Prey 14.6

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“Wards!”  Weld hollered.  “Crawler and Mannequin, like we discussed!  Close ranks around Victoria!”

His words broke the spell that the scene had over Vista and Flechette.  Surprising that there were so few Wards here, on a level.  Kid Win wasn’t in sight, nor was Chariot, and Clockblocker was under the sway of his own powers. Shadow Stalker, Aegis, Gallant and Browbeat were dead or gone.

The final sorta-maybe member of their group, Glory Girl, was being eaten alive by Crawler’s acid.

Vista and Flechette moved to positions just behind and to either side of Weld.  The group blocked Crawler’s view of Glory Girl.

Miss Militia directed the adult heroes with a series of short commands and hand signals.  Ursa and Assault led the way with Miss Militia, Prism, Battery and Triumph following, clearly aiming to flank Crawler and close the distance between them and Mannequin.

Crawler spat, and Vista used her power, reducing the distance the spit traveled to a tenth of what it might have been.  Crawler leaped, and she widened the distance between him and everyone else so he stood in the midst of a clearing.

Flechette fired a bolt straight into Crawler.  It penetrated his face and stuck there.  Little surprise on that front; I’d seen her stick Leviathan with one of those giant needles.  Crawler’s face bubbled around the wound where it was rejecting the foreign object.  Almost imperceptibly, it began to slide out.

He rumbled with a low, guttural laugh, mocking.  Was he enjoying himself?  He was a masochist, and it was the rare thing that could hurt him.

Miss Militia interrupted his gloating with a shot from a rocket launcher.  His claws dug deep into pavement as he resisted being knocked over.  She used her power to reload the rocket launcher and shot him again, uprooting him.  Triumph used a full-power shout to send Crawler sliding across the clearing Vista had made.  Vista widened the distance by stretching the landscape.

Prism and Battery went after Mannequin.  Prism split into three copies of herself, complete with fireproof suit, closing in as Battery used her power to cross the distance and trade blows.  I was only peripherally aware of Prism, given how she was based in New York, but seeing her in action reminded me of how she operated.

She was a self-duplicator, always producing two other versions of herself, but there were nuances.  So long as one duplicate lived, she would survive whatever happened to the others, but they didn’t last long.  She could also expend them to enhance herself.

It made her an effective partner for Battery.  Both were all about the setup followed by execution.  Prism formed her duplicates and spread them out while Battery attacked, then drew her duplicates back into herself in a flash of light before delivering a crushing strike.

Mannequin was holding his own.  The hits that did land seemed to have little effect, as he went limp and bent with them.  It seemed he was keeping to the old adage of a supple willow bending in a hurricane that topples a sturdy oak.  Even when Battery was moving at super speed, he was quick to take the advantage of a kick that went too high or a sweep aiming to knock his feet out from under him.  He ducked beneath the former and hopped over the latter, then using his grappling-hook hands to haul himself a distance away.

He managed to get close enough to cut down two of Prism’s duplicates, then pointed his hand at her third self, extending a blade from the base of his hand and firing it like a harpoon.  Battery used up her charge and swept it aside before it could strike home and finish off the heroine.

Ursa, Triumph and Assault were getting into the thick of things with Crawler while Miss Militia and Flechette aided them from a distance.  Ursa was creating forcefields in the rough shape of bears, two at a time.  Weld stood, defending the two female members of the Wards.  Glory Girl was looking worse for wear with every passing second.

“Weld!”  I shouted, drawing the beetle as close as I dared with the heat and smoke beneath me.  “What can I do!?”

“More bombs on Mannequin!”  He shouted.

“I’m out!”  I replied.

“Then get out of here!  You’ll be one less person we have to protect!  Our front line’s pretty thin!”

Weld half-turned to glance back at Glory Girl, and I could see his expression change as he saw how bad she was.  It was reaching the point that we might have to leave her for dead. There were spots where the muscle had necrotized enough that I could make out her internal organs.  If the redness was any indication, the acid was extending to her vitals.

“Evac Victoria and Cache on your way out!”

Evac.  The last time I’d had a scale to check, months ago, I’d weighed a hundred and eighteen pounds.  With my gear, my costume, maybe that added up to one hundred and twenty.  I had my doubts the beetle could manage me if I was even ten pounds heavier.  How could I carry someone larger than me, in addition to myself?

Maybe I didn’t have to.

Had to think out of the box.  If I could get her out of here, and if the beetle could manage her, I could remotely pilot it to Amy.  Those were two pretty huge ifs.  No, couldn’t pin my hopes on that.

I saw Cache using his power on himself.  He was barely able to crawl, but he surrounded himself in his dark geometry, disappearing as it condensed down to a point.  He’d taken himself out of this dimension.  I wasn’t sure if it was a journey of no return or a way to get some respite.

But his use of his power gave me another idea.  Glory Girl had powers too.

“Can she fly!?”  I shouted.

“What?”  Weld asked.  He glanced up at me, then turned his attention back to the fight.  His body was tensed and ready to act the second Crawler made a move for his teammates.

“Ask her if she can fly!”

“She’s insensate!”


He turned back to the superheroine and said something I couldn’t make out.

If she responded, I didn’t hear it.

Weld extended his arms into two long poles.  They extended ten feet, then fifteen, then thirty.  Reaching back, he caught Glory Girl with the ends, bending the tips to encircle her body.

“Wait!” I said.

He glanced up at me, then over at Crawler.  The villain was spitting at Assault, who slid on the ground to evade the spray.  Crawler took advantage of the gap in the defensive wall to stampede toward Vista and Flechette.  Vista increased the distance, but not as fast as Crawler crossed it.

Under pressure, choosing the protection of his teammates as his top priority, Weld ignored my plea for a moment to think.  He twisted his entire body to haul Glory Girl into the air, throwing her at me like a catapult might throw a boulder.

I changed my orientation so I’d be ready to catch her.  Rather than try to wrap my arms around her, I moved so we were racing alongside her as she arced through the air.  It gave me only a second or two to make the call about grabbing her.  I didn’t want to get that acid on me.

I grabbed at the two things that seemed safe – the intact portion of her lower costume and her hair.  I pulled back, hauling on both, but the beetle wasn’t able to offer the necessary lift.

She was insensate with pain, and she struggled at what I was doing to her.  I momentarily wondered if she’d hit me or the beetle with one of those punches that could crush stone. Worse, if she grabbed me and I couldn’t break away, I’d plummet to the ground with her.

“Fly!” I screamed the word.  “Lift up, Glory Girl!”

Her face was melting on one side, her eyes a ruin, her ear and the surrounding area of her head a bloody mess.  I wondered if she could even hear me.

I was getting dragged down.  How long before I had to make the call about letting go?  It would mean letting her fall back into the burning city street.  Maybe her forcefield would protect her, but the acid would continue to eat into her, until it got at something especially vital.  She would die, slowly and painfully.  Burning to death would almost be a mercy.

