Prey 14.7: Some Excellent Chaos

Source material: Worm, Prey 14.7

Originally blogged: August 28-31, 2018


Howdy-doodle! Let’s read some Worm!

Last time, we rounded off the Amy/Victoria subplot of the Arc and got ready to leave behind the battle of the heroes vs. two pieces of Nine in order to go track down the remaining two. Or three. Siberian might’ve joined up with them, or be going to.

Lisa believes Jack and Bonesaw are in an Endbringer shelter, and I think she’s right, but I don’t think they’re alone. Such a place sounds like a perfect art studio for Bonesaw, so it’s probably well stocked with her works.

Another thing to consider is this: How are the Undertravelers supposed to get in? The shelters are built to withstand Endbringers, so they might be able to deal with Sundancer and Ballistic. It might be the same shelter Leviathan visited, so the door may be busted, but even in that case, the door’s a bottleneck that Jack can easily make use of to get in some slashes at them. Taylor’s bugs would get in easily through a busted door, but can’t do much actual damage to Jack and Bonesaw on their own.

I suppose Sunny might be able to send a small orb through the door and then expand it on the inside. The difficult part of this tactic would be convincing Sunny to unleash the sun on Bonesaw’s victims.

Or maybe the correct question to ask here isn’t how they get in, but how they get the Nine out? Hm.

Let’s read and find out!


“Three places nearby they could have gone,” Tattletale said. “Two that fit with the direction they were running. The shelter underneath the central library, and the one near where Scion confronted Leviathan.”

My money’s on the last one. I’m pretty sure that’s the one Leviathan went to, and Taylor returning there now is too good to pass up.

“I remember that one,” I replied. We were walking at a brisk pace around the perimeter of the bomb site.

Yeah, I’d imagine she does. You don’t forget where you tore an Endbringer a new asshole easily. And this is Taylor, so I’m guessing she blames herself for at least some of the deaths in there.

The area to our left still burned, and Sundancer was in the lead, clearing away the worst of the fires ahead of us. I was walking with Tattletale and Grue, Atlas following behind us. The others rode the dogs behind me.

Nice.

“If we’re going to check those locations, then…” Tattletale trailed off.

“If I had a preference, I’d rather we check the library first. Bad associations with the other spot.”

Those bad associations are exactly why that’s where they’re going to be.

(If the opposite were to be true, that the library one was going to be the right one because Wildbow didn’t want to involve the bad associations for some reason (hypothetical Wildbow, are you feeling alright?), there wouldn’t be much point in making the bad place one of the options in the first place.)


Tattletale turned her head at that. “I thought you’d be proud.”

Yeah, no, that’s not how Taylor functions. She considered the first Mannequin fight a draw at best because there were a couple people she failed to save.

I shook my head.

“I only heard secondhand, so I didn’t get the full story, but you stabbed Leviathan with Armsmaster’s weapon and distracted him from going after the civilians that were inside that shelter.”

That sounds like something that happened, yes.

“Don’t know how many I really saved. He had a good thirty seconds to a minute to unload everything he had on the people in there, and we all saw how much damage he did to some of our toughest capes.”

True.

Tattletale nodded.

“I dunno. I think of what happened back then, and I get this ugly feeling in my gut, like I did something wrong, or I didn’t try as hard as I could have because there was someone in that shelter who I sort of hate. Hated? I’m not sure if I should use past tense.”

Right. The mess with Mr. Gladly.

I still think Taylor’s hatred of him is harsher than is really justified, but that’s not unbelievable. Especially when he’s a person she already somewhat disliked in an environment soured by the Harpies.

“One of your bullies?” She asked.

“Teacher. I think that when I left the Undersiders, I guess I was thinking of considering becoming a hero or something. But with what happened at that shelter, I almost feel like it was the turning point. It was the first time I did anything that someone else could point to and call it heroic, and somehow I can’t find it in myself to be proud about it.

It’s not the only time that’s happened since, either.

And it’s like, that dream of being a hero that I always had just kind of faded away in the face of reality.”

Damn if that sentence isn’t a summary of Taylor’s entire arc so far.


“We’re glad to have you, whatever your reasons,” Tattletale said.

“Thanks,” I told her.

:>

I looked at Grue. “You okay?”

“I’m getting annoyed that people keep asking that,” he spoke.

But otherwise okay?

“Don’t be a dick,” Tattletale replied. “She’s asking because she cares. We’re asking because we care. And you know that if it was one of us that went through what you did, you’d want to make sure we were in the right headspace to go up against the Nine.”

Yeah, true. But hey, at least he’s honest about getting annoyed at it.

Grue sighed, but he didn’t respond.

“You’d tell us if you weren’t feeling right, yeah?” Tattletale asked.

“If I had any idea what I felt, and it wasn’t good, yeah.”

Fair enough. I’m sure you can sort it out with a bit of time and compassion. 🙂


“Good enough.”

We watched as Sundancer cleared away the flames with her flickering sun. Flames bent toward it as if being influenced by a strong wind, thinned out and disappeared.

Fight fire with fire? No. Here at Undertravelers Incorporated, we fight fire with THE FUCKING SUN.

She cancelled out her power and turned back to us. “One minute to cool off and we’re probably okay to go!”

Sounds good! And yeah, you don’t wanna touch anything she’s been melting right away.

“We should decide where we’re going and how we’re going to make our approach,” Grue spoke.

Don’t split up.

“If they’re waiting for their teammates, they’ll stay inside the shelter for the time being,” I said. “We’ll be in a better position if we don’t try anything overly complicated, like a pincer attack, if there’s more than one exit. We can hit them hard enough with Sundancer, Ballistic and my bugs.”

Hm, I do suppose it would make sense for the shelter to have multiple doors, to increase the evacuation speed and allow people to get out the other way if one doorway is blocked from the outside by debris or a broken door.

Grue nodded. “I don’t disagree. You two will have an idea if they’re making their way out the other exit.”

Yeah. So could you, right? But you’d have to darken the shelter in order to.


“The two shelters are close to one another,” Tattletale said. “But I’m still a little worried they’ll leave one location while we’re checking out the other. I almost want to split up.”

Don’t.

We’ve already had one case this Arc of the Undertravelers splitting up and the group Taylor’s in having to rush to an ongoing fight between the Nine and the other Undertravelers (given the choice, Taylor would go to the library shelter, only to find it empty). We don’t need another right now.

“Is that worth the risk of having half our group caught off guard by the Nine before the other half can arrive?” I asked.

And that’s the other reason I’ve been telling them not to split up.

“A better question,” Tattletale said, “Is whether we can afford to let them get away. If we miss this chance to go on the offensive and let them escape, they go into hiding and work out a strategy.”

Fair point.

Though… do they have reason to believe they can’t just stay in the shelter?

