Okinawa was sinking.
It began slowly, barely perceptible at first, but soon one could see the island rumble, throwing up waves around its coast.
And then you could see it slowly sinking, even as the newslady grew frantic, and heroes and villains together did their best to slow the collapse down and evacuate those inhabitants who had yet to be evacuated.
“Why the fuck is the island sinking!? She didn’t use any uber-power before she vanished, right?” asked Dalia with some exasperation.
Basil squatted down, folding his fingers in front of is face to think. Then he looked up at the video feeds again. “The power she used to twist the buildings – it must have reached downwards just as quickly. Judging from her position… I’d say it reached about one-thousand-and-nine-hundred-and-fifty metres into the ground… more than enough to compromise the foundations of the island. It just took some time for the damage to spread further and have it break down.”
They both fell silent, just in time for them to see Fleur use her power to try and delay the collapse, her ‘garden’ spreading out much like DiL’s ‘Desolation Field’ did, a sphere formed by a green-and-pink haze.
And once again, we see the difference between an S-Class metahuman and us mere mortals, thought Basil with some sour grapes in his thoughts. Sometimes, he thought he’d have preferred to just get a straightforward superpower like that of Fleur or Lung Moo or Sky High or the Boogeyman or even Defender, boring though the latter’s power might be.
Tears in reality opened above and below water from which giant, no, titanic trees emerged, shoring up the crumbling foundation of the island.
“Doesn’t look like she can stop it,” said Dalia.
“No way. Holding up an entire island like that? Weisswald may have been able to do that, create enough trees to stabilise it. But Fleur is far, far more limited than he was – for one, her trees are not permanent, they cannot exist outside of her ‘garden’.”
“A shame,” she replied, without her usual snark at his exposition. “It’s funny, though, don’t you think? How they all use spheres?”
His gaze turned from the news feed to look at her. “What do you mean?” he asked, momentarily confused… then he started making the connections.
She continued. “DiL, the Savage Six, Fleur, Defender, they all…”
“They all work with territories.” He stood up from his squatting position and went to the closest keyboard, moving the news feeds aside to the left end of the screen to call up several older recordings.
DiL’s Desolation Field at Okinawa, of course. Followed by Fleur’s Garden, Defender’s… Defender Field (he had no imagination), the Boogeyman’s Metaphobia, Sky High’s Heroic Wind (he had too much imagination), Heretic’s Pocket Dimensions (the latest one had stolen Osaka two days ago – Japan had no luck lately, with the Six in Osaka, DiL in Okinawa and the Kaiju attack on Tokyo)…
“Not spheres, that is just the form, the shape… they all have territories, fields within which their powers work… and not just them. Lady Light’s Aura, Cataclysm’s Domino Field. Most god tier metahumans with outwardly aimed powers have effects that evoke the sense of a territory, an area around them which they can affect with their powers.”
“You think there’s a reason for that?”
He nodded, writing these thoughts down. “There has to be. There are so many themes that are repeated among metahumans, and this one seems to be another one.”
He looked directly at her, throwing her a wry look. “You really sell yourself short, usually. You are far more perceptive than one would think from your usual behaviour.”
She snorted, then smiled. “Don’t tell Liki, she’d have a heart attack.”
“Ha, tru- You call her Liki?”
“Drives her nuts. She’s so easy,” she explained with her trademark leering grin.
He just shook his head. Mostly because he realized that she’d just managed to distract him from the tragedy onscreen, if only shortly. And she might not have noticed it. Full of surprises, she is.
They both turned back to the newsfeeds, just in time to see a close-up of Fleur.
“That chick is so hot,” commented Dalia.
Basil had to admit that Fleur was very pleasing to look at. She was tall, even for a metahuman, somewhere between one-eight and one-ninety, with fair but slightly tanned skin, bright green hair, light pink eyes and an elf-like, slender body (and pointed ears). She didn’t so much wear clothes as she had flowers and leaves grow around her body, winding and twisting to form a dress that ended at her mid-thigh in front, but hung down to her ankles on the back, and exposed a good deal of her back. She had more flowers grow in and out of her hair, but wore no mask (only some subtle make-up) and was barefoot as well.