“Rise!  Fly!”  I shouted.

She began to lift up.  I took the opportunity to let go of her hair, grabbing at the one hand that wasn’t covered in acid.  I pulled on her hand, and she followed my lead.

We moved as fast as my beetle was able.  I knew she could fly faster, would have compelled her to even push me and the beetle forward if I thought I could have handled the navigation.  As a group, we passed over a red scaled wingless dragon that I took to be Genesis, wading through the flames on her way to the site of the battle.

My beetle needed a name.  Had to have a better way of referring to it.  A hercules beetle, but bigger, a giant.  I thought about Hercules, about the myth; Hercules had borrowed the burden of the giant who carried the world.  Atlas.

“Come on, Atlas,” I urged him, “Faster.”

Dumb to talk to him, when I knew for an absolute fact that he couldn’t understand me.  Maybe I was talking to myself.

We found my teammates still clearing a path through the edge of the area.  They were all walking, the dogs in a formation around them, Bitch holding up the distant rear with Bastard.

I landed.  Glory Girl didn’t have the strength to stand, and collapsed like a rag doll.

“Holy shit!”  Regent said, as he saw the extent of the damage.

Amy went white as a sheet.

“Heal her!  Just don’t touch the spots where the acid hit her!”

“I don’t know- what happened?”

“Crawler spit on her, then knocked out her forcefield.  Move!  Fix your sister!

She staggered forward and reached out toward Victoria.

“No,” Victoria mumbled.

“You’re dying,” Grue spoke.

“No,” Victoria repeated herself.  “Not-”

She coughed sharply and mumbled in the same breath, and didn’t bother trying to correct herself.

“Do it anyways,” Tattletale said.

Victoria swung with her good hand, slamming it into the sidewalk.  Cracks spiderwebbed out from the impact site.  She coughed.  “No.”

“If she hits me, she’ll kill me,” Amy said.

“Okay,” Tattletale said.  “If she doesn’t want help, you shouldn’t give it.”

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

“Doesn’t matter,” Tattletale said.

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

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

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

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

“It was an accident,” Amy said.

“How do you do that by accident?”  Imp asked.

“Enough,” Tattletale cut in.  “Victoria, listen, I’m going to pour some sterile water over you, and hopefully it’ll flush some of the acid away, okay?  I don’t know what else we can do for you.  I know you can’t see, so don’t be surprised when it happens.”

Victoria turned her head slightly, but she didn’t respond.

“Okay,” Tattletale said.  She didn’t have water in her hand.  Instead, she grabbed Amy and shoved her in Glory Girl’s direction.  Amy looked at her, scandalized and horrified, but Tattletale only mouthed the word ‘go’.

Amy knelt by her sister and touched her hand.  Glory Girl’s back arched as if she’d been electrocuted, and then she went limp.  Paralyzed, unable to resist.

“I’m sorry,” Amy said.  “So, so sorry.  Oh god, this is bad.”

None of the rest of us spoke.

“I can’t- can’t figure out what this venom is.  I can’t touch it to see if it’s organic, um, I can only see what it’s doing.  At least part of it is enzymes.  It’s denaturing proteins in her cells and using the byproducts to build more enzymes, and it’s breaking down lipids as a side effect, shit.  Oh god, and there’s more to it.  The fluid the enzymes are swimming in is some kind of acid.”

“Can you fix her?”  Tattletale asked.

“So much to do,” Amy mumbled, “Have to counter the acid with some kind of physiological byproduct, have to stop the enzymes from liquefying her entire body, and repair the damage.  Trying to make some kind of firebreak to stop the spread of the venom, withdraw the proteins the venom is using to propagate itself.  There isn’t enough tissue in her body for everything I need to do to fix her.”

“Fixing her body and healing all the damage can come later,” Tattletale said, as if she were reassuring Amy.  “For now, keep her alive and fix what you did to her head.”

“I have enough to manage without worrying about that.”  There was a note of desperation in Amy’s voice.

“It’s as much a priority as anything else.  I said it before, if you don’t do it now-”

“Shut up,” Amy snapped.  “I need to focus.”

We watched her work.  The dissolving began to slow, then fix.  The wounds weren’t closing, but the necrotized edges of the ruined flesh was turning from black to crimson.

“You going to go back?”  Tattletale asked me.

I shook my head and glanced over to where the clouds was glowing orange with the reflected flames.  “Nothing I could do.  Too much fire, it cancels out my power, and it’s dangerous for Atlas.”

“Atlas.  I like that.”

I shrugged.

I turned to Amy.  “Do you want me to bring bugs?  Maggots eat only dead flesh, which might be helpful if-”

“No.  I can handle that.”

“Or I could get some of the more useless bugs, like the ones you used to make Atlas, for raw material.”

Amy turned to give me an incredulous look.

“You said you didn’t have enough tissue to patch everything together.  If you wanted to put together a placeholder…”  I trailed off.

“Nice,” Regent said.  “She could be a human-spider hybrid.  Add some insult to injury with the mindrape thing.”

I could see Amy tense.

“That’s not what I’m saying,” I told him.  “Amy was saying the enzymes were dissolving proteins and other stuff.  The bugs would be a source of protein, vitamins, carbs…”

“I’m a little surprised you know that,” Grue commented.  He didn’t take his eyes off of Amy and Glory Girl.

“My power tells me some of it,” I said, “And I did some reading after we took over our territories, trying to research that stuff.  It was an idle thought, but I was thinking that if we got into a food shortage, I could feed my people with bugs.”

Imp made a gagging noise.

“Wow,” Regent said.  “See, you just started off by making me think you were warped and creepy because you were suggesting Panacea turn Glory Girl into some sort of bug-borg, and now you’re making me think you’re creepy and weird because you wanted to feed bugs to people who aren’t your enemy.”

“It was just an idea,” I said, maybe more defensively than I should have, “And bugs are nutritious.  People all over the world eat them.”

“Have you?” Grue asked.

I shook my head, “But I would have tried them first, if I decided to go ahead with that plan.”

“Please,” Amy cut in.  “Can you?”

I turned to her.  It took me a second to realize what she meant, after the line of questioning from the others.

“Yeah, of course,” I told her.  I began calling a swarm to me.  I’d already exhausted the surrounding area of most, and the ones I hadn’t already called forth were buried in the deepest recesses and most awkward areas, where it was so inefficient and time-consuming to bring them to me that I’d left them where they were.

It took some time to bring them to the area.

“How was the battle going?”  Grue asked.

“The heroes seemed to be managing, but I don’t know how things are going to turn out,” I said.  I looked at Shatterbird, who floated above us.  “We could use her help.”

“Don’t trust myself to control her if she’s too far away,” Regent spoke.

I made a face.  “Right.  But she could carry you?”

“She almost dropped me once before.  It’s pretty hard to hold on to someone, especially without the leverage you have when you’re on the ground.

