B012.6 Born At Sleep

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Dalia pulled Basil across the room and to the staircase leading below. It was easy to forget that she was very strong, and quite fast, as well – he had to run to keep up with her purposeful strides.

Feeling quite confused by her attitude, Basil threw a helpless look over his shoulder, but the others looked as confused as he felt; they quickly followed, however.

For a moment, Basil felt a flash of shame as they entered his lab – some part of him didn’t actually want them to see the sorry state of his work. But that part was quickly ignored by the larger part which argued that he’d already told them everything, anyway. There was no reason to feel self-conscious about this.

Nevermind that his friends honestly wouldn’t care about him only having a few projects left to work on.

Yet he couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. This was his power. He was a gadgeteer. Unlike Prisca, Dalia or Aimihime, he was just a normal person (or as normal as someone with messed-up memories could be considered to be) – until he took up one of his creations.

Even Vasiliki wasn’t quite the same – to her, creating a new enchantment or improving an existing one was like making art, like painting a picture. It was creative, explosive, driven by sudden bursts of inspiration and power. The actual work was rather short, rarely more than a day – usually, it could be counted in single-digit hours. Fitting her ideas and needs into the larger thesis her power worked with was the actual challenge. Furthermore, each creation of hers was a thing of its own, as powerful as she could make it – any improvements were largely focused on making them more versatile, adding additional capabilities to them.

Basil, on the other hand, had to sit down and spend hours and days at a time to devise improvements, nevermind new creations. He was constantly laboring to maintain and improve his existing gear, to make it so it could keep up with his friends’ innate abilities, which only required training with them in order to improve – something which Basil had to do as well, in order to be able to use his creations well.

The truth of the matter was that he really, really needed those extra hours he took out of his sleep- and schooltime, simply to keep up with them.

Only now he had to admit that, for the last few weeks, he’d been wasting his time. He’d kept up his training, of course – barely – but the other half of his labour, the work on his gadgets, had dried up entirely.

He’d started out as the most powerful member of their little group, in no small part due to the months he spent preparing for his career as a vigilante. It wasn’t something he’d been particularly proud of, certainly not something he paraded around – but it had been a quiet, steady conviction in the back of his head. He’d been forced to update that to admit that, at least within her sphere of specialisation, Vasiliki was more powerful and more versatile than he was. Nevermind that, when her power was actually cooperating, Dalia was basically invincible.

Despite that, he’d been the toughest member, definitely the best frontline fighter (Dalia’s power was just plain too fickle to rely on in melee combat most of the time) and far and wide the most versatile one.

Then Prisca had joined and there was no question as to whom belonged the title of toughest frontline fighter. Her projection was basically invulnerable, had proven itself capable of slicing through the most resistant material he’d been able to provide as if it was warm butter and it was entirely expendable besides – at worst, she’d have to spend a few hours away before she could pitch in again. Or just minutes, if need be.

That hadn’t been reason enough to feel surly, though. In truth, Basil had felt delighted at the thought of reworking his entire approach to combat. Frontline fighting was exhilerating and he was good at it, but there was so much more he could do. Whatever his speciality was, however his power was limited, it was certainly broad enough to supply them with plenty of options for any role in combat.

Granted, that necessitated a certain success rate which he’d been lacking lately. With the way his arsenal had deteriorated, there was just plainly no way he could lay claim to the title of the most versatile team member anymore.

The only one more limited than he was Dalia, at this point, and that was almost entirely due to the fickle nature of her power, instead of any fault of her own.

Basil didn’t like to admit it, hadn’t even been aware of it, but he’d gotten used to being one of the best, at least within his small circle of acquaintances. Had taken pride in it.

He would never have expected it to hurt so much, to lose that proud conviction. He’d never considered Pride to be something important to himself, at least not on a level where it’d hurt him to have it wounded so.

I really am a shallow person, he thought to himself as they reached the center of his workshop. In front of them stood his main work table, with the empty egg-like construct and a few other bits and pieces. A rack to the left held his armor, rifle, sword and three-dimensional movement gear. To the right stood his ceramic fabricator, now still as he hadn’t used it in a while – Vasiliki, Dalia and he all had body armor (in various styles) already, and Prisca had no use for it – they’d tried to augment her toughness by letting her borrow Dalia’s suit for her projection (the two were the closest match, figure-wise) based on the idea that, if she wore armor that absorbed part of a blow, she’d have to expend less of her limited power to resist it, thus letting her last longer; it hadn’t worked, as her power just stretched to encompass the armor, protecting it as well at the cost of her time limit.

He’d felt a little disappointed to know that he couldn’t help her out with some body armor or such.

She could use his sword to impressive effect, however, but he didn’t have the materials to fabricate another one right now and he didn’t want to give up his main melee weapon, not with how often he’d found himself forced into close quarter combats against tougher opponents.

In the end, though, he…

“Hey, earth to Basil!!!”

“Ow!” He flinched, slapping his hands over his left ear as Dalia screamed into it. “The hell!?”

She snorted at his angry and confused glare. “You spaced out again,” she accused him. “We’re here to help ya, so how about you focus?”

“You are right. I am sorry,” he said while rubbing his ear. “I figure the pain will help me focus now, anyway,” he couldn’t stop himself from saying.

“Pah. You’ve taken much worse with far less complaints,” she replied, brushing it off. “Now that everyone’s here,” Everyone had gathered around them, most of them looking as confused as Basil felt, “how about we get this done, huh?”

“How?” he asked. “How are we going to figure out my speciality? I’ve been trying to pin it down since I started, and I have-“

“A whole lot of mental issues that probably prevent you from figuring it out!” Dalia replied seriously. “I mean, what else could keep you from figuring it out? Any ideas?” She spread her arms, looking around at the others.

“Maybe it’s something that changes?” Prisca asked, sounding unsure. “Like, maybe he doesn’t have a fixed specialty or he specialises in copying or improving other stuff. He’s worked in so many fields, after all…”

“That would be a nice power to have,” he admitted. “But I’ve never even heard of a gadgeteer’s power anywhere near that level.”

“Doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” Tim suggested. “I mean, most powers tend to be…” He moved his hands up and down, as if weighing options, “not balanced, but they are kinda manageable. But there’s always been some who’re just way out there. Lady Light. The Dark, Kraquok, Weisswald, freaking DiL, Gloom Glimmer, the Hannibal Storm… there’s always been some crazy-out-there powers, since the beginning.”

“Still, it’s less likely than him just having a relatively obscure but fixed speciality,” Vasiliki threw in. “If we approach this with the mindset that anything is possible, then we’ll ne-“

“Oh, come on!” Dalia shouted in exasperation. Everyone turned to look at her in surprise. “Can you lot just stop talking for once? Why do you make it so complicated?” She turned around and pointed at the egg-shaped gadget. “What’s this?” she asked firmly.

“No idea,” Basil admitted, feeling an uncomfortable sting. “I do not even remember making it and it is not finished.”

Clearly, she hadn’t expected that and she blinked, a little off-balance. Then she caught herself and pointed to the next object – his rifle on the rack. “Ok, then what about that super-rifle of yours?”

Everyone looked at the large rifle. It was, truthfully, rather cumbersome, a boxy shape with sharp edges and a barrel that was three times as thick as the muzzle. The stock and the grip were quite over-sized as well, just barely manageable even though Basil was on the tall side for his age. Most of it was made of his ceramic compound, giving it a dull black colour, though there were several metal parts showing, adding silvery lines to the whole.

“I’ve been wondering about that monster as well,” Vasiliki admitted. “It looks like it could stop a tank.”

“That would depend on the model,” he admitted, which earned him a round of shocked stares. “What? We have been fighting enough enemies who could take that kind of damage. So I made a weapon to fit.” He looked at the rifle again. “It is essentially a scaled-down rail gun. It uses the principle of a homopolar motor to accelerate a projectile to high speeds without the use of any explosives or propellant.”

“You managed to build a portable rail gun?!” Tim exclaimed. “Holy shit, Basil, if that thing can fire like the ones they use on battleships…”

He shook his head. That would be awesome, but… “I can not reach that kind of firepower. The system can accelerate a projectile up to Mach 7, but doing so causes a lot of stress to the weapon and depletes the batteries I load it with quite quickly,” he pointed at the belt of tube-shaped black batteries attached to his armor and at the opening at the side of the barrel, near the trigger, where he would put them in. “I have to lug around both ammunition and battery packs for the thing. The upside is that I do not have to deal with any meaningful recoil.”

“Alright,” Dalia said with a nod. “So, what about this one?” She pointed at his sword.

The current version of the sword was mostly unchanged from the one he had made shortly after the Hastur Incident, except he had scaled it down to adjust for the lack of strength-enhancement, now that he was no longer using power armor. It had a blade that was a meter and twenty centimeters long, with only one side having an edge and the other one being rather thicker than normal to hold the machinery that powered it. As his armor now ran without its own battery pack, he’d installed one in the tip of the grip, where he could easily exchange it – it used the same tube-shaped batteries which he used for his rifle.

“Well, it is a vibrating sword,” he said. “Basically just a normal blade, but hollow, with a series of magnets arranged along the length, opposing each other – let’s call one row up and one down. A rigid rod is placed in-between the rows, connecting through several smaller rods to the blade itself. A current is run through the sword, alternating between two different circuits,” he explained, starting to relax. “Each circuit alternates between the rows, powering an up-magnet, a down-magnet, an up-magnet, and so on. As the current alternates, the magnets cause the rod, and thus the blade as a whole to vibrate at supersonic speed, creating the humming sound that caused me to name it the Humming Blade. The vibration’s main use is to massively increase the cutting power of the blade.”

“Moving on!” Dalia said, cutting off Tim, who seemed to have a question or a comment without even noticing. “What about these puppies?” She pointed at a belt of small, palm-sized boxes.

“EMP grenades,” he said simply. “Just way smaller than the ones used by the military.”

“And this one?” She pointed at the three-dimensional movement gear.

“Basically just a very sophisticated set of grappling hooks,” he replied. This is actually quite fun. He rarely had the chance to just explain his work to someone. “Their tips… I used to think they employed the principle of the van der Waals force, but they actually use an electrostatic effect to stick to surfaces and allow me to swing around without having to cause property damage everywhere I go.”

“Yeah, and it looks wicked cool while you’re at it,” she replied with her usual broad grin. “So, how about this biggie?” She strode over to his ceramic fabricator.

“That is basically an oven for creating the ceramic I use for most of my equipment,” he said, leaning against the table. “The ceramic itself is actually pretty simple, the problem lies in fabricating it in sufficient quantities to be useful. The oven heats up the raw materials I feed into it and uses various magnets and coils to… I guess the process is best described as molding molecules, aligning them in the right way to achieve its final, rigid form. But since the process also makes it non-conducting to the extreme, it has to be molded into its final shape while it is being produced, and I can not adjust it afterwards except by completely melting it down and starting all over.”

Looking around at everyone’s faces, they were clearly listening even though at least a few of them were clearly out of their depth, despite him using the most simple terms he could think of to explain his work.

“So, what about her?” Dalia asked, pointing at the screen on the worktable that Eudocia’s emblem was currently on. “How’s she work?”

“Uhh…” He looked at the computer. “Eudocia… is complicated. I mean, as I told you, I found her, I did not make her – I believe. Mostly, I just booted her up and guided her initial setup, as far as that is possible considering her architecture – which appears to be unlike any computer I know of.”

<Of course, I’m not just some glorified calculator, after all!> she exclaimed proudly.

“Okay, so she’s weird and maybe not even a result of your own power,” Dalia continued. “But what about your birds?” She pointed at the production and loading station for his ravens, and the models that were currently being recharged.

“Most of them, I just took out of Toybox,” he admitted. “I just refined some parts by improving their motors and joints, and they use my processors instead of the standard ones.” He pulled a drawer out of the table and lifted a thumb-sized processor that looked like a fractal-like fusion of metal and crystal. “These ones are all mine. They work like regular processors, but they work faster and under much more stress than usual microprocessors. Also, they bleed off excess energy in the form of light instead of heat.”

“So they go all shiny when they’re in use?” Stephi asked with an interested look on her face.

“Pretty much, yes,” he affirmed.

Dalia tapped her foot. “Alright, one more. What about that glowing reactor you have below?”

