14.7 Breaking Point

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Pain filled every picometre of Basil’s world. White-hot, razor-sharp, with no source and no end, it would have knocked him out if the sheer intensity of it didn’t force him to stay conscious.

He couldn’t say how long it took, but after what felt like an eternity of nothing but agony, it the sensation abated – slightly – as a different sensation appeared, a single point of darkness within the blazing glare.

Focusing on it, he managed to slowly draw his focus away from the pain – and as soon as he did, it instead snapped back to his body, and to his senses.

Basil found himself on all fours, his forehead on the ground, a dull ache that could barely be considered pain in his forehead, far eclipsed by the roar of pain that seemed to set his every nerve af-

No. Don’t focus on that.

He forced himself to lean back, kneeling upright, but unable to stand up properly, as his vision cleared. Part of it was red, though, and he reached up to wipe at his left eye, his hand coming away with blood… blood that had run from his eye down, like tears. But also blood from his forehead.

What?

“S-sir, are you… alright?” a new voice spoke up, drawing his attention to his side.

A scruffy-looking man in an EMT uniform had knelt down next to Basil, without him even noticing it at first. He was looking at Basil, with both worry and.. fear, in his sight.

“I can not honestly say that I am,” Basil replied, only to find that just moving his jaw and tongue intensified the pain considerably.

It was getting bad enough that his eyes were losing focus, the world turning blurry again.

“Are you, um, going to repeatedly smash your head into the ground again? Is that… something to do with your power?”

“What? Why w- oh.” It clicked. Somehow, for some reason, he’d started banging his head against the floor, using the purely physical pain of the act to distract himself from the pain that DiL was causing to him again, now that Lady Light had…

He looked down at his wrist. The glittering band she’d created was still there – he hoped that was a sign that she was still alive.

The last thing the world needed right now was to lose Lady Light. Especially with another world war starting up.

Deal with the here and now first, mate

The EMT was still watching him, waiting for an answer.

“It would take too long to explain, Sir. Might I impose on you for some aid?” He gestured at his bleeding forehead.

“Ah, of course, let me take care of that,” the older man said, and opened a small kit he’d been carrying. “Least I can do to help defend this city, young man.”

Basil nodded, though he stayed quiet as the wound was disinfec-

Ow. Another power change.

It’s only gonna get worse, mate.

He pressed the signaling device’s button, doing his best to stay still until the wound was cleaned out and covered by a large, adhesive bandage.

“There you go,” the scruffy EMT said, standing back up. “What are you gonna do now?”

Basil stood up as well, rolling his shoulders and flexing his fingers.

Then he pointed straight towards the locus of the fight, where spears of what appeared to be red light were shooting up, like a flower in full bloom.

“Throw myself straight into that.”

The man looked at it, then at Basil, and for a moment, he was sure the older man was actually considering dragging him away from the fight. Not that he’d stand a chance to succeed.

In the end, though, he didn’t go through with that impulse.

“Yeah. Godspeed, son.”

Basil nodded, and ran off, going straight for the nearest teleportation node.

***

As soon as Basil closed in on the battle, he realised that it had fundamentally changed – and not just because his headache was getting exponentially worse the closer he came to DiL.

Where before the defenders of New Lennston had been focused entirely on countering DiL’s powers, while minimizing the risk to themselves and the damage to the city, all that had now been abandoned in the face of DiL’s new-found vulnerability.

There was no restraint now. Scores of metahumans, capes, cowls and civilian alike, were all but throwing themselves at her, unleashing a dizzying flurry of powers upon her, with but one goal – to penetrate her remaining defenses and end her.

The sheer killing intent radiating off all of these massed metahumans seemed to have an almost physical presence.

Anyone but DiL – and maybe a handful of other metahumans in history, her parents among them – would have been struck down in seconds.

Since this was DiL though, Basil emerged out of the teleportation node only to immediately lean backwards, almost bending double, as he just barely avoided having his head sliced off at the neck by a thread of bright blue light that’d reflected off of her current defensive power, and which did slice the computer store in half, in which he’d bought some parts to construct his ravenbot nest, so long ago.

That almost removed your head as something to worry about, mate.

He ignored the returned voice, straightening himself up to look at the fight, to look for any chance to contribute, to help.

DiL was still where she’d fallen when Hanabi’s fireworks first went up. He could barely see her, lying on her side, her modesty barely preserved by her glowing hair, which had spread out around her, slowly digging into the street by dissolving any material it came into contact with, and preventing any ground-bound fighters from closing in on her.

Oscillating dodeca fractals the size of dinner plates were flying all around her, dozens of them, interposing themselves between her and any attack that came in – and even when they only hit a part of an attack, they redirected the whole of it, often but not always multiplying it as well. Her defensive choice, it seemed.

Her only choice, apparently, as there were no other power effects originating from her noticeable in any fraction.

That had to mean something, even if the fractals alone were doing great work of messing up all efforts to actually get to her and finish the deal.

Even Basil felt thoroughly dizzy, watching the chaotic mess around her, yet he still did it, trying to see past the power effects and focus on the actual being behind it – though he did keep his senses sharp, ready to dodge any attack coming his way.

When a gap opened amidst the fireworks, he finally got a straight glimpse at DiL – and the expression he saw on her face gave him pause, preventing him from taking any action, if he could even have done anything.

Or rather, the fact that she had any expression at all.

DiL looked confused. It wasn’t an angry kind of confusion, or a sad one, or anything like that.

