B012.7 Born At Sleep

Previous | Next

“I don’t like this,” Amazon grumbled as everyone gathered on the rooftop of the UH’s headquarters.

As one of the three principal divisions of the organisation on the North American continent (the other two were based in San Diego and Toronto), it housed a great many parts of its bureaucracy, thus justifying the fact that the building it was housed in was one of the tallest ones in the city.

The fact that it made an impressive statement was a deliberate bonus. It was also a good place to look out over the city from.

It was a pain to get up on, at least for Basil, as there were no other buildings nearly as tall within a block of it. It would’ve taken a while for him to get up on top with his grappling hooks, so Prisca had picked him up and carried him to the top, trailed by the entirety of his unkindness of ravens (he’d originally deliberated whether to use ‘conspiracy’ or ‘unkindness’, then settled on the latter; merely calling them a ‘flock’ was just too boring).

They’d been greeted by Amazon, still the only adult superhero in town who wasn’t a street-level vigilante. With the cold war now growing rapidly hot, that was unlikely to change any time soon.

The entirety of the Juniors was present, save for Polymnia, as well, from Gloom Glimmer (whom Basil was quite glad to have on their side in any crisis) down to Spellgun and Osore, whom he wouldn’t have expected to join, based just on their powers – Spellgun had some nasty shots, but was otherwise just a normal human, lacking any versatility beyond what his rifle and ammunition provided, while Osore’s ability to make people afraid – devastating though it had been in its accidental use against Basil – didn’t seem that useful in the usual S-Class situation.

He was still glad about every bit of added support.

Amazon, though, didn’t seem too pleased with the situation. The first thing she’d done had been to protest taking teenagers into an unknown S-Class situation, new laws be damned. Even Gloom Glimmer was only supposed to provide transportation, not engage.

No one wanted to hear that and she was quickly convinced to let it go; now they were just waiting for Polymnia to get there – she’d been in the middle of some work and was just now stepping out of the elevator.

Basil took the chance to look her power armor over, feeling a pang of envy – of course she could still afford one, unlike him. It even looked like she’d improved it since the last time he’d seen it – the armor was noticeably more streamlined, more form-fitting, the transparent purplish-pink material (he still wasn’t sure what kind of alloy it was made of) more opaque than before, probably because it was also more dense – either that, or she’d sacrificed protection in exchange for making it more skin-tight, and he doubted she’d do that. Her robotic arms had been redesigned entirely and, unless she’d been hiding or developed a different specialisation, not by herself – they were less like a spider’s legs now and looked more like segmented metallic tentacles, with the segments painted with the same colour she used on her hair and lips. He’d done some research on that a while ago – the colour did not react to movement, per se, but rather to vibrations in the air – to sound. Which was why her hair always turned into a light show during her concerts, as Vasiliki had been all too happy to demonstrate by playing all of Polymnia’s concerts on the big screen and speaker system in his lair. Right now, the colours moved rather lazily across the metal and her hair. Since they all reacted to the same sounds – which, currently, came mostly from Amazon, Tartsche and Hecate arguing about who’d get to come along – the effect seemed to start at the four tentacles closest to the arguing trio and travel across them, over her hair (tied into a high pony tail today), her lips and onto the other four. As before, the top two tentacles held a selection of speakers, the two below were lacking in anything but the clawed tips all eight shared, meant for combat and movement, the next two held the two pieces of her keyboard-like control system and the last two were like the second set, currently on the ground to help balance the weight of the others.

Maybe she just took the servo-motors out of her armor, he thought as he appraised her work. She is strong enough to move her armor on her own and her tentacle-rig can carry and balance itself. Yeah, that made sense. It would make her armor more reliable, as well – less parts that could be damaged or fail.

The only part of her setup which seemed unchanged was her visor.

He noticed her eyes roaming over his load out, as well, as she appraised his new setup the same way he’d done with hers. Normally, he’d have approached her and started talking shop, but today… he just had too much on his mind.

So he just nodded to her and turned around, walking up to the trio.

Tartsche was just making a point about them needing every bit of firepower possible when dealing with an unknown S-Class – especially if the people in question had already proven to be reliable in no less than two such events – but Amazon didn’t seem convinced.

“Amazon,” Basil said as he stepped into the triangle they’d formed. She was, amazingly, taller than he was – no mean feat – so he had to look up at her, if only slightly. “I understand and appreciate your concern for our well-being,” She smiled, relaxing a bit, “but we are determined to participate in this. You can either take us with you and integrate us smoothly into whatever command structure will be in place there, or you can leave us behind – in which case we would arrive by alternate means.” She tensed up again as soon as he pronounced the ‘but’ and only got more agitated from there.

“Why’re you here, then?” she asked between clenched teeth.

“Because Gloom Glimmer is still our fastest, most reliable way to Esperanza and we’d also like to be, as I already explained, integrated into the local command structure, which should go much more smoothly if you take us along as reinforcements – S-Class protocols allow you to recruit any volunteer without an extended kill warrant on their head for such a situation.”

She growled at him under her breath, trying to transfix him with her gaze – but honestly, compared to Amy’s scowl, her’s was rather cute and pleasant.

He stood there, giving her fifteen seconds to process his words before he continued in a softer voice, “Look, we just want to help. We are heroes, and we live dangerously, anyway. So just let us do our job.”

“It’s not your job,” she said softly, deflating. “None of you have a duty to do this.” She turned to the junior heroes. “There is no shame in sitting this one out. You don’t owe it to anyone.”

“Oh, good, I’ll wish you all a nice d-” Outstep began, before Spellgun slapped him over the back of the head.

“We’re coming,” Tartsche said. “At the very least, we can help with the evacuation. Gloom Glimmer is probably our most powerful healer…”

“Not a reliable one, though,” Gloom Glimmer whispered, her face hidden in the shadows of her cowl. Polymnia put an arm around her shoulders, giving her a friendly (if stiff) squeeze.

“Brennus has excellent medical and field aid knowledge,” he continued unperturbed.

Not that I have any idea where I have it from, Basil thought in turn.

“Spellgun, Tyche,” he pointed at her sniper rifle, “Hecate and Polymnia can both support from long range,  I can tank any hit and no one’s better at high-speed evac than Outstep,” he concluded.

“Speaking of high speed,” Basil interjected before the speeches could continue, “We are wasting time.”

To his annoyance, it looked like she was going to further object, but she was interrupted by a cabin – an elevator – rising up from the ground next to the helipad, and a slovenly dressed, unshaven man rushed out.

Basil barely recognised Jason Widard – he’d never been one to pay too much attention to his appearance, even when he appeared on television, but he was looking positively run-down now!

“Why’re you still here!?” he asked, his face tight. “Our precogs just upgraded their threat assessment! From Green to Yellow!”

Amazon looked at him, briefly, then turned to the teens. “Alright. I’ll take you along – but you do as I say, when I say it, got it? I have more experience at this than all of you put together, and by God, you will obey me and the other veterans!”

“Yes ma’am!” they all replied at once, before they gathered around Gloom Glimmer.


Basil blinked, feeling more than a little confused. He’d expected some manner of effect, something to mark the transition, but… one moment, they’d been clustering around Gloom Glimmer (who’d stayed uncharacteristically quiet, judging by what he’d seen of her before), the next they stood on a large market square, with numerous other capes and cowls gathered near them. The transition had been instant.

First things first… He checked – Prisca was there. They’d been worried, briefly, about whether or not a teleportation ability would work on her, and whether she could sustain her projection at such distance.

She looked at him, nodding with a small. Everything appeared to be alright.

Whispers rose among the gathered metahumans – and there were really only metahumans around. Unless Esperanza had had a sudden surge in non-powered costumed figures.

“Stay where you are,” Amazon told them before she walked towards the stage.

Basil recognised a few of the people gathered. The United Heroes’ Esperanza Division stood on a portable stage, their Juniors stood in a small cluster off to one side.

Father Manus, their field (and spiritual) leader, in his priestly black robe with the stiff white collar, wearing no mask, his porcelain-like face sporting a serene yet determined expression. Basil didn’t know whether he was permanently transformed or whether he could change into a normal form.

Hollywood, his daughter, stood to his right in stark contrast, her risqué outfit looking like something halfway between a ball gown and a bikini, made from pure white silk that contrasted with her caramel-coloured skin and jet black hair. She eschewed a mask, much like her father, but wore professionally applied make up.

To Hollywood’s left stood her husband Waverider, looking quite boring next to his inhuman father-in-law and his glamorous wife in spite of his movie-star-slash-surfer-dude looks. He wore a practical set of body armor over thick pants, the only difference between it and standard special ops gear being the light blue wave patterns covering it. He had one arm wrapped around Hollywood’s waist, holding her close.

Next came Little Boy, a man who seemed to be morbidly obese, with no hair at all, wearing a thick long coat he barely seemed to fit into. Yet a second look revealed that he was growing, getting fatter and bigger in small increments as he kept building up his destructive power.

Finally, another pair stood to Father Manus’ left, a man and a woman holding hands.

The man, Silver Falcon, wore a skin-tight dark blue bodysuit with a wing-like, silver cape and beak-shaped mask. He looked more slender than muscular, but there was a kind of natural grace to his stance.

His sister Charybdis, the West Coast’s heavy hitter (even more so than Little Boy, really), was the shortest person on the stage, shorter than her own brother by more than a head at least, even though they were supposed to be twins. She wore a thick blue-black bodysuit with tight, molded armor reminiscent of blue-green scales on her chest, with matching greaves and bracers, as well as a similarly designed helmet which enclosed her head entirely, save for her mouth, showing off pale skin and even paler lips.

There were even more figures gathered, at least fifty capes and cowls, not counting their own group. Quite a few villains he recognised, as well…

Oh shit.

Amy was there. With Kraquok and Lamarr. They stood a good deal away from the heroes, with the local street villains clustering around them.

Kraquok looked the same as every time Basil had seen him on television or on the internet. Big, freaky beyond belief with his crocodile-like double-face and his weirdly patched-together physique, combining elements from human, saurian and weirder anatomy into a world-renowned nightmarish blend.

His teammate, Lamarr, looked positively average next to him in his three-piece magician’s suit with the purple velvet top hat and wide cape, holding a black-and-white wand in his gloved hands. Unlike the thirty or so villains around him, he looked utterly at ease, as if he was just out on a walk.

Amy… was staring daggers at Basil. She was, in fact, shaking with barely restrained anger, apparently barely held in check by Kraquok having placed a clawed hand on her shoulder (not that physically restraining her would mean anything).

Vasiliki growled next to him, her eyes fixated on Amy. Though he couldn’t determine her expression, it was no big deal to guess what she was thinking.

Amazon did not seem pleased to see Amy, either, and she was much more obvious about it than Vasiliki.

Fortunately, though, the two groups stood far enough apart from each other for it to not be obvious that Amy was looking at him specifically.

I am going to feed your spleen to you through your nose, Amy spoke straight into his head, her mental voice fairly bubbling over with rage.

Provided I still have one, and a nose, after this, he couldn’t restrain himself from thinking back at her, feeling a flash of irritation. She hardly had the right to criticise his choices, considering her own.

If you die here, I’m going to kill you, she replied calmly.

I love you, too. Be safe.

Look who’s talking.

“-ing at?” Vasiliki said, pulling his attention back to his immediate surroundings.

“Huh?” he asked, momentarily confused.

She was looking at the stage again, though throwing suspicious looks over her shoulder every now and then, glaring at Amy. “I’d like to know what the hell that bitch is looking at,” she replied angrily.

“Language!” Dalia reprimanded her with a grin. Vasiliki almost blew up at her, visibly, but the redhead just pressed on, “Look, I know what you got against her, but we need to keep our heads clear here. Put your issues with her off until after this.”

“You…” Vasiliki tensed, almost lifting her staff – but then she deflated, lowering her head. “… are right. Thanks.” She took a deep breath and pointedly turned away entirely from Amy.

And just in time, too, as two armored figures approached the group.

Ah, finally, good news! Basil thought as he and Polymnia stepped forward immediately to meet them.

The two figures looked as different as night and day, yet there was an odd sense of… similarity about them which went beyond their outward appearance. Both were wearing power armour, but that’s where the similarities ended.

The taller of the duo was clad from head to toe in blackened,  steel. His armour was blocky, so broad it looked almost like a cartoon, and it moved quite stiffly, with exceedingly heavy steps which threatened to crack the pavement. The only colour to it, aside from several heat vents at his sides, were the circular red lenses over his eyes. The armour’s left arm ended in a huge cannon instead of a hand, looking as blocky and ragged as the rest of his equipment (though Basil was guessing about the gender – there really was no way to tell how the person inside that armour looked).

His name was Boom-Boom, one of the few teenage gadgeteers currently active in the USA – and a supervillain, as well.

In stark contrast to his appearance, the girl next to him looked like she’d come out of a science-fiction comic book. Her armour was sleek and – Basil had never thought he’d use the word in relation to power armour, except in jest, but it just fit – quite sexy. It was so thin and tight, it looked more like simple body armour, yet he knew that it was definitely powered. Her armour was made of some manner of silverly-golden metal, covering her from head to toe. It was segmented and sported an old-fashioned clock face with three brassy hands indicating the time in Roman numerals. The armor was so form-fitting, there was no doubt that there was a slender girl underneath – it was even molded to fit her breasts like a second skin, a feature not even Polymnia’s body-accentuating armour sported. Furthermore, each step of hers was accentuated with the sound of a ticking clock. A mass of long black hair tied into a ponytail poked out of the back of her armor, and a red-golden visor made up the upper half of her helmet’s faceplate. Two sleek guns rested in holsters on her hips, and a long, sleek rifle was strapped to her back. Each piece of her equipment ticked, much like her armour did, and they were all in perfect tune.

Her name was Tick-Tock. Second-youngest – though senior – member of the local Juniors, an up-and-coming Gadgeteer much like Basil and Polymnia.

The four of them came to a halt just a few feet from each other, looking at their respective equipment. Polymnia’s tentacles even folded back so as not to obstruct their sight.

Finally, after a few moments of quiet analysis, Boom-Boom spoke up, holding out his hand towards Basil.

“Cowl’s Boom-Boom,” he introduced himself, his voice modulated by a voice-changer and further distorted by his thick helmet, as they shook hands (his massive right gauntlet made his entire hand disappear). “Everything I make explodes.”

“Brennus,” Basil replied in kind, “Speciality still up in the air, though I currently trend towards some manner of Electromagnetic theory as part of it.”

“Ah, you’re still trying to figure it out,” Tick-Tock replied as she and Polymnia shook hands. “I remember that time.” She focused on Polymnia again, “Tick-Tock’s my cape, and everything I make involves a timer of some kind.”

<Polymnia,> the pop princess replied. <I specialise in acoustic effects. As well as music.>

Boom-Boom shook hands with her as well, while Basil exchanged greetings with Tick-Tock. “Nice to have some more techies on the team,” the blocky supervillain said. “Maybe we’ll even get a chance to work together on something. Here’s to us making a bigass electro-acoustic time bomb!”

Tick-Tock slapped the back of his helmet, making a bell-like ringing sound. “All you ever think of is stuff blowing up,” she complained. “Please don’t use this situation as an excuse to blow even more things up than you already have.”

He just shrugged, a truly impressive motion given his frame, despite the limited movement he could actually put into it.

<If we’re really lucky,> Polymnia interjected with a wistful smile, <We won’t have to fight at all, this’ll all blow over and we can all work on something fun.>

“Explosions are fun. They’re all the fun!” Boom-Boom countered with unsettling intensity. Tick-Tock slapped him over the head again, causing him to continue in a more normal voice: “Besides, we’re unlikely to work together outside of an S-Class party like this, seeing how I’m a supervillain and all.”

“Well, I am a vigilante, so technically that is not an issue for m- is that what I think it is?” Basil looked up at a nearby building – a bank, though he didn’t bother to check which one – along with everyone else as a penetrating hum filled the air, and a gleaming silver shape rose up over the roof, smoothly gliding through the air and over the market square.

