Cockroaches 28.4

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“We’re here,” I said.

It was enough.  All the different personalities in the Dragonfly, the… how had Tattletale put it, once upon a time?  The people who weren’t inclined to play ‘cops and robbers’, who weren’t the types to follow the rules or codes, and were dangerous without a firm hand.  Rachel, Lung, Sophia… they fell silent.  The fighting stopped.

Because they, even with their unique and personal issues, acknowledged that this wasn’t a situation where you fucked around.

Monitors switched settings without any cue from me.  Showing the Simurgh from a distance away, from a different angle.  Defiant had switched on his long-ranged cameras.

A moment later, he switched on the cameras in the Dragonfly.  The two sets of images alternated across the innumerable displays in the craft.  Only the display directly in front of me in the cockpit remained untouched, showing altitude, heading, speed, distance from target, and alerts regarding Scion’s latest appearances.

The Dragonfly changed course, angling to maintain a set distance from the Endbringer.  Again, not me.

Defiant seemed content to handle the mechanical end of things.  I stood from my seat, stretching a little, before gathering my bugs.  Two relay bugs, for safety’s sake.  They exited the craft.

No scream from the Simurgh.  At least, not one I could detect.  It would fit her to keep it beyond our notice, influencing us, the sort of card she would keep up her sleeve.  To make the psychic scream ‘audible’, for lack of a better word, purely for spreading fear, then use it subtly at a time when she wasn’t attacking.

The others in the ship hadn’t only gone silent.  They’d gone still.  I might have taken it for an almost hypnotic paralysis, a sign that something was deeply wrong, but Rachel turned and found a seat on the bench opposite Shadow Stalker.

No, they were still themselves.

My bugs made their way towards the Simurgh, while I chained the two relay bugs together to extend my range.

Fragile, as it only required the death of one bug to sever my connection with the swarm.  I didn’t mind.  If she acted on my swarm, that was likely to be the least of our worries.

Cameras changed focus, zooming in on the Simurgh’s face, hands and various wingtips, different cameras taking over as the Pendragon and the Dragonfly rotated around her and the cameras lost sight of the features in question.  Mosaic views of her features, broken up like I might see if I were looking through the eyes of my bugs, but without my power to coodinate the picture, draw it into something cohesive.

In the corner of each image, metrics, numbers, measurements, as if Defiant hoped to track the slightest movement.

It was the hair that got me.  Gossamer-fine, silver-white, straight, it blew in the wind as if each strand were a separate entity.  Not in clumps or locks, but a curtain of strands ten times as dramatic as something one might see in a digitally altered hair commercial.


“Seventy,” Tattletale said.

“Hm?” I asked.

“I said I was sixty-five percent sure before.  I’m revising it to seventy.”

I nodded.

Hello, Simurgh, I thought.  We finally meet.

The Protectorate was strict about who could join the fights against the Simurgh.  Capes needed psychological evaluations, they needed to sign documents agreeing to the quarantine procedures, and they needed to be on board with the timetables.

I’d been unable to participate when the Simurgh had attacked flight BA178.  When she’d attacked Manchester, I’d been barred from joining the fight by bureaucratic red tape.  I had a bad history and I was still on probation.  Too likely that I was mentally unstable.

When the Simurgh had hit Paris, I’d gone to Mrs. Yamada, hoping for a therapist’s bill of clean mental health.  Or, if not quite that, then at least a go-ahead.

She’d advised me to see it as a good thing, instead.  That my participation would be another black mark on my record, another reason for people to be suspicious of me or second guess my decisions.

She’d also very elegantly avoided spelling out that she wasn’t willing to give me that clean bill of mental health.  I’d noticed, but hadn’t pressed her on it.  She would have been forced to say it straight, and I would have had to hear her say it.

“Ready?” I asked.

“I do the talking, you pass it on,” Tattletale said.

I nodded.

Tattletale sighed.  “Look at her.  The folly of man, am I right?”

“I don’t know.  You have a better idea about whether you’re right, but it… doesn’t fit to me.”

“I’m sure.”

“You’re seventy percent sure.”

“Seventy percent, yes.  If I’m wrong, then I’ll be approaching this entire conversation from the wrong angle, and we might wind up siccing an otherwise passive Endbringer on humanity.”

“Let’s hope you’re right, then,” I said.

She nodded.

“Everyone ready?” I asked.  I looked around the craft.  No responses.  Only silent nods.

One head that was shaking.  Shadow Stalker.

I touched the screen on the console.  “Defiant?”

Ready when you are,” he said.

“We’re starting right now,” I said.  I nodded at Tattletale.

She rolled her shoulders, took in a deep breath, then sighed.  “Hello, Endbringer, this-”

I echoed her words, speaking through my bugs as an interpreter might speak in another language.

The instant I had the first word out, alarms went off throughout the ship.  The Dragonfly shuddered as meager weapons unfolded from the sides.  My visual of the Pendragon showed it was reacting much the same way.

Simurgh had reacted.

She hadn’t attacked, but she had reacted.

She rotated in the air, holding her position, wings flat at her sides.  The wings were purely ornamental, much as Behemoth’s bulk and musculature had been.  She used telekinesis to move, and she used it now to keep herself oriented in the air, rotating so she matched our orbit around her, her eyes and attention fully fixed on the Dragonfly.

“Oh, shit,” Imp spoke, her voice wavering breathlessly halfway through the ‘shit’.

Long seconds passed, but the Simurgh didn’t take any other action.

“Th- this is Tattletale speaking, one face in that vast, crazy crowd of humans you’ve been murdering,” Tattletale finished.  “Good to see you’re listening.  I thought it was about time we had a chat.”

No response, no movement.  Odd, to see the screens showing her depicting the zoomed-in images of her face, hands, wings and body and not see them rotating in the picture as they had been before.

Her expression was neutral, but then again, the Simurgh’s expression was always neutral.  A face like a doll’s, a cold stare.  Beautiful in every conventional sense, in that every classically attractive feature was there, from the delicate, thin frame to the high cheekbones to the luxurious hair… horrifying in the manner it was all framed.  The height that put her two to three times the height of an ordinary adult, the wings that filled the space around her.  The feathers were surprisingly tough and dense, the edges capable of scoring steel.

Not that she really fought in close quarters, where she could help it.

“Let’s face the facts, Simurgh.  Ziz.  Israfel.  Ulama.  Whatever you want to go by.  You started acting funny pretty much right away, after Eidolon bit it.  Maybe that’s mourning.  Maybe you respected him as an enemy, ’cause he was one of only two individuals who could really give you guys a run for your money.  Or maybe you had a different relationship.”

Tattletale let the words hang in the air.

“Maybe a parent-child relationship?  Maybe he created you.”

The Simurgh didn’t move a muscle.  Her hair blew in the wind, and it caught on the features of her face, not even eliciting a blink of her eyes.

I leaned over my chair to hit the button on my cockpit, giving me a view of the inside of the Pendragon.

Defiant, Narwhal, Miss Militia, Saint, Canary, Parian, Foil, Golem, Vista and Kid Win were all present within.  Defiant had collected the heroes, the capes who might have been less inclined to throw their hat into the ring if I showed up in the company of Tattletale, Imp and Rachel.  He’d been closer to Parian and Foil when I approached him with the plan.

I watched the expressions on their faces, the concern, the alarm and confusion I’d felt only minutes ago.  I knew Tattletale hadn’t shared this particular detail.  They had to be listening in with some microphone, either a directional one aimed at my swarm outside or one in the Dragonfly.

“They say loneliness breeds the best masters, and it’s awfully lonely at the top,” Tattletale said.  “Nobody that can really put up a fight, no excuse to flex his abilities to their fullest, nothing that can really give the man any real stature, next to Legend, who had all the face time with the media.  No real role to play, compared to Alexandria, who was managing the PRT.  Odd man out.”

I thought of Eidolon, the first time I’d seen him in person.  Meeting in preparation for the Leviathan fight in Brockton Bay… Eidolon had been standing off to one side, in a corner, lost in thought.

“Symbiotic, odd as it sounds, what with you trying to kill him and him trying to kill you.”

Still no reaction.  No response.

I noted the surroundings.  The Simurgh had situated herself above the ocean, an eerie parallel to how Scion had first appeared before humanity.  As battlegrounds went, it left her relatively little to manipulate when using her telekinesis, but it also gave us very little ground to stand on if a fight erupted.  She’d torn apart Flight BA178.  She could tear apart the Dragonfly or the Pendragon if she had a mind to.

Hopefully the other ship would be able to flee, if we couldn’t manage an outright fight.

Tattletale held up a hand, then spoke.  “She’s not giving me anything.”

I didn’t repeat it for the Simurgh.  I only stared at the screens.

“Did you expect her to?”  Imp asked.

“Yeah.  Kind of,” Tattletale said.

“She’s not human,” I said.  “And, if you’re right about this, she’s only a projection.  Her brain doesn’t work like ours does, if it’s even active.”

“She responded when we communicated,” Tattletale said.

I nodded.  “Defiant, you listening in?”

On the screen in front of us, Defiant turned to the camera, then nodded once.

“Open to suggestions,” I said.

“We could use powers to try and communicate,” Narwhal said.  “Can we express a signal through some other channel?  Through our powers?”

“It might be taken as an attack,” I said.

“She’s smart enough to figure out convoluted chains of cause and effect, but not to take a gesture of communication for what it is?”  Tattletale asked.  “I say we try it.”

“Oh my god,” Shadow Stalker said, her voice quiet.  “You’re going to get us all killed.”

“Well, it might be a mercy,” Imp said.  “Going out like that, not having to watch the golden man take humanity down piece by piece.”

“Could we try Canary?” I suggested.  “If she has any understanding of powers, or if Canary has any influence with things other than humans…”

I don’t,” Canary said, from within the Pendragon.  “I tried using my power on dogs, cats, birds, monkeys…

Tattletale nodded, like this was something expected.  “Bonesaw said something like that.  When we get our powers, the passenger manages this sort of scan, trying to figure out a way to apply a part of itself.  So Taylor gets a power that’s restricted to bugs, Canary gets a power that’s limited to people.  At the same time, the passenger kind of figures out if there’s any danger of the power harming us, physically or mentally, and it sets down safeguards and limits.  Headaches like Dinah or I get are part of that.  And Eidolon…”

“I don’t… I can’t believe all this,” a woman said.  Miss Militia.

