Interlude 11g: Brawl in the Family

Source material: Worm, Interlude 11g

Originally blogged: April 17-20, 2018


Interlude 0.388 oz (Anniversary Bonus)

Howdy! Krixwell here, ready for some more Wormy acti– wait.

The imperial system? No no no no, fuck that. Where’s the lever that switches between the units…

*grumbles while looking for the lever* Seriously, who even flipped it to imperial in the first place? Sharks, maybe? …ah, there it is. Let’s get the blog back to a sensible system of measurements and start over.

(#Chapter i0.388oz #i0.388ozp1)


Interlude 0.0002695 fir (Anniversary Bonus)

Howdy! Krixwell here, ready for some more–

Ah, shit, now it’s set to the FFF system. Wrong lever, Krix! Curse my habit of keeping hundreds of unlabeled blog setting levers around!

Hmm, could it be this one?

(#Chapter i0.0002695fir #i0.0002695firp1

#why do we even have that lever)


Interlude 505400 Planck masses (Anniversary Bonus)

At least it doesn’t have decimals?

Ugh… this one, maybe?

(#chapter i505400planckmasses #i505400planckmassesp1)


Interlude 24.06 cubits (Anniversary Special)

THAT ONE ISN’T EVEN A UNIT OF MASS

Next lever!

(#chapter i24.06cubits #i24.06cubitsp1)


Interlude 11g (Anniversary Bonus)

F I N A L L Y

Now we can move on from this madness and get ready to meet, most likely, Bonesaw!

As far as predictions goes for that, I pretty much covered everything in the intro for the previous chapter [here]:

As for who Bonesaw might want to recruit… Panacea sounds like a weird but plausible option, if I’m right about Bonesaw having a specialty in medical equipment and thus probably also a medical background. We’ve established that Panacea’s power can be used offensively, too, and she is the daughter of a known bigshot criminal – those things might appeal to the Slaughterhouse as well.

But yeah, if Panacea is an attempted recruit, I don’t think it’ll work, unless she is forced like Hookwolf was (and I doubt that’s happening in two chapters in a row). Panacea has a spiteful, slightly darker side, and might be tempted by the prospect of dropping the exhaustion that comes with her responsibilities, but I think at the core, she’s a very good person who cares about fulfilling those responsibilities at the expense of her own health.

Incidentally, if Amy is Bonesaw’s attempted nominee, she’s likely to be the POV character for whichever one of these Interludes is about Bonesaw. Perhaps we’ll learn something about those secrets of hers that would wreck her relationships if they came out.

Nothing about my predictions re: Bonesaw has changed since then, and the Newbie (who could take this spot instead) is too mysterious at the moment to speculate much on.

So without further ado or nonsense about measurements, I’m going to go make myself a bowl of popcorn and then we’ll get this party started!


Well, one more bit of prediction before we start: If I’m right about Bonesaw’s specialty, it’s very possible we’ll be meeting her at a hospital. This also fits my theory that Panacea might be her nominee, seeing as Panacea frequently visits (or at least used to frequently visit, but I doubt Leviathan changed it given the sense of duty we saw in Interlude 3) hospitals to heal people.


A teenager with a red streak dyed into her dark hair strode down the street in rubber boots. Three hours past curfew, alone.

Hello.

Does Amy have a red streak? I don’t remember that, though she does have dark hair. New character?

She drew a smartphone from the pocket of her jacket, then set to untangling the earbuds. How did the damned things always get so knotted together? They were like Christmas lights.

I like to insist that all wires – especially this sort – have been Scouts at some point. That’s why they’re so good at knots.

Also, I like that the comment about Christmas lights is, in a sense, completely out of season on all fronts. Wildbow published this in June, I’m reading this in April, and I believe it’s April or May in-universe.

Not that she’d ever untangled Christmas lights, but she’d heard how Christmas lights got tangled.

Hmm. Possibly a hint at this character being raised with another religion or buzzkill parents? Or maybe no parents.

Also, it’s occurred to me that it might be unusual for Panacea to have a curfew, so that’s another point against this being Amy.


Popping the foam-covered buds into her ears, she began thumbing through the music as she walked.

Walking with music is good fun, just as long as you’re careful.

I’m more of the on-ear headphones type myself, though. Ear buds aren’t all that comfortable to me, and it seems to me they’ve usually got worse sound. Besides, my headphones are wireless these days, meaning I don’t have to deal with the Wire Scouts.

(I know there are wireless ear buds too, but I wouldn’t trust myself to not misplace one of them.)


Oh, and how did I forget the biggest problem with ear buds? They keep falling out.

If you’ve got wired ear buds, you’re going to be accidentally pulling them out when you move your arms around. If you’ve got wireless, I guess they’ll fall out less often, but when they do, there’s nothing to stop them from falling all the way to the ground or floor.


J’adore-

Into that French pop, huh?

Or maybe it’s not pop. That’s just the first genre that pops, no pun intended, into my mind when I think of French music.

Sweet Honey-

Love me, love me, you know you wanna love me…
Love me, love me, you know you wanna love me…

Ah, looks like she’s not feeling up for these tracks. They all seem to be love songs so far – perhaps she’s out here because of love issues and wants to listen to anything but love songs to take her mind off of things?

Her head nodded in time with the beat, and she slipped the phone into her pocket.

Oh, never mind, she liked that last one. Guess it’s just a matter of what she felt like listening to at the moment.

I’m often the same way. I’ve got nearly all my Spotify music in one large playlist (currently exactly 700 tracks, 39 hours and 33 minutes), and usually pick something I’m in the mood for as the first few tracks and let shuffle do the rest, occasionally skipping tracks I’m not feeling at the moment, or adding tracks I do want to hear to the queue.

Other than that playlist, my other main way of listening to music at the moment is LumiRadio [link broken, search for it on YouTube for updated link], which plays Homestuck music. I’m listening to that right now.


She supposed she could have bought something to coil up the cord of the earbuds, or replaced the music playlist instead of deleting everything that didn’t appeal.

Hm. Old phone, or stolen?

It wasn’t like she didn’t have money. It was an option. What stopped her was the fact that she had a pattern going. Everything she owned and everything she used day-to-day was stolen.

Yep. So she refuses to replace the playlist entirely because not just the phone but the playlist, too, is stolen, whereas a new playlist would break the c-c-c-combo.

Also this puts a pretty hefty third nail in the coffin of “is this Amy”.

The shirt on her back, her shoes, the music, her laptop. She kind of wanted to see how far she could get before she caved and actually bought something.

Hehe, nice.


Love me, you?
Love me, true?

It might just be a quirk of the shuffling and/or of the narration, but it seems whoever this phone belonged to liked love songs a lot.

Her boots splashed as she danced a little circle, murmuring the words. The light drizzle had wet her hair, and she pushed it back out of her face, stretched her arms out and let the raindrops fall against her closed eyelids.

You, who presume you can stay dry, by
Dodging all the raindrops,
Falling,
Thick,
Try lifting up your tongue
To the rain not just the sun
Nothing quite so simple
Was ever so much fun.


It wasn’t as though she was in a rush.

Yeah, this walk has seemed fairly relaxed. It’s a fairly calm scene for now, though I have a feeling that’ll change. Question is just how long it takes before Bonesaw, the Newbie or Hatchet Face gets involved here.

She’d walked long enough for six songs to start and finish before someone stopped her.

Oh, hello.

“Miss. Miss!” He was barely audible over her music.

Was she about to walk into the road or an open manhole or something because she was paying too much attention to the music?