It was the expression of a child, a toddler, in a grown woman’s body, staring at the world around herself with complete and utter befuddlement.

Innocent, ignorant, of what was truly happening.

You can’t be serious, mate.

Basil staggered back, then dropped into a backwards roll, dodging two or three redirected attacks which chewed up the spot of the street he’d just been standing on, sliced the lamp post behind him in half and a painfully bright shower of rainbow-colored sparks.

She’s…

She’s a monster! You’ve seen what she’s done! You studied it, and now you’re seeing it live! Take those crappy rail-blades of yours and make with the stabby!

Basil shook his head, pulling back further. He needed… he needed to think. To work this out.

God, my head hurts so bad…

He closed his eyes as another bright flash of pain went through his head, DiL’s powers changing – but where before, the flash would have passed as they settled, it continued.

Waves of golden energy rippled out from DiL, travelling across the ground, in every direction, spikes of near-liquid matter shooting up at everyone they passed underneath.

At the same time, another offensive power, glass-like shards, like shattered force-fields, spraying up into the sky, only to suddenly change direction, becoming beyond-razor-sharp projectiles that rained down on everyone and everything within the Desolation Field’s range.

Two wheels of fire formed above DiL’s prone form, as big as trailer truck’s largest wheel, spinning rapidly in place, then starting to also spin in a lopsided circle above her, unleashing volley upon volley of fireballs that sucked the heat out of everything they touched, flash-freezing it instantly.

And another, a fourth power, a cord of green energy that flitted and whirled about, like a string of yarn being held in front of a ventilator – and wherever this one touched, flesh bloomed forth, twisted teratoma growing arms, legs, eyes, hair, entrails, a chaotic jumble of flesh, growing upon anything at all – from the unlucky humans to be touched, to the very concrete and metal lamp posts.

Basil could see it all being unleashed, in split seconds, and he knew there was no way for him to dodge it all – there was just too much, all at once, and that didn’t even account for the ongoing torrent of paralyzing pain.

He saw shards of razor-sharp force-fields come flying, at the same time as the green cord flicked his way – only for all of it to impact a concave force-field, invisible but for the purplish bursts of light that traced their way through it where the attacks impacted it.

Amy?

Looking up and right, he saw his sister, floating high above in the air, one arm outstretched, palm open and facing him, as her eyes burned with purple light, her jaw set in an expression of intense focus.

Her right arm was outstretched as well, gesturing as she manipulated dozens of force-fields, shooting about to block attacks, protecting others as well as herself, grabbing some to move them elsewhere – and then she did the same with Basil, a gesture of her left hand causing the force field that’d just saved his life to wrap around him and launch him into the distance, straight away from DiL’s location.

“No, Amy, I-” he tried to shout, but he didn’t have enough of a breath in him, and the only thing that came out was a groan.

Amy, let me help!

No, Basil. You stay safe, came the response, calm and clipped, if only because of how focused she was on the battle itself.

Before he could reply, the connection cut off, and the force field holding him winked out, leaving him to tumble through the air, above rows of buildings.

He tried to right himself, to see where he was going to land and what he could do to avoid splattering on the ground or a wall, when it became evidently clear that Amy hadn’t just been blindly tossing him about – a blue-tinged cloud formed in his flight path and caught him, turning a darker shade of blue as it seemed to literally drain the kinetic energy out of him.

It quickly flew down and deposited him on a broad balcony above the entrance to the Lennston Historic Museum.

Right next to Gloom Glimmer, who was leaning on the elaborately carved stone balustrade, trying to make it seem casual with her arms crossed on top to lean on, yet revealing a mountain of exhaustion, of many kinds, with literally everything from the set of her shoulders to the pained smile she gave him.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” she quipped lightly, her shoulders sagging almost imperceptibly as the cloud she’d conjured dissipated. “People are going to start talking.”

Basil’s reply was another pained groan, as he almost fell over, just barely catching himself with one hand upon the balustrade, the other going to his head, holding it as if he could physically hold it together against the onslaught of pain.

In the distance, DiL kept spewing out more and more powers, dozens now, the oldest ones only slowly fading away – too slowly, causing the number of powers to keep going up.

And they were, seemingly, all offensive, and brutally so, yet far more crude than she tended to display, pounding her surroundings with neither rhyme nor reason – they did not appear to specifically target anyone or anything in particular.

“Brennus? Hey, Brennus, focus!”

Gloom Glimmer’s drew Basil’s focus back to himself, her warm hands – warm, even through the soft gloves of her full-body suit – touching his cheeks, turning his head away from the staggering display of powers.

“Look me in the eyes!” she commanded him, and his blood-shot eyes met pools of red on a black ground.

It was like stepping out of an over-heated building out into a cool autumn night, the blanket of darkness drawn over his mind soothing away the pain, shielding him from the glaring light of DiL’s power.

The sudden relief – though he could still feel some pain, it was barely a pinprick anymore – was so intense it almost caused him to collapse on the spot.

Ho-ly shit, mate, this girl’s a godsend.

She looked up at him – he was once more struck by how much shorter than him she was, when she wasn’t floating around – and her surprisingly red lips tilted into a gentle smile.

“Better now?”

He nodded, slightly, her hands still cupping his cheeks.

She used her thumbs to wipe tears he hadn’t even noticed he’d shed from his cheeks – at least they weren’t bloody, this time – and then let go, taking a step away.

