Daybreak – 1.1

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Ward is the second work in the Parahumans series, and reading Worm first is strongly recommended.  A lot of this won’t make sense otherwise and if you do find yourself a fan of the universe, the spoilers in Ward will affect the reading of the other work.

Ward is not recommended for young or sensitive readers.

It was a second chance for humanity as a whole, and they’d gone and screwed it up from the start by coloring the city gold, of all colors.

The skyline was a half-and-half mix of skyscrapers and buildings in progress.  The latter were skeletons of tall buildings in the process of being filled in and put together, and hazard signs, tarps, the materials that made up the countless cranes and the painted letters on steel girders were all in bright yellows.  The completed skyscrapers were paneled with mirrored or reflective glass that were tinted in that same hue.  All put together, the light that bounced off of the city and reached skyward gave the clouds linings that were gold, not silver.

It was such a fucking shame that it had to be the case, intentional or not.

My phone was buzzing with texts.  I pulled it from my skirt pocket and looked while I walked.

Parental Unit 1:
BBQ tonight with everyone
My house
Can you come?

I glanced around to make sure I wasn’t going to walk into anyone, then stepped off the sidewalk, into a gap between two display windows that bowed out and forward.  In front of me, an assortment of people walked.  People in business clothes walked briskly, while some elderly people meandered.  A whole herd of kids were hurrying off to school.

I typed out my reply.

Me:
That’s short notice

Parental Unit 1:
Michael is swinging by
There has been talk of everyone getting together.
It seemed worth trying to arrange
If you can’t come that’s ok I understand

Me:
If I didn’t come, would be because of work. New semester & lots to do. Might come very late

Parental Unit 1:
Spur of moment thing that is almost pulled together
Only missing you
Not to guilt you ha ha

Ha ha.  She never liked using shorthand like ‘lol’.

No.  No guilt at all, mom.

Parental Unit 1:
Come if you can
Will save you dessert just in case

My typed reply was interrupted by a crash.  The stride of every person on the sidewalk in front of me and every person on the other side of the street was interrupted, as they stopped, heads turning.

I put the phone away, the message half finished.  The impact had been at the nearest intersection, where a smaller road cut through one of the downtown areas.  I had to push through the bystanders closest to the scene to get there, and I could hear the victim’s wail of distress before I was halfway through.

A car accident.  There were no injuries, and I couldn’t see blood.  Nothing suggested that anyone had died.  Not that anyone would have guessed by the sounds the man was making.

A teenager stood outside her car, the front corner and passenger-side mirror trashed.  She’d hit one of the pillars that lined the street.

An older man was doubled over, but he was on the far side of the pillar, not a location that suggested he could have been hit.  He was elderly, with gray hair that still had color in it.  Two people had already drawn close to him, supporting him while he knelt, rocking slightly in place.  The sound he made was the heartbroken, strained sound that people made when they couldn’t even draw in a full breath.

Such shitty, shitty bad luck, that he’d been here when the collision happened.

‘Pillar’ was the wrong word, but the right word felt wrong.  ‘Monument’ implied something huge, but it was barely taller than I was, maybe three feet across at the base, tapering to two feet across at the top.  Plaques were recessed into three of the four faces – the fourth had come free and fallen after the collision.  Each plaque bore an etching of a face, a name, a date of birth, a date of death, a message.

I looked down the length of the one-lane road.  There were as many pillars as there were trees, and there were a lot of trees, enough that the sunlight that peeked past them was dappled.   This pillar was one of what had to be over a thousand that had been set throughout the city by now, punctuating quaint streets and surrounding parks.  Places that were nice.

They were part of an initiative by an independent cape, a hero turned rogue, helping out.

There could easily be a thousand more of these pillars before the year was over, that number repeated every year thereafter, and if that work continued for another fifty or a hundred years, there wouldn’t be a pillar for one percent of the people we’d lost.  Not even if ‘we’ were just the people who hailed from the northeastern U.S..

The girl who’d been driving the car had a thousand-yard stare as she faced down the small crowd.  She looked like she’d just hit a real person and reality was sinking in.

The wailing stopped.  People were consoling the old man, some shooting hard looks at the girl who didn’t seem to be registering much of anything.

“Hey,” I called out.

She didn’t seem to register that I was talking to her, as she stared at the lower portion of the pillar that had crumbled, stone chunks broken away, cracks webbing across the surface.

“Are you okay?” I asked her.

She nodded, said, “I’m so sorry.”

The old man looked up at her.

People in the crowd were staring, apparently angry on the old man’s behalf.  One hapless teenager and thirty or forty very upset people.

“Listen,” I told her.  “Stay close by, okay?  I’m sure someone in the crowd there is calling for help-”

Someone in the crowd raised a hand to get my attention.  They had a phone to their ear.

“-They’re calling for help.  They’ll be here shortly.  Don’t go anywhere, you can explain what happened, alright?”

That seemed to get through to her.  She nodded again, retreating to her car, apparently to sit in the front seat.  Good.  That was handled.

Until she stopped at the door, turned around, and addressed the old man and the crowd, “I’m really goddamn sorry I broke your thing.”

The grieving man rose to his feet, stepping forward at the same time.  He pulled away from the supporting hands of the people around him, his face contorting.

I stepped in his way, my arm out.  He pushed forward, and I caught him in a half-hug with one arm, stopping him.  He reached out and tried to push me aside, and I caught his arm.

He was a guy, but he was an elderly guy.  It wasn’t much of a contest.  The moment he met resistance, he sagged, and I did what I could to keep him from outright collapsing as he slowly sank to his knees again, sobbing openly.

I took the opportunity to turn him a fraction so he wouldn’t be looking at the girl or the pillar as he knelt there.

In the background, that girl seemed to flounder in shock, useless, not sure what to do with herself in the face of this moment of violent grief.   She looked at me, but I didn’t want to say anything that might agitate the man I was dealing with.  She looked to the crowd, and she saw only angry stares.

I wasn’t sure what she’d seen, if it was a motion from someone, a particular emotion on a particular face, but she found the reason to get moving again, getting into the car, slamming the door behind her.  The man I was holding jumped at the sound.

The man stopped resisting altogether.  It had been a fast enough change in attitude that I had to wonder at what he would have done if I hadn’t intervened.  Shouted in her face?  Grabbed her?  Would he have lashed out and struck the girl?  If he would’ve gone so far as to use violence, would it have been relentless, requiring people to pull him off, or would he have stopped the moment he was interrupted?

I gradually relaxed my hold on him.

The crowd, too, seemed to realize that the situation had mostly de-escalated.  The girl was in her car, the old man wasn’t an apparent danger to himself or others so long as I was here.  That was enough for the assembled group to start breaking up.

I stepped back, hands partially raised in case he started forward again, and to enable me to act if he seemed like he might fall.  I couldn’t just say the pillar would get fixed, or that things would be okay.  The old man hadn’t shed tears for the pillar.

I didn’t want to say ‘sorry’, and echo the kid in the car.

I almost asked if there was anyone I could call.  I stopped myself when I realized the answer could be no.

“How about we get away from here?” I asked, keeping my voice soft.  “We can go grab a coffee or tea, and you and I can talk.”

The man looked at me, as if just now realizing there was a person right next to him.

“It’s got to be better than violence,” I said.

“I don’t – I’m not violent,” he said, sounding very small.

The heads of the crowd turned in reaction to something outside my field of view, and the old man’s head turned as well.

Behind me, it seemed.  A man in costume.  It was a good outfit, too, more in the dollars that had been put into it than in terms of looks, but that was personal opinion.  Partial discs of metal seemed to intersect his body, forming a look where he looked like a blender caught mid-whirl, axe blades and metal rings jutting from his breastplate, armguards, leg armor, and even his face, with blades running along one brow and cheekbone to frame one eye.

There were heavier blades at his hands and feet, such that it looked like he shouldn’t be able to walk or even stand without difficulty.  As it was, he had one end of his long-handled axe resting on the ground, the length of it bowing beneath his weight as he perched on it, one arm outstretched to one side, hand gripping the head.  He was crouching on the thing while it rested at a diagonal, in a way that looked like he’d wipe out if the end of the weapon lost traction on the roadtop.

Fuck me.  Not what we needed right now.

The old man started to stand.  I helped him.

“Can I do anything to help?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” I said.  “Minor accident, we’re just waiting for cops to come and assess things, take numbers.”

I was barely done speaking when someone in the crowd said, “We don’t need you.”

I watched him glance over the small crowd, looking for the person who had spoken.  He kept looking out for the speaker as he told us, “There’s some police on their way.  With all the reconstruction and the lower priority, they’re trying to get through the traffic right now.”

“That’s good to know,” I said.  “Thank you.”

He nodded.  He looked deeply disturbed by the one comment he’d heard.  I caught a glimpse of the emblem on his sleeve.  A badge, not a personal symbol or icon, but part of the team he belonged to.  Advance Guard.  They were a team with an agenda to push.  The world had ended, and they were pushing hard for a better and different tomorrow.

I could respect that.

I could also cringe inwardly at the fact that our superhero here was implicitly sporting a ‘move forward’ ideology when that was the last thing this old man probably wanted to hear with a freshly reopened emotional wound.  Time and place.  Unfortunately, because of the team emblem the cape had on his breast- a stylized figure holding a shield shaped like a greater-than symbol, the guy represented that ideology every time, in every place.

He walked over to the car, still watching the crowd, and he exchanged a few words with the girl in the driver’s seat.  I was glad for that, at least.  I had my hands full with the old guy and nobody else was stepping up to do it.

The cape stepped away from the car, looked at me and the old man.  “He’s okay?”

“The pillar.  It’s for his-” I started, looking at the plate on the pillar for a clue.

“Son.  My son,” the man said.

“My condolences,” the hero said.

The man tensed.  They were words that made it worse, not better, somehow.

Go,” someone in the crowd said.  A different person than the last.  “We’re fine.”

The people that had been splintering away were holding position now.  I could see the hostility.  The summer heat was holding out through the start of September, making things just a little more uncomfortable, tempers a little shorter.

“Yeah,” the hero said, more to himself.

It put me in mind of a scene from the history books and the grainy old news footage of an event from the mid-80s.  Back in the day, when the superheroes could be counted on the fingers of both hands, there had been a riot over a sports match.  The anger and chaos had outweighed the respect the rioters had for the hero that had stepped in.  Someone had struck out with a blunt object and hit the hero.  He’d died before he reached the hospital.  We’d called him the second cape after Scion, but he might well have been the first, after all.

Did I think that would happen here?  No.  Too small a group, the emotions were different, there wasn’t enough chaos.

Still, the general setpieces were here.  The barely restrained emotion.  The lack of care.  The ill-timed intervention of the man in costume.  The lack of respect in particular was in play.  For Vikare, it had been because so many people hadn’t truly believed the powers were real, and he had apparently held back to avoid scaring people.

For this cape from Advance Guard, it was the opposite.  He’d gone all out, we’d gone all out.  Capes still hadn’t been able to stop the world from ending.

We were back at the beginning in so many ways.

“Yeah,” the hero said again.  He seemed to wrestle with what he was going to say next before deciding on, “I’m going to go.”

I wanted there to be people in the crowd who spoke up.  I wanted there to be other things besides this sentiment of hostility and rejection.  For this guy and for all the rest of us.  Were there any people who wanted to say something positive?

Nobody.  Or if there was anyone, they were afraid to speak out against the herd.  I didn’t want to leave it like this.

“Nice response time,” I said.

He turned my way and raised an eyebrow.

“You showed up quick.  It was impressive.”

He nodded, studying me as if trying to find the catch.  “It’s what I do.”

I wanted to say something more, but I didn’t want to push my luck.  It would have been nice if he’d been less dismissive when I was throwing him a bone.

“Take care,” he said.  “Cops are on their way.  I’ll go let them know what’s up.”

“Thanks,” I said.  “You take care too.”

He stepped down from the pole of his battleaxe and set foot on the road.  Pavement splashed as if he’d stepped in a puddle.  More splashed and rippled as he moved his axe in a circle around him.

When he took a step and moved, it was faster than I could track.  I could see the splash that followed behind, a cresting wave that quickly settled, leaving only a faint wavy pattern in the road as it dissipated.

I’d spoken against the herd.  I tried not to pay too much attention to them or give them any excuse to push back against me, instead turning my attention to the old man.

“I’m offering tea or coffee, my treat.  We can talk it out, or talk about something else entirely,” I told him.  “As soon as the police are done.”

He still looked like he was carrying that fresh pain, in expression and posture.  He flinched some as he looked at his son’s memorial pillar.  He gave the girl in the car a hard look, then seemed to let the anger out, sagging.

She was in the driver’s seat, both hands and forehead on the wheel.

“No,” he said.  “You’ll have some place to be.  I shouldn’t keep you more than I have.  I’ll be fine.”

“Work,” I said.  “They wouldn’t fire me, especially if I explained.  I’d get in trouble, maybe, but I wouldn’t mind much.  Job is… a seven out of ten fit.”

“Seventy percent is a lot better than some are getting,” the man said.  “Keep that job.  I’ll manage now.”

I glanced at the girl in the car.  She had barely moved.

“You’ll leave her alone?” I asked.

The old man heaved out a sigh.

“She’s a kid who made a stupid mistake,” I said, in case he was trying to come to a decision.  “You don’t have to forgive her, but you can’t go and hurt her or anything.”

“I wouldn’t have…” he said, and he didn’t finish the sentence.  Because he might have, or because he didn’t know what he wouldn’t have done.

“Yeah,” I said.  “That’s good.”

“Go.  Work.  Don’t let me keep you,” he said.  “I’ll be straight with the police there.”

“I’ll stick around for the cops and then duck out.”

The police cars had appeared at the edge of the block, but with traffic on the narrow road slowed by the girl’s car, they’d stopped there.  The cars couldn’t progress, but the police were getting out.

One officer went to talk to the girl, another to the old man.  I waited around a minute, then gave a statement and my info.

As in most things having to do with law or bureaucracy, it took longer than it should have, for a relatively simple process.  I hurried to the high school once they were done with me, and I arrived rather late.

High school.

We still weren’t at the point where we had nice lawns and yards.  This schoolyard was no exception.  We had grass and fields, yes, but it was coarse and the ground beneath wasn’t usually landscaped.  The area was large with large trees left untouched in the corners, chain link fence separating the field from the roads on two sides, the grade school formed the third boundary to the west, and the high school formed the fourth boundary to the north.  The ground was uneven, more hilly than flat, and there were still large stones here and there, and a seemingly out of place play structure for the grade schoolers.

