World 47: Pacific Rim

THE PREFECT STORM

Previously: Killing Me Softly

Themesong: Deliver Us from The Prince of Egypt

I think the Banker may have decided I had too easy a time in my last jump. It’s just possible. Of course, jump order could be all but random and I’d never know, but going with the assumption that the Banker had some control over order seemed harmless enough. And in this case, seemed indicated. “Pacific Rim… giant, freaking, monsters.”

AJ looked to me. “Like Groudon or Tyrannitar?”

I laughed and patted his head. “No sweety. Like Godzilla’s bigger, angrier, blue-blooded toxic brother.”

“Godzilla… he’s the Tarrasque but in Sci-Fi, right?”

“You’ve been reading D&D manuals again. That stuff will rot your brain.”

“Hey, just because you have to invent or rewrite or ‘be creative’ with your enemies doesn’t mean I have to be!”

“Awww… AJ… you actually stepping up to run a game?”

My brave little soldier blanched at the idea. “That wouldn’t be super effective.”

I sighed and gave him a hug. “Yes, I know you don’t have STAB with GMing, but it’s the effort that counts.” He shook his head. Man, I needed a way to instill public speaking confidence in people without actually brainwashing them or editing their personalities. Friends do not edit each other’s personalities. It’s totally a party foul. Instead, you just tease them and encourage them to grow as individuals. Of course, if they’re having serious neurological issues… then you offer to help. One of Joy’s incarnations had had a serious case of bipolar disorder that had had to be fixed, but that was neurochemistry run amok and even then, one asks.

Reggy and Kohina’s father… they weren’t friends, at least not when I’d picked Reggy up. She was growing on me. But speaking of people who weren’t friends… I think I’d finally found a world they could be useful in. I’d drop them off first thing.

Still, first I had to figure out how I was going into this world, and that meant accessing the VMoD. The presentation was, in a word, flashy. Lots of blacks and reds, very aggressive. Good, powerful score too. “All the troubles began on K-Day, August 10th, 2013… The Jump Begins January 1st, 2016”  Three years into the mess, too late to stop things… and honestly… I wasn’t exactly sure how well I’d be able to fight a Kaiju. I’d fought a Zodiac Gastrea… a couple of them actually, but they didn’t have toxic blood and both times they’d been cored by Railguns. Still, if they could be killed by being punched in the face by giant robots, I had a giant robot to do the punching. This wasn’t my first Rodeo.

I spun the Wheel of Localization… heh… that would be funny. Not where you start, but what language your dub is in? Heh. Anchorage, the Alaskan city that would be home to a Shatterdome by November, guardian of the Pacific Northeast, currently host to the prototype Jaeger “Brawler Yukon” and someday home to the Mark III Jaeger “Gipsy Danger”. Just like the movie. I saw no reason to change it. Not like every other city wasn’t just around the Pacific Rim… funny that… might make a good name for a movie.

The Origins were… holy shit… Experimental Human/Kaiju Hybrid? I vaguely remember there being other options, but who the fuck would take them? Okay, I lied, I have a perfect memory… but seriously, aside from the ever present Drop-In (boring), there was a Jaeger Technician, a Kaiju Science Expert, and a Ranger… i.e. a Jaeger pilot… oh, right, Jaegers. German for Hunter. If Kaiju are the giant monsters… Jaegers are the giant (and I do mean giant) robots designed to hunt and kill them to keep them from destroying Earth’s cities.  

The typical Giant Robot in fiction is about 12-18 meters tall. 35 to 60 feet. Some (Patlabors) were a little smaller, some (Gunbuster) were a lot bigger. Jaegers weren’t quite in Gunbuster’s range… but then again… what is? While Gunbuster was 240 meters tall… most Jaegers were only 240 feet or so. Still, that’s a 20 story building walking about. Nothing to sneer at. The shtick with Jaegers was they, like Knight of Gold and Iczer Robo, need two people to operate it, though unlike Five Star Stories (The Hetero version) or Iczer-One (The very not Hetero version) one of them was not “the Emotional Core” or whatever. No, if anything, Jaeger pilots had to be even closer than empathically linked lovers… they had to be capable of Drifting… that is, they had to be able to exist in total Sync with each other, more so even than that lame episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion where Shinji (the Angst to end all Angsts) and Asuka (the Brat ne plus ultra) had to learn to dance together… Drifting meant sharing each other’s memories, thoughts, everything. Being in the same moment, operating in total oneness with each other. Yeah… no. Even with Zane I’d be leery of going that deep. I had enough crazies in my head as it was. Also, there was a good chance that contact with the inner workings of my psyche could permanently damage someone’s mind.

Still, I was going to be be a giant freaking monster! Wooo! Who knew the next time it would be offered… but even then… hell, I couldn’t pass it up. Yeah, I already had a monster form… but The Silent Judge was more “Eldritch Abomination” than Kaiju, and wasn’t much bigger than man-sized. I had to revel in the insanity. So I took Experimental Human/Kaiju Hybrid [600/400/1000]. It came with a bit of history “A few months ago you were a Kaiju research scientist for the PPDC, but now you’re a monster. Apparently, one of the other researchers somehow figured out how to transform humans into Kaiju. He chose you as his first test subject, and now you have the strange ability to switch between human and Kaiju form at will.”, some rules “This new body has a number of special qualities: 1) Regardless of how humanoid or monstrous you decide it looks, it has rough gray skin, blue bioluminescent markings (and innards), a tail, and is of Category III (200-300 ft tall.) in size. 2) Even in human form, your blood is now Kaiju Blue. If something cuts you, this will be a dead giveaway as to what you are. After ten years, you’ll be able to alter the toxicity of your blood at will. 3) This will not save you from Kaiju attacks.” and a warning “The hive mind constantly tugs at your will, and if the Precursors (the aliens responsible for creating the Kaiju) can’t convince you to join them, they’ll send your brethren to drag you back to the Anteverse.” Well, that was nice.

Origin settled, it was into the Perky Woods. As I’d imagined, I got the almost obligatory score perk for free. Apparently the Banker thought Background Music was awesome, considering the number of jumps that tossed in something like this. I usually turned most of them off. I had “Here’s To You” from the Metal Gear Solid Jump; it could play any song I’d ever heard on either my mental speakers or any sound system I touched. Everything else was just… lesser. Still, “Djawadi’s Favor [Free]: There will always be a well-composed rock/electronic soundtrack for your fights, unless you choose to substitute a specific song during a given battle” might come up with something I’ve never heard before.

Since Hybrids started out as researchers, it made a certain sense that they got “Kaiju Behavioral Studies for free.  An innate knowledge of how Kaiju act and adapt to situations, the ability to form plans and strategies to combat them that would extend to cover all non-sentient aliens and monsters. I sighed. “Oy! Banker!”

“What?”

“Non-Sentient?”

“Yes?”

“So, incapable of experiencing sensations?”

“What?”

“Sentient doesn’t mean ‘Human Level Intelligence’.  It means ‘Sensate’… as in can experience the world around it.  You mean Sapient or Sophont, right?”

“I mean Sentient in the way it’s usually used, not in the strict dictionary definition, you pedantic little goon.”

“Oh, Good.  So, essentially, as long as it’s Animal level or lower, I’m good. Because dogs, horses, and dolphins are all pretty much animal level and they’re pretty smart.”

“Whatever. Stop bugging me.”

“Buzzzzz.”

“How can you be such a brat at your age?”

“Perfect Recall of all my lives, buddy boy.”

“I’m going back to watching one of the others now. Go away.”

“Ha!  I knew there were others. How many?”

