Comic 730 - Climb higher

Posted on 9th Jan 2018, 1:42 AM in No Easy Way Out
Climb higher

<<First Latest>>
Average Rating: 5 (4 votes) / Rate this comic

Author Notes:

Morgenstern 9th Jan 2018, 1:42 AM edit delete
You begin to drive up the tiers. Higher and higher, continuing to monitor the bladed man from a safe distance with your raven. You catch Fuse up on what he missed, as far as you understand it.

Then you, Michelle, and Fuse attempt to give Zene's dad an... abbreviated version of what's going on in the city, and what sort of nonsense the man's wife (and by extension him, and his son) has gotten involved with.

You also attempt to explain--as politely and slowly as possible--why you need to inject him with your blood.

That last part's a harder sell.

"So you want me... to inject your blood?," he asks.

You nod. Yeah, that's the short version.

"It's not laced with anything, if that's what you're worried about," Fuse says.

"And she ain't got nothin'," Michelle adds. "Diseases or viruses, I mean. I've seen her straight up destroy a virus."

The man heaves a very long sigh, staring into the floorboard.

"I'm Fuse, by the way," Fuse tosses in.

"Oh, yeah, and I'm Michelle... and this is Blondie," Michelle says, motioning to you with a slight grin.

"Crease," the man finally mutters. "I'm Crease."

Fuse tries not to smirk, covering his mouth with his hand. "Oh. Yeah, that's... definitely a lower tier name."

The man turns, starting to say something, but Fuse holds his hands up. "I'm from there, too, I'm not judging. ...I'm just saying."

As you scale higher and higher through the middle tiers, steadily approaching what would be considered the higher tiers, the bladed man begins to slow in his pursuit. He's shown incredible endurance, and only fallen a bit behind--losing ground to you on straight ways, but making it up when you needed to turn or stop, but now he's definitely falling behind.

He doesn't give up, though. He slows his pace to something closer to a walking speed, but he continues heading in your general direction.

Crease considers it for some time, but finally relents. "Give me the... the thing."

Zene removes the dart from the dart gun, and hands it to his father. Crease injects himself. It takes a second--not as long as it did with the mutants in the warehouse, but just a hair longer than normal.

You can now give orders to Zenith's father, Crease.

"Should I feel anything? I don't feel any different," Crease states.

"Not unless some real weird shit's going down," Fuse responds.

Eventually, you get a full tier above the bladed man. Rather than pursue you straight to the upward ramp, he begins to scale the nearby architecture, climbing up toward where you are now. He's not nearly as quick climbing as he is running, and by the time he actually navigates around the underside of the tier layout, you'll likely have ascended again. Still, it's a little crazy that he still knows where you are, and that he's still trying to follow you.

You address this in the hummer.

"So he can sense us, somehow," Fuse concludes. "Like, he's gotta have some kind of... radar, or something. I bet his mutant power isn't actually sword-hands, it's some kind of tracking shenanigans."

"He cut me. Right?," Michelle asks. "Maybe he can follow people if he's tagged 'em."

"That..." Fuse stops, but shakes his head. "I'm trying to figure out the logistics of that, and I'm drawing a blank. That's... a really specific sort of psychic--hello, yes, I was born with a genetic anomaly that lets me track people down if I cut them with my sword hands, the sword hands there's no way I was born with."

Michelle shrugs. "Somethin' to do with the blood part, then? Like, maybe once he's got bodily fluids, he can find you. I don't know jack about mutants, Fuse."

"It's... possible, I guess," Fuse says. "Psychic stuff is weird, and I'm allowed to say that. Like, a growth on my brain shouldn't let me light stuff on fire, but here we are--it's the most scientists have ever given a rat's ass about mutants, because they can't explain it all the way. This dude could have the power to detect purple hummers from the other side of the planet, I'd just have to accept it and go on with my day."

There's a brief break in the conversation before Zene speaks up.

"He knew where we were," Zene says, a little quietly. "We didn't hide in the first alley we found, we tried to trick around and like... fake out whatever was comin'. He didn't search for us, he jumped like right to us."

Michelle turns in her seat. Fuse leans back.

"My wife... she's part of this. Isn't she?," Crease asks solemnly. "If this guy can follow... blood, or whatever--you think she could have given him my blood?"

