Prey 14.3: Arthropod Modification Radio

Source material: Worm, Prey 14.3

Originally blogged: August 9-10, 2018


Howdy! Krixwell here, ready for some more bloggage!

So, how are we doing this… *turns page*

Prey 14.3. Alright, no Interlude, which means we’re probably starting off with the group we’ve been following arriving at the scene of the other group’s battle a little later than Siberian.

Before I go on to speculate further on how this will go, I do feel the need to note that I find this following reaction, to me mentioning that the low amount of asks increased the chance of me having a chapter session today, vaguely suspicious:

[Discord]

Sharks:
😮
I should post you to the Reddit again.

Krixwell:
👀
Sure, sounds like a good plan

I might be reading too much into things, but it makes me feel like there’s something in this chapter that you guys have been waiting for me to reach. Color me intrigued.

Anyway, Siberian’s going to make a mess of things, as it seems the Undertravelers didn’t plan for this. I’m sure they had cooked up something decent (though it’s at short notice and they’re only half the team) for dealing with the four others, but Siberian throws a white-and-black-striped spanner in those works.

Which means the Undertravelers need to regroup and recover from the damage she’s doing, while also keeping Amy safe. Maybe the group we’ve been following could send Amy with a couple of their number and one of the dogs, back to Grue’s base? After she heals Taylor’s leg, of course.

Also, let’s not give the other members of the Nine too little credit. They’re all still significant threats too, though I doubt we’re getting stuck in Bonesaw’s grasp again. If the focus shifts to anyone other than Siberian in this Arc, it’s probably Crawler.

So yeah. Without further ado, let’s get into this brawl!

Actually, one last thing: I suppose it is possible that this chapter will focus on the immediate dealing with Amy and such before we go over to the others (or on the way there), but I’m still sure that at some point, assuming they do go there, we’ll see them arrive late to the mess Siberian is making.

Okay, now we can begin!


By the way, 14.3 is almost as much a Homestucky number as 13.4 was.


Oh hey, this chapter was released on 9/11. Surely that bodes well for our protagonists.

(#I’m kidding #i don’t actually think that has any relevance
#it probably just happened to be one of the update days)


“They’re not answering,” Tattletale reported, as she lowered the phone from her ear.  “They’re already engaged.”

Well fuck.

Also, looks like we’re going the route I described at the end of the intro post.

“You fucking idiot.  I swear,” Trickster stabbed one finger in her direction, “If Ballistic dies because you fucking gave it away-”

I was about to question him mentioning specifically Ballistic, but then I remembered that Genesis isn’t actually in danger.

Also it sounds like Tattle’s stunt was not part of the plan. This is a thing I’ve pointed out as a recurring flaw of hers before – her stunts keep putting others in danger without her meaning to.

I could see Tattletale’s eyes narrow, “My power told me there was a damn good chance she’d just run for it.  Eighty, ninety percent.”

It seems to have missed the chance that she’d use the faster tactic.

Maybe it’s Bonesaw. Maybe Lisa hasn’t noticed the relationship between the two of them (though she’s seen them together, which might be enough), and that’s what threw her power off the trail regarding just how motivated Siberian would be to get back to the others?

“Well, your power was wrong, wasn’t it?” Trickster retorted.

Tattletale ignored him, looking at me, “Anything?  Can you find him?”

No such luck yet, I’d imagine.

I shook my head.  “No.  I think he might be in a vehicle, so he can keep up with Siberian.  I realized it late, I haven’t been looking for one this whole time, but I’m sweeping the area now.”

Right, that.

“Shouldn’t we go?” Sundancer asked.  “We can go help Ballistic and your team.”

Yeah, what are you all standing around here for? Thank you, Sunny, you’re really the Travelers’ voice of reason.

“Would love to,” Grue said, “But Bitch warned us about using her dogs past the fifteen minute mark.

What?

Why?

It’s wearing off, they’re getting smaller and weaker, and if it gets to the point that they’re not comfortable carrying the load, they may lash out.”

Ohh, because she’s not there to keep it going. Fair enough, that makes sense.


“How many minutes has it been?”  Trickster asked, glancing at Bentley.

“Long enough I wouldn’t risk it,” Grue said.

Well. Guess we’re leaving the others to deal with Siberian and the remaining Nine on their own while we deal with getting Amy somewhere safe.

And with having her heal Taylor’s leg. There’s no way that’s not going to come back to bite Taylor in the, well, leg, if they don’t fix it.

I looked at Sirius.  I hadn’t noticed while we’d been riding him, but he was smaller.  His exterior tissues were fitting looser, in the same way skin tended to hang loose on someone who had been morbidly obese and recently lost weight.

Makes sense, given the whole thing about the hellhounds shedding flesh and such.

And just to his left, I could see Amy backing away, holding her hand.

Backing away from Sirius, or from all of them?

One of those things is completely fair.


“Amy,” I spoke.

She startled as if I’d slapped her.  Everyone’s eyes turned to her.

“Oh right, we saved someone.”

“You okay?”  I asked.

“No, I’m not okay.”  Her head trembled a little as she turned to glance at the others.

Very, very understandable.

First she was living in a shelter, then she got assaulted by Mannequin last time she talked to these people, then Burnscar probably approached her if she had time to before her death, then she got chased by fucking Siberian for who knows how long, then that frantic nightmare turned dark and buggy and even more frantic, and now she has to deal with having been saved by villains and the way that ties in with her hangups about her own hero/villain status.

Yeeah, she’s not having a good time.

She returned her attention to me.  “She bit off my fingers.”

And yeah, that’s no fun either.

Grue, your turn, whether you like it or not.

“I’m sorry,” I said.  I raised my hands to show her I wasn’t armed.  “We tried to get to you as fast as we could.”

i came as fast as i could

i’m serious, i’m a serious actor, voice actor, v.a.

indubitably, i will embiggen my words less so you can understand what the fuck i’m saying–

(#the baby is you
#yes this was made by the same man who gave us undertale)


“My fingers,” she moaned, as she looked at her hand.  “I ran as fast as I could, but it wasn’t fast enough.  She kept catching me.”

Hey, at least you’re lucky she was playing with her food.

“I know.  There was nothing you could have done,” I said.

“It’s not right,” Amy shook her head.  She was still backing away. “This isn’t the way things should be.  Superpowers and Endbringers and things like Siberian… it’s so fucked up.  We- there should be a way to fight back, but there isn’t, so much of the time.”

Hey, you know how I’ve talked about Amy and Taylor being similar in some ways?

This brings me back to 8.8, even though that was more specifically about the hero/villain distinction being a bit grayer than it should be.

“There is,” I said.  “It’s hard to find, but there’s always a way.”

This might be the most optimistic line we’ve ever heard from Taylor’s mouth.

But it’s not out of character in the slightest, because this is exactly what she’s been trying to do. She has practiced what she’s preaching, against overwhelming odds.

Taylor fights for hope.


Tattletale turned her head, “Hey, Amy, listen.  Can I ask you a quest-”

Not now, Lisa.

Also, maybe not you. You’re the one here Amy likes the very least.

