Comic 1169 - Mess with auras, listen to CDs

Posted on 24th Jan 2019, 5:38 PM in Like a Bullet from Behind
Mess with auras, listen to CDs

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 24th Jan 2019, 5:38 PM edit delete
You update everyone on Willard's, uh, adventures.

"Well," Michelle begins, "at least we know there ain't no other rats runnin' around out here in the middle o' nowhere. I'd hate to think they could come bustin' outta the bathroom walls at any second."

You also conduct a quick test--first by getting the phone number of the burner phone you tossed into the red. It... takes a bit of work, as you have to make little not-really-finger-like appendages to cycle through the phone's information. Once you have the number, though, you ask Caius if he can call it.

"Uh, sure," he replies. He... kind of squints, and tilts his head a little--and the phone in the red begins to vibrate.

"It's ringin'," Caius states. You nod, and confirm--Caius's phone can reach to the inside of the red, which means if you (or anyone else) ever gets stuck in there, Caius can be reached as well.

"Huh," Caius replies. "So I can call into tha red, and into... uh... wherever tha tradesmen are."

"The red's some kinda pocket dimension," Fuse points out, "and we're still not even sure where the tradesmen are. ...Probably another dimension, though. I know it's been said, but--damn, that's a good phone."

Caius chuckles. "Right? Ya even get used to it bein' in your brain after a while."

You ask Fuse if he can use his pyrokinesis real quick. You're... mildly curious how it affects his aura.

"Sure," he replies. He looks around for a moment for something to light on fire, before settling on some blank sheets of paper. He sets them on the floor. You watch his aura closely.

As the papers burst into flames, there's... definitely something happening. His aura becomes more erratic, flailing outward, not specifically at the papers but definitely in that direction--not touching them, per se, but almost leaning toward them. The motion of the energy is hard to describe--something between a shudder and... just... kind of whipping that way. It feels very imprecise, like a jerk or a convulsion.

Fuse kills the flames after a second, and again, his aura reacts--in a very similar fashion, in fact, though the details are far from identical. It also seems to be a slower, more drawn out sort of... jerking around, when he subdues his flames compared to when he makes them. You're not sure what to make of it.

Thinking about auras does make you curious about something else, though. Your electricity is biological--and you can convert biological components into others. That should include your aura.

You attempt to pull something out of the red via your aura. After a few moments of straining... nothing happens, though your aura does shift and sort of... pull itself in a bit. It may need something more tangible to work as a proper entrance.

Just to be sure, you convert some of the electricity in your aura into blood. This does work, though it's rather odd to see the blood just... kind of appear in the air like that. You pull more bioelectricity out of that blood, focusing on having it resemble the energy in your aura. It mostly works, though a few sparks kick off, and it takes a second for the energy to adjust and fit into place--you're still a tad inexperienced, in the big scheme of things, when it comes to energy manipulation.

"Err," Dr. Finch narrows his gaze, staring up at the blood you're just kind of... floating around. "Don't you normally require a container of some fashion in order to levitate blood...?"

Well, yeah, but it is in a container. It's inside


your aura.

"Oh, shit," Fuse remarks.

Okay, maybe you hadn't really registered that part. You are, indeed, manipulating blood through the air, within the container of... well, technically yourself. Sort of.

Dr. Finch's expression briefly seems to short circuit. "The... the the excess output of your body's natural electricity... counts as a container for purposes of..." He shakes his head, almost going to adjust his glasses before he realizes he's still holding a CD in each hand. "Well then. That... potentially changes a great deal."

Liz holds her hands up for a moment in an unenthusiastic shrug. "If your powers require a container and your aura counts, why didn't this work before?"

"She didn't know about auras," Fuse says simply. "Couldn't feel them until recently."

"Yeah," Michelle adds. "Blondie works on some real power of belief type shit."

"...That's really stupid," Liz replies.

"I mean--" Michelle grins, and shrugs. "Kinda, yeah? We don't make the rules, though. Cosmic god stuff."

"The rules, such as they are," Dr. Finch begins, "by and large tend to be insane at worst, alien and irrational to a human perspective at best. Perception and understanding on the part of the user have consistently been a component in what Mine's been capable of up to this point, however."

"And her mom," Caius adds.

"Yeah," Michelle agrees with a nod, "her mom did some goofy stuff with perception, too."

You look at Mom's red. The giant mouth on the wall doesn't say anything, but it does seem to be smiling a bit wider than normal--which reminds you of what they told you before. "What is a container? What does it mean to be inside?"