The first bugs were arriving in front of Amy.  She began dissolving them into their constituent parts and pressing them into Glory Girl’s abdomen.  When she raised her hand, they were gone.  She held her hand out for more to gather while keeping one hand on Glory Girl.

Minutes passed before Amy stood and wiped her bloody hands on her pants.  “Done as much as I can.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She hugged her arms against her body.  There were tears in her eyes.

“You need to fix her mind now.  For you, not for her.  Maybe she’ll forgive you at a later date, when she’s thinking clearly again,” Tattletale said.  “Maybe then she can approach you, you two can start interacting again, you rebuild that trust over months or years, and you can finish healing her body when she gives you her permission.”

“Or I can fix her now, undo what I did and then walk away forever, because I don’t deserve forgiveness and she shouldn’t have to live like this because- because a wrong I committed fucked with her focus or made her too aggressive or-”

“It wasn’t like that,” I said.  “She didn’t have time to react.  I was watching.  These injuries Crawler inflicted were not your fault.”

“Doesn’t matter.  She would have reacted sooner if she’d been getting enough sleep, if her emotions weren’t off kilter.”

“Amy-” I started.

She shook her head so violently that I stopped mid-sentence.  “I can almost feel right about this.  I patch things up, and then I go.”

Amy bent down and touched her sister.  Glory Girl stirred and sat up.  With Amy’s help she stood.

“You’re lying to yourself,” Tattletale said.  “And you’re making things worse.”

“Just- I’m just keeping her complacent.  I’m okay with it if she doesn’t forgive me for it.  Don’t deserve it anyways.  I do this, and then I’ll go somewhere I can be useful.  Only reason I haven’t made more of myself and my power is because of the rules and regulations about exploiting minors with powers.  Either go into government or don’t work at all, and didn’t want to go into government because they would have made me a weapon.  And because I needed to be with my family.”

She smiled, but it wasn’t a happy expression.  “Burned that bridge.  But I’m sixteen now, I can get a job somewhere, start making a real difference with my power.”

“And the last thing you’ll do for your family is this?  Hypnotizing your sister when she’s already mad at you for assaulting her and fucking with her head?”  Tattletale asked.

“The last thing I’m going to do is fix her.”

“A means to an end.”  I stepped forward a little. “Trust me when I say I’ve been down that road.  I don’t recommend it.”

“You don’t understand.”

“Wasn’t it only a little while ago that you admitted you couldn’t figure out what you needed to do to put things right?  You asked me to make the call.”

“Because you had the experience in making calls on morality in dangerous situations, situations where I can’t even think straight,” Amy said.  Her voice hardened a little, “But I have the impression that you don’t have that same expertise when it comes to family.”

I thought of my dad, and it sat heavily enough in my mind’s eye that I couldn’t formulate a response.

Grue formulated one for me.  “You’re one to talk.”

“I’m trying to fix this!”  Amy raised her voice.  “Why are you making this a thing?  Why do you even care?”

Tattletale shrugged.  “I talked about it with Grue, Bitch and Regent.  We were considering offering you a place on the team.”

I looked at Tattletale in surprise.  I glanced at Bitch.  Even her?

Amy scowled, “As if.  You’re such hypocrites.  Regent mind controls people all the time!”

“Regent mind controls the monsters, the bad guys,” I said.

“Taking advantage of bad people for selfish ends.”

“What you’re doing is selfish,” Tattletale cut in.  “You think you’re doing it for her, but you’re only doing it to soothe your own guilt.”

“No,” Amy said, as if that was that.

She glanced at me.  “Thank you for bringing her to me so I could help her.  Um.  I don’t want it to be a nasty surprise, so you should know I didn’t give the bugs I designed any proper digestive systems.  They’ll starve to death before the week’s over, but the Nine will be gone by then.  If they aren’t, we’re all fucked anyways, aren’t we?”

I looked down at Atlas, then back to her.  I clenched my fists.  “I’m using them to help people.”

“For now, sure.  In the future?  I couldn’t be sure.  So I put a time limit on them.  Let’s go, Victoria.”

“Hey!”  I shouted.  My swarm stirred around me as the pair turned to walk away.

“No,” Tattletale said, putting a hand on my shoulder.

“But she-”

“She’s not thinking straight.  We’ve all been there.  You don’t want to start a fight.  We’ve got other enemies to focus on without making more.”

I was pissed off enough that I wanted to hit someone.  I couldn’t even articulate the entirety of why I was so angry.  I’d gone out of my way to be nice to her, to empathize, to save her sister, and save both of their lives.  And this was how she repaid me?  A slap in the face, a final gesture to make her distrust for me as blatant as possible?

“I could try,” Grue said, “I’ve seen her power, but I don’t get the full picture, I might kill it.  Or fuck it up somehow.”

“Please,” I said.

He raised one hand and created a wave of darkness.  It passed over the two girls.

I brought Atlas to Grue, and he laid one hand on the shell.  I could feel shifting in Atlas’ mandibles, head, thorax and abdomen.

The shifting stopped the same instant I saw Glory Girl spear straight out of the top of the cloud of darkness, flying high with Amy in her arms.

“Did you finish?”  I asked.

“Couldn’t say,” he sighed.

I searched Atlas with my power, trying to get a feel for his physiology.  As with all the other instances, everything about him was invisible if I wasn’t looking specifically for it, a black hole in the database of knowledge my power provided.  He was created, and there was no genetic blueprint that my power could decrypt and analyze to figure out what part served a given function.

When I reached the area Grue had affected, I found it even darker, untouchable.  The nervous system wasn’t something my power could interface with.

“I had to model it off of something, and I get the feeling I don’t have the same innate knowledge that Panacea does,” Grue told me.  “The only thing I have any knowledge about is myself.  I don’t know if it’s going to work, but he has a human digestive system.  Or something close to it, that worked with his body.  Near as I can figure, everything connects to what it’s supposed to.”

“Thank you,” I said.  “Really.”

Tattletale was still watching Glory Girl and Amy disappear.  She glanced down at Atlas, “You’ll have to figure out a diet that gives him every nutrient he needs, and pay a hell of a lot of attention to him.  If you give him something his body can’t process, it could poison him like that.”  She snapped her fingers.

I nodded.  It was still better than nothing.

Sundancer was still clearing a path.  I climbed on top of Atlas and rose above the ground, swaying a little in midair as I tried to control his flight enough to hover.

“Go,” Grue said.


“Scout, search.  Check on the fight.  You’re restless.”

“Don’t like how that thing with Panacea ended.”

Grue shook his head, “Me either, but we should focus on what we can do in the here and now.”

“And I’m restless because I’m frustrated.  There’s nothing for me to do here.  I can’t handle the fire, can’t do anything if I’m with you guys.”

“Search for Jack and Bonesaw so we can put them down,” Regent said.

I shook my head.  “They disappeared.  Literally.  I’m not sure if they’re dead or if they found a hiding spot.”

