Comic 1176 - Have Pierce try the ritual

Posted on 13th Feb 2019, 11:09 PM in Like a Bullet from Behind
Have Pierce try the ritual

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 13th Feb 2019, 11:09 PM edit delete
You ask Michelle if she's alright--and if she needs any sort of pain relief.

"Nah, I think I'm--"

She pauses.

She squints.

"Okay yeah, nah, it's comin'. Hit me with it, please."

You quickly give Michelle a strong painkiller effect.

She breathes a small sigh, shuffling over to sit down against the nearby building.

"Y'know how when ya do a lot of exercise, you end up all sore later?"

"No," Liz says bluntly.

"Well, like," Michelle continues undeterred, "they say it's 'cuz your muscles are tearin' down and then buildin' back up."

"...And you just had that occur to your entire body," Pierce points out.

"Ahyup," Michelle huffs, leaning her head back. "I only got a taste of it, and I already feel bad for anyone doin' that spell without Blondie around. Thanks, by the way."

You nod.

So... does anyone else want to try it...?

Liz looks at Pierce, who looks back at Liz.

They stare at each other for a brief, completely expressionless moment before Pierce turns his attention back to you.

"I can attempt it."

He steps back, away from the group, and begins to recite the verbal components of the ritual. As before, it takes... a little while, the spoken portion rather lengthy. While he does that, you check on the raven you sent to the address the tradesmen gave you. Edgar has arrived at...


A fairly innocuous looking used bookstore in the middle tiers.

Without stumbling over the words or hesitating as much, Pierce does complete the ritual a little quicker than Michelle. His runes glow beneath his robes... and there's a slight pause.

He takes a deep breath, having seen what happens next.

He grunts as muscle bulges and enlarges. His loose attire holds its own a little longer than Michelle's clothes did, but soon, he bursts out of it--swelling as Michelle did, with... subtle differences.

His skull stretches, snapping his visor in half--the remains of it are almost... sucked into his face, but his jaws don't quite break the skin. You can see the skin straining, though, against his multiplying teeth and mutating cranium. Bone finally does force its way to the outside... but only in select portions, coming together and growing, fusing into one another over where his face would be, almost forming an entirely new visor.

More bone pushes its way out of his hands, his chest, his knees. The... feet are different, you notice--the bone is slimmer, more pointed, less like claws--

there's almost a second stage to the transformation.

Mass that pushed out and grew to Michelle's previous levels suddenly tightens and reigns itself back in.

His posture, which had started to hunker over, is allowed to straighten. The form is sleeker, more humanoid.

...You're still thrown off by the feet, or rather, the lack thereof. The needle-like bone that protrudes from his legs isn't nearly enough to support Pierce's still incredible weight. He tips, stumbling, struggling to stay standing with his unbalanced proportions.

Liz lightly shakes her head. "They didn't seem to design this thing to--"

And, with a flash of light... streams of electricity shoot out of Pierce's back. The energy intertwines, flowing in and out of itself, funneling outward. Lines of it crackle off the air and dance across the ground. Slowly, steadily... Pierce stands upright.

Not just stands.

The needle tip points barely graze the grass. He's practically hovering.


"What!," Michelle yells. "He's got freakin' wings!"

What was it Dr. Finch was saying, back when you were speculating about what was lurking in the power plant? Something about spiders using electrical currents to fly...?

"No," Liz says flatly. "You cannot convince me that Pierce is hovering with the power of magnetism. Do you realize how much electricity it would take to lift him off the ground at this size?"

"I dunno," Michelle replies, "An infinite amount? He's tappin' into the red! He's got however much juice it takes."

While Liz and Michelle continue arguing over square cube law and electrical currents, you ask Pierce if he can understand you.

His face... contorts, but it doesn't open up the way Michelle's did. His voice is also different, somehow--the numerous vocals sound... better synced, more fluid. It's still unnerving to hear, but it reminds you more of an ominous choir than a wild animal. After realizing he can't talk, Pierce simply nods.

You ask him if he's alright. He nods again.

Looking at him more closely... you don't think the electricity is the only thing keeping him aloft. His veins writhe and bulge beneath the surface of his flesh in a way Michelle's didn't.

Levitating objects, and controlling them in the air, was one of the earliest tricks you learned.

