B011.13 Monkey Family

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I curved around the little show Blauschwinge seemed intent on putting on and reached the actual tenements. The warped structure seemed to have been hit by a giant’s fist or something, though I was hoping that Blauschwinge wasn’t actually capable of this kind of destruction with but a single blow – that’d put him right up there with Lady Light in terms of raw offensive power, and I’d learned my lesson about challenging someone like that a long time ago (or perhaps not, seeing how I’d actually tried to fight my even more destructive half-sister).

Getting into the tenements was the next problem I found myself faced with. The structure had been warped so badly – both by whatever attack had first deformed, and then by what I assumed to be Malphas’ power used to retaliate – that even the formerly open walls were mostly gone, and where they remained, they had been turned into small slits or holes, many leading nowhere. I had to rely on my sense of smell more than anything to navigate, and raw strength to actually open up a path, most of the time.

While Warren made a mess outside – I could smell whatever napalm-like compound he was using burn – I followed the scent of blood, and the two young people it originated from.

Lots of blood, and even the monkey had gone deathly quiet now.

I forced open a twisted mess of pipes and metal wall and stepped into an uneven cave of a room. Lag and Malphas were there, lying in total darkness. It was only thanks to my monkey’s sight that I saw anything at all.

Any help I might have rendered came too late for Lag. Something had cut through the woman, from her left shoulder down to her right hip, the wound ragged, rough, unlike anything I could compare it to off the top of my head (and I’d seen a lot). I was glad that her mask covered her face entirely, so I didn’t have to see her facial expression. Poor Volca…

I stepped over her torso – the rest of her had been caught up and crushed by the twisting metal, with blood still dripping down from the ceiling – and waded through inches of blood to Malphas’ side.

His right arm was missing from just below the shoulder, cut in the same manner as Lag’s body. Whatever power Blauschwinge – and I had no doubt that he was the one responsible – used, it had gone through his metal armor the same way as it had through his flesh and bone. The boy was breathing heavily, but he barely bled – his power was at work, metal moving, stopping the bleeding by forming a tourniquet on his short stump. It was temporary, at best, and he needed some help, stat.

I knelt down next to the boy. “Malphas, can you hear me?” I said, opening the monkey’s jaws wide, pulled back to reveal my head. “Can you talk?”

“Y-yes,” he said with a thin, shaky voice. The bravado from our last meeting was gone, and he sounded like he would be crying, if only he had the breath to spare. He sounded like a child. “F-f-fucker… killed… Lag…”

“I know.” I made a quick check, but there really wasn’t much I could tell about his state with his fullbody-armor still in the way. “Malphas, I need to get you out of here,” If only so you can breathe properly, “and I need to check you over. Can you open up your armor?”

It took him a moment to mull that over, his head turned so his eyes were fixated on me, or perhaps it just took a while for him to properly process it. Then he nodded, and his armor opened up in a single fluid, but slow, motion that looked weirdly organic. “Talk to me, Malphas,” I said as I waited for him to open it up. “You have to stay awake.”

“Uhu. What should… I say?” he asked, his voice too weak, especially without his helmet’s distortion at work, now that it had opened, finally giving me a good look at the person beneath.

I had speculated that he was a young teen before, then considered that he might even be barely a teen. Both had been wrong.

“Anything. Where do you come from?”

If the boy I saw lying there in a shirt and short pants, with a mass of steel around the stump of his arm, was a day over thirteen, I’d be very, very surprised. In fact, I would’ve bet him to be closer to twelve than thirteen.

“South Africa. I was… born in some place… South Africa. Don’t remember the name. But… don’t remember it. Left when I was a baby. We fled from… warlord… Aheri… ethnic cleansing…”

Fuck, he’s younger than I was when I set out on my own, I thought as I urged him to keep talking. If he was talking, then he was awake, and I’d know instantly if he slipped into unconsciousnes.

“Came on… ship… me and dad and mom and my big brother, but… ship sank… miles before coast. Dad swam all the way… to land… carried me and bro… mom drowned.”

Using my ridiculously oversized left hand, I carefully craddled the boy to my chest and took him quickly outside the structure, into more open air. “Keep talking, son. Tell me more.” Not that I hadn’t known people with the background I saw unfold before. It was all too common for people from that region, unfortunately enough.

I’d never heard of Aheri, though. Then again, most of those warlords usually cycled through every two or three months, anyway.

“Lived on… streets… Undercities… Dad and Bro worked, but… Bro angry, ’cause Dad didn’t save Mom, too.” He sobbed, and I wasn’t sure whether it was due to physical discomfort, or the memories.

I could barely hear the fight as I put him down – wincing along with him when the movement caused him even more pain – and carefully tore his shirt open to check his torso.

“One day… Bro went to work… didn’t come back… Never found out why. Dad just… he stopped. On the inside. He kept going on the outside, working to take care of me, but… a year later, he stopped on the outside, too. I was… six?”

It was a mess of blue and green bruises, and I felt at least two broken ribs when I checked over his ribcage with one hand (causing him to gasp for air). I had to work hard, and for that, I dismissed the monkey’s skin, taking off my expensive jacket to turn it into practical bandages. “How’d you get your powers?” I asked, just to keep him talking.