It was an odd thing.  So often, nature was transplanted into a city, and it was new and inauthentic, made overly neat.  Trees, lawns, flowers.  Here, the nature was rough and unpolished, the city itself new and somewhat artificial in how overly tidy it was, untouched by time or elements.

A sports field in the middle section separated the grade schoolers’ area from the theater.  It was a stage in the old Roman style, slabs of stone set into the ground like stairs, stepping down as they got closer to the stage, where the platform sat.

Hundreds of students had gathered on the stone seats, and more stood around the top edge of the theater, watching and listening.  They were our survivors, our next generation.  Not so different from the crowd I’d had to deflect earlier.  A third of them still wore the very simple clothes that were handed out with supplies in the tent cities.  Some had even taken to strategically ripping and dressing up those clothes.  I didn’t fault them for it.  It was hot.

A speaker carried the voice to those of us on the top edge.

The teachers of the school were on the stage, but they weren’t speaking.  It was a series of community leaders and volunteers instead.

“…And I make that a guarantee to you,” a man in an orange vest was saying. “If you take those credentials, bring good shoes and work clothes, and if you don’t screw around, you can walk into any lot and you can be working within the hour and get your pay by that day’s end.  Good pay.  You can do whatever you want, after school, but you’ll always have this as a fallback, you’ll have the security of being able to walk into a lot and have a job waiting for you.  We can always use more hands.”

Not enough seats at this school either.  High school was and might well continue to be a half-day thing.  The people on the stage were telling the kids their other options for the other half of the day.

I spotted Gilpatrick on the stage.  He wore a black t-shirt and gray pants with boots, and in the summer heat he was sweating a fair amount.  He had no hair on his head, but he had a five o’clock shadow well before five o’clock, bushy eyebrows and thick hair on thick forearms.  Everyone else looked like they were trying to make their best pitch, in dressing nice and wearing smiles.  Gilpatrick looked like he was trying to scare his prospects away.

Some of the non-prospects were standing around the upper edge, looking down at the new students and the stage.  Most were senior students who’d picked what they’d do with their half-days last year, now waiting to induct the others.  Some were siblings of those seniors, or younger friends.  Others were like me, miscellaneous staff for miscellaneous roles.

I joined them.

“We wondered if you’d bailed,” Jasper said.  He was very much a teenager, with acne, thin chin-hair and black hair that had had product in it, that had turned spiky from sweat.

“Delayed by a car accident.”

“Everyone’s okay?” he asked.

“Yep.”  Insofar as anyone is okay.  “Has Gil done his five pounds of gun thing?  I was kind of looking forward to it, it’s so corny.”

“I think he’s saving it for the deeper explanation later.  He mostly talked about how he was going to make it his objective to make people quit, he isn’t going to pay anyone, job prospects suck, he’s going to make people march in the heat and the cold for miles while carrying unreasonable burdens.  The ‘five pounds’ speech isn’t bad, you know.  It gets through to the kids,” Jasper said.  For all that he was defending the speech, he smirked a bit.

“It gets through to most,” Cubs said.  He was a big guy, tall, broad-shouldered, fit, with his hair cut short.  He thought for a second and then amended his statement, “some.”

“Us,” Jasper said.

“Guess so, yeah,” Cubs said.

I didn’t miss the glance he shot at the girl at the far end of our little sub-group.  Cami wore an expression I might have termed ‘resting angry face’.  Perpetually pissed.

All three of them, and many other members of the group besides, were dressed in similar shades as Gilpatrick.  Blacks and grays.

“I’m going to duck into my office,” I said.  “I want to check my email and make sure it’s nice and neat if anyone stops in.”

“Only a short bit before we migrate over,” Cubs said. “One more speaker.”

“I’ll let Gilpatrick know you’re there,” Jasper said.  He extended a fist.  I rolled my eyes and instead of tapping it with my own, pushed it away.  Jasper smiled.

My destination wasn’t in the high school, but was across the street.  It was an open building with a partial second floor.  The main floor was hardwood, with mats folded and piled up at the side.  A few more senior students were already there- some were just entering or leaving the showers.  It seemed like a good idea for cooling down, but I didn’t have the time.

I waved at some of the seniors in passing and headed up the stairs.  The stairwell ran up one wall, unbounded by barriers, so it offered a view of everything below.

My office was the closest thing I had to a home, in this world.  It was narrow and long, with a bookshelf at the right wall, a desk, computer and chair.  Some boxes were piled up in the corners.

The bookshelf was my accomplishment.  My fingers ran along the spines of books and other texts.  Many of the works were collections of articles or official documents, bound by hand with a three-hole punch, rings, and patience.

Parahuman science.  University textbooks, old workbooks with notes- not all mine.  There were important articles, copied to plain text and printed out, with a lean toward the sciences, the nuances, the big revelations and reveals.

Official files.  Classification documents.  Then there were the notes for case one, case fifteen, case thirty-two, case fifty-three, case ninety.  The ‘cases’ were the events the PRT had deemed of interest.  Riddles both solved and unsolved.  My collection there was incomplete, but some were official enough to be confidential, and I’d never had that access.  Others were closed, the mystery deemed nonexistent or something to be folded into popular knowledge.

I had other files.  There were names on those files.  Whittler, Bilious, King Crow were some of the many on the shelf I’d deemed ‘independents’.  For teams, there were ones like the Ambassadors, Green Tea, N.N., Ossuary, Empire Eighty-Eight, and the Clans.  I’d made it a priority to collect those.  I worried we might need them.

On the bottom shelf, I had my magazines.  Costumes Under Clothes, Gleam, Heroines, Masque, Shine On.  Some of the boxes in the corner had my latest haul.  Much of it would be duplicates.  Maybe I’d give some of them out to seniors.

I could still smell a faint mildewy smell, and promised myself I’d identify the source when I had time.  I’d left the window open, and the weather was warm, which was helping.  A lot of this was what I’d salvaged from the office back home; I’d retrieved it from boxes and filing cabinets and hauled it here over a dozen trips.  I’d rigged up tarps to keep the water off that corner of the house, but some of that moisture had been coming up from below.  I would have to find the source of the smell and transcribe the text before throwing it out.

Maybe I could get Gilpatrick to get a kid who needed punishing to do it for me.

Information was too important.  Even if that information was from the glossy, superficial magazines about superheroines that had been pitched to girls just like me eight to ten years ago.

Faint smells aside, I could draw in a deep breath and feel muscles from shoulder to calf relax.  This was more of that seventy percent part of the seventy percent fit where the job suited me.

That thirty percent, though.  I wouldn’t stay here forever.  I hoped.  It had been a thing that I’d hoped would look good on my college applications.  That hadn’t worked.

I could hear the commotion as the mob of kids started coming in downstairs.

I walked over to my computer and booted it up.  It booted up instantly, but the connection to the internet took a while.  I opened a notebook and began searching through it.

I found the name before the internet succeeded in connecting.  I closed the conversation from the day prior and waited for the internet before composing an email.

To: Deferent.I@Mail
Subject: Damaged pillar
I was a bystander when a car crashed into a pillar on Small St, near Basil Ave.  Thought I’d let you know it’s damaged.  Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help or any info I can provide.

Thanks for what you do.

I sent it, then stood, walking to the window.  I didn’t have much of a view- mostly the side of a building and a bit of the alley.  If I stuck my head out the window, I could see a sliver of the school and some of the street.  Students were milling around, some undecided on where they were going.

My computer chimed.

From: Deferent.I@Mail
Subject: Re: Damaged Pillar
I already heard.  Advance Guard were on the scene and let me know.  Will have it fixed tomorrow.  Thanks.

That would be fixed soon then.  I thought the things were an eyesore, really, but people clearly felt like they were important.

I was caught up in checking recent events online when there was a knock on the door.

Gilpatrick.

“Shouldn’t you be handing out guns to kids?” I asked.  “Or giving a hard-assed speech that sends them running?”

“I wish,” he said.  “Can’t give them guns until later.  Give me a week, we’ll see how many of them I can get rid of.  Can you show your face downstairs for me, so they know who to look for?”

“Sure,” I said.  “Let me get organized and I’ll be right there.”

He didn’t step out of the doorway.  His arms remained folded, and he had paper in one of his hands, held where I might not notice it.

“…Actually,” he said.

“No,” I said.  I gave him a stern look.  “No.  Don’t ‘actually’ me.  Please.”

“Do you know anything about Fume Hood?”

I raised one eyebrow, keeping that stern look otherwise in place.  “Fume Hood?  No.”

“She apparently went by another name, a while back.  Poison Apple?”

“Then I do know stuff.  She went by Bad Apple,” I said.  “And a few other Nom De Pommes.  I know some of her story.  She was controversial.”

“She’s a hero now,” he said.  “She’s getting announced as one member of a new team today.”

I nodded slowly, taking that in.  “That could be bad.”

“It’s looking like it will be,” Gilpatrick said.  He revealed the papers.  “Can you brief my seniors?  Fill them in on who she is?”

“That I can do,” I said.  I approached him and took the papers.

He didn’t let go of them.  He opened his mouth.

“No,” I said.

“I’ve got too many new kids,” he said.

“No, Gilpatrick.”

“My hands are full.  I don’t have enough seniors to manage them all.  I don’t want this to be fun or even tolerable and that requires more supervision.”

I let go of the paper, backing up.  “No.”

“I won’t force you,” he said.  “People connected the new heroine Fume Hood to her old persona.  They’re upset.  Enough that they’re hiring people to kick up a fuss, and we don’t know just who or what’s going to happen.”

I thought of the people who’d been in the crowd when the pillar had been hit.  I could picture it.

“Just that they’re hiring people?” I asked.

“From one of the more distant settlements.  Police know and are taking precautions, hero teams have been notified, but it’s messy.”

“Messy how?” I asked.

“Jurisdictions.  Our apple heroine is on a new team, announcing themselves in a new jurisdiction…”

“…It makes them look bad if they accept outside help or have other teams elbowing in on their big first day.”

“Something like that,” he said.  “Apple girl is getting a lot of serious hate thrown her way online.  If you can tell us anything about how she might react to this situation, or anything else, that’d help.”

“That I can do.”

He went on, “And if you could captain a squad of some new guys I’ve got from another school, let me know if they’re decent and trustworthy, and just do a bit of standing guard, giving advice and information to the officers at the scene, it would be a massive help.”

I gave Gilpatrick my best angry glare, hands on my hips.

“I won’t force you,” he said.  “Superiors are pressuring me to handle this.  If you say no then I’ll figure something else out.”

“You know I’m taking it easy with all this stuff.  I told you on day one I wouldn’t be one of your patrolers.  I’m only here to dispense some advice.”

“Yeah,” he said.

“I’m not frontline.  I can’t be frontline.”

“You’re a natural leader,” he said.

I shook my head.

“I really didn’t want to use Jasper.  He was joking about my speech, so I’m going to make him deliver it to the recruits,” he said.

I smiled, despite myself.  That would be partially my fault, for reminding Jasper.

“Can you do the briefing, at least?” Gilpatrick asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  I dropped my hands from my hips. “She really called herself Fume Hood?”

“Yeah,” Gilpatrick said.  “I don’t take many of the names seriously.  This doesn’t seem much worse.”

“It’s really terrible,” I said.  “A heroine calling herself a hood?  As in a gangster?”

“I think she has an actual hood as part of her costume.”

“I really hope so,” I said.  I sighed and looked at my shelves.  “Give me a second to review files?  I’ll be right downstairs.”

“Just one second,” he said.  “I’m going to have Jasper start with the recruits.  Try to be done before I send them scurrying off.”

I checked the papers.  Forum transcripts, some intercepted emails, some notes on Fume Hood.

I had a folder on my shelf.  Notes from home.  She was from Boston, among other places.  Itinerant.

There were a lot of newspaper articles.  She’d drawn a lot of attention once.  Everyone was supposed to be getting a second chance, and it seemed that people’s memories were long enough that she wasn’t necessarily getting hers.

I gathered everything together, and I headed downstairs.

Jasper was in front of an assembly of roughly a hundred kids.  Boys and girls.  Not all were ninth graders, new to high school.  Some would be refugees, their educations interrupted by the rather massive inconvenience of the world ending.

“…mostly long treks into the middle of nowhere to deliver supplies or check on things.  If we’re lucky, we get a car.  It’s not glamorous.  Seriously.  Run away,” he was saying.  He spotted me coming down the stairs, and a smile crossed his face.  “Once you’ve been with us for two years, you get one of these embarrassments and you have to be seen in public with them-”

He held up a gun with slide back and magazine removed, a bright red bike lock threaded through the bottom of the gun and out the top.

Jasper went on, “And you’ll be expected to clean it as well as the gun you use on the range.  You’ll have to treat it like a real, loaded gun.  That means you pretend it’s loaded, you don’t aim it at anything or anyone you wouldn’t want to destroy, you never leave it unattended, and so on.  We’ll drill it into your skull and frankly, we’re really hoping you make a mistake so we can kick you to the curb.”

The other senior students were dressed in their uniforms now.  Black clothes with some body armor worn over them, and the body armor was recognizable.  In places, flakes of the letters and symbols that had once been stenciled onto the armor panels in white were still visible, having survived the steel wool and turpentine scrub.  PRT issue, salvaged.

When they’d been trying to figure out what to do with the high school kids when there weren’t enough schools and seats for all of them, some idiot in the administration had come up with this.  Some teenagers could go help on farms, some could get trained in construction, some would work, the ones who could keep their grades up enough could take afternoon classes too, and so on.  There were sports teams and clubs.  Finally, there was the patrol group.  Us.

Maybe it wasn’t fair to blame it on an idiot in charge.  Maybe it was inevitable.  Some wanted to feel like they had power, when the capes had dropped the ball.  Some wanted answers.  We talked and ran errands pertaining to power stuff.  Some of the kids might go on to police, investigate, or study the power stuff, as more informed police officers.  Possibly.

This was the thirty percent I didn’t like.  The question mark.  The places this could lead, theoretically.  Places we were already starting to edge toward, slowly but surely.

“Less than five pounds of gun, if you even have a gun,” Jasper said, holding up the gun with the bike lock threaded through it.  He caught my eye as he said it and he had a gleam in his eye.  “Fifteen pounds of armor.  It’ll be twenty-five pounds of armor if you’re with us for the long haul.  These backpacks?  They’re heavy.  They’re miserable.  Twenty-five pounds strapped to you.  Food, water, first aid, tools.”

