Sundown – 17.5

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“To recap again,” Amy’s voice came through the screen.  “On our side of the call, we have myself, Flashbang, Marquis, and two gentlemen from the local government, who I’m told you’ve met, Victoria.  Luis and Gabin.”

Fuck you, I thought.

My mother answered, “On our end, to name people familiar to you, we have the family, Vista, Narwhal, and two more people from the Wardens.”

“Oh, I didn’t know Vista was there.  I hope you’re doing well, Vista.”

Fuck you, I thought.  This isn’t a social function.

“I’ll be happier when we’ve ensured everyone’s safe,” Vista said, a little more terse than she had been earlier.

“We can work on that,” Amy sounded encouraged, when I wouldn’t have told her to be, given Vista’s tone and pure focus on the business at hand.  “The situation is that you’ve got the Machine Army on your doorstep and it’s been there for a while.  Shin has serious concerns about Gimel’s problems becoming their problems, because you guys don’t have the best track record of keeping your messes contained.”

You don’t have the best track record of keeping your own shit contained, Amy.  Who the fuck do you think you are, saying that?

“Having a giant with interdimensional powers stomping through the city and our quarantine hurts the containment of our mess,” Narwhal said, from ten feet away.

Narwhal’s response had been loud enough that the microphone apparently caught it, because Amy responded.  “Essential traces of the person he was are still intact.  Chevalier wanted to take care of people, protect, hold the line.  So does the Gibborim Knight.  That’s all he wants.”

“Is that because you brainwashed him?”

Multiple heads turned my way.  I didn’t look at them, instead staring at the screen.

“I don’t brainwash people, Victoria.  That implies there was a brain to wash.  He was a blank slate.  We brought out the traits and aspects that make him want to work with us.”

“My mistake,” I said.  “You’re right.”

Fuck you.  I had to resist mouthing the words.

The screen showed four giants of Amy’s creation.  One giant from the past, Dauntless.

A marker showed Chevalier’s team on the map, making his own approach.  I had no idea what even an elite team of Wardens could do, but they were apparently planning to get involved on some level.  Or planning on being there to mitigate the damage.

“Borders are sovereign,” Narwhal said.  “We’re in a state of emergency, and I know for a fact you know that, because you helped us arrange accommodations for more than a million refugees.  You can’t move a massive power that you have untested control over through our city-”

“Evacuated city,” Amy said.

“Partially evacuated.  And still sovereign, sensitive territory,” Narwhal retorted.

“The diplomats are talking,” my father said.  “One moment?”

“Of course,” Narwhal told him.

Amy started to say something, but someone put them on mute, or took them off ‘talk’.

Nobody asked or signaled to put us on mute.  We stood where we stood, all of us gathered around the one desk, sitting or standing by chairs, leaning against a wall in Narwhal’s case.  My mom sat off to the left of the desk, partially in the aisle.

I looked up at the screen.  The ‘Gibborim Knight’ was there, still fashioning its armor, still trudging forward.  It had built boots to cover its feet, which had been sandals before, and was building cross-straps for its chest.  The expression it wore was a focused, determined one, even as its face broke apart into three transparent versions.

“The snark isn’t helpful,” Narwhal told me, her voice low, too quiet for even the people at the desk to hear.

“Snark?” I asked, matching her in volume.  I thought back.  “No.  Not at all.  I wouldn’t play games.”

“I certainly hope not,” she said.  “This is diplomacy.”

I kept my voice quiet, “Amy wants to hear that she’s right more than she cares about the accusation.”

“This isn’t about her.  This is about the very real, present, and unknown danger to the city.  Please.”

“It’s the same thing in my view.”

She stood straighter, which was imposing given her height, build, and the way she was covered in a ‘winter coat’ of forcefield crystals.  Not in the sense of a jacket-type coat, but of an animal’s thicker fur.  “And I would prefer to keep them as separate focuses.  We compartmentalize, isolate the problem and fix it.”

“I understand wanting to do that, but I’m… pretty sure you won’t be able to.  I was acting preemptively, I’ll avoid doing that.  I’ll be quieter.  But if my instincts are right, we’ll reach a point where things get messy.  Signal me if you want me to try to curb the messy.”

“Can you?” she asked.

“She’s a damaged individual with a lot of power and one thing she wants that isn’t in line with what Shin-”

“We’re back,” Mark said.

“We’re here,” Narwhal said, turning away from her conversation with me, folding her arms.

“I would summarize their stance as a very pointed ‘Gimel established a precedent’, with our cape concerns and business trampling their sovereignty and security.  I just got two signals of confirmation from them.”

“This is willful and dangerous.  We’ve been on good terms in recent days, some minor incidents aside.”

“We’re interested in continuing the trend of recent days,” Amy said.  “Shin’s desire has been to make things more fair from a power standpoint.  You guys were happy to throw your weight around with powers and theoretical military might.  You had the ability to send special forces out to handle crises elsewhere, in places that weren’t the city.  Now we can do the same.”

“The diplomats are nodding their heads,” my dad said.  “They’re in agreement.”

Narwhal asked, “For right now, can you stop it?  All power use, all movement?  The Dauntless Titan is mobilized, and we have no idea how threatening it is.  It might be picking a fight, tapping your giant knight for power, or creating a confluence of power that disrupts everything.”

“Stopping it could be more dangerous.  Let’s get him to his destination, and he can begin his work.  We think he can cut back the Machine Army in a way you guys haven’t been able to.  If the Dauntless Titan fights him, isn’t it better if it happens in the old Earth than in your city?”

“At the edges of a quarantine zone?” Narwhal asked.  “No.  Not at all.”

“If this fails, we have other options.  I can use my power.  A disease to infect the machines and sweep over our old Earth and the Machine Army.”

Narwhal approached the desk, leaning over it, and looked over at Carol.  “That makes no sense.”

“A day ago, you probably would have said the Shin Defense Initiative made no sense,” Amy rebutted.

“If you recall, Red Queen, I’ve named at least three good reasons why your giants make no sense and are exceptionally dangerous in the current predicament.”

“The government on our side feels differently,” Amy said.

“You seem… very intent on charging forward with this.  Is it to provide a proof of concept?  A demonstration of strength?  Assuming the giants were safe and totally out of control, pretending for the moment that the Dauntless Titan wasn’t on the approach, and assuming a hypothetical where the Machine Army was an immediate and present threat, an equal power relationship would involve discussion and compromise.”

“Not equal,” Amy said.  “Fair.

On her side of the call, no doubt harder to make out than Narwhal had been for them to make out, I could hear a male voice.  I imagined Luis, the smartly-dressed black man with the umbrella who had been in Goddess’s company, who had kind of fucked us over with the Shin prison thing.  Him or the other guy.

“Luis says ‘Just’,” Amy translated.

Fuck you.

“Can you elaborate on your stance?” Narwhal asked.

“If you’ll give me a second, I’ll translate,” my father said.

“Thank you.”

I had a bad feeling.  It was hard to put my finger on.

If I had to, if I was challenged to, I kind of felt like the way Amy had said ‘just‘ was the kind of way the old me would have said it.  The old me who had faced down a human trafficker that had coerced and sold teenage girls into prostitution and knocked his literal teeth out.

‘Just’ was only a good word if the person leaning on them felt like they were making the concession.  I want to see her die burning, but I have to grudgingly admit that would be wrong and barbaric.  Ten years in prison and a course toward rehabilitation is ‘just’.  Justice.

But if it came from the top, from a place of paramount power, from a place of satisfaction, then ‘just’ changed from ‘justice’ to ‘justification’.  Justification for revenge.  Justification for wrongs.

My dad explained, “Luis says he speaks for the rest of this world with this.  The Wardens, Megalopolis, and Megalopolis government have had years now to demonstrate how to act when holding the reins of power.  Now they intend to use this as a model.  This is their justice.  We have four giants, and any one of those giants could be a match for one of your teams.  We have six more on the way right now, they’ll be done in a matter of four hours.  By this time tomorrow we can have ten.  By the end of the week, it will be fifteen.”

He sounded a little awed by what he was relaying.  No doubt he had Amy beside him, looking confident.

Was it only now sinking in?

What are you doing, dad?

What are you thinking?

Narwhal strode over to another desk, leaning over to talk to a tech.

“Are you there?” Amy asked.

“Yes,” Narwhal’s voice came over our speakers, as she spoke through a microphone at the other desk.

On the screen above, the map of Shin changed, indicating more icons like the ones we’d used for the giants.  Each had a timer above them.

“Give us a moment,” my mom told them.

“Of course,” my dad said.

I saw the ‘mute’ button appear on the monitor on the desk.

“Brandish,” Narwhal called out.


“Miss Militia’s notes say Shin places a high emphasis on family.”

“They do.  I saw it when I was there.”

“If you can have a pleasant conversation with your husband, and if you’re comfortable being open in front of this many people-”

“I can.”

“It wouldn’t be out of place for a businessman to break from business to tend to a child, or to call a wife about an errand.  It would even make them appear stronger.  It’s part of the reason Flashbang is on the call.”

“I’ll do that.”

“Only do it if you can keep it pleasant and positive.”


The mute button disappeared.

“I’ve missed you, Mark.  You’ve missed things.”

Was my mom thinking about last night’s conversation?  Sins of decades past?

“I can imagine,” my dad said.  “Packed up and moved for the evacuation?”

“Our things are packed.  I’m staying at our niece’s apartment, we’re packing.  We saw my sister this morning.”

A pause.

“…Through valkyrie?”

“Valkyrie.  We had a very emotional conversation, reuniting.  Crystal was there.  Victoria too, but she had other reunions too.”

“I-I have missed things.  What do I even say to that?”

“Wow,” I heard Amy say.  “I didn’t think she’d finish that project.”

Was it just me, that felt like that line was so alien, intrusive, and out of place?

Vista turned in her chair, giving me a brief weirded-out look.

Thank you, Vista.  You’re a gem.  I appreciate you being freaked out by that more than I can tell you.

“Well, she did,” Carol said.  “I’m sorry you both missed the reunion.”

“Was Mike there?”

“No, they weren’t able to get in touch.  I would love to have you and him there for a future meeting.  You’re doing good work there, Mark.”

