Tangle 6.1

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I squared off against a very thin Japanese man of Grue’s height.  He held a knife in one hand and a katana in the other.

A narrow smile crossed his face as he made his katana blade whip around himself at lightning speed.

At my command, a swarm of wasps flowed from beneath the armor of my costume and set themselves on him.  There was a moment of bewildered swatting before he started howling in pain.  Both katana and knife fell to the ground as he started using his hands to flail at the swarm.

I drew my baton and struck him across the bridge of his nose.  I wound up hitting him much harder than I intended to, as he just happened to bend forward at the same moment I swung.  As he reeled, blood streaming from his face, I lunged forward with a low swing to hit him in the side of the knee.

He crumpled to the ground and writhed, in too much pain to retaliate.  I bent down to pick up the knife, which looked cheap, and the katana, which looked antique.  I used the knife to cut the katana’s sheath from his side, then dropped the knife and kicked it into a storm drain.

With the sheathed katana in one hand and my baton in the other, I looked over the evening’s battlefield.

The building that loomed over us was a tenement, like countless others in the Docks.  Five or more apartments in an area so small it should only hold three at most.  Ten or twelve families sharing a single bathroom and shower.  That reality was ugly on its own, but word had been that the ABB was turning tenement buildings like this one into barracks for their soldiers.  That the less than enthusiastic recruits, the ones with bombs implanted in their heads, were being gathered up here so they could be watched, trained, equipped, and deployed by the ABB’s captains.

I’d balked at first.  I’d been worried that it was a ploy on Kaiser’s part to get the organized villains of Brockton Bay to attack a building full of helpless people.  Even after Tattletale had confirmed this was an ABB base of operations, I’d had my doubts.

Had my doubts, that was, until we’d attacked and ABB soldiers had flooded out of the building like ants from an anthill.  Clowns from a clown car.  A ridiculous number of people, anyways, for a building that wasn’t all that big.

We were outnumbered twenty to one, but I doubted any of us were really breaking a sweat.  There was nobody with powers fighting in the ABB’s defense, since only Bakuda was uninjured and we had an idea of where she was holed up.  That meant that all we had to worry about were their rank and file gang members, and we’d already taken out the guys with guns.

Blazing fires as tall as I was dotted the road around the tenement.  In other spots, patches of darkness lingered.  There was no power to the area and there hadn’t been any for days, probably the military’s work, and the battlefield was lit by the flame alone, giving the ongoing fight had an almost hellish appearance to it.  The faces of the ABB members contorted in pain and fear.  The villains advancing, implacable, with faces like Grue’s skeletal helmet, Spitfire’s modified gas mask with the lenses reflecting the flames and Gregor’s doughy face with barnacle-like bits of shell crusting it.

And me, I supposed.  The yellow lenses of my freshly repaired mask, mandible design framing my jaw.

I headed towards where the fight was mainly happening, and came face to face with a twenty-something man.  I immediately pegged him as one of the recruited.  Someone who wouldn’t be fighting if it weren’t for the bomb planted in his brain.  He held a baseball bat pointed at me like it was a blade.

“Surrender,” I told him, “Put the weapon down, lie on the ground and put your hands on your head.”

“N-no.  I can’t!”

“I’ve got powers.  You don’t.  In the past ten minutes, I’ve taken down people bigger than you, with better weapons, people with killer instinct, and I did it without a sweat.  I’ll tell you right now, you lost.  You’ll lose this fight.  Lie down and put your hands on your head.”

“No!”  He stepped forward, raising the bat.

I didn’t like fighting these guys.  Didn’t like hurting them.  But if they wouldn’t surrender, the next closest thing I could offer to mercy was hurting them obviously enough that their willingness to join the fight wouldn’t come into question if he wound up having to explain to Bakuda.

I set my bugs on him, hoping to distract him enough to buy me time to deliver a decisive blow.  This guy, though, he didn’t buckle.  Rather than struggle, he charged headlong through the swarm of biting and stinging insects, blindly flailing his bat in my direction.  I had to scramble backward to avoid being clubbed.  I drew my baton back, tried to decide when and how to strike.  If his bat hit my baton, he could disarm me.  If I could hit his hand, though, or catch him with his guard down…

There was no need.  Grue stepped in, almost casually, and put his fist through the poor guy’s jaw.   He crashed to the ground, the bat sliding out of his hands.

“Thanks,” I said, even as I winced in empathy for the guy that had just been knocked out.