You convert the free floating blood back into latent electricity. There's... a lot going through your mind, at this point--the realization of auras changes... a lot, possibly, in regard to what your hard limits actually are.

Before you get carried away with that, though, you want to test those CDs. You walk over, and Dr. Finch hands them both to you--the one fairly plain disc, and the one heavily decorated, somewhat alien looking disc. You want to make sure they're not dangerous before everyone else listens to them--so you opt to play them somewhere else.

"Our Mars base should no longer be occupied," Dr. Finch suggests, "and has computers that should be capable of playing the discs."

"If you ain't back in like fifteen minutes, though," Michelle says, "we're comin' up there after ya."

Michelle waits outside in case the bunker doors need to be flipped, while you head to Bunker D. You remember there was an office here, with a computer Fuse hacked to bypass the password lock--so you head that direction.


You walk into the little office. The only other sound in the room is the slow mechanical inhale and exhale of the air cycling device.

You sit down at the desk, and pop in Dr. Finch's weird, fancy disc, first.

The old computer takes a little while to get going, but eventually loads its music playing program.

The audio, at first, is... discordant and strange. You can't even really describe it as music, it's just... a bunch of odd sounds, many from instruments you can't identify.

After listening to it for a few minutes, though, it starts to blend together. The nature of the track doesn't change, you just... start to hear the music. Your mind steadily begins to recognize the flow of it, and from there, you start to realize how brilliantly composed it is.

You feel it--the odd signals your brain is trying to send, and the demand for more dopamine. You fight it, at first, but as you listen to the song longer... you stop seeing the point. You let it take you,

and take you it does.

It's like you melt into your seat... and begin to rise.

The walls of the room push back, and the ceiling drifts away. You follow it, pulled gently into outer space.

You're taken on a journey, the music guiding you--you can perceive it, almost touch it, as it carries you through the cosmos, beyond worlds you've never seen before.

You arrive... somewhere. You can't even begin to recognize it, or describe it--you can't bring yourself to focus on any detail for more than a moment. It simply... doesn't matter. Maybe the architecture doesn't make sense, or maybe you're just not concerned about it. You're in a palace, or a temple--somewhere nice, somewhere warm, somewhere meant for important people.

Out beyond, two golden moons hang in a swirling bronze-black sky. One of them is extremely close.

There's... others here, with you. They're not human, but again, you can't muster up the energy to care who or what they are. All that matters is that they're happy, and you're happy. They're honored and excited by your presence--


You are ripped quickly, but not painfully, back into your seat on Mars. You shake off a slight numbness as you glance toward the door, where Michelle is standing. You stop the music.


"You been quiet for fifteen," Michelle says. "You alright?"

You feel a little light headed, but everything's going back to normal quickly enough. You try to describe your experience, but... it was like a dream, and all the details are quickly fleeing your memory. You definitely felt like you were in another world, though.

"Weird," Michelle replies. "Were you gone, or like--?"

"It felt like when you go to meet the tradesmen," Red tells you. "You were here, but you... weren't."

You pop the disc out, and put in the other one--Caius's COMBAT #11.

What begins to play isn't a song, though--after a couple of seconds of only background noise and shuffling, you hear a young woman's voice begin to speak. The audio is... not of exceptional quality. It's clear this CD wasn't made by professionals, more likely recorded in someone's house. She also has a very strong accent--you're not sure where she's from, but it doesn't sound like this country.

"Okay, so-- hi, this is our eleventh attempt at this. It's getting better! This one, um, this one's actually more effective than the... the um... previous ten. It is stable! We've tried it several times, and no one's exploded, and it's not painful. So, cool! Right? We nailed that part. It is... um... pretty big, though. Don't try it in tight spaces, you can really wreak havoc on your drywall. As with any of these rituals, um... no using it for bad stuff. Okay? This is for fighting fascists, and um... stuff like that. If you're using our spells for hurting innocent people or... r-robbing convenience stores or something, we WILL find you. Or, um, she'll find you, and that might be worse. Gods have rules, okay? Even the, um, nice ones. Okay, so..."

The voice then proceeds to describe a ritual, including outlining--in detail--what the symbols placed upon the body should look like, where they should be drawn, and what the words of activation are. She emphasizes a few times that the symbols don't have to be perfect--there's a few contingencies and redundancies in the language used, so a few poorly drawn circles won't turn into a disaster. You don't recognize some of the terms she's using, however--you suspect following the audible instructions may require some basic amount of familiarity with magic, and the symbols/traditions often employed therein.


