Source material: Worm, Agitation 3.10
Originally blogged: June 4, 2017
Liveblog starting three posts from now!
Whoops, I forgot to count this one
Here we go!
Wait, shit, that was an extra post. Let’s start the countdown again…
oh shit here we go
Last time, we got another glimpse into what sort of horrors Taylor is able and willing to do if she thinks she “has to”. She has incapacitated Clockblocker, but there are still six more heroes to possibly traumatize forever before the Undersiders can leave the bank.
I don’t expect we’ll be focusing much on Aegis this chapter. He got quite a bit of screentime last chapter, but I think Rachel has that part of the battle under control. It’s time to move on to a different hero.
I guess Vista could be Taylor’s next target, but it would make sense to save her for last because she’s currently the one keeping the battle contained (if my interpretation of what she did in 3.9 is correct). Maybe we’ll see Taylor versus Kid Win, and perhaps Regent versus Gallant?
One way to find out
Six good guys were still in action, as far as I knew. Clockblocker was down, and posed no threat unless someone walked into his reach where he was lying down, or unless we took longer than the ten or so minutes it would take his power to release him.
Honestly, if he can collect himself enough to fight again that soon after 1) what Taylor just did, 2) lying for ten or so minutes with every available orifice (including under the fucking eyelids wtf taylor) filled by frozen, immobile insects and 3) said insects coming back to life, and not all at the same time, then DAMN does he deserve the title of hero.
Angelica and Brutus were playing a macabre game of tug of war, using Aegis as the rope.
Sounds brutal, but he’s still better off than Clockblocker.
The rest of the battlefield was chaos. Patches of darkness covered everything, and the landscape was distorted. In some of the areas Vista had warped, the rain wasn’t falling in a straight line. One spot in particular had the rain moving horizontally before it dropped to help fill a massive puddle thirty feet across, where her power had made an indent in the ground.
Heh. I bet it resolves to a straight line from the rain’s own perspective.
Aegis and Clockblocker were more or less dealt with. As Vista was the last remaining priority target, I directed my remaining swarm towards her.
Well then. Guess I should’ve stuck to my hunch!
This could get interesting.
They wouldn’t reach her quickly though, as the rain bogged them down, and both puddles and distorted space forced a more roundabout route for the bugs.
And if she notices their approach, she can just expand the space between them even more.
Bitch, still riding Judas, came rushing out of a cloud of darkness, splashing through the huge puddle. Kid Win and Gallant opened fire on her with laser beams and painfully bright blasts of energy. She was moving fast and unpredictably enough that Judas only took one or two glancing hits.
Laser toys are generally for cats, guys!
This does suggest that Kid Win and Gallant are sticking together to some degree, which I think serves to strengthen the already noted similarity to Iron Man and the Iron Patriot.
The distance between her and Vista rapidly closed.
Oh, so she is going for Vista after all. But a girl on a hellhound rushing towards you is probably more noticeable than a swarm of bugs.
Vista raised her hand, and the surface of the street bulged upward into a short wall. As it grew, the wall caught one of Judas’ forepaws, tripping him. He fell, and his rider was sent tumbling head over heels.
Ouch. You okay, Bitch?
Bitch got to her feet before Judas did, but only managed to take a single step before one of Gallant’s blasts clipped her.
Yikes! As far as we know so far, Bitch doesn’t have much in terms of body protection – she’s more of a “best defense is a good offense” type, after all.
I winced. His light blasts were charged with energy that made the people struck feel a particular emotion.
Oh right, I briefly forgot about that. Do they deal direct damage too, or…? Probably not, I’m thinking; the power is more versatile if you can use it without hurting the target.
Gallant could blast you with one that made you hopeless, scared, sad, ashamed…
Bitch screamed, and it was a long and primal noise, filled with rage.
Why would you do that, Gallant
Rage can cause people to make mistakes, yes, but it can also cause them to hold back less, and we all know what Bitch wants to do: hold back less and wreck some shit.
You could’ve just caused Vista a world of trouble, and/or death.
Unless of course Bitch is just angry about being hit in the first place.
I was still inside the bank, watching things unfold through the window, barely able to hear it, and it still made my skin crawl. So he’d shot the dangerous psychopath with a blast that made her angry. Someone would have to explain that one to me at a later date.
