B13.18 Call of the Sleeper

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He’d failed.

He’d failed, and it had all been pointless to begin with.

Basil staggered back, away from Dusu. Not hearing, or even really seeing how the others reacted. He just turned away, looking around the room without seeing anything.

There were voices, in the distance, but he paid them no mind, ignored the hand that reached for his arm, didn’t even register who it was.

She has no cure. She has no cure. I can’t come up with one, I’ve never been that good with actual biology. Maybe, if she had the actual formula… but she said she put it all online already, and I’ve read everything there is on the plague online. Prisca only has a few days left, at most.

Life support could only keep her going for so long, especially after the additional damage Hastur’s attack had caused. She certainly wouldn’t survive a flight to England. Even if Gloom Glimmer teleporter her along with all the life support… no, she’d never survive the journey to Ember himself. And even then…

They’d opened the Protectorate again, on a limited basis, after he’d revived that baby, but… it was a toss-up whether he’d actually react to anyone who managed to get close enough. More than once, one of the countless hopeful had weathered the pressure of his empathic assault, managed to get the remains of a loved one all the way to him… only to be promptly ignored until they passed out or went mad.

Basil didn’t know whether he could make it through that, not with the way his mind had gotten screwed up, but he would do it.

However, there was no way Prisca could survive it. If he took her in while she was still alive, in her current condition, it’d likely kill her, if it didn’t destroy her mind.

Ember could fix that, obviously. Assuming he got to him.

What if I put her into stasis? the thought came suddenly. Put her into a state where she’s not truly conscious. It would protect her from his aura…

Don’t be stupid. Just wait for her to d-d-die and take her corpse to him.

The whole point of this is to make sure she doesn’t die in the first place!

Then forget Ember and the Protectorate! You need to focus on working out a cure!

How!? If even Dusu couldn’t… she’s been working on this for half a decade! I have days, at most! Nevermind that I’m not a bio-gadgeteer to begin with and this is, is, it’d take ten bio-gadgeteers to work this out!

Then find a non-biological solution!

How!?! I’ve tried so much… I can’t just replace her infected body parts, because every part is infected in three different ways? Removing her brain to later implant it into a new body, even if I could perform surgery like that, would be meaningless because her brain is also infected!

That’s it. Her brain, that’s the solution!

Of course… I can’t physically remove her brain, but I could scan it, save a complete engram of her brainwaves… it would require more storage than even my computers have, but I’m certain I could convince Mrs Fion to buy any materials I might need…

I save the complete engram. That’ll buy me time, it’ll allow me to figure out how to create a new, healthy body for her, then copy it over… since it’ll be made while she’s still alive…

It can only be made while she’s still alive.

That way, she’ll never have to experience death… whether or not we can get her to Ember…

I can call this Plan A, and getting her to Ember would be Plan B.

There is another issue. Would she want that? To be copied over to a new body? Technically, she wouldn’t be the same Prisca as before. Her mother might not want that, either.

I’m not a philosopher nor a priest. Leave the existential debate to someone else.

But shouldn’t any proposed solution be considered in light of Prisca’s wishes? She is the one whose life is at stake. Copying her mind into a new body – and it’s far-fetched to believe I could do that – only to create a copy of her which does not consider herself to be the Prisca would only serve my own peace of mind.

Stasis.

Like on Tartarus Star. That might be a solution. I could perhaps work out a stasis chamber, or maybe trade Stasis himself for the designs or a complete chamber… or perhaps Mrs Fion could buy one off of him… we could keep Prisca alive indefinitely while I work on finding a cure.

Stasis is no hero though. He works for the government and he is committed full-time to maintaining Tartarus Star. His technology is considered a national secret; it is very unlikely that he’d be allowed to reveal his designs, nevermind actually buying a stasis chamber off of him – they’re supposed to be incredibly expensive, to boot.

Between Mrs Fion’s wealth and the technology I can of-

***

A hand closed around his biceps, tugging him around. He looked up at Amy, black eyes to purple ones.

Hey, baby bro, she whispered gently into his mind. You need to calm yourself down, before you give yourself a stroke.

He looked away, then looked up at her, feeling his expression harden. I can not afford to, right now. I need to find a solution! Could you scan her mind? Perhaps she’s keeping something secret?

Amy shook her head, causing him to feel even colder inside. Even more so when he realised she was trembling, sligthly. Just what had she seen?

She didn’t lie, nor did she ommit anything. She really has no clue how to fix it, Amy told him. And… there’s more. The blood she took, earlier. And what they’ve been doing here. Where these monsters came from. I saw it in her mind.

What’d you see? Basil asked numbly. He wasn’t sure there was much of anything he could get worked up over right now, as worn out as he felt.

Too much, she replied. But first… what about her? She nodded towards Dusu, who’d calmed down considerably, simply sitting cross-leged on the floor and chuckling occasionally, completely unperturbed by the looks of disgust and hatred the others were throwing her. Maybe you’ll feel better if you give her one of those concoctions you said you’d prepared just for her?

Basil looked over his shoulder at Dusu. Those were always meant to force her to give up the cure, in the end, he replied. No point to that, now. Besides, how could I possibly top that? He gestured towards the twisted, half-decayed woman.

Let’s just get this over with and go home.

***

Melody wouldn’t have thought she could hate a complete stranger as much as she hated Dusu right then. Just looking at the woman sitting there on the floor, looking so darn amused.

Amused that she’d destroyed so many lives.

Amused that she’d drawn them into such a dangerous, unnecessary battle.

Amused that she’d crushed their hopes, Brennus hopes in particular, and of all those innocents she’d poisoned, and all those whom cared about them.

She’d used to have trouble accepting Irene’s insistent statement that her father, while evil, was far better than most. Even after meating him in person, she hadn’t really changed her mind.

But now? Looking down at this, this coprophage, this… bitch, she saw true evil. Senseless evil, evil that didn’t have a purpose other than its own betterment.

At least the Dark clearly cared about his daughter. Melody wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that Dusu didn’t have anyone she cared about, that she would have sacrificed her own child if she’d had one, just to try and undo her own fuck-up – for herself.

It took a lot for her not to unleash one of her more cruel tunes on her, just to make her suffer a bit. A bit more, she amended the thought, watching how the woman laboured to draw breath, the way she repeatedly twitched as if in pain, in spite of her carefree attitude.

A little tune to make her bowels empty themselves as violently as physically possible, or cramp up painfully and remain so for a while. Another to throw her sense of balance completely off for hours. Or perhaps one she’d never yet used, because it’d seemed too cruel, a tune that’d give the victim a painful tinitus that’d last for days, if not longer.