“Never you mind. Jumpers don’t mix until after…”

“Until after what?”

There was a very, very long pause. “After the Endgame.”

I paused this time. “End… game?”

“Yes. There is one… you’ll learn about them… in time… if you stay the course.”

“As in… Don’t get sent home or decide to stay somewhere?”

“Yes.”

“Well, don’t worry about that. I’m utterly unlikely to stay anywhere… not when I can go… everywhere.”

Also free was the Kaiju Medkit, a small black and blue box containing 5 rolls of medical gauze that could absorb Kaiju blood with an instruction pamphlet in the box showing how to make more of the gauze. What… the… actual fuck… was this for? Bandaging a 300 foot tall monster’s ouchies? A small box? Small, for a Kaiju? So… several city busses side-by-side? Or was it small for binding the wounds when I shifted back to human-sized? That seemed reasonable… but it was like giving a sponge to a fish. Utterly useless. I healed in real time. Even at the speed I could bandage a wound, it would be healed practically before I finished.

But it was free and who am I to argue with free. There were however, things that weren’t free and at the top of that list was “An Extra Pair of Hands [500/-100/1000]” which would spend me over my un-drawbacked limit. Still, had to have it. “Time to call in some backup.” it advertized. It was the standard 8 companions, but that’s where the standardization took a veer into crazy town. As usual, each got the identity and history and free boons associated with their background… but it was dependant on whatever I’d bought. If I was a Ranger, they’d be Rangers and get crappy baseline Jaegers. But I wasn’t. I’d gone Hybrid… and that meant they would too. And that meant Kaiju Forms. Nine Kaiju. I thought about that, then entered in all the Monsters I had on my team. My six Mon, Zane, and Reggy. It was time for All the Monsters Destroy You.

Of course, I was over. Time to make myself pay. The CP limit was 600 and a maximum of 2 Drawbacks. If I wanted the full load (and I did) there were only two ways to get it. “Jumper Alpha Vs. The World” would place me into a solo battle against the Precursors and their beasts, with Australia gone, the PPDC gone, Stacker gone, and both Japan and China overrun. Category Fives pouring through the break daily, one city left, and a Category Ten Kaiju to deal with. I could just say fuck it and hie for the hills, but that wasn’t my way and someone had to show those genocidal fuckers what’s what and who’s who. The other way was, marginally, better.  

“Heavy-Hansen’d” made me a walking talking obnoxious stereotype, a total jerk of the kind most people just wanted to punch in the face.  But then again, I’d deserve it because I’d be treating them with disdain… Ah well, the price of power I guess.  That was half the pool. The other half was “Top of the Wall” which would mean I’d have to spend 5 years building the Anti-Kaiju Wall in Anchorage, haunted by the knowledge it will fail. And five years in, in the last week on the wall, a Kaiju would attack my location. I’d have nothing from this world to fall back on and would have to face it on my own. So half the jump I’d be locked out of the new stuff… but keep my old. That was interesting. I was reasonably sure I could fight a Kaiju on my own. But I’d have plenty of practice long before Year 5. I did the math, then realized that that would have to shift my date of entry from 2016 to 2020. The wall didn’t begin construction until after Gypsy Danger got chomped and didn’t fail until 2025, a week before the Triple Event. I’d enter the world January of 2020, 5 years and 1 week before the Double Event.

That brought me back to 500 over and it was time to customize my shiny new Kaiju Form. It started with all the usual size, strength, toughness, and pressure resistance of a normal Category Three Kaiju and scaled all my physical capabilities up to my new size. And came with three basics and my choice of three of the mid-grade powers… er… adaptations… free. The Freebies were Might (the ability to hit harder than most Kaiju), Speed (the ability to move faster than a normal Cat III), and Toughness (toughness above that of most Cat IIIs, the ability to shrug off the punches of most Jaegers). I added Invisibility (the ability to change colors to blend in with my surroundings), Wings (big enough to get me to Low Earth Orbit), and Sonic Wave (the ability to unleash a powerful sonic attack, capable of damaging a Jaeger and disorienting its crew). And, because I felt like being even more of a giant tank (and because Victoria would not fit at that size), I picked up “Iron Skin” for 200. It covered everything but my eyes in a metal-like layer of flesh that was so durable that nuclear weapons would merely piss me off.

Most of the other adaptations were too destructive on a large area for my tastes, and most of them weren’t just indiscriminate but actually toxically polluting. Atomic Breath like Big G might sound nice, but it was weaponized pure radiation. Who knows what kind of Cancers and Fallout it left behind. I could have traded in the Invisibility or Wings for a Carapace (even more heavy armor) but I thought that was a little much. Living Breach would have made me a spawn-point for Cat Zeros, but was too expensive. And if I wanted to spawn more Kaiju, there was an affordable way to do it.

In the Item’s section was “Strange Notes” for all my remaining points. It was a highly technical and somewhat lunatic set of research notes written in 5 different kinds of code. It promised to take decades to crack (or I could just give it to VIvian and have her dedicate processor time to it), but practically promised to be an instruction manual on how to either create more Kaiju or allow a person to take over one’s body. The first seemed more likely. And that was it for me.

As for the minions, Ahab & Joy went Ranger as a pair. Zane wanted to do that too, with me as his pair and was arguing for a change of plans. Each Ranger got a Flare Gun (With unlimited Flares), Djawadi’s Favor (the background music thing) and Drift Compatibility which was essentially useless outside this setting… And each got a Jaeger. I thought it was a bit of a waste, since each Jaeger only came with a barebones Mk. 2 Jaeger hull and a Foghorn for free. That’s it. Then Zane pointed out that each of the Jaegers (sure, we only had 1 drift team, but each Ranger got their own Jaeger) came with a Shatterdome Button… which, when pressed, would have Carryalls deliver the Jaeger in roughly 3 minutes. I pointed out that that was pointless, since we had the Warehouse for instant delivery, but Zane pointed out that we could upgrade each of the ~250 foot high mechs as we saw fit.

“Sure… where?”

“What?”

“We don’t have room in the Warehouse for one of those things. We’d have to put it in the Ship Bay… and that means getting them from the ground to Lunar Orbit, since we can’t summon them like we can the Zords… but we’ll see what we can do.” I patted his head. Even Mega Dragonzord Genesys was only 220 meters tall, and it had the advantage of breaking into 6 smaller parts. Still, not sure why we’d need a Jaeger force with the MDG (which would now be known as Kaiser Mystery) and it’s progressively upgraded systems, now having been upgraded to Uru-Metal armor and Asgardian Destroyer Cannons, with 3rd generation Bastion Cores and so many enchantments I was beginning to lose track. But then again, Kaiser Mystery could only be in one place, fighting one Kaiju at a time.  

Thankfully, that managed to convince Zane that, as cool as the two of us piloting a giant mecha might be, he could just use Kaiser Mystery while I was out punching all the things… or he could go punch all the things and I’d kick my feet up and relax. Either way, it was better for Zane to evolve into Lukaiju-o… like the rest of the Mon brigade and Reggy. This was a monster jump, we were going to send in the monsters.

