From the comments to the interlude, after seeing what Glory Girl become, this seems fitting. (Genoscythe later became a meme in the comment section)

Pfft, nice.

He does sounds like he’d fit right in, though I’m not sure he’d add much. He’s too similar to Bonesaw and Amy.

Should friendship even be my goal? Maybe I was better off just trying to be a teammate.

And of course she starts questioning this right when Rachel finally begins to show signs of returning the favor, putting in some effort.

If it was just for my sake, I could probably convince myself.  As it stood, though, I was thinking of Bitch.  I felt like I would be abandoning her to a pretty lonely existence if I didn’t at least try.

Ahh, yeah. That’s certainly something Taylor can relate to and doesn’t wish on anyone else.

Has that been her motivation all along? Because I think I would accept Taylor’s insistence on making Rachel her friend more easily if it had been made more explicit.

I let them into my lair, after sweeping the area with my bugs to check for any observers, unlocking and opening the shutter.  Charlotte had experienced a few sleepless nights since the scare three nights ago, so I’d given her permission to take it easy here, with the warning that I’d have guests and would want her assistance.

Aw, poor Charlotte. She got really freaked by Sugita and now the bad memories are haunting her… 😦

Also, timeframe. Not much time has passed, it seems.

I wonder if Taylor did deal with the Chosen the evening of Interlude 14.

She still looked a little wary as Bitch, Biter, and Barker entered.

Charlotte is on edge and Taylor brings these guests specifically. Ouch.

(For Elizabeth) This could be considered a spoiler so use your judgement, but you might consider telling Krix that the “upsetting” part of the current chapter is almost over. He seems to be having trouble reading through it (as he did through similar scences in the Merchant’s mall party in Arc 11), and I don’t blame him…

“I don’t really feel up to liveblogging today either, sorry. Not sure why.” If it’s because of the grim situation where you left off, you should know by now that nothing in Worm stays the same for long. Keep reading a bit. 🙂

I think that did have a lot to do with it, yes, though tiredness from work didn’t help.

I think it might be in part the helplessness that gets to me. This was roughly how I felt for large portions of 8.3. It wasn’t quite as extended and thorough as it was back then (you may recall that 8.3 was the first and so far only time I went “if the story continues like this consistently, I’m not sure I can keep this up”), at least.

It’s not that the scene’s connotations bring up bad memories for me, like I imagine it does for a lot of other people. I don’t have personal experience with rape or abuse, and if it were straight up a trigger for me, I wouldn’t be reading the story, due to Wildbow’s general trigger warning at the very beginning. It still makes me uncomfortable and angry (at Sugita,

not at Wildbow), though, and it’s something I’d rather not be sitting through in most cases.

Charlotte was rescued from a Merchant party where she was being forced to dance and refusing to strip. They litterally rescued her by having one of Tattletale’s soldier “buy” her. You’re not the only one to draw the conclusion that she was raped. However WoG is that she wasn’t, though I imagine living in constant fear of possibly being raped while thugs leer at you for God knows how long is probably traumatic on it’s own.

Ah, yeah, that’s very fair.

The weird thing is I wasn’t even thinking of during her captivity. I was thinking more about before her captivity, about the events leading up to it. Still, though, you’re right, the events during her captivity, actual physical rape or no, would be traumatic enough to cause the kind of reaction she displayed on their own.

End of Interlude 14

This chapter was a mixed bag. It started out with some nice thoughts about the corpses and dealing with them, as well as setting up some Chekhov’s gunmen (though the one using the literal gun ended up being the woman), but then it proceeded to talk about soup for a while (admittedly we got a nice contrasting of Sierra and Charlotte, helping to expand on Sierra’s character, when they discussed caring for the children vs putting them to work), with a “Bryce is a little shit” intermission. It wasn’t bad, but it felt dull by comparison when coming down from the excitement of the miasma.

Then the ABB members in the crew threw away the hope of redemption, which I wasn’t thrilled about. I know this isn’t a story where redemption is easy, but I still kinda wish this had happened with some other people. Some jerks that weren’t introduced a couple Arcs ago as former antagonist mooks. Sure, it makes sense that it’d be them, and it helped make them a credible threat, but I had better hopes for them.

Sugita’s treatment of Charlotte and the way she reacted immediately made me very uncomfortable. I only tagged the initial bit of this with the rape and abuse TWs once I got to the later part where that was made a little more explicit by Sierra speculating on Charlotte’s behavior (the other post with those tags), because that’s when I realized I should probably go back and add those, but the warning bells for those things were definitely going off in my head when I first blogged that part too. I think this might be a part of why I had some trouble getting back to the chapter, mixed with the other criticisms I’ve mentioned so far.

I am interested in hearing Charlotte’s story later, though.

Things rapidly got better the moment Taylor showed up, though! We got treated to some fantastic character writing here as she displayed her theatrical and intimidating side while also being very transparently exhausted as fuck. I could almost hear the exhaustion in her voice, the matter-of-factness of everything, things said by someone who just doesn’t have the mental energy to feel the emotions right now. The casualness of her cruel punishments, even if some of that was for show. And then the way she briefly broke down afterwards, showing her human side to Sierra more than ever, before opening up about her plans. So much good character stuff in the latter part of the chapter.

This is exactly the kind of role I was hoping Sierra could play for Taylor, isn’t it?

So – there’s one more Interlude before we reach the end of Arc 14. I don’t know if I dare to hope that it’ll be Charlotte’s POV, though that’d be neat. She’s my favorite of the drones (Sierra didn’t manage to take over that spot in this Interlude), and there’s clearly a story to be told regarding her reaction to Sugita. And I’d like to hear how she perceives Skitter too.