Look, Taylor agrees, that seemed like a really dumb move.
Whirling, still screaming, she pointed at Gallant. Apparently that was order enough, because Judas charged at the teenager that was dressed like a science fiction Lancelot.
Well, at least it worked as a taunt. Rage needs a target; Gallant diverted Bitch’s attention from Vista by making himself the target.
I suppose he’s more equipped to physically defendagainst her than Vista is.
Bitch didn’t attack him though.
Without her dogs at her back, essentially without powers, she went straight for Vista. She was focused enough to stay on the priority target.
Is she just determined enough to stay on target despite the rage, or has she directed her rage at both of them?
I guess only Bitch knows.
Vista was ready, though. As Bitch tried to close the distance, the roadway between her and the young heroine stretched out, until the distance she had to cover was two, three, four, five times as far. Vista then pinched the space behind her closer together, crossed a third of a block with a single skip, and then returned it to normal. I swore under my breath, and not just because my bugs had a lot more distance to travel. My head was pounding again, and it was getting steadily worse.
I can’t help but imagine Vista as a cheeky little brat, perhaps looking Bitch straight in the eyes and smiling as she casually moves much further away in a single step.
I honestly love that kind of character and I kinda hope that headcanon is accurate. We’re probably going to find out soon enough. 🙂
Was someone’s power at work, giving me a headache? There wasn’t anyone in the Wards, I was pretty sure, who could mess with your head like that. Gallant could mess with your emotions, but he had to hit you with a light blast to do it. The person on the roof, then? I was fairly confident there wasn’t anyone in the Protectorate or New Wave who could affect me like this.
The original hypothesis, that Vista’s power was messing with Taylor’s BPS (Bug Positioning System), still seems fairly decent, but the bugs have been flying around in distorted terrain for a while. Maybe it only happens when the bugs are in a spot as it actually changes?
If it is the person on the roof, then why does it affect Taylor, specifically? Assuming for a moment that this isn’t a side effect of mixing powers, but an intentional power to cause headaches: Roof person, whom I’ve just decided to call Karlsson until we know their identity, would probably have to target her specifically (which would imply they know where she is and aren’t alerting the other heroes about it or doing something more significant to stop her than a headache) or launch an area of effect headache attack that would most likely also affect the heroes.
Bitch gave up on Vista and whistled for Judas. The dog responded immediately, abandoning his skirmish with Gallant, who was trying and failing to stand.
Gallant may be regretting his decision to anger a hellhound trainer.
A wash of darkness consumed him before he managed to pick himself up.
And there’s Grue swooping in with some additional difficulty of orientation. Nice.
Is he actually inside the cloud, beating up Gallant further, or is he just controlling it from afar?
Kid Win opened fire on Bitch as her dog returned to her. Given the excessive distance between them – it would have been a hard shot to make before Vista stretched the area that Bitch was standing on – meaning his aim was wildly off target.
He stopped, changed a setting, and fired a fresh salvo. This time, the lasers came out in more of a staccato spray, like you’d expect from a machine gun. One of the lasers caught Bitch in the center of her stomach and laid her flat.
Judas guarded his owner by hunkering over her, blocking further shots and obscuring my view of her.
And there goes Taylor’s ability to see if Bitch is okay.
One down, four to go. Probably.
Near Vista, a large figure staggered out of the darkness, shadows still clinging to him, bellowing and screaming incoherently about bugs. He thrashed for several moments, then collapsed into a heap a short distance from Vista. Someone that large could only be Browbeat.
Now what happened to you?
Taylor hasn’t attacked him as far as I remember. Is he terrified of bugs to begin with, so she doesn’t need to go after him to freak him out? Or maybe he witnessed what happened to Clockblocker?
…hmm. What if Karlsson is not on the heroes’ side? What if they’re someone with the power to invoke fear or nightmares or something like that?
[…invoke fear you say.]
Vista apparently reached the same conclusion I did, because she took a few steps closer to him, looking around helplessly for a way to help him.
What conclusion specifically?
An instant after I realized that I didn’t actually have bugs on Browbeat, the figure struck Vista across the side of the head, laying her flat.
I saw the briefest glimpse of Grue’s skull mask before he and Vista were covered by a fresh tide of his darkness.
