Colony 15.5

Come, little children, I’ll take thee away, into a land of enchantment… and also parahumans.

So, last time, Coil snared Taylor and Lisa into a rough spot. Today, we’re probably seeing whether Brian was right about his power not being able to fully replicate Victor’s past the immediate use. Judging by the way his power acted when he was tapping into Taylor’s, I think he was right, but we’ll have to see what happens.

Taylor, though, might be somewhat distracted by the news she just got from Lisa. She’ll probably spend a fair bit of this chapter considering her course of action, I think, though I don’t think she’s going to throw Lisa under the bus.

That is, if we don’t skip right to Taylor walking into the trap and having to figure out a way to get out of it without letting on that she knew about it from Lisa.

I’m more looking forward to the latter, but either way, this should be nice. Let’s go!

End of Colony 15.4

This was pretty decent. It feels a lot like setup, but that’s good to have from time to time. If nothing else, at least it gives me more ground to stand on when speculating.

The biggest highlight here was definitely Aisha’s speech about why Taylor really shouldn’t fuck up her care for Brian. It’s not a great thing for Taylor to get told, but the imagery Aisha used to drive the point home was great. I find myself liking her more and more by the chapter. >:)

It was also neat to get a look at how far the other Undertravelers have gotten relative to Taylor.

So. Coil has made his move and stuck Taylor and Lisa in a pin/skewer. Either Taylor walks into a trap, or Lisa gets punished for disloyalty. I think it’s pretty clear which option Taylor’s going to choose, so we get to see her figure out a way out of that trap. Ideally without letting on that she knows the trap is there. That should be fun.

Is Imp supposed to be involved in that? The more I look at it and its surrounding context, the more it looks like “Skitter, Imp, Genesis, I would like you to (…)” is a writing error and it’s supposed to be “Skitter, Trickster, Genesis”. To be fair, imps are typically known to be tricksters.

Ballistic seems to not be particularly fond of Skitter all of a sudden, or oddly intent on dealing with Parian solo. I wonder if that’s enough to motivate Ballistic to work against Skitter at some point.

Next chapter, we’re probably going to see whether the Grue-Victor thing works. We could skip to Coil’s trap mission, but that would be odd considering the buildup of this experiment. I don’t think we’ll linger too long, though – the trap mission will probably begin at most three chapters from now, not counting Interludes. (And so will the bank robbery.)

So yeah. See you next time!

Colony 15.4

Howdy! It’s me again!

Last time, *LOUD SHIP HORN NOISE*

This time… morning after, perhaps checking on Taylor’s territory?

I don’t have much to go on, and I’m running kinda low on time for this session anyway, so let’s just cut to the chase and find out what 15.4 is about!

End of Interlude 15b

I want chicken.

This was very solid. We got a good look into how Brian has been affected by the events of Snare, some excellent Aisha development (especially highlighting how much she genuinely cares about her brother despite their differences), a little bit of Bonesaw, a look at how Brian’s powers appear from his perspective, Brian’s detailed assessment of Taylor’s body and “quirks”, and some sweet relief at the end that really helped sell the ship again. The chapter was low-key, but held a lot of very good stuff.

Next up… the morning after, I suppose? Maybe Taylor will get a chance to go check on her colony then. Other than that, I don’t really have much to go on, I think. Alec and Lisa seem to be handling Victor, so we probably won’t be following that side of things directly.

And hey, for all I know, we might be getting another Interlude 15 next chapter. *checks* Nope, Colony 15.4. Well, I guess I’ll just have to read on and see what happens.

See you then!

Interlude 15 (Donation Bonus #2)

Something about this chapter header seems familiar.

So, we’re back in Interlude territory. Damn, this Arc is hard to speculate on with the regular chapters, and then you add a whole bunch of Interludes? Which have historically been very hard to speculate on before I start?

Fair enough.

I’m gonna try anyway. So, who are we likely to get this time?

I’ve suggested this for several previous Interludes already, but I think it’s reasonable to bring up the Travelers again. They are very possibly going to be important when we start properly going up against Coil (which might be next Arc rather than this one), and their internal affairs – what we know of them – connect well with the previous chapter’s focus on communication and openness.

Relatedly, their situation is relevant to what I’ve supposed might be the story concept or theme of this Arc, with regards to groups falling apart due to internal conflict. The Travelers are very fragile in that sense, sticking together only because of some shared history and a promise.

