B006 Big Game Hunt (Part 6)

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He left the bedroom (after checking that he was still clothed – Amy liked her pranks way too much) and all but burst into the control room, ready to ream Amy a new one…

Only to find her and his friends sitting in a loose circle, talking amicably. And fully clothed.

Amy looked up and winked at him with a split-second wicked grin – she probably knew what he was thinking – and then her face turned to worry. “Should you be up already?”

The others turned around and looked at him with varying degrees of worry on their faces, and Prisca greeted him happily, though with concern in her voice.

Eudocia said they were being influenced… but there’s no way she could affect Prisca from all the way over here, so it couldn’t have been anything too bad or obvious without cutting her connection.

“I’m fine, really. Had the weirdest dream, though… can we talk? Privately, I mean?”

She nodded and stood up. “We’ll continue later on,” she said to the others, then followed him down to his workshop.

* * *

He shut the door behind them, then made sure to lock the workshop down – he didn’t want anyone to listen in, not even Eudocia.

Amy had walked over to near the center of the room, where his current project lay, and was now looking at the parts.

“They thought you were building a new suit… but this looks more like an android,” she said after a few seconds.

He stood behind her, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “I figured it might help to have another body in the field, especially one that is expendable. But it’s not really workable, at least not yet.”

She looked around, noticing the irritation in his voice. “That… that’s the reason you were pushing yourself like this, isn’t it? You couldn’t get it to work, and you couldn’t accept that,” she said with a mixture of exasperation and mirth in her voice.

He blushed a bit, but frowned back at her. “No. Yes. Not really. I’ve been pushing myself for days. The loss, and the wall I hit working on this only made it worse,” he explained reluctantly. Looking back at it, he really should have paced himself, but… “Nice one… changing the subject by talking about my work. What were you doing up there!?

She shrugged. “What I do whenever I can. Helping you,” she explained, as if it was all just obvious.

“What. Did. You. Do to them?”

Raising her hands in a placating gesture, she replied: “Calm down, baby brother. Nothing bad, I swear. I was just… helping them focus, and think over what happened. Especially the girls. They need to improve, you need to improve, or you’ll die or worse. If it weren’t for those lovely twins, you’d be dead or slaves!”

A deep breath, then two. Not… not good. But not nearly as bad as I feared. “You didn’t do anything else?”

Her whole stance changed into a more serious one, straighter. “Nothing, baby bro. I wouldn’t mess with your friends, I promise! Though Dalia is awfully cute…”

He snorted and walked past her to look at the beginnings of what was supposed to be a combat android. I’ll have to deconstruct it. Use the parts for something that actually works. And still, he was sure he could make it work, if only he had the time.

“… and either way, Prisca is all the way over in the hospital, and I’d need to fly over fast enough to delete her short-term memory before it became a long-term memory…”

He gave her a deadpan look. “You’ve really thought a lot about messing with my friends’ heads, haven’t you?” She just gave him an unconvincing innocent smile and he turned away to look at his work again.

“Basil?” She wrapped her arms around him, resting her chin on his shoulder. “Why did you push yourself so hard? Honestly, now.”

“It’s always there. Always blazing,” he whispered. Suddenly, he didn’t sound half as self-confident as before.

“What is?”

“My power. It’s like there’s a lamp, a sun right behind my eyes, shining out of them with a blazing light. I can’t shut it off. I can’t even ignore it.” He shivered.

“Oh Basil, why didn’t you tell me?” she asked with a pained voice – she could feel his distress.

“What for? It’s my power, there’s nothing you can do about it,” he replied. “It’s… it’s…” just like in Macian’s memories. He couldn’t stop, either “it’s just a part of me, I guess. I’m sure I can learn to deal with it.”

“I could have helped. I can help you. Help you keep tabs on it, help you sleep when your power won’t let you,” she replied, sounding slightly irritated… and really, really worried.

“That… might help. Maybe you could look into my head, try to talk with that damn sprite?” he asked, hopeful. Maybe, if he could somehow force the ‘Blazing Sun’ to talk things through…

She nodded, her chin rubbing against his shoulder. “We could… organize a session. Take some time off, both of us. Sit down, and I’ll get into your head. Look for a solution. We should have thought of this sooner.”