“He’s really their creator?”  Defiant asked.  “Eidolon?”

“…Sixty percent sure.  Eidolon’s some kind of exception, on a lot of levels.  His power works by different vectors, the innate limits aren’t there… something broke, and I’m betting the Endbringers are tied to it.  Like, this entity is fissioning off into countless fragments that impregnate hosts and somehow a little extra gets tacked on.  Or Cauldron’s method of replicating the fragments gets that little extra.”

“Yes,” Defiant said.  “But how does that help us here?”

“Getting to that.  Sort of.  Every power has secondary uses, uses that are locked away.  But maybe there’s something we can express using the powers, like a kind of parahuman charades.  Not, you know, actually miming something, but giving off a vibe.”

“I’ll try whatever,” I said.  “Who?  How?”

Tattletale smiled.  “Oh, this is fun.  It’s like a puzzle, but it’s not one with a clear cut answer.  Rachel, Canary.  Um.  Imp too.  And Taylor’s right.  Any use of power in a way that could be seen as violent might give the wrong cue.  So… none of that.  Let’s move people between ships.  Bitch, to the Pendragon.  Leave Bastard behind.  Canary, can you get out on top of your ship?  And Imp, same for you.  We need to distance you from the rest of us.”

Outside?” Imp asked.

“Outside and away.  Where your power doesn’t necessarily have a target.  You get me?”

“Three people using their powers,” Defiant said, “Without any valid targets?”

Exactly,” Tattletale said.

“I could lose my bugs,” I said.  “But I’m not sure I can express my power in a case like that.”

“Even if you could, but that would be pretty heavy handed.  It’s what we try next if this fails.  For now, let’s work with the existing plan.”

I pulled off my flight pack, then handed it to Imp.

“Oh, fun,” she said.  “God damn it.”

“No quips?  No jokes?”  I asked.  I helped her find the buckles and straps.

“When I’m done, maybe,” Imp said.  She glanced at Tattletale.  “I can’t turn my power on.  It’s always on.  I can turn it off, but that only works so long as I’m paying attention.”

“Don’t pay attention then.  Leave it running.  We’re trying to express an attitude.”

Imp nodded.

“What attitude is Imp?” I asked.

“Nonviolence, passivity,” Tattletale said.  “At least as far as we’re concerned.”

“And Rachel?”

“A call to arms, expression of strength.”

“And Canary is… cooperation?”

“Something along those lines.”

I nodded.

Tattletale shrugged.  “Lung would be too violent, and the focus of Vista’s power is too… location-driven?  I have no idea how she’d take Narwhal’s power, because it’s pretty evenly split between offense and defense.”

“Kind of abstract,” I said.

“I’m… reaching,” Tattletale confessed.  “Definitely reaching.  But reaching and abstract thought bought us the portal to Gimel, and I’ve got to flex my power somehow.”

“Somehow,” I agreed.  “No, it’s worth a try.  Or it will be if it doesn’t provoke her to violently murder us all.  Can I make a suggestion, though?”

“Any suggestions are good,” Tattletale said.

“Send Shadow Stalker instead of Imp.”

“You bitch,” Shadow Stalker said.  “No.”

Awesome idea,” Imp said.

“Shadow Stalker’s power doesn’t express itself over an area or any particular medium,” Tattletale said.  “It’s more personal.”

“Can’t she represent us?”  I asked.  “Or can’t the personal effect represent us?  If we had Imp flying up there way out of range of any of us, we’re still expecting her to represent our group, or humanity as a whole, aren’t we?”

“Sort of,” Tattletale said.

“Then I’m not sure I see the difference,” I said.

“It doesn’t matter,” Shadow Stalker said.  “This is moronic.  Charades and acting like powers are some kind of massive signal flag for the Endbringer?  You’re lunatics.”

“Send them both?” I suggested.

“Oh, that’s less fun,” Imp said.  “You had a working plan, and you’re letting Tattletale convince you otherwise.  Come on.  Send the psycho crossbow girl and I’ll hang back here.  My power would send the total wrong message.  Totally.”

“Shh,” Tattletale said.  She frowned.  “Why Shadow Stalker?”

“Because Imp… is too passive.”

Way too passive,” Imp murmured.

“So’s Shadow Stalker,” Tattletale said.

“But Shadow Stalker’s passenger isn’t.  If there are any undertones, any way that the passengers influence our actions, then Shadow Stalker was definitely influenced.  I dug through her old records, read up on her history.”

“What?” Shadow Stalker asked.

“She got aggressive after she got her powers.  Generally more…” I searched for the way to phrase it.

“You fucking looked at my records?”

“…More violent than most people would be, in her shoes.  Lashing out, aimlessly at first, and then with a target, channeling the aggression.  Except it was the same amount of violence, just concentrated into fewer incidents, alongside a pretty extensive bullying campaign.”

“You’re doing this because of a grudge?”

“Let’s do it,” Tattletale said.  “Go with our guts.  Imp and Shadow Stalker, up on the roof.  Bitch, either you or Bastard need to head over to the Pendragon.  Canary on the roof of the Pendragon, singing with nobody listening.”

“You’re not getting me outside or any of that shit,” Shadow Stalker said.

“You’re scared,” Imp said.  “That’s so cute!  Is it a fear of heights or a fear of the Simurgh?”

“I’m not scared,” Shadow Stalker replied.  “I’m being sensible.  This is lunacy, and for what?  Charades with the Endbringer?”

“That was a metaphor,” Tattletale said.

“It sounds fucking stupid.”

“I’ve changed my mind,” Imp said.  “I’m going.  I’m not going to get lumped in with Sissy McNancypants over here and get called a coward.”

“I’m not scared,” Shadow Stalker said.

“We never really got to meet,” Imp said.  “Fight or any of that.  So I’ve only got the stories I’ve heard about you.  Like when you shot Grue with your crossbow and it went right through his stomach?  Took him a month to recover?  I used to think, you know, you were a badass.  But you’re a pussycat.”

“She’s a bully,” I said.  “At the end of the day, she only wants to fight opponents she knows she can beat.”

“I’ve fought two Endbringers,” Shadow Stalker said, stabbing a finger in my direction.  “I know what you’re trying to do.  Fucking manipulating me, getting me into a dangerous situation where you’ll get me killed.  Fuck you.”

“Fought two Endbringers as part of an army.  But going up alone, putting yourself in the line of fire against something that much bigger and stronger than you?  No.  You’re a bully at heart, and that’s the antithesis of your usual M.O.”

“Fuck you, Hebert.  Fuck you.”

The sentence left her mouth, and then she stalked to my right, making her way to the cockpit.  She passed through the glass, making her way onto the nose of the ship, where she crouched.  Her flapping cloak obstructed the view, even as translucent as it was, but there was no chance we’d hit anything.

It took a minute to arrange.  Narwhal created a force field platform and carefully moved Rachel over to the Pendragon.  I watched their glacially slow movement and the utterly still Simurgh.

More alarms went off as she moved her head a fraction to watch the floating platform.

It took a few long seconds for my heart to stop trying to jump out of my chest.  Not completely oblivious to us petty humans.

“The girl is right.  This seems… ridiculous,” Lung rumbled.

Oh, Lung and Shadow Stalker are of like mind, that’s wonderful.

“It is, just a little,” Tattletale said.  “But I’m hoping that if this doesn’t exactly work, she’ll give us credit for trying.”

“The Endbringers do not give you credit,” Lung said.

“No, guess not,” Tattletale said.  She bent down to scratch Bastard around the ears, then stopped short when he pulled back, clearly uncomfortable with the stranger.

“Ridiculous,” Lung repeated himself.  “And you stopped in the middle of a conversation.  She is waiting for you to continue.”

“She doesn’t care.  Ninety-nine percent sure.  Gotta understand, she’s not even close to human, especially once you scratch the surface.  We think in black and white, she thinks in… void and substance.  In abstracts or in causative contexts, looking into the future and seeing how things unfold.  So we’re going to try this, and maybe something sticks.”

“Mm,” Lung said, clearly unimpressed.

“Start us up again?”  Tattletale asked me.

I nodded.

“So, Simmy, Eidolon made you, or he’s been enough of an opponent that you’ve kind of got that weird frenemy thing going on.  Not in the shitty high school way, but a real love-hate relationship.  You know what I mean.  You fight them so long you get to know them, you almost respect them on a level, and that respect becomes something more.”

“You’re rambling,” I murmured.

Tattletale shook her head a little.  “Whatever the case, you’re reacting to his being gone.  We’re here because we’re asking you…”

Tattletale trailed off.  She’d noticed something.

My head turned.  Canary was singing, and I could hear it through my bugs.

Wordless, insistent, filled with a lot of repressed emotion.

Almost angry.

I shut it out as best as I could, took a second to focus wholly on keeping my power from communicating any sound to me.  I hit a button on the dashboard, then spent a few seconds tracking down one of Dragon’s programs.

Defiant found it first, loading it onto the Dragonfly’s system.  It began filtering out the singing.  Most of it.

But no sooner had Canary’s Song gone away than the Simurgh began screaming.

Not as intense as I’d heard it described.  Barely audible.

More ominous than anything.

Not full strength,” Miss Militia’s voice came over the comms.  “I give us five minutes.  Wrap this up.”

I unclenched my hands, belatedly realizing I’d been squeezing them so hard they almost hurt.  My fingernails throbbed where they’d been almost bent against my palms.  If I’d not been wearing my gloves, I might have pierced the skin.  I flexed my hands to work out the tension that had accumulated and exhaled slowly.

“We’re here,” Tattletale started again, “Because we’re asking you for help.  For vengeance.  For your strength.  We want you and the rest of the Endbringers on board to stop Scion.”

The Simurgh didn’t react.

