By the time Brennus entered the room, Tyche had already had her right arm broken and four long gashes on her left hip dripped blood as she collapsed on the ground from a punch to the gut.
He can cut through my ceramic, thought Brennus, partly with fear but mostly with a mix of annoyance and humiliation. Hopefully, his own armor would prove more sturdy.
He would also need to clean up the blood before they left, so there would be no DNA evidence left behind – not to mention all the messed up stuff metahumans could do to people through their blood.
Better survive this first, though.
Panthera Rex reacted to his entrance with blinding speed, somersaulting towards Brennus, aiming a flying double kick at his chest. Brennus reacted by dropping to his knees, allowing for his momentum to carry him forward over the floor.
As the supervillain flew over him, Brennus shot him with the stun gun, hitting him squarely in the chest.
He seized up, his whole body shaking as the electricity coursed through him, and slammed into the wall to the left of the door.
Keep the pressure up, keep the pressure up, keep the pressure up…
Bending backwards, his gun muzzle tracking the villain even as he slid towards the prone Tyche, he fired another shot once the shot buffer had reloaded, dropping the villain even as he tried to get back up.
Now, to keep up the attack, or grab Tyche and make a run for it? But he still needed to clean up the blood, as well.
Just then, Hecate charged into the room, her staff in one hand, the thrown stun baton in the other.
“Hecate, left!” shouted Tyche.
Wrong, right from her point of view!
But before Brennus could correct her, Hecate turned to her left, leaving her back wide open to attack.
Panthera Rex obviously did not believe in honorable combat, because he took the opening, stabbing his right hand claw into her back.
For a moment, Brennus could see a flicker around his claws, as if the air was moving irregularly around them, then the plunged through her cloak and her enchanted suit, biting deep into her flesh.
She didn’t even scream as she went down, instead emitting a soft sigh.
“No!” screamed Tyche before throwing up on the spot and passing out. He had hit her bad.
At least her power does not depend on her being conscious, thought Brennus as he shot the villain the moment his claws slid out of Hecate’s back, but to no avail. Panthera Rex had seen it coming and evaded by simply jumping up to the ceiling, then kicking off to slam his shoulder right into Brennus.
The armor took the brunt of the attack, but he was still rattled as the impact audibly cracked the floor. The upside being that, while rattled, he was not stunned and could immediately react by putting the muzzle of his gun to the enemy’s chest and shoot him with a contact shot.
Panthera Rex made a growling groan as his body seized up again, allowing Brennus to pull his legs up and kick him off of himself and up into the air.
Which was not all that smart, all things considered, seeing how he seemed to have thing for bouncing off of walls and ceilings to attack from different angles.
Or it would have been if Hecate did not take the chance to shoot at him while he was unable to evade, her green blast throwing him in the opposite direction, moments before she collapsed for good.
Green blast means it is a lethal shot, thought Brennus. We agreed to stick to non-lethal means!
Then again, the guy had just impaled her on his claws. He was clearly going for the lethal solution.
Brennus rose to his feet, switching his gun over to his left hand to draw his humming blade with the right one.
Panthera Rex had fallen down behind the desk, his fur withered where it had been hit, but already recovering.
Protection four, Regeneration.
Anything short of massive trauma to the head or chest would probably prove not fatal.
And he can regenerate lost limbs, too. Just takes a lot of time.
He should have attacked with the humming blade from the start.
And the ravenbots, too, now that he thought about it. How had he forgotten those?
Even as the enemy was rising to his feet, Brennus charged forward, calling all his nearby ravens – the three in the room, twelve more around the building – to attack.
Unfortunately, again, Panthera Rex not only had enhanced senses, but also more than a decade of experience in fighting all kinds of enemies. The only reason they had survived this long against him was because he had merely been playing with them.
Judging by the bestial snarl on his half-human face, playtime was over.
