Monarch 16.3

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Well, we’d gone up against Dragon, the Wards and the Protectorate at the same time, and our pains had earned us our hostage.  I was worried the next part would be harder.

Trickster started fishing through the pockets of the Director’s suit-jacket.

“Looking for this?” Imp held up the Director’s phone.

“Yeah,” Trickster replied.  He took the phone.  “There’s a chance it’s not scrambled.”

“Bad idea,” I said.  “If-”

I stopped when Grue reached over and blanketed the Director’s head in darkness.

“Don’t need her listening in if we’re talking strategy,” Grue explained.  “Go on.”

“If Dragon’s listening in on the call, and it sounded like she was, we might accidentally divulge some crucial info.  Or we could be alerting those suits to our location.  Or the location of whoever you’re calling.”  I finished.

“Might be.” Trickster replied, “But it’s handy to be able to contact others, and that might be worth the chance that we’d have to run again.”


Trickster went on, “We could call Tattletale right now, hop in the truck Imp brought and have her meet us somewhere secluded, or we could split up, with one or more people going ahead to pass word on to her, then wait for her to meet us, wasting a hell of a lot of time in the process.  Keep in mind the suits are still disabled.”

“There’s still the Protectorate and the Wards,” Grue said.

“The only ones capable of moving that fast are Assault and maybe Chariot,” I said.

“We’re short enough on time, and we need to know what happened to our other teammates,” Trickster said.

“It’s not a good idea.”  Grue folded his arms.

“I’m making the call anyways.  We can’t afford to wait.”

Grue stood there, literally fuming as the darkness roiled around him.  After a few long seconds, his pose relaxed and he held his hand out, “Then let me talk to her.  We have a password system.  The rest of you, keep an eye on her, and don’t forget to watch out for incoming threats.”

“Good man.  The two of us will be over there,” Trickster said, pointing to one area where sand and debris had been bulldozed into a small hill.  “Need to talk with ‘Dancer for a second.  Shout if you need a hand.”

I nodded.  Grue, Trickster and Sundancer all stepped away, leaving Regent, Shatterbird, Imp and I to watch over our hostage.

A minute passed, and she shifted position, her head leaving Grue’s darkness.

“Back up,” Regent warned.

“I have bad knees,” the Director said.  “I will if you make me, but it’s painful.  I suppose that could be a way of easing into torture, if that’s your style.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Regent said, uncharacteristically cheery.

“No,” I told him.  To her, I said, “Sit however you want.  We’ll cover you again if we start talking work.”

She gave me a curt nod.

“Maybe we should get her to command the suits?”  Regent asked.

“Won’t work,” the Director replied.

“Why’s that?”  Regent asked.

“I can send them in, I can tell them where to go or when to stand by, but they do what they’re programmed to, and they’re programmed to avoid attacking civilians and local heroes.”

“That didn’t stop the foam-spraying-”  Regent started.

“The Cawthorne model,” the Director interrupted.

“Sure.  That didn’t stop the Cawthorne thing from shooting Trickster when he had Kid Win hostage.”

“I expect Dragon accounted for the fact that you might take hostages and use the nonlethality restrictions of the A.I. against it.  She would have given the machines tools or strategies to work around it.”

“And you’re just volunteering this information?” I asked.

“I said it earlier, I think, but you’re not a stupid girl, Skitter.  Reckless, shortsighted, capricious, violent, even vicious… but not stupid.  I’m hoping you have the sense to realize how dangerous your current position is.  There will be more mechanical suits coming.  There will be heroes coming to Brockton Bay to assist us.  You can’t afford to hold this city, and we can’t afford to let you.  Not in the grand scheme of things.”

“She likes to jabber,” Imp said.  “Should we gag her?  Or make her stick her head back in the dark?”

“Might be better,” Regent answered, looking down at the Director.

“Need a cloth.  I could pull off a sock, jam in her mouth, maybe we tie it in there with Skitter’s silk.  My feet are sweating like crazy in these boots, so it’d be really gross.”

“No,” I said.  “We’re not going to humiliate her.  We get the information we need from her, see if we can’t use her as a hostage to leverage for peace.  That’s all.”

The Director shook her head.


“Extorting for peace when you started the war.”

“When are you saying we started the war?  When the ABB came after us and we fought back?  When we ambushed the fundraiser to embarrass you?  When we fought Leviathan and the Slaughterhouse Nine and then picked up the pieces ourselves, clearing our territories of the low-level threats while leaving the civilians more or less alone?”

“Except for Bitch.”

“We adjusted Bitch’s territory so she wouldn’t have as much cause to harass the locals, not so long ago.”

“I suppose that’s a consolation to the people she injured.”

“I’m not saying we’re perfect.  We aren’t.  But we’re doing something.

“So are we.”

“You’re not doing enough.”

“And when you subtract the blood you’ve spilled and the pain you’ve caused, have you really done that much more, Skitter?  That’s oversimplifying, obviously.  Right and wrong aren’t a matter of adding the good deeds and subtracting the bad.”

“I’m bad at math anyways,” Regent said.

The Director ignored him, her eyes on me.  “I presume you’ve been paying for the supplies and materials you’ve been importing to your territory with your own money?  You’ve been paying your people, I know.”


“How much damage was done in the course of earning that money?  I see the repercussions you don’t.  Things pass my desk: hospital bills, property damage, psychiatrist’s notes.  People lose their jobs, lose precious belongings.  Parents are woken in the middle of the night because their children are seriously injured.   I see the details from detectives in narcotics who track the drug trade-”


She interrupted me before I could protest.  “I know you don’t sell drugs, Skitter.  But you’re interacting with people who do.  If you buy a favor from someone who does, the Merchants, Coil, the Chosen, then you’re indirectly supporting that trade.  Just like you’re supporting any number of evils every time you help a fellow villain.  I’ve talked to homicide detectives who have dealt with the bodies in the wake of your shenanigans.”

“We don’t kill.”

“People die when you start feuds.  Bakuda was injured by you in one altercation, and she attacked the city over the course of several days.  Do you know how many people were harmed, then?  Because you set her off?  I could show you photos.  People with flesh melted off, frozen, burned, turned to glass.  When I don’t see these things in person, I see them on my desk, in high-definition glossy photos.  I could arrange for you to see the photos if you don’t believe me, or if you want to see the damage you’ve done for yourself.”

“No.  I don’t need to see them.”

She looked up at me, one eye half closed, both eyes bloodshot.  “Why is that, Skitter?  Are you afraid facing that reality would shatter this nice little delusion you’re living under?”

“I’m not to blame for whatever crimes Bakuda committed.”

“You played a role.”

“Anything she did is on her head, just like anything the Nine did is on them.”

“Where do you draw the line?  When do you start taking responsibility?  Or will you explain away every evil you’ve done and count only the actions you want?”

I could have protested, argued that I did take the blame for some things, I did blame myself for Dinah, for not seeing the bigger picture, for acting when I’d known Coil needed a distraction for something bigger.

“Hey,” Regent said.

I turned to face him.

“This is going nowhere.  Let’s wait until Tattletale can talk to her.”

“Right,” I said.  Not only had it been going nowhere, but she’d had had the upper hand, so to speak.  Not necessarily in the strength or validity of her arguments, but in the psychological and emotional sense.  I’d failed to budge her and she’d provoked a response from me.

The Director didn’t open her mouth again, apparently satisfied.

Grue returned with Trickster and Sundancer following behind him.  “Imp, where’s the truck you used to get here?”

“You passed it as you came here.”

“We’ll have to be careful,” Grue said,  “Anything from the Protectorate, her included, may be bugged.  No talking about anything sensitive on our way back, and we’ll ditch it asap.”

We nodded.  I had only the one good arm, my other shoulder still tender, so I walked around to the Director’s left side to grab her under the shoulder and help haul her to her feet.

I was surprised that she cooperated.  If she’d delayed us by forcing us to carry her, she might have bought time for reinforcements to arrive.  If we’d forced the issue with violence, it would have reinforced her argument.

In her shoes, I might have done it, just to apply that stress to my enemy.  It said something that she didn’t.  I just wasn’t sure what.

We emerged from the truck at the rear of a liquor store.  Tattletale stood in the open doorway of the loading area with Brooks and Minor beside her.

We hauled the Director out of the back of the truck.  Grue had covered her in darkness to keep her unawares, and she looked more than a little disoriented.  Her hair was in disarray and she couldn’t fix it with the cuffs on, and the effects of the capsaicin hadn’t entirely worn off; her eyes were puffy, her face red.

But when she looked at Tattletale, the smallest smile touched her lips.

“What’s this, Piggot?” Tattletale asked, hopping down from the ledge to the parking lot.  “Looking forward to a duel of wits?”

Director Piggot shook her head, still smiling.

“Staying mum?  Lips sealed, so you can’t betray vital information?”

“I trust you’ll get it anyways,” the Director replied.

“First things first,” Grue said, “Are we bugged?”

“The truck is.  But we’ll have my guy drive it a ways and then leave it somewhere.”  Tattletale jerked a thumb towards Minor, and he marched over to the truck, catching the keys as Grue tossed them.

“They’ll know the truck stopped here,” the Director said.

“I know.  We’re going to go for a walk,” Tattletale said.  “Up for that?”

“I don’t think I have a choice, do I?”


We headed down a back alley.  I saw the Director struggling to keep her feet under her, her pumps sloshing in shallow water.  She stumbled once, and I put a hand out to steady her.  I was more likely to be crushed beneath her than to catch her if she fell, but at the same time, I wasn’t sure we could get her off the ground without uncuffing her if she did slip.

I didn’t like her.  Maybe that was an obvious conclusion for me to come to, but she reminded me of my high school principal in some ways: she was the authority figure, the person who embodied an institution I had no respect for.  On a more concrete level, she was indirectly or directly responsible for Armsmaster, for Sophia and the other bullies getting away with what they did.

Even on a basic, abstract level, she reminded me of Emma in how quickly and easily she’d gone for the throat in trying to cut me down and provoke a reaction from me.  Again, much like Emma, it was all the more nettling because she wasn’t entirely wrong.

“You have our teammates in custody?” Tattletale asked.

The Director didn’t respond.

“That’s a no.  Which means they’re either injured or dead and you aren’t aware, or they’re holed up and can’t leave their territory because of the suits that are sitting there.”

“Perhaps.”  Even with the unsteady footing, the Director was focusing more on Tattletale than where she was going, studying her.  But I knew that if I could see that much, Tattletale would as well.

“Is Dragon in town?”

“Last I saw,” the Director replied, hedging.

“She’s gone,” Tattletale said, for the benefit of the rest of us.  “Another task.  Wouldn’t be an Endbringer.  Not yet.  The Nine.”


“Want to give up the information now, spare me the hassle of twenty questions?”

“My delaying you means the other models have a chance to find and arrest your teammates.  You’ll have to ask.”

“We have other tools at our disposal,” Tattletale glanced at Regent.

