Wait a minute.

I included Charlotte in the Wheel of Time crossover thing because I wanted someone from Worm to be able to channel the One Power subconsciously and only learn about it after ending up in Randland (this would be how they activated the portal stone), but didn’t want to give any of the Undersiders additional powers. In retrospect, though… I totally should’ve given it to Skitter.

I mean, who better to use a magic system themed after weaving than the spidery tailor?

End of Colony 15.1

The Undersiders stick together! I honestly wasn’t entirely expecting that.

This was pretty good for a strategy meeting chapter. I very much appreciate that we’re finally making headway with Taylor and Rachel, and I quite enjoyed seeing Rachel’s reaction to Taylor making her a costume in spite of being told to fuck off. While I’m a little bit miffed we didn’t get to see the others’ immediate reactions, this was the one reaction that actually mattered and I’m glad we were allowed to witness it.

Those stairs are gonna be so worn out if they continue like this, though.

As for the actual strategy meeting part, that went quite smoothly. Alec decided to mess with everyone a bit – though he’s possibly more affected by the whole end of the world thing than he’d like to let on – but we got to a unanimous decision of “fuck Coil” fairly easily.

From there on out we got some strategy talk. It’s still not clear what exactly they’re planning, which is a good thing for their odds early on, but we’re playing secret chess and I’m very much here for it.

The ending line is a little bit iffy. It seemed to come almost out of nowhere, like Wildbow wasn’t entirely sure how to lead the dialogue into the line he had planned to end the chapter with, or wasn’t sure how to end the chapter, period. At least it’s a fairly good line.

Next chapter, we’re presumably beginning to put some of these plans into motion. We may also get more adventures in Taylor’s territory – I’m still fairly sure the chapter title is related to the territory in some way. Maybe Taylor will have to make the choice between her territory and Dinah by the end of the Arc, with her non-subterfuge activities in the Arc helping to build up how much Taylor cares about the territory a bit more?

Whatever the case may be, I’m sure it’ll be good. See you next time!

“Well,” Alec said, chuckling a little, “At least we’ll have something to help pass the time while we wait for the world to end.”

Here he goes again. I’m not sure he’s being entirely honest about how he feels about the world ending anymore. He’s starting to sound like he’s repeating it to convince himself.

…oh, end of chapter. Sure, this works as an ending line too. Seems a little bit forced, maybe, but it works.

“And me?” I asked, feeling a pang of alarm.

“He knows your weak points.  The gaps in your power, your dad, your identity, your morals.  You already know that.”

Right. That might be an issue.

I did, but hearing it said so clearly, it was one of those cases where having the details laid out in front of me didn’t make me feel more confident.

“So this is going to be a different kind of fight,” Brian mused.  “It’s about control and subterfuge.  If he figures out what we’re doing, if we clue him in, he’s probably better equipped than any of our past opponents when it comes to knowing how to deal with us.  If the city gets condemned, we’re boned.  And if Dinah gets her powers back, he’ll be impossible to beat.”

Dinah and Coil’s powers complement each other really damn well. She can tell him where his choices lead before he, uh, starts his free timeline demos.

Control and subterfuge. It’s a chess game against a chessmaster, and the key is to not let him realize he’s playing.

Which ties very well into his power’s weakness, which is surprise attacks that don’t give him time to split the timeline soon enough for one of his copies to succeed/survive. Don’t let him know he’s playing until it’s too late for him to win.

“That’s the gist of it.  Even I don’t know what he has planned for his endgame, here.  It’s looking pretty ugly, to be honest.”  Lisa counted off the points on her fingers.  “The Chosen will be gunning for us, Coil’s got a small army of pretty excellent, well-equipped soldiers at his disposal, he’s got some pretty fucking heavy hitters with the Travelers, the heroes are going to be going into overdrive to establish some sort of control and last but not least, he’s Coil.”

Things are gonna get wild.

“What?” I cut in.

“It’s arguably more expensive to fix the problems here than it is to abandon the city entirely.  Depends on what the consensus is from the President and all the other folks in charge.”

“If that happens, what will Coil do?” Brian asked.

Probably not rule the city, huh.

“Leave.  Start over somewhere else, transporting any resources he can, leaving behind all liabilities.  He might bring some of you with him, offering some hefty bribes.  Somehow I don’t think he’ll bring Skitter.  Even my own currency is running pretty thin,” Lisa shrugged.

Alec in particular might be very, very useful to Coil.

Not sure why Lisa wouldn’t be, though. Even with Dinah and various other information sources, what she can do should be a huge boon.

“He can’t afford to lose you,” Brian said.  “You’re too dangerous as an enemy.”

Oh yeah, that too. Especially since he can’t control what she knows about him very well.

“Oh, I think he’s studied me enough to feel pretty confident he can off me if he wants to,” Lisa said. “Trick is making it a sure enough kill that there’s no chance of it backfiring on him.”

What? I don’t think it’s about ability to off you.

I suppose there is the risk of you setting up something to spread his information if he kills you.

“I don’t necessarily want to end it,” I said.  “I’m not talking about taking Coil head on, and I do want to preserve my territory, if I can help it.  It’s helping people.”

Oh hey, I sure asked that question just in time.

So basically you want to be sneaky about getting Dinah out?

If it’s a stealth mission, don’t do it at night. Coil has two worlds going all night, so if you do this at night, things will go his way where they can. He’ll likely be present at the base himself.

If it’s manipulation… how?

“So what do you want?” he challenged me.

