Buzz 7.9: Rooftop Shuffle

Source material: Worm, Buzz 7.9

Originally blogged: November 6, 2017


Salutations. We have travelled far enough in a positive direction along the temporal axis to reach the four-dimensional subsection of spacetime in which I, Krixwell, shall study installment 7.9 of the fictional narrative known as Worm, which is presented in the form of hypertext and transmitted to my screen over the World Wide Web, and report my findings in a similar form.

In the previous installment, a pair of the main characters encountered a collection of antagonists and proceeded to kick their asses. They subsequently met up with the remainder of the main protagonists, and began devising a plan to similarly kick the antagonists’ leader’s ass.

“Kicking ass” is a highly scientific term. Use in scientific journals whenever possible.

It is my hypothesis that the protagonists, under the current circumstances, will shortly locate the antagonist known as Kayden “Purity” Anders and attempt to exploit her so far unidentified weakness to cease her illegal, immoral and highly deadly activities. This may or may not involve initiating combat, although combat will likely occur one way or another.

Without further ado, let us initiate the experiment and please for the love of cod stop talking like this!


“You going to be okay?” I asked, as Grue zipped up his jacket.

Told ya we’d skip it.

So it seems we’re picking up about as close to where we left off as we could while still skipping the sowing and Tattletale’s explanation about whatever trick she has up her sleeve for dealing with Purity.

With his t-shirt removed, he was wearing the leather jacket over his bare, freshly stitched skin. I couldn’t imagine it was remotely comfortable.

Nope, that sounds awful.

“I’ll be fine. Let’s end this ASAP. Bitch? The dogs.”

I winced. I wasn’t looking forward to riding. It was too soon after our previous escapade, and I was still sore.

Ow, yeah, that doesn’t sound comfortable either. To be fair, though, this is pretty much what both of you signed up for.

Bitch whistled and pointed, and we headed out the front door of the church. The moment we were outside, Grue hauled himself up onto Judas’ back, and I could see him hunch over for a moment in pain.

“Seriously, are you going to be-”

“I’m fine, Skitter,” Grue spoke.

Doesn’t really look that way, but alright.

He was creating darkness around himself, and his voice had that hollow quality to it. “Just drop it.”

The ‘drop it’ line hit a little too close to home, echoing what I’d said at the mall after Brian’s rejection, and once or twice after that.

Oh boy.

Is he hurt by her unwillingness to talk about it, or is this maybe a straight instance of the same from his side?

Maybe he’s afraid of admitting weakness. Perhaps especially when he’s with the team, as de facto leader.

I was made acutely aware of that little rift I’d generated in what had been a fairly easygoing friendship.

😦

Remember how I mentioned my own trouble with working up the courage to confess to my first crush? This is a big part of what I was worried about. That taking it to that point, whether I got rejected or not, would eventually ruin the nice friendship we’d already had for many years.


Regent and Bitch were climbing onto Brutus, while Tattletale was examining her phone. That left two dogs to ride.

I looked at where Grue sat, and decided it would be less awkward if I didn’t ride with him. I approached Angelica, extended my hand for her to sniff, then climbed onto her back.

It’s probably best that Grue rides alone anyway, or in the back. We don’t want anyone to have to hold onto his chest.

“Tattletale,” Grue spoke. “I thought we were in a hurry.”

She put the phone away, then climbed up behind Grue.

Although I’m not quite sure how much that’s necessary.

Hm… this means Taylor is alone on Angelica. Has she had the reigns on one of the dogs before? I don’t think so.

“Coil?” I guessed.

“Yep.”

“And he’s saying?”

“To be careful.”

Solid advice.


Grue gave a hand signal, Bitch whistled to give the dogs the order, and we rode.

Angelica was happy to follow the others, which freed me from the burden of getting her to follow my instructions.

Ah, good.

That only left me the task of holding on and ignoring the ache in my leg muscles and stomach.

Tattletale was able to give us a general idea of which direction Purity was, using her power, and it only took us a few minutes to spot the telltale pillar of white in the distance. Purity’s light, not aiming at a building, but lashing out.

Sounds like she was further away than I would’ve thought. Purity and her carnage sounded very visible from the descriptions so far.