So many options. So many incentives to explore them, one by one.

Fortunately for Dusu, Melody was distracted from the recreatively violent train of thought when Brennus came back towards them, shadowed closely by Mindstar.

And wasn’t that a shock? When Mindstar had first appeared, she’d been scared, then relieved – she did work for the Dark, so she wouldn’t turn on Irene and her friends, right? Then it’d seemed like she was going to attack anyway, and Tartsche had tried to reach Brennus to protect him from her (she still remembered the briefing when they’d been told that she might target him – Tartsche had clearly remembered it, as well), only for her to slap them all down with literally just a thought.

She’d known that telepathy was Irene’s one true weakness, but she hadn’t expected it to be that effective.

And then it turned out that Brennus – no, Basil, that boy she’d sat next to in school a few times! – was her brother and he proceeded to beat her, one on one.

If it wasn’t for Irene confirming, while under the aegis of Tartsche’s power, that it was all genuine, she’d have thought the whole fight, no, their every interaction, had been staged.

Now, of course, she was instead faced with the fact that a boy she’d been thinking of as a friend, if a distant one, was the younger brother of a major supervillain…

Which, really, didn’t mean much to her, seeing how her best friend was the daughter of said supervillain’s boss. It would have been the height of hypocrisy for Melody to condemn Brennus for his relationship with his own sister, when she so readily accepted Irene’s relationship with her father.

The only thing she could, maybe, accuse him of was not being open about his relation to her, the way Irene was about her being the Dark’s daughter…

But then again, their situations were very different. Brennus, for one, didn’t have the aegis of Lady Light and the United Heroes to protect him.

I wonder whether she’s the reason he didn’t join us to begin with, she thought to herself as she watched them join the rest of the group.

All those thoughts and more continued on in her head, though they were quickly overshadowed by dismay at how utterly worn-out Brennus looked. In all the time she’d known him, she’d never known him to express a sense of defeat, a lack of purpose. Now though…

“Let us wrap this up,” he spoke in a listless tone. “We should get away from here.” He looked down at Dusu, his gaze briefly hardening – but then it softened into listlessness again. “What did she do with our blood?” he asked no one in particular, apparently.

It did seem directed at Mindstar, however, as she sighed and stepped forth, while Brennus’ helmet floated off the floor and into his hands. “I’ll show you,” she said, gesturing at the computer console.

Using her telekinesis, she logged into the system, making Dusu frown in annoyance. “Y’know, you don’t have to use telepathy… I’d just tell you, at this point.”

“Shut it,” several people said all at once.

“This is the place where they made those monsters that appeared yesterday,” Mindstar spoke seriously, with neither levity nor anger in her voice. “They’re all spawned from the same source…”

The screen switched to a three-dimensional model, showing the floating city they were on, before zooming out and moving down, showing an incredibly long tether that lead down into the depths – the same one they could see before them, dozens of cables thicker than grown men – and following it down…

And down…

And down…

Until it reached the bottom of the ocean, and the view moved, looking down from above, at an angle, at…

A gigantic something at the bottom of the ocean, connected to the station via the cables in front of them.

As the image focused on whatever was below, it was rendered in successively more detailed layers, with Mindstar talking over it, sharing what she saw within Dusu’s mind.

“They found something down there. Something huge. And I mean, really fucking humungous. It’s over a thousand miles in length, and over three in diametre,” the villainess explained as the bottom dropped out of Melody’s stomach, her eyes widening at the rapidly expanding sight of… that.

“What. The. Holy. Fuck,” Tyche succinctly summed up how they all felt.

“That’s what they used to make those monsters,” Mindstar spoke, her voice growing hushed. “They injected it with… human blood. It doesn’t always work out, not even one in ten times, but when it does…”

Brennus looked down at Dusu again. “So that is what you took our blood for,” he stated as he put his helmet on. “Mine and… whose else?”

Before Dusu could respond, Mindstar did so. “All of us. It wasn’t just the four you saw. They got samples from all of us…” She frowned, stroking her chin. “I mean, they came here and found them… put them here in other timelines… ah, fuck time travel! They got samples from each of us, except for the princess, using Elysium’s power.” She looked at the console. “And they injected it all into this thing. That’s what Dusu and that nobody over there were responsible for – figuring out a way to inject something through its armour, after the Gefährten realised that extracted samples bonded with human DNA.”

Melody’s fingers went to work, tapping the air to formulate a sentence. “And that’s how they made Crocell and the other three monsters?” she asked, keeping her vocoder’s voice much calmer than she actually felt.

“Yeah. Only successes they’ve had so far. They injected forty-three samples and only four of them spawned something,” the villainess replied in a cold voice, glaring at the unperturbed mad scientist on the floor. “Though they never injected so many at once, like she just did.”

“Hey, you can’t blame me for being in a bit of a hurry!” Dusu protested Mindstar’s accusatory tone. “Besides, aren’t you curious what might come out of it?”

“No!” shouted half a dozen people at once.

“Alright, so, may-be this is totally obvious and Ah’m just missing it,” Spellgun spoke up for the first time in a while, his accent even stronger than usual, “but what the fuck is that!?!” he gestured wildly towards the three-dimensional model on the screen.

“It’s God!” Syrinx shouted fervently, floating upside down where Mindstar was holding him in the air. “It’s a fragment of the divine tri-“

Hecate reached into a pouch on her belt and threw a handful of glittering green dust at his face, which flew farther and in a tighter stream than it ought to, and he went limp, falling asleep instantly.

“Oh, thank God,” Dusu rolled her eyes. “Guy’s a cutie, but h-“

Hecate whirled around so fast Melody actually jumped, and struck Dusu across the face with the butt end of her staff, knocking the woman over and causing her to cry out in pain.

“Don’t you dare address me in any way,” the slightly spooky superheroine snarled, her English distorted slightly by a faint accent Melody had never noticed before, her tone of voice so vicious it made nearly everyone take a step away from her, even Mindstar.

Not Brennus, nor Tyche, though.

Dusu rubbed her rapidly swelling jaw, having finally stopped grinning, or smiling or otherwise looking happy, as she glared up at Hecate – but she kept her mouth shut.

Mindstar actually looked impressed, giving Hecate odd looks, though the spooky heroine couldn’t see them.

