Comic 1178 - Begin spiritual training

Posted on 23rd Feb 2019, 11:42 PM in Like a Bullet from Behind
Begin spiritual training

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 23rd Feb 2019, 11:42 PM edit delete
For now, you all head back inside to discuss the upcoming fight with Carpenter. Fuse and Dr. Finch have been working on various preparations--mostly in the form of electronic disruption devices, but also air filtration masks. Fuse has also tried out astral projection, briefly, just to start getting an idea about spiritual combat.

Pierce begins to fill everyone in on some of the things he's told you, about grounding your sense of identity, confidence in who you are, and the nature of fighting non-physical threats. You, in the meantime, practice making blobs more quickly--and from a distance, turning your aura into blood into blobs and back. Your training, and the rest of the groups' general discussion of the spiritual and some minor meditation, takes until the evening.

"So, I guess the question is," Michelle begins, "when are we hittin' 'em? They ain't gonna wait forever, right?"

"I've talked it out with Lydia," Fuse replies, "and we should be able to set up some... I dunno, some kinda psychological warfare, like we've been doing against Thale. We buy out a billboard near Carpenter's place, warning people to get outta the area in the next... like, week or so. Right? Carpenter sees that, knows we're onto him, gets pumped about having a big stupid showdown, thinks that we don't expect him to see it... so he'll wait."

Michelle gives a slow nod. "...So he'll think we're tryin' to clear the place for an ambush, and we let him think he figured us out. Alright."

"Basically," Fuse confirms. "So he gets to think he's clever, when all we really did was buy ourselves a week. 'Cuz, otherwise we don't know when he's planning to set things off. Could be tomorrow for all we know. We could have that billboard up tonight, though."

"...And if he goes for it," Dr. Finch adds, "we can then proceed to flip the proverbial script again by attacking ahead of schedule. He'll assume we planned to prepare for the full week--if we strike a day or two earlier, we... we catch him by surprise even after meticulously laying out for him that we're planning to assault his base. It's perfect."

"It's risky," Liz retorts. "Arvin is egotistical and will want the grandiose battle, yes. He'll want the opportunity to gloat with all the theatrics involved, certainly. He's also an impatient, unstable manchild. He's just as likely to wait for a climactic finale as he is to grow bored and nuke the city. None of that's accounting for the nihilistic space god whispering in his ear. We don't know how much Carpenter will exist one week from now."

"...That's a fair point," Fuse mutters. "Carpenter's fucking crazy and Nil might not put up with waiting a week for funsies."

"Our alternative's like..." Michelle shrugs, "What, doin' this tomorrow? The day after, maybe? We gotta do whatever we can to buy more time, it ain't gonna be pretty if we try to slam this thing out immediately. I believe in us, but man, a week'd make a huge difference. The billboard thing'll work."

"I dunno now," Fuse says, shaking his head. "Liz isn't wrong. We're gambling either way."

"Could we ask the tradesmen?," Michelle asks.

They weren't... all that certain about much, regarding Carpenter and Nil's relationship OR plans. They couldn't confirm a date, or even what's going to happen. You... kind of doubt they'll know for sure whether the billboard strategy could work, all things considered, though you might not lose much for trying. ...They seemed about as aware of how this could all go as you are, currently.

Fuse sighs. "So this might be down to a coin flip. Nil wants to win, Carpenter wants us to see it. Carpenter's proud but also a lunatic. Nil is... Nil."

"The hell do they even want?," Michelle asks. "Like, what could they BOTH possibly want? They blow up the city, it don't accomplish much. Nil wants to kill, uh, everybody last I checked. Ever. In the universe. Thought-death or somethin' like that. Carpenter don't have that kinda firepower."

"I'm not certain anyone in this world does," Dr. Finch points out. "I've frankly been a bit vague on Nil's agenda from the beginning--we've been informed that he despises rational, coherent thought as a standing concept, but if we've learned anything from our various magical excursions it's that cognition exists all throughout the cosmos, possibly beyond. Surely if he takes exception to mankind, he'd similarly despise the tradesmen--yes? And whatever entities crafted Michelle's new arms, and whoever sent us that... leech creature."

"And the brain phone," Michelle adds.

"Yes," Dr. Finch concludes with a nod. "Arvin Carpenter has a great deal of ingenuity on his side, as well as no ethical restraints--but I still struggle to imagine what Nil hopes to squeeze out of him, or would have gained from taking over Macland Row. Even if you could, say, destroy the planet that's surely a small drop in the vast ocean of thought that Nil abhors. Humans, as it has turned out, are NOT the center of the universe."

"Destroying the city isn't Arvin's style, regardless," Liz states. "He craves superiority and recognition. He wants control and believes he's the only one worthy of it. Patton is fully aware that Arvin would usurp him given even the smallest opportunity... he just knows full well that Arvin's incapable of it, even on his best day."

"You don't think that's it, do ya?," Michelle asks. "Maybe now that Carp's got Nil, he's got the balls to come at the king. If he hits Thale Prime with the Many..."

"I doubt it," Liz replies. "I essentially was Patton Thale, and I'm still beginning to have my doubts about which body is the primary. Arvin Carpenter wouldn't make it within three blocks of that headquarters without a dozen contingency plans going off, god or no god. Unless Nil has some ridiculous insider information, Arvin isn't ready for a confrontation. It would be a fruitless endeavor."

Plus, what little the tradesmen could confirm was that Carpenter wants you at ground zero for... whatever it is. He may want to dethrone Thale, eventually, but you and your group seem to be his biggest priority.