“Uses an electrochemical process and Helium-3 to create energy through cold fusion,” he said simply. It was one of his less interesting creations, to him. “It produces a lot of energy at low heat – just above room temperature – with the only downside being an excessive generation of cherenkov radiation, thus the glow. Also, it can not melt down or blow up unless it is deliberately turned into a bomb.” Vasiliki gave him a stern look and he looked away, feeling sheepish. “Yes, I  included a self-destruct option. No, there is no big red button for blowing it all up.”

“Aww…” Tim seemed disappointed.

“Very disappointing, Basil,” Prisca said with an exaggerated nod. “You are in danger of losing your membership to the nerd club there.”

It wasn’t that good a joke, but Basil found himself laughing nonetheless, as did the others – relieving some of the pressure they’d all been feeling.

“Before we continue, I do have another question,” Aimi spoke up after everyone had calmed down again. “How come you can explain all this stuff so well?”

“What do you mean?” Basil asked.

“Well… when Polymnia starts to explain her stuff, everyone just tunes the fuck out,” she admitted. “Girl can’t put it into normal speech at all. A lot of the time, she can’t even really explain why something works, only that it does. And I’m given to understand that that’s how it usually works for gadgeteers.”

“That, I can actually answer,” Basil said with a smile. “Perhaps that is ironic, because it is probably the part of my power I personally enjoy and dislike the most.” He pushed himself off the table and walked a few paces down the table, just to loosen up his legs a bit. “Normally, a gadgeteer works mostly in a… kind of conducting capacity.” He was really enjoying the chance to actually expose a bit without everyone having a laugh interrupting him. “Their power does the detail work, while they have to… consolidate ideas. At least, that is the best way I can describe it. There is still room for error and it does take effort on the gadgeteer’s side – quite a lot, in some cases – but it is distinct from actual research and development the way mundane scientists do it. Polymnia, for example,” he continued smoothly, “creates her gadgets by composing music. The process, to her, is more akin to a composer creating a symphony than a scientist working out the minutae of, say, a sonic gun.” He waved a hand in an airy, unsteady motion. “Most gadgeteers work that way. That is why our schematics come out so weird, as musical notations or pictographs or stylised gears. If they mess up the process – if, for example, Polymnia messes up the melody she is working on – then their power produces a faulty blueprint. Perhaps they can not create their intended gadget at all, or perhaps it comes out wrong – thus the ever-popular cliché of gadgeteers blowing up their labs.”

He stopped to take a breath, then waited a few seconds to give them time to absorb the information. “For some, the process is even less involved. Like Smileyboy, whose power does pretty much all the work and he just has to do the actual assembly of his gadget.” He sighed. “For me, it is the opposite. My power… does way less than usual. That is why I had to build a high-end computer just to get started. The… concepts, the schematics it gives me are always… incomplete. There are gaps that I have to fill. It still comes out in a weird annotation – the pictographs I am sure you have all seen before.” He pointed at a whiteboard he used to take notes on, where some of his pictographs were visible. “But I still have to do a lot of the science myself, to fill in the gaps, or else it does not work at all, or it is faulty and might blow up or short out or have some other kind of malfunction. It is never a challenge I can not live up to – it almost feels like my power always gives me something that forces me to push my limits – but it can get very involved and difficult, and I have screwed it up more than once.” He shrugged and smiled at them. “On the other hand, it means I have a much better understanding of my gadgets than is usual for gadgeteers.” He looked at Dalia. “So… To get back to the main question – what do you take from this? Have you figured out my speciality?”

She smirked at him. “Isn’t it obvious?” she asked him. He shook his head, so she looked at the others. “C’mon, am I the only one who noticed it?”

“Dunno what you’re talking about,” Tim said. “This all seems very broad to me.”

“Same here,” Prisca said. “And you’ve forgotten all the medical equipment he’s made, or his skill at surgery.”

“To which I owe my life, or at least my continued uncrippled life,” Vasiliki added with a self-depreciating smirk. Basil felt himself twitch internally at the memory of that first night they met, when he’d had to perform emergency surgery on the spot.

He was still not sure how he’d managed to pull it off without screwing up, though Dalia’s luck may have had a hand in that.

“I’m drawing a blank,” Stephi admitted.

<This isn’t much of a game,> Eudocia said in a mournful tone. <I’m afraid I don’t see it.>

“Electromagnetism,” Aimihime said simply, causing everyone to look at her. She shrugged in response. “I mean… everything he’s described so far has used electricity, magnets and stuff as a major part of its function, from the rail gun to those crystal processors – light is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, after all.”

Basil blinked. “So… you’re suggesting that my specialty… somehow ties into the electromagnetic spectrum?” Could it be that?

“That’s what I was thinking,” Dalia told him. “I mean… I’m hardly an expert on this stuff – I didn’t even really know about specialties and stuff until today, not beyond the basic stuff – but it seems to me that, if everything you make is based on a specific field your power specialises in, then the most obvious thing all your stuff has in common is gonna be it, right?”

“Yeah, but what about his medical stuff?” Prisca brought up her point again. “How does that fit in?”

“Well, I-” Dalia started to reply, but Basil tuned them out as he turned the idea over in his head.

Electromagnetism, he thought. Does that even qualify as a speciality? Everything I have made so far does seem to use electromagnetic processes of some kind to achieve its function… how come I never thought of it before? It was a rather seductive idea, really. The possibilities, the applications were… vast. However… where do my medical inventions fit in? What about my surgical talent or my cooking?

That was an issue… yet, now that he was actually thinking about it with some kind of focal point to work with – the idea of electromagnetism as the core of his power – he could actually tell that… well, that his medical work felt quite a bit different than his usual gadgets. The design process was less… smooth. It required even more input from him, and the end products were honestly not nearly up to his usual standards.

As for the surgery and the cooking… he’d simply assumed them to be a part of his power, as he never had to put much conscious thought into them… yet the presence of repressed or suppressed memories raised the very real possibility that he was simply sub- or unconsciously recalling learned skills… though that would also throw up the question of when and where he’d acquired those skills in the first place – performing surgery was not usually something a preteen learned at school.

