Shell 4.3: Bug Girl Begins

Source material: Worm, Shell 4.3

Originally blogged: June 23, 2017


Howdy, howdy! It’s time for more Worm!

Last time, Taylor was met with an unexpected reaction from the other Undersiders when she suggested talking about origin stories. None of the three other Undersiders present seemed very thrilled to talk about that particular topic, and I fully expect this chapter to show me why.

I speculated last chapter on the possibility of the gaining/activation/…awakening of parahuman powers being related to traumatic incidents as a soft rule, but I don’t really have any concrete ideas for exactly what could’ve happened with the Undersiders yet.

So without further ado, let’s get on with Shell 4.3!


Alec, surprisingly, was the one to break the nerve-wracking silence. “Let me put it this way.  When you got your powers, were you having a good day?”

I didn’t have to think long. “No.”

Three lines in and this is already supporting my theory that traumatic incidents being involved is common.

“Would I be really off the mark if I guessed you were having the worst day of your life, when you got your powers?”

“Second worst,” I replied quietly, “It’s like that for everyone?”

…second worst. Hm. Would the first be when she lost her mother?

“Just about.  The only ones who get off easy are the second generation capes.  The kids of people who have powers.”

Oh, okay, so people like Panacea don’t necessarily have to have one of these to awaken their powers. I guess their powers just show up over time?

I’m guessing Vista might be a second generation cape too.

Lisa leaned forward, putting her elbows on the table, “So if you needed another reason to think Glory Girl is a privileged bitch, look no further.”

Heh. Lisa really doesn’t like Victoria, huh?


“Why?” I asked, “Why do we go through that?”

“It’s called the trigger event,” Lisa answered me,

Fitting name.

“Researchers theorize that for every person with powers out there, there’s one to five people with the potential for powers, who haven’t met the conditions necessary for a trigger event.

Huh. Sounds like I wasn’t too off the wall with the whole “latent until the trigger event” thing.

I wonder, is there a parahuman supremacist organization bent on causing public misery specifically to awaken more parahumans? That seems like something that could come out of this mechanic. Note that this is specifically about their goal – I don’t doubt that there are parahuman supremacist organizations in general.

Maybe this is what the Endbringers are? I doubt that, though, considering the name and how the characters talk about them.

You need to be pushed to the edge.  Fight or flight responses pushed to their limits, further than the limits, even.  Then your powers start to emerge.”

So it’s kind of an extension on the whole thing about adrenalin kicks making people way more powerful and capable than usual, huh. And biologically, maybe that means adrenalin is literally important for the development of parahuman powers.

I like that the origin of powers in Worm so far seems to be as biological as the powers themselves tend to be. Granted, I still doubt pure biology is the true origin of the powers in general, since things that would qualify as trigger events presumably happened before the eighties.

“Basically,” Alec said, “For your powers to manifest, you’re going to have to have something really shitty happen to you.”

The other neat thing about this is that this whole thing gives Wildbow a good in-universe excuse to give almost every character a tragic backstory. :p


“Which may help to explain why the villains outnumber the heroes two to one,” Lisa pointed out, “Or why third world countries have the highest densities of people with powers.  Not capes, but a lot of people with powers.”

Interesting…

So there’s a higher proportion of capes to parahumans in first world countries than third world countries. I suppose that’s partially because the parahumans have enough trouble with their civilian lives and little time and energy to go caping, but it also fits into Lisa’s theory of the whole business as a game – it’s a game supported by the government, and in the first world countries, the governments can actually afford to do that.

“But people who have parents with powers?”

“They don’t need nearly as intense an event to make their powers show up.

Oh, so there is a trigger event, just not a big one.

Glory Girl got her powers by getting fouled while playing basketball in gym class.  She mentioned it in a few interviews she gave.”

…well that’s certainly “not a big one”.

And then there’s Steven Universe, whose first time using his powers came while happily eating ice cream surrounded by his loving family. Why do I get the feeling Lisa wouldn’t like him much?

