Comic 1172 - Have Caius ask more questions

Posted on 4th Feb 2019, 3:28 AM in Like a Bullet from Behind
Have Caius ask more questions

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 4th Feb 2019, 3:28 AM edit delete
You start to ponder more questions for Caius to ask while he's still in the ritual, when he suddenly speaks up.

"...Y'know," he says to the tradesmen, "I ain't real sure tha pricin' on that first question's fair. It's s'posed to be fair, right? 'Cuz you guys are askin' for a cost we ain't willin' to pay. Seems like a shitty way to run a business, to me personally."

Well. That uhh. You maybe wouldn't have put it like that--

"The price of the answer is judged to be balanced," the tradesmen reply. They don't sound mad, but you kind of expect them to be. "Though you may lack context for the reasoning. If you do not wish to pay for the answer to the question, that is your decision--we cannot force you to do so, any more than we can prevent you from asking a question."

"Well," Caius starts, "that's--"


Wait wait wait.

Any more than we can prevent you from asking a question?

They've... sort of tried that, before--they'd cut you off or offer 'free' information, but they mostly do that to keep you from wasting your time and resources asking questions that are


Do they not want to tell you who made Combat #11? Are they worried about something? Is that why they're making the price something you've already... sort of dodged giving up once?

"What," Caius begins again, "you guys think we're gonna--?"

You stop him, and suggest not phrasing it as a question. They have to price it if it's a question.

Caius collects himself a bit... and starts over. "We ain't gonna hurt whoever made that disc. C'mon. You guys gotta know us by now, we ain't like that."

"That is not an issue that factors into the price of the question," is all the tradesmen say.

Huh. Alright.

It's something else, then. They don't want you to know who made Combat #11 for... some other reason, and it's not that they're worried about what you might do to the ritual makers.

"While the tradesmen do offer various messaging services over space and even, rarely, time--that is unfortunately not our area of influence, and would require a separate ritual. We do apologize for any inconvenience or frustration this may have caused. As compensation, we will offer this information for free: unlike what lies beyond the door in the location you've designated Bunker C, which is very dangerous and would not likely be worth the effort to investigate, the two newer Zone Fifty bunkers your group has gained access to are, under the vast majority of circumstances, perfectly safe. What they offer is minimal, but there is also little, if any, risk involved in entering them."

That's... good to know. Under the vast majority of circumstances is a little odd.

"What's up with tha leech?," Caius asks.

"We cannot effectively price a question that you already have the answer to," the tradesmen reply.

"Aww, don't gimme that," Caius huffs.

That... means it has to do what you wanted it to, though, right? You traded in the tinfoil hats as protection against psychic intrusion--maybe that's... what the leech does...? That doesn't really answer how to use it, though.

"Maybe that's s'posed to be obvious, too," Caius quietly says into the phone. "Y'know, like, 'open the can' or whatever. Dunno if I'm feelin' all this cryptic shit."

You ask Caius to ask about physical damage, and how it carries over after using the Combat #11 ritual. Does it shrink back down when the caster returns to normal? Does a wound stay the same size? Does the injury just disappear...?

It takes Caius a little effort to word it, and you end up having to repeat the question for him, but he finally asks.

The tradesmen reply, "we can answer this question in exchange for three tinfoil hats."

"Oh," Caius remarks. "Now we're talkin'. Yeah, sure, why not."

"When the affected returns to their original form, any physical trauma remains but will scale down proportionately. For the state gained by the ritual, what appears on the surface to be a large amount of damage may actually mean very little."

So a huge bullet wound turns into a small bullet wound afterward. ...Or something like that.

"Can we--" Caius stops himself, and remembers what you mentioned earlier. "I want you guys' phone number."

"For various reasons, we are not capable of communicating in that fashion," the tradesmen state simply.


Lapdragon 4th Feb 2019, 5:21 AM edit delete reply
I wonder if the ritual makers might be somehow influenced by actually meeting their "god" (i.e. Mine) and by keeping her a mysterious eldrich being, it keeps them strong and doing what they're doing - the mere act of interacting with her personally would change their understanding of her, influence the rituals, and potentially weaken their fight against whatever fascism they're fighting.

1) We should ask if the Tradesmen are willing to educate us about the ritual for using them as messaging service.

2) We should find out if it's safe for the universe as a whole (and Mine as an individual) if we were to trap Nil in The Red somehow (thereby removing him from the rest of the universe at large).

3) We should trade up for at least one more brainphone - having just the one is already most excellent, getting another one would be very useful for the non-bloodpathic members of our crew (so, everybody except Mine).

4) We should ask Mom's Red if he has access to The Red (the pocket dimension), and if he does, if The Red he's got access to is the same as the one we do (is all RedSpace the same RedSpace?). Also, I'm curious where he *put* the dangerous crate that we gave to him - is it in The Red, or is it just shoved into the quantum folded space that he's folded himself into?
Fishbulb 4th Feb 2019, 8:20 AM edit delete reply

Definitely would be good to have a second brain phone, and also to find out whether or not Nil can be trapped in the Red, if that's the option we choose to, or are forced to go with.
Sekwel 4th Feb 2019, 11:16 AM edit delete reply
I have a sneaking suspicion that the disk is from an alternate timeline in which Mine is already established as a well-known deity. Maybe she pulled back to the red entirely in this one?