So where does it all come from? Where did I… He shook his head, while the others kept discussing the subject among themselves, momentarily distracted from him. No, focus on the matter at hand. Your speciality. Could it be that Dalia is right?

He focused on his power – never a difficult thing to do, as it usually was more difficult not to pay attention to it than to do so. There was definitely something familiar about the idea of electromagnetism, something that felt…



Lightning… I am…

He blinked, but all he saw was darkness.


The sky is dark, but not as dark as…

“Go on,” she said.

He looked back at her, warily. This was a trap. He was sure of it. It was always a trap. Or a test. There wasn’t much of a difference between the two.

She just stood there, looking almost normal, save for her skin and her eyes… those vermillion-coloured eyes. When she saw his expression, she smirked. “Not a trap, nor a test,” she said, sounding almost gentle. Almost.

The others just watched him, some curious, some bored, some inscrutable. He knew why they were here, of course. They were curious about his reaction.

They wanted to see how he’d react at seeing the real sky for the first time in his life.

If they wanted to hurt him, they’d do so anyway. He couldn’t stop them, had never been able to stop them, he’d just deal with it as it came…

Instead, he took a step forward, his bare feet touching the cool grass. He hadn’t felt grass in a long time.

He looked up. The sky was dark, but… not as dark as at home. There were little white points in it… stars! He’d read about them, even seen some pictures, but…

He looked up at the stars – he’d always wanted to see them, had dreamed about going outside – but there were so few, even though there was barely any light pollution around here, everything below the horizon was dark…

Clouds, he thought as he tried to make sense of it. Those’re clouds. Like in that movie. Black clouds blocking the sky.

In that moment, he hated those clouds more than he’d ever hated them.

Black, thick clouds… Something about that was important, but he was distracted when a cool breeze blew in his face, throwing his long hair about, carrying a pleasant, simple fragrance – grass and earth and… and…

Something he’d never smelled before. Something new. A kind of… he didn’t have the words for it. But it was pleasant, and it was fresh, something sorely missing back home.

He heard something behind him, an impatient sound from one of them, but it was quickly silenced by a meaty impact. He did his best to ignore them entirely, just focusing on all the new sights and sensations… they wouldn’t last long.

It would probably be best if he made a show of it, to amuse them, so they’d let him stay out longer… but he really, really didn’t want to ruin the moment by wasting breath indulging them, not now, not here.

He looked up again.

Black clouds, a cool breeze, he thought. That means something. Something that was alien to home. He could almost put a name to it. Something that he hadn’t experienced before, something that wasn’t a part of home, but existed everywhere else…

Something cold and wet and small hit his cheek and he yelped in surprise, falling back onto his butt.

They laughed, but he only stared upwards as his hand reached for his cheek, touching it and coming away… wet.

But it wasn’t blood. He knew blood, both his own and others. He’d be able to tell if it was blood. It would be warm, for one, and even if not, he knew how blood felt on his skin.

No, this was just… water, he decided when he licked his finger. Just water…

Another drop of water hit his cheek, causing him to look up again. He couldn’t tell where it came from, but…

Another drop.

And another.

Drop after drop fell on him, quickening…



“Basil? Basil!” shouted a familiar voice and strong, yet gentle hands shook him strongly.

He opened his eyes and looked up at Prisca’s worried face. At some point, he’d sunk down onto the ground, half sitting and half lying on the concrete floor.

“What’s happened?” Prisca asked.

“You just collapsed,” Vasiliki explained when she saw his confused look. “We were talking and you just fell down and kept your eyes closed and mumbling something about black clouds.”

“I… I saw…” What did he see? He barely remembered. Something about… wind. The sky. A breeze and… rain. “Rain.”

“You saw rain?” Prisca asked, confused. “That made you collapse?”

“No,” he replied. “There was more. What I saw… it felt…” He blinked. “It felt… important. Somehow… heavy. Like something dear to me, only… more so. Not necessarily pleasant, or happy, but something I would not want to miss, ever. Something right… at the center of me. If that makes sense.”

“Well, it does,” Dalia said, then looked around at Vasiliki, Aimihime and Prisca. “That’s how it feels when I remember my manifestation. Same for you?”

They all nodded, then looked at him. “You… just now remembered?” Vasiliki asked curiously. “I can always remember every part of it with perfect clarity.”

He blinked, feeling off-balance and dizzy. “I… I never thought about it… my manifestation…” He thought furiously. “How did I… my powers they… they were just there, as far as I can tell. From one moment to… I do not even remember when exactly… how could I forget my own manifestation?”

“Maybe this is what you need,” Prisca said, her hands squeezing his shoulders. “Maybe if you remember it, it’ll help you! Try and focus on it, now! Remember the rain!”


The rain fell on his face, cold yet gentle, first a light drizzle but quickly growing stronger. He was cold, starting to shiver – he only wore short pants and a shirt, and the weather here had been colder than he was used to, anyway – but he didn’t care one bit.

He looked up at the clouds as they released their contents upon the Earth, and he loved them now, because it was so-

There was a flash of light, a massive boom and the sound of splintering wood. He yelped again, jumping off the ground for a moment, then looked up to see a nearby tree going up in flames as it feel to the ground in two pieces.

A lightning bolt!

He looked up just in time to catch the next lightning bolt, a stark white line against the darkness of the clouds, which now covered everything above.

The rain intensified.

The booming thunder reached him, shaking him to the core.

He couldn’t have looked away even if he’d wanted to.

Rain fell… lightning flashed… thunder roared…

There was no way, no way he could put a word to the feelings it was evoking in him… the cold, fresh air, the pounding rain, the bright lightning and booming thunder. It was like his whole world was being shaken, invaded and conquered by the elements without the slightest bit of effort or resistance, as he felt his heartbeat quicken, his brain going into overdrive as it tried to take it all in…

Lightning flashed again, but this time behind him and by the time he turned his head, it was gone again, soon followed by its thunder.

Another flash, from the side, at the same time as one from behind. Closer, both of them, but both gone before he saw them.

He leaped up onto his feet, ignoring the conversation that came from the group of spectators… he barely even remembered they were there.

Instead, he chased the lightning, mystified by its appearance, by the stark whiteness against the darkness above.

Clouds make rain.

