Interlude 9 – Worlds Adrift

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The Protectorate, Great Britain, 2012

“Brought you breakfast!” Pete shouted as he walked into the room, making her jump in her seat.

“Jesus, Pete, can’t you knock?” Mandy shouted, already feeling frustrated. He never learned. Ever since Desmond had been sent away – inevitable, really, but still a shame – Pete had suddenly decided to woo her. And while she wasn’t generally against having a good man wooing her, Pete… did not understand how to properly treat a lady.

“Aw, come on sweetheart, don’t be mad! Here, I brought you your favourite breakfast.” With a wide, boyish grin (he sure didn’t look like his twenty-four years) he put a tray of food onto an empty part of the console in front of her. It was loaded with turkish sausage, pan-fried to spicy red perfection, warm garlic bread and a hearty mixed salad.

Pete was a firm believer in the theory that the way to any heart was through the stomach (not a bad idea) so he’d quickly found out what she liked to eat (a little creepy, since he hadn’t asked her, but sniffed around) and now regularly brought her her meals, especially when she was pulling a night and early-morning shift (very handy, but also really annoying).

Unfortunately, her traitor of a stomach decided just then to make hungry noises (she hadn’t eaten for more than twelve hours, apart from a few donuts), which only made him grin even wider (why didn’t his head just fall off backwards?) and made her blush and turn to the food, swiping her strawberry blond hair out of the way.

No reason to let it go to waste.

“Thanks. But you really should knock next time,” she said in between two mouthfuls. Dammit, she wasn’t even angry or frustrated anymore.

His feeding-her-until-she-falls-in-love-with-him gambit seemed to be playing out well, and there was nothing she could do about it.

“Anything happen?” he asked her after a while of her quietly eating.

“Believe me, everyone here would know if something happened. I’d be pounding the big red button.”

He chuckled, which again made him seem younger than he was. “I guess so. Man, doesn’t it freak you out sitting here all the time, watching… him?”

They both looked at the monitor wall, and she knew what he meant. Ever since what had happened to Desmond, the board of directors had gotten really nervous and redoubled safety measures. No one knew how the Protege had reached him to cause such a reaction. Then again, compared to his other powers, it was really quite trivial.

But just the fact that he had acted… everyone was freaking out. If he woke up, truly woke up in a way they couldn’t keep secret, it might spark world war three. It was the last thing they needed.

“I guess… it’s not him who’s freaking me out, but everyone else. How they’ll react. We almost had a world war before he shut himself off, and now…”

“Situation’s just amazingly strained right now, I know. So let’s just hope n-“

A high, whining sound slammed into them, knocking them off-kilter.

“Wha-?” Mandy almost fell off her chair. Her head was ringing, her vision blurred. She pushed the button by sheer reflex, and then she did fall off her chair.

By the time she came back to her senses, Pete had done so, too, and was helping her up.

They looked at the monitors, expecting… something. But Ember was sitting where he always did, apparently unaffected by whatever had knocked them out.

Then again, he could probably walk on the sun without even getting a sunburn.

Still unable to hear anything, Mandy pushed a few buttons and switched half the screens to look at the defensive lines of the Protectorate – and her blood ran cold.

The Protectorate was under attack.

A group of metahumans, all capable of flight had smashed into the South-Eastern section of the perimeter… the second wall, to be precise. The first one was untouched, and they were already pushing through towards the third one.

The group was pretty much split in the middle. Half of them wore nondescript skintight black suits with heavy, featureless helmets, decked out in various equipment, from large guns to a full suit of power armor in one case – three of them women, one male and the other seemed to be androgynous – and the other half were dressed in various costumes. Of those, four were women, two were men and one looked like a green dragon.

Pete and Mandy watched in horror as these two groups demonstrated an insane amount of teamwork and perfect synchronisation, punching through the second defensive line.

Mandy immediately noticed that one of them – one of the women in costume – was not participating in the fighting. Instead, her arms were wrapped around something packed in thick red cloth, and she was flying in the middle of her group, staying safe, and teleporting around in blinking flashes, evading any attacks.

“The Fay,” whispered Pete. Or maybe he was screaming, and she just couldn’t hear him well.

She blanched, recognizing the costumed part of the group. They were a part of Britain’s biggest crime syndicate. And the woman with the bundle… Boudicca, a relative newbie with quite the reputation.

As to the other group, she couldn’t say. They had no distinguishing marks whatsoever.

But they were all striking at the worst possible time – Lady Light and most of their top-level metahumans were away to Kansas, responding to an appearance by Desolation-in-Light, and they’d also had several technical problems lately, with half their blimps out of commission and parts of the wall – especially the South-Eastern section – being seriously defunct.

Did they know when to strike, or is this just a coincidence?

The invaders pushed to the third wall, where they met the hardest resistance. One of the women in black stretched her arms out to the sides, and a wavering, flickering sphere of distorted air and light formed in front of her.

With another flash of disorienting noise and worse, it exploded, knocking most of the defenders (as well as Mandy and Pete) for a loop.

By the time they’d come to their senses again, the enemies had nearly broken through the third wall and its defenders.

“Oh God, oh God, they’re going to get through!” shouted Mandy, even though she couldn’t even hear herself.

A flicker of light appeared over the battlefield, stretching to form a rectangular doorway. A tall figure clad in light stepped out.

Lady Light smashed into the group of invaders like the fist of God, taking down two of the Fay members in one hit. Her hard light armament formed into a glowing set of winged armor, a spear twice as long as she was tall and a winged crossbow, and she tore into the invaders, even as her aura reinforced the defenders, calling them to arms once more and with thrice their former fierceness.

She was met with coordinated counter moves, the remaining invaders focusing more on her than on the others. The woman with the wide-range perception attack initiated her power again, but Lady Light broke through their defensive lines and kicked her so hard it drove her into the ground, fifty meters below. Then she turned to Boudicca, striking at the woman-

Who teleported out of range at the very last moment, trying to get past her and into the Protectorate proper.

Lady Light reforged her spear into a whip, drawing her closer, the whip apparently blocking her teleportation.

Boudicca was fighting desperately to break free, and despite being supposedly a Paragon Tier all the way through, she was obviously straining Lady Light – though the other villains were doing their best to help, too.

The four remaining metahumans in black teamed up and attacked Lady Light, while the other members of the Fay spread out to fight back the other defenders.