“Undercity… cave-in. I was stuck… under rubble…”

I nodded. Classic, straightforward trigger for such a power. “Why’d you become a hero?” I removed the metal from the stump of his arm, using a rag of my jacket to clean it off – despite his cries – and then made a proper tourniquet with several of my impromptu bandages, so it’d hold even if he passed out and his power stopped working.

“After dad… stopped… was in… Vegas. Savage Six came. Mindfuck, he came after me, other kids. We ran, tried to flee, but how do you flee from someone coming after you inside your head?” He cried out again as I began to wrap his ribcage, to provide some stiff support for his ribs. “Then I saw… him. Boy, just a bit older than me… killed him. He killed him, just like that.”

I sighed, knowing where this story went. I’d never run into the Six myself, before, but I knew their MO, especially Mindfuck’s. Everyone did, really. “You watched the boy die, and decided to protect people?”

“N-no. The boy… he killed Mindfuck. Saw it through… Mindfuck’s eyes. Boy killed him. Did worse to him, before he killed him.”

Wait, what? I stopped my work on the bandages to focus on his face. He had a mystified expression on it, but he seemed to have his wits about him. A kid killed Mindfuck?

“I thought… he was just… nine? Something like that. If someone that age can… kill a monster like that… then surely I can… I can do some good, too? So when I… when I got my powers, I decided to… to make a place. For all the lost ones, like me and dad and bro and that boy. So I made my tenements…” He turned his head to look at the smashed structure, and now I saw tears come out of his eyes. “I’ll have to… start over again.”

And over, and over. Such things don’t last in this world, I thought, but didn’t say. “I’m sure you will,” I said instead. Then I covered myself in my monkey skin again, listening to the battle – I could still hear Warren’s armor move and shoot, so I knew he was still alive. Judging by the amount of rage-fueled screaming, Volca was still alive, as well. “I need to go fight.”

He looked at me, his eyes glazed over with pain, but nodded. “Can you… put me closer to it? I can still… control the metal… for protection… if I touch it.”

Carefully, I picked him up and carried him to the warped structure. As soon as I leaned him against it, the metal flowed under him, forming a solid metal chair he could sit on. Some more movement deposited Lag’s remains nearby, as well as bits and pieces of other people.

I averted my eyes and turned to go, but a tendril of cool metal reached out, grabbing my elbow. I looked over my shoulder at the boy, feeling the monkey’s face distort in annoyance at the delay.

“W-wait!” he said. “Got to… tell you… his power.”

Ah. Yeah, that would be useful. “I’m listening.”

“Flies… not very strong… not very tough… but more than usual. Blast attack… but not very strong, either.” I looked up at the damage the guy had done to the structure, then back at him. The monkey’s face wasn’t that good at conveying skepsis, but I did my best. “Real power… in his eyes. Looks at things… weakens them. Gradually, but quickly. Attacks loose… force… defenses become… weak… bodies…” He glanced at Lag’s remains and at his stump. “T-t-tested… before he… hit me. Power only works… on what he sees. Effect fades once… once he’s not focusing his sight… on target. Raised metal wall… he made it weak, I could feel it… through my power.” He stopped, taking a few quick breaths. “Drew in… affected material, replaced it. Effect faded… within seconds.”

“So he’s not very tough, nor very strong, but he can weaken attacks and defenses enough that he’s functionally far more powerful,” I summarised it. I glanced at Lag. “And it apparently circumvents certain defences entirely.”

He nodded, but didn’t respond. I nodded back and left.


Thank God for supervillains in love with their own voice. As annoying as they can be, the advantage it poses to those of a more pragmatic disposition is simply invaluable.

When I came around the warped tenements, I found Blauschwinge in the air, unharmed, his long cape waving dramatically (how do they do that? I’d never been able to do a cape, and I’d tried) as he ranted something in heavily accented English. I didn’t bother to listen, and just looked for my allies.

Volca was standing behind a torn and partly melted mass of rusty pipes, just barely out of sight from Blauschwinge and just barely in my sight, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath. Her costume had taken some damage, as had her body undearneath – so much so that I suspected she was only a short while away from passing out due to blood loss.

Warren was nearby, the bulk of his power suit barely hidden from Blauschwinge’s sight by a piece of the ground that had risen up due to an earlier impact. The right arm was wrecked, mostly gone beneath the elbow and the rest that remained twisted and useless, but he seemed to have sustained no further damage.

Nor had he caused any to Blauschwinge, however.

Well, that’s what I’m best at. Causing lots and lots of damage.

And if Malphas’ analysis of his power was correct, then that meant I could probably take him down with one hit.

<Aap, you hear me?> Warren’s voice suddenly rang in my ear, startling me. I’d completely forgotten that I was wearing an earpiece of his – how embarrassing.

“Loud and clear, my friend. How’re things going?” I said as I hid behind the corner of the tenements. “Need me to speed blitz this ass?”

<I don’t think that’s going to be so easy. I’m not sure how he does it, but he’s been slowing down my shots, making them stupidly easy to dodge, if they didn’t just fall to the ground halfway to him.>

Well, that was interesting. Disconcerting, but interesting. “Malphas briefed me on his power, but he didn’t tell me it also sapped speed.”

