Endbringer of Interlude 7

It’s coming…

So, this was an interesting chapter. First we got the thrilling backstory of Miss Militia, which was very interesting even if I did get a little too hung up on pine trees. It featured an actual incomprehensible being, so if the Endbringers aren’t among those, at least we did get to see one anyway.

Meanwhile, in the present, Armsmaster is being moved to Chicago and Miss Militia is taking over. It’s going to be interesting to see how that works out for her, and how Taylor reacts.

And then, the Endbringer approaches.

Next chapter brings the beginning of the bringing of the end. Until next time… try saying that ten times fast. 😉

He turned to Hannah, and their eyes met briefly.  Much was communicated between them in that moment, and she wasn’t sure she liked what she saw in his eyes.

A glimmer of hope?

Hope that this early siren might help save some lives?

“Miss Militia.  Recruit the locals.  And we need a place to gather.”

She swallowed her concerns.  “Yes sir!”

“Recruit the locals.” Does that include the villains, or just heroes like New Wave?

“The data is good.” Dragon’s voice, synthesized to mask the most telling details about her identity, held no trace of doubt.

The data is good. But the conclusion is bad.

“Good enough to call for help?”

“Good enough.”

Yeah, that’s probably wise.

I guess around now is when the sirens start, a bit before the Endbringer actually arrives?

Colin moved quickly, spinning in his chair to reach a small console.  He opened a glass panel and flipped a switch.  Air raid sirens immediately began their ominous whine.

Yeah, there we go.

“Dragon, I’ll contact Piggot and the Protectorate teams.  You get hold of everyone else that matters.  You know who’s most needed.”

“Already on it.”

I suppose some capes’ powers are more useful than others. If the Endbringer turns out to be essentially a living hurricane or something, I feel like Taylor’s power might not be particularly useful.

Colin didn’t have a reply for her.  “Dragon?  Brockton Bay falls within the predicted zone, and the city is on the list of locations that rate high enough on the sensitivity or negative media scale.

Negative media?

If the Endbringers pick their targets by watching TV, I might have to revise my Lovecraftian theory.

And hey, Miss Militia’s backstory also turned out to be a point against that, seeing as she treats an actual Lovecraftian being as something she’s never seen the like of since.

So that’s two points against it from this chapter alone, and no points in favor, ever.

Good theory, eh? 😉

Add my data, the correlations between abrupt microshifts in temperature, air pressure and-”

I think I’m going back to “like natural disasters”. It reminds me of the Walpurgisnacht from Madoka Magica, which appears like a natural disaster to the mundanes.

“I’m already looking over it,” Dragon interrupted.

yesss

“I see what you did.  Linking my data to atmospheric shifts.  I think I see it.”

They kinda sound like meteorologists.

Hannah walked around the desk and leaned over Colin’s shoulder to see the screen.  A map of the east coast was superimposed with a rainbow hued cloud.  “This doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Are the Endbringer’s even bigger than I had imagined? Covering not just cities but entire coasts?

“Nothing’s truly random,” Colin explained, his voice tight, “Any data shows a pattern eventually, if you dig deep enough.  Dragon started work on an early warning system for the Endbringers, to see if we can’t anticipate where they’ll strike next, prepare to some degree.  We know there’s some rules they follow, though we don’t know why.  They come one at a time, months apart, rarely hitting the same area twice in a short span of time.  We know they’re drawn to areas where they perceive vulnerability, where they think they can cause the most damage.  Nuclear reactors, the Birdcage, places recently hit by natural disasters…”

Oh jeez. So they’re basically the “oh you’re already in a shitty situation? here let me fuck you up even more!” gang.

Also, this tidbit about the Endbringers targetting the Birdcage is interesting and ties in nicely with my theory that there’ll eventually be a mass breakout.

But yeah, sounds like it’s more of a city-sized thing. I guess the rainbow cloud is a projection of probability?

He clicked the mouse, and the image zoomed in on a section of the coastline.

“…Or ongoing conflict,” Hannah finished for him, her eyes widening.  “The ABB, Empire Eighty-Eight, the fighting here?  It’s coming here?  Now?

Oh fuck.

It all comes back to Taylor as a spark, doesn’t it. Without Taylor throwing in her gauntlet, the conflict with the ABB wouldn’t have happened. Coil might not have moved on to all-out war with the E88 and “hastily” jumped on the chance to send the e-mail (though I’m still somewhat inclined to call bullshit on his excuse there).

It’s not her fault, but there is a thread of cause and effect.

“He stays in Chicago.”

Hannah shook her head, “But…” she trailed off.

The hard look on Colin’s face was telling enough.

“I’m so sorry,” she spoke.

Yeah.

Between Armsy taking Taylor’s blame for Mr. Rottendick, failing to stop the gallery heist, and being generally disliked as a leader, this was kind of… well, not expected, because I didn’t think to expect it, but it’s not exactly surprising either.

“It’s the politics,” Colin spoke, leaning back, “I’m good at this.  Better than most, if you don’t mind me boasting.  Everything I bring to the table, I worked my ass off for.  But when it comes to shaking hands, managing people, navigating the bureaucracy… I’m not good at it, won’t ever be.  Because of that, I’m getting demoted, and I can probably give up on ever being in charge of another team.”