“I don’t care if you’re doing it to fuck with us, though I’d prefer it if you saved any backstabbing for when Scion’s dead and gone.  Fucking wipe us out.  I don’t care.  Just so long as we go out with a bang, taking him out with us.”

I made a hand gesture, urging Tattletale to move on.

“…Do it for the psychological impact, leave a mark.  Or do it because Scion killed Behemoth, your brother, and some part of you is programmed with a sense of kinship or whatever.  But above all else, I’m hoping you’ll help us murder that golden alien motherfucker because he killed Eidolon, and he stripped you of your purpose.”

Sixty percent sure, I thought.  Tattletale had revised her number.  How confident was she now?

The speech had no meat to it if Eidolon hadn’t made the Endbringers.

Very little if he had.

Tattletale held up her hand to me again, another sign that I shouldn’t repeat what she was saying, because she was talking to us.  “Fuck this.  It’s like talking to a fucking answering machine.  I feel like some dim asshole with no idea what I’m talking about.  There’s no feedback, no responses to read and judge for the next line.”

“Well,” I said.  “She’s not exactly your usual target.”

What do you usually do?”  Narwhal asked.

“Needle someone until they get upset, then find cues in that.  I’d do that here, except irritating the Simurgh seems like an excuse to get a Darwin Award.”

Tattletale’s being cautious.  Must be the end of the world after all,” someone said.  Might have been Foil.

“She’s singing,” Tattletale said.  “So that’s either a good sign or a very bad sign.”

Going by the numbers,” Miss Militia said, “If we assume it’s half strength, I’d say three minutes before we have to abort.

“Maybe tell Canary to stop,” I said.

“No,” Tattletale said.  “We’re getting a response.  Let’s hold out.”

Then keep talking,” Defiant said.

Tattletale sighed.  She perched herself on the bench, hands on her head.  “I don’t know if I should continue buying into this Eidolon thing.  Less convinced the further we go.  Most times, you get that key piece of information, and you can coast from there.”

“It’s very possible we don’t have enough information,” I said.

“I’m trying to communicate with something that doesn’t communicate back,” Tattletale said.

Reduce,” Defiant said.  “We’re trying to convey a message to a being that we don’t wholly understand.  You’re appealing to sympathy, to revenge.  Something simpler?

Like?” Tattletale asked.

They have a sense of self preservation,” Narwhal said.  “They run when we hurt them enough.  Fear?

“Because it allows them to maintain their mission,” Tattletale said.  “I don’t think we can actually scare her, either.  Scion might, but we can’t.”

The screaming was getting worse.  Warbling, with highs and lows.  It snagged on my attention, making it harder to maintain a train of thought.

Maybe she was reaching out to us, communicating.  Maybe she was just doing her thing, trying to worm her way into our heads so she could figure out how we functioned, put her plans into motion.

Anger,” Rachel said.

I turned my head.

There was a long pause.  I glanced at the screen on the cockpit to see what she was doing, but she’d stopped by the time I got there to look.  “When I cut Behemoth’s leg off, after we’d melted most of him away, he was angry.  Stomped around, attacked more.  Kept fighting until he died.  Didn’t he?

“He did,” Tattletale said.  “But now we’re getting back to the whole ‘needling them’ issue of the debate.  I’m pretty sure I don’t want to provoke her.”

“Dunno,” Rachel said.  “Just saying.”

“No,” I said, “It’s good thinking.  It’s a possibility.”

I could think back to the images of the Simurgh going all-out.

I remembered the various incidents that had unfolded in her wake.  Echidna, the sundering of the PRT.  Things with ramifications that were affecting us even now.

“…A very scary possibility,” I amended.

Lung gave me a funny look.

“Yes,” he said, agreeing with me.

Tattletale made a gesture, pointing at herself.

“Go ahead,” I said.

“Okay, Ziz.  I’m going to be honest.  You’re pretty fucked.  You and I both know you were made by somebody or something.  Accidentally, probably.  You were designed to give us as hard a time as possible without exterminating us altogether, probably to feed someone’s ego, unbeknownst to them.  But what happens when we’re all gone?  What’s the fucking point of you?”

Tattletale paused.  Waiting, watching.

No reaction from Tattletale.

“What happens when we’re all gone?  You’re tapped into a power source.  Maybe most power sources.  You’re draining them dry just to keep yourselves going.  There’s nothing for you to do but linger, when there’s no humans left.  To hibernate.  So you’re gathering your forces.  You’re planning one last act, probably for a few days from now, where you wipe out humanity, and I’m betting it’s one last desperate, sad attempt to validate your existence.”

Alarms went off once more.  The Simurgh had moved, her head turning to look over one shoulder, flexing wings to move them out of the way, as if she couldn’t see through them but she could see well past the horizon.

She returned to the same posture as before.

“What was that about?” I asked.

Checking,” Defiant said.  “Keep going.  Any reaction is a good reaction.”

Maybe it was Scion, arriving just in time to pick a fight with the Simurgh.

I could hope.

Tattletale continued, and I repeated what she was saying verbatim, trying to even match her in tone and pitch.  “Here’s what I’m thinking.  Shot in the dark.  You’re wanting to fight humanity because you’re trying to carry out the old programming, and Scion invalidated that by killing Eidolon, by killing someone else or destroying something.  I think that fighting and nearly killing a few billion humans is the equivalent of fighting and nearly killing Eidolon.  Or whoever.”

“One hundred and eighty integers of longitude to the west,” Defiant said.  “Leviathan just arrived.  That’s what got her attention.  We expected one to appear there, so Chevalier ordered us to put crews there with cameras for monitoring.  They’re there right now, reporting to me.”

A monitor shifted, depicting Leviathan, standing on the water’s surface in the midst of a heavy rainstorm.  The water around him was rippling, though he was utterly still.

Tattletale continued without pause, not responding or reacting to this information.  “All I’m saying, all I’m proposing, is that Scion’s a better bet than we are.  You want to give someone a fucking hard time?  Make that someone Scion.  You want to terrorize people?  Terrorize Scion.  Bigger challenge, and you’ll probably have the rest of us fucking scared out of our minds if you pull it off.  You want to fucking end the world?  Get in line, chickadee, because Scion’s going to beat you to the punch if you don’t stop him.”

Tattletale was almost breathless, speaking faster, with more emotion.  It was a challenge to convey that with a voice generated by the swarm.

“Or maybe you don’t care.  Maybe you’re nothing more than what you appear to be on the surface.  Head games and taking credit for shit you didn’t do.  Maybe you’re just a projection, blank between the ears, mindless, heartless, pointless.”

The ship moved a fraction, then adjusted, the autopilot kicking in.

“Did you feel that?”  I asked.  Tattletale had gone silent, and there were no words left for me to translate.

We did.

A reaction?  I adjusted the monitors, turning everything back to the Simurgh, looking for any clue, any hint.

But she didn’t have body language.  Every action was deliberate.  She didn’t have any that weren’t.

Tattletale’s voice was low.  I did what I could to match it, speaking through a swarm of over a million individual insects and arachnids.  “You’re supposedly this magnificent genius, and this is how you go out?  With a whimper?  Petering out like a stream without a source?  You’re honestly telling me there isn’t anything more to you?”

Another rumble, another shift, somewhat more violent.

Enough, Tattletale.”  Defiant’s voice.

“They run on different patterns.  Fair bit of anger, room for some vengeance.  Cleverness, sure.  More in her than in Behemoth.  Some killer instinct, maybe… a blend of fear and caution.  Not so they’re afraid, but so they can temper their actions.  This?  Right here?  It’s the closest we’re about to get to communicating directly with a passenger.”

I understand,” Defiant said.  “But that’s enough.

“They’re passengers?” I asked.

“The shell?  No.  The outer shell, the concept, the execution, they’re tapping into religious metaphors.  The devil, the serpent, the angel, buddha, mother earth, the maiden, each connected in turn to fundamental forces.  Flame, water, fate, time, earth, the self.  Things deep-seated and fundamental to their creator’s belief system, because that’s how the passengers interpret our world.  Through us.  But deep down?  Beyond that surface, beyond the basic programming that drives them to do what they’ve been doing for thirty years?  It’s the passenger’s brush strokes.  And I’m getting to her.”

No you’re not,” Defiant said.  “Because you’re stopping now.

“Fuck that,” Tattletale said.

“You’re stopping now because it worked.”

One by one, the monitors throughout the Dragonfly shifted, until the one at the very front was the only one that still showed the Simurgh.

The Dragonfly changed course as we looked at the scene that was showing on every other monitor.

The Azazel, airborne.  D.T. officers within were standing by the windows, while one with a camera was holding it above their heads, aiming it towards the window, pointed at the water.

A dark mass was beneath.

Leviathan, matching pace with the ship.

The Dragonfly and Pendragon broke from their orbit around the Simurgh.

The Simurgh followed.

The Yàngbǎn tore through the settlement, barely visible, as fast as arrows loosed from a bow.

One set of powers to give them speed, another to give them the ability to create crude images, illusions, blurry and indistinct.

A weak power, but far less so when coupled with the fact that they were making themselves just as blurry and indistinct.  To top it off, they were making themselves invisible for fractions of a second, and they were lashing out with short blades of cutting energy when they reappeared, slicing through the Australian refugees.

Bombs went off, coordinated, ripping through the spaces the Yàngbǎn had already passed through, cleaning up the ones who’d survived, killing the rescue personnel who were trying to save lives.

Earth Tav, barely two million people spread out across the globe, with this being the largest population center, based around the portal that Faultline, Labyrinth and Scrub had erected.

Without this base for supplies and communication, the other settlements would falter.  Disease would be crippling, food would be scarce at best.

And the Yàngbǎn would no doubt reap the rewards, claiming the planet for the C.U.I.

The Pendragon led the way through the portal, and it suffered the brunt of the bombs that the Yàngbǎn had left in their wake, no doubt to stop any reinforcements.

The Pendragon sank, no longer fully airborne, and the Dragonfly’s cameras could see as Golem, Vista and Cuff did what they could to patch it together.

Not enough.  It landed, hard.

Another bomb went off as the Pendragon hit ground.  Had the Yàngbǎn plotted that?  A second line of defense?