She turned and saw a man in military gear, forty-something, his face heavily lined. He wasn’t wearing a helmet, he had a short buzz cut, a bit of scruff on his cheeks and chin, and his face was beaded with droplets of water.

Hm. Restricted area? Or is this guy working for someone less official, like Coil?

I don’t think this is Hatchet Face.

She pulled out her earbuds.

Especially since we got to the end of that paragraph without any mention of the scars that give him his name.


I suppose maybe Bonesaw is causing havoc and the military has been called in to keep civilians away from the danger zone?

Crazed, kooky, cracked, crazy,
Nutty, barmy, mad for me…

At first I thought this might be some sort of power that tells our POV character – who is still nameless, incidentally, maybe we’re setting up for some reveal surrounding her identity – about the people she’s looking at and/or what their mental state is.

But then I realized it’s just the music, unless Wildbow’s awkwardly switching up what italicized paragraphs mean in this chapter. Another love song, too, if I’m not mistaken.

The crooning sounded artificial coming from the earbuds that dangled from her hand, nasal.

Yeah.


“What’s up?”

“Are you okay?”

“I’m excellent.”

That is good to hear 🙂

But what prompted him to ask?

“There’s a curfew during the state of emergency. I don’t want to scare you too badly, miss, but there’re rape gangs, murderers and human traffickers on the street.

Oh! Well, that’s one point of “this isn’t Amy” negated, but it’s pretty clear by now that she isn’t. 😛

This is the first we’ve heard of this curfew that I can remember, unless Wildbow sneakily sent us into a flashback to Arc 5, but it makes sense with the state of Brockton Bay right now.

Especially since the Protectorate is aware of the Slaughterhouse’s presence. Even if the Wards’ suspicions in Arc 9 were dismissed as just that, the Slaughterhouse Nine have done enough in these Interludes that the PRT definitely knows they’re there by now, and would have a decent idea of it even if they didn’t have Brandish and Glory Girl as witnesses.

All people who would prey on a pretty young woman.”

That is true.


“You think I’m pretty?” She smiled, stepping closer.

(I considered commenting on that sneak compliment.)

Something about this is making me feel more wary of our POV character. Could it be that we’re actually getting Bonesaw’s own POV? I suppose if anyone’s going to break the unwritten rules of how these Interludes work, it’s gonna be the unpredictable one.

I don’t have any solid evidence, though, just a gut feeling based on this one line of dialogue and accompanying narration. The POV character so far seems like a nice enough girl, with the exception of her habit of stealing things.

I guess it’s just that when I read this, I can’t help but picture both the dialogue and the action with a more sinister tone than may have been intended here. I imagine Cinder Fall from RWBY.


“I have a daughter about your age,” he replied, smiling tightly.

Heh, yeeah, he might be a bit too old for you.

“That doesn’t answer my question. Do you think I’m pretty?” She stepped even closer, ran her finger down his chest.

My mostly unfounded wariness is growing.

“Yes, but-” he paused, gripping both sides of her jacket. He pulled the jacket together, then did up her zipper all the way to the top, around the heavy box that dangled around her neck.

“Get that cleavage outta my face, temptress.”

Also, this “heavy box” sounds interesting.

“That’s all the more reason for you to be careful, understand? Do you have a home or a shelter you’re staying at?”

This poor man is just trying to do his job and make sure this teenager he just met gets home safely.


She didn’t reply. Her brows knit together and she undid her jacket and stepped away from him.

“Don’t mess with my look.”

He went on, “I can give you directions to the nearest shelter if you want. It’s new, just a little ways up Lord street here. There may be space.”

Would that be the one Tattletale runs? I think so.

“I’m staying with some people.”

“Do you need directions?”

She didn’t reply. She studied him instead.

Heh. If this is Bonesaw, I think we’ve met most of those “some people” recently.

“If you’re willing to wait, I can give you a ride when I’m done here. I’ll get relieved in five or ten minutes, but we could talk in the meantime. You can sit in my jeep, and you’ll be dry.”

Hmm.

This is beginning to toe the line to potentially creepy. Then again, this is the same guy who just shot down the POV character by bringing up the age difference, and I suppose this is a reasonable thing to suggest out of altruism in this situation. It’s just that it kinda seems a bit too persistent at this point?


She hesitated. “Fine.”

Lock the doors and close the blinds, we’re going for a ride!

The man led her back to his jeep. She sat in the passenger seat while he stood outside, his eyes on the surroundings, occasionally exchanging words with the person or people on the other end of his walkie-talkie.

Well, at least he’s finishing up his shift like he said.

After a few minutes, he climbed into the driver’s seat. “The men who were supposed to take over the watch are late. Something about fires downtown.”

Oh, shit, is Burnscar at it again?

(I doubt this is taking place at the same time as her Interlude, since things have seemed pretty linear so far.)

She nodded.

Crazed, kooky, cracked, crazy,
Mental, dotty, whacked, loopy…

Back to the music again.

Music which… kinda sounds like foreshadowing about whom we’re going to be dealing with today.

“Do you mind turning off your music?”

“I like it,” she said. “I hate silence.”

Right there with you. Silence is rather pressing sometimes.

(#i linked the cupcakes-based video for the song because the other video i’m familiar with of it is super spoilery for the adventure zone

#though i do think it’s better #so if you’ve finished taz balance

#go search youtube for #’i can’t decide taz’)


“Well, I’m not about to deny someone their coping mechanisms. Where do you live, or where did you live, before the attack?”

I have a feeling she didn’t live here in Brockton Bay. If she says that, though, he’s bound to get confused about why she would come here.

“Out of town.”

He raised one eyebrow, but he kept looking out the windows for possible trouble.

Bingo.

I feel like that’s a big point in favor of this being either a surprisingly coherent Bonesaw, or the Newbie (which is a possibility I didn’t think of until now, but also one that seems less likely because of the lyrics). Moving to Brockton Bay right now is pretty worthy of a raised eyebrow from me too if she’s not here to take advantage of the situation like the Slaughterhouse Nine.

He put the key in the ignition and started the car so he could use the windshield wipers. “Sounds like there’s a story there. People don’t just come into town at a time like this, and if you were just visiting, you would have evacuated already.”

Oh yeah, I’m sure there’s quite the story here, alright.


“Oh, we’re visiting because it’s a time like this,” she smiled.

Yep. Almost definitely a Slaughterhouse member.

And that “almost” is only there because while we haven’t heard of any other villain groups coming to town to take advantage of the situation, it’s still plausible that some would, and this could be an elaborate misdirection. I really don’t think it is, though.

“Thrill seeking?” his voice hardened. “That’s not only stupid, it’s disrespectful.”

Hm, yeah, I suppose it is. It’s like looking at a poor nation’s suffering and going “that sounds fun, I should try that”.

But hey, wasn’t thrill seeking part of how Bonesaw was described in 10.6?

“The people I’m staying with? They’re the Slaughterhouse Nine. I’m one of them.”

Woah, way to be super honest all of a sudden!

I kinda love that. “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, I’m one of the country’s most feared villains.”


“That’s not funny.” His voice went hard, any gentleness gone.

Of course he would think she’s trying to joke.

He might not like her proving it to him. Possibly not survive it either.

…pfft, imagine if, instead of proving it by way of showing him her power or something like that, she took out her stolen wallet and showed him a printed group selfie of all the Slaughterhouse members, making victory signs in front of a burning and thrashed building. :p

“Look! There’s me, and there’s Mannequin, there’s Shatterbird, there’s Siberian with her knockers out like usual, there’s Burnscar, Crawler, Hatchet Face and… the new girl. Shoot, I keep forgetting her name. Let’s just call her Barbie, okay?”

