The armed escort would be waiting.  No court- Amy had volunteered, asked
to go to the Birdcage.


Carol couldn’t bring herself to speak.

So she stepped forward to close the distance between herself and Amy.  Hesitant at first, she reached out.


Awkward, stilted hugs that you both know neither of you really, fully mean?

As if she could convey everything she wanted to say in a single gesture, she folded her daughter into the tightest of hugs.


“I don’t know what to do.”

Yeeeah, you kinda fucked this up.

The big difference between Amy and Bonesaw is that Amy didn’t mean for it to turn out like this. Bonesaw would do this on purpose.

It’s still massively wrong, and Amy’s not blameless here – she seems to have gotten carried away with unethical changes for her own benefit, turning Victoria into a thing that reflects Amy’s appreciation for Victoria’s bodily features while not considering what she as an individual would want. Bonesaw has no sense of bodily integrity, and she set Amy on a downward spiral that compromised hers.

Betrayal.  Brandish had known this would happen the moment Sarah had talked about her taking the girl.  Not this, but something like it.  Brandish felt a weapon form in her hand.


“Please tell me what to do,” Amy pleaded.

Please do. This doesn’t need to get even worse.

It can stop here, without any auto-cauterized wounds.

Brandish turned, arm drawn back to strike, to retaliate.  She stopped.

The girl was so weak, so powerless, a victim.  A victim of herself, her own nature, but a victim nonetheless.  A person sundered.


For noticing, I mean.

And with everything laid bare, there was not a single resemblance to Marquis.  There was no faint reminder of Brandish’s time in the dark cell, nor of her captor.  If anything, Amy looked how Sarah had, as they’d stumbled from the house where they’d been kept, lost, helpless and scared.

This is beautiful.

She looked like Carol had, all those years ago.

Yes. Do see yourself in her. Thank you.

The weapon dissipated, and Brandish’s arms dropped limp to her sides.

That was a scene, alright.

I’m not entirely sure if it was because of what I was reading or just from eye strain, but I even teared up a bit there towards the end. That was so good.

Frech speaker here, lightning in french is éclair, which is pretty close to éclaire which is a baked good. Guess the family did try theme naming… they just didn’t do enough research.

I’m sure you’re gonna get 20 asks about this but I can’t resist being the obnoxious Frenchperson telling you that Éclair is not only a pastry, but also means lightning (without an e in either case, that is Wildbow’s mistake or the girl’s).

Oh, huh. Sounds like a very shocking pastry!


“Yeah?  I didn’t get a chance to get your measurements, so I went by memory, based on the jacket you lent me.”

That was, what, two months ago? How good is your memory for such things?

She pulled it on and adjusted the front.  “Fits fine.”

“Here,” I said.  I turned around and grabbed the next piece.  I handed it to her.

She turned it around in her hands.  I’d cheated and formed the base sculpt out of chicken wire, covering the remainder with layers of dragline silk and painting the end result.  It was, as close as I’d been able to manage, a recreation of what her power did to her dogs in the form of a mask.

Oh man, that’s awesome.

Except I’d made it half human and half dog.


What are you talking about? Blindness and lasers are a good combo in the leauge of super reduntant heroes 99% of the time (see superredundant com/?comic=076-same-but-different), its just that the story follows the 1% where they aren’t.

Ohh, right, that’s a good point!

You hear that, guys? You should totally go out shooting lasers blindly. It’ll make you the top hero in the multiverse.

Arc Thoughts: Prey

In which everyone hunts everyone else.

There’s one big question Arc 14 of Worm has left me with: How do these Arcs just keep getting better?

