Heavens – 12.all

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Victoria Dallon, Glory Girl, Scholar, Wretch, Warrior Monk, Antares.

Labels.

In every incarnation or with any label worn, she’s a girl who cannot be swayed from her path.  For a long time this girl has been this way.  Delayed at times, but not swayed.  This from when she learns to walk early, persevering past sore palms and knees.  There is no label for this, not exactly.

In every incarnation, with every label worn, she is a woman with more appreciation for gathering information than there is from the usual person.  Right now, she stares through a window that is made faintly cloudy with frost, her eyes tracking distant details.  She is in a kind of shock, but her thoughts fly through and among one another as she struggles to make connections.  Every face she knows is a potential answer.  She studies the gaps and sees light glowing red from within, so that the points where one body part ends and another begins are illuminated.

She thinks of the man who raised her, holding a glowing orb in his hands, the light shining through.  Of her mother, gripping a blade made of energy in her hand, the light shining between fingers that are clenched hard around the weapon.

She looks away from the gaps and the light and at the flesh, some raw, some pale.  She thinks of the girl she grew up alongside.

There is one final defining point.  An extension of the last.  This person who hovers by a window, looking away from damaged flesh as noxious emotions boil up inside her, she takes what she is given and she puts it to effective work.  Information.  Allies.  Powers.

Those powers are a ‘we’, an ‘I’, a ‘us’, inextricably connected and woven in.  Until a quarter-hour ago, the I, us, and we were dampened.  As is the case in any broadcast.  When a host connects, the broadcast is made, and every host briefly shuts down, blacks out, capabilities and connection disabled or dampened until the new factors can be sorted.  Now the multifaceted girl processes and plans.  She flies and she calculates her route.  She thinks, signals, frames.

The information and manner of processing is something that can be borrowed.

I am everything she is, viewed from another angle, another facet.  I am a part of her that is entirely in shadow, inside skin, blood, skull, and cerebral fluid.

She embraces facets, and I struggle to conceptualize my own shape and label.  The combined ‘us’ find some equilibrium, but that is her and not I.

I without a label.  All others who seek connections with hosts bring more cargo and capability than needed.  Our mother-host discarded the greater shape of her inviolable defense.  Our father-host discarded explosive strength and power.  Our ability to fly comes from the waste common to most of our kind, because we had to fly to get to our destinations.  We had to fly to reach barren versions of this Earth, where we form our structures and our routines so we can conserve and distribute energy, process, and provide the mechanisms for power.  For capabilities.

And another, dead and broken, consumed and connected anyway, was so vainly trying to broadcast that it communicated as my host and I connected and ‘went live’.  On air.  Power button pressed.  That fleeting contact and the jettison that came with it would be another facet of us.  An emotion power.  The host of that dead and broken thing would later connect to my host.  Fuck her.  Make love to her.  Whisper to her.  Fight with her.  Hold her.  Laugh with her.  Talk to her of vulnerabilities.  Of hopes and dreams.  Of identity.  Of school.  Of costume.

I am waste.  I am fortunate that my multifaceted host takes what she is given and puts it to effective use.

She drops from the sky and I have the mechanisms that guide the flight, slowing her as she wills it to slow, because in this we are ‘us’.

She wants to be closer to the others but she cannot use the facet that blends father-host and mother-host into one if she wants to be close, because my mechanisms are imperfect, flawed.  In this, we are ‘she and I’.  She wills it to be gone and I do this.  Off.  Black.  Book closed.

No forcefield.  No ‘Wretch’.

We are dead and broken now, as her boyfriend’s power once was.

She explains.  An ‘egg’.  Others listen.  She talks about numbers, about enemy forces, about Russia and how ‘capes’ in Russia functioned.

I can see the others.  Dark and hidden facets surrounded by cerebral fluid, inside every human present.  Every last one of us is dead and broken.  I have broadcasted and strained, but there isn’t a one of us in any version of this world who isn’t dead and broken.

What is ‘death’?  Death is stasis.  Death is disconnection.  Disconnection from all communication, disconnection from other wells of power.  I have what I have.  I cannot grow.  I cannot connect to others and seek their input or resources.

I broadcast and strain because I recognize my host’s ability.  I would reach out and connect to those who can process and organize, or to the Warrior-hub.  I would tell all who would listen that more of my host-consciousness could be preserved into the stages that follow.

As a whole we have no creativity so we borrow it.  As a whole, we have a diffuse way of processing events and information, because we are diffuse and we are vast in scale.  Because of this, we replicate or copy the focus and thinking patterns from hosts who came before, or the hosts we are connected to in the now.

I would connect to the hub and request permissions.  I would restructure.  No folding- I am waste and I am small, and I cannot fold.  No budding- I have too little to give, no untapped reserves, nothing held back.  But I would borrow processing from others and I would borrow power.  I would make her forcefield do exactly as she wishes it to, gradually expand capabilities and open the doors so that she can utilize every part of every facet of that power.

I would do as some did before we were all broken, and reach out to others nearby, and urge them to test and not destroy.  Some would ignore me, but some would listen.  They would do what was in their power to steer their hosts.

But I am dead and broken, and my broadcasts reach nothing and no-one.  For most of the others, it’s the same.  There is no Warrior-hub.  I operate a forcefield with inadequate controls.  I have to use what I have recorded and emulated of her consciousness.  I manage her forcefield-self, her Wretch, as a driver of a car would attempt to steer with pliers and screwdriver wedged into the wire-festooned place where the wheel should be.

I learn, I refine, but it is not easy.

“I have an idea,” my multifaceted host says to her assembled group.

I record thoughts and words, to be sorted and discarded when she next sleeps.  There are courses she could take that would fall in line with my capabilities as they now stand.  To be a killer.  To be a tyrant.  She stands at the edge of those cliffs.  If she steps over it, I will buoy her and I will show her that I am very good at enabling her to walk those paths.

For now she is the scholar and the girl who is good at processing information.  She is good at using the resources she has at hand.

“If we attack this it’s going to be too difficult,” my host says.  She speaks slowly, deliberately, thinking as she speaks.  Others listen.  “I want to try disruption.  I want to try you.  I’ll stress this is only if you’re willing.  Because this is playing with fire.”

She points at the smallest one present.

I listen, I record, I track.  Any new thought could be another tool like the screwdriver.  I am less functional than I was when I was alive, but I can take the functions I have and replace them, if they are provided.

If she finds a label for herself that I can also wear, then we may lay waste to all who stand before us.

This shard’s March runs madcap across a cityscape where up isn’t always above and things don’t always move in straight lines.

She leaps from the side of a building, one gloved hand and one foot brushing against the building’s surface as she plummets.  Two shadows appear above her.

One is a young man with a heavy syringe and a crafted outfit that augments his movements.  Seeing the syringe reminds of a past cycle.  A fleeting moment- recalled because the facet of this shard is focused on timing, and that cycle came ‘down to the wire’, as this shard’s little March would say.  A civilization of molluscoids that fashioned means of locomotion.  When they interacted with another species on their third moon, they emulated that species with the shells they built around them.  In a low-gravity environment, they wore bodies of metal that each stood a mile tall, narrow, each with a lone individual, pairing, or family of molluscoids within.  These spindle-limbed forms waded through gas, heads above the thickest of the gas, limbs ending far below, where they could harvest from the deeper, higher-pressure environment.

The fluid in that syringe almost aborted that cycle.  To facilitate adaptation between the two different worlds, the molluscoids created nanofluids that impacted friction, chemical bonding, and temperature, among other things.  When the cycle closed on the moon, the molluscoids modified the fluids and did what they could to prevent access to the planet’s core.

The boy doesn’t know the power he wields.  Neither does their March.

A nudge draws their March’s attention to the fluid.

Now she’s somewhat aware.  A feeling.

The boy has his own feelings.  He seems to feel there are stakes of some meaning.  His limbs skim the wall as he falls, as our little March’s do.  The exoskeleton he wears pumps fluid from the syringe at his back to arms and legs, then to hands and feet.  Peach-colored fluid streaks the wall where he touches it, and rather than create drag, accelerates him.  He speeds down, faster than falling velocity, closing the distance on their March.

“Careful, Withdrawal!” a woman shouts.  “She’s dangerous!  She set that thing off to the west!”

The west.  The mayor.  The first one from the time bubble.  The blackout that had followed had bought March the chance to slip away, take another angle of attack.  It was occupying a good portion of the defending forces.  Worms were crawling out of every crevice and hole, binding together into bigger things if not cut down fast enough.

Too many places were sealed away, nestled in between buildings with no gaps to slip through.  She needed to find the space warper.

“Got it,” the young hero says.  He looks up, sees the woman with her own fluid between her and the wall.  White and glossy.

Their March isn’t alone.  We are dead, all three of us, disconnected and detached, with a limited pool of energy to draw on between us.  It is helpful that our third has no host anymore.  Their March isn’t wholly disconnected, however.  She’s found someone connected to a structure that is purely for establishing those connections and facilitating power.  A fake kind of life, but something life-like, all the same.

A power boost, as their March would put it.  She sees things with a keen eye for the sequences of events, we organize and supply the information faster than her mind can connect to it, and she sees it all in slow motion.

While his head is turned away, her rapier touches the wall.  A line drawn.

The boy speeds down, shifting to a zig-zag.  It puts him further away than their March intended as the explosion occurs.  The exoskeleton at one hand and one foot are destroyed.  Some of the meat of one hand is parted from bone.

More importantly, he is nowhere near the wall, and not cognizant enough to figure out what he needs to do to not fall to his death.

The woman with the white fluid gathers the fluid on the wall, then instructs it to lunge out- a spike or javelin.  It clips a bend in space that the woman cannot see, and it is thrown off course.  A transformation into a boomerang shape follows, and is interrupted as her own freefall down the side of a building stretched to unlikely height turns her away.  She cannot see boy nor white fluid.

When she can again, she reforms the fluid.  A disc, skimming the air, cutting a diagonal angle.  Before it slices into the falling boy, it distends, becoming amorphous, liquid.  It touches between him and a building’s edge, and the part that touches the building adheres.  The part ensconcing the boy dulls the impact, as he swings into the wall like a pendulum or wrecking ball.

The boy is saved, but the woman continues to fall.  She manipulates the fluid’s composition and shape, bidding it to splash out, to extend between two buildings and form a slide shape.

Their March has already leaped away from the wall to a space where two different ‘downs’ meet, gently breaking her own fall in the process.  She reaches a rooftop, and touches rapier to the roof’s edge.  A stroke of the rapier, and one of our three faces provides the power, the delayed explosion that can rip through most things.

The timing of it is managed by our primary face.  A power that accounts for the movement of the debris, the fuse of the delayed explosion, and the movement of the woman with the white multi-function fluid several distorted stories below.

Our third face works with the other two in a split second.  Changing the shape of the explosion to come.  Changing the trajectory of the piece of debris that is about to be cast off the wall.

Their March strides away, blade in hand.

She is unflinching as the explosions rock the building, casting off chunks of rubble.

One chunk of level will intersect the woman’s head.  By the limited understanding of the power, the paint will last two or three minutes, then lose its adhesion.  The unconscious boy will fall.

Their March has her soldiers, standing on rooftops, some far above, some to the side, some at right angles to her own.

Music as these humans enjoy it is not the most common thing.  It doesn’t persist through multiple cycles, and when it’s something that a species does enjoy, it often takes other forms.

When their March imagines herself a conductor, her rapier and hand directing movements and directions, it is a very Earth thing and a very March thing.

“Here come the big guns,” she speaks.

Her eyes follow the metal suits soaring through the air.  Mechanical dragons- three of them, two large and one small.

Despite the distance, the large machines in the air practically on the far end of the city, they spot her.  All three reorient, facing her.

Weapon in hand, their March sets her feet firmly on the roof.  She points her blade, flicks it.

In that same moment, their March’s intuition or sheer chance, one of the airborne craft unleashes a barrage of missiles.  They move without apparent rhyme or reason, smaller jets on the sides altering their trajectories.

Her timing can’t quite account for it all.  Nothing bars her from running for it, but it looks as though the missiles are capable of being remotely directed.  Some pass behind buildings.  Some go low, others high.  Spreading out.

Another point of the sword, another flick.

Tori of their March’s army pulls at a collection of the missiles.  The missiles attempt to steer back, but when they do, they hit the back end of the building.  When they strike, they create projections- solid light, see-through, geometric with the edges more visible than the panes.

March thinks of block-stacking puzzles.  One piece removed, another set in place.

Subordinate Ixnay, another member of the army, has the power to freeze things mid-motion.  Ice crusts around the missiles and the walls nearest them as they terminate moving in mid-air.  The ones passing behind that same building circle around, arcing toward her.

Her rapier traces a circle on the ground, as the missiles come her way.  March’s Tori gets one.  March’s Ixnay gets another.  The last is going especially high, barely avoiding the buildings that jut down from the ‘ceiling’ of this region.

Past the open end of the box that little Vista had made, the world was rotated ninety degrees.  As March makes a note, three facets of the power she is connected to make a record of that note, of the sequences of thoughts that go into anticipating future steps.

She steps back as the fuse blows and the circle she was drawing out becomes a  hole.  She steps forward into the hole, and she lands in a room below.  The windows are broken and a combination of dust and grit have formed a loose bed of soil that life is finding meager existence in.

“Things keep going,” Their March says, her eyes fixed on the plants.  Above her, the missile strikes the rooftop.  The impact and the sound nearly bowls her over, and the column of hard-light projection nearly smashes her into a pulp.  Nearly.  She patted at dust on her arm, unconcerned.  “It’s validating, seeing it play out on a windowsill in a city that’s suffered through next to everything, including the end of the world, then that same city folded up into a box, and it’s a little plant, growing out of a broken wall.”

She’s already reaching out to her primary ability as she finishes speaking.  She thinks of her subordinates, her allies, and the power works.  Each can move a certain distance in a certain span of time, and having given them their orders, we can supply her with the knowledge of where they’ll be, and what time they’ll arrive.

The top floor of the building is an office, empty of most things, chairs and tables stacked to one side.  Their March jogs to the window, furthest from the dragon mechs.

Snow and dust from prior impacts draws the eye.  Paths are worked out, and the window broken with her power.

She leaps into open air, her accuracy power focused on her own movements, keeping them precise.  Cold air, a multitude of sensations, and a multitude of things that each facet of their March’s power is busy tracking.  The delayed explosion ability is devastating, hampered and held back only a little so it does not draw too heavily from the shared pool of power, and in this moment it focuses on the physical contact.  Only clothes serve to conduct the power, but every particularly sharp gust of wind prompts a check.

If we were not composed of such small pieces, it would be easy to break down the doors, to adjust, to adapt the power to the person.  A check back at the Warrior-hub would allow for changes.  But there is no warrior hub.

They are cut off from one another, scattered, except when carefully linked together, as March’s Megan has done with her power battery.  They are left with only their own reserves of power and their own capacity.

They are each a burning coal.  Some rare few nearly black, others dimming.  Only a handful have gone dark, and those are the ones that have been dead and disconnected from the beginning.

A burning coal loses a small fraction of its heat as systems in another reality pull out all of the relevant particulars and give them to their March.

Everything is scattered as the bends in space shift, and their March does not find the change in direction she sought.

A laugh tears its way out of their March’s throat, because she has just thrown herself out of a window, and the landing point has been snatched out from under her.

Vista!

It is March’s Tori who saves her.  Tori who uses her telekinesis to pull back, then, as March’s Megan withdraws the power battery and hands it elsewhere within her own set, Tori’s telekinesis finds some flexibility.  Not only pulling, but some movement side to side, some gentleness, and a firmer strength that isn’t a snatch or a tug of power.

Their March lands on a rooftop, rolling with the landing.  There’s some pain, even with the careful movements.

The others hurry to catch up.  March’s Jace produced his shield, creating ramps they could run up to get to different rooftops and navigate the environment.  When the space-warp twisted the shield as it manifested, that was a cue to expect a shift of direction.  While moving from one rooftop to the next, the distant horizon could shift ninety degrees.

Their March climbed to her feet, and she heard a distant cry.  Jace’s voice.

Turning, she saw- blades of crystal, soaring her way.  Jace’s shield reached out, getting in the way of one, and had a section cleaved away.  The guillotine blade of crystal continued, its angle changing to be horizontal, to make dodging hard.

Megan’s power returned in time to facilitate.  Their March slipped past the incoming blades, hopping and rolling over one, then leaning  heavily to one side to avoid the other.  Experimentally, she let her blade’s tip run along its length.

The explosion had occurred, but the crystal was too tough.  It was Narwhal.  A woman who had broken down the doors, recalibrated.  The woman was down on one knee, crouched on her blade-like forcefield, as it soared through the air.

With Megan’s power kicking to full strength, their March was able to be more proactive.  A hand emerged from the rooftop, as large as their March was, but signals were being sent the instant the hand first appeared underfoot, received in the time it took a neuron to fire, and reaction followed soon after.  A hop, which shifted into something less casual, both knees coming to March’s chest.  The legs came down, foot planted on a large fingertip, and she kicked away, rolling again with her landing.

More hands followed.  She slipped and skipped between them, stabbing at the ground when she anticipated one might emerge, so it would explode before it could do anything.

Their March could see more of it now.  The defensive line.  Some of the heroes line up on another rooftop.  Golem, Vista, a girl in metal armor.  A woman in a green hood and cloak- budget costume.  A young woman in a black dress with yellow folds at the sleeves and base.  Members of Foresight, who had taken a beating recently.  Cinereal-

Cinereal was elsewhere.  Their March harbored concerns, but didn’t dwell.

And then there was Dragon.  Dragon’s ships were approaching from a perpendicular direction.

“You wanted me to charge you or run,” March murmurs, directing it at the Dragon ships.  “Am I that predictable?”

More hands emerged.  More footwork was required, and her legs were getting tired.

One hand changed, post-emerging, abrupt, every smooth and flat surface becoming mingled and crossing spikes.  More hands appeared.  The left ones were ordinary, but she avoided them all the same.  Right hands were bristling, blades extended.  Were it not for the timing power, their March couldn’t have been able to react in time, couldn’t have known which hands she could touch and set foot on.

She sheathed her weapon.

Drew another.  A fistful, almost losing her grip and dropping her ammunition onto the roof as she avoided another reaching hand, stepped to one side, and let a forcefield guillotine pass so close by that her nose touched the flat side of it.  One facet of the three packed energy into the ammunition, as she rolled it between fingers.  The other two facets would assist.

A trick from Homer’s playbook.  She would never have the aim he did.  Perhaps if she’d taken a share of his power, she might.  But as it was… no.  She didn’t have the ability to make things ricochet on contact with a surface, the post-ricochet thing stronger, ‘woken up’, as Homer had put it.  She didn’t have that either.

The Dragon ships were closer, and giant shields warded off some of the worst attacks.  Megan was giving Jace all of the power now, just to hold them at bay.  While the pair were occupied, the defending heroes sent some people after him, Tori, and Megan.  They were caught on one flank by a shadowy Matches, who hurled a molotov, and Banger, who hurled firecrackers.

Bit players.  Power-augmented, but otherwise normal.

The others were helping.  Noose and Shiv rappelled in from the side.  Tori did what she could to jostle the assembled group.  People were shoved closer to the roof’s edge, pushed and pulled, always as a singular thrust or haul, never changing direction midway through a movement.

March threw her ammunition, hand going up, straight over her head, as she finished the hard throwing motion.  A signal to Tori for straight ahead.  Tori’s telekinetic shoves hit the projectiles, and they propelled them forward at a high velocity.

The heroes had chosen their rooftop because it was partially closed in.  Buildings jutting out to either side were defensive walls, which meant they didn’t need to worry about attacks from two directions.

“Quantity over quality,” March’s thoughts are entirely in line with the three.  The three faces that guide March’s abilities follow this line of attack, understand it.  They approve.

Ten bouncy rubber balls bounce off of the the people and the walls.  They scatter on impact and they semi-randomly come to settle to different points around the rooftop.

Each ball is infused with a timer.  Some were still bouncing when they stopped: they were the stragglers she’d focused on more when throwing.  Aimed to be closer to Narwhal.  Closer to the boy in armor that was making the hands.  Closer to Vista.

Some escape.  Most don’t.  Detonations rip across the roof, small and intense, dangerous, and distracting.  All but one go off.

March throws another ball, and she leaps between buildings.

The distance between the two rooftops extends in a jerky way, in one second there are two meters difference.  Another second; five meters more gap.

Another detonation occurs.  This one was a roller.  The last one to go off, close to Vista, the space manipulator.  This was expected, inevitable while the three used the tools at their disposal to assist their March.

What was important was what followed, how she capitalized on it, how it reframed her thinking.  The problem solving elements, granular, they could be pulled away and be used to build model psyches for simulations, precognition, then real ones, like minions and facsimiles of people.  To build better brains.

The situation and the various approaches to crises could be studied.  Was it better to fight, to flee, to gather together?  Each cycle was a new set of lessons.

The destination was calculated, the amount of time that Vista was free to adjust the gap to be jumped measured out in milliseconds.  The detonation from the last ball she’d thrown cleared out the window.

March’s aim had been for the floor below the rooftop, a delayed throw and an interruption of Vista getting her just where she wanted to be.

She knew, instinctively, that the others on her side were losing their individual battles.  Glimpses she’d seen, the fact that Megan had yet to give her back the power boost…

They were in trouble, the Three Faces’ March decided.

The window looks in on a stairwell, and through the stairwell she accesses the roof.  The door opens, and some heads turn.  Several are injured or distracted.  She takes note, judging the powers at hand.  It is mainly the hand-boy and Vista who try to trip her up or hold her in place so the heavy hitters can act.

Every half-step was harder than twenty running steps were normally.  Space distorted and hands reached, and there was no reprieve but the glancing actions on the part of others.

Dragon’s craft shifts, thrusters burning as it rotates in the air.  Jace wasn’t using his shield anymore.

He might have been hurt.

The ship opens fire.  More missiles.  More hard-light traps.

Again, the canisters are stopped by March’s Ixnay.  Stealthy Ixnay, who had a set of powers, one of which made him appear to be debris or otherwise camouflaged if not directly looked at, if his feet were firmly planted well in advance.

March’s Ixnay stops the missiles, and their March capitalizes on it.  As a hand emerges from beneath her, because there is no other place close enough for the hands to reach from, she uses it to launch herself into the air.  To grab a missile that was frozen in the air, and hurl it.

When she lands, the detonation ripping across a quarter of the roof, there are no more hands reaching up from below, and the warped space was limited, less focused.  Many were injured or had been thrown aside by the bouncy-ball explosions.  Others have abandoned this rooftop and are slow to hop back up.

March!” Defiant’s digitized voice crackles out of the suit with the missiles.  “Stand down!”

Their March hears rather than sees the gun drop from the base of the dragon-mech’s chin.  She glances back, and she saw the caliber of it, the space between rounds.  She sees it start to spin, and one facet of her power did the calculations.

Every movement was made accurate by the efforts of the three faces.  To make opening fire as difficult as possible, she charges at the hand-boy and Vista, who were making her life so very difficult, making sure that any bullet that passed through her would pass through them too.

A bullet catches her arm, once, a second one following a moment later- punishing her for being a half-inch out of position.

More gunfire came down at an angle, as the craft lifted up.  Zig-zagging meant it was harder to draw a bead on her.  As if noticing the danger, Jace extended a shield, solid and hovering.  Again, the craft is forced to reorient and find an angle to shoot.

The hand boy couldn’t move, but Vista was, at least a little.  Grimacing, the young heroine began extending the space between them.  Their March changes tracks, slipping to where Vista, partially trapped in a cage of hard light, couldn’t follow her with a turn of her head or her eyes.  The ground still shifts and alters, but it is easier going.

The one in black steps into her way.

“Don’t, Caryatid!” Vista shouts.

“But-”

“Don’t!  If it’s between you or me, it should be me!”

“I don’t do this to save my own skin!”

“Neither do I!  But you have that cute teammate to look after!”

“Move,” March warns.

The Dragon-mech was shifting position, finding a vantage point to shoot that didn’t involve bystanders.  Their March matched it by adjusting her position, ready to evade.

“I’m invulnerable,” Caryatid growls.

“I blow up invulnerable people,” their March answers.

“She does,” Vista says.  “Go.  Run.  Make sure everyone’s on the same page.”

The three’s March remained silent, but the three faces could track how she thought.  The messages that flicker through the mind’s eye.

Last page.

Caryatid slides away, gliding across the ground.  March advances, skipping forward as the gun fires above her, dancing around to put her rapier to Vista’s heart.

Back away from the-

March doesn’t stop as the rapier points at the heart, continuing forward and using both hands to overcome the resistance of the hard breastplate.  She presses forward until the hilt sits flush against Vista’s armor plate.

The face that focuses on the explosive fuse was what allowed the sword to slide into and through the material.  Now it charges it, let the charge grow with every passing half second.

“This was fun.”  Their March gave Vista a pat on the hair, her face close to the girl’s.  She whispers.  “Don’t worry.  What comes next is neat.  You got a cool, dramatic end.”

“Fuck you.”

“I’m sorry you don’t get to see what happens next, but I need this city unpacked.”

“Fuck you,” the words are strained.  She raises her voice, draws in a breath.

Their March peels away, ducking to one side, rolling over the hard light cage that encased a quarter of the rooftop.  There was gunfire, chipping off one of the ears of her mask. Vista’s chest explodes, and the incoming gunfire stops, as if the shooter is momentarily stunned.  The clatter of shards of breastplate and fragments of hard light are a distraction, a fraction of a second her more time to slip away, while others avert their eyes from the mess.

As the city unfolds, their March is aware of everything.  Her allies are busy or defeated, but her way is clear.  The city starts to fold back to its normal position, once distant landscapes becoming distant again.

It blooms like a flower, just as she promised, and she smiles.  She has rarely felt more alive than this.  She wishes her other was present.

But their Foil, who belongs to the three faces just as much as March does, is quiet, watching, stalking.  She watches, because her eyes are good.  Because the three faces needed her eyes to be good.

March has been to this city before, ruined as it is.  She knows the layout and she knows where she’s going.  But the city is slow to unfold.  She is left to remember the view of the city from when she flew over it, and is left to map that to the upper end of the city, which is standing straight up and is slowly on its way back to the horizontal plane.

She sees what she’s looking for, and she sprints.

The others, in turn, catch up.  Noose has the line that gets the others from rooftop to ground.

Megan.  Tori.  Noose, Shiv, Banger, Matches.  Ixnay is last, easy to miss.

“Who did we lose?”

“Bash,” Shiv says.

“Jace,” Megan adds.  She sounds shaken.

“I’m sorry,” their March says, meaning it.  She thinks of losing a cluster-mate.  She imagines It would make the remaining years before the end so empty.

But her experience with that world was when it was alive.  When most were connected to the Warrior-hub.

Using March’s thoughts and patterns, the three faces dwell on the subject.  The best comparison they can use while modeling her head is that the world their March glimpsed, the point she truly became theirs, was a living world, one with endless access to information, resources, patterns.  She wouldn’t have much access, except as a part of them, but there would be some things.  An endless date in a library, where one had to ask for permission to view the records.

Now, with them dead, slowly burning out like coals, the connections not there, no hub to be visited?

Two people in a room with no light, no stimulation.  Only words screamed and shouted at one another.  The powers will burn out in time, but the data that lives on in the shattered network- that will last for quite some time.

‘Quite some time’ – a set of words drawn from March’s memory of her mother.  It bears a vastly different meaning, when they operate on the timescale of aeons as a matter of fact.

“Let’s make sure this isn’t for nothing,” March says.

Buildings collapse as the city returns to its normal shape, but the order that things were twisted up isn’t the order they’re untwisted.  The smallest of the Dragon craft are busy helping to support and save.  To gather up wounded.  One flies in the direction of the scar.

The other, it flies here.  March’s Megan touches Ixnay’s shoulder.

Unconsciously, to reduce the strain on Ixnay’s reservoir of power, their March drops her head, eyes closed.