You're pretty sure Pierce's body is being partially held up by its own blood.

"Wait--" Michelle holds her hands up, "Legit? That's a thing? Blondie, can YOU fly?!"

"The human circulatory system isn't designed for it," Liz states. "It would be ridiculously painful, even if it didn't rupture every vein in your body."

Liz is right.

"Honestly, I'm not convinced that--"


Liz stops talking and snaps a glare at you. "Mine Ametsuchi," she says sternly. "You would literally explode. Your blood would erupt from the top of your body like a science fair volcano."

You're almost guessing, at this point, but you suspect the... er... electric wings on Pierce are mostly for balance, while the blood itself is doing all the heavy lifting.

"...That would take a great deal of blood," Liz mutters, slowly turning her gaze from you... to Pierce... back to you. She's silent, for a moment, seeming to hesitate. "At the risk of sparking some sort of identity crisis... Patton's 'main' identity is supposed to be in the version of him with the most blood, isn't it...? How are you not..."

"Not Pierce right now?," Michelle finishes. "Well, 'cuz--" Michelle stops. She squints at the ground for a second, and then looks at you, as well. "--That's a good question, though. Wasn't this s'posed to be a problem before? Don't Pierce got more o' your blood than you do right now?"

You start to think about it--

but it all clicks into place fairly quickly.

It's the same reason you can't pull from the red using Michelle's blood.

Pierce doesn't have the highest quantity of your blood right now, he has the highest quantity of his own blood. It just happens to be a gift from you, with a number of your blood's properties.

"That..." Michelle pauses, "I ain't real sure how much sense that makes, Blondie."

"It's a defense mechanism," Liz says quietly, almost sounding as though she's in disbelief. "You've accidentally coaxed yourself into enough cognitive dissonance to eliminate one of your greatest weaknesses. That's almost brilliant in how utterly dense it is."

"Could Thale do that?," Michelle asks. "I don't wanna track his old ass down just to find out we got the wrong one."

"No," Liz replies simply. "Never. I'm barely wrapping my head around it myself. It... plays entirely off of how Mine relates to and justifies everything. It's an alien drawback that she human'd her way past by virtue of... well, being Mine."

At this point, Liz seems to have a better grasp on whatever it is than you do, and you barely have a better wrangle on it than Michelle does. Whatever's going on, you're still firmly you, and Pierce is still firmly Pierce (and very large, and slightly hovering).


Xylas_Incarnum 14th Feb 2019, 12:31 AM edit delete reply
So, the extra blood being pumped in with the transformation is being labeled as "native to body" and not "property of RED" for the duration of the change.... right? That's more or less what's going on?
Hermit 14th Feb 2019, 2:19 AM edit delete reply
Not necessarily "native", it clearly doesn't originate in or from people other that Mine, more like it's something given to them with no intention of ever reclaiming it. For example, if I made a pizza and then gave a slice to you, it was originally mine but now it's yours. Not a perfect analogy, I know, but who doesn't like pizza. :p
Xylas_Incarnum 14th Feb 2019, 7:15 AM edit delete reply
Native to body in the sense it belongs there rather than to the Blood/RED, sorta implies the whole gifting thing.
Critacal Flub 14th Feb 2019, 9:31 AM edit delete reply
Native seems to be one of those words where different people have different ideas of what it means.
lil Joshu 14th Feb 2019, 1:28 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Makes sense. Not Mine's blood anymore, his. It was given to him afterall. He could gift it back when the spell ends, or he could just splurt it all out. His choice. Second one's messier though, but may be useful in certain circumstances.
Cyanic 14th Feb 2019, 12:35 AM edit delete reply
AHAHA we were right!
Different transformations for different physiologies (or maybe even for different people, though it's doubtful that Caius and Michelle's transformations are gonna be different, but it's still possible)

And this was kinda what I was thinking about designwise for the biomech (but just less weird veins, eyes, and flesh, more just bone and muscle)

Oh and yeah, we can definitely fly, remember we don't have to control only blood to float stuff, we can control/float red-material just fine as evidenced by our biomech arm. And we're us, so we're probably definitely made of red-material that will allow us to fly