“That’s something we can work on,” Tattletale said.  “Siberian was heading to a destination, right?  Heading southeast?”


“Did you see what direction Jack and Bonesaw were headed?”

I nodded.  “Northeast from a point a few blocks that way.”  I pointed.

“Then I think I know where they went.  It’s quite obvious when you think about it.  A place they could have researched in advance, unoccupied by anyone of consequence, capable of withstanding hits from virtually anything, supplied with food and water…”

Obvious?  Maybe only to Tattletale.  Still, with her hints, I could follow her line of thought to its conclusion.

“The emergency shelters for Endbringer attacks,”  I finished for her.

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154 thoughts on “Prey 14.6

    • took the words straight out of my head! But i guess that’s the good thing with this novel … the characters with some of the weakest powers can be so sharply minded they can use everything they have to their advantage. And then you have some of the most powerfully powered characters with perhaps only a spit worth of braincells and no ability to use them. I felt some pity for panacea and it has reduced in this chapter.

      • Actually, Panacea is right. In severe shock with no fat reserves, Glory Girl very likely would not recover on her own or with conventional medical treatment. And since Glory stubbornly won’t accept help from Panacea, she has no choice but to keep her in the mind control state to heal her. It’s easy for Tattletale to say, just leave her, but it’s not her beloved sister who’s close to death.

        Of course, we wonder if Panacea will ever let Glory Girl out of her mind control, but for now, her course of action is reasonable.

        • definitely definitely not reasonable. there is absolutely no decent reason for panacea to not fix the fake love she implanted in glory girl. it’s not helping her maintain control. she is not right, she is insane, selfish, and still just wants to manipulate her sister into loving her.

          ths is different than whether she’s right to keep her in a coma and heal her. that might be fine. but that is not what she’s doing.

          sorry for the necro, i’ve been doing it all week.

    • I can’t figure out whether I like her or dislike her. She is so screwed up it almost curves right back around to being funny. I am starting to see why Bonesaw and Cherish thought she’d make a good addition to the Nine. The girl just needs a hard shove in one direction or the other and she either tumbles down the slippery slope head first or starts climbing back up the cliff she just took a flying leap off of.

      I don’t see why she couldn’t just compromise and fix the mental thing while then keeping GG docile through the night until she could fix the rest of her body. But that would require her to actually think instead of react and panic which seems to be Amy’s default setting.

      • Exactly. Amy is like a “fallen” extremist Christian. One of those that realize that if what they have thought all their lives about God providing moral guidance is wrong…. There are no rules! Nothing. And life is a free for all. It is so very very sad.

  1. Unoccupied by anyone of consequence, eh? Hrm, so many ways to take that! And now I’m picturing Atlas with a human mouth, and a goofy human grin in a big bug face. He’ll be able to scare criminals to death by googly-eyeing them!

    So for Panacea does there need to be ‘life’ to make her power activate, or just organic material? I’m reminded of Alan Moore’s Dr. Manhattan, and his “I think I’ll go, and maybe create some life of my own” thing. Of course, there’s nowhere on Earth you can go without life, really- and if you can get there then you’re bringing life there.

    Amy is absolutely turning into Bonesaw only scarier. I’d not… well, I suppose you never did specify that Guts and Glory was actually a HERO team… As for the rest of the group… stay classy, Regent!

    Couple small things-
    “Flechette. Surprising” Extra space there.
    “Miss Militia directed the adult heroes.” This is probably gonna sound ridiculously pedantic but I’m curious how she’s doing it.
    “The hits that did” and “bent with the hits” maybe change the second ‘hits’ to ‘them’ or something?
    It just reads odd to say it twice in the sentence that way. Not really ‘wrong’ but odd.
    “bridge. But” Extra space.

  2. It’s okay, Taylor, you’re not warped or creepy or weird, just misunderstood.
    That, or I’M creepy, ’cause I had the same thought.

      • This made me laugh quite loudly, I’m glad I don’t have anyone to explain the joke to.

        Though I am very curious what the reaction would have been if Taylor went ahead and said that she snacked on bugs occasionally.

        “It’s really convenient, I can just walk them right into my mouth.”


        Though it’s more likely she would use bugs to make herself food then for her to eat the bugs themselves.

    • She ain’t no delinquent, she’s just misunderstood!
      Deep down inside her there is good!
      (There is good, there is good,
      There is untapped good!
      Like inside, the worst of us is good!)

  3. I hope that the shelter has only one entrance.
    Panacea is really geting crazy.
    This black and white way of seeing the world that she has is geting tiresome.
    And, let’s state the obvious. She still wants Glory girl to love her and is deceiving herself to avoid fixing her because of this warped desire.

  4. And a thank you goes to wildbow for the excelent work.
    Sorry for not giving more, exchange rate plus taxes make me spend about the double of what you get.

  5. I must admit to being a little confused there. I really didn’t expect Glory Girl to want to carry Panacea out of there, at least unless Panacea did something else to her mind…

    But I think I get a little bit of what she meant. Fix the situation physically as much as she can so that Glory Girl can at least look ok enough, then go crawl off somewhere because she figures she won’t be able to get close to undo the other damage she did (or is deluded enough to not want to do it) but still thinks of herself as low enough to die or be someone of no consequence.

    In this case, it is the cheap way out of the options. And it’s at this point that we begin to see a shift to where Glory Girl can now be justified in some of her reaction. Also, I think I ran down Amy quite some time ago about not being all that heroic. Congratulations, Amy! I can spew scientific nonsense from any orifice in my body, but the thing I get to be right about, aside from Siberian being a projection, is that you are an assclown!

    See, this is why it’s so easy to be a supervillain. When you’re idealistic enough to want heroes that are, ya know, heroic, then it’s pretty easy to turn your back on them when they prove themselves to be assholes that just happen to be on the right side of the law. And any good heroes are corrupted by this system, having to lie and cover for such heroes that almost kill people when it is unnecessary just so that the lawful forces actually appear good.

    Yes, that is why Tattletale is the most dangerous of all. She sees in the dark that obscures the view of the heroes by the little people.

    You know, sometimes I wish I was on something so I could actually explain how I pull out some of this stuff.

    • I must admit to being a little confused there. I really didn’t expect Glory Girl to want to carry Panacea out of there, at least unless Panacea did something else to her mind…

      I quote:

      Amy: “Just- I’m just keeping her complacent. I’m okay with it if she doesn’t forgive me for it. Don’t deserve it anyways.”

        • I feel I should chime in and say that I was also confused as to what the hell was going on at first. It might help to make it clearer that Panacea is doping (more or less) Glory Girl to keep her compliant, right now it’s a little unclear, especially since everyone is talking about fixing her.

          • If she can make her compliant and still manage to get her to fly, who knows what else she can make Glory Girl do. At least the original enlovening was accidental. Now she’s straight up using her powers to control her sister.

