B13.6 Call of the Sleeper

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“So, what are we gonna do about this super-powerful new enemy?” Polymnia asked, making her voice sound unconcerned, even though her face and posture screamed concern.

“Nothing at all,” Basil said simply, crossing his arms. “As long as he stays up there, he can be as powerful as the Godking, for all I care.”

Gloom Glimmer chuckled, but Polymnia didn’t seem amused. “This is serious, Brennus! We can’t just ignore such a powerful person!”

“We also can not do anything about it, unless you can figure out what kind of power he or she has?” He directed the second part at Gloom Glimmer.

She turned her head, looking at the direction of the tower. Then she shook her head. “I’m sorry, but no… there’s too much… power here. Especially beneath this place; it’s like trying to read the radiation a single rod of uranium gives off, while standing in the centre of Nagasaki. I can tell THAT he – or she, I guess – is powerful, but not what kind of power it is.”

“Below, huh?” Basil looked down thoughtfully.

“Do you have any idea what what may mean?” Polymnia asked thoughtfully, though it wasn’t clear whether she was addressing him, or Gloom Glimmer.

“Crocell was created below, before rising up. It is likely that whatever process generated it and its kin is still going on, perhaps producing more such monsters,” he replied, sounding calmer than he felt. “If there is such an amount of ‘power’, as Gloom Glimmer perceives it, gathered below, it may mean that there are multiple such monsters stored below, perhaps in an earlier stage of their development… or, perhaps, she is sensing whoever or whatever created them in the first place.”

Polymnia had grown steadily more pale as he’d kept talking, finally averting her eyes, gulping nervously. “Great. This whole thing keeps getting better and better.”

Gloom Glimmer reached out, taking her friend’s hand and squeezing it. “Don’t worry, Me- Poly. I’m here, remember? I’ll keep us all safe,” she promised with a reassuring smile.

The young gadgeteer looked at her friend, then at Basil, then back at her friend again, her mouth forming a soft smile. She nodded.

“Alright,” Basil spoke up. “Neither of this really changes what we have to do – find our friends, find Dusu, retrieve the cure for her victims, get away all in one piece.”

The two girls nodded, looking seriously at him, as if awaiting orders.

He took a deep breath, thinking over their options. “Gloom Glimmer, can you carry the two of us and take us back to where you and the others were locked up?” This would all be so much easier if you had just gotten them out in the first place, before coming to find us. At least it’s good to know your priorities.

Gloom Glimmer thought it over, briefly, then nodded, bending her arm as if to show off her biceps. “I can do it!”

Suiting action to words, she picked Polymnia up, making the girl squeal in surprise as she was thrown over her friend’s shoulder. Then she looked at Basil, who nodded and stepped forward, allowing her to pick him up over her other shoulder, as ridiculous as that looked (with their equipment, both he and Polymnia were a good deal broader and heavier than Gloom Glimmer and, in his case, also taller).

“Here we go,” Gloom Glimmer said simply, and took off, the hallways turning into a flowing series of streaks as she began to run.

Unable to do much of anything in this situation, other than trust in Gloom Glimmer not to steer them wrong (or into a wall), Basil instead focused inwards, past the chaotic stream of observations and ideas that his power was feeding him.

How come I, of all people, always end up taking charge?, he couldn’t help but ask himself. It hadn’t escaped him that both Polymnia and Gloom Glimmer had heeded his suggestions, even waited for him to make them. Which wasn’t the first time it had happened. He’d slid into the position of being in charge during previous crises, Crocell only being the latest example.

Even with his team, he’d somehow effectively become the leader, which just boggled his mind. Thinking about himself and the other members, he’d have expected Hecate to lead – in spite of being a Contriver, she was the most focused one, the one who was most reliable. Most sensible.

Yet even she looked to him for leadership, which was profoundly uncomfortable to Basil.

He barely had a grip on his own life, if at all; how could people trust him to take care of theirs?

***

Gloom Glimmer ran for several minutes, even though she was moving at least as fast as Basil had ever seen Outstep move – the structure they were on was huge, even bigger than it had seemed to be when viewed from above. Hallways, vertical shafts, elevators and staircases turned it into a labyrinthine mess, the navigation of which wasn’t helped at all by the fact that there were no signs at all to be seen, anywhere. She’d only found them as quickly as she had – and even then, it’d taken her several minutes – because she’d manifested a power to track Polymnia with, one which was useless now that she’d already found her and had thus been discarded in favour of the danger sense she was using to steer around threats.

Which didn’t help speed up their journey at all, but Basil had insisted that they dodge as many people as possible. He didn’t doubt for a moment that the enemy knew they were free inside their big secret floating city, yet there hadn’t been an alarm, as far as he could tell, nor a lockdown of any kind.

We should have been swarmed by Stormtroopers by now, Basil thought, as he finished cracking that communicator he’d taken off of one of the Skullmen. He’d tried to contact Hecate and Tyche on the communicators he’d given them already, but had found them blocked; he was hoping that he’d be able to use the Skullman’s communicator to at least listen in on their lines, even if he couldn’t contact his friends.

“Why’d you make your force-field permeable to sound?” Polymnia suddenly asked, turning her head to look at him.

“It seemed much more likely to me that I’d be working with you, rather than against another sonic-based aggressor,” he replied simply, pulling a cable from his belt to attach to it. A twist of wires and he could patch straight into the communicator with his interface. “Sonic attacks are not so common that it’s not worth the risk to plan for you having to attack enemies through my shield. We’ve been fighting together quite often, after all,” he finished explaining himself. “Besides, if I did run into another sonic-based fighter, I would simply call on your superior expertise on the matter to help me deal with their power.”

To his surprise, she blushed a bit, averting her eyes.

What? What did I say?, he asked himself, confused. I was only practical. Why’d she blush?

Girls were getting more confusing by the day. Vasiliki had been blushing a lot, at random times, lately. And Prisca…

He flinched, feeling a stab of pain as he violated his resolution not to think of her until he had the cure in his hands. Do not go down that road, Basil. Focus on the task at hand.