“Everyone okay?” I asked.

Give us a minute.  Nobody dead.

At least the Pendragon was a combat ship, meant to take a beating.  If the Dragonfly had been the first one through, we would have been obliterated.  At best, we’d have managed to evacuate with parachutes, flight packs and shadow-form powers.

We passed through the area the Pendragon had cleared.  One small ship against what had to be thirty Yàngbǎn members.  They didn’t move, but flickered, existing as scarce smudges and streaks of black and an odd midnight blue from the regions of their heads.  They cast out more smudges in matching colors with their image generation powers, turned invisible for one or two seconds at a time when they saw opportunities to catch refugees off guard.  Some merely killed.  Others slashed at eyes or ears, removed hands.  Butchered.

What would the C.U.I. want with scores of butchered people?

It wasn’t really the fault of the individual Yàngbǎn members.  They were brainwashed, subsumed into this collective of shared powers, their identities erased.

But that didn’t make their actions forgivable.

The Simurgh followed behind the Dragonfly, moving each wing until it was pointed straight behind her as she sailed through the narrow, oddly-shaped portal.

When she unfolded her wings, extending each until a veritable halo of them surrounded her, a complete circle, I could feel my heart skip a beat.

“We need to give her orders,” Tattletale said.

I nodded, mustering my swarm into a group large enough to communicate.

But there was no need.  She flew past us.

The singing had died down, but it welled up at full strength.  I almost staggered.

Rubble began to peel away from the demolished settlement beneath us.  Metal, bombs, pieces of structures.

As she reached less damaged areas, she picked up construction vehicles.

The fragments of metal around her were like a dense cloud, almost obscuring her, massive wings and all.

The singing increased in pitch.

A bomb detonated in the midst of the storm of debris, breaking up a bulldozer in the process.

Below her, the scene had gone still.  Yàngbǎn raider and civilian alike had gone still.  The smudges consolidated into forms.

Not the same Yàngbǎn I’d encountered before.  These ones wore similar outfits, but there were bodysuits beneath, no bare skin.  The multifaceted gem designs that covered their faces were dark blue, their costumes black.

Infiltrators.  A sub-set.  One of five sub-groups, apparently.

The debris settled into a single shape, drawing together.  Nothing welded, nothing screwed in together.  Merely a crude device, held together by telekinesis.

A fat, snub-nosed cannon, twice as long as she was tall.  She fired it, and the resulting bullet was nearly ten feet across, a sphere of hot metal.

It crashed into a trio of Yàngbǎn.

She used her telekinesis to sweep it off to the right.  The misshapen bullet was compressed into a rough sphere in the time it took to soar down a long road, smashing through two members of the Yàngbǎn.  A bystander was clipped, spinning violently before collapsing in a heap.  Shattered arm and ribs, if not dead.

I bit my lip.

Don’t injure civilians,” I communicated through the swarm.

She gave no sign she’d listened.  Her telekinesis grabbed four members of the Yàngbǎn who’d gotten too close, lifting them by their costumes or by some other debris that had surrounded them.

As if launched by catapults, they flew straight up, where they disappeared into the clouds above.

I winced as the screaming increased in intensity by another notch.

Did she have to do that?

I felt a touch of paranoia, not just at the idea, but at the fact that I’d been concerned.  Paranoia over the fact I was feeling paranoid.

The Simurgh had crafted another gun.  They floated around her like satellites, firing only in those intermittent moments when she’d formed and loaded the necessary ammunition.

Those are my guns,” Kid Win reported over the comms.  “Bigger, but mine.

I didn’t like that she was screaming.  It set an ugly tone to this whole venture.

I really didn’t like that we couldn’t direct her that well.  We were ending this confrontation decisively, we were probably even doing it more cleanly and with less damage to civilians than there would be if we’d handled it ourselves.

But we’d brought the Simurgh here and people were getting hurt as collateral damage.  That was on us, everything else aside.

“I… don’t know what to feel right now,” Imp said.

“It doesn’t feel good,” I said.

“I wish I knew what I’d said that got her on board,” Tattletale said.  “I went with the shotgun approach, trying to see what stuck… and now I don’t know what to leverage if we need to do it again.”

“You’re so whiny,” Rachel said.  “You say we need her help, we got it.  Good.  Maybe now we can fight.”

“Mm,” Lung grunted.  “This is true.  But I’ve seen what happens if you do something like this, something big, and you fall.  You fall hard.”

I nodded at that.  “Wise words, Lung.  Well said.”

“Do not talk to me,” he rumbled.

I only shook my head.

“Fuck me, you guys are serious?”  Shadow Stalker murmured.  “This is good?  This is luck.  There’s a reason I stick to my fists and my crossbow.  They’re reliable.  This Endbringer thing most definitely isn’t.”

“Of course it isn’t,” I said.  “But you know that whole saying, finding a boyfriend?  Young, smart, wealthy, pick two?  We don’t get to pick two, here.  Options at the end of the world: clean, safe, effective, pick one.”

“We got Bohu, but she doesn’t move fast at all,” Tattletale said.  “Leviathan’s on his way to pay the Elite a visit.  Collateral damage could be ugly there.”

“It isn’t sustainable,” I said.  “Somehow, I don’t think they’re going to sit still if we ask them to.  What happens if we run out of enemies to attack?  If we need to put Leviathan to work and there aren’t any targets that don’t involve even more collateral damage than we’ll see when he attacks the Elite?”

“People are going to fall in line damn fast,” Tattletale said.

“Probably,” I said.  “Or they’ll run for the hills.”

“Win-win,” Tattletale said.  “We were saying we needed people to split up more.”

The Simurgh opened fire, striking out with three guns, striking a neighborhood that had already been reduced to dust and flame by a series of bomb blasts.

“Somehow,” Imp commented, “This doesn’t scream win-win to me.”

I nodded.

“Nothing saying this isn’t another clever plan, set up to fuck with us, destroy our last shreds of hope,” I said.

The Yàngbǎn were opening fire.  Projectiles that moved slowly, splitting in the air until there was a virtual storm of them.  Had they been aimed at the Dragonfly, we wouldn’t have been able to dodge.  The Simurgh flew between the bullets like they weren’t even a concern.  Debris blocked the shots.

In the midst of her maneuvering, she drew together a third gun from the storm of debris.

Then she somersaulted, heels over head as she rapidly shifted direction.

In the moment it took her to build acceleration, she looked directly at the camera.

Directly at me.

She’d heard me, she understood, and she had responded.

Last Chapter                                                                                               Next Chapter

281 thoughts on “Cockroaches 28.4

  1. Oof.

    Good news is I’ve got a new dog, maybe. Giving her a trial run at my place to see how she takes to my other dog and to me, over the weekend.

    Bad news is it was a little more than an hour out of my day and a fair bit of distraction following that, when I was already behind. So I had like 1800 words written at 8pm, when I usually try for 3,300ish by then (and am usually ramping up to a steadier pace). I wrapped up at about 7k words.

    That means, basically, I churned out a hell of a lot of writing in a relatively short period of time. Mistakes will exist. Hopefully it’ll be coherent. Even more hopefully, it’ll be enjoyable.

    Thanks for reading. Votes on Topwebfiction are appreciated.

  2. I realized about a quarter of the way into the chapter, and then realized I should have come to this conclusion long ago. Then I checked the end of the chapter to confirm my suspicions…

  3. Simurgh I Choose You! Leviathan used splash, its super effective! WOW, it actually worked. Go team eldritch abomination. So the Yangban get dealt with, the Elite get dealt with, Teacher possibly gets dealt with. Cauldron is probably shitting themselves right about now. So forgive my ignorance, so what the hell does this mean? Are the Endbringers tied to humanity’s survival and want them to always exist so they have a goal? So the Smurf protected them, what the hell did that mean?

    In addition it is now battle plan time. It’s been proven that Leviathan and the Smurf can’t stand up directly to Scion for any significant length of time. He can fly and his beams quiet Leviathan’s waves, though Leviathan’s cells might allow him to hurt him physically. The Smurf has been able to outdirect and trick him, so maybe she can play mission control for the rest. Bohu is too damn slow and big of a target. Tohu would be useful if she has powerful capes to copy. Still no sign of evil teletubby but he is ideal to fight Scion. He will run away and heal, and his area of hopefully wastes Scion’s number of lives.

    • They’ve also always fought Scion one-on-one.

      If all five of the Endbringers hit him at the same time, they could at least force him to burn through his supply of energy before he finishes killing all of them.

      • Well the Smurf was able to copy kid win’s designs since he was near. Maybe go grab the F/G driver and have it near so she can rebuild it. Yes I want to give her weapons capable of taking the moon out of orbit, what could go wrong? They might also make use of her prediction ability. Get a bunch of captive Yangban members and have her sing to them, and then they won’t be able to be predicted by Scion and might be useful to hurt him.

        • If they wanted to destroy everything they could without an issue, so giving the the F/G driver doesn’t make much of a difference.

          I mean imagine just the evil teletubby and leviathan at the same time.

        • I think you’re overestimating the degree of control they have over her with the Yangban thing.

          I agree that giving her the weapon would probably do more good than harm at this point. She’d probably only blow *one* maybe two earths up with it. Scion has his sights on ALL of them…

      • And Scion held back when he started fighting them, continued to hold back when he killed Behemoth, was STILL holding back in his end of the world(s) rampage and only started being serious against Glaistig and Super!Eidolon.

        The Endbringers all together will put a stronger fight than anybody else but in the long run they’ll also die. Our only hope us that Scion expends so much energy defeating them that he decides this rampage is counterproductive.

          • If Legend can escape a time circle without any side effects, I don’t think they’re a problem for Scion. He has already showed that time traps are child’s play for him.

            • The hope isn’t that he’d die in there, just that he’d waste his precious time.

              I thought Legend just turned into that weird thing he turns into when he’s moving extremely fast and was therefore unaffected by tons of time.

              • Yeah when he approaches relativistic speeds he becomes indestructible, stops aging and his mind hibernates.