As we got closer, the situation became clearer. Purity, a flare of white against the backdrop of the gray sky, was surrounded by other figures, easy enough to make out with their predominantly white costumes. New Wave.

This Arc is filled with the color white in a lot of ways, huh.

Nice to see New Wave is putting in effort to stop this. Is the Protectorate anywhere to be seen?

Hm… They could cause some trouble for the Undersiders if they (most likely Glory Girl in particular) don’t focus on Purity like they by all sound logic should.


The leader of New Wave had named herself Lady Photon, but in the wake of New Wave’s founding, and the revealing of their secret identities, the media had latched on to the idea of a superheroine mom and dubbed her Photon Mom.

Ahahaha

Like any true fandom.

*glances over at the Steven Universe, Undertale and Homestuck fandoms*

Huh. It’s actually extremely fitting that it’s New Wave that’s up against Purity. We’ve got a villain whose family was taken away because her secret identity was revealed, up against a hero team that is big on the whole family thing and has willingly revealed their secret identities.

It was apparent to anyone who followed cape news that the name really bugged her.

Hehe.

Lady Photon’s daughter and niece were in the air with her. Laserdream and Glory Girl.

Respectively, I assume. Let’s see, how does this match up with my previous speculations about the family tree? Krixwell from 3.11 said [here]:

“I have a feeling she’s listing them in the same order as the relations, though, which would make Flashbang Glory Girl’s dad and Lady Photon her presumably paternal aunt.

Manpower would then be the uncle. Maybe a bruiser type, like Browbeat?

Laserdream and Shielder are most likely children of Lady Photon and Manpower.”

It’s looking good so far!


Mother and daughter shared the same general powers; flight, the ability to raise forcefield bubbles around themselves, and the ability to project lasers from their hands. As a consequence, their fight with Purity was something of a light show.

More evidence that the nature of the powers can be somewhat hereditary. It’s worth noting, though, that this Arc also contained evidence that it’s not always the case, since we now know the powers of both Alec and his parahuman “father”.

[Yeah, about that…]

Also, jeez, as if Purity’s power wasn’t a light show on its own, she’s fighting a team I’ve speculated to have light-based powers almost all around. Add that to the “this is very fitting” pile, I guess.

What if Kayden is a member of this family? We don’t know her maiden name. Maybe she was Kayden Dallon, or Kayden whatever-surname-Photon-Mom’s-part-of-the-family-has?

Below, it seemed, there was an all-out war.

Right, we still had a few of Purity’s cape subordinates unaccounted for, as well as many of her mundane ones, and not everyone on either side can fly.

Is the Protectorate down there?

As she targeted Glory Girl, one of Purity’s blasts of light slammed into the edge of a rooftop. Debris showered down, but was deflected by a bright blue forcefield.

I wonder if the forcefields are differently colored based on who made them.

Also, I noticed that Taylor said Photon Mom and Laserdream shared general powers. That means each of them can still have additional powers or quirks to their powers that differ from each other, so that’s a thing to watch out for.

That would be Shielder’s power at work.

Oh, naturally.

Actually… that’s one of those minor differences right there, even if it’s not between the family members I was talking about – Photon Mom and Laserdream can make “forcefield bubbles around themselves”, but this forcefield was described neither as a bubble nor as around anyone.


Maybe Laserdream’s lasers can cause the target to hallucinate, or something like that.


He fought alongside Flashbang and Brandish, and I could identify Krieg, Victor, Othala and Alabaster in their immediate vicinity. Further away were Night, Fog, Panacea, Vista and Clockblocker.

Oh hey! Still no sign of the Protectorate proper, but there are a few Wards, at least.

I’m curious about Brandish’s powers. She sounds like she might be awesome, but I have no clue what her powers might be besides that they’re probably similar to Glory Girl’s in some way. That said, my working theory is that Lady Photon and Flashbang are siblings, so most of GG’s powers seem to come from her father’s side of the family. Maybe Brandish’s power involves respect or fear, which mixes with the light theme on the paternal side of Glory Girl’s family to give her the angelic aura of respect/fear.

