Pitch – 6.1

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Capricorn’s weight tore him out of my grip, helped by the fact that I was lost enough at recent events that I’d almost forgotten I was holding him.

He fell ten or so feet and landed in a wet field.  The field was set on a slope and he slid a few feet before his feet found traction.  Ahead of us, Love Lost had already slumped to the ground.  Nothing to do with the fact that I’d hit her- everyone in Rain’s cluster had dropped.

I could try as hard as I was able and it was insignificant, whether it was holding onto Capricorn, talking to Ashley, or hitting Love Lost.  It didn’t feel like I was having an impact on things, and I’d cornered and help catch Mama Mathers, the one in charge.

I liked things when they were simple.  I could pick the biggest or most important target, remove them from the equation, and things would be better.  It was what I’d done with Mama.  It was what I’d done with Valefor, smashing his face in.

It was harder to justify causing that kind of damage to Mama Mathers, when we’d needed her for a trump card against the greater conflict, and when so many long-duration powers kept running when the user was incapacitated or killed.

Not that it had worked.  The Speedrunners had her and were escorting her to safety, the hostages were now both hostages and hostiles at the same time, and the fighting was more vicious than it had been before.

“Get Rain,” Capricorn said, below me, barely audible over the shouting and the echo of ceaseless gunfire.

“On it,” I heard Sveta, just as I started to fly.

Her handling it was faster and safer than me taking action.  I dropped from the sky to land beside Tristan, crouching to use the slope for some measure of cover.

“In over my head,” Tristan murmured, not hunching over so much as he slid down, resting against the slope with his arm back to prop himself up slightly.

“You mean the scale of this?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said.  I had some more exposure to the really bad stuff than Capricorn did, but I could sympathize.  I’d seen something like this with the Slaughterhouse Nine, but I hadn’t been there for the duration of it.  That situation had been fewer individuals, but the individuals had been worse.  In both cases, it kind of made things easier.

I’d been there for Leviathan, but that didn’t really translate to a small-scale war.

Sveta returned.  A moment later, she dragged Rain to us.  I pulled Rain close, and reached beneath the collar of his outfit to touch my fingertips to his throat.

“Alive,” I said.

Something exploded nearby.  Damp ground was sent skyward, and joined the rain in pattering down around us, speckling everything.

Sveta turned her face skyward, rain running down face and the curling leaves or tentacles of her mask.  She hadn’t collected or put on her wig again, which made her silhouette seem incomplete.  In contrast, I hunched over slightly, my hood keeping the rainwater out of my eyes.

“I know I’m kind of the leader,” Capricorn spoke, his voice quiet, “But I can’t think straight like this.”

“I know,” I said.  My eyes scanned what I could see of the battlefield, while my back remained to the worst of the fighting.  March and her group had backed off, the heroes were holding position at the woods to our left, and the Fallen were gathered across two farmhouses and the surrounding structures and fences, the two big buildings about two hundred feet apart.  They were using them for cover, and as a place to drag their wounded.

Prancer’s group was having a harder time, further north.  They had some vehicles they’d used to approach this area, but battle damage had rendered the vehicles immobile, and the trucks and cars didn’t offer much when  they were trying to protect themselves from both hero and Fallen.  Compared to the defensive line that Vista and Narwhal could provide, and the actual structures the Fallen had, the vehicles weren’t much, and the group had to work to huddle in the half-circle of vehicles.

Not that we were in a better situation.

The Valefor-controlled hostages filled the space between it all.  The group was shrinking as hostages charged after one group or another and were incapacitated or trapped.

“If we don’t have a plan I want to go to Weld,” Sveta said, quiet.  Her expression was grim, her face paler than usual in the gloom, damp with water.

“It’s a plan,” I said.  I tried to sound confident.  “We go to the heroes.  We back them up.”

Sveta nodded.

Capricorn twisted around, looking at the situation behind us and to our right, where the heroes were.  Orange lights began to flow across the gap, like fat, lazy fireflies.

Guillotines of ice or hard crystal flew from the heroes’ side into the mass of hostages.  The guillotines weaved between the hostages, avoiding them, and slammed into the farmhouse the nearest group of Fallen were using for cover.  A moment later, the guillotines disappeared, and the section of wall sagged without breaking.

Narwhal’s forcefields.

The Fallen cape with the horse’s head mask or helmet was facing Narwhal head-on, again.  He created shadow duplicates, and they struck out at the forcefields as the things hurtled past or toward them.  The effect was minor, changing the courses of the fields slightly, but as each construction tore past them, cleaving shadow duplicates in half, seeming to even hit the source of the duplicates, the guy persisted, and he produced duplicates faster than the fields cut them down.

Other capes in Narwhal’s group were turning focus onto him, and yet he was staying in the fight.

One of the lieutenants or leaders of a sub-family, it seemed.

Capricorn’s wall snapped into place, blocking my view.  We hurried along it, using it for cover against gunfire, with Sveta lunging ahead to the far end of the wall with Rain in one of her arms.  Capricorn lagged behind some, but he had to travel on foot.

We reached the treeline.  Two capes knelt by Rain.

“It all went to shit,” a cape I recognized as Fluke reported.

“I noticed,” I said.

I heard a grunt from Bay, a cape younger than me with a tower shield, and saw him struggling.  A shadow duplicate of the horse-head Fallen was perched on his shield, reaching down to grab him by the helmet.  Bay’s mask was meant to open, but the jet black form of the heavyset Fallen’s shadow was gripping it, holding it closed, and making his weight fully apparent.

Another cape blasted him, and he dissolved into wisps of shadow.

I moved to a tree I could use for cover, and assessed the situation.  I could see a shadow become not-shadow, at the same time the real Fallen became shadow.  He could swap places with any of his active shadows, and he was able to make them quickly, with those zig-zagging cords of darkness.

“Sveta,” I said.  “We might need you to do the flag trick.”

“Against a human?” she asked.  “I’d hurt or kill him.”

“You don’t have to, but-”

Two more duplicates appeared.  The cords of energy were dense enough near the frontline that it seemed like he could create duplicates near us at will.

“It’s Seir!” Narwhal called out.  “He had a kill order.  If you’re willing to kill, this is a time it’s okay!”

Seir.  I’d heard something about him some time ago, but not in the context of his powers or position in the Fallen.  The Mathers family kidnapped people, and Seir had taken a kidnapping victim for a ‘wife’, to use a loose definition of the term.  She was one of the ones who had escaped, and her story had been one of a few things that had marked the turn in the wider public perception regarding the Fallen.  After that, and some similar stories, the public and started to see them less as detestable pranksters and more as the horrific cult they were.

And from what little I could remember of her story-

“He deserves to die,” Rain said.

“Okay,” Sveta said.  Quieter, she said, “I don’t think I can bring myself to kill again.  I’m sorry.”

Bay was being harassed again.  Narwhal was flanked by two copies, and a cape used a tinker gun to obliterate one while narrowly missing Narwhal, while a forcefield appeared in a position that bisected the other.

Bullets hit trees and pinged off of the forcefields Narwhal had created to give the heroes cover.  Each time a forcefield was hit, it briefly became brighter, the edges and lines standing out in bright purples and blues.

“I think the cords are counting as living tissue!” Vista called out, from a point in the group of heroes I couldn’t immediately see.

Behind Seir’s living self, Imp appeared.  She jabbed out with a taser, and she touched only the shadow that he left behind.  It swung a punch, and she ducked, backing away as four of the ten active shadows turned on her, surrounding her.

The Undersiders were here.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

Capricorn’s walls sprung up just ahead of where Narwhal’s forcefields were, and she canceled the forcefields.

“Thank you!” Narwhal called out.  When she went on the offensive, it was with more fields and projectiles, less intent on Seir himself, and more intent on cutting through the cords that arced up into the air and down into the ground.  Seir’s numbers began to decrease.

A localized storm of power came tearing at us from an angle, like a tornado, but less of a cone and more of a sphere, with a bright green tint toward the center.  Narwhal had to stop her offensive to layer forcefields between herself and the sphere.

One of Parian’s stuffed animals marched out into the field just beyond the trees, and was immediately swarmed with three Seirs.

“I know I should, but-” Sveta said.

“It’s fine,” I said.  After Ashley, I wasn’t about to push Sveta to test a boundary.  I hadn’t known Ashley’s boundary had been as tenuous as it was.  I had more of an idea with Sveta.  I wanted to jump into the fray, but I wasn’t sure what I could do.

Rain groaned, to my right.  I turned my attention to him- one cape was helping him to stand.

“Do you know Seir?” I asked.

“He’s an asshole,” Rain said.

“We can’t seem to touch him.  He just dodged an attack from behind,” I said.

“What color are his eyes?” Rain asked, too battered and out of it to really stand or focus on the fighting.

“Yellow,” Bay called out.

“He teams up with another cape in the family, they’ll be someone in the background with glowing eyes.”

Narwhal began attacking with a different angle, aiming at one of the farmhouses.  Seir’s real self twisted around to look.

Rain filled us in, in a voice that made it obvious he was still hurting from his fight with Snag.  “That’s Ahrima.  She gives him danger sense and boosted perceptions by giving up hers.  She was supposed to be one of Mama’s helpers, she traded and paid for capes who could protect her if she needed it, but Ahrima didn’t work for her.  We still kept her around for others.  Get him while she’s distracted.”

Narwhal’s focus was on keeping the thinker-augment Fallen on their heels.  I looked at the battlefield.

“Vista!” I called out.  “Open space to the right!  Keep gunfire away!”

“Yep!” I heard.

I took off.  I flew low to the ground, my soaking wet costume making me feel heavy enough I might be pulled down into a crash landing, even though it wasn’t that big of a difference.