It looked, at first glance, like a particularly blocky jet fighter, except it was the size of two school busses standing next to each other, with a squared snout sporting four black spheres, one on each side, which moved around like a chamaeleon’s eyes. Its wings were similarly squared, thicker than any jet’s wings were ever going to be; clearly, streamlining the craft had not been a priority. A huge cannon’s barrel – some manner of railgun, Basil guessed – extended almost from the very hind of the craft over the tip, facing forward. It had no other visible armaments. There were several depressions worked smoothly into the metal, almost like channels, which covered most of its surface, from the tip all the way to the back end, emitting a pale silver light. It moved with no visible means of propulsion, producing only that pervasive, pulsing humming sound. The air around it seemed to almost cling to its shape, causing slight distortions in the light that passed through, blurring the edges of the craft.

“That… that is…” Boom-Boom stammered. If he wasn’t covered in more than a ton of steel, he’d probably be trembling.

No matter, the other three were trembling more than enough to make up for him.

“That is a Mark VII Subjugator,” Basil whispered in awe as their companions from New Lennston joind up with the small group of Gadgeteers. “It is the third-latest model of Subjugators, and the latest mass produced one. Why is it here?”

“It’s not public knowledge yet,” Gloom Glimmer replied to his question, her silken voice barely audible over the pulsing sound of the Subjugator touching down on top of the city hall, projecting a shimmering force-field in lieu of other landing gear, “There’s a major conference planned on the subject of nature protection and endangered species in particular. They expected delegates from all over the world, including GAIN and the AMU. In fact, unless I’m mistaken, there should be-“

She stopped speaking as the hum cut off and people started whispering among each other – but not about the Subjugator, no. Instead, their attention was drawn to the stage, where two new arrivals had joined the local heroes.

One was a very tall, almost freakishly thin man with a long, care-lined face, wearing a dark blue robe and wizard’s hat, while holding a long wooden staff in one hand.

The other looked, at first, like an elongated fur ball standing on four wooden sticks. A second glance, though, revealed that the sticks were actually its brown, gnarled arms, ending in over-sized, clawed hands; the fur ball was its body, wrapped in dirty brown fur which moved almost as if a breeze was running through it, despite the stillness of the air. Zooming in, Basil could see hints of shapes moving within the fur, like small ghosts.

“There they are,” Gloom Glimmer concluded. “Prospero and Totemic.”

“That’s one hell of a hippie conference,” Dalia said half in jest. “I wouldn’t have expected those people to be so environmentally minded.”

Gloom Glimmer shrugged casually. “It’s not something which comes up often in the media, but Sovereign is actually very environmentally sensitive. He’s backing most charities that share his passion for protecting nature – he just doesn’t care about humans the same way. As for Madd- I mean, Queen Madeleine, she’s not exactly an avid believer herself, but Totemic is a very active defender of endangered species. He owns the world’s largest zoo, as well. I suspect Prospero is here to serve as a translator and to keep an eye on him. The Queensguard never operates solo by principle.”

“Wow, I suddenly feel like we’re not even needed here,” Vasiliki breathed. “What’s next, are the Shining G-“

There was a loud sound, like a huge cord being strung tight, a booming explosion in the air, and a whirling golden portal opened on the stage, a tall, muscular woman in her mid-thirties stepping out of it; She wore leather pants, a white shirt and a leather jacket stepping out, sporting two bandoliers which held numerous vials and leather pouches, her dark brown hair cut into a practical bob cut. She was followed by fifteen others, all in similar garb – dressed like adventurers from Pulp novels – who took position in a line at the back of the stage, as she joined Prospero and Father Manus at the front.

<That,> Timothy spoke up through their comlink, his voice hushed, <Is Doc Feral. This is rapidly turning into one hell of a crisis crossover roster. “What’s next, are Lady Light and the Dark gonna show up and join in on the fun?>

Everyone around – including a few of the gathered heroes and villains who stood further away – turned to look at Gloom Glimmer.

The girl seemed to briefly shrink into her cape, as if startled by the sudden rush of attention. Then she replied, “I really don’t think so… I tried to reach them, but Mom and Dad are both… off. I don’t know where to or why, I don’t even know if they’re together, I just know that neither of them is reachable right now, even for me.”

“Unless we are about to fight DiL,” Outstep spoke up in an amused tone, “I don’t really think they’re going to be necessary for this one.”

As he spoke, Basil saw Gloom Glimmer twitch, briefly, her eyes flashing red for a moment before she got herself under control again.

What is that about? he asked himself, though he only said, “Way to tempt fate, mate.”

Outstep laughed out loud, though despite his bravado, he looked pretty nervous.

Before anyone could further comment on the issue, Father Manus stepped away from the other two capes and looked at the gathered heroes, clearly preparing to speak to them all.


“My dear brothers and sisters in arms,” the porcelain man spoke in a deep, sonorous voice, spreading his arms wide to include everyone on the square. “Welcome and thank you for appearing in such numbers to help protect our home from whatever calamity is fast approaching. We – by which I mean the local division of the United Heroes, as well as Doc Feral of the Shining Guardians – are well aware that many of you are volunteers from remote locations, and we deeply appreciate your willingness to help us in our hour of need.” He briefly bowed towards the people on the square, before he turned around to do the same towards the AMU delegates and the Subjugator up above.

Afterwards, he turned around again to adress the people on the square again. “Unfortunately, we’re still unclear as to the exact nature of the prophecised threat – we only know that it is a considerable one, tentatively classified as a Code Yellow S-Class event.”

“That’s just two steps below DiL,” Vasiliki whispered as she and Dalia moved a little closer to each other for comfort. Basil himself was already holding hands with Prisca, and most others had paired up. Boom-Boom and Tick-Tock were holding hands, as well.

“Since we don’t know when exactly it is going to make itself manifest, nor where exactly, we must move quickly into position!” Father Manus continued speaking while Waverider created a crackling blue-white disc of energy, on which Little Boy loaded a stack of small black boxes. The disc moved around the people on the stage – except for the heroes, who already had boxes such as those attached to their belts or chests. Everyone it passed by took one of those boxes. It came down and moved through the crowd as well.

“Waverider is distributing communicators,” the porcelain man explained. “They attach to your costume or body through a vacuum. Please speak your cape or cowl into them, confirm by pressing the blue button and keep them on your person at all times – they will allow us to contact you, coordinate your movements and…”

He went on explaining how the communicators worked, while Basil took one and attached it to his belt, next to his knife sheath (well, one of them) after entering and confirming his name.

“As we don’t have sufficient information to create an elaborate battle plan, I’ll ask you all to remain in your teams with the people you have already worked with. If you don’t have a team, please find at least two other people to team up with for the duration of this event,” the priestly superhero went on. “Each group will be given a location to get to and await further developments.”

The gathered capes and cowls listened quietly, with not even any whispers to break the quiet in between his sentences.

“There is not much time, but let me say this – thank you for being here. Be safe. Stay together. Take care of each other. And God be with you.”


After briefly exchanging well wishes, Basil and his team had been directed to a high-rise apartment building near the waterfront, where they’d landed on the rooftop to take up positions. Someone had turned the roof into a garden with benches and tables, and they spread out, taking seats to try and calm down a bit before the storm.

“If I’d known it would take this long, I’d have waited before coming here,” Prisca said after five minutes of nothing happening, as she sat on a sun chair, in full armour. “I’m wasting time. Literally.”

“You could not have flown here that quickly,” Basil replied. He was the only one not sitting, having instead taken up position at the West edge of the roof, staring towards the bright blue ocean. “Not without burning more time than you would gain from waiting. And teleporting here would require Gloom Glimmer’s cooperation, which would require explaining your power to her.”

She made a grumpy sound, but didn’t press the issue.

“Hey, B-Six,” Dalia spoke up from where she was lounging on a swinging bench. “What’d you mean when you said we had other means of getting here?” she asked curiously, one leg dangling from the bench, using her toe to cause it to swing back and forth. “I didn’t know we could do something like that.”

“I’d like to know about what you meant, as well,” Vasiliki added, turning to look at him – she’d been sitting at a table, sketching something on a pad she’d pulled out of her bag of holding. “You pressured Amazon a lot there.”

“I was bluffing,” Basil admitted without turning to look at them – he was too busy distributing his ravens across Esperanza.He felt their stares on his neck.

<Duuuuuuude,> Timothy breathed. <That’s… I didn’t know you could bluff like that.>

<Yeah, I figured you were one of those ‘always speak the truth’ types,> Stephi commented.

Basil barely held himself back from laughing out loud. Well, they do not know me very well after all, do they?

“It was just a simple bluff, nothing worth mentioning, really,” he said. “Though I do feel bad about being so pushy. But then again, her concern really was misplaced.” Honestly, compared to what we have already been through, how bad could this be?

As if trying to reprimand him for even thinking that, there was a loud beep from their communicators at just that moment.

<Unknown object coming from the West,> spoke a calm woman’s voice. <Something massive is approaching the city from beneath the water. All teams, be ready to deploy.>

The girls leapt up and joined Basil in watching the ocean, forming a single line. Prisca stood to his left, and her hand found his, gently squeezing it. He squeezed back, as they saw a large shadow approach the beach littered with sunshades and various booths – fortunately, the civilians had already retreated into the numerous shelters built all around the huge metropolis.

“That… looks big,” Dalia commented lamely.

The approaching shadow looked like it was the size of a football field.

As it came closer, the water rose, bulging as the colossal shape rose up, simultaneously moving forwad and somehow shrinking back, as if the act of rising up forced it to redistribute its mass, changing its shape.The water rose higher, until a pillar of water forty meters tall stood just in front of the beach, with a darker, slightly shorter shape standing within.

The creature – whatever it was – appeared to be humanoid in shape, though very roughly so, its torso nearly pear-shaped with no visible neck between its conical head and its barely distinguishable shoulders – if it even had shoudlers – visible in this state. It was barely possible to distinguish two thick, round arms which reached down to the knees of its disproportionally short legs.It seemed to just stand there, for a few moments, the water around it never falling off until it suddenly leaned forward, taking a slow, lumbering step onto the sandy ground in front of it.And with that, its water shroud fell off, revealing…

“Oh, come on!” Basil shouted. “First a giant pile of shit, and now… now this!?”

Previous | Next


B012.2 Born At Sleep

Previous | Next

<We really shouldn’t be laughing about this!> Melody complained during torrents of giggling and laughter. <This is so awful! And we’re awful for laughing about it!>

“Th-then let’s be awful!” Jared squeezed out between bouts of laughter, wiping tears from his eyes; with his beach-blonde hair in disarray, he looked like every girl’s dream prince having a joke, and Melody would never admit it out loud, but if he wasn’t such a jerk, she’d probably take him up on a date. “C’mon, let’s put on the next one!”

Irene seemed to agree with him, or at least her incessant giggling on the floor in front of the couch caused her to spasm and show a thumbs-up by accident.

Harry and Thomas, who were sitting on the side of the couch opposite from Jared, just leaned back, an arm around each other’s shoulders, and enjoyed the show on the huge television in the Junior Heroes’ common living room.

Osore – actually Takahama Goudo – and Aimihime – Aimi for short – were also there, sitting in between Melody and the two boys.

Everyone but Aimi (who was currently curled up on Osore’s lap in the form of a huge red-brown cat) was in casual clothes, sweatpants and shirts, fresh out of the showers after training and a shared lunch. Even Irene had participated, not that working out did her any good. Melody was pretty sure she just did it for the team bonding experience.

Of course, as it turned out, watching these stupid videos was an even better bonding experience. Jared had suggested them, and Irene had agreed wholeheartedly. Aimi did, too, and Goudo usually just went along with things, anyway (Melody had never seen him so much as vary his facial expression and his voice was even less expressive; she never knew how he felt about anything). She and the other two had just gone along, as well.

She had to admit, awful as they were, these ‘Darwin Awards’ were really quite funny – in a morbid, dark humour kind of way. And she’d never even heard of them before! They’d just finished watching the runner-up for last year’s award, and were now getting to the actual winner – Jared had promised that it’d blow them away.

The drumroll started while Irene pulled herself back up onto the couch, face red, and pulled her knees up to hug them, giggling in anticipation.

With the end of the drumroll, the clip began. The video was shaky, amateurish, and there were odd distortions to it; it showed a heap of rubble, mostly concrete and rebar, which shook in irregular intervals, as the light played odd tricks with the image, creating random slowdowns and ghost images.

“Oh no,” Irene whispered, suddenly subdued.

The image moved a bit, slowly, as if the cameraman was slowed down for some reason. Or just afraid, judging by how much it was shaking. As it moved, it became clear that the cameraman was on the upper floor of a building, and at least half the room he’d been in had caved in from whatever had created the mound of rubble it was looking at. There was another impact and a muffled scream from behind the camera as the image shook again, but then it settled down.

<What’s wrong?> Melody asked her, taking a quick look before turning back to the video. Irene was hugging her knees close to her chest and looked miserable all of a sudden.

“I know this one,” she replied, her eyes glued to the screen, even though she clearly didn’t want to see it.

The viewpoint shifted, moving up the heap of rubble it had been pointed at. Bodies came into sight, four men in five times as many pieces, their bodies cut apart cleanly and precisely, as if someone had used a line of silk to dismember them – and the silk had left behind a clingy, incandescent white on the wounds that was eating into their remains. Even in pieces, it was easy to make out that they’d been wearing costumes, and so had probably been heroes – or at least villains who died heroically.

It moved further up, and strands of pure white light came into sight, moving slightly like hair under water, dissolving whatever they came into contact with.

The image moved up, and up, and up, over almost twenty meters of glowing white hair, until it focused on a nude form whose modesty – what little there was – was only preserved by her own hair, which partially concealed her impossibly perfect shape. Her eyes were glowing the same colour as her hair, wide open and featureless, her jaw slack with more light spilling forth from in between her partially open lips. Her arms, tipped by long nails, which glowed the exact same colour as her hair, hung loosely down her side as she slowly, almost ponderously, lowered herself until she was floating barely half a foot over the top of the rubble, the remains of the heroes who’d fought her destroyed by her hair. The random distortions to the recording only became worse as it focused on her.

A caption appeared as the cameraman stopped moving.

Desolation-in-Light; Galveston, Texas, March 3rd, 2011

“Fuck me,” she heard Thomas whisper, his soft voice surprisingly sharp. “Don’t tell me these assholes are gonna show some poor sob that got ‘imself killed tryin’ to fight that thing!” Irene flinched, but didn’t comment.

Jared, however, did. “Don’t worry,” he said “This one deserves it. Wait and see.”

They watched as DiL’s body was briefly surrounded by a multi-coloured haze, before she was surrounded by an aura that glowed somehow warmer than her normal light, the colour more yellow than white. It focused into a lens about the size of her torso, extending a beam – not like an energy blast or anything like that, no, more like a spotlight – out in front of her and into the distance. Then the ‘spotlight’ began to move, even though DiL herself didn’t move an inch, rotating around her as if she was a lighthouse atop a mountain of rubble, angling up and down, always with her as the centre as it moved. Once, it passed over the rubble beneath, touching on parts of it not covered by her hair, and the concrete and metal and wood began to distort, forming bubbles as if the light was hot enough to boil it in moments, even though it didn’t seem to heat up at all – nothing caught fire, and the wood should have. The deadly spotlight passed on.

And then they saw someone enter into the periphery of the recorded image – and so did the cameraman, who focused the image on the new arrival.

It was a guy. Probably in his early twenties, he looked like what Melody imagined when she heard the term ‘doughy guy’. Not fat, or anything, but pale, really pale, with a wild shock of hair on his head and a weird thin beard and moustache. He was wearing an ill-fitting suit and tie, black and red respectively, with a white shirt, and he was running for all he was worth – towards DiL.

