Between: 17.8

Asks!

You mentioned Savior of the Dreaming Dead but have you ever listened to Savior of the Slamming Jam?

On occasion, when it’s come up on LumiRadio. It definitely lives up to its title.

Doesn’t work quite as well as Theme of the Slam Jam though.

“The seagulls scattered as he approached. He saw a white feather that had been left behind, ground it under his toe as he might one of his cigarettes.” – I’ve always liked this moment. Sure, seagull feather, right? But there’s another source of white feathers we know about; big lady, lots of wings, terrifying precognition. This is definitely not one of her feathers because she’s presumably hanging out in orbit right now . . . but it’s possible *she planned for this to happen as a reminder*.

Ooh, that’s a nice little parallel!

krixwell-liveblogs.com/2019/02/23/between-i11g-i11h/ ctrl-f “nomadic” – good predictions! Got any predictions on where their storyline is going?

[excerpt from the linked post]

It’s clear that they’ve been through a lot together. The question is just what.

Maybe they’ve been pursued by some sinister group or entity, that they’ve been fleeing from under the guise of being “nomadic”. Perhaps Coil, besides helping them with Noelle, offers them protection?

Or maybe they’ve had trouble with an Endbringer or something, sticking together during such a situation? I’m not sure, an Endbringer attack sounds a bit too… singular and isolated. Not the sort of situation that would cause people to promise to stick together forever. …although maybe I’m looking at the wrong point in time. Maybe it’s more that they were having trouble after an Endbringer attack, barely surviving together in a wrecked city much like Brockton Bay (except I doubt it’d be Leviathan’s work, so perhaps more characterized by lava than water, or by insanity and/or aggression).

I don’t think their past troubles were with the Slaughterhouse Nine. Crawler coming to Coil’s base would probably have prompted more of a reaction from the Travelers before Noelle turned out to be at the core of it.

Hm. I can’t remember if I said this before or after someone pointed out that the Travelers indicated they’d tangoed with an Endbringer before in 8.2.

Either way, I was pretty on the money here, yeah! The fact that they couldn’t separate for fear of never getting home without each other fills in the blank of why such a one-off event would keep them together.

Also, the part about the Travelers being pursued by some group eventually evolved into me calling that ill-gotten Cauldron vials were involved, though they proved to be less actively hostile to the Travelers than I believed. Which of course is very suspicious when combined with hints that Cauldron might be responsible for the Endbringers and the knowledge that Cauldron wanted Coil to succeed at something unspecified. Very likely Cauldron alerted Coil to the Travelers in the first place.

It seems kind of obvious that at least some of the main cast will be cloned, with slightly different powers. Before we see it, what do you predict for the Undersiders and the heroes?

Focusing mainly on direct prime-vs-own-clone matchups (unlikely to be all of them given that this is Wildbow and he’s bound to play things a little smarter and less traditionally than that) for simplicity’s sake, because otherwise we’d be here all week with different matchups:

  • Skitter vs Worm: Skitter is very likely to have to deal with a copy of herself, resulting in a tug-of-war for the insects, which the clone would likely have an upper hand on with however the power changes. It’s a little close on the heels of the insect box, but that was mindless. The clone would be actively using the bugs. However, Skitter is adept at handling situations that disable her power and/or pit her up against a stronger enemy with smarts, and the clones appear so far to have slightly lowered intelligence or perhaps a form of tunnel vision. Skitter Prime will likely manage to outsmart her clone.
    • I wonder if the power boost might be an increased range? It could be tied to the traumatic power boost from situations similar to the trigger events, for those who have that…
  • Tattletale vs Nevermore: This depends a lot on how the cloning affects intelligence, and how much her power is boosted. At worst we risk an evil Lisa with nearly Simurgh-like knowledge at play, at best someone who can know a hell of a lot at a glance but has no creativity in using it. Not sure we’ll see this one.
  • Grue vs Delighter: Delighter is scary because he’d have Grue’s second power too, and the boost may very well be to that part of the powerset. Grue and Skitter would be unaffected by excess darkness, but Delighter pulling powers from other people or even from other clones (complete with the boosts) would make him a force to be reckoned with. Good drama potential too if you pit Skitter up against him.
  • Regent vs Impulse: Well… Regent is a very powerful Master and we do risk the power boost cutting down how long it takes for Impulse to take someone over fully. Which means on top of the clones themselves, the rampaging horde would have the means of recruiting some of the good guys.
    • Let’s just… hope really hard that Noelle doesn’t get her hands or other assorted animal bits on Shatterbird.
  • Bitch vs Cerbera: As I already pointed out in the Arc Thoughts, Bitch’s clone(s) would probably be relatively harmless because she needs loyal dogs. I don’t believe Rachel’s doggos will be fooled by Cerbera, naïve though they may be. I guess Cerbera would just end up running around causing havoc by empowering random dogs, who promptly freak out?
  • Imp vs Blankspace: The most forgettable fight ever.
  • Ballistic vs Yeet: Hoo boy things would go flying everywhere.

