Endbringer of Extermination 8.3

This was a good chapter, but damn was it bleak.

More than 42 people died in this chapter, and that’s only the ones whose announcements we got to hear. That includes Tattletale, one of my favorite characters, though I was prepared for that due to the overlap between Interlude 8 and this chapter.

I’m not gonna lie: This is not my idea of a good time. I know this is one of the Arcs where people decide if Worm is for them, and if the story as a whole continues being this kind of bleak without lighter points in between, it’s eventually going to start leaning more towards a no. That said, I’m not going to end the liveblog as long as I’m still invested enough to want to continue, which I still am.

(Don’t tell me if it gets brighter or stays this bleak. That’s a thing I’ll just have to see for myself.)

So. The plan is no longer to win, but to survive until Scion – who apparently never stopped saving the world for a moment to buy a damn phone – shows up. I guess we’ll see in the next chapter how that works out for the capes protecting Brockton Bay.

See you then.

“We’re not going to be able to go on with Plan A.”  The words hung in the air.

So what is Plan B?

“This brute is hurt, but we don’t have the resources to hold him down while we hurt him any more.  We’re too tightly packed, like this, and it’s too easy for him to take us down in droves.   Two or three more minutes of this, and there won’t be any of us left.”

So spread out?

Armsmaster turned, looked up at where Leviathan stood, frozen.  He pointed up at the Endbringer with his Halberd.  “We spread out.  The second this beast is free, he’s going to look for a way out, to run and heal up what we’ve done to him.   So we cut him off, we slow him down and keep him from getting to any areas where he can do real damage.

Sounds like a decent tactic.

“Eidolon is going to leave, do what he can to minimize the damage from the waves and ensure the rest of the city doesn’t get leveled while we’re fighting here.  The rest of us are going to slow Leviathan down best we can, take any opportunities we can to hurt the motherfucker.

In just a second, we’re going to organize you guys, put the toughest and strongest closest to this bastard, space out the people who can hurt him, get the weakest ones positioned to pass on word if they see him slip past us.

Let’s hope you have time for all that.

“This is our plan B.  We stall, from here on out we prioritize survival over putting this abomination down, and we fucking pray that Scion notices there’s an Endbringer around and shows up before this city and everyone in it is a memory.”

Well. Not the most hopeful of plans, but since when was this a hopeful situation?

“Listen!” the voice that cut through the shouts and the frantic chatter was authoritative, strong.

Ooh, now who’s this? Kaiser, maybe? Although I’d imagine Taylor would recognize his voice.

Armsmaster.

Ah. I should’ve read another line before pointing out the recognition thing, because this is where it would go if it were Kaiser too.

He had Myrddin, Eidolon and Chevalier just behind him.  People turned to listen, myself included.

A timeout like this is probably a rare occurrence in an Endbringer battle. Better use it for what it’s worth, especially since we don’t know how long it’ll last.

“He’s torn through our front line, he’s taken down some of our best, and he’s deliberately targeted and eliminated most of the capes who were in Bastion’s group.

The heavy hitters, right?

We have precious few left who can take a hit from this creature and survive it,

Oh right, the heavy hittables.

and we’re running low on those who can wall off another tidal wave or block his path.

The last one was bad enough with walling.

Was he mentally cracked?  Was he serious or was he playing around?  I suspected the latter, but kidding around and wasting time in a situation like this?

Does Taylor not remember how Trickster’s power works?

In a second, the cape was replaced by an unconscious Clockblocker.

Hey there!

This makes me wonder what it takes for the armbands to count someone as “down”.

The pane of his helmet was cracked and leaking a trail of blood.  I bent down to examine him, was pushed out of the way by someone else.  Some woman with a costume that outlined her bones, like a really good version of the skeleton costumes you saw on Halloween.

Mrs. Skeltal requires doots.

She began using her fingers to check Clockblocker’s neck, and I couldn’t help but suspect she was a doctor.

Yeah, that or someone close to Clocky. Or both.

“Stay still!” I snarled at her.  When I pressed again, depressing the two buttons with my pinky finger and thumb, she held her arm firm.

I shouted into the armband, “Clockblocker down, CD-6!  Need a teleporter to get him free, stat!”

Ooh, a teleporter, good call. The water won’t be in the way if he doesn’t have to be classically moved through the space it’s in!

The time freezing effect of Clockblocker’s power lasted anywhere from thirty seconds to ten minutes.  How long had we spent, here, since Clockblocker had given us this momentary reprieve?  It was hard to judge the passage of time with the adrenaline, the frenetic pace of the ongoing battle.

In my case, it’s hard to judge the passage of time in general, but that’s my ADD.

Trickster appeared in the place of the blue moon Woman, tipped his hat at me.

Perfect! Now we just need something to put in Clockblocker’s place.

Also, Luna must be so confused. One moment, Taylor’s borrowing her communicator, and suddenly she’s somewhere else…

“Clockblocker, in there,” I pointed with my good hand.

Trickster frowned, looked around.

“I apologize for desecrating your body, brave hero,” he spoke, looking down at where the cape with the trumpet icon on his chest had flopped, dead.  “You do good work even in death.”

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that there are lots of non-living objects the size and mass of a human body lying around.

