“They’re not answering,” Tattletale reported, as she lowered the phone from her ear. “They’re already engaged.”
“You fucking idiot. I swear,” Trickster stabbed one finger in her direction, “If Ballistic dies because you fucking gave it away-”
I could see Tattletale’s eyes narrow, “My power told me there was a damn good chance she’d just run for it. Eighty, ninety percent.”
“Well, your power was wrong, wasn’t it?” Trickster retorted.
Tattletale ignored him, looking at me, “Anything? Can you find him?”
I shook my head. “No. I think he might be in a vehicle, so he can keep up with Siberian. I realized it late, I haven’t been looking for one this whole time, but I’m sweeping the area now.”
“Shouldn’t we go?” Sundancer asked. “We can go help Ballistic and your team.”
“Would love to,” Grue said, “But Bitch warned us about using her dogs past the fifteen minute mark. It’s wearing off, they’re getting smaller and weaker, and if it gets to the point that they’re not comfortable carrying the load, they may lash out.”
“How many minutes has it been?” Trickster asked, glancing at Bentley.
“Long enough I wouldn’t risk it,” Grue said.
I looked at Sirius. I hadn’t noticed while we’d been riding him, but he was smaller. His exterior tissues were fitting looser, in the same way skin tended to hang loose on someone who had been morbidly obese and recently lost weight.
And just to his left, I could see Amy backing away, holding her hand.
“Amy,” I spoke.
She startled as if I’d slapped her. Everyone’s eyes turned to her.
“You okay?” I asked.
“No, I’m not okay.” Her head trembled a little as she turned to glance at the others. She returned her attention to me. “She bit off my fingers.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. I raised my hands to show her I wasn’t armed. “We tried to get to you as fast as we could.”
“My fingers,” she moaned, as she looked at her hand. “I ran as fast as I could, but it wasn’t fast enough. She kept catching me.”
“I know. There was nothing you could have done,” I said.
“It’s not right,” Amy shook her head. She was still backing away. “This isn’t the way things should be. Superpowers and Endbringers and things like Siberian… it’s so fucked up. We- there should be a way to fight back, but there isn’t, so much of the time.”
“There is,” I said. “It’s hard to find, but there’s always a way.”
Tattletale turned her head, “Hey, Amy, listen. Can I ask you a quest-”
“Don’t,” Amy snapped, shifting gears from self-pity to fury in a heartbeat. “Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me, you bitch.”
“This is important.”
“What part of what I just said did you not understand!?”
“You’d think we didn’t just save your life,” Trickster said, folding his arms.
“You did it to delay Siberian. Or so she said,” Amy replied, glancing at Tattletale.
“It was one of the reasons,” Tattletale started, “Skitter-”
“Shut up!” The words were a screech as they came out of Amy’s mouth.
Tattletale turned a hundred and eighty degrees, so her back was to Amy, and looked in the direction of Grue and I. “I’m done. No point, fuck it. I’m going to try calling the others again while you handle this.”
There were a few long seconds of tension as we all stood there, Tattletale a short distance away, phone to her ear.
I decided to break the silence. “How are your fingers? You’re using your power to keep the bleeding down?”
Amy glanced at her hand, and a dark look crossed her face. “Yeah.”
“I’ve got bandages, if you want them. Only the most basic first aid supplies, but maybe they’ll help?”
I got the small kit from my utility compartment and approached her. She kept still while I got out the disinfectant, bandages and tape and covered the fingers Siberian had shortened by one segment.
“How can you even be teammates with her?” Amy asked me. “Are you friends?”
“Everything that happened to me, it’s like it all snowballed out from the moment you assholes robbed the bank.”
Me too. I’d met and ultimately joined the Undersiders because of Tattletale, and everything had followed from that.
“She didn’t plan that. It might have started that way, but she wasn’t the cause of everything that followed,” I said. I wondered if I was trying to convince myself.
Amy glared down at the ground. A quick glance showed that Grue, Trickster and Sundancer were all trying to avoid engaging in this conversation.
She spoke at a low enough volume that I doubted the words were reaching the others. “I’ve had nightmares about her. Not saying I take back how I shouted at her, but she brought up shit, and the fact that Victoria heard it, I couldn’t shake it. It affected the way I thought, the way I acted. Victoria knew something was up, she respected my privacy, but she had suspicions. If Tattletale hadn’t said anything, I could have dealt with Bonesaw coming to my house and fucking with me, getting me to break my code. Or Bonesaw might not have come at all. I don’t know. Victoria would have listened to me, maybe. Given me the benefit of the doubt.”
“We didn’t expect you to be at the bank. We were cornered, Tattletale used the power she was given to get us out of that spot. I’m sorry it happened.”
“She was the catalyst in my whole life falling apart. Tattletale was.”
“And you can be friends with her, and you still think of yourself as a good person?”
“I… don’t know that I do think of myself that way. I’ve probably done more damage than good, by trying to help others.” Dinah, the people in my territory, now Brian.
“But your intentions were good, then? You were trying to help?”
“Then tell me what to do.” She didn’t meet my eyes. “I don’t know anymore. I’ve spent so long helping others, and I’m so scared, I feel numb. My brain isn’t working. Can’t think straight. I- I just don’t know anymore. I’m not making any promises, I won’t fight, won’t face the Nine, don’t want to talk to Tattletale, but…” she trailed off, unable to finish her thought.
I swallowed. I couldn’t even manage with myself, and now she wanted me to guide her?
“Okay,” I said. My mind was going a mile a minute. She was one of the most powerful parahumans native to Brockton Bay. How was I supposed to use her?
One idea crossed my mind, and I hated myself for thinking it, for the stark fear I felt at the thought. “Okay. I won’t ask you to face the Nine. But you can give us the ability to go after them, to fight them. There’s this part of the brain that Bonesaw called the… Corona something. Corona potential? Can you access mine? Tweak my power, give me more range? As much as you can.”
The mental image of Bonesaw cutting through my skull with her saw was so real I could almost feel the sensation of it.
But we had to stop Siberian.
“I can’t affect brains.”
“You can’t-” I sighed. We all had our limitations and barriers. I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed. I didn’t argue the point. “Fuck. Okay. The dogs. Can you charge them up? Figure out how Bitch’s power is affecting them, and either make them big again or keep them from getting any smaller?”
She glanced at Sirius. I’d gotten so used to them I’d nearly forgotten just how horrifying they were to look at.
“I’d have to touch them.”
“Yeah. They’re not as bad as they look. They’re regular dogs, it’s only appearances and size.”
“Regular dogs still bite people.”
“I don’t want to lose more fingers.”
“I know. You don’t have to. Let me think. We can come up with another way for you to contribute.”
“Can you grow us wings?” Trickster asked, in a wry tone.
“I can’t generate flesh from nothing, and it’s slow to convert something into a part your body won’t reject.”
“Of course,” Trickster said, with a note of sarcasm.
Not helping, I thought. Amy was willing to do something. It was useful. We didn’t need to discourage that.
Before I could finish my thought, I saw Amy walk up to Sirius and offer him one hand to sniff. She flinched as he moved his head, pulling her arm away.
I joined her side, and put one hand on the side of Sirius’ neck, digging my fingertips into a meaty cord of muscle. I scratched with enough force that I might have left tracks in normal skin. “Hey, boy. You’re a good dog, aren’t you? Yes you are.”
His bone-crusted tail lashed behind him in something approximating a wag.
