Builder with the car, telling her to spend the day looking into how it was formed, figure out what her gift could do.

That wasn’t the main reason I left her, of course.  The main thing she was doing was sitting on the car and making sure that no one walked off with it.  She might have essentially no combat capability, but no one in Delphia knew that.  They’d see the sigil, they wouldn’t test her.  At least I’d hoped they wouldn’t.

That was the point at which the ‘when is the other foot going to drop’ feeling had really set in.  I’d been ready for just about any reception in Delphia.

What actually happened was astoundingly mundane.

Grinder was still in charge, she remembered me from my Troubleshooter days.  She didn’t doubt that I was the Warlord for a second, someone had apparently told her sometime in the last few weeks, and she’d already assembled the volunteers.

The volunteers, in my fevered expectations, had been the single biggest stumbling block.  I’d hatched a dozen plans for how I could get more, all of them skirting the darkest edges of my ethics and occasioning enormous bouts of self doubt.

My basic plan had been to offer up my healing gift to the victims.  I would heal the family members of those who were Processed.  It had felt scummy, but the obvious alternative was simply grabbing people up off of the street.

If that hadn’t worked I’d been willing to sweeten the pot.  Builder’s gift lent itself readily to bribery.  Possessions weren’t any use to the dead, of course, but they could be left with friends or family, transforming the lives of the healthy in ways analogous to the sorts of healing I was willing to provide.

None of that had been necessary.

Somehow, in my imagination, I’d never considered the obvious possibility that Subtracter’s expectations were grounded in reality.  She’d been doing this a while, it kind of stood to reason that she’d have a realistic estimate.

I didn’t exactly dig into it.  It was entirely possible that Grinder had conscripted these individuals, that the ugliness was only out of my sight, and I was the beneficiary of the Regime’s customary heartlessness.

I very deliberately did not ask.  It isn’t like I could have done anything differently if I’d found out anything horrifying, so I just let myself remain ignorant.

I’ll carry that.  I have to.

The Processing itself, well, a dirty secret of the world is that no abomination exists that isn’t ultimately mundane in the doing.  No atrocity has ever been committed, but the guys pulling the levers complained about their callouses.

It was an afternoon like any other.  I sat in a waiting room, reading through some old magazines, while the Company put hundreds to death.

It had been this, and nothing else, that had ultimately ruined the Old World.

Everyone, in their descriptions, they hung around stories of Toppling cities, of clouds of dust rising and Ultras hurling tanks.  All that had happened.

But that was a hurricane, a volcano.  Mankind could take losses.  We’d done so before, great plagues of the past had winnowed us, had taken vast numbers, and we hadn’t been ruined.

But the Process was something new.

Ask people to flee, to take their families and run, and they would.  They’d go cursing and wishing that they could do something, but they would have run.  The world would have scattered.

But give us a lure, a way to fight back, and, well, that was us, wasn’t it?  The people who ran towards the fires, towards the falling buildings?  That was the best of humanity, and the Process weaponized it.

The people who should have been keeping things going, who should have been leading diasporas, they’d died in rooms like these, died dreaming of being reborn with the capacity to do more than survive, dreaming of fighting back.

A siren’s song, and a deadly one.  It had culled us, was still culling us.  The people who were dying upstairs, they had chosen those deaths, chosen to take their one in thirty instead of living one more worthless day under the foot of Warlords like me.

That afternoon seemed to stretch on for months.  It had gnawed at me, dug at the roots of me, dragged up memories of my village’s fall, of my friends and families herded into trucks and brought to a facility just like this one.

But eventually it ended.

Hundreds had died.

And twenty one had survived.  A foul tradeoff, by any measure.

I’d been so caught up in my worries about how to get the recruits that I hadn’t really pondered how I was going to get them back.  They weren’t exactly going to fit in my little sedan.

Builder, strangely enough, had been the answer to this one.

She’d gotten bored pretty quickly, trying to understand how the car worked.  She wasn’t disassembling it, and she was worried about breaking something if she poked around in the engine without supervision.

So what she’d done instead, over the course of a long day, was work on a sort of wheeled skiff which would drag along behind the car as it drove.

Her first versions, she confessed, had been embarrassingly bad, but ultimately she’d attracted the attentions of some locals, and they’d pitched in with their basic knowledge of stuff they’d seen attached to the back of a lot of cars.

To my surprise, they’d come up with a pretty fair copy of a basic hauling two.  It wouldn’t have won any prizes, of course, wouldn’t have been allowed on the road, back in the day, but damned if it didn’t work.

We’d stowed the new recruits on the back, crammed a bunch of the stronger ones in the backseat, and we’d driven back to the Lair.

Even now, stepping back into my own home, with the new Ultras all introduced to Shington’s gangs, and Builder safely back at her place.  I’m still waiting for that other boot to drop.

Maybe I always will.

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Day 15:

 

Days remaining: 16

AP available: (4 after crisis + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 5/10

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Posse: 1 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 0

Condition: Healthy

(Ultra format: Role, Ultra Strength/Speed/Toughness, other gift description)

 

Posse:

Builder — 0/0/0, a woman who can alter objects for miles around into other things, blessed with a ‘Bulletproof’ blend

Ultra Allies:

Owner – housemate, 0/0/1 operates an imaginary firm, with real effects on the world,

Maker- Friend, and protégé of Snitcher, 0/0/1, can summon the spirit of things

Clawer – Ultra fighter 2/0/1, melee combatant, deadly hooks for hands

Stopper – partner of Clawer, 0/0/0, steals form’s velocity by looking at them

Sticker – Did dentistry for her brother, 0/0/2, Creates slime, can choose its stickiness

Grower – 0/*0/1, an outside Ultra I sponsored into the Lair, has a bullet blend from me, can rapidly increase the size and mass of objects

Joker — 0/2/0, a woman who can change what other people/herself look like

 

Ultra Enemies:

Masher- Enemy, and fellow protégé of Subtracter, 3*/0/3*, trades off strength and durability as she moves or stays still

Picker – First Fist protégé, 0/1/0, ‘selects the outcome of things’

 

Ultra Acquaintances:

Tracker – Running buddy, 1/0/1, Creates tracks, and can move things on them

Shower – Adder’s protégé, 1*/0/1*, gains strength and durability from witnesses

Echoer – Singer I am a fan of, 1/1/1, can duplicate any action that she sees

Bubbler – Operates Ultra clinic 0/0/?, traps things in bubbles that heal and move them

Sucker — Ultra entertainer, ?/?/?, pulls objects/people towards her at incredible rate

Gunner — 0/0/1, she shoots tracking Ultra Blasts at roughly Ultra Strength One

Chiller — 1/0/1, can freeze any object she touches, leaving them brittle and easily broken

Cutter — 1/1/1, she is a brutal front line combatant

Smasher — 3/0/1, a woman who is billed as the strongest Ultra fighter of all time

Swimmer — 1/0/1, she can ‘swim’ through solid surfaces

Burner — 0/0/1, she can summon Ultra fire from anywhere that she can see

Maxxer — 0/0/0, she can augment the gifts of other Ultras, pushing their gifts

Puncher — 1/0/1, her strength and speed both go up when she repeats her movements

Replayer — 1/2/0, she can ‘step back in time’ to undo damage that she takes

 

Faction Rankings:

Regime 7

KEM 8

Pantheon 2

Union 4

Resistance 9

Prevailer 3

Knights 3

 

[spoiler=Actions]

Actions:

[ ] Invite Owner into Posse (Timeslot cost: 0, AP Cost 0, auto success)

Motive: Owner has more or less volunteered to join me, no more work is needed to get her onboard.  I already trust her to watch me while I sleep, and her gift and Builders have some intriguing synergies.  She can feed Builder, she can probably get a company car or even helicopter to fix my transport problems.  There’s a lot to like about the idea.

Concerns: She would be a second member of my posse with no particular combat gifts.  Ultra toughness one doesn’t particularly terrify the world.  She will also probably do me any particular favor I need without having to be part of my Posse, I might want to save my slots for people who aren’t already well disposed to me.

 

[ ] Contact Knights (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success)

Motive: My recent actions have opened up the possibility of collaboration with the Knights of Purity. Their assistance could be valuable, insofar as they don’t count towards the Regime’s ridiculous rule against outnumbering our enemies, and I might be able to acquire some of their blessed equipment if I play my cards right.

Concerns: I don’t know if I really want to be associating with such a group. KEM wouldn’t mind, but the Resistance would pull away from me, and I might end up coming into contact with Second Fist or their sponsored Ultras. It is likely that anything they might want from me would be rather evil.

 

[ ] Seek Transportation

-[ ] Scavenge (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: My current transportation sufficed for me in my troubleshooter role, but I will likely require a larger vehicle, or several vehicles, in order to bring everyone to Ar Harbor. I can seek to find something in the suburbs and surrounding towns.

Concerns: Leaving Shington could be dangerous, and I am far from guaranteed to find a bus or truck suitable to my needs, as the area has already been heavily scavenged.

-[ ] Trade with existing owners (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but instead of fixing up ruined vehicles I’ll negotiate to get them from their current owners.

Concerns: Snitcher may disapprove of a warlord being civil

-[ ] Seize by force (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: As above, but instead of asking my contacts for vehicles I’ll just take what I want. My role as warlord and my Tally should minimize resistance

Concerns: People like their vehicles, and won’t like the one who takes them. I will make enemies.

-[ ] Seek Transportation [Adder + Company] (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but Adder can use his gift to make something for my purposes, and the Company can duplicate it and make it permanent.

Concerns: Adder and I are not close, he may decline to aid me, owing to his rivalry with my sponsor, Subtracter.

 

[ ] Seek Target Information

-[ ] Company (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: The Company logs every Ultra they create. Their Ar Harbor records would be useful information

Concerns: Ultras migrate and conceal their gifts, this information would be incomplete

-[ ] Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: Subtracter is the military leader of the Regime, she will have information on this target

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and violent, I don’t like to be around her

-[ ] Survivors (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: There have been 2 other attempts at Ar Harbor. I can seek out and question survivors in the outer city.

Concerns: I may be unable to find any survivors, and I may be misled by liars.

 

[ ] Seek Posse Members

-[ ] wander & gossip, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 1-6 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping, opening up in depth investigation options on them and adding them to my list of acquaintances.

Concerns: None

-[ ] At Ultra Fights, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Constraint: Only available in the afternoon or night on days divisible by 4 (day 4, 8, etc)

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 3-12 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping at this kind of event.

Concerns: Ultras associated with the Fights are more likely than most to be melee combatants.

 

[ ] Seek Warband Members

-[ ] At the Yard, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: The Lair is surrounded by hundreds of Regime Ultras. The strongest come to the Yard to show their power and appeal to those like me, who would give them purpose. I should be able to gather between 5 and 20 Ultras of such caliber.

Concerns: I will need to provide housing and direction to these Ultras, or risk them wandering off. I can expect to spend at least an action a day on them, and training them might well eat up more. Ideally a Posse member will be tasked with this.

-[ ] [Gang name] From a Gang, (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 5, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: The Ultras that surround Shington are organized into Gangs dozens strong. If I can recruit such a force I might have my whole Warband right there.

Concerns: These Ultras likely already have patrons in the Lair, who I would need to negotiate with. Their leader would also likely want a place in my Posse, and she would be the primary locus of their loyalty until I’d had time to win them over.

 

[ ] Investigate Acquaintance:

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success, 2 if we become allies)

Motive: I can spend some serious one on one time with an Ultra I’ve chosen, evaluating the capability of their gift, the alignment of their values with mine, and their basic ccompetence. If all checks out, I might move them into my Ultra Allies column.

Concerns: None

 

[ ] Invite Ally into Posse:

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: If I want to bring an ally into my posse, get them to take actions on my behalf and rise or fall with me, this is the way to do it. I will only take this action on those I’ve already made allies, and once this has been taken it is difficult to undo.

Concerns: Posse members are most of the way into my circle of trust, and will operate on my behalf, representing me to stranger. A mistake here would be dangerous and damaging. I should be careful before taking this step, potentially investigating a prospect several times.

 

[ ] Seek Information on Snitcher’s patterns

-[ ] Passive listening (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: Snitcher can ride my senses at any moment, and bring Her along. If I am ever to contact my KEM allies, my resistance allies, or show any kindness or weakness whatsoever, I need to understand when this is likely to take place. Gossip can hint at this, particularly if I carefully steer conversations. This action would be mostly undetectable, even if he was riding me when I took it.

Concerns: None

-[ ] Active interrogation of Snitches (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 2 on success)

Motive: As above, but rather than listen for random gossip I will seek out other linked individuals and directly ask them how often he rides their senses, and what actions he has reacted to in the past.

