Tangle 6.7: Like a Boss

Source material: Worm, Tangle 6.7

Originally blogged: September 14, 2017


[pre-intro]

I’m about to start liveblogging chapter 6.7 of Worm, but if some of you would rather tune out and play Hiveswap when it’s released in less than an hour(!), I promise I won’t be offended. 😉

(Holy shit, after all this time it’s finally happening.)


Tangle 6.7

Stop! Worm time.

Howdy! So, last time, we witnessed a quite varied fight between the Undersiders and Armsmaster, with some help from Miss Militia and Velocity on the latter’s side. It very much had the feel of a boss battle, and concluded with the Undersiders’ epic departure from the building.

But is that actually the end of the Arc? I don’t think so. The Decision is a major running thread through the Arc so far, and I’m inclined to think that it might be final by the end. There’s also the issue of the Undersiders’ – especially notably Taylor’s – reward for this highly successful mission: Meeting the boss. Maybe we’re already getting into that with this chapter?

But then there’s also the possibility that all of that is the focus of Arc 7. Really depends on how long Wildbow intends to make the Decision subplot finale, I suppose. In that case, I guess this chapter might be a wind-down chapter more like 4.11, before taking us to Interlude 6 next time.

I guess there’s only one way to find out!


Leaping from rooftop to rooftop was not as awesome or efficient as it was on TV and in the movies.

Says you!

But yeah, makes sense. Rooftops aren’t exactly made for that kind of thing, usually.

Okay, so I take it we’re picking up roughly when we left off, just after the Undersiders left the gallery a mess. Alright!

Even if it was the dogs doing the brunt of the work, they weren’t the most graceful of creatures, they weren’t built to be ridden, and we didn’t have any saddles.

Certainly sounds like a bumpy ride, in more ways than one.

There was also the distinct issue of there being buildings of wildly varying heights, similar to how Brian’s neighborhood sported old Victorian style buildings amid apartments and condos.

Like escalators, that’s only really helpful one way and a tempting challenge the other way.

As Judas hopped down from the side of a six story building, dug his claws into the side of a neighboring building to slow his descent, then jumped the rest of the way down to the asphalt of an alleyway, I was genuinely concerned the landings would dislocate my hip.

Ow.


In short, I was grateful to be back on terra firma.

“Need a hand!” Bitch called out, a moment after Brutus set down. She had a prone Tattletale lying across her lap and Brutus’ shoulders, and it looked like Tattletale was falling off, despite Bitch’s best efforts to hold on to her.

Yup, definitely following right where we left off.

Tattle doesn’t seem to be doing too well. :/

I reluctantly let go of Grue as he slipped down from Judas and rushed over to help. I silently lamented having included the panels of armor on my chest and stomach, which had been a solid barrier between my body and his back as I clung to him on our retreat from the Forsberg Gallery.

Looks like there’s something Taylor’s given up on denying to herself.

Whatever my regrets, I wasn’t oblivious to the matter at hand. I hopped down off Judas’ back and hurried over to help with Tattletale, just a step behind Grue. It proved easier to slide her down to the sidewalk than to get her back up onto Brutus’ back.

I missed the “to” in “down to the sidewalk” at first… made for a rather silly mental image.

Grue did the heavy lifting, while I focused on keeping her head and arms from hitting the ground or getting caught under her. As I bent down to help ease her to the ground, I could already feel the stiffness in the muscles of my thighs, back and stomach. I was glad I’d done my morning exercise earlier, because there was no way I was going to be able to go anywhere tomorrow.

So, what, you’re just not gonna do your morning run tomorrow? How unlike you to let something as simple as not being able to move a muscle stop you from getting your daily exercise, Taylor. 😉


I glanced around us. Cars were zipping past on the streets at either end, but there weren’t many pedestrians, and none appeared to have spotted us, thus far. My suspicions were that most people in the downtown area who were out and about would be near Lord Street, celebrating the end of the curfew.

Oh yeah, I’m sure a lot of people have been itching to get back in the streets in the evening.

That said, what with the continued gang bullshit from Kaiser and Coil, who knows how long the lack of a curfew will last.

People would be acting out their relief over the end of the ABB situation, making up for time they’d spent cooped up in their homes during the six nights of curfew.

Six nights of curfew is a long time for social people, I suppose.


“Anyone see capes following?” Grue asked.

“I didn’t see anyone, but I wasn’t really looking. That’s usually Tattletale’s job,” Regent replied.

That’s fair. Force of habit caused it to slip his mind that he should be looking out, especially without Grue or someone else telling him to.