        • Oh yes. Yesterday I was lucky enough to recognize I had completely misread the post I was replying to on two separate occasions. God knows how many I’ve missed and looked like a total buffoon. Or just been unfunny.
          Actually, since I’m on a reread I’m getting steadily closer to the point I started commenting on my first read, so I might be about to find out.

      • I read that passage as meaning that Amy knocked out Glory Girl, so she would stop fighting or resisting, but not that she was doing more active mind control. It was confusing to me — I couldn’t figure out what the rest of them were arguing over:

        > “You need to fix her mind now. For you, not for her. Maybe she’ll forgive you at a later date, when she’s thinking clearly again,” Tattletale said. “Maybe then she can approach you, you two can start interacting again, you rebuild that trust over months or years, and you can finish healing her body when she gives you her permission.”

        >“Or I can fix her now, undo what I did and then walk away forever, because I don’t deserve forgiveness and she shouldn’t have to live like this because- because a wrong I committed fucked with her focus or made her too aggressive or-”

        They are both talking about fixing her now. The difference between their stances on fixing wasn’t clear to me — it sounds more like they are arguing about whether Amy can be forgiven, and maybe the order of what gets fixed when — but the emphasis in the text was on the fixing and on “now”.

        I found the disagreement in this chapter to be very confusing. And exactly what Amy had done to GG’s mind this time wasn’t clear either.

        • I found it a bit confusing too, it took me a second reading of the argument to understand it, but at that point it was reasonably clear.

    • Yeah I totally was supporting Amy before this chapter and saying that Victoria was overreacting, tossing her sister to a fate worse than death by abandoning her to the Nine, etc. Now though I can see a bit of justification for her reaction. I still say she was completely in the wrong earlier but now she has legitimate reason to pretty much never speak to Amy again assuming both survive the coming night.

    • “I can spew scientific nonsense from any orifice in my body”!

      Ah, I’d been wondering what Psycho Gecko’s power was.

  6. Oo… Amy is rapidly becoming worse and worse. How long until she decides she should erase Glory Girl’s memory to save her from all this emotional pain of knowing what she’s done while “accidentally” also allowing for a reset button to before she learned she was mindraped?

  7. I’m torn. On the one hand, like the others, my sympathy for Panacea is, once again, rapidly waning.

    On the other hand, her actions and her thoughts are rational (or perhaps irrational, I mean rational to mean that they follow the line of events before, even if those aren’t rational) and so this, in many ways, is what one should expect considering her past (not just her backstory, but all she’s done and been up until now.)

    On the gripping hand, I too am tired of this self-righteous crud spewing forth from her mouth. Skitter’s right: she went out of her way to be good, she’s probably saved hundreds upon hundreds of lives, fed the starving, healed the sick and (though she’s certainly not perfect) perhaps she’ll find out how to use bugs to walk on water next week 🙂

    And yet, for all of that…I understand, but it frustrates me as a reader JUST as much as it frustrates Skitter. And since none of it is real, the fact that I, as a reader, am that invested is a good thing.

  8. So, next time we see Amy and Victoria will they be in the form of Panacea riding around inside living armor made out of Glory Girl? Quite literally Guts and Glory, then…

  9. Atlas is cool. I just hope that Skitter doesn’t become too dependent on it, since she has no really way to replace him if he gets broken and it doesn’t look like Amy will make her a new one anytime soon.

    I think what Skitter really needs is a big bug that she can wear like an armored backpack and use to fly instead of having to ride it, but she won’t be able to get Panacea to make her one now…

    The thinking about eating bugs thing gives another hint of Taylor loosing her squeamishness. And her willingness to research to use her powers most effectively seems to set her apart from many non-tinker parahumans. If she continues along these lines she might go far.

    I wonder how the heroes feel about Skitter simply letting their teammate go with Panacea like this? They will probably blame her for everything that Amy does to her sister that they don’t approve of.

    • Here in Brasil some people eat ants. Not all kinds of ants but a kind nicknamed “cabeçuda” (big head). They say that the secret is to cook then over a fire until they get crunchy and than mixing it with floor made of a native plant (this floor I also eat).
      High protein content but somehow I never eat it, partially because to get enough ants to feed you it is necessary to live close to a big forest and I never did.
      But even lizard, that used to be a common dish around here, I never ate.
      Alligator tastes like a mix between chicken and fish. I ate once without knowing what it was (the cook told me after I had eaten).
      People like to eat armadillos, I also ate once and also deceived and hated the flavor and the concept of killing this animal to eat.

          • Depends on the shark, the small species that I am used to eat are quite tasty and have bones, not that thin and sharp spine of most fish.

            Believe me, it is a lot esasier to eat shark, you do not have to worry about a spine geting stuck inside your throat.
            Octopus is also very good.

      • Lots of places eat animals. Even around here in Florida, saw a candy store once that sold lollipops with scorpions and some sort of worms in them. I think there was something with crickets too. As you say, they’re high in protein.

        Of course, this section of Florida is also notorious for eating a type of fish called mullet that most people consider a junk fish. The South in general is known for a certain culinary flavor that can seem odd to people from elsewhere, like grits and chicken-fried chicken (not to be confused with fried chicken). And, of course, around Louisiana you get all kinds of odd things that are likely to crawl out of the pot if you aren’t watching. Don’t forget head cheese is popular in some parts of the country. Some places like cow tongues, some people prefer pickled pig’s feet, others chow down on bull balls.

        I even hear there are some parts of the world (nay, possibly most of the world!) that takes their team warm and without sugar in it! The horror!

  10. Great chapter Wildbow, can’t wait to see what happens next. Though if Bonesaw and Jack are in a shelter, I would think they’re trapped, if someone can find which one they’re in, then well…buh bye Bonesaw and Jack.

    Then again, more horribly, they could be heading to Coils HQ. Is it too far away for them to sneak there. IF there I wonder if Jack can cut through all the doors Coil has placed there…..not to mention Cherish could escape if Jack and Bonesaw are there, in which case I don’t think Coils power could save him because I’m 99% sure either way they would go for him. This, of course, is based solely on if they are heading to Coils HQ.

    BTW I’m wondering, could Amy help Taylor have a second ‘Trigger Event’? If so I oddly enough see her becoming more ‘monstrous’. Like perhaps she grows venomous fangs, her hair turns into antennae, maybe grows some extra compound eyes. Oh and arms, about six more arms. >:D

    • I figure the most likely gain for Taylor from another trigger would be either the ability to make and alter bugs that aren’t physically possible (lightning bugs, bugs that are capable of taking a huge amount of pressure etc) likely with a limit like only being able to have one big power per bug at a time for balances sake.

      Or the ability to turn into bugs. Partial body transformation and whole body transformation.

      Or both. I like both. Not least since if she could only make paranatural bugs from her own body it would add some more balance and an element of gabbling if they were used to attack.

