Comic 954 - Test out the gun

Posted on 20th Apr 2018, 10:42 PM in Shipping Off to Southden
Test out the gun

<<First Latest>>
Average Rating: 5 (5 votes) / Rate this comic

Author Notes:

Morgenstern 20th Apr 2018, 10:42 PM edit delete
You ask Michelle how she feels about the armor.

"Feels alright to me," she says, moving around a bit in it. "Ain't like any armor I know, though... gonna be hard to tell before a live test."

You pick up the gun that Dr. Finch left on the counter. You grip the handle and plug the needles into your arm. Oddly, it doesn't feel very comfortable in your hand... until it's plugged into your blood stream. As soon as the second needle goes into your vein, the gun feels perfectly balanced and weighted.

As Dr. Finch speculated, the gun's tubes pull blood directly from your arm to the gun.

You step out of the lab, switching the door to Ilworth so you can test firing at some debris. You squeeze the trigger, and it launches a needle. The sound is... quiet, but a little odd. The needle is propelled a surprisingly good distance, much better than your tranq gun was managing.

You hear another weird noise from inside the gun--somewhat mechanical, like a gear turning or clicking. There's a brief, green light that escapes your gun... and another needle slides into place. You've determined that the gun does take a moment before it can fire again--it's not an automatic. That being said, you don't have to deal with reloading manually... you don't suspect you have to reload at all, the more you look at the gun. It seems to just... make needles. Somehow.

You head back inside, untubing the gun from your arm and helping everyone clean up. You eat some of the leftover dinner from earlier, and you ask Elizabeth about helping her. She's... slightly more candid about what's hurting her, but still very short with you. You make some small adjustments to try and ease her suffering, and then you head to bed.

You take the miniature you with you.

You're tired, and you fall asleep pretty quickly.

...However, you find yourself sleep perceiving again.


Elizabeth wanders from the barracks to the lab, where Fuse and Caius are. Fuse is messing around on the computer, and smoking the tradesmen-grade level that was acquired earlier in the night.

Caius looks... like he's had enough. He stares blankly into space, eyes wide and pupils dilated. He's fine, he's just... not focused on his surroundings at all.

"What are you doing?," Elizabeth asks almost accusingly.

"Smoking level," Fuse replies bluntly. "Talking to Lydia. What are you doing?"

"Nothing," she says. "I found difficulty staying asleep."

Fuse takes a long, slow drag of the level... then offers it to Liz.

Elizabeth looks from the level to Fuse... and then just keeps staring at him. He shrugs, putting the level back in his mouth.

There's a long, strained silence as Fuse types away at the keyboard. Neither he nor Elizabeth seem to acknowledge each other for a while.

"You're not Thale," Fuse finally says.

"Excuse me?"

Fuse turns back to Elizabeth. "You're not Thale. Me and Dr. Finch have been talking to Pierce a bunch lately... and he's got the same mannerisms you do. The dry tone, the thousand yard stare, never does anything with his hands. Like he's talking through his body instead of from it, like he's putting on a puppet show with himself. Pierce is chill, though. Dude never gets riled up about anything. He has all the confidence of... well, a guy that thinks he's invincible."

Fuse takes a shorter puff of the level. Taking it from his mouth, he seems to just... observe it, watching the light flicker at its end, and watching the smoke roll out of his own mouth.

He continues. "You hate Blondie. Like, it's obvious. You hate her, and you hate Patton Thale. Pierce doesn't. He's kinda weird about her, but he doesn't hate her. Not like you do."

Fuse points at her. He stops, as though he forgot what he was going to say... but then he keeps going. "You hate Blondie. Thale probably does, too, but not like you do. That's you. You're bitter and hateful and that's all you. That is... 100% Miss Elizabeth Voclain."