“They’re not sure what it is,” Mindstar continued where she’d left off earlier. “Or at least, if the Gefährten know, they haven’t told Dusu. But she, and her co-workers have a few running theories – all unproven, admittedly. One is that it’s a metahuman whose manifestation just plainly went spectacularly wrong. Another is that it’s some kind of by-product of superpowers as a whole, maybe an animal that soaked up whatever energies power metahumans. And another is that it’s either the source of superpowers, or connected to it in some way.” She shrugged. “Honestly, they don’t even know how long it’s been down there. Seems like time goes wonky around it, so they can’t even analyse the age of the cracks in the rock around and beneath it that it’s caused, because they don’t age uniformly.”

No one spoke up for a minute as they digested that. Finally, Melody turned her head to look at Irene, who’d remained still so far, hovering an inch or so above the floor, her cape closed in front of her and her hood drawn deep, like a white shroud.

The hood twitched as Irene looked up, her face hidden in the shadows, mostly, save for her blue eyes. “I don’t know what it is. I have some suspicions, but… nothing I’m sure of enough to say,” she answered the unspoken question.

Melody felt both disappointment and relief, as part of her just plainly didn’t want to know what that thing really was – she was afraid that it was even worse than she could expect.

“The blood is already injected?” Brennus interjected, directing the question at Mindstar, at his sister.

His helmet-mask always distorted his voice, but even so, Melody’s ears had no trouble picking up the fact that he still sounded… defeated, really. His voice was flat, lacking its usual intensity.

“Yeah, it is. Nothing we can do to stop it anymore,” Mindstar replied, her voice softening almost imperceptibly (to anyone but Melody) as she addressed her brother again. “All we can hope for is that none of it causes this… Sleeper to spawn another monster.”

“How long did it take before they knew whether an injection had been successful in the previous cases?” Brennus continued his line of inquiry in that same tone of voice, his head tilted forward as he looked at something he was holding in his left hand. Melody couldn’t see what it was, though it had to be palm-sized.

“Anywhere between five minutes and three hours,” the answer came almost as soon as he finished. “If it doesn’t work, it’ll eject the rejected blood in crystalline form – they have computers looking out for it.”

As if on cue, a new window opened, showing a black-and-white image of a bismuth-like crystal growing in fast motion, right out of one of its scales, before it detached and floated away.

“Aaaaaand that’s one,” Mindstar sighed in undisguised relief. “Eight more to go.”

“Is there anything we can do to abort the process?” Tartsche asked quietly, sounding as calm as ever as he held onto Spellgun’s hand. “Force it to purge them all or something like that? Some way to make sure no more monsters are generated?”

Both Mindstar and Dusu shook their heads, one seemingly impassive, one very clearly quite pleased with herself.

“And there’s nothing here about a cure?” Tartsche pressed on. “She doesn’t know anything, or have anything we can make use of?”

Mindstar shook her head, and Tyche and Hecate slumped a little, while Brennus showed no outward reaction, though Melody thought she might’ve heard something from within his helmet. She wasn’t sure though, as quiet as he was being.

“We should go, then,” Brennus concluded what was obviously Tartsche’s thought process, putting away whatever he’d been looking at. There was barely any inflection at all left in his voice. “Every second we remain here just increases the probability of another enemy showing up.”

“Now that’s as good a straight line as I could hope for!” a new voice spoke up.

Melody squeaked in shock as she turned, just in time to see Mindstar stagger forward, nearly falling, her hand going to her neck and pulling a tiny dart tipped by a needle out of it.

“Huh?” She stared at the dart, her eyes growing unfocused.

Brennus grabbed her, pulling her away and behind him, revealing the person who’d stuck her with the dart, who…

Oh God he’s so yummy, was the first thought that came to Melody’s mind as she saw the gorgeous, brown-haired young man in what appeared to be black-and-gold workout clothes, only of much higher quality than usual, and reinforced, fingerless gloves.

If she hadn’t met so many insanely pretty men since manifesting her powers, she’d probably have squeed and melted on the spot.

He stood there, looking as calm as if he was just taking a stroll, with an easy smile on those perfect lips.

“Immanuel!” shouted Tyche, taking a step away from him.

Wait, Immanuel? That guy? Melody blinked, remembering what Tyche had told them earlier. Fuck, we have to-

She raised her arms to fire at him, only to stop when Irene cried out.

“Wait, no, stop!” Irene shouted as she was enveloped in ribbons of twisted space… and then she disappeared.

Immanuel looked at the empty space where Irene had just floated, looking only mildly surprised. “Heh. Nice one,” he said, grinning.

***

Space unfurled around her and dropped Irene onto a grassy hill, which looked out over a tranquil beach and the ocean.

“No!” she shouted, desperate, reaching for the power which had brought her there. “No, no! Take me back! I’ve got to get back, Melody is still there! My friends are all still there! Take me back, please!”

She begged her own power, even as she felt the teleporting effect – one she hadn’t had before, to her recollection – sink beneath the darkness, tears beginning to run from her eyes.

She’d been so focused on that giant thing below, that, that thing that might have been, just possible, one of them, perhaps. A steward, in this world. Her parents were going to flip out.

Somehow, even though she’d had her danger sense up and running, that man, that… Immanuel, he’d managed to sneak up on them, and then her power had reacted to the suddenly present, overwhelming threat by taking her away from her friends.

“Please, please, just take me back!” she shouted, trying to reach for that power again, only to get… flight and the power to tell where magnetic north lay. “No, I need to be fa-“

“Irene? What are you doing here?” a tired voice asked.

She whirled around, staring at the figure behind her with bloodshot eyes.

***

“I think you’ve all had more than enough fun,” Immanuel spoke in a conversational tone, clasping his hands behind his back as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

Basil didn’t give him a chance to say more – torn between checking to make sure Amy was going to be alright and taking down the new threat, he chose to trust in her constitution and went on the offensive – and launched one of his grappling hooks at him, aiming straight for his belt buckle.

Immanuel simply stepped aside, dodging it by a hair’s breadth with such ease, it seemed rehearsed. “For those of you who don’t know yet, I’m Immanuel, and I’m in charge of this charming base,” he continued on, as if nothing had happened, even as he bent over forward, letting a blast of green fire fly over him and splash over Tartsche’s protective field, blinding Spellgun and causing him to miss his shot, which instead hit Osore in the forehead just as he was gathering up a fear blast in his right hand; his mask cracked, though not broken, he was thrown backwards as electricity raced through his body, stunning him and causing him to fall gracelessly and heavily onto the floor. “And while I greatly sympathise with your noble intentions, I’m afraid I’ll have to stop you right here,” he concluded, standing up straight again, smiling at everyone around.

