Daybreak – 1.2

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I had badly neglected my locker.  I had an office, so my locker in the changing room was more for the things I didn’t use much at all.

Bag.  The backpack was light, but it only had the nonperishables in it.  I’d done a few patrols for Gilpatrick over the winter, visiting some of the settlements that were a little further afield, while many of the students were taking Christmas off.  I’d also used it for my fitness test.

I set it on the table in the center of the room.  Something to weigh when I was done getting outfitted.  For now, I just needed it out of my locker.  The bag took up the bottom half, the armor took up the upper half.

Outfit change.  I couldn’t go out in a skirt and body armor.  I had some self respect.  The pants in my locker were part of an emergency change of clothes, heavier fabric intended for winter and trips to Bet when the weather was bad.

I hadn’t put the pants through the wash since having to shovel snow over the winter, but I hadn’t worn them much either.  There was still salt crusting the heels, white against black fabric.  I walked over to the sink and rinsed the worst of the salt off, then rolled up the cuffs a bit so I wouldn’t have wet pants slapping against my ankle.

I kicked off my shoes and hiked up the pants so they were under my skirt, then unfastened the skirt.

“Victoria,” Gilpatrick said, behind me, a deep male voice in the girl’s change room.  I jumped a little.  “Are you free to talk?”

I turned my head.  There wasn’t a door to the girl’s changing room, but there was a solid wall blocking the view.  I could see the edge of Gilpatrick’s arm – he stood with his back to the wall and the changing room.

Camisola was in the room too, unpacking and repacking her kits for her bag.  She met my eyes.

“I’ll step out,” she said.

“Thank you, Cami,” Gilpatrick said.  I pulled my shoes back on and laced them as Cami left the room.

Belt.  Holster.  I threaded the belt through my belt loops, careful to position the holster.

Cami was apparently out of earshot, because Gil spoke again.  “Thank you, Victoria.”

“Give me Jasper,” I said.  “For my squad.”

“Jasper?” he asked.  “Why?”

Well, that said a lot, didn’t it?

“Because I’m paranoid,” I said.  Paranoid on more than one front, but I wouldn’t tell Gilpatrick that.  I had suspicions and his willingness to give me Jasper would tell me things.  “Is anyone else standing outside the door?”

“This conversation is just you and me.”

“Okay.  I know Jasper, and I’m honestly more worried about the attitudes of the people you gave me than I am about the protest or whatever it is people are going to pull with Bad Apple.”

“Jasper’s attitude isn’t great.”

“Jasper is a joker and he can be immature, but he can give that five pounds of gun speech because he believes it.  He’s in this because he thinks capes are cool, not because he’s pissed.  Give me one person I know will agree with me.”

“I kind of need every senior I can get.  But I’ll give you that.”

I bit my lip, thinking as I worked the combination of the safe at the topmost section of my locker.  I pulled out the pistol and holstered it.  I kept my hand there, reminding myself of the weapon’s weight as I tried to figure out how to word my question, and if I wanted to ask it.

“Then how about you take some of the angry ones?  The new guys you were giving me.”

“That was a quick assessment.”

I gathered the pistol magazines and slotted them into the pouch, before setting to attaching the pouch to my leg and belt.  “I don’t want them.  I don’t want to get some people from elsewhere with their own habits and ways of doing things, and have to train them on top of doing this thing.”

“Take them, Victoria,” Gilpatrick said.  “They came with good recommendations, they know their stuff, and if it does wind up being a protest, you’ll want the extra bodies.  If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter.”

“Things are never that simple, Gil,” I said.

“Take them,” he said, firm.

“You owe me for this,” I said.

“I know,” he said.

I sighed.

Armor.  I pulled my vest from the bottom of the locker.  I saved it for last because once it was on, I wouldn’t be able to bend down or move as easily.  The old name and number was still visible by the impression that had been made in the armor when it had been punched in and painted on.  The steel-wool scrubbing I’d given it hadn’t erased the whole impression.

I didn’t know who Cameron was or where they’d ended up, but I wore their armor now.  I tucked the papers in between my chest and the armor, where the straps would help keep them in place.

I spoke, “It’s a cushy job, I get to geek out and show off, and I like my office and the access I get to the portal, I don’t want to take that for granted, but you owe me a few already.  This is one more.”

“I know,” he said.  “I’ll make it up to you.  I’ve got to run.  Kids to torture.  I’ll send Jasper your way.”

“Alright,” I said.  “Do I need my full pack?”

“No,” he said.  “No, I wouldn’t do that to you.  Full pack is a torment I reserve for the newbies.”

I was glad to put my bag back in the locker.  I heard Gilpatrick walking away, raising his voice to shout orders.

I used fingernails to comb my hair back, then began braiding it.  I had to look in the mirror to make sure I’d gotten all of the stray strands.

Hi me, I thought, as I made eye contact.

How to describe that feeling?  Something resembling relief and a sinking feeling at the same time. It was a small feeling but still one that I would carry with me for the rest of the day.  That day would be a little bit worse because of the moment, but it would feel more stable for the reminder, too.

I had a good two years of experience to draw from, in figuring that out.

I’d stopped braiding my hair, I realized, and I’d started holding my breath without realizing it.  I exhaled, closed the safe, spun the dial, closed the locker, and walked out onto the floor of the building, resuming the braiding of my hair.

Forward.  Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.  Moving on with the day.

I caught up with Jasper as he joined the group.

“I’m driving, apparently,” Jasper said, wangling the keys in front of me.  “And keeping you company.  Gilpatrick explained the situation.”

“Good,” I said.  I pointed in the direction of the bus.  We started walking.

“You’re friends?” one of the new guys asked.

Still braiding, I looked over at Jasper.  “Enhh.”

“You can tell she’s really diplomatic,” Jasper said.

“Work friends, kind of?” I said.

“We don’t hang out,” Jasper said.  “I’m not sure what we’d do if we did.  We don’t have anything in common.”

“We got stuck together for jobs and errands enough times we became familiar with each other,” I said.  “We get on okay.  Jasper’s cool.  Just don’t ask him about the tattoo.”

“Tattoo?” someone asked.

“I’ll explain when we’re driving,” Jasper said, smiling.

We reached the bus.  It wasn’t pretty.  A half-size school bus, rust had been mostly scrubbed away and it had received a paint job in black with white sides.  The emergency exit at the back had been redone so it was the main way in and out, and a passenger seat had been added at the front.  There was an area for supplies and bags to be stowed between the wheels at the right side.

I wrapped my braid around itself a few times, and tied it there in a slightly messy bun-coil, then climbed up to the passenger seat.  The seniors climbed into the back.  There were a few faces I recognized but couldn’t name, a dozen more that I didn’t recognize and definitely couldn’t name.  I could tell that they were from elsewhere by the fact that the armor they’d brought with them had been painted black, rather than have the white letters scrubbed away.  Twenty-four in all.

Jasper took the driver’s seat, starting up the bus immediately.

Even parked in the shade, even in September, the heat was such that the seats were uncomfortably hot.  I’d thought about removing my armor once my hands were free, and carrying it by hand, but I decided to keep it on for the extra buffer.