For now let's have Pierce test out his capabilities, depending on how refined the ritual is, we might not even need to give him a painkiller effect after since it should be tailored to his biology/physiology
Nicolas 14th Feb 2019, 12:47 AM edit delete reply
I kinda wonder if each person's transformation will be slightly differant
undeadDreamer 14th Feb 2019, 12:59 AM edit delete reply
Oh this is facinating. Do the forms correspond somehow to the traits of the person using the ritual, or is pierce's form merely what anybody who is more compatible with the ritual than Michelle would get? Now I want to see what happens if We do the ritual ourself. Mine's form could be notably different, or it could be the same. At the very least we could focus on what's happening and it could be a learning experience!
Kumondo 14th Feb 2019, 1:03 AM edit delete reply
Y'know, I don't see any reason at this point why Mine shouldn't give the ritual a go at this point, once Pierce's attempt has run it's course. Should be a very useful learning opportunity all round.
zophah 14th Feb 2019, 2:08 AM edit delete reply
I can imagine that Mine's combat form would either resemble Rage:Mine from Mine's mind, or resemble Mom's Red, in all it's massive starship glory.
WalkerOfSorrow 14th Feb 2019, 12:45 PM edit delete reply
@undeadDreamer, my current guess is that this is the human form, regular-type, and Michelle turned into the tube cop one. If Caius goes next, he'll probably look like she did. Whereas if Finch did, he'd look like Pierce. Now FUSE, that's a different story. Haven't done this with a fire mutant yet.

@zophah, we probably shouldn't use this ritual on ourselves. Though I am curious.
undeadDreamer 14th Feb 2019, 2:10 PM edit delete reply
Why not? Physically we're mostly human.
WalkerOfSorrow 14th Feb 2019, 2:31 PM edit delete reply
I hear you, but when has anything been normal with Mine? She's got a direct tap to the Red, so her transformation could look entirely normal, or identical to Pierce's, or her worst nightmare, or an organic spaceship, or Cthulhu, or we could become something entirely extradimensional.

Or she just turns into Magical Girl 2.0, with the new Eleventh Hour Super Power that appears when you need it most. Extra lace and fairy wings.
Hambone 14th Feb 2019, 1:37 AM edit delete reply
I'm concerned that this might be draining on Mine. We should consult Red for a health checkup.
Lapdragon 14th Feb 2019, 10:52 PM edit delete reply
the white 14th Feb 2019, 1:40 AM edit delete reply
Liz's assessment of our lack of ability to fly in this form is spot on. Whoever designed this ritual needed 11 attempts to get it to this level and the recording implies people, at least sometimes, exploded with the previous versions.
zophah 14th Feb 2019, 2:06 AM edit delete reply
There is another idea that could explain why Mine has higher authority with the Blood. She has access to an infinite space that is made entirely of the Red. If she ever chose to become the Red, her 'volume' of the Blood would be infinite, and therefore can control all of the Blood from anywhere.
lil Joshu 14th Feb 2019, 1:29 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Also, the Blood is Mine. So her blood volume is effectively infinite, so while it's in other people, it's also in her simultaneously.
Taenidia 16th Feb 2019, 3:46 PM edit delete reply
Heh... I think we've run into a similar metaphor before. There are jars inside her big jar, and she identifies those inner-jars as 'other people' for free-will and blood-effects, but the total volume counts as "inside her jar" for total-blood-quantity purposes?
Kumondo 14th Feb 2019, 2:21 AM edit delete reply
So, thoughts:

1. This spell is kinda awesome. Kudos to the Tradesmen for being helpful and generous, to Team #11 for doing the legwork in putting this ritual together, and Morgenstern for both the awesome story and set up, and super cool designs for mega Michelle and Pierce. Also, kinda thinking this a bit of a consolation that the Biomech plan fell through on account of being to complicated to put together in a timely manner, but enough thought went into it that something should come out from it. Might just be me projecting though.

2. I'm kinda surprised flying Mine has never come up before now. It should be totally doable if we levitate all the redstuff that is Mine as Cyanic described. Man, the revelations and powers just keep coming today.

3. I look forward to investigating that bookstore when the time comes. I get the feeling that the Tradesmen are being generous again, with some other advantage or interesting tid-bits in store on top of the promised ritual. For the record, I'm putting odds down now at a 70% chance that it's a pretty normal bookstore with just one magic book/pamphlet but one other attention catching thing, 20% that it's loaded with mystic paraphernalia and scribbles, a 5% that it's the Library, and 5% "other." 'Cuz sometimes ya never know what to expect with this story.