He stopped Brennus’ charge by kicking the desk so it slid over and hit him in the gut, the cheap wood shattering against his armor, then punched the wall, which led to a demonstration of what even mid-level super-strength could do by propelling him backwards and through the converging cloud of ravens to kick Brennus in the face, throwing him back.
Good thing I built the neckpiece to automatically stiffen when I am hit like this, or I would have to deal with a broken neck.
Again, the impact absorbtion of his suit prevented him from being stunned too badly, and he attempted to capitalize on it by bringing his blade down on his enemy’s left arm – his claws were the only parts of him that could truly threaten him, the only weapon in his enemy’s disposal that could penetrate his armor.
But again, Panthera Rex foiled him. He gripped Brennus’ armored waist by crossing his arms, then flipped himself over by a spin and dug the claws of his feet into the floor for traction, followed by bending backwards, lifting the armored youth up and slamming him head-first into the floor behind him, cracking it even further.
Ow. I actually felt that.
This time, he truly was stunned as his body fell down with a loud slam.
Stop fighting normally, there is no way I will beat him like that, he knows all those moves.
So he fired his two grappling hooks from his waist-mounted launchers, to pull himself up to the ceiling… only for Panthera Rex to sweep his claws around and cut through the lines before they even connected with the ceiling.
The swipe was followed by a stomp that drove Brennus’ head into the floor, ringing his bells as a crack appeared across his visor, followed by the villain somersaulting backwards to evade the counterattack with the humming blade that would have taken his leg off.
Though that attack missed, it did buy Brennus the time he needed to flip over and push himself back up.
He tried to level his gun at his quarry, but Panthera Rex put his enhanced jumping ability to good use, moving too close to be shot as he struck the gun with one claw, cutting it in pieces.
Oh, come on. Can that thing not make it through one engagement?
Brennus struck him with his humming blade, angling his hand so he could stab him despite being so close.
Again, it proved futile, as Panthera Rex exploded into movement, his claws lashing out so fast Brennus could not follow.
Before he knew it, his sword, right-hand gauntlet, left-hand bracer and chest piece were either completely destroyed or raked so badly they might as well be, though thankfully the armor proved sturdy enough – and the hits shallow enough – to prevent any actual damage to his body.
Throwing himself backwards, he had his ravens descend on the veteran villain, only for him to tear them apart with another burst of speed, his claws tearing through their already fragile bodies with the same ease with which a scalding hot knife cut through warm butter, leaving only two ravens behind that Brennus had not ordered to attack in favour of positioning them on the bodies of his fallen comrades.
Taking heavy breaths, Brennus just stood there, his arms hanging limply as he was slightly bent forward, so as not to expose the damaged chest plate as an easy target.
Panthera Rex seemed to be at least slightly winded, though not nearly enough to make Brennus feel better about the ease with which his assets had been destroyed. The only weapons he had left were one stun baton and a simple knife he had added to his arsenal.
Why did I leave my stun grenades behind? They would be just the weapon to use against someone with enhanced senses.
Do you not remember? We took them apart to work on an upgrade for the ravenbots, since we are short on materials right now.
Blazing Sun? Where have you been, I had thought I had imagined you after all.
I am always with you. But you rarely listen.
No matter, when exactly did I- Ah, as if I did not already know there was something wrong with my memories. Any idea how to survive this?
Not my sphere of competence.
Thanks a lot for the help.
You are welcome.
“I wonder what you’re thinking, boy,” drawled Panthera Rex with a voice that was as distorted as one would expect a voice coming from a mouth that was halfway between a snout and a human mouth to be. “You don’t believe you can actually win this fight, do you? I’m just getting started.”
“It is not over until it is over,” replied Brennus, drawing his baton with his left hand – the right one was useless with the destroyed gauntlet.
The panther-man broke out into laughter, though he did not take his eyes off his opponent. “Oh, that’s a classic one. Have ya been studying up on some Rocky movies?” He made a motion with his hand, as if he was waving the thought away. “No matter. You’re done, and your two friends here need some medical attention, especially the witch. Surrender, and I’ll get them some medical attention.”