“And we’re not exactly in their good books,” I said. “So we’d be a primary target.”

Was I imagining it, or did Grue’s darkness expand around him by a fraction?

I suppose this is a defensive instinct triggered by the idea of the Nine coming after them, but my first thought was that the darkness muffles sound and would work well as a way to tell the two of them to shut up.


“Sorry,” I told him.

“Hm?” He turned towards me.

No use making it worse, if I was prodding a sensitive area by raising the threat the Nine posed.

I appreciate that Taylor does this, even if Brian himself doesn’t seem to have realized that his reaction was visible.

“Nevermind.”

“Saddle up!” Tattletale called out.

The Undercaballeros ride again!

Sundancer turned and sprinted back to the dogs. Regent hopped down from his seat and grabbed Shatterbird’s wrists so she could lift him into the air. I climbed on top of Atlas.

Woo! Let’s go!


“What if-” I started. “No.”

What were you going to say?

“Keep talking,” Tattletale prodded me.

“What if I scouted the library, while you guys checked out the other site? I can fly, it’s faster for me to get there.”

Alright, fine. I can live with that.

Though in-universe they have no reason to believe they need more people at the other site than at the library.

“And we’d be one mistake away from you being killed,” Grue said. “If not worse.”

“Trust me, I know what worse is like.”

“Hear me out. Their only real long-range attacker is Jack, right? If I’m flying, the others won’t be able to touch me.”

Yes, but you’d be an easy target for Jack unless you flew pretty high up.

“You think.”

“I think. But if Jack’s at the location, I’d be able to sense him before he got a bead on me. If that’s the case… I can just attack without exposing myself, and I can alert you guys.”

I suppose she’d be able to use the relay bugs for that last part.

(They said the shelters were close by each other, but I doubt they’re both in normal range for a flying Taylor at the same time. Even if it made sense for shelters to be built that close to each other, that would render all of this moot.)

“Assuming he’s not two steps ahead of us and waiting at some vantage point somewhere nearby,” Grue said.

Good point.

“He functions like a sniper,” Tattletale said. “Ignore the fact that he slashes and stabs, he’s a long-range combatant with a good sense of what the enemy is doing and how his teammates move on the battlefield. He stays out of the way and makes surgical strikes, then relocates to another vantage point. The only thing that keeps him from doing that all the time is how he has to stay involved with his team and keep them under control.

Interesting.

Can’t make it look like you’re in charge if you’re not there. With less teammates to manage, he’s liable to go on the offensive.”

That makes sense, yeah.


“But I have the ability to find him,” I pointed out. “Before he finds me. Amy gave me bugs that increase my range. I’ll be taking on some risk, but it means we’re able to check both locations at the same time and keep an eye out for the Nine. It’s the best way to strike the balance we need.”

I suppose she’s right.

“The balance,” Grue said. He was clearly unimpressed.

“Minimal risk to maximum effect. Your group will be safe because you’re all together and you’ll vastly outnumber them. I’ll be safe because I’m airborne, and I’ll have the advantage of an early warning. Offensively, you guys will have the Travelers and Bitch. I’ll have my bugs.”

I really don’t think the bugs are equivalent to the Travelers and Bitch against Jack, Bonesaw and maybe Siberian.

“Bonesaw countered your bugs last time around,” Tattletale pointed out.

And Jack has similar biological armor.

I nodded. “I have a few things in mind.”

…my interest is piqued.


So I guess they are going to be at the library after all then. The point of the option Taylor wouldn’t want to go to was to make her split off from the others and have to deal with Jack, Bonesaw and maybe Siberian on her own until the others could catch up.


Also worth considering: Can’t it be motherfucking BOTH THINGS?

It can, but it’s unlikely. They’d want to have a single place to meet back up.


“If you’re sure.”

“She’s not the only person who gets a say,” Grue said.

Yeeah, this is exactly the kind of plan he was calling her out on before.

“Name a better option, then?” I said.

“We all go to the library’s shelter, then we all go to the shelter Leviathan attacked,” he said. “Safer, smarter.”

Of course he wants to do it the most cautious way. But then we’re back to Lisa’s worries about missing them.

(Incidentally, going to the library first is actually a good choice. If it wasn’t a narrative – i.e. if I were in-universe and had no clue about Wildbow – I would’ve called that as the most likely location from the start, due to the state of the shelter Leviathan attacked.)

“If you’re worried about me being defenseless,” I suggested, “Regent could come with me.”

Sounds like fun!

“There’s a reason we’re keeping that pair close to us,” Grue said. “If he gets taken down, you’ll have to deal with Shatterbird on top of everything else. We’re capable of handling her, I think. I don’t know if you are.”

Fair point.

I frowned.

Tattletale looked back at the others, then back at me. “Go.”

Yeah, I suppose you just gotta cut the rope here. If you stand around arguing all day they’re even more likely to get away.

I looked at Grue.

Tattletale pointed. “Go! Stay in contact!”

I turned and lifted off.

See ya later, when you catch up!


I kept to the cover of nearby buildings, and I flew erratically, so Jack wouldn’t be able to hit me if he saw me coming. I was getting more used to flying Atlas. I wouldn’t have said he felt like an extension of my own body in the same manner as my swarm. He felt more like a prosthetic limb, or how I imagined a prosthetic limb might feel like.

Sounds apt, considering that he’s a custom addition to the swarm.

At first, it would be clumsy, every action requiring some level of careful thought and attention. Over time, it would become more second nature, a learned skill on my end. It would never match up to the real thing, but I could deal.

That seems about right, yeah.

Already, I was getting more used to correcting orientation and keeping him level in the air.

Progress!

We set down on a rooftop a distance away. There was a shed with a doorway that led into the building’s interior, and we headed there to take cover.

(#stay outta my shed
#i do not recommend pony.mov but i can’t resist this reference)


I chained relay bugs together so one connected to the next, then extended them well beyond the range of my power. Their progress was relatively slow, but it did allow me to sweep over an entire region around the library.

Sweet.

Bugs stirred into action at my order, and they crawled or flew within a few feet of every horizontal surface that Jack or Bonesaw could be standing on.

No sign of them. The vault door beneath the library was closed and sealed.

Yeeah, that might be a problem is they’re actually there. It might not have been at the other shelter.

I was about to return to the others when an explosion of dust and rock fragments ripped through a group of bugs a few blocks away from me.

Is that good? That’s probably not good.

Wait, so how far is she from the bomb zone? Is this the Bakuda barrage going off?

A woman, no clothes.

To the tune of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”.

My bugs slid off her skin.

Are we sure it’s even really skin at this point?

Even the slightest abrasion on the surface of the skin served to tear through the legs and bodies of the bugs. Had to be Siberian.

Well, yeah. I felt like that went without saying, honestly.

