Comic 1163 - Try a few things real quick

Posted on 11th Jan 2019, 10:05 PM in Like a Bullet from Behind
Try a few things real quick

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 11th Jan 2019, 10:05 PM edit delete
You compliment Tesla on her achievement, and thank the girls for their help. You elect to let Edison roam out in the bunker for a while--though she's still a bit mischievous, being with her sisters does seem to have mellowed her out a lot.

You send a mental message back to those in Bunker A--both reporting this, and requesting that they start doing trade up rituals for tinfoil hats, watches... and music.

"We're gonna have to go pick up some of those," Fuse says. "Shouldn't take long, though."

You consider it for a moment--and then ask Tesla and Faraday if they felt anything while Edison was messing with the lights, and causing the static... brain thing.

"I did feel... something," Faraday states. "It wasn't any harder to think. It was just a bit weird?"

"Just a bit," Tesla agrees with a nod. "Like... like a squeezy tingly feeling."

So whatever Edison's field effect is, it causes interference--enough to disrupt the normal thought process over a radius, but not strong enough to damage other ghosts. At least, not ghosts as 'together' as Faraday and Tesla are.

...You ask her to try it again.

"Okay," Edison replies. Again, she puffs her cheeks out, squinting and squeezing her fists. The lights make a sizzling sound.

You focus on the electricity. You could feel it in the air, back at the power station--you could track the network as it emanated from the worm. You try to sense it... and you succeed, a vast field of it pushing off of Edison. It's like an aura--wild, flailing, growing out of her latent energy.

It reaches Tesla and Faraday, but their own electrical auras seem to slow down Edison's--the varying fields intertwining, pushing into each other, almost canceling out.

You squint... and focus on your own bioelectricity. It's difficult, the static blurring your thoughts, the numbness in the back of your mind drowning everything out... but you draw energy out of the red, and push it out from your body. Not a lot--not so much that you shock yourself, just... enough.

The static begins to subside. You can't pump out enough to block it entirely without possibly hurting yourself, but you do reduce the effect.

Edison finally relents, not able to force it any longer. Her energy withdraws quickly, the ambient electricity sucking back down to her body. Now that's it shrank back down, you can tell that Edison's aura is... different, than that of her sisters. All three have energy radiating off of them in subtly distinct ways, but Edison's is... more prickly.

"Any luck?," Michelle asks, trying to shake the sensation off.

You nod. There's definitely something to it... extending your body's electricity outward. Ghosts have trouble crossing fire, and they can make contact with one another with no issue--it makes sense that electricity would resist them, and what Edison does seems to be... just... kind of expanding the energy that comprises her, at least, the outer part of it.

You're basically pushing your ghost out to shield against another, more stretched out ghost.

"...Alright." Michelle chuckles, shaking her head. "That's kinda weird."

Edison's field isn't offensive--it's not an energy blast or anything, it's just... her. It's the neural voltage that makes her. It explains why she finds it easier to do while she's angry--she has more neural activity going on, then. Her energy is more... riled up, so to speak. Just like how Faraday made everyone feel uneasy while she was stretched out across this bunker, and how the worm's network running through the walls put everyone on edge, that dense ambient electricity interferes with brain activity. Edison's field has a bit more density than those did, but not quite the range, and it's still not strong enough to cause harm (the way, say, shooting a bolt of lightning would). Her ... outer energy? Has a certain barbed, tendrilous quality to it, as well--you suspect that if Faraday or Tesla replicated the feat, it wouldn't have the same effect.

You want to try one more thing.

You hold out your hand, and ask Edison to grab you again. ...And not hold back.

"Okay!," Edison replies with a bit more enthusiasm. She takes your hand.

You try the same trick--pushing electricity out of the red to meet Edison's as it begins to climb your arm.

This is different, however.

It doesn't feel like Edison's aura, it's not an extension of the outer ghost layer, it's... Edison. It's like her core is seeping into you, spreading across your musculature. Visibly, she's just holding onto you, but it feels like what she is is pouring into your body.