He almost followed her, a part of him yearning for that gentle touch in the face of all the pain and heartwrench he’d gone through over the last twenty-four hours.

Almost.

“Y-yes, much better. Thank you,” he said, and found his voice to be surprisingly hoarse, as if he’d been screaming at the top of his lungs for a good long time.

Maybe he had.

“What… how are you doing this?” he asked, after a moment of thinking through a much clearer head.

She shrugged. “I theorized that your – and Polymnia’s – headaches within the Desolation Field are due to your high synchronization with your powers – too much data is bleeding over into your brains, more than they are equipped to deal with. I am… basically using a power that lets me take some of that load off. Like running several computers in parallel to deal with a greater data stream at once. You should probably notice that your gadget ideas aren’t coming as hard and fast as they usually do,” she explained, almost on a single breath.

Basil blinked, processing the amount of information she’d just dumped on him – and the implications it made.

He was pretty sure only a handful of people, at best, would’ve known to explain this to him.

A brief moment of introspection revealed that his power was working more slowly than usual, the ideas and observations it fed him even more fragmented than they already tended to be.

“Yes, it is. Not that I mind,” he replied, leaning heavily on the balustrade. “Thank you.”

Her smile briefly lost the sadness and worry it’d carried, and became a thing of beauty indeed. “You’re very welcome,” she said, softly. Then she giggled, drawing a curious look from him. “This power, I’ve used it a few times, to drain other peoples’… skills would be a wrong word. Their intellect, perhaps. This is the first time I’m using it to help someone.”

“I suppose even a power like that has more than one use,” he said, turning back towards the distant spectacle.

It wasn’t distant enough, really. DiL had already demonstrated that she could easily cover the entire area within her field with attacks, though she was currently not doing so, for whatever reason – though it was likely to be just chance, considering the chaotic expression of powers.

Some of them didn’t even seem to do anything, other than generate weird visual effects.

If he squinted, he could see a dot of purple light flying above the locus of it all, fighting tooth and nail against the onslaught.

“I wish I could help,” he said, feeling his heart wrench with worry and guilt. Worry, for the defenders as a whole, but for his sister in particular. Guilt, because it should be him protecting her, not the other way around.

It made little sense, her being the older and more powerful sibling, and yet it was a true thing, a conviction that he should be there, between her and any threat.

“So do I,” Gloom Glimmer agreed, leaning onto the balustrade again, watching the distant fight, her eyes, though inhuman in their coloring, expressing very human fear and sadness. “So do I.”

“Why?” he couldn’t keep himself from asking. “Why are you still here? With your power… why are you not helping, if you want to?”

He didn’t mean to make it sound accusatory, and he was quite certain he hadn’t, yet she still flinched, as if struck.

“I’m burning too quickly through my powers, against her,” she replied, her eyes still transfixed onto the distance. “Fewer powers, weaker ones, coming up slower… I’m afraid to go in there, fight, only to end up having to be saved again, distracting someone who might otherwise k… ki…”

She squeezed her eyes shut, unable to say the word.

“Who might… stop her,” she finished, finally settling on a less troublesome word.

“I understand.” That was basically what’d just happened to him, charging in mindlessly, only to have to be saved by his sister.

Boy, what a freaking pity party.

Shut. Up.

There was quiet, for a few moments.

Then Gloom Glimmer opened her eyes again, unshed tears adding a shine to her red-on-black orbs. “That’s not true,” she said, only to elaborate when he turned his head to look at her, confused. “I mean… it’s not the reason… it’s not the only reason why I’m, here. And not, there.” She gestured at the fighting.

A quick glance showed Basil that DiL had essentially become a wellspring of powers, spewing more effects out in chaotic waves than were arrayed against her.

He should’ve been terrified, or at least concerned, that she was exceeding her previously assumed limitations, but he truly did not have the energy left to do so.

Eh, so things are incomparably worse than anyone assumed them to be. What else is new around here?, the Man in the Moon commented, quite unhelpfully.

Basil did what he could to ignore him, and focus on Gloom Glimmer, his eyes looking at the side of her face.

She continued to speak, without being prompted: “I think, the biggest reason is, that I’m afraid. Not of, dying – though, I am. I am terrified of dying. But even more so, I… I can tell, my power is straining itself to keep up. I’ve pushed it harder, today, than I ever have before, throughout my entire life.” A gulp followed, then: “I’m afraid of pushing it further. Of pushing too hard, of dropping down into this… this vast well of darkness, from which my powers rise, and not coming out again. Or worse, coming out, but…” Her voice turned into a whisper, “Coming out like her. A monster.”

Tears started to run down her unmarred cheeks, as she watched people die in the distance.

Basil averted his eyes. “A well of darkness,” he said, trying to focus on something other than the emotions in her statement.

“Well is, the wrong word, perhaps. An ocean, really. A vast sea of pure blackness, from which powers rise up, like lights drifting towards the sky. It’s weird, I know, but that’s how my power appears to my mind’s eye,” she explained. “I’ve lived with it, for as long as I can recall, and I’ve always feared what might lie below it.”

Quiet fell between them again, with only the cacophony of battle to make it anything but flawlessly so.

Occasionally, Gloom Glimmer would reach out with one arm, gesturing at a distant figure about to be struck by an attack, moving them, teleporting them or otherwise shielding them from harm.

He couldn’t help but smile at the sight.

“What?” she asked, eyes filled with those same unshed tears.

“I do not think it could be such a bad thing,” he answered her, as their eyes met once more.