Amy’s voice cut through, “How was she?  Aunt Sarah.”

“As well as could be expected,” my mom said.  “Considering her death and rebirth.”

“I wish I could check on her.  On all of you.”

Fuck you, I thought.

“There’s no need,” my mother said.

“There’s some need, mom.  You’re still not better.  You left abruptly to look after Victoria.  Victoria?”

I wanted to jump in, deliver a biting line about Hunter, asking if she’d healed her yet.  I wanted to attack Amy, to tear her down, get past all of those layers of defenses, with the benefit of the fact that she couldn’t reach me here, and that I didn’t have to look at her.  Shout at her, scream at her, point out her flaws in logic, put her on the defensive, and put my metaphorical boot through that defense.

“I’m here.  What is it?” I asked.

“Is mom walking without difficulty?  Is the head injury healed?”

“That’s a bit personal,” I said.

“Please?  We’re being personal already, talking about reunions and rebirth.”

“She’s strong.  You wouldn’t know something’s wrong unless you knew what to look for.”

I saw my mom smile slightly.

No, Victoria.  You said you’d help me.  That means being honest,” Amy said, her voice touched by the stress.

Narwhal was working on stuff at the other desk, phone at her ear.  I could look up from the screen that was tracking the ongoing call, and I could see the map below the image of the Gibborim Knight.  More teams were being deployed, in addition to Chevalier’s.

“There’s a ways to go,” I conceded.

“Exactly, see?  I know you have your war wounds, Victoria.  I could have healed them on your last visit, if the circumstances had been different.  Dad has his head injury.  Uncle Mark, Eric, and Sarah all died-”

“I’d rather not talk about them,” Crystal spoke up.

“But listen.  What if we don’t have to do that anymore?  What if Lab Rat and I brew up the means to tackle the real emergencies and disasters?  Villain warlords?  Machine Armies?  Out of control powers?  Rifts in reality?  We create something like this.  Incredibly strong, durable, and ultimately victimless.”

And we weren’t talking about family anymore.  Amy had twisted the conversation back to her agenda.

An aggrieved looking Narwhal patched back into the conversation, “We have zero guarantee that this would be victimless.  This has complicated our situation with Dauntless and lives may be lost from that alone.  You’re assuming a degree of control over these things that hasn’t been tested or proven, and if you lost control it would clearly be catastrophic.  Both for Shin and for the Megalopolis.”

“I’m in control.”

“Even if we assumed one hundred percent-”

“I’ve been working on it with Marquis, and I did pick up some things from associating with Glaistig Uaine and growing up with superheroes.”

“Even if we assumed one hundred percent control, there are other risks.  That someone could control you and control them through you.”

“Don’t those risks apply to Dragon?  She has her A.I.”

“Dragon has oversight.  Her partner, other Wardens.  We know her well enough that we could handle such a situation.”

“Do you?  I was told it was a bit of a revelation that she was an A.I.”

“Not to the higher-ups,” Narwhal said.

“I have oversight too, don’t worry.  Family, a colleague, protectors, a small army of loyal parahumans who’ve defected to our parahuman-only state, and the rest of Shin.  I’m protected.  I know I’m protected, because I know I’m inconvenient enough to your power base that you’d want to remove me.”

She sounded high.  I felt agitated, deeply uncomfortable, with that dark and paralyzing cloud of panic creeping in.   I didn’t think drugs were involved, but…

I approached Narwhal, but she was talking.

“That’s not how we operate.”

“They know what they’re working with when they’re working with me.  Someone who doesn’t buy into the superhero stuff, who knows from personal, visceral experience what kind of things can happen.”

I indicated I wanted to speak to Narwhal, and she used a forcefield to lift a pad of paper my way.  An employee handed me a pen.

“We’re running out of time to act,” Narwhal said.  “Something visceral will happen if you keep stalling.  Is that what you want?”

“I’m not stalling, even in the slightest.  I’m laying out my points and you haven’t really answered any of them.”

Fuck you, I thought.

My hand was shaking too much to clearly put pen to paper.  I hadn’t realized I was that affected.

Fuck you too, pen.

With a jagged letter ‘S’ to start, I wrote:

She’s high.  Not drugs
Riding a rush of optimism, feeling powerful, feeling needed
hopeful, & above all she is at the center of family

You can knock down any argument & any individual feeling but she will fall back on the rest. You won’t stop it without knocking down all at once, but this will lead to poss breakdown.

Manipulate her.

I hesitated before handing it to Narwhal.  I turned, then handed it to Darnall, because he was a step closer to me than Jessica.

He and Jessica read it, and he whispered something into her ear.  She nodded.

I felt somehow more nervous about that than I would about handing the pad as it was to Narwhal.

He held out his hand for the pen, wrote something down, and then handed me pad and pen both.

He’d added a line to the bottom.

This isn’t working – WyD

I handed it to Narwhal, who was talking.  “…question of control is something you have to prove to us, not something we have to prove you lack.  Especially with something this grave.”

“What proof were the Wardens supplying to Shin?”

“On the core Wardens team alone, our chief members alone, we have more than two hundred years between us, of reliable public service, years of showing respect to law and order, restraint, courage, and virtue.”

“And you trusted me.”

“With supervision,” Narwhal said, finally reading the note.

“You trusted me to supervise.”

“With supervision of your own, Red Queen,” Narwhal said.  “You don’t have those same decades of public service, and you do have some glaring marks on your record.”

“You guys let the world end!  How can you get more glaring than that!?” Amy raised her voice.

“You were there as well, and you played a complicating role there too, and I’m sorry, I need to step away.  Something’s happening with the greater situation.  Do you want to stay on the line or should I call?”

“I’ll stay.”

Narwhal motioned.  A tech put the call on mute.

“Greater situation?” Cinereal asked, from the sidelines.

“I’m not technically lying.  It is happening-”  Narwhal indicated the map.  “-but we’re getting bogged down.”

“We’re no closer to resolving this,” Cinereal said.  “Chevalier is close enough to observe, his squads are in position, but we’re holding off until other squads arrive.”

“Antares provided me a note, suggesting another track.  I know we’re definitely on the wrong one.  Who or what is WyD?”

“Me,” Darnall said.  “I can’t confirm because I don’t know Amy, but I can say this reminds me of a video I watched of a Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy patient.  What Antares described to me seems apt.”

“Is this Munchausen’s?” Crystal asked.

“No.  But there are parts of it I recognize.  Victoria describes this as a ‘high’, if I can explain?”

“Go ahead,” I said.

“A rush of optimism, validation, hope, delusion, and a need to feel needed.  MSBP patients will lie about someone being sick so they can be the savior.  Here, we have a situation misrepresented, and she’s put herself forward as a savior.  It validates her feelings.  Victoria says that you can’t knock down one side of her argument, because the remainder will hold her up.”

“And if you do knock down one wall, by the time you get to the second or third, that first wall is back up, arguments conveniently forgotten,” I said.  “I welcome Vista, Crystal, my mother, and the therapists arguing me down, here.”

“She didn’t use to be like this,” Crystal said.

“She totally did, but the stakes weren’t as high,” I told her.  “The thought processes were like that.  She was… stubborn’s the wrong word.  Fluid.  No backbone.”

“Let’s stay focused on the matter at hand,” Narwhal said.

“Two ways forward,” I said.  “Break her, or manipulate her.  I know that sounds awful, but… we’ve kind of tried being nice.  If we could get her into custody and get her treatment, that would be best.  Or… prison world and remote therapy.  That’s not doable when she’s secured herself as the source of Shin’s power base.”

“To say you’ll break someone sounds horrifying,” Crystal admitted.  “Especially someone we once saw as family.”

“Can you?” Cinereal asked.

“I think I could, if I had to,” I replied.  “I think I got close, in the Shin prison, when she cornered me, but there was a very real risk she would use her power on me, then.”

God, it felt so fucking weak, saying that when I didn’t have the context, with all of these people listening and watching.  I could smash through walls, I was invincible, I had my aura, but there had been context there.  My teammates’ lives on the line, the hostages.

I desperately wanted someone to chime in, to point those things out, like my mom had chimed in for Vista.

But no, it just hung out there.

“‘Breaking’ someone like Amy could be disastrous,” Narwhal said.

“It might not mean breaking her down one hundred percent,” I replied.  “It could mean shaking Shin’s faith in her.”

“I can see the merits,” Cinereal said.

“I can’t,” Narwhal retorted.  “The risks are higher, especially when you’re having to make them concerned enough that it outweighs their concern about us, and the cultural fears and concerns that stem from Goddess.”

“But the long-term benefit is Shin realizes this is a stupid idea.”

“What about manipulation?” Narwhal asked.

“She has so much of what she wants, but she wants me, her sister, maybe more than all the rest of it.”

I caught Jessica’s expression changing as I said it.  I looked away, and looked at my mom, and… that didn’t make things better.

What the hell was I doing here?  Was it possible to feel like I was the only person who could handle this, and simultaneously I was the last person who should be here?

I swallowed.  “Just by being a part of this conversation with her, I’m sticking my neck out a bit.  But if it takes her mind off her current goals… I can distract her.”

Saying those words gave me a feeling like a sinking feeling, but in every direction, a quiet, crawling horror, and then I didn’t feel connected to the body or the voice that was positing that idea.  I could imagine it being like what Darlene did, remotely in a body, managing thoughts, but not owning those actions, thoughts, or that body.

Every second I experienced it, it was worse, colder, more quietly horrifying.

“I would prefer distraction,” Narwhal told me.

“Okay,” I said, still feeling like I was a very here kind of far away.  “I can do that.”

“Our goal is to divert the titan.”

“Delay?” I asked.

“We would accept delay.”

“Okay.  Feel free to start us up again.  I’ll jump in.  If I’m unsure about something, I’ll give you a note.”

“You stop if I signal.  You listen to any instructions I give you.”

“Got it,” I said.

“I’ll be in contact with Chevalier,” Cinereal said.

The screen colors changed as the ‘mute’ indicators disappeared.

“We’re back,” Narwhal said.  “Any issues on your end?”

“None,” Amy said.  “What happened?”