He was drenched to the bone and for the first time, that weird phrase actually made sense to him. He was turning, whirling, trying to see everything, trying to predict where the lightning would appear so he could see it all, he did not want to miss any of this, not the stars, not the clouds, not the rain nor the lightning nor the thunder!

Rain makes… lightning.

The stars shone bright through the clouds, remote and mystifying, so very alien and yet familiar to him in ways he could not put words to!

The rain felt wonderful, despite the cold, it made him feel so alive!

At that moment, he completely forgot about them.

I can see the clouds! I can see the rain and the lightning! I can hear the thunder!

He stopped turning and just stared up, his eyes wide, his mouth having opened unconsciously so he could taste the fresh rain. Yet even that magnificent taste was not enough to draw his attention away from the stars above.

I can see the stars!

For the first time that he could remember, he was fre-


A loud, shrill ringing sound tore Basil out of a storm of wild, unrestrained shards of memories and impressions, and he hit his head against the edge of the table as he jumped up.

“Ow, dammit! I almost remembered!” he shouted louder than he’d intended to, then looked for the culprit.

Aimi was blushing as she pulled her cellphone out. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but this is the emergency tune so it must be important!” she explained herself as she took the call, holding the phone to her ear.

Basil rubbed the back of his head, feeling incredibly disappointed… he was sure he’d almost remembered something incredibly important, but all he was left with was the memory of rain on his skin and on his tongue, of clouds and thunder and lightning…

“Oh my God, of course, of course, I’m on my way!” Aimi shouted into the phone. “Don’t let them leave without me, I’ll be there in minutes!” She hung up and put her phone away, then looked around wildly at them. “Massive precog warning,” she explained to the questioning stares. “Probable S-Class event in Esperanza City. Any volunteers are to gather, Gloom Glimmer is taking us there!”

“I am coming, as well,” Basil said, pushing himself up and walking to his armor rack.

“Wait, you’re all underage, you can’t just-” Stephi began, her face gone pale, but Aimi cut her off.

“We can. They changed the law a few weeks ago. Keeping it on the down-low, but since so many heroes are on the wall or being drafted for war, they’re now allowing volunteering teens to participate in S-Class response, provided they are fourteen years or older,” she said firmly, and without a trace of the insecurity he’d grown used to hearing in her voice. “But how’re we going to explain you arriving with me? I don’t want to out you guys!”

“You were on the way to the United Heroes HQ,” Vasiliki said as she ran towards the corner she’d cordoned off with a curtain for her to work and change behind. “We saw you as you travelled, you explained the situation and we joined!”

“Right! Lying through our teeth for the greater good!” Dalia shouted as she ran to the stairs to get into her costume – which she kept in the bedroom with her other clothes – already stripping out of her clothes on the way.

“We’ll man the console,” Tim said as he took Stephi’s hand. “Good luck, and stay safe.” They left.

Prisca had already changed into her armored form and was looking worriedly at Basil as he put on a skintight black bodysuit and began strapping on his armor.

“I will be fine,” he tried to assuage the worry in her gorgeous eyes, and why was he noticing them so strongly now? “We will deal with the other stuff later.”

“Ok,” she said.

“Aimi, take that exit,” he said, pointing to a rapidly opening gate that he’d intended to use for his bike, before he’d had to scrap that project, as well. “It will take you to a scrapyard just half a mile from here. Fly straight towards the headquarters and we will catch up to you en route.”

She nodded and sped off, already changing, shifting out of her clothes and into a form like a furry bat.

Basil finished attaching his battery belt, and then the grenade belt. Then he slung his rifle over his shoulder and attached his sword to his hip, right next to the disc-shaped grappling hook system on that side.

Finally, he drew his white cloak with his emblem on the back over his shoulders and lifted his helmet – a lighter, tighter version that closed on its own around his head, with his full heads-up display and a direct link to Eudocia.

<All systems operational,> she told him as it booted up. <I’ll be with you all the way, father.>

Dalia and Hecate ran up to him and Prisca, and all three of them looked at him.

“Alright, let’s go!”

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57 thoughts on “B012.6 Born At Sleep

  1. I deleted my entire work about two hours before the deadline and wrote all of this from scratch. I’m sorry I’m late, but I’m not sorry I started over, because this is way better (and about two times longer) than the original version.

    • It could be the amusingly broad category of ‘energy’.

      We might need more info first.

      What’s more important is the backstory dump. I smell Macian information.

  2. thanks again for the wonderful story and the glimpse into such a wonderful world. We have many problems and horrors in ours but this gives a chance to see not all is bad.

    • sorry forgot to say I think they are looking to small what if it is energy itself that he works through then he has much wider range and development. it would also explain why he has so many problems with his power. He is attempting to confine raw power in to devices that are force rather than energy based. even surviving horrible wound by over flowing his nerves and charging his body to keep using also would allow to transfer images through camera to mind.

      • Fosce IS energy, Kinetic energy to be precise. All things in creation are in fact energy. and all process artificial or natural are conversion of energy. so that would be broader then electromagnatirm lol

  3. Deliciously nice, so Electromagnetism is our starting point, however, his medical gear does not use it, thus, we are looking at a speciality closely related to it but not quite electromagnetism. If I may hazard a guess, his speciality is energy, or energy manipulation, and the reason he is so focused in electromagnetism as the source of energy is because he is scientifically inclined towards electric energy, he subconsciously prefers it over other energy sources and thus he tends to work with it, thus, his personal proficiency with it is higher than with other energy sources due to him having to fill the gap with his own knowledge. In other words, I believe his specialty is energy and his style within that specialty focuses on electromagnetism, while still being able to work outside that style with lesser success

    • energy is everything, energy manipujation is everything that moves. or has a function.lol that is Goku level OP hmmm… there WAS a lot of lightning during his supering! all gadgeteer tech is copiable as long as you know somewhat of what you are doing. at least thats how i think it works.

      • The text supports the idea that the medical devices are a learned skill, not something his power produces it. And since all gadgeteer can work at a low level outside their specialty, that could explain why he uses his power to recreate the medical gear he learned from Macian’s memories fighting Atrocity.

  4. What if… his power is technically not about gadgeteer at all but more precog related and is along the line of figuring out how everything he sees work? This would explain why his gadgeteer power is different from other people, and it fits with how when he saw lightning for the first time, his brain instantly went rain -> cloud -> lightning. Would also explain why he has been able to integrate so many of the other gadgeteers’ works into his own.