“She can’t give us any info like this,” Grue pointed out.

“Wait,” I told him.

Hm? What are you thinking of, Taylor?

I reached back into my utility compartment and fished out the changepurse. I removed the tissues I’d wadded up inside to keep the change from rattling and found one of the three tiny white packets at the bottom of the bag. I tore the packet open and held it under Tattletale’s nose.

“Smelling salts?” Grue asked.

I nodded.

Armsmaster may be the ultimate boy scout, but he’s not the only one who comes prepared!

“You asked if anyone had any after we put down Über and Leet. I made a mental note to have ’em for next time.”

“I bet half of us did,” Regent replied, “The weird thing is that you actually followed through, dork.”

Hehe 🙂


“What’s weird about that?” I asked, a bit defensively.

He was distracted from replying.

To Regent, it’s strange to make plans and actually act on them when the time comes. I’m thinking he probably wouldn’t remember to do it later unless someone mentioned it.

I’ve… kind of developed an ADD headcanon for Regent, I think. It kind of helps explain some of his quirks.

For instance, he seems to have a hard time giving his all and really focusing on things if they’re not particularly stimulating his interest. I think that goes for everyone, but especially ADHD folks. I suppose it’s fairly weak evidence, though.

I don’t know, the headcanon/theory is new and not really that fleshed out yet. I’ll be paying attention from now on to see if I notice more ADD-ish behavior from him (while of course trying to keep confirmation bias in check).

Tattletale stirred, turning her head to get her nose away from the smelling salts. I moved them back under her nose.

She woke, mumbling, “Okay, stop.”

“Welcome back,” Grue told her.

hoi

“How do you feel?” I asked.

“My stomach feels like someone ran it through a blender, and my arm hurts like hell, but I’m tougher than I look,” she said. Not one second later, she groaned and huffed out a breath, “But I’m going to need help to stand.”

She took some pretty hard hits back there, no wonder.

(Also the superior term for that particular kitchen device is clearly “whirling blade pitcher”.)


Grue and I helped her. She was hurting, and moved at a glacial pace. It was made more difficult by the fact that she apparently didn’t want either of us to touch her right arm.

“What’d I miss?” she asked, as if to distract from the fact that she was moving like an old woman.

They should probably get Tattle to that parahuman doctor.

“Tee el dee arr, you got bitchslapped and knocked out, it was down to Bitch and Skitter, and we still got away,” Regent shrugged.

Tattletale froze in her tracks. Since Grue and I were still easing her to a standing position, I was forced to shift my grip to ensure she didn’t fall.

Shit,”

Hm?

she managed to fit more invective into that one word than some of the people from my dad’s work could manage in ten, and some of those guys were seamen. Tattletale turned her head, “That’s not-”

“Not true,” Armsmaster spoke, echoing her words as he rounded the end of the alley.

oh.

shit.


He looked worse for wear. The lower half of his face had welts on it, not many, but some. I’d instructed the hornets to sting so they weren’t coiling their abdomens, which meant they weren’t squeezing the venom sacs and injecting venom with every sting.

It’s really cool just how much control Taylor has over her bugs.

I’d only injected enough venom to make it hurt a little, to distract. After I’d beaten my retreat, though, I knew some would have stayed on him, and a few would have stung him after I was out of range and no longer able to control the hornets. The welts weren’t the bad part, though.

…then what is?

What caught my eye, though, were the six thin trickles of blood running down the lower half of his face. Hornet bites weren’t necessarily capable of penetrating skin, as much as they might hurt, but there had been a lot of them, and if a few happened to bite in the same location, or if they caught the edge of an eyelid or nostril? Maybe. I noticed his Halberd in his right hand.

Ouch.

So what’s the plan, Armsy? Continue the fight? Negotiate? Out Taylor?


When I looked at our remaining escape route, Dauntless was at the other end of the alley. Brockton Bay’s rising star.

Welp, he’s got backup. I’m guessing Dauntless isn’t the only one, either.

It would have been easy to peg him as a tinker, but he apparently wasn’t. His power let him, according to details he’d leaked when he’d appeared on TV and in magazines, imbue his gear with a little bit of power every day.

Hm, interesting. So in a way somewhat like Battery, he has to charge up, but for him it’s over the course of days?

Thing was, every bit of power he parceled out had permanent effects.

Ohh. Well, that changes things. So instead of charging up and then discharging, he’s charging up, and up, and up, and up and potentially becoming stronger every day… I like it.

