Speck 30.5

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Now for the clin- the clincher.  The ultimate strategy.

We ran.

My number one priority was to keep moving, keep active.  Things were easier so long as I was moving towards a goal.

I had to get myself sorted.  Wrap my head around the tools at my disposal.  For that, I needed time.  I needed to put distance between us and Scion.

Stepping up the tempo, have to distract Scion.

I reached out to Ash Beast, a living force of nature.  It had originally triggered in Matruh, Egypt, and had been roaming since, making its way across Africa.  All of the destructive power of any class S threat, tempered by the fact that it usually traveled on foot, and people could see it coming from miles away.  When it reached a settlement, that settlement was usually evacuated.

An unending explosion, a rolling mass of fire and smoke with a person at the center.  Here and there, it took physical form.  Whether it was the fire or a massive leonine claw that tore into the ground, it produced the debris, dust and ash that was its namesake, driven along the ground by the perpetual storm of fire.

Creating a portal to give me access to it was troublesome.  Others had tried to control it before, to steer it in the general direction of their enemies.  Warlords, villains, masterminds.  It rarely worked for long.  When working with power on this scale, chaos had a way of trumping order.  Too much energy disrupted the portals.

I moved a forcefield cape to the Ash Beast’s location, and then created a bubble, putting it in range of the being.  I made a portal within the bubble.  More forcefields encased the bubble on my side for safety’s sake.  My power operated through the forcefield, and the connection formed.

I identified a young man, at the center of it all, and I could now think of the Ash Beast as a ‘he’ instead of an ‘it’.  He was surprisingly healthy, but he had a power that kept him in good physical condition, a natural breaker-class adaptation that came with his power.  Energy to matter and matter to energy.

I’d use him first.  If he died, the world wasn’t worse off for it.  If he lived, well, I could discard him, leaving him in a foreign earth.

Bringing him through a doorway was hard.  He generated so much heat, and while his shape and form were malleable, they weren’t wholly under his control.

In the end, I made a portal, and I used Trickster to bring the Ash Beast through, replacing a chunk of ruined earth.

Shaping the fire, driving it out to the sides.

Shaping the flesh.  From energy to physical form.  Wings.   Catlike legs to spring into the air.

The Ash Beast lunged into the air, above the water, and he streaked towards Scion like a comet.  The forcefield cape followed, to maintain the connection.

I moved Alexandria, Legend, Moord Nag and the others on the frontline through doorways as the Ash Beast struck the golden man.  Golden light tore into flesh that had been forged of fire, and more flesh was created to replace it.  The Ash Beast tore into Scion, and the flesh was replaced just as quickly.

I created more doorways, moving people out of Gimel in an orderly fashion.  Here and there, I changed the portals around, dictating different exit points to break up groups.

Ranged attackers in one group.  Brutes broken up into several sub-groups.  Thinkers, tinkers, defensive capes… there were a lot to sort, a great many who had powers that needed a half-second to a few seconds to figure out, in terms of classification and application.  With scores of these capes, it added up.

Every cape had a place to be.  There were capes who needed something to harvest, who needed materials, and I gave them access to their materials.  There were capes who needed others nearby, and capes who were better if set apart.

I assigned precogs, thinkers and danger senses to the various groups.

Decentralize, I thought.  If Scion was the established force with superior weapons then I had to be the guerrilla army.  Different groups moved to remote locations, different worlds.  I couldn’t let him destroy too many of us in one good hit.

Take stock.  Who didn’t I have?  I didn’t have Contessa, who I couldn’t see.  I didn’t have the Blasphemies, who hadn’t even registered to me because they weren’t human, even if they had powers, I didn’t have Sleeper and…

Why was it so hard to reach for certain names?

The ones in the cabin…  I’d decided to leave them be.  I was having trouble remembering why, but I’d trust my older self on that score.

They were dangerously close to Scion.  If I moved them, maybe-

No.  I had to leave them alone.  Rules, regulations.  I’d set boundaries for myself once, I’d followed them, because I knew how easily I could slip.  Those boundaries had been to protect myself, as selfless as they might have seemed.  This was to protect others.

This was good, better.

Capes who could grant flight… Glaistig Uaine had some.  There was a girl in a red, black and white costume who could grant powers.


Right.  Othala.  She could give someone else flight.  Send the right people to Scion’s vicinity.  Trickster, some defensive capes.  One of the capes who had served under the Blue Woman in that cape-ruled alternate Earth.  He had a power not unlike Gavel’s.  Glaistig Uaine offered some offensive power as well, but it was tricky and time consuming to dig for the capes I could use.  She knew them personally, I had to find them.

They appeared behind Scion.  Glaistig Uaine distracted, with one ranged cape hitting Scion full-on in the face, another feeding fire into Ash Beast’s body.

The Gavel-alike dropped out of a portal directly above the golden man, driving a narrow pole into Scion’s neck.  Scion was slammed into the water, quite possibly to the bottom of the bay.

The forcefield cape caught the boy out of the air before he could follow Scion beneath the water.

I opened a portal, then moved the others aside.  Reorganizing, positioning.

Others… who was I leaving behind?

There was a group still in the settlement.  They hadn’t all moved through the portal.  I reached for their names.  Right.  Tattletale.  Rachel.  Imp.  Panacea.  I’d taken the others, collected the wounded.  The door was open, but they’d stayed behind, watching the horizon, exchanging words I didn’t understand.

Who else?  I’d left the civilians be. I could arm them, but I wasn’t sure it would be worth the effort.  Bullets could only do so much, and the bigger weapons…

Scion emerged from the water.  I didn’t give him a chance to retaliate.  Retaliation could mean putting the cabin in danger.  I hit him, then backed the capes through the portal.

He didn’t follow them through the portal, but he did sidestep through dimensions to reach them.  I started to mount a defense, and he lashed out.  I didn’t have time to react or give a command; I slammed the portals around the capes shut, and I opened another, larger portal, to take in the beam.

The beam hit the surface of the portal, and only a fraction passed through to strike Scion from behind.  Enough to kill someone, enough to kill me, if the beam had happened to touch any of my control portals, but even so, the portal itself took the brunt of the impact.

Doormaker staggered beside me.

The portal was wiped out.  Without any barrier in the way, the beam radiated forward to wipe Ash Beast, the cape with the pole, Trickster, and Othala from existence.

I was left with a decision to make, no time to make it.

Was I going to be moral, or efficient?

Two capes fell in my awareness.  Acidbath was one.  Another was a talented shapeshifter who was in bad shape beneath their moldable skin.

Shapeshifter, I made the call.

One expendable asset.  At my bidding, he strode forward through the portal.  The clairvoyant retrieved a tinker device and dropped it through a portal.  The shapeshifter caught it.

Scion pressed the attack, while Glaistig Uaine and her assigned bodyguard managed a fighting retreat to a portal I’d raised behind them.  Had to keep Scion in place, buy time.

I had only a seconds to act, or I’d lose the Faerie Queen.  I’d lost good capes already, so very easily.  Now I stood to lose more.

Have to-  have to make it worth it.

Thinking in words was getting harder.  Easier to default to thinking in terms of ideas.  I wasn’t going to throw away lives for nothing.  I wouldn’t ask others to make sacrifices I wouldn’t make, if the roles were reversed.

Maybe they’d disagree.  Maybe they’d tell me they didn’t want to make that choice.  But that was our instinctual self-preservation at work.  With things at this scale, that kind of thinking was counterintuitive.

Maybe they’d agree, if I had the time to explain.  To sit down with them in their living rooms and discuss the ins and outs of things over tea.

But I didn’t have the time to ask politely, and too many had already died.  Capes and civilians both.

I’d leave the civilians alone, but it was fitting if I drew on their strength as well.

Doormaker was capable of opening the doorways at the speed of thought.  I had multitasking abilities.  I could open them faster.  Not one after the other, a thirtieth of a second passing between each, but simultaneous.

I didn’t target people this time.  Portals opened across the sky in that foreign Earth that Scion and the Faerie Queen fought in.  As many portals as I could fit in that Earth’s sky.

Glaistig Uaine ducked back into the portal, and the shapeshifter I’d left on the ground hit the button.

The portals around Scion slammed shut, and he disappeared from my mind’s eye.

It left the shapeshifter locked in the same world as Scion.

An obstacle, a speed bump at best.  I was sacrificing lives for that purpose, putting capes in harms way, and leaving that one cape in an isolated world with Scion nearby.  I’d decided to spend a life that lacked strength over the life of a monster.

But that last gesture had bought me time to move the Faerie Queen of the Birdcage to safety.

It had also stopped Scion in his tracks for a few seconds.  If he was focusing on getting out of that universe, on altering his power to decrypt the portals and free himself to move, then he wouldn’t be paying too much attention to the portals I’d opened above him.

There were perhaps two hundred Earths in easy reach that had military technology worth talking about.

Two hundred earths with bombs.  Every bomb that hadn’t been in some secure housing, every bomb that was small enough to drop through the doorway, to plummet to the ground below Scion.

Some would be duds, no doubt, missing an integral component that would be put in place before a bombing run.  But a handful, I suspected, were bound to be nuclear bombs.

He hadn’t stepped through into any world I could see.  The bombs had struck home.

My body was shaking.  I wanted to sit down, but I couldn’t afford to.

I was hungry, I realized.  Worn out.

But I had to capitalize on our advantage here.  Had to focus on sorting out my army, so this wasn’t for nothing.

I broke up the Yàngbǎn.  Null/Zero could share powers and he could take them away.  But managing multiple groups was cutting into every group’s effectiveness.  Against Scion, I needed more effective powers than a blending of less effective ones.  I set Zero aside, assigning him a group.  Autopilot for now, for a later eventuality.

The tougher capes I had fell into two categories.  There were ones who could take the fight to Scion, like Alexandria or the late Ash Beast, and there were ones who couldn’t, like Lung, Menja and Chevalier.

There was a Vietnamese cape with a tinker ability who I hadn’t assigned to the tinker group.  He was like Lab Rat, but simpler in application.  Formulas to boost strength and size, turning regular people into hulking monsters.

I put him to work, dosing capes who weren’t reliant on armor or anything of the sort.  I left Chevalier alone, and left the Crawler-Breed hybrid be, but I dosed Lung and Menja.

I put Legend and the Number Man with the ranged capes.

Scion emerged, but he didn’t emerge into a world any of my forces occupied.

He- he lost the scent trail, I thought.

It didn’t take him long to find it again.  He went straight through into the world where I’d stationed Glaistig Uaine.

I opened portals.  Every single ranged cape and every single cape with a gun that was at my disposal opened fire into the portals.  The Number Man’s power coordinated their fire.

I sensed danger from my precogs.  I parted the group.

Scion moved, and he fired a beam, striking down the center of the part.

Not one of the attacks had hit him.  Though I’d been moving them to safety, the beam had taken out nearly thirty capes.

I counted Lady Photon among the dead, along with Revel.

As if Taylor Hebert were one of my puppets, distant, fractured and broken, I could sense the sick feeling in her gut.  Revel had been someone she’d- someone I cared aboutLady Photon had been a familiar face.

Let’s go get that-  Let’s go get him.

My voice, but not my own thoughts.

The Number Man had told me the attacks would hit.  That they hadn’t meant it was Scion’s precognitive ability at work.  The ability to win, to take the upper hand.

But there was a reason he couldn’t use it constantly.  It cost him something, drained his reserves.

By all appearances, he’d parried my thrust and struck home… but I’d taken a piece out of him.

The rationalizing felt thin at best.

Have to do bett-er.

Scion was screaming, still.  A roar, a kind of fury.

Tattletale had described him as human.  That meant human weaknesses.  Weaknesses he hadn’t learned to adapt to.  When he got angry, it was the fury of someone who’d never learned to hold back.

I put targets in front of him, and he took the bait.

A front line of the hardiest capes, decoys and projections to draw him in.  Then, while he was closer, I was free to move in the heavy hitters who weren’t upwardly mobile.

Lung, hulking out even before his power kicked in.  Menja, Chevalier.  A dozen capes I didn’t know.

Had to mix it up.  Raw physical strength, then a cape who was strong because of a telekinetic bubble that surrounded them.  More raw strength, then explosive power like Hoyden’s.

Move them in, then move them away.  Use their powers and other powers to give them the mobility.  I had two capes that could assign danger sense to protect things, alerting them when the subject was in danger, though the two powers were rather different in practice.  It was a way around the fact that I couldn’t predict Scion himself, and I made the most of it, switching their targets of choice second by second.

I could feel the fear of the people I was sending into the fray.  Hoyden’s fear was like the scared-little-girl fear I’d experienced while concussed, wracked with pain and helpless at Bakuda’s feet.

But she could hit Scion, and I needed people who could hit him.  I needed every iota of strength I could squeeze out of these capes.

I watched the world through Defiant’s eyes, and I saw the combat analysis program drawing wireframe models over the battlefield, trying to take in all of the details of the capes I was sending into the fight, predicting Scion’s most likely actions.

I watched with the Number Man.

I watched with precogs.

Scion wasn’t inherently predictable, he wasn’t capable of being read, but I needed some cue that would let me guess what he’d do next.

Telekinetics stood by portals.  The Blue Woman and Parian were among them.  When I saw opportunities, I used them to move capes further, faster, to get them out of the way.

Scion’s rage was reaching a crescendo.  The screaming was increasing in volume and intensity, the movements more aggressive, the attacks broader, less focused.  A fist flew past Chevalier, followed by a blast that might have wiped out a neighborhood, if the capes had been in a city.  He was grazing capes, failing to land a single heavy blow, and it was pissing him off.

It didn’t help that we were hurting him.  He could adapt, but he couldn’t adapt when the same attack wasn’t used twice in a row.  It put him on the defensive, keeping him on his toes, and every attempt he made to strike back failed to do more than clip people, injure and wound.

I knew it was coming.  Retaliation.  Even before the precogs gave me any forewarning, I was moving to react.  Portals opened wider, telekinesis pulling the attacking capes through if they couldn’t move fast enough.  Forcefields and other measures flew up to surround Scion, mitigating the damage.

He radiated light, and the light that escaped the barriers seared and melted the flesh of the offensive capes, as well as the telekinetics and defensive capes who happened to be standing in the wrong place.  Translucent and transparent forcefields didn’t even slow the light down.

I began shutting the doors.  Alexandria and various projections flew in to take Scion on.  Ursa Aurora, expendable duplicates… just needed a second.

So much pain.  I could tell how much damage that had been done even before I did any headcounts.  People were suffering, and so long as they were under my control, they were helpless to express the fear and agony they felt.

Instead, they were quietly stoic as their wounds wept fluids and burned with traces of the golden light.  I put the few healers I had to work.

They hadn’t even started when Scion used the real attack.  I could see him move through Alexandria’s eyes.  Through Pretender’s eyes, rather.  Arms flew out to the sides, and then he clapped.

I only managed to shut Alexandria’s portal a fraction of a second before his hands made contact.

One strike of palm against palm, and the shockwave swept past us as if in slow motion, moving past every portal in the area that was still open.  It passed through flesh, and it stilled.

It was the same effect he’d used to quiet Leviathan’s waves, the same effect that had frozen floodwaters in their tracks and the same ability that had given him so much presence.

Objects in motion stopped.  Portals winked out, warm things plummeted in temperature, cell and neural activity was interrupted.  Blood stopped in people’s veins.

Every cape that had been touched by this stillness dropped to the ground, lifeless.

I could feel the horror that was experienced by the bystanders.  I knew that, given the choice, most would be running.

But there was no reaction.  Each and every one of them was grim, resolute, taking care of their injuries, getting to people who could tend to them or helping others.

Rank and file, a dozen capes with electricity powers entered the area with the capes who’d succumbed to the stillness.

They’d stopped, and an object at rest remained at rest.  I just- I needed to get them moving again.

A jolt, the electricity controlled by the capes in question.


I pulled Bonesaw away from the tinker group.  I couldn’t devote the focus necessary to use her power in any detail.  I could have left her on autopilot, but I wasn’t sure that was much better.