Actually, come to think of it, I can think of several other reasons why Lisa wouldn’t like early Steven. Like how he consistently fails to ask follow-up questions and zones out during perfectly good exposition in “Frybo”… kid’s got no appreciation for the value of knowledge, harumph!


“So you basically asked us to share the details on the worst moments of our lives,” Alec said, before taking another bite of his burger.

“Sorry,” I replied.

Not exactly the lighthearted dinner banter Taylor was expecting, no.

“It’s okay,” Brian reassured me, “It’s one of those things you only really hear about from other capes, and you only know us.  Maybe you’d hear more about trigger events if you took a university class in parahuman studies, but I doubt you’d get the full picture there.  Kind of have to go through it yourself.”

Makes sense. Not everything can be conventionally taught.

Lisa reached over and mussed up my hair, “Don’t worry about it.”

Why had I brought up origins?  It would have eventually have been my turn, and I would’ve had to share my own story.

Oh, I thought you would have considered that, and were fine with it.

Maybe I’d wanted to.

It might not be a solid tactical move to share such with your enemies.

But it sure is something you might want to do with your friends.

And guess what the Undersiders are?


“Lisa said you guys were talking about me, talking about how you thought I was having a hard time, speculating on what it was,” I managed to say,

Oh hey, she’s actually bringing it up. Is she planning to take it further and share her origin story after all?

I sure hope so.

“I dunno, I think a part of me wants to talk about it so you aren’t coming to the wrong conclusions.  Talk about when I got my powers.  But I don’t know that I can get into it without ruining the mood.”

I… think the Undersiders are going to prioritize your mental well-being over the mood of the moment. It’s what good friends do.

“You already ruined the mood, dork.”  This from Alec.

Hehe. I’d like to think that “dork” is audibly laden with affection, meant to help Taylor along.

Brian punched him in the arm, making him yelp.  Glaring at Brian, Alec grudgingly added, “Which means there’s no reason not to, I guess.”

“Go for it,” Lisa prodded me.

See? They’re all for letting Taylor vent.

Vent and exposit. I’ve been waiting for this moment for three arcs now.


“It’s not an amazing story,” I said, “But I need to say something before I start.  I already said it to Lisa.  The people I’m talking about… I don’t want you to take revenge on them on my behalf or anything.  I need to be sure you won’t.”

“You want to get revenge yourself?” Alec asked.

Pfft!

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I found myself at a bit of a loss for words.  I couldn’t really explain why I didn’t want them interfering,

Hm. These guys are villains. Not in the same way as Lung or the Empire Eighty-Eight, but they are villains. They might genuinely be surprised if Taylor says she’s unwilling to use parahuman powers to get revenge on the Harpies.

That said, there are other ways she could spin this, such as not wanting to raise suspicion.

“I don’t really know.  I think… I guess I feel that if you guys jumped in and beat them up or humiliated them or made them tearfully apologize, I wouldn’t feel like I’d dealt with things myself.  There wouldn’t be any closure.”

…or that, I guess. How true is this, Taylor, and how true do you think it is?

“So whatever we hear, we don’t act on it,” Brian clarified.

“Please.”

“It’s your prerogative,” he said, taking a deep-fried zucchini off of Lisa’s plate and biting it in half.  She pushed her plate closer to him.

“Whatever,” Alec said.

They respect her wishes. It’s that simple.


I took a few seconds to get a few bites of my bacon cheeseburger and composed my thoughts before I began.

Here we mcfucking go!

“There’s three girls at school that had… have been making my life pretty goddamn miserable.  Doing pretty much everything they could think of to make school suck, humiliate me, hurt me.  Each of the three had their individual approach, and for a good while, it was like they were trying to outdo each other in how creative or mean they could get.”

Hm. Maybe it is like that. Maybe it is a competition between the three of them. Or at least was, and then the trigger event happened and they dialed it down a notch.

My heart was pounding as I looked up from my plate to check the expressions on the others’ faces.  This is who I am, I thought.  This is where I’m coming from.

