Pitch – 6.3

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No plan survived contact with the enemy, but I hoped it would at least be recognizable in the aftermath.

Phase two.  Contain and besiege.

We staggered our retreat, with Capricorn walling off the path behind us before the group moved again.  The Fallen sent some people our way, but I had the impression the people were scouts, figuring out where we were and then getting scared off by the razor-forcefields and antisonic booms.

Rain stuck with Narwhal’s group, and even contributed some of the suppressive fire.  As I flew around the treetops to keep an eye on things from above, I saw the occasional tree topple, as Rain’s power and something else hit a tree around the same time.

Trees falling was good.  It helped to cover our retreat in the same way Capricorn’s walls did.

He kept giving me looks.  I couldn’t read his expression while his mask was on, but I could make assumptions.  He hadn’t liked leaving, or even pretending to leave, and I knew he wanted to help Erin.

Mama Mathers was powerful.  It wasn’t that she had the clout some other top tier capes did, but her existence created a blind spot where we couldn’t keep tabs on the Fallen’s side.

Another wall snapped into existence.  Fluke gave the call to move on, and the group ventured further into the woods, away from the area where the Fallen camp was nestled.  Narwhal’s offensive team followed behind the retreat, with Fluke staying back to report to her as she caught up with him.  Weld was hurrying forward to stay near the front of the group, taking on a semi-leadership role.

With each phase in our retreat, Capricorn’s walls went up faster and bigger.  Vista was sticking by him, and from what little I could see as I used my advantage of mobility to check on everything, they were getting along great.

Yeah.  I needed to have a chat with her.

Sveta was sticking with Weld, even though they had different focuses in the moment.  Weld was directing people and making sure the coast was clear, while Sveta had Weld’s phone in hand, a brick of a thing with push buttons that she needed two hands to hold.  He would have dialed for her, or answered for her while Looksee called.  Our kid tinker was on the other end.

My phone was in my pocket, the cord of my earphones running up beneath my armor and hair to my ear, where it was covered.  I was looped into the conversation.

With the rain pattering down around us, cool but not cold, my setup meant I could keep my hands and face dry, without risking that my phone might get wet.

“I had my moment of heroism, I even caught some bad guys,” Looksee said.  “It’s probably kind of lame compared to what you guys are doing, but it’s my first win!”

“Your first win,” Sveta said.

“Mine and mine alone, yes!  I was keeping an eye on everything around the camp and the moment things started, a bunch of people in the town got in cars and raced off in your direction.  I told my friends here and they told Narwhal and her group, but nobody was in a good spot.  So I programmed like lightning, and repurposed the projector box.”

“Not too many details,” I jumped in, wincing at the offhand mention of the trap.  “We don’t know who’s listening in.”

“Sorry.   But I put up projections of police officers and vans and some heroes.”

“What I’m hearing in this is that you’ve taken the time to capture and keep images of police officers, vans, and some heroes,” Chris said.

He was in on the call too, apparently.  I hadn’t known before he spoke up.

“I didn’t keep anyone’s faces or anything, and I changed up the hero costumes,” she defended herself.  “I even asked most of them if I could take their picture.”

“Says the girl who could probably make a camera that steals literal souls if she tried.  Totally innocent thing to ask, and they have no idea at all.”

“Could not.  Souls are for God to handle, numbnuts.”

“Be nice, both of you,” I said.  “Tell your story, Looksee.”

Capricorn was jogging along, with Vista at his side.  He produced orange sparks, and she distorted the space around them.  He shook his head, and the sparks winked out.

It was really, really weird to look at the pair and realize they were about the same age.  I’d heard about Vista from Gallant before I ever even met her, and I’d tried my best to take her as a fellow hero first and a kid second, at his suggestion.  But she was seventeen, now.  Crazy.

“I finished picking out the code and put up my projections just before they came around the corner.  They rolled up and stopped because they had a bunch of guns pointed at them.  I called the guy Victoria mentioned-”

“Gilpatrick,” I said.

“Yes!  I feel bad for forgetting his name.  He’s nice.  I really like him.”

“You like everyone,” Chris said.

“He’s likable,” I said.  “One of my favorite people.”

I heard an audible increase in excitement when Looksee responded, simply from the fact I’d validated her impression.  “I see why.  They sent a van super quick and took all the people into custody.  Fallen, hanging back in the town.”

“They would have been the ones keeping an eye on things,” Sveta said.

“Reinforcements,” Looksee said.  “They had guns.  The assholes.”

It was Chris who answered that.  “We know about the guns.  The Fallen and Hollow Point guys have been shooting them all over the place.  Victoria got shot.”

“What!?”

“I’m fine.  Already patched up,” I said, as I thought,  I might need physiotherapy, and there’s a sensation in the center of this mess that makes it feel like the bullet is still in there, but I won’t die.

“I got shot too,” Chris said.  “Not that anyone cares.”

“When?” Sveta asked.

“I was Dark Introspection.  It didn’t do much of anything, but I still got shot.”

“Don’t talk like that, you guys,” I heard Looksee.  “I’m teary eyed even thinking of you guys being seriously hurt.”

Okay, we needed a distraction.  “Looksee.  I’m thinking of a plan, beyond what we already talked about.  You’re a key part of it.”

“What we just talked about, with our reinforcements?”

“Yes,” I said.  Our reinforcements.  Good to phrase it that way.  Tattletale.

“I’m looking into it,” Looksee said.

“Good,” I said.  “This is separate.  If you’re up for it.”

“Reinforcements?” Sveta asked.

“Rain or I can fill you in after,” I said.

She didn’t respond immediately.  Down on the ground, I saw her look up at me, her Brute-and-gauntlet-wearer class phone still held to her ear.

“Okay,” Sveta said.

“Looksee,” I said, hurrying to lay it out now that I’d cleared some of the obstacles and interpersonal issues.  “You may have people coming down the road.  It’s the easiest way for them to get out if they want to make a run for it.”

“I’ll be ready.  With reinforcements, maybe.  Depends.  They’re not answering.”

“Okay,” I said.  “How hard would it be to set something else up?  Gilpatrick is wrangling an awful lot of people.  What if those people were waiting elsewhere?”

“Elsewhere?” Looksee asked.

“Or… in as many places as you can manage.  I’m thinking we put the evacuees in one place, or spread them out.  They’re people the Fallen have some reason to care about.  We put images of the evacuees in other places, or we fill out the groups.  We give them a reason not to shoot the moment they come storming down that dirt road or out of the woods.”

