106 Unveiled Plans

As I stepped up to the eagle statue that towered over the Skyforge I felt the slowed movements of the Forge bring the Quality constellation close enough for my power to connect to a very familiar cluster of motes. The combination of Minor Blessing and Unnatural Skill had almost been depleted by repeated connections, but was still happy to provide another set of abilities.

And just like the last time, I had somehow ended up with a thematic parallel between the abilities, only instead of Demeter's Blessing of Cultivation being paired with skill in Naturecraft, this time it was Apollo granting me the blessing of Medicine while simultaneously gaining Unnatural Skill with Healing.

Those sounded like the same thing, and there certainly was a degree of overlap, but fundamentally one was the skill to facilitate a process while the other was the process itself. Effectively, it was approaching the same place from different directions. A technical understanding rather than innate ability, but still working to supplement each other.

The blessing was basically medical skills by way of Asclepius, though thankfully not rooted in ancient medical theories. Or it would be more accurate to say that it wasn't limited to ancient medical theories. I was fully capable of performing medicine though the balancing of humors or through managing miasma, but the blessing applied equally well to modern or even futuristic applications of medicine. It was divine insight into the process of treating illness and injury, and like my other blessings could be enhanced through libations of offerings.

Unnatural Skill with Healing was a much more general ability, though also a more powerful one. Like all of my Unnatural Skills, it drew from monstrous inspirations. In this case, there were two sides to the ability. There were beings categorized as monsters who were capable of healing others, either through supernatural means or through skill with more conventional practices. That was in full effect for me, granting me an unnatural understanding of the healing process, but there was also the other side to monster healing. The kind you saw in stories of creatures like trolls, hydra, or even the phoenix. Creatures that healed on a level where it was nearly impossible to actually kill them.

Given the fact that I was effectively invincible thanks to my combination of abilities, even an immense boost to my healing abilities wasn't really that notable. Considering the fact that my body was already partially infused with life fibers, my healing was already well beyond any sensible metric. Taking it further than that would only be relevant in the most dire of situations, and even then, only if I was somehow deprived of the aforementioned invincibility combo.

But in terms of outside applications, it was incredibly useful, especially considering the task I was about to undertake. The Nanite Project had originally been focused on medical applications for the purpose of life extension. Even with all the insanity they were capable of, they were fundamentally a medical instrument, an item designed for healing and sustaining life.

And that was also my primary goal with this project. While I wasn't as concerned for Tybalt and Aisha, particularly considering the improvements to Aisha's defenses that were about to be rolled out, the nanites were intended to keep Taylor, Panacea, and Flechette alive until that crucial battle for the fate of the multiverse. And most likely well past that, but considering what was at stake I was comfortable overshooting things a bit.

Unnatural Skills would scale based on how obviously inhuman I was, something I had used to great effect with previous projects. Apollo's blessing granted me divine insight into the arts of medicine on both a technical and spiritual level. Properly boosted with libations, it could significantly improve this project, even beyond what I would have been able to achieve from boosting one of my other blessings.

"And that's another power." Aisha said, watching my reaction.

I nodded. "Another blessing and skill. Medicine for Apollo and healing for the skill."

Aisha blinked. "And you're sure you're power isn't fucking with you?" She asked.

I shrugged. "Still random, at least as far as I can tell." I replied. "For every power that seems like it's specifically picked for a particular scenario, there are ten that come across as completely random background noise."

Survey happily informed me that ratio was not correct, but that the precise proportion of timing relevant abilities would be difficult to gauge without a wider examination of both situational context and my own personal thoughts at the time the specific power arrived. While the second point could be addressed through the use of Lord of Light mind scanning, I wasn't quite ready to have my entire memory picked apart just to answer an arbitrary statistical query.

Survey understood, but I could tell she was a bit disappointed.

"This isn't going to delay the project, is it?" Aisha asked. "No medical research needed or anything like that?"

"No delays." I said. "At least not to any significant degree. This is a boost to what we were trying to accomplish, but not one that requires any substantial prep work. I'll be boosting this blessing, but one of my duplicates already handled the shrine. The rest will pretty much go as planned."

Well, there might be some small adjustments based on the new insights I had received, not to mention what would happen once I took my Unnatural Skills to the maximum level, but those could be easily managed in the course of the work.

"Right. Apollo." Aisha said. "Um, isn't he kind of sketchy? I mean, even for a god?"

"Eh, probably not more so than Zeus, or even Poseidon." I shrugged. "Apollo is just more famous for that kind of thing. Generally, Greek myths are weird and pretty disconnected from modern standards."

"I don't know." Aisha said. "I'm pretty sure that dick moves were still dick moves even back then. I can't imagine people were okay with that kind of shit, or what it was supposed to teach them."

"Probably that people with enough power could get away with dick moves and you needed to deal with that or stay out of their way." I guessed. "Honestly, it's kind of insane to think of gods as real people rather than collections of stories. You had hundreds of years of cultural changes blended together to try to make sense out of everyone's individual version of the mythology."

"But it is real. I mean, you're connected to it, so that means there was a version of you who had to deal with all this." Aisha said.

I let out a breath. "Yeah. Honestly, I don't envy him for that. Or me for that, depending on how this is supposed to work." I shook my head. "Honestly, as much as my duplicates like to joke about family members and personal investment, it's probably for the best that I only have to interact through my power, rather than dealing with that mess in person."

"Yeah, probably better than the idea that you're buying Apollo a drink after a hard day of whatever shit he's gotten up to." Aisha said.

I smiled at that. "Actually, the new stuff is significantly more potent than what we were using before."

"Huh, I figured you'd pretty much maxed out that kind of thing. The magic plants really made that much difference?" She asked.

"The variety of alcoholic products that have been brewed or distilled using plant products directly cultivated by Apeiron or his parallel iterations has greatly expanded." The Matrix explained. "A significant portion of the Greenhouse had been devoted to the production of feedstock, allowing a greatly increased variety of enhanced beverage."

"Really?" Aisha asked. "So, you wouldn't happen to have some divine tea ready to go, would you?"

"I'd advise waiting until you're immortal." I said. "The more steps that me or my duplicates are involved in, the more the effects compound. The latest batches have been handcrafted with layered effects at pretty much every step."

Aisha furrowed her brow. "I thought you couldn't hand craft liquids. Or had trouble with it."

I smiled at that. "Alchemy Machine, enhanced by the Glove of the East, and hybridized with my Transformers body." I explained. "It's just like with the Cybertronian Forge. I get to 'hand make' whatever's processed through it."

Normally the miniaturized Alchemy Machine was integrated into my cybernetics for help with various alchemy related tasks, but my Cyborg Godbody wasn't purely mechanical enough to qualify for the effect of Hybridization Theory. To truly merge with machines I needed to be a Transformer first.

"So how big are we talking here?" Aisha asked.

I smiled at the timing, then braced myself as in the distance an explosion of white vapor burst forth from the temple complex that held the assorted shrines to the various Olympians, I had received blessings from. It was accompanied by a wave of power as one of the most significant offerings we'd ever attempted washed over the entire group.

"Fuck." Aisha gasped. "Even I felt that."

