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

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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

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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]

 

 

No update this week

I’m sorry about this folks, I hate to keep doing every other week updates for the main story.  This time the culprit is my job, which is being delightfully unstable, to the point that I give it a 50/50 I’ll have lots and lots of writing time in the near future.  I hope you understand if I hope I don’t, though!

Regime Quest 22

Results from Previous round votes:

1 Vote plan CCC

1 Vote plan Talon

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

Winning Plan:

Morning: Seek information on Regime military operations: Ask Subtractor.

Let’s get the mission parameters sorted out once and for all.

Afternoon: Relax and recuperate, by patronising entertainment areas. We’re still a bit low on AP.

Builder: Memorise patterns: Guns. We’ve solved out transport issue. Now on to the question of armaments…

Owner: Let’s take a long shot here. Owner hires a firm of imaginary people in a sort of shadow world. Vanisher sends people to a sort of shadow world. There may be a teeny tiny chance that these are the same shadow world… in which case Owner, by taking out an ad in the Ar Harbour papers (looking for ‘those vanished by Merlin’) might be able to obtain the transcripts of a series of interviews by people who know things that Vanisher didn’t want widely known. This will probably lead to nothing; but if it succeeds, it’ll be well worth it.

Smasher: Direct the Warband: Train in Anti Firearm Maneuvers. (“I’m gonna be throwing a bunch of little rocks at you lot, k? Don’t let them hit.”)

Day 19 Log :

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

-3 for seek info on Regime Military Operations from Subtracter (1 AP)

Roll 3, +0 for failure (1 AP)

-1 for R&R (0 AP)

Roll 10, +4 for critical success (4 AP)

Builder: Memorize Gun pattern

Roll 9, success

Owner: Long Shot

Roll 9, failure

Builder: Smasher, train warband

Roll 10, Crit Success

End of day, 4 AP

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

Talk to Subtracter:

“I just want to make sure I don’t fuck this up,” I told my psychotic boss.  “We both want to make sure that She gets what She wants out of this, right?”

Subtracter frowned and nodded.

“That’s a good idea,” she said.  “Sometimes people mess up, and She doesn’t like it.  If I told you ahead of time, you’d be more likely to get it right.”

I refrained from rolling my eyes as we carefully derived the concept of a requirements document, but so much more rubbish.

“I know you’ve said that she doesn’t like it when we win because of numbers.  How strict is she about that?”

She held out her hands, taking her attention away from the trembling minion who was trying to fix her pinball machine.  They were both parallel to the ground, and she sort of wavered them back and forth.

“She doesn’t, like, count.  I mean, I think She can, and to very high numbers, but She doesn’t bother with that sort of thing.  Just make sure that there are about as many of you as there are of them.”

“Does that apply to leadership and rank and file separately, or does She only count the entire units?”

Subtracter squinted at me, not seeming to understand exactly what I was asking.  She turned back to the luckless person she’d enlisted to fix her machine, who clearly had no idea what they were doing.

“Is it ok to have more awesome people, if the Ar Harbor gang has more people total?” I tried, striving to hit the proper balance between being understood and not being seen as talking down to them.

Understanding seemed to break across her face.

“Oh, yeah,” she said, “You want to have about the same number of cool people and chumps.  Make sure your posse doesn’t outnumber their main crew, and your army doesn’t have more people than their big crew.”

I nodded.

“I understand,” I said.  “And the only Posse members who count for this are the ones who are there and fighting, right?  Support Posse wouldn’t count?”

“Like, pussies who don’t fight?” she asked, bemused.  “Nobody cares about them.”

I made a mental note, if Smasher and I were the only ones who ended up fighting I only needed to let 2 of the Round Table crew make it to the battle.  King Arthur should probably be one of them, so that their warband numbers didn’t suddenly change, but the others were fair game.

“Thanks,” I said.  “And I had another question.”

I pressed on despite the warning wrinkling of her brow.  My life was riding on this, and it gave me the courage to dare Subtracter’s uncertain temper.

“Is the date of the battle exactly day 31, or can I get any leeway on that?”

“Why do you want to change it?” she asked, still seeming a bit weirded out by these questions.

“These jackasses are on to us,” I said.  “That’s probably why the other Warlords had problems.  They sent goons in town to try and take out Posse prospects, that kind of thing.  I think they might try and cock block Her, maybe run away so She doesn’t get Her entertainment, something like that.”

“Fuckers,” cursed Subtracter.

The guy fixing the pinball machine cringed down over it, as though he was trying to become invisible.

“Yeah,” she said, after a moment. “Just tell Her the new time, and you can change the big day.”

I winced.  I’d hoped that Subtracter would take care of notifying Prevailer, but that might have been naïve.

“Finally,” I said.  “I’d like to know more about what it means to ‘leave the place intact’.  I know She wants…”

“That’s obvious, isn’t it?” asked Subtracter.

“Like,” I tried, “If things get broken, but Builder fixes them back up, would that…”

I trailed off as Subtracter lost her patience, stalking forward and grabbing the repair guy.

“Fuck you,” she told him, dragging him out of the door as he shrieked in fear.

I froze, memories of my brother and neighbors rising in me, even as Subtracter cocked back her arm.

“Don’t,” I started to say, but crushed down my voice into a sort of inarticulate squawk, like a clearing my throat noise.

Subtracter gave a snarl, and tossed the man into the sky.

Those in my village who resisted had gone the same way.  Rising out of my life with despairing screams.

“Fucker,” she said again.  “Let’s find someone who doesn’t suck.”

I kept my composure until she was out of my presence, betrayed only by the sweat on my brow and the hammering of my heart.

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

Rest and Recuperate via public entertainment:

No matter how much things went to shit, people were people.

I’d abandoned my plans for the day, put everything to the side as I tried to get memories of Subtracter’s assault on my village out of my mind.  I knew myself, knew I’d be good for nothing if I let myself spiral.

Beautiful flute music rolled gently over me, the performer coaxing sweet sounds from a battered and obviously well loved instrument.

I relaxed into my booth, trying to let myself really listen to the music, pushing the screams that plagued my subconscious back down into the depths of my mind.

“Get a grip” I told myself.  “Its in the past.  It already happened.  You don’t gain anything from dwelling on this.”

That went about as well as reasoning myself out of being sad always did.  I gritted my teeth and winced as my brother’s dying scream played out yet again.

“Hey bitch!” shouted someone.  “Cut that shit out!”

I was moving before she finished, eyes focused once again on the world around me.  An Ultra had walked in the door and was stalking towards the stage.

The performer dropped her flute down to her side, bowing her head in apology.

“Are you fucking confused?” asked the Ultra.  “Did, ‘get dinner’, sound like ‘bow into your fucking stick’ to you?

Before the human could respond I stepped out in front of her, placing myself in her owner’s path.

“Fuck you,” I told her.

“Warlord, I…” she began, recognizing me instantly.

She was a short woman, curly hair, Sigil a beret.  No one I knew.  Probably no one important.

“You stop the fucking music?  You going to play?”

I kept the questions rapid fire, keeping her off balance as I closed.

“I…no, this bitch-“ she tried, her words tripping over one another.

“This bitch plays the flute,” I told her.  “And I’m guessing you don’t, so she is officially more interesting to me than you.”

The Ultra took a step back, hands out in a placating gesture.

“She’s yours,” she said, stepping backwards again.  “I didn’t meant to-“

“Get out,” I told her.

She took a step back.

“Of the Lair,” I continued.

She paused, protest visible to in her face.

“Or you could die,” I told her, reaching lazily out towards her face.

It was, occasionally, gratifying that everyone knew of my death touch.  She kind of wilted in the face of my provocation, and basically fled into the streets, running as though I was right on her heels.

I turned back around and slid myself into the seat, waving lazily at the performer.

I’d see to her after this, make sure she landed on her feat somewhere.  It shouldn’t be hard.  There were plenty of Ultras who’d sponsor someone with a useful talent.

As the music started up again, I realized that the screaming in my mind had gone quiet.

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

Debrief Posse:

I was annoyed, but not terribly surprised, to find that my evening debrief was still just me, Owner and Builder.  Smasher only volunteered the morning slot for good reason, it was the only time she was even vaguely sober.

“Guns?” I asked Builder.

“Guns,” she said.  “They were super simple, once I started to think of them as basically small trucks whose payloads were bullets, and whose tires were triggers.”

I chuckled.

“Sure,” I said.  “But you can make them?”

“Without any trouble,” she said.  “I’ve got the patterns for the bolt action things the warband scrounged up, and also for some pistols that shoot a lot faster.  I can make them out of another one of these.”

At that, she showed me one of her little pouches of material shards, like the one she had for trucks.  Soon enough she’d have a bandolier of these things, if I had my way.  I wanted my very own Adder, and Builder was as close as it got.

“Do you think you could make better guns?” I asked.  “If you we got you some?  Would you need another session with them?”

She gave a hesitant nod.