“I’d need to grab images and write some code.  I’d have to change the spectrum angle on the- thing.  There’s a lot of stuff.”

“Can you?” I asked.

“I can try, but it’s going to be hard, and I’ll be distracted.  I might have to hang up so I can focus.  Um.  Is there anything else I need to do or plan for?”

“No,” I said.

“I’m going to hang up then!  Will call back soo-” she announced, hanging up before she’d even finished the sentence.

There was a pause.

“Is the world ending again, or did she really just say that?” Chris asked.  “She decided of her own volition to hang up on friends.”

“She’s excited to help,” Sveta said.

She was, I suspected, but I wasn’t sure I’d heard excitement, exactly.

Hard to pin down.

Capricorn was building the next wall within Vista’s distortion.  He turned blue, and the wall turned to water.  There were shouts as people near the wall had to jump back to avoid getting sloshed.  Some couldn’t avoid it and were soaked or partially soaked.

Narwhal raised her voice.  I double checked what I could see of the woods, to make sure nobody was coming or passing by our flanks, then dropped from my lookout position.

I hung up my phone as I descended.

“-of you showing off?” Narwhal asked.  I’d missed the start of the sentence.

“No,” Capricorn said.  He was back to being Tristan, and he was drawing out the wall even as Narwhal grilled him.

“This is a serious mission.  Your team posed it as such, and you were there- you saw how high the stakes are.”

“Absolutely,” Capricorn said.

“Yes ma’am,” Vista said.

“What were you doing?” Narwhal asked.

“Trying something,” Capricorn said.  “Vista saved me time earlier, I thought we could afford to lose some to try this, because it could save us a lot of time.”

“Capricorn, I get the impression you’re a good cape, the walls are good, you’ve kept a level head.  But the people back there- they’re the ones who can’t afford for us to screw up or let the Fallen catch up with us.”

Rain was standing a bit off to the side.  He’d been with Narwhal before, and he’d approached, because Capricorn was his friend.  He looked at me as Narwhal said the last bit.

Soon, I pledged mentally, without saying it out loud.

“Yes ma’am,” Capricorn said.

“What were you trying to do, powerwise?” I asked.

“Seeing what translates when I change out, if there’s a way to have her help make it bigger, not just move the sparks around faster, and keep it big even after she withdraws her space warping.”

“You were trying other stuff before,” I said.

“Yeah.  Flubbed this one, I think something went wrong.  The plan was to swap out, swap back a second later, so the wall mostly held… one second.”

He turned blue.  Byron.

“Didn’t go according to plan,” I concluded.

“There was a resistance to swapping back,” Byron said.  “Had to push in a way I never have.”

“Okay,” I said.

Back to Tristan.

“Scary,” Tristan noted.  I was already listening for the sound difference between the pair of them, so I wasn’t relying on sight alone, and I didn’t miss that he’d said the word in a voice that didn’t sound like either of them.  Or maybe it was the voice that fell in the venn-diagram overlap of how they were the same, in the middle of their case-seventy situation.

Narwhal gave me a long look.  As if I was some kind of judge or voice for the weirdness of the team.

“It’s a tricky power,” I tried answering the look.  “If they did figure out a way to save time and let them put up taller, thicker walls, I think you and I would be complimenting them on their ingenuity.  This didn’t cost us much.”

Narwhal looked over in the direction of the biker and Fallen we’d collected.  Afflicted by Mama, they were dealing with the worst she could deal with.

“We’re backing off anyway, and they aren’t pressing hard.  We’ll figure out another angle,” I added, sounding as confident as I could.  It felt strange to try to convince someone of Narwhal’s stature.  “Maybe figure out how to help them.”

“We can try some things once we get far enough out, and that’s why I’m mindful of wasted time,” Narwhal said.  “I miss having thinkers, but we couldn’t conscience bringing them with us, with the risk.  They could crack this and help those people.  It’s frustrating.”

“It is,” I said.  I glanced at Rain.

And there’s Tattletale, ignoring Kenzie’s calls, doing something out there, I thought.  I don’t know if she could crack this, but she doesn’t seem too interested in trying.

Narwhal turned to the Capricorn-Vista pair.

“Right now we need steady and reliable, with no surprises.  Please,” Narwhal said, with emphasis on the please.  “And no more small talk.  Let’s stay focused on the mission.  I overheard when I caught up to you two.  We should save the… complex  inter-cape interactions for later.”

Oh, so she’d noticed too.

“Got it, ma’am,” Capricorn said.

Vista didn’t voice her response, and from the way she held herself, I wondered if it was because she didn’t feel comfortable speaking in the moment.  She only nodded.

“Vista,” Narwhal said.  “Can you cover our flank?”

“Narwhal, ma’am,” Capricorn said.  “She does help me put them up faster and better.  I’d like her to keep helping.  You don’t need to separate us.  We’ll stick to what we know works, and we work well together.”

“Vista,” Narwhal spoke in a lower voice, not taking her eyes off of Capricorn.  “From what I know of your power, you don’t need to be close to make it work.”

“No ma’am, but I have to put it between the trees and it helps if I’m not too far away, so I can see instead of only feeling.”

“I’ve been aligning the walls to work with her on that,” Capricorn said.

“No small talk,” Narwhal said.  “You can stand further back and keep an eye on more of our flank while you work, Vista.”

“Yes ma’am,” Vista said.

Fluke grabbed Narwhal’s attention, and she reached up and over for a forcefield that appeared over her hand, gliding over to him.

“That sucked,” Capricorn said.  He was working on the wall again.  “I generally pride myself on being a kickass, professional cape, and I just got told off by someone global in stature.”

“I’m on the exact same page as you, Cap,” Vista said.  “Except I was a Ward, not a shill, and that’s my actual boss.”

Capricorn didn’t give a visible reaction to being called a shill.  Something they’d talked about earlier?  A joke?

“I think she’s nervous,” I said.  “This whole thing is worse than we thought it would be, and we thought it would be awful.

“She’s very nervous,” Vista said.  “We’re all nervous.  So much going on at the borders between worlds and we find out there’s something this rotten this close to home?  Things are supposed to be getting better and these guys seem really fucking committed to taking things in the other direction.”

“She’s looking,” Capricorn said, as he turned his head toward his wall.  “And we’re still talking.”

“Vista, can we talk?” I asked.

She followed me off to the side.

“I’m going to be cringing about this for the next five years,” Vista said.  “I goofed and got distracted, and everything went splat in front of my team leader, my team, my old team leader, you, Capricorn… and I think my boss knew why.”