Her expression never shifts. She never even looks away, her eyes never breaking their lock on Fuse. "Is this your attempt to make me feel better? Is this a pep talk? If so, you're failing miserably at your goal. Emphasizing that the only unique parts of myself are tremendously negative does nothing but--"

"Humans are tremendously negative," Fuse says. He says it abruptly, blurting it out, cutting her off... but his tone is still very nonchalant. "Seriously. Why does anybody do anything good? People hype up... like... having a conscience, but that's barely a choice. You either have one or you don't. When you do bad stuff, maybe you feel bad. Nobody wants to feel bad. ...So you do good stuff. It's all just... how you were raised, and brain chemical shit."

He takes another big drag off the level. "You know why I stayed in this? This whole... catastrophic shitshow? Guilt. I felt guilty. I felt like I contributed to... to all this, and that my life wasn't worth jack to anybody so... trying to unfuck the situation was obvious. You know why Caius stuck by us?"

Fuse motions to Caius half heartedly. Caius doesn't even seem to notice. Fuse cracks a hint of a smile. "Revenge. Straight up. Dude wanted old timey western vengeance on Ges and Mac. That was it. Michelle? Michelle attached herself to the first person that had ever shown her even a hint of real affection, the first person that even looked like an escape from the POS she'd been stuck with her whole life."

Fuse takes a quick, hard puff. "I don't know Dr. Finch's deal. For a dude that talks as much as he does, he's a hard guy to read... but I'll bet his reason for joining up was fucked up, too. Everybody's is. Blondie started fighting for survival, that was it. That was the whole story. She didn't wake up one day and decide to fight the power, she started off just struggling to live. It changed. We all did, all of our reasons... slowly went from fucked up, selfish reasons to... not that. Every one of us would take a bullet for each other. We didn't start that way. Blondie weirded me out, Dr. Finch made me nervous, Michelle didn't like Caius 'cuz she thought he could replace her... hell, me and Caius still fight over dumb shit, but I'd die for him and I know he'd do the same for me."

Fuse lowers his visor, making full eye contact with Elizabeth. He does the point again, and gives another looong pause.

"You're not Thale. You hate, and that's human. It's bad human, but it's human and it's yours. You're not a fucking... lost cause, you're not hopeless. We all thought we were. I was some junkie criminal, Michelle and Caius were both disposable goons, Dr. Finch was a coward. We're all god damn action heroes now. You're not hopeless. Nobody's hopeless. Except Thale... 'cuz we're after his ass, and there's no hope in that situation."

He shoves his visor back up onto his face.

"How do you smile?," Elizabeth asks. She barely misses a beat. "How do you laugh? All of you, you joke and you distract yourself with things like this," she says, motioning at the level and at the computer with one sweeping gesture, "and trying to save ghost children. Why? In the face of your own deaths, cowering in a bunker in god-knows-where..."

Liz stops. For the first instant, she looks away. Only for a second.

"How does she continue to smile and hug everyone? Why does she persist in dressing up in pretty outfits and acting like everything is normal? It's insipid. It's ridiculous. It's infuriating."

Fuse takes a looong drag of the level. "She has to. We all do. We've all pretty much died at some point already. Like, we should all be dead. Straight up. Period. If we treated this whole deal with the gravity it's owed it'd break us. We wouldn't move on. We wouldn't keep fighting. Like, this is all we got--making bad puns, smoking level, thinking about space cars. Pretending for like two seconds that we might make it out of this. The longer we ignore reality..."

Fuse shrugs. "I dunno. Reality seems content to ignore us. Our lives suck. Thale could bomb the bunker tonight and take over the world tomorrow. Don't think about it. It's that easy. Just... stop thinking about it. Think about everything except how fucked up this whole existence is. Think about what we're gonna do tomorrow, or next week... not whether or not we'll get one."

He holds the level out to Elizabeth again.

...Elizabeth takes it.

Before she has a smoke, however, she glances at Caius.

"Is he...?"

"He's fine," Fuse says. "He might have the best arms money can buy, but his tube cop lungs were not ready. Isn't that right, Caius?"

