B13.5 Call of the Sleeper

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A few minutes earlier

“Well, that didn’t go as expected at all,” Dalia mumbled, as she looked out upon this freaky floating city, half admiring and half scoffing at all the weirdness on the half of it that, according to the freaky girl, was made for and by the Super-Crazies. “I’m not surprised.” Somehow, something had gone wrong when freaky girl had tried to teleport them in, and she’d somehow managed to end up alone atop this huge, weird tower – the one at the centre of it, which they hadn’t been able to tell the purpose of, earlier. To her surprise, while the tip – a wide disc, bigger than her old house had been – was transparent from the inside, even though it had looked opaque from the outside. Even the floor was transparent, where she stood, letting her see pretty much everything around and beneath the tower.

“Why is that?” a smooth, melodious voice asked from behind her.

Dalia yelped, whirling around and drawing the collapsible staff Basil had built for her from her belt, extending it as she faced…

The fucking prettiest guy she’d ever seen, ever.

He sat on on a raised, flat platform in the centre of the circular room, which was made of a gleaming white material, like the stuff space ships were made of in one of those dorky sci-fi shows Tim liked to watch with Steph. It was the only part that wasn’t transparent, it and the floor immediately around it. The platform itself was flat and looked hard, with no cushions at all, yet he sat there, his legs folded in… what was the word… lotus position!… and his arms resting comfortably on them, forearms on knees.

None of it all was even remotely as interesting as looking at him. He was slender, looking like he could not possible be older than twenty-five, if that. His skin had the light tan of someone who spent time in the sun, but not excessively so, and was all smooth.

All smooth. He was wearing nothing but a pair of simple, dark blue drawstring pants, putting his smooth, hairless chest on display; not wiry, but not muscular either, at least not as much as she was used to from other metas – and she did not believe for one second that this guy wasn’t a meta, not here, in this place, and not someone who looked prettier than herself. His face was youthful, soft, with full lips and friendly, grey eyes that were so warm and cozy, just looking at them made her want to hug him and take him home. His hair was brown, smooth and just long enough that, combed back as he wore it, it reached his throat, almost but not quite touching his shoulders.

Holy shit he’s yummy, she couldn’t help but think, even as she reminded herself that this was a really bad place where really bad people worked at, no matter how yummy they were. And those eyes… They were almost hypnotic, so deep and inviting…

She shook her head, then focused again on him with a glare. “Who are you?” she asked, though it didn’t come out the way she’d wanted it to – her voice cracked midway through the sentence, and it wasn’t just because of how pretty this guy looked – she wasn’t an idiot, anyone who hung around this place, alone at that, and without any obvious weapons or job to do was either a major power or else someone’s boytoy – and she doubted a boytoy would get the tallest tower’s top to himself, or sit on a hard surface without any comfort around him.

He chuckled softly, slightly tilting his head to the side as he studied her, radiating nothing but friendly curiosity, an invitation to relax with him and maybe see if he was that hairless below the w-

Focus, Dalia! Down, girl!

 “Relax, Tyche,” he spoke again, his voice even more beautiful than his appearance and god damn was it hard to remind herself not to drool. He even had just the slightest accent – German, maybe? Something European, at least. Only made it sound exotic and even better. “I mean you no harm. There is really no need for you to draw any of your weapons.”

She did relax, in spite of her best efforts not to – he sounded completely sincere, her usually so reliable bullshit detector having gone completely silent. “Yeah well, I don’t react well to suddenly being teleported into a weird room with a weird guy, all alon- hey, how do you know my name?” Had he picked it out of her head? Was he a telepath? Shit, what if he picked all the secret stuff she knew by now out f her h-

“I do watch the news,” he interrupted her train of thought, “You and your team have been making quite the name of yourselves lately.”

She let out a breath she hadn’t even noticed she’d been holding, the sudden relief palpable enough to make her knees briefly weak. “Oh, uh… that’s, yeah, that makes sense,” she stammered. It wasn’t proof that he wasn’t a mind-fucker, but at least it was a sensible explanation and why would he need to lie about it if he was? Still, it’d pay to be careful, especially since… “How do you know I have more weapons than this?” She held her staff, her only visible weapon, up.

“You’re on a team with a very prolific gadgeteer,” he replied smoothly, raising a hand and ticking off a finger. “Your power becomes exponentially more useful the more options you have to act.” Another finger, ticked off. “Your jacket is unevenly heavy, most likely because you haven’t distributed your equipment properly.” A third finger joined the others.

He knows? How could he possibly know of my power!? “How… how do you know?”

Again that head-tilt, to the other side now. His smile was incredibly calming, but not enough to overcome just how scared she felt. Far more so than she was used to, than she had been even when fighting Crocell.

“I didn’t get to where I am today by collecting bottle caps, Tyche,” he said with a gleaming, boyish grin. “Don’t worry – I’ll say it again, I mean you no harm.” He took a deep breath, then released it, sitting up straighter – he’d been leaning a little towards her before, as they’d talked.

She stayed quiet, after that, mulling the whole thing over. “If you don’t mean me harm, then what do you want… whoever you are?” she spoke, glaring at him, as much as she was able. God-damn yumminess.