      In any case it so far seems that only the Case 53s have major physical alterations. Though I would definitely think that another Trigger event for Taylor would involve a hefty chance of insanity or mental alterations.

      • I don’t believe we have any reason to believe that Narwhal is a Case 53, and she’s 7 feet tall and has a giant horn growing out of her head. Lung has MAJOR physical alterations, but they aren’t permanent. We also have no reason to think Crawler is a 53. It seems possible that there are exceptions to the “only Case 53s get physical alterations” rule, especially when the alterations are the result of a power rather than a side-effect.

        Swarm form would certainly be a logical outgrowth of Taylor’s current powers and the way she uses them, but look at what Grue got with his “upgrade.” There’s no thematic or logical link between creating darkness and stealing powers, so we have no reason to expect a secondary trigger event to grant related powers. She might wind up with super strength or laser vision, for all we know.

        My guess is that secondary powers are related to the event that triggers them, just like primary powers. Grue needed a way to put himself back together, free himself, save his friends, and so on, and there happened to be people around that he could steal all the necessary powers from, so the mysterious extra-dimensional entity gave him the ability to steal powers. It tied the power stealing into his existing darkness powers, so I figure the entity or the person’s unconscious mind makes an attempt to integrate the new powers into the existing powerset.

        Given the prevailing theory that secondary trigger events require similar circumstances to whatever caused the primary event, Taylor’s would require a situation of extraordinary helplessness. There are all manner of ways this could manifest and all manner of powers that could arise as a consequence. Being puppeted around by Regent? Develop some kind of telepathy to make him stop.
        Being crushed to death by water pressure? Get real tough. The telepathy might operate through her distributed swarm consciousness, and the toughness might come in the form or a carapace or exoskeleton, but they aren’t an actual outgrowth of her powers.

        (The Regent thing wouldn’t actually work, in retrospect. He only controls bodies, so she could use her swarm just fine to attack him enough to break his concentration. He’d have to keep her far enough away to stay out of her range, which would be a problem for him as well.)

        • What if I told you there was a link between his old power and new? See the discussion regarding the last member of the Wards during the bank robbery preparations (3.3? Not sure), Taylor’s fight with Velocity in Grue’s darkness during the Tangle arc, the confrontation at the end of Sentinel 9.6. I’m not sure if it made it into the first version or the second, but there’s also the interaction between his power and fog’s.

        • While I see what you mean I would also say that Grue’s power is not all that out of the blue. We already knew that his power interacted directly with other powers, all he really gained was increased detail and the copying function.

          As to an example of supreme helplessness, I go with being maimed and then buried alive in an unpleasant container. Taylor gets buried, is going insane with the trauma (as happened with that locker) and needs a way to pierce the container (special bugs) and get herself out (able to transform into bugs) resulting in those powers. Plus temporary/not so temporary insanity.

    • My guess is that if/when Taylor goes through the second trigger event, it would be her mental powers pushed to the next level – currently she can kinda see through the bugs and split her attention in a myriad ways. I am talking the more bugs the smarter she becomes (via transferring her self into the swarm) and reading books / using computers / watching TV / Talking to people, all in parallel and via bug swarms / bodies.

      It would make her harder to write though, as she would become very trans/post/non- human due to this.

    • I believe that the next step for Taylor would be either to control other creatures (like lizards, for instance) or to be able to alter the bugs that she controls.

      • If Taylor and Panacea ever actually team up, they could start placing bug brains in animal bodies. Or if they want to get really creepy, bug brains inside dead human bodies. Just imagine what things would be like now if Taylor joined up with Panacea after she saw Shadow Stalkers face.

        tl;dr An Amy + Taylor combo where they actually work together is super overpowered.

        • I’m pretty sure that if Panacea build a bug brain that was complex enough to control the body of a higher-order animal, it would be complex enough that Taylor couldn’t control it. There might be a workaround, but I doubt the results would be optimal. She controls only very simple nervous systems, or at least that’s her theory.

          • @Asmora Maybe Amy could turn people into biological mecha? You could sit a number of beetles or something in there piloting it.

            Also: Ew. -_-

          • I know, that really got out of hand. I mean, Brick killed a guy. There was a man riding a horse, someone was on fire, and he killed a guy with a trident.

          • My favorite idea for a Amy/Skitter teamup creature would probably be a super-sized tardigrade. Tiny brain so she can control it, but functionally immortal. Fire, drowning, cut in half, radiation, vacuum… tardigrade just lolnopes (sorry, my 4chan is showing).

            Someone did mention lizards, though… crabs have tiny brains, but are surprisingly sophisticated. They can learn and remember where predators are, for example. What else can she control?

          • I think that as long as it doesn’t have a spine but does have a simple brain she can control it. Well that and be a creepy crawly. So maybe squid and snails?

    • Cherish isn’t at Coil’s HQ. She’s chained up, floating in buoy in the middle of the bay, far from anyone she could control. (Hopefully.)

      Speaking of which, I’m not entirely clear on how Lisa called her to ask about Siberian. I think that was one of those details that just got kind of glossed over with the “Coil’s people handle the logistics” brush.

      Regardless, yes, it would rather suck for Jack and Bonesaw to break into Coil’s HQ. Noelle is there, and I definitely wouldn’t put it past the two of them to break into that vault.

      • Oh my mistake. I forgot about that. If I was Coil I would’ve killed the idiot. Though (I think) Noell has the ability to be like a black hole of sorts, since she’s always hungry and stuff. If Crawler could adapt to a black hole then he’d be unstoppable even to Jack I suspect.

  11. I may be wrong here but wasn’t Skitter supposed to evac Cache as well? I thought when he went into the pocket dimension he was following Skitter somehow, and then Amy flew off with her new mind-controlled toy without healing him. He’s probably going to die, because Mannequin, Bonesaw, and Panacea are the only people with medical powers that we know of and all three may soon be dead or out of town.

    • As far as Skitter is aware, Cache disappeared and was inaccessible, having escaped on his own. He didn’t reappear, so she didn’t have the ability to help him.

    • Othala seems to have healing abilities too.Healing abilities inferior to Panacea’s,and she is in Hookwolf’s team,so she’d likely not help,but she is in Brookton Bay too,so that’s that.

      • It’s not so much healing as regeneration which is different. Panacea is pretty much the only true straight up healer per se. And even then it’s more of a side effect of her ability rather than the focus. But yeah it seems that even low grade regen is rare also.

  12. Hey, a few weeks ago I discovered this great story you have here and long story short, you got a new fan now.

    Keep up the great work!

  13. I have no empathy for Panacea and Glory Girl. None. I feel more for Armsmaster than I do either of them.

    What exactly does Ursa Major do? Throw projections of bears at people, and she faded out to avoid the blast…

    I myself got Worm recced from a Frenchman friend of mine, but he hangs out on spacebattles, so that’s probably how that happened.

    • If bear projection is Ursa’s power. Then I like her already.