Fortunately, he didn’t have any time to get mopey – having patched the communicator into his mask’s interface, he now had access to the enemy’s line of communication, and he wasted not time accessing it.

“-nd, this is Skulls. Team 3 was just downed at the Southern holding facility,” the gruff voice of a woman said. “I advise a facility-wide lockdown to contain the intruders.”

“Negative, Skulls,” a male replied in a much calmer tone of voice. “We have orders from above. Mobilise our-“

“Sir, someone is using a Skulls communicator to access this line other than Skulls,” a second woman, this one younger, threw in.

“The gadgeteers. One of them must have taken a communicator fr-“

Basil terminated the connection, before crushing the little box. “Damn it. They realised I was listening in.”

“Did you hear anything useful?” Polymnia asked.

“They’re not going to lock down the facility, it seems,” he replied. “They’ve ordered someone named Skulls – apparently the leader of the armed troops we saw earlier – to mobilise something instead, but that’s all I heard.”

“Chin up, we’re almost there,” Gloom Glimmer interrupted as her run slowed, their surroundings turning from variously coloured blurs to what now looked like…

“Is that wax?” Polymnia sounded as surprised as he felt.

Basil, meanwhile, looked around as soon as Gloom Glimmer put him down, inspecting the hallway they were in.

It really was made of wax. The general shape was the same as the hallways they’d been in earlier, but it was all made of wax, and illuminated by (electric) lamps that were styled to look like candles sticking out of the walls.

Looking down, he saw that even the floor was made of wax.

The only other thing that stood out about the hallway was the huge, octagonal door in the middle of it. It was huge, flat and had the shape of a normal door engraved in it. There was no obvious means of opening it.

“I was locked up in the tower behind this door,” Gloom Glimmer explained. “I, uh… I didn’t really look for the others, I just…” She blushed, looking at Polymnia with an embarrassed expression on her face. “I kind of freaked out and…” She hung her head in shame.

Her friend, though, reached out and put an armored hand on her shoulder, squeezing it through the thick, white cloak and her black bodysuit. “Thank you,” she said with a smile. “That’s sweet of you – but you really ought to prioritise better, in the future. And you’ll have to apologise to them, alright?”

Gloom Glimmer hung her head, ashamed, nodding her assent.

“Do you know how to open this door?” Basil asked urgently. He didn’t want to waste time right now, not in this matter.

“Step aside,” she replied, taking a deep breath.

He did so, and she put the palm of her hand onto the door. An orange glow spread from her hand, slowly at first, then faster. At first, Basil thought she was heating the wax, but his sensors registered no increase in heat at all.

His musings about what she might be up to where answered quickly, as the glow spread all over the door – and then it all disappeared. Just winked out of existence, leaving the way open into…

A huge circular hall, the floor of which was covered in the broken bodies of two dozen Skullmen.

Osore stood amidst them, watching Bakeneko, Tartsche and Hecate applying first aid to a few of the men, while Spellgun stood behind the railing of a higher floor, holding his rifle ready.

Everyone stopped what they were doing, staring at the new arrivals.

“Brennus!” Hecate shouted with immense relief, as she burst into shadowy smoke, rushing over and reforming just a few feet ahead of him.

For a moment, he thought he was about to get a hug, but she stopped herself and simply put her left hand on his shoulder, still holding her staff with the other. Both were trembling.

“Are you alright?” she asked.

“Quite so,” he answered, reaching out to squeeze her shoulder back, feeling her relax. “What happened here?”

They both turned around and looked at Gloom Glimmer and Polymnia reuniting with their teammates, or rather, with Tartsche, Spellgun (who leapt down from above, using a surprisingly quiet shot from his rifle to break his fall before he impacted the ground) and Bakeneko, while Osore stayed where he’d been, seemingly just looking down at his own feet, or perhaps the defeated guards.

“We were teleported into individual cells,” Hecate explained. “They put me and Spellgun into a pentacle that cut us off from the sources of our power – I have no idea how it could block us both, our spellwork is completely different! – and Tartsche into another, and Bakeneko and Osore into individual ones, too.” She stopped, taking a deep breath. “He broke out, though. Osore, I mean. He’s somehow… super-strong. Like, way stronger than I thought he was.”

They both looked at all the foes on the ground. “Osore took them all out himself?” Basil asked, impressed. Now that he was looking closer, he could see dozens, if not hundreds, of tranquiliser darts on the ground around Osore. He himself seemed completely unharmed, though his leather jacket and his skintight top were full of holes, pale skin peaking out.

“Yeah. Took them by surprise, I think. Then Tartsche somehow managed to break out, too, and he freed me and Spellgun, and… well, the rest went over quickly,” she explained. “Hey… do you have any idea where Tyche is? She’s not in any of these cells.”

He shook his head. “No. I thought she would be here with the rest of you. Polymnia and I were teleported to the Northern half, most certainly because we are Gadgeteers, but I see no reason why Tyche would go somewhere else, unless…”

“…her power interfered,” Hecate finished his sentence. “But… where would she be, then?”

“I do not know,” he sighed, shaking his head. “I have no idea how their teleport interdiction works, so I do not know how her power might have changed things.”

“Hey!” Bakeneko shouted, suddenly, making everyone turn around. She was kneeling next to one of the Skullmen – one whose legs were both broken, among other injuries – in her ‘normal’ catgirl form. “This guy needs some medical attention, stat.”

Basil hurried over immediately, kneeling down next to him.

“Don’t bother,” Gloom Glimmer interrupted him, stepping over from where she’d been talking to her other teammates. “They’re already dead, anyway,” she explained when they stared at her, her expression as serious as it ever got.

“What do you mean, dead? He still has a heart beat!” Bakeneko protested, but Gloom Glimmer just shook her head, as she drew her hood up to cover her head, plunging her face into shadows.

