End of Infestation 11.7

That was a pretty good one. As expected, it was not quite as interesting as the last one, but that said more about last chapter than this one, and this one was certainly not bad. Faultline’s Crew were pretty great in this, especially Newter, Gregor and Labyrinth. We also got to meet Shamrock, who was very cool.

In the end, things resolved peacefully between Lisa’s group and Newter, with every side except the Merchants pleased with the outcome. I quite liked that scene. It also provided us with a bunch more information about Upsilon, which I now know to be called Cauldron. It seems to be far more mercantile than I was expecting.

Judging by the cliff we ended on, next chapter will be about Taylor dealing with Charlotte knowing her identity, and bringing Bryce back to Sierra. That last part means more Skitter and Sierra interaction, which I’m looking forward to, but it also presumably means informing Sierra about what Bryce did to her (I consider Sierra a victim of Bryce’s actions)… Honestly, the only way to go about it that won’t get Sierra upset, however briefly, at Skitter is probably to have Bryce tell her himself, but I doubt he wants to.

No matter what, I expect upset Sierra.

So yeah. That’s all for tonight – see you next time!

Charlotte, Bryce and Sierra.  The civilians.  I still had to figure out how to deal with them.  My heart sank.  Social interaction: not where my talents lay.

Yeah, this is a bit of a mess. And the list of people who know what the face under Skitter’s mask looks like keeps expanding:

  • Brian
  • Lisa
  • Alec
  • Rachel
  • Coil
  • Aisha (even before she became an Undersider)
  • Dragon
  • Charlotte
  • Minor
  • Brooks
  • Jaw
  • Senegal
  • Newter
  • probably Bryce, soon enough

I looked at Charlotte, and she shrank back, as if I could hurt her by looking at her.

Hm. Seems she hadn’t considered the possibility that Taylor would be a villain.

Which was dumb.  It was fairly obvious to anyone who considered my power that I didn’t need to look at people to hurt them.  Not that I’d hurt her, anyways.

Pfft.

She’d done nothing to deserve any such thing, beyond being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And maybe just a little bit obnoxious about Taylor’s trigger event, but she clearly didn’t mean to be and she’s stayed quiet since then, with the exception of reacting to Taylor and Lisa being parahumans.

Lisa grinned.  “And I don’t like her.  But she’s not stupid, either.  She knows this is mutually beneficial.”

And hey, Faultline does generally seem willing to strike deals with people she doesn’t like.

Lisa drew a pen from her pocket and scribbled on the back of one page.  “My number, if you’re interested.”

He took the sheets, looked them over, then rolled them up and stuck them in his back pants pocket.

Lisa just gave Faultline her number. Let the kismesissitude bloom!

“We’ll be in touch one way or another,” he said.

Sounds good to me.

Then he was gone, around the side of the building and up to the roof in heartbeats.

See ya! 🙂

Newter frowned.

Before he could say anything, Lisa hurried to add, “I’m good at figuring stuff out.  I’m a fountain of knowledge.  I want to know more about this stuff, and I could help you guys in exchange for what you’ve already got.”

I think “fountain of knowledge” is the closest we’ve seen to Lisa actually telling someone outside the Undersiders what her power is.

But yeah, this seems like a really good deal for the Crew, though they might not realize how good.

“I’d have to ask Faultline.  She doesn’t like you.”

Oh, okay, he has figured out who Lisa is. To be fair, that’s not too hard given the information that Taylor is Skitter.

I do want to see some interactions between Faultline and Tattle. They sound like they’d have a fun dynamic.

I pointed at the unconscious Bryce.  “An errand.  Didn’t mean to get in your way.  I only grabbed the papers as a spur of the moment thing, and because they would’ve been ruined if they’d just drifted all over in there.”

And of course because Lisa wanted her to, but it’s probably best not to mention that.

But yeah, as far as recovering the papers goes, the Crew are lucky Taylor was there.

“That wasn’t much of a concern.  One of my teammates is collecting the papers as we talk, and I expect she’ll find nearly all of them.  The ones that she could find with some luck, anyways.”

Hah, good point.

Luck is a really good power.

“We’re honestly not looking for trouble, and  I have no problem with giving you these.” I banished the bugs on the paper and stepped forward to extend it towards him.

Yeah, this is a good, peaceful way to resolve this situation.

Lisa followed my cue, offering the others, “Wouldn’t mind copies of whatever you’ve got.”

Hehe, of course.

Charlotte’s eyes widened.  This was apparently her putting the last piece into place.

Yep! I wonder if she’s aware of Skitter? I mean, Skitter’s turned into a much more public figure now, but that’s a pretty new development. As in literally this morning. Charlotte probably doesn’t know about that.

