“I wouldn’t have minded,” Imp said.  “I wouldn’t have anything to contribute, but I’d like to follow along.  And I can’t figure out my niche in the group with the trio being so… trio-ish.”

The trio! Heh. I like how the newcomer is the one who finally points out in-story the dynamic of Taylor, Brian and Lisa having the tightest connection and the most relevance, while the remaining three are the flanks of the team narratively.

Which is actually reflected in the piece I brought up in the previous post, with Alec, Aisha and Rachel being literally in the flanks (though Rachel is a bit more in the foreground than the other two).

Anyway, I officially predict that this is going to be Aisha’s arc in this, well, Arc. She’s probably going to be critical to success. Which makes a lot of sense considering the way Coil’s power works – it’ll be far less useful to him if he doesn’t know there’s a threat. That’s one of the main reasons for the sneaky planning in the first place.

“Trio-ish?” I asked.

“Tattletale, you and my brother.  Making all the plans, you’ve got the nemeses…” Imp paused.  “Is nemeses a word?”


“Yeah,” I said.

And you three have the brains, of course,” she stabbed a finger in my direction, as if it was an accusation, “Which leaves Regent, me and Bitch, following along, expected to obediently do as we’re told.”

She’s absolutely right.

Though some of that seems to be because they haven’t tried very hard to contribute in the same ways the trio does.

I suppose it’s a good thing Brian and Rachel aren’t here. I don’t think either of them would like to hear this. Though Lisa would be fine with it, I think.

“Let’s quit and start our own group!”  Regent said, throwing one arm across Imp’s shoulders and gesturing dramatically with the other as he continued, “Regent, Imp, and Bitch, the Othersiders, a spin-off team.


There are plenty of fanfics about the Othersiders, right?

And we’ll stick with Coil while the others turn traitor, and we’ll have this epic fight…”

I mean I was pretty much theorizing that exact thing for a while there.

Minus Imp, I suppose, but that’s because I literally forgot she existed while I was theorizing on it.

Imp took his cue, “And Brian and I will go head to head, and it’ll end in this dramatic moment where he says something pretentious-”

You know, I’ve said before that I like these two together, but I’m not sure I’ve ever actually put it like this: I think I ship it.

“Et tu, sis?”


“And then I’ll say ‘Yeah, it’s me’ and finish him!  No mercy.”

They were playing off one another, joking.

Yes, thank you, Taylor, I could tell.

And it is delightful.

“Whatcha thinking, dork?”

“You’re still calling me that?”

This isn’t the format of text messages in this story, so Alec and Taylor are either in the same place or talking over the phone. The latter sounds unlikely from what’s being said.

And if they’re in the same place, it’s probably morning. Let’s go attack the Chosen. Maybe. Or maybe that’s high-priority but not quite first on the list of to-dos.

Regent chuckled.  He was walking down the center of the street with Imp.  I was keeping to the sidewalk out of habit, and because the raised concrete path was fractionally higher, so I wasn’t wading in quite so much water.

I’m reminded of this piece of fanart by ImSkeptical:

Though it seems like Skitter and Impgent have switched places.

And the others might not be here? At least Taylor hasn’t described their placements yet.

“Just thinking about priorities,” I told him.

“Yeah, Tattletale kept trying to rope me into the planning phase last night.  Not my thing.”

Heh. Fair enough.

Planning is not really my thing either, even though I prefer to know what I’m doing.

Except we hadn’t been able to break away from planning, and just going by his participation in our exchange of texts and calls, Grue hadn’t managed to rest much.

So they’re like a D&D group, constantly messaging each other about the next session.

It’s kind of adorable.

We’d arranged plans, discussed priorities, sent messages to Coil, tracked down information from our various underlings, and in the doing, we’d managed to hash out a general game plan.

Sweet. Any chance you’re going to share any part of that plan with me before I get to watch it unfold?

Not that that would be a particularly good idea considering certain narrative tropes regarding plans and the sharing of them with the audience.

So is this the setting of this chapter? Their D&D group chat?

Or maybe a complication is about to arise before they even start executing the plan? Perhaps one that Taylor can’t tell the others about or something?

With a hundred problems we needed to handle, we’d agreed the most important thing was to deal with the most inevitable ones.

They’re just gonna go ahead and deal with the apocalyptic threat in this Arc, no big deal.

Okay, so maybe that’s not one of their immediate problems. :p

There was no point in working out a complicated and involved attack plan against Coil if we didn’t wind up fighting him.  There was a point in dealing with the Chosen; they were bound to attack us at some point, regardless of how future events unfolded.  Better to take the fight to them.