“That’s not what I mean,” she said softly. “I can feel it… they’re part of a hive mind. Someone burned out whoever these men and women used to be, and connected them to himself. They’re barely sentient, more like automatons. Empty vessels that follow commands and stand ready as spare bodies for their master, in case his current host dies.”

“Wow, and people say my power is scary,” a gruff, female voice said from the direction of the gate.

Basil flipped around, lifting his rifle as he went up on one knee, holding it two-handed. The others all reacted as well, though not as quickly as he had, save for Gloom Glimmer, who just turned her head to look in said direction.

A figure in body armor identical to the men and women on the ground leaned against the frame of the door, her arms crossed in front of her chest. The only difference between her and the others was the fact that she wasn’t wearing a helmet, revealing her hairless, pale face – a face that might have been lovely, once, but had become withered, wrinkled without actually looking old, the only part that looked alive being her cruel, hard eyes.

Three more people stood there, with her, just beyond the gate. A woman in a black-and-purple armored dress, with a bird-like helmet obscuring her head and a katana which was strapped to her hip. In front of her and slightly to the right, a tall man in a skintight, dark blue suit, across which danced two-dimensional lightning, his handsome face barely obscured by a blue domino mask, his brown hair cropped short. And finally, another woman, this one shorter than the others and younger, looking barely old enough to not be a girl anymore, wearing a mystic-seeming yellow robe with rich golden stitching and holding a thick, gold-bound book that was thicker than her arm to her chest, her young face looking at them with arrogance in her green eyes, peering at them through her dark blonde curls.

The Skull-Woman stepped forward, studying them. “You’ve been quite the embarrassment, you know?” she said, her shrivelled lips stretching over sharp white teeth.

“To your security,” Basil said flatly, tracking her movements with his rifle. Is she the core of the hive mind?

She nodded. “Yup.” She looked at Gloom Glimmer. “You girl… you’re freaky. Just figuring all that out about my power? No one’s seen through it like that before, not since I first met our fearless leader. My name’s Skulls, by the way.”

“I’m the queen of freaky,” Gloom Glimmer said coldly, her eyes beginning to glow within the shadows of her hood. She looked past Skulls at the others, then at her again. “This is all?” she said, her voice dismissive, even disappointing. Haughty.

Skulls let loose a bark of laughter. “Cocky! Taking after your fucking parents, huh?” she asked, her face turning into a hideous snarl all of a sudden.

She wasn’t even paying attention to Basil or the others, as they spread out around Gloom Glimmer and him – Hecate and Polymnia with him, the other junior heroes on Gloom Glimmer’s side.

“You got a problem with my parents?”

“Yeah. Your dad put a hit out on me,” the withered woman snarled. “Something about me being too much of a psychopath for him to tolerate. The hypocrite.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Gloom Glimmer drawled at her, remaining calm, which only seemed to infuriate the woman. “My papa is bad, but he at least has class. You…” She looked the woman up and down. “You try to hard.”

The woman in the bird-helmet spoke up, just as Skulls was about to say something, her face twisted in even more anger. She spoke in harsh Japanese – Basil only caught a few words, ‘orders’, ‘deal with’ and ‘control’ – and Skulls subsided, stepping back.

“I’ll teach you about class, you little bitch,” she snarled at Gloom Glimmer, still ignoring the others in the room. “And when I’m done, I’ll send your daddy a recording of it. Bet that’ll make him reconsid-“

Basil opened fire, shooting the Japanese woman’s katana off her hip, shattering the sword into two pieces.

Before anyone could react, another shot destroyed the book in the arrogant girl’s arms, hitting hard enough to throw her back to slam into the wall behind, causing her to cry out in pain.

And then all hell broke loose.

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55 thoughts on “B13.6 Call of the Sleeper

  1. Next chapter is going to be quite the battle – and it’ll include a special treat for you, my adoring fans 😉

    Stay tuned and don’t forget to vote, please!

    • I can’t wait. And I hope that Amy gats there soon. She should be able to pose more of a threat to the enemy than most of Basil’s group put together, Gloomy and Gadget-Duo notwithstanding….and Tyche, if she learns to turn her powers so her enemies suffer a stroke of bad luck for every stroke of good luck she gets.

      I suppose if she does, Basil should get her a list of horribly irredeemable people she can influence to take her luck out in them, like Dusu

  2. I caught up. I fucking caught up. This isn’t fair, I waited years before starting this, YEARS! Why can’t there be more chapters! And right at a point like this! D:

    Love the story though!

  3. Lol, rule 1 numbskull. Pay attention to your surrnundings when entering an engagememt! i cant tell right now if they are just incompetent, if Basil and crew are better than even they realize, or if Imamuel is just using this as an opportunity to offload more disappointments. seriously who just stands there in plain sight bitching about slights, while at least five ranged attackers take aim at you?(well except the Redcoats?). Not to menti6m the missed surprise attack opportunity.Hope these guys at least have the power to off set their idiocy. also hope Basil realizes how lucky he got. needs to remember to have lookouts.

      • Yeah I’m mostly disappointed in her backup, who were focusing on the petty argument instead of the guns pointed at them. In particular any mage who stands in front of a rifle without some kind of barrier up or turning insubstantial first, and any melee fighter who just stands in front of a gunner and can’t parry bullets? Pretty sure that the boss is giving specific orders for only embarrassments who it would be convenient to lose (and the body surfing immortal maybe) to engage.

      • So, not *just* throwing away useless minions. Obvious answer is that by watching the defeat of people you want to get rid of anyway, you learn the capabilities of the invaders and can send your competent (and therefore valuable) minions in better prepared. Less obvious options include a power who gains advantage in some way over anybody who sheds blood or strikes out in anger within their domain. Without more data on the power of the guy sitting up top I can’t make a solid prediction, but I suspect anybody who goes all out here will regret it immensely.