Every day, he was just a little bit stronger than he’d been the day before. A little bit more versatile. It was expected that he would eventually surpass even the likes of Alexandria, Legend and Eidolon, the ‘triumvirate’ of the Protectorate, the top dogs. That kind of made him a big deal in Brockton Bay, a hometown hero.

Oh hey, it’s been a while since we’ve heard of the triumvirate. Did we know which heroes were part of it already? I don’t think so.

Alexandria we already know to be the namesake of the “standard Alexandria package”, which sounds analogous to Superman-esque powers, such as flight, invulnerability, super strength and so on.

Legend… was that one of the people mentioned to be able to get around the Manton effect? *searches blog*Ooh, no, this was the guy who could shoot lasers from his eyes and make the lasers turn corners!

Eidolon, I don’t think I’ve heard of, though the name sounds familiar to me because of Thomas “EidolonOrpheus” Ferkol, one of the Homestuck musicians. I guess the word “Eidolon” has connotations outside Worm. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say.

…apparently it primarily refers to a type of ghost from Greek tradition. Although the article leaves it a little unclear to me if the eidolon is supposed to be a remnant of the dead or just a lookalike.

I suppose Eidolon’s power might involve either Danny Phantom style phasing (though we kind of already have that to some extent with Shadow Stalker, and that power doesn’t sound particularly triumvirate-worthy on its own) or illusions?


I didn’t follow that stuff, didn’t buy into the hero worship. I’d always found the capes interesting, I’d followed the non-gossipy news about them, but with the exception of a phase around the time I was nine where I’d had an Alexandria t-shirt and had my mom help me find pictures of her online, I had never really got giddy over any particular hero.

There had better be fanart of giddy nine-year-old Taylor in an Alexandria t-shirt.

I mean, I suppose it’d be spoilery until I get a physical description of Alexandria, assuming I will. But it had better exist out there.

Dauntless packed a few trademark pieces of gear. He had his Arclance, a spear he held in one hand that looked like it was made of white lightning. His shield, fixed to his left forearm, was a metal disc about the size of a dinner plate, surrounded by rings of the same kind of energy that made up the spear.

Sounds quite cool.

Kind of gives off a Hellenic vibe. The spear and shield combo makes me think of hoplites (though hoplite shields were significantly bigger), and the lightning bit is reminiscent of the typical depictions of Zeus throwing lightning spears down on Earth.

Finishing his current set of empowered items were his boots. His feet looked like they were encased in the white crackling energy.

So does he have a limit to how many pieces of empowered items he can wear at a time? I’d imagine he’s not carrying only his spear, shield and boots – why doesn’t he have empowered pants, for example?

As for what the empowering actually does… I don’t know what to expect. I’m guessing the boots might boost his speed or jumping, but beyond that it could be pretty much anything. Doesn’t even necessarily have to do with the items, even – for all I know, the spear could function as a wand that lets people summon oversized weasels.

If rumor was to be believed, he was working on empowering his armor as well, but I couldn’t see any hints of that energy on the costume.

Ah, fair enough.

I had expected that he’d have made a lot of progress, but I don’t actually know how long he’s been working on his equipment, or how much it takes to “level up” some of it.

It was white and gold, and his golden helmet was in the Greek or Spartan style,

Spartans are/were Greek too, Taylor.

Good to see I’m not the only one getting a Greek vibe here, at least!

with slits for the eyes, a band of metal covering his nose, and a slit running down lower half of his face. A band of metal crested the top, like a mohawk.

Nice.


I don’t know, guys, Dauntless’s armor looks more black and blue to me…


You could see the frown crease Armsmaster’s damaged face as he turned his focus to me.

Hm.

Does Armsmaster not want Dauntless’s help here?

Is this still about securing his own reputation, or does he have other plans for the Undersiders?

“I threw your Halberd off the side of the Gallery,” I spoke before he could. “Did Dauntless fetch it for you?”

Heh, nice. Straight for the pride.

He didn’t voice a reply right away. As if to demonstrate, he threw his Halberd straight up in the air. It disappeared into a storm of glowing blue lines as it reached the peak of its ascent, simultaneously rematerializing in his hand. Hadn’t I seen Kid Win bring his cannon to the site of the bank robbery in the same way? A piece of borrowed technology?

Oh, cool. Quite a handy feature to have when your powers manifest through a piece of handheld equipment.


“I’m not about to put so many eggs in one basket without sufficient safeguards,” Armsmaster told me. His voice was tight with repressed anger.

Yeah, that’s fair.

