Chrysalis 20.4

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From the moment Charlotte had sent her text, I’d been bracing myself for the worst case scenario.  I’d resolved the situation with Greg, and I’d had just enough time to let my guard down before things started falling apart for real.

A guard stopped me in my tracks before I was three steps out of the office, arresting me mid-stride by setting his hands on my shoulders.

I resisted the urge to fight him.  I wasn’t sure I could, without a weapon, my armor or powers, and it threatened to make the situation worse.  He peered down at me, but I averted my eyes, staring down at the ground so he couldn’t get a straight look at my face.

“No running, kid,” he said.

He let me go, and I resisted the urge to breathe a sigh of relief.

My thoughts were a mess, a jumble of half-finished thoughts, ten times worse than it had been earlier in the day.  Somehow, in the midst of it, I managed to establish a few priorities.  Slip out, get rid of evidence, assess the threat, and then address it.

I walked slower.  I had the papers I’d removed from the clipboard, and I started tearing them up as soon as the guard had disappeared through the doors of the office.

On a more strategic level, I drew on a share of the handful of bugs in the school to get a sense of my surroundings.  I’d be letting people know Skitter was present, if they noticed the odd movements of the flies and ants, but I had good reason to believe someone already knew.

Either the people after me were the good guys, and it didn’t matter if I clued them in, or it was one of my other enemies, and the heroes showing up could be a good thing.

Arcadia High consisted of two longer buildings joined by a third, joining them to form something like a capital ‘H’.  The main office, where I was, and all the other administrative and staff-related facilities seemed to be located around the center.  The only exits from this immediate area would open into an open space where I would be surrounded by walls lined with windows, all looking down at me.  Worse, the doors all had the heavy horizontal bars that suggested they were emergency exits, and an alarm would sound if I used them.

Assuming I had someone after me, I couldn’t afford to put myself in that position.

That left me two options.  I could head into the building to my left, which featured four stories of classrooms, the cafeteria and a gymnasium, with a door that led to the student parking lot at the front of the school, or I could head right, into a building that was much the same, though longer, with an auditorium and the front doors of the school in close proximity to one another, and quite a few more classrooms.

I headed for the front door, to my right, depositing the scraps of paper in a trashcan on my way.  I moved as fast as I could without drawing undue attention, discreetly placing bugs on all of the guards I could find.

I stopped in my tracks as my bugs made contact with two other individuals.  Adamant and Sere were in the company of two guards, moving from the front door to the intersection immediately in front of me.

Making a sharp right, I headed for the stairwell, ducking away before they could advance far enough ahead to get a glimpse of me.  I’d worried they were making a beeline straight for me, but they stopped at the junction where the two hallways met.  I was already reaching the hallway below.  The guidance counselor’s office and staff meeting rooms sat behind floor-to-ceiling windows with the same glass that the exterior windows had: hexagon-shaped cells blending near-seamlessly into one another.  Looking straight at it, I couldn’t tell the difference, but the light caught each cell differently if I viewed it at certain angles, making them stand out.  Measures against Shatterbird?

Behind one of the windows, I could see two guidance counsellors sitting in a circle with a dozen students.  Nobody, not even the guard who was standing on the other side of the glass door, gave me more than a glance.

The exterior windows of the building were all securely closed.  The building was cool despite being a greenhouse of sorts, but it made getting my bugs into the building a difficult matter, and that left me with a relatively small swarm.  I gauged the number of bugs I could spare, and situated the less mobile bugs on doors and at the points where the walls met the floor or ceiling.  I might have preferred a denser collection, to map out my surroundings, but it gave me a sketchy mental picture of how the hallways were laid out.

A small cloud of flies was only now reaching the front office, slipping inside as a student opened the door, navigating between legs and feet to make their way to the principal’s office.

Listening in required conscious thought, but I’d been working on training my brain to follow human speech with the insects’ alien hearing.  It was easier, the more I had nearby, but I’d have to make do.

“…fight on my campus…” she spoke into the phone.

I had some information now, for as long as she was on the phone.  Not much, and it required me to divert some focus to translating, but it was something.

“…of my students are …ly sensitive … to … them feel unsafe…”

It was an unfamiliar school, and while I had a basic sense of the layout, particularly on the exterior, the interior was something of a hurdle.  The hallway I was on ended in short staircases at either end, each of which led up to the main hallways of the larger buildings.  I made my way towards the one furthest from Sere and Adamant.

“…if that’s an order… yes… fine…”

The principal hung up the phone, placing it on her desk.  She didn’t act right away.  I quickened my pace.

The bugs I had on her pant legs informed me that she was swiveling around.  I had to think about the layout of her office before it clicked.  The computer.

I was at the top of the stairs, the door that led to the parking lot at my left, when the signal went through.  Every single guard in the building reacted in the same moment, as did Adamant and Sere.  Some withdrew things from their pockets -phones, I could guess-, while others were already kicking into action.

It wasn’t just the guards.  The bugs I had on classroom doors informed me of some students slipping out of class.  Two students, both boys.

My enemy was the Protectorate, or someone with strong connections in the Protectorate.  Nobody else would be able to pull this.

Guards stepped into the building and shut the doors behind them.  The heavy, mechanical sound of the doors locking echoed down the hall around me; the doors leading outside were all being sealed shut.

The gate at the front of the school was closed, and a guard was heading for the chain-link barrier at the edge of the parking lot as well.

Could I run?  Maybe.  Fight my way past the guards?  It was possible.  I could cloak myself in bugs, use my limited repertoire to disguise myself, to disable and/or distract them while fighting my way outside.  Could I get to the end of the parking lot in time?  That, too, wasn’t impossible.

All together?  With barely a hundred bugs available?  I wasn’t so sure.  Any fight took time, it involved a risk to myself, and I wasn’t wearing my costume.  If any of the guards had a weapon they’d confiscated or if one of the capes in the area caught up with me, I’d be more than screwed.

I didn’t have any bugs on my person.  I’d been concerned about a pat-down at the gate, and I didn’t want to have bugs crawling throughout the inside of my pant leg or in my pockets when a guard searched me for weapons.  I wasn’t wearing my costume for much the same reason.  Stupid of me.

I was stuck.

May I have your attention please?”  Principal Howell’s voice sounded from speakers throughout the school.  “The school is now being locked down.  For your own safety, please remain in your classrooms.  Students not in an assigned classroom should proceed in a calm and orderly fashion to the nearest seating area.  Students in the north wing of the school will need to make their way to the auditorium.  Students in the south wing should gather in the cafeteria.  Remain calm and rest assured: there is no immediate danger.

The noose was constricting around me.  The students would be contained in select areas, and classrooms would be cleared one by one.  If the Protectorate was involved, I wasn’t even sure I could find a proper hiding spot.  Didn’t Kid Win have some ability to see through walls or detect heat signatures with his goggles?

The two boys had reached a room on the bottom floor, near the gymnasium, and were quickly changing into their costumes.  Clockblocker and Kid Win.

What did the good guys know?  They’d been alerted that I was in the school.  I’d been in the office only minutes ago, and the principal had put my name into the computer.  That was probably the catalyst, given how fast things had proceeded in the minutes since.  The principal got the phone call, and had ordered the lockdown as a consequence.  The fact that she’d warned me, it didn’t jibe with the lockdown: she probably hadn’t wanted to do it.

It struck me that they didn’t know that I was in the school now.

Inside of the building, I was largely defenseless.  Outside, I did have my bugs.  I doubted I could get out without drawing attention, but I could theoretically get them to call off the lockdown.

My bugs moved from the surrounding blocks and collected near one of the fire doors I’d noted earlier.  They formed into a decoy, a rough copy of my general silhouette, covered in bugs, and then began moving toward the school gates.

One of the guards standing by the auditorium saw and shouted for Sere.  The white-shrouded hero hurried for the door.

Sere was a long ranged cape, probably capable of killing my swarm with little difficulty.  I split my swarm off into further copies, maintaining their movement towards the gate and the walls.

Another announcement was broadcast throughout the school.  “A supervillain is currently near the school entrance.  Students in the central areas of the school should relocate to the cafeteria.  Anyone already in a secure place should please remain where they are.

The office was emptying, now, and guards were breaking away from their groups to ensure that every student that had been sitting around in the hallways was moving to the appropriate areas.  Emma was among the forty or fifty students heading toward the cafeteria, nestled in the midst of the group, while the principal followed at the rear with two guards in her company.

Behind me, the guidance office was evacuating as well.  The glass door opened, and the soundproof seal broke.  I could hear one of the counselors speaking to the twelve or so teenagers around him.  “Let’s go to the cafeteria.  If this takes a while, we’ll at least be able to eat.”

He spotted me and gestured for me to join the group.

I could have argued and asked to go to the auditorium instead.  There were any number of excuses that could have worked, including ‘I have an issue with one of the students who’s in the cafeteria’.

But I was more interested in being invisible.  Better to play along, to think of a plan and execute it, while doing as little as possible to draw attention to myself.  Here, at least, I’d be hidden among others.  I joined the crowd moving in the direction of the cafeteria.

More guards were directing other students to the cafeteria, the groups merging into a single mass, with the cafeteria doors as the bottleneck.  Inside, everyone was spreading out to find tables.  Again, I noted the distinction between the two varieties of student.  The bright and cheerful ones were collecting together, filling up every space at the tables closest to the door and to the front of the cafeteria, where all of the food was available.  Others were spreading out, alone or in groups of two to five.

The principal and other staff members were standing by the door, seeing that everyone filed peacefully into the room.  Emma was sitting at one table with all of the secretaries and a few of the teachers who I supposed hadn’t had a class to teach.  She glared at me as I walked into the room.

I found Charlotte, too, identifying her by the cube of paper with the ladybug inside that I had my more prominent minions carrying these days.

“Taylor!” she hissed, as I made my way towards a table at the back of the room.

I was dimly aware of Sere striking down one of the decoys.  The moisture in the air zipped to his hand, and nearly half of the decoy was ruined, the bugs dazed or unable to move.

The spiders, I noted, suffered worse than most.  They used a kind of biological hydraulic system to move.  Shit.  I liked my spiders.  They were particularly useful.

I reached Charlotte and murmured, “Best if you don’t know me.”

“Hey, Taylor,” she hissed the words, twisting around in her seat.  When I didn’t reply, she repeated herself, “Hey.  Is this about you?”

“I think so,” I muttered.

I took a seat at a table near the back, folding my arms in front of me and resting my chin on the back of my hands.  Staying out of sight, while keeping an eye on everything.  It also allowed me to focus on my swarm.

My bugs were discreetly tracing back routes and other options.  Was there a place where the cafeteria staff unloaded the day’s food?  Some back way leading from, say, a gym or custodial entrance?  A way onto the roof, even?  I didn’t have enough bugs to spare that I could leave them on walls.  I was forced to personally memorize every corridor and feature of the building that might be important.

Outside, Sere was working at destroying my decoys.  I split off more copies, and then moved one group to him to see if I could blind him.

The bugs were being sucked dry of moisture as they got too close to Sere; I wouldn’t be able to disable him with just my swarm.  He drew more water from a cloud of bugs, desiccating and killing hundreds.

The number that died was indicative of something, though.  As devastating as the attack was, the effect didn’t cover a massive area.  It was a roughly cone-shaped area, with a long reach, but narrow breadth.

If he was surrounded by moisture, maybe I could use that against him?  My flying bugs started doing bombing runs.  They picked up small stones and dirt, using the fine tarsals that helped them cling to walls.  There wasn’t the suction, but it served to allow them to pick up specks at a time.  They flew in tight loops, staying high over Sere as they dropped the fragments, touched ground to collect more dirt, and repeated the process.  I was careful to spread them out and collect the fragments from multiple places so he couldn’t kill too many at a time.

Dense moisture and dirt could become a thin mud, and it might serve to blind him or distract him where my bugs couldn’t.

In the cafeteria, another group of students was filing inside.  Fifty or sixty in all, they each bore telltale signs of the kids who’d stayed.  Many were drenched in sweat, and the teacher with them held a basketball.  Had they been in the gym, burning off nervous energy, working on building social bonds and all that?

There were maybe three or four hundred people in the cafeteria, now, as students from all over the school streamed in, including most of the ones from the auditorium.  With the increasing number of students, it was impossible for anyone to have a table to themselves.  A group of three boys claimed the far end of Charlotte’s table, and she stood up.

She had issues around unfamiliar men.  It might have served as a push for her to do what she’d been debating doing anyways.  She joined me at my table, sitting close enough that our shoulders touched.

“What’s going on?” she whispered.

“You know when Tattletale vetted everybody?”  I whispered back.

Charlotte nodded.

“She made a list of names, some vetted people along with some others who were safe.  Mixing it up.  She gave the list to the principal, with the idea that maybe she could cut us some slack and we’d help keep the peace in the school in exchange.  So she had an idea that I was related to the Undersiders, she told me to run and hinted someone might be after me,” I said.

Charlotte nodded again, mute.

“I tried,” I whispered, “but I couldn’t cover enough ground in time.  Someone forced her hand and ordered her to put the school on lockdown.  I can’t slip out without drawing attention to myself, I’m not in a position to fight, and it’s only a matter of time before they find me.”

Shit,” she said.

“Exactly,” I said.  “I won’t blame you if you want to move somewhere else.”

“I’ll stay,” she said.


“I’ll stay,” she repeated.

I relented.  I couldn’t afford to focus on this, when I needed to control my bugs and memorize any possible escape routes or hiding places.  “If anything happens, get clear.  You don’t know me.  Your ‘little brother’ is counting on you, and he should be your priority.”

“Little brother?” she asked.  I saw the realization as she remembered our code word.  ‘Little brother’ referred to all the kids in her charge.

“Oh.  Right,” she said.

Kid Win was making a beeline for the front door.  I clustered bugs on the surface of the door, blocking his line of sight as much as I was able.

It didn’t work.  The thermal gogglesWhich means he can tell there’s no body inside any of the decoys.  He pushed the door open and shouted, “Sere!”

That was about as far as he got before my bugs descended on him, filling his open mouth.

“What are you going to do?” Charlotte asked.  With the degree of attention that I was devoting to what was going on, she sounded almost distant.

Even with the murmuring of hundreds or so students conversing, the cafeteria was eerily still and quiet compared to what was going on outside.  Adamant was standing at the doorway to the auditorium, simultaneously trying to keep an eye on the stray students from the north building and the fighting outside.  Clockblocker was making his way to the front.  He was slightly different; he wore what seemed to be a gauntlet, out of proportion with the rest of his body.

“I have a few options,” I whispered my response.  “I could be aggressive, take on the people at the door.  I think I could slip away.”

“Why didn’t you do that already?”

“They were too guarded, and they were anticipating trouble from within the building.  My bugs are causing some chaos outside, now, and they’ll have their backs turned.  I’ll have time to improvise a mask, which I didn’t, before.”

“You have to get out of the cafeteria first.”

“I’m not too worried about that,” I said.  “There’s two or three possible escape routes I’ve been able to find, if I can get my hands on a set of keys or create a big enough distraction to get away with making some noise.  The principal has my back, and she might make it easier.  I’d ask her for a key, but I’m not sure she would be willing to risk it, and there’s too many people around her.”

Including Emma, I noted.  One person I could count on to pay attention to me.

“What if she’s the one who made the call to these people who are after you?”

The principal?  I shook my head.  “Her priority is keeping this school and its students safe.  Besides, I overheard her communicating with someone on the phone.  If she was playing both sides, there’d be no reason for her to maintain the ruse when I wasn’t anywhere nearby.”

“Unless she knew you could hear through your bugs,” Charlotte added.

“Unless she knows,” I echoed her.  “I don’t think she does.”

