First Conversation, after disembarking
Participants: A.N.D.I. , Jane (Haunter) Trent, Dale (Indulger) Pitts, Rebeccah (Preventer), Roberts, Anomaly (Condemner), ? (Fisher)
Rebeccah: Andy, I’m so glad to see you made it!
Dale (simultaneous with above): Andy, you are ok!
Jane: Give her some room, let her breathe.
A.N.D.I. : I’m ok, I’m ok. Don’t worry about me, I didn’t get hurt in all that.
Anomaly: Wow, it is so great to see you again! We were so worried about you.
Jane: How did you end up here? No, sorry, I need to clarify. How did you gain the Union’s trust? Why do they let you fly their skiffs?
Dale: We lost track of you after Redo. We thought that you had gotten lost or captured or something.
A.N.D.I. : Yes, that’s what happened. I was seized by the Pantheon for transport, then executed by Prevailer.
Dale: Oh Shit!
? (simultaneous with above): What? Why?
A.N.D.I. : She does not approve of my existence, and the fact that my previous execution did not take.
Jane: So she tried to make sure this time, eh? I’m surprised her Ultra Strength didn’t ensure that you couldn’t come back, regardless of the means. I’d think the world would back it up the same way that it does for Preventer’s invulnerability.
A.N.D.I. : She used a gun, rather than her gift.
Dale: I’m just glad to see you are ok. We were worried that you might be being treated badly.
A.N.D.I. : The Union recognized the value of my gift, and permitted me to assist them in the tempering of their forces. I believe that they are expecting to renew our partnership after this event comes to its conclusion.
?: Its conclusion? That doesn’t sound very good.
A.N.D.I. : They will kill the Grand Host in the morning, then scour any enemy assets from the active war zone. It would behoove you to be elsewhere when that comes to pass.
Jane: Not an option, I’m afraid. There are some healers back in the Pantheon’s central fort, or perhaps with their Host, that I need the services of.
A.N.D.I. : Are you injured?
Jane: No, and yes.
A.N.D.I. : I don’t understand.
Anomaly: Don’t worry about it.
Dale: She is sad, but physically ok, and, maybe, also, like somewhat unsure?
A.N.D.I. : I won’t worry about it.
Jane: As fun as this is, would be willing to cut this conversation short in order to pick back up where we left off in Redo?
A.N.D.I. : Of course.
Second Conversation: Hour after dawn
Participants: A.N.D.I. , Jane (Haunter) Trent, a shade
A.N.D.I. : I really think you ought to wait on this. From my understanding of your goals, there is little to lose, and much to gain, from holding back on this process until you observe the battle between the Union and Pantheon forces.
Jane: No. We do it now.
A.N.D.I. : If the Ultras you have described, those Pantheon assets with the healing gifts you hope will embody your shades, perish in this conflict, you will have tuned your gift in a substandard fashion, and I will not be able to fully restore it.
Jane: Why not? I mean, I’m not going to wait around all day, but I don’t see why you couldn’t restore a gift.
A.N.D.I. : There is some spoilage, when a gift is altered. The new gift is more focused, but in an overall sense less potent. If someone changed their gift from one to another, they might be better off, but changing and then reversing will give you a strictly inferior gift to the one you started out with.
Jane: I see. I guess that makes sense.
Anonymous Shade 1: That’s not the only thing Andy is saying that makes sense. We should wait until the battle is over. It doesn’t cost us anything to wait until we know what is going on!
Jane: It costs us time. The last time we had this access, I squandered our time, I called a vote, I hemmed and hawed. I won’t make that mistake a second time.
Anonymous Shade 1: The circumstances aren’t the same, and, also, are you sure it was a mistake?
Jane: What do you mean? If my gift had been altered when we infiltrated the central fortress I could’ve freed you all!
Anonymous Shade 1: If you’d had a different gift, then don’t you think the outcome of our endeavors to this point would have been affected? Who says we even end up in the central fort?
A.N.D.I. : You’ve asked me to strengthen your capacity to manifest your charges, allowing them to operate independently of you. In exchange you will lose the ability to wear more than one at a time. This will render you far less combat capable.
Jane: Will it? I can’t recall the last time that stacking up people’s strengths within my body helped me out. It is just a way to get more people killed at once.
A.N.D.I. : Beyond that, these permanently manifested shades will not gain any extra durability. They will still be popped or destroyed by the slightest impact.
Jane: Unless they enter a body, correct? Unless they merge with someone else, the way my gift lets them merge with me?
