B13.17 Call of the Sleeper

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Wh- what… what’s going on? Amy’s thoughts intruded into their minds once more, sounding weaker, more quiet than before, while her body stirred, groaning in pain. I feel like I got punched by God. After he took steroids for like, four thousand years.

Basil didn’t know how to reply, too focused on the standoff in front of him and so stayed quiet. The others didn’t seem to be in any better shape, staring at the new arrival.

Who the fuck is that? Amy asked in a groggy voice.

I have no idea, but he just saved Heck’s life, so I like him, Tyche replied, sounding greatly relieved.

That’s – ow – Journeyman! Polymnia told them excitedly, in between taking shots in the back. Gloomy – ow – told me – ow – about him!

Amy looked at her, and reached out with her right arm, causing the next shot to rebound off a force-field appearing above Polymnia’s back. And the next. And the next.

Thanks! Polymnia said earnestly, moaning in relief.

Thank me by telling us who this guy is supposed to be. Can he actually save our posteriors from that bitch? Amy shot back sharply.

I really dunno. Gloomy’s said he’s like, crazy-powerful, and a friend of her parents. Well, mostly of her mom. Anyway, I don’t actually know what his power really is, other than that he can ‘go anywhere’ and that no one’s ever actually put the hurt on him, Polymnia elaborated at the speed of thought, sharing it all before either the Ascendant, Elysium or ‘Journeyman’ acted at all.

“Who are you?” the Ascendant hissed at the stranger, clearly put off by his sudden appearance and ability to so casually block Elysium’s attack.

“I am a special news bulletin that interrupts your favourite show,” he replied.

“Huh?” said at least half a dozen people.

He sighed. “No one appreciates the classics anymore.” With a light tap of his foot, he caused Elysium to stumble back a step. Putting his foot down next to Hecate’s shoulder, he lightly tapped her with his heel, causing her to slide away until she reached Tyche and Spellgun. “Now, what do I do with you?” he directed his question at the empty-eyed blonde.

That question seemed to shake the Ascendant out of her state of surprised shock. Clenching her fists, she barked a new order: “Four-four-four, designate the person in front of you as Priority Target Lambda. Eliminate him!”

Elysium twitched, briefly, as Journeyman seemed to be content to simply watch with an air of polite curiosity about him; then she performed a high kick, seemingly at his head and he, predictably, did nothing to defend himself.

Basil recognised the move as soon as it began, and wanted to cry out a warning, but it was too late – the loop snapped shut, trapping Journeyman in the same motion of stroking Graymalkin’s ears. Trapping his freaking cat along with him.

The Ascendant breathed a relieved sigh, taking a step back as she relaxed. “Pfff. Not a problem after all. Just a delay.”

Journeyman flickered, reversing to his previous motion. Then there was another flicker, and then – a shift. His form twitched, as it was reversed, a second Journeyman overlapping the other, like an after-image only this one moved at the same time in a different way, not the same way at a later time, moving briefly as if it was straining against something.

The effect around him broke, popping like a soap bubble.

“A time loop? Really?” he asked, incredulous. “Maybe I do need to be a little more public, so people stop trying the same, tired old tricks against me,” he complained to the cat on his arm. “What do you think, pal?”

The cat looked up at him with a bored expression and opened its mouth in a huge yawn.

Elysium kicked him, her foot preceded by a slight distortion in the air, only to hit his left biceps to absolutely no effect – she didn’t even budge him, much less cut him apart.

“You’re absolutely right,” he said to Graymalkin. “Totally not worth the trouble. Anyway, best to focus on the situation at hand.” He looked up, at the same time as he turned aside. The one looking up crossed eyes with Elysium, stepping forward and making her take a step back as she tried to process what was happening, while the other one, still holding Graymalkin, walked over to Basil. “Go join your friends,” he told him, tapping him with a foot.

Basil found himself sliding over to where Hecate, Tyche and Spellgun – all three of them still quite thoroughly hurt, but not in any immediate danger.

At the same time, the other Journeyman and Elysium moved.

He struck at her from the right with his hand open, the fingers curled, which she blocked by raising her left arm, followed by a kick from the opposite side, aiming for his side. Journeyman used his left arm, pushing his elbow under her leg, then pushing up, deflecting her kick in a motion that would have unbalanced a lesser fighter.

Either due to her power, or else simply due to sheer skill – the original Elysium had been a master martial artist – the young woman managed to not only avoid that, but use it to her advantage, flipping backwards in a smooth motion that brought her heel up to strike at his chin; yet Journeyman was already moving to dodge it, leaning back just enough to make it miss him by a hair’s breadth.

Elysium landed on her back, and flipped back up onto her feet, just in time to see Journeyman’s fist fly at her chest and reacted by crossing her arms, blocking the blow – but it was still powerful enough to launch her backwards, a grunt escaping her lips as the air was forced out of her lungs.

Journeyman stepped forth to press the attack while she rolled back onto her feet, but was intercepted by a glowing twin spiral of green fire, emerging from thin air between him and Elysium.

The attack splashed uselessly against his chest, where before it had very nearly broken Amy’s defenses entirely, failing to so much as make him flinch, much less slow him down at all.

“Pilfering’s always a pain in the behind,” the Journeyman holding Graymalkin said as he appeared next to Basil, grabbing him by the elbow to help him stand. He didn’t seem bothered by his weight at all.

The ground underneath the other Journeyman’s feet turned soft and malleable, causing him to sink in down to his knees, then hardened again.

“How’d she do that?” Tyche asked, her voice strained, before she started coughing hard.

“Pilfering rejected timelines,” Journeyman explained as they watched his other self get hammered aside by the very same telekinetic blast Amy had used earlier, only magnified many times, hitting him so hard he actually broke out of the floor and tumbled for several metre. “She can rewind time up to the point she started using her power, over and over. That’s why she knew all your moves in advance – she’d played the same fight out dozens of times, before she moved on to the final iteration. I assume she only looped Gloomy during the final one, as well – allowing her to perform a multitude of various attacks that she can now access, repeating them as necessary,”

As if to illustrate his point, several hundred softball-sized spheres, in all colours of the rainbow, appeared out of nowhere, filling up the twisted, shifting tower’s floor all around, followed by a black sphere that shot at the prone Journeyman, impacting him with the force of a cannonball – except that was nothing compared to what followed, as every single of the rainbow-coloured spheres suddenly moved, impacting him with such tremendous force, the shockwave bowled Basil over again, pushing him and the other heroes away by several metre.

The Journeyman hit by the attack disappeared in a cloud of dust, while the one who’d just stood by Basil remained still, unperturbed by what may have been his other self’s demise – the shockwave barely stirred his robe, at that.

“I wasn’t there myself,” he continued on in a conversational tone of voice as he turned around and casually walked towards Basil again. “But I guess that’s how she fought Bree. She kept pilfering attacks from everyone even tangentially involved in the defense of Old Lennston, including, I assume, Bree’s own attacks.” He reached down with his free hand, helping Basil up once more. “She couldn’t affect her directly, see, but she could replay the powers she was using.”

Elysium took a step back, away from the dust cloud, half-turning to look at the heroes, who were quite bunched up by now.

And then a grey-blue streak shot out of the cover of dust, resolving into the shape of Journeyman as he came to a halt behind her, arm raised.

His blow smashed her into the ground, face-first, and splattered blood, brain-matter and bits of bone all the way over to Basil’s feet.

Her remains flickered and she whirled around in a graceful pirouette which ended with her foot buried Journeyman’s stomach, another hammer-blow as before – to no effect.

Unharmed by both the earlier assault with the rainbow spheres and the powerful kick, Journeyman reached for her face with his left hand, his hand nearly closing over it, but she blinked away, reappearing a few steps away from him, while another burst of telekinetic force went off where she’d just stood, magnified many times over its original strength.

While the same attack had previously blown him away, and was still powerful enough to shatter the ground for almost ten metre around him, it had absolutely no effect whatsoever on Journeyman himself, other than making his robe flutter about.

He took a step towards her, crossing far more space than he ought to, and backhanded her head, decapitating her.

Her headless body fell over, blood spurting out of her neck.

She flickered, whole again, and lifted her feet even as she fell, putting them to his chest and kicking off to put some distance between them, sliding across the ground…

His foot came down on her head, crushing it to a pulp. Basil didn’t even see him move.

Elysium’s headless corpse flickered and disappeared, before she reappared near the Ascendant, looking both unharmed and unperturbed – not that Basil thought she really could feel worried, as she was now.

“Here, hold this will you?” Journeyman spoke to him, holding out Graymalkin, who was looking at him with bored eyes.

“Oh, certainly,” he replied and took his cat. “Long time no see, Graymalkin,” he greeted his cat, who responded by purring softly and deigning to pat his chest with one of his furry paws in a show of affection.

“Graymalkin? You know him?” Journeyman asked, surprised, as he looked closer at Basil and the cat, the images on his mask shifting to show… Basil, and Graymalkin, back in his home. “Talk about coincidence. Or perhaps it’s fate?” Journeyman sounded amused. “I found him in Esperanza City, during the Crocell attack,” he answered Basil’s question before he could even ask him. “Well, we can talk more about that later, I’ve g-“

Everything distorted, briefly, a strange sensation, like vertigo but not quite the same, coming over Basil as black spots appeared in his vision.

Then it was gone.

Polymnia growned and threw up, nearby, and Basil very nearly followed suit – only the fact that he hadn’t eaten in a while saved him from that fate. The others looked nauseous but not nearly as bad as he felt, when he looked around at them.

“Ah-ah-ah!” the other Journeyman admonished Elysium, wagging a finger at her. “I can’t keep you from rewinding yourself, but there’ll be no general rewind while I’m around, young lady!”

“What the fuck are you?” the Ascendant whispered, staring at him in fear as she hid behind her creation.

“I already told you,” he replied off-handedly. “I am the fingernail that scrapes the blackboard of your soul.”

The candles kept turning around them for a few heartbeats.

“That’s not an answer!” she shouted in outrage. “And it’s a different one from the one you gave before!”

He lowered his head, making a truly long-suffering sigh. “No appreciation for real art, at all,” he complained to no one in particular, both of his selfs speaking in synch with each other. The one who’d been holding Graymalkin walked up to the fighting one and simply stepped into him, fusing into one.

“Well, this was fun and all, but it’s time to put an end to this,” he said to Elysium. “I don’t know whether you’re the real Elysium or just a doll with her powers, but either way, I’d rather not allow the Gefährten to have access to powers like yours.” He cracked his knuckles, before he took a step forward with his left foot, entering a loose fighting stance.

“Four-four-four, go all out and kill him!” the Ascendant shouted at her slave, hurrying to step back and give her some space.

Elysium spread her arms wide, beginning a new dance, moving her shoulders and hips in hypnotic motions, causing dozens, then scores of distortions, none larger than a medicine ball, to appear in the air around her.

Each of them unleashed a different attack, from explosions to beams to streams of liquid, but they didn’t fire at Journeyman. Instead, all the attacks – even the explosions, which ranged from Amy’s force explosion to sudden, explosive growths of pink crystals – were twisted and gathered into a single spot in front of her, condensed into a jet-black sphere the size of a peach.

Journeyman tilted his head to the side, as if confused, before the sphere burst, unleashing a torrent of scores of interwoven effects, a beam broader than Basil was tall.

A beam that was flying towards Journeyman, and the heroes that stood a good deal behind him, yet still within easy reach of the massive attack.

***

“Now!” Immanuel shouted and leapt into the distorted space that made up the ‘walls’ of this tower, leaving Heaven’s Dancer – who, even in an expendable body, was not going to leap into that unless absolutely necessary – behind outside of it.

He closed his eyes as he traversed the space, knowing that it’d just give him an even greater sense of vertigo than he was already experiencing as his simple leap – barely enough to clear two metre of distance – moved him through the entire structure, taking advantage of the distortions like one would of river currents, depositing him just a metre or so behind the Ascendant, just as Elysium’s distortions appeared in the air, obscuring him from everyone’s sight.

Immanuel didn’t know how the stranger was going to react to the attack that was coming, if he even could, but he had a hunch that he could counter it. In fact, he hoped that he did, otherwise they’d lose everyone but Gloom Glimmer to this, and wouldn’t that be a waste?

He reached the Ascendant, grabbing her by the elbow, and kept running, pulling the startled woman along as he reached for the doll, his hand coming down on her shoulder.

***

Journeyman countered the massive blast in the most simple manner Basil could have imagined there, other than just standing still and taking it.

He punched it.

Except, ‘punched’ didn’t really cover it. Not by several orders of magnitude. He moved no faster than a normal person, struck with no more weight to his punch than one would expect of a man of his size, timing it so the beam and his fist met each other at the apex of his strike.

The blow caused such a massive shockwave it shattered the ground around him, spiderwebs of cracks spreading all the way to the twisted walls and up. The shockwave utterly blew Elysium’s interwoven super-beam apart, revealing – nothing behind it.

Elysium and the Ascendant were gone.

The shockwave moved on and utterly destroyed the far ‘wall’ of the structure, causing an ear-splitting cacophony as blew a building-sized hole through several dozen layers of materials.

Sunlight flooded the spatially twisted structure, moments before a lesser shockwave hit Basil and the other heroes; though not so strong it’d blow him over easily, he still had to brace himself against it, turning his shoulder into it so as to shield Graymalkin.

When the squalls died down and he looked up, he briefly felt a sense of vertigo again, if for a different reason than before.

Whether it was an effect of Journeyman’s strike, or due to Elysium fleeing, the tower she’d built had… flowed back, for lack of a better term.

Since the tower had been made of multiple parts of the structure layered together and condensed, this meant that the damage he’d done to seemingly just one wall was now spread out all throughout the Northern half of the structure – perhaps the Southern half, as well, but Basil couldn’t tell from where he stood.

He and the others were staring out through a colossal hole, as the entire Southern side of the lab complex was gone, along with part of its roof. A trail of utter destruction snaked its way through the visible buildings and connecting walkways, all the way to the central tower, which had been nearly split in half, a huge, irregular crack running from its base up to its tip.

“What,” Spellgun and Tyche said in unison. The others didn’t even say that much.

Graymalkin yawned and slapped Basil’s chest with his tail, so he used his free hand to scratch him behind the ears, making him purr happily.

Journeyman looked at what he’d wrought for a few moments – or perhaps he was just looking at where his foes had just stood – then he turned away and walked to the bubble of looped time containing Gloom Glimmer.

“Soft hearts,” he grumbled, barely audible over the distance. “Must run in the family.”

“Can you help her?” a desperate-sounding Polymnia asked him, stumbling closer, her wrecked power armour screeching its protests against the motion. She hadn’t even bothered to wipe her mouth clean, and there were some remnants of her rainbow yawn on her collar and chestpiece, as well, at stark odds to her cheerily multi-coloured, colour-shifting hair.