Amy put out her hand again, and Sirius sniffed it. Gingerly, she laid her hand on the length of his snout, running her fingers over calcified muscle, bone spurs and braided lengths of muscle and other tissue.
“The hell?” she muttered. “Can’t wrap my head around this.”
“You can’t make him bigger?”
“No, I don’t think I can. Can’t make something from nothing. But I think I can stall the shrinking. Whatever I do might get undone the second he’s back in range of Hell- of Bitch. It’s hard to describe. I can see the aftermath of what she does, but not the process. It’s like the tissue grows, then it dies as it gets pushed out of the core, but some of it stays functional… there’s a normal dog inside there? Intact?”
“Okay. Think I’ve got it. He’s not going to shrink anytime soon.”
I signaled Tattletale to return. “Thank you.”
She walked over to Bentley, giving Trickster a wary look as she walked by him. I joined her, in part to give Bentley the reassurance that this angry stranger wasn’t so dangerous.
“There,” Amy said. “You’re going to save your friends?”
“And if we can, we’re going to put down the Nine. We figured out Siberian’s weakness.”
Her eyes widened slightly at that. “What?”
“What did you think we meant when we were talking about her other self?”
“A secret identity? I- I wasn’t really paying attention.”
Tattletale climbed up onto Bentley’s back, studiously ignoring Amy.
“Kind of a secret identity. She’s a projection,” I said. “Like Crusader has with his duplicates. Best case scenario, we can find her real body and put her down.”
“Just like that? You’ll kill her?”
“Ideal world,” I said. Grue had climbed up onto Sirius’s back, and he offered me a hand up. “Won’t know if we’re capable until it happens, but I’d like to think we have the courage.”
“But you’re risking your lives.”
“Yeah.” I got settled and wrapped my arms around Grue’s body. He didn’t react or protest. My head just inches from his back, I turned to look down at Amy, “See, it helps that we’re pissed.”
“I’m pissed too,” Amy said.
I offered my hand to her, in case she wanted to climb up behind me and join us, but she stepped away.
“But you’re more scared than pissed,” I said. She looked away.
“We should get going,” Trickster said, as Sundancer got in position behind him. We were all seated and ready to head to the rescue.
“One second,” I told him. “Amy. Listen. It’s okay. I’ve thought of another way you can help, and it doesn’t put you in any danger.”
“What is it?” She still didn’t meet my eyes.
“You’re going to cut loose with your power. I can feed you the raw materials, you do what you can. You know how my power works?”
“Send the bugs my way when you’re done with them, then.”
“You’re a villain, you know. You’re asking me to betray the family I grew up with if I’m helping you.”
I stared at her. We were so similar in such different ways, but I couldn’t even begin to comprehend her train of thought.
Why were the people who clung so fiercely to the notions of right and wrong the very same individuals that had the worst grasp of what they meant?
Maybe I wasn’t one to talk.
“I don’t think you’re one to talk about betraying family,” Tattletale spoke.
I could see all the color drain out of Amy’s face.
“Hey, Tattle,” I started.
“No. Sorry, Skitter, but it’s my turn to talk now. We’re short on time, and we really should leave now, but if we leave it like this, you’re going to be distracted.”
I shut my mouth.
“Amy? I know what you did.”
“Don’t you dare-” Amy started.
“You fucked up. You crossed one of the lines that’s reserved for the real monsters. You know it, I know it.”
Amy’s face crumpled. I didn’t have a better way of describing it, the way her expression twisted, going from plain to almost inhuman from emotion alone.
I almost spoke up. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t.
“You think you’re the lowest of the low, that you’re scum. You despise yourself.”
Amy couldn’t even mount a response.
“You’re wrong. You’re not there. Not yet.”
Amy looked up at Tattletale, wide-eyed. The look was utterly defenseless. I was put in mind, for just an instant, of just who Tattletale could have been. I had a mental image of her as a cult leader, tearing people down with an almost surgical precision, then molding them into who she wanted them to be when they were emotionally and mentally unable to mount a defense.
“Not yet?” Amy asked.
“Not yet. You shouldn’t hate yourself for what you did in a moment of desperation. Hate yourself for what you do after. Hate yourself for your cowardice, your refusal to step up and help at this moment, right now, your refusal to participate in this world that you never even tried to understand. That’s a conscious call you’re making, and you know it’s the wrong one.”
Amy hugged her arms to her chest. She shook her head a little, as if she was denying what Tattletale was saying.
Tattletale went on. “You need to make the right calls, and you need to start now, because you’re approaching the point of no return. You start making amends, you start doing your part, and you undo what you did, and you do it ASAP, because if you don’t, you’re going to hit the hard ground at the bottom of that slippery slope.”
Tattletale didn’t give Amy a chance to finish. She kicked her heels and Bentley charged off.
Grue moved to follow, and I turned to Amy, “If I send my bugs to you, will you-”
“I’ll- I’ll come.”
She stuck her hand in my direction, and I caught it, helping her up to a seat behind me. Sirius shook slightly, as if he could shake us off. Were we too heavy?
Apparently not. He bolted after Bentley, and we were off, Amy clinging to me like her life depended on it. I suspected that had little to do with the fact that we were riding on one of Bitch’s dogs.
The clawed feet of the dogs pounded pavement as we made our way towards central downtown.
I could feel the sensation of Amy doing something to interfere with my powers. It began to get worse, reaching a peak, and then getting worse. Just when it had reached the point where I was going to tear her hands from around me and let her fall off Sirius’s back, it began to clear up.
I could feel the bugs, but they weren’t anything like what I’d seen in Brockton Bay. Superficially like dragonflies, with fatter bodies. I couldn’t grasp every process in their body, making them feel strangely hollow and artificial. What I could feel was a kind of echo in my power. It made control harder.
She had to have a reason for doing what she was doing. I tried directing them to move, and they took off. No problem on that front.
I couldn’t ask what she’d done, because we were moving fast enough that the wind in our ears would drown out my voice, and the run was jarring enough that I worried I would bite my tongue if I tried talking.
Instead, I experimented. I tried operating their bodies, engaged in the usual practices for injecting venom, nothing. They weren’t weaponized, I was almost sure. I even placed some aphids on them to get a feel for their exteriors.
It was only when I moved them out to either side of me that it dawned on me what the echo was. Experimenting, I sent them to the limits of my range to confirm my suspicions.
Whatever signal my power sent to my bugs, these bugs were there to intercept it and transmit it to their immediate area. Each extended my range by three hundred or so feet around them.
Letting go of Grue with one hand, I patted Amy’s hand and then reached back to give her a thumbs up. I set more dragonflies and other various bugs down on the backs of her hand.
In another minute, I had four more relay bugs. I paired them up and sent them forward, so one relay could transmit to the next. Two extra city blocks of range. I started gathering a swarm with the bugs in question.
Amy had balked at the idea of outfitting me with altered bugs. Had she maybe settled on these, because she thought they wouldn’t give me as much offensive potential?
I had them in place for less than ten seconds before I found a moving vehicle. It was a truck with plastic sheeting over the windows, four-wheeled, with a compact rear. A small moving truck? It was moving faster than was safe, veering wildly as it to get through the water and over the damaged streets, and it was heading straight for central downtown. Straight for the others.
“Found him!” I hollered, at the top of my lungs. Tattletale looked over at me, and I signaled, extending my arm to the ten o’clock position.
I felt strangely calm as I shifted my focus to the attack.
If it came down to it, I’d have to kill the man.