He actually seemed taken back by that, before he ducked his head in embarrassment. “Oh, um, sorry, sorry! I don’t usually get unexpected visitors here; I guess my manners have atrophied more than I thought they would,” he said, giving her a heartmelting, boyish smile of apology.

He was making it very, very hard for her not to giggle like a schoolgirl. “Y-you are forgiven – if you tell me your name!” she replied with a tremor in her treacherous voice.

“Immanuel,” came his reply, as he rubbed the back of his head with one hand. “I’m afraid I don’t really do capes and cowls, so my real name will have to suffice. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Tyche.”

“L-likewise,” she replied on instinct, not sure at all how to react to having him share his real name – or at least what he claimed to be his real name, she wasn’t quite foolish enough to take him on his word. Speaking of… “Well, this was fun and all, but I really gotta go.” I’ve gotta find the others – they’re probably in huge trouble.

“Go where?” he asked, sounding amused as he leaned his cheek on his left hand.

“To my friends, of course!” she answered him hotly. “Where else?”

“Of course, but do you even know where your friends are?”

“Well…” She lowered her staff, stunned. “Um… that kind of… slipped my mind. I don’t suppose you’d mind telling me, would you?” she continued, though it was mostly to buy her time to think. With my power, I could probably find at least Gloom Glimmer or Basil – freaky girl has the power to find the others, and Basil is the sort to always know what to do next…

“Hmm,” he tapped his chin, before sitting up straight and turning to the right, lifting a hand to point at a particularly weird tower on the Southern half of the city. It looked like nothing so much as a huge candle, with a flame at the top, made out of wax twisted into spirals. “They’re all there, on levels three, five, eight and fifteen,” he explained. “All in individual cells. Except for Polymnia and Brennus, they were teleported to another facility.” He turned to the North, pointing at a squat, circular building, like a huge coin, but completely smooth and featureless. “Both of them were sent into a capture room for Gadgeteers, but they broke out… ah, anti-EMP technology? Impressive.”

He frowned, scratching his chin. “No, wait. Gloom Glimmer broke out… where… ah, she’ll be with Polymnia and Brennus, soon. I think. That girl’s a pain to keep track of.” He shrugged, then smiled at her again. “You can just take the elevator down to level zero, then take the B-line North to station fifteen. From there, just follow the left-hand path and you’ll find the three of them. Or take the D-line South, then take the D1-line East and get off at station twenty-eight, and you’ll be at the Candlekeep, if you want to try and break your friends out of there on your own.”

She stared at him, uncaring that her mouth was hanging open. “Wu-what?”

He just kept smiling, which did not help her regain her wits, and remained quiet, waiting.

“Why… why would you tell me that?” she asked, feeling off-kilter again.

“Just trying to be nice,” he said off-handedly. “I have no particular reason to oppose you and your friends.”

“We’re attacking your big evil secret badguy base!” she shouted, gesturing wildly with both arms at him – she barely managed not to whack herself on the head with her staff. “We’re after one of your evil mad scientists!”

“Evil mad scientists? Isn’t that kind of redundant?” Again, that smile.

“I’m friends with two good mad scientists! Even if one of them thinks she’s Harry Potter with boobs!”

He nodded gravely, as if conceding the point. “Point taken.”

“Anyway, why are you helping? If you even are helping and not just bullshitting me!?” she shouted at him, trying to get things on track again.

He just shrugged. “As I said, I have no particular reason to oppose you children. You may not see it now, but we’re ultimately all on the same side in this.”

“Yeah, uh, bullshit. You guys are like, super evil. I mean, making giant monsters to attack all over the world was bad enough – if kinda awesome – but Hawaii? Seriously?” she countered, aghast. “You guys are, like, Weisswald levels of Evil with a capital E!”

That finally got a reaction out of him, as he winced, closing his eyes. “Ow. We’re not that bad, seriously.” He shook himself. “Adolf might have started out well, but he went way over the line.”

Dalia was just about to rebuke him, hard, about the ‘started out well’ part, but then her brain caught up with the implications of the way he’d phrased his reply (you couldn’t hang out with Miss Fuzzypants for any length of time and not start paying attention to the wording of things), and she took a step away from him, feeling suddenly way less cheeky. “Y-you’re saying… you knew him? You’re talking like you actually met the guy.” Which would make this guy way older than he looked, which meant danger.

“Long story,” he waved it off. “Don’t concern yourself with that – you have more important things to focus on, don’t you?”

R-right… play nice with the possible pal of Weiss-fucking-wald. “Um, yeah, right, uh…” Think, Dalia, think – what should I do next? What would Basil do? “Since you’re being so helpful and we’re all being secretly on the same side and all that, I’m sure you won’t mind telling me where I can find that crazy-ass bitch Dusu?” She didn’t actually expect him to rat out one of his own people, but then again, it couldn’t hurt to try… she hoped.

