Morning: Resistance/KEM/Union communication:
This was going to be a little more complicated than my usual morning dead drop to the Resistance.
Broadly speaking, of course, it would be the same as usual, but I’d added a little twist onto it that made it a lot more stressful.
What I wanted to do was communicate to the Resistance, and then have them broadcast that information on to KEM and the Union, both of which they presumably had at least tentative contact with.
That was all well and good, and could have been accomplished in my normal idiom by saying as much in the message, but that wasn’t quite enough. If I’d done it that way, put the equivalent of “Dear Contacts, please forward this information on to your own contacts”, at the top of my message, then it wouldn’t actually get sent along until it reached the first person who actually read it and made decisions.
In an organization as dispersed and interdivided as the Resistance, that could take an indefinite period of time, and my lifespan was presently looking to be about two weeks, total. I needed something a little more immediate.
What I’d come up with, I hoped, would walk the line between being increasing my risk of Snitcher detecting me and not being noticed by the first messenger.
My usual drop involved writing something in the middle of a long, boring list, the sort of thing that Snitcher would never read through, even if I happened to glance at it. Then I’d throw the writing away, do another draft, to all appearances refining a speech or plan or whatever. The Resistance, of course, would scavenge through the trash after I left and cart away everything I’d written.
The trash picker and the others at the start of the chain wouldn’t naturally read the things that I’d written, they would simply pass it on, but they were the ones that I wanted to contact this time around.
All of which was a long way to explain how I’d come to be spending my morning in a grimy Company Facility in my section of the Lair, peeling the labels off of soda bottles from Owner’s store and doing various experiments on them.
I wasn’t actually trying to get Molotov cocktails or anything, but that was the appearance that I was going for. It was the kind of thing that was in character enough for Snitcher to accept, boring enough that he wouldn’t watch for long, and generated a lot of trash.
I’d dismissed the Company Men’s protests earlier on, and so nobody thwarted me as I wasted bottle after bottle, writing little notes on the sides of each one. The notes were things like ‘Caustic’, ‘Explosive’ and the like, theoretically telling what I’d been trying to get the ‘bombs’ to do.
In three of the bottles I’d stuffed the papers that contained my message, cryptic musings about Phis and the calamity soon to befall it. On those bottles I replaced the bombs labels with destination labels, indicating my desire that the contents make their way to my loose confederation of allies.
It felt like it should take much longer than it did, or that something momentous should mark the moment when those particular bottles went into the trash alongside all the rest, but of course the real world is never so dramatic as our instincts would have it.
I filled out and tested a few more dummy grenades, threw them away, and left.
The target information was on its way, definitely to the Resistance (absent the perpetual concern of ‘their local guy gets randomly killed because living in Shington is incredibly dangerous) and hopefully to KEM and the Union as well.
Afternoon: Invite Burner:
Burner was a tall woman, gaunt and red haired, with a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose.
“Oh, hey!” she said, looking up from some papers that she’d been writing on. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you come in.”
Her workshop was mostly a room, with only a few tarps thrown over some holes to make obvious the fact that it was located in a ruin. She’d cluttered it with a dizzying assortment of trunks, broken pieces of furniture, and especially flat rocks. The point of the whole place seemed to be that she liked to stack things and write wherever she was.
“I told the guy outside I wanted to surprise you,” I allowed.
I hadn’t, actually. The ‘guy outside’, a child really, had wandered off to throw rocks at a bird, so I’d simply walked up, lifted a flap and stepped inside. But getting people in trouble with their Ultras wasn’t part of my mission statement, so a white lie seemed called for.
“Oh, sure,” she said, clearly still mentally disengaging from whatever she’d been writing about.
I waited for a long few seconds, before glancing down at her work. It was a diagram, at first glance some kind of blueprints or similar, depicting a stadium or amphitheater.
“You like it?” she asked. “I’m thinking we’ll put fire along the edges here and here,” she pointed excitedly, “And then when the preliminary bouts get done I’ll-“
“It’s great,” I cut her off. “I think it’ll be great. Really wow them.”