“And I know Regent takes anywhere from fifteen minutes to two and a half hours to take control.”

“After which point you wouldn’t ever be able to work in this town again.”

“Taking the same approach you did with Shadow Stalker?”  The Director asked.

I raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, like Shadow Stalker,” Tattletale replied.

“We have records from when Regent worked for Heartbreaker, under his previous name, Hijack.  Interviews with people Regent controlled.”

“Good for you,” Regent replied.

“I know his power gets weaker as you spread it thin, control slips.  You can’t afford to loosen your hold on Shatterbird, so no, I don’t think you’ll try to take control of me.”

“And you believe that,” Tattletale said.  “Enough that you’re confident.  You aren’t worried here, even when you’ve been taken hostage.”

“Which leaves you the options of playing twenty questions to get all the information you need, or you can try something more dire.  Torture?”

“That’s the second time she’s brought that up,” I said.

“Because she’s trying to get a sense of us,” Tattletale said.  “She wants to see our reactions and body language as the subject comes up.”

“Yes,” the Director said.  “Based on that much, I’m almost certain you wouldn’t torture me and you aren’t the type to kill unless absolutely backed against the wall.  Which means I can be home before midnight.”

“A little optimistic,” Trickster growled the words.

“I don’t think so,” Director Piggot replied, turning to level a glare at him.  She looked almost feral, even as her voice was controlled.  “See, I know you might try to kill me if these others weren’t around.  But the others won’t let you.  There’s Regent too: little to no compunctions, as we saw with Shadow Stalker.”

Her eye darted to Tattletale, then to Grue, and finally to me.

“Do they know the full story?” the Director asked.

“No,” Tattletale replied.  She sighed a little.

“Tell us what?” I asked.

“I’m interested, too,” Grue added.

The Director only smiled.

“Do you trust me?”  Lisa asked.

“Pretty much,” I replied.  “A little bit less right now than I did a minute ago.”

“Fair.  She’s trying to derail our interrogation.  She knows we won’t get violent with her to get the details we need, but I’ll be able to get the answers out of her with a bit of time to ask and apply my power.  Knowing this, she’s trying to fuck with us, set us against each other, and delay us.”

I nodded slowly, glancing between Tattletale and Director Piggot.

Tattletale shrugged, “If you trust me, can you agree to drop the subject?  I’ll explain before too long.”

“Knowing is half the battle,” the Director said.  “Only half.  Being aware of what I’m doing doesn’t stop me.  I’ve learned a lot since you took me hostage, and I already knew some things from research, observation, paperwork and background checks.  I have a read on your personalities and how you operate, and I know some background details.  How is your brother, Tattletale? Sarah?”


I glanced at Tattletale, saw a flicker of emotion cross her face before she smirked, wagged a finger at the Director and spoke with a touch too much cheer, “Low blow.”

“I’ve been looking forward to having a conversation with you for some time, playing it out in my head.  I paid out of my own pocket for information so I can beat you at your own game.  You would have done well to erase the trail leading back home, Sarah.  But then, that would have required thinking about it, maybe even going back.”

“You’re glad we took you hostage.”

Piggot smiled.  It wasn’t pretty.

“Ball’s still in our court,” Tattletale said.

“But you have a time limit.  Like I said, I expect to be home and in my bed before the night’s out.”

“You have a card up your sleeve, leverage.”

“In a way.  I’m dying.”

Our group had been walking across a street, and we all stopped to look at her.

“You need constant medical care?” Tattletale said.

“I have a setup at home.  Hemodialysis.  I hook myself up to it every night, flush my blood of excess water and pollutants over the course of eight hours while I’m sleeping.  If I don’t get the dialysis, I expect I’ll go downhill very quickly.  My body’s already in rough shape, and I’ve overworked myself these past few weeks.  I wouldn’t die that quickly, but you wouldn’t get any use out of me, either.  So we get to enjoy each other’s company for about five or six hours.  Then you decide whether you let me go home or whether you let me die.”

“And in the meantime, you intend to stall.”

“To the best of my ability,” the Director said.

“What suit did they send against Bitch?  Hellhound?”

“Did you know your parents are still looking for you?  They never stopped.”

Tattletale pursed her lips.  “A model Dragon’s used before?”

“You should have seen the looks on their faces when I told them you were alive and well,” Piggot said.  She measured the look on Tattletale’s face, smiled.  “Yes, I visited them in person.”

Tattletale’s eyes narrowed.  “I could turn the tables on you, pick you apart.”

“Please do.  Waste time.  You won’t accomplish much.  Look at me.  You know as well as I do that I wear my shame and disappointment on the outside, for the world to see.  I had the muscles of my legs torn apart years ago on the job, lost the ability to keep up exercise, coupled with hours behind a desk, hours of the dialysis and recovery from surgeries, no time to take care of myself with work.  I know I’m ugly, I know I’m fat.  There’s nothing you could say to me that I haven’t said to myself a hundred times over.”

“You sound almost proud,” Trickster said, a hint of disgust in his voice.

“I have no powers, Trickster.  I’m lowly, a mere mortal compared to you.  I admit it, I admit I’m weaker, slower, my options are pretty limited in a fight.  But I’m tenacious.  I’m shameless, if I have to be, because I refuse to lose to you.”  Her voice bordered on a growl as she uttered the word ‘refuse’.

This was the director of the PRT?  Hearing her speak, I’d almost thought she was like Coil, at first.  Cultured, proud, arrogant.  Now that she was showing her true colors, it was almost the opposite.  And strangely, it was equally problematic.

A fleck of spit flew from her lips as she continued her rant, “And I find it pretty fucking poetic that I have the upper hand because of the very things that you capes look down on us for.  I’m fat, frail, scarred, and I have old wounds that I’ll never recover from.  But because of that, because I could die in a matter of hours if you don’t let me seek treatment, you’re either going to have to compromise with your personal code or you’re going to have to let me walk away and find another way to beat Dragon.”

This isn’t working.

“Trickster, watch her,” I said.  “Sundancer, you and the medic watch Trickster and the Director.  Rest of you with me.  We’ll talk over there.”

We retreated from the woman.

Regent ran his fingers through his hair.  Tattletale had her arms folded as she leaned against a wall, staring at the ground.  She wasn’t smiling, and she wasn’t venturing to comment.

“What’re you thinking?” I asked.

“This isn’t working, obviously.”

“We could take her to her house, give her the treatment she needs,” Grue said.

“That’s what she wants.  There’s a trap there.  Either she’s got some measures in place at home, guns hidden where she can get at them or some kind of safe room, or the PRT is already there, waiting to ambush us.”

“I could control her,” Regent said.  “Send Shatterbird back, lock her up, get control.”

“Which would take time, again,” Tattletale said.  “The benefits would be negligible, and it would take longer than you think, because she’s trained in resisting mental and emotional attacks.”

“I wouldn’t have thought,” I commented.

Tattletale shook her head, “Let’s figure it’s half an hour for Shatterbird to get snug in her cage.  Two or three hours to get control of her… and for what?  They have an idea we captured her.  If they haven’t revoked her access and powers by now, they will have by the time Regent’s finished with her.  So how do we use her?”

“We’re running out of time,” Grue said.  “It’s maybe two or three in the afternoon.  That gives us maybe twenty hours to get this done by Coil’s schedule.  Brainstorm.  More ideas, come on.”

“We could abandon the job.  Say fuck you to Coil, let his grand plan fall apart,” Regent said.  “Get Bitch and leave town.”

“I don’t like that,” Grue said.  “On a lot of levels.”

“Sure, sure.  But it’s the most obvious choice.”

“Not an option as far as I’m concerned,” I replied.  “I won’t blame you guys if you want to do that, but I gotta do this, finish the job or fail trying.”

“Okay, I sort of expected you to say that.  Um, hear me out on this before jumping down my throat, but why don’t we torture her?  She’s been begging for it, practically.”

I stared at him.

“Torture doesn’t work,” Grue said.

“Without getting into too much detail, I’d say it does.  Sometimes,” Regent replied.

“Not with someone like her,” Tattletale said, sighing.  “Even if she didn’t have a background in that sort of thing, her personality… if anything I think she’d be glad we did it.  Not while we were doing it, but it’d validate her view of the world.”

“Which is?” Grue asked.

“That we’re monsters.  In her eyes, our trigger events highlight a moment at the worst point of our lives and our powers make it so we can never put that behind us.  Good guy or bad, she sees us as walking personifications of whatever issues drove us to get our powers in the first place, inflicting some shadow or abstract representation of those traumas on others with our powers.”

“How can someone educated and professional like her think that way?”  Grue asked.

“For one thing, she’s not all that wrong,” Tattletale replied, shrugging.


“We are.  But even people without powers are walking issues.  That’s no big surprise.  Having powers just… makes it all more noticeable.  Piggot’s suffering from some tunnel vision, is all.  Happens with any bigot.  Anyways, my point was, if we torture her, we’re only reinforcing her worldview.  It would almost negate any psychological stress we put her under.  No, torture is out for a few reasons.”

“What if we give her treatment?”  I asked.  “Not at her house.  Off-site.”

“We’d be showing our hand, maybe cluing her in to our connection with Coil, and it would still take time we don’t have,” Grue answered.  “Nothing saying we’d get enough in the way of answers to be worth the time spent.”

“I don’t see what was wrong with my suggestion,” Imp said.

“Which was?”

Imp pulled off her boot and then peeled off a knee-high sock, wiggled her toes before jamming her bare foot back in the boot.  She stretched out the sock, “Gag the fatty.”

“I need her to answer if I’m going to get the detail we need in any reasonable length of time,” Tattletale said.

“She’s not answering anyways, right?  Get what you need from her body language.”

Tattletale frowned.  “Yeah.  You’re right.  But it’s going to take time.”

“And we’re operating in the dark until then,” Grue said.

“We did okay with the last fight,” Imp said.

“Barely,” I cut in, at the same moment Grue said, “We didn’t-“

“We walked away,” Imp clarified.

“Where are you on the other thing, what you were talking to Coil about?”  I asked Tattletale.

“Trying to get info.  It’s hard with the way communications are down.  We sent some soldiers out in trucks, each going down a different major road in the hopes of getting far enough away to get cell service.  Then they gotta get back here to bring me what they got.”

“Time’s our most valuable resource here,” Grue said.

I spoke up, “I don’t think we can afford to wait until we hear from your soldiers or the Director.”

“Heading out?”

I nodded, pointing towards the others.  We rejoined Trickster, Sundancer and Brooks.  Imp shoved her sock in the Director’s mouth and took the silk cord I offered, tying it in place.

“Careful,” I said.  “Trouble with this sort of gag is that if she pukes, she could choke on her own vomit.”

“How do you know these things?” Regent asked.

“I’ll be careful,” Tattletale assured me.

“Let’s plan, then.  Tattletale, any idea if the other suits would be active yet?  The ones we had Piggot shut down?”