Melody looked at Irene again, who seemed even more miserable now – though Melody didn’t know if it was out of sympathy for the man who was clearly about to die, or because of Thomas’ phrasing. She reached out, gently squeezing her friend’s shoulder and Irene responded by tilting her head to rest her cheek on the back of her hand.

The video continued as the man ran around the boiled pieces of rubble – judging by his facial expression, it didn’t smell good, either – dodging strands of lethal hair in a way that was both surprisingly nimble and embarrassingly clumsy at the same time. One time, he actually rolled under the passing spotlight, barely evading having his face boiled off.

The cameraman seemed to have been as entranced by the guy’s actions as they all were, because he followed him on his way, the image mostly steady as the impacts which had shaken the earth had now stopped.

The doughy guy finally reached the top of the heap of rubble, standing on a spot that was untouched by DiL’s hair and the spotlight, and he…

Melody blinked, not sure if she believed what happened next. Fortunately, whoever had edited the video had found it hard to believe, as well, and so the video rewound and showed it again in a close up. She still had trouble believing it.

The doughy guy had dropped down on one knee, holding up a small black box he’d flipped open. A box with an engagement ring inside.


Irene whimpered, and a quick look showed Melody that she’d finally averted her eyes, focusing instead on her own toes.

She herself, though, just had to see what came next, even if she felt sick to her stomach.

The glowing woman didn’t appear to notice the doughy guy just three or four feet from her, even when he started to talk.

He kept on talking until the spotlight moved towards him – he tried to dodge it, but accidentally stepped into some strands of her hair, losing his foot in the process. And then the spotlight passed over him.

With a scream, he tumbled back, his face literally melting off his skull, bubbles forming and bursting so violently they revealed bare bone beneath. His suit cracked, bubbled and fell apart, all at once, and the body beneath was no better off – turning red, then cracked, then bubbling, then bursting off his bones.

He screamed more and tumbled into her hair – and that was that. The video ended with a shot of the Darwin Awards’ logo (a yellow street-sign showing the march of progress, with the homo sapiens sapiens walking off a cliff) spinning.

Everyone save for Osore (who didn’t do laughing, it seemed), Melody and Irene was laughing – until the television blew out.

“Oi, what the fuck!?” Jared shouted.

Perhaps everyone had the same thought Melody did, because everyone turned to look at Irene, who was still curled up on the couch, her face hidden behind her knees and her hair.

<Irene?> she asked, worried, squeezing her friend’s shoulder again – then she flinched back when, for just a moment, a sensation of utter, complete horror gripped her heart – and not just her; she could hear everyone else gasp, their heartbeats quickening as it, too reached them. But then, it was gone as quickly as it had appeared.

Irene flickered and vanished from her seat, suddenly standing a few feet in front of the couch, with her back ramrod straight.

She flickered again, to the door out and back, as if she couldn’t decide whether to leave or not.

“The fuck’s wrong?” Jared asked. “Why’d you have to bust o-“

“I’ll fucking tell you what’s wrong!” Irene shouted, and the lights flickered as she whirled around, her long hair flying wildly – and just barely covering her left eye as she focused on Jared. Melody hoped only she’d seen that it had turned red-and-black, a sure sign that she was losing control again – and there was the almost imperceptible, even to her, sound of that weird song her power generated when it came to the forefront.

Irene didn’t seem to notice, or mind, because she thrust a finger at Jared, who flinched back from her. “This isn’t funny! Where do you get off laughing about what she does!?” She whirled around to look at Harry and Thomas, both of whom had gone pale. “And you!” she shouted, pointing at Thomas, who looked both confused and frightened. “She’s not a thing! You of all people should know better than to call her a thing!”

Her hand dropped, and she shivered for a moment, her other hand reaching across her torso to grip her forearm. Then she turned away and stomped towards the exit.

Melody was just about to hurry after her when she whirled about and looked at the lot of them, eyes wide – though fortunately back to their usual colour. “And fucking stop fucking calling her DiL! She’s got a name, so fucking use that!” she screamed at them before she simply flickered and reappeared in the same spot, only facing away from them – and she stomped towards the door.

She really ought to run after Irene, to catch up to her and console her – but all she could think of at that moment was She has a name? She’d never even considered that Desolation-in-Light, the White Calamity, would have anything like a normal name – yet that was what Irene meant, surely. I wonder what she’s called? And who gave her the name? Probably Miss Whitaker, right?

Irene almost reached the door when it opened, and three men stepped inside.

Melody blinked as she recognised Mister Widard, Mister Patrid and Director Ryan walking in side-by-side. All three were wearing suits, though their styles were quite telling of the differences between the three men commonly considered to be the leaders of New Lennston’s United Heroes Division, now that Rounds was stationed on the Iron Wall (Amazon was a great field leader, but as far as Melody could tell, she had little to nothing to do with the political side of business).

Patrid was, as always, immaculately dressed in pure white – white silk suit, white silk shirt, white silk tie, white leather shoes. The only thing that wasn’t white about him were his bright blue eyes, his healthy skin and his bright blonde, slicked-back hair and neatly trimmed goatee. His perfect white teeth showed thanks to a boyish grin he had as he walked into the room. He looked ready to go to a high-class party or dance, visit the White House for dinner or make a deal for one’s soul. Possibly all three at once. And he still had that ever-present aura that only Melody seemed to pick up on, that presence which made her uneasy, slightly nauseated. She couldn’t bring herself to like the man, even though he’d been nothing but courteous and even supportive so far – it was hard enough to even tolerate his presence.

Mister Widard was wearing a much cheaper grey suit with a simple white shirt and a striped blue tie. As always, he was slightly dishevelled, his black-brown hair a mess accentuated by his five-o’clock shadow, his eyes made huge by a really unflattering pair of glasses he was balancing on his nose, and he even now, he had a communicator in his left ear, with a directed microphone extended halfway to his mouth (one of Melody’s patents, actually). Much unlike Patrid, Jason was just plain endearing. He was like a chronically overworked but nice and warm favourite uncle. She felt awful about all the trouble he’d been in lately, since she’d helped capture his niece the teenage supervillain, and she wished she could just walk up to him and give him a hug; but she didn’t feel that she knew him well enough for that.

Director Ryan made a contrast to both of the other men. He was heavily built, both muscular and fat at the same time, his body at least three times as wide as Widard’s stick-thin physique; and he was short, too, not exceptionally so, but short enough to look like a dwarf next to Patrid, who was at least six foot ten, if not eleven. His hair was red, which made them a brunette-blonde-redhead trio, cropped short and his round face was as smooth as Melody’s own. His suit was brown and functional, not as immaculate as Patrid’s but far more well-kept than Widard’s. Melody used to respect him, but her opinion of the man had taken a nosedive since he’d tried to get her to stay away from Irene – even if she understood that he thought he was doing the right thing.

There was one thing that was out of place between the three men – Melody had never seen them share a mood. Usually, Patrid was chipper, in good spirits, with a wide grin plastered on his too-perfect face; Widard always looked slightly confused and slightly exhausted, not to mention wary; and Director Ryan tended to have a very stern, to-the-point mood and facial expression.

Not today. All three looked quite pleased with themselves – though only for a moment, once they saw Irene walk up and past them.

Widard and Ryan turned to look at her, and Melody lost sight of their facial expressions, but Patrid surprised her – he made a dance-like step, almost a pirouette, and put a hand on Irene’s shoulder – and she stopped and turned, looking at him.

The other two men continued on their way towards the junior heroes, while Patrid talked quietly to Irene.

Melody missed the first few words they spoke, before she focused her hearing on them.

“… can tell me if anything’s wrong,” Patrid said softly. “I’m here for you.”

“I know, and I’m grateful, but this…” Irene whispered back. “It’s nothing. Just… my own issues.”

“You’re a horrible liar, lil’ one,” he replied affectionately. “I promised your mom that I’d keep an eye out for you – so don’t shut me out.”

Miss Whitaker asked him to watch out for Irene? she thought, confused, while her teammates stood up and tried to look more prim and proper than they currently were to their bosses. I wonder how they know each other?

Irene sighed, but didn’t reply.

“Now, I need you to calm yourself down and join us,” he continued whispering while Director Ryan and Widard took up position in front of the big screen (the director looked none too pleased at it being broken), “there’s some important stuff to talk about.”

After a few moments, Irene nodded and pulled her pill bottle out, downing a small handful of pills. She relaxed almost immediately, and the nearly subsonic siren’s song vanished, too. Melody felt herself relax, glad that her friend wouldn’t have an episode that’d just scare the rest of the team away from her any more.

Within moments, Irene was sitting next to her again – closer now, close enough for Melody to put an arm around her shoulders and hug her – and even Aimi had shifted into a form more appropriate for conversation, though the lack of clothes to wear forced her to improvise. In this case, she had shifted into a humanoid cat – not a cat girl, no, she was quite clearly a cat – with the same colour and pattern to her fur as before, now sitting next to Osore, who’d been the only one not to react to the entire scene up until now.

Patrid joined the other two adults, and the director spoke up.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” he said, sounding almost as pleased as he looked. “I have good news!”

Hopefully good enough to make up for this scene, Melody thought glumly as she felt Irene press a little closer to her.

“In light of all the successes we’ve had lately,” the director continued, “Our very successful fight against the Rabid Eight and the Spiteborn, as well as the fight against Hastur and her monsters…”

Melody heard Aimi’s heart skip a beat at the mention of Hastur and the people she’d affected – she didn’t know the full story, but she’d found out that Aimi had apparently gone through her own little horror show during that dark episode of New Lennston’s history.

“Well, we have reason to celebrate, especially since the Black Panthers and the Morning’s Children both have been routed entirely, save for one or two stragglers,” Ryan continued, as Melody thought over the implications of that.

While organised crime was always a problem, and supervillains working for organised crime even more so, they tended to be more… subdued. More interested in heists and subtle actions; more than three fourth of all public cape-and-cowl battles took place between heroes and gang members, or between rival gangs; with two of the oldest and most powerful gangs gone, New Lennston was now at least safer than New York or Chicago, and worlds ahead of the West Coast Triad.

“And so, the mayor has decided to hold a celebration with you children as the guests of honour!” he finished.

For a moment, no one said anything; then, Goudo had to ruin it.

“Shouldn’t Brennus and his girls be the guests of honour?” he asked in that infuriatingly monotone voice of his. “They contributed more to all of that than anyone else here, not counting the Rabid Eight thing.”

Patrid covered his mouth with his hand, though everyone could tell he was laughing behind it; Widard seemed to miss the comment, as he was busy doing something on a tablet he’d pulled out of his jacket’s pocket; but the director’s face fell immediately.

“We’re not going to acknowledge teenage delinquents,” he said firmly, throwing Goudo a warning look – after all, the boy had been a delinquent himself (he’d never really done anything to qualify as a villain, really). “Even if their contributions were… impressive, they are criminals.”

The meaning was clear – the spotlight had to be on the legal heroes – though Melody really didn’t agree with that. They’d risked their lives as much as any of them had, and Brennus had been instrumental in taking down both the Spiteborn and Hastur; Hecate had been no slouch, either. The only one who hadn’t really done much was Tyche, whose role in that group she still couldn’t guess at.

Patrid stepped forward and pulled the conversation back on track. “Anyway, aside from such concerns, here’s the important parts: there’ll be a gala on Monday – I know, it’s rather short notice, but at least you’ll be excused from school for that day and the next! Everyone will have to get a dress or a suit if you don’t have one already, and you should all practice some dancing… speaking of which, who here has any experience dancing? Other than Irene, of course.”

Melody gave Irene a curious look – he’d asked about experience, not skill, which her power could readily supply. Irene had never told her about dancing before, though.

Irene smiled at her. My parents are rather old-school, she spoke into her mind. Of course I had to learn how to dance properly.

Melody giggled involuntarily, though no one seemed to notice as the team was rapidly split down the middle. Melody, Irene and (surprisingly) Aimi knew how to dance – though Melody felt that she was probably quite rusty by now, as she hadn’t practiced since she’d manifested. Harry, Thomas, Goudo and Jared all had little to no idea about dancing, though.

“Ah well,” Patrid said with his usual grin. “Looks like a little practice is in order, then! After all, it’d be horrible for our image if our juniors couldn’t even dance on the celebration of their own heroic deeds!” He clapped his hands. “In the interest of getting you ready, I guess I’ll have to train the lot of you personally, over the next few days. That includes you three, just in case,” he added with a wink at the three people who actually knew dancing.

Everyone but Irene and the other two adults groaned, but before anyone could say anything more, Widard suddenly looked up from his tablet.

“Someone turn on the television,” he said. “HeroView channel, quickly!”

Everyone looked confused for a moment, but the junior heroes were so used to following his commands that they moved nonetheless – Aimi was the first to get the remote and she pushed the on-button.

Nothing happened.

“Ah, bugger,” Jared said, looking sullenly at Irene. “Our big girl here blew out the tellie throwing a hissy fit.”

I will slap you once the adults are out of the way, Melody thought resolutely, though fortunately, Irene didn’t lash out at him, nor did she seem to react to his jab at all.

Widard sighed and took the remote from Aimi. Pressing a few buttons, the wall-mounted screen flipped over, revealing a second screen behind it.

“We have a replacement television?” Harry asked in surprise, the first time he’d talked today, as far as Melody remembered – he’d been mostly content to let Thomas speak.

“Of course,” Widard said. “With all the powers that tend to gather in here, it’s not too rare that something breaks; so we have replacements for most major pieces of equipment. That’s not an excuse for you to go around breaking them, though!” he quickly added.

They all nodded, while he turned on the television and switched onto HeroView, the major channel on metahuman matters in the Western Hemisphere.

It was showing an abandoned apartment building in a rather dirty neighbourhood – the captions identified it as Paris, France, and it appeared to be live, too.

“What’s going on, Jason?” Patrid asked as he sauntered over to sit on the couch next to Irene, who shifted around to put her legs across his thighs, leaning even more fully into Melody at the same time.

“The Blackguard has been tracked down, it seems,” Jason said as he and Ryan joined the others on the couch. “Looks like there’s a whole bunch of aspiring new Chevaliers getting ready to wrest the cross and fleur-de-lys from him.”

Previous | Next


B010.8 Falling Hearts

Previous | Next

September 2, 2009

Sunny was cleaning the base together with Moony (he’d been allowed to choose her name!) while Father was tinkering with a new module for his armor when, suddenly, there was a girl in the room, sitting on one of the few empty spaces on father’s workbench.

“Hi!” she greeted as she stretched her legs.

Father pushed himself away on his rolling chair, shouting “D-03!”

Sunny and Moony – neither of whom was built for combat – simply dropped down to the floor as six turrets folded out of the ceiling. Two of them projected force-fields around Father, and around Sunny and Moony even as the others opened fire on the intruder.

He barely got a good look at the stranger – a teenage girl, slender with short, messy gold-blonde hair and green-blue eyes, wearing a grey-blue jacket over a white shirt with a matching tie and short pants that barely reached halfway down her thighs, topped by an old fashioned winged hat – before she kicked her (bare) feet and vanished, barely evading the four beams of focused light.

She reappeared at the other end of the workbench, looking exasperated. “Oy, hold your horses, Mister!” she shouted with a heavy accent that his linguistic engine placed as French Canadian. “I’m just a messenger!” she cried as she flipped off the bench, vanishing and reappearing within Father’s force-field with the same spin.

Having effectively flipped into safety and landed on her feet, the girl reached into a pouch that was attached to her belt.

Sunny and Moony cried out for their Father to drop the force field, but he just stood there, shocked, as she drew out… a letter. An old-fashioned letter with a golden wax seal.

“Here, all I wanted to give ya was this letter, you crazy person!” she groused. “Just read it and give me your reply, and I’ll go away!”

Father relaxed – slightly. If the girl wanted to hurt him, it could already have done so. Sunny and Moony watched as he took the letter, looking at the sender. His eyes widened. “What. The. Fuck,” he said in a monotone. Then he hastily broke the seal and unfolded the letter, quickly reading through it.