“Yeah,” she said, contentedly. “I think we can top last year, if Builder gets back in time for-”
“She’s dead,” I told her.
She looked blankly at me for a long moment.
“You’re the warlord!”, she blurted, after her freeze ended. “I’m sorry, you had your forehead hole covered.”
“It’s fine,” I said, trying not to let her throw me. “Builder died in our last battle.”
She cursed softly, without heat, a pair of muttered swears.
“You can avenge-“ I began, then stopped.
She crumpled up the diagram she’d been working on, tossed it off to one side.
“No good now,” she said, “I’ll have to scale it all back, geez. I’ve gotten so lazy with her gift to fall back on, I’m not sure I even know the current state of our venue! I’ll have to do a survey of the outsiders to try and find another-“
“Or you can avenge her.” I said, forcefully interrupting the flow of her enthusiasm.
“Avenge her?” she asked, already pulling another sheet of paper into position on her drawing surface.
“In my posse, “ I said. “I’m offering you a position.”
“No,” she said. “I don’t want to die.”
“The risk is really-“
“Builder joined the Posse,” she told me, “I told her it was dumb, but she was head over heals chasing after another of her girls. I’m not.”
“It isn’t terribly healthy,” I told her, feeling the conversation slipping out of my grip. “To say no to the Warlord.”
“I’d rather fight you than the people you’ll fight,” she told me.
I started to say something else, then thought better of it as she raised a hand, not quite pointing at me.
“Do you want to fight?” she asked.
I didn’t, so I left.
Evening: Debrief Owner/Replayer
We held the debriefing at a little get together spot a ways down the road from the Packer House. I wasn’t about to invite Replayer inside.
It would have been an easy slip up to make. I’d had Smasher over a few times, after all, and nothing ill had come of it. But Smasher had been simply brutal and amoral, a creature after Her own heart. Replayer was more like First Fist, an unrestrained sadist gleefully trampling all that came across their path.
“So this bitch is all squealing and shit and I’m like-“
Case in point, I made a ‘skip to the end’ gesture.
“Oh,” said Replayer, “She didn’t know shit.”
“Did anyone?” I asked, keeping my expressions carefully even. There were persistent rumors that sufficient Ultra Speed let you read people’s micro expressions and know something of what they were thinking. I didn’t believe it, but there was no call to take chances.
“Sure,” she said. “They kind of sucked, but let me replay a sec so I get it right.”
One of her eyes sort of glitched for a moment, it looked like the spun backwards like a videotape, but it all happened too fast to really track.
Owner caught my eye, her face equally expressionless. I’d known her long enough to know that she shared my skepticism about whether this was actually part of Replayer’s gift, or just a performance to keep its particulars obscured.
“Vower is just a bitch,” she said dismissively, “Her gift can make people do what they say they are going to do or some shit like that, so the gangs keep her around so they can do deals. Her sister said she had Ultra toughness at first, but changed her tune later on.”
“So maybe some toughness,” I confirmed, “But the core of the gift is that she can control people? That sounds useful.”
“No no, shit,” said Replayer, “I’m explaining it long. She can’t make people say stuff, but if they say stuff she can make them mean it, you get me?”
“She’d protect us from treachery, at least,” I said, “I’ll keep her in mind. What about Caller?”
“Pussy,” she returned, “Her gift lets her talk into the mind of people that she’s seen before, and they can talk back. She can also let them talk to each other and stuff.”
“Good getting the details,” I said, “Her ability to forge a network between others could be very valuable.”
“Nah she’s a pussy,” she reiterated, “She found out I was asking about her and came to talk to me, so I kicked her around a bit. No combat gift and her arms are probably broken.”
“She might still be useful,” said Owner, “Even if not on the front lines, with her gift we could all stay in contact with one another. Even if we don’t get her in the Posse, can we just get her to link us all up?”
“Nobody’s useful if they can’t fight,” answered Replayer, looking to Owner for the first time.
“Did you find anything on the other two?” I asked. “Also, I expect Caller is similarly with he gangs, maybe helping them set up meetings or something?”