“Not yet, but soon.”

“Then I’m thinking we should split up into two teams” I said.  “Strike while the other three suits are shut down and waiting for Dragon’s attention.  If we can rescue our teammates, we’ll be half-again as strong.”

“We don’t have the firepower to fight those things,” Trickster said.

“We have lots of firepower,” I replied.  “Problem is they have a lot more.  So pick your fights, strike at the right time and hit hard.  Play dirty, don’t give them a chance if you can help it.  Grue, you should go with Sundancer and Trickster, so we’ve got even numbers on both sides.”

“You sure?”

“Your power works well with Sundancer, keeps the enemy unaware until she can get that miniature sun close, and you can keep them off the machine’s radar, thermals or whatever.  Hopefully.”

“And you?”

“My bugs will give us early warning if a suit’s nearby, and they might alert me if there’s radar or anything subsonic.  If Regent and Imp come with me, we’ll have some firepower from Shatterbird.”


“My team will go see if we can find Bitch, rescue her from whatever they sent after her.  You guys do what you can to rescue Ballistic, then hunker down.  If you succeed, stay put, wait for us.  If we don’t arrive before dark, assume we lost, mount a rescue.  If you aren’t there, we’ll assume the same.”

“Sounds good,” Grue said.

“Either way, we’ll figure out where we’re going from there.”

The Director raised her head, staring up at the sky.

“You have something you want to say?”  Tattletale asked.

The Director shrugged.

Tattletale removed the gag.  “What?”

“I’m looking forward to this.”

“Which part?”  Tattletale asked.  “The interrogation?  The rescue mission?”

“The fight.  Seven suits in this city right now.  The Melusine-six, Cawthorne M.K. Three, the Glaurung Zero, the Ladon-two, the Astaroth-Nidhug, the Pythios-two.  That’s six ships right there, that Dragon explained were old models.  Previous versions of her suits that were cannibalized for parts, abandoned after taking severe damage and recently repaired or simply outdated.”

“And the seventh?”

“The Azazel.  Note that there’s no version number.  It’s a fresh design, crafted to go up against the Nine and put up a serious fight.  The first truly original suit she’s made in four years, and I assure you that Dragon has advanced her skills in that timeframe.  If that isn’t enough of a pedigree, the Azazel was created by Dragon working in tandem with her new partner, a fellow tinker.”


She saw the reaction from us, smiled a little.

“Yes.  A new partner.  It was his suggestion that we park the suits here when they aren’t needed.  And even though I know he’s a new cape, nobody you’d know, certainly nobody who’d have a grudge,” she smirked a little, “I think it’s a safe bet to say he had you in mind when he was building it.”

Tattletale jammed the sock into Piggot’s mouth and turned to us.  “Which ones did you fight?”

“Foam sprayer, drone deployer, forcefield generator and a wheel-dragon with electricity and some electromagnet,” I said.

“Cawthorne, Glaurung, Ladon, Pythios, I’d guess, with only the names and what little I’ve seen of Dragon to go by.  That leaves the Astaroth-Nidhug, Melusine and the Azazel.  One went after Ballistic, another after Genesis, and a third went after Bitch.”

“Meaning that with the way we’re splitting up and taking on whatever machines attacked our missing teammates, each of our groups has a one-in-three chance of going up against this Azazel,” I concluded.

“Better cross your fingers,” Tattletale suggested.

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165 thoughts on “Monarch 16.3

  1. There’s some confusion right at the start. There’s a “He replied” that I thought at first was Grue because he’s the last male to have talked, except Grue is against phoning so it must be Trickster, then two lines from unknown speakers,

    • Highjacking top comment, so you can read this while your editing (if not in this part somewhere in the story). There is a minor plothole in this section. The fact that Piggot is still injured is surprising considering she has had contact with Panacea months if not years before she went villain. You may want to add something about her seeing her injuries as some sort of badge of honor or something. To explain why she still has them. TT could mention it why she explains her world veiw.

      • I seem to remember Panacea had this “rules” about not modifying anything that was already a part of the person, meaning she would mend recent injuries but not scars, remember she refused to heal the small damage in Taylor’s brain and fine movements on one hand. Panacea started messing with the actual structure and nature of things only in The Nine plotline. Also Piggy hates capes, I’d figure she’d rather live in that state, with pride even, than asking for a “freak” for help.

        • Pretty sure her rule was just “no brains”. She didn’t mend Taylor’s brain because it’s her brain, and she didn’t mend Taylor’s hand/arm because it would heal naturally and she had an entire hospital of crippled capes to work through.

      • I was just thinking about this on my third journey through the archives section and I came up with the possible answers outlined above.

  2. [because she’s trained in resisting mental and emotional attacks, and “

    “I wouldn’t have thought,” I commented.]

    and what? What wouldn’t Skitter have thought?

  3. “Which would take time, again,” Tattletale said. ”The benefits would be negligible, and it would take longer than you think, because she’s trained in resisting mental and emotional attacks, and “

    Was there supposed to be something after the and?

    Now, breaking Piggot would take some time on my part. I actually have an idea or two, but serious thought must wait until midnight pacific time and until whenever I’m done with the alcohol. In the meantime, if they could find a way to adequately recreate regular bullying teenagers ganging up on Piggot, that’d do a number on her.

      • Truth be told, wouldn’t break her int he sense of getting information. It’d just be fun to watch her defeated. I downright say they can do a great job getting information by letting her continue blabbing. Like a reverse interrogation, most notably seen in The Avengers, but also shown on Burn Notice before. Except this time it is a reverse interrogation on someone they’re interrogating.

        She’s still sensitive about her being fat, scarred, and ugly. Coupled with what she says about all the death and destruction and roles played, you could turn around a lot of what she says on her. She has to be so tenacious because she just keeps failing. Of all cities, hers is the one that couldn’t keep its villains handled. She personally oversaw it straight to hell. Couldn’t keep a handle on the ABB. Couldn’t even quickly take down Empire 88 after their identities were exposed. Leviathan wrecked the city and there wasn’t much to do about that, but then a bunch of meth heads become a powerful group and she can’t stop them. That’s handled by the Slaughterhouse 9 and the only weapons she has to use against them were provided by one of those ABB members she was helpless to stop. The teen villains are now taking over the city and the remnants of E88 are STILL flying around out there.

        I guess she really was useless after those injures. Doesn’t matter how tenacious she is. A chihuahua can chew on your toe all night without killing you. And at least some people think chihuahuas are cute.

        • Would have been awesome if they’d had Panacea without the heroes being aware (obviously not the case) since this would have been the point to say.

          Okay, well we’ll remove the injuries, restore your kidneys and generally de-age you to that soldier you used to be. Then we’ll kick your ass anyway.

  4. Her name is Sarah, and she has both her parents and a brother. Notice she says her parents miss her, this implies they didn’t do anything to her and she asks how her brother is. Does this mean she left with her brother? Well regardless, Skitter has always had a weakness with arguing her points. She could bring up shadowstalker’s bullying, the fact that the ABB would have been even worse without them hitting them too and taking out lung, and the fact that they did nothing while the 9 attacked. I think Tattletale could still break her and interrogate her for the skeletons in the PRT closet if they have time, but her medical issues are a problem. The fact that she doesn’t know where Bitch implies that the suits have a private holding area they bring them too. So its the basic attack plan as before, but I’m not sure how wise it is to split up. Granted they have a timetable but I think it would be easier to gang up on one suit and take it down. My prediction, they have bad luck as always and though they take down one or two suits Skitter gets captured. She has an interesting conversation with Dragon that has big possibilities.

    • Bringing up Shadowstalker’s bullying would almost certainly reveal Skitter’s real identity. At that point, her family is at risk.

  5. resisting mental and emotional attacks, and ”
    This line seems to end a little abruptly, considering the next line. Is Skitter interrupting?

    A very Tattletale and Piggot centered chapter, with Taylor also really coming into her own as a leader. It flowed well with the mutual pschoanalyzing. Importantly, Piggot doesn’t seem to be the type who wouldn’t care at all that she enabled bullies to make Taylor’s life a living hell. Personal experiences with bullying make me biased about this, but that makes me hate her so much. Before, I could at least sympathize. Now, she just feels like someone who completely ignores her own faults. I hope that was the intended audience reaction, or I’m missing something.

    Looking forward to the next chapter!

    • Yeah I think that it wouldn’t be too hard for Tattletale to point out how she is much worse than they are, but the problem is time. They don’t kill, so they only have a few hours to let her go. But she made a BIG mistake. She pissed off Tattletale. She gave her all of the reason in the world to look into Piggot/PRT past to get info to use against her.

      • Piggot is only really worse than them in a small picture sense. In the small scale what she allowed Sophia to keep doing is pretty awful. Once you start scaling things up though that argument starts falling apart.

        • Really? She destroyed at least one young cape’s faith in legitimate authority, leading to that cape turning villain. It’s entirely possible that her policies have created other villains by that means.

          • So Piggot should have sent Armsmaster to jail to save Triumph’s faith, and give up the dragon suits and their ability to effectively pursue the nine. That is just another example of small scale vs large scale. Triumph’s faith is ultimately a small price to pay for the death of the nine and the reclamation of Brockton Bay.

          • No, she should have sent Armsmaster to jail long before he and Dragon had the means to blackmail the PRH like that, to show to the villains that the rules apply to everyone. At least, knowing what she knew – Dragon’s infatuation with him complicates the matter further, but Dragon runs the Birdcage.

            My general point is that unethical behavior has a long-term cost that is rarely worth it. Were Shadow Stalker’s services as a hero worth the dead bodies, negative PR, and easily forseeable risk of her bullying causing a trigger event?

          • Every cynical action Piggot has taken based on her view of supers as freaks that need a good killin’ every once in awhile is the result of her losing faith in supers because a few of them fled once. The large scale is made up of smaller scales and their consequences.

            To allegedly quote Abraham Lincoln on meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” You know, because sometimes a book helps massive casualties. Or a scam movie trailer causes it. Or a newspaper sensationalizes a conflict just before a powerful nation’s ship blows up due to error right near there.

          • Sending Armsmaster to jail that early prevents your forces from ever having the analysis visors that let him fight an endbringer solo. That tech is game changing once you start mass producing it.

            How many rapes, murders, and assaults does Shadow Stalker have to prevent before her bullying and initial murders get balanced out? After a certain point it does happen. If you don’t think you can make up for that sort of thing then Taylor should be on your shit list too. She deliberately terrorizes people with her spiders after all. She is just lucky she hasn’t made anyone trigger yet.

          • I really doubt Piggot had clear knowledge regarding the amount of harassment Sophia was directing towards Taylor. She probably understood that Sophia was violent and emotionally unstable, and she probably knew that Sophia had been subject to some level of investigation at school. However, she’s a manager of a citywide organization, she can’t be expected to personally resolve all of the problems caused by her employees. I also think Piggot could reasonably rely on the school’s administration to remedy any problems Sophia might have been causing at school.