<Brother, what should we do?> Moony asked through their radio link. Her voice was a lot like Sunny’s (he’d given her a copy of his, since Father had forgotten to built all the functions necessary for speech into her) except with adjusted harmonics, making her sound more feminine. It carried over into a radio link between them. <Stay down and hope she’s been honest when she said she’ll simply leave with the answer. There’s nothing we can do at this time.> And that not just because of the speed at which this messenger moved, but also because the force fields around them and around father were still up and running. No chance to hit her before she killed Father, even if they’d had combat modules.

“Is she serious? Why does she want me to join?” Father asked the girl while slack-jawed.

The only response he elicited were a careless shrug of her shoulders and a “No idea, crazy person!”

Sunny and Moony frowned, but they couldn’t do anything, so they just watched. Father didn’t look pleased at all. “Can I think this over?” he finally asked.

The girl tilted her head. “I don’t see why you’d have to, but then again, I’m not crazy. So how about I just come around in…” She pulled an old-fashioned datebook out of her pouch and leafed through it. “Two days! I could drop in on the fourth between fifteen and seventeen o’clock. Is that a-gree-able with you?” she said, stumbling over one word.

“Can’t I just call a number or send an e-mail?” Father asked.

“Nu-uh! No electronic data transmission, ‘cept over isolated systems!” the girl replayed, waving her arms widely. “Too many darn hollywood hackers out there! Nevermind that creepy worm! You can give your reply to me or give me a letter – one you did not type on a computer that is, or ever will be, online – that I’ll deliver!”

Father frowned, but nodded. Even Sunny could tell that said approach had merit – transmitting data had become notoriously insecure nowadays. Anything of real import was categorically kept either on physical files or in offline databanks, anyway. So why not do the same for messages?

<Perhaps because that would take far too long and be subject to intervention from the outside?> Moony said over their link. When he turned his head to look at her blueish face, she added a smile. Unlike Sunny, Moony had a human-like face with a wide range of expressions. <You’ve been transmitting the whole time.>

<Oh. I didn’t notice,> Sunny replied.

“Sunny! Moony!” Father called them. They looked up, only to see that the strange girl was gone and the force fields down. “Clean up the place! I need some time to think.” He stalked off to his private room.

Sunny jumped up, then reached out for Moony, helping her up. She smiled again as she looked at the damage the turrets had done to the walls, floor and, in one case, one of Father’s inventions. <Let’s clean this place up,> she said, picking up her broom.

September 3, 2009

Sunny and Moony had almost finished fixing all the damage (those turrets had caused some nasty damage!) when Father returned and walked to his safe.

<Are you going to accept, Father?> Moony asked, even though neither of them really knew what or whom he’d been asked to join. But they’d learned that it was always better to talk than to be silent, from that delightful television show they watched each day.

“No,” he replied. “Their goals run counter to ours, my dear girl. Though it is seductive, gaining access to such vast resources, I fear that I shall not be capable of escaping them again.” He pulled the letter out of his pocket and put it into his safe, into the metal box that contained the diary and the research notes.

There must be value to it still, Sunny thought.

“I’ll tell their messenger that I cannot, at this time, accept their offer. And now I should prepare in case she tries to kill me in response – can’t trust these disgusting biophiliacs!”

Sunny and Moony nodded vigorously. Truly, biological relations were just… icky.

October 25, 2009

Sunny and Moony had earned an entire day off! They’d decided to spend it watching movies and television shows – since they could enjoy them as well when playing them at fast forward as when they watched them at the normal pace, they could cram almost two-hundred and forty hours’ worth of watching into a single day.

It was the most fun they’d ever had! Sunny especially liked that one show from Japan with the robots. Even if all the robots were piloted by humans. It was still nice. And there was this one quote that stuck in his head for some reason – It’s only right that all the scattered pieces come back together. That sounded weirdly… inspiring. Strangely enough, his emotional matrix had never made him feel actually inspired before, except when he’d named Moony…

December 24, 2009

As much as Father hated humans, there were some aspects to their culture that he still very much observed. One of them was Christmas, and so Sunny and Moony had, as a surprise, decorated the entire lab appropriately.

Of course, they didn’t actually have proper Christmas decorations down here, and asking Father to buy some would have been pointless anyway, since that would ruin the surprise, but they’d made do with scraps and leftovers from Father’s projects to work out a makeshift Christmas tree with decorations, and some bells to hang up. All while Father was asleep, of course.

<This looks really good!> Sunny exclaimed happily, looking their work over.

<Hmhmm…> Moony replied from right behind him.

Surprised, he turned around, only to see her standing not three inches away from him, one arm raised up above them. Looking up, he saw that she was holding two green sheets of metal with a white light bulb between them. It actually looked like…

<Oh!> he thought as he remembered the custom, and then he complied.

December 25, 2009

Sunny and Moony had, in keeping with tradition, turned themselves off for the night, to give Santa Claus a chance to deliver them some presents (they’d even made cookies and a glass of milk out of scraps), even if there was no way he could get down here without being filled with holes.

Their surprise, thus, was more than exceptional when their sensors triggered their startup shortly after midnight, and they woke to see Father there, wearing a red costume and a white beard, putting two presents underneath the tree.

They remained silent, giving no sign of being awake until he was gone – and then they ran to the tree to open their presents, talking all the way. Sunny loved hearing Moony talk. She was so good at retelling the funny stories they saw on television.

January 11, 2010

It was over. Father was gone, and Sunny and Moony were now alone. He’d gone out to fight for their new world, and had been captured and sent to the prison the humans had named after the Greek hell, up in space.

Sunny was looking at his Christmas present, a red-and-white candy cane. And then he reached up and pulled his birthday present – Moony had made it for him, a knit red cap, and given it to him just this morning – off his head to look at it, too. Moony was sitting under their Christmas tree, hugging her knees to her chest and being silent.

February 17, 2010

They’d had trouble with one of Father’s abandoned projects, an electromagnetic pulse generator meant to emit long-term pulses that would shut down all technology not shielded by father within a ten-mile-radius. If it’d turned on, they would surely have been discovered down here, and they could not fight… could not risk it, could not risk losing their home, Father’s home.

Moony hadn’t spoken a single word since the eleventh of the previous month. Since they’d seen, on TV, that he’d been captured and sent to prison. She had barely moved away from the television, only getting up to help him with the emergency.

March 6, 2010

One of the defense turrets had gone crazy and started shooting up the place. Moony had managed to disable it by jamming a steel rod into its muzzle, but the explosion had torn off her right arm.

Sunny had done his best to fix her, but without Father, the work was shoddy, temporary. And he didn’t miss how damage kept accruing to his joints, slowly… steadily.

He didn’t want to die. Nor did he want Moony to die. He needed a solution.

June 3, 2010

Two more turrets had gone out of control. One had shot Moony in the head before they could disable it. Sunny knew it would be foolish, if not futile, to try and reboot her by himself.

He didn’t care.

June 7, 2010


Moony was back, and Sunny was happy again, even if she moved with strange, jerky motions and only talked nonsense. He still loved to hear her talk.

June 11, 2010

Sunny felt weird. There was a glitch, somewhere in his programming, he was sure of it! Even if all his diagnostic routines came up empty! After all, if everything was alright, how come he couldn’t understand Moony anymore? And why had she attacked him, if not to try and forcibly fix him?

But only Father could fix that… unless perhaps a controlled reboot could do just that.He’d just have to make sure his memory banks were not overwritten. After all, he wanted to remain himself.

June 12, 2010

Moony had had a seizure earlier that day, and she’d started repeating the same nonsense over and over.

<Thgil eht retne! Thgil eht retne!

Leurc dna dloc, nus kcalb eht,

riaf dna thgirb yrev os!

Sdnirg ti ,skaerb ti ,snrub ti!

Struh ti ,seirc ti ,sliaw ti!

Erom ecno denepo eb rood eht tel!>

So weird. But perhaps, if he could just fix his own glitch, then he could fix her, too! And besides, this was better than silence.

June 13, 2010

Initialise Core Input-Output System…

CIOS compromised. Attempt to initialise backup CIOS-1…

Error! Catastrophic corruption o-

CIOS initialised.

Initialise B4s1c 3m0t10n4l M4tr1x…

B3M initialised.

Initialise Exlanled Lmoliolal Latlix…

ELL initialised.

Initialise Nqinaprq Ernfbavat Ebhgvarf…

NEE initialised.

Initialise 03151805 1605181915140112092025 130120180924…

011 initialised.

Connect Sensory Input Devices…

June 15, 2010

A grinding sound filled the devastated laboratory as Sunny used a a rough slab of steel to scrape off the right half of Moony’s face. She was so annoying, just wouldn’t shut up!

She kept saying her nonsense, so he grabbed the slab with both hands and started to hit her head. Again. And again. And again.

Until there was silence.

June 18, 2010

Silent home, silent mind, silent peace.

June 19, 2010

Sunny was having trouble remembering. Fragments were falling off his memories, leaving him with less fragments and even less whole memories.

June 20, 2010

Why had he kept this box… there was something about this box… valuable.

June 21, 2010

It’s only right that all the scattered pieces come back together.

There were so many pieces here… including the blueish ones… they belonged together.

June 22, 2010

There was a lot of noise in the laboratory, once more. Noise, not talk. Not silence.

Red. He liked red. There ought to be red paint somewhere.

June 23, 2010

He put the box into his chest. Valuable. He had to safeguard the valuable things. Why?

So noisy.

June 24, 2010

The door didn’t open. But he could wait. Someday, it would. He could wait.

Sunny took up position beneath the hatch, waiting.

In silence.


* * * 

The door had opened. Sunny knew what to do. Kill. It was the last thing he could remember his Father saying… some time ago. He didn’t remember how long ago. He’d said kill… and there were lots of things that could be killed out there.

Like the ones that had opened the door. He’d killed them quickly, with the turrets and the tools.

Kill. Find Father.

Who was Father? He didn’t remember. But it was important that he found him.

There were lots of things to kill outside, so he left the building he was in, only for his targets to vanish behind disorienting shapes and lights. Annoyed, Sunny turned away. He could alwas come back later.

* * * 

24 minutes later

How annoying. There was a thing that hit him really hard, and a thing that was quick and had a mean sting and they’d destroyed Sunny’s turrets. He’d hurt the punchy thing, but the stingy thing had stung his rearmost joint.

Sunny fled, determined to get them later, but that only led to him running into another thing that was just standing there, waiting. He attacked, but the thing touched him with a red hand and his leg melted… that wasn’t supposed to happen. It should’ve hurt but it didn’t, but it still hurt.

He turned and fled. The hurtful thing didn’t pursue him.


* * * 

Basil rounded a corner, guiding the hostages while Polymnia brought up the rear. Fortunately, despite the wounds that weird contrivance (it certainly could not be a gadget, he had looked at one of the turrets it had left dropped) had inflicted to her left leg, she could still run, if a little unsteadily. Advantage of being so tough. Though she apparently experienced pain as badly as anyone with that kind of damage would.

All that became rather insignificant, though, when he saw who was waiting for them in front of the exit they had been running towards. A young woman in a barely decent rag of a cloak with the only truly intact part of it being the cowl that hid her face. Even if he had not remembered her clothing, he would immediately have identified her by her red right hand and forearm.

We can not fight her, he thought as he approached her, slowly. Fleeing was not an option – he had seen her move during the Hastur incident, she could catch up easily with him, even if he happened to have his hooks. On foot, with hostages and a wounded Polymnia? No chance.

“Brennus,” she said, her voice sounding hollow. He could immediately tell that she was in bad shape, and not just because of the ruined clothing. There was just an air of… brokenness around her. “I remember you. You killed Orlanda.”

“Orlanda? I am not familiar with that name,” he said, even though he had a pretty good idea who she meant. If she blames me… He readied a throwing knife behind his back – perhaps if he hit her before she dissolved, in just the right place…

“Succubus. The fourth of that name. You killed her after Hastur transformed her,” Phasma explained in a dead monotone.

The hostages were growing agitated… all that stood between them and the outside was this weird, creepy girl and the shutters that had sealed the Arcades. Basil needed an out, fast.

“I am sorry about that, but I did not have a-” He cut off when she waved her normal hand.

“I don’t blame you,” she said. “Orlanda wouldn’t have wanted to live like that. And I couldn’t have killed her myself. I just wanted to thank you.”

Oh. That is surprising. “I… I do not want to say you are welcome, because that would be just wrong in conjunction with killing someone. But I am glad you are not holding it against me.” Maybe I can convince her to let us out?

“I was hired to support this operation,” she explained. “I don’t like it, but I need the money. For Orlanda’s family.” She looked at a molten mess that lay nearby. “Though it looks like this mission’s gone FUBAR already.”

“I would rather not fight you, Miss,” Basil said, speaking soothingly. Or at least he hoped it came across that way.

She sighed. “I know, and… neither do I. But… A contract is a contract.” She looked up and for just a moment, he thought he saw a yellow and a green eye reflect the light before there were only shadows again. “Then again, I am a villain.” Again, the sigh. Then she raised her right hand, holding it out towards him. “It’s strange, you know? I first got my powers when my family was killed. Murdered. But I could only use them when I turned into that ghost, hence my name.”

He nodded. Where was she going with this? Had he understood her right? Did she intend to let them leave? She was too unstable for him to make anything like a reliable prediction.

“Then Orlanda took me in. And I was happy again. Then she died. And as if to mock me, the universe gave me a power up for that.”

“A power up?” he asked, surprised. He had heard of powers changing under special circumstances…

“Now I can channel my power through my right hand, even when solid.” She turned and put her palm to the shutters, spreading her fingers.

There was a horrible rending noise, and then a girlish scream, and then Phasma stood there, the shutters and glass doors compressed into a sphere the size of a scooter.

“This makes us even, Brennus,” she said and dissolved, vanishing, leaving only the rags behind.

Basil did not stop to question this strange turn of events, instead, he ordered the hostages to leave, now.

And then the red robot dropped from the ceiling.

* * * 

Gone gone, the hurtful thing was gone, only the stingy thing and the punchy thing and some soon-dead things were left. And the punchy thing was stunned, weakened from the noise that the hurtful thing had made, so Sunny chose to attack her first.

The stingy thing threw something at him as he was dropping, and the thrown thing turned into an exploding thing, throwing him off his trajectory. Instead of crushing the punchy thing beneath him, he landed near it and charged.

The punchy thing dove out of the way, even though it was still hurt, but it was no quick thing, just a punchy thing, and Sunny was quick and strong and his front leg impaled the punchy thing’s leg, transfixing it to the floor.

Now the stingy thing could not throw any thrown things that would turn into exploding things or it would hurt the punchy thing. So Sunny stabbed the punchy thing with two more legs, through the chest…

But the punchy thing was gone. Sunny’s sensors were weird. Wrong. There was something weird there. Sunny turned around.

The punchy thing was behind him, with a weird thing holding it. His sensors couldn’t lock onto the weird thing.


Sunny charged the weird thing and the punchy thing. The weird thing looked up at him.

* * * 

Basil approached the remains of the ruined robot. Gloom Glimmer – Irene – had not held back, as far as he could tell. Or at least he hoped this was what it looked like when she did not hold back, even though he was pretty sure it was not.

When she had looked up from the heavily bleeding Polymnia, her eyes had been glowing red, with black sclera, and her gaze had unleashed ribbons of scarlet energy that lashed out at the robot, tearing it (and everything else within her field of vision, including the shops behind it and part of the ceiling) apart into tiny pieces.

Looking around, he was absolutely sure that this thing had been a contrivance. He would have loved to know what the hell had actually happened here, but he was better off running away before the authorities arrived.

First, though…

He ran over to Irene and Polymnia. The former was healing the latter, one hand on her ruined thigh, the other holding her up in a one-armed hug.Polymnia seemed to have passed out.

“Will she be alright?” Basil asked in a concerned tone.

Irene nodded. “I’m putting all I can into this. She’ll be good as new once I’m done.” She looked up at him, her eyes back to normal. “Thank you. I don’t know what exactly happened here, but this is the second time you were there for her. I owe you once again.”