The burning cold, the numbness, continues to scale its way up toward your shoulder. You try to push back against it with your own electricity, but Edison's is stronger--or at least... more aggressive? You can't pin it down, but you can't seem to repel her invading energy. Well, not with what you're using--you think you could generate enough power if you really pushed, but that would mean frying your arm, as well. You can't repel her safely, there's just... too much.

You try something else--you start to offload the incoming electricity into the red, the way you grounded the blasts from the silkworm.

As soon as you start to, Edison withdraws her hand, eyes wide.

"Wh-what was that?!," she asks.

"What?," Faraday asks.

"I don't rightly know!," Edison replies. She doesn't seem... mad, just confused. ...Maybe a little bit excited. "It felt really weird, though. Like I was being pulled down a drain!"

You explain what happened--that normally, you can just... kind of shift electricity in and out of the red, that dimension things go to between your portals. As it turns out, the ghost grip doesn't just cause a shock--which, in retrospect, makes sense since there's no real damage left behind, just that weird feeling. When a ghost grabs somebody, they start to... move into them? Or through them? You're still a little unsure on that.

Michelle grins, leaning against the wall. "So, like... the red almost ate Edison."

Not on purpose!

But basically, yeah.

"So what's that mean?," Michelle asks. "If the girls are kinda... movin' into people when they touch 'em... does that mean they can possess people?"

"Yes!," Edison shouts, and pumps one of her fists.

"Nooo," Faraday replies, "no possessing people."

"But--" Tesla starts to say something, but pauses, tapping her index fingers together. She finally forces it out, quietly. "I could be a kitty."

"Okay, well, one step at a time," Faraday insists. "We need to get good at petting cats first. We don't want to hurt them."

Tesla nods. "Right. Okay!"

You're not... really sure the implication of all this is that the girls can possess people. On the other hand, you're not sure it isn't.

Ghosts are weird.

You lean down, and give all the girls a hug. They--including Edison--do their best to reel themselves in so they don't paralyze you. It does literally feel that way, as well--as though the energy that comprises them is trying to flow its way into your body, and each ghost is just... holding it back.


Cyanic 11th Jan 2019, 11:24 PM edit delete reply

Twyll 11th Jan 2019, 11:45 PM edit delete reply
I want to grant her every possible support in her quest to be a kitty.
Lunar Waffles 12th Jan 2019, 2:08 AM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
+1 tesla is the adorablests
+1 to supporting the kitty quest
psychoshen 12th Jan 2019, 8:07 AM edit delete reply
Some would say human brains are more complex than cats, maybe Tesla could be multiple kitties at once?
Limrix 11th Jan 2019, 11:28 PM edit delete reply
We've seen a number of examples now of beings without a human body still acting as a person. There's nothing stopping Mine now from realizing she doesn't need her human body to be "human", and resolving the issue of hanging in mid air, Wiley coyote style regarding our brain. We've been hanging long enough that it's pretty obvious there's no reason we have to fall. Let's fly!

Edit: Also, Tesla can totally be a kitty if she wants to! She just has to believe!
Edit edit: To clarify, I mean she could change her astral form to a kitten.
Cyanic 11th Jan 2019, 11:31 PM edit delete reply
+1 to this, but maybe we'll start with some introspective first before just jumping into the deepend
Twyll 11th Jan 2019, 11:44 PM edit delete reply
Extending from this, we also know what a human body looks like when it's *not* inhabited by a "soul"-- it's how our body looks when we're astral projecting. This means that we should be able to create a dormant spare body without risking creating another *person,* by simply copying what our body looks like when we're not in it. Theoretically, we could do this for ANYONE we've blooded-- have them astral project, memorize via Cleantex what they're like when they're not there, and then have the blueprints to make a spare body.