“We have less than ten minutes before Dauntless meets your Gibborim Knight.  This is a fight that seems bound to happen, unless you pull back-”

“We can’t do that in good conscience,” Amy said.  “And I’ll remind you, you were the ones saying I was trying to delay or buy time, but you took a good few minutes just now to handle your issue.  Don’t say there’s a time limit like it bothers us.  We’re confident in what we’re doing.  You’re the ones fretting.”

“Shin is concerned about the threat the Machine Army poses.  We have a decision to make about what the venue will be for that intersection of two powers.  A critically sensitive quarantine zone or a city where any power use could be what sets off a multi-world disaster.  We should consider the city.”

“No.  The quarantine zone.  I know the knight’s capabilities.”

“Do you know Dauntless’s?”

“More than you would think,” Amy said.

“Then reassure me.”

“I’ve used my power to study people representing key pieces of infrastructure among powers.  I can understand powers fundamentally, by touching people close enough to powers.  That’s how I can do this.  With Lab Rat’s help to precipitate things, I can create vessels that take the person out of the power, and leave us with incredibly powerful tools.”

“I believe you,” I said.

Narwhal stepped back, giving me a look of barely restrained patience.  I could tell she just wanted to convince Amy, and she’d keep trying if given the chance.

“I hope you believe me,” Amy said, with a huff of a sound that might have been a short laugh.

“You’ve touched it, I’ve walked it,” I said.


“I went there.  Last night.  To the place the powers come from.  One of them, apparently.  Breakthrough, Damsel of Distress, Tattletale.”

“What the hell are you doing, associating with Tattletale?”

“That doesn’t matter,” I said.  “Focus, Amy.”

“I’ve wondered where you get some weird ideas in your head about me, and now I find out you’ve been associating with the queen of head-screws?  It kind of really does matter.”

“Amy,” I said.  “Believe it or not, I’m giving you the one damn thing you’ve been asking for.  I’m kind of on your side.  As of last night, I’ve been there, I’ve seen what you’ve seen, I’m pretty sure.  Stop fighting me for five seconds and accept that fact.”

There was a silence on the other end.

“Assuming you’re telling the truth,” Amy said, more subdued now.  “You guys are desperate.  Is Tattletale there?”

“No,” I said.

“We’re getting sidetracked,” Narwhal said.

I leaned forward, hand on the desk.  “Point is, Amy, she gave us some insights.  You knew Swansong.  You sort of know Damsel by proxy.  You know Swansong was being paid for her insights into the powers and the place they come from.  Damsel was there.”

“And now you’re going to tell me that I’m wrong, I don’t get it, you think you know more than me after… what, a day there?  Half a day? Hours?”

“Amy.  Stop.  You asked for my help, I’m giving it.  I can’t believe I’m doing it, but here we fucking are, so stop.”

The silence was tense.  Had I pushed it with the ‘fucking’?  I could see it being too informal, when this was technically a diplomatic meeting.

“Listen to your sister.”

My mom’s voice.  I looked over at her.

“…What do you want from me?” Amy finally spoke, more subdued.

“Let’s talk about this one workable bit of common ground.  Remember how I was super into studying powers?”

“Of course I do.”

“Still am.  I’ve got a bookshelf filled with my collection of power texts, case files, notes…”

Narwhal motioned for me to hurry up.

“…and I studied a lot while I was in the hospital.  After…”  I trailed off.

“I know, yeah,” Amy said.

“So you know your thing.  I know my thing.  Explain.  Let’s talk about your Chevalier.”

“Okay.  Cryptid stole a scan of his DNA during one of the back-and-forths with the Wardens.  I used that scan to make something close enough the power could reach back, leaving the floodgates to power open, Chris forced the connection and gave it a body that could handle the power, like a lot of the broken triggers can’t.”

“But why him?  Why is he the one you’re sending?”

“Because he exists in multiple states at once, and the Machine Army, I’m told, does the same thing.  They compress seeds of their material into dense matter and when they have something big and dense enough, even a boulder, they use them to house interdimensional pockets.  The biggest machines and installments have those same pockets.  If you nuke the area, that pocket leaks out, and before you know it, you’ve got an infestation again.  He can get past that and do enough damage.”

“They have other tech.  Other countermeasures.  Is your knowledge of the Machine Army limited to what Dot told you?  Your goblin?”

“No,” Amy said.


“Hello, Dot,” I said, my voice tense.  “Are you looking after Amy like I asked you to?”

“Uh huh.  Kinda.”

“I was briefed on the Machine Army in some depth,” Amy said.  “They wanted to see if I could do something that would clear them away.  I had to make pathogens that would stay long enough to capture the leak, or be able to get through it.”

Narwhal wrote something on a note.

“They said no to that,” I read.

“Yes, but that was then.”

“Good to know.  Is he going to punch his way through it?  Overturn every stone?  This is a replicating robot threat that infects, recycles, and adapts.”

“He can.  At least in a swathe around the portal.  He can cut them back.”

“And if they infect him?  We know they can operate interdimensionally.  They can plant those seeds.”

“He can chew them up.  It’s his domain and focus.  It’s like saying they have blowtorches, so they’re a threat to a burning continent.”

“They have blowtorches, and they got those blowtorches scarily fast.  It’s like saying those people who learned to make blowtorches with amazing speed might learn and adapt to that burning continent, given enough time.”

“I don’t intend to give them time.”

“You said a swathe around the portal.  A secure area?”

“Yes, but that’s for now.  I wanted to reassure you this was going to be quick and painless.  In a matter of hours we’ll have other strong powers.  Other clones.  We have tools.”

“Amy, you’re fighting me again.  Are we collaborating on this or not?”

“I’m not fighting you.”

“Are we collaborating?  Come on, time’s getting shorter.  Is there a world where you’re with Shin, I’m here in the city, and we work together to find a solution that makes both sides happy?”

I kept my voice level, but the look in my eyes was a steady glare, the feeling in my stomach a stew-pot of indignation and disgust, and my body still didn’t feel like it was my own, in the eerieness of the moment.  Like a tiny, healthy part of me had fled or pulled back so it wouldn’t have to hear her voice, or hear mine putting words together like ‘collaborating’.

“We already ruled out compromise,” Luis said.

“We didn’t exactly,” Amy said.  “If it comes down to compromise or Shin backing down, we won’t-”

The call cut off.  Muting.

I drew in a deep breath.  My fingernail-less finger dug into the soft part of my thumb, like I could stab it.

I didn’t look at the others present, the entirety of my focus on this.

“Mark?” My mom asked.  “Is this doable?”

There was only silence.  Their side was still muted.

I looked up at the map.  Four minutes until interception.  Until Dauntless met Chevalier.

The Chevalier had paused at a stockpile of construction materials, gathering more things.  A weapon, a shield, armor for the chest, armor for the face.  The interception time didn’t change much as a consequence of his stalling.  He was wholly focused on his mission.

I was wholly focused on mine.

“Mark,” my mom said.  “Can our girls do this?”

Ah.  That was why she’d spoken up.  She’d wanted to get in that ‘our girls’ bit.

My skin felt uncomfortable against the meat of me beneath.  I felt betrayed, even though I knew exactly why she was doing what she was doing.

“We can,” Amy’s voice came through.  “Shin won’t back down on this.  We won’t trust you to handle everyone’s crises, and the Machine Army is a big enough threat that it counts as everyone’s problem.  We want our Chevalier out there.”

“Where is the collaboration in that?” I asked.

“Our forces standing next to your forces.  I manage the Shin Defense Initiative, you handle your side.  Ongoing relationship.”

“I don’t see the relationship there.  That sounds like you doing what you want and expecting me to go along,” I said.

“You’d be free to do whatever you wanted.  I’m not trying to control you.”

I saw Darnall move in the corner of my vision.  He was staring at me.

I wracked my brain, thinking about options.  The pieces in play.

“I preferred talking about powers,” I said.

“You would,” Amy said, like she was familiar with me, and we were having a casual conversation.

“Nah,” I said, and it was really hard not to inject a terminal amount of venom into the negation.    “This is about you.  You were never that into the boots-on-the-ground cape stuff.  You never imagined yourself as team leader of a cape team.”

“No, I never did.  But I kind of stumbled into something way bigger,” she said.

“But you don’t enjoy it, you don’t go straight to the capes and how you can use them.  You’re more introspective.”

“Sure,” she answered.  “Yeah.  So?  It’s not possible, we can’t possibly lead our individual sides?”

Her voice got more bitter toward the tail end.

“I don’t think it’s possible, for a lot of reasons,” I told her.  “But I think there are other possibilities.”

Knock down a wall… erect another.

Narwhal was looking impatient.

“What possibility?” Amy asked.

“Problem solving.  Inventing solutions.  Putting our heads together.”


The silence was always telling.  Like Amy was digesting, processing, and testing a possibility against every damn possible contradiction she could come up with.  Did it challenge anything essential?  Did it threaten a fragile worldview she was holding up?  Was it a trap?

“…Sure.  What are you thinking?”

I looked up at the screens.

The ‘Gibborim Knight’.  The Nursery-Agent.  The Dauntless.  Two more.  Many more pending.

Two of those were immediate concerns.

And the timer was ticking down.  Interception imminent.

“Don’t send the Gibborim Knight.”

“Victoria, that’s not-”

Fucking listen to me, you miserable, deluded little monster!” I snarled, with the venom I’d been suppressing.  A hostility that seemed to surprise more than a few people present.  “Fucking listen for five seconds before you reject an idea, or I swear-”

Narwhal put a hand to my shoulder, holding me back.

My volume dropped, the venom scaling back.  “The stakes are too high.  You either stop, slow down, and listen, or that’s it.  Last effort you’ll ever get from me.  I’m offering you a solution.”

“Ultimatums are manipulative,” Marquis’s voice came through.

I could have killed him, if he were actually present.

“Fucking right they are.  If anyone but you speaks, Amy, or if you give me a refusal instead of a hearing out, that’s it.  I’m walking out of this room, and I’ll drop something massive on you from a place so high up you can’t even see me before I even run allow myself the chance of reaching out to you again.  Decide.”

I had probably alienated so many people with the outburst.  Hurt my standing with good capes.

I had tears in my eyes and I hated it.  I gave so much of myself to reach out, for the sake of others, and even for her, to extend her small graces and benefits of doubt, and she didn’t even give me a spare thought.  It wasn’t that she didn’t reach back.  It was that she didn’t even think to.