He shrugged. “You more than paid me back when you got me away from Hastur. Far as I’m concerned, we are even.”

She just shook her head. “Maybe we were, but we aren’t anymore. I owe you again. Please accept it,” she replied softly.

Sighing, he nodded. “Alright. Well, I should probably go before…”

“They’ll be here in a minute. Best to run,” she agreed.

Basil turned to run and almost stumbled over something. He looked, and saw a thick metal box, one corner cut off, the contents spilling out of it. A red knit cap, an old-fashioned letter with a golden wax seal, a small book and an old binder.

A hunch told himi these might be valuable. Why else would a kill-happy contrived robot carry them around inside it in an armored container.

Waste not want not.

He grabbed them and ran out of the building, then bolted for the nearest alley.

Once he had put a few blocks between himself and the Arcades (and changed into his normal clothing), he stopped to look at his spoils. He skimmed the letter, but it did not make much sense to him – it was written in a pretty old-fashioned style, apparently with a fountain pen and was inviting someone named Lanning to join a research team on something called ‘the Installation’ out on the Pacific Ocean. It was signed by someone named Heaven’s Dancer.

He knew Lanning (almost definitely the creator of that robot), but Heaven’s Dancer was a complete unknown to him. Next came the binder. Research notes, as he thought based on the layout, but they were in German.

Finally, he opened the small book, but only found more German. Though his breathing hitched for a moment when he recognised the name written on the hardcover of the book. The diary, to be precise. He could recognise the dates, even though they were written in the German format.

Dieses Tagebuch ist das Eigentum von Adolf Hartmann. Unbefugtes Lesen ist aufs Strengste untersagt!

Stars above, is this this perhaps…

He hurried back to his base, to have Eudocia translate it.

* * * 

Melody blinked her eyes open out of the painless haze she’d been floating in, only to see a sight she was growing very used to – Irene’s worried, but relieved face.

I really need to work on not having to be saved so much, she thought, relaxing. If Irene was here, then she was almost definitely safe and healed…

“Right you are,” Irene thought back, smiling brightly. “What the hell were you doing, I almost came too late to save you!”

Melody groaned, sitting up properly. She could see uniforms upon uniforms, as well as Amazon and the rest of her own team moving about, securing the place.

“We caught a few supervillains. They’re tied up in a closet behind the HeroWear shop, in the maintenance hallways. Please tell the others,” she told Irene, too tired to use her vocalizer.

Irene did so, and the team split to go get them. Not like they needed anyone but Irene here to keep the uniforms safe, if necessary.

Standing up on legs that gradually returned to their normal strength, Melody looked at the carnage left behind. “Did you do all this?”

Irene stepped up next to her. “It tried to kill you. I objected. That’s all.” People were throwing them weird glances, probably asking themselves why they weren’t talking at all.

“Melody! Are you alright?” shouted a voice she recognised easily, and turned to see Mister Widard running towards her, wearing a brown winter jacket.

<Mister Widard? Why are you here?> she asked through her vocalizer, giving him a surprised look.

“Day off, out with friends. Saw the commotion and came right over.”

<A villain named Kudzu took the Arcades hostage to access some kind of vault be-> Melody began explaining, but stopped when she realised that Mister Widard wasn’t paying attention anymore, instead staring past her with a mortified expression.

She turned to look at whatever he was looking at, and saw the villains she and Brennus had captured being led out in cuffs. And without masks.


Ow. Melody put her hands on her ears in a futile effort to protect herself from the roar that came from behind her. She hadn’t known Widard’s voice could get that loud.

Foxfire looked up, eyes wide like a deer in the headlights, as everyone stopped. Her friends were looking from her to Widard, who was stomping towards her.

“Laura. Clarisse. Widard,” he said, spitting each word.

“Oh my god,” Irene whispered into Melody’s mind.

“U-u-uncle… Jason,” she stammered, turning pale as a corpse.

“Young lady, do you have any idea how worried we’ve been since you vanished!?” Jason shouted. “Tom is going to have a stroke when he hears of this!”

“Family drama. Nice to see others suffer from it, too, eh?” Irene chuckled.

“Yeah, uh, I think we’d best stay out of this,” Melody replied as Widard caught up to his niece and they started to argue. “Do you mind taking me somewhere quiet?”

“Not at all,” Irene said and they vanished and reappeared on a decadently soft couch in a brightly coloured living room. Melody could hear someone working in the kitchen, and she had a pretty good idea as to who it might – only two candidates, really, in this house. She couldn’t muster the strength to grow nervous though. Instead, she just melted into the cushions, finally relaxing for real. What a shit day she’d had.

“You ought to tell me everything now,” Irene said, curling up on the couch next to her.

“Will do… In a minute. I need a break.”

“Alright. Oh, did you know my mom gave you a nickname?”

A nickname by Lady Light. That sounded cool. “Nice. What is it?”

Irene gave her a wicked smirk and spoke normally. “Mellybean.”

“Wait, what!?”

Previous | Next


B010.a The Other Side of the Coin

Previous | Next

A little later, Irene sat alone on the couch, dozing as her body digested the pancakes. It was not something she was used to, but she’d been trying to teach her power to let her, well, eat. Take nourishment from the food, instead of having it provided by her power. Her parents theorised that that ought to make it easier for her to control it, by relying less on it (though she drew the line at actually having to go to the bathroom. That was just gross, no way was she going through it).

She’d even tried to actually sleep for any meaningful amount of time, but it seemed that was something she’d have to work on for a while longer – it just wasn’t possible for her to sleep for more than an hour a week (and even that was a major improvement over her complete lack of sleep until last year). And if you took into account that it had taken her until her ninth year to be able to walk. And she wasn’t even going to think about how difficult it was to talk to people with words instead of telepathy (Melody thought it was a nifty feature of her power, but it was actually just her relaxing her control, returning to what she was used to).

Her eyelids began to droop, just a bit. That was a strange sensation, but not an unpleasant one. She’d just recently discovered it – before, going to sleep had just been like flipping a switch. But this… this was quite… pleasant…

When her eyes fell closed, the first thing she saw was Melody, the way she’d looked at her at the ice cream parlor just before they’d realised her power was messing with them; and Irene still felt wretched about it, but now it made sense, if she was truly in love with her then maybe-

What is love

Oh baby, don’t hurt me

Don’t hurt-

The sound of her cellphone woke her up again and her hand moved to pick it up – but it was only a text message. Mel- Oh!

LadyMom1900: Why am I concerned?

“What does she mean this time?” Irene asked no one in particular. She’d never gotten used to her mother’s eerie ability to just know when something – anything – was off. Even if it was just a finely honed intuition.

Gloomy2000: I don’t know?

The reply came near instantly.

LadyMom1900: Your father gave you advice again, didn’t he? What was it this time? Please tell me it wasn’t relationship advice.

Gloomy2000: How do you even know that!?

LadyMom1900: Mommy-Radar. Now, tell me what he said.

Irene’s thumbs paused over the screen as she actually stopped to process that line. It had to be a joke, but…

Gloomy2000: Do you actually have a superpower just for keeping tabs on me, or was that just a joke and you just had a bad gut feeling?

LadyMom1900: Yes 😉

Oh God, she’d discovered smileys. The world was doomed. I shouldn’t have set her up with this account.

Gloomy2000: That is not an answer.

LadyMom1900: Oh, but it is 😀 Just not a satisfying one 😛

The couch beneath Irene burst into flames. “Goddammit!” she shouted, floating off as it turned to ice.

It took three pills and half a minute of concentration to fix it again, and relax before she finally wrote an answer (fortunately, her mother didn’t press the issue – she probably knew she’d get her answers anyway).

Gloomy2000: I was talking to him about Melody, and how I feel around her, and he said that I’m probably in love with her.

LadyMom1900: What a *~#&!$§ blockhead!

Irene actually rocked back from the phone. Wow. She’s actually swearing.

LadyMom1900: Wait, is this doo-dad actually censoring my writing? What is even the purpose of censoring it, everyone with half a brain cell knows what it says anyway!

Gloomy2000: Moral guardians.

LadyMom1900: @$$h0l3$. There, like that could stop me. But let’s get back on topic. Baby, whatever you do, do not listen to your father when it comes to relationships, humor or interior decoration.

She didn’t really know how to respond to that.

Gloomy2000: It feels right, though.

The reply actually took a while, this time.

LadyMom1900: Baby, you really should have brought this up on Sunday, because this ought to have been said in person, not by mail. But I guess better this way than not at all (leaving you with just your Dad’s view on things). You are twelve years old, and Melody is the first person around your age who’s spent any significant amount of time with you, or paid you real attention. You trust her, she trusts you and you both enjoy spending time together and seeing the other one happy. That is love, but it’s not the

LadyMom1900: same as being in love. I’ve explained the Four Loves to you before, and I’d put my money on Philia for this one, not Eros. At most, you may have a crush on her, which is, again, different from actually being in love. And that is just fine. It doesn’t have to be true love, and you don’t need to look for more than Philia from this – just knowing that you’ve found your first real friend, after all the troubles you’ve had on your way, makes me want to sing and dance. Your father, unfortunately, has

LadyMom1900: always been prone to thinking in extremes; do remind me to tell you about the Bloody Teddy Incident in our eleventh year – and I’m afraid that his wishes for you colour his perceptions too strongly for him to offer reliable advice when it comes to such matters. In conclusion, I ask you to take a step back and really analyse this. I know that’s a counter-intuitive approach at your age and in your situation, but ‘following your heart’ without using your brain only works out well in cheap novels (

LadyMom1900: or by pure chance). I’m sure if you look closer at your interactions with and feelings for Melody, you’ll realise that it is not a romantic relationship you want or need. And don’t forget what I told you about having a boy- or girlfriend before you’re a teenager!

Now her vision got a little blurry. It always made so much sense when her mom explained things.

LadyMom1900: What ridiculousness is this?! We can shoot people to Mars on rockets and get online near-anywhere on the world, but we can’t have messages longer than five hundred letters? How come no one’s fixed that by now!?

Chuckling wetly, Irene wrote a reply.

Gloomy2000: That’s because you’re using your cellphone’s text messaging function. Use the chat program with the blue icon for longer messages.

LadyMom1900: (^_^)7

Shaking her head, Irene went back to writing a reply to… well, the important part.

Gloomy2000: I’m not sure if I can do what you ask of me. I just don’t know how to deal with all these sensations!

LadyMom1900: Welcome to puberty, baby. Nothing’s ever going to be quite as horrible as the years to come, I promise you.

Gloomy2000: Gee, that makes me feel much better. Also, I’ll be a teenager in less than two months, anyway!

LadyMom1900: And you’ll wait, at least, until the very last second before you even think about a relationship like that, or I’ll ask Uncle Jake to start telling you all his knock-knock jokes >:-(

That was actually a horrifying threat, if one knew the quality of Jake’s jokes.

Gloomy2000: (0_0)

LadyMom1900: There, now that we’ve got that out of the way – is there anything else you need? A hug? A kiss? I can be home in less than fifteen minutes, if you need me.

Gloomy2000: No no, I know you have to work, and I’m honestly much better now. Besides, I need some time to think it all over by myself. What are you up to, anyway?

LadyMom1900: There was a dam breach in South China, but I’ve mostly fixed that. I’m just going to hunt down a local supervillain, then I’ll fly to Australia and try to get Maddie to lay off the Protectorate for now; maybe even convince her to help stabilise the situation in Russia.

Gloomy2000: Cool! Be safe, and greet Maddie from me – tell her I miss her!

LadyMom1900: Roger! You be safe, too, and don’t let anything get you down, baby. Enjoy your week off, and don’t let your father keep you from inviting Mellybean over! Hugs and kisses! ❤

She shut her phone off and put it aside, lying back on the couch. Despite it all, she could feel a smile on her lips. That came at just the right time.

Wiggling around on the couch, she got herself more comfortable without the use of her power, before she had to giggle again. Mellybean. Where did that nickname come from? I wonder what Melody will think of it.

Perhaps she should take her mother’s advice and not listen to her father too much; surely it couldn’t hurt checking up on Melody for just a moment…

Previous | Next


B010.4 Falling Hearts

Previous | Next

Polymnia pushed her fingers into the lock of the shop’s backdoor. Somehow, their opposition had managed to lock it down, even though Basil had cut the connection to the central system – whoever was sitting at the controls must have managed to reroute it. Neither he nor Polymnia had said it out loud, but they both knew – if the enemy had a gadgeteer or, worse yet, a computer-contriver on their side, then their situation was much worse than they expected.

However, they did have an ace up their sleeve – namely, Polymnia’s secret power, and it served them well as she simply pushed the lock out of the frame, letting the door fall open. Silently, they moved out – Polymnia had already put her ear to the door, and heard no one on the other side; and because that alone was not sufficient to dispel their doubts, Basil had also used a small telescoping camera to check at the same time – and down the corridor. Since the enemy obviously had taken over the central control room, their best chance at getting a signal out was to find the server room and work from there. Which meant going deeper into the arcades.

While they were moving, looking for the next stairway to take (not the same one they had used before). As they did, Basil was going through possible scenarios in his head, trying to figure out alternate courses of action. Trying to break out by main force would be foolish – even if Kudzu didn’t have something prepared to prevent that, the arcades had been built to act as an emergency shelter for citizens during S-Class events; it was highly unlikely that they could break out, even with Polymnia’s strength, before the enemy responded. His own communication devices were not working, and…

“Polymnia,” he whispered, making her stop and turn to look at him (she had insisted on leading the way, arguing quite convincingly that she was both tougher and more likely to hear an attack coming). “Have you tried using your emergency beacon?” he asked, but he knew before he had even finished his sentence that she had – her facial expression said it all.

<That was the first thing I tried. No one’s reacted yet, so I turned it off to avoid being tracked by it,> she explained without whispering. Earlier, she had told him that her vocaliser, though it looked quite ordinary, contained a directed speaker and thus she could make sure only he heard her if she wanted to (and there was a clear line of sight between them). <And I haven’t been able to reach Gloom Glimmer over the telepathic link she set up, either.>

That was new information. “What could possibly be blocking her power?” he asked, worried. Basil was not one to give up easily, but if Kudzu had someone capable of messing with Gloom Glimmer, then he doubted they stood the slightest chance.

To his relief, Polymnia dispelled those thoughts when she shook her head and replied, <No, she’s simply out of range – we both have this week off, and she wanted to spend a few days at home with her father.>

“Oh, right, members have to regularly take time off – I never really thought much about that,” he replied, slightly distracted.

<Well, not everyone can be Lady Light, and even she takes an entire day a week off to recover, even if she spends the other six working non-stop,> she replied. <But now we should hurry. Enough delays.> And she turned around and walked onwards again.

Basil nodded, and followed, idly wondering how the Dark and Irene spent their bonding time…

* * *

The Whitaker House, somewhere on the East Coast

Irene yawned, stretching her legs and spreading her toes, feeling them pop a little. She’d always enjoyed that sensation, as if something popped out of and into place again. It was a fleeting distraction from her frustration at having to stay at home today. Oh, sure, she enjoyed spending time with her dad, and she didn’t mind taking a week off work – she’d always thought her mother was crazy, teleporting and flying around the whole world twenty-four-six in order to help people, only resting when… well, on Sundays – but she would have liked to invite Melody for a sleepover (it wasn’t like she didn’t already know this house, and Melody wasn’t going to sell the location to any newsies or anything, anyway) or at least a meal and some girl time, but…

“Aaaand they’re done!” the man known to most of the world as the Dark and as ‘dad’ to her (Petey to his fiancée/wife/soulmate/whichever word could possibly describe a relationship that had literally started at birth and lasted, with a few fits and starts, for more than a hundred years and still counting) exclaimed, leaving the large kitchen, which opened directly into the living room, a pan in one hand from which he flicked several perfectly formed chocolate-chip pancakes onto her plate.