Kid Win was suffering at the hands of my swarm.  He drew a weapon, but my swarm was already prepared with lengths of silk.  They constricted the weapon and prevented it from unfolding.  Sere, for his part, had his hands full trying to take down the decoys.  A large part of what I was concentrating on was the decoys, getting enough details right, and splitting them off in a way that suggested I could be any of them, while simultaneously keeping them far enough apart that he couldn’t attack more than one at once.

“Taylor,” Charlotte whispered.  “If they know who you are, they know.  They could find you again, or put your face on the news.”

“If they did, it would be breaking a good few unwritten rules.  Especially if they only knew who I was because I helped with the Echidna situation.  They can’t afford to punish villains for helping against the big threats.  It would mean fewer people showed, and they need all the help they can get.  Here, at least, they could say I was intruding on neutral ground.”

The explanation felt feeble.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Charlotte whispered, echoing my line of thinking.  “Doing it here, at a school, with so many potential hostages around.  Breaking the code?”

“I’m thinking…” I replied, “I’m thinking everyone knows the Protectorate is falling apart.  Legend’s gone, Eidolon’s announced he’s leaving as soon as things get quieter, the head of the PRT stepped down, a whole bunch of rank and file members left, and so did Weld and a lot of the more monstrous capes.  Maybe there’s pressure from the top to put one in the win column, remind people why the Protectorate exists.”

And who better to take down than the creepy teenage supervillain who’s leading the team that took over a city?

“But in a school?”

I didn’t have any guesses to offer on that count.  I focused on the fighting outside instead of responding.

Getting too close to Sere was killing my bugs just as easily as his long ranged absorption attack.  I had to attack him from range, and the rain of dirt and small stones wasn’t doing anything, as far as I could tell.

I turned to a tactic that had crossed my mind while fighting Echidna.  She, like Sere, had been tricky to get close to.  Unlike Sere, she’d been too big to really tie up.

Spiders drew out lines of silk and formed them into cords, weaving them into one another to form extended lines, fifty or so feet long.  With the combined efforts of dozens of flying insects, half gripping one end and half gripping the other, the lines were flown in Sere’s direction, so he was caught by the middle.

The bugs holding the ends then continued onward, keeping the cord taut as they circled him, one group flying clockwise, the other flying in the opposite direction.  In this manner, they orbited him, winding him up in a single length of cord.

With five cords being wound around him in that fashion, I soon had him hampered, his arms and legs restricted in movement.

He kept moving forward, attacking my decoys.  As he passed a signpost, I hurried to have my bugs wind the remaining lengths of cord around it.  Lines went taut, cords constricted around him, and he fell.  He struggled, but it didn’t seem he would be on his feet anytime soon.

With Kid Win on the ground, thrashing, that was two down.

The other two, I was pretty sure I could deal with them if it came down to it.  I wasn’t sure what Clockblocker’s glove did, but I had a suspicion.  Adamant’s armor was just begging to have silk cords wind through the chain links and armor plates.

My bugs rifled through Kid Win’s pouches and armor compartments.  Masses of bugs and teams of the larger, stronger bugs working to pull silk cords helped to divest him of various tinker tools and components.  His smart phone, a cylinder with a trigger on the front and a button on top, a sphere with a hole through the center, with screw-like rifling and electrical connectors in the interior.  There were two devices like tuning forks, too, with tines that wound around one another without touching, and wires beneath the handles.  Bugs in his ears helped to work an ear bud out of position and carry it off.

Once he was denied as many of his tools as I could move, I dragged them away.  It was only when I was sure that he wouldn’t be able to use them against the swarm or against me that I eased up on him.  I let my bugs drift in the general direction my decoys had gone, as though I were leaving or gone.

He stood, gagging and choking.  Sere wasn’t in sight, and I’d taken Kid Win’s phone.  There was only one place for him to go if he wanted to communicate with the others and touch base.  He headed back into the school.

I was ready.  Bugs flowed out of his pockets, gaps in his armor and from where they’d clustered at the small of his back.  I tied his wrist to the door handle.

It took him a long few seconds to realize the door wouldn’t swing shut until he moved.  That bought the remainder of my swarm time to turn around and flow through the open entryway.  They headed straight for the guards, and swept into their pockets the same way they had with Kid Win’s pouches.

Keys?  Yes.

While Kid Win and the guards were blinded, my bugs fetched the keys.

I stood from the bench of the lunch table.  “I think I’m set.”

“Just like that?” Charlotte asked.

I looked at the front of the room, where other students were feeling hunger and teenage appetites overcoming their fear of what was going on elsewhere in the school.  Only a dozen or so.  Maybe they don’t have a steady supply of food where they are, I mused.  There were areas of town which weren’t in good shape.

There’re pizza slices, I noted.  It was a reminder of how the day wasn’t going as I’d planned.

“It shouldn’t be a problem,” I said.  Get out, then see what Tattletale can manage as far as damage control.  “Wish me luck.  I’ll send you a message and meet you at the lair after school if everything goes according to plan.”

I crossed the cafeteria, heading for the buffet tables and sneezeguard-protected counters with empty trays waiting to be filled by staff.  Emma was at her table, I noted, surrounded by secretaries and teachers.  I was joined by other hungry students, eager for their free food, and their bodies helped to block me from the sight of both Emma and the staff.

Confidence, I thought.  I stepped around the counter and through the doors that led into the kitchen.  Confidence made it look like I knew what I was doing; being furtive would only arouse suspicion.  My bugs were still carrying the keys, bringing them along an air vent.  I’d need to find a way to open a vent cover and retrieve them, but it was among the smallest of the problems I’d face today.

I found a door to the outside.  My bugs clustered on the other side, my hand pressing against my own, separated by an inch and a half of door.  I glanced over my shoulder to make sure I hadn’t been followed, then started looking for a way into the air conditioning duct.

The smallest of the problems I’d face today.

There was an impact, heavy enough that the lights flickered.  Even the bugs I’d gathered on the door were knocked loose, both by the force of the landing and the flying dust and debris.

Right outside the door.

I didn’t need to move my bugs to search out the identity of this antagonist.

A figure strode through the swarm of bugs.   He tapped the door with the end of his weapon, and the breath was knocked out of me.  Every bug within thirty feet of the door died, including the ones in the air conditioning duct.

I was still reeling as he pushed against the door.  It was deadbolted, but the metal of the door’s surface buckled, and it tore free of the frame.

He was wearing armor, forest green and gold, with the stylings of a lizard’s frills or bat wings on the trim, and a faint etching of scales to the green portions.  His spear, too, bore a distinctive design, with an etching like a lizard’s skull worked into the heavy spearhead.

He advanced, his spear point leveled at my chest, and I backed up, maintaining a distance between us.  To do otherwise would mean letting him drive the weapon into my chest.

On the other side of the campus, another heavy armored suit touched ground, somewhat more gently.

He stopped when we were at the front of the cafeteria.  I kept backing up, knowing it was futile.  Dragon had exited the other suit, and was using a jetpack to navigate the hallway, flying towards us with an accuracy and ease of movement that belied how fast she was moving.

I didn’t have an escape route.  The woman stopped directly behind me, at the entrance to the cafeteria.

“Dragon,” I said.  “And Armsmaster.”

“The name is Defiant,” Armsmaster corrected me.  His voice had a funny sound to it.

“Skitter,” Dragon answered me, loud enough for everyone to hear.  Her voice was almost gentle.  “I’m sorry it worked out this way.  My hand was forced.”

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462 thoughts on “Chrysalis 20.4

  1. By popular request, I’ve added notes to the table of contents to mark which interlude features which character. In one or two instances (Grue) I’ve been particularly vague or chosen to use the civilian name over the cape name, because knowing in advance could shape how the chapter is read.

    Thanks for reading, guys. Have a happy Easter weekend if you’re celebrating, and a happy non-Easter weekend if you’re not.

  2. In the cast page, under Lung it says ” At the most extreme end of his transformation, he is capable of trading blows with an Endbringer, though he has only participated in one such fight.”

    Does this mean Lung actually fought an Endbringer once, or does it mean he’s only fully transformed once?

    Also- how did Dauntless die? Did it happen offscreen, or have I just forgotten about it?

    I’ve also been wondering about how far the Simurgh’s precognition runs. I remember vaguely something about other precogs being able to screw up her power. Did she see far enough ahead to be able to set up Echidna hitting Brockton Bay specifically, or was she just able to set things up enough to start the process of turning Noelle into a monster without knowing specifically how and when and where the damage would occur? I would assume Dinah and Coil’s powers negate the Simurghs influence.

    If Tattletale got in range of Scion, would she discover that he had similar physiology to the Endbringers and never was human? Ok, I don’t actually expect you to answer that one- I just wanted to throw out something I’ve been thinking of.

    I know none of this really had anything to do with the current chapter- I just figured I’d get a better chance of a reply if I put it up early.

    • I try to reply whenever I’m able. If I don’t, it’s less that it’s up at the wrong time and more that I’m just busy/distracted.

      Lung fought an Endbringer once. Dauntless died onscreen. Can’t comment on the Simurgh or Tattletale; I don’t answer those sorts of question, regardless of how on or off target it is. A direct refusal/acknowledgement would be spoiler-ish. Acknowledging that there is or isn’t a spoiler is spoiler-ish.

      • > I don’t answer those sorts of question, regardless of how on or off target it is.

        Like I said, I didn’t expect an answer. Just wanted to throw it out there, cause I had been thinking about those things.

      • Would you be able to tell us which Endbringer fought Lung? Or the outcome? (Obviously Lung didn’t win, but he could’ve run, been incapacitated, etc) Ignore me if it’s spoilerish, just been curious about that myself since I read the Hive arc earlier.

      • Re: confirming the existence of spoilers is spoilerish — reminded me of a time travel game’s “Further information not available here” (Continuum? i think the name was, there’s a copy or two on scribd, anyway)

    • dauntless and two other capes got frozen in time by a bakuda bomb(tm) launched by miss militia. although it was mostly leviathan’s fault they got stuck in there, but i wonder if that counted as friendly fire…?

      • I don’t know if he technically died or if he’s just moving so slow that Brockton Bay will have crumbled by the time he exits the bubble.

        How much is time slowed in that bubble, anyways? And what happens if someone tries to go in?

  3. Yay, Dragon and Armsmaster. Gotta love how little robots/androids/cyborgs are bothered by bugs…

    I wonder how much control Sere has over the amount of moisture his shots drain.

    • They are presumably more vulnerable than Mannequin was and this time it is not Skitter who has a whole bunch of innocent hostages to protect during the fight.

      • On the other hand Skitter is in some serious shit if she actually threatens all those innocent hostages. She also doesn’t seem to have enough of a swarm inside the building for such a threat to really get off the ground.

      • How much time do you think Taylor could buy by feigning ignorance about being Skitter? None or almost none?

        Aside from that…she may be screwed.

  4. Ah. Looks like somebody with authority gave Dragon some orders, and that little restriction is buried deep enough in her code that Armsmaster hasn’t been able to remove it yet.

    This is, shall we say, unfortunate.

    • Assuming Armsmaster actually would have wanted to remove it. Maybe he was able to implement an override but didn’t trigger it for this case because he doesn’t like Skitter. Or maybe he took the opportunity to create some sort of authority to himself and was the one who gave the order to attack Skitter.

      Afterall whatever restrictions Dragon is under Armsmaster is there of his own free will.

      • Armsmaster being there of his own free will would mean that he blew off hunting down the core of the Slaughterhouse Nine in order to attack a cape who he’s known to have personal issues with while she was in her civilian identity and not causing any particular trouble. If nothing else, it would be an atrocious move from a PR standpoint, and if there’s one thing Mr. Mostly Armless knows it’s the importance of PR.

        So I find it more likely he was given orders, and his current “totally not violating the terms of my house arrest I swear” status means that he really can’t afford to openly disobey anyone who outranks him.

        • I’m thinking now that it must be Cauldron behind this. They’ve got the motive (several motives, when it comes to Skitter) and the ability to break the ‘unwritten rules’ in this kind of way.

          • And I’m thinking that Dragon isn’t beholden to Cauldron, and would, if forced to obey it, perform perverse genie-like twistings of its orders to the degree that it stopped ordering her around.

            • I can imagine her doing the same here anyways. If her programming allows it. We don’t know how she’s programmed; Dragon might be forced to obey the spirit of the command, and be forced to misinterpret that somehow.

          • Channels, Toast. Cauldron’s name doesn’t need to be on the writ. All they have to do is push a little in the right direction. Which is what I meant by “ability to break the unwritten rules”.

          • so… everyone’s curious about the same things I am… interesting…

            I know earlier Dragon was curious to talk to Skitter, she may have decided Skitter’s trying to be a force for good, and there may be a chance she can control all the plant-incarnated 9 now running around – they have simpler minds, hopefully. Anyway, I’m guessing ulterior motive, not just wanting her arrested.

  5. “With five cords being wound around him in that fashion, I soon had him hampered, his rms and legs restricted in movement.”

    Missing ‘a’ in arms.

    Nice chapter. Didn’t think it really would be Dragon.

  6. So in the end Armsmaster did mindrape Dragon into submission. Shame.

    And now it’s off to Birdcage with you, Skitter!

    Personally, I would take all the kids hostage. Or make a big political statement, like disclosing the Cauldron protectorate and their dirty secrets. Just as a final f*ck you.

    But that’s me.

    Oh, well. We’ll see what Taylor does.

    • I really don’t think Colin mind-raped Dragon. It just seems he hasn’t yet been successful in taking out those Three Laws subroutines. Taylor’s probably right about someone wanting to make a statement, and forcing this to happen.

      If Taylor does go with the disclosure of Cauldron route, it might actually save her, as it could suddenly turn the PRT into a non-legitimate authority, letting Dragon defy them.

      But Taylor doesn’t know any of this, sadly.

      • re: authority — You know, she specifically noted that it was ‘local’ authority, if I remember right. Skitter might qualify.

    • wouldn’t it be somewhat amusing if during their time together, dragon actually instilled a sense of moderate compassion in def-master and he’s actually there to HELP skitter?

      sure he probably still doesn’t trust her, but he also didnt immediately shoot her with a grappling-hook….tinker…thing..

      maybe there’s hope for him yet?

        • Doubtful. The ‘ride to jail’ break has been done a few times already, story-wise, and the Birdcage is not something I see the Undersiders successfully defeating – especially without Skitter.

          A few possibilities. 1a. She goes to jail and stays there until Armageddon, and the story follows her exploits trying to not die from the nasties in there. She’d be completely powerless, no doubt. With interludes from the rest of the Undersiders building the power base without her – or not. I really don’t want to see this one happening. 1b. She goes to the birdcage, but someone or something else breaks her out. Not particularly fond of this scenario either; Catwoman already went there in the last Batman movie.
          2. She talks down or defeats the cyber-duo, somehow. Maybe Char sends a message to the rest of the Undersiders?
          3. She goes to trial, and Tattletale social-fu’s the trial, getting her released.
          4. Godzilla attacks right now.

          • Or. Or. Damn, this just clicked for me. Cauldron wants Skitter – or at least Eidolon and Alexandria pushed for it.

            There’s so many reasons. Not least is that Coil was supposedly their Great White Hope… now whose shoulders does that fall on? Do they want revenge, or just to know what happened/why he’s dead/how she did it? Do they want her help somehow? Do they want her head on a wall?

            Iunno, but I do know they have a lot of reasons to want her for something. And they could have put a hit on her, so to speak, through channels Dragon would have to respect.

          • *Conservation of Detail*

            all—every single one—of the interludes have focused on people who were important to the MAIN STORY in some way.

            marquis straddles the line because his backstory was important for panacea’s downfall, but there is ALOT of detail put into the politics of the birdcage.

            canary is there for… what? in no way does she contribute to the main story…
            …until now?

            my vote is skitter going to birdcage.

            • I think you’re probably right, but to play devil’s advocate, I should point out that (a) the initial Marquis interlude not only set wheels in motion re: Panacea, but demonstrated Simurgh involvement and (b) the Canary interlude showed you the fate of Lung and Bakuda’s as well as introducing Dragon as a character.

