Colony 15.4

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Sundancer had once described her life in costume as intense, violent and lonely.  I’d had a hard time understanding the last point.  That had been about the same time that I had been riding the high of having friends for the first time, after a couple of years spent in almost total solitude.

Maybe, if the subject had come up again in recent weeks, I might have understood, nodding my head in sympathy.

Powers raised us above the common people.  It was maybe arrogant to think that way, to say I was better than the likes of Sierra, Charlotte or my father, but I sort of was.  I had all the potential they did and then more.

Even if I looked at how powers elevated us, though, I had to admit we weren’t raised to the same level.  We weren’t all raised up together.  If anything, the powers drove us apart: our trigger events, our reasons for wanting to use our powers, the agendas and missions we took upon ourselves, and even how those powers made us think and operate in different ways… they put barriers between ourselves and others.  I just had to think of Panacea or Bitch, and I had some damn good examples of that.

I couldn’t think of two capes who were in a committed relationship where there wasn’t some degree of fucked-up-ness.  Night and Fog were, if I’d understood Tattletale right, essentially functional sociopaths.  They’d acted out the role of a married couple with none of the affection or fondness.  Victor and Othala were screwed up in a different way, burdened by a shared event in their past.  Brandish and Flashbang?  If their kids were any indication… yeah.  Fucked up.

It was no small wonder we were all so fucked up.  It was the human condition, to need a supporting hand now and again, and yet we could barely help ourselves, let alone each other.

Worse, if by some small miracle two capes managed to find comfort and support in each other, there was no guarantee that those other two points that Sundancer had raised wouldn’t ruin things.  The intensity of our lifestyle and the sheer violence.  Lady Photon had lost her husband in the Leviathan fight.  Glory Girl had, if the magazines and papers were any indication, maintained an on-and-off relationship with Gallant.  He’d died too.

So this?  Lying here beside Brian?  It was sort of bittersweet, with maybe a 60-40 split on the sweet vs. the bitter.

I couldn’t see Brian’s face without raising my head, and I didn’t want to do that and risk waking him.  I’d left my glasses on the table with the knife and gun, so I couldn’t see that well anyways.  I settled for studying the fabric of his sleeveless shirt, the nubs of lint, the weave of the textile, and how it shifted with the slow, deep and rhythmic breaths he was taking.  I could smell his sweat, with the faint traces of his deodorant beneath.  It was funny, because when we’d settled in, I hadn’t been able to smell anything.

I felt warm in the core of my chest.  That wasn’t just the morning light streaming in through the windows.

Not happy, exactly.  I didn’t feel like I deserved to be happy, not with the responsibilities I wasn’t attending to right now, not with the mistakes I’d made and the people I’d failed.

But I could convince myself that this was something I should be doing.  It was one of the tasks that I had to tend to, no matter how the coming days and weeks unfolded, and we’d settled on making those tasks a priority.  We had to support Grue if we wanted him around to help us when everything started going down.

I wouldn’t rest any hopes on this, not with the way every other parahuman relationship seemed to go.  I’d take these individual moments for what they were.

All of which amounted to a pile of excuses and rationalizations I was layering on top of one another, trying to convince myself this wouldn’t end disastrously, that I wasn’t being irresponsible or that I wasn’t going to regret this on a hundred different levels.  It was enough that I could feel at peace, here.

Mostly at peace.  I had to pee, and yet I didn’t want to move and disturb him.

Nothing was easy, it seemed.

My body won out over my willpower, and I decided to extricate myself.  I didn’t even try to get to my feet, instead easing myself down to the ground as I unwrapped myself from Brian as slowly as I could.

Once I’d disentangled myself from Brian and the couch, I grabbed my glasses, knife, cellphone and gun and rushed to the washroom.

The cell phone rang while I was on the toilet.  Tattletale.  For Brian’s sake and my own sense of decency, I refused the call and texted her instead:

What’s up?

She replied soon after:

R is done.  Bird in the pen 4 now.  C wants a meeting neways.  Get G I and come 4 11am?

So it was time to see if Brian could glean anything from Victor’s power.  I responded:

G sleeping.  Don’t want to wake him.

I could guess her reply before it appeared:

hate to break u 2 lovebirds up but we r tight on time and C is impatient

I texted her an a-ok before hanging up and putting the phone away.

The kitchen had been cleaned up, but my bugs hadn’t alerted me to anyone coming in.  Had Aisha returned and used her power to stay quiet?

I decided to assume she had and began preparing breakfast for three people.

If I had to rouse Brian, I’d do it with the smells of bacon, coffee and toast.  It was as inoffensive a method as I could think of.

Aisha woke up before Brian did, venturing downstairs in a long t-shirt.

“Thanks for cleaning up,” I said, quiet.  I could remember her reaction the last time I’d been talking to Brian, and added, “And for not getting upset.”

“I can’t help him, don’t know how.  So I’m putting it in your hands.”


“Don’t thank me.  If you screw this up, I can and will make your life a living hell.”

I frowned.  “Honestly?  That’s not very fair.  I think I probably will screw up along the way.  This isn’t going to be smooth sailing, whatever happens.  So maybe it’d be better if you just trust that I’m going into this with the best intentions for him.”

She plucked a piece of bacon from a plate and popped it into her mouth.  “Maybe.  But no. Don’t fuck this up.”

I rolled my eyes.

“I’ve had a lot of practice.  It’s the little things, convincing someone they’re going crazy, nothing they put down is where they left it.  Things go missing.  Furniture gets moved.  Then it gets more serious, they find the stash of drugs they were supposed to barter for stuff is missing-”

“I don’t have any drugs,” I told her.

“Talking hy-po-theticals.  I get them in trouble with people they know.  Then they have little injures they can’t remember getting.  Splinters under their fingernails, papercuts between their fingers or at the corners of their mouths, little cuts on the back of their hands.  That’s usually when they freak out.  They run, go somewhere else, and it stops, just a little while.  Until it comes again, twice as bad as before.  They snap.  Then I leave them a message telling them that it all stops when they leave the city.  Put it on their walls in blood or put it on their bathroom mirror in soap so it shows up when the room gets all steamy.  They’re glad.  They’re happy to have a way out.  Except I wouldn’t leave you that note.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Brian asked, from behind her.  “And where are you getting that blood?”

Aisha wheeled around, not appearing even half as guilty as she should have.

“I asked Coil’s lieutenant for some.  He asked me how many gallons I wanted.  How weird is that?  I mean, seriously, who needs gallons of blood?  Or maybe I could use it.  Paint someone’s house, see if I can’t freak them out hardcore,” Aisha smiled wickedly.

“Ignore that question.  What were you saying to Taylor, about not giving her a note?”

“It’s fine,” I told him.  “She’s being protective of her big brother.”

Aisha plastered a fake smile on her face.

“I didn’t know you cared,” Brian told Aisha, with a touch of sarcasm.  “I’m dropping this only because Taylor’s sticking up for you.”

Aisha rolled her eyes and began serving herself.

It was nine-thirty.  Assuming it would take us half an hour to forty-five minutes to get to Coil’s place, that left us only about an hour to get ready.  We ate in awkward silence.  Aisha took the first turn in the shower, leaving Brian and me alone once again.

I didn’t know what to do with myself.  We had taken a step forward, but I didn’t exactly have any experience on this front.  What was I supposed to do?  What did I say?  I wanted to hug him, to hold his hand or raise the idea of spending time together later, but I didn’t know what was allowed, or what would be pushing boundaries or taking things too far.

He sat down on the couch, putting his feet up on the coffee table, and I grabbed a glass of orange juice before sitting down next to him.  Would he put his arm around me, or-

“This thing with Coil.  Do you have a plan?”

Opportunity missed.