I guess this gives Taylor the opportunity to track her movement towards wherever the Nine actually are.

Also, is she still carrying the truck, or has she set her real body down to move separately again?

If the general shape of the large object she was holding was any indication, she still held the truck.

Alright. So that’s still invulnerable, presumably, but if Taylor can get her to drop the truck, she has another shot at killing the real Siberian.


A handful of my bugs were wiped from existence a fraction of a second before more explosions of varying size ripped through the area around her. Legend was somewhere up in the air.

Oh hell yes.

So I guess the bugs that got wiped got caught in the laser blasts?

I drew my bugs together around Siberian’s head, in the hopes that I could distract her. It was pretty thin, but there wasn’t much I could do. Even a direct hit with Legend’s lasers wouldn’t affect her.

Better than nothing, I suppose.

I shifted locations, flying half a block before landing again. I could just barely make out the pair of combatants with my swarm sense.

So they’re near the edge? Or is it that they’ve wiped out too many bugs?

Something about what Legend was doing seemed odd. He wasn’t firing constantly. Rather, his shots seemed to be strategically placed.

Maybe he’s trying to manipulate the environment to make it harder for Siberian to navigate it? He knows she’s not affected by the explosions directly.

He ripped apart the side of a building a moment before Siberian landed there, then tore through the five or six floors beneath her so she had nowhere to go except straight down. The instant she stepped free of the building’s ground floor, he tore into the ground with a series of laser blasts that expanded outward, thinning as they went.

…is he trying to leave her in a deep pit?

It created a bowl-shaped indent, with rubble covering the storm drains that had been exposed by the lasers.

We need to go deeper if stranding her in a pit is indeed the goal here.

(#Inception
#it’s like ‘beam me up scotty’
#no one actually says it in the movie)


Carrying the truck, Siberian headed for the storm drains anyways, tearing through the piles of debris. Legend unloaded on the entire street, collapsing them around her. Some of my bugs descended with the pieces of the shattered street, and they could feel the warmth of the outside air mingling with the cold, stagnant air of the storm drains. He’d exposed her.

Nice work, dude.

I’d seen Legend go all out, and this wasn’t it. Why was he holding back?

Civilians?

Granted, there was little point in hitting Siberian with everything he had, and it was easily possible that trying to drill a hole in the ground around her could theoretically give her the chance to escape, if she found some underground cavern or tunnel, but it could just as easily drown her.

I doubt the monochrome can drown, but the real body sure can.

So long as she had the truck, Siberian had to stay places where there was oxygen. She couldn’t, I was assuming, dive beneath the water and make her escape from there. Legend seemed to be going out of his way to keep her aboveground and exposed, attacking only when he had to.

Maybe it’s so she doesn’t burrow, but that too ought to be more difficult with the truck.

He was conserving his strength. As much as both he and Siberian were powerhouses with more offensive capability than ninety-nine percent of people on the planet, this was a strategic battle.

Ahh… for what?

It was easily possible he was planning to keep this up for hours, harrying her, keeping her from getting her feet under her.

…now if that ain’t karmic, heh.


And with Siberian’s master or controller in that truck, she was forced to move more carefully. If Siberian’s creator didn’t have food and water, this could turn into a battle of attrition. One Legend might even win. He was fit, healthy, athletic. Siberian’s master, according to Cherish, wasn’t.

So basically you think Legend is going to follow them until he has to give up out of thirst or hunger.

Added to that, being in that truck as Siberian leaped around couldn’t be fun.

Bunp. Bunp.

I felt like I was still missing something. Why was Legend fighting here, of all places? Whatever else was going on, they were causing pretty horrific property damage, and it had to be hard to fight Siberian in a place with this many high-rises.

I mean, I supposed he could’ve just had to follow her here, but it sounds like there’s more to it.

She could disappear into building interiors, and even if he lowered the height he was flying at, Legend was probably having to penetrate three or four stories of building to get to her.

Eesh.


I think it’s time to stop for the night anyway, so maybe I’ll think of a more meaningful answer to why they’d ended up over here by Thursday. See you then!

[End of session]


[reblogging an ask response from another blog]

mrlewdemz-on-da asked:
Whats your favorite gif right now available in your phone/computer

picsthatmakeyougohmm answered:

Dammit, Bonesaw…


It’s time to stop, Bonesaw.

You too, Vista.


[Discord]

LHC:
I’ve always kind of vaguely thought that Cyriak’s whole aesthetic would work really well for a kind of Labyrinth-esque Worm power

Krixwell:
Dammit, I totally should’ve blamed Labyrinth rather than Vista

LHC:
😛


[Session 2]
Raibuburoggu sutato!


I kept my distance from the fight as I directed Atlas toward the library. With my bugs, I was able to more or less follow the fight. I couldn’t touch Siberian directly, but I could sense where Legend was directing his attacks, and how he was positioning himself.

Makes sense.

I continued to do what I could to help Legend, sending bugs at Siberian in the hopes of distracting her or finding some way into that truck. They searched the windows but failed to find a gap. Some crawled into the exhaust, others into the undercarriage-

Hm? Did you find something? 😮

She fell into a trench as Legend leveled another series of blasts at her, and the movement of the truck coupled with Siberian’s power and its rough texture murdered a solid ninety-percent of the bugs I’d used.

Shit.

The remainder made their way deeper inside.

This might be good though.

The bugs could scent something they registered as food. A heavy smell, fetid, like garbage. It was rank in there.

Sheesh, dude, how long have you been staying in this truck without cleaning up?

They crawled through the air conditioning vents and into the truck’s interior.

SUCCESS!

*hacker voice* we’re in


The driver’s seat was empty. I sent the bugs into the back. Nothing.

What.

Did he die in there, from all the tossing around, without it causing the monochrome to disappear?

Hm, except it would take more time for the stench of death to set in enough to attract bugs, if it’s not just the stench of uncleanliness. Also, that doesn’t explain why the body’s gone.

It could be a decoy truck meant to draw the heroes away from the real body, but a) it’d require Siberian to find an identical truck in the crater or during a moment out of sight of Legend, b) Siberian is at a disadvantage because of holding onto the truck, and c) the real body could probably have slipped away by now if he’s not handicapped by injuries, so why would she still be carrying the truck?

Hmm. I suppose the first point could be circumvented if it’s a decoy but not a separate truck. What if the real body was still in the crater when she jumped out with the truck? That does sound like a huge risk to take, considering the major hero presence on site, including some who were specifically targeting the real body. Maybe she did have a moment out of sight of Legend on the way here and dropped the real body off then?

As for b), it’s not a huge disadvantage, especially if the truck is actually empty, and for c), her having reason to drop the truck sooner rather than later is very much dependent on point b).


The truck was empty?