As I approached, I could hear the gunfire and see the bullets hit mud, with the occasional eruption of dirt appearing off to the side.  Where the light hit the rain in the right way, I could see the odd slant of rain, and I knew Vista had my back.

I used the clear route to get as close as I could to Seir before I changed course and flew at him.

Fighting on the ground meant using footing to get the most out of one’ strength.  A punch delivered from a stance with bad footing was ineffectual.

Fighting in the air meant using the same techniques one did with a leaping or jumping attack, with whole body movements, use of weight, but it was a constant use.  Delivering an effective attack meant using twists and whole-body rotations, downward or forward force, and timing all movements of the body to work with the flight and where the enemy was at.

I was out of practice, but I was reasonably happy with how I delivered my kick.

I was less happy that he looked past the eyehole of that hideous horse mask with glowing yellow irises and he turned to shadow the moment before my kick caught him across the small of the back.

My kick tore through his shadow’s midsection, and the upper half reached out to catch me by the throat with shadow hands.  It had no lower body, and it was keeping up the fight.

Ahrima had given him a bit of help at the right moment.

I hadn’t wanted to use the Wretch to hit Seir when Vista couldn’t necessarily protect me.  Now?  I could use it like this.  I let it unfurl, expanding out from me to cover me and extend into my immediate surroundings.  Teeth, legs, arms, hands, feet, without much in the way of rhyme or reason.

Fuck you for making me do this, I thought, and I pushed my aura out hard.

The Wretch tore through the shadow and several of the surrounding channels of Seir’s dark energy.

The Wretch and I began to go on the offensive, adding to the pressure on Seir by removing shadow duplicates and cutting off his power before it could extend too far out.

A bullet hit the Wretch, and I felt it disappear.

Seconds passed, where the painful weight of the Wretch was lifted.  The danger of the gunfire and powers around me paled in the face of the danger of the feeling.  It was deceptively exhilarating to have the Wretch gone, no longer available at a heartbeat’s notice.  I knew it was temporary and how temporary it was, but when everything else was so heavy, just that one deceptive moment caught me off guard.

I continued to go after Seir, chasing his real self in a mad, dangerous game of whack-a-mole, where the mole always won and the person with the hammer could be shot at any moment.  The Wretch returned, and a well-timed punch from a shadow Seir destroyed it a moment later.

The yellow eyes weren’t there all of the time, or even ten percent of the time, but Seir was evasive, capable of creating doubles and swapping places with them constantly.  He didn’t need danger sense to give us a one in twelve chance of hitting the real him.

Others were joining the fight now.  A Fallen cape or one of the bikers was approaching, grown tall, his flesh alternating between something that seemed hard, like calcified armor plates, and flesh that seemed too soft and fluid.  Another was approaching with arms raised above her head, and she seemed to be the source of pitch black circles that were now dotting the landscape and air around us.

I just needed to tag Seir at the same time the danger-sense cape was distracted.  I needed to do it soon, before he had help.

Forcefields flew past me.  Narwhal.  The forcefields that didn’t hit Seir’s copies arrived between us and the Fallen capes, then stopped on the spot and rotated, forming a wall of crystal to bar their path.

I heard the impact as the big cape hit the crystals, and I saw the colors flare, brighter than they had when the bullets hit them.  The portal cape was running around to try to get around the wall, and was stymied when the wall moved with them.

I destroyed two more shadow copies.  A projectile I only barely saw destroyed another two with one shot.

We’d reduced it down to three Seirs.  I went after one before more duplicates could spring into being, hit it, and reduced it to tufts of shadow.

The big guy battered through Narwhal’s shield.  He broke into a run, long limbs stretching and heavy feet pounding against the ground, charging me.

A forcefield hurtled into him, but this forcefield had a passenger.  Narwhal rode it, and she leaped off as the big guy caught the slice of crystal.  She landed, and her hair was still settling around her when the forcefields sprung into being to her left.

I punched another two Seirs, well aware I was fighting an uphill battle.

They had formed so each forcefield was a foot apart, and the stack of forcefields overlapped with the fluid armor brute, dividing him neatly into roughly eleven slices.

But the distraction had bought Seir time to make more doubles.  With yellow eyes glowing, he evaded the moving forcefields and changed just before new forcefields could cut him in half.

Two more Fallen and one biker joined the skirmish, jumping onto the black portals, which served to send them flying into the next black portal.  Each portal was a kind of teleportation gimmick, but they littered the area and were letting the Fallen maneuver with ease.  I saw their eyes glow like Seir’s did, and their focus was mostly on me.

That focus was partially by design.  My aura still blasted everyone nearby, and that drew their attention.

Still… fuck this.

“Narwhal!?  Can I leave you!?” I called out.

“Go!”

I flew away from the scene.  I looked back, saw Vista, and saw her give me the go-ahead.

Ahrima was my target.  I knew her general location, and she was too dangerous as a force multiplier.

I heard a series of gunshots nearby, and changed direction.  The first gunshots didn’t hit me, because Vista was altering trajectories, but as I spotted the shooter, I saw them firing recklessly, putting bullets in the air at random.  By pure luck, the shooter was able to land one shot and hit the Wretch.

My change of direction made me harder to track.  I flew back and down, touched the ground, and flew toward the sound of the gunfire, trying not to move in straight lines.  I saw the cover they were hiding behind and flew around it.

Staying low to the ground, I felt the Wretch re-emerge.  Limbs and digits dug into the ground, and tore up the earth below me.  My aura roared, the dirt flew around me, and I was within the center, cold and angry.

The shooter had been peering over cover, but the sound of the Wretch carving its way through the ground drew their attention.  They turned my way just in time for me to get in their face.

I swatted my hand through the air, and the Wretch followed suit.  The difference was that my hand hit air, and the Wretch hit the shooter’s gun hand.

The gun was torn from their hand and sent flying into the dark, wet field behind the shooter, and several of their fingers were broken in the process.

I hated guns.

I changed course, flying out toward Ahrima again, rising higher as I did.  I could see the rank and file Fallen soldiers, and I could see the Fallen with powers.  There was a concentration that suggested they were defending a car.

I flew at the car, and given how my course went from the shooter I’d disarmed to the vehicle, I approached at an angle where they weren’t really expecting trouble.  It let me hit the roof of the car with the Wretch, tearing it off, and between the flying pieces of roof and the aura, Fallen were left ducking for cover.

I saw the girl who could only be Ahrima, eyes glowing yellow, her demon mask featuring an eye on the forehead.  She was roughly Kenzie’s age.

My hesitation cost me.  Fallen rallied, and soldiers opened fire.  I spun in the air and spiraled down, and not because I was delivering a heavy hitting attack from the air.  An intense pressure caught my arm, and my first thought was that a power had made a black hole open up in my bicep, with the muscle, bone, and skin being sucked into it.

I landed in the mud, the pressure mounting in my arm.  I shut off my aura, because I didn’t need to draw attention to myself when I didn’t know for sure what had happened.

My heart beat, and the beat was hard like a hammer hitting concrete, and between that beat and the next, I felt the first hint of pain and realized what had happened.

Just a normal bullet.  I retroactively strung the events together in my head.  It had been a burst of fire from something that wasn’t a hunting rifle or pistol, three shots, all at once, and Vista hadn’t been able to curve the shots away from me.  One shot had hit the Wretch, and one had hit me.

I remained where I was for a moment.  While I had the benefit of shock to dampen the pain, I needed to figure out my next step.

I was surrounded by Fallen, I needed to deal with them before Ahrima.

If I was a cop, dealing with people with weapons, it would be okay to shoot first.

These guys had weapons and worse.

My rules weren’t like Sveta’s rules.  She never wanted to hurt anyone again.  I wanted to only hurt people if I thought it through and if it was right, lawful, and if I wouldn’t regret it.

Fallen were circling the vehicle, approaching me, and I flew at them.  My aura helped to slow their reactions as I bowled into them.

The collision hurt the soldiers.  My attention was on the masks in the group.  I needed to go after the ones with powers.

I saw the first one, and I flew at them, fingers dragging against skin until I touched a strap.  I grabbed it, brought out the Wretch, and used the Wretch’s strength to toss them skyward.

Bursts of strength, letting the Wretch start to emerge, but not letting it unfold to its full breadth, reach, and intelligence.

I flew to intercept and brought out the Wretch for a moment, so their legs would hit the Wretch or hit my invincible self as they descended. If I didn’t break their legs or feet outright, I would at least make it so they couldn’t walk for a good little while.

My arm throbbed.  Each time I became aware of the pain, it was doubly worse than before.

People backed away and used the car for cover against me, and I threw myself at the car.  I pushed it along wet dirt driveway and I pushed it into the group.

Not that effective, but it did make them relinquish their cover, backing up and spreading out.  They had guns, but they didn’t fire.

Ahrima was still in the car, which still had its roof torn off.  She slumped in the driver’s seat, draped over the wheel.  Shooting at me would risk shooting her.

I hadn’t intended that, but I wasn’t about to complain, either.

As a deterrent, it only worked against one select group of people, though.  Prancer’s group opened fire on our area, and a bullet hit the hood of the car.  Mud sprayed as a bullet hit the ground near the Fallen group, and they took that as an indication to retreat toward the house.

I flew to pursue, and someone in the group used their power while the others ran.

A beam, or a column of energy, transparent.  It enveloped me, and my forward movement stopped when I was only a couple of feet from the group.  I could fly side to side, and even slip out of the column of energy, but as it centered on me again, I couldn’t fly toward the source.

That black-hole pressure in my arm made it feel like the muscles in my shoulder and forearm were being twisted up and wrenched into the wound.  I pressed a hand against the approximate location of the bullet, and blood oozed between the fingers.

I flew straight down, Wretch out, and I hit the ground with all the strength I had.  The person shooting the beam lost their footing, found it, and centered the beam on me again.

