B12.11 Born At Sleep

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A flickering, unstable line, looking more like a bolt of blue-white lightning than some kind of beam, shot out of the rail-like barrel of the subjugator’s main weapon, hitting Crocell dead centre.

Basil felt an odd tug in the back of his head, something that felt almost nostalgic, as he watched the discharged energy dance over the monster’s hide, lesser bolts branching out of the impact site to score its upper arms, its face and its stomach, as the main bolt burned a hole into its chest, the outer layers of its hide and flesh seeming to outright disintegrate as the initial blast hit them, while the flesh and bones below were torn apart and burned with lesser intensity, yet no more slowly than before as the attack tore into its chest.

Now what does that remind me of? Basil asked himself, surprised by the sensation – he was quite certain he’d never built anything like that, nor even made plans for anything truly comparable – even his disintegration beam, had building it worked out, would have operated differently than this. He elected to keep watching (like he was going to pass up the chance to watch Sovereign’s creation at work – in fact, he was recording it all for uploading to Toybox later) and try to recapture that sensation, perhaps even trace it back to its origin.

It became immediately evident that the weapon was not meant for sustained fire – the bolt was not maintained at all, merely discharged upon the foe, going on for a mere three or four seconds (he’d have to time it later) before the barrel and Crocell were no longer connected by it.

Residuel energy danced along the barrel of the Subjugator’s weapon as well as within the wound that had been burned into the monster’s body. Most of its chest was gone, leaving only the very edges intact, wrapping around the gaping hole that went so deep, it revealed the beast’s spine. Pale, now burned flesh still clung to the exposed bones, if barely, but if it had ever had actual organs in there, they were now gone. Yet even with this much damage done, Basil could clearly see the telltale bubbling of its remaining flesh, as it produced more material to rebuild itself with – though, in all fairness, it seemed to work much slower upon this wound than upon previous ones.

Crocell’s eye swiveled down to look upon the gaping hole, as if in disbelief – not that any actual emotion could be made out on its face, if it could even be called that. And then… it collapsed, simply folding upon itself.

“GAZE UPON OUR GLORIOUS SOVEREIGN’S MIGHT! WHAT YOU COULD NOT ACCOMPLISH WITH DOZENS OVER NIGH ON A HALF-HOUR, ONE OF THE LEAST OF HIS CREATIONS DID IN 4 SECONDS!!!” the choir of voices shouted over the machine’s loudspeakers and the com channels. Basil could not even begrudge them (or him, or it) hacking into his own – however they had managed it – after seeing that demonstration. They’d done more damage in one shot than the alliance of heroes and villains had done during the entire fight.

But how? That is the question, he asked himself, while the Subjugator began to unload its secondary armaments – swarms of micro-missiles raining down on Crocell’s body. The explosions were so intense, they shook the entire block, causing glass to break for at least another block in every direction. How does that weapon work, that it would cause so much damage. Worst of all, he knew that he could figure it out, couldn’t shake the feeling that the answer was there, within reach, but something was preventing him from making the connection, from truly grasping it.

The bombardment continued while he fought with his own brain, trying to bridge that gap that kept him from figuring out what he knew he should be able to figure out. It was just like his problems with inventing that he’d had for a while now, that maddening sensation of a gap, of a wall that kept him from reaching the answers, from truly tapping fully into his power.

The Subjugator ran out of micro-missiles, or perhaps it simply decided – if such a term could apply to an automated gadget – to stop and see how its assault had affected the monster.

A blue-white beam lanced out of the smoke and dust, even as the sounds of collapsing structures continued, the street visibly sagging as it sunk towards the local Shades. It hit the Subjugator dead-centre – or would have, except it was stopped by its force-fields flaring up a few metre in front of the aircraft itself.

Basil watched in amazement as its shields visibly strained, creating a frankly gorgeous lightshow, yet held, deflecting the beam at no harm to the actual subjugator. It blared something, another praise of Sovereign along with a boast regarding its prowess, but he didn’t bother to listen; he wasn’t even looking at the Subjugator itself anymore, as much as he would have liked to, as seductive as it was to his sensibilities as a Gadgeteer, because Crocell was lumbering out of the dust and smoke that the assault upon him had kicked up.

Only, it couldn’t really be said that he was lumbering anymore and, frankly, what came out of the dust cloud bore little resemblance to the beast they’d been fighting until now.

It had grown slim, its shape compacted into a wiry, humanoid form, though it somehow looked even more unnatural than before. It was less than half its previous size, even though it looked like it had grown taller, up to twenty metre from its feet to its head, yet so compact it still seemed to consist of less mass than before. Its torso and hips reminded Basil of nothing so much as an emaciated human, a mummy perhaps, the flesh gone to the point where the bones were visible, only the effect was twisted, even more unsettling due to what was frankly an inhuman bone structure, its ribcage seemingly extending to cover its stomach and attach directly to its hips, from which a pair of long, spindly legs with overly thick, knot-like knees and ankles protruded, ending toe-less, sickle-like feet balancing on their tips. The legs as a whole were longer than its torso was, and its arms were longer still, almost twice as long as it was tall. It was bent forward, its arms angled with the hands – which looked more like two irregular, uneven masses of tentacles than actual hands spreading out over the ground like roots – on the broken street, yet its elbows stuck far up above its torso. Its head had changed, as well, gaining definition. It now had a noticable neck, though it was unnaturally thin and flexible, judging by how it was twisting and turning its head every which way, taking in its surroundings. There seemed to be a skull beneath the skin, now, if not a human one; its maw, wide and gaping as before, was placed normally, facing forward, but its eye stuck out of the upper left portion of its skull, where the left temple should’ve been, making up almost a third of the head’s mass like some kind of bulbuous tumor. It had no features other than those two. Its skin had lost its camouflage – not that it had been of use to it, thanks to Hollywood’s power making stealth nearly impossible – and now had a dull green-blue colour, like an algae-filled patch of the ocean, brightening and darkening in odd, nauseating patterns. Its huge eye swerved around in its socket, until it focused on the Subjugator, which was hovering just out of reach of its over-long arms.

