Buzz 7.10: Blink

Source material: Worm, Buzz 7.10

Originally blogged: November 8, 2017


I don’t wanna close my eyes
I don’t wanna fall asleep
‘Cause Night’ll kill me, babe,
and I don’t wanna die

Howdy, everyone! It’s Taylor time again!

Last time, Taylor & co. found their way to the Battle of Light, as I think I shall call this, and promptly got in a tussle with Rune, a powerful young telekinetic. Having narrowly escaped her on the hellhounds, they ran into Night and Fog (who may or may not be Rune’s parents), which means we’re in for a difficult battle – we’ve got a sentient cloud of fog and a Weeping Angel with enough sense to pack at least one flashbang.

Out of these two, I do think Fog will be harder to take out, but less of a threat on the offensive (not to be confused with being not a threat, though). The fortunate thing about fighting Night is that the Undersiders have 15 eyes on their side that can be used to keep her from using her power (not counting insects, which seemingly don’t count – the dogs might also not count, bringing the total down to 10). That doesn’t mean she’s harmless when being watched, and we’ve already seen she has brought means to temporarily blind everyone at once, but it does theoretically help with the Undersiders’ chances of defeating her. Fog on the other hand… how do you hurt fog? With an electric fan?

Grue’s power is fairly useless – counterproductive, even – against Night unless used in creative ways. Fog can easily nullify Taylor’s power and Regent’s power probably doesn’t work on him (even if he were to have a nervous system as a cloud of fog, what would you have him do?). They’ve both had their secret identities revealed, so – much like with Panacea – Tattle would have to dig deeper… and they don’t seem much for conversation. Finally, Bitch is probably the best bet offensively against Night, but we’ve already seen her do bad things to some of the dogs.

Yeah, this battle probably won’t be easy.

Let’s go!


Whether I shut my eyes or suffered the effects of the flashbang grenade, the effect would be the same.

Might as well shut your eyes, then. Save them a little of the hurt.

The moment we took our eyes off Night, she’d become what Tattletale had termed ‘all monster’.

Which doesn’t exactly bode well.

I opted to have more control over my temporary blindness, clamping my hands over my ears, dropping into a crouch to shove my face against my knees, eyes wrenched shut.

Yeah, good call. Not only should it hurt less, but it ought to allow you to open your eyes again more quickly, limiting Night’s monster time.

I sent every bug in my immediate vicinity toward Night, in the hope of slowing her down even a fraction.

The flashbang went off while it was still over us. The last time I’d been around one when it went off, I’d had a wall between me and the detonation. I wasn’t so lucky this time. It wasn’t just bright and loud.

Ouch. I guess something needs to cause that brightness and loudness? I don’t really know how a flashbang works, though.

The blast rattled through me, left me dizzied, unable to balance, almost incoherent. It was scarily like the concussion I’d endured.

You need to stop taking hits to the head.


Night was already moving. My bugs were my only sense that still worked, but they couldn’t get a grip on the surface of her body. She moved too fast, and her skin was smooth and oily, slick with some sort of lubricant.

What shape is she?

The result was that I couldn’t really make her out in the darkness. I only got flashes, the vaguest sense of how she was put together. I was reminded of the ink blots I’d seen during my brief stay in the mental ward.

A Rorschach ink blot test? That’s just about the most vivid way Wildbow could describe this while not at all stating what shape she has assumed.

Every fraction of a second, it was a different set of ink blots, a different shape, all edges and angles and sharp points, entirely up to interpretation.

I see… so I guess she’s the kind of writhing, unknowable monster, then.

So here are a couple questions I have:
– Tattle made it unclear which parts of her description were bullshit, including the idea of the Weeping Angel dynamic being a psychological block. I wonder, does someone watching her still stop her from being like this if she doesn’t know they’re watching?
– Do cameras count? If they do, do they only count when someone is watching through them live? If they don’t count when not being watched live, or don’t count at all, can someone film her turning into this form and watch it later?
– Why doesn’t being inside Fog’s fog form seem to count as him seeing her? Can Fog not see inside himself? Can he even see at all in his fog form?