Even with the Wretch taking the impact, the vibration and the shift in position doubled the pain in my arm.  For an instant, I wished I could pass out and be relieved of it.

Other thoughts flickered through my mind, almost in the same way that idle thoughts ran through one’s mind while they drifted off to sleep.  These weren’t restful thoughts, though.  It was the people writhing on the ground, and the old conservative woman I’d rescued.  It was the graffiti in Hollow Point.

I almost collapsed into that sequence of thoughts in a confused, angry haze.  I didn’t.  As I rallied, I felt my thoughts clarify with the images.

I couldn’t approach while the beam was locked on me, and I could feel other kinds of pressure mounting, like the head-rush from doing a handstand, but concentrated in my shoulder blades, back, buttocks, calves and feet.

I did as I’d done when Amy had pursued me, after the barbecue.  I swung, and I let the Wretch hit the ground.  Dirt and mud sprayed into the air and sprayed toward the cape with the beam.

The beam kept the stuff from flying into them, but it didn’t stop the clumps and clods from arcing up and over the beam, landing on and around them.

For a moment, they were blinded and left stumbling back by the force of the mud slapping against them.

It was a Fallen woman with a mask that hid most of her eyes and left only the mouth visible.  Her costume was molded to the body, erasing lines and features in favor of more smooth rubber expanses of ‘flesh’ like the ones around the eyes.  Only a few isolated symbols and words were carved into the rubber ‘flesh’, painted to be red and angry-looking.

I grabbed her by the rubber between her breasts and lifted her up into the air.  One-armed, I heaved her around and rammed her into the car’s hood, hard enough to knock the sense out of her.

A demon loomed in my vision.  I tensed- and I saw the demon reach down to the beam demon, applying the taser.

Imp.  She was the one who had knocked out Ahrima.  She leaned back, settling into the car’s passenger seat.

Right.

“We had the same idea,” Imp said.  “Go after this one.  I was quicker, y’know.”

My arm twisted in pain.  I looked back, and I saw that Seir was dealt with, as were his reinforcements.

“Oh, you’re hurt,” she said.

I wasn’t up to talking, so I gave her a curt nod instead.

“Go get yourself looked after.  I got her.  We got her, since you saved me the trouble of having to find out who had the car keys.”

I winced, in part because of the pain, and in part because it was another thing where it felt like actually changing the course of this greater thing was hard to do.

I’d broken the Fallen ranks, at least.  I’d stalled Seir and then played a part in Ahrima being disabled.  I’d have to console myself with that.

I gave Imp another curt nod, and flew back in the direction of the others.

Capricorn had been busy, raising walls between the various fighting factions.  It was changing the flow of the fight, and for better or for worse, the Fallen were focusing on Prancer’s group because it was the easiest to hurt.

Weld had reunited with the others, and the other Undersiders, March’s group, Narwhal’s squad with Vista included, and my team were all together, hunkered down by the wall.  I landed, and I dropped to one knee when it turned out my legs had surprisingly little strength to them.

Sveta and Rain were talking to Narwhal.  Sveta glanced at me, shot me a smile, and then returned to the conversation.

I was aware that March and Parian were talking, further away from the wall and the group.

Given where I’d landed, it was really Vista and Foil who noticed and approached me.  Foil saw the blood, and dropped to my side, reaching to her belt for basic supplies.

“Thanks,” I managed.

She glanced back at Parian and March, then turned her full focus to my gunshot wound.  The wound sucked at my fingers as I pulled them away from the bloody mess.

Vista waved somebody over.  The wave got Sveta’s attention, and she   hurried to a spot behind me, where she could support me from behind and look over my shoulder.

“Sorry,” I said.  “I got reckless.”

“My fault,” Vista said.  “I couldn’t get something up in time.”

“I didn’t leave enough of a gap between me and the people with guns.  Nothing you could do,” I said.

The hero from Narwhal’s group had a first aid kit.

“That could have hit the artery,” the cape said.  “This is something we can patch up, but you’re going to need more attention later.”

I nodded.  “Thank you.”

“You’re leaving?” Rain asked, voice carrying.  I followed his line of sight and saw March collecting a bag as her coterie gathered in a group just behind her.

She answered him, “It seems I’m not welcome here.  I’m leaving these guys alone, but I’ll be around until this thing is done.  We’ll talk.”

“Okay.  We’ll talk.”

March saluted, made a sound like she was chuckling under her breath, and ducked beneath a branch as she headed further into the woods.

“Good riddance,” Foil hissed under her breath.  In a different, softer tone, she said, “It’s been a long time, Victoria.”

“It has,” I said.  I didn’t like how my voice sounded, but I couldn’t devote the focus to sounding more like a proper wounded superhero. “You doing alright these days?”

“Present mess and end of the world aside?”

I smiled when I probably shouldn’t have.

“Yeah.  Surprisingly alright,” she said.  “You?”

I turned to look at my injured arm.

“Present situation aside?” she asked.

“Others said you were invulnerable,” Bay said.

“Ran into a power dampener earlier,” I said.  I turned my head to look over my shoulder at Sveta, who had her hands on my shoulders.  “It might have played a role.”

“Probably did,” Sveta said.

I turned to Foil, looking to change the topic, “What’s the story with this March thing?”

“Long story.  We’ll talk later, but- not in polite company,” Foil said.

I nodded.  The aborted conversations were rough, when I wanted any conversation at all that could take my mind off the pain.

Capricorn, not in my immediate field of view, reported, “Threw up some walls.  Prancer’s not having a good day.”

“Stupid to attack like he did,” I said.  I watched as Rachel Lindt emerged from the deeper woods, a mutant dog behind her.

Rachel Lindt was not my favorite person, but Vista raised a hand in a wave, and Rachel returned it, her expression dour.  I could let this particular sleeping dog lie, if Rachel was willing to do the same.

“There’s more to the attack than it might seem,” Foil said.  “The Fallen are growing too fast.  Thinkers, Tattletale included, concluded they were about to connect with some other groups and lock  up a bigger alliance.  They would have been too big to take down.”

“They needed to communicate with the heroes,” I said.  My expression twisted as the hole was pulled closed as part of the stitching.  They hadn’t even taken the bullet out, as far as I could tell.  I was aware that Rachel Lindt was staring me down with abject antipathy, and it bothered me that I was showing pain in front of her.

“They couldn’t communicate with the heroes.  The Fallen apparently have allies hidden in the Wardens’ sub-teams,” Sveta said, her voice a whisper.  “By the time thinkers rooted them out, others would have made moves.  Or at least, that’s what the Undersiders are saying.”

“Yeah,” Foil said.  “This is bad, but the alternatives were worse.”

“We didn’t expect it to be this messy,” Parian added, almost apologetic.  Foil nodded.

“You did a good job letting us get Seir, Victoria,” Narwhal said.  “Thank you.”

I nodded a bit, head bent in a nod, “That was Imp, mostly.”

Weird words to say.

“Maybe in part, but there were a lot of Fallen there that were focused on you, not us,” Narwhal said.  In a tone that suggested she wasn’t going to accept any dissent, she repeated the former, “Thank you.”

I nodded my acknowledgement, because saying anything would’ve meant having to acknowledge it when it didn’t feel wholly appropriate.  It was Narwhal being a leader and getting everyone in the right frame of thinking.

“Do we want to take the opportunity to walk away from this?” Capricorn asked.

“You want to run?” Bay asked.

“No,” Capricorn retorted, annoyed.  “Retreat.  We have outside resources, ones I won’t detail, not when we were just talking about potential Fallen assets in the Wardens, and you guys are Wardens.  No offense.”

“None taken,” Narwhal said.

“We can go, hold the wider perimeter, figure out what we’re doing.”

A few people talked all at once.  I was one of them.

The talking died down.

It was Weld who spoke up, clearly enough to be heard.  “This might be our one shot.  Dealing with the Fallen means getting close enough to go after the key members.  We might not get another chance.”

“They have a lot of power synergies,” I said.  I swallowed through the pain that radiated from my arm and shoulder, the swallow caught, and I was without words until I could swallow properly and speak.  I tried to sound normal as I explained, “The chaos plays a role, because it means they can’t coordinate one hundred percent.  There’s more room to break up synergies and teamwork than there would be if we pulled back and gave them an hour to talk and sort themselves out.”

“I can tell you who the big names are, and who the key lieutenants are,” Rain said.  “I know a lot-”

“Rainnnn!”

The woman’s voice echoed through the trees, thin and haunting.

“Cover your ears!” Rain said, taking his own advice.  “Don’t look!”

Don’t look.

I covered my ears, but I heard whispers even with all sound blocked out.

Mama Mathers.  Awake.

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185 thoughts on “Pitch – 6.1”

      1. It happens, we all love wild bow but we also want to see Sveta use her “kill all” button.

        Ward is more cerebral and hasn’t had a crowning moment of awesome from any of our heroes yet.

        1. I wouldn’t say none… Ashley had a pretty grand moment when she blasted a hole through BoB’s chest.

          ‘Heroes’, now that part you could fairly contest.

          1. Yeah, and Rain winning his fight. But I agree, we really need a crowning moment of awesome and Practical Guide has been nothing but that leading up to the beginning of the final book.

      2. There’s no reason to trashtalk another series, especially a good one.
        Wildbow benefits from a much larger fanbase but that doesn’t mean he’s a better writer than anyone else.
        Not to mention that most readers read more than one webseries and are fans of at least a few.