“Oh, sure, sure,” he mollified her. “I’m something of an expert when it comes to weird temporal effects.” With no further ado, he reached into the bubble of looped time and grabbed Gloom Glimmer by the collar, simply pulling her out and causing the bubble to pop, disappearing.

Gloom Glimmer flailed around in confusion, until he lifted her up by her collar, holding her like a naughty puppy so her head was on a height with his, facing his mirrored mask.

“J-journeyman!” she squealed in surprise. “What, how, who… Diantha! Diantha was here! Where is she!?” She looked around wildly, then suddenly went limp. “Oh. She got away.”

“Worry about yourself for once, will you?” he told her, sounding fondly annoyed. “If you’d been paying attention, then you could’ve at least dodged that attack.”

“Journeyman, that was Diantha!” she whimpered, her hands clenching into fists. “Mom still… we have to catch up to her! Take her to mom! Please, you’ve got to help me!” she begged, sounding far younger than usual as she looked at him with big, shiny, wet eyes, her lips trembling.

“Spare me the puppy dog eyes,” he replied, though he did rather pointedly look away before dropping her. “You’re not going after anyone right now, other than whom you came here for.”

Gloom Glimmer looked up at him, looking shocked and betrayed, but didn’t get a chance to voice either before Polymnia fell to her knees behind her and wrapped her arms around her friend’s arms and chest, pulling her tight against her hard armour.

“You frwskung idior, you scaeed the carp out of me!” she wailed, her control over her vocoder slipping, distoring her voice.

“Mel- Poly, what, what happened!?” Gloom Glimmer cried out softly, clearly able to sense the damage her friend had suffered in some way.

“After she looped you,” Basil explained, having approached with Graymalkin in his arm. “Elysium kicked our collective posteriors.”

The others approached right after him, including an incredibly ashamed looking Bakeneko, who’d shrunk down to two thirds her usual height, with lusterless fur, hugging herself with her shoulders hunched. Osore stood next to her, the shirt he customarily wore underneath his jacket – his only real costume was his Oni-styled mask, even now – stained with blood and sporting a big hole, though he seemed to have recovered entirely from the gut shot he’d taken earlier.

“Oh God, let me-” Gloom Glimmer rose up, her hands glowing, and touched Polymnia and Osore first, the glow spreading from where she touched and over their forms, visibly repairing any damage to their bodies and their equipment, then did the same for everyone else.

Basil felt her power course through his body, fixing the bruises he’d accumulated over the last two hours, as well as the damage to his knee and his armour there. Even his fatigue disappeared – or at least, the physical part of it.

Soon enough, Gloom Glimmer had fixed them all; while they were all still quite tired, they weren’t hurt anymore. She even fixed Polymnia’s ruined equipment.

“Hey, what about that badass drone of yours?” Tyche asked Basil, when it didn’t look like he was going to let her put it back together.

“The pieces were in the path of Journeyman’s and Elysium’s attacks,” Basil replied regretfully. “I doubt there is enough left to fill a thimble.”

”Sorry about that,” Journeyman apologised. “I didn’t even think about retrieving it first.”

Basil waved it off. “Hardly a reason to apologise. You saved us. Losing just a drone to Elysium is an amazingly lenient outcome, all things considered.”

Tyche gave him a sympathetic look, and Polymnia even more so, though he honestly didn’t feel all that bothered by it… compared to everything else that had already happened and was still going to happen, losing a drone, no matter how sophisticated, was nothing at all.

“You should go after Dusu,” Journeyman told them, interrupting Basil’s increasingly morose train of thought by pointing towards the door they’d originally come in through. It was a mangled, broken mess now, revealing another heavy blast door on the opposite side of the hallway. “She’s in there, along with Syrinx.”

”And our blood,” Basil added, drawing startled looks from half the occupants of the room. “They drew some of my blood, earlier. And they had three other syringes, all filled with blood, when they left.”

“That can’t possibly be good,” Spellgun muttered, before he spoke up louder. “Dusu’s a bio-gadgeteer. There’s no telling what she could do with blood from us… especially since they seem to like cloning, or whatever these things are supposed to do.” He gestured at the numerous sarcophagus-like tanks strewn about the laboratory. Most of them had been destroyed by Journeyman’s attack, but there were still some left s tanding. Not to mention several bodies (or body parts) strewn about.

“Hrm, right, those,” Journeyman grumbled, raising a hand. He snapped his fingers, and all the remaining tanks in the room instantly heated up red-hot, melting into slag. The bodies that’d been strewn about by the earlier devastation were also incinerated, reduced to ashes.

Basil and the others stared at the casual display, feeling the heat wash over them. Graymalkin mewled in Basil’s arms, the only one present to enjoy the extra warmth.

”Uh, yeah, I think with you along, this won’t be a problem anymore, Mister Journeyman, Sir,” Tyche said in a small, respectful voice.

He shook his head in response. “I won’t be coming with you, I’m afraid,” he replied, sounding guilty. “I’m afraid my assistance ends here. I’m sorry.”

Both Tartsche, Hecate and Tyche opened their mouths to respond to that, but Gloom Glimmer spoke up first.

”It’s about that backlash you sometimes talk about, right?” she asked in a small voice. “You overused your power, or something.”

He looked down at her – even floating five centimetre off the ground, she was easily a head shorter than he was, and he stood firmly on the ground, with flat boots and a relaxed posture. His mask was a riot of reflections, moving too fast to be made out in any detail, until they settled on a simple, shifting pattern of glowing white circles moving across the mirror, reflecting only what he saw in front of himself.

”Kind of,” he replied, his voice just a little sad. “Suffice it to say, as much as I’d like to help you all more, I can’t do so, right now.” He sighed, sounding incredibly frustrated. “Power like mine comes with its caveats.”

“But… Diantha…” Gloom Glimmer whispered, her hands clenching around her cape, drawing it closer around her body.

“Can you sense her, Irene?” he inquired softly. When she shook her head, he continued, “Neither can I, right now. I’m not all-powerful, and neither are you. We could try, you and I – but it’d mean allowing Dusu to get away, all for the chance that we might locate that clone, or whatever it may be,” he explained calmly.

Though he was being nothing but gentle, she still shrank with every word, hunching her shoulders and looking so miserable, Polymnia stepped up and wrapped her arms around her, drawing her in tight.

“Even if we found her, it’s unlikely we could easily subdue her,” he pressed on in that same, gentle, even tone of voice. “You’re nowhere near the point where you could face someone as powerful as your sister and I… am limited in other ways.” He shook his head. “No, you must finish what you began. Dusu is near. Go.” He gestured towards the door.

“Come,” Polymnia spoke to her friend, turning her away from Journeyman.

The others looked at the two girls, then at the tall, strange man who’d just saved them. He was just standing there, his hands clasped behind his back, facing in their direction, though with his mask, it was impossible to tell whether he was actually looking at them.

Amy stepped forward, making all the junior heroes tense up as she walked to stand in front of Journeyman, her hands on her hips. Even in those ridiculous heels, she was still shorter than he was – and she wasn’t a short woman even without them.

“Thank you, for the save,” she said, sounding oddly subdued.

”You’re quite welcome, Amy,” he replied softly, making her flinch. “Yes, I know you. No, you don’t know me. No, telepathy doesn’t really work on me at all.”

She blushed, even as she took half a step back. “Who are you? How come I’ve never heard of someone like… like…” She gestured at the devastation he’d caused to the floating city.

He shrugged. “I guess I’m just shy,” he quipped casually.

“Yeah, right,” she snorted softly. “Well, either way, I owe you big time. So if there’s anything I can do for you, just say the word,” she finished with a smile.

Is she… flirting with him? Basil shuddered at the thought, even as he noted Hecate’s hand clenching tightly on her staff, staring at the two of them; her jaw, the only visible part of her face, was set into a tight frown.

“There is, indeed, something you can do for me,” Journeyman replied, leaning in closer.

“Oh yeah? Say the word, big guy,” she grinned, looking curious.

”You could…” he began, almost whispering as he leaned even closer, until his face was next to her ear. “Stop being a villain.”

Hecate sputtered when she heard that, nearly dropping her staff.

Her grin faded, replaced first by confusion, then annoyance, as she stepped back.

”I can’t do that,” she hissed at him, looking like he’d insulted her. “Don’t make impossible requests.”

”Impossible?” He seemed quite amused. “All I’m asking is that you be yourself.”

”I am myself!” She turned around, stalking away from him. “Weirdo.”

Journeyman remained in the same position, as if she still stood where she had. “No, you’re not,” he spoke quietly, barely audible. Yet it still made her stop. “You’re many things, Amanda, but you’re not yourself.”

He shrugged and turned around, while Amy just stared at him, slackjawed.

”It doesn’t matter,” he concluded, making a dismissive gesture. “All masks fall, eventually.”

He stepped over to Basil and reached for Graymalkin, scratching the huge cat behind the ears. “Goodbye, big guy. It was a pleasure travelling with you.” He raised his head, looking at Basil, who was quite certain that this strange man could see right through his mask. “Go. Bring an end to this.”

Basil nodded, numbly, finding himself rather unable to say anything meaningful. So instead, he turned around and walked towards the door, overtaking Polymnia and Gloom Glimmer.

Amy scrambled to catch up to him, before she remembered that she could fly and lifted off the ground, and the others finally turned away from Journeyman, to follow along, all save for Hecate.

”Yes, dear?” he asked her in a friendly tone of voice, speaking with only a handful of them at once now.

She took a short breath, and bowed deeply. “Thank you, Sir.”

“It was my pleasure,” he replied with a magnanimous nod.

The others who hadn’t yet scrambled to thank him, as well, following her example, save for Basil, who found himself in a strangely pensive mood, and Polymnia, who was focused on Gloom Glimmer.

While he waited on them to finish, Basil recalled his last raven, which had been drawn into the shifting space of Elysium’s tower, and had only now found its way back to him. With its fake feathers ruffled and quite a lot of scratches all over, it looked kind of… outraged, as it landed on his shoulder, as if even the tiny machine was getting fed up with things.

Graymalkin looked up at it, sniffing the air with a hungry look in his eyes, but was apparently able to tell it wasn’t edible – he sneezed, looking even more annoyed than usual as he dismissed the mechanical bird and looked away again.

Finally, they gathered together again (though Amy kept a certain distance from Basil, throwing rather fearful looks at the cat in his arms) and made their way towards Dusu’s lab, leaving the strange, powerful, irreverent man with the mirrored mask behind amongst the wreckage of the lab.

“Hey kids!” he shouted, suddenly, making them stop. “Remember – the only thing you need to blame yourself for are your own choices!”

The gathered heroes and villain turned around to look at him, confused more than anything, but he was gone, leaving no trace behind.

***

The final door between them and their target did not hold for more than a second or two, after Gloom Glimmer, Mindstar and Hecate all blasted it, utterly shredding it apart.

Beyond it, a huge lab was revealed that looked like a cross between a chem lab, an animal testing lab (though the appliances they could see were disturbingly fitted for humans, not smaller animals) and a cyberpunk enthusiast’s wet dream.

The latter was due to the huge structure dominating the laboratoy: Hanging above a wide hole in the ground that seemed to lead all the way down to the seawater, it looked like a gigantic mass of tree-trunk-sized metal cables, several spheres made of some kind of see-through material that didn’t seem to be glass, filled with various liquids and one with some kind of gas, and a multitude of other mechanical parts that were nigh-impossible to identify, even for Basil. From that, dozens of thick cables – really more like flexible pillars – wrapped in a black, fabric-like material reached down into the hole in the ground, disappearing into the water below.

At a console in front of the hole stood their target and her colleague, Syrinx, working on several dials and a keyboard. The syringes they’d stored the blood in had been inserted into fitting slots on the console and, just as they entered, a light next to them turned green and they were emptied of their contents.

Whatever it was meant to do, Basil decided not to give them time to complete it. Before he got to act, though, Mindstar and Gloom Glimmer did.

A single gesture of Amy’s pulled them both away from the console and lifted them into the air, followed by Gloom Glimmer gesturing with both hands, causing numerous gadgets to simply off their bodies, flying out of their sleeves and pockets.

Syringes, wrist launchers, throwing darts and more were gathered together in the air before a spherical force-field snapped shut around them, followed by it heating up red-hot, destroying everything contained within.

Hecate raised her staff, aiming at the console, but Basil reached out with his right arm, pushing it down. “No. We might need it for the cure. Besides, there is no way to tell what might happen if you just blow it up.”

She growled, jerking her staff away from him, but subsided.

Well, here we are, baby bro, Amy spoke into his mind as he turned to look at Dusu and Syrinx, who were looking at them with varying degrees of surprise and shock.

“How are you here!?” Syrinx asked, staring at them like they’d come out of a nightmare. “You should be-“

“Shut him up, please,” Basil said softly, and someone – either Amy or Gloom Glimmer – complied, causing his jaw to snap shut. Putting Graymalkin down, he advanced towards the two villaneous gadgeteers.

He came to a halt, just a few steps away from them, looking up at the immobilised and declawed Dusu, who looked down at him with a mixture of contempt and curiosity. What the others behind him were doing, he couldn’t tell.

“Please put her down,” he said, and Amy did so, lowering Dusu onto the floor in front of him. Basil reached up and threw his hood back, before he unlocked his helmet and took it off.

Lowering his arms, the helmet dangling off the fingers of his right hand, he dropped it, causing it to hit the floor with a loud clang.

Looking down, he beheld the woman he’d wanted to hurt for so, so long.

She was… average. A short Chinese woman with small, almond-shaped brown eyes, a perky nose and thin lips. The only thing that even remotely stood out about her was her long, silky black hair, formerly in a tight bun but now loose, as Gloom Glimmer had removed the chopsticks she’d used to keep it in shape.

Something’s wrong, the thought came up through the simmering rage rising up from where he’d kept it down for so long. Something about the way she looked, it was… off. In a way he couldn’t quite put into words.

However, there were other things he had to take care of.

“Dusu,” he said her name, his voice as calm as he could keep it, his black eyes boring into her brown ones. “I’ve been looking for you for a long, long time.”

“Aw shucks, you’re waaaaaaay too young for my tastes, sweetie,” she replied in unaccented English, speaking it the way someone who’d learned it as a second or third language would, as she grinned up at him, seemingly unperturbed by the situation. “Still, I’m flattered.”

The sound of heels on the floor alerted Basil to the fact that Amy had walked up to stand just behind his left side. “Want me to just get the info out of her?”

Tearing her mind apart would be a good start, Basil thought to himself.

But it’d be too quick, now wouldn’t it? the Man in the Moon countered.

“Not yet,” Basil replied to Amy, still focused entirely on Dusu. “Maybe she’s going to be reasonable. Then we get what we want and we take her back home, to stand trial.”

“I don’t really relish the idea of a trial,” Dusu interjected, as she shifted her position to sit more comfortably. “But I’d rather have that than getting mindfucked, thank you very much.”