Concerns: More likely Snitcher notices this, unknown consequences of that.

-[ ] Confront Snitcher Directly (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: As above, but take the simplest possible route. Go to Snitcher and ask him for the deal.

Concerns: I am sponsored by Subtracter, not Snitcher, he may not wish to aid me. He may demand favors or other services in exchange for the information.

 

[ ] Seek Information on Regime military operations

-[ ] Ask Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: My life depends on doing this right. I need to get a basic understanding of what She is expecting from my attack on Ar Harbor. Do I need to seize the Company Facility? Kill all the enemies? Are there any constraints on how I go about it? Subtracter is the leader of the Regime’s military, and my sponsor, she will know these answers.

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and brutal, and she killed my neighbors, I hate spending time with her.

-[ ] Ask Around (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but ask survivors of previous missions instead of my evil boss.

Concerns: My predecessors may not have told them everything, their views of their missions may omit certain command level details that I need to worry about.

[ ] Relax and Recuperate

-[ ] By visiting Blisser (Timeslot cost: X (slots spent until AP reaches max), AP cost 0, returns 3 per time period. DANGER, this action may cause addiction)

-[ ]By lounging around, (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 0, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: I could do with some rest.

Concerns: None

-[ ]By patronizing entertainment areas (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: I could do with some rest, and I might learn some things by socializin

Concerns: None

-[ ]By using my gift to repair the city (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, refunds 5 on success)

Motive: It needs to be done.

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

-[ ]By using my gift to heal people (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 5 on success)

Motive: This is why I have my gift.

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

[ ] Organize Armory [Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 2 on success)

Motive: I carry, in my backpack and on my person, various items to blend with if the need arises. I am overdue to look through my setup and take an inventory, once that is done I could seek out new objects if I am missing anything useful.

Concerns: None

[ ] Seek new residence [ Timeslot cost: 3, returns 1 if successful ]

Motive: I could get a lot more done if I got a full night’s sleep

Concerns: Owner and I have guarded one another’s rest for a long time. I wouldn’t necessarily be able to trust a new person to the same extent.

[ ] Action: Other (Timeslot cost: x, returns x if successful)

 

KEM Actions:

[ ] Assign Assassination mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 3, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

Description: KEM are the only humans who fight back on a consistent, day to day basis.  We’ve come up together, they and I, and pointing them at my foes is only common sense.  If I give them a target, then I trust them to make a good faith effort to put that Ultra down.  Their odds of success, of course, vary wildly depending on how much info I can provide, and the gifts of the Ultra in question.

 

Resistance Actions:

[ ] Assign Information Gathering Mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

Description: The humans are the ocean in which the Ultras swim, the saying goes.  The Resistance’s capacity to gather information about Ultras is unsurpassed.  If I give them a target, then they will give me every bit of public information on the target, and often times a little bit more.  Ultras are people, after all.  I believe this with all my heart.  And people trust other people, even those that they ultimately shouldn’t.  I can assign as many targets as I wish, but the more I assign the less details I will probably get, and the longer it might take.

[ ] Debrief Information Gathering Mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 0, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

Description: The information that the Resistance gathers is worthless if I never regain it.  Using protocols I’ve worked out ahead of time, and my recent discovery of Snitcher’s habits, it should be possible for me to take the Resistance’s reports with minimal risk.  I expect I should give them a day or two for local targets, and possibly as much as four for targets in Ar Harbor or further afield.

 

Builder Actions:

[ ] Repair Structure [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder can repair most any structure any structure in just a few hours, spreading broken portions back into place and generating new matter as needed.

[ ] Construct Known Structure [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder can construct any easily described structure with the same ease that she repairs them.  Her present education limits this to extremely primitive structures, but that might well be changeable.

[ ] Construct Known Items [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder’s gits aren’t limited to buildings.  If she can get a perfect understanding of an objects, and samples for every component, then she can form any items that I might desire.  The easiest way to accomplish this, of course, would be to provide her with a sample.

[ ] Memorize Patterns [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder’s gifts are heavily limited by her imperfect education.  The more patterns I can get her to learn, the more she can construct from any given material.  If I provide her with patterns or specimens I’m pretty sure she can memorize them and add them to her arsenal.

[/spoiler]

Haunter 8:5

[Author Note: 2 story updates in consecutive weeks?  Unpossible!  Here’s hoping I can keep this up next week!]

 

“Why should She have all the fun?” asked Zilla, doing the pronoun thing like she’d lived in the Regime all her life.  “Why should Zeus?  Don’t you ever get tired of everything being decided by two random assholes?  Eh?  I lead the greatest army in the world and I’m still a damn servant, I can’t even imagine how it must feel for the likes of you.”

“You want to challenge Her?” asked Dale, “Challenge Zeus?  You think that hasn’t got tried, like a bunch?”

Zilla shook her head emphatically.

“I’m not going to challenge them,” she said.  “I’m going to kill them.  Just like I killed Fifth Fist.  I won’t give them a chance to fight back.”

“Wow,” said Preventer, “That definitely makes me believe that She will lose to you.  That sentence outweighs decades of Her beating the Union’s most careful plans and the Pantheon’s most powerful Gods.”

“Wake the fuck up!” shouted Zilla.  “That fucking attitude is all that is saving Her!”

“That and Her gift,” I said, “And whatever other factor is keeping Her reign intact.”

“I don’t know about Zeus,” agreed Preventer, “but She isn’t going down no matter how Andy tweaks your gift. It is stupid to try.”

“The factor you are talking about,” said Zilla, her voice harsh, excited and angry, “Its just what is happening right here, just people giving up instead of doing something.  It is you all resigning yourself to life as Her slaves, instead of standing up for yourselves!”

It felt intensely weird to be on the other side of this speech.

“Look,” I said, “Even with Andy, there’s no-“

She cut me off.

“Andy is the key!  He can alter my gift, he can make me into what I need to be to take them out!  I’ll remove the top tier Ultras, then our kind can inherit the world!”

She looked to Preventer, holding up a hand in appeal.

“The Council isn’t like you think.  Zeus is the electricity in everyone’s brains, they follow him uncritically, no choice involved.  Your goal would destroy you, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

She held up her other hand, putting them together like she was praying.

“A genuine Ruling Council, leaders from the Regime, from the Pantheon, with no one standing above everyone else.  We control the Ultras, they control the humans.  We would finally have peace.”

“No one above us, huh?” asked Preventer.

Zilla gave a solemn nod.

“No one but you, that is?” she continued.

Zilla lowered her hands to her side.

“It wouldn’t be like that,” she said.  “I don’t have any of Zeus’ delusions.  I would value the counsel of my peers.”

Preventer gave a short bark of laughter.

“How desperate must you be?” she asked, “To say such things?  Maybe even mean such things?  Can you possibly think I’ll buy that you wouldn’t kill the rest of the Council, kill me?  You wouldn’t let anyone who knows your secret live, or did you think I hadn’t figured it out?”

Zilla took a step back, started looking around, carefully.  It seemed like she might be about ready to make a move.

Preventer kept right on talking.

“That thing Jane was talking about before, lying by telling the truth?  Did you think I wouldn’t see what you were doing?  That I didn’t know how you were going to support me for the ruling council?”

I pushed a trio of shades out of me, not towards Zilla, but sideways, spreading out.  They would throw me aside if she rushed, block some lines of sight, if it was possible.

“I can’t believe it took me so long to get it.  You were going to support me, alright, you were going to support me posthumously!”

Preventer was raging now, her voice shattering the night’s stillness.

“You knew I’d never be accepted while I was alive, but my arguments are good, I’ve followed your stupid laws, as long as I was dead you could persuade them that I’d been, however briefly one of them.  You’d have to, because then you, as my killer, would be entitled to join their number.”

“Where you’d infest them,” I chimed in.  “You don’t know how Andy’s modifications will work, not exactly, so you had to plan for if you had to reduce your ability to infest in order to get something else you wanted.  A place at the table would give you all the time you could possibly need.”

“Don’t do this,” said Zilla, spreading hands out towards us, “You know my gift, you know I’m all over you, inside of you.  I’ve been trying to give you guys a chance, I really have, but if you won’t help me out with this Andy thing then I’ll take you down the same way I did Fifth Fist.”

I scoffed.

“Do you really not get it?” I asked.  “Has it somehow not sunken in yet?  We are your executioners, Zilla.  Predicter picked us out specifically to take you down, to do what their crew couldn’t do.  There’s an argument to be made that he literally set up the composition of our team for this.”

Zilla shot me a killing glare, her face growing wider as she did so, field of vision expanding.

It was one of a host of smaller changes.  What looked like smaller appendages were bubbling along her sides, what seemed like cilia, or tentacles, were threading through her hair.  I had no doubt that within her there’d be cages of bone and muscles moving to reinforce whatever organs she was stuck with, and there was no way her brain was actually in her head.

“Don’t underestimate my gift,” said Zilla.  “Your anchor is not so safe as you might think.  I don’t know how much of my record you know, but I’ve killed Gods with Ultra toughness three before.”

It was Preventer’s turn to cough derisively.

“You blinded them,” I guessed, “something in their eyes, something in their ears, leave them helpless and tied up while Bull or Noon or someone similar takes their shot?  Is that how it was?”

She didn’t answer, which was answer enough.

Zilla crouched down, ready to spring at the slightest hint of the rocks moving under her, her form only vaguely human at this point.

I tensed as well, determined not to miss the leap.

Zilla had been cornered, outmaneuvered at every turn.  Predicter had tempted her away from her army, then gotten her away from most of her entourage and up on the jail by sacrificing their own forms, leaving her to face us alone.

We were a nightmare for her.  Not only Preventer, who she couldn’t kill without a heavier hitter, but also myself, who would phase through her parasites if she damaged me with them, and Dale who would regenerate their damage.  Fisher and Condemner had no doubt shed their forms a few times over the course of the night.  We were as safe as anyone could possibly be from Zilla’s deadly gift.

Which was far from entirely safe.  This was the woman who’d built and ruled over the Grand Host.

The reserve had gamed out her actions at this point, but all of our understanding of her gift was speculation and guesswork.  There was no guarantee that things would go like we expected.

The biggest question about Zilla, really, was why she had a body at all?  Why wasn’t she just always a cloud of ultra plague?  Why take a chance with the majority of her mass being destroyed?

The only reason that made any sense was that she had to.  That her gift didn’t permit her total dissolution.

Dale’s cry of pain cut through the night, the big man toppling over, blood exploding from his mouth.

Simultaneously my form blurred, a shade perishing to something unseen, some parasite or spawn that she’d slid into my gut during our trip.  I hurled myself aside, trying to ensure that she couldn’t get me again with whatever she’d used.

I wasn’t the only one springing into motion. Zilla was darting off at the same moment that Dale toppled.

I kept my gaze fixed on her, straining to see her movements as she receded into the dim of the evening.

I’d been sure that she’d split up, that she’d become a pair of dogs or something, play a shell game with her brain.  I’d been bracing myself, only half listening to Preventer and her blather on, so that I wouldn’t miss her trying to get her core to safety.

But my expectations had betrayed me.  Zilla simply ran away, her legs lengthening, her form lower to the ground that any human could be while maintaining that velocity.

I’d been hoping that the reserve could do something to impede her, that there was some way for us to catch whatever part of her had the vital core, but this left me powerless.  She was Ultra tough, she’d shed bullets like water, and sending shades after her would be to condemn them to death.

I wouldn’t do that, couldn’t, not with Andy so close.

But someone else did what I couldn’t, someone else, with a gift for lurking in the shadows, and the Ultra strength needed.

The Hook leaped out from ambush, bore her thrashing and writhing to the ground.

My instinctive cheer died in my throat, and I hurried in her direction, sprinting towards the frenzied ball of limbs whose violent motions had already started to kick up a huge dust cloud.

Fisher was a fine Ultra combatant.  Springing from ambush, she was better than that, a cruel predator with a form finely tuned for destruction.

She was struggling helplessly for her life only seconds after landing her leap.

For all her prowess at fighting, all the skills that she’d cultivated at this type of murder, it meant less than nothing against Zilla’s gift.

A scything claw ripped through Zilla’s flesh, which parted about it and closed again, holding Fisher in place.  Zilla’s response was a new arm bursting from her back, slamming into the Hook’s shoulder, then flowing and writhing along her neck as it branched into a forest of tentacles.

In the time it took me to draw close to the pair Zilla had changed again, pulsing mass along the new limb and shrinking others, turning her strangling grip into something far worse, engulfing the Hook’s head and driving mass like a hammerblow down her mouth.

Any living being would be at her mercy then.  If she could drive herself down into the lungs and digestive tract there would be no way for anyone to fight back, but the Hook wasn’t real in that way, didn’t have such structures.  It’s mouth was only a crushing implement, not connected to any interior spaces.  Against Fisher’s war form all Zilla’s move did was crack the jaw and seize her head in a grip of steel.