“No prob,” the haunting vibes of his voice were at odds with his casual choice of words.  “We’re nearly done here.”

I glanced around the battlefield.  Injured and unconscious ABB members littered the ground around the building.  Though we’d been outnumbered at the outset, only a few stragglers remained.

“Tattletale!” Grue bellowed, “How many?”

“This is it!  Building’s clear!” she called back.  Following her voice, I saw her crouching on top of one of the few cars parked along the street, gun dangling from her fingers, out of the way of the fight and with deterrence in hand.

“Spitfire!” Grue called out.  “Snail!”

The two members of Faultline’s team worked in tandem.  Spitfire set about spewing a geyser of fluid out of the nozzle at the base of her mask, directing it to the base of the building, where it ignited on contact.  Gregor the Snail, in turn, reached out with one hand and blasted out a steady stream of foam at the adjacent buildings.  He’d informed us before the fight started – he could concoct a variety of chemicals in his prodigious stomach and project them in a stream from his skin.  Adhesives, lubricants and strong acids, among other things.  The one he would be using now would be something fire retardant, as we’d planned.  It wouldn’t do to burn down the neighborhood.

While Spitfire worked on burning the building to the ground, and Gregor kept the blaze contained to the one building, the rest of us spent several minutes working on disarming and moving the injured and unconscious enemies from the building’s vicinity.  Grue had supplied me with a package of dozens of plastic wrist-cuffs, and I started making use of them on the ABB members.

Grue approached me, “I ran out.  Got extras?”

I handed him a fistful of the wrist ties.

“So this thing with the ABB is almost over,” he said, “And I was talking to Fog, one of Kaiser’s people.  Sounds like he’s not going to press the issue over Bitch and the dogfighting thing, like you suspected.”

I nodded, “Good.  I don’t like them, but that’s a fight we don’t need just yet.”

Grue wrestled with a gang member with an injured leg, twisting the guy’s arms behind his back and then punching him in the kidney when his struggling made it too difficult to get the plastic handcuffs on.  The guy gave up the fight.

“You got any plans for tomorrow?”

I turned my attention away from the unconscious girl I was cuffing and looked at Grue.

“Well?” he asked.

“I’m planless.  No plan,” I fumbled my words.  Technically, I could or should be going back to school, but I still had the tentative excuse of the concussion, so I could get away with missing another few days.  After the way the meeting with the school had gone, I was glad for the excuse.

“Want to come over to my place?  I’m supposed to have a group meeting to discuss progress and whatever for this online class I’m taking, but I’ve also got my sister’s caseworker stopping by to check out my apartment in the afternoon.  I was hoping to buy some furniture and get it put together by then, but I’m tight on time and it’ll be a hell of a lot easier with two people,” he told me, “…and that was a rambling explanation.”

“I got the gist.  Yeah, I could do that.”

I had seen him smile that boyish grin of his often enough that I could picture it behind his mask.

“I’ll text you with the time and address?”

“Alright.”

He gave me a very ‘guy’ clap on the shoulder, then headed over to catch up to a guy that was trying to crawl away, a little ways down the street.

As he left, Tattletale joined me, taking a few wrist-ties from me, and helping me with others.  She was grinning.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“You’re reading too much into it,” I told her.

“He didn’t invite me,” she gave me a sly look.

“Maybe he knows you wouldn’t have accepted.”

“Maybe he suspects I would’ve, and he wanted to spend time with just you.”

I had my doubts.  Definite doubts, about what she was implying.  I didn’t get a chance to clarify.

“Coming down!” Gregor roared.  There was a rumble as the building began to sag, followed by a crash as it started folding in on itself.  Spitfire directed her napalm breath to one corner of the building, obliterating the wood and stone there.  She swiftly backed up as the building finished its controlled collapse.

As the rubble settled, Gregor sprayed his extinguishing foam with one hand, directing the stream against the fingers of his other hand so the stream separated into a broad spray.  Where each of the droplets hit a part of the building, they swelled into a blob of foam a few feet across.  In short order, the building was covered enough that only a few traces of flame were still visible.

“We’re done, let’s move!” Grue called out, returning to where Tattletale and I were.

We scrammed, leaving the thugs tied up, while Spitfire and Gregor the Snail disappeared down a different street.

We’d broken into a dilapidated old mechanic’s shop to stash our ride, and we returned there in short order as Tattletale made a call to the authorities about dealing with the ABB members.  As the car pulled out and headed towards the water, I let myself breathe again.