She struck at Judas a half-dozen times in the span of a second, her limbs flashing out and striking hard enough that I could feel the vibrations in the air.

Still doesn’t beat Ranma Saotome, but not bad.

Except of course it is bad because you’re hurting the doggo

Judas staggered away from her, colliding with me and one of my teammates. I felt Judas’ crushing weight against my own body,

uh oh

the raw meat feel of his flesh and the stone hardness of his bones smothering me, before he shifted his weight and lurched back her way.

That was close to becoming a Taylor pancake.

From the way Judas’ movements followed Night’s as she moved back, and the rigidity of his face and neck, I knew he’d managed to get a grip on her with his teeth.

Nice work! Good dog.

He weathered the hits as she continued to thrash him. He seemed to be getting the worse end of the exchange, but he’d taken away some of her leverage.

Slowing her down a tad, hopefully.

Blinking, I tried to focus on Night, but I saw double. For several long, terrifying seconds, I was unable to bring what I was seeing into focus.

I guess there’s a sort of middle ground between seeing and not seeing.

Judas was thrown against a wall, and went limp. The furrows Night had carved into his face left more gouges than untouched flesh, his face a mess of shattered bone and hamburger meat.

|:(

With Judas’ bulk out of the way, I could make out Night, backing away. My bugs settled on her, and she pulled her cloak up to shield her face, still walking backward.

I wonder if she even has a face in her monster form. Or if she does, how many?


Snapping my head around to check, I saw our escape route barred by Fog’s mist.

Naturally.

I could see Angelica’s silhouette in the midst of the cloud. Bitch and Tattletale were struggling to drag Grue back away from the advancing mist.

When I was counting the eyes the Undersiders had available, I didn’t account for the fact that three of the eyes’ users were unavailable at the moment.

Grue, too weak to stand, was trying to use his darkness to wall Fog off.

Oh hey, you’re up!

I am actually quite curious how the darkness and Fog interact.

Grue might have stopped Fog entirely, except he was so weak that his darkness was dissipating almost as fast as he produced it. Fog slipped through the largest gaps and continued a slow but inexorable advance.

It seems like they either collide or interact in a way that Fog is aware of and that is undesireable to him. Otherwise, he could just flow right through.

Night was still struggling to get away from the bugs as they navigated around the folds of her cloak and the coverage of her mask.

Not gonna be as easy as just running.

Drawing my baton, I started to advance on her. Night was human like this, vulnerable.

As long as you don’t. blink.

She drew her hand from her sleeve. Another canister with a pin in it.

“Regent!” I shouted.

This one comes prepared, but Taylor knew of the possibility now and can react faster. As can Regent, hopefully.

He snapped his hand out, and Night’s arm bent in a palsied, twisted angle. The grenade fell to the ground, and Night fell on top of it.

Nice!

I thought that Regent had been the cause of her fall, until I saw her raise her head, her good hand holding the grenade, pin held in her teeth through the fabric of her mask.

Oh.


She pulled the pin free, and black smoke began billowing from the upper end of the canister.

Hm, I guess she’s got some variety in her blinding arsenal.

It was suicidal, perhaps one of the dumbest things I’d done yet: I charged her.

Oh jeez. What are you thinking, Taylor?

She was already standing, holding the canister out in front of her to ensure the plumes of colored smoke obscured her quickly. I struck at her hand with my baton, knocking the smoke grenade to the ground. I stooped for it, but she stepped forward, blocking it with her body, seizing my shoulders.

Would getting a hold of it even help much?

She wrestled me to one side of the alley, perhaps to try and push me away and buy time for the smoke to build up, maybe for another angle. I wouldn’t find out, because I brought my baton against the side of her face.

Nice!

I got a sense from the feeling of the hit that she didn’t wear any armor or protective wear beneath the cowl and mask.

Ooh, bad move, Night. Maybe it’s your turn to be concussed.


