Regime Quest 28

Results from Previous round votes:

1 Vote plan CCC

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Winning Plan:

Plan:

[Morning] Train the Warband, in Ultra Combat

[Afternoon] Inform Prevailer about the proposed change in the date of the attack, on the grounds that “they already know we’re gonna hit them, so I kinda wanna mess with them before they’re ready for us”.

[Owner] Get hold of, if possible, a smoke machine and a high-power laser. She can claim that they’re for ‘a rave’, but really they’re mostly in case Merlin’s gift didn’t end with her death. (Smoke machine can outline invisible troops, and a laser can blind the otherwise untouchable spotters – though it’s possible that Smasher can smash them anyhow).

(On the side, she can have the rave in the imaginary world, as well; hire a DJ, start selling tickets, and raise some funds – perhaps in aid of an anti-kidnapping charity)

[Builder] Create a few trucks, and experiment with making them in different ways. Also have a few words with her on the subject of large, vehicle-mounted guns… and then just see what comes out of it.

[Smasher] [Afternoon] Train the warband, in Ultra Combat. They’re looking after her, let’s give her the chance to look after them.Day 24 Log :

7 AP at start of day (6 at end of last day +1 for half night’s sleep)

-2 Train the Warband (5 AP)

Roll 10, +1 for Crit Success success (6 AP)

-3 Inform Prevailer (entertainment) (3 AP)

Roll 8, +2 for success (5 AP)

Builder Experiment with truck guns

Roll 7, success(ish)

Owner: Buy rave stuff

Roll 10, Crit Success

Smasher: Train the Warband

Roll 8, success

End of day, 5 AP

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Train the Warband:

The real breakthrough came when I had them do the teaching.

It was probably the thing with Smasher that gave me the idea.  How they’d ended up helping her out, at least in the short term, rather than the other way around.  It got my mind into a different place, got me thinking of them as people, rather than an amorphous mob.

It might also have been about dispelling elitism, a bit.  I mean, I basically was one of them, only I’d made it to the top of the ladder.  That had left me with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, I now saw, thinking that because I’d been more successful than them it meant that I was better.

That was rubbish thinking, Regime thinking.  Even if I was better, it didn’t mean that I would be better at everything.  It didn’t mean that there was nothing I could learn from them.  I’d been walking past a gold mine, proud of how clean my hands were.

Looking at it with a cold, clear eye, being maximally dispassionate about it and all, who really gained from a lesson?  The teacher or the students?  Sure, teaching something let you really learn it, there was a lot to be said for that.  You knew you genuinely understood something when you could teach it to someone else, but put that aside for a sec.

At the start, the teacher knew a thing, the student didn’t.  At the end, they both knew the thing.  Obviously the students were the ones benefiting.  So why was I so proud about this relationship?  I was helping Regime warriors get more deadly, puffing myself up about how strong my warband was.  I ought to have been using them to make ME more powerful all along.

The only complication was that I couldn’t make it obvious that they were the ones providing value.  Regime posturing and all that.  I solved that by making it a contest.

I took the squad leaders Smasher had chosen, Jumper and the others, got them up in front of the crew and had them each give their best lesson, earning the right to be ‘first squad’ for the one who gave the tips I considered to have helped the rest out the most.

They might not have been, one on one, better combatants than I was, but everyone had figured out a little trick or two that I hadn’t necessarily set down.  Stuff about how important sight lines were, the times to use Ultra strength to swing or throw an object versus when you needed to get in there and hit directly, how a deathtouch opponent could be handled, the rough categories that projectile gifts fell into and how to tell them apart.

It was considerably more productive, I judged, than my own lecture would have been, and to top matters off I learned some things myself.  An excellent morning indeed.

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Inform Prevailer:

“She’ll see you now,” said Answerer, sliding out of the way so that I could get to the door.

I didn’t pay Her mascot much mind, letting her creep on past without moving forward.

We were in the old Treasury building, down on some sublevel.  I’d tried to keep the inner Lair geography straight in my head, but it was hard to think about anything else when you got this close to Her.

I gritted my teeth and walked up, pushed the door open.

The room beyond was a meeting room of some kind, nondescript and functional, black office chairs around a faded brown table.  There were probably a thousand like it within a few blocks.  The strangest thing about it, honestly, was that it wasn’t even a little crumbling.  It wouldn’t have been out of place, aside from some dust and mold, back when the building was still in use.

She was standing at the head of the table, looking over at me.

I forced myself to keep walking, not to break stride.  Everyone knew that She hated when people wasted Her time, that She hated suck ups almost as much as those who didn’t suck up enough.

She hated lots of things.

“Blender, right?” She asked.

“Yes,” I said.

I was right in front of Her now.  Right in front of the woman who’d ended the world.  I could reach out, if so inclined, just brush my fingers against Her and She’d be done.  Take away ‘living’, or ‘smart’, or some other crucial metadata.

Instead I dropped into the Posture, going down on my knees and crossing my wrists behind my head.  A lot of people had tried stuff just like that, and She was still here.  I wasn’t about to end Her story.

“You are going to take out those Ar Harbor punks, right?” She said.

I gave a wordless nod.

I was struggling to keep my mind away from how every second could be my last.  This was, undeniably, a more dangerous moment than anything King Arthur could throw at me.  The lunatic across from me had the blood of billions on Her hands.

“So?” she asked.

“So I wanted to tell you that I’m moving up the time table-“

I’d meant to end the sentence there, but I saw one of Her hands tense slightly where it rested against Her pants legs.

“-if that’s ok with You,” I finished.  “I’d like to go on the 28th, instead of the 31st.”

She dropped down to one knee, eyefucked me.

“When’s that?” She asked.  “What do you mean?”

Shit, why would She not know dates…uh, ok, maybe She just meant She didn’t bother with them.

“Get with Snitcher,” I suggested, “3 days from now.  I mean not today, not tomorrow, or the day after.  The 28th is the one after the day after tomorrow.”

“The day after the day after tomorrow,” she echoed, slowly.  “Morning or evening?”

“Whichever You want!” I said, eagerly, while simultaneously hoping that She would pick the evening.  I was planning to drive out early on the 28th, if She wanted a morning fight we’d need to leave the day before, do a night drive or spend the night out in the wilderness.

“Night works,” She said, standing back up.

I carefully died not breathe out a sigh of relief, remaining stationary for a few moments longer as She turned away.

I was nearly to the door when She spoke again.

“Keep the place looking nice,” She directed.  “I’m going to walk around for a bit after you finish up.  See all the shops and such.”

I gave a wordless nod.

I desperately wanted to ask Her if damage and repair would be ok, but all of my instincts were warning me that quibbling would only be bad for me.  I needed to be a glove, an instrument.  I would be spared if I was transparent, absent, nothing to think about or remark on.

She looked away again and I took the opportunity to leave.

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Debrief Posse:

“You didn’t want Smasher at the debrief?” asked Owner.

It was a fair question.  Only days ago I would have given quite a bit to get her to show up.

“No, this is just for the three of us.” I  told them.  “She told you how things worked out, right?”

“She said stuff was going great,” said Builder.  “They were all learning and working together, but she was ready to attend if you wanted her to.”

I smiled, gave a small nod.

“I didn’t want to take the risk,” I told them.

“Risk?” asked Owner.

“People don’t change,” I told her, a bit bluntly.  “Hardly ever.  They backslide, they relapse.  Call it what you want.  We all go back to what’s old and familiar.  Tonight is a very dangerous time for Smasher.”

Builder got it immediately, face lighting up.

“You think if she’s with the warband she’s less likely to get tore up!” she guessed.  “Cuz they were the ones who got her to fly straight in the first place.”

I gave a small nod.

Of course, what I’d just said applied to me as well.  An outside observer might have said that I was doing the same thing, putting the briefing back on its most familiar ground as I faced great risk.  I wouldn’t have denied it.

“How’d things go for you?” I asked Owner.

She grinned lazily.

“Nothing to it.  Buying stuff like that is probably pretty easy over there, I guess imaginary me just took a bunch of these cards down to the smoke store shop and carried it on back.”

More likely it had been an online order with expedited shipping, but I’d long ago stopped fighting with Owner’s interpretation of the world gone by.  I suspected that more than half of her mistakes were just ways to get under my skin, anyway.

“You got the smoke machine?” I asked.

“Yep,” she said, “And a bunch of these laser things too.  We might have got cheated though, I tried a few out and they didn’t even cut through a wall.”

That drew a chuckle from me.

“These aren’t Ultra lasers,” I told her.  “Not gifts or anything, they have to follow the real rules.  A laser that could cut through a wall wasn’t something you could actually make, not without a whole lot more power than the battery packs we ordered.”

She looked disgruntled.

“Laaaame!”, said Builder.

I looked over at her, rolling my eyes a bit.

“Where’d you put the trucks?” I asked her.

“Down the street a ways,” she said, vaguely.

That was probably good thinking.  If we left trucks lying around outside the Lair they’d have been stolen or scavenged immediately, but nobody in here was likely to bother.

It wasn’t that I trusted the people in here, mind, it was that they were already where they wanted to be, close to the seat of power.  Transportation wasn’t a priority for anyone except chumps who took the Warlord job.

“You get the guns on em?” I asked.

She pulled a face, grimacing a bit.

“I guess?” she said.  “I just made bigger regular guns, like, each part bigger.  I hope they won’t explode or whatever when we shoot them.  I’m not sure if that’s exactly what you meant.”

It hadn’t been, of course, but in retrospect she didn’t really know anything about tank turrets or vehicle mounted machine guns or anything.  ‘Giant Rifles’ was probably as good as this could have gone.

Honestly I didn’t know a huge deal about guns either.  Maybe a rifle that was twice as big actually shot twice as hard?  It probably couldn’t be that simple, but if nothing else they’d make the trucks look fiercer, more obviously Warlord gear.

Image was everything, after all.  A few post apoc looking war trucks in the background of the fight scene couldn’t hurt.

“Alright,” I said.  “Get some sleep, tomorrow is-“

“What’d you do?” asked Owner, poking a finger at me.

“Huh?”

“This afternoon.  What did you do?  I know you never waste time, and you’ve taken a good bit off lately.”

Despite myself I felt a bit of warmth in my chest, to know that she was checking up on me.

“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” I told them.

 

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The Plan:

– We should attack on the 28th. We shouldn’t tell anyone about this until about the 25th. This will throw a spanner in the works of any trap they’re planning that requires that they have an idea of when we’re coming.

– If we head over on the 30th, we can expect to ‘coincidentally’ meet a Union patrol partway there who will inflict some damage on us. We should prepare for this possibility, even at our earlier date.

– We attack on the 28th. The only person who finds out about this early is Prevailer, who gets to discover this on the 25th. On the 26th, those members of our Posse that we can trust not to blab find out.

-On the 28th, Smasher and the warband find out. Preferably while being herded into the trucks.

“This will minimize the opportunity for betrayal, and we might very well catch them with their pants down, planning some kind of preemptive strike on the 29th.”

– Merlin’s invisible troops are, of course, invisible. They are also carrying Knight equipment. Picker’s assassins carried Knight equipment. Hmmm. But what the Knights are asking for in exchange for the use of their equipment is morally completely reprehensible. I can’t countenance that, and would lose my Resistance contact if I did. (I would deserve to lose my Resistance contact if I did that. I would be truly a monster.)

– I need to bear in mind that Merlin and Arthur might have empowered the same people. That is to say, some of Merlin’s invisible assassins might have Ultra Strength, or Speed, or Toughness. They’re already hitting above their weight – on top of that, they may actually have some weight to hit on top of.

– Another option for dealing with Merlin is to take advantage of KEM. I know where she lives, what she can do and who she cares for; leaving that report on Merlin in the right place should be enough to get her killed outright. However, I shouldn’t use KEM on more than one person. Merlin is a greater threat than Guinevere.

– Third option – use Owner to demolish Merlin’s house in the middle of the night (buying and demolishing the property).

– Fourth option – take advantage of Builder’s stuff-stretching ability to ensure that our confrontation happens in an ankle-deep flood. Even invisible people can be seen walking through ankle-deep water – if nothing else, by the foot-shaped hollows in the water.

– We hope the KEM managed to take out Merlin, and we further hope that doing so reversed her Power’s effects. However, if not, we have a multipronged strategy against those invisible troops. Firstly, Merlin herself is killed quickly – sniper bullet, if necessary (no showboating here). Second, a smoke machine may make invisible people visible, and a laser can blind their spotters, effectively making them ineffective on the field.

“Re: Sniping, Merlin will probably be hidden in a basement somewhere, if she’s alive when we strike.  I could try sending in a sniper ahead of time, hope to catch her just out and about living her life, but in a pitched battle she isn’t going to be standing around where we can shoot her.  I also, um, don’t have a sniper?  The Ultras will have rifles, and they’ve trained in anti firearm techniques (ducking behind stuff), but I haven’t really sought out and trained marksman to the point that I’d call any of my warband ‘snipers’, per se.”

“Re: Smoke machine, potential here, but I’d need to do a lot of testing to fine tune this.  Like, a thick smoke will blind and choke everyone.  I need sort of a mist deal.  Hopefully what Owner bought is what I need.  Might be worth spending some time messing around with.”

“Re: Lasers.  I don’t think trying to hit people in the eyes with lasers in a big fight is going to work.  The lasers might turn out to ‘hit’ the invisible people though, so they might be some use, but everyone carrying a laser is someone who isn’t fighting…I dunno, I don’t really like this idea.”

– Guinevere is easily handled. I need merely imbue my Posse with fireproof; after that, Smasher can take her out easily. (Ankle-deep water should mess with her, too, by extinguishing a lot of fires).

– Lancelot and Arthur are unlikely to be trouble in the final confrontation.

– That giant Union tank, on the other hand, is a problem (and not a small one). But Builder should be able to deal with it; her power works at any range. She can close off any gun barrels by extending the barrel material _inwards_, she can mess up the engine by making the internals just grow crazy spikes everywhere, and so on. Once she can see it, she can ruin it utterly – and probably without even leaving any external sign of her sabotage, so it can all be blamed on the Union being idiots.

– Builder is our go-to person for ranged anti-Union-tech operations. No machine can long survive her vengeful gaze, once she’s decided to smash it. And if the Union gets wise to the point of limiting our visibility (say, with smoke), the Smasher can just smash the smoke…

“I like this idea a lot.  Builder can rapidly ruin any tank she can see, although she can’t add stuff to the internals.  Nothing is going to keep running well once an enemy starts creatively adding stuff to it.”

– If the Ar Harbour team don’t want to come out and fight, we can draw them out by taking hostages. from the people they care for. This strategy is unpleasant and distasteful, but it will work, and will draw them away from buildings. Moreover, I don’t actually need to permanently harm the hostages, not if I’m threatening enough.

-Talking of Smasher, if she can smash *fire*, then Guinevere doesn’t stand a hope.

“I asked her about this, she can smash both fire and smoke, but apparently each fairly small part is separate, so she’d smash a 5 footish area of it each time, rather than the whole cloud/fire.”

 

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Day 26:

Days remaining: 3!

AP available: (5 at end of day + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 6/10

Non AP Action: Swap in a new plan.  You write in a new plan, I’ll give you Mia’s assessment of it.  If you don’t do this then the existing one will be executed.  The plan that is in force when its execution date arrives will be used for the actual battle, though there may be mid battle votes that could alter it in process.

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Smasher : Timeslot Available: morning or afternoon, but not both

Posse: 3 or 3 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 45

Condition: Healthy

[spoiler=Ultras]

 

(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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/spoiler]

 

[spoiler=Actions]

Actions:

[ ] Accept Refiner’s Bargain (Timeslot cost: 0, AP cost 4, auto succeed)

Motive: His blessed weapons and armor would be a massive force multiplier for our group.  He might also send along Knight backup.  He would be a powerful additional patron.

Concerns: I would be responsible for a massacre in the immediate aftermath, or be killed by Second Fist if I backed out.  Subtracter would also likely perceive this alliance as an attempt at weaseling out from under her command, so I’d have to tread very carefully to avoid offending her.

 

[ ] 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  competence. 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

 

[ ] Action: Direct the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful)

Motive: If I need to set my warband in motion, give them a project or whatever, it is as simple as telling them to jump.  My will is their command.

-[ ] Let [Posse Member] Supervise, takes up the Posse Member’s action, modifies success chance based on which Posse member it is, and which action

 

[ ] Action: Train the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful) [Requires a timeslot from the teacher, who should probably be an Ultra combatant]

Motive: Yard Ultras are fierce, but undisciplined.  They are warriors, not soldiers.  I can get better outcomes if I teach them some basics.

-[ ] In Ultra Combat (Gives bonuses on their battle rolls)

-[ ] In anti firearm maneuvers (Makes them suffer less casualties under fire)

-[ ] In obedience (makes them more likely to obey my orders)

 

[ ] 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.

Smasher Actions:

[ ] Recuperate [Timeslot cost All]

Description: Smasher hangs on the edge of death.  Her body and gift will try to knit her back together each day.

 

Owner Actions:

[ ] Acquire Funds [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner takes action to get more and more valuable assets within our world, increasing her overall funding, hopefully permitting her gift’s actions to be swifter and larger in impact. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Change Company [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner presently runs a package store, located in downtown Washington.  She has, as near as I can estimate, a low six figures saved up.  With this action I can direct her to acquire licenses, expand locations, purchase other businesses, or perform similar deeds, all based around changing the operation and activities of her imaginary franchise. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Company Action [ Timeslot cost 2]

Description: This is a catchall action for anything I might think of that could let Owner impact the main battle in Ar Harbor.  Buying up local real estate and demolishing it on a certain date seems like the obvious course of action, but there are a lot of other fringe ideas that I’ve been entertaining. [Requires Write In clarification on how to do this.  The first Action spent on this is about Owner doing tests to make sure this effort will work, the second actually kicks off whatever changes I want in the imaginary world.]