Currently, she was atop a piece of rock floating above Okinawa, together with the metahuman responsible for levitating said rock – her younger brother, Terre (a legacy hero, the fifth of that name).
“She is good-looking, yes. Also, did you notice that her trees a-“
“Oh God, you see an essentially naked super-hottie and you think about her trees? You really are hopeless – poor little Prisca…”
He snorted at her.
* * *
About half an hour later, Okinawa was gone, sunk beneath the waters of the sea.
According to what little information was available at the time – the situation was quite chaotic – more than sixty percent of the civilians on Okinawa had been evacuated in time. The rest…
Also, as was usual for a DiL-Attack, the secondary consequences were often far worse than the initial ones (barring Caracas and a few other notable disasters). Fleur, later boosted by Lady Light and supported by the Dark, as well as aided by several hydro- and terrakinetics, had slowed the collapse of the island, allowing it to sink beneath the waters without causing a tidal wave… only for the support of the island crumbling almost instantly the moment their endurance was exhausted, the moment their powers failed.
The resulting tidal wave had already devastated the Ryoko and Okinawa Islands, and would shortly hit the Japanese, Korean and Chinese mainlands. Worse yet, though, was the chain reaction started by this – three more islands had sustained critical damage to their foundations and threatened to collapse, too.
“This… this is one of the really bad ones, isn’t it?” asked Dalia, her tone subdued as she watched the images on the screen.
Basil, once again squatting, his forehead on his folded hands, replied without looking up: “Yes. And she did not even have to build her power up – she just used what she had intelligently.”
“How? She’s not smart, that’s supposed to be her only real weakness!”
He had thought about that, and was pretty sure he had figured it out. “Invulnerability, flight and the devouring light that sticks to her hair and nails are her standard powers. There is also a theory that she has another permanent power, some manner of enhanced perception maybe, but her immunity to perception effects has prevented any deeper analysis. Apart from those, she usually has three powers, one offensive, one defensive and one for utility. Only, during the final phase, she only had that one offensive power, the matter animation effect. Or so it seemed.”
“You think she had another perception power, stacked onto the one she’s supposed to always have? And what was the defensive one?”
He shook his head, again without looking up. “She does mix it up sometimes. And we know from Gloom Glimmer, who seems to have an almost identical base power, that perception effects take a tremendous amount of potential to manifest. And that animation effect was far more intense from the very beginning than her usual offensive effects. She probably split the potential that usually goes into added defense between offense and utility.”
They both fell silent, watching the tragedy unfold.
* * *
An hour later…
Dalia had gone to sleep before school (she needed far less sleep than a normal human, though she was not sleepless), chosing to stay at the lair and sleep in what was supposed to be the emergency bedroom, but was quickly becoming her bedroom.
Basil himself went back to work – no reason to stop work on his new grappling hook system. Until he found a way to fly reliably (and without half a ton of extra equipment), swinging around the city was the most efficient (well, most fun) mode of transportation.
It took him another two hours of work. It was not that he had to invent anything anymore, it just was a lot of very fine, very delicate work he could not outsource. The bane of every gadgeteer, they had phenomenal technology at their disposal, but most of them could neither explain their work to others, nor find a way for easy mass production – even building a manufacturing machine from scratch rarely worked out (you’d need a speciality just for that to make that alone work).
Maybe that could explain why no one had built a space elevator yet. Basil at least had already figured out how, he just could not work out an execution of the plan that would not require him to work on it for years by himself.
Of course, the fact that he saw his designs in pictographs made it difficult to translate it into something normal people could work with. And as far as he knew, it was worse for others – Hotrod was supposed to see his designs all as stylized gears and other machine parts and Polymnia had once commented that she heard her designs as melodies and symphonies.
It would be really interesting to learn how Sovereign or this Macian perceived their designs.
By the time he was done, he had to fight to stay awake, but the new system was complete – well, half of it – and he still had to go to school. So he jumped under the shower, dressed, grabbed his backpack and ran off to take the bus.
* * *
We need laws to protect children from school.
He was walking into the hospital as he thought that, on his way to visit Prisca. Thankfully, with his power, he didn’t have to put any effort into the science classes, and everything else was quite trivial for him. But still, he had not slept for more than fifty hours now, and he did not think he would sleep anytime soon, either – too many ideas, too much to do.
