Migration 17.5

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“You made it,” Cody said.

Krouse stopped in his tracks.  They were more than a block away from the house, and Cody was standing with his back to a wall, in the middle of an intersection.  None of the others were in sight.

He felt a moment’s trepidation, saw the way the crowbar hung from Cody’s fingers, tapping against the wall.  He couldn’t help but read the situation as threatening, but tried to dismiss the thought.  It could have been the Simurgh’s influence, coloring his perceptions.

“Yeah,” Krouse said.  “I made it.”

“You’re hurt.  Sorry if I don’t shed any tears.”

“Noelle’s okay?”

Cody shrugged.  “She’s not any better.  A little worse.”

“Where’s Marissa?”

“I took her back.  She had a bad spell where she froze up.”

“Did you find a doctor?  Even a nurse?”

“Didn’t manage to catch up to anyone to ask.  I’m okay, by the way.  Just in case you were wondering.”

“I wasn’t.  You look okay.”

“Sure, but who knows how I’m doing when you look past the surface?  I could be a mental and emotional wreck, putting on a brave face.”

“Cody,” Krouse had to bite his tongue to keep from saying something he shouldn’t.  “I’m pretty badly hurt, here.  If we have to talk about this stuff, can we at least do it while walking back?”

“Because the Simurgh’s been replying old memories for me, and the irritating thing is they aren’t my most painful memories.”

Cody wasn’t listening.  Krouse walked past him, and Cody turned to follow, talking to him from behind.  “Not the time my mom had my cat put down, when they definitely could have saved him.  No, every time she brings some memory to the surface, it’s you.”

Krouse paused mid-step, then forced himself to keep walking.

“Isn’t that a pisser?  I get some lunatic alien bird thing speaking in my head, and all she wants to do is make me remember the times you irritated me.  The little pranks you pulled, like getting to the clubroom early and fucking with my computer before a game.”

“That was a practice game,” Krouse said.

Before a game.  I’m there to improve myself, and because I can pull in something a little under minimum wage just by playing and streaming a video of my gameplay online, and because maybe I could get that fucking sponsorship, so I could pay part of my way through college.  The sort of stuff that , and you’re sabotaging me.”

“It was a practice game, Cody, and it was just a prank that took two minutes to fix,” Krouse said.  He slowed his pace to let Cody catch up some.  He was starting to think maybe having the guy behind him with a weapon in hand wasn’t the best idea.

“Two minutes I was late to the match, two minutes where I looked bad to the audience following online, and we all looked bad to another serious team.”

“I’m sorry,” Krouse said.  He wasn’t, really.  It had generated more viewers, for him and Cody both.  It had been publicity.  He wasn’t willing to argue the point; it was more important to get the situation settled down.  “But can we talk about this later?  You know we’re on edge-”

“Pisses me off that nobody else sees it.  Pisses me off that you don’t get that I see it.  The smug smiles when you get one over on me, the condescending look you gave me when you first walked into the club, holding Noelle’s hand.”


Thats the shit the Simurgh keeps showing me.  Any time I close my eyes, any time I stop for a freaking second, I get it rubbed in my face.”

“She’s doing it on purpose,” Krouse said.  “Either it’s just automatically bringing up the issues that are closest to the surface, or she’s doing it because she thinks reminding you of that stuff is going to do more damage in the long run than reminding you of your cat.  You play into her hands if you let it get to you.  You let her win.”

“Funny thing is,” Cody said, “I’d rather see her win than see you come out the hero, here.”

“She’s making you think that way.  That’s not you, Cody.”

“Maybe.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m still going to help out, I’m not going to get revenge or anything,” Cody said, offering Krouse a humorless smile, “Because even if I hate your guts, Krouse…  Francis… I don’t hate theirs.”

“Okay,” Krouse looked at the crowbar, wondered if he’d be able to defend himself with one good hand and the metal briefcase.

“She makes Marissa freak out, she has Oliver crying when he thinks nobody’s looking, Jess has gone crazy paranoid, to the point that she’s barely talking, if it isn’t about looking after Noelle, and apparently Luke can’t take his mind off the pain.  But you’re doing fine, isn’t that funny?”

“I’m not fine.”

“Oh?  What’s wrong?”  Cody’s voice was almost taunting.

If he doesn’t hurt me, I might hurt him.

“Doesn’t matter,” Krouse said.

“So the mighty Krouse, who gets all the luck, who has everyone wrapped around his finger, who gets the girl and dodges all the consequences, he’s not invincible after all.  What’s she doing to you?”

“None of your business.”

“Isn’t it?  We need to know what’s going on.  You could turn homicidal any moment, for all I know.”

“I’m not homicidal.  It’s just not stuff I’m willing to talk about with you.”

“Suspicious, suspicious,” Cody almost sounded like he was having fun.

Krouse quickened his pace.  He didn’t like the idea that the others were doing that poorly.  He’d had three breaks from the screaming, with whatever power Myrddin had used to shunt him halfway into some other dimension, and the two flashbacks.  Cody seemed functional, if vaguely unhinged, but he’d had the flashbacks as well.

Krouse tried the door, found it locked.  He glanced at Cody, then knocked a few times, loud.

Oliver opened it.  He looked like twenty four hours had passed and he hadn’t slept a wink.  Oliver’s eyes were red, and he averted his gaze as he saw Krouse and Cody.

How’s she getting to him?  Oliver’s biggest weakness would be his self confidence.  Was she tearing him down like his mother would?  Raising memories of past embarrassments, times people had laughed at him?

Was there a way to fix that?  To support the guy?

Krouse settled for a quiet, “Thanks, man.  We’re going to get through this.  It should be over soon.”

Oliver nodded, but he didn’t perk up.

Krouse ventured inside, heading straight for Noelle.

Marissa was sitting at the foot of the couch, head leaning back, asleep or trying to sleep.  Luke had blankets piled on him, having barely moved since Krouse had left.  Jess was in the other chair facing the couch, looking much as Oliver did.

“You’re hurt,” Jess said.

Marissa stirred.  her eyes went wide as she looked at Krouse’s hand.  “We, um- first aid supplies.  We have them.”

“Okay,” Krouse said.  He knelt by Noelle’s head, setting the metal briefcase down.  He could see Cody out of the corner of his eye, leaning against doorway, watching him.

“You ran into people with powers.  Villians?”

“I don’t know if they were villains,” Krouse said, absently, his attention on Noelle.  Someone had cleaned up the blood, but she didn’t look good.  Blankets were piled over her to the point that she should have been overheating, but she was shivering.  Eyes closed, she opened her mouth, as if to say something, but her mouth hung half-open, jaw jittering as though her teeth were chattering.

“They were going to kill people,” Cody said.  “They were going to kill you, last I saw.”

