Infrared – 19.2

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I held my gun and trained it, best as I could when I couldn’t line up the sights, on an image of myself below.  A scene too distant to make out the particulars of, but ingrained enough in my memories that I intuitively knew what it was.  It helped that I knew that this search came down to picking one of the worst memories I had.

The longer I looked, the easier it felt to look past the darkness and the reds of the crystal itself and see through.  A dash of gold atop a white figure, a backdrop of gray that was almost blue, with hints of red and orange from distant, cheaply manufactured lights.  That gold jerked right, and a slash of crimson was left behind.

I itched to pull the trigger, to obliterate that scene.

Was it a defense mechanism?  Conjuring up those images as we hurt the crystal and dug deeper?

No, I decided.

No, just the mechanism.  Somewhere along the line, our enemies had decided strife and pain were more likely to stir up the kind of desperate, inspired thinking that they needed from the species they were terrorizing.  So they catalogued and studied it, kept tabs on it.  The triumphs too, the successes, but also what led up to those triumphs, which was often struggle.  I hadn’t been on the battlefield back then, but at one point in the struggle against Scion, one of the Suits had triggered and another cape on the battlefield had helped everyone there keep hold of the glimpses behind the curtain that came with triggering.

The cape, allegedly one of the capes from South Africa, had not wanted to be named.  Which was a shame, because they’d saved us.  I couldn’t say if it had helped in the final defeat of Scion, but it helped now.  Without that knowledge, we would be a people who had been attacked with no warning by our big golden savior, and we’d have no idea what was happening now.

We were fighting students of misery.  They kept records of our struggles and weaknesses, and they administered our powers.  Now, when we had the firmest grip on our powers and we were struggling most, they had more power over us than ever.

The scene replayed from another angle.  I could imagine it was from my dad’s point of view.

A bit of golden-blonde hair above a white bodysuit.  The Wretch taking hold of my mother, and swiping her against a concrete wall like someone might strike a match.

No illusions, no faking it.  The people down there could see me high above them, the gold on my gun contrasted against the night sky, held by the same pseudo-telekinesis that had maimed my mother.  They could see the repeated scene in the crystals.

I wanted to shoot now, to obliterate the scene, and make it so it wouldn’t play any more.  To do something to refute it.

Not that easy, Victoria.

I kept track of the Titans while watching the people work.  The Nemean Titan was prowling nearby, getting more confident in targeting capes as he got in close to some, stole their ability to move their own bodies or communicate, and got steadily more competent.

He didn’t move on all fours now, and he seemed taller and denser.  Like he couldn’t scale a skyscraper without simultaneously toppling it, now.

Three titans operated on coordination, and in this screwed up dynamic, Skadi was now effectively on our side.  Titans Oberon and Auger were on the far side of the battlefield, but the seemingly endless flesh monster were occupying them.

My finger had a tremor, as I held it near the trigger.

Seeing those images below made me want to pull the trigger.  Raw, base level emotion.

Seeing the Titans on the horizon, the sheer devastation, I wanted to pull the trigger and do something about it all.

But I knew that being close to pulling the trigger might draw Skadi to me.  Drawing her to me might mean there was one less thing fighting the trio of Nemean, Ophion, and the Stranger.  They weren’t brawlers like Oberon’s group seemed to be, but they were combatants who could use the slightest bit of disruption to make that one point of contact.  Nemean got close enough to steal away someone’s faculties in an instant.  Ophion pricked someone with a needle.  The Stranger stole sanity away with blasts we couldn’t see or avoid, short of staying behind cover.

The jittery movement of my finger almost reflected the three things pulling at me.  An emotional and a logical drive to pull the trigger, pull it, Victoria.  A feeling of wanting to not pull it and set the dominoes to toppling, where I couldn’t tell if it was logical or emotional.

Two things on one side, one thing on the other, I had to consciously put effort in to pull my finger away.  It would be disastrous to fire at the wrong time.

Two smaller things, one huge, overwhelming, frankly terrifying reality on the other.  The carnage would put lives at risk.  People I’d put in the line of fire.  That scared me more than me being hurt, pricked by Ophion, or having my sanity smeared out of my brain like I’d smeared my mother’s head against the wall.  I had to stop myself from pulling too far away, or even dropping the gun.

Focus, be readyWatch the Titans.

In the crystal, past the crystal, I saw glimmers of white.  Floors and walls made of white, nonporous sheets of polycarbonate.  One patch on the wall that was damaged, awaiting repair, with plastic sealed over it.  Pallid flesh that was hard to distinguish from the white tile.  And moisture, water being sprayed with the kind of nozzle that dishwashers in kitchens used.

