In one fluid motion, she wrapped her cloak around herself and then cast it out so it billowed.  She had a canister in her hand, whipping it in my direction.

Is that going to work as well when the target’s flying?

I caught it in a net of silk strands buoyed by nearly two thousand flying dragonflies, beetles, wasps, hornets and cockroaches.

Hah, neat!

Now get it out of the way before it blows.

Night watched as the canister floated off into the air a distance away.  I readied two more nets, placing them in the air to the right and left.

Now I want to see pony Taylor play buckball. In the unicorn position, but – regardless of whether she has a horn or not – using parasprites to carry the basket instead of telekinesis.

My swarm swamped Night, catching her alien, angular legs with strands of silk.

Lots of legs, only so much silk.  It wasn’t really working.  It might have been doable if I had a sense of how her body moved, or how the legs bent, but any time I looped silk around what I might consider a knee-joint, it turned inside out, the silk dropping to the ground.

…heh, nice.

Irritating.

My bugs weren’t finding anything I could identify as a sensory organ, no eyes or anything of the like.  Nothing that pepper spray would have an effect on.

Interesting. So how do her senses work? Is she blind, like a reverse ostrich? If you can’t see her, she can’t see you?

Or does she just have visual organs that are completely unidentifiable as such to the bugs?

Okay.  Something else.  I held back with the bugs that had the silk lines, rearranging them as I closed the distance.

The second I rounded the corner to spot Night, she was human again.  She pulled her cloak around herself, glancing around until she spotted me.

“Wait, what, who can see me– oh, it’s her.”

I swallowed, backing away slowly while keeping her in plain view.  My bugs gathered, but not to the extent that they blocked my view of her.

Don’t. Blink.

Fog managed to get enough of himself through the glass that he had leverage enough to break it.

“This power is so hard to use,” Regent complained.  “So much to focus on.”

Do you, through Shatterbird, sense each of the glass shards like Taylor does the bugs, but not get the help of her power to handle all that input?

“You’re doing fine.”

“I’m doing fine because she’s helping.  I think.”

I suppose she doesn’t want to get killed by Night either, even as much as she hates being stuck in there. Whether it’s consciously or instinctively.

“Be careful then,” Tattletale said.  “Don’t rely on her power.”

“Kind of hard not to, unless you want to let him approach?”

Would Shatterbird cease assisting at the most critical juncture, getting us all killed?  It would fit.  Unless she was helping only because she didn’t want to die.

Hm, I suppose that kind of suicidal tactic is also possible.

“I’m going,” I told them.  “Hold down the fort, run if you have to.  We’ve basically scored a victory here, it’s just a question of driving it home.”

I climbed on top of Atlas and flew away from my companions.  If my plan failed, I could fly, but Tattletale and Regent couldn’t.

Regent kinda can, but it’s a bit… dangly.

Better that she chase me with the others having a chance to escape than a scenario where I led her straight to them.

Makes sense.

Shatterbird stopped driving the glass shards at our enemies and began collecting the nearby glass instead.  She formed it into a barrier.  The join wasn’t perfect, and Regent apparently lacked the fine touch the real Shatterbird had, because he didn’t strategically break the glass to make the joints fit better or create smaller pieces to jam in the holes.

You just know Shatterbird is judging him for it.

Fog was slowed, but not stopped entirely.  He seeped through the cracks.

That’s part of the problem with gas people. They’re a bit difficult to block the path of.

Fun fact: I’m actually going to play a D&D character with this ability soon, in a Halloween oneshot my group is planning. He’s a fire elemental, allowing him to squeeze through anywhere as long as there’s one inch of space to pass through. I kinda hope it’ll come in handy at some point.

The high-pitched sound of glass slapping against glass filled the area as Regent patched up the holes by pressing larger pieces of glass over the gaps.  Still imperfect, but it was as good a barrier as we might hope for.

Still sounds like it won’t stop him.

Night had paused.  She’d clearly wanted to use the smoke cover or the distraction of Fog’s approach to attack, but with his approach delayed, she was slowed down as well.

Right, that’s fair. That helps.

I was already prepping my bugs, readying with a response of my own.

I was nervous, I had to admit.  I’d fought against Leviathan, I’d fought the Nine, but Night was never going to be an opponent I could laugh off.

There’s a reason the Weeping Angels are among the scariest antagonists I’ve seen in Doctor Who.

I called Atlas to me.

Time to get a bird’s eye view of her so she can’t sneak behind you?

I would suggest making Atlas keep her in sight, but there’s no reason for that to work any better with Atlas than with the other bugs.

So long as I could see her coming, she wouldn’t be able to maintain that form as she closed the distance.  That didn’t mean her human self was a non-threat.

True, but she’s far less of one.

She was prepared to use any possible method to blind or distract so her opponents would take their eyes off her.  Flashbang grenades, smoke canisters, a cloak that doubled as a net, complete with hooks to catch on costumes and hair.

Ah, right, forgot about that.

Taking flight really ought to help.