Didn’t do anything to spare my ass from the warm faux-leather seat.  I didn’t like being aware of my body to that extent.

“Where to?” Jasper asked, rescuing me from my thoughts.

“Norwalk-Fairfield span,” I said.

“Rural, isn’t that?” Jasper asked.

“Last I heard.”

Jasper had to almost stand up to get the perspective to see through the open back of the bus.  He reversed out of the lot and took us onto the road.

“Maybe you guys can answer.  What’s the deal with stretches and spans?” one of the new guys asked.

I turned sideways in my seat, looking back.  Now that I was sitting and looking back at them, they were older, I noted.  Seventeen at a minimum.  “You guys are from one of the denser parts of the city?”

“New York Central.  Near the Bet-Gimel portal,” a girl said.

One of the two big ones, then.  We’d bled into the areas surrounding the portals.  Brockton Bay had been the first, but we’d had a few in a few major cities and New York was a big one.  The cluster of settlements around the portals in the northeastern US and people’s desire to have ready access to that cluster and the resources, community, information and security it afforded had played a big part in the megalopolis forming.

One blob around New York, one blob around the New Brockton settlement, clusters south of New Brockton, near what would or should be Boston, and everything had spread out or extended from there, mostly hugging the coast and connecting to one another.

I explained, “We’ve got these long narrow bands of mingled city and agriculture connecting the primary settlement points, to the point it’s hard to say where one thing starts and the other ends.  And instead of building five big houses they’d rather build an apartment building that hosts twenty, which makes things fuzzy with the distinctions of urban and rural.  So we get the ever-expanding megalopolis blob and we can’t figure out what to call it, even though it’s already this monster.”

Our progress out of the city center was slow.  Construction.  Endless construction.  Jasper seemed happy to be driving, even at a crawl.

“Yeah,” the first guy spoke.

“In terms of the bands that rope everything in together, we go by the cities and locations that were there beforehand.  If you look at where Norwalk would be on a map, that’s the name for the region we’re heading to.  If it’s east-west it’s a span.  If it’s north-south it’s a stretch.  But it’s all a part of the city.”

“What if it’s both?” someone asked.

“Then it’s neither,” Jasper said.  “You just give it a name.”

“More accurately, you try to give it a name and end up in a heated, months-long debate about what to call the area, with way too many emotions tied up into things,” I said.

The guy from right behind me said, “I don’t see why we can’t just give the individual areas names like they used to have.  If it’s close to Norwalk, then we call it fucking Norwalk.”

“Hey,” I said.  I gave a stern look to the guy who’d said it.  “Swearing’s fine, but not if you’re getting heated.  We’re chatting, not getting up in arms.”

“Right.  Sorry,” the guy said.  He didn’t look particularly sorry.

We picked up speed as we pulled onto a street with less construction.  With the back of the bus open and the windows on either side of Jasper and me rolled all the way down, the wind whipped through the bus.  The city smelled like dust, drywall, and hot pavement.

I dangled one arm out the window, moving my fingers and feeling the air moving against them.

“It gets complicated,” I said.  “Geography’s slightly different, they’re hardly checking longitude and latitude exactly when we settle in one place or another.  They’re doing what the surroundings allow.  Means the Norwalk we’re going to might actually be between two places, or off to one side.”

Jasper chimed in, “I always remember the Norwalk-Fairfield span because it’s close to the portal for Earth N.  N for Norwalk.”

“Yeah,” I said.  “I guess that works.”

“I’ve got a question for you, though,” he said.

“You want to talk about your tattoo idea.”

“Yes,” he said.

I rolled my eyes.  “Do what you want.”

He turned his head so he could talk to the back of the bus while watching the road.  “We’re doing the squad thing, right?  And a lot of us are doing this with the idea we’ll police the capes, or help them out.”

“Police them, mostly,” a guy said.

“Opinions vary,” Jasper said, “But I don’t want to get sidetracked.  What I’m thinking is, what’s better than a good callsign?  We have nicknames to call each other.  The trouble is getting a good one to stick.”

“Opinions on what a good callsign is are going to vary,” I said.

“Quiet you,” Jasper said.  “You and I have talked about this and I’ve determined you have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to this.  You know the cape stuff, sure, but you clearly don’t get this.”

“You want to decide your own callsign?” the girl from the back asked.

“Jester,” Jasper said.  “And I swear, if people don’t start using it, I’m going to make it happen by getting a tattoo of a jester and ‘fool’ written beneath it, right on my bicep.”

The protests, naturally, started rolling in from the rest of the bus.  He couldn’t decide his own callsign, why would he have it say fool if he wanted the callsign to be Jester, why even have it be Jester?

I tuned it out, sticking my head out the window.  Jasper tried to sell the rest of the bus on his idea and was very thoroughly shot down.  In this, at least, all was right with the world.  It was a bad idea.  Forty year-old Jasper didn’t need to live with the mistakes of seventeen year-old Jasper.

We drove past skyscrapers paneled in gold-tinted glass.  Solar glass, it was supposed to be called.  We drove past parks with the same rough-edged slice of nature that touched the schoolyard back at the high school.  We drove past a lot of construction, and we were lucky that it didn’t slow us down much.

“Victoria Dallon.”

I’d heard my name.  I was broken from my reverie.  How long had we been driving now?  The city was seemingly unending and I didn’t recognize the landmarks enough to nail anything down.

Victoria Dallon.  I looked at myself in the bus’ side view mirror.

“What was that?” Jasper asked, while I remained silent.

“Name sounds familiar,” the voice said, from the back.  It sounded almost smug, knowing.  “Can’t quite place it.”

“That so?” Jasper asked.  “Maybe keep it to yourself, then.”

“Is that how this is?”

“I think it’s how everything is,” Jasper said.  “Not just this.  When you’re bringing up the past, whoever you’re talking to, there are two likely possibilities. First, it’s good, and we miss the shit out of it, or, second, it’s bad and why would you bring up the bad except to be a tool?”

“It could be important,” the guy said.  “It’s good to know who or what we’re dealing with.”

“Could be,” Jasper said.  “But I can tell you this.  Gil trusts her.  I trust her.  If you want to know who you’re dealing with, why don’t you start by taking our cue?”

There was no response from the back.

“Otherwise, if you’re not going to listen to us,” Jasper said, “why are you on our bus?”

Again, no response.

Then, belated, one of the others uttered a quiet, “Leave it.”

Not aimed at Jasper.  My detractor had been about to say something, I took it, and he’d been told to be quiet.  Not the best result, but it seemed to end the line of questioning.

I wondered if there was something nice I could do for Jasper, for sparing me having to handle that.

I fished the papers out from my vest, smoothing them against my lap.  I glanced out the window.  The city had thinned out, and I could see farms and tent cities further out.

We had to be pretty close to our destination now.

I twisted around in my seat again, looking at the people in the back.  I could tell by the way one of them held himself, shoulders square, eye contact forced, that he’d been the one to speak out against me.  He studied me like he would an opponent.

I addressed them, “When we get there, we stay together.  We’ll have a quick chat with the people in charge, all together.  If the police have orders for us, those are the orders we follow.  If not, I’ll tell you guys to get to work.  You head to the crowd, and you say hi.”