Another change? Did taking so much damage trigger it, perhaps, or is it just going to keep changing its form as time passes, regardless of what happens to it? Neither was a welcome thought – one meant that fighting it would only drive it to take new and potentially more dangerous forms, the other meant that not fighting and putting it down as quickly as they could would only lead it to become more and more dangerous, if it also happened to improve itself with each metamorphosis. We will not know until we try, Basil thought as he took a few steps back, before turning around and leaping off the rooftop, only to swing and pull himself onto another one, a street away. Best to keep a certain distance.

Just in time, in fact, because mere seconds after he’d done so, Crocell let loose a rumbling roar that shook the buildings around it, destroying what little glass was left intact, while at the same time releasing a ridiculous amount of mist – not steam, it did not seem to be hot at all – that spread in a huge, almost explosive wave, covering the entire block around it, up to the street he’d just swung across, yet not reaching the rooftop he was on – but the one he’d been standing on before was barely visible now, and he’d lost sight of Crocell entirely, even though its elbows should have stuck out of the billowing mist; it must have lowered them to hide better.

The Subjugator was still visible (he suspected they were programmed to be as noticable as possible – Sovereign’s ego was the stuff of legends for a reason) as it floated just above the mist, its four spherical “eyes” moving in a regular pattern to scan the area in front and below.

“SUCH INSOLENCE! DO YOU TRULY BELIEVE SUCH A PUNY TRICK WOULD HIDE YOU FROM OUR SOVEREIGN’S MIGHTY SENSORS!?!” Its energy gun lit up again, firing a smaller but no less bright arc of… whatever it was that it fired, right into the mist.

There was a loud crack as the mist was blown away, dispersed, revealing Crocell once more. The blow had, apparently, struck the changed creature just as it had been about to run into a side street and thrown it over, its upper half slamming into a the corner of a smaller building – the source of the earlier cracking sound, continuing now as the building tilted, then collapsed, falling onto the scrambling beast. Basil just barely managed to get a look at the damage done, a whole chunk of its torso, just underneath the left armpit, was gone. Fresh flesh was already forming, yes, as the burned and blackened edges of the wound literally melted off, but it was nonetheless every bit as big a hit as earlier, its new body proving to be no more resistant to the effect than before.

“Any idea what kind of weapon that is?”

Basil flinched at the sudden appearance of the voice, barely preventing himself from humiliating himself by squealing. It helped that the familiar voice only startled and didn’t scare him.

Taking a deep breath, he looked to his right, at the tall figure in purple standing there, balancing on those ridiculous heels of hers (they could have contained lightsabers for all he cared and it wouldn’t have made him any happier – she already drew too many of those looks from guys for him to feel comfortable about) in a casual pose, her arms crossed underneath her chest – he’d found out, to his consternation, that she did that pose deliberately, to draw attention to her chest. Another detail that grated.

He averted his eyes – easy to do, he didn’t like seeing her in her costume – and looked around both with his own eyes and his ravens, to make sure no one was near; making sure his communicator wasn’t picking up any sound, either.

“Hello Amy,” he greeted her warmly, if carefully; he was well aware of how little she liked seeing him here. “No, I do not know what that is, not exactly. I have a few suspicions, but nothing I would feel confident about.”

“Sucks,” she replied, seemingly as casual as when she’d discuss a news report, even though he could hear a certain tightness to her tone of voice. “I’d sure as hell like to know how it’s causing that kind of damage. Even Old Crocface couldn’t hurt that thing all that much.”

“I am absolutely certain that it is important. Figuring out why could be crucial to defeating Crocell, but I just can not quite figure it out!” he replied in frustration. His power had been misfiring for over a month now and he was absolutely certain that this inability to reach that conclusion he could feel in the back of his head where his power rested was a part of that. “I need more data.” He glanced at her again. “What can you tell me about it, so far? What have you been trying throughout the battle?” He had not seen her engage the beast, so far, yet he doubted that she’d been lazy.

“I’ve been trying to attack it telepathically,” she answered immediately, shifting her weight a bit to cock her hip, her left hand resting on the outward curve, while she gestured with her right hand – an unconcious stance she usually assumed when explaining something. “There’s loads of physical powerhouses here, nothing I could do on that level would be all that different from what they’re already doing, but I’m the only rea-“

She was interrupted by a painfully loud screeching sound, causing both of them to turn towards the battle, where Crocell had apparently tried to disengage the Subjugator, only to run into a huge spider’s web stretched across the street, from building to building. A cape was adding more and more lines of whatever material they used to create said web, the lithe figure vaulting all over the place to shoot the stuff from their hands, throwing out lines that’d attach to one of Crocell’s limbs, then to a building on the opposite side from its body, tightening their hold. Meanwhile, the Subjugator was approaching, its… Arc Cannon! he decided to call it… charging up again as another cape had turned into a localized twister of blades that were tearing into Crocell from the opposite side, creating that loud screeching sound as the countless cutting implements ground against its now much tougher hide, scoring it only superficially.

“As I said,” Amy continued, raising her voice so she’d be heard over the cacophony. “I’m the only real telepath here, so I was trying to see whether I could take over its mind, or at least impede or distract it, but it’s no use!”

“Why!?”

