"So, is it weird being that tall?" Aisha asked as we walked through the workshop.
The walking itself was entirely optional at this point. Even without my new portal ability, there were numerous magical and technological options for transport, to say nothing of the fact that we could both fly. Still, I was in the wake of therapy and a series of major powers and she had returned after a family dinner. Given how heavy those kinds of things could swing, we both seemed happy for a chance to discuss other matters.
"Not really." I said, looking down at her as the Size constellation missed a connection. "My growth spurt hit me late, so I guess I never really got used to being tall in the first place. This is just more of that."
"Right. If everyone is shorter than you anyway, I guess it doesn't matter if it's by feet or inches." She teased, though I could tell she was craning her neck to be able to speak with me. Still, less disruptive than when I was in full titan form.
"Did you get the update on the rest of my new powers?" I asked.
"The Cliff Notes. Well, Survey's abbreviated report abstracts which she does not enjoy being compared to Cliff Notes, Coles Notes, or any other commercially available summary format." She said, shaking her head. "I promised I'd go through the full report in the computer after movie night. Still, want to share any highlights? Aside from the obvious?"
I checked through both Survey's summaries and her full report. They were as comprehensive as expected, but she had left out any mention of the whole 'people showing up after they died' thing. She had also noted that information was being excluded, but Aisha seemed happy to leave well enough alone. Considering her sudden skill following exposure to the Prismatic Laboratory's impossible colors I would need to actually show her the lab at some point, which meant showing her the souls that I'd been sent from Hell.
That would at least provide some context for why the idea of dead spirits potentially manifesting in my workshop was more of an inconvenience rather than a world-shaking event. I hadn't had a chance to touch on any of the theological stuff that I'd been dealing with during my session with Dr. Campbell. Well, at least I was able to cover the basics, even with the unexpected interruptions. I could save the heavy stuff for next time.
"You mean other than my family tree getting that much more convoluted?" I asked, gesturing down at my new form.
She waved dismissively at me. "I'd given up trying to make sense of that months ago. Comparatively, anyway. So, you really related to a titan? And is it tied in with the whole 'dragon legs' thing, or are your powers just throwing stuff together like it's making an Apeiron smoothie?"
I shook my head. "Really related to a titan. Prometheus, by the way."
"No shit?" She asked. "You get any stuff to go with that? You know, fire powers, or can you regrow your liver or something?"
"I'm pretty sure I have a half dozen ways I could regrow my liver without constant effort, but no. The main thing was how it impacted Dedalus' Student. Other than that, there's the connection and sense of the Earth, and the size and strength, though the bigger part of that comes from Monstrous Strength. The 'dragon leg' power."
"Right." She looked over my altered form. "Not as bad as I figured from the reports. I mean, that's probably the cybernetics and everything, but…"
I shook my head. "A lot of that actually got smoothed out by Titan's Blood."
"Really?" She asked.
I nodded. "In addition to the size change it comes with aesthetic changes based on whatever titan you're related to. From what I can tell, that could get pretty weird."
"But not for Prometheus?" She looked up at me with a confused expression.
"In Greek myths he helped create humanity. I guess he did a bit of the whole 'in his image' thing there. Or maybe he's just less pronounced in terms of divine features. Titan of Foresight, rather than wind or ice or whatever."
"Foresight. I guess that didn't help much with the whole stolen fire and eagle thing." She commented, then saw my expression. "What?"
I shrugged. "I don't have any confirmation on this, but there's a case to be made that he knew what was going to happen, but did it anyway."
"Seriously? Why?" She asked.
"So humans could have fire." I said, lifting my hand and causing a small flame to bloom in my palm. "There's a reason you see Prometheus imagery and metaphor around science and technology topics. It's either someone who tried to grasp something that was beyond them and ended up punished for it, or someone who was willing to take risks and accept consequences for the good of society, even if it cost them personally."
"Huh." She said, "So that's the whole Frankenstein deal? The Modern Prometheus?"
"The Victorians did like their classical imagery." I said with a nod.
"So, any of that apply to you? Grasping too far, or are you going to end up on the mountain for the sake of humanity?" She asked the question in jest, but there was a glimmer of concern in her eyes.
I shook my head slowly. "Literary symbolism doesn't apply to real life. Plus, literal connection to Prometheus. Plus, I've already got the fire he had to steal."
I caused the flames of Hestia to bloom in the air around us. Their warmth and comfort belied the power and destruction they were capable of, but I didn't have to worry about Aisha's safety even as she reached out and brushed a finger against a floating ember. A blessing of the hearth would allow no harm to come to a guest in the home. At least no harm from applications of its own power.
Aisha let out a breath. "I get that, and I don't want to get into the real heavy stuff, but I know the kind of things we're dealing with." She glanced roughly in the direction of my inaccessible Dyson Sphere. "Know it better than most people. Don't get me wrong, it's great having a front row seat to all of this as it rolls out, but it's hard to tell where all this is going to end up."
"You mean on the wider scale? Global and societal issues?" I asked.
She nodded. "I'm not really the kind of person to get caught up in that kind of thing, but once we have things handled in Brockton Bay and once whatever you've been sneaking around about is handled, what's next?"
"You mean the next fight, or what happens once I don't need to keep everything hidden away in the Workshop?" I asked her.
"Assuming it isn't the thing you're keeping secret, I'm guessing the next fight is going to be the Endbringers, followed by whatever that threat from the source of powers is." She ventured.
I nodded. There was still concern over facing an Endbringer, but I was well past the point where it would be an insurmountable obstacle. I was able to both put down an Endbringer and deal with whatever the consequences of that would be. Both in terms of the 'Bad Stuff' that my passenger had warned me about, and the wider social consequences from stepping up and ending a threat of that scale.
In a way, the Slaughterhouse Nine was a dry run for that kind of societal management. It was one that wasn't going to have the global impact that killing an Endbringer would, but it would let me establish myself on my own terms through an act that nobody could contest or reframe. It also meant I could remove a horrible threat from the world and use the act to justify helping a lot of people while maintaining just enough deniability to avoid throwing precog models into chaos.
"Right." Aisha continued. "So, after that, what happens? I mean, I'm guessing you're not just going to hoard everything, but I know how dangerous this stuff is. And that's not even getting into how people are going to react if things change too fast."
"It's going to be complicated." I agreed. "There's no easy way to roll out those kinds of changes. It's going to get messy. Worse, it's going to get political. We can manage it, but it's going to be a lot of managing, not just flying around throwing out presents and hoping things sort themselves out on their own."