He holstered his gun and lifted up the bag with two hands, grunting a bit.

“Pay attention to those ratios.  Twenty-five pounds of stuff to support and help…”

He dropped the bag and gave it a pat.

“…A good bit of protection…”

He rapped knuckles against the armor he wore on his chest.

“…And possibly a bit of offense.”

He tapped the gun where it was in its holster, the bike lock draped down and resting against his leg

Gilpatrick stepped up beside Jasper.  “Good.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Students, if you’ll turn around to see the young lady on the stairs…”

The students did.

“…She’s our resident cape expert.  If you’re sticking with us here in patrol block, if her door is open, you can go ask her questions.  She knows her stuff.  If you’re not sticking with us and her door is open, you can go ask her questions and we’ll let you cut to the head of the line.  You’ll find her office upstairs and to the left.”

I hadn’t heard that part before.  Priority to people who weren’t part of the club.  I smiled.

We had more kids than we wanted or could use, even though we didn’t pay any wages until they’d been with us at least a year, and we did everything we could to keep them miserable.  Powers were compelling.  Too many had reasons for wanting to be here.

An unfortunate share of the students were here because they were angry.  Because the patrol block had been started up by some ex-PRT folk and Gilpatrick’s speech aside, a lot of people looked at the armor, looked at the guns, looked at how we touched on the power stuff and the portals, and connected the dots.

“You want to go brief my seniors?” he asked me, from the far end of the room, over the heads of hundreds of new students.

I gave him a mock salute, then finished descending the stairs, joining the seniors while he resumed outlining things for the new kids.  I motioned to the door, indicating for the group to follow.

A few of them were new, Gilpatrick had said.  I didn’t like how angry or naturally resentful some of them looked.  Cami was among them.

“New team is having its grand unveiling at one of the community centers,” I said.  “One member is Fume Hood.  She was a B-list villain, once upon a time.  She’s what we term itinerant.  Wandered from city to city, looking for opportunities or teams to join.  Petty robbery, grand larceny, mischief, vandalism, criminal mercenary work.  A lot of the time she was one of the low-rate hangers-on in a group that a bigger villain would hire to pull a bigger job.  You could even call her a professional distraction.  She started when she was sixteen, stopped at twenty-four or so.  She’d be twenty-nine now.”

They were listening intently, even the new guys.  That was good.

“As a villain, she went by Bad Apple, Poison Apple, Pomme De Sang, probably called herself Applesauce, I don’t even know.  I guess she wanted to corner the market on apple-related names so nobody would have something similar.  She spent a lot of time palling around with a biotinker called Blasto.  She kept going back to him to pair up.  Might have been boyfriend-girlfriend, even.  That ended when the Slaughterhouse Nine passed through Boston.  We don’t know what happened to Blasto, but we can guess it wasn’t good.  Poison Apple got a little reckless after that, even though she hadn’t met up with him in over a year at that point.”

I opened my folder and found one of the articles.  I laid it against the front of the folder and held it out so they could read it.

“She pulled together a group of some old teammates and new teenage villains and pulled a shopping spree, hit a mall and took what they wanted.  Heroes showed up, they ran.”

“Miscarriage,” one of the new people in the group said, reading from the article.

“Poison Apple makes globes in her hands.  One of the tricks she can pull with them is send them flying off in straight lines.  They explode on contact with hard surfaces, just enough oomph to knock you to the ground, and they create clouds of gas or splashes of liquid poison.  Usually enough to make you nauseous, a little bit feeble, more if you touch the poison in its liquid form.  Nonlethal and mostly nonviolent, most of the time.  Except this time, a pregnant lady was caught in the gas, or in the explosion.  She lost her baby, and it became a thing in the media.  Poison Apple turned herself in, partially because of the backlash she’d generated.  She was serving time for pled down charges of assault and battery when Gold Morning came around,” I said.

A couple of the angry faces in the group looked a little angrier.

“She did her time,” I said.  “She made a mistake, she paid for it as much as she was able.  We don’t have enough good jails and so she’s free, and it looks like she’s trying to do good.  That’s pretty decent, really.  She’s not the enemy here.”

“Isn’t she?” someone asked.  Their name might have been James.  They’d been around last year.

“The threat is the people targeting her.  They’ve recruited help.  We don’t know how much, but the intel Gilpatrick gave me said money changed hands.  You guys know the basics when it comes to capes, you can inform the cops if something comes up, you know her story, and you’ll be a few more people in uniform keeping the peace and giving protesters a little more reason to hang back.  If it gets bad, any real danger, you back off.”

There were a few nods.

There were also a few looks on a handful of faces that made me concerned.  Too heated, or too cold.  They weren’t the majority, but I wasn’t sure the majority was on Fume Hood’s side, either.

It put me in mind of the crowd and the broken pillar.  If it was just this, I might have been able to let it lie.  I could have accepted that the students here were among the angriest and most invested in the grittier side of the cape stuff.  That it was just them.

Except it wasn’t.  The old man, the girl who couldn’t drive, the crowd there and the response to the visiting cape… there was so much emotion bound up in things, I couldn’t trust that this was an isolated thing.

I couldn’t stand by and let this be the new normal, without any opposing voices.  Even if my voice was a badly biased one.

With the climate, both general and even the fact that it was hot and tempers would be short, it would be so easy for us to see another Vikare.

I glanced over my shoulder and through the door.  I saw Gilpatrick with Jasper and the kids.

Damn it, Gilpatrick.

“I’ll come with you,” I decided.  “We’ll do our part to keep people organized and keep the peace.”

What did it say about the state of things, if I was increasingly the voice of restraint and reason?

I turned my attention back to the squad.

“For those of you who’ve just joined us, my name is Victoria Dallon, and I’ll be your squad captain today.”

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385 thoughts on “Daybreak – 1.1”

    1. Awesome! I have been waiting for this for a while!

      I am already enthralled, and this is my first opportunity to read one of these as it is being written, since I am not quite caught up on Twig yet. Thank you for the great writing!

      1. And you called yourself Lillian. I… see. I’m torn between offering sympathies and backing away slowly, since I’ve read most of Twig myself.

          1. Speaking as one of those who haven’t read Twig yet, I’m quite happy that the statement was vague enough to not spoil anything. (I suppose normally the implication that something horrible happens to the character might constitute a spoiler, but I think having “by Wildbow” at the top of the page already gave that one away.)

    1. Interesting things to note in this chapter!

      * “Ward” – Glory Girl could’ve been thought of as a Ward but was actually never with the Wards, she was with New Wave.
      Also – she was in a mental ward in the hospital for something like 2 years.
      Plus, of course, the Wardens that she might join now, and the meaning of “ward”. Defending capes from “muggles”? The opposite? Stopping another earth from invading?

      * Victoria is apparently a cape expert in her new job. Obviously, any cape needs to know about cape life – but could it be possible that she has spent her 2 years as a blob of flesh to study parahuman science?

      * She named her mom “Parental Unit 1” in her phone. Not sure if this means anything. Also, her mom mentioned “Michael is swinging by” – who is he? Her dad’s name is Mark Dallon, and the internet says that they have been legally separated. Is Michael her step-father now? Maybe he’s just a family member or family friend? (The only Michael in Worm has been the middle name of Chevalier, which is probably not this)

      * Nice to see that the chapter started with a woman texting and a car accident!

      * Did Victoria use her awe-ra power on the old man and/or driver girl, to stop the situation from escalating?

      * Alternatively, is it possible that she lost her powers, or they changed after being de-blob-ified by Panacea? She said that she can’t be in front line anymore, but that could also mean she does not want to.

      Your thoughts? More small tidbits you noticed?

      1. I can’t say anything definitive, but “Parental Unit” was a joke I used with my parents for a while. (Hello, I am a robot. Thank you for the food, parental unit.) Wildbow might be using the same connotation – a relation that’s secure enough to joke about.

      2. I’m fairly certain that PanPan dearest did some modification when de Cronenberging Vicky and made that part of her power easier to control or just weak as all hell.

        1. I’m pretty sure Panacea doesn’t have that level of fine control? If she did, Khepri most likely wouldn’t have completely lost it and could have been more easily reversed.

          1. Vicky was taking Parahuman studies courses back during the course of Worm itself. It wouldn’t be surprising if she used her knowledge there to try and help.
            ————————-

            Khepri had a radius-based absolute control effect that inflicted mental degeneration on herself the more individuals inside it. She was the hard-counter to any striker without a power-nullification shaker aura.

      3. > * Nice to see that the chapter started with a woman texting and a car accident!

        I hadn’t picked up on this. Nice catch.

      4. >* She named her mom “Parental Unit 1” in her phone. Not sure if this means anything. Also, her mom mentioned “Michael is swinging by” – who is he? Her dad’s name is Mark Dallon, and the internet says that they have been legally separated. Is Michael her step-father now? Maybe he’s just a family member or family friend? (The only Michael in Worm has been the middle name of Chevalier, which is probably not this)

        Well, as far as we know (and the researches I did), Lightstar’s name is unknown, maybe it could be him (Apocalypse seems to be a good motivation for renewing contact with your estranged relatives)?

      5. * I wonder how nobody has found out she’s a cape yet, or do people already know? Maybe she lost her powers when she deblobed like you said.

        * Also, I like the little piece of worldbuilding here:

        “We still weren’t at the point where we had nice lawns and yards. This schoolyard was no exception. We had grass and fields, yes, but it was coarse and the ground beneath wasn’t usually landscaped. The area was large with large trees left untouched in the corners, chain link fence separating the field from the roads on two sides, the grade school formed third boundary to the west, and the high school formed the fourth boundary to the north. The ground was uneven, more hilly than flat, and there were still large stones here and there, and a seemingly out of place play structure for the grade schoolers.

        It was an odd thing. So often, nature was transplanted into a city, and it was new and inauthentic, made overly neat. Trees, lawns, flowers. Here, the nature was rough and unpolished, the city itself new and somewhat artificial in how overly tidy it was, untouched by time or elements.”

        I think it’s little things like that contribute to the world’s environment, make it all feel a little more real.

        * Damn, I know we already knew that this city existed, but they went from devastation to golden skyscrapers real fast! That’s just the power of capes I guess.

      6. Vicky was taking Parahuman studies courses back during the course of Worm itself. It wouldn’t be surprising if she used her knowledge there to try and help.

      7. With all the talk of “grab bag capes” I was not expecting that final twist for the life of me. Could Victoria have had another trigger event? we know that she’s connected to the shards of her mom (presumably) and Gallant because she triggered around them but maybe that’s changed..? Could she be classified as a grab bag cape if she picked up on enough shards? What powers does she have?

  1. I’m so happy to be in on the ground floor of this sequel. If Ward turns out to be even half as good as Worm, it’ll be well worth the read!

    1. Two things.

      Let’s first find out for sure this is actually Glory Girl, and not someone using her name.

      Second, Didn’t Wildbow say that when he was going to use Amy and Vicky as the protags for the first one, things were going to end up *worse* than they did in canon? Let’s see if Vicky avoids worse fate than flesh blob hoplessly attracted to her adopted sister.

      Come to think of it, if this is her, wonder if the Amysexuality got removed.

    2. I know it sounds silly, but every time I think about Ward, I can’t get over this:

      Taylor Hebert is still alive.

      Although certainly down, do not count her out. She may not be a major player, but she is a player. The only cape ever to wield power the likes of Scion, Khepri, still breathes.

      Because Contessa, the cape with path to victory shot her in the head in such a way that her life was spared – a woman who does nothing without a further objective – left her alive.

      Why?

      1. Contessa saving Taylor’s life could have been done as a favor to Tattletale.

        I think even Contessa would think such a debt worthwhile.

  2. Vicky of all people. I am invested in her now. Will it be multiple perspectives this time around? Guts and Glory having separate storylines? You’re such a tease Mr. Bow.

  3. INAUGURAL TYPO THREAD

    “They were part of an initiative by an independent cape, a hero turned”

    The rest of the sentence is missing!

    1. Also:

      “chain link fence separating the field from the roads on two sides, the grade formed third boundary to the west, and the high school formed the fourth boundary to the north. ”

      Should probably be “the grade *school* formed…”

    2. he fixed the “hero turned” sentence already! I have another one though– the syntax of this sentence is wonky: “A lot of this was what I’d saved what I could from the office back home, pulling things from boxes and filing cabinets.” — should be something like “A lot of this was what I could save from…”

    3. I don’t understand how Victoria walked off a sidewalk, between two windows, toward a crowd of people and a car accident. (I also don’t understand why the memorial poles are so personalized – surely a few thousand names per side would let them actually make a memorial for everyone they have records for within a hundred years? One or two million pillars, a few thousand names per pillar, you can probably make it work.)

      1. For the first part: She’s walking the other direction off the sidewalk. Not into the street but towards the businesses, between two display windows. Aerial view:
        —–Street——–
        |“““`|_Vicky_|““`|

        For the second part, I guess the memorials are personalized because otherwise they don’t really feel the same. A list with a bunch of names including a loved one’s on the pillar would mean very little.

        1. First part still doesn’t make sense. She isn’t going inside a building, she’s going toward an intersection.
          Second part – fair enough. But everyone lost a lot of people, so what decides who gets memorialized? Even if it’s by random lottery, it’s an emotionally charged honor with a clearly unfair distribution, which is really dangerous in a highly tense situation like they’re in now. I think the pillars will do considerably more harm than good, in the long run.

      2. I would say that it’s better to have messages. Maybe the face etching is a bit much, but without a message, names are hardly better than numbers.

        Every name-only memorial I’ve seen stands as a reminder of some tragedy, while these pillars stand for the memories of the people who died.

    4. “grade school formed the third boundary ”

      Not entirely sure, but there may need to be an article there. “school formed the third boundary” perhaps.

    5. “I could also cringe inwardly at the fact that our superhero here was implicitly sporting a ‘move forward’ ideology when that was the last thing this old man probably wanted to hear with a freshly reopened emotional wound.”

      Pretty sure it should be “supporting” there.

      1. Nope. Hapless is a word.

        hap·less
        ˈhapləs/Submit
        adjective
        (especially of a person) unfortunate.
        “if you’re one of the many hapless car buyers who’ve been shafted”
        synonyms: unfortunate, unlucky, luckless, out of luck, ill-starred, ill-fated, jinxed, cursed, doomed; More

    6. >He tapped the gun where it was in its holster, the bike lock draped down and resting against his leg

      missing a period at the end of this sentence

    7. I caught a glimpse of the emblem on his sleeve. A badge, not a personal symbol or icon, but part of the team he belonged to. Advance Guard.
      […]
      Unfortunately, because of the team emblem the cape had on his breast- a stylized figure holding a shield shaped like a greater-than symbol, the guy represented that ideology every time, in every place.