Being washed, because I couldn’t wash myself.  This scene captured my attention because I couldn’t be sure what it was, even if I knew the where and approximate when.

It started with a splash, and I knew.

I looked away, to track the Nemean Titan, who was getting closer to me, running, bounding.  Not coming for me, not exactly, but veering closer to my direction as he chased a speedster.

I looked back to the tantrum.

I’m an educated, smart, well-dressed woman who can defend herself, who knows her shit, who protects the weak and hurts evil people.

Watch my naked, soaking wet, misshapen self tear apart a bathtub, scream -no sound when viewing crystal-pictures, of course-, and shove a nurse across a room.  Watch her -watch me- try to smash my head against the walls and sides of the tub, to try to break the forcefield so I could rake myself with fingernails or bludgeon myself into unconsciousness.  It was always back up just a bit too fast. 

I’m a heroine, dressed in black and gold, who gives her all, collecting injuries around the edges.  Even in my lapse from superheroics, I was working in the Patrol, trying to help the city and the people in it.  Trying to encourage compassion and balanced views in the officers I helped train and educate.

Watch me at my lowest points, wailing, unable to even wash myself, getting sores in creases and folds because refusing to cooperate and let myself be washed was one of the few choices I had.

Dozens, hundreds of bystanders were down there, many of them getting clear views of the scene.

I could imagine the expression they were seeing on my face when they looked through the crystal.  I’d seen it before, and not in a mirror.  When one’s body was like chunky puke spilling out over a bed or filling a bathtub, skin stretched over it, body parts sticking out, it was possible to see one’s own face.  Impossible to not see it, really.

A buried, dark part of me wanted to pull the trigger, knowing onlookers might be in the line of fire.  It would mean less people would see me like that.

“Is that you?” I whispered.  I tracked the Nemean Titan, and raised the laser cannon’s barrel to point at him, tracking his movement.  “Is that your nudges and attempts to influence me, when those especially dark thoughts come to the surface?”

The Fragile One was still and unresponsive.  No gestures, no lip movements, even as I relaxed my control.

“Or is it me?  Was it me that decided to grind my mother’s face into a wall, unconsciously?  Deep, buried feelings?”

No response.

“I’m trusting, with everything I have, that you’re on my side.  Based purely on you answering my call and jumping in like you did.  Like I would.  Ever since I woke up, I’ve been holding onto that,” I whispered.

The Nemean Titan got close enough to a pack of capes that they dropped out of the air, no longer coordinated enough to fly in a straight line.  I pulled the trigger before even thinking about it.

A golden light, cutting across the dark, ruined section of city, striking the Nemean Titan in the side of the head.  Locks of the golden ‘hair’, probably more solid and rigid than any concrete, fell away.

He put his paw-like hand in the way of the beam.  I adjusted, moving the cannon, and he was pretty quick in moving his hand to match.  The claw took less damage than the rest of him.

His posture shifted, hair gleaming gold in the radiance of the beam.  In that moment, I could see past the Titan to a Victor I had encountered in passing on the battlefield.  A kid, intimidated and putting on a front.  Very good at putting on a front, because it had been a skill he had stolen.  I’d moved on to something else, because I’d been young enough I wasn’t allowed to fight the supervillains, only the mooks.  The posture and stance had been very similar, back then.

Hi, Victor.

Lasers joined mine.  Red and violet.

He abruptly shifted footing, then leaped from a standing position to a damaged building.  The building toppled as he used it as a stepping point to lunge for the source of those other beams.

His moves were raw efficiency.  Oberon was power and speed, sheer ability and a weird kind of grace, if grace could be used in the same context as raw power, mass, and shockwaves being produced on landings.  Titan Nemean resembled a martial artist in some ways as he streamlined everything he did.  No wasted effort, one hundred percent awareness of what his form was doing.

He spun, turning quickly, and I almost missed seeing it.  The violet beam slashed out, striking at his hand, following something in the air, the beam stopping short instead of continuing down to hit the city, because it touched something.

I flew to one side, and felt the air woof as it whipped past me.  A dark, ice-crusted bit of concrete chucked my way, surreptitiously.

A second woof, a moment later, lower impact because I’d moved further away, and it traveled a slightly different course.

That would have ended me.

The card up his sleeve now spent, he wasted no time in repeating the effort.  I saw Crystal and my Aunt Sarah use forcefields to block or deflect chunks of concrete I couldn’t even see in the gloom.

