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Literature / Brennus

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Brennus is a Web Serial Novel about Basil, a teenage super-scientist. After discovering his power, his older sister and guardian Amy reveals herself to be one of the world's top supervillains, Mindstar. Much to her dismay, Basil decides to become a vigilante by the name of Brennus, and quickly finds two other superpowered teenagers to join him, Tyche and Hecate.

Updates at least once a week on Sundays, with occasional additional midweek chapters.


The author Tieshaunn has drawn inspiration from the Whateley Universe, Legion of Nothing and Worm.

First chapter here. The story deals with both adult themes and some disturbed individuals, and should only be read by adults.

Tropes specific to significant characters or groups can be found on the Characters page.

This story provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Absence of Evidence: The mysterious warehouse filled with sealed empty crates. Brennus finds it when he miscalculates his weight while Roof Hopping and falls down. It looks superficially like a warehouse - but there's no dust (except through the hole in the roof), all the records are blank paper, the computer has never been turned on, and no traces of human or robot presence that Brennus, Hecate or Tyche can find.
  • A God Am I: The God-King of Mars had near limitless powers and proclaimed himself a god.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Contriving relies on this, given that it works through the Placebotinum Effect or something similar depending upon the particular kind of contriving. However it gets a special mention because proving to the Contriver that what they're doing is impossible is a bad idea:
    • Only one percent keep their power;
    • Twenty-four percent lose their current power but gain another powerset;
    • Twenty-five percent of the time, they simply lose their power until they return to their delusions
    • The final fifty percent suffer from Your Head Asplode or their creations Turn Against Their Master.
  • Alternate History: Superpowers appeared in the 20s, and there have been quite a few changes since. Notable ones include:
    • Hitler lost control of the Nazi party to Weisswald ('Whitewood'), who was apparently so evil that even the Nazis considered him a monster - but they feared him too much to oppose him. His final act was to create the Spiteborn.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. survived his assassination by manifesting powers.
    • The Cold War is ongoing, with a massive Iron Wall being patrolled. At the story's beginning, Desolation-in-Light attacks the Soviet Union, killing their leadership and potentially upsetting the political balance.
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    • Various cities or countries no longer exist due to Desolation-in-Light attacks.
    • There is a base on the moon, and many other technological advances due to Gadgeteers.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: The easiest way to see if someone is an Adonis.
  • A World Half Full: Villains outnumber the heroes four-to-one and devastating attacks from beings like the incredibly powerful Desolation-in-Light and the monsters called Spiteborn are a regular occurrence. The main positive about the setting is that the world has managed to avoid ending, thanks to some powerful heroes protecting it from the powerful villains. There is an element of optimism in the despair that keeps it from being a Crapsack World, as Brennus is starting out as a superhero.
  • The Baby Trap: The Matriarch tries to pull this on Aap but he leaves the country to fight in a war before he ever finds out.
  • Brainy Brunette: A large number of characters have either black or brown hair and most of these characters are highly intelligent. Dalia is red headed and fairly ditzy, though she does have her moments of intelligence.
  • The Chessmaster: All over the place. Pretty much every faction seen (and some factions within those factions) have chess masters trying to advance themselves or stay on top of one another. It's outright stated that villains would have taken over the world if they weren't so bad at working with each other.
  • Commonality Connection: It really doesn't matter what their differences are; with rare exceptions gadgeteers always have positive, or at worst neutral, interactions with each other due to interest in what each other has invented.
  • Child Prodigy: Macian is this for technology, as a result of his superpower. Ember was a world-renowned child artist before his manifestation, to the point where he was tested for superpowers.
  • The Dark Age of Comic Books: Desolation-in-Light appeared for the first time on September 1st, 1986, marking the end of the Golden Age of Metahumanity. This corresponds to when Watchmen started publication.
    • The Dark suggests her attack was a Cynicism Catalyst for the world of Supers, turning a once trusting world into the Cold-War setting we see, which further emphasizes the symbolism.
  • Deflector Shields: Only two Gadgeteers are known to have developed forcefields - one of them is dead and the other rules most of Africa. Until Macian, at eight years old, casually hands one to Ember.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: She never says it outright, but there are glimpses where Gloom Glimmer gets very tired of people getting scared of her.
    • In the Born at Sleep arc, she snaps at her team (minus Polymnia) due to one too many insults at her sister, and one gets the sense she is also venting against the negative association she gets because of her sister.