"Yes," Dr. Finch says quietly, adjusting his glasses. "It must be something else. Something more nefarious, something... larger. Elizabeth's comment about insider information does have me thinking... hm. Hm hm hm. Alien worlds, and the sheer size of the cosmos. It IS likely that Nil's extraterrestrial experience could supplement Carpenter's mechanical know-how in unforeseen ways, but... hm. No, I do fear that whatever decision we arrive at, we are going to be making it rather blind."


Guest 24th Feb 2019, 1:01 AM edit delete reply
I had a thought - Does isolated blood hold our aura in it? If we made a blob of blood, would that carry a patch of our aura for itself..? If that's the case, we could easily extend our aura -> blood growth immensely by simply creating leylines out of blood.

And another thought.. If we can pull blood from blood, and blood from aura, who's to say we can't pull aura from aura? I think we should try this out.
Cyanic 24th Feb 2019, 1:44 AM edit delete reply
+1 for the recursive aura
AgentKuga 24th Feb 2019, 4:14 PM edit delete reply
interesting interesting +1
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 11:41 AM edit delete reply
+1 to range-extenders, hope it works!
Sekwel 24th Feb 2019, 1:06 AM edit delete reply
Let's put up the sign regardless and urge people to avoid televisions/screens etc.

Let's be wary of the possibility of Nil spreading... Nil. Carpenter could just be planning to blast the airwaves with the same stuff others were hit with, with plans to stop us if we show up.
Gigafreak 24th Feb 2019, 1:52 AM edit delete reply
You're not thinking sociopathically enough.

He's aware that Mine is the heroic type: the billboard would alert him that she is watching that area and intending to save as many people as possible. It tells him that he can lure her out and have his dramatic confrontation by starting the mass murder on HIS schedule instead of on HERS. It tells him that he has a couple hundred hostages to use against her, and that the hostages will be gone if he doesn't leverage them TODAY.

"Arvin Carpenter has the ability to act upon his current plans at this very moment. He wishes for you to bear witness to them, in person. He wants you to attempt to stop him." If he sees that billboard, he'll realize he can MAKE Mine come out to attempt to stop him.

He loves collateral damage enough to destroy one hospital and attempt to bomb a second, so the reduction of said collateral damage-- in this case, by allowing the neighbourhood to evacuate-- would make the confrontation less fun to him.
Twyll 24th Feb 2019, 2:41 AM edit delete reply
In that case, just sending him a letter (perhaps carried by a bandage, or folded into a blooded paper plane) saying "yo we're going to come 1v1 you IRL on this day" might be better. He wouldn't really have a good way to respond to it, and it wouldn't prompt him to think about innocents as a way to make us come sooner.
Fishbulb 24th Feb 2019, 8:19 AM edit delete reply
I agree about sending Carpenter a personal letter, but we may want to avoid giving him and Nil a sample of Mine's blood. I don't remember if he has any already, but allowing him the opportunity to analyze her blood may also be risky.
Skullrama 24th Feb 2019, 9:49 AM edit delete reply
If we're going to send him a letter, why not get the Tradesmen messaging ritual and message him with that? Nice and clean.
Twyll 24th Feb 2019, 1:34 PM edit delete reply
I believe Carpenter has had many opportunities to get his hands on Mine's blood. He orchestrated the hospital hack and could have gotten her blood that way (remember, his hackers did their best to interfere with her surgery-- which means he would know where any bio-waste was disposed of, and could have had a monster deliver a chunk of spare Mine-flesh or a used blood test to him). He also had access to a room full of red-goo when he retrieved the Many from the church after they partially summoned Red. Mine left blooded sheets in her room, and he could have obtained her blood from those, as well.
Kumondo 24th Feb 2019, 6:08 AM edit delete reply
Very much seconding Gigafreak's point here; putting up the billboard, to the best of our knowledge of Carpenter as a person, will alow/cause Carpenter to force our hand and begin our fight almost immediately. The only thing stopping him from enacting his plan is that he wants Mine's attention, and the billboard is literally a giant sign that he's got it.

I been on board with the billboard/message plan since it was introduced, because it's so crazy it just might work, and it's something I'd do in real life if somehow in that situation. Unfortunately, this is not the situation for it. Instead, I'm trying to come up with some other way to buy time, or get some idea on our time limit. We may just have to accept that our time is short and we just have to make the best of it.
Limrix 5th Mar 2019, 8:17 PM edit delete reply
+1 to Kumondo and Gigafreak. I think we've got to continue getting everyone as absurdly powerful as we can in the time we have left.
Cyanic 24th Feb 2019, 1:40 AM edit delete reply
or like Nil's already taken over some other sapient races and this planet is just his next target

So, send out the billboard, and if we're still not too tired, try to clear out the next level of BX

Also, our raven is still straight up outside the address of the ritual makers, we may wanna follow up on that
Twyll 24th Feb 2019, 2:39 AM edit delete reply
We might as well at least ask the Tradesmen about the billboard plan-- or if sending a note saying "yo we're gonna come throw down with you at such and such a date" might work.

Also, this comment seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle last page, but: in her training, Mine might want to try flying by lifting herself by the pelvis. That way, she doesn't have to focus on lifting her *whole* body-- she can lift just one part of it, and provided she has pretty good core strength (which she should, being a nurse and all), it should be fairly easy for the rest of her body to come with it without flipping over or putting too much weight on anything.
Twyll 24th Feb 2019, 2:45 AM edit delete reply
As for what Nilpenter actually wants... well, we are a goddess who can potentially devour everything. If Nilpenter can take *us* over somehow, or steal our abilities, then that means being able to destroy whole worlds and just keep going until everything ends-- and then choose *not* to restart the cycle anew. Carpenter gets to be the most important person in the universe (until Nil destroys him too), and Nil gets to finally end all thought. Both would stand to benefit.