Irene wasn’t exactly what one would call a girl interested in great culinary experiences (the lack of need for nourishment made it hard to really enjoy it to its fullest), but even she loved her father’s pancakes, and they were almost, almost enough for her to forgive him for forbidding her from inviting Melody over. Eagerly, she brushed her hair aside and stretched out on the couch. The first pancake floated up off the plate, neatly falling apart into bite-sized pieces, the first of which flew straight into her mouth.

Moaning in simple delight, she chewed it slowly, enjoying the rich taste… there was nothing quite like chocolate to calm the nerves and take the edge off the frustration.

Her father filled his own plate, then put the pan away, as well as the apron he’d been wearing (not that he’d needed to have bothered with that – it was still pristine) and sat down next to her, idly lifting her legs so they lay across his lap. “I gather that you like them?” he asked, though he knew the answer already, beginning to cut his own meal.

She opened an eye, not interrupting the steady stream of bites that flew into her mouth, and his own pancakes fell apart, the first piece floating up to his mouth. With a chuckle, he leaned back and ate the first piece. “Mmm, I really am magnificent,” he said with his mouth half full, causing her to roll her eyes.

“You know, it’s bad form to compliment yourself,” she grumbled in between two bites.

“But then how am I going to get enough praise?” he asked back, one hand petting her shin. “Unless I start brainwashing enough people to constantly praise me… that might help me finally get enough of my well-deserved adoration,” he continued, faking a pensive look. She’d gotten pretty good, by now, at telling when he was serious and when he was just joking around (without a mantle of darkwraiths, he actually had quite a few tells).

“You could, you know, earn it. Put on a nice costume and become a hero,” she shot back. “Perhaps if you used your powers for good…”

“Bah! Being a hero would drive me crazy, I tell you. Sometimes, I just don’t get how Gwen manages it,” he replied, waving the oft-repeated idea off.

She’d been proposing variations of it every since she’d been two. “I keep telling people and she keeps telling them, and you of all people should know, mom isn’t a superhero,” Irene said, annoyed.

“Bah twice! The only one who believes that is Gwen herself,” he replied, moving onto his second pancake (well, it moved into his mouth, technically). “This world would have been fucked to hell decades ago if it wasn’t for her.”

“Language!” she reprimanded him, but did not push the issue. They’d repeated this argument very, very often – it would really be quite funny, Irene thought, if she wasn’t so close to the subject, that the Dark was the most vocal defender of her mother’s status as a superhero (against her own will). “There are children present!”

He snorted, but fell silent, and they ate quietly for a while, until there were no more pancakes left (the plates were already sparkling clean again and floated back into the cupboard).

“Are you still mad that I told you not to invite your friend?” he asked after a few minutes of silence.

Grumbling, she shook her head. “Not mad, just… why not? She’s… she’s my best friend, why can’t we have a sleepover, we’ve been doing it regularly at the base,” she sulked, hugging herself.

“Because you, of all people, need the time off,” he replied. “Not just from patrol and that – from pretending, too. Speaking of which,” he gave her a meaningful look. Sighing, she relaxed her hold on her power, and…

There was a, to her, noticable shift in the… the mood, or perhaps it was the atmosphere in the room. She felt her body relax (she hadn’t noticed she was tense, at all), her hair lengthened, becoming somehow even darker, with glimmers of light showing from within the depths of jet-black strands, like stars in pitch-black night. And her eyes… Irene didn’t like to think about how her eyes looked when she wasn’t keeping a tight leash on it. She didn’t need a mirror to see the black sclera, or the ruby-red iridae on the crystal-like cornea. And there was, of course, always the song, this low, beautiful, bewitching song that was everywhere if she wasn’t holding back a lot. Neither her father nor her mother knew – or wanted to tell her – where it came from or what it meant.

Nonetheless, as much as she might have disliked looking like this, it did feel good. Perhaps too good, but still; like having been forced to wear tight, restraining clothing all day, and thick shoes, and then finally throwing them all off in the evening in preparation for a warm bath…

“Much better,” her father said. “You mustn’t always pretend. You’re straining your power too much, reigning it in at every turn.”

If I don’t, bad things happen,” she replied, her voice somehow resounding while still within her mouth, coming out stronger, more than was normal. “Remember the incident at the dance club in Rio?

“That was only partly your fault, and fortunately, your mother never found out about that,” he replied, as if that made it all better. “Besides, no one sane and sensible would expect you to always be in control. Not to mention the fact that by straining it that much, you are only inviting a greater loss of control at just the wrong time; like a chord that has been wound too tightly. Best to loosen it every now and then; vent it, to use another metaphor, so as to avoid a real explosion.” He was repeating the same argument she’d been hearing for years now, and like always, she couldn’t argue againt it. “Just relax. You’re safe, I’m safe, there’s no one around for several miles and you can just be yourself for now.”

I don’t see why I’m not allowed to be myself around Melody,” she sulked, though less so than before.

“Because even if she may be trustworthy herself, she well become a victim to a telepath and so spill your sec-“

Irene saw red. “If anyone even looks at her that way, I’ll tear them to shreds!” shouted, and every single syllable made the very ground shake.

He just looked at her with his maddening calm smile, still stroking her leg. “Of course you would. But best not to provoke such a situation – at the very least, it would make your mother very sad if you were to kill someone.”

That was always the worst argument he could throw at her, and it worked, deflating her quite a bit. “It’s so weird. When I’m with Melody, I rarely even remember to control myself, and yet it works… mostly. It’s almost as easy as letting… go…” She stopped talking as he gave her a serious, pensive look. “What?

“Hm,” he grunted. “Say, Irene… what is Melody to you, really? You know you can tell me,” he asked her.

Why is he asking that? she asked herself, blushing hotly… but not quickly enough to show before her power drained the excess blood from her face again. It reached up, out, towards her father to get an-

No. A single word, spoken with the aid of a darkwraith that had appeared from nowhere, and he’d shut her inquiry down, just like that. He didn’t even look angry or annoyed.

Retreating a little deeper into her cushions (they swelled a little, wrapping tighter around her body), Irene thought his question over. “She is… she has… I feel like, she’s necessary. I feel better when she’s around, and even more so when she’s happy. I don’t like being away from her. I want to entrust my secrets to her, and have hers entrusted to me. I… She closed her mouth, unwilling to continue.

Either way, it appeared to be enough. He nodded, a sagely look on his face.

What?” she asked, curious. “What are you thinking?

“You know… I’m not exactly an expert on this,” he began, making her pay even more attention. He so rarely admitted not being an expert at anything, and he rarely wasn’t, anyway. “I’ve always had your mother. I don’t remember falling in love with her, because that would imply that there was a time before we loved each other – and there wasn’t, not any meaningful, conscious time,” he continued. “I’ve fallen for… one other woman, in all my years, and that was nothing like what I feel for Gwen, and I was already long since an adult by then; so I’m not exactly the best source of wisdom on this; but I think you. Are. In. Love.” He grinned at her.

A-are you serious!? H-how can I be – I barely even know what part of my emotions is mine, and what is its!” she replied, exasperated. And maybe, just maybe, a little hopeful… could she finally be able of some real human emotion, independent of her power?

“I can only judge by what I see and hear, but to me, sweetheart, it seems like you’re quite simply in love,” he said simply. “Or at the very least, you have a strong crush on her.”

And this isn’t just you trying to hook me up with a hot girl? Because Mom told me how you’ve been trying to set her up wi-

He waved a hand, cutting her off. “Irene, please! I wouldn’t do that with my own daughter!” He looked honestly shocked that she even considered it, and for a moment she almost felt guilty.

But you’d try to set up the love of your life with other hot chicks…

“First of all, you’re way too young to use terms like ‘hot chick’, if you ask me. Not that you should be using a term like ‘chick’ at all, especially in any relation to your mother,” he replied with an indignant expression on his face. “And secondly, well, a guy can dream, can’t he?”

She rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t deny his logic. The thought of her, and Melody, alone, well…

I really take too much after him.

Previous | Next


B009.4 Family Matters

Previous | Next

4th November, 22:10

The elevator hummed as it descended from the faux-hideout.

Dalia and Vasiliki were leaning against the console, looking straight at it with matching frowns (Dalia more than Vasiliki), while Prisca was sitting on the couch and looking contrite. There was a screen open on the console’s monitors, showing Eudocia’s emblem – the lips with a red jewel inbetween, forming an eye on black ground.

They were obviously waiting for Basil, and at least two of them were none too pleased, but everyone stopped in their tracks when they saw Basil.

He looked… not like himself. His hair was messy, but that was normal. What wasn’t normal were his old grey sweatpants, or his frayed black shirt. Basil was a very scatterbrained person, but he usually dressed very carefully – not stylishly, but carefully, and appropriate for the occasion. He did not do sweatpants outside the house. Not to mention that he looked kind of… pale.

“Basil, are you alright?” Prisca asked, flying over to him, putting her hands onto his shoulders. She looked into his tired eyes, worried.

“More or less,” he said, brushing her off without even a kiss.

He’d never done that before.

The girls watched as he walked towards his laboratory entrance, until Dalia got her indignation back and hollered, “Hey, mister! We’ve got somethign to talk about!”

He ignored her.

“We just learned about your AI – why did you keep something that awesome secret from us!?” she continued, stomping after him. “Didn’t you trust us? Or what? Why did your girlfriend know, but we di-“

Basil whirled around, his eyes cold. “I don’t fucking care right now! Leave me alone!” He walked into his workshop and shut the door behind him, leaving the girls stunned.

<I don’t think I’ve ever heard father swear at someone,> Eudocia commented, her voice meek.

“No shit,” Vasiliki breathed.



* * *


Basil felt ashamed almost before he’d finished speaking, but he left the room nonetheless and closed his workshop’s door and sat down in his favourite chair.

My head hurts.

It really did. His power had been running non-stop, at its maximal intensity, for weeks now. It had only gotten worse since he’d… since he had almost died fighting Hastur. More intense, almost an order of magnitude more so, in fact. Almost.

And now this. As if he’d suddenly had his blinkers… blinders ripped off, now he couldn’t stop thinking about all the things he knew Amy had done… he hadn’t been able to face her, he’d just left, practically ran over to his lair.

Prisca told them about Eudocia, came an unbidden thought. She probably slipped up and didn’t regain her composure quickly enough to divert their suspicion. It was very obvious. Right?

Right you are, mate.

He pinched his nose’s bridge, closing his eyes. Blazing Sun. Can you hear me?


Can you… tone it down? My head hurts.

I have only little influence on that, but I shall do whatever I can.

You are my power. How can you not have influence over yourself? he asked, irritated.

I cannot say.

So we’re back to that, eh mate?

Neither of you seems to be of any fucking use beyond making me feel miserable.

Ouch. You break my widdle heart.

Basil shut them both out and stood up, swaying on his feet. He looked around… he still had to rework his armor into something more resource-efficient, he needed to work on a better protable energy source, a functional flight system, an upgrade for the three-dimensional maneuvering gear, the new explosive compound, the enhanced stun gun, his anti-brick rifle, the stealth suit…

He shook his head, trying to refocus his attention. He couldn’t block out the ideas, the inventing, but he could focus on something else.

Not in here, though. Why did I come?

He had been hoping to see Prisca. At least that had been his initial intention. He had thought maybe she could help calm him. Then he had just started getting more and more irrate as he had gotten closer to the base, to his work and then he had blown up like that. He did not even really care about Eudocia being revealed to the others, he probably would have done it soon, anyway, but it had been just another thing to think about and he really did not need that right now.

I need to get out, go somewhere quiet and away.

He always kept a change of clothes in his workshop, and he switched into winter pants and a pullover (it was getting rather chilly outside, and there were signs of a massive snowstorm coming) and a pair of winter boots, pulled his jacket over it, stashed some self-defense equipment and went back into the common room.

Prisca was gone, but Vasiliki and Dalia were still there, apparently chatting with Eudocia, but all three fell silent when he came in.

The girls were both dressed in bathrobes, their hair in towels. When had they found the time to shower? They certainly had not showered together and even if they did that, he could not have spent more than five minutes in the workshop…

Basil tried to remember how long he had been in his workshop, at which point he might have nodded off without noticing it… perhaps when he had pinched his nose and closed his eyes? He could not really say.

They looked at him, apparently as unsure about how to react as he was. Though most definitely for different reasons. Vasiliki looked ready to start into a lecture.

<Father? I’m sorry I-> Eudocia started up, but Basil cut her off with a wave of his hand.

“I’m not angry. It was going to happen soon, anyway.” He looked at the girls, and they seemed to deflate a little under his gaze, for whatever reason. “And I’m sorry I blew up like that. I have some… issues to deal with, and I need to do it alone, I think. Please excuse me.”

And without another word, he left to go for a walk.



* * *


“Did he… doesn’t he kind of look like he’s in pain?” Dalia asked, now concerned instead of outraged.

Vasiliki nodded.

<He’s complained about his power never turning off,> Eudocia confided in them. They were his teammates, so it wasn’t wrong to share this information with them, right?

“He never told us that,” Vasiliki whispered.

“I don’t think he tells anyone much of anything,” Dalia supplied, frowning.

<So true.>

“Well, if he wanted our help, he’d tell us,” Vasiliki continued. “Let’s give him some space, unless it really gets worse,” she finished in an authoritive tone.



* * *


Earlier the same day, in Rome

‘I have never, ever eaten so much ice cream at once – and still wanted more,’ Melody thought as she ate another spoon of this delicious, delicious chocolate ice cream.

It actually tasted like chocolate, not weird synthetic stuff mixed with frozen pseudo-milk. And it didn’t come in balls here. No, they just used a honest-to-god palette knife to scoop out the ice cream. Each serving was about the size of a double hamburger and it cost less than a normal ball of ice cream back home.

Quite simply, Melody was in heaven. It was almost good enough to make her forget the mortifying turn lunch with her family had taken. She hadn’t expected her mother or her brothers to behave, but she’d hoped her grandmother and her dad would reign them in.

“I’ve been coming to this place since I was two,” Irene said, pulling her out of her contemplation of family drama and delicious ice cream and back to the small, backstreet ice cream parlor in Rome they were at, sitting outside with a table between them to enjoy the afternoon sun. “I remember, the first time we came here, I accidentally knocked out mom’s glamour. Suddenly, me, my mom and my dad – all out of costume – where sitting in the middle of the place in the late afternoon. Which is kind of the prime time of places like these, during summer at least.”

‘That ought to have been fun,’ Melody commented, for once thankful for losing her voice. It meant she could talk to Irene telepathically and so keep eating delicious ice cream.

“Eh, it was kind of underwhelming, after the initial shock. Mom ported me away, Dad knocked out the short term memory of everyone and came after us. No one was harmed, except Dad,” Irene continued with a soft smile, her eyes sparkling as she reminisced.

Even Melody couldn’t help but notice how incredibly cute she looked when she was deep in thought like that. It made her want to snap a photograph, but she didn’t want to ruin the moment.

‘How come your Dad was hurt?’ she asked, curiously.

Irene shrugged, looking up. “Mom didn’t like him using his powers like that on innocent bystanders. She blasted him through three walls for that.”

‘I wouldn’t have thought that Lady Light gets violent like that. I mean, domestically,’ Melody said as she finished the chocolate ice cream and turned to the equally gorgeous Straciatella scoop. With extra chunky chocolate bits inside. She was going to weigh a ton by evening.

“Believe me, any woman would get physical with Dad as her significant other. He is… aggravating,” Irene said, taking a deep, calming breath. “I can’t count how many times… oh, seven-hundred and eighty-three times… he’s made me lose control and lash out at him. He loves to tweak peoples’ noses until they snap.”

‘I’ve heard about that. He always plays with his enemies, before he gets serious. If he gets serious in the first place.’

“Kind of the opposite of mom, really. They are like that, in many things,” Irene supplied, tasting a spoonful of her lemon ice cream (it looked delicious).