            Piggot obviously decided that the potential liabilities of keeping Shadow Stalker as a Ward were outweighed by the potential benefits. Clearly this decision had some distinctly negative ramifications, but I think we need to remember that it’s often extremely difficult to predict the potential long term effects of one’s actions.

            Overall, I just don’t really see any reason to hate Piggot from what we know of her. I think her actions definitely need to be questioned and I’m skeptical of her motivations and worldview, but she thought she was making the best possible decisions she could in the moment.

          • Hm… I suppose that just because I don’t remember Shadow Stalker ever saving anyone doesn’t mean she doesn’t do it. For one thing, I have a terrible memory, and even people with normal ones are known to forget good things about people they hate. And Wildbow doesn’t show nearly everything anyway.

            There are things they could have paid Armsmaster with to get him inventing tech for them in jail.

          • With regards to Shadow Stalker, I believe she and Flechette intervened in an attempted rape or assault awhile back while on rounds. As I recall, they thoroughly subdued the criminals, and then Sophia gave the victim a chance to beat the criminals.

          • Firstly, Piggot not intervening created Skitter so consequentialism is against her quite plainly.

            Secondly, if she’s arguing against Skitter’s consequentialist approach then using the same position is nonsensical.

            Thirdly, Triumph’s loss of Faith could lead him down the same path as Skitter. That’s hardly difficult to see or predict. For all that we can see this kind of long term brutal planning in Piggot, she is actually pretty bad at getting results out of it.

        • Cape association creates powers. Thus Sophia’s bullying was likely to make a villain.

          Also the heroes don’t get to make this kind of utilitarian argument.

          The consequences ‘may’ have been worse for the undersiders’ actions but what they actually did…the scale of bad actions is very much against the heroes.

          • If I may support Anzer’ke’s argument with a quote:
            “And when you subtract the blood you’ve spilled and the pain you’ve caused, have you really done that much more, Skitter? That’s oversimplifying, obviously. Right and wrong aren’t a matter of adding the good deeds and subtracting the bad.” – Piggot

            There you have it, the person people are defending admitting that just because she’s done good that is perceived to outweigh the bad, doesn’t mean that she should be seen as good. The same reason she wants to claim Skitter can’t see herself as good is quite easily turned back upon her, unless she’s a hypocrite as well. Brings it down to a conflict between lawful and chaotic, not helped by Piggot’s thinking like a soldier and not like a cop.

            Because on the very likely chance they’d miss a bunch of the villains they attacked, the two close-knit teams may likely refuse to just surrender or leave the city knowing an ally is unaccounted for or pinned down by the law people.

            The whole “refuse to lose” mess helps show this since it shows a dichotomy of win or lose in there. But sometimes conflicts need to be resolved instead of (or in addition to) won since the supposed win can potentially breed further belligerants later on. Don’t worry, most people won’t go for resolution. Human brain is hardwired to win, even when knowing they’re in the wrong.

  6. Wildbow, your story has been invading my sleep >.<

    Last night I had a dream that Coil broke into my house and woke me up so he could look through my pantry for ingredients to make a red velvet cake.

    • Part of a dream I had the other night included checking for a new update to Worm and only finding a short, hastily written ending that left a lot of things unaccounted for.

      It wasn’t as fun as that time I was a vampire killing ghosts in a ruined temple to keep them from completing a magical ritual which turned out to bring the first three Ghostbusters back to life to fight us vampires. I believe it ended with me chasing after them with a magical sword that was on fire when it was fully charged, singing “Hellfire” from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame to taunt them.

      Good times.

      • I know I should know better by now, but I just have to wonder what could cause that second dream.

        The first one, however, I can completely understand.

        • I don’t know what caused the second dream. It was fun though. Despite what people think and ask about, I’m not actually on any drugs. Try to avoid taking too many, especially given things like bacterial resistance to antibiotics and headaches caused from taking pain pills for headaches too often.

          • And I know I’m drinking tonight, but I’m doing a poor job at getting drunk and I don’t drink very often. But I’m not a soberholic. I swear, I can get drunk anytime I want.

  7. Despite everything I know that she went through in the interlude, I really don’t like Piggot either.
    I’m curious though what she’d say if she were told that, in a way, she caused Taylors breakthrough and is therefore, arguing by her logic, responsible for everything Skitter does.

    I’m also curious about the Azazel. Capable of going against the Nine and taylored against Skitter by a certain Tinker completely without a grudge on her…
    The Bug Zapper seems guaranteed in the loadout. Should be an interesting fight that I look forward to.

    • Actually it might be designed to capture her. Armsmaster admitted that he was sorry with how he treated her, not to mention that Dragon has already figured out her true identity, and probably told him. Knowing her background might make him even more remorseful for what he did. One suit mentions that she really wants to talk to her. Who knows, maybe he will try to do something to try and make up for what he did to her.

      • I’d be really disappointed in Colin if he turns out to be holding a grudge against Skitter, not particularly surprised, but disappointed. There’s nothing that Taylor did to Armsmaster which Armsmaster didn’t do to himself.

        If worst comes to worst, he atleast might hold back to please his robo-girlfriend.

        • I’ll be slightly disappointed in Skitter if she assumes that the mecha were left there to fuck with her as a condition for Armsmaster’s help. Not all that surprised, though; she doesn’t know that Armsmaster regrets his crimes.

          • Given his last actions to her knowledge, that’s fair enough. The last she saw of him he was further wrecking her life purely out of spite for getting caught doing something wrong.

  8. Uh, Piggot? I don’t think you can play the “plucky baseline” card when you’re a head honcho of the local superhero team, have the authority to call down airstrikes, and just got fire-spewing super-mecha at your beck and call.

  9. Heh…I have an idea…mwahaha…get into a fight. Make sure conflicts with other supers lasts a long time, long enough that Piggot realizes they won’t kill her, but they might not be able to save her.

    • How does that help them though? If I was Piggot in that case I wouldn’t tell them jackshit. They just signed your death warrant, why would that push you to do anything other than make things more difficult?

      • Nah, they wouldn’t sign her death warrant of their own volition. If someone else, like a group of heroes, shows up and threatens to have it signed through circumstance, Piggot may become desperate enough to be released that she’ll talk.

        • So you would blame the rescuers for trying to save Piggot? That is ridiculous. You blame kidnappers for the death of their victims.

          • You’re not getting me once again. If all they did was leave Piggot chained somewhere while they went to rescue Bitch and then took too long, it wouldn’t matter how little they want her to die. If the fight takes too long or goes the wrong way, Piggot might wait awhile. If she realizes this is the kind of situation they’re walking into, she might be inclined to give them useful information so they succeed enough to come back and let her go.

            Though you’ve caught me on an interesting night, so let’s go ahead and blame the kidnapping victim. The same one who has been around superscientists and a healer for years now and hasn’t gotten her kidneys replaced. If they’d even kept a portion of a kidney on ice, they have the technology nowadays in the real world to grow it back, albeit experimental technology. I bet guys like Armsmaster and Mannequin have already had the technology for a full-on artificial setup.

            But she didn’t do that because she decided she would be better than them by not having kidneys. And because she might get taken as a hostage in her situation. So she chose to set up a scenario where she would die if she’s taken hostage by people who don’t care if she dies. Or if something else happens that keeps her from getting dialysis within a certain period of time. Yeah, I blame her, especially since she’s now orchestrated a setup where whoever takes her has to either let her die or be captured and sent to jail. It’s either be known as the person who killed the PRT Director or get buttfucked, degraded, possibly shanked, and maybe have some nice little disease forced on your asshole.

            If she dies, it is of her own doing.

  10. ”I know you don’t sell drugs, Skitter. But you’re interacting with people who do. If you buy a favor from someone who does, the Merchants, Coil, the Chosen, then you’re indirectly supporting that trade.”

    That argument could be turned against the good guy heroes so fucking easily.

    • I’m with the Ant here, the characters can be ranked morally something like.

      The Disasters (not really moral either way, just destructive and powerful).

      The Monsters.

      The Nasty Villains. Such as The Chosen etc.
      The PRT. They’re responsible for the Case 53s. Nuff said.

      The Reckless “Heroes”. Armsmaster etc, though in Colin’s case I like to think that his intentions were good once.

      The General Villains

      The Not-Really-Villains.
      The Heroes.

      The Pillars of Moral Fibre. Skitter, Gallant (I hope) etc

      • My own list would look a little different from yours I think.

        First, it’s my impression that the PRT isn’t really responsible for the case 53’s. It’s hard to make the distinction when Alexandria and others are involved with both Cauldron and the PRT, but I think if you were to set the actions of Cauldron to the side, the PRT comes out reasonably well. As we saw in the last bonus interlude, individual PRT officers are willing to risk there own life and well being in order to prevent the deaths of others. That kind of altruism resonates well with me.

        Second, I also have issues with how Skitter ranks. Yes, her efforts have been largely focused on helping a young, defenseless girl. However, the single mindedness with which she’s pursued this goal has, in my estimation, revealed that her ethics can be a bit out of whack. She’s shown that she’s willing to seriously injure and risk killing someone in order to get into Coil’s good graces. She’s also taken a rather lackadaisical approach towards the nature of Regent’s abilities. These actions strike me as rather morally ambiguous, even when considering the motivations behind them. This doesn’t necessarily make her a bad person, and considering she’s essentially a child the fact that she’s functioning as well as she has been is impressive. However, I wouldn’t say she’s paragon of virtue by any means.

        • I would say that given that those in charge have such goals, it is very likely that the PRT serves them in ways other than what we’ve seen. Certainly they are making no attempt at stopping Cauldron, despite many of their members coming from it.

          As for Skitter, this list is more innate than consequences driven. That list would be very hard to make given how little we know of the world in general. The PRT could turn out to be attacking other countries, The Chosen could be far less evil than we think. It’s too easy to make a mistake.

          Mainly I was going for motivations.

          • Ah, I see, I kind of assumed that it was based more on behavior, because it included groups and organizations. I generally find it’s really difficult to parse out the driving forces behind organizations, so I try to judge them more on the consequences of their actions.

            But yeah, it’s really hard to evaluate the motivations of the different characters without a privileged access to their inner life.

  11. You know I have become so used to calling Tattletale, my 2nd favorite character, Lisa that it feels weird to call her Sarah.

  12. I got the impression from an earlier chapter that Lisa’s family was pretty well off, and that she bailed as an act of rebellion. I don’t remember what chapter made me think that though. It honestly doesn’t surprise me that she would leave a decent home life behind if she thought they weren’t valuing her properly. Wanting to make a new family does kind of explain how much effort she puts in on Taylor’s behalf.

  13. Get some of that juice that gives superpowers. Have Priggy drink it. She’ll get powers and it will also heal her. Plus, it will shatter her entire worldview about superhumans.