We should make sure our defenses are as ironclad as we can make them.
Guest 24th Feb 2019, 3:01 AM edit delete reply
However small that drop may be, it is more than nothing. Nil has, I believe, indicated that he doesn't mind playing the long game, unmaking life piece by piece if he has to. Perks of being eternal, Nil has all the time in the world.
PurpleKetchup 24th Feb 2019, 3:27 AM edit delete reply
From my point of view, Nil's best path to destroying everything is to get ahold of First Womb fragments and getting them to follow the 'old' script, where they reset the entire cosmic civilisation.
So of course it's got an eye out for Mine, Thale and probably Red!Lasker (since Carpenter probably knows that much about Z50).

I'm not exactly sure what Nil will do during our fight against Carpenter. It sounds antithetical for it to consider creating something, but it might try to generate new fragments from Mine's Red.
Capt'o 24th Feb 2019, 5:11 PM edit delete reply
Thale is a false fragment, a counterfeit.
fellow 24th Feb 2019, 6:44 AM edit delete reply
One way for nil to move things to a cosmic scale is to get ahold of anyone with alien blood, mine, thayle, the frozen guy, and infect them with himself.

Mine can edit her own brain so she's not a great target. Though if nil pushed her past the point of no return that wouldn't matter.

The frozen guy is not really accessible to Nil, but Carpenter knows of the bunkers. They could potentially get to a bunker at some point.

Both of these options don't really satisfy carpenter's wish for the grandiose.

Thayle has a lot of bodies so he could just kill off any that Carpenter gets ahold off. However, Thayle is constantly syncing with a lot of people. If Carpenter got a lot of sync-ees to look at Nil's video at the same time he could potentially infect Thayle via the sync. Though, Thayle actually stops syncing when the many is near so he could also just do this with anyone that Carpenter catches.
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 11:49 AM edit delete reply
Regarding frozen guy (Lasker)... we probably could just ask the tradesmen if a Lasker fragment recently transitioned from "traceable by Tradesmen" to "untraceable by Tradesmen".

(...or even blood sample, I suppose. What the hell happens if you Lasker-blood the Many?)
Kumondo 24th Feb 2019, 6:49 AM edit delete reply
So, I'm thinking that, best case scenario, we don't have a lot of days left until we face Carpenter. We have some time, but as mentioned in comic, everything is a gamble. We've already gone a couple of days knowing that Carpenter is ready with his thumb on the trigger of his nasty-plan(tm).

That said, we have also made heaps of progress since that point. Once I have a moment or an hour or three tomorrow I'ma make a highlights list to showcase that progress. It'll do us good to keep a review of our achievements in mind.

On a similar note, one very real meathod of reinforcing one's sense of self is by having it reaffirmed by others. In other words, having people you care about tell you what they notice and appreciate about yourself. It can sometimes be awkward, but as a team building, morale boosting, soul strengthening exercise, I recomend we have the main crew essentially take turns telling each other what they appreciate about each other. It's cheesy, it's awkward, but it works.
zophah 24th Feb 2019, 1:14 PM edit delete reply
+1 to heart-felt together time =)
Twyll 24th Feb 2019, 1:30 PM edit delete reply
I really like the idea of appreciation time too.

We can also come up with affirmations to say-- for example, Michelle tells Finch that she likes how he's analytical and logical, and he comes up with an affirmation like "I can and do analyze situations and come up with useful insights" and says it aloud. The act of saying something out loud, while it feels cheesy, really helps reinforce it in your brain.
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 11:50 AM edit delete reply
+1 to affirmations and group-bonding time :)
TGWMoC 1st Mar 2019, 6:45 PM edit delete reply
+1, mostly because I can totally see Mine suggesting this, and hear the groans from the rest of the group when she does.
Limrix 5th Mar 2019, 8:19 PM edit delete reply
+1, this sounds hilarious, is incredibly in-character, and might be valuable if we end up delving deep into soul things.
Fishbulb 24th Feb 2019, 8:22 AM edit delete reply
If Nil wants to end all thought in the universe, then it would need a being capable of spreading throughout the cosmos. A being that could stretch thin and drink deep of all worlds. Its end goal is probably to possess Mine, which is why its allied with Carpenter for the moment. Carpenter wants to draw Mine out and destroy her, but Nil might see an opportunity to hitch a ride on one of the few beings that could help it in its goal.
Skullrama 24th Feb 2019, 9:53 AM edit delete reply
Taking over Mine is a tall order - but there's no need for it. There's already an entity all set to stretch thin, devour everything - Lasker. What's more, being the mad blood from a dead god, it probably can't actually become the first womb and restart the cycle even if it stetches thin and drinks deep of the universe - a perfect endgame for Nil.