“What do you mean?”

“You, looking at what is beneath that ocean,” he clarified, smiling as reassuringly as he knew how to. “I do not think you could ever truly be a monster.”

Tears slipped out of her eyes, which were overflowing with pent-up emotions he couldn’t even begin to imagine.

“Take it from someone whose entire existence is defined by jaw-dropping Ignorance – to not know, even the most basic things about oneself, there is no greater fear. No more binding chains. I wish I could know. No matter what I found out, I want to know it. And so should you. Because, maybe knowing it, discovering it, will doom you. Or maybe it will set you free. But remaining ignorant means that the chains will be the only option.”

He shrugged, breaking eye contact as he turned away from her again. “In the end, Knowledge… is… Freedom.

“I… I don’t know… I mean, I…” She shook her head, putting both hands onto the balustrade, squeezing the cold rock so hard it cracked. “I’m so…”

Three twinkles of red light glimmered in the distance, approaching rapidly, and Basil’s body moved almost before he made the choice to, one hand going to the distracted Gloom Glimmer’s shoulder, shoving her out of the path of the first beam of almost solid red light, as thick as Basil’s thigh, which would have punched a hole from the crown of her head all the way through her body.

With that same shove, he also moved his chest out of the way of the second beam, even as it split into a dozen lesser beams, just barely dodging having his torso turned into swiss cheese.

“Darn, I got distracted, I-” She froze, staring at him, the black and red draining out of her eyes, soft, almost jewel-like blue returning.

Basil opened his mouth to tell her… something… but he couldn’t even make a sigh, feeling nothing but blood bubble out past his lips.

Looking down, he was confused to see three holes through his torso, each as thick around as his biceps. One through where he assumed his heart to be, one through the right lung, and another straight through the lower left side of his ribcage, having disintegrated his floating rib, and more.

Oh, bugger, he thought, as shadows encroached his vision, as they did his mind.

The world tilted, spinning, his body collapsing like a puppet which’d had its strings cut all at once.

The last thing he saw was Gloom Glimmer throwing up a force field to shield herself from another attack, even as she reached out for him with her other hand, her face twisted in shock – but unharmed.

At least I did not fail twice on the same day…

Then, the pain was gone for good, as was everything else.

***

In the middle of the desperate fight, suddenly, the entire battle was interrupted.

A scream tore its way out of Mindstar’s throat and mind alike, propagating outwards by means both natural and not.

It was a scream unlike anything anyone within its reach had ever heard, except perhaps the Dark himself. A primal thing, beyond thought or reason, beyond even such prosaic things as rage or grief.

The scream – though that was an inadequate word to describe it, for the actually, physically audible component was but the smallest fraction of the whole – distorted reality around her, blowing away everything – every single power’s effects, every speck of dust, every body close enough to be caught in its innermost wake, every thought and emotion; everything was blown away out of a rapidly expanding sphere of nothing but that colossal distortion.

Even DiL seemed to feel it, her whole body flinching, head turning to look straight up at Mindstar.

Basil’s sister continued to scream as she directed her burning purple gaze down upon her quarry, and shot towards her with such force she out-sped her own wake.

Powers emerged from DiL once more, a dazzling number, too many to count, but Mindstar created a pentagonal force field in front of her.

It shattered, as soon as it came into contact with the onslaught of powers, yet another was right behind it to absorb more of it.

And another.

And yet another.

Dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands of layers, generated at beyond the speed of thought, layered upon one another, blocked DiL’s aimless, omnidirectional assault, and Mindstar shot straight through it, impacting her foe.

Said impact was so forceful it blew the dust away once more, the pressure wave throwing several capes and cowls off their feet or sending the flying ones tumbling, those who’d somehow resisted the impact of her scream – resisted the continuing effect of it, as she didn’t stop screaming, be it in body or in mind, even now.

The ground cracked, and collapsed, buildings falling apart as the city immediately around where she’d hit sagged into the ground.

To those still able to see was revealed an utterly discordant sight – Mindstar was straddling DiL, screaming at the top of her lungs as her fists rained strike upon strike down on the prone maiden of terror.

With each strike came a burst of purple energy, as if she had her fists wrapped in her own force fields, enhancing their power.

Blow upon blow rained down upon DiL, pulverizing the confused girl’s face, splattering red and grey gore all over the ground around them, and upon the raging villainess’s costume and mask.

More blows came, until nothing was left of the head but liquid and some chips of white bone, but she was not done yet.

Fists opened into claws and ripped into the headless body, sinking into flesh like it was clay, tearing it apart.

One arm was broken and twisted off at the elbow, tossed aside carelessly, while the other was torn straight out of the socket with a sickeningly wet sound. Breasts and ribs went flying, pulped into unrecognizable masses by the sheer force of her hands clenching around them. Lungs, stomach and heart, torn and crushed. The spine, pounded into the ground until it was so much fine paste.

Only when everything above the waist had been returned to little more than a red cover upon the ground, the still-glowing mass of hair surrounding them and covering the purple girl’s fists up to the elbows, did her assault, her rage and her scream abate.

She stumbled up onto her feet, staggering, barely staying atop her delicate heels as she turned away, arms hanging down, shoulders slumped.

Above her, the Desolation Field dissipated, the day turning into night once more, and the light faded from DiL’s hair, leaving long, golden locks behind, with a single, purple eye lying amidst their coils.