“For right now?  I mainly wanted to know you’re on my side.  I really appreciate that you are,” I said.  I looked at Bitch and repeated myself, “Really.”

It is good to know, yeah.

Still, though. You didn’t really answer the intended question.

“And for the future?”

“We’ve got an awfully small window,” Lisa said.  “One and a half weeks, roughly, before Dinah’s power is back online.  Once that happens, Coil becomes a thousand times harder to take on.

Oh yeah, good point! Her power being on the fritz does help a lot.

There’s the mayoral elections, the question of whether the city gets condemned-”

…oh hey, did you forget to tell the others about that particular tidbit?

Also, can I just say? With the state of Brockton Bay right now, I’m not sure how much of a difference condemnation makes.

Brian sighed.

“Bitch?” I asked.  “I know Coil’s set up your dogs in those shelters, and we’d be asking you to potentially lose that, depending on how this plays out, but…”

“I’ve managed without money before,” Bitch said.  “Smarmy bastard conned me.  Promised me I’d be left alone if I joined the group.  That hasn’t happened.

Huh. That’s actually a good point.

So far it’s actually looking like Rachel is 100% on board here.

Everything’s backwards. I theorize on Rachel being against changing status quo and somewhat on board with Coil at this point, but Alec’s the one who brings up status quo, and Rachel doesn’t even seem to hesitate to go along here.

If he thinks I’ll forget that because of what he’s given me, I’d like to see the look on his face when he finds out how wrong he is.”

Hell yes.

“Thank you,” I said.

I mean, it’d still be kinda cool to have the other Undersiders up against Rachel at some point, but sure, this works very well for me too. The back and forth of Rachel and Taylor’s relationship has honestly had enough major bumps right as they start to connect by now.

“So we’re all in?” I asked.

“It was fun,” Alec shrugged, “That’s why we got into this, wasn’t it?  Easy money, fun, get to do what we wanted.  No pressure, no responsibilities.  It’s become something else.  So maybe we end that.”

…it was, wasn’t it. Fun and friends and easy money.

Let’s go back to the roots.

Taylor’s territory. What are Sierra and Charlotte and all the other people living there going to do if they lose Coil’s support? Sierra knows Skitter is considering going up against her boss, so it might not be too surprising to her, but it might still be bad. Would Taylor still work to run the territory, her Colony?

I suppose I didn’t actually talk about my own stance on prophecy, acceptance and that whole deal.

The thing about that is that as far as we know, Alec is right. This kind of thing depends a whole lot on how time works in the setting, and while Worm’s time mechanics are normally ideal for getting around prophecy (this being why precogs are considered unreliable), Dinah’s specific brand of precognition counteracts that, and this particular prophecy was given with 100% certainty. Meaning she saw this happening in every possible outcome. Unless time in Worm has more to it or Dinah’s power is somewhat less reliable than we thought, there’s literally no way to avoid this, no matter how hard Taylor tries. Any timeline Taylor makes by trying is already factored into the prophecy, unless it involves something like time travel to create a timeline outside Dinah’s scope.

That doesn’t mean I can blame her for wanting to try. It’s admirable, and Taylor has less real reason to believe that Dinah’s power is reliable than we the readers have.

Meanwhile the Triumvirate and Cauldron have been trying to figure out not how to prevent the event, but how to run damage control and reduce the casualties. That’s also a very legitimate take on this, maybe moreso than Taylor’s, though the Triumvirate have even less reason to believe that this is objective cold hard fact.

And so it’s Rachel’s turn, unless we’ve got a couple more paragraphs of Alec.

There was a long pause where nobody spoke.

Nice, Alec.” Brian said.

Pffft. :p

Alec chuckled.  “What?  It’s true.  That Dinah kid said it was.  Don’t pretend it’s not going to happen.  Might as well live it up before everything goes to hell in a handbasket.”

You know, I’m seriously very glad it’s this brand of nihilism. It’s far less insufferable than the “why bother” variety, and actually kind of lines up with my own philosophies, except mine have a somewhat more optimistic bent.

“There’s a chance it won’t,” I replied, my voice quiet.  “And with the sheer variety of powers out there, there’s got to be an answer.”

You know the situation is globally fucked when Taylor is speaking up as the optimist in the conversation.

“That optimism’s bound to be wearing thin by now,” Alec commented.

“Enough,” Brian said.

I mean, to be fair, it’s not the first time she’s done it, but still. If Taylor’s the one holding onto hope you’re probably in a very bad situation.

“Why are you guys freaking out?  Because I’m calling you out on your willful blindness?  The world’s gonna end, and I’m okay with that.  Therefore I’m saying I’ll go along with your plan, whatever it is.  Why argue with me?”

There’s a distinct argument about resignation in the face of prophecy here too.

I’m already reexperiencing the Wheel of Time on the side. That story’s main theme is “it’s not that great to be bound by prophecy” and it has enough on this subject to talk about it for an Age. So, uh…

Crossover potential?

During an exhausting mission in the countryside near Brockton Bay, the Undersiders and Charlotte take a rest by a stone covered with strange markings. When they wake up, they find themselves far from anywhere they’ve ever seen before, unfamiliar mountains visible in the distance. As they explore their new surroundings, they discover a world in turmoil as the Dragon Reborn, savior and destroyer in one, breaks all bonds of culture and inspires wars, scheming and more and creatures of the Shadow advance on the world. And it all only gets worse when the residents of this odd new world begin to have trigger events…

Anyway, Taylor’s not going to stand by idly and watch the world end, whether she can help it or not. She’s proven that kind of determination already.