“I’d probably need another afternoon to work on them.  But, like, I wouldn’t be worried about failing, if that makes any sense?  I feel like I have a basic understanding of shooting related stuff at this point.  I’d be very surprised if there was too many more new things to learn.”

I thought she might be underestimating the artisans of the past, but I left is aside for now.

“Owner?” I asked.

She gave a sad, slow headshake.

“I don’t think their disappearing gift and mine go to the same place,” she said, simply.

I’d kind of expected that.

“So wasted effort?” I asked.

“Not entirely,” she answered.  “I am getting some income from the rental properties now.  I think the imaginary world is taking my interest in missing people as, like, a reason to think we are better or nicer people?  So it is sending me more clients?”

It must be frustrating to have such an imprecise gift.  Mine was hard enough to understand, but everything about hers had to be learned through laborious trial and error.

“Sounds good,” I answered.  “Not as good as the info we wanted, but something at least.”

“It might help if I wanted to buy, say, guns?”

She looked pointedly over at Builder, giving her a lazy smile.

“There might be permit issues,” I guessed, “for the kind of guns we need, but it shouldn’t be impossible.”

They grinned over at me, the same expression on two separate faces.

“And our third?” I asked.  “Did Smasher tell anyone how her day went?”

It was Owner who gave the answer.

“She said it sucked, that they sucked, and that your plan sucked.”

“So…not so great?”

“Well,” Builder chimed in, “She decided to focus on hand fighting training, then changed her mind to imagining everyone in Fists.”

I rolled my eyes.

I remembered that game from my early days, picking a group of five and trying to imagine how they’d work as Fists.  I’d never heard of anyone actually going through with it for training purposes, however.

“Yeah, she decided to split everyone up and have a ‘Fist Tournament’, where they would fight in groups of five.”

“I guess that didn’t work so well,” I said, “what with their being 17 of them and all.”

“Yeah,” Owner, seizing the story back again, “So she marched them out and dragooned other Ultras, grabbed six in the first batch and it still didn’t work out.”

“How many do we have now?” I asked, slowly.

“25,” said Builder, “Though the new ones may not be quite up to the quality of the ones you got in the Yard.  And they’ve had a day of hand fighting training, and there are 5 lieutenants, or ‘fist leaders’ as she calls them, so they are a little more organized than before.”

“Fine day’s work,” I said.

And really, it was.

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

 

Day 20:

Days remaining: 11

AP available: (4 at end of day + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 5/10

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: 25

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]

 

 

Fisher 9:2

I stood, awkwardly, not sure whether I was about to get jumped or not.

An onlooker wouldn’t have seen any reason for the sudden increase in my tension.  I was still on the carried platform, still standing amid a bunch of milling, squabbling white clad kids.  Nothing had obviously changed.

But, of course, that only meant that what had changed was subtle, less apparent.

Vampire and Oro knew who I was, somehow.  They knew at least something of my mission.  Their power exceeded my own, exceeded that of my entire Fist, probably.  With my cover blown, there was nothing stopping them from taking me out, here and now, with no repercussions.

Wait, something about that thought seemed off, off in a way that resonated with my thoughts on my situation.

What would the repercussions of taking Zilla out have been?  Nothing, right?  These were the Brides, their authority was next only to that given to Zeus.  Perhaps the reason that they weren’t acting like anything had changed was that, to them, nothing had.

Oroboros gave a polite cough, pointed me over to Vampire’s card game.  I went willingly, still trying to recover my equilibrium.

I sat down across from her, the Bride who’d formerly occupied that seat giving way eagerly.

I didn’t reach for the cards.  I couldn’t tell exactly what game they were playing, and trying to add a random element into whatever was about to happen could only end badly for me.  Better to let them direct things, try and roll with the punches.

“Regime, huh?” asked Vampire.

There wasn’t any curiosity in her voice, none of the wonder that she had to be feeling at encountering a denizen of the only place that truly challenged her master.

She just sounded bored, jaded.  Old beyond her years, the kind of voice that found the world to be hopelessly tedious and entirely unsatisfying.

“Yes,” I said, simply.

This was a pose, I told myself.  No matter how powerful she was, those who surrounded her should be similarly mighty.  She was aping at Her posture, the blithe unconcern of the world’s strongest Ultra.

Like all teens, she was the furthest thing from uncaring, at least about the opinions of her peer group.  She should be exceptionally insecure, but would die before she showed it.

“You are here to find monsters or something?” she asked.  “What’s that about?”

I gave a meaningful look at Oroboros.

“She sees your past and future,” said Vampire, “But, like, the future gets messed up when she tells you about it, I think, so it is better that you tell us.  If I ask her I’ll get the version that is there before you hear her talk, and so on.”

I was proud that I avoided choking at that news, though a sort of shiver or tremor passed through my form before I could check myself.

I didn’t think she was boasting or bluffing about the gift, that seemed like exactly the sort of almighty bullshit this group would be packing.  But that meant that…

“We’re trying to make monster soldiers for you,” I said.  “My Fist leader just had her gift tuned to allow it.”

I was spinning out a bit here, forced to speak without more than an instant to contemplate, all the while trying to wrap my head around what her gift might show her.

My bet was that it didn’t go deep into what other people might do.  So if I would one day see monsters from Haunter and the healers, that’s all they’d get, my moments with them, not the fact that these were people who would have little to no interest or capability to help out the Brides in their rampage.

“Why?” asked Vampire.  “Doesn’t she want to defeat us?”

It took me a second to realize that she was referring to Prevailer, without the capitals.  It was a weirdly world tipping moment to see someone, especially someone so young, just do that.

“She…” I paused, “She doesn’t rely on us to fight.  She is like Zeus, She-“

And all of a sudden the atmosphere was different.  Glares from every quarter, even Oro’s.

“Not like Zeus,” I corrected myself.  “Prevailer does Her own fighting, we aren’t for that.”

Vampire actually laughed, a strange, genuinely joyful sound that made me realize anew just how young she was.

“On this we agree,” she answered, “not like Zeus.”

“So you are here to assist us?” pressed Oroboros.  “Your Fist want to join up and fight the Union?”

“Exactly,” I said, knowing that her gift might see straight through this.  “They’ve waylaid us, betrayed us, ambushed us at multiple turns.  If you’ve really seen our past, then you know that the Union has only ever been our enemy.”

“Five more Brides?” asked Vampire, “In strength at least?  We send them in first?”

Oroboros shook her head, frowning dubiously.

“Maybe 2,” she said, “But most of them wouldn’t have qualified for our ranks.  This one, in particular, is essentially helpless.”

It would have been the perfect moment to make some kind of badass move, just level her and leave no doubt in everyone’s mind that I was the furthest thing from helpless, but there was nothing I could do.  The Brides who surrounded me outclassed me in ever respect, and with my Hook off with the others I had substantially no combat capabilities.

“None of us are helpless,” I rejoined, because the perception of weakness could sometimes be more dangerous than the real thing, “As Death could report, if we hadn’t killed her.”

Vampire raised an eyebrow, looked over to Oro, who gave her a solemn nod.

“Wow,” she said.  “I didn’t expect that.  We don’t really have a lot to do with the Council, where we are trained.  I think of them as, like, Brides who have jobs or whatever?  They are supposed to be strong, though, so if you guys could kill her…”

She trailed off, gnawing on a knuckle.

“We can be useful,” I said, emphasizing the last word.  “We have a different training than you, a different set of gifts.  There is a lot that we can do for you, and it doesn’t cost you anything.”

She gave a skeptical look at a Bride that hadn’t been introduced to me, looked over to Oro.

“A test,” I proposed.

The random Bride scoffed.

“You are going to fight one of us?” she guessed.

I shook my head.

“You’ve got plenty of fighters,” I responded.  “But not so many you need to be losing them in trivial stuff like this.  We’ll prove ourselves to you another way.”

I cast an appealing glance over at Oro and Vampire, trying very hard not to look like I was begging.  I wasn’t sure exactly how I was trying that, but that was the basic energy I was going for, a sort of an ‘I can’t be bothered to come up with this but I’m game for whatever’ face.

They looked at one another.

“They could do the questioning,” suggested Oro.  “I saw that pretty clear, so I it is definitely a thing they could pull off.”

Vampire sort of perked up, seeming to fully invest in the conversation for the first time.

“Hey, yeah, that sounds fine.”

She looked me in the eye.

“We caught the Union general after the battle.  Break her, get any info she has, and we’ll let you guys stick around, go first into fights and stuff.”

With the greatest of efforts I managed not to shriek.

The universe was fucking with me.  A mission to interrogate a human the instant I’d forsaken my ability to alter their values?  It wasn’t remotely fair.  Had I pissed off any prophets lately?  Was this Predictor’s work?

“No problem,” I told them.  “We’ll break her in the hour.”

I turned on a heel and stalked off, not giving them any more time to think about it.  The idea that this would actually establish us as useful or loyal didn’t make any real sense, and it wouldn’t stand up to the flimsiest argument.  I had to get out of there, get back to the team and regroup.

Nobody tried to stop me, or seemed to follow me.  I let my shadow guide me to the others, mind whirling a mile a second the whole time.