Ultimately out of the Undersiders I think we’re most likely to see clones of Skitter and Grue. Among the Travelers, Krouse’s clones have been implied to be a nuisance, so maybe we’ll get to see that in action?

Very likely, Noelle will also get to some of the Wards, remaining Protectorate members and possibly Sundancer (because damn that power could potentially wipe out significant chunks of Brockton Bay if wielded by someone who would want to do that — I believe we’ve only seen a fraction of Sunny’s true power, and then Noelle would boost it somehow… big problem right there).

We’ve also yet to see if her power works on people without powers and whether that might create powers instead of empowering them (see my speculation in 17.8 about whether the effect is related to second triggers, which might still be a thing even if it’s applied to a clone rather than the prime).

So now that you finally know Noelle’s power, does Trickster’s comment from 13.5 make more sense? “If Noelle used her power in this battle you’re talking about, *everyone* loses.” [In reference to deploying Noelle in their ambush of the Slaughterhouse Nine.]

y i k e s

and lo the prophecy came to pass: everyone did a great job except Cody

Pffffft

cody

🦀🦀🦀 CODY IS GONE 🦀🦀🦀

*squints*

So do you think Cody is still around somewhere or did he live to the ripe old age of ‘died offscreen’?

I mean now that Browbeat took a retcon to the knee, who else is going to show up out of nowhere to save the day at the end of the story?

But yeah, an off-screen resolution to a conflict like that is always suspicious, and characters from backstories popping up, having unresolved beef with you is a tried and true storywriting practice. Especially with Ballistic possibly becoming an Undersider we’ll need to keep an eye out for Perdition, though most of Cody’s beef is obviously with Krouse.

It’s a shame Coil died, he was doing such great work on the Noelle situation. (NOTE: THIS MESSAGE IS SARCASTIC)

Yeah, sheesh, Taylor, what the fuck!

It’s not confirmed, but “Noelle ate 40 people and Trickster covered it up” is a good candidate for the “page 325” secret from Prey 14.1.

Oooohhh, yeah, that tracks. The 325 did come to mind while writing my Arc Thoughts, but I didn’t end up writing about it because nothing really came to mind. But yeah, there might be some dissension in the ranks if they found out about that little incident.

Who would you most like to see evil mutant clones of?

Realistically? Grue and Sundancer, for reasons I went into above.

If I get to pick from anyone, though…

  • I wonder how it’d manifest in a tinker, so let’s throw Kid Win in here.
  • Eidolon would be an enormous and awesome threat.
  • We don’t need evil Amy powerwise because we already have Bonesaw, but it could have interesting psychological effects on Amy Prime.
  • Greenfire’s clone goes around making people’s faces unsymmetrical, needs to be stopped.
  • Scion. Let’s flip that theme of canceling disturbances on its head. (Probably immune to the power, but this is the unrealistic section.)

A few hints were made earlier in this arc to something being wrong with Noelle *before* everything went down. Now that her identity and power has been revealed, care to speculate on what that might have been?

I suppose I never spelled it out, only implied it, but I have believed for quite a while now (since 17.3 and “She’s not modest. She’s damaged.”) that Noelle has experienced sexual abuse in her life, possibly inflicted by a parental figure.

That informs a lot of why Noelle is so averse to anyone seeing her body (like, prior to half of it turning into an eldritch monstrosity), why she and Krouse never did Things while they had the chance, part of why Krouse has this sense that he knows Noelle on a deeper level than any of the others (especially the boys) do, etcetera, and adds even more uncomfortable connotations to clone-Perdition’s “she was mine and you ruined her” attitude and to the fact that it’s specifically her lower body that has been changed.

She was described as “spitting out” the clones. I have a suspicion of how and where that happens — wherever that particular part of her body ended up, anyway.

Good news! At your current rate, you’ll finish the book around 2028!

Well… it’s not the worst liveblog ETA I’ve ever seen…

By that “same state” remark are you under the impression that Brockton Bay is definitively in Massachusetts? That wasn’t actually stated & the location is the subject of considerable debate. You might be thinking of the real-life city of Brockton which isn’t even on the ocean. There are various theories based on different bits of evidence (such as S9 movements) but it’s all contradictory, indicating wildbow didn’t have a specific state / location in mind.