Mandy watched in awe as Lady Light fought all four enemies – going by the powers they displayed, each of them had to be Apex Tier at least, and she was pretty sure the androgynous character was a God Tier blaster, every one of his blue energy beams tore huge chunks out of the walls and the ground, the light lingering to eat through the material, whenever Lady Light didn’t redirect his blasts upwards – and took down two more in about thirty seconds, not even needing to reforge her armament. The androgynous blaster was the first to go down, taking so many hits in so little time he was apparently unconscious before he was halfway down towards the ground. And all the time, Lady Light kept holding on to Boudicca, preventing her from teleporting into the range of the Protege.

“Down there!” Pete shouted. He was pointing at one of the monitors.

Mandy looked to see how the woman Lady Light had earlier stomped into the earth raise her arms, weakly, and set off another of her disorienting blasts. This time, it was far weaker and didn’t reach the two of them, but the defenders reeled and many were promptly smacked down by the invaders. With her senses at her command, Mandy could see that both her teammates and Lady Light had remained unaffected, the latter shooting a bolt of pure light into the prone woman, knocking her out for good.

And then Boudicca managed to tear off the whip and teleport past the defenders, into the Protectorate.

“He’ll tear that madwoman’s mind to shreds!” shouted Pete, but evidently, Boudicca didn’t care. She charged into his range without hesitation.

* * *

Lady Light flared up, her armament reforging itself into a sword, a pair of blade-like wings and three spheres that rotated her body. She turned towards the remaining invaders – only two of the black-clothed strangers and one of the Fay, not counting Boudicca, were still active – but they all ceased fighting and turned to watch Boudicca. Lady Light, too, turned to watch, the woman now beyond safe reach even for her.

The woman, incredibly, was flying towards Ember, teleporting ahead every few seconds to speed up. Cameras from the other side of the Protectorate were picking up images of her face, showing it being drenched in tears, the eyes reddened, with four thin, fading scars on her left cheek, as if someone had raked their nails over her face.

Her flight wavered as she reached the halfway mark, her teleportation ceasing, as she seemed to almost curl up around the bundle in her arms.

Mandy could only watch in horror as the villain fell down, her flight turning into a dive towards the ground.

She slowed herself down, barely, rolling to absorb the impact, taking more care to keep the bundle than herself unharmed.

There were still nearly two kilometers between herself and Ember, and it appears she now had to get there on foot.

She ran.

“Holy mother of God, how the fuck is she doing that?!” Pete exclaimed, his eyes wide in disbelief as she just forced her way onwards, staggering every now and then.

Over the field and through a small wood she ran, jumping over a small pond and then over the wall of the old town’s cemetery. She broke the wrought iron gate on the other side with a kick, then staggered, fell to her knees and threw up.

“Oh please, let her stay down, please,” whispered Mandy, and Pete fell right in.

Boudicca complied, collapsing to the side, curling up around the bundle.

They both sighed in relief.

“Oh God, I almost thought she’d get through to him,” Mandy half-whispered.

“Me too. Man, what a madwoman. To even get that far… I wonder what’s in that bundle? A teleportation device, maybe? To steal him?” said Pete.

Mandy shook her head. Despite it all… she had the dreadful feeling that she knew what was in that bundle, and why Boudicca was so… determined.

And just then, the fallen villainess moved, slowly pushing herself up onto weak legs.

“Oh, heavens no,” they both said.

She took a step forward… and then another. And another. Step by step, she staggered forward, crying, wailing, her whole body shaking hard enough to almost throw her to the ground again, never to rise again.

Boudicca did not fall.

Step by step, slower and slower, she approached the center of the small town, approached him.

And then she stepped around a corner, and within sight of him.

They both held their breaths, expecting some kind of… reaction. She was the first to ever get this close.

The Protege did not move, nor react to her in any other way.

Her face mad with grief, shame and… another emotion, one Mandy had trouble placing, Boudicca took another step.

It took her almost ten minutes to reach the Protege.

She knelt down in front of him, raising her arms, holding out the red bundle. With one hand, she quickly opened it, then went back to holding it up with both hands, presenting it to him, her head lowered, her body shaking with sobs – but her arms were steady.

Mandy gasped when she saw the content of the bundle. She’d half expected it, but to see it.

A boy lay there, a baby, small and wrinkled… and dead. His skin was pale, his face relaxed as if asleep, his too-thin limbs unmoving.

The Protege did not react.

Boudicca did not move, but her lips started to move. Long-range microphones picked up her whispered words.

“Please… please… please… please…”

After nearly ten minutes – ten minutes of dread for Mandy and Pete, ten minutes in which she imagined the world to hold her breath, the begging ceased, as Boudicca’s strength waned.

Her arms began to tremble, losing strength. Mandy could not even imagine the mental anguish she had to be going through, this close to the Protege himself.

And then the cloaked boy moved.

They all gasped as he raised his head, looking at the corpse, at the woman.

They begged him to go back to stillness, or for this to be a dream, a feverdream even…

He raised a hand. He plunged it into the baby’s small chest.

The screens flickered.

When the image came back, he pulled his hand out of the baby – and it started to scream, wailing, living.

Mandy fell to her knees.

* * *

Afterwards, as Boudicca dissolved into delirious sobs, clinging to her reborn child, the Protege reached out and touched her shoulder.

He shoved her, gently, and she vanished in a flash, her teleportation enhanced far beyond its usual limit, taking her all the way out of his range.

Lady Light picked her up and flew her into the main administrative facility of the Protectorate. The five black-garbed metahumans had vanished without a trace during a split-second, as a black claw seemed to appear behind each of them, grabbing them and pulling them away to vanish.

The remaining four members of the Fay were detained along with Boudicca, though in separate rooms. None of them put up any resistance whatsoever.

Mandy left the surveillance room to Pete, who was all too willing to fill in for her (he was useful, and maybe just nice enough to give him a real chance) and staggered over to the general briefing room.

There, she learned the other pieces of the story.

Boudicca, real name Iris O’Sheannan, aged twenty-two, had lost her unborn son just yesterday, when a rival villain had attacked her at home, wounding the pregnant supervillain and causing a miscarriage. Her son, Sean O’Sheannan, had been just a month away from being born.

At midnight, while her teammates had been trying to calm her down, promising her horrible, horrible vengeance, she had been contacted by someone who claimed to be a part of the ‘Companions of the Future’. He’d offered her their top operatives for an attempt at breaking into the Protectorate and bringing her son to the Protege. At no cost. She had been too desperate to ask for reasons.

She’d agreed, and her teammates had immediately pitched in.