Could we stay here, with our cover blown?  We would have to if Haunter was going to pull off her plan, get bodies for all her guys.  There were thousands of them, it would take days and days.

I focused my attention on my Hook form, directing the group back towards the Lure, having to practically haul Haunter away from her conversation with Lotus.

There was a ‘trouble’ gesture for the Hook that we’d worked out, but I didn’t want to use it.  Oro had apparently seen my future, which would now be my present, and it seemed like it might somehow hurt her current impression of me (based on the her in the past seeing the me at this time, which would have been my future) to look worried.

Or something.  I hated time gifts.  Everyone did, who didn’t have them.

We converged quickly enough, making our way through the milling throngs and coming back together, all of us, with both my bodies leading.

“Loki,” said Preventer, raising a hand in greeting.

I shook my head and walked closer, lips pursed tightly together.

“They know,” I said, when we were standing in a tight formation.  “We are busted.”

“How?” asked Preventer, at the same time as Haunter and Dale asked “What?”

They glared around, but I’d made sure no one was standing close by before talking.  Someone might have an eavesdropping gift, of course, but I was willing to bet none of Zilla’s minions would dare anything like that with her.

“Everything,” I answered, looking to Dalefirst.  “They know just about everything.  There was a Goddess there, one of the Brides, who just plucked the information out of the air with her gift.  They know we are Regime, my real name, and at least a general description of our gifts.”

Dale looked around.

“Then why…”

“I guess they are too cool?” I responded.  “Or maybe they are getting a kill party set up?  I was able to talk them into giving us a task to prove ourselves, but I pretty much made it up, and I have no idea if they’d actually honor us for accomplishing it.”

“Did they accept my elevation?” pressed Preventer.  “Can we play the ‘Killed Death’ card?”

I shuddered.

“I don’t think you want these people thinking of you as strong, being among them…” I trailed off for a second.

“I can’t describe it.  That many Brides, so many people who could all end your life instantly.  Even the Sniper Court doesn’t compare.  I didn’t just have Vampire to fear, I felt like anyone might have just decided to kill me, at any time.”

“It’s a consideration,” said Haunter.  “I appreciate that it must be a deadly environment.  But you’ll have to go back there.”

I guess she could see from my face what I thought of that idea.

“To announce our success,” she continued.  “We will do the Bride’s dirty work, hope against hope that they are smart enough not to throw away something useful to them.”

“They seem,” said Dale, pausing a second, “very smart.  I’m sure they will do what is best for their mission, and for their Divine Father.”

He clearly thought we were being observed.  I wasn’t so sure myself.  It was certainly not beyond their capabilities, Brides might have any damn gift, but my guess was that most of them were focused on battle.  Oroboros had probably been some kind of minder or coach, but the majority should be more like Vampire or the belligerent one.  Just brutes, kids with too much power and too much fear.

“There is a captured Union general,” I said.  “They want us to break her, grab all the info that she knows.”

We exchanged meaningful looks.  They knew the bargain that I’d made with Andy, what I’d given up for my ability to shift my forms around so fluidly.

“No problem,” said Nirav.  “Let me at em.”

That was, of course, just a bluff.  Nirav wouldn’t take the chance of burning an innocent in a situation like this, it would be like calling out for Condemner to return.  But he was wisely playing up the tougher side of himself, probably doing the same thing that I was, trying to retroactively fool Oroboros’ gaze.

“That won’t be necessary,” said Preventer.  “Or remotely wise.”

Dale flagged down a passerby, asking for quick directions to the Union prisoners, and we were away.

I was dismayed to see that they were being kept in the heart of the throng.  It made a lot of sense, but I’d still been just hoping that for some reason they’d be on the edge, where I could imagine slipping away from this perilous situation.

I’d never realized just how much I’d counted on my ability to rapidly swap between forms, hiding myself in my shadow.  It had become something like a security blanket, and now that I was deprived of it, forced to move both of my forms manually, I was realizing just how much I missed it.

The place we were heading was marked by a circle of Ultras, Goddesses I suppose, no Brides among them.  They were shoving a bound woman back and forth across the midst of them, laughing cruelly as she stumbled.

They fell instantly silent when they saw the Lure’s flame hair.  I wasn’t sure if Vampire had bothered to circulate my true identity, but if she had it certainly hadn’t gotten to this part of the march yet.

Haunter caught the general, if that’s who the battered figure was, just as she started to tumble, turned her around like they were dancing.

Dale reached down and casually ripped the gag off of her mouth, freeing her to take a series of shuddering gasps.  It must have been agony to march with something like that restricting your airflow.

When she finished gasping she looked up at Haunter, eyes almost vacant.

“Jerry Greggs, General, Serial Number Eight Seven One-“

“General?”

Haunter cut her off.

“Jerry Greggs, Gen-“

“General?” Jane asked again, putting hands to her head.

Something like reason seemed to return to her eyes.

“Yes,” she said, “Serial Number Eight”

I jumped at the sound of the pistol shot.  Haunter’s shades’ guns sounded just like the real thing, and they did the same damage.

General Greggs clutched at her killer, eyes widening as red gushed from her throat.

Wolf whistles rose from the gang around us, appreciative clapping and stomping along with it.  I acknowledged their support with a wave of my hand, trying to ape Zilla’s distinctive nonchalance.

They didn’t know the half of it.  Haunter would never have killed someone so casually.  It simply wasn’t in her to do something like that.  Which meant that this wasn’t a killing.

Jane thrust her away, letting the dying form drop like a manikin to the ground.  She didn’t even break stride.

She must’ve used her gift on the woman, taken her into her reserve.  She’d been willing to do this, to kill her form without hesitation or compunction, because she was certain that the reserve were finally about to be returned to life.

It might solve our problem.  She could get information out of the General, I had little doubt.  Her training wouldn’t have covered whatever hells Jane could conjure up in the place where shadows dwelled.  It also made us look lethal and ruthless, which was a big plus.

All told, a big step forward.

I just wished I wasn’t so convinced it was down the wrong path.

Regime Quest 21

Results from Previous round votes:

3 Votes: Plan Humage on SV

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

Winning Plan:

[X] Humane plan

-[X] Rest and Recuperate : By using my gift to heal people (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost 1, refunds 5 on success)

-[X] Deal With Smasher : Write-in : Search for Blend that could heal its user (self-repairing toys exist, as do malleable toys that snap/ooze back into place after being damaged, or even objects that are simply immortal) (Timeslot cost: 1, AP cost ???)

-[X] Action: Direct the Warband : Help me look for this stuff ! (Timeslot cost 0, AP cost 1, returns 1 if successful

-[X] Owner action : Improve building to make it more comfortable and secure, and start renting it in the other world as an additional income stream [Timeslot cost ???]

-[X] Builder Action : keep working on those bus patterns ! [ Timeslot cost 1]

Day 18 Log :

1 AP at start of day (0 at end of last day +1 for half night’s sleep)

-1 for heal people (0 AP)

Roll 6, +5 for success (5 AP)

-2 for find healer for Smasher (3 AP)

Roll 2, +0 for failure (3 AP)

-1 for Get Warband to Help (2 AP)

Roll 7, success (3 AP)

Owner: Improve building + start renting in other world

Roll 3, progress

Builder: Finish Bus Pattern,

Roll 10, Success

End of day, 3 AP 

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

Heal the Sick & Injured:

I tried my best to keep the disdainful smirk on my face as my gift knit the man’s leg back together.

It wasn’t easy.  I’d always derived a deep, personal joy out of using my gift to help people.  This was what the Ultras could have, should have been.  Selective breaches of the laws of physics to undue the worst parts of an uncaring world.

“You belong to Her,” I told him.  “Your flesh, your soul.  Make sure to take better care of Her property, going forward.”

He groveled appropriately, which was something of a relief.  Much more dangerous would have been thanking me profusely, which happened a fair bit.

I tried to put Snitcher out of mind as I worked.  I’d chosen a morning, I was doing my very best ‘evil Ultra’ impression, I’d done all I could.  The die was cast.  If he had a problem with this then I’d just have to deal with the consequences.

I didn’t really have time to mess around, anymore.  My schedule was getting exceptionally tight, and I had to make sure that everything was in place.  I decided to do a quick mental once over, working on what I’d already done, what I still had yet to do.

Most importantly, I’d gathered a Posse.  If I could find a healer for Smasher we’d be looking at two combatants, both of us, if I flattered myself, first rate.

We could fight two on four, if we had to, but another possibility kind of suggested itself to me, now that I thought about it.

If there were only two of us, then only two of them had to make it to the confrontation.  It would probably be ok to have KEM take one or two of them out.

Aside from the posse, I’d also started gathering my warband, thought that had a bit more to go.  I was about a third of the way there, however, and our quality was fairly high.  The Yard had been an excellent choice for recruits.

King Arthur’s forces apparently had roughly fifty lesser Ultras, but now that I’d read the report on him it seemed like a lot of those were probably humans augmented by his gifts.  The actual core of Ultras might well be a lower number.