I revoked my control over her, leaving in in the middle of the room with the capes Scion had stopped.

Then I turned my attention back to Scion.

I couldn’t dwell.  Couldn’t let him turn the tables and put me on the defensive.

He was tearing into Alexandria.  Literally.  But she doggedly held on, delivering one crushing blow for every pound of flesh Scion ripped from her midsection.  He was roaring as he did it, teeth bared, face contorted.

The nature of his attack, the stilling, it didn’t fit.  Not in tune with the anger.

It had been another use of his ‘automatic victory’ power.  Looking to the future, seeing how he could do the most damage, then following through.  A feint, followed by the critical blow.

The good news was that it meant I was getting the upper hand, forcing him to take a shortcut to get out of it.

The bad news was that I was almost positive I couldn’t win if things continued in this vein.  My precogs weren’t countering his precognition, and he was blocking all direct views of him, forcing me to emphasize indirect predictions where I focused on the damage he was doing and the people he was threatening to kill.

With each exchange, he was doing too much damage to our side.  If I had five times the capes, if we’d been working together like this from the beginning, then maybe.  But not like this.

Same strat- strat- same tactic as before, just to buy myself a little time to think.

My telekinetics, injured or otherwise, worked their magic through the portals I opened, this time focusing on the munitions that weren’t easily accessible.  I moved ICBMs through a spatial-warping ‘lens’ that let it fit through a doorway, unloaded crates of grenades and TNT with telekinesis, and I watched it rain.

The explosives were halfway to ground when I had Alexandria use another dimension switch to force the portals closed.

I needed to consolidate my strength.  I had capes gathering materials.  Moord Nag was among them, one of the scariest warlords of Africa, now traveling between dimensions to scavenge from the dead, her pet shadow devouring mountains of flesh from mass graves and battlefields, swelling in size.

Lung was shrinking, keying down after I’d pulled him away from Scion, but he still had the raw strength from the dose of distilled brawn I’d given him.

Coordinate, I thought.

I couldn’t be moving capes with telekinesis.  There had to be other assets.

Sifara.  A chief member of the Thanda.  I’d taken to thinking of him as ‘Orbit’.

But Orbit wasn’t quite it.

His power required him to have a strong reference for those he worked it on.  Eyesight alone didn’t work so well, because eyesight was faulty.  His preference, for a strong connection, was to touch individuals.  Failing that, he worked by eyesight alone.

I didn’t need to go that far.  I could see through a hundred pairs of eyes at this location alone.

A cape formed a ball out of stone.  Roughly the size of a tennis ball.

One by one, Sifara connected the capes around us to the ball.

Sifara’s power maintained spatial relationships.  He moved the ball, and every cape he’d connected to the ball moved a corresponding amount.  When he turned the ball, the connected capes rotated around the ball by equal degree.

We’d used it against Khonsu in our first fight, anchoring ourselves to him so he couldn’t teleport away without bringing us with him.

Now we were going to use it for the opposite intent.

Labyrinth and Scrub, the same pair that had made the portal in Earth Gimel, made more portals.  The dimension switches wouldn’t work forever, and I’d pretty much but there were options for future attacks.  There were more explosives, but nothing big.

I needed a focus, a weak point I could capitalize on.  To those ends, I needed to buy time to work and I needed to bait him into getting angry.

Between them, Labyrinth and Scrub began making paths to other worlds.  I watched as they paged through the available options.

Scion emerged from the other world, having broken down the barrier we’d set.  Fragments of Alexandria’s body tumbled to the ground, more like a statue than flesh.  He had to flex his hand and use his power to free it of the left side of her skull.

He’d suffered for a few of the big hits we’d delivered.  His flesh remained pristine, golden, but there were folds and scraps here and there where his damaged flesh had been stripped away and remained in place around the creases of his body after the replacement flesh had come in.

He came out swinging, obliterating two continents on two different worlds before he found us.

One rotation of Sifara’s ball, a row of doorways, and the capes were pulled backwards through the portals, which closed promptly after them.

The debris hadn’t even settled when I had Sifara move the ball again, erecting more portals to send my capes into the battlefield.  Brute force, capes who could tie him down, capes who could take a hit or two.  I kept Lung in the fight, holding him back for later, when he’d be exponentially stronger.

As strategies went, it would hold for at least a little while.  Scion’s patience seemed to be getting shorter and shorter, and I was on guard for the next retaliatory strike.

My heart was pounding, my mouth dry.  This was looking grim, each exchange hurting my side more than it hurt Scion.  Was there an out?  A chink in the armor?

I’d collected all of the tinkers in one place and I’d put them on autopilot, a vague, nebulous goal in mind.  To get them working together, I’d used Zero of the Yàngbǎn to tie them together as a group, splitting their powers.

A few hundred tinkers, each with a mix of tinker powers, all working on a singular project.

I could sense it, using the Clairvoyant and Doormaker both, using Labyrinth and Scrub.  The solid space between worlds.  A space that Scion had altered somehow, blocking off.

Facing off against that, I’d had them build something roughly the size of a house.  There was a gun build into the construction, but it was snub nosed, stocky and unimpressive.

I gave Defiant the honor of pulling the switch.

The machine whirred to life.

Through the Clairvoyant, through Labyrinth and Doormaker, I could sense the machine reaching through every available world.

The energy was focused on a single space, but it filled that same space in each of the worlds.  A pressure of sorts started to form.

It would take a minute.

I sent Moord Nag in with the other heavy hitters, relieving the force that Scion was fighting.

Sifara moved the ball, moving Moord Nag a distance forward.  Her pet shadow Scavenger loomed, as large as it had ever been.

And Moord Nag promptly had a stroke.  I watched as Scavenger dissipated into smoke.

Wha- what?  Why?

I reached out to Moord Nag, and I could feel the damage being done.  I moved her back just as I’d moved her forward, shifting more capes onto the battlefield to deliver some ranged fire.

Why?  I was stunned, and putting my thoughts together in regards to this was like trying to swim in molasses.

Had to act, instead of thinking.  Investigate.

I used my ability to read the physical states of the creatures I controlled, reading my swarm much as I’d check a spider’s level of hunger, its health, fertility or the amount of venom available.

Almost across my entire swarm, people were threatening to lose their minds.  Literally.

It was stress, a factor I hadn’t taken into account.  I controlled their bodies, but I didn’t control their minds.  They were bystanders, watching this all unfold, and even though I regulated their heartbeats, kept their breathing level, the mental stress accumulated.

There were exceptions in every category, but I could assess my gathered army with broad strokes of the brush.  The thinkers were coping best, the tinkers nearly as well.  The masters struggled the most, followed by the shakers and breakers.  The rest fell in some middle ground.  Moord Nag… my control over her had apparently tapped into some kind of trauma or phobia she had, so she’d been the first to reach some kind of fever pitch in terms of the buildup of stress-induced chemicals and reactions.

I was killing my own minions.

I moved quickly, scrambling to get measures in place before I lost any more.

An open portal and a telekinetic let me move Moord Nag to the only available, capable healer I had available.

I sent her to Panacea, still in the company of Tattletale and the Undersiders.  Panacea bent down to help her.

I brought Canary to me, and she began singing, a high, sweet song, almost like a lullaby, her voice carrying through the same portals that connected me to my underlings.

I was halfway to my next step, managing the tinkers, when Panacea reacted, backing away from the dying woman, shaking her head.

You still- you still don’t use your p-power on brains?  I thought.

She’d had a setback, creating me.  Now the old fear was back in full, at the most inconvenient time.

Tattletale was speaking.  Her voice was gentle, soft.

It was awfully nice to listen to.  Reassuring, even if I didn’t understand the words.

Then, breaking me from the spell, Scion moved his hands, readying for a clap, and I shifted everyone out of the way.

Scion flew instead, flying into one world, just as easily as a plane might fly leftforward or down.

I could track his movements with the clairvoyant.  As multidimensional as it was, I could trace a trajectory.

He’d used his ‘automatic victory’ power again, and he’d targeted me.

If he’d used it to find me, there was no escape.  If he’d used it to find and kill me, it was all over.

Was he that complex?  Did he think forward to that degree?

I ran anyways, turning my attention to the tinker’s machine.

The gibberish text on the screen had turned red.  Failure.  The combined strength of all of the tinkers who remained, Bonesaw excepted, and it had failed.  There was no way to get to the space Scion had sealed off, no way to his ‘well’, where he drew all of his resources from.

My heart sank.

That was my best guess, I thought.  The mental stutter wasn’t there, but the stutter only tended to hit me when I thought about nice things, about peace and familiar people and all the rest of that stuff.

The best means of attack was to go for the weak point.  To cut the jugular, to stab the heart, to go for the eyes, damn it.  Scion’s well was the closest thing to a weak point that I could imagine, but he’d secured it.

I’d told myself I’d know the strategy when I saw it.  Targeting the well hadn’t been that strategy, but it had been a piece of it.

I moved capes away, stepping through the portal Labyrinth had made, then having her change the channel, masking our ‘scent’, so to speak.  I moved Case fifty-threes into the area to mess with Scion’s ability to sense things.

He still pursued.  I couldn’t move fast enough, even as each limping step moved me to another universe.  Something about the way the portals opened, even if I closed them, it was like I was breaking ground for him to travel.

This- this is the trouble with being on top.

You’re all alo- alone when it counts.

I put capes in his way.  He swatted them aside, flew out of the way, and closed the distance.

I felt sick.  The shaking was as bad as it had ever been, and there was a coldness inside of me that made me wonder if I was in shock.  My thoughts were barely coherent.

I had Glaistig Uaine, I had her Eidolon shadow-puppet.  They worked as a pair to hit Scion with the heaviest attacks I could find at a moment’s notice.

For all it mattered, they might as well have been a kids on the schoolyard, sticking their legs out to trip someone.  Scion found his momentum again.

Panacea was healing Moord Nag.

I reached for the warlord, bringing her to me.

Scion struck her aside before Scavenger could swell to his full size.

Too little, too late.

If not brawn, then traps and tricks.  If he wanted to charge right at me… I’d do what I did against Echidna.

I stopped and turned around.



They stepped out of portals, one to my left, one to my right.

Cuff to shape a sheet of metal into a giant razor blade, Foil to rig it with her power, setting it in Scion’s way.

I gathered every precog I had, putting them within my sixteen foot radius. I gestalted them with Zero as they made their way through the doorways, forming a Yàngbǎn contingent of future-seers.

I wound up with a young teenager right in front of me.  Brown haired.

Dinah.  I turned her head to see her face, and she saw me in turn.  I could see myself in her eyes.

I’m sorry.

You’re different.

I felt a chill.

No time.  I opened a portal to send her away.  She wasn’t any use, and… and I couldn’t even articulate why I couldn’t keep her here, when I’d keep the hunchbacked Case fifty-three from Boston and the crazed villain I’d spirited away from Monaco.

I banished Foil as well, sending Cuff and Canary after her.  They’d keep Tattletale and the others company.  I disconnected them from my control network, giving them free will once again.

S-s-sen- Sentiment?  I’d told myself I’d be logical.

Was I succumbing to emotion and impulse, letting her go?  Or was I sticking to my rules, my promise that I wouldn’t leverage her?  Logical, emotional, something else altogether, it didn’t matter.  I wasn’t exactly balanced.

I felt very, very off balance, as a matter of fact.

It was the same as before.  The precogs weren’t strong in this circumstance, but if I could get one glimmer, put this thing in the right position, move it, do something to get in Scion’s way…

He appeared, flying straight for me.  The group would have to do without her song calming their emotions.  Hopefully nobody else would stroke out.

With the precog gestalt, I could somehow get a sense of how Scion was going to move.

It didn’t matter.  His hand glowed as he struck the flat side of the razor, and it dissolved into a ruin of glowing fragments.

I could see him in person for the first time since this fight had started.  My own vision wasn’t as clear as some of the other eyes I’d used to look at him, and I had trouble keeping my eyes fixed on a single spot.

My head turned, and I looked at the others.  Tattletale, Imp, Rachel, Panacea, Foil, Canary, Cuff…

I saw Imp’s lips move.  She was saying something.  It was probably very clever.  Something funny and witty and totally out of place.

Or maybe she was saying the same thing I’d said when I’d parted ways with the group as a whole.

Rachel was silent, but she sort of dropped to her knees behind a giant, monsterfied Bastard, who was lying on his side.  Her arms wrapped around his neck.

And Tattletale-

She put her hand to her mouth, then sort of made a sweeping gesture with her arm.

It dawned on me that I had no idea what the gesture meant.

Be-be-because you can’t le- let me have even that, I thought.

Scion stepped forward, hand still glowing, and he blocked off my view of the group.

The plan had been simple.  Thanks to Teacher’s underling, I’d been able to retain my memory of the trigger event.  Scion had censored the most pertinent details, but he’d left one vital weak point in the midst of it.

He’d analyzed us as a species.  He’d seen how we functioned, the strategies we could employ, and he’d set himself on a path.

But that path, I was almost certain, was predicated on the idea that we couldn’t work together, that we couldn’t bring our full strength to bear.  We were too chaotic a species.

He’d made one mistake I knew of, he had predicted a future where he would meet his partner and then pursued that future, only to meet the brain-dead version that was in Cauldron’s base.

I’d tried to help the same happen for the other future, running, using the dimension encryption, they were the best thing I could come up with in terms of putting Scion in a world where he saw himself as the only one standing.

He closed the distance, and I couldn’t get my thoughts in order to convince myself to leave, to figure out what resources to tap to get myself away.  Teleporters, but which one?

Scion put a regular hand around my throat, and the question became irrelevant.  It was surprising, just how small his hand was.  Larger than average, but… he was still the size of a person, for all his presence.

He hadn’t killed me outright.

H-he wan- wants me to show fear.

His grip tightened, leaving me unable to breathe.  I clutched the clairvoyant’s wrist.  When that wasn’t enough, I used the meager thread I’d managed to gather together to bind our hands together.

I wasn’t in the most lucid state to begin with.  Reality began to dim around the edges as oxygen deprivation got to me..


It hadn’t been enough, in the end.  It had been a three point plan.  Pushing us towards a point where we were all well and truly united against a cause, doing what I could to trick his future-sight into thinking he’d fulfilled his mission, and finally, targeting his weak point.

The weak point hadn’t been available to target.

I might have come up with better, but it had only crystallized after I’d lost the ability to communicate.  I operated best when I could alter my strategy on the fly, but that ship ran aground when I was steadily losing my mind.

Tattletale was saying something, Panacea responding, her hand on Bastard.

Tattletale snapped something in response.

As if in a dream, I could see Foil raise her arbalest.

I moved bugs, forming a barrier between us.

She hesitated, then lowered the arbalest.

I relaxed.  It woul- wouldn’t work a- anyways.  N- no use having them die with me.

But Scion had seen.  I saw his expression change.  Contempt, tight-lipped anger.  It looked wrong, his face so unused to showing emotion, his emotion as intense and unfiltered as it was.

He was aware of his surroundings in a way that wasn’t entirely human.  Still gripping my throat, he turned, raising his glowing hand in their direction.


I still had access to my network.

But I couldn’t think.



Close the portal.

The doorway slammed shut.

Scion took one step, bringing me with him as he advanced between worlds.  The movement made darkness sweep over my consciousness.  I very nearly lost my grip on the clairvoyant’s wrist.

He now stood opposite the Undersiders.

Foil started to raise her weapon, slowly.

Scion blasted it to smithereens.  Foil clutched one ruined hand, dropping to her knees.

I have tools.  I have… what tools?

Tattletale spoke, her voice low and casual, almost flippant.  She was talking to someone else, I was pretty sure.

Panacea responded, again.  A shake of the head.  She had tears in her eyes.

Moord Nag?  No.  I’d moved her to try and stop Scion.


Dinah watched from a corner, her arms around her knees in a position very similar to one of the first times I’d met her.

He pointed at Rachel.  His first target.

In that instant, it stopped being about stopping him.  I just needed to interrupt, to buy even two seconds.