As it turned out – Lady Light got them to talk – Boudicca had always had a particular power she’d kept secret, an extremely focused precognitive power. It was useless for mid-battle use, nor could she get warnings from sudden attacks and such (which explained why her enemy had been able to catch her at home, despite her teleportation), but provided she had about five minutes and a clear picture of what she wanted…

Her power allowed her to make the perfect plan for any caper. It was predicated on her own knowledge – the more she already knew about the situation, the better the plan – but it certainly explained her meteoric rise in the underworld.

One of the Companions of the Future, a metahuman who had not participated in the attack itself, was a power booster, capable of giving massive split-second boosts to powers.

Combining those two… they’d hit at just the right time, at just the right point, working perfectly, combining their powers and skills in just the right ways…

They’d even planned for Lady Light and the Dark showing up and trying to fight them off, though they admitted that, seeing how Lady Light alone had torn through them so easily, and how, in the end, it had been Boudicca’s raw will that supercharged her powers and allowed her to break through the whip which let them succeed, their plan had been less than sufficient. Had the Dark not stayed behind to help against Desolation-in-Light, then they would have been stopped.

No use thinking about could-have-beens now.

Boudicca had been put into an empty room, watched over by Lady Light and several cameras. The woman was delirious with joy, crying and giggling as she nursed her son for the first time. Even if she got through this with her sanity intact, Mandy doubted that she’d be convicted for anything – the courts would demand access to the surveillance footage, and rightly so, and she couldn’t imagine anyone condemning her for wanting her son back, especially seeing how… how overjoyed she was.

But that was not the worst part.

The attack had gone public. Someone had hacked into the Protectorate’s supposedly secure computer network and pulled all the footage of the fight, and then of what happened within. It had been streamed live on the internet, and was now already the most-watched video clip of the last three years.

They all knew what that meant.

Five years ago, the existence of a metahuman capable of healing any ailment, reversing age and even death itself had nearly led to another world war. Religions all over the world had proclaimed him the Messiah of their faith, or the devil incarnate, or Buddha reborn. Some had called for his death, no matter the cost. Some had demanded the privilege of throwing themselves at his feet. And so many had desired the prize he offered – for many the greatest prize of all – immortality.

Only his self-imposed exile had prevented the war from breaking out, the unlikeliness of him ever acting again.

Now it had been proven that the Protege was still active, if restrained.

The Califate had begun moving moments after he had revived the boy. Religions all over the world were once more in uproar, the True Believers were beyond ecstatic, the Returners were eager to welcome their newest member and his mother into their ranks (and also ecstatic about their ‘beloved’ awakening from his slumber) and the Sovjet Union…

The Reds were thought to have nearly three-hundred thousand metahumans among their ranks, with more than three fourth of them being trained for combat. For war. Roughly two-hundred and twenty-five thousand metahumans, raised from birth to be fanatically loyal to the Red Council…

The Red Council, which had been wiped out by Desolation-in-Light just months ago, leaving the Union in upheaval…

All these metahumans, already unstable by their very nature, further destabilized by the loss of the focal point of their worldview…

Now they saw a chance to return to the world order they knew. A chance to bring back their masters.

A chance that came attached with a time limit.

And the Pacific-Atlantic Treaty Organization would never allow them to even attempt to revive the Red Council, not without a fight.

The Sovjet Union declared war against the PATO nations just three hours after Sean’s rebirth.

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77 thoughts on “Interlude 9 – Worlds Adrift

  1. hi,
    seems as if i missed a couple of updates
    thanks for those

    just noticed that you have a tendency to forget the tags for Eudocia
    (didn’t find any at first and thought it was a hint that she wasn’t a persone/ true ai)

  2. In this episode of Brennus:

    Ember’s full powers are revealed! He can stay really still, make girls really happy, and bring about world wars by being featured on youtube.

  3. As an added bonus, with things around Ember escalating this much, the chance that nobody would connect his little mural to Brennus’s icon have just dropped to about zero.

    While they were keeping things quiet and Brennus was only a city-wide phenomenon, there was a good chance that the people who’d seen them would never overlap. After a security leak and a war breaking out, not so much.

  4. I suppose that it did not occur to Boudicca even in her grief that the Companions of the Future may have been involved in alerting her rival villain as to her condition & location, as well as say boosting him/her with their power booster meta?

  5. Time for overanalyzing! One of the few criticism I had of worm was the fact that the military does not seem to exist in any real shape or form in the story. So how do metas stack up with the average military? An attack helicopter or tank could probably match a a few of the mid tier metas. Spell gun would probably be matched with a regular infantry unit. I guess it depends on logistics and simple numbers. Depends on what firepower you can bring against them, and how tough the average meta is. Also depends how far ahead military tech is in your verse thanks to gadgeteers. Railguns, plasma, lazers, advanced drones, anti nuclear tech?
    The Soviet Union obviously didn’t collapse in your universe, though I am curious how. The common theories I have heard are they put themselves on a war spending all the time which was bad for their economy and ours but the US could compensate by trading with other global capitalist markets. I forget the number but the US used a much smaller part of their GDP for the arms race, and still came out with much better goods/tech since we didn’t order all the best engineers/scientist etc. to the military. Though a good russian gadgeteer might solve that tech gap, but their economy should be pretty bad if they are still a communist state and only trade with other poorer communist states. Eventually they would have failed. Did China rise into another superpower?

    • China was absorbed by the Sovjet Union, as was North Korea and the Vietnam. The tech gap is uneven. The Sovjet Union is the world’s head in terms of agricultur tech, by leaps and bounds, and it’s the west’s equal in terms of military tech, but they trail after them in terms of most everything else.

      The most advanced nation in the world is Sovereign’s Grand African Imperial Nation (GAIN). It pretty much beats the others at everything, especially military tech (Force fields)

      • So there are 3 superpowers in your world. So no food lines, or shortages in this Russia. Good to know.

      • That’s a double edged sword for them Ant. In this kind of situation it would be much more difficult to implement the scorched earth strategy they used so effectively in the past while on the defensive.

        Umh, how did the thing at Stalingrad go in this universe anyway?

      • > stalingrad? you mean “big crater where they nuked weisswald’s giant white forest… five times”, right?

        Eh, I guess it kinda went better than ours then.
        There’s this old guy in my neighbourhood that was there (well, our universe’s version of it… as far as I know), and he was not amused by the whole affair.