“Get clear Betty!” yelled a familiar voice, off to my right, even as a burst of flame erupted forth from Condemner, finally making his presence felt.

Zilla must have known this was coming.  Had her goal been to push her own core down into Fisher’s form, hoping it would take her along when it slid back into shadow?  That didn’t make…

She divided this time, legs and torso falling away into lumps of flesh, then writhing along the ground like serpents, desperately moving out of the way of the coming blast.

This was what we’d been waiting for, why I’d gotten so close to the conflict.

My shades moved with military precision, shining phantom flashlights on each wriggling section of Zilla, hurling blankets and similar bulky objects, frantically trying to keep them from escaping into the night.

Fisher’s scream tore me my attention away from this pursuit.  She hadn’t moved her Hook out of the way of Condemner’s attack, and now she was ablaze.

I staggered  back, the heat of the fire forcing me to squint and look away.  Betty was a tower of flame, a blazing pillar.  The Hook didn’t writhe or roll about, it stood motionless, clutching a lump of Zilla’s discarded form.

I whirled to where Condemner’s voice had come from, but I couldn’t make him out.

“Put it out!” I shouted, “You are-“

Mid sentence the heat and light of the flames vanished away. I dropped and rolled, suddenly aware that I’d turned my back on a few of Zilla’s forms.

 Nothing fired on me or tried to tackle me, and I pushed out a few more shades as I returned to my feet, scanning my surroundings in an attempt to see where Zilla had gotten to.

All her forms were immediately visible, lying motionless on the ground.  Shades surrounded them, shining lights and applying restraints, but so far as I could tell she wasn’t struggling.

Sick at heart, I looked to Betty’s Hook, expecting to see a pile of ash, one more person fooled by Condemner’s person act.

Instead, the Hook stood scorched but intact, tearing the section of Zilla’s form that was still on her into ever smaller portions.

Condemner stood by her, one hand on the Hook’s flank.  His grin looked about to swallow up his face.

That hadn’t been an attack he’d launched, that had been Condemner himself.  I hadn’t considered that he could might hurl himself through the air like a fireball, but it made sense.  And that explained the rest of it.

Given that Condemner could choose what he burned, he’d been able to let Fisher off with a light scorching, while turning Zilla to ash.

Or at least one of her forms.

“Pile them up!” I told my shades, and we hastily began the process of destroying the rest of her mass.

It didn’t move or resist, but I was reluctant to trust that.  Who knew when something like Zilla was really dead?  How could we tell if we’d missed some tiny segment?

“You all really like to talk!” said Condemner.  “We nearly fell asleep out here waiting for that whole thing to wrap up.”

“We were delaying,” I said, between gritted teeth, “In the hopes that you would arrive in time for the fight.”

He chuckled at that, and I nearly slapped him.  It irritated me immensely when Condemner acted like a person.

“Did we get Andy?” asked Fisher’s Lure, who had been manifested over by Preventer and Dale.  “I didn’t put eyes on him anywhere on the prison, but I figure if he’d gotten away you wouldn’t be nearly so calm.”

“He’s here,” I said, still not nearly as calm as the rest of them.  How could I tell if Zilla was really…

I looked to Condemner.

He gave a solemn nod, for whatever that was worth.

Condemner had seemed to have some ability to sense or communicate with gifts before.  I didn’t fully trust him, but it didn’t seem like it was in his interest to lie in this situation.

I pulled the shades back into the reserve, finally relaxing a little.

Dale was heaving, blood and vomit pooling on the ground before him.  His gift should restore him before long, but it looked like he had gotten hit pretty bad.  I’d been most worried about him, out of all of us.

Condemner was fine, of course, and Fisher had only suffered slight damage to her Hook.

It looked like Zilla had gambled on Fisher drawing the Hook away, sending out mobile decoy forms while she tried to burrow her core down into he ground.  She’d expected that Condemner wouldn’t fire on his own teammate, and presumably as long as she’d been alive and controlling her forms Dale wouldn’t have been able to use his gift to track her down.

A strange quirk of fate, that Condemner’s ruthlessness had been our salvation.  He had, of course, not hesitated for even a second before burning a comrade.  I was only surprised that he’d stopped.

“Preventer, are you ok?” I asked.

Ordinarily a useless question, of course, but it hadn’t escaped my notice that she’d done nothing during the battle.

“I’m alright,” she said.  “Bastard blinded me, like you guessed.  I’m…”

She trailed off, rubbing furiously at her eyes.  It was hard to see in the dark, but there seemed to be some kind of filament or goo layered on them, and she was having a heck of a time pulling it off.

“We did it,” said Fisher.  “We really did it.”

I looked up the skiff above us, taking it in for a long moment.

“We really did,” I agreed.  “Now let’s get to tuning our gifts.”

Regime Quest 16

Results from Previous round votes:

 

3 Votes: Plan Talon of Antares (SV thread)

 

One Vote: Plan CCC on my blog

 

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

 

Winning Plan:

 

[X] Seek Target Information

-[ ] Company

 

[X] Seek Transportation

-[ ] By Trade with Existing Owners

 

[X] Builder: Seek Target Information: [Subtracter]

 

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

 

Day 13 Log:

 

8 AP at start of day (7 at end of last day +1 for full night’s sleep)

 

-2 for Seek Target Information (Company) (6 AP)

 

Roll 6, Success

 

+1 for Success (7 AP)

 

-2 for [Evening] Seek Transportation (5 AP)

 

Roll 9 for Strong Success

 

+1 for Success (6 AP)

 

End of day, (6 AP).

 

Builder Seek Target Information: [Subtracter]

 

Roll 1 for Critical Failure

 

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

 

Seek Target Information: Company

 

It wasn’t hard to access the Company’s data on the Ultras of Ar Harbor.  I’d simply walked in and demanded them, and the Company Man behind the counter had gone and fetched them.

I’d been expecting that it might take a while for them to find what I was looking for, but he was back within a few minutes, handing the dog eared printouts over with the soulless grace that such beings were known for.

 

Condensing down the entries from the Company’s distinct vernacular, they were as follows:

 

Imbuer (King Arthur): Can empower willing humans, at will, with Ultra Strength, Speed or Toughness.  These champions keep their gift until he retracts it.  The blessings effectiveness varies inversely  depending on how many people he is maintaining it on.  More targets means that it is less powerful.

Any given human can only have one of their aspects imbued at a given time, so he couldn’t allow a human to manifest Ultra Strength and Toughnessat once, for example.

He acquires no control over his clients save for that allowed by the threat of withdrawing his gift.  He is unable to maintain his blessings while he sleeps.

 

Vanisher (Merlin): Vanish’s gift allows her to focus her gaze on a solid or person, and subtract or steal away the object or person’s presence from its environment.

She can make inaudible guns, invisible walls and turn her enemies into powerless shades, unable to touch the world ever again.  Her gift’s modifications to the world seem to be permanent, although precedent suggests that her death would reverse them.

Her gift only works on about half of the Ultras who have Ultra Toughness one, and even when it does so it takes notably longer than it does for ordinary humans or objects.  Her gift requires visual contact to activate.  Her gift has no obvious limitations involving number of targets that she can sustain effects on, it seems as though once made the changes are self sustaining.

 

Igniter (Guinevere): Igniter’s gift allows her to cause objects or people to spontaneously combust, and also permits her to exert telekinetic force on anything that is on fire.

Ignition is proximity based, she seems to have a radius of approximately a thousand feet in terms of what she can set on fire, but she can control burning objects or people at several times that range.

Igniter also possesses Ultra toughness two, although it is the suspicion of this testing body that this may only be the case when she is in the midst of a veritable inferno, and that smaller amounts of nearby fire would yield lower ultra toughness.

 

Battler (Lancelot): Battler’s gifts are entirely straightforward.  She possesses Ultra strength, toughness and speed, all at the first degree.

 

***********************************************************”**************************

 

Seek Transportation

 

It had been a while since I’d been out of the city, on my own, Troubleshooting.  A simpler time.

One thing I would never forget was the world’s sheer size, the way that horizon gave way to horizon, without end.  The people of the Lair might think themselves the center of the world, but they were less than a pimple on it.

To bring a fifty souls to Ar Harbor in the time I’d been granted demanded vehicles.  I couldn’t depend on many of my followers being able to drive.  I’d need busses, trucks or similar.

That had presented a huge problem, since there were very few such vehicles still in working condition, fewer still that didn’t already have a strong owner.  I hadn’t been looking forward to the bargaining, had budged and presumed that a significant fraction of my month might have gone into it.

That had all been before I got Builder into my Posse.

While working vehicles were precious, broken down ones were junk.  Junk that the people of the outer sections of Shington were eager to trade to a Warlord for trinkets and baubles brought out from the Lair.

I traded batteries and foodstuffs, clothes without holes, shoes without too many holes, and similar trinkets.  I got, in exchange, the rusting and damaged hulks of a pair of old school busses, and a trio of dump trucks, one of which looked like it might literally be repairable even without an Ultra’s gift.

I estimate that if I tell her to take a few days to work out what goes where Builder should be able to fix my transportation worries.

Not a bad few hours.

***********************************************************”**************************

 

Debrief Builder [Seek Target Information: Subtracter]

 

“So how did it go?” I asked her.

Builder frowned, looking down at her hands.  I expected her to reach for the bag of chips, but she didn’t move.

She didn’t so much as twitch.

After a long moment, she looked back up at me.

“I think I might have messed up,” she said.  “I’ve been thinking about it ever since I got away from her, and I’m more and more sure about it.”

I winced.

It had been a gamble, sending Builder to speak with someone like Subtracter.  She had no edge to her, no combat power at all.  I’d been hoping to do a sort of social martial arts thing, matching Subtracter with someone who would never confront her, no matter what, but that had its own risks.

“She didn’t even really let me talk about the target at all,” she said.  “She was so scary!  I was certain that she was going to kill me, right then and right there.”

“She threatened you?” I asked.

It was entirely plausible.  Subtracter bullied and coerced as a way of life, but I couldn’t really think of anything Builder might have that she could want.

“Not in, like, direct words or anything, but she kept throwing stuff right past my head.  I felt like she was just making sure I knew that she could take me out in an instant.”

I nodded.  I’d had some of that treatment early on, before Subtracter had realized just how useful I could be.  It was like talking to someone who casually pointed a gun all around your head and shot bullets past you, mid sentence.  It could have broken the nerve of people a lot more stalwart than Builder was.

“What happened?” I asked.

I didn’t want to ask ‘what did you do wrong’ directly, if I could help it.  Builder seemed to be in a bit of a fragile state right now, and the last thing I needed was to get her scared of me as well.

“She wasn’t interested in the main mission at all,” she said.  “Didn’t even mention Ar Harbor.  She was all about your trip to Dephia, pressed me on details about how that had gone.”

Had gone?  But I hadn’t done that yet…

“Yes,” I responded, “I can see hwo that would be awkward.”

“Yeah,” she answered instantly, matching agreement with agreement, “It was the worst.  I was feeling so pressured and…I took a guess.”

“Took a guess,” I repeated, a sinking feeling settling in my gut.

“I know you are very skilled, right?  So I figured if you were doing something it would have to have worked out great.  So that’s what I told her.  I told her your trip had been a huge success, that it had definitely achieved everything it was supposed to.”

I froze for a second, plausible future paths erasing themselves before my eyes, and this calamity settling firmly into their place.

This was the dark side of Posse members, the reason I tried to be so careful.  They were presumed to be operating under your instructions, people would generally believe that they were carrying out your will.

Even when they did something so phenomenally dumb as lie to Subtracter’s face.

“Is that ok?” asked Builder.

I thought it through, trying to understand how this had happened.

Subtracter had just assumed that I’d already taken care of the Delphia thing.  She was naturally impatient, she’d said a few weeks, and it had been thirteen days.

Builder had had no reason to suspect that Subtracter, the general of the Regime and the big boss of everyone around here, under Her, could be so dumb as to not know what I was up to, so she’d taken the fact that I’d already done the Delphia thing as written.

She’d intended her lie to be far smaller, more like a case of putting the best possible face on something.  If I’d actually carried out my task then presenting it as an incredible success would be basic office politics, essentially routine.  The Regime, like many other despotic states throughout history, liked to present its story as a series of inevitable triumphs.

“It will be,” I answered, voice thick with reassurance.

I hated to lie to a Posse member.