How did he just do that? Basil thought furiously, stepping back to keep some distance between himself and the new enemy. That was way too smooth… he must be an Esper. Some major combat cognition. He stared at the empty spot where Irene had just been, then at Amy behind him, through the eyes of his bedraggled ravenbot. And we’ve already lost our two strongest combatants.

“What did you do to Gloom Glimmer!?!” Polymnia shouted at Immanuel, both of her clenched fists – and the speakers on the wrist modules above them – aimed straight at him.

“Don’t worry, I just gave her a bit of a scare,” Immanuel replied soothingly. “I suppose her power decided she was safer away from me than next to me.” He tilted his head to the side, both as a gesture and to dodge a shot from Tartsche’s rifle. “Can’t blame it, really. In fact, I’m quite grateful – makes my job easier.”

His expression turned thoughtful and he tapped his chin. “Hmm… just forty minutes before she comes back… with Lamarr. Maybe the Dowager, though I doubt it.” He blinked, as if another thought came to him. “Hm, no. She won’t come – just Lamarr and some of his people. Goldschmidt wouldn’t let her back here.” Without even looking, he bent forward and also lifted his left leg up, as if to kick out, though he merely tapped the charging form of Bakeneko – in the middle of transitioning from a bipedal to a quadrupedal form –  on the shin, lightly, causing her to trip and bowl into Polymnia, who just barely managed to brace herself and not get bowled over as well, though she still missed her shot, the twin beams of focused sound going wide and tearing up some computer equipment on the far wall of the room. “Nothing I can’t deal with.”

Basil barely paid attention to his words, instead opting to study his opponent more closely. The way he moved, the way every dodge of his led to them hitting each other in some way… it reminded him of the way it usually went when Tyche fought, except far more controlled.

Deliberate.

Speaking of Tyche, she was just standing there, her hands trembling as she tried to aim at Immanuel – but he didn’t seem worried at all, and she didn’t seem capable of actually pulling the trigger.

“I, I thought you said, you wanted us to, to succeed,” she stammered, taking a step back from him when he turned his head to focus on her.

He blocked Basil’s punch, which he loosened the moment his attention was on Tyche, with an absentminded swipe, “I did and I do,” then he deflected a knee-strike to the groin by raising his own knee and gently pushing it aside, “Though I never said I thought it was actually going to happen,” he turned into the follow-up elbow strike that Basil turned his over-extended strike into, “I did know that Dusu has never been able to figure out a cure for her own work,” his arm came up, applying minimal force to Basil’s elbow and causing him to strike the air above his head, unbalanced by the flawless counter, “Nor did I say I’d actually let you all leave after you reached Dusu,” he placed one hand onto Basil’s chest and the other one’s forearm against his waist, pushing with both and flipping him over until he hit the ground with his head, only his helmet saving him from being knocked out, though it still rang his bells quite well, “Sorry,” the angel-faced villain concluded, smiling apologetically at Tyche.

She gulped staring at him with wide eyes. He just smiled back, throwing Basil’s combat knife, which he’d filched from his belt when he’d flipped him, at Polymnia, without even looking at her.

The blade pierced the membrane of her right wrist’s speaker just as she loosened another attack, causing a feedback that overloaded it and made it blow up around her arm, throwing her aim with the other arm off so badly she shot Bakeneko instead just as she was about to get up again, making her cry out in pain and tumble away from the armoured songstress.

Polymnia herself cried out in pain, her arm covered in bruises and cuts from the explosion, though her innate toughness and the layer of ballistic weave she’d between her skin and the actual mechanical parts prevented heavier damage.

“Now, I’m not a complete jerk,” Immanuel followed up, stepping forward towards Tyche with his arms spread wide, following it up by an absent-minded kick to Dusu’s throat, causing her to choke up and bend over in pain, just as she’d been about to speak up. “I really don’t feel like listening to you, Heng,” he quipped, and continued to walk towards Tyche with a disarming smile.

Basil groaned, slowly getting back up on his feet – the strain of the last few days was really starting to catch up to him – as he blinked the stars out of his view. By the time he managed that, the only ones left standing were himself, Tyche, Tartsche and Spellgun.

Amy was on the ground, moaning softly with unfocused eyes. Bakeneko and Osore were both still conscious but stunned, lying on the ground. Polymnia was on her knees, holding her mangled right arm to her chest, sniffling as tears leaked from her eyes. Hecate was on the ground next to Immanuel, who was still holding one of her arms by the wrist. Basil hadn’t even noticed her go down.

Both Tartsche and Spellgun were aiming their guns at him, but since he stood between them and Tyche, they didn’t want to risk taking the shot.

Tyche was staring slack-jawed at him, her grip on her rifle quite loose.

Graymalkin had curled up on Amy’s breasts, using them as pillows as he yawned.

“So, now that all that unpleasantness is over,” Immanuel said with a small sigh, seemingly not even winded. “How about we have a nice talk, hm?” He looked around at the teens. “I have no interest in keeping the lot of you here, really. In fact, I’m perfectly willing to let you get back home.”

“What is the catch?” Basil asked suspiciously, not believing him for a moment, even though everything about him just plain screamed sincerity.

“Well, you do have quite a lot of damages to make up for,” Immanuel replied, turning his back to Tyche and letting go of Hecate’s arm, so he could face Basil. “So I think it’d only be fair if you and Melody over there were to work for us for, let’s say… a quarter of a year, each.” He clapped his hands together, smiling brightly. “You two promise me three months of servitude each – no wetwork, nothing illegal, even – and I’ll not only let your friends go right now, I’ll even pay you both quite handsomly. And you can get back to your own affairs. How’s that sound?”

“Never,” Polymnia replied, her voice coming out distorted. “Like we’d ever agree to work for someone like you!”

“Now, don’t be judgemental,” Immanuel wagged a finger at her. “You don’t really know me just yet.”

“We’ve… seen enough…” Hecate groaned as she got up on her feet, leaning heavily onto her staff. “You fucking people belong in a maximum security prison… or better yet, six foot under,” she snarled, her eyes flashing with raw hatred within the shadows of her hood.

Language, young lady,” he frowned at her, mockingly. “What would your grandmother say if she heard you talk like that?”

Hecate flinched, snarling audibly at him.

He knows too much, Basil thought, his brain racing wildly, trying to come up with an idea on how to take him on. If he’s some kind of combat precog, then the only way to beat him would be to trap him in a no-win situation.

Great idea, mate! Except for the little fact that he’s holding all the cards in his hands!

You’re not helping. Either come up with an idea or else shut up.