“Say hi?”

“Mingle.  Show your faces, let people know we’re around.  Ask how they’re doing.  What do they think?  Look for anyone antsy, especially anyone antsy that we’re there.  Don’t engage if there’s trouble.  Let the police know and let me know, and we’ll figure it out.”

“I like looping through the crowds,” Jasper said.  “We did that once or twice, when Gilpatrick was calling the shots, last year.  People don’t see the face or the hair, only the uniform.  If you loop back, it looks like there are more of us than there are.”

“Give them second thoughts?” the girl from the back asked.

“Something like that,” Jasper said.

I wrapped up.  “When we get settled and things are going to start, we’ll be keeping eyes out or standing guard, probably.  We regroup before then, we’ll figure out what’s up, and see where we’re needed.”

I saw people nod, then turned around in my seat.

“Which street?” Jasper asked.


“I think that’s it down there,” he said.

There were still a lot of tents and cubicle houses hereabouts, it seemed.  On the southern side of the main road, to our left, we had apartment buildings, stores, and something that looked like a brand spanking new swathe of city.  On the other side, it was more construction, tents, farm, and the houses that weren’t real houses- more like mock houses made of panels that had been bolted together, like overlarge tents with hard exteriors.

We turned away from the main road, into the deeper section of the city.  The community center was made of stone, had a squat clock tower situated on top,  and looked stately, even with the tall buildings surrounding it, many at least as tall as the community center was.  A patch of park with a fountain sat squarely in front of it.

School was just getting out, it seemed.  Students were streaming through the area.  They walked through and along the road to the point that we couldn’t get very close.  Many heads turned our way, curious.

Jasper found a parking space a block away from the center, and parked there.  Our people climbed out the back while Jasper and I got organized at the front.

“Jasper,” I said.

“Special orders for me?”

“When and if the rest of them are going through the crowd, stay near the front door.  If anyone gets nervous and ducks out, it might be something.”

“Should I follow?”

“Probably not.  Keep an eye out, let me know if anything happens.”

“And why is this a secret from the others?”

Because I didn’t trust the others.  They’d been foisted on me, they had clear attitudes, and I was worried that if push came to shove, they might let a troublemaker go if it meant fucking with the capes.

“Paranoia,” I said.  I started to climb out of my seat.  “Thanks for the backup back there.  Jester.”

Jasper grinned as my face fell.

“I’m sorry, but it sounds bad,” I said.  “I can’t make this a thing.”

“It sounds bad when you’re saying it as if someone’s pulling your fingernails out while you’re talking.”

“They might as well be,” I said.

“It’s good,” he said.  “It’s cool.”

“It’s against everything I stand for,” I said.  I climbed down from my seat.

“It’s great,” Jasper said, from the other side of the bus.  He tossed the keys into the air and caught them.

Some of the others were pulling on the armor they’d left off while sitting on the bus.  Once we were set, we moved as a group toward the town hall.

The fact that the community center was actually in the center of this neighborhood meant that the foot traffic was heavy.  A lot of it was moving around the crowd that had formed.  A lot of people with signs, but a lot of young and eager eyes.  Kids aged ten to seventeen, all fresh from their first day of school, genuinely interested in their fledgling hero team.

No police parked outside, at a glance.  No barricades, either.

Inside, it was standing room only.  Cheap plastic chairs were arranged in rows and columns, and there were many places where parent and young child shared chairs.

I saw some people up at the front perk up at our appearance, and the crowd parted to let us through.

I identified a woman with gray and black hair and a gray suit-dress that the other people up at the front seemed to be standing around.  I approached her.

“You’re in charge?” I asked.

“I’m the closest thing to someone in charge.  District representative,” she said.  “We don’t have a group like yours here.  You’re all so young.”

I kept still, not letting my emotions show.  I felt the sinking feeling again, without the relief, and without the steadiness that I got from seeing myself in the mirror.

Not a big thing.  It was like treading water and a hand on my forehead pushing me down, before pulling away.  Surfacing again, finding my equilibrium, realizing how tired I was as I resumed treading water.

I was very aware of the eyes on us.

“Do you have more outside?” the representative asked.

“More… of us?” I asked, finding my composure again.


“No.  No we don’t have more outside.”

She looked spooked.  More spooked after my ‘no’.

“I can’t help but notice that you have no police presence at all,” I said.

“We have some, but not many.  It’s the way it is in Norfair span.”

“Norfair,” I said, noting the coined name.  “It’s not really a presence, is it?”

“No,” she said.  “We didn’t expect this many naysayers.  With this many, they had to have come from outside the community.”

The crowd in the room with us looked eager and happy enough.  A few frowns, but rare.  Had it been just this, overlapping conversations, anticipation, bright eyes and parents with kids, maybe a few people ready to raise some pointed questions if given the opportunity, then all would have been well.

It wasn’t just them.  The protesters outside were audible, even with stone walls between us and them.  Two angry voices outside, for every one quiet, polite person inside.

I didn’t like how much this was stacking up against us.  The police not having much presence, the controversy, the number of protesters.

Paranoia again, that I couldn’t help but wonder about the recruits I’d been given.  Forced to take, as it had turned out.

Too many things together.

“I think we should talk to the capes,” I said.

“Please,” the district rep said.

She led us into the back room, just behind where the de-facto stage was.  The team of heroes was there, anxious, waiting to be announced and to step out in front of the crowd.

Four of them.  Their costumes were close to being clothing, but had just enough stylization to make them something more.  The masks and face-coverings helped to make them more cape-like.

Fume Hood did have a hood, as part of a green hooded coat she wore.  Fans were built into the coat, only partially disguised, each of them much like the ones that were built into the back of a computer, and they made her coat, hair, and hood flap.

There was a man in a deep purple tank top and skinny pants with glass jutting from his skin at the elbows and hands, his upper face only a craggy mass of glass or jewel-like shards sticking out of flesh, just beautiful enough to not be macabre.

A man about my age slouched in a chair, looking dejected.  He had something that looked like small shields over the back of each hand, three large scimitar-like blades jutting from the back of each shield like they were oversize claws.  He wore a top that showed his muscular stomach, with shorts that reached his knees.  A two-part icon was displayed on chest and belt buckle.

The last was a woman in overalls, muscular, with hair shorter than most of the boys in my troupe, something that looked like thick paint slashed across her eyes and nose, and covering her arms up to the elbows.  The paint was black at the very edges, where it was thinner, but pure white elsewhere.  Her eyes were black from corner to corner.

“Great,” the woman with the paint said, sarcastic.  “Just what we needed.”

“We’re here to help,” I said.

“We might need it,” Fume Hood said.

“Do you know who’s after you?” I asked.  “Or what’s going on?”

She shook her head.

“I might be being paranoid, but this feels off,” I said.

“A lot of little things,” Fume Hood said.  “Crystalclear’s getting a bad vibe.”

I nodded.  I looked at the man with the glass chunks where his nose, eyes, brow and scalp should be.

“Have you considered canceling the event?” I asked.

“We were actively debating it before you came in,” the man in purple said.  “We’re split.”

“Can we break the tie?” I asked.

They exchanged glances.