My bugs clustered on the ‘windshield’ of flapping plastic, gathering in heavy numbers. The faster moving dragonflies and hornets began to pelt the plastic, attempting to drive themselves through it. Most died in the process.
He swerved sharply to try to throw the bugs off, but there wasn’t enough in the way of momentum or wind. My other flying insects began to ferry larger black carpenter ants onto the windscreen, to use their sharp bites to penetrate the plastic sheeting. We were making holes, but the attempts of my swarm to worm their way through the holes and open them enough for the more dangerous bugs to get inside were stymied by the wind and the flapping of the plastic. Every movement, however small, threw off my ability to track where the existing holes were.
We had a bead on him, and the dogs were better suited for rough terrain than the moving vehicle. It was only a minute before we caught up. As I’d guessed, a white moving van with a giant icon of a hand on the back with the words ‘Haul It!’
I might have found it amusing if the circumstances were slightly different.
He noticed us shortly after we noticed him. Siberian flickered into existence on top of the vehicle, standing, her legs shifting to adjust her balance as it hit a crack in the pavement and rocked slightly to one side. I heard Amy shriek as she saw Siberian.
Tattletale veered left, hard, and Grue turned us right. We each cut into side streets, running parallel with the truck. Bentley was lagging slightly behind, but I caught a glimpse of the other group as we made our way past a major intersection. Two blocks away, slightly behind us.
I heard an explosion, and Amy clutched me tighter in reaction. Glancing down, I could see her arms around my ribcage, the hand with the maimed fingers held slightly off and away so it wouldn’t get bumped or jostled.
Trickster was handling the opening salvo. The objects he was swapping for grenades weren’t even close in size -signs and traffic cones- so the timing was horribly off. Siberian didn’t move from her perch.
Grue steered Sirius into a sharp left, and the dog’s claws skidded for a grip on the flooded street before we turned. We got one block and then turned right, putting us directly behind them.
I could see Siberian tense, as if intending to jump, but another explosion from Trickster kept her in place. She was protecting the truck, surrounding it with her forcefield. I wasn’t sure how it was able to interact with the road, but a grenade going off under the front of the truck failed to achieve anything.
There would be nothing to stop her from staying there until the truck reached
the other Nine. It would out Siberian’s real nature to any of the Nine who didn’t know, and that wasn’t a total loss, but it also meant our teammates would be blindsided by her arrival.
I felt something bump my hands. Grue was holding the chains that led to Sirius’s muzzle. He bumped my hands agan, and I took hold of them.
With his own hands free, leaning hard against me for support, he reached out and buried Siberian and the truck in a carpet of darkness. Following, we soon plunged into the wake.
The second we were out of sight, I shifted our position so we were running in the left hand lane, rather than the center of the road. Didn’t want Siberian guessing our position and pouncing on us.
I could sense the surroundings with my bugs, but my power was diminished. I was aware of Grue, Amy and Bentley, of Tattletale, Trickster and Sundancer a short distance away, keeping pace. I could see Siberian and the truck.
I couldn’t detect any sign that Grue was projecting anything with Siberian’s power. Whatever she was doing to the truck, it was protecting her from him.
The upside was that the driver was blind.
I could tell because he drifted. It was gradual at best, but he veered slightly to the left. With no point of reference, he didn’t know he needed to correct. A moment later, he smashed into the face of a tall building. Siberian’s power meant the truck took no damage, and the driver corrected course, but soon enough, he began to veer again.
This wasn’t getting us anywhere, and we were running the risk that he’d hit someone, crash into or through an inhabited area.
Through my swarm, I could feel Tattletale waving. Grue hadn’t swamped her in darkness, so there was nothing hampering her progress. What did she want?
More to the point, how the hell were we supposed to communicate? I reached a block ahead of her and formed my bugs into a word. ‘WHAT?’
She tapped her hand to her eye, then to the top of her head.
Again, I formed my bugs into a word. ‘WHAT?’
She tapped her head a few more times.
I was disappointed that a girl with superpowered intuition couldn’t come up with a better signal. What did she want? Eyes could mean see, head could be about thinking? Her power?
She reached back over Trickster’s shoulder with one hand while holding the reins with the other. My bugs had to settle on her finger to follow her gesture. Pointing? She was pointing behind him. At Sundancer.
Eyes, brain, Sundancer.
She wanted to see, to use her power, to use Sundancer?
Tattletale was waving now. The opposite of a beckoning gesture. A scooping motion, as if to push us away.
She wanted us to go away? To get back? She wanted to deploy Sundancer’s power. That made sense. And she wanted to be sure we were out of the line of fire? She could only do that if she saw us, and she could only use her power if she could follow what was going on.
From my seat behind Grue, I steered Sirius around another corner, then brought us up behind Tattletale’s group. We gradually caught up.
“Do it!” I shouted as we began to pull alongside them. Siberian would be out of range of Grue’s darkness in moments if Grue wasn’t behind her, replenishing and extending his power.
“Where is she!?” Tattletale shouted. Sundancer was leaning back, her hand out to one side. The orb she was creating was small.
The orb was getting larger. The size of a baseball, a beachball, an armchair. As it grew, it drifted farther away, higher.
By the time it was directly overhead, it was large enough to swallow up my bedroom whole.
“Gotta stop them!” Tattletale called out, “We blindside them!”
“Civilians!?” Sundancer cried out.
“Let me know-” She grunted as Bentley stumbled over a pothole. “Let-”
“Got it!” I replied.
I tracked the people in nearby buildings, and kept my arm extended to point at Siberian.
“Got to use my power again!” Grue shouted.
“Signal us!” Tattletale called out.
We pulled right, plunging into the darkness. It was thinning out, and faint shafts of light were piercing through.We crossed the road behind Siberian, and Grue blasted them with darkness, replenishing the effect. We continued across the street, moving behind cover.
Only a few people in the upcoming area. We had to be close to Regent’s group. Time was short.
I drew images with my bugs to point her in the right direction, and then formed the word with my bugs as the other group continued forward. ‘NOW’.
We passed out of the darkness just in time for me to catch sight of the orb. It was larger now. Large enough that when it fell, it had to be touching both of the sidewalks on the four lane road. Even with a building between us and the impact zone, I could feel the wave of heated air, and I saw the billowing steam. Grue took the reins and guided Sirius away before it could reach us.
Sundancer hadn’t hit Siberian. She’d dropped the orb straight into the road a hundred feet ahead of them, and she’d plunged it down, hard.
My bugs died as Siberian approached the impact site, burned up by the heated air. I could imagine what had happened. The miniature sun would have burned a hole into the ground, melted or even vaporized pavement.
Affected by Siberian’s power or not, they were still affected by gravity.
I couldn’t say what would have happened in the long run. Had they hit the wall or floor of the pit and used Siberian’s power to make it as invulnerable as they were? Or had they plunged through it, burying themselves some distance underground.
A nearby building was burning. I saw Sundancer forming another orb near the site, I wasn’t sure what she was doing, but the flames on the building were shrinking and dying out.
This wasn’t a victory. It was a stall. We couldn’t stop Siberian so long as she was able to grant invulnerability to her other self, but we could keep her from reaching her teammates in any meaningful amount of time.
It was interesting, I had to note, that she was affecting the truck and not her maker.
A limitation? A drawback? Could she not use her power on her real body?
Clouds of white steam intermingled with the black tendrils of Grue’s darkness. We stopped running, but we didn’t approach. I focused my power on the bugs in the ground. Ants, earthworms. Was she tunneling? No. As far as I could tell, the ground was intact. She wasn’t moving.