I nodded. "Like I said, it's a big step up." I could feel the strength of my blessing elevated to an incredible degree. Power that honestly went beyond the aspects which had been confusing on to a much broader range of what Apollo's favor could grant. There was also the sense that this was less of a carefully thought-out boon and more of a grab-bag that was thrown at us in response to the offering. "Honestly, at this point we're hitting the gods with stuff stronger than anything they've encountered before."

"That's not going to cause any problems, right?" Aisha asked.

"What, because we basically roofied Apollo?" I asked.

Aisha blinked. "Yeah, no way that's going to come back to bite us."

"It should be fine." Tetra said, suddenly appearing between us. "I got to see the libations being offered. It looked really interesting from outside the universe. The new liquors have complex shapes in spacetime, kind of like this."

Strands of life fibers flowed out of Tetra's hand, forming a three-dimensional graph that displayed a fluctuating complex surface of disconnected shapes. Aisha just blinked, then shook her head.

"Yeah, it's way too early for me to deal with graphical representations of complex plane analysis." She muttered, rubbing her eyes. Seeing the disappointed look on Tetra's face, she quickly added. "You can give me the cliff notes later. After Survey has a chance to look over it."

"I would be happy to." Survey said.

She was already pulling information from Tetra's observations for her own analysis, with preliminary reports already drafted. I wasn't sure if Aisha had realized that Survey had been structuring her summaries specifically to account for the manner in which she skimmed them.

Tetra's multidimensional existence meant that she could perceive things in a way even my best detection systems couldn't match. Then again, when it came to interdimensional effects, Tetra kind of was my best detection system. It meant that Survey was forced to engage Tetra's assistance on matters that required more detailed observations than even her scrying could accomplish.

"Right." I said, feeling out the enhanced Blessing of Medicine. "In that case, we should be set to get started."

Well, using the term 'we' was kind of generous. The work was being conducted by me, my duplicates, and for the first time with the assistance of the Matrix. Everyone else was here to watch, what with any major project basically becoming a concert performance.

Well, Survey was engaged in active analysis and Tetra was connected enough to both me and the Matrix that she was basically a participant, but Aisha, Tybalt, Garment, and Fleet didn't even pretend they were here for any reason beyond enjoying the show.

Personally, I blame my duplicates for the amphitheater they constructed around the Skyforge. Yes, it counted as an enhancement item for Singing to the Unseen, but it didn't help if you were trying to make things less of a spectacle.

Honestly, I didn't mind the spectacle for major works. For things like forging bodies for Fleet, Survey, and the Matrix or Tetra's Kamui conversion it felt like those deserved all the grandeur and significance that could be attributed to them. They were massive projects that represented pivotal moments for everyone involved.

To be fair, this was also a major project, but it wasn't directly shaping a person's existence. Not to downplay the impact this kind of technology could have, but there was a big difference between offering someone an upgrade and directly crafting their future self.

Broadly, the preparations were in line with what had been done for Tetra's procedure. In order to push the impact of Monstrous Strength as far as possible for my Unnatural Skills, I needed the most obviously unnatural form possible. In my case, that meant merging with my hybridized Transformer body and activating every possible transformation.

There was something ironic about taking on a gigantic form in order to complete work on a piece of nanotechnology, but fortunately the hybridization had taken care of that. My Transformer body was merged with a custom-built nano assembly array, allowing perfect atomic scale work even when all of my growth and transformation powers were activated.

It also helped that the facilities of the combined Skyforge and Volcanic Forge had been massively upgraded. When they arrived, they were designed for antiquated forging techniques, with the exception of using lava as the heat source. The original facilities had been upgraded to the highest level my technology could manage while still maintaining the benefit of those facilities.

It was really the Volcanic Forge that mattered for this project. The particular nanites I had learned about from Nanite Sciences and received from Nanite Removal and Control were exceptional even by my standard of technology. They were effectively constructed as much from quantum effects as any form of material. It was what allowed them to apparently ignore mass and energy limitations as they focused on manipulating the quantum scale fabric of reality rather than creative placement of individual atoms.

It was insane, but that was a rather common state of affairs for my power. New fields of science or technology that functioned in ways that were flat out impossibilities from an outside perspective. Sometimes the explanations for how those particular impossibilities were resolved was rather shaky, but that didn't make the technology any less viable.

Nanoscale machines that could pull matter or energy out of nowhere was a ridiculous concept. The fact that the very precise aspects of this technology justified those effects didn't change how crazy that effect was. It was still just as viable as any other crazy form of technology, and frankly tricking additional mass out of the universe with quantum effects wasn't that much more outlandish than the various extradimensional forms of technology that I was regularly working with.

It did mean that meaningfully augmenting the technology was a challenge. The nanites were already stripped down in the extreme, basically just a series of control points around a sphere of quantum potential. Not the easiest thing to work additional technology into, much less other effects, but it was still possible, particularly at my level.

There might have only been minimal amounts of actual matter included in the nanites, but as long as it was physically present it could enhance it with the properties of another material through my Volcanic Forge. In this case, the material in question was one of the completed Mantic cores that the Matrix had completed.

Cores were the absolute peak of Mantic technology. The heart of each system, able to generate endless amounts of power and remember the state of the world around them, constantly acting to restore it to the recorded state. It was a form of technology that was capable of resurrection that wasn't actually resurrection. Instead it was simply rolling back the clock until the restored person was in a state where they had never been injured in the first place.

By integrating the properties of a Mantic Core into the material of the nanites they would become capable of atemporal restoration. Not just healing, though they were more than capable of that, but completely restoring a person, no matter the level of damage they had suffered. It was a fallback in the case of extreme cases, instances of near complete destruction where nothing else would be able to make a difference. Nothing but rolling back the clock on the damage.

The material for the nanites had already been prepared, and well in excess of what was necessary for a project like this. The actual mass of the nanites was minuscule, while the amount of material my duplicates were able to create when using the Volcanic Forge was beyond substantial. It would be interesting to see what else could be done with Mantic Core infused metals, but that was a project for another time.

With materials and facilities in place, I fell in with my duplicates, the three of us towering over the Skyforge as the Matrix flowed through the structure of the Skyforge beneath us. Three towering robotic forms, shifted out of phase with the rest of the reality through hybridization with shadow elemental infused fabricator arrays. Through that shadowy form the effects of my numerous transformations could just be made out, each one drawing me further from a natural form and further amplifying the array of Unnatural Skills at my disposal.

Gravity fields sprung into place, reinforcing vacuum bubbles with magnetic isolation. The containment chamber where conventional practice would see nanites slowly assembled over a span of years, but where unconventional practice would see nanites built en masse and by hand, hand-built nanotechnology being exactly as amusingly excessive as ever.

My perspective on this work had completely changed from those first few days where I worked to assemble tiny nanobots to form the core collective of the Matrix. Those early fumbling attempts, which were still sufficient to create a potential gray goo apocalypse, had been supplemented by every power and technology base I had been granted by my power.

Nanite Science formed the foundation of this technology. It was one of the earliest powers I had received, something that arrived well before I had the capacity to use anything but the most general concepts I had learned from that power. Without Nanite Removal and Control granting me working examples of the technology I couldn't guess how long it would have taken me to recreate it.