      • Another factor that you’ve failed to consider, but which Immanuel certainly hasn’t:

        Short of a powerful telepath (which is extremely rare) there is just plain no good counter for Gloomy, other than just trying to tire her out.

      • i WAS actually refering to the whole group, i just also wanted to use the “numbskull” pun. also LOL, Immanuel is using litteral cannonfodder to wear Gloomy down? GO TEAM KICK HER ASS!!!

      • Short of a powerful telepath huh ? Well Amy is coming over to get Basil so there will soon be one of those in the area and if one of the fellows’ metas has method subvert her even temporarily…yeah, and since there are contrivers on site including at least one magic type I could see demonic possession or control spell being a go for this. BTW I wonder how well does Lamarr’s hypnosis work on high end Psychics, if it works at all that is ?

        Another thing this talk about Gloomy makes me wonder: how would she deal with the Protector, we saw her sister deal with him quite handily but how would Gloomy do it if she can at all.

      • Gloomy wouldn’t be going for the kill, so…

        – keep-away shenanigans; teleporting him, or herself, around to avoid the confrontation

        – insubstantiality: just plain avoid his attacks

        – coupled with the above: his toughness comes from a force-field; slip through it with insubstantiality, deliver disabling shock

        – trap in twisted space/looped time/force-absorbing prison, etc

        – illusions to misdirect and manipulate him

        and… well, she can have almost any power there is, so the options are literally endless.

  4. Well another great update, I love it so the group got reunited and Osore was a boss while Gloomy was away…this guy’s really good, why can’t I stop thinking that the guy is hiding part of his power.

    It was also interesting to see how Vasiliki reacted when reunited with Basil and to see how Basil saw things, eh the guy has no clue about girls or how competent he appears to be to everyone else.

    Hmmm…Skulls power seems terrifying and she seems rather hard to deal with especially if she has other abilities on the top of her Hivemind power or if she can use it on other metahumans, which would beg the question if there truly are more than one enemy here as they could all be Skulls, which would explain why she takes time to go on about slights in front of enemies as she is in no real danger given there is more than one of her and that there is more of her elsewhere…Of course it seems more likely than there are multiple enemies here.(especially given the tags)mah they might be sure of themselves because they are on there own turf.

    Speaking of Skulls I do not remember anything about her being withered of wrinkled the last time she was mentioned, maybe a side effect of her power for some reason I am not sure that it would be a good thing that Amy faced Skulls as I could see Skulls get an in for Amy’s body if they do.

    Another interesting point is how Gloomy can apparently detect the Sleeper even if she doesn’t know it is the Sleeper, I would have thougt it would be invisible to her power, oh well…

    The point made here about Tyche’s power interfering with the Teleportation interdiction is interesting as it IS a credible idea so the question is why would Tyche’s power send her to Immanuel ? Might it be to make her aware of it’s workings so that down the line she might learn to control it and do things like divert the negative effects to the people she is fighting instead of random people she doesn’t like ? I must say that I had not even considered Tyche’s power being what sent her to Immanuel.

    The Dark knowing Skulls is also and having put a contract on her is also an interesting point, I wonder how long she has been around and how exactly her power works and if the XIII at the end of her name is because it’s a Legacy like the Ascendant and she is the Thirteenth as iniatially thought or if it indicates that her current”main” body is her thirteenth one(if she even has a real main body that is).

  5. But if their security team has a hive mind, why would they even need radios? Wouldn’t it make more sense to simple to pair everyone (who is not part of the hive mind) up with a skull-men?

    • Skullmen, other than the one that’s currently Skulls, aren’t able to communicate all that well.

      Easier for Skulls to just have a radio to talk through.

      • Hmmm…So they are more like drones following pre set orders than true extensions of the main mind.

        Interesting I wonder if including a Telepath would change that communication issue, that is if Metas can be subsumed in the collective.

        As for the Radios I thought they were just there to communicate with people that are not part of the Hivemind.

      • They’re a little more than just mindless drones, but that’s essentially correct.

        Skulls can only add baselines to the hive mind. Metahumans are immune.

      • Hmmm…be as it may Skulls’ power seems to be very very scary especially since I am sure there is more to it than just the hivemind thing I mean what with the main body being an adonis type(even though it seems to decay overtime given that there are signs of withering and all that weren’t present earlier)

        Ah so she can affect metahumans, well at least there’s that even though I thought that at least telepaths opening a connection to Skulls to do whatever might make him/herself vulnerable to said power.

        Incidently, given Skulls’ power or at least the part of it we are aware of explain why she is the most decorated officer.

        Now what I want to see is how Osore’s power will interact with the Skullmen and Skulls and on a sidenote I still say there is more to Osore’s power than he lets on.

  6. Just reread the Macian/Ember Arc and realized that the Dreamer might actually be a good guy…
    But I am not sure who would be the Lover and the “idol from an era long past” (Dunstkreis???)

    And is it confirmed that Weisswald is dead for good?

    Btw, really hope that they don’t find a cure in Dusus Lab. Macian/Brennus, GG, the Dreamer (assuming he teams up with Brennus) and the others breaking into the most heavily protected place on earth to meet Ember would be such an awesome chapter…
    These three should be more than enough to entirely annihilate the Protectorats defenses.

      • Damn. The Sleeper was the only person I could think of who has a power related to dreaming…
        The five lights in darkness are some of the few things I have no good Theorie for yet. (Three, if we assume that two are Macian and Ember)

        Still hope they have to bust their way into the Protectorat to get a cure though. A chap from the viewpoint of a guard/hero watching them break through defense after defense would be awesome (and probably hilarious).

      • I think Gloomy has mentioned before that she can’t enter the Protectorate (her power always teleports her away when she tries to get in) and without her, there’s no way they could break through the defenses.

        Remember, the Protectorate was created to keep out up to and including the Dark himself, should he come after Ember.