Night staggered from the blow, and I drove my shoulder into her. It wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped, but I did get her far enough away from the canister that I could duck down and scoop it up in one hand.

Nice work! Now what? Are you gonna throw it out of the battlefield or something?

I dashed away, past her, and she struck me from behind. I knew from the magnitude of the impact that she wasn’t in her human shape as she hit me, and for one paralyzing moment, I suspected I’d made a terminal error.

Ah, shit. No one was looking, huh?

The blow was enough to knock me to the ground and make me roll a half-dozen times before I could stop myself. I cast a glance over my shoulder as I stopped. Night was there, and the residual smoke from the canister that surrounded her had apparently been sufficient to block my teammates’ view.

Damn.

Stupid of me to turn my back. I was lucky that she hadn’t had more than a second or two in her transformed state to act.

The Doctor warned you against turning your back on her, Taylor.

Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast. Faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t. blink. Good luck.”


I scrambled to my feet, not taking my eyes off her, and rapidly backed up. A piece of the armor on my back dangled from where she’d cleaved through it, swinging against my backside in time with my steps.

Hrm. Better fix that before going up against Purity. Not that armor is likely to help much against her vaporizing rays.

I held the smoke grenade low, to minimize how much it obscured my vision. When I’d backed up enough that there was an alley to my right, I threw the smoke grenade away.

Nice. Though surely Night has more.

Night stopped following me, then swept her cloak up to shield against the bugs that still swarmed her. I couldn’t go as all-out as I normally might with my swarm, without risking that I’d obscure my own vision of her and give her another opportunity to transform.

Ah, yeah, that’d be a problem.

Second try, then. Baton in hand, I charged her.

She was thrashing beneath her cloak, six or so paces away. The bugs were nipping and stinging flesh. Good. One or two more good hits with the baton, she’d be disabled.

Disabled in her human form. Who knows, maybe she’ll still be able to get up in monster form.

Night bent low, and I thought maybe she was down for the count.

Then she swept her cloak off and threw it up into the air. It opened wide and momentarily filled my field of vision.

This woman has a fair few tricks up her sleeve.

I heard her footsteps, two normal ones, heels clicking rapidly as she ran, then the noise of claws scraping against hard ground.

That’s rarely a good sound to hear, unless they’re dog claws.


She tackled me, keeping the fabric between us, and my baton slipped from my grasp as her weight slammed into the trunk of my body.

BUNP

The cloth of her cloak caught on my right hand and face. An angular arm with too many joints seized my right leg, another two latched onto my right arm and neck, respectively.

I wonder which arm will disappear if someone looks at her.

Her grip and proximity to me held the cloth in place, kept her obscured. I was hefted high into the air with a speed that dizzied me.

Well, this ain’t good.

She dropped me, making me grunt as I landed. Above me, my bugs touched her very human body.

Looks like someone’s looking again. Or did the cloak stop obscuring her?

I struggled to pull the cloth free, but it caught. After a few seconds of ineffectually trying to remove the cloak from myself and see what was happening, I was almost frantic. I brought my own bugs down on top of myself to get a better sense of what was happening.

Not the latter, at least.

What’s the benefit of putting her bugs on top of herself? Is she going to look through them?

Hooks. The black fabric of the cloak was woven with black-painted hooks at regular intervals. She’d worn that layer facing the outside.

Damn. The cloak isn’t just something she wears so she can hide herself like she just did, it’s specifically made to be hard and harmful to take off when she does that to you.

“You’re boring people, you know,” I heard Tattletale’s voice, and felt a fractional relief. I focused on pulling the hooks free.

Ooh, go Tattle!

Not that many were caught on the fabric, but there were some caught on the textured exterior of my armor, others on the straps that held my armor in place, a couple in my hair.

Good thing the armor covers all skin.


“I saw your info. Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt.

I’m not the only one thinking of this, right?

First located in Hesse, Germany, moved to London, then Brockton Bay, Boston, then Brockton Bay again. No kids. Cat. Nothing interesting about you, besides the obvious.