I’ve wanted a Traveler Interlude for a while now, but right now the case for that actually coming up (if not in this Interlude, then in another one soon) is stronger that ever.

If we do get a Traveler Interlude, I suspect it’ll be Ballistic. Not counting the two Travelers behind the scenes, he’s the one we know the least, and for some reason I’ve gotten the impression that he might be the one who’d be most affected if he were to learn the 325 (which I believe belongs to Trickster, the second most likely Traveler to get an Interlude).

Otherwise… Maybe we could have an Interlude from the perspective of someone who runs into Armsmaster? That seems much less thematically consistent with the rest of the Arc, but I kinda just want an update on him. At least enough to tell whether he survived the Nine or not. (This is wishful thinking, of course. It’s probably better to wait until he floats back into relevance anyway.)

Without further ado, let’s take a look!

End of Colony 15.3

The Pure and the Chosen have, since before they became the Pure and the Chosen, had a bunch of characters I didn’t particularly have any reason to care about. This chapter helped to flesh out two of the Chosen’s quite a bit.

I like Victor and Othala. They’re a Nazi dickprince and a Nazi dickprincess, but they have a very interesting and somewhat commendable relationship, and Victor’s personality, aside from the whole Nazi thing, is… entertaining. It was fun to see him react to Lisa’s manipulation.

(I still don’t care about Rune, and Night and Fog are really just their movesets in battle so far. I suppose they might have their time later.)

Communication was very much a theme in the chapter, between Taylor being irritated that Lisa hadn’t communicated her plan to Taylor, Victor and Othala’s relationship being built on it, and good, honest communication helping to mend the rift between Taylor and Lisa towards the end. I like that.

So, what’s up next chapter?

Well, Aisha’s got a favor to ask of Taylor. I have roughly zero clue what it is. It’s something she personally needs Taylor to do, something Coil shouldn’t know about, and probably something that will keep Taylor away from her territory.

It’s probably not checking on her family using the bugs. She can do that herself, and better. Besides, Coil knowing about that would probably not hurt.

Maybe it has to do with Victor, in some way? She’s not too keen on working with the Nazis, and even if she did help Lisa make a point about hurting Othala, well, Taylor helped out back there too. And Aisha would be inclined to want to hurt Othala anyway. Maybe Aisha wants Taylor to do something about this?

Then again, she might not see it as working with the Nazis so much as taking a captive.

Thus far, this Arc has a nasty habit of leaving me stumped. I suppose I’ll have to find out next time. See you then!

Colony 15.3

Wheretoefojefioj.

Yes, that sounds like a good, coherent way to start an intro post.

So, what are we in for today, besides finding out which of the Chosen the Undersiders have, well, chosen? Hmm… We’re probably going to be taking a moment to discuss why Lisa and Alec didn’t tell Taylor about their plan (whether it’s between the characters or just in Taylor’s narration). Maybe we’ll also get some more cracks in the group.

That seems to be the progression we’re going to see in this Arc. We started off with a chapter where the Undersiders seemed more whole than ever. Even Rachel and Taylor got along. Then we had an Interlude about a family breaking, and a chapter where a) Alec and Aisha pointed out the gap between the main trio and the, uh, background Undersiders, b) the same pair went on to joke about the “Othersiders” and the team splitting up, and c) the chapter ended on a note of dishonesty between teammates. Everything points to an increasing amount of fissures between the Undersiders as this Arc goes along. Little things that add up, mostly.

Oddly enough, I could see Rachel being the only one on Taylor’s side at some point. Now wouldn’t that be quite the inversion from what we’re used to.

I don’t think this is going to be permanent. The question is just how far it’s going to go before they manage to pull things together, and how long that’s going to take.

They’ve only got a few weeks if they want to get it together in time to take on Coil.

(…well, this is clearly a post I need to review in the Arc Thoughts. I hope I remember to do that.)

So yeah, without further ado, let’s take a look at what this chapter has to offer!

End of Colony 15.2

Well, that went well.

This chapter is very much a foil to the Undersiders’ previous encounter with Night and Fog and their teammates, clearly meant to emphasize how much they’ve grown. How much more powerful the Undersiders are now. It does this fairly well, with the Chosen being soundly defeated now that the Undersiders really know what they’re doing and have a few more resources available. Notably, Shatterbird and Imp were important for finishing this.