Maybe he’s squeezed into the glove compartment.

With my bugs, I drew out words in mid-air high above me, informing Legend: ‘TRUCK EMPTY – SIBERIAN BLUFF.’

Yes, good. Keep up the communication. I appreciate that.

Had she assessed what Legend was doing, turned it around on him? If her real self was somewhere safe, somewhere with food and water, that meant Legend would lose any battle of attrition, if that’s what he was aiming for.

Also it’s just straight up a good move to get the real body out of the battle.

I couldn’t think of another reason her creator would leave the safety of the truck.

Not too many paragraphs ago: “Added to that, being in that truck as Siberian leaped around couldn’t be fun.

And hey, if somewhere else is safer… And it’d be theoretically possible for the truck to slip out of Siberian’s grip for long enough to kill the real body.

Hovering over the library, I got my phone out and dialed.

“Tattletale?”

Whenever Taylor’s phone comes into play, it’s usually a good chance it’s to contact or be contacted by Lisa.

“Sup?”

“Legend’s fighting Siberian here, but the maker isn’t in the truck. I think he’s in the vault with Jack and Bonesaw.”

A reasonable conclusion. (I kinda got that implication at the mention of “food and water”, but forgot to mention it.)

“Someone’s sealed over this door with a heavy pad of metal, because Leviathan or someone tore it down. My gut’s telling me the Nine didn’t gather inside and weld it shut behind them, but I can’t ignore the possibility that Bonesaw’s spiders did it. One in twenty chance, I’d guess? We’ll know in about thirty seconds, after Sundancer burns through.”

Hmm. Looks like the broken door is more of a liability than an opportunity for the Undertravelers.

And yes, that was Leviathan’s fault.

But why would the people running the shelter weld the door shut rather than replace the door entirely? Lack of budget and resources, perhaps, and a preference for the former door to act as a wall rather than a broken entrance if the shelter should be needed again before they could fix it?


“Right. A few more things that are bugging me. Can I use your brain?”

“I don’t know, it’s kinda stuck in my head. Maybe you could borrow it if we got Bonesaw to help? …Sorry, that’s a touchy subject for you.”

“Go ahead.”

a-head

“Legend’s fighting Siberian here. It feels wrong. He’s working to pin her down, slow her movements as much as he can. I know he’s probably buying time, trying to wear her other self out, but why not a place with flatter terrain? Why not a place where there’ll be less cover for her and less collateral damage? I know Siberian goes where she wants, and if her other self is in the shelter, that’s probably a big reason she came, but-”

There’s clearly some relevance to this, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how. It doesn’t help that my brain defaults to, well, “Siberian goes where she wants”. That’s reason enough for my head.

“Your gut is saying something’s off.”

“My gut is saying something’s off.”

“Okay. I’d guess the Protectorate have more of a plan than the one firebombing.”

Ahh, so that’s how they figure this out, rather than through experience. So is Legend trying to get Siberian back into the blast zone, or just trying to stay out of it himself?

“They’re going to do it again?”

“No. The first one, going by what you’ve said and what I’ve picked up, hasn’t done much for our side. It’s going to be something else.”

It’s gonna be similar, but way more effective for dealing with things like Siberian. Maybe. Would a time stop work on what might be a tangible hole in reality?


“And we don’t know what?”

“No clue. What else?”

“Minor, but if her other self is in the shelter, where are Jack and Bonesaw? And if they’re in the shelter, where’s Siberian’s real body?”

Like, where in the shelter? Or are you suggesting that either Siberian is in the shelter or Jack and Bonesaw are in there?

“She’s spent years with them, they have a rapport, and they’re dependent on one another. Maybe he felt it was safe to approach them.”

…oh, right, duh. They didn’t know about the real body thing.

Or at least, Jack didn’t. Jury’s still out on whether Bonesaw did.

“Maybe. Nothing more specific?”

“Don’t have much to work with. What else is going on?”

“Legend’s holding back. Conserving his strength. I get that he’s trying to win a fight of attrition, but as far as I can tell, he hasn’t changed his tactics or the pacing of his attacks much since I informed him that the creator isn’t in the truck.”

Maybe he doesn’t believe you for some reason, or is blinded by his vendetta against Siberian?

Or maybe he didn’t catch the original message about “Siberian and her creator” and doesn’t know why the contents of the truck matter? Though he should still be able to figure out that they do.

“He’s buying time for something? Someone? Maybe Scion is headed this way? No. Don’t get that vibe.

Ooh, good question, would Scion be able to defeat the Monochrome?

I’m thinking he might be, if she’s actually a “hole in reality”. That strikes me as a thing that is cosmically “not right”, and Scion’s power theme seems to be something to the effect of “set things right” or “calm things down”. Or, less usefully in this context, “cancel waves”.

Hmm,” Tattletale mused. “We just got inside. They aren’t here.”

Library it is, I guess. Unless Lisa was wrong to begin with and they aren’t at either.


I looked down at the library. “Vault door, how do I open it?”

*knock knock* “Open, sesame.”

“Can’t say until I see the control panel myself. The shelters are supposed to open with a command from the PHQ-”

Well, that’s fucked then, unless they’ve put effort into rewiring this stuff to the new PHQ. Or maybe it can be done from any Protectorate data system, probably meaning Dragon’s in charge.

“Which was annihilated,” I said.

“Right. Or the PRT headquarters, on the Director’s order. There’s bound to be another code that can be used in case those places get knocked out of commission.”

Yeah, if they thought this through particularly well.

“How did they get in?”

“They have a tinker,” Tattletale said. “She may work primarily with biology, but that’s not going to be the full extent of Bonesaw’s knowledge. Look at those spiders. Some basic hacking isn’t out of the question.

That’s fair. It’s called a specialty, not an “only thing you’re good at”ty.

Anyways, I can figure it out when I get there. Unless you want to take the brute force route.”

The brute force route probably still means waiting for you to get here. Taylor’s bugs aren’t gonna take down this door.

Unless you mean brute force as in guessing codes without superpowered intuition.


I looked down at Atlas. “I don’t have enough brute force, and neither does Atlas.”

Yeah, for a being named after the titan who held up the sky, Atlas isn’t all that strong unless you look at it from a regular beetle’s perspective.

Legend does. We’re on our way. See you in a few.”

But that requires Legend to stop chasing Siberian. Which is both potentially difficult and likely to backfire due to the possibility of Siberian coming after you when you’re closing in on her real body and Bonesaw.

“Right.”

I hung up.

I drew more words in the air with my bugs, near Legend.

‘FOUND THE 9. UNDERGROUND SHELTER.’

Let’s see how he takes this.

As an afterthought, I added:

‘MAYBE CIVILIANS INSIDE.’

Oh yeah, that’s very likely. Though many of them may not be just civilians anymore.