“Don’t,” Amy snapped, shifting gears from self-pity to fury in a heartbeat.  “Don’t talk to me.  Don’t even look at me, you bitch.”

Yeah, this is not a surprising reaction.

“This is important.”

“What part of what I just said did you not understand!?”

“You’d think we didn’t just save your life,” Trickster said, folding his arms.

I mean, true. I’d be pointing that out myself if she were snapping like this at anyone other than Tattletale.

“You did it to delay Siberian.  Or so she said,” Amy replied, glancing at Tattletale.

I mean, that was one of the reasons. Another one of them was “save Amy”.


“It was one of the reasons,” Tattletale started, “Skitter-”

“Shut up!”  The words were a screech as they came out of Amy’s mouth.

Seriously, Lisa, I think you’re better off just listening to her. Maybe you can ask Taylor to ask Amy whatever it was, when Amy isn’t paying attention to the two of you.

Tattletale turned a hundred and eighty degrees, so her back was to Amy, and looked in the direction of Grue and I.  “I’m done.  No point, fuck it.  I’m going to try calling the others again while you handle this.”

I like this trait of Lisa’s, the consistent indignation when people refuse to listen to her.

There were a few long seconds of tension as we all stood there, Tattletale a short distance away, phone to her ear.

I decided to break the silence.  “How are your fingers?  You’re using your power to keep the bleeding down?”

She ca– oh, right, the microbe thing.

Amy glanced at her hand, and a dark look crossed her face.  “Yeah.”

Didn’t want them to figure that out, did you?

“I’ve got bandages, if you want them.  Only the most basic first aid supplies, but maybe they’ll help?”

“Okay.”

Thank you, Amy, for not refusing the help. You’re not in a position to be doing that kind of thing right now, and they did save your life at their own risk, regardless of why they did it.


I got the small kit from my utility compartment and approached her.  She kept still while I got out the disinfectant, bandages and tape and covered the fingers Siberian had shortened by one segment.

“How can you even be teammates with her?”  Amy asked me.  “Are you friends?”

I would go so far as to say best friends.

It might have something to do with not having been on her bad side before.

“We are.”

“Everything that happened to me, it’s like it all snowballed out from the moment you assholes robbed the bank.”

What? How?

There were absolutely things that snowballed from that (including Taylor being outed as a mole in the Undersiders, in part because of Amy), but I see no connection between that – or anything else the Undersiders did – and everything later that negatively affected Amy. At least no connection that Amy should know about.

Is it the whole villainous father deal? As far as I remember, she already knew about the “villainous” part, though, just not which villain.

Me too.  I’d met and ultimately joined the Undersiders because of Tattletale, and everything had followed from that.

That’s true, though. She may not have been on Tattletale’s bad side, but she has been manipulated by her in ways that are fundamental to her story.


“She didn’t plan that.  It might have started that way, but she wasn’t the cause of everything that followed,” I said.  I wondered if I was trying to convince myself.

Exactly.

There’s a pretty sizable disconnect.

Amy glared down at the ground.  A quick glance showed that Grue, Trickster and Sundancer were all trying to avoid engaging in this conversation.

Hah!

I like that that’s being addressed, honestly. The reader isn’t left to think “why are only the two of them talking”, and the answer honestly makes for a funny mental image of the boys and Sunny awkwardly looking everywhere but at the two of them, striking the most clearly uninvolved poses they can manage.


She spoke at a low enough volume that I doubted the words were reaching the others.  “I’ve had nightmares about her.  Not saying I take back how I shouted at her, but she brought up shit, and the fact that Victoria heard it, I couldn’t shake it.

Yeah, some of the stuff she threatened to reveal has turned out quite… housebreaking.

It affected the way I thought, the way I acted.  Victoria knew something was up, she respected my privacy, but she had suspicions.  If Tattletale hadn’t said anything, I could have dealt with Bonesaw coming to my house and fucking with me, getting me to break my code.  Or Bonesaw might not have come at all.  I don’t know.  Victoria would have listened to me, maybe.  Given me the benefit of the doubt.”

I don’t think that last thing would’ve happened. Victoria is a fairly rash person, and nothing about her behavior suggests to me that she would’ve reacted better if she hadn’t heard what Lisa said and seen Amy act differently because of it. If anything, I think she’d react worse, being totally unprepared for it.

“We didn’t expect you to be at the bank.  We were cornered, Tattletale used the power she was given to get us out of that spot.  I’m sorry it happened.”

I appreciate the honesty on both sides here. These two are connecting.

I actually don’t think Amy would admit what she just said to anyone except Taylor (and maybe Victoria, after a hypothetical reconciliation) at this point.


“She was the catalyst in my whole life falling apart.  Tattletale was.”

“Maybe.”

“And you can be friends with her, and you still think of yourself as a good person?”

Even if we accept the premise that Lisa is a bad person (though I don’t consider her any more responsible for most of Amy’s troubles than Taylor is for the Nine showing up, which there is room to make a very stretchy argument for her being)… does staying friends with a bad person make you a bad person?

I honestly don’t know. For someone who took philosophy classes for two years, I’m really not good at actually diving into these questions. Maybe it does if you stay friends with them because of the bad parts?

I do have access to a Discord channel about philosophy, though. I think I’ll ask the question – separated from its Worm context – there, and if I get any interesting replies there I’ll be sure to let you know later.


“I… don’t know that I do think of myself that way.  I’ve probably done more damage than good, by trying to help others.”  Dinah, the people in my territory, now Brian. 

I considered bringing up the idea that Taylor might not think of herself that way in the last post, but the philosophy took precedence.

But speaking of philosophy, this is one of the major recurring differences between me and Taylor. She operates on a philosophy of consequence, while I operate on a philosophy of intent, and as a result we frequently disagree on what she’s to blame for.

Also this totally counts as her blaming herself for what happened to Brian. I knew we’d get there eventually! 😛

“But your intentions were good, then?  You were trying to help?”

Oh fuck, is Amy going to be the mouthpiece for my take on these things?

I think Amy had already cemented herself subtly as my favorite “hero” (in the sense of hero vs villain rather than protagonist vs antagonist), and this certainly doesn’t hurt on that front.

This is something Taylor has needed to be told for quite a while. It’s about time the things I’ve been telling her found an Amy-shaped hole to seep in through.

I do wonder what Wildbow’s stance is. The story is unofficially subtitled as “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, isn’t it, but while that fits Taylor’s story, how much does that reflect what Wildbow is trying to communicate? I sometimes see Taylor as a cautionary tale, but is her story cautioning against philosophies of intent as much as it’s cautioning against the psychological results of focusing too much on a philosophy of consequence?

In other words, would Wildbow side with Taylor or with some of the various characters who oppose her philosophy?


“Yeah.”

“Then tell me what to do.”  She didn’t meet my eyes.  “I don’t know anymore.  I’ve spent so long helping others, and I’m so scared, I feel numb.  My brain isn’t working.  Can’t think straight.  I-  I just don’t know anymore.  I’m not making any promises, I won’t fight, won’t face the Nine, don’t want to talk to Tattletale, but…” she trailed off, unable to finish her thought.

