She felt betrayed and she couldn’t understand why.

Stockholm syndrome, I think.

Again, the gun fired.  She flinched, and not because of the noise.  It was like she’d been slapped.

Did he get past the shield?

Then silence.

Silence, no hunger, no pain, no sense of betrayal.  Even Sarah and the wall of light she’d put together were gone.

Seems so. But she can’t be dead, so I suppose she’s just passing out. Maybe it’s a tranquilizer handgun, even?

A flat plain stretched out around her, but she had no body.  She could see in every direction.

Oh! Oh! Dandelion time! Hell yes.

She couldn’t bring herself to protest.  For the first time in long weeks or months, she felt a flicker of hope.

So are we going to get Carol’s triggering here too? Because if so, things are going to have to go back downhill a bit.

Darkness reigned over them for a few seconds as Sarah stopped to catch her breath.

Carol tried to stand and found her legs were like spaghetti noodles.

Watch out for dogs on romantic dates.

She was so busy trying to maintain her balance that she almost didn’t see.

Didn’t see what? The glowing weapon in her hand?

The man who’d brought them the food.  He stepped into the doorway and raised one hand.  A gun.

Oh. Hi there.

Surely you’ve seen the state of your comrade?

The report of the handgun was deafening after such a long time in the quiet room.

Is this where the shields come into play?

Or did Photon Mom’s kids get that from their father? I forget.

But they weren’t hurt.  Sarah had raised her hands, and a glowing, see-through wall stood between them and the man.


So has Carol triggered just now too, after all? Sarah’s got at least three powers, maybe two if the shield is somehow a variation on the lasers, and there’s reason to believe that multiple people triggering at once can cause each to develop more powers.

Although that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be in the same exact moment. The Dandelions seem to plan where and when they’re going to be there to trigger someone, so maybe you could end up with additional powers because someone’s about to trigger?

He’d tried to attack them?  Carol couldn’t understand it.  He was the one who’d taken care of them.  When he’d appeared, she’d been happy.  And now it felt like that had been ruined, spoiled.

Yeeeah, he was never actually caring for you more than he had to to keep you alive, was he?

Time’s up.  Sarah had to know what he meant, now.

They’d spent so long in the darkness, in their own filth.  They’d eaten so little, grown so weak, and now they’d die.  And the thing that upset Carol most was that they would never understand why.

Yeah, sorry, I can’t help you there.

So Sarah gets shields, for defense (along with lasers because pew pew). Carol gets light weapons and the morph ball, to fight back.

“No!”  Sarah shrieked, her voice raw.

The light was so bright it momentarily blinded Carol.  She covered her face with her arms.

Ooh, here we go! Laser time!

So I guess Sarah’s taking the initiative to fight back. Although this is very likely an involuntary, out of control use of her power, as seems to tend to happen with new triggerers.

Also, looks like we’re not getting any Dandelions this time, since Sarah triggered before Carol. Unless we get to see their involvement in Carol’s trigger like with Hana.

When she looked up again, the man was on his hands and knees.  And her sister… Sarah was standing.

Except standing was the wrong word.  Sarah was upright, and her legs were moving, but her toes were barely touching the ground.  She wasn’t supporting her own weight.

Oh right, she got flight too.

She advanced on the man, raising one hand.

Again, that blinding light.  It didn’t burn the man, nor did it cut him.  He reacted like he’d been punched instead, stumbling backward through the doorway.  She hit him again, over and over, wordless cries accompanying each attack.

Punchy lasers!

Carol saw only glimpses of the man’s bloodied body in the split-seconds the light hung in the air.  He was being beaten, pulverized. 

Kidnappers in this ‘verse really need to learn to treat their captives better, to keep them from triggering.

“Carol, wake up.”

Are we back to the dark room?

(Which, to be fair, isn’t always dark, that’s just the best name I have for it so far.)

So is that in the past?

Carol stirred.  She was sleeping so much of the time now.

There was a man in the doorway.  Her heart leapt in her chest.

Not the same guy as earlier?

Then he moved the lantern.  A stranger.

“Time’s up,” he spoke, his voice heavily accented.

“Don’t understand,” Sarah spoke, her voice thin.

So Sarah, judging by what Carol said in the other scene and probably previous mentions I’m forgetting right now, is Photon Mom, though this is apparently long before she became a mom.

“Where’s… where’s the other man?” Carol asked.  She felt almost ashamed she didn’t have a better name for him.

“Quiet,” the man snapped.  He moved the hand that wasn’t burdened with the lantern, and Carol could see a knife.

Is this a rescue? But “time’s up” sounds way too ominous for that.

She gasped, or maybe moaned.  It was hard to tell what it was supposed to be, because it was involuntary and her voice caught, making the sound come out more like a yelp or a reedy shriek.  She shrank back.

I suppose he’s holding that knife in a more threatening fashion than I was imagining.

“No, no, no,” Sarah squeaked, shaking her head.

So is this their trigger event? I suppose it would make a ton of sense for a pair of sisters who have been kept in the dark to get light-themed powers.