Also of note in this quote: Othala is here, but Rune doesn’t seem to be. I had speculated that the two of them worked together, but unless Taylor just couldn’t identify Rune or they’re out of sight, it seems that may not be the case.


I’d hope for a bit about Clockblocker not being happy to see Taylor, but when I think about it, he might not have seen her in the first place. It’s a bit unclear how much footage of Skitter is available to the public at this point.


“Around!” Tattletale pointed over Grue’s shoulder.

Wordlessly, Grue steered Judas into a turn. Bitch, astride Brutus, a bit ahead of Judas, looked over her shoulder and turned to join them. Angelica was happy to follow after. Together, we detoured left to a side street running parallel to the ongoing battle.

Yeah, might not want to dive right into that. Sounds like Tattle has a specific destination in mind, though… Does she want to talk to someone at the other end of the battlefield, or something?

“Why?” I called out.

“Safer!” Tattletale replied, without turning to face me.

That’s fair too.

A crash behind me made me duck. Manpower, a powerful seven foot tall athletic figure decked out in white and yellow, had been thrown through a brick wall.

Hi there! You look like a bruiser, like I theorized.

Maybe more than one. He seemed unhurt, but he was a fairly durable guy. Personal electromagnetic shielding, if I remembered right. He was still struggling to his feet after we left him behind.

Hm. Sounds similar to Glory Girl’s forcefield.

“What’s our plan!?” I shouted, raising my voice to be heard as one of Purity’s blasts crashed down to the street to our right.

I thought Tattle was going to explain that between chapters! Maybe she just explained the thing the plan is based on, and not the plan itself?

“Get her attention!” Grue replied. He pointed, “Up!”

Oh boy, here we go.

I guess distracting Purity might help New Wave get some good hits in? The thing Tattle Knew could easily have been that there’d be heroes on the case. But that seems too simple.


Bitch whistled, and Brutus surged forward in our pack. Brutus turned partway into an alley and leaped. He latched his claws on one wall of the building, half turned, then leaped across to the neighboring building. Zig-zagging upward, he ascended to the roof in a span of seconds.

Oh hell no.

Ahahaha seems like it took Taylor a moment to realize what Grue meant by “Up!”

Judas followed, and Angelica was only a heartbeat behind. If I’d thought our travel over the rooftops on our last escapade had been rough, this was sadistic. Or masochistic. It depended on where I assigned the blame.

Hehe

We reached the rooftop just in time to nearly be squashed by a huge chunk of building that dropped from the sky like a meteor. Angelica lurched under me as she leaped to one side.

At least no one’s wearing ruby slippers.

New Wave’s fliers and Purity weren’t the only ones in the air. Aegis was also up there on the side of the good guys, but Purity had backup from Crusader and Rune.

Oh hey, more people. Looks like Rune is here after all, though not working directly with Othala at the moment, and… wait, Aegis can fly? Huh. If that was shown or mentioned back in Agitation, I forgot it.

[It was.]


Crusader was flanked by a half dozen translucent replicas of himself, each armed with a ten foot long spear.

So Crusader basically makes a mini-army of himself. Neat.

He could use his power to generate ethereal simulacrums of himself, a legion of ghosts, if you wanted to be dramatic. I was more willing to peg them as some sort of semi-sentient forcefield molded in his shape or some telekinetic energy infused with fragments of his ego. Whatever.

Sounds about right.

The important thing was that his images could carry him up into the air, letting him fly, and they could pass through walls, armor and other solid barriers to impale you with those spears of theirs.

Huh, that’s pretty handy. It sounds kinda like fusing Holo-Pearls from Steven Universe with Vexes from Minecraft (neither of which were things Wildbow could know about unless he can time travel – I’m not saying he literally based the power on those things) and giving them spears.


Rune was the source of the debris that had struck us, which was rising back into the air as I watched. A teenage girl in the service of Empire Eighty-Eight, Rune was a powerful telekinetic capable of lifting nearly a ton.

Had to be a girl, huh. I’ve been having a hard time not assuming male, due to Rune (ROO-neh) being a male name in Norway. If I slipped up and said “he” somewhere, that’s why.

Seems like I was off-base about her power involving symbols, too.