I’ve been having the thought “what if Amy became an Undersider” churning in the back of my head for some time now. I’ve fucked up in not mentioning it before now, but that’s beside the point. The point is that this is pretty damn close to that coming true, especially if it becomes a long-term thing.

And I’m so here for it.

I swallowed.  I couldn’t even manage with myself, and now she wanted me to guide her?

Heh.

Relatable, honestly.

“Okay,” I said.  My mind was going a mile a minute.  She was one of the most powerful parahumans native to Brockton Bay.  How was I supposed to use her?

First of all, fix your leg. You seem to be walking around fine for now, but I can’t imagine it didn’t take some damage that could come back to haunt you soon enough, when you have to run from some threat.

But seriously, it’s going to be incredibly good to have a healer around.

One idea crossed my mind, and I hated myself for thinking it, for the stark fear I felt at the thought.  “Okay.  I won’t ask you to face the Nine.  But you can give us the ability to go after them, to fight them.

Are you talking about something like what Bonesaw’s done to the squishies among the Nine, having the girl with biological mastery give you protections?

There’s this part of the brain that Bonesaw called the… Corona something.  Corona potential?  Can you access mine?

Ah shit, she’s asking Amy to mess with her brain. That won’t go over well considering how that ended last time.

Tweak my power, give me more range?  As much as you can.”

Seriously, though, this is a pretty awesome idea.


The mental image of Bonesaw cutting through my skull with her saw was so real I could almost feel the sensation of it.

Honestly it’s a wonder you’re willing to actually ask this of Amy so soon after that experience.

But we had to stop Siberian.

“I can’t affect brains.”

Oh yeah, that old lie! I forgot she used to say that.

Is Tattletale listening, trying to refrain from cutting in with a “that’s a lie”?

“You can’t-”  I sighed.  We all had our limitations and barriers.  I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed.  I didn’t argue the point.  “Fuck.  Okay.  The dogs.  Can you charge them up?  Figure out how Bitch’s power is affecting them, and either make them big again or keep them from getting any smaller?”

Ooh, another clever idea. Taylor is full of them.

She glanced at Sirius.  I’d gotten so used to them I’d nearly forgotten just how horrifying they were to look at.

Hehe.

“I’d have to touch them.”

“Yeah.  They’re not as bad as they look.  They’re regular dogs, it’s only appearances and size.”

“Regular dogs still bite people.”

Under given circumstances. I will admit it’s more likely to happen to you than anyone else here, though, since you’re a stranger trying to mess with their biology.

“Yeah.”

“I don’t want to lose more fingers.”

Ahaha


“I know.  You don’t have to.  Let me think.  We can come up with another way for you to contribute.”

“Can you grow us wings?” Trickster asked, in a wry tone.

You know, I’m not sure I’d put it past her. Probably not ones big enough to actually fly with, though.

“I can’t generate flesh from nothing, and it’s slow to convert something into a part your body won’t reject.”

That seems like a fair limitation.

“Of course,” Trickster said, with a note of sarcasm.

Is Trickster not liking Amy or something? Maybe he’s a little peeved at her not being willing to do the thing with the dogs, which would’ve let them move over to where Siberian and co. are and help Ballistic.

Not helping, I thought.  Amy was willing to do something.  It was useful.  We didn’t need to discourage that.

Very true.

Before I could finish my thought, I saw Amy walk up to Sirius and offer him one hand to sniff.

Ooh!

She flinched as he moved his head, pulling her arm away.

She’s understandably nervous, but she’s trying.

I joined her side, and put one hand on the side of Sirius’ neck, digging my fingertips into a meaty cord of muscle.  I scratched with enough force that I might have left tracks in normal skin.  “Hey, boy.  You’re a good dog, aren’t you?  Yes you are.”

This is adorable.


His bone-crusted tail lashed behind him in something approximating a wag.

D’aw!

Amy put out her hand again, and Sirius sniffed it.  Gingerly, she laid her hand on the length of his snout, running her fingers over calcified muscle, bone spurs and braided lengths of muscle and other tissue.

Because of Sirius’ size, this ends up somewhat reminiscent of meeting a horse instead.

Or a hippogriff. They skipped the bowing, though, which is bad news for Malfoy.

“The hell?” she muttered.  “Can’t wrap my head around this.”

Weird, isn’t it? You’ve got the actual dog inside, except the big outer hellhound is also the actual dog, sort of, grown and turned inside out aesthetically…

“You can’t make him bigger?”

“No, I don’t think I can.  Can’t make something from nothing.  But I think I can stall the shrinking.  Whatever I do might get undone the second he’s back in range of Hell- of Bitch.  It’s hard to describe.

Huh, neat.

I can see the aftermath of what she does, but not the process.  It’s like the tissue grows, then it dies as it gets pushed out of the core, but some of it stays functional… there’s a normal dog inside there?  Intact?”

Yeah, that part is super weird, given the gradual growth and, even more so, the shrinking.

“Yeah.”

“Okay.  Think I’ve got it.  He’s not going to shrink anytime soon.”

Excellent. Thank you!


I signaled Tattletale to return.  “Thank you.”

She walked over to Bentley, giving Trickster a wary look as she walked by him.  I joined her, in part to give Bentley the reassurance that this angry stranger wasn’t so dangerous.

You are taking Amy somewhere safe, right?

“There,” Amy said.  “You’re going to save your friends?”

“And if we can, we’re going to put down the Nine.  We figured out Siberian’s weakness.”

Which is a pretty big thing to say in this world that’s been terrorized by them for what, twenty years? Honestly, you should probably tell someone about that, so the world may continue to know if you all die.

Her eyes widened slightly at that.  “What?”

“What did you think we meant when we were talking about her other self?”

“A secret identity?  I- I wasn’t really paying attention.”

That’s fair.

Tattletale climbed up onto Bentley’s back, studiously ignoring Amy.

“Kind of a secret identity.  She’s a projection,” I said.  “Like Crusader has with his duplicates.  Best case scenario, we can find her real body and put her down.”

“Just like that?  You’ll kill her?”

In this case, I think it’s justified.

“Ideal world,” I said.  Grue had climbed up onto Sirius’s back, and he offered me a hand up.  “Won’t know if we’re capable until it happens, but I’d like to think we have the courage.”

“But you’re risking your lives.”

Yep. And that’s what makes them heroes, despite their title.

Well, Taylor at least. It’s partially self-defense for all of them.

“Yeah.”  I got settled and wrapped my arms around Grue’s body.  He didn’t react or protest.  My head just inches from his back, I turned to look down at Amy, “See, it helps that we’re pissed.”

Hah!

“I’m pissed too,” Amy said.

I offered my hand to her, in case she wanted to climb up behind me and join us, but she stepped away.

“Join the club.”

“Ehh, I don’t want to go that far just yet.”


“But you’re more scared than pissed,” I said.  She looked away.

“We should get going,” Trickster said, as Sundancer got in position behind him.  We were all seated and ready to head to the rescue.

Yeah, let’s go.

Not before a couple more lines between Taylor and Amy, though.

“One second,” I told him.  “Amy.  Listen.  It’s okay.  I’ve thought of another way you can help, and it doesn’t put you in any danger.”