      • For me the Dreamer comes down to two candhdates. 1. Gilgul wio is literaly a dream. course Prisca is about to kick the bucket, so that might be a doomed theory. 2. Ember. who metaphorically dreams of a better tomarrow, plus i think he is currently channel surfing dimensions, and that is kind of like dreaming?

      • Gilgul ist a good idea… It would also match the glowing part if she is made from energy…
        Ember himself would probably be the Shaper (unbound from anything but imagination) cause he can more or less do anything he comes up with in his world. And I don’t think that he is channel surfing dimensions, it sound more like his power forces him to always see the souls/worlds of people around him/connected to him and feel their emotions. Some kind of sensory overload.

      • Brennus is still bound by time, resources, the laws of physics, etc. I’d always read Ember as the best fit for Shaper since he literally reshapes this world and others just by thinking about it.

      • I still won’t give up!
        I think that he would stand a reasonable chance. There are only two people on the planet who are capable of building forcefield, so that should give him quite an edge. And if some of his old friends from his Macian time help him (e.g. Twins?) He should have a reasonable chance to get quite far. I mean, according to Ember himself Macian is on the same level of power the Dark and Lady Light are. And if my dates are not entirely wrong he had like four years since he got out of the Six’s pocket dimension. He built a forcefield in five minutes. I am expecting orbital death lasers or something.
        And think about it, wouldn’t it be the perfect way to introduce himself as Macian? (Cause we know how much Macian loves exposition)

      • Ember does make a better Shaper, it is true. and Ansraer has some good poimts for Breamus, however in my experiance the more literal interpretations of profecies tend to be Red Herrings.

      • I normally try to avoid doing this, but here’s some hints:

        1. Ember is neither the shaper nor the dreamer.
        2. Figuring out who’s who (and not all the characters have shown up in-story yet) will be mostly guess-work until more about how powers work is explained – for example, Ember’s role is really obvious once you know how his power really works.
        3. One character who’s already been introduced has not yet assumed their “role” and so can’t be properly classified.
        4. Who sees each prophecy is as important as what they see.

      • …interesting.
        FYI, you just ruined about half of my more plausible theories. (Unless at least two people are revived or DiL suddenly becomes sane. Then some of them might still work)
        I am VERY much looking forward to the chapter when the whole Basil/Macian mess is finally cleared up. Shouldn’t be too far away now that he is using tech that has only ever been used by two other gadgeteers before. Let’s hope that at least some of my theories will be proven true.

      • I can’t make any promises, but that’s mostly because I’m not sure which of all the theories are specifically yours. Hard to keep track of everything, you know?

    • 1. awwww gosh dang it! 2. i keep forgdtting this is only the first book in a trilogy. no idea what Ember’s power really is. though i think his weakness is that physical/psychic contact allows others to manipulate their own worlds like him. 3. Freddy or Princess Charity? you did say you had plans for them=-). 4. self full filling prophecies? also does that meam if a person hasnt seen them they are automatically disqualified as candedates? 5. Lol my endgame theory is that thir is all just the crazed fever dreams of a overworked college student who should cut back on the LSD before bed.

      • 2. Fun thing is, this was meant to be just a short prologue to what has now become the 2nd book. It… grew in the telling, to quote one of the masters.
        3. Not telling 😛
        4. Not what I meant.
        5. Overworked? Check. College student? Check. LSD? Nope. I’ve tried drugs. They’re boring, so I don’t do them.

  7. Just caught up; and the narration, setting, pacing, and action of this story is incredible and more than rivals most of Web Serials.

    But there are two gripes I have that are just frankly glaring and plain confusing:
    You keep trying to glamorize villainy and then make it utterly abhorrent in the next chapter.
    Villains are supposed to have some unofficial truces with heroes to hold back and not immediately go for the kill shot, schemes are regulated to minimize civilian casualties, and the two factions often have to come together to ward off DiL, and the Dark and his organization take charge in bringing down villains that try to break this truce.

    Yet at the same time he did nothing to stop someone like Amy who killed numerous heroes and caused who-knows how much damage before being recruited. On the contrary she was challenged to kidnap and violate a well known and powerful hero.(I mean seriously, you need people like Amazon on hand at all times in case of DiL incidents.) And there’s the earlier example of Snow White having a reputation for killing any every hero that faced her. And the active slave market for metas that he apparently actively facilitates and funds.
    I can’t even being to imagine how Lady Light is able to ignore the active slavery she has to be aware of.

    And that brings me to my second gripe: Family members are not equipped to rehabilitate their violent criminal relatives. The guy in the silly suit can call it giving up or cowardly all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that Lady Light and Basil aren’t getting anywhere or changing anything, neither is anyone else in a similar situation.
    The Dark and Amy are doing exactly as you might expect; they brush off or just plain ignore the attempts to change them(Because their family members don’t have a clue as to how to actually rehabilitate a criminal) and continue to do whatever they want whenever they want and fear no real consequences.
    Amy and Basil’s relationship especially feels just like an excuse to keep the status quo; I thought he’d actual knuckle down on the issue and move out of his sister’s house and maybe become a legal hero, but no, he’s content to essentially do nothing and we get the occasional comment about him trying to talk to Amy and her ignoring him completely.

    And as for Irene’s and other peoples comments about The Dark supposedly keeping villains relatively tame and we should keep in mind that they could do worse:
    Villains are allowed to rape, kill, and/or enslave people(from regular civilians to high profile heroes)and there is in fact a active sex slave market that he also funds.
    You’ve made the common villains so irrevocably evil and destructive that the concept of “they could do worse” just sounds silly.

    • Stop, you’re going to make me blush with the praise! :$

      Actually, don’t stop, keep it coming.

      Thanks for the criticism. Always nice to have a big comment like this 🙂

      Now, if you’ll allow me a few comments of my own…

      – Considering how thoroughly Amy and Basil are mindfucked, I thought it was quite obvious that he has NO CHOICE about staying with her or not, or her a choice about changing herself. Every time they tried to talk, well… they black out, then come to without memory of the attempt.