In addition to being blessed with Might, Speed, & Toughness, each of the monster squad had their own Megamonster forms based, essentially, on their mon form, only much, much less cute. Zane picked up Invisibility, a massive Chestblade, and Pneumatic Spine Shooters mounted on his arms. Francy got Acid Spraying Spit, Acidic Whiskers, and a trio of Spiked Tails. RayRay got the Sonic Wave Attack, a heavily armored Carapace capable of shrugging off all conventional weapons and of holding up against a Jaeger for hours, and a pair of massive blades flanking her head. Dyna got a second set of smaller arms for more delicate smashing and grappling, a trio of bladed tentacles, and the ability to spray a slurry of highly flammable petroleum derivatives. Ooo yummy. AJ got Bladed Arms and the armored Carapace. Petra got Crushing Pincers (grrr squish), plus the Carapace… and then tacked on Ablative Bio-Armor atop that. Reggy got the ability to spray aerosolized Kaiju Blue in a Poisonous Gas Cloud, Wings, and the Carapace. And last, Ziggy got the Carapace, the Pneumatic Spines, and a perk called, “Wait, I Died?” (Your cognitive skills suffer a bit of decay in your Kaiju form, but it takes the obliteration of your limbs and/or the utter annihilation of your brain to stop you from fighting at full strength. You are literally too dumb to go down when you should.) Sounds perfect for the silly little goofball. Ziggy used Grow… it’s really, really super duper effective!

We named Ahab’s Jaeger “Whaler Vengeance” and Joy’s “Foxtrot Tango”. Since Zane got a Kaiju Name, the others felt they deserved them too (even Reggy, though I think she felt conflicted about it.). Ziggy was War Weasel (not that he wasn’t already), Francy was Avada Kaidabra. RayRay got dubbed “Zizz” after the hebraic sky beast (Leviathan is Water, Behemoth is Land), AJ got “DaiGallade”, Petra “Bugout”, Reggy “Waxer”, and Dyna “Domani” (which means tomorrow, not anything cool.)

INSERTION

It was strange coming into a jump without anything new besides personality. Also, apparently Guillermo del Toro has a thing about internationalism or something, because all of us are some fairly minority races. I’m Inuit, Zane’s Filipino, Ahab’s a Maori Kiwi, AJ’s half Chinese half Salish from Vancouver, Reggy’s a Bushman, Francy is an Australian Aboriginal, Joy’s Srilankan, Petra’s a Kazak, RayRay’s Mayan, Dyna’s Suomi, and Ziggy… is an arctic wolverine. We’d have to wait until W-Day five years off, the day the Wall of Life failed in Australia in the Movie, seven days before the breach was sealed, to transform and end this nightmare.

And wait we would have to, unless I had a brilliant idea to close the breach before hand. The movie had made it crystal clear that until the Precursors started sending double events (2 Kaiju at a time) the breach wouldn’t be stable enough to nuke it shut. So it was a holding game. But that didn’t mean I had to play by the rules. In fact, not playing by them was kinda my thing.

So, first things first. I dropped the Kihara’s off at the nearest Shatterdome and told the people inside that these two were psychopathic lunatics but brilliant scientists and that, if they were kept on very tight leashes (not a problem, since they were also wearing Aleran Slave Collars) they could probably help the war effort. I got some strange looks at that, and asked who I was, but I just told the people in charge I’d explain later (in about 5 years) and, since I was telling the truth, they believed me. Nice how that works out. Maybe they’d be useful.

Meanwhile, I said fuck it to manual labor and started redesigning the wall. It was early enough for that and when I make defenses to keep someone out, they tend to work. Nano-reinforced, self-erecting, protonic shielded walls, 30-stories high, capable of generating photonic cannons… i.e. ones where the barrel is actually made of solid light, anywhere along its surface.

I also took the time to work on some things I’d been tossing around inside my head for the past century or so. The first was what I called “The Mental Arsenal”. By using pre-constructed Enchantments that I stored inside my Memory Palace, and the ability to craft almost any shape out of Hyperfractal Ice, I was reasonably certain I could craft magical arms, armor, and devices essentially out of thin air. My first attempt was a railgun. It blew up in (and blew off) my hand. But as disastrous as that sounds, it was a proof of concept. I worked at it night and day for several months before I could get even a pistol to work, but once I’d mastered moving parts with close enough tolerances, I moved on to enchantments, basic things at first, but growing progressively more sophisticated as I gained finesse and confidence. The beauty of laying elven runes into a frag grenade, all of it made from ice harder than diamond was a thing to behold. This one was set to glow (and then detonate) in the presence of seagulls. It made a very satisfactory boom.

The second was even more insane… I called it Project Nascent… Nanite-Swarm Summoning, Casting, & Enchanting. By shaping slaved nanite swarms to my cybernetic systems, I could craft spells, summoning circles, and enchantments in mere moments. The power fluctuation meant that the nanites used in the system (at least in the first five generations), fuzed solid, but that was merely a matter of finding the right conduit material.

In the meantime, I also did some experimentation with more metals. Psychonauts had provided me with Psitanium. I’d already figured that it could Feruchemically store psychic energy, and I was right. What I’d figured about the results of burning it, that it would augment psychic powers wasn’t… quite… correct. It didn’t augment them… it allowed me to instill them in others. They had to be sentient, and the younger the better, but I could do it. It took… a lot of psychic power. The process made me dizzy for almost an hour and that was just giving some little boy the ability to read the minds of small animals. And I didn’t even do it on purpose. He was nearby and that was the power his mind… picked from a list… I guess. I definitely need to do more research, but the ethics of it bother me. Maybe in a different reality… or on one of my companions.

The next batch was a trio of stuff I’d been screwing around with from the Elder Scrolls Jump. I didn’t have a lot of any of it, since I’d not exactly been planning any of my activities, but I did have a few mugs made from Dwemer Metal and Zane had picked up a few Ebony and Malachite blades. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. Ebony and Malachite aren’t metals… but they are in The Elder Scrolls. Ebony should be a wood, but in TES, it’s a black glass-like substance said to be the crystallized blood of the gods and refined from Ebony Ore in a smelter. Malachite is another glass-like substance refined from Malachite Ore in a smelter. Yes, it was possible they weren’t “Metal” enough, but no glass was that strong and no glass was worked with a smithing hammer. But Dwemer Metal… that was metal through and through. I didn’t have any TES Moonstone to experiment with, nor any Quicksilver or Stalhrim (Which was a shame, since Stalhrim is a form of magical room-temperature stable Ice apparently).

Still, I wanted to give them all a try. The worst that could happen is I poisoned myself and spent a few days in my own med bay… I’d already learned the hard way that while Cobalt, Nickel, Titanium, Iridium, Osmium, Gadolinium, Silver, Platinum, Tungsten, and Lead all had Allomantic properties, figuring out the alloy mixtures wasn’t easy (and none of them were useful.) Nickel made my hair grow. Lead was a laxative. Titanium made my skin depigment. Gadolinium made me burp. Tungsten made me extremely ticklish. Cobalt gave me energy like caffeine… at the cost of making me go blind while burning it. Iridium was an acid trip on an acid trip. Osmium a cure for insomnia. Silver gave me the ability to taste what color things were. and Platinum, good old platinum… made my muscles go completely limp. Useful… not.) And that was just Allomancy. I hadn’t figured out what I could store in them yet, aside from Mercury (yes, yes, I’m crazy. I also have state of the art medical facilities.) Mercury made me pee. A lot. Like… enough to dehydrate myself pretty quickly. Which made me think… and yes, as it turns out, it stores up the need to… use the bathroom. Wonderful. As long as I was storing, I didn’t have to go. Tapping it was… not a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, I had to freeze the Mercury to make it wearable, which created a massive cold field around that area, so it wasn’t practical.

First up was Dwemer Metal. It turned my body into a charged energy cloud. Poof. I could feel myself pulling apart and I had to very quickly stop using it. Still, I was all in one piece once I’d finished. Apparently it can be used to store Static Cling… for some reason.