I shook my head.  “More like I have a bunch of smaller plans.  Can’t commit to anything, in case things unfold in an unexpected way.”

“Okay.  Let’s talk about them.  Plan A?”

“I whip my territory into shape, Coil decides that it’s more valuable to keep me in his service.  The idea is that he values my ability to keep an area stable more than he values having Dinah.  He lets her go.”

“Not likely.”

I frowned.  “I almost gave up on it after Burnscar torched everything.  It isn’t that impossible.”

“Think about what it would mean in terms of security leaks.  If he let Dinah go home to her family, she wouldn’t be able to return to her normal life.  If Coil was dumb enough to let her go with no safeguards and without people to watch her, then the heroes would swoop in on her and use her to get him.”

I nodded, glum.

“And really, can you honestly say that your services are worth the cost of everything you’re taking from Coil in the way of resources, plus the cost of the agents he’d need watching Dinah at all hours?”

“So you think he’ll say no.”

“Tattletale thinks that Coil may be considering dropping you from the team once he has what he needs.”

I turned to look at Brian.  His forehead was creased in a frown.

“You think I’m expendable.”

“To Coil?  Possibly.”

I nodded.

“It’s something to keep in mind,” he said.

“Thing is, I don’t know how that really changes anything.  Should I stop helping the people in my territory?  I’m not going to.  It wouldn’t be fair to them, and it would tip Coil off.”

“I think it was a bad idea to tip him off by making the deal in the first place.  Now he knows you’ve got pretty strong morals.  On a level, anyways.”

I nodded.  On a level.

He went on, “I imagine it’s troublesome to have someone with those sorts of moral concerns that could throw his long-term plan off course.  He might be looking to replace you.”

“And with his power, that might make for a bit of a pinch.”

“His power?”

I paused.  “Tattletale clued me in.  He creates parallel realities.  Makes two different decisions, and he gets to see the outcome of each as they unfold.  Decides which he wants in the end.”

Brian frowned.  “And he’s been doing that with us?”

“Since before I joined the team.  Send us on a job in one reality, keep us back in another.  If we succeed, great.  If we fail… well, nothing lost.  He deletes the reality where he sent us out.”

He rubbed his chin.  I noticed he had stubble.  “So he gets two tries at everything.  Including dealing with any of us who cause him any trouble.”

I nodded.  “Which is why we need to play along for as long as possible.”

“Fair.  What’s your plan B?”

“Plan B… well, it’s not so much a plan as a fallback.  If I get found out before we make any headway, it means fighting Coil and his underlings.”

“The Travelers and Circus included.”

“Tattletale and I have talked about how we might approach that.  The problem is that Coil would be backing them up.  Normally I’d suggest we go on the offensive, so they don’t have time to go after our weaknesses, but with Coil at work, we have to assume that it’s all the more likely that the Travelers would get that one lucky hit off, or that they’d pick the plan of attack that would work out for them.”

“And they’re powerful enough that they’d really only need to get lucky once,” Brian said.  I saw his expression darken.  He was staring off into space.

“Sorry,” I said.  Impulsively, I leaned closer, so my arm and shoulder pressed against his arm.


“If you want to talk about something else-”

“I want to make sure we come out of this alive.”

“But it’s stressing you out.”

“I’ll manage,” he answered, putting one arm around my shoulders and hugging me close.

But he didn’t raise the subject again.  Aisha got out of the shower, he took the next turn, ostensibly to clean up after her.  I took the brief period of quiet to get my stuff in order.  I’d worn my costume under my clothes, the top and dress portion  bound around my waist, beneath the sweatshirt.

Once I was free to use the shower, I pulled off the costume and hung it up.  The steam would help with any wrinkles for the parts that weren’t skintight.

I had to admit to being a little disappointed with the way the morning was unfolding.  Part of that was with myself, not knowing how to act, but part of it was with the lack of romance.  RationallyI knew that the movies, TV, books and all that, they didn’t paint a realistic picture.  I knew that we wouldn’t instantaneously click, that everything would be fixed.

But at the core of it all, I wasn’t a hundred percent rational.

Had to take what I could get.  Last night, cuddling?  It had been nice.  Really nice.

All in all, we were ready to move out well ahead of time.

I wracked my brain, trying to think of things to say.  Everything social or romantic seemed forced or awkward, especially with Imp there.  Everything related to our costumed selves seemed too delicate, fraught with reminders for Brian.

Each time I entered Coil’s headquarters, it seemed like it had transformed.  On our first visit it had been a bare bones setup with piles upon piles of crates, and soldiers congregating wherever there was room.  Our last visit had seen some organization.  Now it had finally taken form.

The interior was divided into two levels.  The lower level sported a cafeteria, a bar, a small computer lab and bunk beds for the soldiers on standby.  Doorways leading to what I suspected were washrooms.  I knew that Coil had squads positioned across the city by now, in quarters not unlike the lairs he had assigned us, if a little more austere.  Anyone who stayed here had the bare necessities.

There was an area with more of a focus on the actual ‘war’ part of soldiering, with men at the ready to hand out the guns and ammunition that were tidily arranged on racks and shelves, a massive laundry room that appeared to be devoted to washing and preparing the uniforms and two more stations for heavier gear and more esoteric stuff like walkie-talkies and explosives.

The upper level was pretty plain, with a metal walkway bridging the gaps to the doorways that were recessed in the concrete walls.  Still, things had been added, including whiteboards with shift schedules and maps very similar to the one I’d seen in Tattletale’s base of operations.

I glanced at one map; our territory had expanded somewhat.  Or maybe it was better to say that the pockets of enemy forces that had lurked at the edges of our territory were collapsing.

Cranston, the blond woman who served as one of Coil’s liasons to us, who was my contact when I needed something, was standing outside the door to the conference room.

“Skitter.  How are you?”

“I’m fine, Ms. Cranston.”

“You’re a bit early.  Can I offer you anything while you wait for Coil to arrive?”

I shook my head.

“Grue?  Imp?”

They refused as well.

“It’ll only be a few minutes.”

Grue and Imp stepped away to talk to the fat, short man who I took to be their liason.  I stepped over to the railing and watched the scene below.

A group far to my left caught my eye.  I ventured closer.

Trickster, Sundancer, Genesis and Ballistic were gathered around Tattletale, joined by Coil and a blond boy with striking good looks.  I couldn’t really get a good look at it from my vantage point, but the wall jutted out beneath the walkway, and there was a heavy vault door set into the concrete, similar to the ones I’d seen at the shelters.


Tattletale was shaking her head as she talked.  She gestured toward the door.

I could see the Travelers respond to that.  Trickster folding his arms, Sundancer turning away slightly.  Genesis, in her wheelchair, hung her head just a bit, her mop of hair blocking the view.

They weren’t hearing what they wanted to hear.

Tattletale touched the wall, some panel or button system, said something, and then turned away, walking towards the staircase.  The Travelers and Coil followed behind.

“Everything okay?” I asked Tattletale, as she joined me.

“Oh, not really,” she gave me a tight smile.

“Fill me in later?”

“Can’t.  Sworn to secrecy.”

“Uh huh.  You know, for someone who calls herself Tattletale, you’re way too fond of keeping secrets.”

“Believe me, some secrets aren’t so fun to keep.”

I frowned.  What was going on there?

I could only trust that she’d inform us when we weren’t in earshot of Coil and the Travelers.

Bitch and Regent were waiting outside the conference room as we approached.  I gave Bitch a small nod of acknowledgement, and she returned it.  All together, we got seated; Travelers on one side of the table, Undersiders on the other, Coil at the head.

“I understand that things have been hectic since the Nine departed the city.  Communications are difficult to establish, there’s still lasting damage from the Endbringer attack, and everyone has their individual concerns.  Before our focus fell on the Nine and eliminating Jack Slash, I told you to establish your territories and do what you could to effect some sort of control.  As Tattletale may not have all of the necessary information to draw the right conclusions, I’d like each of you to inform us on your progress.”

