Extermination 8.8

Last Chapter                                                                                                Next Chapter

How was a city like Brockton Bay supposed to pay its respects to all the heroes, villains and miscellaneous others that died to protect it?  Until about five years ago, the answer had been a funeral.

It really hadn’t worked out.

On the surface, it was a great idea, had made for an amazing scene.  Grand speeches about great moments of true selflessness from even despicable villains, good guys doing the most heroic of sacrifices.

Except problems started to stack up.  Could the people in charge of the event really let someone stand up and give a eulogy for someone like Kaiser?  If they did, you earned the wrath of the dozens or hundreds of people who’d had their lives changed for the worse by Empire Eighty-Eight.

The uneasy solution had been to avoid saying anything about the local villains, beyond the fact that they had participated, but problems had stemmed from that, too.  Subordinates or teammates of the fallen villains had made a scene over these omissions, sometimes during the funerals, and villain participation in Endbringer situations started to decline.

More issues came up, rooted in the reality that people who went out in costume were more theatrical or dramatic as a rule.  Too many vying to take the spotlight, hero and villain alike, even some of the fallen, with measures or requests placed in advance.  It didn’t happen every time, but enough events became sideshows and media circuses that the whole purpose of the events was defeated.  The media was banned from recording the event, but the capes who’d sought to stand out only tried harder.  Fights had erupted.

So the funeral services became less frequent.  Then they stopped altogether.

A memorial was simpler.  All who had joined the fight could be treated equally.  There could be no snubs, really, nor could there be insults, dramatic oaths, taunts or speaking ill of dead rivals and nemeses before cameras or audiences of capes.  It was simply a dedication to the dead, a list of names, sometimes with a statue, if the groups involved could decide on something that didn’t too closely resemble a particular hero or villain.  Ever a difficult, delicate balancing act.

Brockton Bay’s memorial had no statue.  It seemed to be black marble with stainless steel in the core of the monument, so that the etched letters stood out in a metal gleam, even reflecting the sun’s light if the time and viewer’s position was right.  The overall shape formed an obelisk, with the corners and base unpolished and rough, only the four sides smoothed and polished.  It was out of the way, placed atop Captain’s Hill, at the base of the mountains to the west of the city.  I wasn’t sure if it was put there to stay or if they intended to move it after reconstruction and city revival efforts.

Even with the memorial being out of the way, set down in place five days after the attack, it had taken a full week before the worst of the crowds were gone.  Four times, I’d felt compelled to come see it and pay my respects, only to see the press of people and turn back.

Now I was here, along with a little less than a hundred people, only a small fraction of whom were actually viewing the obelisk.  Others sat on the hill or picnicked.  As strange and vaguely inappropriate as it seemed, I couldn’t really blame them.  The memorial had been put here, specifically, because the rest of the city had been devastated.

In any given area of Brockton Bay, there was flooding, shattered streets, collapsed buildings, septic conditions or ongoing reconstruction.  Often three or four of those things at once.  More than half of the city was without power, two thirds had no running water, and even with the rest of the country and the world pitching in, uneven food distribution, health concerns, lack of facilities and rampant looting and crime made for dangerous living.  Buses were leaving every hour with evacuees, but the city was still thick with crowds of people just struggling to get by.  Too many were people who had no relatives or friends to go to, who wouldn’t leave their remaining possessions behind to be taken by unscrupulous thieves.  Captain’s Hill, for now, was a place that was safe, dry and clean.

I walked around the monument, noting the names.

Escutcheon / Tyrone Venson
Erudite / Mavis Shoff
Fenja / Jessica Biermann
Fierceling /
Frenetic /
Furrow /
Gallant / Dean Stansfield
Geomancer / Tim Mars
Good Neighbor / Roberto Peets
Hallow /
Herald / Gordon Eckhart
Humble /

Gallant was dead. Unsettling to think that I’d met him and fought him.   Or, rather, I’d fought against his team in the same skirmish, even if we hadn’t actually paid attention to one another in the fight.  Now he was gone.

I could guess that the ones without names either hadn’t given permission for their names to be released, hadn’t written any will or had reason to keep their names private, protecting teammates.  I circled the monument, walking around to the right.

Impel / Corey Steffons
Iron Falcon / Brent Woodrow
Jotun /
Kaiser / Max Anders
Manpower / Neil Pelham
Mister Eminent /
Oaf / Wesley Scheaffer
Pelter / Stefanie Lamana
Penitent /
Quark / Caroline Ranson
Resolute / Georgia Woo
Saurian / Darlene Beckman

I noted Iron Falcon on the list.  A few nights ago, trying and failing to fall asleep, managing a half-sleep where my thoughts drifted, I’d made the connection between the boy I’d helped and the ‘Iron Falcon down’ report I’d heard from the armband.  The name had maybe stuck with me because I could remember reading about how it was becoming a trend for heroes to go the easy route and stick -hawk or some other bird of prey on the end of their names.  Laserhawk, Flame Falcon, Steel Eagle, and so on.  It had become unfashionable, but apparently Iron Falcon had stuck with it.

If his name was here, it meant he hadn’t made it.  Hadn’t it been a problem with his leg?  How did that kill someone?  It was hard to figure out how I felt about it.  Disappointed?  Sad for him?

It was hard to figure out how I felt, period.  Not just about the dead.

I shivered, and rubbed my arms to warm up.  It was sunny out, but cool air rolled down from the nearby mountains, and the amount of moisture in the air made for a damp cold.

Should have brought something warmer to wear.  I stepped back and out of the way so a pair of parents with a toddler could pass by me.

Rubbing my sleeves against my arms, I traveled around to the right, to the far side of the memorial, which faced the city.

Sham /
Shielder / Eric Pelham
Smackdown / Jennie Ryan
Snowflake / Charlotte Tom
Strider / Craig McNish
Uglymug /
Velocity / Robin Swoyer
Vitiator /
Zigzag / Bennie Debold and Geoff Schearn

It was shorter than the other lists, the last list of names, so there was space at the bottom.  Someone had used the empty space to etch words into the marble.  It was crude work, with scuff marks around each notch where the tool had been off target.  The letters were all in capital letters, all straight lines – the ‘o’s were squares, the ‘B’s two triangles joined at one corner.