Well, how long without the other abilities that ended up supplementing that power.

The early nanotech that had provided the base for the Matrix had incorporated knowledge from Machinist, Transformer's Master Builder, and the cyberpunk tech of Grease Monkey. More fields of tech had slowly been integrated into later generations of Nanobots, but for this project I was using everything I possibly could.

The full breadth of Star Trek technology had been incorporated into the design as well as the innovative tech from I am Iron Man. Erudition allowed me to draw upon the nanotechnology of the Halo universe and integrate it into my work. ADVENT Meld technology was included, further boosting the already substantial biological integration abilities of the nanites. My own tinker power helped advance the design, facilitate production, and miniaturize the result while Ambrosial Artificer was used to simplify the design. The tremendous depth of understanding granted by Nanotechnician had been used to further revise designs and concepts as well as add new features of restoration and enhancement.

And then there was the technology of Demigod Atelier, allowing the nanite array to interface with and channel Mantra. Technology enhanced and upgraded to be able to draw upon the power of raw faith and human emotion. In fact, with the degree to which the nanites integrated into a person's body, they would basically grant a less invasive version of a Cyborg Hindu Godbody.

Well, a less obvious version. Having atomic scale machines infused into every cell in your body in tremendous quantities wasn't really a less invasive option, even compared to the conventional design of cybernetics. Still, I imagine most people would prefer it to a body made of clay-like flesh and living metals.

And that was just the design process. The work that had gone into this project before a single part was produced. Before the real work began. Began when three giants of shadow and flame descended onto a living landscape to forge creations on the most fundamental scale of the universe.

All while the rest of the Celestial Forge watched from stadium seating. With popcorn. My duplicates were particularly proud of the addition of concessions to the Skyforge's amphitheater.

I put that out of my mind and focused on the work in front of me. Hands the size of buildings were able to manipulate the placement of individual atoms, working with impossible speed and precision while imbuing the result with the full breadth of my powers.

Multiple designs of nanites were hybridized together, enhancing their power and versatility. Lathe of Heaven drew forth additional properties of the underlying materials. Reinforcement powers ensured that no deterioration or faults would impair the nanites while Heretical Adaptation allowed them to adapt and improve.

Working by hand allowed me to draw upon Master Craftsman, shaping each nanite into a divine object. Working from individual atoms met the base material requirement of Craftsmen of the Gods, adding further properties to enhance the work. Both Titan's Blood and Daedalus' Student compounded, drawing the function of the resulting nanites far beyond the limits of their actual structure.

And while my divine crafting powers layered effects upon my work, I wove magic into my creation. Magecraft, mana manipulation, charms, nanoscale runes, demigod craftsmanship all merged with Magitech abilities seamlessly merging supernatural and technical aspects of the design. And all through the process, I continued to sing.

We continued to sing. A song of creation, drawing aspects from the Unseen and binding them into my work. Adding spiritual weight through the use of the highest level of Elven Enchantment, and at a significant cost in spiritual energy. Energy that was miniscule for each individual nanite, but tremendous when taken as a whole. But in exchange for that cost, the nanites became something more. Something more than a work of technology or a magic item or a medical aid. Something with spiritual weight that went beyond the material world. All bound through a three-part song, working atop a base provided by the Matrix.

Or a bass. Considering the Matrix's song drew from the earth and foundations of the Skyforge, it was safe to say they were working in a lower register. A bassline that supported and eased the work being done by me and my duplicates. It was a small but meaningful contribution, and a significant one for their first attempt at this level of work.

And as the song reached its crescendo the assembled nanites were bound together in a contained sphere. Linked, programmed, and fully functionally bound in an array. Not the kind of wild and unhinged expressions that could create erratic results in any living creature, this was the highest level of the nanite project, enhanced by every ability I could layer upon it.

And with the completion of the project I drew upon Workaholic and multiplied the result. Instead of one glowing orb, five magnetically contained spheres of nanites floated in the containment field, each about the size of a softball. A tremendous amount of energy bound in a deceptively small container.

I felt the drain that followed any major project. Singing to the Unseen was still a serious endeavor and it drew upon one of the few sources of energy that I had yet to trivialize. Fortunately, I had a packed day with plenty of chances to get out of the Workshop and refill my reserves.

I disentangled myself from my Transformer body as the rest of the team approached the completed nanites. Five spheres glowing with a faint yellow light bobbed in the magnetic containment field.

"Huh. That it?" Aisha asked.

I nodded. "Five complete nanites arrays." I smiled at her and the rest of the team. "So, was the performance up to your standards?"

Aisha made a show of considering my question. "Well, I think I liked Tetra's song better, but the Matrix definitely added a lot to this one. I'd say top three."

"There have only been three." I protested even as I felt my duplicates' amusement bubbling through.

Garment signaled her agreement with Aisha while Survey busied herself logging comprehensive breakdowns of this performance compared to the previous ones, highlighting the abstract elements that were not possible to experience through recorded versions of the songs, much to the frustration of her parallel copies. Meanwhile, Tybalt had approached the containment field as was looking at the glowing spheres with wide eyes.

"Like I said, top three." Aisha repeated while I rolled my eyes. "So, are we good to just like, grab one of those?"

"Not yet." I said. "They still need some modifications."

"Right, you're limiting the other ones to healing." Aisha said, then looked at me. "And doing something else with the rest of them?"

I nodded as I reached into the containment field and pulled out one of the spheres. "These are medically focused, but they also count as weapons. That means I can enhance them like weapons, and in the case of you and Tybalt, add other effects as well."

"Elements from Infusionist, Psionic focuses, and weapon modifications." Tetra chipped in, even as I worked the cited powers into the nanites.

There was a thrum as the sphere in my hands shifted from dull yellow to a deep blue. I handed the sphere to Aisha who took it with great care before repeating the process for Tybalt, his turning a smokey orange as each individual nanite was infused with fire based elemental affinity.

"So water?" Aisha asked, looking closely at the sphere in her hands. She wasn't actually touching it, instead the containment effects caused it to float about a half inch away from her fingers as she 'gripped' the energy field wrapped around the nanites.

I nodded. "You already have experience with it, and it will be expressed through anything you do with the nanites."

"Because it's not just healing. I mean, for us." Tybalt nodded at her as I handed him his own nanite array. He held it much more casually than Aisha, who was still gripping hers with both hands. Through the Dragon's Pulse and my other enhanced senses I could feel the tension building.

"Aisha?" I asked. "You alright?"

"Um, yeah. Yeah." She took a breath and looked around at the rest of the group. Fleet was still leaning against one of the pillars of the amphitheater while the rest of the team had clustered in towards the forge. The amount of attention seemed to only make her more self-conscious.

"You're worried." Tetra said. The statement had complete confidence, but was offered in a compassionate way. Aisha looked at her, then nodded.

"Yeah. I know I was joking about things, but this is a big one, right? One of the crazy super items that changes everything, and not just because I'm not going to get old after this." She explained.

I just nodded and she continued.

