Comic 1121 - Ask one more question

Posted on 15th Nov 2018, 3:23 PM in Like a Bullet from Behind
Ask one more question

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Morgenstern 15th Nov 2018, 3:23 PM edit delete
You take a moment to process all that... and then you ask one more question.

Is there a way to strengthen your spiritual presence? Physically, you don't think there's much Nil and Carpenter could hit you with that you couldn't recover from. Mentally, spiritually... that's a different issue entirely. The last time you had to deal with Nil outside of your body, you were extremely vulnerable. Is there any method of reinforcing yourself, in that regard?

There's a lingering silence before the tradesmen reply.

"We are... unable to answer this question in a satisfying manner.

To clarify, there are many methods for strengthening one's sense of self, the non-physical existence, and one's abilities outside the body. We cannot recommend any that would evenly match you with an entity who, for nearly the entirety of its being, has known only the non-physical. That Nil is, at present, being funneled through an augmented body only further complicates the question--we cannot say, with certainty, the degree to which this has limited Nil's abilities... or if it has at all.

We could answer your question, but it would not be the answer you truly seek--it would border on deception to suggest that practicing forced syncs, for example, or further interacting with the alien half of your identity, or experimenting with forced perceptions in your astral form, would even remotely begin to prepare you for the battle that may be to come."

...Well, okay then.

You thank the tradesmen, and end the ritual. You feel... a little worn out, but nothing crippling.


You explain everything the tradesmen told you, and the deals you made.

"So Carpenter's workin' WITH Nil?," Caius asks. "Didn't see THAT comin'."

"They do have a common goal now," Fuse remarks. "...Killing us. Carpenter might not have a plan past that, or if he does, it might be to try and screw Nil over."

Caius chuckles, dryly. "Yeah, that's about right--if anyone's gonna try to betray a friggen god it's Carpenter."

"Nil's really out to get us that bad?," Michelle asks with half a shrug. "I get we shot down his thing to take over Mac, but that can't be the first setback he's ever had--guy's prob'ly older than time. Nil should just... I dunno, get over it."

"Mine is antithetical to Nil's existence," Dr. Finch points out. "Moreso than her predecessors, even. Nil wants to exterminate thought. Mine provokes it. Whereas previous bearers of the red merely made new life, and with it thought... it's been suggested that Mine actively cultivates sapience--that sense of self that keeps coming up. The proto-Juries are a prime example... one could argue that our interference has caused some level of self reflection and independent decision making they had previously avoided. While... the the the presence of a soul is still an arguable topic, I would speculate that those jarring breaks in their original AI patterns may count as "thought" as Nil sees it."

Fuse nods a little. "Not to mention a chunk of her brain taking a mind of its own here lately."

"And myself," Liz comments a bit quietly. "I wasn't a person, not even a week ago. I was a thing. I was an animal lashing out at its breeder. ...I still wonder how much of my thoughts are mine, but--"

Liz's statement hangs, drifting off. Michelle fills in with her own input.

"--Even wonderin' about it means you're makin' progress." Michelle's gaze lingers on Liz for a moment before breaking. "If I'd stayed with Vasquez, I'd prob'ly have ended up like that. I was gettin' broke down, tryin' to give up on thinkin' for myself... it was easier jus' to accept that I wasn't a person. Just a weapon, just... a body to stand in front o' other people."

Michelle looks at you, directly, meeting your gaze. "You saved me from that. ...So yeah, I get it. Nil's the opposite o' what we are. You been makin' us see ourselves as real, an' think for ourselves."

"You saved us, too," Faraday adds. "My sisters were stuck in tubes, and I was... well I don't even know what I was!"

Caius grins. "An' that's jus' gonna get worse for Nil. We're breakin' tha cycle, whatever that means--ain't gonna be no end o' tha world this time."

"The amount of thought in the universe will continue to multiply exponentially," Dr. Finch states with a nod, "without any manner of reset. In short, we are going to make life very, very difficult for Nil, if he cannot stop us."