  14. Ladies and gentlemen, the City of Heroes and the City of Villains pass away into history. To much of the world this is a night like any other. Not so for heroes or villains. Yes, I include both. We’ve all lost cities this night. Paragon City, Praetoria, and The Rogue Isles crumble together.

    The heroes are who will best be remembered. Shining beacons of good lighting the way for humanity, even in such small ways. Every culture has their own. Some gloss over the bad. Others emphasize it to show how much stronger the hero is for being a flawed person as well. It’s that little bit of heroism that showed in Real World Hero. Operation Child’s Play. Heifer International. Operation Gratitude. People are good and bad, but sometimes a man in a cape and a woman in a mask can make them just a little bit…better. There are other heroes. Athletes, celebrities, activists, scientists, politicians, teachers, or just someone people know who makes you feel like becoming a better person. But people do blend together and it is easy to lose sight of the goals of bettering one’s self. So sometimes you need a taste of the fantastic. A superhero. Like when a businessman from Baltimore County dons the cowl so that sick kids in the hospital get a visit from Batman. Or when the wish of a boy is to be Electron Boy for a day. A super man in a red cape and blue spandex can show people how to fly and make them want to save each other. But people can’t fly in real life. No throwing fireballs, picking a car up over your head.

    …and villains? We get to be the brains of the operation. No offense. Heroes uplift society one way, villains another. It takes a lot to be a villain. You might think there’s plenty of dicks you know who are bad guys. Jerks who run around with dumb innuendo trying to steal other people’s girlfriends. People who troll a video you like. Someone who runs around saying “F*g that and n*gg*r this” because they think it’s fun. Amateurs. Morons of privilege. You wanna know who your daddy really is? The ones who think. The people with the schemes and the PR. You want to rob a bank? Cameras everywhere, police response incoming, and it turns out most of the money exists on the computer now. Become a leader of a nation? Any country you can steal isn’t worth having. Villains exist in real life too. Villains exist to show humanity what it is and what it isn’t and what kind of people you don’t want to exist and when they exist already around you. They can lead people down a road to genocide in the name of empowerment or self defense. They’ll have defenders in the news, maybe around you, but they are judged eventually. They show by their actions or by their nature that something is very very wrong with the way things are. Oh, and they get to have the most fun because they get the power and say fuck the rules. Someone whose life has never truly been in their own hands can take a hundred lives, a thousand lives, millions and do what they want with them. Of course, people who’ve never had any problems with power might try for it too, but let’s face it: if the system is already working for you, you probably don’t want to toss it. And every new supervillain screaming “Soon my master plan will be complete” or monologuing to a hero is representative of a lot more people the system is failing. As you may have figured out by now, not exactly easy stuff do to in real life.

    In both cases, we lack the power. Sometimes, we lack the spirit. People who will nuke entire countries online may be saddened to kill a rat in real life. Others who would save lives, even of the people trying to harm them, may be cowed in real life. We lost a world that makes heroes and villains a reality and have further cemented this world of powerless heroes and unheard warnings in place for some damn reason. You know, where it’s harder to make out the guys doing wrong because they wear the same suits as everyone else and couch decisions that hurt people in the language of being adult and making hard choices. Take their speech and put it in the mouth of a psycho in purple and red power armor with a cape and spiked shoulderpads and see how much it clears things up for you. Put the actions of a third world warlord in the hands of a man in ripped spandex and see how obvious it becomes that the world needs heroes.

    The Psycho Gecko you all have come to know and idolize and wish to make babies with (even the guys) was on the Infinity server until tonight. Some suits in Gangam decided that a game making money with a large player base needed to be shut down. No real reason was given. So now its fanbase will disperse. They won’t go to other NCSoft games, especially those who cared about the genre itself. They go to Star Wars or Star Trek or Champions or DC Universe Online, or Secret World. Some have chosen to boycott NCSoft and I think that’s a good idea, because I don’t want to play by those silly rules that say that killing a corporation for killing your home is rude. I’m both mad and sad at this and I have the power to simply be a dick to someone who deserves it. Now I guess I’m on Champions Online, where I get to assassinate people and be awarded something by the police for it. I have done a poor job eulogizing what we’ve lost tonight, and I feel I’ve rambled quite a bit about who knows what, but maybe I’ve done a good job reminding people that something is very very wrong tonight.

    • Dude at least break the monologue up every 150 words or so. Feels like I’m back in high school doing required reading.

      • I have never been accused of being Abraham Lincoln.

        Now class, let’s turn in our books to where we left off in Hamlet. I would like to explore this quote from Polonius:

        “Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
        That he is mad, ’tis true: ’tis true ’tis pity;
        And pity ’tis ’tis true. A foolish figure!
        But farewell it, for I will use no art.
        Mad let us grant him then. And now remains
        That we find out the cause of this effect-
        Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
        For this effect defective comes by cause.
        Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.”

        • To read or not to read. That is the question. Of course you could raise my incentive to do so if you can add a story about somebody in the moor making a beast with two backs. Don’t really get the Lincoln reference since I come from a third world country that didn’t teach american history during primary school or high school and the internet was too slow to play CoH/CoV anyway (man was I bummed, spent about a hundred bucks on a game just to find out it didn’t work in my country).

          • Sucks that you weren’t even able to play it. When I first started, I could make use of my college’s big, shiny wifi. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to, but my first mission involved breaking out of prison.

          • A speech made by President Abraham Lincoln after the Battle of Gettysburg is considered one of the greatest speeches in U.S. history and lasted a little over 2 minutes.

            The Gettysburg Address:
            “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
            Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

            But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

            There are some issues with a little different wording since he had different written versions of it, it was reported with different phrasing, and he was rewriting it a short time before giving it. That version there is one he wrote up for someone after the fact and signed.

    • CoX gave a lot of people, such as myself to see and feel what it was like to be a superhero. The feeling, though simulated, of affecting the world in powerful and understandable ways. It was and still is the gold standard of it’s genre. Giving the true comic book feel and superhero experience. Now as with the golden age of comics, we must pass the golden age of superhero mmo’s into the silver. We must make changes, avoid past mistakes and try harder.

      I would suggest that all fans with hope of a successor, get software like UDK, unity, gamemaker, rpg maker, etc, and proceed to create more hero games, themed maps and mods, small games. Jumpstart a movement that proclaims the need for a new City of Heros.

  15. They probably want to put forth a successor game and didn’t want their own game competing with their new product. And if they’d tried to cut the old game after the new one went out, they’d have had far more in the way of complaints. Or, they are being covertly bought by another similar company who already has its own game or wants to make one and similarly would not want competition.

    Of course companies won’t care for their customers. Most of them only care for their customers’ money. And if they give it a couple of months to blow over, 80% of those complaining will be ready to buy the new game because the public as a whole has the attention span of a lobotomized gnat, despite individual exceptions.

    • Somehow, I doubt that. Paragon Studios, all 80 something people, were fired. So there goes the developers who would work on a successor game. NCSoft’s stock has been going down since September 7th, a week after they announced the shutdown of the game. Hell, the most they did as far as announcing a new game was saying they were going to expand some martial arts MMO that’s really popular over there to the United States. Might I add, martial arts doesn’t involve fighting Mot with a superstrong hulk backed up by a catgirl commanding robots. If they had announced a CoH 2 or something like that, they’d have saved themselves a lot of trouble from players who were taking part in a massive email and petition campaign.

      The same players who raised a couple thousand to give all 80 employees of Paragon Studios dinner at a favorite restaurant. The same players who flooded the game for a vigil, holding torches, in 33 separate instances of the same map. They filled it up 32 times over, and that map can hold enough people to make me move at a snail’s pace in just 1 instance. And they maintained smaller vigils over the course of three months.

  16. Right…Piggot is now at the top of the asshole list.

    She hates all Parahumans.

    …She works with VISTA! How the hell can she look at that one and think, oh well she’s obviously evil. I mean how the hell does this arrangement make sense. What the bloody hell was Alexandria thinking putting her in charge of children!

    Oh, guess I’ll put the deranged bigot in charge of these sensitive, vulnerable youths. What could go wrong? Though this would explain Weld’s reactions to the Bay’s Wards. The lack of counseling for instance.

    Then there’s Amy, who might have gone differently had Piggot not been like she was and in charge.

    But Lisa (names are what you choose of them, she hasn’t shown any sign of abandoning the name Lisa) just takes the damn cake.

    She was (as best we can tell) a runaway who never really engaged in any truly bad crime until she joined the Undersiders. She stole from rich people, the horror.
    She has a family history that she is obviously dealing with in her own way and at her own speed and what the hell gives Piggot the right to just turn up and tell all to her parents! I bet that conversation wasn’t slanted at all. Piggot will have cause enormous emotional damage with that, not to mention she continues to shred the truce against someone who was shown to actually believe in it…which is fortunate as Tattletale could stick every heroes name and picture on the net if she chose to.
    Though how long that will last when the heroes (she’s the PRT director, she counts as among “the heroes”) just don’t seem to bother with it anymore is questionable.

    It’s like she doesn’t think beyond how to be spiteful and self-righteous while risking the lives of people who actually want to live.

  17. Might be my latent paranoia, but I can just imagine Coil sitting in his chair, bourbon in hand, laughing it up at this entire moral and tactical clusterfuck. Notice how concerned he DIDN’T seem earlier. The sonuvanabitch had all this planned, bet you anything.

    “I’ve invested a great deal of time and money into establishing your two groups here in Brockton Bay, and I did it for precisely this sort of scenario.”

    Riiiiiight… I could say he’s setting up the Travelsiders for a fall, I could say he’s setting up the heroes for a fall. But I don’t think that would encapsulate how thoroughly he has everyone wrapped around his finger. At this point I think that a “use the sorry state of the city as a political platform” kind of plan is the best case scenario. Who the hell knows what he’s really up to.

    I really hope the Undersiders, Dragon, or just about anyone somehow realizes this before it’s too late. In Taylor’s case any opportunity to break free of Coil’s grasp is fading quickly.

  18. “Pet, probability that some serious shit goes down next chapter?” Coil asked. “To one decimal place.”
    “100.0 percent,” Dinah replied.
    “And if I use my power? To one decimal place.”
    “100.0 percent.”
    “So, business as usual, then?”
    “Looks like.”

  19. Woah, wait a minute. I just realized something.

    Piggot don’t have no kidneys, and last arc we learned that Taylor’s dad has kidney damage…

    Oh, dis is gonna be one of dhose arcs isn’t it?

  20. It’s funny, before the last interlude Piggott’s argument would have sounded hugely hypocritical (blaming people for acts of villains they’ve interacted with works just as well on heroes as on other villains). Now that we know she despises capes in general, it makes perfect sense.

    • Yes, it makes me wonder how different the chapters would have been if the donation bonus hasn’t prompted that interlude.

  21. By the way, just throwing this out there. The whole ongoing morality debate just keeps going on and on. Maybe the next line of comments can go different places. Do different things. Have a conversation that isn’t just being rehashed each chapter due to additional evidence.

