Interlude 2: Glory Girl and Panacea

Source material: Worm, Interlude 2

Originally blogged: April 2-6, 2017


[This was a reblog of the intro post from the April Fool’s chapter.]

Oh hey, looks like that was the end of Insinuation! Makes sense; that wham line at the end of the previous chapter is a pretty good thing to end the arc with.

So we’re heading into another interlude, as I sort of expected would happen when the arc ended. I wonder, will it continue what Interlude 1 started by having a different perspective character? And if so, who will it be? I’ve previously suggested a few candidates – one of the Undersiders, their mysterious “boss” or even one of the antagonists – Bakuda, Oni Lee or even Rottendick, uh, I mean, Lung.

I guess all I can do is read and find out!


…for real this time. 😉


There were very few things, in Victoria Dallon’s estimation, that were cooler than flying.

So, wait, we’re actually starting off the Interlude by introducing a character by name right off the bat?

Victoria Dallon, huh? Sounds kinda Western-y, like someone you might meet in a salloon. Able to shoot your finger off, exactly the finger she wants to, before you can even see the gun.

The invisible forcefield that extended a few millimeters over her skin and clothes just made it better.

Reminds me of Halo from Grrl Power (a comic which happens to share Worm’s penchant for creative powersets), who usually puts a shield around herself when she goes flying. Probably a good idea if you’re gonna fly at high speeds, really.

The field kept the worst of the chill from touching her, but still let her feel the wind on her skin and in her hair. Bugs didn’t splat against her face like they did against car windshields, even when she was pushing eighty miles an hour.

Perfect. Gets rid of the uncomfortable stuff but lets you feel the fun part.


Spotting her target, she whooped and plunged for the ground, gaining speed where anyone else would be slowing down. She hit the asphalt hard enough to crack it and send fragments of it into the air, touching ground with her knee and foot, one arm extended.

Yikes! That’s quite some force you’ve got there!

She stayed in that kneeling position for just heartbeats, letting her platinum curls and the cape that was draped over one of her shoulders flutter in the wake of air that had followed her descent. She met the eyes of her quarry with a steely glare.

This is a woman who’s practiced in looking cool as she arrives.

Even if it’s at the expense of local infrastructure. The paving services probably have a lot to do in Brockton Bay and other parahuman-heavy cities.

So far, I’m guessing Victoria is a member of the Protectorate?

She’d practiced that landing for weeksto get it right.

Told ya!

The man was a twenty something Caucasian with a shaved head, a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, jeans and work boots. He took one look at her and bolted.

Well I mean, even if you were innocent… wouldn’t you?


Victoria grinned as he disappeared down the far end of the alley. She rose from her kneeling position, dusted herself off and ran her fingers through her hair to tidy it. Then she raised herself a foot off the ground and flew after him at an easy forty five miles an hour.

Very casual.

Very cool.

I’m already liking her.

It didn’t take a minute to catch him, even with the head start she had given him. She flew just past him, grazing him. An instant later, she came to a dead stop, facing him. Again, the wind made for a dramatic flourish as it stirred her hair, her cape and the skirt of her costume.

She really has a taste for the dramatic, that much is clear.

Though… are you sure a skirt is a good idea when one of your powers is flight?


“The woman you attacked was named Andrea Young,” she spoke.

Ooh, are we going for a “the victim was a person too, don’t you care about that” guilt trip here?

…”was”. Was the attack lethal?

The man looked over his shoulder, as if gauging his escape routes.

“Don’t even think about it, fugly,” she told him,

fugly

I know this was written in 2011, but come on, Victoria. “fugly” was never cool.

“You know I’d catch you, and trust me, I’m already pissed off enough without you wasting my time.”

You don’t sound pissed off, but that’s probably because I can read your narration… But yeah, another classic psychological attack, the “you’re a waste of my talents”.

“I didn’t do anything,” the man snarled.

Victoria seems awfully certain that you did.


“Andrea Young!” Victoria raised her voice. As she shouted, she exercised her power.

Yeah, I figured flight wouldn’t be her only power. That’s not how this setting works.

The man quailed as though she’d slapped him.

…Is her power something like “cause minor pain”?

“A black college student was beaten so badly she needed medical attention!

The way Victoria points out that Andrea was black makes it sound like she considers that information noteworthy. By extension, it makes it sound like we’ll be touching on some race issues in the story, which to be honest isn’t all that surprising, what with how other social issues are being touched on.