The others moved up, taking position around Basil in a rough half-circle, all looking down at Dusu with varying degrees of contempt. Syrinx was ignored entirely, spinning slowly in the air, still gagged by having his jaw held shut.

“Why’s this bitch so calm?” Tyche asked, her voice almost a snarl. “She ought to be shitting herself right about now.”

“I feel fear,” Osore noted, breaking his silence for the first time in quite a while. “Not much, but there’s some.”

“You may have noticed that this place is crawling with terrifyingly powerful people,” Dusu quipped light-heartedly. “You guys are really rather adorable in comparison. Though I would like to know how you managed to beat the Ascendant’s doll back.”

Gloom Glimmer flinched, black veins creeping over her sclera, but Basil, who saw it through the eyes of his raven, raised a hand, cutting her off.

“We are not here for that,” he told Dusu. “You have something we need.”

“Ohhh?” she focused on him again, her cold, uncaring eyes studying his face. “What is it, sweetheart? What can I do for you? It’s not like I have much of a choice, huh?” she asked with a smirk.

It took all of Basil’s considerable restraint not to strike her across the face, just to wipe that smirk off.

Instead, he clenched his fists, his arms trembling due to the tension. “No, you do not,” he spoke quietly. “I am here because of the Hawaii plague. I want you to give me the antidote, or cure, or whatever y-“

He didn’t manage to finish his sentence. As soon as he mentioned Hawaii, her eyes widened – and then she started to laugh.

What? He stared at her, surprised, as she laughed and laughed, loud and shrill as she shook back and forth, wrapping her arms around her stomach.

“That’s… what you… came for?!” she gasped in between bouts of laughter. “You attacked this place… risked your lifes… wrecked our operations… a decade of research… all for that!?” she doubled over with laughter, her head nearly hitting the floor.

“What the fuck is wrong with this putana?” Hecate breathed, looking like she was afraid to catch something from the woman on the ground.

“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” Amy said resolutely, leaning in as she focused her power on her…

Only to recoil, staggering back. “What the fuck!?” she shouted, staring at the madly laughing woman with wide, shocked eyes. “How dare you… you… how could you? What kind of monster would do that!?” she screamed at her, lunging at the laughing woman with a snarl on her face.

Everyone stared in shock, completely taken by surprise by the sudden, violent reaction, and Basil barely managed to step in between them, blocking Amy’s lunge. “Amy, wait!”

He caught her in his arms, and would have gotten thrown aside or bowled over, had he not locked himself to the floor with his boots.

She struggled briefly against him, snarling. “Let me at her! That bitch, she’s… she has to die!”

“Amy, what is going on? What did you see?” he asked her, confused and more than a little worried. She’d never lost it like that before – she was very nearly frothing at the mouth.

The others stepped back from her, clearly intimidated – the only one who appeared to be unaffected was Dusu herself, who was still laughing like a loon.

“Heh. Heh heh hehahaha!” she shook all over, tears in her eyes. “I’ll show you! Look, look, I’ll show you what’s so fucking funny!” she half screamed, half gasped the words, having trouble speaking past the torrents of demented laughter.

Basil let go of Amy, who stepped back again, staring at Dusu with outraged eyes, and looked down at her.

The demented woman reached to the collar of the turtleneck sweater she was wearing underneath her labcoat, and grabbed an intricate, silvery charm hanging off a chain around her slender neck.

A single tuck broke the thin chain, tearing the charm off.

Her form distorted slightly, the wrongness he’d noticed earlier becoming more profound as he realised that he’d, however unknowingly, picked up on the fact that her appearance wasn’t real.

Beneath the disappearing distortion, a horrific sight became visible, making everyone, except for Basil, step back in horror and disgust. Even Syrinx, seeing it from a distance, gasped, sounding like he was about to throw up.

On the ground before them sat a woman who was barely more than a corpse. Lush black hair had turned pure white, mostly fallen out, leaving her haggard, flesh-less head – just skin drawn taut over bones – looking oversized, like a misshapen egg, the skin pale, greyish and thin as rice paper. Her eyes looked bigger here, due to the eyelids having become so thin and shrivelled, the eyeballs seemed to bulge out of her skull, their brown colour threaded through with grey, the sclera showing pink veins.

But that wasn’t nearly all. Her nose was gone, leaving a gaping wound in the centre of her face through which she drew air with a wheezing, sharp sound. Her lips had shrivelled and thinned, lacking any colour to distinguish them from the rest of her skin, revealing entirely toothless gums as she shook, laughed and gasped. Her cheeks had rips and holes in them, as if partially rotten, stretching obscenely as her jaw moved, distorting her laughter further into an inhuman, wheezing sound.

Her hands were similarly shrivelled, with chipped nails where they weren’t outright missing, the knuckles and wrists swollen as if infected by something. Her veins stood out starkly on her papery, greyish skin, where it was visible.

The rest of her body, though hidden by her coat, sweater and pants, was visibly emaciated, her clothes, formerly fitting tightly to her slender frame, now hanging off her bony shoulders, her pants legs so loose it seemed like she only had sticks within them.

Basil stared down at her in horror, recognising the symptoms. She looks just like… like… like Prisca…

“W-why?” he breathed the question, his voice nearly breaking as he felt his stomach turn cold.

“It wasn’t, wasn’t a plague!” she hollered, tears running from her bulging eyes as she looked up at him, the expression on her face, distorted as it was, dripping with sadistic glee. “I was… I wanted to be an Adonis! So jealous, of all these pretty boys and girls prancing around looking like they’d jumped out of a wet dream!”

She fell back, barely catching herself on her arms and leaning her negligible weight onto her hands, as if she was just relaxing among friends.

“So, you see, I got stupid. Too eager!” she continued, appearing to enjoy herself greatly. “I figured, well, I can do poisons real well – what if I do one that’s meant to make the victim better, rather than worse? I mean, that’s what medicine is, in the end, right? Just a poison turned on its head!” She tilted her head to the side, calming herself a bit. “Got in a real goooooood craze. Three days of work, non-stop. Didn’t eat, didn’t drink, didn’t sleep, hell, I didn’t even shit the whole time.” She made a coy smile, though it only made her look even more disturbing. “Didn’t turn out so well. I was so fucking off the rocker when I came out of the craze, I really, really wanted to be strong and beautiful and all so much… I just injected myself with it. Didn’t test it on anyone.”

She shrugged. “You can see the results. I’ve been trying to find a way to fix myself, but… no luck, so far.” She sighed, shaking her head as if disappointed at how the world was treating her.

“Hawaii,” Basil cut in, his voice barely a whisper. “Why Hawaii?” Why’d you destroy Prisca’s life?

“Well, I couldn’t find a cure myself!” she proclaimed, waving an arm in an exasperated gesture. “So I figured, hey girl, why not outsource that?” She grinned, an unmistakable note of pride on her distorted face. “All these rich vacationers, all in one place. I figured, even if the heroes didn’t come up with a cure out of the good of their hearts, all those richies would pay enough to get someone to fix them. And then I could swoop in and get myself fixed, too!”

The bottom dropped out of Basil’s stomach, his blood running cold as he followed the evidence to its inevitable conclusion.

“Of course, I hadn’t quite thought it through,” she admitted, pouting – not that she had much of a pout, with her lips as withered as they were. “I blame it on all the painkillers I was on at the time. But, you see, I’d custom-made the stuff to affect me. To work with my genome, not that of other people. So… it was rather more lethal than I had expected it to be.” She shuddered. “You won’t believe how worried I got, before the first news of survivors came through! Y’see, I’d only made one batch of the stuff, and I spent it all on that bomb, so if no one’d survived Hawaii, I’d have been royally screwed!”

She sighed, again. “Of course, my luck remained as rotten as ever. No one found a cure. No one. Been waiting for years. I even released what little I’ve been able to reconstruct about the serum on the internet, using pseudonyms and all.”

He’d found some of those. Downloaded the information, hoping it might help him, wondering who had managed to figure even that much out, as little information as it was.

“Well, that didn’t pan out. Turns out I’m way too awesome. Not even the Gefährten, with all their mojo, have been able to fix me,” she complained, sounding like a little child, averting her eyes. “Body’s gonna last a few more years, tops. Only chance I’ve got left is getting to that retard in Britain, only even if I could get close enough, I doubt that faggot would be willing to heal me, you know?”

She looked up again, grinning at Basil. “So, you wanna know what’s so funny? This is! If you want to find a cure for my serum… sweetie, you can have everything I got! You can use my lab! Hell, I’ll fucking assist you myself! If you succeed, I’ll fucking blow you!” She leered at him, waving one of her arms at the equipment all around her. “Use the computer! I got all my files on it there! Use my equipment, if you can! By all means, find a cure for all those poor, poor victims!” She started to laugh again, her torso shaking, head dipping up and down with each gasp. “You never had to attack this place! You never had to fight! You could’ve just called me up, sweetie, and I would’ve sent a fucking plane!”

Basil staggered back, his vision tilting oddly. His whole body was cold, barely felt at this point, even something as simple as stepping back becoming an unstable, uncoordinated stumble.

The scarecrow on the floor kept laughing, shaking all over. “So, can you do it, sweetheart? Can you… do… what all the others… have failed to? You can’t… can you?” She looked up at him, her eyes wide, nearly glowing with the insanity now unconcealed behind them. “I looked you… up… when you built… that equipment… for the little… Fion bitch… you’re no bio-gadgeteer… you only do mechanical stuff.”

She lowered her head, shaking with barely restrained laughter. “Well, too bad!” She suddenly looked up at him again, eyes as wide as they could go. “Because the only way you’re getting a cure is if you come up with it yourself! I sure as hell have no idea how to do it, I tell you!”

And she threw her head back, laughing, mocking, as Basil’s world spun around him.

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291 thoughts on “B13.17 Call of the Sleeper

    • Why would you rund and hide? The ending was AWESOME!
      Now the only two options left are Ember or an evolution of Basil’s power. And since Basil’s power apparently doesn’t work well when it comes to biology it is quite likey that we will finally see the Protectorate break in we have all been waiting for. I am really looking forward to the next chapter.

    • Why would you need to run and hide? What Dusu did makes perfect sense. You know, aside from the whole “inject yourself without proper safety checks” deal. It’s as I’ve said at work, “If you have a problem too big for you to solve yourself, the solution is to make it too big for other people to ignore.”

      I never thought that she’d have the cure just sitting around. If she did, she’d already be selling it on the black market. That she’s been trying, and failing, to create the cure is new, but not unbelievable.

      The Companions want to create more metas. She joined them. That she would spend time trying to figure out where her prior work went wrong makes perfect sense. That no cure has appeared on the black market supports her not making any progress.

      I do think that Dusu is a confirmed failure, though. First she cripples herself when trying to do the opposite. Then she tries to do the same to others, only to leave them too dead to finance medical research. Finally, she joins the Companions… Only to fail hard enough that they threw her under the bus.

      And I still think that she’s a contriver, dammit!

      • In a way that would be convenient. When she dies everyone else would be cured.

        The question would be what the heck was she doing on the gadgeteer side of the island.

        For that matter how did the Companions get all the contrievers on one side of the island when most contrievers believe their delusions to be real? Or were there no pseudoscience type contrievers there?

      • There were and are a lot. Guess why Immanuel, one of their best manipulators, spends most of his time baby-sitting that place?

  1. Honestly a great chapter, makes things about what happened all those years ago clear. Maybe Brennus should just let Graymalkin type on the Keyboard.

    Poor Journeyman might be out of the loop for awhile. Do you ever plan to do a Brennus Files or interval chapter on what happens when the backlash hits him?

    • Not to be an ass, but there are totally words to describe her:
      Impulsive
      Ruthless
      Mass-murdering
      Career-failure
      Darwin-Award winner-to-be

  2. Love so many moments in this chapter.
    “No one appreciates the classics anymore” itself a classic line…well, at this point it’s a groaner.
    Journeyman just punching time.
    Polymnia mispelling/mis-talking.
    Journeyman telling Amy to quit villainy. Looking forward to that All Masks Fall arc.
    Amy still scared of Graymalkin, did we ever find out what exactly the incident was?
    You achieved skin crawl pretty well there with Dusu, tieshaunn. Eaaauauuguuggghghghhh.

    I wouldn’t be particularly gutted if Prisca died, though. He could maybe date Hecate afterwards, if the Amy thing got sorted out. Though that would probably go very…badly. And they might end up making lots of ULTRAs.

    All hail Graymalkin, the mystery cat.

  3. Wow those were some awesome chapters, and Diantha is great and scary her power just makes perfect sense with her origin, she manifested dancing with her lover and it was the best moment of her whole life so of course she would want to relive it again and again and the added space manipulation…damn Vista and Grey Boy found Potalas or something(or perhaps learned the fusion dance).Anyway you showed how scary time and space manipulation can be very very well handled though now I want to see more of her, but as a person I want to know who Diantha is(or was but for some reason I am sure her personality will come back).

    Still she is a regular human aside from her power and needs to activate it so someone fast enough (Tachyon wherever you are) or a good teleporter could gank her easily before she begins to use her ability and then there are people with subtle powers like Caliban who could get to her too attention manipulation is dangerous. By the by would the Protector be affected by Diantha’s power or would his field Protect him ? and How would Severence do against Diantha ? Is Konrad always late ?

    Damn Journeyman and Graymalkin are awesome(nothing much to add to that) and I see why Gloomy sees him as the most powerful guy around. Given his power level and how it has consequences I think the guy should spend time with Tyche and talk to her as I believe he can relate to what she goes through, speaking of which I wonder if she will use her power to help for a cure for the Hawai victims if Basil goes around to work on things there. Also the Young heroes heard Journeyman tell Amy she was not herself I wonder if they will relay that to their command chain along with the rest.

    Dang the Duzu thing is just Sad on all levels…an interesting twist though.

    Now Immanuel and the Ascendant got away along with Heaven’s Dancer( She IS Skulls right ? I mean with the whole talk about bodies and everything or did I misread that) and that means the new Ascendant will create even more dangerous things, wonder what her speciality truly is though, and not only that but she has Diantha with her. Now I just want to see what’s next and Konrad for some reason. very nice work Tieshaunn.

    • Heaven’s Dancer and Skulls are two separate people, though there are similarities in their powers. Skulls is very much brain-dead now.

      Konrad comes as Konrad wills.

      Severance was one of the few people who, while not able to beat her, could actually give Diantha something of a fight.

      Protector wouldn’t be safe from her power.

      • – Hmmm…Interesting, I wonder how similar their powers really are and which is the most potent, I would assume that Heaven’s Dancer has the most potent one given her position, I wonder what the differences between their abilities are and what they think(thought ?)of each other.

        – Heh Konrad certainly seems to have a lot of leeway, he must be quite something then.

        – Ho ? this guy is really something, also I still think his power has something to do with Space and/or time manipulation which would fit if he can fight Diantha. As for Diantha I still think teleporters and fast enough people can kill her before she can even think about using her power.

