Morning: getting to know Joker.
“How’d she die?” asked Joker.
I looked away for a long moment, thinking about Builder’s last moments.
We’d met up at one of the Ultra Fight sites, an old skate park that they’d built a wall of rubble around. It set my old brawler instincts tingling to be in an arena and not have a fight lined up.
“Well,” I finally said. “She chose her own way out, you know? I think that’s all any of us get in the end.”
Joker looked searchingly at me for a bit, and then it was her turn to look away.
Or, at least, I thought that’s what she was doing. I wasn’t entirely clear on the limits of her disguise ability.
Builder had run through the details on her, way back when I had her investigate Joker the first time. She could disguise any number of people, making them look like anything that she could imagine. She had to touch you first, but thereafter she could always disguise you forever after that.
The disguises were only visual, and they went away when she slept. She used them in the Ultra Fights mostly to make people look wounded or do minor cosmetic changes, or to let the same person play multiple roles.
I’d felt like I knew quite a bit about her gift, but I still wasn’t sure she was really looking where she looked like she was looking.
“I told her not to go,” she finally said. “Begging for a bullet, with her gift. I don’t know how you talked her into it.”
“It wasn’t a bullet that got her,” I responded. “I warded her against that. She fell to a Union Ultra, same one that got me.”
Her gaze went to my forehead, she winced.
“An impressive victory,” she said, after the moment stretched uncomfortably, “Your tenure as Warlord is off to a fantastic start. Has She given you your next assignment yet?”
“I can’t say,” I answered. “The last target had agents inside the Lair. I’ve basically given up on the idea of ever leaving my war footing.”
She held up her hands in mock surrender.
“You caught me,” she said. “My secret plan to gather intelligence by just asking one of you slowpokes instead of using my gift to get the info is in the open now.”
I chuckled, turning that over in my mind.
I hadn’t been really thinking too hard about it, but her gifts would make surveillance a breeze.
“I envy you,” she eventually said.
I raised an eyebrow, inquisitively.
“Being bulletproof, fighting Her enemies. It must be nice. I have to be constantly alert, always aware. If I ever miss a shot, that’s it for me.”
“Sounds rough,” I said, deadpan.
“Sure, sure,” she allowed, “Listen to the lady with Ultra Speed gripe, but you know what they say about everyone wanting everyone else’s gift. I’m no more immune than anyone else.”
“Right back at you,” I responded, “It must be nice to be that fast.”
She smirked at me for a moment.
“It’s alright,” she said. “Makes normal conversations and such a pain, and waiting for things is just the worst, but you get used to it. There are compensations, you know?”
I could imagine.
We talked of even more inconsequential things after that, just shooting the breeze and getting to know one another a bit. I didn’t find out any surprising or alarming facts, Joker seemed to be about what Builder had reported.
She was a powerful Ultra, combining a gift with moderate utility with some significant direct combat ability. Like Builder, she wouldn’t join the Posse unless I could protect her from bullets. Like Smasher, she didn’t seem to have any particular moral stances, neither for nor against my actual priorities.
Afternoon: Recruiting from the Yard
My newfound prestige had made my stock rise even higher back at the Yard. The cheers and hooting went on for what seemed like an hour when I made my triumphant return.
I gave them a pretty basic speech, nothing fancy. We were mighty, our enemies were bitches, join me and see battle against Her enemies, all that sort of thing.
It amazed me that people could watch me bring back just about one out of every four who followed me away the last time and trip over themselves to join up. It was a pattern of behavior that had just never really clicked for me. I’d probably been protected by my contempt, my estrangement from those around me. These women would unironically die for the Regime for the same reason that people have always been willing to die for their tribes.
Just ‘us against them’ was all. Nothing weird or hard to explain about it.
Recruitment went pretty well. I’d taken quite a few out of the Yard before, and not all of those present now were up to my standards, but I found eight Ultras who seemed strong enough.
The warband itself had been busy, and there were another five Ultras waiting at the barracks to join up. All told thirteen new members, almost doubling our numbers.
