Source material: Worm, Interlude 4
Originally blogged: July 10, 2017
no wait, let’s try that again
So, it’s time for another Interlude!
I wonder whom we’ll be following today. If it’s not a new character, I guess… it might be Danny again? Or perhaps Purity, following up from Interlude 3½? Or maybe it’s time to check in on Lung’s perspective, or one of his lackeys’.
Honestly, further speculation on the Interludes in advance has proven kind of futile so far. Or I’m just not very good at it, it could be that. Either way, it’s probably best I just move on and let Wildbow take me on whatever wild, wild ride he has in store for me this time.
[Even if I hadn’t come to this conclusion, there’s no way I would’ve correctly guessed it for this particular Interlude…]
Let’s read some Worm, shall we?
A whistle. Brutus’ ears perk up.
Oh fuck yes. I think this is a chapter about Rachel. While I don’t exactly love her character, I’ve been wanting some answers for half an arc now, and I feel like we might be getting them now.
…if the entire chapter is written from Brutus’ perspective, that’s going to be amazing.
Already jumping off the bed as second whistle comes, just after the first. Two whistles like that means come. Master only asks for dogs to come to the front stairs if it is time for walkies!
Walkies are Brutus’ favorite thing!
It is! I’m loving this already. 😀
(At least this part is, and Wildbow has yet to switch perspectives within a chapter.)
Other dogs are bumping shoulders with Brutus in hurry to get to Master. Turn corner too fast, claws scratch at floor to get grip. Fall a little. Judas hesitates, sniffs, but Angelica is ahead of Brutus now. Bad girl.
I love the fragmented, broken style this is written in, it’s perfect for this.
Brutus snarls a little at Angelica, she backs away, drops behind. Brutus is top dog. Angelica should know that. Brutus arrives at Master first, the way it should be.
So is Brutus top dog, or does he just think he is? 😛
I wonder what Judas has to say about that.
Brutus is top dog, but Master is alpha. Leader of this pack. Not leader of her people-pack but that is okay.
Interesting that Brutus has successfully analyzed the power dynamics among the Undersiders. Clever dog. 🙂
She bends down and scratches all over Brutus’ neck and shoulders, deep, rough. Perfect scratches because they dig through Brutus’ thick fur. Tail is wagging so hard that back paws are slipping on floor. Fall over and turn belly up so Master can scratch it. She does and it is ecstasy.
This is so damn adorable.
Master is hurt and hurting. Brutus knows this. When she bends down, she is moving more slowly, she is making little sounds as she makes bigger movements like bending down and standing up. She smells like dried blood and stress and sweat in ways she usually doesn’t.
So this doesn’t seem to be a flashback. It sounds like it’s after Rachel’s return to the HQ, when she’s hurt from her altercations with the Anti-Bitch Brigade.
“Angelica, Judas, stay,” Master says, “Not taking you two.” Brutus doesn’t understand but Master sounds apologetic.
Huh. Never mind, it is a flashback. It raises further questions, though: Why was Rachel already hurt? Did she get attacked while out without her dogs, then go home to fetch Brutus and go out again?
[There is so much wrong with past me’s thought processes here.]
Like when she was walking up stairs and accidentally kicked Brutus in chin because he was following too close behind her.
She scratches each of them in turn. Not enthusiastic scratches. They are happy to be scratched but they aren’t coming for walkies. Brutus’ tail stops wagging. Is Brutus not coming for walkies?
Master picks up leash. “Brutus, good boy. Walkies?”
I wonder, is Rachel actually talking like this, or is this just how Brutus is parsing it? It could very easily be either.
I suppose Brutus would’ve had to pick up the word “walkies” from somewhere.
Tail is wagging crazy hard again. Master tells Brutus to sit, Brutus sits. Is good boy.
Good dog, best friend 🙂
Master puts plastic bags in back pocket, puts on backpack. Backpack unusual. Master doesn’t usually bring backpack for walkies. Errand?
“We’re going on an errand, okay boy?” Master speaks. Brutus’ tail wags. Brutus was right! Errands always interesting.
Hm. What exactly does that entail from Brutus’ perspective? I guess it’s just generally when she has to do something that’s not just standard walkies. He might also be associating it with Master using her power on him.
Brutus eagerly takes a few steps forward before remembering to be a good boy. Master doesn’t like it when Brutus pulls on leash.
It’s probably best to train the dogs not to pull on the leash before going walkies with them in hellhound form.
She puts on shoes, gets the keys that jangle, gets crinkly wrapper things she sometimes eats that Brutus can’t because Brutus is a dog.