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]

 

 

Indulger 9:1

This wasn’t going to be an Ultra Fight, I reminded myself.

I didn’t really need to.  Lotus’ juice was pounding away inside me, sharpening my mind like a grindstone, giving me the extra little bit that I need to be fully alive, fully aware of the moment.  But it was a good thing to remind myself of anyway.

I’d pulled my punches, back with the Pantheon at their fort.  I’d left my enemies alive, tried to turn them into friends.  I’d made limited progress, but I’d been doing my damnedest.

But that wasn’t going to be the case with the Brides.

I’d been ducking this fight for a day, and that was about as far as I could stretch it.  Manus and Nimbus had been shitting on our names, straight up heeling it up against us, making their own rep bigger by telling everyone how weak they found us.

Nothing that we did, not my own movement of the ground, which doubled the distance the column moved in a day, not Haunter’s work with their healers and scouts, none of it could make up for the fact that we weren’t Brides, and so couldn’t be respected.

The old Dale, or maybe I should say the unaltered one, would have just sat here and let it happen.  I’d have wallowed along, secure in my ways, and one day we’d have just been surrounded and lynched by bored kids.  It wasn’t naturally my way to be proactive.

But I was working with Lotus now, was pumped to the gills with her yellow juice, and experimenting with just a taste of the red and green drinks.  It was definitely changing how I thought, I could tell that.

I’d imagined, back before I met Lotus, that using stuff that changed who you were would be scary, that like the old you would still be back there behind your eyes, just getting madder and madder at what you were choosing, but it wasn’t like that at all.  I was still me, or at least I felt like it, but I was just much more awake and more of a heel now.

It had given me the self confidence to step up to the Brides before their bullying could get us killed.

“Say that again?” I dared Manus, looming up over her as well as I could without getting inside of touching range.

This wasn’t as hard as it might seem, since she was all of four feet tall, or maybe a bit shorter.  It was still weird how the Brides had members that were so young, who could straight up slaughter when they wanted to.

Preventer had told me that her name meant ‘hands’, so I wasn’t about to let her put them on me.  My working assumption was a death touch of some sort.

“Boy Brides weak,” she said, Pantheon accent strong in her speech, “You… more weak.  Lick boot.”

She was giving me a chance to back down, in a way.  She was in her rights to start fighting already, just from the fact that I’d stood up to her.  I could tell, somehow, that she didn’t want this, that she was under pressure of her own, was using us to deflect attention from her own position.

The people around us chuckled along with her line, sneering in at me in a way that felt distinctly dangerous.

This was the most dangerous time.  Nobody fought during the day, or not many people.  You’d fall behind the column, maybe get hit by Union forces.  It wasn’t worth it.  Almost nobody fought at night.  No audience.  But marching ended pretty early in the afternoon, and that left this little window, a few hours where there were a lot of bored Goddesses lurking around.

Nimbus, honestly, was the one that I ought to be fighting, from the talking perspective.  She’d been the main one who started all this shit with us.  But the problem was that there was no way I could beat her.  Her gift would take me out in a second.

“You not chosen,” I told Manus, the girl I could maybe take,  “Never chosen.  Never will be chosen.  Bride in name only.  Sleep alone.”

I’d been watching, taking notes.  So had everyone else.  Every culture had their own version of smack talk, and among the Brides these were apparently sick insults.

The flaring of her nostils, the widening of her eyes, they were all the warnings I got.  She swung a fist at me but I was already hurling myself aside as her gift manifested itself.

It was a good thing I’d used my gift, had it drag the ground under me, because I wouldn’t have dodged if I didn’t.  Her gift was swift, and given that she was a Bride, I had no doubt it would take me out if it hit.

The ‘hands’ in her name turned out to refer to the shape of her gifts, not to her actual hands.  She’d crafted a pair of energy fields, each shaped like a ten foot version of one of her hands.  They mirrored her actual hands movement, whirring through the world around her with the same swiftness that a person could do basic hand movements.

For now, they were cupped around her.  She had clasped them in front of her like she was holding an egg, and the gift hands clasped around her in the same way.  It lifted her up off the ground a little, which was worrisome.

“Kill You!” she yelled, and her cry was taken up by the crowd around us as a cheer and a taunt.  I’d seen variations of it a thousand times back in the Ultra Fight rings, but they were in deadly earnest here.

“Kill what?” I asked, putting my hands together before me in a mockery of hers.  “Kill time maybe?  I am still here!”

I was dimly aware that I should have been absolutely terrified.  There was death here.  I had no Link to bring me back, and they’d had the same time to find out stuff about us that we had about them.  She might easily know to keep my body off the ground if she got a shot in.  I might be living my last seconds.

Lotus’ drug didn’t let me care, though.  If I was living my last, then the emphasis was on living.  I had never felt so focused in my life.

She snarled and swung a fist, making sure it was the one that had previously been on top of her gesture.  The energy projection shot towards me, even as she stood safely on the top of the other one, standing on its palm as she mimed the punch.

This time there was no way to skid to the side.  She was watching, would simply adjust the angle of the swing.  I dropped instead, my gift opening a gap beneath me and sending me plummeting into the earth.  I heard the whirr of the wind as her ‘punch’ raced above me, and then I was cradled in the soil, stone and sand rasping about me as my gift carried sideways at an angle.

My thoughts raced along as I shot through the ground.

Not coming up would make me weak in the eyes of the crowd.  It would be a death sentence whenever I did come back up, a punch from behind from some cocky Bride and it would all be over for me.

If I came back to the surface, however, she would just swing again, and I’d be right back down here.  If I was lucky.

The ground surged around me, my gift making me aware of a great fissure being ripped through it.  She had even less patience than I’d expected.  I was launching myself back up before I could finish the thought.

If delay would be fatal, then obviously hiding would be twice as much so.  I couldn’t let peoples takeaway from this fight be that I was afraid of her, or that I couldn’t stand up to her.  Jane had told us over and over that in a group like this the appearance of strength was strength.  I couldn’t let her set the pace at all.

I burst out of the surface off to her right, already facing her.  I’d been able to tell from the way the furrow had been being dug what angle her ‘hand’ was at, which let me know about where she would be for that to be true.  I probably couldn’t have naturally done that kind of problem, but with the Yellow in my body it just happened automatically.

I hadn’t come up empty handed.  Even as she was spinning around to face me I whipped a rock at her head, throwing it overhand like a pitching player from a ball game.

I thought it would hit her, but at the last instant the hand she was riding on dropped down a few feet, let it shoot past her head.  She brought the other hand, the one that she’d been groping around by her feet with, back up in an uppercut gesture, and once again I had to fling myself to one side.

This time she’d been mad, had moved quickly, didn’t take the time to adjust for my dodge.  I got away much cleaner, skidding across the ground on one knee as her attacking fist rose into the sky.

I had a second, before the fist came back down.  A few seconds if it was a predictable smashing attack.  I tried to work out how I could survive this.

If I kept frustrating her she’d use 2 hands.  I knew this, bone deep.  She was someone who’d gotten everything she wanted all her recent life, who’d been set off to fight with a simple sentence.  She wouldn’t be used to frustration, to long fights.  She’d move to end things.

When she did that she’d drop to the ground.  I could shoot spikes into her, grind her with stones, but she was a Bride. No way she wasn’t at least Ultra tough one.  They would just bounce off, and she’d snatch herself up again, get back on the hand.

I needed to hit her.  Needed to be touching the ground when I did it.  Only my Ultra strength could harm her.  But moving towards her would see me splattered by her fists.  I had only dodged the previous two by the narrowest margins.  The one under her would come too fast from that close.

Things moved before I could think anymore.  Her hand stopped going up and started coming down, a fly swatting gesture.  I knew that if I had my gift shoot me sideways it wouldn’t work again.

I lifted my own fist up, then, and the ground mirrored the motion, rising up in pillars around me, like I was trying to hold the field up.  Most importantly, they blocked her view of me.

The drugs had saved me again, giving me the answer in a split second.  She’d instinctively tensed up her swing, pushing into the ‘down’ of it as I apparently raised a challenge, losing the flexibility to adjust to my slides.  This time I’d slid straight away, my motion initially hidden by the collapsing pillars, and by the time she saw me I’d already created a bit of distance.

I showboated a bit, hands folded behind my head, giving a big old wide yawn, like this was just so easy and I couldn’t be bothered.

Nothing could have been further form the truth, but I had to get her mad, get her careless, because I wasn’t going to survive much longer.  Whatever I was going to do, however I was going to get my hands on her, it needed to be now.

She pushed the ‘swatting’ hand at me with an actual growl, and my gift took me straight towards it, sliding to it as though I was going to try and meet her punch with my own form.

I wasn’t, of course.  The way the fists tore through the ground they were at least Ultra strong 2, and quite possibly a three. They would go through me like I was made of cloud, leave nothing left at all.

She did it again, tensing up into the push when it seemed like it was going to meet resistance, and I swerved at the last second, my gift dropping me down into the ground under the onrushing hand, not losing any velocity in the process, still shooting me towards her.

It took her the critical second to catch what was going on, to realize that I’d ducked under again, that she hadn’t splattered me.  She didn’t have the drugs, didn’t have the experience of a hundred Ultra fights.  Hadn’t fought real battles against strong opponents like I had.

I’d been lulling her, a bit.  Giving her separate opportunities to strike me, setting her up to reset after each strike, to see what I’d try next.  Tricking her into the Ultra Fight cadence, not the raw every-second-counts of a real life and death struggle.

It all combined to steal a second, leave her processing that her push had missed without alarm or worry, getting me away from the first strike as she automatically pulled it back, shooting towards her as that alarm finally triggered in her mind, as the primordial sight of a bodybuilder who towered above her charging in upon her pushed her into an instant panic.

It came then, the thrust I hadn’t figured out how to avoid, the shielding hand rising up in an instinctive, undodgeable shove, powered by all the ‘nope nope nope’ in her tiny body, arising from every person’s automatic answer to death closing in.

My body did it for me, solved the puzzle that I couldn’t figure out myself.

I’d palmed a stone when I put my hands behind my head, had carried it through the charge.  Even as her hand started the ruinous thrust I was hurling it, every ounce of my momentum and strength behind it.

If it missed I was dead, but I’d never been more alive.  It struck home exactly where I aimed, striking her hand just as she started to push it forwards.

The flinch was automatic, a reflex just like the shove had been.  I hadn’t given her time to think since she finished the original swat.  Ultra toughness wasn’t natural, and with her shields hers wouldn’t have been tested a lot.  When her hand took an impact she froze for a moment, bracing for a pain that wouldn’t come, and her gift froze with it, slave to the actual motions of her physical flesh.

I reached her, lashed out instantly, fist moving even as the chasing hand closed from behind me and the one that had frozen lurched into motion again.

I punched her in the head.

In the Ultra fights when you hit someone in the head there was always a sagging, a sort of hammy staggering, like they were fighting for consciousness, or waging some kind of inner war.  Or they just went limp, toppled like someone had switched off a light.

None of them were kids though.  And I’d never hit any of them nearly this hard.

My fist went ‘into’ the hit, in a way that I’d never felt before, Manus’s skull giving beneath my hand and her body catapulting sideways.

It saved my life, as her fists moved in faithful obedience to the hands that bound them, flying off to the side for the instant it took her gift to realize she was dead.

The red sang in my veins, filled me with energy as I stared wildly around at the onlookers, fist stained with a fluid I was trying very hard to force myself not to identify.

Most of me knew that I’d die if they stepped up, but another part of me, much larger than I’d realized, would relish the struggle.

Their cheers had been cut off, stilled like someone’d put a rope around their throats.  They regarded me with a dangerous light, a sea of sullen, angry stares.

“Way to go Indulger!” shouted a voice, off to my left, then another echoed it, offering similar sentiments.

I looked out of the corner of my eye.  Ragnarok and some of the others from the fort, swept up somehow to this time and place, their cheers legitimizing my win, making it acceptable that a Bride could fall.

One of the Brides moved up, and I tensed myself, but then she lurched sideways in an exaggerated manner, threw her hands out and screwed up her face in an exaggerated style.

Her colleagues joined in with her mirth, laughing at Manus’ death, taking childish glee in the fall of someone they’d always looked down upon.  I heard variations of ‘sleep alone’ and such amid their mirth, and the dangerous feeling ebbed away.

I looked around, the drugs roiling through me, singing their songs of life to me.  I could feel everything, could hear every voice, somehow see every face.  This was glory.  This was what it was to be alive.  I was at one with myself, a part of the sky and the ground, wholly a part of this moment in time.

I looked down at my hand, and I wiped the stain away.

“Did it help?” asked Lotus, somehow at my side already.  She must have been watching the whole thing.

“Needs more red,” I told her.

Regime Quest 27

Results from Previous round votes:

1 Vote plan TalonOfAnathrax (wins tiebreaker roll….again)

1 Vote plan CCC

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

Winning Plan:

Plan:

[X] Compromise plan

– [X] Seek Information on Snitcher’s Patterns : Active interrogation of Snitches (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 2 on success)

– [X] Relax and Recuperate by visiting entertainment areas (with Owner)

– [X] Smasher : Train the warband in obedience

– [X] Owner : R&R

– [X] Builder : Experiment with turning a (reasonably unconfined) puddle of liquid into a veritable flood. Then having parts of the flood burst up in splashes.

Day 24 Log :

7 AP at start of day (6 at end of last day +1 for half night’s sleep)

-3 Seek info on Snitcher’s patterns (4 AP)

Roll 7, +0 for failure (4 AP)

-1 Relax and Recuperate (entertainment) (3 AP)

Roll 5, +3 for success (6 AP)

Builder Experiment with water

Roll 5, failure

Smasher: Train the Warband

Roll 10, Crit success

End of day, 6 AP

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

Seek info from Snitches:

I hadn’t thought this through all that well.

In my mind, this had been a simple plan.  Snitcher had a number of known snitches, gorgeous girls whose morning endeavors were what I was relying on to keep him distracted.  They should know, if anyone did, some stuff about how he generally operated.

The problem came in getting them to talk about it.  I’d originally been planning to go the eavesdrop route, just kind of idle nearby while they talked to one another and hope that the conversation would get around to their ever present voyeur.

But I had underestimated their celebrity, and what it would do to their behavior.  Girls chosen for their beauty, powerless but shielded by a mighty patron, of course they would be people of interest, fascination even.  I was far from the only Ultra who’d decided to stalk them today.

Their booth formed the center of an invisible ring, the tables immediately around conspicuously more occupied than the remainder of the Company Facility.  I’d taken my place in the ring, sent for food and settled in to eavesdrop.

The problem was simple.  They knew they were being overheard.  They were performing, self consciously selecting every word that passed their lips, every gesture that they made.

I didn’t envy them.  They would have no notion of privacy, no second that was wholly their own.  Leered at by those around them, their own senses spied upon, it must have been a miserable existence.

But one thing it did breed was discretion.

I listened for a few hours, enduring triviality after triviality.  They spoke of nothing of import, nothing whatsoever that might matter.  Their talk was entirely banal, an endless procession of nothings, seemingly calculated to encourage the appetites of their observers.

Eventually a cringing pimp made their way over to me, asking on Snitcher’s behalf if I’d come to engage the services of his girls.  I told him I’d mull it over and departed, still annoyed about the wasted time.

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

Relax and Recuperate (with Owner):

“This is stupid,” I told her.

Owner just gave me a smug grin in response, gesturing back to the impromptu racetrack.

A trio of Ultras were waiting for us.  Grower, Maker and Clawer.  They’d scratched out a flat circle in front of our house, casually blocking traffic in order to mark out a disk approximately ten feet across.

“Did you encourage her?” I asked, suspiciously.

“Nope,” said Grower.  “This was all Owner’s doing.  She’s talked up your boy something big.”

I grimaced, looking down at the things they held in their hands.

Maker and Grower had both brought puppies, or really small dogs.  They hung docilely in their hands, looking without great interest at the world around them.

Clawer had a fox, which was struggling wildly in the hands of his human attendant, scratching him unmercifully.

“You think he’ll stick to the track?” I asked him.

He gave a me a shit eating grin, before tapping one of his claws against the other.

I could probably count that out.  It would be miracle if it was even visible to us a second after he let it go.

“We got this,” whispered Owner.

I looked back to her, frowning.  I had to admit, the competition didn’t exactly look stellar.  But there was one thing holding us back.

“You remember,” I told her carefully, “That Napoleon is a turtle?”

She frowned in response, putting a finger to either side of his head.

“Don’t listen to Blender,” she cautioned the tiny shell creature, “She’s not YOUR Warlord.”

I glared helplessly, though the others seemed to find that hilarious.

“Alright,” said Owner, ignoring my vast dissatisfaction, “Terms are simple.  If you win, I’ll forgive your tabs at my place.  When we win, you owe us a favor.  Everyone ok with that?”

Nods all around, though I didn’t bother, throwing up my hands instead.

They set up their racers, holding each one in place at what they’d just decided was the track’s ‘start’, and Owner started counting down.

“Hold on, hold on,”  I said.

They looked over.

“You don’t even have a finish line marked out!” I pointed out.  “How are you going to know which one wins?”

“I thought you weren’t interested?” asked Owner artlessly, “that you didn’t have any faith in our little guy here?”

“I’m, I mean…” I temporized, trying to figure out just the right way to make her understand.