I had been able to tell what was going on when I was a hundred feet in the air.

“First off,” I started.

“Yes?”

“The bad moments?  Never as bad as they are in your own head.  You couldn’t predict that.  Take it from the bystander and friend, don’t cringe for five years.”

She didn’t respond immediately, but then she nodded, sighing as she did it, like she was letting something free.

“Okay?”

“Okay.  What’s second off?”

“Second… do you want it blunt or do you want it gentle?”

“Blunt,” Vista said.  “I’m a fighter.  I can take it.”

“You have a problem,” I told her, quiet.  “You have a thing for unattainable guys in heavy armor.”

I saw her react, like she’d been punched in the gut, before she steeled herself.  I could even work out the thought process, as she noted that others were in a position to see us and her.  She couldn’t react too visibly.

“Dead son of a cunt, I might actually,” she said, under her breath.  “Unattainable why?”

“Can’t say.  He’ll tell you soon, I think.  He thinks you’re cool.”

“They always do,” she said.  “When things are calmer, you need to help me with this.”

“I can try, but before we talk about that-”

“We should talk about it another day.”

“Okay.  But on this, just to clear things up in a way I can explain, he has a twin brother.  The one in blue-”

“Oh.  That’s what that was.”

“It’s not a secret, but it’s not something we tell the bad guys either.”

“Got it.”

“I won’t say go for it, because… messy.”

“We’re all messy.”

“Messy… in a way beyond the cape usual.  I don’t think they can date, as it is.  And a very different personality.  Brace yourself for that.”

“Okay.”

“I think he could use a friend, but again, being blunt-”

I stopped as my phone rang, the earphone still in my ear, cord hidden by hair and armor.  I held up a finger for Vista.

“Yes?” I asked.

“It’s Looksee.  So I’ve got a thing.”

“Talk,” Sveta said, on the other line.

“I’m getting footage of the Fallen evacuees, two cameras out there, one up close to get the people and one pulled back to track light sources and get another angle.  My pulled-back is freaking out.”

“Freaking how?” Sveta asked.

“Literal ghost in the machine freaking?” I asked.

“Yes!  Yes, exactly.  I’ve never heard that term before but it fits exactly.”

“How has a tinker never heard-” Chris started.

“Don’t look at it, don’t dig into the code,” I talked over him.

“Wasn’t.”

“It’s Mama Mathers,” I said, loud enough for others to hear.  “With Gilpatrick’s patrol squad.”

“She was approaching, not with them yet, I think,” Looksee said.

“Looksee, call Gilpatrick!” I warned.  “I’m on my way.”

“I’m coming,” Sveta said.

I thought of the secret message to Kenzie.  The plan.  I’d pledged something to Rain, too.  “Has Mama affected you at all?”

“Barely.  Ears.”

“Rain, how hurt are you?”

I moved the hand of my uninjured arm at my side, where only he was really in a position to see.  A slash, side to side.

“Really hurt.  Snag did a number on me,” he said.

With luck, he was lying, and he got my intent.  We needed him as the one person who Mama couldn’t control, operating in a place she couldn’t see- away from those she’d infected.

“Situate yourself, cover us to our south,” I said.  Again, I made the slash.  “Be ready to join whoever, but stay put.  Sveta, escort him, then come to us?”

“Okay,” Sveta said, looking at Rain.  “Can do.”

“Rain?  Fill her in on anything you can on the way.”

“Understood,” Rain said, with a slight emphasis.  Rain jogged northward.

“C and I will follow, or we’ll hold down the fort.  I’ll call when we can confirm,” Capricorn said.

“I’m pretty mama’ed up,” Chris said.  “I’m dealing but it’s distracting.”

Distracting?” Capricorn asked.  He sounded slightly incredulous.

“Seeing the surface of everything peeling away to show the shrieking flesh beneath distracts me.  Sue me.”

Capricorn turned his head.  “Narwhal’s fighting.  I think the Fallen coordinated things so they’d hit all sides at once.”

“She can do that,” I said.  “Seeing what she sees.”

“You realize you’re going alone?  Until Sveta catches up with you.”

“I realize,” I said, raising myself up off the ground a bit.

I flew, zig-zagging to avoid the worst of the branches, ducking my head and letting smaller ones graze my hood.

I had a view of the broader landscape, and I could see where the roads formed an almost hammer-and-sickle image, the half-circle of road with forest cupped in it, and the line stabbing through the southeast or east, leading to the Fallen camp.  Gilpatrick’s group was to the northeast.

The wind blew at my hair and pulled my hood back as I flew.  Something I’d need to fix.  My arm throbbed with renewed pain, not because I’d moved it, but because I’d changed the angle of my body and that changed how the blood flowed through me.

“Are you with us, Looksee?” I asked.

“I am.  I called Gilpatrick, told him.  You sound windy.”

I sounded windy because I was flying.  Looksee, though- she sounded quiet, and not nearly as talkative as before.

“Are you okay?  No effect through your tinkering?”

“No effect,” she said.

I was especially aware of the fact that she hadn’t verified she was okay, and she didn’t sound okay.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.  “Cut the others out of the call if you need to.”

“Already did.  Victoria- Damsel is with Gilpatrick.  She’s sitting in the back of a van.”

“Yeah,” I said.

“What did I miss?  Don’t leave me out.”

“I’m not,” I said.  “I haven’t talked with the others about it, they saw, but I don’t think Rain knows yet.  We’re digesting.”

“Digesting what?”

“She snapped, Looksee.   Not quite like we’ve seen before.  I think- she went there because she needed a time out.  I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“Okay,” she said.

I could see Gilpatrick’s trucks.  I could imagine where we’d last seen Mama, and where she might have gone.  I averted my eyes from the part of the forest where Mama might be.

“Did someone die?” Looksee asked.

“Someone died,” I said.

“She looks like someone died,” she said.

“I’m at Gilpatrick,” I said.  “I’ve got to focus.  Step back.  Get away, phone her, or-”

“I want to help.”

“Then work on projections, or try again with our ‘reinforcements’.  Throw yourself into this if the distraction helps.  Just don’t look at Mama on camera, don’t dig into code she’s affected, and listen to the little voice inside you if it has doubts about doing something.”

“I’ve got your back,” she said.

Below me, a few people fired into the trees.  There was no returning salvo.

I dropped out of the sky, landing more softly than I usually did, on account of my arm.

No Mama.  The Fallen were remaining in the trees.

“Victoria,” Gilpatrick said.  “Thank you for the warning.”