Men and women, heroes and villains, they all stared down in sheer shock, as the purple girl staggered aimlessly around within the crater she’d made, mindlessly repeating the same whispered words, over and over.

“Basil… Basil… I’ve got to find… Basil… I can’t… can’t feel… Basil… Basil… Basil…”

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84 thoughts on “14.7 Breaking Point

  1. I’m sorry this is so late, but getting this chapter – particularly the scene before the, ah, beam spam, to work to my satisfaction was a lot more work than I would have expected.

    Interesting fact: that last scene was written as it is now, almost exactly eleven months before I posted the very first chapter of this story.

    @Ansraer: I’m sorry I couldn’t distract you from that troublesome exam, though i hope this’ll at least take the sting out of it. Even if I fear it’s far from the pick-me-up you might have been hoping for.

    • Wow ähm äh wow. Yeah this is not what I expected. Like, at all. I am kind of upset right now. And also excited.
      Basil dieing was something I did definitely not see coming, even with the few hints you dropped. I mean, I guess he will probably be brought back, but still.

      Fun thing is, I might actually be more upset about DiLs death. She was always this enormous looming threat with God like powers and I just assumed that she would be the final enemy that only gets defeated at the very end. If she really was an enemy.
      With how you hinted at there being a pattern to her attacks I assumed that she would turn out to actually be more than a living WMD. tbh I was actually looking forward to some form of redemption arc (maybe in a fight against the sleeper or the godking for her, anything really that would give her more personality than she had so far. Her being killed just like this feels a bit anticlimactic honestly. And maybe also like a bit of a waste.

      In one of the interludes you mentioned that the reason why the Dark never killed Ember is because he is attempting something so ambitious that the Dark has long given up on it. (Or something along these lines, has been a while since I read that particular chapter)
      I theorized that said thing was “healing” Bree. While reading this chapter I always expected Ember to show up any moment now that DiL could no longer run from him… Guess I was wrong about that…

      Yeah, this was definitely not what I was hoping for. I still enjoyed reading it, but damn, you didn’t really answer any questions I had. I am looking forward to how they are going to deal with the aftermath of this battle.

      Thanks for remembering btw. And sorry for this mess of a comment, I am still processing this chapter and it’s impact on the future of this story…

  2. Bloody Hell….. That was shocking! And you says you’ve been planning this from the start?

    Oh, poor Amy… poor Basil… Poor Bree…. hell, this is a nightmare all the way around, isn’t it?

    • Didn’t notice this was posted before my birthday.
      That end made me feel something.
      Hope you write peoples immediate reactions to what amy just did

  3. “Basil could saw it all being unleashed”
    I think something is amiss with that bit, should either remove the could or change saw to see.

    Also, damn that chapter was something between Basil’s”death” which I somehow doubt or think might be getting Embered at some point given the apparent bound between the two(even more so if Basil really IS Macian)to the apparent death of poor Bree(the bit where it was shown she was just confused was…yeah)by Amy who showed a lot more power that she is supposed to have, well that SHE knows about at least as she did manage to fight Lady Light and get away so yeah she is like Basil/totallynotMacian with her power being way more than what is apparent, and damn this was impressive wonder how people will see her after this.

    The bit about Gloomy describing her power was interesting too I wonder what would happen if she did delve in that ocean, that is a very intriguing point. On another note, for some reason(it might be apparent as I qualified it as apparent earlier in this comment)I am not totally convinced of Bree’s death given all the powers she can have at her disposition as there might be a reincarnation power and/or uber regeneration among those.

    Now if Bree is really dead this is might not be a good thing at all as it might be a huge factor in the cold war becoming a hot one now that the roving natural disaster is gone the Nato and the Sovjet can now allocate their full resources to a possible conflict(well the latter have a revolution going on in their midst but that might spur the western forces into attacking as they now have more resources to use for that).

    Anyway cannot wait for the next update, hope it comes soon! And this was great stuff once more.

  4. What a lovely birthday present! Thanks for the chapter. Feel free to take your time, we appreciate everything we get.

      • You know I was more surprised by Bree’s apparent death than by Basil’s as I was expecting it to happen at some point before the end of Book one and because we got some foreshadowing about Ember having a connection with Brennus(Him drawing his symbol and since there are good chances that Basil is at least a part of Macian or that Macian is a part of Basil…yeah)and him being in the resurrection business again when he brought back that baby so yeah I was expecting Basil’s death and I think he might get Embered at some point but Bree nope, in fact, I’ll say again I cannot shake off my doubt about that I mean she must have something to come back, some assurance among all her abilities.

  5. Corrections :
    Oscillating {dodeca} fractals the size of dinner plates

    WHAT IS dodeca

    And I READ

    Her only {choise}, apparently, as there were no other power effects originating from her {noticable} in any fraction.
    AS
    Her only {choice}, apparently, as there were no other power effects originating from her {noticeable} in any fraction.

  6. Love it as always. I doubted Basil was making it through Book 1 alive, but I expected that to be at the end… Nice.

    In the end this first book is about his story, so there’s no way we’re not resolving his inner mysteries somehow. Which requires some consciousness that is Basil/notBasil to make an appearance.
    Ember-resurrection. Mysterious mind-controller or Lady Light does something about it. Reveal that Basil is a copy/clone/double of Macian. Some other completely unexpected tieshaunn masterstroke. I know we’ll get the latter…

    Totally felt for poor confused Bree at the end. And for poor little Amy. And damn Vasiliki is going to be just done. And Irene.