Xylas_Incarnum 24th Jan 2019, 7:16 PM edit delete reply
........... Wait did someone make shareware for getting blood powers or some shit?
Lunar Waffles 24th Jan 2019, 10:38 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
well, yes, we already know this. its how we got the bone-armor ritual x:
Xylas_Incarnum 25th Jan 2019, 4:16 AM edit delete reply
pretty sure we got that from a book, not off a CD recording. There's a difference.
HoSt. 26th Jan 2019, 2:21 AM edit delete reply
Bone armor ritual came from the bloody pages we got as prize for solving bunker X floor 0.
These guys used a CD instead of paper but otherwise they could be the same guys.
Tych 24th Jan 2019, 10:59 PM edit delete reply
I want to say, I think so?
winger 25th Jan 2019, 10:59 AM edit delete reply
its more how to ask for power from one of the fragments of the First Womb like Mine's mom. so yeah not so much blood powers by grantied gifts so you could say
Twyll 24th Jan 2019, 7:26 PM edit delete reply
Welp, time to call Pierce!

After we figure out what this thing actually *does,* it would be super awesome if we could get in touch with this chick and whoever else she's referring to when she says "we." She sounds like she knows about *us,* at least, and we're also very into the idea of fighting fascists, so I feel like we'd have some common ground. Maybe they'd even be able to provide some advice for fighting Nilpenter.

Also... we may need to see if we can figure out a way to learn if anyone IS misusing this CD, and go scare them into not doing that any more :P
undeadDreamer 24th Jan 2019, 7:31 PM edit delete reply
Calling Pierce sounds like a good idea.
Lunar Waffles 24th Jan 2019, 7:58 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
Cyanic 24th Jan 2019, 9:13 PM edit delete reply
a good +1
Limrix 24th Jan 2019, 9:50 PM edit delete reply
+1, getting in contact with this person's organization should be a priority. Regardless of the entity in question, these are experienced ritual designers who are already fighting against oppression, and our list of people we can trust is pretty short right now.
AgentKuga 24th Jan 2019, 10:51 PM edit delete reply
+1 yeah that sounds good
Kumondo 25th Jan 2019, 3:59 AM edit delete reply
I also plus one plan "consult Pierce regarding combat ritual" and "try and make contact with ritual designing freedom fighters." However, I'm a gonna throw a wrench into that the second plan there. We don't have a good means of identifying who that other team is or reaching them. Actually, because of Tradesman mysteriousness, we don't ever really know that they are concurrent with our timeline or even from this precise reality. In other words, the Trademen may have gotten the disk from folks in the near future, or an alternate reality like the ones we encounter in the Error room.

In any scenario, we'd likely have to go through the information ritual with the Tradesmen, and though I can't track down the page precisely, I don't believe they like giving out information on their clients. It's bad for business.

The one major exception to all this is Caius' brain phone. It might he able to contact the ritual people just by willing it. That phone is reaching Grizwald levels of awesomeness: It's just. That. ****. Good.
Myya 25th Jan 2019, 1:15 PM edit delete reply
+1 to Kumondo's thoughts here.
Snervalton 25th Jan 2019, 10:05 PM edit delete reply
I got the impression that the Combat 11 disc was supposed to be like some DIY recording from some anti-fascist punk band like Oi Polloi. Caius or even some other member of the team may recognize the voice of the woman in the recording if she's the band lead singer or has done band promotional interviews or something.
undeadDreamer 24th Jan 2019, 7:52 PM edit delete reply
Try to get Fuse to light something in our aura on fire, and let's see if we can stop him from doing his thing by pushing back his aura.
Lunar Waffles 24th Jan 2019, 7:58 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
or maybe direct it to be calmer? see if the spazing is whats doing it or a byproduct of his fears about control? either way. +1 (though should do it NOT in an enclosed space)
Twyll 25th Jan 2019, 12:34 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, we may well be able to both suppress and *improve* psychic powers, depending on how we use our aura abilities. We may be able to basically support Fuse's aura with our own too. Let's try suppressing first, then improving. (Might wanna go outside to try improving-- we uh, don't wanna set the bunker on fire.)
zophah 25th Jan 2019, 1:17 AM edit delete reply
Agreed on these points, but be careful. Don't want to scare or injure Fuse in the process, especially if altering his aura might hurt him.
Myya 25th Jan 2019, 1:25 PM edit delete reply
+1 to attempting to shield things form Fuse's fire with our aura.
I'm much less excited about trying to manipulate Fuse's aura while he's trying to light something on fire. DEFINITELY talk to him about this first, and if he's up for it have him abort if anything starts to feel dangerous.
I'd much rather come up with a way to allow Fuse to sense and manipulate his own aura to see if that would help him increase his own power levels.
Limrix 25th Jan 2019, 11:10 PM edit delete reply
If Fuse is okay with it, I like the idea of guiding him for a bit with our aura. If he can get a sense of how it feels, he might be able to get a better handle on it.
Baron11704 26th Jan 2019, 11:52 PM edit delete reply
Hmm interesting, if that works it might be able to be used to block The Many's attack, though it may not be the same kinda deal
pkrankow 24th Jan 2019, 8:00 PM edit delete reply
Stop for a moment.