“Yes. We do that. But first, I need to finish up here. There’s another reason why I got so out of control after the battle.”

“What is it?”

“I’ll tell you along with the others. Let’s go back up. And no using your power on them anymore, alright?”

“All right… for now, baby brother. I won’t stand for them dragging you down through incompetence or stupidity,” she replied.

He knew he was not going to get her to agree to more.

* * *

They returned to the main control room, where the others were in the process of discussing something, but stopped once they came back up.

The girls, as well as Tim, all turned to look at them, but no one really said anything. Tim looked as calm as ever, Vasiliki looked thoughtful, Dalia was… blushing?

He walked until he stood next to them, then said: “First, I’m sorry about earlier. You wanted to help me, and I just went mental on you guys.” He gave a slight bow.

“Nonono, you were right, really,” replied Vasiliki. “I mean, you didn’t have to be a jerk about it, but we did survive solely due to blind luck – if the twins hadn’t shown up, we’d have been screwed.” She stopped, thinking it over, then looked at Dalia. “Which kind of makes your power real creepy – just how far does it reach?”

“Uh, I, well, no idea,” stammered Dalia, tearing her eyes off Amy.

What the hell did you do to Dalia? he asked angrily in his head. He knew Amy would pick it up.

Nothing, really. Want me to take a look and see what’s going on?

No! Stay out of her head! All of their heads!

Jeez, you don’t need to flip out like that! I’ll be nice, scout’s promise!

Didn’t you almost blow up the local scouts’ headquarters last month?

Never said I was one of the good scouts.

The whole exchange took less than a second (speed of thought was handy that way), so Basil could respond without a noticeable pause: “Still, I shouldn’t have gone on like that. But I’m afraid we have bigger problems than me being unable to handle defeat.”

“And what would those be?” asked Tim.

He sat down at the console, turning the chair around to look at all of them. “I broke the code on the Black Panther’s files. Remember, from the video, how he threatened to sell us into slavery?”

They all nodded, and he heard Amy chuckle inside his head.

What would you have done, had he tried to sell me to you?

You mean before or after I made him eat his own genitals?

Ah. Nevermind.

“Well, they bought someone. A girl. A metahuman.”

“What?!” shouted an outraged Vasiliki. “That’s disgusting!” Dalia nodded in agreement.

Prisca continued: “And why is it always girls, anyway?”

“Well, nearly seventy percent of all metahumans are women. Theories abound, but the most commonly cited one is that the still present discrimination against women leads to…”

Prisca cut into his starting rant: “What he’s trying to say is that the Man is putting us sisters down, so we get powers more often.”

“Finally, someone who talks English!” shouted Dalia in relief. Basil just grumbled something unintelligible.

Fortunately, Amy moved them back on track. “So, about this girl? What’s so special about her?”

“Well… according to the messages I intercepted, she’s estimated to be a new S-Class threat… and they think they can use her to wipe out their competition, as well as threaten the UH into staying away from the fighting.”

You could have heard a pin drop in the silence that followed.

“Uhh, how is that our problem?” Prisca asked with a desperate note in her weak voice. When everyone turned to look at the camera, she continued: “I mean, apart from the fact that you guys almost died – or got sold into slavery – just yesterday, an S-Class threat is way, way out of your league. This is Cabal business!”

“The Shining Guardians are quite preoccupied right now. The local heroes won’t call them in unless they have definite proof of the threat,” replied Amy.

“True. But either way, we need to warn the United Heroes. At the very least, we could use their help in tracking down the girl and getting her into protective custody. They can secure her, we can’t,” continued Basil.

They nodded. “So, we contact the heroes. How, do we just call their hotline?” asked Dalia.

“I got all their phone numbers. Best to call Amazon, instead of going around her, I think,” explained Basil. “After all, she’s the leader now.”