He gestured to Trickster.

“Putting me on the spot, huh?”  Trickster asked.  “Dunno.  Nobody’s doing business in my neighborhood, and there aren’t any crooks there that the public knows about, but Purity and her people are still hanging around, and I’m waiting on my teammates to wrap up their stuff so they can lend me a hand.”

“Infrastructure, recruitment?” Coil prompted.

“I’ve made a few small steps forward for each of those things.  I offered some of the low-level thugs the option of moving out of the city or serving under me.  Got a half-and-half split of each, more or less.  Enough people to deal product, if you want, or to scare some people.”

“Good.  Sundancer?”

Sundancer had the posture of someone who’d desperately hoped to avoid being called on in class.  “I don’t know.  I’ve been working with the maps Tattletale provided me, but I’m not good at this.  I burn them out of whatever place they’re holed up in, they run, then half the time it’s like they settle somewhere else that’s nearby.”

“You have to scare them more,” Trickster said.

“I burn their houses down.  I don’t know why that’s not scary enough.”

“You’re too soft about it, being too careful to let them know what you’re doing and when, because you don’t want to hurt them and they can tell.”

Coil cleared his throat.  “How far along?”

Sundancer didn’t look happy.  “I dunno.  I’ve maybe cleared out one in four of the local groups?”

“Genesis?” Coil asked.

“Mostly clear,” Genesis replied, leaning forward and putting her elbows on the table, “Not sure how to get anything going in the way of operations.  It’s not exactly heavily populated territory.”

“You’re keeping Noelle company tonight, yes?”

Genesis nodded.

“Then we’ll discuss it then.”


“And Ballistic?”

“Further along than him,” Ballistic jerked a thumb toward Trickster.  “Nobody doing business in my area, only two capes hanging around.  Got that girl from Dolltown who’s pretty insistent on holding onto her neighborhood, even if pretty much everyone that lived there is dead, now.  It’s the only spot that I haven’t taken over.”

“I see.  And the second cape?”

“There’s a kid from the old Merchants group.  Has powers.  Going to try to scare off the Doll girl and recruit the Merchant kid.”

“You might start with remembering their names,” Genesis pointed out.

“I’m not a cape geek like you.”

“You’re a cape.”

“Parian and Scrub?” I spoke up, hoping to keep them from going off on a tangent.

“Sure.  Sounds right,” Ballistic conceded.

“If you’re dealing with Parian, can I come along?”

“Actually,” Coil said, “I had a request to make of you, Skitter.”

I turned my attention to him.

“After,” he told me.  “Let me get to the main topic of this meeting before I address it.  For now, I’d like to hear how the Undersiders are coming along.”

“Been busy helping everyone else out,” Tattletale admitted.  “Like Trickster, I guess, I’m waiting for others to finish what they’re doing.  I’m pretty solid for business, though.  Bringing in more cash than I’m spending.”

“What’s the business?”  Trickster asked.

“The big one is reclaiming items and homes.  I offer goodies to any people from the shelter willing to band together and scare them off, anything too difficult, I use the mercenaries you provided.  Coil’s hooked me up with some banking services so we can actually make the transactions.  People don’t have a lot of use for money with the way things are right now, and they do have stuff that they value.  Figure a few hundred to a thousand dollars per job, three or four jobs a day, and they’re sort of doing my work for us, dealing with the gang members.”

“With the idea that your teammates will claim the areas at a later date,” Coil said, his voice firm.


“Grue and Imp?”

I saw Grue hesitate.

“Seventy-five percent clear,” Imp said.  “The Chosen and leftover Merchants mainly moved into our territory and Regent’s.  Maybe we’re not a hundred percent done, but when we scare people off, they stay gone.”

“Good.  Can you drive out the remaining threats in the next two days?”

“Got this far in three, don’t see why not.”

“Excellent.  Regent?”

“About the same.  Nobody wants to cross Shatterbird, but lots of people keep popping up, moving in because they’re oblivious that she’s there.  With no radio or TV, they’re clueless.”

“Make it more obvious, then.”

Regent nodded.


“Nobody left in my territory.”

“No threats?”


Coil sighed, “I did tell you that you could run your territory as you wished.  Still, that’s not ideal.  Would you object to a rearrangement of territory?  I would grant you more overall area to control, but it would be limited to the outskirts of the city.”

“So long as it’s mine.”

“Good.  And Skitter?”

I shrugged.  “No threats, nobody’s daring to pop their heads in.”

“Then consider working on rooting out the individuals too afraid to show themselves, before they cause a problem.”

“They’re dealt with,” I said.


“I’m doing two sweeps through my territory every day.  Only one yesterday, but we were busy dealing with the Chosen.  I’m checking every building for trouble.  If I find contraband, drugs or weapons, I confront the individuals in question.  Past two days, I haven’t had to confront anyone.”

“The only people with weapons are your people, then?”

I nodded.  “I’ve got sixty people working under me, and maybe a hundred more who are working for me in an indirect way, joining the community that’s started on the cleanup projects.  Filling, moving and placing sandbags to control and reroute the flooding, clearing the area Burnscar burned down, and setting up accommodations.”

“Impressive,” Coil said.

I nodded.  “I feel like I’m cheating, though.  My power’s suited to this.”

“It remains impressive.  Let me explain just why I find this of interest, Undersiders, Travelers.  The mayoral elections are in one week.  Before this occurs, I would like to have this city firmly in my control.  It will shift the tone and the aim of the election, which would be to my advantage.  Our advantage.”

“So you’re saying we have less than a week to wrap stuff up in our territory,” Trickster said.

“Yes.  I also have some other issues I would like you to address.  Skitter, Genesis, I trust you’re able to step away from your territories to give me a hand?”

Tattletale leaned forward over the table, looking at me.  I glanced at her, then turned to Coil, “Yes.”

“Sure,” Genesis said.

“And Trickster, if you’re idle while you wait for your teammates to come assist with Purity’s group, I’m sure you can lend your assistance for one night?”

Trickster nodded.

“The mayor and several members of the city council will be traveling to Washington to discuss the state of Brockton Bay and the possibility of condemning the city.  Skitter, Imp, Genesis, I would like you to visit him and ensure he argues towards our ends.  Brockton Bay will stand, and it will recover.”

I nodded slowly.  “Sure.  I think I can do that and still help Ballistic with Parian.”

“I haven’t asked for your help,” Ballistic said.

“Coil’s call,” I responded.

“If Skitter feels she can spare the time, I would be glad to have the extra assurance the job will get done.”

Ballistic folded his arms.  Didn’t look happy at that.

“That’s the last point of discussion.  I will provide anything you need to see your tasks to completion.  If there’s no questions, that will be all.”

After a brief pause to check that nobody wanted to speak, we all stood from our seats.  The Travelers headed out the door and turned a right to go back to where Noelle was sealed up.  Tattletale led our group to the cells where Shatterbird and Victor were.

While we waited for Regent to go and bring Victfor out of his cell, Tattletale stepped close, so she was right next to Grue and me.  She murmured,  “One piece of good news, two pieces of bad news and one spot of catastrophic news.  The good news is that Coil is impressed with you, Skitter.”

“Okay,” I said.  “That’s what we were hoping for, right?”

“But something tells me we’ve got a major snag.  I’d say odds are pretty fucking good that he’s on to us.”

I felt my heart drop.

“How sure are you?” I asked.

“Not positive, but pretty damn sure.  And I’d say there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of ours informed him of our aims.”

“A member of the Undersiders?” Grue asked.

“That, or he’s got our places bugged.  But I didn’t get the sense that anyone who built the place or brought our stuff in knew about any electronic bugging.  Like I said, fifty-fifty chance.”