Ebony was burnable too. Made me extremely angry, turned my skin black with red veins, and made me yell deeply disturbing threats at anyone nearby (Yes, apparently, that’s how one becomes a Dremora Lord).  It can be used to store sadism and hatred. How… delightful.

Malachite… Gave me heartburn like you wouldn’t believe… it also did something… but I have no idea what. It was something optical, but whatever it would allow me to see… wasn’t around, apparently. At least as far as I could tell. As for what it stored… I have no idea. It was storing something and I could tap it, but what I couldn’t figure out. Much like most of the other metals.

Anyway, back to the monster punching. Kaiser Mystery was making headlines. I’d set up my own early warning and tracking radar… including seeding the Breach area with 20th generation armor piercing tracker mites. They couldn’t hope to damage the beasts, but they made damned sure I knew where the hell those things were (and their exact size and shape), long before they could make landfall. The movie makes it seem like it’s instant, but unless the breach is off the shore of Hong Kong (which it wouldn’t be if the first landfall was San Francisco), it would have taken hours to get to Hong Kong. And, in fact, I’ve yet to figure out how Hawaii got avoided so well… then again, ocean topography is all screwy in this world. When dealing with ocean depths, 100 feet isn’t that deep.

As it is, the breach is (though the movie does a very very bad job of showing this) at the bottom of the Challenger Deep of the Marianas Trench. It is very close to Guam and about 3,400 kilometers from Hong Kong. Don’t get me wrong, Kaiju are fast in the water… but they aren’t supersonic. It takes one about 8 hours to swim from Guam to Hong Kong… much, much more to get to Anchorage (7,400km) and even longer to get to San Francisco (10,000km). That was enough time for me to drop whatever I was doing and show up in Kaiser Mystery.

And the governments of the world were going batshit. Publicly, they were all very very grateful for the help… but off the record, they were pissed as hell someone was demonstrating more flexibility than their handpicked robojockies, showing them up, and making them look bad. I’d fought Emerald Weapon barehanded, Fighting Category 1 and 2 Kaiju in a 240 foot tall mecha wasn’t hard. Often I left it to Zane… we showed up, kicked butt, and never gave any interviews. And we flooded the market with Kaiser Mystery toys.

The market wasn’t the only thing I flooded with something, though. Kaiju Blue is fucking evil as shit. Someone had to clean it up. So I created a system of bots that would do exactly that. Soak it up, reprocess it into something useful. Biofuel to be exact. Biofuel and glow sticks.

I sold it all, the bits I didn’t need, to Hannibal Chau… though I was getting sick of working on this idiot wall. I had to, you see. At least 6 hours a day I had to spend futzing with a pointless megastructure that was never going to be any good. Sure, the Alaska-California wall was completed way ahead of schedule thanks to my innovations, but I kept obsessing. It was a 200 feet wide strip of unusable ground located anywhere from 80 to 120 feet offshore (yeah, I built my wall under the sea, because building it on land was idiotic, pure publicity, and it could expand upwards to a height of 400 feet, rising out of the water in sections as needed. As I said, the land stuff, that was all to make people feel secure. It was useless and an eyesore and would have to be scrapped in a decade’s time anyway. I wasn’t worried about this wave. I was worried about the second wave… Pacific Rim 2. I wouldn’t be there and, though I had no doubt that Humanity would once again triumph in the face of adversity, I also had no doubt as to the appalling escalation of casualties.

Anyway, I liked Hannibal. He was my kind of asshole. He was the only one who knew that Sapper Mason, the obnoxious, supercilious, and hugely egotistical jagoff who’d commandeered the entire Wall of Life Program through a combination of brilliance, insults, and apparent voodoo, was also Kawasaki Glass, one of the two pilots of Kaiser Mystery. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t explain how I was able to be quite so mobile. Of course, no one knew I was also sliding in and out of the Breach at will by now.

All it took was a suit made of Kaiju flesh (suitably cured) and no one noticed, on either side, a human-sized blip sliding through the breach. The Precursors certainly didn’t, sanctimonious little bastards. I was careful not to do more than read the surface of the psychic morass that made up their Hive Mind, but that was enough to learn all I needed of how they built their Kaiju, layer upon layer of bio-tech grafts and cloned tissues. They had a whole world to explore, but it was used up, destroyed, all to serve the ever growing Precursor Hive. For super advanced aliens, they were spectacularly unadaptive. They trashed homeworld after homeworld, ignoring the rich bounty of resources off planet because they couldn’t be arsed to space travel. Morons.

It was practically a relief when the wall did fail. Not my tech, no… my tech was good. No… it failed because the freaking government had stolen some of the parts to analyze and in doing so sabotaged an 800 meter long stretch of coastline that, somehow, the idiot Kaiju crashed through. Somehow, this Category 3 (Codename Skullcracker) had managed to slip past all my sentries to get at the wall. This was the Banker’s doing, no doubt. But it was all the same. Black Jenny dropped from the sky like the Word of God (We’d kept her in High Earth Orbit as a back up) and punched Sister Ray clean through Skullcracker’s spinal column. Say goodnight, Gracie.

I was about to head for the breach to do some housekeeping myself, when something very much like a tranq needle hit me in the arm and I went down faster than you can say “The Banker is a Cheating Prick”. I woke up in the middle of the ocean, floating there, naked. Of course, I was in Kaiju form and the thing that had woken me up was a small group of fighter planes hitting me with 500lbs bombs.

My Kaiju form was… much taller than I’d been promised… well… not so much taller… as longer. So much longer. I was a giant freaking serpent… or rather a Sea Serpent, four massive finned appendages (two of which could unfurl into wings), a tail twice as long as my main body, and sprouting from the top of my head was Soul of Ice… a massive horn of ice. I must have been 1350 feet long from tip of horn to tip of tail. I roared with annoyance, then chuckled and rose out of the sea entirely, just hanging in midair, not using my wings.

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“People of Earth, your attention Please.” I thundered in flawless English. “Stop shooting at me or I’ll get very angry.”  They didn’t. Ah well. They probably couldn’t hear me. I flexed, then dove into the water. Weee… this was fun!  I swam around for awhile, then teleported myself to Hong Kong. Right next to the Shatterdome.

“Hellooooo Stacker! Yoooo…hoooo!” I waved a flipper at the base as the humans scurried around like bugs. “Ahem. I have come for your tea. Bring me the finest dim sum and fried rice in the land.” Some guards were shooting at me as the people inside tried to figure out what the hell was going on as they scrambled to scramble a Jaeger.

“Take your time. Don’t hurt yourself. I’m not here to fight.” That made several of them realize I was speaking to them. One of them, it was kind of hard to focus down that small, and I couldn’t really hear, tried asking me something. “Sorry. I can’t hear you. Ear drums too big. Probably takes something like 60 decibels to even register. Try using the loudspeakers.”

“What the hell are you?”

“Ah. Good question. I am, it would seem, a Renegade Kaiju. Well, not really. But explaining would only confuse you. Let’s just say that I’m not here to smashysmashy. I am here to close the Breach, however. I’m just waiting until Leatherback and Otachi to show up. Or whatever you’ll end up calling them. A double event. Should be soonish. I think I’ve completely fucked up the timeline on this side of the portal, but the Precursors are probably running about true to form. If they could have sent Category Vs before now, they would have.”

“What are you talking about? And how come you speak english?”