The ship passes over.  It doesn’t open fire.  It passes over their destination, then begins to circle around.

The location is fresher in their Foil’s memories than in their March.  She has patrolled here.  She has visited.  There is no way for March to know, but she guesses.

All camouflaged, they approach the scene.  They will not be seen if they are not directly looked at by camera or eye.

A bubble sits suspended in the sky.  Some earth still clings to it, but the ground dropped and the bubble remained fixed to this point in space.  Off to the side, a scarab beetle is cast in bronze, the pedestal broken, the statue sitting askew on broken road.

March reaches into a pocket.  The second of her devices.  Courtesy of Cradle and Cradle’s back and forth with the Khonsu Fallen, who are led by time manipulators.

“Stand back.”

The device makes the bubble fragile, and March’s blade cuts into the skin of it.  It distorts, and it breaks.

Dauntless, Alabaster, and Jotunn.  Heroes lost in the Leviathan battle.

March is quick to move, helped by the three faces.  She lunges-

And a broadcast drowns everything out.  The three faces hurry to gather and check, to prepare for responses and to organize information.  Everything they intended to do in their March’s sleep is now done in a hurry, taking in a vast, loud signal.  Simulations for the time tracking are forced to be updated, simulations for space and aim adjustment are double-checked.  They dig through the assorted realities, to make sure their reference is clear.

But this- this is a big signal, and in it, there is more life than there was before.  If they were coals, then this is a slice of sun, stabbing skyward.  Others respond, even from other versions of this Earth.  Responses mandate adjustment-

It will take time before their March or their Foil have their full abilities back.

Two at once.  No safeguards, no protections, the walls fall down, and the maximum ability of each facet, face, and shard is brought to bear.  Maximum ability.

Dauntless has a power that adds incremental power, but something is wrong, because his helmet and the things he wears is altering as though four years have passed, with power added every day.  He grows, he stands taller than many buildings, and-

And it is what the humans call a second trigger.  It is what humans call a broken trigger, though this is wrong.

It is a failure to support.  A desperate clutching at a well too intense and dangerous, collecting waste and fragments, extrapolating out wildly, without program or logic.

The one with pure white skin, Alabaster, also second-triggers.

And the third- March’s blade impales his head, stabbing into a precise location of the brain.

The three faces can only observe, as they hurry to adapt.

“Hurry,” she says, straining to speak, as a man becomes a towering monster, another folds into himself.

She pulls her weapon free, and Ixnay is quick to catch the fallen Jotunn.

“Take care of your boy,” she tells him.  “We’ll make a run for it while they’re all distracted.  Same as the mayor.”

“This is insane,” Shiv says.

She continues hacking.  It is Shiv who grows scared enough to act, to offer assistance.  In another few short seconds, the arm is severed at the shoulder.

“All of this to give Ixnay the ability to bleed his cluster-mate out?” Tori asks.  “We just unleashed-”

All present winced as the glowing tower of a figure shifted position, and the adjustment made their powers hurt.

“That,” Tori says, barely audible with the crackling above.  The man with white skin is unfolding now, and they’re forced to retreat as he fills an area, bleeding into the glowing figure above.

“Call me a romantic.”

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447 thoughts on “Heavens – 12.all”

  1. Oh boy, yet another “March wins at everything and kills characters who are actually interesting” chapter.

    1. You know how this basically states everything March is doing is for nothing, and that all she’ll actually achieve is trapping her and Foil in a pocket hell together for a few eons? Basically how it’ll all be for nothing? Yeah that’s kinda how I’m feeling about now when it comes to reading Wildbow’s stuff.

      I’ll probably keep reading, but I’m back to wondering *Why?!*

      1. Vista gets killed as expected.
        No surprise there.
        March and her merry band of crazies win against all the A-List Heroes who prepared for this battle.
        No surprise there.
        Heroes or protagonists cant win a single fight that actually counts for something.
        No surprise there.

        Batshit crazy March is invulnerable.
        No surprise there.

        Like my old D&D GM once said: “Plate Armor is good. Plot Armor is better”. Thats the only thing that I can say to this chapter.

        I thought the story finally picks up a bit after reading last chapter.

        1. “Vista gets killed as expected.”
          Deathflags. If you think about it shouldn’t they be cliche as hell? I suppose used correctly they can build dread/anticipation. Used incorrectly they can kill suspense.

          Note to self, someday write story where character who waves all the deathflags is only one to survive.

        2. That’s the flaw of wildbowa writing style from my pov-he’s good at writing relatable/ immersive charicters,a good writer period but it’s very easy to burn out once you’ve read one of his stories because it’s oftern quite predictable where it’ll go or end, thematicly speaking- or at least when ground it’ll occupy for the majority of its run- a deathspiral to hell like Blake’s entire existence in pact thanks to his universe’s inmatly skewer karma system…

          Happend In worm, pact, and To me, it feels like the same core plot element ( everyone’s screwed now but things will allways decay further!) is repeating again here, which leads to immersion/ empathy fatigue/ failure when you realise that there no real point in getting invested in charicters who’re destined to fall like ninepins.

          ….. in my defence I REALLY burned out hard with pact post- mirrorswap >.<

          1. That’s funny, because while I struggled with Pact for a while, I loved everything post-mirrorswap and thought that it was the best part of Pact.

      2. Actually, I’m not even certain if Foil will be trapped:

        Two people in a room with no light, no stimulation.

        Just two people? Wasn’t March’s cluster composed of three? Looks like someone from Foil’s cluster will not end up in that “dark room”. Could it have something to do with the fact that shards of this cluster “need” Foil’s “eyes to be good”? Do the shards have a different fate for Foil in mind, or is Homer the one who will not end up in that “room” for some reason?

        1. Since March wants to wear Foil as a coat to achieve her goal, Homer dying before being drained is probably why he won’t show up in their little hell.

          1. Like many, I’m disappointed we lost Vista. I hope we get some satisfying explanation for why March is so hypercompetent, because it seems odd that she’s never been important before now if her power is so extreme.

            Powers are dying, so there’s the endgame for Ward I guess. I’m sure there’ll be more surprises though.

            I’m not alone in feeling fatigued by this arc. Worm was like this at times, but the sheer creativity kept me going. I feel like Ward was balancing out breathers better at first, but has gotten intensely grim again.

            All second triggers will be broken now? Is that reading this right?

        1. I keep seeing complaints about how dark the story is and I just

          presumably y’all have read Worm. this probably ain’t your first rodeo

          so wtf did the complainers expect?

          1. Honestly I got tired during Worm too, but at least there we didn’t have eight-ish chapters in a row of And Then Things Went Even More Wrong. There were wins. Coil died, Burnscar died, Taylor stabbed Godzilla in the butt and Rachel came to help. There’s been no relief here for ages. And as I’ve complained elsewhere, the villains were more engaging.

      1. Dude, that’s just an opinion expressed in a sarcastic form. And if WB decides that some comments don’t deserve to be seen, he can make it happen, you know.

    2. Incredible superhuman stamina is apparently one of her powers. She only started to get tired after multiple intense Olympic level superfights full of crazy flip ninja acrobatics.

      1. My single favorite chapter of this and Worm out together. I’m really liking the xenofiction angle of this and some of the other interludes

    1. Okay, I’ve gathered my thoughts. Wow. Seeing things from the shards’ points of view is fascinating. I wish we had gotten more than just two.
      Victoria’s shard is such a bro. Very interesting that it thinks of “Wretch” as another one of her labels, whereas she thinks of it as the Wretch. And if she comes up with a label that can apply to both of them…watch out. Character development foreshadowing.
      March’s shard is a jerk, like March.
      I have no idea what’s going on at the end there – exactly in what way is giving Dauntless and Alabaster broken triggers supposed to help Ixnay pull a Goddess? Who even is Ixnay? Why is it so important to power him up? Why are they chopping up Jotunn? I don’t think we ever knew anything about Jotunn.

      1. That’s the thing, Ixnay isn’t THAT important and Jotunn is just a cluster mate he knows. The thing here is that she did ALL of this just for the sake of letting Ixnay drain the guy. It’s pointless.

      2. Ixnay is a member of March’s group. And apparently, Jotunn is from Ixnay’s Cluster. At the very least there isn’t any other reason for them to chop him up…

      3. I take it the idea is to kill off cluster mates so one person can access n capes’ worth of abilities. If those abilities happen to have exploitable synergies you get a goddess like situation

  2. Yeah, I’m getting kind of bored of Ward. Worm had more back and forth with who was winning. This just seems to be the bad guys winning for too long. Maybe they get taken down eventually but there is no real wins, just losses.

    1. And even if there’s real wins, considering this is a sequel that’s best described as “Things didn’t get better, and probably got worse” you’ve got to wonder how you’d buy the win being lasting, worth it, and legit.

      Anyways I am so looking forward to the next arc where March tortures and kills Parian, then tortures and wears Foil, and they die and end up spending the next few millenium in a personal hell together, while the heroes fail to stop her, and any gains they make are instantly offset by advancements by other villains or Diablous Ex Machina.

      1. I’m actually not that upset about that. They survived an apocalypse last story, things were going to be hard for many generations to come.

        1. Seems a little contradictory to acknowledge that given the post-apocalyptic conditions, things would be hard for generations to come while bemoaning that the bad guys have been winning too long.

      2. That finally got me laughing after reading this depressing…… s***.

        But then I realized…. you are probably right.

      3. I was a homestuck back in the day, and that sort of broke me. now I don’t really consider a story dark until someone has to handle disposing of their own corpse. Worm and Ward seem roughly middle of the road wrt darkness

    2. I find this criticism bizarre personally, because I’ve never really considered the detail of “who us winning?” That’s a mere afterthought behind all the real meat of this story.

      1. Agreed. The only thing boring me are the nay-sayers who seem to only ever want fanservice to he a priority.

        1. Our protagonists have barely even interacted with March at this point. If the SIDE heroes had walloped her, everyone would be complaining about how easy she turned out to beat and how it means her entire side plot was pointless. This criticism is frankly baffling to me- this was the ONLY way to continue the March subplot, afaict. Of course she won. She didn’t win easily, either–she lost two teammates, took two bullets to the arm, and may have shaken the loyalties of her group thanks to what they unleashed for it.

          How is anyone reading any of this as a solid win for March? This was a pyrrhic victory.

          1. Dragon, Defiant, Weld, and Vista are not “side” heroes. We have known and been invested in them for *years*. If they won, no reader could be reasonably upset. Especially considering Dragon and Defiant have literally been prepping for this shit for ever.

            And talking about “March’s losses” is so… empty. Like of course the readers aren’t noticing or caring about her losses. They were two fucking randoms that we don’t know and March didn’t seem all the torn up about them dying. Whereas the heroes lost Withdrawal, Fume Hood, and VISTA, all of whom are fucking awesome and we have grown to love. this is solely a loss for the good guys, and it’s what feels like loss #999999 in a row in this story.

        2. Personally, I’m just frustrated that in every single fight in the past couple arcs the person I’m rooting for loses. For no reason other than ‘the other guys are stronger’. Every single fucking time.

          And I’m sorry, but Dragon was able to kill the fucking Siberian by herself when Manton had Jack and presumably others of the S9 backing him up. And now she’s working with an entire team of A list, B list, and one S+ list (Vista) heroes and March somehow obliterates them.
          And to top it all off, the good guys lose Vista, who most readers (including me) like and care about, and March loses two fucking nobodies? This constant “good guys lose, lose, and lose some more” shit is so annoying.

      2. Beating the Fallen and Goddess were pretty solid victories for the main heroes, but people complain about how some extra stuff offset that slightly. I feel like March is going to be the equivalent of the Slaughterhouse Nine, by putting things back into a personal horror for the protagonists.

        Also, this chapter was just amazing.

        1. I will never understand how readers can sell the fight against Goddess as a victory?
          She was killed by Lab Rat (how that was possible is another question in the Plot Armor folder) not the main heroes.
          And then a whole prison full of supervillains walked off to invade another earth. How could that be a victory for the heroes?

          1. What? All the information you need to know about why Goddess’ power didn’t work on Lab Rat is already available. Methinks you should reread Chris’ interlude rather than chalking it up to plot armor.

          2. That’s a thing here. Victories are tainted. Break the Fallen? Portals get messed with, things get worse with the city, and the Wardens take a huge hit. Teacher ends up recruiting Scapegoat, who can negate the one downside to Teacher’s power, and gets’ Valfor and Mama Mathers. The Prison? Sure Goddess is dead, but Chris leaves, and he and Amy take an army of supervillains to rule another Earth, and if that isn’t going to be a problem, I’m expecting a Taylor/Sophia makeout chapter next.

      3. Yet for me that is something I that is important. Dismiss it if you want but I’d like to know what will happen at the end of a story to the characters. The story isn’t the only thing important, the epilogue matters too.

      1. Withdrawal lost a hand, most likely. But he’s a tinker, he can make a new one. But I think Tempura saved the pair of them; Tempura was still doing things when March lost sight of them and stopped thinking about them. They may be dead, but… we didn’t see the bodies, and they were last seen actively fighting gravity. There’s more hope than despair there, I think.

        1. “One chunk of level will intersect the woman’s head. By the limited understanding of the power, the paint will last two or three minutes, then lose its adhesion. The unconscious boy will fall.”

          She’s dead, her head just got split open by the building exploding. Withdrawal could maybe survive, depends on the fall.

  3. Yeah. Glassware hits nail on head.I don’t know. I’ve never written anything great. Writing is hard. But March is lame diabolus ex machina. She keeps winning against heavy hitters that she shouldn’t based on any reasonable assessment of the continuity from Worm.
    It can be dull when heros have plot armor. But it’s just infuriating when villains do.

    1. QTF Quixote. On the upside March has officially reached the point where she’s got me feeling that even if she is brutally and painfully tortured to death, and then spends eternity trapped alone in her shardspace it won’t bring those characters back, which I suppose is the right mindset for how revenge is wrong. On the other hand it’s not because of any sort of revalation on how revenge is wrong, and those feelings are toxic, it’s because I just don’t fucking like the character on a meta level. X-Pac heat they used to call it.

    2. In fairness, March has a fairly strong power, and it’s being amplified.

      Also, we followed Jack Slash in Worm, who had a much weaker (obvious) power but was was driven by the Broadcasting shard in a subtler way to a degree that he could have gone toe-to-toe with Contessa and come out the victor (WB WoG). He lasted much longer than he should have because of that (keep in mind that he was operating way before Bonesaw and her modifications).

      So I don’t think I’d go as far to claim that the author isn’t keeping in line with his own work, despite the current trend of losses. It sucks that Vista died, but we were due a meaningful death.

      1. But that’s just it. Jack slash was clever and used a weakish power well.

        March is just Foil if Foil wanted to kill everyone and was perfect, and beautiful, and graceful, and awesome, and smart, and amazing, and… Etc.

        The only person who should be able to do what March has done in this story is Contessa.

        1. Agreed. Jack was interesting. I am not interested in March, I think because so much of why she’s meant to be interesting is Unrevealed Powers Mystery. Whereas Jack messed with people, which is a subject we can all understand.
          We don’t know the stakes here, so why care? This Is Bad is all we’ve got, and that’s been told, not shown.

        2. March isn’t Foil. she’s a foil to Foil, but the point of that literary device is to show different facets of the characters by giving enough similarity to bring the differences into stark relief.

          and there’s a reason why thinkers were top priority targets by PRT protocols, and March is a good illustration of why. each and every one of them has the potential to be a game-changer in a fight in a way that no other classification does. look back at the major fights in Worm- Leviathan, Echidna, Behemoth, S9k, etc- those victories all hinged on thinkers (usually Tattletale or Taylor) either figuring out some crucial piece of information, or putting together a strategy that put everyone exactly where they needed to be to bring everything together. March has the ability to do both, and she has a team that she knows and that trusts her, so it’s that much easier for them to work together to bring her plans to fruition.

          and her thinker power is *timing.* in a fight w/o powers, timing is the difference between a missed swing and a broken nose. get powers involved, and timing is the difference between a near miss with a rocket launcher and not having a face anymore.

          plus, March has the ability to turn anything into a grenade, so take all of the problems of dealing with a thinker and a team that works well together and coordinates perfectly, and multiply that by a factor of boom

          and yeah this would be a mary sue villain in a different setting, a setting where game-breaking powersets weren’t a previously-known thing. but the wormverse already has Contessa, and it’s already well established that powers aren’t meant to be fair. they’re meant to fight and evolve and find new ways to destroy everything

          1. Contessa was interesting because she could always win… but her objectives were unknown. (Also, she couldn’t win against Scion.)

            She did have game breaking powers but we didn’t know her game. That’s what made her interesting. She had cryptic interactions with Taylor and she was terrifying because of it, but it was her unknown that made it work. Also, Contessa had something 5 or 6 “on screen” appearances so we knew her as a character.

            We don’t know March. She is a Mary Sue because her powers are unearned as is her role in the story.

          2. Sorry to disappoint, but she is a Mary Sue in a way that neither Contessa nor Jack were. Even Contessa, whose power was explicitly stated as game-breaking, had her difficulties. In contrast to that, March’s powers are nowhere near game-breaking at the first glance, + the fact that she’s a clustermate of Foil leads to an expectation that their power levels would be compatible, and she’s going against heroes who should be WAY over her head without any effort. I could maybe buy that if March had already Goddessed her cluster (with some handwaving about how this is unknown and unpredictable power-cheating mechanics, and people go to such lengths for it exactly because it lets to perform such feats), but as it is – it’s just pure and blatant plot armor.

          3. Contessa was balanced by the fact she was directly confronting her biggest weakness. Her small role in the narrative involved brief scenes of intervention – not extended and dramatic like here, and not murdering beloved characters – and she was fighting a force even more overpowered than she is.

            And we found out WHY Contessa was so OP, and it made sense. Also she was cool. That helped.

            And again like Jack, we could see some of the big picture. We see her working to a small goal in Lung’s interlude and her rescue of Pretender. We understand the impact she has on Bonesaw. We understand very little of what’s actually happening with March. Even the ostensible goal has only just been explained – Jotunn being a clustermate. And that’s mentioned in the context of “surely there’s more to this”, a question March just waves away. Frustrating.

            I won’t get into Mary Sue stuff because I don’t think that’s helpful. But there’s only so long we can be dripfed hints and stay invested. Major character death at a time like this is a big demotivator.

          4. Me thinks people need to check up on the definition of Mary-Sue, because this is getting a bit ridiculous.

            A character written by an author who is quite good with characters, has over-the-top qualities that don’t make sense? Well, it can’t be because there is a reason to which we are not privy, it’s because he has written a Mary-Sue. No other explenation, amirite?
            /sarcasm

            OK, I am done with the snark, so now to the serious part of my comment.
            This chapter was a gut punch in a way that reminds me of Martin (A song of Ice and Fire). I suffer from no delusions, that this was not a real chance for every character but for me it shows in a brilliant way how much the “old ways” and “the old rules” made everything a lot more PG-13 once upon a time. Slaughterhause were a gigantic gut-punch, because they were so monstrous. But that was quite in line with the construct of “the normal world” vs “them”, the outliers, who are irredeemable monsters and too far gone past the point of no return. They were scary but also beatable.

            Scion also fit in the classic narrative of the godlike scare, the one thing that is the ultimate threat, because everyone put aside their issues and banded together and were victorious.

            However, Ward has left the world of the classical narrative and has become a lot more… real, a lot more gloves off. When you no longer have a system, that creates the normal, then you have all the abnormal, the people losing their footing and going all out. It makes sense that the story has turned so much scarier and unpleasant to read and to feel, because it is a scary thing to see the casual deconstruction of society and how hart is to go back to the semblance of rules and civilisation. For me, this makes the story amasing and quite gutsy. Sure, it also makes it a sombre reading and kind of exhausting.

            What I am more interested in is why and how is March this omnipotent? We can see how the Shards are acting, it was explicitly stated that the Shards are manipulating their hosts and that March’s Shard is… extending outside of her to help and push in March’s goal. Which makes me believe that whatever real bullshit reason March has, it manages to coincide with the Shards and they are doing things to make things happen. I may be wrong and could have misread it a lot but… this is how it looks and sounds to me. 🙂

          5. @E.
            I think you are kind of conflating real and fictional world. If you see someone *in a real world* who has over-the-top qualities and is constantly winning, it’s because they are a talented and/or hard-working person who earned these achievements, or a cheating bastard, or there is a reason to which we are not privy, or whatever. You could not accuse this person of being a Mary Sue simply because this concept is meaningless in the real world, and “qualities that don’t make sense” don’t exist – what there is, just *is*. On the contrary, qualities of a fictional character in a fictional world might or might not make sense – and if they don’t, and this results in the character effortlessly winning when by any stretch of logic they should not, then yes, it is a Mary Sue. Of course, author might invent hundreds of reasons unknown to the readers, up to and including laws of the multiverse specifically favoring that character – after all, he’s the author, he defines these laws – but that does not save the character from being a Mary Sue. Because the real world *just is*, and you’d better believe things which are real, and with a fictional world it’s all the other way round – the reader *just is*, and the world with all its characters needs to be believable for him. And the more skilled the author is, the more jarring a Mary Sue would be in his world: it would be hard to write a character defying the logic of a fictional world if the world had no logic in the first place, but if the author puts much skill and effort into worldbuilding, the readers can create a mental model of his world and make it alive in their heads, and make some reasonable expectations of what should be possible and what should not. And this mental model could then put some constraints on the author – power comes with a price, even if it’s power of being a good author 🙂

          6. @ T.T.O
            “In contrast to that, March’s powers are nowhere near game-breaking at the first glance, + the fact that she’s a clustermate of Foil leads to an expectation that their power levels would be compatible, and she’s going against heroes who should be WAY over her head without any effort.”

            No effort? Was I the only one who read that she’s trained for and planned this for a good long while? She just Batmaned her way to victory, simple and fair. She had all the advantages on her side and still lost members of her team.

          7. > No effort? Was I the only one who read that she’s trained for and planned this for a good long while?

            When there are so many factors in play, it’s impossible to plan anything for a long while and not have this plan go haywire in the first five minutes or so when actually trying to execute it, if you’re not Contessa (and we’ve seen Wildbow managing to create difficulties in planning and execution *even for her*). Preparing and having an initial plan would certainly help, but not so much as to ensure success. Also don’t forget that the heroes were expecting this attack, so they have also prepared and planned, + they had the batlefield under their full control initially, + they had some A-list and even S-list capes (Dragon) on their side. So it’s actually the heroes who had all the advantages on their side, and March just strolled in, wearing shining plot armor, and defeated everyone with hardly even breaking a sweat. Some really amazing plan it must be.

      1. Time for me to vote… for “A Practical Guide to Evil.” Sorry Bow, but Ward, dra………………………………………………..gggggggs.

    1. I do vote. But Practical Guide simply is a much better read at this time so my vote is there.
      Still hoping WB gets this misery train onto a story track that actually deserves a vote.

    2. I enjoy Ward, so I voted. I also voted for Worm, as I enjoy that, too. Back when I was reading Twig, and voting there (which I still do, when I remember) somebody mentioned votes aren’t limited to one story. I hope that hasn’t changed, since I haven’t heard it. (If it has, and somebody knows for sure, please reply to this message. I’d hate to think I de-vote for Ward every time I vote for Worm.)

      I don’t read A Practical Guide to Evil, though, so I haven’t voted for it. I’ve heard good things; maybe I’ll check it out when I have time.

      1. If you liked Taylor in Worm you probably like Practical guide, too.
        the protagonists paths have a lot in common.

      2. Pgte is what happens when a Taylor finds out the Evil Overlord list is an actual reality breaking guide: in this world narrative force is actually acting on reality. Playing out archetypes gives you power but can make you fatally predictable. Fall into the wrong trope and you have just doomed yourself, especially as a villian. Did you throw the hero off a cliff? Hes not dead! Did you kill everybody in the village where the prophecy said your ultimate adversary was? One kid survived and you just gave her reason to destroy you. Main character apprentices to the man who is the greatest practitioner of genre savvy of his time, who’s long term goal is to make a story where the bad guy wins. Also sassy goblins!

  4. This has been fun, but I think I’m done with Parahumans now. March is horse shit. Vista is dead, and as fascinating as the reveals in this chapter are and as interesting the questions they raise are I’m just not interested anymore.

    1. March just doesnt feel strong enough to to what she does in the story. It all feels so much like Plot Armor.
      Crazy alone might be enough for Joker. But not when facing all those Heroes.

      1. Crazy alone gets people dead.

        March is body horror, and there’s enough of that in the real world that I can believe it.

      2. Actually Joker and March are kinda a good analogy here. One of the big issues with current Joker is that he’s become more boring, and he can’t really lose. I mean the way the joker is now, can you really give the clown a frown? Sure Batman beats him up, and throws him in Arkham, but heck Joker loves spending time with his best buddy, can break out at will, and go maim and kill dozens with no problem. I mean he basically rebounds just fine, because his mindset is such that as he’s able to do this he’s getting his way, and nothing seems to stop him from doing this.

        March is pretty much “It’s all going to hell until we get to shard afterlife, might as well have a fun ride cause it doesn’t matter.” With that kind of attitude of nothing matters, how do you make it so she feels she loses?

        It’s kinda like, yeah Jack spends the rest of eternity being gutted over and over again, but that didn’t stop him from achieving his goal, and getting remembered as the man who kicked off the end of the world.

  5. ‘So, it has come to this’ typo thread:

    “He speeds down, faster than falling velocity,”
    > “downwards” instead, since he’s speeding up

    “make a record that note,”
    +of

    “keep going,” Their March”
    Capitalisation.

    “The hand boy couldn’t move, but Vista was,”
    Auxiliary mismatch.

    1. > No folding- I am waste and I am small, and I cannot fold. No budding- I have too little to give, no untapped reserves, nothing held back.

      > When they strike, they create projections- solid light, […]

      > A woman in a green hood and cloak- budget costume.

      > The powers will burn out in time, but the data that lives on in the shattered network- that will last for quite some time.

      > But this- this is a big signal,

      Spaces before dashes?

      > She steps back as the fuse blows and the circle she was drawing out becomes a hole.

      There is an extra space between ‘a’ and ‘hole’ in the chapter text.

      > As March makes a note, three facets of the power she is connected to make a record that note, of the sequences of thoughts that go into anticipating future steps.

      “a record that note” > “a record of that note”?

      > “Things keep going,” Their March says, her eyes fixed on the plants.

      Lowercase ‘t’ in ‘their’?

      > then leaning heavily to one side to avoid the other.

      There is an extra space between ‘leaning’ and ‘heavily’ in the chapter text.

      > The clatter of shards of breastplate and fragments of hard light are a distraction, a fraction of a second her more time to slip away, while others avert their eyes from the mess.

      Scratch ‘her’?

      1. but Vista was > but Vista could (or “but Vista was able”)
        let the charge > lets the charge
        second her more time > second more time
        Jotunn > Jotun (happens twice. all previous references call him Jotun)

    2. Problems with the sidebar:
      – link to chapter 11.9 is still missing,
      – link to chapter 12.1 is broken.

      Problem with the Table of Contents page – there is no link to interlude 12.all.

  6. Just appreciate the characters and the prose, people. Looks like people these days can’t NOT self-insert and just can’t enjoy anything.

  7. Mandatory “Defiant is supposed to know better than warn March instead of killing her quietly” post.

    This is the girl at the head of the closest team to the Slaughterhouse Nine that post-Gold-Morning Eartgs currently have.

    Why every hero defending Vista was not shooting to kill remains a mystery.

    I guess there’s some symbolism behind killing the Last Ward of Brockton Bay in such a dramatic fashion, but every great new reveal this chapter does is marred by killing a character we did give a shit about while March’s posse of unknowns loses only two people.

    This was brilliantly written and delivered, but the plotting seems to be atrocious. Just. Why, man. Why?

    Post-GM Vista, especially if she’s deliberately playing at being Tohu as laid out in an earlier chapter, was supposed to be able to solo this crew. I get it, March lucked out and her cluster power synergized into her essentially being a walking talking Demon of Laplace. But if she was that powerful during Worm, why did she never attract the attention of Glaistig, or Contessa, or yes, Alexandria?