I’m sure she’ll be supplementing some of the info from the e-mail with her own Knowledge. Although some of the info in the e-mail is already from her Knowledge.

I’m thinking you even have your dinners on rotation. Chicken and rice on Mondays, Steak and potatoes on Tuesdays? Something like that?”

Like this. It doesn’t seem like something Coil would include. 😛

Also, “No kids.” means I my guess about Rune was wrong. Oh well.

I pulled the cloak free and held it in my hands. I saw Tattletale on the other end of the alley. Fog had advanced quite a bit, but Regent and Bitch had apparently gotten Grue up on Brutus’ back, and both Brutus and Judas were with them, Brutus moving painfully slowly, while Judas was apparently blind or nearly blind from the damage to his face.

Eyy, progress! But also, hurt doggos 😦

They all stood not far behind Tattletale, masked by traces of the smoke from the smoke bomb.

I feel like this would look kinda cool. 🙂


Night stood closer to me than the others. I could see how she had various pieces of equipment strapped to her hips, forearms, and back. Grenades, canisters, knives, something that looked like spray paint.

Told ya she had more.

She swatted at the bugs that were crawling around her face and eyes, but her attention was on Tattletale. I could have stood, maybe, but I didn’t want to draw her attention.

When your one of your power’s main uses requires you to talk to the enemy, it certainly doesn’t hurt to know how to make people listen.

“So I was at a loss to figure out how to fuck with you. You’re two dimensional.

Hehehe. Did she come to the conclusion that this is how to fuck with them, or did she eventually Know the one juicy thing about them?

Until I remembered that you left the Empire when Purity did. And when she came back? So did you.”

Ooooh this is probably even better. Through some extraknowlation, Tattle can figure out that these two don’t actually want to be here for Kaiser or even Purity, and work from there.

Night cocked her head a little to one side, listening. Again, she slapped at the bugs on one side of her face.

I can just imagine this as a shot in a cartoon. She cocks her head, the shot lingers on her for a couple seconds and then suddenly her arm comes up very quickly and slaps her cheek on the side she’s leaning away from.

Her face didn’t feel swollen, from what my swarm was conveying. Her eyes were open, blinking closed when a bug touched her eyelash. I suspected she healed back to perfect condition whenever she entered her other form, which would include cleansing herself of any toxins or allergens.

Huh, kinda like the dogs. Interesting. And also very inconvenient for anyone trying to defeat her through violent means.

Night looked down at me. Pale blue eyes.

How fitting that Night would have eyes like the moonlight.

…I’m not hitting on her.


“Hey!” Tattletale spoke, “Pay attention!”

Night drew a knife from a hip sheath. She bent down over me.

Ah, dammit, are we doing the hostage thing? We’re doing the hostage thing aren’t we.

I dropped her cloak and struggled to reach behind my back for my own knife, but she was faster. The blade pressed against my throat. My hand caught her wrist, stopping her from going any further.

By the way? I like that Tattletale is completely open about the fact that she was looking for a way to “fuck with” the pair, even though that immediately reduces her credibility and can cause hostage taking of the “okay I’m listening but if I think you’re fucking with me, she dies” kind.

I was pretty sure my costume could take a cut from a knife, but if she found the gap where my mask was separate from the body portion of my costume that extended around the lower part of my neck, she could slide the blade through with no difficulty.

Ah, right, the one spot where this suit allows skin access.

“Damn you!” Tattletale shouted. I was only aware of Night’s unwavering, unblinking gaze, the feel of her wrist in my grip. Then the gunshots.

Grue?

Night didn’t even scream. She dropped partway on top of me, falling onto her side, her weight on my legs.

Rest in pepperonis.

Fog isn’t gonna like this, is he.


More than ever, it is imperative that you follow the other Doctor’s advice and don’t turn your back on the body.


The villainess lay there, silently writhing, hands behind her back. Blood welled from holes in her lower back and the space where her buttock met her thigh. I glanced at Tattletale, who had her gun raised, looking slightly surprised and disturbed by what she’d just had to do.