    So rewarding!

  7. Thanks for the chapter, damn that plot twist though :D. I’ve been checking once a day for a new chapter, and at first, I didn’t even realize there was one. I flipped to another tab, then was like wait. Wait a second.

  8. I hadn’t realised Amy could throw around forcefields like that. I always thought of her power as pure telekinesis, strictly moving or stopping things, maybe blasts of pure force. We’re forcefields always how she moved things or a separate power?

    • Remember when she showed Basil her forcefield that bent light around her so she could be invisible?

      In any case her emotional state evidently released some tap on her power, almost like Lady Light was just doing (though LL can do it at will!). Is the tap shut back off now, I wonder? Will she suffer consequences from having overdrawn herself? I’m guessing a part of becoming truly powerful (besides the base powerset of course, and besides tactical experience and acquired skill) is learning the control that LL seems to have, that is, being able to access all that one’s power can offer at any given time. Maybe I’m wrong, though – since you said no one can force a Swan Song at will. I wonder if LL *had* it in her to overpower Weisswald if she wasn’t out of her mind with grief.

      Now that makes me think. If power usage is influenced by emotions, and if one is able to control emotion (one’s own or another’s) to a sufficient degree, would that enable someone to get *more* out of a power at will? But that being said, true depth of emotion can’t be faked. And I’m sure there are plenty of metas who DIDN’T get so lucky as to have their rage turn into power when they needed it most, and that this sort of thing happens as rarely, or more, than manifestations. I guess what’s really my question is…is Amy’s overpowered Bree-spree replicable? As in, is that the level of power she really could have access to at will? I’m not really asking for an answer here as I expect we’ll learn the answer or infer it in the coming chapters…

      Also, you’ve said your second book will be centered on a different character’s perspective. You’ve also said Irene will be very important down the line. From this chapter and others I think you’re setting up Irene to be that second lead. Even if not, her character arc is already shaping up to be extremely interesting!

      • Not all powers are influenced by emotions. If you want it in game terms, this would be a perk (if they boost) or flaw (if they weaken) the power.

        Amy’s power works on a different mechanism, though.

      • But the question is HAS she overdrawn herself? Remember she was able to fight off Lady Light by herself at one point and get away with it which is quite something and would require a lot of power and skill to do and she does not remember how she did that then there is the fact that she like Basil has her memories rearranged so my take on this is that like him her power is a lot more than she uses day to day as Mindstar and that she may have something analogous to the Man of the Moon within her and that this is what fought Lady Light back then and might even have messed with her own and Basil’s memories and that here the distress of no longer feeling Basil drove her to bluntly tap into her full power without the buffer of her equivalent of the Man on the Moon.

      • True emotions can’t be faked. Yes, literally true.
        give someone enough drugs, though, and you get fun hallucinations.
        Well, if you’re playing on fear, and you just made someone chemically paranoid…

      • Yes but she describes her invisibility as bending light and sound with telekinesis. Here it’s clearly described as forcefields and from the way she freely uses then and Brennus doesn’t think it’s odd, it’s clear that this isn’t some new aspect of her power. It seems really odd to me that forcefields usage has never been shown before it when Mindstar has described her powers multiple times and fought in big and small battles but in this chapter we suddenly see a new facet of her abilities and it’s presented as something normal.

      • looking back at it, I could’ve been more precise in describing her powers. but I do constantly state that the early chapters need to be rewritten.

        Amy’s force-fields and telekinesis are effectively the same power/trick, just used differently. spread out as a plane to block attacks, or wrapped around something to manipulate it (that’s why she can crush someone she can see, but she can’t rip their heart out from the inside out – she has to rip them open to reach in, first)

    • Well in a lot of works of fiction telekinetics are capable of generating forcefield effects once they are at a certain level so I think that this is what happened here.

      By the way, I also think that her power to alter her appearance is not a separate ability but merely an extension of her Telekinesis that she applies to herself and that the current Amy is not aware of that.

      • Well yes, she has telepathy and all that goes with it too…Seriously though it was just a theory as good enough telekinesis could help one modify themselves or other things.

        That being said, if usually, Amy does not use her Telekinetic and Telepathic powers to the fullest that makes one wonder if the same applies to the Shapeshifting one…

      • That’s rather ominous when you think about the fact that Amy most likely grew up with the Six and that amongst them there is Hemming who is THE Shapeshifter in setting(at least the best KNOWN because as a rule, a very powerful shapeshifter like that COULD hide themselves or the true extent of their power rather easily)and that her power is most like influenced by his at least in some ways, now add to that the info mentioned in another comment down the line with the Shapeshifting set also involving Atrocity…Yeah.

        Speaking of Atrocity I am really curious to see her true self and the person she is in a relationship with that is IF we haven’t already seen them without knowing who they are…

  9. I am going to take this as confirmation of my long standing theory that Amy is actually secretly the strongest psycokinetic/telepath to ever live. I have two working theories. The original one is that Amy is such a powerful psychic that the can create artificial minds. She created several of these for Macian and herself and remodeled both of their memories and bodies so that they could live in secrecy. It was probably Macian’s idea to do this. In my original theory, Amy’s powers are a result of her own power manifestation. In my second theory, Mindfuck actually dies by Macian using some crazy brain tapping technology to completely wipe his mind and make him basically a vegetable with only enough brain function to remain alive. Then he transplanted his sister’s mind into Mindfuck’s body and did a bunch of crazy macian level surgery to make the body into the body Amy has now. And with her powers, she subconciously does the rest.