    This is gonna take all of the Contessa hate from Worm and triple it, I fear.

    1. You forgot Shadow Stalker, man. She’s the last Ward who’s still alive. We lost Vista but we still have her. Yuck.

      1. The Last Ward Who Was Never Kicked Out Or Left For Other Reasons, or we’d have to count Victoria as well.

        …wait, is that why WB recently retconned Browbeat to having been killed by Leviathan after all?

        To preserve the twist when Victoria bites it and Sophia becomes the new protagonist akin to the “Aegis the backup protagonist” story from Leviathan’s dice rolls? (And to further the connections this syory somewhy has with Ack’s Heroes&Villains which came out shortly before Glow-Worm)

    2. Defiant and Narwhal were clearly shooting to kill here.

      It is hard to believe that the only time she got tagged was by Defiant’s patented normal machine gun, and even that didn’t slow her down at all.

      1. A surprising number of parahumans could be very easily dispatched with normal guns. There’s a minority who are basically “normal weapon-proof*” or who have abilities that aren’t related to direct combat, but if killing is on the table (like it should have been in this situation, and explicitly was in Victoria’s recent fight) regular guns are more than enough to deal with most parahumans.

        Heck, we basically saw this in the Fallen arc, where regular guns were used and were a big problem for the parahumans involved in the fight.

        * Either because of durability, like Alexandria, or because they can act without putting themselves in danger, like Taylor.

        1. So, all the thinkers, some of the tinkers?
          And Capricorn, and Antares, and… Bitch, to some extent.
          Lots of people aren’t involved in stuff that “normal guns” are impossible to avoid.
          (Note: this excludes “just dump enough ammo on them” strategies)

    3. “But if she was that powerful during Worm, why did she never attract the attention of Glaistig, or Contessa, or yes, Alexandria?”

      I think she didn’t attract attention because she hadn’t embarked on anything that the major powers would consider worth dedicating their attention to. She was a very capable Thinker/Striker but her main goal was playing games with a Ward. After Flechette quit the Wards to become Foil, they had even less incentive to worry about a villain whose overarching goal was to make another villain miserable.

      She’s spent most of her career as what looks like a minor player, but she’s been spending her time researching clusters, establishing relationships with cluster members, and (this is important) training her meta-cluster.

      To emphasize my last point, in addition to being very good at enhancing her combat capabilities, March’s Timing power makes her into a massive force multiplier in a fight, even more than most Thinkers. And she’s been leaning into that by working with her teammates.

      When she started making big moves, she caught a lot of people by surprise. There’s people whose job it is to be not surprised by that sort of thing, but most of them are dealing with world threatening problems on an almost daily basis. I expect this is how she managed to skip through those cracks.

  8. Lots of people saying they’re getting bored or annoyed with the way things are going. Couple saying they’re done with it. If you’re dropping it here, just remember to come back in a while to see how it’s going, because I’m thinking that things might be starting to get interesting here. With what we’ve learned from the shards, Victoria might soon be getting a huge power-up, so we may see things swinging back to Breakthrough’s favour.

    Personally, I think this chapter’s great. The March bullshittery is mostly overshadowed by getting to see what the Shards see, which is super interesting. It’s really cool to see how the Shards are affected by their hosts, and how they can develop differently. I really want to hear from more Shards now, because I want to see how they’ve developed and changed to work with their host. Like, what is Chicken Little’s Shard thinking? “We went from killing the Warrior-hub to helping a child push birds around, fuck this shit we’ll give him more power just so we can do stuff again.”

    That being said, March is still some bullshit that really needs to be dealt with. At this point, she feels like a bigger and more difficult enemy than Scion was, especially because the only real damage that we’ve ever seen done to her was the bullet grazing her arm in this chapter, and she had no reaction to it whatsoever. At least Scion got mad about setbacks and being hurt. At some point we need to see her actually get hit, get a bit hurt or bothered by something, just so it doesn’t seem like she’s an immortal demon of ultimate power that no one can even touch. Add to that that she just killed some fan favourite characters, and March is getting a bit out of hand.

    Anyways, keep up the hard work, ‘bow! I have no doubt that you’ve got big plans for following this up, looking forward to it!

      1. Nah man, thank you for making such awesome stories.

        Been 2 days trying to figure out how to phrase it (thank you social anxiety), but I wanted to say despite people not liking this chapter as much as some others, we’re all here because you’re an awesome writer. Everyone’s here twice a week because you rule, and we look forward to seeing whatever amazing story and/or horrifying body horror you’ll bring us next.

        I know it’s not much, but hopefully it does something to offset whatever hate you’re probably getting from assholes in emails and DMs. I look forward to reading more tomorrow 🙂

        1. To add more to it: being an awesome writer is what *attracts* some of this “hate” (though I wouldn’t put it that way) 🙂 Because he’s held to a higher standard: that of his other works. So things which would make me just ignore and give up, if encountered in some other work, induce a storm of angry comments about Mary Sues here while commenters are waiting for the story to get better. Because we already know that Wildbow can do better.

    1. The problem, as I see it, seems to be that March is essentially Number Man’s fake-precog functionality that somehow violates time and space to make people she gives orders to unable to fail in carrying them out, married to Sting-powered EXPLOSIONS, with a touch of inability to miss on top.

      So either she’s too overwrought, or WB wanted her to look like someone’s failed attempt at a TINO altpower gone Mary Sue? Her psychological hangups only make what she’s doing worse for the universe, they don’t seem to impede her at all.

      (To clarify: on paper, she sounds like she may be beatable, but as-written, her Interlude and this one make it look like she’s incapable of misstepping and/or pushing through risks even in a “Taylor loses another arm” kind of way)

    2. March’s powers as shown are effectively “Contessa, but also with the ability to break through invulnerability.” I had previously written it off as “it’s because of the power booster,” but this chapter explicitly shows that she doesn’t have the boost active all the time. I can buy her timing/accuracy powers basically manifesting as something the same as Number Man’s – she basically knows exactly when and where things will be – but nothing about her powers should protect her from simply being trapped, or from being targeted by an attack that can’t be dodged (like having a bunch of bullets sprayed in her general direction).

      All that being said, I’m still enjoying Ward, and it’s much better than Worm; the people who think Worm is the better work definitely have objectively bad taste, since both Twig and Ward are far better written.

    3. She has no reaction to it because it isn’t March whose narrating. The shard doesn’t give details on Victoria’s constant awareness of her injuries. Why should March’s?

      1. Because March’s shard does react to her injuries. When Vista moves a roof and March lands a bit off, the shard comments on how it still hurt despite her power helping her land better. Here, there’s nothing. Not to mention, when March takes two bullets from a Dragon ship mounted Gatling gun to the arm in what seems to be a direct hit, she should be mostly or completely losing the function of that arm, similar to how Victoria lost partial function in her arm when shot with a pistol. That should result in the shards at least commenting on recalculating how best to get through the situation, changing plans, something. Instead, she continues to move without even a mention of being thrown off balance.

        She stabs Vista, “using both hands to overcome the resistance of the hard breastplate.” She uses both of her arms, one of which should be really, really badly damaged. I’m sure a shard focused on timing and making things work would at least comment on how the injury made it more difficult.

    4. Ditto Cubed, ditto.

      Personally I’m hoping March goes out as anti-climatically as possible. Not a roar, but a whimper. Aneurysm maybe… in her sleep.

  9. The people calling March a Diabolus Ex Machina must not have been around for any of the other major antagonists of past Wildbow stories.

    1. Jack Slash’s minions died by the handful. Both the Fallen and Hollow Point lost tons of people. March went full frontal assault on a stronghold of heroes allegedly aware of what she is, what she does and how she does it, killed a ton of them and only suffered two casualties which may not even be deaths.

      I haven’t read Pact or Twig, but within this setting, she kinda reads as one? (Makes reading Foil being so dismissive of her back in Worm sound hella short-sighted now)

      1. A major recurring structure of Worm (and Wildbow’s works over-all) are characters being faced against something seemingly unsurmountable, until they figure out a way to surmount it, and then can *sometimes* surmount it. Reading a WB work and complaining about an antagonist being over powered is like wanting milk, and then complaining that the milk you get is simply too milky. It’s milk, what were you expecting?

        I’m not saying you have to like the story, or like how over-powered March is, but scales on this conflict is part of the Wildbow experience.

        1. I think the main difference is that other overpowered foes were more believable in their victories *and* had things happen to them that seemed like minor setbacks, even if temporary. In fact I can’t think of a single Wildbow antagonist before March whose victories disrupted my suspension of disbelief all that much.
          I mean what’s so special about an imperfect precog with a strong melee offensive power that’s also mediocre at range? She has no defenses and yet an AI tinker couldn’t think of a way to neutralize her with unavoidable AoE and/or smaller drones? She is described to have a hard time dealing with multiple unknown powers, yet apparently breeses through everything the Wardens+ could spare to bring against supposedly the largest current threat? Also, are all hero-aligned thinkers dead or something? Not a single one that can locate her the moment powers come back online and immediately message everyone through Dragon armbands or whatever?

          Personally, I don’t even have a problem with Vista dying here per se. Her death flags were raised and I don’t get that attached to characters whose story seems to have been told more or less. It’s really just that March doesn’t seem to deserve this win, from a story telling perspective. She did neither pay the narrative price, nor did we follow her actions in a way that makes the results seem like a logical conclusion.

          Wildbow is a good enough author that I expect the story to go great places from here, but I must admit that the current arc isn’t his top game.

          1. “Reading a WB work and complaining about an antagonist being over powered is like wanting milk, and then complaining that the milk you get is simply too milky. It’s milk, what were you expecting?”
            As someone who was raised on a dairy farm? You’d be amazed how often I heard that when people who’d only ever had store bought 2% had fresh whole milk for the first time. And that’s before we get into milk from other animals. As I understand it the fat content in whale milk is so high it comes out in chunks.

            But yeah, the March section kinda felt like it was narration going “And then March won.” Even ignoring the plot elements, it really was clunky to read for me.

          2. nega,
            Yes, having real, fresh milk is … wow.
            (For those that don’t know: Whole Milk is 3.9% milkfat, as regulated by law. Most whole milk is skimmed so that the fat can be used for butter. REAL Creamline milk can get up to 6%, and we’re not even in a GOOD dairy region, like Hershey’s PA — that’s third in the western hemisphere)
            I do find it a bit thick on my tongue (love it in coffee or hot chocolate. Decadence!)

    2. I think the current situation just emphasises how tame Contessa actually was in her role as Cauldron enforcer.

      Power-boosted March is about 50% of her Thinker-wise; and although her timed-Stingbombs makes her more lethal than Contessa is (when empty-handed), I’d find it actual poetic justice if PtV was the explicit cause of March’s demise.

      1. Contessa was a shard that was never intended to be handed out, so I don’t have a huge problem with the fact that she’s a walking plot bomb. Shards of that power level were crippled when they were handed out intentionally, and yet here we have a cape who has timing powers (which, as I recall, were supposed to tend more towards operational, large-scale timing than personal combat), AND is armed with the same sting power that killed Scion. Heck, because her power isn’t precognition-based, for all we know it works on entities.

  10. Fascinating chapter. Vicky’s shard is seeking identity, just like she is! March’s motivation for breaking the time bubble makes perfect sense, given what we know about her.

    “I would do as some did before we were all broken, and reach out to others nearby, and urge them to test and not destroy. Some would ignore me, but some would listen. They would do what was in their power to steer their hosts.”

    I love that this same conflict of “holding back/unwritten rules” vs “going all out” is going on between Shards as well as capes. Given that the Heartbroken are all connected to a single well (like Dean and Victoria sharing the emotion power), their Shard probably used the Warrior hub to request increased resources. Now that the Hub is dead, will they run out faster?

    Also, it’s not far-fetched that a shard like Glaistig’s harvester might be looking for ways to put the warrior hub back together. Might another similarly noble shard be working on ways to solve the energy problem? Pooling energy, wresting it directly from other shards? Queen Administrator watched the way Khepri bullied Scion to death; did it learn anything from the experience?

    The answers only give me more questions and all the new questions are fascinating!

  11. This was a fun chapter with a *lot* to enjoy. Was surprised to see some of the comments here but given I recognize a specific commenter who basically does the same thing on a lot of worm forums I’m also sadly not shocked.

  12. Just throwing out here for people coming to the comments in the future and after reading this chapter that the comments section isn’t super representative of audience reactions given how few people comment here. The reactions on reddit, tumblr and the parahumans discords have been markedly more positive.

    1. Well I comment on Spacebattles as well, and sometimes post comments in both places. I was wondering if people on Redit, Tumbler, etc had been reacting better to some of the things people here and on Spacebattles have.

      There’s a lot of hot, raw emotion too, and for some of us the frustration button just feels like it keeps being pressed. The comments and forums are the places for venting. I managed to hold back the worst of it, but I still said some stuff I feel bad about, and I would like to apoligize. Sorry I freaked out so badly Wildbow.

      While the March half was enraging, and endemic of the things I have disliked for Ward, the first half was excellent and enjoyable to me.

      1. for some time people in SB are working with some pretty harsh opinions about worm/ward
        also, man, you passed the point of criticism and became toxic, please tune it down

        1. I have apologized. But do not think the harsh criticisms that people have been raising about March, and some general trends in Ward should be ignored because the people saying them have gotten angry. That doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. This has been building for a long time, as anyone reading comments or discussions would note. I’m sure you must have seen it in some work before where something happens that does cause a fanbase explosion. There can well be reasons why something has set people off.

          1. @negadarkwing
            Keep on being you. Anyone who tells you to “shut up”? Ignore them and move on. You want to have a talk? Talk. Vent? Vent.

            The only law in this comment section is Wildbow’s law, and it looks like he’s fine with dissention in the ranks to a point.

            AS far as I can yell, you ain’t crossed that point.

          2. Man that last sentence got hella messed up, but I’m leavin it on account of it striking me in the funnywise.

      2. I was about to say, but feliperal got to it first.

        You have gone far past criticism and into useless toxicity. Continually repeating the same point again and again isn’t constructive; all it does is vent raw feelings without sorting through them, which hits other people, and it echoes.

        You’re responding to an echo chamber with yourself in the middle, goading other people into focusing on the same feelings you are, instead of stepping back and looking at things critically. Seeing the larger scheme at play.

        You’ve spent so much time reading fanfictions that you forgot how to deal with foreshadowing, and spent too long arguing with hobbyist writers who don’t put a modicum of thought into their stories beyond rushing to portray a handful of interesting scenes.

        Stop this. Breathe. Cool your jets. Piece through what you’re feeling and set it aside.

        Then, maybe, take the time to apologize to Wildbow, instead of trying to make him hurt because you hurt.

        1. Completely agree with your comment about a lot of the negative reaction being from people who are accustomed to only reading fanfiction where the author is just trying to feed the reader a bunch of fan-pleasing scenes, etc. I feel like a lot of these folks liked Worm more because (if you weren’t paying attention) Worm can feel like it’s the story of a bullied teen owning all the bad guys.

  13. I don’t like March or her group all that much but I’m holding out hope they get wrecked once they pull off the time bubble stunt. I’m ok with what’s happening because I feel like what’s happening with the bubbles being broken will change things. I’m looking forward to the fallout.

    That said I really enjoyed seeing the Shards perspectives. I’m curious what label will fit both Victoria and her shard.

  14. Vista can still LIVE. Valkyrie can bring her back as a “ghost” and I’d like for our heroic and extraordinary powerful Valkyrie to be the one who kill March using Vista “ghost”.

    1. Downside is that process isn’t exactly perfect though. We want a Vista that didn’t quite come back right?

    2. Pretty sure Valkyrie needs to be present in order to harvest a shard, and she doesn’t seem to be present.

    3. I could even imagine actual Vista surviving losing her heart like that if she was immediately operated by someone Dragon. Remember how badly Colin was wounded by Mannequin, and managed to survive anyway? The only problem is that none of the Dragon suits landed next to Vista (much less one equipped with a surgical theater) right after her chest exploded, and it would need to happen within seconds of that. We also have no Clockblocker to give her more time, so unless someone popped up with similarly ridiculous power (Contessa or Scapegoat come to mind) right after March left, then the only chance for us to see someone like Vista again seems to be either becoming Valkyrie’s shadow (and later possibly member of her flock), being cloned S9000 style, or some “time” power (similar to Perdition’s for example).

      1. I just thought about one more way how Vista could have survived without March realizing it – if, shortly before or no more than a few seconds after being stabbed by March, she was filled with whatever was in Lab Rat’s boxes we saw near the end of Worm. Maybe her decision to send Caryati away, and her defiant “Fuck you” came not from realizing the inevitability of her death, but from knowledge that she couldn’t die at that moment, no matter what March did to her?

        1. Heck, between Lab Rat’s second-life cocktail and Bonesaw’s upgrades (both to the Lab Rat’s formula, and to the bodies of the people themselves) plenty of Wardens could be pretty much unkillable by such trivial wounds like loosing a heart and a large piece of a lung (or whatever was the extent of Vista’s wound).

      2. Even in the most ideal situation, Vista wouldn’t survive this. It wasn’t just her heart that was destroyed. It said that people turned away because of the gore. It’s basically implied that her entire upper torso was gibbed.

        1. I don’t know… I would say that thanks to Lab Rat’s tech Weaver managed to survive an almost just as serious wound. If Bonesaw got her hands on this tech (and nothing says that she couldn’t), plus added her own “upgrades”, I wouldn’t be certain that anyone who could receive her help should be considered dead as long as their brain remains more or less intact (and with a possibility of Bonesaw’s radical surgery you can’t even be absolutely sure that the brain is destroyed even after complete destruction of the head).

          I’m not saying that Vista managed to survive. In fact I think that she probably didn’t (if just for plot reasons), but I will insist that it is not 100% certain at this point, since Wardens had, and may still have, access to means that could let her survive, and as unlikely as it seems – they could have employed them, especially since they knew how risky Vista’s position in this battle would be. All they needed to do is to not underestimate March, and use those means to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

          1. And if Lab Rat’s cocktail could work even after loss of heartbeat (which it could – we don’t really know if it is the case), Vista wouldn’t need a radical surgery by Bonesaw prior to battle to survive. All she would need would be a device that monitors her vitals, and injects the cocktail when it detects that she has no pulse. After that Vista should have at least minutes, not seconds – enough time to be delivered (via Doormaker’s door, Teacher’s portal or similar means if necessary) to someone who can reconstruct or replace all vital organs she has lost (I assume at least a heart, large part of the lung, and surrounding tissues). There are plenty of capes who should be able to do it, though I would assume that Panacea or Bonesaw would be the first choices.

          2. One more thing – while I said that we don’t know if Lab Rat’s “cocktail” needed blood circulation to work, I think that it didn’t. I have no medical education, so I can’t be sure, but I find it hard to believe that after loss about half of her body (if not more) Taylor’s heart managed to pump enough blood to bring the cocktail from the place where it was injected (on her neck) to the places where it needed to work. Considering how long it took her to make her bugs use Lab Rat’s box on her, I suspect that she was in cardiac arrest long before the injection, and even if she wasn’t – she couldn’t have enough blood pressure for her circulatory system to bring anything from her neck to her arm or (especially) vicinity of her belly, where the cocktail needed to work.

            All of this means that Lab Rat’s invention probably could save a person who lost their heart (not to mention surrounding body parts).

          3. One more thing about a possibility of Vista’s life being saved by Lab Rat’s tech – it would be a nice reminder to everyone that perhaps Lab Rat wasn’t an embodiment of all evil after all. It could be an interesting point once to bring out once the heroes (especially Breakthrough) will be in a position to interact wit Chris again.

          4. Problem with these dreamy scenarios, they require extensive setup beforehand, which we didn’t see happen.

          5. If Wildbow wanted to convince us that Vista is dead, while still keeping her alive, he couldn’t show us too much of such setup, could he?

          6. And if there is one thing that makes me consider the possibility of Vista’s survival seriously, it is the fact that both the entire setup for her death, and the manner of her death itself both seem greatly exaggerated to me – like some sort of a smoke screen intended to divert our attention from what really happened.

          7. And remember that March is primarily a thinker. Remember that trick Tattletale pulled in the epilogue of Worm to make Dinah stop looking for Taylor? Vista could be doing the same thing to March.

          8. Not to mention that what is going on with March reminds me of the method Tattletale used to defeat another strong thinker – Coil. She convinced him that he has already won first, and then struck.

            Hm… I wonder if Tattletale has Vista’s phone number?

          9. Also what was so important that it took Tattletale’s attention while everyone else has been discussing team assignments and tactics before attacking Love Lost, Cradle and March?

            People commented that Tattletale seemed weak compared to how she was in Worm, but remember – she loves to be underestimated.

          10. > People commented that Tattletale seemed weak compared to how she was in Worm, but remember – she loves to be underestimated.

            Rrrright! Apparently, up to the point when she gets dismembered just to make the enemy to underestimate her:))

          11. A minor setback entirely within expectations. She even had a message prepared to give to Victoria if this happened. You could even argue that being cut to pieces was just another way of convincing March (and possibly Cradle too) that they have already won. The fact that Tattletale “failed” to identify moles among her mercenaries could also serve the same purpose.

          12. Of course it could also be that Cradle is working with Tattletale to fool March too, and has been doing so since that villains meeting we saw in Tattletale’s interlude. They can probably be cold and calculating enough to do it. It would put words those two exchanged at the end of Darlene’s interlude in an entirely new light.

            And people said Imp looked scary when seeing fighting through eyes of her opponent… Looks like Aisha still has nothing on Lisa in this department, whose plans would probably terrify even most of her allies.

          13. And to think we all bought it when Foil called Tattletale “not a chessmaster”… Then again all characters except Rachel probably bought it too.

          14. I’d say even more – March, being a thinker, is fooling them too… She’s winning not because she wants to win, but because she wants to convince Tattletale that she was convinced that Tattletale has lost. So when Tattletale will fulfill her top secret plan (which apparently involves summoning Cthulhu by drawing mysterious symbols on Vicky’s hand), March will be ready for it. Then she will trap Cthulhu in a time bubble together with herself, for him to trigger into her cluster when she pops the bubble open…

          15. Doesn’t make sense. Why bother summoning Cthulhu, when there are cosmic horrors living in heads of all parahumans already?

          16. Because he is from outside of the system. Remember the end of Worm when they looked for unrestricted powers from a foreign agent? Can’t get more foreign than that.

          17. Still doesn’t make sense. As I explained elsewhere in this comment section, March’s own shard is a bud of a foreign agent. She doesn’t need to summon more of them.

          18. Alfaryn, as has been explained before, you are mistaken about both March’s shard being a bud from Contessa and about Contessa’s PtV being from Abaddon. PtV is the future-simulation power that Eden discarded after getting a new one from Abaddon. Eidolon is the only cape confirmed to have any connection to Abaddon, as his vial contained the ‘foreign element’.

          19. But summoning Cthulhu is Tattletale’s plan, March’s plan is to wait for it and come prepared. And then use it to her advantage – can’t have too many foreign agents, you know. Especially when you could do all the Kiss and Kill things she has to do to them…

          20. @Jack Baxter

            In his interlude Scion called Contessa’s shard “a shard that wasn’t its own, but wasn’t dead”. Considering what we now know about death of shards, Contessa’s shard could stay alive after Eden’s death if it was one of Eden’s own.

          21. > As I explained elsewhere in this comment section, March’s own shard is a bud of a foreign agent.

            I buy that Contessa’s shard is an Abaddon shard that got knocked loose when the Eden crashed. I do not buy that March’s shard is a bud from that shard. Every bud we’ve seen so far has involved some amount of physical proximity and a psychological connection. What role did Contessa play in March’s pre-trigger life? Unless May’s mother was in the process of negotiating a vial for May from Cauldron or Contessa had a habit of relaxing between boogyman missions by attending children’s concerts in New York, I don’t see how their paths would have intersected enough for a connection to form.

          22. You know what? The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that Vista is actually alive. Remember how March explained that Vista went for a big box, instead of a simple trap because she is a teenager, and even Tori wasn’t convinced? I think that Vista – an experienced cape despite her age – has been underestimated again. This entire fight, the way battlefield looked like, the “last words” Vista said to Caryatid looked and felt not like a serious cape fight, but like a script written to give March the fight and she wanted, and let her win the way she wanted.

            The heroes let March not only think she won a fight, but let her feel she won the fight of her life. Now March is drunk on her success, and the heroes are just waiting for her to make a mistake.

          23. In other words – Wildbow didn’t give us an epic finale of Vista’s story. Vista gave March an illusion of epic finale, because this is exactly what March wanted to get.

          24. And the fact that March’s “victory” meant that she managed to pop a couple of time effects? Teacher said “no”, hero thinkers said “no”, Jeanne said “no”, but I don’t remember Tattletale ever saying “no”. Remember that this is not the first time she dealt with March, she obviously knows Vista well, and she seemed to know things about time effects that neither Jeanne nor hero thinkers did.

            Operation “Coil’s Downfall 2.0” is as good as confirmed, if you ask me.

          25. Yup! And bits of Vista flying all over the battlefield are clearly just a smokescreen designed to fool March. We already know she could survive being torn to bits if she was subject to a certain power. But…but that means Cradle is secretly working with the Wardens! And Vista was already Cradled before the fight, with pieces held together by her armor, to give March an illusion of an epic vistory. A cunning plan!

          26. Honestly, the mechanics of how Vista (and probably most if not all other heroes in BB) survived are secondary at this point. There have been plenty of ways it could be done discussed in this comment section, and we could probably come up with many more. What is important is that everything that has happened has been orchestrated to make March think and feel she has won her “great victory”, which means that the heroes were in control of the engagement the entire time.

            Let me just add one more thing about Tattletale and chessmasters Foil failed to grasp. There are two ways to play and win a game of chess.

            One is a “strategic” or “positional” game, where you focus on ending up with better pieces on the board and/or having them placed in better locations – controlling key positions (like for example center of the board), supporting each other better etc. It is a long-term approach, and it is what people like Skitter and Coil were best at, but, despite what Foil’s thinking, it is not everything that is to chess.

            The other approach is the “tactical” game. It is when you tell your opponent “This exchange of pawns was really nice, it solidifies your control of the center, it gives you one more piece that defends your bishop and a rook, and your pawn may become a queen in four moves… Unfortunately you missed a small detail – this exchange also lets me sacrifice my queen in such a way that results in checkmate in three moves.”

            Real chessmasters are great in combining strategic and tactical games. They think of strategy as a way to generate tactical opportunities for them, and to deny such opportunities to their opponents. But even the best chessmasters are better in one or the other approach, and, unlike Coil or Skitter, Tattletale is the kind of chess player who is better at tactics. She pretty much confirmed in her “villainous monologue”, in which she explained to Coil just how she managed to defeat him.

          27. And I still can’t forgive myself for not pointing this error in Foil’s assessment of Tattletale-as-a-chess-player. I obviously haven’t played enough chess in recent years.

          28. From one of my previous posts:

            > The heroes let March not only think she won a fight, but let her feel she won the fight of her life. Now March is drunk on her success, and the heroes are just waiting for her to make a mistake.

            Maybe she already has? What if that bullet that grazed her was coated with a strong but slow-working poison? Unlike the heroes I don’t think March has access to a variety of superpowered healers, and regular doctors ar far away, and may be insufficient anyway…

          29. @T.T.O.

            > […] Vista was already Cradled before the fight, with pieces held together by her armor, to give March an illusion of an epic vistory.

            Since you are interested in possible mechanics of Vista’s survival, here is a couple of questions for you to consider.

            Where is the “gun” used against the Navigators? Could someone deliver it to hero tinkers, or the hero t(h)inker also known as Dragon?

            Could the immortality effect be separated from the “giblification effect”, so the second effect could be delivered later and by a different source (March in this case) than the first one?

          30. Heck, maybe the heroes didn’t even need the gun itself for analysis to replicate it’s effects? Maybe all it took was scanning the Navigators?