        1. a) its not trashtalk. saying it would be a travesty for “the inheritance cycle” to be more popular then “A song of ice and fire” it would be true. doesn’t mean inheritance is bad. I still enjoyed that for what it was. but it was nowhere near as well thought out or as thought provoking or creative. and i think the same can be said for the comparison between worm/ward and apgte.
          b) wildbow benefits from a larger fan base because the stuff he writes is top notch. better writers usually have larger fan bases (with the exception of people who write shit like twilight and cases where things become part of pop culture and explode in popularity for no understandable reason) case in point: i have a fan base of zero because im not very good at writing.
          c) i mean yeah i figured. I’ve read apgte (well the first 2 and 1/4 books anyways) i’ve given anything that made it into the top 10 on topwebfic a shot. i dont have an issue with apgte being as popular as it is. the travesty is that worm/ward deserve to be far more popular then they are. it’s ( worm is. i have high hopes for ward though) the single greatest piece of superhero literature in existence (and ive read A LOT). people everywhere should know about it and they don’t. apgte is good. but there are lots of good YA fantasy series and novels around… so i guess i just dont see it as being as worthy of recognition?
          tldr; eh it wasnt really trash talk.

          1. That’s just your own, personal opinion though.

            Of course Worm is great and Wildbow’s other works are pretty good, too. But they occupy the same niche (Kids with issues in a grimdark setting… and then it gets worse and usually slips into body horror & nightmare fuel) and if I want to read something else for a change, then Wildbow is not what I’ll look for.
            For me, none of the other series he wrote came close to Worm, mostly because they were too depressing. Worm managed to lighten the mood through humour more often than not, the other series were too serious to do that.

            Being an excellent writer and having a large fanbase doesn’t mean you’re the best, mostly because “best” is very subjective.

            And yes, what you did was trash talk, even if that wasn’t your intention.

    1. >After that, and some similar stories, the public and started to see them less as detestable pranksters and more as the horrific cult they were.

      “the public and started” should be “the public had started”

    2. “keeping the thinker-augment Fallen”
      > augmented ?

      “I punched another two Seirs, well aware I was fighting an uphill battle.”
      Feels out of place due to pronoun-context right before and after being about Narwhal’s fight.

      “and lock up a bigger alliance.”
      Doubled space.

    3. “They turned my way just in time for me to get in their faces.”

      Should be “their face”, unless there’s more than one shooter, in which case all the other references need to be pluralized.

      Also, not exactly a typo, but the first time we get a clear signal that Rain’s awake is when he chimes in to say Seir deserves to die, and there’s no reaction in the narration or by any of the characters to the fact that he’s starting to get up until the next thing he says. I found that a little jarring and wondered if it was a continuity error of some sort, even though it probably wasn’t.

    4. “Prancer’s group was having a harder time, further north. They had some vehicles they’d used to approach this area, but battle damage had rendered the vehicles immobile, and the trucks and cars didn’t offer much when they were trying to protect themselves from both hero and Fallen. Compared to the defensive line that Vista and Narwhal could provide, and the actual structures the Fallen had, the vehicles weren’t much, and the group had to work to huddle in the half-circle of vehicles.”

      Feels like there’s some unconscious repetition going on here. ‘Vehicles’ used five times in the same paragraph.

  1. …okay.
    I think I understand Jeanne’s prediction now. It did not make sense to me, and now my goodness it does.

  2. Look. I’m just saying. This entire thing would not be a problem if, say, March had just taken Mathers’ head off. I truly do not understand why seemingly *everyone* involved is mucking about and giving the Fallen as many chances as they need to recover control of the situation. Honourable mention to Narwhal for basically saying this in-character.

    “He has a prior kill order on account of being a kidnapping raping murdering bastard, now can we please take care of this?”

    1. It’s almost as if people aren’t utilitarian kill-machines with the ability and willingness to kill an unconscious or surrendering old woman.

      Also, note how showing they had Mama prisoner temporarily stopped the fight and forced the team of Khonsu cultists that had infiltrated Prancer’s team to reveal themselves to rescue her.

      1. All I can say is that I hope Victoria enjoys being at the mercy of remote-control torture mentalists.

        Besides which, I kinda have to wonder just how many of the sleeper assets which the Fallen have (in both villain teams and the Wardens) were being run by Mama Mathers. Because if that’s the case, then, funnily enough, there’s a way to solve that one pretty much instantly too.

      2. >It’s almost as if people aren’t utilitarian kill-machines with the ability and willingness to kill an unconscious or surrendering old woman.
        That is their own hedonism in action and any blood a surviving Mama Mathers causes is on their hands.

        1. Victoria also comments that a power like hers, with war between Gimel and the Theocracy on the horizon, is bloody useful. Secondly, killing her won’t necessarily end her effect. Thirdly, then she’d a martyr and all the Fallen are fighting harder to avenge her.

        1. There’s a difference between being willing to fight enemies who are actively trying to kill you and being willing to execute a (physically) helpless old lady who just surrendered to you. (Particularly when keeping her alive means that the other guys actively trying to kill you have a reason to stop doing that, but that’s a separate consideration.)

      1. Part of what weirds me out about this is is that this is a setting where the Good Guys dragged Canary into court wearing her own bodyweight in chains with her jaw wired shut and gave her an ultra hyper mega life sentence in a hole from which there can be no parole because she accidentally killed her abusive ex-boyfriend using a power which is maybe 1/10th as frightening as Mama Mathers’, and basically people were fine with that. They were all ‘I can see that this particular outcome is not what the system was intended to produce, and this is probably an overreaction, but we are not going to do anything to stop this. Have as nice a life in there as you can. Kill someone big on the first day, that always makes an impression.’

          1. That actually, while it was acknowledged as a miscarriage of justice, in the end everyone was kind of okay with it, the heroes didn’t protest, no-one tried to appeal.

            Like I said, it weirds me out that in practice, people were actually okay with what happened to Canary, but are now hesitant to put Mama Mathers down, even as she is quite literally about to take control of everyone on the battlefield.

          2. Dragon tried to appeal, and I think she said other heroes did too. It was a baseline human judge and jury who sent her to the Birdcage, not Glory Girl, who probably wasn’t involved in her arrest at all, much less her prosecution and sentencing, and not other heroes.

        1. Not really an option. Anyone that can fight, even if only non-lethally, should fight.
          If the Wardens hadn’t sent in the people that they did then this situation would have been exponentially worse.

          Also: What does Canary have to do with anything? They’ve always tried to take criminals alive, and yes, even the ones more dangerous Canary.

          Why would that change now? Especially when Mama was completely incapacitated and they needed her alive for the next part of her plan.

          1. What was the next part of Victoria’s plan? How did she intend to make Mama Mathers’ not hurt the hostages? Was she going to keep her unconscious forever?

          2. @Lee

            Hand her over to the Wardens, the people she has every reason to believe has the proper equipment/resources to contain MaMa and to find a way to nullify her powers affect.

          3. @Exejpgwmv

            Right, and that would be fair, except that we just had it revealed that not only are the Speedrunners secretly a Fallen asset, so are multiple Wardens sub-teams.

            I truly do understand the argument that it wouldn’t be narratively appropriate for Victoria to kill MaMa. I get it. It’s not like I’m saying “Why doesn’t Victoria use her Awesome Angel Strike and rip MaMa’s head off? That would be righteous and amazing!”

            I’m saying that the *pragmatic* thing to do would have been to quietly kill her, and that the characters who are present on the battlefield may be about to suffer the consequences of not doing so.

            I mean, bloody hell. In the real world, SWAT teams are not required to take terrorists or hostage takers alive.

          4. @Lee

            “Right, and that would be fair, except that we just had it revealed that not only are the Speedrunners secretly a Fallen asset, so are multiple Wardens sub-teams.” By saying “that would be fair” were you acknowledging that Victoria’s idea had some merit? You know, its not like she could’ve known that about the Speedrunners and various Warden sub teams belonging to the Fallen…

          5. @Lena27

            I am acknowledging that Victoria’s idea would have had merit if she had not tried to execute it literally in the middle of a battle with a bunch of different factions. Even at the time, as that chapter came out, I was already saying “This is a bad idea. You are not going to be able to keep control of Valefor and MaMa.”

          6. @Lee
            “except that we just had it revealed that not only are the Speedrunners secretly a Fallen asset, so are multiple Wardens sub-teams.”

            And if that was something Victoria knew beforehand, she might have acted differently.

            But, like most everyone else, she didn’t know until it was revealed. So why would you expect her to act on information she didn’t even have?

          7. @Exejpgwmv

            People spent most of Worm relentlessly holding Taylor responsible for acting on good intentions and then getting blindsided by things which she had no way of knowing about or predicting, so I don’t see why Victoria is immune to the same level of criticism.

            Aside from that, I did predict that things were going to blow up in Victoria’s face and that Mama would find a way to turn the tables and fuck everybody up. It’s not a hard prediction to make, so I’m not exactly blowing my own trumpet here.

          8. @Lee

            What? Okay, fine.

            1)Well: If you’re going to hold Victoria to litteraly unreasonably high standards regardless of logic or context, then I guess there’s no point to this conversation.

            2)You didn’t “predict” MaMa escaping based on any kind of evidence or deductive reasoning.
            You just knew, narratively, that the fight wouldn’t end this quickly.

            A view the characters don’t have.

          9. @Exejpgwmv

            So, people used to be unreasonably harsh on Taylor for acting with good intentions but incomplete information?

          10. @Lee

            Yes, some people use to do that.

            I am of the opinion that those people’s complaints were, frankly, dumb and nonsensical.

          11. @Exejpgwmv

            As it happens, I do agree that folks were often really *weird* in how they seemed to feel the desire to blame Taylor for literally everything. Having thus caught myself doing the same to Victoria, I’m going to change tack and at least try to give her the benefit of the doubt for a few more chapters and see whether she pulls it off.