Are we rested, refreshed, possibly energized from Dr Finch's disc? Or drained, with less focus and such...
Lunar Waffles 24th Jan 2019, 8:22 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
oh, yeah, it might be a quick recovery CD, that would be something. XD
Limrix 24th Jan 2019, 8:32 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, we should try to figure out if there was any benefit from that or if it was just aural drugs. Also +1 to stopping for a moment. We've been doing ten different things in the past couple of hours, it's probably a good idea to collect our thoughts for ten minutes, do some light meditation so we don't frazzle ourselves.
Skullrama 24th Jan 2019, 10:08 PM edit delete reply
A quick gathering of ourself once in awhile is probably a good habit to get into, agreed.
Bob the Terrarian 25th Jan 2019, 7:50 AM edit delete reply
Bob the Terrarian
+1 This would be very useful. We might need another vacation after we deal with whatever carpenter is doing.
Limrix 25th Jan 2019, 11:12 PM edit delete reply
The memory may have faded, but we should be able to cleantex ourselves to figure out what actually happened while we were entranced.
Skullrama 24th Jan 2019, 8:24 PM edit delete reply
Not the *main* thing we need to be concerned about, but we should really contact MacLand. He has a personal stake in all the Nil business, he hasn't been updated on what's going on in sometime, and it would just be practical.

He may have been affected by Nil riding the ritual as well - Mine was part of it and has a mental link to him - we should at least check up on him. If he was not, he may have an angle on Nil that we haven't thought of.
Limrix 24th Jan 2019, 8:33 PM edit delete reply
I'm not sure about contacting Macland until we're ready to make our move. Nil, and by extension Carpenter will probably notice this activity, and it could reduce the amount of time we have left.
Twyll 25th Jan 2019, 12:36 AM edit delete reply
I'm concerned about leaving it for too long, honestly. We've really needed to get in touch with him for a while now. I'm pretty sure there isn't a mechanism for Macland's waking mind to send information to Nil, so that hopefully won't tip him off. It might tip him off if we *remove* Nil from Macland, but I mean, we've been meaning to do that for ages so it doesn't exactly say much-- it would probably only get Carpenter excited and hopefully keep him from getting impatient.
Skullrama 25th Jan 2019, 2:48 PM edit delete reply
I agree... there's more potential downsides to NOT contacting MacLand than to contacting him.
Cyanic 24th Jan 2019, 9:12 PM edit delete reply
Well, it's only a matter of time before we realize that the universe is also a container pretty much

or before that, the planet's atmosphere is also a container, we can start there I guess

but yeah for now let's focus on the CD's, maybe when we info ritual, ask the tradesmen what's up with the weedCD that projected us to another planet. Something tells me that if we proceeded, we would've met an entity that would've helped us somehow (let's not test this before we ask the Tradesmen though, could be a bad idea) in the meantime, if the computer's music software has a runtime on how long some of these CD's are, we can see, without playing, how long the weedCD actually is
Skullrama 24th Jan 2019, 10:03 PM edit delete reply
I really didn't like the enforced 'nothing is a big deal and you're happy about everything, because everything is great' aspect. If we're gonna mes with it again, I would prefer to find a way to use it while avoiding that effect.
Cyanic 24th Jan 2019, 10:14 PM edit delete reply
yeah, like leveling ourselves, because I think level mellows all emotions, including the dopey happiness we felt
TGWMoC 24th Jan 2019, 11:56 PM edit delete reply
Start with the atmo, next step is the solar system, then the galaxy, ect...