      Yeah. Even Armsmaster is really seeming more of a hero than the Dallon jerks right now, a Byronic one sure. But atleast a hero, he regrets his jackassery at least.

      I guess the Depleted Uranium skull is an upbringing trait of the Dallons instead of a genetic one

    • I’ve kept up with the news, though I hadn’t seen that particular article. They generally all say the same things, except the one asshole who argued it should just die because Free To Play is somehow a loser strategy. The guy then went on to say World of Warcraft wasn’t FTP and yada yada about why it’s so much more successful, so should give you an idea of the quality of mind behind the article. Poor writer, his brain was grinded out.

      Gah, the lag alone would have fried my computer at that gathering, but then Atlas Park always has more superheroes in it than anywhere else. It’d be tough to get the same kind of iconic image over at Mercy Island, unless maybe it was the entirety of Fort Darwin occupied by supervillains.

      Very fitting, though, that the statue of Atlas, while not seen entirely, is still prominently shown. You know, that whole “Holding the world on their shoulders” thing in people trying to save it all. As for me, I have hope but not much confidence. And they don’t mean the mythological Atlas either, who was cursed to do it because he was on the losing side of the war. In game, there was a superhero Atlas who either was giant or could grow to be giant who died saving the world, so the image is much more heroic in nature.

      And NCSoft…I am not amused!

      Well, hey, if you play an MMO, you want to be amused. Shutting it down does not amuse me. At least, somewhere, we’ll still have the adventures of Stan and Lou, and those old videos of “I’m a Hero and I’m a Villain” from when the Mac version came out:

      • Aww, I thought with a title like that that the video would be a parody of one of those Mormon ads. Y’know, “I’m an artist…and a Mormon” becomes “I’m a hero…and a villain” as if it’s some kind of coming out video.

  14. I came from tvtropes – I was looking for superhero stories on the net because I had read through everything published at Whateley Academy up to that point and I found this one.

    Also, I really, really hope that Atlas survives. Taylor SOO deserves some upgrades and some fun!

  15. Hi Wildbow. I haven’t really had the chance to say it yet, but Worm is amazing. It really is.
    One thing that’s been bugging me, is why didn’t Trickster try to switch himself out for Siberian’s projector? It seems like the kind of thing that he would look for.
    As for any powers that Skitter would gain from a secondary trigger event, I think that if anything, Taylor would be able to move her entire consciousness into her swarm, not even tethered to her body. She would potentially be able to shift her consciousness around continuously through her bugs, and control a swarm at any distance. She would be a Genesis of sorts.
    Just some thoughts. (I came from TvTropes by the way.)

  16. I, for one, feel Amy is correct on every count here (her treatment of Glory Girl, her making self-destructing bugs and the others not understanding).
    When you know (and Amy’s power allows her to know this with 99% certainty) someone is irrational (and Amy partly caused that irrationality), you need to make decisions for them. Glory Girl was never very rational and with all those emotions and hormones going all over the place she cannot be trusted to make her own decisions regarding this (if there was a degree of doubt about GG’s capability then Amy might not be justified, but she knows GG’s inner workings). Ideally it would be up to her parents to decide, but they aren’t here so Amy has to make the call.
    “Don’t mind control non-evil people” is an excellent heuristic, but all heuristics have exceptions.

  17. > “She almost dropped me once before. It’s pretty hard to hold on to someone, especially without the leverage you have when you’re on the ground.

    You’re missing an ending quote here.

  18. Yeah this is where Panacea lost me. Glass houses or not Regent is calling it mindrape, this is a sign. Also I personally think other than the bank robbery and the dinner over ABB the Undersiders haven’t done anything actually “evil” morally gray sure, but more gray than a vigilante? No.
    Especially when compared to the Wards and Protectorate who apparently couldn’t stop a villain if it were their jobs.

  19. “Shadow Stalker, Aegis, Gallant and Browbeat were dead or gone. The final sorta-maybe member of [the Wards], Glory Girl, was being eaten alive by Crawler’s acid.”
    Man, the Bay’s Wards have not been blessed with luck. Maybe it’s for the best that Taylor never joined the heroes…

    “Miss Militia interrupted [Crawler’s] gloating with a shot from a rocket launcher.”
    Wait, why isn’t she attacking Mannequin? I mean, sure, she can slow Crawler down a bit, but a solid hit from the rocket launcher could cripple or kill Mannequin.

    And how ironic, that shelters meant to protect people from some of the worst of the monsters are sheltering some of the other monsters.

  20. I don’t mean to be nitpicky, but in this chapter you use this phrase “It seemed he was keeping to the old adage of a supple willow bending in a hurricane that topples a sturdy oak.”

    I love this analogy, it works great. But I do distinctly remember you using it once before to describe Mannequin, and I feel that using the same analogy twice cheapens the effect.

    Thanks for the great story!

  21. Little nitpick here, Wildbow – Atlas was punished by carrying the heavens/sky/celestial spheres (or in one version, the planet Uranus), but never the Earth. He stood at one corner of the Earth – remember that to the Greeks, the Earth was flat – but did not carry it upon his shoulders. Also, Atlas was a Titan, not a giant. So this paragraph may need a little tweak:
    “My beetle needed a name. Had to have a better way of referring to it. A hercules beetle, but bigger, a giant. I thought about Hercules, about the myth; Hercules had borrowed the burden of the giant who carried the world. Atlas.”

    Following Byron’s comment above, I also remember this analogy a couple of chapters ago. Perhaps just refer to it, without explaining it again? Something like:
    “The hits that did land seemed to have little effect, as he went limp and bent with them – again, the supple willow. Even when Battery was moving…”

  22. I love the “vision of who Tattletale could have been”. I do also love that Tattle had considered inviting Amy to join the Undersiders, though I can see in Amy’s current state why she wouldn’t want to.

  23. Interesting how they brought up Heartbreaker since I was speculating that maybe he, not Marquis, could be Panacea’s father. Her biological manipulation looks like a natural extension of the mind, emotion and nervous system manipulation the others have, and we do know he had other children. We do after all only have Marquis’s word he’s her father (which Dragon passed on).

  24. Well as long as we’re saying what brought us here, I was recommended this by Less Wrong’s Harry Potter and The Methods of Rationality.

    Skitter just keeps getting more badass.

  25. Hi! I’ve been reading for a few weeks now and am commenting for the first time.

    I’m a little confused about the order of healing events. Panacea has, for the most part, patched up Glory Girl to the point where she won’t die from acid or blood loss. Why can’t she undo what she did to GG now? Why does that have to happen after she finishes healing GG? Panacea has GG under some kind of mind control, but aren’t her abilities strong enough that she can multitask–keep GG under mind control while undoing the “accident” from earlier? Or is she just delusional and putting it off?