      The axe cape’s logo jumps from his sleeve to his breast.

    8. “My phone was buzzing with texts. I pulled it from my skirt pocket and looked while I walked.”

      Extra space between skirt and pocket.

  4. Vicky’s back! And she’s normal again! And she’s (hopefully?) mentally well-adjusted! Guess she really was Point_Me_@_The_Sky.

    This was totally out of left field, but I can’t wait to see where things go from here! She’s going to make for a great MC. I’ve always felt that Victoria has been unfairly maligned by the fandom due to her antagonistic role in the original story. She actually seemed like a pretty damn decent person – I mean, the worst thing she did was nearly kill a racist skinhead for nearly killing a black woman.

    This is going to be a ride!

    1. The worst thing we SAW her doing was nearly killing a racist skinhead. Then we heard from her sister that this skinhead was the sixth person she almost killed by using excessive force. The sixth person that her sister KNEW about, to be precise.
      But, to be fair, Victoria seems fairly level headed now. It’s gonna be interesting to see this world through her eyes, getting perspective on past events, etc.
      Gonna re-read those Glow-Worm chapters now, with her confirmed identity in mind.^^

    2. Wow. The possibility hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was so very confused when people mentioned a flying cape from back in Brockton… I probably need to reread Worm. Four years is such a long time.

      1. P9 gave away her identity because there wasn’t that many female heroes that fit the correct age range that would be with the Wards for a photoshoot… Panacea, Laserdream and Glory Girl. From there it wasn’t hard to figure out since Laserdream died and Amy knew Taylor better than described in P9, so that left Glory Girl.

        1. Wait, Laserdream died? I thought she was the only surviving Pelham… Let me see, Shielder got killed by Leviathan and Manpower took brain damage that Panacea later healed. Panacea went to the birdcage and Victoria to the asylum after the Slaughterhouse Nine hit the Bay. And then Brandish died under Khepri’s control, right? Or was that Photon Mom?

          1. Yes Shielder died in the leviathan fight, and so did Manpower. Flashbang (Victoria’s dad) is the one that got brain damage that Amy later healed, sadly Photon Mom was killed under Khepri’s control, and clearly Brandish is still alive and Flashbang must be too, as we see Victoria talking to Brandish and she’s ‘Parental Unit 1’ so there has to be a ‘Parental Unit 2’ as for laserdream…maybe she’s alive and was the one we say Victoria talk to on PHO during glow-worm. but i think that’s all we know.

      2. Fliers in Brockton:

        -Photon Mom
        –her kids
        -Vicky
        -Aegis
        -Genesis (sometimes)
        -Lung (after sufficent ramping)
        -Crusader (‘s ghosts)
        -Rune (by cheating)
        -Purity
        -Kid Win (by hoverboard)

        Out of the major players, I think that was it. To my knowledge the Ambassadors and Teeth never explicitly had fliers, though I wouldn’t put it past Accord or Citrine to have ordered one from Cauldron if they felt it a tactical necessity.

  5. It’s really here, wow. I’m happy to witness it’s conception

    Interesting to see the E88 and the Ambassadors live.

    Also, wow, that last line.

    1. Are they still alive? I thought tjat was more, trying to make sure the history was recorded. I mean it makes sense with E88 (scion couldnt kill /every/ skinhead I guess, maybe they restarted it) but the Ambassadors?

      1. To clarify, Accord is dead. The Ambassadors was simply a group of Cauldron Capes with an insanely high skill-barrier to entry with him gone. I’m not sure what they are now, but I’d assume they function similarly. You come in as a grunt, prove yourself over and over and over, and eventually you get a vial, a costume, and a name. Probably some new Thinker behind the scenes running things (Tattletale?).

          1. Teacher implied during the End of Worm that he still had access to the stuff to make vials. Though how that can be true with Scion tearing up Eden is less clear to me.

            The line was “I’ve achieved all I wanted to achieve. I sell powers, I have wealth…” which I suppose could just be in reference to his power but I think the story is out there about the mind control part of his power so it wouldn’t make as much sense.

      1. Honestly kind of surprised she apparently doesn’t have any stuff on the Undersiders. Maybe because she was in the asylum before they really came to the fore?

  6. Wait… Blasto had a companion? That’s probably the most shocking part of this chapter to me. I wouldn’t have pegged the guy who made mold men to have a sidekick, let alone a potential girlfriend.

      1. He was. During his Interlude, one of the things he weighed in the moral arithmetic of accepting death to kill Bonesaw was that he’d be missing out on his chance at starting a family.

      2. Was he creepy enough to do that? I remember him being obsessed with his simurgh experiment, but would he really have gone full Pygmalion?

  7. Well, Holy Shit. How ya doing Glory Girl? Not sure how I feel about you right now, too much fanfic has soured me on you a little bit. Let’s see how it goes.

    1. Yeah, GG is probably the character that the fandom likes to flanderise the most. Clockblocker yells ‘bullshit’, Vista hits him, Armsmaster is a robot incapable of holding a conversation with a teleprompter from Dragon and Victoria is dim, self-centered and punches first and asks questions tenth.

      1. I’d argue that Taylor is the single Worm Character that Worm fanfic gets most wrong, followed by Amy Dallon, then going through the list of usual suspects.

        Still makes me wonder if Mangled Wings isn’t in fact Amelia, to the knowledge of neither (ex?)-sister.

        1. Eeeeeeeh, I doubt it? I feel like she seemed to mellow out too much over her time with Marquis to still be stuck to her black and white defense mechanism (or else she probably wouldn’t have trusted Taylor with the self-sustainable relay bugs), and anyways Wings strikes me as looking for respect from her villain thing, whereas if Amy was constantly going on about being a supervillain I think it’d have more likely been a guilt thing, like how she acted just before going to the Birdcage?

        2. I think Mangled Wings/A. pretty much has to be Aiden, the kid in Skitter’s gang who started controlling birds, doesn’t it?

        3. Given that Victoria’s files mention the Ossuary, I’d expect that Marquis is still active. Until we get evidence otherwise my money’s on Amelia staying with her father.

    2. Well there we go! It’ll take some time to adjust to Victoria as the protagonist, but I think we can already see that she’s much different from what we’ve seen of her in Worm.

      A minor quibble – the large font size weirds me out a little. Maybe I’m just used to the other serials, but it looks a little… I dunno, less serious? Eh, I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

  8. Interesting that the title is Ward, while Victoria never actually became one. Though she was thinking about joining the team after new Wave disbanded until Amy worked her magic. Funny that the About page talks about parahuman asylums housing victims of supervillains when Amy was still essentially a hero when she sent Victoria there.

      1. Or the root word that the Wards program AND the Wardens both draw from.

        A ward: a guard, shield, or protection.

        ward
        wôrd/Submit
        noun
        noun: ward; plural noun: wards
        1.
        a separate room in a hospital, typically one allocated to a particular type of patient.
        “a children’s ward”
        synonyms: room, department, unit, area, wing
        “the surgical ward”
        one of the divisions of a prison.
        2.
        an administrative division of a city or borough that typically elects and is represented by a councilor or councilors.
        synonyms: district, constituency, division, quarter, zone, parish
        “the majority of voters in our ward are Democrats”
        a territorial division of the Mormon Church presided over by a bishop.
        3.
        a person, usually a minor, under the care and control of a guardian appointed by their parents or a court.
        synonyms: dependent, charge, protégé
        “the boy is my ward”
        archaic
        guardianship or the state of being subject to a guardian.
        “the ward and care of the Crown”
        4.
        any of the internal ridges or bars in a lock that prevent the turning of any key that does not have grooves of corresponding form or size.
        the corresponding grooves in the bit of a key.
        5.
        archaic
        the action of keeping a lookout for danger.
        “I saw them keeping ward at one of those huge gates”
        6.
        historical
        an area of ground enclosed by the encircling walls of a fortress or castle.
        7.
        FENCING
        a defensive position or motion.
        verb
        verb: ward; 3rd person present: wards; past tense: warded; past participle: warded; gerund or present participle: warding
        1.
        archaic
        guard; protect.
        “it was his duty to ward the king”
        2.
        admit (a patient) to a hospital ward.
        Origin
        Old English weard (sense 5 of the noun, also ‘body of guards’), weardian ‘keep safe, guard,’ of Germanic origin; reinforced in Middle English by Old Northern French warde (noun), warder (verb) ‘guard,’ variants of Old French garde, garder ; compare with guard.
        -ward
        suffix
        suffix: -wards; suffix: -ward
        1.
        added to nouns of place or destination and to adverbs of direction.
        2.
        (forming adverbs) toward the specified place or direction.
        “eastward”
        3.
        (forming adjectives) turned or tending toward.
        “onward”

    1. Current guess is that Victoria is not going to be the ward in question, and that this story will concern somebody she has to take care of our take responsibility for.

      Or more simply, she’s not going to *be* a ward, she’s going to *have* a ward.

      The emotional conflict of this chapter already revolves around Victoria feeling like she has a duty to act but also being reluctant to act in such a fraught and fragile environment. Fear of doing more harm than good but having external circumstance preclude inaction is a reasonable engine for a story about taking care of another person.

    1. It won’t be available for a short bit – takes a while to go up on Webfictionguide and then some time after that to appear on Topwebfiction.

    1. Shit happened. You know in general, and to her specifically. Assuming that’s actually Glory Girl, and not someone using their name for some reason. I do not rule out twists.

      Also anyone who’s new to reading Wildbow works as they come out, rather than binging them? That “Wait, WHAT” sensation and agony at having to wait for the next part? Yeah get used to that.

  9. Alright, we doing this now. Hell yes.

    Nice to see Glory Girl’s back, even if she’s not dressing in spandex and flying around punching baddies.

    1. Nice to see Victoria’s back, especially BECAUSE she’s not wearing her underwear on the outside and punching desperate poor people.

  10. How has only the first chapter dropped and already the last sentence has me experiencing the equivalent catharsis of a five arc twist?

  11. Stayed up late for the update and forgot about it until I was about to go to sleep… Extremely excited for Ward! This is gonna be a wild ride.

  12. 6:30 AM here and I still haven’t gone to bed but it was soo worth it ! I kept expecting her to be Laserdream but that last line… Damn ! Congrats Wildbow, you have me hooked on the first chapter !

  13. So we’re following Victoria now? I have to admit, I was expecting a new character to be the protagonist/narrator. But Wildbow does like to surprise us.
    This is obviously a very different Victoria than the one we’re used to. Two years as an John Carpenter nightmare will do that to someone (so hopefully now the fandom will stop flanderising her so much), so she’ll be 21/22 at the moment and probably much more cautious and restrained.
    Any bets on what her relationship with Amy is like, and how often they see each other?

    1. Well I’m inclined to think their will be gnashing of the teeth, and baring of the chest, and tearing of the hair from the people who shipped Amy and Vicky.

      1. I haven’t interacted with the rest of the fandom much… There were people who shipped them after the way things ended?
        Huh. The internet keeps surprising me.

        1. That surprises you about the internet?

          I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Fandom ships on fire off the shoulder of Master of Orion. I watched C-words litter in the dark web near the Elevatorgate. I wish all those moments would be lost in time, like tears in the rain. Time to tweet.

          If it’s any consolation, I haven’t seen any of these fanfics that people keep referencing either. If you stick around the comments, though, you’ll find all sorts of memes, and maybe get to help make plenty more. And if there’s any rule you can count on with the internet, hope to see people’s angels, rely on seeing people’s devils. And Rule 34.

    2. Based on her conversation with Madison on PHO, I doubt she’s forgiven Amy for what happened. Beyond that, I don’t know. Could be they’re trying to work through it, could be they haven’t even been in contact.

  14. My god, its Vicky. I did not actually expect her, or any other character that we knew previously, to be the MC for this. I was interested before, but now I am invested. Cheers, to McCrae, cheers to Ward. This will be good.

    1. Is she even out about having powers tho? It kinda seems like a lot of anti-parahuman sentiment. I suppose she’d’ve changed her name if she was trying to hide that.

      Maybe just doesn’t like who she was back then.

    2. Yeah, I’m guessing there’s a part of “Frontline Anonymous” in her current attitude. She knows what it does to her. She went clean – now she has to stay away or tumble down that slope again.
      Well, maybe. Single-chapter guesses are pretty worthless.

    3. I would surmise a conflict of interests. The person that healed her by all seeming would be Amelia Lavere, (formerly ‘Panacea’) daughter of notorious super villain ‘Marquis. So then, if Vicky was front line (if she even still has powers, consider many people in (Lets call it ‘Wardopolis’ for now) that know that Victoria and Amy as sisters. Add to that, how that Amy consorted with a bunch of controversial and notorious capes, heroic and villainous, how much of a weak link would Vicky be?

      I believe that as part of Victoria’s maturation, she has arrived at said conclusion, and in addition asked herself about the emotional minefield that facing Amy, quite possible rogue or outright (anti)villain might entail. Even if Amy did’t leave mental block to stop Vicky coming after her if circumstances forced them into conflict, there would be those that held such doubts

      Vicky is far too compromised to be front line any more.

      1. That doesn’t seem likely, considering the whole “second chance” attitude towards former villains. If they’re letting people who were actual villains be frontliners, I don’t think they’d bar Victoria for having ties to someone who has ties to villains.

        I think it’s more likely something like @grinvader suggested: She knows she has anger issues and doesn’t want to risk nearly killing any more people.

        1. It doesn’t have to be anger issues. Assuming it is our Victoria, the cape scene killed off some of her family, got her father mentally crippled after Leviathan, even if Amy later fixed that, gave Amy severe issues, Victoria faced the Slaughterhouse Nine and nearly died, plus she then became the brainwashed flesh sculpture before she recovered from that. She seems more distant from her mom based on her reluctance to attend the barbecue and she probably has some issues with everyone including or not including Amy. Victoria may not want to go through such a rewarding experience again.

    4. It could also simply be that she doesn’t want anyone to find out she’s a cape because of her university hopes. If she’s front line and someone tries to whack her, BAM suddenly everyone knows she’s not only a cape, but quite a powerful one who was supposedly a hero. With her power level and history (even with its blemishes), people would quite reasonably expect her to go and join the Wardens, etcetera, and would probably also be skittish about offering her places at an educational institution. Even if they are giving villains a second chance officially, they don’t seem too happy about it when it comes down to it, and even if Vicky could theoretically stay rogue, she’s quite powerful (assuming unaltered powers) and people are very trigger-happy about capes right now. University seems to be quite important to her, so if there’s even a chance all that might jeopardise her shot further, she might want to just play it safe.