                Remember, Scion has already escaped the unescapable power (Gray Boy’s time well, which even Foil’s beat-everything power couldn’t pierce) with absolute nonchalance and the text seems to imply the energy expense was negligible to the point of nonexistent. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s immune to Khonsu’s attacks (remember all the other Endbringers at least fought Scion a while, Khonsu simply teleported whenever he appeared.)

              • @AMR: No, actually, Foil killed Grey Boy, his own time well didn’t save him. Her shots sever Passenger links. And presumably, escaping Grey Boy time wells does take quite a bit of energy. Enough to actually slow him down while he’s doing so. Of course, the lasers probably take a /lot/ more…

              • Foil couldn’t go through Gray Boy’s active time loops. His loop on himself is automatic. What she does was more explained as piercing every possible instance of the thing hit at the exact same moment in every single universe. She doesn’t so much sever the links with the Passengers as kill any and all potential targets at once so that there is no universe where they survive/are not hit.

                When Scion escaped the Gray Boy’s thing he didn’t seem to be trying at all. He basically just decided he was bored with staying in the loop and left.

              • The first part isn’t how Foil’s power works at all. If it was, folks like Crawler and the Endbringers would be OHKO’d. She can pierce anything, but piercing Gray Boy isn’t what’s stopping a bullet from working. It’s Foil’s secondary power, the perfect timing, that let her triumph over Gray Boy.

                Scion kinda just broke the power. He can do that. Scion OP plz nerf.

        • This would depend a little bit on whether or not Uane got eidolons “shard”
          and whether or not she’s willing to help. I mean they drove him off together, no reason she couldn’t with both of their powers.

      • I’d have thought groudon for behemoth. You probably won’t get something that looks exactly like them, but maybe something with similar abilities?

        Kyogre for leviathan, I guess. Rayquaza is supposed to be the pokemon equivalent of the Ziz, but it looks nothing like the Simurgh and doesn’t act like her, either. I don’t think there is a pokemon equivalent of the Simmy.

      • I’ve already put thought into this, as part of a Pokemon/Worm fic idea I had months ago. Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza were based off of Behemoth, Leviathan, and Ziz (biblical) respectively.

        Groudon as Worm!Behemoth fits pretty much perfectly, seeing as he can use a variety of energy based attacks, fitting in with the dynakinetic very well.

        Leviathan provided a challenge for me, since Kyogre doesn’t fit our Levi nearly as well. So I ended up narrowing it down to (base: water manipulation, quick, amphibious): Suicune, Lugia, Kabutops, Feraligatr, and Garchomp.
        Some of them are stretches, but I ended up feeling best about Suicune, Garchomp, and Feraligatr, in that order.

        For Simurgh, Gardevoir and Cresselia were the first to stand out to me. Psychic, looks dainty and female (Gardevoir has the whole “most human” thing, while Cresselia captures the “angelic” appearance). Plus I went through the moves, and they can learn Psychic and Future Sight. Telekinesis as well, if I’m not mistaken.

        As you can tell, I put a lot of thought into this. I also have Gastly for Grue, Charmander family for Lung, Persian for Tattletale, Rapidash for Burnscar, Absol for Jack, Chatot for Shatterbird, Ninjask for Oni Lee, Ralts for Cherish. Those were the ones I was certain about. Lots more speculative ones. And Arceus as Scion, of course.

        (I feel the need to admit that Mewtwo/Eidolon, Scizor/Dialga/Alexandria, Dragonite/Legend were also contemplations.) *pushes up imaginary nerd glasses and returns to other things*

    • And now rereading it: Or maybe it did…
      Possible interpretations I see are either that the Simurgh is turning around to wreck the remaining characters, or that it was actually Taylor the Simurgh was listening to and not Tattletale, and the Simurgh is just a big mean bug.

      So it’s either REALLY good or REALLY bad. Dang cliffhangers.

      • Well the Smurf was able to copy kid win’s designs since he was near. Maybe go grab the F/G driver and have it near so she can rebuild it. Yes I want to give her weapons capable of taking the moon out of orbit, what could go wrong? They might also make use of her prediction ability. Get a bunch of captive Yangban members and have her sing to them, and then they won’t be able to be predicted by Scion and might be useful to hurt him.

      • I’m thinking Simurgh doesn’t appreciate being manipulated. SHE is the manipulator, so while willing enough to go along with the goal, she’s gonna get her licks in where she can.

        • Yeah, I think it is less “Simurgh prepares to kill Taylor and everyone else” and more a warning: “Keep telling me what I can and cannot do and you’re fucked”.

            • Hell, she doesn’t even need the scream to fuck with their heads in this situation. She can do it with pure mindgames. Damn for something that doesn’t speak any human langueges and has a mind that operates completly differently, the Smurf sure knows how to play people.

    • I recall a line from an earlier chapter, way back when. The Undersiders where discussing whether or not Regent would be able to take over an Endbringer, and Taylor or Tattletale makes a comment like “having a pet endbringer puts us in the ‘two dangerous to be allowed to live’ category”. Seems kind of appropriate, atm, in Scion was paying attention.

  4. Not a big TV tropes guy, but I do know about the one called “Godzilla Threshold.” This is not just the Godzilla threshold, they gathered up Godzilla, Ghidra, Rodan, Anguira, and King Ceasar because there’s way more shit than there is fan.

    • “Could we try Canary?” I suggested. “If she has any understanding of powers, or if Canary has any influence with things other than dogs…”

      “dogs” should be “humans”.

    • “I might have taken it for an almost hypnotic paralysis, a sign that something was deeply wrong, but Rachel turned and found a seat on the bench. opposite Shadow Stalker.”

      Random period after bench.

    • “Could we try Canary?” I suggested. “If she has any understanding of powers, or if Canary has any influence with things other than dogs…”

      I think “dogs” should read “humans”.

      The debris settled into a single shape, drawing together. Nothing welded, nothing screwed in together. Merely a crude device, held together by telekinesis

      Missing period.

    • *Did she have to do that?*

      That line is too terrifying to be correct. Maybe it’s supposed to be *Suddenly, the Simurgh stopped screaming forever.*?

    • “Mm,” Lung grunted. “This is true. But I’ve seen what happens if you do something like this, something big, and you fall. You fall hard.”– and you fall. You fall hard.”

    • >The Simurgh opened fire, striking out with three guns
      >In the midst of her maneuvering, she drew together a third gun from the storm of debris.
      –> something doesn’t add up here…

        • I thinks it works. There are also a few other examples.
          1. Coil wanted to turn Skitter from a hero to a ruthless, terrifying, and effective villain that gets shit done. She decides she doesn’t like how he does thing and he shoots him with her mentioning he turned her into a killer in a roundabout way.
          2. Cauldron seems to have a goal of creating powerful capes similar to the trinity of suck. They did that very well. They created Echidna, Shatterbird, and Siberian. Great job there Cauldron.

          Curious what would happen if they made a formula from the Undersider’s dna. What kind of powers/case 53 mutations would the test subjects get? Grue’s clone had a darkness teleportation, and Skitter’s clone controlled rats with her “offspring Aiden”, controlling birds for example of other uses of their passenger.

          • Cauldron doesn’t use DNA, remember? They use the dead entity’s shards. In this case, it would be the Dead entity’s admin (Taylor), negotiator (Tattletale), perception filter (Imp), ally empowerment (Rachel), and whatever Glaistig Uaine would call Grue’s passenger.

            Depending on the amount of Balance the contract stipulated (i.e. how many restrictions the shard had on it) “Taylor” could be anything from an immobile psychic director to having Aidan’s power, “Lisa” could be anything from Social-Contessa to picking up single-word descriptions of their motivations, separated by massive migraines, “Aisha” could be anything from a Case-53 The Invisible Man to needing to turn on the power rather than turn it off as the real Imp described last chapter, “Rachel” could run the gamut from bulking up anything in range to causing a single allied creature to instantly achieve its peak strength, and “Brian” could range from, well, Eidolon, or the Yangban power-stealer, to having to draw and discard powers from those around him.

            TL;DR, it’s not that simple.

  5. There’s a subreddit for Worm at It’s not active but that can be changed. Wildbow’s there apparently.

    About donations: could you get more options in addition to PayPal? There’s a bunch of ways to monetize stuff. is one, I haven’t used it but it’s a neat idea and it’s well-established. There’s a couple of others that aren’t used as much. I’m not sure if Amazon Payments or Google Checkout can be used without an actual product but those would be excellent options.

    • Maybe members of the community could contribute T-Shirt and other designs for a cafepress sort of thing? That’d double as spreading word of the work, which it deserves.

      I really truly believe that Worm is one of the greatest pieces of literature of our time. Wildbow is our Tolkien.

  6. Just remember: the longer all of this takes, the more time for the relay bugs to spread out and extend Taylor’s area of influence over the entire planet.

    And if her power can work across realities, across all Earths she can reach.

  7. Does anyone know what Tattletale was 65% sure about when the chapter started?

    My guess is Eidolon being the Endbringermaker, but I don’t think that was mentioned in a previous chapter so I’m reluctant to go with that interpretation.

  8. What was it Taylor was saying just before the Echidna fight? Something about having a pet Endbringer putting you in the “Too scary to live” region?
    So where does that put her now that they have 3 of the fuckers, (Double finger quotes and lots of crossed body parts), “On their side”?

    I’m also loving the needling that Shadow is getting. She deserves every shot sent her way.

  9. Oh yeeeah. If this sticks, there ain’t gonna be no one stupid enough to fuck with the team. I mean, what do you do when you go to fight a bunch of starving refugees and they drop a fucking god on you? Ball up and cry?

    If this doesn’t stick. Well… atleast maybe they can Shanghai the things onto some uninhabited earth. Give them a few million years to chill the fuck out.

    I’m going to guess that Eidolon didn’t directly create the Endbringers, but he got the part of the third entity used to link itself to the world and create shards and passengers, so he’s a living conduit of space worm mojo, and his psychological need for an opponent created passengers designed to give him opponents.

      • Cauldron is presumably (this is,after all, only well founded speculation) siphoning the second entity, Scion’s dead mate, not the third.