  26. I love how Taylor is busy thinking up a name for her new flying motorcycle beetle as she is running away from the fight and towing a semicomatose Glory Girl! That was epically hilarious, totally in character for her and also subtly displayed some of her mutlitasking. It was also really cute when she was so distraught about losing her new steed after a few days and got Grue to fix him. I am having some nightmares now though about a giant hercules beetle sitting next to the kitchen table eating a steak with the group…on second thought this could be an epically hilarious situation for Sierra and Charlotte to walk in on.

    My comments about Amy have already been stated above so not going to rehash that one. I’m just going to say, wildbow, I have no idea how you could have come up with a story making her and GG likeable protagonists assuming there was little change to their core selves from the original draft.

    That all being said, a team up between a slightly more stable and sane Amy and Taylor would be epic. I’m sure there is fanfic somewhere with those two in a relationship…hmm…I might have to go searching once I finish the main story. Or one with with Taylor/Lisa…

  27. Something I’m a little lost on. I love the story thus far, so take all that I have to say as constructive criticism or for consideration in future writing.

    The implication is that Amy has been attracted to and in love with her sister and without thinking about it, she copied her feelings towards her to be mutual, right?Victoria discovered in one event that her sister is into women and that she’s been hiding it from her as well as getting a first hand idea of what it feels like.

    This has been equated by Tattletale and appearantly Victoria as a mind rape. I’m not sure if I understand the reasoning behind the intensity of the offense. The surprise of all of these things and perhaps some anti-homosexual hate culture that’s embeded in Victoria, maybe, but so much that she didn’t just go “eww eww change me back!”?

    TW, in IRL rape, there’s physical pain, helplessness, a power dynamic, violence, none of which I can personally see in this instance. Is it really comparable to the psychological harm done by rape? If not, then what I think I’m reading into this is that Amy also accidentally passed on her own self-hatred to Victoria.

    As for Regent, I like how there is this humaness attributed to him both before and after knowing about and acctepting that he has commited rape. All excuses aside, I would think that if you really want to fix the problems of rape culture, then to get the rapist to cooperate in any way, they need to know that they can confess and/or atone without the only options available being death and lifelong punishment.

    This is not to say that he deserves forgiveness perse, but being in the position that he’s in and accepting that what he did was wrong, as well as discontinuing the practice is what makes him most knowledgeable about personally recovering from a fucked up behavior that he regrets doing. This is far removed from the psychopaths or sociopaths who have no regrets about commiting rape and would never stop.

    I also wanted to mention a thing about Clockstopper and similar laws of physics style powers. First, I love the depth of thought that you give to every aspect of your writing. Most cases I’m amazed that you applied a line of reason that I thought only I would think of or that I’m hating myself for not thinking about first.

    In this case, I think I caught something which you might have wanted to catch earlier while you were initially building him as a character. When Clockstopper freezes something in space, what point is it relatively frozen in comparison to? If some absolute point in space, it would be hurled possibly hundreds of thousands of miles per hour in a direction which could rip a curved hole through the Earth. If frozen with it’s present velocity, it would still float upwards without the pull of gravity holding it down as the Earth spins. Relative to the center of the Earth, even with a continuation of the rotational velocity given around the perpendicular plane cut out of the Earth at the moment of freezing, then to which center? Geometric center? Center of mass? Both of these change constantly to a significant enough degree that the frozen item would often poke holes in the ground within the 10 min timeslot. Perhaps more violently than some waves in the ocean.

    Of course the obvious defensive reaction to this point would be “It’s fiction dumbass!” and to that I would say, “Cool! It’s all good! No fix necessary. Still love the story!” It’s a thing that lots of writers miss with similar powers and I thought you’d appreciate having it pointed out for the Reason Fic nature of your style. An easy solution, which you might have already considered is that his psychological expectation of his power’s behavior plays a role and that much more control would be given to him after something like a second trigger event.

    I really hope you get a deal to make this a tv or anime series someday. I especially hope you can rightfully get the public notice that your work deserves so as to push more for the reason fic or in-depth detailed sort of thought that you give it. Society could use more intelligence in their entertainment.

    • About mind rape:

      Yes,it is not as torturous,but she changes an essential part of who GG was,without her say so.Even if we see it existencially,in the hands of a villain who did it willy nilly it is mind rape,the only thing that makes it kinda better is than Panacea can and is willing to undo it.

  28. Wouldn’t a simple compromise for Panacea be to undo her brainwashing while keeping Glory Girl paralysed until she’s fully healed? Heck even if she needs to fly she could hijack GG’s body to do it the way Regent does. Sure forcing treatment on someone against their will or hijacking their body is bad but hijacking their mind is way worse and doesn’t seem at all necessary.

    I guess Panacea isn’t thinking straight, but it seems she’s seeing this as a false dichotomy of “I need to keep her 100% free-willed or 100% controlled, not just master of her own mind but sedated” and that Tattletale or one of the others could have done a better job of pointing out and questioning.

  29. Can not say Amy is bad because when Taylor begin she is looking at the world with black&white perspective too with that under over thing in her mind.

  30. While everyone else is discussing Amy and GG, am I the only one who noticed (a few years later) what a massive turning point this marks for Skitter?

    For the entire story, she’s treated pretty much all of her bugs as completely expendable, since, well… they’re bugs.

    Now, she just got one that’s absolutely not expendable and she’ll have to actually put some effort into keeping it (him?) alive and not simply throwing its life away like any other member of the swarm.

    That’s going to really change things for her, I think…

    • See the thing with that though is that…her swarm really IS expendable. None are unique save this guy. And even then, her multitasking ability is so huge that she probably doesn’t have to pay super attention to make sure he’s good to go.

      He’s really more like a horse now than a member of the swarm.

  31. I know Pan’s emotions are in utter turmoil right now, but… Wow. I was hoping she would have the sense to not go ANY further in fucking around with Glory Girl’s mind. I feel like it’s almost certain to get worse from here — she might lose her qualms about controlling people’s minds completely.

    Panacea really does have one of the most absurd powers on the planet. It’s really amazing she’s stayed a hero for as long as this with the power at her disposal.

  32. “She’s not thinking straight. What I did-”
    Am I the only one to see a pun here?

    Also this is my first comment so far and I have to say your story is awesome 🙂

  33. BTW, it’s correctly named Atlas, but early on in this chapter it referred to Atlas as a giant. Atlas is a Titan, just wanted to clarify things.

  34. One of the most.harrying chapters.
    Amy is in such amounts of.denial, it’s.hard to.see anything outside….sigh…

  35. I know, that comment comes very late (sadly I have not found this awesome series earlier), and I fear, no one will read and answer it. But it’s worth a try:

    Amy “created” a giant beetle. In this chapter we can see, that she can not produce tissue, if there is not enough biological mass.

    How was she able to create the additional mass of the bettle then?

  36. What a shame! Would have liked for our MC a bigger range and a strong mount.
    And they were too fast. They first should have asked if she wants to stay with them and not like that talked to her.

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