I mean seriously, let’s look back at the progression in this Arc:

  • 14.1: In which we got attempted mind games from Cherish and learned that someone among the Undertravelers (probably Trickster) has a potentially lethally upsetting secret. Only one of the weakest chapters in the Arc because the rest were so good.
  • 14.2: Solid rescue operation of one of my favorite characters from Siberian.
  • 14.3: Epic chase scene, and excellent Amy development.
  • 14.4: In which Jemily Piggot is delightfully devious and Amy continues to be fantastic with her latest contribution of Atlas the giant beetle.
  • 14.5: Taylor and Weld fighting together nearly seamlessly, big asshole kitty getting some much-needed attention, fantastic tension as the Undertravelers try to escape the blast zone, Taylor learns to fly… So much good stuff.
  • 14.6: That Amy and Victoria scene was so good! Honorary mentions: Taylor’s tangent about eating bugs and Regent being beautifully on the ball.
  • 14.7: Some pacing/tension issues drag this one down, but the descriptions of the Bakuda barrage was amazing.
  • 14.8: AND THIS IS WHERE THE ARC WENT FROM GOOD TO FUCKING AMAZING. The miasma is one of the best concepts Bonesaw could drop on the city and I love it so damn much. Honorary mention: Sundancer’s spiel on being alone and the way it ties in beautifully with what was about to happen to her and everyone else.
  • 14.9: AND THEN IT JUST GOT EVEN BETTER (even if I was being a bit of a dunce)
  • 14.10: Really good dialogue between Jack and Amy as he tried to get her to betray her morals and join up, followed by a pretty good hallway knife/gun– wait a minute. Jack. Literally brought a knife to a gun fight. Or was it Taylor who brought a gun to a knife fight?
  • 14.11: Well that’s certainly a way to go about curing Rachel and Lisa! And then there’s Jack’s parting message and Cherish’s fate.
  • Interlude 14: Sierra Interlude? Don’t mind if I do! I had some trouble getting through the earlier parts of the Interlude but once Taylor showed up things got really good.
  • Interlude 14.5: LEGEND IS SO GOOD FOR KID WIN. Shame they’re probably not getting another chance to talk. …oh yeah, and the Triumvirate are working with Cauldron despite two of them apparently knowing what’s up. That’s a pretty good curveball reveal. BUT KID WIN GUYS

In short, really fucking good Arc. Quite possibly the best one so far, even!

This was the climax to the Slaughterhouse Nine plotline (though Jack at least will likely become relevant again when we find out how he dooms the world), which has been going for 3.5 (or 5, depending where you count from)


now, and I really think Wildbow nailed it. The miasma was a really amazing way to end this sequence, and I appreciate just how unwilling the Nine were to give in, how much they had to be whittled down before they left – it made it feel like this was an amazing accomplishment by the protagonists even though the core of Nine ultimately got away.

Even if Taylor doesn’t feel that way. Taylor is weird about acknowledging her accomplishments, though it all makes perfect sense with regards to her character.

The Arc title

Everyone was indeed Prey, except maybe the Protectorate. And even they were caught in the miasma.

The Undertravelers hunted Siberian, who hunted Amy. The PRT/Piggot hunted the Nine and the Undertravelers, and when parts of the Nine slipped away from the Protectorate, the Undertravelers took up that hunt (after being Crawler’s and the PRT’s prey at the same time), while Legend was hunting Siberian. And so it went on until the miasma struck and made everyone downtown the Nine’s prey in a sense (not that that’s much of a change from the norm), as well as feel like everyone else’s prey. Jack tried to prey on Amy’s insecurities. Then we had Taylor hunting the Nine again at the end, though they ultimately got away.

Sierra and Charlotte avoided the miasma and even they ended up as prey for the metaphorical ravens.

Prediction review

Rolling over all the way from Arc Thoughts: Infestation:

And, if someone attempts to kill Jack Slash, they will either fail, or do it too late.

Yeeah, nobody succeeded at that. Anyone who manages to do it later in the story will be too late according to Dinah. I’m going to consider this one proven correct.

And now for predictions from Arc Thoughts: Snare:

Due to an accident while writing the End of Interlude 13 post yesterday, I know the title, or original title if it has been changed, of Arc 14: Prey.