"Or mine," Zene states. "He could prob'ly like... get her blood, and use it to track me, maybe. Don't know if that makes sense."

Michelle shakes her head. "Let's not go jumpin' to figure out who's the beacon, here, we got no idea what the hell this guy's deal is. Fuse is right, this asshole could be predictin' where we're gonna be, he could be followin' the smell of our exhaust, he could be hearin' our heartbeats in his mind. All we know is he's got swords, and he's still comin'."

"That's kind of weird, too," Fuse says. "You'd think if he could keep track of us, he'd stop and like... let somebody pick him up. Y'know, send in a bunch of tube cops in sports cars or something, instead of hoofing it."

"Unless they're tryin' to keep it on the DL," Michelle replies.

Fuse's eyes widen behind his visor. He nods, slowly. "Yeah. Yeah, if blade guy and the truck monster get a bunch of people killed, they can just pin it on poor people being poor people. Lower tier psychos do riots and stuff all the time. If Thale hit us with a real army of mutants, it might be pushing too hard--Reigns would double down on the PMCs, and Thale might not want that. Not yet. If Thale sends big corporately backed guns he tips his hand. The best he can do is one weird mutant and... whatever the hell's in that truck."

"I think there was an army in that truck," Michelle replies. "I mean... it was a freaking truck, and that psychic stuff hit hard enough that even Blondie got rocked by it."

"It might've been an army," Fuse says, "...or it might have just been really big. One big ass mutant. Two guys go nuts, you can't really blame anybody but them, and you can't use it as an excuse to go Big Brother on the entire city. It's a safe play."

There's a lingering silence as you keep driving. Again, you find yourself not real certain where you're headed, you're just driving upward.

As is not uncommon, Michelle is the one to break the silence. "What the HELL was in that truck?"


Crestlinger 9th Jan 2018, 2:58 AM edit delete reply
'Drive away. Keep driving. Drive forever.' = be ready for traps up ahead. This was planned and the mutant tailing us is part of it to herd us to a specific location. With the tunneling involved I would expect a bridge or overpass rigged to blow. One psychic counter that's been proven to work was the same mindset used when fighting the prophet, change drivers if able before utilizing it though.
Blue_Elite 9th Jan 2018, 3:06 AM edit delete reply
Well, we can't go back to the bunker until we either shake this guy or kill him. Given he can keep up with a car, if we want to get in a confrontation we'll have to bait and trap him.

I think he's going to win the endurance game and we need to setup a trap so we can try to kill him. The higher up we go the less likely he'll get allies to back him up but also the less confined settings we can use to trap him. So we need to make a decision pretty fast.

Also try to call Jury again. Maybe she can arrange an ambush in the upper tiers (as well as maybe work on figuring out what that psychic attack was all about).
Golden_Eagle 9th Jan 2018, 3:19 AM edit delete reply
Confining it would be the best choice, but that will be difficult since it's way too fast. They're not ready to actually attack it, though- and what if the psychic isn't the mutant? For all we know, the real psychic could be guiding the mutant.

Maybe the best step would be to try and avoid it whilst trying to figure out how its tracking them. From there, they can try to set up a trap or whatever.
rufiangel 9th Jan 2018, 3:28 AM edit delete reply
Fuse's reaction to Crease's name is golden XD

I'm going to guess one really big mutant + swordhands is a good guess, with that truck. If our raven wasn't affected by the psychic blast, then maybe we could check in on that truck with another raven to see what's going on there in the aftermath.

Could we set up a trap somehow for this d-bag following us? Maybe snipe him from a distance when he thinks he's got us?
Blue_Elite 9th Jan 2018, 3:51 AM edit delete reply
The general idea I had for a trap would be to park the car with a guard (we do NOT want to leave it alone; if Swordarms is intelligent and not just some Carver drone he might try to cut it to ribbons to strand us) and have Jane go into some building or structure alone. After setting up a barrier, we'd wait for the Swordarms to come after Jane, then signal the others to come in after Jane. Ideally Jane would be able to fend for herself long enough for Michelle to shoot and Fuse to burn.