The painted woman scowled, “You can.”

The man with the claws stood abruptly, shoving his chair to the ground in the process, before stalking off.

“Okay,” the painted woman said, again.  She looked at the district rep.  “We’re sorry.  Can you have them disperse?  Tell the protesters they win.”

The rep nodded, hurrying from the room to where the people were seated.

“Death knell for our group,” the painted woman said.

“Maybe.  Probably,” Fume said.  She looked at Crystalclear.  “Feeling better?”

“No,” he said.

Fume nodded at that.

“Would you stick around?” Crystalclear addressed us.  “I wouldn’t mind the backup, if you’re here to help, and I have the sense this is going to get worse before it gets better.”

“Gut feeling sense or… power sense?” I asked.

I could hear the commotion as people started to leave.  I could hear the complaining.  Even before he answered, my gut feeling sense was that he wasn’t wrong.

“The latter,” Crystalclear said, corroborating.

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197 thoughts on “Daybreak – 1.2”

        1. Lol. Wildbow trolling the typo thread with his superpower of rewriting history expressed through editing comments.

          I’m here for this. 😛

        1. But the presence or absence of the n in an is entirely dependent on the beginning of the next word. It’s entirely unconnected to the one two after that.

    1. Not so much a typo as word confusion:
      “I kind of need every senior I can get. But I’ll give you that.” -> “…But I’ll give you him.”

      Took me a couple times reread to understand that he wasn’t conceding a point, but giving her Jasper. Compounded with the next demand beginning with “Then” so it sounds like “If you won’t give me Jasper, then will you take my aggressive guys.”

    2. This sequence is weird. It sounds like there’s a paragraph missing:

      “Paranoia,” I said. I started to climb out of my seat. “Thanks for the backup back there. Jester.”

      Jasper grinned as my face fell.

      “I’m sorry, but it sounds bad,” I said. “I can’t make this a thing.”

      1. That threw me off as well, but then I noticed she had called him Jester, rather than Jasper. So Jasper starts to grin, since the name is catching on, but simultaniously she decides that saying the nickname out loud is terrible, hence her face falling (presumably into that frown you get when you eat taste something disgusting)

  1. So it looks like Vicky doesn’t have her Brute powers, since she’s wearing armor. Or maybe she just doesn’t want to advertise her status as a cape. Only Wigglebean knows.

    1. Hmm … given the nature of her Brute power, armor would actually be quite helpful for her. (For instance, it would let her survive more than one gunshot.)

    2. She’s definitely getting outed in the next chapter or so.
      Protester throws a brick, it bounces right off, ‘poof’ goes her cover.
      Or, more likely given the foreshadowing, some crazy cape fight goes down, she gets involved, ‘poof’ goes her cover.

  2. Alright, so it looks like Victoria still has some serious body dysphoria issues from being a coffin for two years – not to mention that Panacea probably couldn’t do a perfect reconstruction of what she used to look like.

    Also wow, we still don’t know her powers situation. Well played. x3

    1. Even if her appearance has been entirely restored, it would make sense that seeing her own reflection would be disconcerting. A bad situation suddenly going back to normal doesn’t get rid of trauma. I really appreciate that this chapter touched on Vicky’s memories of being modified.

      1. That’s not even going into any lingering Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) she may be going through as well as Sexual Identity Disorder and post-Gold Morning PTSD every cap will have either by Khepri or Zion’s hands.

    2. Is it Panacea? Or Bonesaw? Most likely Bonesaw could reverse Panacea’s work, given her insane level of manipulation we saw. Of course that doesn’t really help her comfort levels.

  3. >The seniors climbed inot the back.
    “inot” should be “into”

    >Then, belated, one of the others uttered a quiet, “leave it.”
    “leave” should be capitalized

    >If not, I’ll tell you guys to get to work. You head to the crowd, and you say hi.
    missing a closing quotation marks there

    >There was a man in a deep purple tank top and skinny pants with glass erupted from his skin at the elbows and hands,
    “erupted” should be “erupting”

    >“Maybe. Probably.” Fume said.
    that period after “Probably” should be a comma


  4. You use “change room” once before switching to “changing room.” AmE generally prefers the latter, but it’s regional.

      1. Why start with it when he can torture his readership with anticipation? It makes a nice change from later, when he will probably torture us with torture.

  5. Interesting new capes. Crystalclear is quite the strange-looking fellow. A Case 53, perhaps?

    Also, it seems like Vicky still hasn’t fully recovered from her transformation. Forgetting to breathe, spacing out… I wonder if it’s just PTSD-like symptoms or if it’s something more…

    1. Or regular Cauldron … I’ve always wondered about those vials they were “passing out like candy” at the end. Didn’t seem to come up at all in the original plot, so I’m hoping they make more of an appearance in the sequel …

    2. I wonder if with the entities now dead and nobody guiding the shards anymore make it that any new trigger could look like that. I mean, if the shards from a dead entity lead to a physical mutation like case 53, could make sense if Scion’s now do so, too.

      1. Ordinary triggers seem to have been programmed well before the entities arrived, and operate independently – there probably isn’t any difference in those. (Eden never got around to programming hers, which is why the case 53s were so mutated.)

        The shards from dead Zion, meanwhile, are far more horrifying than just some crystal on your face: so far we’ve seen the black ooze man from the epilogue, and Casey Forks from Sveta’s prologue.

        1. Eded did have normal shards, though. Besides the ones that destroyed Contessa’s hometown and the ones Doctor Mother cut out. Some of them were dead or damaged, according to Zion, but apparently not all. They cause regular triggers and seem to work just fine. Hero had an Eden shard, and I think Miss Militia has one as well.

          1. Actually, after some archive binging, it seems that Hero’s shard was broken after all. It gave him cancer, and Zion had to fix it. And I’m not completely sure who Miss Militia’s host was. The entity in her trigger dream seemed to be dying, but that doesn’t necessarily prove anything.

          2. Hero was a Cauldron cape. He’s in one of the first test batches in Contessa’s interlude, the guy saying “to me, you are heroes” I think.

          3. Shit, I always thought that was Hero. Anyway, you know who I mean. The guy on the boat that first met Zion.

        2. The case 53s were part of cauldron experimenting with the serums, and later just administering them with less “regulator” than normal.

    3. Yeah I’m wondering if Vicky’s got very good reason to keep her emotional state stable. Like the Bruce Banner. Well maybe not turning into a rage monster, but her Aura going off.

    4. I don’t think that crystal clear is a case 53. It has been hinted a lot that monstrous capes are a lot more regular than they used to and that they come from triggers too now.

    1. If I had to guess, someone organized the out-of-town protesters as a way to draw the PRT there specifically because of Victoria, which increases the likelihood that Gilpatrick is in on it. She’s going to need the backup of another cape on this one. I know just the guy. Big. Mean. Has all the powers of certain quadruped livestock animal famous for handling conspiracy theories. Tends to sleep a lot.

      It’s time to wake up Sheeple.

          1. I don’t remember them having a superhuman named Sheeple. Ancient monsters asleep below human civilization, sure, but there’s a big difference between monster and superhuman.

            For instance, monsters piss on the seat of public bathrooms.