<Yeah, this ass is a lucky one. Seems to cover all the bases. He’s countered everything angry girl and me threw at him, just by looking at it. And he’s royally messed with my armor!>

Somehow, I was sure he’d have preferred it if he’d lost an arm, not that armor of his. “I have a plan. Can you distract him?”

<His sight even works on motherfucking acid, dude. I’m not sure I have anything that could affect him.>

Wow, that’s one hell of a power. “You didn’t answer my question. Can you distract him?”

<I can try. Just tell me when, and I’ll give it my best shot.>

I didn’t hesitate. “Go!”

He rose up from behind his cover, aiming his gun at Blauschwinge. The villain immediately turned to face him, which gave me a clear shot at his side, just barely out of his peripheral vision.

I ran, without even bothering to wait and see what Warren would fire at him. There was no way I could use my top speed – there wasn’t enough room, and I was more likely to simply run into a wall than manage to hit shit at top speed, anyway – but going from zero to a hundred and forty in three seconds flat was still pretty good.

The sewage plant had taken heavy damage, the ground was cracked… really, the entire foundation had probably taken too much damage by now. No way this was safe anymore. But it did provide me with a lot of small ramps to pick and choose from, and I ran straight for one halfway between me and Blauschwinge, and just leapt up and towards him like a monkey-shaped missile, aiming for his neck (I’d only promised to bring in the Ascendant alive, if possible).

He whirled around as soon as I kicked off the ground, even though there’d been no way he could’ve seen or heard me coming. As soon as his gaze fell on me, I was hit with the full force of his power.

God. Fucking. Dammit! I could feel myself slowing down even before I visibly did so, I could feel the monkey skin weakening, and I could very much see his fist moving to intercept my flight.

I didn’t know whether he was strong enough to kill me with one punch, without my monkey skin’s protection, I didn’t know whether it maybe reached beneath the skin and into my actual body – so I decided not to risk a direct hit, and I aborted my attack, crossing my arms in front of me to take his punch; even if I were to lose them, as long as I survived, I was sure my father’s people could put me back together.

His fist connected with my crossed forearms and punched through the monkey’s skin like the Fist of God.

It was far less godly when it connected with my forearms. Though it hurt – pound for pound, he was probably stronger than me, not counting monkey skin and weakening gaze – it only threw me away from him without causing further damage.

“Ha, I knew you’d try an underhanded trick like thaaaaaa-!” His boast was cut off as my tail wrapped around his throat from behind. I pulled, swinging myself behind him and out of the area of effect of his gaze.

As soon as I left it, I felt the effect start to fade, though if it’d penetrated to my actual body, I would not have trusted myself to survive, say, a hug from Princess Charity without major damage. But my tail had remained unaffected, as I’d first hidden it behind my body, then reached around beneath and behind him – Malphas had been right, he needed to actually have the specific object he wanted to weaken in his sight, and my tail hadn’t been.

The villain sputtered, choking as I landed on all fours behind him and pulled him down with my tail.

He made a most satisfying crack when I slammed him into the ground, but it didn’t put him down for more than a few seconds – I felt him grip my tail a little away from his neck and simply tear it apart as soon as his gaze got a hold of it. Moments before I would’ve crushed his throat, too.

Annoying power. I didn’t waste time turning around, and just jumped backwards, to slam into him before he could use his power on me directly, turning only once I was airborne – but he was fast, faster than I would’ve expected, rising up from the ground in a practiced pirouette that made his cape flare dramatically, and also served to throw off dust.

His gaze hit me moments before the green-blue energy blast from his clenched fist did, his face twisted in anger. It didn’t have time to really weaken me enough to cause serious damage, but once more, he arrested my movement, interrupting my assault on him. And this time, he also blasted my tail away with a shot from his other fist.

“You! Will! DIE!” he shouted and flew towards me – only to pull off an impressive evasion, twisting like a corkscrew, to dodge Warren’s own tackle. He simultaneously looked at my friend’s power armor’s shoulder, and kicked it, tearing off his remaining arm.

Prescient, maybe. Smart, definitely not. He’d turned his back to me, never a good idea when dealing with a Speedster.

I capitalised by slamming my hands into the ground and throwing two chunks of concrete the size of an adult at him, following closely with the projectiles doubling as cover.

Again, he reacted faster than any human could on his own, blasting my projectiles to bits – and turning them into nicely concealing clouds of concrete dust.

I soared through the dust, using my scent to keep track of him, but again he acted too quickly even for me, flipping up over my attack before I’d even started emerging from the cloud.

His blast knocked me into the ground, tearing through the back of the monkey. Fuck me, this almost hurt.

He was laughing again, a demented, all-too-familiar laugh. “See? See!? You can’t stand against me, I’m-“

Warren interrupted his tirade by throwing his disconnected arm at Blauschwinge, but the villain only caught it, rather casually, with one hand, holding it by its upper portion, the elbow bent and the gun swinging wildly left and right as he shook it in contempt.