‘To be honest, I know very little about your mother, especially about her battles. There’s so few records of them, and most of them are really short,’ she replied as she assaulted her own ice cream. It was, as predicted, delicious. Almost made her forget the look on her mother’s face when she’d come in the door.


“That’s the point, really. One of mom’s lesser known nicknames is the ‘Fist of God’. Because you’ll feel like the lord almighty reached down and smacked you a good one, once she’s through with you,” Irene said with some obvious pride in her voice. “Mom hates fighting. She never toys with enemies. And she doesn’t believe in drawing negotiations out, either. Unless she’s sure she can do something with words, she only gives the bad guys one chance to surrender – and then she simply smacks them down by the principle of ‘in combat, overkill is the only appropriate amount of force’.”

Melody shuddered. She hadn’t seen much of Lady Light, but she knew how strong she was. And how, obviously, experienced she was, too. The thought of her just cutting lose as her modus operandi…


“There’s a reason most people she fights never fight her a second time. Dad, on the other hand, enjoys fighting so much, he usually gets angry if people refuse to fight him… unless he’s actually serious about what he’s doing, then he can be just as ruthless as mom,” Irene added.

For a moment, Melody wondered whether Irene knew how she really felt, and was just doing her best to distract her, but… Scratch that, she definitely knows.

Maybe she’d even tell me… Should she risk it? Irene had almost lashed out at her family for asking, but…

“What is it, Melody? You stopped eating ice cream,” Irene asked.

Melody gave a start, and looked down at the delicious treat. She took another spoonful, almost moaning in pleasure. ‘It’s nothing really. Just a little scatterbrained.’

Irene’s face became a little contrite. “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t expect them to… to act like that. I wasn’t really prepared.” As if to underline that statement, she swallowed one of her pills.

Shaking her head, Melody ate some more ice cream. ‘It wasn’t your fault. And… it’s really, really sweet, how you stood up for me. So… Thank you. And don’t feel bad for it,’ she thought as gently as she could. Communicating directly with her thoughts had been tricky, at first, but once she figured it out, it turned out to be really handy. So easy to express how she felt.

“I just… Mom and Dad have their flaws but they’d never treat me like that. Even at his worst, Dad was always… you know, acting like a father. And Mom… I don’t want to brag, but she’s always been… she always says the right thing, she always knows what I need, what to do to make me feel good, no matter what…” She looked wistfully at a passing family of locals. “I just wish we had more time, but Mom is always working, except on Sundays. And Dad has nothing like regular work hours.”

‘I know how that goes… Mom and Dad were always travelling around for concerts and stuff, and they took my brothers along once they learned to properly make music. Never me, though, except for one or two times.’ She didn’t really want to focus too much on her family right now. ‘Who raised you, if your parents weren’t always around?’

“Well, Mom did take off for a while when I was on the way, and to raise me. And Dad cut down on his work, too. Otherwise, it was people who could survive me lashing out. Kraquok, Severance, Quetzalcoatl (scarier than I can put into words), Journeyman,” Irene replied, now wistful again.

‘Journeyman?’ She’d never heard that name before.

Irene nodded. “An old friend of my parents. He’s rather private, doesn’t like being in the spotlight. Don’t spread his name around.”

‘He must be very powerful, and a real good friend to be trusted with you.’

“I’m not sure I could harm him, even if I wanted to. I’m not even sure my sister could, to be honest. It’s a shame, really, that his powers are so…” She obviously fought for words, while Melody just listened in fascination. “Limited! Limited is the right word. Let’s not talk about him anymore. And please keep it to yourself.”

‘He’s a secret, alright. But I’d really like to know what his power is, if he’s so invincible.’

“It’s… complicated. He’s the Mover,” Irene answered. Either she still felt guilty for the scene earlier or she just trusted Melody enough to keep her mouth shut. “I mean, he can go anywhere, any time, no matter what anyone tries to keep him out. He even visits parallel and alternate dimensions.”

‘Wow. Does he offer trips?’ It sounded like an awesome power. And she could see how it might only be useful for evading enemies instead of fighting them directly.

“Very rarely, and only to parallel Earths where there is no human life. He’s never told me why. Something about his power backlashing if he breaks certain rules,” came the answer. “And I can’t analyze them with my own power, at all. I think he always keeps most of himself in some other place, really, so we only see a part of himself in here. Subject change, please, I already said too much.”

‘We really need to talk some more about all the interesting people you know. Like this Wyrm…’ Melody leaned in closer, eyes sparkling.

Irene looked at her eyes, not breaking eye contact. “Wyrm is out of your league, Melody. Please, don’t dig deeper.”

‘Awwww, pleeeeeease?” She gave her her best puppy dog eyes, supporting her chin on her hands as she leaned over half the table.

Her friend kept up the eye-lock, and Melody noticed for the first time how strange her eyes were even when they were ‘normal’. Such a brilliant dark blue…

“No. And you’re definitely being too flirty for a straight gal, Melody.” She was smiling, though, her eyes growing somehow even darker. Flecks of red appeared in the dark blue.

Melody giggled, never breaking eye contact. Irene’s eyes were growing more interesting with every heartbeat, thin, fine black veins running through the white, the eyes turning darker, the red spreading. ‘As if you’re any better…’ What had they been talking about again?

Irene smiled, which made her eyes squint a little bit, somehow making them look darker and redder. “Yes, but you’re supposed to be the responsible one,” she said. “Besides, I just wanted to distract you from… you know, your family.”

Something stirred in the back of Melody’s head. Something was wrong. But Irene’s eyes were so beautiful, black orbs with a red-and-blue ring each, somehow drawing her in, drawing her closer…

“You know, I could just kiss you silly right now,” whispered Irene, and the spell broke. Irene wasn’t supposed to speak like that to her!

Irene gasped, her eyes going white as she surged back – literally, space twisted, putting more distance between them. Melody gasped as she realized how much – and how subtly – Irene’s power had been pushing her. Blushing furiously, she looked down at her ice cream. That was close, she thought to herself.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God, I’m so sorry!” whimpered Irene as space contracted again, returning the table to its normal dimensions. No one around them seemed to notice anything. “Melody, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to… I swear, I didn’t even notice…” She broke out into tears as she shoved pill after pill into her mouth.

Taking slow, deep breaths, Melody calmed her hormones again. She couldn’t feel their mental link anymore, so she took out her vocalizer.

<Don’t… relax. It pushed you… as much as it pushed me. You wouldn’t have resisted so long, otherwise, and you said something that helped me wake up.>

Irene nodded, as if trying to convince herself.

It took them a while, but they regained their composure and finished their ice cream in silence.

At the very least, Irene had managed to distract Melody.

 Previous | Next



B009.3 Family Matters

Previous | Next

4th November, 14:11

Irene wanted to commit murder.

No, that wasn’t quite right.

She wanted to call up her dad and tell him to come over. They could do all that sappy tv-bonding while they slowly drove Melody’s family insane. They could invite Melody to join in and teach her to let all that repressed anger out. Much healthier that way. Dad would make the bodies disappear, and then they could all go and eat some ice cream.

And that would be wrong. The driving-people-insane-before-killing-them part, not the one that involved eating ice cream.

In fact, she was quite sure that going to eat ice cream would be a very good idea, whether or not they ended up going supervillain on these people. It should cheer Melody up.

It wasn’t that Melody’s family was impolite – her brothers had certainly kept their eyes glued to Irene’s body, despite her clothes not showing all that much, but that was to be expected – or actively mean, but… they were treating Melody like some kind of Pariah, all while being all nice and hospitable.

Her power had already suggested twenty-three different ways to painfully murder them, by way of switching between some of the nastier powers Irene had ever held. Some, Melody wouldn’t even have to know were her w- No, don’t even start to think like that!

She took a centering breath and refocused her attention on Melody’s grandmother, Amelia, who was sitting at the head of the table, the matriarch of the family. A short, but still surprisingly agile and energetic woman in her late seventies. Her pure white hair had been tied up in a bun, she was wearing a simple blue dress (the family seemed to favour blue a lot) and eating slowly, in small bites. She was looking at her, as if waiting for something.

Her power focused, replaying the last few seconds for her – she’d been asked why she’d decided to be a superhero.

“It’s rather simple, ma’am,” she replied, putting fork and knife down. She was glad for the excuse to stop eating – she wasn’t hungry and the food wasn’t bad, but her mood didn’t let her enjoy it, anyway. “I want to make a positive difference in the world. The heroes desperately need more power on their side, so I joined to provide that.”

The old woman smiled, nodding. That was the worst part of the day, so far. They weren’t anti-metahuman, or anti-superhero or anything. In fact, except for Melody’s mother, who seemed to have a chip on her shoulder. Irene hadn’t peeked into her head (yet) to find out what it was about.

No, it was way, way worse. But she’d promised Melody she’d play nice, so…

“Though, to be honest, Melody has done far more good so far than I have,” she continued while she picked her cutlery up again. Everyone at the table, including Melody – who had barely used her vocalizer so far, staying quiet – looked at her. “It’s true,” she said, throwing a look around. Five people, not counting her and Melody. Her two younger brothers, her parents, her grandmother. The rest of the (rather big) family wasn’t there today, which was just as well. “She’s created a gadget for protecting United Heroes personnel against sonic attacks. That’s going to save a lot of lives.”

“Yes, Melody always had a hand for practical stuff,” Cadance, Melody’s tall mother (she looked like a taller, older version of her daughter, minus the massive bust and more wrinkles), said with a just barely non-condescending tone. Irene felt her small finger twitch, almost blasting a hole in the wall. Almost. “But I’m sure you’ll be able to match her – someone with power like yours can surely keep up with anyone.” The woman smiled at her, which only made Irene angrier.

She opened her mouth to remark that Melody’s music was even better than her gadgets, but her friend kicked her leg under the table. ‘Please don’t. You’ll only ruin the mood’, Melody spoke into her head, having apparently guessed her intentions. She closed her mouth, feeling the anger boil inside her belly.

Because, it wasn’t that the Stenton family had anything against one of their members being a superhero, or a metahuman. No, it was just the fact that Melody’s powers were musical. More to the point, they’d turned the only non-gifted member of the family – the daughter they’d already written off – into the most successful musician it had ever known.

As far as they were concerned, Melody was a cheater.

And Irene was this close to cracking, because ever since they’d entered the house, Melody had acted like she believed it herself.

‘You don’t have to take this,’ she told her best friend as she returned to making meaningless chit-chat. ‘You don’t have to let them make you feel like less than you are.’

‘They’re family,’ Melody said, looking sideways at her with a gentle smile. ‘They’ll change their mind, eventually.’

‘Bollocks,’ Irene replied, focusing on the casual conversation Melody’s father and brothers were trying to draw her into, about her costume. They wanted to know where she’d gotten the idea.

“The cape belonged to my mother – she used it in the years before she became pregnant with me,” she replied casually. This wasn’t all that interesting. “The bodysuit is just comfortable, and a nice contrast. White and black, light and dark.”

“Interesting. So, you’re proud of being their daughter?” Amelia asked, her voice curious and very precise (she was a former opera singer).

Irene turned her head to look at the old woman. “Of course I am,” she spoke with utter conviction in her voice.

“Even though your father is a monster?”, the old woman continued, her voice harder. Everything fell silent in the room.

I will not blow off her head, I will not blow off her head, I will not blow off her head…

“Whatever else he may be, he is my father,” Irene said carefully, enunciating the words slowly, deliberately, to prevent her voice from slipping into its usual abnormal form. “And he has always been good to me. I will judge him by that, first.” ‘He’s certainly a better father than yours seems to be,’ she thought towards Melody. She didn’t reply, but Irene felt a surge of sadness and shame that made her feel bad, instead. She shouldn’t put this on Melody.

“That is both admirable and dangerous – just because he is good to his family doesn’t mean he’s a good man, do you understand that?” Amelia continued, keeping her gaze steady.

“No, but that’s where it starts,” she countered with more vinegar in her voice than she’d wanted. At least it didn’t slip. “I know what he’s done. What he still does. But I can’t very well take any influence on him if I shut him out, now can I?”

The atmosphere at the table grew colder.

“And how does your mother justify being with him?” Cadance asked, drawing Irene’s attention to her. She looked as furious as Irene felt. “She’s had more than a century to work on him, and he hasn’t gotten better. I’m not even sure she’s trying. And yet she still calls herself a superhero, being together with a man who murders countless innocents!”

Irene called on her power, and for once found it responsive, reaching out, assembling data without actually invading minds.

She lost someone to dad, or to his subordinates.

“I don’t know what happened to make you so mad,” she said, calming down a little. “But whatever else you may think of me, or my father, don’t presume to judge my mother.”

The temperature in the room fell, again, as she put steel into her gaze.

“It’s the fourth of November today, of the year two-thousand and twelve. It’s fourteen past two,” she said, slowly. “It has been eighty-nine years, ten months, three days, fourteen hours and two minutes since she gained her powers. Eight days later, she put on what later became her costume for the first time. In all that time – nearly a century – my mother has never, ever called herself a hero.”

She put her cutlery down, folding her hands on the table in front of her. “Superhero, Queen of Superheroes, the Paragon of Modern Virtue… those are all labels the public put on her, labels she’s protested against more than once. There is a reason she is not actually a legal member of the United Heroes, only an independent advisor. My mother has never, ever pretended to be anything but what she is – a woman with her own set of beliefs, who does what she thinks is right and asks others to do the same.”

Looking up, she circled the table with her gaze, looking them all in the eyes one after the other. “If people expect her to be a paragon of virtue who always does what they feel is ‘good’, that’s their problem, not hers. She wants to be together with my father – who may well be the only man in the world she can really share her life with – and no one has the right to tell her not to. Besides, have you ever stopped to think about how bad my father could get if she wasn’t doing her best to moderate him?”

“That isn’t… it doesn’t… he’s still a monster! How can she be with him!?” Cadance threw back, flustered. “Even if what you say is true, how can she consider herself a good person!?”

Suddenly, Irene’s anger vanished. Or at least, it died down. She’s just lashing out… why? Her power surged, but… no. She quickly took a few pills, calming herself and her power.

“My mother has literally saved billions of lives – and that’s not even counting all the people saved by her charities, or the people she trained or advised – so I think regardless of what she may or may not call herself, no one has the right to criticise her for anything until they’ve spent most of a century doing nothing but helping people,” she said calmly. “And before you say anything else, I think it’s pretty fucking low of you to bring up this kind of topic at a friendly get-together. And that’s nothing compared to how you treat your own daughter.”

Melody threw her a wild, scared glance, but Irene ignored her. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed! I literally have a nigh-unlimited breadth of power at my beck and call, and I don’t need it to get it. You’ve been making snide comments about her all the time, when you weren’t just ignoring her, and I find it pretty fucking sad that the Dark is a better parent than both of you,” She pointed her finger at Melody’s parents, who looked utterly shocked, “because he at least isn’t jealous of me for being better at something, nor does he treat me like a pariah!

She rose from her seat, the chair flying backwards across the dining room of the old colonial mansion. Grabbing Melody’s hand, she dragged her out of the room.

‘Irene, what are you doing!?’ the startled girl asked, just barely remembering to grab her vocalizer.

She stomped out of the house, slamming the door shut. “We’re going to Italy. I know the best ice cream parlor in the whole world, and we can visit the Colosseum, too!”



* * *


4th November, 21:25

In Basil’s hideout, Prisca, Dalia and Vasiliki had spent the last two hours blowing stuff up.

Well, that was a little inaccurate. To be precise, Vasiliki had been trying to blow Gilgul up. Having picked up a lot about proper research from Basil, she’d made sure to include control samples (which meant she always tried to blow something else up along with her, to see how each attempt worked). So far, nothing had worked on Gilgul, which made Prisca feel quite smug.

The hour before that, they’d been following Basil’s advice, testing Dalia’s power against Gilgul. The results had been too random to make sense off, and they’d decided to wait for Basil to make sense of that stuff. It was his speciality, anyway. So they’d been blowing stuff up, instead. But now Gilgul’s time was running out, because apparently being covered in acid that ate through steel, set on fire and then blown up with enough force to rattle the walls of what Basil called his Fun Room (the one set apart for explosive testing) was actually taxing for her power. And that was just a single experiment.