“What did you do?” Amy whispered from behind me.
I didn’t have the breath to explain.
“Drop the darkness?” I asked.
Grue nodded. The darkness cleared, but the steam didn’t make it any easier to see. I saw the shadowy silhouette of Tattletale, a distance away. I practically had to peel Amy off of me to get to my cell phone.
“Tattletale?” I asked, the second she picked up.
“She’s still down there.” Tattletale replied.
“Don’t know. Planning her next move? Don’t get the impression she’s tunneling.”
“My bugs don’t either. Hey, I’m wondering if Siberian can affect her real self? Why doesn’t she just grab him and run?”
“Good question. But that’s not our real concern.”
It took three or four seconds before I saw them arrive, stepping through the mist to stop a distance from the hole. Identical costumes, all-concealing, with gas mask filters on the front and tinted panes for the upper faces. Each was color coded. Four flew, one using a jetpack. One was on the ground, a style of super-speed I recognized as Battery’s. Rounding out their group was the ghostly image of a bear. Ursa something, from Legend’s squad. She had three forms, or she duplicated herself into three states, or something. I wasn’t sure about the naming convention. One for the big bear, one for the small, and one for the woman.
“Legend, Battery, Cache,” Tattletale rattled off names through the phone, “Chariot, Glory Girl.”
Amy squeaked, barely audible, a failed attempt to speak.
The flying man in the lead pointed his hand towards Tattletale. If that was Legend, one laser blast could take all of them out. I wasn’t sure if he’d spotted us through the mist and smoke.
“Want me to use my power?” Grue asked.
“No,” Tattletale’s voice came from my phone. “Skitter? Inform them.”
I drew words out with the flying insects, big and bold, with an arrow pointing down at the crater. ‘SIBERIAN + HER CREATOR’
Legend snapped his head from the words to us.
“Shit,” Tattletale said. No sooner was the word out of her mouth than Siberian came tearing out of the hole, truck held over her head. A section of the street was torn free and flipped through the air. Legend blasted it out of existence with an indigo flash of light.
“Cash!” Legend bellowed the word. He began pelting Siberian with lasers. Beams capable of leveling buildings, and she ignored them.
Cash? I saw the man in the black costume raising his hands. Dark lines began to surround Siberian and the truck, forming complex geometric angles.
In the blink of an eye, as Siberian reached the peak of her leap, panes of glossy black material snapped into place between the dark lines. The resulting geometry contracted as if he meant to squish Siberian. It shattered instead.
She hit the ground in a crouch, holding the truck in one hand, and the man in the black robe staggered, blood gushing from his nose. Legend caught him before he could collapse.
Cache. Right. I was dimly aware of him, though I’d never seen his picture.
Siberian charged the heroes, and they cleared out of the way in an instant. The one in power armor -Chariot- slid across the ground with the aid of his jetpack and built-in roller skates. Legend and the one in red, Glory Girl by process of elimination, took flight. Ursa whatever leaped to one side. They were the mobile group, the group that was able to get here fastest. They’d seen the sun appear, they’d seen it hit, and they’d come to step in.
Siberian didn’t stop to engage the enemy. She continued on her course, charging through the ground floor of a building as she swung the truck in a lazy back and forth arc. I could see the roof buckling as vital supports disappeared.
Legend handed Cache to Ursa and gave chase. I could see Chariot raising his hand to his right ear, pausing.
He, Battery and Glory Girl turned and advanced towards Tattletale’s group.
“Can we go?” Amy asked, from behind me. “I didn’t- I didn’t think-”
There was a pause. We could fight. My power would be largely foiled by those suits, but Grue had his power.
“No,” Tattletale said. “Come here, and bring Amy. They want to talk.”
Amy pulled back, and I grabbed her wrist. Before she could hop off Sirius, Grue was directing the dog across the road.
Chariot and Glory Girl pulled off their helmets as we arrived. Chariot was black, his narrow, triangular face largely covered in power armor. He had the scruff of a weak teenage beard on his chin.
Glory Girl bore little resemblance to any of the last times I’d seen her. There were dark circles under her eyes. She stared at me. No- at Amy. The glare seethed with raw, seething hatred. It made every line of her face hard.
“You’ve joined them, now?” She spoke, breaking the brief silence.
“I just wanted to help against the Nine,” Amy said. Her voice was small, defeated. “Can I-”
“If you open your mouth and ask if you can use your power on me, I won’t be held responsible for what I do,” Glory Girl growled.
“Don’t hate me, please. I don’t care what you think of me, but hate is too close to…” Amy trailed off.
“Too close to what?” Glory Girl asked. She shrugged. Anger gave an edge to her words. “Aren’t you going to say it? Can’t you admit what you did?”
Amy hung her head, and her forehead rested between my shoulders, hair hanging down. She shook her head, but I doubted Glory Girl could see it.
“Let’s put vendettas aside,” Chariot spoke. He smirked. “We have bigger fish to fry.”
“The Nine,” Trickster spoke.
“The Nine,” Chariot said. “But it’s not my place to talk tactics. I’m just the rookie. The messenger.”
He extended one hand toward Tattletale. There was an earbud in his palm.
“The Director of the PRT would like to have a word with you.”
Well, Siberian is screwed. Even if s/he manages to escape this time, they will always have to worry about the heroes just rounding up everyone that fits the appropriate description.
I was worried the info might be lost, but now the heroes know and Siberian is finally screwed completely. He should have run when he had the chance, I guess he was trying to save Bonesaw.
On the other hand, Battery being part of the team chasing her puts Siberian’s short term survival chances much higher.
I really wish Taylor had put some bugs onto the chase team.
I can’t believe the rest of the Nine didn’t know. I can’t see how they would not notice this truck always tailing them.
Well, we haven’t seen who’s in the truck. There still might be more to it.
They *did* notice that Siberian likes to disappear suddenly every now and then.
Relay… bugs… Amy, I love you.
“Had she maybe settled on these, because she thought they wouldn’t give me as much offensive potential?”
If so, she was kinda right and a whole lot of WRONG. If the situation wasn’t so dire, I expect Taylor would be dancing with joy with this new resource.
I don’t think Amy is quite savvy enough to have made them sterile. If she isn’t then she just made a pretty massive mistake.
So long as Amy is alive she can trivially counter the relay bugs – make relay-bug hunters that track transmissions and eat them (which may also mean they eat Skitter) or hijack the relay. And of course there is still the possibility that she is the one who ends the world with a super-plague.
This is something of a “what if Batman had a Green Lantern Ring” affair, as Taylor would clearly make better use of Amy’s power. Though much of that may stem from Taylor simply having much more practice applying her weaker versatility power in the situations that we’re interested in.
The versatility is one point, but I think nobody has mentioned that Amy is afraid of her power. She doesn’t want to use it. She’d be happier not having to use her abilities and just laying low with her perfect adopted nuclear family. Being normal would be an escape to her.
Taylor’s life without powers sucked. She hated it. She’d been mostly over her mom’s passing, but she was horribly bullied. So her getting powers was a time to escape from the horrible normal world into that of the superhumans. She wasn’t afraid of her power.
And we’ve seen it Amy standing tall and saying horrible things while Taylor laid in a bed, back broken, after having tried to save the city. Moving onward, we have the fact that Taylor has gotten stronger and more confident in using her powers even as she’s faced the Nine, while Amy has gotten less confident in her abilities due to the way the Nine pushed her.