          1. Sorry, not directly abusive. Cheated on her, left her, told her she was never going to amount to anything, then showed up at one of her shows demanding half of of her profits and credit as manager/promoter. She told him to fuck himself.

            Awful situation, where he didn’t deserve to die just for being an asshole, and she didn’t deserve to have her life destroyed for not realising that her power was still winding down.

        2. With Masters that take hostages, killing the Master cape can have unpredicted effects on hostages. Killing Mama could’ve very possibly doomed the hostages. With some Master powers, the effect lasts indefinitely. Whoever would’ve killed Mama would have that on their conscience. Even for villains who are fine with that, they would have to deal with the heroes who’d disapprove and possibly families of the hostages.

        3. Canary’s trial is actually a good example of why the heroes are trying to win as bloodlessly as possible- the old system was ridiculously bad at letting people stop being villains, and frequently didn’t give you a choice about what side of the fence you wound up on. All of the average joes who supported and enable the old system still exist, and now they’re angry at capes in general.

          This is the first cape war of the new world, and what happens here is going to define the rules of engagement from here onward. Something that makes capes look unstable and dangerous would be bad. A precedent that says that it’s okay to kill someone if you think that they’re dangerous enough is a disaster.

          …Also, Taking MM hostage almost ended the fight then and there. It’s not the heroes fault that their perfectly valid strategy was overturned by sabotage.

        4. Two major differences.
          1. The context. One was a court system in a just-barely-functional world making the point that Master crimes are absolutely not getting let off easily. The other is a decision made on the battlefield in a post-apocalyptic world.
          2. The strategic implications. One was trying to discourage people from misusing Master powers, or else they’d get sent to the Birdcage; the other was trying to discourage the Fallen from attacking, or else they’d kill Mama Mathers. You know, as a hostage and all.

        5. I have a sickening feeling that Canary got her fate specifically because she did what she was ostensibly supposed to and cooperated with the legal system, naively expecting her trial to go much better than it did. If she’d gone on the run and gotten in with some villainous organization she probably would have ended up relatively fine. Hell, maybe the Elite offered her help, she turned them down, and then they pulled strings to turn the court against her to make an example of her. They always did punish rogues for refusing to participate in their schemes.

          1. I’m pretty sure Canary basically got sorted into the category of people like Mama Mathers; she got full overkill Master restraints to prevent her from using her power in court at all, and then got assigned to the Birdcage on the basis of the theoretical difficulty of confining her. So if she’d gone on the run and eventually been captured, it’d probably have ended up the same way for her unless a kill order got issued on her.

            Canary’s fate was also viewed as unreasonably harsh under the circumstances, and Dragon attempted to get her out of it; this being pre-Defiant Dragon she ultimately had no choice in the outcome.

          2. Oh, no, I’m not saying that the legal system would have treated her better if they’d caught her after she’d fled. I’m saying that they wouldn’t have devoted many resources to capturing her if she’d fled. The court lumped her into the Mama Mathers category. The heroes and the PRT probably wouldn’t have.

          3. The punishment of Canary seemed very realistic to me. It’s perfectly normal for IRL courts to hand out drastically varying, one might say unjust, punishments. If you offer yourself up for consumption by the justice-industrial complex, it will consume you. Spending on enforcement and prisons is its own justification and has nothing whatsoever to do with crime levels.

          1. Uh, I’m pretty sure he died. And it was awful. People don’t deserve to die just for being assholes. That said, Canary didn’t deserve a horrifying life sentence for a stupid accident.

          2. No, wait, you’re correct, Canary got sent down for attempted murder, not murder. Huh. I guess he lived. Good! I hope he got swift medical attention.

          3. Canary got the book thrown at her partially to make an example IIRC. Also it seems to me like her Shard probably did that on purpose since she wasn’t doing much conflict.

    2. Victoria actually covered this in the chapter. They captured Mama alive in the hopes that holding her hostage would make the other Fallen back down. It even seemed to be working briefly, before the Speedrunners showed their hand at least.

    3. Victoria explicitly notes that long-duration powers such as Mama’s do not necessarily terminate on the death of the user, which would have unpredictable and potentially fatal effects on the hostages, so she was essentially holding a deadman’s switch. Additionally, law enforcement, which is pretty much what the Wardens and associates are, is theoretically not supposed to kill people they’re able to arrest, and also usually considers killing criminals outside of self-defense to be murder. Seir, being the subject of a kill order, is an exception, but most of the Fallen apparently aren’t subject to kill orders. Most of the villains probably don’t have much of a taste for murdering restrained prisoners, either, and Mama was actually successful detained and could not escape without outside intervention.

      March is clearly fairly happy to kill people, but she’s also only here to help Rain, and Rain would not have liked it if killing Mama sent Erin into a permanent seizure.

  3. Well, the arc name has me worried. Who are we losing by the end of it, I wonder?

    Also, mad props to Imp, and nice to know Victoria is still on good terms with Foil even if she doesn’t appreciate the company she keeps.

    And now, let’s see what Mama has her subjects do to Rain. (Bonus points: if Rain woke up, so should have Love Lost and Cradle, right?)

  4. “It was harder to justify causing that kind of damage to Mama Mathers, when we’d needed her for a trump card against the greater conflict …”

    Wait, what? Since when? Did I miss something? Was that a mission objective here?

    I was under the impression the only reasons she remained alive were that the humans didn’t like killing and were worried anyway that killing her wouldn’t lift her compulsions/effects from her power.

    But now even Victoria is thinking about conscripting her for her power? Like I said, did I miss something, or is there some kind of Master influence here that wasn’t there before?

    1. I swear to God, at this rate within two arcs we’ll have Victoria rationalising that she has to do Mama Mathers’ bidding to keep her in a good mood so that she won’t torture the civilians more than necessary, and presenting it as a heroic dilemma.

      1. Good Grief I hope not. The Fallen are so fucking unlikable as is, we don’t need to add Snyder levels of Edge rationalization.

        There’s villains you love to hate, and then there’s villains you just want to fucking be dead already. And then there’s the villains you wish had been killed long ago before they utterly wore out their welcome.

          1. Moose is so lovely. Comparatively, anyway. Someone get that man a beer, a sandwich, and a nice balcony or deck on which to chill and enjoy his lunch.

      2. Considering wildbow rolled RNG for survival in Worm, I wonder if he ends up doing that here. We could very well end up with Victoria mind-screwed by the Fallen and a new main character stepping up.

        Dot (dot is cool, like a fez!)? Rain? Capricorn? Laserdream? Amy having wacky adventures in the wilds of Bet? Damsel? (I find this one most likely).

        Idk, but these last few chapters have me deeply worried that Victoria isn’t going to be in charge of herself much longer.

          1. I’m pretty sure it was during the Leviathan attack where he did that. So, basically anyone who didn’t make it out that encounter alive.

            I’m not sure if he did it for the subsequent huge battles or not.

    2. Did you not notice how when they showed they had Mama prisoner, all the fighting stopped until the Fallen showed their hand with the Speedrunners?

      1. Ah, yes, that makes more sense. “Greater conflict” in my mind referred to the brewing war in the background, and not to the current battle taking place. Kind of a weird phrasing to say “greater conflict” when you’re currently up to your ears in that same conflict, but I guess she was using it for “the overall Fallen battle.”

    3. She was talking about making the other Fallen members surrender.

      Which nearly worked until the Speedrunners attacked.

      1. Yeah, that makes more sense than what had me going “Whuuuh?”

        Also, I just noticed I wrote “humans didn’t like killing” instead of “heroes.” Whoops.

      2. Also this bit “and when so many long-duration powers kept running when the user was incapacitated or killed.”

        They’re worried that killing Mama will just leave them with no way to actually turn the “the walls are bleeding spiders!” aspect of her powers off and leave her victims permanently incapacitated.

        1. Right, but they also have no way to actually make Mama Mathers stop. Pause for a moment and think about it. Imagine you have her in a cell, and there are people out there whom she is hurting. Imagine the game theory.

          What can you give to her, in her cell which you control and from which you are never going to release her, that will make her stop manipulating people on the outside? What incentive does she have to cooperate?

          1. @Glassware

            Keeping her in a permanent coma from which you can never, ever allow her to wake is not meaningfully different from killing her, with the exception that it’s a hell of a lot more dangerous.

          2. “What can you give to her, in her cell which you control and from which you are never going to release her, that will make her stop manipulating people on the outside?”

            An X-box and weed.

          3. MaMa’s power wears off the longer you stay away from her(Something Rain would tell them). So, if push came to shove, they could just wait her out.

            Also: Anything that a parahuman creates another one can break.
            I doubt the Wardens don’t have at least one nullifier/trump member, or couldn’t just let Valkyrie cycle through her options until she found a counter.

          4. @Wololol
            Mama Mathers’ talking shit about people’s parents on Call of Duty is probably better than her remotely torturing them, this is true.

          5. While there are many solutions to MaMa if she’s successfully captured (and kept unconscious long enough to evade her power by eg Imp tazing her whenever she wakes up), Valkyrie is explicitly not one of them, since the risk of her being subverted to the Fallen is too great.

          6. Her power does wear off. Possibly sedate her victims for a year or so. Possibly use another power to help.

          7. Well having MaMa sedated and then killed/absorbed by Valkyrie would make sense and be the easiest solution but I think it’s already been pointed out in the comment section before that the Wardens definitely don’t want Valkyrie to have that power. With that one she could go full Goddess mode and take control of Gimel if she wanted to (not that she couldn’t already, we don’t really know what Master powers she has).
            Also I’m thinking one thing : if the MaMa mind projections aren’t remotely controlled but actually kind-of-sentient, could she potentially survive being killed ? As in the “she continues to live as long as you think of her” expression but taken quite literally. We’ve already seen that powers/passengers can imprint the personality of their owners or at least a part of it (Snag but also maybe Valkyrie’s shadows) so it wouldn’t be strange for her to stay as a weird hive-mind implanted in the Fallen, even maybe being powered-up by it, like Valefor when he lost his eyes.
            I think one of the major themes of Ward is going to be the relation between capes and their passengers, and how the latter actually work. I mean, if Valkyrie can actually revive her “ghosts” that would mean that the passengers somehow imprint their “owner”‘s personality, and possibly that capes have a kind-of afterlife. After all Snag is still in the (most likely) passenger’s room.