        – Ah, so his field would not prevent Diantha from affecting him directly okay then. Out of curiousity how many people out there could actually beat her once she begins to use her power ?(not asking for names just a number).

      • There’s some rock paper scissors involved here, as there’s certainly a few powers that, while not all that strong on their own, could utterly screw her over. Some could beat her on account of being impossible to stop with her power unless she is willing to kill, and Elysium would never willingly take a life.

        However, when it comes to people who would, in general, be able to fight on par or above her level, assuming both sides are going all out and are willing to kill, I’d have to say, five or six. I can tell you that Journeyman (obviously), Emyr (just as obvious, I think) and Lady Light (though, to be fair, she’d never, ever go for the kill against her own daughter) could decisively beat her.

        Severance could give her a hard fight, Lamarr could counter her spatial powers, at leasto n himself, but he’d fall to her time manipulation. The Dark, going all out, would be a really hard fight for her (as it was, though he was NOT going for the kill when they fought, and neither was she), but she’d eventually beat all of those.

        Konrad and the leader of the Gefährten could possibly kill her. Would be one hell of a fight, though.

        Baba Yaga could, obviously, beat her, even easily, assuming she collects the right combination of powers; but as she is right now, she’d lose against Elysium.

        Koschei wouldn’t be able to kill her, but neither would she be able to beat him.

        The mystery man who helped bring down Emyr could beat her.

        There’s a few others in canon who could actually win, but I’m gonna keep those to myself.

        She isn’t as limited by speed-of-thought as one would think (her Tenant would likely activate her power if Tachyon came for her, before she’d even be able to react)

      • Thank you for the answer and yes I can see how this is a rock paper scissor case, eh one could say it always is with these kinds of powers.

        – Meh Konrad would have to arrive on time for the fight which seems unlikely…as for Immanuel well that does not really surprise me.

        – Damn Kochei seems to be quite the threat really want to see him in action even if it’s in a flashback.

        – Well our dear mystery man certainly could, at least when he is not busy discussing stuff with Brennus in a park aong with his metahuman bodyguards.

        – No mention of Ember or her Majesty Queen Madeleine, meh I guess they are among the other not mentionned characters just as is Australian!Tick Tock I’d wager.

        – Interesting, does the tenant also react to other powers applied to her like say Caliban’s power ?

      • Fishing for info on Magnus, eh? I ain’t gonna give you any.

        Ember vs Elysium would be a very interesting fight. Tick Tock would lose, though. Elysium would basically force her to burn through her entire stockpile of time and leave her powerless.

        It reacts to some, but not all.

      • I want Brennus to fish for money from Magnus. What does a boy have to do in an empty park to get some money from a rich man.

      • @Paradigm Why would you think that Magnus is the mystery man?
        I admit I really have to reread all the older chapter once I have time, but I don’t think that I missed any clue that points to a connection between Magnus and whoever was part of the suicide squad that defeated Emyr.

      • – Eh can’t blame me for trying, besides I note you did not say Magnus wasn’t involved in Emyr’s defeat…Mwahahahahahaha(note enough haha to make a Sinister six base but still).

        – I can imagine the kind of messy fight that would be even with just what we know of both powers. As for Tick Tock well okay then given that I do not EXACTLY know how her power works. By the way when you say Kochei could not beat Diantha, does this mean even if he killed a shit load more people or just as he is now ?

        – Weird question: How would The Dark and Lady Light react if they each had a child from someone else and those two children became a couple ?(Like the Dark has a son, Lady Light a Daughter and the two meet and fall in love with each other )

        @ansraer
        Nothing much really apart from the fact that Magnus’ bodyguards are named after Odin’s raven and that it was someone named Gungnir dealt the final blow to Emyr…Well that and mostly me trying to fish any info I could.

      • Not enough haha’s. You need six times as many as I used, since I was only speaking about individual evil bases of evil.

        Koschei’s upgrades would make it harder (and eventually, nigh-impossible) for Elysium to contain him, but they wouldn’t change the fact that neither of them has the means to put the other one down.

        The Dark would laugh so hard he’d pee himself. Lady Light…

        Honestly, I don’t know. I gotta think about this one.

      • – Dang, I have been foiled!!! but I shall be back Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        – Okay then still I cannot help but to wonder how Kochei got captured in the first place especially if a power like Diantha’s would have a hard time containing the guy. By the by if Kochei kills people and Diantha rewinds them back to life(I believe she can do that as long as said people died after she activated her power)would Koshei retain the bonus he got from said people’s deaths or not ?

        – Hoh ? Does that mean you have a better handle on The Dark’s character than Lady Light’s or does that just mean she is a bit more complicated than her on/off romantic partner ?

        – Out of curiousity what kind of manifestation would it take for someone to have Alex Mercer’s exact power set ?(infecting other people, making evolveds and hive mind control via Virus included)

        – Does Konrad get lost on the road of life ?

      • There was at least one exclamation mark missing there.

        Power dampeners, a small army of precogs and the strongest force-field projectors they could find.
        He would keep the upgrade.

        I have a better handle on how he’d react to such a situation, at least, since his standard reaction is amusement.

        that EXACT power-set? It would have to be a special circumstances manifestation. Such as getting infected by a lethal virus while already under high stress, and being hounded by armed people out to kill you, after years of disappointment and social isolation, stuck amongst a crowd of people you don’t care about who also don’t care about you and the virus also starts affecting your mind.

        He does like to just go with the flow.

      • – Hmm makes sense as for him keeping the bonus he gets when killing someone even if the death is reversed means that he does not get better because he takes something from his kills but that the act of ending a life is what makes the tenant react, interesting.

        – Eh, I can see how that helps

        – So in short a Gefährten test subject that has been kept isolated with the only people he got to see being the researcher experimenting on him and has been used for years never knowing what would be done to him the next day or even the next hour always hoping this ordeal would stop who got infected by a new gadgeteer virus and somehow managed to get free and is chased down by armed Gefährten mooks.

        I really like to see how power sets from other places can be induced your system, I love that kind of peek in the mechanics so to speak.

        – Eh, he seems like a swell guy

      • …The user known as Paradigm is not able to respond to you right please wait until his brain has been put online.

        That aside the circumstances that created Zeus are the kind of shit I could see the Gefährten pull…

        – Now then another Manifestation question: What kind of manifestation would make someone have the following power, a field around the body which absorbs and stores everything thrown at it or voluntarily put in it(energy, objects…but not living thing:storing a person or an animal would not work but touching someone’s arm and stoing it on the other hand would)and can store things for the power’s host(like an inventory in a game).

        The stored energy, items etc could be recalled by the user for his own use in various circumstances and extruded from any part of the body, the field would also clothes clothes much like the Protector’s.

        Added to this power a physique rating about the same level as Vassiliki’s.

    • Yes you got that right, the whole person is alive and the limitation is he cannot store anything that is alive no matter the size ie no storing plagues, Bacteria insects…BUT he can store parts of living beings.

      Also what he stores stays in the exact same condition it was when stored, ie warm food stays warm etc.

      and sorry if the explanation is a bit confusing.

      • He can rip off a living person provided the limb in question has any contact with him.

        The only thing he cannot store are entire living beings everything else he can and that includes parts of living beings.

      • So, he has an instant death touch. Got it.

        That’s a pretty violent power, and almost certainly from a negative origin.

        I’m imagining a young boy, a teenager at most. He’s grown up poor, with luxuries – and even basic necessities – being SCARCE. learned to save up, to stockpile stuff. I’m imagining a single mom household with a violent, abusive mother. She rarely hits him directly, but she abuses him verbally and by throwing things at him, especially when angry or drunk (often both at once). maybe high. the point being, an altered state. Actually hitting him (when he was younger, spanking) is reserved for special occasions, and something he particularly fears.

        Her constant verbal abuse, as well as the lack of money to buy nice clothes or status symbols leaves him with a damaged ego and, in particular, issues with his appearance (whether or not he’s actually good-looking already).

        One day, things get particularly bad. Maybe he asked for money to buy a book or a game, or just to go to the cinema with friends. maybe he just wants to go along on a school trip. Maybe there’s no reason at all, other than that she’s drunk and angry and looking for an outlet.

        She’s throwing things at him. A cup, at first. Spoons. A plate. Cussing at him, insulting him for being a burden on her, for wasting her money, her life. Telling him what a failure he is, what an ugly, weak, useless waste of space.

        Then she picks up a knife – she might not even notice that it’s a knife, just grabbing whatever she can reach and throwing it.

        The knife flies, the boy manifests in the seconds between it leaving her hand and reaching his body.

        Both of them are startled, but in her case, that just translates into more anger. She picks up more cutlery, throwing it as she advances on him, screaming about the vapid little FREAK she gave birth to.

        Is she too angry to realise the danger? Too drunk? Too high? Does she have a secret death wish? Maybe she just can’t believe the little loser could actually be a threat.

        She advances on him and reaches out to grab him – the ultimate threat, after which there has always been a beating.

        His manifestation has just finished, his power is still malleable in those moments right after settling in. The sudden spike in terror, added to the stress he was already under and the confusion surrounding his manifestation, cause his power to change, expand. a secondary manifestation, if you so will, reaching out for more than it previously could.

        His mother grabs him by the collar to drag him up from where he’d fallen and beat him, and his power snaps shut, cutting her arm off just above the elbow and shunting it away to join the cutlery she previously threw at him.

        As an additional hook (and early character showcase) I’d add that she’s going to bleed to death quickly, unless he takes care of her right away.

      • Previous post missing a bit for some reason, anyway

        The way I see it the power”scans”things whatever it is and then either automatically sotres it(you shoot the guy it automatically stores the bullet AND the kinetic energy)or stores it by the will of the user(ie the meta touche a chair he can will it into his storage)now when the power “scans” stuff it allows to either take the whole or just parts(for instance touch a gun and chose to either store the whole thing or just any part of it).

        Thing is the power does not compute living things: it doesn’t see the smaller ones at all and only sees the bigger one as parts IE if the user touches a guy’s arm it will consider the arm as an object on it’s own because it does not “see” the guy as a whole.

      • That seems awfully limited. In that case, I’d rule that he has an upper size limit. Like, about arm-size of an adult. He can’t draw in a whole object bigger than that (so, no storing a whole chair). He COULD store living things, if they were that small (so pets are fair game), but since no human other than perhaps a baby is that small, it can only maim them.

      • 1) Damn that’s one awesome origin, you are really good at those and the death touch is more of a side effect but the sheer potential of his power even without it…

        2)Ah okay so no good then but that was mainly me trying to justify why he could not store entire living things, my first idea was that he COULD store living things but that when he retrived them they would be dead because the transition would not be really amicable to living things but for some reason I was not very satisfied with that.

        The way I see the power it has no size limit or anything else aside from as mentioned no storage of living things, him being able to safely store living things and people would be too much IMHO especially given the fact that the power keeps everything it stores in the exact concditon it was in when stored.

        BTW wen was the Spiteborn attack on Strasbourg ? And yes it is related to the character and power I bugged you about.

      • Uff, Strasbourg was attacked twice actually.

        Once in… 2010. December, during Christmas.

        The second time (the one mentioned in the chevalier chapters, I think) was around late octobre/early novembre of 2012 (meaning, just a few weeks ago, in-universe).

        His power would definitely have SOME size-limit. He couldn’t store an entire city or anything…

        I’d say he either has no size-limit as to what he can draw in, only the “nothing alive” limit, plus a max amount he can store (like, the equivalent of a house?), or else he can store any number of objects so long as no one of them has no more mass than X kg/no bigger than a dog, or so.

        Or perhaps he can only store things as big as himself, at most.

        Plenty of options.

      • possible derangemnets to go along with the origin and character:

        1) aversion to being touched, from being uncomfortable up to homicidal response, depending on severity of the derangement

        2) hoarding

        3) compulsive materialism (always assesses the monetary value of anyone/anything he comes across)

        just to give you some ideas

      • Damn some cities really have rotten luck.

        I would say he could not take in anything bigger than five times his size for objects and matter in general not sure about the upper limit on energy. As for his storage space, well huge extremely so…

      • Five times his size? that’s a whole damn lot.

        If he can absorb both living (in parts) and non-living material, and energy as well, then he’s pretty much untouchable without a limit. No one could beat him, unless you get to the really weird powers that’d be impossible to absorb

      • Hmmm for the derangement 2 and 3 work well with the added caveat of him also tending to put himself in the way of highly powerful Metahuman attacks when he can to store them because”they can be of use later against someone else” which is a very dangerous gamble.

        Also he would also never fully trust anyone(except one person which I have in mind with also a power)given how his own mother and only remaining faily treated him.

      • Yeah, him being that hard to beat(and what I have in mind for his partner too)is kinda the point, he is an unaffiliated youth of rather high power not in the best of headspaces from a city attacked by Spiteborns (btw the Strasbourg attack is mentioned in the Chevalier IX entry in the heroic legacy Brennus fille nowhere else I found so 2010 for the first Strasbourg attack seems a bit weird)in a country that is not at it’s best and went through shit thanks to Weisswald, especially his city since it is very very close to Germany.

      • Was that one in Strasbourg, too? That’s what I get for answering messages while on the bus.

        I’ll dig up the exact date for that attack once I’m home

      • Ok, I checked my notes. Here’s the actual timetable:

        1st Strasbourg Attack: May, 1998

        2nd Strasbourg Attack: December, 2010

        1st STRANDFONTAIN Attack: October 2012

      • Meh, that happens also Strandfountain ? was ist denn das Herr Tieshaunn ?

        As for the character I was wondering what would the guy’s ratings be ? Not sure how to classify that power.

        Also I expect powerful Metas to be sought out after once they are revealed yes ? Especially when they have no support network at all and are basically alone with just another person(who also happens to be a rather dangerous meta) even more so in a place like Europe as it is. If anything once such a one is none I would expect Fleur for instance, to go after said meta especially if he comes from her country then there are the local non UH affiliated heroes(I don’t believe Chevalier and all are part of the UH, might be wrong on that one)and that’s not even taking the villains into acount.

        By the way will we see more of France soon ? i mean I got my fix of Russia for a time with Chickenleg(but would not be averse to have more)

        Same question about Australia, also is Coyote on the same tier as the Five or the Shining guardians ?

        Is Konrad old enough to have known Weisswald ?

      • The Spiteborn appear all over the world, sometimes even concurrently.

        Uff… he’d have a damage rating for being able to tear people apart, and for shooting energy/items out.

        VERY high protection rating. Easily high apex, maybe even god level (but not transcendent)

        His ability to store things for later use would give him a low perception rating (you can never tell what he’s gonna pull out in advance).

        Depending on how he uses his power, he might also gain a derived movement rating (if he learns to ‘launch’ himself into the air, for example)

        Not as much as you probably think. Fleur would most definitely NOT bother with him and his friend, unless A) they just happen to be active near where she is at the time, B) they make a huge upheaval or C) they start killing a LOT of people. Keep in mind that, not only is currently a burgeoning world war 3 going on in europe, but she’s also responsible for most of Non-Sovjet europe.