Mine is probably the only entity left in the universe that could potentially stop Lasker if he gets lose and goes nuts. If Carpenter and Nil can perma-kill Mine, Nil has a real shot at the thought-death of the universe.
Guest 24th Feb 2019, 2:09 PM edit delete reply
On the other hand, Lasker may be harder to get to. Either way, possessing the blood is probably it's endgame.
Cuttlefish 25th Feb 2019, 5:54 AM edit delete reply
Could we just eat Lasker? Just portal the thing in the freezer into the red?
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 11:54 AM edit delete reply
...we could ask mom's red. If Mom *didn't* eat Lasker's predecessor or Lasker's blood, there's probably a *good reason*. MomRed might be aware of it.
TGWMoC 1st Mar 2019, 6:48 PM edit delete reply
+1 to asking Big Red about it. That being said, we suspect that only part of Lasker is in that bunker. Eating those parts is a good start, but would not mean that he's gone for good for sure.
Ablaze 24th Feb 2019, 9:20 AM edit delete reply
We do have one possible way of seeing into the possible future... The error room.

Say we brought in an order form for the billboard sign. It might show us what would happen.
Snervalton 25th Feb 2019, 1:07 PM edit delete reply
Great idea! It predicted the future for us once and gave us a serious advantage. However, I think that had to do with Fuse's psychic abilities more than anything. Maybe Fuse should deliver the order form?
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 12:00 PM edit delete reply
...reluctant +1, but I keep going back-and-forth on this. The stakes-as-they-are are currently high enough...

...but note that this is *very* risky. We have a chance of running into Nil-fected versions of ourselves, or pissing off the Time Police. It goes without saying that Nil-infected persons knowing about the Area53 doors will be awful, and I'm going to note that Nil might be better at evading the time-police than any single other entity in existence. So if he comes through the error-room door, we're quite screwed.
37212513 6th Mar 2019, 10:35 PM edit delete reply
I don't think anyone can follow you back out the error room door. Also, no time cops or the tradesmen wouldn't still be asking us about it from time to time. (The error room shows a glimps of an alternate reality posibility, not everything shown is actually achievable.)
Taenidia 7th Mar 2019, 12:38 PM edit delete reply
We've taken a spell back out, and memories. Nil is an entity that can hijack memories to his own ends. Usually I'd say you seem to be right, but Nil's an oddity; a lot of mostly-airtight rules are going to be breakable to him.
psychoshen 24th Feb 2019, 10:21 AM edit delete reply
I think the billboard will work against Arvin, but I wouldn't count on it actually evacuating people from the area. Even during actual emergencies they can see in front of their own eyes, they're hesitant to leave. "Everything will be ok." A complacency bias, if you will.

On another note, I hear "insider information" and I immediately think Tradesmen. We don't know if Arvin has access to them, but he would be crazy enough to give up something big in order to see his goal through. Unfortunately, the Tradesmen do work with other entities and they definitely do not like to talk about who their other clients are.
lil Joshu 24th Feb 2019, 11:28 AM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Potential Nil/Arvin Plan
putting all the pieces together
and a suggestion on how to respond

Many: Mind Control
Their shared plan's goal: Mine at ground Zero
Humanity: Small drop in bucket, disregard all potential Arvin/Nil plans for their impact on humanity.
Mine as a resource: The only reproducing spawn of the first womb (biggest threat to Nil)
Also Mine: Infinite Red (also infinite mass)
Carpenter: Knows more about Mine than anyone else fighting against her.
Carpenter's goal: See mine fall, would rather be king of a city of ashes than common man in city of gold.

Nil-Carpenter deal as I see it:

What Carpenter gets out of it:
Carpenter gets to live a bit longer than he would have otherwise (Nil 'nothings' every problem that ever plagues his body), as ruler over a dying universe, getting to decide everyone's fate he encounters for the duration of his lifespan (even a heavily extended one is a short waiting period for Nil).

What Nil gets:
A mind-controlled Blondie.
This in turn gives access to infinite blood.
This in turn gives access to infinite mass.
This in turn, when ejected from the red with its own laws of physics and into a reality with our laws of physics means super-black-hole gun. Entire galaxies can be wiped out in an instant or more, and more mines can be created and mind-controlled for additional galaxy-destroying cannons. Travel through red allows instantaneous travel everywhere. Nil, with his non-existant-identity infects the controlled mind. As Nil is 'nothing', and in command of the red, he would identify any blood with no owner as his. So anytime anyone in the universe spills any blood, that region of space is then barraged with super-blackholes, blinking that entire observable universe out of existence, everywhere that there's life.

If Nil/Carpenter gets a hold of Mine, it's checkmate, and Nil wins the universe. He will pull out every stop. This means if he has infected anyone besides Carpenter, those resources will be pulled in too. And not just human either. That's a huge "X" factor.

Of everyone on the team, Mine CANNOT be there, the risk is too high. In fact, she shouldn't be in the bunker either (as Carpenter knows about it). Mine needs to blood all the doors to the bunker so they can be kept closed and the bunker safe, but Mine herself needs to retreat into the red. Because while we're on offensive, he'll throw everything he can into a curveball to still hit Mine.
fellow 24th Feb 2019, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
I don't know if leaving mine is such a good option. Sure, losing mine would be disasterous and Nil has a lot to gain by going after her. But as a god, mine is the only one who has any kind of chance if she goes toe to toe with the Nil/Carpenter fusion.
lil Joshu 28th Feb 2019, 10:50 AM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
There's a difference between being there, and being effectively there. Portable blood portals and being able to see allies brings a lot of her power to bear even if she isn't physically there.
fellow 28th Feb 2019, 10:53 AM edit delete reply
Yeah but in spiritual warfare, Nil will pulverize anyone except mine.
Tobias23 24th Feb 2019, 11:36 AM edit delete reply
Isn't it pretty obvious what Nil wants? We're part of the first womb, and in this cycle (I think it was the library that put it this way) there's a chance, because we're different, things on the whole will go differently. If Carpenter manages to kill us, Thale or Carpenter will reign and fragments of the first womb will stretch thin and drink deep and so forth, resulting in massive casualties and the whole cycle starting over. If, however, Nil manages to play its cards right, and could break the cycle, destroy the first womb alltogether, it could make life as we know it cease to exist.