Our third night like this since Bitch and I had gone up against Lung.  Each night had been easier than the last, and I wasn’t sure how much of that was me getting more comfortable with things, and how much was the fact that the ABB was falling apart under the sustained onslaught.

“I think the ABB is just about done,” Grue spoke from the driver’s seat, echoing my thoughts and his earlier statement.

“Three days and nights of pressure from the police, military, all the good guys and most of the villains in the city will do that,” I said.

Lisa commented, “It’s like I was telling you, Taylor, someone breaks those unspoken rules, the community protects the status quo.  Us villains make truce with the local authorities, we actually work together, in a way, with the cops, capes and military holding the line during the day, and taking down any ABB members who stick their heads up, while us villains do the nitty gritty stuff… In this case, it’s probably more blatant an invoking of that than any example I can think of.  Guess we can thank Coil for that.”

“It’s been a learning experience,” I added, “If nothing else, I’ve gotten a better sense of the other groups.  I didn’t think Coil’s soldiers would be quite as good as the ones I saw in action.  Meeting the members of Faultline’s crew, and the Travelers, too.  They’re not bad people.”

“I learned a lot too, in a different way,” Tattletale leaned forward from the backseat, putting her head and shoulders between the two front seats.  “I said part of the reason I wanted to go with Trickster and his shapeshifter teammate was to figure out their powers, right?  I  never shared.”

“And?” Grue asked.  One hand still on the wheel, he peeled off his helmet with the other.  It took only a second for the darkness around his face to clear up.

“And Trickster, their leader, is a teleporter.  Not just himself.  He can make anything he can see teleport.  Except there’s a special rule to his power, a restriction.  He has to swap the places of two things with roughly equivalent mass.  The bigger the difference in mass, the slower the swap and shorter his range.”

“That sounds like a pretty large drawback,” Brian said.

“He makes it work.  He had ABB members hitting their own guys, he was disarming them like it was a piece of cake.  As for the ‘shapeshifter’.”  Tattletale made finger quotes.  “Her name is Genesis.  Her power?  Remotely controlled projections.”

“She’s not actually there?”

Tattletale shook her head.  “Showed up with a triceratops-bull-cyborg thing, charged through the front door, set off a trap, got blown to smithereens.  And Trickster just laughed.  Two minutes later, she’d pulled together a lady knight in shining armor and was dealing with the guys with guns.”

“Geez,” I said, “Sundancer’s got a miniature sun.  Ballistic, as Brian and I saw just last night, just needs to touch something to have it go rocketing off at a few hundred feet a second.  Doesn’t matter if it’s ball bearings or a car.  Add this new info, and well…”

“Heavy hitters,” Brian finished for me.

“We can be glad they’re on our side,” I said.

“For now,” Brian pointed out, “We still don’t know why they’re here and why they’re helping.”

He glanced at Tattletale, eyebrow raised.  She shrugged, “My power’s not telling me anything concrete.  I’m as curious as you are.”

I joined Brian in pulling off my mask.  The car, supplied by our boss, had tinted windows, so there was no stress there.  I’d have to put it on again when we made our way past the military blockade, but that wasn’t such a problem.

I lowered the sun visor above the windshield and used the mirror to examine my neck.  The bruise was still noticeable, there.  Much as Bitch had said, it looked like I’d survived a hanging.

“Mind if I stay over again, tonight?” I asked.

I saw Tattletale shrug in the backseat, through the mirror.  “It’s your place too.  You don’t even need to ask.  I think you should call your dad, though, so he doesn’t worry.”

“Yeah, call your dad,” Brian confirmed.

“Alright.”  I was going to do that anyways.

When the military barricades with flashing lights atop them came into view in the distance, we pulled into the loading area for what had once been a small grocery store, out of sight.

“Any rush?” I asked.

“We’re good,” Tattletale said, “I’m going to call Regent and Bitch, see how their group is doing.”

“Then I’ll call my dad.”

I stepped out of the car to make my call.

He picked up on the first ring.

“Hi dad.”

“Taylor.  I’m relieved to hear from you.”

So he’d been concerned.

“I’m going to stay at Lisa’s again, tonight.”

“I’d like you to come home, Taylor.  It worries me that I haven’t seen you since you left the meeting at the school.”

“I’m okay.”