No bugs. Damn it, I had no bugs, again. I’d emptied my armor of bugs when I attacked Armsmaster, and I’d left them and the rest of the swarm back at the Gallery when I made my retreat.

Surrender,” he intoned.

Yeah, that seems to have been a bad move, Taylor. Whoops!

Meanwhile, Armsmaster is so sick of this shit by now.

“Thinking about it,” Tattletale spoke.

“Decide fast,” Armsmaster growled.

I… can’t tell if she’s being facetious or not. She’s the one with the strongest motivating factor to surrender in this situation, what with barely being able to walk and definitely not being up for another fight.

“Why did you guys stop here?” Tattletale murmured to us, “We’re, like, half a block from the parking garage where we stashed our ride.”

“I wanted to make sure there were no pursuers before we peeled out,” Grue replied, “Good thing, too.”

Considering there were pursuers, yep.


“Right,” Regent’s voice was thick with sarcasm, “Because this is so much better than them finding us as we put the key in the ignition.”

Hm… fair point. At least as long as the car can’t be traced back to them.

“Guys,” I cut in, whispering without taking my eyes from Armsmaster, “Answers. Solutions.”

“Get to the parking garage,” Tattletale told us.

Good, but how?

“Our situation there won’t be any better,” Grue countered.

Get to the parking garage,” She hissed through her teeth, as Armsmaster took a step forward.

Hm… sounds like Tattle has a plan of some kind.

The alley was wide enough for two dogs to stand shoulder to shoulder, and I saw Bitch directing two of the animals to stand between us and Armsmaster before Grue blanketed everything but Armsmaster and the dogs in darkness.

Hm… well, at least it ought to hinder Dauntless. Armsmaster can still hear-see through the darkness, right?

The darkness didn’t last more than three seconds. There was enough time for Grue to place his arm against my collarbone and shove me back against the wall, and then he removed the darkness around us. There was a smell like burning ozone. Had Dauntless used his spear?

I suppose Grue should’ve covered Armsmaster too. It probably would’ve left Dauntless less certain about what he’d hit.

It was immediately clear that Dauntless didn’t have much darkness around him. He was holding his shield arm up, and it had formed into a bubble-shaped forcefield, extending in a ten foot radius around himself, touching both walls on either side of us.

Oh, right, he was trying to cover Dauntless too, never mind that last thing.

So the shield allows him to summon a forcefield… very appropriate. 🙂

The forcefield was serving to block off the darkness, and while I wasn’t sure, I suspected that the field was actually eating through any darkness that touched it. It was making a continual sizzling, crackling sound that drowned out the traffic on the roads around us.

Hm, interesting. Does it do this to other things it touches? Doesn’t sound like it’s happening to the walls.


Dauntless advanced a pace, and the forcefield moved a corresponding distance closer to us.

After a second short advance from Dauntless, Grue had to back up a step to avoid touching the field of crackling white energy. A step that closed the distance between us and Armsmaster.

Getting cramped in here.

“Armsmaster hates you,” Tattletale told Dauntless, raising her voice to be heard over the crackling sound the forcefield was generating, “He hates that you’re the next big thing, the guy that’s going to be better than him.

Oh fuck, here we go. It’s time to pull a Tattletale. 😀

That you get the easy road to being a big name in the Protectorate, and he’s the one that has to stay up nights, reworking his stuff, compiling simulations, coming up with new ideas, training in the gym for hours and hours on end. Every second of work he puts in, he gets more and more resentful of you.

No wonder he was frowning.

Why do you think you were the one member of the team he sent off to patrol the city and watch over the Wards, instead of having you come to the party?”

Ahh, so that’s her angle – make Dauntless mad at Armsmaster for that treatment.

Dauntless shook his head. Then he raised his spear hand and tapped one finger against the side of his helmet.

“Ear buds,” Tattletale sighed, “Armsmaster told him to wear ear buds, so Dauntless can’t hear anyone but him. That’s both brilliant and incredibly depressing.”

…wow.


Dauntless advanced two steps, quickly, and all of us, excepting Bitch and Angelica, were in a position where we had to hurry to step back. Regent was too slow, and his hand touched the bubble. A brief arc of energy traced from the field to Regent’s hand as he pulled it back.

“Fuck! Ow!” Regent gasped. “Enough of this shit!”

He raised his other hand, and Dauntless stumbled. Regent then brushed his hand to one side, and Dauntless fell. As Dauntless used both hands to ease his fall, the forcefield dropped away.

Nice work, Regent!