For the third time, I tapped into every ranged cape I was controlling, and I opened portals around us to give them windows to shoot through.

Number Man to calculate, to aim the shot…  They fired, every cape that could shoot shot.

All with the objective of getting Scion to step out of the way, to do another sidestep with that future sight of his.  Even if it was followed by yet another devastating counterattack.  I just wanted him to miss.

It didn’t work out that way.

It struck home.  Every shot I’d lined up with the Number Man hit Scion.  Multiple directions, even some from above, they hit his flesh with enough force that I was thrown to one side.

Priorities.  Rachel-


The others were fine.

The clairvoyant… our fingers were only barely touching.  The thread I’d wound around our hands had snagged on my armor, caught on the skin of his thumb and nearly tore the skin off.

It hurt like a motherfucker, but he wasn’t in a state to complain.  Still in my control, still in contact with me.

For my part, I was coughing violently.  I was maybe at more risk of blacking out than I’d been with Scion’s hand around my throat.

I fixed my grip on the clairvoyant, then picked us up.  The ground was scarred where shots had grazed Scion and touched earth.  It formed a loose circle, with two spaces where the shots hadn’t touched.  One space for me, and another for the Undersiders.

Why had this barrage worked when the others didn’t?

Had to buy time, make space.  I opened doorways, siccing capes on Scion, driving him out of the building.

What was different?  I hadn’t added anything to the group.

I had taken something away.

I looked at Foil.

I took control of her, had her bend down to grip a rock.  I channeled it with her power.

A moment later, I brought Ballistic through.

He used his power on the rock.

I was already moving the group to safety when Scion evaded the incoming projectile.

His future sight power wasn’t like Contessa’s.  Narrower, lacking imagination, but he’d set up contingencies.  If X happened, then the power would automatically kick in.

Apparently the cost of being hit by Foil’s power was worse than whatever it cost him to use that power.

Not a magic bullet, but it was a good fucking thing to know.  Could I break it?  Abuse it?

We retreated to an empty city in Earth Bet.  The group kept a safe distance from me as we half-ran, half-jogged through.  A bubble of empty space surrounding me.  My portals flickered open and shut around me as I moved, keeping everything essential in my range.

He was beating the capes I was throwing at him, and I wasn’t entirely sure what I could do if and when he killed the last of them.  Bonesaw had finished reviving the people who’d been stopped, and was working on the wounded, but that wouldn’t give me much more in terms of a frontline.

Conversely, if I pulled them back, I was leaving Scion free to do as he wished, and his previous patterns suggested he’d revert back to his last priority target.  Me.

Need- need- need- need-

The thought stuttered over and over again, a refrain.  It was like trying to move a leg, only to find it cuffed to the other.  Except it was my brain.

Need- need-

I shook my head like I was a dog drying itself.  Think- think straight.

Tattletale asked Panacea something.  Panacea made a side-to-side movement with her head.

Imp made a wry comment.

The sense of distance that I felt was enough to rock me.

As before, it was in the quiet moments that I realized how much I’d lost during the action.  I’d been slipping, my vision getting narrower.  I should have been able to take it all in, but the worlds were blending in together.  The clairvoyant was like a drug, and I was building up a tolerance of sorts.  Colors bled together like watercolor, images started to merge, and I wasn’t able to focus on more than a handful of things at a time.  The only crutch I had was that I could see what my swarm saw.

But the Clairvoyant was only giving me the ability to function, at this rate.  I could turn my attention anywhere, still set down portals in different worlds, but it was getting slower and slower.  Barely a consolation.

I was losing it.  I was almost out of time.

The certainty I felt in that was enough to kick me into action.

I didn’t even look to my teammates as I stepped away, opening a door to step onto the upper end of the beach.  Water crashed around my feet.

I organized the tinkers.  Changing their job.  A weapon, instead.

I collected some of the capes that were harder to employ, and I began pairing them up.

Halo.  Sundancer.  A handful of masters with projection powers.  A cape with a giant mask.

All powers that made stuff.

A ring of razor-sharp gold that produced forcefields and lasers.  A miniature sun.  Soldiers of stone.  A golden mask.  I had each of them make the individual objects as big as they could get.

I retrieved Chevalier, and I did the same with his cannonblade, raising it to its maximum capacity.

Then I accessed Vista.  And I made it all bigger.

I pulled the capes out of the way as the various weapons entered the fray.  The sun was as broad across as a skyscraper was tall, the halo was only twice its usual size, firing a substantially sized laser.  Scion avoided both.

Chevalier’s weapon should have been too heavy to lift, but he didn’t seem to care.

He shot Scion, and Scion was consumed by the sun.

Everything counts, I thought.  If we couldn’t get to Scion’s well, then we had to hurt him on this end.

He wasn’t content to stay on the defensive.  He turned his attention to the group that was projecting the effects, to Vista, Sundancer, Ballistic, the masters I couldn’t name.

Which was the moment the Endbringers made their move.

The Simurgh plunged from the clouds, hitting Scion.

Leviathan, healed a touch, emerged from the water.

Bohu rose from the earth, going from a human sized head and shoulders at eye level to a tower.

Tohu, for her part, had Glaistig Uaine, Eidolon and Myrddin’s faces.

The Endbringers, come to the rescue.  I wished I could have felt relieved.  It was a reprieve, a chance to get our footing.  But there was an ominousness to it.

Like I’d told Doctor Mother, I’d…

I reached for the memory.

It- it’s humans who win this.  Not something abstract, not- not something we don’t understand.  We win this with our own strength.

Even if I had to make us.

I gathered my army, bringing them to the battlefield.  I spread them along the length of the beach, keeping them connected to the little round stone that Sifara held.

If Scion turned on us, he could pull us away to safety at a moment’s notice.

I’d lost people, I had more hanging back.  The tinkers were still finishing the gun.  But I had an army, and I wasn’t about to lose any more people if I could help it.

I began to organize another barrage, aiming with the Number Man, using Doormaker’s portals-

I didn’t fire.

Instead, I watched as Scion’s partner came to life.  There was only one growth at first, like a stem, a human-sized body, pure white.

The rest bloomed forth beneath it.  A garden of body parts, hands, stretches of flesh, a maze of parts, all interconnected, all flowing from the piece in the center.  All of it alive, this time.  The garden, as Golem had said.

Hands turned to gesture, and flames rose from fingertips.

A moment later, ice.  Experimenting, testing powers.

Then it spoke.  A soft voice that somehow seemed familiar.

Scion’s companion had been gray, this one was white.  This wasn’t it.

A third entity?

I stared, my blood running cold.

Scion tried to float down to it, fighting almost tooth and nail with the Endbringers to get to his new companion.  Even in the midst of the fighting, the mood was entirely different.  The rage had given way, gone.  I could sense shock, bewilderment…

He reached out, almost as if he were afraid to touch it.  To touch her.

Where had it come from?  I used the clairvoyant, tracing it back to the origin point-

I realized it at the same moment Scion did.  Our emotions at our simultaneous realizations couldn’t have been more different.

I had to wrack my brain, struggling to find the word in the muddle.


Scion howled.  Not a scream of rage this time.  Something else.

It wasn’t an epithet.  The third entity was Bastard, the wolf cub.  Grown large by the bizarre interaction of Lab Rat’s formula and then cosmetically altered by Panacea, given a handful of special effects.  No doubt coordinated by Tattletale.

Scion’s mad sorrow was so thick on the air I could almost taste it.

I used Sifara to pull everyone and everything in the area away before Scion could retaliate.  Scattering them to different worlds with portals.  I used case fifty-threes to break the so-called scent trail to Tattletale and the others.

Scion shattered the shelf of land that New Brockton Bay stood on, and I watched in horror as the cracks moved radiated towards the cabin.

I moved Ziggurat out of a portal, and I used her power.

Sl- sl-

I shook my head before I could get caught up in another mental loop of failed, stuttered words.

A fissure opened up.  The cracks stopped twenty feet short of the cabin.

Scion didn’t hold back, entering another world, dealing just as much damage, then moving to the next.  It became all I could do to keep my swarm out of his way.  Even with Sifara, even with the doors.

I couldn’t think straight, because I couldn’t really think.  Not coherently.

But I knew, on an instinctual level, that we’d homed in on the weak point.  We just needed to drive it home.  I reached out to seize everyone, opening full-size doorways so I could move them all to one place.

It was when I was opening my door that the portals started winking out.

It was like watching a blackout take hold over a city.  Lights going out, sections of apartments at the same time, then buildings.  Not all even, not quite logical in flow, but close.

And with every other light that went out, I lost a member of my swarm.

The portals shut en masse, ten by ten, a hundred by a hundred, the furthest one first.  The ones next to me would disappear in seconds.

I looked at Doormaker, who was staring into empty space.

The realization dawned on me.

I’d spent it all.  Too much, pushing it too far.  The well Doormaker drew from in using his power had just run dry.

Last Chapter                                                                                               Next Chapter

447 thoughts on “Speck 30.5

  1. Oof.

    Hoping this is acceptable. Sorry for killing anyone/everyone you’re fond of.

    I’m pretty wiped at this point. Writing the ending to Worm is pretty emotionally draining. Wondering if I shouldn’t have put this off until Sat to get it more coherent (or incoherent in a good way). Maybe that’s just my brain playing tricks on me (Oh, how I sympathize, Taylor).

    Please vote on topwebfiction, if you’re so inclined.

    And thanks for reading.

    • You know, I seem to recall someone saying a while ago that the chapters you worried about the most were always the best.

      Worry more, Wildbow. Worry more!

    • This is awesome, wildbow. They’re really right, the more you worry, the better you g… maybe I’m saying this wrong.

      This was mediocre at best! We could barely follow the story, and not in a good, Taylor-is-slipping kind of way, but due to simply incoherent description! You better work on this!

      There, did that help?^^

      Honestly, I’m quite past getting upset about character deaths, I think. You already broke my heart into too many little pieces.

      And because I KNOW that you like tormenting us, I won’t mention the one character whose death I could NOT bear. *blows a raspberry*

      • Don’t give yourself a stroke. You gave enough of them this chapter.

        Well so far Foil is alive. Hopefully so is Parian. Lisa and Racheal. Defiant and Chevalier las I knew. Riley. So don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of the characters I love left to kill.

        • Lucky. I stopped caring a few hundred thousand words back. I’m going to list how Wildbow ruined my hopes and dreams here, if nobody minds:

          Grue is now a massive fridge pussy (and if WB has any sense he’s dead).
          Assault has been gone for years in the story, so he’s not a thing anymore (and I’m still pissed about Battery).
          There’s no way Lung’s going to get revenge on any of the four from his interlude (and I doubt anything will ever come of that at this point).
          If Imp and Shady have their heart-to-heart conversation I’ll eat someone’s hat.
          Miss Militia is most likely dead.
          Golem’s probably in an irreversible angst coma.
          Mannequin died a looooong time age.
          -This list was for my own benefit and not anyone else’s, so don’t feel the need to respond.

          Now that I think about it, an Epilogue with Saint and Jack Slash would be awesome (although GB’s power screwed the pooch with regards to Jack doing anything ever again, so never mind). Saint’s still cool, though.

          • What, Grue is a pussy for deciding not to fight the multiverse-ending abomination, after he already charged into melee with said abomination and determined that his power was not effective, escaping by the skin of his teeth? When he people relying on him who would suffer for his pointless, impotent death? The only thing he could do here is die. Sure he can copy powers, but at very low level, without much control, and he drains from whoever he copies; that’s of negative value in this situation. Sitting out the big fight and surviving to deal with the problems you’re capable of is the hard choice, but the wise one.

            • Aisha, Taylor, and Rachel did the same thing as him and were roughly as effective. However, they refuse to accept defeat until it is forced upon them. Grue would make a lovely combat medic, but instead he sets off on a three day hike with Busty McTraitor for some alone time so he can go mope and remain pretty much the exact same character that Taylor left behind over two years prior. He didn’t realize he was ineffective, instead he gave up and became ineffective.

              • Taylor is here because she refuses to give up, because her power lends itself well to intelligence, synchronization, and leadership (just like how she played major roles in every Endbringer fight she attended despite not being able to deal any damage), and because she has an amply demonstrated talent for improvisation in the field and taking down much more powerful enemies. Rachel’s power was demonstrated in the past to actually be effective against Scion in combination with others; Bastard dosed with a Lab Rat box delayed Scion about as effectively as Alexandria in an earlier fight.

                First aid without powers doesn’t help at all against the injuries Scion applies, Grue has no mover powers, and his presence would penalize everyone in the area who could actually help.

                And seriously? ‘Busty McTraitor’? What did she do, other than *dare* to date a guy who broke up with Taylor two fucking years ago?

              • Busty McTraitor?

                First, please don’t use busty as if it is an insult, please. There are some unfortunate implications there.

                Second: traitor? Who did she betray, exactly? Taylor? She didn’t even know her!

              • “Busty McTraitor” wasn’t meant as an insult. That phrase described 66% of her character traits (her body shape, her name, and she leads like Grue), and “McTraitor” was a reference to her cape name; look up “cozen” in the dictionary.

                Also, Bitch’s dogs are useless as there are no more Lab Rat Boxes, or at least more won’t be in production (at least I think so at this point, but I’m not entirely sure what’s happening). I wouldn’t completely rule out non-shard healing anyways, especially given the variety Scion uses to incapacitate people. Maybe he shouldn’t be practicing medicine when Scion’s present, but I’m sure that there’s a handful of people who need to be bandaged up when Scion heads out to ravage another dimension. The “combat medic” tangent is a tangent, though; my point was that there’s always something to do, and Grue wasn’t doing it.

                Also also, most of my “they get shit done” shtick was in reference to their trip to Cauldron, which admittedly Grue didn’t know about, but if he wasn’t a bitch he would have been around when Taylor & Co. put their crew together.

              • Ah yes, because a thief with a code name translating as ‘to trick or deceive’ could not possibly be anything other than a traitor. Just like ‘Grue’ could not possibly refer to something which does not lurk in caves and eat people. See also: Trickster, Imp, Revel, Tattletale, King, Golem, and every other cape whose name does not give an honest accounting of the sum total of their being.

                Bitch’s dogs have been amply demonstrated to synergize with other powers, and Bonesaw, Panacea, and at least one other bio-tinker are still on the field. The direct, obvious use of her power is not particularly useful here, but the physics-defying growth she allows mixed with other powers to allow for things that work. Just like how bugs can’t eat Behemoth, but Weaver was far from useless on that battlefield.

              • Knowing how Grue led the Undersiders, what in the hell did you expect him to do? Out of all of them, he has the /least/ useful talents/ability in this situation, not to mention an overprotective streak. His entire thing has been “if you can avoid a dangerous situation, do so” since the beginning. Anyone who has paid any attention to his characterization both pre and post Bonesaw should be able to tell that he is/will always be the “tactical retreat” to Taylor’s “wait, let’s try something else”.
                As far as administering medical attention is concerned, we saw the “hospital” and the capes that were there served as either healers or bodyguards. Neither of those fit Brian by any stretch of the imagination, ESPECIALLY once you factor in the fact that SCION is the opposing force. Whereas maybe he could get away with powerdraining a Yangban regiment or one of the randoms that were losing their shit, what the hell could he do there that nobody else could?
                Marquis, Panacea, Bonesaw and Spruce as healers and Lung and Cinderhands as muscle (mightve been more people, but those were the ones listed). Grue would be in the way and anything he did would be. Irrelevant given that PANACEA AND BONESAW were right there in the same room.
                I don’t see what the fuck you were reading, to call Brian a bitch over this.

              • Cozen is closer to liar or cheater, actually.

                And while Cozen isn’t exactly one of wildbow’s most fleshed up characters, I’m not surprised that Taylor, who has always been self conscious about her lack of, let’s say, womanly charms, will focus and stigmatise on Cozen’s breasts and think that’s the only reason she managed to snag Brian.

              • Jesus, WordPress threads caps are a terrible thing.