“It’s not that I don’t believe you, but I’ll feel a lot better when I see that for myself.  I want to talk, have dinner and breakfast together, touch base.  I don’t want to lose touch like we did after…”

“After mom died,” I finished for him.  “It’s okay, Dad.  I just… I guess I needed a change of pace, to get away from it all for a little bit.  I already made plans for tonight.  It’d be awkward to cancel.  I’ll come home for dinner tomorrow?”

He hesitated.  “Okay, just tell me you’re going to school.”

“Yeah,” the lie passed through my lips easily, but it sat heavy on my conscience.  Disappointing him would have felt worse, though.  I tried to take the edge off the guilt by making it a half-untruth, “I didn’t go Monday.  I started going yesterday afternoon.”

“I suppose that’s better than nothing.  I’ll see you tomorrow night, then.”

“Love you, dad.”

“Love you too.”

I hung up.  It was a white lie, right?  I wasn’t really hurting anyone, and my dad would only worry more if I told him I wasn’t going to school.

Tattletale and Grue climbed out of the car as I pulled on my mask.

“All set?” she asked.

“Ready,” I answered.

She opened the hatch at the base of the grocery store, that would lead us into the tunnels that stretched beneath the barricade.

We descended into the darkness.

Last Chapter                                                                                                Next Chapter

53 thoughts on “Tangle 6.1

  1. *Cleans and loads a handgun emblazoned with the word “Chekhov” on the barrel. Then, he twists a dial low on the grip and sets it down. Moments later, it disappears into a pocket dimension, to reappear later when needed.* Those Travelers sure sound interesting.

    Taylor’s going to have to come down from this escape some time, and the more she puts off school and her dad, the harder the landing will be. Plus, many of us are very eager to see more about the school stuff. It’s really disappointing to see her keep on having this truancy problem. I mean, I really don’t want her to turn out to be a bad person. Also, you can tell from the way she handled those two fellows that she’s getting much more confident with her whoop-ass stick.

    • Nah Psycho, technically this is a variant of Chekhov’s Gun properly termed Chekhov’s Gunman.

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChekhovsGunman

      Although they’re substantial characters, and for it to be a proper Chekhov it’s supposed to be somebody really minor. But still.

      I for one don’t mind Taylor being out of school. I could see some ways the school stuff might be made interesting. (war of dirty tricks without superpowers back and forth anyone? I could see that being fun. Maybe the inevitable Horrible Thing that causes her oppressors to develop superpowers and then become catty and insufferable heroes. God, I hope not. Too predictable.)

      Still, I think the out of school stuff is *more* interesting.

      • Oddly enough, if I missed a class, the school had a thing that would autodial your parents home that afternoon and play recorded message saying “Your son or daughter missed a class today.”

      • If she is at all concerned about life after the Undersiders, she needs to graduate from college. If she wants to keep a good job, she really needs at least a high school diploma; if she wants to be a masked cape, she needs to have a decent cover job. If she decides to be an unmasked member of the Wards/Protectorate or something, she’s fine, but other than that…

        And that’s ignoring that, sooner or later, her dad will find out. Maybe the school calls. Maybe Danny asks a question Taylor can’t answer. Maybe her report card comes in the mail, revealing straight F’s and comments indicating absence. Maybe Emma’s dad mentions that Taylor hasn’t been to school. Whatever it is, Taylor needs and lacks a good excuse.

        • I was thinking along the same lines – attending and finishing school will make maintaining a civilian cover easier. Also useful to have general knowledge that you’d have if you pay attention in class.

          That said, I am completely sympathetic to Taylor’s desire to escape bullying. She should’ve pushed harder for a transfer to Arcadia, IMO.

          • does she really need to know how to calculate at what time a train leaving baltamore and one leaving grand central will pass eachother? well I suppose if *anybody* did it’d be a cape..but they usually seem to eyeball that sort of thing

  2. minor confusion that might just be me, or might not… right near the start, Regent’s described as one of the team marching in on the ABB barracks; after the fight, Tattletale calls him since he’s on a different team that night.

    • oh, and it just now occurred to me: Taylor’s got a trophy katana now? it’s mentioned she picked it up, but not what she did with it after that. (wall hanger on her room in their HQ?)

      • You know, I realized that when I was doing a sweep of edits to the chapter, that I hadn’t brought it up again, but got distracted by something else.

        In any event, her intent was more to ensure the guy was disarmed of anything he could use as a weapon than to take a trophy, but the katana does show up a little later.