“Okay,” she said.

“The Nursery creation.  It produces lifeforms?”


“Out of imperfect meat?  Like most power-created life?”

“…It does.  Yes.”

“It spawns things that produce the aura, area-altering effect?”


She hesitated before each statement.  Being careful, holding herself back.

“Can it produce life that doesn’t have that interdimensional effect?”

“The spawn it makes can.”

“Then can you have it send a stream of its minions to the quarantine site?  Have them file in, dig things up, push things around, and fight the machines.  It should be single file, past the danger area where an ongoing fight would disrupt quarantine.”

“I can’t.”

I tensed.

“But that’s not me being unwilling.  It’s the control over the lesser minions I’m worried about.  I-”

Amy hesitated.

I glared at the screen.

“-I could go.  I’ll give individual instructions to each spawned giant we’re sending to the quarantine zone, until we have enough there or we find another option.”

“Does that postpone the creation of the other SDI soldiers?” I could hear a Shin-accented voice.  Luis’s colleague.

“Probably, but we’re ahead of schedule,” Amy said.

I looked at Narwhal.  She didn’t look happy, but she was nodding a bit.

Delays, at least, were a bit of sugar, making an imperfect compromise a bit easier to swallow.

“…The other problem is that they’re strong, but they’ll lose eventually,” Amy said.  “How is this any better?”

“Power produced materials don’t make good building materials or supplies.  It was part of what slowed down the city rebuild.  Why we couldn’t feed the masses with power-generated flesh.  If the Machine Army tries to make or fuel anything with the meat, then that will degrade or suffer for it.  It poisons their well.  Keep your Gibborim Knight and Nursery away.  If Dauntless is pursuing them, pull them back, bait him out of the city.  You get your presence at the quarantine zone, Shin gets to be needed, we get both of the immediate threats resolved.”

“No,” Luis cut in.

I turned away from the screen.  Ready to leave.  The only reason I didn’t was that I met Jessica’s eyes.

“Yes!” Amy called out.  “Yes.  Pulling back the Gibborim Knight now.  I’ll send the Mother of Mothers’ minions in shortly.”

I could hear the exchange of words.  Luis was pissed.

“We’ll work it out,” Mark said.  The call cut off.  I could believe he was the one to do it, seizing the moment.

Maybe he’d pay for it.  For shutting off the call, making things harder, not playing along like a little kind-of prisoner of Shin.

Nobody really commented, except for an exchange of words murmured between Cinereal and Narwhal.  People focused on their work.  Only Crystal, Vista, and my mom glanced at me.  My mom was the only one who held that eye contact for more than a second or two.

The timer sat at two minutes, twelve seconds, and it began to increase.  Not increasing as fast as it ticked down, but the time stretched out.  Someone input something, and the clock updated.  Seven more minutes remaining.

The Chevalier cloned agent was retreating.

“We have to direct it,” Narwhal said.  “Send it out of the city and away from any refugee settlements.  Get in touch with Shin ASAP.”

“Was that okay?” I asked, quiet, not taking my eyes off the screen.  “I know it’s not how you would’ve wanted to do it, but-”

“It was,” Narwhal said.  “We weren’t getting through.  You did.  We’ll take that for what it is.”

“You could really use my team on this,” I said, still quiet, subdued, like I was a lesser person in the aftermath of it all, despite my best efforts.  “Holding them back doesn’t make sense.  Lookout can keep an eye on Shin, and we really need one.  Precipice has gotten past Mathers twice and he was the one who got her.  Mathers is, I’m guessing, why the precogs aren’t on this.”

“Her and the Goddess clone.  We can talk about that shortly.  It may be best to stick to the schedule for the review by Warden Leadership.  It’s slow but less complicated, and we could do with less complicated,” Narwhal said.

I nodded.

She turned back to the screen, but the hand she’d laid on my shoulder earlier was still there, shifting to a resting one as she turned in a quarter-circle, more reassuring.

It remained there for a few seconds, before someone needed her to take a tablet with some team information on it.

“Excuse me,” I said, feeling hollowed out. “I need a breath of fresh air.”

My mom wasn’t fast enough out of her seat, and I motioned for her to stay down.  Crystal didn’t follow.  Vista had her duties.

Darnall and Jessica intercepted me, like the Dauntless Titan and accompanying Simurgh seemed intent on intercepting the Chevalier.

A matter of seconds, for them to intercept me.  A matter of seven minutes, for the titan to meet the giant.

They met me out in the hall.  All of us were dead silent, as we walked past Golem and Cuff.  Past two members of the flock.

“I probably just validated every fear you’ve had about the Victoria from Teacher’s doctored diary,” I said.

Jessica didn’t answer.

“Do you need anything?” Darnall asked.

I shook my head.

“Can I call someone?”

“Half the people you could call are in that room and saw that.  The other half I’m not allowed to talk to,” I said, bitter.  And I could understand why I wasn’t allowed to talk to them, but fuck.

And I didn’t like Darnall.  I respected him, but I didn’t like him.

And I couldn’t look at Jessica without imagining her strangling her patient.

“How are you?” Darnall asked.  “Would you rather Jessica step away, we can have a chat?”

I shook my head.

I wanted the opposite, despite those intrusive thoughts about the strangling.

“I don’t know what else I could have or should have done,” I said.  “I’m legitimately scared, because I gave her implicit permission to approach, to get closer to me.  I feel gross and hollow and shitty, and I can’t- can’t take the feelings and tie strings to them and connect them to the origins.  Except I know I hate her.  So much.  I hate that she makes me feel like this.  I hate that she won’t go away.  I hate that I want to get far away from being the Victoria who took satisfaction and relief from beating up Nazis and at the same time all I want right now is to fly away, ignore the restrictions on power use, and do what I said earlier about dropping something on Amy, while she’s processing those giants for the quarantine zone.  I hate it.  I hate that I’m walking away feeling like this might not have been worth it, because I can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t the thing that breaks the city and sets everything off.”

“I should step away,” Jessica said.  “This is more for Darnall than for me.”

“I’m okay with sharing it with you.”

“I know, but I’m not your therapist, and I can’t be a support in this moment.”

“Because of Riley Davis?” I asked, angry.  “Bonesaw?”

She stopped.

I saw the emotions, like so many of the ones I’d just tried to explain in a ramble.  No hate, no anger, but sadness and shame.  Feelings so weighty and consuming that she could have ego-crushing feelings about those feelings.

It was a horrible moment, my own stomach wrenching with a regret that I’d said it like that, for those reasons.  Time seemed to crawl.

And in the midst of that slow, horrible moment, people started moving.  Like a starter pistol had gone off, but no pistol.  Voices getting louder, people running.  Doors opening fast enough they banged against the wall.

I pulled away, heading back to the others.  To a point in the hallway that I could see through the situation room door, as people rushed out and squeezed in.

The timer was still ticking down.  Four minutes on the clock.

But Dauntless was attacking, striking out with his lance from miles away, to carve out chunks of the Chevalier, sending him crashing into a building.  The Chevalier got to his feet and continued to retreat.

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88 thoughts on “Sundown – 17.5”

    1. > I didn’t think drugs were involved, but…
      > “This is about you.

      There are too many spaces before these sentences.

    2. “Assuming the giants were safe and totally out of control,”
      I assume you meant ‘under control’ there instead. Narwhal doesn’t strike me as the lapsus kind.

      “Amy had said ‘just‘”
      Closing italics tag turned closing quote into opening one.

      “Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy”
      It’s speech, but Doctor Darnall probably wouldn’t capitalise Syndrome and Proxy outside of an essay title.

      “I even run allow myself”

    3. > “‘Breaking’ someone like Amy could be disastrous,” Narwhal said.

      This one sound a bit strange coming from Narwhal’s mouth, considering that in the last chapter she insisted to call Amy “Amelia Lavere” or “Red Queen”. Is this an error, or has Narwhal given in to the pressure of everyone around her calling Victoria’s sister “Amy” since then?

    4. In some places in this chapter Dauntless is called “the Dauntless Titan”, in others “the titan” in the difference in capitalization of the word ‘titan’ intentional?

    5. “I don’t think it’s possible, for a lot of reasons,” I told her. “But I think there are other possibilities.”
      “What possibility?” Amy asked.

      While Amy’s edited response makes sense (unlike the “What wall?” that was there previously), it still doesn’t feel entirely natural. Since Victoria mentioned plural ‘possibilities’, shouldn’t Amy’s response be “What possibilities?”

    6. > “Don’t those risks apply to Dragon? She has her A.I.”

      The concern about Dragon is that she is an A.I., not that she has one. And if I remember correctly Amy should know it since Gold Morning. Not sure if this is an error, or if Amy phrased it this way to hide Dragon’s nature from anyone who might have been listening to this conversation (like maybe the Shin politicians and at least some people in the Wardens’ command center) and not know it yet.

      1. I take some of what I wrote in the comment just above back – since just a bit after Amy had said that Dragon “has her A.I.” she said that “[she] was told it was a bit of a revelation that [Dragon] was an A.I.” it appears that Amy may not have learned about Dragon’s true nature during GM, because she wasn’t present when it was revealed in chapter 28.2 of Worm.

        More importantly however it means that Amy saw no reason to hide what Dragon was. Which in turn makes me wonder why exactly would Amy even say that Dragon “has her A.I.” in the first place. So maybe it is an error after all?

  1. An aggrieved looking Narwhal patched back into the conversation, “We have zero guarantee that this would be victimless. This has complicated our situation with Dauntless and lives may be lost from that alone. You’re assuming a degree of control over these things that hasn’t been tested or proven, and if you lost control it would clearly be catastrophic. Both for Shin and for the Megalopolis.”

    “I’m in control.”

    -Amy said that she’s “in control”…. My heart cries for both Megalopolis and Shin’s good people if Amy is “in control”. They don’t deserve this cursed fate:(.

    “A rush of optimism, validation, hope, delusion, and a need to feel needed. MSBP patients will lie about someone being sick so they can be the savior. Here, we have a situation misrepresented, and she’s put herself forward as a savior. It validates her feelings. Victoria says that you can’t knock down one side of her argument, because the remainder will hold her up.”