“You really think it’ll be close enough to need a finish line?” asked Grower, dubiously.

I didn’t, not really, but it was the principle of the thing.  They should be prepared for the eventuality, just in case.  Not even setting one up ahead of time was just asking for a dispute after the fact.

“I’m just saying…” I said, and it was clear that I’d lost all control of this situation.

When all was said and done, Owner’d forgiven all of their tabs, Grower owed her a favor, I somehow owed her a favor, and I’d laughed more than I had since I took the Process.

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

Debrief Posse:

I looked around the room carefully, one more time, reluctant to credit the evidence of my eyes.

Owner was there, conspiratorially feeding Napoleon some kind of race fixing celebratory leaf.

Builder was there, lounging alongside her on their bed, wistfully eyeing a beer can as though doing so would fill it back up.

And Smasher was indisputably there, sitting at my desk and looking out over the room with a serene expression on her face.

“Alright, so I know how Owner spent her day,” I began, “But I guess I still need to know how things went for you all.”

I carefully avoided the phrase ‘report’, and would continue to do so until I figured out Smasher’s mood.  Something was definitely going on there, and it wouldn’t do to set her off somehow.

“I couldn’t really think of anything new to try,” confessed Builder.  “I did mostly the same tests, got mostly the same results.  I add water like I add anything else, about a body’s worth of person at a time, expanding at a slow walking pace.”

“Like she leaves water behind her,” clarified Smasher, “Except it is not behind her and it doesn’t have to be water.”

Well, ‘clarified’ might have been a stretch.

“You couldn’t create great torrents?” I pressed.

She leaned her head to one side, widened her lips a bit in an ‘eh’ gesture.

“Not really,” she said.  “It makes a bit of a puddle, right enough, and I can put more of it in any given place that I can see, but that’s about it.  If there’s something transparent I can pop it, like those bottles and stuff.”

I gave a gruff nod.  I’d been worried about that, but it wasn’t entirely useless.

Nothing about her gift prevented her from making a lot of water, it was just that it would take a lot of time, maybe more than was practical during a fight.  Perhaps if I set it up ahead of time…

Smasher interrupted my musings.

“My stuff went great,” she said, unprompted.

“Oh?” I asked.  “You got the warband trained in obedience?”

She looked confused for a bit.

“Oh, yeah, that,” she said, which wasn’t super encouraging.

“Yeah, I’ve had that for a while now.  The big breakthrough today was that they all got together and talked to me, really let me know how concerned they were for me.”

What?

There were actually tears in the corner of her eyes as she proceeded.

“They’ve come to care about me, they said, and they’d hate for my habits to get the better of me.  They are going to work with me, help me stay sober!  I’m taking back my life.”

I gave a weak grin.

“That’s wonderful,” I said.

“It must have been hard for you,” she went on, “Having to watch me take all those pills, all those drinks.  But no more!”

I kept my grin in place by sheer force of will.

“I’m ready to be the best Ultra I can be.  The Regime, and our girls, deserve no less!”

Fantastic.

 

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

The Plan:

– We should attack on the 28th. We shouldn’t tell anyone about this until about the 25th. This will throw a spanner in the works of any trap they’re planning that requires that they have an idea of when we’re coming.

– If we head over on the 30th, we can expect to ‘coincidentally’ meet a Union patrol partway there who will inflict some damage on us. We should prepare for this possibility, even at our earlier date.

“I like the idea of attacking at a different date from when I tell the troops that we will.  I’m concerned that they may be able to get a signal to King Arthur and his Union buds after we tell them on the 25th.  Maybe I should tell them the night before, or just the day of?”

– Merlin’s invisible troops are, of course, invisible. They are also carrying Knight equipment. Picker’s assassins carried Knight equipment. Hmmm. But what the Knights are asking for in exchange for the use of their equipment is morally completely reprehensible. I can’t countenance that, and would lose my Resistance contact if I did. (I would deserve to lose my Resistance contact if I did that. I would be truly a monster.)

“Yes, very true.  I don’t want to work with Refiner and his pets any more than I have to.”

– I need to bear in mind that Merlin and Arthur might have empowered the same people. That is to say, some of Merlin’s invisible assassins might have Ultra Strength, or Speed, or Toughness. They’re already hitting above their weight – on top of that, they may actually have some weight to hit on top of.

“Very worrying possibility.”

– Another option for dealing with Merlin is to take advantage of KEM. I know where she lives, what she can do and who she cares for; leaving that report on Merlin in the right place should be enough to get her killed outright. However, I shouldn’t use KEM on more than one person. Merlin is a greater threat than Guinevere.

“This is a good idea.  I tried to have KEM kill Merlin once already, hopefully there will be enough time to try again.  I really don’t think I can win the fight if they have invisible warriors.”

– Third option – use Owner to demolish Merlin’s house in the middle of the night (buying and demolishing the property).

“I’d rather use KEM, but this might be a ‘why not both’? situation.”

– Fourth option – take advantage of Builder’s stuff-stretching ability to ensure that our confrontation happens in an ankle-deep flood. Even invisible people can be seen walking through ankle-deep water – if nothing else, by the foot-shaped hollows in the water.

“I guess it couldn’t hurt, but when I remember my past fights and try and imagine looking at the ground constantly to see if footprints are getting closer my immediate reaction is that the person I’m fighting would take that opportunity to hit me.  We’ll try this in the worst case scenario, but I’m dubious.”

– Guinevere is easily handled. I need merely imbue my Posse with fireproof; after that, Smasher can take her out easily. (Ankle-deep water should mess with her, too, by extinguishing a lot of fires).

“My ability doesn’t really work that way, but I can see how I forgot that for a sec.  (out of character, this is a CCC plan, and the clarifications were on the board, not the blog).  My gift adjusts people’s ‘metadata’, a set of 3-4 keywords that define them.  Adding one in, like ‘fireproof’ risks the possibility that the one that falls off will be something like ‘sane’, or ‘mobile’.  I got lucky with Grower and Builder.  If I tried the same thing on 50 people I wouldn’t have fifty fireproof people when I was done, or 50 living people.”

– Lancelot and Arthur are unlikely to be trouble in the final confrontation.

– That giant Union tank, on the other hand, is a problem (and not a small one). But Builder should be able to deal with it; her power works at any range. She can close off any gun barrels by extending the barrel material _inwards_, she can mess up the engine by making the internals just grow crazy spikes everywhere, and so on. Once she can see it, she can ruin it utterly – and probably without even leaving any external sign of her sabotage, so it can all be blamed on the Union being idiots.

“Builder can wreck it very fast as soon as she can see it, though she can’t grow stuff on the internals unless she can see into it.  But adding stuff to the outside where she can see it will rapidly render the tank unusable.  I like this idea.”

– If the Ar Harbour team don’t want to come out and fight, we can draw them out by taking hostages. from the people they care for. This strategy is unpleasant and distasteful, but it will work, and will draw them away from buildings. Moreover, I don’t actually need to permanently harm the hostages, not if I’m threatening enough.

“It sounds like I am allowed to wreck the place as long as we fix it, and I’m also really not loving the idea of taking hostages.”

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

 

Day 25:

Days remaining: 6

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

Non AP Action: Swap in a new plan.  You write in a new plan, I’ll give you Mia’s assessment of it.  If you don’t do this then the existing one will be executed.  The plan that is in force when its execution date arrives will be used for the actual battle, though there may be mid battle votes that could alter it in process.

Walter Note: I’m leaving up Mia’s assessment from last round since the plan was not changed this round

Walter extra Note: If you do not change the plan this round you will tell your Posse today (the 25th) about moving the attack to the 28th.

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Smasher : Timeslot Available: morning or afternoon, but not both

Posse: 3 or 3 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 45

Condition: Healthy

[spoiler=Ultras]

 

(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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/spoiler]

 

[spoiler=Actions]

Actions:

[ ] Accept Refiner’s Bargain (Timeslot cost: 0, AP cost 4, auto succeed)

Motive: His blessed weapons and armor would be a massive force multiplier for our group.  He might also send along Knight backup.  He would be a powerful additional patron.

Concerns: I would be responsible for a massacre in the immediate aftermath, or be killed by Second Fist if I backed out.  Subtracter would also likely perceive this alliance as an attempt at weaseling out from under her command, so I’d have to tread very carefully to avoid offending her.

 

[ ] 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  competence. 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

 

[ ] Action: Direct the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful)

Motive: If I need to set my warband in motion, give them a project or whatever, it is as simple as telling them to jump.  My will is their command.

-[ ] Let [Posse Member] Supervise, takes up the Posse Member’s action, modifies success chance based on which Posse member it is, and which action

 

[ ] Action: Train the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful) [Requires a timeslot from the teacher, who should probably be an Ultra combatant]

Motive: Yard Ultras are fierce, but undisciplined.  They are warriors, not soldiers.  I can get better outcomes if I teach them some basics.

-[ ] In Ultra Combat (Gives bonuses on their battle rolls)

-[ ] In anti firearm maneuvers (Makes them suffer less casualties under fire)

-[ ] In obedience (makes them more likely to obey my orders)

 

[ ] 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.

Smasher Actions:

[ ] Recuperate [Timeslot cost All]

Description: Smasher hangs on the edge of death.  Her body and gift will try to knit her back together each day.

 

Owner Actions:

[ ] Acquire Funds [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner takes action to get more and more valuable assets within our world, increasing her overall funding, hopefully permitting her gift’s actions to be swifter and larger in impact. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Change Company [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner presently runs a package store, located in downtown Washington.  She has, as near as I can estimate, a low six figures saved up.  With this action I can direct her to acquire licenses, expand locations, purchase other businesses, or perform similar deeds, all based around changing the operation and activities of her imaginary franchise. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Company Action [ Timeslot cost 2]

Description: This is a catchall action for anything I might think of that could let Owner impact the main battle in Ar Harbor.  Buying up local real estate and demolishing it on a certain date seems like the obvious course of action, but there are a lot of other fringe ideas that I’ve been entertaining. [Requires Write In clarification on how to do this.  The first Action spent on this is about Owner doing tests to make sure this effort will work, the second actually kicks off whatever changes I want in the imaginary world.]

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 9:2

“You want me to believe,” she said,  “that you are trying to aid the Union?”

I looked over to Aesop and Patra, nodded politely in response to another of their conversational sallies.

“Obviously,” I responded.

“Then why didn’t you defect?” she charged.  “Why are you in the Regime, working for Prevailer?  Are you going to pretend that there has never been a moment, not in all your long life, where you could slip away and join us?”

I thought about a few answers to this.  About how every time we ran into the Union we had encountered hostility, or about how their presence in the Regime’s lands was limited to drone strikes and special forces.

“Because I could do more good from the inside than I could as one more soldier in the Union, of course,” was what I ended up going with.

“Really?  And what good have you actually done?” she came back with.

This was essentially what I’d been expecting, but that didn’t mean that she was predictable or dumb.  The world’s greatest mathematician would tell you that 2+2 was four, after all.

“I helped Kill Every Monster get rid of Linker and Snitcher,” I told her.  “Which is the only reason a Fist can get as far off the reservation as we presently are.  It also means that other traitors have a free hand, and that She can’t remake the Fists if any should fall.”

I wasn’t going to tell her that our Link had already been broken, not yet, but basically everything else was going to be on the table.  I needed General Greggs on my side for any of this to work.

“I know that Snitcher died…” she said, slowly.  “I’ve seen no evidence that the Links are gone, however.”

I gave a wry smile, knowing that she’d feel my face forming it as though it were her own, which would have much the same influence as seeing it.

“His works outlived him, we’ve discovered.  Much to my chagrin, and much to my benefit.”

“You’d have me believe that you intended to lose your Link?” she charged.  “That you’d throw aside immortality?”

I nodded to myself.

Repeating ‘Obviously’ would have been lazy, and it would have reinforced the notion of her versus me.  I needed us on the same side, which meant the less calling attention to correcting her I had to do the better.

“Tell me about the shells,” I asked Aesop, taking a break from my internal conversation to let the General regroup for another round.

She brightened immediately, happy to talk about her specialty.

“I make em,” she said, proudly, “Just wave my hand and conjure them.  They are simple life forms, just sit there and eat the stuff that touches them.  My name came from the fact that there was an old time God that did something like that.”

I couldn’t even begin to imagine how that interepretation had come about, but it wasn’t something I immediately needed to pursue.

Instead, I looked over to Patra.

“And your gift…” I prompted her.

“I can change minds and bodies,” she told me.  “So I warp the shells into fighting forms, give them the instincts that they need to battle.  I base most of them on animals, like dogs or stuff.  Four legs, sharp front part, bit reflex.  Most of the work is done.”

“Delightful!” I responded.  “I can see why you two are held in such high esteem.  Zilla’s praise is well deserved, I dare say.”

They both preened a bit under my flattery, but mostly I was just putting the ‘I talk with Zilla’ seed down.  I wasn’t sure who knew that she was dead, and the longer I could borrow her authority the better.

“And what is your gift, dear?” asked Aesop.  “What impressed Vampire enough that she sent you to work with us?”

I bowed my head modestly.

“I can capture minds from humans, put them to work on my behalf.  It’s a trite trick, I know, but it should keep you from having to do most of the mind work, Patra.”

They fell over themselves to reassure me that my gift was no mere trick, that it sounded like a great thing indeed to them, and that it would be a welcome respite from their labors.

Their dynamic wasn’t hard to suss out.  They bragged backwards was all, performative humility in order to avoid the status games of the more combative Goddesses.  It probably helped them avoid some degree of harm in an environment where the Brides were utterly overturning the status quo.

“Have you ever tried actual dogs?” I asked.  “Human sized brains or what have you, but things that look basically like dogs?”

They looked puzzled.

“Would that be very scary?” asked Patra.  “I usually make like bone wolves or things that look kind of like crocodiles but are always on fire.  Even those mostly just get blown up.  I don’t think basic dogs will be frightening at all to the Union.”

I put a finger to my lip in a conspiratorial manner.

“Exactly!” I said, “I knew you two would see the possibilities.  I’m impressed you got it so fast.”

They both laughed softly, awkwardly.

Letting them let me think they knew what I meant was an element of conspiracy between us, one that would build trust.  It would make them less suspicious of me, since they’d ‘fooled’ me once already.

“As you’ve pointed out,” I continued.  “They won’t fear these creatures.  We can use these false dogs to scout around and spy on them.  Everyone loves dogs, and I’ve seen enough of them running around to know that they are one of the more common forms of wildlife.  It will be a great trick to play on the Union, they’ll never suspect something that doesn’t look strong to be a part of the Pantheon!”

They nodded along, with Aesop emitting another chuckle.

“You are going to put me in a dog?” asked the General, her tone somewhere between horrified and intrigued.

“Would you prefer a crocodile man?” I answered, “But ultimately, no.  I’m hoping that by the time we send you out I’ve worked them around to ‘human body’, with the idea that these people shaped shells will be the best for infiltration.”

It might have been my imagination, but it felt like the silence this time had a more measured texture to it.  Like she pondering instead of fuming.

“Earlier,” she eventually said, “You talked about an apocalypse, about the end times.  Could you give me some more details on why you’ve come to believe that?”

I gave a broad grin.

“A consequentialist decision,” I responded, “It is valuable to you to know why I am taking the actions that I am, regardless of whether or not you ultimately decide to believe me.  I praise both your choice, and the spirit in which it was made.”

She didn’t say anything in response to this, so I gathered myself up and went on with the pitch.

“Condemner, one of the members of my Fist, has become sensitive to matters beyond our world.  All Ultras are in contact with beings of a higher, or lower, or whatever reality.  That’s where our gifts come from, these ‘more real’ beings.  Most of them are unconscious within us, supplying us gifts in exchange for memories, but his was jogged to wakefulness by the repeated deaths and resurrections that are entailed in Fist work.”

I paused again, chuckling along to one of Aesop’s interminable jokes as I considered how to phrase the next part.

“I get that that sounds crazy, the idea that my Fist would be the first to discover this, but it is less unreasonable if you consider that the number of Ultras susceptible to being woken like this is a terribly low fraction of the total, and that their number are disproportionately male.  If their numbers are one or two percent, then it is easy to think that the six Fists before us might not have had one, or might have covered it up.”

“I believe you,” she said.  “Or at least, I believe that you believe this.  Go one.”

“If you’ve accepted this much, then the rest is easy.  These angels or outsiders or whatever you want to call them, they aren’t going to continue forever.  Remover, of First Fist, is trying to make them all end their game by killing all the human hosts.  If she fails to do that then she’ll take action in their reality, probably, and that will be the end of the Ultras.”

”What do you mean?” she asked, immediately.  “Can you clarify at all?”

I shook my head slowly, working it into the ongoing conversation I was having in the real world.

“I believe that there will be no grand changes to the status quo until after Remover succeeds or fails with her plan.  I believe that what we are living through right now is that plan.  I intend to thwart it.  But as to what comes next…”

I shrugged.

”It might be that the Ultrahumans simply lose our gifts, as the beings that granted them are woken up and pulled away from their game.  It might be that we will die, as we are damaged or destroyed by whatever process is used to remove the entity granting our gifts.  It might even be that nothing like that happens, and they simply stop powering the Process and let the existing Ultras finish up naturally, however many years that takes.  The only thing I’ve grasped is that from their side things will end.  It isn’t clear exactly how that plays out for us, in the scenario where there are still any of us around.”

She was silent for a long while.  I busied myself with small talk and chit chat, working to ingratiate myself into Aesop and Patra’s dynamic.

“So you think Remover’s plan is the war,” she said, eventually, “And the ensuing devastation.  You are working to help the Union win the war, and expect that after we do so the Ultra problem will just solve itself?”