          8. @Welp, not out of the question. There was actually another cape who showed up in Brockton Bay at the same time with Valefor, whose thing was that he took over the mind of any cape that killed him, making him functionally immortal. And he also had the powers of everyone who had killed him before.

            I don’t remember the name, but they dealt with him by having Cherish’s brain jar deliver the killing blow. He’s probably still alive, since the ocean floor was mostly out of the way of Zion’s rampage.

  5. I have a feeling there will be a LOT of finger pointing between heroes and villains here on who screwed up the most.

    But the Fallen Cape who got tossed into the fucking sky and had his legs broken by an angry warrior angel is probably a close runner up.

    1. I thought that bit was great. Honestly, hurting a Fallen member like that I don’t think is a good up at all

      There are way bigger fish to fry than fretting over an enemy member getting injured in battle. Ain’t no one of importance will give two hoots

  6. Intense!
    I am excited to see a bit of the Undersiders. Imp, as usual, is pretty awesome 🙂

    I am torn over victoria getting hurt. On the one hand it makes me sad, I like her. One the other, it would be too unlikely for her to walk away unhurt with all the guns going off in this fight. It feels like a “real” battle injury to me.

    I am amused by capricorn. The ability to create walls like that is amazing for gun battles! Endless chest-high walls!

    I hope Kenzie is ok. No one has heard from her in a while and I lost track of how safe her location is.

    Wait, Mama can get you with sound alone? Holy monkeys she is even scarier than I thought before. Wow. Based on the speculation of a possible battle loss, I am steeling myself to deal with potential chapters where victoria and her friends are dealing with being prisoners and possibly mind controlled. It is an intense worry, and the suspense of wondering is really building a up!

    I feel the spacial descriptions of victoria are more clear in this chapter, though it kind of feels like its an open field they are fighting in? Dirt every time victoria touches ground and hardly a mention of houses. Though now that I think about it, it was an assumption on my part that the roads were at least graveled and I might be misremembering their fighting in a crossroads area.

    1. I think Mama can basically control any sense you used to detect her. So if you see her, she can attack your vision, and if you hear her, she attacks your hearing. If you detect her with a power-based sensory ability, then she can attack through that. That probably means she needs to actually touch you to give the full sensory deprivation treatment.

      1. Rain mentions in 4.c that touching her improved her grip on you further. Although sensory deprivation is the least of your worries, since she can apparently make you feel anything she wants through any sense she took over – casual torture just comes naturally with that power.

        1. We were introduced to her power as a “spiders crawl out of the walls” power, but I wonder. We have seen directly that any use of her power seems to be focused on her. I suspect it isn’t “spiders” that were seen crawling out of the walls, but instead teeny tiny “mama mathers” crawling out of the walls. Which is also terrifying

      2. She is just more and more terrifying the more I hear about here. Eeek.

        No wonder thinkers run the other way at the slightest mention of her.

  7. “I was aware that March and Parian were talking, further away from the wall and the group.”
    Must… Refrain… From… Making… Bad… Jokes…

    So yeah come on that much trouble with the pain from one little bullet wound? Vicky you are never going to make it as a Wildbow Protagonist like that.

    I don’t think they have much of a choice here. They HAVE to take out Mama Mather’s and the Fallen, or they are fucked because they will be under her power.

    1. No, you don’t understand, killing Mama Mathers instantly and irrevocably means that Victoria is worse than she is, forever, and will instantly kill all the hostages too.

      1. I said Take Out, not kill. That can imply putting them in some sort of situation or imprisonment where they can no longer harm others. Depending on how easy it is to break her hold on others, and if killing her would work.

    2. Victoria needs a good hit from a tinker pain device to toughen her up and/or give her permanent nerve damage. Bonesaw could probably rig something up.

      Lee, I think it’s less “If I kill her I’ll be just as bad as she is” and more “If I kill her there’s a chance I and several thousand others will hear her screaming for the next six months”. The question of whether it’s morally justifiable to kill someone like Mama Mathers is very interesting and all, but not really important compared to the question of whether it is STRATEGICALLY justifiable.

      1. They literally had her sedated in a sack. Mathers would not have had time to activate any kind of last second defence or counterattack.

          1. Erin was, though, and Rain would care about that. And making Rain happy is the point of the exercise, and since her team is immunized March has no particular personal incentive to kill her.

        1. Can you, like, stop? We get that, insofar as Mama Mathers herself is a threat, it would be practical to kill her. However, she is not the only enemy cape on the battlefield. For one her life serves as a bargaining chip when she was first captured that was enough to start a brief cease-fire. Secondly, if Victoria and Co had killed her while she was unconscious then that would pretty much guarantee that the rest of the Fallen would fight to the death. If the heroes are willing to kill prisoners, who among the Fallen would let themselves be taken prisoner?

          Multiple people have already explained this to you in one way or another, and this is the one argument you have yet to address as you persist in your case for why Mathers should have been executed.

          1. What makes you think the rest of the Fallen have any incentive to ever play along and be nice anyway, under whatever circumstances? They are literally an apocalypse cult carrying out terrorist attacks against the rest of civilization. As we just saw in this chapter, members of the organization are known to have standing kill orders out against them predating Gold Morning, due to the rapes, murders, torture, kidnapping, terrorism, etc, etc.

            As I have already pointed out, in the actual real world, law enforcement are not required to take terrorists and hostage takers alive.

          2. My personal opinion: The law should almost certainly be more concerned with that.
            My opinion on the story: Ms. Mathers seemed both very far from rehabilitation and absurdly dangerous to leave alive. So I’d have been okay with killing her, despite her surrender. (This is a highly unusual opinion for me.)
            That said, I didn’t realize what a powerful hostage she was, and my initial assessment was made without knowing they had a tranquilizer on hand. So I’m okay with the one they made.

          3. If you kill a cult leader, you turn them into a martyr. You’re effectively saying ‘This person’s beliefs scare us, so we’re killing them’. Then their followers think ‘Holy moly, the authorities killed our high mugwump- we must avenge them, spread the message and fight harder, in their name’.

            Killing Mama Mathers won’t work because you’ll turn every member of the Fallen who has some form of belief in the group and its message into a zealot willing to do whatever it takes to spread their message.

          4. @Earl of Purple

            That’s an argument which I fully understand but have to disagree with, on the grounds that the Fallen are *already* completely terrible.

            It’s not like Mama Mathers is some kind of linchpin preventing them from kidnapping people, raping, murdering, and carrying out terrorist attacks. After all, that’s how we got into this mess. Further, Mathers (and the social control of her power) is very clearly one of the factors forcing their current state of cohesion. Remove her and the Fallen are equally likely to splinter because they’re a pack of anti-social assholes suddenly no longer held together by a singular mental power which can immediately sense and punish dissent.

            Do you see where I’m coming from on that angle?

          5. @Lee

            I do see what you mean, yes. But if they splinter, no longer do you have a settlement of Fallen occasionally raiding and terrorising elsewhere- you’ve got hordes of Fallen causing chaos and spreading out, some of which are now far more violent and fanatical than they were.

            Secondly, Mama only controls one of three groups of Fallen- the Crowleys and the… Um, other lot will stay cohesive, because Mama Mathers does not control them directly, but they’re also now determined not to let you do to them what you did to her. That might be preemptive strikes, terrorism, taking in any surviving Mathers masters and growing with hostages, and worse.

            So, yes, they’ll splinter, and turn into roving bands of fanatics and terrorists, or they’ll gather under one of the other families. The arguments to kill her, and to not kill her are all very strong, and this is not an easy situation. Whatever happens, it’ll get worse.

          6. In the real world, the FBI got a lot of shit thrown at them for what happened with the Branch Dividians and the Waco Seige.

            The incentive for The Fallen to surrender is: “If you surrender we won’t murder you in cold blood”. Killing Mama Mathers in cold blood removes that incentive, and the remaining Fallen would have no reason not to fight to the death until every single one of them is dead.

    3. There’s a reason guns have been the dominant weapon of war for centuries. Besides, I think the only Wildbow protagonist to get shot and just keep fighting was Taylor, and she was protected by armor.

      1. Armor and nerve damage. Though I think Blake took some pretty nasty injuries after he prnfrq gb or uhzna, including possibly some self-inflicted ones? Of course there was the whole “prnfrq gb or uhzna” thing.

      2. Sylvester took some pretty brutal injuries without stopping. And regular injections of Wyvern, even voluntarily after a while. And things designed by Bonesaw-tier minds specifically to cause pain, although those tended to incapacitate him at least for a few minutes.

        I don’t remember if he ever got shot, specifically, but of course this was a setting were guns weren’t really the dominant weapon of war. If you were going to shoot something you’d keep shooting until the structural damage left them unable to move.

  8. For goodness’ sakes, Tattletale.

    “I’m not telling the heroes because they have spies in their sub-teams that might alert the Fallen. Also, I’m going to hire a team of supervillains that are secretly Endbringer cultists with an obvious thematic match to their patron.”

    Someone sure missed the whole “communication” theme of the last story.

    1. If it was so obvious, are you implying that you caught on to them being Fallen before it was revealed?

      Not one defending TT, but that’s an odd statement.