“It doesn’t really have a normal mind!” she explained. “It’s not a human nor an animal! I can feel its mind, but it’s too different for me to connect! Diffuse, like it’s… spread out, decentralised!” She brought her hands together for the last part, spreading her fingers apart in an accompanying gesture.

“A diffuse mind…” He turned away from her, looking at the fight. The Subjugator had yet to fire its arc cannon again, probably so as to avoid killing the capes who were currently in close proximity to the struggling Crocell. More melee fighters had joined the blade-storm cape and the spider-web cape. Someone was manifesting ribbons of some kind of shimmering, almost liquid-seeming metal, using them to further bind the monster, the strange material wrapping around it before it extended to the street below, fusing with the ground to tie him. Another cape, this one visibly at work, was shoring up the buildings which the web-maker had attached their web to, his tall form clad in armor that looked like it had been made out of layers of concrete as he waved his hands, causing spikes of concrete to just up from the street and brace against the structural hard points of the buildings. Several more were right on Crocell attacking him directly while avoiding causing damage to the web or being in the line of fire of the arc cannon.

“Got any bright ideas, baby bro’?” Amy quipped while admiring the spectacle. At least some of those capes had to be a team, or otherwise used to working together, blending their abilities too smoothly for it to be on the fly. “Any ideas for some kinda miracle machine that’s gonna end this?”

“Anything I came up with now would be mere guesswork,” he replied while lifting his rifle, using the scope to take a closer look at the capes. “I need more data.” Besides, I am not at all certain I could trust my power to come up with anything useful even if I had the data.

The web-maker was a young woman in a skintight black-and-blue outfit that clung to her like a second skin, its collar extending up to cover her face up to the bridge of her nose, leaving only her impossibly blue eyes, forehead, ears and brown hair free. Basil recognised her as Weaver, a popular cape from San Diego.

The concrete-manipulator had to be Rebar, one of her more recurring foes. Which meant the storm of blades was Taz, and the ribbons had to be from Shimmer. The three of them had been solo villains, as likely to fight each other as to fight the heroes, who’d been repeatedly foiled by Weaver, only to band together into a villain team not so long ago (though they’d still gotten their asses kicked by her).

It seemed that years of fighting each other had tought the four of them a surprising amount of teamwork, and they seemed to have Crocell quite neatly tied up by now, as Weaver and Shimmer were extending their bindings even into its body, where Taz had managed just enough damage to let them hook right into its flesh.  The Subjugator, meanwhile, was waiting to deliver what would hopefully be the finishing shot, if only to incapacitate it and allow for more thorough bindings.

So, of course Crocell had to pull out a new trick it hadn’t used before. Its hide began to melt as it literally slid out of its own, gaping maw, leaving its now semi-liquid outer layer behind within the bindings, its exit from its own skin so forceful it was catapulted high in the air, catching everyone by surprise.

Everyone except the Subjugator and Weaver, apparently. Both reacted near instantly. In fact, Weaver reacted faster than the machine with its combat protocols that had been honed over a decade of optimization.

Standing horizontally on a building’s wall, she made a throwing motion with both hands, as thin lines extended from them towards Crocell, attaching to its lower legs.

Basil saw her twist her whole body in a violent pulling motion, singlehandedly arresting Crocell’s flight over the Subjugator.

Instead of getting away from the capes and cowls that had been binding it, and moving behind its most powerful adversary, Crocell was now completely exposed above the hovering warmachine, almost seeming to float for a moment before gravity kicked in.

The Subjugator moved smoothly, as if having expected Weaver’s action, orienting its whole frame upwards. The arc cannon roared in thunder, briefly whiting out Basil’s field of view.

When he could see again, he saw Crocell’s headless body tumble down towards the ground, its disproportionate limbs flapping around its body without grace nor strength.

Did that do it? he asked himself, lowering his rifle again. He could feel Amy’s tension next to him, as she probably asked herself the very same thing.

The Subjugator began to move out of the way of the tumbling body, as its choral voice blared through the comm system again. “FALL, GRACELESS BEAST! FALL BEFORE THE INFINITE MIGHT OF YOUR GLORIOUS SOVEREIGN!!!”

I really need to figure out how to proof my own network against this, Basil thought, even if he wasn’t sure he could. For all the breadth of his talents, software security was not one of his strengths.

His thoughts on the subject were, however, interrupted by Amy’s sudden gasp. Jerked out of the brief mental detour, Basil realised that Crocell had not been simply falling down – the seemingly random flapping and twisting of its limbs had re-angled its fall, causing it to land atop the Subjugator – only to slam onto its upward force-field.

The flickering, blueish-white field became visible upon Crocell coming into contact with it. The field bucked against his weight, but held without showing any further strain as the Subjugator continued to fly backwards, while Crocell started to slide off the frictionless pane, its body continuing to flail and trash around, bleeding profusely from the stump of its neck, its blood still pale and watery, yet still distinct from actual water.

Its body slid off the nose of the Subjugator, falling down – but it stopped as one of its impossibly long arms lashed out, striking the top of the Subjugator’s nose, just over its upper ‘eye’. Crocell’s fingers penetrated the force-field and somehow found purchase in it, the field bucking, flickering, but holding, and holding the monster up as well as it dangled from the Subjugator by one hand.

“What the hell!?” Basil couldn’t hold the shout back. “How does that even work!?” He was hardly an expert on force-fields, but even he knew that that should not work – Crocell’s fingers should either have caused the field to collapse or else been cut off by it as its weight pulled them against its sharp edge.

“UNHAND ME, WRETCHED BEAST!” The machine roared in indignation, extending a duo of coils from each side, just in front of its wings. Both sets of man-sized coils lit up, lightning dancing first between them, and then all over the Subjugator and its force-field.

