Walter Note: Sorry for a short quest update after all this time. Things have been, to overuse a worn out excuse, very crazy. I’m about 3/4 through the next main story update, so it should drop fairly soon. Thank you so much for your patience.
“This is REGIME territory now!” I shouted.
No one moved, no one looked me in the eye, no one flinched.
Blessedly, the big mouth up the stairs didn’t answer either, he just let the shout echo.
“You belong to Her!” I continued. “You always did. Your children will. Everyone will. The world does.”
I took a step forward as I said this, walking between the first pair of kneeling humans, my doubled senses alert for the slightest hint of movement.
Nothing. They knelt and stared straight ahead.
“The Ultras who lead you belong to Her as well!” I told them, as I continued. “They exist to entertain Her, their defiance is permitted only so long as it amuses Her. The story that they told you, that they were somehow an independent power? It was all a lie!”
I made my voice deliberately harsh, sneering and condemning. I was really speaking over their heads, making my case to my boss back in Shington, trying to get Her to let me keep this going.
Flattery rarely hurt with insecure tyrants, in my opinion. She should eat this kind of thing up.
I was approaching the bottom of the stairs now, presumably surrounded by a number of enhanced foes, hiding among their kin. My Ultras were following at a discrete distance, maybe twenty feet behind me.
A few, visible in my peripherals, were shoving humans that they passed, roughly pushing them onto the ground. None of them seemed to be killing yet, though, which was probably all I could ask for.
“A lie propped up by the Union, by a bunch of losers!” I shouted. “A lie built on the backs of the Company that She controls! Every one of these rebels, every last one of them, they all got the Process from Her. Do you think She gave them a gift that could win against Her?”
The idea that the Company stacked the deck was a popular rumor, but I had no idea whether it had any validity to it at all. All that mattered now was that it was plausible. If it kept even one of her augmented warriors from jumping up and getting killed when all the rest made their move then it was worth the breath I was spending.
I took my first step on the stairs, bracing myself, ready for anything.
“King Arthur!” I yelled. “Are you going to come down here and face your execution with pride? Or are you going to hide up there, like the sniveling coward you are, throwing waves of daggers to their deaths because you are too much of a coward to come out and face me yourself?”
Up I went, step by step. My crew were hanging back a bit, just now getting to the bottom of the stairs. I was really hoping they remembered the whole ‘no more fucking dueling’ hint I’d dropped earlier.
I got to where I could see the second floor.
A similarly cavernous space. Some old shelving, some old display stands, presumably replaced when they fixed this place up. Some lights in the middle distance, and a small crowd of figures clustered around the top of the stairs.
In the Posture.
I couldn’t just stop and count, but there were about a dozen or so, perhaps a bit more nicely dressed than the folks downstairs. More ladies then dudes. I didn’t have time to really take them in because of the one guy who was standing up.
He was at the back of the group, maybe ten feet off the stairs, standing in front of one woman who was just kneeling, not actually in the full Posture.
He was a mean looking guy, not really built, but with the kind of look where you knew that if his beat ever produced brutality complaints they wouldn’t be about him, but they would be about him.
“Hey bitch,” he said.
He didn’t shout, wasn’t going for volume here. Just a conversational tone, like we were buds. But it was enough for me to verify that he was definitely the owner of the voice that had been taunting me before.
My mind went into overdrive, thoughts racing through at an impossible pace, faster than they’d ever gone in my life.
First, this guy was almost certainly the other half of her second set, all the power crammed into one champion.
Second, holy shit that makes him Subtracter, minus the flight.
Third, no, if she could do that she wouldn’t have fucked around with the army in the first place. He is probably more like another Lancelot.
Fourth, my death touch ‘should’ work on him, but it might well take a more sustained contact, which will be very hard with the Ultra Speed deficit I’m staring down.
Fifth, my gals are coming up behind me, they will be here in an incredibly long ten to fifteen seconds. They can definitely handle this guy.
Sixth, if She will let them. This is a trap baited with the knowledge of what She likes. Backing down will make me look like a bitch, which is extremely dangerous.
Seventh, the implication of the setup up here is that King Arthur is the woman behind the champ, but I don’t necessarily believe that. There is another woman on his left and a dude on his right who would have both been in touch range before I got into view.
Eighth, time to act.