“Now, as I was saying – this doesn’t have to end in more tears,” Immanuel continued. “If you two accept my offer, I’ll even let you use all our resources to try and figure out a cure for Dusu’s plague.”

Basil clenched his fists, hard.

Immanuel smirked at him. “You know there’s no way you’ll be able to save her on your own. She wouldn’t survive a trip to the Protectorate, and it’s unlikely someone with your manifold issues would be able to reach him, anyway. And you don’t have the knowledge base nor the resources to work out a cure – but we might.” He put his hands together, palm-to-palm, as if praying – or begging. “Please, Basil. Think about it. You’ve always believed that the ends justify the means, no? I’m offering you near-endless resources, and the support of our best bio-gadgeteers – including Dusu.” He gestured at the unconscious woman. “Consider how much it would improve your chances if you had the actual source of the plague to work with, even if she doesn’t consciously know how it works or how to fix it! Accept my offer and not only will your friends be able to go back home safe and sound, but you’ll also be able to save Prisca.”

He bit his lip hard enough that it hurt, feeling angry with himself just for considering the offer. Yet he did, and Immanuel knew he was saying just the right things.

“Basil, you know the choice is barely one,” Immanuel pressed on. “Not for you. You know what needs to be done, and what needs to be done is a cure being found for Dusus many victims – are you really going to decline an offer to do what you know needs to be done?”

He lowered his raised fists, letting his arms hang loosely. Fuck. He was right, wasn’t he? Even disregarding the fact that there was no other option he could see to get his friends to safety – Immanuel seemed quite confident he’d be able to deal with Gloom Glimmer and any reinforcements she’d be able to drum up, even if those were members of the Dark Five – he was completely out of options as far as actually saving Prisca was concerned – the reason he’d organised this entire, ill-advised operation in the first place!

Even if he’s lying about letting me leave freely, afterwards, I’ll stand a better chance of getting out of this, nevermind of fixing Prisca, by playing along for now.

It needs to be done.

He sighed, releasing a breath he hadn’t even realised he’d been holding, as his shoulders slumped, opening his mouth to-

“To pursue what is necessary is the province of beasts – a true man must pursue naught but what he desires.”

He clenched his fists again, feeling an angry heat rise up from his gut. A snarl escaped his mouth, making Immanuel frown, looking honestly serious for the first time yet.

“Fuck. You,” he snarled at the villain.

Immanuel tilted his head, looking actually surprised for once. “Hm. I suppose that’s a no, then.” He put his hands on his waist, huffing. “The day’s full of surprises.” He looked over at Polymnia, who was still on her knees and craddling her bleeding arm.

Even though she was crying heavily, she glared back at him with defiance in her eyes.

“That’s a no then, as well,” he concluded with a sigh, lowering his head and shaking it. “What a waste.” He looked around at them all, watching as they all slowly got back up on their feet, at least those who weren’t still standing. Even Amy was getting up, on wobbly feet, barely able to balance on her stiletto heels, but determined to try, clearly.

Everyone looked scared, worn out and just plainly tired, but Basil could tell that they all intended to keep fighting.

He raised his fists again, clenching them, facing the brown-haired villain.

Even now, Immanuel looked, at worst, like he was annoyed, not worried.

“Well, let’s do… this…” Immanuel began to speak in a chipper tone of voice, but trailed off, frowning as he looked around the huge hall.

The lights flickered, once. Twice. Three times.

When they came back on for the fourth time, a huge, vaguely humanoid shadow stood between Immanuel and Polymnia, to Basil’s right, his back to the Esper who’d just kicked them all around so easily, looking down at the crying Polymnia.

“Me- Polymnia!” cried a familiar voice, and an equally familiar, white-cloaked figure stepped forth from next to the huge shadow, rushing over to her friend and throwing her arms around the kneeling girl, hugging her tight as light spread from every point of contact between them, gathering around Polymnia’s wounds and starting to mend them.

“So, this is it, huh?” the Dark said, curiosity in his distorted, choral voice, looking around lazily. “Now where’s that giant…”

He suddenly cut himself off as he turned around and looked down at Immanuel, who’d moved back by several metre, almost running into Tyche – as if he’d been trying to sneak away quickly. In his current form, the Dark was more than two heads taller than him, and Immanuel was by no means a short man.

The two supervillains stared at each other, one’s expression hidden utterly beneath the darkness of his power, yet radiating a sense of utter, disbelieving shock, while the other’s expression was calm, friendly, even amicable, yet he radiated nervousness.

“You,” the Dark breathed, sounding stunned. Off-balance. His voice barely more than a whisper. “You’re alive.”

“Long time no see, Goldschmidt,” Immanuel spoke carefully, putting his hands in his pants’ pockets. “Surprise, I guess.”

Whatever Basil had been expecting to happen next – whatever anyone had expected, from Tyche to Gloom Glimmer, all of whom were staring at the scene with bated breath – none of them, he was sure, expected what came next.

The Dark sobbed, staggering forward by a step, reaching out with a hand towards Immanuel, hesitating, as if afraid that he’d disappear if he made too sudden a move.

“Oh, oh… thank God… thank God…” he sobbed, his voice soft, the tears actually audible, though invisible. “I was so afraid… so, so afraid… that you were gone…”

The shadows he was wrapped in began to boil, spreading out slowly around him, like tar slowly creeping over the floor.

“That you had died…”

The shadows rolled off of him, writhing, expending, contracting, increasing.

“That I would never get my chance…”

He took another step closer, his voice breaking, another sob escaping him, like the sound a wounded animal would make when it finally found balm for its pain.

Gloom Glimmer flew towards Tartsche and Spellgun, pulling Polymnia along behind her with one hand, as more, ghostly hands reached out for all the others.

“To kill you myself…”

Basil found himself being pulled towards Gloom Glimmer, along with all the others, as she shot straight up, throwing a solid black sphere that blew through the ceiling, paving the way.

“To finally, finally… hurt you!”

Beneath them, as they rapidly flew above the floating city, the Darkness exploded, a tide of boiling shadows wallowing across the floating city like a tidal wave.

And above all, there was a scream, a cry of such utter, unadultered, unrestrained hatred, it chilled the blood in their veins.

Over fifty figures who’d been floating, flying and standing around the building Dusu’s lab was in charged forward to join their master in battle.

And then the Dark went to War.

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88 thoughts on “B13.18 Call of the Sleeper

  1. Phew…

    I really, really wanted to do a Dreaming chapter, but I found myself quite unable NOT to keep returning to this in my thoughts, until it became just silly to insist on writing the next Dreaming chapter, when I had so many ideas (plus my many-year-old plans) for this one.