“That is oddly generous, considering that you wanted to kill us just moments ago.” His mind was racing, trying to find a way out.
“Not really. That one over there-” He pointed at Tyche. “- only has an Adonis power – or Physique, if you insist on that new rating – so she’ll sell at top dollar on the slave market. You won’t believe the prices metahuman sex slaves bring, if you know the right market.”
He did, actually, having studied up on it.
“And the other one will bring even more money if we sell her to the Califate. They always pay top-dollar for Contrivers. And let’s not even get started as to what a Gadgeteer like you is worth. We wouldn’t even need to look at the international market, or even out of the city.”
If he was not wearing a closed mask, Brennus would probably have spat at him. “Quite ironic, that the member of a group that started as an African-American pro-civil rights group – even a violent one – would engage in slavery.”
“Ha! Why does everyone freak out over that? It’s better than just killing you, right?”
“What makes you think I would make a good servant? Tyche could just be restrained if enslaved, the Califate would brainwash Hecate, but there is no way to ensure that I will not just blow my new ‘owner’ up.”
“We’d just sell you to the Five or somethin’. You wouldn’t be the first guy Mindstar got under her thumb.”
Now he had to bite back a laugh. It would almost be worth surrendering, just to see you try and sell me to her.
But he had to think of the girls. They really needed help, especially the badly bleeding Hecate.
“Let us end this,” he said, readying himself for an attack.
His enemy snorted and got into position himself, his claws stretched in anticipation.
A yellow-booted foot slammed into his jaw from the side, sending him spinning and right into the kick of a blue-clad girl, who kicked him back to the owner of the yellow-booted foot, a yellow-clad girl that proceeded to punch him in the throat and then, with an incredibly fluid movement, grabbed his arm, turned around and threw him over her shoulder and out of the window he had originally entered through.
* * *
The two girls were equally tall, almost as tall as he was, and their skintight suits, identical except for their monochrome colouring, showed off body shapes that rivaled Hecate’s. Something told him that they were twins, maybe their absolutely equal measurements his computer provided, or the way they stood.
He was just about to ask them who they were and what they wanted when Panthera Rex leaped back into the room, snarling in anger.
Brennus grabbed Tyche by the back of her neck (sending the raven over to sit on the windowsill) and ran towards Hecate. The yellow-clad girl stepped forward as if she was taking a stroll, one hand reaching out to draw his knife from his belt and engage the enemy even as he knelt down next to Hecate.
“Do you need anything?” asked the blue-clad girl with a faint German accent. “A first-aid kit, a helping hand…”
“The kit sounds good,” he replied, only for her to vanish. No flickering, no fading, no flash of light, one moment she was there and the next she was not.
A mere three seconds later, she reappeared, first-aid kit in hand. She opened it while crouching down, unconcerned about the battle behind them, and held it out for him.
For a moment, he was worried about her attitude, and he said so.
“Glik has got that one covered. No problem there,” said the blue-clad girl.
The ten-year veteran villain, who had survived in New Lennston despite a comparatively tame power-set engaged the slim girl with the knife. He lost.
Glik walked back after cleaning the knife on his fur and knelt down next to him, putting the knife back into its sheath, and took care of Tyche. She was not even out of breath.
Together they took care of the girls, even as the panther king behind expelled his last breath, dying quietly and alone.
Oddly detached from the sight, Brennus noted with surprise that he was not a Chimaera type, as everyone had believed. The panther-man turned into a dark-skinned, well-built man, naked and hairless.
Morphing two to three, at least.
“Are you up to getting away from here?” asked the blue-clad girl. “Oh, I’m Bluebell, by the way.”
He rose, carefully putting one of his teammates over each shoulder as he assigned one raven to watch Glik – if she tried to attack him, well, he would need every advantage he could get. “I am not as bad off as I may look. My name is Brennus, by the way. And thank you, for your help.”