"Figures." She said with an exaggerated pout. "Finally get Star Wars and it turns out we're headed for the Episode One senate debates rather than lightsabers and space battles."
"Hey, there'll still be lightsabers. Besides, can you imagine me in a senate hearing?" I said, gesturing to my current form.
She grinned up at me. "Maybe. It would make good television, at least." She paused. "So, about the lightsabers…"
"Yes, you can have one." I said, and saw her face light up. "Normally you'd be getting a safety lecture, but I think you're past the obvious points, and I'm good leaving the rest to Tybalt."
"So, he's going to be my Jedi master or whatever? Will I need to carry him around in a backpack?" She asked.
"Probably not." Though I could see him enjoying that to some extent. "The main danger of a lightsaber is accidentally injuring yourself with it." Well, it was probably safe to say that there were many 'main dangers' of a lightsaber. The real question was whether they applied to you as well as everyone around you. "That's why having the Force was such a big deal, but with your Aura you should be okay."
Aisha glanced to the side. "Uh, do you mean the shielding part or the whole 'detection and danger sense' part?" She asked. "Because I'm not too good with that side of things."
"It'll come." I assured her. "Just like the Dragon's Pulse. The Spiritron Core can already handle emulation for most Ki-based effects. Eventually you'll be able to train Aura in there as well." I smiled. "Tybalt's been working on it. Fully customized environments, optimized to the training type."
Aisha winced. "Sounds about as much fun as his initial Aura training." She took a breath and there was a faint purple shimmer over her body. "You know, you hear about people throwing themselves into stupid situations to try to make themselves trigger. Most of what I've heard about is a couple of steps down from the shit Tybalt put together."
I shrugged. "Demigod of war, remember?"
"I do, but it's easy to forget when he's being all adorable and shit." She said with a grin. "The first time he gets serious out in the field people aren't going to know what hit them."
That was very true, potentially literally. Between his Just Another Grunt power and his initial effect that caused people to overlook superficial traits it was going to be very hard for anyone to maintain an accurate assessment of Tybalt's capabilities, even if he was tearing them apart while in the midst of a berserker rage.
"No question." I agreed as the Capstone constellation passed by.
Aisha looked up at me with a curious look. "Hey, the whole computer training thing? Would that work for Jedi training?"
"Maybe? But it will take a while for it to get to the point where that kind of thing can be simulated." The Spiritron Core was probably closer to a pocket universe than a conventional computer simulation. Actually, there was almost nothing conventional about its simulation, and that was becoming even more the case as my duplicates replaced modular components with items crafted with the benefit of Titan's Blood.
"And Jedi stuff is really just the same as all the other psychic powers? Even the stuff you can give people with the lab?" Aisha asked.
"Sort of. It's the same type of thing, at least." I said. "I didn't have the best understanding of psionics before all this showed up."
"Yeah, well, I imagine that psychic ghost girls are hard to predict." Aisha replied. I slumped slightly at the reference. "Um, you going to be alright dealing with that? I mean, it's kind of a big deal?"
"My power may have pulled the postmortem mental impression of an insanely powerful psychic from another universe and left me as the only point of contact, so yeah, it's a big deal." I replied.
"Is there anything I can help with? Or that I should watch out for? I mean, we kind of had that psi ops thing penciled in for tomorrow, but if it means I'm going to end up having to babysit the psychic ghost…"
Despite the levity of her tone, I could feel how concerned she was over the idea. I remembered how badly it had hit me when I had to deal with the full implications of souls and afterlives. Alma was an outlier, but she wasn't the first dead person I'd had to deal with. Aisha had come back from dinner to find out that ghosts were a thing and we needed to deal with them.
"It won't be a problem." I assured her. "I'm the only one who's connected to Alma. She can perceive other instances of psychic power, but she won't have any link or frame of reference for them. Unless I use that power to start actively teaching you Alma's style of psionics she's not going to have any way of connecting to you."
She sagged slightly in relief, but turned toward me. "It's still a non-zero thing, right? I'm still going from no ghost girls to really low chance of ghost girls."
I nodded. "Psionics aren't really a thing anywhere else in the world. It's what makes them such a serious power. They can also be developed through training, more than parahuman powers can. If you really focus on psionics there's a chance that Alma could notice you and find a way to make contact, but I'm hoping to be able to resolve things before we get anywhere close to that point."
"Right. Right." She said, letting out a breath. "You'd think after Garment, Tetra, and Tybalt I'd be used to this shit."
"Alma isn't exactly joining the team." I clarified. "I just have to make sure she doesn't end up hurting anyone."
Mostly, that would be me, but considering I was both physically and mentally invulnerable there wasn't much chance she could harm me, even by accident. I was more worried about spill over or the possibility that she'd end up manifesting at the wrong time. I was dealing with enough delicate situations without mixing a traumatized psychic ghost into the mix.
"Yeah." Aisha said. "So, that thing about teaching psychic powers? That's based on what happened to you, right?"
"Synchronicity Event." I said. "It ramped up all my psychic powers, or anything close enough to count as psychic. I can do the same thing to other people, but not to the same degree. It would take a few days to attune them, and the power would start at the entry level, but it can be developed and improved with training."
"And that works for anything that counts as psychic right?" She asked, leaning in. "And other types of psychic stuff are mostly safe from crazy ghost girls? Types you could teach people?"
I could tell where she was going. "Aisha, do you want to become a Jedi?"
Her face lit up and I think I might have just hit another 'do you want the unicorn?' moment for her.
"Well, I mean, if we're breaking out the lightsabers we might as well go all the way." She looked up at my face. "What? Is something wrong?"
"Not with Alma." I assured her. "But while yes, I can make you force sensitive, and in a negligible amount of time once the Spiritron Core is fully loaded, this isn't just a powerup. There are implications to using the Force that aren't present with the other types of powers I can hand out."
She blinked. "You mean the Dark Side? There's actually a Dark Side of the Force?"
I nodded. "As far as I can tell, this is actual Star Wars, not something dressed up to look like it." I closed my eyes and felt out my growing connection to the Force. "Pretty much everything they showed in the movies is true. You have to be careful about how you use it, because this is a power that could very easily go astray."
"So you're going to tell me that if I start down the dark path it will forever dominate my destiny?" She asked.
"Basically." I said, then noticed she appeared to be waiting for something. "Okay, fine. Aisha, beware the Dark Side of the Force, because once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."