“And she’s got experience. Few metahumans in her class have taken part in as many S-Class events as she has. She won’t dismiss you out of hand, if only because she knows how bad things can get with S-Class metahumans,” Amy added.

I guess you’re sure?

Of course. And shut it, I could have known this simply through research. Her resume is available to the public.

“Then do it, Basil!” Vasiliki said, all but shouting.

He nodded and turned around to the console.

* * *

First, calibrate the microphone, so it will only catch what I say. Then, initiate the voice changer. Now, set up anti-tracing measures – all of them.

Basil worked through his mental checklist, to make absolutely sure they could neither be overheard from his side, nor he himself traced back by them.

It took him almost three minutes before he felt completely safe to initiate the call to her UH phone. And he put on a pair of headphones, too. If only because it annoyed Amy.

Amazon picked up on the third ring.

<Who is this?> she asked with sleep in her voice.

She just woke up – it’s nearly afternoon!

“This is Brennus. Good… afternoon, Amazon,” he replied.

<How did you get this number!?> Now she was awake.

“Not important right now. I have bad news. The really bad kind.”

Someone spoke on the other side. A man… and he recognized the voice, even if he couldn’t understand what was said. Amazon shushed him with a few affectionate words.

Way to go, Jake.

<Alright. Tell me everything.> He thought he heard her stand up.

“Me and my team got into an altercation with the Black Panthers last night. During it, Panthera Rex attacked us, but was killed when an unknown third party intervened.”

<Did you identify the third party? Do you have proof of their involvement – proof that it wasn’t you?> She remained calm.

“I have a video recording of the battle. If you want, I can send it to you.”

<Please do. Dammit, this is gonna be chaos pure.>

“Panthera Rex’s death is not the bad news. Or rather, it’s just one thing that makes it worse.”

<Oh, what could that be now? If you tell me there’s some S-Class involved somewhere there, I’ll call bogus on you. It’s already bad enough as it is.>

“You might want to take that statement back.”

<No. No way.>

“Yes. I was able to hack into their computers and access their communication records. They purchased a newly manifested, female S-Class metahuman from a metahuman trafficker. They were hoping to use her as a deterrent against the competition and the local heroes. But, according to some other mail, Panthera Rex was pretty much the last individual holding the more extreme members back from using her offensively.”

<And he’s dead now.>

“Quite so.”


“How do you wish to proceed? I think I speak for my entire team-” He looked at Tyche and Hecate, mouthing his question – they both nodded. “- when I say that we’re willing to fully cooperate with you, provided our identities remain secret.”

<Shit, shit, shit, shit. And I can’t call in the Shining Guardians without definite proof. Send me the video and e-mails.>

He did so. It took her a few minutes to read through everything and speed through the video.

<Alright. I’ll con- Wait a minute, I’m getting another call. Hold the line.>

“Yes ma’am.”

He turned around, pulling the headphones off. “She’s getting another call, but it seems she’s taking this very seriously.”

Dalia grinned and said: “I knew she looked smart.” Vasiliki and Timothy nodded.

Prisca spoke up again. “Are you going to fight… that girl?” She sounded terrified.

“Not if we can help it. Our goal should be to save her. And take down the assholes who buy others to use as weapons.”

They all nodded at that (except Amy, who just looked thoughtful), and Prisca sighed audibly.

Then Amazon came back on the line and this time he put her on the speaker. <We just got a threat from the newly minted leader of the local Black Panthers, Panthera Avis. He wants the murderers of his former boss delivered to him alive or dead, otherwise he’ll unleash an S-Class threat on the city.>

“Even if I were willing to barter their lives away, I wouldn’t know how to contact or where to find those two to begin with,” he replied with a tone that allowed for no discussion.

Amazon seemed offended. <The United Heroes do not negotiate with terrorists, nor do they sacrifice anyone at the demand of a madman. We need a war council, and we need it now. Are you in?>

“Where and when?”

<Our headquarters. Guaranteed privacy and right to leave at any time. An hour from now.>

“We’ll be there.”

* * *

They arrived at the United Heroes’ headquarters fifteen minutes early. And they weren’t the only ones.

