Brennus Files 08: Figures of Horror

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The Hannibal Storm

On November 11, 2006, a storm formed over the German city of Tuttlingen. At first, the inhabitants of the city thought it was a natural occurance… but it wouldn’t break up. Then, strange things started to happen. Electronics didn’t work right. Animals were acting nervous, irritable, then disappeared completely. On the third day, all contact to the city was lost, and the storm moved on towards the East. Investigators were sent in, but they found the city empty, with no signs of struggle or any remnants of the inhabitants or any other living thing. Even their pets were gone. An area of roughly twelve square kilometers, now completely devoid of human or domesticated life.

Meanwhile, the storm moved towards Stokach, moving over Neuhausen ob Eck before turning South. That city, too, was completely wiped out, leaving behind only the buildings – though this time, domesticated animals were not touched, only humans vanished, save for one four-year-old boy who was left nearly catatonic and unable to tell anyone what had happened – if he even knew.

It had nearly reached Stokach when several local superhero groups (and a few supervillains) banded together to try and find the cause of the storm. Just when they were about to enter, though, the storm suddenly vanished, leaving no traces behind.

Two weeks later, the storm reformed over Radolfzell, cutting off all communication before moving on a few hours later, too quickly for any meaningful response to be mounted. The city was, once again, bereft of all human life – and all animal life, too. Not just domesticated animals, but all animals. Even those that lived beneath the ground.

The storm moved on South, vanishing all humans that didn’t evacuate in time. Any metahuman response was met with it either disappearing for a few hours before reforming further South, or the metahumans vanishing.

On the thirty-first of December, the storm began crossing the Alps. It was then that a British newspaper called it, jokingly, ‘the Hannibal Storm’ – a name which stuck.

It was in the middle of its crossing of the Alps that the biggest assault on the strange weather phenomenon – though most were sure a metahuman was responsible, no signs of such were actually found – was launched. An assault that failed, miserably, costing fifty lives, including that of the Eighth Chevalier. Only five heroes survived – one of them Lady Light, who carried the other four to safety, very nearly succumbing to grievous wounds that had been inflicted to her during the battle. Of the four she saved, only one was still sane – the future Shining Guardian member Fleur, who was left traumatized and in need of therapy.

The Hannibal Storm dispersed after the battle, only to reform a month later near Saint Petersburg, engulfing the Eastern half of the city for nearly two days before it moved on South, leaving it empty of life. Several attempts by the Sovjet forces to stop or capture the Hannibal Storm only cost them the lives of some of their best heroes.

For three months, the storm moved in an erratic pattern across the Sovjet territory in Europe, before it left and moved towards Italy in a very nearly straight line.

After half a year of relatively slow but unstoppable progress, it reached the town of Azzano Decimo – just when Desolation-in-Light appeared above the city.

Due to the nature of the two S-Class events, information on what followed is scarce. What little is known, though, is that Desolation-in-Light left after nearly three days of battle against whatever was inside the storm. The Hannibal Storm continued its move, massively diminished but not defeated.

It was at that exact moment, after it had been weakened by her daughter, that Lady Light mounted an all-out assault upon the storm, taking all five Shining Guardians, the Dark, the Dark Five, several independent heroes and villains, a delegation of the Sovjet Union, a delegation of metahumans and Subjugators from GAIN, Queen Madeleine and three members of her Queensguard.

After two hours, the fight was over. One member of the Shining Guardians – Fleur’s predecessor – and one of the Dark Five had fallen, as had the entire Sovjet delegation, the metahuman delegation from GAIN and one of the Queensguard, as well as nearly all the Independents. Only Lady Light, the Dark, Severance and Madeleine were still conscious at the end of the battle.

It has never been reported what exactly they found at the center of the storm – but just a week later, the Tartarus Star project was greenlighted, the satellite prison completed and whatever they found there was taken up into orbit, to become the first and central prisoner of the installation.

Tachyon

July 7, 1995: Jason Orwell, aged fifty, is stabbed to death in broad daylight, in the middle of London, killed by a single strike to his heart. No one observes the murder. There are no traces found of the culprit, and Mr Orwell didn’t have any known enemies that might be responsible – he was just a butcher. A local research lab records a sudden burst of strange, unnatural particles in the area, but no further conclusions are drawn.