Crocell made a wheezing sound, causing more blood to bubble out of its neck, its body seizing up and trashing about – but it kept its grip, refusing to let go.

“Basil, are you seeing that?” Amy asked, pointing at the struggle. “Look at Crocell’s head!”

He tore his eyes away from the weird sight of Crocell holding onto what was, according to rumors, some kind of electromagnetic field interacting weirdly with kinetic energy, and looked at where Crocell’s head should be. Then he blinked, and looked again.

It had begun to regenerate from the stump upwards, forming cartilaginous bone, pale muscle and flesh, more like a fish than anything else.

So far, so normal. Or as normal as superpowers ever really got.

The electrocution it was undergoing, though, revealed a very odd effect. The dancing lightning was incinerating and, in some cases, literally obliterating parts of the growth, slowing the process down.

However, only the pieces that were directly hit by the lightning fell off. Clumps of flesh blackened and disintegrated into ash, leaving others to float free within the space where its head should be. He could see bits of brain matter, parts of the cheekbone, half a tongue, untouched by the lightning as more flesh and bone grew from the stump, reaching towards the free-floating pieces. Even when Crocell turned its head, they kept their orientation, turning as if the head was whole already, just partly invisible.

Basil stared, trying to process that. It meant something, something important, he was sure of it! Its parts were being held in place by something, but what could that be?

Strands of flesh reached the top of the head, bone growing out of them to form a quart of the eye-socket, which was rapidly filled in by Crocell’s huge, singular eye, the nearly free-floating orb immediately starting to look around, at the same time at which it started to pound on the Subjugator from below, its free fist slamming into its lower force-field over and over again.

The Subjugator kept shouting its phrases as it unloaded its short-range weaponry on Crocell, trying to dislodge the beast, aiming mostly at its arm in an attempt to cut it off – but with their positions right then, it could not use its arc cannon against the constantly regenerating monster, denying it the one weapon which had proven to actually cause meaningful damage to Crocell.

Its repeated attacks at such close range were showing an effect, too; the Subjugator’s shields were visibly straining, turning nearly opaque as they rippled with…

…kinetic energy being transformed into electric energy, recharging its reserves while discharging the excess through the field’s matrix as photons.

Basil blinked. That thought had come up out of nowhere, right from the back of his mind, from his power. I’ve never heard it so clearly.

The pounding continued – and then stopped, moments before a glint of light could be seen on Crocell’s eye. His half-formed head, still being ravaged by electricity from the Subjugator’s twin coils, turned to look away from the Subjugator, as something bounced off its eye again, creating another tiny spark.

Basil followed its gaze, though he already knew what he’d see – there was only person who could draw its attention like that.

Tyche was back, together with Waverider this time, standing atop his namesake wave in an almost casual stance, as he knelt in front of her, allowing her to point her weapon forward, aiming at Crocell. Hollywood’s light followed them closer, casting its spell on the battlefield.

She opened fire, barely bothering to aim – between her power and Hollywood’s, there was little point to it, especially since her actual ability to aim was atrocious – and her every shot hit true.

Huh.

Basil lifted his rifle, zooming in with the scope once more. Tyche fired another shot, continuing to hit the exact same spot in spite of Waverider being constantly in motion, his power unable to simply hover in place.

Again he watched her hit the same spot, blowing a tiny chunk of matter off its eye, the damage growing back faster than she could squeeze the trigger.

And every time, there was a tiny ripple there, a glint of light that Basil would never have noticed, were it not for Hollywood’s power making everything stand out so much more starkly.

“Amy,” he spoke up, lowering his rifle.

“Yeah?” she said from his side.

“I need you to throw me at Crocell,” he said simply.

There was a moment of silence. “Excuse me, I must temporarily have been dipping into some weird parallel reality, because that sounded like you, dearest soft and squishy little brother of mine, want me to throw you at the giant, city-wrecking monster that’s currently tangoing with a killing machine made by a madman even I think is crazy,” she replied in a deadpan voice.

“If you could, aim so I will hit the wrist of the hand stuck to the force-field,” he elaborated, as he looked to the side at the look of disbelief even her mask could not hide. “I need to… gather data.” He was sure he was on the verge of pushing his power over the edge. He just needed a little more information.

Amy lifted her hand, pinching the bridge of her nose as she closed her eyes. “I hate you just for making that request. Do you really think I would do that? Why would I ever do that?”

Behind his mask, Basil’s face twisted into a frown. He knew Amy hated it when he put himself into any kind of danger whatsoever – her idea of his villain career in her organisation had been to lock him into a workshop with endless supplies and never let him see actual combat – and he knew her well enough to tell that it took all her self control not to grab him and just fly away from this place; but he had to get there, and quickly, before Crocell broke free from the Subjugator.

He’d only have one shot at convincing her.

“You will do it, Amy, because you are a villain… and I am a hero. I have kept quiet and not done anything to hinder you from doing what you do and I ask that you extend me the same courtesy in turn.”

“Letting you be a superhero does not require any positive action on my part, like, oh say, throwing my squishy little brother at a fucking kaiju!” she almost shrieked in response, leaning forward until her face was level with his.

His hands clenched on the grip and barrel of his rifle, trying not to show the tremors he could feel – though whether it was anger at her refusal, fear at the insane stunt he was intending to perform or expectation at what might come of it, he could not say – as he took a deep breath.

“Amy… please.”

She reared back as if he’d slapped her. “Basil…”

He kept his voice as soft as he could. “Amy, this thing… it has to be stopped. People have died already trying to stop it. I have to help in any way I can, and I really, truly think that I can figure out something useful if I just get onto it before it gets away from the Subjugator. Please, let me do my job. Do not treat me as your little brother, treat me as a… a fellow warrior on this battlefield.”