The chapter did feel a bit odd at the end. I guess I’m just not used to this kind of decisive victory, after three and a half Arcs of dealing with the Nine, but also, the final stretch really just had me thinking “alright, so they won… what next, when does the other shoe drop?”

And it turns out that the other shoe was the fact that Lisa and Alec didn’t tell Taylor about a part of their plans. That’s worrying, because secrecy and tension internally are two of the last things the Undersiders need if they’re going to take on Coil.

Next chapter, we’ll probably skip ahead to the Undersiders doing something with whichever member they’re borrowing alongside them. I suppose now that the Chosen are dealt with, the next item on the list might be… uh… yeah, no, I don’t know. The cards are pretty close to the Undersiders’ chests right now.

Maybe I’ll have some better speculations, on that and on whom they’re borrowing, by the start of the next chapter.

So yeah! See you then!

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.

End of Interlude 15

That was… a lot.

Fuck, let’s split this up by the sections:

Darkness: A fantastic intro, raising many questions and getting the reader invested in where this chapter would be going and who it was about. Sets up the desperation of the trigger event as well as the way Carol would later feel about the long-haired guy’s betrayal really well.

Alan Barnes: By far the most mundane section, but it casually shows us who we’re following and how she’s dealing with what she knows of the Victoria and Amy situation by seeking more mundane work as a break from her endless search, while somewhat subtly making it clear that she favors Victoria. The section is not that interesting at first read, I think, but it’s not without purpose in the chapter.

It does suffer heavily from the inclusion of Alan Barnes and the fact that his surname was being kept from us until the end of the section, even though this was clearly the section’s second purpose: Telling us that Emma’s father, and therefore very likely Emma herself, is/are back in town. The fact that this happened just after we got rid of the other Alan, and only two chapters after the latest reminder of that name for the other Alan, made things extremely confusing for a while. Especially as this section happens early in the chapter, while we’re still trying to figure out exactly when things are set and how things are laid out.

Trigger events: Dandelions, fuck yeah. I love the fact that what appears to be their birth mirrors the spreading of seeds from a dandelion.

The action, and especially Carol’s reaction to the long-haired man attacking them, was also pretty decent, especially with the way the latter was later revealed to have affected her for the rest of her life.

Daughters, plural: A pretty short section, really more of a transition. Carol’s reaction to the others finding both daughters is worth a mention, though, and the way it reinforces what was subtly set up in the Alan section.

Marquis: Marquis is such a good character. Must run in the family.

The battle was very good. I love the fact that Marquis was defeated because he was acting differently than usual to protect Amy. It really helps to sell the love he has for her. And the way he acted after his defeat, entrusting his daughter to the people who were about to take him away from her forever? So good.

The battle was suspiciously different from what we’ve been told about it before, about how they sent in an all-female team to play off of Marquis’ honor. I suppose in retrospect that might’ve been a public fib made to protect the secret of how he was really beaten? Except I’m pretty sure we heard that story from Dragon, one of the few who seem to know the truth.

Anyway, I love how things come together in this section, between their trigger event and Marquis’ appearance and Carol’s behavior regarding Amy (as seen in two of the earlier sections and from Amy’s perspective).

Art: And the pain begins.

Carol confronting Amy and making it clear that only Victoria is her daughter.

Amy’s uncertainty and fear.

The horrifyingly beautiful sculpture that used to be Victoria, and the way that came about.

Carol picking that moment out of them all to finally realize that Amy wasn’t so different from herself.

Everything.

So much pain in all the best ways.

“Please tell me what to do.”

Birdcage:

AMY NO

One of my favorite characters just decided to take herself out of the story (as long as the Birdcage isn’t compromised, anyway). I’m fine. Sure.

You guys were just waiting for me to get to this, weren’t you. I know how liveblog readers work.

But seriously, this is a really painful but really fitting ending to her character arc. She’s been in so much turmoil since she found out about Marquis, and Bonesaw set her on a downward spiral of unethical use of her power. Now we got to see the climax of the latter and an apparent acceptance of the former – she must’ve known she’d meet Marquis in the Birdcage, and it might even be a part of why she volunteered to go.

And Carol’s found a certain acceptance. She’s not feeling good, but she acknowledges that Victoria is for all intents and purposes gone, and she seems to accept that Marquis and his daughter are reunited and may even be happy together in the Birdcage.

It’s bittersweetness at its finest.

Overall:

Holy shit, this was so good and so painful but so fucking good.

See you next time. I have a chapter to go recover from.