Sep 17, 2019 4:08 PM
Sadde and Bell in Worm
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They really are! But they're significantly more flammable than your garden variety penguin, what with all the wood.

They keep self-duplicating as fast as they can consume matter, even consuming their own dead, and mutating whenever they do, with most changes useless or worse: some monkeys born with an extra digit, an extra arm, an extra head, differently-colored fur, slightly taller, slightly shorter, only one eye, dead, but mutate they do.

And yet, fire continues to consume them. The Glams switch to fire suppressors, making sure it's only the monkeys that get burned instead of the whole zoo, and the heroes continue tearing through them.
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Bots, at Lorica's instruction, start paying attention to making sure the dead monkeys are actively on fire and therefore unappetizing to eat. Others help Glams contain the flame.

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Burn eat duplicate mutate burn eat duplicate mutate burn burn burn eat duplicate-

-mutate-

-eat. It's one monkey, eating a burnt comrade and then duplicating, and then both monkeys are eating burnt comrades and the fire isn't doing anything.
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"We've got flame-resistant monkeys, if you've got other tricks concentrate force there," says Lorica, and bots shine a spotlight on the lineage. "Don't let them eat anything! Glam, foam sprayer some bots!"

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Glam provides foam sprayers and switches to laser guns. Armsmaster burns the remaining few monkeys around himself and gets his halberd, using its sharp blades and metal balls to tear through the ranks of the hybrids.

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Foam sprays on the flame-resistant monkeys. Drupe, who wasn't using fire to begin with, beats feet towards the site and applies plant control.

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Plant control is useful! While the monkeys can resist it some because they're not completely plants, it still limits how fast they can go and how much they can spread. There aren't that many flame-resistant monkeys, anyway, and they're susceptible to more mundane forms of extermination.

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And now there are zero flame-resistant monkeys. Well, one that isn't going anywhere because it's foamed.

The force un-concentrates and burns the other monkeys.
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And fire continues being an effective weapon against the other ones, until they're all dead or foamed. None seem to have even attempted to escape.

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And now it's cleanup time. Well, that's not the capes' job, although the bots don't mind helping the PRT.

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And Glam can spare a few bot-controlled copies with appropriately conjured cleaning tools to help, too.

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News spreads. Self-duplicating creatures in Brockton Bay. An explanation to the mystery of the missing pets. Did the Protectorate know? Who's responsible for this? Was this engineered, or the result of an out-of-control cape? What are the heroes going to do about it?

In a word: panic.

High-profile heroes give statements about measures being taken and about how the Protectorate's on top of it already. They know the culprit: a tinker named Blasto, specialized in plant hybrids, current whereabouts unknown. The Protectorate reassures the population that, should it be found that Blasto's actively creating out-of-control, self-replicating minions, they will do everything in their power to stop him, including placing him on the list of most wanted parahumans, a spot he'd share with people such as the Slaughterhouse Nine.

It is implied but not said that the kill order would be part of the deal.

In order to demonstrate how seriously the Protectorate takes this matter, robots controlled by an artificial intelligence that has been used on battles against Endbringers will be roaming the city twenty-four/seven, concentrating on the downtown areas where the latest sightings have occurred, but being spread around every district.
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Lorica gratefully turns her attention to matters other than the cloaking device. Robots fly loose, looking around. If civilians address them they will even pause to make polite small talk and then move on.

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Not very many civilians do, at first, but some, and the reaction is at least somewhat positive.

Over the next couple of days, there are no new sightings of any creatures with more plant in them than usual. And after recording a webisode where they finally show their ability to create copies, Glam floats over to Lorica's workshop. Knock knock!
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A bot opens the door. Lorica's having lunch. "Hey you."

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"Hi, love. How're you?"

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"I'm all right. Amused by the PR spin on my bots."

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"Yeah, I saw that. But hey, it frees you from looking into cloaking!"

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"It does, I was getting almost nowhere with that, it was so frustrating."

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"How does it work anyway?"

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"You mean besides 'badly'? You really want me to try to explain you tinkertech?"

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"No, I mean, how do you convince your power to give you a cloaking device? Not the details."

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"Oh. My power will cough up most things if I give it enough levers for software rather than a human operator to push. I got it to work at night because light conditions vary a lot more meaningfully at night - so I could have a setting for flying under a streetlight and various levels of light pollution and moon phases and stuff - and I was trying to convince it that 'daylight' was a valid setting but didn't get anywhere. And it didn't work very well because I didn't want it deciding when to be invisible, I needed to be able to guarantee that it'd just stay that way, and I didn't think they'd find 'it will probably usually judge that it is correct to be invisible' would fly."

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"Couldn't you do that and then not tell them?"

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"It's not that uncommon that the bot makes a decision that I wouldn't have known to authorize in advance. That's okay if it's just making tactical choices but it's a problem if it catches me in a lie about my design."

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