“Was that supposed to hurt me, little Tüftler? Throwing pieces of your little toy at me? What’re you going to do next, throw yourself at me?” He grinned wildly at my friend, and I almost took the chance to leap at him, but then Warren surprised both of us.

“No,” he said out loud, but calmly. “I’m going to use the remote control.

Blauschwinge’s eyes widened, his face turning towards the canon even as he threw it away from himself – but it was too late. It lit up, firing a glob of blue-hot liquid fire at his face.

I could see his power working on it, immediately, much faster than it had worked on my monkey skin, the heat diminishing visibly, reduced to a red glow, but he could not evade it anymore, and it took him in the face, more napalm splattering onto his shoulders and chest.

Blauschwinge screamed louder than I’d heard anyone scream in a long time, his arms clawing at his face, trying to scoop the napalm away – but that only served to burn his hands too, and it let some of it flow into his mouth, turning his screams into gargled sounds of pain. I heard his flesh sizzle before I even smelled it.

But Warren was not done. As the arm fell to the ground, he fired a second shot, and without Blauschwinge’s power to lessen it, it took off the man’s right leg at the knee.

Blauschwinge collapsed, even though he was still floating above the ground, screaming and trashing around, face, neck, chest, arms and leg stump burning as he thrashed around to no avail.

Both Warren and I approached him slowly, ready to strike again, but it seemed he was done.

“Time to pay the piper, asshole,” Warren said as a smaller, human-sized (but clearly robotic) arm folded out of the chest of his armor, holding a simple handgun. “No one touches my family and gets away with it!” He pulled the trigger.

My hand shot forward, the bullet hitting the monkey’s open palm to no effect. “No,” I said firmly.

His ‘head’ turned to look at me, and I could guess what kind of facial expression he had there. “Why’re you stopping me?”

“You’re no murderer, Warren. If you want him dead, I’ll do it. But not you,” I said calmly, far more gentle than I was used to while covered in the monkey’s skin. “It would haunt you forever.”

“Aap, I…” He turned to look at the struggling man, as did I – just in time to see Volca get behind him and punch him with her volcanic arm.

Blauschwinge’s head rocked back as her fist punched cleanly through his chest, back to front, the heat so great it burned the wound shut before any blood could flow.

He collapsed entirely, going limp, and slid to the ground as she lowered her arm, her other hand still normal flesh, applying pressure to a wound on her side.

We all looked down at the figure, his face and hands burned down to an unrecognisable mess, his eyes gone entirely. He looked almost pathetically small now, wasted.

“No one fucks with my family and gets away with it, either,” Volca snarled.

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88 thoughts on “B011.13 Monkey Family

  1. I wasn’t too happy with the second half of the finale, so I’m going to rewrite it before posting. It should follow quickly, though, now that I’m back to writing properly.

  2. We’ve only had to see that guy for one, barely two, scenes and yet his death felt immensely satisfying.

    I hope Malphas survives… wait a second. Isn’t one of the five star mentionned is the Shaper right? I need to look back but Malphas may fit the bill… Unbound and gentle… maybe…

    Also why is there no Brennus WMG TV Tropes pages? Isn’t there enough guessing about these five stars?

  3. He doesn’t think as smart as Brennus. I’d have suggested a smoke bomb… or for a simple option, just smash the floor until there’s so much dust in the room he can’t see squat.

    Still, good to have another chapter!

    • I was thinking smoke-bombs, too. And wondering if Warren had anything like that.

      And for Malphas, I was thinking he could make something in layers, so that only the outer layers got weakened. I had an image of metal leaves shredding Blauschwinge, with the inner, un-weakened layers ripping through the outer layers like aluminum foil.

      Then again, we don’t know how long Malphas fought him. Considering that he and Volca lived, he must have done pretty well.

      • I think I might have been under the wrong impression for how Blauschwinge’s power worked. I thought that he couldn’t weaken an entire complicated object, since Malphas spoke about swapping in non-weakened materials.

        To attempt text-art, suppose a structure shaped like this, but all in one piece:
        (Malphas) -|-|-|-|-|-| (Blauschwinge)
        Would his power weaken all the vertical walls? Or just the couple closest to him?

      • depends on how “connected” they are. he was able to weaken most of the tenements all at once, as they were mostly made out of one solid piece of melded metal, yet he couldn’t reach beyond Aap’s monkey skin, as it is formed an inch or so off his own skin.

        So, if the separate layers were completely disconnected, he’d only weaken the foremost one… however, that would also mean that Malphas would lose control over all but the hindmost layer, as he can only control metal which he is in touch with

      • I see. I was under a misunderstanding. Still, since metal is not transparent, and Malphas can shape it to his whim, he seems like a good counter to Blauschwinge. Use walls of foil to block line-of-sight, then shoot him through the foil. Well, once he learns the trick, anyway. I’m not going to say that hitting someone with (near?) precognition would be easy without line-of-sight.

        When (and if) Malphas and Brennus meet, they will be a scary combination. I get this image of them coming up with pure-metal crossbows that Malphas can easily mass-create and fire.

  4. Excellent chapter! I enjoyed Blauschwinge’s death even through he was only about for a short while.

    I’m going to say that my theory is that the kid who killed the member of the Savage Six was Macian.