I’d run into a wannabe ninja who hadn’t thrown actual ninja stars with the accuracy this monster was hurling slabs of concrete and roofing.

I shot it, training my laser on it in hopes of putting it of balance.  The beam had no recoil when I fired, but it did have an impact as it struck home.

Arms around its head, hand still placed roughly in the beam’s way, it crashed through a building that was already toppled, and dust exploded around it as it brought its arms out to either side.

This time, my warning wasn’t even a laser touching the projectile.  A momentary flash of red across the sky.

I dropped out of the air, because down was the only direction I could move quickly while lugging the gun around.

Even though I was falling through the air with no connection to the earth, I could feel the vibrations in the air as it started running.  I looked, and I didn’t see the Titan, but I did feel the vibrations growing more intense, second by second.

A trap.  I could see the explosions illuminating a city street to my left, as capes opened fire on the Nemean Titan, who had moved around to flank me, using the cover of buildings and rubble while dropping down to all fours to maintain a low profile.  Circling around to come at me from an angle I hadn’t one hundred percent anticipated.

Shitty thing was, it worked.

I dove low, and I let go of the gun, swearing under my breath.  Had to drop the dead weight, while he closed in.  Letting it drop to the ground.  Drop my forcefield to cut back on air resistance-

-Glance over my shoulder-

-Fly over the crack, full speed, because he was closing in.

Do nothing!  The thought was mine, a violent exclamation

A last-second gamble, only because I had no hand to play.  I felt him get close enough that his power swept over me.  Everything that wasn’t automatic was stolen from me.  My ability to reach for my power, my ability to move my body, my ability to think.  I couldn’t put a single coherent word together in my mind’s eye.

I was all disorganized thoughts and dull terror as momentum carried me through the air, heels over head, wind catching at my coat, whipping at my face and hood.

I followed the instruction to myself, staying limp, not trying to move or use my power.

The Nemean Titan stopped at the edge of the crack.  I hurtled in a loose arc over the hole between realities, to the far side, where shattered concrete and rubble awaited me.  Harder than a landing on hard ground.

I passed out of his range.  My senses were slow to return to me.  My sense of my own power was among them.

Wait, I thought, glad I could articulate at least a single syllable.

Wait.

Fly.

I took the last possible moment to pick up with flight, and found my grasp of it wobbly.  A half-moment of uncoordinated flying that moved me laterally.  Then upward flying, breaking my momentum.  The air pushed hard against me as I hit the ground, gilded kneepads, boot-toes, and gloves scraping against icy road as I landed on the far side of the crack.

He loomed on the far side, head bent, while I panted for breath, because I hadn’t been able to breathe while doing that.

Something below had his attention.  I was worried he was about to dive in, and I had no fucking idea what to do if he tried it.

Hesitantly, halfways hoping I’d get his attention in the course of it, I inched closer to the edge.

We’d picked an entry point where the highest point of the crystal landscape met the lowest point of our landscape.  The crystals were close to the surface, and it felt almost like they were putting individual, smaller scenes together to create the shadows and paler sections to pull the larger images together, because the titan was large enough to warrant something huge.

A boy, blond with a cut on his chapped lips, boot on the side of a girl’s face.  Boy and girl because they weren’t any older than Roman or Juliette.  He held a narrow pair of scissors inside the girl’s ear canal, his boot hiding her expression, though her hands reached up to grip at his ankle and the toe of his boot as he leaned on her.

An adjustment of the scissors made her flinch, freeze, then stop.  She didn’t move again as he removed the scissors and began snipping hair away from the side and back of her head.  Kinky locks of hair wound into locks with gold wire fell to the floor.

A prolonged scene.  The fighting between Titans was ongoing in the background, but the Nemean Titan didn’t move.

He stopped when there was nothing left to snip.

He looked back, ‘offscreen’, then took the scissors, still with lengths of hair sticking out around the place where the blades connected, and hesitated.  His expression, distorted because it was painted across an uneven surface, looked concerned for a moment.

A moment later, he stuck scissor blades into the ear canal in one abrupt, smooth motion.  Deep.

His victim reacted, thrashing, body arching.  Her face was visible for only a moment and it was a dull blur.  Not something the agent had recorded for posterity.  He brought his boot up and back down in a hard kick against the side of her face.

Knocking her out.  Maybe mercifully.