Oh?

“What is it?”  She still didn’t meet my eyes.

“You’re going to cut loose with your power.  I can feed you the raw materials, you do what you can.  You know how my power works?”

Oh fuck. Amy-enhanced bugs.

“Pretty much.”

“Send the bugs my way when you’re done with them, then.”

fuck yes

“You’re a villain, you know.  You’re asking me to betray the family I grew up with if I’m helping you.”

Eh. She’s only a villain in name.

Though the others are a different story, perhaps.

I stared at her.  We were so similar in such different ways, but I couldn’t even begin to comprehend her train of thought.

Why were the people who clung so fiercely to the notions of right and wrong the very same individuals that had the worst grasp of what they meant?

Talking from experience, miss Black-and-White-morality-early-on?

Maybe I wasn’t one to talk.

You certainly weren’t, in the early days.

“I don’t think you’re one to talk about betraying family,” Tattletale spoke.

Lisa, shush. Don’t ruin this.

I could see all the color drain out of Amy’s face.

“Hey, Tattle,” I started.

“No.  Sorry, Skitter, but it’s my turn to talk now.  We’re short on time, and we really should leave now, but if we leave it like this, you’re going to be distracted.”

fine.

I shut my mouth.

“Amy?  I know what you did.”

Of course you do. You don’t need to say it like this, though.


“Don’t you dare-” Amy started.

“You fucked up.  You crossed one of the lines that’s reserved for the real monsters.  You know it, I know it.”

Amy’s face crumpled.  I didn’t have a better way of describing it, the way her expression twisted, going from plain to almost inhuman from emotion alone.

And that’s the way the Amy crumples!

I almost spoke up.  I wasn’t sure why I didn’t.

You probably should, unless Lisa is going somewhere constructive with this and is just expressing it in the worst way possible.

“You think you’re the lowest of the low, that you’re scum.  You despise yourself.”

Now deny that, Lisa. Please.

Amy couldn’t even mount a response.

“You’re wrong.  You’re not there.  Not yet.”

Thank you.

Amy looked up at Tattletale, wide-eyed.  The look was utterly defenseless.  I was put in mind, for just an instant, of just who Tattletale could have been.  I had a mental image of her as a cult leader, tearing people down with an almost surgical precision, then molding them into who she wanted them to be when they were emotionally and mentally unable to mount a defense.

Fuck, she would’ve been perfect for that.

You know who else did that? Kaiser.


“Not yet?” Amy asked.

“Not yet.  You shouldn’t hate yourself for what you did in a moment of desperation.  Hate yourself for what you do after.  Hate yourself for your cowardice, your refusal to step up and help at this moment, right now, your refusal to participate in this world that you never even tried to understand.  That’s a conscious call you’re making, and you know it’s the wrong one.”

Perhaps it is, but I don’t think it’s one to hate herself over. It does tie in with the one part of Taylor’s philosophy that I’m certain Wildbow agrees with, though: the whole anti-bystanderism angle.

All of a sudden I want Amy to meet Charlotte.

Amy hugged her arms to her chest.  She shook her head a little, as if she was denying what Tattletale was saying.

“I won’t listen to her again! I won’t!”

Tattletale went on.  “You need to make the right calls, and you need to start now, because you’re approaching the point of no return.

No she isn’t.

You start making amends, you start doing your part, and you undo what you did, and you do it ASAP, because if you don’t, you’re going to hit the hard ground at the bottom of that slippery slope.”

But this is still good advice. Face her past, fix it rather than run away from it.

“But-”

Tattletale didn’t give Amy a chance to finish.  She kicked her heels and Bentley charged off.

Well, guess that’s the end of that, uh, conversation.


Grue moved to follow, and I turned to Amy, “If I send my bugs to you, will you-”

“I’ll-  I’ll come.”

Fuck yes.

Undersider Amy is so close. At the very least, we’ve got Undersider-affiliated Amy, which is really good.

I blinked.

She stuck her hand in my direction, and I caught it, helping her up to a seat behind me.  Sirius shook slightly, as if he could shake us off.  Were we too heavy?

Maybe it’s some natural reaction to having the girl with the power to change his biology on his back, a reaction to her power even while she’s not doing anything with it.

Apparently not.  He bolted after Bentley, and we were off, Amy clinging to me like her life depended on it.  I suspected that had little to do with the fact that we were riding on one of Bitch’s dogs.

Yeeah, Tattletale just talked her into joining them in a direct assault on the Slaughterhouse Nine. There’s probably a part of her mind screaming “WHY AM I DOING THIS”.


And as the Undertravelers head off, so do I. See you tomorrow for the next part of this chapter!

[End of session]


[Discord]

Krixxx:
Here’s a question for y’all to discuss: Does staying friends with a bad person make you a bad person?
(Please note that if this discussion gets interesting, I will be sharing screenshots on my liveblog.)
I’m thinking that it doesn’t by default, but if you’re staying friends with them because of the bad parts, it might.

lurkmaster:
Hhhh that’s a tough question
If the bad parts are what is attracting you, then you might not even see them as bad
In that case being friends with them is not what makes you a bad person
You’re doing that all on your own
Another question could be “am I doing the right thing by remaining friends with this person even though I know there are some bad things about them”
I’m currently in a friend group that has a giant fissure because one of them absolutely cannot handle any kind of confrontation without shutting down or flipping out, and this has cause several members to get really hurt by them because they cannot critically discuss their bad behavior
At least 2 of them were distressed enough by this person to leave our shared server, though I am still friends with all of them
In this case it’s not a matter of having evil ideology, but being monumentally shitty at interpersonal skills and shirking responsibility for the damage you cause because you’re socially inept
Kind of a shitty thing to do, but I don’t think it makes them or me a bad person. If it were about ideology I don’t think I could in good conscience remain friends with them, since my friendship basically says “I find this ideology tolerable enough to befriend the people who hold it, despite how that ideology leads them to treat others badly”
I think there’s a difference between “treating someone like shit because your social skills suck” and “treating someone like shit because you think they deserve it”
If you remain friends with someone who actively targets people because they want to cause suffering, you need to take a good hard look at your own morals and decide what kind of beliefs you find excusable

Krixxx:
Agreed. I just got done talking about how I follow a philosophy of intent in contrast with a character who follows a philosophy of consequence, and I think the difference between those very much apply to that last thing. Treating someone like shit because your social skills suck makes you unfortunate to be around, but unlike someone with a philosophy of consequence (who would say you’re bad because you being around results in people getting hurt), I wouldn’t say that makes someone bad.
And this:

If the bad parts are what is attracting you, then you might not even see them as bad
In that case being friends with them is not what makes you a bad person
You’re doing that all on your own

is a very good point. You wouldn’t be bad because you’re friends with them, you’d be friends with them because you’re bad.

Peridot:
it could also depend
if you were friends with them before the bad parts started making themselves known, you could also just be making excuses for them

Krixxx:
Does that make you bad, or just loyal to your friends?
Is loyalty a bad thing under such circumstances?