  • Differently Powered Individual: Known as 'metahumans'.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Dunstkreis manipulates dirt and dust into spheres which orbit him, order and sizes roughly corresponding to the planets in the Solar System. Earthmaster was a God-tier geokinetic who could create earthquakes reaching up to an eight on the Richter Scale, and got taken out by a sniper while on the toilet.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Some rare metahumans are able to initiate a 'Swan Song', flaring their power to new heights at the cost of burning through it very fast - and after it's gone, it burns through their life. They don't know if they can until they reach the point of sacrifice (and subsequently forget, if they choose not to), so it can't be planned in advance.
  • Emotion Bomb: The Protege constantly emits waves of despair and shame, to the point of destroying the minds of anyone who comes close to him. The closest anyone has gotten in over five years was half a kilometre - achieved by a metahuman with a supposedly invincible mindshield, who subsequently went temporarily insane.
  • The Empath: The Protege is such a strong empath that he's the only known "sympathetic empath": he can even feel the emotions of anyone using remotely controlled technology in his range, which is about sixteen square miles. Ember uses his as a kind of Psychic Radar.
  • Enemy Mine: Attacks by the Spiteborn, Savage Six or Desolation-in-Light get responses from all sides. Legally, anyone who turns up to assist against an S-Class threat can walk away afterwards unless there's an extended kill warrant (not even a normal kill warrant applies).
  • Exposition: Lots of it. Amy does a fair bit in the prologue, but it's an in-universe Running Gag with Brennus.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Lady Light, Gloom Glimmer and Mindstar have each had aspects of this.
  • Fake Memories: Mindstar explicitly says it's impossible for any telepath, even Mindfuck, to implant or remove long-term memories (although they can prevent short-term memories from moving to long-term). But it's been revealed that not only is it possible, someone or something has been continuously doing it to her and Basil, and both their parents and their lives before five years before the story starts are completely fake, and every time they come close to figuring it out, the power kicks in again and makes them forget what they were doing. Even her belief that she's a serial rapist is fabricated: she's a virgin.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: According to one conversation it's highly illegal for Contrivers to cook for restuarants. Of course, considering that a Contriver is working with materials they usually don't even understand, it does seem more justified than most examples.
  • Foil: Gadgeteers and Contrivers. Essentially both Gadgeteer and Contriver manifestations are the end result of a person facing recurring challenges. If they face their problems and move forward then they most likely become Gadgeteers. If they reject their problems and run away from reality then a Contriver manifests.
  • Foregone Conclusion: "They Called Us Mad!" has some very poignant scenes because of this.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gadgeteers like Basil are limited by the laws of physics, but that’s the only limit to what they can create when provided with enough time and resources. Gadgeteers can invent technology that is decades or even centuries ahead of normal humans. However, the speed of invention varies between Gadgeteers.
  • Genius Ditz: In one Brennus File it's stated that being a gadgeteer doesn't really make you smart or have to do with you being smart.
  • Green Thumb: Fleur is an S-Class one of these. Weisswald was along these lines, too.
  • Heroic Build: Adonis type powers are a common superpower that makes many metahumans more attractive. It is, literally and figuratively, the Most Common Superpower.
  • Homemade Inventions: Most gadgeteers (and contrivers) start out like this. Basil in the prologue built a few inventions from parts in his house, including a prototype Ray Gun.
  • If I Can't Have You…: A strange, villainous example where the Dark tends to limit and/or kill any metahuman who grows into a threat to the syndicate and won't join.
  • Lecture as Exposition: "Introduction to Metahuman Studies".
  • Ludicrous Precision: Exposed, a villain, is 1.71837468991 meters tall and weighs 78.22223485771 kilograms. When asked the depth of the Diggerer's tunnel, Polymnia responds with 1.21134 miles beneath sea level. Brennus responds with 1.949462761 kilometers beneath sea level.
  • Mad Scientist: Contrivers are almost guaranteed to be this, due to their incredible creations fuelled by their The Spark of Genius and their above average chance of being insane. Gadgeteers can also fit into the Mad Scientist trope very well.
  • Magic-Powered Pseudoscience: What distinguishes Gadgeteers from science-type Contrivers is that the latter use this.
  • Magic Versus Science: Mixing Gadgeteering and Contriving can lead to explosions.
    • Brennus tries to combine his tech with Hectate's magic, resulting in the Ultimate Lifeform
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Point Zero, 00:00 January 1st 1923.
  • Mind Control: What makes universal telepaths so feared.
  • The Minion Master: Spawner type metahumans can create minions, of varying power and complexity.
  • Missing Time: This has been happening to both Amy and Basil, although neither of them have told the other. It doesn't help that they tend to forget they've forgotten things.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: The Chimaera expression of the Physique power results from something going wrong during manifesting the Adonis power, and causes this. Can also result in Lovecraftian Superpower.
