Comic 685 - Negotiate further

Posted on 15th Dec 2017, 2:51 PM in Ghosts
Negotiate further

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 15th Dec 2017, 2:51 PM edit delete
You hold up a hand, giving Nil a very stern and skeptical stare. You're not sure if he understands it. "Hold on there, buddy, I didn't get where I am today agreeing to the first thing slid past me. You're going to show me more of your cards before I acquiesce to anything. First off: you hitching a ride in my brain... would that be forever?"

"Yes," Nil essentially states. "Your mind would become mine. Your consciousness would cease to be. This is the only way."

"Alright," you say, mulling it over. "Carpenter one of your's? The, uh... the one called Arvin Carpenter."

"If I were inside his physical form, I would not be here and now vying for this arrangement," Nil replies. "Carpenter has cracked the door to my control. He has also stopped sleeping entirely. I can take no further place in his shell with things as they stand."

You nod. "Okay. Okay then. So you said you'd render Caius' death 'obsolete'... I guess that means you're not gonna keep him from dying? You're just gonna bring him back."

"Not entirely inaccurate," Nil responds. "There are multiple physical bodies with a configuration nigh identical to that of the one called Caius."

"Yeah," you reply. "The rest of his clone stock."

Nil continues. "There is yet still one of that crop who does not have a mind. No input was granted to his physical brain. He is without consciousness. When the one called Caius passes, I can hold his thoughts in suspension between the boundaries of life and death. You are both familiar with the one called Caius, and are in a unique position to place yourself local to that empty substitute form. From within your body, I can enact a process that transfers the mind of the one called Caius into the similar but unoccupied shell."

"Alright," you nod. "So you'd basically be swapping Caius' mind into a brain dead clone. I can't do this myself because I don't know your dumb space witchcraft, and you can't do it with anybody else because you need to get to that body AND have memories of Caius. Sounds real fucking convenient for you, pal. Can you guarantee, and I mean guaran-FUCKING-tee, that Caius is really about to die? I don't want you bullshit wordsmithing me here, Nil. I don't mean in a hundred years, I don't mean sometime after he's retired to a beach house in the tropics, I mean IS HE DYING, RIGHT NOW?"

The fragments of Nil twitch, and shake, for just an instant. "The red is a master of its own form, but manipulating the bodies of others while preserving their individuality is a feat it is still unlearned in. The one called Caius is bleeding out rapidly. Various organs are damaged. Radiation is rapidly infecting the wound. If the red tries too little, he will pass across the boundary. If the red tries too much, it will lose control of the situation. In most paths laid before you, the one called Caius will die almost immediately. In very few paths, he will die slowly, and painfully, over the course of two Earth days. In no path prior to your arrival here does he survive."

"Hold up--no path prior to my arrival here? The hell does that mean?"

"I cannot foresee how my communication with you may change the course of history. The very act of becoming aware of your future may alter it. This is the nature of time as you recognize it."
Morgenstern 15th Dec 2017, 4:49 PM edit delete
(Also, for those that haven't seen it, Blood is Mine has a Discord now. While only the comments section is taken into account for actions in the comic, a great deal of discussion does happen on the Discord).


WalkerOfSorrow 15th Dec 2017, 3:25 PM edit delete reply
This is Death.

That just occurred to me. Death isn't a demon or an alien. There's no Angel of Death. Death is the absolute, in which what we recognize as life passes the "boundary" and enters whatever is beyond. To the universe of this comic, Death is Nil and Nil is Death.

Nil does not strictly speaking "enter" a mind as we think of it. Rather, the mind wears down, develops a hole, and from there the mind erodes. The more it erodes, the greater a presence of Nil we perceive. When Nil's job is done, the mind is totally unraveled, unrecognizable as a mind. And the body is unrecognizable as a living thing. The person dies.
WalkerOfSorrow 15th Dec 2017, 3:29 PM edit delete reply
What it is literally saying is if Macland dies, then it can exempt Caius from that. Macland will be given to Nil in totality; he will die with nothing left of his mind. In exchange, the unclaimed "caius clone" will take on Caius' consciousness as we know it.

This isn't a possession, Nil can't possess people because Nil isn't there. If we agree to this deal, there will not be a Macland anymore. But remember, Macland isn't the only living being in his body. The Red/Blood is us. If Nil takes his body, then we need assurances that Nil will not have any hold on the Red, Jane, Fuse, etc. It takes the body of Macland, and that is all.
WalkerOfSorrow 15th Dec 2017, 3:33 PM edit delete reply
To clarify what I mean, remember what we've experienced so far. When we tried to look at the thing in the hall, there was Nothing there. We didn't see anything. Not a hall, not darkness, nothing. We banished Nil by removing every trace of its interference and patching up the holes. Effectively, we filled an empty spot so Something would be there, not Nothing.
WalkerOfSorrow 15th Dec 2017, 3:50 PM edit delete reply
Some further notes about Nil.

When it first showed up in the comic, it said "Oh No No No. You Aren't Supposed To Be Here." When we went in the error room, and met ourselves, it "politely informed" us that we weren't supposed to be there. The other us wasn't a Red or a hallucination, just us wanting to leave more strongly than we wanted to stay. Could it be possible that our Red was trying to protect us from meeting Nil? Could that have been some sort of "not-wall" keeping people out of Nil's "not-realm?"