    One more chapter in this arc, then three Interludes:
    1) The Empty Dragon – Part 2
    2) Bad People
    3) The Man Who Knocked Out Lady Light

    And then we finally get to… Breaking Point.

    • Thank you! This may be my favorite chapter so far. As always, I truly enjoy your combat descriptions and the way the story unfolds. I suspect that the best speedsters are probably at least locally immune to espers and all but the best precogs.

  2. So hey, is The Dark immune to espers, a specific blind spot to Immanuel’s powers, or something else? He could predict that Irene was going to try to come back, and that she was going to have reinforcements, even that her father would prevent her from returning personally but send The Five to assist, but it just… didn’t occur to him that daddy might step in personally?

    Given the parallels with Tyche’s power that Basil noticed, maybe he doesn’t actually have any congitive powers and is accustomed to just making random guesses and manipulating probability to they’re the right ones? That would mean that when he made a guess about somebody his powers didn’t work on, it would be just a random guess but he would be accustomed to accepting whatever popped into his head as truth so he would believe his own nonsense.

    That’d also explain why, despite being more powerful and dangerous, he’s terrified by the Dark in particular. In close combat he seems to fight at the level of a trained mundane human, but make the perfect moves to get his opponents to destroy each other and themselves while he just happens to avoid all attacks. So he could take down virtually any powerhouse unless they had an AoE that was simply impossible to dodge… but against the Dark he would be clueless again, a mere mortal flailing randomly at the King of Villains.

    • I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler anymore (I’ve mentioned it before both in the Brennus Files and in chats), but there are certain blocks of information that are, so to speak, marked “classified” and can’t be accessed – and thus, not accounted for – by Espers.

      This can be obvious (DiL is a floating, scenery-wrecking ‘ACCESS DENIED’ sign to espers; Ember is the same, if more subtle; Gloomy is not when she’s in charge, but isn’t accessible when her power takes over, thus why she flickers to Atrocity’s perception) and it can be more subtle, too (all power-related stuff is classified, thus manifestations and the powers resulting from them can’t be predicted, nor can anything Tenants/Stewards are directly involved with)

      In this case, Immanuel got screwed over three times over and part of it is the same reason why this whole arc has happened in the first place – the Sleeper is a blind spot, though since it is inactive, it’s really hard to notice that.

      So the Sleeper spawned Crocell -> Crocell made a psychic death wail when it died -> Basil’s power used that plus some other inspiration to come up with the neural engram scanner -> Basil discovered the location of the Base. Since what a gadgeteer comes up with comes from their power, that is a “soft” blindspot.

      You can predict what a gadgeteer is gonna do with an already existing gadget, you can predict, to a limited degree, if an existing gadget is going to be replicated, if you have enough info on a gadgeteer you can even get a general idea of what they’re capable of producing in the future, but you can’t predict exact inventions until they’re actually invented (though not necessarily constructed).

      So Immanuel got screwed over there – the entire esper corps of the gefährten did, as there were at least 3 different blindspots (the sleeper, crocell, basil’s gadgeteering) involved.

      It’s even worse with the Dark’s appearance; Immanuel’s prediction was completely correct – normally, the Dark would not have come personally (he tired himself out fighting Valefor, and he did have one of his top operatives already at the installation, plus his daughter was safe and sound with him), he’d have sent another member of the Five, maybe some lesser subordinates along for it, maybe activated the Darkwraith within Amy to give her a power boost.

      However, here’s what happened THERE:

      The Sleeper (complete blindspot) is present and Irene finds out about him.

      Irene’s power (blindspot) takes her to the Dark.

      Irene tells him about the situation and then about the sleeper, including her suspicion as to what it might be (its true nature being, in itself, a blindspot).

      The Dark considers this information, part of which (everything relating to the sleeper) is a blindspot for powers. He then processes it in view of his own knowledge of the source of powers, the nature of tenants/stewards, etc (all of which is a blindspot) and acts upon information which Espers can’t account for, thus making his choice to go there personally impossible to predict unless one has all the same information available.

      So there were 3-4 layers of inaccessible information involved here, screwing Immanuel over something fierce.

      Basically, the Dark, Lady Light and a few others are aware of information which powers are not allowed to account for, and any time they act based upon that knowledge (such as when Lady Light uses her deeper understanding of where powers come from and how they work in order to come up with a tactic against an opponent) their actions come completely out of left field for any Esper involved in the situation.

      • Hm, right. Tyche was another factor into things going so spectacularly wrong for Immanuel and the Gefährten. Though I wouldn’t say she was the major one (the biggest was them messing with the Sleeper without understanding what they were actually dealing with)

      • That was very informative, thank you very much, can’t help to wonder how esper powers interact with high end probability manipulation under normal(IE sans Sleeper)circumstances.

      • Out of curiosity, is that one of the reasons Macian could do decently against the savage six (at least withing their rules)? With his always on power and the constant gadgeteering even while on the move (the binoculars in little giants for example) he could give himself a limited measure of unpredicatbility against Atrocities precognition. And I think I dimly remember it being mentioned that gadgeteers are pretty much telepathy immune while crafting so that could also be a part of it.

      • I’m pretty sure I’ve never stated that gadgeteers are immune to telepathy while crafting and if I did, then I probably meant something else.

        Yes, that is one reason why he amused the Six so much, though it would, on its own, not have been sufficient (Atrocity’s predictions would just update to account for a new invention as soon as it is made, so she could adapt on the fly – her precognition is seriously top-tier; the other five rarely rely on her precog at all, other than for making sure the city they pull in won’t contain anyone TOO dangerous for their games)

      • I am curious now, how would Tyche’s power interact with Atrocity’s precog ?

        Also if it hasn’t been said already: Atrocity is fucking terrifying a high end gadgeteer with precog to fine tune her gear(well body in her case) and her well Atrocityness…That makes wonder about the person dating her even more.

      • @Tieshaunn and @Lemon
        I don’t think that there is anything saying that gadgeteers are resistant to telepathy while inventing.

        That said, it was specifically spelled out in Legion of Nothing that Daniel had a hard time reading Nick when he was thinking technical stuff. I suspect that a lot of readers overlap between that and this.

        I know I’ve gotten things mixed up before. For example, I frequently mix up Ties and Silently Watches…

      • While a Telepath is certainly going to get a headache trying to keep up with a gadgeteer while they’re actively inventing/crafting, that in itself is not a protection – a smart telepath would just focus on the parts of their mind not involved in that.