    Anyway, basically, Amy has been the secret influencer behind the scene the whole time, but nobody knew, including her, because her body was being run by a sub-program.

      • Yup. It’s crazy and most likely wrong, but nothing in the story confirms it as impossible yet.

      • Here is an audacious theory: Since both Basil and Amy are 2nd gen they need 1st gen meta source code, sort of. I’m assuming parents are most common/viable. What if Hemming is the maternal instead of father?

      • ALMOST as messed up?! I take that as a challenge! . . . Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for me to come up with something more messed up and twisted than that. Hmmm. . . (Time passes) ok, new theory! And I am proud of how horrible this is.

        Macian’s sister died. Macian broke under the emotional strain and did something crazy. He used magical technology to try and remake his sister into an AI by using one of her brain scans as a template. This would be the invention that led to eudocia. But the sister AI would need a body. Here we go back to mindfuck. The AI was somehow loaded into mindfucks mind while erasing all of his former sense of self. Of course macian would find it almost impossible to perceive this artificial monstosity as his sister, so he modifies his own mind to create the character of Basil. He also doesn’t fully trust his new creation, so he writes in some mind code to make “Amy” extremely and excessively protective and loving toward him such that he is the center of her entire world and literally can not function without him. Macian would be disgusted at acting like this mutilated and twisted mindfuck with artificialy obsessive love toward him was his sister, but Basil, (another totally artificial personality) would have no problem accepting this as reality.

        Behold my new theory! Marvel at how disgusting it is! Behold it’s moral perversion! Admire it’s desperate depravity and corruption of all that is pure!

        If you still say what you wrote is more messed up than that, I quit, and you win.

      • And to explain some of the strangeness of amy’s powers, the AI loaded into mindfuck’s brain had it’s own power awakening.

    • That isn’t that out there. We know that Macian’s little sister was stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster, and I suspect that not all her pieces were from her original body (if she was even born as his biological sister). So maybe Macian used parts of Mindfuck’s brain in his repairs to Amy.

      I’ve been assuming that Basil’s mind was something that Ember made as a gift for Macian… But I see no reason why a powerful enough telepath couldn’t do the same. And if Amy did it, it would still fit that the changes imposed on Basil/Macian weren’t malicious.

      • You are assuming that it was Macian that stitched Amy back together. Why not Atrocity? It would be a way better fit for her power.
        Now that I think about it all of Amy’s powers are suspiciously similar to what members of S6 have. Telepathy, Shapeshifting, Forcefields,… And now with tieshaunn repeatedly hinting at Amy’s power being more powerful than we thought…there are probably only a handful of metas that are more powerful than the S6 in their respective fields.
        This would also explain why they started a global manhunt to find Macian: They weren’t pissed of because a gadgeteer got away, they were pissed of because he took their experimental superweapon with him.

        Let’s take this one step further. We know that Lemming used to be a hero with some form of superintelligence. What if he only created the S6 to get access to the people he needed to save the world from DiL? In his own warped perception of reality he might still be a hero…

      • Huh. Not saying you’re right, but I like this so much, here’s a goodie:

        Fire Burial/Pristine = Telekinesis/Force Fields

        Atrocity/Hemming/Mindfuck = Telepathy Cluster

        Atrocity/Hemming: Shapeshifting

        Heretic = ???

      • @ansraer: Well I do not think either Macian or Amy might be termed as super weapons even if their full powers are great and potentially at the levels of the likes of the five and the Shining guardians or even people like Lady Light, the Dark and her Highness Queen Madeleine I would see them more as experiments a stepping stone to what Hemming and Atrocity might be aiming for and a means to understand true second generation Metahumans(which they are)and perhaps powers in general.

        Now as to Hemming having created the Six in a sort of Heroic goal and sort of pulling a Cauldron well I could see it, his intellect might allow him to see something others do not and the Six’ rampage can help manifestation as it is easier to create negative ones than to induce positive ones and the circumstances the Six create can help to generate powerful manifestations but I do not think that the threat Hemming would be preparing for is Bree(poor thing)but something else maybe even linked to a certain sleeper a certain group tries to awaken.

        @Tieshaunn: Interesting information here though I am sure not all those clusters have only one result, for instance, I can see Atrocity/Hemming also generating a powerful Intellect/Gadgeteer power like Macian’s, of course, given you did not give Heretic’s effect that might be involved…Like, say something to do with dimensions which helps with the other aspects.

      • Wait, Atrocity is a shapeshifter?! I thought she was a precog/gadgeteer(/superintelligence) combo that turned herself into a cyborg using her gadgeteering power…

        And Heretic’s “???” worries me. Since you didn’t simply write “space/time contriver” I am assuming that there is either more to him than we know so far or that a specific aspect of his power somehow fits into my theory…

        Now that I think about it, shouldn’t the S6 have arrived already? You repeatedly hinted at them coming to LN soonish, and I really doubt that they will come so soon after DiL was killed. I am guessing that some of the most powerful metas will arrive soon to confirm DiL’s death themselves. Making a move now would probably be too hot even for the S6. So all the hints were either a red herring or way too early foreshadowing.
        Could it be that they have been here all this time already, (role-)playing their game(s)? Atrocities shapeshifting power suddenly worries me a lot more. And Basil died at the perfect time for Amy to go all out…

        I admit that this one is a bit more far fetched, and I don’t know how Jessica or Seanna could have been convinced to stay passive for any length of time, but I have this bad premonition that the S6 are still gonna play a significant role in this story before the first book ends.