Wait, what am I saying? Of course there are race issues in the story – one of the main villains so far is amassing a gang where the only criterion for entry is Asian descent, for one thing. I guess what I mean is we’ll be touching on some of the issues between white and black people.

Her teeth were knocked out! You’re trying to tell me that you, a skinhead with swollen knuckles,

Oh shit, yeah, the fact that she was black really matters.

someone who was in the crowd watching paramedics arrive with an expression bordering on glee, you didn’t do anything!?”

She has a point.


“I didn’t do nothing worth caring about,” he sneered. His bravado was tempered by a second look over his shoulder, as though he’d very much like to be elsewhere right that moment.

Wreck his shit for me, please.

And especially for Andrea.

She flew forward, her fists catching him by the collar. For just a moment, she contemplated slamming him up against a wall. It would have been fitting and satisfying to shove him hard enough against the brick to crack it, then drop him into the dumpster that sat at the wall’s base.

Human trash.

Wait, human?


Instead, she pulled up a little, bringing the two of them to a stop. They were now just high enough above the ground that he’d feel uncomfortable with the height.

That’s a nice height, yeah.

The dumpster, mostly empty, was directly below him, but she doubted he was paying attention to anything but her.

Heh, all the better if he’s surprised to find himself in there.

“I think it’s a safe bet to say you’re a member of Empire Eighty-Eight,” she told him, meeting his eyes with a hard stare, “or at least, you’ve got some friends who are.

I guess the Empire Eighty-Eight are a white supremacist gang, then. Ew.

So here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to either tell me everything the triple-E’s have been up to, or I’m going to break your arms and legs and then you’re going to tell me everything.”

Victoria, internally: squeeee i’m being so cool right now

But yeah, using this guy as an informant is probably a good idea.

As she spoke, she ratcheted up her power. She knew it was working when he started squirming just to avoid her gaze.

Put fear into people? Is that what her power does?


“Fuck you, you can’t touch me. There’s laws against that shit,” he blustered, staring fixedly over one shoulder.

I suppose when parahumans have been around for thirty or so years, it’s to be expected that there’d be laws for how they interact with civilians by now.

She turned up her power another notch. Her body thrummed with current – waves of energy that anyone in her presence would experience as an emotional charge of awe and admiration.

I was close! So her power, besides flight, is basically looking supernaturally cool.

For those with a reason to be afraid of her, it would be a feeling of raw intimidation instead.

I was close enough to be half-right, it seems.

Awe/admiration and intimidation are closely connected. I haven’t played enough to even get close to the required levels, but I think D&D 5e does something similar with certain high level transformation abilities, where you can choose to make others either admire you or fear you. Don’t cite me on that, though.


“Last chance,” she warned him.

Unfortunately, fear affected everyone differently.

Hm, yeah. If there’s one thing that makes people act irrationally without mind-altering substances, it’s fear.

As well as anger. Those two emotions aren’t always as separate as they may seem.

For this particular asshole, it just made him dig in his heels and become obstinate.

Oh cod dammit, this guy is just determined to be #not helpful.

She could see it in his body language before he opened his mouth – this was the sort of guy who reacted to anything that spooked or unsettled him with an almost mindless refusal to bend.

Not exactly a solid survival instinct, really. What did I say about acting irrationally?


“Lick my hairy, sweaty balls,” he snarled, before punctuating it with a spat, “Cunt.”

Ew, no thanks.

She threw him. Since she could bench press a cement mixer, though it was hard to balance something so large and unwieldy, even a casual toss on her part could get some good distance.

Pfft, I love that little aside in the middle about the impracticality of the task. Not only because you don’t really expect that after that sort of claim, but also because it implies she’s tried.

A cement mixer is also an oddly specific kind of vehicle to refer to. She’s definitely tried.

He flew a good twenty five or thirty yards down the back road before hitting the asphalt, and rolled for another ten.

Yikes, that’s gonna hurt in the morning.

He was utterly for still for long enough that Victoria had begun to worry that he’d somehow snapped his neck or broken his spine as he’d rolled. She was relieved when he groaned and began to pull himself to his feet.

You regular humans are so fragile.


“Ready to talk?” she asked him, her voice carrying down the alley. She didn’t move forward from where she hovered in the air, but she did let herself drop closer to the ground.

It helps her seem more…

down to earth


Pressing one hand against his leg to support himself as he straightened up, he raised his other hand and flipped her the bird, then turned and began to limp down the alley.