Considering I had just issued a dire warning about the corruptive nature of a potential power, it wasn't really appropriate for Aisha to be grinning from ear to ear. I gave her a stern look and she reined it in.
"Okay, okay, I got it." She said, "So, assuming we can break out the Force powers, how are we going to head off the whole dark lord thing?"
"A cautious approach is a good place to start, but we can't be second guessing everything to do with the Force." I explained. "Fortunately, the 'Dark Side' concerns only apply to what you do with the Force itself, not general behavior." Aisha nodded. "Like I said, I'm going to be handing this over to Tybalt."
"He can handle that?" She asked.
"Jedi Knights are a martial order. It's part of his portfolio as a demigod." I said. "He at least has a feel for this kind of thing, so he's not going to be starting from first principles like I would be."
Aisha's smile widened. "So, you're going to be his student as well?" I nodded, not sure what she was getting at. "Makes sense. Since you're already all cyborged up you can skip the lava showdown and jump right to the final duel on the Death Star."
I shook my head in amusement. The idea of recreating that scene with Tybalt… Well, I suppose there are worse reasons for building a moon sized space station. I mused on it as the Forge missed a connection to the Magitech constellation.
"Anyway, I guess that's all a ways off." Aisha said with a shrug. "Are things still on track for Tetra? I know the big powers can throw things off."
"They are." I said. I wasn't going to delay after I had committed to a hard deadline. "At least still on for tonight. There were still some final details to nail down, and this power has complicated that a bit. Might take a while to get everything sorted, but we're still on."
"Good." Aisha said. "I'm glad for her." I could tell she was less onboard with this procedure than I was, but was doing her best to be supportive. I had the sense she regretted missing out on when I made bodies for Fleet, Survey, and the Matrix, so she wanted to be there for Tetra, even if the idea of someone being turned into a set of clothing was a bit weird.
Which was something I needed to talk to Tetra about. Not to challenge her decision on this, but Dr. Campbell was right about clearing the air between us. The fight with Lung and the aftermath had been bad and we never really talked about it. To be fair, I had maybe a day of proper downtime since then and at that point the last thing any of us wanted to do was dive into that mess.
It would be good to address that. With the skill and powers I was putting into this, the conversion was a lot less final and limiting than it would have been if I'd done it right after we were separated, but it was still a big deal, something that deserved to be approached as openly as possible.
"It could take a bit of time to get everything sorted. Are you alright till then?" I asked.
"Sure." She said with a grin. "Your copies have been rebuilding everything to super god levels since before I got here. I'm going to go check out the upgrades."
I nodded. "Psi Lab was one of the first things taken care of. We could take care of that tonight, but I'd rather have a chance to get some improvements from the Glove of the East before you do."
"I'm good. Tomorrow's fine. I figure there's going to be enough to deal with tonight." She looked at me and I could tell she was considering something. "Hey, the titan powers let you work with energy right? So, you can duplicate it, like when you work with other stuff?"
"That's right." I confirmed.
"So that energy you need for the Glove of the East…?" She began, but I shook my head.
"Can't use that as a shortcut." I said. I concentrated and drew forth a mote of light from my reserves of spiritual energy.
Taking it in hand, I shaped it between my fingers, drawing it into a long, thin blade. A fencing saber composed of pure spiritual energy. My resource powers allowed me to extend a tiny mote to cover the material requirements for an entire sword. In fact, I had specifically chosen a sword to take advantage of Waste Not, which only applied to weapons and armor.
I showed Aisha the glowing blade. She watched it with wide eyes as I turned it slowly to display the workmanship. Then I drew on my Scrapper power and reduced the weapon to base components. The structure collapsed into a glowing cloud of energy much larger than the initial mote.
"If I want to make things out of spiritual energy I can start with a sliver of it and duplicate as much as I need, but this?" I held up the glowing nimbus of energy contained between my hands. "It's general spiritual energy, not MY spiritual energy. I can't use it for Elven enchanting or to power my Teigu or fuel the Glove of the East. It's like how magical energy can exist in the environment, but unless it's part of my reserves I can't use it for most applications."
She eyed the glowing cloud of energy. "You can't like, absorb it or something? Turn it into a potion or snack bar?"
"Sort of." I said. "It's something my duplicates are looking into, but even then it takes time to reabsorb the energy. You can also let it dissipate into the environment." I said, releasing the cloud. It spread out through the hall, lightly shimmering as it did. "It creates a kind of spiritual area. Good for recovery of energy, but if you push it too far you can start breaking down the division between the physical and spiritual realms."
She nodded. "See, that's the kind of thing that sounds like a bad idea even for people who don't have psychic ghost girls haunting them."
"Pretty much." I agreed. "We might actually be able to make that work with Fortune Energy, but that's got its own problems."
"The 'mortals disintegrate' thing?" She asked.
"In high enough levels that it creates a divine realm." I said. "But mainly, the challenge is actually working with it." I frowned. "I know it can be extracted, but I didn't get any practical skills with that power, just an explanation of what I might be able to do." I shook my head. "Fortune energy can be reabsorbed and it is possible to use it in place of spiritual energy. It'll be huge once I get it down, basically all the fortune energy we could want, I just need to figure out the mechanism."
"I can see that. So, you pulling an all-nighter on that, or handing it off to the duplicates?" She asked.
"I'll see how things go with Tetra. This is going to be a big change for her, so I want to make sure she adjusts alright. My duplicates should be able to handle most of the research. They can also make sure things are prepped for you in the morning." I paused. "Are you sure you're ready for the Prismatic Laboratory?
Aisha let out a breath. "Honestly? Fuck if I know. I thought I was ready for the skull room, but that proved me wrong pretty fast, and I know you've been dancing around that place more than you did with the Laboratorium." She steeled herself and turned to me. "I'll be ready."
"If you think so." I said with a nod.
She raised a hand to her hair clip. "I know that place is a big deal, and the fact that Ren adapted to deal with it…" She shook her head. "I've got to at least see what's in there. See what I can do with this."
"Aisha, you don't need to prove anything." I said seriously. "I know things can get crazy around here, but you don't need to take on any more than you're comfortable with."
She let out a short laugh. "The crazy is part of the problem." I raised an eyebrow. "It's going to be there whether I deal with it or not. Might as well see it from the inside, right?"
I nodded. It was a microcosm of the situation the entire city was dealing with when it came to the Celestial Forge. Crazy and horrible, but better to know what you're dealing with than stay up at night worried about what might be coming for you.