Replayer shook her head.
“I didn’t get the sense she was with anybody, I think she’s just, like, eating off the humans, you know? She links them all up and they do stuff for her in exchange?”
Perfect. An Ultra who was useful to the populace and my minion had randomly beaten her up. My luck was fan fucking tastic lately.
“Hater?” I asked.
“Knight Ultra,” she answered, immediately, “One of Refiner’s goons, she gets strength and toughness against anyone based on how many people hate them, and how much.”
“Could you get details?” I asked.
“I don’t usually scrap with the Knights,” she said, a little apologetically, “Refiner blessed my tee shirt a while back, no call to risk that if we are going to into battle, you know?”
“I thought your gift protected you?” I asked, fishing for any details.
She just chuckled.
“Nailer?” asked Owner. “She throws Ultra blasts, right?”
“Nah,” said Replayer, “She combines things together, and then they work like they were always that way. I heard that she was the one who put Pursuer together, before he got the Process.”
The timeline definitely didn’t work out on that, but I didn’t bother to correct her. The casual ignorance of history was a hallmark of the new world that I’d long since come to grips with.
“Like if she puts a car and a gun together…?”
“Sure,” she said, “Or like a person and a dog, she does that a lot. If you wondered where all those fucking dog people came from.”
I did not, in fact wonder that, and hadn’t seen any such things. It was a sobering reminder of just how big, and how weird, Shington was. The Lair was my focus, of course, but its penumbra utterly dwarfed it.
“Freelance?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said, “She’s got a lair out there somewhere, people find her who want stuff combined together.”
It was interesting to think about these 4, and what it said about the Union’s priorities that they were on the list.
“The training go alright, Owner?” I asked, taking my attention away from Replayer for a moment.
“Yep,” she said, in a way that I had no trouble reading as ‘nope’. Benefits of a long relationship.
Owner having trouble training the Warband wasn’t exactly surprising, and it was probably just more of the usual, the dogged Regime resistance to being taught by anyone who wasn’t stronger than them. She couldn’t exactly talk about it with Replayer here, but there was nothing else it could be.
I thought we’d trained that out of them, but maybe the new blood had made old tendencies rise up again. I grimaced internally. There was a limit to how much training I could justify to myself, when I was probably going to be expanding the warband hugely in order to match Phis’s forces.
“Fantastic,” I enthused. “Our next target won’t know what hit it.”
We laughed together then, a villainous laugh straight out of an old world cartoon.
16 days 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
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
Vower – 0/0/?, a woman who can enforce oathkeeping
Caller – 0/0/0, a woman who can grant and use telepathic communication
Nailer – ?/?/?, a woman who can merge objects and people into composites
Hater – X/0/X, a woman whose effectiveness depends on how much her enemy is hated, and by how many people
Owner’s Shington Store
Posse: (4 slots, 2 filled)
Owner (trusted friend, housemate, gift hard to describe) 0/0/1
Replayer — 1/2/0, she can ‘step back in time’ to undo damage that she takes
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.
Driver, Defender and Infecter possess interesting capabilities.
Blender AP: 4/10 (7-3 +2 -3 +1)
Actions cost 3, return 2 on success 0 on failure unless otherwise specified, Blender gains 1 AP every morning
Union Kill List tree, if you feel any indication to play along with their proposal (note that KEM/Resistance missions tie in well with these matters)
Get basic info on 4 Ultras (indicate names, this is a gossip based approach unless you specify otherwise)
Get detailed info on 1 Ultra (indicate name, this is a ‘track them down and speak with them’ based approach unless you specify otherwise)
Kill an Ultra from the list (indicate target name and your basic method, may cause rebellion or discontent in any Posse or Warband assets you use, may not, use your best judgement and be clever)
Send Union a Message (indicate text of message, this is actually a Resistance action, but I’ve placed it here for ease of use)
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) (This can go in either direction, asking them to do something from you, or asking if they need you to do anything for them.)
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 will take either a morning or afternoon action at Blender’s direction.
Replayer will take either a morning or afternoon action at Blender’s direction.