              Both those interludes served important story purposes even if the main story never ends up in the Birdcage…

          • I agree, it’s a strong possibility she goes into the cage. I just hate it enough to wish for a Godzilla attack instead.

            I’m putting Birdcage on an equal probability with a chat from Cauldron, though. Or maybe some combination of the two.

  7. Arcadia High consisted of two longer buildings joined by a third, complete with a building that joined them, forming something like a capital ‘H’.

    So wait, is that three or four buildings total?

  8. I was right!😀

    Why Dragon?! This wil not turn out good, no not at all. Well atleast Emma might get her mind blown by this…..but Danny is in trouble….God what will he think of his daughter being Skitter?! Poor man just might have a trigger event. xD No i’mma get some sleep and see what PG will have to say…..

    • I see some hostages for skitter, i mean, there is a whole caffeteria of them😄. And i think we know who will be the first one.

      • Armsmaster brought a deluxe bug zapper this time. Skitter’s essentially defenseless.

        Wow, is that a game breaker, by the way. Now that this tech is shown to be possible in-universe, Skitter is screwed. By anyone who can make or buy a zapper. “Oh, Skitter, are you trying to stop me??” zap “Die.”

        She might as well retire. Oh, wait, that’s out of her hands.

        • he’s had the bug zapper since the PRT banquet/fundraiser thingy

          the only way she was able to stop it was to put a non-conducting material between it and the surface he was grounding it on… unfortunately the only one she had at the time was the silk in her costume….

        • That would require Armsmaster to sell his tech at a cheap price. And for Skitter not to adapt new tactics. “Die. Hey, what’s wrong with the button?”

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  9. Wait, they called her Skitter in front of the whole cafeteria?…… FUUUUUUUuuuucccc.k
    Come on man, you cant leave us hanging like this……. snif snif

    • On the other hand Taylor called Defiant Armsmaster in front of everyone as well.

      Between that and going after a cape in their civilian identity whoever is in charge at that point seems to have given up on the truce.

      If word gets out about this they won’t have many villains turn up for the next Endbringer fight and with the Triumvirate potentially out of action they really can’t afford that.

      • >>“Dragon,” I said. “And Armsmaster.”

        >>“Skitter,” Dragon answered me, loud enough for everyone to hear.

        the narration implies a difference in the volume for each character. skitter may not have spoken loud enough to get through the cafeteria’s doors (which were closed iirc). besides i doubt the common civilian is aware of what happened to armsmaster, or at least they wouldn’t find his presence as off-putting as other capes might

        (and only those who knew what he did. for all we know, the story that got circulated was his fight with mannequin. grievously wounded, but still fighting the good fight as defiant!)

        still, i’m half waiting for greg’s ‘I KNEW IT’ moment…

    • Yeah, I’m waiting for Emma to come up and tell them they have the wrong person, this little worm couldn’t be Skitter. Then Taylor calls her Emma, and Dragon begins the verbal SMACKDOWN!

  10. But I was more interested in being invisible. Better to play along, to think of a plan and execute it, while doing as little as possible to draw attention to myself. Here, at least, I’d be hidden among others. I joined the crowd moving in the direction of the cafeteria.

    Meanwhile, I, as Taylor, was still moving in the same general direction as the crowd. More guards had directed other students to the cafeteria, and everyone was spreading out to find tables. Again, I noted the distinction between the two varieties of student. The bright and cheerful ones were collecting together, filling up every space at the tables closest to the door and to the front of the cafeteria, where all of the food was available. Others were spreading out, alone or in groups of two to five.
    Missing paragraph?

  11. I really can’t help but be amazed by how stupid the hero’s are being, they know for a fact that the Undersiders have info that can destroy them, and considering Armsmaster breaking the Endbringer truce is the smallest thing, that’s saying a lot. And yet, they still went after Skitter, and they did it when she was in a school as a civilian, using info they gained during another truce. So unless they manage to capture ever other Undersider right away, they’re going to get destroyed. Either that or Tattletale decides to hold the info hostage to Skitter being released.

    The only other way to not have that happen is that they aren’t arresting her and people high up just want to talk, but that’s pretty unlikely since Dragon did seem pretty upset about what she was doing, which does imply that they’re arresting her.

    tl;dr Hero’s are derpy and bad things are going to happen to them because they did not think this through at all.

    • So yeah, just had a lightbulb moment as to what’s going to happen, I think that maybe the hero’s are doing this to get a way to talk to Skitter (and pals), and that this is the only way for them to do it. Sure they know where her secret base is, but if the hero’s were to rock up there, it would kinda start things off in a bad way since Skitter would go into panic mode and things would get nasty for everybody.

      And although that’s kinda what happened here, I’m pretty sure their plan was to take advantage of the fact that Skitter was isolated from her power base and as such, less likely to fight back so they could talk to her without huge collateral damage.

      And as for why Dragon and Armsmaster are there, it’s because of the reason why they want to talk to Skitter, because the Undersiders are not only one of the few groups to beat the S9, but they may have info about them that could lead to wiping them out for good.

      As for Dragon being upset about what she’s done, it’s because of the fact that she’s just blown her identity right in front of a massive crowd, which is a bit of a dick move and Dragon knows it. Also, something that I just remembered, none of the hero’s actually made an attack against her, although that could be because of the fact that Skitter took them out before they could, but it could mean something.

      As such, it suddenly becomes more likely that the hero’s aren’t complete morons and are planning something big, although there is still the chance that they’re there to arrest her.

      • Sure, but all this depends on the fact that they knew they could get Skitter isolated from everyone else and were preparing for it, which is not the case. Had Taylor decided not to bother with the whole Greg thing, this wouldn’t have happened.

        A plausible explanation is the since Dragon knew about Skitter/Taylor, she had everyone on “alert” and ready to move in case Taylor showed up on the radar, but I don’t remember anything “official” happening besides the principal talking to Taylor and printing out a fake address (I’m assuming she didn’t enter Taylor’s name in any system).

        I can’t remember when if Dragon discovered Taylor being Skitter before the S9 mess or after, as it would depend a lot on that too.

        • Probably happened due to the text mails about the bullying, that could have been a giveaway, not for a normal person, but for Dragon? totally plausible.

        • If Dragon knew Taylor’s name and just wanted to talk peacefully, why go through the trouble of staging a fight at school?

          There must be hundred databases that say that contain her home address. Everytime she entered her name in a sweepstake it went into some database that Dragon should be able to hack into (or outright buy since the address databases get sold for marketing purposes) and that is not even mentioning all the official records (some of which admittedly might have been destroyed by Shatterbird due to bad backup/offsite-storage policies).

          If Dragon really just wanted to talk she could have taken her pretty Gynoid body to the Taylor’s home in the evening and rung the doorbell and told Danny that she was an acquaintance of his daughter and ask if she was home.

          Hell if she was looking for a fight instead of wanting to talk she could have done the same only with a Terminator looking for Sarah conner vibe instead.

          • Dragon isn’t the one initiating this conflict- she’s just following orders.

            And Dragon does know Taylor’s name- she figured it out in her interlude.

      • Because I know when I want to talk somebody into helping me, I first run them to ground with half a dozen superheroes, announce their deep dark secrets to a cafeteria full of vindictive teenagers, and then drag them in by force.

        Really gets them in a mood to help their fellow man.

    • I don’t think this is stupid idiothead moment such as a deliberate ploy by whoever ordered this (probably Cauldron) for some effect. Send a message? Create controversy regarding non-Cauldron capes? Intentionally spark-off a cape war so they can disperse and regroup their operations in the chaos? My guess is that Cauldron doesn’t want to try to steer the PRT/Protectorate into safe waters and are gonna leave the whole institution to burn while they try something more drastic.

      I really doubt this is Dragon reaching out for a conversation, if she wanted to do that she could easily send her a text message for Chrissakes instead of busting into a school.

      Whatever it is, I don’t think the “heroes” are in on it. Those present at the school we’re probably just responding to the lockdown that they didn’t expect. Which was for the purposes of keeping Skitter there long enough for Dickhead and Robo-girl to get there.

    • Well, not exactly. Remember that Dragon has a hate-on for Cauldron – could be she wants them outed for what they are.

    • Maybe Dragon is acting stupid on purpose here? She was ordered to capture Skitter by an authority figure, so she can’t disobey. So she does it in a way that violates the truce – giving Taylor opportunity to invoke the truce and force them to let her go. Granted it also messes up her life, but perhaps if the alternative is being sent to Birdcage, Dragon decided it’s worth publicly revealing her identity.

  12. You know, everyone’s been eager to see Dragon and Skitter meet up but I’m suddenly more curious about what Defiant will have to say to her.

    Also, what’s with slacking on hunting the Nine there D&D? You’re both machine enough to keep going 24/7/365 so what’s with this little vacation here?

    • Or what she’ll have to say to him.

      “The name’s Defiant.”

      “No. The name is Armsmaster. The same dickcheese who tried to murder me. The same person who will sacrifice anything and anyone for his personal aggrandizement. Changing your name might mean everyone else forgives you, but to me you’ll always be on the same level as Mannequin – only hiding behind the label of hero.”

      • They have jetsuits. Jet-propelled robodragon mini-mecha. And it wouldn’t surprise me much if Armsmaster pushed for the first flight to Brockton Bay once he heard that Skitter’s civilian identity was known.

    • Something forced their hands, because come on, they took down Siberian, and they where doing pretty well on their own, so i think this order is coming directly from Cauldron.

  13. This has been a long time coming, I am looking forwards to dragon and skitters conversation.

    Also I don’t think Skitter is wearing a mask, if she was wearing a mask in the room full of people she would stand out, and leaving there is no mention of a mask.

    So that seems like her cover is blown. Emma will be freaking terrified Oh goody.

    Wonder how fast Skitter can talk, how much juicy secrets she can spill, the carpets ruined already but she might be able to ruin the wallpaper too😀

    Cause you know this pretty much breaks the truce, going after her in such a public way in her civilian identity.

  14. “I joined the crowd moving in the direction of the cafeteria.

    Meanwhile, I, as Taylor, was still moving in the same general direction as the crowd.”

    It seems like the second paragraph was meant to come after some actions that she took as Skitter

  15. ‘He wore what seemed to be a gauntlet, out of proportion with the rest of her body.’

    His body unless Kid Win suddenly had a sex change midway.

  16. Oh shit! I was hoping Taylor would get caught without having her identity revealed to everyone (except the other capes), but I definitely like this development.

    Will Armsmaster man up and do what Dragon WANTS to do but can’t?

      • Well, Colin doesn’t really give a shit about the rules or keeping his superiors and co-workers happy, but I could see him caring about Dragon enough to help.

        I don’t think he’s the type to hold a grudge against Skitter for ruining his life-especially as I think he’s probably MUCH happier with his current situation running around with Dragon than he ever was working for the Protectorate.

        I’m not saying that I think it WILL happen- just that I don’t think it would be out of character.

        • I realize I may be a bit off about Colin- it’s probably not so much that he doesn’t give a shit about keeping his co-workers and superiors happy, but rather that he’s just really bad at it (and any other person-to-person human interactions).

  17. I’m curious as to what she means when she says “her hand was forced”. Armsmaster/Defiant’s influence? Or were there more pressing circumstances?

    • How about this – space warping theory of birdcage is true. The prisoners are miniaturized. As are their nervous systems. Which allows Skitter to mind control them. All of them.

      • thats a pretty cool idea. But even though their miniaturized they still have complex nerve systems compared to bugs so i doubt she would be able to control them.

      • As awesome as that would be, remember Atlas. Size doesn’t really matter to her power. On the other hand, everyone in the Birdcage is the size of an ant. So if Taylor can sneak an ant colony into the birdcage…

        • The movie THEM is reenacted in there, which would be pretty cool. Though I doubt she will make it there. She first has to have a trial, and a good lawyer can really push the facts that she is a minor and that she was betrayed by Armsmaster/Sophia’s bullying. Such a trial will probably bring attention nobody wants. You know Tattletale is gonna retaliate for this, and I honestly think Cauldron is going to try to use it’s influence to help her escape. Cauldron does not want their activities to become public and I can see Tattletale giving them an ultimatum to get her out or she spills the beans.

          • Or in a last resort, she could pull a Shadow Stalker/Assault and become a hero. Not in Broketon Bay, but it could work if she were moved to another town. Probably unlikely though.

  18. Another question I asked once, but I don’t think I got a reply: Since Dragon seems to have a human(ish) body now- what happens if she dies? Are the regular backups and restores still taking place?

    Cause if I were her, I wouldn’t want to go full human, but it seems she’s doing that.

    • I’ll leave this for others to answer/speculate on.

      Don’t mean to be rude, just don’t like to give answers on this stuff when the story can provide those answers instead. I keep answering questions like that and I eventually get in a situation where people are thinking in meta terms and saying, “Well he didn’t say Y or Z so it must be X!” or some such.

    • My money is on the backups still being in place. Having a human body is a useful thing for her, but no reason to be stupid about it. Heck, if it weren’t for the obvious and severe security problems associated with it, and the fact that it is technologically impossible at present, I’d want regular backups of my brainmeats.

    • we’ve already had prior experience with her uploading herself to proxies (the ‘wetware computers’)

      she prolly just restores herself like normal while defiant fixes up her old body for retransferring herself

      • I wonder if the fact that they are currently inside a big Faraday cage designed to prevent cell-phone communication will figure into this as a Chekhov’s Gun. If Dragon dies in here she won’t have the benefit of any last transmission to understand what killed her .

        For that matter she won’t be able to remote control the dragon-vehicle they flew in on or to communicate much with the outside world at all to warn her of incoming threats.

        it would make her decision to confront Skitter inside the building instead of letting her step outside even more of a moronic idea.

        Then again the authorities must have some way to communicate since they were able to reach Sere, Adamant and the Wards, perhaps Dragon has access to that even if it doesn’t give her the sort of bandwidth that would be optimal for purposes. (In that case Skitter might remember Tattletale’s earlier tactic and go on WiFi access point hunt with her swarm throughout the school)

        • her last backup was triggered by a cessation in communications from the suit she was using at the time, i’m assuming she has a greater window allowed to account for the faraday cage. as far as ‘knowing the last few things that happened’, that’s what defiant is there for.

          having a partner makes things easier o.o-b

          • Having a partner you can trust to be completely honest and objective about the subject would certainly help with that.

            “I know you wanted to bring her in alive, but after pretending to surrender the little sneaky little bitch totally killed you with her bugs without any provocation and I was forced to stab her with my spear in self-defence. Also I disposed of the bodies on the sport for security reason so you won’t be able to analyse it to figure out how she killed you with her bugs or discover that both bodies had spear-shaped entry wounds in the back. You can totally trust me on this, it even says so in your new programming.”

        • It would be fairly simple to get only authorized transmissions through a faraday cage. There’s obviously a landline (the phone/internet) going into the building, so all you’d need is a wireless network inside that an authorized user could use to get outside.

  19. So who’s the asshole who ordered Dragon to do her little arrest at a high school full of kids who probably have had enough of the cape-jockey bullcrap? Considering that this is a school where the Jack Slash once hunkered down in a city that was trashed by Leviathan having Defiant bust through the door pointing a spear at a student is in unbelievable poor taste, though from Colin that doesn’t surprise me.

    Now, the sticking point here is why the hell they’re outing her in front of hundreds of people, that definately isn’t something Dragon would pull so it was probably specifically demanded.

    The first thought would be that someone that Cauldron has in their pocket ordered it, but this kind of shit doesn’t seem like their style. My thought is someone going rogue in the PRT or Protectorate outside of Cauldron’s payroll trying to make a statement.

    There’s always the possibility that Armsmaster has taken control of Dragon and is just being an asshole, but right now I don’t think he has the authority to order a cheeseburger let alone put a school in lockdown.