A man who identified himself as Jason Widard, Chief Mission Control, led them up to a war room.

There was a trio of chinese men, all in red robes, with heads shaved save for a single long braid each. Representatives of the local Dancing Dragon Triad, probably, though Brennus did not know them. He did take pictures of their faces, for later research.

Also present was a dark-skinned man in a three-piece suit. Elrik France, a known mob associate.

And finally, to his surprise, a brown-haired man in a white suit, with a blue shirt, white tie and silvery greaves and bracers engraved with flowers and trees. Rising Tide, the leader of the Foresters – a group dedicated to Weisswald’s ideals.

Amazon, Jason Widard, Mr Patrid, Gloom Glimmer (sitting side-by-side with Polymnia, whom Hecate greeted with an ecstatic wave) and the other junior heroes made up the United Heroes contingent.

Opposite of them sat the Dark, alone. He looked at Brennus, Hecate and Tyche and gave them a brief nod of acknowledgement.

Ah crap. This is getting out of hand.

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41 thoughts on “B006 Big Game Hunt (Part 6)

    • for those who don’t know, the irc channel is up. You can find it by entering the following commands into your irc client:

      /server -m irc.darkmyst.net

      /join #Brennusverse

  1. So, my prediction of a lesbian BDSM orgy wasn’t too far off from Basil’s…
    And I’ve always been worried that Amazon is going to flip her shit and try to kill Basil when she discovers his relationship to Amy…

  2. The gang’s all there! This is going to be interesting.

    I was really confused at the start of this chapter, though, due to the break between chapters- I had no idea what was going on at first and had to go back quite a ways to find what had happened last. Especially since it starts with “He…” with no indication of who “He” is (I assumed, correctly, that it was Basil, but if I had to make that assumption, then it could definitely be clearer what’s going on).

    • they were more concerned with him learning about their goals if they cooperated with the UH. Basil only provided the recording up to the end of the battle, and he doesn’t know about their goals, anyway

  3. Are you sure you want to use the words s-class THREAT instead of S-class metahuman? it seems to put a weird emphasis on the new character.

    • they have to think about the threat first, then the person behind it.

      Even if the girl/woman is innocent and doesn’t want to harm anyone, the fact that she’s considered an S-class so shortly after her manifestation and without any known incident to her name means that she’s serious business.

  4. So new villains and tree lovers has a very different connotation in your universe. Don’t forget to name your universe by the way. How big is this city? It seems to have alot of heroes and villains, but does every city have them, or just a few? See something I never understood was how like 90% of superpowered beings are in New York in the marvel universe, and no criminal thinks about moving to a city without as many heroes.

    • New Lennston is explicitly the city with the most parahumans. Lennston is the city where Point Zero happened, and New Lennston was built on that spot after Desolation-in-Light destroyed Old Lennston.

    • new villains?

      Currently using ‘Brennusverse’ as a placeholder, will change it once I come up with something fitting.

      there are metahumans in most greater cities of the USA. They mostly concentrate in the two coasts and there in the big cities (LA before its destruction, San Francisco, New York, Esperanza City, New Lennston, etc) for the same reason why the population is concentrated there – jobs, prestige, etc.

      New Lennston is even more notable because it has a freakishly high average powerlevel – in almost all states of the American inland, an apex tier metahuman would almost certainly be in the top ten, or even top five; in New Lennston, there’s several God and Transcendent tier metahumans. The reason for that is that NL is THE proving ground of most of the western world. The home of Lady Light (well, she mostly lives on the fly nowadays, but the point stands) and the Dark, the birthplace of metahumans.

      if you make it there, you can make it anywhere in the US – villains work there just to put it on their resume. same goes for heroes.

      • You know after reading this and thinking about it for a while this makes me question the sanity of the general populace in those bigger cities.
        I mean sure money is important and if the only way to have a paying job is to be there i can understand that. Otherwise though if given the chance to choose i think i d opt for living in an area where the sheer density of supers doesn t make it more likely to be involved in some supervillains plans thank you very much.
        And yes i know this also means there are more heroes living there but they are more reactive and also don t always win.