Several different ideas how to attack Nil were just negated. Crossed out as if they didn't happen, because they didn't. If the events had been reversed, MM likely would have left them in normal font and just explained how everything we tried failed, or rewound. Instead, MM said in normal text "You thought you threw your knife, for a second, but you didn't." You can't attack the absence of existence.
Deadly Death Sickle 15th Dec 2017, 3:43 PM edit delete reply
Deadly Death Sickle
Ugh, WHY ALL OF THE HARD CHOICES!!! I have no idea of what to do...
Twyll 15th Dec 2017, 3:48 PM edit delete reply
"In no path prior to your coming here." These are the important words!

This means that literally every timeline in which Caius dies has *already* been nullified! From here, Nil isn't able to see the results, which means that we still have uncertainty.

What that means is that we need to extract as much information as possible from Nil about what actually kills Caius in those now-irrelevant timelines, so that we can use that info to save him.

Also, it's entirely possible that Nil-in-Macland's-body would revive Caius, and then immediately kill him. We have no guarantee that he wouldn't. Seems like the sort of thing he'd do. This has Monkey's Paw written aaaaaall over it.
WalkerOfSorrow 15th Dec 2017, 3:54 PM edit delete reply
Perhaps a more accurate phrasing would be, "Every timeline in which Caius would have died without Nil confronting Macland has been nullified." Nil appears able to manipulate spacetime, so it could make this event a universal constant. In all timelines, Nil MUST confront Macland, but it can't know what Macland is going to do. So now, the timelines when Caius will die as a result of Macland's decision are still intact. If they weren't, then Nil would know for a fact that Caius won't die.
Wierdweblurker 15th Dec 2017, 3:50 PM edit delete reply
So... In no path does Caius survive. It's worth noting, "The one called Caius" doesn't survive if Macland takes the deal either. While his individuality, his memories, his "soul" will be downloaded into another copy, the body assigned the name "Caius" will die regardless. The question is, do we have to rely on Nil to do that, or can we do it? It would take a super-sync, probably have irreversable effects on the psyches of both parties, but we could conceivably do it without involving the spirit of entropy.
But if we haven't the confidence in our ability to do that... the deal would put Nil in control of Macland, but we do have experience in battling Macland, and Nil may not have as good of an idea of how a corporation's resources can be utilized. In Macland's body, he is stronger but still weakened.
Two options to consider, neither good. But then again, we're used to that.
Blue_Elite 15th Dec 2017, 4:42 PM edit delete reply
Short answer to "can [Jane] swap out Caius's mind to the blank clone": No.

Long answer: We are currently Macland, not Jane. Jane has no idea that the blank clone exists, where it exists, and if Caius will live long enough to do the memory transfer (which transferring a lifetime's amount of memories has not been tried before). Suffice to say if Nil is right in that Caius is about to die, there's nothing Jane can do to stop it (without delving into eldritch powers she has no idea how to control).
rufiangel 15th Dec 2017, 4:15 PM edit delete reply
I see, so that's what the deal is. Where is that "empty Caius clone" anyway?

If. Macland could negotiate with Nil further to allow himself at least some measure of presence, or existence still, that would be neat. Just so we still have a foothold.

But yeah... I'm all for saving Caius no matter what it takes.

EDIT: I am losing sleep over this comic. I jolted awake at 5am and first thing I did, no joke, read the update and then posted a comment. Having trouble going back to sleep. MATT. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE. *curls up to try and sleep again :'D*
Blue_Elite 15th Dec 2017, 4:53 PM edit delete reply
"MATT. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE." and variants are starting to become your catchphrase. :3
rufiangel 15th Dec 2017, 6:37 PM edit delete reply

That really says something about this comic XDD
Blue_Elite 15th Dec 2017, 4:21 PM edit delete reply
Alright, we still need one missing piece of information: Motive.
So Macland would more-or-less be making a heroic sacrifice to save Caius; Macland's life for Caius's life. Now what does Nil get out of this deal?
If Nil is going to go on a "rampage," forcing xemself into others like xe used to, this whole exchange is more of a temporary solution than a permanent one. If xes machinations end up getting others (Caius among them) killed, then there's really no point to this deal.

So unless we get an answer here's a term as part of this deal: no supernatural acts beyond the scope of this deal UNLESS the red is contacted and gives permission.
If Nil wants to join this "game" by taking over a game piece, xe needs to learn the "rules" proper so xe doesn't break them like xe did the last time and end up getting others executed. The red has a good grasp of those rules and would act as a good judge/referee.
Mochi 15th Dec 2017, 4:36 PM edit delete reply
time to pry some information out of an elder god.

- how can it do this?
- why does it want a body badly enough to basically bargain and beg for macland's?
- why is it that mac's the only one who can do this, aside from being the one person nil has a foothold in?
Azith 15th Dec 2017, 5:35 PM edit delete reply
"He has also stopped sleeping entirely." What's the record for that, 11 days? 12? Case in point, Carpenter is going to need some very specialized uber-coffee or something to keep himself alive and awake. It's something worth noting, even if having Jane act on it would be meta.
Portal In Time 16th Dec 2017, 5:38 PM edit delete reply
Portal In Time
Can I just say, I love this comic.
Baeronius 17th Dec 2017, 7:26 AM edit delete reply
Hmm this is going oddly. Heh.
Gonna try to catch-up tomorrow. (work was poodles cause the holidays are coming)
Guest 21st Dec 2017, 2:03 AM edit delete reply
Either Caius lives and Macland dies and then we have to deal with Nil, oooorrrrr Caius dies and Nil stays right the fuck where he is OOOOORRRRRRR Caius' death isn't certain and Nil is manipulating us. If this was still up for discussion I'd say screw Nil