Again, he surprised her by pointing at a place on the North side of the floating city. It was on the North-Eastern projection, unlike the building that he’d claimed Basil and Rainbow Brite were in, which stood on the central part. “Take the A-Line until the hub station, then take the A3-Line until the very last stop, and you’ll be in Dusu’s laboratory. It takes up that whole structure.” He gestured to his right, and a circle formed on the white floor, rising up smoothly to reveal a simple, pure-white elevator cabin. “Just take the elevator down to level zero and go from there.”

“Alright, I give up,” she sighed, letting her arms fall down her sides. “Why are you doing all this? Why help us, why betray one of your own? If this ain’t all just your way of messing with my head, or setting me up to run into a fucking trap?”

Immanuel smiled that heart-melting smile again, making her knees tremble. “Because I feel like helping you out. Also, because Dusu has frankly turned out to be a monumental disappointment and she’s really not worth the effort, time or resources it takes to keep her work going. If she fails to even deal with a group of – please excuse the language, I don’t mean to be insulting – of amateurs, then she’ll frankly be getting what’s coming to her.”

“Ok, that second part, I get. That’s suitably villaneous and all,” she commented, feeling herself actually relax – evil insane power politics of evil, that she could get behind! Having the evil bad guy be nice and helpful, that just freaked her the fuck out!

He shrugged in response, staying quiet as he lowered his arm again and sat up straight.

“Well… ok, uh…” How am I supposed to talk to him? He’s a villain! He’s clearly insane! Yet he’s so nice! And helpful! And oh my GOD he’s so yummy at that! She shook her head, banishing those thoughts. “I’ll… I’ll be off then.” Well, he’s been quite nice and helpful after all… “And… thank you, I guess,” she said, as she began to walk towards the elevator he’d summoned, hoping it wouldn’t drop her into a shark-tank full of laser-eyed cyber-sharks.

“You’re welcome, Dalia,” he replied with a warm, bright smile.

“Yeah, you too, Im- What!?!” She leapt backwards from him, drawing her staff again and moving straight into a defensive position again. “How the hell do you know my name!?” she screeched at him.

He looked a little hurt at her response, sighing in disappointment. “I really thought we were past the whole ‘threatening with violence’ bit. Please, relax, Dalia. As I said before, I mean you no harm.”

“Are you fucking kidding me, Immanuel!?” she shouted again. “You know my power, you know my real name and I’m supposed to relax?! Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t beat you unconscious and drag you along to the others?”

He shook his head, looking at her in disappointment. “Dalia, please, don’t be crass. I have done nothing but be helpful and polite, haven’t I? There’s no need to have this devolve into meaningless violence.” He sounded like her fucking middle school teacher, lecturing her for coming into class with juice in her hair, like she’d done it deliberately to insult him and…

He’s messing with my head! she admonished herself. Fuck, this whole time he’s been fucking with my fucking head! I just know it!

“How is defending my secret identity meaningless, huh?” she shot back, as she couldn’t really think of anything else to do other than attack, and somehow she didn’t think that was the smartest thing to do, right now. What’s his power? God damn it, what could be his power? Is he a telepath? But he wouldn’t need to mess with me like this, if he was, wouldn’t he?

“It would be meaningless as you would invariably fail,” he replied calmly, in as friendly a manner as he’d been speaking the whole time she’d known him. “There is no way that fighting me is going to lead to a better result, for you, than being civil and talking to me, I assure you.”

“You’ve been helpful and all, but I really don’t see how you could be more helpful than you’re a freaking danger because you somehow figured out my name!?”

“Dalia, please, calm yourself. It’s not healthy to get so worked up…”

How am I supposed to calm down when you keep using my fucking name!?” she screeched again, her face flushing red.

“Alright, I’ll call you Tyche then. Does that help?” he asked with that infuriating, boyish ‘don’t-be-mad-at-me-I’m-too-cute-and-yummy’ smile of his!

“F-fuck… you… you’re unbelievable! How am I supposed to react to all of this?” She slammed her staff on the ground, pointing an accusatory finger at him as she screamed, “What do you even want!?!”

“I want to help you, of course.”

How?”

He rolled his shoulders, never breaking eye contact with her. “I’m going to help you understand your power.”

“What is there to understand? I have super-luck,” she snarled back at him, starting to feel angry again. Where did he get off, acting like he knew what her powers like, when even Basil and Miss Fuzzypants hadn’t figured it out? “I get lucky and my enemies get unlucky. So you better not mess with me!” She pointed her staff at him, wishing again that her mask didn’t cover her face entirely, so he’d be able to see her sneer at him. Stupid Basil insisting on full coverage…

“Oh, that much is obvious,” he said with a wave of his hand. “What’s important is whom it considers your enemy.” He smiled sadly at her. “Heard of Tanya, recently?”

She flinched, involuntarily, hunching her shoulders. “W-what about her? She… she got run over by a bus, wasn’t she? Stupid bitch didn’t look left or right.” She felt no satisfaction knowing that, no or when she’d learned of it. Yes, they’d made her life a living hell, but she’d never have wanted even one of them to die… not for real.

“That she did. Distracted at a crucial moment and then… dead.” He tilted his head, again, as if trying to look at her from a different perspective. “How’s Mandy doing?”