    • Oh yeah. I though it was Ember at first, but that didn’t make that much sense because Malphas would’ve recognized him or something, and Ember doesn’t kill.

      • I’m also pretty sure Ember wasn’t in Vegas. There’s been no mention of it in the story and I feel like Ember’s history is a little more widely known – so Aap would have assumed that. Wonder what split them up? And where in the timeline Vegas happened?

    • What is the date of the story? Macian had to have killed mindfuck before June 2006 when he meant ember. I dont think the dates match Malphas age.

      • The relevant dates, as far as I can tell, are:

        B005 Ember of Hope 13th June 2006 –
        (London Nightmare – Late 2006ish)
        (Money deposited in Basil’s account – May 2007ish)
        B007.b Darkly Dreaming Ember Oct 2007
        (Ember’s Exile Jan 2008)
        (Macian disappears presumably 2008ish?? late 2007?)

        This chapter is towards the end of October 2012. Mindfuck was definitely still alive when Macian met Ember, and he was also there for the London nightmare.

        I’m going to guess that it happened sometime late 2007/early 2008 and then Macian quit following the Savage Six and dissappeared afterwards. If Macian was 8 in B005, he could have still been nine when that went own in this time frame.Malphas makes this timeline harder to stretch out. If he’s twelve now, he may have been about nine in Vegas, which could fit Macian being “just a bit older”.

      • malphas is eleven, actually. he’s just an early bloomer, which is why Aap misjudged his age (plus he doesn’t really have any experience dealing with kids)

  5. How did you come up with a name like Aap Oordra anyway, it is an awesomely badass name and whenever I hear/think of it I envision a monkey king, which might have been influenced by the wielder of the name but I don’t think it was.

  6. And we’re back! This finale is turning into quite the epic.

    I was grinning when I saw the Macian reference. Aap didn’t know about it, but I’m going to assume that that would have raised Macian’s profile quite a bit. If the people at the top of the food chain weren’t interested in Macian before that, they definitely were after.

    I’m also wondering a little bit about Journeyman’s advice: “You shouldn’t kill any more than absolutely necessary”. With what we know about Journeyman, he doesn’t intervene lightly. Aap hasn’t killed yet.

    Presumably the Dark is still off scouting. What’s the bet that he comes back telling them there’s no more enemies to fight and there’s a nice, peaceful resolution to the chapter?

  7. Tieshaunn, how rare are gadgeteers that are able to do nano-tech, energy-to-matter tech and matter-to-energy tech? I know that there are only two with the ability to make forcefields (Macian not included) and only one has the ability to make teleporters.

    • there are no past or present gadgeteers other than Su Ling who had “nano-tech” or any of the others as descriptors.

      generally, “nano-tech” or “energy-to-matter” or “matter-to-energy” are too broad to count. specialise

      Su Ling was never truly classified, but she built so many different things, so far ahead of anyone else, that the only commonality people could find was that they all consumed or produced prodigal amounts of energy.

      some examples of her work:
      – a stationary laser canon that burned a long scar into the moon, visible from earth with the naked eye
      – a city-wide force-field
      – a gravity-induction reactor that essentially provided free energy
      – a factory that converted energy from her GI-reactor into matter (or perhaps used extreme amounts of energy to teleport matter in from other dimensions – no one’s sure)
      – a nano-tech factory that used the raw matter of the previous one to fabricate food, clothing, etc
      – an AI network called ‘Provider’ that managed her infrastructure
      – a sentient gynodroid named ‘Galatea’ who was her best friend until her death; she was the equivalent of an A-class cape in powerlevels
      – a global teleportation system

      the irregularity of her work, the unholy amount of resources it took to make it and the fact that she seemed unable to build anything more than once – as well as the fact that her most impressive creations were not revealed until after her death – prevented a higher rating, but she was hands down one of the most powerful metahumans period.

      if you have even one gadgeteer who can achieve just one of those feats, you have seriously overpowered them. Macian & Sovereign are distant seconds to Su Ling, and neither of them come even close to her, though Macian could match her in AI design and Sovereign in terms of mass production

      • We don’t have any like that in our game and I’m planning to cap our star forge gadgeteer at the Paragon tier anyway, but I was wondering since these sorts of technology were mentioned in the RPG rules, but haven’t been mentioned in story. I have also been wondering how common AGIs like Macian’s Eudocia or ASIs like Wyrm’s Silver.

      • Silver is not really an ASI, though it may appear so. much simpler. a baby AI, really.

        AGIs like Eudocia? until Su Ling, no one even knew they were possible. She made two (the Provider Network, which was essentially a high-powered network of ASIs; and Galatea, which was a limited AGI).

        There’s also an AGI out there calling itself “Robin Hood”, and another that called itself “Morgana”, but that one was destroyed; both of unknown (but considering their nature and naming scheme, probably shared) origin

        Morgana is wildly known to the public, though few believe she was actually a gadget – most think she was another Contriver AI (of which there are quite a few, though they almost ALL go crazy)

        some people mistakenly believe Sovereign to have ASIs built into his subjugators, though others believe they are remotely piloted. he guards the secret jealously, though. he certainly does NOT have access to AGIs

      • So are there Gadget ASIs in the Brennusverse then? Could you provide some more information if there are.