Come to think of it, even how they got powers was opposed to each other. Amy is a second gen, so she had nature on her side. Taylor was bullied to the breaking point, so that’s more nurture, for the negative side of that term in an anthropological and sociological context. One’s a hero afraid to wind up a villain, the other’s a villain who wanted to be a hero. Amy’s lesbian, Taylor’s straight.
I’m sure there’s other differences. Peanut butter or chocolate. Cats or dogs. Country or Rock N’ Roll. Pads or tampons. Communist or fascist. Wile. E. Coyote or Road Runner. Superman or Squirrel Girl. Boxers or Briefs. Orange or apple. Apple or PC. Hair Metal or J-Pop. Pizza or escargot. Grape Ape or Funky Monkey. Playa or playa hater. Pop rocks or submachineguns. Bushwacker or Bahama Mama. Ebony and Ivory.
Oooooh, Ebony and Ivory, live together in perfect harmony, side by side on my piano keyboard, Oh lord, why don’t we? We all know that people are the same whereever we go. There is good or bad in everyone. We learn to live, we learn to give each other what we need to survive, together alive.
Superman and Squirrel Girl is an apt one.
Excellent point. Though I am sure that I’ve heard of escargot pizza before…
Hate break it to you but, the batman with a Green Lantern ring has actually been done.
And it, actually work out pretty good for the story.
So, let us just agree that if Taylor/Skitter had the use of Amy’s abilities she could be some nifty and innovative things with them.
From a genetics perspective, simply altering the bugs doesn’t mean their children will have the same alterations. She’d have to change the reproductive organs’ DNA for that to be passed on to offspring, and actively doing that is a big difference from forgetting to sterilize them.
That is if they can breed. If they can, Taylor just became THE most dangerous parahuman on the planet. At least in the intelligence gathering and parallel-action sense of the word. Because with those, she could potentially control all bugs on the planet (relay of the relay of the relay).
Also,, Amy is lying about the brain part. Has to be.
Not only do they need to breed, they also need to breed true. It is entirely possible that whatever modification Amy made did not involve shanging the genetic code of the entire organism but only of the parts necessary for the desired effect. If the reproductive cells were unaffected they won’t have offsping with the same characteristics.
A deformity caused by a cancerous growth or an injury won’t be passed on to subsequent generations.
Of course if Amy did change the entire organism allowing them to pass on their muatation this would be extremely useful as long as she chose speciems of both genders (Life may still find a way.)
Amy isn’t… lying. she’s rebuilding her boundaries. setting limits, intentionally.
Asserting her own sense of self…
as long as she changed them on a genetic level they dont have to breed, just clone them (still wondering why skitter doesn’t breed super bugs)
Well, even with short bug generations, she’s only been out this for a few months total. And most of that was involved in breeding up black spiders to make her costume.
Something horrifying just occurred to me: A HackJob made of Amy and Taylor.
Ah, just like a hero. “Well, we could hunt down the indestructible superbeast at the best possible time to actually kill it…by why let that get in the way of being pissed about an accident. Completely unintentional. A moment of weakness after having been mindfucked by a girl who probably practices the literal example of that, the very second time even trying an ability that Amy had never even wanted to use for fear of that very thing.” Naturally, this important mix of words shoved into Glory Girl’s mouth is, in a moment of satire, able to show us something very important. The chase scene could be read while Rob Zombie’s “Superbeast” plays to rocking effect.
You know, Glory Girl, if you were a supervillain you could just blackmail her. Or better yet, force her to empty out any savings she has, rob your enemies, pay you, then seemingly hug her in forgiveness and shove a knife into the base of her neck.
Of course, you could do all that anyway, as long as you had a heel realization first. Boy, do you take all of this personally for someone who is even more of a volunteer than the government volunteers. Gives me an idea for an action or two to reorientate your point of view…. *pulls out a laser measuring tape and points it at Glory Girl a bunch of times. Accidently points it at the ground and spends a couple of minutes trying to catch the red dot*
I just don’t understand how you can blame Glory Girl for being angry about what Panacea did to her. It seems obvious that Glory Girl wasn’t SUPPOSED to chase after Siberian. She is entirely too young to throw at Siberian if you can avoid it. Especially when you consider that they can’t leave Chariot alone to be the messenger to the Undersiders. The risk of them grabbing up chariot and bodyjacking him is too great. Glory Girl staying frees up more of the elite mobile forces to chase down Siberian.
In the immediate aftermath it is hard to blame her. However, we have a great deal of control over our own bodies and we have reason. Even if emotional responses undermine our thinking temporarily, it behooves us to explore and understand what prompted such an effect. An examination of the events would show that while Panacea’s actions were wrong, they were also accidental and made in the aftermath of psychological trauma in which she was forced to kill someone or watch her adoptive father be killed. Panacea had often stated that she didn’t wish to use such powers due to the potential difficulty to control them. She was proven correct and only when Glory Girl herself was made the target was she most capable of understanding her sister’s fear. All this time later, she has rejected understanding in order to hang onto her juvenile emotional response.
Letting your anger control your actions is usually a weakness. For example, when Hulk Smash!, or when Sun Tzu advised angering or frustrating enemies to force them into weaker positions so that they may best be slaughtered like some sort of juvenile sheep. One may feel anger, but one can keep it under control. After all, Panacea did make Glory Girl angry, but Glory Girl chose to stay angry. Feel emotions and revel in them at times, but be prepared to set them aside when it is necessary to, such as when duty calls. Such is necessary for the search for truth as well, especially given the emotional response people have when someone disagrees with them or proves them wrong.
For example, you are correct that Glory Girl’s age may have played a part in this (though she’s volunteered to go into all kinds of unknown situations before as a superhero against people who were capable of killing her even if they weren’t trying to) and that the desire to keep an eye on Chariot is also part of it, even more so since he’s the mole (moley moley moley moley moley).
Still, it is quite a jerk move to bring up something like that in the vicinity of a combat situation in which everyone there is after the same target. It also may imply that Panacea’s action have had the effect despite Glory Girl’s desire to repress it. It appears that Panacea’s accident weighs more heavily on Glory Girl’s mind when she sees Panacea than even the nearby unstoppable cannibalistic killing machine bent on slaughtering everyone she holds dear and consuming them for no other reason than her own warped hedonistic pleasure. It’s not like situational awareness in an urban combat zone is a big deal, I guess.
When Panacea did rewire Glory Girl’s brain, she did it reflexively in a few seconds. That could mean it was as simple as “flicking a switch” from straight to lesbian… but it could also be some kind of compulsive or addictive program – an irresistable base level of “you find your sister attractive” with no real conscious or emotional control. It could easily be worse than that.
Combined with fear of the only cure, fear of any hidden subversion of her mind and probably several different flavours of shame and doubt all twisting and burning in her head I can see why Glory Girl can’t let it go even when there really are bigger things to worry about.
I’d go so far as to say that she might be physically incapable of letting it go.
I think the worst part is that Glory Girl is making no actual attempt at understanding, while Amy is. Meaning that if we’re talking about which of them betrayed their sisterhood I would not say it was Amy.
Amy has far better reasons to be pissed off at little miss excessive force nearly killed you oops fix it sis. Glory Girl used her sister, emotionally blackmailed her, to keep her excesses under wraps. She hardly has the right to turn around after a single accident and claim that she has no idea how that works. She has almost the exact same problem to a much worse degree.
You’re right. It’s not. 😛
Glory Girl was the last person Amt needed to see after what’s happened.