        I still think that Cauldron (as in Doctor, Number man, Alexandria)has nothing to do with the Endbringers. Contessa, on the other hand…

        • Not buying the whole “Eidolon creating Endbringers” scenario. Though I do think the part about them fighting and playing off of one another almost to the point of bring dependent on each other is right. I think the entities would love the challenge Eidolon provided and the chance to grow and learn–and vice versa.

          • You see, I wasn’t in the Eidolon the Endmaker bandwagon either, and, indeed, when Tattletale said that the more she “talked” with Simurgh the less certain she become of the theory, I actually had some hope, nut at this point I think it would be needlessly convoluted if the theory wasn’t true.

            I still think the Third Entity has something to do with all this, dammit!

            • Huh – actually that makes me think of another possible theory: Eidolon didn’t literally create the Endbringers, he summoned them. Meaning his passenger sent out a silent call of “Big Bad Ass To Fight Here, Come and Get Some Of This!!” and the Endbringers were drawn to it like flies to honey.

              So less a father-child relationship and more a ball of string-cat relationship. And Scion’s the one who took their ball of string away.

              • I guess remains that the creator was a human, and therefore probably Eidolon. Remember that:

                The outer shell, the concept, the execution, they’re tapping into religious metaphors. The devil, the serpent, the angel, buddha, mother earth, the maiden, each connected in turn to fundamental forces. Flame, water, fate, time, earth, the self. Things deep-seated and fundamental to their creator’s belief system, because that’s how the passengers interpret our world. Through us.

                The imagery is a good fit for the iconography that Eidolon would have grown up with.

              • A possible piece of evidence in disfavor: Religious metaphor + fundamental force is nigh-identical to how Scion chose his body. I don’t remember the exact wording right now, but Scion chose to look like a statue of Jesus (religious metaphor) made of gold (a “force” that people “worship”, to perhaps abuse scarequotes). That suggests that either an entity made the Endbringers in response to Eidolon, or Eidolon got the shard that would have allowed the dead entity to make its own avatar.

              • Not necessarily Jesus, but he based his appearance on various religious figures and did his best to keep race from being involved in it. He was trying to appeal to everyone.

                A whole lot of surface, not much substance. A great hero if you only care about what an individual appears to be and not their inner feelings and motivations. Similar to some other heroes I’ve criticized. Like that old argument, “He may be an asshole, but at least he’s doing good and saving people! Taylor’s breaking the law and hurting people despite her good motivations!”

                He’s like the ultimate personification of that. Scion may be an evil dick who will inevitably snap because he’s part of a race that harvests planets full of life…but he’s still saving people’s lives! Just like how Shadow Stalker was a horrible murderer abusing her position, but at least she was also stopping crimes in the process. And Tagg was doing his part, even if it meant wanting to execute people without trials.

                Ah well, thanks to Scion’s efforts, crime may be completely eradicated in no time flat.

    • “We have you now Weaver!”
      “You can’t get away! You’re toast!”
      “Yes! I could take up cordless bungee jumping myself!”
      “Don’t mind us Weaver! We’re just going to find a nice, quiet corner someplace and off ourselves in the most painful and ironic manner possible!”

      • And with the Smurf constantly singing when they’re near, they’d kindly take care of all the other problems that might hassle Taylor.

  10. Typo:

    “Could we try Canary?” I suggested. “If she has any understanding of powers, or if Canary has any influence with things other than dogs…”

  11. When it turned out that Sumurgh and Leviathan were following the ships, I started cheering and jumping like crazy (well, not really, it’s 6 AM I don’t want to wake up anyone), then I read further and I realised it’s not really a nice thing. I mean, Simurgh seems to be targeting civilians just because (and Taylor may have just pissed her off), but Leviathan’s modus operandi is large scale natural disasters, I hope nobody is near when he attacks the Elite. Also surprised that Lung is apparently willing to let the Simurgh kill the Yangban, I’d thought he wanted a more personal approach in the matter. Oh well, this is just one out of five sub-divisions, lots of other brainwashed collectivised capes to kill, I’m sure.

    Sooooo, this is basically the confirmation that Eidolon created the Endbringers. I could say something like Lisa becoming less sure about the theory as she talked with the Simurgh, but I said that that when the text supported the theory, I would accept it, so I won’t. However, Lisa believes Eidolon simply appropriated some existing shards so the Endbringers’ shards could belong to the third entity. It would all fit!

    Nothing else to say, nice chapter again wildbow (I feel I don’t say it enough), except to welcome back Miss Militia. We were a bit worried about you, Hannah!

    • However, Lisa believes Eidolon simply appropriated some existing shards so the Endbringers’ shards could belong to the third entity. It would all fit!

      I missed that bit, where is it?

      • You know, I must have imagined it. The closest is this bit but I don’t think it means what I said above:

        “Eidolon’s some kind of exception, on a lot of levels. His power works by different vectors, the innate limits aren’t there… something broke, and I’m betting the Endbringers are tied to it. Like, this entity is fissioning off into countless fragments that impregnate hosts and somehow a little extra gets tacked on.”

  12. Our prediction were correct guys:

    -Eidolon subconsciously created the Endbringers

    -They needed someone to give them new purposes.And that someone turned out to be Taylor(and she planning to sic em on Scion, after they plough through these guys first).

      • What happens if the Endbringers are able to, themselves, merge with a host?

        What happens if, say, the Smurf is able to both unite with Taylor’s form, and the Passenger in her mind, to make a new entity altogether?

        After all, Dinah did see her in the end times, in an entirely different form…what if this union is that?

  13. Hot damn. Question though, is the screaming now not-ruining them because Simurgh’s on their side?Or are all the current good guys going to go homicidal at some point in the future and just not worrying about it now because that assumes there’s a future?

    • I don’t think the screaming corrupts you all the time no backsies, just that she chooses specifically who to corrupt, and she programs scores of people to become terrorists in order to spread fear and paranoia.

      Since the Endbringer’s party went off the rails I don’t think she’ll have an actual plan that she needs to corrupt someone for.

  14. ignoring the endbring double-triple crossing or lack thereof (since everybody else is handling it quite nicely)
    >>“Tattletale’s being cautious. Must be the end of the world after all.”
    best line evar.

  15. Woahhh, guys. By “she heard me and responded” I think Taylor is talking about when she told the Simurgh to not injure civilians.

  16. “Somehow,” Imp commented, “This doesn’t scream win-win to me.”

    It is a win-win … for the Endbringers. No matter what else motivates them, the like to fight. So they get directed to the pockets of parahumans who are most likely to fight. If they get bored they can just turn on their temporary allies.

    So, Taylor is the Endbringer whisperer?

    Th- this is Tattletale speaking …

    So all it takes is one little Endbringer to get TT to stumble.

    Imp’s power is always on. So it protects her while she is asleep, and if anyone is lucky/good enough to knock her unconscious then they can no longer pay attention to her. Extremely useful.

    Taylor is going to have to invent a whole new vocabulary to explain the feeling you get when an Endbringer listens and reacts to you – the sum total of curses in all of Earth’s languages is probably not enough.

    • **Taylor is going to have to invent a whole new vocabulary to explain the feeling you get when an Endbringer listens and reacts to you – the sum total of curses in all of Earth’s languages is probably not enough.**

      Puckerfactor +60!

    • “Imp’s power is always on. So it protects her while she is asleep, and if anyone is lucky/good enough to knock her unconscious then they can no longer pay attention to her. Extremely useful.”

      Ehhh…. hrm. Imp having been caught, knocked unconscious, and remaining visibly so was one of the wham-moments of the original S9 arc. The Undersiders get caught trying to rescue Grue, and it looks like Imp will have to save them, and then there’s Imp, already caught from previous misadventures. I guess she could have been disabled by Bonesaw, or it’s not quite as always-active as it seems.

      • It’s probably controlled by the shard, if it feels threatened, she becomes even less noticeable. The Undersiders tend to be able to notice her more because they are used to her presence, and her shard certainly would feel safe around them.

      • Caught by Bonesaw … who can mess with powers. That’s how Bonesaw tried to subdue Skitter, and it only failed because Skitter had the unusual ability to use her power even when supposedly disconnected from it.

        • She (Bonesaw) can suture the connection that the passenger makes to the human brain (the new gland that grows during the trigger event whose name escapes me), cause it to interface differently to the passenger. Skitter’s passenger by that point was mature enough to work on its own when Skitter was down.

  17. Maaaan, I wish we could see the reaction of Dr. Mother and Contessa when Taylor and company suddenly start sending the endbringers against various threats. Why don’t you show the path to victory in that, Contessa?

    Great chapter as always! My reading standards for “super humans” is getting ridicuslously high.

  18. I would love to just read the internal monologue of the Yangban right now. “Haha! Another dimension conquered for the C.U.I.! Oh look, they’ve got reinforcements coming through the portal. No worries, it’s boobytrapped and we can easily wipe out any surviv- Wait, is that?…. OH YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.”

        • Meanwhile at the headquarters of the Elite…
          Elite Boss: “Gentleman, I have good news and bad news. I’ll start with the good news. We’re kicking ass and taking names. Also, Eidolon is dead, meaning we won’t have to deal with him interfering.”
          Elite Mook: “That’s fantastic news! With Eidolon out of the way, who can stop us now?”
          Elite Boss: “The bad news is that Weaver is once again at large and on a major recruiting drive, picking up some big names.”
          Elite Mook: “Pssh. Eidolon is dead. Who is she going to recruit that could be any sort of threat?”
          Elite Boss: “Among her recruits are the Simurgh, Bohu, and Leviathan. In completely unrelated news, the weather radar is picking up some rather nasty storms incoming with some choppy seas. Damn weathermen always get it wrong.”
          Elite Mook: *faints*

        • Teacher is probably desperatly trying to get Dragon back the way she was, and seeing if he can’t come up with a convincing excuse.

      • Simmy doesn’t seem like ward material if ask me. Shee seems better suited to being the newest member of the Undersiders.

        +After Scion has been defeated and we get a happy ending+
        Imp: “Um… why are is the Simurgh still following us?”
        Gru: “I don’t think it’s just the Simurgh…”

    • You know you have shitty luck when the random planet out of hundres you’ve taking over is attacked within a minute by Simurgh.