        Also, the UH is much weaker in Europe (due to anti-metahuman-group sentiments) than in the USA. Fleur is NOT the big superhero authority in France. The metahuman teams are smaller, and tend to be independent of each other. Very few metahumans work directly for the government, and those who do are kept on a short leash.

        It’s much more likely that the Syndicate will make some move towards them, ONCE they make a name of themselves, sending someone to try and recruit them (not one of the Five – that’d come later).

        Can’t say about France in particular, but I definitely plan to have an interlude or two in Europe in general. Haven’t set on a specific country/character yet.

        Australia is unlikely to play a significant role in Book 1. There may be one more interlude taking place in it, but that’d be it.

        Coyote is not on that level, no. The only members of the Queensguard who’re explicitely considered to be on par with a member of the Five or the Guardians are Prospero and Tick-Tock.

        Konrad is younger than that.

      • – Aaah Strandfountein as in the Southafrican resort got it my bad.

        – Not just people, but things to I mean he can take parts of walls and such too… as for the protection rating I would think about the same as the Protector.

        – Poor Phrasing on my part, I did not mean that she would go after them personnally but send people to recruit him as I take it the UH always want powerful metas especially in branches like Europe where they are weaker than in America plus France is her country she might monitor what happens there a bit more. Also the way I saw it him and the other would have gotten their power in August 2010 and their story would have begun then and then they would make some waves locally before truly being noticed during the Spiteborn attack because of what they did to those.And things were not that bad of the World War 3 front at that IIRC.

        – Would they be the kind of people(well at least the one we talked about) Lamarr would sent his guys ttry to recruit or even bother himself to seek ? Also wouldn’t the Gefährten be interested, after all they DO recruit talents and what of the Slavers and Supremacist groups ? those might also try for a recruitment or capture.

        – Oh well, still european action even in another country is a good thing.

        – Eh well then I hope you’ll do that interlude because Australia rocks.

        – Okay, thanks for the information.

        – Ah well then…Has he crossed paths with the dark, Lady Light or the Six during his life ?

      • He’s seen Lady Light when she visited Madeleine, but they’ve had no personal contact. No to the others.

        The Syndicate would be interested. Slavers, not a chance in hell. They stay away from metahumans that powerful, except in extreme cases.

        They seem like pretty public metahumans. The Gefährten try to stay under the radar, where they can. So not unless they show sympathy to other metahuman supremacy groups. The Forresters might come knocking, though (their leader, Schwarzwald, would be interested in them if they fight off Spiteborn).

        Fleur wasn’t yet a shining guardian in 2010, iirc the timeline correctly. At that time, it would’ve been her predecessor, Le Mileur.

      • – Oh ? Konrad is australian ? Interesting…unless the Gefährten have contacts with Madeleine and he was there for that, but I highly doubt this.

        – Ah ? so they is not Slaver group specializing in providing high end metas to people wanting weapons ?

        – Well they are not public right away they only become really known when they defend themselves against the Spiteborn and go to town on them, which is witnessed by a lot of people and even recorded.

        Schwartzwald ? Really ? damn the forresters really lack imagination…Does he at least have powers that warranted that choice as a name ? and is he powerful ?

        – Oh , well then can you tell me bout le Mileur ? his powers and the guy himself(yes I am shamelessly asking for information)

      • Oh, sorry. I thought you asked about Coyote, not Konrad.

        No, Konrad has had no contact with any of those.

        What use is there to a high-end meta if he can be caught by mere slavers?

        What slavers able to capture a worthwile meta like that would waste their time being slavers?

        It happens, but very, very rarely. Not something that happens, usually.

        Schwarzwald (no t) has been able to keep the forresters going even in germany and france for several decades, mostly on account of his fearsome rep alone. And yes, his name is very warranted.

        “Le Meilleur”

        A former mob thug turned reformed philanthropist. Manifested with a major esper ability that specialised in making schemes and manipulating people, working best when he acted in order to put himself ahead, come out on top.

        He wasn’t much of a classic hero. Not much of a fighter, by cape standards. But he was a nightmare for criminals and villains, working both behind the scenes and in the open, coordinating heroes and law enforcement, while infiltrating criminal organisations both by himself and via agents. Had a huge staff working under him, both metas and normals.

  4. Graymalkin gives absolutely no fucks. Am I being memes here or does this cat have powers.

    I thought that Animals cannot manifest?

    • Not saying whether or not Graymalkin has any superpower other than being a cat, but it’s not IMPOSSIBLE for animals to manifest, though it’d take very special circumstances and would work very differently from human manifestation.

      • I’m now imagining a Brennus anime. It is strange sort of like High School DxD, mixed with Boku no Hero Acadedimia.

      • I only compare it not because of the Harem, but more how all the factions and powersets ate merged together into one world. Also it seems all the characters become superbly beautiful with their powers like a certain Adonis classification.

  5. Hmmm… So does Elysium have more than time-space warping powers? Im just wondering why Amy couldnt just mind-controll her?

    • I am hoping this moment unlocks something in Basil’s mind that allows him to use all of Dusu’s equipment and maybe even cooperate with her, polymnia, and whoever else is around to make a cure. He could achieve the gadgeteer version of super sayian!

  6. Okay. I really like the reveal on Duzu.
    Makes a ton more sense…
    “I’m an accidental supervillain!” (yes, I know, she did poisons before. But… that’s not Hawaii)

  7. Can I get a refresher on what’s so special about Dusu’s poison?
    I know it basically rots away the body and attacks a lot of major organs. Making it so the victim needs significant medical assistance to live and to dull the immense pain.
    But she’s a Gadgeteer, not a Contriver, so whatever she did needs to abide by certain laws of medical science and biology.

    1)It’s very specifically called a poison, not a “disease” or “virus”.
    So whatever got inside of a victims system should be semi-filtered out or at least suffering degradation from time.

    2)A healer that specializes in contaminants/filtering(Or poisons specifically if such a specialized healer exists.) should be able to handle whatever poison might be in a victims body.

    3)A healer that does general physical repair would take care of stabilizing the body.
    (This should work especially well if healers can work together like Gadgeteers.)

    Or am I mis-remembering something from earlier in the story?

    • The problem with Dusu’s creation is that no one’s quite sure WHAT it is. Not even she herself. It hasn’t been described in-depth (Basil had no reason to share detailed research with anyone on-screen), but it seems to be a mixture of several different things, having both viral, poisonous and bacterial components. Part of it, at least, works as a retro-virus, messing with the DNA of the victim (as Dusu alluded to in this chapter). The overall goal of her “serum” was to turn herself into an adonis – enhance her body, make her physically prettier and healthier, enhance her mind.

      The problem being, her power is specifically geared towards “poison” as a CONCEPT, not the actual definition of it. Everything she makes is, in some way, destructive. The serum she created DID enhance her – she is much stronger than Basil, just like Prisca would be if her body hadn’t degenerated and, like Prisca, she now has eidetic memory as well as some other symptoms of being an adonis (enhanced libido, enhanced senses, etc). It just so happened to completely fail at the “healthy” and “pretty” parts, turning her into, well… you saw.

      For Prisca (and the other victims) it was worse, since it had been specifically crafted to fit Dusu’s genome (and just look at how well it did her). The bigger difference there was, genetically, to her, the higher a victim’s chance to just outright die. Prisca happens to have some East Asian ancestry (from her mother’s side), which ended up “saving” her – or at least, delaying the end.

      Anyway, the reason powers haven’t been able to fix it is that it would take very specific powers to counter-act a gadget poison like that (it was/is Dusu’s version of a Magnum Opus) and no one’s been able to assemble that combo yet.

      It happened after Ember went into his exile, too, so he couldn’t fix it (it wouldn’t be a challenge at all to him).

    • Basically, in case it wasn’t clear, the really problematic part of her serum is the retro-viral component which rewrites part of the victim’s DNA. even if you purge the poison, the rewritten DNA causes the victim’s body to start producing it again. you have to rewrite/reset the DNA as well as purge the poison and kill off the bacterial components, all before any of the three manages to produce more of the other two and itself, as each one of the three major components would be sufficient to completely re-infect the victim.

      • So Dusu’s field of expertise is Poison? I thought it would be something like bioweapons. Or DNA manipulation since we know that she has been cloning supers.
        I am assuming that she already can produce antidotes for her lesser creations or at least knows how to create prober Biohazard lab gear. Because otherwise her power would be kind of useless. So would it in theory be possible for her power to evolve in that direction under the right conditions?

        And couldn’t someone with time powers just revert everyone who was infected back to the way they were before the Hawaii incident?

      • They’d have to revert them by years. If they could do that, it’d work out.

        Dusu’s speciality is a little more abstract. It’s “Poison” as a concept, and so goes beyond just the scientific definition of poison.

        The cloning was the Ascendant’s work (though it wasn’t JUST cloning), with some help from Dusu and Syrinx.

        Of course, Dusu’s power allows her to construct equipment FOR her research and gadgeteering, such as hazmat equipment, etc. But her speciality is in the “poisons” themselves, be they actual poisons, viruses, bacteria, drugs or a combination of those.

      • I’m guessing all the big shots who can revert years just don’t care to do so.

        Prisca likely doesn’t have much time left.

        We have Ember Option. Brennus could try to reach out through their connection im not sure he has the time or resources yo breach the wall yet.

        He could Heterodyne with Juuzou. It could work, maybe.

        He could call in help through the Dark, he has a connection through both Gloom Glimmer and Amy. Also the Dark might lend wyrm and resources to save his daughters second friend.

        What other options do we have people?

    • And Brennus doesnt know he has an Ember connection. Or am I mistaken?

      I wonder why Embers “painting” hasnt brought more attention on him?

      • I think there simply wasn’t any time, after Ember drew the symbol Basil was constantly fighting someone.
        And Basil does know about his connection with Ember, or at least is aware that the MitM has a connection to him.

      • That, also, Basil hasn’t exactly been international news until the Crocell fight. People hadn’t made the connection yet.

    • How could Dusu herself not have known what it would do?(

      I understand that most G-Metas don’t know exactly HOW their tech does what it does; But I assumed they all knew the general affects and functions of their own inventions.

      Does that mean Basil’s and Poly’s tech has secret functions that they aren’t even aware of?

      • She noted that she went into a “craze”. Basically, she pushed her power so far it took over and her conscious mind set to autopilot. By the time she woke from it, she just had the finished product and thought she knew what it’d do.

        The fact that that meant she hadn’t slept, eaten or drunk anything in a few days contributed to her injecting herself immediately

  8. Well, thanks to some information above, I’m a bit less convinced that Dusu is a contriver. Mostly because I had been laboring under the impression that the “poison” was purely bacterial. Instead, it has some sort of Three Realm Defense.

    Of course, the Three Realm Defense is so overdone that we all know how to deal with it: just overwhelm all three parts.

    Viral: HIV treatments already act specifically to interrupt retroviral processes. And I think AIDS has been cured in this universe. So adapting those drugs to the viral component of Dusu’s “poison” should be do-able.

    Bacterial: Given her actions, Dusu should be able to easily make a poison that is absolutely lethal to the bacterial component without harming eukaryotic cells.

    Inserted DNA: This would be the tough part. Gene therapy should be able to fix it, but the viral component functions on the same mechanism. So whatever is used to treat the viral component is likely to stop this part from working. This is probably the main component where you’d need an actual gadgeteer. Dusu might be able to make a poison for only only one type of virus, though.

    That said, given that samples of the “poison” don’t survive or remain viable outside the victim’s body, there might be an easier cure. Simply find some way to trick each part of the poison into thinking that it has been removed from the body, and watch as it commits seppuku. Not sure if this method would leave the victim alive, though.

      • If she believes in herself enough her power will help her save herself and those around her, It worked for Fairy Tail!

      • “Dusu can’t make cures for her own creations. A limitation of her power.”
        That statement seems convenient for the plot. Ill stick to has been unable to. It was her Magnum Opus after all.

        “No, no, no! Its not a cure. Its a poison for your poison.”

        Hmmm… Anyway what are the conditions where the”poison” kills itself. And how spectacularly does that happen? Does the altered DNA decompose itself too?

      • I should perhaps elaborate a little more. It’s not that she can’t make a cure, but… everything she makes is destructive. It always messes up.

        Any cure she made for one of her creations would have side-effects at least as bad, if not worse, than the original poison.

      • Dusu really lost the superpower lottery, didn’t she? Being able to produce poisons, but no cures sounds like only half of a power. You know, like the ability to talk to fish, without any ability to breathe water.

        Maybe I’m looking at this wrong. Basil’s power gives him incomplete designs to encourage him to learn enough on his own to fill in the gaps. Maybe Dusu is the same way, and her power deliberately left cures alone to encourage her to exercise her native intelligence.

        …Now that i think about it, I wonder if all gadgeteers have some element like that? I wonder if Polymnia truly can’t speak, or if her power only made her forget how. You know, to encourage her to relearn it without her power’s help as a mental exercise of some sort.

  9. Hmmm… So will Brennus draw inspiration from Dusus work and make nanites for his next Magnum Opus? They dont even have to be of the kind that can survive outside of lab conditions or function without a wireless charger.

    • Just a note/clarification. As Ive understood it due to their small size nanites would have poor heat capacitance and heat dissipation. Meaning that even a relatively small amount of extra energy (like from sunlight) could cause them to overheat.

      Plus they would probably be vulnerable to EMP bursts. Well except when they connect with eachother to form a Faraday cage. In which case the outer layer(s) forming the cage would be destroyed while the inner ones survive.

      Still making nanomedbots would likely be a slow process and the same would applie to the nanites themselves.

      • Nanites can always help, but they would essentially be fighting a war in her body. Unless they could expel and purify the waste all their own her body probably wouldn’t be able to take the strain.

        I would love to see Basil make nanobots at some point but wouldn’t they be OP at this point in the story? They would be able to swarm repair and attack enemies all at the same time. Plus this is Brennus we are speaking of so each nanobot will have a forcefield or something. I don’t think we have ever heard mention of a gageteer reaching that level.

        That being said Nanobot Ravens that when hit turn into smaller ravens would be amazing.

      • You have a point though they would probably be limited by energy and fragility in the early stages.

      • Ok. Im guessing mind uploads are out of his field of expertise too. And cybernetics probably wouldnt be much more than another life extension not a cure as the brain is infected too.

  10. We finally know who Journeyman is!
    He’s the smoke that smokes smoked oysters.
    He’s the batteries that are not included.
    He’s the termite that devours your floorboards.
    He’s the raspberry seed you can’t floss out.
    He’s the auditor who wants to look at your books.
    He’s the wrong number that wakes you at 3am.
    He’s the ten dollar service charge on all returned checks.
    He’s the headache in the criminal mind.