I nodded.  I glanced around, looking at Bitch, Imp, and the door Regent had disappeared through.

“Fuck,” Tattletale swore under her breath.  “I was trying to signal you to say no to Coil’s request, but you weren’t looking at the right moments and I couldn’t exactly tip anyone off.  I’m positive he’s asking you to go on that errand with Genesis and Trickster because he’s planning on eliminating you.”

I felt Grue’s hand squeeze my shoulder.  He’d gone rigid, as if he was more spooked than I was.

“And of course, he knows I know.  So this is a loyalty test, I’m betting.  If you don’t go, I flunk.”

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116 thoughts on “Colony 15.4

  1. I’m sorry but why would Coil think that Tattletale would stand by and let him kill her friend, and why the hell did they ever agree to work for his crusty ass, I still don’t understand. How can assisting a villain in taking over a city ever be a good idea?

    • Well Brockton Bay was a poor community at the time they joined up. Alot of unemployed workers, gangs, and shitty schools. Taylor was hoping that Coil could fix things. His resources are also very useful with the city in the state it is in right now.

      • Indeed. Reading through, Coil sold *me* on his plan being for the best back when he made the pitch. Still would be, if the slimy bastard could be held back from committing atrocities here and there.

        • I dunno, I’m still pretty sold on him. What has he done since Dinah which is all that bad? He seems to have spent most of the time coping with the successive disasters.

          • We haven’t seen him do anything else on the scale of Dinah that I can recall, but then Coil has his fingers in a lot of pies and our point of view is limited.

            Coil is an amoral egotist with sadistic impulses (though Taylor wouldn’t really have any way of knowing about the sadism). Is putting someone like that in charge worth a more efficient bureaucracy, nicer roads and a lower unemployment rate? These are promises that a number of evil dictators throughout history have made and even fulfilled.

            Coil made a persuasive argument to get the Undersiders on board and teaming up with him to try to avert the apparent end of the world made sense, but really the default mode when dealing with someone like him should be opposition, all the moreso when the stakes are so high.

            Would Coil choose the reality where he must sacrifice his own life to postpone the “end of the world” by a decade? Not a chance. And I have little doubt that he’d choose a reality in which millions or billions more people die if it put him higher up on the pecking order and gave him more power.

            So I’d say that rationally, if you’re really trying to do the altruistic thing with both the Big Picture and the little pictures in mind, serving as an underboss to Coil makes little sense, unless it’s a part of a long con — otherwise you’re just another tool at his disposal, and you’re left hoping that Coil’s interests happen to coincide with whatever is best for the world or the people you care about.

          • Keeping in mind that any city ruler that employs Dinah’s power to make it flourish is probably going to outperform any sort of democracy. However, I don’t trust that Coil intends to make the city flourish. Pride isn’t enough to ensure that. He probably doesn’t /mind/ if poverty and other problems are cleared away, but I expect he doesn’t care much.

    • Maybe Coil thinks Tattletale stand by because it’s difficult for any outsider to understand why she would be devoted to Skitter. It’s actually difficult for me to understand, sometimes. Lisa is by far the most mysterious of the main cast members. What does she actually want out of life? What are her goals? What are her moral boundaries if any? We have no clue. She can be amazingly ruthless when it comes to manipulating or hurting people.

      Consistently Lisa goes out of her way for Taylor. She’s been the one keeping her on the team, multiple times, she goes along with Taylor’s plans, and generally does whatever she has to to protect Taylor in a way that even Grue does not. I sometimes suspect almost a Panacea/Glory Girl situation, only it doesn’t seem like Lisa is sexually interested in Taylor. More like Taylor fits some very important emotional spot in her life, and she would do anything to maintain their relationship. Again, in a way she never displays for Grue or any of the others.

      • I think your on the right track, i think Taylor fills a steadying roll in Lisa’s life by being the moral one. She is the one whom Lisa judges herself against, her check against her own impulses.

      • I am YEARS behind but I am thinking Lisa knows that Taylor has some role to play in the future. Maybe not EXACTLY what role…but she senses shes important.

        • The point that I forgot to make is that “Lisa is worried about her friend and teammate” is more likely than “Lisa is worried about a vital piece to saving the world”. Taylor, being the protagonist and POV character, is likely to be involved in either the end of the world or preventing it, but Lisa doesn’t know that.

      • MybMaybe it’s something along the lines of moral certainty (Skitter) to guide moral bankruptcy (Tattletale)? Or maybe there’s something going on that Wildbow will show in a later interlude?

    • To be fair, depends on the villain. Like, imagine Taylor was the villain responsible for a city/village if she had a little more political genious.
      Hell, even some more radical villains might “just” make slavery legal (for heroes and those that break the villain’s rules, eg if it was Marquis harming women or children), also legalize drug trade and other vices but put some major taxes on them, maybe even put some of that into drug rehabilitation for the irony, have their villain crews beat down on other villain groups trying to get a foothold, and most civillains would propably not notice any notable differences, or even live better. And yes I’ve stolen that example from “Supersale on Super Heroes”.

    • Let’s see…Brian was relying on Coil for custody of Aisha until fairly recently, Lisa wasn’t exactly given a choice at any step along the way, Alec and Rachel don’t care about people outside their social circle, and Taylor has been hoping to subvert Coil basically since she grew the confidence required to rock the boat.

  2. I love how she takes her gun to the bathroom. It is a special kind of paranoia after the way she let her guard down recently.

    Skitter and Parian would make quite the team. Hope she’s not totally out of her mind, filling Dolltown with twisted fabric automaton replacements for her friends and family like something out of a Tim Burton movie.

    Some of these I’m not sure are mistakes; hard to tell since it could be that Taylor’s word choice is odd in this circumstance.
    “Lying here beside” There might work better than here. Dunno.
    “But I almost convince myself” Might be a missing word there.
    “just trust that” double space.

  3. “And Trickster, if you’re idle while you wait for your teammates to come assist with Purity’s group, I’m sure you can lend your assistance for one night?”

    Grue nodded.

    I think you meant Trickster nodded.

    I kind of giggled at Imp’s plan to make Taylor’s life a living hell. On one hand, that plan only works if the person doesn’t know about the plan and Imp’s ability. How does she think she can really fuck with Taylor short of smashing her upside the head with a rock or killing her now that she was warned? Even if she wasn’t warned, Taylor would probably be going to Lisa pretty fucking quick once she realized she wasn’t actually going crazy, and between Lisa and Taylor Imp can’t really cause that many problems.

    I am really hoping Tattletale is wrong about there being a traitor among the Undersiders. If she is right though, I think it has to be Regent. Imp can’t have done it if she wants Taylor to help Grue, and Taylor is basically Bitch’s best friend at this point. Grue clearly didn’t do it, and while Tattletale is theoretically possible, I find it highly unlikely.

    • Plus Bitch doesnt like Coil anyway and she doesn’t operate like that, It would have to be Regent…maybe another reason why hes taking over these heavy hitters

      • I don’t see it being Regent. He was completely honest when he said he didn’t like the responsibility of managing a part of the city. He also believes the world is going to end, and this is a great way to get rid of his boredom. Maybe Shatterbird overheard them, and told Coil when she was in her cell alone?

        • Or it could be imp, or Genesis in some spy form, or… who knows? Lots of options.

          Anyhow. That’s the good news and two pieces of bad news. What’s the catastrophic?

          • I believe the rat being a teammate was the catastrophic news. If they can’t trust each other they are pretty boned.

          • Coil’s on to us: first bad news.
            We might have a traitor: second bad news.
            Coil wants to KILL SKITTER: catastrophic news.

        • Regent is a sociopath who feels no different whether he’s lying or telling the truth. The whole concept of being “completely honest” is not really in his mental/emotional makeup. He’s even said as much himself, in his interlude (which is as close to the truth as we’re ever going to from him).