I drew an arrow by the words. Then, to make it as clear as possible, I drew a giant arrow in the sky, pointing down at the shelter door.

Nice.

Of course, Siberian is also going to see all this, probably.

I was going to look foolish if they weren’t inside, and maybe cost Legend in whatever plan he was operating under.

Eesh, yeah, that might be bad. I don’t think that’s going to happen, though.

I could feel him changing directions. He kept facing Siberian, unloading laser blasts, but he was flying my way.

Good dude Legend is on his way!


Siberian dashed forward. I could feel her cutting a swath through the swarm as she ran, the truck in one hand, one corner of it dragging on the ground, cutting a line into the pavement. She leaped into the air, out of the reach of my swarm-sense. I felt something massive collide with the bugs that were in the air around Legend, felt more die as he shot a laser and caught them in the area.

Is this “something massive” the truck? I was just wondering, halfway through this quote, why she still held onto the truck if she saw Skitter’s first message to Legend and had reason to believe he was acting with that in mind.

Hm, maybe that’s why he didn’t act like he’d even seen it.

She’d thrown the truck, and he’d obliterated it.

BOOM.

And that’s the sound of Siberian giving up the bluff in order to stop the assault on the shelter.

Legend shifted into high gear, flying out of reach of Siberian as she lunged for him. He dove, hard, and I could imagine her leaping off the side of a second building, trying to get her hands on him.

Yeah, now she’s going for the kill.


Legend turned my way and flew towards the library. I hurried out of the way, directing Atlas to higher altitude, just in case Legend decided to level the place.

It wouldn’t be the first time he let the Nine drag victims with them in Protectorate assaults, but at least he did seem to care about it, find it a necessary evil. More than I can say for some others.

The leader of the Protectorate had arrived on the scene, and I could sense Siberian on the ground, hot on his heels. He raised one hand, and a laser beam shot forth, splitting into eight smaller beams that bent in the air. They hit the outside edge of the vault door with precision, evenly spaced out, then drifted in a clockwise direction.

Awesome. 😀

The door toppled free.

Legend spread his arms, and hundreds of individual beams radiated out from his body.

Holy fuck and I just thought eight beams being used as a box opener was awesome

Three quarters of them turned in sync to spear towards the library, stabbing through the architecture. Other beams split off to strike through doorways and windows and across rooftops.

Hey! Dude! You’re not the big name hero who should be associated with destroyed libraries!

No less than three struck me.

Ouch.

Yeeah, he’s just going all out here with no regard for control and safety, huh.

Maybe that’s his flaw. He’s been such a good guy so far, a straight up saint by this story’s standards, so it was only really a matter of time before a darker side showed up – I’ve been quietly expecting it. It seems like his big flaw might be a massive disregard for collateral damage when he cares a lot about defeating someone.


I flinched and nearly lost my seat on Atlas, but found it wasn’t much hotter than steaming tap water, and it only lasted two or three seconds before cutting out.

Hm. Maybe creating lots of beams like this reduces the potency of each, allowing him to strike with tons of weaker hits for an increased shot at actually hitting the target.

Siberian had approached close enough to demand Legend’s attention, and he’d terminated whatever it was he’d been doing.

Well, I guess we didn’t kill Siberian’s real body with that. I don’t really expect Legend to get any of the kills anyway. He’s too minor of a character, despite his power.

That doesn’t mean he can’t help out, though.

I turned my mind away from whatever the beams had been intended to do and toward my own contributions to this fight. Had to strike before they got their bearings. I took advantage of the pause to send bugs flowing into the shelter.

Yeah, I suppose there’s a gaping hole in the roof now, huh.


I could count a number of people, young and old. The mosquitoes in my swarm could scent blood.

Probably from Bonesaw operating on them, I’m guessing.

Incidentally, that’s the second time this chapter Wildbow/Taylor has used the verb “scent”, in place of “smell”. I mention that because it throws me off each time. It’s a legitimate use of the word, but it just sounds weird to me.

Twenty or so people were inside the shelter, standing there. There was metal on their bodies, like backpacks or prosthetic body parts, but they didn’t seem to be hurt.

Oh jeez, what did she do this time?

If Mannequin wasn’t back in the blast zone, I’d suspect him of having helped… actually, I suppose she wouldn’t have done this right now anyway, so yeah. He probably helped with this.

Whatever “this” is. Some sort of cyborg-like thing, by the sound of it, but I’m guessing Bonesaw’s and probably Mannequin’s art is more creative than just that.

There were three more inside, but I wasn’t feeling so generous as to call them ‘people’.

Heh. 🔥

They stood apart: two men and a preadolescent girl.

I would’ve liked to see the scene of Siberian’s real body arriving at the shelter and revealing himself to Jack.

It was them. The Nine.

It’s kind of hilarious to me how we’ve never seen the name “the Nine” actually be the right number. The closest we’ve gotten is Hatchet Face being around as part of Hack Job after Cherish took his spot, and since then it’s only gone downhill.

Right here, we have three out of five Nine.


I couldn’t trust my ability to get to Legend and communicate the necessary details in time, and I might even be endangering him by getting too close to Siberian.

Yeah, and yourself, surely. Siberian knows very well that you’re going after the real body.

I couldn’t say for sure how he would really act in the field, but his PR sold the idea of a legitimate good guy who would balk at attacking an enemy with a hostage.

*flashback to Case 01*

I think Siberian’s a special case.

Or maybe he wouldn’t. It could even be a mercy, sparing someone from one of the Nine’s clutches. Siberian devoured people alive.

True enough.

Either way, it was better to try to catch his attention with a written message: ’20 CIVILIAN, JS, BS, SIB’.

I would’ve written out the names more, even if it’d be just “JACK, BONE, SIB”. Faster to read and interpret despite having a couple more letters.


He was too distracted by Siberian to see it. She wasn’t as fast as Battery or Velocity, but she had the physical power to move quickly, and she was leaping between buildings to throw herself at him with the speed and aim of an arrow shot from a bow.

Yeah, and now that she’s actually going for the kill rather than just leading him on a wild goose chase after an empty truck, it’s even more important than before to keep his eyes on her.

I tried leaving another message for Legend, stating the same thing. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw him looking at me. Our eyes met. He nodded, and I turned my attention to the shelter.

Alright, good.

I didn’t want to do this half-assed. No mistakes this time around. I gathered a swarm of generous size, but I held it at bay. There were more preparations to carry out. I drew the capsaicin bugs from beneath my armor and added them to the swarm.

Gotta be prepared!

I wonder if the capsaicin is going to do anything through Bonesaw’s protections.

I drew out silk threads and held them suspended in the air, ready for use. For a final measure, I withdrew a lighter and the changepurse from the utility compartment at my back.