Well, it was between her or Grue. And really, Tattle makes a lot more sense textually, given that she opened the paragraph the gunshots were in. I just kinda forgot Tattle had a gun at first.

So, Taylor. That makes three murderers on your team, but this one was doing it to save you. What do you think?

Any sense of relief I felt at Night being taken out of action was short lived.

Too bright to look at, Purity hurtled down from the sky to land just beside Night and me.

Good job, you successfully got her attention.

Jeez, and here I thought one supervillain upset by this development was gonna be enough trouble for the rest of this chapter. At least Purity might be more willing to listen to Tattle, though the fact that the latter just shot one of her subordinates probably doesn’t help on that front.


I suppose there is a chance Night survives – she doesn’t seem to be quite dead yet (corpses don’t silently writhe, usually), but she’s getting close. But that’s a slim chance, and if she survives, that’s not likely to be thanks to Tattle, and so the characters will probably treat Tattle accordingly.


I saw her raise one hand toward Tattletale and the others, energy welling up.

Not even gonna say anything before you obliterate them?

The blast of light momentarily blinded me, and it struck me just why Purity had Night and Fog working as part of her personal squad. There were no happy coincidences there. She must have calculated how their powers could collectively work together.

Oh, absolutely.

Her light and Fog’s mist could blind their foes, with Night leveraging any opportunities gained.

Sounds about right.

Alabaster and Crusader? Probably intended as the front line, to slow the enemy down, take out the problem targets and buy time for the core group to do what they needed.

Hm… we know what Crusader does, but not Alabaster. This is still too vague to really figure it out from, though, but at least we know what kind of role they have in the group.

Or to do what they were doing now, and occupy enemies elsewhere.

Isn’t that basically the same thing, just with less of a strict formation?


When I could see again, I tried to grasp what had changed and what had happened. Dust filled much of the alley, Night stood beside Purity, unhurt, and my teammates were on the ground. No blood. Nobody dead or dying.

…the transformation heals her. That’s why that was established at the last minute! Purity just brought Night back from the brink of death by way of a non-vaporizing light blast that blinded everyone long enough for Night to transform and thus heal up!

Niiice.

Of course, that means we now have Night, Fog and Purityto deal with. We’re worse than back to square one in this battle.

Although, to be fair, getting Purity’s attention was a goal. It’s just that it would’ve probably been better if it was fulfilled after dealing with the other two.

At least, nobody that hadn’t been dead or dying when Purity arrived. I was getting worried about Grue. He didn’t look nearly as lively as he had two minutes ago.

Damn, dude, you really shouldn’t be here.


A channel had been carved out of the brick wall to Purity’s right. Motes of light still danced around it. An intentional miss? No. It would have been Regent throwing off her aim.

Ohh, nice work. Scratch “non-vaporizing”, then.

“Purity! Kayden! Not looking for a fight!” Tattletale called out. She raised her hands, her gun dangling from one finger by the trigger guard.

This might work?

Purity just raised her hand, and more light began glowing in her palm.

Though, uh, not immediately.

“Dale and Emerson!” Tattletale added.

Purity didn’t lower her hand, but she didn’t shoot either. “What?”

Hm?

“Aster.” Tattletale stood up, “She’s at Dale and Emerson. Outskirts of town.

Ahh, that’s what she’s doing. But, uh, make sure she knows you’re not behind the e-mail before Purity vaporizes you during her blast off towards Dale and Emerson.

The PRT has a safehouse there, for when a villain’s after someone, or in case some member of the Protectorate or Wards gets outed, and their family needs a spot to stay.”

Huh, nice.

“How-”

“You worked alongside me when we were dealing with the ABB. Your subordinates and allies have as well. You know I have my sources.”

Man, I wish we’d learned more about the other groups’ adventures during Hive.

“Don’t believe you. You have no reason to tell me this, you told everyone-”

Tattletale interrupted, “We didn’t tell the media that stuff. I’m even a little pissed about it. Not just about us getting blamed, but that they didn’t just attack you, but your families? It’s fucked up.