        Precognition and Telepathy don’t really have anything to do with each other, though, so that, at least, wouldn’t affect a proper precog like atrocity (though, remember, she’s REALLY strong. the average precog – and they’re already pretty rare – rarely has more than ‘this feels good’ or ‘this feels bad’ or ‘red is gonna hurt me, green brings me closer to my goal, blue is safe’ etc)

    • Why was Immanuel surprised when Basil denied his offer? I assume that it has something to do with the Raging Heart, but as far as we know it is not the source of Basil’s power.

      • Most likely because his whole speech to basil came from his power and should have given him the result he wanted as to his knowledge basil has no counter to it.

        As for why and how it happened ? Well I think the answer to that is Emyr who must have done something during his conversation with the team.

      • Ah yes, now what are the odds that Emyr gave that particular advice knowing, or at least having a sense of, what would happen ?

  3. FYI you said “What would your grandmother say if he heard you talk like that?” There’s a gender contradiction there, unless Hecate’s grandmother is transgender and Immanuel’s conflicting pronouns were just another indication of his Esper abilities.

  4. Graymalkin obviously gives no shits about either Immanuel which is terrifying.

    Graymalkin isn’t even a Steward is he….. He is in total control, a king.

  5. Uh-oh. So prediction, and take this with a bit of caution since my memory probably is not the best, but if I had to guess I would say Immanuel is responsible for the death of Aap’s mother. If this cannot be because I do not remember something just say so.

  6. “Mrs Fion”
    Who’s that?

    Also could you answer a few questions about Bakeneko’s power?
    She has what looks like complete atomic control over her body and can replicate any other biology she’s seen/understands.(Or mimic it so well it’s nigh indistinguishable from the real thing.)
    With the only limit being her body mass.

    Now I realize Bakeneko hasn’t been portrayed as particularly smart or thoughtful but could she:
    Speed up her reflexes.

    Slow down her perception of time.

    Streamline her internal physiology to the point where normally fatal wounds don’t work.

    Have uber-regeneration.

    Develop theoretical biology. (I’m sure some Bio-Gadgeteers have found out that there are completely natural ways for creatures to have what look like metahuman powers. Ex: Fire Breath)

    • Mrs Fion is Prisca’s mother.

      Aimihime’s power is not nearly that comprehensive. Most of the fine details are taken care of by her tenant – though, she does have an apex rating, so it’s still a very major power.

      She doesn’t have completely free control over it. For one, she needs a sample to work with – once. Her power is constantly scanning every biological material around her and adding new “options” to her toolbar, so to speak. She can then choose from the options presented to her and assemble a new form for her, at which point she’ll shift into her new form, with her tenant taking care of the fine details (like making sure she always ends up with a form that can actually live).

      Sped-up reflexes or slowed-down perception are amongst her options, yes.

      Even if she does take fatal wounds, so long as it’s not a one-hit kill (destroying her brain – not just any damage, but enough to shut it down instantly), she can recover from it and will do so automatically, though it works faster if she’s conscious enough to will it herself.

      Uber-regeneration is kind of a part of it – she doesn’t so much heal wounds as simply shift into an uninjured form.

      If her power managed to scan a biological system for fire breath or the like, then she could do it.

      • she’s already biologically immortal, since the forms she shifts to are always at peak health (so as long as she doesn’t deliberately shift into a form that’s dying of old age and remains in it, she won’t die of old age)

      • Does her power need skin contact to scan?

        Because if so then visiting the petting zoo should be priority #1 for her.

      • She doesn’t have those yet, partly because the UH does NOT want to hand her lethal weapons beyond what is inevitable (such as claws and the like)

      • The animals or the Biogadegeteers ? because I am sure Biogadegeteers could create nonlethal and non threatening systems for her to use.

      • there aren’t that many biogadgeteers. she hasn’t had contact with any yet.

        Do remember that gadgeteering is one of the rarest powers, bio-gadgeteers are only a subset of that rare power, and they don’t even necessarily have to be making something she can scan (she couldn’t, for example, do anything with Dusu’s work – her power only scans living animals of at least, let’s say, flee-size).

        Also, she’s only recently been recruited and is only a teenager (they see no need to bend over backwards to arm a teen who’s not even supposed to be in such extreme situations yet).

      • @Paradigm
        About those cone snails… Damn nature for stealing my ideas long before I was born! There’s something awesome and disturbing about any creature making disposable, venomous harpoons out of its teeth.

        Disturbing as those are, there’s no reason that the venom needs to be anything particularly deadly. Just loading them with capsaicin would be nonlethal and potentially painful enough to keep people from fighting effectively.

        I’m just not sure if Bakeneko is sadistic enough to research/use this sort of thing.

      • Are there even animals that use capsaicin as a poison or in some other fashion (theoretically she could adapt it to coat projectiles or teeth or stingers with it even if the original blueprint used it for something else).

        Remember, her power maps living beings, not just any organic material.

      • Chili plants are living things, and they naturally produce capsiacin. That said, I assume you meant that Aimihime is limited to the animal kingdom, and that she can’t copy elements of plants, fungi, or from any of the microbial kingdoms.

        Even if she couldn’t produce the the capsiacin herself, she could temporarily give herself a second mouth just to drink pepper spray, and then store that as a payload for the darts.

        If that worked, later she might “upgrade” by learning how (on a benchtop) to extract the chemical from hot peppers to produce something even more concentrated than what’s used in pepper spray.

        Or if she went anti-hero (or straight out Evil), she could load the darts with street drugs. Then she can fabricate evidence to make claims that force was justified because her enemy was insane due to drug use. Or murder people and make it look like an overdose.

        Or… I think I’ll just stop talking, now. You get the idea.

      • She’s not limited purely to the animal kingdom, though the forms she takes must always be able to support her brain, so she can’t turn entirely into a plant. She’d have to get to the actual chili plant though, a living one. Just the chilis themselves are not sufficient.

      • Welp, it’s official now. Hers is the power I want. (Unless Hemming’s is on the table, I guess, but hers actually somehow seems cooler for being more limited.)

  7. Well now another very interesting chapter I love it and cannot wait to see the fight between Immanuel and the Dark and man do I hope the dark gives the guy a lesson he won’t forget even in death, and given how angry the dark seems here methinks he will do just that but then Immanuel seems rather powerful so…(As I do not think he used the full breadth of his power against basil and co)still he seems to fear mister Golschmidt so, but then Konrad is coming!!! So things might get hairy for the Dark if he takes too long depending on how powerful Konrad truly is, and then there are the monster which will be born from Amy and Basil’s blood because seriously if there are two samples that will get a reaction you just know those are the ones.