Taylor really is laying her soul bare for the Undersiders now. Just an undercover recon mission my ass. These guys are the best friends Taylor’s ever had and there’s no way she’s going to betray them in the end. For a while, that was up in the air to some extent (though I was leaning towards her staying with them from the beginning), but this really seals it.

If he’s going to have me wrong about this, he’ll have to be an amazing author to pull that off believably and compellingly at this point.

When they heard about the real me, without whatever notions or ideas they’d gotten into their heads about me or how capable I was, how would they react?

Notice how she’s no longer thinking along the lines of, say, “how would they use this information against me”, or “could this compromise my cover”.


“It went on for almost a year and a half before things quieted down.  Last year, around November, they… I dunno.  It was like they got bored.  The pranks got tamer, then stopped altogether.  The taunts stopped, and so did most of the hate mail.  They ignored me, left me alone.

Huh.

“I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But I made a friend, one of the girls who had sometimes joined in on the taunting came to me and apologized.  Not one of the major bullies, more like a friend of a friend of the bullies, I guess.

Oh boy. Logically, it seems this girl didn’t stay a friend after the trigger event, but there are several ways that could happen. She could be a major culprit, but alternatively, she could’ve been caught in the crossfire and ditched Taylor as a result, or been significantly hurt, etc. I don’t know.

She asked me if I wanted to hang out.  I was too gun-shy, told her no, but it got so we were talking before and after classes and eating lunch together.  Her approaching me and befriending me was one of the big reasons I could think the harassment was ending.  I never really let my guard down around her, but she was pretty cool about it.

Oh no… is this why the harrassment was cooling down? Was the whole thing a long con to lull Taylor into a sense of security so the next attack, the trigger event, would hit all that much harder?

“And for most of November and the two weeks of classes before Christmas break, nothing.  They were leaving me alone.  I was able to relax.”

Yet from our perspective we know this was just the quiet before the storm. Yikes.


I sighed, “That ended the day I came back from the winter break.  I knew, instinctually, that they were playing me, that they were waiting before they pulled their next stunt, so it had more impact.

Welp. Here we go.

I didn’t think they’d be so patient about it.  I went to my locker, and well, they’d obviously raided the bins from the girls bathrooms or something, because they’d piled used pads and tampons into my locker.  Almost filled it.”

“Ew,” Alec interjected, putting down his food, “I was eating here.”

I don’t really need to say anything, ‘cause Alec just said it for me. Except I wasn’t eating.

“Sorry,” I looked down at my plate, poked at a piece of bacon, “I can stop, it’s cool.”

“Finish now,” Brian ordered me, if you can say he was ordering me gently.  He glared at Alec.

Brian is a good friend.

They all are, even Alec.

I swallowed, feeling a flush creeping across my face, “It was pretty obvious that they had done it before the school closed for Christmas, by the smell alone.

Oh for the love of cod, Harpies, you dickbags.

I bent over to throw up, right there in a crowded hallway, everyone watching.  Before I could recover or stop losing my breakfast, someone grabbed me by the hair, hard enough it hurt, and shoved me into the locker.”

YOU DICKBAGS.

It had been Sophia, I was almost positive: She was the most physically aggressive of the three.  But these guys didn’t need to know her name.

Yeah, the name’s kind of irrelevant.

Why had I brought this up?  I was regretting it already.  I looked at the others, but I couldn’t read their expressions.

I’m sure they’re suitably disgusted. Alec probably manages to look disgusted and bored at the same time, and Lisa’s probably still smiling with her mouth even if her eyes do anything but.


I couldn’t leave the story unfinished, after getting this far, as much as I really wanted to.

Of course there’s more.

“They shut the locker and put the lock on it.  I was trapped in there, with this rancid smell and puke, barely able to move, it was so full.

…for how long? I could easily imagine the Harpies leaving her there for hours, but it sounded like there were plenty of people around who might let her out if the Harpies left.

All I could think was that someone had been willing to get their hands that dirty to fuck with me, but of all the students that had seen me get shoved in the locker, nobody was getting a janitor or teacher to let me out.