    To that end, I don’t care if you say Skitter is a combination of Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler with Osama Bin Laden shoved up her ass, I’m going to try my best to avoid talking about which side is more moral and all that. The whole thing does get vague at times (like heroic actions or inactions leading to bad things for Taylor and/or the city), but I’m not going to try to link things to saying the heroes are immoral and Skitter is a great and benevolent overlord like…

    The Hypno Toad.

  22. Psycho Gecko in “Moving On.”

    A man steps out of a Texas bar after a miserable night of drinking. He may be out on bail, but that doesn’t mean the whole town hasn’t heard the story of what he did. The tape was in the hands of the police. Fuck ‘em. There was no way he was ever going to admit guilt. His friends had dragged him into it and the girl said yes. So what if anyone could tell she wasn’t old enough? Shouldn’t even matter since it all took place two years ago.
    Then a naked man stepped over from the side of the bar. Some cracker with a curly blonde hair forming a sort of white man’s ‘fro. “Jared Cruse?” he asked in a thick accent that the man didn’t know was Austrian.
    “Who wants to know?” he asked, wondering if he’d get charged for beating down some gay guy too.
    “I am a GekkoTek model P-1MP sent from the future to help you eliminate the girl who you are charged with raping. In the future, she goes on to lead a feminist crusade that leads to forced castration for all men on the planet. Come with me if you want to come.”
    “You’re crazy man, that isn’t real,” Jared replied as he backed toward the bar, wondering what the guy in front of him was on, at least until the “P-1MP” raised his right hand, extended his middle finger, and used a pocketknife to begin cutting through the skin in a straight line around the finger, unflinching the entire time. Before he could pull the skin off, Jared looked away. He didn’t see the man hold his finger and glare hatefully at Jared as muffled curses escaped from his tightly fastened mouth. When he noticed Jared begin to look back, he hid his hand in a black leather glove.
    “Now do you believe me?”
    “Uh, yeah, but why are you naked?”
    The P-1MP paused for 4 seconds, looking right at Jared, then hesitantly answered, “The resistance…said it was important?”
    “Then where’d you get a knife and a glove?”
    “Every P-1MP model is capable of hiding a small amount of equipment in the usual hiding spot.”
    “Ew, man. Just, where is she?” Jared figured he might as well play along and call his lawyer later. He didn’t know what was going on, but it sounded like a mistrial. Or at least a change of venue if someone around here would pull some shit like this. The P-1MP pointed over to a rusty old pickup truck in the parking lot.
    “Get in, I will drive us there.”
    Jared began to walk over and reached for his phone when the naked man, Psycho Gecko, clubbed him over the head with a brick. They both hit the ground at the same time. Jared was KOed, but Gecko just stayed there on his hands and knees, sobbing, “Owww, oww, oww…it’s over…it’s finally over…” he said through a smile and tears as he chucked the smelly brick off to the side. When he heard it crash through glass and a car alarm start, he realized he didn’t have time to relocate his hipbones.


    A couple of hours later, three people enjoyed a private session of bowling at an otherwise empty alley. A 13 year old girl, her father, and a fully dressed Psycho Gecko chuck bowling balls down the lane, Gecko stuck using his left hand. When the girl steps up for her turn, her father leans into Gecko and whispered, “So what did you do with him? You didn’t…you know.”
    Gecko grinned wide and answered while adding only 7 despite the girl having knocked down 9, “He’s getting a taste of his own medicine.” Then he stood to take his turn.
    “Good,” said the father, “I hope you’re ready for the other nineteen.”
    Gecko stumbled and caught himself on the ball return as his legs tried to give out under him, “Nineteen?” he asked with a whimper.
    “Yeah. Nineteen,” said the father with a nod as his daughter sat next to him. He pulled her close in a hug, glad for a silver lining in the midst of the entire ugly mess.
    Gecko managed to stand up and grabbed his ball. He hurled it down the lane. It was nearly a gutterball, but bounced off the side above the gutter and back into the middle of the lane to punch through several of the pins. When it landed in the ball return behind the pins, it depressed a button. In the dark past the lane, a figure was caught in manacles on all fours. He couldn’t move or dodge or even, thanks to the gag, cry out in pain as the ball’s weight activated a robot arm with a variety of dildos attached that mimicked various animals in the wild. This time, the orca lined up and fired into the usual hiding spot with hydraulic force. It withdrew suddenly, the machine realigning in anticipation of the next ball.

  23. Well in the spirit of getting over similar morality arguments, which I am sure we will revisit when someone crosses a line later in the story, lets have a quick survey. What is your favorite part of the story and what would be a good idea for a What if? fanfic. My favorite part is still when she cut out lung’s eyes, should have kept them for a trophy but what can you do, because the readers weren’t allowed in on her plan and it was the first instance of Taylor beating someone she should have had no right beating using her big beautiful brain. I had just discovered the story through tv tropes and read up to point in one sitting, and after that I knew I was hooked. My favorite idea for a what if? fanfic is what if Skitter and Nilbog had gotten each other’s powers during their trigger events. Instead of being a plucky fighter being heavily outmatched and using her mind to find any advantage, she would know be desperately trying to fight without using/showing the full extent of her powers because she realized how scary she would be too others. Plus it would be fun just to see what Taylor would do as the potentially grossest, scariest, and most powerful master in the world. How would her fight against lung have gone? Could she have really hurt Leviathan? I also have thought of a crack fic of her dad secretly being Leet, just for the comedy value.

    • My answers.

      Hard question, there’s so much I love in this story. But if really pressed:
      Probably either Sierra’s chapter, the initial creation of Skitter’s territory + her gaining minions or the incredibly awesome events of the Gala Humiliation…okay, as may have been shown by my choice of adjectives, it’s the last one. Chiefly because there were so many ways it could go, no huge things at stake, it was incredibly fun and had everything from action through to character interaction. At the end of the day, that was the kind of harmless anti-social maniacal lunacy that I like in the Undersiders. Not to say that taking responsibility and power isn’t awesome/essential given their setting, but the sense of mischief is one of my favourite elements in them. Currently Aisha is the main player for that. I did love Regent asking how Skitter knew about gags in this chapter though.

      As for what-ifs. Discounting the Panacea as a rogue one since that has spawned a ridiculous amount of head-fanon for me. I’d again find it hard to choose. If Taylor had joined the Wards is fun, though bittersweet as it would mean the characters we have come to love would suffer for her absence. A lot. But Aegis would probably not die, nor Gallant. Heck, I can see Skitter switching sides resulting in a general reversal of the heroes’/villains’ lucks.
      Less drastic ones would have to include: if Skitter had been captured by the nine; if Skitter had gone nutso at some point (possibly with another Trigger); if Amy had joined them around about the time of the Mannequin encounter with her and them; TheAnt’s brilliant idea of Skitter and Nilbog swapping powers; if the fight to get that data had ended in Skitter captured (lightning gun had a shutdown mechanism and didn’t blow up) and if Skitter had died in one of the many, many near misses she’s had.

      • What if…

        …Taylor hadn’t burned that letter and had let her father know she was Skitter?

        …Taylor’s powers were superstrength and durability instead of the bugginess?

        …the Undersiders refused to take Taylor back?

        …the Slaughterhouse 9 hadn’t attacked Brockton bay?

        • Some of those were very real possibilities.

          I write knowing the key points/scenes I want to hit, but I don’t decide things in advance…

          So yeah. Up until I finished the last chapter of Tangle, I hadn’t decided what Taylor would do in respect to her dad. Before finishing Sentinel, I hadn’t decided that Taylor would go back to the Undersiders. And I could very well have gone on without introducing the Slaughterhouse Nine in the main story.

          • Yay Wildbow’s back!

            And that’s awesome, I don’t suppose…actually highlights on what would have happened would be spoilery.

            Would you be willing to give the highlights of a few big what ifs after the story is done? Just a few paragraphs or so, insight into how things would have gone in those what ifs canonically?

          • Hope you had a nice trip. Without the 9, Skitters people wouldn’t have been killed, Panacea wouldn’t have done what she did to her sister, Parian’s family would still be alive, Brian wouldn’t have had a second trigger event, Regent wouldn’t have shatterbird to puppet around, Hookwolf would still be leading the chosen, and Battery would still be alive. I guess the main focus of that arc would have been their fight against the Chosen huh.

      • Hmmm, I don’t really know enough about Taylor’s dad to predict what he would do if he found out she was Skitter. Worst case scenario he goes to the heroes to explain her circumstances to try and get leniency/help for her. Best case scenario he has a low opinion of the heroes/high opinion of Skitter and moves to her territory. Maybe working with her to help manage her people.
        Taylor as a flying brick might be interesting depending on how her powers work and just how powerful she is. She would be a asset regardless to the Undersiders, someone who can take/deal damage like Bitch plus her big beautiful brain. It might be interesting if she couldn’t fly and was essentially the hulk of the wormverse. TAYLOR SMASH!.
        If the Undersiders hadn’t taken her back, very unlikely to be honest. Regent doesn’t seem like he honestly cares about the betrayal, and Tattletale would never abandon her. So the group either joins her or splits up. If she was truly on her own, I think she would have asked Tattletale for advice and put Shadowstalker in the hospital. For maximum shock value, maybe she accidentally kills her with electricity and loses at least some of her reservations of using lethal force. If that happened she could still work with Coil as a independent agent and probably would have still taken the boardwalk, and fought off the merchants. I think she wouldn’t have been incognito when she went to the big merchant powwow to rescue Bryce. The merchants didn’t have an effective counter to her bugs, and I picture a GIANT swarm of insects annihilating all of the merchants which would have given her enormous infamy and definitely gotten in Coil’s good books .

        • If the Undersiders hadn’t taken her back, I see Taylor being split from them as an independent force, trying to go it alone with only Lisa backing her up. That is a whole new dynamic.

          Along with other things pointed out, if the Slaughterhouse 9 hadn’t attacked, there’d be less reason to condemn the city, Armsmaster would still be locked up, Dragon would be less powerful, the Merchants would still be a powerful force in the city, Legend wouldn’t know about Manton, Dinah wouldn’t be burned out, Taylor wouldn’t have Atlas, and Piggot would still be sitting on a stockpile of Bakuda’s bombs.

          • At that point in the story, that’s exactly what I had expected would happen. I thought for sure that Bitch would attack them, with Alec and Grue staying out of it. I thought that the two of them were going to have to fight for their survival against both the good and bad guys for some reason too.

            Probably wouldn’t make for the most interesting story, in retrospect. Both Skitter’s and Tattletale’s powers are good for avoiding problems and not so good for fending off direct assaults.

      • What if Taylor had responded to learning Shadow Stalker’s identity by going: “Oh, you *bet* I’ll join the Wards”.