      • depends on how you define ASIs. there are certainly very sophisticated programs at the higher end of the scale, which can process and make complex statements – to a point. it takes a specialised gadgeteer (like one specialising in base security/infrastructure, or autonomous drones) to make them, unless you go into the really high levels.

        a few canon examples…

        I<3U has several ASIs that support her hacking endeavours. they are mostly only useful for breaking into computer systems or repelling attacks on computer systems – not much else, unless you want to play chess.

        you shouldn't go beyond extremely specialised ASIs, unless the character specialises SOLELY in creating such programs. And I would advise against involving AGIs at all.

      • Thanks for the information Tieshaunn. I had already decided that AGIs would be too advanced, but I have been thinking of including an low level ASI – more of autonomous support system to handle day-to-day maintenance and recordkeeping than anything.

      • keep in mind that gadgets need to be maintained by the gadgeteer who made them. an ASI can’t compensate fully for that – it can cut down the time he’d have to spend on maintenance down by half, or even more, but never remove it altogether.

        and the program itself would require maintenance itself, to prevent the code from being corrupted

      • I haven’t forgotten that. The idea I have is that the founding gadgeteer of the town left a few bases and equipment lying around in the event of a emergency (he lived and died in WWII) and the players or their enemies may find them and attempt to get them working again as they are pretty much all broken after half a century.

        To be honest, this is more finding out how plausible a potential idea rather than something I am properly planning on including in our game. Just expanding the background of our town so I can have avenues open to the players rather than railroad them.

      • I think it’s unlikely something as complex as an ASI would still be working today; it would most likely have broken down due to lack of maintenance, unless it was deactivated the whole time

        also, it would be a VERY clunky system. gadgeteers evolve with the time – as technology as a whole progressed, so did they; this is not due to an inherent limit in the ability of tenants to come up with sci-fi tech, but rather that they rely on present-day input; so the same gadgeteer would come up with wildly different inventions in 1940 than in 2000.

        for example, Wyrm started out with radio equipment, a helmet that tapped into radio frequencies and very compact walkie-talkies; as she kept improving her work, and the world kept advancing, her power triggered off of more and more complex concepts and examples, and nowadays she has an ASI-controlled dragon drone and works mostly through the internet

      • this is the main reason why Gadgeteers are so sought after, btw. unlike other metahumans, they just plain KEEP getting better with time, passively or actively

    • That’s good to know. I’ll probably have out-dated, corrupted and pretty much gone ASI that will need to be replaced then by Beowulf or someone while the gadgets would be structurally intact, but need a re-haul to get working. By the way, these gadgets are best would be as good as modern tech and generally worse, but the gadgeteers in-game won’t realise that, they’ll just see a treasure trove of old gadgets to fix. Basically Einn was ahead of this time for his technology level while he was alive, but the half a century since his death as seen the rest of the world catch up or surpass him.

      • isn’t beowulf supposed to specialise in handheld military equipment? I don’t see him having any chance to work with even a primitive ASI

      • Beowulf is Star forge, his specialisation will broaden as he get higher in the tiers. Tought he’ll be capped at parangon apparently.

        My guess is it would work because it’d be a military AI, and one specialized in maintaining military material.

      • tbh, unless he breaches apex, I’d stay away from him creating ASI or anything comparable.

        at his peak, he ought to be able to maintain an existing Military ASI, perhaps even help a theoretical AGI (VERY theoretical scenario), but certainly not create it.

      • Actually that’s just from when he was 1/1 Exemplar. His overall specialisation is Military Equipment. So when he reaches 6/6 (that’s when I’m capping him) he will be able to build stuff like military base (but that would take him a few months) and power armour. So he could built a basic ASI for a target system to keep track of his equipment or to run an underground military bunker. But beyond that he is pretty awful at technology. He could built a screen as part of a security system or a remote weapon, but the screen couldn’t be used to watch TV or play games. Basically he will eventually be able to build basics ASIs, but they would have to have a specific militarised purpose and wouldn’t be able to do anything outside of that purpose.

        For his gadgeteer specialisation, it will go like this.
        1 Exemplar – Handheld Weapons
        2 Exemplar – Handheld Equipment
        3 Exemplar – Handheld Equipment and Non-Powered Armour
        4 Paragon – Personal Equipment including Limited Bulky Power Armour
        5 Paragon – More Advanced Personal Equipment including Limited Power Armour as he starts to get beyond normal technology (Polymnia worked at the normal technology level and was rated 3 as a result.)
        6 Paragon – Remote Equipment such as basic ASIs and drones.