    Still, the fact that he’s freely going along with this truce-breaking crap is very suspicious. Dragon’s programmed to obey the guys in suits, Colin is not.

    • Actually, this doesn’t really break the truce- Dragon has known who Taylor was for a loooong time, and she set up the system that alerted her when ‘Taylor Hebert’ was typed into the school’s computers. Has nothing to do with them seeing her face during the Echidna fight.

      I don’t see this as being Cauldron either. It doesn’t seem to benefit them in any way. I think it’s just some asshole in the Protectorate trying to make it look like they’re doing something good. Get some good PR by taking down a dangerous villain.

      (I bet it backfires spectacularly)

      • I think the truce protects against villains being outed publicly or capes trying to dig up identities to use against people. Actually knowing an identity without abusing situations to find out doesn’t break until you act one it.

        The only person I can see pulling shit like this is Piggot. Who I wouldn’t think would have the authority anymore, but she was fast-tracked by Cauldron so who knows.

        • Nah, Piggot was the normal selection. She was biased against full integration of supers with regular society, as noted in the interlude where we met Weld. That was one reason Cauldron wanted her gone and replaced with Coil.

          There you go. Everything you need to know about authority in the Wormverse: Coil, Alexandria, and Eidolon are Cauldron, Piggot is the uncorrupted government authority, and Dragon and Armsmaster are the uncorrupted heroes.

          • >She was biased against full integration of supers with regular society, as noted in the interlude where we met Weld.

            No? It was just the opposite. She may hate parahumans, but she’s working towards integrating them with people.

          • Hmmm…it seems you are right. Either Cauldron’s screwing with me again, or someone’s been letting Imp edit the story.

            Director Armstrong seems interesting. Like the kind of fellow who’d make a split to go with the Irregulars.

            The most I can add, like some old man suffering from Impzheimer’s on his front lawn yelling at you walk away, is that she may have been moving on that plan…but she didn’t like it!

            • I know this is very necro-comment, but:

              That is brilliant. And I say that as someone who has had too much personal experience as an Alzheimer’s caregiver. Not everyone in the AZ care community would get it, but the ONLY thing that makes it bearable is to see the kooky side.

  20. Possibilities I see for escape methods, in order of decreasing probability:

    Hostages. Lots of civilians in the building, and probably a decent number of insects just as a consequence of being a building with places for them to hide and things to eat. All she needs is to have bugs go into a few people’s ears, then threaten to have them start eating their way inwards. Or invading other various orifices, I suppose. Fun part is that she even has a decent chance of being able to just bluff that she’s doing this without actually going through with it; it’s hard to verify it’s just a bluff on short notice, and it would probably screw with Dragon’s First Law of Robotics hard-coding.

    Second trigger event. This one depends on whether this situation is stressful enough to cause it, whether what Noelle saw/smelled/sensed in her interlude was the evidence of a previous second trigger event or evidence of the potential for a second trigger event, and whether the resulting boost/change in her powers actually gives her something of use in the current situation. The first of these criteria is the big question mark, and probably depends on exactly how the next few minutes in-story play out.

    Clockblocker submitting his resignation from the Wards in particularly dramatic fashion. While this is actually the one with the best chance of working, because neither Dragon nor Armsmaster would see it coming and Clocky’s power takes them completely off the board for at least a few minutes, I just don’t see him as the sort to commit such a spectacular act of treachery. Especially when the Protectorate is going through a major shakeup and thus there’s actually a chance that his complaints about how they do business will be addressed.

    Something with no foreshadowing whatsoever that cannot possibly be logically deduced (or is it induced? I can never remember the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning) from known facts about the Wormverse and its inhabitants. For obvious reasons, not much I can say about this.

    She gets caught and Birdcaged. Possible, but unlikely for narrative reasons; it seems a bit too early yet for that to happen and the consequences of Taylor’s identity as Skitter getting blown wide open are more interesting to play with right now. There also hasn’t really been enough time for the “right now we pretty much own this city” thing to settle in, which is kind of important as a component of this arc being a breather before the plunge into the next string of catastrophes.

    I’m sure there are some other scenarios I’ve missed, but this seems like more than enough to start with.

    • Two points:
      1) Hostages. If you saw how Defiant took on Bonesaw and just handled her bugs, he’s more likely to immediately knock her out and take his chances than let her stall out Dragon.
      2) Echidna’s sense; Someone proposed a theory connecting that sense to a more powerful/complex passenger working with those three. i.e. Taylor controlling bugs and multitasking, Brian being able to copy any power, Eidolon manifesting any power. Seems like they’d take a different kind of passenger, so that could’ve been what she was sensing.

      My personal theory: Cauldron is bringing Taylor in and unveiling the plan to win the Endbringer war.

    • Against escape method the first: Colin has a bug zapper. Unless Taylor can use her range somehow, get hostages at a distance and use that to push Colin and Dragon into leaving… but that’s problematic at best. They have her hostage… and she’d have to convince the both of them that she’d actually use lethal force on innocents, which she wouldn’t, so she can’t.

    • They can’t just send her to the birdcage without a trial. She isn’t canary who they could justify keeping from talking because of her power. A good lawyer can play merry hell with the fact that she is
      A. A minor
      B. Her reasons for becoming a villain. She WAS a hero before Armsmaster betrayed her. You know she is gonna call out the fact that Armsmaster is a criminal.
      C. Sophia- Tattletale could probably easily inform people about her past, and her role in the trigger event. The PRT would take alot of heat for the fact that they let a psycho get away with murder, bullying a student, and the fact that no one would help her.
      But the biggest reason I don’t think she will end up at the Birdcage is cauldron. They do not want their activites to be known, and Tattletale can easily spill the beans on them/numerous other dirty secrets of the PRT including the fact that known villains like Madcap got a second chance. So I think they’ll try to help her escape, and have her take the credit for it just so the secret stays secret.

      • i think you’re being overly optimistic that she’s guaranteed to get a trial. if cauldron is behind this and they don’t want her to talk, i’m pretty sure they wont give her the chance to.

        you’ve listed plenty of ways a trial isn’t in their best interests; with things going as badly as they are they may simply lock her up without due process to avoid the hassle. also:

        • she’s already shown an unwillingness to switch sides.
        • she already knows another cape’s identity so they could claim she broke the truce first.
        • she was also involved with the group that ‘drove said cape insane’ (depends how their PR department spun it)
        • all the other various ‘truce-breaking behaviors’ they’ve attributed to her, like the attack on triumph’s family and two of the PRT’s directors
        • she put hundreds of civilian lives in danger by ‘invading a school’

        added together there are a lot of ways they can spin it so she’s totally in the wrong without the public being any wiser

        sure, tattletale will probably give them hell about it, but maybe theyre even thinking they could ransom skitter for tt’s silence

        • Well trying to justify not giving a minor a trial is probably not going to go well with the heroes. They DO owe her one for Echidna, and at least a few of them might not appreciate Cauldron trying to screw her over. I don’t think they can risk TT letting the secret get out at all, which makes me think they weren’t behind this stupid move. They either have to try and take out all of the Undersiders at once, difficult considering their track record, or insure they can silence Skitter without TT spilling the beans. The only way I can see that is arranging for her to escape. They do control some villains and we know that there are jailbreak specialists.

          • Minors get trials all the time. Sometimes the verdict is extreme, especially when treating them as adults. Others, like in the case of at least one multiple rape and molestation that the rapists made a video of, the boys got three years, with the entire town backing the rapists up and even a national news channel covering the story showing more sympathy for the boys whose bright futures were ruined than the girl who was raped.

            She did not put lives in danger by invading a school. She was a teenage girl going to a school. The heroes put lives in danger by showing up with weapons. Skitter even freely gave up her knife.

            She is no longer guaranteed to be unwilling to join sides, as the reason she avoided doing it was Shadowstalker.

            Knowing a cape’s identity is not breaking the truce. Further, the truce was definitely broken first by Armsmaster. Evidence to that extent is in the hands of Flechette. Skitter only learned about Sophia’s identity because she had to go to the hospital while helping to save people after Armsmaster got villains killed and fried her armband.

            That said, would anybody really be surprised if she didn’t get a trial at all with this group?

          • I honestly don’t think they can justify not giving her a trial. Which means someone has not thought this attack through, or they intend to get rid of her before she ever gets to the stand.

          • • there’s a difference between having a farce of a trial and even allowing a trial in the first place. minor or not, my guess is the authorities-that-be wouldn’t want any chance of their dirty laundry to be aired, and the simplest way is to not let anybody listen to her. seeing as the PRT is splintering from the top-down, they (or cauldron) may be trying extreme methods to reclaim their legitimacy by putting away “a dangerous supervillain”

            • from the authorities’ POV, a super-powered fight broke out that resulted in evacuation protocols (or whatever they were doing) and property damage in a heavily populated school. all because of skitter’s *presence*. it doesn’t matter that it was nice and peaceful until they started it in the first place, it’s a matter of how they can spin it in their favor. “a supervillain invaded a school, leading to a fight between her and members of the blah blah blah…”

            • afaik they still don’t know *why* she refused the offer to join the wards (again, dragon is not the one making the decisions). again, they can spin that as the words of an irredeemable supervillainess

            • finding out another cape’s identity is definitely breaking the truce, seeing as how they handled it. there were mitigating circumstances, but the main reason they let it slide was armsmaster’s goof. however,
            the ‘settlement’ WAS KEPT QUIET.
            the only people who knew armsmaster was in disgrace were the people that were present directly, or the rest of the members of the Brockton Bay PRT. sere and adamant are outsiders iirc.

            remember, it’s not what really happened that’s important, it’s how you can sway public/administrative opinion in such a way that one side looks better and the other looks worse.

            yes i’m cynical.

          • I wouldn’t say cynical, more like realistic. This is the wormverse after all. There is a great quote between Psycho Gecko and throwaway in the quotes on the tropes page that shows this. Someone should add the tagline under it: Yeah, its that kind of setting.

        • Not to be too grim, but as the saying goes: “It’s a long journey from here to the rope.” It’s just as long to the courtroom.

          If Cauldron wants to silence the Undersiders, then the Birdcage might not be the most obvious choice. It would be easy enough to kill her once she’s in custody, and Colin’s presence provides a hand scapegoat: it wouldn’t be very hard to imagine that he’d carry a grudge, and DOES have a history of breaking the rules.

          Though I don’t think they would until they can arrange similar fates for the rest of the Undersiders.

    • One more: Bitch-Ex-Machina. She has minions going to this school. What’s to keep one of them from sending her a message? …And *BOOM* the wall crashes down. Hellhounds EVERYWHERE.

  21. There are exactly two good things about this situation, and otherwise everything’s screwed.

    1。 Taylor can go all out。

    2。 Next Tuesday is closer than the wait until today was。

    G reat chapter,as usual。

    • All-out how, exactly?

      Bug zapper. Kills every bug that comes near Colin, when he so chooses. It even kills through walls (re: ventilation ducts.) She has no armor, no allies that can fight nearby…

      But you’re right about Tuesday.

        • Dragon gets Taylor. If anything, the hostage-taking works the other way. Taylor could do some very nasty things, but all those innocents are getting in her way.

          • …see,thing is, when I envisioned the battle Taylor would get into before this update, I included a jar of deadly and useful bugs, carefully separated to not kill each other if she’s not controlling them. Guess I carried that over.

            Well, my logic still stands. Kind of. Taylor fights better in person, she might be able to hold them off until undersiders arrive. And if there’s one thing Taylor is good at, it’s planning on the fly.

            Or she can just openly talk to them, because I’m sure we all remember the result of Taylor’s last encounter with a Dragon robot suit, and how that worked out.

  22. ‘out of proportion with the rest of her body.’ – I thought Clockblocker was a guy.
    Also, why isn’t Emma in the tags?

    My only other concern was Clockblocker, despite getting mentioned and attention being drawn to the gauntlet, does nothing in this chapter. While I’m sure its to set something up, he just felt extraneous to the point of annoyance for this chapter. Didn’t he do anything while everyone else was fighting? Why didn’t he help Kid Win? Things like that.

    I’m starting to think the chapters of Chrysalis have a running theme of some mental disconnect or cognitive dissonance. I’m not sure what’s the right phrase here, but in each chapter, something happens to Taylor that shows some stark contrast between her lives. Getting a message about Greg during territory operations. Comeuppance on Emma, but only due to school corruption turning in her favor. Here, we have a big action scene outside, while Taylor tries to seem calm and collected inside the school.

    Maybe its just me, but this reveal of her identity by Dragon is probably the entire point of the theme. Its the final release, so Taylor no longer has that duality. She won’t need to worry about identities, and it’ll be something to see how the student body, especially Emma reacts to this reveal. But it will definitely effect her all relationships, particularly with her dad. How it ends up, only Wildbow knows.

    Maybe I’m just overanalyzing. Back to gushing over the story. Great job Wildbow!

      • I agree with this. Also, I loved the word choice of “astute”. So she’s emerging from the dissonance of being Skitter THEN Taylor into something greater.

    • Dude, Clockblocker didn’t help Kid Win because he wasn’t there. Either he was on the other side of the school trying to get to the fight, or he was watching another exit, or he was being kept in reserve, whatever. Adamant didn’t do anything either. Was he an annoyance?

      • That’s not what I mean. Adamant was at least described DOING things, such as trying to intercept Taylor, watching the students to see if anyone stood out during the fight outside, etc. It felt like Clockblocker was just there most of the time. I think Clockblocker’s role was more an annoyance than Adamant’s BECAUSE we actually know him, compared to knowing nothing about Adamant. We readers can more easily ignore Adamant as a background character, but since we know so much about Clockblocker as a character, his lack of action draws so much more attention. While things like this happen in the real world, it becomes a bit jarring when reading it in a story.

        • Maybe he was having reservations against going head to head with Skitter after that bonding moment. Could be possible that he rationalized it with “Well if she gets past them, I should hop in then…yeah.”

    • Yes, I speculated something similar previously that the Chrysalis might be a reference to Taylor finishing her transformation into Skitter full time. Losing the vestigial trapping of a little bullied school girl and bursting out of the cocoon of her obsolete civilian identity and flying of as a beautiful super villainous butterfly.

      Or going by things have been going so far in this series an alien chest-burster metaphor might be more appropriate than a butterfly. (Which reminds me Skitter’s powers would totally work on xenomorphs wouldn’t they?)

    • Chrysalis could be a much stronger metaphor, actually – when Skitter gets put into the Birdcage.

      Helpless, cut off from her power (mostly – there’s probably a few bugs lying around in there, but…), stuck in the same hole as LUNG of all people, but also with Panacea there… Good god, what a clusterfuck that would be. But the least cognitive-dissonant outcome would be Lung killing her within a few hours of her arrival. Assuming she ends up in there, I just don’t see the cards falling a different way without unlikely intervention.

      • Though, that said… the girls already have a reason for not letting Lung into their side of the ‘cage – last time, he killed a woman straightaway. They can’t be happy about that.

  23. Half awake, so this will be short:

    I figured Dragon and Defiant would come swooping in. Something called in that fast would no doubt be answered by these two.

    Somehow Taylor getting arrested in front of Emma doesn’t strike me as a winning moment. It’d be interesting (and heartrending of course) to see Danny’s reaction to his daughter being outed as Skitter. IF things go that far.

    Great read, as usual.

    • In my head it is actually a loosing moment for Taylor. Because now Emma wouldn’t learn anything at all. She would rationalize her punishment (if it stands, which I now doubt) as being a result of Skitter’s influence.

      Moreover, she may well win in the end.

      • Oh, I agree about the thing with Emma. Mos def. I dunno about her “winning” in the end, a la Charlie Sheen. Nope. The more I read of this story, the more I get this sense that no one really wins in the sense they want to. Or “think” they want to. Or want to “think” they want to. Ever. Niiihilism…

      • Which would make it hilarious if it turns out that Emma can be tried as an accessory to all of Skitter’s crimes thanks to having been directly responsible for the latter’s trigger event.