      • Stalingrad reminds me. What is currently Germany’s current state in your universe? I assume the East/West Berlin issue might have still happened in some form if Russia still turned the war around in Stalingrad.

      • germany is rebuilding, but they were hit hard by weisswald, as he pretty much killed all non-manifested metas who did not make it through his camps, unless they managed to flee. less than twenty percent of germany’s population survived ww2

      • Less than 20 percent? Fuck. Hopefully there are at least one or two billion people left on the planet.

      • Well, you wouldn’t even have to have metahumans be a part of a unit. Try sending a high-tier to a country and saying “blow shit up.” It makes for bombs that barely cost anything for much, much more destruction. There’s also the whole, now anyone can become a literal superpower, shtick. You think extreme terrorist groups aren’t gonna have some nasty triggers? Suddenly, there’s a metahuman worth more than eight nuclear bombs (and much less detectable) who hates America.

      • That might be the best way to deal with the kind of Apex who refuses to listen to orders and cannot work within a command structure, but in general they’d be too rare and valuable to throw away like that. Why get like 8 nukes worth of boom out of them before locals or defenders take them down, when you could devote a spec ops unit and a couple Movers to getting them in and out of high value instillations? Or position them on a key battlefield with lesser troops and metas defending them, so they can exterinate a big chunk of the enemy army from relative safety?

    • Gadgeteers also make the regular tech in the world interesting. Granted please don’t answer if you don’t want to. It must be really hard and time consuming to make a true alt history for everything important. But just for the sake of what if, I make the following predictions.
      1. All cars are electric, with oil no longer nearly as important as it once was.
      2. Alternative energy sources are more powerful/useful which would have had huge effects on the coal industry, or maybe not since it is literally dirt cheap and important for local economies.
      3. 3d printers are more widespread or even in homes.
      4. The average cellphone is much more advanced that is used for Banking, music, internet, etc. with MUCH better internet speed.
      5. Computers are dirt cheap, and super advanced compared to our current ones which means computers are in practically everything in your universe appliances, cars, doors, etc. With all that computing power, maybe really good universal translators exist and are affordable.
      6. Cloning is only sovereign tech but it doesn’t tell us how advanced.
      7. We are on the moon, maybe space colonies are something that is trying to get off the ground. We send missions to mars. A space elevator might work but would cost a bitch to build.
      8. The average person doesn’t seem to have implants. So no cyborgs, but robotic replacements are probably more advanced. No one seems to have chips in the brain that they can control tech with.
      9. Nano tech might exist in some form to only gadgeteers. But would be expensive, time consuming to build, being easily destroyed by heat as in worm, and have only a few uses.
      10. Robots came much earlier. Depending on whether movies like the terminator came about, anti AI stuff might not be so bad in your universe. Robots might be cheaper more widespread. I read somewhere Japan is trying to develop some that take care of people in homes.
      PS Love that your tech metas DID change the world.

      • 1. I think it already came up that all cars are electric.
        2. solar power is the big thing right now, followed by cold fusion for more energy-intensive stuff
        3. anyone can buy those, but they are not necessarily everywhere
        4. cellphones ARE much more advanced, and you have free internet pretty much everywhere where there is a larger infrastructure
        5. Basil STILL needed custom-built stuff to keep up with his power, but short of gadgeteers, most people don’t know what to do with their computing power
        6. cloning is unreliable, and has yet to truly copy a person – there are always differences that arise during growth. even sovereign hasn’t been able to create sentient clones (as far as anyone knows)
        7. it’s been mentioned already that there is a moon colony (not civillian yet) and a mission to mars). no space elevator… yet
        8. implants exist, but mostly for medical purposes, not for performance enhancement. there are cybernetic military units, but they all live in fear of those metas who can screw with tech
        9. Nano-tech is the kind of stuff you need an apex gadgeteer for, just like force-fields. sovereign has very little, very specialized stuff, because he lacks the specialization to work deeper into it without wholly focusing on it
        10. Sovereign has a robot army (called Subjugators), but they’re only as efficient as they are because their force-fields protect them from most technopaths and all. also, it’s kind of one of sovereigns specialities, so he’s further ahead there than others.
        There are no non-contrived giant robots yet

        11. most natural sicknesses have either been wiped out or are at least easy to treat (AIDS was buttfucked to death in the eighties)
        12. world population is on the rise due to far less issues with food and medicine, but it is not yet on todays level, both because Weisswald pretty much killed more people (relatively) than the Bubonic Plague and because of Spiteborn, DiL and other s-class threats. also, lots of proxy wars

        more to come in a future info dump

      • > most people don’t know what to do with their computing power
        Having just shelled out 3k euros for the pieces to build ANOTHER workstation, I must admit I’m green with envy -.-
        Meh, I hope they solved the disk bottleneck in some more elegant way than buying a ton of ram a making a ramdisk.

        >even sovereign hasn’t been able to create sentient clones (as far as anyone knows)
        I call either a distraction or bullshit. A clone is just a normal living being, no reasons for it to be non-sentient (unless you’re cloning a dandelion). Memory dumps or the likes are a different matter of course, maybe you were referring to those?

      • right, my mistake.
        6. cloning is unreliable, and has yet to truly copy a person – there are always differences that arise during growth. even sovereign hasn’t been able to create stable sentient clones (as far as anyone knows). they usually go mad, though no one knows why

      • 1. Either than or hydrogen fuel cells. Probably cheaper to manufacture and maintain than the kind of batteries needed for full electric, no emissions but water, and it’s easy to crack hydrogen from water and electricity.

        2. The main problem with the energy industry in the US, as far as I can tell, isn’t tech but rather public opinion. Nuclear fission is cheaper, cleaner, and safer than virtually all alternatives (solar is safer, and approaching cleaner, but prohibitively costly on large scale). But every time the word “nuclear” comes up people freak out, leaving us with nothing but coal for 90+% of our electricity supply.

        3. 3D printing is mostly good for prototyping and novelty purposes. So the tech would probably be cheap enough for every aspiring gadgeteer to have one in the garage, most schools and all tech companies would likely have them available, but the average man on the street just wouldn’t have a use for one.

        4-5. I’m not sure that even gadgeteers can outrun Moore’s Law. Pretty much everything in computing has been doubling every two years for a long time in our ‘verse. Plus Brennus mentioned that he had to build his own computer first thing when he “manifested”, so standard civilian stuff is clearly insufficient for high level gadgeteering.