…heh.

What was this asshole thinking? That she would just let him go? That, what, she would just bend to his witless lack of self preservation?

Hey look, she’s calling him out on his poor survival instincts too!

That she was helpless to do any real harm to him? To top it off, he was going to insult her and try to walk away?

Yeeah this guy isn’t going anywhere.


“Screw you too,” she hissed through her teeth. Then she kicked the dumpster below her hard enough to send it flying down the little road. It rotated lazily through the air as it arced towards the retreating figure, the trajectory and rotation barely changing as it knocked him flat. It skidded to a halt three to five yards beyond him, the metal sides of the dumpster squealing and sparking as it scraped against the asphalt.

Ow.

Serves the asshole right though.

This time, he didn’t get up.

Then again… let’s hope he’s just unconscious.

“Fuck,” she swore, “Fuckity fuck fuck.”

Beautiful vocabulary 🙂

She flew to him and checked for a pulse. She sighed, and then headed to the nearest street. She found the street address, grabbed her cell from her belt and dialed.

Sighed in relief, or resignation?

“Hey sis? Yeah, I found him. That’s, uh, sort of the problem. Yeah. Look, I’m sorr- ok, can we talk about this later? Yeah. I’m at Spayder and Rock, there’s this little road that runs behind the buildings. Downtownish, yeah. Yeah? Thanks.”

Yeah. Yeah? Yeah.

I like this phone call; it feels realistic.


Victoria returned to the unconscious skinhead,

Relief it is!

checked his pulse,

Can never be too sure. In fact, it’s recommended that you check the pulse of yourself and everyone around you at least five times daily. I’ve been skirting that a bit lately.

and listened intently for changes in his breathing. It took a very long five minutes for her sister to arrive.

Now what is this other Dallon going to be like?

Come to think of it, I still don’t know much about, like, which age group Victoria is in or anything like that. I’m imagining her as rather young, but she could just as easily be around Taylor’s age as around Armsy’s.

Then again, she did use “fugly”.

Again, Victoria?” the voice disturbed her from her contemplations.

Apparently excessive force isn’t unheard of from Victoria.

“Use my codename, please,” Victoria told the girl.

Ooh, what is it going to be? Angel? …Alexandria?

Also, Sis Dallon is described as a “girl” rather than woman, and they sound like they’re about the same age so far.


Her sister was as different from her as night was from day. Where Victoria was beautiful, tall, gorgeous, blonde, Amy was mousy.

It’s pretty obvious that Victoria has a very different self-image than Taylor does. Beautiful and gorgeous?

Victoria’s costume showed off her figure, with a white one-piece dress that came to mid-thigh (with shorts underneath) an over-the shoulder cape, high boots and a golden tiara with spikes radiating from it, vaguely reminiscent of the sun’s rays or the statue of liberty.

Sounds cool! Heh, and addressing the skirt-in-flight situation with some parenthetical modesty shorts.

Amy’s costume, by contrast, was only a shade away from being a burka.

Heh.

So how literal are we going with the night and day comparison? Are their powers actually themed around that? Awe-inspiring, strong and high up in the sky are all features that can be tied to the sun, Victoria’s outfit is bright with spikes that are “vaguely reminiscent of the sun’s rays”, and Amy is more subdued (”mousy”) and shrouded, like the world at night…

Amy wore a robe with a large hood and a scarf that covered the lower half of her face. The robe was alabaster white and had a medic’s red cross on the chest and the back.

Alabaster white isn’t very night-y, though.

I guess Amy’s power involves healing? Makes sense that Victoria would call her down here, then.


“Our identities are public,” Amy retorted, pushing the hood back and scarf down to reveal brown frizzy hair and a face with freckles spaced evenly across it.

“It’s the principle of the thing,” Victoria replied.

Hehe.

“You want to talk about principles, Glory Girl?” Amy asked, in the most sarcastic tone she could manage,

Oh, hey, Victoria is Glory Girl! Nice. It fits very nicely.

A glory in religion is divine presence as perceived by humans, and is often represented by bright things. It can also mean a full-body halo, essentially a glow around one’s entire body – even more brightness. Informally, it’s also used sometimes to refer to a halo above someone’s head, and what is Glory Girl wearing? A golden tiara, a ring on top of her head reminiscent of light.

And what did halos and glories represent, even before the Abrahamic religions started using them? People and beings to revere. Heroes, rulers, saints, angels, deities… It’s a perfect fit.


