Comic 1196 - The End (Part 1)

Posted on 1st Nov 2019, 8:08 PM in The End
The End (Part 1)

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 1st Nov 2019, 8:08 PM edit delete
A brief and cryptic call from an alleged Bad Future Mine causes current, regular Mine to hesitate on time shenanigans. She toys lightly with accelerating her own thoughts to increase her reaction time--and a few other parlor tricks--but mostly abstains from even learning how to do more than that. By keeping the option off the table, Mine hopes to avoid any accidental time travel.

Pierce figures out the ritual, and the group collaborates on a mysterious message to send to Carpenter. Carpenter buys it, and the group gets more time to work--hashing out drones, EMPs, more meat mecha progress, and a little more of Bunker X. During this time, a large number of the tradesmen are destroyed by Nil, briefly limiting their associated rituals until they can sort things out and fill the necessary roles. They leave a last, cryptic warning for Mine, that a decision is coming--one that derailed a previous attempt to break the cycle, when one not unlike Mine attained almost her level of power but was broken by the choice. A decision will be made, not now but soon: either Mine sacrifices herself for her friends, or her friends sacrifice themselves for Mine.

The big day arrives, and a bug is sent into Carpenter's invisible base. It's then that Nil plays the first of numerous tricks up his sleeve: he reduces the spatial distance between the drone and its master to zero. In an instant, Mine is dragged into Carpenter's lab, which has been transformed into a dimension not unlike Nil's own. Nil and Carpenter begin whipping out answers for Mine's powers--making it incredibly difficult to blood people in or out, though the rest of the party does manage to get some gear to Mine before trying to rush the base the old fashioned way.

While the group just tries to get to the base, Mine deals with everything Carpenter's prepared. Walls, floors, and ceilings made of flat screens flash subliminal imagery and sound, both to try and put Nil back in Mine's head AND to possibly shut her brain down. Arcane symbols flash by as well--imitating the destruction spell that just erases things. Flesh eating viruses are piped through the (very trapped) vents, a legion of bio-mechanical horrors awaits, and the entire facility makes and unmakes portions of itself seemingly at random, making it both more dangerous and more difficult to navigate. The entire structure periodically trembles as it transforms around Mine; however, her ability to accelerate her own thought processing gives her enhanced reflexes, in addition to the EMPs built by Fuse and Dr. Finch and other weaponry at her disposal. The Many attempts to repel her, but Mine mentally outwrestles it. The prospect of just flooding the place with blood straight out of the red comes up, but speakers in the building keep repeating the phrase "you are the blood... you are the blood...", which makes it seem like something deliberate and weird is being prepped and everyone advises against the blood flood maneuver. Mine holds out until the rest of the team arrive.

...And make a terrible discovery. Carpenter's base isn't just imperceptible; by this point it's physically gone. There's literally nothing where the previously invisible building was.

In fact, Carpenter's base has been launched into space.

Carpenter's plan is, with Nil's help, to turn his laboratory home into a satellite. With this, they can broadcast the will of the Many to other satellites, and spread the Many's previously limited range to the entire planet. Then, the Many can put Nil into everyone. Carpenter, as the voice in the Many's ear, would have absolute control of everything--and combined with Nil's alien knowledge, they could force the whole world to build them a spaceship (or even turn the Earth itself into a spaceship) and spread Nil throughout the rest of the universe. Carpenter would be god-king of the cosmos, in absolute control until Nil has secured the ability to shut down every sentient mind in existence simultaneously... and Carpenter's fine with not being a god forever.

Mine eventually fights her way to the top of the rocket/laboratory/satellite, and confronts Carpenter and Nil directly. At first, she fights Carpenter's body--part mechanical, part material decay as Nil's influence eats away at him. She throws an EMP (well, several, but Nil manages to unmake a few), attempting to cut off Carpenter's radio connection to the Many and thus sabotage the entire plan. She finally succeeds; it creates a massive disruption field, briefly damaging the satellite's flight path and communications, and cutting off Carpenter's ability to give commands to the Many.

Carpenter's body slumps to the ground.

The EMP had also severed his connection between the body and the brain... and Carpenter's real brain was physically located farther into the final chamber. From the shadows, an immense robot emerges--a gigantic mechanical scorpion with a face resembling Carpenter, bizarre distortion from Nil's power, and genetically engineered tissue in key places. With no regard for the stability of the satellite, Carpenter's real, actual body begins an assault with rockets, lasers, and Stratemeyer cannons. Nil attacks Mine mentally, trying to drag her mind into his domain and erase her personhood. The satellite leaves the atmosphere.

Mine and Red begin to alternate control. At first, Mine takes the mental battle and Red takes the physical one, but they switch to throw Nil off... and then realize how effective that strategy is. The two begin to swap more rapidly, using Mine's ability to accelerate her thoughts through the red. Mine and Red flicker between moments, swapping from mental to physical decisions and impulses, which throws off Nil's brain moves and confuses Carpenter's complex targeting algorithms. Further, having a completely new sentient identity rapidly growing into existence inside Nil's realm begins to wear on Nil himself.