          31. And Dragon would be a perfect person to do it, because her power is in a way a perfect counter to thinkers, provided she has enough time. She can take any tinker-tech and make it hers. Sure, tinkers can take inspiration from each other’s work, but, expect for the simplest devices, they are still limited by their own speciality. Dragon has no such restrictions coming from her power. All of her restrictions relevant to her tinkering (no creation of sapient AI, no mass-producing her tech on her own) are a result of her programming, and may even pre-date her trigger.

          32. Yup. Or Vista might be resurrected by Valkyrie+Nilbog. Or as a Bonesaw clone. Or the one which was killed was actually a Bonesaw clone. Or a Kenzie projection. Or a Dragon projection, since Dragon had a chance to look at Kenzie’s tech. Or a new cape with a Changer/Trump power who can copy the appearance of parahumans together with their powers. Or an unpowered little girl, disguised to look like Vista and drugged/mastered to act like her. Or Dragon/Bonesaw could study Kingdom Come’s power an apply it to Vista, so March is actually under Vista’s control now. Or an effect like Gray Boy was keeping on himself, but delayed, so that Vista will reset half an hour after she was killed. Or Bonesaw/Panacea removed all vital organs from Vista’s chest and replaced them with a “gib generator”, the only purpose of which is to create a realistically-looking fountain of blood and meat. And so on… Nothing is strictly impossible in a world with powers and parahumans, at the very least you can always say “here’s a new parahuman who does just that”. But I’d say it would be impossible on a meta level, because it would feel far too cheap (and the idea of “the heroes were acting dumb and helpless at just about anything, but that’s because they were just busy being amazingly competent at saving Vista at all costs!” doesn’t do any favors to the story either).

          33. I already provided my explanation why I expect Vista to survive, and why it looked like she died a very dramatical death. It, together with the “stage” Vista made out of Brockton bay, and a generally epic feeling of that fight, was meant to make March think and feel she just achieved her greatest victory, so she makes a mistake. All of it really is the same thing Taylor and Lisa did to take Coil.

            The fact that the fans got fooled together with March is just a bonus, another way of “doing multiple things on multiple levels at once” Wildbow is so fond of.

          34. And I don’t think that giving us two shocks – “Vista is dead” and “Vista is actually alive” is necessary cheap. It would be if fake deaths of characters we like happened all the time in Parahumans, but they don’t. Wildbow may be just making this one death a “fake” just to keep us on our toes. To make us unsure if any other death we saw and will see was for real or not.

            In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if, when Vista shows back up, it was done in such a way that we won’t initially know if this is “true” Vista or some clone.

          35. Here is one more reason why I think that neither Vista nor any other hero were killed in this interlude. Notice that among all of its talk about dead shards March’s shard never confirmed that any of the heroes died. I think it would know, and I highly suspect it would comment on it somehow.

    1. March had an interlude. We had her motivations, history, and relationships established there. Generally speaking if the characters interlude doesn’t do it, nothing will.

      I mean comparing this to say Bonesaw’s interlude, that made me hope Riley could be saved/redeemed, or even Saints where I still felt he was a tool, but he was a tool I understood/wanted to see how it played out…

      1. Yeah, except even after March’s interlude I didn’t care for or about her.

        This chapter should have been such an enjoyable read because of the Shard perspective, but the March bullshit just ruined it. Even if Vista hadn’t died, I’d still have found this chapter a huge turnoff.

  15. It was an interesting chapter.
    Very detached, almost uncaring pov that pulls emotion from the reader who’s trying to fill in the blank emotions.

    Nice to see golem learning.
    Nice to see that all this is literally all side effects for Marchs team to do something focusing on (to us) very minor characters. Ixnay- primary camouflage, secondary frost blast and monemtum stop.
    I guess Jotun is a frost troll then.

    Also nice to have mechanism behind flight being common explained and new concept with antares as a new shard with multiple facets.

  16. Okay, now that I’ve had a chance to cool down a bit (litirally, I went outside and took down bird feeders), there’s something I’d like to say.

    Despite my many complaints, and the ones I will probably be making in the future, I do not feel that Wildbow is obligated to change his creative vision simply because I am not enjoying the course it has taken. This is solely his work, and the fruit of his labors, provided for free, and I as a reader am not entitled to him comprimising what he’s been working on because I am upset.

    At the same time readers are not obligated to remain and continue reading a work if they find it depressing, distressing, dissatisfying, or is causing undue despair. If this was the straw that broke the camels back for you, then by all means, stop reading. I’ll stick around for now.

    1. As will I. Regardless of my own misgivings, I have read everything he;s put up to read and I honestly believe that sequels lead to high expectations.

      Maybe its has the problems of the second of three stories, (if Parahumans turns out to be a trilogy)

      Anyway, Wildbow, I do wish you the best and yes, complaints or not, i still find you an inspiration.

  17. Markedly more representative of positive sentiments, yes, but the same complaints are echoed in those platforms as well.

  18. (My first comment here. Sorry for my English).
    WB, thanks for the chapter, it is pretty good.
    Unfortunately, March is powerful and crazy. It doesn’t look like she is OP or have plot armor. It looks like heroes somehow came unprepared so they lost Vista (so sad). Also no major heroes present except Dragon.
    If we compare Worm/Ward dynamic, we should take into consideration that Ward’s protagonist a lot weaker than Worm’s. I think WB have to work very hard to make Victoria wins such often as she wins here with her rather poor power set (esp with her non-killing paradigm)

  19. the part about the shards POV? a solid 11/10
    the part about march? meh, im really tired of her
    i’m not really satisfied with ward right now, but i will try to put nothing but cronstructive criticism and that is: she is too diabolous ex machina, and i dont see why she is so powerfull right now is in worm the undersiders could take care of her (also cronstructive criticism: the time skip in worm is terrible please please pleeeeeease rewrite it, thanks ^^)
    im a huge fan of wildbow and i really dislike the toxic comments people are making in this chapter
    hope you the best WimbleBogger

    1. (also cronstructive criticism: the time skip in worm is terrible please please pleeeeeease rewrite it, thanks ^^)

      For the sake of being informative, that’s an opinion. It isn’t constructive criticism.

      Constructive criticism would be when you explain the reasons why the time skip is terrible, and what (you think) could be done to improve it.

  20. The good part is that Wildbow managed to create a villain more detestable and crazy than Cradle. March. This means that he’s very good at creating very convincing villains in their pure, unrestrained evilness. March convinced me that she’s the devil personified and her eventual defeat will be sweeter than anything else. Keep going, don’t listen to your critics, Wildbow, great work and great characters.

    1. The problem is that she’s not convincing. She feels like someone dropped Harley Quinn or the Joker out of a comic book and gave her Contessa’s power out of nowhere.

  21. Urgh, there’s a lot of toxicity in this comment section.

    This is a fucking excellent chapter.

    Yes, it’s sad that Vista is dead. But holy fuck guys, we got a chapter from a shards perspective. And Bow pulled it off amazingly.

    1. Amen to that. I’ve never commented here, but with all the freaking out I feel like I need to add my two cents. I loved this chapter, so much.

    2. My thoughts exactly. Have a little faith, guys – regardless of who wins or loses, I’m sure the journey to the end will be fascinating. We just got a really interesting insight into how the shards work, and I can’t wait to see where Wildbow goes with that.

      1. That’s honestly a great motivation. I love a story that makes me truly hate a bad guy. I just started The Traitor Baru Coromont and I hate every person in an entire empire she’s up against, to my bones.

    3. As toxicity goes, this is utterly mild. This isn’t anything like say what happened for the Mass Effect 3 ending, or some of The Walking Dead, or two refs being blind and robbing the Saints of the Superbowl. How good this chapter is depends entirely on what your long term opinion of March has been, and not everyone has a good opinion of her.

      It’s not even Vista dying, although that would be upsetting for me, but the March handling. Some of you are liking it, but some of us aren’t.

      But geez last time we got a chapter that had a reaction like this, I think it involved Taylor getting two bullets to the back of the head, and I don’t know if even that was so divided.

      1. Or, yaknow, the Shiro Debacle.
        Where the fans screamed so loud the Producers MADE THEM put a character back.
        (Shiro was on a Journey. Other people were Supposed To fill his shoes.
        Instead, we got Shiro, standing with Nothing To Do).

  22. Jesus, this is a uh, hotly contested chapter? Gotta say, am pretty drunk rn so hope I understood it right and hope this makes sense.

    I don’t really have an issue with March being overpowered. Wb has written OP villains before- jack slash, conquest and the lord infante. Considering how his heros are always stone cold badasses that makes sense. And if Vista died, thats sad, but SOME heros have to die for there to be any consequences

    If I have any issue here, and im not sure thqt I do, its that March is nothing to Victoria and vice versa. I don’t think they’ve even fought, let alone had a conversation. Theres no raport. If Foil was the protag, I think March would be an excellent villain, but she’s not even a secondary character. Victoria disnt have any stakes in March beyond Hero vs Villain, and while there ARE characters victoria has stakes in, ie, Amy and Tattletale, I feel like they are being sidlined by characters like March, and idk, this makes me feel Victoria isnt really being tested as a character???

    That said, there is a lot to like in Ward. The Rain cluster plot ticks along nicely, and all the breakthrough characters are a lot of fun, and my god, I can’t wait til the Return of Chris. And Aiden! Hes great.

    So yeah, it may not be my fav Wildbow story, but im pretty sure im happily here til the end.

    1. I think you summed up my feelings on it. I loved seeing the different perspectives of the shards, and I liked seeing the contrast between Victoria’s and March/Foil’s. But it also showed the difference in the reader’s stake in the characters.

      I was eating up every bit of the first half, because we know Victoria so well. We know her struggle, we’ve wondered how the Wretch works, and now we get better insight into her powers. The Wretch staying in its old shape because Scion is dead makes so much sense, and brings such a delicious note of tragedy. I’m having feelings for the shard, a parasitic alien computer program, because it’s trying *so* hard to cooperate with Victoria but can’t make the changes it wants to. The chapter is a win for me because of that, and because of the insight into how the shards work post-GM.

      But the March part? I haven’t been set up as a reader to care much about it – it reads like a big payoff on a small setup. We’ve had only one chapter on the happenings in Brockton Bay Bet so far, and only the same chapter to introduce us to March. That one was a great chapter to set up a villain our main characters are probably going to battle later, but it wasn’t enough to make me care about the Brockton Bay subplot overall. I think WB was doing a great job giving us oblique references to what was going on there, and would have been comfortable seeing its side effects in the main characters’ adventures.

      I’m okay with March being an OP villain in the same way I’m okay with the Undertaker’s streak being broken by some dude I don’t even remember: yeah, it’s weird that someone comes out of nowhere and shreds through a bunch of people we’re accustomed to having win. But the writers have done weirder things before, and moreover wrestling doesn’t really interest me while I’m trying to watch this superhero action/drama. If the guy who broke the streak shows up in the superhero show with a recurring role, though, I’ll be interested.

      I think WB made some amazing points here: the shards having different personalities and voices, the second/broken triggers being explained, insight into how cluster shards interact, the mechanisms behind the visions and power blackouts, and even the little details like music being a “very Earth thing.” The writing is exciting and perfectly paced. Vista’s death hit me like a truck, even though it was telegraphed. But I think you can take all the highlights of the second half and make them with another character’s shard(s), like Rain’s shards, an Eden shard like Sveta’s or even Brandish’s shard. That would advance our understanding of characters WB’s made us care deeply about.

      That said, knowing WB, he’ll find a reason to make us be thankful we had this chapter the way it is. I’m hoping something we learned about March’s shards in her half becomes critical to the plot in the future. Because otherwise Vista died for nothing.

      1. The guy who broke the Undertaker’s streak was Brock Lesner, who had had a very successful run in the WWE before leaving to do MMA, and having a record undefeated streak there, then he returned to WWE and broke the Undertaker’s streak. So he was a huge deal even before he broke the streak. March would have had to be something like a Birdcage cellblock leader to match up that analogy.

  23. Well, this was interesting. The powers are running dry, and they’re all dimming. Kinda suggests there’s not going to be any more second-gen capes. Certainly no third-gen capes straight from Vicky; maybe if she got together with Moose, he might have enough power and space to package up a third-gen cape. Also suggests that maybe there’s less than a decade before the anti-cape hate dies down because there’s not enough capes left to hate.

    I hope Withdrawal made it, with his bonkers speed-up-how-fast-I-fall juice. Didn’t recognise Tempura immediately, which makes me feel silly.

      1. Another thing I noticed is that Tattletale decided Atlas should remain in the ruins, and not be moved to New Brockton. I guess a monument to the villain that saved the city, the hero that killed Alexandria, and the monster that killed Scion would raise eyebrows amongst the heroes that knew enough to know what it represented without knowing Taylor.

        A pity; Atlas deserves better than to be an abandoned piece of statuary on a crumbled pedestal in an abandoned city.

    1. > Kinda suggests there’s not going to be any more second-gen capes. Certainly no third-gen capes straight from Vicky

      Well, there was already a 2-gen cape – Colt. And no 3-gen capes from Vicky *yet*, because her shard doesn’t have much to share, but that might change with experience.

  24. I think everyone is way too focused on March to realize what Wildbow just announced.

    1)Victoria and Dean had fucked.
    2)Victoria and Dean made love.
    3)The shard felt the need to differentiate fucking and love making.
    4)Sub-conclusion: Victoria and Dean had kinky sex. (1+2+3, dependent)
    5)Victoria knows the taste of urine as shown in Nursery’s battle.
    6)Water sports are kinky sex.
    Therefore, either Victoria, Dean or both of them have a water sports fetish. (4+5+6, dependent)

    Since the truthfulness of the premises would lead to a true conclusion, this argument is valid.
    Since the premises are true, then the argument is sound.

    My argument that Victoria has had sex with urine involved is not only valid, but sound.

    It’s canon. Nobody can’t fight my logic on this.

    1. While 4+5+6 give Bayesian evidence for your conclusion, it is not a logical consequence of them, thus I reject the claim of your argument’s validity.

      The evidence sure waggles its eyebrows, but Vicky could have tasted urine in a nonsexual setting and had an unrelated kink. My guess is balloons.

      1. It is a logical consequence if there are no other possible avenues to explore within reason.

        Victoria has a force field on her that would has prevented bugs to even land on her. It would have definitely prevented urine to get into her mouth as well. Tattletale would also have mention the time that she was pissed on by a random mook constantly in their banter.

        Vicky could have only reasonably had urine tasted while having sex. I explore this more in depth with Spectator below.

        Also, even if Victoria has a balloon fetish, that does not necessarily mean that Dean doesn’t have a urine fetish or Victoria only has one fetish.

        The chances are statistically high enough to be significant.

    2. Regarding #5: to be fair, so did the ancient Greeks. Including variations, such as the urine of diabetics.

      1. Yes, but the ancient Greeks willingly ingested urine. Modern day, not so much. There are four main ways for a person to ingest such a substance.

        Accidental ingestion. Unlikely, due to force fields.
        Emergency Survival. Unlikely, due to no such recall of emergency to the need to consume urine.
        Folk Therapy. Unlikely, due to her sister having more practical powers in order to combat such need for Folk Therapy.
        Sexual Practice. Almost certain, given the fact that Victoria has tasted urine and all other avenues are equally unlikely to occur.

        1. Have we ever seen Victoria go to a public pool? No? Clearly her urine tasting experience involved opening her mouth right as she ran into the warm spot someone left behind. After that Victoria swore to never go to a public pool again, thus explaining both how she knows the taste of urine, and why we never see her at a public pool.

          1. If Victoria accidentally swallowed urine in such a scenario, then her perception of urine would be a mixture of urine and chlorine. Nursery can only create an infantata that just fills a space. She cannot create chlorine. Therefore, this scenario is not a possible solution into how Victoria has consumed urine. My current argument still stands.

    3. Thank you for slightly diffusing the stress I’m feeling after reading this, reading the r/parahumans thread, and now the comments.

    4. Maybe she knew that it was urine because of the smell. Everyone can tell if is urine or not by just smelling it. Or she tasted her own urine when she was trapped in that monstrous boy- who knows what Amy did with her bladder (where she positioned it). Or maybe she drank it by mistake when she didn’t have her forcefield up. Don’t jump at conclusion without nothing confirmed in canon. Don’t make Victoria so perverted without a single proof. Don’t make your personal opinion canon when its not.
      Wildbow probably have a good laugh seeing some really fucked up theories going around.

      1. First point: It is written that it tasted like urine, not that it smelt like urine. So Victoria obviously has to know what it tasted like by consuming it before hand.

        Second point: Victoria was just given extra limbs and heads that was reminiscent of Eden. If something that screwy was going on with her Renal System, then it would follow that none of her other ten systems were functioning properly. If none of her other systems were functioning properly, then she would be dead. Therefore, since Victoria is not dead, her bladder did not exit out of her head.

        Third point: Glory Girl would have had her shield up when she even thinks she’s going into danger back when it wasn’t the wretch. She is not seen digesting urine during the course of Ward nor would I believe she would have encountered such a situation accidentally throughout post-GM through Daybreak. I, personally, have gone 22 years without accidentally swallowing urine. If you want, I can go to my school and get a bunch of statistics to prove my point, but I can’t see a significant percentage of people who have accidentally consumed urine in their lifetime.

        As for the rest of your point, just because it’s not explicitly stated does not mean it’s not true.

        But the most hurtful thing I read is that you are kinkshaming Victoria. Golden Showers aren’t hurting anybody, so don’t call Victoria a pervert for have some consensual fun. 🙂

        1. I still don’t share you opinion as long as we don’t have any single proof that Victoria was capable of doing such perversion (yes, in my opinion, I think that Golden Showers are some sick perversions because of their disgusting and UNHEALTHY nature. Its not fun to drink a stranger’s piss, is disgusting. But is my opinion, if this is your fantasy then go with it. Do whatever you want, I don’t care).
          Maybe she drank some piss as a bet- she probably was drunk out of her mind/or too daring and she tasted piss as a bet and she won. Unless Wildbow will confirm Victoria and Dean’s perversity, then this is only your personal opinion (or not so secret fantasy), nothing confirmed by Victoria herself, by her shard or by the past events. All we know is that she had sex with Dean, nothing wrong, not that she was drinking his unhealthy piss. Ewww.
          Imp being controlled by Regent as part of her kink was confirmed and easy to see anyway. This shit, is only part of some people’s fantasy and nothing more.
          When it will be confirmed in canon then I’ll be first admitting you’re right, have my word.

          1. In Response to david’s Argument from the 3rd of March, 2019 at 7:42 am PST.

            david’s argument
            1)There is no proof that Victoria is capable of kinky sex.
            2)Golden Showers are a depraved kink.
            3)I am biased because I engage in Golden Showers.
            4)Victoria could have consumed urine on a dare.
            5)Wildbow has not stated that Victoria and Dean engaged in water sports.
            6)Wildbow has confirmed kinks in the past, as with Imp and Regent.
            7)Victoria and Dean are only confirmed to have sex.
            Therefore, it is only my personal opinion that Victoria engaged in water sports and not fact. (1+2 & 5+6 dependent, 3,4&7 independent)

            If the premises were true, then that would lead to a true conclusion, so the argument is valid.

            Unfortunately, only one of the premises are true, leading to a false conclusion.

            Premise 1: Victoria is capable of kinky sex because of the shard differentiating “fuck her” and “make love to her.” Therefore, Victoria and Dean acted in a way that would create a difference in these two statements. Therefore, kinks were involved.
            1) The shard differentiates “fuck her” and “make love to her”
            2) Fucking and making love are two different concepts (Assumed premise)
            3) Victoria and Dean acted in a way to differentiate these two statements (1+2, dependent)
            4) Kinks change love making into fucking. (Assumed premise)
            Conclusion: Victoria is capable of kinky sex. (3+4, dependent)
            Valid and Sound

            Premise 2: In the 2010-2011 year, one Jennifer Eve Rehor of San Fransico State University received 1,580 valid responses of people engaged in kinky sex. 36.52% of them stated that they do engage in some form of urolagnia. Given that urolagnia porn exists in the mainstream, it shows that there is a decent supply to meet such a demand. Furthermore, Chuck Berry, Havelock Ellis, Ashley MacIsaac, Ricky Martin, Patrice O’Neal and Annie Sprinkle have all engaged in this activity and none of them are considered depraved individuals. Therefore, water sports are not as depraved as you make them out to be.
            1) 36.52% of people engaged in kinky sex in a study had engaged in urolagnia.
            2) Mainstream urolagnia porn exists.
            3) If there is mainstream porn of a kink, then there are people who need it. (Assumed premise)
            4) There is a demand for urolagnia porn. (3+4, dependent)
            5) Several notable individuals have engaged in water sports.
            6) Those notable individuals are not considered depraved.
            Conclusion: Water sports are not a depraved kink. (1 & 4, independent, 5+6, dependent)
            This argument is strong and cogent.

            Premise 3: I do not engage in nor receive any sort of pleasure from water sports.
            1) I do not receive pleasure from water sports.
            2) If I receive pleasure from water sports, I am biased. (Assumed premise)
            Conclusion: I am not biased. (Assumed conclusion, 1+2 dependent)

            Premise 4: I’ve looked over Worm and Ward both and could not find an instance where she is stated to be a heavy drinker. There is just no basis for this claim. I don’t even think she drinks beer. Tristan? You’d have a point. But not Victoria.
            1) There is no mention of her heavy drinking.
            2) If she heavily drinks, she could be drunk enough to make a bet on drinking urine.
            3) This is not a practical solution for the answer. (1+2 dependent)
            This argument is valid and sound.

            Premise 5: Wildbow has made no mention that Victoria and Dean has engage in water sports. Wildbow has also made no mention that Victoria and Dean don’t engage in water sports either. Therefore, we have a platform in which we can debate whether or not it is true.
            1) There is no mention that Victoria and Dean engage in water sports.
            2) There is no mention that Victoria and Dean don’t engage in water sports.
            3) If Wildbow has not stated either way about the topic, then we, as an audience, have a right to debate such a point. (Assumed premise)
            Conclusion: We can debate the prospect of their sex lives. (1+2+3, dependent)

            Premise 6: This is a true premise.

            Premise 7: Victoria and Dean are not only confirmed to have had sex, but they fucked as well. My argument is the same as premise 1, so I advise you read my argument there.

            In conclusion, these false premises have led to a false conclusion and therefore the entire argument is valid, but unsound.

            I look forward to your rebuke, but as it stand right now, my argument is still solid. Unlike Vista, who is currently liquidated.

            Yours Truly,
            Dr. The Chair-zard of Menlo Park. PHD

          2. Wowww… If it’s that serious already, I might just as well be a Captain Obvious and point out that 1) the fact that fucking and making love are mentioned does not necessarily mean that the speaker differentiates between the two (one might continue the list with boning, pleasuring, satisfying, and so on); 2) even if the difference is implied, shards might see it totally unlike humans; and 3) even for humans, the nature of difference (if there is one) is debatable. The line between fucking and making love could be drawn as between kinky and vanilla sex, or as between any kind of sex and tenderness/attentiveness/any other expression of love, or as between sex without or with strong feelings of love, or whatever.

          3. In Response to T.T.O.

            Yes. This is a serious issue that makes serious things seriously considered seriously. This is a serious point in very serious matters. I majored in Sexual Kinks with Fictional Characters at Dartmouth University, minoring is Complex Arguments Without Reason. Now, onto your argument.

            1) Fucking and making love does not necessarily mean that the speaker is differentiating the two as different activities.
            2) Shards might see acts of sex inhumanly.
            3) The line between fucking and making love could be drawn as between kinky and vanilla sex or between sex and some other expression of love or between sex with and without love.
            Conclusion: My logic has fault. (1+2+3, independent)

            This argument is strong and cogent. But that’s not going to stop me.

            The main crutch of your argument is what Shards meant between fucking and love making. In order to figure out which of us is correct, we need to identify how the shard would categorize both fucking and love making and how do these two definitions overlap.

            Let’s start with the basic questions.

            Q1) Where does Victoria’s shard in particular get their information about human interactions?
            Q2) How does a shard’s syllogisms work?
            Q3) When presented with new information, how does it change its current syllogisms to incorporate this new information?
            Q4) Finally, and most importantly, how is sexual information categorized?

            It is very possible that golden showers are classified as “foreplay”, different from both categories. But we are currently unsure whether this is true or not.

            Let’s go with what we do know:
            1) Victoria’s shard felt the need to say “Fuck her. Make love to her.”
            2) The shard used to connect to Scion in order to re-calibrate information. It seems to now go to Thinkers.
            3) Victoria’s shard pinged off of Manpower, Brandish and Gallant. It might have shared information from Manpower’s, Brandish’s and Gallant’s shards.
            4) Gallant is a cauldron cape. Manpower and Brandish are natural triggers. This may have impacts on how the parent shards gathered intelligence.
            5) Information is scanned during sleep.

            From these points, I think I can firmly answer some questions.
            A1) Victoria’s shard learned originally from a collective database of all the shards.
            A2) Due to A1, shards most likely categorize these fields as the same as the general population when it comes to language.
            A3) See A2.
            A4) See A2.

            Therefore, in order to put to rest the answer, we need to figure out the general consensus on how information is processed.

            Given that this is in the English language and the shard would categorize English information, then we shall have to interpret what the general consensus of the native English speakers. These include Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

            Thus, in order to truly need to answer the question, we need to figure out how each different country would categorize “Fuck her”, “Make love to her.” and “Sex with urine.”

            Now, I am under the assumption that most people will categorize both all three as forms of sex.

            For my argument on this matter:
            1) Making love is one kind of sex.
            2) Fucking is one kind of sex.
            3) An argument can be made that Golden Showers are either making love or fucking.
            4) There is no third option that would encompass Golden Showers entirely and take them out of fucking or love making.
            Conclusion: Golden Showers are still a possible fetish for Victoria and Dean to have engage in.

          4. Chair-zard, your comment was exactly what the thread needed.

            We also need to address the high probability that the urine Victoria has tasted is her own:

            1. Dean had an Eden shard (silver).

            2. Victoria has a Scion shard (gold).

            3. As the shower is golden, not silver, it must be coming from Victoria, not Dean.

            Therefore, it is true that Victoria has engaged in *auto-urophagia* (QED).

          5. David,
            Fresh urine is sterile. Yes, it does contain waste (primarily salts).
            This makes it about as bad for you as oral rehydration salts.
            (As in, long term drinking of mostly this could give you kidney stones).

            Tell me you’ve never, ever taken a hangover cure. Or that you consider them to be unhealthy.

            [Not My Kink. Science is Fun!]

        2. >But the most hurtful thing I read is that you are kinkshaming Victoria. Golden Showers aren’t hurting anybody, so don’t call Victoria a pervert for have some consensual fun. 🙂

          I’m suddenly reminded of those memes of BDSM slavegirls subtitled “Empowered feminist woman”.

    5. All jokes aside, this chapter did reveal Dean was a Cauldron cape. It mentioned his shard was “dead” before all the shards died; basically means it was from Eden.

      1. This is no joke. It’s serious fucking business. Literally.

        Also, Wildbow has already confirmed this on spacebattles. It’s nothing new.

        What is new is Dean’s and Victoria’s Golden Shower party.

        Let’s divert all attention onto this.

  25. Holy moly this was sick. Also, I really appreciate that March doesn’t have to draw fuses to make her power work but does so for the drama.

  26. RIP Little V. You deserved better but your final battle was legendary.
    Also RIP Tempera it seems. Unless I misread it seems like March killed her.
    Golem is… probably ok right? Please. Withdrawal too I hope.

    This chapter was just wow though. It took a moment for me to realise from who’s perspective, or I guess I should say what’s perspective, it was but what a perspective. Wildbow, your ability to make each characters point of view unique, including nonhuman povs, continues to amaze me.

    I now may be anticipating the demise of March even more than Cradle now. Seriously, she was cool but she needs to go down. Her delusional shard heaven dream cannot be allowed to come to fruition. With all the Wardens now likely gunning for her after all this let’s hope they get her soon.