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

 

 

Day 14:

 

Days remaining: 17

 

AP available: (6 end of last day + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 7/10

 

Prestige: 3

 

Timeslots available: Crisis

 

Builder Timeslot Available: Crisis

 

Posse: 1 out of 3 slots filled

 

Force size: 0

 

Condition: Healthy

 

(Ultra format: Role, Ultra Strength/Speed/Toughness, other gift description)

 

Posse:

 

Builder — 0/0/0, a woman who can alter objects for miles around into other things, blessed with a ‘Bulletproof’ blend

 

Ultra Allies:

 

Owner – housemate, 0/0/1 operates an imaginary firm, with real effects on the world,

 

Maker- Friend, and protégé of Snitcher, 0/0/1, can summon the spirit of things

 

Clawer – Ultra fighter 2/0/1, melee combatant, deadly hooks for hands

 

Stopper – partner of Clawer, 0/0/0, steals form’s velocity by looking at them

 

Sticker – Did dentistry for her brother, 0/0/2, Creates slime, can choose its stickiness

 

Grower – 0/*0/1, an outside Ultra I sponsored into the Lair, has a bullet blend from me, can rapidly increase the size and mass of objects

 

Joker — 0/2/0, a woman who can change what other people/herself look like

 

 

Ultra Enemies:

 

Masher- Enemy, and fellow protégé of Subtracter, 3*/0/3*, trades off strength and durability as she moves or stays still

 

Picker – First Fist protégé, 0/1/0, ‘selects the outcome of things’

 

Ultra Acquaintances:

 

Tracker – Running buddy, 1/0/1, Creates tracks, and can move things on them

 

Shower – Adder’s protégé, 1*/0/1*, gains strength and durability from witnesses

 

Echoer – Singer I am a fan of, 1/1/1, can duplicate any action that she sees

 

Bubbler – Operates Ultra clinic 0/0/?, traps things in bubbles that heal and move them

 

Sucker — Ultra entertainer, ?/?/?, pulls objects/people towards her at incredible rate

 

Gunner — 0/0/1, she shoots tracking Ultra Blasts at roughly Ultra Strength One

 

Chiller — 1/0/1, can freeze any object she touches, leaving them brittle and easily broken

 

Cutter — 1/1/1, she is a brutal front line combatant

 

Smasher — 3/0/1, a woman who is billed as the strongest Ultra fighter of all time

 

Swimmer — 1/0/1, she can ‘swim’ through solid surfaces

 

Burner — 0/0/1, she can summon Ultra fire from anywhere that she can see

 

Maxxer — 0/0/0, she can augment the gifts of other Ultras, pushing their gifts

 

Puncher — 1/0/1, her strength and speed both go up when she repeats her movements

 

Replayer — 1/2/0, she can ‘step back in time’ to undo damage that she takes

 

 

Faction Rankings:

 

Regime 7

 

KEM 8

 

Pantheon 2

 

Union 4

 

Resistance 9

 

Prevailer 3

 

Knights 3

 

 

Crisis:

Blender’s life and goals are in imminent threat, due to the Builder/Subtracter situation.  She is putting all else aside in order to handle this matter.  You may only take the following actions, and you must specify a choice for both of them.  Blender’s AP at the end of this will be determined by how well it goes, and to what degree she feels at peace with her choices.

 

[ ]Mollify Subtracter by:

-[ ] Explain misunderstanding

Motive: If I go immediately to Subtracter and explain that Builder was mistaken, and that I am about to go and take care of the Delphia situation right now, then I might be able to get past this with a minimum of damage.

Concerns: Subtracter HATES being fooled.  She may kill Blender, and she may kill me.  I will certainly lose standing in her eyes, at least until another minion makes a similar error.

 

-[ ] Kill Builder

Motive: Builder in the one who has done wrong.  If I kill her I am demonstrating my strength and excusing myself of her crime.  Subtracter will not lose respect for me, and certainly will not kill me, and my mission can continue.  Every Monster, ultimately, includes the kind ones.

Concerns: Builder’s gift can repair the world, or at least a substantial portion of it.  She is as kind an Ultra as I am likely to find, and she trusts me to lead her into battle.  Killing her would be a vile deed.

 

-[ ] Do not interact with Subtracter, leave immediately for Delphia:

Motive: There is no good outcome from a talk with my boss at this time.  Instead, the right thing to do is to make Builder’s words into the truth, and rely on the Regime’s basic disorganization and Subtracters stupidity to let the exact timing of the matter fade into irrelevance.  Once I’ve taken care of things in Delphia I should be safe enough, Subtracter is a dim witted brute, not the sort who would carefully remember on what day she knew what.

Concerns: Every hour that goes by is a risk that Subtracter finds out about the lie from someone else.  If explaining that you’d fooled her is risky, it is still far safer than her working it out on her own.  If she discovers this issue herself then Builder will be killed, and I would be in immense jeopardy.

 

-[ ] Write In

 

Recruit Delphian Ultra candidates by:

-[ ] Taking Only Volunteers:

Motive: The Process is, 29/30 of the time, simple murder.  I did not take this job on in order to be party to the slaughter of the populace.  They are the ones I am trying to protect.

Concerns: It is unlikely that there will be enough volunteers, and Builder gave Subtracter the impression that this mission had been a resounding success.  It would be a discrepancy, absent excellent fortune from the Process, and that could have consequences, depending on how I deal with Subtrater.

 

-[ ] By Snatching People Up:

Motive: The only way to guarantee Ultras is to keep on processing people.  If I want this mission to succeed, then this what I need to do.

Concerns: This is what Subtracter did to my village.  Doing this would mean becoming everything that I’ve ever despised.

 

-[ ] Write In

 

 

 

Haunter 8:4

Bull gave a triumphant bellow, throwing back her head and roaring her triumph to the entirety of the world.

Nobody really payed her much attention.

“Holy shit,” said Dale.  “We…I…I’m sorry that took so-“

“Fuck you ground guy!” shouted Bull, “I’ll kill you for-“

She cut off as the ground under her rumbled, maybe loosened a bit.

“Noon was out of line,” I told her, wrenching my eyes and mind away from the welcome specter of Andy’s survival.  “We were defending ourselves.”

She didn’t say anything in response to that, settling for giving us some prime hate filled glare action.

It was easy enough to understand her rationale.  Charging a group of three Fist members would be idiotic, but backing down wasn’t really in her wheelhouse.  She’d bide her time and wait to tattle on us to Zilla.

Zilla…just the thought of the miniature form changer brought my thoughts crashing back down to earth.  The night’s work was far from over.

“What now?” asked Preventer.

“We wait,” I say.  “We need to see who survived from the raiding party.  They will see the skimmer and head over here.”

I didn’t need to mention how much depended on whether it was Predicter and Slicer, or Zilla and her crew, or both of them.  The possibilities branched rapidly depending on who showed up, and in what order.

“Alright, that makes sense,” said Dale.

“Can you at least let the Furies up?” asked Bull, a bit of a plaintive tone creeping into her voice.

I put them out of my mind for the moment, let my team handle the present.  The coming encounters would demand a lot of exactitude, and my reserve and I could use this chance to plan them.

So many questions.  Should I simply climb aboard the skiff and start my modifications?  What actions would cause Zilla to attempt to remote kill me, as she’d done to the rest of Fifth Fist?  Was Condemner still alive, and was Fisher?  Had she seen through his mask at last?  Were they aware of Zilla’s more exotic capabilities?  What were those capabilities, or rather, what gift permitted them?

I let a shade drive my form, slid down into deep communion with the reserve.  We batted the questions around, focus groups and prediction market equivalents martialed and disbanded in a blur of immensely focused cognition.

I didn’t have Ultra wisdom, I didn’t think anyone did, but back in my day the internet had always guessed the fair twists on tv shows.  That wasn’t possible because they were smarter than the mystery writers, it was simply that in a group of basically endless size someone would see the important clues, and someone else would listen.  The truth would be confirmed, the false pushed aside.

Science, if I could stretch the terms a bit.  Not with beakers and masks, or lab coats and microscopes, but refined down to its elemental form.  Predictions and counter predictions, tests giving rise to a new generation based on their results.

The minutes slipped by, resolutions mounting, theories building on theories, models collapsing into simpler models.  Questions were answered, others were raised.

Dale brought the Furies up, and Bull as well, before sinking them all down into a cavern, not too far below the surface.  They didn’t try to fight, sharing our universal conviction that as awful as being buried alive in a large cavern was, it was absolutely preferable to the version where you were just encased in dirt, left to rot in the depths  of the world.

In the near distance, a flame fell to earth from the jail.  It was hard to make out in the evening dimness.

Had that been Zilla’s hair?  Or had it been Condemner, slamming down to the earth as calamity? Could it have been both, that is, would I have seen Zilla’s hair if it was close to Condemner’s own light?

“Hey, you got him!” yelled a figure advancing towards us.

Zilla.

Showtime.

“There will be a fight,” I murmured to the other three.  “Stay ready, no matter what is said.  Make absolutely certain that Andy doesn’t come down, and whatever you do stay away from Zilla.”

“I mean, I guess that’s him up there in the little flying box, right?” she cried, gaily, as she walked up on us.

I didn’t see Condemner or Fisher around her, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t nearby.  Both could be stealthy when they needed to, and the gloom of early evening had shrouded more conspicuous people in its time.

“Stop!” I called out.

She paused midstep, comically halting with one foot above the ground.

“Jane?” she responded.

I’d stopped her about thirty feet away from us.  Near enough that we would still be raising our voices, far enough that we could hopefully avoid reinfection.  I didn’t think it would matter, exactly, but if I was right about her abilities I had to take every precaution.

“Zilla,” I answered.  “There’s been some misunderstandings, I think.  I’d like to clear that up before we all get back together.”

“And who could object to that?” she said, almost before I had finished speaking.  “I’m sure my friends are nearby, safe and sound, and the fact that I only see the three of you is just one of those misunderstandings, hmm?”

I shook my head, slowly, back and forth.

“That’s not one of them?” she asked.  “I’m disappointed.”

She still hadn’t put her foot down, and now she kind of waved it around while she shrugged.

“Let’s…”

I paused a second.

“We all came here for a reason, right?” I said.  “There’s been some turmoil, neither of us knows the full story, but whatever’s happened, it has to turn on why we are here, right?”

She gave a tolerant nod, flashing that too wide grin.

The reserve had dubbed this part of the plan the ‘drawing room scene’.  The basic idea was that I was going to stall for long enough for our allies to get here, while also getting everyone on the same page.

The fact that I was going to look like a genius was entirely besides the point.

“Preventer first,” I said.  “Why are you here?”

Preventer looked a little surprised to be asked.

“You both know that.  I’m working for the good of the Pantheon, mostly to convince any doubters that I really do belong on the Leadership Council.”

“Right,” I said, then, to Zilla, “And you are supporting her in this, right?”

“Sure,” she said.  “Anyone who kills Union stooges is all right in our book.”

“No you aren’t,” I answered, “But let’s table that for now.  So Preventer wants to destroy the jail, bring Andy back.  Let’s go to me.”

Now Zilla looked a little interested.

“The story is too boring to go into,” I said, “but I need my gift adjusted, so I needed to get ahold of Andy.  I’m also supporting Preventer’s ambitions.”

Zilla raised a finger, almost quizzically.

“Yes,” I said, anticipating her question, “The change will last even though we are linked.  It is our forms that are restored, not our souls.  That’s why memories stick around, and so forth.”

She put the finger down, I wasn’t sure if I’d actually guessed her question, or if she was just letting me have this.

“So that takes care of us.  Now let’s talk about you.”

“Ooh, ooh,” she said, sounding like a little kid, “that’s my favorite thing!”

She’d actually sounded younger there, not just in intonation but in the voice itself as well.  Just one more reminder of her constantly shifting form.

“You are here to strike a blow against the Union, sure, and taking Andy for your followers is icing on the cake.”

“Got it in one,” she said. “Whatever these misunderstandings are, they are taking quite a while to show up.”

She took a step towards us, and I stepped instantly backwards, keeping the space the same.  Dale and Preventer followed suit.

“So why is Predicter here?” I asked, looking around in case he chose this moment to show up.

It wasn’t terribly likely, of course, but with someone who could actually see the future it was worth the shot.

“Was,” corrected Zilla.

“You killed him?” I asked.

She shook her hand side to side, in the ‘eh’ sort of way, mirroring the gesture with the foot that she still hadn’t set down.

“He died,” she said.  “We’ll decide it if was me or some Union mooks based on how the rest of this goes, ok?”

I scoffed.

She finally put her foot down, glared at me.  It was hard to make out, in the dimness, but it seemed like I’d actually made her mad.

Had it been doubting her?  No, she wasn’t quite so arrogant.  It was more likely the open derision.  She’d ruled for a long time, and her minions were utterly servile.  She couldn’t be all that used to confrontation.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  “It’s just…well, First Fist tried to kill Fifth Fist.  They did so twice.  These are the people who killed, essentially, the Earth.  Their leader is quite literally the devil.  Predicter and his crew are still around.”