She looked away from him, biting her lower lip. He could not truly lay claim to know how she really felt – their situations were too different, in too many ways – but he knew that he’d hate the thought of her going up against something she could not effectively defend herself against.

So he stayed quiet and let her think it over, hoping that she’d come to a quick conclusion, while the battle raged behind him; he could hear Crocell’s beam, see it through the cracked interface of his mask that was still connected to his ravens, but his focus was on Amy.

After almost half a minute, she released her breath, seeming to sag a bit, before she drew herself up again.

“Alright. I’m not going to throw you at this thing,” His hands clenched even tighter on the weapon, as he tried to think of another argument to make. “But I’m going to take you there,” she continued before he could open his mouth, her mouth twisting into a thin, weak smile. “That way, I can at least do my best to keep my idiot baby bro alive.”

He released a breath he hadn’t even noticed he’d been holding, easing the grip on his weapon. “Oh. Right. I should have thought of that option.” Not that he really wanted her to get too cl- no, that would just be hypocritical.

A chuckle escaped her lips as she stalked forward on those ridiculous heels, confidence returning to her posture. “Typical. My little genius idiot.”

Without preamble, she lifted him telekinetically, her power wrapping gently around him; so gently, he could barely tell that any force was being exerted on him, as if he was just suddenly floating on his own.

“Let’s go ‘gather data’, baby bro.”

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81 thoughts on “B12.11 Born At Sleep

  1. I’m not even sure what to say here. This was SUPPOSED to end a good deal later, at a turning point in the fight, but real life kept interfering, dragging it on and on and on… and I just wanted to post something again, so here it is, even if it’s only about two thirds of what I had planned for this particular chapter.

    • Oh yeah, I was waiting the whole time for someone to notice that. I haven’t forgotten that the heroes have been ordered to not allow Mindstar to get anywhere near him, let alone touch him.

      This will certainly have fallout. Delicious, delicious fallout.

  2. Great chapter!! It seems kind of weird for Basil and Amy to use their real names and relationship in the middle of a fight where anyone could be listening in. Especially when Amy can allow them to communicate telepathically. Good to see that Basil’s power is waking up a bit again.

    • They’re both using their tech/power to make sure they have privacy.

      Amy is way too angry at and worried for him to have a civil conversation via telepathy right now.

      • Might be worth mentioning that in the chapter at some point. It bugged me the whole time.

        ….Was awesome interaction though.

    • Given the mention, several times, of a gap in his power that has been messing with him it seems like The Dark blocking one idea because it was too soon for Basil to be working on it has had… unintended consequences.

      I wonder how Amy would react if she learned that her beloved boss has been responsible for all the stress her baby bro has been going through lately. Basil hasn’t mentionned the “gap” to her yet, so she probably won’t make the connection by herself. My guess is that Basil will manage to override the block and then tell her about it.

  3. Some days ago I started reading the novel and I have to say it is amazing. It´s really difficult to find good metas novels, but you have made one.
    Now the buts, first, in my opinion, there are too many side stories. I mean, 2 whole volumes plus the a,b, etc. I like how you made a whole world, but someitmes I just want to keep reading the main story. Maybe do it not as volumes between the main story? Anyways, it is just that it is really good and I want to keep reading it xD.
    And 2. Prisca. Hated the girl, since in some point Basil just had a girlfriend for months, and now after she got powers she became really annoying. Really hope she won´t be the girlfriend anyomre, or at bottom line, not the only one.

    I really hope you wont transform the relationship between Melody and Irene into a couple, but keep it as friendship, becasue it is really good that way. (and well, to me, Meoldy would be the best girl for brennus).

    Now, I have a question. Did I missed a chapter or something and Amy and Basil are good again, didnt happen or is it implicit that it happened?

    Anyway… I´ll keep track for new chapters and thanks for gifting us this story.

    • hmm, in order

      1. I know I have too many side stories. I will definitely re-order things for the finalized version (perhaps bring the side stories out as a separate novel/collection)

      2. About Prisca. Too many spoilers to talk about my plans for her. Suffice it to say, not all (or much of anything) is as it seems. You’ll get answers to that in the “Call of the Sleeper” arc

      3. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this somewhere on this site before, but Melody and Irene are both straight. Irene gets her sexuality messed up due to her power, so if there EVER was a romantic or sexual relationship between them, IT WOULD NOT BE A GOOD THING BECAUSE MINDFUCKERY AHOI!

      4. They’re not “good” again, as far as they are able to be on the outs with each other, really (they are the only family each other has, after all), but the current situation is a convenient excuse for them to put their strife aside for a while. They really do not WANT to be fighting, even if their respective lifestyles cause them to

      • Irene is straight? I don’t think that was said before, we did know that her power messed her up but I thought she was bisexual and that her power was just making her promiscuous and attracting everyone she liked. That it goes as far as going against her own preference is pretty fucking disturbing.

      • her power doesn’t get nuances. she likes Melody a lot – as a friend. But her power just sees “like” and takes it to the extreme. same for annoyance (interpreted as hate/must kill) or any other emotion.

      • I’ve actually been planning to edit Aap’s stories over christmas and maybe self-publish them as a short novella of sorts.

        Would that interest people? What do you all think?

      • I don’t know about publishing it as a standalone story. I know people complain about interludes and side stories but I personally feel that they fit together and I think The Monkey story wouldn’t feel the same for people who aren’t already familliar with the Brennuverse. If you do edit it before publishing you might want to consider adding some background info or something… well I haven’t reread in a while so I might be exageratting but that’s what I think.