Ahh, I think I get it. Grue made the darkness surrounding him… puffier, making it look like Browbeat covered in thin darkness when it was actually Grue covered in thick darkness. Clever! Well done, Grue.
Oh, the conclusion that it was Browbeat.
“Bitch, Vista, Clockblocker, Gallant are out of action, I think,” I called across the room to Tattletale, who was still hammering away at a keyboard.
Oh hey, I kinda forgot she was here.
Also unless Aegis has managed to get out of his position as a human rope, he’s pretty much dealt with too.
“We’ve got Aegis handled for the time being.
Ah, the age old liveblogger fate of saying things just before the characters do… 😛
Not sure what happened to Browbeat, but there’s only him, Kid Win and the person on the roof to deal with, now. We can make a break for it soon.”
Huh, it really does sound like things are going pretty well when you put it like that.
Karlsson is of course a huge unknown factor, and could just as easily be the one to stop all of you singlehandedly as they could be on your side and help you escape past a surprisingly strong Kid Win.
Then again, Taylor is talking to the queen of knowledge here. Got any news for us, Tattle?
(#maid of light)
“One last thing to do,” Tattletale grinned to me, “I’ll be right back. Keep an eye on things here.”
“What? No – Tattletale! Dammit!” I shouted, but she was already running, heading back into the offices that we’d been through on our way to the bank.
Apparently she didn’t have news for us. Byyyeee~
I didn’t have time to dwell on her leaving. Flickers of light outside the bank caught my attention.
(Serious tangent though: Please don’t make “ooh shiny” jokes about ADHD, at least unless you have it. That’s not how it works, and it makes it harder for the disorder to be taken seriously.)
Kid Win was flying fifteen feet above the ground on his hoverboard. In front of him, pieces of a massive device were materializing, shimmering into existence like you saw with the transporters on Star Trek.
Oh cod, what kind of doomsday device are you bringing?
Also I just realized, we never heard anything about Vista’s distortions snapping back when she was knocked out. What if they’re all stuck there until she wakes up and undoes the space bubble?
It was only one or two steps away from being complete, but you could tell what it was. A gun, no less than fifteen feet long, with a barrel three or four feet across, all turret mounted on a circular platform not unlike the board he was riding.
“Shit,” I whispered to myself. I sent my bugs after him.
Yeah, pretty much, Taylor. Pretty much.
He swiveled the cannon to face Judas, who was still guarding the spot where Bitch had fallen.
don’t you dare
A bolt of light erupted from the cannon and sent Judas flying beyond my field of vision.
…the dog goes 😦
He fired another shot, at a greater distance, presumably at the fallen dog. Then he swiveled and fired off two more shots in quick succession, blasting Aegis and the two dogs that were gripping him.
The dogs and Aegis were all sent flying into the wall of the office building opposite the bank. While the dogs didn’t get up immediately, a bloody and tattered Aegis was on his feet in an instant, and in the air a moment later.
He got to a good height – maybe two or three stories up, and stayed there, likely to get his bearings and survey the situation.
Just because his body can handle not taking a break doesn’t mean his mind can… also it’s just good strategy in general.
As my bugs approached the Kid, he took notice and maneuvered his cannon to decimate the swarm.
I spread them out, but he simply pulled a lever and released a flamethrower-like blast of lightning and sparks, eliminating virtually all of the bugs I’d sent out into the street.
Didn’t I just say something about a surprisingly powerful Kid Win? Maybe Karlsson is going to bail them out after all…
The scant few that that remained, I sent towards his face, to crawl beneath his visor and into his nose and mouth. It wasn’t enough.
Look, she’s trying the tactic that worked before. Sure rocking that regret there, Taylor. ‘,:|
Then Kid Win aimed the cannon straight at me.
I jumped for cover the moment I realized what he was doing. There was a muffled sound, more a very large person someone hitting a punching bag than what I’d expect a laser cannon to sound like, and the window exploded.
“a very large person someone”
When you rewrite, it’s usually good to actually remove the thing you’re aiming to replace. I rewrite things very frequently, so I know how easily this can happen.
What was he doing? We had hostages inside. I turned to check, and saw there weren’t any hostages near me. Did he know that?