If we get to see them trigger, we might be in for some Dandelion action, too, which is always interesting.

“I could call some people, if we organized a search party-”

“Too dangerous when you’re talking supervillains and the numbers of armed thugs on the streets.  Even civilians are likely to attack first and ask questions later, if confronted.  Besides…” she picked up her cell phone from the corner of her desk.  She showed him the screen, “Cell towers are down.  No service.”

Right. Good points. You need satellite phones if you want to do that.

He frowned.  “I- I don’t know what to say.”

“Welcome back to Brockton Bay, Mr. Barnes.”


That Alan! I forgot he was named Alan. So it’s not a new break of the One Steve Limit, though it’s still poorly timed.

So if he’s here, that means Emma’s back too, very likely. I’m sure Taylor will be overjoyed by those news.

(Though I don’t think Taylor ever found out Emma had left in the first place.)

“Carried off by who?  Or whom?”

“The Undersiders.  Who have dropped off the face of the map, in large part.

Oh, so she does know.

What’s this about them dropping off the face of the map? How long has it been since 15.1?

I’ve tried finding them on my patrols, but all reports suggest they’ve spread over the city in an attempt to seize large tracts of territory.  It’s a big city with a lot of stones to overturn and dark corners to investigate.”

Right, fair enough.

Huge tracts of land. That’s why they seized Victoria.

“So Victoria’s missing, now?”

“Or dead,” Carol said.  She blin

ked a few times in rapid succession, fighting the need to cry.  “I don’t know.  I was patrolling, searching, and I felt my composure start to slip.  I feel like shit for doing it, but I came here, I thought maybe if I took fifteen minutes or half an hour to center myself, I could be ready to start searching again.”

It seems like Regent’s power hasn’t occurred to Carol. That’s probably a good thing.

“I wouldn’t beat yourself up over it.”

Still healthier than some of Taylor’s behavior.

“She’s my daughter, Alan.  Something’s happened to her, and I don’t know what.”

“I’m sorry.  Is there anything I can do?”

She shook her head.

I wonder if Alan’s a parahuman or a mundane. Carol’s public identity makes that a little harder to guess than usual.

So far I’d say mundane.

“This is strictly confidential, yes?” Carol stated.  “Between friends?”

“Always,” he replied automatically.  After a moment’s consideration, he said, “Amy must have been terrified.”

Oh, absolutely.

But is Carol going to acknowledge that?

“Oh, I imagine she was.  Victoria went looking for her after she ran away, returned home empty-handed.  I think she was even more upset than I was, with Amy taking so long to heal Mark.  She was almost inarticulate, she was so angry.”

Yeah, uh, that’s.

There’s a bit more to that.

“Your daughters are close.  The sense of betrayal would be that much stronger.”

Ahaha! Really laying on the dramatic irony thick here, are we?

Carol nodded, then sighed.

“Quite a lot to deal with.  I can understand why you’d need some quiet and routine to distract yourself.”

Carol fidgeted.  “Oh, that wasn’t even the worst of it.  Victoria’s been flirting with the notion of joining the Wards, and she went out to fight the Nine just a few days ago.  Apparently she was critically injured.  She was carried off for medical care and nobody’s seen her since.”

Hopefully no one’s told Carol that Victoria was carried off by the teammate of a supervillain with the power to take over people’s bodies.

“I don’t understand.”

“Neither do I.  But we can’t ask Amy, because she ran away from home while Mark called to let me know he was okay.”

“Something else happened?”

“Oh, quite a bit happened.  But if I got into the details of the Slaughterhouse Nine visiting my home, the ensuing fight destroying the ground floor, Bonesaw forcing Amy to kill one of her Frankenstein mutants and inviting her to join the Nine, I think that would derail the conversation.”

The salt is real.

At least she knows that happened. It’s probably a good thing Mark was there.

Alan opened his mouth to ask a question, then shut it. 

Carol smiled a little, “Oh, it hasn’t been pretty.  Addicts and thugs thinking they can band together to take over the city.  The Slaughterhouse Nine-”

Yes, tell me what you know of the Nine, Alan.

Alan shook his head in amazement.

“My husband was gravely injured in the attack, you might have heard.”

You were lucky to have Amy, even if it took her a while to help out.

“Richard mentioned it.”

Now who’s that? One of the partners?

“Head injury.  Could barely feed himself, could barely walk or speak.”

“Amy’s a healer, isn’t she?”

“Amy has always insisted she couldn’t heal brain injuries.”

But… she did. Is Mark covering for Amy?

Alan winced.  “I see.  The worst sort of luck.”

Carol smiled, but it wasn’t a happy expression.  “So imagine my surprise when, after weeks of taking care of my husband, wiping food from his face, giving him baths, supporting him as he walked from the bedroom to the bathroom, Amy decides she’ll heal him after all.”

Eeesh. Yeah, no, she isn’t happy about that revelation.

I mean, sure, she’ll appreciate that Mark did ultimately get healed, I should hope, but the fact that Amy didn’t do it before when she apparently could…