So did that debris miss someone else and just happen to almost crush the Undersiders, or has Rune spotted them?

Several things weighing up to a ton, judging by what I saw. She hovered in the air, crouched atop a piece of building as big as a garbage truck, with more similarly sized pieces of rubble orbiting her.

Nice.

The drawback to her power was that she needed to touch things before she could move them with her mind, but that seemed fairly inconsequential right this moment.

It does seem helpful to some extent – it ought to slow down her reloading. Although there’s probably nothing stopping her from reusing the same debris she already threw at them.


The pair of villains were running interference for Purity, distracting and trapping the heroes to set them up so Purity could blast them out of the sky. Purity was too high up for us to interfere with, which meant we had to find another way to get her attention.

Hmm. I’m sure a message written in giant letters made of darkness in mid-air, saying “WE’RE HERE” ought to do the trick.

(Unlike Buglish, Darklish uses apostrophes.)

Regent handled that for us, sweeping his arm to one side. Rune slipped from her position on her floating piece of balcony. Another gesture from Regent, and the girl was left hanging from the side.

Nice work! 😀

“Don’t kill her,” I told him.

“Right,” he looked up at the girl. Seeing her struggle, he shouted, “Better make sure you can land somewhere safe! I’m dropping you in three seconds!”

…fair enough.

The rock drifted in our general direction, and we backed the dogs up. When Rune was over the rooftop, Regent swept his hand to one side and brought her down to a painful landing.

Ow.

Hi.

“Fuckers!” the teenager in the cowl and robe screamed, “I’ll squash you!”

You don’t like the Undersiders very much, do you?

The big pieces of rubble in the sky above drifted our way. One suddenly stopped levitating and dropped.

I wonder, can Regent’s power interfere with this kind of thing? Probably not.


We were already kicking the dogs into motion, leaping to the neighboring rooftop, when the debris struck with a series of crashes that suggested the debris had punched through the roof and even the one or two floors below it.

Well, that’s another building to cross off the list.

Crusader was apparently too occupied covering for Rune’s sudden absence to come after us. That meant that all we had to worry about was keeping from being crushed by Sabrina the teenage nazi.

Hah!

Note to self: I apparently wasn’t one of those capes that was good at the repartee, banter or name calling.

Ahahaha

Fair enough, better leave that to Spiderman.

One piece of debris soared over our heads, then plunged to stab downward through the roof in front of us. The dogs were agile enough to leap out of the way.

In the heat of the moment, we didn’t anticipate it rising again.

Whoops.

The debris thrust up through the edge of the building’s roof, and the dogs had to skid to a halt to avoid treading on crumbling rooftop. With the damage the building had sustained, our footing grew unstable.

Aw, shit.

The ground sloped, Angelica scrabbled for a grip, and then the section of roof beneath us began to slide down toward the street.

Honestly, going back down there would be kinda inconvenient.


Brutus pulled clear easily enough, but the continued drifting of the piece of debris forced Bitch to direct him down toward the alley, off the rooftop.

Well, at least he shouldn’t have much trouble getting back up.

The rest of us had a harder call to make. We were sliding off a precipice, and it was a good ten story drop to the street.

…I keep forgetting that buildings in this city are more than 2-3 stories tall, even in the Docks.

The nearest and only available rooftop to leap to was the one we’d just left, which was in ruins.

Well, that kinda puts some limits on the awesome rooftop chase, now doesn’t it. Hm.

Judas, I saw, managed to clutch the edge of the sliding raft of rooftop and get the leverage for a jump.

Ooh. But where to?

Brian, Tattletale and Judas reached the alley, where they could rebound off the walls until they reached relative safety.

Nice.

I was about to urge Angelica to do the same, when that drifting debris of Rune’s shifted position to block off the alleyway.

Dammit, Rune learns.

Another of Rune’s pieces of building approached from her direction, promising to smash us if through some miracle, the section of roof Angelica and I were standing on didn’t break free.

The roof breaking free is probably the better outcome here, especially if Angelica can manage to land on her feet. Maybe.


But we had another option. If I could only convince Angelica.

“Go!” I shouted at her, kicking my legs.

Running straight off, to maintain better control than if you were to fall?