The guy I was helping got up, moved out.  I gestured at the woman who was managing this impromptu operation to help in the next person.  She’d been doing a fine job so far, which was another thing that didn’t always happen.  I’d once had a mob form when I started promising free healing.

It wasn’t a fond memory.

My Posse might be excellent hand to hand fighters, and I could probably rely on them in the scrum, but there were still a few complications to get around.  The last team had been attacked in transit by a Union drone strike, and it sounded like they had a number of guns in Ar Harbor.  Maybe I could do some training, get them better at taking cover, have Builder make some kind of armor?

As far as the Union strike went, I’d have to be as careful as I could not to let something similar happen to us.  I was already going to be using trucks instead of walking overland, was there anything else I could do?  If Builder was making trucks, would it help to have a truly ridiculous number of them?  Could I armor them?  Worth thinking about.

This was all ignoring the elephant in the room, however.  Smasher had been attacked, quite possibly by the Knights of the Round.  If that was the case, then they were keeping an eye on me, and my attack would be actively defended against.  My odds of success went way down if I wasn’t the only one preparing.

I wasn’t sure what I could do to stop them from interfering, of course, it would have to depend on how they were watching me.  In all probability they had agents in the city who were observing me, but I didn’t immediately see a way to figure out who they might be.

The next civilian shuffled in, knuckling her forehead and trying to hold back tears of pain.  I put thoughts of the future aside as I beckoned her over.  The present deserved my full attention.

 

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

Find Healer for Smasher:

“This was all of them?” I asked.

The dark haired woman, Jumper, nodded solemnly.  “All we know about,” she said.  “Or at least all the ones outside the Lair, that would come when we called.”

I cracked the door, peeking into the half ruined room.

“There are two people in there.”

She had the grace to look a little embarrassed.

“It’s a hard ask,” she said, “And a lot of people didn’t really understand that we are with you yet.  We might have got a few more if we’d had one of your posse members.”

“They were busy,” I snapped.

“Between these and the ones you found in the Lair,” she pressed, “I hope we got what you were looking for.”

It was my turn to be a little embarrassed.  My own efforts had been entirely unfruitful.  People hadn’t seemed to even really understand what I was asking for.  A few had begun, haltingly, to describe a ‘weird Ultra’, who they’d heard ‘used her gift on hurt people’.  I’d stopped them when it became clear I was getting a telephone game version of my own description.

“What am I getting here?” I asked.  “As far as their gifts go?”

“The woman is Healer,” said Jumper.

“That sounds promising,” I allowed.

“She can mold flesh, sculpt it like clay.  Your girl has knife wounds, right?” she asked.

“Sword wounds,” I corrected, “But it’s the same concept.”

“Ok, sure,” she said.  “She can just pinch the sides of the wound, close it up.”

“Anything to worry about?” I asked.  “Side effects or whatever?”

“It apparently takes a while,” she said.  “Like, she has to reach in and pinch the blood roads or whatever, and join the bones and stuff.  If she messes up it could actually make it worse.”

I thought back to the stinking, blood covered hulk that we had slung into a random room in the Packer House.

“I doubt that.”

“Ok,” she said.  “The other one is Unhappener.  He can make stuff unhappen to anyone he touches.”

“Make stuff unhappen?” I asked.  “What does that mean?”

Jumper looked uncertain.

“He doesn’t talk, so it is kind of hard to say.  The girl I took him off the hands of seemed kind of afraid of him.”

“Like, the wound just closes?” I pressed.  “No catches?  Dude’s gifts always have weird stuff about them.”

Jumper just shook her head.

“I think he, like, goes back in time or something.  I don’t know, I wouldn’t fuck around with that weird fucker.”

Time travel? That wasn’t a thing, I was pretty sure.

“Well,” I said, “Let’s go find out what they want.”

I stepped away from Jumper and opened the door, peering, as always carefully to both sides of it.

Across the room Healer looked up from where she was crouched, flashing me a smile.  She was slim and dark haired, considerably shorter than most.  Unhappener was laid out in the middle of the room, flat on his back in the middle of the carpet.

“Hello,” I said, addressing Healer.  “I hope you’ve been briefed about the situation?”

She nodded.

“Yep,” she said.  “You’ve got a Posse member laid up with a wound right through their Ultra toughness.  I can help.”

She had a high, thin voice.  It wasn’t unpleasant.

“And the cost?” I asked.

She looked down, then back up at me, hope clear in her eyes.

“You have a lot of influence, right?  With the people in the Lair?”

“Yes,” I said, solemn now.

“Well,” she said.  “I really need an influential friend.  Third Fist exiled me, said my healing was making people weak, that Her Ultras shouldn’t need me.  I’ve been trapped on the outside ever since.”

“Third Fist kicked you out?” I asked, surprised she’d lived through that.

“I used to work for them,” she said.  “They would have me heal people.  Then they turned on me.”

There was probably a little more to that story, but I didn’t need the details now.

“Simple enough,” I said.  “If I get them to lift their ban, you’ll heal my gal?”

“Like you said,” she answered, “Simple enough.”

I looked down at Unhappener, who seemed to be doing his best impression of a plank.

“What’s your deal?” I asked.

He didn’t answer, or show in any real way that he heard me.

I looked down at him, at something of a loss.  I noticed a piece of paper stuffed into his belt.

I reached towards it, then pulled back.

I had a touch based gift myself.  I could kill someone with the briefest contact.  It made me, perhaps, a little over cautious.

I looked a his limbs, looked at my own, estimating how fast he might move, how likely it was.

I chanced it, snatching the note out of his belt, never touching flesh to flesh.

The note’s content was simple.

“Tell him what you regret, then touch him.  We will escape together.  All rivers run eventually to the sea.”

I looked to the note, looked to the form lying insensate on the floor before me.

“I’ll be in touch,” I told them, and stepped carefully to the door, touching neither of them.

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

Debrief Posse:

“That’s some weird shit,” opined Builder, leaning back on Owner’s bed and taking a sip of her beer.

I looked across the room to Owner, who was similarly taking her seat on my bed.

“Time travel isn’t a thing,” she said.  “We’d be better off going with Healer.”

“Third Fist though,” said Builder.  “We don’t want any part of that.”

“It probably wouldn’t come to anything like that,” I answered.  “They are only rarely in the city, and it is really weird to imagine them taking an interest in someone of Healer’s quality.  I feel like this is probably mostly in her head.”

“Like, she just thinks they kicked her out?” said Owner, dubiously.

“It is easy to get overawed by a Fist,” I pointed out.  “Like they say something casually and you think it is some kind of commandment.  That might be what’s going on here.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said.  “In the meantime, how did things go with you guys?”

Owner went first, with a look on her face that told me before she spoke a word that I wouldn’t like what she had to say.

“I made a little progress,” she said.  “I got those alarms you talked about scheduled to be put in.  I’m trying to get stuff set up so it is less dependent on electricity that we don’t have.  I also tried to start lending out the homes there on the other side.”

“That all sounds good,” I responded.  “And?”

“Well, none of it has happened yet,” she said.  “I guess maybe it takes some time in this old world simulation to find guys to live in the house or get lock guys up or something.  It’s all started, but no progress on the ground.”

“Well,” I said, “I guess that’s that.”

I looked over to Builder.

“Your thing?”

She grinned at me, taking a nonchalant draught of her beer.

“No trouble at all,” she said.  “I got the patterns, made a truck, drove it to Owner’s place to stock us up.”

There was no need to ask, ‘on what’, the house had more alcohol than some breweries.

“I’m glad that worked,” I said.

“Better than worked,” she said, “I also made this.”

She opened her other hand, held up a pile of what seemed like junk.

“Is that…” I asked.

“Yup,” she clarified.  “A tiny sample of everything I need to make a truck.  I could turn this into a brand new truck in a few hours, and if you have drops of the liquids we could drive it away.”

Spectacular.

“Alright,” I said.  “We can probably get some little bottles-“

“Someone say bottles?” asked a voice from behind me.

Right behind me.

I’d never moved faster, throwing myself to the ground and rolling away from the voice.

Smasher, on her own to feet, standing casually just about where I’d been, with a Smasher sized hole in the door.

“I..” I started, then trailed off.  What the hell?

“New room, who dis?” she asked, eyes wandering across us.

How the hell hadn’t I heard the door being destroyed, why hadn’t either of the other two…

“I’m Blender, the Warlord,” I said.  “I brought you here after you were attacked.”

Her gaze stopped on the beer in Builder’s hand, and she was in motion instantly, striding across the room.

“You were, your…” I continued to sputter, to stutter.

There was no trace of a wound on Builder, not either of the big gashes that there had been before.  Not even any blood on her shirt.

“My sis here?” she asked, plucking the beer out of Builder’s hand.

It was a smooth movement, a casual reach and pull motion, but I had no doubt that that nothing could have stopped it.

“She died,” I said.

She started walking towards me with that same smooth motion.