    Speaking of that I find interesting to see the sleeper refered to as a Steward rather than a tenant,are those terms interchangeable or are those different things, different types of the…beings that are the origin of powers ? It is also interesting that Gloomy had some knowledge of those, granted she is the Dark and Lady Light’s daughter but still I wouldn’t have thought that they would pass on this knowledge to her(well at least a bit of it), or at least not while she is that young.

    The observation made by Basil that Immanuel is a bit like Tyche is very interesting and made me think of one thing: Did Crocell chase Tyche around because the feeling he got from her power reminded it of Immanuel’s ? After all it wanting to end Immanuel could be very understandable.

    And only one more chapter in this arc, man this one’s going to be epic oh and the next arc’s title is worrying.

    • Thank you!

      It feels… great. But also weird. See, “Brennus” as you know it WAS originally a prolonged prologue. So technically, I’m STILL writing the prologue to the main story.

      Weird how things go, sometimes.

      • *whistles*

        You’ve topped Robert Jordan. I remember finding it just flat out weird that some of his books had prologues over a hundred pages long.

        Then again, at least two books series I’ve read from weren’t meant to be books originally. Both the Malazan Book of the Fallen and Forgotten Realms were supposed to be role-play campaigns, after all.

      • Well seeing as a prologue is normally a lot shorter than the main story I look forward to the next century =P You better get your hands on some immortality power soon^^

      • Huh, didn’t know that. I thought this was Act 1 more than a prologue. That makes me really excited for when the “real” story gets started.

      • To be fair, it’s become more than “just” the prologue and I did move some parts of the main story into it.

        Though, looking at the outline I’ve written… Book 2 will consist of at least 22 arcs (5 more than book 1, not counting the epilogue) and Book 3 will likely be longer still (current outline – which is unfinished – already has it at 20 arcs).

        Funnily enough, one of the few things that have remained unchanged has been the title of the story’s final arc, “Boy Meets Girl”, which, not counting the epilogue, is gonna be the finale of the trilogy.

      • I always wondered why you had placeholder for two more BOOKS on your navbar. Btw, is there any particular reason why the second one has no name?

      • technically, the third one also has none (Points of Light is just the working title).

        The actual titles would be huge spoilers, since each book is named after the main viewpoint character.

  8. “Something way worse than Weisswald”, you say?

    Hmm. I wonder, did he do something during Lady Light’s pregnancy that triggered Bree’s powers manifesting? If he’s responsible for everything that happened to the world due to DiL and to The Dark’s daughter, well, I can’t imagine anything else that would be enough worse than Weisswald to provoke that strong a reaction. Even being responsible for the Godking somehow wouldn’t be quite that bad.

    I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I suspect Immanuel is going to experience The Dark’s version of how Weisswald felt when Lady Light decided she’d had enough of him.

    • That’s what I thought at first too, but I doubt Otis likely the more I think about it.
      LL, the Dark and Bree would all be blocking Immanuel’s power. I don’t think he could have messed with Bree even if he wanted to.

      • @Tieshaunn
        Is that a challenge?

        I think it was the guy Ismael was referring to with this line: ” I still couldn’t forgive that asshole who fished my folder out of the trashcan and sold my invention for his own, all those years ago.”

      • He somehow stole Gwen’s affections, or is otherwise the reason they wound up never getting married despite obviously still loving each other? He’s the reason the Dark felt he had to become a villain in the first place?

      • Nah, we know that the reason he became a villain and LL a hero has something to do with what they saw during the experiment. And both he and LL had quite a few relationships with other people (and had children with them), so I don’t think that would be reason enough for him to got to war. Oh, and according to his secretary he does care for everyone that is somehow connected to LL, even if he himself is not genetically related to them.
        But you might not be so wrong about the LL connection. What if the Dark isn’t angry about something Immanuel did to him (we already tried most scenarios) but about something Immanuel did to LL?
        Since we know that Immanuel knew Weisswald and is member of a group that more or less tries to continues WWs work I wouldn’t be surprised if he fought on Weisswalds side… Maybe he had something to do with Brightchild’s death? We know that LL never truly recovered from that.

        tbh my first guess would have been Elysiums death, since the Gefährten also somehow managed to revive her, but then I realized that there is no way that Immanuels powers worked while DiL was nearby. :/

        EDIT: possible repost, wp is bugging around (again)

  9. Can you tell us why exactly Wyrm is immortal? By now she should be almost a hundred years old and we know that the Dark is considering to make her his successor, which means that she should be able to do the job for at least a decade or two. Otherwise a change of leadership would only destabilize the Syndicate.

      • Ok…🙁 What about Sovereign? His cloning tech should open some very interesting possibilities.
        BTW, do clones inherit the originals powers?

      • Sovereign isn’t so old as to need immortality yet, though he’s looking for a reliable way to become so.

        Clones are… complicated. It’s generally considered to be a very bad idea to clone metahumans (the first time Sovereign tried, a good quarter of Simbabwe was turned into glass).

        Generally speaking, if you actually succeed at truly cloning a still-living metahuman, the clone will have their powers, but both of them will become unstable (both mentally and power-wise), while if you clone a dead one, it won’t have any powers at all.

        Theoretically, if you made a clone of a person and let them develop their own personality, they could have an origin and manifest powers of their own, which would share a theme with the original, but would fit their personality and origin. But that’s only slightly more likely than any normal person having an origin.

      • In your last paragraph, do you mean cloning a normal human who hasn’t manifested yet or cloning a dead metahuman?

      • The latter. The clone of a normal human would be just as likely to manifest as any other normal human, the clone of a dead metahuman would be slightly more likely to do so than normal.

      • Ah, thx. So to sum it up A) Wyrm’s immortality has nothing to do with the research she stole from Sovereign and B) Elysium was/is the real one. So they either recovered her body shortly after her death and revived her or managed to put her original “soul” in a new body. Using gadgeteering. That’s terrifying.

        Now that I think about it, for what does Sovereign even use said cloning tech if he can only clone baselines? Cheap workers and soldiers? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just ähm convince his people to do that for him?

      • He experimented with clones but discontinued his work on them (not worth the trouble to him). So he doesn’t really use it for anything anymore.

        Elysium’s case is more complicated and will yet have a role to play in the plot. Suffice it to say, it took the Ascendant over a decade to get her working, so to speak

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