  19. I wonder if this is what Tattletale’s passenger’s function is, negotiating with unruly shards to get them to fall in line.

    She was projecting herself onto the Simurgh pretty hard at the end of the rant though. Head games and taking credit for brilliant insights? Yeeaaah, totally not obvious who else that could apply to.

      • Didn’t Glaistig Uaine call her the Negotiator? What you’re discussing would seem more like Jack’s shard (the broadcast shard), but we know that Scion’s shards display a certain degree of redundancy, and it’s always possible Tattletale has a natural shard from the counterpart (but unlikely, considering the broadcast shard was one of the last Scion let go).

    • They got the Endbringers on board to stop the worst of the looters and vandals, then Scion. For the moment. Until the inevitable betrayal.

      • So, the Endbringers have always fought the heros, or Scion. But they’ve never all really been out more than one at a time before, except for the twins. I kind of think that an Endbringer vs. Endbringer smackdown could be interesting. Killer Landscape vs. Techno-kinesis vs. Time-warp seems like a fun way to go.

  20. Let all who said “Pfft, TT couldn’t lead the S9” take note of this chapter and suck it. Tattletale: Untitled S-Class.

      • Honestly, I can’t see her leading the S9. Sooner or later her ego would get away fom her and she’d mouth off to the wrong one at the wrong time. Little slips like that one with Lung (or the one with Jack that got her cut up) would be her downfall.

    • Tattletale can’t lead the Slaughterhouse Nine.

      There aren’t Nine to lead. I don’t think any of them are in a condition to kill anyone, except Riley who won’t.

  21. Okay, I kind of doubt Wildbow will answer, but what happened in this war with china? Was it limited? Did the Yangban break off from the government? Taylor knows how they operate now so their methods went public, they still have a large amount of members, and they are dead set on bombing/destroying the west. So does that mean they lost?

    • Since the US and the UK world continued living as they lived before they war, I think it’s safe to say the CUI didn’t win. What makes you think the Yangban separated from the CUI? They seem to be what they have always been: the parahuman fist of China.

      Oh and I don’t think what the Yangban do is actually a secret. Chevalier was leery to give them new parahumans to boost themselves, stressed it was only temporary and told them that if they disappeared there will be repercussion. Heck, I believe the Yangban captain was actually trying to sell their lifestyle!

  22. You know what I find interesting? The Simurgh waited until after Taylor said something before reacting to it. This implies that her future seeing ability isn’t a ‘slway on’ sort of deal.

    That, or she’s just putting the effect after the cause for the sake of the poor future-blind humans.

      • Or her entire existence, mass murders, Echidna, Mannequin, and *everything* included, is all just a set up to make the punch line as, well, punchy as possible in the final moments when Scion is at last confronted with:

        “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

        She’s never had any other goals, no matter how it might seem.

  23. So…

    1. Cauldron picked a person to give Eidolon Shard to. A person obsessed with gaining a legacy. This also broke some limitations on the Shard.
    2. Cauldron picked Alexandria & Legend and placed them in positions, where they would deny Eidolon any chance of Legacy.
    3. Eidolon created Endbringers.

    a. Coincidence?
    b. Intended sequence of events so there’ll exist Endbringers to fight Scion?

    If it’s the second did they know it or were they just following a path to victory.

    • Eidolon was outside the Victory Road himself, as were the Endbringers. I don’t think Cauldron knew, especially when they let the Endbringers push them into following the prediction even more closely.

    • Also if Eidolon had made the leap of faith earlier on, they’d probably have been MUCH better at fighting Scion. His insecurity and need for confirmation screwed it all up.

    • I don’t think Cauldron knew (or could know) that the Endbringers might turn on Scion. That said, if they had known they might have done it anyway.

      When you are working to stop the extinction of humanity in every possible universe, the loss of every single person on Earths Aleph, Bet, and a dozen others would be an acceptable sacrifice. The millions killed by the Endbringers barely even register against the lives they save if they kill Scion, and if they don’t… well those people were dead anyway.

  24. I like how Lung still isnt scared…or even worried. Taylors got a pet endbringer and after getting a compliment he’s all “Do not talk to me.” Ballsy motherfucker.

  25. I just have to say the character development in this novel is superb. There are alot of cases, but my favorite is probably Rachel. I never would have seen her coming this far. She starts off as a half wild violent cape who needs to be put in the wild and now shes….so much more….

  26. New poster here, with a quick question- are the Endbringers who aren’t Behemoth subject to the Manton effect? Because there’s a line regarding Smurfette up there lifting the Yangban by their costumes and not just “lifting them”, and Leviathan doesn’t just rip all the blood out of your body.

    If they are, why? They’re not people, and they’re certainly not capable of harming themselves wit their powers.

    • Breaking the Manton effect is still a very big deal, even for them. Maybe it’s actually hard to do without a partner they can act like a parasite too.The evil Teletubby can use his power on himself, and Behemoth could fry you, but that’s it. The Smurf can’t crush your brain, but she doesn’t really need to based on how she attacks. Leviathan can’t control the water in your body, but that might because he is a macro water user and sacrificed some control for power. We still don’t know about the twins, but Tohu could copy a cape that ignores the limit.

    • The Manton effect seems to be a byproduct of the safeguards that the Worms put in to protect the hosts. From

      All signs point to the shards murdering their hosts.

      The hosts must be protected, or this will be disastrous, counter-intuitive. The entity adjusts the innate safeguards, protections to reflect the host species and their tolerances. The bonding process will protect the host, where the host needs protection. Shards that are capable of providing flame at will cannot burn the hosts, now. Shards are reorganized, combined and clustered where necessary, to grant sufficient protection.


      Better, but not perfect. The entity refines the process, limits certain abilities, so they will not eradicate too many at a time.

      Soft. The broadcast is sent out to the counterpart, along with suggestions and tips on how to refine the shards.

      Agreement, the counterpart accepts.

      So, both Scion and its counterpart put in safeties not only to stop the shards from killing their hosts, but also to stop the shards from eradicating too many at a time. This is the best candidate explanation for the Manton effect. Therefore, my guess is that the Endbringers were assembled from shards with those built-in limitations.

  27. I’m wondering if we’re about to see Simurgh communicate in some way nonverbally, but clearly.

    “Taylor Hebert. Shut Up.”

    And then she will turn around and continue what she was doing.

    Just to fuck with the heroes. Because old habits, you know.

  28. Didn’t Taylor once say that having a pet Endbringer made them too scary for the others to let live? This may backfire and make their enemies join forces…

    also noticed this
    Tattletale paused. Waiting, watching.

    No reaction from Tattletale.

    shouldn’t the second Tattletale be Simurgh instead?

    • One pet-Endbringer makes you too scary to live. Five pet Endbringers make you unstoppable.

      Besides I think all the interested parties clearly understand this isn’t a “Taylor got a pet-Endbringer” situation, but rather one of those common enemy alliances that fall apart the moment said common enemy is out of the way.

    • I made almost the exact same comment in an earlier section, before I scrolled down far enough to read this.

      I think that the level of control is delicate enough to be like another phrase (leading a bull on a silk-string, maybe?). The biggest issue is that unlike Jack and Siberian, the Endbringers aren’t likely to hang around and protect you. They’ll get bored and wander off, at which point anyone and everyone will attempt a no-holds barred curbstomp on whoever managed to gain some influence over the Endbringers in the first place.

  29. A few things…
    It looks like the original BB Wards are down to just three members. Kid Win, Vista, and Shadow Stalker. Lets see how long that lasts.

    Wait Chevalier ordered them to keep an eye on the spot Leviathan showed up? So does that mean we can confirm his survivial?

    And finally, Taylor gets reminded of a shampoo commercial they the Smurf’s hair. I wonder what kind of conditioner she uses?

  30. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened in anything.

    They’re going to use the endbringers to kill SION.


    • Because the Endbringers might turn on them.

      Or Scion might wipe the floor with them and decide to skip to the planet-blowing-up part.

      • They’ve sort of hired the wolves to deal with the bear. They are hoping the Endbringers will actually fight Scion, and not turn around and kill them all. Not to mention Taylor and Co are spending time around the Smurf, and that is not good for mental health.

        • Look, I firmly believe there’s a fixed amount of awesome you can have in a situation before you should stop worrying about things like “risk of death” and “world destruction” and that line is so far behind us you couldn’t shoot it with a sniper rifle.

          • Well here the downside is that they are basicly hoping the Endbringers will keep working with them, will either not turn on themthe moment Scion is dead, or that if they do they can deal with it, and that they haven’t been too affected by the Smurf.

    • You browsed along the net abyss, never thought you’d meet a story like this, meet a story like this.

      With characters you love or hate,
      some are jailbait, but it changed your fate
      changed your fate.

      And Araaaaaan. Aranfan far away. I Aranfan, Aran all night and day. (S)he couldn’t look away.

      Welcome, Aranfan, to the comments section.

  31. Free-wheeling idea time here. Most shards are optimized to have a particular power, or a related set of powers. However, in general those powers are not backed by authority over other shards. This makes sense because the Worms are a highly competitive race, who only cooperated when it was clear that the alternative was species death. Even Jack, who had the communications shard, didn’t seem to be able to directly order other shards – instead he leveraged his ability to communicate with them and thereby predict and anticipate their actions. Jack was described by Scion as moving with the movement of other shards, not controlling other shards.

    Eidolon’s power is one of the few that seem to grant him direct control over other shards. He drew on shards unconnected to humans for his various powers (assumption – there were no known exact duplicates of his powers), he learned at the last to draw on connected shards (even to their clear detriment and the detriment of their attached humans), and he probably directed unconnected shards to assemble as the Endbringers. That is the real difference between his powers and the powers of other parahumans – his authority over shards. Hence, High Priest.