        7. Oh yes. I very much doubt there isn’t a huge human presence in space. The primary cost now is getting things off the ground; a space elevator or a really big railgun would cut that down to a pittance. And all a space elevator really requires is a material with about double the tensile strength of anything we can currently get to that length, which is the kind of problem that a gadgeteer ought to be able to fix right quick. Or hell, even a contrivance would work if it were reliable enough; it’s not like you need to mass-produce space elevators.

        8. Transhumanism is more a cultural thing I think. There are apparently lots of tech-metahumans who alter themselves but it’s not a thing that’s ever been large scale. Probably too many crazy contrivers turning themselves into clock-punk monstrosities for the man on the street to consider implants, and not enough gadgeteers interested, reliable, and public enough to fight the public perception.

        9. No mention of nanotech yet, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was contriver-only territory for the most part.

        10. Robots, sure. A decent gadgeteer with a spare weekend could fix the problems with bipedal movement and balance to make humanoid bots easy. But outside of heavy industry and military work, there aren’t many robotic tasks that a human can’t do cheaper, easier, and without falling in the Uncanny Valley.
        Meanwhile AI is pretty definitely not a thing outside of Macian and contrivances, if Brennus’s reaction was any indication. In the mind of one of the most tech savvy people on the planet, AI = contrivance until she told him otherwise. Which means that what AIs do exist are unique, non-reproducible, and usually created by madmen.

      • Really, no space elevator? Are there just not gadgeteers that work in materials science (other than Brennus, but he was doing ceramics…), or is there something else stopping them? Hmm, I suppose a just-completed doorway to low orbit would make a tempting target for DiL…

        Well, if space is still prohibitively expensive for most things that kills a lot of cool ideas. Like a satellite network providing high speed internet to the entire planet simultaneously.

        And I suspect that it would be fairly easy to make a sentient, sane clone if you just raised them like a normal child, but that doesn’t have many advantages over a normal child. Any any sort of brain uploading, accelerated growth, or other tricks would tend to lead to madness at best.

      • the problem is that most gadgeteers are in the exemplar tier, and even those are relatively rare. since specializations tend to correspond to trigger events/personality/background, and few people have a direct involvement with space travel…

      • also, there’s the problem of any large scale project being subject to villain attacks, the spiteborn usually attack concentrations of metahumans and let’s not forget the occasional visit from DiL

      • > Really, no space elevator?
        That’s just ASKING for Dr. Nova to trigger, ya know… as if he was not bonkers enough as a normal human….

      • Those two implications means that most of the upper tier metas are wild cards. Most are mentally unstable and powerful, so we don’t know where they will side in this war. They might just try to take advantage of the chaos.

      • metas make for great patriots, if they had such tendencies before manifesting. the problem simply lies in most of the more powerful ones being to excentric for standard military procedure

      • Ah, the joys of alternate history. Not the boring realistic kind, I think about “what if nukes really did give you superpowers?” or “what if mad scientists really existed?” (I’ll write my answers at some point). Everyone will think of their own answer. Everyone thinks of their own questions. Seeing the detail that Teishaun puts into his story, I think he also likes fun alternate history.

      • It’s a more negative relationship. I hate it when people don’t think their worlds through.

        For example, back when I first played D&D (I was eleven or so), I got immediately pissed with my first GM (great way for an eleven year old to introduce himself to the world of pen and paper) because we were playing in a high power world (there were wizards and clerics above level 7 in every major settlement)… which was STILL just a cheap dark age ripoff.

        I just thought, back then, how stupid it was that the people didn’t live better, despite the massive amounts of arcane and divine power at their disposal – sickness, crop failure, cold, pests… all of those and more should NOT be an issue for the average person in a village where THE FREAKING MAJOR OF A VILLAGE IS A LEVEL 10 CLER-

        Aaaaaand I’ll cut myself off right here before I start ranting again

      • For a modern-ish setting, alternate history is (imho) the best if not only way to go for worldbuilding. Too many authors just make a backdrop for the plotline they had in mind, so the world comes across as illogical and poorly thought out. But if you take one little detail, like adding superpowers or a functional AI or magic or aliens, and extrapolate how the world is put together differently because of that change? The world lives and breathes and makes sense and the stories almost write themselves.

    • You are comparing only the effectiveness of a meta vs a normal unit in direct combat.
      Sure thing, a paragon tier blaster is the equivalent of, say, a ten-man squad.

      However s/he requires one tenth of the food and generic supplies, one tenth of transportation capability and bunking, zero ammunition, and is much more mobile and difficult to spot.

      A squad of ten paragon tier blasters progresses exponentially (or logarithmically) compared to a hundred-strong platoon, in all those points.

      A paragon tier brute/mover with, say, a heavy machinegun compares even more favourably to an armoured humvee, an apex tier with an anti-material gatling to a tank and so on.

      However you slice it, a parahuman beast the normal military equivalent hands down, except for actual occupation, because there you actually need numbers.
      Umh, and I’m using Worm’s classification… oh well, you get the gist of it right?

      • Yeah, but you’re comparing some of the handful of metahumans to armies with conventional real-world weapons. Goverments ought to be snapping up gadgeteers faster than supervillains, providing them with literally unlimited development budgets and all the labs and assistants they ask for, and then mass producing their tech for ground forces.

        Imagine a platoon of trained marines equipped with Brennus’s power armor. Hordes of cheap robotic tanks, each packing the firepower of a blaster-6, holographic stealth tech, and reactive armor. Gadgeteered drone strikes, portable railguns, every soldier having goggles that see through walls and guns that shoot through buildings…

        And the numbers don’t compare, even when you look at the Soviet’s 225,000 metahumans troops. Every mid-high level meta is equivalent to ten men or an armored vehicle? Real wars are fought with millions of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

        So in a serious military campaign, I don’t think anybody would rely on solely powered troops. You would have a few top tiers that you keep in reserve and deploy like tactical nukes, and a whole lot of fully powered spec-ops teams, but the majority of your metahumans would be fighting like baseline soldiers with a few extra tricks. When the vests are better than your defensive powers, the vehicles are better than your mover powers, and a rifle better than your offensive powers, it’s better to sit down and take the milspec gear than to try to charge in with colored tights and panache.

        Those few extra tricks will of course be a hell of a force multiplier, and baseline soldiers will probably hate going up against units that all look human, but can sometimes break the rules in unpredictable ways without warning. But the addition of supersoldiers just changes the game, not ends it.