I couldn’t help myself, an actual chuckle burst out of my lips.

Tribalism was almighty.  Even to someone like the general, even after what I’d just said, it was so hard to put those lenses aside.

“The Union can’t win the war,” I told her plainly.  “It is manifestly impossible.  I’m hoping to make the devastation a little less intense, then head back to the Regime and defeat First Fist.”

“The hell we can’t!” she snarled back, instantly. “Just because my force lost doesn’t mean that the next battle will go the same way.  The Intervention Groups were just a small portion of our Union’s total strength.”

I had the momentary thought that we’d come a long way from name, rank and serial number if she was willing to brag about Union strengths, but it didn’t seem useful to vocalize.

“You might beat Vampire,” I allowed.  “As you said, there will be a lot more Union troops in the next battle, and you’ve gathered a lot of data on them besides.  But Zeus is coming along after them.  Zeus, and nine hundred more Brides.”

It had been one of the first things we’d picked up on our way through the camps.  The true number of the Brides was an overwhelming thousand.

She fell silent yet again.  I suspect that she’d known, on some level, about the Brides.  Scout reports or whatever, they’d be available to a commander of her rank.  But she likely hadn’t thought about it since she’d actually seen them on the field, actually witnessed them shredding their enemies without any difficulty.

“So why are you helping us at all?” she asked.  “Why bother with this current effort, if you think the only thing that matters is taking out First Fist?”

It was a fair point.

“I’m hedging my bets,” I said.  “I’m going to try my very best to get those people in my reserve, you among them, who can make a difference after the end of the Ultras off here.  Get you hidden in the countryside, a little egg of civilization.  Then I’m going overseas to take her on.”

She kept at me.

“But if you expect to beat her, then why-“

I cut her off.

“I don’t.  At all.  The odds are miniscule.”

Once again I’d stunned her into silence.  It wasn’t easy to change your perceptions of people, most people couldn’t do it at all, but I was hoping that’s what she was doing right now.  I was certainly doing the best I could to prompt it.

“Why couldn’t you win?” she asked.  “You are both Fists, right?”

I grinned ruefully.

“The world has danced to her tune for most of my life.  When she started she was a tiny figure among billions, now we die in droves while she and her crew slack off.  She’s got something.  Maybe precognition from being an awoken outsider.  Maybe some hidden gift that no one knows about, but she is just too successful for there not to be an X factor.  I expect we’ll be stopped somehow.”

“Then why…”

She floundered a bit.

“Like I said at the start,” I responded, “I’m a consequentialist.  I’m doing the best I can to bring about a future where there are living human beings.  If I’m right, and Remover is unstoppable, then it doesn’t matter what I do, so I might as well proceed on the assumption that I’m not right about that. This ‘lifeboat’ scheme of mine, passing humans from the past into the present in the hopes that they’ll restart civilization after the Ultras are gone, it is one try.  Attacking First Fist is another try.  I’m going for both . I don’t think that either is likely to work, but I think the union of these efforts give me better odds than either one alone, or of anything else I’ve thought of so far.”

She digested that for a moment, I heard her start and stop a few sentences before they could get to the comprehensible level, a process just this side of stuttering.

“Ok,” she said, “So as far as I am concerned, what you want from me is to try and get your passengers, myself among them, safely into the Union’s embrace and keep us alive through what comes next?”

I tapped my fingers against one another, a gesture that was supposed to mime applause but ended up actually resembling a villainous finger steeple.

“Exactly,” I responded, “Keep them and yourself away from anything military if you must, that’s fine.  Nothing I’m asking from you could possibly hurt the Union.  I’m just hoping you can think of a way to get my shades past drones and snipers and out of the battle.  You keep them alive and I’ll do my best to slow down or stop Vampire.  That’s the best that you can do for your country right now.”

“And after?” she asked.  “You are going to want transportation back to the Regime?  You are counting on me to arrange that?”

“It would be nice,” I allowed, “But if you can’t swing it that isn’t a deal breaker.  There isn’t really a ‘deal’ at all.  I’m going to do what I think is right regardless, but I’m strongly hoping that you will take a new body as a ‘sorry I killed you’ gesture, and not hold any resentment you might have towards me against the others you’ll be trying to save.  All I need from you is your best effort to protect the shades in my keeping that I embody with you, and for you to do your best to keep them and yourself alive through whatever comes next.”

A final silence, perhaps the longest of the conversation.  I had time to go back and forth with Patra a few times, they were getting ready to start another monster up.

“I think,” she finally said, “That I can do a little better than that.”

 

Regime Quest 26

Results from Previous round votes:

2 Vote plan Fireproof

1 Vote plan CCC

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

Winning Plan:

Plan:

[X] Plan Fireproof

-[X] Assign Assassination mission : Merlin [Timeslot cost 1, AP cost 3, returns 1 on success, can only be done in the morning, uncertain Snitcher risk]. If possible, tell them to kill her on the 27th or 28th, a few days before “we attack”.

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

-[X] Owner: Buy fireproof fabric (AFAIK it’s usually asbestos-derivative). It’s usually readily available to fight fires, and you can buy a “fire blanket” quite easily in any decent-sized city.

-[X] Builder: Make our vehicles fireproof using the stuff Owner just got. If possible, make clothes out of it, or make the existing bulletproof ponchos fireproof.

-[X] Smasher: Train the Warband: In obedience (makes them more likely to obey my orders)

Day 23 Log :

4 AP at start of day (3 at end of last day +1 for half night’s sleep)

-3 Assign Assassination mission : Merlin (1 AP)

Roll 7, +1 for success (2 AP)

-1 Relax and Recuperate (entertainment) (1 AP)

Roll 10, +5 for critical success (6 AP)

Builder Discover fireproof pattern

Roll 7, success

Owner: Buy fireproof fabric

Roll 3, indeterminate

Smasher: Train the Warband

Roll 4, success

End of day, 6 AP

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

Assign Assassination Mission:

I sat nervously in the corner booth, ‘studying’ the target information for Merlin.

I’d long since memorized it, of course, or at least all of the important information.  When your life was on the line, you put that kind of basic effort in.

Or at least, I did.  But the Ultras of the Regime had a different culture, and for one of them it would be entirely plausible to still be reading up on this type of target details.  Heck, it would probably be entirely plausible for a typical Ultra to be moving their lips while they tried to read it.

My red pen was hard at work.  I made meaningless notations, circled unimportant words, etc.  It was a gift from Owner, and it lent a little verisimilitude to my performance.  It also gave me something to do, kept me from feeling like I was just sitting there.

The failure of my last handoff had unnerved me a little.  I’d taken it for granted that KEM would be there when I called, that if I could just manage the issue of Snitcher I would be able to borrow their power.

But the world wasn’t so convenient.  Things that might once have been routine, simple handoffs, communications, were nowadays fraught with tension and danger.  The courier might have died, his cell been rolled up.  I might have been disavowed, my service to the Regime rendering me no longer a fellow traveler to KEM.  All sorts of terrible possibilities.

But there were also a lot of simple ones.  Miscommunications, inconveniences…these were also rife in the present day.  There was no call to jump to a despairing conclusion.

Too many people gave up after one failure.  They took plans that had nearly worked and scrapped them entirely.  It was a sickness, a weakness, and it was one that I didn’t share.

I’d given the signal, and I’d received the countersignal.  Only the handoff remained.

I took a last long look around the room, letting my eyes range over the other patrons.  I’d been hoping that KEM would send someone I’d recognized, but I couldn’t place any of the humans.  If I’d ever seen them before, it certainly hadn’t been during any cooperation with KEM.

I got up, dropping my pen down across the papers that I’d spread across the table.  It was a nonchalant movement, utterly casual.  I stalked off to the restroom with the natural assurance of an Ultra, entirely convinced that no one would mess with my property while I was gone.

The trick of it was, no one would. While I was doing my business my contact wasn’t going to steal the papers, or do anything similarly blatant.  They would use a mystical relic of a bygone age.

To wit, a simple cell phone, and its associated camera.

While I was gone someone would walk on by, holding a small black rectangle under the bottom of a book or a plate, recording the contents of the target dossier, and also all of the marks that I’d made.

They’d looked meaningless, of course, but their number and placement should convey my message.  It was, roughly, ‘kill this person, on the 27th  or as soon after as you can.”

There was no sign of a disturbance when I returned to my booth.  No sign that anything had transpired.  Nothing for Snitcher to become suspicious of, but if all had gone as planned I’d just killed Merlin and insured my ultimate victory.

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

Relax and Recuperate:

It was an odd coincidence that had saved the Shington museum from the fate of so many other buildings.

It had been closed for renovations during the takeover proper, and quickly occupied by transition authorities immediately after the surrender.  Fear of the Regime had kept it from looting and desecration, but it had remained outside of the Layer’s inner workings, never meaningfully occupied by anyone in Her Inner Circle.

There had been minor damage, of course.  The sort of thing that happened to buildings left to seed in a fallen age, but nothing calamitous.  The most famous paintings had been stolen, the exhibits that glorified the old world had been smashed, but the majority of the Museum had simply been left to rot.

Its first real use in the modern age was as a meeting place and illicit shelter, a convenient harbor for humans who lacked the powerful patrons necessary to live in the city and also the ruthlessness and cunning needful to survive outside.

That hadn’t lasted, of course, but the Ultras who’d removed them had been gentle, had appreciated, on some level, the unspoiled nature of the place.  They’d told their friends, and it had become a bit of a hangout spot for the city’s Ultras.

It had always appealed to me.  Relics of the old world always did, but this one was special.  The works of artists, the discoveries of scientists…it was like a celebration of all that had once been, all that we could no longer accomplish.

I walked within it, letting my eyes drift from object to object, from wall to wall.  I had no real objective, no greater purpose here.  I had come simply to remind myself of what I am, of who I am.

I stop before one particular exhibit.  A simple plaque remains, describing a particular particle collider.  We’d spun it up in order to get insight into the true nature of reality, in order to see deeper into the fabric of what was.

The plaque was just as it always was, but the stuff behind it had been wrecked.  The colored balls that had been used to teach children about the fundamentals of their world had been rearranged into a facsimile of genitalia.  The different color glass panes that visitors had peered through had been broken and shattered.  The plaque stood before pointless ruin and devastation.

This was a special place to me.  Snitcher would never get it.  He’d see only a Warlord staring at one of the Regime’s conquests.  But that wasn’t what I saw.  The Regime’s power, its destruction and ravaging, was only skin deep.

They’d broken the exhibit, they’d trashed a child’s lesson.  But the truth remained.  The particles that were described hadn’t been touched.  The Ultras, Her, this whole nightmare, we were a passing affliction.  When the last monster had been killed there would still be particles, still be children to learn about them.

I left revitalized, my inner fires banked and my strength restored.

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

Debrief Posse:

“Everything worked out today?” I asked, not with any real expectation of contradiction.

Owner’s gift could be finnicky, certainly, but this seemed like it was right up her alley, and Builder’s task wasn’t exactly brain surgery either.

Instead they looked uneasily to one another for a moment.

I looked back and forth between them, letting the silence linger.

Finally Owner broke up.

“Yeah…probably,” she said.

“Probably?” I asked.

“I also said ‘yeah’,” she pointed out.  “Why do you always get hung up on the small stuff?”

I clenched my lips and stared holes in her.

“We are about to put our lives on the line,” I told her, underlining each word.  “We could die in a week.  Do you understand that?  The whole story of your life, it might just up and end if we don’t do our very best.  And you are giving me ‘probably’?”

“I think I bought it!” she insisted.  “I’m pretty sure it is in my inventory, but I forgot to get it delivered anywhere, so it hasn’t showed up in our world yet.  Its an easy fix, I can get it delivered tomorrow!”

I didn’t bother to tell her that I’d had other plans for her tomorrow.  Instead I looked over at Builder.

“I suppose that with no material to hand you pretty much wasted the day?” I asked, my tone defeated.

“Huh?” she said, “No, I just found some fireproof stuff at the old fire station and used that.  Nobody ever bothered to scavenge up everything in there, just the intact stuff.  I didn’t have any trouble finding material to use when the time came to learn the pattern.”

I grinned.  It was nice to remember that surprises could be pleasant just as easily as they could be dangerous.

“How’d Smasher do?” I asked Owner, trying to take back some of my earlier harshness by putting the conversation back on a casual level.

She brightened immediately.

“She did great,” she said.  “Or at least that’s what she claimed.  Said the survivors would think twice before they disobeyed us.”

I winced.

“How many-“

“Only one!” broke in Builder.  “I get that that’s one too many, but she said it was the only way to make them understand.  She killed the one that she thought was most responsible for what happened earlier.”

I ground my teeth together, but said nothing.

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

The Plan:

– We should attack on the 28th. We shouldn’t tell anyone about this until about the 25th. This will throw a spanner in the works of any trap they’re planning that requires that they have an idea of when we’re coming.

– If we head over on the 30th, we can expect to ‘coincidentally’ meet a Union patrol partway there who will inflict some damage on us. We should prepare for this possibility, even at our earlier date.

“I like the idea of attacking at a different date from when I tell the troops that we will.  I’m concerned that they may be able to get a signal to King Arthur and his Union buds after we tell them on the 25th.  Maybe I should tell them the night before, or just the day of?”

– Merlin’s invisible troops are, of course, invisible. They are also carrying Knight equipment. Picker’s assassins carried Knight equipment. Hmmm. But what the Knights are asking for in exchange for the use of their equipment is morally completely reprehensible. I can’t countenance that, and would lose my Resistance contact if I did. (I would deserve to lose my Resistance contact if I did that. I would be truly a monster.)

“Yes, very true.  I don’t want to work with Refiner and his pets any more than I have to.”

– I need to bear in mind that Merlin and Arthur might have empowered the same people. That is to say, some of Merlin’s invisible assassins might have Ultra Strength, or Speed, or Toughness. They’re already hitting above their weight – on top of that, they may actually have some weight to hit on top of.

“Very worrying possibility.”

– Another option for dealing with Merlin is to take advantage of KEM. I know where she lives, what she can do and who she cares for; leaving that report on Merlin in the right place should be enough to get her killed outright. However, I shouldn’t use KEM on more than one person. Merlin is a greater threat than Guinevere.

“This is a good idea.  I tried to have KEM kill Merlin once already, hopefully there will be enough time to try again.  I really don’t think I can win the fight if they have invisible warriors.”

– Third option – use Owner to demolish Merlin’s house in the middle of the night (buying and demolishing the property).

“I’d rather use KEM, but this might be a ‘why not both’? situation.”

– Fourth option – take advantage of Builder’s stuff-stretching ability to ensure that our confrontation happens in an ankle-deep flood. Even invisible people can be seen walking through ankle-deep water – if nothing else, by the foot-shaped hollows in the water.

“I guess it couldn’t hurt, but when I remember my past fights and try and imagine looking at the ground constantly to see if footprints are getting closer my immediate reaction is that the person I’m fighting would take that opportunity to hit me.  We’ll try this in the worst case scenario, but I’m dubious.”

– Guinevere is easily handled. I need merely imbue my Posse with fireproof; after that, Smasher can take her out easily. (Ankle-deep water should mess with her, too, by extinguishing a lot of fires).

“My ability doesn’t really work that way, but I can see how I forgot that for a sec.  (out of character, this is a CCC plan, and the clarifications were on the board, not the blog).  My gift adjusts people’s ‘metadata’, a set of 3-4 keywords that define them.  Adding one in, like ‘fireproof’ risks the possibility that the one that falls off will be something like ‘sane’, or ‘mobile’.  I got lucky with Grower and Builder.  If I tried the same thing on 50 people I wouldn’t have fifty fireproof people when I was done, or 50 living people.”

– Lancelot and Arthur are unlikely to be trouble in the final confrontation.

– That giant Union tank, on the other hand, is a problem (and not a small one). But Builder should be able to deal with it; her power works at any range. She can close off any gun barrels by extending the barrel material _inwards_, she can mess up the engine by making the internals just grow crazy spikes everywhere, and so on. Once she can see it, she can ruin it utterly – and probably without even leaving any external sign of her sabotage, so it can all be blamed on the Union being idiots.

“Builder can wreck it very fast as soon as she can see it, though she can’t grow stuff on the internals unless she can see into it.  But adding stuff to the outside where she can see it will rapidly render the tank unusable.  I like this idea.”

– If the Ar Harbour team don’t want to come out and fight, we can draw them out by taking hostages. from the people they care for. This strategy is unpleasant and distasteful, but it will work, and will draw them away from buildings. Moreover, I don’t actually need to permanently harm the hostages, not if I’m threatening enough.

“It sounds like I am allowed to wreck the place as long as we fix it, and I’m also really not loving the idea of taking hostages.”

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

 

Day 24:

Days remaining: 7

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

Non AP Action: Swap in a new plan.  You write in a new plan, I’ll give you Mia’s assessment of it.  If you don’t do this then the existing one will be executed.  The plan that is in force when its execution date arrives will be used for the actual battle, though there may be mid battle votes that could alter it in process.

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Smasher : Timeslot Available: morning

Posse: 3 or 3 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 45

Condition: Healthy

[spoiler=Ultras]

 

(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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/spoiler]

 

[spoiler=Actions]

Actions:

[ ] Accept Refiner’s Bargain (Timeslot cost: 0, AP cost 4, auto succeed)

Motive: His blessed weapons and armor would be a massive force multiplier for our group.  He might also send along Knight backup.  He would be a powerful additional patron.

Concerns: I would be responsible for a massacre in the immediate aftermath, or be killed by Second Fist if I backed out.  Subtracter would also likely perceive this alliance as an attempt at weaseling out from under her command, so I’d have to tread very carefully to avoid offending her.