MILK                   STUMPY

How long had it taken her?  She would have had to come late at night, well after the crowd had left, sat there with a chisel, hammer and flashlight, painstakingly chipped the letters into the marble.  If she even had a chisel.  She might have done it with a screwdriver or something else she had at hand.

I bent down and ran my fingers over the letters.

“Sickening.” I glanced over my shoulder to see the father holding the toddler.  He shook his head, added, “Vandalizing this?  So soon?”

“They’re names, and this took time,” I said in answer, turning back to the memorial.  “They mean something to someone.”

“I think you’re right,” a girl said.

The father didn’t respond, just continuing to walk around the memorial.  I waited until the father was gone before I stood, checked to see that most of the people who’d been visiting were off getting their lunches, the rest out of earshot.  I turned to face the girl, sticking my hands in my pockets.

Lisa’d had the sense to dress warmer than me.  Her hair was up in two tight buns, just behind her ears, and she wore sunglasses, an oversized sweater and a skirt with tights underneath.  She had a backpack slung over one shoulder.  She smiled lightly, almost sadly.

“You getting by?” She asked me.

I shrugged, “I’ve got a cot in one of the shelters for people who lost their homes, and I have some of the cash I brought with me, so I have the basics of what I need.  Not sure if Coil cancelled my bank account or what, but I might have that too.  I’m surviving.”

“I figured you would be.  What I want to know is if you’re okay.”

I shrugged.  How did I respond to that?  Confess that I wasn’t sleeping?  That I had nowhere to go?  That I was angry enough in general that I’d been asked to leave one shelter, for yelling at someone who hadn’t entirely deserved it?

Could I even bring any of that up?

Instead, I guessed, “So.  You knew?”

“Yeah,” Lisa replied, bobbing her head in a nod.  “I’m so sorry.”

“You’re apologizing?” I asked, caught by surprise, “I’m the one who planned on screwing you guys over.”

“But you didn’t.  You changed your mind.  Me?  I had an idea of what you were up to, I lied to you, misled you.  Manipulated you.  Kept it all a big secret.  And I’m sorry for that.  Really.”

“How long did you know?  When I was lying on my cot in the shelter, wondering whether you did know, thinking back to your expression and the things you’ve said in the past, I thought maybe it was when I decided to leave the group over…”  I paused, looked at the people nearby, who might or might not be in earshot.  “…you know.  But no.  You’ve known from the start.”

“Since before we met.”

That was unexpected.  “What?  How?”

She turned her head, surveying the scene, the handful of people still around the monument, “Over there?”

I nodded.

We walked over toward the railing above the sheer drop to the base of the hill.  The position gave us a view of the entire city.  There was the ocean, the coastline with crews and machinery clearing away the wreckage of buildings and the PHQ.  Blinking lights marked the barriers and trucks around the perimeter of the massive hole Leviathan had made in the upper end of Downtown.  The hole was still largely filled with water.  People were still trying to verify if it would ever empty on its own, or if it would be a permanent part of downtown.

I couldn’t make out the details of the Docks, but I saw flattened and ruined buildings.  I’d scouted it early one morning, pulling on my costume and traveling the streets at an hour that even the roving mobs were asleep.   From a distance, with the help of my bugs, I’d verified it.  The loft was gone.

My dad’s house was intact, at least, if not in the best shape.  Still, even with two nights in a row with barely three hours of sleep between them, I’d held off on returning.  Too much I couldn’t explain.

Lisa leaned on the railing, “I didn’t think we’d win.”

I joined her, leaning beside her.  Maybe she could read something in the fact that I put myself far enough away that she couldn’t reach out and touch me, couldn’t push me over if she had a mind to.  Paranoid.  Looking over the city, thinking of the devastation, the hundreds of thousands of hungry, dirty, homeless people still in the city, I thought aloud, “Did we?”

“We’re alive.  That’s a win in my book.”

I didn’t respond, and a silence stretched between us.

“Okay,” Lisa told me, “No more secrets.”

“Sounds good,” I admitted.

“And I’m trusting you to use that brain of yours to know what parts of what I’m about to say should stay between us.”


“Imagine this.  You walk down a street in an unfamiliar city, you’ve got an appointment to go to, but barely any directions.  You follow?”

I nodded.

“You come to a branching path.  Do you go left, do you go right?  Whatever decision you make, you’ve got to live with it, walk down that path, and if it’s wrong, you have to figure out how to get over to the other path.  And that keeps happening, until you get where you need to be.  Maybe you got lucky, picked the right paths, got there on time.  Maybe you were unlucky, and you were late.”

I nodded, not sure where this was going.

“That’s everyone’s situation, day-to-day, making choices.  Through resourcefulness, like using a cell phone to call for directions in our hypothetical situation, or talent, like me using my power, we can make it more likely we find the right paths, but we inevitably come to a choice between A or B at some time, right?”


“What if you could choose both?  Choose both A and B, so your A self knows what your B self knows and vice versa.  When you know path B is the right choice, you can make it so.  The world where you chose to go down path A is gone, vanished, so when you comes to the next choice, you can do it again.”

“Sounds pretty useful.”

“Trick being that you can only have two realities running in parallel at a time, and the only differences between those realities hinge on the choices and calls you make.  So you delegate.  You find people who will follow orders.  Sometimes you send them out to do something in only one world, so that if things don’t go the way you want, you can default to the reality where you didn’t send them.  Or, in simpler terms, in one world, you flip a coin.  In the other, you hold on a second, delay, say something.”

“Until every coin you’re flipping gives you a heads.  You’re talking about Coil,” I realized.

Tattletale nodded.

“He’s been doing that from the start?”

“Some.  The bank robbery, he had our back.  But timing was sensitive, and I guess he wanted to maximize the chances that he’d get Dinah, so he didn’t have a concurrent reality where he kept us out of action.  And, according to him, we succeeded in both cases, though Bitch got hurt in a fight with Glory Girl in the other one.  Lucky for us, I suppose, that the world where she didn’t get hurt was the same one where Coil got his captive.”

I winced.  Even an offhand mention of the role I’d played in what happened to Dinah elicited a painful stab of guilt.