It was why I was being so careful not to upset the thinker models that had been put in place. I couldn't see any major organization not panicking if they realized they couldn't predict us. At least with constant observation of the Slaughterhouse Nine I didn't need to worry about breaking that illusion until I was ready for it.
On that note, I reached out to Survey, checking in on her progress, particularly concerning the new scrying tools.
"I have a few things to check. Are you alright?" I asked.
"Yeah, lots to check out." She turned towards the main space of the workshop. "I think one of your duplicates was building a pyramid out in that open area. Want to check it out for myself."
I smiled at that. "Have fun." I said as she called up her armor again and flew off. Early experimentation with crafting in titan form had examined both large- and small-scale projects.
Fortunately, for detail work I still had the benefit of my micromanipulators. Honestly, they weren't even necessary, considering what was possible with Unnatural Skills: Smith. That skill improved my hand eye coordination and skill with detail work. When it was enhanced with Monstrous Strength to the degree that came with my full transformation I gained more talent for detail than I lost due to the scale of my growth. I could actually handle finer detail work as a titan than I could when human sized.
Large scale works were another matter. I'd shown what was possible with the lava bird, but being able to simply lift and shape huge quantities of materials completely changed the logistics of a project. Add in the speed I already worked at and you could recreate more intricate and refined versions of national landmarks in trivial amounts of time.
That pyramid wasn't just a pyramid. It was anchoring and enhancing ley lines flowing through my Workshop. It was the kind of monument that would have been the work of lifetimes for a magic using civilization and it had been thrown together with less time than a child would have needed to assemble a sandcastle.
I felt a failed connection to the mostly depleted Time constellation as I focused and teleported to the entrance of the Workshop. Even with all the advances in my powers, I couldn't teleport out of the Workshop when the doors were closed. Actually, even when they were open, the privacy screen made it pretty much necessary to use proper entrances. Any workarounds were either going to run into the limits of the curtain, or potentially compromise its protection.
I activated the key terminal and opened a door to Survey's scrying room. Technically it was a heavily warded and expanded back closet of Garment's studio, but functionally it was the greatest concentration of divination tools that ever existed in myth or fiction.
I found Survey working over one of the new devices that the duplicates had built for her. Titan's Blood really did make incredible things possible. Just rebuilding the old tools with the benefit of my new power would have been enough for a significant improvement, but it was possible to go a step further.
Survey's new tools weren't conventional objects, they were masses of energy bound into functional shape. A mirror cast from light, divining rods composed of spatial disruptions, sound condensed and stretched into a membrane, shadow and darkness woven into a map.
"How are the new tools working out?" I asked as I stepped into the room. I had been receiving regular reports from both her and my duplicates, but it was good to be able to see them in action.
"They represent a marked improvement over the previous iteration." She paused. "I do not mean to degrade the quality of your earlier work, but the differences in accuracy, detail, ease of use, and fidelity are all of significant note."
"I'm glad to hear it." I said. "How is the observation going?"
"Connections have been established to each member of the Slaughterhouse Nine." She indicated to the shadow board where eight figures were placed atop a shifting map.
"Each of them?" I asked, looking closer.
"Correct. With the expanded capabilities, it was possible to trace the connection between the Siberian projection and the master responsible." She explained. "There was a process of elimination involved with various candidates, but it was a relatively simple matter to eliminate members of the local population and begin further evaluation of the remaining possibilities."
She removed a figure from the board, causing the lines and patterns beneath it to vanish. Moving it to a large mirror, she called up the image of a raggedy bearded man eating a can of beans in the front seat of an old car.
It was a little hard to accept. This was the Siberian we were talking about. A threat and mystery that had persisted for over a decade. If an unknown villain was responsible for her, you would expect something more than this. I was almost ready to question Survey's methodology when the man raised a spoonful of beans to his mouth, revealing a stylized swan tattooed on the back of his right hand.
"Fuck." I said. Survey just nodded.
"I have begun cross-referencing known individuals with Simurgh exposure, but records have not been well maintained. The tattooing program was relatively short lived and had a poor retention rate. Several agencies were known to have erased records of the Simurgh victims they were responsible for monitoring, rather than admit to losing track of their charges." She explained.
"Which doesn't put us in the best position to identify him." I said, considering the situation. "Does the Nine know he's out there? I mean, there wasn't an indication that they were accounting for anyone else."
Survey shifted slightly. "These tools are capable of certain applications that I have not yet fully mastered. Please understand, while the capabilities of the devices are an unquestionable improvement, their optimal use will take time and practice on my part, despite my best efforts. The 'Hallowed Earth' effect has been most useful in this regard, though I have not been able to…"
"Survey, it's fine." I said. "We're all getting used to the changes." I said, grateful for the higher ceiling in the expanded space. "Just tell me what you've found."
She nodded. "It is theoretically possible to monitor intentions, connections, and mental state through the use of advanced scrying. Though I have not mastered this capacity, I believe that there is no connection or indication of awareness from the majority of the Slaughterhouse Nine. The exception appears to be Jack Slash, though I am not sure the degree to which he is aware of his justification for concealing this detail from the rest of the Nine."
"Probably to prevent anyone from knowing." I said. "This would completely change the terms of engagement against the Nine, and without the Siberian they would be much more limited in the kinds of opponents they could face."
It was possible that, without the Siberian, someone like Alexandria could body the entire team. Still, based on what I had picked up from my passenger, there was something about Jack's power that would prevent that from happening.
I checked over Survey's work. "How are you managing?" I asked. "Do you need to personally monitor everything?"
"Divination attempts are more efficient with my direct supervision." She turned back to the board. "Recent improvements have provided a broader range of data and stable connections to each member of the Nine."
Right. Figures crafted from pure shadow, focused on specific individuals and attuned towards them by someone as skilled as Survey. That wasn't a link that was going to break easily. Hell, it wasn't a link that was ever likely to break. It was closer to a cursed object than a divination tool. I'm pretty sure that with a bit more work it would be possible to create something that was basically a voodoo doll.
Then again, looking down at the board with the potential impacts and possible paths of each member of the Nine being projected around the figures representing them, I had to admit, we weren't that far away from such a thing.
"The observation will require some additional refinement, and the revising of several of the countermeasures being prepared for the Nine, but I do not believe constant observation will be necessary. I will be able to attend Tetra's procedure and see to my other obligations, though for external work I would still prefer to make use of the Replica Droid we discussed."