“It’s really not,” she agreed with a smile.

Hehe.

He went for his gun, but he didn’t get that far. She closed her eyes for a moment, listened for the music that came from his mind and body.

Okay, I think we’ve got the Newbie here. I’m not sure what all she can do with this up close, but it’s a power that seems like it could be used to locate someone, depending on how much of a range it has. Besides, we know Bonesaw is a tinker, and this doesn’t seem like a tinker power at all. More thinker, with an H in there.

Turns out all the music, and not liking silence, was all foreshadowing of her power rather than of her amount of sanity.

The jangling, dissonant noise of alarm, the throbbing percussion of mortal fear, every part of his body shifting into fight or flight mode.

Ironically, this is telling her some of the same things I briefly mistook the music for being a power that could tell her about.

The underlying notes spoke to his personality. His love of his family, his fear that he was about to leave them behind, anger towards her, a momentary anxiety that he was overreacting.

This even more so.

But there’s probably more to this than that. The only way she could use this information to stop him from going for his gun seems to be Tattletale-style appeal to secrets. Then again, I haven’t finished the paragraph yet.

She grasped this in the fraction of a second.

Yeah, this has to be quick in order to stop him from drawing his gun on her.


“You pointed at yourself twice, skipped the wild-looking one with clothes, and said you keep forgetting your own name. Are you sure you’re okay?”


Reaching for that mortal fear, she wrenched it. When that wasn’t quite enough, she pulled at it and twisted it until everything else was squeezed into the far edges.

Ahhh. Emotion manipulation. She might also be able to do things with the underlying personality.

With the way emotions are presented semi-metaphorically as music, maybe she can do something with actual music as well?

He screamed, throwing himself as far away from her as he could get, his weapon falling between the seats.

Yeeah, that would do it.

This particular usage of the power seems a lot like Gallant’s emotion blasts or Glory Girl’s angelic aura of fear and respect, but more versatile. Heartbreaker also comes to mind, especially if she can reach deeper and manipulate his underlying personality.


Crazed, kooky, cracked, crazy,
Nutty, screwy, mentally diseased…

Was I wrong earlier? Does this song, even with the line “Nutty, screwy, mad for me”, have anything to do with love?

Also it seems to have gone on for a while.

I’d question whether it was even really playing or if she was hearing the music from her own core, if not for the military guy commenting on the music.


Hang on.

What’s one thing we know about parents and children with powers? Their powers are often similar.

And what’s one thing we know about Heartbreaker? He’s got lots of children.

I think we might have a half-sister of Alec here.


She twisted other parts of his emotional makeup until he was compliant, adrift in apathy, obedient. “Stay.”

Aaand we’ve got a thrall.

He stopped retreating. He was still breathing hard from his momentary panic, but that would pass.

The body does its own thing until it catches up with the brain’s new orders.

She leaned towards him and ran her hand along the top of his head. It was like rubbing a toothbrush, spraying minuscule bits of water onto the wheel and dashboard.

There is nothing dry in this city.

The rain is doing its part in ensuring that, catching spots like the Palanquin hill, where the usual flooding doesn’t reach.

“Good.”

He stared at her. There was fear in the look, and she didn’t have the heart to erase all of it. A little was good.

…from a victim’s perspective, is a little bad emotion better than no emotion?

I think a lot of people would say yes to that. It’s like how humans hate boredom so much they’ll rather do a thing they know will hurt, just to get some stimulus, any stimulus.


“I want to drive. Switch seats with me.”

He nodded dumbly and climbed out of the jeep. She made her way over to the driver’s seat, then waited for him to climb in before she peeled out.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess she doesn’t have a license.

The jeep cut through the shallow water that covered the roads. Others had noticed her leaving, she knew, and were following in their own vehicle.

Hm? Are there other Slaughterhouse members around?

She could sense them, each a fingerprint of emotions in deeply individual configurations. The mix of personal pride and confidence that she sensed in them suggested they were military. The soldiers that had been taking over for this guy?

Oh, okay. I suppose maybe he didn’t properly check out before getting enthralled. Or maybe they noticed the seat switch?


Not much time to do it. She searched through the feelings of her passenger, found the networks of brotherly love, trust, camaraderie, and adjusted each until the music was one of tension, suspicion, paranoia.

Welp. Suddenly they’ll all be like, “You’re working with the bad guys, aren’t you?”, and “You’re not taking my glory!”, or maybe “Why do you want to catch up with them?”

Then she set his fight or flight reflexes into high gear.

Oh wait, I misread, she was doing that to the guy in her jeep (essentially stolen, like everything else she uses), not the guys in pursuit. I suppose there’s probably a shorter range on the manipulation, otherwise it’d be quite overpowered.

“Get the gun.”

She’ll make him shoot his own comrades.

He fished for it between the seats, picked it up.

Then he pointed the gun at her.

Well, apparently he’s still present enough to know who his target should be.

“No, stop,” she said. Too unspecific. Fuck. Still need to work on that. She hit him with as much doubt and indecision as she could manage to keep him from shooting her.

I suppose this is her weakness, for now – until she gets better at it, the manipulated emotions will be a little too unspecific about certain things, such as whom to be paranoid about.

Then she stalled all of the ‘music’ that flowed to and from that one point in the very front of his brain. She knew the music was her way of understanding and interpreting the biological processes that drove people’s emotions. By listening for it, she knew what they felt, knew what the emotions were tied to, vaguely.

This is why I call the music semi-metaphorical. I don’t think it actually manifests as sound that only the Newbie can hear and mentally “wrangle”, but when faced with a sense the brain isn’t normally designed to handle, it can find ways to treat these things as if they came from the basic senses. Similarly, I don’t think Dinah actually sees the branching timelines in any real sense, but because she has overview over a large number of them at once, presenting it as a “visual” in her mind is the best way for her brain to handle that sense.


There would only be one thing in his short-term memory that was that important right now. Her.

So does that mean he won’t even consider the people following them as viable targets because he’s too focused on her?

With that link severed, he would now feel nothing towards her, couldn’t summon up any self-preservation, anger or hatred.

Ohh.

But no reason to obey either, right?

Another tweak, redirecting the flow of emotion from his family to her, and he would feel an extreme aversion to the idea of shooting her, wouldn’t be able to shoot her any more than he could his own daughter.

Ah, that would do it.

Hey, I just met you,
and this is crazy,
but here’s my emotion,
so now you’re family!

(#i wrote that without realizing that the song is on an album called #E•MO•TION)


He pulled the gun away, dropped it into his lap. He crumpled over, his hands to his head, then moaned, “No.”

Is that a “no” of “no, I can’t shoot you”, or “no, please stop messing with my head”? Or maybe “no, this can’t be happening”?

She was close to her destination. She pulled the jeep to a stop and hopped out, the other jeep pulling up just a ten or so yards away. Two soldiers got out.

“Hey, fellas! How’d you like becoming my thralls along with your comrade? :)”

“Hey!” someone shouted at her.

She turned her back to them, slipping her ear buds in. The music had looped back to the first track.

Looks like she doesn’t give a shit.

Also that’s a short playlist, how long have you been deleting stuff from it?

She got her phone out and skipped forward a few times, pausing to delete one song. She sang along, “Love me, love me, you know you wanna love me…”

Just like at the beginning of the chapter. This would make a fantastic bookend with that, but… this doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the end of the chapter.


Speaking of which, it’s 1 AM and time to stop for the night. I think we’ll pick this back up tomorrow (Wednesday). See you then! 🙂

[End of session]


Someone just let slip that Legend is, apparently, gay, and based on their reaction when I said I didn’t want to know whether that was headcanon or they forgot I didn’t know that, I think it was the latter.