4. The whole "gifted Blood belongs to the person but is still the Blood" continues to add evidence in favor of our bluddies being able to use Blood powers. If the powers work on belief and will as much as they do, and gifted Blood belongs to the individual it's in, than that individual should very easily be able to will commands to/through their allotment of Blood. I think it would be wise to give one of our teammates a Bloody bandage to hold and see if they can will it around a bit. That was the first power we gained and seems like a good, basic stepping stone.

As for our next course of action, let's have Pierce see what he can do in this form. We should take a picture or two to show the rest of the crew, too. Actually, as much as I'm enjoying this set of character interactions, why don't we have the guys out here with us? They definitely wanna and aughta know what this ritual can do. Anyways, after Peirce's spell has run it's course, either Mine should give the ritual a go for first hand experience, or we should disperse to start working on spiritual training for the day. Or maybe just lunch.
Limrix 14th Feb 2019, 6:56 AM edit delete reply
Id rather wait on trying the ritual on Mine in favor of spiritual training, or lunch, depending on the time. It's shown to be quite exhausting, and there's a lot we want to get done today.

As for Mine flying, I don't think there should be any obstacles. We can move lumpy around, and he's also just meat, so I think Liz's assumptions that all we can move is "blood" is incorrect. Not just our blood, but our entire body counts as redstuff. Plus, if we were going to exsanguinate ourselves, I think we'd be able to feel that and stop.

Sure, let's give Caius a bandage. Tell him if this works, he'll be able to use the hammer way better. I guess Michelle and Pierce too, if they aren't too tired after this.

But yes, we should test out this form while we have the chance. Otherwise we're just making Pierce tired for nothing. I think we should give him a good deal of room so we can try AOE moves, test the mobility of this form, and construct some sturdy random items in the red for him to attack so we don't destroy our town for practice. We should also quickly check his aura.
Sekwel 14th Feb 2019, 7:42 AM edit delete reply
There might be a gap between being able to and knowing how to control The Blood. It might be second-nature to Mine, but I'd bet it's a pretty alien concept for others.

Still worth a shot though.

Edit: Pun retroactively intended.
Taenidia 16th Feb 2019, 3:58 PM edit delete reply
I'm really full of awkward thoughts today...

I can't help but think of HPMOR's Voldemort flying using broomstick-bones, which might actually be pretty close to the way we should try to go about levitation. I'm really worried about fiddling with anything that will screw up blood pressure dramatically, but bones seem like a pretty solid choice (pun intended).

Also, I suspect Liz might be able to quickly pick up blood-control due to Thale's past knowledge-sync. I also suspect she will have pretty uncomfortable feelings about this, although there's a chance she would find it empowering.
Nayru9572 14th Feb 2019, 6:09 AM edit delete reply
Ask Pierce if he wants to test out what he can do, though he has no reason to stay like this if he wants to stop. Also, ask if hovering's fun.
Limrix 14th Feb 2019, 7:58 AM edit delete reply
I'm not sure he can stop. I think the ritual has to run its course. Ending it early might be dangerous.
SSMike 14th Feb 2019, 8:59 AM edit delete reply
Seconded, ask how well he can fly
Limrix 14th Feb 2019, 8:12 AM edit delete reply
The next time we do bloodcrafting, we should make blood ticks that can ride on our allies an animals. It would give us a way to give them extra material in an emergency, and we can also pop them off to scout if we need to do that too. I imagine they can be very small and rather simple, so it shouldn't take much work to make a bunch of them. I think we could easily make enough to give each person a few. A similar version of this would be arm/leg bands that can inject blood. Those might be less squicky and better at delivering blood, though harder to scout with.
Taenidia 16th Feb 2019, 4:05 PM edit delete reply
+1! Pre-existing micro-blood-packs as a cautionary measure is a great idea, and bypasses our issues in trying to coordinate already-moving blood.

(If we literally blood an animal to do this, I vote against using literal ticks. The damn things transmit a whole array of diseases, some of which we probably haven't even named yet.)
pkrankow 14th Feb 2019, 10:20 AM edit delete reply
Pierce needs to cut loose. Keep it below 100m and give jumping, flying, and stability a try. See if those wings are propulsion in addition to stability. He only need protect his head if landing is not instinctive. Mine can put him back together if necessary.