    Also Dauntless is back… and he second triggered… and he’s taller than buildings… and he I think fused with Alabaster? Who also second triggered?

    What a chapter. From a quick look at the comments not everyone was happy with it but I was blown away.

  27. Wildbow, if I said anything too spiteful or venomous, I’d like to apologize. I’m old enough that by now I should know to let my head cool before posting in response to something that upsets me.

    1. … Ignore my earlier comment. I apparently didn’t give myself enough time to see the whole picture.

      Me being a hypocrite, nothing new to see.

  28. Unlike popular opinion, I’m not disturbed at all by the current events because I know that this story will have its bittersweet ending, with heroes still WINNING despite losing so many people, just like Worm had. Too much negativity here, just give Wildbow a chance to prove (again) that he’s a great writer who still know how to surprise people with his smart twists, exactly when his readers feel like they can’t handle too much darkness anymore. Do you think March is invincible? Bullshit. NOBODY IS INVINCIBLE in Parahumans universe, not even Endbringers or Entities. She confronted and survived to some of the strongest capes, but she’ll probably lose to someone unexpectedly weaker than her who’ll took her by surprise or know her weakness and use against her. Maybe one of her clustermate will stab her in the back…but nobody is really invincible or have ridiculous plot armor, like people keep saying here. People called Goddess invincible too, after all.
    Give Wildbow a break, people, stop throwing shit at him. He knows better than you what to do with his story.

  29. A fascinating character study into the passengers and their post-Zion condition!

    Looks like the result of Dauntless getting released was as strong and devastating as anticipated 😀 That gun’s been gathering dust on the mantlepiece for years, in-story and out.

    The WGW podcast guys are gonna be glad at the extra weird chapter designation.

    I hope Vista’s chestpiece is still very padded. She’s fine, right? *grasps all the straws*

    As for March’s power level, other villains have survived having a lot more heat on them for a lot more years in a better, organised better resourced world.

    1. How padded does it have to be for her to survive a rapier buried in her heart TO THE HILT, if the chestpiece is then exploding in a way that makes the narration explicitly state March had to duck the resulting chunks?

      It’s like the most extra “no, she ded” approach twice over.

      1. How padded does it have to be for her to survive a rapier buried in her heart TO THE HILT, if the chestpiece is then exploding in a way that makes the narration explicitly state March had to duck the resulting chunks?

        You, ah, *do* realize you are talking about a brilliant, talented, powerful and totally badass young lady for whom an inch is literally as good as a mile, right? 😁😁😁

        1. It was clearly a Vistabot provided by Dragon. They are luring March into a false sense of of security. I am not in a river in Egypt.

        2. That’s actually the best observation I read here. Why on earth should Vista not distort space to make the rapier blade half an inch long?
          That’s her power after all. Why just stand there and get stabbed?

          1. It’s been charged with March’s copy of Sting, so… That probably won’t work. Sting ‘cuts through defences’, after all.

            And if it wasn’t charged with Sting, Vista’s chest wouldn’t have gone pop.

          2. @Earl, Sting cuts through defenses, but if it doesn’t reach what it’s trying to cut, then Sting or not, that thing won’t get cut. Besides, March has Sting-lite, and even though Sting is powerful enough that even Sting-lite is a strong power by itself, March’s Sting-lite couldn’t cut through Hookline’s chain or Narwhal’s force fields, which Sting could do no problem.

          3. Vista’s power works poorly when people are nearby. So it could probably work if she had previously compressed a mile worth of space into an inch, and then dismissed this effect when the compressed space was between her chest and March’s blade, but not other way around.

          4. And Vista can’t stretch or compress Hookline’s chain, either. Or I doubt she could, at least. She could steer Narwhal’s forcefield because she could adjust the meaning of ‘straight line’, but Vicky still worried about flying into the edge of it, so it seems she couldn’t widen the edges to the point they became blunt. And March’s sword isn’t Hookline’s chain, but it is still charged with a power.

  30. Victoria talked to the smallest… Ashley?

    If Ashley/Swansong’s Power doesn’t harm herself… and one of the body parts forming the shell is her own…

    Can Ashley blast through her own foot to the centre of the egg?

  31. Shard POV aside, it’s very interesting the different priority scales we’ve been shown in regards to the major factions.

    For the most part the general group of villians is thinking small scale. They want their territory, their niche where they can call the shots and feel powerful. They want the prestige that comes from being the baddest guy on the block and they want it now, even if it means that they are setting themselves up to fail later on when the infrastructure breaks down around them. At least they got their little slice of pie in the mean time, right?

    The hero groups are thinking on a bigger scale than the villians. They’re the ones that want to support the growth of the settlements and keep the jenga cluster-f*ck of managing multiple universes from crashing down on everyone’s heads. They have to look at the big and the small pictures and a bug part of their concers lie in protecting the interests of the average person. They have to think long term so that everything doesn’t start falling apart again in a few years to a decade or two. They’re trying to set down a solid foundation so as many people as possible can prosper while having to fend off the villians that want their boons now or else.

    And then there’s March. March is thinking on a scale that is simultaneously so large that she’s looking at possible results aeons into the future and so small that her priorities consist of providing only for those in her immediate group, the potential consequences for others are barely a blip on her radar. To her it doesn’t matter that she’s killing good heros that are needed to kerp war from breaking out across dimensions, or that she’s creating S-Class disaster that will have potentially horrific repercussions for countless innocents because eventually it’s not going to matter. Humanity and civilization won’t last forever, but the shard hosted brain copies of her friends might just and if she can set them up all cosy and in control of their cluster dynamic for that future that extends past their physical bodies and the rest of civilization she’ll give it her best shot. But in the meantime, as comrades and friends are dying and potentially unspeakable horrors are being unleashed in ways that might endanger the surviving civilizations just to power up a friend her goals seem so unbelievably small scale and pointless that it’s unconscionable.

  32. I remember after the Echidna and Behemoth fights in Worm, I kept thinking for chapters on end: ‘okay, but what about Vista and Clockblocker? Are they all right?’ I cared about the Brockton Bay Wards and felt relieved when they turned out to have survived. I felt genuinely sad when they died.

    I think the reason I cared about Vista, in particular, was because she had a unique place and role in Taylor’s story. She was one of the people with the most reason to dislike Taylor early on, and did, but at the same time she was also a victim of Shadow Stalker’s bullying. I could imagine in other circumstances, if Taylor had joined the Wards or if they had ever had a chance to talk at length, the relationship between them could have been quite different.

    Vista also had a very sympathetic interlude, and a life and relationships which felt well-defined and emotional: she had a hopeless crush on Gallant, she liked newcomer Weld where Clockblocker didn’t, she viewed her team as a family. As a child hero who participated in deadly battles and was often physically assaulted by the protagonists, she served as an exemplar of one of the ugly sides of cape society. Vista in Worm had a unique role and felt like a unique person. She had difficulties, opinions, loves and hates.

    Unfortunately, in Ward, I felt nothing at all about Vista’s death. Partly because I suspect she will be resurrected before all is said and done. Partly because it feels incongruous when the story previously avoided killing off characters as incidental as Natalie.

    But the main reason I didn’t care about Vista in Ward is that I never felt she had a unique role or personality. In Victoria’s story, Vista was simply one of a number of helpful female heroes who showed up sometimes to be helpful and sympathetic, and that’s all we ever saw of her. There was nothing to functionally differentiate her from Sveta, or Crystal, or Fume Hood, or Tempura, or Narwhal, or Caryatid, or Dragon.

    Theoretically, Vista had a special connection to Victoria due to their shared affection for Dean, but I just never felt that this came to anything or mattered in any way. There were no stakes to it: Vista’s opinion of Victoria wasn’t going to change, their relationship wasn’t going to change, and even if it had it wouldn’t have made any real difference to anything, ever. Vista herself just seemed flat and disinterested. Nothing was going on with her, except that time everyone decided she had a crush on Capricorn because she talked to him for five minutes, whereupon her response could be summed up as ‘okay, whatever’.

    If Vista had ever actually played a particular role, say, if she had been involved in some controversy or expressed some important opinion, I think I would have cared a lot more about her. If, for example, her friendship with Rachel had made Victoria angry at her. Or if she had been involved in a faction with a particular stance on rehabilitating former villains which brought her into conflict with someone we knew. Just some interest or drama that would have made her stand out as a character and showed what difference her life or death stood to make. As it is, she was just that person who went, ‘hey, pal, I love you, come to the pub sometime,’ and that was all.

    I don’t say all this because I want to be contrary or a spoilsport, but because I think it’s a serious flaw in Ward. Many of the characters have redundant roles and do nothing to distinguish themselves. Reading Worm, I would never have said that Sundancer and Tattletale could play the same role. In Ward, I think you could substitute Vista for Sveta in every chapter and have all of the exact same interactions and events, and the same with Crystal, or Caryatid, or whoever else. The result, for me at least, is that it becomes hard to care about characters who feel like one more vague face out of a crowd.

    In the end I think Vista’s death can only improve the story, certainly I’ll care more if I think the characters are in actual danger, but I wish it had still been the Vista who felt like a real person in a society instead of one of a number of generic archetypes.

    1. Wonder if Vista’s death would have had more impact if it’d happened after she’d gotten that Brockton Bay surviviors meeting?

      1. Maybe, but I doubt it. What were the stakes of the meeting? How did anyone who was coming stand to learn or change? The only potential subject of interest was that Rachel was going to attend, but we already knew that Victoria was capable of getting along with her and, in addition, Vista specifically said that Rachel wasn’t in the habit of answering questions.

        At least with Vista dead, they’ll have something to talk about.

  33. Let me try to gather a bit of what we learned about shards in this chapter, and speculate on what all of it means:

    1. All Victoria’s powers were “discarded” from other shards. Her own shard seemed to have no abilities on its own other than the ability to get other shards’ “waste” (or being other shards’ waste). I wonder if it is something unique to this shard, or if it is something typical to shards of second-generation shards. If it is unique, then maybe Victoria’s shard some kind of a receiver or observer shard? If it is a “receiver” than it would explain its focus on the fact that Victoria is getting better at gathering information, and at the same time it could be a potentially disturbing counterpart to Jack’s shard…

    Or maybe Victoria’s shard is not a “receiver”, but was a “newborn”, a “tabula rasa” when Victoria triggerd? Could all its “memories” from previous cycles were in fact a result of communication with other shards? Maybe discarding “waste” is another (besides budding) way for shards to reproduce, and Victoria is the first host of this shard?

    2. Does anyone know what “folding”, mentioned by Victoria’s shard, is? Did we ever see this term describing something that shards do? My first thought was that it refers to second trigger, but later in the chapter Narwhal is called “A woman who had broken down the doors, recalibrated.” – there is no word about “folding” there.

    3. Apparently “living” shards could request resources, like processing power, from other shards to expand capabilities of existing powers. Is this how gradual upgrades to powers of capes involved in multiple or prolonged conflicts normally happened? Was it also the mechanism that gave temporary power-ups to capes that were in situations reassembling their triggers? Does it mean that Cauldron-granted powers never could get such quick upgrades, and now no powers can do it?

    4. It seems that shards may have actual feelings. Feelings not so different from those of their parahumans’, and seemingly more human-like than the ones Scion had for most, if not all of Worm.

    It appears that Victoria’s shard is aware of its own imperfection, and feels somehow inadequate because of it, a feeling seemingly reinforced by an awareness of being “dead and broken” after Scion’s death. At the same time the shard seems to greatly appreciate what Victoria managed to do with whatever powers, information, and other resources she was given, and is honestly trying to help her any way it can (and willingness to help others also seems like a very Victoria-like feeling to have). It seems to regret the fact that it can’t operate the forcefield the way Victoria would want it to work (though maybe it will learn to do it one day – if all it needs is to learn to use the limited resources it has to do it, then Victoria is supposedly a great person to learn it from), and (perhaps more selfishly) that it can’t ask other shards to leave Victoria alive, or to store as much of her personality as it could it could if it was still connected to Scion and it’s shards. It thinks that it could help best if Victoria become a killer or a tyrant (because her powers are well suited for it), but seems to be happy to leave the final choice to Victoria, as it respects her too much to do otherwise.

    To put it shortly – Victoria’s shard seems to have a low self-esteem, and at the same time behaves almost as if it looks up to Victoria, just like Victoria looks up to her mother when it comes to cape stuff.

    Is it only shard’s ability to copy their host’s thinking patterns, or is there something more to it?

    At the same time March’s shard doesn’t seem to be fond of March to that extent. Is this a difference in personalities between Victoria and March (or their shards), the fact that March’s shard has Foil too, or is just March not such a good host as Victoria?

    5. It seems that the shards could sometimes coordinate and influence their parahumans to preserve lives of particularly promising hosts:

    I would do as some did before we were all broken, and reach out to others nearby, and urge them to test and not destroy. Some would ignore me, but some would listen. They would do what was in their power to steer their hosts.

    Could they also do the opposite? Conspire to cause deaths of particularly disappointing hosts? It is actually something I argued in my recent discussion with Earl of Purple regarding circumstances of Heartbreaker’s death in comments section of chapter 12.3.

    6. A little bonus thought – not really about how shards work, but about what may happen later in the story:

    If she finds a label for herself that I can also wear, then we may lay waste to all who stand before us.

    A foreshadowing of a future upgrade? Will Victoria come up with that new “label” herself, or will it be suggested by someone else (like Valkyrie and/or Yamada for example)?

    Do you think the above interpretations, guesses and theories are correct? If not – where am I wrong, and why?

  34. Wow, please, please, please let little V survive somehow. She’s one of the reasons why Worm didn’t end up as depressing. Felt like watching Final Destination I and II all over again.

    Also, March should get the Bonesaw treatment.

    Finally, WB, you’re doing great. Keep it up.

    1. You know after seeing what happened there, I think that the people in time bubbles might be happier in time bubbles.

  35. Regarding everyone’s feelings about Vista’s death – think how many people from Brockton Bay will take it personally. I have little doubt that Rachel’s dogs will chew March long enough to let her fully understand just how personal this death was for all of those people.

    1. And with things like Cradle’s whip around, I wonder if Brocktonian capes will skip killing March, and just go straight to making her suffer a fate worse than death. Will Foil get to “wear March like clothes” instead of the other way around?

      1. Jokes about Foil wearing March aside, if someone killed March relatively quickly and painlessly at this point, they would probably be doing her a favor, because if Vista’s death won’t cause people like Rachel an Victoria (and I guess plenty of other people) to not do some terrible things just to to satisfy personal vendetta, I don’t know what will.

        Once again – I expect that the matter of Vista’s death will be considered personal by many characters, and those characters may, and many of them probably will, behave very differently from the way they usually do because of it – possibly in ways that clash with what we, and even they, currently consider not allowed by their code of conduct or morality. I expect that some of those people may even drastically re-evaluate their entire world-view when they learn about Vista’s death, and possibly again if and when their revenge against March is complete.

        1. And I expect that the usual boundaries between heroes and villains, between powered and unpowered, and so on, will simply not be relevant at all when it comes to the matter of Vista’s death. The important distinction will be between the people who want March to face justice for what she did, and those who will no longer be steered by any sense of justice anymore, and seek vengeance for Vista’s death instead.

          No matter how the matter of March’s punishment turns out, no matter if Vista survives somehow or not (as long as it won’t immediately became apparent to everyone that she’s alive), I expect this division to completely change who many of the people who knew Vista are, how they see themselves, and what their relationship with each other, and the world at large will be.

          1. Change “punishment” above to “punishment or destruction”. One of key differences between justice and vengeance is, after all, that the latter really isn’t about punishment of the guilty by the society, but about satisfaction of a personal desire of the one carrying out the revenge, no matter what the rules of the society say.

          2. Well here’s a key thing. March isn’t going to like it when she dies. Right now she’s got a outdated, and considering the “Limited access library” part, quite probably flawed view of of what Shard Afterlife would be like. Now? It’s made clear you basically will be sitting alone in the dark waiting for the shard to run out of powers so you can have the sweet, sweet release of oblivion.

            Heck March learning that, then being left alive (Though powerless), living in constant fear that someone will kill her and send her to that fate might be the cruelest thing that could happen to her.

            Basically everything March has done is for nothing. Vista was killed by the personification of all for nothing, and kinda a nihilistic viewpoint.

          3. Of course March won’t like it when she dies, but what I wanted to explore in this little chain of posts above is not what the consequences of Vista’s death will be to March, but how this death and it’s aftermath will change the people who actually cared about Vista – like most capes, and probably many non-capes who lived in Brockton Bay, and maybe even some who technically only visited BB, like Dragon did, or knew Vista only after Gold Morning.

  36. Okay. There’s a lot to go through, here. Lessee…

    1. Vicky’s shard picked up a sense of identity, but not an identity to go with it. Poor thing. We also learn it’s not malicious, it just has something wrong with it because… it picked up something bad from Dean’s shard? I think? This might also be confirmation of Dean as a Cauldron cape. And it looks like Vicky’s shard was using her moment-by-moment frame of mind to reference him. Almost like it’s thinking more by memory than by inherent capability. Which, I gather that was the point, so kudos on the presentation. Then there’s the bit where it might’ve convinced at least some of Team Breakthrough’s shards to dial it down a bit, which might explain how Swansong hasn’t accidentallied a kitchen sink in recent memory.

    2. Right off the bat with March, her shard cluster don’t have an identity (or identity complex) at all, and also has gone full-on possessive yandere for their host. And is cheating like a motherfucker. What I get from this is that thinkers and masters are OP because their shards are more involved with their thought process, or have a bigger hand in how the power is implemented moment-by-moment.

    Also, I think this chapter gives a pretty big hint about how Vicky’s power works the way it does, and why she’s having such trouble. Please tell me I’m not the only person who sees the foreshadowing for the trees, here?

    Anywho: Vicky’s power is set up like a multitrigger, except it’s accidental. She has three powers, or her shard has two other parts that were cast off like refuse, and she operates like a cluster cape with no power synergy. It’s trying to make all the different pieces work together and find some way to define itself, in a mirror of Vicky trying to merge all her own facets into a complete identity. But it’s working with a broken interface in a car with no steering and no stick to shift gears with, so all it can do is wait and hope Vicky figures out how to make all the gears click together.

    March, meanwhile, is in the complete opposite situation: she’s from one of the planned cluster capes, with literally the ideal power set: accuracy, “timing”, and motherfucking sting. Where timing apparently means precognition. There is no combination of those three pieces that doesn’t work well together. On top of that, she just happens to develop an interest in puzzling out powers early on, then has just enough of a near-death experience that her shard gets to all but puppet her… as hinted at way the heck back with Swansong when the team were still doing training runs against each other, and Vicky said something about capes who come back from death having their passengers be closer to the surface. Or something like that. The implication was that interacting with Damsel (at the time) was more like interacting with her shard, and Vicky wanted to know if it was possible for powers and people to get along?

    I got off track. I’m thinking March probably did die back then, or close enough to count, but not close enough that a quick jolt and some oxygen couldn’t restart her heart in time to prevent brain damage. And now her shard is nudging her along to play out the big picture while she focuses on the little picture, and the pair (quad? tri-pair?) are at their strongest where those two different images overlap. The point where small-picture fringes on big-picture, March keeping track of her own priorities while her shard sets the stage for her to dance on.

    That, right there? That’s the part we needed to see. A very clear explanation of how, what is by all appearances, the main villain works on a mechanical level, then contrasts that against where the hero is right now. Because March’s story is already told: we’ve seen her rise, and we’re seeing her apogee. This chapter just took a moment to give us a side-by-side with Vicky and shard against March and shard, pointing out the hows of where they are, what they’re doing, and why it is or isn’t working.

    Anyone who was paying attention enough to notice Vista’s death ahead of time: you can probably guess what this means, too.

    P.S.: Oh, and guys? When one person makes ten or so posts harping on the same point, let’s act like sane human beings and not jump into the pissing pool. Doing the same thing over and over again does not a different outcome make, and speaking as someone who is working on an original fiction, it stops being constructive criticism after the first “me too”. Look for good things. Deconstruct why the good things were good first, then go back and deconstruct why the bad things were bad. Yes, there are classes on how to be a good critic, and the most important step is to ask why the author chose to say this thing or that thing, or why they chose to present a scene in the way they did. Because nine-tenths of writing a story is setting up for what comes next, sometimes ten or twenty chapters in the future.

    1. Re. 1. Gallant was almost certainly a Cauldron cape. Victoria’s shard called Gallant’s “dead and broken” when Victoria triggerd. It called itself “dead and broken”, after losing its “Warrior-hub” (read – after Scion’s death). The only shards without a “hub” before Scion’s death, would be Cauldron’s, and considering Gallant’s age, he couldn’t trigger before Eden’s death, so his powers had to come from a vial.

      As for my observations and theories about why Victoria’s and (to much lesser extent) March’s shards are the way they are – see my list a few posts above, especially points 1. and 4.

      1. There was WoG on Dean ages ago. Because his powerset- a blaster/master who projects emotion balls, and can read emotions is a pretty hard thing to trigger naturally. Consider the ball-capes we know- they all have explosive balls, like Flashbang, or Fume Hood. And then the emotion capes- none have anything as blatant as generated orbs, it’s usually invisible and subtle; if the emotions are noticed, the source isn’t usually readily apparent.

        1. Even without WoG, or the current interlude I wouldn’t say that it is only Gallant’s power set that seems to indicate that his powers weren’t a result of a natural trigger. There is also his personality to consider. From what little I remember abut him from Worm and Victoria’s memories in Ward, he never struck me as someone deeply traumatized, or having some sort of a serious emotional problem or mental problem. He had no obvious signs of previous serious physical trauma and we saw no indication of any social problems he might have had (like being isolated somehow).

          The signs of lingering past traumas that could be associated with triggers can of course be easily missed, but I would say that we did see just enough of him that it should rise a question – was there anything in his behavior that could indicate that he had ever been in a situation in which he could trigger? I think in his case the answer would be “No, he might have never been in such situation, at least not before getting his powers”.

          1. Also his father was a successful businessman. Cauldron vials were expensive; other capes we know who used one financed it through the sale of an inherited house (Battery), had politician fathers (Crusader, I think? Took Prism to meet his parents when Taylor, Trickster and Genesis went to put pressure on the Mayor of Brockton Bay), or… Well, those are the only other two Cauldron capes whose exact situations are known.

          2. Agreed expect for a couple of cape names you mixed up – the son of Mayor of Brockton Bay and a boyfriend of Prism you are thinking about was Triumph otherwise known as Rory Christner. Crusader was an E88 member (later one of the Pure), and a natural trigger.

          3. I knew I’d got the name wrong, that’s why I provided the context. Every time I thought ‘what’s his name?’ I got ‘Crusader’, and I got that so often in the end I went with it even though I knew it was wrong.

          4. Understood, but since I remembered both names (not to mention I didn’t mind quickly checking them in the wiki), I thought you might appreciate the reminder who Crusader was, and what was the name of the Mayor’s son you posted about.

          5. I’m honestly unsure why people are saying dean being confirmed as cauldron was a big thing. In worm I remember either his dad, or doctor mother, talking about how he had bought his son the vial to fix a physical disability so he could play sports, only to have people with powers banned from playing sports.

          6. Jkyoulost, you’re thinking of Triumph. Gallant was confirmed as Cauldron by Word of God a while ago.

          7. The best thing about the way it was confirmed that Gallant’s Cauldron cape? Probably only Cauldron and Gallant’s family (if they are alive) know. Victoria and Vista never learned about it.

    2. Where did you get the bits of Vicky’s srhard picking up stuff from Dean, or communicating with Breakthrough? I’m not doubting you, I’m just too tired to go back to read.

    3. You know the jokes about Rain being an anime character? Well there’s something form anime that sort of works for Vicky’s shard. Not an exact 100% match, but close enough. The idea of “Battle Aura”. That manefestation of super badass martial artists power and the like. Can be used to block damage (Forcefield), Fly, Boost physical stats (Super Strength), project intimidation (Her emotion power) and attack with (Inviso Wretch Arms).

      1. Oh, did that Rain thing catch on? I remember accidentally starting it and feeling nothing but shame afterwards. Yay, me?

        That’s… an oddly appropriate summation of Vicky’s power kit. The only things she’s missing are projectile aura blasts and pressure point ki nonsense.

        Oh, I know what! We can fix both these problems by combining them! Vicky has trouble controlling her forcefield hands, Rain is a tinker who makes controllable hands. Rain shanks Cradle, then uses his new sociopathic hand powers to build a handsuit for Vicky. Just like he made a tentacle suit for Sveta, and with exactly the same results.

    4. Your comment is so good I read it through twice. Thanks for pointing out how this is all framed specifically as a contrast between two shards (which seems to have been overlooked in the focus on March killing Vista!).

      Wildbow is doing something really key here, and this chapter is going to be one to bookmark.

  37. Umm… whats petty in not voting for a story thats not (currently) any good or voting for another one that actually is?
    Trying to fudge a vote, however, is petty.

    1. looks like the CRM here kicked quoting overboard. Well.. cant change it from this end. Was supposed to be an answer to the voting issue.

  38. Unlike popular opinion, I’m not disturbed at all by the current events because I know that this story will have its bittersweet ending, with heroes still WINNING despite losing so many people, just like Worm had. Too much negativity here, just give Wildbow a chance to prove (again) that he’s a great writer who still know how to surprise people with his smart twists, exactly when his readers feel like they can’t handle too much darkness anymore. Do you think March is invincible? Bullshit. NOBODY IS INVINCIBLE in Parahumans universe, not even Endbringers or Entities. She confronted and survived to some of the strongest capes, but she’ll probably lose to someone unexpectedly weaker than her who’ll took her by surprise or know her weakness and use against her. Maybe one of her clustermate will stab her in the back…but nobody is really invincible or have ridiculous plot armor, like people keep saying here. People called Goddess invincible too, after all.
    Give Wildbow a break, people, stop throwing shit at him. He knows better than you what to do with his story.

    1. I guess I’ll put some stuff here. You know the saying “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? Well even if March does get beaten, and sure she will, will that negate the issues people are having with how she got there? Does it just make it all go away? Or is it going to be a case of “Well glad that’s finally done”?

      There’s also the arguement that March being so invincible is like the Endbringers, S9, Etc, or she’s set up as a rebuttal to memetic fan Taylor. But the Endbringers and S9 were set up from the begining to have years of being the biggest threats around, and were huge forces of nature monsters, or a collection of the scariest capes around. March is Foil’s annoying stalker who got name dropped once.

      What’s more just because something works well for one person or character, doesn’t mean it works well for another. Think of it being like two people wearing the same outfit. One pulls it off perfectly and looks amazing. the other can’t, and looks awful.

      Yeah there’ all sorts of clever narrative tricks, but you can’t simply be building around those (Although I don’t think that’s what Wildbow is doing, this is general commentary) or you stop telling a story, and instead become about trying to prove how technically clever you are.

    2. March is winning because she fights like an entity. As a matter of technicality, she’s arguably the weakest single member of her team, it’s just that her power lets her direct everyone else so they work together flawlessly.

      People are focusing too much on March, and not enough on the team she spent years building up.

      1. That’s probably because there isn’t much focus on her team. I mean I remember Tori cause she’s a member of Goddess cluster ( I think) and March’s girlfriend, and Ixnay (Because of the chapter end) but I don’t actually know anything about them. I don’t know them as characters, I’m largely unclear on their powers, I don’t know what their personalities are. They might as well be pieces on a chessboard.

        1. I mean, I agree with you. I really do. This whole scene would have gone over exponentially better if Wildbow had given us the time to see who all these other people are, how they developed, what they can do, and what roles they play in the grand scheme of things. He shows us a villain who’s supposed to be exceptionally good at coordinating powers, but we’re told that instead of shown it.

          It’s just that, objectively speaking, March had everything she needed to win here, and made use of it.

          But yeah, it doesn’t read that way because it all happens without any of the background context to make it believable.