      • I agree. I would buy it, but it needs sufficient exposition and background. I don’t remember Aap being the exposition type. I mean it took him the majority of the story to mention that he’s one of the few able call the Dark “Daddy” without getting their genitalia Lovecrafted.

  4. BRENNUS INQUIRIES
    Blazing Star – Something to do with the maker a blazing well? blazing sun unborn eclipsing stars??? Is it to do with Macian’s power, blazing eyes?????????
    Macian/Man in the Moon – His past self??
    Rising Heart – ??????? WHAT IS HE??????
    Specialty – Electromagnetism???
    Five Points of Light – Who are they?? What does it mean? What does it have to do with manifestations??????? Are they super powerful?????? Why are there more than 5 or at least different ones???? Are they talking about people or powers????? How is Vasiliki connected and why does she have to find three suns and something called the black sun??? The black sun the same thing seen in Hemming’s vision??????
    Who changed Basil’s memories??? Who built the base and gave money to Basil????????
    Why is Amanda older than Basil?????? Why is Amanda healed from all these scars?
    What happened to Macian and Henry after they fought against the savage six????
    What is the Savage Six’s plan anyways?????
    What and who is Journeyman???? What gadget idea did he give Macian????? What can Journeyman truly do???
    Next Gadget??? Will he create something involved with magnetism, kinda like Magneto????? Something to do with electricity?? Something to do with chemistry and bonding???? Radiation or Particle Manipulation??? How does Macian’s technology like the force field and the kinetic repulser??? Will Basil eventually create those????
    Macian and Henry happened 6 years ago, when Amy was 6 and Macian was 8, Amy should be 12??????????
    Who is Macian’s parents???? One of the Six??????
    Are all his memories prior to the beginning stop fake????? Are his friends and his girlfriend’s memories fake as well????
    What is so off about Gloom Glimmer????
    What is the Sleeper???? Is it connected to the points of light, the sleeping sun??????? Maybe the dreamer??????
    Why is DiL like she is?????
    What is the door Ember was talking about????? Does it have something to do with manifestations and Point Zero???
    My brain hurts.

    • In reverse order:

      1. Not telling.
      2. Not telling.
      3. Yes
      4. It’s been noted repeatedly that her behaviour (the way she moves, talks, looks at people, etc) is OFF, which isn’t so strange if you consider what she told melody – she grew up with her power handing her everything on a silver platter, doesn’t really know how to act “normal” (no need for sleep, food, toilet; gravity is rarely a consideration, no real exhaustion, etc)
      5. Not telling, but that’ll get some resolution in the next arc and be fully resolved in All Masks Fall/All The Lost Ones
      6. Not telling. Also, it should be “Who ARE Macian’s parents” not “Who IS”
      7. Yes
      8. Yes
      9. I can tell you this. His “theme”, as it t’were, is “The Infinite”. Make of that what you will.
      10. He inspired an instant-barbecue machine.
      11. He’s Journeyman.
      12. One person is fucking with his memories, two built the base, another gave him the money
      13. Not telling.
      14. Who would know? 😛
      15. The Sin of Love
      16. No.
      17. No.

    • I think Journeyman is Jake the Janitor, who worked at the Dark and Lady Light’s mansion before they did the thing that started the powers. I was sure that Journeyman was tagged in a passage where Jake the janitor appear… still, When Prisca manifest she had a vision of the time around the incident, and she sees Jake transforming, going through different ages before vanishing. Journeyman has the higgest movement rating and I’m pretty sure it was said that he can move through time.

      Also to note… Peacock lady, another mysterious figure, is also linked to the incident in question. I remember deducting her identity, but I’m not sure what it was anymore… I think she’s the daughter of one of the nurses who helped give birth to Lady Light and The Dark. (Yes I don’t remember their civilian name, yes I am to lazy to look them up)

      … It’s been a while since I’ve read, I probably should go back and read the archives to refresh my memories.

      • Am I the only that noticed that, etymologically speaking, Janitor comes from the word Janus which means door in Latin? Also the more distant parental word ianitor means doorkeeper in latin. Jake the Janitor is also Jake the Doorkeeper, a sort of portal-esque thing. Low-key worm reference too.

      • *slowclap*
        I wanted to add a more detailed comment to convey how impressed I was by that but I couldn’t find the right words. Wow.

      • Two things: (1) Seriously?!?!? [Insert string of emojis here]!!
        (2) Tieshaunn, you seem to really love those small details in naming. Half of your characters’ names in both the Dreaming and in the the Blazing Stars fit along color themes, or they’re jokes, aren’t they. For example, Aisling literally means “dream” or “vision” if I recall. I have a few questions surrounding your choice of names used by our favorite B6 and the God-King of Mars.
        To clarify, for on-lookers and perhaps for you, Basil roughly means King, Balthazar happens to mean “Baal protects the King”, Blake is just a derivative of “black” if I recall. Baal is the pagan god mentioned in the bible, I think with Jezebel, but despite attending a Catholic diocesan high school, I haven’t opened the book in years. Let’s go back to the God-King of Mars, Emyr Blackhill. The name Emyr is Welsh for ruler (or King), which seems to correspond with the meaning of Basil. His surname Blackhill seems to correspond with Blake, as they both incorporate the element of Blake. Emyr’s title the God-King also seems to correspond with Balthazar (Baal [the god] protects the king). Did you intend to link them so closely? I’m about to go google the meaning of about every other name you use, but off the cuff, I know that Prisca means ancient. I think her middle name was Gwen, right? Which means like “light” or something, a thematic following of the dark-light. Although, she could have been named after Gwen Whitaker. Whitaker means white, (my own name is DeWitt, and my nickname is often mistaken for Whitaker, so a quick google a while back revealed the meaning). I would bet money that the dark’s name also means darkness, black, or something in between.