If it is in fact canon, that’s pretty neat. Legend is cool – he seems like a good character for positive LGBT representation (at least from my non-LGBT perspective).

And hey, it makes total sense, too. After all, the gimmick of his power is that it doesn’t go straight. 😉


[Discord]

Lizzy Claire, Extraordinaire [Sharks]:
Isn’t it funny how Bonesaw’s interlude never actually comes, and the Slaughterhouse interludes just loop and that’s the rest of the story?
:p

Krixxx:
😄
I’m sure the bank robbery starts next chapter.


Scout: Velocity

Soldier: Miss Militia

Pyro: Lung

Demoman: Bakuda

Heavy: Skitter

Engineer: Kid Win

Medic: Panacea

Sniper: Flechette

Spy: Regent

(#I’m guessing there might be a character later who fits better for the spy)


[Session 2]

…so let’s read some more Worm!


Let’s see if we can’t find out what the Newbie actually calls herself today. At least one of her names would be nice. 😛

“Hey!”

She could sense her passenger climbing out of the jeep, hear the garbled murmurs of warning, questions.

“What are you doing, man?”

There was a burst of fear from all three, then the sound of multiple guns firing. She smiled.

Welp, looks like the suspicion, tension and paranoia just kicked in.

The authorities would have a hell of a time figuring out what happened there.

Yeeeah, especially since it seems likely they don’t know about the Newbie being in the Slaughterhouse yet.


She’d had her doubts about coming to Brockton Bay. It had been a turn off to know that areas lacked power, that still more areas lacked working plumbing.

It’s not a particularly inviting place these days, by first world standards.

But Burnscar and Bonesaw had both been excited to come, and Jack Slash had bent to Bonesaw’s wishes, pushing for the group to come this way.

We already know Burnscar had other reasons than just violence and abuse of a post-Endbringer situation to want to go to Brockton Bay. Could the same be the case with Bonesaw?

Crawler, Mannequin and Siberian had seemed fairly indifferent.

Sounds about right.

Not that Crawler or Mannequin showed much emotion.

Yeah, and I’d imagine Siberian isn’t all that interested in cities, besides the sheer amount of prey.

She’d thought she had an ally in Shatterbird, at least, but the woman hated her, and the uptight bitch had gone along with the plans to visit Brockton Bay just to ruin her day.

Hah! I kinda doubt how accurate that is, but…

Wait.

Nope, it’s probably at least mostly accurate. If there’s anyone around here who would know for sure exactly how others feel about her, it’s the girl who can listen to people’s emotions and accurately identify their targets.

So why does Shatterbird hate the Newbie? Does it have something to do with not having been the one to recruit her? Or maybe it’s just a conflict of personality, like Shatterbird not caring for Newbie’s more casual attitude.


But it was interesting, she had to admit. The landscape of people here was so different. So many people here were so insecure, so worried.

Makes sense.

And on some level, I have to agree. The social structures in Brockton Bay have gotten a little more interesting after Leviathan, if not exactly healthy.

Most were on the brink of some kind of emotional breakdown, needing just one event, one piece of bad news before they broke down completely.

Sounds like a recipe for more parahumans. Brockton Bay as it is right now would be an excellent target for a trigger attack by one of those parahuman supremacist organizations I’ve been suggesting the existence of ever since trigger events were introduced. Shatterbird could probably trigger a bunch of people at once, too.

Others had already been broken, or they’d turned vicious and started preying on their fellows, seeking out vengeance on those who had wronged them in a past life. In their pre-Endbringer life.

Like many of the Merchants.


People here were so deliciously fucked up.

Worm summarized in seven words.


Hmm… So if we can have symbolism surrounding Ragnarök, why not other religions’ end times as well?

For one thing, the Christian Revelation of John has two Beasts – one from the sea (a hydra-like creature, by the sound of it) and one of the earth – ruling Earth under “the Dragon”.

Beyond that, I don’t see that many parallels to the Christian apocalypse just yet, but I’m just bringing up the possibility that we might. Not just Christianity either, but I know very little about most linear religions’ ideas of the end of the world.

Also, one piece of weirdness is that the return of Jesus is supposed to be late in the Christian apocalypse, but the closest we’ve got to a Jesus figure in Worm is Scion, who came at the beginning of what I’ve speculated to be analogous to the end times.

Anyway, in related news, I just read through the Wikipedia article on the events of Revelation, and damn, it’s a complicated apocalypse they’ve got.

(#this post brought to you by the mention of the word ‘endbringer’)


This kind of situation, ordinary citizens were doing things they’d never even have considered before. Stealing, hurting their neighbors, bartering things they once considered precious for clothing, food, toilet paper and other essentials.

Some of them even jaywalk!

Emotions were raw, far closer to the surface, easier to manipulate.

Oh yeah, I suppose this is wonderful for your power.

Her music cut off. She checked the phone. An alert on the screen notified her that the battery was dying.

Damn, that sucks.

She swore. No more time to waste. She dialed a number, but didn’t hold the phone up to her ear. Good. Now she had fifteen minutes.

Did you set up a bomb somewhere to start ticking down when you called it? Or maybe there’s someone waiting for you to alert them but who doesn’t need to talk to you for more information.

It seems like Newbie has an objective here, but what?


Perhaps Newbie’s objective could have something to do with Alec? Seeking out her wayward half-brother (or maybe even full brother)? But if she’s working on her own, which is most likely if that is the case, then what was the phone “call” about?

(#half-brother #full brother consequences)


She reached out and started feeling for the outliers. The emotional fingerprints that stood out from the rest.

The other seven members of the Nine were out there. Not hard to find. One or two were interacting with some other outliers. The most fucked up people in this fucked up city.

Ah, yes, their nominees, I suppose.

Interestingly, only two of the nominations we’ve seen have worked out past the first contact stage, meaning some of the Slaughterhouse members may still have found someone else to nominate, if they’re allowed to do that. (Again, I doubt the Slaughterhouse are sticklers for rules.)

She’d studied each of these unknown outliers over the course of a week, watching their emotions shift as they went out about their lives, sometimes visiting the areas they tended to hang around, to get a sense of their environments.

Trying to get an idea of who your fellow members are nominating?

Slowly, she’d pieced them together, created profiles, discerned which ones had powers and described them to the other members of the Slaughterhouse Nine.

Ohh, no, this is earlier – she’s basically been a radar for potential nominees! That explains how the Slaughterhouse members found out about each of their nominees so quickly.

I like this.


Each had made their picks:

The buried girl. The arrogant geek. The dog lover. The daydreamer. The warlord. The scaredy cat. The broken assassin. The crusader.

The Twins, The Lover, The Protector, The Lonely Journal Keeper, The Peacemaker and the Wordless One.

Okay, so I guess they can’t go pick someone else if they picked from a list in advance. That’s fair.

Let’s see…

  • The buried girl would be Noelle, located underground over an extended period of time.
  • The arrogant geek is obviously Armmaster. I wonder what he’d think of being called a geek.
  • The dog lover is similarly obvious, being Bitch.
  • The daydreamer sounds like Labyrinth, but did Burnscar really pick her out from a list of the most fucked up people of Brockton Bay? That doesn’t sound right. Though I suppose Labyrinth does have some pretty strong emotional issues that Newbie might pick up on.
  • I don’t even need to say who the rainbow one is, do I.
  • The warlord would be Hookwolf.
  • Oni Lee sounds like the scaredy cat for a moment due to his tendency to flee from battle, but he fits much better as the broken assassin, especially after what we learned in Jack’s Interlude.