  • Mr. Imagination: The Protege hasn't moved in over five years, and spends most of his time doing this.
  • Named by Democracy: The Protege. His chosen codename is Ember.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Dark, Desolation-In-Light, Heretic, Atrocity, for just a few of the villains who are as scary as they sound.
  • Never Given a Name: When introduced, Macian has no name, not even a codename. He never needed one. When Henry insists on one, he picks the codename Macian, which means 'Maker'. Henry then helps him pick one for his younger sister. He picks Amanda.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The Protector only died when Desolation-in-Light attacked him. Desolation-in-Light, Pristine, the Protege and Tartsche all seem to have variants on a particular defensive power that achieves this to various degrees.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Gadgeteers often run off of 'inspiration', and while their technology is technically reproducible it often suffers from this. For instance, Polymnia 'hears' all her inventions as melodies and symphonies: not exactly easy to communicate to mundane scientists. Hotrod sees his as stylized gears. Brennus uses pictographs like Macian.
  • The Notable Numeral: Tieshaunn (the author) is fond of this for villainous groups, giving us the Dark Five, the Savage Six and the Rabid Eight.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction when Desolation-In-Light used her powers intelligently.
    • To a lesser extent, Amy realizing that she killed Hecate's cousin, Lupa Major.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Desolation-In-Light. Her power really messed her up, judging by the way she was destroying cities before being born (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Origins Episode: An Ember of Hope handles this for Ember. "They Called Us Mad!" is the origin story of Lady Light and the Dark.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Desolation-in-Light. Her attacks and the response to them are more like natural disasters than battles.
  • Physical God: Is there anything that the Protege can't do? This mysterious character seems to be basically omnipotent from what has been revealed so far. And lets not forget the whole mysterious God King of Mars. Who is he? Author: The God King of Mars.
  • Placebotinum Effect: Contrivers run off this.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: The Protege meets the eyes of a character through a security camera, and sends him a mental message at the same time.
  • Power at a Price: And all metahumans have a chance at mental derangement, and physical mutations are not uncommon.
  • Powered Armour: Brennus would never be able to engage in combat without his suit.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Sexual derangements are pretty common, and powers generally appear around puberty, so this is common in-universe.
  • Power Trio: Our three heroes are Brennus, Tyche and Hecate, tentatively classified as Fighter, Mage, Thief.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Various kinds. People have natural defenses, which can render entry difficult or impossible without weakening them (a sufficiently strong psychic can force their way in, but will probably cause permanent damage). Amy installed a fair few shields and traps in Basil's head. One character in an interlude has varying degrees - being able to block psychics, or hide from them, or create a perfect fake front for them to encounter instead. Other powers protect against psychic invasion to various degrees.
  • Psychoactive Powers: Some powers grow stronger under certain circumstances, including emotions (generally related to the manifestation event).
  • Puberty Superpower: Not a hard-and-fast rule, but a general guideline. People who come into their powers before puberty tend to be more powerful; people who gain them after their teens tend to be less powerful. Mixed with Traumatic Superpower Awakening.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted. Thanks to Gadgeteers, technology is much more advanced than in our world, although not as advanced as you might expect after ninety years due to the No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup stuff.
  • Roof Hopping: Various metas do this, including the three protagonists.
    • In Brennus's first outing, one of the drawbacks is revealed when a roof gives way underneath him, spilling him into a warehouse.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Brennus builds a few of these to his hideout.
  • Sensory Overload: Apparently a reasonably common tactic, because some Super Senses are so common secondary powers.
  • Set Bonus: Known as Heterodyning, some powers can be combined to get a result greater than the sum of their parts. Gadgeteers are particularly good at heterodyning with other gadgeteers; contrivers are very bad at it, especially with gadgeteers.
  • Shapeshifting: The Morphing power, present in various degrees: Amy can change herself superficially; Bakeneko can take any organic form but can't change her mass; Hemming can take any organic or inorganic form within a range of about one-tenth to fifty times his own mass.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Both Amy and Tyche.
  • Showing Off the New Body: Often a response to manifesting the Adonis power.
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few
    • Eudocia gets a d'aww moment when she quotes Harbinger during a time when Brennus is incapacitated.
    • Possibly unintentionally, but Tim and Aimi, have a superficial resemblance to Tucker and Sam.
    • One to Doctor Who when Polymnia made a sonic screwdriver. It only drives screws though.
  • Slave to PR: The United Heroes believe they must to an extent be this for peaceful coexistence between supers and baselines. Hence heroes are encouraged to dress provocatively in order to seem less threatening and heroes like Spellgun play down their Camp Gay attributes.