“We know who you are. But we can talk once we’re safe. There should be reinforcements on the way here.”
Meanwhile, Glik took some capsules from a pouch that was attached to the back of her waist and threw them at the bloodstains left behind by Hecate and Tyche, short flashes of fire burning into the floor to destroy them. Then, she picked up the stun baton Hecate had dropped and put it into his belt.
Some kind of precognition, or enhanced awareness? She is too competent, too fluid.
He turned to Bluebell. “Can you teleport us out of here?”
She shook her head. “We need to get out the normal way. Let’s go.”
* * *
They stopped when they reached a dark alley that was hidden from view.
He turned to thank them, but Bluebell spoke up: “No gratitude required. Just answer us one question honestly.”
“Of course…” he said, wary. Hopefully, they would not ask for his true identity. Considering what he owed them, he could not really deny them an honest answer.
Both of them looked at him, conveying an intense attention, despite their featureless masks.
“Are you the man in the moon?”
Glik touched her sister and they both vanished instantly.
The fight between Panthera and Brennus was nice, but this sentence:
The ten-year veteran villain, who had survived in New Lennston despite a comparatively tame power-set engaged the slim girl with the knife. He lost.
didn’t feel quite as dramatic as you probably wanted it to be. It’s not like your audience isn’t used to appearance having no actual relation to how dangerous someone is.
it wasn’t supposed to be dramatic. I was going for, how do I say this right, a drop. tension, build-up, then it just drops, if that makes sense to you.
It made sense to me. Expecting this whole, huge, awesome match, but Pantera is just so outclassed.
How about anticlimatic? As in, used for effect.
Those two girls are pretty awesome. Mysterious, too. You like your mysteries Tieshaun! Well, it keeps us interested.
Hmm, maybe not “dramatic”, then. Maybe “impressive”? “Badass”? The point being, my reaction when I got to “He lost.” was something along the lines of glaring at my screen and thinking “Well, yeah, that’s obviously what was going to happen. Stop trying to emotionally manipulate me, words on the screen.”
Eh, whatever, I’m just a grumpy grump, feel free to ignore me.
It’s rare to use anti-climax intentionally to create effect.
Curiouser and curiouser……
I’m not sure if it’s you or Brennus, but I’ve noticed the lack of contractions. Also, how strong would Brennus be if he wasn’t mindfucked? Damn cryptic Bluebell and Glik. Macian and Ember crap. Myssssttteeeerrryyyy! I could not stop laughing. If Pantera Rex turned him over… He would get killed. Soooo much.
Brennus never uses contractions, and I avoid them when writing from his perspective. you’ll also notice some other oddities about his use of language (like his preferance of the metric system despite being an American) if you look closely
glad the joke worked
I was wondering about that. I assumed the metric was because he’s an intelligent human being who has to work with measurements.
that too, of course
but there’s more to it
If you want to drive that home, you might want to go back to https://tieshaunn.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/b002-rising-stars-part-7/ and have Brennus respond in metric as Polymnia responds in imperial:
Hecate asked: “Jeez, just how deep down are we?”
“1.21134 miles beneath sea level”, replied both Brennus and Polymnia.
While obviously he’s communicating with others and they’re probably expecting imperial, the idea that his first instinct is to provide metric would be easier to show here (especially as it distinguishes him from another Gadgeteer, so the “it’s because he works with measurements a lot” idea is less solid).
Of course, now that I think about it, aren’t heights generally measured in feet, not miles? Wikipedia says that “Altitudes and Aviation measures are still often given in feet, even in metricated nations.”
In Germany, at least, I only know of one single use of the imperial system – “Sechs Fuß unter der Erde”, meaning “six feet beneath the earth”, the German version of “six foot under”.
otherwise, it’s only the metric system
I more meant the first part about feet instead of miles (or metres instead of kilometres would be the equivalent); we don’t really use feet instead of metres for altitude in Australia either.