That leaves us with the scaredy cat and the crusader for the Newbie and Bonesaw.

The crusader strikes me as a red herring. We have a character named the Crusader, and that’s exactly why I think it’s not him. Who else has the propensity for going on violent rampages for a specific cause? Hookwolf is taken (I suppose he could be the crusader and someone else is the warlord, but after that spiel about wishing he was in the ancient Roman military or something like it?), Kaiser is dead, and if it’s Purity, Jack made a huge faux pas by plotting to kill one of the others’ nominee. And Panacea, whom I’ve been speculating to be Bonesaw’s pick, is more altruistic and duty-bound than crusadery about healing people.

The scaredy cat… sounds like an odd sort of person to attempt to recruit. I really have no clue who this could be. It’s not Alec or Panacea, neither of those are characterized by fear. Also I get the feeling that there’s some hinting about them actually being cat-like or otherwise having something to do with cats, here, but the only character we know with a feline association is Siberian, who is obviously off the table.

…hm, I do suppose Alec might be characterized as a scaredy cat for escaping Heartbreaker, but that seems like a stretch considering he doesn’t actually appear to be scared.

Anyway, this is a really neat little rundown of the nominees. It would’ve been fun having this to speculate on earlier, though I get that it’d be a little too clear and would spoil some of the twists in the other Interludes when examined properly.


And all she wanted was a few minutes to pay a visit to hers. She didn’t have to name that one. He was familiar enough. She smiled.

Hmm.

Actually, looking back, it looks like Hatchet Face got a pick and Newbie’s pick – Alec? – wasn’t mentioned. The crusader, perhaps, might’ve been Hatchet Face’s pick.

Two men sat on the steps outside the building. She knew immediately that they were soldiers, but they weren’t official.

Coildiers?

They wore black, and they wore body armor that she hadn’t seen before.

Probably tinkertech Coil got access to somehow.

“No,” she stopped them from reaching from their guns with a mixture of doubt, apathy and anxiety.

“Uhh? I don’t know who you are and I’m a little worried, but I kinda don’t care?”

Complementing her words with a heavy surge of depression, guilt and self loathing, she ordered them, “Kill yourselves.”

Jeez, that’s harsh!

Also, the fact that she’s predominantly using the emotional manipulation to make people obey her commands makes me feel even more sure about her possible relation to Heartbreaker and Alec.


Also, if it really is Alec, then the line “He was familiar enough.” might be a nice bit of meta – he’s certainly familiar enough to the reader by now, especially after Interlude 10a.


It wasn’t immediate, but their willpower wasn’t enough to stave off some of the strongest and most agonizing emotions they would have felt in their lives. It was quick when their composure cracked, the guns flying to mouth and temple to fire.

Damn.

She could sense the others inside the building, alarmed at the gunshots, moving toward the front.

Oh yeah, maybe not the best move to make them do it so noisily? But on the other hand, Newbie doesn’t seem to be the type for stealth.

Four more soldiers and four others who stayed back. Not soldiers.

Hmm, interesting.

If we are at Alec’s base, which is still quite unclear, then… has he gone back to his old habit of having some people to control, now that he’s not living with all the other Undersiders anymore?


She didn’t wait for them to step outside. She did the same thing she’d done to the guards stationed outside, crushing them with despair, overwhelming them with loathing and paranoia.

It’s handy when your power’s range goes through walls.

It was only slightly faster than it had been here. Here, there had been an enemy for the soldiers to focus their negative energies on, to distract them.

Huh. I had expected it to be the other way around since the people inside didn’t have her literally telling them what to do about it, but I suppose it makes sense that this would have a larger impact.

It was surprising how important that could be.

Yeah.

Nearly a minute passed before the fourth gunshot sounded, marking the death of the last soldier here.

From an inside perspective – like the non-soldiers’ – this must be terrifying.


She tried the front door and stepped inside. The inside was nicer than the outside, watertight, heavily reinforced. A feminine looking teenaged boy with a mop of dark curls stood at the other side of the building. He had two men and a woman guarding him.

CALLED IT

Hiya, Alec, what’s up?

I mean, besides being visited by a girl who just made your soldiers kill themselves.

Also, is Alec controlling the men and the woman? And if he is, would all of him feel the effects of Newbie messing with his puppets’ emotions and be forced to act on them, or would they be mostly immune to tricks like the suicide switch because no matter how much Newbie might make them want to do something, they don’t have any control over their body to do it with?

Based on how things went with Shadow Stalker, I’m inclined to think the latter.


Maybe we’re about to finally learn Newbie’s name.

I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess… Monika.


Or maybe Ashley? Ashley is a good name.


So is Newbie going to address Alec as “Hijack”, if she doesn’t go for his civilian name?

Incidentally, it wouldn’t surprise me if the civilian name she knows isn’t the one he currently uses either.


“Jean-paul. Ça va?

Jean-paul. Seriously?

Fair enough, I guess.

Maybe Nikos didn’t care and let Alec’s mother name her child, and she had French ancestry?

Then again, Newbie is not just calling Alec by a French name, she’s also talking to him in French. Maybe that’s just a humorous greeting, a poke at his name, but it might mean they’ve been raised with some French. That could still be from the harem, I suppose, but it’s also possible that I’ve misjudged where the name Nikos Vasil would come from (Greece).

“It’s Alec now. Regent in costume.”

Alec what, though? Jean-paul Vasil before, Alec ??? now.

I mean, I called that he’d changed his civilian name a long time ago, but I’ve never learned what his surname is these days, whether it’s still Vasil (doubtful) or not.

(#the fact that paul isn’t capitalized bugs me)


“Alec,” she smiled. “Still sounds French. I approve, little brother.”

It does?

I guess I don’t know much about French names, really.

Also, hey, confirmation! 🙂

“Cherie,” he ran his fingers through his hair. “What the fuck?”

Is he just using that in the sense of “dear” in French, or is that actually her name?

I’m inclined to think the latter. “Dear” is not really something I’d expect Alec to address someone as in any language, and it’s not in italics like the French “Ça va?” earlier.

Also that’s a very valid question. Cherie just killed six of Alec’s soldiers for pretty much no reason. Based on how calm Alec is acting, she probably would’ve gotten in without too much trouble if she’d just asked the soldiers at the door to tell Alec she was there.


“If we’re changing our names, I’m going by Cherish. I wanted to make an entrance.”

Not a bad name!

Also, yeah, that’s… quite the entrance.

“Man.”

“You’ll find others.”

That’s… not really the issue here.

“Fuck,” he sighed.

She reached for the three people who stood between her and her brother, manipulated their emotions towards Alec. Filled them with suspicion, paranoia, hate.

Why? You seem on relatively amicable terms, so why suddenly try to make people attack him?

Is it just to check whether or not he’s controlling them?


They didn’t budge.

Thought so.

“Cut it out, Cherie,” Alec said, “I’m controlling them.”

And, much like he was vaguely aware of Shadow Stalker’s emotions due to the ways the body tried to react to them but couldn’t, he can tell that she’s doing this.

“If I remember right, you lose control if they’re hit by enough emotion,” she smiled. She turned up the intensity.

That is very interesting.

Has to take a lot, though. Sophia was quite intensely emotional under Regent’s control, what with her solar anger and mortal fear, and she didn’t break loose.

“If I’m farther away. Seriously, stop. It’s irritating.”

Oh yeah, I suppose it makes sense that the distance factor makes a difference for that.


One of the men fell to his knees. His hands were clenched at his sides. Beads of sweat rolled down the faces of the other two, tears appearing in their eyes.