But if it’s not her… maybe someone in the Chosen (Cricket in particular comes to mind) learning about Hookwolf having gone?

Or maybe someone who was deeply affected by the miasma, perhaps finding out the member of the Nine they killed in self defense was actually a family member or something? Except the Interludes usually have an impact on the main story somehow. Maybe they’d trigger in response to the realization, or something like that. But now I’m less speculating and more making up a fanfic premise (that has probably been done at least five times). What kind of power would that lead to… Maybe the power to know who anyone you see is?

Hmmm. Well, I’ll have to find out next time. See you then! 🙂

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.”

YES. PLEASE DO.

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?

“Leaving us to clean up the mess?”

“Sierra,” Charlotte spoke, her voice quiet, “Not worth it.”

Charlotte’s right, even with her own concerns about running low on food.

Yan gestured with the gun, and Sierra listened this time, stepping out of the way.

Sugita and Jay headed past the counter and into the kitchen, while Yan stood where she could block the front door.  Sierra could see Charlotte shrinking away.  Like a shark that smelled blood, Sugita turned his attention to her.

Sugita… *pulls up Google Translate on a suspicion*

…does not mean “shark”. It means “passed away”.

Yan means “eye”.

He stepped close, invading her personal space.

Fuck off.

Don’t show fear, Sierra prayed.

But Charlotte did.  In an instant, it was as though she was a different person than she’d been five minutes ago.  Weak-kneed, cringing, not even resisting as Sugita grabbed at her wrist.

image

Amy shook her head, “She needs to eat, and I need to rest.  I can speed up her digestion, like I did with breaking down the bugs inside her.  But I need so much material that it’s going to take a lot of food if I’m going to get everything she needs.  One night, and I can make her normal.”

Huh. That’s not that bad, really.

Tattletale shrugged, “That’s fine.  Just undo what you did first.”

But yeah, Amy’s deflecting and Lisa won’t have that.

“If she fights me and doesn’t let me finish-”

“That’s her choice.”  Tattletale repeated herself.

“No!  That’s- that’s not her.  That’s the change I made doing the talking, or the aftermath of it.  Even if I removed all the neural connections that have been made since, there’s so much more in the emotional cocktails and hormonal balances.

Hm.

Hmmm.

Fuck, we’re back to the issue of consent when brainwashed. Just a different kind of consent, and with the brainwashing having the opposite effect of what it was “supposed” to.

She’s channeling it into anger instead of… instead of love.”

Love.  The implications were so fucked up.  It was the sort of thing Heartbreaker did.

Yep.

The difference is Heartbreaker does it on purpose.

Glory Girl didn’t look ‘done’.  Scars crawled across her body, angry-looking, surrounded by burns from the acid and flames.  Her skin in areas where the flesh had melted away was so new and stretched so thin that it was translucent, and there was little to no body fat to pad the area between skin and muscle.

She looks a bit less, y’know, glorious.

“Fix her,” Tattletale said.  “You know what you did to her, you know it was wrong, undo it and walk away.”

Yeah, here we go.

“Can’t,” Amy shook her head, “I said I’ve done as much as I can, but there’s so much more I need to fix.  The parts I made with the bits I took from bugs will need to be replaced with real flesh.”

That’s not what Lisa meant and you know it, Amy.

“That’s her choice.  You saved her life, good on you, but you need to let her make the call.”

Right, fair enough.

Yet you’re asking Amy to mess with Victoria’s brain again without consent, even if it’s just to set right what she did.

“Why do you care so much?  You’re a bad guy.”

That’s a good question. Why does Lisa care so much about this? Does it have to do with her sense of sanctity of her own brain? Or is she just genuinely interested in helping Amy get over some of this stuff and then become a villain?

“Oh yeah,” Tattletale replied in a dry tone, “I’m evil, right?  Maybe that’s all the more reason to listen if I’m saying that something’s fucked up and wrong?”

Sounds like it’s closer to the former. If she’s telling the truth.

Also, this puts an interesting perspective on Lisa’s relationship with Alec. He doesn’t make people

emotionally

love him like his dad does (actually, the rape thing is super appropriate in relation to the difference powerwise between Heartbreaker/Cherish and Alec – the other two make people love them emotionally, while Alec used to make people love him physically), but it’s still a connection that could strongly affect Lisa’s opinion on him.

“She’s not thinking straight.  What I did-”

Is she cutting herself off because she doesn’t want to talk about what she did, or is someone cutting her off by challenging her to elaborate on what that is?

Or maybe Lisa, who surely already knows what Amy did, has something to say.

“Doesn’t matter,” Tattletale said.

And it’s a victory to the third one.

Amy shook her head, talking over her, “She’s always been emotional, passionate, unrestrained, and she’s channeling all this new emotion into hate, because it’s the closest equivalent.” 

To love?

And yes, that sounds like the Victoria I’ve come to know. I’d also add “rash”, though I suppose that’s implied by the mixture of the things Amy already said.

“New emotion?” Regent asked.  “You mean you mindraped her.”

You’re one to talk.

But yes. By accident and about as much Victoria’s fault as Amy’s, but yes.

Amy looked like she’d been slapped across the face.  I wasn’t surprised, but hearing it said out loud was unsettling.

“Seriously?”  Imp voiced the incredulity that everyone else seemed to be feeling.

Okay but seriously, if any of you actually still care about saving Victoria, you probably should save this conversation for later.