Oh come on!

Is the school permanently soaked in eau de bystander syndrome or something?

…that might actually be someone’s power in this ‘verse.


“I panicked, freaked out.  My mind went someplace else, and it found the bugs there.  Not that I knew what they were, at that point.

…but it was a thing to hold onto. Something you could move when you couldn’t move your body, something you had control of when you didn’t have control of your situation.

I didn’t have a sense of proportion, and with all the info my power was giving me then, my brain didn’t know how to process it all.

Add to that the sensations of being trapped in a locker with a ton of used menstrual products that have been, uh, left to age for a few weeks, and you get one heck of a sensory overload. Yikes.

As far as I knew, all around me, in the walls of the school, in the corners, and crawling around the filthy interior of the locker, there were thousands of these twitchy, alien, distorted things that were each shoving every tiny detail about their bodies and their fucked up biology into my head.

Yikes.


I sighed, “It’s hard to explain what it’s like, having a new sense open up, but you can’t understand it all.

That is exactly what half the power is: A new sense, or rather a whole bunch of them. The other half is the ability to control the bugs.

I’ve been thinking of Tattle’s power as a sense too. She Knows things in the same way people see things or hear things, and seemingly has to direct her attention to the things she’s going to Know about in the same way we have to look at things to see them.

Every sound that they heard was bounced back to me at a hundred times the volume, with the pitch and everything else all screwed up as if they wanted to make it as unpleasant and painful to listen to as possible.  Even what they were seeing, it’s like having my eyes open after being in the dark for a long time, but the eyes weren’t attached to my body, and what they were seeing was like looking into a really dingy, grimy kaleidoscope.  Thousands of them.  And I didn’t know how to turn any of it off.”

“Damn,” Lisa said.

Damn indeed.

“When someone finally let me out, I came out fighting.  Biting, scratching, kicking.  Screaming incoherently.  Probably putting on a good show for all the kids that had come out of their classrooms to watch.  The teachers tried to deal with the situation, paramedics eventually came and I don’t remember much after that.

No wonder they would’ve thought she’d totally snapped from the bullying itself. She couldn’t exactly tell them that she suddenly got access to the senses of thousands of bugs while she was in there.


“I figured out what my power was at the hospital, while they observed me, which helped ground me, make me feel sane again.  Bugs are a lot easier to wrap your head around, when you realize they’re bugs.

Makes sense.

After a week, maybe, I was able to shut some of it out.

That’s still a fairly long time to go with constant sensory overload.

My dad got some money from the school.  Enough to pay the bills for the hospital stay and a little extra.  He was talking about suing the bullies, but no witnesses were really talking and the lawyer said it wasn’t going to be successful without hard evidence to identify the responsible.

Cod damn it, witnesses.

We didn’t have the money for it, if it wasn’t going to be a sure thing.  I never wound up telling my dad about the main group of bullies.  Maybe I should have, I dunno.”

I don’t know either. Maybe it would’ve helped, somehow. Maybe it wouldn’t.


“I’m sorry,” Lisa put her hand on my shoulder.  I felt grateful that she wasn’t pulling away or laughing.  It was the first time I’d ever really talked about it, and I wasn’t sure I could’ve dealt if she had.

Why would she do that? This sounds like a figment of Taylor’s instinctive distrust that those who act like friends really are friends, which at this point is a relatively justified attitude based on her experience with both Emma and this other girl she was talking about earlier.

“Wait, this thing with those girls is still going on?” Alec asked me.

I shrugged, “Basically.  I went back after being in the hospital, and things were as bad as they ever were.  My so called friend wasn’t making eye contact or speaking to me, and they didn’t even go easy on me after seeing my, uh, episode.”

Ugh.

Let me guess, they used it as ammo?

“Why don’t you use your power?”  Alec asked, “It doesn’t even have to be that big.  A bug in their lunch, maybe a bee sting on the tip of their nose or on their lips.”