Fog was in his cloud form, advancing inexorably towards us.  He had the ability to adopt a gaseous body.  He was capable of making the gas semisolid, even maintaining a crude hold on objects.  If someone happened to breathe him in or swallow that smoke, and he made it solid while it was in their bloodstream, it was capable of doing horrific internal damage.

Ahh, that makes a ton of sense as an explanation for how the internal damage happens.

I hated the idea that I owed my life to Coil, because I hated him.  I hated that he’d turned something I could almost make peace with -being a villain- and he’d turned it into something that I was deeply ashamed of, something that gnawed at me.  He’d used me, and he’d done it to abuse, manipulate and take advantage of a young girl.

I guess this might be the real reason Night and Fog are appearing in this Arc. To give Taylor a reason to think about her past experience with them and the way it interacts with her hatred of Coil, seguing nicely into an exploration of exactly why she hates him.

That irritation had been one more nudge to get me thinking about how I could have handled this.  With every new trick, strategy and technique I came up with, I tended to think about how they could apply to previous encounters, especially those encounters where we hadn’t come out ahead.

Then again, it didn’t last very long. Setting up this entire situation to justify two or three paragraphs of introspection would be kind of overkill unless those paragraphs were really important.

Meanwhile, Taylor is indicating that she’s about to use a technique or strategy she’s learned since Buzz. Hm, what has she learned that would be good against Night…

Hrm.

My bugs gave me a way of tracking Night.  I could sense her change as she escaped the line of sight of both her allies and our group.

That’s not new, so it’s not what she’s thinking of.

I didn’t hurry after her, but I kept my attention turned in her direction as she transformed into that multi-legged, hyper-agile, lightning quick death blender of blades and claws and moved to flank us.

I don’t think we got this much of a description of her monstrous form last time. It sounds pretty cool.

“Okay.  How confident you feeling?”  Tattletale glanced at me.

“I could try my hand at dealing with Night.  Not sure about Fog.”

“Regent?”

What is Alec supposed to do about Fog? He seems like he should be immune to both what Shatters can do and what Regent himself can do, in his fog state.

“That’s cool.”

“Going to see if I can bait them,” I responded.  “You guys get back some.”

“Play safe.”

I suppose it might’ve been more “is it okay if she goes in there”?

Our last run-in with Night and Fog had been ugly.  That had been months ago, and we’d basically lost.  I wasn’t content to simply lose, though.  I’d replayed the scene over and over in my head since it had happened, doubly so since I’d found out Coil’s power.

Oh yeah, since she was told they had lost in the other reality. Or at least had an even more pyrrhic victory.

If he could create alternate timelines and choose the results, and if he’d used his power to save us, what had happened in that other timeline?  Had we died?

I don’t think so, because I was informed that the other timeline was the original version of the chapter before it got replaced. “Still canon in a lot of ways.”

As such, what happened in it needs to be something that could happen at that point in the story and then allow the story to continue. Wildbow may have decided to replace it because he was writing himself into a corner or because it went too dark (I suspect Brian might not have made it out), but I don’t think he would’ve uploaded it in the first place if it completely, obviously broke the story progression.

Point is, that would be a really weird point to kill off the main protagonists as a whole, even if that’s a thing Wildbow might be willing to do at some point. So Brian might’ve died, but I highly doubt they all did.

I started tying him up in silk, drawing the lines out with my spiders and carrying them with flying insects. 

Ah, right, a tried and true approach to invincible enemies.

He didn’t make it halfway to us before stumbling.  A minute later he was caught.  I began layering it on him, thicker.

Nice work.

Let’s hope he hasn’t stolen some talent from a Houdini-esque stage magician.

…I wonder if there are rogues using their parahuman powers for stage magic. I mean, we’ve had one who used hers for a singing career, so why not?

“Victor down.  Othala’s somewhere, only big problems are Night and Fog.”

Last time they went up against Night and Fog, Angelica wasn’t in a particularly great state afterwards.

Which reminds me, why isn’t Rachel here?

Victor.  He was a talent vampire, stealing people’s trained skills, keeping them if he held on to them long enough, and leaving that person temporarily bereft of whatever skill they’d spent their lives learning. 

Keeping them!

This is an awesome power on its own but imagine if he teamed up with Über!

Assuming this power works on skills that are gained through Über’s power, Über would be able to feed Victor mastery over a ton of skills, one by one, in their downtime. Victor would then be able to keep all of them at once.

People like him had a tendency to pick up martial arts, parkour, weapons training and other combat skills.  He tended to pair up with Othala, the girl who could grant powers, meaning Victor also had super speed, super strength or invincibility.

Damn, that’s another good combination. Othala can give him powers, and he can steal the skills needed to use those powers effectively.

If he was wounded, she could give him regeneration instead.

But her power demanded that she touch whoever she was using it on, and it limited her to granting one power at a time.  If he had invincibility, it meant he didn’t have super strength, pyrokinesis or any of that.

Right, good point.

There’s also the time limit on it, meaning that if you keep him away from Othala for long enough, he loses the invincibility.