      • polymnia has a sonic force-cage, can induce various emotional and physical states through her music AND create recording and replaying equipment of such quality it can fool even super-powered listeners.

        she’s a good deal beyond normal tech

        as for his development as a star forge:
        you shouldn’t plan this out in advance so much. the development is not fixed. he may or may not get stuck earlier. all his powers may evolve, or only one of them

        looking at beowulf’s powerset, he’d only develop those powers which are most often challenged, and in reaction to the most common elements among those challenges. so he may well ONLY improve his physical enhancements, if he’s mostly challenged in that way. or he may develop a second speciality for performance-enhancing drugs instead of expanding his primary speciality.

        maybe it’ll be his power-reducing ability that is most often challenged (though that is rather unlikely – I Don’t see that one developing at all, the way it’s set up), and he might evolve that

        point is, don’t plan ahead. see how the game goes, and react to that. the whole point of a star forge is that it adapts in the long term.

        mechanically, look at each of his seperate powers and see how it’s challenged individually. his strength and toughness come from two different powers, so he may well only become tougher, but not stronger, while also developing better gadgets.

        each power may get “stuck” individually, too. so he may end up never going beyond a single upgrade to his toughness, for example

        also, most star forges take months, if not years for just one “upgrade”. unless you play with time skips, it’s unlikely he’d have more than one or two in this game.

      • looking over him, it seems to me his gadgeteering is more of a secondary, if not tertiary ability, related to his theme. his evolution would most likely focus on his more direct, combat-related abilities, with some minor improvements to his gadgeteering that don’t so much increase its rating as they broaden what he can do within that level; or perhaps it’d develop a secondary speciality that further improves on his primary powers, like the aforementioned performance-enhancing drugs;

        or he might gain a secondary speciality to create and continuously work on a single, personal motorcycle, which he outfits further with the weaponry he makes off his primary speciality

        at least that’s how I’d write him, if he was a character in my story

      • That makes more sense. From what I read in the rules, it seemed like his powers increased at the same level. I’ll make the Star Forge characters grow the way you just mentioned, adapting their powers to the situation rather than planning them out ahead of time.

      • long-term situations. they won’t adapt to something that happens in a single battle, they’ll adapt to long-term circumstances (like if he just keeps getting hurt in battles – he’s not so tough that normal guns can’t hurt him – he’ll become tougher over time)

      • I’m going to use this information to rewrite Beowulf’s powers and past a bit as long as they don’t affect what he has already happened in gameplay. He has already told other characters can be put down to him lying (the guy is a secretive and mistrusting arsehole).

  8. Are there limits on what a Tenant theme can be? Like are they only broad physics concept (time, space…) and maybe biological (growt, hunger…) or do they include more vague philosophical or pschological ones (love, self…) or could it be anything (strawberries, chair, lightbulb…)

    • they can be pretty broad, but they tend to be more universal. for example, you won’t find “love” but you’ll find “connection”, perhaps “positive connection” or “mutual connection”.

      Generally, the theme can be a subject (time, speed, connection, emotion) or an approach (adaptation, support, immovable). sometimes both, depending on how it interacts with the metahuman.

      to use one of your suggestions, the theme of “Growth” might result in:

      – a contriving ability that plants flesh-seeds which grow into various kinds of bio-tech
      – a gadgeteer who works with plants, specialising in rapid growth and the manipulation thereof
      – a size-shifter who absorbs ambient non-living material to grow in size and density

      these would be examples of Growth as a subject.

      – a limited shapeshifter who grows physical adaptations against whatever harms her, for a limited time
      – a gadgeteer who has a particularly broad field to work in, or several specialised fields, but everything she makes starts out simple, small and new inventions have to be built upon these former, lesser inventions; if she wants a new item, instead of just building upon an existing one, she has to start from scratch with it, building it up from the lowest level

      these would be examples of growth as an approach

      the same tenant could have growth as both a subject and an approach, or one tenant might focus on growth as a subject, the other as an approach

      before anyone asks, no, there are no specialised contriver, gadgeteer or other power-focused tenants. each has their own theme, but the theme can be applied very broadly, mostly depending on the person who manifests and the circumstances of the manifestation

    • basically, when I’m working out a new power, I usually choose (or just roll) a theme, then I start thinking in the abstract, applying it directly or indirectly to the circumstances of manifestation.

      the weirder you can interpret a supposedly straightforward theme, the prouder you’ll make me😉

      • Thank you it perfectly answer my question, I was asking because since our last conversation I’d been pretty sure about the theme of my contriver’s tenant. That is until I realized there was more than one recurring element to his contrivances but I wasn’t sure the second one would qualify as a theme. It does and that could eventually turn interresting…

        By the way, it seem to be implied but just to be sure: themes aren’t uniques among tenants if I understand correctly? Several tenant might have the same theme thought they might not all focus on it in the same way and none will give the same power.

      • several tenants may have the same theme, but no two in quite the same way.

        if, say, two tenants have the theme “time”, and they both connect to the same person, at exactly the same time, in exactly the same circumstances, but in two different dimensions (one in each), there’d be different results for either.

        one might have a more methodical, precise bent, while the other is cruder, preferring more overt displays of power. one might apply it internally (precognition? postcognition? some form of personal time travel?), another externally (looping time around others, or freezing them, or sending them back and forth).

        and this is all BEFORE their host and the circumstances factor into it. The end result is that there are never two powers which work exactly the same way, even if the end result is identical

        I really ought to update the rp system…

      • So many possibilities… I love it.