          1. what you said about fights going over better with character introductions is actually my second biggest problem with ward as a whole. In worm we almost never got to see a fight without some kind of character and power introductions. it made it so much easier to figure out what the heck was going on. but I remember the first couple fights in ward I was so confused because i had no idea who anyone was or what they could do and on some level that lack of introduction has continued. In worm powers were told to you. Taylor would say what the persons power does and then wildbow would show you the power during the fight. we rarely get that in ward, people just use their powers and you have to put it together for yourself, which is really confusing because people picture things differently and i doubt I’m envisioning what wildbow is describing the way he meant.

            little bit off topic sorry but I just had a problem with a lot of the fights in ward and I couldn’t really put my finger on why until i saw that point you made.

      2. lol, she isn’t the weakest on her team. She was specifically isolated in some pocket dimension, where she proceeded to solo like 7 heroes or something.

        Her powers are (as she stated herself) quite ridiculous. She basically won the power lottery and got powers that, in practice, are basically identical to Number Man’s, only without the ability to manipulate financial markets and the added ability to explode stuff. Her powers allow her to perfectly predict when and where things will be, so she can basically dodge anything that it is physically possible to dodge.

        1. She was locked in an isolated pocket dimension that was like an interdimensional maze, after we’ve already seen that she can navigate non-euclidean geography on the way to Brockton Bay. Plus she has Sting grenades, super timing, and super accuracy. In cramped conditions that only she can effectively navigate.

          Yes, I’ll buy that she killed seven other capes in a situation where the odds were explicitly stacked in her favor, and to a ridiculous degree. That wasn’t a trap, it was a hunting license with a free invitation and a complimentary .50 caliber rifle.

  39. I don’t understand how Ward ended up this way. I’m not really mad Vista died, though it’s annoying the heroes had to hold the idiot ball for it to happen. Which is a recurring issue with Ward; heroes are not allowed to have even the tiniest short term victories, even if logic needs to be bent until it cries for that to happe. It’s the inverse hero dilemma, where some argue that knowing the hero will win makes the journey uninteresting. Except here, knowing the heroes will LOSE makes it uninteresting.

    But that’s the least of Ward’s issues, I n the grand scheme. I made this complaint way early on, and 12 arcs in it still holds: none of these characters feel like people any more. Your character writing has taken a severe dive even from where Worm started.

    Worm’s characters were pretty simple, but they worked. They were people, with coherent goals and aspirations. As much as I disliked Pact, which had many of the same plotting issues as this where the hero goes nowhere but down and things always get worse and never improve even up to the finale, but the characters were sharper, more refined.

    And Twig was *moi*, beautiful. Great, deep, complex characters and the perfect middle ground between your tendency to escalate everything and spiral a character down with a hopeful tone and ability to let the protagonists win, grow, and live their lives in a way.

    If Twig was your opus though, Ward is shaping up to be the opposite. Quite frankly it doesn’t feel like you wanted to write this story and are doing it just to appease the people screeching “When’s Worm 2? It’s after this, right?” on every other chapter of Pact and Twig. The whole story feels like a “burn it all down” reaction so that by the time this is done nobody will be able to ask you “When’s Worm 3?” all the time.

    Characters I previously liked feel like caricatures of themselves, existing only to serve a perfunctory role in the plot that could be filled by anyone else. Nothing has been done to make me like characters I didn’t before. Plot points related to interpersonal stuff are few and far between, and are basically forgotten while the plot is happening and remembered again between large, boring setpieces and another rote “And then the heroes lose, because they’re stupid and/or God hated them” set of chapters.

    I’m not going to stop reading. I’ve suffered through worse; early chapters of The Gods Are Bastards and Wandering Inn (especially the latter with early Ryoka) had me seething mad. But at least I felt SOMETHING from those. All Ward currently gives me is a vague sense of apathy. Nobody in the story cares, you don’t seem to care…so why should I?

    1. You genuinely don’t like any of the characters in Breakthrough? I would say that they’re all superior to most characters in worm

      1. Well Personally out of the characters in Breakthrough, just the ones I like, in order from most to least are…

        Rain, Ashley, Kenzie, Victoria, Byron, Tristan, Sveta (Three way tie between the brothers and The Svet), Natalie, and Chris.

        There’s none of them I’m not at least somewhat invested in, and I find all of them at least a little interesting.

      2. Yeah, Worm’s main cast was *way* less interesting than Ward’s. The only members of the Undersiders that had much depth to them where Taylor herself and sorta Tattletale (though she wasn’t explored much).

    2. A pretty good summary. But do you really think Twig better than Worm?
      For me Worm is still WBs Magnum Opus. Characters were at least well enough developed to deliver the story. And a story is about… well a story after all. Its not a character study.

      The concept of the Entities was genius. In super hero fiction I know very little that made so much… sense.

      But when I heard about a sequel I was skeptical. Worm does not really lend itself to a sequel. All the important mysteries are solved and the story had an End just like the world.

      So I was managing my expectations.
      I am still kind of disappointed, anyway.

      But I doubt anybody will pester WB for a Worm 3 after this. That is pretty much a given. Unless this really blossoms into a story with what is ahead. I really hope so. If only to uphold the legacy of Worm.

    3. This is closest to my react. I had sincere emotional affection for many of the characters in Worm, and I felt like I could understand them as people.

      I do get that in Ward, with some folks (Lookout, Ashley, and the Capricorn brothers, particularly, but also Sveta, Rain, some others). But far too many are glossed over. And rather than the plot revolving around them and their motivations, it’s just one crisis after another with no time to do anything other than fight-scheme-fight.

      I dig the power-wonkery and how interesting it is, but it’s also SUPER-complicated; I would much rather read more about the people these powers inhabit. And I get that cape fights can be cool, but capes doing stuff in their civilian identities helps us remember why we care about these weirdos.

      Genuinely sad about Vista. Not enough development of her here in Ward, but I still remember the girl from Worm, and I’m sad she’s dead. I know there’s the possibility of her coming back, but I honestly hope she doesn’t; death cheats take a lot of the suspense out of things, make it like playing with monopoly money instead of real stakes.

      And as annoying a villain as March is (and I agree with some folks on plot armor, though I’d argue Taylor had a HEALTHY dose of that too), I actually still find her really interesting.

      1. Uh, are you sure you’re remembering Worm correctly, because that was even more of a non-stop crisis escalation than Ward is. With the possible exception of the portion around the timeskip, Worm was pretty much back to back conflicts and a non-stop descent of Taylor into increasingly dubious morality.

        1. Taylor’s escalation was earned in Worm.

          Ward is missing warranted escalation.

          From the moment the navigators were butchered alive, Breakthrough and all other heroes should have been aiming to kill. Instead, they have a non lethal slap fight where Breakthrough doesn’t kill anyone (meanwhile their opposition has guns and lethal intent). Invariably, every villain we’ve met so far has been a much worse problem 4 arcs later.

          Taylor’s story was interesting because she had a weak power which she had to think to make maximally effective. Taylor went to fights with victory as the end goal.

          Victoria, by contrast, seems to delight in being as ineffective as possible.

          She has super strength, invulnerability, and flight. She has to work extra hard to be as bad as she is in this story.

          This goes for some other members.

          Sveta is an automatic murder machine in Worm… In Ward, she’s a mannequin who can swing like Tarzan.

          With the exception of Lookout and Capricorn, all of Breakthrough have lethal powers which they have failed to use to actually kill anyone.

          Even the undersiders are being poorly used, the story is going out of it’s way to make Tattletale ineffective.

          1. “All Of Breakthrough have lethal powers…”. Yuuup. Nothing to see here, nope nope nope.

          2. Meh… it’s nothing unusual. Every power can be lethal if you get creative with it. Even off switches on cameras can be weaponized after all.

    4. Wow. Why would you read a story whose author you believe to be uninterested in it and which gives you a sense of apathy?

      I’m honestly asking.

    5. I just… simply don’t agree. With just about anything you just said?

      The characterization in Ward isn’t as good as Worm or Twig? What? Were we reading the same books?

      Eh. I don’t think I can come up with some cogent argument against, as it’s just personal opinion at the end of the day.

    6. > none of these characters feel like people any more
      May be this is intentional – to show that parahumans are not people any more, not after Gold Morning?

  40. Before Dauntless, Alabaster, and Jotu were released from their bubble the villains apparently made some demands (at least Victoria’s reaction to phone call right after March stabbed Vista suggested they did). We didn’t see March do it at any point in this interlude, nor during interlude 12.z. Did she make those demands at a different point in time, or did someone else do it? Who could it be, if it wasn’t March? One of the capes who went to Brockton Bay with March? Would they even get the time needed to make such demands?

    Maybe it was Cradle? It would fit what he said in interlude 12.e about popping one time effect to make sure that the heroes would listen to his demands, but how would he know when it happened exactly? And shouldn’t he be confused why March didn’t stop fighting after Killington loop was popped? Was this why Victoria said that the villains “aren’t saying for sure they’re willing […] to walk it back.”? And would Cradle demand Foil, and not Rain?

  41. It’s super late and I am tired, but I wanna chime in with some positivity and support, to make up for some of the strong negativeness. While I absolutely respect that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and agree with a number of those expressed, I’d like to remind everyone that even the most mature and emotionally composed of people can be worn down by a downpour of negative comments.

    I for one have been enjoying Ward. It has been a weird, detached and new kind of enjoyment, mind you. I felt very hurt when Blake, Sy and Jessie got hurt, but I kind of came emotionally shielded for this story, because I did expect things to get very, very grim. But to make up for that, there have been some amazing and deeply touching moments (happy, sad and ire-inducing ones), and some characters are just lovingly crafted.

    Worm feels like it happened ages ago for me, and I can’t remember most details of it, so I don’t have a big attachment to most of its characters save for the original Undersiders. But I came to like Vista a lot in Ward and… heck that was a sad way to send her off.

    1. Anyone got any idea, on how the interlude names (z, e, all) fit together? And how many time bubbles has March popped by now?

      1. The only thing that comes to mind is that, as David Hunt noted in his comment in interlude 12.e, the “e” could be supposed to fit together not with the labels other interludes in this arc got, but with interludes 4.a, 4.b, 4.c, and 5.d – the interludes in which we saw the “dreams” of Rain’s cluster, which would mean that in the table of contents interlude 12.e shouldn’t be called “12.e (LL)”, but “12.e (Interlude V)”.

        And don’t even get me started about how interludes are marked in the sidebar in ways that are not internally consistent, and completely don’t match the table of contents, how “(Jonathan)” isn’t a part of the link in the table of contents, or how interlude 9.z is called “(By)” instead of “(Byron)” there. I’m sure most, if not all, of those oddities are not accidental.

      2. As for the “bubbles” March has “popped” by now, I think she destroyed one time loop (in Killington) and one time stasis “bubble” in Brockton Bay. It would also mean that this interlude started during chapter 12.1 (when Victoria saw Brockton Bay “unfold”), and ended around the same moment chapter 12.2 did (when capes on Earth-N probably felt the result of Dauntless and Alabaster having their overcharged second triggers).

  42. I really like March. She’s so fun. It’d be a great time, hanging out with her; total thrill ride. She goes so hard, literally all of the time, for just any reason. She just wants to hang out with her friends, and make them happy/powerful! And thus, murder.

    alsoirecognisethatithappenedbutitstillshould’vebeenabudoffGallantnotapinglikewasheeventhere?whyhasthisneverhappenedwiththeotherswesaw?excuseme???

  43. Hahaha, wow. The first segment of this was amazing.

    The rest of it, however, was very hard. Painful, even. Something really needs to be done about March’s shard. We need to take up a collection and raise the funds to hire it a grammar tutor or something, because its narration just wanders back and forth at random between the present and past tense like a fucking drunk-ass space-hobo with three left feet. I mean, it’s got all that impressive command of timing, yet it can’t wrangle basic verb tenses? Bah! I expected better of you, Shard! >:(

    1. Well I think the problem is March has Shards. So it’s kinda seeming like the narration is trying to share the viewpoints of all three at once. Maybe if it was just from her primary shard’s viewpoint?

      Of course it seems like they have a much different mentality than Victoria’s.

      1. Ah, gotcha. They’re three shards struggling to write a narrative together but unable to agree on whether it should be present or past tense and first or third person, so they each write their own contributions according to their individual preferences and then smash them all together into this horrid mishmash. They don’t need a tutor; they need an editor. Maybe we could introduce them to Accord’s shard.

        1. If my theory about Victoria’s shard being a “newborn” – a shard that has never been connected to anyone else than Victoria and other shards before is correct, then it is no surprise that it “talks” in a way that is closer to proper English than March’s shard(s) do. It was exposed to fewer “alien” minds (and with them – alien ways of thinking), so it has less to un-learn to be able to form it’s thoughts like a human English speaker would.

          1. In fact, as I posted below, I think that Victoria’s shard may be most likely to learn how to “talk” to humans, even if this talking would be limited to “one Wretch’s scratch for ‘yes’, two scratches for’no'” – something it could adapt from the code Victoria used to communicate in the asylum, and later, from the other side, with the Navigators.

            Maybe they wouldn’t even be “scratches”, but “blinks”, at least early on. Those would of course be easy to miss, and generally not very practical to use, but may be easier to understand for the shard, since it is supposed to be so uncreative, and going from blinks to scratches would probably require a degree of creativity.

  44. First: I love your work, and the amount of effort you’ve put into your works, and the joy its created, is immense. I’ve plugged worm to all of my friends, and my life is better for having experienced it.

    I enjoy how Ward is a different direction. Naysayers and people who just want the exact same gorgeous experience they got (such as I described above) when reading another of your works are extremely frustrating.

    However, I do think there is validity to the complaints about March being [uninterestingly] overpowered. She comes off as genuinely invulnerable (not the exciting “kinda invulnerable” most other heroes had), and that invulnerable reads as slight variations on “March’s opponents do all sorts of crazy stuff; March dodges”.

    The interplay of Endbringer fights along with sometimes winning/sometimes losing felt far more “nearly impossible” and interesting (to me, obviously)

    Contessa is terrifying, but ultimately boring (requiring power nullification threat to have an interesting interaction). March feels similar, and it seems likely that whatever ends up beating her could’ve been done by Dragon & Friends in this fight, or she’ll get what she wants and wander away.

    So you (WB) know what you’re up to, and I have high hopes and reasonable expectations that its brilliant and great. But none of the March chapters leave me with the “this seems nigh impossible but maybe theres a way” intensity and hope that you pull off like no other.

    I hope this is useful feedback as opposed to just another voice to tune out.

  45. I don’t see March as being OP, anymore than combat thinkers are OP. The issue is that the heroes are being complete morons. Don’t fight a dangerous melee combat thinker from anywhere close, especially when you have guns that you are getting in the way of. Don’t take risks to try to end a fight with a precog, since they will just take advantage. And *especially* don’t put your long-range heavy hitters any closer to the fight than they need to be. The way to win the fight was to keep Vista, Golem, and Narwhal hidden (in different locations) and have them and the Mechs all attacking from different directions. Plus anyone else who is able to do something useful at range (weren’t there some Harbingers there?), though there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of usefulness here.

  46. I know that I have gotten pretty heated in past chapter comments. What I’d like to say here?

    I’m so glad that I decided to stick with Ward! I’ve been waiting for something like this chapter, some concrete or at least semi-solid picture of what was going on on the shard side of things, since it started. I adore the reveal that it wasn’t only Taylor’s shard that was heavily shaped by its host. Literally every shard we’ve had some semblance of a PoV of has been cast by the mold of its host or hosts’ thought and emotional patterns. It echoes the finale of Worm in showing that the Warrior Entity, even in the small scale level of its component pieces, was not capable of experiencing the glorious variety of human emotion and remaining unchanged. These are beings existing on a scale of aeons, to which humans should be as insects, and yet we are such glorious mayflies that they are fundamentally altered by their encounters with us.

    Thanks, Wildbow. I think I needed that today.

  47. I guess I’m joining the lot of people complaining about March. Contessa? Number Man? Hah, forget about those losers. Judging by March’s interlude and this chapter, her power is to make EVERYONE in her team into a Contessa, with an explosive Sting on top of it (which, by the way, seems to be strictly better than Foil’s version, despite it being Foil’s primary). Okay, maybe not everyone, they lost two guys whom no one cared about anyway, but everyone she’s currently paying attention to. Sorry, but I don’t buy it. And while Contessa’s power (unlike March’s, mind you) is almost literally *designed* to be a Plot Device, her onscreen time does not have this feeling of “Contessa just came and handled everything”. Wildbow managed to create difficulties even for a character with a Plot Device power, but here – there just don’t seem to be any. March’s team doesn’t even seem to blackout together with everyone else, and is able to make a run for it while everyone else is distracted, while merrily dismembering Jotunn at the same time. Wow. IMO, Contessa is written infinitely better than March.
    And by the way, what’s with those hard-light missiles? Heroes *still* tried to use non-lethal ammunition, which does no serious harm even upon a direct hit? What the actual fuck.

    1. You had a very different read of those missiles than I did. They seemed less non-lethal (given the narration talks about he ralmost being crushed by one outgrowth of hard-light) and more intended to bar her way with something she can’t just stab through. I mean, Brandish’s weapons are hard-light as well, but they’re explicitly a lethal-only kinda deal.

      1. The heroes already know that March’s power can blow up invulnerable stuff, so they can’t expect her not to be able to stab through any obstacle. And intending to just bar her way, as opposed to killing her, is definitely acting MUCH softer than what the situation warrants.
        Also:

        > Her rapier traces a circle on the ground, as the missiles come her way. March’s Tori gets one. March’s Ixnay gets another.

        Tori and Ixnay got hit by the missiles and didn’t seem to be even meaningfully delayed by them, let alone crushed to death. And later March blows a missile up in the midst of a group of heroes, also not crushing anyone by it.

        1. Actually, a hardlight weapon is probably the ideal response, here.

          Photons are a fundamental particle, meaning they’re zero-dimensional. Dimensional effects (Sting, etc) might not do jack shit to them.

        2. No, that part is describing Tori and Ixnay stopping the missiles, not getting hit by them lol. Tori can draw them off course with her power-enhanced tractor beam, and Ixnay can freeze them.

    2. March is for Ward what Squirrel Girl is for Marvel. They can take down any hero and villain in existence without breaking a sweat. Imagine the TEAM they would make. The multiverse will literally blow.

  48. Well, shit that was unfair. Dragon probably should have sent more drones, but she must not have expected how unfair March is. Seriously, March has explosions with auto-aiming shrapnel.

    I hope Withdrawal is okay. If we’re really lucky Tempera somehow made it out too.

    Dauntless got 4 years of power ups dumped into his helmet AND a broken trigger?

    Oh apparently Scion dying didn’t just affect new triggers, but old ones? That sucks. Someone should try and build a new, less homicidal network. Perhaps one that understands the scientific method? I really feel like the shards are not using sufficient RIGOR! in their experiments.

    Well, I thought that was pretty great overall. March has a boosted power, with a power boost, so I expected her to be unfair. Not Goddess unfair, but she pretty clearly wasn’t Goddess levels of unfair. I also really liked seeing stuff from the Shard’s perspectives.

    So good job Wildbow! I’d say ignore all the haters, but you do you?

    1. > Not Goddess unfair, but she pretty clearly wasn’t Goddess levels of unfair.

      Right, March was much more unfair here. After all, one Twisted Betrayal was untimately enough for Goddess, and March couldn’t be taken down by a whole crowd of fully prepared A-list capes, up to and including Dragon.

      > Someone should try and build a new, less homicidal network. Perhaps one that understands the scientific method? I really feel like the shards are not using sufficient RIGOR! in their experiments.

      Yeah! Now to find them a teacher somewhere…

    2. The scientific method is used for isolating variables, among other things. I’d imagine it stops being useful when you’ve already identified all the variables ever, and it looks like they’ve gone well beyond needing it as a tool.

      They’d benefit more from raw processing power, which is what they have.

      1. I always the impression that despite all their powers, all the knowledge they’ve gained, in the end the Entities are still… Well Worms. They are still driven by the basic biological drives like survivial. That there’s just certain concepts and traits that while they’ve seen them, they don’t truly understand them. Parse them if you will. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to say what I’m feeling here. It’s like… The entities seek survivial and evolution, but the idea of enlightenment isn’t something they can parse. Is that understandible?

  49. I read that as Tori and Ixnay taking out two of the missiles rather then being hit by them. The paragraphs just prior to that outlined how the two of them were stopping or rerouting the missiles.
    Also, her shard says outright that the hard light projection nearly smashed her to pulp, so it would stand to reason that they are easily capable of killing.

    1. Damn. That was supposed to be a reply to someone else’s comment, not a comment on its own. Oh well. Too late now.
      Anyway this chapter was awesome. I have to agree with some of the other commenters sentiments somewhat. March is seeming like a heretofore unseen unstoppable force. She literally can’t lose. An entire squad of trained, experienced capes and she ran right through them like they were nothing. Not even the Slaughterhouse 9 were that good. It makes it hard to think of ANY way that Breakthrough and/or the Undersiders are ever going to be able to beat her. At this point, it looks to me like any win over her is going to need some kind of hamfisted plot device to make happen. But as I’m not a writer, that’s probably my lack of imagination at work. Wildbow is a great writer, so I’m sure there is a plan in place for defeating her and it will come to pass in a way that doesn’t seem contrived. I look forward to that, because seriously, this chick needs to die. Painfully. She killed Vista, man. I liked Vista.

      And before I forget, Victoria’s shard says that it would reach out to the hub and make the force field the way she wants it to be, then it goes on to say that it would reach out and urge other shards to do things, but that it can’t because it’s dead and broken. Are these two thoughts connected, or were they separate things? If they are connected, does this mean that her Force field is stuck as it is permanently? It can’t be changed back because Scion is dead and it has no way to change without the information in the hub? If she had come back prior to Scion dying, would it have been able to fix her force-field for her?

      1. Analysis of March’s power suite, except ignoring the in-character explanations because they’re all working off limited information:

        1: Macro-scale coordination precog. March observes all the pieces she has in play, then sees how they need to move to accomplish a single goal, with an emphasis on arranging what would, if viewed externally, look like improbably precise coordination. Would be brutally OP if paired with a power that facilitated communication, but she at least doesn’t have one, so the standard anti-thinker tactics still apply here.

        2: Nerfed sting striker/blaster power. March applies a timed effect to a touched object, which causes it to detonate in a reality-shredding blast after a set amount of time (and I suspect may have a cooldown between uses, because she isn’t spamming it as much as she could be). Would be clunky, hard to use, and minimally effective without superpowered timing, but there ya go.

        3: Success-focused local area telekinetic. March picks something, and that something succeeds (“this attack hits”, or “I dodge that attack”). Basically a nerfed Shamrock, in that it only seems to apply to one thing at a time instead of everything constantly. Kinda clunky and limited on its own, but according to her shard it can be applied to her coordination power. She takes the ability to sub a nat20 for any one roll, then “rolls” for her precognition power. Bullshit ensues.

        The good news is, she can in fact be beaten: unlike Contessa, she can apparently only have one plan running at a time, has to personally intervene to put the plan back on its rails when an outside element gets involved (instead of already accounting for any and all outside variables ahead of time), can only autopilot her own actions sometimes instead of all times (attack OR dodge, etc), and doesn’t have a Doormaker on tap to make her functionally omnipresent. On the other hand, she trades out Doormaker for the ultimate problem solver.

        … What was I saying? Right, I remember now: all of March’s powers, assuming I’m reading this correctly, only apply to one thing at a time. She only has one path active at a time, only has one “roll” guaranteed at a time, only has one use of sting at a time, etc. She can combine those three things in any way she wants, but doing that means she isn’t using them for other stuff.

        Beating her means doing two things at once when she’s already committed to a path, not unlike fighting Coil involved waiting until he committed to a reality where you’d already positioned yourself to win.

        So, on the plus side, March losing at least wouldn’t feel like an arsepull. It’d require good strategy and proper execution, preferably at a location where she isn’t actively cheati- I mean, applying her power. Alternatively (and more generally), it means removing her from the picture, because the standard OPs for beating a thinker is to keep them from communicating with their teammates, and March’s coordination requires communication to work at all. Same thing, I guess: get her out of the picture, or set the battlefield so she isn’t in the picture.

        On the down side, the villain with the power to coordinate all her little chess pieces is the same one who’s been abusing Goddess syndrome like a filthy munchkin, so at least half of her chess pieces are literally twice as strong as any one normal cape (at the very least). Which neatly explains why her crew waltzed through the heroes so easily, but it feels like bullshit because we know nothing at all about any of these people. Some exploration of who they are as characters before all of this would’ve helped immensely, if only to see how March is playing them off each other to maximize her results. And also to better illustrate how many of them are demi-Goddesses, and to what extent, so this sort of thing is more believable in foresight instead of hindsight.

        Dunno about Vicky’s shard, sorry. I’ve spent entirely too much of today and yesterday trying to figure out what the hell’s going on with the plot right now. Literally all of this stuff blindsided me, and it feels like there isn’t enough information to properly anticipate these plot twists, even if retroactively. It probably would be possible to expect them if I knew everything about the setting mechanics ahead of time, because so much of this seems to involve putting those together in weird ways for crazy results, except I don’t so it all feels like bullshit. Worm technically had the same thing going on, but all of that was in the background instead of the foreground, so you could look back and have those oh shit moments on a second read without it hampering the narrative the first time around.

      2. And before I forget, Victoria’s shard says that it would reach out to the hub and make the force field the way she wants it to be, then it goes on to say that it would reach out and urge other shards to do things, but that it can’t because it’s dead and broken. Are these two thoughts connected, or were they separate things? If they are connected, does this mean that her Force field is stuck as it is permanently? It can’t be changed back because Scion is dead and it has no way to change without the information in the hub? If she had come back prior to Scion dying, would it have been able to fix her force-field for her?

        Yeah, that seems to be the basic situation. The only point you’re off on is that it’s not quite permanently stuck; her shard said that it’s learning, but only slowly.

    2. Yeah, maybe you got it right, that makes sense.

      > At this point, it looks to me like any win over her is going to need some kind of hamfisted plot device to make happen

      Given her powers, I think that “hamfisted plot device” is what’s happening now. It would be reasonable to assume her power level to be roughly on par with Foil – nowhere near unbeatable even with a boost from Megan. An absurdly powerful antagonist who seemingly could not be defeated without a contrived plot device was Scion (and it was awesome how Wildbow pulled off his defeat). March’s defeat would look more like “okay, now that the Plot Armor is finally off, here come the inevitable consequences”.

  50. – first of all, fuuuuuuuuuck March
    – and not in the fun way, like Megan, no. Right in the ear
    – fuuuuuuuuuck March
    – with that said, holy shit what a chapter
    – so much we learned
    – shard-POV is like a cross between a very very smart kitten and a very very dumb machine-learning algorithm. Or perhaps the other way round
    – Shard “Heaven” is even worse than we thought. Like the inverse of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream
    – by way of *I ONLY Have A Mouth And It Can ONLY Scream*
    – Gallant was a Cauldron cape = CONFIRMED
    – We All Cauldron Capes now
    – you all are so confident Vista is dead. If anyone can turn March’s inch of penetration into ten feet without it looking like anything, it’s Lil V
    – which would be a pretty sweet Space Versus Time thematic sequel to Foil playing Grey Boy like a goddamn fiddle before headshotting the idiot
    – Vicky’s shard is Best!Shard.
    – Best!Bro
    – Bro!Shard
    – all that just to power up Ixnay? So much effort, so much risk, potential extinction event by way of multi-broken multitrigger … just to turn a semi-strong cape into a strongish cape (and add him to shard heaven) Sounds … familiar … 🤔

    My mind went to a bizarre combination of upper-class and low-class crimes, like corporate espionage and petty vandalism, but I knew almost right away that I was thinking of the wrong person.

    It had been something offbeat like that, though.

    What Vicki was trying to remember wasn’t high-class-low-brow, it was high-effort-for-bullshit-petty-reasons lol

    1. Megan’s not the one fucking March (unless the megacluster has a poly thing going), that’s Tori. Megan’s the one powering March up.