Why is Carpenter involved? He's a maniac and wants the power Nil offers. He wants to be the baddest of the badasses, and killing gods would make him that. I say "killing Mine" is Nil's first agenda.
fellow 24th Feb 2019, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
One problem with the theory that Carpenter would be targetting Mine specifically is that she isn't required for Carpenter and Nil to put their plan in motion. They can do it without her
Antarean 24th Feb 2019, 9:31 PM edit delete reply
Do we have any defence against Nil's abilities? Like, if we inadvertently step into a Nil ritual circle, like the one we used on Carpenter's robot that time, do we have a way to defend ourselves, or are we just dead? I'm concerned that we may end up entering a circle like that that's so big we don't realize it until it's too late, possibly even built into the architecture of Carpenter's base (or at least part of the base). Carpenter does seem like the type to have a self-destruct button for his lab.
Kumondo 24th Feb 2019, 9:44 PM edit delete reply
O.K, so a bit of a recap. Just since this morning in comic, we:
Learned quite a bit about ghost powers, and taught the spectre sisters a couple more. And it was super cute.
Discovered basically everything we know about auras; the ghost's, our friend's, and our's.
Began work in earnest on controlling time in the red.
Disproved the anger of time beings with speculation.
Averted a crisis that was just Willard in the walls.
Traded for and discovered the uses for two exceptionally powerful magic Cds.
Averted a crisis that was just a brain parasite we can now weaponize.
Got a hot tip from the Tradesmen on the location of a book store with more useful spells and knowledge, along with several other interesting tid-bits.
Created a couple more EMP class devices and air filtration masks

But that's not all! Since we discovered the threat of Carpenter's current plan, (Page 1117. Only 4 whole in comic days ago, but just over 3 real world months.) we have also:
Gotten a whole schwack ton of info from the Tradesmen.
Preformed a respectable amount of spiritual training exercises, along with a handful of discussions with Pierce about magic and souls.
Became a Magical Girl.
Begun probing into the Illworth power plant, leading to it's full exploration and culminating in the epic soul fight with Illworthogr, the Monstrous Silk Worm.
Learned a goodly amount about manipulating electricity.
Patched up the power plant, leading to Illworth becoming habitable.
Moved the Mars crew into Illworth.
Liz calmed down Edison, allowing for our later discussions.
Practised with using blood portals.
Theorized about the creation of Biomechs.
All along with numerous other “minor” revelations, discoveries, and progress in side projects and training.

Just since learning about Carpenter's plan about half a week ago, our number of powers and tools has increased greatly. Unless Nil and Carpenter have exceptionally good intel, we already have several surprises in store. And that's not even including some of our equipment for before that point in time, including but not limited to:
Our exotic mixed ammo drums.
The radioactive rounds.
THE Bullet.
The Blood dart gun.
The soul gun.
Electricity at will.
The bone armour ritual.
The “spiky” bone armour ritual.
Animal spies.
The Hummer.
An assortment of small hand guns.
An assortment of disposable phones.
A blue cactus.
A pretty sweet computer set-up.
A rather secure base of operations.
Our research into enhanced organic materials.
The brain phone. Which is so awesome, it alone is probably giving Thale and Carpenter nightmares.
Kumondo 24th Feb 2019, 9:47 PM edit delete reply
This has been separated into it's own post to break up the wall of text a bit, and because this part was worthy of it's own post.

And finally, our strongest assets, the team, to whom I just wanna give a bit of an example of the kind of encouraging affirmation I had in mind.:

Michelle. Her most obvious characteristic is her strength and skill with fire arms. But, Michelle would still be Michelle with out her strength. (See: space arms.) Something that defines who she really is would be her selflessness, her heroism. You see, Michelle is always willing to put her self at risk to protect those she cares about, and others too. This is more than a tube cop thing, even more than being a good person; the way she protects others without hesitation is, well, heroic. And on top of that, Michelle is also friendly, good natured, sweet; she almost always has a smile on her face and seems to easily see the good in everyone around her.

Dr. Finch. Obviously, Finch is smart. Real smart. Let's face it, he title of genius has been well earned several times over by how quickly he has solved scientific quandaries and intuited his way correctly through theoretical supernatural phenomena. But again, Dr. Finch is so much more than a brain. His earnest enthusiasm at discovering so many scientific breakthroughs and opportunities to learn is endearing. However, one of his most defining characteristics is his courage. He does not have a lot of muscle power, and we have seen him scared and worried many times; at the hospital, the attack on his home and capture by the Feds, and facing the Library's guards. But, we have never seen him give up or shut down. Even in the face of great danger, he has mustered the bravery to keep going and do what needs doing.

Fuse. Fuse is cool. Between his cool looks, cool attitude, cool powers and cool tech skills, he is honestly several people's power fantasy as he is. Going past the surface though, Fuse is flexible. He is able to roll with the punches of this crazy world remarkably well. When dealt a bad hand, he makes the best of it. When he runs up against an obstacle, he can improvise a way through, over or around it. Fuse is also trustworthy. Others in his situation, when pulled into someone else's war, would build up walls and resentment or make a break at the first opportunity. But Fuse stuck around, and has been nothing but honest and open, and telling it like it is. His honesty has helped keep the group grounded and able to realistically face their unrealistic foes, while keeping spirits up by joking at that very ridiculousness of the foes and situations.