“No trouble?”

“We had a sudden influx of evacuees.  No guns, no problems.  We cut it off, told them to stay back.”

“And?”

“And if Looksee is right, I think your problem cape thought she’d conceal herself among hostages and catch us by surprise.”

“If you hear or see her, she can affect you,” I said.

“Great,” Gilpatrick said.  “Master-stranger!  Noise protection, eyes down!  Yellow for open fire, you better remember the rest!”

People scrambled to listen.

“Hey!” came a male voice from the woods.

“How fast does it take effect?” Gilpatrick asked.

“Fast, but limited exposure isn’t too bad.  Hallucinations, auditory and visual.”

“I risk exposure, to know what’s going on?”

I nodded once.  “I don’t see a better way.  Unless you want me to deal with it alone.”

“No.”

Gilpatrick looked like an entirely different man, with the tension in his face and neck.  He’d ceased being the tough-but-fair teacher and had become the soldier who had fought real-as-shit monsters.

He held his gun in one hand and a small remote in the other.  The active squad members who weren’t managing the Fallen that had already evacuated were standing with ear protection on, caps pulled down with brim blocking some of their fields of view, their heads bent so they stared at the ground a few feet in front of them, instead of looking forward.

Some of them looked pretty fucking scared.

In the background, I saw Ashley emerge from the back of one of the trucks parked on the road.  Not repainted schoolbuses, but a heavy metal van that might have transported money once.  She walked around to the side and leaned against it, one hand over the wound on her arm.

I nodded once.  She nodded back.

Well, some sort of backup, in the event of a dire situation.

And the guy in the woods was still making noise.  “Hey!”

“What!?” Gilpatrick called out.

“Don’t shoot!” the guy said.  “I’m unarmed, she wants to talk.  I’m talking for her.”

Gilpatrick looked at me.  I wasn’t sure what response to give.  I knew this might be safe in the technical sense, with emphasis on might.  This guy could have powers and he could have powers from the same branch of the family, but odds were that he was unpowered and unarmed as he said.

“She might want to talk, but she’s going to use the chance to threaten to do something horrible to hostages,” I said.  “And she’ll do those horrible things.”

“Better to open dialogue,” Gilpatrick said.

I nodded.

“You and you alone, come out!” Gilpatrick called out.

The Fallen was a skinny shirtless guy with a beard, tattoos up his neck and tattoos on the whites of his eyeballs.  He stood at the edge of the woods.  We stood on the road, a ditch with tall grass just in front of us, a hundred feet of uneven ground with rocks and weeds spanning the space between the ditch and the guy.  Gilpatrick’s group had made a makeshift bridge with two stretchers side by side, for the evacuees to cross the ditch.

The bearded man paused.  “She says her son needs medical attention.”

“We can negotiate,” I said.

“She says you need to think about the long term.  You might not like her, but you want her in power.”

“I somehow doubt that,” I said.

“The Crowleys can’t and won’t accept peace.  The guns were theirs.  She only wants to be left alone with her congregation,” the man said.  “They are attacking Advance Guard right this moment.  If you stop her and you don’t stop them or wipe us out completely, they will gather up the remaining Fallen and go to war.”

“The hallucinations stop now, and they stay stopped,” I said.  “We’ll take Valefor to a hospital.”

“She says he’s your leverage then.  To keep the hallucinations gone.”

“Yeah,” I said.  I glanced at Gilpatrick, and he nodded once.

“She says she expected to see Rain here.”

“Let’s stay focused on one topic at a time,” I said.  “You want Valefor to get help.”

“Same topic, she says.  We were talking about leverage.”

Erin stepped out of the woods.  She moved slowly, and she stopped, standing just behind and to the right of the man with the beard.  Her expression was drawn.  She met my eyes, and I saw the recognition.

I saw her look at Ashley.

“Give us Rain, and we’ll give you her,” the man said.  “Tell Rain, and he’ll agree to it.”

The trading of hostages, less valuable for the more valuable, maybe.

Rain had powers, so he counted as valuable, and he was immune to her powers, so he was a threat.  Hopefully he was a threat who was operating in the background now.

Yeah, I wasn’t about to tell Rain.

The man continued, passing on Mama’s words, “Prancer’s group is done.  They’re a non-threat now.  They’ll leave with their tails between their legs if we let them, and we’re not ready to let them.  Agree to leave us be, and we’ll call back the Crowleys.”

“And you keep your ‘congregation’,” I said.

“Even if you killed the leaders of each family, the congregation would remain,” the bearded man said.  There was a feral look in his eyes.  “We’re here to stay, unless you’re willing to kill us to the last man, woman, and child.  Learn to deal with us.  Negotiate.  Do you want peace, or do you hate us so much you’d prefer a mindless war?”

“It’s not my place to make deals of that scale,” I said.  “I’d have to pass it up to the people at the top.”

“There’s nobody at the top except God,” the bearded man pronounced.  I wondered if he was a preacher, with that passion.  He was a little less enthused as he went on to say, “No government, no law, no kings or queens.  You can decide what happens to Rain and Erin here, you can decide the little things, and we’ll all keep your secret.  That will be the shape of our negotiations today.”

“Hi, Erin,” I said.

“Hi.”

“You okay?”

“Not very.”

I nodded.

“Time matters, ‘hero’,” the bearded man said.

“Back off,” I said.  “We need to talk a minute.”

“Your loss.  The Crowleys are winning.  Our offer stands.”

I looked at Gilpatrick, and at the row of his soldiers that were ready to shoot.  Erin was among the targets, and there were presumably others in the trees behind.  Indiscriminate fire would be disastrous.

I looked back at Ashley, who leaned against the van, almost crushing her forearm in her grip, the grip was so tight.

“You’re right,” Gilpatrick said.  “This isn’t our call to make.”

“They aren’t about to wait and let us call up Chevalier and wait for him to finish whatever he’s got scheduled today, and they aren’t going to let us try to track down someone in government who might have the clout to okay this.”

“No,” Gilpatrick said.

I wondered if this was even something we could possibly do.  To compromise with a group that was uncompromising and unwilling to change its mind at its core.

“Tick tock,” the bearded man said.  Using tactics to make us feel rushed to make a decision.  My mom had employed that on me, once, as something illustrative.  I’d been too young to appreciate the lesson, at the time.  I’d mostly been pissed off.

“There’s no clock,” I said.  “Advance Guard can hold their own.  They’re good.”