Who’s the prey, exactly? After hearing Piggot’s plan, I’m inclined to think it’s both the local villains and the Slaughterhouse Nine. The Nine are at the bottom of the parahuman food chain for a change, being hunted by the Undertravelers and the Protectorate, but the PRT is also hunting the Undertravelers and other local villains.

I suppose there’s still civilians under the Nine on the overall food chain, but the Nine have already been preying on them quite a lot, so that shouldn’t be enough for an Arc title.

…oh. Oh, right.

I was already going to predict that Siberian was going to be in the spotlight next Arc, because of the focus she got in Interlude 13. Of course that ties in with the title Prey. She’s probably the next tester, which means the nominees are going to be her prey.

That doesn’t invalidate the other interpretation, though. I’m inclined to think both are correct.

I think I was right here, except I was thinking too specifically. I later added that everyone’s prey, in the chapter thoughts of 14.1.

So is the next Arc going to give the spotlight to only Siberian, among the Nine? The Nine’s numbers have been reduced enough that Wildbow can do that now, especially if they continue being reduced.

No. At the time I was writing this, I still thought the plotline might go on for a bunch more Arcs.

I don’t think the Undertravelers are going to let up on their ongoing assault against the Nine, but Taylor might start being a tad more cautious thanks to Grue’s input. Maybe that’s what ends up saving them from the Protectorate’s explosive backstab?

I haven’t really seen her be that notably more cautious, really. And the thing that ended up saving them was Piggot tipping her hand while making sure they’d all go into the blast zone.

And finally, I think there’s a good chance we’ll finally learn what the Travelers’ deal is. Hell, if my theories on that are anywhere near right, that might even be another reason for the title.

Not yet, but we’re definitely building up to it, what with the massive secret and the Sundancer development. Roll over.

From a post made shortly after Arc Thoughts: Snare:

Oh yeah, one more prediction for Prey: I suspect one or more of the minor protagonists is/are going to die to Siberian, or at least get mauled. Maybe even one of the major protagonists. This would mirror the Case 01 video, perhaps even closely.

The Nine have actually been remarkably non-lethal to the named characters. They’ve slayed hundreds, maybe thousands of redshirts civilians, but only, what, five characters whose names we knew? Four of which were incredibly unsympathetic? Though some more may have died in the miasma.

Predictions for Arc 15 before reading the title

This is a hard one. There’s not much to go on as far as where the story is headed next.

It’s possible we’re about to learn more about the Travelers, but I doubt that’s the main plot. Likewise, I don’t think dealing with the Chosen is that big of a deal for Taylor at this point, especially since they’ve lost their leader.

It is also very possible that we’re heading into the second boss battle Arc, though it’d be a bit curious that no strong indication of that (except Eidolon mentioning that another Endbringer strike was due soon) appeared at the end of Prey like what happened at the end of Buzz. If we are heading into that territory next Arc or in Arc 16, I think we’re in for the Simurgh attacking Brockton Bay.

If she does, we might see some of the characters start to question why two Endbringers would attack the same location in a row like that, lending more credibility to Coil’s “Noelle draws Endbringers” theory.

I suppose it’s also entirely possible that the miasma was the boss battle of this section and we’re not getting attacked by all three Endbringers like I’ve been theorizing, in which case we’d be moving into an Interlude Arc.

But that’d feel kind of anticlimactic, even though Prey was a fantastic climax to the Slaughterhouse Nine plotline, and unless the chapters in the Interlude Arc were themed like the ones in Sentinel, it’d call into question why we had two Interludes in Prey. Though that can still be explained by thematics and threads, wanting Legend’s Interlude to be clearly tied to Prey.

So yeah, I’m not really sure what to expect. Let’s see if the Arc title gives me any ideas, shall we?

Predictions for Arc 14: Colony

Colony. That, to me, sounds like we’ll be focusing on the rebuilding of Taylor’s territory and its community for a while. Maybe all the territories, even, turning the city into the Undertravelers’ colony?