    • Tattletale believes that there is only a 50-50 chance that it’s an Undersider. Assuming that she is truly expressing a personal probability, that means that she believes that it’s just as likely as not that Coil has found out in some way that she hadn’t considered. Now, 50-50 is a scary risk, given the consequences, and it’s definitely cause for caution, but she wouldn’t be wrong either way. 😉

      Of course, this is all assuming that Tattletale is telling the truth.

      On some level, it would be more interesting if there were no actual traitor, but Tattletale’s warning would alter the relationship dynamics (for Skitter) and create suspense (for the reader). After all, once in a hundred instances, a 1% chance wins out over a 99% chance, and here, we are dealing with 50-50.

      Which, incidentally, leads me to a question for Wildbow: it seems like it takes Dinah more effort to obtain the probability to a greater number of significant figures, yet Coil keeps asking her to evaluate them to 3 significant figures, even though anything after the first (i.e., 10% increments) is unlikely to affect his decision. Mind you, it would be even better if he were to ask her to get the number on the logit scale, since even a single digit can tell one if the probability is very large or very small… 😎

      • I meant to add a line somewhere in Dinah’s interlude, but Dinah finds security and comfort in the longer figures, losing herself in her power the same way Skitter sometimes does with hers.

        Coil tends to enforce the shorter numbers because it’s faster, because he doesn’t need to know to the 9th decimal place and because Dinah’s liable to get carried away if not stopped.

        • Interesting. And there I was, thinking that it costs Dinah more to get higher precision, so with a little bit of decision theory, Coil could optimize his queries so that each query costs no more than necessary.

  4. Road trip! So Skitter is going to go pressure some politicians into swinging the vote their way. So they’re the new villain lobby group huh. I don’t think Genesis is going to try to off Taylor. My guess is a single sniper, one shot to the head. Even if it doesn’t get through her fabric, it will give her a concussion. Coil comes off as both smart and stupid to me in this chapter. On the one hand, he has sniffed out a attack. On the other hand, he is is stupid if he thinks the Undersiders will take an attack on one of their own lying down. Tyler is the closet thing to a friend Bitch has ever had, Grue’s girlfriend, Tattletales friend, and Regent is fond enough of her to get some revenge on Shadowstalker. As we discussed a few chapters back, I think the Undersiders are more than powerful enough to deal with the Travelers, and Coil’s solders. I think that Skitter should make an overture to have Parian join though. Can’t have too much muscle. The only factor that I can see being a problem is Noelle. I’m dying to find out what her deal is.

    • I still think the best way is to beat him before he realizes he needs to make a split. Neither future works out for him because both stem from an earlier incident in which he has already lost. The most obvious way would be poison, but there has to be other ways to work it in.

      Anyway, if Coil does have someone in the Undersiders feeding him information, then he has at least one method of subverting them there. My best guesses are Regent, who only got revenge on Shadowstalker because she had stalked Grue’s shadow, and Imp, because she’s young, reckless and rather selfish at times, and she’s the only one of them working for Coil who we don’t have some idea of what bit wish he offered her. Remember? Tattletale got something, Regent got something, Grue was getting something, and then Taylor wanted Dinah.

      Another possibility I don’t know how to figure up is that it might be Tattletale.

      We already know how Grue feels about Taylor and we already know that Bitch isn’t really the type to do a lot of backroom dealing to stab someone in the back.

      Now, there’s also the possibility that Coil’s “traitor” isn’t really a traitor. Maybe in one reality he offered some overwhelmingly over the top deal to one of them where they told. Then he collapsed that and went back to reality where he didn’t have to pay anyone. Or he used one reality to capture and interrogate one of them, then collapsed it.

      Or he split before the meeting. One version, he does things so as to allow Skitter more time to notice Tattletale and pick up on some subtle signals she sends (selling seashells by the sea shore). The other, he plays it like we read.

      • Maybe get Dinah involved. Contact her with the swarm/tiny camera trick she used to contact the heroes. Dinah mentioned in her interlude that she can tell when he uses his power because the numbers all change instantly. Tell her you’re gonna free her, ask her to tell you when he isn’t using his power, and swarm the bastard when he can’t collapse a reality.

      • Speaking of her dad, who else thinks Taylor is going to reveal to him what she’s been doing all this time so Coil can’t blackmail her with it?

    • On the sniper: I was going to say ‘and won’t Coil be surprised when he learns that Skitter can now cover something like 12 city blocks with her power’, but he’ll just collapse that reality and bring in something better than a sniper next time.

      The Travelers won’t be our assassins because, frankly, they don’t have it in them. Except for potentially Trickster and Noelle. And the former’s power doesn’t really lend itself to assassinations, and the latter is too dangerous to let out of her bunker.

      I’m guessing it’ll be bringing in a ringer.

      • I actually think Trickster’s power lends itself extremely well to assassinations. Look what he did to Cherish. Or he could teleport the target to a mannequin next to him and immediately shoot them in the face.

        • I forgot how wide a range Skitter has now. She could find and attack him long before he sees her. I still think it will be a sniper or bomb, because he would have used another cape already if they worked for him. Skitter can “sweep” a wide area before going into it to find a sniper/bomb now, unless the sniper is really good. I think that Coil is underestimating Skitter. Ask Lung how that turned out for him.

          • Skitter’s range would be better if the creations Panacea made for her weren’t engineered to die out due to a lack of a digestive system. Didn’t Grue only use that power to fix Atlas up? Otherwise, all her rangebugs are dead and she only has as much a range as she’s always had.

          • I was under the impression that was only for Atlas. She mentions that Pancea didn’t think her relay bugs were a threat, and didn’t know just what she had given her. Taylor would also have mentioned that her extend range was only for a limited time. So I think that they have a digestive system. Best case scenario, they can breed. But Taylor’s not that lucky. But I am curious as to how they’re going to “pressure” a politician. With all the security in Washington, I picture her doing her human swarm trick from a secure location to scare the crap out of the mayoral candidates. Taylor will be on edge for a assassination attempt, so I now think a sniper is unlikely because that is what Taylor would be on the watch for. So now I’m thinking bomb, or poison. If I was her, I would only eat and drink things that I have prepared or bought myself.

      • Well, if I were to intercept a politician and try to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse, before the road trip would be pretty good. Preferably somewhere he’s not supposed to be, like hunt down any mistresses, have them call him up for a visit, like if they were a poorer woman stuck in the city who’s been insisting lately that he help her move out of there. Once he shows up, make sure the mistress isn’t around and have a nice little chat with the mayor.

        Along the way isn’t horrible. Lower security than in the Capital, and they’ll inevitably have to stop for bathroom breaks. Following them is much more noticeable, so you’d have to either have a lot of spare cars handy, a car that changes color, or you’d have to know ahead of time if they had a high probability to stop in this one place. Thing is, people will wonder if it takes them too long to get there. Leaving late or running a few minutes behind are expectable, but you could bring attention down if you take too long.

        In DC isn’t impossible. The city itself has a bit of a crime problem to keep supers and the police occupied. There may not be any special security detail for whatever hotel he stays in, but getting out could be much more difficult because it’s going to be an expensive one that might have some sort of lockdown policy. If you make a public scene of leaving, then they’ll know a visit was paid by his city’s villain to influence things and will provide protection accordingly. Actually, one of the better infiltration scenarios would be if he calls up an escort service, or if infiltration is made by pretending to be an escort service. With this group, posing as escorts wouldn’t work. He’s also unlikely to call one because his family will be with him. Their city is wrecked, heroes have been bloodied a bit, and the villains are taking control. He would want them out of there. Plus, a chance for them to see the nation’s capital.