She pushed forward, and the movement only accelerated the decay of the fractured rooftop beneath her paws, prompting it to slide and tilt.

Hm, that’s not good.

Angelica ran toward the building to our right. To the right of the alley. She clearly intended to leap to the building face, use her claws to dig into position there… and there would be nowhere to go from there.

Hrm.

Even if she could hang there indefinitely, or scale the wall back to the street, Rune would scrape us off the wall with a levitated piece of rubble.

And hanging there indefinitely is kind of useless to begin with.

I grabbed a horn at the side of her head and hauled on it, pulling her left. She resisted, hauled right, but I tugged again.

“Go!” I shouted at her.

I’m sure having read that book on dog psychology could’ve come in handy here.

Maybe you have to whistle?

She lunged straight for the floating piece of debris. Her claws latched on it, and for a moment, we hung there, Angelica in an undignified pose with her upper body hanging onto the thing, back legs dangling.

Hm. Not a bad move, but now Rune just needs a vertical surface to slam you against, and there’s certainly some of those here.

Wait. Can Rune even move this now? It seems like the Manton effect should at least limit it. Though I guess if Taylor and Angelica being there cut the power off entirely from this piece of debris, it should fall.

Also, Rune was moving herself with a piece of debris and she’s presumably alive. I suppose it’d just be that she can’t use the power directly on people.

It drifted downward, slow at first, then faster, as though Rune couldn’t support the weight of us and the chunk of building.

…Angelica weighs a ton or more all on her own, doesn’t she.

I generally visualize the hellhounds as roughly the size and mass of a big car.

Angelica scrabbled for a grip, pulled her body up and forward, and found the footing to leap.

Nice.


We reached the alley, Angelica found footing on the wall, and then made her way safely to the ground.

As we landed heavily, I fell from Angelica’s back. My hands were stiff from the deathgrip I’d just maintained, and my legs were a wreck.

Still, hard to complain.

Heh. Yeah, could’ve gone a lot worse.

“You okay?” Tattletale called out.

“Yeah. You guys?”

“Not so hot,” Grue replied.

Well, at least he admits it now.

He was leaning against a wall, with Tattletale at his side. Darkness radiated from every part of his body but his chest, and I could see how he’d unzipped his jacket to investigate the damage. He was bleeding from the cuts on his chest.

Ouch. :/

“Fuck, I knew you weren’t good to go!” I struggled to my feet and rushed to his side. “You pull your stitches already?”

“Other things to worry about!” Regent called out. “Incoming.”

Rune again?

I looked, and sure enough, Night and Fog were striding into the alleyway.

Ahh. Shit.

Night sported high heeled boots that clicked as she walked, and there was the gender difference, but the two were otherwise very similar.

Fighting in high heels strikes me as impractical, but her choice.

Cloaks, cowls, no logos or other decoration. Gray for him and black for her.

Hm. That’s what Rune was wearing, too. We haven’t heard anything about an E88 uniform. Is Rune their daughter?


“Retreat,” Tattletale spoke, “Just don’t turn your backs to them.”

Good call.

Fog moved forward, his limbs and legs dissolving into a cloud as he advanced on us. His pace was slow, only a little faster than we moved walking backward.

Hm. Unfortunately “a little” faster is all he needs unless it allows you to get to somewhere you can speed up or get away in some other way.

Bitch had to whistle twice to get a growling Angelica to retreat. The dog seemed set on protecting her master, attacking this threat, and was slow to obey.

Pick your battles, Angelica. Be like Oni.

The fog reached her, and we heard a strangled yelp, an unnatural sound from the throat of an unnatural animal. I saw Bitch start forward.

No no no no no no

“No!” I caught her shoulder.

I might have argued, told her why she couldn’t or shouldn’t attack, how useless it would be against a man that turned to a sentient gas. I didn’t get a chance.

Not sure it would’ve helped anyway.

While our attention was on Angelica, Night took the opportunity to blindside Brutus. He was thrown bodily into our group with enough force to to bowl us and even Judas over.

STRIKE!

Geez, if the dogs are as heavy as I’ve been imagining, that’s some incredible strength there.

Night just stood there, standing straight, heels together, one arm outstretched in front of her.