“I’m not going to use my power on them.”

There we have it – the return of the subsubplot about Carrie thoughts. In 1.1 and a couple times later, Taylor was very adamant about not using her power on the Harpies. She actually sounds more confident about it this time, to be honest, which might be because she’s learning that the Harpies just aren’t worth it.

“But they’re making you miserable!” Alec protested.

I frowned, “All the more reason not to.  It wouldn’t be hard to guess who was doing it if someone started using powers to mess with them.”

True that.

“Seriously?” Alec leaned back in his seat, folding his arms, “Look, you and I haven’t talked all that much, maybe we don’t know each other all that well, but, um, you’re not stupid.  Are you honestly telling me you’re incapable of finding a subtle way to get back at them?”

He did have a point, with the small ways to get back at them, involving like one or two bugs at a time. But if I recall correctly, this isn’t the main reason Taylor doesn’t want to use her power on the Harpies – she feels like it’s morally wrong for her to do that, doesn’t she?

I looked to Lisa and Brian, feeling a little backed into a corner, “A little help?”

Lisa smiled, but said nothing.  Brian shrugged and considered for a few moments before telling me, “I’m kind of inclined to agree with Alec.”

“They seem like good people.”


“Okay, fine,” I admitted, “It’s crossed my mind.  I’ve considered doing something that couldn’t be traced to me, like giving them lice.  But you guys remember how I went off on Bitch after she set her dogs on me.”

Ahhh, she’s afraid of getting carried away.

“A bit of repressed anger,” Lisa said, still smiling.

Lisa, ever considered becoming a psychologist?

“It’s the same with these guys.  You know what happens if I do something like give them crabs?  They wind up miserable, annoyed, and they take it out on me.”

Oh, it’s that way around. Of course. Taylor has been talking about this as a reason not to antagonize the Harpies further for a lot of chapters now.

“Oh man,” Alec laughed, “Crabs.  You need to do that every time we go up against another cape.  Can you imagine?”

Ahaha, Alec, come on :p

Alec is kind of like me in some ways, I think, in that he thinks of funny things at inappropriate moments. Difference is I usually don’t voice them at those moments, while Alec has little to no filter.


“I’d rather not,” I made a face.  Alec’s dogged tenaciousness thus far in the conversation was giving me the impression he would be hard to convince without a good reason, so I fudged the truth a little as I told him,

Hm, where are we going now?

“While I’m controlling them, I see everything my bugs see, feel everything they feel, pretty much.  I don’t want to make a regular thing of having my bugs crawl all over sweaty crotches.”

“Awww.”

Hehehe.

“The point I’m trying to make, if you’ll stop changing the subject, is that these girls would probably take their misery out on me, even if they didn’t know I was doing it.  I don’t trust myself to keep from retaliating, upping the ante.

Oh, it was a bit of both, then.

You saw what happened with me and Rachel, the first time we met.  Things would escalate, I’d take things too far eventually.  Secret identity blown, or getting someone seriously hurt, like Lung was, only without the regeneration.”

To be fair, Taylor did think Lung would be totally fine. She just hadn’t accounted for the tranquilizers Armsmaster would use on him later, if she was right about that being the cause of his regeneration not keeping his dick attached.

“I don’t get how you can sit there and take it,” Alec said, “Get revenge, or get one of us to get revenge for you.  Go to someone for help.”

“None of those things is an option,” I said, with enough emphasis that I hoped my statement carried some finality, “There’s too much chance for things to go out of control if I take things into my own hands or have you guys do it for me.

Basically, the status quo sucks but if it was upset it might suck more. I guess it’s a fair risk assessment.

As far as going to someone for help, I don’t trust the system.  Not after the court case, not after talking to some of my teachers.  If it was that easy, I would have dealt with it already.”

And there she admits to that, her distrust of the authorities. Granted, she says “the system”, but it really does seem to be about authorities in general.


Lisa leaned forward, “Tell me it wouldn’t be awesome if we kidnapped their leader, pulled a hood over her head, dragged her into a van and dropped her off in the woods at midnight, ten miles out of town, with nothing but her skivvies.”