“Go!” Grue bellowed, dismissing his darkness. Bitch whistled twice, hard, and the two dogs that were fighting Armsmaster hurried to follow.

Dauntless raised his spear to impede us. Grue, leading our retreat, leaped over the crackling beam of lightning and brought both feet down on Dauntless’ helmet as he landed. The hero didn’t recover before we were over and past him.

Another masterful escape!

We were free of the alley. Two of the dogs surged past us, getting in the way of incoming traffic so we were clear to cross the street. Cars squealed to a stop as we moved.

Let’s be real, in this city, people are probably used to this kind of thing. There’s probably a whole section of driving courses about how to deal with getting caught in the middle of a cape battle.

Obviously this section is usually not particularly useful due to the varied nature of the powers and motivations of the capes, and helps to bring the cost of getting a license even higher.


We’d just crossed the threshold of the parking garage when Dauntless opened fire, striking Brutus no less than three times with jabs of his Arclance, then turning his attention to Angelica.

Nooo. 😦

The weapon could extend as far as he needed, elongating faster than the eye could follow.

Ooh, that’s cool. Kind of like Chat Noir’s baton from Miraculous Ladybug, but with a blade at the end. I like it!

[A more accurate comparison: Kyoko’s spear from Madoka Magica. It’s pretty much exactly this.]

White sparks flew as it slammed into the animals, but the effect was minor at best. The Arclance was something between a solid and an energy, combining traits of both.

“an energy”

Y’know, between the Arclance combining traits of particles and energy (waves, presumably), and Velocity’s pseudo-Heisenberg-uncertainty deal, I feel like Wildbow may have been on a quantum physics kick when he designed some of these heroes.

It could hit hard enough, with an electrical charge to it to boot, but I suspected that using it on the dogs wasn’t so different from using a hand taser on a bull elephant. They were too big, too tough.

Hm. Then again, electrical currents are among the more solid forms of energy, since they involve the movement of particles.


Finding he wasn’t having much effect on the animals, Dauntless aimed for us.

Regent disrupted Dauntless’ aim, and the Arclance ripped over the windows of the building above the parking garage, bringing a rain of glass shards down on us as we made our way past the gate and into the garage.

Man, there’s been a lot of raining glass in this Arc. Are we sure it’s not called Shatter?

[You’ve seen nothing yet, Pastwell.]

Armsmaster exited the alley and spotted us. Intent on closing the distance, he sent his grappling hook out to catch the metal ‘do not pass if you are above this height’ bar above the door of the parking garage.

I wonder if there are adults out there who think those refer to the driver’s height. Or even better, mistake them for “must be this tall to ride”.

The second the points of the hook closed around the bar, Armsmaster started reeling himself in, his metal boots skidding across the roadtop.

Sheesh, how strongly is the bar attached? The grappling hook should be pulling at that just as hard as it’s pulling on Armsmaster, after all.


Bitch whistled, hard, and pointed to the bar. Judas lunged for it, catching both bar and grappling hook in his jaws. The chain holding the bar up snapped as Judas pulled, and Armsmaster’s skid was interrupted as Judas pulled back on the chain that extended between them.

Ahaha!

Walkies?

Armsmaster shifted to a run, managing to keep his feet under him as his trajectory changed. He extended his stick arm, and I saw a spray of blood fly from Judas’ mouth, the dog rearing back in reaction. Judas let go of both the bar and the hook and backed away several paces, growling.

No walkies for bad human.


As the hook retreated, I saw it wasn’t in its grappling hook form, but the usual halberd-top, complete with blade, spearpoint, and no small amount of blood.

Ouch!

Armsmaster maintained his momentum, finished reeling in, then send the ball out again, his weapon back in flail-style. He brought Judas down, then brought the flail in a wide sweep to keep the other two dogs at bay.

Man, the dogs are really taking some beatings today.

The other Undersiders too, for that matter.

Dauntless continued his approach, stopping just behind and to the side of Armsmaster.

“My mapping program says there’s three ways out of this garage,” Armsmaster informed us, “The doors on the other two exits are locked, and I guarantee you won’t have time to crack the lock or break down the door before I catch up with you. No more tricks, no more-”

I dunno, man, Tattle kinda sounded like she had a plan earlier, even if she didn’t have time to tell us about it.

He stopped mid-sentence, whipped his head to one side, then the other. “Wha-”

And then he disappeared.

Uh?


A yellow painted concrete pillar, the sort that was used to keep cars from parking in front of the stairwell doors, or to protect the ticket vending machine from any collisions, appeared in his place. It hit the ground hard, then toppled onto its side. At the same time, we heard a series of heavy collisions from behind us.