“They were scared people in a strange place,” Krouse said.  “They’re hearing the same song in their heads that we are, and they barely had any clue how our world works.  I’m not saying they were right, doing what they did, but I almost understand it.  Shit, I can’t believe you couldn’t find a doctor from the people we saved.”

“They didn’t know how to find you, after they ran,” Luke said.  “They came here to rendezvous.  Marissa wasn’t doing well, so Cody went out alone to look for you.”

Look for me?  Krouse turned to look at Cody.  You were waiting around.

“And I found him,” Cody said.

“Yeah,” Luke replied.

“You’re a champ,” Krouse said, offering Cody a level glare.

Cody only smiled a little.  He stepped back out of the doorway as Marissa came through with more bandages.

“I don’t know how to take care of this,” she said.  “Sprains, yeah, but not this.”

“Clean it and wrap it,” Krouse said.  “Listen, I ran into some heroes.  Couldn’t talk to them, they wouldn’t let me, but I heard them saying something about the fight being almost over. The Simurgh might try to pull something as a final measure, but the heroes were winning, and they were working out what to do after things were done.”

“Really?” Marissa asked.  She had put a folded towel on the coffee table, and was holding back on pouring the disinfectant on his hand.

Krouse nodded.  “Maybe fifteen minutes, maybe half an hour.  But it’s almost over.  We just need to hold out, stay calm.  Make sure Noelle doesn’t take a turn for the worse.”

Marissa poured the disinfectant onto Krouse’s injury, and he hissed at the pain, forced his hand down against the table with his good hand, so he wouldn’t reflexively pull it away.

“What’s this?” Cody asked.  He advanced from behind, tapped his foot against the metal briefcase.  “Medical supplies?”

“No,” Krouse replied.  “And you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.  Give it to Jess.  She’ll like it.”

Cody picked it up and carried it to Jess.  She sat the thing on her lap, gave Krouse a wary look, then popped it open.

He waited as Marissa put antiseptic cream on his wound, laid down some thick white bandage pads and started binding it all in place with a cloth wrap.  For all her inexperience with the other stuff, she seemed to know what she was doing with the wrap.

Jess dropped the papers onto the vials without putting them in the separate flap they’d been in, then shut and latched the case.  “Destroy it.”

“What?”  Cody said.  “Wait, what is it?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Jess said.  “Destroy it.”

“What are you talking about, Jess?”  Marissa asked.

Krouse double checked the bandage was in place, then stood.

He approached Jess, and she clutched the case to her chest.  She was almost pleading, “Put it somewhere nobody will find it, or destroy it.  Mix it with sand and pour it into a hole in the backyard or something.”

“I thought you would be more interested in this than anyone,” Krouse said.

“What is it?” Cody asked.

“Superpowers,” Krouse said.  “If I read it right, if I’m not losing it, then the contents of that suitcase tell you how to get superpowers.  I found it with the stuff that got dumped here with the monsters.”

Cody’s eyes went wide.  Marissa, Luke and Oliver reacted as well.

“You’re not getting it,” Jess said.

“What’s not to get?” Krouse asked.  “We’re in a dangerous situation.  Is this any different than taking a weapon when we go out there?”

“It’s a whole lot different,” Jess said.  “It’s permanent.  If it works, it’s going to change your life.  And that’s if it’s not a trap.  It could be poison, if it’s coming from the same place and the same culture that those monsters did.”

Was it his gut or was it paranoia that told him that she, again, was withholding information?

Krouse cleared his throat, explained, “I found it in the remains of some office or laboratory.  They were selling this stuff, the papers you were just reading, from the one line I read, suggested this stuff was on store shelves or something.  Why dress it up like that, with a fat pad of paperwork, an expensive suitcase and protective foam padding, only to fill it with poison?”

“I’m not saying it was poison-”

“You did,” Krouse corrected.

“No, I mean.  I’m just saying.  There’s any number of places this could go wrong.  We shouldn’t risk it.  Not when we have other stuff to worry about.”

Yeah, she’s being evasive.

“They’re superpowers?” Cody asked.  He reached for the suitcase and Jess twisted her body to shield him from getting to it.  “Seriously?  How?”

“Six canisters,” Krouse responded, but his eyes were on Jess.

“Is that six doses?” Luke asked.

“Krouse,” Jess said.  “Come on.  You get this situation we’re in.  You know it isn’t good.  Don’t you want to get back to normal?”

“Wait, it sounds like you’re saying there’s something more going on,” Luke said.  “You guys were whispering before.  Is this-”

“Luke,” Krouse cut him off.  “Listen, you know me, right?  Better than anyone else here.”

“Pretty much,” Luke said, but he glanced at Noelle.

“Better than anyone who’s conscious,” Krouse clarified, though he wasn’t sure either way.  “And you know Jess fairly well too.  So can you trust us when I say that there’s stuff going on, and we’re acting in everyone’s best interests if we’re not sharing the full details?”

I don’t trust you,” Cody said.

“This isn’t some ploy?” Luke asked, ignoring Cody.  “You know you’ve pulled stuff before, and yeah, this isn’t the situation for it and normally you’d have more common sense than to try something when things are this screwed up, but if this singing in our heads is making us act funny, then…”  He trailed off.

“It’s not a ploy.  If you don’t trust me, at least trust the fact that I wouldn’t pull something when Noelle’s like this.  Even with my head screwed up.  There’s bigger priorities.”

Luke frowned.  “Okay.  I’m trusting you on this.  Don’t fuck us over.”

Krouse nodded, expression solemn.  He took a deep breath, then addressed the main issue.  Jess.

“Jess, you’re the one that’s always followed the superhero scene,” Krouse said.  “You follow the lame ass superheroes and villains we’ve got running around, and the three or four who’re maybe actually worth something. You’ve followed Earth Bet, all the stuff that goes on with the real heroes and villains.  And you’re saying no?  Like I told Luke, that suitcase, it’s not my top priority, not even my second or third priority.  Cross my heart.  But this is a pretty big deal.”

“How is this not a priority?” Cody asked.  “Powers.”

“Shut up!”  Krouse snapped, his voice hard, louder than he’d intended it.

Everyone fell silent.  The only noises were the screaming in their heads, the distant noises of the ongoing fighting, and Noelle making faint noises as she stirred.

Krouse knelt beside her and brushed some hair away from her face.  He turned around and sat so his back was against the couch, holding Noelle’s hand.  “Jess.  Let’s read the papers in the case.  Figure out if it’s real, a hoax, if we can even use the stuff.  If we can’t, maybe we can still sell it.  We could use the money.”

“You don’t understand,” she said.

“I don’t understand, you’re right.  But I can’t if you don’t explain, and I don’t get the feeling you’re about to.”

“If you take the papers, you’ll decide you should do it.”

“Maybe we should.”

“We can’t.”

He sighed.

She went on, “And If I open the case to give you the papers, you’ll snatch the stuff, and I can’t exactly get up to wrestle  it out of your hands if you do.”