"That shouldn't be a problem. Garment is going to close out the preparations at the Regency Center after Tetra's procedure. If you have the drone connection ready, we can try things out then." The actual construction time for even a perfect replica was trivial, even if it was the Matrix handling the assembly itself.
"I would appreciate that. Additionally, there has been a contact of note on your public website. I have verified it's authenticity." She said, mentally highlighting the relevant files.
"Thank you, Survey." I said, skimming through Survey's accounts of messages sent through the website.
It was always emotionally wrenching to see what got sent to that site. If it wasn't limited to only be accessible from within Brockton Bay it would have probably been a thousand times worse.
This kind of stuff was easier to ignore when it was buried in the spam, jokes and other nonsense, but Survey had been using her expanded capabilities to verify messages, including requests for medical treatment. She was able to link specific messages to medical cases, including test results and the doctor's prognosis. It would have been a massive invasion of privacy, but considering how broadly Survey spread her net information-wise and how they had been the ones to reach out, either directly or from someone on their behalf, I think it could be forgiven.
'You got into the message logs.' I felt the message as one of my duplicates established a telepathic link. It conveyed emotions and understanding as well as information, which was probably how they picked up on what I was working on.
'Yeah.' I sent back. 'It's as bad as I thought it would be.' I skimmed through the most severe cases. The ones that probably wouldn't last until we were able to act openly. That was just a week away, but some of these were critical. 'We need to do something about this.'
'Do you want to do another stealth healing run?' My second duplicate asked. 'I'm sure Aisha would be down for that.'
'No.' I sent back. 'We were lucky to get away with that the first time. Too many people are looking at Brockton Bay for it to sneak past again.' I checked over the cases. 'We just need to kick this down the road long enough for the other problems to be dealt with. A week or two would be enough.'
'Just enough life support to keep everyone going until we can work openly?' My first duplicate responded, along with his own ideas for a range of options that could be used to accomplish that. 'Actually, it's more complicated than throwing out full heals, but we can manage it.'
'Do you want to extend this beyond the city?' My second duplicate asked, transmitting Survey's accounts of the messages we had received on PHO. 'Because it's basically the same situation out there.'
'That's definitely a bigger job.' I said, reviewing the slew of messages that had flooded my PHO account and eventually those of the rest of the Forge. PHO actually had excellent security, but that didn't matter when it came to Survey. She had been able to identify, verify, and categorize the requests that had come in since I first went online.
'Bigger job, but we're big enough to handle it.' He replied.
It did occur to me that both of my duplicates were currently in their largest possible size, titan form with zoanthrope transformation and manifested familiar. I knew how heady it could get, being that connected to the power of Monstrous Strength. Or it might be more accurate to call it a disconnection. It separated you from the normal limits that would restrain you. From that perspective, it made perfect sense why they thought we could handle it.
And they were right. I skimmed over the suggestions. Talisman magic useing generated shikigamis forged from life energy and assembled with medical instructions specific to each case. Or the potential of using applied fortune energy to tide things over and maybe even trigger a few miraculous recoveries. None of it should be detectable using normal means, and even if someone suspected something unusual was happening, there would be no direct link tying it to us.
At the very least, everyone who asked for help would be looked after. It was the kind of thing I wished I could have done from the start, but I had finally hit a threshold where I could deal with the problem and any problems that were caused by dealing with said problem.
'You can leave it to us.' My first duplicate said. 'We'll get everything in place and coordinate with Survey. You stay focused on Tetra. And the actual message Survey was pointing out.'
The message in question was from Blasto, confirmed and verified by Survey.
It was a pleasure making your acquaintance at Sunday's summit. I understand there may be some difficulty in verifying these messages, but I trust that you have mechanisms in place to address such matters. I was impressed by your handling of the challenges of the summit and appreciate your decision to avoid direct confrontation with the Butcher.
With regards to the matter of the ABB and Lost Garden's presence in the city, I can assure you I do not wish to complicate a difficult situation any longer than necessary. Unfortunately, there are certain obligations that my organization must fulfill before we can conclude our business in this city. I would appreciate the chance to meet with you at any time you find convenient to discuss this matter and hopefully facilitate Lost Garden's departure from Brockton Bay.
The tone was more formal than you would have expected from someone of Blasto's reputation. I remembered from Survey's assessments that it was suspected that he had a medical degree. That came across in the tone, kind of a doctor's note mixed with someone aping Uppercrust.
"The message was sent from a cell phone from a point within one block of the southern border of the I-Field." Survey said, transmitting an exact map of the tower triangularization. "The phone was then fully disabled, likely to facilitate entry into the I-field."
I mused over the situation. The possibility of removing one of the parahuman groups from the city would be worth a meeting, even if I was fairly certain what they were looking to achieve. I considered asking Survey if she had checked on Blasto's location, but she was still maintaining observation on the Slaughterhouse Nine. Well, it wasn't like I was helpless when it came to this kind of thing.
I stepped towards one of the braziers and sparked up a red flame with my mind. Reaching out, I molded the fire into a disk and focused as I looked through it. Despite maintaining her own focus, Survey leaned over to watch my work.
"My aptitude with flame divinization is somewhat limited. I suspect it may be due to my contrary elemental affinity." She said.
I wasn't sure if being attuned to lightning would negatively impact your skill when it came to fire based clairvoyance. It was more likely she was trying to benchmark herself against the literally unnatural firecraft skills that were possessed by myself and my duplicates.
I shaped the fire with all the divine arts available to me, linking it to a point beyond this space, drawing out other points of light, heat, and life to focus on. The image flickered, then settled on a scene of an improvised lab. One set in the back room of a warehouse.
The lights were buds of bioluminescent fungus, but they might as well have been fluorescent for how effective they were. Looking around I saw enough other signs to hint at their location. Certain items missing, or improvised workarounds. I pulled the flame back and confirmed it. They were in the blackout zone.
Survey noted it before I had the chance to speak. "That could be seen as a violation of the terms of the summit."
"It could." I agreed. "But those were about stopping gangs from claiming territory. If Blasto wants to leave the city, then they're hardly staking a claim. Plus, he's probably the only person who could set an effective base inside the zone. It's probably not worth borrowing trouble over this."
She nodded, then highlighted certain items in the image. I focused and drew them closer, revealing the masses of mold-like fibers that Blasto was working on.