Pfft.

I smiled at the mental image, but I shook my head as I said, “That’s exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s going too far.”

“They shoved you into the grossest locker ever and locked the door!” Alec looked at me like I was trying to argue the earth was square.

I mean it’s not like they wouldn’t have it coming, but Taylor is unfortunately right about several of her rationalizations this time.

“Leaving her in the middle of nowhere without any clothes on is practically inviting her to be molested by the first trucker to see her,” I pointed out.

You don’t have a lot of faith in truckers either, do you.

“Fine,” Alec rolled his eyes, “So we tone it down some.  Drop her off with no shoes, no cell phone, no wallet, no spare change, nothing she could use to negotiate her way home.  Make her hike it.”

“That would still be risking getting her assaulted,” I sighed, “Pretty girl walking down the side of the road at night?”

Fair enough.


“They’ve assaulted you!”

“It’s a little different.”

“The only difference I see is that they deserve it and you didn’t.  I mean, I’m not smart like you guys are, so maybe I’m missing something.”

Hm, is that a hint of self-deprecation I’m seeing, Alec? I’m not saying for sure there’s anything more behind it other than this conversation, but consider it noted for now.

I shook my head, “You’re not missing anything, Alec.  We’re looking at this from two very different perspectives.  I don’t really believe in that whole ‘eye for an eye’ business.”

Me neither, and that’s the other reason I’m not fully agreeing with either side here. I think something needs to be done, but not necessarily revenge in this form.

I was beginning to feel like I was getting control of the conversation again.  Then Alec dropped his bombshell.

Bombshell, you say?

This moment, whatever it is, genuinely could be a major factor in the naming of this arc. There’s one clear thread that’s been present in all three chapters so far, and it’s the Harpy business and the Undersiders learning about / getting involved in it and possibly helping Taylor get past it entirely. She started out well on that front in 4.1, and the wardrobe update seems in 4.2 seems like another important step towards getting past them.

I’d go so far as to say that the Undersiders helping Taylor get past the Harpies seems to be the main plot of this arc so far, so when Alec is coming in with a point described as a Shell, a bombshell, in the context of that plotline, I expect it to be very important.

(Also I tried to make a joke about bombshells at the end of the last chapter so if this really is a reason for the title… the gods of dramatic irony probably rejoiced.)


I bet Lisa thrives on the dramatic irony she experiences every day thanks to the knowledge she holds. She’d probably like liveblogs.


“Then why the fuck are you a supervillain?”

…well that wasn’t what I expected the bombshell to be about but I’ll take it.

Are we actually doing this now? Having them suspect and/or Know things about Taylor’s deception?

That’s not criticism, nor a joke, it’s a genuine question. Are we doing this now, or is Taylor going to adequately explain herself?

“Escape.”  The word left my mouth almost immediately, before I’d had a chance to even think about what it meant.

Well, it’s the truth. The escapism has been blatantly obvious to the reader ever since, what, 1.2?

I couldn’t have taken the time to think before speaking, or they might have known something was up.  Lisa almost certainly would have.

Yeah, she would’ve. She’d Ask for “why is Taylor a supervillain” and get the answer “she isn’t”.

A few tense moments passed, and I chanced a look at Lisa and Brian.  Lisa was watching the dialogue, a small smile on her face, her chin resting on her palm.  Brian was kind of inscrutable, arms folded in front of him, no real expression on his face.

I feel like they’re waiting for an elaboration, but does that really need any? I don’t think so.

I explained, “I can deal with real life, if I can leave it behind for this.  Kicking ass, making a name for myself, hanging out with friends.  Having fun.”

I have a feeling Taylor is about to understand what Tattle was talking about back in the car before the robbery.


It kind of surprised me, but I realized what I was saying was true, so I didn’t even need to worry about tipping Lisa off.  A second later, I realized I might have been a little presumptuous.  “I mean, assuming that we arefrien-”

Yes. Yes you are, and the fact that you’re doubting that they see you that way is actually a bit sad. It makes total sense with your experiences on that front though.