  5. And now Terry gets to meet Basil and his harem! Maybe Aap too!!! whose beting on the Savage six? but who cares about all that noise. ELECTROMAGNATISM!!!! its so broad and you can do so much with it! hell Magneto barely scratched the surface of magmatirm. shields hover crafts, all the things he already made! aod…and…LOL. i get it now, that article. damn what was it about now…portals, cloaking, both? too tired to remember. will likely write more tomarrow. great chapter!

    • 1. Terry lives in EC and is now in the UH. so she will be there. her power is geared to tactics and if she is smart strategy as well. information is POWER. So i See her playing the cordinater role. 2. Aap is workimg with the UH as needed. he is the most powerful and most experienced super currently in America right now. cant think of a situation where he would be needed more. field leader? 3. lol thats just a roll of the dice, but i think my chances of being right are pretty gond. enemy duh! 3.5. sidenote what happens to Prisca when she runs out of power in another dinememtion? nothing? something? oh and ummm love interest? 4. Ties said this chapter was a himt to Basil’s specialty, power maybe? or narrower? not sure what that would be. Author plays God of course!

  6. Arrgh, of course the vision cuts off there.

    But still. “Macian” was with the S6 before he had powers, seemingly since birth (which I guess we sort of already knew). I’m leaning towards Atrocity being his mother after this chapter. Or at least I think she has more of a connection to him than other members. The way she was separated from the “others”, the focus on her being “almost” gentle. Plus there was a comment about her being straight and in a committed relationship. And I don’t see why the six would keep an unpowered kid around them for no reason. (and the explanation of Basil’s love of rain!)

    Polymnia made a good guess at Basil’s specialty then, back in the Hastur arc, with electromagnetism. I wonder if his ‘real’ specialisation is broader or narrower than that. And then there’s the fact that Polymnia’s comment didn’t set him to wondering like Aimihime’s did. Maybe it’s because he’s in a different frame of mind now, or maybe something to do with what happened when/before he woke up?

    I know we’ve heard that Basil’s a scientific prodigy before, but this is really the first time I considered it, to this extent. I imagine that Basil being more involved in the gadgeteering process than usual is why he’s part of why he’s so strong – with his tenant doing less of the work, it can “stretch out” further. Or something.

    Basil’s question about why he’s noticing Prisca’s eyes NOW… does it tie into his earlier remembering? There was that weird moment where his thoughts changed way earlier in the story, from pseudo-force fields to Prisca. I’m a little (very) biased, but I’m concerned about Prisca. Although we haven’t seen anything in her PoV chapters, so she probably doesn’t knowingly tie into it, if I’m being fair.

    I was just about done with all the talking chapters, so it’s cool to see that a fight’s coming up. And in Esperanza!! Right after we see a portable railgun, too. Ooh!! Just realised that this’ll probably be the superweapon-thing the Gefharten were talking about!

  7. With your first, second and third points, I agree, but when it comes to your theory about Basil and Prisca, I personally feel that isn’t anything sinister at work there. If we were go with the theory that Basil is Macian who is trying to live a normal life, being distracted by his girlfriend is normal thing to happen. And now that sentence makes a lot less sense in writing than it did in my head. To back this idea up, I remember it being mentioned that Basil was keeping up with school and other things that could be considered normal.

    • I’m not sure it’s “sinister”, exactly, at least on Prisca’s end. But my are biases showing and I kind of WANT it to be, in order to prove myself right. But as I said, more logically I don’t think Prisca is intentionally a part of it at all. I’m not even sure that she knows she is – Basil didn’t seem to mention it, judging from everyone’s reactions.

      But yeah, the way he didn’t mention her to people, the way he worked on the cure and/or Dusu’s revenge (can’t remember exactly) without thinking of it, or how he didn’t think of Prisca except when he was with her (i think), or the force field thing, etc. Not to mention that at one point (before meeting Magnus? – hey, what happened last weekend?-) Basil said that Prisca tied into his memory issues. From there, I’m thinking that she almost certainly does tie into it all, and that his internal question is *probably* a deliberate clue.

      And sort of unrelated.. I don’t think macian was “trying”, exactly – – that would imply he intentionally screwed himself and his sister up. And Amanda/Amy is REALLy screwed up. But yeah, I believe (sort of) that Macian’s experiences led to him wanting a normal life (as seen in Sweet Dreams), and when his mind got messed up (everything from here gets very, VERY iffy, in terms of speculation – imagine everything has a bunch “could potentially be” disclaimers), this desire (among other things, probably) shaped how his mind was screwed up/put back together, and additionally it continued to drive Basil as well, as a part of who he is (or maybe those two are sort of the same thing..hmm). Either way, a desire for a normal life is like other Macian-influenced personality trends in Brennus!Basil: love of showering, unwillingness to cyborg himself all of the power-related things.

  8. Unrelated to this chapter, but it just occurred to me that the sentence “The explosives are from that deal at the harbour we busted two weeks ago” from the previous chapter implies that Basil and his group have been doing things off-screen. Unless that happened in a chapter and I missed it.

  9. Love the chapter.
    But damn another S-Class. My first be would have been that the S6 are out taking heretic 2.0 for a test drive, but then I checked the S6 chapter again and noticed Esperanza was not on the list and neither was their any mention of an attack by them since heretic 1 was killed(dispelled? banished? since he is all DnD). So my bet is on the Gefährten throwing that particular party.

  10. I am of the hypothesis Basil has two or more powers that work together. One of them is his electromagnetism based gadgeteer power. The other that let’s him copy other people’s work is yet to be revealed.

    • I’m not sure that Basil needs a second power to explain being able to copy others’ work. Facts:

      1. Gadgets can be duplicated by unpowered engineers.
      2. Basil’s power has been training him since manifestation to be an engineer.
      3. The only time we’ve seen Basil rapidly adapt another’s work, he was working with one of Polymnia’s electronic devices. Thus he was solidly within his own specialty.

      The medical devices are a bit more iffy. But we don’t know how much time Atrocity spent training Macian in her specialty.