"Right. Right." She looked back at the orb in her hand. "It's just, the armor is already crazy. I don't really know how to deal with something like this."

"Well, to repeat some advice I've received on similar matters, you could just not." She looked at me. I shrugged at her. "The nanites will be enough to protect you and keep you alive. There's no rush to master every EVO ability right away. Just because you have the capacity doesn't mean you need to use it right away."

Aisha looked slightly relieved at that, but Tybalt meowed an objection on general principles, holding up his only faintly burning sphere.

"Or I guess I could let Tybalt set the training program." Aisha said in much better humor. "I mean, it can't be worse than what he's already got me working on."

An expression appeared on Tybalt's face that left absolutely no doubt as to who his father was. Aisha shivered at his expression and quickly turned back to her own array.

"So! How do these things work? Just like, grab them through the field or whatever?" She asked.

"Pretty much." I said. "You can't really mess it up, and the nanites are personalized so you only need a point of contact."

There was a thrumming sound and I turned to see Tybalt crushing the sphere between his paws. The glowing mass of energy flowed into his body, spreading across the surface in a pattern of red circuits as the nanites worked their way into his body. In a matter of seconds the array was fully integrated and Tybalt smiled up at us.

"Right." Aisha looked down at the sphere. "Well, no sense putting this off."

"Aisha, if you're really worried about this-"

"Nope." She said, cutting me off as she crushed the sphere. Her hand closed onto the mass of blue energy which flowed into her arm in a similar circuit pattern. The lines spread across the surface of her as the nanites flowed into her.

"Okay, weird. This feels weird. Not bad, just weird." She said, going stiff as the electric motor sound built to a crescendo before suddenly dropping off as the pattern of deep blue lines also vanished from her skin and clothes. "Uh, right." She said, patting herself down. "So, that's it?"

"It is." I said. "The integration is staggered so you can get used to the array. It's probably better to try out some of the neural link and command systems before you jump into any more advanced applications."

The sound of an electric motor echoed forth drawing my eye towards Tybalt just in time to see a massive blade wreathed in orange plasma spring forth from one of his paws. He gave the weapon some experimental swings, causing heat shimmers to trail behind it. He smiled wider as more lines spread across his body.

Mass was pulled from quantum effects, forming expansive structures around and from his body, building upon themselves as he grew to a tremendous size. The sound finally dropped off as a towering robot stood over the Skyforge, though with a definite cat-like characteristic to it. Flames leaked between heavy plates of armor, playing across the surface of the mech in a complex pattern. A massive blade of plasma exploded from the robot's right hand, taking on a corkscrew pattern as Tybalt fed spiral energy into the manifestation.

Then the cat-like head looked down at the rest of the team. It lifted its left hand and waved at us. Tetra waved back.

"Um, yeah." I said, waving at Tybalt. "That's a bit of an advanced application, so probably best to hold back."

"Yeah." Aisha said. I saw her face crunch up in focus. "I mean, I can feel the interface. I think there's a way to…"

Blue lines spread across her arm and flesh shifted to metal, with a similar blade to Tybalt's coming directly from her hand. The combined effect made it look like a gauntlet had formed on her forearm, with a thin blue sword held in its grip.

"Huh." She said, giving the blade a few experimental swings. The motion sounded like rushing water as she worked through some of her ninja forms. "Not as hard as I thought it would be."

"Wait," I said, examining the structure she had manifested. "Did you change the design?"

"Just a little." She said, showing the small dish on the back of the gauntlet. "I mean, it was using plasma anyway, so I figured…"

"You added a deflector shield." I said. A modification to the stock designs, imparted with only a few seconds of concentration.

"Hey, a sword and shield is better than just a sword, right?" She said. Above her there was a thunderous sound as Tybalt nodded the head of his mech. Aisha looked up at him, then back at her sword. She shook off her hand, causing the bulk of the metal to flake off and vanish, with the rest retracting into her body.

"But yeah, think I'll hold back on that kind of thing." She said.

"Probably for the best." I agreed.

"Though, the next time you play basketball you might not actually need mechs." She said in an amused voice.

"Sure, if you're ready to disappoint Monarch." I quipped.

"Pretty sure the Titans are a different weight class from that kind of thing." She pointed up at Tybalt's towering robot form. "Just don't wait on me for the next game."

"Are you sure?" Tetra asked. "It's really fun." Her body exploded into red threads and shifted into her own robot form. Somehow the towering mech managed to give Aisha a pleading look. Tybalt attempted to join her, but apparently even he couldn't manage pleading kitty eyes when driving a skyscraper sized mech.

"Fine, I'll work on it." She said before turning to me. "I was wondering when you were going to drag me into one of those mech matches." She looked down at her untransformed hand. "Just didn't expect it to be like this."

"That can wait until Tybalt gets you up to speed." I said.

Tybalt nodded, then the various plates of his body began to shift. The fire outlining his body flickered out and the metal began to flake away. Massive plates and shed components vanished into nothing before they could reach the ground, the nanites that had been sustaining them retracting into his body. The entire structure of his body shrank and vanished as he dropped towards the ground, landing casually in the midst of the group.

"Showoff." Aisha muttered, much to Tybalt's amusement.

I smiled at the exchanges between the group. Honestly, the extra capabilities the nanites granted weren't that significant compared to the abilities already available to the team, but they still gave a level of utility that hadn't been present before. Things that I would have needed to facilitate could now be handled independently.

Of course, those were capabilities that I was not going to be handing out to anyone outside the team, especially not to Taylor. A quick set of modifications restricted the rest of the nanite arrays to healing only. Then they were triple checked to make sure no aspect of their use had been overlooked. And then I had my duplicates check them independently, with Survey's own analysis to ensure that nothing had been overlooked.

"You about done?" Aisha asked as I completed one final check.

"As much as I'm going to be." I said.

"You're really that worried about Khepri?" She asked.

"Worried in general. With Khepri I'm probably overreacting, but considering how things started…" I trailed off and Aisha nodded.

"Yeah, can't blame you for that." She said, "So, are we done here?"

"Almost." I said with a smile. "We just need to set up your Workshop."

"My Workshop?" She said, "That workshop that was supposed to be a magic bag before everyone decided to get stupid with it?"

"Well, I wouldn't say stupid." I protested.

"Stupid excessive." She said. She looked around and realized the rest of the group had suddenly focused on her. "Shit. This is one of those things where everyone has been waiting for my reaction to whatever insanity you've thrown together, right?"

"I'm not going to confirm or deny that." I said neutrally, though my amusement was tempered a bit. There was a big reveal coming and it was a lot more significant than the work done on Aisha's private workshop.

"Fine." She said, "At least if you get this over with, it's not going to get any more crazy than it already is."

"No, it has Heretical Adaptation." Tetra offered happily.

"Of course it does." Aisha said. "So, do we need to relocate for this or what?"

"We do." I said. "Magic lab, and I'll need your armor."

Aisha's hand rose to the crescent shaped amulet on her neck. She looked uncertain, but I gave her a reassuring nod and she let out a breath.

"Alright. Let's go." She said cautiously.