"Well." I said as things fell into place. "That's certainly interesting. I bet Tetra would like to see this." I smiled at Survey. "It's clear which side of the argument Blasto would take."
She frowned. "That would merely be due to his lack of access to reactive bio-emulative metals. I am certain that he would not be attempting to emulate life fiber function on a macroscopic scale if more elegant options were available to him."
"Still no luck in talking Tetra around to Cybertonium?" I asked.
"It is the obvious and superior choice. Even with the options presented by precipitated energy forms, the integration of transwarp discharge presents unquestionable benefits, far more than something as restrictive as Stygian Iron." Survey ranted, an atypical amount of emotion in her voice. "Only a single opportunity is present. It is vital that the most optimal choice is made."
"Maybe, but it's still Tetra's choice to make." I said. "She's the one who's going to have to live with it. It's more important to make sure she's comfortable with the decision than ensure it's the best for every possible situation."
Which was also pretty much the point of the coming talk. Which was something I needed to get back to. "We'll reach out to Blasto tomorrow." I said. If we couldn't reach him electronically then maybe we would pay a house call. After all, he did say 'any time you find convenient'.
I was about to break the link when I suddenly spotted Blasto's plans for his fiber creatures. It wasn't really fair to even call them knock off life fibers. At best it was a vague point of inspiration. Reconfigurable fungus lifeforms. Not anything I needed to worry about, but probably an unpleasant surprise for anyone who was expecting more of the same from the tinker. My eyes jumped over the plans, picking out the elements he had used to try to copy the more obvious of Tetra's natural abilities.
"Okay, I'm definitely stealing that." I said, outlining the branching mechanism he had used to address the limits that would normally have prevented attempts to get protein strands to act like Life Fibers.
Survey nodded. "It is a creative workaround to the issues he would have encountered in his attempts to replicate the proposed functions within his specialization."
Tinkers were, of course, bullshit. I had been well aware of that from the point I got my own proper tinker powers. Normally, no matter how much you might want to, you aren't going to be able to copy even the most superficial aspects of something like Tetra through conventional biology. But tinkers don't work in 'normal', and in his attempts Blasto had come up with an adaptive branching system that let him handle reconfiguration on a macro level without the kind of neural complexity that Tetra had.
It was an ingenious solution to a problem I never had, but it was also a feature that I could integrate into Tetra's Kamui form to allow faster reconfiguration and finer detail when emulating technology. Honestly, it was kind of brilliant. Like someone who only had clockwork trying to make a supercomputer and figuring out improvements in computational techniques that someone with access to modern technology would never have considered.
I was beginning to see why tinkers gained so much from working together. Once things settled in the city and once the issues in his cell of the Elite had been addressed I wonder if Uppercrust might want to do a working session? It would be interesting to see what his specialization would come up with when presented with something like element zero.
I was jarred from my thoughts by a connection forming to the Personal Reality constellation. It was a massive cluster from which my power managed to secure two mid-sized motes. I looked to Survey as the information on what had arrived flooded into my head, and the live feeds from the Workshop were provided to her.
I took a breath, then summoned a portal, taking us directly to the Workshop's new housing complex.
I had been aware that the Lofty Loft was intended to be personal space, but that never really clicked. Frankly, there just wasn't much difference between the square of land that sat above the much larger square of land, except for the fact that one looked down on the other.
That wasn't the case anymore. Now the loft's square was occupied by my new 'Housing Complex'. It was an item from the Personal Reality constellation that provided basic housing for me and everyone else in my workshop. In this case that meant Garment, Tetra, Survey, Fleet, The Matrix, Tybalt, and even Aisha.
Normally the accommodations would have been fairly basic. Small bedrooms, shared bathrooms, a simple kitchen and dining room, and a few general-purpose rooms. That would have been the case, except for the larger mote that was secured along with the Housing Complex. A mote called Opulent Housing, and it certainly lived up to its name.
There were three mansions built on the eight-hundred-meter square of the loft. One on each end and one at the center, with each looking over the wider expanse of the main area, including the landmarks and monuments that it had been dotted with. There were rooms for each member of the team spread between the houses, with each 'room' actually being closer to an apartment complex than anything a sane person would want.
They had ridiculously oversized bedrooms, attached seating areas, reading nooks, a complete office, an attached day spa, and an en suite sauna, even for the Matrix, who seemed largely perplexed by the arrangement. The rooms were also immaculately decorated, which is to say nearly to the standard that you would see from my casual work. Each room, actually each house, was personalized to the occupants.
Fleet, Tybalt, and the Matrix shared the house on the freshwater side of the loft, which was a sleek, modern affair. In contrast, the central house had a more classic, regal look to it. It contained the rooms for myself, Survey, Garment, and Tetra. Then there was the house on the salt water side, the smallest of the three and built with direct beach access. It had what could best be described as a pseudo-fantasy design, like a miniature stylized castle, and only one occupant.
"Did your power seriously give me a house?" Aisha asked. The entire group had assembled, with even Tybalt ducking back from the Regency center to see what all the fuss was about.
"It looks that way." I said. "Honestly, I had no idea something like this could happen, or what criteria it uses to decide who gets counted."
The titans had been left out, as had the skulls and the Wishes, though for more understandable reasons. If Aisha was going to be included in this, I was actually glad she had her own space.
"Any reason why I'm all the way over there?" She asked.
"Not that I can tell." I said. "This seems to be reconfigurable to a degree. If there's someone you'd like to share with, I think we can shuffle things around." I shook my head. "I'm not sure how much use any of these are really going to get. Most of us don't sleep, and you don't live here, so I guess you've got a vacation beach house?"
"Yeah." She said, "With a bedroom bigger than my apartment." She said, reviewing the layout on her omni-tool. "Just the bedroom itself, not all the other crap."
I shrugged. "Hey, I'm pretty sure those closets are three times the size of my apartment."
"Yeah, but that place doesn't really count." She said with a grin.
I couldn't argue with that anymore. "Look, everyone's checking out their rooms. Let me know if you want anything changed, or a replicator installed or anything like that. I know you don't live here, but it will be good to have a dedicated space for your projects and other stuff."
"Uh, yeah." She said, looking over the massive house that had manifested. "You know, I had thought about building something like this, once I got better at alchemy. Something just like this. It's kind of freaky how your power pulls that kind of stuff out of nowhere."
I shifted slightly. "Yeah, I get how freaky it can be." I agreed. "Generally I try to keep that part of things to myself, so sorry about the spillover."