Caius. Caius' most obvious strength is his strength, except that he is even more obviously greater than the sum of his parts. He has a heart that rivals Mine's in size, demonstrating a care for others that goes beyond immediate physical needs; simple things like going out of his way to grab Mine's plushies and how tenderly encouraged Tesla. Yes, Caius' big heart is second only to his enthusiasm. From fisticuffs with a guy thrice his size, to being the point man in talking to Jury, to getting the groceries, to working for Macland, to letting us experiment with magic on him, everything he's done he has done with his head held high, with all his big heart and no reservations.

Liz. At this point, I think it's unfair to compare Liz to Thale anymore. The difference between the two is night and day; he is losing his humanity while she is finding hers. She has grown into herself so much in such a short period of time. Anything still left over from Thale is no longer overriding who she is as much as it is now confiscated property for Liz to do with as she pleases. Liz has already done things Thale never could, as simple as her conversation with Edison, to knowing when to walk away to avoid hurting feelings, to inquiring about the safety of our plans. One of her defining characteristics is her determination, her sense of justice, her ability to know what is right and to know what she wants and to enforce/declare/pursue her intentions with a finely calculated precision. And she always uses the right amount of forcefulness because she is wise. She is smart, clever and sharp, and she uses her mental prowess with a certain finesse. Liz is not Thale's thrall, she is Elizabeth Voclain, and she is defining what that means more and more every day.

Anyways, that's more that enough words from me for now. Just remember, keep on being awesome, and we've got this.
Winged Crusade 25th Feb 2019, 11:51 AM edit delete reply
Winged Crusade
... I wonder if Mine could manipulate her entire body to “fly” within her aura, since that’s “in” something.
Warp 26th Feb 2019, 12:21 PM edit delete reply
Why not a flightsuit made out of redstuff then?

Surely there are online fiction-dissertations that exemplify how a true "anti-gravity suit" would have to be structured to comfortably reinforce the human body while also allowing for multidirectional propulsion?
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 12:24 PM edit delete reply
Hm... strange idea, spawned off of thinking about lil Joshu's read on Nilpenter's plan. What if we try to arrange a Tradesman-mediated Will, wherein someone is destined to receive our power and our red if Mine is sufficiently compromised?

If we need something fast, we could ask the spirit-of-Capitalism Trademen to assume conditional ownership themselves, or potentially auction it off to interuniversal entities. My guess is that *someone* will cough up the dough (in utils, I guess) to purchase a world-save, and if the Tradesmen deem it "good for business", maybe a large quantity of power besides.

With enough time, we could probably do something better and model it off of the blood-gifting phenomenon in the powerup ritual. Make someone we trust on the outside a magic-powered superhero with an activation sequence (very magical-girl?), until they eventually learn to use our power to indefinitely sustain the ritual themselves.
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 12:39 PM edit delete reply
Either way, I hope the tradesmen have the ability to at least accept gifts, and at best to offer something in exchange for something we put up for trade. If not, only the high-prep-work plan-B works. Check if Pierce knows anything about non-genetic inheritance of magical bloodlines.
Taenidia 1st Mar 2019, 12:46 PM edit delete reply
If we have the time to write our own automagically-resolving Will, I think we probably want to hand The Red to Finch (IFF both Mine, and The Red, have been severely compromised to the point where neither can likely recover themselves). We will want to download both our own Red-manipulation knowledge, and Liz's (permission presumably given), into Finch in advance.
Morgenstern 5th Mar 2019, 4:21 PM edit delete reply
Just a heads up--I mentioned it on the discord, but updates are going to be slower than usual for a while. I'm still around, I'm just spinning a few too many plates for a bit.
PurpleKetchup 5th Mar 2019, 11:55 PM edit delete reply
Spin down, MM. We'll be right here.
fellow 6th Mar 2019, 1:14 AM edit delete reply
Thanks for the heads up.
Lunar Waffles 6th Mar 2019, 2:28 AM edit delete reply
Lunar Waffles
this might actually work out, we still seem to be unsure of how to progress x:
37212513 6th Mar 2019, 11:03 PM edit delete reply
One team at a time, well armored, and using their best weapons. 4 person teams minimum, plus a loot bag. Only one stage per day. Easy.

Oh, always bring a med kit. Never know when a good day will go south.
fellow 7th Mar 2019, 8:19 AM edit delete reply
I think that's an emoji with the colon being the eyes and the x being the mouth.
Memo 7th Mar 2019, 11:40 PM edit delete reply
Thanks for the heads up.
You do you, and keep on spinning.
We'll be here.
Mister 19th Mar 2019, 12:31 AM edit delete reply
So... are plates still spinning?

I have a mental image of you running back and forth spinning (wobbling?) the poles the plates are on.

Also you're a cat in glasses.

It's rather amusing.
Morgenstern 19th Mar 2019, 4:14 AM edit delete reply
Soon-ish, is the best I can say. I've got a thing I'm trying to power through and finish up so I can get it out of the way instead of trying to split my attention, but I know if I guarantee a timeframe something terrible will happen lol

The wait won't be too much longer.
Mister 27th Mar 2019, 7:04 PM edit delete reply
... this sounds like a build up to the entrance of "Non committal man!" <insert 70 batman theme here>

Anyway, the wait is ok.