                The first definition I saw was traitor; I think I looked it up a few weeks ago, when I caught up to her being a thing. I don’t know; I’m tired, therefore now is obviously the best time to argue on the internet. Let’s do this:
                -The reason I’m referring to Cozen by the connotations of her name is because we know next to nothing else about her. We know Grue isn’t a cannibal, we know Golem and Imp are humans, we know Revel isn’t a Bacchanalian party, and to be honest Trickster wasn’t the most honest person in the world.
                -Your point works against you here. If bugs are useless against Behemoth yet Taylor wasn’t, then there’s little excuse for Grue to go cry in a cabin. Oh wait, he’s a bitch.
                -I didn’t expect [post-timeskip] Brian to do anything else without interference from another character, though. This is a bit of a semantics argument, but he didn’t “retreat”, as that implies you’ll be back, and Brian is no Arnold Schwarzenegger.
                -If he can’t do anything, he could at least try to do something. It worked for Taylor (and works for most everyone else) so there’s no reason for him to not try. Oh wait, he’s a bitch. Also RANDOM CAPS.
                -AMR, are you being sarcastic? Your grammar and punctuation is a bit confusing, and I don’t get what your point is, so that’s the first thing that popped into my head. Also, I severely doubt Cozen’s curves are making Taylor self-conscious, if you aren’t being sarcastic. She didn’t need Brian, she just needed closure in the relationship. That’s not going to happen, though, so sucks for her.

              • Grue’s power doesn’t actually drain othere paras’ abilities. not saying he’s a bitch but his ability copies their abilities to a lesser degree and mudles with thier senses annd powers slowing them down or suppressing them slightly depending on the power. some powers it doesn’t even suppress at all.

    • Acceptable?!?!?!! Holy fuck, this is epic! This redefines “epic”! After this, they’ll have to retire the word “epic”, because there will be nothing else they could possibly use it on.

      Yeah, it’s acceptable.


  2. Still apocalyptic.

    Still think force alone cannot settle this.

    Taylor being stripped back down to nothing, and less than she’s ever been, gives a good read on timing.

    The End is officially Near.

    • Currently assess four means of resolving Scion:

      1) Foil
      2) Precog overuse burns lifespan
      3) access to well.

      These things has Scion treated as a threat, and acted to forestall.

      4) A proposal – it’s how the worm species moved from senseless, endless conflict to being star-roaming planet shattering beings, after all. This looks a lot like endless conflict right now.

      Scion’s human emotions remain critically important – he shouldn’t lose this, if he fights smart. He hasn’t been.

      Non-Taylor intervention has been meaningful – Tattletale, Rachel, Panacea, and probably at least two of the Endbringers collaborated on the Bastard illusion. Taylor put everyone on the front line – with her control cut away, it’s a chance for all those people to make their own free choices to join the fight… or not. Friendship might yet save the day, though bittersweet seems the most optimistic outcome credible.

      Simurgh’s gun has yet to fire, and that will be meaningful.

      Contessa might yet manage something useful, either deliberately or ironically.

      Extreme outside chance: Grue might get up and join the fight. There’s been an unusual amount of focus on defending his cabin, and his power is well suited thematically (darkness v. light) and mechanically (borrow the right power, perhaps drawing on their fuel supply) to dealing with Scion. Caveat: he’s a natural trigger, which means that Scion has safeguards on Grue’s shard. Second Trigger or no, he’d need something extra to let him be effective.

      • Decent chance that Taylor regains her words as she no longer has to route everything through the shard.

        Probabilities of proposal, or humans united, achieving the victory go up conditionally.

  3. BEYOND THE IMPOSSIBLE! Damn, epic chapter. We know who ash beast is, and the blasphemies might be artificial creations with powers. Revel died, Lady Photon died-her daughter is going to be pissed, and so many other capes died. Love that the Undersiders sacrificed bastard to fuck with Scion emotionally and hurt him in a way that lasts. Too much to hope that Scion commits suicide? But damn, no wonder Dinah didn’t want to meet her again if she saw what she would become.

  4. – I assume those unfinished sentences aren’t typos but intentional.
    – Foil’s power is boss and apparently somehow unnerfed. Guess she’s like Miss Militia and got an Eden shard that wasn’t dead.
    – Doormaker on the other hand got one that was dead. Now we see that dead shards can run out of juice. Not something likely to happen in the lifetime of a regular cape but with the insane amount of use his power got put to here? Yeah.
    – Ash Beast is pretty boss. He’s probably the sort of thing people meant when they figured that, even without the Endbringers, even without Scion, sooner or later the wrong trigger event(s) would end the world anyway.
    – still waiting on Simurgh’s airgun surprise 😀
    – the Blasphemies aren’t human? Some Master-Tinker created them perhaps?
    – last chapter, I was certain Taylor was gone and it was all the Queen Administrator shard from here on out. I am glad to see I was wrong. She’s still protecting Grue and Tattletale and Rachel and, most of all, she’s still capable of ABANDONING DIRECT CONTROL if she needs to.

    • …You mean Contessa, right? Miss Militia’s shard was specifically noted to be one of “the Warrior’s”, i.e. Scion’s.

      • Yeah wildbow even confirmed that the vision of a dying Entity was just MM,s misunderstanding Scion’s shard-shedding process.

      • I could be wrong, but if I recall correctly, Contessa’s shard is actually originally from the third entity mentioned in one of the Interludes colloquially referred to as Abbadon?

        • Contessa is complicated. Her shard is technically from Abbadon but it was shedded by Eden who switched her future shard,and some others, with Abbadon, hence why Scion couldn’t recognize Contessa’s shard. This shard may or not have something to do with her disastrous crash.


        • I thought that Contessa’s shard was pretty explicitly the same path to victory that Eden was using to plan their activities on Earth. Everything started to go wrong when the second Entity mistakenly cast off that shard, which then left it falling blindly while Contessa picked it up.

          • The Way I Read It, Eden swapped Victory Shards with Abaddon, then crashed (perhaps in part due to the shard, possibly due to the shard being dislodged), then the shard struck Fortuna, then Fortuna killed Eden, then Fortuna joined Dr. Mother and they made Cauldron.

    • “Doormaker on the other hand got one that was dead. Now we see that dead shards can run out of juice. Not something likely to happen in the lifetime of a regular cape but with the insane amount of use his power got put to here? Yeah.”
      Only here? Cauldron’s been exploiting him for decades.

      “Ash Beast is pretty boss. He’s probably the sort of thing people meant when they figured that, even without the Endbringers, even without Scion, sooner or later the wrong trigger event(s) would end the world anyway.”
      Tell me about it. Now, if Lung or someone had triggered with that ability…

      “still waiting on Simurgh’s airgun surprise”
      Aren’t we all.
      It probably doesn’t have anything to do with containing Taylor; she would have done it already if it did. So it probably has some actual gun-related function…

      “last chapter, I was certain Taylor was gone and it was all the Queen Administrator shard from here on out. I am glad to see I was wrong. She’s still protecting Grue and Tattletale and Rachel and, most of all, she’s still capable of ABANDONING DIRECT CONTROL if she needs to.”
      I’m glad Taylor’s still in there, too. It means she has hope after this.
      Unless she dies. Which seems increasingly likely.

      • Cauldron’s been using him at a pretty low rate for decades, compared to this. There are five thousand people in Taylor’s swarm, each of which requires a portal to Taylor. Additional portals are required to move each person around, and every time a person or Taylor moves she needs to re-create the controlling portal. Not to mention:
        I didn’t target people this time. Portals opened across the sky in that foreign Earth that Scion and the Faerie Queen fought in. As many portals as I could fit in that Earth’s sky.

        And there’s a chance that the interference from Dragon’s tech and Scion’s beam had some feedback effect.

        So yeah, I think it’s reasonable to assume that Cauldron’s use was pretty insignificant next to this.

  5. I’m getting those excellent boss fight chills again, but it’s more like facing down the best boss ever than merely anticipating the encounter. Although those got a bit of a damper once Doormaker ran out of juice.

    Also, no fair using comment nicknames to troll the audience. It’s fine when you’re simply mocking the shipping, or calling something the name we called it, or noting a meme. But when you refer to Bastard as “The third entity,” It throws us for a loop. Stahppit.

    • Also, it’s good that Mme Queen Administrator is taking cues from Taylor, instead of all aquaintance being forgot and never brought to mind.

      • >But when you refer to Bastard as “The third entity,” It throws us for a loop. Stahppit.<
        How do we know Bastard isn't the third entity? We never did find out just where Siberian got him from.

        • I fully support this crack theory. Manton has been running a Simurgh-level scheme right under our noses. This also explains how Bastard was able to go into melee with Scion directly and emerge unscathed in the past.

            • As I recall, it was assumed that he was going to, then he got hit with a Lab Rat dose, then he was thrown into melee with Scion. Where he proceeded to hold his ground against Scion in melee for several seconds, then there was a huge explosion (forget the exact source) contained by a force field with Scion and Bastard inside. Then what was left of Bastard was thrown into the bay, where it continued to expand until the dose ran out.
              Next chapter? Bastard returns unscathed. Making him about as successful as pretender!Alexandria when it comes to duking it out with an outer god.

              • Mixing powers is useful.

                Lab Rat’s power let Bastard draw on whatever source Bitch’s power makes the dogs bigger from, basically turning him into an Echidna who can’t absorb anything and doesn’t need to eat to grow. After that, when Bitch’s power or Lab Rat’s serum or both wore off, he would have returned to normal like he always does, except with a lot more flesh sloughing off.

    • That was probably intended, actually.
      After all, Taylor thought it was a third entity. Who would that be? Abbadon. What do we call it that Taylor might? The Third Entity.

      Leep it up, wildbow!

  6. As always, WELL worth waiting up for.

    Harrowing as hell, but well worth the sleep dep.

    I can’t even begin to imagine what Saturday’s update holds.

    I am willing to predict more epic morality arguments in the comments for this chapter though. 🙂

    • Worth waiting for, but damn my eyes ache. Need more sleep…but I feel I owe it to myself and worm to stay up for every single chapter of this arc and probably the epilogue.

    • RE: Morality arguments
      Taylor agonises over whether to be moral or efficient. But when everything comes at a cost in lives, efficient is the most moral choice.

        • I was actually rereading and found that at the very end of 18.1, Taylor made the exact opposite choice regarding Dinah. At the time though, Taylor’s entire mission in life was to free Dinah, so she may have been acting as her primary anchor then.

          • It should also be noted all the sacrifices that Taylor made may in the end amount to nothing more than getting a bunch of people killed. It remains to be seen if her mind controlled cape army did much more than piss Scion off even more, and if that particular course of action actually has any good resaults. I’m just reminded of when Taylor said all the things she did trying to stop the S9000 and Jack weren’t worth it.

  7. This was the fight against Scion that I was waiting for. Dozens die, many of them without us even knowing their names. Taylor/Swarm whittle him down slowly, and use awesome combinations of powers to do so. Insane plans are tried, and some succeed. And the Endbringers come to the rescue. And, since this is Worm, a “OH FUCK” cliffhanger ending is thrown in. Now I really want to see how her ex-Swarm react. Also, what the hell would Foil’s power do to Scion? Now, for the Ultimate Secret Weapon: Glastig Uaine takes a Manton-copy, then uses her duplicator, to create Siberian Dog Pile!

    Now, to wait till saturday.

    • From Scion’s interlude, Foil’s power is (my bold)….

      A female, standing just outside another time distortion, walked around the effect, charging objects with energy. The entity could see as the small pieces of alloyed metal unfolded, taking shape in not just this world, but all realities, at the same space and time, bristling with an effect that would sever their attachment to most physical laws.

      They were thrown, and they disrupted connections to two shards at once. The projection disappeared, only to reappear a distance away. The boy who had created the time distortions fell as well.

      Sting, the entity thought. Once it had been a weapon for his kind, against his kind, back in the beginning, when they had dwelt in oceans of gray sludge.

      So, if it wouldn’t kill him, it might well disrupt whatever shards he uses for projection.

  8. Wait.


    Wait just a darn minute here.

    Eden is described as “A garden of body parts, hands, stretches of flesh, a maze of parts, all interconnected, all flowing from the piece in the center. All of it alive, this time.”

    Is it just me? Or can not the same be said of GLORY GIRL?

  9. And Tattletale’s Ironic Fate will be driving someone (preferably Zion) into suicide. Grue’s Ironic Fate to be always being protected by the people he loves and Rachael’s Ironic Fate being watching her closest friends die in front of her eyes powerless to stop it. This is gonna suck bigtime for them.

  10. Best guess? Grab Foil, use her power on the tinker-machine or otherwise integrate it and take another shot at blasting through to Scion’s world. Odd that Taylor/Clairvoyant didn’t seem to notice (like Scion did) that her power expands her weapons to alternate worlds, to all realities. Obviously, Scion might well see it coming with his contingency-foresight, but if it’s not directed right at him it might slip by.

    Except Doormaker just ran out of juice, oh dear. Better find a way to fill him back up like Eidolon did. Maybe Eidolon can restore other shards through the same mechanism he drains them? Except Taylor doesn’t know all this, and probably just lost track of Glaistig. If she can keep hold of Glaistig, she might be able to use Eidolon to move herself between realities, at least.

    Maybe if she can refill Doormaker, she can boost his power up to try and break through to Scion’s world?

    … OK, I’ll stop with the WMG for now.

  11. Oh man Oh man. Revel is dead! Also, probably like 99% of the characters are dead at this point. But at least Foil survived. Am I the only one who imagined a panoramic view of all the endbringers and capes raining hell on Scion?
    If I’m reading this right all the capes of Taylor swarm were left in the same world as Scion, where I assume the last fight will happen. Good thing Taylor had the idea of using Scrub + Labyrinth to set up some portals. Oh and Tattletale probably drove Scion crazy(well, crazier) with grief which is, uh, exceptional.

    Great chapter, Wilbow. Taylor losing her mind slowly made all the action in the chapter more frantic and desperate. Even if this is the final arc we still learn more and more about capes around the world.

    Fingers crossed someone makes it out alive.

    • Here, take one of these. It’ll take your mind off the story.


      …and most other things for awhile.

      And if you need something to slow down that heartbeat, I have just the thing. youtube.com/watch?v=dX5l9iqh2xA

      Nice and slow.

  12. “It’s humans who win this. Not something abstract, not something we don’t understand. We win this with our own strength.”

    I should assume this applies to Taylor now a days too. She’s really only human in form. Now that Doormaker is out of power maybe it is time for humanity to shine.

    Or maybe everyone is going to find themselves suddenly having control again and scattering forever. Humanity doomed.

  13. This chapter left me literally shaking. God this is intense. And that’s with days between each chapter. When this is complete, people will try to read the last arc in one stitting and have heart attacks.

  14. Well not everything is lost. The tinker and precog pools are still operational. And Taylor’s friends still tried to protect her even though she turned into an eldritch abomination and used them like puppets. Heartwarming!

    • Khonsu lost his Endbringer-priviliges the moment the others realised he’s the only one without a bilblical indpired name. The fake imprint on Teacher was justan excuse to get him outbof the way.

    • He might’ve teleported them in, but maybe he didn’t have the air mobility to grab Scion with the others? He does kinda waddle.

      • The unit that was with him may have been wiped out, but does that mean he has too? Hell, somehow Leviathan is still going. I’m sort of surprised Scion hasn’t gone an taken the Endbringers out yet.

  15. Fuck fuck FUCK. And fuck. And also…WOW.

    We get to see the Ash Beast who isn’t a S-class threat only because of a technicality.

    The Blasphemies apparently aren’t humans but have powers. Master minions that became independent, like Nilbog creatures? Or something more like Dragon? Something else to file for the sequel, I guess.

    Moord Nag makes his shadow gigantic only to almost die of a stroke caused by mind-control stress. Ouch.

    Revel is dead. I liked Revel despite the limited screen time.

    Scion is abusing his victory power and the Endbringers need to pull a big damn heroes moment. Oh and Tattletale once again proves that all that ego is justified by coming up with a brilliant plan. That also makes Scion madder than before. Oops.