Crinkly wrapper things go in left pocket. She gets treats for dogs to put in right pocket, stops. Gives treats to Judas and Angelica. Treat for Brutus?
“Treats later,” Master says. ‘Later’ is familiar word but meaning unclear. Brutus feels crushing disappointment as treats go in Master’s right pocket.
Aww. No treat for Brutus. Brutus sad.
Jumps up a little to remind Master she forgot to give a treat. Master makes angry clucking noise and Brutus is sorry now. Tail down, ears down.
Poor little friend.
“Bitch, hold up,” speaks the scentless man. Scentless man makes Brutus nervous because he is big but he has no smell. But he is Master’s alpha so Master stops and listens.
Now this is interesting. This doesn’t seem to be something the other Undersiders know about. Is this the Boss, talking to Rachel in person while staying anonymous to the rest, or does Rachel have a second boss? I’m leaning towards the former.
Scentless. That’s practically “anonymous” in dog terms, isn’t it? And apparently he is “big”, though that’s from Brutus’ perspective, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt.
“You’re going out?” the scentless man asks.
“Work,” Master says.
The scentless man waits for something, then speaks again, “Are you okay?”
“Fuckin’ peachy.” Brutus knows Master only says fuck word like that when she’s mad.
(It briefly crossed my mind that it could actually be Grue, his scent obscured by his darkness, but that doesn’t make a lick of sense for a variety of reasons both in and out of this scene.)
“I have a hard time believing that, to be honest. You were in pretty rough shape when I found you with Über and Leet’s henchmen, and those guys from the ABB.”
Maybe this is after 4.10, but Rachel is going out with only Brutus again? For some unknown reason.
Also I guess this puts to bed the idea that the puppy speak was just Brutus’ parsing. I like it better with Rachel actually talking like that, anyway.
“I’m fine now,” Master tells him. She sounds angry. Brutus steps forward, ready to growl to add own voice to hers, but Master tugs on leash just a little and Brutus stays quiet.
Supportive little friend 😀
“When I found you, one of them had you tied to the ceiling by your wrists and was using you as a punching bag.”
Master breaks eye contact. Brutus knows this is a sign that Master sees the scentless man as her alpha.
Brutus is pretty good at interpreting human body language, but believably so. It’s nonsense to think dogs don’t pick up on such things after a while living with humans.
When she speaks, she still sounds angry, “I fucked up. I was bored, restless, figured I’d walk Angelica and see if I could meet you guys where the money was.
Ohhh, right, it was Angelica she took out back then. My brain had gotten it switched around and thought she was the one I was sure was home.
This is clearly cemented as being in the usual chronological order, then. Although it’s still tricky to place it relative to 3.11 – it could even be happening concurrently, explaining the absence of Lisa and Brian, though if that were the case, I suppose Alec would likely be here.
Someone recognized me and tailed me. I was stupid, I took my licks for it. I’m fine now, we have the money, all is well.”
Having a publicly known identity is a hassle.
For the record, there are more reasons I’m discounting the scentless man being Brian than just “he wasn’t aware of Rachel leaving” back then, which has now proven irrelevant since this isn’t the same scene of her leaving. Granted, the main other reason – that the scentless man called her “Bitch” rather than “Rachel”, breaking the rule of using civilian names while they’re not in costume – is a bit weaker. Another reason is that he’d probably have to be using the darkness in order for it to mask his scent, and I think Brutus would’ve commented on that.
Granted, judging by my attempts at identifying people last chapter, this guy could be Glory Girl for all I know.
[The confusing thing here is that until I reread this bit, I thought part of past me’s unwritten justification was that he knew – from 3.12 – that the darkness doesn’t stop smells.]
The scentless man sighs. Sounds a little angry as he says, “It’s not… no, nevermind. No use getting into it. But what if someone recognizes you while you’re walking him?”
It’s a good point.
“I’ll fight back sooner, harder. Or are you going to tell me I can’t walk my dogs anymore?” All of a sudden, Master is tense. Brutus can see it in her legs, hear it in her voice, feel it in her grip on the leash.
I think even if this guy is her alpha, if he tries to stop Rachel from doing what is best for her dogs, he’s got another thing coming.
“I wouldn’t do that,” the scentless man replies, his voice quiet, slightly strained “And you wouldn’t listen even if I did. Just… be careful.”
Looks like he knows that.
“I can go?”
“Go. Enjoy your walk, both of you.”
Oh, I think at least one of them will! Walkies!
And the tension leaves Master. One small whistle and Brutus knows to follow. Down the stairs and out the door into the outside world. So many smells! So many sounds! So exciting!