I do check daily _just_ in case though. ;) lol

To get by, I just envisage a cat spinning plates. Which is code for a cat rubbing sideways on the poles, and knocking them over. Then not caring about it. Possibly pushing the plate pieces off some ledge too. Because stuff those plates. :D
Memo 7th Mar 2019, 11:31 PM edit delete reply
A few thoughts.
First, I like the billboard idea. Pride is a powerful motivater and manipulate, so let's get that done.
Second. We should tell Caius we are proud of him, for letting go of his desire for revenge. We never commented on that.
Thirth. If our problem with flying seem to be that we consider us to be made of parts, we should try to make a one-piece support structure from the red. If we can levitate that, we should be able to put it on, and the levitate it with us strapped in.
Last. We should look into the bookstore, if it's open. Who knows what awesome stuff could be in there.
Definitely last. The 2 new bunkers. We should look into those as well. Specially since the tradesmen said they were safe'ish.
123123 9th Mar 2019, 4:31 PM edit delete reply
Just going to throw out some questions:
1.What if we were to find a way to dump Carpenter into to infinite drop room and close it off? I think that it has been established that we don't intend to explore the infinite drop any time soon. (If only due to the Mimic Thing being potentially extremely dangerous)
2.What if we were to use the infinite mass that we have access to in order to eject Carpenter into space?
3.What if we were to experiment more with temporal manipulation withing the red, seeing as no Time Entities seemed to break down the door due to experimentation, until Mine could effortlessly slow down time to the point that we would have several days worth of time to dump Carpenter away to one of the aforementioned disposal points?
4.Would the soul gun be able to destroy Nil?
5.Speaking of the soul gun, did we ever go back and tinker with the objects acquired from Zone Fifty? I don't remember anything being done with the slime sample. Have we considered the possibility of threatening Carpenter with the contents of the secure box? Did we ever learn more about the Strange Cactus? Have we considered, now that Mine is so much better at manipulating the red and it's many states, the possibility of recreating the Bigfoot fur for the purposes of stealth?
6.I saw a few comments earlier, talking about the possibility of maybe using blood that is generated from our aura to extend our reach, and I was thinking, if that works , why not consider looking for more warehouses with zone 50 boxes in them (assuming that the purely theoretical blood and aura extensions grant essentially infinite reach)?
7.Another minor thought: have we considered the possibility of permanently enhancing Mine's senses (and the senses of the rest of the crew)?
8.What if we haven't actually seen what Combat # 11 ritual does to normal human beings? By which I mean: What if the fact that we only tested it using people that have Mine's blood in them already matters? What if, say Grizwald were to perform the Combat # 11 ritual? Would he have a different form because he has none of Mine's blood within him.
9.What happens if say an android were to perform the Combat # 11 ritual?
10.Did we test with Lumpy to see if the fleshgolems can even perform the Combat # 11 ritual?
11.What happens when a non-human like creature uses the Combat # 11 ritual? (Say, for example, if we were to modify an insect that we had blooded)
12.Have we considered the possibility of using energy generation within the red to power insanely strong electromagnets?
13.Have we considered the possibility of engaging in psychological Warfare against Carpenter? make him scared or angry enough to slip up.
14.What if instead of trying to levitate, we have Mine try her hand at generating extra limbs, such as wings, or the spinal cord monster's stabby tentacles? We know that Mine can do stuff like generate extra sensory organs -See Mine's first attempt at healing herself, when she started to panic, and had to be saved via level forcing her to calm down- so why is it that much of a stretch to steal some of the most horrifying traits that we have seen?
15.Can we convert blood that is outside of the red into energy? If so, then can't we remove all traces of blood bugs from an area? Would that aid in trying to remove as many of Carpenters advantages as possible? (If, say we were to send a single blood bug into Carpenter's base, to get the lay of the land, and then remove all traces of it)
16.Could Mine in theory reduce her body mass, say to something about a foot by a foot by just sending unimportant body parts to the red? (Now that we can consider Mine's aura to be a container)
17.Can we in theory study the effects of the Combat # 11 ritual, say in order to be able to generate better fleshgolems?
18.How are the non-crew allies holding up? - People like Grizwald and Jury. Have we been making sure to give Macland Row dreams when he sleeps?
19.Have we tried looking for a way to cut off Carpenter's cash flow? It is difficult to maintain an army of UberDeathBots if the maintainer of said army doesn't even have enough money for dinner.
20.Have we considered the powerful, if risky, tactic of memetic warfare? We know that Carpenter has to have some human contact, which makes him a potential target of memetic warfare.
21.Speaking of number 19, what if we found a way to sabotage Carpenter's supply lines? The man has to eat sometime, what if we poisoned his food and/or water supply? I should hope that we are not above dirty tactics at times of war.
22.If we can generate electricity, then can we generate straight up heat, or more importantly, can we suck heat up using the red? Can we set the temperature inside of Carpenter's base low enough that we can essentially freeze him to death?
23.Does Alvin Carpenter have a fear that paralyzes him that we can exploit? Like arachnophobia or hemophobia?
24.Does the color Vantablack exist in this world? For context, Vantablack is a material that absorbs so much light that shadows don't even appear on it. Vantablack in photos looks like the void. Depth perception is impossible where Vantablack is concerned. I was thinking, maybe try generating something similar, with the intent of making it harder for the enemy to pinpoint our fighters.(That said keep in mind that Vantablack is toxic.)
I am deeply sorry, both for the wall of text and for the confusion you may have suffered through in your attempt to try to follow my train of thought. It's just that my mind races constantly, doubly so when I am as tired as I am right now, and when I get an idea, I must write it down, or I will lose it. This whole thing was from one sitting. I don't know about you, but I think that some of these thoughts are genuinely worth taking a closer look at, and as such I wrote them down. All of them. Again I am sorry if my writing and thought patterns give you a headache. Please forgive me.
Mister 11th Mar 2019, 9:10 PM edit delete reply
Well, I'm impressed at the wall of text.