The team relocated to the magic workshop, or magitech workshop since the science and magic labs from the same source had merged with each other. It was the same universe that had provided me with my elemental weapon runes and natural energy alchemy, but beyond the fact that it had some supernatural element I had no idea what that place was like. Nothing provided with either workshop gave any hint to the origin and none of the powers came with any memories of that world. Survey was still evaluating various media sources, but she was continuously doing that for every ability I received.

In all likelihood this would be a dead end, but that didn't impact the usefulness of what I had gained from those abilities. A dedicated magic and technology research facility was invaluable, particularly after the number of upgrades that had been layered into it.

It was the best location I had for enchanting items and was therefore where most of the work on Aisha's pocket dimension workshop had taken place. Well, the dynamics of the pocket dimension made specifying a location rather complicated, but the point was that it was where the work was being finalized.

"That's it?" She asked, looking over my shoulder as the rest of the team milled around the magitech lab.

Tetra had returned to her favorite perch in the rafters above the lab and was shifting between her human, mink, and raw fiber forms. Tybalt had decided to join her in the upper levels, though he didn't have any prior connection to this place. It was possible he just enjoyed finding a high place to sit.

Garment was browsing through the lab, checking over some of the more recent work from the duplicates. The Matrix was assisting her, mostly out of their recent experience with higher level enchantment effects. Garment was particularly focused on any wearable piece of equipment, and plenty had been produced since the fully loaded Spiritron Core had allowed magical training and experimentation to be conducted within the serial phantasm.

In contrast, Survey wasn't even attempting to conceal her distraction as she maintained constant contact with the duplicate who was filling in for her in the scrying chamber. Despite the robustness of the observation systems, she was determined to ensure nothing was overlooked during her absence. Fleet appeared to be unbothered, but was coordinating initiatives across passenger space. Of course, given how he operated, it wasn't like any level of action would put a strain on his attention.

I turned away from the team and back to the workbench as I fitted the carefully shaped gem into Aisha's armor locket.

"I said it needed to be finalized." I said as the modular upgrade integrated itself into the technical, magical, and spiritual aspects of the armor. "What were you expecting?"

"I don't know. Some big blood ritual thing where cosmic forces are attuned to me or something equally over the top." She said. I grinned as I handed her the amulet. She took it carefully and examined the new addition running her thumb over the large gemstone.

The stone had been cut to match the dimensions of the amulet, sitting just slightly inside the metallic purple crescent. The crescent cut was basically impossible for a fully faceted gemstone, but that hadn't been any challenge for me. It did mean that the crystal was probably going to be dismissed as costume jewelry, assuming anyone could even pierce the layered protections to the point where they could examine it properly.

"Okay, maybe there's no big production, but you did go crazy on this, right?" She asked.

"Well, I wouldn't say crazy." I said in my defense.

"Yeah, right." She said, closing her hand over the amulet. "I can feel this. I know I'm crap at sensing magic and 'proper' spellcasting or whatever, but even I can tell this is a big deal."

"It is." I said. "Not something with the level of resources poured into it that you get from the big Elven works, but yeah, a lot of effort went into this."

She let out a breath. "Right. It was supposed to be a purse with some extra space, then a room I could access from wherever, then the copies started talking about climate and ecological balance." She held up the locket by its chain and let it dangle in front of her face. "Do I even want to know what this thing can do?"

"I think so." I assured her.

"Fine." She said, slipping the locket over her head.

The rest of the team clustered in as Aisha checked her reflection in the polished casing of some of the lab equipment. Garment excitedly signaled her approval while Tetra flickered between positions to get a better look.

"Alright, it's nice." She admitted before turning back to me. "So, how does it work?"

"Similar to your armor controls. Intent based, so you can draw yourself or others into the workshop with a thought." I explained.

"Right." She nodded. "So I just…"

There was a sudden wave of pressure as a ripple of inverted space pulsed out from the amulet, spreading through the lab. Just as quickly, the pulse collapsed back into itself, but as it fell away the environment of the magitech lab was replaced by snowdrifts and crystalline spires that rose towards a starlit sky.

Aisha spun to look up at the mountain top palace of enchanted diamond, then down at the ordered grid of lights in the valley below. An entire city of industry spread out beneath us, nestled in a valley surrounded by a mountain range on the order of the Himalayas, with the tallest peak capped with a dazzling castle.

"Fuck." She said as the cool mountain winds blew past us. "Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck."

"I take it you're surprised?" I asked.

"Surprised by what? The probably magic castle? The entire city that's been set up? Or the fact that I'm guessing I have an entire mountain range to myself."

"It's not a mountain range." I said.

"Really." Aisha said flatly.

"No." I said, calling up a holographic globe. "It's a planet."

"A planet." Aisha said. "A fucking planet. You put a planet inside a crystal. Where did you even get a planet?"

"They made it!" Tetra explained from her place suddenly at Aisha's side. "Joe and his duplicates, and the Matrix helped as well."

From their position near the palace's diamond gates the Matrix nodded their armored head.

"Right. You made a planet. A planet." She repeated herself.

"You know the kind of stuff we've been deploying in Passenger Space, the scale we're working at, and that's without me being able to use all my abilities. A planet really isn't that hard." I said.

"I didn't think you couldn't do it, I just wondered why you felt you needed to for this." She said, looking around at the landscape, then back at the globe. "Fuck, is that…" She looked up. "This is full Earth sized, isn't it?"

"Nearly. Point nine seven G, without gravity manipulation. The core is cybertonium instead of iron, but that allows tectonic activity to be managed by energon rather than residual heat and radioactive decay. Biosphere is stable, or as stable as we could make it, though the duplicates might have snuck in some of the stuff they couldn't hide in the Workshop after Central Control let me detect everything they were making."

Aisha took a breath. "What kind of stuff?" She asked.

"Mostly the same kind of thing they used to hide from me, only now they can transform stuff and make magical plants. I'm pretty sure they made a mile tall tree somewhere and a few floating islands. Probably some 'lost' civilizations, 'ancient' ruins, and sunken continents. Oh, and there's at least one lost underworld thing with dinosaurs and stuff."

"Right." She said, "Right. That's great, but why?" She asked seriously. "Why put all this stuff here? Why bother?"

"Mostly, because they didn't want to hand over an empty planet." I said. "That would have just been sad."

"Okay, a planet." She said, "That's it, isn't it? The rest of this is fun crazy stuff, but there's a reason why you actually made a fucking planet, and it's not just to show off, right?"

I nodded. Aisha was always surprisingly observant, even when overwhelmed. Or maybe because she was overwhelmed. "There is a reason why it had to be a planet."

She looked around at the rest of the team and noticed how the tone had turned serious. A rather abrupt shift from the levity of showing off massive and impossible creations.

"Okay, this is big." She said, and I could see her working through things. "And if you've been dancing around it so far that means it was probably something you couldn't or didn't want to talk about before, and none of those things are good." She took a breath and let it out. "So why did you make a planet?" She asked.

I nodded. "When we were at Somer's Rock, Victor's power was able to affect us. Not all of us and not easily, but it still got through. I had built incredible wards and defensive effects into all of our gear, but it wasn't able to stop his power."