Sometimes lies are well and good, but this is absolutely a situation where honesty is the key.

Entire reason we came here was to set the record straight and get you your kid back.”

“Kaiser said-”

“Kaiser thought he’d get more out of this debacle if he turned you against us, first, before directing you at the people or person who really sent the email.”

And if there’s anyone who knows how manipulative Kaiser can be, and thus might be inclined to believe this, it’s Kayden.


Basically, fuck you, Max.


Purity shook her head.

Tattletale added, “It’s up to you. Who are you going to trust, when Aster is on the line? Me, or Kaiser?”

That was her argument?

It’s a solid argument if you’re fully aware of the relationship between Purity and Kaiser, which Taylor isn’t. It’s unclear just how much Tattle knows, as usual, but she definitely seems to have some idea.

I started to move to where I could attack Purity if it came down to it. A spearpoint pressing down against my collarbone stopped me. I looked up and saw Crusader behind me.

Oh hai.

Purity dropped her hand to her side. She told Tattletale, “You’re coming with me.”

“Didn’t expect any less. But you’re letting my team go, and this destruction stops.”

Seems like a fair trade for potentially getting Aster back, doesn’t it?

“And how do I know you’re not just sacrificing yourself for them?”

“Because whatever else you might be, Kayden, you somehow, in some warped perspective, see yourself as an upstanding person. And if I wasn’t an honest person when it counted, I wouldn’t trust you to hold to that. Make sense?”

…it kinda does.

It didn’t to me. It was circular reasoning. I wouldn’t have listened if it were Tattletale trying to convince me. The question was whether it would get through to Purity.

Hm… I don’t quite see why you’re calling that circular reasoning. I’m reading the argument as “If I weren’t also an honest person, I wouldn’t trust you to be. By doing this, I’m implicitly trusting you to be honest. Therefore I am likely trustworthy as well.”

It’s not super solid reasoning, but I don’t think it’s circular.


Purity stared at Tattletale for a long time. I was acutely aware of the spear at my chest, which Crusader could thrust through my costume and into me with a momentary use of his power. How easily Purity or Fog could give Night the opportunity she needed to slaughter my teammates.

You really can’t afford to piss anyone off here.

“You’re aware of the consequences if you’re wrong?”

“I’m not stupid,” Tattletale spoke, “You take out your anger on me, I wind up dead or maimed.”

Naturally.

Purity stepped forward and grabbed Tattletale’s wrist.

“The others walk,” Purity spoke to her subordinates, leaving no room for argument or discussion.

Not ride?

She wrapped one arm around Tattletale’s ribs, and they were gone in a flash of light, a trail of firefly-like lights dancing in Purity’s wake.

Ladies and Undersiders, my name is Purity and I’m your chief flight attendant. On behalf of Captain Purity and the entire crew, welcome aboard Aster Airlines flight 4573R, non-stop service from the Battle of Light to Dale and Emerson.

Our flight time will be of zero hours and as few as possible minutes. We will be flying at an altitude of a fair few feet at a ground speed of lotsa kilometers per hour.

At this time, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position and that your seat belt is correctly fastened. Also, your portable electronic devices must be set to ‘airplane’ mode until an announcement is made upon arrival. Thank you.


In that same momentary glare that had carried our teammate and Purity away, Night had moved into the midst of our team. She had a knife held with the blade pointed out of the bottom of her fist, pressed to Regent’s throat.

Now, now, follow your superior’s orders. Least you could do after she just brought you back from the brink of death.

Or, well, allowed you to bring yourself back from the brink of death. Semantics.

“I get it,” Regent replied, with a disinterested tone, “You could kill us right here. May we go?”

Hehe.