“I speak swahili, french, esperanto, yupik, turkish, hebrew, russian, czech, estonian, swedish, norwegian, spanish, latin, klingon, vulcan, etruscan, greek, cantonese, mandarin, tibetan, hawai’ian, navajo, tagalog, telugu, tamil, urdu, italian, finnish, asari, krogan, and japanese… plus a few dozen others you’ve never heard of. I even speak LEET. As for what I’m talking about… hmmm… how do I… oooh…. This is sooo not comfortable.” I shimmered, squished, and flexed, body rippling as I transformed, slowly by my standards, back into a human form, using my shapeshifting to make sure it didn’t look anything like Mason or Kawasaki.

“Hello. I am Sunny James. I seem to have been transformed into a Kaiju. I am not sure how, but it seems to be so. Anyway… tell your security to stop aiming weapons at me or I’ll turn back into big scaly and eat them. First, no, I’m reasonably certain that the Precursors lack the ability to do what just happened. If they could send smaller agents they would have long ago. They’re not actually that socially savvy. Hive Mind and all that. Smashysmashy is their modus vivendi.”

“How do we know you’re not one of them?”

“Well, first… I am not one of them.” I smirked as their spokesman nodded slowly. “Second, you can put the mic down, I can hear just fine now. Third… I could use some clothing. And fourth, if you bring me a syringe I’ll show you how you know.”

I was a 6’6″ incredibly buff and very naked black woman. Just because. It had been my form from back in Infamous and it had served me well enough. They brought me a trenchcoat and a syringe, but kept me surrounded by armed guards at 100 paces. The scientist looked familiar and nervous. “Oh, Hiya doc. Just an FYI, if you Drift with a Kaiju Brain… the hive mind will know you the same way you know them. Two way street.”

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I took the syringe and drew some of my own blood. “Blue. Just like a Kaiju. And yes, I can hear the Hive Mind at the edge of my awareness. They’re not happy I’m ignoring them, but they can go bite me. Anyway. Double Event. Then a few hours later, Triple. And the first Category V. But that’s your window. Or rather… mine. I could let you boys and girls handle this, but Kawasaki Glass and Ragnarok Redemption (yes, that was the name Zane picked for himself) have spent too much time over the last 5 years making sure that no cities got munched what didn’t have to get munched. So I figure I’ll leave the holding the line to you kids while I go and blow up the breach. Sounds good?”

Stacker Pentecost, the Marshall of the whole damned Jaeger project showed up then. “You’ve got quite the Ego, don’t you? Ordering us around.”

I smiled at him. “Not only that, but I’ve got something for you.  It should be arriving… ah, here it comes.” Kohina trotted up, wearing a Jaeger Drift Suit (Apparently, Ahab and Gaius were drift compatible and Joy and Kohina… strange… I would have guessed they’d pick each other.) She smiled at Stacker “Whaler Vengeance and Foxtrot Tango reporting.”

Stacker blinked “What is this? And who are you?”

I smiled “Courtesy of Kawasaki Glass, two new Jaegers. Mark 8s.”

“There’s no such thing as a Mark 8!”

“There is now.” I hadn’t had access to them, but I’d built them anyway. Five years and a lot of infrastructure, and Mason had had a lot of infrastructure. I’d build Whale Vengeance and Foxtrot Tango as I’d wanted them to be, upgrading machines I hadn’t possessed by starting with a stolen copy of the Mark 2 Jaeger Plans and then… improving, building, refining. Then, apparently while I’d been unconscious, the Shatterdome buttons and name plates had arrived, with a note saying “Cheater.” My crew had diligently welded on the plates and suited up.

The two massive Jaegers, 280 feet tall, were a matched set, designed out of the best tech I could throw at them. One had a huge Harpoon Gun, the other a Jaeger sized Shotgun. They looked like a cross between a Chess Knights and a Space Marine and were covered in scintillating carbon nanotube plates.

Kohina handed him a box. On it was a note that I already knew said, “Meds. For the Big C. Feel better.”

He looked at me. “Not going to ask. But… if you’re going to close the Breach… don’t you need a Nuke?”

I grinned. “Oh, sugar. I have nukes the likes of which only God has ever seen.” I whistled and VIctor dropped from the clouds and landed next to me, already dropping the hatch.

“Five Gigatons.” I said, pointing to the protonic fission device. “Clean atomics. I want those Precursor bastards to know they’ve been kissed. And it’s laced with something called Psitanium. I figure it’ll short out their Hive Mind good and proper.”

As it was, Leatherback and Otachi came not because of Newton (The science nerd) drifting into one of their brains (he did that anyway, little git) but because of my presence. The Precursors wanted to test me. Have to wonder what they got out of a fight that short.

Words can’t really describe what went down after that. It was… chaos. All battles are, but battles at the bottom of the sea in three dimensions are especially chaos. Scuner, Raiju, and Slattern were waiting for us when we hit the Ocean floor. But it wasn’t two Jaegers against three Kaiju. It was 32 Jaegers against three Kaiju. My goal all along had been to keep Jaeger Numbers up, even if it made them individually less experienced.

Of course, the Precursors were waiting for me. They had to be. They knew I was coming for them. Except… I wasn’t. I was in Kaiser Mystery, close to the breach, but definitely not in Kaiju form. “You ready for this, Petra?”

All I got was a menacing growl. “Good girl.” Her armor scintillated with the nanite armor I’d covered it with and even in the mirk she gleamed. She lept into the Breach, a truly epic bomb strapped to her belly, her arms wrapped around it as she plunged into the Anteverse.

“Kawasaki to all Jaegers. Fire in the Hole. I repeat, Fire in the Hole.”

And then the Breach burped. “Zane. Did you get her?” I asked over the closed frequencies.

“Yeah. The Party Handling System worked as promised. She’s a little banged up, but we’ll get her into the med pod as soon as she shrinks back to normal.”

I sighed. “4 years 51 weeks to go. Who wants a Mai Tai?”

Next: World 48 – Sweet like Copper

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World 46: Princess Bride

KILLING ME SOFTLY

Previously: Diplomacy in Real Time

Themesong: Eternal Flame by The Bangles

And so it was, that after 10 years of playing nursemaid to a republic of very annoying people, I handed over power once again and stepped, gratefully, through the Pillars of Time. Why would anyone want to put up with this nonsense I asked myself, not for the third time. But then the myriad Magi God-Kings that made up the majority of my other selves pointed out that we had the advantage of having ruled nations for longer than most civilizations lasted. We had long since grown blase about the perks of power. Hopefully my next jump wouldn’t be political.

That hope lasted mere seconds, as I saw the words “Princess Bride” on the VMoD. I was about to scream “Again!!?” when a memory swam out of the darkness and I laughed. “Oh. Right. The Movie. Duh.” hadn’t watched that film in… huh… Not since Origin. It hadn’t been on my computer and, while I almost certainly had a copy somewhere in the media archives, I’d largely forgotten it. Which was a shame, because it used to be one of my favorite films… and one none of my companions had ever seen… even in all the time we’d spent in WestWing and Gargoyles. A few minutes talking with VIvian, getting her to clean up the visuals and edit the ROUS’s so they actually looked like rodents and not men in rat costumes, and we set about clearing up the problem, post haste.

The randomizers showed that I’d begin this trip in the Fire Swamp (Woo! Excellent, I could build a house there, since the threats weren’t so much threats as perks for me and mine… Fire Spurts were clearly natural gas pockets which could be tapped for fuel, lightning sands were ignorable since I had All Terrain Hiker and could walk on damned clouds if I wanted… and so could my companions… and the ROUS’s were probably tasty when cooked properly) and at 27 years of age. Oddly enough, the Companion Import Option was upfront and center, before even the origins… 50CP got me 2 of them… I plunked down for 6 [150/850/1000], then threw them out into the bullpen to let the savages fight over them. They’d only get an origin and a free perk.