“We won’t,” Krouse said.  “Just… take the papers out, hand them to us, you can hold on to the suitcase until we’ve decided.”

“Unanimously?” Jess asked.

“I don’t know about unanimous-” He saw her expression change.  “We’ll at least discuss it thoroughly.”

She nodded.  She opened the case to grab the papers and held them out.  Krouse reached for them, but it was Cody who snatched them from Jess’ hand.

Krouse took a deep breath, exhaled.  Stay calm.  Cody’s under the influence of the Simurgh.

“Six formulas,” Cody said.  “Each designed to give different sorts of powers.  It doesn’t say what powers, exactly.  Really vague.”

Marissa moved back to Krouse’s side, joining him as he checked on Noelle.  His heart skipped a beat at the realization that her teeth had stopped chattering.  He had to put his hand in front of her mouth to make sure she was still breathing.

“This stuff’s expensive.  Seven digit expensive,” Cody said.

Jess shook her head, “Second page said something about there being a whole battery of physical and psychological tests,” Jess said.  “Think about that.  Why?  Simple logic here, on why we shouldn’t use it.  They think there’s a reason someone with psychological issues shouldn’t take it, and we’re in the Simurgh’s area of influence.  We’re all a little neurotic right now.”

“We can wait,” Krouse said.

“Not that I’m on Jess’ side,” Luke said, “But you’re contradicting yourself.  You were saying we should use this stuff to protect ourselves, and now you’re saying we should wait until everything’s over with?  Why do we need to protect ourselves after the Simurgh’s gone?”

Krouse shook his head, glanced at Jess.  She wasn’t backing him up on this count.

Because even after the Simurgh is gone, we’ve still got to get home.

“I… guess I don’t know,” Krouse said, unable to think of a good response that didn’t involve telling the whole truth.

Shit,” Cody said, his eyes going wide.  “Jess, how far did you read?”

“First few pages.”

“You read this part?”  He folded the front few pages over the back and put the papers in Jess’ hands, pointed.

Krouse looked at Noelle, squeezed her hand.  She squeezed his back, weak.

“You awake?” he murmured.

Marissa leaned over, “She is?”

Noelle didn’t respond.  Krouse shook his head, “Thought I got a response there.”

Marissa rubbed his shoulder.

“Guys,” Cody said, excited.

Krouse could have hit Cody.  That attitude, that excitement, when Noelle could be dying?  Being so excited about fucking superpowers, when a friend was seriously hurt?

“Wait, look, give me that,” he took the paper from Jess, “Listen.  ‘Client three should be informed about the impact of the product on his cerebral palsy, blah blah, legal stuff about liability, no promises, blah, blah, where was it?  Right. Product potentially offers a mild to total recovery.”

They stopped.  More than one set of eyes turned towards Jess.

“I-I don’t have cerebral palsy,” she said.

“But cerebral palsy starts with the brain, right?” Cody asked.  “That’s the most complicated, delicate part of the body.  If something’s going to fix your brain, maybe it could fix other stuff.  Let me read more, it’s-”

“No,” Jess said.  “Even with that.  Especially with that, I’m not going to take it.  And I’m not going to let you guys take it either.”

Why?” Cody asked.  “Why especially?”


“You’re getting paranoid,” Luke said.  “It’s the singing in your head that’s making you think that way.”

“It’s not!  I know.  I’ve read about this stuff!  About her!  This is what she does!”

“What is?” Krouse asked.

“Why do you think they’re so scared?  Why do you think there’s a fence with soldiers ready to shoot you?  Do you even get why they’re staying out of earshot?”  She pointed at Krouse, “Why the heroes Krouse saw wouldn’t listen to him?”

“Because of the music.  Because we’re edgy, unpredictable,” Oliver said.

“They could use tear gas to manage that.  Or soldiers and guns!  Why couldn’t they, with ninety percent or more of the the city evacuated?”

“Then why?” Krouse asked.

“Because this is what she does.  This is why she’s scary.  Behemoth can turn people to cinders if they’re within two hundred feet of him, Leviathan has sunk or leveled major landmasses.  Killed millions in one day.  But the Simurgh is the one that scares them all the most.  You saw how she fought, the way she dodged and blocked stuff.  She sees the future.”

Krouse nodded, “I kind of guessed that, but-”

“No,” Jess cut him off.  Her eyes were wide.  “Listen to me!  She showed up in this city in Switzerland.  First time.  Then after a while, she sings.  Starts throwing buildings around, puts a nuclear power plant in critical condition, spreads winds contaminated with radioactive dust, kills some heroes, drives people to riot and panic with her song.  Like, okay, that’s Endbringer standard, right?”

Krouse stayed still, waiting.  He could see Marissa and Oliver nodding.

“Six months later?  A promising scientist commits suicide.  Another person tries to blow up a TV station to get back at his girlfriend.  Superhero assassinates a prime minister and the next guy to be in charge of that country starts a war.  They were all there, when the Simurgh showed up.  The superhero’s friends said there was no sign, before his encounter with the Simurgh.  He just went downhill, after.  There was other stuff, stuff I don’t remember.  But it’s all bad.”

“I don’t get it,” Luke said.

“It keeps happening.  Every time she shows up.  Every time, people who’ve heard this song that’s in our head?  Things go wrong.  They snap, they break, their lives fall apart, or they do something, and it makes something else happen, and there’s a major disaster.  That guy who was supposedly making a clean energy source that could power whole cities?  His wife and kids got killed and he became a supervillain who made it a life goal to murder anyone who tries to better society with their powers.  There were others.  Over and over, every time she shows up.  She never does quite as much damage as Leviathan or Behemoth, not right away, but stuff always happens later.”

“So she… what?  Makes people into murderers?”

“No,” Jess said.  “Not exactly.  She doesn’t change how you think.  Not directly.  It’s more subliminal, like… like cause and effect.  Every time she shows up, she picks a few people, turns them into guided missiles, so they make something horrible happen weeks, months or years after they ran into her.”

Krouse looked at the suitcase.  “And you think this briefcase is that?  A cause and effect thing?”

Jess offered a short, high laugh, humorless, “Isn’t it?  Isn’t it awfully coincidental that we got in this situation, here, trapped within her range, with Krouse going out to find a doctor for Noelle and finding this instead?  I know what you guys are thinking.  This stuff, maybe it can let me walk again.  If it works.  Maybe we all get superpowers.  But the Simurgh sees what’s going to happen.  Probably.  And she’s not on our side.  However she does it, she’s already rigged it all like some Rube Goldberg machine that starts and ends with a mindfuck.”

Luke shook his head.  “But you can’t… if you think that way, then there’s no action we could take that she wouldn’t have predicted and nudged so that it leads to the worst case scenario.”