      – Everything about what Amy herself does – same as above. What makes you think she has a choice?

      – Shan’t comment on Lady Light & the Dark’s relationship and reasonings

      – Gloomy is 12. Not saying she’s not able to assume moral responsibility, but I think it’s at least understandable that she’d be fond of her doting daddy, no?

      In general, I’ve not been trying to glorify crime. Quite the opposite. As you so rightly said, the villains in the setting can be really horrible. Short of the Dark (who’s at the top) and his closest lieutenants, they however also live quite horrible lives.

      Remember the Underbadgers? Look how they ended up. That’s the fate of most villains – one dead, the rest imprisoned; at least one of them (Foxfire) won’t be getting out, now that her family knows about her secret ID.

      – The Dark does NOT fund, support or tolerate the slave market. Panthera Rex threatening to sell Basil to Amy was just that – a threat, trying to bank on Amy’s reputation.

      – Basil does have reasons beyond mindfuckery not to be a UH or government hero; he doesn’t want to be a member of the junior heroes, with all the associated restrictions (keep in mind, again, that the only reason the junior heroes have been seeing so much action is because they’re technically at war at all but ONE of the local adult heroes are away). During the Crocell fight, you might remember that the only other teenage hero shown was Tick-Tock; the rest of their juniors were kept away from the battlefield.

      – Technically, the Dark did stop Amy, by recruiting her and putting her under the Syndicate’s control/restrictions. She hasn’t committed any murders or (pretend) rapes, at least of heroes or civilians. The sum total of her kills shown are Switchbitch and Redder, two villains who’d crossed WAY past the line.

      – No contest regarding family members not being able to rehabilitate family members. But as I said, Basil CAN’T move out or turn against her, Irene is very much denying reality when it comes to her daddy and Lady Light I will not comment on, as said.

      In general, I’m not sure where crime was really glorified, as such. Sure, the Dark has nice digs and loads of style, but then again, he’s at the top. His underlings rise and fall at his whims, and you see how he treated Kudzu for what was ultimately a minor failure that wasn’t even really his fault.

      Amy is, as I hope was shown, a deeply unhappy person, in more ways than one; the supervillain life certainly hasn’t done her any real good, beyond the momentary satisfaction of being able to lash out at will, and it’s pretty much destroyed her home life – what little of it she had. Or has it escaped your notice that Basil spends basically all his time that he’s not on patrol or at school in his lab?

      • -I thought it was said that he only blacks-out when he dwells on his past or the reason he keeps blacking-out. Didn’t know it extended that far.
        But if they have no choice; then why even play the villain angle? It doesn’t seem to really fulfill any purpose.
        Amy has apparently hurt or killed so many people now that it doesn’t really matter anymore.

        -The way Panthera Rex phrased it made it seem like he’d done it before. Mainly because he said Basil wouldn’t have been the first.

        -The other things I pointed out look like they’ll be fleshed out later.

      • Not sure what this says about me, but I took Basil and LL’s tolerance of villainous family members a bit differently.

        As Gloomy put it, LL is just a woman doing as she personally thinks is right. If that means ignoring someone that everyone else thinks is a monster? That’s her choice. She isn’t a slave to do other people’s bidding.

        Similarly, through scientific insight, Basil has the power to do pretty much whatever he wants. It just so so happens that whatever he wants includes being a basically decent person, but does not include putting his sister into a drugged coma in her sleep.

        The key thing is that we start from what the character wants to do, and then people can assign labels (like hero or villain) afterward. Doing it the other way around results in the one-dimensional characters that we’ve all seen a thousand times before.

        I’ve seen the “pure-hearted” hero enough times to find it boring. Between Worm and fanfics, I’ve seen enough dark “heroes” that are only in it for fame or other personal benefit.

        Basil? From my reading, it’s his conscience that is stopping him from putting down the psycho-rapist that happens to trust him. Think about that for a moment. Have you read anything where that would be an accurate description?

      • It would fit Basil, I think. No word on LL’s reasoning and all, but even without all the mindfuckery, Basil would likely not turn against his sister.

        The problem, I think, is that even without the whole mind manipulation aspect, good and evil are very much abstract things to most people. Not everyone is a moral absolutionist, after all.

        Amy’s crimes are distant, abstract. She’s done bad things – elsewhere, to others. Even if Basil himself is a decent person, even if he aspires to be a real hero, that’s not something that can easily outweigh the fact that she’s his sister.

        Not just his sister, but in fact, his only living family. The only person who knows the whole of him, who (as far as he remembers) has always been there. Who’s always been good to him, whom he trusts so much he has no reservations about letting her mess around inside his brain.

        In short, he loves her. Maybe more than he loves Prisca, certainly more than he loves Timothy, Vasiliki and Dahlia.

        That’s not rational. It may not be GOOD. But it’s very much TRUE.

        Even if I hadn’t written the mind-manipulation plot (though honestly, their situation would be VERY different without it), that, at least, wouldn’t change. Basil might try to redeem her. He might try to at least talk her out of the worst of it.

        But I think that, without a serious amount of either character development on his part, or Amy going way, way, WAY over the line in a much more visceral, personal way (such as using her powers to abuse his friends in some manner), he wouldn’t turn against her.

        Ultimately, Love is going to beat abstract considerations of good and evil, or justice, any time of the day and with one arm tied behind its back.

      • @Isa Lumitus

        “If that means ignoring someone that everyone else thinks is a monster?”
        You say it as if it’s some sort of debatable issue that he hasn’t both directly and indirectly caused most crime in the country.

        And she doesn’t ignore him anyway; she does get angry and when he does something blatant she sees fit to give some superficial punishment.
        But the fact that she’s not willing to go any further than that just makes her look weak willed.
        Also, putting aside personal feelings to better society as a whole is not an indication of being a “slave” to anyone. It just means you aren’t always at the whim of your emotions.