The choices? Bard, Mercenary, Noble, and Man in Black (You are worldly and experienced with a broad skill base but a painful, trying past that got you those skills. You’re a walking, talking epic, well read, dabbled in piracy, with an air of mystery. Your history is one of survival despite the odds. You boast serviceable skills in anything adventuring; scale cliffs, navigate swamps, fence capably, etc. Jack of all trades, master of none. Epic love story optional.) were an interesting quartet, but I went with MIB, simply because the freebie made me laugh. “As You Wish: You have a catchphrase. So total is your ownership of this sentence that you may substitute it for any other sentence and convey the replaced phrase to your allies… i.e. ‘Well, that can’t be good.’ could mean ‘Lookout! Monkeys!’ or ‘Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!’” ‘Woooo’ was mine.

Of course, the next two were nice as well. “I’ll Most Likely Kill You in the Morning” [100/750/1000] meant that nobody could quite find it in them to kill me in cold blood. They’d continue to find excuses, reasoning that there is personal gain to keeping me alive that one extra day. This didn’t mean that they’d keep me comfortable, of course… an interrogator might take care to keep me alive but still torture me (which, thanks to 80’s Action Movies, would just make me tougher and more sarcastic). It wasn’t much, but a protection like that for a measly 100 CP I could get behind. And “Dread Pirate Roberts” [200/550/1000] gave me the uncanny ability to approach just about anyone, even a fearsome violent soul, and convince them to be my mentor (Darth Sidious maybe?). I’ll rapidly master any skills they can teach you, until they’ll retire and I can flawlessly take on their identity… Dunno when I’ll use it, but the thought of using it to replace some Big Bad was just too amusing… and potentially useful, considering some of the IPs out there.

Oddly enough, not only did the Man in Black… Woman in Black… capstone fail to appeal to my sensibilities, but none of the capstones seemed worth it to me… well, except “Death of the Author”, the Bard Capstone, which allows the recognition of plotpoints and defining moments… I was tempted, but I worried it would make things too boring. Also, too meta.

There were more perks I wanted… at least 600 CP worth… and I didn’t have that much… so Drawbacks it was…. Or rather “Complications”… and for the first time, they were upgraded if they matched my Origin. That meant, if I took all three MIB discounts I could get 900 CP. Castaway [+150/700/1150] I could cope with, as it just screwed up any trip I took that was longer than a day. So, space travel was right out… but I could circle the world in about an hour and cross Europe in minutes. Why Won’t My Arms Move? [+300/1000/1450] was a little more irritating (At midnight each day, one of my arms, legs, or neck would go limp and remain so for the next 24 hours, at which time it would repeat. For the entire jump.) but I could easily overcome the problem by using VIctoria… seeing as how she doubled as a powered exoskeleton… or by using TK. It would be annoying as hell puppeteering myself, but, challenge is good and this one would only inconvenience me.

The same could not be the same if I took the last one, which would set Florin and Guilder at war with each other, setting Westley as the long lost Prince of Guilder and see Buttercup married to Prince Humperdink in order to raise morale. Not only would people die because I took that, but I’d have to get Westley and Buttercup married and the two kingdoms united under them or the chain would end. 450CP wasn’t worth the lives of others, and certainly wasn’t worth risking a fail state.

The other 3 capstones were insane: Count Rugen empowered with every form of Swordsmanship I’ve ever encountered with a collection of the finest swords around, a Vissini complex (Inconthevable!), and a literal metafight between me and the author over the fate of True Love in the story. The 200s included a fixation on solving every problem with love or Mawwage or kissing, a case of the screaming alcoholisms… and a seriously nerfed sense of empathy. That… could be actually fun. Being a bitch to everyone for a decade. “You Mock My Pain” [+200/1200/1650] horribly muted my empathy for others, making it difficult to relate to them, and also killing their empathy for me, meaning they’d immediately label me a sociopath. Eh. Not optimal, but not terrible. It was based on Rugen, it wouldn’t mute my charisma, just make me a jerk.

As for the 100’s… one would make me broke, one would give me a decade long head cold… and the last would make people interrupt me to make puns or rhymes off of what I said. No wonder I’d have no Empathy. ‘Anybody Want A Peanut? [+100/1300/1750]” Hurray for Fezzik!

That brought me back to flush, so I could buy “Hello” [100/1200/1750] which made me fluent in every significant style of fencing to ever grace the small sword, a poet of steel and violence… which was just… delicious. A swordsmanship and style upgrade. I could also get a feat that was just… oh… my… god… it was rapturous. It was the greatest thing ever… it was the thing original me would probably have gleefully killed for. It was “Speed Reading” [200/1000/1750] and it meant that, on touch and at will, I’d gain the effects of having read a novel, document, webpage, movie, etc with deliberation and thought. Sure, it didn’t work if user input was required, but who cared?! It even said that, at will, I could mute the memories of a story to enjoy it without spoilers. Mute, not erase! Every reading of my favorite works would be new, varied, and unique.

Oooo… this was orgasmic. It was a one two punch of awesome. With my memory, this was instant memorization of any static media… and that it came with the ability to get new enjoyment of my favorite media. I’d have paid 1000CP for it… but I was glad I hadn’t had to.

Before I spent myself back into the danger zone, I checked the Gear list. Everyone got appropriate dress, a month’s worth of currency, and (if not a noble) a Tenfold Bag, which was, as it sounded, a bag with a capacity ten times what is suggested by its size and a weight a tenth of what it should be. As a Woman in Black, I also got my very own Mysterious Mask, which was a terribly comfortable mask that had an occluding effect; my own lover wouldn’t be able to recognize me with this on without further clues… to up the insanity, I made it a black silk eyepatch with a silver rose pattern inlaid upon it.

The other discounted items were amusing in the extreme. Iocane Powder [50/950/1750] was a small vial of odorless, tasteless poison that dissolves instantly in liquid… to which I had perfect immunity (even without my immunity to poisons in general)… it is fatal within a minute to all others and the container refills upon being stoppered. That could come in handy… but C.O.U.S. [100/850/1750] was a Collar of Unusual Size… that magically resized and could be used to allow either me or the wearer to resize said wearer at will, ignoring the squarecube law and other fiddly bits of physics and biochemistry. Worn by a mouse it could outsize a man, or make a man the size of a mouse… The Collar could make Ziggy into a huge riding Ferret! Which was just… Squee inducing! And the jump even provided the perfect saddle, as in perfect… Soreless Saddle [50/800/1750] even said “This is the perfect saddle.” While made for a horse, it could easily fit it on another riding beast, and it prevents any and all discomfort from the ride itself. Can’t do anything about the environment. Hahah! Behold the Ferret Cavalry! Granted, it was a Cavalry of one… but still! If you needed reinforcement beyond me, you were seriously boned.

Unfortunately for my Perk purchasing plans, there were two 200 CP items I had to have. The Adaptanator and Miracle Max’s Medicines. The Adaptanator was a richly decorated box with dimensions roughly twice that of a shoebox. By placing a piece of recorded media… a novel, a VHS movie, DVD box set, a videogame… etc. … into the box and announcing the form of media I want an adaptation of, the Adaptanator would scry the multiverse and produce the best version it could find. The fun just didn’t stop with that little toy. As for the MMMeds, it was a regenerating supply of chocolate bonbons that could bring a man back from mostly dead to totally alive. They were more or less physical hunks of life force, inducing regeneration and purification in the subject. It could even treat, and with time, cure degenerative conditions. But that cut me down to 400.