He’s always been the type to speak his mind, I suppose. Not something the bureaucracy always appreciates.

“I’m sorry.  I know how much you wanted-”

“It’s fine,” he said, but it was clear in the curtness and hardness of his tone that it wasn’t.

His precious reputation has taken a hard hit. There’s not much that would be less fine for him than this, really. Well, other than even harder hits.

He turned away and touched his keyboard.  In the darkness of the room, his face briefly reflected the blue light of the screen.  His brow furrowed.

Hm? Is the Endbringer being detected? It seems like it’s about time for that.

“Dragon.  That program you gave me, predicting the patterns of class S threats, remember it?

Sure sounds like it.

I made a few modifications, to see if I couldn’t catch any highlights, I’m running a dozen of them concurrently.  One, I called HS203.  I want you to look directly at this.  I’ve put it behind some pretty heavy security, but if you wait a second, I’ll-”

Man, I hope the thing that interrupted him was the realization that Dragon had already managed to bypass that heavy security.

Colin rubbed his chin, where his beard traced the edges of his jaw, nodded.

“If she doesn’t agree to giving away either of the two, and you really should play hardball on that, you can offer Clockblocker.  He graduates this summer, anyways, and I’d say he’s got enough friends and contacts here that he might apply to come back to Brockton Bay to join our Protectorate when he turns eighteen.  Best case scenario for us, and it’s not like Boston or New York need more capes.”

Makes sense.

Colin sighed, “You’re better at this than I ever was.”

Hannah wasn’t sure how to respond.  Colin had his strengths, but he was right.

Hehe.

He went on, “Congratulations.”  He picked up the second folder and held it out to her.

“What?”  She took it, opened it.

…he did say restructuring in both the Protectorate and the Wards. Is the restructuring in the Protectorate that Miss Militia is now the leader?

“There’s a change to our team, too, according to Piggot and the rest of the oversight.  You’ve been promoted.  Within the next two weeks, this building and this team will be transferred to your command.”

Nice. She may have threatened Alec, but I’m still more sympathetic to Miss Militia than I am to Armsmaster. As far as I know, she was just doing her job and obeying her superior. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Honestly, though, I’m not sure it’s so much Miss Militia being promoted as it is Armsmaster getting demoted, for some of his failures and controversies over the last month or two.

She stood there, paging through the folder of paperwork, stunned.  “Where are you going?”

“Chicago.”

Oh… Well, then. I wonder what Taylor will think of that when she hears about it.

Hannah broke into a smile, “Chicago!  That’s fantastic!  A bigger city, a bigger team!  Where’s Myrddin being moved?”

Hm… I wouldn’t be so sure he’ll actually be in charge of that team.

Also, Myrddin I believe I’ve heard of before. I know the name is the Welsh name for Merlin, and I seem to recall mentioning that before – Gregor’s interlude, maybe? Hang on, time to blog search.

Yep. Gregor and Newter fought Myrddin and Chevalier in Philadelphia once and “didn’t lose!”

Hannah nodded.  “What else?”

Colin frowned, “We’re supposed to pick two others from our Wards team to transfer to one of the other major teams, nearby.  I settled on Kid Win, I’m stuck on the others.”

Aw. I guess we won’t see more of the Tiro Finale, unless he pulls it out against the Endbringer.

Which ought to be showing up soon, by the way.

“Browbeat?”

“Too new.  Might be able to sell it to Piggot, but my suspicion is that she’ll think it looks bad, giving up our newbie.”

“Hm.  Gallant won’t be able to leave for Boston.  Too many logistical issues,” Hannah glanced at the computer.  She couldn’t say more.

Hm, alright.

“You can speak freely,” Colin spoke, “Dragon has either read the record in question, or she’s reading it as we speak.”

“Gallant has local responsibilities, and is expected to start helping with his father’s local business enterprise,” Dragon spoke, giving truth to Colin’s words, “Miss Militia is right, he’s a local fixture.  And his girlfriend is here.”

Ah, right, we wouldn’t want to break up Gallant and Glory Girl by having him move out of town.

Hannah nodded, “Painful to give up Vista or Clockblocker.  They’re our big guns, and they’re local heroes after the role they played in that bomb scare.  Shadow Stalker?”

…I’d like to hear more about this spacetime combo against Bakuda.

Shadow Stalker probably won’t move. It’d be strange of Wildbow to take her out of the setting before her obsession with Grue got a chance to be relevant.

Colin shook his head, “There would be more trouble over handing over someone like Shadow Stalker to another team than there would be if we gave away a newbie like Browbeat.  Discipline problems.”

“Still?” she asked.  Armsmaster nodded.

Yeah, considering what Grue has been saying about her, I don’t think she’s ready.

Hannah frowned, “Alright.  This is what you do, then.  Propose Shadow Stalker and Kid Win.  If Piggot does refuse Shadow Stalker, and you should make an argument that Shadow Stalker might need a change of scenery, Piggot will have a harder time refusing Browbeat, right after.”

…I suppose that might work?