“She-was-killed-by-our-enemies,” said Owner, words slurring together in her eagerness to make sure she was heard.

“Oh yeah?” said Smasher, coming to a stop.

“My beer!” protested Builder.

“Yes,” I said.  “The Ar Harbor Ultras sent assassins to kill you while you were, um, incapacitated.”

“Drunk,” she corrected.

“Yes,” I said.  “Well your sister must have-“

“And high,” she said.  “Or low, whatever the stuff did.”

“Have fought to defend you,” I finished.  “I’m sure she died bravely.”

“What happened to your wounds?” asked Builder.

“Hm?” said Smasher, “Oh, smashed em.”

Smasher drained the beer in a single long pull.

“Are we fighting them?” she asked.  “Those people who attacked me?”

“Yes,” I said.  “We are.”

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

 

Day 19:

Days remaining: 12

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

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: 17

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]

 

 

Regime Quest 20

Note from QM: Sorry if there are typos or errors in this update, wasted a lot of time arguing about GoT episode.  Will fix ASAP if there are any.

 

Results from Previous round votes:

2 Vote: Plan Hammer on SV

1 Vote: Plan CCC on my blog

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

Winning Plan:

[X] Plan Hammer

-[X] Write-in : Get the new minions in line. Owner and Builder and are in charge of them even though they aren’t personally strong (They’re my lieutenants! And their gifts are useful, see? Builder is transportation, while Owner is food and luxuries! And in large fights you’ll see that their gifts won’t be useless). Spar, start them on group sparring and the basics of working together.

-[X] Invite Ally into Posse: Smasher (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 3, refunds 3 on success)

-[X] Builder and Owner : Set up barracks of some sort for the warband.

-[X] Builder : Memorize Patterns (keep working on the transportation) [Timeslot cost 1]

-[X] Owner : Seek Information on Regime military operations by asking around (Timeslot cost: 1; AP cost 2, refunds 1 on success)

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

Day 17 Log :

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

-2 for Get the new Minions in line (2 AP)

Roll 5, +1 for borderline success success (3 AP)

-3 for Invite Smasher into Posse (0 AP)

Roll 1, +0 for failure (0 AP)

B&O: Build Barracks

Roll 9, success

Builder: Finish Bus Pattern,

Roll 1, failure

Owner: Ask about Regime Operations

Roll 6, success

End of day, 0 AP

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

Train Minions to Obey B&O:

“This isn’t complicated,” I told them.

A line of surly faces greeted my statement, eyes carefully not rolling.

I’d lined them up against a vacant building, as part of my process of sorting out which of my seventeen recruits had which gifts.  It had been an excellent idea to hire at the yard, I hadn’t needed to kick any of them out for being blatantly unsuitable for the kind of thing we were doing.

Not that I would, actually, but even a Warlord who DIDN’T want her troops to suffer heavy attrition would have kept these ladies.  Fine gifts all around.

“They are weak, though,” said one of the braver ladies, up in the front row.  “Force rules the world, and they don’t have any.”

I walked carefully down the line to her position.

“Name?” I asked.

“Jumper,” she said.

“Jumper,” I said.  “Why do you think I’m not constantly challenge for my title?”

She shook her head mutely, not venturing an opinion.

“Am I that scary?” I asked.  “That fierce?  Nobody wants any, not in the whole Lair?”

Another front liner spoke up, a scarred girl with just one eye.

“You are the Warlord.  That means you are Hers.  Nobody wants any part of that.”

I did finger guns at her.

“Exactly,” I said.  “I am Hers, so your fear of Her transfers to me.”

I looked back to Jumper.

“They are mine, get it?  It’s the same thing.  You will obey them because you fear me, just as my peers recognize my right to gather you lot together, because I am doing Her will.”

“It’s like…” interjected the one who’d just spoken, “a mountain, and She is at the top, and then everyone else goes down along the line or something.”

I listened carefully as she rediscovered the concept of ‘hierarchy’, nodding along as she got to the end.

“Exactly,” I said.  “Like a mountain, which is incidentally what the last of my Posse will drop on you if you get smart with me.”

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

Invite Smasher into Posse:

Frowning, I knocked again.

The last time I’d come here the younger sister had been prompt.  Useless, but prompt.  This time there was no one.

I sniffed the air, suddenly catching a scent I’d last noticed at Picker’s house, rich and iron.

I put a hand to the door, then thought better of it.  Satisfying as it might be to steal some aspect of its integrity, that would lead me with ‘locked’ or some such, and that could get me killed.

Instead of Ultra power I substituted common sense.  I walked along the wall, coming quickly to a window.  One elbow later and there was an opening.  Ultra toughness meant never having to worry about glass shards.

The room inside confirmed my fears.  Blood dripped from furniture, pooled in the moldy carpet.  The younger woman who’d greeted me at the door last time had been decapitated, her head nowhere to be seen.  A guy had had both his legs hacked off, he’d expired halfway under a couch.

I checked my immediate impulse, didn’t rush inside or call out.  This had happened last night if I was any judge.  It wasn’t likely that the assailant was still here, but it wasn’t impossible.

I moved down the wall, stopping at another window, then broke that one too, peering inside.  From here I could see the part of the room that had been parallel along the wall I’d been looking through last time.  No one seemed to be lying in wait.

This time I climbed inside, taking care to do so in one fluid motion, my senses aflame with notions of an executioner waiting beside the entry.

No one struck at me.  No one else was in the room.  Just two bodies and a terrifying amount of blood.

I paused a moment, looking down at one of the bodies.

I hadn’t been wrong from the window.  She’d been *hacked*, her neck cut clean through.  What the hell had done that?

My thoughts went to the Knight’s scythes, but that didn’t make a lot of sense.  They were bottom feeders, attacking Smasher’s crew wouldn’t gain them anything that I could see.

I moved to the interior door, careful not to make too much noise.  If anyone was waiting they would have heard my entry, shattering the glass had botched that, but there was no reason to let them know down to the second when I’d be coming through the door.

I reached out, took hold, and carefully twisted the knob.  I was ready to throw myself to the side at any moment if a blade came through.  I’d been caught out once by someone striking through a door, only my Ultra toughness had saved me.  The caution had been hard earned, and I wouldn’t put it aside now.

I thrust the door opened.  More blood, more horror.

Smasher lay crumpled in a pool of blood and booze, with a pair of forms slumped atop her.  Her eyes were wide and staring, and a broken sword jutted up out of her shoulder.

I looked to the left and right, making sure that the room was empty, before I moved in.  I had the sickening feeling that I knew who had done this.

Nothing about the assailants was terribly distinct.  They were a pair of middle aged men, fat around the middle, grotesquely twisted and broken by Smasher’s hands.  It was what they were carrying that gave the game away.

Swords.  Actual fucking swords.  Like the kind you’d find in a museum.  The kind that someone obsessed with old stories might give to their pawns when they sent them off to do murder.

Seemed like I wasn’t the only one preparing for the upcoming showdown.

I reached down to the broken blade, planning to pull it out.  I didn’t have any particular plan for what to do with it, but it seemed like it might have some interesting properties to blend away.

When I touched it Smasher came awake with a hoarse scream.

“Aaah!” she shouted, flailing the other arm.

Only the fact that she was awkwardly positioned kept me from having my torso wiped away by that aimless swipe.  I dropped down on my ass and kicked myself back across the room, skidding through the blood and booze.

Smasher’s wide eyes focused on me and she started to say something, before collapsing again, face down in the mess.

I saved the newest member of my posse before she could drown.

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

Debrief:

“So Smasher is…” asked Owner, wringing my tee shirt out.

“She’s one of us,” I insisted.  “She just doesn’t know it yet.”

They nodded carefully, giving one another the ‘you say it’, eyes.

“It’s fine,” I insisted.  “It’ll be fine.  You should see what she did to the killers.  She’s the one.”

“She’s a mess,” said Builder, “right?  Like, we were already hesitating on her before, when it was just the addictions, now she has sword wounds?  Are you sure she’s going to be worth it?”

“This makes her better,” I insisted again, thinking of the end of my sentence even as I began it.  “The problem before was motivation, right?  Well, King Arthur and his crew just killed her sister and all her handlers.  She’ll be all set for revenge.”

“Ok,” said Owner, heading off Builder before she could press the point, “How are her wounds?  How long before she’s up and around?”

I twisted my lip, uncertain.

“A few days, at least,” I said.  “A lot depends on how her particular Ultra Toughness works.”

“We don’t have a huge amount of time,” said Builder.

She held up a hand as my eyes narrowed.

“I’m not trying to argue,” she said.  “I’m just saying that we might not be able to wait for her to heal naturally.”

“Enough about her,” I said.  “If need be I’ll seek out an Ultra Healer.  My gift may not help our kind, but there’s probably someone who can.  Or maybe she’ll recover on her own.”

They clearly had more to say, but I think that they could see that I was kind of at the end of my rope.  The day, these relentless days, had taken a lot out of me.

“Alright,” said Owner.  “Well, we have some good news there.  The barracks?  Totally awesome.”