  • The Spark of Genius: Contrivers can create stuff that only works because of their power. Don’t tell them this, it makes them very upset (and can have catastrophic consequences).
  • Spell Construction: Some contrivers work this way, including Hecate.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Dark. Also the Protege, although he was Named by Democracy.
  • Sphere of Power: Common among Metahumans. Basil will be researching this later.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: Vasiliki and Dalia respectively. You can always expect Vasiliki's prim and proper behavior to play off Dalia's Lovable Sex Maniac antics for a nice laugh.
    • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Outstep has a hint of this with the whole team, with Outstep usually saying something inappropriate and someone slapping him upside his head (with a glowing hand no less).
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Although this may seem true at a glance, the Brennus Character Creation Rules reveal that it's based around emotional ties to metahumans, and whether or not other metahumans are nearby during your manifestation.
  • Superhuman Trafficking: Not uncommon. People with the Adonis trait (especially if it comes with little or nothing else) are targets for sex slavery. Other powers tend to vary depending upon the risk-versus-reward scenario, but the Califate pays top-dollar for Contrivers, and everyone wants a Gadgeteer. Used as a threat by a villain at one point. Amusingly, he threatens to sell Brennus to his sister.
  • Superpower Lottery: While powers are generally related to the cause of manifestation, their strength (and side-effects) vary wildly. Given that With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, people who win the Superpower Lottery often also lose Superpower Russian Roulette, at least mentally. A few examples of people who 'won' the Superpower Lottery, to various degrees:
    • The Protege/Ember.
    • Desolation-in-Light.
    • Tartsche, although a lot of readers won't realize it, is technically Transcendent-tier. Although his power is only active when he's standing still, it is a perfect defense, and he can spread it to envelop anyone he's touching. He also got away with very minor derangements despite such a powerful ability.
    • Gloom Glimmer has a very powerful Adaptive Ability that gives her what it thinks she needs.
    • Queen Madeleine of Australia has seven God-tier powers.
    • As a lesser example, Mindstar has exceptional telepathy and telekinesis - but also has various secondary powers, including clairvoyance, to enhance her main power and shore up weaknesses (such as a line-of-sight requirement). Brennus outright says she won the Superpower Lottery.
  • Superpower Russian Roulette: Not all powers (or side-effects) are good. See With Great Power Comes Great Insanity below for some examples. Additionally, some people get a warped physical form, and others find their perceptions or attractions altered by manifestation. Can result in What Have I Become?, and post-manifestation suicides are not uncommon. Drugs and other things can influence a manifestation, making it far more likely to have negative side effects.
  • Swiss Bank Account: Underbank is mentioned early on as being a neutral party that stores superhuman's money.
  • The Syndicate: Controlled by the Dark, obviously.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Basil has one of these with Ember.
  • Teen Genius: Both Basil and Polymnia.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: There are superpowers in the setting that can do this, but the only Gadgeteer known to have managed to build a teleporter is dead.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, at least for the junior heroes. They are all assigned handlers who are required to take seminars on psychology and help out their wards whenever possible.
    Jason Widard: They were handlers, contacts, foster parents, BFF’s, a shoulder to cry on – whatever the young hero might need.
  • Thicker Than Water: Basil certainly has this view and it seems to be a bit of a theme in the series.
    • Gloom Glimmer, The Dark, and Lady Light frequently have dinner with each other.
    • After finding out they are sisters, Eloise wants to have this kind of relationship with Hennessy, though the latter seems to be avoiding her; they're still on better terms than when they were straight up Arch-Nemesis.
    • Tick-Tock and Boom-Boom are a superhero and supervillain respectively, but they obviously care for each other as siblings. Though they have a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine thing going.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Known as Manifestation, and the powers usually correspond to the trauma. Manifestation itself is just as if not more traumatic than whatever event caused it, and burns itself into the memory.
  • Tunnel Network: The Diggerer was working on one of these before his death.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Downplayed. The world knows how bad the Dark and his syndicate are, but he's so Affably Evil that people tend to forget.
    • It's stated by Wyrm that they work to keep some kind of good image in the public's eye, and that Mindstar's instability works against it.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Generally averts the "school is more difficult part", but Brennus and co. are all in highschool, as are the United Junior Heroes.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: An Ember of Hope is a full-arc flashback/Origin Story. The interludes "End of an Age" and "They Called Us Mad!" are also set in the past.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The chance of having a mental defect rises exponentially with the strength of your power (and is even greater for Contrivers). God-Tier non-contrivers have a derangement chance of seventy-nine percent. Luckily, sixty-eight percent of metahumans fall within the Exemplar (weakest) tier, which has a mental defect chance of less than eleven percent.