"Yeah, but we had never seen a power like that before." Aisha said. "I saw Survey's breakdown of the effect. How it was distinct from other vectors of attack and why it was able to get through conventional defenses."

"That's the problem. Every parahuman power is distinct. The only common point they share is the extra-dimensional aspects of their operation. Beyond that, the mechanisms are all over the place. There is barely any relation between the nature of the effect and what it's used for. I mean, Grue has a power for shifting material between dimensions and it manifests as clouds of darkness, and that's probably one of the less outlandish examples." I shook my head. "If I've encountered a power I can counter it, but there's not much point in being able to stop a power after it's done its damage. Every other effect is just mitigation or partial defenses."

"Right, but what does that have to do with this?" Aisha asked, gesturing to the holographic globe.

I smiled. "There's no universal method of countering parahuman powers because powers don't share any universal effects. However, they do share limitations. Manton limits. The most common are effects being limited to living or nonliving material, which Survey, Fleet, and The Matrix have taken advantage of thanks to my study of Weld's power. However, that's not absolute. There is a more direct limitation, one that's shared by all powers." I gestured towards the sky. "Powers have a range limit. Most don't work in space, and even those that maintain some level of functionality shut down once you get past lunar orbit."

The holographic model of the globe shrank and began to fill in outer layers. The distant boundaries of the space around the world, extending past the orbit of the moon.

"No." Aisha said. "Fuck no. A planet was ridiculous enough, but you're seriously telling me you fit all this Goddamn space, literal space, inside that crystal?" She asked.

"Everything out to Lagrange point two. And a bit past that for the celestial spheres, but that was more of a personal project for my duplicates." I explained proudly.

"You could actually do that?" She muttered. "I mean, I know you were getting good at the Extension charms or whatever…"

"Multiple systems of spatial expansion layered on top of each other, and then repeatedly enhanced with the Glove of the East." I looked over the sphere displayed in the holographic model. "I'm not saying it was easy. This was a big project, especially with what we were fitting it in, but it was pretty much the only way to be sure."

Aisha nodded slowly. "So that's it? I'm immune to parahuman powers? Like, really immune?"

"As long as you have your armor, or just the amulet, a power's not going to affect you unless it can reach you from outside lunar orbit and punch through an entire planet on the way." I explained. "This is literally as safe as we can make things."

She nodded again. "So the Simurgh…"

"The Simurgh, Behemoth's kill field, Sleeper's shaker effect, and any other parahuman power out there. Less abstract powers might have physical interactions, but unless they can move a planet, they aren't going to be knocking you around." I explained. "Even sensing powers are going to fall flat. Really, there is nothing that's going to be able to cover the distance necessary to reach you."

"I see." She said slowly. She lifted her head and looked around at the rest of the team. "But this isn't just a precaution, is it? First the nanites, and then something that can stop anything the nanites couldn't. This is because of something big. That something big you couldn't tell me about before."

You could call Aisha a lot of things, but she definitely wasn't stupid. I mean, even before she was patching in Starfleet deflector systems to prefabricated nanite construction templates on the fly.

"It is." I said. Around me other members of the team nodded solemnly. I watched as Aisha took a breath.

"It's the Simurgh, isn't it?" She asked in a small voice.

I blinked. "What?"

"The Simurgh." She continued. "That's why you had to be so careful and why you couldn't tell me anything. The reason for all the secrecy." She looked up and saw my expression. "Isn't it?"

"Aisha, this isn't about the Simurgh." I explained. "The Simurgh is a lot easier to deal with than this."

"What?" Aisha asked with wide eyes. "Then what? Who? What's all this about?" She asked in an increasingly frantic voice while the Toolkits constellation missed a connection.

"It's about the Slaughterhouse Nine." I said. "They're on their way to Brockton Bay."

"WHAT?" Aisha practically screamed. "What do you mean… who… how did you…"

"Hold on." I said quickly. I could feel her power shifting into high gear. From Fleet's position in Passenger Space we could see the reaction of her passenger. The warnings effectively wired into the network, constantly monitored for with the demand that information be shared instantly. Directly alerting Jack's passenger and then indirectly alerting Jack himself.

That failsafe was going to play out. The sequence of events that would have Jack suddenly decide to turn around for some arbitrary reason and find a new target where there wasn't a team of high-powered heroes waiting to crush him. Manipulation and privileged information masquerading as competence, and it was all set to fire off once again.

Or it would have, if not for my level of understanding of the dynamics of Passenger Space. If not for my understanding of passenger communication methods. If not for the extensive series of intercept structures that had been constructed around Aisha's passenger to stifle any demands for information. And if not for the true purpose of the crystal palace behind us.

The entire structure lit up like a spotlight. Energy danced and glowed within diamond arrays extending hundreds of feet into the air. Because it wasn't just a fancy princess palace. It was an upscaled version of the same item that allowed Aisha better control of her power and a stronger connection with her passenger. Only the principles of Always a Bigger Robot had been liberally applied. That power allowed any device to be scaled infinitely, with a corresponding increase in power and capacity. And that power increase was represented in the size difference between Aisha's hairclip and the immense structure that consumed the entire mountain top.

It was the only thing that allowed Aisha's power to function when she was effectively also beyond the range of any parahuman ability, but that wasn't all it could do. Complex energy patterns played through the crystals of the palace. Masterwork divine craftsmanship worked with titanic structures assembled in the very heart of passenger space, combining incredible precision with tremendous amounts of brute force to do what had previously been thought impossible.

Cut a parahuman, and their passenger, off from Jack's influence.

I examined the readings from the Passenger Space armada with Fleet continuing to direct their efforts and Survey double and then triple checking the analysis. The balance was delicate, but it was undeniable. Aisha's passenger had been isolated from the network, or at least from any part of it that Jack's passenger could reach. The surge of energy patterns had not just identified the methods of subversion within the network, but also the patterns used to transfer those effects to a parahuman.

A specific parahuman. It was the first step, but we had been able to identify how Jack's passenger was influencing Aisha and put an end to it on every level, both in her passenger and through any residual effect upon her own mind.

"Aisha?" I asked. She looked stunned. The display of energy had been tremendous, and we had only been experiencing it from the outside. I couldn't imagine what it was like for her.

"What was that?" She asked stiffly.

I nodded to Survey and she pulled up her own holographic display and recordings from Passenger Space.

"Through comprehensive analysis of ALL of the Slaughterhouse Nine's actions, it became apparent that outside factors were playing a significant role in their continued survival. Further investigation revealed this effect was specific to interactions with parahumans, with some unknown effect influencing them in a manner favorable to the Slaughterhouse Nine." She explained.

Aisha swallowed. "Right. That's why you had to keep it from me."

"It is." I said. "I had an inkling from my own passenger before we knew for sure, but once we did, we couldn't take the risk. We didn't even figure out what was happening until we found Jack's passenger."

Survey pulled up the records of that encounter, including the near calcified links to the passengers of the rest of the Nine.

"Shit." Aisha said. "That doesn't look good."

"No." I said. "Jack has a secondary power, or a kind of secondary power. It's not really his, but his passenger cheats for him. It has some kind of priority access to the network and uses it to gather information and influence parahumans in ways that are favorable to him."