        Stop by and see the actual-size replica in the memorial of Awesome Abe, the size-increasing super former president who was assassinated by the mysterious villain Curtain Call after the Civil War was won. (LoN readers may remember my mention of this). The same Civil War with the likes of U.S. Grant (patriotic themes), William Thermite Sherman (fire powers were used when marching through Atlanta), Ambrose Burnsides (his power was linked to his facial hair, made sideburns famous), Jubal Early (southern cavalry officer with who was never, ever late but was lost at some point in a temporal portal that left him black and stranded in the distant future, where he became a bounty hunter tracking River Tam), Nathan Bedford Forrest (nicknamed The Wizard of the Saddle due to his arcane cavalry, named after a famous early 1800s story about the amazing life of a mentally disabled man who enjoyed chocolates and made a fortune in the shrimping industry, possibly served as an important wizard in a racist postwar organization), Robert Eely (famous general who could become oilly and super agile, notoriously difficult to land a sword blow or gunshot on) and his second, Stonewall (capable of turning into a stone giant, he was killed when he was riding with his power off, not expecting to be shot by his own picket lines).

        But it is Genesis, Imp, and Skitter. On their own, a sympathetic bunch girls who might legitimately try to keep their city around and who don’t look like they could be those supervillains running around. Taylor’s dad even has some connections to just the kind of people the city uses to clean up and rebuild. Viewed another way, you have a woman who can tailor-make monsters that don’t have to stay near her in order to hunt down someone, a person who controls large groups of bugs in a wide area, and a girl who you can’t notice or remember. They’d be good at infiltrating and assassinating someone, useful to point out to a politician who you want to do things your way. Or they could meet him as the three concerned girls only to help save him and earn his trust by helping him survive an attack by Skitter, Genesis, and Imp. Odd that the one in the wheelchair fainted, and they lost track of the other girl whatever her name was, but he’d be more inclined to listen to someone who just helped to save his life.

        • I am willing to bet that Washington DC in this universe has some very highly protected hotels for politicians coming in. It would be unbelievable for there not to be exceedingly heavy security around the white house and anywhere that large groups of politicians could be attacked and slaughtered in seconds with the right powers.

    • Then again, this could be a ‘wheels within wheels’ sort of scenario. Coil may be anticipating this move by the Undersiders but is trying to delicately balance them against the Travelers and the problem comes back to an old saying…

      “You can fool all the people some of the time, or some of the people all of the time, but not all the people all of the time.”

      ie, the Noelle situation could be a dramatically Bad Thing about to erupt.

      Tattletale’s ‘warning’ could be a test as well. A test of Coil’s ability to function with out the crutch of Dinah and see how much he has become dependent on her capabilities. Dinah *has* been wrong in the past, it’s just that she’s more accurate than others (or so it would appear). If Coil can enact his ‘master plan’ without the liability of holding Dinah, then spinning her off to Skitter ‘to square a deal’ helps him out when folks come a-knockin’ looking for her… namely “Oh, Skitter took her from me. Do you need help bringing her in?”

  5. “”I think it was a bad idea to tip him off by making the deal in the first place.

    You have extra quotation marks at the beginning.

  6. This might be a silly nitpick, but the word nodded showed up ALOT in this chapter. Eleven times in total, and once they start showing up its like every four lines is just “so and so nodded”. It is kind of offputting.

    • For me it’s “spoke”.

      I hadn’t mentioned it before because I know the story’s already finished, but the frequency with which people “spoke”s irritates me every single chapter. Especially when it’s:

      “Blah blah blah”, someone spoke.

      I think better options might be:
      Someone spoke: “blah blah blah”,
      Someone spoke up/out, “Blah blah blah”,
      Or “Blah blah blah”, someone said.

  7. Skitter was definitely acting her age at the beginning there. As long as she steers clear of Atlas Shrugs though, I’m sure she’ll be fine.

    • She’ll be fine. She has to know that if Atlas does shrug, it means she’ll fall to her death while he keeps on flying above the city.

      …more literally, I’d LOVE to see what happens when you stick a rich objectivist on a desert island in the middle of nowhere so they can work on building their utopia. I’m sure a career on Wall Street lends itself to manual labor very well.

      (Warning: Anti-objectivist/John Galt style town of only rich people rant ahead. Guaranteed to be anvilicious in expanding on the phrase “You didn’t build that” so show that it means.)

      Yeah, Ayn Rand, I’m sure a town built by and made up solely of the rich will come along swimmingly. First they all have to agree on a place, and decide who is going to own the land (aka The Great Trump Versus Hilton Debate). Then they need the materials. Hopefully there’s wood in the area. First, however, they’d better figure out how to build an axe (using an axe someone else built? Moocher!) And drag it to wherever they need it. Don’t forget, more tools for building, as well as tools for mining and bringing back metal and coal to make even better tools. Oh, and one of these rich types needs to know how to purify water and a system of indoor plumbing. Without that, they’re stuck with outhouses. They’ll have to rely on dirt or gravel roads for awhile too, unless they somehow have their own access to that, but it’s also a project that benefits everyone (moochers!) so they may not want to. I mean, the alternative is that roads are built out of public money, but that’d be hypocritical, a bunch of rich types having to rely on others to make a simple road.

      The economic system of such a place wouldn’t be too hospitable for the rich types either. Foodwise, no restaurants. You think some white collar CEO is going to settle for a job waiting tables for people who don’t believe in minimum wage, health benefits, or holidays for workers? Nah, especially not when he’s got more than enough money to live comfortably. Same for cooks, except those are likely to take more pleasure than usual in preparing the food Fight Club style. Which means the restaurant will quickly fail as people realize why someone would cook for them. That’s assuming someone knows how to cook for themselves.

      Don’t forget that someone’s got to acquire that food. I mean, hunting for quayle (I’m either spelling that right, or someone’s killed a former Vice President) is one thing, but a deer is a whole nother thing. And it’s a different taste than whatever the hell rich people eat. The poor? Anyway, if you grow it, someone’s got to know how. And have seeds. And prepare plow a field by themselves, unless they know how to capture all those wild cows and horses that roam the American landscape so freely. And, you know, build a plow all by themselves. Weed it, keep it irrigated, and then starve to death while waiting for something to grow. Kind of one of those things where you need to have food already while you wait for more.

      Money would pretty much be rendered useless, anyway. Can’t really hold necessity of a product over anyone’s head because for the most part they’d all be capable of the same things by themselves. Maybe someone built a better hammer, they still did it with all the tools, ability, and effort that only one man can put into it so there’s no need for someone who loves money so much to spend it on that. Want to act smart and buy up all the hammers in town? Too bad, sucker, everyone will just make another one and leave you poor. Stop! Hammer time.

      I’m not sure I’d even want to delve into the shitstorm that would be their self-policing and their justice system. Do you really want to put that kind of power and authority who already proved they cared only about themselves by running away from civilization?

      Speaking of a lack of civilization, better hope no one gets all that seriously sick or injured. If they do, better hope someone can make a basic scalpel and other medical equipment. You’re shit out of luck on anesthesia too. Even the Civil War soldiers had whiskey, but that takes a bit of effort by farmers and cuts down on the food supply slightly. Then you have to distill it, including making decent enough distillation equipment.

      At least in one nice isolated town you won’t have to worry about shipping it to various places around the world via trucks (produced by factories of people, driven by people, fueled by gas that relies on others to pump and refine it, and travels along roads built by people out of materials not always found locally and using machines that are also produced in factories) or by airplanes (design an aircraft, acquire materials, refine them, build a workspace or factory, ship refined material to factory, produce parts, assemble parts, acquire oil, build something to pump it out, build something to store it, build refinery, refine to gasoline, build something to store THAT, build something to ship to place where aircraft is assembled, learn how to fly aircraft, travel to place where aircraft is going, build landing strip, travel back, fly aircraft, locate landing strip with equipment you made and designed yourself without ground control, hope fog doesn’t roll in, land plane by yourself after self-training, run to outhouse, take a dump after long flight as only pilot, create toilet paper or otherwise a method for wiping ass, go unload plane yourself, build new transport for goods there, get fuel to it somehow, transport it where you want it to go….)

