In which everyone hunts everyone else.
There’s one big question Arc 14 of Worm has left me with: How do these Arcs just keep getting better?
I mean seriously, let’s look back at the progression in this Arc:
- 14.1: In which we got attempted mind games from Cherish and learned that someone among the Undertravelers (probably Trickster) has a potentially lethally upsetting secret. Only one of the weakest chapters in the Arc because the rest were so good.
- 14.2: Solid rescue operation of one of my favorite characters from Siberian.
- 14.3: Epic chase scene, and excellent Amy development.
- 14.4: In which Jemily Piggot is delightfully devious and Amy continues to be fantastic with her latest contribution of Atlas the giant beetle.
- 14.5: Taylor and Weld fighting together nearly seamlessly, big asshole kitty getting some much-needed attention, fantastic tension as the Undertravelers try to escape the blast zone, Taylor learns to fly… So much good stuff.
- 14.6: That Amy and Victoria scene was so good! Honorary mentions: Taylor’s tangent about eating bugs and Regent being beautifully on the ball.
- 14.7: Some pacing/tension issues drag this one down, but the descriptions of the Bakuda barrage was amazing.
- 14.8: AND THIS IS WHERE THE ARC WENT FROM GOOD TO FUCKING AMAZING. The miasma is one of the best concepts Bonesaw could drop on the city and I love it so damn much. Honorary mention: Sundancer’s spiel on being alone and the way it ties in beautifully with what was about to happen to her and everyone else.
- 14.9: AND THEN IT JUST GOT EVEN BETTER (even if I was being a bit of a dunce)
- 14.10: Really good dialogue between Jack and Amy as he tried to get her to betray her morals and join up, followed by a pretty good hallway knife/gun– wait a minute. Jack. Literally brought a knife to a gun fight. Or was it Taylor who brought a gun to a knife fight?
- 14.11: Well that’s certainly a way to go about curing Rachel and Lisa! And then there’s Jack’s parting message and Cherish’s fate.
- Interlude 14: Sierra Interlude? Don’t mind if I do! I had some trouble getting through the earlier parts of the Interlude but once Taylor showed up things got really good.
- Interlude 14.5: LEGEND IS SO GOOD FOR KID WIN. Shame they’re probably not getting another chance to talk. …oh yeah, and the Triumvirate are working with Cauldron despite two of them apparently knowing what’s up. That’s a pretty good curveball reveal. BUT KID WIN GUYS
In short, really fucking good Arc. Quite possibly the best one so far, even!
This was the climax to the Slaughterhouse Nine plotline (though Jack at least will likely become relevant again when we find out how he dooms the world), which has been going for 3.5 (or 5, depending where you count from) Arcs now, and I really think Wildbow nailed it. The miasma was a really amazing way to end this sequence, and I appreciate just how unwilling the Nine were to give in, how much they had to be whittled down before they left – it made it feel like this was an amazing accomplishment by the protagonists even though the core of Nine ultimately got away.
Even if Taylor doesn’t feel that way. Taylor is weird about acknowledging her accomplishments, though it all makes perfect sense with regards to her character.
The Arc title
Everyone was indeed Prey, except maybe the Protectorate. And even they were caught in the miasma.
The Undertravelers hunted Siberian, who hunted Amy. The PRT/Piggot hunted the Nine and the Undertravelers, and when parts of the Nine slipped away from the Protectorate, the Undertravelers took up that hunt (after being Crawler’s and the PRT’s prey at the same time), while Legend was hunting Siberian. And so it went on until the miasma struck and made everyone downtown the Nine’s prey in a sense (not that that’s much of a change from the norm), as well as feel like everyone else’s prey. Jack tried to prey on Amy’s insecurities. Then we had Taylor hunting the Nine again at the end, though they ultimately got away.
Sierra and Charlotte avoided the miasma and even they ended up as prey for the metaphorical ravens.
And, if someone attempts to kill Jack Slash, they will either fail, or do it too late.
Yeeah, nobody succeeded at that. Anyone who manages to do it later in the story will be too late according to Dinah. I’m going to consider this one proven correct.
Due to an accident while writing the End of Interlude 13 post yesterday, I know the title, or original title if it has been changed, of Arc 14: Prey.
Who’s the prey, exactly? After hearing Piggot’s plan, I’m inclined to think it’s both the local villains and the Slaughterhouse Nine. The Nine are at the bottom of the parahuman food chain for a change, being hunted by the Undertravelers and the Protectorate, but the PRT is also hunting the Undertravelers and other local villains.