You know, I just had a realization. Panacea was able to replicate Taylor’s power. This means that she likely can replicate other powers (at least those biological ones, like Tattletale’s, or perhaps even Crawler’s) as well. Even assuming that she really can’t alter human brains, she could give, say, chimps or dolphins (or bugs) Tattletale’s powers, essentially uplifting them to sapience.
Not to mention the relay bugs. Bugs that have real, real-time, telepathic hive-mind (via Skitter’s power). A species of bugs that could, eventually, reach true sapience (via distributed processing). I would even bet that they could reach it quite quickly. She essentially created new sapient species / entity. One that could eventually cover the whole planet.
This is so mindbogglingly terrifying that I bet the moment someone in the story would realize it, they’ll wet their pants.
On the other note – it seems to me that this arc is setting up the stage for massive escalation of hostilities/activities. Let me explain. “Heroes” (main characters) are getting boosts. Grue got power copying and had the second level trigger event (the first one in-universe, as far as anyone knows). Taylor may have had partial second stage trigger, got new species of bugs to play with (and this one could essentially make her control range unlimited). Bitch got her wolf and may get some upgrades too. Glory Girl seems on the verge of the second-stage trigger (since she is a second generation parahuman, it would likely be the same in the intensity as the first stage trigger for first generation parahumans). They are taking on Slaughterhouse Nine and are taking them down, thus bringing attention to themselves. PRT director is about to bomb the city using Manton-effect bypassing ammunition. All of this points to massive escalation in the near future.
I would not be surprised if Behemoth visited soon.
There are a few other individuals that have had a second breakthrough. The one that was mentioned earlier gained the ability to bypass the manton effect. I think he was a telekinetic, which makes him absolutely insanely strong.
Narwhal was one of the named examples. Despite people’s impressions, she didn’t demonstrate this against Leviathan.
She creates crystalline forcefields and can move them at high velocities. She can also, if you’re within fifty feet of her, create a forcefield that bisects part of your body. Bling, you’re missing an arm. Bling, you’re missing an upper body.
So, Narwhal’s all about the bling, huh? Does she have a grill too?
Narwhal could produce super sharp force fields regardless of what was already occupying the space the field now occupies. After having a second trigger event, Narwhal could even make these fields cut people. But that wasn’t so much “on screen” as it was a history lesson.
Except the thing with the dogs made it clear that she can’t. Amy cannot replicate all of someone’s power just like Grue can’t copy hers. Her power is to manipulate biology, but that doesn’t make her able to create Lung for instance, nothing biologically impossible to that degree.
Sure, some things are impossible. But some seem to be within her grasp. Like telepathy (or whatever it is Skitter does). I would guess that Panacea can replicate Thinker and, possibly, Master powers.
Creating an antenna can be much simpler than creating a radio. There’s a lot more to Skitter’s power than someone might assume without playing with it for a while- the parallel processing, the two way flow of information(After all, Panacea needs to be touching the bugs to get information from them so it doesn’t seem she’s able to tap into the signal otherwise).
Really, there’s no evidence that she can do anything other than tap into the existing power, maybe tweak a few variables. Too much of any given power lies outside of the body in the passenger, likely.
It’s real easy to make an antenna. Just wrap yourself in tinfoil and hug the TV for awhile. And altering or upgrading something that’s already made by someone else is much easier than having to build it all up from scratch. Like how the Eiffel Tower has been used as a radio and TV antenna before, rather than someone building a series of smaller towers or one tower of equal height that will need to be designed and built there, permits drawn, people paid, delays accounted for, politicians bribed, so on and so forth.
I think these altered bugs show evidence for the idea that Skitter’s multitasking is being aided by the bugs. Like in swarm theory, she gets smarter the more she has gathered, perhaps using tiny bits of bug brain (or whatever they have) for increased memory and ability. Since her power is a mental one, it may now be spread out over a few specialized altered bugs in much the way her brainpower is.
Also, I just find it somewhat of an amusing coincidence that Skitter’s new transmitters that she can deploy in order to exercise her powers farther away are dragonflies. No AI in these dragonfliers.
During Miss Militia’s Interlude (Interlude 7) it is stated that the Endbringer’s pattern involves striking every few months, taking turns (though not necessarily 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3… just never twice in a row) and that they never strike the same general area in a given span of time.
So it’s pretty unlikely Behemoth will drop by Brockon Bay within a year or two of Leviathan’s attack.
you are writing unlikely, not impossible, you are setting us up for something?^^
Nothing is impossible. If I did hypothetically say impossible, that would be a spoiler, and you could read something into that (because it would imply something about the Endbringers and why they do what they do). Of course, you might well read something into the hypothetical I just posed. I can’t win.
So I stay vague and don’t dismiss any possibilities. 🙂
Personally, I kind of expect the next segment of the story to move more into a cloak and dagger scenario, as opposed to the pseudo-warfare we’ve seen recently.
Coil’s obviously going to continue his shadow bid for control of the city, which will be interesting in and of itself, but there’s also a few other mysteries that could be brought into the foreground as soon as the current conflict dies down.
I don’t think the Director is playing here.
You don’t play around with deception and hand the
earbud to Tattletale (whom people don’t know what exactly she does, granted).
You’d hand it to Skitter, who is much easier to deceive.
Well, the director does not know exactly how Tattletale’s power works and is under the impression that she is the leader of the undersides so it makes sense to negotiate with her.
And lets not forget that her plan has shown, that she is not above making what are obviously horrible moves due to a combination of arrogance and ignorance.
Well, either way the gang is going to atleast get a warning before white phosphorus is dropped on their heads. This is good thing.
Why do I have this scenario in my head that when what Amy did to Glory Girl goes public, there will be someone who goes “You mean the slashfic writers were right?”.
I think Amy should stop asking for permission and just fix the problem. Her sister will be much happier in the long run. Especially after she stops the mind whammy that is affecting her so much.
Take down Glory Girl.
Alter her brain back.
the problem is to get skin contact / to take down the girl with the forcefield
Raping someone, to save their life, is a gross violation of medical ethics.
not saying that it doesn’t happen all the time, just that Amy seems to care about this shit (possibly inordinately much, but that’s okay, makes her human)
I’m not sure such a situation has ever come up in the 1st World. I mean, some cultures may have a superstition about curing a disease by having sex with a virgin (who may not want to take part), but most people don’t rape to save a life in this story or real life.
Of course, to hear certain wrong people tell it, rape is a cure for being a feminazi (using their term) but it may not matter anyway because the woman might just be lying about rape (to use their term) or the rape might not have been legitimate because a woman’s body will somehow not get pregnant if it’s a real rape (to use their terms). And one major world religion even practices honor rape (I just really want people to know these aren’t my ways of wording things), but that’s not to be confused with the one that’ll condemn people to eternal torment if they talk about being raped (to use their superstitions), while a smaller sect of such a religion has no problem marrying young girls into situations where marital rape will occur (and marital rape is bad under any circumstances). You also can’t forget the rapes in the military. You know, where the female soldiers say no but the guy forces himself on her anyway so she tells someone higher up on the chain of command who proceeds to do jack shit and in some cases she’s asked why she wants to be a troublemaker. Come to think of it, maybe the end of DODT can help turn the tables on the kinds of guys that did that.
It won’t, I’m just saying it’d be a karmic payback.
Since I don’t know where I was originally going with this anymore, end of line.
Wasn’t talking superstitions, though you’re right, generally not first world.
Comatose patients, in case you were wondering (and it only works if the person gets pregnant). “medical miracles”…
I don’t see where “raping her” comes in. OP’s point was that she should revert the mental change in her sister by force.