“If you finish that sentence,” Lisa warned me, “I’m going to slap you across the head.”

Hehehe.

I felt the heat of a flush in my cheeks and ears.

“Yes, Taylor, we’re friends,” Brian said, “And we appreciate, or at least, Iappreciate that you trusted us enough to share your story.”

She hasn’t even shared that much with her dad. Face it, Taylor: You’ve got friends. 🙂


I don’t mean to imply that dads in general, or Taylor’s dad specifically, have an innate right to know about things like this. All I’m saying is that Taylor and her dad seem to have a rather trusting relationship on every front but this one, and Taylor at this point trusts the Undersiders with things she hasn’t trusted even Danny with.


I wasn’t sure what to say in response to that.  The fact that he’d heard it and didn’t give me a hard time, it meant a hell of a lot to me.  Only Alec was really getting on my case about it, and he wasn’t doing it in a mean spirited way.

Yeah, if anything, Alec is trying to help Taylor, in his own way.

Brian frowned.  “Don’t suppose either of you are going to share your stories?”

Alec shook his head and stretched his arms above his head before resting them on his full stomach, his silence answer enough.

…why, Brian? Are you inclined to share? I’d be up for that.

I imagine he ended up in a situation where all he wanted was to hide from everything else, and maybe shut out the sound too, like how Taylor was in a situation where her mind reached out for something, anything, she could have some control over.

Lisa, for her part, grinned and said, “Sorry.  I like you guys, but I’m going to need a few drinks before I share that particular tidbit, and I’m not legal to drink for a few years yet.”

Hehe.

So Lisa, by extension of the idea expressed above, would’ve been in a situation where she had no idea what was going on, who people were, and just generally not knowing, until her mind reached out for a way to Know all the things, all of them. She’d probably go through something similar to Taylor’s sensory overload, being force fed knowledge about everyone and everything around her until she learned to shut it out and direct it like her eyes’ gaze.

Alec… I don’t know exactly what it would be, but I feel like it was probably in self defence somehow.

And then there’s Rachel: “this dog is adorable but it isn’t metal enough wait shit now it’s huge and deadly”.


“Doesn’t seem fair that Taylor’s the only one sharing,” Brian pointed out.

“I- I didn’t tell my story because I expected you guys to reciprocate,” I hurried to add, “Really, it’s fine.”

I think Brian understands that, but it’s probably a good disclaimer to have anyway. You did ask about their stories right before telling yours.

“You’re volunteering, then?” Lisa asked Brian, ignoring my protests.

Brian nodded, “Yeah, I guess I am.”

Hell yes.

Aaand that’s the end of the chapter, so I guess it’s hell yes for next time.


End of Shell 4.3

FINALLY

We’ve been waiting for this story for so long, and this chapter certainly didn’t disappoint.  It also doubled as a fantastic Taylor-Undersiders bonding scene, demonstrating Taylor’s trust in the others and cementing that she really has made some great friends. It also also gave some interesting insights into how powers are awakened in this ‘verse, which is something I’ve been interested in for quite some time. I definitely think Wildbow was right to keep us waiting.

So yeah, I’ve lost track of how long Wildbow’s streak of fantastic chapters has lasted now, but it’s certainly staying strong!

Next time, we’re in for Brian’s origin story, which should be interesting. I’ve already delineated how I expect that to have gone, and seeing if the truth matches will make or break my theory that the circumstances of your trigger event affects what power you get (or maybe vice versa, what power you have lying latent affects what needs to happen for it to awaken). Which… I guess I only heavily implied that I had come to that conclusion based on Taylor’s story, and didn’t explicitly state it? But that’s totally where the speculation about Brian and Lisa’s trigger events came from.

Anyway, to summarize: Fantastic chapter that’s been a long time coming, and I’m very much looking forward to next time.

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One thought on “Shell 4.3: Bug Girl Begins

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