Stupid on a macro scale, but I’d liked how they functioned in a scrap.  I could trust that.  I wouldn’t get pulled into their tempo.

“They’re outnumbered.”

“They’re good enough that doesn’t bother me,” I said.

“Tick tock,” the man said, again.  It irritated, which might have been the point, but it irritated me because it was so stupid and unintuitive.

“Valefor has to be dying, with that wound.  If anyone’s feeling the clock, it’s you guys,” I said.  “No mother wants their child to die.”

“She says lots of mothers do, but they keep it to themselves,” the bearded man said.  “We have time on our side in more than one way.  He’s dying slowly, she says.  Slowly.”

Slowly.  The Speedrunners.

They were operating in the background and every time they intervened, they made this whole situation vastly more difficult.

The old side of myself wanted to kick their asses.

“Tick tock, last chance,” the man said.

Last chance?  What was I missing?  My eyes scanned the surroundings.

“And it’s done,” the bearded man said.  He turned to walk back into the woods.  Erin looked bewildered, but he motioned for her to stay.

“Stay put!” Gilpatrick called out.

The bearded man froze in his tracks, his back to us.

“I’m okay with dying, motherfuckers” the bearded man said, but he stayed put.  “She’s telling me that one of our powered just got your Rain… and Rain wasn’t where you told him to be.  He was coming up on us from behind.  Secondhand caught him and now your girl in the armor is cornered.  Four against her.”

I drew in a breath.

“Erin here has outlived her usefulness.”

Erin bolted and I flew.  Nothing to lose.  I flew to where Erin had been, and raised my forcefield.  I felt it drop as a bullet hit it, and dropped to the ground.

It was because I was at a weird angle and because my peripheral vision was untouched that I saw it.  Two streaks from above, straight down.

I heard the metal crash, and saw circuitry and metal housing scatter.

The gunman behind Erin had lost his rifle and he held his hand in an awkward way as he used the other one to reach down for the rifle.  Gilpatrick shot him before he could claim his weapon.

The metal- pieces from Looksee’s camera.

One dropped from the sky to hit the gunman’s hand.  The other-

Children and other unarmed individuals emerged from the trees.  A wall of bodies.  the woman behind them was supported by two Fallen.

The woman was bloody, a scrape down one edge of her forehead and a messy patch of skin and blood toward the top end, hair already matted into it.  Blood streamed down her face.

The blood meant I hadn’t immediately recognized it as Mama Mathers.  The moment meant I hadn’t even realized the hallucinations had stopped.

Kenzie had dropped one of her flying cameras on her.

And the Fallen – there had been a good number in the woods.  Possibly the bulk of Mama Mathers’ faction.

They were charging forth, a wall of hostages goaded to stay in front of them, and they brimmed with all the fury and menace of the legions of hell.

Gilpatrick used the remote to flash.  Two red flashes, bright enough that the people looking down at the ground would see the color change.  I knew the code from my training with the patrol block.

Get the hell out.

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112 thoughts on “Pitch – 6.3”

  1. HOLY SHIT KENZIE!!!

    What a play. Tuesday is so far away.

    “It’s a camera, it just takes a picture of your blood. Destructively.”

          1. I’m hugely suspicious of her being dead already, considering the hallucinations are gone.

    1. “Kenzie, why does that drone have a basket of bricks underneath it?”

      “Its my new BrickCam!”

      “Uh…huh…”

      “It takes pictures of bricks! As they fall!”

      “And we would want to do that because…”

      “Architects are always wanting to get more accurate topological maps, and this delivers bricks to the building site at the same time!”

      “…you’re a walking OSH violation, Kenzie.”

  2. Typo Thread! Maybe.

    “Seeing the the surface of everything peeling away to show the shrieking flesh beneath distracts me. Sue me.”

    The the.

    Is this an Easter egg pointing to Slate Star Codex/Unsong?

    1. “Children and other unarmed individuals emerged from the trees. A wall of bodies. the woman behind them was supported by two Fallen.”

      “the woman” needs to be capitalized in the last sentence.

      1. Just noticed, in the paragraph right after this one:

        “Blood streamed down her face,.”

        Ends in a comma-period.

    2. Victoria uses the present tense, when she’s thinking about Tattletale, around where Narwhal chews Capricorn and Vista out.

    3. Narwhal looked over in the direction of the biker and Fallen we’d collected. Afflicted by Mama, they were dealing with the worst she could deal with.
      I’m guessing “she” is Narwhal, not Mama, who is dealing with but I’m still not sure how she is dealing with anything. Perhaps it is Mama then, “deal out.” or just “deal.”?

  3. God I had a heart attack when that Fallen guy said Erin had outlived her usefulness. Massive credit to Victoria moving as fast as she did to save her.

  4. Nice move on kenzie’s part… but how did she manage that without look at mama?

    I hope Erin is ok. Poor girl 🙁

    Wow. Possibly merging of Capricorn? I bet that is going to make them both strongly consider flipping out!

    Awesome Vista n Capricorn have some synergy. This whole battle has been a great trip down memory lane, getting to see so many characters that I miss… but also speculating on who gets mind gouged next. Though it is nice to know Mama going unconscious does end her power if it is by total surprise. That takes away a big safety button for her.

    Rain seems oddly competent the last few chapters. It makes sense though. Finally facing a major fear can do wonders for self confidence, and that seemed like the main thing he was missing before.

    Thank you, fun chapter

    1. Mama corrupts Kenzie’s cameras. Kenzie herself is fine- unless she gets a direct look with unprotected eyes. Kenzie just sacrificed the corrupted camera- in other words, the piece of surveillance equipment already effected by Mama’s power.

      Rain’s also feeling confident because he started the day with a boost to some of his secondary powers and after Snag died he got another boost. Not sure yet if it’s instead of or on top of his existing Day Six Random boost of his tinkery and movement.

    2. Kenzie’s cameras apparently have enough AI to get Mathered, so they probably have enough AI to recieve instructions to crash into things on purpose without requiring Kenzie to actually look at the feed.

      1. That’s my guess. Kenzie never checked the feed from the infected camera. The A.I.s are very good at tracking individuals, so she probably sent it a command to crash into the person who entered its view at the same time the ghost appeared. Whatever she did, I’m glad it worked.

    3. Wait is Mama unconscious? If so, whose controlling the hostages? Valefor is down obviously…unless they’re acting off of his last command?…

      1. It’s not just hostages. It’s a bunch of more loyal Fallen with hostages in front of them. They’re probably being controlled the old-fashioned way (guns and threats).