Which would have been fine… but I just had to have the “Informal Polling Data: [100/300/1750] a fillable form with a section for demographic, a question, and six answers. Upon filling it out, a percentage breakdown of how that demographic would answer the question would appear. It would then reset. Sure, it would be based on how they would answer, not necessarily truthfully, but it was still interesting data.”

With only 300 left, I couldn’t take one of the 400s, let alone a Capstone… but I could have a 1 and a 2… So that’s what I did. Storyteller [100] made me a storyteller without compare, giving me a lovely voice and the oratory flair and skill to inspire the imagination, keep my audience on the edge of their seat, or quickly and easily lull them to sleep. It even made editing on the fly trivial. For a veteran GM of… thousands of campaigns, hundreds of thousands of sessions… the idea of this perk was… I might have danced a bit.

The other one was “My Name is Inigo Montoya” [200] which meant I’d know precisely who I am and have the willpower to dedicate my entire life to a single purpose without even a hint of meaningful progress and the integrity to be unswayed by offers of wealth, social influence, or other mundane temptations. Extra Willpower is never a bad thing and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.

In addition to Ahab & Joy, Bao, Mini, AJ, RayRay, Yoiko, and Dyna all managed to ace out victories in the various games of chance and skill the group collectively decided on. Bao won the Historical diorama competition (Done in lego, 24 hour time limit). Mini won the “Why I should get to go” essay contest. AJ won the Darts Tournament. RayRay the minicar races. Yoiko the pickup-sticks contest. And Dyna… Dyna won the Mortal Kombat bracket after Reggy got angry and broke the controller in half. I was frankly astonished she cared enough to bother playing, but apparently the genderless alien warrior had gotten rather fond of romance novels while I wasn’t looking.

Ahab, AJ, and Dyna all went as Mercenaries, making us the four musketeers in all but name, as each of them picked up “Hello”, though they each got a Small Sword (AJ a Saber, Dyna a Foil, and Ahab an Epee… leaving me to wield Soul of Ice as a Rapier). Each Small Sword was a mastercraft version of its kind (oddly enough, since all the swords in the movie were rapiers) and were self repairing and self-maintaining. Which kinda explained why Dyna and AJ were so keen I guess. They also got Tenfold Bags. Which probably had nothing to do with it.

Joy and Bao both went the Noble Path (and what a joke that word is in this setting), snagging “Statesman: Born and raised in the courts of the kingdom, you’re a skilled and capable administrator, and could run a nation – or corporation – as easily in war as in peace.” They also got the Soreless Saddle and “Modest land holdings” but no bag.

Mini and RayRay (A teacher and a dragon) went Bard, netting them Storyteller, the Bag, and the “Library: An updating collection filled with the locale’s local literary classics, fables, and children’s fiction. Includes the original Princess Bride novel and screenplay, signed by author and crew.” Huh. I guess I knew what I’d be “Reading” First. And speaking of, I gave Mini my 18x Galeforce Glasses… now I just have to find something nice for Frankie to sleep on.

Yoiko joined me in the land of MIBs, getting “As You Wish”, The Tenfold Bag, and the Mysterious Mask. And then it was off to the races.

Or not.

Let’s be clear here. There was exactly one plotline in this world, one that very much would be resolved on its own without my intervention and with only two real casualties, those being Vissini and Rugen. It wasn’t that I was overpowered… I’d have been over powered for this setting after Pokeworld version 1. The “Hello” Perk pretty much made one the equal of the most dangerous fencers in the setting all by itself. Clearly the Banker knew that, because the second I hit confirm, a wheel came up on the screen saying “Double or Nothing”.

There were 13 pie wedges on the wheel: 1 of them was Nothing, and the others said Dungeon Crawl, 80’s Action, Fighting Game, Parenting, Zombie Apocalypse, Western, Medical, Lewd, Horror, Sugar Bowl, Hentai, & Magical Girl. Zombie Apocalypse and 80’s Action were grayed out… apparently because I’d already been to both. I guessed that meant there was a little less than one in four chance of getting Nothing. I wondered what Double meant, as I spun the wheel.

The wheel spun into a blur of color, the individual words shifting into unrecognizable symbols that flowed and shifted, even when I slowed time. It landed on one, but I had no idea what it said. The machine dinged and I felt something shift and squirm across my consciousness. It was as if a pollster was… polling my Selves without actually doing it. Oh… shit… The VMoD was using the Questionnaire on me to determine what I’d buy. That was dirty pool! “Subconscious Sampling Complete. Perk Allocation Complete. Enjoy your stay.” What version of Princess Bride was I going to and what had I just inflicted on myself?

===INSERTION===

Oh, for the love of…

At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what seemed out of place. It wasn’t a Western… there were no high plains, no guns, no cowboy boots. I had no kids, so it probably wasn’t Parenting. Everyone was fairly innocuous (Princess Bride is a Fairy Tail) so it probably wasn’t a Sugar Bowl or a Horror. Ruling out Dungeon Crawl, Magical Girl, Medical… those would have taken longer.

The first thing I noticed, however, were the… shall we say… scandalous outfits. It was like everyone was dressed for the slutty RenFaire. Second, every sentence seemed to be laced with… suggestion. And no, I wasn’t just imagining it. Third, and perhaps more worrying, everyone was a lot more… handsy. A lot. And rude. And didn’t listen when you told them that if they grabbed your ass one more time they were going to need a churgeon to remove their hand from their own throat. Even some of the local fauna were giving me and my friends the eye. It was… all a little too suggestive.

Just my luck, I’d landed us in the porno-verse version of Princess Bride… but probably the Lewd one and not the Hentai one, seeing as how restrained things were being. At that realization, a scroll fell out of the sky and bonked me on the head. It had three rules:

  • 1. Carlin’s Law applies. You’re not allowed to kill anyone this jump, though accidents won’t end the chain.
  • 2. Freud’s Law applies. Not only does everyone speak in innuendo and think like they’re in a porno (yes, that includes the wildlife), but anything you bring out of your warehouse will get a little more… suggestive. Expect swords to become more phallic, maidbots to get demure, and artwork to get more scandalous. If you use it in the warehouse, this will not apply.
  • 3. Dredd’s Law applies. The laws of the land still apply… to you and your companions. Don’t get caught breaking them… you won’t enjoy the results… or maybe you will… who can say. These Rules go into full effect in 10 minutes.

Underneath that was what I had, apparently bought. I was now a Devoted, a citizen of one of the towns of one of the various lands of this world, raised and influenced by their particular habits and practices. This me would place more emphasis on the emotional nature of relationships, rather than the physical, economic, or political I guess. As a Devoted, I’d always have a rough idea of the location and condition of my companions and anyone else I have strong positive feelings for… which wasn’t so bad. Could be damned useful if it persisted beyond this realm.

As a Devoted, I gained the perk “Fertility Control”, which meant that, regardless of whether I was male or female, I’d have total control over my ability to get or get others pregnant… and when female I’d have total control over my menstrual cycle… which… Yay! That was, let me tell, you, the best damned thing about spending decades as a male… that and the whole pee standing up of course. TK took care of reaching things on high shelves, and those are pretty much the three reasons to be male, right?

Devoted also, as far as I could make out, contributed “Light Touch” and “Devoted to Freedom”. The first meant I’d never bring injury to someone if I didn’t wish to. Even my most mountain-cracking, city-busting destructo-beam would be damped down to allow only as much force as to be safe without causing real harm, though it only worked on sources of damage that were part of me or under my direct control. Which would make sparring and practice much safer for others, and potentially save me from accidentally killing people… though I’d have to watch it… Firing off a hail-mary last ditch attack only for it not to kill the Big Bad because it would also harm innocent bystanders wouldn’t be great if it cost me my chance to end something before things could get worse.