This is assuming they didn't reach forwards/backwards in time, which their comments about messaging seems to support.

It'd be dangerous to get in touch with them due to time beings, but perhaps not impossible.
Nicolas 4th Feb 2019, 12:07 PM edit delete reply
The person on the disc said mine was a nice good so we could assume she went through simmaler trials, I personally think it's from the future. The tradesmen basically hinted that their trades can cross time "rarely"
Nicolas 4th Feb 2019, 12:07 PM edit delete reply
The person on the disc said mine was a nice good so we could assume she went through simmaler trials, I personally think it's from the future. The tradesmen basically hinted that their trades can cross time "rarely"
Guost 4th Feb 2019, 1:08 PM edit delete reply
If it's from the future, depending on how far into the future it is, knowing who she is might alter the timeline in such a way that she doesn't even exist. For example, if she were descended from someone we know. Maybe we should just drop the subject.
Mister 4th Feb 2019, 8:39 PM edit delete reply
I'm guessing that the Combat disc is from the future, where Mine has already overcome.

Either from or during the process, the things outlined on the disc are put out to the public at large* to fight the man or for protection. (*large, see what I did there?)
Bob the Terrarian 4th Feb 2019, 1:44 PM edit delete reply
Bob the Terrarian
What we also could do is ask big red if mom had many friends or not, because the ritual makers may have known about us when we were born.

Either that or the worshipers are defendants from some zone fifty folks.
Myya 6th Feb 2019, 2:53 PM edit delete reply
+1 on (2) Nil and (3) brain phone, though maybe check with the team on who all would want a brain phone before trading in for as many as are wanted. Maybe they can all have a brain conference call during important events and take potential communications load off of Mine...
Cyanic 4th Feb 2019, 6:09 AM edit delete reply
We should also ask Caius how he's doing stamina-wise, like how tired he is

He's a lab dude, so that means he definitely has more endurance than a regular dude, but does that also mean he can ask more questions/stay in the info ritual longer, or is the energy drain proportional?
Vole 4th Feb 2019, 7:55 AM edit delete reply
The tradesman said that they sometimes do trades across time, so that means that combat 11 might come from someone we will eventually meet, so the group that made the disc might not exist yet or something like that and us finding out about them would cause time shenanigans.
Twyll 4th Feb 2019, 9:14 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, the fact that they went out of their way to mention doing things across time suggests that there are time shenanigans involved in the making of Combat #11.

I mean, I guess this means we're on the right track though, if we end up inspiring people to do that sort of thing!

Perhaps we should start considering a project for Lydia and Fuse to essentially work on making some of our understanding of magic open-source, and find a way to say "hey, we're a nice blood goddess who dislikes abuses of power, so if you'd like to borrow some power, please feel free to do so." Then we might be able to get some people started on making awesome stuff in *our* timeline/dimension.
5-5-13-6 4th Feb 2019, 7:35 PM edit delete reply
I think This is the best idea I've ever read on this site.
Hermit 4th Feb 2019, 11:18 PM edit delete reply
The feds' anti magic policies could be an obstacle to that. If there's a sudden upsurge in magical activity it might catch their attention.
Flaninious 6th Feb 2019, 6:26 AM edit delete reply
Worse than the Feds, we’d risk making an enemy of Jury.
Limrix 4th Feb 2019, 8:04 AM edit delete reply
Let's end the ritual here- Caius should be getting tired about now, though he probably wouldn't say anything. We've gotten the answers we came for, and I don't think it's worth it to pursue contact with people from our future/another timeline for now.

Let's get back to testing out the power up ritual in the snow. Now that Caius is drained, Michelle's probably the best candidate, even with new arms.
Skullrama 4th Feb 2019, 8:14 AM edit delete reply
They answer questions - if we ask 'what is the ritual to send messages through the Tradesmen', they will pr9bably price it for us.