But I still don’t agree with that in any way. Considering the amount of distrust between them caused by her slip-up, forcefully reverting it would just feel like yet another deeply personal invasion of privacy and agency, and Victoria (is that her name?) would STILL never be able to shake the possibility that Amy had done something else to her, or that she would do something like that AGAIN, given that she would seem pretty willing to forcefully alter people’s minds for her own gain.
And there’s a REASON she held off on using her powers on brains for so long, a fear that was thoroughly and totally confirmed not MINUTES after she broke down and did it. The point is that it’s a slippery damn slope to fuck with people’s minds like that, and if she uses it for the most harmless of reasons, it will just keep spiraling out of her control, slowly and steadily.
Now do you get the sort of stress and indecision she’s dealing with? And she’s been doing so since she was a KID, if I remember right.
Even ignoring the difficulty of stopping GG long enough to do this, she has a forcefield. I mean, I suppose you could just keep shooting her every time the force field came back.
So now Battery knows that all she needs to do to protect Siberian is to kill Legend and Cache.
Regent could show Glory Girl what it really means to be a puppet!
I wonder if Marquis would still accept his little girl now.
you think she will realy save siberian and not turn cauldrin in? / tell the caps about her deal?
She doesn’t seem like the type who can toss the life she’s built. We’ll see.
Why can I not shake that omnious feeling that Amy is going to die, maybe because its the way I would fuck with my own expectations if I was the writer.
Like: Oh everyones thinking she will team up with skitter, so lets do the opposite first we will let tattletale talk her into joining the fight so everyones hopes get up then we kill her of, maybe atl east grant her some heroic moment of selfsacrifice for a good show or we make her end as pathethic as possible for the additional pain.
Also its interesting how Director Piggot can be so paranoid about the undersiders but still seems convinced she will not give away to much when speaking with tattletale, maybe its just a risk vs gain(information) calculation for her, and its somewhat hilarious how armsmaster gets imprisioned for the same shit she is trying to repeat now.
Other than that there are so many lose plots that do not involve another series of big scale fights
that I agree that the next storyline will probably be more subtle, my personal favorite would be a continuation of the dragon armsmaster plot.
We may see the dragon/armsmaster plot resolved or at least continued here- the heroes pointed out that he probably would have needed Dragon’s help to escape, and it was implied that Dragon told Armsmaster that she was an AI, so she may have already released him so he can reprogram her. However, he can’t leave the city before the Slaughterhouse Nine or they release a plague or something, so he is probably going to try to engage them directly against Dragon’s wishes who probably just wants him to lay low and then head up to Canada. The sticking point is he will inevitably run into someone who wants to know how he got out; an interesting discussion to say the least.
Piggot doesn’t know what tattletales abillety is (she and legend where speculating and not in the right direction)
f*** up peoples expectations: amy joining the 9(5,… they dont have to do nearly as much filtering now^^)
Continuity note: Interlude 13 says Chariot didn’t volunteer.
He was there in a supporting role, but not fighting.
Ah — I’ll have to reread again. 😀
I do think the Panacea/Glory Girl situation is one of the most interesting things to happen in Worm. It’s one of the strengths of this story that both sides often have a point in any given situation, and this is one such. On the one hand, Panacea committed her terrible act in a single moment of weakness after explicitly asking GG to stay away from her and spending years doing the right thing. She set up her rule because she didn’t trust herself, and restricted herself to the role of a healer when she could have done far more. It took immediate life-threatening danger to her adoptive father and herself to break her rule, and she didn’t want to do it even then. After all that, and given the horror and remorse she feels, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to give her a chance to make things right, even if GG never speaks to her again afterward. But then we have to look at it from GG’s perspective. Glory Girl loved her sister and they were close. They loved each other, and now she finds out that everything she thought she knew about Panacea was wrong. First, their relationship wasn’t exactly what she thought it was. Second, Panacea has crossed a terrible line and affected her mind.
And this is the real problem. Anyone who thinks Glory Girl should forgive Panacea or give her another chance, consider what that really means. Even ignoring that Amy could make further changes, presumably even make GG accept the changes she makes or thank her for them, the fact is that GG no longer trusts her own mind because it has ALREADY been affected. Anytime she feels a desire to forgive Amy, she can’t trust it, can’t know that it genuinely comes from herself. The only way to be sure that Amy didn’t do something like that would be for GG to live the rest of her life without interacting with Amy ever again – or possibly by killing her. There is no answer here, because the problem is not just one of unknowns, but unknowables; as someone whose mind has been affected, GG has no recourse anymore. Any future romantic emotions or relationships would probably be tainted by this as well, and GG would have to be the most trusting and forgiving person in the universe to give Amy any chance to fix things. To top it all off, the betrayal GG suffered came from the one person she was probably closest to in the entire world. Closer relationships make for more painful betrayals (as Taylor could tell us) and this is about as bad as it could get.
Staying angry at Amy is probably the only way GG can go through a day with any sort of belief that her mind is her own. Do you think she sleeps well, or has nightmares about her sister finding her and making everything “better”? Do you think she wakes up in the middle of the night at the slightest noise and checks to make sure that her sister – the person she used to defend to her mother even without understanding, the person she might have turned to for comfort once – isn’t back? Imagine being GG: You loathe Amy, and every time you think about it it tears you up inside. You feel guilty, and that guilt is utterly terrifying to you. You question whether what she did has or will affect your other relationships, twisting them. Maybe you want to turn to someone for help, but how can you tell them about it? Do you tell the other good guys that if you ever seem to forgive your sister, you want them to kill you because it means your free will is gone? You find it difficult to be glad that your father is back to himself, because you probably understand enough at this point to know that was what broke Amy. Mark was supposed to be depressed and not a great father. Maybe part of her even wishes that she could trade her current situation for the old one, where Mark needed constant care but at least Amy was a trusted family member and part of their lives, which would probably make GG feel more guilty again.
If all that isn’t bad enough, your family’s most personal issues are cape business, dirty laundry aired before every parahuman in Brockton Bay, and Amy is being scouted by the S9. She’s crossed a line and been broken; will she join? Will it be because you, GG, turned your back on her in her darkest hour and left her believing she could never have her life back again? Or maybe she’ll just join the Undersiders – you remember, those bad guys who threatened to poison a building full of civilians, including Amy, and started the chain reaction that destroyed your whole family? Those Undersiders? Either way, you could end up having to fight her. If things go bad, maybe you’ll have to kill her. If they go worse, maybe Panacea and Regent will capture you, and the two of them will reunite you with your loving sister and you can join the Undersiders too! Like Shadow Stalker, except permanent and you’d enjoy it! Or maybe Bonesaw and Jack Slash will help Amy get her sister back as a reward for joining up! Ooh! So many exciting possibilities! Hey, you and Amy could team up and kill your parents, then go home to a romantic evening to celebrate taking over Brockton Bay!
The fact that GG hasn’t tried to kill Amy already is frankly astonishing to me. She may not have been before, but at this point I think she’s a better person than I am.
The saddest part of the whole thing is that Amy might have had a chance to fix it on the spot, right after she made the initial change, but she didn’t because she was so horrified that she asked for permission instead of simply acting. She did that because the free-will-violating nature of what she had done was too horrific for her to stand it, which is to her credit as a human being. I can even imagine GG eventually forgiving her, in that scenario. Too bad, but it seems too late for that. Now GG can’t look at Amy without thinking about the fact that she could probably be a worse version of Heartbreaker or Regent, in many ways, while simultaneously doing some of the horrific things Bonesaw is capable of. Basically, she’s got powers on par with at least two of the world’s most messed up supervillains put together, if she ever uses them. All I can think is, the world is lucky that this power wound up with Amy, rather than Coil, Kaiser, or any number of other parahumans.