Night sheathed the knife and walked through the group to Fog, who was gathering himself up in a human shape again, turning away to exit the alley. Crusader, on the opposite side of us, was rising back up to the sky.

byyye *waves*

see ya later ya nazi scumbags


I breathed a sigh of relief as Purity’s squad disappeared. I held my breath again when I saw Grue and, further down the alleyway, Angelica. Grue’s darkness was reduced to mere wisps around his body, which I took to be a bad sign. Hurrying toward him, I retrieved my cell phone, went down to the bottom of the contact list.

Are we going to that parahuman doctor from Shell again?

It rang three times before it picked up. I heard ambient noise, maybe a fan, but the person on the other end didn’t respond.

“Coil,” I spoke, “It’s Skitter. We need that doctor of yours. Fast.”

…Coil not responding is not a good sign. Are we sure Coil is the one picking up? No. No, we are not.

“Can you get to the same location as last time?”

Oh, there he is. Never mind!

“I don’t know. Grue and the dogs are hurt. We may need a ride.”

“I will arrange it. Expect a call from the driver shortly.” He hung up. Not quite so friendly as the last time we’d talked.

Maybe he’s been dealing with his own repercussions from the e-mail throughout the day.

Maybe he regrets it after seeing the cost in civilian lives, for that matter?

I set to helping Alec steady Angelica while Bitch worked with Judas, who’d been effectively blinded in the fight with Night.

Poor doggo 😦

She guided his head and shoulders under Angelica’s body, so the smaller ‘dog’ was draped over him.

Once Angelica was in position, I hopped up behind Grue and helped him turn him over, to examine his chest. I applied pressure and used the remainder of the bandage I had in my utility compartment to try to staunch the bleeding. When I talked to him, asked him to verify that he was okay, his replies were monosyllabic and fairly nonsensical.

“You okay?” “blep”

Yeah, this is very bad.

Between Judas’s canine burden and the damage Brutus had apparently sustained to his side, the two dogs moved slower than I normally walked as they plodded down the alley.

😦

Every moment was nerve wracking. I kept waiting for someone in the Wards, New Wave or Empire Eighty-Eight to find their way into the alley, spot us and pick a fight. Worse, I harbored grave concerns that Grue might stop breathing.

Or both.


The phone call from Coil’s people came when we’d reached the beach – the closest spot I could think of that would put us out of line of sight in the continued fighting. I directed the guy on the phone to our position, and in my nervousness, I had to get them to verify, twice, that they’d safely made it through the barricade without any trouble.

Good call, especially considering what happened last time.

All we needed was another ambush at the barricades from more of Hookwolf’s underlings.

Yeah, that.

One of these days I might stop reading up to right before the last sentence in paragraphs… maybe. Certainly not today.

The moment the pair of ambulances arrived, we loaded Grue into the back of one, the three dogs into the other. Brutus and Judas had shrunk, having shed the layers of added bulk, and were more or less alright underneath it all.

yay!

Angelica, though, had been in Fog’s mist, and wasn’t any better even though she was almost normal size.

noo 😦

She’d inhaled the mist, drawn it into her lungs. I could only surmise that it had consequently made its way into her bloodstream, and from there, to the rest of her body. Only time would tell how much damage Fog had done to her from within.

Bad fog man. |:(


I went in the ambulance with Grue, and watched as they gave him extra blood and tended to his chest. Between my first time job patching up his chest, the fact that he’d torn it open, and my haphazard attempts to wad it with bandages and stall the blood loss as we retreated from the scene, it was a mess.

Yeah, it’s time to leave it to the professionals.

I cringed, feeling guilty, waiting for one of Coil’s medics to call me on something I’d done wrong. They worked in silence, which was almost worse.

Medic A: “Psst.”

Medic B: “What?”

Medic A: “Can’t you tell her?”

Medic B: “Why me?”

Medic A: “Because I don’t want to!”

Medic B: “Well I don’t want to either!”

Medic A: “Too bad, I’m calling dibs on not telling her!”

Taylor: “You guys realize you both suck at whispering, right?”


I sent Tattletale a text:

Frog A. Got Coil’s people to pick us up. Brian is getting help. Dogs are mostly ok. Text me back.

Um.