The reserve registered a protest at that, but I didn’t think anyone was about to derive the truth of our gift’s origin from one offhanded reference.

“No,” she said.  “They are not.”

I paused, trying to find the right words to say, and also because every extra second was more time for Condemner and Fisher to get back.

It might, of course, be more time for anyone from her crew who’d gone up and survived to come back, but in a battle with Dale on the field I didn’t figure that was as much of a danger.

“I killed them,” she continued.  “I have another gift, which I don’t talk about as much, and I used it to deprive your comrades of their lives.”

She was positively glaring now.

“It is something that I do, from time to time, to groups of people that offend me.”

I held up my hands in mock surrender, then dropped one down, leaving me with one hand up in the classic ‘well, actually’ position.

“Do you have another gift?”  I asked.  “Really?”

“I’d have thought you’d have seen it in action,” she replied, “if you were with Fifth Fist when they died.”

I forced out a chuckle.

There’s something of an art to faking laughter believably, but fortunately, as with nearly everything, there were a few people in the reserve who were experts at it.

“That was your shapeshifting, though.” I said.  “I wouldn’t count that as ‘another’ gift.”

I didn’t make air quotes for ‘another’, but I was absolutely imagining them.

“What?” asked Dale and Preventer almost simultaneously.

“She’s…” I looked back to Zilla, “Do you mind if I explain?”

She’d frozen, mouth slightly open.

I could almost feel for her, what would one even say in that situation?  To say no would be to give the game away, but obviously letting me ramble on would do the same.

“I’d appreciate it more if-“

I cut her off.

“Thanks,” I said.  “There’s this thing people like to do, right?  Anybody gets a chance, they’ll pull this number, just about everyone, just about every time.”

Dale looked back and forth between us, but Zilla had fallen silent, didn’t seem to be moving or anything.

“Lying with the truth,” I pronounced.  “It is almost irresistible.  When you can tell the truth, and have your enemies believe that you are lying, it’s just the best, right?”

I pitched the question at Zilla, not really caring if she was going to respond.  I’d thrown myself into it now, letting the rhythm of my words carry the scene.

“Zilla tells everyone that she’s a shapeshifter, that she has Ultra strength and toughness.  Then she lets them beat themselves up looking for her last mystery gift, even though she’s already told them everything that she can do.”

“Jane,” said Preventer, in a warning tone, “I think you are upsetting our guest.  Let’s not forget what happened to the last people who upset her.”

I scoffed again.

“Preventer, if she was going to take us on she would have,” I said.  “But we are basically the only group in the world that she no interest in fighting.  That’s almost certainly the reason Fifth Fist pushed us together.  They are looking for us to complete their mission for them.”

“Wait,” said Dale.  “Zilla just said that they are dead.”

“Cold dead,” she affirmed.

“Yes,” I said. “I believe that the five people who showed up at the fort, who came along with us, are currently dead.  But how sure are you that those five people are all the real members of Fifth Fist?”

There was a silent beat.

“Come on,” I said.  “I’m Predicter, I see the future.  I take my whole team, which everyone knows has no anchor, into the middle of the Grand Host?  Or do I take four members and a lookalike?”

“How would-“ asked Preventer, before I cut her off.

“It doesn’t really matter,” I said.  “Maybe they have a tame disguise Ultra.  Maybe Gardener can just make a tree act just like him from miles and miles away.  I don’t know how they did it, but are any of you willing to bet that Predicter won’t show up later on with more of his obnoxious notes?”

Nobody responded for a moment, and I went on before they could find something to say.

“When you killed him,” I asked.  “Did you find a cryptic note on his person?  Something snide?  He has a hard time not doing that.  Or did he maybe put it in one of your pockets?”

Zilla practically snarled.

“That proves nothing,” she said.  “Nothing except that his ego was as big as his dick was small.  He probably carried that note around for years!”

“Alright,” I said.  “It doesn’t really matter, let’s accept for the moment that they are dead.  Where was I?”

I hadn’t actually forgotten, of course, but time was time.

“You were talking about my gifts,” said Zilla.  “Which apparently are just the obvious, and which allowed me to kill Fifth Fist at my leisure.”

She pointed a hand at me, miming a gun.

“Which allow me to kill ANYONE, at my leisure.”

I faked another chuckle, hoping that she didn’t decide to rend a spirit out of me to prove the point.  I’d lost so many souls in that idiotic fight with Dragon, and I was so close to completing my mission, it would be hard to take any more losses.

“Anyone that you’ve infected, right?” I asked.  “Anyone whose guts you are riding around in?”

I’d rarely seen an expression as pure as the shock that crossed Zilla’s face.

“It was easy once I decide to believe you.  Given that you are a shapeshifter with Ultra strength and toughness, how could you possibly have maintained control of the Grand Host for all these years?  It didn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Everyone seemed content to let me ramble, so I went on.

“You can change your form, sure, and you have some Ultra Toughness, but still, never, in all that time, did anyone with Ultra Strength 3 decide to just walk up and tear your head off?  Everyone was fooled by the decoy giant?  It just didn’t make any sense.”

I tapped my forehead.

“Until I considered that you weren’t necessarily limited to one form at once.”

She’d fallen absolutely still, or at least the part of her that we could observe.

“But if you can have many bodies, then its trivial, right?” I pressed.  “It explains so much.  You spread yourself around, cover your subordinates with tiny critters that are also you, tiny worms, lice, maybe even germs.  And these little guys still have your Ultra strength and toughness.”

“Holy shit,” said Preventer.

“That’s why she’s so small, why she’s so handsy” I told her.  “She’s been rubbing tiny pieces of herself on everyone around her for years now.”

“And here I thought you really loved me,” she said to Zilla, sardonically.

“Anyone who wants to take you out has to ask around to find out who the real boss is.  While they are doing that you approach them in some innocuous form and spread your gunk.  Then, if the fight goes against you, you just tear their hearts out of their bodies, or something similar.”

Dale shuddered visibly, a full body motion, as he came to the obvious realization that she was almost certainly all over him.

“No one can plot against you, because you are all seeing, all hearing.  No one can fight you, because you’ve infiltrated their very forms before the battle even starts.  A nearly perfect power.”

“Nearly?” asked Zilla, her voice grown suddenly cold.

“Nearly,” I replied.  “It would be perfect with just a little change or two.  That’s why you are really here, right?”

I pointed up at the skiff where Andy was lurking, no doubt using its sensors to listen in on all of this.

“You didn’t come out here just to count coup, you bit at the only bait that could possibly make you leave your center of power.  You came to get Andy, to take away whatever weaknesses in your gift have kept you from killing Zeus, or Her.”

Dale threw up, just up and tossed his cookies all over his feet.

There was a long beat of silence after that.

“You have to admit,” said Zilla, finally, “It was a hell of a plan.”

Regime Quest 15

Results from Previous round votes:

 

One Vote

 

Plan CCC on my blog

 

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

 

Winning Plan:

 

[X] Investigate Ally [Owner] (Converting to Investigate Acquaintance, since Owner isn’t an Ally yet)

 

[X] Seek Information on Snitcher’s patterns

-[ ] By Passive Listening

 

[X] Builder: Investigate Acquaintance [Joker]

 

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

 

Day 12 Log:

 

8 AP at start of day

 

-2 for [Morning] Investigate Acquaintance [Owner] (6 AP)

 

Roll 10, Critical Success

 

+2 for Success and Alliance (8 AP)

 

-2 for [Evening] Investigate Snitcher’s patterns (6 AP)

 

Roll 4 Weak Success

 

+1 for Success (7 AP)

 

End of day, (7 AP).

 

Builder investigates Joker

 

Roll 4, Weak Success

 

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

 

Investigate Acquaintance: Owner

 

“Explain it to me again,” Owner asked.

“You have beer now,” I said.  “People like that.  You’ll get more credit cards, you can use that to make more stores, or bigger ones, or whatever you want.  It isn’t that complicated.”

“I get that much,” she said, “But why is it a ‘package’ store now?  Shouldn’t it be, like, a beer and candy store?”

“That’s just what it was called,” I said.  “Package stores sell liquor and other stuff.  Adding one in to your gas station is a win.”

She shrugged, not ultimately all that curious.  Owner’s gift, I’d often thought, should have made her a lot more interested in the old world than she had turned out to be.

“So, about how long till I can do that thing you were talking about before?  With, like, franchises and stuff?”

I grimaced, trying to decide what level to answer that on.

“It shouldn’t be long, “ I said.  “You are getting credit cards in our world for each can, which are loaded with thousands and thousands of dollars.  I don’t know how your gift is simulating the world you are working with, but, my guess would be, I dunno, maybe a week before you can open up a second place?”

 She nodded, looking across the room to where Napoleon was innocently drawing nearer to packet of peanuts we’d left out.

“Would that…” she trailed off.

I looked back to her, raising an eyebrow but not saying anything.

Instead of responding directly she got up and took a few quick steps, using her foot to hacky sack the peanuts up to her hand.

Napoleon’s head rose, eyes following the packet every inch of the way.

“Would it help you?” she asked.  “Do you and Anna need another package store somewhere, to help with your warlord stuff?”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Builder, I mean,” she said.  “We were talking last night about how dangerous it was gonna before you.  I didn’t really realize it before.”

I looked over at her, not really having anything to say about that.

“Like, is it true that the last couple Warlords got killed by these clowns?” she asked.

Napoleon, fooling no one, turned innocently away from Owner, walking away towards the other end of the room.

“Sure,” I said.  “But from what I’ve learned there were extenuating circumstances.  I’m way safer than the others.”

“Why?” she asked.

That was a bit of a poser.  I knew the answer, but it was hard to figure out exactly how to phrase it to her.  I pondered it for a few seconds.

As I did that Napoleon’s latest strategy became clear, as he trundled back into view, bearing Owner’s shoe firmly clasped in his mouth.

“I’m taking it more seriously,” I finally settled for.

“Huh?” she asked.  “And the others didn’t?”

“Yeah,” I nodded.  “They just…they just sort of sleepwalked through the roles of what they thought they were supposed to do, from how I can figure.  They didn’t think about how to win, just about doing what they were supposed do, not doing anything they would get punished for.  It is, well, it’s a mindset problem.”

Owner looked at me, skeptically, then turned her eyes back to her epic stare down with my pet.

“But you didn’t even know them?” she asked.

“Not their mindset in particular,” I said.  “It is the prevailing mindset of the times.  Ultras nowadays are…” I searched for the word.

Owner relented to the inevitable, dropping the peanuts down onto the ground.

“Careless,” I finally decided on.  “They act like everything is already decided, already measured out.  I heard that Picker, of all people, died off last night without even fighting back.”

“Heard?” she asked, as Napoleon released his hostage and moved to take his prize.

“Well, saw,” I admitted.  “Sorry, force of habit.”

She chuckled.

“Well,” she said.  “If there’s anything that I can do to help, will you let me know?”

“Sure,” I said.  “I’ll be sure to ask Anna.”

 

***********************************************************”**************************

 

Investigate Snitcher’s Patterns

I adjusted my position on the edge of the Company Facilities cafeteria, staring fixedly into a book that I was paying absolutely no attention to.

When I’d first gotten here there’d been a zone of intimidation, a wide cordon of unoccupied seats around me, the grace that the common Ultras granted to the Warlord.

I’d done nothing to dissuade them, just sat down and carefully, inoffensively, turned the pages of a random old world novel.  I let time do the work for me, making a mark or two in the book as I overheard what I was looking for.

As the hours crept by, and I did nothing whatsoever, ebb and flow of the patrons gradually erased that zone.  One after another the seats filled up, until I was just another face in the crowd, unremarked and unremarkable.

It made it easy to listen in.

I hadn’t chosen this Facility at random.  Snitcher was mostly known for the leash that his gift kept on the upper echelons of the Regime, of course, but it had another role, and that was the one that I’d be targeting this afternoon.

Humans who wanted to climb the ladder, or weak Ultras with nothing better to do, could visit him, could voluntarily link their senses to him.  They gained nothing out of it, officially, but everyone knew that his favor was upon them, and to mess with the Snitches might draw Her ire.

I’d asked around, nothing obvious, just a random aside here and there in the midst of other conversations, and an obvious pattern had emerged.  Most of Snitcher’s clients simply continued living their lives as per normal, but a certain select few changed their behavior immediately after joining his crew.

Pretty young woman, dark and slender, invariably relocated to a certain building, near this area, and were generally observed to prosper thereafter.

This was the nearest Company Facility to that building, to Snitcher’s weird second hand harem, and its occupants were a frequent topic of conversation.