…is he making them do that, or did she successfully overload them?

“While I’m doing this, you can’t tell them to attack me.”

…okay?

“Unless I’ve gotten stronger over the past few years,” Alec answered.

Ah, it’s a matter of Cherie figuring that even if her influence can’t make them attack Alec or break the control entirely, it can make it harder for him to control them.

The man who was still standing reached for a knife and started walking towards Cherish.

And by the looks of it, she’s wrong.

She hit the knife wielder with fear and indecision, saw him stop.

It’s kind of interesting how this is working. We’ve got direct body control, contested by indirect mind control in a way that just slightly bypasses his body control through automatic, subconscious reactions.


For nearly a minute, they engaged in a tug of war over the three subjects.

Another thing about this: Is there actual hostility here, or is it just a semi-friendly sibling rivalry, testing their powers? If one of them did actually win out, would they then stop the attack?

“Seems we have a stalemate,” she said, finally.

Yep, looks like it.

“Did the dirty old man send you?” Alec asked.

Time to move on to the important stuff.

She shook her head, “Daddy? I went my own way. After a bit.”

Please… It’s only been 10 hours since Sharks made me look at this cursed screenshot:

[Discord]

Elizabeth Claire [Sharks]:
💗 Daddy 💗 gave me his wave cummies 💦💦 i begged 💗 Daddy 💗 to cum to my 🌆 he said 🚫 no 🚫 unless i took his 💗 cummies 💗 💦 💦 💦 1 cummie 💦 2 cummies 💦 3 cummies 💦 4 💦 💗 Daddy Leviathan 💗 so many cummies

It’s too soon for more of the word “Daddy” right now, in the unironic fatherly sense or otherwise.

(#of course i’ll make you guys look at it too

#why wouldn’t i)

[I just had to reproduce this with my own fingers for the transcript. Excuse me while I go wash them a few hundred times.]


And on that highly uncomfortable note, I think it’s time to end tonight’s session. See you tomorrow (Thursday) for what I believe will be the final part of the chapter! 🙂

[End of session]


The most unrealistic thing in Worm is still that so many of Taylor’s classmates actually did the non-mandatory weekend homework Mr. Gladly gave them.


[Session 3]
I think the serial readers have been tormented by “Daddy Leviathan” being near the top of my blog for long enough. Let’s get back to the siblings!


“How’s he doing?”

Right now? I mean, if she went her own way too, chances are she’s not that much more up to date on that than you are, Alec.

“Unfocused. For the longest time, I thought he was building up to something. Lots of kids, ensuring they had powers. Thought he’d try to topple the other gangs and become ruler of organized crime in Montreal.”

Ooh, Montréal. So Alec’s Canadian, then, specifically from the second largest predominantly French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. That would explain the language, even if Nikos Vasil has Greek ancestry and Alec and Cherish’s mother(s) don’t have French.

…did I know this already? I don’t remember it, but it seems like the name of the city Heartbreaker operated in is the kind of thing that would come up during the Alec backstory exposition, or in 6.8.

*blog search* Hm, no results for “Montréal” with or without the accent.

[It did come up, without the accent, in Buzz 7.1. Tumblr’s blog search just couldn’t handle the fact that it was at the end of a sentence, followed by a full stop. It’s a very functional website, don’tcha know?]

Anyway, there’s more – Cherish’s previous theory on what Heartbreaker was doing pretty much matches my own, though I might’ve been thinking a little bigger. I mean, with enough kids, he could have practically an army of parahumans, many of whom would have the power to control more people in various ways, for whatever cause Heartbreaker wanted an army for.

Though I suppose the moment he went non-local with his efforts, that would be a cue for the Protectorate to mobilize more than just the local team against him, and on a large scale, they’d still have so many more, and so much more varied, capes than he would. And that’s before considering the individual values of some of the most powerful people they’ve got, like Eidolon.

But yeah, if he’s now unfocused… did his plan fall apart somehow? Is he getting old?

(Also, Montréal sounds like a terrifying city to live in for anyone who values their self-control.)


“But?”

“But it didn’t happen. Time passed, he never made a push for it. Guillaume got his power, you know. Ten or so of us kids, and three of us could control people one way or another. Four if we count you.

Okay, so I guess the number of kids is a little more realistic than I was imagining.

Still, though, that’s not a number to scoff at.

We had what we needed to pull off something huge, and Daddy decided he wanted a celebrity among his girls.

Hrm.

One question I thought of but forgot to write a couple posts ago: Was there ever a plan in the first place? Or has he just been mass-producing parahumans just for the hell of it?

Took us on a road trip to a film set in Vancouver, kidnapped this star, took her back to Montreal. So petty.”

I wonder if she was someone who’s famous in our world.


“Somehow I’m not surprised.”

Me neither, really, on the celebrity kidnapping thing.

“Heroes came after us, from both Vancouver and Montreal.

Ah, right, of course they did. Not sure how that consequence slipped my mind right after I was talking about the results of going non-local with his “army”.

Half of what we had built and earned as the Vasil family just kind of got trampled in the fighting that spilled out from that. All because Daddy wanted to bone someone famous. I got fed up, left.”

Damn.

Not gonna lie, that’s a good reason for leaving.

So how long did it take before the Slaughterhouse picked you up?

“So you’re on your own. And he didn’t send the others after you?” Alec moved one of his subject’s legs so she would fall to the ground rather than point her gun at the man standing next to her.

I wouldn’t say she’s on her own, per se…

Man, first Bitch getting recruited, their boss’s base getting attacked, and now one of the existing members is one of Alec’s siblings and she seems to have decided to try recruiting him. The Undersiders’ involvement with the Slaughterhouse Nine is quite tangible now.


“He did. Guillaume and Nicholas. Guillaume just has to touch someone and he can sense everything they do for a good while.

Huh, that’s pretty neat. That’s arguably even better for tracking than Cherish’s power, though of course it requires getting within touch range in the first place and has a time limit.

It sounds like it’d be easy to make a good, balanced D&D spell out of it.

Nicholas just wallops you with pants-shitting waves of terror. Literally thousands of eyes and ears looking for me, can’t fight when they do get close to me.”

So Nicholas’s power is a lot like Cherish’s, but way more specific, sacrificing versatility for strength. It also sounds a bit similar to a supercharged but targeted version of Glory Girl’s power.

It might also involve a bit of target-specific illusionry, twisting the mind into “seeing” horrifying images.


“Right,” he said.

“Anyways, it got old real fast, them constantly finding me, constantly making me pack up and run somewhere else. Besides, the freedom to do what I wanted and go where I wished kind of lost its appeal when the boredom set in.

Ah, yes. People generally prefer pain over boredom.

I would’ve done it even if my big brothers weren’t coming for me, but I joined the Nine.”

Again, I love how she just casually drops this bomb on people. :p

Let’s see what Alec has to say about it.

She looked at the multitude of small changes that crossed Alec’s expression and smiled.

I wanna see them too! Damn non-visual medium…

“Well,” Alec said, after processing her statement, “That was dumb.”

Hah! Nice.


“It’s exciting. I decided I needed to earn a place on the team, both to scare our brothers away and to add some spice to my routine. Took out Hatchet Face to do it.”

Ahh, so she’s what happened to him.

I feel like that says more about her than it would if this came before Hookwolf’s Interlude. Now we know that Hatchet Face was apparently the “bogeyman of capes”, whatever that means in practice, which seems to suggest it wouldn’t be easy to take him out through most means. But that’s the key, isn’t it? Cherish’s power means she doesn’t have to do that. She can just make them take themselves out.