      Then there is also the fact that she is a Blood Knight to a scary degree who also got treated quite Anviliciously all things considered for said Blood Knight behavior. (TV Tropes terminology, I’m bad.) Some combination of what @grinvader and @Lenine said.

      Hoo boy this turned out long

      1. Have to disagree, we can surmise she doesn’t care about being found out because she’s using her name. She was on the “no secret identities” team, which means everybody in BB knew Victoria Dallon was Glory Girl, a lot of other people knew just because of the novelty of her team, and anybody with working internet who didn’t know already could find that out now, which is bound to happen when somebody thinks that name sounds familiar. Whatever her reasons are, it wouldn’t make sense for that to be one of them.

  15. Honestly didn’t expect to see Glory Girl back in action. It’ll be interesting seeing what she’s been up to ever since she was taken to the asylum. And, of course, I can’t wait to see what horrifying situations she gets herself tangled up in. Amazing first chapter, my body is ready.

  16. And we have our protagonist reveal! I look forward to seeing more of Victoria Dallon and her situation. I especially wonder what her current relationship with Panacea is.

    I can tell this story is going to be great.

  17. WELL THEN

    I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised to see Glory Girl back in a humanoid body. She survived, Panacea survived, Riley survived, and I’m sure there’s a dozen other capes who could have done something for her too.

    Still, this promises to be *very* interesting.

  18. Hmm….I’m honestly really torn on Victoria taking center stage.

    On the plus side, it definitely serves as a good way to use one of the older cast in a new way, especially after what (presumably) happened at the end of worm with her and Amy.

    On the negative aspect….it brings about associations with the old world, a helluva lot of baggage (both with facets of canon and the varied fanon), and some strong assumptions about the cast and such that are going to be hard to break – Taylor’s ‘will-she, won’t she’ popping up in the story, for one.

    Not to mention the situation between Amy and Vicky being ‘tense’ even without assumptions based on your previous work and comments you’ve made about certain elements.

    I’m cautiously curious, though, so I suppose we’ll see how things go for a little bit, at least.

    1. Considering how thematically prevalent the act of betrayal was in Worm, I’m actually quite pleased with our new protagonist being someone who had such atrocities committed to her by someone so close to her.

    1. One more technical note– this chapter does not show up in the parahumans.net RSS feed (though the Glow Worm chapters do)… perhaps due to the issue with publication date?

  19. HOLYFUCK SHE IS BACK!? Good play Wildow, good play.

    She seems jaded, but mostly keeping up. i mean,she can speak and not just blink right now, i call it tops.

    I Wonder..where is Panacea right now?

  20. New and Improved Glory Girl! I wonder if she is still a cape…
    Also, how is it that we’ve all posted before the Gecko got here?

  21. HYYYYPE!
    Also, I remember some people suggesting Vicky from the intermediate PHO chapters, but it was still a surprise seeing those last lines.
    I get the feeling she’s depowered? At least Panacea got around to fixing her.
    I’m fucking PUMPED.

  22. Oh God. I can’t believe it. Ol’ GG is back. Good luck, you magnificent blond bombshell. May you reach the end of this journey with body, mind, and soul intact.

  23. You know that feeling, when you’re on a rollercoaster and the train starts moving, that giddy and slightly nervous anticipation? I’m getting that now. The Skitter train was a wild and crazy ride I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Now, the Victoria coaster is leaving the station, and we’re in the front seats.

  24. High schoolers, loaded weapons, high emotions. Society cracking, justice appearing-ly subverted, emotional scars still raw.

    I have chills.

    1. I imagine the seniors have loaded weapons, but I think the ones just starting are literally carrying around guns with bike locks threaded through the magazine. It’s a test run to make sure they can treat them right.

  25. Thank you, Wildbow, for this. I first discovered Worm 2 years ago and immediately read through it in 10 days, sacrificing sleep and food to the beautiful monstrosity you created. I’m incredibly glad to be able to avoid that this time around

  26. ……I’m not going to 100% write-off, but I’m really uncertain as to how Victoria’s situation is going to go.

    Brutes, while potential for raising some interesting conflict with their minds vs their powers, aren’t exactly the most ‘complicated’ of powers to envision/imagine.

    Plus she’s always going to be compared, on some level, to Worm’s endgame, and I’m not sure on how she’ll really have a chance to stack up.

    Like….I can see how exploring the (relative) immediacy of a post-scion society could be real interesting, but I’m not sure how that connects to Victoria, outside of her ‘growth’ as a person after what happened to her with amy, and then with khepri?

    The questions raised do have me intrigued, I’ll admit, but I’m not gonna lie, it’s gonna be a bit of an uphill battle after Twig and Pact.

    1. That is really reasonable to say, but I want to point out this:

      “I’m not frontline. I can’t be frontline.”

      “You’re a natural leader,” he said.

      I don’t think this is a story about a Brute in a brand new world. We have already got 9 chapters all surrounding some sort of team Victory is a part of. They all have unique power and competencies. I think the core of this story, or at least its first phase, will be surrounding the MC with half a dozen powers and personalities and learning to manage and lead them flawlessly.

      Also, I got the distinct feeling that Victory does not have the power she used to. She is all back-line, no fighting. She had no second thoughts about her aura, which she would if she had one, considering her past. Hell, given the public nature of Glory Girl and the animosity towards capes we saw, it was suprising that none was pointed Victoria’s way. It might be that she doesn’t even look the same.

      Wild speculation, yes, but the point is this: I would bet money that every thing that you are assuming is a constant will at some point be turned on its head, because that is one of the things Wildbow does (No pressure Bow).

      1. She was Point me @ the sky, who is not a member of the case 53 team we saw. She helped out Mangled_Wings, but otherwise didn’t interact with them, I think.

    2. Tooooo be fair, I thought the same thing about bug control when I first started reading Worm, and look how that turned out. Wildbow, uh, finds a way.

  27. Glory Girl is back. I guess it means she’s point_me now and not laserdream.

    Also she’s now the first Bow protagonist with sheer/raw power. Unless things have changed post incarceration.

    1. I think Glitzglam is Glory Girl (the person who PMed Point_Me in 0.1). Also gur Gubeohea obtlzna unq n ybg bs cbjre (rot13).

      1. PM@TS was collecting the exact same magazines (see Glow-Worm 1) Victoria has in her office and got that negative answer from university (Glow-Worm 5) like Victoria (college application did not work). I’m fairly sure it’s safe to say that PM@TS is Victoria/Glory Girl at this point… GlitzGlam got be someone else.

  28. Amazing. Nice to see the tension of villains getting reformed and heroes being blamed for Golden Morning. Seeing strong themes of redemption and proving one’s self already. Setting up with Fume Hood, and these kinda civilian elements. Interested to see what the other capes can do. I know everyone is waiting for the inevitable scene were GG, Amy and Tattletale wind up in a room together again.

  29. I just reloaded the page and it changed from black text on white background to good old white on black.

    I feel like I’m home again

    1. Pact and Twig had black-on-white. I never realized before now just how much I missed the good old Worm white-on-black.

  30. Also, which city is this? I doubt it’s New York, as there was no mention of gold buildings in the epilogue, and ditto for Brockton Bay. So where are we?

      1. I’m calling it ‘Wardopolis’ for now, since it’s where ward is set…
        So we have
        Wardopolis
        Megapolis

        Another possible name would be, ‘Novopolis’, simply meaning ‘new city’.

        and Geckoville, just so I can stop Gecko from trying that one. (Sneh)

        1. I’m sure someday the Mayor of the city will have a ceremony to hand someone the key to a shiny new *checks potential city names* Bosstralia? *flips page* Gexzilvania… Empyreal City, no that one’s taken… I got it, Aurum!

          1. On second thought it’s probably a city we saw in the epilogue and some anonymous insane amphibian made everything look gold in the intervening two years since then.

            That might also be the source of all the graffiti/overnight art installations proclaiming #sciondidnothingwrong

      1. yeah, but the epilogue chapters took place in earth Gimmel. neither NYC-gimmel or Brockton Bay-gimmel had gold buildings. so where are they? Is it a recreation of a Earth-Bet city or a new city?

        1. The gold is a result of reflecting light, no? Might only have started to really appear once the city reached a certain size.

  31. He said “second work in the Parahumans series” not just “sequel to Worm”, so…
    There could be a Parahumans 3 in the distant future?

    1. Oh yeah, there’s going to be a dozen Parahuman books. I can see it now- just how many times can we burn the world to ash? We’ll find out!

  32. Hmm…..so either a power-hiding Victoria, a clone of Victoria, or a Vicky who had to have her shard removed/separated as a part of the reversion to looking human?

    And one who is unsure of how she’ll be able to stem the coming tide of aggression and the immediate power vacuum between humans and parahumans (and the ideologies therein?)

    I am curious to see where this goes….kinda can’t believe the E88 is still around to be worth ‘keeping’ unless it’s a reminder, though the Ossuary could obviously be Marquis’ gang (of which I wonder if Amy is with him, still)

    I’m kind of curious as to where the Undersiders fall into all of this with the ‘power vacuum’, and more interested (but know it’ll probably never come up since apparently Taylor’s ending is supposed to be ambiguous) on what they may be up to regarding looking for Taylor and/or dealing with Teacher and co….(of which incidentally, I really hope Fortuna’s not as stupid as her epilogue implied).

    Though I suppose it’s entirely possible that the Chevalier and co. (as well as the Undersiders) are on different Earths, which would definitely make the power scramble here more interesting….

    I’m a little nervous on Victoria instead of a new character because of her baggage, but I can kinda see it in the context of her having previously been such a ‘staunch’ character in her morality and such (unlike Taylor), who has been having to come to grips with a much different world alongside any potential changes in herself.

    But I’m perhaps most curious on where the stakes are gonna lie, here – the epilogue of Worm implies a new Protectorate, but if that doesn’t apply to this world, things could get out of control pretty fast – but if Vicky IS depowered, she’s going to be rather limited, and if she’s not (or won’t be forever), there’s definitely gonna be some history there.

    Here’s to seeing where the chips start to fall.

    (Incidentally, hoping that even aside from Vicky, Carol made (or will make) an attempt to reach out to Amy, given what happened at the end of her interlude, even tho it may not be likely depending on how the vicky/amy fallout went down)

    1. How many people really know how integral the Undersiders were to defeating Scion?

      Maybe a dozen who aren’t Undersiders themselves. My impression is that Tattle tale has taken over the group and Imp and Rachel are “friends of the group” now instead of full time members.

      Tattletale will want to keep them underestimated. Even though she has done big and bombastic in the past, she never did that without a purpose. She isn’t going to do that in the new world. She’s more Gustav fring than Walter white.

      1. At the very least, the most important leaders of the new order – Chevalier, and Valkyrie, and so on – all know. I’ll be very surprised if the Undersiders aren’t a major stabilizing institution at this point, even if only from the shadows.

    2. My vote is for a clone Vicky. It’d explain a lot of things:

      * A clone Vicky wouldn’t have triggered necessarily. It’d explain why she can’t be on the front lines, for fear that she’d trigger.

      * Structurally, it makes sense why we’ve focused on Boston, and now Poison Apple. A clone Vicky would be a clone from Bonesaw/Riley using Blasto’s tech. It gives Vicky a connection to Poison Apple and a connection to Bonesaw. Poison Apple must hate Bonesaw, so I predict we’ll be seeing those “heroes” together and in conflict very soon.

      * Historically, it makes sense. If Amelia couldn’t fix Glory Girl, I could see Riley trying to “help” by cloning the original template, with the idea that Amelia could then just transfer consciousness. I could then see Amelia refusing, given what happened to Khepri last time she meddled with a brain.

      * The clones from Blasto’s tech may still have some plant trappings from the cloning process. Maybe the name “Point me at the sky” is a hint to that.

      * Character-wise, it’d explain why this character is so focused on cape history.

      1. her comments to Madison suggest she has personal history though. If she’s a clone with all the memories, she’d presumably have the powers as well based on Bonesaw’s other clones. And she wouldn’t have had any reason to be as invested in what Madison said.

  33. AHHHHH! Joined Worm super late, and loved it (of course). Got super into Pact, and looking forward to continuing Twig as I READ WARD ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE!

    Looking forward to meeting Sveta’s group at some point. But also mega-hyped for the inevitable GG+TT verbal sparring sesh.

    Also mega-hyped for PG to come find me and properly welcome me. *yells* GECKO! … ECKO! … Ecko! … ecko…….

    1. 2pooky4me

      Gex, aaaaaahhhhh! Villain of the universe.

      Gex, a-ah!
      Welcomes everyone of us.

      Oh, wait, I think this song had a flash instead. Well, don’t mind me, I’ll just put on my crotchless chaps and be about my business.

      So, you pooky bard, you finally get a chance to join us, right from the beginning, with Worm 2: Careful What You Wish For. You’re here now for all the action (“Oh my god, it’s Vicky’s sister!”), all the suspense (“Oh my god, it’s Vicky’s sister!”), all the romance (“Oh my god, it’s Vicky’s sister!”), and, of course, the slapstick comedy that Wildbow is known far and wide for (“Oh my god, Vicky’s sister just slipped on that puddle that suddenly appeared beneath her.”).

      And you’ll be there, to witness every moment, to see every typo, to listen to every crazy fan theory, to take every pain killer you can find after we all start up a socio-political-religious flame war that makes the story’s end of the world look like a good thing.

      Pookster, this is your time. Drumroll please.

      Welcome to the comments.

      1. In a startling turn of events, I’d like to welcome Psycho Gecko to welcoming people in the comments of Ward!

        Whoooooaaaaaa!!!!

        *cue scary music and Zion’s return from another plane where he was really just hiding and saving his strength, much like PG before Ward*

    2. Yay someone else on the ‘first one im going to be reading as it comes out and also reading twig concurrently’ train.

      Super excited to be able to theory craft between chapters with everyone else, although will be weird to not be able to just press next chapter after a cliffhanger.

  34. And we are off!

    Worm still ranks among my absolute favorite works of fiction but I’m real happy that this story already is shaping up to be a different beast entirely.

    Keep up the good work Wildbow.

  35. I was 80% it was Victoria after the last section of Glow-worm, but I still jumped out of my chair in excitement when I saw that last line.