I grinned.

“Nice to hear something went well.  What did you go with?”

Before she could answer I pushed ahead with my next line.

“Did you consider, like we talked about, a private security firm?” I asked.

“I tried,” said Owner, “But it seemed like I didn’t have enough money to rush that through, like there were a lot of permits that were needed or something.  It seemed like it might take weeks or months.”

She smiled apologetically.

“I’d been doing those readings you gave me, and there was an apartment out in the suburbs.  I figured since the real stuff shows up in my store, and the ‘stuff’ in an apartment place is, like, rooms…”

“I like it,” I said, looking to Builder.

“It went just like you are thinking,” she said.  “Owner said she spent a lot of her money, but she bought the whole complex, and as soon as she was renting it in her fake world the building changed over here, then I took over, really put the finishing touches on the place.”

I could *feel* the interesting things I could do with that, the implications, but I was fading fast.

“And the buses?” I asked.

Builder shook her head.

“Owner…”

“I wasn’t comfortable,” she interjected.  “Going out and talking to people.  I can’t fight, not like you can, and a lot of people really get mad that we charge for the stuff in my store.  I asked Builder to come with me.”

I couldn’t find it in myself to be mad.

“Ok,” I said.  “Tell me what you got.  Don’t worry about the trucks, we’ll try again some time.”

“Buses,” corrected Builder, looking perhaps a bit worried.

“Whatever,” I said.

“Well,” said Owner.  “Last time you found out that Burier’s team got hit by the Union, right?  Well, I followed up on that.  Apparently they didn’t have any cars or anything, they were actually hiking to Ar Harbor.”

“Just out in the open,” said Builder.  “Like, in a big line on the road or whatever.  So they had to camp out.”

“Sure,” I said.  “You can’t cover that kind of distance in a single day.  Not on foot.”

“This girl,” said Owner.  “She was there.  She swears up and down that the night they got hit there’d been some new girls in town.  Pretty ones, sigil chasers, you know?  Says they were there early in the night, but she doesn’t remember burying any.”

“Maybe they guided the strike?” I guessed.  “I’m not sure that’s actually a thing, like, I think the Union can hit people just fine without anyone on the ground.”

“It was just a thing that stuck with her,” said Owner.  “Anyway, I also got some stuff on the big battle in Ar Harbor, after they got blown up.”

“They got mobbed, right?” I said.

“Yeah,” she confirmed, but she swears up and down that the 40 Ultras that took them on had humans backing them up.  Some guys with guns, maybe a dozen or so, hanging out on the upper stories of the buildings.”

That was just great.

“Old guns?” I guessed.

“Yeah,” she said.  “One shot at a time.  Rifles, probably.”

“Anything else?” I asked.

“The tank,” she said.  “The flying tank?”

“What about it?”

“She said it looked totally bitching.”

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

 

Day 18:

Days remaining: 13

AP available: (0 at end of day + 1 for 6 hours sleep) = 1/10

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Smasher : No Timeslots Available, will auto attempt Recuperate until success or critical failure

Posse: 2 or 3 out of 3 slots filled, depending on what I do with Smasher

Force size: 0

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

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

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:

[ ] Deal With Smasher (Timeslot cost: Varies, AP cost varies)

-[ ] Wait and see: (0 timeslot, 0 AP)

Motive: She may live, she may die.  We’ll make her comfortable and wait to see what develops.

-[ ] Kill her (0 timeslot, 1 AP)

Motive: Every Monster

-[ ] Seek Healer (2 timeslots, 3 AP, returns 2 on success)

Motive: I need her in my posse, and I’m not willing to change the natural healing process.

-[ ] Other? (Write in, I’ll answer)

 

[ ] 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]

 

 

Fisher 9:1

You’d think that the impending arrival of the Grand Host would be the most frightening thing about my situation, but it barely rated.  Instead, I was engaged in a frantic struggle against myself, trying without noticeable success to get used to my altered gift.

Andy hadn’t lied.  I’d been able to alter my Lure, heck, I could alter my Hook.  I’d lost the ability to submerge them into shadow, but gained instead this…elasticity?  It had been child’s play to take on a form that approximated Zilla’s.

But what he hadn’t mentioned was that I had no easy way to hold my form still.  It took a constant bit of attention to keep myself from running and flowing like wax.  With every step I took I had to fight the desire to reshape my foot a little, just to maximize the leverage I could get on this or that particular surface.

It wasn’t exactly hard, per se.  I wasn’t like, mentally carrying a weight out at arm’s reach or something, but it was something that I had to keep an eye on, all the time.  I told myself it would become second nature in a while, like keeping your fingers from moving while your hands were at your side.

It had, at least, kept me distracted throughout the somewhat stressful events of the previous evening, and of this morning.

Fifth Fist had showed up, we’d bargained with them to let us keep Andy while he finished altering me, then he’d left with them.  Dale had brought Bull and the others, aside from the unfortunate Noon, up out of the ground, and I’d given them new marching orders.

With Zilla’s ‘burning’ hair and too wide grin on my newly altered Lure they’d put up no resistance, instantly taking me for their mercurial former master.  I’d kept the Hook with the rest of the Fist, letting them think that Fisher was hiding away her girl form for the time being.

After that we’d used Dale’s gift to head out, leaving the captured Pantheon skiff behind.  Preventer had advocated for putting it to use somehow, but we weren’t a hundred percent sure that the Union couldn’t monitor and/or detonate it remotely, and it would have been one more thing to explain to the Grand Host on arrival.

“How long are we going to wait here, Loki?” asked Bull.

I held up a hand, making sure that it didn’t waver or change.  I hadn’t been sure about going back into Zilla’s weird semi anonymity, but it had been what her minions expected, so I was going with it for now.

“No much longer,” I told her, giving her a weirdly flirtatious wink.

She cringed away, although I couldn’t tell if that was me overacting, something about my face had shifted, or something else entirely.

I settled back to wait, gazing out with equanimity over the rocks and rubble that surrounded us.

Dale had been expecting to catch up and pass the Grand Host almost instantly, but it had actually taken him a few hours at his top speed.  They weren’t just marching, they had some kind of gift that was speeding them up.

It seemed to work in fits and spurts, warping them forward every once in a while.  We’d tried to time things out such that they came on us in one of the times where they were conventionally walking.

I cheated a look over at Nirav, where he stood with the rest of our group.  In a sense, of course, I was standing by him, but the amount of concentration I was spending on making sure the Lure didn’t deviate from my ‘Zilla’ disguise made me kind of center myself in this form.

He didn’t look back, didn’t acknowledge me, but I was sure that he knew I was watching over him.  He’d gone without hesitation up onto the jail, after all, trusting in me to watch his back.  We’d taken down the original owner of this form together, even without the Link.

I snapped my attention forward as the shield of the Grand Host hovered into view, rising up over a low hill and moving towards us at a walking pace.

It hadn’t been visible from a distance, but it was obviously the same shield we’d passed through on the way to the central fort, and then again on the way out.  They were taking the shield Ultra with them, then.  More evidence for Haunter’s theory that the healers she sought would be with this army.

If they hadn’t died in the battle, of course.  That was always a possibility.

“Wow, they really brought everybody,” said Bull.  “Do you think Arena is here?”

I shook my head, giving her another smile that was slightly too wide.  I didn’t have the slightest clue, of course.

The enormous colossus, the fake Zilla, had apparently died in the earlier attack, or at least had stopped using whatever gift made her so large.  But as for the Ultra who’d created the fort, I had no idea.  I could see arguments for them bringing her, or for leaving her to accompany Zeus and the rest of the higher ups whenever they arrived.  Very little would surprise me at this point, but the real Zilla probably would have known, so guessing would be unwise.

“Not long now,” I said, as the first of the Grand Host filed up over the rise.

They looked nothing like a conquering, divine army.  They didn’t even really look like Ultras, although by now I was mostly used to the Pantheon not going by our Sigil tradition.  They just looked like a few dozen hikers, a bit tattered and dusty from travel.

I’d imagined a number of possibilities for the Host catching sight of us.  I’d imagined them attacking instantly, which we’d parry with Indulger’s ground manipulation and Preventer’s barriers.  I’d imagined them falling back and calling for the Brides, which had its own contingencies.

One thing I hadn’t bothered to game out was what to do if they saw us and didn’t really react, just kept on trudging forward.

That was what happened.

The first few dozen became a hundred, then several hundred.  They didn’t hold any real formation, didn’t seem to be particularly being led by anyone.  It was just a milling group of people, stomping gamely towards a distant horizon.

I suppose, from their perspective, there was no need to react to such a small group.  If we were Pantheon, we’d just fold into their numbers.  If we were Union, well, they’d just seen off a host of the Union’s best troops, they weren’t going to fret about ten more.

“Loki!” cried one of the Ultras in the throng.  “Is that you?”

I bounded in her direction, pouncing up on her and nuzzling at her neck as she laughingly fended me off.

“Easy, easy there!” she said, pushing at my shoulders.