Jess laughed again, short.  There were tears in the corners of her eyes, “If she picked us, and that case makes me think she did, then we’re screwed.  Period.  Every time she shows up, people in her range become walking time bombs.  We don’t use the stuff in that case, we still wind up playing the roles she predicted we’d play, and horrible things happen.  But if we do use the stuff in that case?  It’s the same, we’re following the sequence of events she envisioned, only the horrible stuff is worse because everything we do from then on out is a few orders of magnitude more… I don’t know.  Superpowered.”

“There’s got to be something-” Luke said.  He winced as he shifted position and moved his leg, “Something we can do.”

Jess shook her head and said.  “There’s no way this works out for us, because she’s already seen what’s going to happen.  That’s why I didn’t want to tell you.”

Nobody responded.  Krouse looked at the others, saw Marissa’s eyes, wide, saw Oliver sitting with his arms hugging his knees.  Luke’s face was drawn.

Jess continued, “Those soldiers outside the fence?  They knew it too.  That’s why they were scared of us, Oliver.  They think we’ll say or do something, and it’ll give them some idea, put the right ducks in a row, and they end up dying in a car accident or murdering their wives.  It isn’t a quarantine against a disease or a virus or any of that.  It’s a quarantine against cause and effect.  A quarantine to limit our ability to affect the outside world.”

“It can’t possibly work that way,” Krouse said.

Jess shrugged.  Bitterly, she said, “Maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe you have to listen to the song, so she can hack your heads and figure out how you’ll act, and people are otherwise too complex for her to predict.  The way we act, the fear and all the emotion, maybe it’s just a side effect of that hacking.  Or maybe all that’s wrong, and she really is that powerful.  But that’s what she is.  She’s more fragile than the other two, doesn’t last as long in a knock-down, drag-out fight.  But the aftermath?”

Jess shifted the case from her lap, shoving it to the ground.  “The aftermath is where she’s worst.”

Krouse stared at the metal case.

It took maybe a minute before Krouse could be sure it was happening, but the screaming began to fade.  Two more minutes passed before it was gone in entirety.

Silence.  Absolute silence, without any screaming in their heads, rumbles of destruction miles away, or ambient urban noise.

That silence was broken when Jess began to sob.  None of the others joined her.  Krouse suspected it was because they had yet to process it.  Only Jess had had the chance to really think through all the ramifications, only she knew enough of the details and evidence to paint a more complete picture and believe it all.

Krouse felt damp in his own eyes, more for Jess than himself, odd as it was.  Some of it was exhaustion, the sheer mental strain they’d been under.  He would have stood, walked over to offer support, to reassure her, except how was he supposed to tell someone things would be okay when everything suggested they wouldn’t?

But he wasn’t the type of person who could do that anyways.  He’d never had to, didn’t know how.  He was worried he’d fuck it up, and Jess was good people.  She didn’t deserve a fucked up attempt at reassurance.

No.  He’d stick to what he knew.  Krouse blinked the tears out of his eyes, cleared his throat, forced a shit-eating grin onto his face.  “I don’t see why everyone’s getting so worked up.  How bad could it be?”

Jess made a choking sound, some combination of a sob, a sputter, a hiccup and a laugh.

Krouse saw the incredulous stares, couldn’t help but smile.

Ass,” Luke said, but he smiled too.

Cody turned, stomped off, kicked something hard as he passed through the front hall.  Any miniscule lift in the mood faded in his wake.

The room descended into silence again.  At least, Krouse noted, Jess isn’t crying anymore.

Krouse was still holding Noelle’s hand, his fingers interlaced with hers.  He pulled her hand towards him and kissed the back of it.  His eyes settled on the metal case.

Maybe it wasn’t us, he thought.  Maybe she picked a bunch of other people, and dragging us into this world was just something that happened.  Maybe we’ll get Noelle fixed up, we’ll find our way home, and all of this winds up being some scary memory.

He huffed out a breath, a silent, derisive, one-note laugh.  He’d managed to distract or trick Jess into feeling just a tiny bit better.  But even telling myself something that ludicrous, I can’t do it for myself.

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108 thoughts on “Migration 17.5

  1. I honestly don’t think I would turn down the powers. At least that way you could live it up or do some good before you inevitably caused massive problems.

    • Or try and go into the middle of nowwhere and live like a hermit. If you don’t interact with anyone, you won’t cause something to happen. I bet this is the hero’s plan for everyone in the quarantine area.

      • What if that is what she WANTS you to do? Something might happen while you are out there that causes massive death and destruction.

        • You can say that about ANYTHING you try to do. Only way out is to commit suicide–oh, wait, that’s probably what Smiurgh wants too.

          If I was in such a situation, I’d probably just keep on going as much like I was before as I could. No use worrying about what I can’t change.

          • Yeah. I mean, maybe one of them goes on to cure cancer or something, but now they’re too scared of what the Simurgh might’ve done to go outside again.

            • Or the heroes have locked them in Simurgh-related quarantine. We have to assume that everything that happens has been orchestrated by the Simurgh to cause the maximum damage to human civilization. Why would she attack a given city, knowing who’s going to make it out and who’s going to be stuck in there the rest of their lives? You can’t beat someone who can see the future. If free will exists, the Simurgh has already compensated for it. We just have to make our peace with that.

              Much like the psychic screaming, the only thing that helps is trying not to think about it.

          • I suspect the worst part would be knowing that you’re going to make the wrong decision. If you were smart enough to make the right decision, to prevent the devastation, she wouldn’t have picked you.

      • And what if by going to live as a hermit you aren’t in a position to help stop the End of the World threat because no one can find you and you have just what they needed? She’s the scariest of the three because if she was close enough to set things up you can never know whether or not what you are doing is helping or playing right into her hands until you end up killing thousands or millions just like she wanted you to. Precogs are the most game-breaking powers ever if they can be used right and the Endbringers are all about game-breaking powers being used to devastating effect.

    • I find it odd that no-one thinks of the simplest solution.

      Don’t do anything bad.

      Of course this doesn’t preclude you being a cog in the infernal wheel so to speak, but that could happen just as easily normally. I guess Simurgh’s terror comes from making people aware of their natural reality and then making them feel culpable.

      That being said, if you’re coherent enough to be aware that it’s a problem, then you’re logically going to be better off if you stay optimistic and positive.

      • It strikes me that the paranoia of what Smiurgh is going to make you do is at least as bad as anything Smiurgh actually makes one do.

      • This is my first comment after binge reading for two weeks.
        Thank you wildbow.

        Anyway – so I read all the comments for this chapter and was very surprised that no one mentioned that the heros in the last chapter were talking about using white phosphor 15minutes after Smirugh left. This would indicate (corroborated by the killing of the hero who was over contaminated) that the people of the Wormverse have learned to just slaughter anyone left in quarantine. So the paradox introduced by the comments above and below does not have a chance to propagate.

        Thank you for an incredible series, and to be honest I’ve been picturing it as a tv show on par with GoT.
        Have you ever considered screenplay adaptation?