 

[ ] 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  competence. 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

 

[ ] Action: Direct the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful)

Motive: If I need to set my warband in motion, give them a project or whatever, it is as simple as telling them to jump.  My will is their command.

-[ ] Let [Posse Member] Supervise, takes up the Posse Member’s action, modifies success chance based on which Posse member it is, and which action

 

[ ] Action: Train the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful) [Requires a timeslot from the teacher, who should probably be an Ultra combatant]

Motive: Yard Ultras are fierce, but undisciplined.  They are warriors, not soldiers.  I can get better outcomes if I teach them some basics.

-[ ] In Ultra Combat (Gives bonuses on their battle rolls)

-[ ] In anti firearm maneuvers (Makes them suffer less casualties under fire)

-[ ] In obedience (makes them more likely to obey my orders)

 

[ ] 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.

Smasher Actions:

[ ] Recuperate [Timeslot cost All]

Description: Smasher hangs on the edge of death.  Her body and gift will try to knit her back together each day.

 

Owner Actions:

[ ] Acquire Funds [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner takes action to get more and more valuable assets within our world, increasing her overall funding, hopefully permitting her gift’s actions to be swifter and larger in impact. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Change Company [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner presently runs a package store, located in downtown Washington.  She has, as near as I can estimate, a low six figures saved up.  With this action I can direct her to acquire licenses, expand locations, purchase other businesses, or perform similar deeds, all based around changing the operation and activities of her imaginary franchise. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Company Action [ Timeslot cost 2]

Description: This is a catchall action for anything I might think of that could let Owner impact the main battle in Ar Harbor.  Buying up local real estate and demolishing it on a certain date seems like the obvious course of action, but there are a lot of other fringe ideas that I’ve been entertaining. [Requires Write In clarification on how to do this.  The first Action spent on this is about Owner doing tests to make sure this effort will work, the second actually kicks off whatever changes I want in the imaginary world.]

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 9:1

The Grand Host’s ‘healers’, the subject of my own particular mania for a while now, were nothing much to look at.

They weren’t Brides, they weren’t obviously mutated or exalted by their gifts.  The objects of my quest looked pretty exactly like the random savages that they were.

Aesop was a younger woman, stick thin, whose eyes didn’t exactly point the same way.  She had a nervous, rat like way about her, and her hand never strayed too far away from the gun tucked into her rope belt.

Patra was older, and she had the perfect human body that one might expect of a preternaturally gifted Ultra healer.  Not an ounce of fat, a sculpted form akin to what I had once seen in the Olympics.

“Don’t get up,” I told them as I settled down beside them on their platform.

The Jury let me know that they hadn’t exactly been about to, but it was about controlling expectations, setting the right tone, etc.

“You are that Regime person?” asked Aesop.  “The one who will be programming our shells?”

“Yes,” I responded, not trying to figure out how they got ‘programming’ despite their society having no computers.

“I can’t wait to see this,” said Patra.  “It’ll be a huge time saver to have a third member of our little crew.  We waste a lot of time building in the ‘go attack outsiders’ drive over and over again.  If you can handle that then our output will go through the roof.”

“That’s just when we are making monsters,” said Aesop, jumping in before I got a chance.  “We obviously don’t need you to give us minds when we are healing our fellows, or the Brides, haha.”

The laugh at the end was more spoken than real.

“I understand,” I responded.  “I’ll only impose upon you when your other duties permit.”

“Nice,” said Patra.

We sat in companionable silence for a moment.

“These are your comrades now?” asked General Greggs, in the privacy of the reserve.  “You have the liberty of this vile assembly, and you seek out their support staff?”

I’d given her essentially free reign, she could speak whenever she liked, as long as I wasn’t speaking.  I’d need her cooperation, ultimately, and I needed her to engage if I was to get that.

“They are people,” I said, simply, “and I believe that speaking to them is the best thing that I can do right now.”

“They are people,” she repeated, with derision clear in her voice, “Say that out loud, I dare you.  These ‘Gods’ have long since forfeited all rights to the title.  They are animals, and very soon they will be killed like it.  I hope you are too.”

I remained silent in the fact of that, concentrating on nodding agreeably as Aesop and Patra slipped back into what were clearly the well worn grooves of a long friendship.

“Did that surprise you, Regimer?” she asked, after a moment or two of me not answering.  “Did you think that as soon as I was trapped in your gift I’d switch sides, betray my people just because I’ll die alongside you?”

I considered that, even as I spared a thought for the hundreds who’d been silenced so that Greggs and I could have this conversation.  It would be easy to blame her for them, but unfair.  I’d made that decision.  I was the reason that they weren’t shouting her down right now.

What I wanted from the general couldn’t be accomplished by bullying or bluster. I wanted a meeting of the minds, a convergence of ethics, ultimately giving rise to real cooperation.  I wanted her to join me on my quest, and that wasn’t something that could be forced upon the unwilling.

“You think I’ll break if you just ignore me?” she asked, scornfully.  “You don’t think we had a bit of counter interrogation training in the world’s foremost military?  That we never heard of the silent treatment?”

“I don’t want to break you,” I told her.  “That would take a long time, and then you’d be broken.  I need you whole, and I’ll go to any pains I have to in order to keep you that way.”

“What the fuck?” she asked.  “You shot me in the head!”

I gave a tired sigh, which brought some insincere commiseration from the healers.  I assured them that it wasn’t anything serious.

“I’m a consequentialist,” I said.  “To my core, bone deep.  It has been beaten into me over decades.  I’m afraid I just don’t respect deontological imperatives at all anymore, taboos don’t hold for me.  I judge my actions based on the outcomes that they bring about, and I never act lightly.  If you want me to feel guilty for something, then you need to show me the undesirable outcome that it produced, and convince me that I missed another action that would have led to a better one.”

She’d tried to interrupt in there, but I’d muted her while I talked.  It was a gentle use of my gift, but I felt in some obscure way that I’d lost by doing it.

Still, I had to.  We’d never get anywhere if we tripped over one another’s sentences.  It was too easy for arguments like that to rage on for hours, no one ever getting a cogent point across.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?  I mean, in real terms?  Like, ok, I guess to put it in your terms the consequences that I want you to be sorry for are that a hole appeared in my head and my brains and blood leaked out.  Thanks so much for making me put it like that.  That’s way clearer than saying that you shot me.”

I let her sarcasm wash over me, chuckling lightly in response to one of Aesop’s anecdotes.

“The consequences were as you say, I admit, but I’d like to point out that another one is that you are here with me.  We are together, side by side, having this conversation within my skull.  If I had left you there, then you would still be dead.  There would still be a hole in your head, or in your heart.  Some Goddess would have wrung the blood from you like a rag, in a desperate attempt to gain Vampire’s favor, and you would be gone.”

It was her turn to let me think on it for a bit.  She stayed silent for a solid minute or so after that one.

I wasn’t dumb enough to think that my words might have had any impact already.  I was still the enemy, she was still trying to ‘win’ the conversation.  If she was staying quiet then it was only because she was setting something up.

“And did it occur to you,” she asked, her voice lower now, solemn “that I might have preferred that?  Did you ever stop to think that maybe the reason I didn’t beg you for this salvation is that I had no desire for it?”

Unless she’d kept up on her briefings with maniacal ferocity I doubted she’d even realized who I was during our brief interaction.

I let the point stand, however.  Disputing it would have gained me nothing.

“I understand that,” I said.  “But I’m a consequentialist, remember?  I believe that you alive and angry about it is better for the future than you being dead, and unfortunately for you, I was the one who got to make the choice.”

She gave an incoherent shout of anger at that, then immediately snarled at me.

“Oh wow another Ultrahuman who believes that their gift makes their choices the only ones that matter, the only ones which hold any weight.  Have you ever thought, for the smallest fraction of a second, that maybe the reason that the Union is so much better than the hellholes you crawl out of is exactly that belief?  That our miraculous ability to not be shitheads to one another might stem from the fact that we managed to leave ‘might makes right’ in the ashes of history where it belongs?”

My lips tensed in a small smile, almost without me even realizing it.  Had I ever been so young, so passionate?  I must have been.  We all must have been.

“Force doesn’t rule the world?” I asked, in a playful tone, making utter mock of her fury, “You didn’t just lose a battle to a girl too dumb to read?  You aren’t locked in my head right now?  I’m relieved to hear it.  Do you know what I might do in order to wake myself up from this terrible dream I seem to be having?”

The key word there was terrible.  I needed to sneak myself onto her side at the same time as I worked her through this stuff.  ‘Us against the barbarian world’ was the basic frame I was looking for, but it wasn’t going to be easy.

“Fuck you!” she snarled.

I let that sit there for a bit, tuned back into the healer’s discussion.

“So, if my part doesn’t take any time at all, about how many monsters do you think you can make in a day?” I asked.

“Dozens,” said Patra, “Maybe many dozens.”

“I’ll just keep popping out shells,” said Aesop, “She’s got the hard part, changing them all into strong fighters.”

I gave a careful nod, pretending to consider her words for a while.

“So your gift makes a living thing of some kind, a ‘shell’,” and I indicated Aesop as I said it, “And then you modify the shell into something that is a strong fighter?”

Patra nodded.

“I have the hard part,” she admitted.  “I have to do the body and the mind, give them beast arms and also the way of knowing that they need to eat every day or whatever.”

I gave the ‘ah ha’ look, as though I got it.

“But now you won’t have to do the mind part anymore!” I said.

“You are really going to help these scum?” asked the general.  “You know that they are going to plunder and burn down our civilization, and you are still aiding them?”

She didn’t sound surprised or angry about it, more like she was going through the motions.

“Nah,” I said.

“What?” she asked, instantly.

“I’m not helping them one bit.  I’m using them.  They are going to give you and the rest of my passengers bodies, and at the first sign of trouble you are going to run away.”

She was about to ask me why, I figured.

“Fucking why?” she asked.

Close enough.

“Because I’m a consequentialist,” I reminded her.  “I act in order to bring about what I think is the best future.  There is a storm coming, and very few will survive it.  I need to get you all to shelter before it arrives.”

“What storm?” she demanded.  “What shelter?  Who is ‘you all’?”

I grinned again.  At least she was, I don’t know, ‘awake’, for lack of a better term.  Asking questions meant that she wanted information.  What I’d been dreading was an endless repetition of her name rank and serial number.

An interrogation, one where I played the victim, had a lot more interesting possibilities.

“Annihilation is the storm,” I told her, mental voice utterly flat, “Extinction, Omnicide, whatever you want to call it.  Remover’s long dream, realized at last.  The end of human life on the planet.”

“Ridiculous!” she responded, instantly “Even if we lose this war, there won’t be an extinction level event.  Life under the Pantheon isn’t literal death.”

I ruminated for a moment on the fact that I’d maneuvered her into defending the Pantheon, but didn’t bother to call attention to it.

“Reality can’t be ridiculous,” I told her.  “Something that is happening can’t be impossible.  You should have read the reports already, right?  Extinction is already underway!”

“What reports?” she spluttered.

I let her think about it for a moment.  This was a key point, I couldn’t rush her through it.

“You mean the Company ceasing food production?” she asked, after a long moment.

I didn’t blame her for it.  She had a lifetime of hating the Pantheon, it wouldn’t have been easy for her to associate their misfortune with humanity’s.

“The Pantheon is humanity’s present,” I told her.  “The Regime is the past, the Union is the future, but right now five sixths of the human race are controlled by the Pantheon.  And for two generations they’ve gotten their food from magic boxes.  They’ve been ruled by thugs and brutes, despoiled and drone struck by your own nation, ransacked by the Fists of mine.  How many farmers do you think are still alive?  How many will be alive in two months, when the famine is really under way?”

“It’s…that’s…” she spluttered, pushed off balance by the fact that ‘winning’ this argument required her to argue in favor of the Pantheon’s capabilities, something she’d probably never done in her life.

“Think of the early explorers, starving to death in a paradise, dying of starvation as the people native to the region survived easily.  That’s going to be us, that’s the end of our billions, Remover’s masterstroke.”

Just thinking of it made me angry, but there were no useful consequences to anger, so I strove for equanimity.  I couldn’t change the past.

“They’ll get food,” she said.  “Ultra gifts or old stockpiles.”

I shook my head, sadly, though to the healers it seemed like I was doing so to one of their own jokes.

“The unthinkable is not the impossible,” I told her.  “If you take nothing else from my life, take that bleak truth.  We all told ourselves that Peggy Martin couldn’t really destroy the United States, that it wasn’t allowed to happen.  Then we told ourselves that normality would return.  And then we died.  The people who thought that kind of thing, the ones who put their hands in their ears and blustered about how unreasonable it was?  They changed nothing.  They died helpless, effectless.”

“This is just a conspiracy theory!” she charged.  “There isn’t anyone… I mean…”

I could sympathize.  I’d just burned down the ‘it can’t really happen’ argument, but that was still the feeling that ruled her heart.

After a beat she continued

“What would her motive be?  You are saying that the leader of First Fist is killing the world?  That this is all a decades long plot?  I think you are grasping at straws here.  Things happen, and sometimes those things are bad, but you don’t need to make up a devil to explain hell on earth.  People are bad enough.”

I chuckled.

“God, its tempting,” I allowed.  ”But the thing about not admitting that we are in a game is, it doesn’t actually stop us from losing.  I get that it seems ridiculous, incredibly unlikely, but take a sec to really consider your situation.”

I cracked my knuckles.

“All of the world’s know how is locked into one country, which is at constant war with the part of the world that actually has people.  I’m going to go way out on a limb and guess that any time anyone in the Union makes any noise about maybe they should give some tech to the Pantheon they are called traitors?”

She didn’t make any immediate response, so I continued on.

“And of course any time any genuine attempts at peace are made First Fist swings through to rape all the dogs or whatever, get everyone good and fired up against the Ultrahumans.  Have you ever thought about how artificial that seems?  If you just step back and think about it?”

She still didn’t say anything.

“The Ultra Crime wave was deliberate, careful.  She controlled the fall of civilization, drove all the educated people, the wealthy and the middle class, sent them all fleeing into the Union, then she set the Company’s quota over your country and not anywhere else, so you’d always be artificially weak.”

“Everyone knows that the Company Quota is just a trick to weaken us!” snapped Greggs.  “This isn’t exactly a revelation.”

”if she wanted to weaken you then the Company just wouldn’t have given you any Ultras at all!” I responded.  “You got the Ultras you needed to play defense, ensuring that you’d lean on your technical advantage, strive as hard as you could to keep our species in barbarism.  I’m guessing that any time the Pantheon started to build up any kind of industrial footprint at all you bombed it?”

“We had to!” she responded.

“Of course you did.  The only way to save the village is to destroy it, after all!”

“Stop doing that!” she snarled.  “Stop equating the Pantheon to humanity!”

I let that sit for a moment.

“Are there even a billion people in the Union?” I asked.  “Just one billion?”

She didn’t have an answer to that.

“Would you feel better if I said five sixths of humanity?  Maybe seven eighths?”

Still nothing, but the texture of her silence made me think that maybe I’d reached something, maybe she might be thinking a bit.

“The point of the whole Pantheon/Union setup is to ruin our species.  Even as we speak, this plan is coming to fruition.  The Pantheon is devouring itself, and the Union, far from preparing humanitarian missions, is frantically preparing to fight a war against an army whose home nation is dying behind it.”

She started to speak, but didn’t actually say anything, so I went on again.

“If you doubt that there is someone behind this, that the things I’m going to tell you about the origin of the Ultra gifts are really true, just remember that the Pantheon lasted exactly as long as it took to generate the Brides, and its ruin began the second it sent them forth.”

“That’s not proof,” she protested, but weakly now.

“Of course it isn’t,” I snapped.  “Just post hoc ergo proptor hoc.  Tell yourself that, if it makes you feel better.  Tell yourself that the Company ceased operation exactly as soon as the Brides launched their attack for no reason at all.  Just a totally random happenstance.”

“Don’t give me that!” she snapped.  “There’s a massive range between ‘these variables are unconnected’, and ‘the devil set it all up as part of his master plan’.”

“I don’t need you to believe me about the Pantheon,” I told her.  “Although you fucking should.  What concerns us is the Union.”

“What about the Union?” she asked.

“They are the only ones who can restarted civilization.  After humanity, whoops, after ALMOST ALL of humanity starves, you are the only ones who might restart things.”

“Go on…” she said.

“Except that the you are about to be conquered and sacked, your fire stomped out of the world.  The Lightning Lord will fry your computers, his Brides will sack your cities.  Sorry Noah, the ark will be sunk this time, the future aborted.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it!” she snarled.

I let that sit for just a second.

“You mean,” I ventured, “not if WE have anything to say about it?”

 

Regime Quest 25

Results from Previous round votes:

4 Vote plan CCC (!!! New record!)

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

Winning Plan:

Plan:

Morning: Investigate ally: Smasher. Find out exactly what her power can and can’t do.

Afternoon: Seek Information on Regime military operations: Ask around. Asking Subtractor didn’t help, let’s ask around and find other people to query. Especially with regards to whether or not restoring the damage afterwards with Builder is going to help.

Builder: Let’s try something. Builder can take a substance and make more of that substance. Can she turn a bottle of water into a high-pressure firehose by vastly increasing the amount of water in the bottle? (She might need a strong bottle).

Owner: Look after the Army for a while. Try training them in basic combat.

Smasher: Tell me all about her power.