The real Zilla, of course, would have reinfected her there, but there wasn’t any way for her to know that.

I didn’t recognize this person, which wasn’t a huge shock, since I hadn’t spent a lot of time in the central fort, but something about her bearing screamed ‘best girl’, or ‘right hand’ to me, and I decided to treat her as such.

“In the flesh,” I told her.  “And I’d like to thank you for saving me the trip back.”

Using the Hook’s gaze I could tell that this interaction had satisfied the rest of the Host that this new group was part of its number. They moved up and engulfed us without any further comment.  The Pantheon folks immediately set to finding old friends, while the Fist waited nearby.

I wasn’t terribly concerned about someone noting the shadow connecting ‘Zilla’ and the Hook.  It would be a worry in a bright room, but in the cloud of dust that the tread of thousands kicked up it would take an eagle eye to spot it, and even then I could just come up with an explanation.

She gave a nervous laugh, covering it up with a hand, like a princess character on one of Dale’s wrestling vids had.

‘Number One’, as I was thinking of her, was tall and dark skinned, with a nose that had been broken a long time ago.  I couldn’t see any particular sign of what her Ultra gift might be, but until proven otherwise I figured no one in Zilla’s immediate orbit would have touch delivered gifts.

“The Brides get what they want,” she said.  “And they wanted the Crusade to move out.”

“I understand,” I said, mostly to set her at ease.  My experience with the real Zilla suggested that Number One had spent this whole trip worrying that she’d be instantly slaughtered by death worms inside her or whatever the second I found out that the Host wasn’t where I’d left them.

“Legion is here,” she said, quickly, “Everyone is here.  If you want to talk to-“

I cut her off with a wave of my hand.

“I’ll talk to everyone, in due time,” I said.  “For now, are the healers here?”

She looked puzzled for a moment.

“Yess..” she said, slowly, “Aesop and Patra are, of course, part of everyone.”

The Hook saw Haunter give vent to a rare expression of joy, the smallest possible fist pump.

“Do you need healing?” she continued.

I laughed out loud.

“Have I ever?” I asked.

From what I understood of Zilla’s body she couldn’t really have been injured.  She could have lost mass, but as far as injuries went she’d just shapeshift her body back into its normal mode.

I wasn’t sure that the same would hold true of me, I hadn’t really had a lot of time to experiment on my form before bringing Bull and the others up.  I intended to act as though I could be injured, and accept it as a happy surprise if I could somehow plaster it over with shape changing.

“I’m sorry,” she said.  “I didn’t mean to imply-“

I cut her off again, this time by shaking a finger.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said.  “They are for someone else.  For my part, I should probably talk to whoever was in charge until I showed up, right?”

I had less than zero desire to actually fight a leadership challenge here, not least because there was no possible way that I could win it, but the ‘Zilla’ role demanded at least the pretense.  I’d simply have to back down once I saw the Brides’ terrible power.

Number One blanched.

“Vampire is in charge,” she said, hastily, the words stumbling over one another.  “You can talk to her right over there on the carried platform.”

I was turning away even before she was finishing.

Zilla had been, so far as I could tell, a figure of fairly absolute power and fear in her organization.  She could kill anyone at will, knew things that she shouldn’t have been able to, and never seemed to take any damage.  So far as I could tell, her own people had never figured out the gimmick behind it all, so she should still be thinking of me as this veritable Goddess.

And, given all that, she was STILL more afraid of Vampire.  That was fucking ominous.

People gave way before me as I pushed my way through the mob, pausing here or there to glomp onto someone who seemed a bit familiar with my persona.  Zilla, or Loki, or however that worked, was still respected enough that no one tried to bar my passage.

It was easy enough to tell where I was going, too.  She hadn’t lied about there being a carried platform.

A number of the Ultras were stumbling along, hefting a slab of Arena’s weird neon colored material, on which a bunch of Goddesses in white were lounging about.

It wasn’t hard to guess at the ranking here.  The people in earth tones, the ones averting their gaze the instant they saw my fire hair, they were Zilla’s minions, the Ultras of the Grand Host.  The girls in white, kids, really, they were the ones in charge, the Brides of Zeus.

I vaulted up onto their platform, the sudden increase in weight making one of the bearers flinch.

That was interesting.  They weren’t using people with Ultra Strength then.

“Nice hair,” called one of the Brides, her tone making a mockery of the phrase.

“You like?” I asked, taking a quick step closer, and letting my tight control of my form slip just a bit.

I cycled the hair rapidly, blue then green then yellow then back to fire.  I never broke stride.

“Or is this better?” I asked, leaving it ‘burning’ down with a pale blue flicker.

The Bride who’d spoke rolled her eyes, and lazily raised a hand to point at me.

Before anything could escalate further another one of them spoke up.

“Zilla, right?” she said, and the sound of her voice was enough to make the one who’d been pointing lower her arm again.

I put a finger to my lips, but nodded as I did so, letting my hair burn back to its normal color.

For all Zilla’s faux affectionate behavior, I understood that getting handsy with this crew could see me killed in short order.

“I’m Oroboros,” she said.  “Oro for short.  I help Vampire not MAKE SO MANY MISTAKES!”

She’d yelled the last part, over her shoulder at one of the younger Brides, one who seemed to be the focus of a good deal of attention, she was playing a card game with some of her cohorts.

“Nice to meet you,” I said.  “I love what you’ve done with my crew.”

Oro held out a hand for a shake.

The challenge was clear, and there could only be one possible response.  Like so many other situations in our ridiculous world, to show weakness would be the worst possible answer.

We clasped hands for a brief moment, then she turned and presented me to the younger Bride, who was presumably Vampire.

“I’m Vampire,” she said, so yep, good guess there.  “I’m in charge, unless you want to be dead?”

She said this in kind of a bored monotone, like whichever fork of this tree I went down was fine for her.

A lot of people liked to do this kind of a bored, threatening vibe.  But for some reason this kid struck me as somehow less of a poser than most.  Something about her attitude said that she fundamentally didn’t see a difference between a future where she fought Zilla right here and one where I worked for her, going forward.  It was a matter of supreme indifference.

“And I’m-“

Oro cut me off before I could finish.

“This is Fisher, from the Regime.  She’s pretending to be Zilla, who her boyfriend killed earlier this morning.  She and her crew are infiltrating us as part of some dumb scheme to make monsters or something.”

The only sign I gave of my incipient panic was my eyes widening just a bit.  There was no possible way that she could know that, aside from a gift just fucking telling her.

But of course, that must have been what had happened.  These were the strongest Ultras in the world.  Why shouldn’t they have a gift that lets them see the past?  What had I presumed I’d-

“Cool,” said Vampire, already looking back down to her card game.

 

Regime Quest 19

Results from Previous round votes:

3 Vote: Plan Nevile on SV

1 Vote: Plan CCC on my blog

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

Winning Plan:

Morning: Seek Warband Members

Afternoon: Investigate Acquaintance: Grower

Owner Action: Investigate Acquaintance: Replayer

Builder’s Action: Investigate Acquaintance: Smasher

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

Day 16 Log :

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

-2 for Seek Warband Members (3 AP)

Roll 7, +1 for success (4 AP)

-2 for Investigate Acquaintance: Grower (2 AP)

Roll 4, +1 for success (3 AP)

Owner: Investigate Acquaintance: Replayer

Roll 6, success

Owner: Investigate Acquaintance: Smasher

Roll 6, success

End of day, 3 AP 

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

Recruit Warband Members:

“I know your dreams,” I told them, “For they were once my own.”

I gestured as I said it, just a kind of vague hand waving motion that they could interpret however they wished.

The Ultras of the Yard looked up at me, a figure silhouetted against the sky, a speaker towering atop the barrier that they could not cross.  I had no doubt they’d come up with a suitably imperious meaning for a simple wave of my hand.

“You dream of glory, glory won in this place.  You dream that those within will look upon you with favor, and invite you to share in our riches.”

This time the gesture took both hands, as I brought them together on the word ‘riches’, miming a grasping or grabbing motion.

“You are right to dream of this, my sisters!” I cried, raising my voice as I made my appeal.  “Right to desire entry to this place.  For this is the heart of the world, the hub it all revolves around.”

I gave them a conspiratorial grin, exaggerating the motion wildly to make up for the fact that they were a good distance away.

“All good things,” I quoted, “come to Shington.  All the riches of the world, all authority and all might, flow from this place, and nowhere else.”

I reached down to my side and lifted up a can of Owner’s booze, an old world delicacy utterly unavailable to these poor souls, and drained it right there in front of them.

My eyes widened as it burned, and I narrowly averted a coughing spell.  I hadn’t actually had all that much to drink in recent months.  I probably should have replaced the liquid in here with something milder.

“All good things,” I continued, “and you.”

I set the glass down and pointed, letting my finger wander from one to the next as I monologued.

“You, the hungry ones.  The strong ones.  The young ones.  You have so much to prove, and the way is so narrow.  I know this, and you know that I speak true, for I myself but recently walked this narrow way.”