Did he just get crushed?

A steel giant with massive hands and a spout on its back that was spewing volumes of gray-black smoke had one hand closed around Armsmaster. Repeatedly, methodically, it slammed Armsmaster against the hood of a car.

Welp, it seems we’ve run into someone who likes Armsmaster even less than the Undersiders.


Ballistic, with his football player build and angular body armor, stepped out of the shadows between the cars to Dauntless’ left, just by the entrance. A girl I recognized but hadn’t yet seen in person emerged from the right.

“Ballistic, as Brian and I saw just last night, just needs to touch something to have it go rocketing off at a few hundred feet a second. Doesn’t matter if it’s ball bearings or a car.”
– Taylor, Tangle 6.1

So… did Ballistic just send the concrete pillar down on Armsmaster? Shoot Armsmaster himself off somewhere (though that would raise questions involving the Manton effect)?

And then there’s this girl, whom Wildbow evidently wants to describe before naming explicitly…

She wore clown makeup and a jester’s cap, with a teal and orange skintight costume complete with coattails. Bells jangled from the tips of her cap, her coattails, her gloves and boots. Circus.

Well, fitting costume design, that’s for sure!

Circus is the villainess who was very vocal towards the Undersiders about how she works alone… has she had a change of heart and maybe even joined the Travellers, or are Circus and Ballistic not actually working together here?

Her costume, makeup and color scheme were different every time she went out, but the theme was always more or less the same.

Oh, nice. Kind of like Über and Leet, but cooler.


Dauntless moved to retreat, but Sundancer intercepted him, stepping around the front of the building and placing her miniature sun in the center of the entryway to bar exit.

Eyyy, there’s Sundancer, too! I guess the entire team is gonna be here, then.

Also, who’s in the mech, then? Is it even a real mech? Is it the “shapeshifter”, Genesis, with her remotely controlled projections?

Also, looking up the quirk of Genesis’ power on my blog also reminded me of this:

“And Trickster, their leader, is a teleporter. Not just himself. He can make anything he can see teleport. Except there’s a special rule to his power, a restriction. He has to swap the places of two things with roughly equivalent mass. The bigger the difference in mass, the slower the swap and shorter his range.”
– Tattletale, 6.1

Trickster swapped the places of the concrete pillar and Armsmaster (…Manton, buddy, are you feeling alright?). It’s all coming together now. 🙂


I didn’t have enough bugs to contribute, and had too little of an idea of what was happening, besides, so I stayed put and watched as the rest of the scene unfolded with surprising speed.

Taylor doesn’t have the luxury of slowing down and searching a blog recording past dialogue and information in the heat of battle.

Armsmaster fought his way out from the giant metal hand, but found himself dealing with not just the machine, but a creature from the black lagoon, replete with crustacean armor and octopus tentacles in the place of arms and a face.

Oh hey, I just learned a new word.

It seems like Genesis is having some fun here. 🙂

He managed to fend them off for a few brief moments, until he swung his weapon at the octopus creature and wound up with a car bumper in the place of the Halberd.

Ahahaha!

He didn’t have a grip on the bumper as it materialized, so he fumbled and dropped it. Before he could recover from his surprise or his lack of a weapon, he found himself caught in the mechanical hand. The steam powered giant resumed his methodical thrashing of Armsmaster against the now-battered car, with the octopus-crab man standing patiently by.

Yeeah, not so much in control of the situation anymore, are you, Armsy.


Circus threw a handful of knives at Dauntless, only to have them deflected when he encapsulated himself in his forcefield-bubble. The second the bubble went up, though, I saw Ballistic reach down to touch the car parked beside him.

Oh boy, can your bubble handle that?

When he used his power on the car, you didn’t see it move. Rather, in the blink of an eye, it was gone from where it had been, abruptly in a position where it was virtually wrapped around the upper half of the forcefield.

Apparently it can!

It started rolling off the other side before the forcefield gave way, then dropped to the ground a scant foot from Dauntless.

Temporarily, at least.

Circus hadn’t stopped moving. As the car hit the ground, her feet found positions on the undercarriage, and she was up and over, leaping toward Dauntless. She brought her hands back, and at some point I couldn’t see her hands, she got a two-handed grip on a large, colorfully painted sledgehammer, colored streamers trailing from it as she swung it in Dauntless’ direction.

Clown weaponry, I love it. 😛

It’ll never match the beauty of Zillyhoo, though.