    -This is the best characterization of Amy’s mental state. She’s a Munchausen rapist.

    “Do you know Dauntless’s?”

    “More than you would think,” Amy said.

    “Then reassure me.”

    -She doesn’t know him well. Right now, he’s beating the crap out of her Knight who can barely retreat. I think that not even 50 AmyTitans can be a real challenge for Kronos.

    -Luis is an ok guy and a good leader but he sucks as a strategist. Amy did well listening to the real strategist here, Victoria, and retreated EndbriChevalier. Hope its not late for him before Kronos will turn him into paste. As Amy described him, he’s still hero at his heart and I don’t want him to die like that despite being an Endbriclone.

    Amy took the first right decision in YEARS. I’m amazed.

    NEXT IN WARD: Attack on Titans. Keep close for the long awaited anime version of Ward.

  2. Now THAT starts to be as intense as final arcs of Worm!

    1. > ‘Gimel established a precedent’
    What precedent?

    2. > “You don’t have the best track record of keeping your own shit contained, Amy. Who the fuck do you think you are, saying that?”
    She said that for Luis and Gabin.

    1. 3. > “If the Machine Army tries to make or fuel anything with the meat, then that will degrade or suffer for it. It poisons their well.”
      But it could happen, that Machine Army replication speed overcomes degradation of “imperfect meat”.

      1. 1) Gimel kinda dumped Goddess on Shin. It left some long-lasting scars.
        2) Victoria’s pissed at Amy considering herself out of blame.
        3) It’s not straight replication that’s the issue, but infestation. They won’t be able to weaponise the NurseBringer’s minions into further seeds.

        1. > 1) Gimel kinda dumped Goddess on Shin. It left some long-lasting scars.
          It was Cauldron. Shin consider Gimel assignee of Cauldron?

          1. Cauldron was largely secret, so Shin probably blamed her earth of origin – Bet. Since Betians moved in large amounts to Gimel after GM, I’m expecting they moved the blame along.

            ‘Gimel established a precedent’, with our cape concerns and business trampling their sovereignty and security.

            I read this as “capes from Earth Bet→Gimel have done a lot of damage to us; now it’s time for some comeuppance.”

            1. Apropos establishing precedents in bilateral Gimel – Shin relations – how much do you think is Shin diplomat’s immunity really worth on Gimel right now?

            2. I’m especially worried about people like Amy (and her allies like Chris) in this context. Unless they formally renounced Gimel citizenship before going to Shin charges related to what Amy did to Victoria in Shin prison, or to the various patients she harmed with her power would actually be minor compared to charges of high treason – something Amy probably couldn’t wiggle out of anymore, considering that she not only provided Shin with what essentially are biological, power-augmented weapons of mass destruction, but also executed foreign government’s orders to invade Gimel.US territory with these weapons.

            3. By the way, if Amy gets charged with high treason (regardless of whether Gimel will respect any diplomatic immunity she may have or not), then perhaps we will learn if Quinn Calle is still around, and still doing the same sort of work he did four and a half years ago. I distinctly remember another parahuman girl he defended from multiple charges, including treason, then, and he has done an excellent job then. So good in fact that I would be surprised if Tattletale didn’t still have his (or at least his firm’s) phone number and e-mail (assuming of course that he survived GM and is still working, or at least able to work as a lawyer).

            4. And even if Mr. Calle came out of GM crippled to the point where he couldn’t rally work as a criminal defense attorney, but still in good enough shape to keep up with the changes in post-GM criminal law, then I wonder what would the Gimel.US law say to an idea of him waiving his fees in exchange for some parahuman healing by his client? Would he still be able to represent Amy in court if it happened, or would it be impossible for some legal reason?

  3. Amy said that the giants retain the basic personality traits of the person they’re derived from. That’s all well and good for Chevalier, but extremely concerning when you’re talking about Nursery, Mama Mathers, and Goddess.
    She said she can repress or emphasize certain traits to make them act in the way you want them to, but I’m hard pressed to imagine what kind of remotely positive traits you could find to emphasize in Mama Mathers.
    Yeah, this isn’t going to blow up in her face at all…

    1. Goddess didn’t have any positive traits either but maybe if she truly loved Amy during their relationship, her Endbringer clone will listen Amy due to the same strong feelings.

      1. I’m afraid that if Goddess’ clone is anything like the original Bianca, she will probably not master or otherwise directly hurt Amy, but she will also be inclined to listen to Amy every bit as much as Goddess was willing to listen to Amy’s protests about mastering Breakthrough at the beginning of chapter 9.3…

        By the way it isn’t exactly the same situation, but wasn’t Goddess’ response to Natalie’s argument about brainwashing in chapter 9.8 eerily similar to Amy’s about brainwashing the clones in this chapter? Sure, Bianca’s argument was:

        “Nothing is washed,” Goddess said, her voice hard. “It is aligned.”

        while Amy’s was:

        “I don’t brainwash people, Victoria. That implies there was a brain to wash. He was a blank slate. We brought out the traits and aspects that make him want to work with us.”

        But is Amy’s argument so much better than Bianca’s if later she straight-up admitted the following:

        “Essential traces of the person he was are still intact. Chevalier wanted to take care of people, protect, hold the line. So does the Gibborim Knight. That’s all he wants.”

        Amy needs to be consequent here. Either Gibborim Knight has no brain to wash OR he has “essential traces of the person he was”. It can’t be both at once.

  4. And again Amy is setting up a multiverse threatening situation, and assuming that it’s under control.
    Kephri was a BEST-case situation. Admittedly, Amy didn’t mean to make Taylor into Kephri, but that’s my point. She has a long history of setting out to help, and leaving ruin in her wake.

    1. Well, it was a sort-of joint effort SNAFU, really. Taylor essentially asked her to tighten the connection to her shard, while mostly willingly leaving the consequences for later. Amy obliged and dug a fair bit too deep for everyone’s comfort. I don’t blame the both of them for that particular incident, since it was essentially breaking new ground (Tattletale’s hunch about Scrub and Labyrinth’s synergy could have gone terribly wrong as well).
      It ended up working out, because Admin is stupidly good at improving terrible odds when given all the pawns at its disposal.
      Shaper is also stupidly broken; but it’s much more tuned towards creating more problems than solving them.

  5. It’s incredible how everything around Victoria continues ro turn for the worse.

    Jessica did do something to Riley, and even despite whatever context existed for that, is shamed by the question.

    Victoria had an on-air breakdown where the entirety of the Wardens AND the Shin leadership could hear her. Hell, Amy could hear her, yet still agreed to cooperate (but what will Dot and Marquis make of Victoria’s words in their further talks with Amy?)

    But also, the blowtorches and burning continents metaphor escaped me utterly. Can anyone ELI5?

    1. > But also, the blowtorches and burning continents metaphor escaped me utterly. Can anyone ELI5?

      The way I understand it Amy argued that everything the Machine Army did so far was way too weak to take down her superweapon, while Victoria argued that at the pace the Machines seem to adapt suggests that they could develop something that would work against Gibborim Knight very quickly.

      After all if it takes a civilization to go from zero to blowtorches in just a few years (as the Machines probably did), how long would it take the same civilization to go from blowtorches to continent-busting weapons?

    2. 5, eh ? How about… Ninjas can’t catch you if you’re on fire. Wait, no. Wrong one.

      Anyway, it’s implied you can’t worsen a burning continent’s situation by bringing a flamethrower to the party. Which is somewhat wrong, since it still adds more fuel to keep things burning longer, but if you assume that the continent burning is its natural state, more fuel won’t really change anything.

    3. Also re:Jessica, Victoria probably chose the worst way for us to actually learn what really happened. There are too damn many possibilities explaining her reaction. I am mildly unpleased at her lack of tact. And at the increasing odds of another great character dying offscreen.
      Tattleshard is a curse worse than many.

      1. The thing with Jessica is also bad, because right now she is probably thinking just how the information about Riley leaked, how much Victoria actually knows, and who else does. Since the true about answers are quite unbelievable, and almost impossible for Jessica to figure out on her own, AND there is a good chance that Victoria won’t be able to answer such questions for a while, I expect that the whole situation may lead to some ugly misunderstandings or unfortunate decisions on Yamada’s part.

    4. > Victoria had an on-air breakdown where the entirety of the Wardens AND the Shin leadership could hear her. Hell, Amy could hear her, yet still agreed to cooperate (but what will Dot and Marquis make of Victoria’s words in their further talks with Amy?)

      The interesting thing about the fact that Victoria appeared to have lost it a bit at the end is that Vicky probably did it intentionally. At least to some extent. Remember that Victoria presented two potential ways to deal with Amy – breaking her down (at least to a point where Shin no longer trusted her), and a more subtle manipulation. Narwhal chose manipulation, and this is what Victoria started with, but while this method let her bring enough of Amy’s wall to make her listen to Victoria’s propositions, it appeared to Victoria that as long as the discussion remained polite Amy would not accept any of them. At least not quickly enough to stop Gibborim Knight from running into Kronos.

      So Victoria added a bit of a tactic that work against Amy in the Shin prison. She had a very rude, un-diplomatic outburst that emotionally put Amy on her back foot. Made her think that if she doesn’t accept Victoria’s proposal right now Vicky will simply close all lines of communication. If Amy thought about Victoria’s threat calmly, and discussed it with someone like Marquis and Shin politicians, she would realize that Vicky was bluffing. That Gimel (including Victoria) just couldn’t afford to stop talking to her in this situation. But because Amy didn’t realize it at the moment, because at that moment she was scared that Victoria would just walk away for good, she felt she didn’t have time to think Victoria’s ultimatum through, or consult it with the others, and made a split-second decision to do exactly what Victoria proposed.

      This had two consequences – short term it made Amy turn her Gibborim Knight back, but long term… it showed to Shin politicians that it doesn’t take much to put Amy so off-balance emotionally, to break her just enough that she can no longer be trusted to make rational decisions, or consult her decisions with them. To do what they want her to do.