“This is the sixth – sixth! – time you’ve nearly killed someone. That I know about!”

How long have these two been in the business of hero work? After a while, the “people I almost killed” count tends to get rather high.

“I’m strong enough to lift a SUV over my head,” Victoria muttered, “It’s hard to hold back all the time.”

A SUV. Not a “car”, not a “truck”. A SUV. How often does she go out of her way to lift vehicles from the ground for fun?

“I’m sure Carol would buy that line,” Amy said, making it clear in her tone she wasn’t, “But I know you better than anyone.

Now who’s Carol? Presumably a higher-up of theirs, I’d imagine.

Victoria did let herself get taunted by the skinhead, to some extent. There were other ways to stop him from leaving, such as simply picking him up again.

If you’re having trouble holding back, the problem isn’t here -” she poked Victoria in the bicep. “It’s here-” she jabbed her sister in the forehead, hard. Victoria didn’t even blink.

Exactly.


“Look, can you just fix him?” Victoria pleaded.

“I’m thinking I shouldn’t,” Amy said, quietly.

“What?”

It’s not really fair to the skinhead to leave him suffering to teach Victoria a lesson, but it isn’t exactly fair to beat someone up because they’re black either, so it kinda cancels out.

“There’s consequences, Vicky. If I help you now, what’s going to stop you from doing it again? I can call the paramedics. I know some good people from the hospital. They could probably fix him up alright.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Victoria said, “That’s not funny. He goes to the hospital, people ask questions.”

Victoria isn’t really concerned about the skinhead, she just wants to save her own ass.

“Yeah, I’m well aware,” Amy said, her voice hushed.

“This isn’t, like, me getting grounded. I’d get pulled into court on charges of aggravated assault and battery.

I mean, you are guilty, so I’m not really going to sympathize with you on that one. I get why you did it and I don’t really feel sorry for the guy, but it’s, you know, principles.

That doesn’t just fuck with me. It fucks with our family, all of New Wave. Everything we’ve struggled to build.”

Ah, not the Protectorate, then. New Wave. Hm, what did I say about them again?

From my comments during 2.2:

“The Guild and New Wave are new names… It sounds like the Guild doesn’t have a “local team” in the same way as New Wave, the Wards and the Protectorate, which suggests to me that the Guild is exclusively local, while New Wave, like the Protectorate and the Wards, has other teams outside Brockton Bay.

Judging by the name, I’m guessing New Wave might be a group that has broken off from another (the Protectorate?) on account of less traditional views.”

I didn’t get much to go on back then.

Anyway, it sounds like New Wave isn’t all that large, if a single charge of aggravated assault and battery is enough to fuck with all of it, but we do know there are teams of the group outside Brockton Bay.


Amy frowned and looked at the fallen man..

“I know you’re not keen on the superhero thing, but you’d really go that far? You’d do that to us? To me?”

Amy does seem… way less excited about the whole thing than Victoria, but I’d been chalking that up to the way we’re meeting her in a situation that has her annoyed.

Which reminds me, Victoria talks of “our family” in the previous paragraph. Are all of the Dallons parahumans? Or maybe New Wave has a “we’re all family here” sort of deal going on. It’s not guaranteed that Amy and Victoria are actually blood relatives, then.

Amy pointed a finger at her sister, “That’s not me. It’s not my fault we’re at this point. It’s you. You’re crossing the line, going too far. Which is exactly what people who criticize New Wave are scared of. We’re not government sponsored.

Hmm, I see. Contrary to the Protectorate, which was formed via an arrangement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, New Wave is more of a private organization, which would put them closer to vigilante status as far as the government and critics are concerned.

We’re not protected or organized or regulated in the same way.

And vigilantes are harder to control and thus harder to trust.

Everyone knows who we are under our masks. That means we have to be accountable.

I’m guessing this is an organization-wide decision that’s been made specifically to prevent them from going too far, or entirely rogue, and to gain the public’s trust.

The responsible thing for me to do, as a member of this team, is to let the paramedics take him, and let the law do as it sees fit.”

Amy does have a point.


Victoria abruptly pulled Amy into a hug. Amy resisted for a moment, then let her arms go limp at her sides.

“This isn’t just a team, Ames,” Victoria told her, “We’re a family. We’re your family.”

More support towards the “New Wave is ‘one big family’” hypothesis!

The man lying just a matter of feet away stirred, then groaned, long and loud.