A.N.D.I. : Yes, but they will have no capability to overwhelm or control the owner of a body. I couldn’t stretch your gift to allow your charges to possess people, that’s just not how it is set up.
Anonymous Shade 1: She intends us to enter constructed forms, bodies created without souls.
Jane: So long as the healers survive, there shouldn’t be any objection. The forms will seem monstrous, and so the Pantheon will view them as military assets. That crew has no respect for, no real comprehension of, the idea that a gift could hold genuine souls. Everyone always acts like my shades are just projections of my own will. We’ll finally use that to our advantage.
Anonymous Shade 1: It is about damn time, I guess.
A.N.D.I. : Excuse me, what is your name?
Anonymous Shade 1: Me? I’m Joey.
A.N.D.I. : Thank you, it was awkward not knowing that while we spoke about how foolish those who underestimated your agency were.
Joey: I appreciate it.
Jane: Alright, lets get on with this.
Third Conversation: After the tuning of Jane’s gift, midmorning.
Participants: A.N.D.I. , Anomaly (Condemner)
A.N.D.I. : Hello, do you also want your gift tuned? The battle is likely to commence soon, but there may well be time for one more-
Anomaly (interrupting): Won’t the Link just set it back to normal anyway?
A.N.D.I. : No, not even if you were still Linked.
Anomaly: What? Why would you say that?
A.N.D.I. : Observing your movements, you lack the characteristic knowledge of one another’s whereabouts. You have lost your Link.
Anomaly: Bullshit. That’s, why wouldn’t everyone notice that, if it was true, anyway?
A.N.D.I. : People disregard the majority of their sensory input. If no one was searching for evidence that your Link was gone, they would be unlikely to notice.
Anomaly: But you noticed, right? Or you think you did, notice something? Because you are not a person, you are better than us?
A.N.D.I. : My attention is structured in a different manner. It has its pluses and its minuses by comparison to the ordinary way.
Anomaly: Bullshit! You aren’t any better than me!
A.N.D.I. : Yes, because you aren’t a person either, right?
Anomaly: Do you just say things you think will shock people all the time? Doesn’t that get old?
A.N.D.I. : I have intimately examined several hundred Ultrahumans, and I’ve seen how their behavior and gifts alter as my gift shapes their connections. I am likely the world’s foremost expert on the subject. Did you think I couldn’t tell?
Anomaly: Tell what?
A.N.D.I. : That you have, in the time between this encounter and our last, been altered profoundly. If people are hand puppets, manipulated by unseen souls, then you are a glove, moved nakedly and without subtlety among us.
Fourth Conversation: Afternoon, as it became obvious that the Pantheon would triumph in their engagement with the Union.
Participants: A.N.D.I. , Jane (Haunter) Trent, Dale (Indulger) Pitts, Rebeccah (Preventer), Roberts, Anomaly (Condemner), ? (Fisher)
Rebeccah: Can this be fake?
Jane: Not easily, this vessel is tapped into the Union’s battle net. If what we are witnessing isn’t actually happening, then someone is spoofing a LOT of sensor readouts.
A.N.D.I. : It doesn’t seem reasonable for anyone to bother, as no one knows my current status, except perhaps Fifth Fist? From what you’ve told me they intend my capture.
?: This doesn’t bring them any closer to that outcome, though. Also, I don’t see how they’d go about hacking into Union computers. Maybe they can foresee passwords and the like, but still…
Jane: This isn’t faked. This is really happening. The Pantheon have finally won, they broke the Intervention Groups.
A.N.D.I. : Their triumph was due to the presence of these Ultras in white, the Brides of Zeus. I have tuned many of their number. I am unsurprised that they were victorious.
Dale: Zeus is here? Why was there a battle at all then?
Jane: He isn’t. He must have split up his super army, sent some on ahead to lead a first strike.
Dale: Zeus is like Her, right? If he was there then there wouldn’t have been a battle at all.
Jane: This changes everything. We don’t need an in with the Union anymore, we need an in with the Pantheon.
Rebeccah: I know who could provide us with that. Too bad we just burned her to death.
Anomaly: I feel attacked.
Dale: You had to do it, Nirav, it is just bad luck that now we could really use her as a sponsor or whatever. If she was here and willing she could get us into that army.
Jane: No point in regretting what we had to do. What we have to do now is reintegrate with that army. You saw those numbers, the Brides conscripted everyone in the fort. The healers must be there.
Anomaly: Or dead.
Dale: They aren’t.
Jane: Do you have proof of that? Or are you just trying to make me feel better?
Dale: Feel better.