    So. Is Victoria still Glory Girl? Does she have her powers? She seems to be laying low, which is not entirely unexpected, but might say something about how she went back to being normal-human-shaped.

    My money’s on an inopportune power reveal defending apple girl and a rapidly escalating entanglement in the new cape scene.

    Also: Nom De Pommes
    A+

    1. Man, just the same as you. In the last worm glow I left it that point was to be protag, I guess I was right 😀 Still… When it appeared that was her, I almost jumped off my bed! (Here in Brasil I had just woken up and came to see this magnificent beast) The hype train is gooooo….!!

      1. Nice to see another Brazilian around.
        If Victoria is still a flying brick I wonder how Wildbow will make her use of power something different from the usual.

  36. I like the pick of Victoria as a protagonist. Her voice is very different than I remember, but I suppose that is to be expected. Years passed, life-changing events, all that.

    Not sure if I’m going to follow as a serial or read when finished, I spent more time than was beneficial following Worm as it was written. Not to mention that I’d rather like to read Twig first, but there are days enough in the week for that.

    Either way I look forward to seeing where you go with this, and hope it turns out as advantageously for you as Worm did.

  37. I just wanted to put a comment that I was here at the beginning.

    Victoria was unexpected. Kinda interesting we didn’t really get any indication of her powers.
    Well, that bit about her holding back the old man was kinda worded towards her *not* having super-strength. So if she did lose them, how?

    Also, while I understand these people have lost a lot and I’m probably biased from reading Worm, but these people blaming capes are morons. I look forward to the moment some less-than-heroic cape casually takes out some angry mob or something. Still, it’s only fair to wait and see just how much these people know about what really happened.

  38. “Parental unit 1”? wow that’s jaded. Does that mean her parents divorced?
    I really hope Mark is listed as “Paternal unit 1”.

    Time to go back to sleep, humans aren’t meant for 4 hour nights

  39. What exactly happened to Victoria? I can’t really remember beyond her being Glory Girl. I remember Amy did *something* to her, but not really what, or what GG did after that.

    1. Well first Vicky tried hugging Amy when Amy was having a breakdown, and Amy sorta made Vicky Amysexual, then Crawler drooled on Vicky, making her melt, and Amy was trying to fix her but lack of sleep and all that crap made her put on way to many torsos and heads and limbs. And she was still Amysexual. So them Amysexual Vicky went to an asylum while Amy went to the birdcage. Then at the end it turned out Amy subconsciously made Vicky look like Eden, and it helped kill Scion, and they reunited, and depending on how Amysexual Vicky still was it might have ended up looking like some fucked up Japanese porn. Or not, really don’t know yet.

        1. Oliver was the final blow, but a lot of shapeshifters helped out. And Khepri definitely notes that Victoria had been dropped with intent next to Amy after the last battle (I’m assuming this was some passenger-action from Taylor, like how QA directed bugs from Taylor’s subconscious when she wasn’t up to it or wasn’t focusing on what to do with specific groups?).

  40. Hot damn! Feels good to be here on day one.

    Nice choice for a MC, I have to guess. It’ll be interesting to see Vicky around. I’ll have to guess she looks different, since no one recognized her. She was kind of a big deal in Brockton, and with what happened with Amy her face would’ve been on display internationally.

    For the whole chapter I really thought you would go for a Thinker, given how she’s put on a pedestal and praised as the “Cape expert”. Instead it’s all her, and her power’s completely different.

    Unless coincidonks and there’s another Victoria Dallon around that has nothing to do with the one we know.

  41. Hmm. I wasn’t expecting Victoria as protagonist either, but I sort of suspect that she’ll Second Trigger and become a major powerhouse somewhere along the way. (Because second-gen capes get second-triggers as easily as first-gens get their firsts.)
    Also, a site issue: I can’t tell which comments are in threads with each other. Bothersome.

          1. Hmm… can’t post urls from older comments apparently.
            Search ‘November 2, 2013 at 03:15’ in Teneral e.1.

      1. Hmmm… I dunno, wasn’t Victoria’s first trigger something about being overshadowed or something like that? I don’t think it was anything where the asylum time would hit the same notes enough for a second trigger…

  42. And so there it was, on a cool fall day, when the call went out. A man in a business suit and a pair of glasses turned to look off into the distance… only for his head to explode in a burst of brain, blood, and bone as a metal gauntlet punched through and grabbed his glasses. They were pulled through onto to sit on a three-eyed kabuto-style helmet with a jagged neck guard and a mouthpiece of grinning fangs.

    “Worm 2: Ward, eh? This looks like a job for…” The power-armored man tears the suit, and man, in half and tosses him aside, revealing the rest of his dark blue and black armor. “Psycho Gecko!”

    Meanwhile, in the street, a taxi swerves around half of the dead man while calling out, “Outta the road, asshole!”

  43. Victoria! Voice-of-reason Victoria! I was not expecting this, but I’m not opposed to it either. 😀

    Victoria feels so different compared to the other protagonists in WilyBrow previous works I’m excited to see where he takes this, more than I would be if I had gotten what I expected.

    And New Wave’s family dynamic will certainly be interesting going by past experience and the new addition of Marquis to the mix.

  44. oh my god what? vicky’s the protagonist this time around? wait failed collage application means that she’s point_me_@_the_sky? oh now i gotta re-read the glowworm chapters in a new light. I wonder if i can guess whose who now.

    Still going with glory girl as the focus is going full circle with you ain’t it wildbow given first drafts were of guts and glory.

  45. Great first chapter! I’m interested in this asphalt-liquefying speedster axe-man from this new team, the Advance Guard. Any chance we could get a name-drop, Wildbow?

    1. Well he seems like a decent sort so far. We’ll see if that lasts, or if people will just be unjustifed bastards to him.

  46. In case someone else is wondering, black bars eating vertical space on top and bottom are pseudoelements on body. CSS to remove them:
    body:not(.custom-background-image):before, body:not(.custom-background-image):after {
    display: none;
    }

  47. Well, color me intrigued, again.

    The question remains, what has Vicky’s Asylum experience done to her powers? Does she have a masked identity now, maybe?

  48. Pretty hype to be in on the ground floor for this one. Worm was hugely inspiring to me, I loved twig, and now it’s time for something that puts all the learning and experience to the test.

  49. Poor Victoria, It most be hard to have to be the voice of reason after so many year of being a careless diva/Garden of flesh.
    Also, good to see the PRT staying true to its bigot origins, Piggot would be proud.
    Thank you for your work WobblyBoat! We have all been waiting a long time for this.

  50. A whole lot of angry, untrained kids getting together to defend a cape they’ve now been briefed once accidentally terminated a pregnancy. Yeah, this’ll end well. People are getting pissed about a memorial rock still. There’s a time for remembering, and a time to send Old Yeller to the Pepperidge Farm upstate and forget about him.

    And we’ve got Glory Girl pretending to be a normal person, helping to go after capes like herself. Well, maybe pretending to be normal, but I’d suspect she’s pretending given the group she’s with. They don’t seem like the type to be in favor of a cape’s presence. On a more subjective level, maybe she needs to call up her parents and have a chat about how much she doesn’t like them? Might be healthier than this bottled-up, passive aggressive stuff that’s going on, where they’re inviting her to dinners that may also include the sister who turned her into an Panaceasexual and then screwed up fixing her. If it does, those parents definitely need a talkin’ to.

    And, again, this is the woman who got away with using way too much force on suspects because she knew she had a family connection who could come in and put them back together before they died or had to visit the emergency room. That’s someone who has shown herself to not be worthy of this kind of responsibility.

    About the only people I like in all this are the bladed guy, who really needs a better costume. If you’re going to be a hero, maybe de-emphasize the pointy stuff. Pick calming colors. Something with grey, blue, certain yellows, maybe a little white in there. Don’t show up looking like Sauron, like “Hello, I’m here to get your kitty out of the tree! Where can I find the offending life form?”

    And that just leaves the Apple. Poison Apple was clearly the best name out of the bunch, though she missed an opportunity for something like “Tear Gas” that’s more about area denial and associated with law enforcement. But look at her. She has a conscience. She lost someone important, went a bit too far, got in over her head, turned herself in. She went along with the process, then worked to fight Scion, and is trying to do right. What does she get? Boned. She’s getting boned. She didn’t do Taylor-levels of avoiding responsibility for her actions, but she’s about to end up in a grave nonetheless.

    Yes, humans. A monster came and destroyed your civilization, so let’s take it out on the people who defended you, beat him, and are still trying to defend your sorry asses in the middle of cities they almost certainly helped build for you while you eat the food they helped grow. The people are so bad, they’re making Jack Slash look like he had the right idea.

    1. I don’t think they know what happened on Gold Morning, though, do they? They may think that even if capes were involved in stopping Scion’s attacks, it’s still all somehow their fault that the world ended.

      Plus, there’s the issue of villains, even really bad ones, getting a second chance. Second chance for Canary – not that big of a deal. Second chance for *Bonesaw*? Harder to swallow.

      Anyway, that was quite a wham line. I was NOT expecting Victoria.

      1. I’m not sure. On one hand, someone would spill the beans- there are too many capes to keep a secret voluntarily, especially on the surface level “Scion went bad.” On the other hand, who with that knowledge would go “Let’s build a city that looks golden sometimes?” Furthermore, the phrase “golden age” should have gone the way of the dodo bird. I’m curious to see what “the golden rule” now refers to.

        1. Based on Glow-Worm, I got the impression that the basics of “Scion went insane and started killing everyone until the capes managed to put him down” are known, but that the specific things like “Scion was one of two space-lavoses who are also where capes came from as part of an experiment to try and get us to do their thinking for them” and “Weaver went insane and mind-controlled everyone to actually fight the final battle” are being kept under wraps by capes united in mind-control trauma and not-wanting-civilians-to-band-together-against-them. At least for now.

      2. The Bird Cage was a special thing, requiring lots of infrastructure and lots of power in the hands of one particular cape, Dragon.

        How are they going to build the new super prison? How much of their limited resources do they devote to it? In which dimension do they put it? Who are they going to have running it now that supers are hated?

        It reminds me of the dilemma from World War Z. They didn’t have the people or resources to spend on putting them in prison, so instead it was about public lashings (and maybe work gangs?).

        Just like that, they supposedly don’t have those same resources (big fuckin’ city, though). I suppose they could do public lashings, but I’m sure a lot of people won’t like that. It won’t go far enough. So instead, maybe they should just start putting people to death, though with their attitudes it’s pretty clear you’d get people put to death for things they shouldn’t be put to death for. Except those are people, like Bonesaw, with all sorts of powers and the ability to escape into dozens of Earths’ worth of wildernesses and perhaps work on some reprisals aimed at civilization. So instead of having those abilities, like superhuman medical skill, on their side, they would shift it so they’re opposing them in potentially lethal ways.

    2. The solution is obvious: Dr Yamada.
      Maybe clone her or something? Perhaps she can open the “Yamada university of getting people to calm the fuck down.”

      She’d probably have a better name for it.

  51. I’m a bit happy and disappointed at the same time. I think continuing the story from the point of view of one of the characters that interacted with Taylor, to have that familiar element, is essential. I just didn’t think it’d be Victoria. Of New Wave, I think Amy and Crystal would’ve been better, but that’s probably because I didn’t really feel much of anything for Victoria when reading in Taylor’s point of view. After glow worm p9, I was hoping for Madison or Sophia since the bullies were in my opinion, the most affected by Taylor.

  52. Ah, so it begins.

    Quite interesting, the change from a semi-naive second trigger to a jaded, and dare I say tired, woman, searching for scraps of parahuman knowledge. Did she perhaps lose her powers, and is now desperate to feel close to what once was?

    I wonder how she feels about Amelia.

    Thank you for writing.

  53. For a while I was thinking we had a MC that wasn’t a cape.

    In other news IT’S FINALLY HERE (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ WARD ✧゚・: *ヽ(◕ヮ◕ヽ)

  54. And another nail in the coffin for the “Golden” side of the Golden vs Gold Morning debate.

    Well. Scott will just have to wait say…. 9 weeks for this? More. Oh the fun we will have. Oh the teasing. If you guys like Worm, you should probably give We’ve Got Worm a peak.

  55. Wildbow I just have to say, you are a genius at making me care about a character in a few words. I knew nothing about this character as I started reading but you managed to make me like her in just a few paragraphs. By the time she was calming the old man I was already on board with this girl being our protagonist. Just bravo.

  56. So did Vickie get her powers taken away? I can’t see her leading a normal life with the oppressive conflict drive that goes with existing as a parahuman. That said, the story wouldn’t be very exciting if she didn’t even have powers or the potential to get them.

  57. Interesting start, to the story.

    Some feedback on the website. I would prefer it if the chapter text column would be centered either according to the the whole site or the banner. Also I think it could be a bit wider (the right column with the search field is very wide). Maybe like in the about section though that was even less centered. In the F.A.Q . the questions could be links to the answers and questions in the F.A.Q. And maybe there could be a second color theme. I personally like this one but I know (and probably you have heard it too) that there are people who are very adamant on prefering black on white.

  58. Pretty pumped for the new series. For the people not getting the Cape hate, I think everyone needs to keep in mind that the details of Gold Morning aren’t terribly clear to most of the public; all they’re really familiar with is the fallout and that capes were involved.

  59. I very much wonder how Victoria feels about her time as a stationary pool of flesh.

    I blitzed through Worm around this time last year, subsequently burned through Pact, and have been keeping up with Twig until its recent conclusion. I’m real excited to be here for the start of Ward!

  60. Also, don’t think your Patreon banner shenanigans went unnoticed, WB.
    Victoria seems to sport a pretty clear Resting Angry Face on it, so she doesn’t really have anything to tell Cami about.

  61. I’m loving the look into this new post-Gold Morning world. Everything’s so different and i’m looking forward to seeing more of this.

    Victoria being the protagonist was really surprising. I was expecting a new character for the sequel, but having it be Victoria’s a good tie to the first series, which is never a bad thing, and i’m interested to see what’s been going on with her.

  62. Well, I didn’t see that coming.

    So, Victoria is now working as a teacher in a paraphobic environment. At least one person is going to figure out her past identity pretty soon, I bet. From what I can remember, Victoria was studying Parahuman Science before canon start, so it isn’t really that surprising to me.

    She was pretty empathic to the people involved in the accident, which is interesting. Won’t really know how her character has developed until we see her interacting with some of the older cast. Definitely interesting that “Parental Unit One” is her assigned name for her mother.