        “it’s his conscience that is stopping him from putting down the psycho-rapist that happens to trust him”
        This brings up another problem in the story: People like Amy or The Dark don’t act like they do in this story. It doesn’t matter to a violent psychopath whether or not your related to them; they’ll try to use or abuse pretty much anyone close to them.
        Yes, they’re still people and redeemable, but you wont find some magical person that suddenly flips off the very core of their personality.

      • “you wont find some magical person that suddenly flips off the very core of their personality.”
        What you’re missing is that there is no switch. The same worldview, thought processes, and emotions drive both sets of actions. One of the things the human brain is best at is dividing people into categories, and making excuses for why anything is justified when it’s done to enemy categories or for the benefit of your own category. That’s how slavery happened. That’s how genocide happens. That’s how millions of people who were always good and kind and courteous to each other all agreed for decades that racial segregation was a good thing and gays deserved to die. It’s nice to think that evil actions are only taken by Evil people who are totally and fundamentally different from nice good people like you, but that same thought process is what let most of history’s greatest monsters convince themselves that they were doing the right thing because they were a good person and the real monsters couldn’t act like they did.

        And in these specific cases? The first thing you have to remember is that the majority of Mindstar’s crimes *never actually happened*. No matter what the memories of her victims, her partners, and herself say, Amy is still a virgin. And she’s definitely killed people, but the only murders that there’s actually any evidence of were all self defense or defense of her loved ones. All her actions make sense when you think of her as a little girl who has spent the past few years forced by an as-yet unknown entity to *pretend* to be one of the worst monsters in the setting.

        And The Dark. Is he a pragmatic anti-hero who believes that the best way to help people is to create an intimidating presence to scare minor villains while putting the worst of the manageable monsters on a short leash and eliminating major threats under the guise of defending his business interests? Does he genuinely care about a tiny minority of people but consider 99.9% of humanity to be worthless except as resources to be burned for the benefit of those who matter? Is he utterly self serving, but intelligent enough to know the value of good PR and far-sighted enough to sacrifice short term gain for greater long term benefit? We don’t know. Probably nobody does except for him. All the evidence we’ve seen so far applies equally to every one of these explanations.

      • @Malik

        You completely missed the point. Just because a lot of people in-universe think that LL is a superhero does not mean that she is required to live up to every heroic trope. Especially when you recall that, per Irene, Lady Light does not think of herself as a superhero.

        That is the key. LL is just a woman, who has enough power to put her beyond all consequences for her actions. Try judging her by that standard instead.

        If an author starts with a role, like superhero, and then tailors a character to fit it, he creates a bland, done-to-death cardboard cutout. My overall point was that I think Ties started from what characters wanted, creating ones that are actually interesting. And that the… controversial (in)actions of the characters is part of the draw.

        “People like Amy or The Dark don’t act like they do in this story. It doesn’t matter to a violent psychopath whether or not your related to them; they’ll try to use or abuse pretty much anyone close to them.” So you’re saying that people like Amy and The Dark don’t act like Amy or The Dark? Gee, it’s almost like I’m reading about people that don’t exist.

        Regardless, the point here wasn’t to support Amy, it was to emphasize that Basil’s situation is more complicated than a Saturday morning cartoon. He’s not ignoring Amy’s villainy because he’s secretly evil. Leaving out the mindrape, he thinks he’s ignoring Amy’s villainy because he would feel guilty if he turned on her.

        So, to make the point obvious: The morally questionable characters make this story interesting.

        /Whiteknight

      • This. I never start by saying “I need a superhero, let’s make a character that’s a superhero”.

        Lady Light and the Dark existed as personalities long before I decided to make them lady light and the dark. The mantles came later.

        Also, I’d like to point out that NO ONE BUT ME knows these characters yet. You’ve barely gotten a glimpse into what OTHER people think about the Dark – his own viewpoints have been deliberately sparse on his actual thought process and motivations – and pretty much NOTHING about Gwen, other than what her daughter (who has every reason to only know and see the best of her) thinks about her.

        I truly think – and strive to achieve – that, once their personalities, backgrounds and reasonings are revealed, all their actions will make sense. If not, then that’s a failure on my part, as a writer.

        But until those revelations come about, I’d argue that there’s really no way for you guys and gals to properly judge the morality or reasonableness of their actions and non-actions.

        Though I certainly don’t mind if you keep sharing your opinions so far on them 🙂

      • @Sindriblog
        “That’s how millions of people who were always good and kind and courteous to each other all agreed for decades that racial segregation was a good thing and gays deserved to die.”

        That’s never been the case. The people that inact or promote that level of hatred are usually groups with a lot of power and influence in a given society.
        If it was in the millions than America and Europe would have had more than several Hitler level genocides in it’s history.
        Can you imagine how much worse things would have been if the average German citizen had been just as zealous as the ones running the death camps?

        Also, there is no indication that the current mental problems affects Amy’s decision making; she knows what she’s doing.

        @Isa Lumiths
        “who has enough power to put her beyond all consequences for her actions”
        Except she doesn’t.
        DiL being one of the most prominent physical and mental threat/consequence of her actions.
        She might be physically tough, but her actions can still have negative affects on the world and people around her.

        ” Gee, it’s almost like I’m reading about people that don’t exist.”
        I’m just saying that their personality type is being shown in a rather idealized light.

        And I never said Basil was evil for not turning Amy in. I just said that his reasoning for doing so is both morally and logically weak. Particularly in that conversation he has with that billionaire; the logic he uses basically means that people with family members shouldn’t be arrested ever.

      • A few points I want to make…

        1) Basil’s rationale IS weak, on both a moral and logical plane. It’s almost like… he’s making excuses so he doesn’t have to turn against his sole family member. That is rather the point of rationalisation.

        2) Regarding the whole morality thing… oh God, I love it and I hate it. I’m always very suspicious when morality discussions start up, because they tend to get out of hand and devolve into name-calling and the like. Gotta give props to you guys and gals, this has remained remarkably civil, going by my experience. Cudos.