But can’t get too excited. Brutus is good boy. Doesn’t pull on leash like Angelica still does. Master always makes angry clucking noise at Angelica on walkies.
Has anyone drawn Rachel in a chicken costume yet?
cluck, cluck, cluck… BACAW!
Master is walking slower. Favoring one leg. Brutus is eager for walkies but doesn’t pull on leash even if Master is walking slower.
She took a bit of a beating there, huh.
So many smells! Being in own territory is good but being on walkies is smelling whole world.
I want “Being on walkies is smelling whole world!” on a mug. I don’t really use mugs much, but it’d be a fun one to have.
Hang on. I just searched my blog for “Brutus”, to remind myself which breed he was, and it showed me that it wasn’t Angelica Rachel took on walkies when she was followed – it was Judas. Did Rachel and/or Wildbow forget and tell the scentless man the wrong dog?
I mean, I see no reason for Rachel to lie about which dog she brought.
Also, Brutus is the Rottweiler.
Always new things, always new things to smell about old things. Smell this pee and know almost everything about the dog who peed. Bitch. Maybe in heat soon. Lives with kids.
Pee smells like stress and eating too much grass and sleeping too much and being a fat dog.
I love this Interlude.
Smell that poo to know about dog who pooed. Hungry dog. Hungry dog’s master probably hungry too. Many like that here. Not like that in Brutus’ old home. No people or dogs there were hungry. But Brutus remembers being unhappy. Master was always ignoring Brutus.
Huh, another dog saved from an unhappy home, like Angelica.
Leave Brutus in basement alone all day until Brutus stop bad man who came in basement window. Is okay now. Brutus is happy now with new master.
I wonder if this is the case for Judas too.
Smell that pee. Human pee. Not as interesting. Master whistles to remind Brutus to keep up. No more sniffing for now.
“Brutus, sit, stay,” Master orders. Brutus sits and stays while Master stands beside him. Is good boy. Gets scratched by Master. Little female human is walking up to Brutus. Smaller than Brutus. Pats at Brutus, pokes. One poke in eye. Brutus’ ears down, head down, tail between legs. Not good scratches. Little human laughs. Poke again in Brutus’ side.
Ow! Stop that!
Brutus looks up at Master. Pleading. Master not saying anything so Brutus stays while being poked. Little human grabbing Brutus’ fur on side and pulling too hard.
Why isn’t Rachel intervening here? Like, I’m not saying this girl needs to be punished or anything, but it doesn’t seem like Rachel to allow someone to mistreat her dog out of ignorance.
Like Angelica when Angelica was new to Master’s pack, biting and pulling and making Brutus bleed. Bad memory. Growl starts in Brutus’ throat.
“No, Brutus, off,” Master orders. Brutus lowers head. No more growling. Still being poked. Still being pulled at.
Big female human that smells like the little human arrives. Is walking fast. Big female stops and laughs at Brutus and little human.
“Aren’t they cute?” Another laugh.
Master doesn’t laugh.
“Well, kids will be kids.”
At least someone’s taking responsibility here. Except she isn’t.
Master speaks, her voice even but her body language is angry, “Watch your fucking child.”
I suppose maybe she didn’t intervene because it could get an unfortunate reaction from the mother?
Brutus knows watch is order for Brutus to sit and stay and bark if anyone comes… but Master is talking to big female and not giving order to Brutus.
Yes, Master is telling big female to sit and stay and bark if anyone comes.
Other word Brutus knows is fucking which means Master is mad but Brutus isn’t the one she’s saying fucking to so it is okay.
I love that Brutus understands this.
Brutus thinks maybe it’s okay to growl now because Master said fucking so he growls. Smells fear from little human and big female. Master doesn’t say no so it was okay for Brutus to growl.
This is so thoroughly adorable.
Big female laughs but laugh sounds different than before, shrill. Waves her hand. Bends down to pick up little human.
“Brutus, guard,” Master orders. Brutus quickly looks at Master and Master is pointing at little human so Brutus moves between little human and big female and growls at big female. Big female backs away. Brutus smells lots of fear now.
What are you doing, Rachel?
Is she going to, like, start poking at the girl to show the two of them what it’s like for Brutus?
Smells sweat and stress and hears little noises of worry and fear from both the big female and little human.
Big female steps to one side and Brutus moves to stay between her and little human. She bends down again and Brutus growls, snaps at her fingers. Is good boy.
Big female talks to Master, “Please. She was just doing what kids do. She thinks all dogs are cuddly.” Her voice is submissive, sounding like more worry and fear.
Cutting the mother off from her daughter like this, does this count as a sort of… kidnapping? Probably not, but it’s not that dissimilar.
