She spoke, interrupting his train of thought, “Okay.  You probably have some reason for keeping the darkness up this long.  I won’t complain, since you’re probably working things out in your own way, like I was talking about with my bugs, but maybe keep an eye on the chicken?”  She offered a small laugh, “I could use my bugs to check on it, maybe, but I don’t think either of us want that.”

Ahaha!

He glanced at the stove, prodding the chicken.  No problems.  He turned down the heat to be safe.

That’s a good idea if you’re going to be spacing out like this again.

“Look, Brian, I don’t want to stir up any unhappy thoughts, but I don’t want to ignore the subject either.  I did some reading, and there’s a pretty scary number of people who have their second trigger events and then have a bad ending shortly after.

Well that’s ominous. Are we talking suicide here?

I think it has to do with the toll it takes on you, the event… I’m… I’m not good at this.  At the people stuff.  But I have been through some dark spots.  My mom died not too long ago, I can’t remember if we really talked about that.  And there was the bullying, I sometimes wonder how much that influences what I do and why.

Oh man, she’s getting really personal here, in her effort to get through to him and connect.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but I guess I’m saying I’m here for whatever you need.”

I won’t speak for Brian, but I appreciate it, Taylor. I really do.

He knew he should feel relieved.  Knew that he should appreciate that Aisha had tried to do something to help him even if she wasn’t the best at expressing concern or affection.

He only felt guilty.

Hey! That’s Taylor’s trademark emotion. Now she’s going to have to sue you.

He’d been wallowing, stumbling around their headquarters in a fugue, and Aisha had apparently been going all out, taking out their enemies and clearing their territory of threats.  It had been a big task for the two of them, and she was doing it on her own.

With some help from Alec, probably. I don’t believe her when she says it’s only been a couple of times, what with how intimately she knew how well she and Alec worked together.

Why am I here?  He wondered.  He wasn’t a leader anymore, he wasn’t doing his job with his territory, wasn’t protecting the people he was important to, wasn’t working towards anything…

And your original motivation for being a cape has been largely out the window for quite a few Arcs now. Though the core of “protect Aisha” has remained.

Don’t go suicidal on us, though.

And Flashbang can’t shoot because Marquis will just armor himself before the sphere detonates.  Lightstar is injured, Fleur needs her hands free to strike, and Lady Photon’s incapacitated.

It’s not looking great for you guys.

This certainly doesn’t sound like the sort of easy victory what we knew of Marquis’ arrest made it sound like, along with the whole “all-female” thing.

So is this not when he was arrested? Except all signs point to this being when they find Amy. So was finding out about Amy and arresting Marquis two separate events, meant to build a moral dilemma about whether they should’ve done what they did to get Amy away from him? Or did someone get misinformed about how he was arrested?

“Brandish!”  Manpower shouted.  “Same plan, just the two of us!”

Right.  Their battle plan wasn’t useless, now.  Just harder to pull off.

Well, at least they’ve got something.

This would take some courage.

She charged forward, manifesting energy in the shape of a lance, driving it toward Marquis.

Is this a distraction for Manpower to attack when Marquis changes his target to ward off the lance?

He cast a glance her way and stuck one foot out in her direction.  His toes mutated into a jagged, uneven ripple of bone that stretched out beneath her.

Stop stepping on his toes like that.

Unable to maintain her footing, she had to cancel out the lance, using her hands to brace her fall.

Spikes of bone poked out of the ground in a circle around her, rising to form a cage.

Whoops.

She created twin knives out of energy, slashing out to cut through the bars.

The hardest part would be what came next.  Brandish threw herself in the way of the scythe’s swing.

Hm. Freeing Manpower from the pin by sticking herself into it? Except I’m pretty sure Brandish is more vulnerable than Manpower when she’s not in the morph ball form, so that really does sound a lot harder.

Marquis’ weapon virtually exploded into its component pieces, blade, join and shaft flying past her.

Oh! It’s not a pin switch, it’s basically parrying the weapon with her body.

But the scythe was made of bone, right? We’ve already discovered how much of an issue shattered bone can be in this fight.

“Careful now,” Marquis chided her.  “Don’t want to get decapitated now, do we?”

Sometimes, when the situation has gone completely fucking pear-shaped, there’s no other way out of it.

No longer on the defensive, Manpower charged the villain.

It wasn’t a pin switch, but it had the same end result – well, actually, a better one considering Brandish isn’t pinned in Manpower’s place.

I just rewatched The Incredibles in preparation for seeing the sequel at the cinema when it finally comes here in about a week (no spoilers for that, please).

While watching the early parts of the movie, I kept silently comparing the movie’s setting/premise to Worm, more specifically Emily Piggot.

For those unfamiliar with Incredibles backstory: In the 40’s, superheroes were fairly common, but after a 1947 incident involving a suicidal man suing the hero who rescued him (“I saved your life!” “You ruined my death!”), many collateral damage lawsuits cropped up. Public opinion of the supers dropped so hard that the government chose to force them into hiding, abandoning superheroics (though some heroes still did their thing in secret) and living normal lives like normal people. The movie’s main plot is set in 1962 and follows a family of two retired supers and their kids.