“Hi, I’m here.”

“My adoptive family,” Amy mumbled into Victoria’s shoulder, “And stop trying to use your frigging power to make me all squee over how amazing you are. Doesn’t work. I’ve been exposed so long I’m immune.”

Heh.

And I guess that confirms it; Amy and Victoria aren’t related by blood.

“It hurts,” the man moaned.

“Hi, I’m still here…… anyone?”

“I’m not using my power, dumbass,” Victoria told Amy, letting her go, “I’m hugging my sister. My awesome, caring and merciful sister.”

D’aw, they’re cute.

The man whined, louder, “I can’t move. I feel cold.”

“Hi, I’m literally dyin’ over here, do either of you care?”

“Nah”


Amy frowned at Victoria, “I’ll heal him. But this is the last time.”

Victoria beamed, “Thank you.”

And thus, a compromise was once again reached through the ancient and magnificent power… of hugs.

But seriously, hugs are great.


Amy leaned over the man and touched her hand to his cheek, “Slingshot break to his ribs, fractured clavicle, broken mandible, broken scapula, fractured sternum, bruised lung, broken ulna, broken radius -“

“I get the point,” Victoria said.

Pfft.

“Do you?” Amy asked. Then she sighed, “I wasn’t even halfway down the list. This is going to take a little while. Sit?”

So while we’re waiting, what is Amy’s codename? Aegis, as a defender (presumably), would fit somewhat, but I don’t see her being someone the Undersiders need to feel threatened by, or someone Taylor’s bugs can’t defeat.

Victoria crossed her legs and assumed a sitting position, floating a half foot above the ground.

Very zen!

Amy just knelt where she was and rested her hand on the man’s cheek. The tension went out of his body and he relaxed.

“How’s the woman? Andrea?”

I assume that’s Victoria asking.

“Better than ever, physically,” Amy replied, “I grew her new teeth, fixed everything from the bruising to the scrapes, and even gave her a head to toe tune-up.

Heh, nice.

Incidentally, one of the line breaks in the original text (when squished by my split-screen setup) ended up after the word “head”, so for a moment it looked like Amy “even gave her a head.”

Physically, she’ll feel on top of the world, like she had been to a spa and had the best nutritionist, best fitness expert and the best doctor all looking after her for a straight month.”

“Good,” Victoria said.

That is quite good. But physical isn’t the only kind of damage you can cause.

“Mentally? Emotionally? It’s up to her to deal with the aftermath of a beating. I can’t affect the brain.”

“Well-” Victoria started to speak.

“Yeah, yeah. Not can’t. Won’t.

I can understand the hesitation. There’s a fine line between mental healing and mind control / brainwashing.

It’s complicated and I don’t trust myself not to screw something up when I’m tampering with someone’s head. That’s it, that’s all.”

And that’s another valid concern.


Victoria started to say something, then shut her mouth. Even if they weren’t related by blood, they were sisters.

And here I thought it was as confirmed as it was going to be.

Only sisters could have these sorts of recurring arguments. They had gone through a dozen different variations on this argument before.

Not surprising, really, though I’m not sure I agree with “only sisters”. I’ve had more recurring arguments with other family members than with my sister, and I’m not even a sister myself.

As far as she was concerned, Amy was doing herself a disservice by not practicing using her powers on the brain. It was only a matter of time before her sister found herself in a situation where she needed to do some emergency brain surgery and found herself incapable. Amy, for her part, refused to even discuss it.

I guess “you’ll never get good enough if you never try” is a reasonable argument, but it rarely feels satisfying.

She didn’t want to raise a sensitive issue when Amy was in the process of doing her a major favor. To change the subject, Victoria asked, “Is it cool if I question him?”

“Might as well,” Amy sighed.

Gonna be harder for him to limp away this time. Hey, if he’s more talkative now, I guess “or I’m going to break your arms and legs and then you’re going to tell me everything” is about to come true!


[session break]


Victoria tapped the man a few times on the forehead to get his attention. He could barely move his head, but his eyes lolled in her direction.

Knock knock, anybody home?

“Ready to answer my questions, or do me and my sister just walk away and leave you like this?”

“I… sue you, he gasped out, then managed an added, “Whore.”

I guess he’ll have trouble providing proof that it happened. There haven’t been any mentions of witnesses, if I remember correctly.

(For those of you reading archivally – as of this post, it’s a few days later, so I might not remember everything from earlier in the chapter perfectly. In this particular instance I’d probably be unsure even if there wasn’t a gap, though.)