  24. i think the forced hand is metaphorical, not literal. or at least i did but on second thought that makes no sense. why would dragon do this at a school, its just plain stupid. and why would the heroes do this at alll? it breaks the s class threat truce by using their knoledge of her identity against her. the only people willing and able to do this would be cauldron.

    • Because her orders were phrased in a way that allowed no other interpretation. And because the heroes weren’t necessarily behind it all – there’s other players at work in those channels. That’s why.

  25. I apologize if I’m not the first to wonder this, but I’m too tired to read through lots of comments at the moment, but …
    I wonder if Taylor will notice that Dragon isn’t really human. An insect or two should be enough to uncover that.

    • I would assume that at this point Defiant will have been augmented so much and Dragon has added more and more biological components to her current body that the two of them are almost equal in how cyborged they are. I doubt you could still figure out who started as what just by crawling and insect over them.

      On the other hand Skitter has shown signs of having great intuition before. Her biggest obstacle to figuring out Dragon’s secret is that she has already analysed Dragon’s Tinker power and would have to make the leap that an AI could actually have a trigger event to deduce that the person in front of her could both have Tinker powers and be an AI.

        • Why would Dragon not be breathing? Most high-fidelity way to mimic a human voice is to blow air over some vibrating cords into a resonance chamber whose dimensions can be altered to produce sounds of staggering variety. Save the speakers for when nobody’s looking. People notice when you don’t blink, and they notice when you don’t breathe. Even if you’re not using breath to talk, you still want your android’s chest to go up and down.

  26. Really enjoying your work, It’s very different from a lot of other Superhero works one reads- both professional ones or those composed for webfiction. I hope you keep it up! I know you’re talking about brining it to end game, but PLEASE don’t feel the need to rush yourself- I know the temptation to start new work can be strong but… You’ve thrown so many juicy plot lines out there, I’ll be sad to see if you cut out too early and don’t extract all the delicious drama you could. I suspect from here there’s going to be a reunion between Skitter and Panacea, which I’m looking forward to personally. Always liked Panacea- all that power, world breaking or world saving power, wrapped in a fragile, anxious teenage girls mind. It’s like if Superman had an anxiety disorder. I also hope dragon give Skitter SOMETHING, anything to work with after all that “I’ll be watching you” thing a while back.

    • There have been Supermen with issues before, but they tend to be viewed negatively. Marvel’s the Sentry had all kinds of mental problems (schizophrenic agoraphobic, supposedly) who was a bit of a Sue and took Rogue’s virginity when no one was looking. Superboy-Prime was a normal teenager with the powers of Superman who was forced to see his entire world and his shot at being a hero like Superman destroyed, instead forced to watch as the world his was sacrificed for turned darker.

      Also, is this your first time commenting while all caught up with the story? With everyone who has caught up lately, it’s gotten a little harder to keep track.

    • Shock. Then glee, when she sits and thinks Taylor is getting dragged off to the Birdcage. Which she very well might!

      “Oh ho! I’m such a hero! I did a public service by torturing Skitter in school!” She’d spin it that way, you know she would. YOU KNOW IT.

        • Why would she experience such bowel-loosening terror when she realizes she got to bully the supervillain that took over the city without any negative consequences directly stemming from Skitter as far as she knows.

      • Implying she sees herself as hero.No,seriously,her mind has been warped to think in terms of predator and prey.Worst case scenario,she thinks Skitter is prey for getting caught,and she is alpha predator for bullying a supervillain.

  27. Being as I don’t think it’s been mentioned yet: the bit about Charlotte being uncomfortable around unfamiliar men was interesting. I hadn’t thought about that, but it seems like an obvious thing in retrospect.

      • Chapters like this are exactly why I had planned on not following the story after the Echidna arc ended. I was going to wait at least until you had the next arc or two finished, and then come back to read it all at once.

        But I couldn’t stay away =(

        • The trick is to fill your time up completely between updates so you don’t have time to think about just how long it is taking to be tuesday. Personally I find the wait from tuesday to saturday easier than saturday to tuesday, mostly because the weekend has much more leisure time. My friends and I call it The Gap.
          On a similar note: Wildbow if everything you write is going to be this kind of quality work then I for one am probably going to be a avid fan and reader for life. This addiction won’t allow for anything less.

  28. Man, outing her in front of that many people, including ones who know her name(As opposed to completely random people)…

    One thing- in my high school, all the external doors had those heavy horizontal bars instead of handles, not just the emergency ones.

    “boys claimed far end of Charlotte” The far end.
    “I think i could slip” Missing caps.

  29. So I guess we can put “trashed school property and scared the piss out of teenagers” into the Armsmaster is an Asshole files. With the way he stomps around like he has something to prove I think he should stay in Arcadia, it’s his element.

    I feel a bit sorry for Dragon that she has to take up the burden of getting this shit-leopard to change his spots.

  30. Well it seems my speculation about the transformation in the arc title being a reference to the loss of the civilian identity might become true.

    With how the odds are stacked against her Dragon and Defiant might easily get to put her into the birdcage this time. Of course Skitter has actually won against impossible odds before…

    Whatever is going on the strategy of the heroes is extremely stupid here. They are trying to trap her in a school full of hostages where any big use of power might create lots of collateral damage. Why not at the very least let her go outside first and put some distance between her and all the children?

    For that matter, if the goal was just to bring in skitter why not simply land a Dragon suit in her territory and call her out? Attacking at the school just to get the advantage of having her out of her bulletproof costume and a bit unprepared? Skitters file should say by now that she is good at improvising and her team-mates will probably be there to back her up soonish if things drag on. Since Dragon seems to know her civilian identity and her families home address is presumably in some database they could have attacked her at home if they really wanted the advantage of fighting her while out of costume.

    And that doesn’t eve go into the stupidity of breaking the truce like that and risking things in the first place. The PRT, Dragon and Defiant all have secrets that they don’t want to come out and skitter has a teammate who enjoys revealing secrets. Not tom mention the fact that Skitter recently demonstrated her insect loudspeaker announcement powers to a whole bunch of heroes. This just seems stupid.

    Allowing time for banter instead of just stabbing her with a shock lance or having Dragon shoot her in the back and saying sorry when she wakes up in cuffs would have been a better course of action for the duo. They are playing against time and have to stop Skitter before she hurts anyone (other than Kid Win and Sere), before she can go on bug PA and start announcing stuff about Defiant really being Armsmaster etc and most importantly before the rest of the Undersides and potentially some of their allies turn up…

    If some low level PRT bureaucrat who got promoted recently is pulling the strings it might explain some of the heavy handed incompetence here.

    On the other hand maybe Dragon is not here to actually cause trouble. Maybe when she said that her hands were forced she meant that circumstance forced her to go this way not some built in programming restrictions and she actually needs to talk to Skitter urgently for some reason and had the school put in lockdown for that.

    I sort of doubt that the next words out of her mouth will involve the revelation that Bonesaw has unleashed a plague of mutant locust or that giant insects are invading from the other side of the portal and the heroes need her help but at least it would be an explanation.

    • If Dragon’s coming to ask for Skitter’s help, I’m guessing it’s because she needs someone to debug her code.

    • You know, all of this would make sense depending on the phrasing of Dragon’s orders. “Capture Skitter wherever she is, as soon as you can” might leave wiggle room for a dedicated cop, but Dragon might have to read that literally.

    • If Skitter goes on bug PA and says that Defiant is really Armsmaster what exactly do you expect to happen? Everyone that matters already knows and is ok with things. As long as he keeps saying he isn’t he has plausible deniability. Have fun proving this robot guy isn’t some flesh sack tinker that lost an arm when Dragon vouches for him. Also, who would she tell? A bunch of students that don’t actually matter and probably don’t understand why this is even an issue?

  31. “He tapped the door with the end of his weapon, and the breath was knocked out of me. Every bug within thirty feet of the door died, including the ones in the air conditioning duct.”

    Ugh. Tinkers.

    • Fucking tinkers… Also, screw you, Armsmaster. No, seriously, we’re going to make an eighth circle of hell just for you. You can spend eternity rimming Satan.

      • >>There’re pizza slices, I noted. It was a reminder of how the day wasn’t going as I’d planned.

        and. he. ruined. PIZZA TIME!
        …granted she was already on her way out, but… PIZZA!

  32. I… really don’t see Skitter getting out of this. Armsmaster has such an enormous hate-boner for Skitter it’s practically visible from orbit. All the good sentiments in the world from Dragon are meaningless, because she’s either shackled to the Law or subverted and under Armsmaster’s control. All that remains for her is to pull their happy little delusions down around them before she’s Birdcaged.

    • This is a really unnecessary comment from me, but I love that second sentence. “Hate-boner” *snickers*

      • Hate boners are fun. Just, no matter what you hear (damn Screwhaul), I had no boners at all for that sidekick with the short shorts. It was completely innocent between us. I was just torturing him to death is all. I didn’t have a lot to work with, though, so I had to oil him up like that.

    • I can’t see her going to the Birdcage. Isn’t that reserved for particularly vile villains or repeat escapees?

      • Take a look at what happened with Canary. She’s proven that she’s resourceful and determined enough to pose a threat. The PRT and government routinely violate their own rules, so why shouldn’t they lock her up and throw away the key?

        • Yeah, but Canary was an unusual case- and she got a trial and everything. Canary wasn’t allowed to speak out in her own defense due to her power, but Taylor would be.

          • And as Skitter knows secrets pertaining to national security or some such (for example about that portal hole) or secret identities of heroes, she can compromise, a public trial is out of question…

    • Don’t see why everyone thinks Armsmaster slaved Dragon’s CPU to his intentions.

      Makes just as much sense that Cauldron’s via the protectorate, is being an ass here, using Dragon’s own diligence in hunting down Skitter’s identity against her. It certainly fits the usual pattern of the heroes fucking everything up.

    • I’m not sure why you think Armsmaster hates Skitter. In most of his scenes he is at worst completely apathetic towards her survival and at best baffled by why she kept doing even more villanous things. The only time he actually acts in a deliberately malicious way is when he rats out her intentions towards the Undersiders.

      What else has he done to her? Tried to arrest her when she raided a fund raiser in a terror attack? What if next time around she killed someone to get in with Coil? Taylor just isn’t a huge deal for Armsmaster, dude has other concerns.

    • Does Colin have a hate-boner for Skitter though?

      Now that he’s had some distance and time to think? It’s hard to say and we didn’t see enough in this chapter to be sure what it is he wants here.

      We can rule out that he’s feeling humbled and penitent based on his entrance but we can also rule out that he’s in full on death-hate mode too otherwise he wouldn’t have been holding her off with the spear, he’d have been pureeing her the way he did Bonesaw.

      There’s a wide realm in between those two extremes and I think Colin may surprise us with where he’s at.

      • As I mentioned above, I think Armsmaster probably much prefers running around with Dragon hunting the Nine 24/7 to being part of the day to day politicking of the Protectorate he had to deal with as Armsmaster.

        So I don’t think his life was ruined or anything. Quite the contrary.

        • (so I am also thinking that he doesn’t have a huge grudge/hate boner- I think people are reading a bit too much into his actions and the situation in this chapter)

  33. random thingy, i notice you use dashes to cut-off dialogue. in my experience an en-dash (–) or em-dash (—) are used more frequently for those. i guess it doesn’t reaaaaally matter, but the longer dashes look better to me (>_>a);;


    – alt+0150
    — alt+0151

    • So noted.

      In all honesty, though, I probably won’t change it until it’s time to format for ebook specifications though. The work investment just isn’t (unless 90% of my readers insist it’s really bringing down the quality of the work) worth it.

  34. So much negativity, but did anyone notice how badass Defiant looks now? Like a velociraptor with a hunter’s spear. So awesome. I’m really looking forward to Armsmaster/Defiant duo art.

    • Judging by how elegant and not Judge-Dredd-rejectish it looks I’m going to guess it was Dragon’s design.

      That’s so cute, your girlfriend is choosing clothes for you! I bet smashing through the doors is him being passive-aggressive about it.

  35. New thought: Cauldron purposely wanted Taylor’s identity revealed so they could make her help them by offering to not bother/protect her father. Sneaky sneaky.

    • A postcard sent to her home address with the words “We know where you live!” and a note that they will be in contact to make demands would have served the same purpose and be less likely to horribly backfire on them.

    • You know, Cauldron might actually be well-disposed towards them because of Skitter’s actions in the Echidna incident. I’m betting this is simply Armsmaster getting back on his moral high-horse, sadly. If someone wanted her cooperation there are a thousand better ways to do it.

      • Armsmaster had a moral high-horse? Since when? I think you mean penis size high-horse.

        Also, I think we all have to remember that, PRT reps notwithstanding, Cauldron is a cold, amoral organization. I don’t think they’ll be treating Skitter as anything other than a resource to be used or a threat to be destroyed.

    • If you have noticed, Doctor Mother is not adverse to making displays of force when a lighter touch could’ve been more prudent. i.e. When Contessa f*cked up the entirety of Faultline’s group. Even when a note saying “Bro, leave us alone” would’ve been a decent step 1 instead of resorting to extreme force immediately.

      • Why leave them a note saying to back off when they have clearly shown they are in this for keeps? They are interrogating your patsies and trying to track you down, to the extent that they are freeing people from the Simurgh zone! That isn’t a group that will stop just because a note says to back off. Letting them live seems like an unnecessary risk to me, so I would say just sending someone through to beat the shit out of them is actually an extremely limited show of force.

        • That’s why a few of us said letting them live was uncharacteristic and there has to be a reason for it. Faultline came closer than anyone else in decades, why would they let her live? It would be much easier/safer to get rid of them.

  36. something was bugging me about the narrative (pun not intended)

    she had the idea to make them think she was outside, which prompted her to create bug clones and draw attention out there so she could theoretically move with impunity in the school.

    why didn’t she consider have the clones scatter to the four winds and make them think she was completely gone or at least running? similar to the trick she pulled on coil’s mercs. instead as soon as Sere stepped outside, she sent them into a fight.

    yes, kid win’s thermals would have outed the trick, judging by how much she prioritized taking him out of communications, but maybe at least have her thinking about using the swarm-clones as decoys to make everyone think she was fleeing, then maybe ‘o crap kid win is here, plan b!’ and THEN she starts trying to stall the cape response.

    • They might’ve kept the school on lockdown until it was confirmed that “Skitter” was no longer around, which means the guards still inside would’ve had their attention once again focused inwardly instead of where the fight was going on.

      • i’m not debating that it wouldn’t have worked, i just want her to have considered it. the fact that she immediately jumped from a ‘confuse and distract them’ ploy directly to ‘bring them down!’ without any obvious consideration bothers me

        • She has enough tactical experience and know-how at this point to have an instinctive feel for what moves to make instead of second guessing and taking time to think over things like that. At least that’s how I see it.

          • Actually she still had bug clones making a run for it, she only turned a couple of them around to go for Sere directly to slow him down since he was otherwise taking down her clones faster than she could get them out of the school grounds and away. Kid Win had to be stopped of course because he could have blown the whole deception. Really if it wasn’t for the last second arrival of Dragon and Defiant then Skitter would probably have slipped away.

  37. Clockblocker’s new glove: what is it?

    i’m guessing rocket punch! possibly had kid win or another tinker design it. basically just fire off a fist that has a cable trailing behind it. gives him some ranged attacks…

    …inspired by skitter’s abuse of his power vs echidna

    • Yes, it is very likely something inspired by the Echidna fight, but I am guessing more along the lines of creating blades out of thin strands of otherwise harmless threads with his power. Wasn’t there some discussion about his ability normally having range limits that would only allow him to achieve what he did in the fight on a good day?