  3. How odd I could have sworn I left a comment here last night. Oh well. Should that be “I squared off against” in the first panel. Unless she is planing the Japanese wanna be samurai it doesn’t seem to make sense.
    Also I don’t like that Taylor has been skipping school. Oh well I guess she can go for her G.E.D. or something.

  4. eh, i don’t much care about the school-skipping; the in-school chapters aren’t nearly this fun, and this stuff provides more character development as well. unless all the skipping is building to some break-with-civilian-life climax, which could be handled either way really.

    • It’s funny, the divide between people who want Taylor to go evil, the people who want her to be good. The divide, at the same time (and not necessarily the same people in both groups) of those who want her to get life back on the straight and narrow, and those who would rather avoid the subject of her school life.

      I may be setting myself up for a situation where I make half my readerbase unhappy with whatever choice I make. ;)

      • What does the ‘straight and narrow’ have to do with School?? I dislike the school chapters, would rather see her leave school permanently, but I want her to be good… very good. Those aren’t contradictions. (In fact, I think they are synonymous :) )

      • Well, like I said, there’s people who want her to be good, people who want her villainous, and they aren’t split along the same lines as those who want her in school or out of it.

        As far as ‘straight and narrow’ and school, I’ll avoid the semantic arguments and subjective viewpoints on that front.

        • :)

          Mind you, I think I understand why you are doing the school thing… not the ethical bits but for story flow. Superhero books traditionally have some kind of public/private life dichotomy which adds to the tension.

      • I for one am supportive of her choice to be a supervillain, but school is important too. See, Taylor’s dad obviously means quite a lot to her, and she to him. If she doesn’t return, she’ll either have to create a bigger schism by lying even more, or she’ll tell him and disappoint him, drawing suspicion on just what she’s doing with these new friends of hers that she spends all this time with. Is she in a gang? Doing drugs? He knows the dockworkers remember. People who work and maybe live in that area.

        Furthermore, it’s time for her to take back her public life. She’s got power, influence, money, friends. She can start a campaign to get back her public life. My idea consists of a two-pronged assault, maybe more depending on how many forks she can fix to their seats.

        Nah, really she needs lots of tiny little cameras to record the bullying. See, some people on the internet really hate bullies. Sometimes they are bullies too. What this has meant a few times is that people who bully get bullied once videos of them get put on youtube, in this case a nice anonymous youtube account. There’s got to be a way to manage that. You see, the internet is much like any tool, such as fire or death rays. It can be used for good and evil. It makes the school looks bad, forcing them to do something about it, and likely gets the evil trio’s lives disrupted by cyber attacks. If the lawyer dad tries to do something about, just recording and posting the video for all to see isn’t a crime, but now that he’s talking to cops, they’d like a word with him about those anti-bullying laws and his daughter…

        Also, make it appear that the girls are being pranked in real life as well by some anonymous person. A jar of cockroaches in a locker, worms in her lunch, whatever. Make it very clear that the more she bullies Taylor, the more she will be bullied right back. Also, as a final way of driving the point home, create a massive infestation of bugs that causes the school to close for fumigation and sends the kids elsewhere for awhile. It also provides a good time to reevaluate how the school is being run with these incidents occuring.

        I believe I’ll quote the great Sean Connery on this one: “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong in hitting a woman, though I don’t recommend you do it the same way that you hit a man.” …hold up a minute here, Connery, someone needs to have a talk with you about this one…

    • I have no bleeding clue why it’s doing that. Geez… let’s see…

      I disabled the category, re-enabled it, and it fixed itself. Bizarre.

      Thanks for the heads up! Much appreciated.

  5. There are at least three other options regarding school and her civilian identity Taylor can take beyond merely “going” and “not going”;

    1) Have termites undermine the school building then make it collapse during the night. Nobody’s hurt and everyone is forced to go to another school where the bad girls won’t have established social power yet.

    2) Taylor fakes her own death. After that, going or not going to school becomes irrelevant.

    3) Taylor dies in battle. After that, going or not going to school becomes irrelevant.

    • True, but the concerns with these would be:

      1) Wood in buildings nowadays is treated with poison to deter termites. Even if Taylor had enough of a supply of termites, the things don’t necessarily work fast enough to get the job done in a night. Even if they did, or if she was willing to make it a long term project, Taylor doesn’t necessarily have the know-how to ensure 100% that the building would collapse at a safe time. AND the only termites you’ll find in the Northeastern States are subterranean termites, and those ones don’t generally thrive in a coastal area with an aquifer.
      TL;DR: Termites are probably out.