      • [Om Nom]
        Yeah, the scary part here isn’t that they have 200K metahuman soldiers. It’s that they probably have a bare minimum of 2 million + soldiers, and every one of them has a 1/10 chance of suddenly turning invisible or jumping over your cover or jamming your guns with their mind. Every enemy squad would probably have one, and they’ll all be different, and you can’t tell what they’re about to do until they fuck you over. That’d about double the effectiveness of an average unit to start with, and break down your morale really fast.

        And then every time there’s a large scale battle, you get to deal with one or more Apex tier. Which, when you’re lucky, is like the enemy managing to field a brand new artillery piece or vehicle that you have no idea how to deal with, and now have to figure out how to kill. When you’re not lucky, you don’t manage to take them down and they’ll continue to fuck your army for the rest of the war.

        …Is an alliance with Sovereign an option? Because unless The Dark takes up disassembling the Russian military as a hobby for the next year or so, this will get very ugly very fast.

      • And that’s before you even get into things like Thinker Generals devising flawless strategies, or psychological effects hitting the whole battlefield at once, or teleporting/invisible/shapeshifting assassins. Basically every command post will either be run like the goddamn Protectorate, or be wiped out/subverted almost immediately.

        Meaning that your demoralized soldiers can’t trust their leadership, and those brand new threats that require adaptability and good tactics to beat will all show up right after your comms got cut off or your commander got replaced with a pod person.

        You thought war was hell before?

      • let’s not forget the very real threat of mind control, or entire units/small armies of artificial soldiers (due to spawners) which are entirely disposable and can thus be used for tactics that would be completely unacceptable for normal troops.

        and let’s not even get into mid-battle manifestations, and all the fun connected to those…

      • > Yeah, but you’re comparing some of the handful of metahumans to armies with conventional real-world weapons.

        Not really, I’m comparing them with weapons. Full stop.

        Even with gadgeteer made stuff you will need a logistic base, without even getting into the issues that complicated stuff is poorly suited for the battlefield for a number of reasons. Overall fragility compared to simpler solutions (i.e.: if it’s not there it cannot break), difficulty to train maintenance personnel, zero standardization (these blueprints are in pictographs, those others are a recording of a melody, and so on), difficulty to mass produce because you need to build the gadgeteere’d infrastructure first and so on.

        So my example is still very valid, whether you compare a meta with a 10-man “real-world” squad (with 2 people in support and logistics) or a 5-man “their world gadgeteer tech” squad (with 5 people and sometimes a gadgeteer as support and logistics), someone who does not even need a rifle wins in all the points important for a modern military outfit.
        That goes up as the “power” of the outfit goes up, so an equivalent to even a paragon tier would be infeasibly expensive, and at the mercy of saboteurs when stocked. We know this because there’s no Dragon’s teeth in Brennus that we have seen so far.

        The “one to ten” ratio is made up on the spot for the sake of the example, I doubt there’s any way to realistically calculate it.

        I’ll repeat: the fallacy is to consider _only_ the pure combat applications, and disregard the logistics and support.

      • there are two aspects that need to be also considered:

        1. Power growth is very nearly exponential, as is versatility. there is no real comparing an apex meta to a paragon meta, not to mention god tiers. And transcendent metas can (don’t HAVE to) equal entire battalions by themselves, if not outstrip them

        2. metas are, as a rule, unstable. the more powerful the meta, the less likely they are to be stable enough to work well in a standard military unit

      • Even a paragon tier meta would have a hell of a time against a properly trained and equipped squad alone, and most exemplars would have no chance. An ordinary assault rifle is an incredibly efficient and deadly machine, and most metahumans are impressive compared to small time crooks and cops but just can’t match up to milspec hardware. The strength of ten men doesn’t mean shit when you’re 500m down range, and the kind of toughness that lets you shrug off punches and even survive 9mm pistol rounds will usually not help against concerted rifle fire, let alone anti-materiel weapons. So no, the guy who doesn’t even need a rifle does not win by default, because in order to actually be effective on the battlefield he’s going to pick up a gun like everybody else.

        And yes, a mid-tier Brute could probably carry as much firepower as a humvee, but he needs that same humvee to get around quickly enough to matter, so you’re not winning much unless you’re in terrain that makes vehicles unusable. And an ordinary trooper could do that with powered armor, but have advanced targeting and more durability on top and no psychological issues.

        On the other hand, if you mix a handful of Exemplars in with your normal troops? Just have one wildcard in every squad who can tweak emotions to break enemy morale, turn invisible or fly for scouting, provide mobile cover or safely draw fire away for a couple seconds, or toss out some shitty illusions or spawns to confuse matters and outflank enemies? That one man, barely more powerful than a baseline, can easily double or triple the effectiveness of his whole unit. And those few hundred low level metahumans mixed in with your several thousand soldiers, all wearing the same uniforms and carrying the same gear, mean that every enemy you face will be terrified of even the lowest trooper because he might be about to teleport across the field or turn their allies against them or god knows what else.

        I actually think that the Paragon-level supers will have the least impact in the long run. Because yeah, a flying brick or a solid blaster is at least as hard to take down as a decent vehicle, and one of the weird ones on that level can control a zone or take out a squad solo and do scary things, but they can be taken down and they’re easy to keep separate from normal troops in your mind as supervillains, or monsters, things to be wary of and deal with carefully as a group.
        And an Apex tier shapes a whole battlefield and can take or hold a town on their own.
        But the little Exemplars? They could be everywhere, everyone, they’re just ordinary folk, treated just like the rest of the soldiers, until they strike. Not everyone you fight has powers, but any of them could and that’s just as bad for morale.

      • Some good points on either side, but I have to side with the side indicating that metas mixed into normal military units would be an extreme game changer.

        Gadgeteers in the vehicle maintenance and equipment repair areas.
        Contrivers as combat engineers.
        Teleporters and fast movers in the logistics train.
        Healers near the front lines to get people back into shape
        stealthy powered characters in recon units
        precogs and planners working with tactics and strategic analysis groups

        Fighting types mixed in with their closest analogs in the military.

        Intelligently used as part of a standard military force, almost any meta could make a huge difference. A wide selection of low powered metas would do crazy things for a well-trained military’s efficiency and combat capability. Add in a few high power metas and carefully move them around as necessary for important jobs?

        As a whole, metas would be incredible additions, if the training is there to make them work with the rest of the military.