        3) I’m not entirely sure how DiL is relevant to any morality discussion. I’ve stated before that Lady Light had no knowledge, not even the tiniest suspicion, that what happened to her child would happen, or that it even could. It was beyond her influence entirely. Nor does she have the means or the knowledge to kill or otherwise stop DiL. As far as any morality is concerned, I think DiL is just a natural disaster? Or am I missing something?

        4) Amy-as-Mindstar is evil. I’m pretty sure I’ve made that clear. I never intended to sugarcoat it, only to show how she deliberately acts her best when around Basil for the express purpose of not driving him off. And since Basil is the main viewpoint character, you of course have only seen a highly idealised version of her personality – almost as if, you know, the person looking at her wants to only see the best in her.

        5) As for the Dark, a similar argument applies. His main appearances have been either through Gloomy’s viewpoint (she adores her daddy and she’s immature enough to plain ignore rational morality) and Aap’s – who refused to so much as talk to his father for over twenty years, until he absolutely had no choice other than to either talk to him, or risk a monster he doesn’t know getting a hold of his daughter. Keep in mind that before he even got close to revealing his offspring to the Dark, he made him swear, in no uncertain terms, that he would not interact with them AT ALL without first consulting Aap. That is the extent that his own son – one of the people he treats best in the world – trusts him. And even with that oath, he still was majorly wary of him, watching their every interaction and hugely uncomfortable with it. Is that really so idealised a depiction of him, when his own child considers him so… untrustworthy?

      • @Malik
        What I meant by LL being beyond all consequences for her actions might have been a bit too poetic on my part. I meant that if any particular government wanted to punish LL for her actions, they probably don’t have the power to do so. It’s not absolute power, but I find it impressive that the only ‘corruption’ we’ve seen out of her is that she sleeps with a supervillain instead of helping to arrest him.

        If LL actively interfered with attempts to arrest The Dark, rather than simply standing aside, I’d find her a good deal more questionable.

      • 1. Magnus(the billionair) is an arrogant dumbass. who doesnt know what he is talking about. 2. Basil is despperate not to turn on his sister and so jumped at the first solutiom that would seem to solve his two conflicting maral delimas. 3. Amy’s evilness is only debatable if the mindfuckery took all choice from her. 4. whether it was physical or pure mental rape will not matter even slightjy to her victims. 5. Both LL and The Dark have shown that they are believers in the end justifying the means, which is a memtality that has led to some of the worst atrocities in history. 6. DIL was an unfortunate accident, however GG was not and they did it fully aware of the possible consequences, while only HOPING their solution would work. 7. From what both Ember and Prisca say the “solutiom” is hurting GG. 8. Morality is difficult to attach absolute good or absoltte evil to cause there are so many vectors for it, most of the time it is people just trying to do the best they can fnr their loved ones, and it is history or current society that determins good or evil. 9. Evil for me is a functinnal fully aware person physically or menttally abushng or kiling another living creature for pleasure either for themself or for another.

      • I’m not sure what #7 refers to?

        You shouldn’t judge Magnus yet. After all, you don’t know what his agenda is, yet. Perhaps he really does know what he’S talking about, and it makes perfect sense if you know what he intends to achieve.

        the bit about Basil is absolutely true.

        #4 is correct, though there is another aspect that you haven’t considered

        #5 The Dark seems to hold that attitude, but how do you know LL does? You haven’T seen a thing of her yet, other than the chat she had with Gloomy over IM

        #6 There’s more to Gloomy’s birth than you know. Just saying, it wasn’t unreasonable from where they stood

        #8 I don’t fully agree on that. Morality is not as fluid as you make it seem, imho. But I don’t have the time to explain that yet, maybe next time.

      • #7 refers to Prisca’s description of GG’s world as wrong in some manner durhng her manifestatiom. Ember also described a world like that though he did not know who it applied to. i made the assumption that it is GG’s pills caushng the wrongmess. as for Magnus your riight, but i really, really, REALLY disagree with what he said. awesome name though. #4 care to enlighten? the only way i see Amy as being morally clean is if her victims dont actually exist either, though with Amazom that seems likd an unlikely theory. #5. first Zero Point, this is shaky cause we dont know the actual intention. but a lot of bad shit resulted so they could say they were right and stick it to those who looked down on then. secoundly The Dark described her actions in WWI as ruthless i.e. dropping a grenade on a bunch of enemy wounded and third she allows The Dark to kill children for the greater good. #6 if they did it in the hopes of combating DIL i think that makes it worse and adds to my points for #5. #8. yes of course individual idealsm is one of the mrality vectors.;)

      • Iirc the Dark mentioned explicitely that he kept his “preemptive threat elemination” a secret from her because he knew she wouldn’t stand for it.

        And before anyone says “why hasn’t she noticed yet”, please do remember that the world is HUGE, children die OFTEN and there’s only very, very, very few of those bad enough for the Dark to decide they must die, yet slow enough for him to be the first to intervene. He’s killed less than a dozen, total. So, not exactly something that’s likely to be noticed, especially considering how versatile and sneaky his power – and the guy himself – can be.

        I wasn’t referring to Amy being somehow morally clean, just pointing out that just the fact that both her victims AND herself remember it to be true suggest that there’s more going on than her just being an evil bitch.

        WWI is generally considered to be the worst war in history. Ever. And that’s in real life, which still applied to the brennusverse at that time. I’m not saying that absolves her or anyone else of responsibility for what they did during it, but… bad shit happened. And it’s haunted her (and the Dark) ever since.

      • @tieshaunn

        I was referring to DiL as an example of LL not being beyond the consequences of her actions.

        Also, It might have been better if Basil just stuck to his original reasons: The local hero’s currently don’t have the time or resources to deal with a threat like her and staying around Amy to keep her relatively well behaved.
        This gives Basil a better reasoning for facing the problem long term.(Assuming the war is going to last long.)

        The talk with the millionaire didn’t seem really necessary.

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