Because while Mine isn't the type to spend her life between the stars, an afternoon trip to another planet sounds like a nice date with Michelle to me.
PurpleKetchup 25th Jan 2019, 6:00 AM edit delete reply
Hmm... Maybe consider the ionosphere as the outer limit of the 'container', since it can reflect EM waves ?
Lunar Waffles 25th Jan 2019, 1:43 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
i think starting with "A Room" and then moving up to "A Building" is more prudent x: THEN an atmosphere.
Nicolas 24th Jan 2019, 10:02 PM edit delete reply
When someone is cloned the Clone can be considered their child. So can we say liz is mines sister?
Lunar Waffles 24th Jan 2019, 10:22 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
i had a "face chat" fan-fic on the discord that had Mine declaring Liz as her aunt, it was rather amusing to me x:
echo 25th Jan 2019, 12:27 AM edit delete reply
I think Elizabeth, and the others of her series, were just designed to resemble mom, not actually cloned from her. I could be wrong though.
Twyll 25th Jan 2019, 12:38 AM edit delete reply
You're right, echo, they were just made to look like Mom. As far as we know, Thale never got his hands on any of Mom's blood.

I've been considering Liz to be kinda sorta like an aunt to Mine, too.
zophah 25th Jan 2019, 1:09 AM edit delete reply
I can't remember if I posted it here, but I did wonder that Mom's Red is basically Mine's older half-sister.
Vilageoftheflame 24th Jan 2019, 11:23 PM edit delete reply
That first cd seemed like some kind of trippy, inter dimensional progressive rock.
PurpleKetchup 25th Jan 2019, 5:54 AM edit delete reply
The best part is getting to visit the authors and them being so hyped Mine likes their stuff. Several civilisations seem to be aware of the current shift in the Cycle and rooting for team Mine.
It's a big world out there, and all this goodwill means a lot.

... Wish she'd try to hug them before Michelle checked in.
Maybe next time.
zophah 25th Jan 2019, 1:13 AM edit delete reply
With the bone armor ritual and this new combat ritual, I'm wondering if these are blood rituals made by the group's alternate selves. the bone armor ritual sounded like it was made by Finch's notes, and the combat CD sounds like Lydia to me.
lil Joshu 25th Jan 2019, 3:17 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
This raises an obvious question for the Tradesman...

"When we figure out a way to use our powers, how do we convert that into a ritual for others to use?"
lil Joshu 25th Jan 2019, 3:21 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
... and, almost importantly, when we do so, how do we set some of the parameters of the ritual?

Like some things seem strongly thematic, historically speaking... dark gods like their sacrifices, and tears of the innocent or blood of virgins seem to be things for some types as well, for example. Kinder ones often involve spoken words and mantras. If we can influence the ritual requirements, any ritual we design involving mine's powers should involve an honest desire to do good.
lil Joshu 25th Jan 2019, 3:27 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
... and thirdly...
These rituals being created involving Mine's powers... The notes, CD, etc. all sound human in origin. I suspect creating rituals requires some link to deity in question. We've handed out a lot of blood vials over the time all this has been going on, and splattered a lot around too; so I'm guessing whoever the ritual creator is, has some of Mine's blood. We should probably do a quick sense of all of our blood locations - not just the vials, but any active other spots of blood too. We may find our mysterious ritual-maker, and then be able to portal in and say hello - which would probably help their research along as well as giving us access to more recent and better rituals sooner, especially if they team up with Pierce and Finch.
HoSt. 26th Jan 2019, 2:34 AM edit delete reply
We may find our mysterious ritual-maker, and then be able to portal in and say hello

Instead of going ourselves we could send Blobbert first.
He just has such a winning smile. :)
PurpleKetchup 26th Jan 2019, 3:41 AM edit delete reply
Mine should definitely make "Summon lesser/greater Blobbert" a spell available to her followers.
Taenidia 26th Jan 2019, 12:10 PM edit delete reply
That seems eminently sensible. Probably should ask this question of Pierce first, then clear up any details with the Tradesman.

I think I might disagree with the necessity of a direct link for some of the ritualwork; ex: Tradesman mediate a *lot* of our own ritualwork, without us having to directly interface with Nil or the like.
Kumondo 26th Jan 2019, 4:02 PM edit delete reply
I'll second the Tradesman questions, for when we do our next batch, and checking out where our blood is at to attempt tracking down the ritual team. I can't quite in good conscience second checking all our blood though, mostly due to the meta reason of not wanting to foist the task of tracking down every drop of Mine's blood upon Morgenstern.
Snervalton 26th Jan 2019, 6:04 PM edit delete reply
Oh, and we also have to make sure that nothing else can "come bustin' outta the bathroom walls at any second", as Caius may have foreshadowed.