 

Day 22 Log :

4 AP at start of day (3 at end of last day +1 for half night’s sleep)

-1 for talk with Smasher about her gift (3 AP)

Roll 5, +1 for success (4 AP)

-2 for Seek Info on Regime Military Operations (2 AP)

Roll 8, +1 for success (3 AP)

Builder Experiment with Water

Roll 9, success

Owner: Train Army

Roll 5, success

End of day, 3 AP

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

Talk with Smasher

“What’s your deal?” I asked.

She looked back to me, casually throwing a pill or two down her throat.  I hid a grimace.

The reason I’d chosen to speak with her in the morning was simple.  It was when she was soberest, the brief time between waking up and filling herself up with pills and booze.  It would probably be my only chance.

“I’m cool,” she answered, giving a shrug.

“Your gift, though,” she says.  “What does it actually do?”

I realized she was about to say ‘smashes stuff’ a second before she opened her mouth.

“Smashes stuff.”

“Right, sure,’ I said, conscious of her ever dwindling sobriety, “But you smashed your wounds off earlier.  What’s up with that?”

She looked a little confused.

“I smashed them,” she said, “they kinda hurt.”

I’d had that coming.  Alright.  I tried to reformat my expectations, get on her level.

“What other things can you smash?” I asked.

She was about to say ‘everything’.

“Everything,” she said.

“Could you smash all the germs out of a person?” I asked.

“What’s a germ?” she asked, seemingly curious.

Jesus, ok , right, why would she know basic things.

“Can you smash small things out of big things?” I asked.

“Small things are easy to smash?” she said, raising her voice at the end of the sentence to make it a question.

“But wounds aren’t a thing,” I said, aware that I was going down a rabbit hole, but powerless to stop it.

“Sure they are,” she said.

“No,” I responded, “They are an absence, or an attribute, or, I don’t know, its just a word that we use to describe how people…”

I trailed off, realizing that she was gazing at me with pity.

“Things are what you can see,” she told me, like she was telling a lesson to a child, “Since you can see  wounds they are a thing.  I think that absence or attribute stuff is just something you made up.”

I took a second to think of a way to say the next thing.

“You have to be careful not to just believe in stuff you think of,” she says, “Some of my buds never came back from their trips because of that.”

“Alright,” I said.  “Sorry, yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking.  So you can smash anything that you see, right?”

“Sure,” she said.

“What about the part of the gun the bullet come out of?” I asked.  “That should be a ‘thing’, right?  Could you smash one that part?”

She reached out a hand towards me, and I passed the gun over.

I wasn’t even really surprised when she plucked the hole right off the front of the gun, crumpling it up and tossing it off to the side.  I was learning.

I followed the hole’s flight with my gaze, it bounced off the edge of a chair, rolled to a stop at the edge of the dresser.  I was half expecting it to work like a cartoon ‘portable hole’, and now be a hole in the floor, but it just sat there, looking like a crumpled up piece of paper.

“I get it,” I said.  “Anything you can see you can smash.  Makes sense.  Does that stop collateral damage, um, do you only smash what you want to smash?”

She screwed up her face a bit, kind of looked away.

“I feel like you are leading up to wanting to fuck, Blender.  I don’t do that.”

“Uh…right,” I said.  “Good to know.”

We sat in silence for a moment, which she broke by opening a beer and chugging on it.

I left a little bit after that.

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

Seek info from Veterans

I’d done this a few times before, and it hadn’t gotten any easier.  None of the Ultras associated with the previous Warlord’s failures really wanted to advertise the fact, and with 2 failures preceding me it was hard to find living representatives of prior missions, ones who might be less ashamed of their service.

But hard was not impossible, and I’d done this before.  I’d posted up in the Lair’s most prestigious Company Facility and let the word get out that I’d be very grateful for the information I was looking for.  A steady string of folks had come by.

The most common response was something along the lines of “She never asked NOT to kill everyone and smash everything.  That’s, like, the opposite of what She usually tells people to do.”  I had to process a lot of people like that before I found anyone else who had had an assignment even remotely like mine.

“We were supposed to fetch a red car,” said the old woman.  “The sort that She was never allowed to drive back in the old world or something.”

It wasn’t an exact match, but it was the best I was going to get.

“Go on,” I told her.  “How’d that go?”

“It was in Pantheon hands, one of their warlords had it.  We rolled up and caught them out in Tucky, took em out and dragged the red car back.”

“Did the car get smashed?” I asked.

She gave a sullen nod.

“What’d your warlord do?” I pressed.

She gave me a canny glare, eyes sullen and hard.  She’d been around a while, had an eye out for the main chance.  She could tell I wanted this.

“I’ll owe you a favor,” I allowed.  “Not unrestricted, but something reasonable.”

“Alright,” she said, “That’s fine.  Yeah, we fucked the car up, then Adder made a new one. I guess She was ok with it, because the Warlord went on for another 2 missions.”

I was able to keep myself from physically clenching my fist in triumph, but my grin probably gave the game away.  It sounded like we could go nuts as long as we left enough for Builder to put everything back together.

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

Debrief Posse:

“How’d your meeting with Smasher go?” asked Owner.

“Fine,” I answered, shortly.

“You find out everything her gift can-“

“I got some stuff,” I said.  “It was great.  I also felt a hangover coming on from the proximity fumes, and I remind you that I’m not a pushover.”

I’d almost said ‘ultra tough’, but Builder hadn’t earned that particular revelation just yet.

Builder chuckled.

“Well, my stuff went pretty well?”

“Water cannons?” I asked.

“Sort of,” she answered.  “I can definitely add water to existing water, as long as it isn’t in a person.  So I can rupture bottles of the stuff, that kind of thing.”

“What would happen if the container was very strong?” I asked, trying to hold off the flashbacks to my earlier attempts at getting someone to explore their gift.

“I think it would still break,” she said.  “Like I’m adding a few feet of water a second, busts a hole right through the side.”

“You’ve tested this?” I asked.

“On Owner’s plastic water bottles.  I still get a kick out of that.  In your time they put water in bottles and sold it?  Did they, like, not know about rain?”

I smiled blandly, suppressing the ‘in your time they forgot how to make food for themselves and they send children to fight wars’ style retort that jumped readily to the tip of my tongue.

“Anything tougher?” I asked.

“I couldn’t figure out a way where I could still see inside to add the water if I didn’t use a see through container,” she said.  “I tried putting a hole in a truck gas tank, but then the water just came out of the hole.”

“Still,” I said, “Encouraging results.  There’s got to be a way or two to break that, get us some kind of water laser cannon.”

“Training went fine,” piped up Owner.

We both looked over at her.

“Like…just fine,” she said, deflating a little.  “There was some fighting and some stuff I told them to back down and they ignored me, but that wasn’t most of them.  It was fine.”

I massaged my temples.  I thought I’d trained them to take orders from the non combat duo.  Ultras!

“Good day?” asked Builder.

I gave her a weak smile, thoughts already turning to the plan.

 

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

Walter Note (I’m going to be putting Mia’s thoughts in line by line instead of all at the end, I found myself scrolling back and forth anyway, and I think it is just easier.)

The Plan:

– We should attack on the 28th. We shouldn’t tell anyone about this until about the 25th. This will throw a spanner in the works of any trap they’re planning that requires that they have an idea of when we’re coming.

– If we head over on the 30th, we can expect to ‘coincidentally’ meet a Union patrol partway there who will inflict some damage on us. We should prepare for this possibility, even at our earlier date.

“I like the idea of attacking at a different date from when I tell the troops that we will.  I’m concerned that they may be able to get a signal to King Arthur and his Union buds after we tell them on the 25th.  Maybe I should tell them the night before, or just the day of?”

– Merlin’s invisible troops are, of course, invisible. They are also carrying Knight equipment. Picker’s assassins carried Knight equipment. Hmmm. But what the Knights are asking for in exchange for the use of their equipment is morally completely reprehensible. I can’t countenance that, and would lose my Resistance contact if I did. (I would deserve to lose my Resistance contact if I did that. I would be truly a monster.)

“Yes, very true.  I don’t want to work with Refiner and his pets any more than I have to.”

– I need to bear in mind that Merlin and Arthur might have empowered the same people. That is to say, some of Merlin’s invisible assassins might have Ultra Strength, or Speed, or Toughness. They’re already hitting above their weight – on top of that, they may actually have some weight to hit on top of.

“Very worrying possibility.”

– Another option for dealing with Merlin is to take advantage of KEM. I know where she lives, what she can do and who she cares for; leaving that report on Merlin in the right place should be enough to get her killed outright. However, I shouldn’t use KEM on more than one person. Merlin is a greater threat than Guinevere.

“This is a good idea.  I tried to have KEM kill Merlin once already, hopefully there will be enough time to try again.  I really don’t think I can win the fight if they have invisible warriors.”

– Third option – use Owner to demolish Merlin’s house in the middle of the night (buying and demolishing the property).

“I’d rather use KEM, but this might be a ‘why not both’? situation.”

– Fourth option – take advantage of Builder’s stuff-stretching ability to ensure that our confrontation happens in an ankle-deep flood. Even invisible people can be seen walking through ankle-deep water – if nothing else, by the foot-shaped hollows in the water.

“I guess it couldn’t hurt, but when I remember my past fights and try and imagine looking at the ground constantly to see if footprints are getting closer my immediate reaction is that the person I’m fighting would take that opportunity to hit me.  We’ll try this in the worst case scenario, but I’m dubious.”

– Guinevere is easily handled. I need merely imbue my Posse with fireproof; after that, Smasher can take her out easily. (Ankle-deep water should mess with her, too, by extinguishing a lot of fires).

“My ability doesn’t really work that way, but I can see how I forgot that for a sec.  (out of character, this is a CCC plan, and the clarifications were on the board, not the blog).  My gift adjusts people’s ‘metadata’, a set of 3-4 keywords that define them.  Adding one in, like ‘fireproof’ risks the possibility that the one that falls off will be something like ‘sane’, or ‘mobile’.  I got lucky with Grower and Builder.  If I tried the same thing on 50 people I wouldn’t have fifty fireproof people when I was done, or 50 living people.”

– Lancelot and Arthur are unlikely to be trouble in the final confrontation.

– That giant Union tank, on the other hand, is a problem (and not a small one). But Builder should be able to deal with it; her power works at any range. She can close off any gun barrels by extending the barrel material _inwards_, she can mess up the engine by making the internals just grow crazy spikes everywhere, and so on. Once she can see it, she can ruin it utterly – and probably without even leaving any external sign of her sabotage, so it can all be blamed on the Union being idiots.

“Builder can wreck it very fast as soon as she can see it, though she can’t grow stuff on the internals unless she can see into it.  But adding stuff to the outside where she can see it will rapidly render the tank unusable.  I like this idea.”

– If the Ar Harbour team don’t want to come out and fight, we can draw them out by taking hostages. from the people they care for. This strategy is unpleasant and distasteful, but it will work, and will draw them away from buildings. Moreover, I don’t actually need to permanently harm the hostages, not if I’m threatening enough.

“It sounds like I am allowed to wreck the place as long as we fix it, and I’m also really not loving the idea of taking hostages.”

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

 

Day 23:

Days remaining: 8

AP available: (3 at end of day + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 4/10

Non AP Action: Swap in a new plan.  You write in a new plan, I’ll give you Mia’s assessment of it.  If you don’t do this then the existing one will be executed.  The plan that is in force when its execution date arrives will be used for the actual battle, though there may be mid battle votes that could alter it in process.

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Smasher : Timeslot Available: morning

Posse: 3 or 3 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 46

Condition: Healthy

[spoiler=Ultras]

 

(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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/spoiler]

 

[spoiler=Actions]

Actions:

[ ] Accept Refiner’s Bargain (Timeslot cost: 0, AP cost 4, auto succeed)

Motive: His blessed weapons and armor would be a massive force multiplier for our group.  He might also send along Knight backup.  He would be a powerful additional patron.

Concerns: I would be responsible for a massacre in the immediate aftermath, or be killed by Second Fist if I backed out.  Subtracter would also likely perceive this alliance as an attempt at weaseling out from under her command, so I’d have to tread very carefully to avoid offending her.

 

[ ] 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  competence. 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

 

[ ] Action: Direct the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful)

Motive: If I need to set my warband in motion, give them a project or whatever, it is as simple as telling them to jump.  My will is their command.

-[ ] Let [Posse Member] Supervise, takes up the Posse Member’s action, modifies success chance based on which Posse member it is, and which action

 

[ ] Action: Train the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful) [Requires a timeslot from the teacher, who should probably be an Ultra combatant]

Motive: Yard Ultras are fierce, but undisciplined.  They are warriors, not soldiers.  I can get better outcomes if I teach them some basics.

-[ ] In Ultra Combat (Gives bonuses on their battle rolls)

-[ ] In anti firearm maneuvers (Makes them suffer less casualties under fire)

-[ ] In obedience (makes them more likely to obey my orders)

 

[ ] 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.

Smasher Actions:

[ ] Recuperate [Timeslot cost All]

Description: Smasher hangs on the edge of death.  Her body and gift will try to knit her back together each day.

 

Owner Actions:

[ ] Acquire Funds [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner takes action to get more and more valuable assets within our world, increasing her overall funding, hopefully permitting her gift’s actions to be swifter and larger in impact. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Change Company [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner presently runs a package store, located in downtown Washington.  She has, as near as I can estimate, a low six figures saved up.  With this action I can direct her to acquire licenses, expand locations, purchase other businesses, or perform similar deeds, all based around changing the operation and activities of her imaginary franchise. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Company Action [ Timeslot cost 2]

Description: This is a catchall action for anything I might think of that could let Owner impact the main battle in Ar Harbor.  Buying up local real estate and demolishing it on a certain date seems like the obvious course of action, but there are a lot of other fringe ideas that I’ve been entertaining. [Requires Write In clarification on how to do this.  The first Action spent on this is about Owner doing tests to make sure this effort will work, the second actually kicks off whatever changes I want in the imaginary world.]

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]

 

 

Regime Quest 24

Results from Previous round votes:

2 Vote plan Talon

1 Vote plan CCC

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

Winning Plan:

[X] Plan Destroy Another Building

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

-[X] Contact Knights (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 2, returns 1 on success) : why does it look like enemies are using their weapons? We don’t want an alliance, but we do want an few enhanced Scythes of our own (I want to see if Builder can reshape them). Best case we could get some weapons useful for someone with Ultra Strength 1 or 2 (warband members).

-[X] Builder Action : Work on making our vehicles bulletproof, and on making it possible to sleep inside. Try adding spikes and whatnot. This may require she create another to fit everyone, but it’s meant to be easier and quicker now.

-[X] Owner Action : Try to buy Merlin’s house (“with the yellow paint on the roof in the middle of the city”), or at worst surrounding ones. If possible, don’t actually sign the contract yet yet (negotiate, but keep them waiting for the final signature) so that the house isn’t magically refurbished just yet.

-[X] Smasher Action : Train the warband in anti-firearm maneuvers

Day 21 Log :

7AP at start of day (6 at end of last day +1 for half night’s sleep)

-3 for assign KEM assassination mission (4 AP)

Roll 2, +0 for failure (4 AP)

-2 for Contact Knights (2 AP)

Roll 10, +1 for success (3 AP)

Builder: Armor vehicle pattern

Roll 9, success

Owner: Almost buy Merlin’s house

Roll 5, unknown

Builder: Smasher, Train recruits

Roll 5, success

End of day, 3 AP

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

Put out KEM hit

I sat by the street side, drumming my fingers against the edge of the chair, irritated and perplexed.

I’d done this dozens of times, back before I’d become the Warlord.  A simple signal, the drape of the Packer House’s window folded just so.  A counter signal, the old man who worked for Slaughterer across the street leaving both shoes outside.  Sign and countersign.

I must have done it a dozen times, and it had gone off without a hitch this time too.  So where the hell was my KEM contact?

I wasn’t going to meet him, of course.  Nothing so gauche.  She was going to overhear me going on a super villain monolog about how I was going to destroy these idiots in the Round Table gang, how they’d rue the day they defied Her.  The last person I cursed, at the end of my diatribe, was the target.

After they’d been set on Merlin’s trail the things that followed were equally simple.  The old man’s sister would come by to talk with the Packers, and the notes that I’d taken on Merlin would have vanished away during that visit.  They’d find their way into the hands of the actual killers, and a few days later my adversary would get heavier by a bullet’s weight, and a lot less active.

I sat there for maybe a half hour, did some halfhearted ranting so it wouldn’t seem suspicious.  Finally I just left.  The Lair is a hazardous place for ordinary humans.  It wasn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that some Ultra had killed my contact and they simply hadn’t been able to replace her yet.

Whatever had happened, the timing couldn’t have been worse.  I was days away from the most dangerous situation in my life, and the people who’d pledged to have my back didn’t know that I wanted them to do anything.  I could have fucking screamed.

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

Talk with Knights

“He’ll see you now,” said the Knight Commander.

He.  Not they.  They didn’t even bother to pretend that the rest of Second Fist might matter.  I could see why.

I didn’t swallow nervously as I stepped through the door, didn’t clench my fists or betray my nervousness in any other way.  This was no big deal to me, I told myself.  I spoke with morally repugnant beings who could end me all the time.  Heck, one of them was my sponsor.

But it didn’t take.  Refiner was different.  Joe Ludd was ‘real’ to me in a way that none of the rest of the freakshow really were.  Picker and the other Ultras who had challenged me, they were ultimately victims, if looked at in a certain way.  Just the detritus of a savage age.  Somehow, no matter how long I lived, it all never felt real.  I could cling to my memories of the past, of a time when things had been sane.

But Refiner had been a monster then, too.