      2) The major problem about faking her death is that it’d pretty much kill her dad for realsies. Still, can’t deny it’s an option.

      3) A definite option. It’s very possible that she may have been unconsciously veering towards this road at some points.

  6. Heh. Subterranean termites were precisely what I had in mind. Brewing nitroglycerin isn’t very hard especially if you use bugs to brew it in tiny, relatively safe amounts.It is certainly less complicated than bees making their hives out of wax or termites keeping stables of those annoying, green, plant-sucking licelike things as miniature cows for the sweet juice they secrete. (their name escapes me at the moment)
    With 50.000 or so insects put to work, each one brewing 1 gr of TNT per day, you get 50 kilos easily. In the meantime, you’ve used other insects to slowly open up tiny tunnels beneath the building enough for insects to pass but not much else. When you’re ready, you send your insects to carry the TNT in tiny amounts under the building; with ten trips each (I’d say 8 hours or so) you would have moved the explosives there. Then you detonate. :)

    It should be easy enough to adapt that technique for other stuff.

    1) Just get some microdarts and load up with, I dunno, Brazilian wandering spider venom? Each one of those suckers comes loaded with 1 mg of PhTx3, a neurotoxin that causes death and potential impotence. The LD-50 dose is 0.1 mg for a 200-pound man. A microdart could contain as much as 100 mg. Then have insects carry the microdarts in combat. A single sting will probably kill an elephant, let alone most people. Fairly easy to use in assassinations, too.

    2) Get insects to insert technological microbugs into “secure” places. A fly can get into lots of places unhindered and leave the bug. Other insects can cause ridiculous amounts of damage in vulnerable equipment such as computers with the right directions.

    • “Brewing nitroglycerin isn’t very hard”

      indeed, it’s simplicity itself. the tricky bit is keeping the final nitration step from running away and overheating the entire mixture on you. commercial nitroglycerin manufacture involves some fairly impressive cooling equipment for just that reason. then, too, there’s storing and (especially) transporting the infamously shock-sensitive end product, as well…

      …that sort of thing is something Bakuda might have been doing while in kindergarten, true enough, but it’d be kind of out of character for most of the undersiders, i’d think. a possibility, perhaps, but maybe not the most likely one for their gang.

      me, i’ve started wondering about just why Tattletale offered to take care of her school problems for her, many a chapter and a couple of story-weeks ago now. simple friendship was probably a large part of that offer, but was that the whole reason? she has to know more about Taylor’s motivations and goals than she’s letting on; “knows more than she’s letting on” is practically her character definition. Taylor wants to escape from her civilian life and (perhaps, still?) become a superhero, but what do her teammates want for her at this point?

      • Good observations and good questions.

        I think what Belial666 was saying though, was that the tricky, dangerous and fine-handling aspects of handling the nitro would be dealt with by the bugs.

      • *kaboom!*

        Taylor: Damn it, now I need another ant colony. Oh well, there’s always more of those.

        Belial, remind me never, ever to make you an enemy. Using bugs to brew nitroglycerin is seriously well into evil genius territory, it’s fabulous.

    • Nah, just get a horde of Nasutitermitinae termite soldiers. Their faces are guns that fire poisonous adhesive. Mother Nature: earth’s original evil genius.

      Remember, the fly could just stick around, breed in a place. She can hear through it anyways. The bug could be the bug. Better yet, get some small, very easily dissolvable caplets of sodium or potassium. You know, something that blows up when it interacts with water. They can bomb it into a person’s mouth or glass, or just fly up in there when they go to drink water. Even a little bomb, in the right place, can cause lots of problems. Also, get Taylor to check the girls over for tapeworms. Next time they cause trouble, make the tapeworm crawl out their mouth or butt in public.

      Also, I think termites blowing up a school is a little showy. Anyone got a look at that, they’d realize someone with the power to control bugs was up to something. Maybe check if any young-looking superheroes in the area with that ability are somehow affiliated with that school. Nitro just stands out a lot more as uncharacteristic behavior for termites than a simple infestation of lots of roaches.

      • Well, she can’t quite hear through her bugs. As she says in 2.6, noises break down to weird and irritating pitches that she can’t quite make out.

        The one real exception to this occurs at the conclusion of the ‘Shell’ arc, where she was overhearing music through a moth. But that’s an exception, not the rule.