      • Well, Atrocity influencing the shapeshifting aspect makes sense given her speciality as a Gadgeteer as for Heretic’s influence(if any but since he is in the list there must be some)I guess it might have something to do with her power levels and some of her not shown abilities. Also the connotation of the forcefields being linked to Pristine…Yeah, that has quite some implication on how powerful the forcefields Amy can make with her TK are.

      • Nice observation with the timing of Basil’s death, Ansraer.

        Did we ever learn what made the S6 able to strike cities without warning? Was it because precogs can’t see what is technically happening in a separate dimension? And the removal of a city from the regular dimension doesn’t itself count as an event that can be seen by precogs? Or maybe only the best precogs can, and it’s more along the lines of empty space in their awareness and so much harder to pin down, justl ike DiL and Ember etc?

      • @tieshaunn Oh, yeah that makes more sense. But I still wonder how Atrocity can have a working relationship with someone given her appearance…

        @birdyman Nobody sees the S6 coming because Pristine’s power protects her (and her surroundings) from absolutely everything. Including precogs. That was mentioned while Heretic was recreating his body after being killed by DiL.

      • That, and they have one of the world’s most powerful precogs (Atrocity) on their side. Plus, they’re reaching in from another reality.

        Add those three together, and…

      • @ansraer
        I figured that Macian put Amy back together because he was in the process of doing so in a flashback Amy had. Atrocity might have built her. Maybe. But we saw Macian fixing her. And Hotrod noted that the medical equipment Basil made matches Atrocity’s style, so it sounds like stuff he learned from her.

  10. Bloody hell, that was brutal. On multiple levels. The girls are going to be a wreck. All of them. Admittedly, there’s the chance of a Deus-ex-Ember, but… B6 does have some unresolved issues in his backstory, but he doesn’t necessarily need to be *alive* for them to be resolved.

    On another note, great storytelling Tieshaunn, totally worth the wait.

  11. Honestly the only word i can use to describe this chapter is awesome. That final bit with Amy was just perfect. The suddeness of that death was great, it was an anticlimax done right. Definitely my favourite chapter of the story it was absolutely worth the wait.

    • It does sometimes amaze me how far my awareness of a chapter differs from that of my readers. I spent so long trying to get this one right, constantly interrupted by financial, familial and health issues, that I finally just cobbled together a barely (to me) acceptable version and put it out, just to advance the plot.

      To me, this (and the previous) chapter seem like some of my worst.

      • ties, you’re really an excellent, excellent author with an imagination I wish I had. One of the things about awareness of the chapter… I think you have done so much worldbuilding and setup and foreshadowing over so much time that at this point, *whatever* happens feels like it’s just what we’ve been waiting for. At this point in the narrative, you basically can do no wrong in terms of pacing. In any case you’re way, way beyond the awkward first few volumes. Trust yourself, just tell the story, and we’ll be along for the ride.

      • They are definitely not your worst. Maybe not your best (e.g. the pacing felt somewhat inconsistent towards the end of this chap) but they are still very decent chapters. Definitely better than what most other authors put on the internet.

        And imo getting stuff perfect before you finished the entire book and have some feedback from a professional proofreader is not really worth it. I would recommend you take your time, only focus on the plot and just write down whatever comes to your mind. Getting hung up on perfecting everything will only cause you to get trapped in tunnel vision.
        We are reading this entire story for free, so I am sure that we all are more than willing to accept chapters that are not perfect and happy to post any mistakes we find in the comments.
        Should you insist on polishing your chapters before posting them I would recommend getting one or two volunteers to go over your drafts to fix the spelling and grammar. (assuming you are willing to let someone else touch your writing) It might delay the release of new chapters by a few days, but in turn, it would take some of the more tedious work off your shoulders. Almost all the other web novels I read have a fixed proofreader and afaik it is helping them a lot.

        Either way, don’t worry about writing perfect chapters. It sounds like you have a lot going on in RL right now, so don’t worry too much about things you do in your spare time and just have fun writing.
        Wish you all the best and really hope things will get better for you soon.

  12. Whether or not a second generation metahuman manifests with offensive,defensive or utilitarian powerset, is that preordained by his/her dormant tenant? It’s something I wonder.

  13. Is there any eta on the next infusion of blazing stars? It’s fine if there isn’t just asking.

    • I had the chapter almost done, last week. 8000 word chapter, written almost entirely in a single sitting.

      Then my 6yo tablet broke down, without warning. As befits my usual luck, I wasn’t able to recover any of it, and now had to start over. It’ll probably be a shorter version of the same chapter, just so I can put it out today or tomorrow, hopefully.

      Trying to sneak some writing time in, whenever I can.

      • Ugh. I feel for you.

        I guess this would be the wrong time to suggest dropbox integration?

      • I do have automatic backups set up, it just so happened that I was in a deadzone at the time.

        I live in a rather rural area, you see, and we don’t have perfect, or even halfway complete coverage around here.

        Kind of an “every possible thing that could go wrong did go wrong” thing. And it wasn’t just my writing that I lost, there was other data lost there.

  14. Everyone keeps mentioning Basil getting “Embered” but I’m thinking gloomy or the Dark get DiL embered, maybe without her powers or controllable powers, if Ember can do that. Not sure what if any limits he has. Love the story, keep up the good work.

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