Peridot:
I wouldn’t call it bad, just misguided

Krixxx:
That’s fair.

lurkmaster:
Defending your friend because you’re loyal and defending them because you agree with their behavior can get muddled
For the people who are being hurt it really makes little difference, the outcome is the same: their tormenter gets protected from consequences
If your friendship is enabling someone to maliciously harm others while escaping responsibility for it, then I’d say that makes you kinda bad

Krixxx:
True. On a point like that, where you’re defending the friend to others rather than just to yourself, I’m willing to defer to a philosophy of consequence.

teddyB:
I’d say staying friends with a bad person is only bad if you enable them
Sometimes you’re friends with someone and you grow faster than them and realize behaviors you used to share are bad or destructive… I feel at that point, you can always try to help your friend grow out of those behaviors as well. and that takes time, and work, often
so I dont think you should kick your bad friends to the curb, but I think you absolutely shouldn’t enable them to continue the bad behavior
part of being a good friend in general is being able to tell someone you’re friends with “hey, uh, you’re kind of being a shithead” when they’re being bad
thats my take, at least

I did, in fact, get some interesting responses to this question [above]. 🙂


River Run Red by Rachel Rose Mitchell:

Amy “Panacea” Dallon’s theme.


[reblogging the above post]

Hey, remember how when I did Steven Universe portrayed with Worm characters [here], I assigned Lapis = Panacea?

Yeah, this song works almost as well for Lapis as it does for Amy.


[Session 2]

So, who’s ready to go see how the rest of the Undertravelers are holding up against the Nine? I am!


I could feel the sensation of Amy doing something to interfere with my powers.  It began to get worse, reaching a peak, and then getting worse.

Amy, what are you doing? You’re not betraying them already, are you?

Are you actually trying to do the corona thing Taylor asked you for in spite of your reluctance to do stuff with brains?

Just when it had reached the point where I was going to tear her hands from around me and let her fall off Sirius’s back, it began to clear up.

Alright, if that is what she’s doing, she seems to either have given up or succeeded.

I could feel the bugs, but they weren’t anything like what I’d seen in Brockton Bay.  Superficially like dragonflies, with fatter bodies.

Oh, alright, she was doing the other thing Taylor asked for. Fair enough! That makes more sense to introduce narratively, anyway. If they got Amy boosting Taylor’s power, they could have her boost all of their powers, and at some point it’s just too much too quickly. Especially this soon after Grue’s second trigger.

I couldn’t grasp every process in their body, making them feel strangely hollow and artificial.  What I could feel was a kind of echo in my power.  It made control harder.

Interesting. It seems like Amy’s manipulation makes them different enough that Taylor’s power barely considers them valid arthropods for control anymore.


She had to have a reason for doing what she was doing.  I tried directing them to move, and they took off.

I mean, on the surface, the reason is “you asked her to”, but I guess you mean a reason for the more specific changes?

No problem on that front.

I couldn’t ask what she’d done, because we were moving fast enough that the wind in our ears would drown out my voice, and the run was jarring enough that I worried I would bite my tongue if I tried talking.

Whatever she did I’m sure it’s going to give the dragonflies a couple new abilities that will come in handy soon.

The bit about how Taylor “couldn’t grasp every process in their body” reminds me of Genesis, and how she has to picture the body processes responsible for any given power her forms are supposed to have.

Instead, I experimented.  I tried operating their bodies, engaged in the usual practices for injecting venom, nothing.  They weren’t weaponized, I was almost sure.

Hmm. Then what?

I even placed some aphids on them to get a feel for their exteriors.

It was only when I moved them out to either side of me that it dawned on me what the echo was.  Experimenting, I sent them to the limits of my range to confirm my suspicions.

All I know about aphids (under that name, anyway) is they’re small, live on plants and are eaten by ladybugs. This is because I only know about them from Miraculous Ladybug fanfics where “tendencies” are involved (i.e. where Chat Noir and Ladybug act vaguely like a cat and a ladybug). And that’s if I’m not mixing them up with something else that has a similar name.

So does the echo…

Fuck, are they repeaters, capable of transmitting Taylor’s signal onward to bugs outside her direct range? Did Amy give the bugs Taylor’s power to be used at Taylor’s command? That would be an awesome way to help Taylor with the range thing without actually changing her corona.

Whatever signal my power sent to my bugs, these bugs were there to intercept it and transmit it to their immediate area.

Hell yes!

Each extended my range by three hundred or so feet around them.

Does it stack? Like, can you daisy chain them?

I love this. It’s a lot more interesting than a straight range upgrade, since now Taylor has to control where her range is extended, things can happen to the repeater bugs, and she probably doesn’t have the ability to sense the bugs that rely on the repeaters to receive their orders in the same way. Unless of course the repeaters also repeat the incoming signals back to Taylor.


Letting go of Grue with one hand, I patted Amy’s hand and then reached back to give her a thumbs up.  I set more dragonflies and other various bugs down on the backs of her hand.

I appreciate that Taylor is visibly validating Amy for her help here. Amy needs that.

In another minute, I had four more relay bugs.  I paired them up and sent them forward, so one relay could transmit to the next.

Relay works as a term for them too, sure.

(I called them repeaters because of radio repeaters. My dad has ham radio as a hobby, so that’s what came to mind when I realized what the echo was.)

Two extra city blocks of range.  I started gathering a swarm with the bugs in question.

Also, it seems they can indeed be daisy chained! That ought to come in handy.

Amy had balked at the idea of outfitting me with altered bugs.  Had she maybe settled on these, because she thought they wouldn’t give me as much offensive potential?

Perhaps. On top of that, they do still give you one of the things you requested, though in a way that a) doesn’t require her to mess with brains, b) isn’t quite as powerful, and c) isn’t permanent unless you make sure the relay bugs she made stick around or you keep Amy around to make them.


I had them in place for less than ten seconds before I found a moving vehicle.

Alright, so it looks like she does have two-way access to the relayed bugs. Sweet.

It was a truck with plastic sheeting over the windows, four-wheeled, with a compact rear.  A small moving truck?  It was moving faster than was safe, veering wildly as it to get through the water and over the damaged streets, and it was heading straight for central downtown.  Straight for the others.

Siberian is super motivated, clearly.

“Found him!”  I hollered, at the top of my lungs.  Tattletale looked over at me, and I signaled, extending my arm to the ten o’clock position.

Maybe we’ll actually be able to catch up before Siberian makes too much of a mess over there!

I felt strangely calm as I shifted my focus to the attack.

Let’s do this thing. Fuck ‘em up, Taylor.

If it came down to it, I’d have to kill the man.

What do you mean if it came down to it? Isn’t that your main objective?

My bugs clustered on the ‘windshield’ of flapping plastic, gathering in heavy numbers.  The faster moving dragonflies and hornets began to pelt the plastic, attempting to drive themselves through it.  Most died in the process.

Subtle.


He swerved sharply to try to throw the bugs off, but there wasn’t enough in the way of momentum or wind.  My other flying insects began to ferry larger black carpenter ants onto the windscreen, to use their sharp bites to penetrate the plastic sheeting.

Niice.