Fair enough.

This sounds a lot like the way Dinah’s aid normally allows Coil to lay his plans. It also sounds a lot like chess.

So attacking the Chosen is a priority. Alright. I wonder who’s their leader now, if they’ve filled the spot. Cricket, perhaps?

After departing from our meeting, we’d taken the afternoon and evening to handle our personal affairs, agreeing to start on the major stuff in the morning.

Are we seeing that morning in this chapter or the next one?

This paragraph is all past, so if the morning is in the next chapter, this on takes place late at night. Does anything need to take place late at night right now? I’m inclined to think not, unless we’re getting a surprise visit from Armsmaster or something like that, something out of Taylor’s control.

So my guess is we’re gonna get to the morning pretty soon.

Bitch had to take care of her dogs, Regent was toying with gangs in his territory by puppeteering their leaders, and Tattletale had her various spies and scouts to keep in contact with.

Seems like Alec’s having fun, to the extent he can have fun, at least.

Things were a little less busy for myself, Grue and Imp: I’d tended to my territory, ensuring that the cleanup was going well and that the major concerns were being addressed.  Grue and Imp had taken the afternoon and evening to try to catch up on sleep.

You should probably get some of that yourself, now that you don’t have the Nine to worry about.

Taylor: “Sleep is for those without a tendency to blame themselves for every bad thing they were even slightly involved with, Krixwell!”

Oh, hey there! …so, uh, what’s with the silent treatment?

Taylor: “…what?”

I mean, I’ve been talking to you for a year and ten months now and I’m pretty sure this is the first time you’ve ever replied to me. What gives?

Taylor: “…”

Ah. Back to normal, I see. Well, then, be that way.

Hm. Maybe she refuses to talk to me because I’ve got that “sanity” thing my doctor mentioned, whatever that is.

One thing at a time.


As much as I wanted to make it a focus, taking care of my territory was something I had to handle in my downtime.  I felt guilty; I’d left my people to handle things on their own, I’d failed to arrange the cleanup of the bodies Mannequin and Burnscar had left behind.  I hadn’t made arrangements for food, fresh water or accommodations.  I wanted to make it up to the people who had stuck by me, or at least the people who hadn’t left, but this wasn’t one of the instances where I could let my emotions dictate my priorities.

Makes sense, honestly. You have a lot on your plate.

We had a mess of things to do and a limited amount of time to work with.

I just don’t know what even half those things are. Just the goal and a vague idea of the style of chess we’re playing.

Oh hey, here’s another complication I just thought of regarding leaving Coil behind: Shatterbird. Alec claims he can’t control people while his main body is sleeping. Unless he was lying, that means he’s been having to contain Shatters, presumably in the cell we saw at Coil’s base. Which, if the Undersiders end up parting ways with Coil, Alec won’t have access to. So he’d either have to leave Shatterbird behind with Coil or attempt to find another way to contain her while he sleeps, without Coil’s resources.

Might be a good thing, though. She’s a huge risk factor for the team given how little it takes for her to break free. If Alec accidentally sends her too far away, or he gets knocked out in battle, she can free herself and wreak havoc in revenge. She might be reluctant to go near Alec again, but she’s got her insane range to work with.

(This might seem like a non-sequitur from the comment on the quote, but I swear there’s a connecting railway for my train of thought here. Chess, shogi, the capture of Shatterbird and Cherish, Shatterbird, the control of Shatterbird.)

Colony 15.2

Alright, time to get this show back on the road!

Colony 15.1… damn, after that Interlude last time, it took me a moment to recall what even happened in 15.1. It’s coming back to me, though.

So, the Undersiders are going up against Coil in sneaky ways. How exactly are they going about this? It seems like they do think it might come to blows eventually, but they’re focusing on more covert operations at first.

The obvious answer would be trying to sneak Dinah out somehow, but that doesn’t seem particularly easy. Especially if Coil himself is around when they try, in either of his realities. Then again nobody said this would be easy.

But no. I don’t think that’s really why that doesn’t seem like the right option. I think it’s more that it’s too obvious. If it was that simple, we’d know it by now. No, Skitter has a plan and it’s going to be a lot more interesting than that.

Maybe they’re going to undermine Coil and cause his whole setup to collapse before he can stop it with his power? Somehow? And grab Dinah in the ensuing chaos?

I don’t really know what their plan is, and I’m itching to get back to some Worm, so let’s go and find out! Probably.