I suppose there’s still civilians under the Nine on the overall food chain, but the Nine have already been preying on them quite a lot, so that shouldn’t be enough for an Arc title.
…oh. Oh, right.
I was already going to predict that Siberian was going to be in the spotlight next Arc, because of the focus she got in Interlude 13. Of course that ties in with the title Prey. She’s probably the next tester, which means the nominees are going to be her prey.
That doesn’t invalidate the other interpretation, though. I’m inclined to think both are correct.
So is the next Arc going to give the spotlight to only Siberian, among the Nine? The Nine’s numbers have been reduced enough that Wildbow can do that now, especially if they continue being reduced.
No. At the time I was writing this, I still thought the plotline might go on for a bunch more Arcs.
I don’t think the Undertravelers are going to let up on their ongoing assault against the Nine, but Taylor might start being a tad more cautious thanks to Grue’s input. Maybe that’s what ends up saving them from the Protectorate’s explosive backstab?
I haven’t really seen her be that notably more cautious, really. And the thing that ended up saving them was Piggot tipping her hand while making sure they’d all go into the blast zone.
And finally, I think there’s a good chance we’ll finally learn what the Travelers’ deal is. Hell, if my theories on that are anywhere near right, that might even be another reason for the title.
Not yet, but we’re definitely building up to it, what with the massive secret and the Sundancer development. Roll over.
Oh yeah, one more prediction for Prey: I suspect one or more of the minor protagonists is/are going to die to Siberian, or at least get mauled. Maybe even one of the major protagonists. This would mirror the Case 01 video, perhaps even closely.
The Nine have actually been remarkably non-lethal to the named characters. They’ve slayed hundreds, maybe thousands of redshirts civilians, but only, what, five characters whose names we knew? Four of which were incredibly unsympathetic? Though some more may have died in the miasma.
Predictions for Arc 15 before reading the title
This is a hard one. There’s not much to go on as far as where the story is headed next.
It’s possible we’re about to learn more about the Travelers, but I doubt that’s the main plot. Likewise, I don’t think dealing with the Chosen is that big of a deal for Taylor at this point, especially since they’ve lost their leader.
It is also very possible that we’re heading into the second boss battle Arc, though it’d be a bit curious that no strong indication of that (except Eidolon mentioning that another Endbringer strike was due soon) appeared at the end of Prey like what happened at the end of Buzz. If we are heading into that territory next Arc or in Arc 16, I think we’re in for the Simurgh attacking Brockton Bay.
If she does, we might see some of the characters start to question why two Endbringers would attack the same location in a row like that, lending more credibility to Coil’s “Noelle draws Endbringers” theory.
I suppose it’s also entirely possible that the miasma was the boss battle of this section and we’re not getting attacked by all three Endbringers like I’ve been theorizing, in which case we’d be moving into an Interlude Arc.
But that’d feel kind of anticlimactic, even though Prey was a fantastic climax to the Slaughterhouse Nine plotline, and unless the chapters in the Interlude Arc were themed like the ones in Sentinel, it’d call into question why we had two Interludes in Prey. Though that can still be explained by thematics and threads, wanting Legend’s Interlude to be clearly tied to Prey.
So yeah, I’m not really sure what to expect. Let’s see if the Arc title gives me any ideas, shall we?
Predictions for Arc 14: Colony
Colony. That, to me, sounds like we’ll be focusing on the rebuilding of Taylor’s territory and its community for a while. Maybe all the territories, even, turning the city into the Undertravelers’ colony?
But that sounds like a really anticlimactic premise on its own. We may focus on that, but something needs to not go smoothly to make the Arc interesting. It needs more conflict than just “how do we fix up this building”. Dealing with the Chosen still doesn’t sound all that interesting after tangoing with the Nine.
I’m not saying I expect the upcoming Arc to be boring. I’m saying that if I’m right about what the title implies, I don’t really know how Wildbow is going to prevent that. I do trust that he will, though, in some way.
Perhaps the title is less literal. Maybe it’s about the cohesiveness and cooperation as the heavily hurt and fractured people of Brockton Bay band together to defend their colony, their home, against the Simurgh or another threat?
Or maybe it’s a colony in the sense of an additional area taken and controlled from afar? But I can’t imagine Taylor wants to take another piece of territory, away from her current one.
This next Arc is very hard to speculate on, jeez. In any case, I’m looking forward to starting on it and finding out what’s actually going on. See you soon!
Hmm. I suppose there’s one more thing that could be next.
“(…) I’m thinking the biggest issue right now is the man at the top.”
Maybe Colony is about Taylor’s attempt to free Dinah the hard way?