Let's not wear Caius out too much though.
Twyll 4th Feb 2019, 9:15 AM edit delete reply
I think that works well as a final question, then he can take a break.
PurpleKetchup 4th Feb 2019, 1:01 PM edit delete reply
Agreed. Final question, then we can add 'explore at least one new bunker' to The List(tm).
They won't have much in terms of loot, but it might lead to something in the long run. Also no going in there alone or underequipped.
Limrix 4th Feb 2019, 9:23 AM edit delete reply
Finch and Fuse should start working on electronic warfare equipment with the Juries if they haven't already.
Tych 4th Feb 2019, 9:36 AM edit delete reply
I want to make a roaming charge joke but I don't know how to phrase it?
Nicolas 4th Feb 2019, 12:03 PM edit delete reply
So I have an idea. I think the leech is going to, in some way, eat Auras or powers. Try having fuse burn something near it and observe the auras. May only work with psychic tho
zophah 4th Feb 2019, 12:58 PM edit delete reply
I was thinking that the leech works kind of like Silkworm, but instead of eating electrical-based energy it eats psychic-based energy.
PurpleKetchup 4th Feb 2019, 1:01 PM edit delete reply
Highly likely.
Nicolas 5th Feb 2019, 5:53 PM edit delete reply
I'm thinking if it doesn't eat the energy, it may disrupt it. Tinfoil hats only repel so the leech should be simmaler?
zophah 4th Feb 2019, 12:59 PM edit delete reply
I still want to ask about the cactus and the slime...
white 4th Feb 2019, 1:36 PM edit delete reply
I want to ask about vampires. Are we ever likely to encounter one? Would they have any more reaction to drinking Mine's blood than the blood of ordinary human? Maybe that can wait for some other time though.
Crestlinger 4th Feb 2019, 3:51 PM edit delete reply
What would be the price to find out how many other entities are currently trading and has this increased or decreased since we have started doing so?
lil Joshu 4th Feb 2019, 6:27 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Obvious reason the Tradesmen won't answer...

A businessman giving a customer the tools to remove himself as a business man is bad for business.

That said, I could be wrong. We could ask them for some of the factors affecting the cost.
Mister 4th Feb 2019, 8:43 PM edit delete reply
... so somewhere there's someone with tinfoil that can't make tinfoil hats - but can do the magic to access the tradesmen... and want tinfoil hats. ;)
lil Joshu 6th Feb 2019, 10:27 AM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Or maybe they have plastic bag hats, and tin is a very rare thing on their world?
echo 6th Feb 2019, 12:23 PM edit delete reply
It's actually aluminum.
Myya 6th Feb 2019, 3:12 PM edit delete reply
Nah, it's just some guy with a really sloppy sandwich that needs a nice way to hold it, and the upside-down hats work perfectly for his needs.
Mister 4th Feb 2019, 8:41 PM edit delete reply
I forget, can we just outright state our wish to know things, without phrasing them as a question - thus giving the Tradesmen more scope for off the cut answers with no associated charge?
Myya 6th Feb 2019, 3:19 PM edit delete reply
While we can preface our questions with information to help them guess at what we want and cut us off if they want to add in a freebie, it's probably not a great idea to lean too heavily on statements rather than questions. Doing so too often will probably be noticed as a means of subverting the ritual, basically trying to cheat the tradesmen at business, and this would not bode well for our future interactions. We should keep them happy and be good customers when there is pricing we can agree to.
winger 5th Feb 2019, 12:49 PM edit delete reply
i say we should ask something like this "is Combat 11 from the future" keep all the details vague of when by who and how. that should keep the answer simple since its just a simple fact with no important info
TGWMoC 5th Feb 2019, 10:38 PM edit delete reply
I haven't read all the comments here, so sorry if someone else already said this, but:

Combat #11 is probably from the future.
"While the tradesmen do offer various messaging services over space and even, rarely, time..."
We never actually brought up sending messages through time, which means that pertains to us asking about the disc. Plus, Mine really hasn't been around as a god for very long, and whoever made that not only knows of her, but has had time to experiment, (11 stages, no less,) with magic that draws from her Red.

So they don't want to tell us, because knowledge of the future is a dangerous thing to have.

(The bone armour spell is also probably from the future. I kind of assumed as much at the time, (I guess I do read a decent bit of time-travel scifi...) but since at a glance I didn't see anyone mentioning it as a possible reason, I realized it must not have been as obvious as I though.)

Edit: Just remembered that ctrl+f is a thing, and at least 3 other people had the same idea...
T41 5th Feb 2019, 11:06 PM edit delete reply
If Nil is sharin' a body with Arvin Carpenter now, has he retreated Macland Row's head?
T41 5th Feb 2019, 11:41 PM edit delete reply
*retreated from
HoSt. 6th Feb 2019, 7:42 AM edit delete reply
Don't see why he should have done that.
Nil is nothing and nothing can be everywhere at once. ;)
Xylas_Incarnum 6th Feb 2019, 1:44 AM edit delete reply
.... Come to think of it, due to the whole blood goddess bit, the impossible's just stuff we don't fully understand how to do yet. Should take a look at some of the cultivator fictions (wuxia/Xiaxia martial path stuff). Who knows, meridians and that ethereal body energy network they belong to might actually exist in a way the blood can effect them.
Myya 6th Feb 2019, 3:04 PM edit delete reply
One more question for the tradesmen. Would killing a negative entity that is from the person's mind (not an external entity like Nil) in a forced sync cause any personality change to the person involved.
I'm referring more specifically to something like Spider Vasquez here, but I'm not sure that Caius knows of it's existence, and we probably don't want to just blab about it, as it's kind of personal.
winger 6th Feb 2019, 10:55 PM edit delete reply
actually i think it was said way back that nothing we do in a forced sync like that will actually affect the mind of the synced (nil was different)