“Why do you bring them up? I hate them! I don’t want to think about them!” Wasn’t it enough that they’d driven her to nearly kill herself? Wasn’t it enough that they’d ruined years of her life? Why was he bringing them up?

“It’s important, Tyche. Please, how is Mandy doing?”

She frowned, not that he could see that, averting her eyes. “She’s… she tried to kill herself, I think. I heard something like that, from some old schoolmates.” She’d barely paid attention, really. It was… uncomfortable. She’d nearly killed herself, though her powers had come in just in time to save her.

“Yes, she did. What’s interesting is why,” he continued, his face turning from a smile to a sad expression. “She was in a club, you see? Someone slipped something into her drink, and then… well, I’d rather not say it aloud. But she thought she had no way of dealing with the memory other than killing herself.” He took a deep breath, then released it. “Fortunately, she failed, but the attempt has left… lasting damage. And her parents put her into an asylum, to be treated, rather than bother taking care of her themselves.”

Fuck… that’s… She shook her head. No one deserved that, not even one of those three. “I don’t know why, why’re you bringing this up? They got nothing to do with me! Not anymore!”

“What about Natalia?” he pushed on, asking after the last one of the bitch-trio.

“What about her? I haven’t heard of her in ages!” And good riddance…

“She was in the shelter underneath the mall, when Hastur appeared there,” he said calmly. “Strange coincidence, that she picked that one, of all. Natalia didn’t see her face… but she was caught by the monsters that resulted. Brutalised, to the point of manifesting.”

“Wait, that bitch’s got powers now? Just great!” She turned away from him, crossing her arms, trying to stave off the shivers she was feeling creeping up on her. Why was he telling her this? Why was this important? “What’s she… what’s she doin’?”

“She’s put on a cowl,” he replied. “Her experience in that shelter was just the last in a long line of humiliations and abuses, since you last met her. Now she’s sharing her pain with the world.”

“How… how do you know that? Are you just making all of this up!?”

“Sometimes I wish I did, but no. It is the truth,” he continued to speak soothingly, calmly. “What is important is why it happened.” Suddenly, his voice became… not hard, but firm. “Dalia, look at me.”

She turned around. She didn’t want to, but she did, when she heard that commanding tone. “You said you wouldn’t use my n-” Her protest cut off when his eyes met hers, two grey mirrors that captured hers, somehow finding them even though her mask hid them entirely.

“They suffered because of you, Dalia,” he said, and it was like a hammer striking her mind. “You knew this – Basil told you. Probability manipulators build up bad luck, and dump it somewhere – usually on themselves. But not you. You channeled it unto others instead.”

“N-no…” she whimpered, as the pieces began to fall into place. “I… I wouldn’t…” How didn’t I, she thought, but stuttered. It’s so obvious, now, but…

“Yes, you did,” he said, and yet there was no accusation in his voice. No reprimand. Only sympathy. “Your power guided them into misery, every time you defied fate.”

No… Her hands began to tremble.

“You won the lottery, becoming richer than you ever thought you’d be, free of the shackles of poverty,” he began, speaking as softly and as implacably as death itself. “And they lost their friends, abandoned to become pariahs as you had once been.”

It can’t be!

“You met Basil and Vasiliki, ‘by accident’, guiding the formation of your group, to be blessed with real friends. And Mandy was drugged and raped.”

Her staff fell to the ground.

“You survived the battle against Hastur’s monster, but Natalia was brutalised by them instead, until she snapped and became a monster of her own.”

Her knees hit the ground.

“Buildings collapsed atop you, and yet everything fell in such a way as to leave you spotless, not a hair harmed on your head. At the same time, a bus hit Tanya when she was distracted at the wrong moment.”

“Nooooo…” She… she hadn’t. She couldn’t. That couldn’t be true.

I can’t breathe.

“And those were just the high points,” he continued, mercilessly, his warm, silvery eyes captivating her. Not letting her blink, even, though tears made her vision blurry. “You don’t even know of all the small, petty miseries it inflicted. The small cuts, the twisted ankles, the embarrassing secrets that came out, the chance humiliations in public. Remember when you heard that someone pulled Natalia’s pants down in public, and she wasn’t wearing underwear at the time? Oh, how you laughed…” He sighed, still without averting his gaze.

She ripped her mask off her face, choking, trying to breathe.

But it wouldn’t come.

No, no, I’m… I’m a hero! I don’t…

“I’m a hero…” she protested weakly, trying to… to defend herself? What was she even saying?

It made so much sense. How had she not seen this before?

“You are,” he affirmed with a soft, soft smile. “But that doesn’t absolve you of the consequences of your actions. For every good deed you’ve done, your power has brought an equal amount of misery to the world. To those who hurt you. Whom you hated.”

“Whom you resented.”

“Wh-who… who else?” she asked, trembling. Her arms wrapped around her stomach, she felt nauseous and she couldn’t breathe.

“To a lesser degree than those three, your teachers. Your old classmates. Your guidance counselor, your principal. All the people whom you blamed for the torment you experienced, all those who failed to protect you when they should have, they each suffered to the degree to which you blamed them for it.”