Heat sensors in his visor? Was someone watching me through the cameras and passing him info? Damn it! There was too much I didn’t know, and Tattletale wasn’t around to fill me in.
Knowledge is power. It’s a recurring truth in this story – not only is there Tattle’s power, but Taylor relies a lot on planning, which she’s generally better equipped for the more she knows.
Grue sprinted between two clouds of darkness, raising one hand to send a blast of his power towards Kid Win, obscuring the Kid’s line of sight.
Hm… I wonder, can Grue’s darkness block laser blasts? I mean, lasers are by definition light.
Kid Win responded by ponderously maneuvering himself and the cannon out of the top of the cloud of darkness.
Maybe if Grue makes some of his darkness stick to the barrels of Kid’s laser guns, that could disable them?
I swore under my breath and sent a command for more of the bugs I had inside to drop from the ceiling and go outside to attack. There were a good few bugs near Clockblocker, who were getting free of the time stopping effect he’d laid on them. I added those to the assault.
Thank you for freeing him of some of the early unfreezers.
My legs buckled as my headache worsened tenfold. Worse, the response from my bugs was sluggish, like I was ordering them to move through mud.
Hrm. Vista’s out like a light, so that’s that hypothesis debunked. I guess it can only be Karlsson at this point. But what is their power?
I felt a momentary panic, but there wasn’t really anything I could do. I grit my teeth and ordered the attack anyways, then forced myself to run for the other side of the bank, in case he could somehow detect me and shoot through the walls to hit me.
Over to the hostages?
I glanced through the windows for Aegis as I passed them. Through the rain, and the darkness that lingered on the surface of the windows, I spotted him. His white costume was wet with rain and ridiculous amounts of blood, and he was diving straight for the bank like a human missile. Damn it.
Kid Win pulling out the Tiro Finale has really turned this battle around, wow.
Kid himself is wrecking shit, Clockblocker is almost free from his bug prison (though as mentioned, I’ll be amazed if he’s back in the fight immediately), Aegis is back in Duracell mode, Browbeat has yet to be seen since the initial lineup, Kid Win took out a huge chunk of Taylor’s firepower, Bitch is still down, Tattletale went off to she-knows-where, who even knows what Regent is up to, and Karlsson is mysterious.
Things are no longer looking good.
Inexplicably, his descent wavered, then curved. He flew straight into the ground, full force, hard enough to crack pavement.
This is consistent with Vista’s powers. She could mess with gravity and the distance left before he hit the ground…
Although I guess someone (Karlsson?) affecting his mind in some way could– OR BODY
One of the dogs, I couldn’t tell which, had managed to extricate itself from the rubble of the shattered wall and rushed at the fallen Aegis.
The dog returns! One of them, at least.
Kid Win was occupied trying to do three things at once – he was maneuvering out of the way of the clouds of darkness Grue was setting in his way,
It does sound like the clouds would block the lasers.
making return potshots at Grue as Grue zig zagged between spots of cover and with every free moment,
Can’t Grue just make bridges between the spots of cover?
he was blasting hundreds of my bugs out of the air.
Taylor’s firepower is decreasing rapidly.
If my power was at full strength, my bugs probably would have reached him already, but something was interfering.
Someone seems to be messing with the minds and/or power of both the heroes and the villains. Is Karlsson a third party out to mess with everyone? Another villain looking to pinch the loot from the Undersiders once they and the Wards have beaten each other up enough that neither pose a challenge?
That, or I’d overexerted myself. The bugs were slow to react, slow to move and some were slipping from my grasp, returning to their instinctive behavior. Making matters worse, I wasn’t blind to the fact that every time I gave a command, my headache got exponentially worse.
With Kid Win occupied as he was, the dog had a clear path to Aegis. Aegis didn’t try to run this time. He stood his ground and reached for his utility belt. He retrieved something that looked like a miniature fire extinguisher.
Then he pulled the pin.
Are you trying to make your own cloud of shrouding?
For the second time in a matter of minutes, I dove away from the window. It wouldn’t be a grenade, but the option that made the most sense- I squeezed my eyes shut and covered my ears just in time. The explosion the flashbang grenade
made was enough to leave me breathless, and there was a stone wall and some fifty or so feet between us.