Fuse turns, nudging Caius with the back of his hand.

"Nothin' matters," Caius mutters. "But like... man, everything matters."

Elizabeth's fierce stare slowly shifts from Caius... to Fuse... to the level. She brings it to her lips.

What will you do tomorrow?


Guest 20th Apr 2018, 11:35 PM edit delete reply
strategy meeting!!
and console everyone. including elizabeth.
Swagner 21st Apr 2018, 4:29 AM edit delete reply
Maybe don't admit that we can see everyone even while we're sleeping. Fuse's been creeped out enough for one day.
Ghest 21st Apr 2018, 5:18 AM edit delete reply
Ah, but this will be a new day. ;)
Nayru9572 21st Apr 2018, 8:56 AM edit delete reply
I agree that we might want to not mention we saw and heard all that. It sounded pretty private.
echo 21st Apr 2018, 1:58 PM edit delete reply
Unless it's dangerous, no reason to make them paranoid about something we do without meaning to.
chaosblitz 20th Apr 2018, 11:39 PM edit delete reply
I am so worried about all of these people oh my god.
lil Joshu 20th Apr 2018, 11:44 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Archon 20th Apr 2018, 11:53 PM edit delete reply
Nah. Let it keep some of makes it so special, Y'know?
Something like this loses some of the magic when it stops being a happy accident.
lil Joshu 20th Apr 2018, 11:48 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
Also, as for what to do tomorrow... trade-up some bone for hopefully better bone, then grab it, absorb it, learn better bone, then upgrade bone armor. (Armor is half the tensile strength of steel, meaning this armor is only half as good as medieval armor. If we can learn to make some kind of super-bone, the armor might be better than kevlar. Blood has a lot of carbon in it... maybe carbon nanotube/ graphene hybrid bone armor? That'd be awesome. Light and able to take a tank shell.
Crestlinger 21st Apr 2018, 12:48 AM edit delete reply
Spider silk to blood silk. I likee.
Blue_Elite 21st Apr 2018, 4:25 AM edit delete reply
I wonder if we could get the red to crush the bone into diamond hardness. I don't know how much pressure an entire dimension can make, but I'm willing to bet it's a lot (granted we can avoid crushing ourselves in the process).
PurpleKetchup 21st Apr 2018, 6:37 AM edit delete reply
Small reminder that hardness isn't everything - diamond may be the hardest mineral (and generally, the highest hardness material we know of right now), it makes for poor armour as it breaks easily.
Effective armour redirects and absorbs incoming impact energy instead of transmitting it to the carrier. Flexibility and toughness are important parameters there.

tl;dr bone plates are much better armour than diamond (or other ultra-hard equivalents).
Guest 21st Apr 2018, 2:04 PM edit delete reply
Does mom%s red know any bio armour (or red pulling) tricks from the stretching thin days?
Twyll 20th Apr 2018, 11:49 PM edit delete reply
Morning meditation, then start working on acquiring a really nice computer and a place to use it-- with that place ideally in Southden, under the good auspices of the Deck.

Possibly get in touch with Cam's hospital and let them know that we might need to come by for a law enforcement operation. We *are* technically all that remains of Vasquez Law Enforcement, after all. Maybe we don't want to tip our hand like that-- there might be a Queened person on staff or something-- but maybe it would help prevent any surprises when we suddenly show up in bone armor. I dunno, there's an argument to be made either way.

Check in with the Mars folks and the ghost girls, distribute hugs and breakfast as needed.

One thing we could look up really quickly when it comes to Ilworth is what kind of squatter laws there are in the not-UK. In many places, once someone's living somewhere, you need to take a certain amount of time to evict them and go through a whole formal process-- so we could just have people start living in Ilworth and then, if the banks happen to notice, we'll have at least a couple of weeks to move them somewhere else or settle up with the banks. Since it's abandoned property, I doubt anyone is monitoring it terribly well.