“Ah, Skitter,” he said.  Apparently my having saved his life once and gifting him a paper bag filled with money didn’t do much to ease his wariness.

Eh, it was a truce situation. You guys were working alongside Kaiser too, for example. Granted, saving someone’s life still counts for something under those circumstances.

Though I’ve said it before, having your life saved by someone is less of a sound reason to trust someone blindly than it might seem.

He wasn’t any less guarded when he asked, “Why are you here?”

Besides, either way, Skitter did just interfere with Newter’s goals by catching the papers.

Oh, and yet another reason for Newter not to trust her blindly: He’s working in a Crew that, as a whole, can’t be trusted not to turn on you for the right amount of money. That sort of thing can change how a man feels about trust.

(Relatedly, I’m currently playing a D&D character who doesn’t trust anyone because he himself is a deceptive charlatan and he’s aware of how there are many people like himself.)

“Which is?”

Newter glanced at the papers, “I’d really like to know.”

Still some open questions, I see.

“So you followed us.”

“Something about the way that one moved,” Newter pointed at Jaw with his tail, “Reminded me of some other mercenaries I’ve come across.  Don’t bother shooting, by the way, I’m too quick.”

Ahh. The bodyguard was a little too bodyguardy. I guess he’s figured out they work for Coil, too.

Lisa gestured, and the bodyguards lowered their weapons.

Newter frowned, “I gathered you were mercenaries, decided to spy, but finding you’d taken the papers was a surprise.  Who are you?”

People with an interest in information, just like you.

Lisa looked at me, without a ready answer for once.  I looked over at Charlotte and sighed.  She’d already put some of the pieces together.  She could probably figure it out from here.  

Yeah, and Minor showed no surprise, either. Chances are more of the bodyguards have figured out who Taylor is, too.

I might as well control when that happened, so I wouldn’t get caught off guard further down the road.

Yeah, that’s fair. Seems like a decent idea. We don’t want Charlotte approaching Taylor on street shouting “Holy shit you’re Skitter?

I raised the piece of paper, as if to hand it to Newter, and I directed bugs to cluster on it.  In moments, the half of the paper closest to him was dark with various flies and creepy crawlies.

Heh, this is a neat way of telling him.

Our bodyguards wheeled on the spot, a set of guns training on Newter, where he clung to the side of the building.

He seems to be coming in peace. Especially if he has figured out who Taylor is, he might be inclined to talk it over and explain that the girls should give the papers to him.

They had been covering the possible approach points from the ground.  They hadn’t been expecting trouble from directly above us.

Heh. Bit of an oversight there, considering the group knew they had something Faultline’s Crew wanted and the Crew had Newter, but we can’t expect everyone to think of everything all the time.

“I heard of the Case 53 thing,” Lisa told him, backing away.  “The rest is new.  You work for them?  No.  But you’re related to this.”

I like how Lisa immediately answers herself in the middle of this.

“Gregor, Shamrock and I were test subjects.  Guinea pigs to test the new formulas, so the buyers don’t get fucked.  According to Shamrock, three in five of us don’t even survive.

Ohhhh!

That’s who the redhead was! I forgot about Shamrock, the super-lucky gambler in Vegas, but I do remember her pretty clearly now that the name was brought up.

It seems Shamrock knew a bit more about the whole thing. Is she also how they got the vials in the first place? Assuming of course that stealing from Faultline’s Crew was how the Merchants got them.

One in five Subjects are retained and brainwashed so they can protect the business and enforce the contracts.  Shamrock was going to be one of them, but she escaped.

Ahh, I see.

The rest of us have our memories removed, and we’re released as part of the ‘Nemesis program.‘”

Looks like I had it backwards. The Nemesis program is for the ones that don’t serve Cauldron.

But why do they do that? To normalize the idea of monstrous capes, preventing customer complaints?

“Enough that there’s a whole enterprise here with a private army.  There’s this bit that very politely notes that breaking the rules will get you hunted down and executed by Subjects, capital S.

That would be what happened to the Dealer.

So how many vials did the Dealer buy? Or did he, as I had thought, steal them?

Clients are warned that these guys are entirely loyal to Cauldron, will not accept bribes.  And these Subjects are apparently something different from Deviations.”

I’m thinking Deviations are the Case 53s, and Subjects are test subjects that didn’t become monstrous.

“Cauldron calls us Subjects.  The PRT calls us Case 53s,” a voice said from above us.

!

Newter?

“Regular people call us monsters.”

Ouch.

Somehow “monster” feels more insulting than “monstrous”. I assure you, I’m only using “monstrous” as a value-neutral description for lack of a better one (”Case 53s” doesn’t count, I’m lacking an adjective, not a noun).

What presumably-Newter is saying here does seem to imply that the Case 53s are not Deviations, though.