Over the course of four hours where I’d been able to listen in on 6 tables I’d heard a dozen mentions of the pretty Snitches.  Common wisdom had it, or at least the common wisdom of this particular cafeteria, that they were never to be seen before noon, and that when they dragged themselves in, early in the afternoon, two or more of them were usually disheveled in a particularly suggestive way.

That was about what I would have guessed, if I’d been put to it.

Snitcher’s schedule, after all, was twinned to Hers.  Prevailer, of course, had no constraints  whatsoever on the timing of her activities, and she’d always struck me as basically lazy.

Put that together, and I figured that She was generally active in the afternoons and evenings, meaning that Snitcher would be at Her disposal during that time.  If he was going to arrange any private amusement it would most likely be during a time that She was least likely to interfere with his fun.

In turn, that meant that I was unlikely to have my senses ridden during the morning.  It wasn’t for certain, of course, wasn’t something to bet my life on, but it was enough.  I had certain protocols that I’d long established, with KEM and the Resistance, certain ways of making contact that would minimize my chances of being caught.

There was no way, of course, to hide yourself fully from someone who could steal your senses.  But given a time when he’d be mostly distracted, when the most I should have to fear was the occasional flicker of his presence, there were things I could do.  Writing a note without looking at it, one letter at a time.  Speaking code phrases to several contacts, each time delivering only an innocent partial message.  It could be done.

It would be done.  I’d worked alone for too long on this.  If I wanted to make the boast that I’d given to Owner earlier true, if I wanted to ‘take this more seriously’ than my predecessors, then I would need to gather the support of the human allies who’d taken me this far.

 

***********************************************************”**************************

 

Debrief Builder [Investigate Joker]

 

“So,” I told Builder.  “Tell me about Joker.  How did your interview go?”

I’d cleared out the house so that she wouldn’t be eating constantly this time and thus she answered me straight off.

“I mean, it wasn’t exactly, like a formal deal or anything.  We’ve both worked in the Ultra Fights for a long time.  I just had her over and let her know my new situation.”

“What’d she think?” I asked.

“She thought it was pretty daring of me.  I didn’t tell her about how I’m bulletproof now, so she probably just thinks I’m gonna get shot.  She tried to pressure me to finish up some stuff for the league before we set out.”

I chuckled.

“Not so sentimental then?”

She chuckled.

“Joker made her brothers take the Process at the same time she did, at gunpoint.  She’ll do anything.”

“Did you get any more details about her gift?” I asked.

“Yeah, yeah,” she said.  “Though that’s mostly from knowing her so long.  She might have been, like, hiding her best stuff all that time or whatever.”

“Sure,” I rejoined.  “Just give me the highlights.”

Billy came in, brought her a packet of chips.  The little traitor.

“Ok, so, it is really easy to get hung up on her special gift, right?  Like, to think of her as the girl who does disguises.  That’s what the audience mostly does.”

She fondly ruffled Billy’s hair, let him run on back out.

I nodded.

“But, like, remember she has Ultra Speed two, ok?  That’s ridiculous.  You don’t get just how fast that is. I don’t get how fast that is.  It is ridiculous.  She is, like, so fast.”

“Ok,” I said.  “I’ll try not to forget that.  Do you have any more qualified descriptions?  Like, so many miles per hours or something?”

“Yeah,” she said.

I waited for her to elaborate on that, only to hear crunching noises instead.

I drummed my fingers while she finished up the bag, looking away as she licked the salt off of the inside.

“Yeah?” I asked.

“SO FAST!” she said, spreading out her hands for emphasis.

That was just great.

She could tell from my impression that I wasn’t super impressed by this information, so she moved on to the next point.

“As far as her disguising power goes, I know a lot more stuff about that.”

“Let me guess,” I returned, somewhat drily, “Is it SO GOOD?”

She chuckled.

“Yep!” she answered.  “She has to touch someone, skin to skin, before she can change the way that they look, but it only ever has to happen once.”

I nodded, not terribly surprised.

“So she could change you?” she said.

“Yeah,” she answered, “Sometimes they had me be other people.  She put her gift on me a bunch of times.”

“How long does it take to switch?” I asked.

“It is instant,” she said.  “She can do as many people as she wants, change them whenever she wants.  As long as she’s touched them.”

“Where do the disguises come from?” I asked.  “Can she only make people look like someone that she’s already seen, or maybe touched?”

She shook her head.

“It can be whatever she wants.  We had her make people look mad wounded a lot.  Or she can just like change hair color and stuff.”

“Impressive,” I responded.  “Does it have any weaknesses?”

“Oh, yeah, no doubt.  It isn’t real.  The disguise is only visible, it isn’t like, gonna be there if you feel for it.  It doesn’t do sound or smell either.  And it goes away if she goes to sleep.”

That was a significant weakness, meaning that long term infiltration for someone hidden by her gift would be extremely inconvenient.

“Is that it?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s about all I can think of about her gift,” she answered.

“Did you sound her out about joining up?” I asked.  “Like we talked about?”

“Sure,” she said.  “She kind of treated it like a joke when I asked about it, made gun shooting motions at me.  I think she has the same worry that I did, you know?  That she might get shot.”

“Do you think that she’d join up without that worry?” I asked.

“Probably,” she said.  “Everyone in the league was basically on board for your team, right?”

“That they were,” I said.

“I dunno,” she said.  “She might have more conditions or whatever, if you talk to her yourself.  I wasn’t sure she was taking me totally seriously, you know?”

“I’ll consider it,” I answered.

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

 

 

Day 13:

 

Days remaining: 18

 

AP available: (7 end of last day + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 8/10

 

Prestige: 3

 

Timeslots available: 2 (morning, afternoon) + special action available with Owner

 

Builder Timeslot Available: 1 (afternoon)

 

Posse: 1 out of 3 slots filled

 

Force size: 0

 

Condition: Healthy

 

(Ultra format: Role, Ultra Strength/Speed/Toughness, other gift description)

 

Posse:

 

Builder — 0/0/0, a woman who can alter objects for miles around into other things, blessed with a ‘Bulletproof’ blend

 

Ultra Allies:

 

Owner – housemate, 0/0/1 operates an imaginary firm, with real effects on the world,

 

Maker- Friend, and protégé of Snitcher, 0/0/1, can summon the spirit of things

 

Clawer – Ultra fighter 2/0/1, melee combatant, deadly hooks for hands

 

Stopper – partner of Clawer, 0/0/0, steals form’s velocity by looking at them

 

Sticker – Did dentistry for her brother, 0/0/2, Creates slime, can choose its stickiness

 

Grower – 0/*0/1, an outside Ultra I sponsored into the Lair, has a bullet blend from me, can rapidly increase the size and mass of objects

 

Joker — 0/2/0, a woman who can change what other people/herself look like

 

 

Ultra Enemies:

 

Masher- Enemy, and fellow protégé of Subtracter, 3*/0/3*, trades off strength and durability as she moves or stays still

 

Picker – First Fist protégé, 0/1/0, ‘selects the outcome of things’

 

Ultra Acquaintances:

 

Tracker – Running buddy, 1/0/1, Creates tracks, and can move things on them

 

Shower – Adder’s protégé, 1*/0/1*, gains strength and durability from witnesses

 

Echoer – Singer I am a fan of, 1/1/1, can duplicate any action that she sees

 

Bubbler – Operates Ultra clinic 0/0/?, traps things in bubbles that heal and move them

 

Sucker — Ultra entertainer, ?/?/?, pulls objects/people towards her at incredible rate

 

Gunner — 0/0/1, she shoots tracking Ultra Blasts at roughly Ultra Strength One

 

Chiller — 1/0/1, can freeze any object she touches, leaving them brittle and easily broken

 

Cutter — 1/1/1, she is a brutal front line combatant

 

Smasher — 3/0/1, a woman who is billed as the strongest Ultra fighter of all time

 

Swimmer — 1/0/1, she can ‘swim’ through solid surfaces

 

Burner — 0/0/1, she can summon Ultra fire from anywhere that she can see

 

Maxxer — 0/0/0, she can augment the gifts of other Ultras, pushing their gifts

 

Puncher — 1/0/1, her strength and speed both go up when she repeats her movements

 

Replayer — 1/2/0, she can ‘step back in time’ to undo damage that she takes

 

 

Faction Rankings:

 

Regime 7

 

KEM 8

 

Pantheon 2

 

Union 4

 

Resistance 9

 

Prevailer 3

 

Knights 3

 

 

Actions:

[ ] Invite Owner into Posse (Timeslot cost: 0, AP Cost 0, auto success)

 

Motive: Owner has more or less volunteered to join me, no more work is needed to get her onboard.  I already trust her to watch me while I sleep, and her gift and Builders have some intriguing synergies.  She can feed Builder, she can probably get a company car or even helicopter to fix my transport problems.  There’s a lot to like about the idea.

 

Concerns: She would be a second member of my posse with no particular combat gifts.  Ultra toughness one doesn’t particularly terrify the world.  She will also probably do me any particular favor I need without having to be part of my Posse, I might want to save my slots for people who aren’t already well disposed to me.

 

[ ] Contact Knights (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success)

 

Motive: My recent actions have opened up the possibility of collaboration with the Knights of Purity. Their assistance could be valuable, insofar as they don’t count towards the Regime’s ridiculous rule against outnumbering our enemies, and I might be able to acquire some of their blessed equipment if I play my cards right.

 

Concerns: I don’t know if I really want to be associating with such a group. KEM wouldn’t mind, but the Resistance would pull away from me, and I might end up coming into contact with Second Fist or their sponsored Ultras. It is likely that anything they might want from me would be rather evil.

 

 

[ ] Seek Transportation

 

-[ ] Scavenge (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

 

Motive: My current transportation sufficed for me in my troubleshooter role, but I will likely require a larger vehicle, or several vehicles, in order to bring everyone to Ar Harbor. I can seek to find something in the suburbs and surrounding towns.

 

Concerns: Leaving Shington could be dangerous, and I am far from guaranteed to find a bus or truck suitable to my needs, as the area has already been heavily scavenged.

 

-[ ] Trade with existing owners (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: As above, but instead of fixing up ruined vehicles I’ll negotiate to get them from their current owners.

 

Concerns: Snitcher may disapprove of a warlord being civil

 

-[ ] Seize by force (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

 

Motive: As above, but instead of asking my contacts for vehicles I’ll just take what I want. My role as warlord and my Tally should minimize resistance

 

Concerns: People like their vehicles, and won’t like the one who takes them. I will make enemies.

 

-[ ] Seek Transportation [Adder + Company] (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: As above, but Adder can use his gift to make something for my purposes, and the Company can duplicate it and make it permanent.

 

Concerns: Adder and I are not close, he may decline to aid me, owing to his rivalry with my sponsor, Subtracter.

 

 

[ ] Seek Target Information

 

-[ ] Company (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: The Company logs every Ultra they create. Their Ar Harbor records would be useful information

 

Concerns: Ultras migrate and conceal their gifts, this information would be incomplete

 

-[ ] Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: Subtracter is the military leader of the Regime, she will have information on this target

 

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and violent, I don’t like to be around her

 

-[ ] Survivors (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: There have been 2 other attempts at Ar Harbor. I can seek out and question survivors in the outer city.

 

Concerns: I may be unable to find any survivors, and I may be misled by liars.

 

 

[ ] Seek Posse Members

 

-[ ] wander & gossip, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 1-6 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping, opening up in depth investigation options on them and adding them to my list of acquaintances.

 

Concerns: None

 

-[ ] At Ultra Fights, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

 

Constraint: Only available in the afternoon or night on days divisible by 4 (day 4, 8, etc)

 

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 3-12 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping at this kind of event.

 

Concerns: Ultras associated with the Fights are more likely than most to be melee combatants.

 

 

[ ] Seek Warband Members

 

-[ ] At the Yard, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: The Lair is surrounded by hundreds of Regime Ultras. The strongest come to the Yard to show their power and appeal to those like me, who would give them purpose. I should be able to gather between 5 and 20 Ultras of such caliber.

 

Concerns: I will need to provide housing and direction to these Ultras, or risk them wandering off. I can expect to spend at least an action a day on them, and training them might well eat up more. Ideally a Posse member will be tasked with this.

 

-[ ] [Gang name] From a Gang, (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 5, refunds 3 on success)

 

Motive: The Ultras that surround Shington are organized into Gangs dozens strong. If I can recruit such a force I might have my whole Warband right there.

 

Concerns: These Ultras likely already have patrons in the Lair, who I would need to negotiate with. Their leader would also likely want a place in my Posse, and she would be the primary locus of their loyalty until I’d had time to win them over.