The second would make me instantly and consciously aware of any outside influence acting on my mind, no matter the source, as well as helping me to resist those effects. It also would allow me to recognize when others were being manipulated as well, and (with a slap or sharp word) sober a drunkard or purge a mind of hypnotic suggestions. With time, practice, and exposure, it would even give me the know how to correct the effects of even the most powerful mental influences.

From the general pool of abilities I got “Self-Awareness” which gave me active control of every muscle in my body, as well as control over normally uncontrollable bodily processes, such as my heart-rate, the appearance of goosebumps, or any other unconscious responses my body might make to outside stimuli. “Knowing Gaze” would allow me to instantly recognize the desires of others, no matter how carefully they tried to hide their intentions. With practice I’d be able to tell when they were even thinking about something they desired, or mentioning it in casual conversation. Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t constantly deep scanning everyone with Telepathy and my Third Eye. Passive scans were useful as well, especially ones keyed to such primal things. And some people were resistant to Telepathy, or Spiritual scans, or being read (as I was, thanks to Occlumency). Redundancy wasn’t a bad thing.

“The Voice”, far from being a horrible TV show, was the ability to imbue my words ring with the air of authority, causing people to carry out my commands on sheer reflex, though unlike the Bene Gesserit Voice it couldn’t make them perform obviously suicidal acts or those that violated a personal code… at least not directly. Not sure I’d need it unless direct mind control failed… or if it would be useful on those people mind control didn’t work on… but the universe is full of people and powers. And getting allies to follow commands instantly would be excellent in combat.

“Tricky Fingers” increased my manual dexterity by an order of magnitude, allowing me to make precise moves at high speeds… such as completely disrobe a person wearing ordinary clothes in less than three seconds. Heh. Cool. Must resist urge to learn how to stack a deck.

“Crack the Shell” was a weird one… it allowed me to decide if my attacks harmed a person’s body… or just the things they’re carrying or wearing. Such attacks cannot be made to damage specific objects that are fully integrated with a body, like cybernetic implants or a robot’s casing, but… Omni-slash Induced Instant Nudity might be funny… oh, yeah, I’d totally copied Cloud’s Limit Break… Tifa’s too come to that. I’m a horrible friend, stealing all my allies’ best moves just because I can. Hell, I could even mimic some Shinigami’s Bankais with a little effort. It’s just moving Reiatsu around, after all.

And speaking of clothing damage, “Shedding the Tail” would allow me to do the exact opposite of “Crack the Shell” and shunt the damage of an incoming attack onto whatever I happen to be wearing at the time. An article of clothing will take the hit for me, exploding away like a layer of ablative armor. Nigh-indestructible clothing made of adamantium or such can take repeated attacks, but will still eventually shatter under the strain. That was just… hilarious. I wonder how Darkseid would react to seeing his Omega Beams stymied because I was wearing 40 t-shirts.

Unfortunately for my jocularity, I’d apparently gone over whatever the allowance was for that section of the Jumptree, as there was a list of Drawbacks to go with the perks… and none of this had point totals so I had no idea what poll me had wasted points on or how screwed I’d made myself for what I’d gotten. Still, looking at the drawbacks, I was cringing already. This was going to be… disturbing.

The least of them was “Bow-chika-wow-wow” which made it so everything was a little more pornographic. Pants would be tighter, shirts would have a few button always left undone, and people would be faster to… ahem. Standards would definitely be lower, and some things would still off the table… unless I was persuasive enough, in which case I (or other magnificent bastards) could get away with almost anything. This was porn… there would be other magnificent… and probably malevolent, bastards.

“Innuendo” was also pretty mild. It simply meant that every other sentence to come out of everyone’s mouth would be laced with double meaning… and it applied to all other forms of communication as well, making gestures vigorous and writing just a shade purple.

Continuing the theme of just how… wrong this place was… “Freudian Nightmare” meant that anything I brought out of my warehouse into the jump would be permanently changed so as to be more… suggestive. Plasma cannons firing in spurts, power armor with sculpted nipples, starships… ahem… well, you get the idea. It also applied to any and all technology in this world as well… which, this being the fantasy renaissance, wasn’t likely to be a whole lot, but still! Remind me to inoculate everyone with antivirals… everybody!

But then I got to the less… savory parts of the Drawback list. “No Means Yes” was bad enough… as it meant… well… yeah… it was that kind of world… grabby, pervy, and rapacious. Ravishment wasn’t exactly uncommon in the literature of the time, so it wasn’t a huge surprise… especially since this was also the age of piracy and slavery… but “Foul Beasts” meant that even the wildlife would be… problematical… seeking the pleasures of the flesh as much as they wanted food. Even tame or otherwise harmless animals… hell… even inanimate objects that shouldn’t have a sex drive would be humping our legs or making bedroom eyes at us. That was more than a little… terrifying.

“Greaaat… Just… Great. Well, Welcome to the Pervert Bride everyone.” I was beginning to suspect this train had no breaks. Good thing we were in the Fire Swamps… full of potentially unspeakable rodents and vines. And I wasn’t sure if the prohibition on killing anyone applied to the ROUS’s… but I suspect that it did. Carlin’s Law… replace all mention of the word Kill with the word Fuck. As in… I’m gonna kill you sheriff… But I’m gonna kill you slow.

Step one was putting everything back in the Warehouse before it could be used and mutated by the world… except our clothing. If anything in this world could damage me without Victoria, I would be surprised… but there was no way I was wearing a fullbody parasite in a world of perversion and debauchery.

Never fear. I shan’t go into details. I scarcely wish to remember them myself. Oh, not that some of it wasn’t fun… and a lot of it was just… hilarious… but it wasn’t exactly fit for general consumption…

I did have to burn Count Rugen’s Machine to ashes. If the normal one was bad… look… don’t use your imagination. Nothing’s worth that kind of mental scarring. I will say, however, that Inigo looked mighty fine without his shirt on… Mmmm yummy. And even Fezzik had taken a level in hunk… or so it seemed at the time.

Humperdink was still a dink. I made him dance naked in front of the kingdom to “I’m too Sexy”… but it didn’t really satisfy. I think he enjoyed it too much. Little pervert.

I didn’t mess with the plot. It was too much fun. I mostly just trailed along and patched up Westley and Inigo at the end. No relapses, no infections. Nothing happening. I did mind whammy the priest guy so he kept saying “Maaaawaaaage!” like fifty times in a row during the ceremony. I’m not sure why… it just seemed funny to me. Eventually it was like that video on Youtube where they made a song out of “This is SPARTA!” except more ‘This is MAAAAWAAAGE!”

I could go on and on. The whole thing was like the Canterbury Tales… or the Decameron… meets Princess Bride. Aside from having to break a few bones and crack a few heads, the whole experience wasn’t horrible. Still, this world’s version of the Dread Pirate Roberts… Think Julia Roberts… dressed like slutty Captain Jack Sparrow… and very, very interested in Booty. She tucked Westley in every damned night, let me tell you.

Next: World 47 – Perfect Storm

Resources: Build, Princess Bride Document, Lewd Document

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[Note… Yes, I set this all up for a horrible pun. I’m terrible. I was torn between making Princess Bride a Western or a Lewd, but the joke just set it up too well for me. Princess Bride honestly could be the easiest jump in the entire folder. The threat level is pretty much non-existent, and (since it’s a fairy tail) everything turns out okay in the end.]