      Oh, and then some of the whiskey has to be aged, so you have to wait for awhile. Hope you like gangrene and/or hopping around on one leg until you’ve whittled out a crutch.

      Oh, and watch out if you have any kids. Infant mortality will likely be horrible like that. And if you raise them to be as independent and objectivist as yourself, they’ll likely help you along to death so they can inherit your wealth so they don’t have to work. Sounds just as moochy as an estate tax, but without all the public benefit like hospitals, high speed rail lines from city to city, or police.

      Then again, even if you live a good life, you’ll still at least die a hypocrite. After all, even the richest and most independent minded among us were born inside the body of another, cared for as helpless babies by someone else who sacrificed time, effort, sleep, and dignity, and then educated by others. Sure, some of that education was public school, but it was still a place dependent on others for learning whether teachers or the actual researchers, authors, printers, and publishers who created those textbooks. Also the people who made the computers, the people who programmed the computers, and the people who try to protect the computers from people who like to bug them for fun. Your clothes? Made by other people out of material you never collected, dyed using processes and chemicals produced by others, shipped to the U.S. by others, and then bought by your parents who gave them to you. At least until you’re old enough to make your own money, which means relying on other people to buy whatever it is you’re selling. Because your boss pays you out of money he receives from his customers, who receive their money from whoever they work for or whatever business they run that relies on customers…

      It’s a different way of using Carl Sagan’s quote, but to make an apple pie you first have to invent the universe.

      • I never understood how they think they can isolate themselves. If the poor truly have nothing, then they have nothing else to lose. The French royalty acted the same way, and they got their heads cut off in a revolution. How do they know there won’t be Bane style uprising like in the Dark knight Rising?

        • Perhaps because they can f… a country, leave it completely destroyed to the next president, hinder all tentatives to solve the problem and still get half the votes in the next elections by saying that the guy didn`t do enough.
          If the poor can vote for the rich, I believe that the rich can expect the poor to simply die quietly when there is no more food.
          Only this is not how things work when people are really desperate.

          • I’m not going to get too into the discussion, because an argument’s liable to lose me readers, but I find it interesting that with a poll of people in 21 countries, only Pakistan said they’d prefer Romney to Obama. All in all, an average of ~50% of people in the poll would vote for Obama, and only 9% for Romney. BBC poll.

            Deleted bit about Fox news. My bad.

          • Wildbow, Unfortunately you just got caught by an urban rumor.
            Yes, Fox News doesn’t get broadcast in Canada. But that is because it doesn’t get Broadcast, period. Its a cable channel. 😛

            The BBC poll of 21 countries (, not the whole world, is also funny in that its really a measure of how unpopular Obama is in Pakistan, and how unknown Romney is. Romney never breaks 15% (except in Kenya, interestingly enough), but Obama is only 11% supported in Pakistan.
            I’ve seen some articles that indicate Israel favors Romney 2-1 (though that could be a similar 10% to 5%, haven’t seen the actual numbers) so pakistan may not be alone in favoring Romney, even if they don’t like the company.

            TL;DR: RolandTHTG spends waaaayyyy too long on the internets & you shouldn’t believe everything you hear on them.

            Thinking about Urban rumors though, what could be some in the Worm-verse?
            Skitter is actually an animated suit of insects?
            Bitch is actually a dog that got turned into a human?

          • Removed the bit about fox. Silly of me not to check.

            In any case, I’ll be watching the election with rapt attention, even if I’m not a US citizen. The US is big and influential enough that what happens there stands to have big effects on the rest of the world. Hoping Americans make the smart choice here.

          • Was funny that Iran messed up and reported on an Onion story claiming Ahmadinejad was more popular amongst rural white voters than President Obama.

            Thing is, if Ahmadinejad was Christian, he really would be.

            The Onion is great though and seems to have Dinah on their side, considering the humorous article about Al Qaeda getting frustrated that conspiracy theorists weren’t giving them credit for 9/11. A couple of years back, Al Qaeda actually expressed those sentiments in their own newsletter or magazine or whatever the publication was. Then there was the Onion’s article put out a few days before Bush’s inauguration, talking about selling off national parks to developers, going itno massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons, passing budget cuts that leave the mentally ill homeless, engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict within 4 years, implement substantial tax cuts which would lead to a recession which would then necessitate a tax hike, less consumer spending, and layoffs.

            To quote The Onion’s George W. Bush: “The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there’s much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation’s hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it.”

            The article is from January 17th, 2001. Looks like we know what Coil’s front operation is.

          • Apologies, PG, but your comment had some potential/likely TDKR spoilers in it. Or at least, they seemed spoilery to me, who is waiting for the DVD release. Removed your comment. If you want me to email it to you so you can revise/repost it, please let me know.

        • Didn’t think about that so much I guess. Ah well. I personally find The Joker Blogs to be a better sequel. They still need a little more work on the voice and makeup in the first episode, but it quickly gets better. Watch it all on Youtube. If you donated some to the making of the second series of it, you also could watch it on your digital copy and dvd copy of it.

          I stand by my assessment that the writers of DKR were anti-imagination for what they had Batman do in the 8 years between Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises. Considering the nature of Batman and all the villains of his, they chose the absolute worst way to account for his physical condition 8 years later.

          For other good Batman-related stuff to enjoy, there’s the ongoing story of Cat-tales. Starts off a bit like a slash-fic (don’t worry, no adult content) but is good and moves out of that territory before too long. The portrayals of Joker, Two Face, and Clayface are particularly well done. Might suffer a little bit from giving Catwoman some sue-ish traits (like I’m one to talk) while also portraying some other well known female villains as almost incompetent.

          • On the political front.
            I`ve seem two kinds of political scams in my life.
            The first was done by the military, they needed to create a golden age here, so, they borrowed a lot of money and well …not so bad. The built roads, nice prisons, universities, improved torture chambers, a huge hydroelectric plant that still provides much needed energy for a part of the country, sent my father to jail for a few days …
            In the end, the country spent two decades paying the debt and being called names by the same countries that did exactly the same recently.
            It is nice when the money is flowing, bad is paying the bills latter.
            The second scam came in Sarney`s (first civilian president in twenty years) government. They created an economic plan that generated some prosperity and ended inflation for a while, but instead of ending a phase of the plan in July reducing the prosperity at the end of the year but solving the problem in the long term they forced things to stay the same for too long, won the elections at the end of the year and … destroyed the economy for ten more years.
            Now I see a third scam: you destroy the economy of a country, leave it in ruins to the next guy and, if this guy is not a miraculous money maker, four years latter you come back and say: See, he couldn`t fix the country, vote in me again.
            You know, Romney is not very popular amid the few Brazilians with whom I talked about the subject. And I really think that life will get more difficult for us with him in power.
            Fortunately Brasil`s internal market has been improving.

  8. “They’d acted out the role of a married couple with none of ‘thie’ affection or fondness.” – You have in the ‘the’.

    Anyway, I kinda like how Coil specifically chose Genesis and Skitter to the ones who shake down the candidate. Of the Undersiders and the Travelers, they both have the ability to act very rational and both can incredibly intimidating at the same time.

    Skitter especially since all Genesis has to do is create a scary looking projection while Skitter has bugs and sheer reputation on her side. I mean her villainous debut involved covering a few dozen people in black widows, word from retired ABB members is she carved out Lung’s eyes the second (first as far as the publics aware) time she fought him and (for those with the clearance) nearly rotted him to death with bug venom the actual first time, and she literally took Mannequins apart when he threatened territory.