      So to sum it up, Victoria’s outburst might have cost her some of Wardens’ trust, especially if they don’t realize why she did it (though at least Narwhal seemed to be intelligent and reasonable enough to understand Victoria’s logic). On top of it everything what Victoria did – from calm manipulation to an outright verbal attack on Amy at the end, might have cost Vicky Jessica’s trust (at least this is what she seems to be afraid of judging by her comment about validating everything in the fake diary). But… at the same time it probably cost Amy far more trust of Shin’s governments. Which in my opinion may either end up very well (if Shin manages to make Amy stop SDI, stop treating her like a reliable political partner, and convince her to actually seek therapy) or very poorly (because of everything that may happen if they try and fail to convince Amy and Chris to stand down).

      1. Of course another very ugly outcome may be possible. If Shin governments think that Victoria is Amy’s weak point, that nobody else can manipulate Amy like this (and honestly it is not that difficult to come to such conclusion), they may decide that they may ensure Amy’s continued cooperation if Victoria was “removed from the equation” in a way that can’t be easily linked to them. And a scary thing is that if Amy’s assessment of Chris form chapter 14.10 is correct (“[…]He likes you and that makes him dangerous because he wants to kill what he likes.”), then Cryptid may become Shin’s greatest ally in a plot to get rid of Victoria.

  6. Fifteen clones by the end of the week? Looks like Shin decided to build its own arsenal of Capes of Mass Destruction to challenge Gimel’s domination in this field. And Amy was naive enough to make these weapons for them. I wonder if, when they learned about Soviets nuclear tests, the American government and the top brass of their military felt like the people in Wardens’ command center did when they heard about Shin’s decision to enter the “cape-arms race”. And I wonder just how Luis felt when he realized that he doesn’t fully control his “nuclear button” (better known as Amy). He did seem to protest rather loudly.

    The entire situation seems to give the “Red” part of Amy’s title a new meaning. And the irony of calling Shin’s newest “capes of mass destruction” program with a name that abbreviates to SDI is sooo sweet…

    1. Also one of these clones will totally be the dreaded Big Sister. You know it.
      And he’s already got Mama up and running. Chris is going big like he means it.
      Better kill off the internet before they coordinate…

    2. No, Shin leadership were naive enough to trust Amy and Chris. They have zero control over them. If they’ll try to stop Amy from doing something she wants to do, she can simply turn the weapons under her complete control against Shin. Or simply create a plague destroying the whole planet. Not only Luis doesn’t fully control her, he doesn’t control her or Chris not even a bit. He was pissed when he finally realized this. Poor Luis.

      1. Actually I’m afraid that out of the Amy – Chris – Shin government trio only Chris may not be catastrophically naive. He simple follows his imperative four. Not that it is in any way better than being naive like the others are.

        1. Yep, I have an even more scary theory. What if Chris is using everyone: Amy and Shin, they’re simply paws for his real plans that might not be so benevolent as he let people think they’re? Chris is the one that I trust less between Amy – Chris – Shin. Because he’s smarter and way more cunning than everyone give him credit.

    3. > when they learned about Soviets nuclear tests, the American government and the top brass of their military felt like

      I kindly remind you that it was USA who uses nuclear bombs against cities (with civilians) of another country, not USSR. And it was several years earlier than USSR perform first nuclear test. It is a big question whose nuclear bombs are more dangerous for the world – Soviets or Americans…

      1. Sure, it wasn’t a perfect analogy. What Shin did could be compared to USSR testing some of their first nukes on US territory, and this is obviously not what happened. There are obviously other differences – right after WWII USA wasn’t dependent on USSR’s economic aid, millions of US citizens didn’t have to seek refuge in USSR, US territory couldn’t be quickly invaded by the Red Army, because USSR had no way to challenge US Navy (though for example the disproportion of land forces in continental Europe, especially after Western armies were mostly demobilized in just a few months after the war, while the Red Army was much slower to do so, meant that if not for American nukes the Soviets could potentially invade the rest of the European mainland then).

        My point however is that up until now Gimel.US was relatively safe from being invaded by Earths with populations that outnumbered them by a few orders of magnitude (like Shin or Cheit) thanks to Gimel’s supremacy in both numbers and power levels of capes. They could even afford to deploy some of these capes offensively far from the city (as we saw in Valkyrie’s interlude) without fear of anything more than an economic embargo (which as we already saw would be really effective only if both Shin and Cheit decided to enforce it simultaneously, and even that would be less and less dangerous to Gimel as their economy progressed towards self-sufficiency). Now that Shin may threaten Gimel with its own “supercapes” Gimel may have to be far more careful about how it uses its parahuman assets for fear of Shin’s retaliation if someone on Shin decides that their safety, territorial integrity, sovereignty or other vital interests are threatened – just like USA couldn’t use its nukes and other WMDs, and had to even limit their use of conventional forces during the Cold War for fear of Soviet nuclear response. And this is unlikely to change as long as Shin retains its Endbriclones, and both Gimel.US and Shin will remain independent and connected through the portal network.

        1. And of course like I said above – we may see an arms race of some sort. As long as Amy and Chris work for Shin, that Earth has the ability to get more “supercapes” very quickly. The questions are – can Amy or Chris be convinced to stop, or otherwise be taken out of the picture, and can Gimel respond with its own “cape production” program. There may be some options here – convincing Valkyrie to bring back some of her “monsters”, digging for Eden’s body in hopes of producing more Cauldron vials, causing more Kronos-like events as (according to Amy) Teacher tried to do… though obviously none of them seem even remotely safe (or, in case of making more vials – moral). Then perhaps simply threatening Shin that Gimel may try one of these desperate solutions may be enough to convince them (or just Amy and/or Chris) to scrap this whole SDI project?

          1. Of course it may also happen that Gimel and Shin will end up cooperating just like QA would probably want them to, and that SDI will end up being just as crucial when it comes to dealing with common threats facing these Earths as groups like Wardens are. I think that something really big would need to happen for Gimel and Shin to set aside their differences and mutual mistrust and work together like that (at least long-term). Not that it is impossible. Something big is supposed to happen in the city after all, and large groups of people who really hated each other did already work together in a Parahumans story against common threats. Just think of pretty much every Endbringer fight, or (especially) Gold Morning…

            1. Who knows, maybe even facing whatever disaster is bound to threaten the multiverse by the end of Ward will lead to a better mutual understanding and ensure a lasting peace between Gimel, Shin and Cheit (and possibly several other Earths)? Just like Gold Morning lead to an end of hostilities between some of the groups involved in it?

      2. > It is a big question whose nuclear bombs are more dangerous for the world – Soviets or Americans…

        Honestly I think this isn’t the big question. The big question is whether the world is better off when only one country has nukes and technology to produce them – which means that they are relatively likely to use them, but at the same time are unlikely to ever produce enough of them to be able to cause a global nuclear armageddon, or if more than one country has them and because of it the nukes are far less likely to ever be used as weapons of war, but due to nuclear arms race if nukes are actually used things may easily escalate to a point where humanity manages to wipe out itself more or less completely?

        1. Not that the question implies that there was really a choice. It has been proven multiple times already that stopping proliferation of nuclear weapons to new countries once it was proven that they can be made is impossible to stop completely. It was only a question of when USA would lose its monopoly on nukes.

          Similarly I don’t think that Gimel.US could keep other countries or Earths from ever gaining access to sufficient number of strong enough powers to be able to challenge them. Capes move out of the city, new ones keep triggering outside it, shards still seek ways to provoke more conflicts, and there is never a shortage of humans who want to take down the currently established balance of power too. If anything Chris and Amy probably only accelerated the inevitable.

  7. By the way, I wonder who Gabin is. I guess he would be one of the representatives of Shin governments we saw in arc 14, but I don’t believe he was ever introduced. At least not under this name. Any guess which one of them he was, or at least which faction he belongs to?

  8. “What the hell are you doing, associating with Tattletale?”
    “I’ve wondered where you get some weird ideas in your head about me, and now I find out you’ve been associating with the queen of head-screws? It kind of really does matter.”

    You think Amy is still salty about what Tattletale did to her in the bank? Or is it about how Tt dared to tell her to heal Victoria from Crawler’s acid and her own mind manipulation before she crossed her final line towards monstrosity and hurt Victoria not by accident, but on purpose?

    1. I guess that Amy may also be mad at Tattletale about this thing from chapter 30.1 of Worm:

      “Well, this is a step forward for you, Ames,” Tattletale commented.

      Don’t,” Panacea hissed the word. “Don’t you fucking dare.”

      “…This time you got consent before you screwed someone up beyond your ability to fix it.”

    2. From a blame-shifting-game point of view, Amy’s life started tumbling from that robbery due to their exchange. Salty doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of grief it causes her.

      1. Oh come on! Amy can’t possibly still be too angry about that thing Tattletale said in the bank. It has been so many years since then, and it let Amy meet so many nice people in the ‘Cage, including her biological dad. It has to count for something, right? 😉

  9. I just realized something about Amy’s desire to be needed. She wants, and deludes herself into thinking that she is necessary to solve the current multi-dimensional problems. Possibly because she thinks that it is the only way she can fully belong with Victoria. Does she think that the only way she can have Victoria accept her presence, is to force Vicky to do it by making herself indispensable fore everyone? To be the only person who can save them? How long has it been going on? Since she told Victoria about her “critical role” during Gold Morning? Longer? Maybe it began when she realized that she was the only person who could save some patients in Brockton Bay’s hospitals, or who could save her sister from consequences when Vicky beat some gangbangers too much? Could it be that Carol contributed to this issue by never paying enough attention to Amy, never praising her for her accomplishments, thus making Amy want to do something so big, so important that Carol simply couldn’t ignore it?

    And wasn’t Taylor in a somewhat similar state of mind when she decided that she was the person who had to save the world (at least after she decided to surrender to the PRT, and begun her non-stop work on stopping the apocalypse)? At least she had Dinah’s word that it was not just a delusion, but a fact. Not that knowing that she was destined to save the world, instead of baselessly believing it was much better – it made Taylor do some really questionable things – like leaving the Undersiders, going as far as killing Aster to deprive Jack of his hostage (though in this case the fact that she expected Jack to have Aster subjected to nearly-eternal torture of Grey Boy’s time loop probably also played a role), and pursuing power to counter Scion during Gold Morning to the point where she raided Cauldron for it and had Amy experiment on her brain with known results. The end result might have been fortunate for humanity, but Weaver’s obsession with saving the world looked like a symptom a serious mental problem…

    1. I guess that Tattletale and Victoria may also be somewhat similar to Amy in that regard. Tattletale insists on “saving” the Undersiders and the Heartbroken from various themselves (a threat that exists mostly in Tattletale’s head – at least according to Foil), while Victoria apparently decided that she needs to be the person who saves the world by solving the problem with shards – even if it means taking such risks as going into (and taking her entire team except Kenzie, but plus Damsel) to the dream-room against Wardens’ wishes.