“Try it. I’d just love to see a skinhead with a few broken bones go up against a superheroine whose mom just happens to be one of the best lawyers in Brockton Bay. You know her, right?”

“Brandish,” he said.

Yeah, it’s gonna be hard to sway the jury on this one. Or judge. I don’t know if this kind of case would have a jury or not.

“That’s her name in costume. Normally she’s Carol Dallon. She’d kick your ass in court, believe me,” Victoria said. Shebelieved it.

I’m still not sure how literal the treatment of the New Wave as a family is, besides the adoption of Amy. It seems there’s at least one (probably) biological mom-daughter relationship within the group, though.

Does Brandish have an actual power? Because that raises some questions about the inheritability of parahuman abilities.

What the thug didn’t understand was that even if he lost the case, the media circus that would be stirred up would do more damage than anything else. But she didn’t need to inform him of that.

True. The media doesn’t care what the jury and/or judge think so much as the fact that the case is up at all.

She asked him, “So do I get my sister to leave you as you are, or are you willing to trade some information for relief from months of incredible pain and a lifetime of arthritis and stiffness in your bones?”

It’s like a backwards threat of violence. Maim first, blackmail later.

I can’t imagine Amy is particularly pleased with this tactic.

“And erectile dysfunction,” Amy said, just loud enough for the thug to hear her,

Pfft, or she’ll contribute!

“Superheroes causing villains dick troubles” count: 2

“You fractured your ninth vertebra. That’s going to affect all nerve function in extremities below your waist. If I leave you like you are, your toes will always feel a little numb, and you’ll have a hell of a time getting it up, if you know what I mean.”

My dad actually has a similar issue with his toes, as a result of a car accident in the eighties… he’s, uh, never mentioned anything about his, shall we say… higher extremities.


The skinhead’s eyes widened a fraction, “You’re fucking with me.”

“I have an honorary medical license,” Amy told him, her expression solemn, “I’m not allowed to fuck with you about stuff like that. Hippocratic oath.”

Honestly, the most surprising thing about this is that the medical license is “honorary”. Amy clearly knows what she’s talking about and ought to qualify for a regular license.

“Isn’t that ‘do no harm’?” the thug asked.

Fucking with people about medical issues can constitute doing harm. Besides, aren’t there more details in the oath?

Then he groaned, long, loud and with the slightest rattle in his breath, as she removed her hand from his body.

“That’s just the first part of it, like how freedom of speech and the right to bear arms is just the first part of a very long constitution.

Yeah, exactly.

It doesn’t look like he’s cooperating, Glory Girl. Should we go?”

Amy may care about people’s health… I think… but she’s definitely a cold one at times.


“Fuck!” the man shouted, then winced, tenderly touching his side with one hand, “I’ll tell you. Please, just… do what you were doing. Touch me and make the pain go away, put me back together. Fix me?”

Finally his stubbornness wore out!

Amy touched him. He relaxed, and then he started talking.

Now this could hold some interesting information. We’ve been building up towards this throughout basically the entire chapter, after all.

“Empire Eighty-Eight is extending into the Docks on Kaiser’s orders. Lung’s in custody, and whatever happens, the ABB is weaker than it was. That means there’s territory for grabs, and the Empire sure ain’t making progress downtown.”

We’re seeing larger-scale consequences of Taylor’s actions. That’s what ties this Interlude to her story!

So the Docks are going to have some new folks coming in, and I doubt the Empire is the only group interested. Taylor might’ve indirectly turned the Docks into (even more of) a villain warzone by defeating Lung.

As for the last part of the quote,

“Why not?” Victoria asked him.

Victoria and I appear to be in sync.


“This guy, Coil. Don’t know what his powers are,

Hmm… I’m guessing something involving electromagnetism, based on the name.

but he’s got a private army. Ex-military, all of ’em. At least fifty, Kaiser said, and every one of ’em has top notch gear. Their armor’s better than kevlar. You shoot ’em, they’re back up in a few seconds. ‘Least when you shoot a pig, you can be pretty sure you broke a few ribs.

He might be a Tinker specializing in armor, I suppose. Like Iron Man, except villainous and providing the armor to his henchmen.

At least I’m assuming he’s villainous, until indicated otherwise.