This can’t happen in the Wormverse, because supervillains are much more common there and there’s the Endbringers (and a bigger future threat) to contend with. As things stand, no one with any sense would suggest that getting rid of superheroes (just the heroes) would be a service to the greater good of the mundanes.

If not for those things, it does seem like a future Jirector Piggot would appreciate. Letting the parahumans keep their abilities to themselves and out of the mundanes’ lives, aided and restrained by the government, sounds like a dream for her.

But because that’s not an option, she does the next best thing, which ironically is to make sure the government-controlled superheroes’ PR stays positive, and do her best to help them get rid of the supervillains by all means necessary. She can’t help the mundanes be free of all parahuman influence, but she can help the more lawful parahumans free them of the most detrimental of it.

If she could finally put an end to supervillains and Endbringers somehow, then her focus might change.

I’m not sure how clear I’ve been about this so far, but I think the perspective shown in Interlude 13 turned Director Emily Piggot into a very interesting spanner to throw into this story’s conflicts.

“Do we risk it?” Trickster asked.  “Letting her out?”

“Nothing she can’t do outside the bubble that she couldn’t do inside,” Tattletale replied.

Uhh, I think you may have misspoken a little, Tattle. Surely you meant “Nothing she can do”. The way it stands, you’re saying that she can do literally anything outside the bubble that she was unable to inside it.

Coil nodded, and that seemed to be signal enough.

Genesis began to dissolve, and in moments, Cherish spilled out, wincing as she cut her hands and knees on the glass that Shatterbird had detached from her costume and weaponized.

Oops.

Tattletale bent down and looked at the device that hung around Cherish’s neck.  “Small explosive, combination lock.  A bit paranoid?”

A bit Vasil, aware of her brother’s capabilities.

“No such thing as too paranoid,” Cherish said, glaring.  “Between my brother and the crap that Bonesaw and the rest of the team want to subject me to, knowing I’ll die if I leave that thing alone long enough actually helps me sleep at night.”

Makes sense to me, especially with the attitude Cherish has towards suicide.

“Come on, Taylor,” Grue said.  He tried to pull me to my feet, and I didn’t move.  “We can deal with all that later.  Right now, we’ve just got to get away.  We survive.”

Man, the Nine just keep fucking over Skitter’s territory. Shatterbird, Mannequin, now Burnscar…

“Survive,” I muttered.

I’d been prepared to die against Mannequin if it meant removing one monster from the world.

Honestly, I can’t blame her for that part. I was more disturbed that she briefly seemed to have lost the will to live because the Nine had compromised her mission to save Dinah.

It was a pretty good indication of how much I valued my life at these days.  I’d cut ties with my dad, dropped out of school, helped get Lung arrested and started chain of events that had led to the ABB terrorizing tens of thousands of people.

Which it seems I wasn’t quite off the mark about.

Taylor is so deep down the rabbit hole of negativity that she’s very close to being straight up suicidal.

I’ve never seen Taylor as a protagonist meant to be emulated. She has some very good qualities that it doesn’t hurt to mimic, of course, but overall she strikes me as a cautionary tale, especially in later Arcs. A tale about what happens if you don’t focus on yourself from time to time, don’t allow yourself to be happy or value your accomplishments.

Taylor is miserable, and I think a large portion of the story so far has been meant to show how she ended up like that, so we might avoid making the same mistakes.

I’d served as a distraction so a power-hungry supervillain could kidnap a girl and keep her drugged up in some underground cell for months.  I’d stood by to let a man die.  I’d become a full-fledged villain.  Pledged to protect people and then let them die horribly.  Not once, not twice, but three times.

You did the best you could.

“Or I light you up,” I said.

Could I?  I believed I could.  Maybe it was fatigue speaking.  Maybe it was the grim recognition of the fact that Mannequin had spoiled any hopes I’d had of winning Coil’s respect and saving Dinah when he’d murdered the people in my territory.

…are you sure that’s why you care?

He’d singlehandedly destroyed my reputation and dealt a grave blow to the thing that had been driving me forward.  Maybe a teeny-tiny part of it was hopelessness, knowing that I couldn’t beat him otherwise.

Look, I’m on record as saying I don’t think any of the Slaughterhouse Nine will die until at least further into the nomination game, so I think she’s either going to think herself out of it or it’s not actually going to kill him. But do I think she should do it? Absolutely.

So yeah, if he was going to snatch my hopes of saving Dinah from me, if Bitch and Grue were about to die anyways, I could turn the tables and blow us all up.

…right. That’s a bit more concerning.

She’s basically considering taking Mannequin out in a suicide attack in part because he messed with her chances of saving Dinah. Seriously, Taylor, I absolutely think this fucker needs to die, but that’s a super shitty reason to take yourself and four of your friends with you.