    In relation to her powers… I’m not sure. At the very least she has much greater control now or at least exercises greater control. At the most… well, between Panacea and Bonesaw it wouldn’t be inconceivable that her powers may have been permanently removed, ala Contessa style.

    Her stance on villains vs heroes seems to have shifted somewhat, going by how she defended Nom de Pomme (great pun there!) to the students, althought that may be a position she feels she has to adapt in such a hostile environment. I suspect we’ll be getting some interesting insight into her perspectives in the near-future.

    The cast and environment of the school setting is interesting and very much in keeping with what I’d expect of a post-GM world. And maybe we’ll finally get the full form of that lecture that the Wards were talking over back in the Sentinels Arc!

    Thank you very much for the new serial, Wildbow! Praise be to the Boar!

  63. …she’s picked up a lot of wisd0m in the past few years, hasn’t she?

    I want to say that I’d be another voice of deescalation if I joined the patrols. Even as a teenager. Hard to know how you react to a trauma, though.

  64. Wow, it finally has begun.

    I’m curious about the title Ward, as many already pointed out that Victoria never was a ward, but alternative meanings for the mental ward comes into mind. I do wonder if the title will have a deeper meaning like with Worm, or more metaphorical meanings.

    I kinda saw it coming that we got Glory Girl as a protagonist, but I’m not sure if I’m happy about it. I hoped for a new character. But we’ll see.

    1. Maybe Madison Clements ends up getting a job as teacher at Victoria’s school and ends up being Vickie’s responsibilty. Madison the girl who caused suffering, under the watchful eye of the girl who ended up suffering at the hands of Madison’s victim.

      1. To be fair, the most suffering Taylor inflicted on Victoria was covering her in bugs once her force field went down, unless you blame her for bringing Vicky to Panacea for healing during the Slaughterhouse arc. Bonesaw’s clearly at fault for Amy losing it, with some arguments to be made for Tattletale making it a bit easier on her… but even then, Tats tried to stop Amy from going past immediate stabilization when it happened.

  65. So we have a Vicky and she’s going to be our new MC. When I saw the title I was thinking we see Vista as the cast. Still this I like!

  66. “It was a second chance for humanity as a whole, and they’d gone and screwed it up from the start by coloring the city gold, of all colors.”
    Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
    I couldn’t get through the first paragraph. Not bad Wildbow. I mean really after Golden Morning… Well off to a great start.

    And having finished… Well shit I was wondering who our lead is. Good thing I’d finished my Cocoa or it’d be all over my screen and keyboard.

    1. I can only imagine that whoever planned this lived under a rock during the apocalypse, and when they set up the city they were like “Hmm… hope… hey, that Scion guy was hopeful, right?” and nobody had the heart to tell them. 😛

  67. Well I must say this I should potentially the best birthday present I’ve ever received.
    Finally we get to learn more about Lil miss Victoria and I’m incredibly excited for this

  68. So happy to be able to read my first Wildbow serial Live! Looking forward to see what the next couple years brings with this story. Definitely wasn’t expecting Glory Girl to be the new Main character!

  69. Vicky.

    Well, that’s the hookiest of hooks to hooks to hook the readers fast.

    But. You know. Vicky.

    Jesus christ.

    Well, consider me hooked.

    1. I’m so heavily hooked, it’s as though Hookwolf came back from the dead and got Jack Slash to extend his hooks again.

  70. And we’re back.
    I’m so happy I get to follow this one from the beginning.
    AND FUCKING GG IS BACK AND NOT A FLESH BLOB
    Can’t wait to see what happens next

  71. Wow first time Im following a wb serial from chapter 1! And noticed something funny about the emphasis on on the parahuman asylums and the choice of gg as the protag. Wildbow has preempted his trademark his “wb protagonist insanity spiral!” She’s already been to crazy town and come out the other side!

    Oh who am I kidding of course he’s going to find a way to drive her totally batshit.

    1. I dunno, her first action in the plot was to *de*-escalate. It’s gonna take some serious work to get past the sanity barrier that clearly accumulated from constant exposure to Jessica Yamada. 😛

  72. I’d like to think we know your patterns by now so i was waiting for that massive shock of a line to balance out this otherwise kinda boring start, and booooy did it deliver, complete and total shock to the system, so many questions? does she still have her power? WHATS GOING ON?

  73. Is anyone else not seeing the subscribe to comments button? I like being able to check what comments are new in my E-mail, saves have to slog through ones I’ve read. In fact I’m not seeing any of the usual WordPress login/logout stuff under my comments. Is this just me?

  74. You know, I have to say, I’m a little bit saddened by the character. I didn’t really like Glory Girl as a character-she always seemed shallow, at least, when she wasn’t a pool of flesh. Maybe there will be an opportunity for huge personal change? The thing I liked about Taylor was always the ability to scheme. But Glory Girl never had the need to scheme, with the pseudo-Alexandria powerset.
    I wonder if Taylor will make an appearance herself?

    1. Im with you. Of all the interesting and creative powers in the universe of Worm, super strength and flying seems to be the most boring ones… but im hopefull that wb got something up his sleeve

  75. Waaaaait, so this school is running some kind of junior PRT afterschool program? Am I reading that right? I feel like I must be missing something here because that seems like a humongously bad decision on someone’s part.

    1. Now, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt here. They haven’t yet graduated to the point of teaching children how to clean a gun while looking right down the barrel, or training them how to cook homemade nitroglycerin.

  76. I read Worm after it had been completed and caught up with Twig the same week it ended.
    I am so glad I still get my Wildbow fix! 😀

  77. I am so very happy that the sequel is starting. I am surprised that Victoria is the new main character as she wasn’t my favorite in worm, but if anyone can completely turn me around about a character it’s wildbow

  78. Wow, didn’t expect Victoria to be protagonist, wonder what happened to her powers? Maybe Wards has multiple protagonists. I’m curious to see what happens with Of5 (of 5, a multi trigger? I got it.) He seems like an interesting character.

    /Corrupts out

  79. Starting since the first chapter… I feel really giddy right now! I mean, I’ve read worm after it was done, and loved it. And NOW! Now… now I’m with you guyz on the front row. So, I was wondering… Do Wildbow have schedule to posts? I mean, I’m already so nervous wanting the next one, I don’t know if I can take the anticipation of always being on the lookout for when it’s out…

  80. GG as protagonist isn’t that surprising. If I remember right, she and Panacea were the original MCs of an early draft of Worm. (Or maybe even of 2 early drafts?) And, again if I remember right, that story was supposed to have ended with Amy being taken to the Birdcage?

    That ended up being told in Worm even though WB went with a totally different MC and narrative arc. So it’s obvious Wildbow is really interested in her as a character. Her arc in Worm is one of the most disturbing things in that story, which says a lot. I’m looking forward to more horror.

  81. This is the highlight of my year. I caught up with Worm somewhere during Cockroaches, so following along with it week by week again is going to be such a great experience.

    And Victoria! So many possibilities, so much potential. I never got the fandoms take on her, I always thought she was a great character. Not a great person maybe, but a great character.

  82. This was a brilliant opening to the sequel; I liked the way it set-up how things have changed for people and it’s rather refreshing to have someone with a more positive outlook as the POV character.

    The only problem that I had related to this was that I let myself get spoiled as to the ending line.

  83. Also there was some mention earlier in the comments that Michael might be Lightstar, which I hope might be the case; it’d mean that we might get to see a bit more of what the Brockton Bay Brigade was like

  84. Great to have the chance to follow the sequel to the most-epic-story-I-have-ever-read as it is being published!

    This first chapter was definitely an interesting start, and the choice of protagonist was definitely a curve ball. I was fully expecting a different MC, but I always assumed that it was going to be a completely new character. I was not expecting it to be a character from the old cast, let alone that character to be Glory Girl, given what happened to her.

    However, the way the chapter unfolds, it makes it seem like nobody knows that GG is (or at least used to be) a cape. It would be understandable if GG had a secret identity, but from what I recall from Worm, her identity was public. I could understand that nobody knows about her previous life as a cape if she changed her name and the de-blobbing had given her a new face, but… she is still using the same name as before. I am sure that this is not a plot hole and that Wildbow knows very well what he is doing, but it still makes me wonder about what is going on. Maybe I am making too many (wrong) assumptions about what was unpacked in this chapter?

  85. Well this is an interesting choice. There is a slight chance it’s another reason for the author to explore their straight girl/lesbian fetish again but I’m all aboard.

    1. …..What?

      Unless this happened in Twig or Pact, I’m not sure what you’re referencing to with a ‘fetish’ aspect – as Vicky/Amy wasn’t anywhere near that.

      And while I personally doubt Vicky will be involved with Amy in the story, if it happens, it’s at least got some significant backstory associated with it, so I’m not sure how it qualifies ‘exploring a fetish’.

  86. I was expecting a new character as protagonist but I am pleasantly surprised to find Victoria has snatched the role. Her own story still had lots of place it could go by the end of Worm so there’s a lot to be interested in while you build up the pieces for new intrigues.

    Good first chapter sir, I can’t wait for the next and I’m glad I’ll be able to follow as they are released this go around.

  87. If this is two years after the apocalypse, and they’re apparently starting over on another Earth, how do they have enough infrastructure for a city? If they have police, why do they need to give high school kids *obviously fake guns* (which have never, in the history of the world, stopped an assailant) and send them out? Where are they getting the food for this city, the money and raw materials for skyscrapers and memorial pillars? Why aren’t they putting the kids who apply for patrol on a waitlist and sending them out to farms in the meantime? Seriously, the first thing any fledgling society needs is food. They should have a shortage of farmers, if every kid is *that* excited to get a fake gun.

    Why does this world have enough infrastructure and free time for high schools, for universities? How is this already an information-based economy when they’re still recovering from losing most of their population? Where did those police officers get their training? How could they devote the time to sending officers through an academy when rebuilding civilization would have been their first priority?

    Why do individuals get their own pillars, instead of the group memorials we saw in Worm, if there are so many more dead? Why do people have cars? Where are they getting the gas? How did they set up drilling and fracking operations so quickly? Why don’t high schools recruit kids to the oil fields? If the population is so tiny, shouldn’t walking be the main form of transportation? Even if they imported tech from another Earth, shouldn’t they have difficulty running it? How do they have cell towers, electrical wires, electricity plants? How did they import *that* from another Earth, if that’s what happened?

    1. I had assumed based on some statements in the epilogue to Worm and in the teaser (something about a new skyscraper every day) that they have capes helping rebuild. Actually, just a few capes can help with a lot of the problems a rebuilding civilization faces.

      We know Masamune facilitates mass-production of tinker-tech, but it’s entirely possible that his abilities can help with other technology as well.

      And as I understand, at least some of the worlds they are attached to already had civilization—the infrastructure was already present in some places, which lets the others build faster.

      A lot of technology could have been salvaged from the ruins of Bet and the other devastated worlds, too.

      Presumably, the police were trained before the end of the world. And to answer another question, by training teens with fake guns now, they get a head-start training them as police. Maybe it won’t scare anyone off, but it will teach them to respect their weapons, if Gilpatrick is half as tough in his training as he sounds.

      As for the memorials, having a full plaque for each person makes it into a memorial for the dead, instead of a reminder of the tragedy that killed them.

      1. Okay, but that still doesn’t explain where all of this is coming from. Alternate worlds *can* supply food for a time, but this Earth can’t last on donated food forever. If all of the teenagers are busy joining patrol groups, where is the food coming from? Who’s farming? Farms exist, but who’s working them? Farming is a lot of hard, dusk-to-dawn work, even with modern technology and conveniences, and they’re going to need farmhands. Those patrol groups aren’t going to contribute anything to the food supply; they’re just a drain on it. And yes, a cape *could* drastically increase farm output, but what are they going to do when that cape dies? Or if they quit? They need to have some kind of stable system in place that isn’t dependent on someone whose powers could very well be one-in-a-million.

        And speaking of the memorials, who’s making those? They sound as if someone put a good bit of effort into them. Who’s making them? Where are they getting the raw materials from? How much is this costing? How does the government justify diverting the resources (materials, labor, and time) toward the memorials rather than toward more practical things? If the city is still so new that they don’t have lawns, how do they justify painting the skyscrapers gold?

        1. Dude, knock it off. It’s the first chapter, you can’t expect all of those questions to be answered already. Answers will come, chill the hell out. -_-

          1. These unanswered questions are keeping me from enjoying the story. I have a right to ask them, and a right to ask them publicly.

          2. If you can’t enjoy the story because a million different worldbuilding questions haven’t been answered in the first chapter, I have no idea what to say to you. It seems to me that you’re just looking for a reason to hate on the story and make yourself look smart.

        2. Victoria mentioned that a hero cape-turned-rogue was making the memorials. Even if a cape’s resources aren’t permanently sustainable, that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful for them to help establish new civilization until it can find its own feet in terms of resources. Also, the Simurgh is no longer driving capes who try to use their powers to push civilization forwards insane, meaning things can progress much faster. Since it’s a single cape doing the monuments, resources and opportunity cost aren’t really an issue for them. They aren’t painting the skyscrapers gold, the skyscrapers are just paneled with glass that makes it look gold by the way they reflect light.

          1. There’s also some mention of farming in P.6: for example

            “…best option is to move to city periphery and farm. they say they will give us tools and resources to get started but good spots are taken or very far away and farming isn’t easy”

            Since this chapter seems to take place inside the city, I’m assuming these are kids of the people who aren’t out in the boondocks doing all the farming.

        3. Apparently some cape is using their power to make the memorials – I kind of suspect Vista, since she was talking about something like that in the Bitch epilogue. Which means it doesn’t take any resources at all – if it’s her, she just warps random rocks into those things in her spare time (and if it’s someone else they’re probably doing essentially the same thing).

        4. For one, this isn’t just one Earth; it’s almost 40.

          So for raw materials… The ruins can provide a lot, and any parahumans with matter-creation powers, like Golem, can contribute.

          For farming, there should be no shortage of workers, especially as rural regions likely suffered fewer casualties overall. One areas teenagers shouldn’t be integral to their workforce.

          And even if that isn’t the case, and if teenagers in this particular area are really so important, the chapter doesn’t seem to indicate that the majority of the teens wanted to join the patrols. And even _then_, Gilpatrick explicitly is trying to weed most of them out.

          And even __then__, I wouldn’t be surprised if Panacea and/or Riley had been leveraged to create a particularly convenient crop that requires less effort to farm. But that’s not really necessary.