"And he can't," Michelle replies more confidently. "We'll figure out a way. We got time, right? Tradesmen said hittin' up Carpenter's place now would set 'em off, but we got wiggle room until then."

"Some time," Fuse replies, "but we don't know how much. More time for us to prep is more time for them to prep, too--if Carpenter's ready to kick his scheme off right now, that means anything else is just icing on his psycho robot cake."

"There is... still one thing bothering me," Dr. Finch begins. "You asked how to dispose of Carpenter without risk to any allies or innocents, and the response was that... you already know how...?"

"Means Carpenter ain't got a backup plan," responds Michelle. "It's gotta be his last hurrah--we kill 'em there, in his HQ, and he ain't comin' back."

Fuse shrugs his shoulders. "I wouldn't call that no backup plan. We know him well enough by now--dude's probably wired the whole place to blow."

"That's the part that bothers me," Dr. Finch says, leaning against the wall. "...Without risking friends or other innocents. Simply marching in there and confronting him will likely lead to any number of contingencies kicking off, and for Carpenter... a contingency means any number of enemies go down with him."

A long pause sweeps the room.

Liz is the one to break the silence. "The tradesmen said we already knew the answer. They didn't say we would like it."

Everyone slowly turns their attention to Liz. Her stoic expression doesn't shift for even a moment. "Really? Is it not obvious? If Arvin had firepower sufficient to take out the entire city, he would have already threatened us with it. He threatens a restricted radius only. Mine asked how to eliminated Arvin without risk to other people--the question, as phrased, said nothing of herself. If only Mine approaches the site, only Mine is put at risk."

Michelle, who has noticeably tensed up at the suggestion, offers her thoughts. "Bull. We ain't sendin' her in by herself."

Liz gives a shrug of her shoulders so subtle, it's almost unnoticeable. Her demeanor and tone don't waver. "As I prefaced, we were not guaranteed to enjoy the answer... but that is it. If Carpenter's last stand involves explosives, then the only way to ensure the safety of everyone in this room is that no one else is there. If only Mine goes, then only Mine is endangered. I'm not recommending it. I'm simply stating the facts."

"You wanna be safe, don't be where the danger is," Fuse mutters. "When you put it that way... yeah, I guess it is obvious."

"Obvious an' stupid," Caius grumbles. "I'll take a bomb to tha face, but I ain't gonna miss out on seein' Dr. Creepo's expression when we wreck his house."

Michelle nods. "Yeah. Yeah. I don't care what Carpenter's got on his side--guns, bombs, gods, it don't matter. Nobody's doin' this alone."


Tych 15th Nov 2018, 5:10 PM edit delete reply
hmm okay so I suggest as a contingency of our own Mine works on the speed she can create blood portals and open and close them if she can pull off a psudeo-teleport with one when Nilpenter trys to kill her we might get him to kill himself without any collateral
Xylas_Incarnum 15th Nov 2018, 6:12 PM edit delete reply
Aye, we need to set up some fast bug out options. Blood portal teleportation would be the best option. Also should have something to forcibly pull people through them if needed.
Some Random Guy 15th Nov 2018, 6:58 PM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
+1. Improving the speed of all our previous redcrafts will be a very good thing to do in the meantime; blood portals, blood bugs, flesh walls (and flesh cages, I guess) are things previously done, and therefore must be practiced for future ventures.

A side suggestion of mine is practicing the creation of flesh ropes, and a sort of organic propulsion, to aid in quick movement. What I mean by this is something along the lines of the grappling-hook-and-jet-based equipment in Attack on Titan, though I assume the end product’ll be much, much different.
Limrix 16th Nov 2018, 8:23 AM edit delete reply
If we want to practice our abilities, we should really consider creating a time dilation room in the red first to maximize the time we have to train. As soon as we can make such a room, our potential growth rate jumps dramatically.
Guest 15th Nov 2018, 5:14 PM edit delete reply
hmmm.... what have we got blood-wise that might let us port others in-and-out so we can approach and evac as needed? Also, blood-port-evacing ourself is the first trick we learned, so we should all be safe if we have half a second to do that.