        • Yeah, I noted the white phosphor thing. Though that was specifically to deal with the house so that no one could read the documents that the attack had conveniently placed where people who would ordinarily never see them could read them.

          That actually seems like the closest thing to a way out of the trap, hence why Dragon and Myrrdin support it. If they just indiscriminately destroy everything that could be used to manipulate someone, that shuts down every possible plan where The Smiurgh arranges to manipulate someone by placing an object where they can find it. It does mean she can trick the heroes into destroying something so as to make the owner angry at them, but anything between “Don’t look at it! Burn it!” and “Leave everything as you found it” means The Smiurgh can use both tactics. If things only sometimes get destroyed, she arranges for the stuff that’s dangerous to survive and for everything else to be destroyed. Which, well, she just did.

  2. “Jess, You’re the one that’s always followed the superhero scene,” Krouse

    Need to make You’re lowercase.

    • Oddly, I think it’s more likely Ballistic is Luke. Cody seems to have a lot of outright animosity toward Francis, while Luke is willing to listen to him but not really trust him. The latter sounds more like the Trickster-Ballistic relationship I know … which means I’m probably completely wrong.

    • It seems obvious. Since this is Wildbow, I’m betting Cody tries to kill Krouse and dies in the process or otherwise does something that leads to Noelle getting two doses instead of just one.

      • And now the Simurgh’s effecting me on this end of things. Since it seems obvious that it won’t be Cody because he seems like the obvious choice, now I’m thinking that was Wildbow’s plan so that it really is Cody.

        Luckily, while I lack Simurgh’s phat chess skills, I’m good at reacting. Watch this. *Turns head away. Turns it back and appears to be frightened. Turns away again, turns back furious. Turns away one more time, turns back around holding a pair of severed young canine eyes over his own*

        I’d like to see a gerbil or hamster or whatever pull that off.

    • Ballistic is specifically described as being big muscular and (american) football player esque. So is Luke. Cody is not. Not definitive evidence but still…

  3. On the fifth day of Wormmass, my wildbow gave to me;

    Five tagged capes,
    Four thurfan cnapa,
    Three brave friends,
    Two cameos,
    And the start of some origin stories.

    (not counting Oliver as a tagged cape since we have no idea whether he has powers yet)

  4. I had considered the possibility that the Simurgh sets into motion chains of events that cause great suffering once I found out she can predict the future.

    It reminded me of a character in the Kingkiller Chronicle series of books (amazing fantasy series by the way, I highly recommend it.) This character is a somewhat mythical being that sees all possible futures and guides whoever it talks to into causing huge amounts of suffering simply by talking to them. It is so highly feared that there is a secret society devoted to assassinating anybody who happens to find this creature.

    • I bet the secret society becomes a huge danger to the world because the mythical being knew it would cause it to be created just by its existence.

      But yeah, that’s the old problem with predictions. Like with Oedipus or even with Death in Samara, we face the possibility of causing our fate by trying to avoid it. But then, if you think that’s how it will happen and do nothing special to avert it, maybe it’ll cause it to happen as well.

      • Theoretically, you could break out of the chain of events by allowing something truly random to affect you. Since the universe is not deterministic on the quantum scale, a resourceful tinker (Dragon) could take advantage of that and design a portable device with quantum mechanistic stuff that you use to decide some of your actions for a while. Since the outcomes of the quantum events wouldn’t be predictable by the Simurgh, you could throw off her ability to affect your life.

        Then again, you could argue that a series of small events wouldn’t change the course of a larger one. For example, World War 1 would likely still have happened if Franz Ferdinand hadn’t been assassinated. Tensions in Europe were high enough at the time that pretty much anything would have set it off.

        • How do you know the Simurgh wasn’t predicting that you would cause such a device to be built? Now it knows how to make one as well. Man just having the Simurgh exist must be such a fucking head trip all the time.

          • Couldn’t she simply predict these random effects?

            Then again maybe she is not truly prescient, she simply extrapolates per cause and effect. On the other hand, people’s lives are affected with a lot of random stuff everyday.

          • I would say that one random effect would be someone coming to the universe from another dimension. Problem is, you’ll notice her power seems to work with regards to other dimensions as well.

        • Well Dragon seems smart enough to try and test this chaos theory in combat. Have her machines follow random directions from the device and measure how long it takes to beat her versus how it would without the machine. Plus two can play the prediction game. Wildbow mentioned that there are precogs watching the stock market among other things, so maybe they should pull their resources so to speak to try and figure out who the loaded weapon is and stop them before they go off.

          • Problem with that is that you never can’t be sure that you’re not simply doing exactly what she predicted and wants you to do…

            Safest course of action could even be to try to minimize her influence, and ignore her as much as possible. Then again, maybe that’s the express route to catastrophe. You see why she gives people such headaches?

          • I was going to make a reference to that whole thing that confuses people about “She knows I’ll do this and I know she knows I’ll do this, but maybe she knows I know she knows I’ll do this and now I know that she knows that I know that she knows…” but then that got me wondering if Simurgh just thinks the world needs to be destroyed due to all the masturbation. Being able to know all that intimate stuff about people can really lead to viewing a lot of things people wish they hadn’t been seen doing.

            Reminded me of an episode of Mr. Deity… *flashes back to it* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BqB9P7KLig

            Good times, good times.

      • Actually, it has been said in-story that
        If the character could indeed see every possible future and wanted to fuck over the world, then it would fucked to a much, much greater extent than it actually is.
        As in, constant war and all.
        So either this character can’t actually do that much, or he has another goal. Like being left the hell alone, which this secret society would archieve nicely.
        Unfortunately, how similar he is there to the Smurf, we don’t know for certain.
        I just know that, as the Earth is not a glowing ball of slag, she hasn’t got to anyone with the potential to start a global thermonuclear war yet, either because she didn’t want to, or because she couldn’t. Although, wasn’t there something about Switzerland being an irradiated wasteland?

          • She reminds me of the ascendants of chance (gods of Shakespearean human error) from The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. The comparison with the gods as a group works I think because while they might not intend to immediately destroy the world or destroy it at all we can only assume their intentions aren’t good for us.
            Considering the story is already concerned with universe hopping/manipulating timeline pruning entities their eventual apocalypse plan (if there is one) could encompass quite a bit more than the destruction of one world.

        • More importantly, it’s pointed out that if you have a character that can really foresee the future to an absolute degree, your reaction becomes irrelevant, since no matter what you do (or avoid doing) it’s what they wanted you to do. So you might as well do what you would have done otherwise. So say the Simurgh sings her throat out at me, predicting everything I’ll do as a result, and making sure it’s the worst possible thing. All she’s done is absolve me of responsibility, since there’s literally no point in thinking about it. It’s exactly the same as coming to the conclusion that you live in a universe with no free will.