Damn, that’s powerful.
I chanced a careful look through the window as soon as I’d recovered, hands still over my ears. The dog was reeling, making pained sounds,
Hellhounds probably have night vision and enhanced hearing, on top of the usual difference between human and dog senses. Ouch.
and Aegis was pummeling it, using his flight to close the distance and add more momentum to his swings. When the dog, Angelica, I saw, looked like it was starting to recover, he grabbed two more flashbang grenades from his belt with one hand and pulled the pins with the other, dropping them to the ground just below him.
I ducked behind cover again, but they didn’t go off.
Now what? Duds? Not flashbang grenades? Distraction?
When I chanced another look, I saw the tables had turned. Where the flashbangs had been dropped, there was a smudge of Grue’s darkness covering the ground.
GO GRUE 😀
Angelica was having it out with Aegis, and Regent was striding out of the darkness, in Kid Win’s direction.
I’d forgotten about Regent. It made sense that he was working from a discreet position like I was. He probably would have been the one to alter Aegis’ flight path.
Confirmed! Basically, anyway.
I guess that removes the hero example of “messing with the heroes and the villains”, though. Karlsson remains mysterious.
Anyway! Regent versus Kid Win could get interesting. Make him fall off his hoverboard, perhaps, or miss some critical shots with the Tiro Finale…
Seeing Regent approach, Kid Win turned his turret-mounted cannon in his direction. Before he could fire, though, Regent raised two fingers, and Kid Win lost his footing on his flying skateboard.
The cannon shifted until it was pointing straight up, as the young hero dangled from the handles, his weight altering the trajectory of the cannon. His board clattered to the ground a few feet away.
Nice. Now you can make him lose grip, or just let him hang there. Either works.
Regent made a dismissive wave, and Kid Win let go with one hand, his fingers and arm curling backwards in a palsied fit. Regent repeated the gesture, and Kid Win lost his grip on the controls, dropping a good twenty feet to the asphalt.
*increasingly high.pitched whistling sound* THUD
…I realize twenty feet isn’t that far, but can you blame me? Distances sound longer in feet.
As Regent approached to stand over him, Kid Win reached for his laser pistol. He scowled in frustration as his fingers continued to twitch and curl involuntarily, instead of closing on the handle of the gun.
Regent’s power is so damn good.
With an almost relaxed air, Regent shoved the end of his tazer into Kid Win’s side.
“Look, I’m just gonna taser you now, no biggie.”
(“tazer” is just as bad as “lazer” btw; they’re both acronyms, so you can’t just go and americanize the spelling with those Zs. “Thomas A. Zwift”, “ztimulated emmision”…)
I don’t know if it was the sense of relief, but I couldn’t help but laugh as Regent collected the fallen skateboard and began a wobbly ascent to the floating cannon turret.
I’m telling you, the kind of air this man has got is UNREAL!
Dude, get the ruler, check this out.
He aimed and began firing at Aegis, who was forced to scramble out of the way.
“What’s so funny, psycho?”
Who’s saying that? Regent?
I think we might be missing some context between Regent and Aegis here.
I whirled to face the voice, and saw the freckled, brown haired hostage that had been glaring at me when we’d first taken control of the bank lobby.
So is this girl just playing hero or does she actually have powers too?
After that, I saw only stars as she slammed something large and blunt into the side of my head.
And this is why you don’t leave one person alone with the hostages, Tattletale.
Sleep well, Taylor!
End of Agitation 3.10
That was a ride!
Vista and Gallant were taken out surprisingly easily, but quite entertainingly. Then Kid Win happened – first he took out Bitch and then he really happened, with the massive weapon I’ve come to call the Tiro Finale.
Meanwhile, all through the chapter, the mystery of Roof Person Karlsson kept escalating, and I’m currently quite unsure about them. They do seem to be on the heroes’ side for the time being.
Regent finally got the chance to shine at the end of the chapter, almost effortlessly taking out Kid Win and stylishly if a bit wobblingly taking control of the hoverboard.
And then Taylor got a surprise knockout at the hands of a hostage.
Basically, a lot happened in this chapter, and it had me hooked from beginning to end. It might actually be one of my favorite chapters so far.
Next time, I guess we’re gonna see where Taylor wakes up. See ya then!