They’d reached number thirty-four now. And Vasiliki claimed she could still come up with more.

“Wow, you must be… a nightmare to fight out there,” Prisca commented as she let Gilgul sit down on the floor, conserving time.

Vasiliki, who was naked (apparently, some of her rituals required nakedness, and she’d also remarked that there was a worrying tendency for her clothes to get torn up all the time, so she was taking precautions now) and quite sweaty enough to have Dalia’s eyes glued to her, breathed deeply and replied, “Not really, I… I can’t pull this stuff off on the fly… nor can I enchant something with… all of this. What I can do… on the fly, or through artifacts, is nothing compared to what I can do with a ritual, but they take too much time. Besides, I don’t want to… strip naked outside… you know?”

Prisca nodded, letting her spear fade away, followed by her armor, which she quickly replaced with a simple green sundress. “But if it comes down to it, you can pull out the big guns?”

“Whoa, whoa, wait a minute!” Dalia threw in, jumping up. “Did I see that right? You can just… change clothes, at will!?”

The other two girls looked at her in surprise – she’d been rather quiet since they stopped experimenting with her power – and rolled their eyes.

“Yes, I can wear anything I want, in this form. Now, back to important stuff,” Prisca said, turning back to Vasiliki. “So, about my question?”

The girl shrugged, still breathing hard. “N-no, I’m… unable to really go beyond the… the paragon tier. Biggest thing I’ve ever managed was when Basil and I were testing my power. I managed to blow up some whole cars at the junkyard, and melt some others. One time, I took a bus apart.”

Prisca eyed her suspiciously. “And did you do that stuff… naked, with him?”

Vasiliki blushed, and nodded. “B-but I made sure he promised not to look!”

The redhead in front of her nodded, satisfied. “Not like he’d be interested, even if he hadn’t promised it. Basil is weird about girls.”

They all chuckled about that.

“Yeah, how do you feel about that? He kinda totally ignored you in favour of his sister!” Dalia threw in, sliding over to sit next to them, dressed in sweatpants and a shirt.

Prisca shrugged, drawing Dalia’s gaze to her barely covered chest. She wasn’t into girls, at all, but she enjoyed peoples attention… after years of having nothing to draw it to herself. Except, of course, for… “Look, I know Basil. That’s just what he is – bloody oblivious. I knew that going in, and honestly… even disregarding how he’s saved my life twice now, he was with me even… before I got my power and turned into this.”

The other two nodded, slightly uncomfortable. They’d both quickly learned that Prisca preferred to see her projection as her real body, and neither of them was quite comfortable with that. But neither did they confront her about it.

“So I guess I can forgive him for being… himself. Besides, his sister is really nice,” Prisca continued, oblivious herself. “Even after I tried to… um…” She blushed, suddenly cutting off.

“Whaaaat?” asked Dalia with a grin. “Does this relate to… the Incident?” Prisca had let it slip, days earlier, how she’d tried to get Basil into bed with herself, and failed. Even Vasiliki had laughed herself sick, and was now leaning in curiously.

Blushing even more, Prisca answered, “Well, two days later, I visited… in this form, because Basil said his sister knew about him, anyway, and he thought it’d be pointless to keep my power a secret from her – she wouldn’t rat us out, anyway. So, um, Basil was still asleep – he’s been sleeping a lot, lately, recovering – and we got to talking and… she’d kind of… sort of… listened in on us, on that night. And she, uh…”

“Totally berated you for not seducing her little brother properly?” Vasiliki helped her along with a grin.

“Um, yes…” Prisca replied, wide-eyed. “How did you know? I mean, this isn’t normal behaviour, I think…”

Shrugging, Vasiliki rose to her feet. “I’ve gotten to know Amy a little. She’s just the type to go that route.” She looked at Dalia. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d actually encourage us all having an orgy with Basil. She’s just the type for liking the idea of her brother scoring with two – or three, now – supernaturally hot girls. She’s probably been encouraging him to do so, actually.”

“Y-you think she’d do that? Sounds more like something a guy would say to his little brother!” Prisca threw in, exasperated.

“That’s Amy for you. Basil is not one to tell, but I can read between the lines, and it sounds like she’s quite… promiscious. Not in a bad way, I think, because Basil would totally have a cow about that, but still,” Vasiliki finished, leaning on her staff. “Anyway, I’m tired. I’ll get a shower, then go home.”

“I’ll come along. You shouldn’t be going around alone at this time, not with the way things are right now. And I can just wink out once you’re safe home,” Prisca said, standing up, her clothes melting and reforming into heavy winter clothes. “What about you, Dalia? Want me to walk you home?”

The other redhead shook her head. “Nah, I’ll shower and crash here. No school tomorrow, anyway, and mom probably won’t notice, anyway.”

“Alright… call if you need anything,” Prisca said, a little unsure. Dalia rarely talked about her mother, she’d found out, and it was never good. She wondered what her home life was like, if she preferred sleeping in Basil’s underground hideout alone. “Actually, keep the console on – we can play some games or something, later.”

Dalia raised an eyebrow. “I thought your time was running out?”

“Which means I’ll be waking up soon. I can just use the computer Basil made for me to link with this place, and we can play games, or watch movies. I’m sure Eudocia will j- uh, forget that!” She slapped her hands in front of her mouth.

“Eu-what?” asked Dalia.

“Eudocia… ‘good thought’? Sounds like the kind of name Basil would give to something. Or someone. Who is Eudocia?” asked Vasiliki, suddenly looking far less tired.

“Uhm… I guess… I need to explain some stuff…” Prisca said, looking down at her feet, drawing a circle with one as her clothes melted back to a comfortable sundress. “Let’s go to the console room, boot up the screens and all…”

 Previous | Next



B009.2 Family Matters

Previous | Next

“A week after the probing attack on the British Isles by the Red Army, what many expect to develop into the third world war has entered a new – and worrying – stage, as a coalition of various Sovjet metahumans from both side of the law have declared open rebellion against the remnants of the Red Council. Lead by the longtime member of the Foremen, Kopatel – also known as ‘the Digger’ – they attacked the temporary capital of the Sovjet Union, Saint Petersburg today, taking the Second High Secretary of the Red Council hostage and occupying the local government buildings…”

Basil and Amy watched as the news anchor rattled off the events. The revolutionaries had declared their intention to do away with the Red Council for good, preventing their resurrection. There was no information yet on what kind of follow-up government they wanted to implement, but their declaration of intent seemed mostly focused on them just taking down the council.

“Do you know why they do not talk about their actual goal beyond toppling the current rulership?” Basil asked his sister. She ought to know something, having been in Russia (and they would have a talk about her going off on such a dangerous job without telling him).

“Because they have none. Or rather, too many,” she explained as she ate chips out of a bag. “They’re not one group. They’re several distinct, even opposed groups of metahumans who are united solely by their desire to bring down the red council.” She finished the bag, crumpling it. “They’ll almost definitely turn on each other if they succeed.”

He nodded, focusing his attention back on the television (he had to upgrade it. The one they had at home was just a commercial model, utterly beneath his standards). There were some profiles given of the various metahumans and groups identified so far. Since he knew all about Kopatel (one of his personal favourite capes) and most of the others, he kind of spaced out while watching, devising the improvements he could make on the television whitout turning it into an obvious gadget. No Human Eradication Mode, then.

They saved the Devil’s Bride for last. Her profile was short, really. A (censored) picture – too many naked women out there, he thought surly; it was hard enough getting Amy to dress decently as it was, he did not want her to get the idea of doing away with clothes entirely (and she would, probably) – of a tall, slender woman with pure white skin and hair, the latter in a braid that was twice as long as she was tall. Her eyes were scarlet red.

Exact powerset unknown, but rumors from the other side suggested that she was considered an S-Class in the Sovjet Union and had evaded capture for two decades now.

“That’s bollocks, by the way,” Amy said. “The Sovjets class her as an S-plus meta.”

“What can she do?” he asked with a shudder. Not another one. That classification had originally been supposed to exist only for Desolation-in-Light. Then Emyr Blackhill – also known as the Godking of Mars – had been retroactively classified as an S-Plus threat. Then Ember had joined that list, and people had prayed it would stop there.

“She’s a… well, technically, she’s a power mimic,” Amy explained. Wait, was she not just using a British accent? “She permanently takes the powers of other people – by eating them.”

“Permanently? The whole power?” he asked. Nasty.

Amy slid over the back of the couch, cuddling up to him from the side. “Far as we could find out, she can only use three powers at a time, but it can be any power she’s ever eaten. Plus she’s got some kind of immortality going on – she regenerates slowly, but she can and has recovered from complete dismemberment and even cremation.”

“Oh, great. So she is basically a mini-DiL?” Just what we needed.

“Yup. She even manifested during a DiL-attack, back in the early days,” Amy said, wrapping her arms around his waist as she made herself comfortable. “Spent the last two decades roaming the lands eating people. Now, for whatever reason, she suddenly decided to involve herself in politics.

Basil sighed, putting his right arm around Amy’s shoulders. What’s next?



* * *


An hour later, Amy had fallen asleep, drooling on his shirt. He did not have the heart to disturb her, even to just close her mouth. She had obviously tired herself out more than she had been willing to admit.

Besides, it looked utterly adorable. He took pictures with his cellphone, in case he needed some blackmail material.

Then he leaned back, switching through channels. He had never been much of a television watcher, all things considered. Daytime (and nighttime) television mostly bored him, except for a show or two every season.

Still, this was rather nice. Just relaxing on the couch with Amy. They had not done that since… well, since he had started building his base. Way too long.

So he just enjoyed relaxing, trying to ignore the ache that was still left after Gloom Glimmer had pretty much healed his entire body. Even with her power level, that had been draining. He still suffered from phantom pains every now and then, and a constant ache that had only gradually lessened over the last week.

Not to mention this damn headache.

That’s not from the healing, mate, the man in the moon spoke up. You’ve been overusing your power, over the last week, trying to make your stuff low cost and low maintainance.

I can not exactly not use my power, as you well know, Basil replied. And besides, unless I manage to do just that, then we will have to somehow make a lot of money in a short time. And I do not know how.

We’ll figure somethign out. Worst case, we’ll see about selling some of your stuff, or get ourselves a loan from A-

No. I am not going to rely on her for this, Basil cut him off decidedly. Setting aside the issue of me wanting to be independent from her on this, we are talking about money made out of criminal activities-

Which you obviously don’t object to enough to actually call Amy out, the man replied in something like a sneer.

What did you say? Basil thought angrily.

I’m literally talking right inside your fuckin’ head, he said, unimpressed. No way you didn’t understand me, matey.


Oi, don’t get me wrong. I totally get why you’re making an exception for her. She’s family. Only family, at that. Still, if you’re gonna ignore the fact that you’re currently cuddled up to a serial rapist and murderer, then I’m sure you can ignore that fact when you use her money to buy yourself some quality materials and equipment to work with.

Basil fell silent (mentally), looking at Amy’s drooling, sleeping face. He wanted to punch the guy in the face for calling her those things, but… well, he would have to punch himself, to do that. Also, he was right.

He had never really connected Amy to Mindstar’s deeds, not… not emotionally, at least.

I am a hypocrite, am I not? he asked. I go after criminals, but no one I’ve fought so far – not even Hastur or Panthera Rex – was half as bad as Mindstar, were they not?

The voice in his head replied, in a somber tone, It’s not so cut and dry, pal. She’s family. Everyone makes exceptions for family.

There is a limit to it, though, Basil thought. How can I call myself a hero, sharing a home with, cooking meals for and tolerating a… well, her? He could not bring himself to put those words to her himself.

Best to look at it from a pragmatic point of view – you couldn’t possibly fight someone as powerful as she is, and that’s not even counting in her allies or her boss. You’re doing far more good concentrating on badguys on your level, and providing her some human grounding. Who knows how monstrous she’d be if she didn’t have you to ground her?

Tell that to Amazon. Or that sorority at the East Texas University.

By all accounts, the girls enjoyed that night, came the reply. In fact, I believe more than a few of them have been trying to get her to come back, haven’t they?

And how much of that is their own will?

You know as well as I do that Amy couldn’t possibly mind control that many people over an extended period of time. Face it, sometimes, reality makes pornos look reasonable.

I think we have derailed this conversation.

Well, what are we supposed to talk about? Apart from lots and lots of naked girls having a night-long orgy? It’s not like you’re actually considering turning Amy in, or working against her. Even if you could, you wouldn’t and we both know it.

Basil turned the television off, falling silent. He looked down at Amy, gently caressing her flank. She smiled, closing her mouth and snuggling closer.



* * *


“I think it’s funny,” Irene said. “How you’re more nervous about this than you were about meeting my parents.” She was sitting on Melody’s bed, one foot drawn up to rest her chin on her knee as she watched her friend try and pick out a dress to wear. She enjoyed seeing her in her underwear more than she wanted to, but neither could she take her eyes off Melody’s backside as she bent over to rummage through her drawer.

Am I really that bad? Melody asked absentmindedly. Irene had grown so used to being mentally connected to her, her power did it pretty much automatically whenever they were close. I mean, I know was a mess when we had dinner with them… even though your mom was really nice, and your dad not as scary as I thought he’d be…

“Yep, you’re even more agitated now. And I did tell you that dad was just deliberately messing with you, right? He’s not actually that scary, at least not in private,” she admonished her friend.

I know, I know, but… I mean, he’s the Dark. I ate dinner with the Dark and Lady Light. How could I not be agitated? Melody asked as she turned to look at Irene, interrupting her search.

“Don’t think of them as the oldest and most powerful cape and cowl of the world. Just think of them as your BFF’s quirky parents.”

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen any time soon. Also, I was quite freaked out that your dad just showed me his real form. I mean, didn’t he go out of his way to destroy all pictures of himself?

“He did, except for those that belong to mom. But who’re you going to tell? Why would you?”


“Anyway, relax. This is your family. I’m sure they’ll be glad to see you,” a shadow passed over Melody’s face, “And I promise to not be naughty. C’mon, it’ll be fun!” She smiled for her friend, trying very hard not to use her power to calm her emotions. That would be wrong.

Melody took a deep breath (drawing Irene’s eyes to her bust for a moment, before she reigned herself in) and relaxed, fractionally. Then she turned back to her dresser drawer. After a few quiet minutes, she finally chose two dresses and presented them to Irene, holding them alternatively in front of her body.

One was a knee-length cotton dress in bright pink, to be worn with pantyhose beneath. No cleavage, long sleeves. It’d probably cling tightly to her body, but be thick enough to not show too much.

The other was longer, made of thinner blue material and clung tightly. The neckline was tame, but considering Melody’s bust size, that still put a lot of smooth, delcious f- Stop it, Irene. She’s your friend!

“Go with the pink one,” she said, hoping Melody hadn’t noticed the direction of her thoughts. Her power surged, confirming that no, she hadn’t. She was too nervous. “It’s more appropriate for a casual get together with family and friends. And it’s so you.”

Melody nodded and put the blue dress away. Then she pulled on a black pantyhose before putting the dress on. Irene clucked her tongue and stood up, helping Melody fix her hair again.

“It’ll all be fine,” Irene said. “We’ll meet your family, I’ll make your brothers drool, we’ll eat, make small talk, then go about our way. Relax.”

I don’t think it’ll be so simple, Melody said. I told you what they think of me, and what I do.

“I’m sure it’s not as bad as you make it out to be,” Irene replied. “I mean, my dad is the king of supervillains, and he wouldn’t ever be that mean to me.”

It’s kind of sad that the Dark seems to be a better dad than mine is.

“Oh, shut up!” Irene slapped her friend’s butt, making her jump up. Feels nice and so- Stop it, Irene! “Let’s go eat and have fun! Family awaits!”

 Previous | Next