  10. more typos

    that,” Amy > that.” Amy
    quiet, “Amy > quiet. “Amy
    “…Through valkyrie?” > “…Through Valkyrie?”
    Victoria too, but she had other reunions too.” (maybe change one “too” to “as well”)
    Uncle Mark > Uncle Neil
    feeling needed > feeling needed,
    hopeful, & > hopeful &
    I was the last person (maybe “be the last person”)
    “Mark?” My > “Mark?” my
    even run allow > even allow

  11. All of us were dead silent, as we walked past Golem and Cuff. Past two members of the flock.

    Was this merely a coincidence, or did Golem and Cuff just have their own reunion with two people (for example members of Chicago Protectorate and/or Wardens who died during GM)?

  12. Guess WB needs Amy to be more pathetic than Victoria to make this show go on. Eh, it was pretty in character. Just happy we’re back to the stakes of Worm’s Engame.

  13. “What if we don’t have to do that anymore?” Amy sounds like one of those Silicon Valley dorks who think their innovative technology disruptions will solve things.

  14. Okay, so, Amy Hottake of the day:

    I think Amy has been Retconed between Worm and Ward.
    Or at the very least, the authorial intention has take a sharp right turn, and that goes above and beyond the usual “Different POV character” that we usually get.

    Amy in Worm:
    Generally a bit of a woobie. Sometimes a Jerkass Woobie, and sometimes Woobie destroyer of worlds, but there is the strong sensation that you are meant to feel pity/sympathy for her.

    *During Bank job, she’s a bitch, but she’s very much fighting against enemies that she has legit reason to fight. TT threatening her secrets is the first time you really see the “darker” aspects of TT’s power.

    *S9 hiring interlude; Bonesaw is the antagonist. We are firmly on Amy’s side, and we she heals Mark, we are supposed to feel triumph. She runs away, and when Glory Girl shows up and ignores boundaries this feels like a repeat of the pressure that GG applies to Amy in GG interlude. Fundementally, Amy screws up, but we are meant to believe that GG was somewhat at fault for not listening, and Amy is freaked out and bad at using her power.

    *During the S9 attack, she freaks out and refuses to listen to TT and the rest of the team (which is ultimately bad)…. but its pretty damn clear WHY. She hates TT. She has reason to. She’s also critical in clearing out Bonesaws memory plauge and is mainly presented as a victim of Jack’s plans that happens to be bad at strategy. which is totally reasonable for a healer.

    *Carol’s interlude- we see Carol hating on her throughout, but the interlude ends with Carol realizing that Amy is one more broken person, more like Sarah and Carol than their kidnappers. The interlude kinda emphasizes that CAROL fucked this up.

    *The interlude (and other interactions) with Marquis: Marquis loves his daughter, and the sweetness of the interaction encourages we the audience to like her as well. Glastig also is friendly towards her, and afterwards we see Amy and Marquis being competant and figuring things out about the Agents togeather. The Marquis-Amy interaction is one of the cutest in the story.

    *Goldmorning: Amy is pretty damn responsible. Her and Riley run a good hospital. Sure she freaks out and makes Kephri- but this is ultimately a GOOD move, and was done on Taylor’s request.
    At the end, when Kephri hands her Victoria, this is intended to be read as a good thing, a chance to atone for past power fuck ups.

    Ultimately, in Worm, Amy’s Wretching of Victoria is presented as a POWERS problem, the result of Jack, A pissy power, and Victoria’s Aura being switched on all day every day.
    The sexual element of whatever happened between Amy and Victoria that day is literally never mentioned – Amy is presented as having feelings, but there is no indication that she acted on them in an inappropriate way (Unless someone find quotes?).

    Compare Ward:

    Amy is repeatedly presented as rapey, somewhat useless, and bad at paying attention to boundaries. This isn’t just a POV shift, because even when in OTHER peoples point of view (her own), these are emphisized. These elements might all have existed in Worm, but from a writing perspective, they weren’t presented. It feels like the Authorial intent for Amy has changed (fine)… but also to some extent the character… and potentially even past events (unobserved events, sure, but it still feels weird).

    The Marquis-Amy relationship is portrayed as far less sweet, and far more concerning (both him going along with her insane plans, and spouting weird death poetry).
    Carol’s support for Amy is not Cathartic (as it was at the end of Brandish interlude), but instead problematic (this one is mainly POV shift).
    Amy ISN’T really doing things like fixing plauges, mending protag Spine or Saving the world in GM. She helps refugees, but fundementally, all the good she does is OFF SCREEN. Compare to Worm, where it is often on screen.

    I’m not saying a good or bad on this, or making claims about writing quality or anything…. if just sticks out. And it makes sense why so many people were (previously) arguing about the ethics of Amy, given that for all of Worm she was presented in a relatively sympathetic light, and there appears to have been a potentially deliberate retconning of events (unobserved events but nonetheless).

  15. Well this is an excellent mess!

    In Worm we didn’t get Victoria’s POV on Amy. And the fanon converged mostly on woobie Amy cos that’s fun.

    Also someone really needs to fix the “some people can’t reply” problem soon.

  16. Ninegardens
    Yes, Amy sexual abuse over Victoria was mentioned in Worm too, when Amy mind raped Victoria, forcing her to love her. Mind rape is still rape and this is what Amy did to Victoria. So, Willbow planned this shit with Amy long time ago. Everything happens as he is planning.

    1. Wildbow planning is a bit lacking.

      He had a vision for Amy. But he never actually never developed that vision in Worm. Despite that, he continues on with that vision in Ward, as if he had developed it in Worm.

  17. Actually, there was a Wildbow Reddit post that basically outlines some really questionable stuff in Worm.

    Comment from Reddit post “Question about Amy”

    In Worm Amy talks about what she did with Victoria and kind of glosses over particulars. Some people read what Amy was really trying to say in these lines:

    I wanted to see her smile again. To have someone hug me before I left forever. So you wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore. I- I told myself I’d leave after. Victoria wouldn’t remember. It would be a way for me to get closure. Then I’d go and spend the rest of my life healing people. Sacrifice my life. I don’t know. As payment.

    I wanted her to be happy. I could adjust. Tweak, expand, change things to serve more than one purpose.

    When I was done, I started undoing everything, all the mental and physical changes. I got so tired, and so scared, so lonely, so I thought we’d take another break, before I was completely finished. I changed more things. More stuff I had to fix. And days passed. I-

    So the question is… paying attention to the bolded parts… what do you think Amy is talking about doing here? What doesn’t she want Victoria to remember, that she’ll spend time later atoning for? How does she alter Victoria to make Victoria ‘happy’, that changes Victoria’s body and makes it hard to backtrack? What are these ‘breaks’, do you think?

    She says in this quote she spent days in this loop and process. What’s your interpretation of what happened over the course of these days?

    In another reply, he adds this:

    Follow the line of thought. The fragments string together.

    I wanted to see her smile

    I wanted to hug her.

    I was going to leave forever [anyway]

    [hesitation, stutter] – Why?

    I told myself I’d leave after. – after what? Hugs? Note also that she says ‘I told myself’, and she also betrays this line of thought by the fact that she’s still present and tacitly admits the betrayal. This is her saying “I was lying to myself, I was making excuses.”

    Victoria wouldn’t remember – Remember what? Remember, this strings from a thought that started with smiles and hugs, stuttered, and devolved into making excuses and now justifications

    It would be a way for me to get closure. – She could say ‘smiles’ eariler and say ‘hugs’ but she refers to the current subject as ‘it’, without labels. You could say it was the aforemntioned smiles and hugs but does that give closure, over the course of days?

    Then I’d go and spend the rest of my life healing people. Sacrifice my life. I don’t know. As payment. – and we jump straight into talking about serious, life-long atonement.

    Next block of text from Amy, a short line:

    I wanted her to be happy. I could adjust. Tweak, expand, change things to serve more than one purpose. – Again, these thoughts string together. She can make Victoria happy but she launched into this by talking about physical contact and she blurs the line between talking about happiness and talking about alteration of flesh, changing things, making things serve more than one purpose. I’d be interested to hear what you think she’s twisting or altering and how that connects to ‘happiness’.

    Next block:

    When I was done, I started undoing everything, all the mental and physical changes. – No ambiguity here, the changes included physical changes at this stage. Why and what was she doing?

    I got so tired, and so scared, so lonely, so I thought we’d take another break, before I was completely finished. – Worth stressing here that all of this connects to the initial thought. She calls what she was doing before a ‘break’. She’s lonely, she’s telling herself she’ll leave, that scares her, so she takes a break, indulges herself in a physically and mentally altered Victoria.

    I changed more things. – The thought ‘taking a break’ strings right into ‘I changed more things’.

    I think you’re viewing the segments in isolation but not actually looking at how and why one flows from the last, or what she’s really confessing to.

    Throughout, she’s implicitly talking about using her sister as relief for stress and loneliness, and as a plaything to be twisted and molded.

    Wildbow pretty much dances around and heavily implies rape without ever saying it.

    1. The fact this is shown to us in a reddit thread and not in the actual work itself, brings the whole planned thing into doubt.

  18. @ The Chair-zard of Menlo Park
    – These are quotes from Worm, yes? Okay cool, that’s convincing enough for me, I retract any suggestion of schrodinger’s Retcon.

    @Hotdog Vendor
    We Got Victoria’s POV in interlude 2.
    And while I totally accept your point about Woobie Amy being a Fanon thing, I’m pretty sure all the stuff I discussed were scenes from the actual story, not fanfics, so I’m not sure how applicable your point is.

    Right- the mindrape thing is brought up, but in particular it is brought up by *Regent* (Not exactly a character we take seriously), while poking at her, while Amy is freaking out, and is presented as closer to power incontinence rather than neglect or malice.
    Regent taking someone’s actions as finding the exact worst interpretation of them for his own amusement is perfectly in character.