Circus was one of those capes that had a whole pile of very minor powers. The ones I knew about were some minor pyrokinesis, the ability to deposit items into thin air, to retrieve those items just as easily, and greatly enhanced coordination and balance to round off the package.

Awesome. There’s a lot of fun to be had with this kind of powerset.

She was one of the more successful solo villains around Brockton Bay, a burglar and thief both quick and versatile enough to win or slip away if she crossed paths with a hero. If I remembered right, she’d been offered a position on the Undersiders and had vehemently refused.

I wonder, does she have to be fully holding something to store it in hammerspace, or could she, say, go up to a window, put her hand on it and send the whole pane into her little pocket dimension?

Which raised the question of what she was doing here, with the Travelers.

Yeah, I’ve been wondering that myself.

I mean, her aesthetic fits the trickstery aesthetic of the Travelers, and circus clowns are technically travelling theatre artists, so she’d fit in. But from what we know of her so far, she was extremely against being on a team… or at least against being an Undersider, under the excuse of being against teaming up in general…

…but if you’re trying to spare their feelings, you might not want to teach them new curse words in the process. I don’t think that is what’s going on here – it’s far more likely that she changed her mind.


Dauntless parried Circus’ sledgehammer with his Arclance, and the Sledgehammer was gone in the next second, as though it had never existed. At some point in the meantime, though, she’d managed to slip a lit torch into one hand. She raised it to her mouth, and blew a large cone of flame in Dauntless’ direction.

Nice!

He staggered back from the torrent of flame, raised his shield, and widened it into a forcefield bubble again. Less than a second after the shield went up, Ballistic sent another car flying into it with enough force that the car rebounded into the ceiling, back to the ground and into the other side of the parking garage. The shield failed, flickering out of existence, and Dauntless reeled.

boing

Circus took the chance to close in, torch gone, sledgehammer out. What followed was a brutal takedown, as Circus swung the sledgehammer twice, making it disappear rather than heftting it back for the next swing, which made the assault that much more relentless.

That’s such a cool and clever use of hammerspace!

She ducked low to avoid his Arclance, then spun in a tight circle as she sidestepped around him. As she rotated her body, the sledgehammer made an appearance once more. She carried through with the spin with the weapon in hand, driving it hard against the center of Dauntless’ armored chest.

Dauntless fell, and the conflict was abruptly over, silent but for the crackle of Sundancer’s miniature sun, and a single honking horn outside.

The Travellers and Circus are awesome.


The two giants, the machine and bizarre sea creature, approached us, with Trickster lagging behind them. I could see the machine-guy’s face, a heavy cheeked caucasian with acne-scarred cheeks and long hair pulled back into a greasy ponytail, the upper half of his face covered in a metal mask and goggles, and now I could place him.

Oh, so this was not one of Genesis’ creations, huh?

He was Trainwreck, a fairly thuggish villain that hadn’t made much of a name for himself. I couldn’t say whether that was a suit or actually his body.

If it’s the latter, putting on pants is gonna be impractical.

So are the Travellers recruiting or just cooperating?

For all I knew, he was some sort of coal-driven cyborg, or an unfortunate individual that’d been transformed by his powers much in the same way Newter and Gregor had.

Hm…

Does he have an Ʊ somewhere on the metal?

And of course, that left the odd one out, the sea-creature, who could only be Genesis, from the Travelers.

Hey, at least I got this one right.

Trainwreck dumped a beaten and bloodied Armsmaster to the ground, beside Dauntless. He took a second to examine the Halberd, which he held in his other hand, and then snapped it in his hands and squeezed the remains in his metal fist. He dumped the resulting debris over the unconscious heroes.

RIP egg basket.


Now, there’s one elephant in the room that I haven’t addressed yet – why are the Travellers here? Did they just happen to be nearby alongside Trainwreck and Circus as the Undersiders crossed the road followed by Dauntless and Armsmaster? Did they somehow know that the Undersiders were going to be in trouble around here?

Did Tattle know that the Travellers just happened, in a stroke of luck for the Undersiders, to be in the parking garage at the moment? Was that why she was so adamant about the Undersiders going there?


I looked across the assembled group. The Travelers and two villains that had never, as far as I knew, been on a team. Nobody was saying anything.

A smooth, self assured voice broke the silence. “I assumed, Tattletale, that when you asked to meet with me at the conclusion of your task, that you wouldn’t be bringing the heroes with you.”

Hmm. So Tattle had secretly arranged a meeting with the Travellers (this is presumably Trickster talking… unless it’s freaking Kaiser for some reason) ahead of time. Why?