  5. So that is pretty interesting. Noelle is the loaded gun, but the other Travelers amplify that. Explains why Sundancer is reluctant to use her powers too. And with Noelle loose, I imagine Trickster’s going to be raising hell.

    But then again, we also know Alexandria and Armsmaster were there. They’ve had an effect on things, especially Armsmaster.

    So yay, even more damn wild mass guessing.

    The only problem is I doubt Simurgh or anyone else can have perfect knowledge over the future even in the Wormverse.

    Be nice to know what other people’s flashbacks were to help figure out their purpose. They’re a symptom of a few mental disorders and it’s clear they were prompted for a reason. Primed Krouse with Noelle while she’s hurt and he got a hold of potentially regenerative vials of power juice. Primed Cody with disliking Krouse.

    • If she indeed had an effect on Armsmaster, then that could very well mean that he got his Glory Hound/Templar streak from there, or at least got it exacerbated. This in turn could mean that the path Skitter, being heavily influenced by Armsmaster, has taken, and every major event where she played a pivotal role, or could have played it if things had been different, could have been engineered by the Simurgh.
      And everything where the Travelers have been a factor has been influenced by default. How big of a role have they played in all those messes with the ABB, with Leviathan’s aftermath and the Nine again? Might be an explanation why Brockton Bay has gone to hell to such an extent up until now. And with Noelle running around, might even go a little further.

      Or, hell. I just remembered: Her conversation with Sundancer led her to think about her relationship with Brian.

      • wow, wouldn’t that be a Wham episode, to learn that skitter and the rest have been the simurgh’s pawns?

        also, thanks for making taylor and brian’s relationship suddenly become foreboding. i’ll be able to sleep SO well tonight

        • Don’t forget that Cauldron seems to be opposed to the Endbringers. They were relying on Coil’s plan. The plan Skitter and the Undersiders just foiled. Quickly followed by Noelle escaping.

          • In other words: Well done Skitter, you have served the Simurgh well. You have just halted the final plan to save the world and stop the endbringers, and to add insult to injury, your relationship with your boyfriend is probably going to somehow lead to a whole bunch more dead people.

            • More like good job, Coil, you tried to get away with horrific atrocities and because of that earned the ire of a very powerful parahuman team that would otherwise be on your side. And now you’ve failed to complete your world-saving plan or whatever it was.

          • One theory I discounted due back when I did the whole “Theory 1, Theory 2” thing was that Taylor’s mom secretly worked for Cauldron and was transformed into Simurgh, but it doesn’t match up as far as time goes.

          • I was going to say, the Doc had mentioned Coil being their only hope or something. Cauldron also wanted to ensure Jack’s escape though so their intentions in regards to saving people from the end of the world can;t really be trusted.

    • Has anyone considered that Noelle might be the world ending scenario that Dinah predicted. Think about it if the Simurgh predicts or sees the future that is months or years down the line. Then maybe bringing the Travellers to this world, Noelle’s injury, the formula, them working with coil, the slaughter house 9 conflict, the culmination of the Monarch arc with her getting loose. This and all the other random effects twist and turn was predicated on the desire to have her kill everyone on the planet. A true endbringer scenario.

      • We’ve probably considered it. The Wild Mass Guessing on the world ending could probably equal the whole Worm TV Tropes page at this point.

        Think of it like a prophecy. We’ll guess and when something seems like it fits, we’ll go “Aha! The foretold end is nigh!” and all that right up until it turns out to be something different or not coming at all.

  6. Well now I won’t feel too bad if Taylor is ever captured and sent to the birdcage. This chapter pretty much guarantees that Amy was chosen to be the catalyst of a escape. Unless she goes completely bonkers and pulls a bonesaw on the inmates and then they escape. Anyone remember how many villains are in the birdcage?

      • Well look what the 9 did with only 8 members. Granted they probably won’t all be as needlessly destructive as them, but an escape of a few hundred villains is going to cause some death and chaos. I can sort of see the Marquis returning to the city to establish his claim and coming into combat with the Undersiders. Amy might even join them if she doesn’t choose to stay. Lung seems like the type to want revenge, and if Bakuda has any free will lett, she will be the same.

  7. Interesting.

    I wonder just how accurate the heroes are in their prediction on how much exposure is okay. If the cause and effect thing was really as dangerous as Jess says, why would Dragon have offered to have Grandiose record a message for his son? Couldn’t such a message be a potential vector of causing harm too?

    The worst part is that if everyone is wrong about how long you can be safely exposed to Simurgh and how subtle and indirect the effects can be, everyone who was ever involved in a fight against her could be part of her plan. Part of the reason why the world is such a crapsack world might be that its greatest heroes are being corrupted by Simurgh.

    Another thing is the question of what exactly Simurgh was trying to achieve by creating the Travelers. Was it just to create whatever became of Noelle? Why the need for someone from outside the Universe? Did they need someone with an outside perspective or did they have another quality she needed? Have the Travelers already done their part in the chain reaction of doom by supporting Coil?

    Further considerations: How would Simurghs chaos defying causality domino bombs interact with other powers who can manipulate fate like the late Coil, Dinah, or that Irish girl with the luck based powers.

    Baseless semi philosophical speculation: Might the power-granting giants have similar abilities on a much grander scale or might even the universe itself have something like a law of narrative causality ala Pratchett or concepts like Ta’veren from Wheel of Time. If there is someone who can manipulate destiny is there some underlying destiny or at least someone’s plan at work in the wormverse itself that arranged for our protagonist to be in the right time at the right place to affect the fate of the world? How much of the coincidences that have happened are just coincidences because it is that sort of comic-book-like story and how much are they part of the plot?

    Added speculation on who of the current protagonist survive: I have no idea, I just hope it won’t be the sort of forced plot twist that ends up in a line like “I am now going by Oliver in honor of his heroic sacrifice.” or “We are calling her Noelle to remind us of what happened.”

    • what if coil was so important specifically because his power could counter the simurgh’s laser guided tyke bombs? i mean, the ability to make two different decisions and chose the one with the better counter would be perfect to fight off her ability – especially if he had a larger force under control and could thus “spread” his power.

      also, I don’t think that any of the travellers is going to take oliver’s name in his honor. first, none of them seems to like that much, plus they are all quite a bit too self-centered to do something like that.
      as for noelle, she has already been described, so we know her appearance matches the one of the noelle in this flashback, plus Krouse would probably murder anyone who even suggested something like that…

    • On Grandoise: Since he hadn’t exceeded the exposure limit, any message he sent to his son should be safe, assuming the heroes are correct about the time limit.

  8. Yep this section has been terrifying. After encountering Simurgh you would be wondering about the consequences of your actions for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE and even your free will would be in question.

    And killing yourself would may be just as bad because it would still affect other people.

    • And may be exactly what the Simurgh was looking for in the first place.