      • I think I like you. Also, yes, seriously.

        As for your questions – about 90% of my character’s names are either jokes, a play on colour themes, obscure references to myth or other works of fiction, or else hint at future plot stuff.

        Gwen’s and Peter’s names are linked, yes, though if you want to know what they mean, you’ll have to work it out yourself 😉

      • Balthazar is also a reference to Bastian Balthazar Bux, the main character of the Neverending Story – the first book I ever read on my own

      • I loved the Neverending Story. Should we expect anyone in reference to Carl Conrad Coreander, I don’t think Daria could handle anymore alliteration.

      • We’ll find them. Also, if there is any connection with Peter and Gwen, it’s not as apparent. Gwen is clearly thematic with light and heaven, more or less. Brilliance, so to speak. Diana means heavenly, but it’s also associated with the Roman Goddess, the Lunar Virgin. Wait, Diana was a twin, and a fraternal twin at that. Her brother, Apollo, was the Sun-God, a total player (even for the Olympians)! If you cast out the biological relation and their opposition in sexuality (a virgin and a player), they’re in parallel with Gwen and Peter! I’m still working on his name though, it doesn’t exactly have a meaning like “dark headed” or “night bitch”, errmm…

      • no, it’s not the Snow Queen. Though that one’s got a punny name, too.

        Who knows? If you choose the right subject for the interlude you won, you might find out very soon

      • I’d have to think this over strategically. Also, do you consider Pucelle to not have been named, despite introduced? Shit, it’s Pucelle isn’t it? Your alliteration fetish has only been applied to gadgeteers as so far. She also hasn’t been named, but clearly is worth a damn. Also don’t think we didn’t notice your usage of him/her, that diversion was pretty pointing to “her”.

      • What rating do you get on the Werdenfeld-Manning System for that mind fuckery?

      • Wow, that reference predated me. M for Machiavelli, maybe? Also, I’m pretty sure that Pucelle is our infamous alliteration character, still I’m not sure that her alliteration is worth the story arc. I’m not sure what I’d want the story arch to be. It seems that we have a donation one on the Matriarch, the chicago villainess and our second favorite illegitimate child. Idea-wise, I don’t know your setting as well as you do. I think Atrocity is pretty cool, but I also think that we don’t know nearly enough about the United Heroes out of the United States or life in GAIN and anything you could write that fits in any of the three would be great subjects.

      • so, your three picks would be:
        Atrocity
        United Heroes International
        GAIN

        I gotta nix Atrocity. There’s NO WAY IN HELL I can write that viewpoint without utterly spoiling… lots.

        Is there something else you’d like to put on that list?

      • Maybe add Australia, in terms of topics? I’m trying to keep it general, just because the specificity of a lay person could take a toll on your writing. I don’t want to superimpose my self on the writing process.

      • the point of this is for you to pick something^^

        Tell you what. Tell me any three picks you’d like. Be they an area, a character, a group, whatever. I’ll come up with something for one of them. If I think something doesn’t work for me at all, I’ll tell you

      • In that case. My picks in any order:
        Dearheart
        United Heroes or United Junior Heroes in [insert foreign country here]
        Queen Madeline

      • Just because: we don’t know sheeeeet about metahuman society in foreign settings or how things work there, Dearheart interests me, and Madeline scares the shit out of me.

  5. I have been waiting for so long to find out what invention The Dark hid from Basil. For the love of God, do NOT let this be a fake out.

  6. I believe that someone asked how Amy is older than Basil (I’m to lazy to check), and it just occurred to me that if Ember can de-age people than he can probably age them in any direction he wants.

      • I’m going to suggest Journeyman. It’s only a theory but if I’m right and he’s Jack the Janitor then we know that he can move through time and age shift, it’s possible he might be able to take someone else through this. Also having the greatest movement power as fr as we know he’s a prime suspect for taking Macian and his sister out of Heretic’s personnal dimension.

      • Wrong culprit? Then I’m going to blame Amy for being older than Basil. Amy’s past self wanted to protect her brother, so she shapeshifted herself into the elder sister to suit the role.

        Similarly, Ember didn’t heal Amy’s scars because she shifted them away.

  7. I’m currently rereading from chapter 1 to refresh my memory and i noticed a few chapters back they determined that all his problems started after the hastur incident but his memory issues and the voices in his head started when he was hit by osore’s fear wave. the rest of his problems did start after hastur. so i was just wondering about that?

  8. Any thought about creating a Patreon? I know it has been brought up before and if I recall correctly you said that you didn’t want to do it until you have a more steady schedule, but even working a few less hours could do wonders for you productivity, and I for one would be happy to support you based only on what you’ve already done.

  9. I’m getting a commission done, but I need further clarification on Brennus and Hecate? If I recall, Brennus just had black power armor with a black cloak and a cloak/mask that was shaped like a raven, but I think it also had scales. Does anyone have any quotes or remember anything in addition? Tie, a WOG moment would be helpful.

    • Brennus costume consists of tight, black armor and a white cloak with a slightly beak-shaped hood. It bears his emblem on the back, two black, stylized ravens forming a circle, biting each other’s tails.

      His mask/helmet is blank black, kind of disappearing beneath his hood. Kind of going for a “face hidden in shadows” look.

      His armor is not power armor anymore, if you want a current look. Its body armor now, black plates on a thick, tight material (if you’ve seen Ergo Proxy, it looks kind of like the proxy’s skin)

      The scales are for Tyche. Her bodysuit is made of lots of tiny scales of the same material that Brennus’ armor plates are made of

      what do you need to know for Hecate?