She shook her head. "Hey, if your power's going to be doing weird shit, probably better for it to be handing out dream homes than more mythological ancestors."
I grinned at that, then split off to the entrance of the central and biggest of the houses. Garment met me at the door. She was the very picture of excitement. Sure I could have made something even nicer than this, but that didn't stifle Garment's enthusiasm for the sudden arrival of a set of literally opulent buildings.
She rapidly gestured, highlighting all the design elements that stood out and how well everything blended together. There was a fair amount of ground to cover, even just for the first level, with the personal quarters on the upper levels, usually spread over more than one floor. Survey had performed a brief check in person before returning to her scrying, but Tetra was still exploring her room.
"I should have a talk with her." I said. It was probably as good a time and setting as I could hope for. "Is everything set with you?" I asked.
Garment indicated that it was. The final designs were just waiting on Tetra's selection of a material to incorporate into her fibers. With the charity event, she had a largely finalized guest list and a full schedule of events. Parian had provided a breakdown of her contribution as well. While the tone didn't perfectly match the rest of the event, Garment had managed to adjust some of the other elements to account for that.
I was quickly skimming through the notes while preparing for my talk with Tetra when I found a name in her list of staff. Her models, to be specific. Immediately, alarm bells like nothing else sounded through my brain. It was so severe that I was convinced it had to be a false alarm, something that my passenger was mistaken about.
Pulling up more information only confirmed things. Massive threat, no question. Not physical danger, but something that absolutely, unquestionably needed to be addressed. Frantically, I reached out to Survey even as I performed my own searches. I needed to deal with this.
The Resources and Durability constellation missed a connection as I made my preparations. For the moment, Tetra would have to wait. I moved up to my own room and began shifting back to my human form. Right now, I had to call Taylor.
Taylor sat with her father at the kitchen table sorting through grainy printouts of the 'photos' she had taken earlier that day.
Emulating the resolution of a cell phone camera hadn't done the documents any favors, and being printed out by their perpetually low-ink family printer only made things more difficult, but her watch had managed to ensure that everything was at least initially legible. Not that it seemed to help much, considering how densely worded the documents had been.
"Dad, I'm sorry for not telling you about my phone." She said.
Her father took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes before shaking his head. "No, I'm glad you had one, and not just with this." He said.
It had been explained away as a way of keeping in touch with her friends, a recent purchase she had gotten a good deal on. With the state of the city, he hadn't responded with anything but relief.
"For these, it looks like it was what your principal said. You have school and medical records, and a signature confirming they were yours. You weren't agreeing to anything or even giving an official release." He said, pointing to parts of the pages he had marked in red.
"Then why did they want me to sign them so badly? And why wouldn't they let me take them with me?" She asked.
"I don't know." He shook his head again. "This doesn't make sense." He flipped some pages. "There's a routing code here for government departments, but I've never seen this prefix before."
"Is someone new looking into my case?" She asked.
"Maybe. But I don't know why they'd be going through the school for that, or why the school would be releasing this information in this way." He let out a sigh. "I'm going to keep going over this. I might be able to look into it tomorrow, but if they try to get you to sign anything else I want you to call me." He said. "You can use Kurt's number. I've been working with him on the recovery, and he stays outside the blackout zone to coordinate things."
"I will Dad." She assured him. In truth, she was feeling even less certain about this than when she had first presented the pictures to him. She figured it would either be nothing, some standard thing that she was blowing out of proportion, or evidence that Winslow was trying to pull something shady.
Instead, it was a weird middle ground. A pile of seemingly deliberately opaque documents that didn't even pretend to be comprehensive. It was like they were only seeing one side of the story, and that concerned her.
She didn't need this now. Sure, there was the distant hope that somehow, things might get better. Some agency had finally started investigating things and was ready to come down on the Trio, the school, hell, the entire district for all she cared. But that wasn't the kind of thing that happened in Brockton Bay. It certainly wasn't the kind of thing that happened when the city was crawling back from a massively destructive cape conflict that had devastated the same departments who would have looked into a case like hers.
Something was very wrong here, and she didn't even know how to start unraveling it. Well, no. She did. She could step up her monitoring efforts. Focus more on hearing through her bugs. Monitor what was being said in the office and piece this together one scrap of information at a time.
But time was the problem. She didn't have time for this. Things with the Undersiders were coming to a head. The opportunity to catch out the administration was incredibly tempting, but it didn't hold a candle to her mission. Not when she knew how important it was.
"Video call from Joe."
The electric voice of her watch was conveyed through the force field, only audible to her, which she could tell by her father reacting to her reaction, not to the sound.
"Something wrong?" He asked.
"No." She said, "I think I'm going to take a break. Go upstairs for a bit."
"If you want to turn in, I'm fine down here." He said, turning back to the pages. "Just a couple more sections I want to copy out."
"Maybe." She said, "I'll check in later."
He nodded and she did her best not to rush up the stairs. She grasped at her swarm for support, steadying her breathing and heart rate as she quickly closed the door to her room.
"Answer call and engage silence field." She said quickly, raising her watch.
The familiar floating screen appeared showing Joe the way she remembered seeing him. Not the imposing figure from the summit with gray hair and a glowing red lock. She had to wonder, was that him changing his shape to be more intimidating, or was this him changing his shape to be normal?
It seemed like the kind of thing she could ask, but they hadn't spoken since the summit. Not since his team had premiered. As much as she wanted to know about them, she had to focus. She was too close to let everything fall apart now, not after everything it took to get this far.
"Joe, is anything wrong?" She asked quickly. A million horrible possibilities jumped into her head, including Joe's warning call right before the Ungodly Hour.
"No." He said firmly. "I just came across some information and I needed to talk to you about it."
She had begun to relax, but his words caused her tension to ratchet up again. "What kind of information?" She asked.
"I was doing some unrelated research and I came across a name. Um, you know how my thinker power gives me warnings about stuff?" He asked. She nodded. "That's what happened here. I don't think it's a serious threat, or at least not a physical threat, but it's something specific to you."
She leaned forward from her seat on the edge of her bed. "What did you find?" She asked.
"Do you know a girl named Emma Barnes?" He asked.
She blinked. Then she blinked again. Her mind was taking a while to catch up with the situation. The best she could manage was a stifled "What?"
"Emma Barnes." He said again. "She was in your class until eighth grade and also goes to Winslow High."
"I know her." She said briskly. "What about Emma?"