I’m aware that the location is up for debate and Wildbow didn’t base BB on a specific city, but there’s enough evidence pointing to Massachusetts for me to treat it as practically confirmed.

I found out about Brockton in the same chapter I learned Brockton Bay’s name, and while Brockton Bay might not literally be where Brockton is (which it still could be, if we invoke alternate reality shenanigans for a slightly changed coastline, though admittedly alternate reality shenanigans can go against almost any argument like that), it’s very likely that Brockton was an inspiration for the name, which is one of many circumstantial pieces of evidence pointing towards that general area.

One of the biggest things pointing me towards Massachusetts over some of the other nearby locations I’ve seen suggested is the way the coast is portrayed. Brockton Bay very clearly has a north-south coast and its own bay (suggesting it’s not on the side of another bay), which rules out most of the Connecticut and Rhode Island locations unless we’re doing the alternate coastline thing.

Another approach to the Brockton problem is that the Wormverse’s Plymouth may have been named differently, ending up hogging the Brockton name instead of an inland settlement. Again, I’m aware the city isn’t based on a specific city, but if it’s in the location of a specific city, I’ll say Plymouth/Kingston. I mean, look at this bay’s shape and tell me that’s not excellent for Brockton Bay?

MaxthonSnap20200428232758

So yes, unless I run into a part of the story where it causes trouble for me, I’m rather content to assume Brockton Bay is in Massachusetts.

Now that you’ve seen Noelle’s power in action, do you have any suggestions on what her Cape Name should be?

Hmm… The first thing that comes to mind, besides jokes about the Dewitchery Diamond from El Goonish Shive, is Mother. But that’s probably taken in-universe.

Splinter? Devilshard? Thinking HC Andersen, Ice Queen, here. Although that doesn’t capture the cloning, just the idea that the clones are more malicious. Maybe save Devilshard for someone who affects people’s perceptions so they see the worst in everything.

Ward is now in its epilogue chapters, FYI. Wildbow says the next serial he’s going to do is something in the Pact universe.

Neat! Good job, Wildbow!

Pact is very likely to be the next thing I read from Wildbow either after Worm or after Ward, and that is easily the longest-term plan I have for anything in my life.

Out of boredom I tried Googling “llewxirk” (“krixwell” backwards) and the first hit was a listing on a Swedish shopping site for a leather purse. FURTHERMORE the manufacturer of the bag is a Danish company. What have you been hiding from us? How deep does this go?

It’s Scandinavians all the way down!

(good timing, by the way — one of my server-specific nicknames on Discord right now is “llexwikr”, which is not quite “krixwell” backwards for reasons some of you might have delved deeply enough to figure out)

They know about the bag. Abort the mission. Shut it all down.

???

What bag? I am quite certain there is not, nor has there ever been, a bag on this liveblog.

*wink*

*very confused follow-up wink*

Wildbow really missed a great opportunity to do a “Travelers all get sick from foreign strains of influenza” arc.

Or the other way around. Maybe that’s why the Simurgh brought them, to spread a disease the Earth-Bet population wasn’t immunized against.

Alternatively, maybe Earth-Aleph is going through covid and the Simurgh is just helping the Travelers socially isolate from everyone else.


Just got spoiled that there’s a Worm character called Weaver, in a politics channel of all places. I know nothing about them beyond the name though, so it’s pretty much the smallest kind of spoiler.


Fanart and other memes! Wait…

IfNOKNP

By winkle92.

Ahh, this series! I really like the minimalist style of these pieces and it works so well for Noelle. It’s like all the buildup, where we knew just enough to get a sense that something was horribly wrong, but exactly what was left in the dark.

tumblr_q9500kKsx01x6xy7mo1_1280

By CPericardium.

Aww, you’re doing great, honey.

(Look at that lovely smile in panel 2!)

tumblr_q950gafwoV1x6xy7mo1_1280

By apfii.

I kind of love how to anyone lacking its Worm context, this would look like a really bizarre choice for the Inktober prompt “divided”.

And while the main attraction is of course the fleshy bits with animal parts all over the place and that’s really well done, this is my favorite part:

MaxthonSnap20200430190926

“Oh, dang it!”

o12bcf8806n31

By BenswFrenefits.