  7. Taylor might be able to sense things through her bugs but a technological bug would also allow others to hear too – or for her to get information stored in an electronic archive. Sure, she could potentially peek when a certain lawyer is having his accounts handled but wouldn’t it be much better to bug his place and get all kinds of incriminating or entertaining info?

    • Don’t you think they’d notice all the beetles all over the place?
      You might remember that some time ago there was a thing about DARPA or some other bunch of researchers implanting microchips into the brains of bugs and controlling them. They said they were working on potentially turning bugs into actual bugs, but they would have to use beetles, as they were the only type of insect strong enough to carry the equipment, and even then the power source would have to be something using small-scale radiation. Sure, Taylor can use bigger bugs or multiple bugs, but that kind of negates the stealth part of it all.

      Still, if she can actually get some bugs into his office or wherever he goes over casework and evidence, she could turn a profit by selling off some information to whoever he’s going against. Give him a turn of bad luck and make him a liability to whatever law firm he’s in. And yes, before anyone things I’m some sort of conspiracy theorist, the big about microchips in bugs is true. Look it up.

  8. If anything, that article strongly understates things. The degree of miniaturization required to build a camera 1mm long was acheived decades ago. Painted-on solar panel tech also renders the need of a power source irrelevant; as long as there’s light enough to record, the camera has light enough to power itself.
    Regarding the stealth part, NASA made a robotic worm a few mm long some years ago. It’s kinda hard to see with the naked eye more than a yard away or so.

    • What’s the point of a bug controlling protagonist if you’re just going to use a NASA-designed robot worm to plant electronic bugs anyway?

  9. This is weird. The link to “next chapter” is available but when I do press it, it gives me something about embarassment and being unable to find what I’m looking for…

    • I usually update the link prior to the actual update going up, so it’s working when the chapter is available to you guys. I updated it a little early tonight, but yeah. Sorry for any confusion. If I knew of a better way to handle the transition, I’d jump on it.

      Update’s scheduled to go live 3 hours and 54 minutes from the time I post(ed) this comment.

  10. hi
    first of al thanks for the story

    i think there is a should there that isn’t wanted in

    should only should hold

    sry for the nonexistant Email

  11. ive seen this mistake a lot in your chapters, particularly this one, so i suggest you do a CTR F for “the the” to find all of them for each of your chapters. it really breaks me out of the story when i read it, and i dont feel like commenting on all the ones ive seen in all the chapters.

  12. I don’t know why Danny is holding the stupid/unempathetic ball here. It’s only been a few days, -he- should still be pissed off a the school and the bullies enough to be looking into ways to fight or protect Taylor – and not want her to be there. Much less should his normal perceptiveness of her feelings and his carefulness in interactions with her be lessened to such a degree that he’d suggest she go when she’s very obviously not wanting to be anywhere near there and it’s likely that new problems will spring up for her as soon as she shows up. While I’ve argued that Taylor’s backstory doesn’t demonstrate reason for her to take certain paths – much less see them – Danny is a Union Rep who should know about power dynamics and pressure tactics, and someone who knows Emma’s father’s abilities. Emma’s father’s sudden turn should have sounded all kinds of alarms, beyond just the lasting anger it should have generated.

  13. Minor typo: “giving the ongoing fight had an almost hellish appearance to it.” Remove the ‘had’ and you’re good.

  14. It drives me nuts that this school thing is even a question at this point!
    What kind of dad does not, after having seen the scene in the principal’s office, say “fuck it, you’re getting a GRE, enough of this BS”???
    Why the hell does she think she still needs to go? It’s completely messed up!

  15. Jeez, with that teleportation power and Ballistic’s power, these guys have more planet-moving potential combined than anybody else. Get Ballistic to the equator, continuously use his power to accelerate the Earth and raise its apoapsis for an intercept with Jupiter. Or the other way, lower its periapsis into the Sun. He could kill the whole human race. Trickster, meanwhile, might be able to do things like switch the Sun with a star of roughly equivalent mass. (Unless it’s absolute difference that matters, in which case never mind.) Jesus.

    • I think you’re forgetting about range. Two stars are going to be way out of Trickster’s range to do anything with them.

      As for Ballistic, it’s more likely he would only end up effecting chunks of rock and earth than all of…Earth.

      Don’t feel too bad though. If you get to the end of Worm you might feel your ideas are still possible, and under certain circumstances I’d agree.

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