“We didn’t have him for the fight with Bakuda, but we did have him for the fundraiser.  He had the other version of us in reserve.”

“And the fight with Empire Eighty-Eight?”

Lisa frowned, “Apparently that was one case where he saved our hides.  Remember that call I got?  Telling me to be careful?  Same thing he did with the bank robbery.  Tells one version of me to push us to be careful, tells the other to go in for direct confrontation.  Knowing how he works, I try to nudge us in one direction or the other.  The group of us that went in for the headlong attack?  We got taken down.”

“That happened?” my eyes widened.  That would have been the fight with Night and Fog, and it hadn’t been pretty as it was.  “Did we die?”

Lisa shrugged, “Not sure.  He didn’t elaborate, often doesn’t, unless it’s key info.  But Coil decided not to go with that option, so it was clearly worse than what did happen.  Or worse in his eyes.”

“Damn,” I muttered.  What had happened?  Not knowing was almost worse than hearing we’d all been slaughtered.

“Anyways, point of this explanation is this:  Knowing we had an imminent fight with Lung coming, knowing Lung planned to pyrokinesis our general area until he rooted us out, got civilians to finger us or brought in enough capes to make life difficult for us, I called Coil.  He said he’d help, told us to wait five minutes, then take the more direct route, straight into the heart of ABB territory.

“We go, we take out a contingent of ABB gangbangers and scare off Oni Lee.  Then I get a call back from Coil.  The other reality?  We left earlier, went a different route.  Got in a fight with Lung before you showed.  You decided to attack both our groups while we were occupied fighting each other, worn out, only Lung was stronger at that time, too strong for you to do too much.  By the time you realized you’d have to work with us to stop him, which wasn’t long, it was too late.  Lung was too tough.”

I tried to picture that scenario.

“I got away, managed to call Coil, let him know what had happened.  Coil, in turn, informed me in this reality, the one you remember.  Told me to watch out for a junior hero in the area.”

I nodded.

“So I told the group to hold up, fibbed a bit about needing to use my power, get a sense of things, like Lung’s location.  I was hoping that you were a new member of the Wards, that you’d call in help and deal with Lung without our involvement, that you’d leave, or even start the fight on your own.  You attacked him on your own.”

She shrugged, smiled a little, gave me an apologetic look with a tilt of her head, “And my plan worked out.  Of course.”

“Of course,” I replied, dryly.

“It might have ended there, but then Grue mistook you for a villain, and you didn’t correct him.  It was interesting enough that I played along.  The idea of recruiting you came when he was finishing his introductions.”

“So everything I’ve been through, all of this, it’s-”

“My fault, pretty much.  That’s why I’m saying I’m sorry.  I mean it, too.”

I sighed.

“It’s okay,” I told her.  “I think… I think if it happened again, I’d still want to be part of the group, want to have met you guys.  I’d want some stuff to go down differently.  Dinah, my dad, having things come out like they did after the battle with Leviathan.”

“We can’t take back what happened,” Tattletale said.  “But we can try to fix it.  Some of it.  You could go back home.  Face the music.  Tell your dad some or all of what happened.  You could go somewhere else, or I could convince the others to leave you and your dad alone, if you wanted to do that.”

“I’m not ready to go home just yet.”

“No?  I mean, I knew you hadn’t gone home yet, but I thought maybe that was our fault, you protecting your dad, staying away from places we’d know you frequent.”

“I’m still hurt, still mad at him.  Mad at myself, too.  I guess, more than anyone, I expected my dad to understand, to give me the benefit of a doubt.  And going home would be going back to the way things were, which is the last thing I want.”

“So you don’t want to go home, you obviously don’t want to go to the Birdcage, and you turned down an offer to join the Wards.”

I hesitated, “Yeah.”

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“Become a hero?  Strike out on your own?”

I shook my head, stressed the words, “I don’t know.”

“No hard feelings if you want to go that way.  Again, I can talk to the others, ensure they don’t go straight for revenge or any of that.  We don’t hate you, now, hurt as some of the others might be.  Except maybe Bitch.  She probably hates you.”

Really, I don’t know,” I told her, exasperated, “I don’t like or even respect any of the heroes I’ve met, I don’t even see the point of it.  As villains, we faced down other villains.  It wasn’t so different from what I’d be doing as a hero… but what did we really accomplish?  What does anyone accomplish, if all we end up with is this?” I gestured out at the cityscape stretching out below us.

“Maybe you don’t know what you want to do because what you really want to do is come back.”

I didn’t reply for a minute.  The quiet was disturbed by the noise of not-too-distant helicopters moving over the city, some capes flying alongside them as guards.  It would be another drop of much-needed supplies.

I sighed, “They wouldn’t have me, and those guys won’t budge on the thing with Coil and Dinah.  Not really.”

“Probably not.  I mean, even if they took you back, you’d have to eat crow, accept a few concessions, like Coil’s ‘pet’.  There’d be no more playing around.  You’d have to go all-in, from here on out, if you expected to convince them you were legit.”

I shook my head.

“You want to be forgiven for what you did?  It’s not going to be easy.  There’s going to be a sacrifice on some level.  And that starts with giving up that stubbornness, being willing to talk to them.  To talk to me.  You might even change your mind, find yourself able to look past thing with the girl, for the sake of having friends, doing the things you want or need to do in other areas.”

I stood away from the railing, stuck my hands in my pockets to keep them warm.  “Never.”

“Never’s pretty final.  If you’re so certain, what do you have to lose by hearing everyone out?  Hearing me out?  I’ve got coffee and lunch in my bag, we can sit down, talk it all out.  If you’re willing, we can then go meet the others.  I’ll talk to them with you, back you up, keep Bitch from murdering you.”

I shook my head, turned and rested my back against the railing, looking at the memorial, rather than the city.

So many dead.  So pointless.  What was wrong with this world, that it was this fucked up?  That people like Sophia and Armsmaster were heroes?  That there couldn’t even be a proper funeral for the people who had given their lives, because of a small handful of grandstanding idiots?

The wind blew hard from the north, cold, blowing my hair into disarray.  I pushed my hair out of my face, tucked it behind my ear.  When I gave Lisa a sidelong glance, she was putting her hood up.