On Earth-Bet, everyone loses.

q903c41svpi31

By BenswFrenefits, titled “TFW a gang of shitty teens easily outsmart and kill you”

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH

tumblr_q952h4o2D11x6xy7mo1_1280

By Pabel and Nine.

The kiddos!

Pabel and Nine does such a good job of making characters look sharp and unique within their style. 🙂

Marissa there is #goals and I’m not even sure how.

tumblr_q952sqge2N1x6xy7mo1_640

By Pabel and Nine.

I don’t think this is quite the direction things were going with Noelle’s lower half in canon, but I don’t care because I really like this cartoony look.

MaxthonSnap20200430195106

MaxthonSnap20200430195132

Whomst?

tumblr_q952x9dYNP1x6xy7mo1_640

Hah!

That finger? That’s Krouse.

tumblr_q9530dv5RK1x6xy7mo1_640

Nomnomnom.

https://imgur.com/a/3t5eSuQ

https://imgur.com/a/3t5eSuQ

Comic by glowspiders.

Director Jemily Piggot drives a hard bargain…

Vista is a great inclusion here on top of everything else. 😛

https://imgur.com/gallery/GpbiO9S

Another comic by glowspiders.

I love everything about this. Overdramatic Krouse is the best. 😛

tumblr_q954p0bNTV1x6xy7mo1_1280

By GroceryStorePhobic.

Oh damn, this style is so good! I love how it accentuates the horrors of Noelle’s situation, both for her and the people around her.

tumblr_q954xicmwU1x6xy7mo1_1280

[Discord screenshot]

The Cooler Daniel:
[image of Apfii’s art of Noelle from above]
hey guys what emotion does this image make you feel

Trickster:
lust

The Cooler Daniel:
anyone else

Ahahaha

v2blKTm

By cannikko.

Crawler’s just out here living his best life with Jack’s trusty blade.

3srnapymldu41

By CPericardium.

To be honest, I’m not sure I got this one. It took me a while, but my working theory is it’s about Coil making sure Noelle heard what happened via cellphones?

tumblr_q99d3popQO1x6xy7mo1_540

By comfortable-regret.

I feel like the artist’s name really encapsulates the feeling this style brings. Very nice. 🙂

8k6tc5ep8bs41

By comfortable-regret.

Take a moment to think of just
Flexibility, love and trust…


In the interest of clarifying a bit why I think of the story as divided into “books” to some extent, here’s how I view the structure so far and what each Arc contributes to the overall plot:

 

