Comic 1175 - Experiment with the new form

Posted on 11th Feb 2019, 2:13 AM in Like a Bullet from Behind
Experiment with the new form

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 11th Feb 2019, 2:13 AM edit delete
You take a few steps toward Michelle.

You ask, out loud, if she can understand you.

She nods.

You ask, mentally, if she can understand you.

She nods.

Is... she okay...?

She nods.

Is she able to communicate back...?

Her massive, elongated jaws unhinge, revealing layered rows of long, razor sharp teeth. She makes... some kind of noise, like a chorus of otherworldly voices giving a low roar. The sound alone hits something primal in your brain--your heart rate increases immediately. You see Pierce straighten up a little tighter, as well. You're vaguely aware of studies done with infrasound frequencies--allegedly, sounds in the 19hz range have a subconscious effect on humans. It's part of why tiger roars are so terrifying, but also one explanation for feelings of unease in supposedly haunted houses--old plumbing and broken fans can sometimes reach that range, inaudible to human ears but still influential on the mind.

At any rate, you can't make anything of Michelle's noise, it's just very intimidating.

You decide to let Michelle mess around and experiment with the new form. While she tries to get the hang of moving around in her current shape, you go to pick up the scraps of her clothing she broke free from--only to realize that there's nothing left on the ground. She... may have absorbed her clothes into her mass as it was growing...?

It takes her a little while to adjust, as even walking demands a more bestial sort of motion--but once she gets going, you realize that this form is fast. She turns and reacts with reflexes far outstripping a human's. You don't have a way to measure it, but at a full run you guess she has to be hitting at least 50 to 60 miles per hour.

You inspect Michelle internally--and the differences there are also immense. At a glance, everything seems streamlined... you're reminded of how tube cops were described to you. A sprint, not a marathon. Her digestive system, for instance, is far more simplified--you don't think it's capable of converting anything eaten into nutrition. It would be impossible for a creature like this to live a full, long life with this physiology... but for something that only exists long enough to win a fight, the compromises made to make room for more muscle, more layers of bone, more powerful lungs, etc., is almost ideal. It's a very focused design, and you can't imagine there wasn't someone with medical expertise involved.

The brain, too, is affected--you'd have to sit down and really study it to mark all the changes, but they're mostly small, surface level alterations, nothing too drastic to the shape. You recognize some of them, simply because you've done similar tricks before--inhibiting pain, increasing adrenaline, things of that sort.

What Pierce speculated is accurate, as well. Arcane symbols are etched into Michelle's bones, forming elaborate imagery with other markings on the lining of her organs. You don't know what it all does, only that it likely enhances Michelle's form in ways beyond the physically obvious.

Michelle picks out some of the empty and already falling apart houses in Ilworth, and tests out her abilities. Her claws are... incredibly effective--as you watch them smash through brick and wood, you begin to suspect they're not just bone. You've humored the idea of chaining nonessential amino acids into materials not typically found in the human body, it would just require a great deal of time and effort on an infinitely microscopic scale--you wonder, briefly, if Michelle's claws might have something ridiculous to that tune going on.

She claws her way into an old house, wandering around idly inside it for a little bit--likely testing out her multitude of eyes. Given a moment, you thank Liz and Pierce both, and you compliment Liz for her quick thinking earlier. You're not just patting her on the back--you're genuinely glad that she's working well with the rest of the team, and that she's reaching a healthier place.

Liz, silently, slowly drags her gaze toward you. She gives a very long, slow sigh. "If you're going to do it, do it."

You hug Liz.

She begrudgingly, and hesitantly, hugs you back.

You also send a mental message to Dr. Finch, and confirm that you've spoken with Liz. Everyone associated with him is safe--Thale... considered taking hostages, at some point, but Thale's own dehumanized mental state has also impacted his decision making and empathy in more ways than you'd realized. Much like how he's just totally disregarded the possibility that you'd be using the old Zone Fifty bunkers, he's completely written off kidnapping Dr. Finch's family as a viable tactic.

Dr. Finch nods. "That... that's good to know. ...Thank you."

Michelle continues to push her new form for about ten minutes, before her body begins to... fold, melt, and implode back into itself. As she shrinks back down, you watch as her clothes slip back out of her mass... and are pulled back together, the shredded material rapidly reshaping and repairing, as though tiny beings are sewing it all back up.

By the time it's all over, Michelle is... Michelle again.


Michelle shoves her hair out of her eyes, slowly looking around and blinking. "Did... did that really jus' happen?"