Granted, our allies don't really have a way of transporting their souls into a backup body if they're outright killed, but if they take a fatal-but-not-INSTANTLY-fatal wound like Caius did, we wouldn't have to find a spare body; we could make one, and then do the soul transference ritual to move them to the new one.

Edit: omg she CAN be a kitty if she wants to! If she can change her appearance, then with practice, that means she can eventually be a kitty! :D
Skullrama 11th Jan 2019, 11:55 PM edit delete reply
I'm still more comfortable with the idea of trying to develop a knee-jerk, instantaneous regeneration reflex to taking damage, as opposed to just having clone bodies hanging out in the red. Feels less likely to result in accidental extra people or 'who is the REAL Mine' scenarios...
Kumondo 12th Jan 2019, 12:03 AM edit delete reply
Plus 1 to having revelation, as Mine has been a soul outside the body multiple times, albeit with the metaphysical training wheels on.

(Edit: Also, Mine is weird.)
Limrix 12th Jan 2019, 1:33 AM edit delete reply
Appending introspective:
Mine's brain is damaged, and shouldn't be able to function as a brain given conventional wisdom. We have avoided looking at it for fear it stops working because we realize it shouldn't work. We believe this to be the source of the crack in the wall. However, it does work.
We have seen other beings that exist without a human brain as well: the ghost sisters and the Juries. We can either be bound by conventional wisdom, and continue to believe that brains are essential, and our mind shouldn't work but it does and get caught in a loop, or we can realize what we've already known for a while now: that having a brain is not necessary to be human.
This raises the question: if we are not defined by our brain, then what are we? Putting the concept of "being the blood" aside for now, I would say we are a soul.
We have viewed our self in the past as a brain supported by a body, so if the brain died, we died. But a brain is not required for a spirit to live. If we then think of ourselves as a spirit supported by both brain and body, we will have no reason to die, even if all physical vestiges have been destroyed. A ghost has no reason to stop existing if the body it inhabits is destroyed. Neither do we need die with our corporeal form, or share the injuries engraved upon it. This solves the conundrum we had been wrestling with of how our mind still functions even if our brain is damaged.
Lunar Waffles 12th Jan 2019, 1:11 AM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
+1 to the realization, anything else needs to be decided upon later i think.
Daniel 12th Jan 2019, 6:47 PM edit delete reply
Okay, I'm convinced—being entirely comfortable with not needing our brain might take a while, but we're ready for the basic insight for sure.

Twyll, good idea. I'm torn between "that's scary let's not do it now" and "we should do this for anyone not on another continent/Mars when we deal with Nilpenter".

Skullrama, good point about accidental extra people, but I think we can avoid it. Remember, we can manipulate time in the red. All we need is the *memory* of what their "empty" body looked like. Then, if they're critically injured, we pull them into the red and "stasis" them while we build a new body and set up the ritual. We can potentially even wait until we're done with whatever we're doing (e.g. fighting Nilpenter).

What this *does* suggest is that we should find a way to create a safe space for our allies in the red. We don't want to mess up a dying ally's brain by exposing them directly to the red, even when they're unconscious. And, being able to bring Dr. Finch in to help us would be *extremely* helpful in rebuilding a body, I would think.

As for "who is the real Mine"...isn't that what this revelation is fundamentally about? As Limrix said, the real Mine is Mine's soul, regardless which body (or bodies, perhaps, but let's not for now) it currently inhabits.

I think we have perhaps a better alternative to a regeneration reflex, too—we survived before because we were "dissociated", "being The Blood". It feels like we're coming closer to a state where we realize that we are always just...ourselves, whether we're running on a brain or the blood or a self-sustaining electric field. In that case if our brain is critically injured, can't we just...continue existing anyway? Prove Michelle right that dying just isn't a thing we do :). Then we can deal with regeneration consciously.

Except, Limrix, I'm not sure we can entirely put aside the concept of "being The Blood"—if the blood becomes our only available substrate at some point, we need to know what that's going to do to our cognition. It wasn't particularly pleasant or safe, last time... I feel like it might go better if we approached it as "I am myself regardless of substrate, let's try not using the brain" rather than "I am not the brain, I am the blood". Worth a try?