  • Book 1:
    • Gestation: Establishes the story’s premise and main characters, pretty standard opening stuff.
    • Insinuation: Ensures Taylor becomes part of the Undersiders, establishes her plans of infiltration. Establishes Coil as a mystery. Interlude 2 establishes Amy, Victoria and the Empire 88.
    • Agitation: First real mission as a villain for Taylor. Establishes several villains that become important later, most notably the Slaughterhouse Nine and the Endbringers, and in the same scene establishes the “all against the asshole” behavior seen in the case of Endbringer attacks or particularly status-quo-threatening villains. Lays groundwork for Tattletale’s eventual takeover of Coil’s enterprises. Establishes the heroes of the city, wrapping up with an Interlude to delve a little deeper into them. Also establishes the Manton effect, and by extension implies William Manton.
    • Shell: Establishes Taylor’s and Brian’s backstories, as well as the concept of trigger events. Introduces Kayden and Theo. First real showcase of how tinkers work and the fact that they can sometimes create things that mimic other capes’ powers. First death of the story, establishing Wildbow’s willingness to kill off characters (even if the first victim was an extra).
    • Hive: Showcase of the “all against the asshole” behavior. Introduces the Travelers and gives us our first meeting in person with Coil. Ties up the plotline surrounding the Azure Booty Borkers and Lung. Establishes Cauldron as a thing that exists, and second trigger events as a concept.
    • Tangle: In which the Undersiders move up from fighting the junior heroes to taking on the adults, and do so rather effectively, showing their development. Furthers the downward spiral of Armsmaster and Taylor’s relationship. Introduces Aisha in person (previously only mentioned, in Shell). Brings the subterfuge plot to a head with Taylor making the Decision to stay with the Undersiders, which also brings her to a complete break from her civilian life with Danny and school. Reveals Coil’s role and brings the Travelers in as coworkers.
    • Buzz: Payoff for the setup involving the Empire 88. Significant progress between Taylor and Rachel. Sinks Braylor for the time being. Establishes Dinah, which shakes Taylor enough that she leaves the team. Establishes Dandelions.
    • Extermination: Final boss of the book. Showcases the “all against the asshole” behavior on a grander scale, as well as just how much of a threat the Endbringers really are. Leaves a massive impact on the state of Brockton Bay, both physically and parapolitically. Reveals that Sophia is one of the Wards, upsetting Taylor and bringing a deeply personal blow to the idea that the heroes are always the good guys. Brings the subterfuge plot to its end phase by way of Armsmaster outing Taylor as a final act of spite after the Undersiders reveal his attempt to sacrifice villains to take down Leviathan on his own. Establishes how the Undersiders, particularly Lisa, came to work for Coil, what Coil’s power is, and Noelle. Reveals that the whole subterfuge plot was to some extent Lisa’s intent.
  • Book 2:
    • Sentinel: Provides an update on how Brockton Bay fares after Leviathan, develops the Wards, establishes that the Slaughterhouse Nine are around.
    • Parasite: Reveals the true extent of Alec’s power, sets Dragon on the scent of Taylor, and shows her nature as an AI. Provides the Undersiders and Coil with intel. Establishes the territories.
    • Infestation: Introduces Skitter’s territory. Deals with the Merchants, showcasing just how awful the rats infesting the wreck of Brockton Bay can be. Informs the Undersiders that Cauldron is a thing and powers can be bought. Introduces Sierra and Charlotte as Skitter’s first employees.
      • Infestation Interlude marathon: Introduces each of the Slaughterhouse Nine and develops the people they picked (and Dinah). May have included a major event if my Theo-ry is correct. Sets Amy on her downward spiral.
    • Plague: Establishes the game-like spin on the Slaughterhouse nomination. Shows Taylor having to juggle Danny’s safety, the Slaughterhouse Nine situation and her territory, especially with Mannequin attacking her territory directly. Reinforces Taylor’s guilt spiral. Eliminates the Merchants and provides further detail on how Cauldron works. Shows Noelle’s upper body.
    • Snare: Turns the tide against the Slaughterhouse Nine and sets things up for their grand finale and the subsequent Protectorate offensive against the Undersiders. Traumatizes Brian again, cashing in on second trigger event setup. Braylor resurfaces. Puts Shatterbird under Alec’s control.
    • Prey: Puts the Slaughterhouse Nine on the defensive and removes most of them from the picture, reveals that Siberian is connected to Cauldron. Reveals that Cauldron has allies in the Triumvirate but they and two of the Triumvirate are keeping things from Legend. Creates Atlas. Furthers Amy’s downward spiral. Pushes Taylor so far on the Slaughterhouse end that she all but gives up on her territory for a moment.
    • Colony: Ramps up the antagonistic role of Coil, leaves Taylor unsure how far she can trust the Travelers. Wraps up Amy and Victoria’s story, landing Amy in the Birdcage. Provides a massive history lesson about Alexandria, Cauldron and the Endbringers, and reveals Dauntless. Solidifies Braylor. Brings Parian into a sort of half-cooperation with the Undersiders, as well as Victor (less voluntarily so).
    • Monarch: Cashes in on the Protectorate’s desire to take out the Undertravelers, a challenge directly tied to their territories. Illustrates how effective they have become, and how well Taylor works as a leader of the team. Depicts the final stage of Coil’s plans, which he proceeds with despite harm to Taylor, dispelling any notion that he cares about her, and finally takes him on head-to-head as an antagonist. He dies, providing another major paradigm shift for the story.
      • Mirrors Arc 7 in that it takes conflicts that have been set up in the book and wraps them up before unleashing a bigger threat that has also been given some focus.
    • Migration: Provides the backstory for the Travelers. Establishes the exact nature of Noelle’s threat and the Simurgh’s stranglehold on the timeline.
    • Queen: Final boss of the book. Might destroy Skitter’s territory, if not the whole city?
    • (Arc 19: Might function as an epilogue of sorts to book 2, as I know there isn’t much of a timeskip between Queen and that.)

There is an argument to be made that maybe the Slaughterhouse stuff is its own book, but it’s worth noting that a lot of what’s happening now has build-up that started right around the same time the Slaughterhouse stuff did, right after Leviathan. The territories, working with the Travelers, Noelle, Cauldron, all of those things have been throughlines since Arc 10, and that makes it feel to me like we’re in the endgame of a book that started with the Slaughterhouse Arcs, rather than a separate small book for Coil.

This is also why I fear for Skitter’s territory in particular. She has spent almost the entire book building that up, and now a near-Endbringer-tier threat is running loose. She may have to defend her work one last time.

Honestly, though, it would probably be more interesting if the territory survived.

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