  11. Anyway, I think that it’s possible to fix this here, but it might require a three gadgeteer heterodyne with one of the participants being fucking Dusu. To boost each other, do the gadgeteers need to actually think in compatible ways or would it be enough to focus utterly on the same goal?

    Dusu’s power excels at biological destruction. She should have no problem creating something which would destroy the bacterial/retroviral components of the disease, but she can’t do anything to fix the DNA, which means that the body starts naturally producing more of the poison immediately, right?

    Brennus has plenty of mechanical skill. In theory, with Dusu’s understanding of the mechanics of the disease, I think that he could mix up some nanites capable of DNA modification. The computer cores of his ravenbots indicate that his electromagnetic knack extends to miniaturized computing, which is a large fraction of your limitations in nano-scale machinery. But he doesn’t have the facilities available to build anything too small for his own hands. And even if they could construct mechanical nanomachines, and in sufficient quantity, within the time limit, I rather suspect that Dusu’s Adonis plague would fight back hard. (I seem to recall some mention of it making the victim immune to more mundane diseases? If I’m right about that I would guess that the virus itself acts like a superpowered immune system and destroys everything else in the body).

    But he knows how to make forcefields, and has particularly studied them with relation to sonic weapons.

    I think that once the design of the nanite has been determined, construction will become unnecessary. A heterodyining Polymnia could just *play* them into existence, temporarily, inside the subject’s body. Maintain the symphony for as long as it takes to revert the DNA alterations, while a simultaneous flush of poison eliminates the virus, such that neither side can replace the other.

    Alternatively, this could all fail and Prisca could just die horribly.

    Meanwhile? There’s no chance that all the survivors would lie dormant for years and then suddenly fail one after another in the space of a few hours. Something triggered this. SomeONE triggered this. And it has become clear that individual was not Dusu. So, who benefits from these events? The only apparent result so far is this mission. Brennus, and those closest to him, rushing to the headquarters of these Fellows rapidly and without supervision from professional heroes or villains. Somebody who knew about this base, Dusu’s presence, and Brennus’s relationship with the plague. Somebody who wanted him, or one of his companions (and he has so very many very interesting people who would follow him into hell on a moment’s notice…) to be here in this base. My first guess would be Immanuel, looking for either an excuse to trim the fat of his organization, or a chance to talk to Tyche in person, given how powerful she’s established to be. But the more I see of him, the less this seems like his style, and he’s seemed genuinely surprised by events since Basil and co have entered the labs. After Tyche the next most obvious target seems to be Gloom Glimmer, but nothing has really happened to or around her here. Maybe parties unknown wanted Tyche and Immanuel to speak as a way of neutering her, to convince her to hold back on power use or quit vigilante work because she was an obstacle to their plans? Or perhaps somebody wanted to force the revelation of Basil and Amy’s relationship, so they had to put him in a situation where he would put all his cards on the table? So many possibilities, so little evidence to build from…

    • Note that Immanuel only showed genuine surprise once Journeyman (and, earlier, Emyr) got involved.

      Nanites are beyond Basil’s ability. He might be able to learn them, someday, if he actually gets a chance to study a nanite-gadgeteer’s work, or something else related, but it’s not something he’d come up with on his own, especially in his current state.

      Said it before, saying it again. Any ‘cure’ Dusu made would cause more harm than it fixed.

      There is no way in hell or high heaven Dusu could heterodyne with either Basil or Melody, much less both of them. Nevermind the fact that both of them hate/despise her, heterodyning gets exponentially more difficult for every person involved.

      Yes, her poison/virus is a mean slugger. It kills every other disease or foreign body that enters its host. Not for the sake of keeping them safe, but because it attacks EVERYTHING it can.

      • I feel bad for dusu she can’t even find a partner for the gageteer ball. A Cape and Cowl masquerade ball would interesting actually.

    • I’m sure she is beautiful on the Inside, that is what really counts. It is those nasty Adonis types that caused Hawaii……. is what she would like us to think.

  12. Her story still isn’t as tragic as some could be. Imagine if a peach themed hero thast could spawn enough peaches to end world hunger appeared a transcendent peach power. And they appeared in Southern Africa. Now that is a tragedy.

    How many subjugators would be sent?

  13. I get the feeling a cure will be made, and that this cure will lead to an actually functional super serum. . . at least I hope so. It would be nice if Basil could get this theoretical super serum. I wonder if the mental enhancements would correct the craziness in his brain.

    • Basil’s not crazy. Macian might be a little unhinged, but that was probably a side effect of not having social contact with sane people. A few years away from the Savage Six probably took care of the worst of that.

      I don’t know if Basil is actually real. I get the impression that it’s Macian’s body, and Basil is just a false personality Ember made. Osore’s fear blast paralyzes that false personality the same way it would a person, which then lets the true underlying personality through.

      I’ll bet that Macian gets a whole lot better balanced when he loses the Basil mask he’s been wearing all story.

      • I don’t think that Basil is a false Identity, when he fuses with the other fragments of his mind, he won’t just cast off his life like a mask. I’m sure he will still care for his friends, love Prisca to death, and value the connections he made.

        I would be more worried about Amy who as Journeyman said isn’t being true to herself.

      • If none of you have read my conspiracy theory yet, here it is.

        Amy is the most powerful psychic to ever live, but we dont know it because she is constantly using the bulk of her power to keep herself, Basil, and whomever else necessary in a constant fiction. Her mind is so powerful that she can create separate minds within her own mind and perhaps this ability to artificially create “minds” is what inspired Macian to make his AI.

        I theorise that when all the masks fall, we will find Amy to be far more powerful than anyone in the current story is ready for.

      • I never said that I thought Macian would abandon Basil’s friends, leave Prisca, and otherwise sever all ties. I expect the opposite, really.

        My theory is that Ember made Basil for Macian, not that it was done to him. Basil in some ways represents what Macian wanted to be. So for all that I expect Ember’s Basil-construct to get broken, I think that Macian will still try to act like Basil.

        Amy? I have no idea how she’ll handle it. You’re probably right that she’ll take it hard, though.

  14. Two Questions related to Gadgeteers:

    1)Are Technomancers a hard counter to most Gadgeteers in your universe?
    I have to imagine they are, a decent one could literally control the offense and defense of someone like Basil.
    Of course what part of technology they could control would be a factor.(Whether or not they could control only mechanically parts or software.)

    2)Could a Metahuman with a general “Advanced Mind” power mimic a low-level Gagdeteer?
    Advanced Mind being: Enhanced ability of the brain to process, accurately store, and understand information.
    It’s basically like the general physical enhancement power except for your brain and all related functions.

    • 1) like you said, depends on the particulars of the power and also the gadgeteer in question (some gadgets may not be controllable). Usually yes.

      2) kind of? While gadgets are all “possible” with science, they can get pretty weird at the higher levels. while an “advanced mind” could develop very advanced technical skills and probably also learn to maintain, perhaps even copy lesser gadgets, they’d lack that… “spark of invention” that gadgeteers have, that lets them leap ahead on the tech tree, rather than have to research and figure out every single step towards their gadgets

      • An Advanced Mind could probably really help in reverse engineering most Gagdeteer tech.
        At least the low level stuff.

  15. Okay, O fucking K. Basil scares the shit out of me. Your saying he could build grey goo nanites if he got to study them…

    He hasn’t even made a magnum opus but has no problem making AI. He probably can make dimensional technology if he was given the budget and time.

    Now let’s talk about the possible Heterodyning he could do. Basil with Prisca would certainly make sense. I’m almost positive he has managed to do so with Amy. And let’s not talk if he and Ember heterodyned because that one rip the fabric of reality.

    Now the final thing, his fucking cat, or the fucking cat. I’m assuming he partially inspired by Mister from the Dresden files. But Graymalkin takes that up to 11. He can lead people to seemingly wherever he wants in a city wrecked by Dil. Gives absolutely no fucks about a Kaiju attack and then travels time and space without caring just to appear in the middle of a battlefield between monstrous powers. At this point all Graymalkin is concerned with is letting Basil know that “hey I’m back that base better have cat food.

    I’m convinced that Graymalkin doesn’t simply just have powers, he actually doesn’t need them. And his chosen Human is almost as scary given enough time.

    • I didn’t say “no problem” making AIs. As I said, they are special.

      Also, I said BASIL hadn’t done any magnum opus and couldn’t do it. Never said that about Macian…

      • Macian, Basil, the terror that steals my socks. It doesn’t matter him and his cat are nightmares incarnate.

        The only other character whose potential scares me out of what im reading right now is Boxxy T MorningWood.

    • About gray goo… I recommend people here read Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross. It cured my fear of gray goo. Mostly because it made me realize that bacteria (and all life, really) is basically gray goo, and that never stopped humans from existing.

      Saturn’s Children is a sci-fi book, by the way. The main character is a sentient robot. Specifically, she was built to be a sexbot. The problem is that humanity went extinct in the backstory, so her main skills are kind of useless.

      • Exactly! Grey goo is completely overated. My major gripe with it is people underestimating just how slow nanites would be. Anyone whose grown microbes on a petri dish will see just how long it takes thimgs on that scale to actually get anywhere.

      • I have an idea for a sci-fi story, in which there is gray goo. Gray goo, and nanite swarms in general, are are broken into classes which tell you roughly how dangerous/capable they are:

        Class 1: Mechanical bacterial. They devour whatever they are on until they run out of some critical element (copper, silicon, semi-conductor dopants, etc.), then they go dormant until they get moved elsewhere. Most of what they need can be found in computer chips, though, so they’ll destroy electronics quickly. They can be life-threatening, but are generally more of a nuisance.

        Class 2: Slime molds. The colonies grow out in radial spikes to explore for resources, and form trade networks to share critical elements. Unlike class 1’s, they share energy, allowing the colonies to extend into dark places, such as under the colony.

        Class 3: Macroscopic life. These organize into larger structures, typically sensors to detect distant resources, and means of launching ‘spores’ to other objects. Occasionally, they develop weapons to destroy any people/spacecraft that approach.

        Class 4: Humans. These are basically class 3’s with enough collective processing power to emulate a human mind. All these in the story are emulating human minds, though, so they are usually less of a threat than the class 3’s.

        Class 5: Only one of these exists. It is an AI with thousands of times the processing power of a human brain. It is also the reason that nobody lives on Earth, anymore. Superstitious people pray to it as the god of gray goo. It is currently trapped in Earth’s gravity well, since humans keep using KEWs to destroy any structure that looks capable of getting something into orbit.

      • Shouldn’t there be something between Class 4 and 5? Like, several human-like brains (or at least human-level intelligences) chained together, networked. Not on the level of a full AI like you describe for Class 5, but more than just human?

        Who built the class 5 to begin with, and why didn’t they put in a killswitch?

      • Well I don’t know Tie, maybe putting a kill switch on a God like Ai isn’t that easy :p. A certain Godking seems to be hard to keep dead.

        Maybe I should just head on over to mars and pull that spear out.

      • Class 5 is kind of ill-defined. It’s basically anything that is significantly more than human, but with no upper limit. So a handful of human-like brains in a network might still be class 4. Class 5 was only made for that one AI, and there’s been no need to refine the scale.

        The only class 5, Ladon, was built by other, weaker, AIs. Those AIs only avoid being called class 4’s because they aren’t housed on nanite swarms.

        Those weaker AIs have killswitches that would let their maker kill them. Their programming forced them to include the same killswitch in Ladon, though. So that creator could probably kill Ladon in an instant.

        Unfortunately, that creator was cryonicly frozen a few decades before Ladon was made. And then his icy prison got lost for a few hundred years. And he tended to care for his AIs far more than people, so he probably wouldn’t use the killswitch anyway.

        The main character, by the way, is a class 4 nanoswarm in denial. He knows he’s got nannites… but he’s not willing to admit that his human body isn’t a vital part of him anymore.

      • Oh no you don’t you can’t just pull a Tenant out of their world. If that is what the sleeper is we all know what sort of anarchy an awake tenant would cause.

      • Wasn’t it confirmed that the sleeper had female human DNA? Sounds more like some poor super who had real bad luck with her manifestation.

      • Sleeper has a female torso for a tongue, don’t remember anything being said about DNA though.

      • Yeah, that was never said.

        Though, to be perfectly fair, it wouldn’t mean a thing. Tenants can have human DNA if it suits them.

      • Any reason why the humans havent bombarded Earth into a ball of molten rock? Or is that a work in progress?

        Also radiation should be quite effective at breaking nanites. So if you have nukes (especially dirty ones) you can probably sterilize the surface for a few centuries.

      • The nanites would very likely be based largely underground, and only using the surface layers to gather solar radiation which they then channel underground to “feed” the main body.

      • Ladon’s main mass IS deep underground. It’s mostly geo-thermal powered, though, so it has little need for solar radiation. Most of its surface activity is trying to launch things into orbit, and eavesdropping on human communication.

        Human technology and coordination aren’t quite up to bombarding the Earth into a ball of molten rock. They are mostly at the level of keeping the planet in a constant nuclear winter.

        For all that it takes place about 400-500 years in the future, most technology is not nearly as advanced as you’d expect. That’s because humans have slid into almost a dark age after the population was reduced from over 10 billion mostly on Earth, to under 500 million scattered throughout the solar system.

  16. Haha, catching up with this Basil’s small time life is done. His identity is blown out, Hecate will probably leave his team. Amy will be at odds with him, and herself. All of the junior heroes will face backlash, Brennus won’t be able to be independent anymore, and

    The Six will catch wind of this. They already want his ass, but when his forcefield and drone tech are realized. Everyone will be coming for a piece of his armored booty.

    To top it off he might not even save Prisca.

    Tie you really outdid yourself with the consequences this Arc will have. The chapters dealing with the fallout of this Arc is going to be delicious.

    • I suspect that you’ve hit on the reason that the next arc is called “Breaking Point”,

      I think that team BGHT is pretty much gone, at this point. G seems to be dying, T is retiring, and H is pissed at B.

      I think Amy will stick with Basil, though, which will drive the UH away from him. If things get bad enough, he might be seriously temped to join The Dark.

    • I really don’t think that Brennus won’t be independent anymore. From the very beginning he refused to join a team and had good reasons for it. I highly doubt that he, or Macian, would change their opinion now. Going after him would be extremely difficult, and whoever tried to abduct him would have to get it right on the first try considering how much damage a rogue gadgeteer out for revenge could do. And that’s not even considering his sister’s connection to the Dark, who is known for looking after his employees’ families.

      And the Six decided that the would attack NL before this arc even started. I highly doubt that they will hear anything about this little field trip before they arrive. So far only die Gefährten and the UH know about Basil/Macian and both of them will probably try to hide a powerful gadgeteer from their enemies for as long as they can.

      • It all depends on how pro-active The Dark is going to be in the aftermath of this mission. Once he hears about the details (and I see no reason why Gloomy or Amy would/could hide anything from him), he has a prime opportunity to talk with Basil again. At which point he could reveal what he knows of Amy, their parents etc.
        If that doesn’t kick start some unraveling process in Basil’s mind, then I don’t know what would (short of Ember of course).