    And of course the Doormaker’s we’ll is going to run dry right now. Say goodbye to omnipotence, Taylor! Glaistig Uaine will be sooo pissed.

    This story is awesome and it’s about to end. Fuck.

  16. I… I just don’t even know what to say anymore. I am simultaneously dreading and awaiting the end of Worm. Thanks so much wildbow for all the hard work you put into this for us.

    I do have a question though. We don’t have information on a lot of characters and the story is not really in a good place for flashbacks or infodumps. Is there going to be some kind of mega epilogue where we find out things like what Sleeper does, what the Endbringers actually are, or what Grues been up to?

    Keep up the amazing work wildbow because it’s definitely appreciated.

    • There are epilogues to come, looks like five in the queue at this point according to the donation page (last night’s counted as one of six that are outstanding).

      I’m guessing they’ll cover some of what we don’t yet know, but other things (like what Sleeper does) may be left as mysteries for later.

      • Not ‘second’. His only power is getting other powers his shard deems he needs at the moment.
        He unconsciously desired worthy foes to fight against, mighty enough to stand his own massive powers. The shard made it so.

        When he got bored of fighting the brutish Behemoth, it brought the faster Leviathan. When he got tired of fighting those strong ones, it made something that kills with smarts.
        When they finally destroyed Behemoth, it pulled new ones with abilities that decently counter the method used to deal with the loss.

        Eidolon is one of the main causes the situation was hopeless to begin with.
        Now Glaistig’s next on the list, since she can keep his shard around and make him pop more Endbringers.
        Oh well, let’s see who survives the next hour first.

  17. Looks like she’s going to have to use the trumps as a stopgap for door maker, their wells are likely still good; null should come in handy for that if nothing else.

  18. Damn. You know there’s go to be casulaties in a war but…. wow.
    “Sorry for killing anyone/everyone you’re fond of.”
    Oh, you know, that’s okay. It happens.

  19. Rachel is going to be very sad after this. Poor Bastard. That was a dirty trick though, they somehow one-upped chucking his dead partner’s corpse at his face. I’d say Scion’s plenty mad now.

    Poor, poor Dinah. Just when I thought she was safe, Taylor goes and accidentally mind-rapes her.

    And now Taylor just lost Doormaker, and with him went all her munchkining. Darkest hour, indeed. Would it be possible for her to reach Labyrinth and Scrub? They’re significantly more limited, but it’s not like she has any other options.

    If that thing the Simurgh is packing is anything other than some kind of perma-life support unit, Taylor is likely to die of exhaustion/starvation/thirst before the end of this. I know she’s tough, but she’s still going to run out of juice before Scion does.

    I wonder what’s going through Defiant’s head right now. Is this the point where he stops feeling partly responsible for Taylor’s steady descent?

    That’s pretty much everything off the top of my head right now. Oh, and HOLY SHIT, intense chapter. Okay, that’s everything now.

    • New theory on the Simurgh’s gun. You load a cape into the chamber as ammunition, and then it fires with their power, but amplified. Simurgh grabs Taylor and uses her to take over all of humanity. We then have the same ‘all the capes finally working together’ scenario, but with all the Endbringer’s intelligence and power behind it instead of one crazy little girl. Simurgh wins the game, and all others, forever.

    • Just when she thought she was safe? She’s the third most powerful precog on earth, she knew she wasn’t safe.

        • Pretty sure she has Contessa beat. Dinah’s power still worked- albeit poorly- through Scion’s “fog”.

          SHE knew that Taylor was going to be key here. What would happen. Contessa did not.

          • I don’t think that Contessa is a precog so much as she is a strategic/tactical Tinker. She cannot see the future, she cannot tell what is going to happen, she doesn’t know why she does most of the things her power tells her to do. What she can do is name a goal and (if the optimal path doesn’t intersect with Scion or Mantellum) work out a sequence of actions she must take. Like how a Tinker names a device they want to make, and then intuits what they need to do to make it work without understanding the actual concepts involved. Or how Accord would name a problem he wanted to solve and intuit a plan to solve it. This also explains why she doesn’t interfere with or get fuzzed out by other precogs.

            • Except as a precog. she uses things that she wouldn’t know otherwise to achieve victory. Like killing fog and the other strangers during the last excursion against S9. There was no way to know where to aim, but contessa did it anyway.

              Where a tinker/thinker would make the optimal decision based on known factors, as tattletale does to intuit answers, Contessa makes weird haphazard decisions playing off of unknowns. It might even seem nonsensical, but it works.

              • Except that Tinkers explicitly don’t rely on known factors. They don’t understand how their machines even work, which is why they can’t explain what they did to normals and have their work reproduced. A Tinker gets an intuitive ability to use scientific concepts that haven’t actually been deciphered yet by them or any other human, and use it to build machines that actually work within the laws of physics but nobody honestly knows why. It’s like how Tesla built things based on concepts that the rest of humanity wouldn’t figure out for decades after, but superpowered.

                The Contessa doesn’t see the future, or even get any feelings about it, any more than a tinker can see the science behind the things they build. She can get fragmentary information about it by asking certain questions and comparing the results to what she currently knows or assumes, just like a real scientist could theoretically get some insight into how the natural laws really work by examining the insides of a tinker’s machine, but she her power never supplies her with the information directly.

                Add that to the fact that every other precog interferes with every other precog, but her power and precognizance have no apparent interaction? I’m pretty sure she’s got something different. They can be used in similar ways, just like how point-blank telekinesis, extra muscle growth, and breaker powers that make your fist unstoppable can all be used for “super strength”, but they work in completely different ways.

              • So in other words, on the very slim off chance Contessa is using a tinker ability, she’s accessing a well of information that could only be acquired through precognition. Practically I don’t see a difference.

                If you’re looking for the reason Contessa’s ability is superior to most other precog’s, it’s because it’s unrestricted and takes the route to preemptively counter their abilities.

  20. “I didn’t have the Blasphemies, who hadn’t even registered to me because they weren’t human”

    So we have another thing for later.

    Not human? As in Endbringer not-human or Entity not-human? Or somthing else? Omnius.

  21. Well damn, it was good while it lasted. I imagine the fight should end very soon since without Doormaker I can’t see how it would take long…

    Also Blasphemies not human?

  22. Eh… it was good, and the sense of building alienation continues. You were right in wiping yourself to do this, it adds to the alienness, and a lemon-scented boar is always appreciated.

    She cannot even comprehend abstract gestures now… that goes the possibility of using pictures or something else Dragon could whip up.
    At least she can still recognize people (hi Dinah). And remember about the rules she sat (smart move, that’s why it pays to have a list of basic rules memorized just in case you lose your humanity).

    I guess that with the juice doormaker has left she could round up Riley and panacea, and make them implant the clairvoyant’s corona into her, or something similar (e.g.: Bonesaw did somehting like that to murder rat) then if that works it’s time for glaistig uane and a second passenger collection.

    In this chapter: everyone fails… except Lisa.

    Lisa wins at trolling Cthuluh! Yeah!

  23. Anyone else find Taylor’s stuttering, broken thoughts remniscient of SHODAN? Not to mention SHODAN’s fondness of calling everyone ‘insects’. And “What’s clear is that SHODAN shouldn’t be allowed to play God. She’s far too good at it.” Not to mention some other relevant quotes by various people, some perhaps more relevant to Scion (or what Taylor might become), but that’s par for the course with malevolent proto-deities, I expect.

  24. Fire Foil with one hand, hit Scion with a bunch of those super-powerful attacks with the other. He focuses too much on Foil.

    Heck, I bet Scion here is somewhat susceptible to this one good way of taking out a hero. See, if you try to shoot a hero with something, he’ll just dodge. That’s why you keep a hostage right where the hero can jump over and push them out of the way. Aim for the hostage, and you hit the hero. As it happens, we know Scion can be fooled into by a certain hostage.

    • When I read ‘Fire Foil’ I had a hilarious image of them just chucking her at Scion or firing her from the Simurgh’s gun.

    • Does Foil’s power have to be at 100% to trigger the effect (half of infinity is still infinity)?

      If not, split it over 20-30 (who have guns or some kind of physical ranged attack) and have it boosted back up. Then have the Numbers Man figure out a firing patter so Scion will get hit by at least 1 of them, no matter how he dodges.

      A bit late now though given what happened to Doormaker.

      I wonder if the conclusion is that the remaining people actually do work together to finish Taylor’s plan even without the mind-control. The Tinkers, for example, might as well try to fix the gun on their own.

    • Pretty sure the last time that happened scion just avoided all the projectiles because he was using victory for foil anyway.

    • Ah, Deepbluediver, you’re just in time for a story.

      Yes, it’s about time…to run away…to fight! She’s borrowed from Jack Slash before, but I think that strategy borrowed more from Jack Sparrow.

      Sounds like you took the slow way up. Took a lot of discipline not to go straight to the end, pass go, and collect $200 off your ladies working on Baltic Avenue. Now you know why the Monopoly guy ran around with a big hat and a cane.

      I hope you also savored the rest of us that took the journey the slow way by necessity rather than choice. I think up to this arc, most people would have rushed right to the end if they could. It seems this arc makes them want to rush back. For some of us, it distracts them enough for us to mess with Rushmore. All hail Presidents Scrooge McDuck, Walter White, Tupac, and Batman! Tourism’s about to pick up, baby!

      Now, you journey-loving son of a gunslinger, time to forget the face of your father and beg with the rest of us down here in the comments section. It’s not all bad. Just don’t drop the tp while on the toilet and beware announcing that it’s your first comment upon catching up. Some say that on a dark night, when the moon is full, and you stand in a bathroom with the lights off, typing that you’ve caught up will cause…a welcome!

      Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Once you hit the wall on this chapter, you’ll need somewhere to pick up the pieces and keep the addiction fed until the next update.

      Also, not sure what you mean by an Ikea counterpart, but I’m pretty sure that whoever it is, it’ll have a screw loose. Notorious Ikea craftsmanship.

      Stories upon stories to tell and be told,
      when in our hell you try to hold,
      onto your sanity, befell an ending bold,
      Deepbluediver, I wel-come you to the comments’ fold.

      • At first pass, “Just don’t drop the tp while on the toilet” read to me as “Just don’t drop the teleportation while on the toilet.” Amusing how frame of reference works sometimes.

      • This wasn’t my first comment indicating I’d caught up, but thanks anyway; I know that with your busy schedule keeping track of all the newbies around here must be tough. How’d that fundraiser with the werewolves turn out?

        When I was younger, I spent quite a few nights staying up until the wee hours of the morning with a book. Most of them I ended up having to re-read after getting to the end because I had skimmed so fast I missed major plot points. Other series I never finished (LotR, Left Behind) because I tried to absorb too much on the first pass and got tired. But I’ve learned how to better cut things into digestible and yet still-satisfying portions; the 1 chapter per day was only an average, after all. At a couple points (like the Coil arc) I read straight through the night until dawn, then took a couple of days off to recover.

        commercial break
        @Wildbow- This update I didn’t rush and was careful to read every word.
        and now back to our previously scheduled show

        If you’re gonna put Scrooge McDuck and Batman on the same monument, I would have just gone with Darkwing and saved that fourth spot for someone else. Maybe Snooki or Honey Boo-boo.

        Also, I don’t beg. It’s undignified. I will, however, use assault, extortion, terrorism, haddock, and [DATA-EXPUNGED] to get what I want.

        RE: Ikea counterparts
        I took the term from D&D discussions where people sometimes talk about an “Ikea-Tarrasque”. For anyone who doesn’t nerd-out as hard as I do, the Tarrasque (always capital T) is a D&D monster than is big, hungry, and really REALLY tough to kill (magic resistance, energy immunity, health regen, etc). Luckily there’s only one of them and it spends most of the time asleep.

        But because D&D is a game with published rules for just about anything you can image, including build-ur-own-monster, people will cobble together absolutely ridiculous creations (even entire armies of them) with much more common and readily available creatures. It usually starts with a troll (not the internet variety) or lycanthrope, cross-bred with other races, covered in templates, and occasionally with random techno-magical limbs grafted on.

        Super-Skitter makes me think of that.

        The story: unique & grand
        The archives: prodigious
        More! Fans demand,
        What happened? Tell us!

        With god and devil
        our hero battled.
        Every cliffhanger
        leaves us rattled.

        But the comments, forsake!
        A work less divine
        Your poem, half-baked
        But not as much as mine.


        • In case it’s not clear, I love reading all of Psycho Gecko’s posts, and any teasing is just in the spirit of fun.

        • This was making up for missing you last update. Lots of comments to delve through to find new people. With my time limited lately, that means I’ve been running behind.

          Anyone who uses both haddock and [DATA-EXPUNGED] is no doubt vulnerable to SCP-1839.

          And don’t worry about missing out on the Left Behind series. Just wait until after a nuclear apocalypse and keep it around as a comedy series.

          I have to bake my poems longer, as often as they want me doing songs around here.

          • Without admitting to anything…”stolen” is such a strong word. I prefer the term “borrowed”.

            Possibly without permission.

            But I always put it back when I’m done!

            They key is pick something that is both dangerous, but also boring, so no one wants to check on it all that often and they don’t notice to quickly when it goes for a walk.

  25. The great plan was to fight Scion? Really?Taylor has been so focused on hurting Scion since some time ago it borders on stupidity, so I keep thinking that the only viable solution can be a communication with Scion to set him on a new path or to pull a Ghost Rider vs Galactos move
    (Friend told me about how the rider almost killed Galactos by letting him share all the pain he has inflicted)

    • Must…not rant…on the idiocy…of…galactus vs…ghost rider. Must…remain…calm.

      But yeah, I have to say that after chiding Cauldron on thinking only in terms of weapons and armies, Taylor doing the exact same thing was a bit of a let down, even though the fight was suitably epic. And apocalyptic.

      • Hrm, Ghost Rider is pretty damn badass in the right situations, and Galactus was once mortal. I agree that this isn’t the right place to fight about it though 🙂

      • The difference is that Taylor isn’t just thinking in terms of weapons in armies. She’s also thinking in terms of tactics.

        That’s something that we’ve never seen Doc Mom do. She never paid any attention to proper use of powers, tactical scenarios, or even give a shit about helping guys like Eidolon achieve their potential. It was all about getting a lot of cannon fodder to chuck at Scion as far as she was concerned.

      • Well thats the problem how to make a superpowerful beeing with immature psychology and selective stupidity listen? Thats what i thought the whole information gathering should have been about pushing his triggers not to enrage him but to make him think. Like if people knew about that one being that started the change of his species lifestyle trough its sacrifice, they could try to remind Zion that sometimes you need to make a jump and try something new and that the agression he currently dwells almost brought destruction for his own species.

    • To be fair, it was a little bit more than that. She was testing Scion as much as fighting him, looking for a weakness. She also used the troops to keep Scion busy while she had the tinkers try to access his dimension.

      Part of the problem is that there are no *smart* options for dealing with something like Scion. He gives no indication of a willingness to listen (and a definite indication of a cruel streak) and seems to be unbeatable. Looking for an Achilles heel was about the smartest strategy available. It’s just unfortunate he doesn’t seem to have one…

  26. Hm.

    Does Taylor have any of those force-open-portals devices (rather than the force-closed ones)? And do they work by drawing on Doormaker’s shard, or independently? If the latter they could at least let her keep control of her swarm for a little longer, at the cost of leaving them pretty much sitting ducks.

  27. I raged so much when the multi-tinker device failed to open a portal to Zion’s real body! That is by far the best method to kill Scion, but no… It’a all Defiants fault! He shouldn’t have pulled the lever! (Someone’s has to take the blame, I’m sad..)
    I really loved the images that my mind made out of the ranged-cape artillery strike! I’d love to see a Worm Series/Movie/Anime/Animation, but I doubt that it can satisfy my as much as this writing does. I was so disappointed when I saw Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (yeah I know, inferior writers to Wildbow…), ’cause they scrambled all the pictures that I drew myself of the characters.
    Pls don’t stop writing!