        Watching trying to operate inside the system and deal with Sophia would be really interesting, IMO. Especially if she managed to rekindle her friendship with the Undersiders on the side…

      • If Taylor never found out, she would be Coil’s best employee and would be even more valued. She probably would take things a bit slower with how she took over her territory, or maybe not since her power makes it so easy to manage a large territory. Her only goal would be to improve the city. If they never joined Coil, hmm good question. They would probably act more mercenary, Coil might pay them a good amount to steal the PRT data. Taylor might have brought her info to the heroes and joined the Wards with the heroes bringing in some heavy hitters to deal with Coil. After Leviathan she would be working with the other Wards to help the city, and would quickly gain an infamous reputation because her power is again Perfect for sweeping across a large territory and keeping it safe. I picture her running into the Undersiders again, but not having the heart to fight them. Then again, with how the Heroes are acting, and the possible lack of progress she sees, she may just decide to leave and join the Undersiders anyway/go solo depending heavily on how Piggot handles the Shadowstalker situation and what excuse she gives Taylor for letting the bullying happen.

        • I think if she didn’t find out about Dinah alot of her more questionable moral actions wouldn’t have happened. She wouldn’t have been felt so pressured to excel at all costs, so I doubt she would be willing to fight seven dragon suits at once. She would probably be arguing alongside Regent in favor of leaving town. I am not quite sure if she would try to talk her father into leaving as well though.

  24. So, would feeding Piggot alcohol be a bad thing? I don’t know anything about kidney damage. I could see the alcohol making Piggot more pliable much more quickly or I guess it could hospitalize her. Maybe marijuana?

    • Hospitalize, I believe. It would be ill-advised if you want to keep her alive.

      Now I wonder what effect, if any, alcohol has on powers. Since it is linked to a portion of the brain, would a depressant like alcohol affect it any? What about a stimulant like Ritalin? Given all the mental problems associated with superpowers, people would have looked into this.

        • Affectionate Drunk: Bugs start ‘hugging’ everyone she likes. People she likes start running away. Though Grue seems to like her bugs at this point, what with how often he talks to them.

          Sad Drunk: Insects just stop doing anything.

          Happy Drunk: Weirdness.

          Mischievous Drunk: Bug Pranks, Sky writing!

          Angry Drunk: …Okay that one could go poorly. Lots of fleas at least.

    • Well it is something to try at least. She can’t use her training with the right touch of drugs to make her more pliable. You just have to hope Tattletale can get the right answer from her drunken hallucinating ramblings.

  25. kind of frustrating, knowing that the new chapter is up, but being unable to read it^^
    (thanks in advance)

    i dont know if you noticed it but as soon as you upload the next chapter (i assume that is the reason^^) the link “next chapter” appears, but for some time all it leads to is
    “This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?” (page not found)

    • I know.

      The next chapter/last chapter links have to be manually updated. I usually do them as/after I do a final proofread.

      I wish I’d had more time to proofread today, but I had an appointment at the hospital that took a huge chunk out of my day (from 10:30 til 7) and a busy weekend. Sorry for the inevitable typos.

  26. Bakuda was injured by you in one altercation, and she attacked the city over the course of several days . Do you know how many people were harmed, then? Because you set her off? ”

    What was it, like 36 people, depending on the size of the city Shatterbird could kill over 100,000 without breaking a sweat. Considering the Endbringer probably cut that down a little but I don’t know how much of this city it covered and how big the city is still.

    Also I was really surprised that none had a response to that drug line, like seriously they’re all in the drug game and none of them have the basic arguments down? It’s not a hard argument to make “People are entitled to their own body and decisions affecting it are theirs to make not the governments, a large volume of people will always attempt to consume drugs, illegal drugs fuel drug related violence like making lots of money for villains, many of the negative affects from badly cut drugs come from it being illegal.” I mean I know that Skitter is refusing to sell alcohol and tobacco (the biggest major problematic drugs around) unlike the other guys but really… Not sure why they’re selling stuff anyway, Coil should be rich as fuck off of stocks, I guess to stop anyone else getting that revenue?

    Talking of capitalism, people should be exploiting Endbringer’s like crazy, and the Nine. We’re talking huge destruction of property in a very short amount of time, the spike in demand for glass, concrete, etc is huge. It wouldn’t be hard for anyone to stock up on anything destroyed by Shatterbird/Endbringer’s and then sell at massive profit after an attack. Also if you can predict Endbringer’s attacks then you can sell stock in a company based in those places, I would be surprised if no Cape or even satellite’s has that info, even if it’s only an hour headsup. You could very maybe read the market and watch stock drop dramatically in a ton of businesses based/trading in a city, it would happen straight after the city fell anyway.

  27. “Do they know the full story?” the Director asked.

    “No,” Tattletale replied. She sighed a little.

    “Tell us what?” I asked.

    Skitter’s reply is a bit non-sequitur. I’m guessing Piggy originally said “Did you tell them the full story.”

    • Yah, I reckon that’s an editing glitch. Neither Piggot nor Tattletale mentioned “telling” them anything – it was phrased differently.
      teams” I said. – Missing punctuation before the close quote.

  28. Piggot: People die in feuds. Lots of people were injured because of what you started with Bakuda.
    Skitter: Yeah, you’re right. We weren’t equipped to handle her. You know who should have handled her?! You!
    Piggot: You shouldn’t have set her off!
    Skitter: The Protectorate shouldn’t have let her exist to commit her atrocities! At least we DID something about her!

    Where was this exchange, during the whole hostage conversation scene? I kept waiting for it. Would have made the director explain her ridiculously passive stance towards the local villain population, allowing things like Lung and Hookwolf to roam her streets. I’m frankly a little curious.

  29. What I don’t get is that the protectorate heads have to know that Piggot has a serious chip on her shoulders. They have the powers to know so easily. Having her have final say over a wards team is tantamount to child abuse, which given their long term objectives losing a couple of powerful wards to a face/heel turn is terrible and we know teenagers naturally want to rebel against authority anyway. I mean, c’mon, gallant at least had to realize exactly how much Piggot hates them all, and he doesn’t strike me as the type to let that slide. It doesn’t even make any sense to make a grunt a Director. That’s a serious position that people should be gunning for, the kind that requires favors and nepotism.

    • I don’t really think she want to be cured, it she has proud of her “scars”. Also, Panacea wasn’t part of the wards like Glory Girl, so they weren’t an asset for Piggot.

  30. “… but she’d had had the upper hand, …” Undoing the contraction, this says ‘she had had had’, which is a big stutter for Skitter!
    All the folks who think Panacea shoulda/coulda fixed Piggot are forgetting that at the time Piggot lost her kidneys, Amy was a six year old girl who had not yet had her powers triggered.
    I think when Amy was talking to Skitter at some point she indicated that she really couldn’t repair OLD damage very well. Though why Piggot didn’t get an old-fashioned, non-powered kidney transplant in 2001 seems weird!

    • I don’t think Amy left Skitter’s old injuries because she couldn’t fix them, but because she had better things to do with her time and effort than fix minor damage that clearly predated the Leviathan fight for a villain whom she blamed for ruining her life. Like threaten said villain with supermalpractice. I mean, she’s capable of building something like Atlas pretty much from scratch, so I don’t think a couple of kidneys could be too terribly difficult for her.

  31. “If Dragon’s listening in on the call, and it sounded like she was, we might accidentally divulge some crucial info. Or we could be alerting those suits to our location. Or the location of whoever you’re calling.” I finished.
    Of course, post-Snowden, everyone in the world is now aware that as long as a cellphone is ON, then it communicates its location to the network. — and one presumes Dragon is aware of anything any network knows. The modern reader might assume Skitter should know this — and that Skitter’s real concern should be that the cell-hone has been OFF all this time.

  32. She interrupted me before I could protest. “I know you don’t sell drugs, Skitter. But you’re interacting with people who do. If you buy a favor from someone who does, the Merchants, Coil, the Chosen, then you’re indirectly supporting that trade. Just like you’re supporting any number of evils every time you help a fellow villain. I’ve talked to homicide detectives who have dealt with the bodies in the wake of your shenanigans.”

    I’m just going to steal a line from the Tenth Doctor here.
    “Who do you think made your clothes?”

    There are degrees of responsibility. If Piggot wants Skitter to avoid giving money to dealers, she should avoid giving money to sweatshops- and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t, since I doubt anyone is making clothes in Brockton Bay these days, and imported goods are much more likely to come from big multinationals who can afford to pay for the importing (and, generally, have bad track records there).

  33. “Yes,” the Director said. “Based on that much, I’m almost certain you wouldn’t torture me and you aren’t the type to kill unless absolutely backed against the wall. Which means I can be home before midnight.”

    There’s a big jump there. What’s to stop them finding whatever locating device she’s got, disabling it, and then just… not letting her go home? Any employee of the US government should know you don’t have to torture or kill someone to keep them contained. And if the PRT had the kind of information-gathering capabilities necessary to scan the city for one individual, they’d have done it by now, several times.

  34. “You have a card up your sleeve, leverage.”

    “In a way. I’m dying.”

    Shitfuck. She was RIGHT.
    That’s genius, in a horrible sort of way. Tons more effective than the cyanide capsule approach. Keeping her captive *is* killing her.

  35. “Careful,” I said. “Trouble with this sort of gag is that if she pukes, she could choke on her own vomit.”

    “How do you know these things?” Regent asked.

    For a second I wondered how Regent could *not* know these things, having been a supervillain’s protege- but then I remembered his dad has a powerset that lets him skip things like interrogations and imprisonment; he just makes people do what he wants.
    Now I’m wondering how Skitter knows them. Maybe from her pre-hero research?

  36. The Melusine-six, Cawthorne M.K. Three, the Glaurung Zero, the Ladon-two, the Astaroth-Nidhug, the Pythios-two.

    Ladon is a serpent. So’s Nidhug, and Melusine is a part-serpent. Astaroth is a demon with draconic imagery. Glaurung is a straight-up dragon. Cawthorne and Pythios I haven’t figured out. And Azazel is a demon or fallen angel.


  37. “Even on a basic, abstract level, she reminded me of Emma in how quickly and easily she’d gone for the throat in trying to cut me down and provoke a reaction from me. Again, much like Emma, it was all the more nettling because she wasn’t entirely wrong.”
    I do believe you meant Sophia, right?

  38. What I want to know is how come Tattletale didn’t clue in on the fact that the PRT blatantly broke the Endbringer Pact and use that for leverage? Just say, “OK, tell us what we want to know or we announce to the world that you allowed Armsmaster to murder opposition during Leviathan’s attack and out an undercover agent out of spite, being directly responsible (even if it’s not true) for her turning into being an actual villain. And then you rewarded him with a new identity. With all of your bullshit about being indirectly responsible for bills, unemployment, and maybe some deaths, then you’d be directly responsible for the deaths of billions by removing 2/3 of the forces to fight off Endbringer when they strike.”

    Boom. Interrogation over.