July 28: Le Aimei is stabbed to death in her bed in the baby ward of the Hong Kong Central Hospital. She is found by a nurse with a single stab wound to the heart. A burst of some kind of strange energy is felt by several local energy manipulators.

January 12, 1996: Svetlana Toschev is found dead in her apartment in Vladivostok, killed by a single stab wound to her heart. She is just twenty-two years old at the time of her murder. Two hours later, her brother Vladimir, who is studying medicine in Harvard, is killed in the middle of a seminar in the same manner. One student mentions seeing a red-and-white blur rush through the room, but no one can corroborate this observation. A local lab records a strange burst of foreign particles that vanish before they can be properly analysed.

January 13: The entire Toschev family, including every family with connections through marriage, is killed, every single member – from twelve babies all the way to two elderly men living in assisted living facilities, are murdered by way of knife wounds to their hearts, despite being spread out over half of Russia and a good part of the USA. The strange particles are recorded in several of the locations where the murders take place and authorities (as well as several newspapers) take notice.

January 15: the Guardian publishes an article titled ‘Tachyon’, describing the bizarre string of murders. It also connects four more murders over the last six months to the metahuman now known as ‘Tachyon’. An hour after the article is published, all the employees of the Guardian, as well as their immediate family members, are murdered by being stabbed into the heart. Three eye witnesses report a red-and-white blur responsible for the attacks.

January 16: The British Prime Minister declares a day of mourning for the murdered people. He holds an address to the nation, but is stabbed halfway through, despite a heavy presence of government metahumans for protection, killed live on national television. The cameras catch a single frame of a man in a red-and-white bodysuit covering him from head to toe. The mask stretches across his face, without any openings. His suit is mostly pure white, save for his crotch, the inside of his thighs, the back of his knees, the back of his upper arms, the fold of his elbows and his throat and neck. He is caught in the middle of a sprint, holding a simple but high-quality kitchen knife in his right hand. A burst of those same strange particles accompanies his passage.

January 18 – June 22: Tachyon commits fifteen murders without any pattern or connection between the victims, all across the world. Due to the rather mundane means by which he murders, analysts assume that many, many more murders are actually committed, but not reported – these fifteen are merely the ones during which the foreign particles or a red-and-white blur were observed.

June 23: During a fight between the Twelve Judges and a short-lived group of villains called ‘Die Nibelungenritter’, Tachyon murders Roth, a member of the Judges. He manages to snap her neck despite her extreme toughness. It is concluded that he must actually be a true speedster, though no one is sure how he avoids collateral damage despite that fact.

September 29: After several months during which Tachyon made no recorded appearances, he struck again during a fight against Desolation-in-Light, killing four superheroes by breaking the necks of three and stabbing a fourth in the heart – then proceeding to murder seven villains who were helping out during the fight and assaulting Lady Light, though she managed to repel him before he could harm her.

February 20, 1997: after several failed attempts to trap Tachyon, and a lot of brainpower being focused on figuring out his capabilities, it is concluded that he somehow combines the strengths of all known types of speedsters – being both capable of true super speed and of partially negating the laws of physics, so as not to tear up the ground beneath his feet or shatter all glass in his passage. He appears capable of exerting his full strength and speed, yet still make normally impossible turns. In short, he has all the strengths of all speedster types, but none of their usual weaknesses. He is classified as an S-Class threat and an international death warrant is issued.

Ever since then, Tachyon has been randomly murdering people all across the globe, usually one or two a month, though he hasn’t repeated any of his early killing sprees since. No one’s been able to so much as inconvenience him since. It is assumed that he either acts entirely on impulse or has some kind of secondary ability that confuses precognitives trying to predict his movements.

The Living Trinity

Three girls – Noelle Alden, Ciara Hallen and Merle Fion – manifest under unknown circumstances at the age of fifteen, on the first day of March twenty-oh-seven. They had been friends since early childhood, each having at least one parent who was a member of the United Heroes San Francisco Division.

Calling themselves Move, Mold & Make, the three proceed to take over their entire neighborhood.

Noelle Alden, now named Move, acts as the leader of the three, being the most stable after their manifestation. Her power allows her to move anything she can accurately perceive to any location she can accurately perceive or picture in her mind – or she can just randomly send her target anywhere. More disconcerting is the fact that she can teleport only parts of her targets away – or into other things. She can essentially kill anyone within her sight, provided they are not somehow protected against such an ability. There appears to be no limit to her range, though she never moved anything outside the atmosphere. She could also teleport herself, as well as teleport her two friends without having to actually see them directly.