      2. Mama and Valefor are down, but there’s still the army of Fallen with guns. The hostages aren’t being controlled by powers, but they do still have guns to their heads.

      3. considering it’s a mixed group of hostage and fallen loyalist, and most of the fallen have guns (regardless of what they claimed), I’d assume good old fashioned threats are keeping them controlled

        plus, Valefor’s commands linger a while as well, regardless of his personal health, so there’s prolly some little bits of that hanging in there too

    4. Nice move on kenzie’s part… but how did she manage that without look at mama?

      I don’t think she did. I think she disobeyed Victoria’s orders and just kept watching the camera feed, and didn’t get Mathered because her power doesn’t work through cameras. Kenzie never really struck me as a person who’d really stop spying just because someone asked her.

  5. >“You have a problem,” I told her, quiet. “You have a thing for unattainable guys in heavy armor.”

    Woah. Zero chill, Vicky.

      1. True though. Now to be fair Tristan’s okay… By himself… But even if Byron was straight there’s still sooooo many problems. Unless you have a very specific form of kink.

          1. Whoops, that’s right. Oh then Vista might have been crushing on the one who’s not going to be interested. Or not. Damn case 70’s so confusing.

        1. For one thing, because that’s a piece of shared past that hurts Vicky at least as much as it hurts Vista. It’s not a cruelty thing, it’s a “remember that shitty thing that happened to the two of us back then” thing. And saying it like that immediately reminds / gets across to Vista that Victoria fucking knows what she’s talking about, as far as her love life goes.

    1. Vista replying with ““Dead son of a cunt, I might actually,”” was a great little moment of illustrating her age and development. Same with Vickys thought about it being weird shes Capricorn’s age

      1. Fucking bless.
        Honestly I see 13yo Vista talking like that too, but probably she’d censor herself in front of other people… 17yo Vista is all out of fucks to give.
        I love that instead of getting defensive she’s all like “…oh”

    2. Vista did ask for it blunt, and she is right

      even if Tristan was in a position too date someone or have a relationship, he’s also confirmed to be homosexual, so… vista’s out of luck there. I’m sure they’ll be friends, but yeah, not much on the table for vista’s love of pretty nice boys in heavy armour

      Poor Missy. hopefully she finds a nice guy (with the requisite spiffy suit of armour, of course) who will return her affections one day

    3. Hahaha wasn’t expecting Vicky to call her out like that… honestly same though, Vista. Though it’s… the other way around, for me, orientation-wise. Y’might ask if I come across a lot of heavily armoured guys out there, and well, you’d be surprised.

  6. If we’re lucky they killed Mama Mathers. If we’re really lucky Rain survived.

    It seems attacking Looksee’s friends is a poor life choice.

    Wait, Mama is saying the Crowley’s are the problem? That sort of seems contrary to everything we’ve been told.

    1. It’s certainly in Mama’s best interests to portray it that way, and to be fair, from a public nuisance perspective the Crowleys are probably more visible. It’s just that Mama is a strong contender for being the most dangerous person in the multiverse in the long term.

      1. She was also stalling. Getting herself and other forces into posistion. And of course she might even think it’s true. She may seem less outwardly aggressive than the Crowleys. But she’s also more subtle and insidious, and I’d say the bigger long term threat.

      2. Well she’s not that a strong a contender for *the* most dangerous one. Not with Valkyrie around. MM deff one of the *most* dangerous out there.

      3. Mama is scary, but she’s not on the same level as Riley or Amy, let alone Valkyrie or the surviving Endbringers. She has a strong group, but the tier above her is people who are dangerous by themselves.

        1. Speaking of Endbringers, would anyone else be surprised if, having seen how badly it’s going, Tattletale has gone to negotiate with Ziz for her help in stopping this?

          1. I’d be surprised. It’s going “thousands might die” badly, not “billions might die” badly.

            Unless, of course, tt is *regularly* consulting Ziz now. That could be interesting…

        2. I think, honestly, that if MM messed with Riley, it would end very, very badly for her.

          I have this mental image of Bonesaw advancing slowly across the battlefield, looking straight at MM the whole time, laughing about how MM’s power is giving her all sorts of *wonderful* ideas about what to do once she catches her.

          1. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who can be countered by swapping eyes and ears around is not going to be a threat to Bonesaw.

          2. @ADifferentAnonymous I think it’s a different kind of swapping. Some kinda weird magic thing where the eyes that get -affected- are Rain’s, but the eyes Rain actually sees with aren’t?

    2. Pretty much every single point of negotiation that MaMa’s spokesman came out with was total horseshit.

      “The Crowleys are the real problem, they won’t stop fighting.”
      – MaMa is the one preventing everyone from surrendering, and she only went to negotiate after her deep cover assets were blown, her son had his lower jaw punched off, and they faced the possibility of the Wardens figuring out exactly how they work and deciding to nip that shit in the bud.

      “MaMa just wants to be left alone with her congregation.”
      – Then she’s doing a spectacularly shitty job of achieving that goal, seeing as the Fallen are actively recruiting, kidnapping, brainwashing, raping, murdering, carrying out literal terrorist attacks on the rest of society, and preaching a gospel to their children that ultimately they must torture and wipe out the rest of the human race. That is why this shit is happening right now.

      “The Crowleys will be less of a problem if you just leave us in charge….”
      – AKA the Crowleys are you attack dog and you are never, ever going to fully keep them on the leash anyway.

      “Even if you wipe out the leaders, the congregation will remain and they will hate you forever!”
      – You cannot meaningfully promise any kind of peace, ever. It is literally part of your raison d’etre as Fallen to attack and torment the rest of humanity, no matter what. Aside from that, your congregations are the way they are because you’ve brainwashed them and you have literally held your society together using mind control. So, in other words, if the powered families do get wiped out, the Fallen will abruptly go from being a cult of nihilistic superpowers who really do want to destroy the rest of society to being purely a cult of brainwashed asshole victims of the former.

      You can negotiate with someone whose entire worldview is one of nihilistic hatred and who wants you and every single you know to die. But, those negotiations will of course be limited in scope and reliability.