…what? What are those gonna be used for?

I mean, presumably the lighter is for lighting something (silk draped over the Nine?) on fire, but what the hell does she need loose change for right now? Or is she carrying something else in the purse?

Primary swarm in first. As one singular mass, they flowed inside. The capsaicin-laced bugs joined them, going straight for the eyes.

You know what, I’m not even upset that she’s going for the eyes. Fuck ‘em up good, Taylor.


Jack reacted, as did the man, but Bonesaw was unfazed. I saw Siberian flicker. Legend noticed as well. He snapped his eyes to me, and then the shelter.

Looks like it’s starting to dawn on him that “holy shit she might actually take out Siberian”.

The creator needs to concentrate?

Apparently not so much that he can’t drive a truck, but maybe enough that he can’t drive a truck well.

My heart was pounding so hard I felt like it would dislodge me from Altas.

Pfft.

Bugs settled on the three members of the Nine and then they attacked. It wasn’t the sort of attack I’d ever done before. I’d had bugs bite, I’d had them sting, I’d even used them to deliver payloads of their various venoms.

So… what are you doing now? Burrowing? Bludgeoning?

I’d always held back to some degree.

Ahh, so it’s not the sort of attack she’s done before because she’s amping it up?

The only ones I hadn’t held back against had been untouchable. These three weren’t so lucky.

Mandibles bit into flesh, seeking not to pinch and inflict pain. Ants scissored flesh away, beetles tore and rent into the flesh, flies spat their digestive enzymes onto the exposed flesh.

Damn.

That last one would be quite appropriate if any of them had been responsible for what happened to Victoria.

I buried them in every kind of insect I had that could eat, cut or pierce meat. The bugs didn’t eat their fill: they simply bit, chewed, let the food fall from their mouths, then bit again.

She’s tearing them to pieces.

Fuckin’ hell this girl is scary when she wants to be.


Bonesaw’s hands were smooth as glass as she reached for her belt. She was cool and collected, even as the bugs slowly flayed her.

“Eh, I can fix this later.”

Reaching for the bug spray?

I’m guessing Taylor has planned for that. Maybe that’s what she intends to use the silk for – grabbing the spray out of Bonesaw’s hands?

She was stopped short as the silk strands tangled her ceramic fingers.

Close enough!

My bugs could hear her speak. Though I could barely make out the words, I thought maybe the first one was ‘Jack’. She held out her hands.

Ah, she wants him to cut the strings. Better make sure you cut just the strings, Jack, and don’t cut through the girl behind the strings.

I tried to bind him, but tying his arm to his side was harder than using silk cords to lash fingers together. At least partially blinded by the capsaicin, he swiped his knife a few times in Bonesaw’s direction. He cut her several times, and my bugs could feel her flesh part around her collarbone and face.

You failed.

Some of the cuts were on target, however, and the threads around her fingers were severed. An instant later, she was free to put together her anti-bug smoke, working her hands to break the threads as I tried to tangle her fingers again.

Get the thing out of her reach if you can!


Okay. Not the end of the world. The bugs were still devouring the three, and I still had a plan in mind. An idle hope.

What’cha got?

This is basically the point where I’ve almost given up on speculating because Taylor is much more creative than I am with her power and I’m kinda just along for the ride, waiting to see what awesome thing she does next.

I withdrew the tissues I’d wadded in the changepurse to keep the contents from jingling or rattling around.

…alright. How are these useful? Even if you coated them in capsaicin, you’d still need the bugs to bring them there, and they’re probably not as effective as the bugs that way.

My bugs took hold of them and carried them into the air, two or three dozen in all.

I tested the lighter, then held it out to ignite the first tissue.

Ohhh.

Right, of course, the silk wouldn’t work as the fuel for the fire. Spider silk doesn’t burn well, it shrivels. I looked that up way back in Arc 1.

It was a slow burn, taking fifteen or twenty seconds to consume the paper. The flies that carried it died as the flame reached them, consuming them.

Um.

Did she just.

Not move the tissues into the vault as they burned, and then allow them to burn up completely without dropping them on the Nine?

What?

By the time the first was burned, my bugs were positioning the second, allowing it to ignite. In this manner, I chained them one after the other. A slow-moving relay of flame.

I guess this could be used as a beacon, but for whom? Besides, she can make those out of bugs as long as it’s not too dark out.

Bonesaw had her smoke going, despite my efforts to rebind her fingers, and I could feel it murdering my bugs en-masse. I pulled them away and out of the shelter, leaving only a few to track the movements of the Nine.

Probably a good idea. Let’s deal with the smoke first.

Is she trying to ignite the smoke, trying to make the idiom “where there’s smoke there’s fire” blow up in the Nine’s faces?

Except I’m not sure the gas is going to be super flammable like Mannequin’s poison. This is bug spray. You wouldn’t want bug spray to be explosive outside the bottle, in case it got used by a campfire.

I’m just… confused by what Taylor’s doing. But I’m sure there’s a good explanation, one that’s probably way too obvious for my brain to handle right now.


The trail of burning tissues made their way inside the shelter.

Alright, so this train of flames does go into the shelter. Was the first one burning up a mishap?

I ignited the last few tissues and sent them to Bonesaw. I could feel the bugs die as they hit the smoke.

Let’s see how this goes.

Nothing. I swore.

Was she trying to blow up the bug spray? Did I actually get it right?

It had been too much to hope for, that the smoke was flammable.

Huh, I did! Right down to it not working.

Even if the smoke had exploded in the mildest possible way, it would have at least given me a countermeasure.

Yeah, fair enough. It was worth a shot.


He dove straight for the shelter.

Looks like he’s going in. This might not be great, but at least he’s got a better shot at killing the Nine than Taylor does. Or would if this wasn’t a story about her.

Siberian gave chase, and without slowing in the slightest, he raked a laser across the street to render her footing less stable. It couldn’t have bought him more than a fraction of a second, if it even made a difference at all; I could see her placing one foot on a shattered piece of road that wouldn’t have held a squirrel without collapsing.

She used it to kick herself forward, soaring after Legend, hands curled into claws. He was ahead of her by only ten or fifteen feet.

She’s not playing with her food anymore.

The scattered bugs I had at the fringes of the extermination smoke gave me only a half-completed picture. Legend inside, blasting a laser in the direction of the cloud where Jack, Bonesaw and Siberian’s creator were. He grabbed one of the civilians that were standing dumbly in the shelter, only to get mobbed.

Shit, he just activated Bonesaw’s trap card.

She latched onto him, and the others did the same, trying to drag him down. My bugs felt a flash of heat as he used his laser to blast at them and free himself. Another laser speared out of the top of the Library, followed soon after by Legend, spearing up toward the sky.

“I’m getting the fuck outta here!”