      1. Gilpatrick being in on it seems likely, yeah. Either that, or Victoria is actually (going) crazy. Which would be interesting from a story perspective, but also really sad, after everything she went through.

        1. I dunno, I think Gil is straight, but also that, considering what we’ve heard about his stated goals, that he’s giving her people more likely to fail under her because he absolutely wants people to fail. Throw em in the deep end, see who swims see who sinks. They got issues with capes? Put em with the ex-cape to see who gets compromised right away. But I also think he thinks she can handle it. If he wants HER to fail and not just those under her, why give her Jasper?

          1. The problem with seeing who gets compromised right off the bat is that there’s a certain critical mass that you absolutely DO NOT want to hit, without jeopardizing the mission. We have a lot of anti-cape sympathizers present, on a mission with an ex-villain with a history that could just as easily be seen as “karma houdini” as it could “done her time and atoned.” If all the people on this mission who could get compromised do get compromised? That leaves Victoria, Jasper, and charitably a d6-worth of people standing between protestors who want to lash out at the capes and a nascent superhero team whom this “PRT” is trying to protect.

  6. Norfair? Could that be a Metroid reference?

    Looks like action is about to start.

    I wonder why Victoria would be encumbered by a full ruck sack. Can’t she bench a cement mixer?

      1. Kraid was in Brinstar, Ridley, the lava monster and the golden zebesian pirates were the big bass in Norfair.

        I want a game that is just more super metroid.

    1. It could also be that she doesn’t want to deal with keeping up the act. If she’s lugging around a heavy pack, she’d have to sell it.

    2. Even if her brute power is in full effect large heavy things are still large and heavy. Ever carry a large TV still in box around? Sure it’s light, but it’s still a bitch to move. Carrying full pack around means her maneuverability is shit and she’s gotta hope she doesn’t swing it into anybody in the crowd. She might have the physical fortitude to carry it all day without breaking a sweat but that doesn’t mean it’d be fun.

  7. Do we have any idea if Victoria still has her powers at all? I’m curious about her relationship with Gilpatrick and whether she trusts him. It does seem like he may have deliberately screwed her over.

      1. But it is sooooo suspenseful…. This is my first time actually caught up to willbelow, actually reading stuff right as it comes out, and I am not sure if I love it or Hate it in comparison to being able to read straight through.

        The fact that she cares about the gun, the body armor, etc. All suggests that she is somehow quite vulberable. She is a cape, at least according to glow-worm, and she acted like one their, but maybe all her trauma after being literally protected her entire life (first suddenly swarmed by bugs when she had likely never had to touch an insect in her entire life, then the people she loves being affected by the events in Brockton Bay, then being almost killed by being eaten alive by acid, THEN being… “Amy’d” as it is now inown colloquially, then being controlled by the persom she may or may not blame partially for all of the above like a puppet, and finally being restored/borderline reborn into a typical human form, which while better then the alternative was probably quite the ordeal) she feels quite a bit more vulnerable than before, she realizes how fragile she is. That still doesn’t explain the being bothered by the pack, but that may have been acting, or it could be simple discomfort, or maube the added pressure to act limited by the pack?

        I know how hopeless it is to try and predict this stuff, but wowza it has got me curious. Thanks Wildbow!

    1. I feel like Gil is screwing her team over but not her. He made it clear he wants to dump a whole lot of these kids ASAP, so he put them in a situation he was pretty sure was going to go to shit so he can see a lot of them fail to keep it together. But he also sent a person he knew could handle it so the situation going to shit didn’t result in a full on shitshow. He wants kids drummed out, not torn apart by an angry mob.

  8. Is Crystalclear a case 53? That doesn’t seem like a normal human appearance.

    (Or possibly one of the people who got free vials during Golden Morning?)

      1. Psycho Gecko is a gift to humanity in these post apocalyptic times.
        Clichéd German pun very much intended.

  9. The tension is very much in the air right now. It’s going to be interesting seeing how this plays out.

    Thanks for the chapter.

  10. Interesting that Victoria hates codenames, and really doesn’t want to give Jasper one. Almost like there’s a group she had belonged to at one point that’s really big on the whole nickname/persona thing that she really doesn’t want to be a part of anymore.

    Typo note – Victoria calls it the Norwalk-Fairfield Span, but Jasper says he always remembers the Norwalk-Fairfield Stretch because it’s near the portal to N. Should one of these be the other? Or is there both a span and a stretch and I’m misreading this?

    1. To be fair the group she belonged to had the nicknames as more of a show thing since people knew her real name.

  11. Is paint girl Matryoshka maybe? The description sounds more than a bit like what she looks like while she’s riding someone, and she’s durable enough to have potentially survived Golden Morning. I’m not sure, could go either way with it being her or just someone that looks similarish.

  12. “We drove past skyscrapers paneled in gold-tinted glass. Solar glass, it was supposed to be called.”

    Ooh – solar-panel window glass! If I remember correctly, that’s actually a thing IRL (although not quite to the point of mass-producing it yet) … don’t know where they’re manufacturing it post-apocalypse, but I suppose that’s what tinkers are for.

    1. “You think this’ll make me look stupid?”

      “You’re Chicken Man. You have a wattle. Ya know what, fine, have at it. It’s not like those socks with those sandals will possibly make you look any dumber.”

      “Thanks, dude. You’re a bro. And good job on the dayglo orange thong. It really brings out the color of your eyes.”

      “I tried tighty-whiteys, but they were always falling down and blocking my view.”

  13. Why? Why repeat the sins of the past? Truly, humanity has disappointed me yet again.

    Another fucking street named Myrtle. New planet, same old tree-name streets.

    1. “Only two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity. And I’m not so sure about the former.”

      Yeah that mob’s there for blood. Ugly thing a mob, and nothing worse than when they are out of towners and don’t have to worry about breaking their own stuff. Sigh human stupidity and ugliness don’t ever seem to change. Which is why the androids I’m going to replace mankind with will be so much better.

      1. People from outside are also more likely to be radical (after all, they went through the trouble of coming all the way over here) and less likely to be protesting out of concern for the area (since they don’t live in it).

    2. “That over there is Willow, over here is Elm, that there is Poplar and here we got the Fruit Cakes…. I mean fruit trees. Apple, Orange, Lemon and even Guacamole , wait what do you mean guac doesn’t grow on the east coast?”

  14. Tension’s building faster than I anticipated – that ending really got me antsy for the next update!

  15. I enjoyed some of the pace of this chapter greatly. Even during moments a reader senses a setup for later, a glance of foreshadowing, etc.- they still can appreciate the less tense scenes.
    I can’t articulate things percisely, but I can see the growth and change in Wildbow’s writing from Worm, Pact, and the beginning of Twig in just these two chapters.

  16. On the plus side, Jasper seems like he’d be good for the mingling thing. I think they really missed an opportunity here, though. You need a good band, have people set up some drink and food stands. Grill something and let it waft over to the protest lines, then find reasons to delay the big team debut for a few hours. Wafting… wafting… Maybe send people over with grape juice for them to drink as a peace offering. Lots of grape juice. Let them have as much as they want of grape juice. Make sure the only available public bathrooms are those inside the place.