She spoke without looking at me, “I’d go on, ask about whether you prioritize friends or morals, talk about how you’ve grown as a person in so many ways since joining us, except my power informs me that you just settled on a decision.”

She was right.  As I stared at the monument, a goal was crystallizing in my mind, a focus.  I knew, now, what I wanted to do.

I had to change things.  I had to be better than them.  Than Armsmaster, Sophia, Coil, and all the others.

“Yeah,” I replied.  She turned to glance my way.

“And does this plan feature the Undersiders?”

I gave her my answer.

Last Chapter                                                                                                Next Chapter

85 thoughts on “Extermination 8.8

  1. Poignant. So it sounds as though she wants to be a real hero – and get the Undersiders to do… what?

    It will all be worthwhile if Armsmaster gets Birdcaged…

    • Armsmaster can’t be birdcaged. He would have to get a trial, and in that trial what he did would come out. Once his actions come out the truce is going to take a massive hit, which means less villains helping, which means millions die when an endbringer wins.

      He will probably end up with some form of house arrest, producing equipment for other heroes for the rest of his life.

      • Alternatively, he can stand trial and be sent to the Birdcage as proof that the heroes take the truce seriously. What’s the point of the truce if you just let people get away with breaking it?

        • Putting Armsmaster on trial would show villains that good guys who break the truce (and get caught) are sent to the Birdcage. It would also show them that the good guys do break the truce. So they would only want to put Armsmaster on trial if they thought the former would help the truce more than the latter would hurt it.

          I don’t recall if we know whether the truce has been broken by good guys before, but if this is the first time then I think the truce would be damaged by it way more than it would help.

          The villains who know about the betrayal get some leverage they can use against the Protectorate, but I don’t think it gives them all that much. If it ever does get out, the Protectorate can deny knowing about it and send Armsmaster to the Birdcage with roughly the same consequences as if they’d tried him immediately. I also don’t think any of the villains who know about it would want to hurt the truce (I don’t remember exactly who they are, though. I read this chapter a while ago, but I’m pretty sure it’s just the Undersiders.)

    • 😉

      Like I said in the comments of 7.9, “The [pre-rewrite version of the chapter] is canon in many respects.” and “I changed events for two reasons. […] The second will become apparent later – I’m simply having some fun with the mistake.”

      • …I’d already decided reading the comments was worth it the second time around. This by itself, though, would have made it worth wading through them all. I mean, holy mother of muffins that’s awesome. I KNEW Coil’s power, I read that comment, and I still didn’t see it. Extremely well played.

    • Wow. I had entirely forgotten about that rewrite. Monkeys. Monkeys, I say. I don’t know that I can articulate how awesome that is. I love meta-fictional things. Blargh.

  2. Huh. So Coil’s power is a two-card simultaneous mulligan. I have to admit, I would NOT have guessed that as the mechanism.

    Also, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the next line after ‘I gave her my answer.’ is probably not going to be ‘She glared at me then walked off in a huff.’ Then again, maybe wildbow is lulling us into a false sense of security.😀

  3. Multiverse mess? That’s interesting, and somewhat insanely powerful…

    Though I’ve argued for her being a villain, I kinda hope she goes on to be more heroic than the heroes. Though, given her complaints about the world in general, I half wonder if the title Worm is referring to the worm that eats at the roots of Yggdrasil, the world tree.

    • You forced me to do a research here, since I remember the squirrel and, perhaps, the dragon. Not the eagle, the deer (now I do remember) and I still do not understand fully your reference to worms.
      Ok, there is a passage in the Eda relating to worms, but they seem to be actually dragons.
      If you think in Yggdrasil as a reference to the tree of life of the gnostics I would assume that Taylor will try to be the all consuming fire (Eros in gnostic mysticism), the fire of change that “opposes” the tree of life (life in this case, includes tradition, estabilished beliefs, …).
      Well, this looks like the point in the plot where the “heroine” decides if she will be forever victim of the outside world or become master of her own fate.
      Just for fun, lets try to guestimate her choices:
      First, what we know:
      – She is disappointed with the “heroes”, will never join a group that includes shadow stalker.
      – She will never work with Coil if he keeps the child captive.
      – I doubt that she will give information on Coil and/or the undersiders to anyone, she already could have done this and didn`t.
      – She has a justified distrust of the government.
      – She will probably not go home.
      So, she will not join the heroes, the villains and will not register her powers.
      – She can start a career as a lone hero (unlikely). If she does, she will start by saving a certain girl.
      – She can start by helping rebuild the city and see what happens.
      These are the only outcomes that I can think about at the moment. Being a lone hero is not becoming “fire that consumes all”, but, depending on how she goes at rebuilding, things can get quite interesting.

      • Yggdrasil is the tree found in Norse mythology. All the nine worlds supposedly rest in its branches.

        Just for what that’s worth.

      • Seems I was slightly off. Not worm, but wyrm. That’s disappointing, too, because somehow the image of a giant worm eating the world tree’s roots comes across as scarier to me than a wyrm, or dragon, named Nidhogg.

        I suppose I was correct phonetically, for what little that is worth. Gotta take those victories where I find them.

        I swear, sometimes it feels like I’m going crazy when I make reference to something I know I’ve read about, then either can’t ever find the reference again where it should be, or can’t even remember where the reference was.

        Who knows, maybe they can punish Armsmaster the same way that Odin gained some wisdom. Stick him to a tree by a spear for 9 days until he learns something. Difference is, Odin did it voluntarily. And possibly on Yggdrasil.

      • @Psycho Gecko That is actually where Yggdrasil got it’s name. Ygg is another name for Odin. Yggdrasil translates as Ygg’s horse. It was not only common but considered high wit and craft to make references to other stories in the Norse traditions when telling the stories. One of the biggest problems with understanding the Eddas and sagas is not knowing other stories and where the references come from and what they mean. Even worse is the references to stories that have been lost to us.