You nod.

"Holy crap," Michelle replies. "Okay. That was, uh... weird? Feels like I was just dreamin'."

Does she remember any of it?

"Yeah, kinda," Michelle begins. "I wanted to wreck somethin'. I knew we were in Ilworth and I wasn't gonna find Carpenter or Thale here or nothin', but... I kept lookin' around like they could show up. I was hopin'. I was waitin' for it."

"How useful were the eyes?," Liz asks. "They're an obvious weakness. Did they at least let you see in the dark?"

"Yeah," Michelle confirms. "Hell yeah. Not like I needed to, though, I could hear and smell everything. It was crazy."

Michelle winces, slightly, before glancing over. Reaching with one of her prosthetic arms, she squeezes and sort of... pops the other the rest of the way back into place.


Nayru9572 11th Feb 2019, 3:38 AM edit delete reply
Yikes, guess that might have to do with her being lab meat. Well, at least it's nothing serious. Still, ask her if she maybe needs a slight painkiller effect to ease it for the moment. Actually, let's also check her body for changes ourselves.
undeadDreamer 11th Feb 2019, 3:45 AM edit delete reply
The arm thing is probably due to the fact that those are funky alien arms.
Ronmr 11th Feb 2019, 4:04 PM edit delete reply
Agree, wonder if her more lupine form was because she is a tube cop? Would Caius be more like a gorilla or something more beefier? Like a minotaur? Wonder how Fuze would look.
Cyanic 11th Feb 2019, 3:51 AM edit delete reply
So I wanna clarify my previous comment in the previous page, I meant mini, as in MiniMine, our homunculus, not regular Mine inject the leech in an isolated chamber
But yeah, the concerns of giving access to something that thought-altering to the whole of the ...blood network might not be a good idea even if it's on our side. More stuff to potentially ask the Tradesmen. I think we're running out of time though.

So things to consider in beast form, the ritual can't recognize the space arms, that won't be too much of a problem, but I wonder if we may be able to integrate the space arm synthetic flesh into the transformation since the ritual is straight up just red-tech anyway

It also heightens senses and probably paranoia, I wonder if that's just because Michelle's a tube cop and if the transformation does different things if done with someone like Finch or Pierce. We can ask Pierce if he wants to try it out too.

And we gotta get into contact with the ritual makers, if them realizing we're just a regular person would ruin their like outlook on us as a divine entity, we could probably just have someone else talk to them as a "follower" or something of the like (but they *may* or may not already know we're just a regular person)

Finally, let's just try to listen to the other CD, the drifting one, get to wherever that place is. Wear headphones too, so we can have someone else ready to shake us out of it just in case (and headphones so that they're not going on the trip with us) We need as much allies and resources as we can get

After all this, we may or may not still have time for BX, and I think we can pretty much send the "we're attacking in one week" to Carpenter's false address
TGWMoC 11th Feb 2019, 4:59 AM edit delete reply
So, this is where I admit I never actually read all of your comment on the last page... I was tired every time I checked, ok? But, no, I just saw the replies saying +1, and inferred.

(This one in particular:
<quote> Mister 10th Feb 2019, 9:21 PM reply
-1 to blooding leach - this would create a constant link between Mine and the leach. Which would then flow on (IMO) to the all blooded individuals. I foresee it damaging the leach or putting it under undue strain.

-1 to using leach on Mine - not sure this is a clever idea.

+1 to using leach on The Many as a weapon - how to attach it without issue would be problematic though. </quote>

As for today's comment, I would say it heightens alertness more so than paranoia. Which I guess mostly just means paranoia without fear? I don't know, I'm half asleep again, so I can't think well. I'd say it's mostly just an adrenaline surge though. It's a battle form, so it puts you in 'fight mode' so to speak. Dull pain, raise awareness and reflexes, that kind of thing.
SSMike 11th Feb 2019, 7:55 AM edit delete reply
Can't we just get more leeches though?
skybirds15 11th Feb 2019, 3:34 PM edit delete reply
The leech would be unable to work on the many- the many is a gestalt entity of many brains having possibly conflicting thoughts. So knocking out one of those brains does nothing.

Also, I think it 'eats' the electrical energy produced by the brain when thoughts happen. Like all good parasites, it takes just enough that the host is still capable of living a good long while, so any 'important' thoughts are let through. So maybe you could send a thought through if you make it seem important enough.
fellow 13th Feb 2019, 1:50 PM edit delete reply
If we're unlucky, the leech would make the many more focused. Previously the many would lose time by deliberating on how to word things. If it stopped doing that it'd be way more dangerous.