    For someone who only knows Skitter in story, she’s easily more frightening than anything Genesis can come up.

    • I think that is why Coil is going to try and kill Skitter. Because if you really think about it, she can kill you no matter how powerful your security is. How easy is it to direct a swarm of poisonous insect being carried by flying bugs through airvents, to hide them in a pillow, at a desk, your bathroom, etc. I think someone once said that there is a spider like twelve feet from you right now at all times. Imagine the paranoia that someone can control it to attack you. Coil probably realized that if Skitter ever tried to really kill him, she probably could without too much effort. But yeah, Skitter has become pretty scary. I kind of want her to run into the other two bullies in Washington now.

  9. Hmm there was a scene, I think it was an interlude a long time ago where Dinah told Coil the chances of holding the City and Dinah told Coil that his personal will change, maybe there is no traitor or bug but coil was clued in since that point and tattletale is ignoring the possibility of Dinah cause she is currently out of order.

    By the way would Aisha be able to erase Taylors knowledge of the plan with her ability, make her forget the possibility of it beiing imp?

  10. So from the drug bartering comment it sounds like Imp has run her mother out of the city, or maybe just all the people she was hanging out with. What bugs me is that Dina said there was a 70% chance the Undersiders would still be working for Coil at the completion of his plan; so is this the 30% or is there something else at work here? I also remember Dinah calculating her odds of going home at something around 30%, so is the chance of her going home the same as the Undersiders breaking with Coil?

    • Good catch on the mom thing. I completely forgot about her. Even better catch with the numbers. Now that I see the numbers I think that the odds of the Undersiders Leaving and the odds of her going home are the same. I’m sure that her odds going home have definitely changed now, and that will be the first thing she checks when she can use her power again. I would personally like to know what the odds are on who is going to kill Coil. He knows too much about them and is too big a threat to let walk away. I’m betting that Taylor will ultimately be the one to get rid of him. Actually killing someone for the first time would be big for character development and a big boost to her reputation.

  11. I wonder if the other Undersiders will realise that this is just as much a trap for them as it is for Skitter. He may genuinely be planning to kill Skitter, but that’s no guarantee that he actually wants her dead. It is possible that this is just a test to see how loyal Tattletale is to him, and to see how badly the others would react if he had to eliminate her.

  12. Interesting chapter. Indeed, it looks like capes don’t, generally, get Happily Ever After endings…

    Some edit suggestions:

    “leaving Brian and I alone once again” — Should be “Brian and me“.

    “so she was right next to Grue and I” — Ditto.

    “I just had to think of Panacea or Bitch and I had some damn good examples of that.” — Suggest inserting a comma after “Bitch”: the clauses before and after “and” are independent, so it’s a run-on. Also, not having a comma there makes it look, on first pass, like “Bitch and I” might be an example like “Panacea”.

    • I first read the line AFTER you made the suggested comma edit, and it still seemed wrong to me. I think it is because they are NOT really independent clauses; the second clause is built on the data from the first. How about:
      “I just had to think of Panacea or Bitch FOR some damn good examples of that.”
      Isn’t that what you really meant?

      Also — you still have the “Victfor” typo others mentioned.

  13. Something sad and funny in Tyler’s thoughts. One the one hand she actually thinks she doesn’t deserve to happy. That is terrible. On the other hand her awkwardness on how to act around her first sort of boyfriend is funny. She refuses to speak on the phone in the bathroom and and acknowledging that the romance in media isn’t realistic but still expecting it is kinda funny. But I feel part of her pain. Haven’t we all been in a situation where you’re comfortable and don’t want to get up, but you have to pee?

  14. just a small note, Victor is spelt wrong at “While we waited for Regent to go and bring Victfor out of his cell, Tattletale stepped close”

  15. “I’m not a cape geek like you.”
    Noted: Genesis is a “cake geek”.

    And: Coil wants to kill Skitter now that she’s done everything he needed her to do? Who could have seen this coming?!?

  16. “Skitter, Imp, Genesis” should say “Skitter, Trickster, Genesis” when Coil is telling them to go to Washington.

    • I’m getting confused about WHO is going to chat with the mayor (Skitter, Genesis, Imp, Trickster — 2 variants in-story & dozens in comments!), but the idea that ANY cape is going to Washington strikes me as weird. Coil said that the mayor and council WILL be going to DC and he wants a crew to go to the mayor TONIGHT and make sure he’s going to push for “Save Brockton Bay” WHEN the trip to DC occurs.

  17. Typo near the end:
    “While we waited for Regent to go and bring Victfor out of his cell, …”
    Victor was his name, I believe 😀

  18. I know it is a common thing to say in speech, but it bothered me that Coil said “If there’s no questions, that will be all.” I’d expect him to be more formal and correctly say “If there are no questions, that will be all.”

    But at least the word “hampered” wasn’t used again. The number of times that word was appearing at the end the Nine arc was killing me, almost as much as when “an” is used incorrectly instead of “a”.

    But honestly I’ve been enjoying the story far too much to stop and whine (whinge? haha) about such things. Not sure why Coil speaking incorrectly suddenly bothered me enough to post something now. Especially since it isn’t even ‘wrong’ since it is speech… but it just goes against my sense of the way a careful person like Coil should speak.

    This is some fantastic story telling!

  19. I know this is old (newcomer to worm) but noticed this and no one commented on it.
    “While we waited for Regent to go and bring Victfor out of his cell, ”
    Just a little typo. Great work wild bow; wish I’d found this story when it was new (was referred here through the ‘methods of rationality’).

      • Seriously? Based on the comment dates, at least four people had noted the SAME typo long before your comments! Might want to refresh and read all the comments before saying nobody mentioned it. Of course, it’s still there, so clearly wildbow didn’t think it worth fixing despite all the comments.

  20. “Skitter, Imp, Genesis, I would like you to visit him and ensure he argues towards our ends.”

    -Possible error, shouldn’t this be Trickster instead of Imp?

  21. “While we waited for Regent to go and bring >Victfor< out of his cell, Tattletale stepped close, so she was right next to Grue and me. She murmured, “One piece of good news, two pieces of bad news and one spot of catastrophic news. The good news is that Coil is impressed with you, Skitter.""

    Victfor! Just a small correction.

  22. “While we waited for Regent to go and bring Victfor out of his cell, Tattletale stepped close, so she was right next to Grue and me.”

    Victor is mispelled

  23. “While we waited for Regent to go and bring Victfor out”

    You probably don’t do corrections anymore but this is the first I’ve noticed since I’ve started. Thanks for the great read!

  24. After verifying that Trickster is free to help, Coil requests:

    “Skitter, Imp, Genesis, I would like you to visit him and ensure he argues towards our ends. Brockton Bay will stand, and it will recover.”

    I’m fairly certain you meant to say:

    “Skitter, Trickster, Genesis, …”

  25. Love the story and know this is old but you said Victfor not Victor near the end.
    again love the story

  26. 11 of the last 12 replies are about Victfor. Well I guess it will be corrected in the book, but still it is interesting to see that many people don’t check if a mistake has been found already.

  27. Didn’t realize this was a persistent type until this chapter. Until now, Victfor has been misspelled as “Victor.” Can’t believe I didn’t notice the error till now 😉

  28. “while we waited for regent to go and bring victfor”
    I think it’s a typo, unless it’s intentional and I don’t understand the meaning but thought I’d report it anyways.

  29. Maybe I’m a little slow (yeah, like 8 years late) but it took me to read this book twice to realize how Brian’s power actually reflects his view on self developing. He tries things, and drops them when feel confident enough. Learning wide, not deep. It is exactly how his new power works – it allows him to grasp many other powers, but not too deep. Those details are insane

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