“Nonono… I’m a hero! I’m… I help people! I never… I never wanted this!” she cried breathlessly, her voice cracking several times, as she tried to fight it.

Tried to deny it.

Tried not to follow it to its logical conclusion.

“And most of all, the one who let you down the most,” he continued, without mercy, without accusation, his voice so good, so soft, so… cruel. “The one who should have been protecting you, above all others, and failed. She suffered most of all, and suffers still.”

“Don’t… please, please… don’t…”

Finally, finally, he averted his eyes, those cold, beautiful mirrors releasing her eyes, letting the tears spill forth.

“You ruined your mother’s life, above all,” he confirmed all her fears. “Every broken bone from tripping over her own feet, every cut in her skin from glass that broke in her own hands, her descent into alcoholism to try and deal with the constant pains and humiliations… because you resented her, blamed her, hated her.”

“Noooooooooooooo!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, bending over, her forehead pressed to the ground. “No, no no no, I didn’t, I wouldn’t, I love her! She’s my mom! She’s my mom, my mom, I wouldn’t hurt my m-m-om…”

And yet, she couldn’t deny it, not anymore. Not when it was in her face like this. All this time, she’d… skipped over it. She’d seen her mother suffer, seen her break down, piece by piece, step by step, and she… she hadn’t connected the dots… How could she have been so stupid!?

“Of course you love her,” he spoke. “Of course you do. But love does not preclude hate. It does not preclude resentment. When you were broken, when you were being beaten on… your mother failed you. Never deliberately, but she was so busy, all the time, wasn’t she? Working two jobs to pay the bills, to put you through a semi-decent schools… didn’t even have time to feed you, didn’t she? You had to cook for yourself, more often than not. So many nights spent alone in front of the television, asking yourself whether life was even worth it. No friends, no father, a mother that was barely there, bullies who drove you to attempt suicide.” He sighed, as if he himself couldn’t believe it. As if it hurt him even a fraction as much as his words were tearing her up inside. “You know it’s true. I haven’t spoken a single lie to you.”

She cried, bitterly. Sobbing, tears and snot running over the cold, transparent floor. Her shoulders shook, even though she was hugging herself to calm her body. She could only press her face harder against the floor, trying to steady herself, to find… something… to hold on to…

Suddenly, his voice spoke from right above her.

“It’s not your fault, Dalia,” Immanuel said, his voice overflowing with care. She looked up, seeing his bare feet, then his pants, then up past his body to his caring face. He knelt down, reaching out with one hand to cup her cheek.

His hand was warm against her skin. Warm and steady, when she was neither.

“You felt resentment for those who hurt you, for those who let you down – that is only natural, that was and is your right. But your power took that and turned it into fate,” he said, gently stroking her cheekbone with his thumb.

“What… what do I do… I don’t… I don’t want to hurt them… didn’t…” Her voice broke again.

He sushed her, as he pulled her in with both arms, wrapping them around her, holding her to his breast. So warm…

“Of course you don’t,” he spoke, his voice thick with feeling. “I truly am sorry for your anguish,” he caressed her back with his hand, as the other one held her tight, not caring about the snot and the tears that touched his bare skin. “But you needed to know. There is not a problem in the world which can be solved if you don’t know.”

She whimpered, limp in his embrace, without even the strength to push him away… or accept it.

He just held her. “Now you know. And I know, and I’m here, with you.” He held her tighter.

“We’ll find a way to fix it, I promise. You, me, Basil, Vasiliki and the others, all together,” he whispered into her ear, his voice full of conviction.

“Dafür sind Gefährten da.”

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57 thoughts on “B13.5 Call of the Sleeper

  1. On a less serious and more annoyed note, I’m starting to get really annoyed with wordpress – it keeps publishing my stuff on a wrong “date”, which messes up my links something fierce.

    • Well, to fix your links you could use permalinks. They look something like this: domain.wordpress.com/?p=POST_ID and work without the date.
      OR you could switch to royalroadl. Might take some time to copy everything over but I heard good things about the site. Plus it might be a good way to get a bigger audience.
      Let’s hope Basil was paranoid enough to add enough fail-safes into his his toys to protect them from random malfunctions. This could get berry interesting.

  2. …Damn, diese Kreature Muss sterben und seine Gefährten mit Ihm. This guy is a true danger, so this is what the fearless leader is, Immanuel”god with us” the protector of the house hell even more than that he is a freaking abomination…and for some reason I think he is just as dangerous in a fight.

    I wonder how old this guy is, older than Weisswald that’s for sure but still, is he one of the first manifested ? Did the guy personally know Lady Light and the Dark(even if they do not know he is the fearless leader) ?So many questions…still I hope someone will manage to unfuck up(yes it’s a word now)Tyche because damn the girl does not deserve that, wonder if down the line she will be able to conciously chose on whom to channel her bad luck oh and as an aside will we see the person who manifested during the Hastur thing in the future ?

      • Wildbow ? Is that you ?