(I'm not sure I agree about "if all physical vestiges have been destroyed"—at least not yet. We can't astral-project ourselves without the ritual, though I have a feeling we could learn.)

One other thing: As I remember it, we can't use blood abilities as a projection. This makes some sense—the "substrate" currently running our thoughts isn't in contact with any of our blood, so we *are* a little cut off from that part of ourselves. But I have to wonder, if we become more comfortable with this notion of, uh, substrate-independence, whether we might be able to change that.

Red is a hell of a confounding factor here...what even *is* she? How did she do what she did with the silkwyrm? What is her role in...pretty much all of the above, really? And we have to be careful not to, like, accidentally absorb her and destroy her as a separate identity, at least not without her permission—I *could* imagine that we eventually *do* have to treat her kinda like the aspects we encountered during Incident F, but *she* needs to come to terms with that before it'd be okay for us to actually do.
Limrix 12th Jan 2019, 9:59 PM edit delete reply
Daniel, I like your approach of "I am myself regardless of substrate". +1 to that. We are also the blood, and at some point we need to address this, but I also don't know how yet so I didn't want to focus on it. I don't think we're in danger of destroying Red as we created her in the first place, but we do want to keep her in mind as we expand our understanding of ourself.
Skullrama 13th Jan 2019, 9:52 AM edit delete reply
I'm okay with most if what you have to say there - my concern is with keeping spare clones hanging out in the red pre-emptively. If we do that, any mistake on our part has the potential for one of them to 'wake up' and become their own person...and I would rather not rely on us just never screwing up as the means to avoid that.

Building new bodies as needed and putting our friends in them RIGHT AWAY is less dangerous.

As for Mine - surviving without a brain just cause we think we can sounds fine if we can manage to do that. Nnnnot sure if we can, but it can't hurt to think about it.
Kumondo 12th Jan 2019, 12:07 AM edit delete reply
So, um... here's the thing. We could very well do some quick SCIENCE!! right now to see if the ghost could actually possess someone. Normally I'd veer away from something like this but we do have one nicely functioning body without a soul that probably needs to eat: Mini Mine. Is anyone opposed to giving this a quick try before moving on?
Limrix 12th Jan 2019, 1:07 AM edit delete reply
I think this would be fine to try. We should check if this is something they'd want to do, as we don't know what would happen. I would vote for Faraday as the first candidate since I think she would have the best chance of being to pull herself out again.
Lunar Waffles 12th Jan 2019, 1:10 AM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
fellow 12th Jan 2019, 8:32 AM edit delete reply
Mini Mine's brain is barely large enough to let her breathe on her own initiative. It's gonna be pretty cramped for any of the girls in there.
Taenidia 12th Jan 2019, 10:05 AM edit delete reply
Lapdragon 13th Jan 2019, 1:36 AM edit delete reply
It being cramped in Mini-Mine's brain is the perfect excuse to at least try it - it might be sufficiently unpleasant that whichever of the girls tries it that they may not want to stay that way "permanently". Additionally, I like this idea, because in an emergency we could ask one of the girls to possess an empty body (Mini-Mine or otherwise), in order to do physical stuff like rescue our asses because we're in trouble.
Cuttlefish 12th Jan 2019, 12:12 AM edit delete reply
Could the ghost girls try possessing mini-Mine?
Kumondo 12th Jan 2019, 12:15 AM edit delete reply
Sorry to ninja your post/great minds think alike. :-)
Cuttlefish 13th Jan 2019, 1:13 AM edit delete reply
Hahaha, no, according to the posting times, you beat me to it!
Lunar Waffles 12th Jan 2019, 1:10 AM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
Frission 12th Jan 2019, 4:14 PM edit delete reply
Oh my god, Tesla is so cute <3