      The thing that’s really getting me about the ‘logic loop’ is that it has a ‘built-in’ fallacy. The assumption is that the Simurgh is the one causing all of these extended-term effects, however, an unscrupulous organization could easily set things to make it *look* like such was the case while profiting on the side from paranoid individuals seeking to mitigate the situation.

      In Real Life, we have individuals who walk into movie theatres, schools, restaurants, buses, and other locations with bombs, guns, knives, chemical weapons what-not.

      How *easy* would it be to just say “Oh, the Simurgh made me do it!” or “It just felt like the thing I had to do.”

      The ‘take’ I’ve been getting, which is a bit of a skew to it, is that Noelle has been kept in what basically amounts to a ‘sensory deprivation’ situation. What if her power wasn’t it appeared to be on the surface but a method of generating a ‘way home’ by forcefully mushing two realities together but the amount of resources needed require her to ‘consume’ whatever is in the ‘local’ reality to open a doorway back home? If one looks back to the ‘big plan theory’ of Simurgh operations, then it isn’t Noelle getting the power. It’s Noelle getting back *home* while ‘infected’ and opening a ‘beachhead’ for subsequent invasion of her original reality.

      And this is why it gets screwy.

      • Hate to reply to myself but a second thought popped up while showering for work.

        All of Dinah’s probabilities were based on the presence of *Coil* as a factor.

        *lets that sink in for a moment*

        • Which means the big world ending thing could be closer……god Jack could meet Ziz(It’s easier to type) and she ‘helps’ him by making a second trigger event, and that could bring mess of trouble…..D: Unless Coil dying WAS a random event that could actually stop Ziz’z plan meaning the world ending event is stopped…..DAMN PROBABILITY!!!! @_@

        • I disagree. Dinah sees what’s there, with or without Coil. Presumably, if the last thing he did before leaving to meet the Undersiders was to ask her his chances of returning alive, he would not have gone. I guess we must believe that either Dinah was tapped out and he was unable to ask, or Tattletale’s manipulations made hm careless and he didn’t bother to ask.

  9. Just as a playful observation, the Simurgh seems to be driving us in the comments section entertainingly insane even in our world, where presumably her powers don’t actually work. I hope everyone is prepared to endure “Is this the Simurgh’s doing?!” from here to the end of the serial. 😀

    • I’ve commented to someone before that Behemoth is known as the herokiller, Leviathan levels cities, and the Simurgh derails storylines.

      Consider it another case of breaking the fourth wall, like when readers forget Imp exists.

      • Who is Imp? Sorry. That was a pathetic joke, but someone had to say it and the gecko wasn’t willing.
        In other news: Simurgh. Creating bigger mindscrews than time travel since… around when people discovered her power.
        great story Wildbow. Trawling through the archives, first time commenter. I just could’nt resist that joke.

    • We’ve already been like that about the end of the world. Luckily, I seem to be unaffected by the insane-driving. If anything, with the quick turnaround on these, it’s been harder to come up with something really fun for y’all.

  10. Well damn. That’s a brillaint installment. I’d suspected that (I think) Tattletale’s reference to the Simurgh being the only true telepath was something to do with an area-of-effect ability. Judging from how she was viewed by all the other characters, I thought it would be some really freaky mind-communication thing in which she drove people mad.

    This far outclasses that.

  11. It came down to this.

    The Amazing Brain versus Psycho Gecko. One was the world’s most powerful clairvoyant and telepath who was also holding a molecular accelerator cannon in his hands. The person it was pointed at was an annoyance.

    “So you see, Psycho Gecko, any action you take against me, I’ll be able to see it and aim accordingly,” he said. He heard 15 possible responses in his head at once before Gecko’s real one.

    “So then I can see you have to be so careful because you don’t have time for a second shot and that thing is slow enough to dodge.”

    “I never said that.”

    “You never didn’t say it.”

    “Anyway, it’s your move, Gecko.”

    “Then I choose to bust it,” he said as he began to dance. Brain shifted into a better stance to cover him if he attacked from that position. It was true that at this range he had only one shot to hit the supervillain. Due to the way the gun charged up, he couldn’t guarantee a hit unless Gecko was moving directly toward or away from him. Every scenario showed Gecko capable of detecting the charge with his armor and evading. If he wanted to survive this, the other man would have to attack him or run for it. Instead he was doing the robot. Poorly.

    The supervillain naturally made his powers more difficult to use. Too random. Now it was even worse, given all the possible phat moves his opponent may break out, including completely random ones. The Running Man. The Cabbage Patch. The Hammer Dance. He needed to be wary.

    The villain tried a more seductive number next. When he sang along, the Brain could hear music playing from inside the helmet. “Oooh, Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.”

    10 minutes later, he began to notice how tired his arms were getting holding the rifle. From the grin in Psycho Gecko’s head, he could tell the other man realized it as well. He was just dancing there, taunting him, the same excited and frantic movements of the old man from the Six Flags commercials. The song blared the song out of his helmet.

    The villain’s solution was to stall him with an utterly useless action until he was forced to run, fire, or drop the gun. He’d never even seen it coming because he knew Psycho Gecko was always going to try and attack him. He’d just glossed over everything that wasn’t that attack. Now it was Brain’s move. Fire, run, or drop the gun.

    Psycho Gecko commenced doing the Worm ominously. His powers told him this was a man determined to do the Worm as long as it takes to defeat him.

    With every moment, the rifle weighed on his arms.

    “Your move, Brain,” he heard in his and Gecko’s thoughts.

  12. “Because the Simurgh’s been replying old memories for me, and the irritating thing is they aren’t my most painful memories.” – I think you mean replaying here unless she’s adding commentary to their flashbacks.

  13. “Jess shifted the case from her lap, shoving it to the ground. ”The aftermath is where she’s worst.””

    Let’s compare

    6+ million dead, total geographic on the scale of countries destruction, potential massive tsnunamis, potential global destruction of the entire global ecology as the entire ocean current gets fucked up, huge environmental impact either way, possibly causes huge earthquakes too, fucks with the weather


    6 people become missiles

    Yeah, alright whatever you say Jess. Seems pretty pathetic to me.

    • Merely removing Alan from equation means that humanity won’t survive on another planet. Expect Alan become not a dud but a missile in the form of Mannequin, going on to devastate other world-changing tinkers.

      And let’s not remove that Cauldron’s planned guy in form of Coil is kind of dead, killed in the presence of people who were directly brought into the world by Simurgh’s actions – the only potential saving grace on that is that Leviathan was trying to seek Noelle while not exactly friendly.