        You know the vibe I get from this guy makes me think that he is like Ember in some ways and that the mechanism he used to know things about Tyche or locate the others around the base is analogous to Ember’s power is some ways, he sees them too, the “worlds” and can interact with them in some ways too, perhaps not as worlds per se as Ember but still.

      • Wildbow doesn’t have a monopoly on the mathematicians’ answer.

        We writers have used it since ages past!

      • True, but he is the one I have seen use it the most.

        Oh and I forgot something in my previous statement: I think the Godking of Mars was like Immanuel and Ember too(or that Ember is like him since the Godking is older than Ember), well like Ember at least given nothing is certain about Immanuel yet.

        BTW I wonder what the Forresters and the Fellows of the Future thought about the Godking of Mars when he did his thing.

        Oh and is it wrong that this chapter made me want to have an interlude from the perspective of Weisswald before he became the monster everyone knows ?

      • What makes you think Emyr was like the two of them, or that the two of them are alike, in turn?

        The Forresters were at first thrilled about Emyr (a metahuman who rules a whole planet! paradise, yay!) until it became clear that his martians were NOT human and he was out to subjugate metas just as much as baselines.

        as to the gefährten… that, I’ll keep for another time^^

        You ARE kind of getting that interlude, piece by piece, though. After all, Basil is reading his diary

      • – Well I see Immanuel being the same as Ember which in turn I had theorized, before Immanuel appeared in the story, to be the same as Ember in some ways:

        Both of them seem to be Outliers as far as powers go and the sheer potency of it

        Ember’s power allows him to go into other people’s”worlds”as well as his own and interact with them to induce various effects including healing of pretty much everything including age and death.

        Emyr’s power(at least how I see it)is to interact with his own”world” on a greater scale than Ember and make what is inside of it real, including his vision of Mars and it’s inhabitant and their civilization as well as modifiying things in his inner “world” to have godlike powers but unable to affect other “Worlds” like Ember can.

        Now concerning Immanuel it is the way he talked to Tyche and figured things out about her, the way he did it did not seem to be telepathy or other run in the mill esper power, but something else, that something I would say was looking at her”World”and pulling things from there while subtly altering it to make her feel attracted to him and lose her wits a bit on the top of the Psychological attack.

        By the same token this is also how he was able to locate her friends by being able to pinpoint the”Worlds”that are connected to hers in one way or another and that he had trouble with Gloomy because of her power.

        Note that I just “world” because it’s Ember’s terminology and that Emyr and Immanuel may percive the same thing differently.

        – Must have been funy when they realised that…

        – Can’t wait to see then…also why do I suddenly get the impression that they had a hand in the guy’s demise after that answer ?

        – True, but I meant one happening live not events being recounted afterwards, qtill the Diaries are interesting.

      • If my memory serves me right, you said that EoM wasn’t a contriver, but rather the same type of meta that Ember was in an earlier set of comments. I could be mis-remembering, it was years ago

  3. The fearless leader is the janitor from the hospital, he was the only person who was at ground zero besides the dark and lady light. Unless of course manifesting switched his gender and the janitor is now the sleeper.

    • I am pretty sure that it was confirmed that Jake the Janitor is actually Journeyman. And to be honest Journeyman doesn’t seem like the person who would secretly work against his friends.
      BTW, leading one of the world’s biggest terrorist organizations would also probably kill him, unless he lied about no longer being able to influence the future in meaningful ways without suffering the consequences.

    • im 100 percent certain that the janitor/groumdskeeper/butler became Journeyman, and the little homeless girl whom he fed and then put to bed that night became the Sleeper.

      • The homeless girl became Brightchild, Lady Light’s original sidekick and the one who sparked the rampage that ended world war 2, when Weisswald killed her at the battle of london

      • really? damn i dont remember us learning that at all. was it revealed in the first act of empty dragon?

      • but…but she was sleeping and…and controled the ice and snow be-be-before disappearing!T_T (slinks off in shane to reread story)

  4. You have a beautiful ability to make interesting characters. Immanuel is such a great villain, not better than the Dark, nut still good. The Dark is much more clever about how he pursues his goals.

    By the way, i never mentioned how briliant you are for making the Dark the way he is. Immanuel is a more plot heavy villain, because he MUST be defeated, but The Dark will always be the more successfull because he has made a very careful and calculated effort to ensure that no one who can actually defeat him ever feels that the attempt is worth the cost. He has found the perfect balance of villainy that will keep him in power potentially forever. Immanuel blew his load to quickly. He has put himself in a position where (like the GodKing of Mars) he MUST be defeated. And like the Godking of Mars, he CAN be defeated. The poor sap does not realize his own foolishness. He is blinded by ambition. The dark on the other hand has seen the true path to aquire anything he wants, and ain’t nobody going to do shit about it because he has planned +100 steps in advance so that stopping him is never worth the cost. He has made himself needed! Goodness! I love that.
    He is like President Lex Luther, but even more badass.

    It’s good that there is ony one Dark though. A superhero story needs a villain which can actually be defeated.

    • I’m going to have to disagree here. From what we’ve seen of Immanuel, he’d be too easily defeated to be the big bad of a story. He’s impressive, but he seems like the sort where a combination of self-knowledge and heroic willpower would render him a non-threat.

