Brennus Files 07: Legacy of Heroes

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Chevalier

The name of Chevalier has been passed down almost since the beginning of superheroes, and is strongly associated with knightly ideals and a history of self-sacrifice.

The original Chevalier was one of the first and definitely the most beloved hero of France. His true identity has never been made public, as he believed that he should be more symbol than man to the people. In that tradition, no Chevalier’s name has ever been released to the public.

As a consequence of this practice, there is little to be said about the bearers apart from their caped lifes.

The original Chevalier first appeared in 1924, taking down a human trafficking ring based in Paris. He was wearing full plate armor and wielded a sword and a shield with a cross and the fleur-de-lys in gold. His power allowed him to draw foes – and only foes – into a pocket dimensions, so that they may fight one-on-one (or one-on-two, three, four… he was never shy about taking on bad odds). While he was generally stronger and tougher than normal, his powers were further jacked up within said pocket dimension, making him nigh-invincible within it (at least against the normal criminal – nowadays, he’d probably just be an average cape, if one only takes raw power into account). Since he couldn’t take allies into these ‘battlefields’, and he preferred not to endanger others, he mostly worked alone, further feeding the mystery around the character.
Unlike many early superheroes, Chevalier ascribed to a strict no-kill policy – there is only one known case where he fought with lethal intent.
He met his end during Weisswald’s invasion of France. The French army and their superheroes were not prepared, and were caught off-guard when Weisswald attacked them personally, along with his strongest fighters – a small army of metahumans, nearly thirty in number; an unimaginable force, at that time. In a desperate attempt to stall them and buy his allies time to evacuate the Northeastern part of France, as well as regroup and fortify, Chevalier drew the entire attacking force of metahumans into his pocket dimension, including Weisswald himself.
There is no record of the fight within, but he managed to hold out for five days, taking down ten of his enemies, including being the first person to land a hit on Weisswald (he retained a scar on his left cheek for the rest of his life).
His sacrifice allowed the French superheroes and soldiers to hold off Weisswald’s mundane army while the civilians were being evacuated.

Afterwards, Weisswald proved to be so impressed by his deed that he not only returned the Chevalier’s corpse to the French, but also declared a two-day armistice to allow for a proper hero’s burial (though he also used those two days to regroup his troops and prepare an even more brutal assault). During said speech, Weisswald spoke of ‘her sacrifice’, revealing to the world that Chevalier had actually been a woman (she later became a feminist icon nearly on par with Lady Light, and eclipsing her in France).

Later on, Weisswald declared her gravesite off-limits for his troops, provided it wasn’t used for military purposes. As such, it became a civilian shelter, where French nationals went to escape Weisswald’s camps. It has been estimated that more than five thousand people survived the war solely because of said shelter.

To this day, the seven days that Chevalier bought the French army are considered national holidays, during which girls dress as knights, or just generally in men’s clothing.

Chevalier II: The original Chevalier’s ‘squire’, Ecuyer, took up her name during her burial, taking an oath to defend her ideals until the day he died – which he did, years later, during an ill-fated attack on Berlin, an attempt to decapacitate the enemy warmachine. When the attack was proven futile, the Chevalier once again laid down his life, covering the retreat of his allies against Weisswald’s praetorian guard. His corpse, too, was returned to France (what little of it remained at the time).
His power allowed him to make any inanimate object he was in contact with indestructible and also incredibly easy to handle for himself, while retaining its actual weight. As such, he wielded a full-plate armor and a huge sword larger than himself, wielding them as if they were feather-weights. He bore the cross-and-fleur-de-lys on his sword, engraved into the blade.

Chevalier III: This man, too, was the squire of his predecessor and took up his mantle. He, too, fell in the fight against Weisswald during the closing years of the war, dying in the same battle that claimed Brightchild’s life, fighting and killing the Sturmwaffe, one of Weisswald’s top fighters, at the cost of his own life.
He was one of the early monstrous metahumans, a gryphon-like man with enhanced strength and toughness, winged flight and a piercing scream that could disorient enemies without harming allies. He bore the Chevalier’s emblem on a tabard, as he eschewed armor.

Chevalier IV: After the war ended, many argued that it might be best to put the name of Chevalier to rest along with it, keeping the legacy unspoiled. However, just three years later, a young man – half a child – took up the name on his own, the first Chevalier to be completely unrelated to the original. After two years, the public relented and accepted him as the new Chevalier, continuing the legacy. He served faithfully until he vanished in nineteen-sixty-nine, never to be heard from again.
Unlike the previous Chevaliers, the fourth had less physical powers, possessing an eclectic mix of minor powers that worked together to make him an extremely capable team leader (and a competent enough fighter on his own, though not to the level of his predecessors). He could make allies braver, more confident, synchronising them to let them work better together; he enhanced their physical capacity in minor ways, had a kind of ‘battlefield perception’ and a very powerful danger sense.
He wore the emblem on his cape.