"What do you mean 'influence'?" She asked sternly.

"Well, the most extreme cases seem to be with the other members of the Nine. Those are extremely strong connections. For the rest of the network it seems it's mostly information gathering. The passenger doesn't seem to be in communication with him, but it's definitely feeding him information somehow. Probably through what he thinks of as intention or instinct."

"What about the stuff that's not information gathering?" She asked. "What can he do to people?"

"There is evidence of capes making bad decisions when they go up against the Nine." I explained. "Most people assumed it was nerves or terror reactions, that they got scared and made mistakes, but the mistakes were always in the Nine's favor. It's clear there's some level of influence. We've managed to clear it from you, but we don't know how extensive it was or the full scope of what it could accomplish."

"I should have stabbed him." She said.

"What?" I asked.

"Jack. I should have just stabbed him. He's a monster and I had a power that meant no one could see me coming. I should have wanted to stab him, but I never considered it." She explained.

"Are you sure that's his influence?" I asked.

"Yeah, because I sure as hell want to stab him now." She said, "Before it didn't even occur to me, but I could have ended the entire gang in one strike."

"Were you planning to stab a lot of people?" Tetra asked in a tone that wasn't at all admonishing.

Aisha let out a breath. "I thought about it, when I first got my power. Who I could take down and what I could do to make a difference. Kaiser, Hookwolf, Skidmark. Hell, for them it probably counts as self-defense."

I shrugged. Maybe not directly, but that covered defense of others and all three of them had body counts to their names, even if they didn't have kill orders. I wasn't going to admonish Aisha for wanting to stab Nazi commanders or drug lords to save other innocent people.

"Are you sure it wasn't just his reputation?" I asked. It was possible we had struck a key point here, but I needed to be sure.

"No. I know memory. Probably better than anyone at this point. I know the difference. This was something else pushing the idea out of my head." She ground her teeth. "And if this happened to me, it probably happened to lots of other capes. Probably all the other capes. Fuck, everyone who could have just ended the Nine from the next town over with some long-range blaster or someone with a heart-explosion power just never thought to try."

I nodded. "That's why I had to be so careful about this." I explained.

"Right. Well, thank fuck for that, and for getting me off of whatever demented party line Jack Slash is running for the Parahuman community." She said, "And they're coming to the city?" She asked.

I nodded. "We've been monitoring them. We can't move until they get close enough for it to count as a reaction to their presence."

"I know. I've seen Survey's breakdown on what might happen if people stop thinking that we're predictable." Aisha said.

I'd seen the same reports. The potential response got pretty bad. I don't think we'd be looking at action from Phir Sē, but just the fact that capes of his level were likely to mobilize in response to an unrestricted Celestial Forge was enough to reinforce the need for care. The fact that we could counter whatever was thrown at us didn't negate the risk, the collateral damage, or the danger of further escalation.

"They are isolated." I said. "Combination of Shikigami and interference by Fleet, Survey, and the Matrix. They aren't encountering any civilians on their way to the city. Just drones and controlled environments."

"You seriously managed to pull that off?" She asked the three A.I.s.

"The Slaughterhouse Nine are significantly less impressive when the influence of Jack Slash's passenger is excluded from the scenario." Survey explained. "In the absence of such warnings, they are remarkably trusting of favorable circumstances."

"Figures." Aisha said, letting out a breath. "But you're going to kill them? We're going to kill them?"

"We are." I said. "And you're welcome, if you want. You're also free to sit this one out."

"Fuck that." She said. "Even if I hadn't had Jack Fucking Slash messing with my head, these people need to die. I'm not bailing on something that important." She smiled as she looked up at me. "So, what's the plan?''

I returned her grin. "Well, right now the Nine are covering the final stretch to the city. Depending on how long they take…" Considering they still hadn't left the garage where they had spent the night, instead descending into bickering and fussing over preparation work... "They'll either arrive late today or early tomorrow. The Nine will usually set up a base outside a city and scout it before they make their opening moves. When that happens, we clear civilians from the area, contain them, and move in to end things."

It was a clean and direct approach. In the event they decided to make a run for the city without their usual stop things might get a bit more frantic, but I was perfectly willing to drop the hammer on them in the middle of a highway. No matter what, they were not making it into my city.

"And there's not going to be any trouble?" Aisha asked. "I mean, I know you're prepared for hell and high water, but still, it's the Nine."

"We're ready." I assured her. "Jack isn't a threat to any of us, and without his thinker power he's not a concern. I've had a countermeasure ready for Crawler for ages, Shatterbird…"

Garment made an unusually aggressive motion drawing Aisha's attention.

"Um, Garment?" She asked.

"I had to tell Garment not to use colored glass in some of her designs because of Shatterbird's associations with it." I explained. Garment signaled her agreement, but continued to elaborate through further gestures. "Um, also there's issue with Shatterbird's design aesthetic, performance methodology, and the underlying rationalization used to justify her actions."

"Really? Really?" Aisha asked, looking at me.

I shrugged. "In some of the few accounts available, Shatterbird considers herself an artist. Garment disagrees. Vehemently."

The last gesture she made on the matter had a sense of finality to it.

"Yeah. So, Mannequin isn't a threat." No, he was a tragedy. "Bonesaw usually has some fail safes in place, but I've seen what she's been working on and it's not going to be a problem."

I mean, seriously, prions? I could have countered that with nothing but my chimera creation memories. It was practically insulting.

"As for Burnscar…" I began, but Aisha cut me off.

"Yeah, with you and Tybalt I'm not worried about her." Tybalt smiled a smug kitty grin at Aisha. "But the Siberian? I mean, I know you're invincible, but can you handle her?"

"Him." I said, drawing a confused look from Aisha. "Survey figured it out. The Siberian is a projection. The cape creating her follows the Nine from a distance."

Survey stepped forward, showing a recording of the scraggly bearded man on a floating screen.

"That's the Siberian?" She asked.

"No." Survey said. There was a hint of both frustration and vindication in her voice. "This is William Manton, the master of the projection known as the Siberian."

"Manton like Manton Effect Manton?" Aisha asked.

Survey smiled as the image altered itself, removing the man's beard and altering his hair. It then was displayed side by side with a picture from an academic journal. The resemblance was undeniable, at least at this point and given the amount of effort this had required Survey's frustration was well warranted.

She had resorted to enlisting the Matrix to plant a sensor under a stretch of road that the man was set to drive over. The full medical breakdown had allowed Survey to gauge his age and create more accurate assessments of his facial structure. It had taken a lot of effort to find the match, which wasn't helped by the fact that Dr. Manton fell out of the public eye early in his career. He was supposed to have died, but apparently, he was actually driving a murderous projection alongside the worst capes in the country.

After the amount of work Survey had needed to put into this task no one was willing to argue with her when she insisted on dealing with both Manton and the Siberian when the time came to engage the Nine.

"There's also another member." I said, calling up the picture. "Latest recruit. Cherish, one of Heartbreaker's children. Long range emotional sensing and tracking, short range manipulation. Typically drives her victims to suicide."

"Lovely. Sounds like she fits right in. Anything else I should know?" Aisha asked.