Also, if we can get someone close enough to the many to use the leech on them we could also blood or shoot them.
Frission 11th Feb 2019, 4:26 AM edit delete reply
Welp. Army of Combat #11 hellbeasts tearing through Carpenter's bunker will certainly take him by surprise, no doubt. I wonder if the altered mental state makes them more protected against Nil, or more vulnerable?

Mine! Ponder this!
TGWMoC 11th Feb 2019, 5:09 AM edit delete reply
Actually, that made me think of an interesting question for next time we do the ritual: "Why do horrific visions summon Nil to mind?" Because it seems really far removed from 'nothing' to me.
Causticius 11th Feb 2019, 6:01 AM edit delete reply
From what I've gleamed, it seems that the human mind naturally recoils from the horrific imagery, trying to bury the experience as deep as possible; its likely that this creates a vacuum of sorts within the brain, allowing Nil to home in and set up shop.
Taenidia 11th Feb 2019, 10:31 AM edit delete reply
So the dude lives on brain-bleach and mental blocks? That's a hell of a weird lifestyle. Now I'm a little concerned about whether the thoughts the leech drains fall under his jurisdiction...
Myya 11th Feb 2019, 8:09 PM edit delete reply
My best guess is that Nil, being a god of non-thought, can take advantage of how the brain works with information that is too traumatizing. Basically people trying hard enough not to think of the extremely terrible things they've seen, or more likely their subconscious dealing with this for them, results in a pocket of non-thought in their brain, thus resulting in a foothold for Nil.

As for Combat #11, I'd be concerned that it would just make our friends bigger targets for a spiritual attack, so maybe useful against Thale, but maybe not a great attack plan against something like Nil (given that we know he can somehow mess with a building's existence in the real world).

If we do the ritual again, we should pay close attention to the aura of the caster to see how it changes during the spell. If it does get strengthened reasonably, it might be okay in the upcoming fight.
Ablaze 13th Feb 2019, 6:59 AM edit delete reply
"an army of hellbeasts" has me now thinking: what if we performed the ritual on a bunch of blooded pets? Say you had an army of weaponized rats dumped into carpenter's base. Then the fun begins...
Causticius 11th Feb 2019, 6:08 AM edit delete reply

This is certainly a new weapon we can add to our arsenal, but maybe use it A) sparingly, and B) after our bruisers have some actual nutrition in them. Maybe liquid food of some sort (like protein shakes or somesuch) -- something easily and quickly digestable. Essentially we don't want them passing out mid-fight from exhaustion.

Also should probably *NOT* open with hellbeasts -- keep it as an 'unpleasant surprise' for Nil-Carp ;)

-11 to blooding the leech. We don't know how it works, or if that would even do anything, but if it does it'd likely cause us some issues in the long-run, through no fault of its own.

I am down for using it against the Many, however. Maybe wrangle it into a smaller jar. Better yet, trade up more tinfoil hats and make a small legion of them to multiply the chaos -- I'm not sure one would be enough (the leech may only work on one mind at a time, and the Many may willingly sacrifice one head to save itself), but a dozen or so of them would keep the Many preoccupied for a while. Just... be prepared to torch the damned thing afterward, since we don't want a bunch of them getting all over our comrades!!
Snervalton 11th Feb 2019, 8:22 AM edit delete reply
Wait, my impression of how the leech worked was that it filtered out intruding and controlling thoughts coming from outside its host. If one of the leeches attached itself to The Many, wouldn't that just make the many immune to mind control and not unable to mind control others?
Causticius 11th Feb 2019, 8:34 AM edit delete reply
The running theory seems to be that it would work both ways -- it could not be controlled, nor could it control others, as the leech would filter out any such commands. We still haven't tested that yet, however...

Maybe we should see how it acts on Mine, since it's already proven to be removable (as long as we're quick to capture it again).

My main worry is that 1 leech = 1 brain filtered, and the Many likely has a dozen more heads by now, since it hasn't seemed to stop growing.
Limrix 11th Feb 2019, 9:10 AM edit delete reply
If we blood the leeches first, we should be able to control who they go after. We can do this in the red so there's no chance of them escaping. Golden CD is probably even more effective against the many if we can get them to listen to it long enough.
Myya 11th Feb 2019, 8:46 PM edit delete reply
Also -1 on blooding the leech. Not knowing exactly how this thing works, we could accidentally end up filtering Mine's blood communications/commands through it or something.
Archon 12th Feb 2019, 5:35 AM edit delete reply
Another -1 on blooding the leech. Mostly because it seems a useful tool for preventing any subconscious side-effects on the mind/personalities of those we've blooded; and blooding the leech may introduce further contamination to anyone who uses the leech afterwards.