But what was different between whatever she did to Hatchet Face and what she did to the guards? It’s been stated by Burnscar that Hatchet Face is “still around… kind of”, and I doubt she’d say that about a conventional corpse. Did she cut off all his emotions and bonds, perhaps, leaving him a husk of his former self? Or maybe something about his power means that he can’t die, no matter how beaten up and unusable his body becomes?

Hmm. I suppose it was implied earlier in this chapter that Hatchet Face did pick a recruit, even after whatever Cherish did, so he can’t be completely blank. Unless he just got them by process of elimination.


“I got the info on him a day or so ago, after I heard the Slaughterhouse Nine were in town. Isn’t he immune to powers?

Oh! Well, that puts a stick through that theory’s wheel.

I guess she must’ve gone for something more indirect. Siccing the other Slaughterhouse members on him would be one possibility, probably, with powers like Shatterbird’s glass control not technically affecting him directly. Is he immune to mundane damage too? I’ve speculated that he’s a Brute before, so maybe he’s just really tough on top of this.

That’s pretty much what he does. Super strong, enhanced toughness, big… and your powers just stop working when he gets close. Or they go haywire.”

Oh, that is very interesting. He’s not just immune to anything that affects him directly, he can create an anti-power field. Can he make it affect only his enemies? Also, what sort of range does it have?

I particularly like the haywire part. Haywire powers or magic can be fun.

“He is immune to powers, but he didn’t get close. See, difference between me and Daddy is that I have range. I can use my power even if I can’t see the person I’m using it on. Through walls, from the building next door. Hatchet didn’t get close enough to me to turn off my power.

Well, that answers my range question: Not long enough.

Also, if Hatchet Face can pick and choose whose powers to turn off (not clear yet), and has to do so actively, can he also detect whenever there’s anyone within range with powers he can turn off?

He tried, but it works both ways. I was prepped to run any time my power stopped working, because it told me he’d found my trail or guessed where I was.”

Seems like a good tactic.


“Ah. I sort of remember that bit about your power. The part that sticks in my head is that you don’t have long-term benefits. It wears off, and your targets build immunity pretty quickly.”

Sometimes I get momentarily confused because I split the paragraphs into chunks to comment on, so things aren’t always in response to the last thing I quoted. The main thing Alec is responding to here is the comment about her power having range.

Also, that’s an interesting tidbit. I guess that’s why she didn’t even try to mess with Alec’s emotions, to what extent he has them anymore.

Cherie shrugged.

“I’m not the best when it comes to strategy, but I’m thinking… I’m going to win here. Eventually. You can’t run without me getting control over my people and sending them after you, you can’t use them to attack me, and if you stay, I can try doing this.”

So the tug of war is actual hostility on some level. At least now that Alec knows who Cherish is with.

Her arm jerked involuntarily.

“Remember me practicing my power on you when it was new?”

Oh yeah, that’s still part of his powerset.

Wait.

Is he implying what I think he’s implying?

It’s been a while, but if he’s taken control of her before, then it’s easier to do again now…

“I remember, little brother,” she frowned, looking at her arm. “Daddy had us all practice on each other.”

That’s a little less awful than it could’ve been with some different powers, I guess. Can’t imagine being a practice subject for Nicholas was any fun, though.


“Well, I still remember how to hijack your body, pretty much. Info that’s stored away in whatever corner of my brain makes my power work. I’m thinking I could get control over you pretty fast if I tried.”

Nice subtle namedrop of your past self there, Alec.

“Fuck,” she said. “I think we’d both be happier if you didn’t.”

“Oh? You going to tell me the Nine will come after me if I don’t let you go?”

Probably not Shatterbird. Maybe Jack? But in general, I doubt the Nine are the most fiercely loyal bunch.

She shook her head, then used one hand to brush the hair away from her face. “No. This.”

She reached inside her jacket, and Alec made her hand seize up, the fingers striving to bend the opposite way.

Hm. At first glance, this sounds like a way to just mess up her pulling out whatever it is, on the assumption that it is a gun or something, but more subtly, this particular maneuver might still let her grab it but keeps her fingers away from any triggers switches.

“It’s cool,” she said. She winced with pain, then used her splayed hand to work a metal case the length of her forearm out into plain view. It dangled from a thick cord that stretched around her neck. “See this?”

There was a mention earlier of something hanging around her next. So what the hell is this all about? Some sort of life support that might not mesh well with body control?

“Yep.”

“Yes, I have eyes. Eight of them, actually.”

(#alec and armmaster are competing about the vriska parallels

#armmaster’s winning but alec clearly isn’t going down without a fight)


“It’s a bomb. Very simple. A block of explosives rigged to a timer. Any time I call the right number, the timer will reset.

Ahhh.

And she said she had 15 minutes when she last called the number.

Better not run out of battery, Cherish… which you were, last we checked your phone.

I did make the mistake of letting my phone battery die, but I figure I’ve still got a couple of minutes. If you keep me here for any longer than that, I go kablooie.”

Yeeeah, that’s a problem. So after she’s done here, she’s got a very short time limit to charge her phone, or find another phone, so that she can avoid going kablooie anyway. That, or to get rid of the bomb, and I suspect that’s easier said than done considering it appears to be primarily intended as a safeguard against body control.

“Is that a threat? Sounds like a win for me.”

That depends on the size of the explosion, does it not?

“You’ll probably get blown up as well. Or maimed,” she smiled.

“I could walk away.”

True. He’d have time.

…again, depending on the size of the explosion.

“And lose control over your minions as you get further away? Please do. I can make the call when you’re gone.”

Don’t forget you need an active phone to do that.

Man, imagine if she does forget that, accidentally kablooies herself, and both Bitch and Hookwolf end up on the team as a result.

That… would be silly, but not all that satisfying as a use of the first of Alec’s family to appear in person.


His emotions were so muted. Dim. How much of that was Jean-Paul or Alec’s personality, and how much was his natural immunity, built up over years of exposure to Daddy?

Hmm. Are you sure “natural immunity” is what that is? Have you heard the same sort of dimness from other people who’s been exposed to Heartbreaker’s power, and assumed that Heartbreaker’s power caused a form of immunity to yours?

She couldn’t get a sense of what he was feeling, which was disappointing.

Is he feeling much at all?

However faint his feelings were, she could sense the slightest change. A chime of attention. He didn’t look at any of the puppets that he was struggling to control, but she could sense his attention flicker to the woman. A thrum of confidence.

Oh? Did he successfully override the emotional control, even just a little?

They both dashed towards the woman at the same moment. In their hurry to get to her, they collided, falling to the ground as a trio.

Pfft!


The woman wasn’t in any shape to fight, but Alec did strike Cherie across the head, fairly ineffectually. She retaliated by kicking him, then grabbed his wrist as he tried to draw the weapon he had in his pocket.

It’s a brawl in the family!

So is Alec’s pocket weapon his taser?

It was a gold-painted stick topped with a crown. She couldn’t see why he wanted it, but he did and so she wasn’t about to let him have it for just that reason.

Yep. A bit smaller than I’ve been picturing it all along – the scepter I’ve been imagining would never fit fully in the pocket, and definitely not without prompting jokes about “is that a scepter in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” from Grue or Tattletale.

I guess this might not the main scepter. Maybe this is Sceptercraft: Pocket Edition.

He changed tactics, rolling over to drive one shoulder into Cherie. With his free hand he tried to reach for the gun holster worn by the woman. That had been what caught his attention, gave him that surge of confidence.

Ahhh. The great equalizer, potentially used to unlock a stalemate.

Cherie fought with him, pulling him away, and then got one leg under him to roll him away. She pinned him, holding his wrists to the floor.