      • I’m not sure. I currently have these quotes, but if you could fill in any missing details, it would be great: She, wearing a skin-tight spandex suit bearing a skull-in-a-moon emblem with a gemstone at its center, right between her breasts; a pair of flat boots, gloves and a belt with a gemstone on its buckle. Over that, she wore a cape with a cowl. He could barely make out her jaw and lips under it. In her right hand, she carried a twisted wooden staff topped by what looked like a crystal prism. On her belt she had a curved dagger and a full pouch. Her cape and cowl turned out to be a deep green colour. The bodysuit was pure black, while the gloves, boots and belt matched the colour of the cape. The staff seemed to be made of actual wood and the prism was coloured red like blood, much like the gemstone on her belt and emblem.

      • Her emblem is stitched into the skintight suit, around an actual, smal gem worked into the fabric.

        Her costume is supposed to be “superhero-like” while actually not showing off that much. While it is skintight, the cloak hides a lot, along with the dark colour of the suit itself. Her boots are flat, no heels.

        Everything is hand-made, of very fine quality. Embroidery everywhere. The belt is rather wide and broad, lying loosely on her hips.

        She’s got a killer figure, but tries not to emphasize it too much, even though she’s kinda vain.

        The staff is gnarled, carved by hand to look even more so, tipped by a crystal prysm that changes colour all the time, slowly turning from one to the other. Her dagger is curved, a little long but not meant for combat. Her pouch is just as elaborate as the rest of her costume, hand-crafted.

  10. Nooooo! There are no more new chapters!😱
    And the main plot just got sooo interesting!

    Anyways, I think I might have spotted a few inconsitencies.

    First: Ember. In the first few volumes he was always called Protegue or something like that, then Basil notices that he uses the term Ember when he thinks about him (and was surprised about it) and a few chaps later suddenly everyone uses the new term, even the Junior Heroes who should have not that much more informations about him than the general public (which includes Basil)

    Second, when exactly did he start communicating with the man in the moon? I might have accidentaly skipped that chapter, but as far as I have noticed he used to talk with blazing sun (hope thats the right name, I kinda suck when it comes to remembering names), was worrying that he might be going insane and the next chapter he talked to the man in the moon like it was nothing special. But that might just be part of whatever messed with his mind.

    There were a few more things that seemed slightly amiss, but now that I have caught up to the latest chapter I will reread the earlier ones while I wait for the next chap. Might just have been some really subtle forshadowing.

    And I have seen it mentioned a few times, but is there patreon to support you (yet?)? You could give your patreons early access to new chaps or something like that. 😉
    Just asking because the release speed has picked up a bit again, but take your time if you need it, I appreciate the quality of what you are doing here.

    • Hm, the bit with Ember is actually an inconsistency, yeah. Though, it’s mostly the Europeans (specifically, Great Britain and west europe in general) who use ‘the Protege’, especially in public (they feel kinda shitty for what they did to him)

      All the stuff with Basil’s head treads way too close to spoiler territory. Won’t comment further on it than I have, until it’s resolved in-story.

      I’ll open a patreon soon. Just ironing out some details

      • I don’t think it’s really explained anywhere but My guess would be that once his power to return the dead to life was known there was probably a lot of pressure on him. We already know that there is a group of peoples he ressurected who basically worship him, the Returned or somesuch, I think it’s mentionned that his apparition had a rather forceful impact on christianity too. So my guess would be that they basically flocked him until he couldn’t take it anymore and created his big aura.

  11. I love your work, this is my favorite story ever, but could update more than once a month. ClearMdadness has chapter a lot longer than o fours, and he updates weekly. Drew Hayes has the same length as yours, but updates bi weekly. I love you though. The story itself is amazing, but the put out chapters turns me off. A little, but not enough to stop me from reading!

    • You can’t really draw a straight comparison like that. It’s not like everyone writes the same, or everyone has the same circumstances.

      I do not live off my writing (like, say, wildbow) so I can’t devote all my time to it – I have my studies at the university as well as part-time jobs (the plural is intentional), nevermind, you know, a social life I’d rather not sacrifice.

      If you look back, you’ll find that I was updating weekly, for a while even bi-weekly; that’s because I used to have better circumstances to write in. They’ve gotten worse since. Less time, less LEISURE. Less energy to devote to writing, which I assure you, and which I KNOW all those other authors you mentioned would agree with, is a very demanding task.

      So in short, I appreciate your enthusiasm, I wish I could reliably update a LOT more often, but unless circumstances change, I won’t be able to GUARANTEE it for quite a while.

    • What I’m trying to say is, bringing up the schedule of other writers means jack-all nothing, since they are different persons in different circumstances.

      Sorry if I’m coming across cranky or mean, I don’t intend to be but I just got off a nine-hour shift at work.

      • Nah, I don’t think that you are mean or cranky in any way. Everyone who has worked on a free project like this before should now that you can’t devote all your time to it. (Open source dev here)

        You either have to find a way to make some money off it or just dial it back a bit if rl jobs demand more time/energy/concentration.

        Look Griffin, I know exactly what you are feeling. Hell, I am refreshing this site two times a day in jope of a new chap. If you really want to have more chapters vote for it on topwebserials, donate and hope that others do it too so that he can maybe drop one of his part time jobs. As he has already mentioned above, he is working on a patreon site. Combined with a few chaps to start things off and good ratings to attract new readers this could be exactly what we need.

        But if you really can’t wait, he already has a donation option. Giving him a few bucks definitly helps more than comparing him to other authors in the comments.

      • I am sorry if I sounded mean as well. Your work is magnificent, I was just sad I had to wait so long for it :(. I will always love your work and continue to read it. You haven’t lost another reader today, and I res pect your reason for not having time, and am sorry that these weren’t the most uplifting of comments. Oh, and you are right Ansraer.

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