I take it “she” is the civilian he grabbed.

He directed another laser straight down at the library, continuing to fly straight up.

That was reason for me to do the same. I rose with one hand on Atlas’ horn, and I drew my phone with the other.

Yeah, you don’t wanna be in the way of those blasts.

I speed dialed Tattletale. Trusting to her penchant for picking up the phone on the first ring, I started shouting before I heard any response, “Something’s up! Take cover and get back!”

Things are getting really intense now, even if it’s not entirely clear why yet.


The stealth bomber streaked across the sky, just as it had before.

Oh shit, here we go. I guess Legend got the message about Piggot sending the bomber to the shelter, went “OH FUCK THERE ARE 20 CIVILIANS IN THERE I GOTTA GET THEM OUT”, then dove in as quickly as he could, only to discover it was too late for the civilians to be anything but Bonesaw’s personal little army. And then it’s back upwards to get out of the blast.

Its payload this time was smaller, barely visible.

Because Bakuda was good at making compact bombs? Or maybe just because there’s fewer of them.

The devastation wasn’t so easy to miss.

Yeeeah.

One Bakuda bomb can create chaos. However many this is? That shelter’s gonna be a total mess. If it even exists after this.

The only word for it was chaos. I could hardly pick out the individual effects as they mingled.

I think I just implied that “chaos” wasn’t chaotic enough.

A cloud of yellow-green smoke being pulled into a spiral around a vortex, which was causing the section of the library that had turned to glass to shatter and implode.

Hm, is one of the effects based on Shatterbird? Although it was glass (apparently one of the bombs turns things into it). Lots of bombs can shatter glass.

The vortex sounds like a tornado bomb of some kind. Possibly based on Stormtiger’s power, if all of Bakuda’s more interesting bombs have to be based on someone.

Not sure who’d contribute the smoke.

There was a flare of brilliant mixed colors I could barely look at, frying a scattered assortment of boneless, faceless, fleshy monsters.

Legend’s power?

As for the monsters, are those created by one of the bombs, or creations of Bonesaw? Leaning towards the former because Taylor can see or otherwise sense them and there’s no mention of metal on their bodies.

One monster made it four steps before being turned to dust. Where the dust touched, more dust was created, until the vortex expanded enough to start pulling it all in, stopping what might have been an endless chain reaction.

Sounds like the middle of the vortex is a super bad place to be right now.

I could see time slowing in one spot, I could see pavement heating into a liquid in another. I could see one area that was serene, untouched, a bubble where a newspaper that had been scattered on the ground was flapping violently with the movement of air.

The serene, untouched area – is that legitimately untouched, or did Bakuda actually manage to make a bomb based on Scion?

Heating into a liquid sounds like the result of Sundancer’s power. Bakuda would just about have time to make that between Sunny coming to the city and Bakuda’s defeat. Though there doesn’t seem to be a sun at the center of the heating.

Half a building was annihilated by the flash of an explosion, and it toppled into the midst of the bomb site. In seconds, it was obliterated and chewed up.

It says something about the chaos here that it’s genuinely possible that “chewed up” is literal.

The effects spread and expanded all down the street, a stripe of this madness three blocks wide, extending into the midst of the blaze from the previous bombing run.

Elsewhere:


This is why using these bombs against Leviathan was a questionable decision.


I drifted toward Legend, raising my hands over my head to show I meant no harm.

“Hey Legend, what the fuck?”

“Thank you for the assistance,” he spoke, when I was in earshot. “Some was misguided or off target, but it did make a difference.”

He’s a seriously good dude. He and Weld. I really like that he acknowledges Taylor’s help and makes it clear that he appreciates it, even though she’s supposedly a villain.

I do suppose he has a lot of experience working with villains in Endbringer fights and the like.

I could only nod.

He put one hand to his ear, then paused for several long seconds. When he spoke, it was vague. “Acknowledged.”

Oh jeez, he’s still got Piggot in his ear, probably telling him not to be too chummy with Taylor or something. If it’s not just “we’re done bombing now”.

I waited, staring down at the disaster area below.

“Crawler and Mannequin observed to be in the blast site.”

Oh, nice, got all of them! I wonder if any of them are going to make it.

I mean, Crawler’s likely to, but even he’s vulnerable to stuff like time stops.

“How did they disengage while keeping them there? They- they did disengage?”

I should hope so. Piggot isn’t that stupid. And if she was planning to deliberately get rid of the heroes in the same go (which goes against a lot of what I said when talking about her and the Incredibles [here]), she wouldn’t have told Legend ahead of time. And there are plenty of other people involved in actually doing this, so it’d be quite easily traced back to her.


“Clockblocker managed to tether Mannequin in place. Crawler freed himself from the same trap by tearing himself in two against the immovable object. It was Piggot who managed to keep Crawler in the blast area.”

Tearing himself in two… that’s actually a pretty creative use of Crawler’s power.

But how did Piggot do it?

“How?”

“She had Weld pass on a message, telling Crawler what we had planned. He was so tickled at the idea that we would be able to hurt him that he stayed where he was while the teams made their retreat.”

Pfft. Nice.

“Just like that?”

“Apparently so.”

“If he survives-”

“He didn’t.”

Woo! The big guy’s down!

The rest are less likely to have made it than Crawler was. Even Jack, with his maybe-plot-armor. We may have stamped out the Slaughterhouse Nine here, most chaotically.


There was a series of smaller explosions below. I could see a section of ruined building glowing red, then detonating in a blast of light that sent a nearby glacier spinning into a patch of burning ground.

…delayed reactions between separate areas?

Also, I like how it took me a while to process that this paragraph mentioned a “nearby glacier” in the middle of a northeastern U.S. cityscape.

“And the other three?”

“Remains to be seen. The civilians are dead, but it’s something of a mercy. Bonesaw’s mechanical spiders were welded to their skeletons, allowing her to remotely control them. Like zombies, only they were aware and in incredible pain.

Yikes.

I expect she had measures to inflict agonizing deaths on them if we attempted to disconnect them from her spider-frames. Maybe I could have saved them, can’t say. From the glimpses I saw of them, I don’t know if they would have thanked me.”

And you didn’t have much time once you realized you had limited of it.

We spent a minute staring down at the devastation.

Judging by how Taylor hasn’t asked what the hell just happened, I’m guessing she recognized it. Especially the time bombs, presumably.

I wonder what exactly killed Crawler.


I ventured to ask him a question, “Can Brockton Bay take this? It feels like it was on the verge of collapse already. Add this mess, the firebombing… can we really come back from it?”

At least this mess and the firebombing is somewhat localized. Doesn’t mean it’s not going to cause an uproar throughout and maybe beyond the city, though.

Also, you say “on the verge of collapse” as if it wasn’t largely collapsed already.