      1. It’s more that that’s a really blatant thematic similarity of the kind that Tattletale’s power loves to catch, suggesting to me that she’s so overworked she couldn’t actually use her power to check all her hires.

          1. The Undersiders did hold back until after the Speedrunners had been revealed. It’s also possible TT actually wanted that out in the open (rather than just an accusation from her) to get them kicked from Hollow Point.

    2. If the heroes want to let Tt vet their people, they should. Also, I think Tt is the one person who knows what happens if you kill mama Mathers.

      1. TT always has a good guess, but she never *knows*, and if she’s missing key information she’s often wrong. With Rain’s info she *might* be able to figure it out, but I don’t think that’s guaranteed.

      2. Tattletale probably doesn’t want to spend too much time thinking about the leadership of a cult known for having very strong anti-thinker powers. And the Speedrunners existed before Khonsu I think. They were probably forcibly recruited before EoD was added. She probably knew though, because it just depends on her wondering why they added somebody who didn’t fit their old theme, and she was already aware of potential cells in the wardens, when she wasn’t specifically working with them.

    3. Tattletale didn’t hire the Speedrunners. Not directly. She hired Prancer and Hollow Point. The Speedrunners were part of the package. Also, Snag, Love Lost and Cradle actually did most of the hiring, not Tattletale. Tattletale might have worked to prevent spies get aboard the coalition of villains, but it’s hard to keep something like this quiet. Team Therapy found out about it, after all. Secondly, if I were a group like the Fallen, I’d be more interested in infiltrating power players- the Wardens, their affiliate teams, powerful surviving villain groups like March’s, and not bother with a bunch of B-listers who take over some isolated neighbourhood like Prancer and Hollow Point. Although Hollow Point is probably the easiest to actually infiltrate, all things considered.

      And even if it hadn’t, all it would take is, for example, Nailbiter meeting up with a friend from the Birdcage to get them on board, unaware that the ‘friend’ was sent to the Birdcage either from the Fallen, or from an affiliate group, or who had Fallen into the group after Gold Morning.

    4. I was under the impression the Fallen in disguise were hired by the other members of Rain’s cluster. I’m sure TT thought it was hilarious not to tell them, since they didn’t pay her and ask her about them.

      1. That would be hilarious. Especially if she specifically offered them optional traitor insurance, for may another $10k, and they turned it down.

        She didn’t out Damsel either, and she had to have known she was a mole, right?

  9. Pitch Black. That’s not a good sign. And apparently Mama Mathers possess the power to yell real loudly! I wonder if a whistle would work with Ms. Mathers’s powers.

    1. Hey Whistles have Pitch!

      It’s also possible that MM has someone aplifying her voice. They did note a lot of power Synergy. Hmmn, MM herself is really good for synergy in a fight. She can pass information along to anyone under the effects of her power after all.

  10. How does Victoria cover her ears with only one hand? Can she apply proper pressure with the shot one? I guess we’ll find out next week!

  11. The toughest part of reading Ward for me is the gap between Victoria and Taylor or Sly. What made Taylor (and Sly) compelling is that they were woefully underpowered compared to their foes but they were indomitable; they would find a solution. To go from reading their perspectives to a smart but substantially less analytical Victoria is a leap. Not to mention, I think Wildbow is still very much discovering how to write a main protagonist where their chief asset is not their mind. Not to say anything is stopping from Victoria growing her critical thinking, but it seems that she isn’t going to get more creative until she runs into things that are more of a match for the Wretch and a little emotion-aura. Taylor would never have been caught offguard by this textbook of a betrayal after Mama gave herself up so freely.

    1. “Taylor would never have been caught offguard by this textbook of a betrayal after Mama gave herself up so freely.”

      Dude what? -_-

      Taylor literally worked for a supervillain with a frikking Snake theme for the explicit purpose of freeing an asset she knew he would never want to give up and she still walked right into his murderhouse trap.

      1. That trap was 10 levels more complicated than “oh I surrender! Haha double crossed!” Not even comparable. First thought any one frosty would have when a big bad gives up is, “where is the real attack coming from?”

  12. With all these darkness related arc titles, I’m really hoping we don’t get an Eclipse arc. I don’t want to see Wildbow try to outdo the Eclipse from Berserk.

  13. Calling it now, Victoria’s wound is going to get further and further exasperated by the continued fighting until it’s so bad that she’s not gonna have much of a choice other than getting Amy to heal it.

      1. The longer a bullet wound goes without treatment the worse it’s gonna get, especially if she has to go right back into prolonged combat. I could see it getting bad enough that she’s left with the choice of having the arm amputated or having Amy fix it, or perhaps her being incapacitated and having the choice made for her.

        *Something* is going to force the Victoria/Amy confrontation sooner or later, and it seems likely that a serious injury to Victoria or one of her teammates will be the thing that makes it happen.

        1. I think Victoria’s preferences wrt healing would look something like this:

          Scapegoat
          Conventional Medicine
          Bonesaw
          Amputation
          Dying of cancer for years
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          .
          Amy

          1. Amy has to check all of Bonesaw’s work, but I suppose no one has to tell her that. Just have Amy feel her up before the anaesthetic wears off.

      2. She’ll just decide to lose the arm. Maybe get a prosthetic that somehow lets her channel her emotion aura into a blast.

        1. Ashley knows someone who can help, she and Victoria can be prosthesis buddies!

          …Actually, there is in fact a decent chance that Victoria would rather go to Riley than to Amy.

          1. I think there’s a decent chance Victoria would rather Chisel off her arm with a rusty fish fork than go to Amy.

            No to make it a true dilema, it needs to be Victoria having to choose between going to Amy, or someone else or a large group of someone elses die.

          2. Nobody says that she would go to Amy voluntarily. There are a lot of mind compellers in this crowd as well as manipulators as well as people who could make her unconscious and they don’t think twice about dragging her to her sister for healing.

  14. Great chapter. It’s amazing how we get feedback that clarifies some doubts expressed in the comments as an in-story explanation. I didn’t see that happening in Worm, maybe because I read it in 2016.

    Anyways, thank you WB

  15. My guess? Rain will kill Mama Mathers, which puts him at odds with Victoria. Some like damsel and Capricorn approve which threatens to divide the team

  16. Staying low to the ground, I felt the Wretch re-emerge. Limbs and digits dug into the ground, and tore up the earth below me.
    Is it weird that I’m imagining this as a Wildbow version of that Dragon Ball thing where characters powering up tear up the ground around them?

    I was aware that March and Parian were talking, further away from the wall and the group.
    I wonder what they’re talking about…
    “I know I gave you shit about kidnapping me, but…well, I’ve been kidnapped a bunch since then, and I’ve gotta say, you’re pretty much the nicest kidnapper I’ve ever had.”
    “Thanks! I’m glad
    some of my victims appreciate the effort I put in.”
    Or maybe Parian’s just critiquing March’s fashion sense. Which would explain her reaction better…

    1. “You were highly professional, but the hogtying ended up chafing like you wouldn’t believe. So I had to drop it to 7 out of 10 in my webreview, I’m sure you’ll understand…”

    2. I’m really curious about March’s particular variant of kiss/kill. My personal guess is that kiss/kill are the same phenomenon, just that it works the same way what Amy did to Victoria did. Constant intrusive thoughts, all your lines of thought leading constantly back to one person in a kind of artificial obsession. That would lend itself pretty naturally to developing either a passionate relationship or a hateful obsession. Maybe at some point March realized this and so she decided to get away from Foil, but she still checks in from time to time because the kiss/kill still alters her thoughts to focus on her even when she’s got better things to do.

      1. My guess is it comes from the fascination/connection multitriggers have. They cannot ignore each other from what we have seen, so extreme hate/love/fascination is likely to occur.

        It’s like “you like this person and they are constantly on your mind, later you love them.” Or “you dislike this person and they are constantly on your mind, eventually you just want to murder them so you don’t have to be reminded they exist.”

  17. Really appreciated this chapter, though I do find it a little ironic how much disdain Victoria is showing towards gun when she was carrying one around at the beginning of the story! Haha

  18. For all the debate about the morality and advisability of killing mama Mathers, there is one person who would know.

    Tattletales power would tell her whether mama’s powers would persist after death.

    The fact that she didn’t give March a kill order suggests that this is a concern.

    1. Tattletale’s power would not tell her that with any kind of certainty. It would allow her to *make an intelligent guess*, given the information she has (which is relatively little without Rain telling her anything, and even then possibly not enough).

      1. Speaking of intelligent guesses, the fact that ‘Mama’ Mathers can see through the visions she inflicts is both kinda weird*, and implies that she has to concentrate to keep them going.

        *Weird in the sense that a someone with a sympathy-type (sees through others’ eyes) power acting as a dominance-type (controls others without sharing their senses) cape is weird. I suppose, in that case, the visions are actually what share senses with ‘Mama’. So she probably can’t see people when she’s sending them visions. Good to know.

    2. I’m not sure that Tattletale would be able to use her powers around MM without it breaking her.

      Heroes kept thinker-style capes away from MM because her powers were especially disastrous on them. TT is exactly that.

      The impression I’m getting is that MM has the ability to “invade” a person’s consciousness by whatever sensory modality they use to perceive her. You can see her phantom now if at some point in the past you put eyes on her – hear her whispers now if you ever heard her voice before.

      What happens if you’re a thinker and you manage to perceive or understand her using your power in a way that is far more detailed than normal human senses?

      Like, if TT actually was around MM enough for her power to start working and “perceiving” facts about MM, what kind of heinous, horrifying copy would that spawn in Tattle’s consciousness?

      All that’s to say, TT is likely not a solution to figuring out how long Mathers power would last after death.