We were making holes, but the attempts of my swarm to worm their way through the holes and open them enough for the more dangerous bugs to get inside were stymied by the wind and the flapping of the plastic.

Not enough wind to throw them off, but enough to make things difficult.

Every movement, however small, threw off my ability to track where the existing holes were.

We had a bead on him, and the dogs were better suited for rough terrain than the moving vehicle.  It was only a minute before we caught up.

So. Can he control the Monochrome and the car at the same time?

As I’d guessed, a white moving van with a giant icon of a hand on the back with the words ‘Haul It!’

Hah, nice.

I might have found it amusing if the circumstances were slightly different.

Fortunately, for me the circumstances are quite different, so I’m free to be amused. 😛


He noticed us shortly after we noticed him.  Siberian flickered into existence on top of the vehicle, standing, her legs shifting to adjust her balance as it hit a crack in the pavement and rocked slightly to one side.

Signs point to yes.

Though we’ll have to see how well they drive under these conditions.

I heard Amy shriek as she saw Siberian.

Amy, internally: “TATTLETAAAAALE”

Tattletale veered left, hard, and Grue turned us right.  We each cut into side streets, running parallel with the truck.  Bentley was lagging slightly behind, but I caught a glimpse of the other group as we made our way past a major intersection.

So they’re pretty in sync for what they’re doing.

Two blocks away, slightly behind us.

I heard an explosion, and Amy clutched me tighter in reaction.

Woah, what just happened?

Did someone fuck up Siberian’s truck? But I think Taylor would sense that through the bugs first.

Glancing down, I could see her arms around my ribcage, the hand with the maimed fingers held slightly off and away so it wouldn’t get bumped or jostled.

Trickster was handling the opening salvo.  The objects he was swapping for grenades weren’t even close in size -signs and traffic cones- so the timing was horribly off.

Ohh, right.

Also, I’m sure a lot of the Taylor/Amy shippers like this scene.

Siberian didn’t move from her perch.

What’s wrong, Siberian? Not able to control both the Monochrome and the car at the same time, only pulling out the Monochrome in order to intimidate?

Grue steered Sirius into a sharp left, and the dog’s claws skidded for a grip on the flooded street before we turned.  We got one block and then turned right, putting us directly behind them.

So what’s the plan from here?


I could see Siberian tense, as if intending to jump, but another explosion from Trickster kept her in place.  She was protecting the truck, surrounding it with her forcefield.

Ohh. Right, that would explain why she’s staying there. She’s protecting her real body from both Skitter and Trickster.

I wasn’t sure how it was able to interact with the road, but a grenade going off under the front of the truck failed to achieve anything.

…hm.

There would be nothing to stop her from staying there until the truck reached
the other Nine.  It would out Siberian’s real nature to any of the Nine who didn’t know, and that wasn’t a total loss, but it also meant our teammates would be blindsided by her arrival.

But hey, Siberian would still need to protect the truck…

I felt something bump my hands.  Grue was holding the chains that led to Sirius’s muzzle.  He bumped my hands agan, and I took hold of them.

…are you planning on doing something awesome, Grue?

With his own hands free, leaning hard against me for support, he reached out and buried Siberian and the truck in a carpet of darkness.

Oh man, I really hope this is going where I think it’s going. Monochrome Brian’s anti-invulnerability strength versus Monochrome Siberian’s protection, who would win? Though it is worth noting he’d only have a fraction of their power.

…that is, if he can get the darkness to cover Siberian’s real body, at least. It might not work on the Monochrome.

Also worth noting: Driving in the darkness might be a bad idea, even if your car is invulnerable.

Following, we soon plunged into the wake.

The second we were out of sight, I shifted our position so we were running in the left hand lane, rather than the center of the road.  Didn’t want Siberian guessing our position and pouncing on us.

Makes sense.

I could sense the surroundings with my bugs, but my power was diminished.  I was aware of Grue, Amy and Bentley, of Tattletale, Trickster and Sundancer a short distance away, keeping pace.  I could see Siberian and the truck.

You can see them? Like, literally, not via the bugs?

I couldn’t detect any sign that Grue was projecting anything with Siberian’s power.  Whatever she was doing to the truck, it was protecting her from him.

Again, though, if they actually want to do anything to help the other Nine when they get there, they’ll have to either get the other Nine on board the truck, or leave it, in the latter case lifting the protection of their real body.

The upside was that the driver was blind.

I could tell because he drifted.  It was gradual at best, but he veered slightly to the left.  With no point of reference, he didn’t know he needed to correct.

Excellent.

A moment later, he smashed into the face of a tall building.  Siberian’s power meant the truck took no damage, and the driver corrected course, but soon enough, he began to veer again.

Actually, maybe this isn’t so much of an upside after all? Unless the impacts wind up knocking the Monochrome down, which would give Taylor a precious moment to get through the truck before Siberian resummoned the Monochrome on the truck and made sure she was steady this time.

This wasn’t getting us anywhere, and we were running the risk that he’d hit someone, crash into or through an inhabited area.

See “maybe this isn’t so much of an upside after all”.


Through my swarm, I could feel Tattletale waving.  Grue hadn’t swamped her in darkness, so there was nothing hampering her progress.  What did she want?

I just waved
to say “I love you” 🎵

I just waved
to say how much I care 🎶

More to the point, how the hell were we supposed to communicate?  I reached a block ahead of her and formed my bugs into a word.  ‘WHAT?’

“I can’t hear you, there’s too much noise!”

“WHAT?”

“I said I can’t hear you, there’s too much noise!”

“WHAT?”

She tapped her hand to her eye, then to the top of her head.

“I h(e)ad…”

“Mind’s eye”

“She has an eye on top of her head!”

Again, I formed my bugs into a word.  ‘WHAT?’

She tapped her head a few more times.

If it’s as simple as that Siberian forgot they had a roof window open… Nah, Taylor would’ve noticed that while sweeping the truck.

I was disappointed that a girl with superpowered intuition couldn’t come up with a better signal.  What did she want?  Eyes could mean see, head could be about thinking?  Her power?

Or your power. Who the fuck knows.

“Look at her head”?

She reached back over Trickster’s shoulder with one hand while holding the reins with the other.  My bugs had to settle on her finger to follow her gesture.  Pointing?  She was pointing behind him.  At Sundancer.

What about her?

I suppose they could trap Siberian inside the sun, but they’d just be forced to wait it out. Jumping off the truck to do anything about it would mean death.

Eyes, brain, Sundancer.

“I have a bright idea!”

“Let’s blind them even more and cook their brain!”

Honestly I have no idea what she’s trying to say so I’m just throwing out joke answers at this point.

She wanted to see, to use her power, to use Sundancer?

How? I mean, I’m not surprised to see Sundancer become relevant to this mission after her usefulness was questioned last chapter, but what exactly do you have in mind, Lisa?

Tattletale was waving now.  The opposite of a beckoning gesture.  A scooping motion, as if to push us away.

“Back off, we’re going to throw a miniature sun into the fray.”

Still no clue what the eye and the head taps were about, but this part seems fairly straight-forward.