        If Basil and Amy got both The Dark and Lady Light to help them (and those two might just be curious enough to help), then reaching Ember would be child’s play… except that almost no one is even aware of that connection. Nor does anyone but the Savage Six know much about Macian.

        Btw, consequences… if it becomes public knowledge that Basil is the brother of Mindstar, then Prisca’s mother will not allow him to see her again.

      • I don’t think that Basil and Amy would need LL and the Dark to get to Amber. After this revelation I don’t think that it will take much more to reboot Basils mind. And I think that Macian should be able to get through most of the Protectorate defenses without too much trouble. If you now also add Amy, who was able to fight LL before her mind was messed up, and maybe Tyche (making defense systems malfunction would be a good opportunity to get rid of some bad luck) and maybe also Hecate, who I assume would be willing to cooperate with Amy if it’s to save Prisca, they should stand a reasonable chance.

        And that’s assuming that Ember doesn’t help them from the inside. We know that he has been watching Basil, so I am half expecting him to just teleport himself out once he is done doing whatever he is doing in there.

      • Macian could NOT break through the protectorate defenses without much trouble. In fact, unless he has a few months of prep time and lots of resources, he wouldn’t break through at all.

        Keep in mind that the only breach that has ever happened was done by a custom-picked team of metahumans (including, in the background, Immanuel – he set it up) and even they barely managed to.

        And the defenses were improved since then

      • Wait. I think that you told us that there were multiple breaches over the years. And wasn’t there someone who just flew in on her own to have Ember revive her daughter?

        And I never said Macian could break through all the defenses. But by just putting his fusion reactor on a truck and surrounding it with a really strong forcefield he should be able to block most projectiles and/or lasers. If his team helps him deal with anything that gets through his forcefield I think he has reasonable chances to make it through.

      • There were, in the earlier days of the Protectorate. Then they beafed it up to what was seen in “Worlds Apart” and “Worlds Adrift” and that (the protectorate you’ve come to know) was never breached until Worlds Adrift.

        I really ought to make a proper timeline at some point and put this all out to avoid confusion

      • I should probably also mention that they have multiple ways to deal with force-fields at the protectorate, both due to general preparedness and in case Sovereign might try to grab Ember

  17. Holy crap. Even an instant kill won’t put Elysium down? If he couldn’t just casually shut her down, she might almost be in Emyr’s league. I did love the description of how Journeyman blocked her ultimate attack, though. “He punched it.” Heh. Reminds me of the Exalted RPG.

    I also note that Immanuel referred to this Elysium as a “doll.” Implies that Gloomy’s going to be disappointed if she ever does find it, thinking Big Sis is in there somewhere…

    “No, you must finish what you began. Dusu is near. Go.” H gestured towards the door.
    He.

    Wow, Amy humble? That might be the most amazing thing in this arc yet. 😛

    “Stop being a villain.” LOL. I love it, and how insulted she is by the mere suggestion. God, how frustrating that’d be for Hecate if she actually did it. “Be yourself… all masks fall.” Wow. This guy is Foreshadowing Incarnate, isn’t he?

    Ha ha ha, good Lord, what did that cat do to Amy?

    “Hey kids!” he shouted, suddenly, making them stop. “Remember – the only thing you need to blame yourself for are your own choices!” Excellent advice!

    Dusu is… really aggravating, isn’t she? I’m both eager and dreading to find out what she thinks is so funny, and that even MINDSTAR thinks is crossing a moral event horizon.

    “haggart, flesh-less head – ”
    Haggard. Haggart has two meanings, both entirely different from what I think you meant. And oh God, there is no cure, is there?

    It was all for nothing. All they just went through… for something that doesn’t exist. I can’t think of a word foul enough to put here.

    “Only chance I’ve got left is getting to that retard in Britain, only even if I could get close enough, I doubt that faggot would be willing to heal me, you know?”
    Yep, more confirmation that the poison just made her appearance match her soul. Too bad it didn’t work like that for everyone else.

    “You never had to attack this place! You never had to fight! You could’ve just called me up, sweetie, and I would’ve sent a fucking plane!”
    *bangs head on wall* This is what Journeyman’s last line was about, wasn’t it?

    Fuck. That ending. It would have been poetic justice if she’d laughed herself into a stroke or heart attack. I was kind of hoping for it, the way she was wheezing.

    I wonder what horribly ill-advised thing Basil is going to try next? At this point, I’m honestly expecting him to get a cure and arrive just minutes after she passes away. That’d be par for the course with their luck so far (barring the awesome superpower). Wonder if she could swan song one last trip into Gilgul…

    On the comments front, has Severance actually made an appearance, or do we just know snippets about him? What does he actually do, some kind of uber-nullifier?

    Diantha beat the Dark, but Lady Light could beat her? And what you said implies that it’s not a rock-paper-scissors, but flat overpowering (unless I misinterpreted)? Interesting. I’d kind of assumed Gwen and Petey were equally powerful. Obviously he wasn’t going for the kill, Gwen would never forgive him!

    • Fixed both, thank you very much.

      I’m not going to hand out the details to the incident, but I AM going to repeat that it involved her underwear drawer and a bottle of hundred-year-old scotch.

      In a way, you could say it made everyone else’s appearance match HER soul.

      Dusu is way too big a bitch to give herself a heart attack and spare them the trouble.

      Severance hasn’t made an appearance yet. His power is unknown, even in-universe. He’s kept its exact nature a secret.

      To be fair, if the Dark had been going for the kill, all-in, he likely would have beaten her. But he wouldn’t kill Gwen’s daughter, no.

    • I don’t know, as a fellow ghoul, I think Dusu is hot stuff. I wouldn’t mind getting an up close look at her soul.

  18. Hey tieshaunn is there ANY way a gadgeteer could turn into a contriver in theory? And what would be required to make it happen?

    • I’ve mentioned before that a metahuman can basically “reboot” their powers under very, very rare circumstances and get something new (though usually with a similar theme).

      It’s come up before for Contrivers who break through their delusions, but theoretically, the right confluence of events could cause a gadgeteer’s power to “reboot” and come out a different way, including as a contriver.

      You just can’t have someone be both gadgeteer and contriver at the same time.

      • If we put a cdntipede in their ear and taught them the joy of counting backwards from 1000. It might help them.

  19. I’m pretty sure Prisca would try to kill someone for even entertaining the thought of liking Dusu.

    How would Prisca react to Dusu offering to blow basil if he cured her?

    • Brennus shouldn’t be to stingy to rebuff dusu’s advances he might find himself in the dating game soon if Prisca dies.

      Hecate wouldn’t date him now that Amy is out if the bag.

      Dalia is all sorts of messed with the reveal of her powers.

      Melody would probably date him, but that would be too awkward with Gloomy around.

      Gloomy isn’t stable enough and her one true love is melody.

      Atrocity is to mature to date a teenager.

      Most of the other options are taken.

      Dusu is a fine woman to date given the other options.

      • I’m like, 95% that Atrocity would also be incest. Not that that might bother her, but it would just be one more layer of squick for Basil, on top of an already massive squick sandwich.

      • Dusu getting cured, and feeling very, (ahem) grateful to Brennus sounds pretty damn funny. Most of that is just because I think the entire rest of the cast, including Basil, would have major problems with it. I don’t think that it could happen outside an omake, though.

        Atrocity… Not only am I unable to see it, I’m pretty sure that Basil would consider a relationship with her to be the stuff of nightmares. That might actually work if Ties wanted to turn the story into a dark harem/horror/comedy (Atrocity as a yandere, Dusu as the clumsy ditz, and Hecate as a tsundere).

        I could see a relationship with Melody. I don’t think that Gloomy would be much of a problem, considering that I doubt her power really understands the concept of monogamy, and she is at least friendly toward Basil. Instead, the problem would be that the UH leadership is probably not going to like him much after this, so they will make it difficult.

        A relationship with Gloomy… Would be a little strange. Probably spawn some interesting drama, though, when you consider the reactions of her parents, the UH, and Melody.

        That said, Basil has plenty of other options. Like… Um… Hold on a second. I’ll think of someone… Uh… the Matriarch? She was thinking about trying to recruit him…

      • I don’t think Tie likes the idea of harems. He explained his dislike of Tenchi Muyo a little while ago.

      • Oh my lard, Atrocity and Hemming ARE a couple!! that’s…I have no word and Amy and Macian grew up in the Six’s dimension, Oooooooooh boy.

      • Wait. Atrocity is in a relationship? And it’s not a case of “married to her work”? Oh god. Well, I think I know who Basil and Amy’s parents are. The S6 have a gadgeteer, and a shapechanger. Basil is a gadgeteer, and Amy has some shapeshifting. Atrocity has some precognition, and Amy has some level of remote viewing.

        I’m not sure where Amy got the rest of her psychic package, though. Unless maybe she is only Basil’s half-sister, and Mindfuck is her father. Which might piss off Atrocity and Slowburn/Fire-Burial enough that it would explain Amy’s old horrific injuries.

        And I generally dislike harem stories as well. The ‘good’ ones feature some interesting cast members, except the ‘camera’ is stuck following around some loser. The bad ones… make you hate the entire cast. The only way to handle a harem plot, IMO, is to relegate it to a sub plot.

      • Oh ? Not one of the Six ? well damn…so is it a man ? or a woman ? or we do not know anymore because either their power(if the person is a meta obviously) or Atrocity modified them too much ?

        And for that matter does that person Know they are dating Atrocity or do they think she is someone else ? Also can atrocity operate multiple bodies at once ?(hence being withsaid person while doing Sinister Six stuff, I mean given her speciality it might be possible…also is Kraquok single or not ? This question being totally not related to the rest of course)

  20. If Prisca does die, which would be tragic.

    And If Brennus eventually heals enough to love again, if he should get serious with another girl, Gloomy or Melody are my next picks for Brennus.

    Once he has found some peace again, then Ember can wake up and revive Prisca for maximum suffering as he has to chose between his first and second love. Muhaha.

    • “Or?” Why not “and?” I’m sure Gloomy, at least, wouldn’t mind that option!

      On the other hand, I still hold out hope for him and Vasiliki, assuming they can ever reconcile from what she must see as a massive betrayal.

      • They might be able to reconcile. Depends on how much time Vasiliki spends on introspection. Some facts:

        1. She seems more or less okay with Gloomy, even though her father is the King of Supervillains, and the direct boss of Mindstar.

        2. She’s pissed at Mindstar because she killed her cousin. So, family relations. Basil never said anything because Mindstar is his sister. So family relations, again. Taking out her anger on Basil seems a little hypocritical.

        Vasiliki might be pissed off for now, but give her a couple weeks to think about it, and I think she’ll cool down. And that’s before you consider what Dalia’s power might do if she decides that she misses her friends.

      • Not to mention all all the weird stuff surrounding Brennus and Mindstar that the Dark mentioned. Shit never “really” happened and all that.

        Plus Mindstar goes berserk too. So its possible that like with Brennus somebody else is at the helm when she beats people to pulp for the heck of it.

      • I put my vote in for Mellody as the primary Prisca replacement candidate. I would say he gets along with her more naturally than he does with any other girl in the series. Her being a gadgeteer has a lot to do with that, but there is nothing wrong with having a lot in common with a partner.
        Having a partner that can join him in his primary passtime seems like a really good idea. She is also fairly pleasant as a person, and if they make babies, those babies might manifest as ultra-gadgeteers or at the very least have significant mental abilities upon manifesting.

        Gloomy is too dangerous to date. She is a fine girl, but she has a lot going on. Basil does not need more drama in his life.

      • And dating the girl with the effed-up family situation that put so much stress on her as to make her manifest is better?

        Keep in mind, it was her FAMILY that caused her manifestation. Not outside stressors.

      • Who says he even needs to meet her family?

        Also, it would be cool to see him connect with a member of the Drakainas.

      • @Nanana
        No-no-no. Basil doesnt need an accomplice in the lab. We already know he needs a nanny instead.

    • To be fair, about half of us were shipping things other than Basil-Prisca long before now. I’m mostly participating because of a rule I’ve learned about fanfiction: The bizarre pairings can be interesting, because the author has to get creative to make them work. The canon/fanon pairings tend to make for boring romantic subplots because there’s no need to be original.

      • Brennus x Melody

        Brennus x Macian

        Brennus x Gloomy

        Brennus x Hecate

        Brennus x Tyche

        Brennus x Bree

        Brennus x Matriarch

        Brennus x Ember

        Brennus x VRA

        Oh the possibilities

      • Ok, I’m not gonna comment on most of those, but… Brennus x Vra? Brennus x MATRIARCH?

        Why? They’ve never, ever interacted! They have no connection!

        With Bree, there is at least her being a major fixture in the cape world. Plus the connection through Gloomy. But why the Matriarch?

      • Shipping doesn’t need a reason it just needs a fan base.

        At least I left out.

        Brennus x Amy

        Brennus x Eudocia

      • Basil x Amy? Ewwwwww. She’s his SISTER. Whether or not they’re related by blood.

        Basil x Eudocia? Ewwwwww. She’s basically his daughter. Nevermind the fact that she’s a COMPUTER (kinda).

      • Hey, Brennus x Matriarch isn’t that out there. I mean, she’s about the right age, and he’s already on her radar as a potential recruit. You might not have directly provided any ship-fuel, but it’s easily in the realm of imagination… Unlike Dusu, Atrocity, and freaking DiL.

        I wonder if there’s going to be a minor flame war between the people who call her Bree and those who used DiL…

      • She’s 5 years older than he is! She lives halfway across the country!

        He’s not a target for recruitment! That would be just general “gotta have gadgeteers” sentiment!

      • Is a romance with Bree possible? I guess the first person to “penetrate” her defenses would be a legend😍

      • I think I touched a nerve, there.

        The Matriarch might be 5 years older than Basil… That’s still in the same generation. Compare some of the other names people have been throwing out, who are old enough to be Basil’s mother.

        And who cares about the distance? Basil has gone to the West Coast, and is currently over the Pacific. A plot leaving him in Chicago for a week would surprise no one.

        That said… I’m surprised no one has suggested Basil x Bluebell x Glick.

      • The twins both have a crush on Ember. Though in different ways and for different reasons.

        Not that it’s likely that THAT is going to go anywhere, the way things are.

      • Okay with the Abyss coming I’m assuming that the world is going to need all thne power it can muster.

        What is going to be more difficult?

        Getting past the wall and pulling Ember out of dreamland.

        Finding out a way to communicate with DiL so that she start to learn and grow past a monstrous power tantrum.

      • You’re reeeeeally close to making me bang my head on the wall until I forget everything about this. And where’d you get the next chapter then, huh?

      • That video gave me all the diseases in the world then wouldn’t even let me die as a common courtesy.