    Guess what other shard has to have some authority over shards in general? Queen Administrator. Think about the discussion of where the Undersiders would have been without Taylor – she pushed them into different, active roles. Think about the influence she has had on multiple other parahumans, many of whom had more raw power and/or organizational authority than her. Perhaps she wasn’t pushing the humans so much as she was pushing the shards the humans connected to. Without the communicator shard, she couldn’t contact the other shards directly, so she had to contact the other shards through the humans they were attached to, but perhaps the other shards recognized the authority of her position. Defiant listens to her; Dragon listened to her; the Thanda listened to her; she was made field commander of both the Jack hunt and partially of the first coordinated Scion strike. So now, one of the only remaining shards with authority over other shards walks up to the Simurgh and says “join us”, and because the Endbringers are used to obeying a shard with authority over other shards, they do. Taylor’s ability to multitask is extraordinary, her ability to think under pressure is exemplary, her ability to come up with effective solutions on limited resources is amazing, but none of those fully explain her massive influence over other parahumans – having some degree of authority by virtue of her shard’s special status does.

    • A lot of that magic is just her though, to paraphrase Tattletale’s entry on the Fridge page. Remember how quickly Glenn became her ally during the Behemoth aftermath? How she was able to convince the kids at Arcadia High, back in Chrysalis? Simurgh could be reacting to the shard, it’s true, but I’m not certain you’re giving Taylor all the credit she needs here.

  32. Sidenote, if you looked at Taylor’s later career from the outside, it seems rather suspicious.

    First off, she’s there when the only Endbringer death happens. Not a big thing, but…

    She’s also there when Scion, the Paragon, decides to go batshit and destroy the world…

    And now she’s there when the Simurgh and the Endbringers (band name), have decided to side with humanity.. No, with the PRT instead of slaughtering humanity.

    Other suspicious things: First openly out villain to be accepted by the PRT, has an agenda of turning other capes to her side (whichever side that happens to be), has survived a lot of Endbringer and Scion shit up until now, was there when the first huge portal opened, etc. etc.

    If I were a tinfoil hatter in the Wormverse, I’d be scrounging through my kitchen cabinets for more hat material. I’d even settle for plastic wrap.

  33. It is interesting that Cauldron doesn’t duplicate some power sets as much as you might expect (e.g. Alexandria and Eidolon).

    This probably plays in with the implied reluctance the Endbringers seemed to have at points.

    But nicely done.

      • Agreed. When would Imp have had the time and opportunity to meet Teacher, anyway? I have known people who, for some reason, were embarrassed to admit they’d become well read and improved their vocabulary. Imp is probably like that.

        • In all honestly, I’d tend to agree. But lord knows she could sneak out to meet the Teach if she felt like it. Not to mention she’s got a history of letting other folks use dangerous powers on her in the past…

  34. Just a quick comment and a single question –

    I just caught up with the posting and I have to say it has been a heckuva wild ride, really very good.

    That said, during the first Leviathan fight, I remember Dragon’s armband saying that Narwhal had died. So was that just erroneous? Or a slip up in continuity? It might be nice to address it somehow if was on purpose.


    • Narwal went down, she wasn’t dead. Like what happened with Tattletale. You’ll notice her name isn’t on the memorial. She’s mentioned a few times after the Leviathan arc.

      Don’t worry though, lots of people were confused by this ( me included🙂 ) and it comes up a few times.

      Oh and welcome to the amazing world that’s Worm’s comment section.

    • There are many things in life worth riding and many things that aren’t. A rocket, good. An ostrich, not so much. A wave, debatable. A lover, great. A Ford Pinto, horrible. A horse, good. A fat horse, bad for your knees. The whip like a ghost, cool. Out of town on a rail, you know you fucked up.

      This? This is our own personal crazy train and we derail it all the time. The rules are simple. Talk about Worm club, maybe even beat a friend with it. No coveting of your neighbor’s ass. Unless he or she is single and swings that way, of course. Rule 34 is also frequently present. I consider it tied in to all the shipping. Some people are absolutely certain that Tattletale and Taylor are soulmates. I think that body mates wouldn’t be too bad either, but I am only infrequently a romantic.

      If you wish to go and not poke your fuzzy little head out the door of your compartment, that’s fine, but we have absolutely no problem with you having a fun time in the dining car with the rest of us, where we frequently chew the fat.

      All aboard, and welcome to the comments, organizedChaos.

  35. Thanks AMR,

    I guess when it said losses, it didn’t necessarily mean death. Because of the different wording, that’s what I thought was happening.

    And thanks for the welcome! It will be interested to see if they can hurt scion with all the endbringers together.

    • Basically “casualty” seems to have meant “We can no longer contact the Dragon bracelet they were wearing. This has to be presumed double-plus-ungood”. Taylor was thought dead during that battle too, because her bracelet was destroyed.

      After the chaos was over, they were presumably able to do a more detailed assessment of who had and hadn’t survived. Though I suspect more than one villain might’ve taken the opportunity to retire, presumed dead in the carnage…

  36. – the Yangban are fucking idiots. That and/or they’ve gotten a tad too intimate with their passengers, had a parahuman coup and turned into a self-perpetuating violence missile
    – their infiltration/assassination branch is badass though. The guys we saw last time were heavy combat of course. The other three branches are, I’m guessing … pure recon (Strangers), corps of engineers (tinkers and parahumans with anti-structure powers a la Faultline, Annex, Tecton, Tōng Líng Tǎ) and … investigation/tracking (Thinkers, trackers, torturers, maybe?)
    – I assume the crippling is to, what, force people to join their side; healing in exchange for servitude?
    – they have a danmaku power?! My life has new meaning!
    – wonder what the Simurgh and her Kaiju Krew are *really* up to
    – wonder what the other (stupid drowning-scorpion) factions will do now. Will they surrender or persist in stinging their frogs to death?
    – being Shadow Stalker is suffering
    – Simurghsault! So, what was that look at Taylor? “Yep, you got me.” OR “So like a human, to doubt the honor of others while lacking their own?”

  37. Hrm. Recruiting Endbringers. I am not sure if this is gonna go well…

    Actually, I’m at least 99% certain it won’t. Nothing has gone well for a while now.

    On another note: it appears that I’ve managed to sneak into the comments section without alarming the PsychoGecko. I’m not sure whether to be proud or not.

    • Even if I think I see someone new, I don’t tend to say anything unless they themselves point it out. There’s a chance I’m dealing with someone who isn’t new. I also don’t go back and check all the comments in previous sections. You get welcomed when you get caught up. Except for older commenters who were already here for some time. I didn’t always do these welcomes, you know.

      While I may have been busy with very important things these past few days, you chose one of the unlucky times to mention this.

      And now, for the infamous welcome:

      Hello there, enty. This here is Worm’s Land O Sunshine. It’s full of prancing ponies and dancing donkeys and all sorts of delightful thingies. Like Simurgh. She’s so sweet because she’s full of sugar! She’s so full of sugar, you’d think she got gang raped by a pack of Keebler Elves. And she leads to so much angst, you’d think maybe a few Lord of the Ring Elves also joined in. Hell, put a pair of fangs and a little glitter on a LoTR Elf and you get a Twilight vamp, which is probably why people think hanging out with Simurgh sucks. Honestly, how mentally stable would YOU be if you were the butt (and mouth) monkey for Keebler Elves, Tolkien Elves, and Twilight vamps?

      Let me tell you, it’s almost as hard to hold on to one’s sanity in that situation as it is to sit down for a week later. And then one of the Elves mentioned something about getting freaky with a giant eagle that prematurely ejaculated and recommending I get checked by a doctor, which doesn’t make sense at all because we know the eagles only come at the end.

      Now, you may be wondering what all this has to do with Worm, and that’s where we get to something else about Worm: obsessive people who will analyze the shit out of everything. See this penis? I am smoking it. The end has been chopped off and it has been lit on fire and set in my lips. Tired of the Freudian analysis? Too bad, because the only way you’re getting one over on the Worm comments is by literalness! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put out this circumcised monstrosity.

      In the meantime, why don’t you sit here and enjoy nice long discussions about hero/villain interpretations, shipping wars, fanfic, crackfic, crackheads, crab apples, and me saying a lot of things with the occasional one turning out to be funny.

      Welcome to the comments section, enty. Fate called me up, told me you were being a cock tease.

      • “I don’t tend to say anything unless they themselves point it out.”

        Oh, that’s why I was able to escape notice for so long! I wondered about that.

  38. I thought they were going to use the Endbringers against Scion?
    That was what they said in their recruitment pitch so given that Simurgh seems to be doing as instructed I’m guessing the actual words have nothing to do with her joining up.

  39. I know I am late to the party, but…I can’t hold this little WH40k-related quip in anymore:

    “By Gork an’ Mork, dey looted dem Endbringaz! Dat’s brootally kunnin’.”

    Looted Endbringers. *maniac laughter*

  40. Okay so we officially just had tea with an Eldritch Abomination. Damn.

    I bet Faultline would get a kick out of this. Talk indeed.

    There have been many Godzilla Thresholds crossed already but I think this one goes above and beyond. We need a new tvtrope here for something that surpasses even the Godzilla Threshold. Hell I want to call it Endbringer Threshold. The problem is I’m having a very hard time thinking of more stories/movies where things go so far past Godzilla that Endbringer is called for.

    I can only imagine the response people get when they see pet Endbringers following our guys around like puppies.
    “Oh it’s just Weaver and company. Meh we can take her – HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT THE HELL! THEY HAVE PET ENDBRINGERS!?! Run!! Bow down! We surrender, we surrender! Dear lord we’re sorry, we’re sorry!!!!”

  41. “We need to give her orders.”

    I think you’re underestimating her effectiveness, there. Remember the usual procedure for Endbringers? The truce? The way every single cape in a settlement dropped what they were doing and reported in, regardless of what they were doing or how useful they might be?
    You’re dragging that around on a leash.
    You don’t need to give it orders.
    You just have to show it off.

  42. Wondering how much of the ending is due to Simurgh influence. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there.

    mmm.. paranoia

  43. Hmm, I’m wondering about something now. If Eidolon made the endbringers, that would be pretty off the scale power level wise from what we’ve seen.

    It seems to me that would be like master 15-20.

    I didn’t get the impression his powers had degenerated that much, was he really grousing about only being able to have four 10 level powers at a time?

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