 

 

[ ] Investigate Acquaintance:

 

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success, 2 if we become allies)

 

Motive: I can spend some serious one on one time with an Ultra I’ve chosen, evaluating the capability of their gift, the alignment of their values with mine, and their basic ccompetence. If all checks out, I might move them into my Ultra Allies column.

 

Concerns: None

 

 

[ ] Invite Ally into Posse:

 

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 3 on success)

 

Motive: If I want to bring an ally into my posse, get them to take actions on my behalf and rise or fall with me, this is the way to do it. I will only take this action on those I’ve already made allies, and once this has been taken it is difficult to undo.

 

Concerns: Posse members are most of the way into my circle of trust, and will operate on my behalf, representing me to stranger. A mistake here would be dangerous and damaging. I should be careful before taking this step, potentially investigating a prospect several times.

 

 

[ ] Seek Information on Snitcher’s patterns

 

-[ ] Passive listening (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: Snitcher can ride my senses at any moment, and bring Her along. If I am ever to contact my KEM allies, my resistance allies, or show any kindness or weakness whatsoever, I need to understand when this is likely to take place. Gossip can hint at this, particularly if I carefully steer conversations. This action would be mostly undetectable, even if he was riding me when I took it.

 

Concerns: None

 

-[ ] Active interrogation of Snitches (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 2 on success)

 

Motive: As above, but rather than listen for random gossip I will seek out other linked individuals and directly ask them how often he rides their senses, and what actions he has reacted to in the past.

 

Concerns: More likely Snitcher notices this, unknown consequences of that.

 

-[ ] Confront Snitcher Directly (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

 

Motive: As above, but take the simplest possible route. Go to Snitcher and ask him for the deal.

 

Concerns: I am sponsored by Subtracter, not Snitcher, he may not wish to aid me. He may demand favors or other services in exchange for the information.

 

 

[ ] Seek Information on Regime military operations

 

-[ ] Ask Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: My life depends on doing this right. I need to get a basic understanding of what She is expecting from my attack on Ar Harbor. Do I need to seize the Company Facility? Kill all the enemies? Are there any constraints on how I go about it? Subtracter is the leader of the Regime’s military, and my sponsor, she will know these answers.

 

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and brutal, and she killed my neighbors, I hate spending time with her.

 

-[ ] Ask Around (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: As above, but ask survivors of previous missions instead of my evil boss.

 

Concerns: My predecessors may not have told them everything, their views of their missions may omit certain command level details that I need to worry about.

 

 

[ ] Relax and Recuperate

 

-[ ] By visiting Blisser (Timeslot cost: X (slots spent until AP reaches max), AP cost 0, returns 3 per time period. DANGER, this action may cause addiction)

 

-[ ]By lounging around, (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 0, refunds 1 on success)

 

Motive: I could do with some rest.

 

Concerns: None

 

-[ ]By patronizing entertainment areas (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 3 on success)

 

Motive: I could do with some rest, and I might learn some things by socializing

 

Concerns: None

 

-[ ]By using my gift to repair the city (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, refunds 5 on success)

 

Motive: It needs to be done.

 

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

 

-[ ]By using my gift to heal people (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 5 on success)

 

Motive: This is why I have my gift.

 

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

 

 

[ ] Organize Armory [Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 2 on success)

 

Motive: I carry, in my backpack and on my person, various items to blend with if the need arises. I am overdue to look through my setup and take an inventory, once that is done I could seek out new objects if I am missing anything useful.

 

Concerns: None

 

 

[ ] Seek new residence [ Timeslot cost: 3, returns 1 if successful ]

 

Motive: I could get a lot more done if I got a full night’s sleep

 

Concerns: Owner and I have guarded one another’s rest for a long time. I wouldn’t necessarily be able to trust a new person to the same extent.

 

[ ] Action: Other (Timeslot cost: x, returns x if successful)

 

KEM Actions:

[ ] Assign Assassination mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 3, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

 

Description: KEM are the only humans who fight back on a consistent, day to day basis.  We’ve come up together, they and I, and pointing them at my foes is only common sense.  If I give them a target, then I trust them to make a good faith effort to put that Ultra down.  Their odds of success, of course, vary wildly depending on how much info I can provide, and the gifts of the Ultra in question.

 

 

Resistance Actions:

[ ] Assign Information Gathering Mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

 

Description: The humans are the ocean in which the Ultras swim, the saying goes.  The Resistance’s capacity to gather information about Ultras is unsurpassed.  If I give them a target, then they will give me every bit of public information on the target, and often times a little bit more.  Ultras are people, after all.  I believe this with all my heart.  And people trust other people, even those that they ultimately shouldn’t.  I can assign as many targets as I wish, but the more I assign the less details I will probably get, and the longer it might take.

 

[ ] Debrief Information Gathering Mission [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 0, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]

 

Description: The information that the Resistance gathers is worthless if I never regain it.  Using protocols I’ve worked out ahead of time, and my recent discovery of Snitcher’s habits, it should be possible for me to take the Resistance’s reports with minimal risk.  I expect I should give them a day or two for local targets, and possibly as much as four for targets in Ar Harbor or further afield.

 

 

 

Builder Actions:

[ ] Repair Structure [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Builder can repair most any structure any structure in just a few hours, spreading broken portions back into place and generating new matter as needed.

 

[ ] Construct Known Structure [ Timeslot cost 1]

 

Description: Builder can construct any easily described structure with the same ease that she repairs them.  Her present education limits this to extremely primitive structures, but that might well be changeable.

 

[ ] Construct Known Items [Timeslot cost 1]

 

Description: Builder’s gits aren’t limited to buildings.  If she can get a perfect understanding of an objects, and samples for every component, then she can form any items that I might desire.  The easiest way to accomplish this, of course, would be to provide her with a sample.

 

[ ] Memorize Patterns [ Timeslot cost 1]

 

Description: Builder’s gifts are heavily limited by her imperfect education.  The more patterns I can get her to learn, the more she can construct from any given material.  If I provide her with patterns or specimens I’m pretty sure she can memorize them and add them to her arsenal.

Very Very Sorry

This was going to be the week that I got back to weekly story updates, instead of the biweekly stuff we’ve been having for a while.  I had everything ready.

Then I got a kidney stone.

Next week, however, I will move earth and heaven to get the story update out, and from then on out we are going back to every Wednesday updates.

I want to thank everyone who stuck with me through this content drought.  I’ve been going through a lot, but I really appreciate my readers.  Your feedback is what keeps me writing.  Thanks so much!

Regime Quest 14

Results from Previous round votes:

Three Votes

Plan TalonofAnathrax, on SV forum

One Vote

Plan CCC on my blog

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

Winning Plan:

[X] Assuage Builder’s fear of firearms (Timeslot cost: varies by attempt; AP cost 1, refunds 3 on success, adds Builder to Posse)

-[X] Use a Blend (we have Bulletproofness,Q).

[X] Confront Picker (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, returns variable on result)

-[X] During the night, warp the building she’s in to make it difficult to enter/leave and navigate. Then toss in a few burning torches/molotov cocktails. Turn the building into a (nonfunctional) blender, if possible -> gotta sign it if we want the rep !

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

Day 11  Log:

5 AP at start of day

+1 for 6 hour sleep, (6 AP)

-1 for [Morning] Assuage Builder’s worries (5 AP)

Auto Succeed due to Blend use

+3 for Success (8 AP)

-2 for [Evening] Burn down Picker’s House (6 AP)

Initial Roll 7 Success

Secondary roll 9 Success

+2 for Success (8 AP)

End of day, (8 AP).

Note, due to night activity Blender will not regain an AP tonight

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

Give Bulletproof Blend to Builder

“Just shake your hand?” she asked.

“Yep,” I told her.

Builder looked skeptical.

“I know I’m not the brightest,” she said.  “But I think that if handshakes made bullets not work someone would have told me about it.”

I chuckled a bit at that.

“It’ll work,” I told her.

She looked dubious, but stretched out her hand to me.

I took it in both of mine, simultaneously reaching out to the scrap of law enforcement material that I kept always against my skin.  I took its ‘Bulletproof’ quality.

It was a strange feeling, very different from my ordinary Ultra Toughness.  That doesn’t really feel like anything specific, it just kind of mutes the world’s impact.  Being ‘bulletproof’, on the other hand, had a very distinct sensation.

In particular, it made me feel sort of stiff all over.  Or not stiff, exactly, maybe ‘coiled’ would be a better word?  Whatever it was that you felt right before you stretched a limb would probably be the best way to characterize it.

I didn’t have long to experience it.  As soon as I had the quality held in my gift I was already reaching out to Builder’s traits.

She was ‘cheerful’ and ‘living’.  I’d have honestly expected ‘hungry’ to be in there.

I pushed ‘bulletproof’ down the channel, easily blending it with her existing attributes.  With no Ultra Toughness to overcome it was over in an instant.

She pulled her hand out of mine with a yelp, then put her hand in front of her face with a strange expression.

“Woah,” she said, opening it and closing it again.

“You don’t have to worry about bullets anymore,” I told her.

She turned her wrist around, looking now at her palm.

“Woah,” she said again.  “What’s the, what did, hmm…”

She trailed off.

“Nothing much,” I told her.  “And I’d appreciate it if you kept this private.  I’ve shielded you from bullets, and I’ll keep doing so as long as you work for me.”

There was no reason to tell Builder that this was permanent.  I didn’t want people to know about this application of my gift at all, but if it had to slip out I’d like the info to be as incorrect as possible.

“Are you for real?” she asked.  “You can do that?”

“Why do you think they made me warlord?” I countered.  “She trusts me for a reason.”

She smiled, then reached up with a gasp to touch her cheeks.

“A bit stiff?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said, “It’s everywhere.  Am I Ultra Tough now?”

I shook my head.

“Just bulletproof,” I told her.  “I don’t think it would protect you against anything else at all.”

“Well you won’t catch me complaining,” she said.

“Then welcome to my Posse,” I told her.  “Together we will do great and terrible things.”

***********************************************************”**************************

Confront Picker

Builder was already proving useful.  She’d agreed to watch over Owner on my behalf, and Owner had been delighted to meet the woman who’d consumed so many of her products.

I’d figured out what was up with that, to my own relief.  Builder had an allergy to the protein paste that the rest of us subsisted on.  She relied almost entirely on scavenged food from the old world, trading on her gift to acquire it.

I hadn’t been terribly surprised that she’d hit it off with Owner, and I’d left them in the Packer house to chat the night away.

It had been a while since I’d been out this late at night.  The streets of the Lair were dark and comparatively empty, aside from the occasional Knight patrol I saw no one else as I slipped carefully from street to street.

All of my old reflexes came back to me as I progressed.  I found myself moving as I had when I was hungry, when I was on the outside, and a hundred night raids like this had kept me alive.

I took my time.  I crept from doorway to doorway, from rubble to rubble, scanning carefully in all directions before making each move.

That was one thing that stuck with you, if you’d ever done anything like this before.  The night is LONG.  There is always time to be careful.  Better to tarry for an hour on the trip than to alert your target.

Picker was staying in a refurbished house, roughly the same kind of dwelling as the Packer house.  I hadn’t been able to find records of any other Ultras living with her, nor of any human servants.  As far as anyone else knew, she lived alone.

She didn’t have any security out.  No dogs or watchmen.  Nothing to warn her or defend her.  It was like she wanted to be assassinated.

The thought sent me into a quick paranoid spiral, and I spent what must have been a half hour carefully looking around, but there didn’t seem to be any ambushers lying in wait.

That made sense, to be honest.  If her plan had been to provoke me into walking into an ambush then she’d probably already given up on it.  I had let this slip for long enough that almost anyone would have assumed that I wasn’t going to take action.

The more fool them, if they’d thought so.

I reached a hand out to the building as I came up upon it.  It was simple, solid.  Old world construction without too many modern patches.

Its attributes were simple as well.  It was ‘stable’, ‘livable’, and ‘austere’.

I took the ‘stable’ away, waited a moment.

Being ‘stable’ was a strange experience.  It lent me a sort of ‘weight’, or solidity, like no matter what position I was in I was sunk deep into a comfortable chair.  I felt like I could stand on my fingers for days.

I reached out a finger and poked the building, and it fell over onto its side.

The noise was incredible, the dust cloud and the force that followed slammed into me, windows shattered for blocks around.

The building had gone over like a block, like a toy tipped on one side.  It had torn up out of its basement and slammed down in the road, with an impact like the landing of a bomb.  My ears were ringing even through my Ultra toughness.  If I hadn’t been ‘stable’, I would have been sent flying.

I coughed nearly choking, waving my hands around in front of my face as I waited for the cloud of dust and dirt to subside.

I was utterly covered, filthy with dirt and grime.  I glared into the darkness, blinking watering eyes again and again.