Chevalier V: Also known as Le Bleu for his blue armor, this man took up the cape after the fourth disappeared and served faithfully and exceptionally for two decades, longer than any other Chevalier, until he was killed by a Spiteborn Blossom in a great effort to destroy an Acre that had been hidden and grown beneath Paris. He took his foe down with him, initiating the collapse of the Acre with his last strike.
Returning to the more martial roots of the cape, the fifth had a powerful, though short-ranged hydrokinesis, fighting with an afterimage made of water that he drew from to strike his opponents and defend against attacks. He could move at incredibly speeds when completely submerged in water, as well as regenerate almost any damage within seconds.
His blue armor bore the emblem on its back.

Chevalier VI: The sixth is generally considered to be the weirdest bearer of the title – more a jester than a knight, he spent his time off the job as a stand-up comedian (in full costume), filling entire sports arenas with adoring fans. As such, many called him the Laughing Knight, and he bore that name with great pride.
He served his country for five years, until he was killed in battle with the Dark in nineteen-eighty-six.
The sixth’s power made him very nearly immortal – no matter how much damage he took, he’d just ‘snap back’ instantly, completely pristine and unharmed, and go on fighting. He also had access to what he called his ‘Swordspace’, an extradimensional pocket from which he could draw a variety of weapons (usually swords and hammers) which were imbued with a variety of effects (usually enhanced striking power and some manner of elemental manipulation).
He bore the emblem on his breastplate and back.

Chevalier VII: The Quiet One, this Chevalier never spoke a word anyone heard. He did his duty with little fanfare, until he died in nineteen-ninety while battling DiL.
His power allowed him to cancel out all other powers within a hundred feet of himself, as well as dampening sounds, and he possessed some enhanced toughness and speed. He fought with a sword-shaped taser (and a real sword for backup), as well as a shield which bore the Chevalier’s emblem.

Chevalier VIII: It took four years after the fall of the Quiet One to choose a new Chevalier. This one often commented on how he felt unworthy of his title, but that someone had to be the Chevalier, and he’d hold the mantle until someone truly worthy was found.
Despite his lackluster self-confidence, the eighth more than lived up to the title, keeping the good name of the Chevalier going until nineteen-ninety-seven, when the Hannibal Storm crossed the Alps and he plunged into it, trying to find a way to shut it down – though he failed, and paid for it with his life.
The Eighth’s power was a kind of adaptive enhancement – his power could enhance his strength, speed, toughness, perception and recovery to varying degrees, distributing a set amount of power among these attributes. He had no conscious control over it. He fought in a fullbody armor that was styled like traditional knight’s armor and wielded a sword and shield with the emblem.

Chevalier IX: The Shining Knight, the ninth Chevalier took up the mantle during a difficult period in France when no less than three S-Class threats were raging through the region – the Hannibal Storm that slew his predecessor, a new Spiteborn Acre beneath Strasbourg and a mad ‘King’ with an army of orcs trying to take over Paris.
His performance was more than exemplary, as he slew the Orc King, supported the destruction of the Acre and was instrumental in the ultimate defeat and capture of the Hannibal Storm. He continued to serve his country for nearly a decade, until he was caught up in the London Nightmare during a vacation of his, dying in battle against Heretic and Hemming. France declared three days of national grief in his honor, and though his corpse was never recovered, he received a hero’s burial.
The Ninth’s power allowed him to declare one enemy, and gain powers suited to challenging that one enemy on equal grounds. Unfortunately, he wasn’t capable of ‘targeting’ DiL with this ability.
He bore the emblem on his chest, wearing a white-and-gold skinsuit styled to evoke the image of armor, and a huge cape.

Chevalier X: The Ninth left even larger shoes to fill than usual for the mantle, and the tenth never really lived up to this ideal. He wasn’t a bad hero, but he never really did anything of as much note as his predecessors, though he himself never seemed to mind. He fell in twenty-oh-ten when he supported the American heroes in their campaign against the Living Trinity.
His power allowed him to grow into a giant form, with a proportional increase in toughness and strength, with an exceptional regenerative ability during the process of shrinking down (as his wounds would shrink exponentially faster than the rest of him, leaving him with only minor damage. His sword and shield would grow with him, becoming far more durable as well as recovering damage when shrunk down.
He bore the emblem on his shield.

Chevalier XI: Also known as ‘the Blackguard’, the eleventh Chevalier is so far the only known scion of the name who betrayed its ideals, turning to villainy a year after he took up the mantle. He has yet to be brought down…
His power makes him an exceptionally dangerous and vicious combatant. He can absorb any material he touches – including other humans – to shore up damage, becoming tougher, stronger and adding weapons to his form. He becomes even more dangerous when he manages to use it on a metahuman, as he temporarily gains their powers on top of his own. Fortunately, the effect is not permanent, as his power slowly breaks down the absorbed material, until he is fully human and physically himself again. As such, he has to keep absorbing material to retain his strength and toughness.
He used to form the emblem on some part of his body, depending on what material he had currently absorbed.