He loomed before me, his minions clustered around the courtyard.  It was like a day hadn’t past.  More, it was like his day never would.  He stood tall, taller than he deserved to, a beast of the past still taking prey long after the rest of his vile kind had slunk off to irrelevancy and decrepitude.

Second Gettysburg had been foundational for me, and even then he’d seemed antique.  How could we live in a world where the Knights of Purity existed, spread their terror?  How could Ultra science coexist with people whose moral foundations were centered on skin color?

His voice rolled over me.  I focused on the tone, letting the words slip by.  I knew the gist.  Barrels of wine, drops of sewage.  The need to punish his enemies and the skin traitors who empowered them.  Someone in my high school had done a scathing takedown of the Knights’ creed for a junior high project.  They’d made no updates since then.

I focused, instead, on the steps that had gotten me this appointment.  On the inroads that I’d made previously, when I’d declined to punish his servants for Picker’s offenses.  On the way I’d pressed the similarity between King Arthur’s weapons and their own, bullying the woman I’d dealt with last time into sending me up to the top of their hierarchy.  It had all gone perfectly.

His offer, when it came, was about what I would expect.  I could have robes.  I could have scythes.  50 of each, enough for my whole posse, at his first level of blessing.  That was, I supposed, about equivalent to Ultra toughness and strength one, with the caveat that it would only work when your skin was lighter than your victims.

In exchange he wanted an atrocity.  After we won in Ar Harbor, I should have my gals stand aside and let his people work over the new citizens of the Regime, make sure they fit with his image of what we were all about.  They had a color table, like you’d use on picking out shades of furniture back in the day.

It took all my willpower to thank them for their time and tell them that I’d think about it.  On that, at least, I wasn’t being deceptive.  It would be very hard NOT to think about it.

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

Debrief Posse:

“Owner, how’d it go?”  I asked.

She could tell I wasn’t in the mood for any real socializing today, that I was still digesting my unsatisfying encounters.

“I’m sorry, Blender, I really am.”

I shook my head.

There wasn’t a way to say it and not sound like a jerk, but I didn’t need her apologies.  I needed to know what had happened.

“I can’t tell!” she blurted out.

“Can’t tell?” I asked.

“If it worked.  They money is gone, but its such a small amount that it might have been spent as part of a failure.  I might be getting ready to buy the house, or I might have lost out to another bidder or whatever.  I can’t tell you, my gift just didn’t give me any real feedback.”

I reached up to massage my temples.

“Ok,” I said, trying very hard not to think about how it would go if we had to fight invisible Ultras.  “I guess at least it didn’t say ‘No’.  Maybe we’ll have time to have you try again.”

I checked myself for a moment when I saw that she was visibly relieved.  Had I ever been short with her?  Ever given her any reason to fear giving me bad news?

Bah.

“Builder?” I asked.

She looked up from where she’d been waiting her turn.  I had noticed that she hadn’t chimed in during Owner’s part, but I didn’t really have time to look into it.

“Car armor.  Carmor.  Check.”

“It works?” I pressed.

“Yeah, no sweat.  There was an old wrecked thing that I took some material from, switched it into my main workings and, Blam, carmor.”

“They are trucks.” I pointed out.

“Yeah, so?” she asked.

“Wouldn’t that make it, Truckmer?”

They both looked at me like I was a nut.

“That doesn’t make ANY sense,” said Owner.

“Words don’t just combine like that,” said Builder.

That got a chuckle out of me.

“Alright, you wordsmiths, did you by any chance happen to get the latest from Smasher?  As far as how this morning’s training went?”

“Fine,” said Builder.

I gestured at her to elaborate, doing the little wrist roll motion.

“That’s what she said.  It went fine.”

“I don’t expect she’s in any condition to go into details?” I pressed.

They shook their heads.

“Got to catch her in the morning,” said Owner.  “She’s not herself by now.”

“Fine,” I said.

Fine.

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

The Plan:

  • On the 30th day we set out, the Warband and my Posse traveling in the trucks that Builder creates. We drive to within a few miles of Ar Harbor, then take up a position.
  • We attack the following day, a frontal assault led by Smasher and myself. Our Ultras against their forces (both their Round Table leadership and the various minions they have) in a pitched battle in broad daylight, with Her watching through my form using Snitcher’s gift.
  • Ideally they make their stand outside of the restored downtown that I am supposed to preserve in the strike. If not we go in after them, wreck the place up in the fighting, and have Builder restore things afterwards.

Plan Assessment:

  • Lancelot should lose to Smasher and myself, if not some of the more energetic Warband members. She is a benefit to me, someone to use for the highlight reel, make sure Prevailer is entertained.
  • King Arthur is necessary so that they have enough soldiers to give us a good fight. She is also the ‘final boss’, and will hopefully command from their Union tank.  Another excellent drama point for Her.
  • Merlin, if uncountered, will cause the enemy to win the battle. I must come up with a plan to deal with her.
  • Guinevere will be another very large problem, though not quite so big as Merlin. I believe Smasher can defeat her, but there are a lot of variables in that plan.  Ideally I need to come up with a way to handle her other than hoping she dies in the fighting.
  • In general my Yard Ultras should be man for man superior to King Arthur’s gifted troops and whatever Ultars their side can scrounge up. I am confident in the outcome of the Ultra scrum provided no other factors infringe upon it.
  • As far as hardware goes, our side has bolt action rifles with a few training sessions, their side may well have Union guns with months of training. They will have superior guns if nothing is done, which may help them to suppress our force advantage.  Builder’s efforts have gone a long way towards mitigating this, but the gap lingers.
  • I need an answer from Her on what it entails to take the place intact. I’m putting a lot of hope on it being ok to have Builder fix damage afterwards.  If that isn’t acceptable, then I need to start planning right now for how to avoid damaging this place while I have an Ultra war there.

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

 

Day 22:

Days remaining: 9

AP available: (3 at end of day + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 4/10

Non AP Action: Swap in a new plan.  You write in a new plan, I’ll give you Mia’s assessment of it.  If you don’t do this then the existing one will be executed.  The plan that is in force when its execution date arrives will be used for the actual battle, though there may be mid battle votes that could alter it in process.

Walter Note: I am removing the faction rankings going forward, I never actually used them the way I thought I would, also Spoiler-ing Ultras for readability on SV.

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Smasher : Timeslot Available: morning

Posse: 3 or 3 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 46

Condition: Healthy

[spoiler=Ultras]

 

(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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[/spoiler]

 

[spoiler=Actions]

Actions:

[ ] Accept Refiner’s Bargain (Timeslot cost: 0, AP cost 4, auto succeed)

Motive: His blessed weapons and armor would be a massive force multiplier for our group.  He might also send along Knight backup.  He would be a powerful additional patron.

Concerns: I would be responsible for a massacre in the immediate aftermath, or be killed by Second Fist if I backed out.  Subtracter would also likely perceive this alliance as an attempt at weaseling out from under her command, so I’d have to tread very carefully to avoid offending her.

 

[ ] 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

 

[ ] Action: Direct the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful)

Motive: If I need to set my warband in motion, give them a project or whatever, it is as simple as telling them to jump.  My will is their command.

-[ ] Let [Posse Member] Supervise, takes up the Posse Member’s action, modifies success chance based on which Posse member it is, and which action

 

[ ] Action: Train the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful) [Requires a timeslot from the teacher, who should probably be an Ultra combatant]

Motive: Yard Ultras are fierce, but undisciplined.  They are warriors, not soldiers.  I can get better outcomes if I teach them some basics.

-[ ] In Ultra Combat (Gives bonuses on their battle rolls)

-[ ] In anti firearm maneuvers (Makes them suffer less casualties under fire)

-[ ] In obedience (makes them more likely to obey my orders)

 

[ ] 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.

Smasher Actions:

[ ] Recuperate [Timeslot cost All]

Description: Smasher hangs on the edge of death.  Her body and gift will try to knit her back together each day.

 

Owner Actions:

[ ] Acquire Funds [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner takes action to get more and more valuable assets within our world, increasing her overall funding, hopefully permitting her gift’s actions to be swifter and larger in impact. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Change Company [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner presently runs a package store, located in downtown Washington.  She has, as near as I can estimate, a low six figures saved up.  With this action I can direct her to acquire licenses, expand locations, purchase other businesses, or perform similar deeds, all based around changing the operation and activities of her imaginary franchise. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Company Action [ Timeslot cost 2]

Description: This is a catchall action for anything I might think of that could let Owner impact the main battle in Ar Harbor.  Buying up local real estate and demolishing it on a certain date seems like the obvious course of action, but there are a lot of other fringe ideas that I’ve been entertaining. [Requires Write In clarification on how to do this.  The first Action spent on this is about Owner doing tests to make sure this effort will work, the second actually kicks off whatever changes I want in the imaginary world.]

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]

 

 

Fisher 9:3

I don’t know why I expected them to set down the plate when we returned.

I guess it was because there were five of us, or six if you counted my forms separately.  It felt like that many people hopping up onto something held at shoulder height, particularly something obviously conveyed at such arduous cost, should have been significant.

But of course it wasn’t.  There were already dozens of Goddesses loafing about on the thing.  It would have been odd for us to be the factor that shifted it.  No doubt a chosen few of the laborers were Ultra Strong, and as the weight increased they pushed just a little bit harder.

Vampire and Ouroboros were waiting for us, which was another small surprise.  Not that they were there, exactly, but that they were openly expecting us.  I’d been expecting a pretense of indifference, or something similar, but they sat before us on looted office chairs, visibly avid for our return.

“Vampire,” said Jane.  “Or should I call you by a title?”

The young Goddess idly waved a hand.

“Whichever,” she said, shortly.  “I don’t care.”

She had an odd accent that I hadn’t noticed before.  I got the feeling that her English was by way of someone who had themselves learned it late in life.

“We’ve done as you asked,” Jane continued.  “I’ve taken the soul of the prisoner, I can tell you what she knew.”

Vampire looked over at her comrade, who looked steadily at Jane.

I couldn’t keep myself from tensing a bit.  I was pretty sure that Oro’s gift worked on those she touched, given that she’d gone out of her way to clasp hands with me before my introduction.  It wasn’t impossible that that had merely been an affectation, however, in which case we were probably sunk.  Her gift probably wouldn’t work on Preventer, and Jane was a tossup, but Dale’s future and past would almost certainly give us away somehow.

“So,” said Vampire, after letting the moment breathe, “do that.”

Preventer gave a significant cough, the kind you gave when you wanted everyone’s attention.  We complied, and she looked pointedly around at the loafers and hangers.

“You want privacy?” asked Ouroboros.  “Like we should walk or something?”

Jane jumped in before the wounded pride at the end of that sentence could become anything worse.

“Of course not,” she said.  “Dale can make us a cave to debrief in.  We’ll be secluded and secure under the Grand Host’s feet, and he can convey us back up in an instant if there’s trouble.”

I winced a little at that.  We hadn’t been able to talk out a plan, not with potentially hostile ears all around, but if we had there definitely would have been a bit of back and forth over that particular offer.  As it was, I could only pray that they took no offense.

“I don’t think it would be wise,” said Oro, “Not to offend, but we don’t know you.  Putting us inside your gift strikes me as the sort of foolhardiness that the world sends in the direction of dolts and saps.  We’ve been instructed-“

“Sounds cool,” said Vampire.  “I’ve never ridden in a grave before.”

Ouroboros’ mouth had snapped shut the instant Vampire had begun speaking.  It reminded me a bit of Zilla, and the loyalty that her minions had displayed.  I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to what gift the leader of the Brides might have, but seeing this I mentally chalked it down as some kind of instant death ability.  Only those who could not be defied, who were entirely unaccustomed to weighing the loyalty of their subordinates, acted like that.

Once again the resemblance to Her jumped out at me.  I could see Her doing something like that.  Stepping on a subordinates advice to get a dig in on them even though it might change the course of an important decision.  Because, really, what WAS an important decision to the all powerful?  What couldn’t She walk back if it didn’t work?

Consequences didn’t exist for the likes of Her, not really.  The rest of us would be on the hook, but the ones that the Process had chosen never lost.

“Right this way,” said Dale, leading starting back over towards the edge of the platform.

I knew it must have taken him a lot of courage to get up on there.  He’d made it clear how sick and tired he was of serious fights with him unable to exercise his gift.  He would have had the disasters of the past playing and replaying in his mind, but he’d gone anyway.  He’d understood the reasoning, that a united front and the appearance of strength were more important than the actual possibility of outfighting the Brides in the midst of their Host, and so he’d overcome his jittery nerves and stepped up.

People called Dale brave, and he was, but this was the kind of moment when he proved it.  Not in a battlefield, not by charging an enemy who was shooting holes out of him.  Not just braving death, but pushing himself to reason and trust in a situation like this.

There was a reason that he was our leader, and while this wasn’t it, I liked to think that if we’d known when we first met what each of us would grow into we would still have made the same choice.

Vampire followed, and to my surprise no one came with her.  The Bride’s leader positively sauntered after us, strutting with the arrogance of the almighty.

I was about half certain she intended to kill us.  It would burnish her legend, it seemed.  No one but Zeus had ever taken on a Fist alone, and we were the killers of Death.  If she was really a Goddess worthy of commanding this Host then it would make sense for her to have that kind of confidence.

Ordinarily I’d expect our usual bluff, that Preventer was invincible and we were Linked, would prevent such rash action, but Vampire might just not give a shit.  It was strange to fear someone for their stupidity, but as we dropped down onto the ground I found myself hoping fervently that she was at least a little smarter than she acted.

Certainly, she didn’t show it as Dale started to entomb us.  We slid into the ground as she looked idly around, the ditch we sank into rapidly transforming into one of Dale’s shallow caves.

Dark closed in around us.  It occurred to me, a bit late, that her gift might have something to do with darkness.  It didn’t make a lot of sense, really, no one whose gift didn’t work all the time could possibly hold a position like that, but the name hinted at a gift that related to either night or blood.

“Vampire,” said Jane, “I’m going to trust you.”

It was a bit of an unorthodox way to start, but I had to trust that she knew what she was doing.

“Yeah?” she asked.

“What we are going to say to you, the discussion that we need to have…it’s going to be a little different.  I’m going to genuinely try and impress you, change your mind on some things.  I need you to be open, to consider seriously what I’m saying, alright?”

“Just get on with it,” came the answer.

I was starting to wish that Dale had put some holes in the top of the cavern, let some light in.  It was eerie to sit in the blackness, creepy to hear Vampire’s strange accent rising up out of the dark before me.

It was tactical, of course.  Jane’s ghosts could keep track of where people were, Dale’s gift would tell him, etc, but that didn’t really reassure me.  We had no idea what Vampire’s gift was, only that Zeus had chosen her to lead his Brides, only that out of everyone gifted in the Pantheon over the past decades, she was the one who had risen to the top.

“All right,” said Haunter.  “We did what you wanted, and I’ve taken the General’s soul.  I can answer your questions.”

“What are the Union’s plans?” asked Vampire, not missing a beat.

“Is it alright,” asked Jane, “If before I talk about the Union’s future, I talk a bit about their past?”

“Huh?” asked Vampire.  “What do you mean?”

“I’m trying to make a point, I just want to make sure you are ok with it.”

“Fine,” said Vampire.

I couldn’t see her face, but I imagined her frowning.  This was a dangerous woman to keep waiting.

“The important thing, up front, is that we weren’t there for the big battle, all right?  We didn’t see your war with the Union, didn’t talk to anyone who did, I’m coming at this blind, ok?”

“Why does that matter?” asked Vampire.  “That’s already done with.”

“I’m trying to show that we know what’s up, that you need us, ok?  I’m going to be weirdly right, and I’m hoping you compare me to how you thought things were going to go before the fight.  I’m hoping it’ll show us in a good light.”

“Whatever.”

“Alright, it went down like this.  You were marching along, then you got hit by their force, which had less Ultras than you, who were overall less powerful.  They still kicked the shit out of the Host up until the Brides stepped up.  How am I doing?”

I could hear the tension, the worry, in Haunter’s voice.  I wasn’t sure if she’d put it there as part of an act, or if she was genuinely feeling the same apprehension that I was.

“So what?” asked Vampire.  “Everyone knows the Host are pussies.”

“So are the Union!” snapped Preventer.  “You had more Goddesses, more powerful ones, and you still had to step in, right?”

I’d almost forgotten that everyone else was down here.

“They cheated!” snapped Vampire.  “Just bullshit sissy cheating.  Whatever you think you are proving with this, it isn’t helping you.”

“Ok,” said Jane, “Then let me do one more.  I’ll tell you about the next battle, the one where you fight with their main army.”

“You like Oro now?” she asked.  “You are gonna see the future?  You know that shit doesn’t work with lots  of strong Goddesses all together, right?  It gets all jumbled or whatever.”

“I don’t have a gift like that,” said Haunter.  “None of us do.  I’m going to do it the same way I did the first battle, by understanding how the other side thinks, and how you think.”

“Just so you know,” said Vampire, “I’m not dumb.  I know how you knew about the other fight.  You got it from the general’s soul.”

I was reasonably sure that she had not, in fact.  Haunter’s gift didn’t let her control her shades, to my understanding, so the General was probably just reciting her name, rank and serial number inside Jane’s mind.

“Your plan goes like this,” Haunter continued.  “You are going to continue advancing right up to the Union’s closest city, a couple more weeks but what do you care?  You will fight anyone who attacks you, but you expect that they have learned their lesson about sending weak stuff against you, so they’ll be massing for the big fight.  You figure that’ll happen right in front of their city, the rest of their military will come against you.”

Vampire didn’t say anything, but I could almost sense her shifting uneasily in the dark.

“And then you use your gift, and take them all out in an instant.  The Union are broken forever, you become Zeus’ favorite.  That sound about right?”