    • She created a nuclear wasteland in Switserlansd,created a war,stoped God knows how many chains of effects that would help/ensure humanity survives/beats the Endbringers,and more that would derail/destroy humanity,and she spread paranoia in AND out of universe.With a thousand swords you can destroy an army,yet with a single,well placed dagger you can destroy a country.Not saying the other Endbringers are less effective,but they aint more effective,nor more scary:a tsunami that kills 1 million people is less scary than a virus that does the same,slower,after all,because the second is more random and only obvious in retrospect

      • Yup, this is the reason that the Smurf is feared more than any of the others. You never quite know just who she planted where with what trigger that is going to go off and destroy god knows what. Maybe ten people die. Maybe ten million die from the causality chain. She IS paranoia. The only way to beat her is not to play. Even then that may kill thousands because you weren’t where you were supposed to be to save them. She horrifying both in universe and at meta levels.

  14. “Simurgh’s been replying old memories”

    replying => replaying

    “The sort of stuff that , and you’re sabotaging me”

    not sure what’s going on here… missing word?

  15. > “Cody,” Krouse had to bite his tongue to keep from saying something he shouldn’t. ”I’m pretty badly hurt, here. If we have to talk about this stuff, can we at least do it while walking back?”

    “Because the Simurgh’s been replying old memories for me, and the irritating thing is they aren’t my most painful memories.”

    It looks like you shouldn’t have an ending quote after “walking back”, since the context suggests that Krouse is still the one talking in the next paragraph. Also, “replying” should probably be “replaying”, as noted by the previous poster.

    • Hmm, I take that back. It looks like it is Cody talking in the second paragraph after all. It’s still a bit confusing.

    • > Marissa stirred. her eyes went wide as she looked at Krouse’s hand. ”We, um- first aid supplies. We have them.”

      “Her” should be capitalized, since it’s starting a new sentence.

  16. “Because the Simurgh’s been replying old memories for me” ->replaying

    “The sort of stuff that , and you’re sabotaging me.” -> word missing here?

  17. I’m reminded of the Cthaeh, from The Wise Man’s Fear, an otherwise terrible book you should not read. The Cthaeh is defined by 4 characteristics:

    1)Stuck in a tree in faerie, unable to affect the world directly.
    2)Always tells the truth.
    3)Perfect knowledge of all possible futures based on branching causality.
    4)Purely malevolent.

    As is stated explicitly in Wise Man’s Fear, there’s no second-guessing these creatures. If you try to do what it doesn’t want, that was really what it wanted to do after all. If you avoid taking powers, it’s because you would’ve saved the world with them if you’d taken them–and if you take them, it’s because you harm the world, having done so. If you commit suicide, it’s in order to prevent you from doing something good. If you do good things, the result will end up bad, and every moment of happiness from then on is tainted by the knowledge that somehow it’s bad for the world. So ultimately, because there’s no counter to the power, all you can do is act normally, and follow your best judgment. Do the best you can. It’s a paradox, that way.

    Also, agreed with earlier commenters that Armsmaster’s douchebaggery is likely caused by the Simurgh in order to turn Skitter to the Undersiders and against Coil. He doesn’t seem to be nearly as much of a jerkass here.

    • Looked for a comment on the Cthaeh, but surprised that you think the wise man’s fear is a terrible book, i think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. funny how different tastes can be 🙂

      So idk, for anyone reading it, i do recommend that book.

  18. “You ran into people with powers. Villians?” -> Villains
    (Yay! found a typo as-yet-undiscovered! Perhaps I can be useful)

    Thanks for the awesome read!

  19. Unless it’s Noelle blowing up immediately right now, I’m going to guess that the Simurgh’s destiny mindfuck power and its influence on the Travelers somehow intersects with Jack Slash’s apocalypse event.

    They could very well all be separate, of course, but I’m cheating and banking on narrative necessity.

  20. Quick typo: “The sort of stuff that , and you’re sabotaging me.” Looks like there is a word missing in this sentence.

    Hmm a disaster dominoes Rube Goldberg layer precog who is probably the one who rates as “most powerful precog.” Well that is scary. Telekinetic and telepathic is bad enough but one who can also see at minimum years ahead to precisely push good people JUST so to set up worst case scenarios? Damn, whoever created the Endbringers is seriously fucked up. One makes it his mission to kill heroes. One makes it his mission to kill continents. One makes it her mission to set up disaster dominoes and doesn’t even have the courtesy to kill people while they are in view.

    I also find it interesting how no one immediately brought up the issue that there are six doses and seven of them. I would’ve thought this would be the most divisive part of the early argument. “Hey if we are getting superpowers than who doesn’t get a dose? I vote Krouse because he’s a dick or Noelle because she’s dead already!”

  21. Second read-through, so I’ll avoid spoilers, but the simurgh is fucking creepy… Also just noticed that mannequin is mentioned here

    “That guy who was supposedly making a clean energy source that could power whole cities? His wife and kids got killed and he became a supervillain who made it a life goal to murder anyone who tries to better society with their powers.”

    So that’s simurgh’s fault? Thought they mentioned that Leviathan killed his family earlier? Possible that I’m confusing that with dragon’s creator though

    • Yes,you are confusing it with Dragon’s creator.In Armsmaster’s interlude(do not confuse with Defiant’s interlude,it was the 8 interludes that introduced the S9)it says it pretty clearly that Mannequin was fucked up by the Smurf.

  22. “Because the Simurgh’s been replying old memories for me, and the irritating thing is they aren’t my most painful memories.”

    I got u

  23. I have a feeling this is all just cosmic justice payback for the time these (semi)progamers spent smurfing.

  24. First time commenting, and I wanted to let you know (if you still ever look at the comments) that Worm is probably my favorite piece of fiction. You’ve done a great job with character development, plot, suspense, and all the other elements of a good story. I can’t wait to finish reading the rest!

    In case you are still viewing these, I think I found a mistake:
    “He was worried he’d fuck it up, and Jess was good people.”

    Is that supposed to be “Jess was good with people”?

    • No, it’s an idiomatic way of conveying “Jess was a good person”. You might just not have encountered it before.

      –Dave, who has

  25. I don’t know that I could possibly get that worked up about whatever’s going on with the Simurgh after she’s gone. Anything she does is going to happen unless you have a way to alter the future. Some people get anxious over that sort of thing, though, so I’m not surprised.

  26. First time commenting but I love the series so far!!! I’ve been binging it for three days straight because I just can’t put it down. I noticed a typo, when Cody was talking to Krouse, “The sort of stuff that , and you’re sabotaging me.” if you haven’t put it in print yet, it would be good to fix maybe.. although not sure if you’re still checking comments in 2017.. but great work!!

  27. And now I wonder if Jack Slash ever had a massive exposure to the Simurgh in his past.

    This is reminding me of the Cthaeh.

  28. I hate Jess, she is behaving so haughty…
    And it´s totally unrealistic that they don´t know that something doesnßt fit. After all they should really know if an country like Switzerland is gone in their world….

  29. I love how Jess is kinda right about Mannequin but confuses his power. Creating energy sources instead of creating environments. Little details like this makes different perspectives much more believable, than if she was correct.

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