Chevalier XII: There have been several aspirants to this title, but no one has been able to bring down the Blackguard yet – they were all either killed or driven off. France is still waiting for a new hero to come and reclaim the name and symbol of her most beloved scion.

Doc Feral and the Feral Family

The original Doc Feral, Bruce Bransteel, was one of the pre-eminent contrivers of the pre-WWII era, an ‘adventurer scientist’ who travelled all across the world in his pursuit of justice. His power revolved around a secret ‘formula’ which could bestow a variety of powers to anyone who drank it – though with side-effects if used by anyone other than Doc Feral himself.

Being of exceptional charisma, the self-declared Doctor (he didn’t actually hold an academic title) gathered a faithful following of fellow adventurers, mostly teenagers, one of whom manifested as a contriver as well, with a nearly identical technique (he used injections instead of ingested formulas).

The original Doc Feral became one of the founding members of the Shining Guardians, and his successors have held up said tradition. Ever since world war one, the Feral Family (as this group is known) has always included more than one contriver, of whom the most capable one would bear the title of Doc Feral, until he or she either died, passed it on or lost the title to an majority vote from the other members. Many of the older bearers of the title are still alive and support the younger generation in various ways.

The family is well-known for its reliance on heterodyning – as all members are contrivers, and all of them ascribe to some variation of the power formula, they usually operate by synchronising similar powers (such as having a squad of blasters coordinate to fuse their powers into something greater. Though most members are rather weak individually, the family as a whole can be considered an A-Class combatant.

Currently, the twenty-sixth Doc Feral is leading the family as they act as the leaders of the North American division of the United Heroes. Also known as the ‘Feral Mom’ (a nickname she quite despises), she relies on a specialised subset of the formula that induces physical changes, mainly various form of animal shapes with a variety of powers.

Amaterasu

Asuka Kagurasaki was just fourteen years old when she married the son of the Japanese emperor – only to see him brutally murdered by Weisswald, two years later.

She manifested on the spot, just as Weisswald was preparing to kill her. It was only due to her inexperience and panic that he survived her opening strike, which incinerated his left arm and killed two members of his praetorian guard before they even realised there was something wrong.

It is generally agreed that, had Asuka had any prior combat training, the terror of Weisswald could have been stopped right then and there. Even so, he was driven off, and then had to flee the country entirely when Lady Light and the Dark joined forces with Amaterasu.

Unfortunately, she was unwilling to actually leave her country in order to pursue Weisswald, preferring to stay behind and pacify it, bringing down the agents left behind by the Tyrant as well as uppity criminal elements. Though she did then join the war effort against Weisswald, he had made plans for her by then, and was capable of weathering her assault, even though no one ever found a way to efficiently counter her power (apart from staying out of its range).

Initially, it was assumed that Amaterasus’ power was a crude pyrokinesis – the ability to incinerate anything within roughly a hundred and sixty feet of her from the inside out. She also had an extra sense that allowed her to perceive every exertion of force within said range – such as the force exerted by muscles within a human body, or by a travelling projectile. As such, anyone who stood within her range lived and died upon her whim – she could reach into and burn even the strongest metahuman. And she herself was effectively immune to any and all physical attacks.

Later it turned out that her power was far more than just that – it was more comparable to a very crude telekinesis. The incineration was achieved by an undirected burst of telekinesis, generated within the target, tearing their bodies apart while setting them ablaze with the heat of the friction. Once she learned to direct this burst, she could use it to move objects along straight lines at very great speeds – including herself. She could effectively turn any solid matter (liquids could only be detonated on the spot) into a lethal projectile, allowing her to attack targets far outside her range, as well as fight targets within it with less lethal means than her standard attack.

Amaterasu quickly gained fame across the world, and even the Royal Family accepted her as a full member, despite her not having carried out any heirs to the throne and her husband being dead – but she was simply too powerful to ignore, and frankly far too important.

Despite Japan’s push to unify and standardise all metahumans as Sentais, Amaterasu was allowed to retain an independent identity, partly due to her personal importance and partly because she styled herself in a traditional manner (she wore rich traditional robes styled to evoke a priestly look). This would become part of her legacy, later on (more on that later).

Asuka fought for the prosperity and safety of her country until nineteen-sixty-nine, when she was enthralled by her own son from her second marriage and forced to first kill her three daughters, then herself. Afterwards, her husband tracked down and killed their son, before committing ritual suicide, stating grief over the loss of his family and shame over the monster his son had become as his reasons, thus ending the story of Japan’s greatest heroine.

But she would not be forgotten, as Japan declared her a national hero and an example for all to follow. In her memory, they have made a special exception in the Sentai system, allowing their most exceptional heroes to discard the uniform of the Sentai in favour of more personalised (though preferably traditionally inspired) garb and names. These elite few are considered Japan’s answer to the Shining Guardians.

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