A soldier in kevlar and a black balaclava was holding the stairwell door open for Coil.

Coil was actually my very first thought when I read “smooth, self assured voice”, but then I was like “no, it’s probably Trickster, and besides, if it were one of the other leaders, the description fits Kaiser better”.

I guess I should’ve stuck with my gut feeling. And, y’know, expressed what it was saying before it turned out right and made it look like I’m just redacting myself to look better.

(But I mean, if I were trying to look better by pretending I was right all along, there are so much better ways I could go about that.)

Anyway, hi there, Coil. 🙂


I’m actually kind of pleased to see Coil. I mean, out of all the prominent characters in 5.1, Coil’s my favorite. He seems like a relatively cool guy, so far at least.

But why. Why is this meeting taking place?

It’s been suggested in the past that Tattle knows who the Boss is, and she has had direct phone contact with him. He’s rich as fuck and has an agenda that we don’t quite know, much like a chessmaster would. The Boss also seems like a reasonable man.

I’m thinking there’s a possibility that we are meeting the Boss in this chapter after all.

…but then what the fuck are the Travellers doing here.


Does Coil perhaps have multiple groups like the Undersiders under his employment? Are the Travellers under a similar agreement?


Dressed in the same black bodysuit with the image of a white snake arranged across it, Coil joined us, walking slowly, his hands clasped behind his back, taking in the scene with an appraising eye. Two soldiers followed behind him, guns in hand.

Coil. I felt my pulse quicken.

I guess Taylor doesn’t agree with my impression of Coil.

Tattletale made a pained expression. “Sorry.”

Coil glanced around some more, then seemed to come to a decision, “No. I don’t think there’s anything to apologize for.”

He paused, and all I could think was this is it. I’ve got what I need.

She’s caught on.

Coil spoke, more as though he were musing to himself than any of us, “I was feeling theatric. The plan was for the Travelers, Circus and Trainwreck to step out from the shadows as I made an impressive entrance. A shame it didn’t play out, but I suppose it had a tactical benefit.”

Heh, nice. I like theatric villains. 🙂

“Guess so,” Tattletale grinned.

“Well, it seems you were successful tonight. Good. There are no more pursuers?”

“Nope.”

“Emergency response? Other heroes?”

“All at least two and a half minutes away, I think.”

Radartale.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Then we’ll take our leave. Undersiders, Trickster, I have a ride prepared, and I would like you to join me. I believe we have much to discuss.”

Fuck yes.


End of Tangle 6.7

Well, that was pretty good!

The boss battle wasn’t as over as I thought it was – Armsmaster’s a persistent guy, and he got help from Dauntless, and together these not-so-buddy cops chased down the Undersiders as they headed for the parking garage. The entire thing was very good. And once the Undersiders were at their destination, things went from good to great – the Travellers, Circus and Trainwreck made Armsmaster and Dauntless look like toys.

And then.

We finally got to meet the Boss.

Or, well, go to know he’s the Boss. We met him before, in 5.1-5.2, but still.

Bottom line is we finally got to know that the man the Undersiders have been taking jobs for is none other than Coil! I called it! ^v^ [here]

Next chapter, well… we have much to discuss. This ought to prove interesting! 🙂

Oh, and after that? The Decision. How will whatever Coil has to say influence it? Will Taylor catch herself rationalizing a reason to stay undercover even longer now that she’s gotten the information she wanted? Will Armsmaster finally get together with Danny Hebert?

Some of this and more – next time on Worm.

Well, that was pretty good!

The boss battle wasn’t as over as I thought it was – Armsmaster’s a persistent guy, and he got help from Dauntless, and together these not-so-buddy cops chased down the Undersiders as they headed for the parking garage. The entire thing was very good. And once the Undersiders were at their destination, things went from good to great – the Travellers, Circus and Trainwreck made Armsmaster and Dauntless look like toys.

And then.

We finally got to meet the Boss.

Or, well, got to know he’s the Boss. We met him before, in 5.1-5.2, but still.

Bottom line is we finally got to know that the man the Undersiders have been taking jobs for is none other than Coil! I called it! ^v^

Next chapter, well… we have much to discuss. This ought to prove interesting! 🙂

Oh, and after that? The Decision. How will whatever Coil has to say influence it? Will Taylor catch herself rationalizing a reason to stay undercover even longer now that she’s gotten the information she wanted? Will Armsmaster finally get together with Danny Hebert?

Some of this and more – next time on Worm.

3 thoughts on “Tangle 6.7: Like a Boss

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