Did she throw Brutus like that with a simple push?

I hurried to my feet, my legs and knees aching, putting one hand on Brutus’ shoulder to steady myself. It was then that I saw the damage she’d done to him.

Noo, don’t hurt the doggos 😦


A dozen gouges criss-crossed his side, each wider than my handspan. One of the gouges had even shattered some of the protective bone plating. Brutus exhaled slowly, shuddering.

Ouch 😦

She’d done that?

I sent my bugs at the woman,

A justified reaction. But yeah, so much for retreat.

but the delay Night had created had bought time for Fog to get close. His mist blocked the path to Night, reduced the woman to a faint silhouette, and where the cloud passed, my bugs were crushed alive in midair.

Damn. It seems he can really fine-tune the movements of individual molecules in the gas.

The mist swelled forward, and we backed up as best as we were able.

I checked our escape route. It was blocked by none other than Night herself. Had she teleported? Cloned herself? No, it wasn’t cloning. I couldn’t see her silhouette anymore.

Hm. Shadow-walking, as in shadow-to-shadow teleportation? Would make sense for that to be an ability of someone called Night.

“What the fuck is this woman?” I asked, “Tattletale?”

“You know how the Manton effect could maybe be a psychological block that comes parceled with our powers?”

Oh no. Are you saying she’s one of the people who got around the effect?

I nodded, once.

“Okay, well, imagine that this woman got powers that let her turn into something so wrong that she’s got some sort of mental block that keeps her from transforming if anyone can see.

Interesting. So kind of like the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who but with transformation instead of movement… I suppose that’s why she has Fog cover up the view when they’re doing things like murdering that cameraman a few chapters ago.

Maybe because she’s so ashamed of being seen like that. When nobody’s looking, though, she’s a monster. Lightning fast and all sharp.”


“That’s…”

“Not even remotely close to the truth,” Tattletale confessed. “But it’s the best I can offer you. Don’t take your eyes off her.”

So basically, that’s not why, but the end result is the same – her power is terrifying but she can only use it when no one’s looking.

“Right.”

I began massing my bugs. I was going to need to catch Night off guard, debilitate her enough to take her down before she retreated to safety. Swarm her, swat her down, then we’d figure out how to deal with Fog.

Shame the bugs presumably don’t count against the Weeping Angel thing. Maybe they would if Taylor were to accept visual input from them, but that’s too overwhelming in larger quantities.

A bit optimistic, but it was a plan, anyways.

Night reached into her sleeve and retrieved a canister. I recognized it immediately.

A flashbang grenade.

…of course. When your power relies on not being seen, you pack something that temporarily blinds everyone present.

“Tattletale?”

“I see it,” she murmured her response. “Grue, we’re going to need you to cover this shit.”

Yes, good plan. Literally cover this.

I felt a ton of weight suddenly press heavily against my back.

“Grue!” Tattletale shouted.

…shit.

Grue had fallen against me, and he slid from that position to staggered to the ground at my side, landing with his hands and knees on the ground.

Is he still conscious?


“Blood loss,” Tattletale intoned. “Fuck, Grue, pay attention, you’ve-”

Night pulled the pin from the flashbang and threw it high into the air above us.

Damn.

Panacea, this’d be a good time for you to stop by and go by “enemy of my enemy” logic.


End of Buzz 7.9

This was a pretty decent chapter. We didn’t quite reach the Arc boss yet, and by the looks of it it’ll be at least another chapter before we do, but we did finally get to meet a bunch of characters, some of whom were name dropped all the way back in 3.11.

Next up: Flashbang. Except it’s not Flashbang, it’s a flashbang. It’s not even a flashbang thrown by someone on Flashbang’s side, but damn if it won’t flash and bang nonetheless. Flashbang should demand royalties.

Oh yeah, and the rest of the fight against Night and Fog. It most certainly won’t go as smoothly as Taylor’s optimistic plan would suggest, but we’ll see exactly how it works out next time.

See you then!


[postscript]

Hehe… So I did things in the wrong order and had to scroll the page up past a few comments after resizing the tab, and while I wasn’t actively reading them, I did notice one that was like:

“Oh, a weeping angel.”

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