Vampire still didn’t answer, but this time I read anger in her silence.  Now we would see if Haunter’s hopes about her intelligence would pan out.

Jane didn’t speak up either, just let the silence brood.  She’d put her marker down, made her prediction.  It only remained to turn over the cards.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Vampire spoke.

“How did you decide that?” she asked.  “You will tell me what you think and speak.  You will tell me now.”

Her accent was back, phrasing slightly off.

Jane’s answer was immediate.

“When you have an enemy, and they are proud of something, it is easy to go around to the other side, and declare that the thing that they are proud of is actually a weakness, and your own side are stronger for not partaking in it.  If the enemy are big and strong, your culture will change so that it thinks that strength is not just useless, it is actually counterproductive, and what matters is something else.  If they are proud of their literacy, you will come to hate books.  This has happened time and again, throughout history.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” came the answer.

“Your enemies pride themselves on their mercy, their humanity.  They pat themselves endlessly on the back about how equal their team is, how good they are about caring about everyone on their team.  So naturally your side goes all Social Darwinist.  If you don’t have a proverb along the lines of ‘The Strong are Strongest Alone’ I’ll eat my hat.”

“Strength in numbers, but the greatest strength is in the number one,” supplied Vampire, almost involuntarily.

“Given this, it is likely that your plan will rely on ruthlessness.  You will look for a way to win not just in spite of not caring about your minions, but exactly BECAUSE you don’t care about them.  That’s the kind of plan that would be irresistible to Zeus.  A way for him to win the war and the argument at the same time.”

“These are just words,” said Vampire.  “Why are you making that guess about my gift?”

“She’s trying to explain,” said Dale, “But she forgets we don’t all have shadow armies in our brains.  Maybe get to the point Haunter?”

“Sorry,” said Jane, “The short version is that you let the last battle happen so that you could keep your gift a secret, and you intend to show it in the main battle that you think is coming.”

“So what?” asked Vampire.  “That’s it?  You just guessed?”

“Twice now,” I said.  “I was right about the battle that already happened, and I’m pretty sure I was right about the plan you had for the next one.  But that’s it.  No more guessing now, I’ll just tell you what they are going to do.”

Which was all well and good, except that unless General Greggs had suddenly come around she was about to do nothing BUT guess.

“It is essentially the opposite of what you want them to do.  Within a few days they are going to start picking at us.  Long range attacks with Ultra support, hit and fades, that kind of thing.  They will be trying to go for attrition, for, uh, tiring us out.  They will have all the information from the last battle processed, and anyone who used their gift in that fight will find that they have a plan for them.”

“Nobody got away,” said Vampire.

There was a long moment of silence.

“I mean almost nobody, probably,” she said.  “Shit.”

“It doesn’t matter,” responded Haunter.  “They were linked to their network during the fight, it saw everything.  They probably had satellites, long range sensors, Ultras with far seeing gifts, all sorts of things.”

“That’s some shit from a bull,” said Vampire.  “How does your general know all that?”

“It is basic,” said Jane, not giving an inch.  “Your crews are warriors.  Your enemies are soldiers.  It is a whole different mindset.  They never give battle without their whole rig being in place, and that means that while we are talking they have a huge crew going through recordings of that battle, making entries on each one of your gifts, looking for weaknesses.”

“We are the Brides, though!  We aren’t warriors, we are Goddesses.  We don’t have weaknesses!”

Vampire had finally started to sound her age, a sort of plaintive whine creeping into her tone.  She would never have let that happen up in front of her subordinates, but apparently we didn’t rate the full performance.

“They were punching above their weight in that last combat, right?” asked Jane, her voice patient now.  “Before the brides stepped in?  The Grand Host would have been rolled up and slaughtered by an inferior force, because they were using tactics and intelligence against you.  They’ll do the same this time, picking away at you all along the whole march.”

“Whatever,” said Vampire again.  “They won’t get anyone who matters.”

“They already did,” answered Jane.  “This General is quite smug about it.  Some kind of resurrecting Ultra?”

I heard a sharp slapping sound from the dark, someone’s flesh banging against the unyielding stone of the wall.

Another long silence.  I braced myself for the end.

“Point,” said Vampire, finally.

I could almost see Jane’s relieved smile.

“The constant hit and runs will be just the start.  It will all go like that.  When you get to the city, at long last, you will find it evacuated.  It will probably explode.  They will keep picking away at you.  You’ll discover that all their attacks up till now have encouraged division in your ranks, that certain subleaders have met far more success than others, and they have their own opinions about how to do things.  You’ll put your gift out there, trying to crush what seems like a swarming onslaught of enemies, only to discover that they are just a semblance, some kind of trick or illusion, just to bait out your gift so they can study it.”

“Stop, stop,” I said Vampire.  “This is more bovine shit.  She can’t know all this.”

“But I can,” said Jane.  “I said before that these guys are giving you trouble because they are good soldiers, right?  Well I’m twice the soldier any of them are.  My shades have been warring for hundreds of years.  We’ve seen every Defiance.  Just like they can predict you, we can predict what someone would do who predicts you.”

“Turn it around on them?”

Vampire sounded skeptical, but I felt the tension in my chest finally start to slip.

“Exactly!” said Preventer.

There was one final pause, longer and deeper than all the rest, as Vampire mulled over our fate.

“Can’t hurt to try.”

Regime Quest 23

Results from Previous round votes:

1 Vote plan CCC

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

Winning Plan:

Morning: Debrief Information Gathering Mission

Afternoon: Train the warband: In Ultra Combat. Smasher did a great job with them yesterday… but let’s magnify her efforts.

Owner: Acquire Funds: Offer a 50c donation to a charitable organisation that specialises in helping kidnap victims per purchase. This both appeals to the charitable instincts of her imaginary clientele directly, and enhances her company’s moral image; and thus, presumably, her overall income.

Go through with the donation, of course. The last thing you want is some imaginary journalist finding trouble.

This is also the start of building up towards creating – and financing – a private security contractor which specialises in rescuing kidnap victims, garnering income from bounties placed on the kidnappers and donations from grateful clients (which, in this world, will allow us fast access to some pretty neat guns and other equipment).

Builder: Memorise patterns: Bulletproof vests. Extra protection for the Warband.

Smasher (morning): Recruit Ultras for the warband, from the Yard. The warband could use a few more warm bodies, a better to bring them in early, so there’s more time to train them.Day 19 Log :

5 AP at start of day (4 at end of last day +1 for half night’s sleep)

-0 for debrief Resistance on gather info mission (5 AP)

Roll 6, +1 for success (6 AP)

-1 for Train the Warband (5 AP)

Roll 5, +1 for success (6 AP)

Builder: Memorize Vest pattern

Roll 6, success

Owner: Put out rewards

Roll 7, success (ultimately, only initiated now)

Builder: Smasher, Recruit Yard Ultras to Warband

Roll 10, Crit Success

End of day, 6 AP

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

Debrief Info Gathering Mission:

I used my finger to carefully open slide open the ties holding the satchel together, noting the rough ‘Skiner’ finger painted on the side.

Personally, I figured she probably knew how to spell her name, but presumably the Resistance knew better than I did.

“Bitch came through,” I remarked quietly to myself, really to Snitcher, “I guess I don’t need to pay her a visit after all.”

The text inside, once I’d squinted my way through some atrocious handwriting and mentally corrected any obvious spelling mistakes, read as follows:

“Merlin is the name that the dumb Ultras who can’t hack it in the Regime call Vanisher.

It takes her about ten seconds of looking at someone or something to make them go invisible or quiet or not touch.  They stay that way till she fixes them.

The gift is less good than it first seems because it works both ways.  If you can’t get seen you can’t see.  If you can’t get heard you can’t hear.  The people that can’t get touched can’t get touched.

There are a group of invisible guys in Ar Harbor.  They are pussies who hide from getting seen, but they have Knight weapons that they stole, so they can chop real good.  There are usually about ten of them (or maybe more haha, but at least as many as I have fingers), but she could make more of them real quick when she wants to.

They are trained to follow around the ‘ghost knights’ who can’t get touched but do a lot of talking.  The invisible cutters and the guys you can see but not touch make their enemies confused.  There are equal numbers of both of them, they work in pairs.

Her dagger name is Terry, she lives in the house with the yellow paint on the roof in the middle of the city.  She has a girlfriend and she takes care of two kids like a total pussy.  She can use her gift on herself but she doesn’t do it much, and she needs a mirror from what I heard.

King Arthur trusts her and they are part of the same gang of losers who run things in this tiny city.  She is also a big part of their deal with the pussies in the Union, who send people into town to get made invisible sometimes and give them Union guns and stuff in return.  Getting help from other people is how you know how weak they are, cuz they need help from other people.

I did what you said and I’m not doing any more unless you say to.”

I put that down, grimacing.  Vanisher was going to be a problem in the big battle.  I’d never tried to fight invisible people, but it seemed trivially obvious that they would punch well above their weight class, and also mess with the optics of Her voyeurism.  I’d probably saved my own life by getting this information ahead of time, if I could figure out a way to put it to use.

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

Train Warband:

“Where the fuck did everyone come from?” I asked.

“The Yard,” supplied Jumper, sporting a shiny black eye and an unflattering new haircut.

I scowled to myself at that response, because that wasn’t really what I’d been asking.  But it was presumably technically correct, so discipline would have felt a bit petty.

“Jumper,” I told her.

“Warlord?” she asked.

“How many of these Ultras are new, today, in our circle?  How many did Smasher collect this morning?”

“Oh,” she said, gaze wandering across the packed barracks common room.  “About half of them?”

I nodded, carefully.

I had done my thing in the yard, back when we were getting started.  I was a standout of the same area, a living inspiration to them.  I’d given a speech.  I was known, or at least rumored to be able to give people new Ultra gifts!  I was the damn Warlord.

I’d gotten 17.

Later events had bumped us up to 25, but still, I’d been expecting Smasher, a stupid woman with half of my advantages, to maybe pull in another 12.

Instead she’d brought, if my count was correct, another 21, nearly doubling our number.

“What…” I asked, “What appeal did she make?  Did she maybe just pick you all up and fling you here?”

“She said there was as much free beer as we wanted and some other stuff that nobody paid any mind to.  Then she killed a girl who mouthed off.”

Of course she did.

I stared to run the group through their drills, a foul taste in my mouth.

I was reasonably sure I could have said the same things, done the same things, and I wouldn’t have gotten remotely comparable results from them.  It was…hmm it was vexing.

I’d thought I’d gotten it all out of my system, bowed before Her and all that.  For it to grate on me that a stupid person was doing better than me felt curiously old fashioned, something that decades of Her reign should have beaten out of me.

It was something like, I did a flawless impression of a Regime brute, but it was still an impression.  They could tell, on some level, that I was acting.  Smasher didn’t take a second to ponder, didn’t have to think before she acted.  It gave her an unforgeable advantage.

In the end I got over it.  I ran the group through the hand to hand drills that I’d been planning, trained them and worked them through the fundamentals of Ultra combat.  Maxing strength to toughness, avoiding death touches, when to use weapons vs. bare hands, all that.  It was a very productive session.

I put my littleness aside, reminded myself that Smasher was inside the tent, pissing out.  Whining that she was too good at her work would do nothing for me, and was pitiful besides.

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

Debrief Posse:

“Did you hear about how well Smasher did?” asked Owner, blithely cheerful.

I resisted the urge to grit my teeth, reminded myself that I was better than that, smarter than the brutal thug whose loyalty I’d gained and, you know, not jealous at all at her easy rapport with my followers.

“Yeah,” I said, flawlessly concealing my difficulties.  “It’s great.”

Owner and Builder exchanged a look, but it definitely wasn’t because they noticed my bad mood.

“Anyway,” I said, subtly changing the subject, “How did things go for you, Owner?”

She looked a little grim.

“I spent the money, things should be starting on it, but I haven’t really felt the results yet.  I’m starting to worry that my gift may just not be fast enough on stuff like this.  Maybe there are a lot of rules or stuff in the imaginary world.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll come through,” said Builder.  “You are putting in the work now so that you can sit back and rake it in later.”

“Let’s hope,” I said.  “This should ultimately come through for us in a big way, let us start bringing in things that there is no easy way to get permits to sell.  The good stuff.  Weapons, body armor, the works.”

They nodded along easily, unburdened by understanding.  They had no real concept of the world that Owner simulated, relying utterly on my old memories.  I hoped that I hadn’t steered them wrong.

“And the body armor?” I asked Builder.  “You used that patch I let you borrow?”

“Yeah,” she said.  “I made, well, I made that material, and I put some holes in it.  See?”

She held up what was basically a bulletproof poncho.

I could see what had happened.  She hadn’t had the straps, hadn’t had a real idea of how they should be, just the swatch of fabric I’d given her.  So she’d just put 3 holes in them and called it done.

“These are great,” I said.  “We might be able to make them even better, but these should work for now.”

I wasn’t sure if it was worth it to have her devote more time to this, get her to make helmets or hoods, that sort of thing.  I’d decide that later.

“It’s really going to happen,” breathed Owner, apropos of nothing.  “We’re really doing this.”

“We’ll try, at any rate,” I cautioned her.  “Remember, King Arthur beat the last two Warlords.  This isn’t going to be easy.”

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

The Plan:

  • On the 30th day we set out, the Warband and my Posse traveling in the trucks that Builder creates. We drive to within a few miles of Ar Harbor, then take up a position.
  • We attack the following day, a frontal assault led by Smasher and myself. Our Ultras against their forces (both their Round Table leadership and the various minions they have) in a pitched battle in broad daylight, with Her watching through my form using Snitcher’s gift.
  • Ideally they make their stand outside of the restored downtown that I am supposed to preserve in the strike. If not we go in after them, wreck the place up in the fighting, and have Builder restore things afterwards.

Plan Assessment:

  • Lancelot should lose to Smasher and myself, if not some of the more energetic Warband members. She is a benefit to me, someone to use for the highlight reel, make sure Prevailer is entertained.
  • King Arthur is necessary so that they have enough soldiers to give us a good fight. She is also the ‘final boss’, and will hopefully command from their Union tank.  Another excellent drama point for Her.
  • Merlin, if uncountered, will cause the enemy to win the battle. I must come up with a plan to deal with her.
  • Guinevere will be another very large problem, though not quite so big as Merlin. I believe Smasher can defeat her, but there are a lot of variables in that plan.  Ideally I need to come up with a way to handle her other than hoping she dies in the fighting.
  • In general my Yard Ultras should be man for man superior to King Arthur’s gifted troops and whatever Ultars their side can scrounge up. I am confident in the outcome of the Ultra scrum provided no other factors infringe upon it.
  • As far as hardware goes, our side has bolt action rifles with a few training sessions, their side may well have Union guns with months of training. They will have superior guns if nothing is done, which may help them to suppress our force advantage.  Builder’s efforts have gone a long way towards mitigating this, but the gap lingers.
  • I need an answer from Her on what it entails to take the place intact. I’m putting a lot of hope on it being ok to have Builder fix damage afterwards.  If that isn’t acceptable, then I need to start planning right now for how to avoid damaging this place while I have an Ultra war there.

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

 

Day 21:

Days remaining: 10

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

Non AP Action: Swap in a new plan.  You write in a new plan, I’ll give you Mia’s assessment of it.  If you don’t do this then the existing one will be executed.  The plan that is in force when its execution date arrives will be used for the actual battle, though there may be mid battle votes that could alter it in process.

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Smasher : Timeslot Available: morning

Posse: 3 or 3 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 46

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faction Rankings:

Regime 7

KEM 8

Pantheon 2

Union 4

Resistance 9

Prevailer 3

Knights 3

[spoiler=Actions]

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 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

 

[ ] Action: Direct the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful)

Motive: If I need to set my warband in motion, give them a project or whatever, it is as simple as telling them to jump.  My will is their command.

-[ ] Let [Posse Member] Supervise, takes up the Posse Member’s action, modifies success chance based on which Posse member it is, and which action

 

[ ] Action: Train the Warband (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful) [Requires a timeslot from the teacher, who should probably be an Ultra combatant]

Motive: Yard Ultras are fierce, but undisciplined.  They are warriors, not soldiers.  I can get better outcomes if I teach them some basics.

-[ ] In Ultra Combat (Gives bonuses on their battle rolls)

-[ ] In anti firearm maneuvers (Makes them suffer less casualties under fire)

-[ ] In obedience (makes them more likely to obey my orders)

 

[ ] 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.

Smasher Actions:

[ ] Recuperate [Timeslot cost All]

Description: Smasher hangs on the edge of death.  Her body and gift will try to knit her back together each day.

 

Owner Actions:

[ ] Acquire Funds [Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner takes action to get more and more valuable assets within our world, increasing her overall funding, hopefully permitting her gift’s actions to be swifter and larger in impact. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Change Company [ Timeslot cost 1]

Description: Owner presently runs a package store, located in downtown Washington.  She has, as near as I can estimate, a low six figures saved up.  With this action I can direct her to acquire licenses, expand locations, purchase other businesses, or perform similar deeds, all based around changing the operation and activities of her imaginary franchise. (Requires Write In clarification on how to do this)

[ ] Company Action [ Timeslot cost 2]

Description: This is a catchall action for anything I might think of that could let Owner impact the main battle in Ar Harbor.  Buying up local real estate and demolishing it on a certain date seems like the obvious course of action, but there are a lot of other fringe ideas that I’ve been entertaining. [Requires Write In clarification on how to do this.  The first Action spent on this is about Owner doing tests to make sure this effort will work, the second actually kicks off whatever changes I want in the imaginary world.]

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]