      1. Indeed. Mama Mathers was stalling for time to set up the attack – she herself has set and raised them all the be her “soldiers”, and too many of the people (even in the houses etc) where armed for the line about the crowlys being the ones with guns to have any credence

        she’s a manipulator who has found things turning against her and wants to get things back flowing in her own way. she just used the wrong bargaining chips on the wrong people, maybe because she’s not as good at this as she thinks she is, or she’s gotten complacent only having to manipulate people already at the point her powers can kill them at will

        even the line about taking out the leaders meaning nothing has been proven false. we’ve seen a lot of ‘fallen’ civilians who did not want the violence or insanity, or wanted to leave even if they still held some of the fallen’s beliefs.

        sweet, sweet comeuppance to the crazy people. so delicious

      2. This. Every single thing said up there was so bullshit, I was actually suspecting the Advance Guard was fucking wrecking the Crowleys

  7. Looksee just confirmed that MaMa’s projections don’t persist without conscious effort; a rare boon.

    Someone, anyone, fly/teleport/run in and take the shot now.

    1. The other thing is that while folks keep saying “If you kill MaMa then the Fallen will never surrender!”, killing MaMa means that the auxiliaries whom the Fallen enslaved would then be *able* to surrender.

      MaMa is not just the thing keeping the Fallen coherent, she is what prevents them from surrendering.

    2. I would still recommend capturing her and locking her in an induced coma/giving her to Riley and Amy. The whole Butcher incident has amply demonstrated that killing people with powers can have unforeseen side effects. We now know that her powers can be disabled while she is alive, but still don’t know if her death might cause a backlash. That risk is lower in light of the fact that it apparently does not operate autonomously, but still exists.

      Also, come to think of it, the Wardens may have a specific reason for concern. Valkyrie “cannot engage this group of Fallen”, and while that may be due to the risk of her getting controlled, she possesses Eidolon, who could be safely deployed against the Mather’s patron Endbringer and accessed a power-negation ability during the Echidna fight, as well as at least one additional cape with a power capable of resisting Khepri to an extent.

      1. She had multiple opportunities to surrender.

        And right now she is holding multiple civilians hostage, and multiple unwilling combatants, this is the exact situation where lethal force is authorized.

        And while Master affects that persist host input are common enough to warrant trying to capture her above all else before, but the possibility of MaMa having a completely separate after-death ability is incredibly unlikely.

      2. I’m not certain handing her to Riley and Amy would be a good idea. Unless you’re looking for them to hack her powers so someone else can issue commands, and then modify her into a screaming flesh-balloon that can be floated above any city in the world and then used to remote control all the people who look at/listen to it by forcing them to have nasty visual/auditory hallucinations telling them what to do.

        So, if that’s your endgame, ya. But I’d be careful in what powers I allow on Bonesaw’s operating table, since Jack is gonna come back someday, and she just can’t say no to him. 😉

  8. Well, that’s a lot of revelations in one chapter.

    Vista/Capricorn shenanigans? Victoria as the older sister figure to a new recipient? Erin doesn’t die? Rain is still a bit of a thoughtless idiot? Kenzie is all sorts of amazing?

    Plz, Tuesday nao.

          1. Kind of expecting that to be a fakeout. Like a Looksee hologram or a clone made by someone from the hero or villain teams.

  9. Absolutely loved every word, interaction, getting some sweet nostalgia and an adorably foul-mouthed Vista (fuck yes!)

    Looksie swoops in with the MVP play, but imagine she got Mather’d. The escalation is delicious, and I’m looking forward to the future war with the McVeys. Sounds like this is indeed the incident everyone was worried it would be: the start of the cape war that everyone feared.

    Gotta say, I appreciate Victoria’s perspective in this serial. The quick combat/emotion/social/terrain assessments and informed perspectives, the cape experience from a character who should be generic as SuperBarbie(tm). There is something special about being in the head of well written, smart protagonists that are still believable.

  10. Hmm. Tattletale not answering means it’s not time yet… or maybe it wasn’t. With Mama knocked out she might be dialing Looksee right at the end there.

  11. “I looked at Gilpatrick, and at the row of his soldiers that were ready to shoot. Erin was among them.”

    A few lines before this Erin just came out of the woods and is standing behind the bearded Fallen guy… Is this supposed to be someone else among Gilpatrick’s soldiers? Or a projection…? What did I miss?

  12. The cliffhanger leaves me wondering and waiting to see if Victoria will find the killer instinct she needs now. Fortunately for society, most people don’t have it in them, but if she does, now’d be the time to turn into a wretched missile.

    The dissonance between what kind of instincts people need in war, like in this scenario, and what kind of instincts people need in a civilized society is interesting, and I sort of hope Wildbow will play with that theme more in this story.

  13. Nice orbital strike, Kenzie. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like the good guys are going to get a chance to press the advantage.

    I get the feeling that there’s some stuff going on in the background with Rain this chapter that we’re going to get more info on later. Time for a Love Lost interlude to catch up with him? It would fit the pattern we’ve had so far.

  14. Also, I’m pretty freaked out that MM’s power is apparently invasive enough that it can affect the cameras themselves. The PRT tactic of insulating their senses using live camera feeds (as seen in the S9000 fights) clearly would not work here.

    Terrifying thought: what would happen if she affected Dragon?

      1. It’s affecting the code in the cameras CPU. My guess is the cameras are advanced enough the Shard thinks they might be something that it’s supposed to affect, but it’s not really trying to go through the cameras.

        Remember if Mama can affect people with broadcasts of her voice and image she’s magnitudes more dangerous. If she can start affecting audio hallucinations like that for example, the Fallen really should have started with a loudspeaker of her talking.

        1. My guess is the Mathers’ powers don’t generally work through loudspeakers. Because honestly, even if Valefor’s power seems to have lost in intensity (we’ve seen people somewhat resist/break out of it this time whereas the last time in Brockton the civilians seemed dead set on following his orders even if they were hurt) he could have just installed speakers in the streets and said something like “All intruders, kill yourselves” and that’d be it. That would seem like the first countermeasure you’d think of in case ennemies infiltrate your town, and as the Fallen must have made a LOT of ennemies, if this system was possible they’d have implanted it a long time ago. Just imagine how broken it could be : once every six hours or so Valefor would just have to say “If you’re a spy or an ennemy, please surrender to the nearest Fallen with a gun and await further instructions.” and the town would basically be a fortress. Radio Valefor would be a terrifying cape. Honestly, if Mathers’ powers do work through technology, then they are completely misusing their powers, which I highly doubt.
          Also, this whole train of thought reminds me of how Goebbels made sure every citizen in Germany had access to a radio receiver for propaganda purposes.

          I’m also wondering if he can still say “Kill yourselves”, seeing as he didn’t do it, even when the tactical advantage of having attackers under his control was slim compared to the chance that they might break out of it.

        1. No, Dragon is code. She also doesn’t keep it all in a centralized location. In Worm we already learned how robust her backup copies are.