I have a feeling that Pierce has some type of martial arts background, even though it is likely more casual than useful. Skills learned from childhood are remembered if the body is capable.
Fishbulb 14th Feb 2019, 10:56 AM edit delete reply
Ask Michelle to go inside and fetch Finch. Have him analyze Superpierce, and also ask him if he would mind undergoing the ritual after Pierce returns to normal.

Also see if Liz is ok.
lil Joshu 14th Feb 2019, 1:31 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Try flying. The cells of your body are created by things the blood delivers. So the whole body is the blood and also the container of the blood. So... using all the blood of the body... float.

Just because humans define blood as just the red colored liquid stuff, doesn't mean "the Red" has to define it the same way.
Myya 14th Feb 2019, 1:50 PM edit delete reply
We should check Pierce's aura while he's in this form to see if it becomes stronger or seems to offer any extra protection on a spiritual level.
Myya 14th Feb 2019, 3:13 PM edit delete reply
I should note Mine should explicitly monitor his aura if he attempts to fly, as it may give some idea on how to use her aura to fly. Some insight may also be gained by seeing how his body is interacting with the electricity now.
Taenidia 16th Feb 2019, 4:13 PM edit delete reply
Crestlinger 14th Feb 2019, 3:24 PM edit delete reply
Good to know then. Basically everyone who can do the transformation (probably Not Fuse, even with this one allowing for object transfer, Michelle still had to pop her arms back in) has a form unique to themselves. Have Pierce try and fry something, observe from a safe distance, also test strength and speed capacity against Michelle's previous feats.
Aa far as the logic is concerned leave it at: it works, it is relatively safe but exhausting so a one shot deal, and it should Not be used in confined spaces, or in Pierce's case, near anything conductive.
Golnor 14th Feb 2019, 10:17 PM edit delete reply
I wonder if SuperPierce can shoot lighting....

Don't try anywhere near important things, like people.
Archon 14th Feb 2019, 11:00 PM edit delete reply
had a thought.
I wonder whether this ritual calls on our Mine, or another?
Should probably check the red when we run the next combat ritual, see if it does anything when the transformation is going on.
Ablaze 14th Feb 2019, 11:11 PM edit delete reply
I wonder if you could implement a form of the ritual on ghosts, or on red herself.
Tych 15th Feb 2019, 9:54 AM edit delete reply
um is it weird I want to see Fuse and Caius use the ritual now too just cause I am pretty sure somehow Fuse will get a flamethrower somehow and Caius will turn into a tank/battering ram also really want someone to make Liz do this cause well I want to see if she turns into a kinda humanoid scorpion or not
Tych 15th Feb 2019, 9:54 AM edit delete reply
um is it weird I want to see Fuse and Caius use the ritual now too just cause I am pretty sure somehow Fuse will get a flamethrower somehow and Caius will turn into a tank/battering ram also really want someone to make Liz do this cause well I want to see if she turns into a kinda humanoid scorpion or not
Sekwel 15th Feb 2019, 11:10 AM edit delete reply
Whatever else we do, we should start planning an attack.

Offhand I think we want to limit blood-portaling as a contingency plan during the showdown. We will A) possibly be in another dimension, who knows where we would end up. And B) give Nil an opening to infect The Red.
Lapdragon 15th Feb 2019, 9:21 PM edit delete reply
Ok, now I -REALLY- want Liz to try the ritual... she is entirely too grounded in what SHOULD be that I think she may not be really embracing the wonderful weirdness that is Mine and the Red. Plus, I think if there's ANY of Mine-Mom actually in her, she might be some sort of fun mega-Liz vengeful kaiju.

She really needs a shot of Liz-only happiness - being immersed in Thaleness seems to have shoved her original personality into a corner and beaten it down.
PurpleKetchup 17th Feb 2019, 1:06 PM edit delete reply
You know she's just going to turn into a taller version of herself and will stare at Mine with a 'told you so'-glare.
Lunar Waffles 17th Feb 2019, 3:33 PM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
+1 to spiritual training
+1 to the epiphany that ALL of Mine and her golems are "red stuff" no matter what form it pretends to take
+1 to the 2ND jar in a jar epiphany (the one Taenidia mentions)