Help mini-Jane up onto the table so she can keep Bab Red company.
Swagner 21st Apr 2018, 4:31 AM edit delete reply
I don't think we should take the bone armor, staying undercover will be easier without it, and we still haven't tested it yet.
Twyll 21st Apr 2018, 8:45 AM edit delete reply
It might be collapsible to a certain extent-- perhaps we could carry it in in bags? Our enemies will figure out who we are quickly enough anyways.
Baron11704 20th Apr 2018, 11:50 PM edit delete reply
Interesting to know fuse is the kind of guy who's an optimistic nihilist when he's high, it's great.
Anywho, brief in the morning on how we're going to accomplish this bioprinter trace, get all the nitty gritty details hashed out properly, then try to get this plan, a rollin!
Archon 20th Apr 2018, 11:58 PM edit delete reply
Honestly, this is better than I could have hoped for.
One more thing to offer the tradesmen our gratitude for, eh?
Portal In Time 20th Apr 2018, 11:59 PM edit delete reply
Portal In Time
This was a good update. A really good update. You're an amazing author, MM, and I'm glad you're the one that takes us through this journey of a story.

Let's wake up a little early and help make some food. I'm thinking bagels with some cream cheese and tomato? We ought to get a hot plate and toaster. Until then, I suppose we've always got Fuse :P

Let's start the day off with another check in with the Mars base and the Ghosty Girls, just to say hi/give them some more foods, that sorta thing, then head to Southden to meet up with Lovers, talk her through this situation, see what we can't do about another cage fight or two in exchange for a better computer and a place to commence The Hack.
Blue_Elite 21st Apr 2018, 4:35 AM edit delete reply
Having Fuse do hacker work for The Deck was also a consideration in lue of Caius doing another fight (we kinda need him at 100% for 1) bio-printer monsters and 2) hacker security guards).
Twyll 21st Apr 2018, 8:48 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, I'd prefer having Fuse do some hacking over Caius doing another fight as well.
Guost 21st Apr 2018, 1:45 AM edit delete reply
Sneaky, Fuse, calling Caius a cop when he can't get angry about it.

Anyway, finalize plans over a big unhealthy breakfast. A little extra fat is basically an emergency body mass reserve when matter conversion is an option. We decided on going to Southden, right?
PurpleKetchup 21st Apr 2018, 3:36 AM edit delete reply
Alright, Elizabeth having strong, rational opinions is definitely a good sign re:oversyncing. Even if they're not positive ones, can't win them all.
Just focus on fixing her body to nominal levels of comfort.
Blue_Elite 21st Apr 2018, 4:39 AM edit delete reply
We should see if we can make a bone helmet for ourself to complete the armor (and maybe a tiny bone helmet for B.B. for kicks).

Breakfast and then look into getting started with Fuse's plan. If there's going to be any delays we can take that opportunity to look into the Faraday matter or one of our other many side projects.
Reiko Lupus 21st Apr 2018, 5:26 AM edit delete reply
Is good to see Elizabeth becoming true life XD.

Now, for the actions:

-Wake up a bit Early to make the breakfast. Preferably, with high contents of fat, to get some extra materials in everyone for emergency XD.

-Test the Body Armor against a bullet of every weapon you have. Let's see how hard it is XD.

-Make 3-4 more Bone Armors, and make Finch Exchange them in a ritual to see what we can get of that.

-Go greet the people in Mars and the Ghost Girls.

-Make sure that you, Fuse, Michelle, and Caius has armor and weapons, and go to Bunker X. Let's beat Floor 1 XD.
pkrankow 21st Apr 2018, 12:03 PM edit delete reply
Jane sleeps because her brain is tired. She percieves all her blood because her blood does not tire like her brain and body. It has also been a ritual to check on all her pieces.

I would bet that every separate piece can be a blood alarm AT THE SAME TIME while Jane's brain is asleep.