But that’s not the fucked up thing. These guys? They’ve got these lasers hooked up to the machine guns they carry around. If they don’t think bullets are doing it, or if they’re after people who are behind cover, they fire off these purple laser beams that can cut through steel. Tear through any cover you’re standing behind and burn through you too.”

Yeah, that’s not exactly hero behavior.

Also, my Iron Man comparison seems to have been more apt than I thought!


“Yeah. I know about him. His methods get expensive,” Victoria said, “Top of the line soldiers, top of the line gear.”

So does he train soldiers, recruit people who already have experience as soldiers, or create soldiers? It would make sense for a Tinker going for the army to make robots– oh wait, I just glanced back at what I just read and the skinhead said “Ex-military, all of ‘em.” Whoops, never mind me then.

The thug nodded weakly, “But even with money to burn, he’s fighting us over Downtown territories.

Why would the money suggest otherwise?

Also, the skinhead is finally admitting that he’s personally a member of the E88 – “he’s fighting us”.

Constant tug of war, neither of us making much headway. Been going on for months.

This really says something about the strength of E88. They’re strong enough to stand their ground against a small army of ex-military soldiers with super advanced gear, though not strong enough to make much progress against them.

So Kaiser thinks we should take the Docks now that the ABB are on the outs, gain some ground somewhere easier. Don’t know any more than that, as far as his plans.”

I believe the skinhead when he says that’s all he knows. He seems to be very open right now.

“Who else is up to something? Faultline?”

“The bitch with the freaks in her crew? She’s a mercenary, different goals. But maybe.

Okay, that’s interesting. Faultline’s Crew consists of what the skinhead considers “freaks”, but what does that actually mean to him? It could be basically anything from “weird parahumans” to “black people and Jews”.

That said, I’m leaning heavily towards the former.

Also, she’s apparently a mercenary. In such a role, she’s probably best off staying as neutral as possible between the other villains, taking money to help them out but not showing any particular leanings. It’s also a bit scary that regular civilians with a villainous bent could probably hire her crew against their personal enemies.

If she wanted to branch out, now would be the time to do it. With her rep, she’d even do alright.”

Staying neutral or even amicable with most other villains would certainly help avoid conflicts if she were to branch out.


“Then who? There’s a power vacuum in the docks. Kaiser’s declared he wants to seize it, but I’m willing to bet he’s warned you about others making a play.”

The skinhead laughed, then winced, “Are you dense, girl? Everyone’s going to make a play. It’s not just the major gangs and teams that are looking for a slice of the pie, there. It’s everyone.

Yeah, thought so. Damn, Taylor, you’ve sure set some shit into motion in the world of Brockton Bay villainy! Well done.

The Docks are ripe for the taking. The location’s worth as much money as you’d get downtown. It’s the go to place if you want to buy black market. Sex, drugs, violence.

Huh. Makes sense, I suppose – the legal economy isn’t going well in the Docks, so people turn to the illegal economy.

And the locals are already used to paying protection money.

Pfft, I just imagine some villain, in full costume, knocking on some random Dock resident’s door, holding a collection bucket. The Dock resident is just like “Oh, another one. Hang on, I’ll go see what I can find.” and the villain’s like “Thank you, sir, I’ll just wait here then.”

All in all a tidy transaction.

It’s just a matter of changing who they pay to. The Docks are rich territory, and we’re talking the potential for a full scale fucking war over it.”

Yeah, this is a pretty big deal.


He looked up at the blond superheroine and laughed. Her lips set into a firm line.

He continued, “You want to know my guess? Empire Eighty Eight is going to take the biggest slice of the Docks, because we’re strong enough to.

I actually don’t get the sense that he’s overestimating his own group’s power here.

Coil’s going to stick his thumb in just to spite us, ABB is going to hold on to some. But you’re also going to have a bunch of the little guys trying to take something for themselves. Über and Leet, Circus, the Undersiders, Squealer, Trainwreck, Stain, others you’ve never heard of?

The cast list is rapidly expanding. Lemme take a guess at the newcomers’ powers.

Squealer… transforms into a mouse.

Stain… is really good at laundry.

Trainwreck…

likes trains.


“Come on, Panacea,” Victoria said as she stood up, touched ground with her boots and brushed her skirt straight, “We’ve gotten enough.”

A wild Amy codename appears!

I’m not sure what Panacea means, but I’m sure it’s related to healing and medicine in some way. Might be the genus of some form of painkiller?

“You sure? I’m not done yet,” Amy told her.

Victoria presumably wants to punish the guy for finding the pain of the civilians funny.