"I'm not sure." He said. "My thinker power says it's something serious, but I've been looking but can't find anything. Decent academic record and no disciplinary action or even complaints."
"What does… wait, no complaints? Like, none at all?" She asked.
"Nothing in the system. I haven't checked hard copies of records, but that's kind of a last resort." He explained. "The only thing that stands out was an incident from two summers ago."
"Why are you…" Taylor's train of thought derailed itself. Two summers. The summer after her mother had died. She had left for camp and then Emma had stopped taking her calls. And then, when she got back… "What happened?"
He looked a little uncomfortable. "Okay, this isn't stuff I'd normally share, or even seek out, but what I'm getting says this is serious, so I'm making exceptions."
"I understand. What happened?" She asked, her voice becoming harsher.
Joe took a breath. "It was in August of two thousand nine." Matching exactly with the time Emma had stopped taking her calls. "There was a lot of unrest that summer. I don't know if you remember it…"
"I was at camp." She said quickly.
"Right. Well, there were clashes between the Empire and ABB, and they escalated pretty badly. Emma and her father were attacked by a group of ABB. Street level, unpowered, but you know."
She nodded mechanically. "What happened?"
"I'm just going by incident reports, but it's listed as a carjacking, theft, and attempted kidnapping." He glanced to the side. "With the ABB, attempted kidnapping means…"
"I know. I saw the information you released to the news." It was stuff that was suspected, but never confirmed in the level of detail that had been released after the Ungodly Hour.
He nodded. "Okay. There's not much else to go on. There were arrests. Assault with a deadly weapon, pleaded down to lesser charges. Incident had the intervention of an unknown cape. Not in the report but I can probably figure out who." He seemed to be skimming through information in his head. "There wasn't much else. Refused to testify. Police statements came from her father. Appointment was made with a therapist, but not attended. Family paid the cancellation fee, and no follow ups, even with other therapists."
Joe seemed focused on that point, but for Taylor she could barely think. Just watch as things slowly fell into place. Suddenly she had the 'why'. That one burning question that had consumed her for the past two years.
Why had Emma changed? Why had she betrayed her at every turn? What reason did she have for making her life miserable?
It was like getting to the end of a mystery novel and finding out that all the intrigue had the most mundane reason imaginable. No deep plots or grand philosophy. None of the intricate theories she'd spun when trying to figure out why her life was being destroyed.
Emma had been attacked by the ABB. She had taken it badly and decided to make it everyone else's problem. Maybe Taylor would have had some sympathy two years ago, but now?
Now she was just exhausted. In a way it was disappointing. Emma wasn't evil, she was just broken. Well, at this point she was probably both. Taylor still hated her, but now she could see things in a different light. Everything she had been through, before and after becoming a cape, she was better than that. Stronger than that.
She still hated Emma, but she could pity her for her weakness.
"Taylor? Taylor?" Joe asked.
"Yes?" She said quickly.
"Are you alright?" He hadn't said anything, but it was clear he knew something. He'd need to be blind not to. "Is there anything I can do? I can look into things further, or monitor her if you want?"
"No." Taylor said. "No, she's not important." From his expression it was clear he didn't believe her. "It's fine. Thank you for telling me this, but you don't need to do anything else."
"Alright." He said cautiously. "Just, let me know if there's anything I can do."
"I will. And thank you." She said, When the call ended she sagged with relief. She felt burned out and empty, but also lighter than she had in years.
She had the 'why'. It was a stupid why, but really, could she have expected anything more from someone like Emma? Before this, based on the version of the girl she had grown up with, she'd like to imagine she could, but the last two years had taught her better.
Having the 'why' was important. More than just an explanation for the hell she had been through. It grounded everything. The kneejerk response of 'Emma wouldn't do that' suddenly fell away. Emma would do that, and she had the reason why.
She could talk about this. Suddenly, it wasn't an impossible story she'd have to fight to get anyone to believe. She didn't even need to mention what Joe had told her. Just knowing it was enough. Knowing there was something there that she could point to, that an explanation, an inciting incident actually existed.
She was angry, but that was better than the fear and frustration she'd been swimming in. And her father was downstairs, working to help her with whatever the school was trying to pull. She knew she should probably hold off, sleep on this and make the decision with a clear head, but that had never done her any favors in the past. She needed to move while she still had the conviction to follow through.
She left her room and hurried down the stairs. Her father was still at the kitchen table, pouring over the printouts of the documents that Winslow had tried to force on her. It was enough steel her conviction.
"Dad?" She called out.
"Yes Taylor?" He said, looking up. "Something I can help you with."
She swallowed. Suddenly this seemed like a much more imposing task than she imagined. Still, she braced herself and forced the words out.
"I need to talk with you. About Emma."
Jumpchain abilities this chapter:
Housing Complex (Personal Reality) 200:
Having space for all your Companions and Followers can be tricky. Sure, you could pay to have some houses built, but with this option you and each Companion and every child of yours or of a Companion gains their own bedroom. Every three bedrooms gain a full bathroom and your bedroom has a master bath. It's not luxurious by any means, but this house (or houses) have 1 kitchen & dining room, 2 half baths, two general purpose rooms (offices, living rooms, game rooms), a few of small closets, and a pantry for every 6 people. Individual rooms tailor themselves to the general likes of the individual and come with basic but not quality furniture. Companions who decide to share a room can cause their rooms to merge to create a larger room, but each basic room defaults to 4 meters by 5 meters by 3 meters. Non-bedrooms are on the small side but large enough to function. Floors are basic linoleum and walls are basic low grade paint. Appliances and fixtures are pretty bare bones and the walls are little more than plywood and wood frame. The bedrooms don't have closets. Any other Personal Reality Extensions can be made part of the Housing Complex or kept separated. Each house must have a kitchen. That's the rule. No more houses than total number of kitchens. A house may, of course, have more than one kitchen.
Opulent Housing (Personal Reality) 300:
This Housing Complex Upgrade does everything that Luxury does and does it better. Rooms are frankly too big, fixtures and furniture are all unique handcrafted pieces, the walls have murals, the floor mosaics… everything isn't just top of the line, it passed that miles back. High Ceilings, beautiful feng shui, custom decor for each room… huge closets. Additional Rooms generated every three persons. All Bedrooms are now Master Bedrooms and come with ensuite saunas, day spas, and personal office with reading nook. If you have an incremental purchase scheme, you do not get a refund if you bought Upscale Housing or Luxury Housing first. Opulent does not require Upscale or Luxury to be bought first.