It was hard to know whether or not to be happy about that, in the absence of a defined mission. Her idiotic rule against outnumbering our enemies meant I might have to leave some Ultras behind if the next enemy wasn’t numerous, but I might also be well behind where I needed to be if I was walking into a 200 Ultra fortress.
I was probably good for now, I couldn’t imagine anywhere big enough for Her to want it sacked having just ten Ultras guarding it, but it would be a good idea to find out when and where I was hitting next before I spent too much more energy on the warband.
Looking back at my last outing, one of the most important developments was getting the info on King Arthur and her gang comparatively early. It would be very convenient if I pull that off again.
Owner: Customer Satisfaction
“Rough day?” I asked Owner.
We were settling in for our usual sleep/guard routine, safely ensconced in our usual room of the Packer House.
She looked like spent the day being crucified, and like tomorrow would be more of the same. She was drawn, pale, and utterly exhausted. Honestly she’d probably looked better on the trip back from Ar Harbour.
“Yeah,” she said, shortly.
She lay down on her bed at that point, essentially cutting off the possibility of any further conversation on the matter.
I very nearly pressed, it wouldn’t be too hard to force it out of her, but the thing was that Owner wasn’t stupid.
We’d been together for a while, and she’d never been hesitant about asking for my help if she needed it. She wasn’t asking now.
That told me that she thought my assistance would make things worse. Maybe her ornery customers were strong enough or connected enough to give even the warlord pause, or maybe she just figured that things would go more smoothly if she did things her way.
Whatever the reason, it meant that I’d be stepping on her efforts if I made my own inquiries into her situation, or at least running the risk of doing so. I couldn’t exactly foretell the consequences of doing that.
The consequences of not doing it, on the other hand, seemed to be that she was busy placating the Lair’s Ultras, instead of helping me keep us alive. It seemed like she wasn’t done yet, and I had no idea how much longer it might take.
I drifted off to sleep, mulling over whether or not to meddle in Owner’s affairs.
Day 8 ? until next battle
Ultra rolodex: (#/#/# is Ultra strength/speed/toughness)
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
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
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
Owner’s Shington Store
Posse: (4 slots, 1 filled)
Owner (trusted friend, housemate, gift hard to describe) 0/0/1
16 Veteran Ultras, 13 Rookie (that is, haven’t worked with me before) Ultras
Hexxer, Peeler, Guager, Soarer are notably less evil than the rest.
Blender AP: 9/10 (10 -3 +2 -3 +2 +1)
Actions cost 3, return 2 on success 0 on failure unless otherwise specified, Blender gains 1 AP every morning
Posse Recruitment tree
Meet more Ultras (describe method, adds d6 to contacts)
Get to know specific Ultra better (describe method transitions Ultra to potential Posse member)
Invite Ultra to Posse (must have got to know target first, if accepted, Ultra joins Posse)
Get more Ultras (describe method, adds Ultras to warband of quality/quantity dependent on method)
Train warband (describe method, makes QM kinder to Blender in combat sections re: her troops actions and numbers)
Task warband (describe, needs Posse member or Blender to lead them, sets warband to a task)
VIP tree (Used for Regime Luminaries)
Visit VIP (explain, explain Blender’s motives and methods) (only returns 1 AP on success)
Contacts tree: (Blender currently believes morning is safer from Snitcher)
Get info from contacts (specify KEM or Resistance, method if different from usual dead drop)
Request mission from contacts (ask KEM or Resistance for action)
Relax tree: (Actions which, on balance, regain AP)
Lay still: Cost 0, auto succeed, returns 2
Relaxation activities, Cost 0, returns 3 on success, 1 on failure
Healing work, Cost 1, returns 6 on success, Snitcher hazard
Blisser session, auto succeed, returns 4 per timeslot, cannot be ended until Blender is back at 10
Miscellaneous action: (Anything not covered above, scavenging, info gathering in person, etc, describe what Blender is going for)
Blender Morning Action
Blender Afternoon Action
(Owner is still busy whatever she is dealing with is ongoing)