"She's Regent's sister." I said. "And is probably looking to get him killed in the recruitment drive they're using as an excuse for their attack."

"Fuck." Aisha said, shaking her head. "This just keeps getting better and better."

"It's the Nine. There's not really any good here. At least not until we put them down." I explained.

"I get that, but what about after?" Aisha asked.

"That's the fun part." I said with a grin. "The local system and precog strategies limit what I can do publicly, but as long as we can explain things as a reaction to the Slaughterhouse Nine's attack, we can justify just about anything."

I pulled up a map of the country, highlighting sites of past attacks and locations of victims. "After the Nine are done, we end their legacy. It's free rein to treat their victim and repair the damage from their attacks. All of them, everywhere."

The rough plan flickered across the screens and I could see the approval in Aisha's eyes. "And if we've just beaten the Nine, no one is going to question this, much less try to stop us."

"That's the idea." I said with a smile. That smile faltered when I saw Aisha's face.

"What about Jack?" She asked.

"He'll be dead." I said directly.

"Yeah, but after that? Or hell, even before it? Are you going to tell people about what he could do?" She asked.

"I am." I said. "After what the Nine has done, I'm not going to end them quietly in the dark. People need to know that they're gone, and why they stayed around for so long."

"But even if you tell them, even if you can prove that it was all Jack's passenger, it's still going to affect them. Have affected them, or whatever." She explained. "They won't be able to just break out of it like I did."

"No." I said. "This was a special situation, and it took a lot of work to even ensure you were clear."

"Could you do it for everyone else?" Aisha asked.

I blinked. "Do what required a personal planet, Passenger Space armada, and unprecedented memory powers amplified by impossible colors and apply it for every parahuman on the planet?"

"Yeah." She said, "I mean, it sounds impossible, but so did everything leading to this. And if you want to tear down the Nine, that's the best way to do it."

I considered it. Really considered just how far I could push things. How far my reach could extend into the network and just what I could accomplish if I pulled out all the stops.

"Maybe." I said. "But it won't be easy. We'll have to shift focus, delay some objectives in favor of dealing with this, and to even approach that, we'd need to take what we did here and basically make a Superweapon version of it."

"But you can do it?" She asked.

Her eagerness was mirrored by the rest of the team. A true challenge, something that actually pushed the limits of even my abilities. Something that required subverting a significant portion of the network behind parahuman abilities and reversing decades of various degrees of mental influence on every parahuman on the planet, all done in at most a little over twenty-four hours.

"We can try." I said. And if the Nine decided to drag their feet, I would be able to meet them with a prime example of why they should have taken those warnings about three-day old technology seriously.

With that happy matter dealt with, we took a short break to actually introduce Aisha to her new workshop, which mostly consisted of the rest of the team wandering off while I handled the tour and explanations.

"You don't have to manifest here whenever you want something." I explained. "You can set up links wherever you want. Effectively, it's still the expanded purse from the first draft, only it's every purse and you can pull whatever you want from here."

"So anything from the palace, the city, or any of the crazy wilderness places." Aisha said.

"The palace is an amplified extension of your hairclip and the city is the same for your watch. You can coordinate through them to set up more complicated arrangements if you want." I said.

"What nothing for my armor?" She asked.

"Well, I mean, this whole place is your armor." I said. "Technically, it's the outer celestial spheres, but everything here is kind of inside your armor."

"Huh. Neat." She said, "Probably why it feels safe."

"That was the idea." I said. "It's your place to do whatever you want with, but Survey can help if you need to keep track of things, like whatever the duplicates hid in here."

"Yeah, seriously? Dinosaurs?" She asked.

I shrugged. "I think they were trees or something. Trigram transformation can turn any living thing into any other living thing. I mean, they're more Jurassic Park dinos than the scientifically accurate feathered raptors."

"That's fine. Like those designs better." She said with a grin.

"Right. Like I said, Survey can help you set up monitoring and the Matrix is happy to help with any work you need done. You also have some mantic integration already, but they can help you fine tune that."

"Yeah. Do you think the Kerbals would like it in here?" Aisha asked. "I've got the space, and I know they want to practice orbits."

"Um, bit of a problem there." I said. Aisha gave me a confused look. "This place is geocentric."

Aisha turned to me. "What?"

"The planet is the center of the local cosmos. Sun and moon orbit around it, which means you don't have the planet in a solar orbit, which throws things off for space flight practice. The planet also doesn't rotate, which did require some creative engineering for climate and weather patterns, but it means it's harder to launch into orbit, though I guess it's just as easy from the poles as the equator."

"God, I don't know if I should be impressed, or embarrassed that I can follow that." She said, "So what do I do with all this?"

"Whatever you want. Same as my workshop, only it's all for you. Though you might want to practice accessing it. You should be able to pull from any point inside, or access anywhere on the planet. Or beyond the planet. You can also draw people in, but it's probably a good idea to get a sense of where you want to put them."

"No abandoning people in the deserts?" She asked.

"Not unless you have a good reason." I replied. "I mean, you can pull people in en masse and dump them wherever you want, but like I said, it's probably better to practice before you decide to help with any evacuations."

"Yeah, probably a good call. And thank you, seriously, for this." Aisha said. "Both the fluff and the defense part. And I know it's all 'mine', but I could probably use some help with this, if Survey, Fleet, and the Matrix can spare it."

"Well, Fleet did specifically request a rather large stretch of salt flats that's pretty much perfect for land speed trials." I said.

"Of course." She said, stretching her arms behind her. "Well, since this is all mine, I'm taking the opportunity to kick everyone out." She grinned at me. "After all, you can't be late for your date, can you?"

There was another pulse and I found myself back in the magitech workshop surrounded by a group of people who were clearly looking forward to my attending the 'date' far more than I was. I don't know what they were expecting from this, but somehow it seemed more daunting than anything else I had dealt with so far this morning. And worst of all, it was clear there that no matter what crisis might arise or what horror was approaching the city, there was no getting out of this.

I was going to have to leave the Workshop and interact socially with people my own age.

Jumpchain abilities this chapter:

Minor Blessing Apollo - Medicine (Percy Jackson) 100:

For one reason or another you've got a god who cares slightly about you and has seen fit to grant you some minor boon within their domains. Choose one god from any pantheon and gain a minor boon from them. The god will care slightly about you but unless you go on to further distinguish yourself it will be more of a minor interest in your affairs than someone they feel the need to help (Effectively think a diminished version of one ability a demigod might have, think minor ones are stuff along the lines of breathing water, lucid dreaming, or appropriate vague extra senses, useful but nothing especially major). This can be taken multiple times.

Unnatural Skill: Healing (Percy Jackson) 200:

Whether from your heritage or just being that good you've got one particular mundane skill that your feats with border on supernatural. Whether you're a smith on the level of the Cyclopses, a near prescient tactician or a swordsman who is ny unstoppable with a blade your feats will be legendary. You are on a level within your skill such that only other beings of legend can hope to match you. This may be taken multiple times. You may not choose magic but you may choose a particular application of magic if you have it already (so curses, enchanting might work, more specific gets a bigger boost).