“Brutus, mouth.” Brutus looks where Master is pointing and Master is pointing at little human. Brutus obeys by grabbing little human’s arm and holding it in his mouth. Is good boy. Little human howls and tries to pull away but Brutus closes mouth a little each time and little human soon understands that arm is staying in Brutus’ mouth.
Then Master tells big female, “He’s an abused dog, you know. Before I owned him, he was mistreated. Until he hurt someone so badly they needed amputation. I rescued him before he was put down. And you just let your kid walk up to him and start clawing at him. Do you understand what could have happened? That he could have killed or maimed your fucking mouthbreather of a child?”
This is a very valid point. You shouldn’t let her do that regardless of whether the dog has been abused, but there’s no way of knowing, and it’s good that Rachel is forcing the woman to consider the potential consequences.
Brutus only knows his own name and word kill. Other words don’t mean anything to Brutus.
Kill is order to attack and not stop until that thing isn’t moving anymore.
I guess that’s one way of putting it.
Master only gives Brutus and Judas and Angelica order to kill with squirrels and racoons and once a horse.
At least he has shown awareness of whom Rachel is talking to and hopefully won’t consider her saying “kill” as an order to him.
Big female is on knees now and fear smell is all Brutus can smell right now. Is good to be lower than Master and showing submission. Big woman is saying things but Brutus can’t understand because she is talking and not stopping.
I think she might’ve learned her lesson.
“Brutus, off. Come,” Master says and Brutus lets go of arm and walks to Master’s side. Little human still howling.
Then Master tells big female same thing as before: “Watch your fucking child.” Walkies begin again. Get scratched. Master says Brutus is good boy and Brutus is happy. Tail wagging.
Hopefully the woman remembers this. The girl too, but with her the ignorance is more excusable.
Is long walkies before Brutus and Master stop at a place that smells like blood and dog fear and dog rage and pee and poop. Master knocks on door. Man who opens door smells like blood.
So what’s up here? Has Rachel caught a whiff of this guy abusing dogs or something? It might be a dog-fighting ring.
Master and man talk for a while, and Brutus waits because Brutus is good boy. Not paying attention to what they’re saying because of smells. Bad smells. Sounds of dogs yelping and barking from inside the door.
Whatever this is, it’s clearly not a good place for dogs.
Then Master says “Stay” and man starts touching Brutus. Touches like vet touches, not like Master scratching.
Ahh. Fair enough. That was one of the things that went through my mind before I arrived at dog-fighting.
Feeling each part of Brutus, fingers deep in fur to massage, check. Hands on Brutus’ private parts. Says things that sound negative, shakes head. Master talks some more. Man stands and shakes her hand.
Master takes Brutus into the place that smells like blood and dog fear and dog rage. Noisy. Lots of people sitting in dark. Smell like excitement and sweat. Most lights are in middle of room where blood smell is strongest.
Actually, you know what, I’m going back to the dog-fighting theory. But what is Rachel doing here? She may be a villain whose primary tactic is sending dogs to fight for her, but those dogs are massively buffed up and I’ll be surprised if she condones normal dog-fighting.
Is she about to make Brutus a hellhound in the middle of a fight and then have him thrash the establishment?
Man from door tells master, “Put him right in the gate.” Master puts Brutus in something like kennel that smells like rage and fear.
Man talks in loud voice and all the people in room howl and make more noise. Man says Brutus’ name. He says kill which is a word Brutus knows. But blood smell is so strong here Brutus can’t pay attention to much else. So much blood from so many dogs. So many smells.
So much immoral canine pain and suffering.
Then the kennel is open and Brutus has nowhere to go but center of room. Can’t go to Master because boxes are in way and there’s another dog here bigger than Brutus that smells like rage and his own blood and other dog blood and death.
Then Brutus feels it. Master is making Brutus stronger and it hurts but it’s a good hurt.
Good hurt like when Brutus is stiff and stretches and joints snap and pop and Brutus feels better because of it. Only this stretch doesn’t stop and Brutus keeps popping and cracking and Brutus keeps feeling better and Brutus gets bigger.
Considering how much gets turned basically inside out on the hellhounds, it makes a lot of sense that it would feel like this.
Master usually takes longer to make Brutus this strong but Brutus is in room alone with the dog that smells like blood and death and Master must know Brutus needs to be stronger.
Oh, I see, so she can regulate it. Starting early and taking it slow like she did at the bank may be preferable, but she can do it faster in a pinch.
Soon Brutus is bigger than Master and as big as car and Brutus is strong. Bad dog that smells like blood and death is cowering.