The armbands.  Armsmaster had said it prioritized orders based on need.

There’s been surprisingly little use of the broadcast feature, honestly.

My left arm hung by my side, and I couldn’t even bring myself to raise it.  Just gravity and the weight of my hand pulling down on it was excruciating.  The idea of pressing the buttons was too much.

Hmm.

I reached for the person next to me, grabbed her wrist.  Some woman with a crescent moon on a blue costume.  She gave me a startled look with a lost, shellshocked expression.  When I first pressed against the communications button, she moved her arm, as if she thought I was guiding her movements.

Should probably have said something first.

For now I’m calling this woman Princess Luna.

“Someone get him out of there!  He’s going to suffocate!” I shouted, my voice made that much more edgier and strained by the pain I was in.  My voice, though, coincided with no less than five other cries, all rising to be heard over everyone else.

Sounds like people are unanimous on this.

But if Clockblocker’s frozen the water around himself in time along with Leviathan, there’s no known way to get him out, is there? Much like with the bugs in Agitation, he’s trapped.

Trap Leviathan, contain him, use more of those grenades to get him before he got free.

Okay, so not unanimous. Never mind that part.

But yeah, if they can find a more permanent method of containment before he unfreezes, that would be really good.

Someone was even shooting arcs of lighting at Leviathan’s frozen form.  Too many commands from too many people who hadn’t fought with or against Clockblocker, who didn’t know how his power worked, who had conflicting ideas on what we had to do.

Yeah, that’s an issue too – lots of these people don’t know Clocky’s power.

This chaos would fuck us over, keep us from accomplishing anything before Leviathan got free.  We needed order, and most of the people who could have given it to us were out of action or nowhere nearby.

…Taylor, you were looking for a way to help, right?

Damn, if we’re actually resolving this by way of Taylor taking charge of the situation, that’s pretty close to something I considered jokingly suggesting a couple chapters ago: That Taylor would find herself organizing the efforts.

(That would’ve been an extension of the MLP:FiM reference I made back in 8.2 – I was comparing Taylor trying to figure out how she could help against Leviathan to Twilight Sparkle trying to figure out how she could help wrap up winter without magic, and Twilight ended up organizing the project.)

A stab of pain from my arm reminded me I was hurt.  Fuck, it hurt a lot.  It throbbed, and each throb seemed to be worse than the last.  I felt shaky as I used my good arm to stand.

Leviathan didn’t make noise.  I kept expecting a roar, or hiss, or something, but Leviathan was dead silent.  I somehow imagined a victorious howl as he broke through the barrier, crouched, and lunged into the crowd.

Ah, yeah… I guess that’s what happens when he doesn’t have a mouth.

He stopped, and I thought he was using his afterimage, halting so it could rush forward, but even the watery echo stopped a second after it appeared, only the very edges of it continuing forward to crash violently against the sides of the alley.

Huh.

For several long heartbeats, it was nearly quiet, but for the sound of rain, people’s noises of pain, mine included, and the sound of one of Kaiser’s iron columns ripping free of the wall and falling atop a pile of blades.

So, uh. You good there, Leviathan?

How’s your day?

Want some, uh, tea?

It took me a second to realize what had happened.  Leviathan hung frozen mid-pounce, and his emerging afterimage similarly stood there, frozen in time.

Oh shit, did he forget about the time bubble? Or does someone in the crowd have a time– CLOCKBLOCKER

Clockblocker, you beautiful bastard! Good job!

In the midst of the afterimage was Clockblocker, half-immersed in water.

…well, that’s probably not the best place to be once the effect of this wears off. I think this might count as a heroic sacrifice.

Just, one with a delay.

Kaiser – I hadn’t even seen him in the group – erected a latticework of blades across the front of the alley, between us and Leviathan.  It wasn’t enough.

It was a nice try, at least.

Leviathan tore through them like I might tear through a wicker basket.  Edged pieces of steel spun through the air and clattered to the ground.

Unfortunately, “nice try” isn’t enough against this overpowered motherfucker.

Kaiser changed tactics, creating columns of steel instead, each three or four feet across, harder to shatter.  They were slower to emerge, but they bent rather than broke.

Nice! Essentially huge prison bars… at least it sounds like they’ll be a bit sturdier.

Leviathan responded by pushing.  He exerted his full strength on the barrier of blades and the columns, leaning against them.  The walls broke around the base of the columns, and the pieces of steel fell.

Dammit.

I was shoved back – not by the water itself, but the tide of bodies that were struck, crushed and thrown by the afterimage.

Dominos!

…I don’t know, I’m just trying to find some kind of brightness in here.

As I was pushed backward, hard, I was spun by an impact at my shoulder.  My arm slammed against a windowsill, and it exploded with a sharp, jarring pain.

Ouch!

I landed on my back, saw someone else get sent head over heels over the crowd, colliding against the wall with an audible cracking sound, landing limp as a rag doll, a matter of feet from me.  He had a trumpet and a flag on his chest.

That, uh, doesn’t sound very promising for Trumpetflag.

Escutcheon deceased, CD-6.  Herald deceased, CD-6.

Trumpetflag wasn’t good enough for you, eh, Herald?

I’m honestly surprised that attack only killed two people.