If I were Amy, I’d probably write an apology to GG, make sure that there were various copies and she would have every chance to read it, then go off to fight the S9. If I were still alive after that, I’d probably kill myself so she could get on with her life. My note would forgive her for basically everything, apologize for everything, and say that I hoped she could have a decent life with her family now, while clarifying that I was offing myself out of guilt, not just for her. Because if I were Amy, I sincerely doubt I could handle waking up in my own skin in the morning at this point. If I were GG, I’d probably just go stark raving mad. This whole thing is an emotional mess of the highest magnitude.
Oh! Very, very well written! …Poor Victoria.
Very well put, except for the emotionless evocation of suicide. Don’t talk about it like it’s nothing, or even the “sensible” thing to do. Please, just, don’t.
Fantastic chase scene. Great interpersonal development. Great inter-/power/ development, with an utterly awesome gift from Amy to Taylor. And Glory Girl is still an unutterable annoyance. I’m really glad this story isn’t Panacea & Glory Girl because I’d have quit after less than two chapters in Glory Girl’s head.
“Or had they plunged through it, burying themselves some distance underground.” – needs a question sign at the end.
“I felt something bump my hands. Grue was holding the chains that led to Sirius’s muzzle. He bumped my hands agan, and I took hold of them.”
Should be ‘again’.
“There would be nothing to stop her from staying there until the truck reached
the other Nine.”
There’s a linefeed/carriage return after reached.
“Affected by Siberian’s power or not, they were still affected by gravity.”
This single line is also a single paragraph, so I am having trouble deciding what “they” refers to.
I’m guessing it means Siberian itself and the truck she rode in on. But, just my opinion, this and the next paragraph are not very clear.
It is becoming increasingly harder to not hate Glory Girl, regardless of her position in this mess.
“agan” should be “again”
Some strange mis-wording in what the truck is doing as Skitter finds it.
” … veering wildly as it to get through the water …”
I. Hate. Amy. I just do.
No offence about the story, it’s completely awesome, nor to anyone who likes Amy, but Amy is just a freaking clusterfuck of screw ups. I realize that she has the pressure of her healing powers, and she just got chased by Siberian, losing her fingers in the process, but she pretty much exists as only a problem for everyone. Screwing up the bank robbery (that one is forgivable), going into a freaking emotion coma over mercy killing a tortured, barely human entity (that was just stupid), healing that one guy when she could have WAY earlier just cause she thought she might hurt him (he was DYING YOU MORON) and it would break her code, and EVERY SINGLE THING she has done in this and the last chapter is just her being a problem. The “I’m just like my murderer father for healing a dying guy and mercy-killing a BONESAW victim” and the “Tattletale is the source of every problem I have for doing some minor (okay, not minor, but Amy and Glory were pretty much ready to kill everyone) mindfucking and if you are her friend you must be an evil demonic fiend-bitch” just pisses me off. So, so, much.
I didnt understand how Amy was able to stall her bleeding. Was it using the microbes tactic that Skitter had thought of? She cant use her powers on herself right?
Also, do you think Siberian’s inability to affect her creator is due to the Manton effect as described by Faultline to Gregor the Snail?
Hahaha. Damn. Even with no setup whatsoever, the Siberian/Cache “she just broke the fucking Phantom Zone” moment is amazing.
> She shook her head a little, as if she was denying what Tattletale was saying.
As if she were.
>He bumped my hands agan, and I took hold of them.
>It was thinning out, and faint shafts of light were piercing through.We crossed the road behind Siberian
>Or had they plunged through it, burying themselves some distance underground.
A question mark would do better here.
God, Panacea is such a loser.
It looks to me like there’s an absolutely absurd amount of victim-blaming and spite directed at Panacea in the fandom. The poor girl is dealing with more stress and conflicting feelings than anything you’ll ever feel, certainly, and possibly more than any other character in the story, and not everyone is as good at dealing with it as the others. She’s not a loser, or a failure, or a burden. She’s been beaten down emotionally over the course of YEARS by the immense pressure on her to be selfless — to give everything she is to the task of helping people without a moment to herself — and the trauma of the last few months finally broke her; and yeah, basically fucking ruined her life. Give her a damn break.
What is Chariot doing here? Didn’t he opt out of dealing with the Nine? Or was he only mobilized because they saw Sundancer’s sun and thought it was something separate?
“.,,bump my hands. Grue was holding the chains that led to Sirius’s muzzle. He bumped my hands agan, and I took hold of them.” Again is misspelled
“We had a bead on him” – I’m guessing this should be ‘lead’.
First timer here, pausing to point out a typo while I plunge breathlessly through this. So. Intense.
Nope. Bead is the right term.
So when does Battery play a part in making sure two of the Nine are able to leave?
“Or had they plunged through it, burying themselves some distance underground.” Typo there, the end of the sentence should have a question mark. I know that this is a old post, but it sort of bothered me. Sorry. But good story!
No, it’s not a question, no question mark needed.
Am I the only one wondering why Grue doesn’t use Amy’s power to give her new fingers?(Even if he can’t grow them back, he could attach some raw biomass and shape it to fit.)
Taylor, ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID?! How about just getting the venomous bugs inside the car and stinging the creator to death? the car was invulnerable, no untraversable. Seriously, you make her so smart sometimes, and completely blockheaded at the more crucial times.
What in the fuck are you talking about…? Didn’t you see the bit where she’s trying to go inside the car right from the start? She couldn’t, at least before Siberian appeared. And how exactly should a 15 year old know the inner mechanics of a car to know where to put then through and navigate them inside? How many of those wouldn’t kill said bugs, even more. Remember them dying to the heat from Sundancer’s mini-Sun? Siberian’s power ain’t affecting them just because they are touching the car either. So, then what? Lose concentration on what she may think would be a futile task while they Siberian just gets closer to where she can murderize everyone? If she even knew she can access the car from somewhere else.
Theres an “agan” that should be “again”
Reading through some comments, I can understand defense for GG being angry even, or not wanting Amy to fix what happened, but still frustrating to listen to glory girl. As Tattletale put it before, she’s spoiled in a way, her attitude, and as far as themes go in the story, the higher you are in the ivory tower, the more black&white you see morality and consequences. Save for the few people who see things beyond that, while in the same situation. Amy has a near complete Spotless record, going out of her way to fulfill an expectation or self imposed obligation, (and as Skitter put it, she’s still a teenager), goes out of her way to want to leave her home and keep GG from touching her, all to protect those around her. But as a reader, as someone who’s read things from Amy’s perspective, who has most if not all the information available, Amy’s obviously not even close to being a villain, or a bad person. Hopefully no one underestimates Bonesaw’s ability to manipulate Amy’s weaknesses just as the other S9 can manipulate people. Bonesaw understands the fragility of moral boundaries, and mental breaks. Amy of all people would have the most fragile, because she has the most at stake.
You know, if we consider what “protectorate” has meant historically… The name of that particular hero group takes on a certain dark irony to it. It is a more fitting name than any of its members probably realize.
“I couldn’t say what would have happened in the long run. Had they hit the wall or floor of the pit and used Siberian’s power to make it as invulnerable as they were? Or had they plunged through it, burying themselves some distance underground.”