        Now that we are way off topic…

    • Completely off topic: Psychoo Geko, if I am not wrong, Odim hanged himself from a tree to get wisdom (this and that bargain of an eye for knowledge).
      I also read so much mythology (for fun) that sometimes things get mixed in my head, specially when you start comparing and seeing similarities.
      One thing to make you all crazy (really, really off topic): There is a Tupi tribe`s legend of a spirit that gives you nightmares while he steps on your throat so that you can`t scream. When I told this one in Italy, they told me that there was a similar legend from local folklore.
      Of course, when sleeping there is a mechanism in the brain that blocks our movements (this is why we are usually not sleep walkers) and, sometimes, it continues to block during nightmares. But it is curious how different cultures found the same mythological way to explain this.

      • That same condition, of having our body get the stages of sleep all mixed up (with paralysis and vivid waking dreams or hallucinations) also led to the myth of the Incubus, from latin Incubo (nightmare, one who lies down on (the sleeper). This was sometimes linked with/the same thing as the succubus, (from succuba, or ‘strumpet’), sometimes the opposite in that it’s the one who lies under, (nudge nudge, wink, wink), to blame for nocturnal emissions.

        Other cases include the Nocnitsa, Krisky, Plaksy and Gorska Makua (the Night Hag). It’s very interesting because it’s something that’s just common enough across all of humanity that any culture will have some myth or tales of it, given that the most common hallucination is to have someone sitting or standing on your chest or throat.

      • I bet Odin got a lot of ladies. It sounds like he was well hung.

        The Tupi thing appears to be a reference to sleep paralysis, which I believe also has some hallucinations or waking dreams associated with it. I might have even had a similar thing happen once, though it was because I went from a haunted castle back to my dorm room and a ghost was choking me. See, that’s why it’s important to make sure your dreams include at least one out of the four ghostbusters.

        There’s another aspect of the succubi and incubi, Wildbow, that also explains some of why the excuse was used. See, it was sometimes thought that a succubus would either give the man’s emission to an incubus, or a succubus would change its own gender. Then, it would go and have sex with a woman. That was of course the most logical reason why two people who aren’t a couple, and might even be married to others, could somehow have a kid together. Or it might explain why a woman who felt some male presence doing bad things to her during the night could have a kid that resembled someone else in the village.

        The darndest thing, isn’t it?

        Ah, but the point of much mythology is to explain that which we don’t know. Now that we know better, we don’t have to worry about earthquakes coming every time the poison drips into Loki’s eyes, or Mt. Aetna erupting because Typhous was trapped under there, nor do we have to worry that we’ll be molested in the night by a horny demoness. Obviously that last one is something nobody wants these days.

        Instead, we’ve replaced some of those myths with others caused by incomplete understandings of how things work. Like alien abductions, the Statue of Liberty being a Masonic plot to sculpt an ancient Egyptian or Sumerian goddess, the idea that this or that is some sort of conspiracy (or maybe someone WANTS us to think that people are making up stupid conspiracies…), or the idea that the world will end because the Mayans need to buy a new calender.

        The media, in the form of literature, movies, and television, and formerly radio until its stars were brutally murdered by video, provides a lot of the entertainment value that tellings of the old stories used to provide. We even draw on some of the old myths in modern day stories. Hercules, Thor, God of War, Troy…I could be here all night, and I’m here too much as it is.

        For old stories meant to scare, you have things nowadays like horror movies and creepypasta. People have to really want to be scared to go and create something so simple but creepy as the Slender Man.

        And you also had stories of great men, heroes. Gilgamesh, Daedalus, Perseus, Achilles, Odysseus, Hercules, Beowulf, and also a lot. People who were part god, creatred cool gadgets, could fly, were invulnerable, could figure a way out of any situation, were extremely strong, and killed great monsters.

        We still have those too.

        To finish out this somewhat intellectual seeming wall of text that I hope will be my only one this page around, I leave you with a haiku:

        Knock Knock, who is there?
        Hi, he says. I ask “Hi who?”
        It is me, Haiku.

        Can’t you just taste the snobbery?

  4. This talk about having to be better than all the others is raising some warning flags with me… It’s good to strive for the better, but there’s a big risk of slipping into hypocrisy, preachiness and insistence that your morals are better than anybody else’s.

  5. Lisa/Tattletale is one of Taylors’ few contacts remaining, and not someone to burn bridges with if you have a choice. Interesting to see the answer, but if it’s a one-liner something like ‘I’ll be back’ wouldn’t totally surprise me.

        • Given Armsmaster’s penchant for information analysis, including the lie detector in his helmet, he almost certainly recorded their conversations. No point in lying if AM can then just have his helmet repeat Taylor’s plans to insinuate herself, complete with her voice, speech patterns, passion, etc. Maybe even with video!

        • Actually I don’t think Lisa ever once straight up lied to the Undersiders. She omitted the truth quite a bit but never lied to them. She avoided the topic because she is a master manipulator. It’s actually pretty impressive going back over the first few chapters.

    • A mosquitopocalipse reminds me of a little point. We see Taylor fighting people invulnerable, with hard skin, wearing full costumes, … and we forget that she can easily murder a small town while they are sleeping.

      • That’s what happens when you try to play the game by the rules established by others- you end up on a playing field that runs to their strengths, not yours.

        • Every time someone like Glory Hole or Panacea or Armsmaster started threatening Taylor, I was thinking this. These people still need to sleep and breathe, and in the McBitch sisters case, their home address is, if not public knowledge, at best an ill-kept secret. Push Taylor too hard and you risk (either by pushing her until she snaps or until she gets creative and snaps) waking up with both lungs packed full of bugs, lawyer mom or no lawyer mom. And they need to eat, too. What exactly stops Taylor from putting some kind of biological warfare agent in their food to eat them from the inside out? Drophilia naturalcausia, anyone?

  6. Bitches little tribute to her fallen dogs always gets to me more than the dead heroes and villains(is that bad?). Imagine if somehow if Bitch had gotten the dogs as big as Leviathan I think they would’ve gotten official names on the memorial.

    • I would guess that most people feel the same way. None of the capes who died had gotten enough screen time for us to build much of a connection to them and I wouldn’t really call any of them sympathetic.

      On the other hand, Bitch and her dogs are obviously sympathetic characters that we have connected with through Taylor. Brutus even had a POV chapter. Bitch’s addition to the memorial is also far more personal than the names of the capes.