      • So in other words, you guys agree that it is an accurate commentary on how shipping gets? I felt about the same when I watched it…

      • I just want you guys to know that reading your comments brought laughter to my blackened heart. Enough to make up for having watched that terrible video myself.

      • The twins both have a crush on Ember. Though in different ways and for different reasons.

        Not that it’s likely that THAT is going to go anywhere, the way things are.

        Alright, screw the current plot. I want the next chapter to be a romantic comedy about Ember trying to adjust to the world after spending all of puberty locked behind a wall.

  21. I figured out Graymalkin’s power. He has the ability to teleport himself or other objects with as much mass as he has to any location where someone has thought about cats. He can also reform his body from any of thosse locations. OP enough?

  22. We’ve heard more than once that Probability Manipulators like Tyche are usually pretty powerful.
    But we’ve never really seen any big league Heroes or Villains with that power.

    Are you planning on introducing any of them soon? Or are they really just that rare?

    • They’re rare and very rarely top tier. Yes, they ar e powerful, but in the end, they’re not frontliners. They need others to shore up their power, and they can be pretty unreliable, so while they are sought after and considered very dangerous, you will rarely find them in the big leagues

      • How strong can Probability Manipulators get?

        Could a especially strong one make an enemy spontaneously combust?

        Or can they not affect things with a virtually 0% or 100% chance of happening?(Like if Tyche got into a fist-fight with ‘LL. No amount of the probability manipulation she’s displayed would help her.)

      • Tie listed Tyche as Armageddon class given the circumstances.

        I know that those classifications are not canon to Brennus, but she could still rip the major leagues a new asshole on a lucky roll and the right tool.

      • More like the right situation.

        If she’s just in a standard brawl with a relatively non-volitiel environment, then her power can only do so much.

      • Nah. A meteor could hit her opponent. Or DiL could suddenly appear and start a rampage that also kills her opponent. And that’s ignoring obvious things like heart attacks, slipping, falling debris,…

      • Pretty sure Tyche’s power isn’t that strong.

        Plus DiL is apparently shielded from all but one specific kind of power.

  23. Thinking back on the Raging Heart, it ate a person’s mind….. How the fuck is that related to gagiteering, and why is it so scary that his mind is a deathzone to all but the high tier Mental Powers.

    • I didn’t think that the Raging Heart was at all related to Basil’s power. That entire mindscape is the creation of some telepath. The Raging Heart is either a defense mechanism that telepath included, or a manifestation of some prior trauma.

      • Nah! I think Amys mind is a similar construct as Basils. Something Ember did maybe?

  24. Im back bitches!!! Man i should get organs removed more often if it means coming baack to 7 new chapters and a ship war that has Ties threatenhng blunt force labotonizing himself.(Breamus x Lady Light, a couger who goes beyond PLUS ULTRA!!!). So on to more serious stuff. How the hell can a Diantha clone have her powers? WOG is genetics has nothing to do with powers. so simply creating a clone would acomplish nothing. So either this is not a clone or they somehow found a way to find and manipulate Tenants.(always great news to learn that your enemies can fuck with gods.). i love Journeyman!! though im anoyed i didnt get the Darkwing Duck reference til reading the comment section.(bad 90’s kid, bad. shame on you.) Is it mean of me to be really looking forward to all the fallout caused by the revelations in this arc? i really hope Prisca doesnt die. i actually like her a lot. but i cant think of any real way that Basil can save her now. Ember is her only real chaance and he is too out of it, too far, and too protected to help.(Sigh, Fair thee well gret warrior. wa hardly knew thee)

    • Welcome back.

      I’m not going to bring up the age thing, since for Lady Light, there’s only a handful of similarly old people to date to begin with, but I am going to note that the only relationship she’s ever had with someone who wasn’t legal yet was when she herself wasn’t legal…

      • Dark and Light, before the twilight.

        A budding war romance of two lovers.

        Get to it Tie.

  25. Can you give us the general power-set of Lady Light and The Dark?

    I can’t imagine it’d really spoil anything; I just want to get a feel for how strong they actually are compared to the now several beings we’ve met who can apparently beat them with ease.
    (Not gonna lie; I’m getting a little whiff of the Worf Effect for those two.)

    • Their official powersets are:

      The Dark: Darkwraith creation. He can spawn an apparently unlimited number of darkwraiths, which are either intangible or physical, 3- or 2-dimensional living shadows with varying degrees of intelligence and power. The smarter they are, the bigger/more varied the powers they have, the longer it takes him to make one (he can spawn hundreds of lesser wraiths in seconds for a zerg rush, or take a few minutes to create a major wraith with multiple powers and human-like intelligence. Their only limitation appears to be that they only have a limited charge, having to return to him periodically for being recharged; though the time they can stay apart from him and how many he can sustain at a time appears to vary.
      His wraiths generally share a weakness that is specific to Lady Light’s constructs, which ignore all their defenses, allowing for instant-kills. This weakness appears to not apply to wraiths that are in direct contact with him (such as those he constantly wears in lieu of a costume).

      Lady Light: Originally, she only seemed to be inhumanly tough, slightly stronger than normal and capable of generating explosions from any point on her body (preferably her hands). This is actually the reason why she started wearing skintight clothes, and thus set the trend for capes in the setting – she could only protect anything close to her skin from her explosions, and kept shredding her capes and jackets. As her control over her powers (or perhaps her powers in general) grew, she gained energy blasts, true flight (she used to launch herself around the place via explosions), then simple force-fields and finally, during world war 2, she learned how to forge hard-light constructs (armor, weapons, other items), which she could then imbue with a variety of powers – such as a crown which projects an intimidating aura, a spear which shoots out, turning into lightning before retracting back into her hands, a bow which fires homing arrows that can freeze, burn, shock, petrify or apply a variety of other effects, and so on. All her constructs are made of a gold-white light. Taking her constructs away from her deprives her of their abilities; she cannot recall them, only dissolve and then reforge them; though these days, she can forge them at near instant speed.
      She is suspected of being immortal, or at least nearly so – in the aftermath of her final fight against Weisswald, she was, among other things, missing a good fourth of her head, a leg, seventy percent of her right arm’s skin and muscles, most of her abdomen and the right half of her ribcage and lungs, yet she survived and made a full recovery. The “nearly so” is because she definitely avoids taking blows to the head, so it’s suspected that sufficient damage to her brain could kill her (a common weakness among metahumans with enhanced durability).

      Both Lady Light and the Dark are suspected of either having created wraiths/constructs with, or possess some innate esper or meta ability which lets them fuck with other espers, particularly precogs; Lady Light in particular is famous for being able to defy prophecy.

      Also, they are both legitimate geniuses in their own right, capable of creating devices on the level of lesser gadgeteers; both have been able to consistently outwit even power-supported schemers on their natural wits alone.

      • That healing factor ain’t nothing to sneeze at…

        Surprised you didn’t mention any Adonis power with how unnaturally beautiful they both seem to be.(Amy dropping to her knees in extascy from being touched by The Dark. And Basil noting LL’s raw beauty just from photos. )

        Though I guess there are other powers that could get similar results.

      • Amy didn’t SEE the Dark’s true face. It was more a reaction to his power.

        The Dark is not especially beautiful. He’s an attractive man, or perhaps “striking” would be more accurate, but that’s more nurture than nature.

        As for Gwen’s beauty, there’s more to it than just powers, plus, it’s really not that important – the question was about their powers in relation to the powerhouses revealed lately; being super-hot doesn’t really factor in there.

      • I have a lot of fetishes in general, including an apparent shipping fetish so I know Amy’s pain.

      • Personally I suspect that the more Darkwraiths the Dark generates, the more tenuous his control becomes, creating a soft limit.

        I’ve noticed over time that LL seems to win out over the Dark when it comes to any sort of direct confrontation, which bugs me on a level because I feel like they’re meant to be equals and opposites. Is that an intentional function of the Dark being more flexible, being able to be effectively be in several places at once, and therefore losing out in terms of immediate power (going for breadth over depth)?

        And you hinted at abilities growing over time. Is this a known thing in setting? Baseline strength increasing with age and/or training? We know that gadgeteers can scale up over time, with general tech levels and as they advance their own work. (Wyrm I think is the best example).

        Actually, are other power types growing? Considering an average gadgeteer in the 40s was probably working with radio, and maybe being a bit steam/dieselpunky, and now they’re building fantastic sci-fi tech… it seems reasonable to assume that they’ll continue to grow. Does this mean an ‘average’ gadgeteer will start to eclipse an ‘average’ meta from another category?

      • It’s known that powers tend to grow over time, if not in depth than in breadth, to belabour those terms again. However, a lot of people assume it’s just the metahumans figuring out new ways to apply their powers (which is often the case).

        In short, it’s not a secret, it is known, but it’s not something people always assume to be true. Also, it doesn’t apply to ALL metahumans – not everyone grows stronger over time.

    • I got a bit of the Worf Effect, too. But then again, both The Dark and LL are still alive. Most of the people who ‘beat’ one of them no longer is. With DiL as a notable exception.

      • This. Whether or not they are more powerful, in terms of raw power levels, they are still alive. After nearly ninety years of being on the frontlines, they are STILL THERE.

      • Jake is still alive, Madame Peacock is still Alive. Wyrm is still Alive. The connection is that they are all connected.

  26. What is the longest the Dark has ever taken to make a wraith? Could he take several days or even years to make a wraith that is powerful enough to not even need other wraiths?

      • You know I kind of want to compare other fictional characters using your role-playing guidelines. I just love all the power interactions and want to see how other web novel characters would hold up in the Brennus Universe.

        Barring characters that are just to Insanley Powerful, like most Xianxia protagonists.

      • Awww. I will just assume he has been in the process of creating a super-wraith for the past 100+ years and will only finalize it’s creation in a time of dire need like when the world is about to end. I will postulate that this wraith will be one he would not only wear, but it would merge with him completely down to the atomic level and amplify all his powers to a great degree as well as increasing the powers of every wraith already in existence. That will be my head-canon for now until you reveal otherwise.

  27. Regarding Hecate’s new position;
    I feel I should remind everyone that she is aware of the alterations to Basils, *and Amys* memories. More, she was likely reminded of such by Journeyman’s comments to Mindstar.

    Speculation: Hecate will leave Brennus’ group, but will be able to temper her hatred for Mindstar, given the new information.
    She will join the junior UH team, and alter her goal ‘fixing’ the minds of Basil & his sister.

  28. Why does Irene care about her siblings so much again? I get that they’re family obviously.
    But she doesn’t know them that well and knows that she died years ago; I’d expect at least some suspicion. Anything but just walking forward with presumably blind faith.
    Maybe even a little anger at seeing an obvious clone of her sister.

    Her outbursts about DiL/Bree being even more confusing; She literally has never met her and has only known and heard of her as an unstoppable mass-murderer(Even The Dark and Lady Light can’t claim to know DiL considering she just burst out of the womb and started destroying cities), knowing that any potential meeting will likely result in her brutal murder.
    ^There is no real familial or emotional bond that could have formed there. They are sisters in genetics and name alone; they might as well be strangers.

    I just want to know where these visceral and obviously deeply rooted emotional responses are coming from.

    • The situation is a little more complicated than that.

      Diantha: LL really loved her, just like she loves Irene and it shows. I mean, she built an entire school in her honour, just to start with. Anyone who interacts with her for any length of time in an intimate manner (such as a daughter with her mother) is going to realise that she deeply misses her firstborn, and hasn’t truly gotten over the loss. Note that Irene specifically talked about how happy it’d make her mother – not herself – if Diantha came back. There are also other people whom Irene knows who miss Diantha (such as her boyfriend, the one with whom she danced when she manifested). Plus, I think it’s been established by now that Irene puts a LOT of weight on family (she gets that from Peter).

      Bree: this one’s a little weirder. And sadder, I guess. Irene has grown up in Bree’s shadow, always fearing and feeling others fear that she might turn into another DiL. For her, defending “Bree”, insisting that she be talked about by her actual name, is really more about herself – she’s deathly afraid that one day, people will treat her like that as well, and so lashes out against people who use it for Bree.
      Also, she can sympathise over having a power that you’re not fully – or at all – in control of. Obviously she’s spent a LOT of time thinking about Bree and the implications of her behaviour and the implications for herself.

      I hope that clears things up a bit.

      • Poor Gloomy. I kind of assumed it was something like that, what with people (cough Outstep, cough jerk) calling her “DiL 2.0” and the similarity in their powers. I really do feel sorry for her, and by extension, Bree.

        I just thought of something… if her suppressor pills are placebos, how did they work on her when she first manifested in the womb? A fetus has no idea it’s being given medicine.

      • Who said she has an accurate accounting of what was done when she was still in the womb? Seeing how the whole point was to reinforce the placebos?

      • Huh. Why did I not think of that… hooom. No chance of spoilers for what really happened, I assume? 😛

  29. The ending was just awesome. Props for that, I loved it.

    The rest was rather terrible. Basil with so much plot armor you send a god to save him. The Journeyman fresh from killing the Godking. The walking plothole of the Journeyman, who is completely invincible with all powers, why you don’t just have him wave his hand and kill the sleeper and all the bad meta is a giant gaping plothole.

    Three of strongest gadgeteers defeated by someone Basil basically swatted with ease. The fact they had no defenses or anything.

    Just rough all round

    • We know too little about the Journeyman for him to qualify as a plothole. You seem to think that he’s capable of literally anything, but just because we don’t know the exact limits of his powers doesn’t mean they don’t exist and just because he beat one of the strongest metahumans in one circumstance doesn’t mean he’s capable of beating anyone that metahuman could have beaten. Not only is the rock paper scissors nature of some powers countering others more important than raw strength but Journeyman explicitly stated that the circumstances give him an advantage.

      FYI, from what we know of the Journeyman he doesn’t have all powers, just one incredibly versatile one, which fits with a lot of the other top metahumans, like Lady Light, the Dark, and the Gosling. Gloom called him the most powerful example of the mover power type.

      I assume you’re talking about Mindstar defeat beating Syrinx, Dust and the Ascendant with the last bit, but Basil didn’t swat her with ease. He attacked her in a situation in which he had a number of significant advantages and the story clearly describes how he did it and how they failed to exploit the same things he did. Remember that Basil only won because he knew her power is limited by sight, and he only knew that because she told him. Dust and Co don’t exactly have the advantage of being her trusted brother.

      Again, fights aren’t direct comparisons of raw strength with anybody with a lower number losing. This isn’t DBZ, it’s HeroAca, if you’ll permit me the anime comparison.

      • The original version of Journeyman had TWO powers. Then I realised that one of them, with some creative application, could do everything the latter could do everything the other could do, and now he only has one.

      • Journeyman slapped down the god-king while they were in a pocket dimension / space distortion / personal domain

        He slapped down Elysium, whose entire thing seems to be space/time distortions. He said that this tapped him out.

        His thing seems to be space/time distortions, and it’s likely he’s Jake, one of the original metas.

        is this god in the machine? close, anyway, but it’s likely a machine with limits.

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