I brought my other hand back up as well, pointing out people on the other side of the square.

“This is your chance.  This is your moment.  The glory that you sought, that you’ve striven for, killed for?  It can all be yours!  I am the Warlord of the Regime, and I have come here today to witness your valor.”

Clapping and whistling greeted this proclamation, Ultras shaking fists and standing alert before me.

“Show me what you’ve got!”

I took my seat then, slumping back into the chair that I’d appropriated from Subtracter’s proxy.

It was a good thing that I’d brought along more of Owner’s refreshments, because the morning that followed was spectacularly boring.

I sat.  I watched.  I took the pledges of the worthy.

When all was said and done I had 17 names for my warband, seventeen Ultras to lead into battle.

Their gifts were simple and straightforward.  Ultra strength, Ultra speed and Ultra toughness predominated among them. 

Unsurprisingly their levels were mediocre, to be generous.  None of those who had the potential to be invited on their own merits had taken my offer, for roughly the same reason that I’d never signed on with the last Warlord.

It was a crap gig.  If they fought well, then I would be rewarded.  If they fought poorly, then they died.  My recruits were a mixture of those desperate enough to leap at even this chance, and those dim enough not to understand the nature of the gamble they were undertaking.

It was a start.

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

Big Debrief:

I knocked on my bedroom door, then waited a discrete interval before stepping inside.

“How’d it go?” asked Owner, tossing me a canned drink.

“Not badly,” I told her.  “Not great, exactly, but not bad.”

“Grower agreed to join up?” asked Builder, wrestling one of her shoes away from Napoleon.

“I didn’t officially extend the offer,” I said, “but she expanded on the ‘you call, I’ll come’ promise that she gave last time.  She is absolutely down to be a member of my Posse, she’ll fight alongside us if we pick her.”

Owner went over to the white board, checked off ‘willing’, by Grower’s name.

“How about…” she asked, moving the marker over to ‘capable’.

I gave a simple nod, taking a sip of my drink, only to immediately spit.

“Owner, this is diet soda!” I protested.

She just looked at me, bewildered.

“What’s…”

“Diet soda was a kind of poison we used on rats,” I told her.

Builder chuckled.

“Anyway,” I said, ignoring the temptation to blend the ‘cheap’ out of the soda, “Grower is capable and clever.  I feel like, in time, she might well have succeeded to my position.  She hasn’t made any mistakes that I know about.”

“What’s she asking for?” asked Owner, tapping the marker against the whiteboard.

“Nothing in particular,” I told her.  “She is probably planning to move up into this position when I move out.  Prevailer often finds things for successful Warlords to do, which would leave an opening for Grower.”

I gave them both a meaningful look.

“Oh, yeah, that’s no problem,” said Builder.  “We obviously couldn’t ever be the warlord.  If we pick her we’ll let her know that she’s next in line.”

“She’s really ok with being paid totally in the future?” asked Owner.

“Remember I gave her a blend,” I told them.  “She’s already benefitted greatly from my patronage.  She intends, I believe, to keep on doing so.”

Owner checked the ‘capable’ box, moving her marker along to ‘powerful’.

I pursed my lips.

“She’s…” I paused.

“She’s probably fine, right?” said Builder.  “She’s ultra tough, and that growing power can be totally lethal.”

I massaged my forehead.

“It can, sure, and there’s the obvious synergies with both of your gifts.  But it can’t beat Ultra toughness, and her own toughness isn’t all that high, and the blend I’ve given her isn’t exactly Ultra speed, it’s more…”

I trailed off, holding out a hand to the side, wobbling it back and forth.

Owner nodded, sadly, and moved the marker down to the next row.

In the privacy of my mind, however, there was one more box, and with some reservations I checked ‘moral’ off for Grower.  I didn’t think she shared my own sympathies, didn’t think she’d ever join KEM or the Resistance, but as far as I could tell she didn’t go out of her way to be brutal to the humans.  It factored into my decisions.

“How about Replayer?” I asked Owner.  “How’d your meeting go?”

Owner grinned.

“I like her,” she said, immediately.  “She’s cool.  She threw cans up in the air and shot them, and, like, it was amazing.  She juggled them with bullets.”

“You like everybody,” complained Builder.  “A test that no one can fail isn’t terribly useful.”

That was a surprisingly good point, coming from Builder.

“Let’s go down the list,” I said.

“She’s willing,” I continued, remembering our last discussion, and the offer that she extended.  “but I’m not sure how capable she is.”

Owner nodded along at that.

“Yeah,” she said.  “I hear that.  After the show she had to ask me where she could get more bullets.  I don’t think she thinks stuff out ahead of time much, or, like, at all.”

“Was she maybe trying to trick you?” I asked, “Giving you the wrong impression?”

“I guess,” allowed Owner.

I doubted it, though.  I remembered her offer to gun down people in the streets of the Lair, an offer which, if accepted, would almost certainly have led to her immediate death.

“She was, like…” Owner paused a second to pick the word, “sort of carefree, yeah?  Like she kind of just lived in the moment, or whatever.”

I moved the marker along.

“Powerful is easy,” I said, checking it, “She’s got Ultra speed, ultra strength, and something that more or less doubles for Ultra toughness.  On paper she’s one of the finest combatants in the Lair.”

“Did she reveal anything about her rewinding power?” asked Builder.  “Like, did you maybe suggest she use that to get her bullets back, then see what she said.”

“Oh,” said Owner, “That would’ve been really smart.”

Inside my mind I left the ‘moral’ box unchecked.  Anyone who would commit mass murder to prove a point wasn’t operating on any ethics that I could coexist with.  The two of us were enemies, although Replayer didn’t know that.

I looked over to Builder.

“Did you have any better luck than I did with Smasher?” I asked.

She chuckled at that.

“It could scarcely have gone worse, maybe if I found her dead or something?  Nah, it went fine.”

“Do tell,” I directed her.  “What is she like when she’s sober.”

“Morbid,” said Builder.  “I never really noticed it during the Ultra Fights, but this girl is seriously sad.”

“Oh yeah?” asked Owner.

“No question,” said Builder.

She took a deep breath, catching it in her throat to produce a sort of ‘fake cry’ kind of voice.

“When I…when I look at you, or at other Ultras, it’s like I see all the people who died, the people who died for our gifts!  Like, why is it us who gets to live, huh?  Why didn’t we die with them?  Waaha Waahaha!”

“She’s depressed?” I asked.

Builder gave a helpless shrug.

“I was gonna go with wacko, but that sounds like a fine word for it.  She hates herself, hates the rest of us.  She is an Ultra who thinks the whole concept of Ultras are, like, wrong or whatever.”

I nodded along.

“You think that’s why she self medicates?” I asked.

Builder nodded.

“Also because drugs make you want more drugs, right?  But yeah, I think the root of her problem is that, going by what she told me, her whole family took the Process together, she was the only one who made it out.”

Jeez.

“I see,” I said.

“It was apparently a long time ago,” continued Builder, “But, like, she doesn’t seem to get over it or whatever, she just keeps beating up herself about it.”

“Did you talk to her handlers?” I asked.  “They seemed to have her best interests at heart, when I went there.”

“Yeah,” she said.  “That was a good tip, I wouldn’t have thought of talking to the humans if you hadn’t suggested it.”

Of course she wouldn’t.

“They tell me that there’s a sort of schedule.  They give her different pills, a little time with Blisser, that kind of thing, when they need to get her ready for an Ultra Fight.  People kind of bend over backwards to accommodate someone with Ultra Strength three, so she’s always had the clout for it in the past.”

“Oh,” said Owner.  “That’s great news.  It sounds like if we just need her for the one battle, we can have them ramp her up for it, right?  Like, it’ll be just like an Ultra Fight for her.”

I quirked my lip at that.

“But she wouldn’t be helping us in the meantime, wouldn’t be interviewing people or gathering soldiers, wouldn’t really contribute anything but fighting on the day of.”

Mentally I went through the boxes.

Willing, sure, or rather, the concept really didn’t have meaning for her.  I could get her to fight, I was pretty sure, as long as I set it up far enough in advance.

Capable, hah.  Not remotely.

Powerful, yep, Ultra strength three.  If I wanted to throw a mountain at Ar Harbor, it was on the table.

Moral, yeah, actually.  It sounded like she might be a little TOO moral, actually, but she clearly felt keenly the central injustice of our times.

“So that’s all of them,” said Owner, after a little pause.  “Which one do you think we should invite, Blender?”

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

Day 17:

Days remaining: 14

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

Prestige: 3

Timeslots available: 2, morning and afternoon

Builder Timeslot Available: afternoon

Owner Timeslot Available: afternoon

Posse: 2 out of 3 slots filled

Force size: 17

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,

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

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

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

 

 [ ] Seek new residence [ Timeslot cost: 3, returns 1 if successful ]

Motive: I could get a lot more done if I got a full night’s sleep

Concerns: Owner and I have guarded one another’s rest for a long time. I wouldn’t necessarily be able to trust a new person to the same extent.

 

[ ] 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.

  

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]