But that sounds like a really anticlimactic premise on its own. We may focus on that, but something needs to not go smoothly to make the Arc interesting. It needs more conflict than just “how do we fix up this building”. Dealing with the Chosen still doesn’t sound all that interesting after tangoing with the Nine.

I’m not saying I expect the upcoming Arc to be boring. I’m saying that if I’m right about what the title implies, I don’t really know how Wildbow is going to prevent that. I do trust that he will, though, in some way.

Perhaps the title is less literal. Maybe it’s about the cohesiveness and cooperation as the heavily hurt and fractured people of Brockton Bay band together to defend their colony, their home, against the Simurgh or another threat?

Or maybe it’s a colony in the sense of an additional area taken and controlled from afar? But I can’t imagine Taylor wants to take another piece of territory, away from her current one.

This next Arc is very hard to speculate on, jeez. In any case, I’m looking forward to starting on it and finding out what’s actually going on. See you soon!

Instead, Legend descended on the rooftop of the NYC Protectorate offices.  A tinker-made scanner verified who he was and opened the doors for him in time for him to walk through.

Yep. Protectorate HQ.

Is this where he finds out the Simurgh is swooping down towards Brockton Bay?

He nodded a greeting to everyone he passed.  When people asked him how things had gone, he offered them a response that was polite but short enough that it was clear he wasn’t looking for further conversation.


He reached his office and closed the door.

He was careful to start up a virtual operating system preloaded with the standard PRT databases and software.  Nothing that would leave a trace on his regular OS.

…alright. Secrecy required?

He unplugged the fiber-optic cables and disabled the wireless.

The precautions were little use if he was already being watched, but it made him feel better.

Who’s watching you? The PRT?

Once his computer was isolated from outside influences, he withdrew a USB cable from one drawer, plugging one end into the keyboard.  He reached up to one ear and withdrew an earbud.  The other end of the USB cable connected to it.

ASCII art of Kid Win’s face popped up as the earbud connected to the computer, along with the text, ‘thank you’.

Oh right, this part of the chapter’s plot. The thing he had Kid doing.

I love how cheeky Kid can be sometimes. 😛

But also… he’s saying “thank you”, not “you’re welcome”. He took a moment to add this thanks for their conversation before saying he was done. Aww.

Yan glanced down at her body.  In that same instant, the beetle took flight.  It crossed the room in the span of a heartbeat and slammed into her.

“Don’t look for them.”

Its blade-like forelimbs caught around Yan and pulled her to the ground.

“Also the beetle is very capable of killing you faster if I need to.”

There’s also the fact that Skitter just knocked down the one with the gun, possibly disarming her.

Sierra turned her attention to the other two, saw Sugita lunging to one side.  She practically threw herself between him and the countertop where the knife still lay on top of the cutting board.

Skitter: “Look, I’ve faced way more skilled knife-wielders than you today.”

Jay drew his knife, but dropped it in the same motion.  His other hand clutched his forearm as his eyes went wide.

Regent here too?

Or maybe Taylor just paralyzed his arm with a bug of some kind?

“That’s one bite, Shaggy,” Skitter said.  “Giving you two seconds to kick the knife under the stove before I give you another.  One-”

Oh, maybe it was just that it hurt in the moment. Makes sense.

But was it actually a brown recluse?

Jay kicked the knife across the kitchen floor.  It slid out of sight.

“And you, I think you were the one with the bad accent?  You can step away from Charlotte now.”


Sugita scowled, but he did as he was asked.  He backed away from Charlotte until he stood beside Jay.  Charlotte let one sob escape before she hurried across the kitchen and moved to stand behind Skitter.

You’re safe…r now.

She’s been through something, Sierra thought.  She knew Charlotte was staying in town only because of her family, that she’d been captured by the Merchants and held for at least a short while… and there was some reason she couldn’t explain that to her family and just leave the city.

Hmm. Maybe she got romantically involved with someone bad or something?

Also, wasn’t the explanation she gave at John Cleese’s office something about a family member she needed to take care of? Was she lying?