      He’s sort of Basil’s opposite: a villainous Exposition-Fairy.

      • Uh, what are you even dissagreeing with? Your comment does not seem to have anything to do with mine? Did you respond to me accidentally?

        Also, yeah, self-knowledge and willpower is definitely the way to take down one of the most powerful villain organizations in the world. Yup, that is all it takes. The power of believing in yourself!

      • For the shit he and his subordinates do, he’s one of the planet’s biggest villains, no question.

        For his part in unnatural disaster relief and restraining other villains, I’d classify his as a part-time hero, or at least semi-hero. (Extremely) Enlightened self interested individual, maybe?

      • I had read your comment as “Immanuel is a great villain for being the Big-Bad of the story”. That’s what I was disagreeing with.

        While he does make a good villain, he’s not a good enemy for this type of story. From what we’ve seen of him, it looks like the only ‘superpower’ someone would need to defeat him is deafness.

        He can drive a plot. But the challenge of the story becomes finding him, because disposing of him after that is trivial. He’d make an awesome main villain in a mystery, but not in an action plot.

      • To me it seems most likely that Immanuel has some sort of Esper power, and that it lets him track where people are and find out people’s secrets/ leverage them. There are other possibilities that could explain his actions and knowledge in this chapter, ( aminion with access to the information feeding him lines, for instance) but it being his power is the neatest explanation. Plus it doesn’t /seem/ like the story would be misdirection us about his power right here.

        (Plus I think you said the next files would be on Esper powers, which as a stretch could be taken as clue that at this juncture Esper powers are the most relevant thing to be learning about. But that’s really, really weak evidence.)

        I suspect the idea that ‘self-knowledge & willpower’ or ‘deafness’ being needed to beat him comes from Immanuel’s psychological attack on Tyche here, and the expectation that this is how a confrontation with him would generally go – it’s hard for him to talk you to death if you’re not listening, or don’t care what he has to say.

        Personally I’m not sure I agree. I suspect his power is far more broadly applicable than conversations and direct face-to-face manipulation. He’s too far up the food chain for it to be otherwise. But I don’t think specific mechanics can really be guessed here. I’m not even confident that information gathering is the primary aspect of his power.

      • It’s not a hint or anything. I’m just going through the power types I think need explanation the most – there is really no need to make a file on energy blasts, after all. Blasty O’Splode is gonna be Blasty O’Splode no matter which universe she’s in. But Espers, Gadgeteers, Spawners and so on usually differ wildly from one setting to the next.

    • Hmmm, i actuallly do not think The Dark and Immamual copare well together. The Dark Is more like a dark(heh) anti-hero then anything else. he likes playhng the villain cause in a way it allows him more freedom to do what he believes needs to be done.(well that and because he thinks its more fun) Immanuel(if he really is the fearless leader) does not seem to think he or his people are the badguys, just misunderstood. and truely believes he will be justified in the end. one is a dedicated actor who plays what ever role he needs to get results. the other is a zealot who relies oo fervor ane blind trust to achieve his goals.

      • The Dark may not be the worst of the worst or anything, but he is most certainly NOT a hero, anti or otherwise. Do remember that he DOES sponsor people like Amy (serial rapist, even if it turned out she isn’t really), Kraquok (cannibal) and more, and that all of these monsters still defer to him.

        Anyone who thinks the Dark is heroic in any fashion is just another victim of his charades (or they’re Irene).

      • OKay the Amy bit is pretty bad. but come on Kraquok is awesome!!! and its not REALLY canablism when you no longer even renntely look human. besides monkeys and lions do it and we love them. humph your being awfully judgemental to poor Kraky!! also sense you made it a choice i choose Irene.

      • I’m pretty sure genotype is more important than phenotype when determining whether a meal is cannibalistic or not 😛

      • I am pretty sure the other members of the five are on that level of villainy too, especially Daijisi but then I think the Dowager(wonder what the Dark and the Dowager respectively think about the rumours of ther being his lover) and Lamarr are nothing to laugh at either.

        As for the Dark’s heroics I am sure you could find people arguing that by sponsoring those monsters he controls them and limit the damage they do and makes use of them against the biggest threats out there.(I don’t subscribe to this point of view but eh).

      • Every time someone suggests that they’re lovers within the Dark’s hearing, he succumbs to irresistible paroxysms

    • Meh That must not be healthy for the person making the suggestion or for the surrounding area…

      And what happens if someone suggests it in the vicinity or the Dowager ?

      • Does it perchance involve signing and a contract and some very specific clauses?

      • No, but it does involve the last thing that you see in your life being a cat flying at your face to scratch your eyes out.

        Those shades aren’t the dowager’s ONLY weapon, after all…

      • Hmmm…That cat sounds rather nasty, as for the Dowager’s weapns aside from her shades(and cat apparently) I am rather curious about what they are.

        For that matter I was wondering if there were Metas with powers akin to Teacher around, I mean there are Contrivers who can empower people with drugs or create powered mutants(and give the Dark headaches with their requests)and then there is the Dowager and her contracts which can at least affect other meta’s abilities to perform a task stipulated in said contract but still it’s not exactly the same.