        If you do find the time to update the RP rules don’t hesitate to ask us about quirks in the system as we are essentially playtesting them. We’ve already got some funny occurence and one circumstance where the Oshha had to hack a little (a pnj got both Star Forge and Dream of Fantasia at character creation. It was decided that he would start as level one exemplar as according the star forge but would get the supplementary Dreams as these suited the plot).

      • If you need any help rewriting the rules, I am more than willing to help and just got a bunch of free time on my hands since its pretty much the end of college this year for me (only three weeks left at most) and I got all my work completed.

      • I have attempted to come up with a way to explain how the Star Forge characters in the RPG work in greater and clear detail.

        Try not to plan your power advances ahead as they should adapt to the circumstances surrounding you. If you have multiple powers, look at which powers are being challenged when increasing a level. The powers might stay the same course as a Gadgeteer specialising in weapons might come up with combat-enhancing drugs to make up for a lack of physical prowess. Powers might become individually struck as if you don’t have need to improve such as someone with enhanced strength as part of power spread might not go beyond Exemplar Tier if they don’t have need for their strength as they rely on their other powers and teammates. These increases in level might not necessarily increase what you can already do, but broaden what you are able to do at that level.

        What do you think?

  9. Hey Tieshaunn, are their canon characters will powers that work like the Star Forge does? So they start off really weak, but become stronger over time?

  10. Hey Tieshaunn, what major wars have there been in the Brennusverse since Point Zero? World War II was 1944-1960 right? And that was that one that App fought in, the Califate War right?

    • I’m writing this on the go, so the dates may not be entirely accurate – but it should give you a rough overview:

      Russian Civil War 1924 – 1925 (sovjets won)

      Balkan War 1930 – 1936 (no winner)

      Sovjet-Finnish War 1933 – 1935 (finland repelled Sovjets)

      Too many African Wars and Civil Wars to count until WW2
      World War 2 1939 – 1960 (Weisswald loses… eventually)

      First Chinese War of Independence 1962 (succeeded for all of 3 months)

      Argentinian-Brazilian War 1962-1963 (Brazil won)

      The Great South American War 1963-1965 (interrupted)

      South African – Namibian War 1964 – 1965 (interrupted)

      Japanese – Sovjet War 1964 – 1965 (interrupted)

      Canadian – Sovjet Skirmishes, 1965 (interrupted)

      Tibetan War of Independence 1965 (interrupted)

      Greek – Turkish War 1963 – 1965 (interrupted)

      Second Chinese War for Independence 1965 (interrupted)

      Many, many smaller conflicts until 1965

      1965: The Martian Invasion

      followed by two years of (mostly) world peace, as everyone picked up the pieces

      1967 The Great South African Civil War (equality won!)

      1967 – 1968 The North-South Korean War (both devastated)

      There were also numerous minor wars and civil wars, mostly in South America, Indonesia, South Asia and all over Africa, partly until the end of the century and some still go on today

      1971 Third Chinese War for Independence (failed)

      1988 – 1990 Sovereign’s Campaign (GAIN is founded)

      1994 – 1996 The Caliphate War (Caliphate devastated most of the Middle East, but was driven back before it could spread beyond it)

      Australia was in a state of near-constant civil war, ethnic cleansings, massacres and more, from 1931 until 2000 (when Madeleine pacified the continent)

      1999 – 2001 Korean Pacification Campaign (USA and Allies re-establish a democratic government on the korean peninsula)

      2002 – 2005 Serbo-Kroation Civil War (Kroatia seccedes from Serbia)

      2003 – 2004 Second Greek – Turkish War (armistice)

      2004 Sovjet-Australian Ten-Day-War (AMU wins)

      2004 – 2006 Korean-Japanese war (Japan wins, Korea is dissolved entirelyy and absorbed by Japan and Sovjet Union)

      2010 – 2011 Australian-Indonesian War (AMU wins)

      • again, case-by-case basis. options are:

        – at first there’d just be a warning
        – mandatory seminars on ethics, chain of command or whatever else is believed to be the issue
        – mandatory extra therapy, beyond the usual
        – possibly house arrest and/or docked pay

        there are allowances for families, though. They are much more forgiving of those cases, so long as they don’t actively break the law.

        Nor can heroes – junior or not – be ordered to go into combat against family members (for example, the UH would never try to deploy Irene against the Dark, even if she was willing), and junior heroes are actively discouraged from doing so.

  11. Great chapter.
    A little constructive criticism.
    The conversation between Warren and Aap seems like it’s either missing parts or clunky. Where does Aap learn that the weakening affects speed?

    I love your work, and hope to keep reading for a long time. Just offering some feedback.

    • I’m glad you like it, and thank you for the endorsement😉

      It appears wordpress just plain deleted parts of the dialogue when I published this. I think I’ve fixed the missing pieces now, though

      • It looks better, but still missing what appears to be a piece of dialogue from Warren. To quote,

        ““Loud and clear, my friend. How’re things going?” I said as I hid behind the corner of the tenements. “Need me to speed blitz this ass?”

        (Missing dialogue goes here)

        Well, that was interesting. Disconcerting, but interesting. “Malphas briefed me on his power, but he didn’t tell me it also sapped speed.””

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