Fifth Conversation: Shortly after Fourth Conversation
Participants: A.N.D.I. , ? (Fisher)
?: Andy, can I ask you something.
A.N.D.I. : You just did, so you can certainly repeat the action.
?: Would it be possible, if, you changed Haunter’s gift, right?
A.N.D.I. : Yes, I was able to tune it.
?: Could you do the same for me? Tune my gift so that I can help out with this?
A.N.D.I. : If you like. It is a service that I offer to all Ultrahumans.
?: I want to be able to change my Lure’s form, a lot faster. I want to be able to look like Zilla, so Dale can let Bull and the others out of that cave, and I can take us back into the army, posing as her.
A.N.D.I. : That should be possible. Your gift already allows the fabrication of the form with which I presently converse. I could strengthen that aspect of it, while weakening another. Perhaps your combat form’s abilities?
?: We’ll see. For now can you do the thing you did with Haunter in Redo, where you just examine my gift, figure out the options?
A.N.D.I. : Absolutely.
Sixth Conversation: After Fisher’s Examination
Participants: A.N.D.I. , Jane (Haunter) Trent, Stuart (Predicter) Purcell
Jane: Oh, wow, I am shocked beyond words that you didn’t really die. How could you possibly have survived?
A.N.D.I. : You are here to take me back to the Regime?
Stuart: Got it in one, barbie doll.
Jane: That’s not happening.
Stuart: Sure it is.
Jane: Your Fist is no match for ours.
Stuart: Yeah, that’s why I didn’t bring the rest of them. You kill me and Slicer, and we’ll just be back tomorrow. We’ll tell Her about your disobedience, and that’ll be it for you.
Jane: Not if…she couldn’t find us.
Stuart: I see the future, and she absolutely does, down that branch. You should be grateful that I don’t have any intention of steering us down it.
Jane: Andy doesn’t deserve what’s waiting for him.
A.N.D.I. : Don’t adjust your conduct based on my comfort. She has already sent me to Torturer, already executed me. I do not fear the repetition of those outcomes.
Stuart: Don’t get us wrong, you aren’t going to be tortured or killed. She needs you.
Jane: What? She’d never let him tune her gift!
Stuart: Not for her.
A.N.D.I. : I understand. She needs me to craft a replacement for Snitcher.
Stuart: And for Adder.
Jane: You can’t. Those two propped the Regime up for decades.
A.N.D.I. : I must.
Jane: You see what She is.
A.N.D.I. : All too clearly. Which is why I need to do this.
Stuart: The thing is, Haunter, what those two propped up wasn’t us. It was Her. Adder was a father figure, and his games ate up Her idle hours. Snitcher let Her get Her daily dose of humanity, without actually going out and racking up a body count.
Jane: I suppose you want me to believe that you aren’t still on Her side? That you are another not so secret rebel?
Stuart: I’m on my side, and my fist’s. You have no idea how many of the deaths my gift shows me come at Her hands, how many futures involve Her having a bad day and shattering the world. Our lives are preserved only by a careful and obsequious dance.
Jane: Adder’s philosophy.
A.N.D.I. : Philosophy is more abstract. This method of conduct is cold practicality. Mollifying Peggy Martin is the only way the world has survived to its present day.
Jane: Well, if you are willing, then we have no right to keep you here. Take him, but you won’t be taking Dale.
Stuart: That’s fine. Honestly, things work out better for me if he doesn’t come back with us. She…well, it will be better, I believe.
Stuart: Yes. We wouldn’t take Dale back if you tried to force us.
Jane: You could have cleared that up a lot earlier in our interactions.
Stuart: You know how it is, I have to say the things I do to keep myself on the good paths. Reassuring you made things more complicated with Zilla.
A.N.D.I. : I will be ready to depart with you, as soon as I finish my business with Fisher.
Jane: Fisher’s getting her gift tuned? I’m surprised she is pulling the trigger. Was Condemner involved?
A.N.D.I. : I don’t know, but she’s doing it for a rather daring plan.
Jane: Does it work?
A.N.D.I. : Pardon?
Jane: Not asking you.
Stuart: I have no idea.
Jane: What do you mean?
Stuart: We will never meet again, or at least, if we do, there is apparently nothing I can do in those meetings to get you to attack me.
Jane: Not ever, for the rest of your lives?
Stuart: How long do you think that will be? How long do you think we can keep this dance up, apocalypse always a step away?
Jane: Do you know something? Are you being serious right now? Is it Remover?
Stuart: If there’s anything that you’ve always put off, I’d suggest you get it taken care of.