Ciara Hallen, Mold, was the most sadistic of the three, delighting in using her power in the most twisted, cruel way she could come up with. Much like Move, her power was very simple, and very powerful – she could reshape, or mold, anything she could accurately perceive into any shape she could imagine, even changing its composition to a degree – turning flesh into stone, or concrete into plants. Her molding was permanent when applied to non-human targets, while it would wear off, in time, when used on humans – unless it killed them or she kept concentrating on the modifications. She could also use her power to heal herself and her friends from nearly any harm anyone ever managed to cause them, provided she was conscious. Some reports claim she could even revive her two friends from the dead.

Merle Fion, Make, turned out to be the least stable member of the Living Trinity – a name she came up with, apparently – and, by far, the most powerful. Fortunately, she was barely functional without at least one of her friends around to take care of her. Unfortunately, she was quite deadly with her power. Make’s power allowed her to, well, make anything she could imagine. From simple force-fields all the way to elaborate monsters, heroes and villains with their own powers, she could make anything – provided she focused on it. So long as her focus was not disrupted, her creations remained. Obviously, the more creations she maintained at a time, the less elaborate they were – but if focusing on a single idea, she could create what would probably count as an A-Class threat on its own… except her creations could be adjusted with just a moment’s thought, and recovered from any damage so long as her focus remained on them. Her power was – and still is – so vast, she could actually create sentient beings with distinct personalities and the ability to be far more… stable and intelligent than she ever was, though they tended to deteriorate over time, as she lost interest in them.

As if these abilities were not enough, the three were capable of heterodyning their powers not just easily but casually. Though the resulting abilities were not much use in direct combat – they worked on too big a scale to be too useful in the heat of battle – they allowed them to fortify their ‘realm’ by quite literally breaking reality, moving bits and pieces between dimensions, erecting barriers, portals and twists of time and space. Within two months, the entire greater San Francisco area had been turned into a huge demented playground for the three of them, and they most certainly had their fun with it.

The Living Trinity terrorized their home city for nearly two years, as repeated attempts at liberating it failed, taking many lives – though not as many as one might expect, as the three of them were quite averse to killing (most of the time). Even Mold preferred her enemies to live (and suffer), nevermind sparing civilians so she could play with them again and again. Make rarely bothered to finish anyone off, as she tended to quickly lose interest in any battle. And Move was too pragmatic to start killing senselessly, as she knew it would invite an even more extreme response from their many, many enemies.

It wasn’t until the United Heroes mounted a greater incursion into their playground, near the end of the first half of their second year, that things spiraled out of control. During the battle, the three of them lost control of their powers and ended up killing several of the heroes, and an undisclosed number of civilians, causing wide-spread damage in the entire area.

Afterwards, they became even less stable than before, their games turning more and more cruel, with a steadily mounting death toll.

Finally, as it seemed that the situation was no longer salvageable – the US government was ready to condemn the area and declare it lost, the plan being to build a massive wall around it to prevent anyone from getting inside (and, hopefully, out) – Lady Light and the Dark ordered all surveillance of the area to be discontinued, and recalled all troops, metahuman and otherwise. Due to the desperation at the time, the government obeyed, and the two of them entered the area.

What followed is not really known. Some rumors say that Lady Light and the Dark heterodyned their powers. Some speak about the near-legendary achievement of stage two heterodyning, a occurance that has only been recorded a handful of times since the beginning of metahuman history – and some few speak of something entirely different, some kind of power they have kept secret to this day.

Whatever they did, it worked. The Living Trinity was captured, and all three girls were put into stasis cells, sealed in Tartarus Star. Most of the damage they did to the area – that is, the twists in reality – was fixed, or at least removed by way of massive damage. When asked why she and the Dark didn’t do this sooner, Lady Light replied that, “The situation had not devolved enough to warrant the risk.”

No one dared ask why they haven’t done whatever they did to stop DiL… or perhaps if they tried and failed, some time. Few want to even contemplate it.

Meanwhile, the Living Trinity sleeps in their orbital prison, locked away from the world.

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