...Though that may be a positive, with the right application/target? hrm.
Sekwel 11th Feb 2019, 6:41 AM edit delete reply
We have to be careful with how we use the leeches, period. They are otherworldly and a large part of what we're doing is being covert with how far into occult craziness we have been delving.

If it means taking out The Many, then maybe it's worth it to say "okay yeah we have access to this stuff." But I'm worried about using them on it. It might just...focus its ability to do its thing.
Taenidia 11th Feb 2019, 10:37 AM edit delete reply
My impression was that the many-brained Many does a psychic DDOS attack, but suffers from some brainmass coordination issues.

I could see this going 1 of at least 3 ways:

1. Reduce the Many to a single thoughtstream, reducing its effective bandwidth and DDOS ability.
2. Increase cohesion and coordination among brains, increasing the coherence of its attacks on a single target
3. Focus only a single one of its many brains, and not having much effect on the overall power.

There is at least 1 plus: The leech goes straight for the person thinking the hardest, so I think releasing it anywhere near the Many will lead to it acting like a homing missile.
Limrix 11th Feb 2019, 8:57 AM edit delete reply
I think the leech's mechanism for filtering thoughts is pretty clearly physical: it needs to be connected to a brain to work, so I don't think loosing it will cause an issue.

Golden CD seems super effective against the many if we can get it into range and play it.
Taenidia 11th Feb 2019, 10:42 AM edit delete reply
Physical proximity: Yes. Direct physical manipulation... no? I don't think it was literally tunneling into Finch's brain, so that suggests that it can at least do electronic manipulation or something weirder.

We really should get a good look at Finch's neck-wound before we try anything new with the leech.
pkrankow 11th Feb 2019, 9:05 AM edit delete reply
A human normal, such as Pierce needs to try this ritual. I would suggest in a different environment such as the snow.
Limrix 11th Feb 2019, 9:35 AM edit delete reply
So, we've got a neat new form. I'm not sure how useful it will be in combat, given its lengthy ritual and transformation, and only a ten minute duration. It seems quite strong during that, but I'm not sure when we'd get the chance to activate it. We might just need to hide behind a meat wall for a while. It left both clothing and Michelle's arms, so it likely will restore anything not identified as the body, which means we can use this while wearing armor or red armbands. Michelle is probably also tired, we should ask to what degree.

Dr. Finch and Fuse should start working with the Juries on building some electronic warfare devices. We should retrieve the laser eye device from Mini carefully, as one of the girls might be using her, as we'll probably want someone to have it. Caius might be a good option, as he doesn't have any ranged attacks currently. This is probably the biggest fight we'll face on earth, so we should probably bring The Bullet and the rad rounds when we go.
Mr. thought 11th Feb 2019, 12:49 PM edit delete reply
You know if we really want to see if the leech creature would block psychic thought going out and be useful as a weapon against the Many then the only way is to have it tested on Fuse and have him try to light something on fire when the leech is on him. otherwise we are just guessing that it blocks thought both coming from outside and thought going out. But of course it is always up to the team if the want to do something or not if not then we will find some other way to test it.
PurpleKetchup 11th Feb 2019, 1:03 PM edit delete reply
Carpenter is probably crazy prepared and will likely have several murderbots hanging around his base. This spell opens several strategies we couldn't even hope being able to pull otherwise.

Since the hulkform is still flesh and bone, Mine can also actively support and heal the caster, on top of everything else. She could turn severe wounds into benign ones, those getting proportionally reduced when the spell ends.
How tired is Michelle at this point ? She didn't really go all out, so it would probably end up way more draining in a real fight.
Archon 12th Feb 2019, 5:27 AM edit delete reply
Y'know, in hindsight it makes sense the ritual turned out well.
Given Blondie's choice of friends, it seems appropriate that it would work for tubecops. Likely mutants too, if that comes up.
Can't say that will be the case with every ritual related to Blondie, but it feels a safe enough assumption.

(Albeit one based on the assumption that rituals work better/easier if they fit whatever is being invoked. Dunno/can't remember much on that at the minute.)