    After hours of wafting, have the food people close up shop and give their leftovers to the protesters, but only after someone slips in a little something to stimulate the bowels. Along with the grape juice, oughta have quite an effect. It’ll be kinda hard for them to protest while they’re shitting themselves. Stinky, sure, but it sounds like they could use the fertilizer on that Earth.

    Now to figure out if the bad feeling is due to the crowd of protesters, or due to the trap already set in motion that required peacekeeping wannabe PRT to be there. Ok, so first, we’re going to need honey…

  17. Always good to start things off with a bang and hit the ground running. Hopefully it will show us exactly what we get from our MC and supporting cast.

    I bet Victoria still has her powers, possibly with a PTSD/mental block to using them or they cause her pain, physical or mental. It could even go as far as losing control when the powers come out to play and she doesn’t want to hurt bystanders. Ooh better yet when her powers are activated or no longer dampened/held back her awe-ra goes completely out of control and its turned into some kind of a master power instead.

    First time reading one of these without binging the whole thing. I both hate it and love the fact i have something to look forward to twice a week.

  18. Being blunt and saying “Crystalclear says a fight is probably about to happen, please evacuate” might actually work in their favor – if the innocent squishes leave, so might the troublemakers. Or at least the less blatant troublemakers, and the appearance of public support for the others.
    (Look ma! I can think politics!)

    1. “Why should we trust him? He’s just trying to silence our legitimate protest! That’s what these capes have always done! They think that just because they’ve got special powers that they don’t have to explain themselves to us, that they can trick us!”

      When people have shown up to protest you, it’s very hard to get them to take your word that it’s in their best interests to stop protesting you.

  19. Welcome back to Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory.

    This chapter, we join Victoria as she steps out into the Metropolis in another world, and we’re getting strange Deja Vu:
    “In her eyes, I sense a story never told
    Behind the disguise
    There’s something tearing at her soul
    Tonight I’ve been searching for it
    A feeling that’s deep inside me
    Tonight I’ve been searching for
    The one that nobody knows
    Trying to break free”

    Open your eyes, Victoria.

  20. Well, ominousity builds, but at least it would seem this is the real actual Victoria, or someone very keen to live her life for her.

    If it turns out this is a redressed Amelia living Vicky’s life for her, I’m going to be very cross.

    1. I freaking hate you for putting that idea into my brain. Now until this Vicky flies or punches through a wall I’m going to be assuming it’s Amy and I’ll be waiting for the interlude/flashback where she kills the real Vicky while trying to make her normal again.

    2. That’s as evil an idea as it’s brilliant.

      That’s almost wildbow level.

      But Panacea couldn’t alter herself, so that would mean she might need help from Riley…

          1. And my point is that Riley wouldn’t need help from Amy. With enough raw materials, she could make herself look like anyone. Anyone could secretly be Riley, and you wouldn’t know until she shoved a cyborg spine down your throat.

        1. (Replying here because your last post is in the end and can’t be replied to anymore)

          But why would Riley even want to look differently? You’re missing the point. The whole point is that Amy would change her appearance, but can’t do it alone. Riley has nothing to do with that and no reason to change herself.

          1. You make a good point, Soadreqm, you aren’t quite paranoid enough. Yes, Riley could alter herself to look like someone else. But don’t forget that she can also make clones. It’s not just that *anyone* could be Riley. *Everyone* could be Riley.

    3. I’d suspect that, but for the comments she made internally about touching things. One could imagine that someone used to having a forcefield would shy away from some of the less pleasant aspects of the sense of touch.

  21. Did we previously know that Brockton Bay was north of Boston? For some reason I had always assumed it was somewhere in New Jersey…

    Also, anyone else picturing the claw hero as a young Hugh Jackman?

    1. I always had the sense that it was between NYC and Boston. (I always forgrt that there isn’t actually much “between” there to fit a city)

          1. I was told by someone who appeared to be in the know that this was the case.

            Later, when asked, WB said on Reddit that he didn’t recall deciding that. Of course, this doesn’t mean that he didn’t actually decide that (this was during Pact, as I recall, so he had a whole ‘nother story to write).

            But, given that Portsmouth is about sixty miles north of Boston, this does seem to be the case.

          2. Well if New Hampshire is the fanon/canon answer then I’ll accept that.

            But I just noticed that there’s a city called “Brockton” about 25 miles south of Boston and 10 miles inland of Plymouth Bay…

        1. I have always thought it was in the place of Portland, Maine. (No, not that Portland) The geography kind of fits, and when the portal opened, I was suddenly sure of it (because of the pun potential). But Portsmouth fits just as well.

  22. I don’t think this has been touched on by anyone, but I wonder how fast humanity will progress now that there’s no Simurgh to ruin big advance projects for everyone else. Should be interesting.

  23. Just a comment on the new website design… Whatever happened to the button to jump to the top of the page? I only found myself “caught up” on Wildbow stories a couple months ago, but I found Twig was easier to keep up to date on, because if I went to the home page, the most recent post would always be at the top. So “jump to top” + home banner would take me to the newest chapter, but this new site design seems to have broken both features.

    Now I need to scroll all the way to the top and then wait until the “Next chapter” button becomes a link, which is less than ideal. Maybe I’m missing something obvious, but it’s really frustrating to not have a consistent link that I can check for the newest update.

        1. Date shenanigans. The page for 1.1 was apparently created back in September, so it shows up as last chronologically.

      1. Super minor nitpick, but I just noticed that the link to the comments is at the top of the post instead of the bottom. From a UX perspective, that means I have to scroll all the way back up after reading a chapter to read/post comments. It isn’t ideal but it also isn’t a really big deal. Might be worse for people on phones though.

  24. Nice chapter. The plot is still inches thick, but we have a clear motif and a protagonist that, as far as we know, walks the thin line between humans and parahumans. The line about her being glad she didn’t have to carry the bag makes it sound like she lost her powers.

  25. Cool, new capes, I’m gonna take a wild guess and say Crystalclear is probably a Cauldron cape, what with his “costume” seeming to be part of his flesh.

  26. The upper half of his face is obscured by crystal shards jutting out of his flesh? I love that imagery! Crystalclear sounds like a very handsome man!

    On another note, the nickname Jester straight away reminded me of Trickster and Circus, ha ha.

  27. I very much enjoyed this chapter. I’m glad to see we have some people who appear to be eminently rational. Shows a good contrast to some of the other characters.

    I’m looking forward to the development of the “Victoria Dallon sounds familiar” plot line.

    1. Eh probably thinking of Dictoria Vallon. Course admitting you watched her movies might get you some funny looks.

      1. In a city of a million you share a name with at least 3 other people, yes first and last. In a megapolis of 50 you can bet there are at least 2 Victoria Dallons almost the same age as you.

    1. It’s Wildbow. Things are more likely go to Hell in a Hand basket than not. I mean it’d be a ginormous twist if things resolved in a nice peaceful civilized manner with nothing bad happening.

      Wait no spelling alert on ginormous? It’s a actual word? SWEET!

  28. I’m thinking that the moniker “point me at the sky” had something to do with Victoria when she was trapped as a flesh-blob-coffin. It’s the sort of thing someone who couldn’t move themselves might say to a caretaker, especially if the someone used to be able to fly.