She wanted us to go away?  To get back?  She wanted to deploy Sundancer’s power.  That made sense.  And she wanted to be sure we were out of the line of fire?  She could only do that if she saw us, and she could only use her power if she could follow what was going on.

Sounds about right.

From my seat behind Grue, I steered Sirius around another corner, then brought us up behind Tattletale’s group.  We gradually caught up.

“Hey, Tattle! You really need to get better at signaling!”


“Do it!”  I shouted as we began to pull alongside them.  Siberian would be out of range of Grue’s darkness in moments if Grue wasn’t behind her, replenishing and extending his power.

“Where is she!?”  Tattletale shouted.  Sundancer was leaning back, her hand out to one side.  The orb she was creating was small.

I don’t think it’ll stay small very long.

I pointed.

The orb was getting larger.  The size of a baseball, a beachball, an armchair.  As it grew, it drifted farther away, higher.

Like I was saying.

By the time it was directly overhead, it was large enough to swallow up my bedroom whole.

“Gotta stop them!”  Tattletale called out, “We blindside them!”

As in throwing the sun at them from where they can’t see it coming?

“Civilians!?”  Sundancer cried out.

“Some!”

That is a bit of a problem, yeah.


“Let me know-”  She grunted as Bentley stumbled over a pothole.  “Let-”

“Got it!”  I replied.

I tracked the people in nearby buildings, and kept my arm extended to point at Siberian.

Timing is everything here.

Though I’m not sure this is going to work?

“Got to use my power again!”  Grue shouted.

“Signal us!”  Tattletale called out.

We pulled right, plunging into the darkness.  It was thinning out, and faint shafts of light were piercing through.We crossed the road behind Siberian, and Grue blasted them with darkness, replenishing the effect.  We continued across the street, moving behind cover.

Nice work.

Only a few people in the upcoming area.  We had to be close to Regent’s group.  Time was short.

This chase would be really cool in motion.

I drew images with my bugs to point her in the right direction, and then formed the word with my bugs as the other group continued forward.  ‘NOW’.

Go, Sunny!

We passed out of the darkness just in time for me to catch sight of the orb.  It was larger now.  Large enough that when it fell, it had to be touching both of the sidewalks on the four lane road.

Damn.

Even with a building between us and the impact zone, I could feel the wave of heated air, and I saw the billowing steam.  Grue took the reins and guided Sirius away before it could reach us.

Probably a good idea, yes.

Sundancer hadn’t hit Siberian.  She’d dropped the orb straight into the road a hundred feet ahead of them, and she’d plunged it down, hard.

Well. Are they going to drive right into it?

My bugs died as Siberian approached the impact site, burned up by the heated air.  I could imagine what had happened.  The miniature sun would have burned a hole into the ground, melted or even vaporized pavement.

Ohh, right, of course – the car is invulnerable, but it’s still a car. It shouldn’t be able to get out of a deep crater easily, let alone safely.

Affected by Siberian’s power or not, they were still affected by gravity.

I couldn’t say what would have happened in the long run.  Had they hit the wall or floor of the pit and used Siberian’s power to make it as invulnerable as they were?  Or had they plunged through it, burying themselves some distance underground.

Either way, they’re stuck.

Or rather, the truck is. The Monochrome could still pick up Siberian and carry them to their destination, but leaving the real body behind to go help the other Nine would be even less of an option under those circumstances.

A nearby building was burning.  I saw Sundancer forming another orb near the site, I wasn’t sure what she was doing, but the flames on the building were shrinking and dying out.

Fighting fire with fire, I suppose.


This wasn’t a victory.  It was a stall.  We couldn’t stop Siberian so long as she was able to grant invulnerability to her other self, but we could keep her from reaching her teammates in any meaningful amount of time.

And you can force her to continue granting invulnerability to her other self in order to limit how much she can do to help Bonesaw the other Nine.

It was interesting, I had to note, that she was affecting the truck and not her maker.

I mean, so far that’s been logical enough, since they needed the truck… but I suppose they could’ve just picked up their real body earlier on the trip, ditching the truck. So maybe they can’t grant invulnerability to themself?

A limitation?  A drawback?  Could she not use her power on her real body?

Clouds of white steam intermingled with the black tendrils of Grue’s darkness.  We stopped running, but we didn’t approach.  I focused my power on the bugs in the ground.  Ants, earthworms.  Was she tunneling?  No.  As far as I could tell, the ground was intact.  She wasn’t moving.

Maybe they’ve realized they can’t get out without exposing their real body to the Undertravelers?

“What did you do?”  Amy whispered from behind me.

I didn’t have the breath to explain.

The Travelers have some really destructive powers.

“Drop the darkness?”  I asked.

Grue nodded.  The darkness cleared, but the steam didn’t make it any easier to see.  I saw the shadowy silhouette of Tattletale, a distance away.  I practically had to peel Amy off of me to get to my cell phone.

Poor Amy. 😛


“Tattletale?” I asked, the second she picked up.

“She’s still down there.”  Tattletale replied.

“Why?  Hurt?”

I doubt that.

“Don’t know.  Planning her next move?  Don’t get the impression she’s tunneling.”

I like how we’re getting a “second opinion” on these things.

“My bugs don’t either.  Hey, I’m wondering if Siberian can affect her real self?  Why doesn’t she just grab him and run?”

“Good question.  But that’s not our real concern.”

Then what is?

“What is?”

“Them.”

…fuck, did we just run right into the battle with the other Nine? Or did the Protectorate show up?

It took three or four seconds before I saw them arrive, stepping through the mist to stop a distance from the hole.  Identical costumes, all-concealing, with gas mask filters on the front and tinted panes for the upper faces.

Fuck, they did. This is very bad, because it means it’s only a matter of time before Bakuda’s bombs come into play.

Each was color coded.  Four flew, one using a jetpack.  One was on the ground, a style of super-speed I recognized as Battery’s.  Rounding out their group was the ghostly image of a bear.  Ursa something, from Legend’s squad.

Ghostly bear, sounds about right.

Also how did they expect the Nine not to recognize that one by the power??

She had three forms, or she duplicated herself into three states, or something.  I wasn’t sure about the naming convention.

…interesting. So it’s kind of a hivemind between three different ghostly bodies, then? Or is the word “duplicated” a bit misleading here?

One for the big bear, one for the small, and one for the woman.

An Ursa Major and an Ursa Minor. Nice.


“Legend, Battery, Cache,” Tattletale rattled off names through the phone, “Chariot, Glory Girl.”

Oh boy, Glory Girl’s here too. How’s Amy going to react to that? I can’t imagine she wants Victoria to see her riding around with the Undertravelers.

Amy squeaked, barely audible, a failed attempt to speak.

The flying man in the lead pointed his hand towards Tattletale.  If that was Legend, one laser blast could take all of them out.

Don’t do it, man. You’re better than that.

I wasn’t sure if he’d spotted us through the mist and smoke.

“Want me to use my power?” Grue asked.

Well, if they haven’t spotted you, that ought to tip them off, but if they have… it ought to help you escape.

“No,” Tattletale’s voice came from my phone.  “Skitter?  Inform them.”

About Siberian’s true nature?