          How long does it take to set up a farm, when you have people capable of clearing large amounts of land in minutes? They probably had the farms working soon after that first winter, and with that part of the supply chain working, they are free to rebuild an urban area as well.

          Even more importantly, we haven’t heard anything about their supply chains yet. About half of the world lives in cities now, and I see no reason that the situation would be different in Ward. But Victoria has more pressing concerns than the number of farmers in the worlds, so she doesn’t think about them.

          In any case, to quote a brilliant girl,

          “Why is it so hard to believe? Legend can shoot lasers from his hands, lasers that _turn corners_. Clockblocker and Vista can mess with the fundamental forces of space and time. Kaiser can create metal from thin air. Conservation of mass, conservation of energy, basic laws of our universe get broken by capes all the time. All of that is possible, but [civilization can’t be rebuilt in two years]?”

  88. Wow this is amazing so far, and with vicky here, we know that not enough time has passed to where all the characters we know are dead. Just wonder if the Third Entity will come into play

  89. I think not having powers is more likely than pretending not to. As I recall one of New Waves founding ideals was public identity and accountability.

    People knew Victoria Dallon=Glory Girl. That she is still using the name implies heavily that people know her background. I’m betting on has powers, but Amelia blocked them. Panacea never could manipulate powers directly, just the brain structures and other auxiliary biology that controlled them.

    When modifying Taylor for example, first she modified bug biology to work with her powers, establishing that her power had biological mechanisms (also reinforced by Coil’s bug-box) later when she supercharged her mind control, I suspect she altered the biology on Taylor’s end for human comparability rather than changing the underlying power, (supported by powers modifying themselves to adapt to their host)

    Thus I think the most likely option is Victoria’s powers being suppressed when Amelia de-blabbed her.

    Just something for consideration.

    1. Yeah, when Panacea made Khepri, all she did was knock down the walls in the corona pollentia/gemma that keep the passenger from growing into the entire brain of its host.

  90. Hmm, no theories on how this will play out.

    Does Victoria still have her powers? If so, have they been altered?

    What’s the family situation, including Amy?

    What authoritarian role do capes play? Has the protectorate been nerfed?

    And let’s not forget about Teacher and the Simurgh.

  91. First WB-novel where I’m there at the start. I honestly didn’t expect Victoria there. But good for her that she’s recuperated. But that moment when she finally stated her name. Jaw on the floor.So excited!

  92. Okay, I know we’re all super hype about our new protagonist (not yet suffering), but can we talk about how awesome the opening lines were? Such a cool perspective about how humanity already screwed up by making their repairing city golden. I thought that was awesome.

  93. Well, well, well; what do we have here, Ms. Glory Hole.
    I’m hooked — Victoria had one of the most interesting stories in Worm, and I am really curious about what’s happen to her. The obvious questions are sticking in my head: Does she have her powers? What is her situation with her family? Amy?

    Some people have raised that New Wave believed in the accountability of the heroes. I’m not sure if GG here still thinks — or ever thought — that. Our introduction of her character was a rather punch in the face of accountability: almost killing a guy and asking her sister to cure him so he wouldn’t have any proof in court. Furthermore, when using PHO she uses a private account, “Point_Me_@_The_Sky”, not “Glory Girl”. I wonder now what her morals are and what she believes now. I kinda want her to end up meeting Lisa again just so we can see old wounds reopen.

    Something will happen in the protection of Bad Apple. Either GG will meet someone or something really bad will happen that will start moving the plot foward — so I can’t wait to see what it is.

    1. I’d like to add something I realized after some time: Worm was the story of a Super-villain who was ultimately a hero, saving humanity and making it overall better there than not. With this title, Ward, I can’t help but think that we are getting the story of a Super-hero who ends up making destroying humanity or creating a tragedy of similar proportions making her, in the end, a greater villain than hero.

      It would be beautifully ironic and immensely fucked up.
      Therefore, there must be some truth in it.

  94. That “Glo” have a reason! That “Glo” there for Glory! Shining, fly and wormish turn into girl again. Welcome back and nice to see you, one of the earliest heroes!
    The mood is nostalgic. A car accident, an angry old man, a frustrated girl against the crowd… Look like some pieces are put together into things.

    Victoria really suits the role of the new Worm’s MC. She was “betrayed” by a girl who was her sister. The family moved away from her and she was abandoned by heroes. She spent a lot of time in isolation. People are opposed to people like her. (Huh. The synopsis heroine was partially suitable for Sveta, so I really hope that there will not be a turn with the death-change of the MC.)
    It will be interesting to see her side of things and get deeper as a character. She feels very … wise. Adult. Professional. Responsible and cautious (who are you and what did you do with Vicky?! Call M/S emergency NOW!).
    Trying to understand who the narrator is and what his powers are, I even suspected that this is some sort of Social Thinker who scans the emotions of people. Although this is more a skill than a change of powers.
    Or maybe she just changed over time in the asylum. Or after treatment. Or is it just the end of the world. If her powers remained the same, then her self-control became stronger – the aura does not flow away. It seems she is still strong, at least stronger than the old man.

    The list of cases was interesting. Case 1, Case 15, Case 32, Case 90 … How many secrets.

    Is this title again mean antonist personality? Should we compare the list of known Wards to find some person?..
    Or it could be someone like the Guardian of/against the Cycle. Maybe something.

  95. Woah, it’s so cool to be here to read from the start of this story! I actually only read Worm a few months ago, and then I took a look at Twig’s World Of Bonesaws premise and went “Nope.” So it seems like I had really good timing!

    I have to say, I think it’s telling to the differences between our new protagonist and our old one that Victoria’s first action in the story is *de*-escalating a situation. Also, I really like what we’ve seen of her here! She really seems to have mellowed out since her days as a Brocktonite, and I love the cape scholar thing she’s got going here.

    I have to say, I was pretty surprised to see Vicky as our new lead! I was expecting Madison for the new heroine as my first guess – it just seemed natural to me for the new protagonist to be introduced in the last bridge chapter, and her story of growing to learn the truth and make up for what she’s done under the shadow of Taylor Hebert could have been neat, or else my second guess would have been an entirely new character – but either way, I definitely wasn’t expecting someone who had any more than a tangential appearance in Worm, so this is an interesting direction. :O

    I do have to kind of wonder what Wildbow’s planning to do with Glory Girl, since barring any weird applications of her forcefields she’s a fairly straightforward Alexandria package. That said, I thought the same thing about bug control when I first started Worm, so I trust he’ll find a way to make things interesting regardless! And I am kind of entertained that we’re going from a character who used a Master power towards a main modus operandi that could be classified as primarily a thinker/shaker, to a brute cape who has something classified as a shaker power despite really working more as a master power. 😛

    Finally, I was wondering, is there a mailing list for this website?

  96. !!!!!!

    Wilbow please my heart will explode. I can already tell that this is gonna atleast be my second favorite novel (Can you guess my first 😉 )

  97. Huh. Vicky as the new MC. Can’t say I’m super excited for that, but I’m not opposed.

    Also, am I the only one that thinks Amy just straight up cloned her sister a new body and transferred her mind in wholesale instead of trying to fix her earlier efforts? It would explain her current seeming lack of powers.

    1. That’s not actually too unlikely, except the only cloner we know of is dead, and his labs destroyed.

      I think it’s more likely that she was rebuilt based on her mother or someone else, unless Amy can grow a body directly from DNA now.

  98. Always glad to see the synergy between the comments and the story-ride WonkyBurbles develops. It should be possible to read all the posts between chapters so long as we keep up-to-date. The archive panic from Parahumans 1 has always seemed rather intimidating – I’m looking forward to what develops this time in real-time. ^_^

    Most people probably won’t see this comment, way down after post 300, but I’m looking forward to the generation of a fan-audio reading. Wishing all relevant projects luck!

    Also, Psycho Gecko, I’m awating the new-poster response. This one is a recipiant of a gentlefolk of the year award, and will respond with full cordiality. Let’s see if that goes interesting places.

  99. I’m very pleasantly surprised, both by this choice of protagonist and the evident direction of the story. The whole New Wave arc was one of my favorite parts of the original, but I did feel at the end that some final denouement or consequence for them was lacking. So it’s really cool to see this continuation. I’d thought of Victoria becoming an ally or party member for the new protagonist, but I never seriously imagined she would be the main character herself. A very different kind of protagonist to Taylor, which I think is all to the good.

    Can’t wait to see the family gatherings. They must be excruciatingly awkward.

    I think Victoria still has her powers, but just isn’t using them due to fear and trauma. Or at least I can’t see how she could reasonably have lost them. It seems hard to believe she’d be wandering old Brockton Bay looting and going to meet strangers from the internet if she didn’t, anyway, though it’s difficult to say without knowing more.

    Sounds like Bad Apple might be Mangled_Wings from PHO. It would make sense if it was her team which was debuting. They seem to be friends with Sveta, who would know Victoria from the asylum, so that might be her in with the group.

    Anyway, read Worm in mid-2015, by which time Pact was done and Twig was already pretty well underway. I tried both a few times, but bounced off, so this will be my first time following a Wildbow serial. I’m looking forward it.

  100. An interesting start, and a surprising reveal at the end of the chapter regarding who the protag is this time around. Seems rebuilding is going well, but also seems general populace opinion on Capes is quite soured compared to pre-Golden Morning.

    To be expected, really.

  101. What an intersting chapter to start off the sequel with. And Vicky as the POV. Huh. Seems like the first draft of Worm now doesn’t it? 😀

    I can’t wait to see where this goes, and how odd to be here at the start as well!

  102. …Wow, that is a lot of anti cape sentiment. The emphasis on Gold Morning in particular is kinda odd because, well… this is a setting with Endbringers. Unnatural disasters that capes fail to stop were actually pretty common, and it didn’t look like anybody was complaining then.

    The sheer scale makes this worse, sure, but it’s still really strange for several years of precedent to do a complete 180- to go from “oh yeah the Brockton Bay capes did great against the S9, see how they only managed to raze half the city” to “Every cape in the world pulled off an unprecedented amount of cooperation and organization to stop whats basically a god from ending everything forever, but we’re still mad because a lot of people died.”

    Heck the idea of Bet having a threshold for “too much collateral” is kind of weird.

    Maybe there was already a strong anticape trend in Worm that we didn’t see because of Taylor’s biases?

    1. AFAIK, the last that we saw of GG was blob-girl. I think that it would be safe to say, however, that Amelia ended up going back and restoring her to a mostly-/completely-human body sometime during the timeskip since Worm.

      1. https://parahumans.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/30-7/ :

        > I watched the individual members of the swarm touch ground. The girl with healing powers had been placed deliberately next to a living pool of flesh with multiple heads of golden hair. The healer’s hands were covering her face, but she didn’t step away.

        > Her hands slowly lowered, and she laid her eyes on the monster, which was actively, ineffectually reaching out for her.

  103. Hmmm… So Vicky was the female friend of of5 (who was collecting articles in Glow-Worm)? And she didn’t get into College. Which would make her Point_Me_@_The_Sky, instead of GlitzGlam? Which would make GlitzGlam either Shielder or Lightstar (or Panacea… but that seems… you know, unlikely).

  104. Hello Vicky.

    Really curious whether her powers are still there or not. Or if they’ve been altered into something else due to her stint as a human sarcophagus.

  105. Fantastic stuff! Was not expecting Glory Girl.

    Wildbow (if you read this far down the comments), I would seriously consider changing Gold Morning to Golden Morning, which is what I’ve seen most fans calling it. There’s a reason for that, it rolls off the tongue much more naturally, as Golden Morning is two trochees (GOLD-en MORN-ing). You could even have both be used in-universe.

    Anyway, great stuff, keep it up!

  106. First post for me. Just subbed up (cancelled my EVE sub I hadn’t played in a while to compensate). Been lookin’ forward to this for so damn long. I probably ought to check out Twit/Pact, but Worm was the one I got really into.

    Gotta say, that name drop at the end caught me off-guard. Looks like Victoria’s gotten a bit more book-smart since we last saw her? Would make sense. Getting blobbed probably didn’t leave her much to do except read. I’m really glad she got fixed, tho. That was always one of the events in the first series that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Not just for what happened, but that it could be fixed if someone hadn’t decided to bury their head in the sand instead (Amy…).

    Don’t get me wrong, Glory Girl was an asshole…. but nobody deserved to live like that. And it looks like it slammed some humility into her, if nothing else.

  107. I just want to let my presence known, and that I am excited and hyped that finally, I can be one of the guys who will always check when the next chapter will be online.

  108. Gotta admit, I was disappointed that Victoria went along with the “scare everyone away from patrol block” approach. It seems pretty obvious to me that all it’s accomplishing is to scare all of the reasonable people away. And if it’s obvious to me, it should be *hecking* obvious to Victoria, who can actually see the “can I kill a cape yet” expressions on the only people who don’t end up dropping out.

    If it had been me, I would’ve painted the patrol guard as a highly elite group (“We only want the best of the best!”) dedicated to service and protecting others. Basically the principles that the original PRT should’ve been founded on. Making it clear that selfless heroism is expected of members and then making the comparison between them and the best of the capes (even bringing in the more tactful capes to talk to them and go on missions with them) would not only tend to attract those kids who genuinely want to do good but do a lot to defuse the anger of those who have it out for the capes.

    Obviously, this wouldn’t solve the problem by itself, but it would definitely help. And it’d be a darn sight better than the current method, which is actually making things worse. Ah, well. I suppose a riot was bound to happen eventually…unless we’re actually pulling off that “Yamada university of getting people to calm the fuck down”?

  109. Wait! So this is a spin-off story instead of an actual sequel? Hmm, I’m not sure I like that. I was expecting a sequel. In my experience, Most of the time when you use an already established character as a new MC, it tend to lead to one of two things happening. Either the MC is boring because he or she can’t “grow” as easily with the story as an original character….or the MC end up becoming unrealistic because the author cheats and give him or her weird power boosts and/or personality changes to make the story work. I hope that is not the case here.

  110. *fangirlish squealing*

    Ahem. It’s great to see this story beginning, and I can’t express how excited I am for Vicky as a main character. Also pumped to see how the world has developed post GM. Is this new megalopolis going to be a dystopian nightmare city winding through its many dimensions, or can they learn from the past and make a brighter future?

  111. Man… I feel so conflicted. I loved Worm, but going with another female protagonist feels like we’re getting another Taylor. Just reading the first chapter, I’m getting massive Taylor vibes. Goshhhh, why.

  112. In almost at the beginning this time. Looking forward to the ride, albeit mostly because looking backward doesn’t give the best of views.

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