Then Master whistles twice which is order to come and Brutus is confused because there is no way to come. Master whistles again and calls Brutus’ name and Brutus lunges for boxes that are in the way. Boxes break and Brutus can come to Master like a good boy.
“Brutus, guard!” Master says and Brutus goes where Master is pointing, and that is door where all the people who smell like fear are going.
Can’t abscond from this lesson, assholes!
To get to door and guard it Brutus uses paws to push people out of the way and grabs one person’s arm and flings her to one side like Brutus likes to fling favorite toys and person makes shrill howl.
And even in this scenario, this perspective still remains adorable.
Then Brutus is guarding door and people are running other way. Reminds Brutus of squirrels and how squirrels run. But people are not as fast or clever as squirrels and they don’t play unfair by running up trees.
“Brutus! Attack!” Master shouts and Brutus obeys like a good boy. Brutus uses paws and teeth and size to jump into the crowd of people who are running like squirrels and make them stop running. Brutus knows it’s bad to shake people like Brutus shakes toys or shakes squirrels. No shaking. No chewing. Bite arm and leg only. No biting heads.
Basically: No killing.
Using paws is okay but claws aren’t which is hard
Cats have it way easier on that front.
so Brutus mostly bites and slams into people with head and body to knock them over and make them stop. Sometimes uses tail which is new and fun. Brutus doesn’t have tail when small.
Oh, that’s interesting, that the tail kind of grows back in hellhound form.
Or rather, he grows a hellhound tail.
Lots of people. Every time Brutus thinks all people have stopped moving someone runs again. Takes a long time. Brutus’ tongue lolls out, panting. Tail wags and boxes break and Master makes clucking noise like Brutus did something bad. No more wagging tail.
Brutus seems to be having fun, at least.
People lying on floor whimpering. Smell like blood and fear. Nobody running like squirrel anymore.
Master shouts, “No more!” and it is word for the people and not for Brutus. Both are words Brutus knows. No means bad and is for things Brutus shouldn’t do. More is what Master says when giving treats or throwing balls or filling bowls with food. Brutus doesn’t understand because one word is bad and the other is good. But Master is alpha and Master knows so it is okay.
This is a nice short illustration of how Brutus parses speech: Word by word. Sentences are too advanced for him to understand, unless it’s a sentence he hears often enough to parse it as a single long word.
Master takes jangly keys from whimpering person
I’m beginning to think most keys are “jangly” to Brutus.
and picks up cage with angry dog inside that smells like blood. Master takes cage outside and puts it in car and tells Brutus to guard the cars. Some people leave place but Brutus doesn’t let anyone near cars. Is good boy.
New addition to the pack?
Master goes inside and gets more cages with angry dogs and puts them all in the car. Then Master does it again.
…additions to the pack?
Master gets backpack and uses ropes from backpack to tie cages together and tie cages to car.
I don’t think these are all going to be additions to the pack. Maybe one of them, but more likely she’s taking all of them to a place she trusts to treat them right.
Then Master goes inside for long time and doesn’t come out. People are gone so Brutus doesn’t need to guard anymore. Brutus goes to Master inside.
Master is kneeling beside cages and dogs inside smell like blood and poo. But dogs aren’t angry, aren’t moving.
Oh no 😥
She found dead doggos.
Brutus nuzzles master with nose and lies down beside Master and Master wraps her arms around Brutus’ neck. Master hugs Brutus tight for very long time. Brutus knows it is a long time because Brutus stops being big and becomes smaller than Master.
Sadness. Friends. Comfort.
Cars that make howling sounds start to come from far away and Brutus makes little barks like Master taught him.
Sit and stay and bark if the police shows up.
Master gets up and takes Brutus into the car and gets in other door and the car starts moving.
Master opens and eats crinkly thing from pocket. Master gives Brutus treat then rolls down window so Brutus can stick his head out in the wind and Brutus’ tail wags because Brutus knows he was a good boy.
Yes he was. He was a very good boy.
End of Interlude 4
holy shit that was adorable.
I love this Interlude, plain and simple. Brutus’ perspective was such a joy to read throughout the chapter, and so well written. And then there are the actual events of the chapter – the scentless man, who is probably the Undersiders’ boss and apparently knows Rachel in person; the lesson taught to the careless mother; the thrashing of the dog-fighting ring. All of it, coddamn fantastic.
Not to mention we finally got the answer to what actually happened to Rachel in Shell, and possibly found a plot error.
12 out of 10, would walkies again!
Anyway, next chapter, we’re delving into Arc 5. I don’t know what to expect here… I guess it’ll take place during Taylor’s downtime and the Undersiders’ attempt to stay out of trouble for a bit. I’m not so sure that’ll last, though.
See ya then!