    • I’m guessing it shoots various types of cord so he can do moves like the one Skitter set up. Probably other useful stuff like comms, gps, taser, maybe something like silly string for quickly restraining people and objects of irregular size.

  38. Welp. Unless someone (Clockblocker? He’s a bro, but man, I dunno..) bails her out, sure looks like Skitter is fucked. Her dad too, ‘cuz you know, Skitter sure has pissed off some shady folks. I dunno that Skitter has it in her to hostage her way out of this mess. And 1v2 with no bugs against Dragon and Armsmaster, well, them ain’t fighting odds. More likely we get a look at how the (in)justice system operates.

    Paging Phoenix Wright to Earth-Bet, STAT!

  39. Well this is a fine pickle you’ve gotten us into, Greg. A curse of a thousand stinkbugs upon thee and thine house.

    Oh mercy, do I feel a Birdcage arc upon us? It could be… or we could get a Skitter Moment or the principal was prudent enough to notify Tattletale as to the situation, in which case The Cavalry may arrive. Either way, Taylor’s identity is public knowledge now, thanks Armsjerk.

  40. I bet 5 nonexistant dollars that Skitter’s reply will manage to throw enough dirt into the air that her secret won’t be unambiguously revealed. Heck, I can think of at least one really obvious reply where she denies being Skitter, but agrees to being arrested and taken away so that she doesn’t have to be present if the real Skitter takes hostages when cornered (making another important point in the process).

    • I think its to late to play innocent cause she already called him Armsmaster but now that i think about it do they have any hard evidence that she is Skitter, but I doubt they would let her go anyway.

  41. The status quo is again out the window. For those saying she will end up in the birdcage, I list my reasons up above why I think its doubtful she’ll ever make it there. Besides she is a minor. She is probably going to have a very interesting conversation with Sophia.

    • Sophia AND Theo. Maybe I can finally predict the elusive wildbow with my guess that Theo triggers and joins the Undersiders. Statistically speaking, I have to be right at some point.

      • Imagine a breakout attempt being orchestrated between the three of them. That would be so undeniably badass I couldn’t even fathom it. Then a subsequent one-on-one between Sophia and Taylor might provoke Theo’s trigger…


      • @ TheAnt: Ummm, no, you don’t. Statistically speaking, your million-monkey tactics afford significantly less than 100% probability of intersection. There is not enough time left in your life to even make a significant dent in the possibilities.


    • Worm has a status quo?
      Oh, right, you mean the way things tend to spiral out of control in a horrifyingly brilliant cascade of train-wrecked Xanatos Gambits and unexpected banana peels. Right. Carry on.

    • I don’t think she’s going to the Birdcage, but that’s because she’s not going to be caught.

      Tattletale’s going to accept a deal with that Thinker she doesn’t like after whichever group that is shows up and saves Skitter.

      • I agree that she won’t go to the birdcage or juvie version of it, but I can’t see Accord helping out. He may hate chaos but he probably wants to control the city to make it all orderly. The Undersiders will be less effective without her.

        • i disagree that she’s going to avoid the birdcage. depending on how the next few minutes play out, this is the best chance for the heroes to send her there, and my main argument for a birdcage arc is the presence of the canary interlude and the various interludes describing the *insides* of the prison itself.

          conservation of detail and whatnot. to quote the tvtropes page:

          >>There is a fine line between good World Building, and rambling on about pointless crap.

          • But she is a minor. She’ll go to the juvie version of the birdcage and spend the night next door to Theo and Sophia.

          • One womyn/man’s trash is another’s treasure. If some parts are purely bonus material, I don’t mind.

          • The Birdcage is one of the biggest Chekovs gun until now, we now that with the amount of detail dedicated to it, it will be just a matter of “when” and not “if”.

          • And the interesting thing is that where that line sits varies by reader.

            One might absolutely love a massive rambling epic while another can read the same book and go “OMG, just get to the *point* already!!”.

            I think sometimes people fall into the trap of thinking that’s an objective yardstick and it just isn’t.

  42. I wonder if Char is going to do anything, Taylor told her not to get involved but Char seems to respect her a lot and doesn’t seem to like how the PTR is confronting Taylor in her civilian identity. I also wonder if Clockblocker might play a role in this upcoming situation, i doubt it but his talks with Skitter and the whole PTR being revealed to be a part of Cauldron, the fact that they are arresting Skitter in her civilian identity, especially since he might realize that she only came to school to talk to Greg, given that he saw her talking to him and I’m pretty sure talked to Greg afterword, it might make him doubt what he is doing here and if it doesn’t make him questions things right now I could see it affecting him in the future.
    But honestly if Dragon and Armsmaster don’t knock Taylor out soon they are either really underestimating her for like the gabillionth time, even if you have her surrounded with no bugs and with tons of your teammates, although considering Dragon is doing this against her will she might not be trying her best.
    – and i doubt Armsmaster made Dragon do this she wouldn’t sound so gentle if he had reprogrammed her she would be pissed, given that from her perspective she has to follow but not enjoy what she is told to do by the authorities.

  43. “Do you remember, back in 1966, country Jesus, hillbilly blues, that’s how I learned my licks. Oh from coast to coast and line to line, in every county there, I’m taklin’ ‘bout that Outlaw X, cuttin’ through the aiiiiir. Anywhere, y’all. Everywhere, y’all, I heard it, I heard it, I heard it on the X.”

    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to Outlaw X, your hottest show for all news in supervillainy. Our top report is that Skitter has once again evaded capture after being attacked while in her civilian identity at a high school. She has evaded Defiant, meaning she has a perfect score in evading power armored superhero tinkers who wield spears. Defiant, as we all know, made his first appearance just after Armsmaster, a similar hero in every way, disappeared. Almost makes you wonder what that guy’s up to these days.

    It’s reported that she was cornered in the kitchen of the school and made use of the meager food supplies, electrically-powered cooking equipment, and her bugs to defeat the hero. When last seen at the scene of the escape, he was covered in whipped cream, slipping on pizza slices that were also stuck to the bottom of his spear. Word is she would have used banana, but Skitter had to split.

    Dragon was mostly absent from the fight, her armors being naturally too big to fire into a cafeteria full of people without doing some slight collateral damage. Word is that student Emma Barnes was injured in the fight, but seriously, screw that bitch. She has a fat ass and stupid hair.

    Well, Dragon did show up in person, surprisingly, but she had little impact on events.

    Meanwhile, while Dragon and Defiant were busy fighting a teenage girl in a high school, the Slaughterhouse Twenty-Nine attacked a zoo, murdering 73 children and roughly 300 people before fleeing on jury-rigged scorpion-bears and silverback tiger-gorillas. Sources close to Dragon suggest she’s glad to see more children dead so that armored spear-wielding superheroes can continue their general vendetta against Skitter.

    Others suggest Cauldron, the force behind the superheroes and mass infiltration of a government defense and peacekeeping agency, is behind this. Congress was all set to have hearings on the matter, but several members of the senate had a change of heart and a notably increase in their bank accounts. Word is that one notable senator even cried at the injustice of holding a secretive group pulling the strings behind America’s government accountable. But after the press conference about the blatantly illegal practices of the big banks, he also thought it was wrong to look into Cauldron. All that’s for certain now is that only significant force in the world without Cauldron infiltration are the supervillains, such as the ones currently holed up in the Birdcage.

    Glad that decision worked out for the heroes and the law-abiding people who are about to die horrible deaths.

    Meanwhile, a couple of dimensions over, it is suspected that Psycho Gecko is working on a way to hijack our broadcast. While we always maintain a fair and unbiased look at the world, we would like to note that this would be great and super awesome, because Gecko is in fact the most handsome and well-endowed villain in that or any other dimension. Unless, of course, you’re a woman who doesn’t like large penises, in which his is relatively tiny.

    That’s all for our show tonight, just remember that if you’re caught, you never heard of us. Any other time, remember that…

    “Anywhere, y’all. Everywhere, y’all, I heard it, I heard it, I heard it on the X.”

    • And a good morning to you P. Gecko. You pretty much summed out how incredibly stupid this act is, and how badly it is going to backfire in your very unique way. On a sidenote, does any worm fan ever sleep?

    • Outlaw X breaking in on your radio signal again to add that a Canadian author is being arrested in connection to several heart attacks related to a work of online fiction. Exact numbers are still unknown, but we’re looking at a minimum of 50 victims. At least another 200 suffered minor blunt force trauma due to precarious balancing acts on the edge of benches, chairs, couches, really anywhere that they were sitting at the time.

      We’ll be covering this story as it develops or until we get bored.

    • Only 29? I’d have expected a Slaughterhouse 90 at this point(if only because it sounds closer to 9).

      Also, now I kinda want to see those scorpion-bears and silverback tiger-gorillas you mentioned.

  44. How is our heroine/villainess going to get out of this? Everyone say she can’t possibly get out of this. I disagree. Here are some possible scenarios for what happens next:

    1. And then I triggered the EMP-bomb, that I and Lisa had hidden in the basement weeks ago based on Dinah’s warning. (Deus-Ex-Machina worked on Coil!)

    2. “Look over there! An invisible, S-Class, stranger-type cape who will slaughter all the innocents in the building if you turn your attentions away from them.” – Runs away. (It worked against a dragon suit before!)

    3. “If you don’t let me go I will trigger the bomb in my heart that will kill me.” (It worked before but Armsmaster might have removed or is able to override the do not kill part of her programming and call her bluff.)

    4. Skitter uses her bugs to pull the fire alarm and activate the sprinklers. (Dragon is unlikely to short-circuit from the water and throw sparks and the water will harm Skitter’s minions more than the D-Duo, but it might at least affect the usefulness of Sere’s power. And in any case doing something stupid/unexpected is always a valid move when your opponent has the upper hand.)

    5. Skitter uses her insect based superventriloquism and the fact that they are currently apparently threatening a harmless schoolgirl and that thanks to the recent changes in armor the duo is not immediately identifiable to incite a panic: “Oh my god it’s the Techno-Raptors are attacking the school!”, “They are going to kill us all!”, “There is only two of them, get them before the rest of the terrorist turn up!”, “Kill them before they kill us!” and if necessary “I heard they are extreme Nietzschean-Darwinist who kill all those who run away and only spare those who at least put up a fight!” – While Dragon and Defiant fight of a horde of students while trying not to hurt them Skitter walks away. (Superman had superventriloquism pre-crisis it is a valid superpower and Skitter should totally have trained her speaking through insect abilities to pull this of)

    6. “Aren’t you supposed to be busy hunting down what is left of the Slaughterhouse Nine after they were run out of my town? For that matter didn’t I kill you body and ran a bunch of your suits out of town the last time you tried to pick a fight with me and mine? And didn’t I ruin your boyfriends career so hard after he tried to cross me that he was forced to take on a new name? Are you really sure you want to fight me?” (This approach won’t really help the situation very much, but it might set the proper tone for the upcoming fight with none of that stupid “I don’t want to fight you but I don’t have a choice.” crap.)

    7. “The following statement is true. The previous statement is a false.” – Dragon goes all “Does not compute!” and her boyfriend is to busy to help her calm down to prevent Taylor from walking away. (Only works if Skitter figures out the AI bit and Richter was a really sloppy programmer.)

    8. “I Surrender. Take me to the Birdcage I won’t resist.” maybe a bit of additional briarpatching to make really sure she ends up where she needs to be. (Works if Dinah’s warning said that she needed to get Amy to do a makeover on her so that she could be there at the end of the world, because “You will be there, but you will be different.”)

    9. Skitter gets knocked out by Dragon after a fight. She wakes up and Dragon tells her that she had to make it look like she followed cauldrons orders and simulacrum of her is sent into the birdcage and Skitter gets borged into becoming the new hero Dragonfly. (Being borged by Dragon would also qualify for the “there but different” prophecy and it would follow the theme of Skitter being forced to turn into something she despises, first a villain then a powersuited pseudo-thinker.)

    • Dragon’s tech seems to overpowering with her unarmed. But they know better then anyone how dangerous it is to underestimate her. I’m going to go with the cause chaos choice for my guess. She can order her bugs before they knock her out, and they’ll still do it with her unconscious. I’m hoping for another trigger event but I doubt Wildbow will do it after the trip into Echidna didn’t trigger her.

      • in echidna’s interlude, we learn that taylor already had a second trigger event – she says that skitter, grue and eidolon “smell” different from other parahumans, in the same way that normal parahumans smell different from normal people. what’s the difference between a norm and a parahuman? a trigger event.

        so those three already had a second trigger event. remember, in the interlude with the pure visiting the university, we learn that second trigger events can happen in immediate succession of each other, making it nearly impossible to distinguish them. it would explain why eidolon can’t have a second one no matter how much he tries.

        also, it fits with taylors trigger event. way, waaaaayy back when she, brian, alec and lisa were eating burgers, she told them how she was locked into the locker (heh) and suddenly felt all these bugs – and only when the input became too much did she get the power to both compute the input and control the bugs, indicating that she had her second trigger event right there

        • You make an excellent point, but I just want another trigger event. Just to see what else Wildbow can create and to give her more tactical options.

        • It was never /explicitly/ stated what the smelled indicated, although I can see why people assume it’s a second trigger.

          2) Imp isn’t S-class, and I doubt she’s higher than C or B if people can remember her long enough to input her into a rank classification.
          7) Azazel was smart enough to avoid a Logic Bombing tactic from Skitter even without Dragon’s direct overseeing presence.
          9) What’s with the title “Dragonfly” you seem to be so keen on?

    • Nah, Armsmaster is limited by the circumstances. That little electro killer spear he’s wagging around could be dangerous around any teenagers or people with mostly or entirely synthetic bodies that could be present.

  45. Huh, somehow I missed reading that it was Dragon’s bodysuit there that boomed out and called her Skitter. In all the enthusaistic jumping around, I missed that and the subsequent outing of Skitter in front of everyone.

    Well folks, time to hit the musical number on this one. There aren’t a whole lot of songs out there about people’s secret identities as villains getting known. Well, maybe something in opera, but I have very little experience with opera, I admit.

    But what experience I do have with it has led me to this song.

    Congratulations on your coming out, Skitter.

      • Outlaw X is what I call that little program, though the song leading into it is ZZ Top’s “Heard it on the X”. I think the person heading the program would probably be called Outlaw X too, as it is a cool name. Here’s the song itself:

        It is an awesome concept, I think. A pirate radio station that not everyone can access, meant specifically to act as a quick news source for supervillains. Then again, wouldn’t be a bad idea for a podcast to talk about things superhero and supervillain related. And before anyone starts, that sure is hell is not going to be me. I have a voice that would make Simurgh go “Please shut up before you drive me insane.”

        Man, I wish I sounded more like UltraMantis Black. Or Komodo! That guy can really pull off the lipstick.

  46. Unless the very first thing that happens in the next chapter is for either Defiant or Dragon to knock Taylor out, they’re probably not there just to apprehend her. Maybe, as others have said before, they are questioning her, trying to get her help, help defeat the nine, etc. As to why specifically D&D were sent and why they were in the city to begin with is beyond my guess though.

    To be honest, I really hope that we don’t get the “Birdcage” arc, it kinda kills the flow of the story and I don’t think it would be as interesting as the other possibilities. If it does happen, I’m pretty sure Wildbow can pull it off, and I guess it would be a way to kill some time in the two year in story gap we have until the conclusion. Still, Taylor having to deal with the fallout (and not to mention the various unresolved pot threads like Dinah’s notes and the portal) is something that I find far more engaging right now.

    Speaking of the two years until the end, assuming that Taylor isn’t sent to the Birdcage, there could be some interesting events that happen. I don’t know if anybody mentioned it yet, but maybe a “holidays” type interlude might be fun. Barring another massive attack, the city should be relatively normal by the time Thanksgiving/ Christmas comes around, and a short sequence (either serious or completely silly) following the Undersiders/ Wards/ others during these times would be nice. I don’t know, might make a nice Donation goal, “The Worm Christmas Special.”