      • i agree completely with Isa. and to add a bit more, being raised by the SAVAGE SIX has probably given him a lot of skills condusive to survival for himself and his sister.

    • I don’t think he has a second power to copy work anymore than any other gadgeteer does. Remember the whole point of toybox is for gadgeteers to share designs and ideas. Their powers can draw inspiration and information from eachother even without hetrodyning.

  11. First, I feel the need to point out that to a certain extent, I feel Pride is a virtue. The more active role a person is to play in life, the more pride should go with it. Otherwise you won’t do that role very well.

    Second, I wonder if Basil’s specialty is not electromagnetism, but electricity. Given how linked the two are, it’s largely semantics, though.

    Third, and touching on Magneto not even scratching the surface of what electromagnetism can do, Basil’s power is extremely broad. I was taught about four fundemental forces in science. The Strong and Weak forces are mostly concerned with nuclear stability and decay. Then there’s gravity, which while a big player in the cosmos, is effectively an unchanging constant where most stories take place. Everything else in the universe is electromagnetism. Including what stops you from passing through solid objects and falling into the core of the planet.

    • first agree and add ambition. secound, this popped into my head when you said electricity, cooking+electricity=manipulation of elebctrical signals that run between taste buds and brain. third. im sorry im mot sure what your saying there, still interesting though

      • The third point was kind of a tangent, and rather dependent on atomic theory, which is not something everyone studies. The gist of it is that all atoms have a negatively charged cloud around a tiny positive nucleus. And that the negatively charged clouds repelling each other is potentially the only thing that stops atoms from overlapping.

        Since every object we intereact with is made of atoms, that means that electrostatic repulsion is the only thing keeps us from passing through things like ghosts.

        Not entirely sure where Basil could go with this, though.

      • Aww… I am disappoint. Yes, I could see it, but the title of your link got my hopes up for something else. Some comments that I decided not to post were about the idea that there might be electrostatic charges other that positive and negative, but those charges (and EM radiation) did not interact with +/- charges. Large quantities of this would be dark matter.

        Seeing “ghost earth” in your link made me think someone did something with the idea. In retrospect, I don’t suppose there’s any way you could have posted a link in response to things that I only thought about posting.

        Also, and I’m not sure why I didn’t recall this sooner, but forcefields. If Basil’s specialization lets him work with what stops objects from moving through each other, then he might be able to duplicate Macian’s forcefields.

    • I agree on the point of pride – Basil’s inner monologue would perhaps make more sense if he’d used “arrogance” instead of “pride”. Then again, one does not always employ the most befitting term all the time 😉

      • Fair enough. I recall a scene with the Dark where you made a distinction between pride and arrogance. That said, I’m not sure if there is a cure for arrogance, other than failure, so this is kind of Basil just taking his medicine. I’d imagine it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

        That mixing of metaphor and figure of speech went better than I thought it would.

  12. I am sticking to my guns regarding Basil’s power. The reason that he cannot receive a completed schematics is that he altered his powers at some point, maybe when he transitioned from being Macian. I theorize that however it happened, he kinda “converted” his specialty into The Blazing Sun and that power sentience ( as seen in Macian’s journal) allows him the shift the spotlight, his powers cast( sun, spotlight , heh heh). But that sentiene and control eliminated that ability to create inventions full formed that all previous gadgeteers have possessed. This forces him to actually understand the basis of his tech, which means that he can understand the concepts behind the work of other gadgeteers just by syncing his focus with theirs. When he stole Polymnia’s tech from the broken speakers He could understand her tech and use the principles it used to improve his own gear.If I understand gadgeteers correctly he should not have been able to do so if it didn’t fit his specialty. Basil has also shown skill in: computers, both software and hardware, medicine, cooking, biology , microbiology, ceramics/advanced materials, Electromagnetism, and atomic energy. I probably missed a few but that doesn’t seem to fit under “electromagnetism”.

  13. Hey Word of God is, he is no Gadgeteer
    If we look at the list from here https://tieshaunn.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/b004-introduction-to-metahuman-studies-part-3/ we can sort it out:
    Just what he isn’t:
    Contriving – his microchips could be, but I still think no
    Control – nope, but his sister
    Damage – no energy blast
    Morphing – he can’t change his body at will
    Movement – no flying or superspeed
    Protection – no force fields, no regeneration
    Spawning – no little Basils

    What he could be:
    Gadgeteer – Word of God is NO
    Manipulation – i still think you cannot modify microchips, you would need to make new ones (maybe he bought them and doesn’t know it) weak telekinesis would help explain with his insane speed he builds
    Perception – very likely if you read “his brain going into overdrive as it tried to take it all in…”
    Physique – very likely advanced brain “to take it all in”
    Meta – many say he could be a Meta gadgeteer, I don’t think so

    So I would say he has Perception powers to explain the world to him and Physique (Brain) he uses to build his gadgets. It would explain why he can understand his gadgets and his limitations a gadgeteer wouldn’t have.

    • Oh I had forgotten about that word of god. That make everything so much more complicated… However in the rpg game on the forum Tieshaunn told us that Perceptions powers include “super-crafting”. Also pretty sure that Advanced Brain would be a perception power too rather than a Physique one.

      So yeah, a perception power giving him a deep understanding of electromagnetism, putting him so far ahead of science that he look like a Gadgeteer, and can heterodyne with them… but his technology is within the realm of the possible. Other gadgeteers devices can’t be reproduced easily, even by other gadgeteer because part of them are dependent on the power making the gadgeteer align things juuuust riiiight with a precision that is impossible to replicate even with specialised equipment. But Brennus need a computer to do his calculations… granted he need a powerful computer but still: the computer can do the math because it’s “simple enough”. The gadgeteers are genius, acting on instinct and even if they can replicate their creations they can’t actually explain them of teach somebody else how to do it. Brennus is an engineer, acting out of knowledge, which mean that others people could be teached and reproduce his work…

      I suddently feel kinda nervous.

      • Can you provide a link? I didn’t find it with google.
        I include Physique, because Gloom Glimmer included the brain in the discription.
        “Either way, Physique effects are all effects that improve and/or permanently change the body, including improvements to the brain, allowing for increased intelligence. ”
        Since Physique will not be effected with a power neutralizer. We just need to get Brennus near one and let him build something.