    Also, I’m getting sparks of memory relating to a book titled, “Johnnie Get Your Gun.” But I don’t remember the book well enough to know if it’s a line from that book.

  29. I’m loving the new cape looks. Even after Armageddon, people still have an eye for style, what with the purple tank top and skinny jeans.

  30. Great chapter today. I would love to know if Victoria still has her powers but not knowing makes for great anticipation and story writing. I wonder how long we’ll have to wait

  31. @Wildbow.

    Are you allowing fanfic for Ward and if so, when? Asking because I have a short one shot ready.

      1. I understand where you’re coming from, but I think there’s enough of a difference in scale between mainstream professional media and indie web-published works – and difference in separation between fandom and creator – that I can understand why people ask. Some people are really uncomfortable about seeing their work remixed, reimagined, recreated … seeing fanfiction.

        I’m pretty sure the answer is “sure, go ahead”, but it’s not wrong to try to be respectful before publishing derivative works for general consumption. I’ll agree that it’s supererogatory, but it’s not wrong.

        1. Turns out that after finally getting used to this site and its menu I found the answers I sought in he FAQ. Packbat’s words are fairly to what Wildbow has laid down as guidelines there.

      2. Basically, I had an idea based on a what if ‘A’ and ‘B’ of Brockton Bay randomly crossed paths premise and I know that Wildbow used to be okay with fanfics of Worm, so I wondered this was the case with Ward (With the provision of no spoilers for other words of course).

        The other thing that gave me pause for thought was of course, how recently Ward began.

  32. >Then, belated, one of the others uttered a quiet, “leave it.”

    I think “belated” should be “belatedly.”

  33. “I’m driving, apparently,” Jasper said, wangling the keys in front of me. “And keeping you company. Gilpatrick explained the situation.”

    Should “wangling” be “dangling”?

  34. I like Jasper, too. I hadn’t thought of his point about bringing up the past.

    …a robust system for law enforcement that allows for enough police for riot control even in the case of out-of-town protestors. Another thing to miss from the past.

  35. All of the cluster trigger discussion from before is leading me to think that we are going to see one within the next few chapters, very likely brought on by the conflict that is beginning to arise between the two groups. Could the triggers themselves be altered by Victoria’s shard? Or could there be no effect at all and are her powers gone?

  36. Prediction for 1.3, Victoria gets outed as:

    1. Glory Girl
    2. Plain ol’ muggle
    3. Amy, with an exclusive Bonesaw makeover

    My bet’s on 1, with some changes(it’s not WiffleBorg without something weird)

    1. Well the Glory girl one is pretty much a given. She kept talking about how it was still strange to see her own face (a pretty clear reference to what Amy did to her. And her name is Victoria Dallon. And there are many clues to her not having power. I’m guessing she got cauldroned in some way like Taylor.

  37. I’m having trouble finding a subscribe button on the site, is there something I’m missing? I want to know when there’s an update immediately but I’m not sure I’ll always remember to refresh Tues and Sat.

    1. I’ve had the same problem. It’s also nice to have comments sent to my e-mail so I don’t have to slog through them all every time.

  38. Oh man, the feels. I was certainly surprised by the name drop in chapter one, but even all of the background information is just sucking me in here. How life has changed, the sort-of-maybe junior PRT complete with possible cape hate, then the actual cape hate…

    Damn good as always, Wildbow. Not much more I can say.

  39. She’s relieved not to carry the bag, wearing a sidearm and body armour and the fact that she has durable clothes that are worn around the ankles I think means she doesn’t have powers. She’s not flying around on these excursions to the wilderness, she feels she needs protection (refamilarises herself with the weight of the gun) and doesn’t want to carry something relatively light.

  40. Something I haven’t seen suggested yet. What if Victoria’s force field is something she can turn off? And what if she got her super strength from the forcefield?

    That would explain why she’s not insulated from the hot seat and why she was concerned about the heavy pack, without having to have lost her powers as an explanation. She’s intentionally not using her powers for whatever reason.

    1. Wasn’t it confirmed that she got her super strength from her force field? At least that’s what I thought all the time.

  41. I’m clearly behind the curve on posting, but it strikes me that it’s much more likely to actually be Victoria than anybody else, unless the identity fakeout is part of a long game plot line. And that feels more like something that, at this point, would require extensive knowledge of the backstory.


    I think it’s much more likely that either Victoria has lost her powers, is actively suppressing/avoiding her powers, or has had a significant change to her powers due to trauma (remember Grue’s secondary trigger/retrigger). How quickly we get an answer — and what the answer is — is probably grounded in what themes wildbow wants to focus on.

    1. Ok, I guess. So in a new game on Stardew Valley, I caught a gold star Super Cucumber the day before the Luau in my year 1 Summer, so I got that going for me. The melon crop came in, and that’s nice. Got a couple gold stars there. Set a hobo on fire… don’t worry, that’s not from Stardew Valley. No hobo ignition in that game.

  42. Crazy conspiracy theory time! Vicky isn’t Vicky; Amy went completely off the deep end, and assumed Vicky’s identity, brainwashing the rest of New Wave into going along with it. We’re meant to think it’s Vicky without powers, but eventually she’ll heal or mutate someone and the jig will be up!