I thought my comments could be long, but you've outdone me. Well done :)
Kumondo 13th Mar 2019, 6:35 PM edit delete reply
Just gonna throw out some answers:
1. Plausible, but the easiest method to get him in there would be Blood portals, and we really don't want to see what happens with Nil or Carpenter in the red, even briefly. With any other method of getting him there it would probably be easier to just kill him directly instead of waiting for it to happen in the pit.
2. Plausible, though it involves using our powers on a scale we never have before, and will almost certainly come with more collateral damage than anyone is comfortable with.
3. That was the end goal of the time experiments, but our best guess estimate that we don't have enough time to invest before we can start seeing the results we need.
4. We've got no clue. Nil is an exception to so many things and we can't afford any experiments with the soul gun.
5. Not especially. 5.B. Carpenter would accept our terms and dare us to use the box. 5.C. Nope. 5.D. Bigfoot fur research is very peripherally on the agenda, and probably should be bumped up.
6. Infinite aura reach is currently very far from our grasp and while more Zone 50 swag could be valuable, we have higher priorities than effectively blindly groping for more.
7. Not especially, mostly on with the idea of preserving our humanity, though it could be a valid train of thought.
8. A valid question. Though it's unlikely we'll get to test it out as everyone actually willing to physically fight for us has our Blood. we may get to test it further down the line though.
9. Completely unknown, though it's likely to do either nothing or mangle the helpless robot.
10. Not yet, and unlikely due to the specificity of the spell.
11. Similar to above, animals will almost certainly result in a pitiful, horrifying monstrosity.
12. Not yet, though the potential is there and powerful electromagnets could be a useful tool. However, I'd also put that fairly low on the priority list.
13. Sending him a message via billboard is as close as we've got to psychological warfare. The biggest problem is that he's not easy to manipulate and he's rather skilled in that arena.
14. It's not so much whether we can, but whether we should add monstrous traits. (Aside, of course, from making sure the new additions function as well as intended.) Again, preserving our humanity is a big priority, so we're trying quite hard not to add or change anything or anyone to permanently or drastically. Conversely, something like that may be needed to face Lasker, when the time comes...
15. As far as I understand, yes. 15.B. Yes, including shlorping them back into the red. 15.C. The trick to spying on Carpenter with a blood bug is getting it in undetected and keeping it undetected. As valuable as information is, if Carpenter detects/sees/suspects our spy at all, then he is almost certainly going to begin his doomsday plan immediately.
16. Quite likely, yes.
17. Quite likely, yes.
18. At last check in all of them have been doing well, though it never hurts to check again.
19. Valid. As it stands, Carpenter is likely bankrolled by Thale or just has a large stockpile on hand. Worth investigating.
20. See answer 13.
21. Similar to 19, he likely has pretty solid stockpiles on hand. I don't think we're above poisoning him, though we'll likely have a much more direct opportunity to resolve the situation first.
22. Thermal manipulation is a currently unexplored field of study and worth investigating. In regards to using it to handle Carpenter, it would most likely involve a blood portal(s), at which point, operation "Flood with Blood" is just as likely to achieve the desired results quicker.
23. Not that we know of, nor do we know how we would find out, though we would definitely exploit such a weakness if it came up.
24. Unknown, but likely. At a similar priority to Bigfoot fur research.

TL;DR There's a couple very worthwhile avenues of research here. Some of the methods of handling Carpenter run up against Occam's Razer, as in, by the time we could get it to work we could have dealt with him an easier way. As a critique, if you have this many ideas at once again, perhaps write them out in Word and take a moment to refine the order or reduce it to a few key ideas. But keep on thinking, as some solutions to tough problems have come from looking at things from unexpected angles.

And to anyone whose read this far, in the comments and in the story overall, you're awesome.
young clutz 13th Mar 2019, 12:33 PM edit delete reply
TerracNova 15th Mar 2019, 6:58 AM edit delete reply
Actually, it might be alright if we just went in. We've been practicly over prepared since the hit on Hope, and we've made massive strides since then. Not to mention, some of our best "growth spurts" has been when we're under fire, loke how we learned to disassociate back to the blood when we first met the many. At the rate we're going, we're just giving not just Carpenter, but Thale as well more time to prep and plan for their next encounter with us while we let our inner Fuse paralyze ourselves with paranoia. If anything, we just need to plan a quick escape in case shit goes South.
WalkerOfSorrow 15th Mar 2019, 5:26 PM edit delete reply
While I mostly agree with you, only MM knows how close we've gotten to losing. It might be that with one of our enemies, especially Nil, we've narrowly skirted away and thought that we had things handled. In particular, Thale has given us a huge challenge we're all aware of, but remember that Carpenter's interference in chapter 1 resulted in a white-out cliffhanger, not resolved until the mysterious arrival of chapter 2. We all thought Blondie/Jane/Mine died back there, and we started over with Fuse. That opinion was short-lived, though.
Young Nutz 22nd Mar 2019, 10:17 AM edit delete reply
I gotta read this.
WalkerOfSorrow 23rd Mar 2019, 7:08 PM edit delete reply
If I'm understanding you, then yes, go back and start this comic from the beginning. It is amazing!