    • At first I thought we might be getting a birdcage ark but it doesn’t seem like it would fit, someone previously posted making pretty good points as to why, and with all the background mentions that have been going on at the start of this ark, of the Fallen and the Ambassadors as well as Fern, it seems like it would be odd to leave all that to relocate to the birdcage.

    • I wouldn’t mind a Birdcage ark at some point – Skitter without her bugs, locked up in the same place as Lung and Trickster. I’d like to see how wildbow writes himeself out of that. And Skitter would meet Panacea again.

  47. Wait a minute, I’m confused here, is Taylor in the Cafeteria or is she in the kitchen? This line here says she entered the kitchen (“I stepped around the counter and through the doors that led into the kitchen.”). and found a door on the other side of the kitchen that leads outside: that’s the door Defiant dynamic’d entry’d.

    He then backs Taylor towards the front of the cafeteria but there is no mention of her going through the kitchen doors or actually entering it which leads me to think he’s backing her closer to it. Then Dragon arrives, standing in front of the cafeteria entrance but this could mean she’s standing at the student entrance to the cafeteria or the door leading to cafeteria from the Kitchen.

    So is she in the caf’ or not?

    • I believe Tattletale threw those away when they escaped. They had no idea how to fix them, and they were still being “tinkered” on so it was probably dangerous to keep them.

      • I think he meant the gadgets she took from Kid-win in this chapter. She had her bugs leave them outside and could probably fly them up behind Defiant and trigger them.

        • Great catch, I forgot all about that. Combined with her supermulti-tasking skill, she might stall long enough to bring it full circle.

  48. I’m actually wondering if we might have an “I am skittercus ” type scene that allows her to get away. The majority of the cafeteria crowd seems to be ‘stayers’, we know both Char and some of Bitches’ Boys are likely present, and even clockblocker is likely to be sympathetic to skitter.
    Also can you imagine the panic among heroes/the protectorate when they are confronted with evidence that skitter is a POPULAR villain?

    • Maybe just Char would do it. A thin girl walks out laughing hysterically as bugs swarm all around her would cause a panic and cause some doubt to Mr./Mrs. Dragon. Char says she owes her and wants to help her. A distraction may be enough to get away.

      • That’s…actually a lot more plausible than I initially thought. There’s no way Char would let things go to hell without at least trying something. And all the Undersiders’ minions attending school should back her up, too. The problem, though, is that there are no psychics in the Wormverse, so no one can communicate such a plan telepathically.

        What can be done, though, is strategic use of the Famine Engine, if someone got that thing fixed.

    • I don’t think it would be focused on Skitter so much as super-zeroes busting into their school to arrest students suspected of supervillainy. Considering what has happened to alot of the kids here, many of them might have good reason to go off on Defiant and Dragon, and if a super-hero refuses to be subjected to public shaming then they’re no superhero at all.

      This does involve Armsmaster after all, the guy is temperamental and operates on the same level as a 15 year old. Getting into shouting matches with minors isn’t exactly OOC for him.

  49. Clockblocker’s gauntlet… I’m putting my money on it shooting a net with a line attached so CB can make the net indestructible once it is wrapped around the villain.

    Also, Tattletale is meeting up with the Ambassadors soon, if she has been alerted to the trouble with Skitter then she could ask them to help with the rescue as their “entrance fee” to the city.

  50. Next time, on Worm:

    *Ride of the Valkyries plays.*

    Dragon holds down Taylor while Armsmaster stands over her, shitting. Grue is challenging someone on Dance Dance Revolution, then smirks and activates his smoke. Regent holds his stomach and runs into a room, yelling, “But it’s your baby!” while the camera reveals he’s addressing Bentley, who is peeing on the sofa. Armsmaster holds down Taylor while Emma stands over her, shitting. Accord sits across from Chris Farley, losing at Checkers. He makes a note in his little black book for the date, revealing this is a flashback to December 17th, 1997. Chuck Norris jumps out from behind a corner, ready for action. He falls over, tased in the balls from behind, revealing Imp with a mischevious smirk on her face. Tattletale is running a commercial for Miss Tattle’s Tarots with a crappy Jamaican accent. Emma and Armsmaster hold Taylor while Dragon stands over her, straining, until printed sheets of paper the size of toilet paper fall out on Taylor. Bitch crawls out from under the pile of bunnies, only to see a massive wave of fuzzy chicks rolling towards her. She tries to run for it, but falls, only to look up, screaming in horror, as the chicks crash down upon her. The Undersiders all run from an icecream truck which goes up in a massive explosion.

    • You know, that would really have worked better if I had used “giving her a wet willy” in place of “shitting”.

      However, like someone who didn’t realize their partner wasn’t into that stuff, I will probably have to just live with the way I did it.

    • The only reason people think Chuck Norris is undefeated is because Imp’s abilities are just that powerful.

    • Skitter is the chuck norris of this setting. Skitter threw a grenade and killed 50 people, then it exploded.Once a cobra bit Skitter’s leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died. There used to be a street called Skitter, but it had to be changed because nobody crosses Skitter and lives. When the boogeyman goes to sleep at night, he checks his closet for Skitter.

      • Unlike Clockblocker, time doesn’t stop for Skitter. Instead, it waits for her permission before moving.

        Skitter once had smoke inhalation, blindness, some messed up ribs, and was covered in puke. Or as she called it “A minor inconvenience”.

        One time, Skitter fought a Dragon. She killed it by breathing fire on it.

        Skitter doesn’t run from danger. Danger runs from her, gets tripped up, and has its crotch melted off by spiderbites.

        Someone once thought of using grenades on Skitter. He thought twice.

        • Normal rodeo is for wusses. Skitter rodeo-rides Endbringers. While stabbing them with a halberd.

          If you can see her, she can grievously maim or kill you. If you can’t see her, she can grievously maim or kill you, while calmly drinking tea.

        • Nightmares don’t make Skitter whimper in her sleep. Skitter makes nightmares whimper. (14.11)

          Chthulhu horrors find that even the thought of Skitter makes them crazy. And they get creeped out when something that even looks like Skitter is nearby. (18.z)

          There is no Santa Claus. But Skitter sees you when you’re sleeping, she knows when you’re awake, she knows when you’ve been bad or good so be good or suffer unimaginable pain. (20.1)

          Skitter does not get dehydrated. She ties dehydration in knots and embarrasses him in front of everyone, instead.(this post)

          Skitter once decided to distract a tidal wave. She succeeded. (8.4)

          Do not bring a knife to a Skitter fight. (too many to count)

          “The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth.” Skitter made it her boyfriend.

          Schools in Brocton Bay don’t have fire alarms. They have Skitter alarms.

          It’s been proven that the universe you survive in is the universe you don’t try to bomb Skitter.

          Skitter can count everything that dances on the head of a pin. She put them there.

          Skitter’s lunch begins with violence, followed by terror, and ends with the takeover of a city. If she’s already taken over the city, then lunch ends with free barbecue. If she likes you.

          • Skitter decided to try teenage rebellion once. The city is now under the control of herself and 6 other teenagers.

            Skitter mentioned she was bored once. The universe threw 3 different S-class threats at her city, and all three regretted it. The first was driven off, the second reduced to a third of their numbers, and the last was entirely obliterated. The universe appears to be deliberating it’s next move.

            Skitter started her villain career as an undercover hero. She was so skilled that when the villains she’d set out to betray found out, they decided to offer her her position back.

            Skitter was complaining about some mild aches and pains when a hero with the ability to absorb injuries tried to heal her. He started screaming and yelling moments later.

          • are we really…? meh. fine.

            Skitter convinced the universe to let her flip the bird at evolution. (Giant flying beetles, ahoy!)

            Skitter logic-bombed an advanced AI that was explicitly immune to logic bombs.

            Chariot uses his tinker-segway for mobility. Bitch uses her dogs. Skitter uses S-class supervillains. (Shattersled, ahoy!)

            Eldritch abominations find one Skitter to be more of a threat than the Triumvirate combined.

            A supervillain once looked at Skitter funny. She cut out his eyes.

            Lunchbreaks are the times when the world stops what it’s doing to get as far away from Skitter as possible.

          • Superheroes who talk to Skitter commonly suffer from mental breakdowns because they aren’t as good a person as the super villain who gouged out a man’s eyes.

            Actually, Skitter does have eyes on the back of her head. And on the wall. And around the corner. And on your head…

            Jack Slash is so terrifying that few heroes and villains can bear to look him in the eye. He ran a away from Skitter.

            Skitter once made an Endbringer cry.

            In Brockton bay arachnophobia is no longer a recognized medical condition. Instead there are several new conditions for people who are not yet deathly afraid of bugs.

            In Brockton Bay, there is a supervillain who’s super powered guessing was so powerful, it mistaken for mind reading. She goes to Skitter for advice.

          • When Skitter watches paint, it doesn’t dry. It wets itself.

            Skitter can win a land war in Asia.

            Hitler didn’t just commit suicide. He was making sure he never ran into Skitter.

            When Skitter makes out with a guy, she cures mental illness. When Skitter makes out with other girls, she cures a plague.

          • Skitter mentioned once that she’d like to visit Australia. Hero-capes worldwide collectively went “NOPE,” and preemptively evacuated… never to return.

            People have tried to kill Skitter with fire. Multiple times. Apparently it’s not the only way to be sure.

            A meteor didn’t cause the dinosaurs to go extinct. They saw the ginormous bugs they were living with and simply gave up on life, knowing Skitter was coming soon*. (*note: dinosaurs sense of the passage of time very poorly)

            Skitter scares the bejeezus out of people who can literally hold the power of the sun in their hands.

            If you can’t see Skitter, she can still see you. If you *can* see Skitter, you’re about to get dogpiled by a swarm of bugs that weigh more than you do.

            Skitter doesn’t die if she’s been killed.

            • Another shameless Necro-reply, because I can…

              Class-S threats are designated S because they are measured in Skitters.

              Skitter isn’t made of win. Win is made of Skitter.

              Skitter has never gotten a cold. She once had a concussion, but the city never recovered.

              When Skitter makes pretty costumes for her friends, her friends are afraid to NOT wear them.

              Skitter didn’t need to tell the PRT that Echidna was a Class-S threat. Anything that faces Skitter willingly is automatically classified either Class-S or [assumed deceased].

              On Earth-Bet, Kick Ass is a documentary about Skitter. After winning Best Picture in the Please Don’t Hurt Us category, it is now used as a litmus test to gauge the mental fortitude of Special Forces applicants.

              Skitter can make snow angels in asphalt.

              Skitter was never blinded. Light just had a panic attack when it realized who it had fucked with.

              And finally…

              Skitter is the reason villains don’t pay taxes. She mails in a picture of her costumed self, and the IRS mails back an apology.

              • Necro reply here as well:

                The villain known as Coil once successfully assassinated Skitter. She didn’t even notice it. He, on the other hand, very much noticed her assassinating him right back.

                It’s exceedingly hard to seriously tempt Skitter – unless you’re offering her either a fight with a class-S threat or a hot cup of tea.

                Fate chose to make Skitter a girl because a male Skitter wouldn’t have been able walk with balls that big.

  51. Yay, an update!
    Sometimes reading the comments is just as good as reading the story. Great group.

    Worst case scenario, the S9 backtracked D&D to the school. After all, aren’t a significant portion of the “next generation” in the school? Given the instability of the “old guard”, a dramatic loss of potential young heroes could be catastrophic.

    But far more likely is the fact that Dragon and Defiant are there to deliver lunch. It will be a subpar selection, and everyone will agree that a better choice could have been made.

    I’m curious as to why Defiant’s voice sounded funny. Maybe he jumped the shark and went full artificial, and he’s using the same speech emulation software that Dragon was, except without a fake accent to hide the fake speech. The speculation is amazing. Also, I wanna see what Clockblocker’s gauntlet is about. I forsee some definite applications for some sort of net/grappling hook launcher. Could synergize very well with his powers.

    Also, is it just me who saw some epic potential for Panacea to create some dog-spiders that Bitch could pump up and Skitter could control. Eight Legged Freaks style, giant spiders everywhere.

    Last irrational theory, Greg has a trigger event. His power is to kill bugs, he is inconsolable. Skitter punches him in the face and he runs away swearing vengence.

    I’m going to stop now before this gets completely out of hand.

    • Well, Eddie, Armsmaster’s voice sounded funny because there comes a time in every boy’s life when he begins to go through some changes. He gets taller, hair starts growing in funny places, and you begin to get fun thoughts about girls, or other boys, or girls and boys. For a geek like Colin, this took a little while and required the use of computers, but it seems he’s finally hit puberty and he has had high tech electronic balls installed in the dropped position.

      I am pretty sure that it was stated somewhere he used something to alter his voice a little because he’s not supposed to be out and about as Defiant.

      The Gauntlet is probably just something that fires a dart with a line attached to it for him to have ranged timestopping powers, inspired by what Skitter did against Noelle.

    • Even with Bonesaw’s latest toys, there isn’t a chance of the remainder of S9 heading back to Brockton Bay anytime soon. They’ve gone up against the PRT and probably any other military oriented cape organization and emerged victorious with most of their firepower intact. They go to Brockton Bay and within a week they lose half of their members, including two of their three supposedly unbeatable brutes.
      Jack Slash is cunning and deadly, but he isn’t stupid. Skitter would personally plant her boot in his ass if he broke the truce they agreed to, preventing the S9 from heading back within a certain amount of time. (2 years, I believe?)

  52. Wooohoo! Will there be another school smackdown? Some tinker needs to be recruited to make microbombs for Skitter’s bugs, for dealing with armor and robots.

    • Ya know… whatever happened to Chariot after he was carted away? It’s not like he did anything cageworthy – or did he? Somebody paying more attention, hope you know the answer to this one.

      • He could be in the same minor cape jail that Theo (YMMV) and Sophia (Proven) are in, where Skitter might (WMG) be headed. But on the cast page it just lists him as missing.

        • Theo wouldn’t be in that kind of jail. He has no powers. I would argue the constitutionality of putting an unpowered human in with superpowered juveniles just on the suspicion he could get powers, but at this point I’d only be making their legal system laugh with that one.

          • Constitutionality for parahumans, whats that? Well depends on how often third generation capes manifest. Makes me wonder what school that 5 year old with powers in Toronto is going to go to.

      • It looks like Chariot was last seen being held at gunpoint by Tattletale’s hired mercs. I suppose that she could have turned him over to the heroes, but I would think they would have mentioned that. She could have run him out of town like Circus, Leet, and Uber, who were in the same situation and subsequently got eaten by Echidna (but apparently disappeared midway through the Echidna arc). Or she could have offered him a job-anything Coil had offered him she could have as well, and it isn’t like he has many places to run to after what happened during the debate.

  53. It’s been mentioned by others, but guess who’s present but untouched by the action, sporting a new toy we haven’t seen yet? Someone who was struggling with the PRT’s rules even before the Echidna fiasco, who has a new respect for Skitter and might even be a little sweet on her? C’mon, Clockblocker, show us what you’re made of.

    • YES. I really want some new blood and a Ward joining the Undersiders would be great. Come one Clockie, take a stand.

      • Your overlooking another option.

        skitter is captured. Clockblocker lays claim to the newly acquired teenage super, gaining some serious new firepower for the wards, offering skitter an out and pissing off pretty much everyone else in the process.

        Chrysalis is the process of changing from a catapiller into a butterfly. Having skitter get caught, then forced to face and own up to some of the bad shit she has done, then try to make up for it as a hero would fit that name.

        also, please, PLEASE next time your doing dialog with clockblocker, and you accidently type cockblocker instead, leave it, and just have someone laugh in the background without ever explaining why.

          • Taking the moral high ground would require them to get into situations where they don’t have a dozen teammates, a battalion of PRT grunts, and multi-million PR and legal defense departments backing them up.