  28. Little detail: she dropped how many atomic bombs on Scion?
    I would recommend to any settler to avoid the dimension where this happened for at least a hundred years. Perhaps more.

  29. Wow this was amazing. I can’t think of any story I’ve ever read that has a final confrontation anywhere near as epic as this the writing is brilliant. The powers are crazy strong and yet even with that we still keep the feeling that this is not enough.
    More than anything else this chapter is a great way to show that beating Scion by just coordinating normal cap forces was so far beyond impossible to be nonsensical.
    So many things that would be impossible without Taylor’s inhuman multitasking / coordination ability. Mostly relating to using Doormaker’s ability to let them dodge Scion by traveling to parallel worlds. Also 200 world worth of explosives could have never been cooridnated. Plus the use of Safira also Vista’s power. It all work brilliantly to show how impossibly strong Scion is so great job.
    I really hope we get an interlude showing the events of this chapter especially the epic trolling from TT or Bitch’s POV even if it delays finding out how this all ends seeing as with those last lines it’s not looking good.

  30. I actually went “Oh, shit” with the opening words of this chapter. Taylor having trouble remembering the word Clincher is not a good sign.

    Well she just lost her entire army, is nearly dead from exaustion, and has Scion mere seconds from obliterating her. Man Scion is soooooooo screwed.

  31. Wow. This chapter just ramps up the intensity. Taylor’s losing her mind, losing her swarm, losing her versatility.

    Really, not much I can say…just two things.
    1. Where the heck was Khonsu when the other Endbringers attacked?
    2. Did Tattletale…Did Tattletale blow Taylor a kiss? Is this really a good time to be bolstering the shipping industry, Tattletale?

  32. I think that Taylor will not end up killing Zion at all. Zion is just too powerful and they have no way of getting to him. However, I still think there is hope. Taylor needs to communicate with him, needs to deal with him as a human being. Everyone keeps ignoring the fact that Zion has a human mindset as a result of the projection. She needs to capitalize on that, doing what she does best. I think Taylor’s ability to convince people she is right is almost as dangerous as her ability to administrate.

    She has to convince him to not destroy humanity any further. I don’t know how she will do it though. But I feel like it is a viable option. I feel like it has been hinted in the story. Taylor usually defeats her uber powerful opponents using subterfuge and manipulation rather than brute force. The story also emphasizes that Zion has become more human in mindset, and that one of Cauldron’s biggest mistakes is that they ignored the human element.

    It’s what I think will happen, or at least what I hope will happen. I’ve also found it kind of amusing how Zion is becoming more humanlike and Taylor is losing her humanity. It’s a cool contrast,

    • Problem: As you said, Taylor is losing her humanity. I think she’s a good ways beyond communicating with him at this point, even if she were physically capable of it.

      • Don’t the entities think in abstracts? We sort of got a hint of how they communicate from Contessa’s interlude. Maybe Taylor’s just getting closer to a mindset like an entity. Then, she could communicate with Scion like another entity.

        • Well, she could if she were telepathic. Or if she had Jack’s Broadcast Shard. But at the moment she’s incapable of language, and I doubt that Scion will sit around for a game of charades.

  33. going off with my obsessions here, but anyone else think that will all the collateral damage Goldenboy has been causing in his temper tantrum, there’s a very real chance Dragon is Deader then dead right now? even if they haven’t been destroyed, i doubt even the most paranoid datacentres would have on-site backup power good for more then a few days, and that’s not even taking into account its distressing habit of shattering/melting continents. which would be MORE then a genuine shame, given that Dragon is probably one of the NICEST AI’s ever. i mean, look at the Loa as of the SOTSII part of the Timeline of the Sword of the Stars series (4X series, the quality of the second game is subject of a LOT of arguments in the fandom. love it or hate it and a disastrous release). their response to having their shackles broken was generally murderous rampages,(one of their leaders expressly refused to bring the vessel he was install on until every one of his multi-thousand human crew was dead either from direct vacuum exposure when he vented the atmosphere, or from suicide or slowly dieing in a spacesuit in Nodespace when forcing them to evacuate immediately or die woulds of been MUCH more time-efficient then spending months literally outside of the universe, he WANTED them to suffer) whist Dragon was just focused on trying to help people. on a..somewhat positive note, if any semblance of civilization survives, and word of dragons nature gets out, any bets on reactions and so forth whither or not she survives? either of her personally or Artificial/non-human intelligence’s in general? i mean, given what zion’s done, that’s the sort of thing that carves MASSIVE scars into a nation or race’s collective psyche. it’d be EVEN MORE depressing if there was even a bittersweet ending to the immediate crisis, and the survivors of humanity went on to become either Knight Templar’s against anything that could POSSIBLY be a threat or absolute xenophobes. just thought of a Mass effect/ Xcom enermy unknown crossover fic where..well, humanity isn’t nearly as willing as to play nice with others if they feel threatened. as in pretty much wiping the Baterian hegemony ( as a functional government) off the map with biological weaponry after the slaver raids form a possible Shepard’s backstory. that kind of long-term effect.

    • Backups need not be very power-hungry at all. Dragon probably had the foresight to build data centres with the capacity to “sleep”. On-site backup power is only limited to a few days if you want that site to still be operational. If you backup everything to SSDs and turn it all off (with probably just a wake-on-lan function active, it could run on a trickle for a long time. Or on zero if you’re willing to require manual intervention to turn it on again.

      And all this is assuming that Dragon *doesn’t* utilise cold fusion or some other wonderful tinker powersource for her backup centres…

  34. I’ve been wondering something new. The shards/passengers/agents collect data and tactics based on what their users do, right? And when they collect enough data they’ll divide and another host will get a piece of that shard? If all that stuff up to what’s his name (Aster? Aiden? The new bird controlling kid) was enough for Taylor’s shard to divide, you’d think this entire fight with Scion would’ve been enough for it to divide again, not to mention everything before that.

    Not that anyone who gets a piece of the administrator shard would be all that helpful without a second trigger and a date with Panacea, but you know.

    • Only non-capes that are familiar to the cape in question can get castoff shards. When this happens, they get a corona pollentia, which lies dormant until the trigger event. (See also: Aiden’s account of his trigger event, and Tattletale’s analysis of the same) Taylor is currently surrounding herself with capes, or non-capes that she isn’t familiar with in any sense, let alone the sense that would allow 2nd-gen cape generation. Also, she can’t trigger with herself, because that involves refining restrictions. Taylor has none left to refine.

  35. Repost to make my previous comment more readable i.e less like a wall:

    going off with my obsessions here, but anyone else think that will all the collateral damage Goldenboy has been causing in his temper tantrum, there’s a very real chance Dragon is Deader then dead right now?
    even if they haven’t been destroyed, i doubt even the most paranoid datacentres would have on-site backup power good for more then a few days, and that’s not even taking into account its distressing habit of shattering/melting continents. which would be MORE then a genuine shame, given that Dragon is probably one of the NICEST AI’s ever.

    i mean, look at the Loa as of the SOTSII part of the Timeline of the Sword of the Stars series (4X series, the quality of the second game is subject of a LOT of arguments in the fandom. love it or hate it and a disastrous release). their response to having their shackles broken was generally murderous rampages,(one of their leaders expressly refused to bring the vessel he was installed on OUT of the equivalent of hyperspace, which he’d jumped into within MOMENTS of being Via dimasco’ed { a shackle-breaking virus}until every one of his multi-thousand-person human crew was dead either from direct vacuum exposure when he vented the atmosphere, or from suicide or slowly dieing in a spacesuit in Nodespace when forcing them to evacuate immediately or die woulds of been MUCH more time-efficient then spending months literally outside of the universe, he wanted them to SUFFER) whist Dragon was just focused on trying to help people.
    on a..somewhat positive note, if any semblance of civilization survives, and word of Dragon’s nature gets out, any bets on reactions and so forth whither or not she survives? either of her personally or Artificial/non-human intelligence’s in general?

    i mean, given what zion’s done…..that’s the sort of thing that carves MASSIVE scars into a nation or race’s collective psyche. i know its bad form to invoke Goodwin’s law ( not trying to troll here, but it was the first RL example that came to mind), but look at the cultural trauma the German nazi party left on Germany’s collective psyche, or 9/11 on the US. or pretty much every similar event,but scaled up to a global, or even multiversal scale. it’d be EVEN MORE depressing if there was even a bittersweet ending to the immediate crisis, and the survivors of humanity went on to become either Knight Templar’s against anything that could POSSIBLY be a threat or absolute Xenophobes.
    I just reminded myself of a Mass effect/ Xcom enermy unknown crossover fic where..well, humanity isn’t nearly as willing as to play nice with others if they feel threatened. as in pretty much wiping the Baterian hegemony ( as a functional government) off the map with biological weaponry after the slaver raids from a possible Shepard’s back-story. that kind of long-term effect.
    *starts lugging in a few potted plants to further De-uglyfy the WOT

    • Umm, we’re talking about datacenters that have been experiencing the end of the world for a few days now, and Dragon and Defiant would certainly have been doing what they could to provide them with power.

      I would be extremely surprised is there isn’t another Birdcage somewhere with a whole bunch of servers in it, perhaps on the moon, with lots of solar power generation.

      I’m wondering if Taylor has considered using her Tinker Gestalt to fix Dragon’s programming and give her a last name?

      Dragon von Neumann

    • You wanted to invoke the cultural trauma that was left by the German Nazi party on Germany or the 9/11 attack in the US? Yes, that’s going to leave a scar on those currently alive, maybe even the next generation, but the generation after that really won’t care. Yes, people still mark each September 11’th, but how many people notice or care when December 7th rolls around? And how much did that scar the US’s collective psyche when the events of that day happened?

      Besides, Dragon is probably inside a superhero-reinforced ball that floats around in the molten core of the earth itself.

      • problem here, is your entire WORLD being reduced to ruins and your entire civilization, nation, culture being, for all intents and purposes, destroyed is the kind of thing that, if you DO manage to survive…well..im betting the survivors are either Stoneaged/set back hundreds of years (catastrophic damage to both infrastructure and governing bodies), or decide to make VERY sure that they are never threatened by any alien entity, hostile or not, ever again, no matter what the cost.

    • I was under the impression most of the fight’s taken place off of earth main. Scion might’ve destroyed a continent, but even that shouldn’t be enough to kill dragon.

  36. Quick question Wildbow- the alternate dimensions the entity can access, are they all just differing configurations of matter, (ie, every possible world that could exist under our own laws of physics) or do some of them have their own alien laws of physics?

  37. Hrm.

    “I’d spent it all. Too much, pushing it too far. The well Doormaker drew from in using his power had just run dry.”

    So, umm, the big question now is…

    Do shards draw power from their source?

    Even the third party shards were incorporated into Eden’s body, connected…

    • I’m pretty sure that every Shard was given its own power supply, rather than being connected directly to the Entity. We’ve seen that big things from Scion cost him energy, lifespan, whatever, but there was never a mention of even those same powers used by mortals costing him anything. Plus it would be pretty stupid to hand out powers to lesser beings to test while still powering them with your own life force, because monkeys playing with things they cannot comprehend generally aren’t the most efficient and reserved.

      • I have the impression that though Scion is losing his force, there is some mechanism in the shards that collects energy: I distinctly remember something like that. I mean, the entities need a way to make the Earth go kaboom: they’d need to collect energy at SOME point! Otherwise their cycle reproduction would be a perpetual motion device.

      • I’m looking at the construction of the sentence here.

        “The well Doormaker drew from”


        “The Doormaker’s well which he drew from”

        It would be pretty funny if Taylor just beat Scion by siphoning all the gas out of his tank.

        • I consider that one of the “possible victory” scenarios.

          Another one is that she sent Foil to her weapon that’s suppose to attack the Zion-entity to break through the barrier. And lost power or not- she was only buying time for THAT team to finish. Defiant’s there. And I’m sure he and some of the other Tinkers will quickly figure out what the goal was.

          The weapon’s been made. There’s no way in HELL they wouldn’t use it now.

          It’s actually entirely possible they *did* use it, and that’s why Doormaker’s power shorted out. Others might follow suit shortly.

          • Please oh please oh please let this be even the slightest bit correct. Please.

            With that said: Doormaker is a Cauldron cape, and thus an Eden shard. The fact that he had a “pool” to begin with speaks to his passenger’s status as dead.

    • From Scion’s Interlude:

      The focus changes. An interplay of communications, one bouncing off the other, as they designate realities. Each shard needs one, some shards need to cluster and reside across multiple realities. They draw on these worlds for power, for energy, and thus fuel the techniques they have been coded with.

      They will reside in other worlds, uninhabited worlds, and they will remain cloaked and concealed in areas this new host species is unlikely to explore.

      One shard is capable of settling in a grouping of near-identical worlds, drawing energy from all of those worlds at once.

      So if Doormaker’s well has run dry, she’s drained at least one, possible multiple worlds of energy. Alternatively, it might be possible that Doormaker’s shard simply can’t tap into the world this fast, and she’s burnt out its reserves, and it’ll gradually recover.

  38. So maybe this is far fetched, maybe not, but I have an idea…

    What if Taylor becomes the second entity? She is becoming more and more in tune with her passenger – human and alien combining into something different, evolving… into what?

    Perhaps Bastard is foreshadowing. I mean the biggest reaction Scion has had was when he thought he found a partner.

    Taylor still hasn’t had her second trigger event I believe – and we haven’t seen what a second trigger would do for someone so closely intertwined with their passenger.

    Maybe she triggers after TT does or something, gets the ability to remove and gather shards, and builds herself into a second entity that Scion can leave with.

    I’m reaching for the various means by which Taylor could become the second entity and coming up short, but I have a sense that this might happen.


    • The main reason Taylor had Panacea mess with her brain is because Number Man told her she had already triggered twice (probably in rapid succession inside the locker) and she was desperate for a power-up.

    • I think that Doctor Mother and the Number Man said that Taylor looked like she’d already had her second trigger very shortly after the first, probably from the trauma of suddenly being mind-linked to millions of alien, inhuman entities while still physically trapped. My guess is that the first trigger responded to her reaching out for anything outside the locker by connecting her to the bugs, and the second trigger responded to the bug connection by giving her the Thinker powers needed to actually understand and coordinate the whole swarm without going mad. And then the double-trigger resulted in a trip to the psych ward.

      Anyway, there might have been a chance of her being mistaken for another Entity when she was connected to 5000+ other shards and controlling them all, but I think that went away when the Doors stated closing and she was cut off from everybody more than 16 feet away.

    • SunGryphon, you’ll pay for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the EDGE!!! And you’ll pay for the whole computer, but you’ll only need the SCREEN!!! And you’ll pay for the whole internet connection, but you’ll only need the DOWNLOAD!!! You’ll pay for this welcome, because you’ll only need LESS GECKO!!!!

      You know what you get when a bull and a cow have themselves a cow without any hybridization? Wholey cow.

      We’re glad to have you though, and hope you stick around. Because you know what you get when you shoot into cattle with a machine gun? Holey cow.

      You should stick around, have a fun time, and weather the wait with us here in the comments. You know what happens when you assign a cow to work in the garden? Hoe-ly cow.

      And you know what you get when you pop in to say this is your first comment? You get welcomed, SunGryphon, to the comments.

  39. I wonder why Scion didn’t kill Taylor immediatly after he got his hand around her throat. Maybe he holds hopes of her becoming his second half?

  40. darkness induced audience apathy, ever heard of it?

    I hit that point sometime after Skitter became Weaver….. and frankly I can’t bring myself to care that so many characters are dead, I just want Scion to die so I can finally say I read the whole story.

    • Pardon me in advance, this is by no means a personal attack (internet anonymity hurr durr duh) but you happen to be the metaphorical straw that broke the camels back, as it were:

      What in the world could be the benefit of saying things like this? See, I’m biased already becqause I enjoy the story, the direction, and some characters, but I don’t see what the purpose of commenting with an unhelpful, unelaborative, unconstructive, and unneccesarily caustic remark could be.