    1. Seeing what it did to Kenzie’s cameras, Dragon’s definitely not going to be naturally immune, though she might be a bit more resistant than most people. More able to just ignore the hallucinations, since she is already used to sifting through vast quantities of information.

      Although, didn’t Armsmaster use to have some kind of anti-psychic defense system built into his suit? I don’t think it ever worked, but that might have been just because none of his enemies were actually psychic.

      1. Actually it didn’t work against Tattletale because her power isn’t Psychic. It completely shut down Regent though, Armsamster was all: “bitch please, whatever you’re trying to do just stop” and remained completely unaffected by it. If he hadn’t been out of commission for the S9 arc he would have been the perfect counter for Cherish.

    1. My first thought was actually more along the lines of “wow, Kenzie’s going to be really terrifying when she turns evil.”

      Seriously, that was an unarmed camera drone. How would you counter her if she started mounting weapons on those things?

        1. How many of those still work if the drones are invisible? She’s a countersurveillance tinker. Besides the obvious optical camouflage, she can probably do a pretty good job identifying the nature and weaknesses of any other detection methods you’re using.

          1. Yeah, so?

            And I was only talking about all of the mundane ways of countering drones. Getting powers involved carries a whole slew of problems.(Not to mention the fact that we’ve already seen that Kenzie’s camera can be messed with.)

            Seriously: This fandom has a problem with declaring capes with strong abilities that display out-of-the-box thinking as “scarily powerful” or “un-counterable if they put their mind to it”.
            Primarily by assuming an infinite amount of time, resources, and skill to imagine the most unlikely of scenarios.

            Yes, Kenzie figured out that she can just throw her cameras at people. The things that take several days to build, a non-insignificant amount of resources, and have frequently been shown to be fragile even by normal standards.
            What a terrifying display of power.

          2. Heh, the fandom really does like to do that, doesn’t it. Yeah, Kenzie needs serious prep time to do anything, and most tinkers can field way more raw firepower than she can. And her main advantage, the cameras being unnoticeable in the sky, is negated as soon as there’s the right thinker in play.

            Still, I think she is kind of scary, in a “you never know if she’s watching” kind of way. She has reach. That’s one of the things that made Skitter scary, the way she could casually destroy people who strayed inside her killzone while sipping tea in her villain throne room. One of Kenzie’s camera drones fitted with a gun could achieve some of the same effect, as long as the target isn’t immune to bullets and lacks the thinker coverage to see it coming.

      1. She is really dangerous as a villain even without any weapons, even her regular cameras will get her lots of blackmailing material and top secret docs she can use. And if she teams up with Tt?

        1. The response to a villain who is powerful because she can easily use surveillance to get blackmail on you is to not be a dirty bastard who is vulnerable to being blackmailed.

          “I’ll release the tapes!”

          “Oh no, everyone will see my dick, and that’s all you have.”

          For instance, Piggot was able to laugh in Tattletale’s face because Piggot was emotionally stable and aware of her own problems and frailties. In other words, Tattletale’s power to emotionally tear people apart is pretty much directly proportional to how much unacknowledged baggage that person is carrying around.

          The other thing Kenzie could do (and has already done!) is fabricate photorealistic false evidence. That might be a concern.

          1. I can’t wait for Kenzie’s cameras to start being able to pick up -past- footage from when they weren’t there yet. It just seems like something Kenzie can do -_-

  15. Thought: Does getting more tokens from Snag empower Rain’s own Mover power or does it give him access to Snag’s Mover power in addition to his own? Because if its the latter then that would be some incredible synergy when you think about it. Snag can fall in any direction while Rain can instantly halt his momentum and stop in place. By combining those powers you can get much better use out of both of them, fall at full speed in any direction with Snag’s power and then whenever you want to stop you can put on the brakes in a instant with Rain’s power. Hardly any need to worry about going to fast and hitting stuff anymore on Snag’s end and you actually have consistent use for your power on Rain’s end. I wonder if maybe there’s similar synergies between all of Rain’s weak abilities and the other Clustermates.

    1. It probably just increases his own power. I’m just basing that on glow-worm and what we’ve seen of powers in Worm.
      Each member of the cluster has their specific shard, and then has buds from each of the others. Getting an increase in Snag’s power would just increase his own expression of that power. Basically, he already has the same power but it functions differently. Something like the Echidna clones.
      This is just speculation though. And I kind of thought that getting the power boosts from other members would be a general increase in all of the recipients powers. Pretty sure that’s how the blank room works, and I thought Cradle got some tokens to increase his tinker power when I’m pretty sure that’s his main power. Their whole situation is weird and fascinating.

  16. Narwhal complaining about Vista and Capricorn’s screwup seems off to me. Not the complaint itself, but the timing of it. The main problem with Vista and Capricorn’s plan was that it cost extra time. But Narwhal chewing them out about it cost even MORE time and put them emotionally off balance in a situation where they needed to be as levelheaded as possible. IMHO, after figuring out what the situation was, Narwhal should have waited until later to chastise them about it.

    1. I thought the same thing. That chewing out scene really dragged on. A quick “you can experiment later but now speed is of the essence!” would have sufficed. Or just “less experimenting more running!”

  17. I wonder how reliable the preacher guy’s words are. Crowleys winning? Prancer’s group retreating? So many possible lies.

    Also wonder who ‘your girl in the armor’ is meant to refer to. Sveta? Narwhal? If Sveta, not in real trouble. Sveta’s mostly indestructible. It’s everyone else who’s in trouble if her prosthesis is destroyed.

  18. was nice to catch up with Missy, and good to see she’s growing up well. alas for her doomed taste in guys XD

    now if only our old comrade PsychoGecko was here, he’d already have volounteered a full fanfic love for Vista. alas, we weep for comrades lost to the ravages of war

    1. He was here a few arcs back, I ended up wondering what happened to him. My best guess that,a s a villain, this was too heroic for him and he sauntered off. Which would make it a shame that he left before the Undersiders showed up again

  19. I wonder ithe reason it is sitting it out apparently, and has been running things crazy indirect is if she got a look at and intuited on Mama Mathers.

    It explains the really sideway way she went about it and why no one seems to be getting a straight answer from her pre

  20. Rain wasn’t too shabby and Victoria’s definitely pulling her weight, but Kenzie is definitely the MVP of this operation. Took out Mama and the illusions in one go.

  21. All the chatting and connecting is distracting me from the huge fight going on. But also, seriously, it is just so great and satisfying.

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