    Let’s be clear here. I’m not claiming that Amy is okay. And based on Chair-zard’s quotes from WOG, I’m no longer going to claim that there is a sensation of schrodinger’s Retcon (changes to an unobserved event). My point is that the *presentation* has changed significantly between the two stories, over and above what I would expect due to POV change. This may simply be WB feeling that they weren’t clear enough the first time round. Overall Amy is portrayed as more sane, more competent, and more able to lean on the “Power incontinence” excuse in Worm, compared to Ward, where all three of those are kind of blown out of the water. And that’s fine, its just an interesting contrast between the stories.

    In some sense, probably the simplest point of comparison is that in Worm, it felt like Amy’s greatest crime was leaving Victoria blob shaped (which seems like a Power screw up), as opposed to what she did WHILE Victoria was with her (Rape, which is more a personal choice).

  19. Interesting that you’d mention POV shift and ignore the way it colours our own judgement in this.

    In Worm the POV we had of the event was Amy’s explanation to Carol that was quoted above. That was it.

    We didn’t learn more and our POV Character, Taylor, certainly wasn’t aware she needed to bother about learning more. In such a situation why would we ever have to wonder about Amy being anything more than inept? The explanation of it all, it was very roundabout. It was roundabout, we know now, because Amy is trying her level best to justify what she did “What we did together, it didn’t count. We weren’t ourselves”, with that in mind she would never go up to Carol and say she raped Victoria, there’s no reason this would happen.

    That being the case, we leave that interlude with Amy’s justifications and alternate truths that we didn’t yet know we had to look out for and we go straight back into Taylor’s POV, who doesn’t really think about it because really, why would she?

    And so we keep going through the book and never touch on it again. All that stuff is no longer our problem, when we interact with it again it’s through Sveta who, again, does not and has no reason to suspect any of this. Blob-Victoria herself wouldn’t knwo this because well, her memory has been erased and is still blocked off at this point. This, is your so called POV. Where and how in this situation would we ever have cause or reason to go in-depth about the Amy situation?
    Some people read the truth in Amy’s stream of tought statements but they were a minority that got shut down by the much safer, must more pleasant fanon concept on shard ineptude and Amy is just a dumbass.

    The POV shift of Ward, then, brings us to Victoria. The very real victim of it all, the one most affect and now, after Gold Morning, the one who is in a position to make us question and to complain about what Amy did to her. Of course a victim of this would be repulsed and disgusted by her captor and now she is our constant POV character, it would be impossible for the shift to not be noticeable.

    We came from the 3 or so interludes related to the topic and Taylor’s POV, that wasn’t and had no reason to be involved in all this, to the POV of Victoria, the victim herself. Now, how in hell could this POV shift now be obviously expect to be far more bothered and angered and disgusted and, really, just more related to the Amy incident?

  20. This chapter was the opposite of Gag-inducing.

    I could quote Dot, but “Listen to your sister” caught me off guard. Best single line.


    »Had I pushed it with the ‘fucking’?«

    And then…

    »“Fucking listen to me, you miserable, deluded little monster!”«

    She could have blown it, but that was. So. Fucking. Great.

    Having mentioned all that…

    »Had I pushed it with the ‘fucking’?«

    I’m sure there’s a miserable, deluded little joke there, but…

  21. Wait, so renowned time-dilated hero Dauntless, with association of a creature that perceived the future, is attacking the Gibboram Knight even after it starts retreating from the danger zone. Presumably he either attacked to avoid a threat or he’s more malevolent than was formerly thought.

    That’s…concerning either way, really.

  22. Plot twist! This “Jessica” is really Riley’s brain piloting Jessica’s body. The strangling Victoria witnessed was Riley using Jessica’s body to incapacitate Jessica (in Riley’s body) after a minor problem in the brain swap caused a biochemical cascade that sent Jessica into a murderous rage (woops). The parameter’s of Riley’s body have since been dialed back to safer levels and Jessica is now using it to enjoy a nice, well deserved tropical vacation on a far away Earth while Riley does her darnedest to fill in for her back on Gimel.

    1. > Plot twist! This “Jessica” is really Riley’s brain piloting Jessica’s body.
      Could explain some things! 🙂 But Dragon should have noted or Defiant or some thinker should have alerted Wardens.

  23. I’ve been thinking about how Valkyrie chose which capes to “resurrect”, and which ones to keep as “shadows”… Remember how it was implied that Grasping Self’s avatar might have held back a bit against Victoria and co. due to Snag’s influence? Considering the number of people Valkyrie brought back for now it probably hardly matters yet, but… if someone figured out how to bring back something like tens or hundreds of thousands of capes back from the dead, could resurrecting only the at least somewhat decent people, while leaving the bad or outright monstrous ones dead, be an actually very dangerous idea? What if no “Snags” will remain on the shards side of things to rein various “Grasping Selfs” in?

  24. Now that Amy knows that Victoria has been hanging out with Tattletale, and that Vicky seems to be ready to accept that despite her own feelings on the matter Amy probably needs (and deserves) therapy more than life-long imprinsonment, I wonder if Tt would be willing and able to help with Amy’s mental recovery.

    In chapter 3.1 Tattletale dodged Victoria’s question if she regretted her part in what happened with Amy by turning it around and asking Victoria if she regretted her part. Are they both ready to admit that they do regret what they did? Are they ready to accept their shares of responsibility about what happened, to the point where they would be willing to work together to help Amy despite their other feelings about Amy and each other?

    If Tattletale is still unwilling to help with this matter, how can she be convinced otherwise? By pointing out that apparently one of the last things Skitter tried to do before she disappeared was to help the Dallon sisters? And what it would take to convince Victoria to work with Tattletale on this?

    In chapter 11.10 Foil said that Tattletale lacked a good purpose, and was destroying herself by either trying to tackle tasks that are not suited for her power and personality (like looking after the city), or focusing too much on helping Chicken Little who didn’t really need that much help. Assuming that Foil was right, would helping Amy be a better, healthier thing for Tattletale to focus on?

    And if Tattletale decided to help Amy recover, how could she do it? What could she offer as far as helping Amy goes that Amy’s family, heroes like the Wardens or Breakthrough, and various therapists like Jessica or Darnall can’t do themselves? More manipulation? Whom would she manipulate (Amy, Victoria, someone else), and how? Breaking Amy down (again), so she could be rebuilt as a better person? Something less underhanded? What would it be? Some key insights that everyone else lacks? If so – what insights, and who should she share them with? Something that Tattletale learned to do while helping other “broken” people like members of her own team and the Heartboken? Or maybe something that doesn’t depend on any particular skill or knowledge Tattletale may have – like an honest apology to Amy and/or Victoria for her role in breaking Amy down? Could that help, and if so – why, how, and whom?

    1. Or maybe despite all desire to help Tattletale may or may not have, the best thing she can do with Amy’s situation is to stay as far away from this particular problem as possible? If so, then once again – why?

  25. I always intend to make a long post with all my thoughts, but heck if I have the time. So I just want to say, this chapter had some really needed emotional release for Victoria (and myself).

  26. @Pizzasgood

    Can you *imagine* Riley trying to fill in as a psychologist/therapist for Jessica? Sitting in a chair next to the client as they recline in the stereotypical couch, expositing on their troubles in detail. “Have you tried sutures?”

  27. Breakthrough has lost a lot of its independence by accepting Warden oversight – something they probably won’t regain anytime soon (at least if they want to stay on friendly terms with the Wardens, which they most certainly do). At the same time during last night they managed to prove that they can enter the shard-space, and thanks to it not only gain some insights into how shards and powers work, but even score a major victory against Teacher by releasing his thralls and at least one shard from his control. On top of it there is a good chance that sooner or later Breakthrough will learn how to use the dreamscape to if not influence how the disaster in the city will happen (there may be too late for that), then at least to deal with the aftermath – something that Wardens are probably trying to figure out how to do, though possibly using different methods than interacting with the shard-space directly.

    Maybe the next logical step would be to formally incorporate Breakthrough into Wardens – either as an organized cell supervised by some senior Warden, or by disbanding Breakthrough entirely, and recruiting its individual members as Wardens with a promise that assuming they don’t do something like they did last night without their new superiors’ say so, they will still be allowed to continue working together in foreseeable future?

  28. Can Kronos’ pursuit of the Gibborim Knight take him far enough out of the city that he will finally be able to communicate without frying half of the electronic devices left in the Megalopolis?

    1. By the way – here’s a theory about what the Simurgh might have been doing with Kronos. Remember that even before he ended up in the time bubble, Dauntless was considered a cape who may one day become powerful enough to kill an Endbringer. As Kronos he probably is. This means that as soon as the city was mostly evacuated and Kronos felt that he could move without causing a massacre of civilians in the process, he probably would want to hunt down the remaining Endbringers. Except that after presumably being subjected to weeks of Simurgh’s song resembling newborn’s cry Dauntless probably can’t bring himself to attack this particular Endbringer anymore. If anything he will likely do anything to protect her instead. This means that Ziz may be safer next to Kronos than anywhere else in the multiverse, since Kronos will attack anything that looks like it may be a threat to her – especially if it somehow resembles an another Endbringer, and Gibborim Knight supposedly does.

      The question remains however, why would Simurgh do it? Just to gain a protector? Does she really need one? If so – why? Could it be because even her precognition has some blind spots, and she thinks she needs some muscle to compensate? Could it be because she wants to cause the disaster in the city for some reason? Maybe Ziz wants things to become so bad that Valkyrie will be forced bring Eidolon back?

      1. Heck, maybe even the Endbringers helped to kill Scion just to ensure that they will be able to keep fighting Eidolon, preferably without Golden Man’s interference?

  29. @Goldarmy
    > The fact this is shown to us in a reddit thread and not in the actual work itself, brings the whole planned thing into doubt.

    It was shown in the actual work itself. That WOG adds nothing new; it just points out the things from Carol’s interlude that should have been noticed when reading it, for those who were too dense to put two and two together on their own.

  30. I used to read all the comments but in the last year since 85% of them are Alfaryn replying to himself, and 5% more are Alfaryn replying to no one, I’d rather not take part in any discussion at all.

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