  39. One of the things that wasn’t mentioned in Piggot’s little speech is the fact that you could say Taylor indirectly caused the Endbringer attack, if I’m looking at it right. Endbringers are drawn to areas with a lot of political unrest or war, right? Taylor is the one who fucked up Lung in the first arc and set off a long chain of events that led to widespread fighting in the city, and that’s what made Leviathan settle on Brockton Bay as a target.

    Also, Piggot’s speech made me think harder about Taylor’s mission to save Dinah. She’s pretty blatantly justifying and rationalizing all the pain she causes, directly and indirectly — but the poor little girl that her employer kidnapped and drugged and exploited for her abilities gives her a target to focus on. As the innocent little girl, Dinah acts as a token victim, representing the suffering that Taylor *knows* she causes, even though there are hundreds (or thousands) of Dinahs out there who she created herself. But as long as she doesn’t have to look them in the eye, she can bring herself to ignore them.

    That must sound pretty pretentious. I’m just genuinely fascinated by this because I only just started thinking about it.

    • I also had the thought in your first point, that the big threats came to town because of the chaos that traces back to Taylor beating up Lung. But there is at least one alternate hypothesis.
      Dragon and Armsmaster’s conversation in Interlude 7 tells us the Endbringers aim for places where they can do the most damage- targets that might be doing just fine right now, but would take lots of people and infrastructure with them if they fell. Newfoundland is a good example- the island was stable enough that people had lived there for centuries, and then Leviathan sank it, killing everyone who couldn’t evacuate and rendering the place uninhabitable. Colin also cites nuclear reactors and the Birdcage- stable systems on their own, but if they broke, look out.
      Legend noted that Brockton Bay was vulnerable geographically, because of the aquifer- Leviathan’s attack didn’t just destroy infrastructure, it changed the landscape.
      Dragon, Armsmaster, and Miss Militia concluded that it was vulnerable socially, because of the recent gang conflicts. And that’s possible- Leviathan’s attack certainly made the Merchants much more dangerous than they had been, even if the ABB were pretty much dismantled and Empire Eighty-Eight lost cohesion without Kaiser.
      But Dragon, Armsmaster, and Miss Militia don’t know about all the vulnerable things beneath the surface of Brockton Bay. Just because they found an answer doesn’t mean it’s the right answer.

      When Legend asks the assembled capes to stand if they’ve been in an Endbringer fight before, the only non-hero capes who respond are Bambina and the Travelers. (Fighting an Endbringer is extremely hazardous and offers no reward- there’s no gain, only reduced losses, mostly in the lives of others. And the Travelers repeatedly state that they won’t risk themselves or their group for other people. They made a promise, they’re all each other have, and so on. So if the Travelers fought an Endbringer somewhere else, it was to protect their own.)

      In Coil’s interlude, he notes that Leviathan’s lake cracked the walls of his underground base and came within fifty feet of doing much worse, maybe wrecking the site entirely.
      In 11.f, Trickster guesses that “Just like Leviathan, Crawler’s coming after [Noelle]?”.

      At this stage of the story, we don’t know who Noelle is or what she can do- but we know that Trickster knows. He was in Brockton Bay for the bomb scare with Bakuda and the fights with Empire Eighty-Eight. He’s been in an Endbringer attack before, and he doesn’t seem the type to risk himself for others outside his group. He knows the score on all sides, he’s not one to overstate his own guilt… and he thinks it’s more likely that Leviathan came for Noelle than for the city.

  40. Rereading…

    I’ve learned a lot since you took me hostage, and I already knew some things from research, observation, paperwork and background checks. I have a read on your personalities and how you operate, and I know some background details. How is your brother, Tattletale?

    Holy SHIT. That’s not a barbed remark. That’s not even an armor-piercing retort. That is a conversational neutron bomb.

  41. “Please do. Waste time. You won’t accomplish much. Look at me. You know as well as I do that I wear my shame and disappointment on the outside, for the world to see. I had the muscles of my legs torn apart years ago on the job, lost the ability to keep up exercise, coupled with hours behind a desk, hours of the dialysis and recovery from surgeries, no time to take care of myself with work. I know I’m ugly, I know I’m fat. There’s nothing you could say to me that I haven’t said to myself a hundred times over.”

    “You make capes.”

    • “I’ve met people who would be perfectly normal if not for your decisions. You pick and choose the capes you protect, sure- but once you do, you make excuses, accept things that never should’ve happened, smooth over atrocities so that people who deserve the Birdcage or worse can stay on the streets where they might fight an Endbringer someday. And in the meantime, they can keep stepping on the little people to get their way. They know it’s safe now.

      “And the little people? The ones getting stepped on, critically injured, lives ruined? Not all of them are as proud as you. They don’t all find their inner earthworm and decide to stay down there in the dirt. You know what happens to some people on the worst day of their lives, right? They trigger.”

  42. Good chapter, I like the Piggot versus Tattletale ‘fight’, especially when they’re both interrogating the other simultaneously and getting replies from body language.

    One problem though: Dragon either hasn’t actually read the Silmarillion, or else has a completely different understanding of Glaurung from my one. Assuming Tattletale’s list of suit names was in the same order, Glaurung is a flying drone mothership? Really? The ground bound behemoth who once drove off his own army… is a mothership?
    Well, at least that means Skitter doesn’t have to worry about Glaurung’s hypnotism.

  43. I’m beginning to think that Piggot is the series’ first Badass Normal.

    Taylor’s starting to grate on me though:

    1) She wins nine times out of ten, despite her relative youth and inexperience, through sheer tenacity and intelligence. It’s gotten to the point where I skim her fights somewhat, because I’m pretty certain that she’s going to come out on top no matter what. Even her very first fight, against Lung, went in her favour. And even when it’s looked like the tables were turning, such as when they were captured by the Nine, it’s implied that that would never have happened if it had been her plan (as opposed to Trickster’s, IIRC). And she’s respected by every respectable character in the series. Which leads to…

    2) She kind of irritates me with her self-esteem issues, specifically her low opinion of her social skills when in fact, it’s just another thing that she’s great at (endearing awkwardness and poor social skills aren’t the same thing). Taylor actually reminds me of Harry Potter: they both have a “saving-people-thing”, both are humble (yet somehow arrogant?) heroes, and they both came out of their poor childhoods as strong, assertive people.

    3) My biggest problem with her character, and this is partially why I’m warming up to Piggot now, is her deluded self-righteousness. She has some self-awareness, but not enough to stop her from making the same crappy arguments to justify everything she does while pointing her finger at people who are actually heroes, rather than villains playing at being heroic. She talks about the difference being just “labels” and the sliding scale being a “fantasy” without seeming to comprehend that labels and scales matter. Which side you pick matters. What you call yourself matters.

    Amy and Armsmaster (don’t trust myself to spell Amy’s cape name right now..) messed up a lot, but prior to those mistakes, they had been saving people, protecting the city, for most of their lives. The argument that that makes them ideal Nine candidates just doesn’t work. The argument that Taylor has the moral high ground compared to them doesn’t work. Taylor’s right in that not every hero is Scion and not every villain is Bonesaw, but that doesn’t change the fact that the most people actually trying to do good are on the obvious side, while even the most heroic villains are villains for a reason, and even something as relatively innoculous as robbing a bank sets them apart from the good guys (and I mean “good” in the truest sense of the word).

    And ultimately, she chooses not to be heroic from the outset, because her mindset has always been “the ends justify the means” in most cases, by acting as a mole, and the reasons she didn’t finish what she started there were her wanting friends, and not liking one hero (I’d also say Armsmaster’s attitude towards her was justified for the most part, right up until Leviathon – and it’s not like she ever proved his attitude towards her wrong). Another irritating aspect is how she always seems to expect gratitude and trust for trying to doing the right thing, despite her villain status often making that inadvisable for the hero(s)/citizen(s) involved. And this is another difference: none of the heroes (possible exception of Armsmaster) expect rewards for doing the right thing. They just do it.

    …Glad I got that off my chest. I think I recognize that the character’s meant to be more anti-heroic than purely heroic, and that we’re perhaps even meant to find her frustrating in some ways, and this isn’t meant to be a criticism of how her character has been written. On the contrary, thank you Wildbow. You’ve created some really interesting characters, and I’ve enjoyed your story so far more than I’ve enjoyed any other story for a long time (and I can’t seem to put it down, so to speak). I’ve even enjoyed being irritated by Taylor’s character, in a sense.

    • Just a bit of criticism of point 3: “My biggest problem with her character, and this is partially why I’m warming up to Piggot now, is her deluded self-righteousness. She has some self-awareness, but not enough to stop her from making the same crappy arguments to justify everything she does while pointing her finger at people who are actually heroes, rather than villains playing at being heroic. She talks about the difference being just “labels” and the sliding scale being a “fantasy” without seeming to comprehend that labels and scales matter. Which side you pick matters. What you call yourself matters.” Morality is the collective delusion of society the only thing that a label matters for is PR. By the logic of “the people who call themselves heroes are right” Robin Hood was a merciless villian robbing the rightful administration of a country while its’ heroic king is off in another country and is unable to do anything about it. Does this make him an immoral cad? The people of England disagree, he’s considered a folk hero across the pond.

      “And ultimately, she chooses not to be heroic from the outset, because her mindset has always been “the ends justify the means” in most cases, by acting as a mole, and the reasons she didn’t finish what she started there were her wanting friends, and not liking one hero (I’d also say Armsmaster’s attitude towards her was justified for the most part, right up until Leviathon – and it’s not like she ever proved his attitude towards her wrong). Another irritating aspect is how she always seems to expect gratitude and trust for trying to doing the right thing, despite her villain status often making that inadvisable for the hero(s)/citizen(s) involved. And this is another difference: none of the heroes (possible exception of Armsmaster) expect rewards for doing the right thing. They just do it.”

      From a character perspective, isn’t this internally consistent? She does what she considers the “the right thing,” but the means to achieving this are barred by conventional morality. Therefore in her eyes, the ends justify the means. When she sees heroes achieving a lesser result to uphold meaningless moral principles, or worse, sees them break these principles and then take the moral high ground because from a certain point of view they were following them, it becomes easy to see herself as comparatively saintly. There is no conflict in motivation or hypocrisy here. Taylor doesn’t realize how unhypocritical she actually is. This doesn’t necessarily make her right all the time about everything, it just makes her less deceitful than the PRT, and therefore more likeable to the audience.

  44. There’s a bit where Taylor says “Tell me what?” in reply to something along the lines of “they don’t know the full story?” Not sure if that’s the adequate response.

  45. Damn. You did your homework with those suit names, Wildbow. I only recognized three at first, had to look up the rest. Interesting stories. Obscure

  46. Piggot’s opinions on parahumans make me wonder: where are all the parahuman Black Panthers-esque groups? Does this universe’s Magneto have his thumb up his ass or something? How did this happen when being anti-parahuman is a semi-normal opinion?

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