      1. If it’s really perception based, as it seems to be, I don’t think it’d work on Tattletale’s power. She doesn’t sense things, she just makes correct guesses. The main difference being that sometimes her guesses are incorrect. If her power fed her information about the actual reality, it wouldn’t be possible for the information to be false. While Mama’s power absolutely fucks up clairvoyants, I don’t think just knowing things about her could trigger it.

        And if it could, she would already be compromised, wouldn’t she? It’s not like she would approach a fight like this without trying to figure out whether it’s safe to use her power around Mama, and the answer would have been either “yes” or “I am already inside your mind”.

        Which would admittedly explain why she didn’t warn anyone about the Speedrunners’ impending betrayal.

        She always had a bit of the Simurgh vibe to her, didn’t she?

  19. Nice to get confirmation that Vista and Rachel still hang out on occasion. Also interesting that Victoria doesn’t seem to have a huge problem with Imp. I guess because they never really interacted? She *haaates* Tattletale (with some cause, though not really a sufficient justification), dislikes Rachel, and seems to be ambivalent about Parian and Foil, but doesn’t really react to Imp in the same way. Maybe that’s just because she’s not in the middle of a fight when she’s dealing with the other four, though.

    1. Imp joined the Undersiders late enough that they were mostly fighting other criminals, and soon after the local Protetorate more or less gave in and came to an arrangement, so she hasn’t done anything very bad to superheroes. Meanwhile, if her epilogue chapter is any indication, she’s been operating as a terrifying vigilante targeting parahuman warlords in the corner worlds since Gold Morning, which strikes me as the kind of crusade Victoria would respect.

      1. Imp helped in the raid on PRT HW which involved snaring Shadow Stalker so Alec could enslave her. However, I don’t recall whether Victoria’s impression of Stalker was positive or not. Everyone else regarded her as a huge asshole, but they mostly didn’t know about her extracurricular…murdering.

        1. Would anyone even remember Imp was involved? At the time even the Undersiders had trouble remembering she was up to anything.

  20. Victoria (or *someone* on the anti-Fallen side) needs to take a page out of Taylor’s Ruthless-But-Efficient Playbook and disable MaMa on a more permanent basis.

    Rip her tongue out, right now, on the battlefield. Do it while she’s unconscious. RIGHT NOW. There’s a difference between “well, we captured this villain and we have to figure out what to do about her now that the battle is over and everyone’s gone home” and “we’ve temporarily disabled this MASSIVE fustercluck-in-a-can of a supervillain, but this is a temporary cessation of hostilities (at best) for the battlefield we’re still stuck on”. There was just no way this was going to end so cleanly with just the measures that had been taken.

    Seriously, maggots in the eyeballs was such a fantastic solution to Valefor. Learn from Taylor!

    1. A: ‘Mama’ Mother’s doesn’t need to shout. Clapping really loud would probably achieve the same effect.
      B: Phantom sounds aren’t her most dangerous power, anyway. Screamer, she is not. (It might not even be possible for her to induce plausible illusions aside from herself. She certainly hasn’t shown it.)
      C: Keeping her sedated would probably work just fine, so long as her allies don’t slap her awake/heal her with a power somehow.
      D: Ripping out her tongue could easily kill her – choking, bleeding out, maybe even shock. There’s a reason biting it off is a stock suicide threat.

      Any questions?

      1. I’m assuming that tactile sensations enabled by physical contact are her most dangerous direct effects. In other words, don’t shake hands with her!

        Other than that, the big problem right now is that everyone present is not just subject to her control, but serves as a compromised data channel for her. For at least the next year or so, anyone who was present at this battle who thinks “Shit, I I better not think about Mama Mathers during this important meeting!” instantly compromises the meeting, and will thus have to be excluded. Basically, anyone present who is part of the Wardens can kiss their career goodbye.

        1. *Not a bad guess. Hard to say if she can affect balance, but tactile sensations are probably the most distracting in a fight.
          *Unless they kill her. Or nix her powers somehow. Which they’d basically have to do anyway, since she’s got at least a dozen effectively-permanent hostages and will not hesitate to use them.

      2. A: The concern isn’t her picking up new auditory victims, it’s what she does with the ones she already has. She doesn’t need to shout, but arguably her most effective means of manipulation is talking to those affected by her power. If she can’t do that, the worst she can do is probably sideline some players via Cuckoo-Spider-Wall Visions (which is certainly not irrelevant, but I would argue it carries significantly less potential badness than being able to get inside people’s heads via wordplay mindfuckery, which is more or less always a staple of those with this sort of power).

        B: I would contest this point. Being able to speak to her victims strikes me as a pretty big damn problem. Without the ability to speak, she can’t negotiate, she can’t manipulate with words, she can’t taunt or otherwise provoke the way she’d be able to if her speech remains unhindered.

        C: Sedation lasted, what, less than an hour, tops? Like I said, if the battle were over it would be another story. As the situation stood at the time of her capture, I think they should have erred on the side of brutal efficiency (not necessarily killing her outright, for a few reasons), but quite frankly I would have been completely in favor of some kind of permanent maiming to interfere with her power.

        (Related point that just came to mind: how the HELL does Seir have a kill order but MaMa does not?! If it were based solely on potential threat/power assessment, Valefor ought to have had one ages ago; if it were based on crimes committed, is MaMa not recognized as the head of this branch of the Fallen and all that that entails? I honestly forgot that kill orders were a thing in the Wormverse, so I may have legitimately overlooked details related to this at some point.)

        D: Some shallow Google research suggests that the whole suicide-by-biting-off-the-tongue thing is much slower and less reliable than popular media tends to suggest. Additionally, amputation of the tongue is most definitely something that can be performed non-fatally, the stump just needs to be cauterized.

        (Blech, all this talk of removing tongues is giving me the heebie-jeebies >_<)

        1. Kill orders aren’t handed out on hearsay. Seir’s crimes are witnessed and documented because his powers are physical. Valefor and MaMa are likely known but their actions are kind of hard to prove given they can prevent their victims from coming forth.

    1. I’m very hyped to see her using the Wretch as a weapon, where she reached out to swipe midair and it reached further to hit her opponent- this is the beginning of her meeting the Wretch halfway, learning to work with it rather than fight it!

  21. Victoria may not call herself Glory Girl anymore, but don’t think I didn’t notice her focus on doing something significant and impactful. Thinking about how she’d not changed the course of this greater thing, and consoling her self with the lesser things she’d achieved. And she didn’t like that she didn’t sound like a proper wounded superhero. Plenty of that old motivation is still there.

    I’m really curious what March’s deal is, given what we saw and heard of her interactions with Foil and Parian here.

    1. I’ve also noticed how Victoria’s main approach to difficult problems still seems to be “charge in and break some arms”. At least she’s more self-aware about it now.

  22. I am so over the “Why doesn’t Vicky kill Momma Mather’s” endless fucking discussion in the comments.

    She doesn’t because she isn’t The Goddamn Glory Girl, ffs. This isn’t a hard concept to grasp!

    And maybe the story does go there and its a huge deal and tears Vicky up and there’s consequences and that’ll be great – but to hear some commenters tell it Vicky should be behaving like this fight is a Call of Battlefield Warfighter Ghost Recon game and be teabagging Fallen goons after headshotting them.

    Fucks me right off and is killing the comment thread for me. :/

    1. Fully agree. How about we let WB tell his story? This is not a community project, you can certainly voice your opinion, but arguing endlessly only makes people sour.

      I´m also disappointed that MaMa isn´t dead yet, but I understand and support everyone not wanting to make that decision. Murdering someone who surrendered in cold blood is crossing a line which you can never go back from.

      1. Uh, no one is demanding WB alter the story to please us dirty plebs in the comments. The whole point of the comment sections is to offer the audience a channel for feedback and discussion (and speculation, and waving their shipper or wish fulfillment flags, or whatever). If you don’t enjoy participating in the community discourse…by all means, don’t?

    2. It’s your own fault for reading the comments! If you’re not interested in other people’s takes on the story – in this case, “Vicky should be playing this encounter like Call of Battlefield: Warfighter: Ghost Recon” – there isn’t really anything useful down here. Maybe the vote link, but that usually one of the first posts.

      The comment section exists for opinions. Arguments should be expected, and even encouraged.

  23. I just want to say to things the comment section as a whole don’t seem to get. Rain has yet to give out any information until the second it could be useful. Expecting him to just info dump on the Fallen now is frankly silly. Also Victoria has pretty clearly shown she does not have a plan. She punches things. The warrior monk stuff just makes her feel better about herself.

  24. The image of Victoria cold and angry at the center of the emptiness of the Wretch was beautiful and expresses so clearly why the Wretch is awful to her. It’s not just a terrible memory from a terrible part of her life, it’s something that literally pushes everyone and anything else away, that leaves her cut off from the world.

    In more urging news: oh god, have we just witnessed the last momemta of sanity of the whole cast?

  25. It’s nice to see Victoria actually do something in a fight now. I was getting kind of tired of reading “Fly toward this person, change direction, fly away” constantly. Like, you got super strength and near invulnerability, tackle someone! Fly at them, lose the shield maybe, but then hit them before they can attack again. Or alternately, learn evasive maneuvers. If you’re flying straight at someone and they attack you straight on, move a foot or two to the left or right or up or down, and keep going at them. You don’t need to stop and fly in a completely different direction.

    Flip side, loving this. Seeing some of the old characters again, and seeing how they interact with the new ones, it’s kind of fun. When the Fallen showed up in Worm, and were taken down in like one page (was it one or two? It feels like it was only one, but that might be because of how easily they bit it.) I thought they were kind of a joke. Not really a threat despite their seemingly good powers, but boy was I wrong. They are terrifying.
    I hope Rain makes it out of this okay. He’s my favourite character so far. Except for Kenzie. And Ashley. …And Victoria. Alright ya got me. I actually like them all.

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