      • Well lets say people spread out and move away from high densities of supers. What would happen? Well there are two main possibilities.

        The first one is that while the people spread out the businesses don’t because its better to be near transportation hubs and other businesses. This would mean a very long commute ( 2/3 hours) in order to get away from the threat of the cities and the supers who target them. The same setup Japan has now. The thing is, if a villain decides he wants an army of zombies or a high kill count and not to make money stealing from banks or businesses, the people are worse off. This is because the people are less protected because there are less heroes.

        The Second possibility is that the businesses decide to eat the cost and spread out. People would still live in towns because lone prey is easy prey. They would naturally group around the business and essentially become company towns like the coal towns in America. This would be a dream come true for the villains because the target is isolated, meaning less interference from other parties. Also because of how spread out everyone is, the heroes need to be more spread out too. They have to protect everyone after all. This means teams would be smaller, and a large gang of villains should have a big number advantage and have a higher chance of achieving their objectives.

        In short spreading out would be bad for people. There might be a smaller chance of being harmed by a villain but a greater chance that the harm is fatal or worse. When grouped together there is a better chance that the harm is minor.

        PS: Also it seems that in this world the Spiteborn can attack anywhere. In that case I want to be near as many supers as possible, it doesn’t mater whether they are Villains or Heroes at least they don’t want to wipe out humanity.

      • The foresters. Welcome to a world where the tree lovers are nazi sympathizers. Good reason I suppose, but I would rather be the big fish in small pond. I think this was discussed in worm way back when when the 9 hit that small town which had two low level heroes, and damsel of distress who couldn’t control her power and thats why she was stuck in small town. Though the wormverse had something like 650,000 parahumans according to Alexandria’s interlude so they were freaking everywhere. I picture lame villains with lame powers similar to the merchants out of the big cities.

      • Foresters is because Weisswald (Whitewood) was a plant-like spawner. The Spiteborn are made of, essentially, white wood. Has nothing to do with environmentalism!

        And that 650k was across the entire world, remember. Not sure how much the world pop was reduced by various metahuman interferences, but if they had six and a half billion people (just for a nice round comparison) it’s 650 000 parahumans out of 6 500 000 000 people, or one parahuman for every ten thousand people.

      • Thats still alot of parahumans, even a handful in smaller communities. I was needling the name with the tree hugers line. Come one, there has to be people who make fun of them for it.

      • Interesting points Pagemaster though I m not sure I agree totally.

        The first point the people being in more danger if spread out in case some villain is just out for the sake of being evil, killing people, getting a zombie army etc. is not necessarily a higher threat. Here the heroes being reactive is the key if the villain plans his first strike and is not incompetent about it there will be no warning until the bomb goes of, the first mob of zombies breaks into the mall or what have you.
        Then admittedly the higher amount of heroes could result in a better response time unless some of the other villains decide to capitalize on the chaos and it spirals from there(I think thats unlikely since even tho villains can have mental problems I ll accept most of them being sane enough to realize a zombie infestation on the front lawn could be a bad thing).
        What I m trying to say is the people may be under protection by more heroes but until something happens that doesn t mean anything. For the first hit the protection is effectively the same in both scenarios.

        I ll give you the second point though it simply makes sense. Here however I ll say that if it comes to bank robberies and similar crimes I understand that they are far more likely to occur and be successful in remote areas. Which sort of led me to think of supervillains and their related activities as something more along the lines of S9 or big showy villainous acts which in the Brennusverse are more likely to happen in the big towns. I mean if i was a villain and I wasn t out to make a name for myself but become rich through such say mundane crimes that are more likely to be ignored or at least treated as secondary priorities if they don t catch you right away when you don t kill people during them I d not be planning one in New Lennston.

        The last point the Spiteborn now there you have me. If they attack in your area you ll want as many metahumans as possible to fight them. For me that would still not mean I d want to live anywhere near people like say Kraquok but that comes down to personal feelings.