Can our blood-spaceship fly around in the red to transport matter around? Maybe we can make a portable command center to base blood-port jumps from.

We can even use porting in-and-out to do stop-time stunts, and pop back out healed/prepared/reloaded when only a moment has passed outside.
Some Random Guy 15th Nov 2018, 7:04 PM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
+1. Thank God we have regeneration powers, and not just human medical expertise; otherwise, we would spend quite some time in the Red, and maybe grow a month if we overuse it.

Though, before we do that, let’s try the act of immersing ourselves fully in the Red, and practice as to how we will exit it. To be honest, this full-body transportation may make us end up with places that aren’t exact as we’d like them to be; yeah, we probably need some sort of anchor to place down.
Skullrama 15th Nov 2018, 5:34 PM edit delete reply
Okay. The Tradesmen once again gave us good info for free - we now know how to workout our spiritual muscles, while also knowing it's not guaranteed to let us beat Nil. Still, not being so weak in that area seems very important going into this.

That said, next steps:

Maybe call MacLand, loop him in on all this. His input and involvement on the Nil end of things could be very uesful.

Second - time to begin our spirit training montage. What if we combine some things - astral project, and then try to talk to Ghost!Red while in our astral form. Then, while conversing with her on how to try to combine our red powers with being ghostly, experiment with this 'forced perception' stuff.
Twyll 15th Nov 2018, 5:39 PM edit delete reply
Let's see if we can do some kind of mental sparring with Red or even maybe with Mom's Red, too.

Maybe exploring the power plant would be a good chance to practice whatever we learn, too.
pkrankow 15th Nov 2018, 7:20 PM edit delete reply
Yes, we were given much free information with a free warning. We need to do mental sparring with everybody in our team. Even the folks on Mars. (Who really need to get to England.)

I wonder if Pierce, is up on lucid dreaming.

I bet the ghost girls are Very interesting sparring partners.

We also need to ask about Edison to her sisters.
Lunar Waffles 15th Nov 2018, 7:08 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
the concept of "space" is optional in the red right? could we, maybe, open two portals far away from each other on earth, but then have them touching in the red so someone can literally step in one portal and out the other?
Limrix 15th Nov 2018, 9:48 PM edit delete reply
We could do that, but we would need to put blood there first. It might also take some time.
Lunar Waffles 15th Nov 2018, 11:18 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
well, yeah, but training to do it faster was implied? i really should be more specific. x:
Frission 15th Nov 2018, 7:24 PM edit delete reply
Maybe they're referring to my weird plan I had a few pages back to simply... collapse the pocket space containing Carpenter's fake 'bunker.' If there were a way to do so, we'd just simply delete them and everything inside from existence and that would be that.

Not that I'm saying that's a very nice thing to do...
undeadDreamer 15th Nov 2018, 7:42 PM edit delete reply
We could just send *only* golems.
Tinkerbill93 15th Nov 2018, 9:55 PM edit delete reply
I say our next step should be to take a step back, maybe do another floor of bunker x and resettle our forces and ideas.
PurpleKetchup 16th Nov 2018, 1:02 AM edit delete reply
If the double-portal idea is too hard, Mine should look into building bubbles of normal space in the Red so she can put people in there for a bit without them going coo-coo.
That should give her the time to do other things without needing them to quickly exit the Red elsewhere.
Crestlinger 16th Nov 2018, 5:26 AM edit delete reply
Do All the mental training types suggested but in moderation. Having another floor of Bunker X in the arsenal might be a tipping point. If not for the reward then for what was learned and obtained getting to it, if we survive. That being said, look into blood style acid bombs: solidify, then portal in, then BOOM *Sizzle. Nothing left behind for Nil to take over and one HQ wrecked with 9999 green balloons.
1977 16th Nov 2018, 7:23 AM edit delete reply
This training is the ideal opportunity to sync with a raven to see if we can get our memories back from them like I suggested earlier.