Arc Thoughts: Parasite

Parasite, Arc 10, was Regent’s time to show us what he’s actually capable of, for better and for worse. It tells the story of Regent’s control over Shadow Stalker and what the Undersiders were up to then.

It was also the beginning of the heroes’ efforts to pull Taylor out of the dark side getting stepped up, after Armmaster revealed the secret that she could be. The Arc was about Regent, but it was just as much about Dragon – the terrifying sysadmin, the bargainer, the watcher, the restricted intelligence. The Arc ended with Dragon successfully figuring out some critical information about Taylor that’s probably going to be quite important going forward.

Hang on, are we doing a stages of grief thing on a large scale with this story? We had plenty of denial in part 1 of the story, and now Dragon is trying to reason with Taylor, which could count as bargaining. We’ve also got Taylor trying to bargain with Coil instead of running off.

On top of everything, we learned that something – which may be a titular Worm of proportions far exceeding those of the Endbringers or your average giant worms in fiction – is due to appear and kill millions in fifteen years… or two to eight with the aid, intentional or otherwise, of Jack the Ripper Slash. I think this might be the climactic threat for the story as a whole.

The Arc title

Ideas from the intro to 10.1:

  • Shadow Stalker, being a parasite to the Wards
  • Kaiser, being a parasite to his subordinates (discounted due to his death)
  • Chariot, intending to become a different kind of parasite to the Wards
  • something to do with Imp

I was totally wrong about all of those, though Shadow Stalker was relevant.

The meaning of the Arc title became pretty clear once Regent’s true power was revealed: He (or Imp, until I finally discarded that idea with certainty) was the Parasite, sharing a body with Shadow Stalker at his benefit and Sophia’s expense.

It became even more fitting with the revelation in Interlude 10a that part of why he does it is that it allows him to feel. He’s parasitically “feeding” on the host’s emotions.

Prediction review

From Arc Thoughts: Sentinel:

First and foremost, tagging is going to get just a little bit more annoying now that I’ll have double-digit Arc numbers to write three times per post. :p

Yep, at least early on, before I got used to it :p

Other than that, we’re presumably going to finally learn what Taylor’s planning to do. It kind of seems like her plan involves personally setting right the specific wrongs she sees, but I doubt it stops there. I think she intends to try to fix the systems and social dynamics in play, to the extent she can… but how?

It seems Taylor’s goal is a lot more… specific than I had imagined. She seems to be aiming to secure Dinah’s freedom and happiness as her whole idea of what she’s supposed to do now.

We’re also going to get to know Imp. My prediction for her power amounts to it being “something mischievious”, but I’m honestly more interested in who she is as a person and how she became part of the Undersiders. Maybe she’ll be a bit mischievious to match the name herself? I’d appreciate that, I like mischievious characters.

Imp was more irrelevant than I had expected in this Arc. Her involvement pretty much amounted to us finding out who she was and what her powers were – I mean, those are the main things I predicted, but I’m pretty sure I expected her to be more central to the Arc than she ended up being.

She does seem to be a little mischievious, though not as overtly as I was expecting. Similarly, her power isn’t something mischievious directly, but damn does it have prank potential. You can’t start to suspect that someone’s pranking you if you don’t remember they exist.

I’m also curious about whether Chariot has anything to do with them, or if Piggot’s right about him working directly for Coil – or, the third option, someone entirely different. If him working for the Undersiders (or working for Coil and being planted in the Wards at the Undersiders’ request) isn’t addressed relatively early in the next Arc, I’m prepared to dismiss the hypothesis.

Yeah, it seems Chariot is separate. He might still be working under Coil, like Piggot suspects, but he doesn’t seem to be working more specifically under the Undersiders.

Predictions for Arc 11 (and a bit of long-term)

So what do we have coming up?

As mentioned earlier in the post, this Arc ended with Dragon finding out Taylor’s identity and starting a search for her. I don’t think that’s a plot that’s going to be left dormant for too long, so there’s a good chance Dragon will play a role in Arc 11, or maybe Arc 12.

Meanwhile, the Undersiders will need to try to stay away from the Slaughterhouse Nine. They will fail, that much I’m certain of, but whether they’ll fail in the next Arc or later remains to be seen. When it happens, though… well, there’s little reason to hold back against Jack Slash in particular. But even if someone does try to kill him, I think they’ll fail. I could see the story’s climax happening in two years, but I highly doubt we’ll be skipping ahead enough for it to happen in fifteen.

We might also learn more about Imp/Aisha (though with the reveal that Imp was Aisha, that’s become less of pressing matter since we’ve had a chapter getting to know Aisha as a civilian before) and how she ended up on the team… I wish I could see Brian’s face the moment Aisha probably told him straight that she has powers now and she knows about the Undersiders. 😛

And… that’s pretty much it! See you in the next Arc!

For those people who think Richter was in the wrong, I like to remind them that creating Dragon without limits would basically be giving amazing superhuman abilities to a random teenager. We’ve how well that can go.

Hehe.

I mean, the random teenager superpowers are more a thing that the world has to deal with rather than something they do on purpose, with the exception of Upsilon.

…so I guess in one sense, Dragon is kind of analogous to a case 53? That’s not the conclusion I had expected to arrive at in this post.

The most tragic thing about Armsmaster, and I’m pretty sure this is not a spoiler, is that WoG has it that he could just have asked for help setting that situation up. His software worked best without outside interferences, and had he explained the workings of it to everyone they’d have helped him get his 1v1 with Levi, while giving him backup or saving his ass whenever necessary. His hubris caused his downfall, while he could have achieved the same thing but better by simply asking others.

Huh, yeah, I suppose they would’ve been perfectly willing to help set it up, no matter how suicidal the plan might seem, but of course he didn’t think, or wasn’t willing, to ask.

The best thing about Regent’s interlude is that I felt almost as sorry for him as I felt for Shadow Stalker. Yes, what he did was fucked up, but he KNOWS it was fucked up, and it frustrates him to no end that he can’t feel any worse about it. He knows how he should be feeling about it, but he just… can’t anymore. Without a body to control, he just can’t do the emotions thingy. I think that’s at least part of why he hates his dad so much. It’s really sad, for both of them.

Yeah, Heartbreaker really fucked him up. Regent’s broken, emotionally and morally, and takes it out on others just to feel something.

It doesn’t excuse what he did, but it does help him stay somewhat sympathetic after Interlude 10a. What he did was supremely fucked up and, no, I’m not going to argue when someone calls him “evil” because what he did was evil, but I still like him.

…huh. I wonder if this is how @mindareadsoots feels about Vriska.

The great thing with Richter is that on the one hand, I don’t like how he chained up Dragon, but on the other hand, he did that quite early in her development and maybe just died before he could reevaluate the necessity of those restrictions. He might’ve been not nearly as paranoid on the subject as Dragon thinks he was, but we’ll never know because he’s, well, dead.

Yeah, he could easily have ended up loosing the chains a bit if Leviathan hadn’t done what Leviathan does best: fuck things up.

What’s the weirdest, most fucked up ship you can think of? I’m not a shipper myself, but I know for a fact there’s a very prolific Sophia shipper over on the Sufficient Velocity forums who wrote a few Taylor/Sophia and Lily/Sophia fics, among many others. Anything else you can think of?

You want really fucked up? Try Coil/Dinah.