    • Yeah. She doesn’t appear directly, but I think Bitch should be tagged for this chapter.

      As for other emotional impact… it hurt me to hear that Velocity died. He didn’t get a lot of page time, but there was a little part near the end about him working with Trickster to save people from Leviathan’s new reservoir by repeatedly pulling himself to safety and then letting Trickster swap him back in to get someone else out. That was some serious hero work. No punches, no enemies, no banter, just trading his own safety for someone else’s.

  7. Is it just me or does anybody else recall a commet a while back about feeling dirty if we come across the super named Humble. Then, bam, here ol’ Humble is. Kind of funny in this very tense scene.

  8. Clarification about Coil’s power: He’s only able to keep two realities going at once, and they’re stuck on the same timeline? For example, when he calls Tt back and informs her of what happened when they ran into Lung right away, it’s at the same time sync that he’s just finished that call in altworld?

    Laid out:
    Timestamp 01:33
    World: Tt et al told to wait five minutes before taking off
    Altworld: Tt et al told to go ahead

    Timestamp 01:37
    World: Tt et al encounter Oni Lee; beat him away
    Altworld: Tt et al encounter Lung and Skitter; Tt escapes with phone

    Timestamp 01:38
    World: Tt gets call from Coil seconds after he collapses Altworld

    Timestamp 01:39
    World: Tt et al head elsewhere in ABB territory to encounter Lung and Skitter; Coil opens new Altworld to test something else with his power

    If so, then Coil is restricted far more than I thought. If he only has two worlds available at a time, he’s exposed to a lot more danger than I’d suspected, he’d be limited in what he could check, and in how fast he could check it. More than just having to lose time to check a possibility rather than another possibility (e.g. 01:33 to 01:38 being used to check between the Undersiders going direct vs roundabout instead of the Undersiders creating traps vs going into whatever fight head-on), he’d also have to keep staggering time scales in order to test things (such as creating the five minute waiting period for the Undersiders).

    I had been under the impression that it was more like Dinah’s power – where he could simply consider two options and vaguely gaze into the future of what his life would be like following one or the other, and then make the choice he most liked (at a cost of only using his power only every-so-often). The primary differences from his actual power being that I thought his sense of non-major events would be limited, and that he would be able to create mental Altworlds that overlap with a timeline he’d already seen. (e.g. he could – at 01:33 – consider route A vs Route B for the Undersiders, send them on Route B when he sees that Route A leads to failure and an encounter with Skitter, and then – at 01:34 – consider a direct attack on Lung right away vs waiting for Skitter to die)

    I guess it’s lucky for everyone else that Coil’s power isn’t as strong/broad as I’d imagined it. And it sure changes the way I think about his ambitiousness. He has to really stay on top of things and be smart if he’s going to try to rule Brockton Bay. I’d kind of assumed that his power was a general ticket to success before – regarding what he had expectation to foresee. Like, he was only limited by his ability to imagine likely outcomes to events (such that considering a very unlikely possibility would result in his power failing to work, hence why I thought he wanted Dinah – besides that she lets him skip worrying about big things and instead focus uses of his power on other things, or know what big things to focus on in case he can change the outcomes with his power).

    • Clarification about Coil’s power: He’s only able to keep two realities going at once, and they’re stuck on the same timeline?

      Exactly correct. And yes, it’s quite limited — and he is extremely canny about using it.

  9. 1/4 of heroes make it on GOOD DAYS, only like 30 people died that’s from a 75% death rate to 25%, that is absurd, what made this fight so much better than the others?

    • “But you should know your chances going in. Given the statistics from our previous encounters with this beast, a ‘good day’ still means that one in four of the people in this room will probably be dead before this day is done.”

      You got your numbers switched. This is perfectly in line with a good day – 25% of people died.

  10. > You might even change your mind, find yourself able to look past thing with the girl, for the sake of having friends, doing the things you want or need to do in other areas.”

    “Look past thing with the girl” needs some connecting glue. “Look past the thing with the girl”, maybe?

  11. Three spaces between sentences:
    “Unsettling to think that I’d met him and fought him. Or, rather, I’d fought against his team in the same skirmish, even if we hadn’t actually paid attention to one another in the fight.”

  12. Located what seems to be a typo: “The world where you chose to go down path A is gone, vanished, so when you comes to the next choice, you can do it again.”” should be “The world where you chose to go down path A is gone, vanished, so when you COME to the next choice, you can do it again.””

  13. I’m curious about how Coil managed his coin trick with the Undersiders in chapter 6.8.

    What I thought at first was that he re-split each time he got tails:
    1. Split timeline into world 1 and world 2.
    2. In world 1, bring up the subject of your power and break open the coins, then flip them until one comes up tails or until you have flipped all 6.
    In world 2, continue talking about other business.
    3. If one of the coins came up tails in world 1, keep world 2 and repeat the process.
    If all came up heads, keep world 1.

    After rereading the chapter, I realized that he performed the trick right after they got into the car, so it would have to have been one of his first few tries, but the chances of him getting 6 heads on or before even the 4th attempt is only 6%.

    So my second thought was that he split after getting heads on each flip individually:
    1. Split timeline into world 1 and world 2.
    2. Flip first coin in world 1, do nothing in world 2.
    3. If the coin is heads in world 1, keep that world and repeat this process with the second coin.
    If the coin is tails in world 1, keep world 2 and repeat this process with the first coin.

    The problem with this approach is that 50% of the time it would take 2 or more flips to get heads and 25% of the time it would take 3 or more. The text makes it sound like Coil delayed at least Skitter’s flip and possibly Tattletale’s, Regent’s, and Bitch’s, so I think this is probably what Coil did.

    Another possibility I considered was that Coil used unfair coins for the first five flips and only had to use his power for Skitter’s coin.

    • Yeah, I found this puzzling as well. All of the possible explanations seem like they have problems to me.

      I was favoring the false coin trick myself (or a combination of your first theory and a false coin trick), but the problem is that if Skitter is suspicious enough to perform her own coin flip, why would she not also verify that Coil tossed her a fair coin? (This annoyed me on my first reading of 6-8 too.) And even if she didn’t think to perform that simple test, I think Grue, Bitch or Regent might have idly inspected their own coins while Skitter was displaying some suspicion and doing the business of getting out her own coin, etc. And it’s also possible that someone might have noticed the double-headed coin at some later point.