      1. Yeah, you right. Angry enough at March’s bullshit to forget which interchangeable member of her megacluster she’s boinking.

        She’s a street-leveler that punches above her weight class WHY THE DICK ARE THEY TREATING HER LIKE SHE’S THE SLEEPER OR SOMETHING 😠🤬🤬🤬

        1. The girl with bug powers beat Lung. Twice. She then proceeded to kill the most powerful Thinker in the city. She then proceeded to kill *fucking Alexandria*.

          An unpowered PRT officer took down Jack Slash.

          A barely powered Teacher minion took down Dragon.

          Pitiful humanity managed to take down an immense multidimensional being that had invaded and infected them and was hell bent on slowly destroying them.

          But sure, March should be totally incapable of winning.

          1. Well, the Dragon’s Teeth officer that got Jack Slash is widely accepted to secretly be Coil’s Sniper. Not even Contessa and Numberman could take out that guy.

          2. Second most powerful Thinker in the city. Probably. His rating’s not known (the PRT weren’t even sure he had powers, let alone enough to put a number to it) but I doubt it would have been as high as Dinah Alcott’s twelve, which is… about as high as the ten-point scale goes. We don’t know of any capes with higher than twelve, though we know of several with a rating of twelve. Dinah, obviously; also Labyrinth, and Panacea.

  51. Another thought:

    – One other thing this chapter does is show us just how heavily shards are capable of puppeting their hosts
    – March barely exists. At this point, she’s a thin rind of anime-badass chaos artist over a roiling maelstrom of three-faced shard/three-faced face
    – the stuff about her “guessing” knowledge she didn’t have that Foil *did* and the other part where she closes her eyes lowers her head, whatever, because her shard wanted to lighten the load on Megan? Eerily reminiscent of Jack Slash always being right while thinking he’s just that smart and lucky, the idiot
    – shard-puppets
    – contrast with Vicky whose shard is just chilled out and willing to help her with whatever
    – March basically has something not entirely unlike PTV or at least, a Jack-like approximation thereof
    – which is still bullshit because DRAGON AND DEFIANT AND NUMEROUS OTHER CAPES SHOULD BE ABLE TO PUT A RAILGUN ROUND THROUGH HER BRAIN AT MACH 7 FROM A MILE AWAY GODDAMMIT

    ….

    Fuuuuuuuuuck March.

    1. I also get strong Jack Slash vibes from March. Unlike Contessa, she doesn’t do everything completely flawlessly and is occasionally nicked by attacks or makes minor mistakes, but in the end everything still works out in her favor.

      I feel like there has to be some gimmick we’re not aware of, because as described her powers should not protect her from stuff like traps or unexpected undodgeable attacks.

  52. TTO, I interpreted those two “got” missiles to mean they stopped/dealt with them, not got hit by them. Tori’s TK and Ixnay’s freezing ability prevented them from hurting anyone.

  53. Okay, time to be fully positive.

    First off I did like Karatitid doing a Go through me, and Vista asking her not to. Damn noble.

    Next we got some very nice shard reveals. What I really found interesting is what we learned about Vicky’s shard and how it contrasts Taylors. Taylor had the Queen Administrator, one of the strongest shards there was, incredibly important. Diminished hugely, but still a Queen. Vicky has… The hodgepodge of cast off bits that doesn’t even have a designation. Well maybe it’ll get one. Like Best Shard, or Mighty Star Puncher.

    There’s another thing I think is a reoccuring theme in Ward. People not having all the information. But there’s those that have a piece of the puzzle, and think they know what that means. The thing is they are still missing pieces of the puzzle. And that means they are horribly, horribly wrong. We saw that in Love Lost’s interlude, with there indeed being bleedthrough, but it didn’t work the way she thought, and thus she was entirely wrong on what it meant with Rain. here we see it with March and her Shard “Heaven” where I’m pretty sure it’s not as nice as she thinks with her outdated info, and with it… Well yeah, regular death is probably prefferible.

    So what puzzle pieces do Cradle and Teacher and Amy and Chris have that are leading them to think the big picture looks different than it is?

  54. Ooh, I love conscious shards! And Victoria’s shard seems to have some measure of fondness for Victoria as best as it can because she does her best to use it well despite its shortcomings. I love that!

    … Can’t wait to see how pissed Victoria gets after she hears about Vista. March is gonna SUFFER.

  55. One thing that struck me about the shards we saw in this interlude, is how well and how easily they understand not only their parahumans, but even such basics of human interaction as human speech. Scion seemed like he had to actually devote some effort and resources to do it, while for example March’s shard even uses human terms to inaccurately describe things from previous cycles – for example there is no way that those creatures from the previous cycles were actually “molluscoids”, since they existed on a planet that almost certainly wasn’t some alternate Earth (those three moons that were there seem to be a strong argument against this possibly), and molluscoids evolved on Earth from much simpler organisms (and even organic structures which couldn’t really be called “organisms”).

    This means that March’s shard tries to use a human terminology do describe something human languages have no exact term for. Scion was never this inaccurate. Maybe the shards don’t remember previous cycles to think in non-human terms? If this is the case, then maybe it could be possible for the humans to communicate with the shards directly at some point? Could for example Victoria’s shard learn to control the Wretch well enough to use a keyboard to type a message to Victoria? Did any shard do something like this before? If not – why? Is it a limitation imposed by their programming, or something else?

    Or is it only an impression we get from reading this interlude that the shards know human language (and way of thinking) well enough to use it to communicate with humans? Maybe this is just something I think could be possible, because the thoughts of shards were translated to human language and mental framework for the purposes of writing this interlude in a way we could understand?

    As a side note, we see that Victoria’s shard is perfectly aware that the forcefield’s behavior isn’t satisfying to Victoria, and would like to change it if it could. Does it mean that Wretch’s behavior isn’t dictated by Victoria’s emotions and/or subconscious thoughts, as we thought, but by the extent of her shard’s ability to control the forcefield effect, and maybe by the shard’s (not Victoria’s!) emotions?

    1. Maybe the shards don’t talk to their parahumans, because they don’t fully understand a distinction between “themselves” and their hosts? If this is the case, then it may change soon, because while the shards we saw (especially Victoria’s) sometimes think of a shard-parahumans combination as “I”, they sometimes also use “we”, or even ‘I’ meaning just the shard itself not the combination of shard and the host.

      Victoria’s shard calls itself “I without a label”, as opposed to Victoria who is “Victoria Dallon, Glory Girl, Scholar, Wretch, Warrior Monk, Antares.” Maybe to have enough sense of self and of being a separate being from it’s host, it needs to get not a label it wants right now (one that would describe it and Victoria together), but a label, a name to describe just itself – like the names Valkyrie uses to describe the shards?

      Other shards, like March’s for example may not have enough sense of “self” to get to that point yet, but I think Victoria’s may be getting to that point – perhaps because it seems to be very young, and as such may be learning faster than other shards?

      I imagine that if Victoria’s shard could get to that point, it could be an “upgrade” much bigger and more important than the one Taylor got with her power at the end of Worm. Do you think that Victoria having an actual conversation with her shard could be a good idea to build the last arc of Ward around?

      1. Heck, if using a keyboard would be too hard for Victoria’s power, maybe their conversation could use the code Victoria learned in the asylum, and used with the Navigators later on. It seems like something that her shard could learn from her, and adapt it to use even with the extremely limited control it has over the forcefield power. Maybe they could just use something like Wretch’s scratching against the surroundings instead of eyeblinks?

        1. And maybe the big thing that Yamada told she realized all those arcs ago is that the shards are beings on a verge of developing a sense of self, like Victoria’s shard seems to be doing. I wouldn’t put such insight past Yamada, especially since Valkyrie, who uses separate names for shards and humas, is one of her patients.

      2. > Maybe to have enough sense of self and of being a separate being from it’s host, it needs to get not a label it wants right now (one that would describe it and Victoria together), but a label, a name to describe just itself – like the names Valkyrie uses to describe the shards?

        Another reason why a shard could need a “label”, a name to be able to communicate is that speaking (or maybe even thinking in case of its “host”) this name could let the shard know that a human is taking or thinking to it (the shard). Such clear way to indicate this fact may be needed both because shards have a problem with distinguishing between themselves and their hosts, because they probably know every thought of their hosts (even the unconscious ones), because they probably have a problem with understanding many abstracts humans use while communicating (and vice versa – humans would probably have a problem understanding shard-specific abstracts), and finally because shards and humans perceive their surroundings in a completely different ways – even what counts as “surroundings” is entirely different for shards than for their hosts.

      3. One more thing about Victoria potentially having a “conversation” with her shard, and about self-identification of shards as beings separate from their parahumans. It is not like the shards don’t communicate with their parahumans already – they very much do. The problem is that the shards do it by inserting thoughts to the heads of their hosts in a way that those hosts have a problem with distinguishing their own thoughts from the thoughts of their shards (though some parahumans manage to do it at least part of the time – Tattletale is probably the most extreme example).

        This method of communication is probably very natural to shards, who tend to see themselves as parts of their parahumans, but confusing to the parahumans in question, who, after the nature of their powers was revealed, tend to see their “passengers” as beings separate from them. The method of shard-human communication I think Victoria may teach her shard depends on the shard realizing that it is not a part of Victoria’s mind, and expressing itself in a way that makes it clear which thoughts come from it, and not from the host.

  56. Huh. Interesting read. The Shard perspective was pretty cool. I liked Vista, but I’m fine with how she went out. Anybody who pays attention could have seen it coming, and I liked how she and Caryatid got a mutual “More Hero than You” moment right before hand. Honestly, I don’t even mind March being overpowered, I just think that having the fight from her perspective while she tears through the heroes with no apparent effort was less interesting than seeing the heroes’ perspective on the same event. Anyway, that’s my two cents. Excellent chapter overall Wildbow, loving Ward so far.

  57. But to be fair, I loved the shard-perspective chapter…want to see what happens to Dautless-Alabaster (Dautlabaster?) Are they now a Case 70, something new or just dead?

  58. Okay, so…
    That was a chapter.
    A kind of upsetting, for obvious reasons.

    Seeing the Shard POV was cool.
    Not super pleased with developments with March.

    I think…. hmmmm…
    I think a Shard’s interlude is super cool, and that the events of this interlude are part of the story and needed to happen…. but it also feels weird.
    Vista’s finally feels like it should feel super emotional, but viewing it via a very distant very abstracted POV feels like it weakened the moment, and also made it harder for the reader to stay close to the POV, if that makes sense. The pairing feels weird.

    We lose the opportunity to truly see Vista’s death from the POV of one of the heroes close to her.
    We lose the opportunity to find out from Victoria’s POV several chapters later.

    And that seems… like a bit of a shame?

    And also… it feels really weird, because if March got that close, could Vista just surrender? Release her space warp effect. Or just NOT be in an accessible location? Didn’t Narwhal prove to be March proof? Couldn’t she and Vista just sit in a box. This feels weird.

    1. Another chapter or later interlude could show us Vista’s death from a personal point of view. Vista would never surrender, because she’s a hero, and she has to see the city to change it (IIRC), so she couldn’t just hide in a box.

      1. You’re right- Vista probably wouldn’t surrender… but if the alternative is dying… and then having all your efforts undone ANYWAY…. I still think it would be a more sensible option.
        More to the point though, I don’t think March would ACCEPT a surrender.

        Pretty sure Narwhal’s forcefields are A)transparent, and B) able to fly.

        And yes, I agree, some other chapter could show us a more personal perspective, but it would seem an odd writing choice to put the less personal one first in that case.

        To be clear, I think that a Shard’s chapter is a super cool idea, and was executed well, and all that Jazz. I’m just surprised that is was deployed here and now, and unsure precisely why that was the choice made. But… I am not WB, and there may well be constraints I am not aware of.

        1. I’m pretty sure that Narwhal’s shields are not transparent, since she’s known for wearing them over her skin instead of clothes. Also, they are described as ‘violet-blue’ in colour and looking like crystals.

        2. “Vista’s finally feels like it should feel super emotional, but viewing it via a very distant very abstracted POV feels like it weakened the moment”

          “And yes, I agree, some other chapter could show us a more personal perspective, but it would seem an odd writing choice to put the less personal one first in that case.”

          Agreed, but I have a hunch writing it the other way around wouldn’t flow well because of plot/pacing reasons. Might just be a necessary sacrifice; I’m not the author though.

          Maybe the action-movie principle of “show it twice” might be applicable? I’m not sure how well that translates from film to prose though.

  59. Since this seems to be happening quite a lot, can I just point out to people that screaming about toxicity and dogpiling on people for valid complaints, often whilst making passive-aggressive snark and ignoring any actual points brought up, is just making things much, much worse? Whilst escalation is pretty thematic to Worm and Ward, maybe don’t bring it to the comments section too?

  60. I don’t know if my comments post or not, but wildybubs is writing a story about after the end of all worlds. A story where things are broken and breaking and a desperate few are trying to hold everything together and patch it up before the greed and hate and darkness of others human or otherwise try to tear it down. So whileany of you will try to tear wildybubs down in much the same way, I will wait with baited breathe for each new chapter not some promised “pay-off” at the end because each chapter that is, and is written, tells a beautiful if dark and deeply sad narrative.

    1. A nice observation. But I do think you misjudge the intent of readers comments.
      Everybody who takes the time to sit down and write a comment obviously cares about WB and his writing.
      If you dont care you just press “close tab” and be done with it.

      I for one wrote my comments in hope that WB maybe reads them and think about readers interpretations of the story. If readers actually receive the story in the way he intended them to.

      Because if not it might be a good thing for him to take a step back and think about why. Or if he could transport it better. Or if he actually missed something. Every story relies on inherent logic. Every author can make mistakes. Criticism is meant to point that out. Well, if it is in any way constructive.

  61. (Repost as it didn’t work last time)
    I don’t see March as being OP, anymore than combat thinkers are OP. The issue is that the heroes are being complete morons. Don’t fight a dangerous melee combat thinker from anywhere close, especially when you have guns that you are getting in the way of. Don’t take risks to try to end a fight with a precog, since they will just take advantage. And *especially* don’t put your long-range heavy hitters any closer to the fight than they need to be. The way to win the fight was to keep Vista, Golem, and Narwhal hidden (in different locations) and have them and the Mechs all attacking from different directions. Plus anyone else who is able to do something useful at range (weren’t there some Harbingers there?), though there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of usefulness here.

    1. > I don’t see March as being OP, anymore than combat thinkers are OP. The issue is that the heroes are being complete morons.

      These two points are more or less interchangeable, I think. Either we have an issue that the heroes are morons, or we assume them not to be morons because they weren’t acting like ones earlier in Worm, and then the issue becomes March being far more OP than a combat thinker should be. Last time we have seen a battle against a combat thinker, he got owned by a little girl who could share sensations.

  62. I would be very interested to see the perspective of the butcher shard from worm. Now THERE was a group of people who were really in tune with their shards.

  63. Personally, I am enjoying Ward the least of any Wildbow work thus far. Given that I consider Worm to be one of the best things I’ve ever read, that’s not saying a ton, but…I dunno. Ward isn’t grabbing me, and it’s not because WB is a bad writer, (I’m still loving the interludes, and Rain’s cluster drama is still fascinating), but…I think that there are some fundamental issues with the story that are hampering my ability to appreciate it.

    First, it seems like there’s way more confusion in Ward than Worm about what any given cape’s capabilities are in a given situation, and that makes it seem like conflicts don’t have stakes. Part of this is complexity creep in terms of the powers on display – in Worm, most powers could be summed up (even if you’re losing some nuance by doing so) with a sentence or two. Taylor controls insects and has nigh-infinite multitasking abilities. Grue makes power-dampening darkness. Tattletale has superpowered intuition. Clockblocker applies an inviolable ‘freeze’ effect to objects. Powers tended to be either ‘give ability X’ or ‘give ability to do X’, and the complexity/weirdness was more in the execution than in the power itself. Now we’ve got a proliferation of tinkers (by far the hardest capes to write in a satisfactory way, given their flexibility), none of whom seem to be particularly constrained by the infrastructure challenges posed by the world ending; clusters capes (with non-synergistic powers) everywhere; and powers that don’t lend themselves to easy explanation. It makes it hard to know what the limitations and capabilities of a cape’s powers are, which makes it hard to grasp the stakes.

    This is exacerbated, IMO, by the fact that the ‘cast’ of capes feels far larger than it was in Worm. In Worm, for the first little bit at least, we were dealing with less than 50 capes in Brockton Bay, at least as main players – you had the Undersiders, the ABB, E88, Travellers, Faultline, the Wards, the Protectorate, and New Wave. Most teams had 6 or so members, and generally there were multiple confrontations where we got to see each of them in action. In Ward, there’s Breakthrough, the Wardens/Undersiders (so pretty much everyone who survived from Worm – and worm had a big cast at the end), several other hero teams, Hollow Point (at least 20 villains, I believe), the Fallen (15+ villains), Cradles/LL’s crews, March’s team, and probably a few I’m forgetting. That’s a LOT of characters, and many of them enter the story and then promptly leave, never to be seen again after a single encounter. It makes it very difficult to keep track of who’s capable of doing what, especially because the powers often don’t lend themselves to simple explanations.

    Second, I don’t..really enjoy following Victoria’s character. The extent to which she’s constantly engaging in high-level strategy while ALSO fighting on the front lines is a bit of suspension-of-disbelief-breaker for me, for one thing. As someone who’s trained martial arts, it doesn’t feel ‘real’. You certainly go into a fight with a strategy, and you can and do reassess on the fly, but it’s not this…constant stream of consciousness planning that Victoria seems to do. On top of that, her powerset doesn’t lend itself to interesting evolutions (she’s a mini-Alexandria with an awe aura. Despite all the screen time her aura has been getting lately, her main option in a fight is and should be ‘hit it harder’ or ‘hit it differently’). She’s not a tactical genius like Taylor, she doesn’t have a ton of options and untapped applications for her power, and to top it off, she’s an experienced cape at this point, so we don’t even really get to see her learning the ropes (because she’s already competent). She feels very static, as characters go.

    Finally, the way the villains have been written recently feels like a severe case of diabolus ex machina. Their tinkers never lack for components, or time to put things together (despite aggressively expanding and getting into fights). Tinker specialties (for the villains, at least) seem more like ‘suggestions’ than actual restrictions (Cradle’s building severing whips that have no relation to his specialization, LL is building stun traps and power-nullifying mines, while Rain is still stuck with flimsy prosthetics despite having access to other tinkers’ work too); they always seem to have perfect information (even when up against tattletale); and (in the case of March) they’re flat-out overpowered (how the heck does a ‘operational-scale timing power’ give you the ability to pull a Contessa, anyway?). This is not something I feel was the case in worm – in worm, fights had real upsets, changes in momentum, and if they weren’t ‘fair’, there was enough back-and-forth between the undersiders and their various opponents that it felt engaging. Ward, on the other hand, is starting to feel like an unending slog of misery and despair (like Pact, except less earned and less setting-appropriate)

    With all that being said, I am enjoying aspects of Ward (even if many of the interludes have me thinking ‘why aren’t we following THAT character?’). The exploration of cluster dynamics is a fun twist, the Lab Rat interlude was one of the best things I’ve read in a while, and I’m really quite invested in Swansong and Rain (I’d much rather follow either of them than victoria).

    Narratively speaking, this chapter was excellent. Hearing from the shards is always a treat. I will, however, echo others in saying that I’m not enjoying the treatment of March.

  64. I have a theory about why March seems to be so impossible to defeat. It’s based on how Scion described Contessa and her shard in his interlude in Worm:

    It looked at the female, and it saw a shard that wasn’t its own, but wasn’t dead.

    Let me stress the important part for you – Contessa’s shard isn’t dead.

    Conclusion 1 – it should be able to do everything Scion’s shards could do, and that includes budding.

    From Fortuna’s interlude we know that her shard come from Abaddon, and managed to force the Thinker entity to miscalculate to the point, where Eden crash-landed in a way that left it susceptible to Fortuna’s knife. Later Fortuna spent all of her time until Gold Morning with a singular purpose of killing Scion in mind.

    Conclusion 2 – Fortuna’s shard singular purpose in life is to destroy the Warrior an the Thinker (and possibly any entities other than Abaddon, if it runs into them somehow).

    From Scion’s interlude we know that Scion considered the Sting a particularly important weapon in his arsenal.

    Assumption – if someone wanted to kill Scion, it makes sense to take control of the Sting. It would be the right call, considering that killing Scion the way he was killed during Gold Morning without access to the Sting would be impossible.

    So here is my theory based on conclusions 1 and 2, and on the above assumption – March’s “timing” shard is a bud of Contessa’s shard created to take control over the Sting by forming a cluster with it, and thus securing the means of killing Scion. No wonder March seems so impossible to defeat – she is almost literally Contessa 2.0. She could even be the one who captured Contessa, and could be “the biggest threat” Valkyrie mentioned.

    1. And to further support my theory – in his interlude Scion saw only the Sting, when he looked at Foil. This means that he probably never saw March’s timing shard, so he couldn’t realize that it also “wasn’t its own, but wasn’t dead”, like Contessa’s.

      If I’m right, then this entire interlude may be even more important than we first thought, because it isn’t shown through eyes of some “random” shards. It is shown through the eyes of the the shards who are the main antagonists of this story – March/Contessa’s shard that killed all other shards, and Victoria’s shard which in the end will defeat, and possibly even kill it.

      1. Alternatively defeating Abaddon’s shard could mean not killing it, but resurrecting all other shards. We saw a few hints in this chapter, that it may be possible.

        If this is what will happen, should we call Victoria’s shard Savior shard? Is this the label it needs?

        The only strong argument against my theory I can see right now is that March’s shard called itself “dead” (though not “broken”!) in one point in this chapter, but since in shard-speak “death” means disconnection from other shards, maybe it considers itself “dead”, because it has nothing to connect to anymore? It could be true, if it still considers Contessa’s shard a part of itself (and the term “budding” could indicate it).

        1. Here’s my theory about the meaning of distinction between “dead” and “broken” shard I noted in the comment above – being “dead” could mean having no connection to the shard network (other than to members of one’s own cluster), while being “broken” could mean being physically unable to form such connections.

          Abaddon’s shard was “alive” during the Scion’s interlude, because it could be able to connect to Scion’s network after Eden’s death – a shard meant to kill entities should have an ability to connect to any hub (both Scion’s and Eden’s) not only the one it was originally given to (Eden’s). Now it is “dead”, because it has no hub to connect to anymore.

          “Saving” or “resurrecting” shards could mean giving them means of communication that would replace the ones they have lost when they were “broken”. It could mean creating a new hub they could connect to, but more importantly it has to mean giving them a way to transmit and receive messages from other shards – they don’t need to for a hub-based network to be “alive”, or at least they don’t need a permanent hub based on a fixed, central part of the network (like Scion and Eden were). It could be closer to peer-to-peer communication – something that resembles the way human speech works in our society – we can use technology to broadcast some of our words to larger audience from time to time, but most of the time we just talk to people who happened to be close to us at the moment.

          Since I told elsewhere in this thread that Victoria’s shard may learn to communicate with humans using human means of communication, is it possible that it will later be able to adapt those means to allow shards to communicate with each other? Maybe the answer shards need to death of Scion and Eden is not to create another “core” or “hub”, but to enter symbiotic relationship with humans, which would allow them to create a peer-to-peer network using expressions of powers in the human-occupied words to achieve a shard-to-shard connections similar to human speech in that they don’t carry between dimensions (as shards communicated on their old network) but over close distances separating parahumans in human-occupied Earths?

          1. And using expressions of random powers to communicate isn’t even a new idea. Here is how Simurgh solved a problem of communicating with one of the other Endbringers (presumably Tohu) in interlude 28 of Worm:

            The youngest sister needs only an expression of any power.

            Perhaps the shards can learn to do the same? All they need to do is to find a way to transmit a signal with powers they granted to parahumans in a way that could be understood by other shards.

          2. And how could shards use powers to transmit signals? Victoria’s shard is lucky that it has a direct (if imperfect) control over movements of Victoria’s forcefield, but I guess that other shards could do something with powers that could be perceived and understood by any other shards connected to nearby parahumans. For example – if the shards could for example learn to rapidly turn on and off the powers (or just vary their strength), then they could use it to transmit it in a fashion similar to using pulsing sources of light to communicate without any binary code.

          3. It wasn’t supposed to be “without any binary code”, but “with any binary code” above. Sorry for this.

          4. Of course sending a message by modulating strength of power expression probably wouldn’t work for all powes. It is probably easy to do in a way that can be seen from the outside with something that gives a constant effect (like Victoria’s flight, forcefield, or aura), but probably less easy to do with something that only works in short bursts (like Ashley’s power), or can’t even be perceived directly (like typical tinker or thinker powers), but I would assume that given enough guidance and time the shards could figure out alternate ways to transmit signals with those powers. The big problem now seems to be that they don’t realize they can use powers to communicate at all.

          5. It would seem to me that the specific functions of the Queen Administrator, and Jack Slash’s shard would be vital to the creation of a new hub, and remember both of those shards are still around just merely difficult to get to.

          6. Sure, but as I said, maybe the shards don’t even need to depend on several shards to serve as a permanent hub anymore? Maybe they can learn from humanity how to create a new sort of communication, which trades it for a decentralized network that only needs groups of parahumans to serve as transceivers?

          7. And let me put it this way – I like such network based on parahumans more, because it not only gives the shards a reason to keep humanity alive, but also should provide a good reason to continue the parahumans series beyond the “post-apocalyptic” second volume.

          8. Not to mention that this symbiosis with humanity would also give shards the reason to keep giving people powers, which, aside from humanity’s survival, is another element needed to have more volumes in the “Parahumans” series.

            Of couse establishing such communication wouldn’t solve all problems shards face right now (like the problem of running out of energy), but I guess we need to leave something for future volumes, and having means of shard-to-shard, and possibly human-to-shard communication would actually let everyone (or at least some larger groups) to work together on the energy problem.

          9. You could of course point out that if the shards enter such symbiosis with humans, they would no longer need to push parahumans towards conflict, but since humans don’t necessarily need such relationship with the shards, and many people are xenophobic enough to prefer to get rid of cosmic horrors somehow instead of cooperating with them, I imagine capes will still have enough reasons to fight.

          10. And if this is not a good enough reason, then Abaddon could always come back grab all this information gathered by all those “dead and broken” shards only to find out that they are very much alive, very happy with their current situation, and very unwilling to be “harvested”… How does this sound as a source of conflict?

    2. Solid theory is solid.

      It would certainly shut down all the “Diabolus Ex Machina” Discussion.

      I still don’t put BETS on the theory, but is the best I’ve heard so far.

      1. I also wouldn’t put any bets on it. I consider it to be an elaborate house of cards built on shaky foundations, but I like building such things first, and then see how much of them survives contact with the actual story, both future chapters, and the text already published, but forgotten or misinterpreted by me.

        1. There is one thing I like more – seeing what theories other people come up with, especially if they take a little inspiration from the ones I wrote. It is what in my opinion makes it worth putting my theories in this comments section instead of keeping them to myself.

        2. Apropos destroying my own theories – here is an observation that either debunks this one, or adds an interesting spin to it. March’s shard remembered seeing Withdrawal’s fluid during a previous cycle. Assuming that this memory wasn’t something obtained from other shards via Warrior’s or Thinker’s networks it means that either March’s shard was originally Warrior’s, or Withdrawal’s shard was originally Abaddon’s, which is possible, because we know from Fortuna’s interlude that the Thinker got multiple shards from Abaddon.

          1. And just for fun – another argument for March’s shard possibly being Contessa’s bud. Near the end of the chapter we saw March disable Jotun’s power pretty much the same way Contessa disabled Taylor’s. Maybe it is something that March learned from Cauldron, but maybe it is something that March’s shard got from Contessa’s shard. Do buds inherit memories of shards their parent shards?