Hm. She looks like she’s winning in this moment, but Alec still has the ability to mess with her grip or balance.

Also she’s gone back to calling herself Cherie. Fair enough!


“Got you, little brother. You still suck at fighting.”

Should’ve taken sparring with Grue a little more seriously, perhaps.

He stared up at her, panting for breath and looking half-bored at the same time. He used his power, and she let go of his left hand to strike him across the face. He stopped.

“Oh quit it, I won fair and square.”

She smiled, “Thought you should know that things got pretty shitty at home after you left. Daddy got really overprotective, angry. It sucked.

Ahh, got a bit of resentment for the consequences of Alec leaving, do we?

Sucked worse when we couldn’t find you.”

“Sorry,” he said, in what she judged as the least convincing tone he could manage.

Yeeah, he doesn’t care that much.

“My payback? I’ve nominated you for the Nine.”

That’s a weird payba– oh.

The trials.

Welp.


“Not interested.”

“Doesn’t matter. You get nominated, you’re tested no matter what you want… and a few of the Nine don’t want to have two Vasils on the same team. Shatterbird hates my guts, for some reason. Crawler doesn’t respect me. Jack thinks it would be boring. So what I’m thinking is that this test? The initiation? It’s going to be a little harder for you. They won’t be testing you to see if you’re mean enough, bloodthirsty enough, creative enough. They’re just going to try to kill you.”

Damn.

Also, this spells bad news for all the other seemingly “failed” nominations we’ve seen.

Only two people we’ve seen have actual interest in participating – one of them only because he’s being forced into it – but apparently they’ll all be attacked by the remaining Fellowship members nonetheless.

That includes Labyrinth, the daydreamer. Way to go, Burnscar, I thought you liked her. Possibly even romantically.

And now the Undersiders have the Slaughterhouse coming after two of their members, and one of them is somewhat willing. Yeeeeeeah. This could get pretty intense for them.

Oh, and they’ll be trying to test Noelle too. That probably means more attacks on Coil’s base to get access to her.

Arc 12 is gonna be a wild ride, I think.


“Fuck,” Alec said, his eyes widening.

“Have fun with that,” she smiled, standing. She had to leap back to avoid being stabbed with the gold-painted stick as she released his wrist. “Now we’re even.”

I… have questions about your definition of “even”.

“Fuck you. That’s not even at all! I leave home, so you arrange to have me killed by some of the scariest fuckers on this side of Earth?”

“Hey, Alec, what does the word ‘disproportionate’ mean?”

“Yep,” she smiled, smug. It was good to see she could provoke him, get a response out of him. Was that because she’d done it well, or had he gotten more emotional as of late?

I suppose getting back into the habit of keeping people to feel emotions through could have helped.

He ran his fingers through his hair. “Lunatic.”

She really does fit into the team quite well.


“What I find really interesting is that you’ve got some connections. A girlfriend, maybe? No. Nothing romantic. You have friends? A team?”

Fuck.

He stayed silent.

“Come after me, I go after them. You may be immune, but they aren’t.”

“Fine.”

I suppose as long as she keeps it as a bargaining chip, that’s better than her just going after them anyway just for the sake of a little more revenge.

“And remember, I can always tell Daddy where you are. He’s pissed you left. Pissed I left, but he’s too scared to come after me. Not with the Nine having my back.”

Ahh, yeah, that makes sense.

“They don’t have your back, Cherie.”

That is a good point. She just admitted that.

But Heartbreaker doesn’t know that, does he now?

Which could change…


She shrugged. “Close enough.”

“No. They’re going to kill you someday. Probably sooner than later, when you’re no longer useful and they want the thrill of the hunt again. You’ve probably seen what they can do. Fates worse than death. Just don’t ask for my help when you realize it’s happening.”

Yeeeah, that’s fair after what she’s just done to him.

“Whatever.”

“You just screwed me over, Cherie. Don’t know why you did it, but I think you did a pretty fucking good job of it. You trying to be like Jack? Trying to act like them, pretend you have a place there? Rest assured, you screwed yourself ten times as bad as you screwed me.”

How? But yes, she did do a really good job of it.

She scoffed at that.

“You’re way out of your depth. As good as you think you are, they’re better.”

He’s probably right.

She smiled and shook her head, “We’ll see. I’m gonna leave now. You’re going to let me. Cool?”

There’s not much else either of them can do at this point, really.


He sighed. “Can’t really stop you or you’ll fuck with my team, right?”

“Right. But first…” She bent down and searched the woman who was sweating, panting, and twitching with the combination of Cherie’s emotional assault and Alec’s physical control. She found the gun, and then found a cell phone. She dialed the number to reset the timer on the bomb she wore.

Lucky Alec let her keep her phone, right?

Especially considering having a phone in your pocket is actively dangerous right now.

She felt a touch relieved as the call went through. That could have been a pretty lethal mistake on her part. She’d have to break her rule and buy a cell phone charger.

Yeah, seriously. And quickly, considering how frequently you apparently have to do this.

“Bye, baby brother.”

“Go die horribly, sis.”

What a pleasant sibling relationship. 🙂


She smirked and turned to leave, putting a touch of extra sway into her walk as she made her way out the door.

She had this. A few weeks, one or two months at the most, she could be one of the most dangerous people in the world, barring the obvious exceptions like the Endbringers.

That’s a bold claim.

Also the personhood of the Endbringers is questionable. It would be even if it wasn’t revealed that Leviathan was (probably) never human.

What Alec didn’t know was that her power did have long-term effects.

…oh, really? Intriguing. What sort of seeds are you planting?

Subtle, but they were there. Emotions were like drugs. People formed dependencies and tendencies. If she hit someone with a minute amount of dopamine every time they saw her, it would condition them until she didn’t even need to use her power to do it.

Ahhhh. That explains the name: Cherish, because her victims Cherish her.

Just a little while longer, she told herself, and I’ll have the Nine wrapped around my little finger.

I see. You’ll take over Jack’s role as de facto leader of the group and they’ll do whatever you want rather than spreading destruction and violence aimlessly.

One of the scariest things you could give the Slaughterhouse Nine is a goal-oriented brain at the head of the operation.


End of Interlude 2.933 monme

What a wonderful family reunion!

Cherie, or Cherish, is a really fun character. A girl who is quite relatable when it comes to music, entertaining through her cheerful bluntness and super disproportionate revenge plots, and scary through her mix of cunning, ambition, mild crazedness and not least of all her power. Getting to know her and her relationship to Alec was quite entertaining. 🙂

In the process, we also got an update on Alec: He’s been provided with soldiers and has people he keeps under his control, like he used to in his past. That’s… morally questionable, but it’s not like we didn’t know that about him already.

And we got some pretty important further details on the nomination process:

  • Cherish is the reason the Slaughterhouse Nine knew about some of the nominees in the first place.
  • Everyone knew in advance who everyone would go for, regardless of how their attempts went. So no second chances.
  • Even if they didn’t successfully convince their nominees to join, the nominees will still be tested.
  • Burnscar, what the hell.

At this rate, Arc 12 will be quite intense. It seems likely to me that Arc 12 as a whole will be about the testing process, which ought to be interesting considering the Undersiders have two members being tested and one of them is at best on the fence about it.

So yeah, I enjoyed that quite a bit! Hopefully the next one will be just as good, as we either watch Bonesaw making contact with the scaredy cat or the crusader, or loop back to Interlude 11a [above]. Prrrrobably the former 😛

See you then!

(#chapter i2.933monme #i2.933monmep3)

4 thoughts on “Interlude 11g: Brawl in the Family

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