Nil and Carpenter, attempting to turn the fight back in their favor, begin mixing their cognition more as well. The two twist more and more into one another, Carpenter's mania adding complexity to their mental assault, and Nil's power making the physical one more dangerous. However, that same increased firepower and instability begins to tear everything apart--the satellite getting physically destroyed and Nil's mindscape and external constructs losing shape. In a last ditch effort, Mine forces mass out from the red through her own body--using the combined accelerated thoughts of herself and Red and her own identity to produce a semi-decent simulucrum of... herself. Her own body, but with Red entirely occupying the mind. Red, now having her own body and existing as her own person spontaneously in swinging distance of Nilpenter, acts as the silver bullet that ends the fight. Nil screams irrationally about thought and time and algorithms, and Carpenter reveals the satellite's self destruct button works like a deadman's switch--the countdown had begun when that EMP had gone off, everything else had just been stalling. Oh, and one other thing: some of that shaking earlier had been the satellite launching its missiles.

Mine opens a portal just in time for her and Red to get blown into it, the satellite exploding and killing Carpenter for good.

Back on Earth, a bunch of missiles scatter as they approach the planet, each aimed at the previously suspected addresses of Zone 50 bunker entrances. Panic ensues; most of the party is already outside and away from the bunkers, but not everyone. Liz helps the ghost girls get out of Bunker E, but the missile has a ways to travel so it works out alright. Bunker A's city door is much closer to where the missiles were launched; Pierce and Dr. Finch are unsure if they can clear the blast zone in time, and Mine is unreachable right after the satellite explosion. They instead switch the entrance to its "real" arctic one; there's a missile aimed at it, but it's too far and too obstructed by mountainous terrain. The A entrance in the city gets blown up but the bunker itself is fine, though Pierce, Dr. Finch and Baby Red are left stranded on that side of the world.

Fuse, Caius, and Michelle are stuck in the city, now without a base of operation and cut off from accessing most of their resources.

Liz and the ghost girls are stuck in Ilworth, where they meet up with Zene and his family and stay in one of the extra houses for a bit.

Mine and Red are briefly lost, though no one believes they're dead--Mine's existence can still be felt, but with everything she's capable of, getting blasted into her red in a thoroughly rattled state could have screwed up her sense of time or place in all sorts of ways, and/or she may be using the red to heal. The only way for everyone to stay in touch is via Caius's brain phone.

Everyone is spread out and in the lowest position they've been since the early days, but there's one thing working in their favor: Thale is also put on the ropes, because one of the missiles hit the 18th floor of Thale Energy, and now the building is in shambles.

The missiles that (as a reminder) were aimed at bunker entrances.

The missile hit Thale Energy because there's a bunker in there.
Morgenstern 1st Nov 2019, 8:11 PM edit delete
There's probably typos, I'll get to them later. Rest of the end should be posted over the next few days; I have it all written up, but I decided dropping the whole bomb at once might not be the best idea.


Anotherdamntimeclone 1st Nov 2019, 8:38 PM edit delete reply
Wow things got real, FAST.
Twyll 1st Nov 2019, 8:43 PM edit delete reply
All I can really say is :O
Causticius 1st Nov 2019, 9:11 PM edit delete reply
...I expected things to go to pot, but that was something else entirely. Way to go Morg!~

Still sad we couldn't see it all in sprite form, but having *an* ending is better than *no* ending at all. Thx for going the extra mile instead of just stalling for eternity or disappearing entirely :V
Limrix 1st Nov 2019, 11:24 PM edit delete reply
Wow, that was nuts. Who let Carpenter get even this close to powerful? Anyway, let's check how we did on predicting the final fight.
+Carpenter bought the ruse. We weren't sure at all if this was going to work, but it paid off.
+Time travel is hard
+They did 100% plan to enslave earth with broadcasts and conquer the universe.
+Acceleration, at least mentally
+Red coming into her own
+The doors not working anymore
-Nil can bend space. Didn't see that one coming
-Carpenter was way more super prepared than we ever dreamed
-Carpenter's real brain was attached to a monster. In hindsight, shoulda seen that coming.

We've come back to a central question of the comic--if you had to choose someone to die, who would it be? We'll find out soon, but based on Mine's previous actions, I don't think she'll play by the rules.
Tych 2nd Nov 2019, 1:37 PM edit delete reply
you forgot to point out that the Tradesmen nearly got wiped out
Eternity 1st Nov 2019, 11:46 PM edit delete reply

THIS WAS WAY BEYOND ANYTHING I EXPECTED. I an absolutely blown away. Amazing work!
Tych 2nd Nov 2019, 1:35 PM edit delete reply
okay I know this is a day late and kinda . . .picky but I was really hoping for some more 32bit pics of the whole fight in this I know that sounds kinda pity but reading the fight I just feel it would stick out more especially seeing the giant cyber-scorpion Nilpenter
Luminous Lead 2nd Nov 2019, 2:07 PM edit delete reply
I'm imagining the climax of Zero 4, the battle with Dr. Weil on the space station Ragnarok.
5-5-13-6 2nd Nov 2019, 1:47 PM edit delete reply
That was pretty quick.
fellow 2nd Nov 2019, 4:04 PM edit delete reply
I'm still happy we're getting an ending, but I had expected it to smell the roses a bit more than this.
Red Diamond 2nd Nov 2019, 11:41 PM edit delete reply
My first thought when seeing the party split up like this.

PurpleKetchup 3rd Nov 2019, 3:29 PM edit delete reply
That is a pretty large bomb, or rather several.