AND I THOUGHT THE LAST ONE WAS AMAZING
The best twists are the ones that, in retrospect, make you feel blind for not managing to put the massive clues together, or alternatively, make you feel awesome for figuring it out ahead of time. This was one of the former for me and I loved it, even as it made me feel stupid.
And it was all hinted towards at least as early as the last line of last chapter, which I found really weird. Someone smarter than me could probably tell from that line what was going on (rather than look at the line like a joke that didn’t land mixed with a dramatic ending line that also didn’t land), and end up having a completely different experience of this chapter than I did. I think I would still enjoy this quite a lot if that were the case.
Sometimes it feels great to feel like an idiot.
This was extremely well crafted, with all the alternate options being available for the reader to explain away the various clues as other things, and the way everything comes together when the truth is revealed. Good work, Wildbow. Good fucking work.
The scene with “Brian” brutally manipulating Taylor in order to make her kill Battery was really well done too, though it’s not quite the same with the knowledge that it was actually Jack rather than a heavily mentally compromised Brian. Still, that was fantastically painful.
Cherish was pretty great, apparently trying to worm her way back into the Nine. The Nine could certainly use the numbers right now – they may be down to just the core members, Jack and Bonesaw, unless healing Siberian in ways Bonesaw can’t is part of why they’re tracking down Amy. In retrospect, that’s unlikely, since Bonesaw can do a lot.
The fight at the end had some good moves on both sides – the initial Bonesaw shield was a particularly good one – and really helped to set up the tension for the next chapter.
Next chapter, it’s time to visit Arcadia High, Taylor fighting the Nine as they move bottom to top in search of Amy and presumably Victoria Dallon. How tall is it, I wonder?
Obviously the Nine aren’t going to succeed here. We genuinely do need Amy to survive and I’m sure Wildbow isn’t going to let this mist kill off most of his characters. (I’m working off the assumption that Bonesaw was telling the truth about what the prions would eventually do, because Bonesaw would be compelled to brag about her art.) We also need a way to get rid of the mist, for that matter. Maybe Bonesaw has something on her that can remove it, if you can get it?
I’m thinking Bonesaw will die soon, but Jack may escape and make a break for the city limits. I don’t think it matters as much as everyone in-universe thinks whether he gets out of the city or not (in fact it might be worse if he doesn’t, as the characters get lulled into a false sense of security for the next two years), but he thinks it does and wants to see how. It also becomes a matter of survival when the girl who’s gonna “make sure he [survives]”… doesn’t.
Hm. I suppose if the news say that Jack’s dead, that would remove Theo’s motivation to become a hero quickly. Maybe it’s not as irrelevant as it might seem.
Of course, that’s all assuming my theory is correct. If it isn’t, well, then it matters a lot whether Jack gets out or not. In which case I’m pretty sure he’ll get out.
So yeah! Hella good chapter, A+. See you next time!