AFAIK imperial measures for altitude/depth are only used, outside of the states, if you’re piloting an airplane or a submarine. Not all that surprising from people who gives out speed measures in knots 😛
If Brennus is speaking as a British person would, he would use imperial distances and metric everything else. Do we know where Macian is from?
“his claws where the only parts of him”
What would you do without us nitpickers? You might want to change “where” to “were”.
Anyway, a good chapter. I too found the idea of Brennus being sold to his sister pretty funny. Although it would end up with a lot of mess everywhere. How would one clean panther stains off the walls?
I’m sure Brennus could whip something up.
Well, just finished the archive binge.
Nicely written. My only criticism is that this is the second time that Brenus group try to take more than they can and are saved only by external help.
They need to learn and/or improve or this will get tiresome fast.
they will, don’t worry. But sometimes, one wake-up call is just not enough – you need two, every now and then
Maybe this will wake him up into using the number one advantage he can potentially have over others. HEAVY FIREPOWER. Pull a mad stan!
Grenades, tiny ones for more controlled demolition- exploding ravens?
programmable bullets in a GUN.
See if panther man can dodge a flamethrower.
He has a gas mask so use GAS
Dodge automatic shotguns- they have a large variety of ammo including less lethal
chemicals that can be sprayed and are ten times more slippery than ice
lazers which might be too high tech
remote controlled sniper rifle
robots- if he can build a flying raven than a walking combat robot might not be too hard
Note: He doesn’t have to resort to it, but he should still have it just in case. He isn’t batman, and there are villains that he does not have to hold back on.
micro rockets, I think, would be even more difficult to create in a way that was economical than a laser
gas is tricky – not only is it nigh-impossible to predict how people will react to it, since you have to factor in both mundane and metahuman allergies (the kryptonite effect), as well as how it may interact with other gases, etc…
I figured it would be just similar to a bottle rocket, but with a much bigger bang. You don’t really need range, it is more for having a backup against beings with super toughness. I concede the point at gas….meathumans have allergies? Still should have a simple knock out gas of some kind in a grenade just in case, and if his teamates also have gas masks then he can use it as a last ditch weapon. He is making nerve gas for revenge for his girlfriend if I remember correctly.
Gas is also tricky if you want to know in advance how much your target will be affected. For example, despite how widespread it is in fiction, there is no knock-out gas in real life. There are only poisons that happen to make you unconscious before they kill you. So the same dosage might knock out one person and kill another, depending on diverse factors.
This would be why anesthesiologists get the big bucks, by the way.
And that’s BEFORE you take into account that gas is much less precise than an IV. Is there wind? Does your target realize what you’re doing and hold their breath?
Besides, you left out the most important in your list. Shark repellent bat-spray! And WHALE repellent. What, you want him to be completely unprepared?
Though obviously, if he’s just aiming for lethal power against special threats, he doesn’t have to worry about dosage or allergies or anything. Just about making the gas dangerous.
Also trying not to kill bystanders, but, eh. All for the greater good, amiright?
He has ravens, next step? Velociraptors. Not the oversized ones from the movies – the velociraptor was only the weight of a medium-small dog.
Or just give the ravens ranged weapons and have them use networked, patterned firing to improve their accuracy.
“Brennus shot him with the stun gun, hitting him square in the chest.”
Brennus is Macian, in case anyone hasn’t figured it out. Ember/Protege certainly has!
That said, I’m really, really surprised people don’t notice that Brennus and Macian look EXACTLY ALIKE and have a lot of the EXACT SAME INVENTIONS (the stun-gun in particular). They even know that he’s come into contact with Protege -that became pretty clear during the London Nightmare interlude- so they can reasonably assume he’s been de-aged, hence why he is now younger than his sister.
Warning: speculation ahead!
I assumed Amy was aged up, as Ember/Macian were the same age and Ember is now 14 (Brennus’ age). I’m pretty sure that Ember did something to Macian, possibly to help with his mental issues and give him a chance at a normal childhood.