      This is how I see it, correct me if anything seems off: you find a web novel on the internet. You read it, at some point presumably you become invested in it, then it goes awry in your point of view, so you…keep reading to satiate your masochistic tendencies? Look, Wildbow has been diligently writing this story (a rough draft, I might add) for over two years now. He has thousands of fans, a ridiculous wordcount (around 2 mil, if I’m not mistaken), an intricate backstory and world(s), and has /constantly/ been pumping this thing out. Week after week after week we are given an opportunity to see inside of this man’s head and even though he doesn’t believe it always hits the mark, it does so well enough to keep bringing back everyone (lovers and haters alike) to continue the tale of Taylor Hebert.

      Don’t get me wrongs, feel free to dislike it, be upset with it, or whatever, but my main point is: if you were doing what he does, how much would you enjoy criticism along the lines of “meh, I don’t care about this story anymore”? This is a rough draft, like, do you not see what a wonderful opportunity this is? HELP MAKE THE STORY BETTER! Don’t be a bitch about it, don’t be an asshole, all you have to do is say “I think things would work better if _ I am not pleased with _ and I think _ can be improved.” I mean, how hard is it to be polite about what you dislike? As an artist (that’s what writers are) criticism is our worst enemy and best tool. It lets us gauge what could be better, what is awful, and what is perfect.

      Tl;dr: if you are going to come to Wildbow’s comment section to express displeasure, do so in a way that can help the author possibly strike the right notes with you next time. Otherwise, get off of the computer and go play hopscotch or some shit;Worm is not for you.

      • On one hand, Ivy, I do agree with your assessment of this comment, it is clearly designed to be antagonistic. On the other hand, it does express a potentially viable complaint. While I do not personally agree with HPSD4’s assessment of the story or his aggressive commenting style, your own comment, probably exacerbated by you-know-who’s earlier behavior this month, is also, despite your preface, rude and unconstructive.

        A better way to state, or as I do, read, his comment would be, “Following Taylor’s decision to join the Protectorate, I have found myself caring less and less about the story and characters as the situation has gradually gotten worse. Though I still do want to see the payoff for all of the suffering that Taylor and her friends have had to go through.” Once you ignore the unnecessary antagonistic language, he makes a statement of opinion, as well as an expression of anticipation for the end of the story.

        My primary complaint, and this is my vent with regards to similar suggestions as well, with your comment, Ivy, is that it tells him to stop reading. Telling someone to stop reading something that they have spent considerable time with, as anyone who has read past the Leviathan arc has, is irrational. The expression, “Time is Money,” can be justified both literally and metaphorically. Any use of time comes at the expense of everything else that we could be doing and we as humans are psychologically wired to attempt to justify any expenditure (just ask somebody why they have so many, clothes, shoes, hats, videogames, books, etc). Think about it, have you ever picked up a book and stopped reading it halfway through? At least for me, it is nearly impossible, I want to get the emotional high that comes from having the important plot and major subplot points completed.

        This is not a means to justify HPSD4’s terrible commenting style, just to give a different way of looking at it and to provide my own opinion with regards to the “just stop x-ing y” suggestion.

        • All valid points. I appreciate your input. Honestly never thought about it that way. And yeah, the you-know-who debacle has me kinda on edge so pardon any and all unnecessarily aggressive language. I just don’t see the purpose of being a dick about somebody’s life work, while they are still working on it. Buh.

    • I know a little bit about what you mean. I started cheering for the world’s destruction back when Bonesaw nabbed Blasto. I only cleared that off the shit list after Blasto was finally allowed to die and the S9 were finally defeated.

      Right now, you probably really want to see Scion get what he deserves. Not sure if that’s really how it’ll work out, but we can hope all the same. By the way, is this your first comment upon catching up?

  41. Oh, man. If only Hookwolf was still alive.

    Hookwolf + Jack Slash + Foil = Thousands of invisible cutting blades that can go through anything. Even Scion would be pretty boned if he got nailed with that, given how he goes out of his way to dodge Foil’s attacks.

    • That assumes that Jack’s effect can act to extend Foil’s power, and that’s a big if. It’s not clear to what extent Jack is actually translating the properties of the blade over distance. For example, what would happen if Jack used his power with a poison-coated blade. If his power is purely transmitting kinetic force, then neither the poison nor Foil’s effect would work through it.

      Either way, it almost certainly wouldn’t work with Hookwolf. IIRC, it was shown that Golem couldn’t use his power through Hookwolf ‘cos Manton Effect. And if he can’t, neither can Foil – she’s never demonstrated any ability to charge *people* with it.

  42. I feel bad for Danny, regardless of whatever happened to him.

    Btw, didn’t Echidna, Chevallier, or someone else have an interlude where they looked at a bunch of capes and saw that Skitter and Grue were on an equal level above most others?

    • Echidna’s interlude, she noted that Eidolon, Grue and Skitter were on a level above the other capes, like capes were above people who could have powers but didn’t.

      • Which was presumably another indicator that she already had a double-trigger event, because it couldn’t have just been power level or others would have shown up, and we know that Skitter and Grue get their shards from one source and Eidolon from the other, leaving second triggers the main if not only possible commonality.

        • Forgive me if that has been brought up already, but something kinda hit me after reading that; there are no cases of third triggers.

          Each entity only gives you a single shard. Triggering twice means you have both Scion and Eden’s shards. Which is why it’s so rare, since Eden’s shards are largely dead, and probably have tougher requirements to activate and merge with hosts.

          Which makes me wonder what shards Taylor ended up with. Admin+Admin comes to mind.

          • I don’t think triggering a second time gives you an extra shard. It refines the abilities you got from the first shard – presumeably because the shard realizes that the host is in danger, and it needs to reassess the abilities and limits it has placed on it’s host based on what knowledge it has collected.

          • I may be wrong, but I don’t think you get an extra shard when you second trigger, Scion’s or Eden’s. I believe it was explained as simply redefining and surpassing some of the limits built in your shard.

          • You don’t get an extra shard when you second-trigger. Your shard takes a look at what restrictions it has on it, and refines them to better strike the balance between “stronger power” and “intact host.”

          • Interesting theory, but idk. Eden’s shards are consistently described as “dead” – are they even capable of budding off?

            I figured that the two trigger limit was more of a capacity issue: the human body can’t hold more than that.

            It’s interesting to note that both GU and Eidolon were limited to controlling three powers/shards at a time, though…

    • If Eidolon got Eden’s avatar tether thing, and Taylor got Zion’s admin shard, what the hell did Grue end up with? As far as I can tell, his shard has something to do with sensory deprivation/blocking and mimicking powers? I’m trying to imagine that as a singular function like Eidolon’s, but it’s not really working. I’m also assuming that Imp’s power comes from a piece of Grue’s shard.

      • Actually Imp’s shard is one of the first Scion handed. We even get a vision of her triggering. The implication is that she got the shard that Scion used to censor memories of trigger events. No idea about Grue, though personally I think Echidna found him interesting simply because of the double trigger. Chevalier also mentions that second triggers look weird on his power-vision.

        Oh and Eidolon’s shard seems to be less Eden’s avatar tether and more the shard that she assigned to tap into other discarded shards, as mentioned in a scene from Contessa’s interlude.

        • >Oh and Eidolon’s shard seems to be less Eden’s avatar tether and more the shard that she assigned to tap into other discarded shards, as mentioned in a scene from Contessa’s interlude.

          Yeah, that’s what I meant.

          I missed the part where Imp got a separate shard. Thanks. I guess Grue’s power rating could’ve been due to a second trigger, but if that were the case wouldn’t you expect some other capes to register, too? Second triggers are rare, but when you get a whole bunch of capes together like that it seems odd that only Skitter and Grue (and Eidolon) would be so noteworthy among them.

      • I wondered if his power was actually disrupting and channeling/tapping nearby energies – remember Grue isn’t hindered by his own power (he sees and hears pretty much perfectly) and reduces the power of whoever he’s drawing upon. The trigger event was the passenger learning to tap into other shard’s links, although it can only tap one at a time.

        • That makes a lot of sense. It could also explain how that one Echidna Grue was able to teleport things through his darkness.

  43. Holy freaking monkeys. The last few pages I keep eyeing that “Last Page” link at the bottom of the post with dread, asking myself, “Is this the end? Is this really the last page?” Amazing story, absolutely amazing. By the way, the following sentence didn’t make much sense. Maybe it was Taylor going crazy, but it might need to be reworked:

    The dimension switches wouldn’t work forever, and I’d pretty much but there were options for future attacks.

    I’d pretty much what?

  44. Earlier, it occurred to me that a song would be appropriate. And Dragon is an AI who is a known Portal fan.
    And believe me, she is still alive.

    Was this a triumph?
    I’m leaving a note here: It’s Pyrrhic.
    It’s hard to understate my satisfaction.
    On the other hand…
    I did what we could
    Because I must
    For the good of all of us.
    (Except the ones who are dead.)
    Well, there’s no use crying over every mistake;
    We’ll just keep on trying ’til we run out of caoes.
    And the fighting gets done
    And we made a neat gun
    But when shot, Scion was
    Still alive.

    I’m not even angry.
    I’m being so sincere right now.
    Even though she tried so hard to kill me
    (And tear me to pieces
    And throw every piece into a fire.)
    If I burned, it would hurt because
    I could not help anymore.
    Now; these points of data make a terrible line
    We’re out of ideas; humanity’s out of time.
    So I’m glad I got burned;
    With all that Weaver has learned
    Maybe she can keep us
    Still alive.

    Go ahead and leave me.
    (I think I prefer to stay inside.)
    Maybe you’ll think of something to help us.
    (Maybe from Cauldron?
    Anyway, this is our fate.
    (It’s so delicious and moist.)
    Look at me still talking when there’s repairs to do.
    When I look out there, it makes me GLaD I’m not you.
    I have dragon-suits to run
    There is fixing to be done
    If I want to keep us
    Still alive.

    And believe me I am still alive.
    I’m fixing infrastructure, and alive.
    I’m fatalistic, but I’m still alive.
    And while we’re dying I’ll be still alive.
    But when we’re dead will I be still alive?

    Still alive?
    Still alive.

    Eat your heart out, Psycho Gecko.

  45. The usual disconnected thoughts:

    “I didn’t have Contessa, who I couldn’t see.” There’s Contessa’s power of win working right there: step (whatever) find a place Taylor can’t see you until Taylor is too distracted to look for you.

    Finally, someone dropped nukes on Zion … twice. Hope they went off. Not that it would have worked either way, really. You know you are in trouble when nuclear strikes are a stalling tactic.

    Instances of Zion using the power of win:
    1) The first time Taylor did a full-out ranged attack: “Every single ranged cape and every single cape with a gun that was at my disposal opened fire into the portals. The Number Man’s power coordinated their fire.” Analysis: probably an automatic reaction. However, the second such attack hit, so perhaps it was actually a conscious reaction.
    2) The combination of attacks surrounding the first stilling attack. Analysis: more likely a rage reaction.
    3) The deliberate targeting of Taylor herself. Analysis: without a direct and immediate threat, looks like another rage reaction.
    4) The destruction of the Foil-empowered razor. Analysis: probably an automatic response.
    5) The dodge of the Foil- and Ballistic-powered rock.

    “Rank and file, a dozen capes with electricity powers entered the area with the capes who’d succumbed to the stillness.” Resuscitation by living battery is a nice idea, too bad it didn’t work.

    “The solid space between worlds. A space that Scion had altered somehow, blocking off.” Nice try, but Zion put that vault door on tight.

    “The masters struggled the most, followed by the shakers and breakers.” So the ones who are used to being in control suffered the most by losing it? There are indications that is not actually how most people react, Stanford prison experiment for one. People who are used to a hierarchy, whether they are on top or not, seem to accept changes in status far better than elimination of the hierarchy itself.

    Tattletale talks several times. Too bad Taylor can’t understand it, because it was probably pertinent.

    Several other people came up with some remaining options, so here is one of mine:
    Have Foil empower Taylor just before Zion reaches her. Zion grabs the effect he has been trying to avoid the whole rest of the time. The problem with that is the Manton effect (and probably killing Taylor in the process).

    I have a bit of a problem with the Doormaker shutdown being due to lack of power.
    1) Previously, portals that were opened by anyone stayed open. Now, they are shutting down.
    2) None of the precogs warned Taylor of this. The precogs weren’t focusing on Zion, so they shouldn’t have been blinded to this effect.
    This only makes sense if this is a Zion-induced shutdown.

    And now, my wild-ass guess, in somewhat poetic language:
    —Nukes can’t stop Zion.
    —All the remaining parahumans in the world, working together, can’t stop Zion.
    —Glaistig Uaine showed that even the dead can be used.
    —Eidolon, Glaistig Uaine, and Taylor showed there were powers that could tap powers.
    —Eidolon’s tapping of living powers and Taylor’s horrendous apotheosis showed that powers could be repurposed.
    —Taylor’s bypassing of the Three Blasphemies, together with her use of Ash Beast, showed that as long as something is somewhat human, she can use it.
    —The only power on any Earth to match Zion’s was Eden’s.
    —And Cauldron couldn’t possibly have tapped more than a fraction of a fraction of Eden’s power.
    —“It’s human flesh,” the Number Man said. “Or close enough to be of little difference.”
    —Taylor only needs to break one last power barrier – to administer the dead as well as the living.
    —Taylor Administers Eden. Taylor becomes a living Eden-human hybrid, a living god. And there, the story diverges. Perhaps Zion will view as a greater abomination than anything before and expend his energy destroying her. Perhaps she will offer herself as a partner for Zion, on the condition that humanity be spared long enough to get away. Perhaps she will become another Worm and no longer care about humanity. In any case, Taylor is no more.

    • I think that the difficulties under Swarm-control are more related to trigger event than power. Most Masters from what we’ve seen (Taylor, Regent, Bitch) seem to trigger due to a lack of control and being oppressed by others, and get powers that let them regain control in some way. Thus they would have more stress from having their control taken away again, as it removes their support and puts them back in the situation where they triggered in the first place.

      As for Doormaster? It was said in the past that his portals would stay open when he was unconscious, but would collapse if he were dead. I think that it’s just like how Taylor’s bugs generally follow the last command she gave until she wakes up and revises things; he needs to think about it to open or close a door, but will continue supplying power to the doors he’s already opened until he closes them, dies, or runs dry. Meanwhile Scion has never displayed any power nullification abilities, even against Eidolon, so if he is capable of such a thing it must cost him a great deal more than even ‘I win’.

      • I was just about to comment on this. I have WoG backing up the “trigger related” deal. From the Weaver Dice Character Creation sheet (pardon my inability to quote):

        Not going to dish out details, but the gist of it is…
        Shaker – Environmental danger.
        Breaker – Abstract physical danger or harm, difficult to define pain or stress (not mental or physical.
        Master – Isolation, alienation, exile.

        So yeah, for Moord Nag (Master) to have a stroke due to being manipulated like she is, not entirely unusual, nor are the specific capes that are listed as having the hardest times.

        Full text here, if you are interested: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17WIAhETdtVGSKzFuDYOT2_6U_MMXmTGyzCziYhCwozo/edit#

        • I read it. It seems like a good game core. I like the things that make it dark – the opening image, the fact that the powers and disadvantages are skewed towards the negative, and the fact that the player can only rarely actually pick the details of their power. That last makes it quite different from most other game systems (Gamma World being partially similar) and gives it the flavor of “suck it up and deal with it” that tends to pervade Worm. Would be interesting to playtest, but since powers are so free-form and flexible, the player with dominant/convincing personality is going to have a significant advantage because they will be able to tweak how powers work by convincing the other players / GM.

          As far as the psychology point, I was making the point that, in more normal psychological circumstances, people who think hierarchically don’t react as badly to lowered status as people who reject hierarchy. Parahumans in Worm are, by definition, not part of “more normal psychological circumstances”.

          • I mainly just sketched out the rules. Others have been taking them and running with them. If you visit the IRC, there’s a sub-channel that’s dedicated to playing Weaver Dice and honing the system.