For an impossible instant the house was laying perfectly on its side, tipped 90 degrees and sent crashing down.

Houses, to understate the case, were not built to support themselves like that.

I had the presence of mind to turn my face away, as reality caught up to Picker’s dwelling and it collapsed down into a more general state of ruin.

The walls, now turned floor and ceiling, fell in upon one another.  The floors, now pitched vertically towards the sky, toppled and twisted against one another.  The whole thing went from ‘building on its side’, to ‘indistinguishable lump of ruin in the middle of the road’.

I crouched down, ‘stable’ and waiting for things to settle down.

I hadn’t been quite far enough away.  A few stones battered against my shin and shoulder, thrown aside by the violence of the building’s collapse.

Picker didn’t have Ultra Toughness.

I got up after a minute or so, started to make my way over to the rubble that had once been a house, listening for screams, alert for a possible counterattack.

I had little worry that anyone else would come.  The Regime’s capital wasn’t the sort of place where anyone would rush towards what they must think was a bomb blast.

I picked my way through the rubble, coughing now and then from the ever present haze.  My eyes were stinging a bit, and I kept them lidded.

There is a kind of stench that bodies have, once they are opened up.  Soldiers knew it, back in the old world.  Nowadays most of the people who would recognize it were Ultras.

I smelled it now, and hastened towards the source, a faint moaning helping me to close in.

I found Picker crushed in the ruins of what must have been a kitchen.

She was a huddled shape in the dark, only half of her face had fallen into a shaft of moonlight.

I said nothing as I moved closer.

She coughed weakly, raising a blood covered hand up into the moonlight to shade her vision, squinting through the dust and the poor lighting to try and make me out.

I was struck once again by how young she was.  Her gift let her ‘pick outcomes’, right?  It seemed as though she hadn’t use it tonight.

My own hand snaked out, caught ahold of hers.  I knew Picker’s gifts.  She had nothing that could threaten with bodily contact, and I was not about to spend another few days trying to get rid of a Blend.

I forced ‘stable’ down into her being, glorying in my return to full mobility.

“Wha-“ she said, her voice breaking and cracking, the one eye that I could see filled with tears.

“Every Monster,” I whispered, rising up and releasing her hand.

She got her arm in the way of the first stomp.  But not of those which followed.

 

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

Day 12:

Days remaining: 19

AP available: (8 end of last day + 0 for very little sleep) = 8/10

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2 (morning, afternoon)

Builder Timeslot Available: 1 (afternoon) (Note, Builder can take any of Blender’s actions that you are comfortable with trusting to her, and will also have a few of her own, which will become available as Blender gets comfortable with her understanding of Builder’s gift)

Posse: 1 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 0

Condition: Healthy

Posse:

Builder —  0/0/0, a woman who can alter objects for miles around into other things, blessed with a ‘Bulletproof’ blend

 

(Ultra format: Role, Ultra Strength/Speed/Toughness, other gift description)

Ultra Allies:

Maker- Friend, and protégé of Snitcher, 0/0/1, can summon the spirit of things

Clawer – Ultra fighter 2/0/1, melee combatant, deadly hooks for hands

Stopper – partner of Clawer, 0/0/0, steals form’s velocity by looking at them

Sticker – Did dentistry for her brother, 0/0/2, Creates slime, can choose its stickiness

Grower –  0/*0/1, an outside Ultra I sponsored into the Lair, has a bullet blend from me, can rapidly increase the size and mass of objects

 

Ultra Enemies:

Masher- Enemy, and fellow protégé of Subtracter, 3*/0/3*, trades off strength and durability as she moves or stays still

Ultra Acquaintances:

Owner – housemate, 0/0/1 operates an imaginary firm, with real effects on the world,

Picker – First Fist protégé, 0/1/0, ‘selects the outcome of things’

Tracker – Running buddy, 1/0/1, Creates tracks, and can move things on them

Shower – Adder’s protégé, 1*/0/1*, gains strength and durability from witnesses

Echoer – Singer I am a fan of, 1/1/1, can duplicate any action that she sees

Bubbler – Operates Ultra clinic 0/0/?, traps things in bubbles that heal and move them

Sucker — Ultra entertainer, ?/?/?, pulls objects/people towards her at incredible rate

Gunner — 0/0/1, she shoots tracking Ultra Blasts at roughly Ultra Strength One

Chiller —  1/0/1, can freeze any object she touches, leaving them brittle and easily broken

Cutter —  1/1/1, she is a brutal front line combatant

Joker —  0/2/0, a woman who can change what other people/herself look like

Smasher —  3/0/1, a woman who is billed as the strongest Ultra fighter of all time

Swimmer —  1/0/1, she can ‘swim’ through solid surfaces

Burner —  0/0/1, she can summon Ultra fire from anywhere that she can see

Maxxer —  0/0/0, she can augment the gifts of other Ultras, pushing their gifts

Puncher —  1/0/1, her strength and speed both go up when she repeats her movements

Replayer —  1/2/0, she can ‘step back in time’ to undo damage that she takes

 

Faction Rankings:

Regime 7

KEM 8

Pantheon 2

Union 4

Resistance 9

Prevailer 3

Knights 3

 

Actions:   

[ ] Contact Knights (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success)

Motive: My recent actions have opened up the possibility of collaboration with the Knights of Purity.  Their assistance could be valuable, insofar as they don’t count towards the Regime’s ridiculous rule against outnumbering our enemies, and I might be able to acquire some of their blessed equipment if I play my cards right.

Concerns: I don’t know if I really want to be associating with such a group.  KEM wouldn’t mind, but the Resistance would pull away from me, and I might end up coming into contact with Second Fist or their sponsored Ultras.  It is likely that anything they might want from me would be rather evil.

 

[ ] Seek Transportation

-[ ] Scavenge (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: My current transportation sufficed for me in my troubleshooter role, but I will likely require a larger vehicle, or several vehicles, in order to bring everyone to Ar Harbor. I can seek to find something in the suburbs and surrounding towns.

Concerns: Leaving Shington could be dangerous, and I am far from guaranteed to find a bus or truck suitable to my needs, as the area has already been heavily scavenged.

-[ ] Trade with existing owners (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but instead of fixing up ruined vehicles I’ll negotiate to get them from their current owners.

Concerns: Snitcher may disapprove of a warlord being civil

-[ ] Seize by force (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: As above, but instead of asking my contacts for vehicles I’ll just take what I want. My role as warlord and my Tally should minimize resistance

Concerns: People like their vehicles, and won’t like the one who takes them. I will make enemies.

-[ ] Seek Transportation [Adder + Company] (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but Adder can use his gift to make something for my purposes, and the Company can duplicate it and make it permanent.

Concerns: Adder and I are not close, he may decline to aid me, owing to his rivalry with my sponsor, Subtracter.

 

[ ] Seek Target Information

-[ ] Company (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: The Company logs every Ultra they create. Their Ar Harbor records would be useful information

Concerns: Ultras migrate and conceal their gifts, this information would be incomplete

-[ ] Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: Subtracter is the military leader of the Regime, she will have information on this target

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and violent, I don’t like to be around her

-[ ] Survivors (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: There have been 2 other attempts at Ar Harbor. I can seek out and question survivors in the outer city.

Concerns: I may be unable to find any survivors, and I may be misled by liars.

 

[ ] Seek Posse Members

-[ ] wander & gossip, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 1-6 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping, opening up in depth investigation options on them and adding them to my list of acquaintances.

Concerns: None

-[ ] At Ultra Fights, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Constraint: Only available in the afternoon or night on days divisible by 4 (day 4, 8, etc)

Motive: There are dozens of powerful Ultras in the Lair. I know only the barest fraction of them. I can learn the basics on 3-12 of them in a few hours of socializing and gossiping at this kind of event.

Concerns: Ultras associated with the Fights are more likely than most to be melee combatants.

 

[ ] Seek Warband Members

-[ ] At the Yard, (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: The Lair is surrounded by hundreds of Regime Ultras.  The strongest come to the Yard to show their power and appeal to those like me, who would give them purpose.  I should be able to gather between 5 and 20 Ultras of such caliber.

Concerns: I will need to provide housing and direction to these Ultras, or risk them wandering off.  I can expect to spend at least an action a day on them, and training them might well eat up more.  Ideally a Posse member will be tasked with this.

-[ ] [Gang name] From a Gang, (Timeslot cost: 2; AP cost 5, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: The Ultras that surround Shington are organized into Gangs dozens strong.  If I can recruit such a force I might have my whole Warband right there.

Concerns: These Ultras likely already have patrons in the Lair, who I would need to negotiate with.  Their leader would also likely want a place in my Posse, and she would be the primary locus of their loyalty until I’d had time to win them over.

 

[ ] Investigate Acquaintance:

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success, 2 if we become allies)

Motive: I can spend some serious one on one time with an Ultra I’ve chosen, evaluating the capability of their gift, the alignment of their values with mine, and their basic ccompetence. If all checks out, I might move them into my Ultra Allies column.

Concerns: None

 

[ ] Invite Ally into Posse:

-[ ] [Name], (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: If I want to bring an ally into my posse, get them to take actions on my behalf and rise or fall with me, this is the way to do it. I will only take this action on those I’ve already made allies, and once this has been taken it is difficult to undo.

Concerns: Posse members are most of the way into my circle of trust, and will operate on my behalf, representing me to stranger. A mistake here would be dangerous and damaging. I should be careful before taking this step, potentially investigating a prospect several times.

 

[ ] Seek Information on Snitcher’s patterns

-[ ] Passive listening (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 1, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: Snitcher can ride my senses at any moment, and bring Her along. If I am ever to contact my KEM allies, my resistance allies, or show any kindness or weakness whatsoever, I need to understand when this is likely to take place. Gossip can hint at this, particularly if I carefully steer conversations. This action would be mostly undetectable, even if he was riding me when I took it.

Concerns: None

-[ ] Active interrogation of Snitches (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 2 on success)

Motive: As above, but rather than listen for random gossip I will seek out other linked individuals and directly ask them how often he rides their senses, and what actions he has reacted to in the past.

Concerns: More likely Snitcher notices this, unknown consequences of that.

-[ ] Confront Snitcher Directly (Timeslot cost:1; AP cost 4, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: As above, but take the simplest possible route. Go to Snitcher and ask him for the deal.

Concerns: I am sponsored by Subtracter, not Snitcher, he may not wish to aid me. He may demand favors or other services in exchange for the information.

 

[ ] Seek Information on Regime military operations

-[ ] Ask Subtracter (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: My life depends on doing this right. I need to get a basic understanding of what She is expecting from my attack on Ar Harbor. Do I need to seize the Company Facility? Kill all the enemies? Are there any constraints on how I go about it? Subtracter is the leader of the Regime’s military, and my sponsor, she will know these answers.

Concerns: Subtracter is stupid and brutal, and she killed my neighbors, I hate spending time with her.

-[ ] Ask Around (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: As above, but ask survivors of previous missions instead of my evil boss.

Concerns: My predecessors may not have told them everything, their views of their missions may omit certain command level details that I need to worry about.

 

[ ] Relax and Recuperate

-[ ] By visiting Blisser (Timeslot cost: X (slots spent until AP reaches max), AP cost 0, returns 3 per time period.  DANGER, this action may cause addiction)

-[ ]By lounging around, (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 0, refunds 1 on success)

Motive: I could do with some rest.

Concerns: None

-[ ]By patronizing entertainment ares (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 3 on success)

Motive: I could do with some rest, and I might learn some things by socializing

Concerns: None

-[ ]By using my gift to repair the city (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, refunds 5 on success)

Motive: It needs to be done.

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

-[ ]By using my gift to heal people (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 5 on success)

Motive: This is why I have my gift.

Concerns: This is not becoming behavior of a warlord, Snitcher may take notice, and people may talk

 

[ ] Organize Armory [Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 2 on success)

Motive: I carry, in my backpack and on my person, various items to blend with if the need arises. I am overdue to look through my setup and take an inventory, once that is done I could seek out new objects if I am missing anything useful.

Concerns: None

 

[ ] Seek new residence [ Timeslot cost: 3, returns 1 if successful ]

Motive: I could get a lot more done if I got a full night’s sleep

Concerns: Owner and I have guarded one another’s rest for a long time. I wouldn’t necessarily be able to trust a new person to the same extent.

 

KEM Actions: (Sealed until I figure out how to deal with Snitcher’s surveillance, or resolve to defy him)

Resistance Actions: (Sealed until I figure out how to deal with Snitcher’s surveillance, or resolve to defy him)

Builder Actions: Sealed until Tomorrow

 

[ ] Action: Other (Timeslot cost: x, returns x if successful)

Motive [Write in]

Concerns: [Write in]