What’s the point of using the code if you’re gonna drop critical information like Brian’s civilian name and that you’re working for Coil in the same text? If Purity had confiscated Tattle’s phone, for whatever reason, she’d know those things now. At least one of which is highly interesting to the Empire and might get Purity to target the Undersiders again once Kaiser tells her who was really behind the e-mail.

…either way, I wonder what she’ll think when Hookwolf mentions there being someone with the Undersiders who he suspected to be a Coildier.

We pulled in behind the doctor’s office, and Tattletale still hadn’t replied. I was surprised that the ambulance with Bitch, Regent and the dogs hadn’t come with us.

Hm, okay. Well, Alec didn’t come along in 4.11.

The doctor was a cranky old guy that Coil’s medic referred to as Dr. Q.

Hello, John Cleese.

He was a thin-lipped man, about my height, which made him fairly small. His hair was either recently cut or he got it cut regularly, was slicked close to his scalp, and seemed too dark given how old his face and hands were.

Except for the hair color and height, the description kinda fits.

He took over for the medics as they carted Grue in, and they left with a nod to me. I nodded back, unsure of how else to respond.

Yeah, what else can you really do? Hehe.


Hm. To be fair, unless Tattle regularly deletes messages, Purity would probably find out those things from a confiscated phone anyway.


I stood by Grue’s bed with my arms folded and watched. Dr. Q checked the work the medics had done in suturing up Brian’s chest and muttered to himself that it was competent.

Well, that’s good to hear.

When he’d verified they hadn’t screwed up, he took the time to clean Brian’s chest and remove the remaining threads from the first job.

“The bug girl,” he finally commented.

Heh – memories. Perhaps not so fond memories for Dr. Cleese.

“Yeah. I’m really sorry about bringing the bugs to your place, last time. I see they’re gone now.”

“They are,” was his response.

Hehe.

I nodded. I checked my phone again. Still no response from Tattletale.

Minutes passed.

Hrm.

“Okay,” he pulled off his latex gloves, “Nothing more we can do for this lug. You unhurt?”

I shrugged, “More or less. Got jabbed in the stomach, I have my aches and pains, hurt my ear earlier, but I already got it taken care of.”

Doesn’t hurt to have it looked over while you’re here, if he’s offering.

“I’ll verify that for myself.”

Yeah, this guy doesn’t automatically trust others to be competent.


He checked my stomach, which required me to take off the top of my costume, and he prodded the bruise Cricket had left me with cold, dry fingers. Then he had me remove my mask to examine my ear. Apparently, he didn’t deem Brian’s job satisfactory, so I was sat down on a stool so he could clean it up.

Well, here we go.

This Arc contains quite a bit of medical work, huh.

He was partway through the job when my phone vibrated. I read it and heaved a sigh of relief.

Tattletale:

Avocado c. she got what she needed. omw

Nice 🙂


End of Buzz 7.10

Well.

That was kinda anticlimactic. The boss encounter that half the arc was building up to boiled down to “hi we’re innocent and we know where Aster is so please don’t vaporize us or what’s left of the neighborhood okay”.

I mean, yeah, things were resolved, and we got some decent fights along the way – the fight against Night was pretty good – but even for a peaceful solution, it kinda felt too easy once they actually got to Purity.

Maybe it’s just me being too used to the pattern of each Arc having a proper boss fight (hell, even Insinuation had one, and that Arc wasn’t combat focused at all outside that one fight). I don’t know.

What I also don’t know at the moment is if the Arc proper ends here and the next chapter is an Interlude. I’m guessing we’re having a 7.11 as a wind-down and tie-up chapter. We kind of wound down a bit at the end of this chapter, but Tattle’s text doesn’t strike me as an end-of-Arc line.

Let’s take a look at the link…

/…/buzz-7-11/

Yup. 🙂

Maybe it’ll give us some insight into exactly what put Coil in a less friendly mood than last time we saw him, and/or maybe have Brian and Taylor talk to each other about what happened at the mall.

See you then!

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