  43. Okay, I want to get this written and posted even though I haven’t started Worm 2.0 yet. I read Worm years ago and liked it a lot – even though the superhero genre isn’t my general cup of tea, Worm’s take on the genre is the best that I’ve read. So I’m rather stoked to find that the sequel is finally getting written. I’m looking forward to it with way more anticipation than I ever did Pact.
    And also more trepidation. Honestly, it’s the fear more than the anticipation that’s driving me to post here, near the beginning, where maybe it’s early enough that some of my concerns can be considered. I probably won’t start reading Worm 2.0 just yet. If nothing else, I’ve still got to read Twig, which I also haven’t started yet.
    I suppose, before I begin offering unsolicited advice and criticism regarding Worm and its sequel, I probably ought to give a bit of background on myself. I’ll try to keep it brief, but anyone not interested can skip the next two paragraphs.
    I read a lot, mostly but not exclusively science fiction and fantasy. I generally shy away from the superhero genre because the main players, Marvel and DC, as well as their myriad imitators, tend to focus more on spectacle and never-ending storylines, both of which tend to bore me. I also love a good ending, and will forgive quite a number of flaws if a book gets the ending correct. The fact that Worm ended (it had recently ended when I first found it; if it hadn’t, I would probably never have started), the fact that it had engaging characters with understandable motivations, and the fact that it had “weak” superpowers used cleverly kept me reading all the way up to the blockbuster of an ending. I won’t say I loved the entire journey – most of both Slaughterhouse Nine arcs I felt were rather boring, especially the second one and the whole amnesia part of the first; and the Travelers arc was pretty dull as well, as well as the “Taylor joins the Wards” arc – but the Leviathan fight and its aftermath were great, and the final arc (the Scion arc) I thought was excellent.
    So I’ve read Worm. Twice, in fact. I got the bug again after reading another superhero trilogy by a respected author that I felt wasn’t quite as good as Worm, so I decided to read Worm a second time. I’ve also read Pact, which I thought was okay but…kind of disappointing. I’m planning to read or at least skim Worm a third time, to refresh my memory before starting Worm 2.0, but I don’t foresee myself ever wanting to read Pact again. I’ll probably read Twig, too – I’m not looking forward to it nearly so much as Worm 2.0, but I’ll give it a shot first. As of this writing, I haven’t read a single word of Worm 2.0. So when reading my hopes and concerns, take that under advisement.
    Without further ado, here’s what I hope to see in a Worm sequel:
    1) An awesome villain. The Endbringers were a good early stand-in as world-destroying villain, and Scion of course was everything one could wish for. The only thing I can imagine taking a similar spot in Worm 2.0 is the third worm-thing (not Scion or his mate but the third one, the one that made the mate crash and die rather than take over the world alongside Scion). Anything else is probably going to feel like something of a let-down.
    2) An explanation of whatever it was the Smurgh was up to at the end of Worm. What the whole deal with the Endbringers is, for that matter. As an aside, I hope it turns out that the Endbringers weren’t created simply by Eidolon wishing for worthy opponents. That explanation always seemed unsatisfactory. Yes, Scion said so. But Scion only had to say the words that would let him beat Eidolon. Those words didn’t have to be true.
    3) New characters to start, new and old characters to finish. I suppose this depends a bit on how much time has passed between the two series, but I’m guessing the time-skip is going to be five years or less (roughly paralleling real-world time passage), so the old crews should be around. It’d be cool to see what they’re up to, of course, but I’m kind of hoping that the sequel starts somewhere outside Brockton Bay, with new characters and places we haven’t seen yet. Let the new characters establish themselves, go through their own personal growths and challenges; and then, when things start really heating up, bring back the big guns: the Undersiders, Deliah (maybe wrong name – the seeing-the-future-in-probabilities girl), Contessa…you know the ones I mean. Taylor? I’m actually not certain whether it’s best to bring Taylor back or not. I’m leaning towards “yes”, because I think there’d be a lot of potential in doing so: I’d be interested to read the conflict and struggle inherent in her relearning how to effectively use her powers (since her new powerset behaves pretty differently than her old one, especially given the reduced range) while at the same time being unable to exercise them fully – remember, if anyone recognizes her as Skitter, she gets the Class S treatment. Plus, it would indicate that the chips are really down, if Tattletale and/or Rachel decide that things are bad enough to pull her out of retirement…and just convincing Panacea to fix the damage could be a major plot point in itself. Lots of potential in reintroducing Taylor. But not too soon. Maybe around halfway through, or two-thirds. Closer to two-thirds, I think. Things need to go bad first. World-threatening bad. Given that we’re talking about Worm, though, things getting bad is less of an if than a when.
    4) Under-classed protagonists using their powers cleverly to take down (or at least fight off) stronger enemies, without resorting to Deus Ex Machina. Honestly, this was the core of what Worm’s best action sequences were about. The Scion arc, of course, was both the best action sequence and also the one battle that the protagonists really had no business winning. Other memorable instances include Taylor killing Alexandria, Taylor and Clockblocker cutting Echidna in half, the Undersiders taking down Coil…again, you get the idea.
    5) A good balance of action and character. I’m not too worried about this one, but it’s worth mentioning because I feel that Worm sometimes strayed too far into the action range. One scene of Dragon outing Taylor in her classroom is worth a thousand irrelevant fights with the Slaugherhouse Nine.
    I could probably go on, but I figure it’s better to make a short list of the most important points than to get bogged down in minutiae. So let me just conclude with: Thank you for writing Worm, and thank you for writing Worm 2.0. I don’t know precisely when I’ll get around to reading it, but it will probably be sooner rather than later. Best of luck in the endeavor!

    1. I’d say this situation’s more the Alt-Right’s style. In this context, Antifa would be more like this Patrol team Victoria’s part of if it wasn’t government sponsored and they wore masks. I dunno where you’d find something analogous to vigilantes wearing masks in this universe, though.

      1. I dunno where you’d find something analogous to vigilantes wearing masks in this universe, though.

        What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

  44. Aaaand missed the chapter like a doofus. Really have to figure out how to sub.

    That mention of fitness training is interesting. Need more context, though.

    Cant help but wonder at how the team just… Broke apart. Some very interesting dynamics at play.

    Thank you for writing.

  45. Ok. So “Space Squid”/”Kraken-in-a-jar” is clearly Sveta, aka Garotte.

    “Heart_Shaped_Pupil” is Kenzie, a villainous cape with an unknown name and a crush on Mangled_Wings

    “Cap” is obviously Tristan, aka Capricorn.

    “of5” is some grab bag cape, who name starts with S. Possible relation to Sophia Hess (If confused, reply and ask. Otherwise, take my word for it).

    “Mangled_Wings” is some villainous cape, whose name starts with A.

    “Whippersnap” is one of the Irregulars(not sure which one).

    And I think “Weird_Insect”/”Curious_Cephalopod” is Charlotte, Taylor’s old lieutenant.

    PS: Anyone know who “[email protected]_The_Sky” is? Is it Victoria?

  46. “Rural, isn’t that?” Jasper asked.
    “Last I heard.”

    I can’t tell if that’s snark or a worldbuilding tidbit (something about places urbanizing with Shaker/Tinker help to house refugees?).

    “…So we get the ever-expanding megalopolis blob and we can’t figure out what to call it, even though it’s already this monster.”
    As “Deacon” Matson of Tunnel in the Sky once said, you don’t need to name something if you only have the one.

    Jumping right into the thick of things with some uncivil disobedience? This should be…it feels wrong to call impending violence “interesting,” but it probably will be.

    1. > As “Deacon” Matson of Tunnel in the Sky once said, you don’t need to name something if you only have the one.

      Sure you do, it’s easier to refer to it in conversation. It doesn’t have to be a name like “Steve” either. I once named a thing “LDI”. Thankfully it stuck.

  47. So, second chapter:
    – As was mentioned upthread, the body disphoria theme is very interesting; and it will surely ring relatable to many people. The fact that you are so ready to dwelve into mental health topics, and the care with which some of your characters show in discussing matters of the mind/heart (feelings and emotions is general) is one of the strength of your writing, at least for me.
    – I am intrigued by the repeated references to paranoia, though. Wonder what is up with that!
    – One of the main issues with starting a new world, apparently: naming things at a stage where people are able/used to giving their opinion on things, rather than having things be named by the powers in place/tradition.

  48. Sooo, I was wondering regarding Victoria, is she Still Skitter/Weaver/Taylor because characteristic wise she seems very similar or identical up till now. Also, age wise. And in the teaser, it said that she is in a different world and alive just without powers. Thanks for the clarification! Looking forward to read further 😀

  49. It just seems so weird to me to see people thinking of this sprawling conurbation as one city, especially when it’s so sparse in some areas. It’s just not what I’m used to. Sure, some of cities here used to exist as clearly distinct cities and towns before everything grew together, but I’m sure there are others that were never densely populated until the conurbation reached them (even if I don’t much care which ones they are), and they’re still their own cities.

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