      And while it’s of course plausible that things played out the way they did if Coil was using false coins, I don’t see how Coil could’ve been highly confident that the trick would not have been exposed, which would’ve somewhat undermined his play in trying to get the group to go along with him.

      Also, the dialogue in this chapter suggests that Taylor believes that Coil chose a reality in which every coin he flipped was a heads, which suggests that’s what happened in 6-8. Taylor could be wrong, of course, but the simplest explanation is that she isn’t.

      Yet another possibility is that other powers were in play besides Coil’s. The powers of Coil, Coil’s Pet and Tattletale seem quite synergistic, which is no doubt why a big reason why Coil went so far to get the other two. However, it doesn’t seem right to me that Coil would’ve used his pet to help rig the coin flip scenario specifically, and not have posed questions which would’ve left him less surprised at how things ultimately ended up playing out that day.

      I think basically though the limo coin flip scene is a minor plot hole given this revelation of how Coil’s powers work. It can be rationalized, but not gracefully.

      The way to fix this would be to slightly alter the way Coil demonstrates his power in 6-8. Instead of trying to make all five/six flips come up with the same result, he should instead DICTATE the outcome of the coin flip before it is revealed.

      So he would flip a coin to Tattletale and say “heads.” Tt would expose the coin, and nod, showing heads. Then he’d flip a coin to Skitter and again announce “heads” while the coin is in the air. Skitter reveals the coin on the back of her wrist and it is indeed heads. Then he flips a coin to Bitch and calls out “tails.” It shows tails. And so on.

      Granted, on a certain level, such a display would be less impressive, to someone who grasps the probabilities involved, and would hint more strongly at his power’s binary limitation. However, I think that psychologically, the demonstration I describe could have just as much impact, especially if combined with a little theatrics.

  14. I realise this comment is really late, but there’s a missing “the/that” in this sentence: “You might even change your mind, find yourself able to look past [the/that] thing with the girl”

  15. Plot wise – do we assume that Taylor did more than just confirm her house was intact before assuming her dad was okay? Okay being a relative term because I’m also assuming he’s the kind of dad who would have been out looking for his only child during a catastrophe like Leviathan. I’m bothered by the glossing over of certain after effects of something as traumatic as this.

    Decisions and goals wise…shouldn’t all para human efforts be made to find a way to end the Endbringers? They’re the ultimate enemy, it seems, now that we’ve met just one of them. Everything else the heroes/villains do seem petty in comparison now.

  16. Man, this was a REALLY good arc.🙂

    I wasn’t entirely sure about the tone of the work, even though there were some parts in it that were really good, and whether or not I want to read the whole thing, but now I think I do. ^_^

    I’m not really sure where I should leave a comment and come back to it to see a reply, if any sees this and is going to reply to it. I wasn’t even sure whether I could comment or not since I don’t actually have an account too… (Also, I tend to make big comments, so yeah. ^^; Please don’t TL;DR me. T_T)

    I have to say, I can relate to Taylor a lot, at least when it comes to her ideals on wanting to be a hero, yet getting into a bunch of bad situations with bullying, having useless teachers around, making friends with people that also have similar situations, how her friends and even herself seem like supposed villains, getting into some trouble with her own friends for whatever reason, and so on…😦

    I’ve always wanted to do good in the world, to make things better somehow, so there’s no more suffering… that things would get better somehow… at least for me, but… Even if some good hearted, neutral, seemingly new or inexperienced people could still learn something that makes themselves better, or I did certain things physically like being a teacher, doctor, maybe even if worked with the law to somehow make a good name against the more supposed corrupt, dirty cops, lawyers, etc., the bad people are just going to stay bad an be irredeemable.😦 Or maybe it just feels that way since I’m not charismatic enough, maybe…

    I’ve often felt like getting back at people and being a villain myself… All sorts of ideas of supposedly anti-villainous well-intentioned extremist methods… I’m kind of too spiritually exhausted lately to really think about going through all the details though…

    Now I kind of just want to be neutral and stay away from nearly every social site and not really talk to anyone…

    Oh, and another thing on top of the friends and school thing is that my family aren’t exactly the nicest people and it’s quite large… although sometimes they may be generous for whatever reason on a material level, but definitely not much on any other level…


    • So like, whether I can access or not or it’s a bit broken for whatever reason or I don’t use it much anymore, I got accounts on all sorts of places.🙂

      My name is Matthew Stephen Hyder on Facebook, Angelthread1w9 on tvtropes.org, BlackStarHeaven & Akuma Uchitoru on Gaia, Shiro Ame on TinierMe, Akuma Uchitoru again on Chatango, Akuma Uchitoru thrice on youtube as well as KyohakuTenshi, Shiro Ame twice on DeviantArt, and Angel Blade on soultome.alorafane.com.🙂

      I first joined Gaia because one of my brothers did before they quit and thought it was dumb for whatever reason, and my Akuma account was actually his when he lent it to me so I have two. :p I also only joined Facebook, Chatango, and TinierMe because someone else told me they use that site more than Gaia or so. ^^;

      Tvtropes was so I could label myself on who I am easier by listing trope names and stuff. Too bad this stupid google ssl redirect thing is completely ruining my experience to even be a troper as far as discusions, forums, and editing goes.😦 I also don’t have a youtube account because of crap with verification (didn’t ever learn how to make videos anyway), TinierMe got shut down, and well…

      I’m not sure why I made a DeviantArt account when I don’t even know how to draw, but I found out you can post literature too and I did that, but I deleted it because I didn’t like the people there… I like a lot of fan art on DeviantArt, that’s one thing, but a few people here and there really do seem… “Deviant”. :p Also, I don’t care much about the show anymore, being MLP, it’s kind of just so-so, but it’s interesting that Lauren Faust has an account on there, supposedly. o.O

      I made a youtube account so I could comment on stuff of course. :p Kyohaku was only made because before I was 18 someone wanted to show me some yaoi hentai crap in the middle of the day, and chatango even follows up on showing people around your area, for whatever reason. -_- Yeah, that account was useless, but there may be some good comments here and there on the both of them, if the user or youtube didn’t delete them. :p

      I’m not even sure why I’m telling my whole life story with this history of accounts thing but I guess I just feel like I have nowhere else to go or even someone to talk to and rely on…

      So um… What else was I going to say?