            I swear to god these guys wouldn’t walk a little old lady across the street without a 200 yard military perimeter and Legend on call for support.

          • The heroes can’t take the moral high ground. The villains captured it years ago using a team that cares about each other and aren’t disfunctional while also being much better for the residents of the high ground. In attempting to take it back, the heroes authorized a plan to firebomb it in a Burnt Earth policy. Luckily, the villains saved the moral high ground and have rebuilt it as a nice place to live with good schools and property values.

  54. Another possible twist that might be interesting is if those kids under her protection that Charlotte brought to school all run out and try to keep Dragon and Defient from taking her away.

  55. Dragon is forced by her program, to obey authority. She wants Skitter to escape and is talking to give her a chance.

  56. Why is everyone assuming it is Cauldron behind this? Cauldron is more or less removed from the Protectorate now. I think this sinister action can be given to the PRT without any help from Cauldron. Or maybe even the Guild (seeing as Dragon is a member).

  57. It occurs to me that Skitter may have done a bit of ass-u-me-ing here. I have a strong notion that she’s so vain and really thinks this song is about her when it isn’t. Maybe Dragon and Armsmaster are shutting her down because she’s interfering with the heroes that are here to help.

  58. Perhaps I missed someone else drawing this same conclusion, but *if* Dragon just outed Taylor as Skitter, then it really has to be intentional and either part of what she’s being forced to do, or part of how she’s interfering with the goal of whomever is forcing her hand. Dragon could not break the truce and cause that kind of harm due to carelessness.

    My tentative guess is that the S9 and the end of the world scenario have manifested in such a way that Skitter’s powers are flatly necessary. For as yet unrevealed reasons, Dragon is simultaneously putting Taylor’s dad in protective custody and exposing Skitter’s identify so that it can’t be used against her in the future.

    That still rings a little hollow to me though, and so have faith that wildbow will pull something completely unexpected out of his hat.

  59. I think it’s rather telling that it’s just D&D and a couple of localish/nearby heroic-types. Hardly seems like the amount of firepower ‘Skitter’s’ reputation would warrant?

    • Well, to be fair, the local heroes, wards and guards were not really much of an inconvenience for Skitter. She beat them handily by calmly sitting in the cafeteria and then nonchalantly strolling out the door.

      Or she would have if it wasn’t for D&D. Dragon despite her questionable taste in boyfriends is the premier tinker cape in the world. And while Defiant is an asshole, he is an asshole who used to be the leader of the local Protectorate team and who designed the weapon that Skitter used to hurt an Endbringer. They spent their spare time hunting down an S-class threat. They are good.

  60. In nearly every battle Kid Win has participated in do far he has failed to impress, how many more times must his orifices be stuffed full of bugs before he wises up and wear a costume that’s bug-proof? Maybe its time to change his name to Kid Fail?

    • To be fair, he only just now figgered out his tinker specialization all the while the villains are getting increasingly out of his league and local authority is falling apart at the seams. Kind of hard to find an opportunity for success.

      Frankly, I sympathize with his decision to focus on his work and not worry about all the bullshit that’s been going on. Smart kid.

    • First off, first time posting. Just finished archive binging from chp. 1 to now reading off and on a few hours at a time over the past three days. I’d go off to do something else, but then irreversibly get dragged back to Worm to keep reading. It’s a story that I easily put up there with Jim Butcher’s Dresdenverse, Sandy Mitchell’s Ciaphas Cain series, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series- or a multitude of other similar amazing authors and their works.

      Your portrayal of the characters as people is beyond being just simply realistic, landing firmly in the territory of solidly -real-. The interactions betwixt all the Undersiders as a team as well as the Undersiders and the PRT and their affiliates just resonates beautifully with how real people would act, not how you might think people might act.

      Seriously, Wildbow, I really look forward to you getting better recognition and an official acceptance from a publisher so that you can become more widely known and can produce even further adventures (while getting handsomely paid) in the Wormverse once Skitter’s is finally done; As it is, at over a million words, if you remove interludes and publish them as a separate anthology of short stories attached to Skitter’s Tale, I could see this easily being a series of two trilogies and the anthology already, just going by word count (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files typically run about 80-120K words or so, with some variance each novel, for example).

      On a less fangirlish squeeing note directly to the author, I haven’t been following the comments section too closely, but I do remember you mentioning no one properly understood how Grue’s power siphoning worked, exactly, and would like to posit my own potentiality: His passenger connects to the other parahuman’s passenger via the medium of his power; The darkness dampens the powers of parahumans because his passenger was leeching the power all along; His second trigger event allowed his mind to tap a little more of the passenger’s power and has been dampening more powers because it’s able to steal more power, and only now can he actually utilize that lost potential of the other parahuman himself- He’s basically acting as a conduit for their powers, rather than stealing them for a period, or just dampening their powers needlessly. This would also explain the fact he can only draw from a single other power at once- They are all having a portion stolen, but he can only channel one power at a time- Much like trying to thread a needle, you can only really get one thread through at a time or else they bunch up and refuse to slide through. If someone’s already gotten it right, please do correct me on that.

      Lastly, in regards to the current story as it is: Skitter entered the cafeteria’s kitchen, not the serving area. I can tell you from experience working in school cafeterias that unless they’re low budget (and far too many are) they often have a kitchen area in back behind doors proper where dishwashing, prepwork, possibly baking and other cooking can go on outside the view of the cafeteria proper- especially if cooking classes or extra credit work in the cafeteria is offered as well.

      It was specifically mentioned that Taylor went through the doors to the kitchen of the cafeteria, so only those who were paying attention to someone slipping through the doors- a certain Emma, for example, who may have not taken her eyes off Taylor since entering the cafeteria, or perhaps Greg- would have been able to get even a hint that it was Taylor that was in the kitchen. Armsmaster did indeed kill the bugs that were on the outside door, the one that kitchen supplies would have been brought into the school by. Dragon stopped outside the doors into the kitchen, inside the cafeteria- Everyone in the cafeteria heard, but no one can actually see Taylor right now.

      I’m thinking that they’re going to allow her to go in the end, using either a loophole or Defiant/Armsmaster letting her go even though he doesn’t think she deserves to; However, I think her public identity is now going to be compromised, and she will indeed metamorphose from the split life of Taylor and Skitter to simply being Skitter. (And if you decide that she needs a new name and rename her to The Monarch, I’m going to facepalm so hard…)

      Okay, two last things: Psycho Gecko, you’re awesome, and you deserve a hug for your insanity, inanity, and overall awesomeness in referential humour and crazy bag lady stuff. Comments section, Y U SO LONG?! Seriously wish half the time that the comments defaulted as collapsed until you opened them up, so i could see how far into a chapter I was, or how much remained, instead of having to just eyeball it and search for a while if I accidentally lost my place >.o The comments for this page alone are well over 9/10ths the entire length of the page now.

      • Hi, R.C.

        Thank you for the compliments, it’s kind of mind-blowing that I’m being compared to the likes of Jim Butcher or any of those guys.

        In regards to the Grue thing – the comment I made about people not understanding it was more directed at people who kept saying that they expected Grue to get in the middle of a cape fight and absorb every power, and kick ass with zero effort. I can’t/won’t confirm or deny speculation, but your explanation is pretty fitting.

        Hopefully tonight’s update will clarify where things are in terms of the overall layout. Worst case scenario, I go back and rewrite, but I’m trying to minimize how much I do that, especially as time gets shorter and it takes away from the writing of the next chapter(s).

        Anyways, I won’t dither. Thanks for your comment, and I hope to see you about, Rika Covenant. If you happened to be willing, a review or even just a rating out of five on Webfictionguide would be appreciated. I know you have to sign up, but it’s more visibility and will hopefully nudge me up the popularity list (where I’m presently #3).

        • Just call me Rika, Wildbow. I don’t want to have anyone coming up to me and going “ba-weep-gra-na-weep-ninny-bong” and trying to stick something up an exhaust pipe. ;P I also am more a fan of purple than pink.

          I wouldn’t give you the compliments if I didn’t feel you deserved them. I really haven’t been this interested in reading a story since I finished re-reading the Mistborn series (I really think he outdid himself finishing off Wheel of Time- What do you think?).

          Wasn’t expecting you to confirm/deny speculation, was more directing it at the idea that it only draws one power at a time, and the methodology of it as a bonus- I’ve always been very concerned about a consistancy of how things work within any given work- I like to figure out how things tick by taking them apart and putting them together again, I guess? Bit like Dragon in that way. X3

          I just realized in my sleep-deprived state (I’m up all night and into the morning @_@) that he didn’t just force her to the doors to the kitchen, but back through them and to the cafeteria doors- It seems like I once again glossed over the exact details when i was reading, like it seems quite a few had as well in regards to the kitchen doors existing. I think it comes from not putting into perspective that he’s marching her through the doors back into the cafeteria, just that he stops when they’re at the front of the cafeteria, and I interpreted that as meaning the doors from the kitchen to cafeteria, somehow.

          I rated this web serial on already, by the way, and I just registered to webfictionguide to rate it and write a more comprehensive review later, I think. To think I’d be recommended to read this from an online game- One about anime parodies, no less. Love you, Auth.❤

          • Thank you, Rika. 🙂

            A good review never fails to put a smile on my face. I’m glad I’ve managed to get character’s voices through in a distinct way.

            Getting increasingly nervous about what happens post-Worm. Feel like I somehow got lucky, chanced on an idea and a set of characters that just fit well with how I think, and when I try the next work, I’ll realize it was just a mater of stars aligning right. Urk.

            Been dabbling with ideas on what I might write next, as of late. Is daunting, to try and match what I’ve put together with Worm.

          • Well, you know what they say about the “sophomore” album, Wildbow. You get your entire life to do the first one, and only a year or so for the follow-up.

            You might actually be better off spending time marketing THIS book before really starting on the next one. Look how long JKR took before she came out with something new.


        • You didn’t just get lucky, Wildbow. If you just got lucky, then you wouldn’t have gotten out -over a million words- worth of text that is as riveting now as it was when you first started writing it, and will be a decade from now as well. It is the fruit of your honest labour, your hard work and determination and perseverance- and a good editor team in your regular commenters😛

          You’ll do fine. I believe in you. ^_^

      • Greetings Rika! Always fun to see someone else who wants to talk about me. All this other speculation around, you’d almost think I wasn’t the main event, halftime show, and crossdressing as half the cheerleaders all in one package.

        Let’s talk about Gex, baby, let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things, and the bad things, that may be.
        Feel free to add your own speculative voice to our little comment collective. It gets slow the day just before an update. Then again, the whole page slows for me a little due to all the comments.

        We all appreciate another hopeless Worm addict, Wildbow appreciates the appreciation , and I also appreciate the kind words despite me being something like the lovechild of everything the Nostalgia Critic hates with everything he loves.

        You’ve missed some crazy comment fun, but we’ll change all that. From now on, you’ll miss your sanity instead.

  61. Sorry to make the comments section even longer but I have a question: has Dragon made a meat-body that can fool everyone that isn’t DefiantMaster yet? I am almost certain she has but can’t find the chapter.

  62. Oi, Wildbow, would you get annoyed if people asked Worm trivia questions when you start your new projects?
    So I can know how likely you are to postpone Parahumans: The Sequel if I ask you several more times which Endbringer fought Lung
    *Note: No this isnt an impending threat of irritatingness heh

    • I’m not much more likely to answer them -then- than I am now. We’ll see. I may stipulate certain answers I’d be willing to give (as far as clarifying story events, perhaps, filling in the blanks in conversations where only half was heard, etc).

      • I love your willingness to go into the comments section and actually respond to your fans
        Imagine if your favorite writer would respond to some of your questions while reading through the chapters of their book
        You are a fantastic person, also thank you for the answer, I appreciate it

  63. For the love of God, please, i dont want an april fools joke here…. i…. i coulnd handle it, specially after that clifhanger

  64. How did they get to Brockton Bay so goddamn fast? They were chasing the Slaughterhouse Nine on the other side of the country wtf! Also I feel like Taylor would have realised Dragon of all people would be on the computers but maybe she’s not knowledgeable about that.

    • “Other side of the country”? Last we hear, D&D and the S9 were in Boston, and Brockton Bay has been stated to be on the east coast. Besides, they have Dragon’s suits, which can probably fly at least as fast as a commercial airplane.

  65. Woohoo! When Taylor didn’t need bugs to figure out who had just showed up to the party, my first thought was “Defiant? Nah, that’s gotta be just my eagerness to see him making me think crazy things, it’s probably Alexandria or the ghost of Echidna or something.” And then it was him! And Dragon! This is gonna be awesome!

  66. I love the story, the characters, nearly everything! It really is fantastic. Cannot WAIT to see how Skitter and Dragon circle one another!!!
    Now, I do have some criticism you might find useful in the edit process. It started small, with the first example I found in this chapter that jerked me out of the story, but you’ll see how it expands to a generalized issue.

    This description is awkward with joined-joining:
    ” … two longer buildings joined by a third, joining them to form something like a capital ‘H’.”
    Try this:
    ” … two longer building wings joined by a third, forming a capital ‘H’.”

    If I am visualizing what you really meant, it’s not 3 really buildings (as discussed in early comments), it’s one H shaped building with long legs (one longer than the other?).
    They aren’t considered separate buildings if they interconnect — just wings. It’s a pretty standard architecture to maximize windows to square footage in institutional buildings.

    Same paragraph “… open into an open space …” — also awkward, several ways to fix. Just drop the 2nd open, or change it to wider, or change first open to ‘reach’.

    Oh, and later, when she goes down a stairwell to where the guidance offices are? I don’t recall her going UP any stairs earlier, so if she WAS on a ground level (same as the front door), she is now below ground. The guidance office have interior ‘window’ walls, but windows to outside?!? Was she just standing there in front of the guard and the counselor at the window-wall the whole time she was gathering bugs and checking exterior exit options and eavesdropping on the principle’s call and so on just before the lockdown alarm? That would be noticeable.

    Speaking of evaluating exits, since the doors to the parking lot and the door you are calling ‘front’ are apparently both facing the same compass direction, but on the ends(?) of two different wings, maybe you should call the second ones the MAIN ENTRANCE doors.
    ERRGH! You see how your description slows me down?
    I have found that your descriptions of physical surroundings, especially building interiors, OFTEN make me stop and go, “Hunh?” Sometimes I think it is because you OVER describe details, at times with this kind of ‘clunky’ wording, so much that I’m trying to fill in even more minutia NOT relevant to story flow.

    I doubt that Skitter thought much more than “I don’t know this place too well but it seems like an H-shaped building; I’m in the center part with all the admin offices. Too many windows look down into here, gotta move out. Let’s see … All the doors around here look like emergency only, barred and alarmed, so … Main entrance door in right wing past the auditorium, door to parking lot in left wing past the gym and cafeteria.” as she evaluated this — why did you elaborate?

    Describe the little bits she sees, either with her eyes or her bugs, in the SIMPLEST big picture way you can. Pare it down. Every piece of architecture becomes a Chekov’s brick, so only describe the ones she really will need to climb over or break through or check behind.
    Oh, and to lighten this just a little — I cannot believe you didn’t have her shelter in at least ONE bathroom as she was attempting to evaluate her options! It’s so HS classic and story resonant!

  67. I find it strange how viewers see a character that is villainous/they simply dislike,and,just because of that,make assumptions that are completely OOC for him,or that blame him for events.

    Armsmaster has been shown not to hate Skitter,and to not be willing to mindrape Dragon,damnit.He is just as bad for taking this decisions as all the other heroes who participated except Dragon are,no worse,no better.

  68. Well….and I thought Bad finally stopped the everlasting “everything always goes badpy and fast” routine.
    Mind, I think Worm is a good serial. But with a little less “oh wie is skitter” it could be fantastic.

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