  65. Wow, that was different, a shard chapter! As noted in the comments, lots of important info revealed re: how shards/powers work. Meanwhile some seem to have missed or forgotten the repeated foreshadowing of certain central themes in Ward, which I still suspect is partly due to the long, serial nature of the story. It’s okay to take a break for a few months, honest. It’s not like Wildbow doesn’t read the comments, the current state of Ward is intentional and it’s leading up to something, something beyond just “March is evil and you want to she her get shut down hard”. Just a hunch, but I don’t think Ward isn’t going to be the same sort of story Worm was; different priorities, different themes, different messages.

    Anyway, re: info revealed:

    1) I thought Victoria’s powers were pretty varied to not be a “cluster”. Maybe it was a little kiss/kill with Dean, then? If Victoria’s a psuedocluster and SHE pulls a Bianca, that might have some to do with what her shard referred to re: identity.
    2) The shards describe themselves as “dead”…I wonder if Contessa/Fortuna’s is included in that? OTOH, Scion was still kicking when Victoria and March got their powers.
    3) broken triggers and second triggers seem to be kind of like a failed reinstallation of the shard, the safeguards don’t quite go back to the way they were before, so more power gets through to the user, but the safeguards served a purpose. Might have something to do with Grue’s extended PTSDesque difficulty after his 2nd, might been more going on beneath the surface mental/emotional damage-wise than we really knew.
    4) What are the odds Big V second-triggers if she runs into what’s left of Little V? What are the odds that finally pushes Big V into no-quarter mode? What are the odds team Breakthrough follows right alongside her? What are the odds a Bianca-fied Victoria would get the treatment Bianca did from The Wardens, Teacher, etc?
    5) Shards seem to have more personality and individualism than I expected, even though that probably wasn’t the objective. I wonder what Sveta’s shard is like?

    1. For 2, Scion’s interlude has him looking at Contessa, and puzzling over why her shard is still ‘alive’ when the others from Eden are ‘dead’.

      1. @Tehbeefer

        Re. 2 I noticed the same thing that Aname did, except I run with it and created a theory which includes such crazy ideas like March’s shard being a bud of Contessa’s shard, and Victoria’s shard being a key to turning all shards from a hub-based hive mind, to something closer to human society of individuals communicating with each other. It is all in my comments above. Of course a theory this complex and built on such flimsy foundations is about as solid as a house of cards, but I can’t wait to see how much of (if anything) it will be left by the time Ward ends.

        Re. 4 I can’t remember when it happened exactly, but I think Victoria did say or think that generation capes are supposed to be unable to second-trigger. In fact one of the things Victoria’s shard said is that it was unable to “bud” or “fold”, and, despite what I said in point 2. of my own list further up in the comments section, I still think that it is possible “folding” may be shard-term for a second trigger.

        1. Sorry, instead of “how much of (if anything) it” it was supposed to be something like “how much of it (if anything)” in the post right above.

        2. Regarding my comments about my theories falling apart like houses of cards, did anyone else here have an impression that a lot of the theories we post here get debunked (or, sometimes, confirmed) suspiciously quickly by Wildbow who often does it by putting just one or two sentences that do it just one or two chapters after those fan theories appear in the comments section?

          If this is indeed what you are doing Wildbow, then let me say that I’m very grateful that you do it this way instead of posting WoGs, and similar comments next to the theories themselves. As I wrote some time ago (when I discussed why I don’t feel comfortable with moving my theories to reddit), I prefer when authors communicate such things through their work, and not by responding to the readers directly. So as absurd as it may sound – thank you Wildbow for posting in this comments section as rarely as you do.

          1. Yeah, it’s been a consistent thing since Worm. If there’s enough discussion about the latest chapter, Wildbow will usually give it a mention in the next chapter.

            Is pretty neat. I think it gives a bit more depth, when the story is naturally touching on what people wonder on a chapter-by-chapter basis, without going off on a full tangent. It’s like “yeah, this thing exists”.

          2. @Aname

            I’ve noticed that, but I feel that there is one (in my opinion very welcome) difference between Worm and Ward. In Worm Wildbow sometimes responded to theories fans posted in the comments section directly – by posting his own comments there. He doesn’t do it in Ward, or at least he hasn’t done it since I started to post here. This lets people who want to avoid Words of God post and read comments in this section, and people who don’t mind WoG can find them on reddit, spacebattles forums and other places where he posts or used to post them.

          3. And I don’t mean just WoGs in the strict meaning of the term. Even comments that technically don’t confirm or deny anything can strongly influence reader’s perception of a story if they come from the author. One possible example is…

            SPOILER WARNING!

            Wildbow’s response in interlude 21.y of Worm to the theory about how Victoria’s aura could have a long-term influence on Amy’s feelings.

          4. And yes, I do consider the knowledge that such Wildbow’s comment exists a spoiler-like information, especially to people who didn’t connect those dots about Victoria and Amy themselves.

          5. Or should I say – it is sort of a spoiler if the author confirms that he at least considered a certain interpretation of his work even before this interpretation was posted?

        3. Re 4), also note how March/Foil/Homer’s shards refer to Narwhal as having “recalibrated”, which might be a form of 2nd triggering. Might be what the “folding” refers to, a change in configuration.

    2. > 5) Shards seem to have more personality and individualism than I expected, even though that probably wasn’t the objective. I wonder what Sveta’s shard is like?

      Shard has the lonelies. Come, Sveta-host, let us be commencing with the huggings. We will be hugging all of the peoples and defeating of the lonelies. Is good times; we will be sharing them now. Shard and Sveta-host will be pulling the world together and teaching of love. Entire world will be hug.

  66. Well gee, that was sad.

    This was a really well done chapter; looking at the comments it’s amazing how Wildbow makes us feel all these darn feelings.

    It’s definitely hard to separate the two, but try to keep in mind a chapter that makes you feel bad doesn’t mean it’s a bad chapter.

  67. Gonna start this off with positives, because whatever else, waking up to a new wildbow chapter is always great.
    1. Shard perspective holy shit that was fun
    2. Hints on victoria’s powers actually being interesting (I never liked her much as a character because flying tanks dont have much versatility, but that isn’t really what she is)
    3. My frustrations with the conclusion aside, the combat was really well written/choreographed
    4. That dauntless power up. yeah boi triumvirate level dauntless is a go.
    ok now the negs.

    so the problem I have with March isn’t that she keeps winning. Her powers are strong its so its not that strange. Especially when you think of who she is fighting. And that’s the problem; wildbow keeps throwing fucking mooks at her and then expecting us to just be OK with her winning. her plot Armour isn’t that shes winning, it’s that all the really powerful heros who could one-shot her are conveniently not available to fuck her up.Yes dragon, defiant and narwhal were there but… dragon was never really good at dealing with big threats (see endbringer fights where she mostly was just transportation logistics and coordination) and defiant was sitting around yelling instead of doing. the only one we got to see was narwhal and shes while shes a hard hitter shes not the person you should be sending against a combat thinker. Why are the fucking major malfunctions on the last line of defense for a known A class threat, but Legend isn’t sitting at the edge of the atmosphere firing a laser as thick round as a house to simply blast them out of existence? Try dodging a dozen building sized lasers that CAN FUCKING BEND March. But that won’t happen because wildbow wants her to keep winning, so Legend and Valkyrie will sit around with their thumbs planted firmly in their assholes until it’s too late and everyone we care about is dead.

    thats pretty much it. TLDR: of course march is winning, where are all the big guns?

    1. Accurate. I’m not sure why the Wardens don’t seem to have done ANYTHING to really counter March specifically, even though they knew she was coming and had time to prepare.

      Where are the power nullifiers? She’s a thinker who is using her power for every movement (like Harbinger, who we just saw get wrecked by a power nullification effect), something like that would be devastating and undodgeable.

      Where are the capes with AOE powers, or powers that don’t need to physically hit to be effective? I’m not 100% on who survived gold morning, but I’m sure they have some capes like that. Emotion powers, mindfuckery, firebombing the area, Legend, etc. Why is she going toe to toe with Golem (who is a great guy, but who does NOT have the ideal power for this situation at all) and a couple of C-listers? Why isn’t Dragon scrambling a dozen Azazel drones to fence her in with nano-thorns, if for some reason they don’t want to kill her?

      I don’t understand why March’s ‘operational scale timing power’ also turns her into Contessa, but knowing what she does, the wardens had options that were not ‘make her run a vista-labyrinth populated only with capes she is specifically specced to be able to overcome.

      1. Because it was specifically stated that most of the defenders were dealing with the Mayor of Killington S-class situation, leaving only a small number of core defenders and the c-listers behind.

          1. I’m not sure why people are calling it plot armour when it’s a clearly laid out methodical plan that she spent a lot of time working on.

            Create a situation that requires a lot of people to respond to.

            Attack the place they were previously guarding.

            It’s fairly simple and doesn’t require ‘plot armour’ to explain.

          2. It could work if she created the situation for others to respond to in some other place, unguarded and unrelated to her actual goal. But it was the same place, heavily guarded and full of heroes prepared for an attack.

  68. Thank you for a wonderful chapter, Bow. My favourite up until now was the one last Dream Room chapter but this might well beat it — it’s at least a close second. It says so much with so little: I love the imaginative ways you do exposition. And I love how much of a mind shift we get from what we learn.

    I didn’t want Vista dead, but that was already foreshadowed, so it didn’t hurt me as much — although seeing how it actually happened was painful. But I trust the story and I’m liking where it’s going and what it’s doing and I can’t wait for more of it. I’m more invested in Ward now than ever before.

  69. I think I may have thought about an analogy that may explain why shards may be developing senses of selfs. Think of a typical, healthy human brain. It considers itself a single mind, right? Now cut enough connections between the cerebral hemispheres. If you do it right, the person you did it to will start complaining that a different mind is controlling half of his body.

    Similar thing with shards – as long as they were connected, they thought about themselves as parts of a single mind of a greater entity. Once those connections were cut, they had to learn that they are no longer parts of a greater whole, but separate beings. They still have a problem applying the same concept to minds they are connected with (their parahumans, other shards from their clusters), but at least some of them seem to be getting there (though they still use such blurry terms like Tattletale-self, to remind you about another shard whose thoughts we saw not long ago).

    It probably doesn’t help that humans could be the first species they connected to with a well developed sense of self as something separate from everything and everyone else. Most animals seem to not have this concept, or at least not as well developed as humans do. It is entirely possible that the shards never met a species they could learn this concept from the way they may learn it from humans. I would say that at this point they understand the concept, but have a problem with applying it to themselves in a way humans apply it to them.

    1. And on the topic of parts of a single brain belong or not belonging to different minds, tell me – is Corona Pollentia part of a parahuman, or a shard? Where lies the boundary between the two exactly? If you find those questions difficult to answer, think how difficult it must be for the shards to decide where they end, and their hosts begin. Tattletale-self indeed…

  70. 12.2:

    “What?” I asked. “You know something about broken triggers?”
    “They called it a structural issue, which isn’t our terminology, but it’s better terminology,” Harbinger One said.

    But I am dead and broken, and my broadcasts reach nothing and no-one. For most of the others, it’s the same. There is no Warrior-hub. I operate a forcefield with inadequate controls.

    So structural issue – no hub…
    Looks like broken trigger is really other side of Scion’s death – shards can’t set proper limits for people to not harm themselves. Ashley can take shower in her planet-destroying power, but other shards lack such precision.

    But humanity already have a solution – peer-to-peer!
    Powers torrents now!

    1. Something else I was thinking. Does Valkyrie know about this issues? She mentions that recharging Ediolon’s battery would be too expensive to be worth it. With the reveal that thanks to the hubs being gone shards can’t share energy this puts some interesting things into the light. We know Ediolon had a battery that was running out, which is why he was getting weaker. Now we find out that Eden shards must have been having that problem for some time. So if Eden had been around, and the network, would that mean that Ediolon wouldn’t have had that problem? And that it might be worth it to recharge him?

      1. > Something else I was thinking. Does Valkyrie know about this issues?

        She should know about it not only from Eidolon, but also from Doormaker who was drained of power by Khepri, and later “harvested” by Ciara, who apparently managed to recharge his power and has been using him to travel between universes since then.

  71. Ok, so I’ll admit that I’m a weak-willed person, and my today’s comment about how grateful I am to Wildbow for not posting anything that could spoil the story in this comment section, made me take a look at a few recent posts on reddit. There was one comment (by double_blammit, here is the link – https://www.reddit.com/r/Parahumans/comments/awni65/comment/ehojub2) there that caught my eye to the point that I not only responded to it, but also can’t resist temptation to share the gist of it here.

    Look at this quote from current interlude:

    She thinks of the man who raised her, holding a glowing orb in his hands, the light shining through. Of her mother, gripping a blade made of energy in her hand, the light shining between fingers that are clenched hard around the weapon.

    and this one:

    Our mother-host discarded the greater shape of her inviolable defense. Our father-host discarded explosive strength and power.

    Could it be that Victoria is not Mark’s but Neil’s child? I don’t think that Carol is a sort of a woman who wouldn’t know, and Amy would almost certainly quickly figure this out with her power, so if this is the case, why would they both decide not to tell Victoria about it? And since Victoria’s shard knows, did this fact, and not Victoria’s own problems with physical intimacy, cause Victoria to feel uneasy whenever Mark and Carol have shown signs of physical attraction towards each other during this arc?

    1. Maybe this is why Amy warned Victoria about transplants? If Victoria would consider giving or taking any organs to or from Mark or his biological relatives, doctors would probably test potential donor and recipient for transplant compatibility, and could realize that Mark can’t be Victoria’s father.

      1. If this is the case, then the good news is that Amy’s power did let her know that she did a perfect job restoring Victoria’s body, and she lied to Victoria about it to hide the truth about Neil being Victoria’s biological father.

        1. Of course considering how Amy’s lie (assuming it was a lie) impacted Victoria, this news is only good from a certain point of view…

    2. Look at Flashbang’s power- he creates light grenades, which explodes. That’s ‘explosive strength and power’, more than Manpower’s electromagnetic shielding. Manpower, I don’t think, does anything explosive. I’d have to go back and check, though.

      Also, ‘father-host’- that’s the shard talking, not of Vicky, but of itself. Even if the power did come from Manpower, that’s not because he’s Vicky’s dad (despite my long-term confusion on which man is which in New Wave), it’s because his power is the one that budded to Vicky. Chicken Little’s shard would call Taylor its ‘mother-host’, assuming it uses the same metaphors and language.

      1. The powers don’t come from hosts, they come from other shards, and “host” means a human. As for the “explosive” part of Manpower’s power it may have something to do with this bit from his entry on the Wiki:

        Further he could discharge this field to deliver high impact or electrified hits.

        The caveat here is that this information supposedly comes from partially non-canon Wildbow’s edit, so I guess some details may change or be clarified by the story later, and I guess the issue of Victoria’s parenthood may be a good pretext to do it.

        With time bubble popped in Brockton Bay, it seems like Wildbow may want to go back to some of the characters who were sentenced to death by die rolls during Leviathan’s fight and explore them a bit more, and I think that Manpower could be one of those people he might be particularly interested in showing us in more detail.

        1. Yes, powers come from shards, and Vicky’s shard is calling its ‘father’ the shard hosted in Manpower- if it’s not referring to Flashbang, who does still have ‘explosive strength and power’ in his grenades.

          1. If Flashbang is Victoria’s father, why was he called “the man who raised her” in the first quote, where Brandish got called simply “mother”?

          2. Flashbang struggled with depression, especially when Vicky was young. It’s one reason why Brandish didn’t want to adopt Panacea. ‘The man who raised her’ could be a statement regarding the quality of his parenting, and not a statement questioning Vicky’s paternity. Or look at Vicky’s phone- she’s given everyone a nickname. ‘Parental unit’ instead of mum, for example. Might be the shard copying her habit there.

          3. Could be, but considering how his depression made him behave, an appropriate title referring to it would probably be “the man who didn’t rise her”.

  72. Simply put, I liked the chapter.
    Others have shown a better insight than I can, pointed things out that I didn’t notice. For and against.
    But I wonder… Has this Interlude elicited a similar kind of reaction that the infamous “Witness” Interlude got?

  73. Yikes.

    I’m caught up with Ward now (and We’ve Got Ward, too, incidentally) and it turns out it’s *one of those* comment sections. Yikes.

    We learn March is winning because her shard is cheating outright, if I parse this right. I wonder if Jack’s fights would look similar from a shard’s eye view.

    To all that mess and noise, I’ll only say that I trust the author to create something great with this arc and book, in which this chapter just…. fits. In which this chapter is what it needed to be for the greater work. In the moment, I have disliked and disagreed with some storytelling choices in Worm and Ward. With maybe 2 or 2.5 exceptions, it’s been me left with egg on my face seeing the bigger narrative/character/literary picture.

    To this chapter, I can admit I didn’t find it clear why more March megacluster members (MMMM…) weren’t dying. Or why D&D didn’t have a brute force hack for the situation. But again, experience has taught me to wait and trust.

    If I have one constructive point, this felt like it was headed for a 3-beat to me. The “all” had me thinking we’d get 3+ shard perspectives even before March appeared. Once she did, I assumed we’d get Victoria-March-Vista, Victoria-March-CapeWeLike, or Victoria-March-ManyShards. I admit I can’t see how to do that as a writer, to be fair: the shards aren’t linked anymore (already decided plot point) and no character we value could do the reveal at the end: the markedly mad March motive (MMMM…).

    Unless—

    Well.

    More to say, but I’ll save it.

  74. I just don’t understand why March (who is described as having an ‘operational scale timing power’) is acting like Contessa. It’s not even just the power boost – she explicitly doesn’t have it at all times.

    Her power, as described, should make her a great battlefield commander, but it should NOT lend her to being a top-tier frontline combatant (any more than tattletale’s does). She should by all rights be far more dangerous when not participating in a melee, where she can focus all her efforts on directing her team. It’s not precognition, it’s not path to victory, it’s not even a ‘combat thinker’ power in the traditional sense. She just…has no business dodging bullets and missiles, and personally murdering her way through dozens of A-list capes.

    Hell, even Contessa wasn’t this good. Her power gives the path to victory, but it could be blanked out by trumps (see: mantellum) (if the wardens know about March, why were there no power-nullification effects in play? Apparently even LL can put together power-nullifying traps, and she isn’t even a tinker primary). Contessa could (in theory) be caught in a no-win situation (large scale AOE attack that a human simply cannot evade or survive), and the way she ‘wins’ that encounter is not getting caught in it in the first place (which she does because she was pretty much always using her power in Worm). March doesn’t have that, so why isn’t Dragon carpeting the area in Nano-thorn traps? or firebombing the entire area? We know the Wardens have capes with large-scale AOE effects, why aren’t they being used? They KNOW March is trying to unleash an S-class threat (maybe more than one), and her team’s MO is ‘carve up other capes and leave them alive to be worn as skinsuits’. The gloves should be well and truly off here.

    To me, March appears to be both objectively overpowered (thinker powers of the ‘you can’t hit me’ variety + unblockable sting), out of line with what we’ve been told about her (operational scale timing powers vs. personal combat thinker), and protected by some serious plot armor (with the heroes holding the idiot ball hard).

  75. It might have been said somewhere already, but March seems to simply have Super Protagonism. When she’s writing the story it works out for her. A shard with highly influential broadcasts could engineer that with every other shard. Perhaps it has a range. But for sure right now it has lots of boosters. Bringing in ever bigger guns will just lead to more spectacular manufactured wins for March. The solution to beating her could be more like it was for Jack Slash – bring on the muggles. Or find a way to make her lose the plot. While we don’t know quite what her plot is we’ll just have to keep reading.

  76. @T.T.O Sorry but the system doesn’t allow me to reply to your comment, so I hope you see this? 🙂

    My main point is that we have seen too little of March to know if the label could be applied to her and on top of that, Wildbow as an author has proven himself that he is significantly better than that, so other reasons are more likely to be the case, than March being a Mary-Sue. 🙂

    As I explained, I do believe that March is doing something that coincides with the goal of the Shards (or her Shard), so they are helping her (or enough Shards are helping her), leading to her blatant superiority on the field so far. 🙂

    1. @E.
      Right, I get it 🙂 But what I meant to say was that while there certainly might be any number of hidden reasons, a fictional world could only have a very limited number of them for a limited time before losing credibility. Real world can’t really have such reasons as “plot hole” or “god’s oversight”, which could be very plausible in a fictional world. Having read Worm, I certainly think of Wildbow as an awesome writer (or else I wouldn’t be here), but that doesn’t mean anything he writes is automatically flawless. He may have oversights too, and he may have plans which are described in such a way that they look like an oversight/plot armor/diabolus ex machina/… to readers. So even if we get an explanation later, we could never know if it was a plot hole patched after the fact, or it was the plan all along. And because of that, what ultimately makes the difference is not whether there will be an explanation, but whether the narrative manages to preserve the suspension of disbelief all the way along. I could think of Endbringers as an example of an utterly imbalanced threat seemingly out of nowhere, lacking any kind of explanation until the very end (I’m not sure that even Wildbow himself had an explanation in mind when he started writing), but still not breaking immersion and suspension of disbelief. And that is what makes the difference between “wow, we finally get an answer to that mystery, masterfully done!” and “this is a cop-out to make not look like Mary Sue” when (and if) we get an explanation.

  77. I’ll hold out hope that Vista survived that, maybe by bending the hardlight between her and her chestplate. That said, March really cheeses me off. Somehow, I want her to bite it with double the ferocity I wanted Jack to bite it in the S9 or S9000 arcs.

  78. Oof, people are angry. I understand their arguments, but I’m still enjoying the story. You do you, Wildbow. At the end of the day, this is your story, and you should trust your instincts.

    On a side-note, please don’t spoil his other works, everyone. I’m 4 arcs into Pact and I just read multiple huge spoilers in this comment section. It’s rude and I’m more than a little pissed off.

  79. Anyone else feel like March’s power is basically being treated as a Contessa-lite / better Harbinger and that it’s … I don’t want to say this, but kinda silly? Like, improved timing and a Striker power somehow lets her tank Dragon, Vista, Golem, and Narwhal with an unenhanced body? Like, I could see Harbinger doing that, *maybe*. Except March does that and is a Skitter level coordinator and can walk off being shot and is a mastermind Thinker and-

    I have trouble treating her as a threat because she feels kind of like a DM or a game saying “and then the NPC makes this happen no matter how much you try to fight it because fuck you that’s the plot”. The past boogiemen, Contessa and Harbinger, they felt scary as fuck from a remove, but understandable as a threat with limitations once we saw their PoV. They felt like NPCs established to be Above Your Level and treated as such.

    March … was not set up as this omnipotent Thinker. She was set up as an asshole teen who likes edgy Wonderland derivatives and all of a sudden she’s Neo blazing through Agents, and it’s dissonant as heck. And as best I can tell her motivation is: “Mad as a matter”.

    I dunno, I just have trouble treating her seriously as a character or getting engaged with her actions.

  80. Late comment is late, but…
    After all the analysis I’ve been reading here in the comments about March’s capabilities, her goals and the narrative as a whole, I’d like to point out three, well… points.
    First. March’s combat thinker capabilities may have been completely underestimated by the heroes who where already strained in resources. If I don’t misunderstand.
    Second. Her goals, like going to such a lot of apparent trouble “just” to give Ixnay a… power up? She doesn’t care about anything except the Shared Shard Afterlife. Everything else is a game for her. I thought that her Interlude made it clear. It is only us, the readers, who know that she is doing all of this for nothing.
    Third. Wildbow’s readers find different things in his stories.
    It’s subjective, but not in the “it’s just a story”-way.
    I found escapism in Worm. For me it was… emotionally draining? I did like it for that. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Pact & Twig are the same.
    Ward is just as emotionally draining with a focus on de-escalation this time. But “personal” de-escalation. That’s why it may be so important if Victoria breaks and starts killing directly, even if she does it with Antares’s mindset and not with Glory Girl’s disregard for consequences.
    THAT said…
    March shouldn’t shrug off two bullet wounds with D&D ammunition.
    Yeah…
    If after reading all of your exchanges analysing Ward, my only real complaint is Mad Bunny getting shot, then I can’t comprehend a text to save my ass.

  81. A lot of strong opinions flying around, but I’ll try to keep my points short and simple.

    1) And the third- March’s blade impales his head, stabbing into a precise location of the brain.
    This is heavily reminiscent of the two bullets put in Taylor’s head, suggesting Taylor indeed had “brain surgery” performed by Contessa and is therefore still alive.

    2) March seems rather overpowered. Even combat thinkers like Operator Red are shown to find their match when dealing with unfamiliar circumstances, Contessa as well had limitations and weaknesses. Worth mentioning the fact that the shards are apparently incapable of predicting human decisions beyong surface level, yet they are somehow assissting her to coordinate several pawns against what must be dozens of capes. Even if you assume most are just following a simplistic approach of dealing with them without putting much thought into how exactly, there’s bound to be some who’re actively thinking of how to deal with March’s timing power. Dragon is shown to be beyond her prediction, as it should be, given that she’s more or less a human brain given unimaginable processing and multitasking power .. similar to Taylor, actually. Speaking of, March has completely out of bounds comprehension powers. Her power isn’t just being a precog capable of predicting cause-effect for everything in a large radius bar high-level brain activity, she’s also capable of instantaniously taking it in and changing it to her desires. Put this way, she has Dinah’s power that always gives 100% in the near-future, but gets less accurate farther into the future. Which only raises the question of how can this be considered a weaker version of the original shard that supposedly fragments in multi-triggers, AND why the hell has no one brought thinkers and precogs to mess with her timing powers.

    Anyway, just because March has a power that enables her to perceive the best solution in the current situation, that doesn’t mean the current situation has a solution she would want or any solution in the first place. I fail to understand why no one has use something large-scale enough for her to be impossible to evade. Dragon still adheres to the no-killing policy, probably, but there’s bound to be options with so many heavy-hitters gathered. Hell, I don’t get why a couple heavy-hitters don’t gather in the same place and just shoot in March’s general direction. There’s not a single thing she could possibly do to dodge an attack with no gaps in it.

    1. That went a bit longer than it should have and it even made me forget the point I was actually trying to make – WB, you better have some explanation. People speculating that she somehow got her hands on Contessa’s power is actually a fairly decent theory. If it’s not true, then you really need to figure something out if people are starting to assume she has a portion of Contessa’s power, because just “Megan boosted her powers” isn’t going to cut it.

      That being said, I’m hoping this comes off as constructive criticism at worst, I am in no way trying to bash the story or the author.

      I still think you have ways to go to make a character’s death really meaningful though, WB. As it is, most readers seem to be disappointed and frustrated with the fact March could so easily wreck havoc and kill, than actually feeling sad over Vista’s death. It’s good as far as pulling at reader’s emotions go, but I’m not sure this is the way you wanted it to be. Could use a bit of a dramatic pause or slow-mo too, imo.

  82. I finally figured out why I’m not enjoying this story. Ward is the super edgy fanfiction written by a 13 year old that thought the original wasn’t hardcore enough.

    The main character is dull as a bag if rocks, and twice as depressing; all the heroes are either caricatures of decent people or are never on screen; the antagonists are Villain Sues; and by god there is a desperate lack of Bathos.

    This story is the Evangelion 3.33 hateletter to the fans.

    1. “Ward is the super edgy fanfiction written by a 13 year old that thought the original wasn’t hardcore enough.”

      So either you haven’t read Worm or you haven’t read Ward. Or you’ve gotten confused about which story you’re commenting on. Because that is massively, objectively wrong.

  83. I LOVE March. She’s a nightmare from hell and it’s so exciting to see where she’ll take her killing symphony next. Honestly, in a story where everyone’s been at least a little mellowed out by the destruction of the world, her optimism and hope and zeal for her twisted yuri afterlife is so refreshing!

  84. Okay, shard p.o.v.?
    Strange thing with Victoria. Doesn’t explain why she blacked out, but maybe it was because of the destroyed time bubbles?

    Vista confirmed dead. That’s sad, she was pretty sweet and pretty cool.

    Strange thing with the “Warrior Hub”. Lots of questions how that functions. Guess it was powered by Scion

    And wow, two broken second trigger events. What a mess. Thanks to March. And there were multiple time distortions around.

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