      Oh yeah, soultome is made by this Pseudolonewolf guy who makes flash games like the RPG Mardek, and he’s really interested in personality stuff and made a site for introverts so I wanted to join. Even if I’m not an introvert, I am an emotionally sensitive idealist, so I figured I’d like it. It turns out I actually hate a lot of people there and they don’t like me much for some reason.😦

      Finally, I made some notes on Facebook about all sorts of things and tried writing my own stories too, being ones called Believe, Warmth in My Heart, and Misguided Perception.🙂 They seem kind of corny now though. ^^; Also, my ideas on things seem to be changing a lot so I’m not even sure about finishing them, even though their still important to me.😦 I keep being worried about how people will react to them, and no one seems to be around to be interested in them.😦 I’m kind of wondering about posting them here…

      So like, whenever I read an interesting story or something about personalities, or maybe something to do with my beliefs, I actually copy some stuff down here and there such as this story.🙂 I’m not trying to take credit for anyone’s work though or anything, I just want to show off why I think it’s good, highlighting the best parts and rereading my favorite things.😦

      And um… I don’t remember what else I was going to say. >_< I guess that's it. :p You guys can follow me if you want.

      • Oh yeah, no wait, there was some more stuff on my idea for the state of the world. ^^;

        So like, one of the main reasons for making my stories was possibly because I wasn’t sure if 2012 was a stupid hoax or something, especially with the way some people are, and all the dangerous weapons of mass destruction people have… It seemed so ridiculous and unbelievable that anyone could predict the end of the world, but I was also wondering if people would make the end on purpose for whatever reason on that date, and if so many people believe in it or won’t stop talking about it, maybe it would happen… I wanted to reach out to people somehow to prevent that… although I do truly want to make things better somehow, for real…

        But sometimes I feel like all the good things that have happened in the world has already been preached, those people died for it, and while their hailed as heroes, most people don’t truly follow the spirit of their message, promoting peace and goodwill… people like Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, John Lennon… I’m not sure what to do about anything anymore… and at first I wanted to succeed and do better in their field but then I want to do something different entirely, and do something no one has done before that should be done…

        Now I just want to live life and do good deeds little by little, and not really be a hero anymore…😦 My world may be narrow compared to the whole Earth at large, but things seem bleak from my perspective, and comments I read here and there, then what’s the point?😦 Although there does seem to be some good things like the messages behind Mother 3 or Persona and stuff. It doesn’t seem to amount too much compared to the bad though… I don’t know… Sometimes life just seems meaningless.😦

        Okay, now I’m done. I hope this will post. I should probably split it into parts or delete some things. Took forever to write down… Totally worth it though.

        • Okay, now for just one tiny thing to add about places I’ve been before on the net…

          I’ve been to a couple of chans. I really hate them.😦 People they are crazy…

  17. My dad’s house was intact, at least, if not in the best shape. Still, even with two nights in a row with barely three hours of sleep between them, I’d held off on returning. Too much I couldn’t explain.

    Oh my god, Taylor. Tell me he knows you’re alive. o_o That’s… I understand hiding from the possibility of confrontation, I’ve done it enough myself, but… there are limits!

  18. Well. That explains a lot.

    This feels like it really could be an ending. And unusually for the format, I have no idea whether it is or not. I hope not, because I’m really intrigued to find out what Taylor does next, not just her general direction (which is pretty clear) but the decisions she makes to carry it out. There are no roads to where she wants to go, and the process of blazing one’s own path is always complicated, especially when morals are involved and obvious comparisons are available (how can she answer “why don’t you join the Wards” without sounding like a self-righteous blowhard?).

    I hope this wasn’t the last arc. But I can understand if it was.

  19. It took a bit, but I was halfway through the next chapter when I realized the names scratched out on the monument were Rachel’s memorial to her dogs. And I suddenly felt really sad.

  20. I don’t think I ever mentioned this, but- even in a city that hosts the biggest concentration of white supremacist superhumans on the east coast, it still strikes me that there are no names on that obelisk that you wouldn’t find in your basic White Baby Name Book. I’d like to see a Tulay or a Konstantinos or a Nilanjan somewhere in there.

  21. For people wondering about the portion of the list that we didn’t see:

    Acoustic /
    Aegis / Carlos
    Alabaster /
    Apotheosis /
    Bastion /
    Brigandine /
    Chubster /
    Cloister /
    Dauntless /

    • Sources:
      8.3: Acoustic deceased, Brigandine deceased, Dauntless deceased, Alabaster deceased.
      8.4: Aegis deceased
      8.5: Cloister deceased, Apotheosis deceased.
      Later we get confirmation that the fat man Taylor tried to give CPR to in 8.3 was the Chubster, and he died.
      It’s probably not a stretch to infer that Bastion also died, considering that Vista helped drop most of a building on him in 8.3, at his insistence. His death isn’t announced, but the incident took place while the armbands were reporting “heavy casualties, please wait” and not announcing any new deaths.
      Aegis is referred to by his civilian name in Interlude 3, first name only.

      Given that all of the complete sections of the list shown in this chapter have twelve names, I think it’s fair to conclude that the first section (the only missing one) also has twelve names. This would imply the existence of three* capes with codenames from this section of the alphabet who died without being announced as such in the text of this arc- they could have been grouped under “heavy casualties” in 8.3, announced during the period when Taylor doesn’t have access to an armband, or announced as “down” and then didn’t recover from their injuries.
      Wildbow, feel free to fill in anytime.

      *Possibly four, if Bastion survived.

  22. Editorial:

    – «“You getting by?” She asked me.» — should be lowercase “she”

    So Coil doesn’t get to look into the future, but instead can fork reality, communicate between the two versions, and then at some point choose one? Is that what other people understand.

    I wonder if the two halves would ever fight about which half to choose, and also how long he can keep the fork going.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s