But if you’re talking in-character that people should recognize it …
1) people who know about Macian don’t know what Brennus looks like (the Six, Glik and Bluebell), and probably don’t try to see his face because if he’d been done over by the Protege plus the six year gap and puberty there’s no guarantee he would look anything like he used to;
2) Macian had much more advanced tech even when he was eight (forcefields, implants, taking a few minutes to build a warmech);
3) even so people have tried to determine if Brennus is Macian (and come away deciding he’s not, because even he doesn’t know he is);
4) I’m pretty certain SOMEONE will make the Brennus-Protege connection after that drawing, and expect it to be a trigger that will reintegrate Brennus/Macian or lift some of the restrictions on Brennus.
Oh, also – that interlude wasn’t the London Nightmare, it was in Berlin.
the london nightmare is yet to come
also, yay, WMG about my story! I feel like a real author now *sobs happily*
Oh right, thanks.
I doubt it. His sister probably is Macian’s sister, but my bet on Brennus is either a memory dump of some kind or Macian died, and Basil got the same power-planet as him, and that includes backup memories.
This, btw, would make the thing about being naked with her non blood-related sister even weirder than how it stands already. And great fuel for the inevitable slash fics that will happen when this serial is famous all the world over 😉
I didn’t even think about slash fics, back when I came up with their background.
might have persuaded me to radically change it. back then, that is
> might have persuaded me to radically change it. back then, that is
Because that is going to stop a shipper how? 😀
Ahem, anyway: I did read it as innocent if it’s any consolation. Weird but innocent.
My theory is that macian is the man on the moon. Also remember the man on the moon in his mind. Thats living proof that he is macian.
I just really noticed the line from the Blazing Sun, where he said that he was always present, but Basil rarely listens. Could it be that it’s not that the Blazing Sun suddenly stops talking to Basil, but that Basil can’t hear? Perhaps intercepted by the man in the moon? Or instantly redacted from memory by whatever is doing so?
I’ve also got a theory that the reason the moon is incomplete in Basil’s mindscape is because the missing pieces are being used as the floating islands. I wonder how Amy would feel about that observation?
hrm. you have it kinda backwards.
The islands floating in the darkness, the buildings in the water, one of them covered by a darkwraith, the incomplete moon – that’s all Amy’s power’s way of representing what it reads off of basil’s brain to her.
Remember, she likens the blazing sun to a creature design from an anime film she knows. the rest of the imagery is also taken from her bind, her power picking whichever images are most closely linked to the concepts it needs to portray to her. It says more about Amy than it says about Basil.
If Basil somehow got the power to view the state of his own mind, his power would portray it vastly different – most likely in a much more technical way. perhaps as a holographic projection or something similar.
every telepath sees things differently, as each has a different power and different experiences/memories to draw on
Perhaps, yet in order for telepaths to get anything useful, they must be drawing something from the target’s mind. I was going for more of a “pieces of a whole” theme for Basil’s mind, with the largest piece being guarded by an unknown something.
I was also under the impression that it was a bit less subjective, since Bluebell and Glik asked about the man in the moon. So either they somehow have access to Amy’s mind, or he’s a constant independent of the viewer. Either of which could be worrisome.
And don’t think I didn’t notice that you ignored my speculation about someone, like the man in the moon, interfering with Basil’s communication with the Blazing Sun. Although, that interference might be what allowed Basil to sleep at times, so I’m not sure that it’s a bad thing.
well, all your questions will be answered in “All Masks Fall/All The Lost Ones”
I just realized Bluebell and Glik are confirmed in this chapter to be the twins that Ember saved from Atrocity in the London Nightmare. They were twins with German parents and the faint German accent in this chapter confirms it.
They must have manifested shortly after their rescue by Ember. Doubtless their teleportation and perception made them hard targets to catch on the part of the Savage Six.
They really didn’t want the Dark to find them either. With a powerset like theirs I wonder if they’ve been stealing his stuff.