(Yes, four. Sirius and Bastard are doggos and thus friends by default.)

I might not save Dinah, but I could save all the people Mannequin would murder otherwise in the course of his career.  No bluffing.

This is true, though. Where was this logic when you beat him the first time, or when you considered taking out Jack?

(For some reason, I ran into technical difficulties trying to post this as a photo post, so let’s try it like this. Might be more practical to read too? Feedback on whether I should stick to this format for fanart commentary would be appreciated.)

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evaexe: This piece nicely depicts one of the best things about Bonesaw: even with a bunch of blood around her, clearly spilled by her while doing awful things, she’s adorbs.

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Endless_Assault: Man, it’s good to see that smile again. I really like the pose and coloration here, too.

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ArtLounge: The adorableness streak continues with a little chibi Vista! Wait, is she… is she dabbing, to the best of her chibi ability (chibility)? Either way, this is cute.

…is she actually chibi or did she accidentally warp the space around her own head…

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ArtofLariz: Damn, Aisha looks amazing here. Badass and beautiful! Give her some years and she might become a true femme fatale.

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More ArtofLariz: Skitter certainly isn’t slacking on the badassery either. This might be the most badass image I’ve seen that involves a ladybug, which is saying something considering I’m in the fandom for a show with a ladybug-themed badass as one of the main leads.

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Blastweave: It took me a moment to understand what I was looking at, but it turned out the answer was “something very cool”. Oh, and Dragon vs. Leviathan. It’s a visually busy piece, but that fits very well with the chaos of the scene it’s depicting. The rooftop Tattletale in the background is a nice touch.

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diangu246: Don’t litter, folks – if you leave large sheets of plastic out in nature, wild Scions can get stuck in them! Jokes aside, though, this is a really good-looking piece. I love the lighting and the somewhat somber expression, in particular. 🙂

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RespicePostTe: The artists of this fandom seem to be really good at making the girls look cute (when appropriate). This is no exception – between the pose, expression and pretty, bright colors, it’s hard to remember that this is a girl who regularly gets people to kill themselves.

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ChromaCurves: Ooh, I think I’ve heard of this piece before – back after Interlude 11h, someone mentioned that there were more pieces like this one by ChromaCurves (that were still spoilery – I suppose Crawler was the only reason that was still the case for this one).

This doesn’t disappoint. All the Ponyhouse Nine designs look quite fitting! But where’s Pinkie Pie?

Crawler doesn’t look particularly like a pony – to be fair, the original doesn’t look much like a human either – but I appreciate how he’s got components from various species in the MLP universe. The first thing I noticed was the changeling queen horn, but he’s also got the axolotl-like cheek things from Spike (seriously, why can’t I find art of Spike as an axolotl? axolotls are great), a pegasus wing, eye effects similar to King Sombra, at least one pony ear, and transparent spike-like things on his head that I’m sure I’ve seen somewhere in MLP but can’t place. There might be more I’m not noticing too. This is a neat design!

So yeah! The Worm artists continue to be excellent. Keep up the good work! 😀

Ignoring the woman, I turned and headed for the door, hurrying outside.  She barked something snide at my back.

I was battle ready as I approached the ambulance and checked the area.  Nobody.

Hmm…

Cherish’s power is well suited to taking out the paramedics from a distance while they’re in the ambulance, but her usual M.O. as far as we’ve seen would normally lead to bloodspray.

Then again, there might be something in the ambulance the paramedics could inject to kill themselves bloodlessly.

But I’m not sure why she’d attack here and now. More likely, a patient decided to knock out the paramedics and run off for some reason.

Stepping inside, I checked on the paramedics and the patient with an oxygen balloon strapped to his face.  The paramedics were beyond help, dead, their heads twisted at an ugly angle.

Yikes.

Probably not Cherish, unless she got them to twist their own heads, or got the patient to do it. What’s up with the patient?

The patient hadn’t been dispatched the same way.  I checked his throat to find him still warm, but he wasn’t breathing and he had no pulse.

While this does support the idea of the patient doing it and then offing himself, somewhat, I don’t see why Cherish would do it that way. She’s perfectly capable of suicide-murdering three people at once. So I think that’s further evidence it wasn’t her.

Hmmm… Crawler, maybe? But again, why?

I squeezed the balloon, and huge amounts of blood bubbled from what I had taken to be a shallow cut in his chest. The bubbles meant the oxygen was leaking from his punctured lung.

Yikes.

1) Suggestion to reread the Gallant-Amy conversation in Interlude 3, now that you know what is going on under the surface. 2) Which S9 member (if any at all) do you find the most viscerally horrifying? For me it is Cherish without a doubt. The idea that she can twist my feelings and make me want to kill myself… *shudders*.

1) Yeah, I should do that.

2) Oh yeah, I agree. Cherish’s power is quite horrifying. It’s either her or Bonesaw.