“You know this city better than I do, I’m sure. I like to think people are stronger than they appear at first glance. Perhaps the same goes for cities as well?”

Maybe! Sounds unusually uplifting, but this story isn’t all dreariness and bleakness. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be reading it.

“people are stronger than they appear” is a really good message without bringing cities into it, too. (More good guy points for Legend. All of the good guy points!)

Also, in a more physical sense, it’s a good assumption to make for someone with a career in fighting parahumans.

(#Wander Over Yonder

#not so much a reference as it being the reason for my wording

#lord dominator would like the sort of story i just said i wouldn’t be reading)


“I’d like to think so. But if I’m being realistic-”

I stopped mid-sentence.

Yes, I can see that… but why? Did you just realize what you’re doing here? Chatting with the head of the Protectorate?

My bugs had found a group of individuals on the edge of the blast radius.

Ah, fuck.

Well, at least they got Crawler.

“No fucking way.” I pointed.

Okay but imagine this from Legend’s perspective. :p

“You know this city better than I do, I’m sure. I like to think people are stronger than they appear at first glance. Perhaps the same goes for cities as well?”

“I’d like to think so. But if I’m being realistic… no fucking way.”


Siberian flickered violently as she crouched beside Jack and Bonesaw, one hand on each.

Dammit, of course!

But wait. Is the real body dying because they focused on saving Bonesaw and apparently Jack?

In between the three of them was a man, hunched over.

Oh, okay, so he’s still with them, and may have been protected too for some of the time, but he seems to have gotten hurt. Possibly badly.

Damn, of all the characters to go out with a heroic sacrifice, Siberian certainly wasn’t one I expected it from.

Legend raised one hand, but he didn’t shoot.

I suppose he knows shooting Jack and Bonesaw won’t do anything and he doesn’t want to shoot a man when he’s probably dying anyway.

“Legend?”

“They haven’t seen us. I would like to take out Jack or Bonesaw while they’re distracted and unguarded, I just need Siberian to step away or let go of them.”

Oh. That works too.

The group shifted positions, so the man had an arm around Jack’s chest and an arm around Bonesaw’s shoulders, Siberian behind him.

Group hug! 😀

(I’m kidding, I can tell it’s a matter of support.)

“See that?” Legend asked.

“What?” I could barely make them out from our vantage point. “I can’t.”

“My eyes are better than most. A minor benefit of my powers. The backs of his hands, perhaps you can make out the tattoos? A cauldron on the left hand, a swan on the right.”

Ooh! Well, that confirms one thing – Siberian is a Cauldron client or otherwise related to them – and opens up another major question: What the hell does the swan mean?

I know what herons on the hands mean, but a swan is a new one to me.

(#once the heron

#to set his path

#twice the heron

#to name him true)


Could the swan be a secondary mark Cauldron uses to denote something more specific? Or maybe it’s related to that quest for vengeance that drove Siberian off the deep end according to Lisa?


“I- I don’t follow.”

“No,” he sighed a little. “I suppose you wouldn’t. It does mean we know who he is.”

Ooh, tell me more!

“Someone I’d know? An old costume?”

He shook his head. “A scholar.”

Jack glanced up, and Legend fired in the same instant. With Siberian’s strength, the group of the Nine lunged to one side, disappearing behind cover.

A scholar. Huh. Doesn’t look the part, but sure.

I sent bugs after them.

My swarm sensed other arrivals. The Undersiders and Travelers came from the west, taking a circuitous route around the top end of the bomb site.

Hiya, guys! You missed the show!

Legend fired a series of blasts after Siberian and gave chase, but she was keeping a building between her group and Legend. He stopped where he was, one hand outstretched, and touched his ear.

Do they have to touch the ear when there are incoming messages, or…

I mean, it makes sense for it to be just a habit, but it seems so consistent.


“My teams are on their way,” he said.

“That’s good,” I said. “The Undersiders and Travelers are too. I’m going to go fill them-”

Ah, fuck, he’s not gonna let her, is he. Confidential information.

“We need them to back off,” he interrupted.

What? Why?

“Another bombing?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No. It seems we’re facing the worst case scenario.”

What??

Endbringer interfering??? Except that’d come with airhorns…

Crawler not being so dead after all?

Wait. Didn’t Piggot mention something about a worst case scenario back in her Interlude.

Ah, yes:

“In short, our worst case scenario is the Nine feeling spiteful or cornered, and deploying {Bonesaw’s bioweapon}. When we attack, we need to make it an absolute victory, without allowing them an opportunity.”

Well, fuck.


“We’re winning,” I said, incredulous. “You guys took out two of them, we’ve got them on the defensive-”

“Exactly,” he interrupted me. “We’re winning. And we’ve broken enough of Jack’s rules for his ‘game’. Now I fear we’re about to see whatever ‘punishment’ it was that Bonesaw prepared for us.”

Good jorb, everyone.

Good jorb.


End of Prey 14.7

That was… inconsistent.

I feel like this was… not as tense as it probably should’ve been. Parts of the chapter dragged – admittedly that hurts more than normal because I’m liveblogging – and Taylor’s attack on the shelter was relatively tame because she wasn’t in much actual danger herself, apart from the possibility of Siberian deciding Taylor was a higher priority target than Legend. It didn’t help that I got temporarily confused by the fire tactic, though that may be more on me than on the writing.

Basically, the pacing and tension in this one was kind of weird. It had a long stretch of being… not much in order to set up Taylor being on her own, a somewhat undertensioned assault on the Nine, and a slow (but interesting and mood-appropriate) dénouement.

Anyway, I may sound very harsh on this one, because I don’t usually criticize the chapters this much, but I did enjoy it. 🙂

The climax in particular was great! The spectacle of the Bakuda bombing was very well written. Previously, I was expecting the Undertravelers, or at least Taylor, to get stuck inside it and have to dodge the effects, but this was better. I’m very glad we got to witness it from the outside.

The Nine are down to three members. Damn! But they’re not out of tricks yet, and they’ve still got a pretty harsh one: Bonesaw’s bioweapon. What’s it going to do, anyway? Turn Brockton Bay into a zombie apocalypse? Turn the capes’ powers off? Make all bananas evil? Who knows…

Y’know, maybe Leviathan did the city a favor. He eliminated the water taps as a way for Bonesaw to spread whatever this is. But I’m sure she has her ways. Maybe it’s airborne?

I suspect next chapter might be the dénouement of this Arc and then we’ll find out what the bioweapon does in the Interlude or the next Arc. I doubt we’re skipping ahead to find out in the next chapter.

I don’t really have much else to say, and I should be getting to sleep soon, so yeah. Good night, and see you soon for more Worm!


[postscript]
So the PRT just wiped out a fairly big chunk of the city. That’s a thing that just happened.

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