        About the tree lover thing I think it all comes down to society and history. I wouldn t be surprised if in the Brennusverse tree lover actually was synonymous with nazi-sympathizer they had decades to come to grips with WWII and Weisswald apparently was a total bastard so I wouldn t be surprised if there was a derogatory term for his sympathizers.On the other hand I m pretty sure they still have environmentalists and they ll be pretty clearly not associated with the foresters.

  5. “Me and my team got into an alteration with the Black Panthers last night.
    -> alterCation

    The last scene was a bit confusing, I did not understand who was sat where (everyone, villains and heroes on one side, the dark on the other?)

    Also: is Elrik France black? (Just a bit weird, the “traditional” mob is pretty much whitebread. Or at least latino/mediterranean.)

    • will rewrite when I have the chance. the heroes sat on one end, the Dark opposite, the other villains to one side, Brennus & Pals to the other one

      traditional mob had to adapt. maybe there’s somethign special about Elrik that makes him so valuable?

  6. Just checking, “dark” could mean a varied palette and ethnicity.

    Btw, this setup bodes well for the next update. Leaving aside the… umh, tree-hugging nazi revivalist sitting between a black and three chinese guys, there’s THE DARK!

    Hehehe… I wonder if he’s going to slip into his father role if gloom glimmer does something weird 🙂
    Or, just in the planning: “no, it’s too dangerous for you alone sweetie, you’ll go with… – checks the assembled teenaged boys – umh, let me check if Kraquok is free.”

    Maybe we’ll get some other of his group to lend a hand.
    I doubt he’ll have Mindstar playing too much of a team role, both because of her weirdness and because of the Amazon. Still I’m looking forward to the inevitable face off in which the united heroes find Mindstar hugging Brennus.
    “Get away from her, she’s dangerous and she’ll make you do all kind of kinky stuff”
    “Umh, no, she’s not, and she’s not going to, and btw: ewww gross”
    Meanwhile Mindstar is trolling the hell out of the heroes adopting the most suggestive pose she can think of, and saying something OTT, on the lines of “of course I won’t, Brennus redeemed me with the powa of loveh!
    Brennus is mentally facepalming too much to pay attention, so the heroes have to repeat themselves twice “If you’re not mind controlled by her prove it, otherwise we’ll list you as one of the Dark’s villains”
    At which point… eh, what he is exactly going to say? 😀

  7. “But, according to some other mails, Panthera Rex was pretty much the last instance holding the more extreme members back from using her offensively.”
    Not sure exactly what you are trying to do with ‘instance’ here. ‘individual’ or maybe ‘influence’?

  8. “Me and my team got into an alteration with the Black Panthers last night”
    “Me and my team got into an altercation with the Black Panthers last night.”

  9. ““I’m fine, really. Had the weirdest dream, though,,, can we talk? Privately, I mean?””

    ““Alright… for now, baby brother. ”
    Alright—->All right

    “What he’s trying to say is that the man is putting us sisters down,”
    the man—->the Man (assuming you mean the figure of speech for largely male-dominated authority structures)

    “Few metahumans in her class have taken part as many S-Class events as she has.”
    taken part as—->taken part in as

    “Panthera Rex’ death is not the bad news. ”

    “But, according to some other mails, ”

    “Even if I was willing to barter their lives away, ”
    if I was—->if I were (subjunctive mood. Easy way to tell is to invert the sentence. Was I willing? That’s just past tense. Were I willing to do it…that’s the conditional that you’re looking for.)

  10. The idea that 70% of methahumans are woman because of discrimination is kind of silly. Especially in the west where the wester woman is the most privileged group in human history. Ofc the woman in the east would balance it. In a lot of these countries they have few rights. But even in countries like saudi arabia a man has the dissadvantage by this Equallty parameter. Don´t know how its called. Simply because a lot of them have to go to war or other ways to die. In general you can´t say one or the other gender is more disciminated. Most of history it was along the lines of wealth. The poor are misserable no mather the gender.
    Ofc this was a silly joke between the characters. I just think this argument, in reality or stories, alway brings this rift between people. Why alway man against woman?
    Sry for the rant. Had a stupid argument about a similar thing.

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