      • You’d never put a gadgeteer on the front lines of a military operation. They’re not mechanics, they’re not operators, they’re inventors first and foremost. You’d take every gadgeteer you could convince to sign up, give them their own lab with a dozen assistants and a nigh-unlimited budget (and one hell of a security detail), and require them to keep good documentation of what they build. Then ship those schematics to your factories and your mechanics.

        Maybe mix and match them sometimes for heterodyning purposes, but my impression is that it would be extremely unpredictable and dangerous if you just put them all in the same room all the time.

        One gadgeteer on the front lines can probably do a bit of damage with their custom tricked-out power armor, but one back at home can provide that same armor to half your infantry (barring problems with supply lines or enemy technopaths) and a trained soldier will make better use of the equipment than a tech with no combat experience.

        It’s a well known fact that Tony Stark would do more good by equipping the rest of the Avengers than by playing Iron Man in person, and even Jarvis has proven more competent and less wasteful in actual combat. Brennus may or may not be an exception to the rules with his combat-tinkering and his berserker rage, but even he would be spending his time more efficiently by inventing and building rather than running around punching people.

      • Eh, Gadgeteers, I agree, wouldn’t be best used at the front lines, but they would certainly be useful in the support areas nearby, doing repairs on vehicles. Sure, you wouldn’t want your best and brightest there, they would be best in a lab, but a gadgeteer even at low power levels is going to be one hell of a boost to maintenance and repair of vehicles and equipment in the field. Not on the front, but a bit back from the front.

      • Gadgeteers aren’t necessarily any better at maintenance work. If you needed quick modifications, like if the vehicles issued weren’t suited to the terrain or you’re dealing with unexpected weaponry, sure they would be useful (if rather unpredictable and inconsistent). But setting a gadgeteer on a broken truck or whatever would actually probably be detrimental, because it would end up non-standard and thus be harder for others to do maintenance on in the future and be harder for new drivers to accustom themselves to.

        Think of it this way: when your car breaks down, do you take it to a mechanical engineering student, or a garage? The first knows all the basic physical and chemical principles behind how your car works, and could probably design an internal combustion engine from scratch if pressed, but the second knows what parts are in your engine, how to tell if they’re broken, where to find new ones, and has experience installing them.

      • Nothing stops a gadgeteer from using off the shelf parts.

        Also remember, they have a speed rating as well.

        And lastly, repairs are not simple, especially combat damage repairs. Even if a gadgeteer doesn’t use any customization at all in their work, they are going to be head and shoulders better at troubleshooting problems and figuring out the best way to fix things than non-gadgeteers.

        I’ve been a mechanic – sometimes figuring out how to get to and then remove the broken piece is harder than replacing it.

        And if you run out of standardized parts? Better a vehicle with nonstandard parts out fighting again than a vehicle sitting back at the depot.

        Field gadgeteers should, I agree, not modify in the field, but their usefulness isn’t limited to building new things.

      • Valid point. Though now I’ve got the image stuck in my mind of a speedster, matter-creator, or time-distorter who, being a conscientious objector, works as a super-mechanic instead of on the front lines.

    • This is pure guess work, but I have a guess at how the Sovjet Union stayed safe from collapse: It didn’t. WW2 didn’t peak until ~12 years after it ended here. So timelines are a bit funny. If everything was off by 12 years, I’d expect the Sovjets to hang on until 2005.

      Now, in 2012, their leadership is dead, and they are presumably in chaos. They’ll probably fragment in the next year or two of story. So it’s not that Communism works in Brennus… It’s just that the metahuman influence allowed them to delay the inevitable a little longer.

      • In theory, communism is the perfect system of government. In practice, when using actual humans, it doesn’t work. Primarily because when working with real humans, the deciding factor in who gets to be in charge isn’t competence or compassion, but ambition, charisma, and greed. Every level of the bureaucracy is supposed to be managing those under their care on behalf of their superior, such that every citizen gets the attention they need and all resources are redistributed fairly to those who require them, but instead the majority of authorities are interested primarily in lining their own pockets and hiding it from their superiors. So you start with enough food for everybody, then the guy in charge of the farmers takes more than they can afford and passes what he was supposed to take to his boss, the guy in charge of wide scale distribution takes a hefty skim before passing it on to the small scale distribution, who in turn take most of it for themselves and let the workers they’re responsible for starve, right before sending reports back up the chain saying everything is fine and everybody is happy. And there are good people in the command structure, but because of how everything around them works they never have the resources they need and any complaints are ignored or result in threats. Meanwhile at the very top you either have the kind of idealist who would set this system up (who then actually believes the reports of sunshine and rainbows from his corrupt underlings) or you get somebody evil and insane enough to be the one who climbed all the way to the top of this system (like, say, Stalin).

        Superpowers might, just might, change that. Aside from the obvious (it was already mentioned that the Union led the world in agricultural sciences, presumably because you have a disproportionate number of people triggering as gadgeteer farmers, so even an uneven food distribution could be enough to live comfortably on). Superpowers give several new routes to positions of authority; instead of the greediest and most ambitious being the only ones with a significant chance of taking power, anybody who’s suffered enough to manifest has a chance. Imagine a bureaucratic system set up by, say, Accord, with enough oversight, checks and balances, and raw efficiency to work despite human nature. Or imagine a world where Joseph Stalin was replaced by, say, Khepri. Sure Accord would have a tendency to murder a dozen people every week for asymmetry, and Khepri might institute a mind-control-based dystopia, but their systems would WORK (and probably not be nearly as bad as Stalin’s).

  6. More Implications!
    1. The fact that oil is less important would have had BIG implications for the middle east, and our involvement there. Though adding super powers to a region rife with conflict means the middle east probably took alot of conflict over the years. Many of those proxy wars as it were.
    2. No one uses nuclear power because…well fear really. Solar power breaks down no problems. Nuclear power plant breaks bad things have happened. Admittedly I don’t know much about nuclear power, but people have all heard about what happens when it goes wrong so no one wants it near them. It probably has some uses though since it is almost limitless if used correctly. Hydrogen fuel cells might not be cost effective. From what I just read on the other wiki, many designs require platinum and there is only so much of that stuff. BUT free drinkable water would have big effects in deserts and other places fresh water is hard to come by. Forget Mars lets terraform the earth.
    4/5. Computers have to be in FREAKING EVERYTHING if they are as cheap/powerful as I imagine they are in your universe. Every building/home, restaurants, businesses, supermarkets, appliances, toothbrushes, etc. Heck there might be computers in your clothes at some point. Glasses might have built in HUDs or even contact lenses.
    7. Railguns? Seems too scary for me. A railgun that powerful could do nasty things, any smart nation would have a treaty limiting their use. The problem I see in space is politics mostly. The cost has to be astronomical to build a space elevator and no single country could probably afford it then you have ownership issues. Then ff it is so cheap to put up satellites than people will have space, hah, issues. Then there is the whole who owns what issue in space. I assume the moon base is multinational and the international space station is much bigger. Asteroid mining and space tourism might be a thing already there as well.
    8. Implants probably means that deafness and blindness are almost non existent in the Brennusverse. Artificial organs, depending on cost, would raise the life expectancy for everyone at least a decade or more. Even better if you can have supper efficient artificial organs. Extra hearts, never getting drunk….bad example. Anyway there are some science fiction stories where people created artificial tape worms that have a bunch of other medical functions.