I drew words out with the flying insects, big and bold, with an arrow pointing down at the crater.  ‘SIBERIAN + HER CREATOR’

Nice. That ought to get the point through.


Legend snapped his head from the words to us.

Shit,” Tattletale said.  No sooner was the word out of her mouth than Siberian came tearing out of the hole, truck held over her head.

Well, fuck.

Was Siberian just waiting for something to tip them off to where the Undertravelers were?

A section of the street was torn free and flipped through the air.  Legend blasted it out of existence with an indigo flash of light.

I guess that’s indigone.

“Cash!”  Legend bellowed the word.

I think you’re misinterpreting that, Taylor. They’ve got someone named Cache.

So is he ordering Cache to go swoop up the Undertravelers to protect them from Siberian?

He began pelting Siberian with lasers.  Beams capable of leveling buildings, and she ignored them.

Turns out Siberian isn’t a building.

Cash?  I saw the man in the black costume raising his hands.  Dark lines began to surround Siberian and the truck, forming complex geometric angles.

Oh, is he capable of containing Siberian with that power?

In the blink of an eye, as Siberian reached the peak of her leap, panes of glossy black material snapped into place between the dark lines.  The resulting geometry contracted as if he meant to squish Siberian.  It shattered instead.

Yeah, sorry, I think your pokéball just popped open.

She hit the ground in a crouch, holding the truck in one hand, and the man in the black robe staggered, blood gushing from his nose.  Legend caught him before he could collapse.

Oof, that seems to have not just failed, but backfired.

Cache.  Right.  I was dimly aware of him, though I’d never seen his picture.

Siberian charged the heroes, and they cleared out of the way in an instant.  The one in power armor -Chariot- slid across the ground with the aid of his jetpack and built-in roller skates.

Let’s see what he can do in a fight!

Legend and the one in red, Glory Girl by process of elimination, took flight.  Ursa whatever leaped to one side.  They were the mobile group, the group that was able to get here fastest.  They’d seen the sun appear, they’d seen it hit, and they’d come to step in.

Ahh, yeah, that makes sense.

Though by their outfits, they were already messing with the other Undertraveler group’s assault on the Nine.

Siberian didn’t stop to engage the enemy.  She continued on her course, charging through the ground floor of a building as she swung the truck in a lazy back and forth arc.  I could see the roof buckling as vital supports disappeared.

Whoops, there goes another building.


Legend handed Cache to Ursa and gave chase.  I could see Chariot raising his hand to his right ear, pausing.

Got Piggot in your ear?

He, Battery and Glory Girl turned and advanced towards Tattletale’s group.

Fuck.

“Can we go?”  Amy asked, from behind me.  “I didn’t- I didn’t think-”

There was a pause.  We could fight.  My power would be largely foiled by those suits, but Grue had his power.

With this many capes around, Grue would be incredibly versatile.

“No,” Tattletale said.  “Come here, and bring Amy.  They want to talk.”

Alright. Good.

Though considering Glory Girl is there, I’m not sure Amy will want to.


Amy pulled back, and I grabbed her wrist.  Before she could hop off Sirius, Grue was directing the dog across the road.

Chariot and Glory Girl pulled off their helmets as we arrived.  Chariot was black, his narrow, triangular face largely covered in power armor.  He had the scruff of a weak teenage beard on his chin.

The design reminds me of Nino from Miraculous Ladybug, even though Nino doesn’t have stubble or power armor, is arguably more dark cream-colored than black, and his face can barely be called triangular.

tumblr_inline_pd9agkuzQN1sxgvvn_500.png

So basically the description reminds me of someone who doesn’t look much like him at all.

Glory Girl bore little resemblance to any of the last times I’d seen her.  There were dark circles under her eyes.  She stared at me.  No- at Amy.

She’s been having sleepless nights, hasn’t she.

How much has her reaction to Amy’s leaving been affected by what Amy did to her?

The glare seethed with raw, seething hatred.  It made every line of her face hard.

Ouch.


“You’ve joined them, now?”  She spoke, breaking the brief silence.

Not officially. More like a temporary team-up that could blossom into something deeper if I’m lucky.

“I just wanted to help against the Nine,” Amy said.  Her voice was small, defeated.  “Can I-”

“If you open your mouth and ask if you can use your power on me, I won’t be held responsible for what I do,” Glory Girl growled.

Harsh, but understandable.

“Don’t hate me, please.  I don’t care what you think of me, but hate is too close to…”  Amy trailed off.

To love?

“Too close to what?” Glory Girl asked.  She shrugged.  Anger gave an edge to her words.  “Aren’t you going to say it?  Can’t you admit what you did?”

Amy hung her head, and her forehead rested between my shoulders, hair hanging down.  She shook her head, but I doubted Glory Girl could see it.

😦

Poor Amy.

“Let’s put vendettas aside,” Chariot spoke.  He smirked.  “We have bigger fish to fry.”

Tigerfish, perhaps?

“The Nine,” Trickster spoke.

“The Nine,” Chariot said.  “But it’s not my place to talk tactics.  I’m just the rookie.  The messenger.”

I find it appropriate that the guy with the super fast power armor is the messenger. It feels like it ties back to Hermes, whether that was intentional or not, with the power armor standing in for his winged shoes.


He extended one hand toward Tattletale.  There was an earbud in his palm.

Oh shit, are the Protectorate really asking for Tattletale to be the one to talk directly to them?

“The Director of the PRT would like to have a word with you.”

…Piggot. Hrm.

Well, this ought to be interesting, at least.


End of Prey 14.3

This was a fantastic chapter! I love everything to do with Amy in it, and the chase scene was really good too. And then the more mobile members of the Protectorate and Wards showed up, along with Glory Girl for extra Amy goodness. Fortunately, rather than bombing them (I suppose this is too different from the plan to go through with that just yet), Piggot wants to talk to the Undertravelers, and for some reason she (or Chariot, if Piggot didn’t specify) went with Tattletale as the Undertravelers’ spokesperson in spite of all the data that tells them to avoid talking to her. That might backfire.

I suppose Piggot wants to know what they mean re: Siberian’s “creator” and how they found out, but there’s gotta be more to it. It wouldn’t warrant a dramatic chapter ender if there wasn’t. Maybe this is how they begin to set up the trap?

There’s also the issue that Siberian and the other Nine are still running around nearby, and who knows what the situation is for the other part of the Undertravelers, now that the PRT is involved. Hopefully we’ll find out next chapter.

Fuck, this situation is such a mess.

Amy. Amy, Amy, Amy. I love Amy’s character so much these days. If things do – this is against the odds but currently very possible – end up making her a permanent Undersider, I’m gonna have a new favorite on the team.

In this chapter, we got to see her development with Taylor pay off as she admitted things she wouldn’t say to just anyone, actively chose to help the Undertravelers out, and even – after a questionable pep talk by Lisa – joined them in the race against Siberian. This is major character and relationship development and I love it.

So… yeah. Next chapter, it’s time to talk to Jemily, hopefully find out how the other members of the Undertravelers are doing, and see Greg and Lisa’s first kiss. See you then!

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3 thoughts on “Prey 14.3: Arthropod Modification Radio

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