“You fixed the bruises and scrapes, broken bones?” Everything that could get her in trouble, in other words.

“Yeah, but I didn’t fix everything,” Amy replied.

“Good enough,” Victoria decided.

Yeah, pretty much. Victoria still doesn’t care for this guy’s well-being as long as she doesn’t get in trouble.

“Hey!” the skinhead shouted, “The deal was you’d fix me if I talked!

She also doesn’t seem to care much for honoring deals made with villains.

Did you fix my cock?”

Ahahahaha this guy’s got priorities

He tried to struggle to get to his feet, but his legs buckled under him, “Hey! I can’t fuckin’ walk! I’ll fucking sue you!”

I’m guessing they just need a moment to adjust.

Victoria’s expression changed in an instant, and her power flooded out, blindsiding the thug. For an instant, his eyes were like those of a panicked horse, all whites, rolling around, unfocused.

Woah, Victoria, what are you up to now?

Remember, this guy only gets more stubborn from fear!

She grabbed him by the shirt collar, lifted him up and growled into his ear, her voice just above a whisper, “Try it. My sister just healed you… most of you, with a touch. Did you ever wonder what else she could do? Ever think, maybe, she could break you just as easily? Or change the color of your skin, you racist fuck? I’ll tell you this, I’m not half as scary as my little sister is.”

…she says while paranaturally boosting her scariness.

I’m not sure if Panacea can actually reverse her power like Victoria is implying here, but it would make her extremely deadly if she went villainous.

She let him go. He collapsed in a heap on the ground.

As the two sisters walked away, Victoria pulled her cell phone out of a pouch on her belt with her free hand. Turning to Amy, she said, “Thank you.”

“Play safe, Victoria. I can’t bring people back from the dead, and once you’ve gone that far…”

A restriction that is more commonly than not on the healer powerset. From a narrative standpoint or any viewpoint that comes with belief in a soul, that makes a whole lot of sense.

From a materialist point of view, however, it actually seems a little bit strange. The way I see it, a human body is a biological robot, and a mechanical robot that isn’t working at all can often still be fixed and work once again. If there’s nothing (i.e. no soul) that leaves the body once it stops working, then if the body is repaired sufficiently, the person ought to be just as alive as before.

Most of us think of death as a fixed point of no return, but is it really?


“I’ll be good. I’ll be better,” Victoria promised as she dialed with one hand.

She’s kind of demonstrated throughout the chapter that she isn’t entirely a “good” person (but who really is). Being “better” is a solid start.

She put the phone to her ear, “Hello? Emergency services? Requesting special line. New Wave, Glory Girl. Incapacitated criminal for you to pick up, no powers. No, no rush, I can hold.”

I like how professionalized this has become.

Looking over her shoulder, Victoria noted the thug, still floundering and half-crawling, “He’s not going to get up?”

“He’ll be numb from the waist down for another three hours. His left arm will be iffy for about that long, too, so he’s not going to move unless he can drag himself somewhere with just one limb. He’ll also have numb toes for a good month or so, too,” Amy smiled.

You might have stopped a little bit early, but oh well.

“You didn’t actually…”

“No. Nothing was broken, and I didn’t screw up anything, beyond a temporary numbness. But he doesn’t know that.

Pfft.

Fear and doubt will complete the effect, and the suggestion becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.”

Ahahaha, yeah. “Oh god what if I can’t get it up” *dick flops down as flaccidly as possible*

“Amy!” Victoria laughed, hugging her sister with one arm, “Weren’t you just saying you weren’t going to mess with people’s heads?”

Hehe. Sometimes you don’t need powers to do that.

It kind of reminds me of Terezi and Vriska from Homestuck. Vriska has literal mind control, but Terezi, with no powers, is a way better manipulator.


End of Interlude 2

That was a fun chapter! Victoria and Amy have just the right balance of heroism and being kinda bad people, and a lot of personality. It made them quite a treat to follow.

We’ve also learned a lot about New Wave, Empire Eighty-Eight and the general villainous… I wouldn’t really say community, per se… population? of Brockton Bay. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve been given some perspective on just how much impact Taylor’s actions in Gestation are about to have. We have a war on our hands, guys. Only question is whether it’ll be villain versus villain, or villains versus heroes.

Either way, it sounds like exciting things are coming up in the story, and I’m very much looking forward to them.

See you in whatever the next Arc is called!

(#don’t tell me)

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