    As for war, I have to lean more toward Sindri in that once gadgeteers give up their tech, metahumans lose their importance. Logistics are important but then again with superpowers transporting the large amounts of material might be much easier. So I imagine that most metahumans are in support/strategic reserve role. To use the one is as powerful as ten or hundred example. Then who cares if there are several hundred per each metahuman? Quantity is a quality of its own afterall. They are still powerful and used correctly are battle winners, but the outcome of the war won’t depend on them. That completely changes for the upper tier stuff, but then every government will know who will matter and have contingency plans. There have to be military plans/special assassin teams that have been created just to stop Lady Light for example, or at least slow her down. Those upper tier stuff will be the ones who can completely affect the outcome of the war, and military needs to be comparing how many x it takes to beat y for the big guns. Though the main issue raised earlier is the same in that the upper tier so so fast, tough, powerful that it doesn’t matter if x equals y because they can’t bring the necessary force to beat them to bear.

    • 1. My understanding is that the middle east doesn’t have much that the big time world powers want besides oil. It’s not the most fertile land, it’s not really controlling any trade routes, and oil is the primary natural resource for the whole region. So there wouldn’t be much cause for proxy wars there that I can think of.

      2. The greatest nuclear disaster on US soil was the Three Mile Island incident. There were zero casualties, and cancer rates in the effected area have actually been lower than the prediction for what would have been if it hadn’t happened. The most recent big time scare was the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the second biggest after Chernobyl. In which there were 37 people with physical injuries, TWO with radiation burns (non-lethal), and two who drowned, leaving zero killed by radiation. Compare that to the 18,500 killed by the rest of the tsunami. The big one, Chernobyl itself? 31 killed in the short term, with somewhere around 4,000 who could be attributed to it (out of 500,000 cleanup workers, about 200,000 evacuees, and the whole area affected by the contamination spread). Total up everybody killed by nuclear power from the mining fissionable materials through to disaster cleanup, compare it to the energy produced, and I think you get fewer casualties per megawatt-hour than wind, let alone hydro.
      Meanwhile, we currently get 90% of our energy from coal because people are too scared to switch over. If you look at nothing but the radioactive waste (which occurs naturally in coal in something like one part per billion), coal plants produces a hundred times as much as a fission plant for the same energy output. Except instead of being semi-safely stored in big shielded drums you can hide away where they don’t hurt people, coal plants toss that radioactive waste right into the atmosphere in the form of fine dust, mixed with all manner of other toxins. There aren’t any solid number on death toll for this, but about a quarter of deaths in China are from lung-related problems, and about a quarter of the global population is in China, so the picture certainly isn’t pretty. [/rant]

      7. The kind of railgun that could put things in orbit would need to be like, 2 kilomerters long, built up the side of a mountain. Not the kind of thing that could be repurposed into a weapon (unless the target was helpful enough to stand in front of it). It could only launch things that can stand about a hundred Gs of acceleration (so, not people or delicate instruments, but lots of fuel and water and construction materials). Given that conventional rockets take something like 37kg for fuel for every kg that makes it to orbit, even after the construction and maintenance costs for that monstrosity it would cost something like 1/50th as much to launch durable items.
      Military railguns are a whole different animal. The ones currently being built by the US Navy replace the 5-inch guns on a nuclear powered cruiser, have an effective range of about 120 nautical miles IIRC, are going to have a fire rate of about six shots a minute once they work out heat buildup problems, strike with the force of a million-dollar cruise missile for a few bucks worth of metal, and are fast and precise enough to shoot down ICBMs within range. Scheduled to deploy in 2018, our world. In a world with gadgeteers, smaller variants are probably already in use on heavy tanks, though I doubt they’ve managed to shrink them down to a size that infantry can use.

  7. Everyone has been making some good points, but we are thinking about a whole new (for us) style of warfare. I personally would like to learn more about WW2. Yeah, we’ve been getting hints sprinkled in over the course of the story. Weisswald is a Meta supremacist, takes over Germany, starts a massive war, goes on for what I believe is into the 1960’s (confirmation?), makes trouble all across the planet, and is finally taken down by Lady Light. But not before he creates some secret monster mother, that gives birth to all the Spiteborn (my interpretation). I may be wrong on Weisswalds goals here, did he want more Metas? “…the spiteborn usually attack concentrations of metahumans…” quote from up top makes it seems to me that Weisswald wants to kill metahumans. But, “he pretty much killed all non-manifested metas who did not make it through his camps, unless they managed to flee.” makes it seem to me that Weisswald wanted to weed out the Metas from the normal humans.

    So, to make a long story short, more on Weisswald maybe?

  8. I really wan’t to see Ember and……… Holy Cow! If I just realized what I think I realized, then Macian must be at least a 10/11 gadgeteer possibly even an 12/12 (though I doubt it) to have pulled this off. He secretly cloned himself! That’s why he is physically younger than his sister and his memories are jumbled, they were designed to resurface gradually as to not make him go insane. But for not even Ember (who I assume is his closest friend) to notice is pretty amazing as far as secret keeping goes. I obviously could be wrong, but I really don’t think so at this point. The most amazing thing about this if it is true is that he was able to copy his power into a clone. I wonder what machine he concocted to mess with his sister’s memories?

    Anyway, back to what I was originally posting, I wish Ember would just go to Brennus instead of doing the whole bat-signal thing. I wonder what the point of the wall painting was?

    • Well, there’s the little detail where if people realize that he’s awake it sparks a World War. I think that might encourage the kid to keep things low key for a while. Also the detail about how any unshielded mind within a few kilometers goes insane merely from his presence, which would make it difficult to hold a conversation in the middle of a crowded city.

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