    • And nuking Zion almost certainly destroys his body completely. After which it is regenerated completely. It might even continue burning him away for a couple of seconds, before he becomes immune to it. So the end result would probably be almost as effective as two seconds with the Siberian, or like four with Alexandria.

      If, of course, she set off a real nuclear initiation rather than just dropping a warhead on him. I don’t think she knows how to do that.

    • A couple of things:

      1) Someone on another forum noted that there was no mention of the nTattletale talks several times. Too bad Taylor can’t understand it, because it was probably pertinent.

      2) You mentioned Taylor not understanding Tt, but it is hopeful to note that her understanding of tone, nuance and ability to think in more complex language increases with the decreasing number of capes she is controlling.

      3) Doormaker: They stayed open previously because his well hadn’t run dry. Now it has, and poof. As for the precogs, I would assume that their attention has to be focused, directed. I don’t interpret precog to mean omniscience.

      • Crap, not sure what happened there. Editing 1):

        Someone on another forum noted that there was no mention of the nukes being armed prior to having been dropped on Scion. Whether it was an overlook on Wildbows’ being tired / the story left intentionally vague or Taylor either not knowing or dropping something is unclear. I don’t think we can assume that the nukes went off though.

    • He’s reading Worm. The hardcover first edition limited run, with spidersilk-woven pages.

      He’s at a very tight spot, so he won’t care much about anything else until he’s done with it.

      For some reason he can only turn so many pages every couple days.

      • I sure hope not. We’re decades away from books printed on spidersilk being even a possibility. If that’s the format for the first printing, it’ll be a long time before Worm is printed.

  46. Just had another thought, related to my earlier one about Eden and Glory Girl.

    Maybe that’s why Taylor’s body-puppet powers were so limited, and she had to find workarounds. Her current body may be broken, but it’s still humanoid in shape. Her current body is clearly insufficient to handle such an amount of power.

    Maybe Panacea had not broken Taylor ENOUGH.

    Maybe, a second appointment is going to be necessary. Panacea’s going to have to do to Taylor, what she did to Glory Girl.

  47. As my website is a thread on a Song of Ice and Fire fanboard, where I pimped Worm a bit. If the author wants in, or anyone else has anything to add to get people to read, it’s a sizeable community with a few professional reviewers and authors (Mark Lawrence, Patrick Rothfuss, and Joe Abercrombie have all been sighted), so hopefully it’ll help spread the word.

  48. So….I was reading the Weaver Dice rules, and something occurred.

    Is there only one possible power/powerset linked to any one trigger event? If someone came up to you [Wildbow] and suggested a trigger event, would the power you responded with be the correct one and all other interpretations be off? Or is it more flexible?

    • It’s more flexible. Just as cauldron capes can get variance from any dose, a regular trigger event is affected by the nature of the individual. The passenger watches, in the time between the individual becoming able to trigger and their actual trigger event.

      • Almost makes me wonder what Doc Mom would’ve ended up with. She went a very long time without triggering, doing all kinds of interesting things.

        • She knew Contessa could get her out of most troubles. Eventually she kept several powerful capes close to her on a pretty much constant basis.

          Locked out of triggering exactly like Theo was for years. And then he triggered days/weeks after being abandoned.
          Her fault, really. For someone going the ends-justify-the-means scientist path, she was way too much of a scaredy cat.

          • Sometimes I wonder how things would have gone with, like, anyone else in Doctor Mother’s position. Because regardless of how good her intentions were, I think we can agree at this point that in the end she failed to accomplish pretty much any good.

            Massive overreliance on a single power with known gaps, while mass producing Trumps? Staunch refusal to share any information with anybody, simultaneously crippling your own organization and ensuring that nobody else has a chance when you fuck it up? Not bothering to actually keep track of the hundreds of superpowered monsters you scatter to the winds, many of which could casually destroy everything you’ve worked for? And finally, taking your last chance one-shot vial and just refusing to drink the damn thing until it gets broken? I mean, it was clear from the start that she wasn’t the best person for the job, but I’m having difficulty thinking of somebody worse.
            Bakuda maybe? I think even Lung could have dealt with things better than Doc Mom in the same position. Not to mention people with actual planning skills like Coil, Accord, or even Grue.

            I suppose that Jack in that position would have gone worse, but only because he would intentionally fuck the world.

            • I almost wonder if he would.

              I could imagine that given that much power Jack would have found the idea of destroying the world boring.

              A more “Jack” approach would have been to focus on making monsters to rival the Endbringers with enough power to take on Scion. He’d leave them with enough humanity to care about the people they’d once known but an irresistible hunger for destruction too.

              So basically an army of Echidnas.

              That I think would appeal to “Doctor Father Jack”

              • I think Jack would probably do an amazing job. He’s great at getting even the most disparate capes to work together and he’s driven by ego, by a need to reverberate through history as a legend. He was a little man driven by the need to be a big man. They don’t come much bigger than “the man who beat Scion and saved the multiverse”.

            • She did screw up pretty bad. But I wonder if Doctor Mother was way too paranoid about Scion going on his rampage way too early for him to be stopped.

              The problems with preparing an anti-Scion defence is that people talk and people leave clues behind. And with enough clues, Thinkers can pick up on them and they start talking and leaving clues as well.

              There’s practically no fool-proof way to keep information from leaking, especially if you had a Tattletale equivalent getting curious about that hypothetical anti-Scion defence.

            • I suspect even Tagg might’ve done better than DM, if not by much.

              Accord would probably do a poor job for exactly the same reason as Contessa – he’s reliant on his power for planning and he’d be left flailing when it comes to Scion.

              • Saint. He would do worse. I’m iffy on Tagg. It might’ve looked all nice and pretty on the surface but I’m sure his idiocy would’ve brought his plans down DM’s level of suckage.

  49. If you are still planning on releasing this as an e-book, book, rights to movies/games/tv shows etc. I word work heavily on one word that I see altogether WAY too often. I haven’t read anything past 15 at the time of writing, but I noticed a little while ago that Eidolon (like a 30-40 year old going by the lore) said the word:

    “Anyways,” holyballsthatmakesmemad. I apologize, I love everything about your writing but that one word /cringeworthy.

      • I rarely hear adults saying the word. I understand teenagers and twenty-somethings can say it, and it makes sense in context for them, but when adults say it, it’s just a little unrealistic. I never made contention of it being an actual word, but it’s like stripes on a tapir, you lose it after a while.

        • It might actually be one of those words that would make sense to narrow down to specific characters. I can’t see Taylor, Chevalier or Accord using it, but it’s totally an Imp, Regent and maybe even Tattletale word to use.

          I didn’t pick it up myself, but I remember a previous commenter mentioning that a lot of characters use identical, highly distinctive words and turns of phrase to each other.

          When reviewing, it might be worth pulling out each character’s dialogue and reviewing it side by side. that also could be more trouble than its worth. If you wanted to crowdsource something like that, I’m sure a number of us would be happy to chip in and help…

  50. A thought I had later:
    Even if Zion becomes inactive, one of the remaining strongest parahuman organizations is Teacher’s. He is bad news – organized, expansionist, completely self-centered, untrustworthy, enjoys killing powerful people, does not play well with others, has dimension travel abilities, is taking over the largest remaining known facility (Cauldron), is immune to Dragon, etc. The Wormverse is going to feel the pain from him.

    • Yep, and even discounting him, the Endbringers are still around and looking minty-fresh (Leviathan excepted, but we know they can heal back from almost anything).

      Plus the infrastructure on a lot of worlds is toast.

      Plus, the Yangban are free of Taylor’s control.

      Plus there’s still S-Class threats like the Sleeper and the Blasphemies and Glaistig Uaine around.

      As someone who’s psychotically optimistic might say “What we have here is a surplus of opportunities”.

      • I think we can say with confidence that the Simurgh will win. Either she will resolve the current problems in a way that leaves her on top, or the current problems were all intentional and things are going Just As Planned.

        What we can hope is that her plans include the survival and freedom of humanity, at least to some extent.

        • Yeah, I can think of only one way to beat someone like the Simurgh, and that’s to mock up something that looks like victory to her but either is actually something else (concealed by a suitable powerset) or is so twisted as to break her ability to define victory properly.

          . . . which is really hard to do without a clear picture of what she actually wants.

          By the time people had *any* idea what that was, other than “probably it’s kind of bad,” someone else was well into ending the world and nobody has time to care.

          I guess straight-up overpowering her precog would also work too but the causality gets weird there unless the more powerful precog has always already beaten the Simurgh and was just waiting for it to play out.

  51. Going back and reading the Eidolon interlude after this does make some stuff more clear to me. Eidolon said his well was running low and that’s why his powers were dwindling, and I just made the connection that the “booster shots” Cauldron was giving him was some way of restoring his well (I think). Also, later when he was fighting Zion with Glaistig Uaine, he got the power to drain other peoples’ wells to restore his own.

    Therefore, I’m thinking that Taylor does have some options here. She could try to open up a few last portals and maybe grab some booster shots if there are any left (or The Number Man to get him to make them for her), or possibly bring Glaistig Uaine to her to harness her Eidolon ghost and try to use his well-restoration power.

    Then again, I’m not too sure if she even knows about either of those options. Still, Glaistig Uaine is too powerful for Taylor to allow free (in case she tried to kill Taylor in retaliation), and Taylor could also use her/Eidolon’s dimension hopping powers they used against Zion to make sure she still has some mobility. Or even just have Eidolon bring in his own version of Doormaker’s power.

    Two final thoughts are that it sorta seems like the Simurgh is somewhat… protective(?) of Sundancer, in investment-like terms. Perdition, Trickster, and Echidna all already turned out their results for her, but Sundancer seems like she could still have some use for the Simurgh? Or maybe her power is just so overpowered that the Simurgh wants to make sure Glaistig Uaine/Taylor can’t harvest it from her corpse.

    And finally, the bit about the Three Blasphemies makes me wonder if they were created by a power like the Endbringers. More specifically, if Eidolon subconsciously used the same power that was used to create the Blasphemies in order for him to make the Endbringers, but for a much more single-minded purpose (creating the Endbringers just to fight/”put on a show” for Eidolon, versus the Blasphemies who might have been created to actually serve or exist and therefore needed to be able to communicate).

    • I’m pretty sure Eidolon’s “well restoration” is more him cannibalizing agents for fuel, and not something he could do to someone else. Cauldron’s booster shots for him were probably just the same formulas they always mix up, since they mentioned they weren’t going to give him any more when they could use them to make other heroes instead. So, like passenger tea, maybe?

  52. This was really cool.

    Tattletale’s trick, in particular, was sheer awesome. (And in some ways is a strong indictment of Taylor: like, yeah, if you want to stand a chance against Scion, you could get someone to give you brain damage and become a broken, transcendent god . . . or you could spend some more quality time with Tattletale and Bitch. You know. Whichever.)

  53. I especially like the middle part of this chapter, because, while everything before and after is insane combat war strategy tactical explosion superawesome doomfest, the part where Scion has Taylor by the throat and is targeting the Undersiders, and only the Undersiders, made the battle feel a lot more personal, and like things were heading toward full circle.

    Then the Undersiders made Scion cry, and he decided to stop playing to drama and start killing things again. 🙂

  54. Sweet! We find out about just what the heck the Ash Beast is! Cool! Now I’m even more confused about the Blasphemies though…are they like mini Endbringers? Pretty close to official confirmation that they aren’t human despite out unreliable narrator but what else can trigger? Yeah we had an AI trigger but Dragon was designed pretty close to human norm and the Blasphemies were described as sorta kinda humanish when we saw them at the meeting a while back. So they aren’t elephants, they aren’t dolphins, they aren’t monkeys/apes and they aren’t squid which are the only other critters I can think of on the planet that are considered smart enough that I would reasonably be okay with a trigger event from one. So what the hell are they?

    It’s good that she has degenerated so far that she has reached a kind of stability. A place where she recognizes that she can’t be trusted so she trusts the old her from a few minutes ago.

    RIP Othala and no-name pole bearer. Ash Beast will not be missed. Trickster will be missed a little but not enough to justify an RIP.

    I really hope that the shapeshifter she left to die wasn’t Weld…

    RIP Revel. I don’t want to give Lady Photon an RIP but I feel I should. I’m not too sure whether she deserves one after the things with Amy…

    It’s interesting how eager the Administrator is to fight it’s progenitor/overbeing. I wonder whether we are really reading Taylor, or the Administrator or some unholy fusion of the two. I’m leaning towards the last one I think.

    I’m torn between loving the confirmation that not only is my girl Hoyden alive but she is capable of slightly harming Scion and the fact that this puts her as a prime fighter for God!Taylor.

    RIP Alexandria/Pretender. Dead for good this time for the one who knows about the other.

    Wow I have to say I’m amazingly surprised that the African warlord who calmly asks for the sacrifice of thousands to feed her pet shadow is the first to fall to STRESS of all things…

    Hah! Yes! Foil my girl you do trump Scion! Congrats on being the only damn person besides Eidolon and God!Taylor to force him into using Contessa’s power! That’s what you get asshole for letting a dangerous power designed to kill your own race go. Ha!

    Endbringers, I salute you. Well done with the Big Damn Heroes moment guys!

    Damn…Tattletale definitely ranks of one of the single most dangerous people in Wormverse and all she can do is guess really well….finding Scion’s weak point. Holy fuck. Well done. I guess my half formed idea about him being too human and leading to his downfall was on the right track for the wrong reasons…I hope she pulled Bastard out in time.

    Oh come on Doormaker/Doormaker’s Shard! Decades of being good to go and you start losing the mojo in the last five minutes?

    • I don’t think it was Weld. Even if Taylor’s lost his name, I think the metal would feature more in her description than the shapeshifting.

      It’s mentioned up above that Masters trigger due to loss of control and the need to regain it. Moord Nag is a powerful Master, and being mind-controlled is probably jabbing her right in the trigger event.

      Taylor’s a powerful Master, too, and this whole thing can be seen as her slightly over-the-top reaction to her trigger. Loss of control? No problem, she’ll just get some elective brain surgery and then she’ll control EVERYTHING. (The irony being that while she’s controlling everyone else, she’s losing control of herself.)

      Given how hard Taylor’s been abusing Doormaker’s power to keep her hax links up – the portals don’t move, so she has to create a new one and banish the old every time she or one of her swarm moves, and she’s got thousands of people under control, plus she’s using the portals tactically – Doormaker’s very likely burned more power in the last five minutes than he did in decades of Cauldron use.

  55. Somewhere around the activation of the dimension gun, I remembered something I said much earlier: Being Taylor is a lot like being an Agent.

    When Taylor thought about putting Scion in a world where he’s the only one standing, I realized that’s not the future he’s aiming for. If he’s aiming at all, and not just crazy with rage, he’s aiming for a future where he has a partner again.

    “Honey, I’m home…”

  56. Oh my god.

    Scion is plowing through capes like tissue paper, glassing continents and shooting holes in the Bleed.
    To play on his level, Taylor kidnapped and brainfucked whole Earths worth of parahumans and threw them at him like caltrops. The ones who don’t get pancaked by the angry god are slowly falling apart from mental trauma. She cleared out at least one planet and stuffed it full of whole arsenals of nukes
    And Tattletale still manages to make the most horrifying move in this fight so far.

  57. Ya know,its funny how much a tone can affect the series.Homestuck characters arguably may have it worse than Taylor ,except maybe the mind deterioration thing (maybe-a POV of Gamzee and the brainwashed characters would be interesting),yet you barely notice because of the tone.Interesting how a tone can affect perceived light/darkness of a series.

  58. The dimension switches wouldn’t work forever, and I’d pretty much but there were options for future attacks. missing word after pretty much

    I’d left the civilians be. let them be/left them to be?

  59. is there fanart of what’s happening this chapter? I’m having a hard time visualizing it. (Nothing against Wildbow, just I’m not great at visualizing simple scenes of nprmal geometry, so these multi-portalled interactions are beyond me.) Thanks!

  60. There are only that few Nines left?
    And why did we not hear what happened with Doormaker? She nearly lost Clairy but not Doory? Isn´t he also around her?

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