Then we go back to the bunker and have some much-needed ice cream.
rufiangel 9th Jan 2018, 3:58 AM edit delete reply
>_< I'm not sure how Jane would be able to fend for herself? Do you mean with a dart gun and/or floating darts?
Ronmr 9th Jan 2018, 5:18 AM edit delete reply
What about getting Caius to come in the second car and split up, Caius takes Zene and Fuse, while Michelle, Jane and Crease continue in hummer? Or just bring Caius to make a trap for the mutant?
Blue_Elite 9th Jan 2018, 7:32 AM edit delete reply
Caius is out of commission due to the brain surgery. Dr. Finch could go as long as he's just driving.

The idea was to find someplace with a lot of debris lying around where we could set up some defenses and hold out until Michelle and Fuse arrived. Preferably a building under construction but that has solid walls (or if we're still in middle-tiers one of those abandoned buildings).
We'd need one person to go alone so that Swordarms would be enticed enough to try his luck to kill us instead of just stalking us from a distance forever. I was selecting Jane to go because she'd be the "juiciest" target being both the prize and the least threatening one (aside from Zene and Crease who are incidental).
Wote 9th Jan 2018, 9:50 AM edit delete reply
I like the idea of splitting up, not necessarily to set a trap, but because if our group separates, that gives us some idea of *who* is being tracked. I'm not sure I like the idea of splitting up Zene and Crease, but if Finch is the one driving Car 2, I don't know if the three of them together's a good idea if swordhands is chasing one of those two.

Either way, we need to get Finch to come collect two of us while we have space and then make for opposite ends of whatever tier, just to buy us some thinking room and work out who this thing's after.
undeadDreamer 9th Jan 2018, 3:58 AM edit delete reply
If the sword guy is getting worn out you could try to shoot him with bullets or blood.
Golden_Eagle 9th Jan 2018, 5:16 AM edit delete reply
I wonder if Fuse would be able to obliterate it with his new, fancy cyborg leg.
RemnantSoul 9th Jan 2018, 6:52 AM edit delete reply
Ooh, pick me. I can answer Michelle’s question; something we do not want to mess with.
Macheman7 9th Jan 2018, 1:28 PM edit delete reply
It might be swordhands tracking us.
Assuming he's even vaguely human (and thus Queened), he could be 'mind talking' with his truck pal, like we blood talk to ours. Who's to say what's in the truck is the psychic, as far as that goes? There could be a separate mutant psychic nearby pulling this crap.
Regardless, we can't go home again until everything is dead. Also we should probably take the corpses.
Mentally contact Dr. Finch- He's a Genius, he might have some ideas.
Consider the possibility of using a raven to attack swordhands with 'divebomb and run' tactics.
Try to get another raven back to the burger place if possible, to investigate the truck.
Do we have any tinfoil? At this point, I think we should be making 10-20 tinfoil hats to be part of the regular gear, the next time we have time because good lord there are too many psychics messing with our heads.

Keep an eye out for any small animals, including birds, who might be following us when swordhands is out of sight.

Once Dr. Finch is done telling us any ideas he has, ask him to contact Lydia and Jury with the new information, if he isn't busy.

Tell Crease it's gonna be cool, just chill out, unless he has any superpowers. If he has superpowers, now would be the time to share them.
pkrankow 9th Jan 2018, 2:31 PM edit delete reply
Base jumping into the abyss from the upper levels would be cool. But I digress.

We may have gone too far, but a visibly dangerous mutant on higher levels should have attracted notice already. Is there any response visible from the ravens?

We need to find somewhere to confront this mutant.

Why dont we have something like tazers in our arsenal?
Madd 9th Jan 2018, 2:36 PM edit delete reply
Keep going but, be careful to look out for trapped bridges.
lil Joshu 9th Jan 2018, 7:21 PM edit delete reply
lil Joshu
I'm giving 10:1 odds that Mr. Edwards Swordhands is blooded by Thale and currently being directly controlled by him. No way he'd be running otherwise where he'd get his arse hunted down and playing it so super-risky. Good chance if we blood 'em, he's just a lower tier mutant who's a really good sushi chef or barber, and would really appreciate a hug after the day he's had.

He's got squishy bits, I say we try to blood 'em.

As for what's in the truck, we need to get psychic defenses asap.