If the ‘Blazing Sun’ was actually the manifestation or personification of his power, than he could finally understand why it had that name. More and more, he felt like there was a light behind his eyes, pushing, burning, illuminating. The only way to alleviate it was to use it. To make something.
So, after he met with Prisca, he’d finish the second half of his new grappling hook system, then catch up on sleep. No patrol tonight for him. He needed to recover.
I wish I did not need to sleep anymore.
He reached Prisca’s room – and heard giggling from inside. Two girls, giggling. He couldn’t remember hearing Prisca giggle before.
Not quite thinking about it, he just pushed the door open without knocking. “Hi, Prisca, who is your… friend…”
Prisca was looking at him, surprised, in her usual position on her bed, and with the tablet he had constructed for her in her lap.
The second set of giggles cut off abruptly. It had come from the tablet.
“Eudocia…” he growled, closing the door behind him. This had not been a part of his plan.
<Uh, hi dad. How are you doing? You don’t look too good, maybe you should go home and sleep… forget about everything…>
Despite only having a rather monotone, electronically generated voice, she still managed to sound like a little child caught trying to snitch cookies from the cookie jar.
Prisca gave him her best attempt at a cute smile, but he had practice dealing with those looks. “Don’t be angry at her, I tricked her into revealing herself,” she said when she saw him scowl.
“Quiet, please.” He pulled out a few gadgets and checked the room for eavesdropping equipment. Then he set up a white noise generator, that should confuse most mundane recording equipment. “All right, now I know that Eudocia is smart enough to not be tricked easily, especially in regards to revealing her true nature. I am not angry, not really, just tired. So please, just explain.”
<Well, we were playing a game, and I was also watching two movies she’d given me…>
“And I asked her a few questions about them…”
<And I answered as thoroughly as I could…>
“Which I found strange, because she answered like a human, not a machine…”
<So she started asking questions about that, and well, I didn’t want to outright lie at her, so…>
“I kept needling her until she couldn’t evade my questions anymore, and she told me the truth.”
Basil sighed, sitting down on a stool.
“Well, so much for the experiment,” he complained, rubbing his temples. He was really too tired for this. “No matter. Just do not tell anyone about her, alright?”
Prisca nodded, probably understanding the situation.
“Do not call me father.”
Prisca giggled while Basil groaned. Then she pouted, even though her thin, cracked lips did not lend themselves to it.
“So, why does my boyfriend come in here, when he forgot our last two dates, and just talks about a computer?”
He flinched. “Sorry, sorry.” Standing up and bending forward, he pressed his lips onto hers, a short, but passionate kiss.
When he pulled back, he smirked at her. “But I am pretty sure I forgot only yesterday’s date.”
She frowned at him. “No, we were supposed to meet on Wednesday as well, for movie night.”
Now it was his turn to frown. “Really? I honestly can not remember.” He tried to remember, but he really couldn’t tell what he had been doing at the time. “Actually, I can not remember what I did at that time, at all.”
Now she looked concerned. “Why could that be? You never forget anything!”
He shook his head, confused. “No. I just have a better memory than most. And I have been…” Again, he shook his head. “No matter. I will deal with whatever is going on myself. Let us enjoy ourselves for now, alright?”
“Are you sure? This sounds pretty serious.”
He nodded. “I will handle it, promise.”
She nodded, too, conceding the point. Then, he pulled the stool over next to her and sat down.
* * *
He looked down at the restaurant, then shook his head. What? Where am I?
Assessing the situation, he got bits and pieces of his memory. Full armor. He looked at the two boxes at his hips. Full new grappling hook system. Stun gun, batons.
He looked around. Tyche and Hecate where to his left and right, each with full equipment, and currently using binoculars to scout the place out.
Right. The Black Panthers. They’ve been moving a lot of merchandise and capital lately. Hit a minor hideout to get info on them.
What did he know of them again? Black Panthers. Started as a violent pro-civil rights group. Lost traction when King survived his assassination by manifesting metahuman powers. Devolved over the years to a simple, if powerful crime gang – not even exclusive to people of African-American descent anymore. Current leader supposed to be a major morpher, but no other details known.
And they were going to declare war on them tonight.
We really need a teamname.