        Also mass produced gadgeteer items could be interesting.
        Brennus could earn a ton of money with his microchips (if he made them) or by selling non-weapon blueprints. No money problems.
        He could save millions from starving. (Just make a plant, that uses electricity instead of sunlight.)

      • http://tieshaunn.boards.net/post/1544
        I had forgotten the exact wording so it doesn’t fit as well as I thought… but that post also list Brennus as a gadgeteer so the word of god about him not being a gadgeteer might be a bad interpretation. We need an exact quote.

      • didnt Ties say that the RPG and Breamus were seperate and didmt have anything to do with eabh other besides the basic premise?

      • No Tieshaunn said he did not use the RPG rules to create characters and that trying to fit characters from the story in the rules was meaningless and probably wouldn’t work. However characters created with the RPG rules should fit in the brennuverse.

        I’m starting to remember a post where Tieshaunn said that Brennus was different from other gadgeteer and it had already been shown in story, it was an hint toward the “he need to do more work than others” aspect. That’s probably when it got misinterpreted as “Brennus isn’t a gadgeteer”…

      • Sorry bad wording, scylar said:
        “[…]Now, according to the File, Gadgeteers just receive their inventions pretty much fully formed and already working. Basil, on the other hand, has to make prototypes and calculate, and doesn’t get what he originally wants.”

        tieshaunn said:
        You win.

        The idea, that he is not a gadgeteer comes later.

        I still think he has a perception power, because of the flashback.
        Maybe the oddity is because he was near heterodyning as a kid. But unlikely.
        He could need to experiment like Polymnia needs to make a song.

    • An additional problem with your theory Norax, is that the current power system is an outcome based system. If it walks like a gadgeteer, quacks like a gadgeteer, and makes gear like a gadgeteer, it doesn’t matter if the actual source of the power is a perception/mental physique combo, Brennus would be classified as a gadgeteer anyway, maybe with a note after his rating.

      But I think whay Ties is trying to imply/tease is that Basil is a non-standard gadgeteer, maybe with a side of something else. Though your theory is interesting and fits at least some of the evidence.

  14. First, technically it wouldn’t be electromagnetism because modern physics has integrated it with the weak force, so call it electroweak powers. Second, that would put him as a master of everything but some nuclear powers. Chemistry = electroweak interactions on a small scale; exchanges of momentum = electroweak forces in objects acting on electroweak forces in other objects (the atoms don’t touch, the forces do); optics = electroweak forces in photons interacting with eletroweak forces in other objects; and large-scale, complex electroweak interactions encompass biology, geology, tectonics, ecology, meteorology, computer science, and many other sciences. Basically, if you are a true electroweak specialist, any science except for the nuclear ones should be your toy. But Basil built a nuclear reactor, admittedly with “electrochemical process” reactions, but still.

    • Yes and no. Electroweak theory is a thing, but they are different enough in practice that specializing in one but not the other is no more unlikely than specializing in steam but not being able to do anything with ice, despite it all just being water.

  15. so sense i believe Terry is about to come back into the story, i want to speculate on her power. when we left her she had just rcieved a small and wiat i honestly thought was kind of a lame power. now however im not so sure. many of us at the time believed that she must have a secoundary power. again however. i believe tihs to be wrog, mainly cause the glowy drug dealer said she had created a new power. so with a lot of time to think here are some things i think she can do. 1. sit her down in front of a computer and get instant iofo on all sorts of subjects, imagind what more ynu could get if you trained her in cyber espinage! 2. lie detectator, this of course only works if her power gives her accurate info or just what she would get if she did it herself. if she interogates her power instead of the person she will either get the info needed or a painful headache in which case she will koow that the person will not tell her the truth. 3. her own future, by living any given day she would have the possability of knowing it on her owm therefore she can also ask her power. not sure how far ahead she could know or if kmwing would then change it. but still cool right? so yeah thats what i got so far.

  16. Was rereading the Aap Archs and found these mistakes. B011.1. Chicago is NOT in Michegan, it is in my home state of Illinois(the s is silent please). Lake Michegan, which i believe is causing your confusion, is a huge lake that spands across several states. interlude 7 part 3 In Illinois it is illegal for power companies to cut supply to households that have children under the age of 12 when tempertures fall below freezing. not sure when that law came about but its been around for at least 40 years.

    • I can’t believe I mixed up the name of the state with the name of the lake…

      That law never was passed in this setting. The USA had an energy boom, post ww2 and it never became an issue – until after the caliphate war, when it was hit by a massive depression which Hennessy was unlucky enough to grow up in.

      Energy prizes shot up beyond belief and, as there’d been no shortage before, there were no laws yet to protect the poor, children or otherwise.

  17. took a look at table of contents and saw B013.a The Man Who Knocked Out Lady Light. i really want to see this chapter!

  18. The dark is one of the best villains I’ve read, I am excited to hear more about his equal on the hero side. We hear a lot more about lady light, then we get to see her. I hope that changes soon.

  19. Dude stumbled across this last Friday and have read it all since then.

    1) Thanks for the work. I am loving the setting and characters and pretty much all of it.

    2) I’ve been planning on a meta-based story for a while now. You and Wildbow have inspired me to actually do some damn writing. Specifically you though. While Taylor was cool and all, I identify with Basil much more.

    3) Write faster! Hah kidding but seriously this last chapter here has me so excited!

    • 1) thanks!
      2) I’m honoured. Fun fact: it was wildbow who inspired me to finally publish my own story
      3) I’d love to, but I’m currently in rather dire straits. I’m trying to complete the chapter, but I have very little time to devote to writing, unfortunately 😦

  20. If his specialty actually is electromagnetism, I’ll be more than a bit annoyed. Mostly because it barely counts as a specialty. The electromagnetic force is one of the four base forces in our universe. The others are the strong force, the weak force, and gravity. The strong and the weak are both only really relevant to nuclear physics, and gravity is irrelevant on the small scale, and simple on the large scale. As a result, pretty much everything he could ever work on is based almost completely on electromagnetism. It’s like having a cook say his specialty is everything but cake, or an athlete saying his specialty is everything but golf. Also, he’s already proven that he can deal with nuclear physics just fine.

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