      • I don’t have any meta with a power exactly like Teacher’s in canon, but it’s perfectly plausible within the setting’s system.

        There are others with similar powers, too. From canon…

        Coach, whose power works similarly to Teacher’s, only on the body rather than the mind. He can give out any of a huge number of very minor physical powers to people, at the cost of these powers also conditioning their wielders to like and obey him (pavlovian process, give them a rush of endorphines when they see him/are near him/please/obey him, the opposite when they are too long away, disobey, and so on). Very subtle process which even he himself isn’t aware of – he’s a hero, using his power to support several British cape teams.

      • – Oh ? No answer about the Dowager’s other capabilities ? Oh well it was worth a shot, will we get to see more of her and her faction within the syndicate at some point ?

        – Ah good to know that it is possible.

        – Oh ? I missed that one because I just flat oout don’t remember the guy…Which is rather unsual for me. Meh, Anyway do you have an actual list of powers he can grant or is it vague ? Now the side effect is interesting I wonder the reaction this would get from people if it comes out, or how the Coach himself would react to this especially with him using his power on heroes.

      • Coach hasn’t appeared in-story yet, he’s merely a canon character that I have in Britain.

        The extent of the Dowagers abilities are very spoilerrific. Yes, you will see more of her, and thus, you will have to wait until it’s time to find out.

      • – Good, I was afraid I missed something but I am still wondering if you have a list of the powers Coach can can grant(I am not asking you what powers he can grant merely if you have a pre set list for him or not of course if you do have a list and care to share it…)

        – Ah, well I must say I am good with waiting and I am happy we are going to see more about the Dowager and her abilities and how she operates, Hell I hope we get to have an inside look on the operations of all of the five.

  5. Very nicely done. For the first half I was thinking, “Is this their containment method for Tyche? Put her next to a cute guy to make her power focus on having her ‘get lucky’? But then, wouldn’t Gloom Glimmer have gotten the same treatment?”

    I rather like Immanuel. There’s something to be said about getting your way simply by telling the truth. That’s my guess on his power, by the way: He knows the truths that will hurt people.

  6. Now that is how you tempt someone to the Dark Side. break then utterly, then nffer a gentle helping hand. add a good helping of true sincerity, and they are yours. also helps if ynur not really the cause nf the breaking. also also awwww Tyche is evil now, i think, or at least teatering that way right now.

    • oh, while i really do feel bad for Tyche. i would feel worse if she didnt keep calling Irene “freaky girl” and the eact that her victims suffered and are sufferhng a shit ton more than she is right now.i wonder if she will also feel any responrsbilhty for Natalle’s victims too.(i would think much better of her if she did.). and a silly question, whats with all the supers disdain for footwear? i get most have tougher feet than normies, but people and animals still piss, shit, bleed, sneeze, spit and vomit om the ground!

      • In-universe, that’s Immanuel’s meditation chamber. A clean place if there ever was one.

        Out of universe, that’s just me. I hate footwear. I’d walk around barefoot everywhere if I could.

      • The disdain for footwear makes perfect sense to me. I use my feet to pick things up at times, and don’t really like the loss of dexterity.

        And given what capes go through anyway, there’s a decent chance of them being covered in all manner of nasty things regardless of footwear choices. If that bothered them, they’d make alternate career choices.

  7. So on a scale of things that are okay, ranging from “I’m 0kay with this” to “all aboard the NOPE train to FUCKTHATVILLE”?

    This is n0t 0kay.

      • Hastur. She was fucking horrific. Immortal, army of monsters, and causes a fate worse than death with a single LOOK? Ignoring the fact that she apparently could overhear everyone’s conversations, just the way she was so wrong to look at people would claw their faces off was all kinds of unsettling. The fact that she didn’t seem to really get how wrong what she was doing only made it creepier. And just look at how she was beaten. It took an actual, honest to god, Eldritch Abomination to take her down (which really only makes the Sleeper scarier). For me, the sheer body horror she invoked and the way she corrupted people made her the worst of the monsters we’ve been shown in this story.
        So yes, Hastur qualified for the bloody, express, bullet NOPE train with experimental FTL engines. Choo Choo all the way to FUCKTHATVILLE on the planet I’MOUT in the SOLONGGUYS Galaxy.

      • Uh… Not to rain on your parade, but if Brennus had anything that a reader objected to that much, they’d probably never get so far as to read your comment here.

        In case you were wondering what would do that to me? Go binge on manga. Especially shounen manga. It is a Bible of what not to do when writing.

    • Different strokes, I guess.

      Personally, I call this “juicy drama”. With a side order of character development and some exposition garnish.

  8. I think Immanuel’s power is he; appears, says, or does whatever gives him the biggest advantage toward his current goal whatever it may be.

  9. Whelp, I’m now officially current after binging this story for the last couple of weeks. And man, what a chapter! If ever there was a ‘Join the Darkside, We have Cookies’ moment this was it. Well done Ties. I look forward to what’s to come! =D

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