The scene tilted like the ‘camera’ floated underwater, unsteady, overcompensating.  Taking in more.  A young Victor used the toe of his boot to move his victim’s head.  Half shaved, half of it scuffed and bruised, blood in the ear canal, the other half left alone.

A man I didn’t recognize or know, older, put his hands on young Victor’s shoulders.  Two girls roughly his age approached, one of them with a smudge of blood around one nostril, a bloody handprint on her shoulder.  Too old to be Rune.  Wrong face shape to be Othala.

Maybe the younger girl was Othala.  Maybe she came in later.

Behind them were men.  A group, all standing together.

Attacking a family in their own home.  Outnumbering them, because they were fucking cowards.

Welcome to Empire Eighty-Eight?  More likely welcome to the Clans.  An induction for the younger generation.  Ugliness creating ugliness.

Gold letters appeared across my vision: YOU CAN SHOOT NOW.  ASAP WHEN YOU GET YOUR GUN.

I nodded for Lookout’s benefit.  I watched the scene, the group, the body of the girl lying on a kitchen floor.  Another woman sitting against the corner, maybe unconscious.

My adolescent anger at Empire Eighty-Eight felt so petty.  I’d seen the aftermath of beatings, I’d argued it, I’d hated them, but I hadn’t seen it or lived it.  Always a background thing I’d gone out of my way to confront or meet.

It just… felt bad, that it was such a big thing, seeing it, but it had occupied so relatively little of my thoughtspace.

Which, I felt, was still better than living it by perpetuating it.

I looked across the chasm at the Nemean Titan, who was distracted by a shift in the distant battle.  He looked back down at the chasm, at a scene of himself, a little older, at a stove with a cast iron pan in front of him.

He moved away, attention taken by the fighting, and the scene moved away with him.

Do you have any regrets now? I thought.

Do you feel one tenth as ugly as I feel, having this stuff exposed for the civilians to see?  Is that part of you there?

I hope some dim part of you realizes that this is now how people will remember you.

The images of Nemean had receded, and other ones appeared.  Rain killing Snag.  The silver line, the cut.

The aftermath, when he fell to his knees by Snag’s body, broken mechanical arms limp beside his ordinary ones.  The other members of the team making their way, our way to his side.  To support, encourage.  Or so it appeared.

Different, I thought.

Me as Glory Girl, facing down a thug.  He struck me, hit the forcefield, and did nothing.  I’d raised my foot, preparing to kick him in the hip.  He shielded himself with his hands ready, backing up.  It didn’t matter.  Flight got me close, strength like I could manage didn’t care about what he did.  The kick sent him skidding ten feet, ruined his hands while the kick still dislocated his leg from the socket of his hip.  The sudden movement of his lower body had been enough to do some minor damage to his spine.  Or so my sister would later tell me.

I’d stayed there, talking to him, taunting, until my family had arrived.  Uncle Neil and Dad.

No reprimands, no punishment.  Just a hand on my head, eliciting an annoyed look from me to my Uncle Neil, where I tried to fix my spiked tiara.

Different, I thought, again.  They deserved it.

Scenes flowed like water.  Always related in subtle ways.  Always, depending on where we looked, the landscape was consistent for a given location.

Students of misery, yes, but specific miseries.  This was a landmark point in the agents’ stores of physical ruin, maimings and destruction.  At least for this sub-network.  The landscape far below us was cracked, too.  It had its own gaps and chasms.  What lay us below wasn’t an endless plain, but a series of islands.  What the Titans were doing was connecting the islands together into a discrete whole.

WE’RE WAITING FOR YOU GUYS TO MAKE A MOVE.  WHEN YOU DO, I SAY GO AND OTHER TEAMS USE BOMBS.

I looked over at the Nemean Titan.  He stood near my gun, but didn’t target it.  I was almost more worried the capes who were bombarding him with powers would trigger something.

I KNOW YOU CAN’T GET TO IT YET. 

I looked down.  Some of the images reflected people in the crowd, people we’d sent down there.  I saw Love Lost eviscerating Teacher’s cape in Teacher’s old base.

Some of the people there, or the way they stood together, were a reflection of the images.  Pulling back, helping less, grouping together.  Talking.

Wondering just who they were working with.  What they were doing.

I’d bid them to come and they’d seen some monstrous parts of me.  Monstrous when devoid of context.

Monstrous even with context, too.

The Nemean Titan tried to leap to get closer to a cape.  Forcefields barred his way.

It was my opening.  I chased, flying over the gap, mindful of the marker Kenzie had put around the Nemean Titan that let me and the rest of the team see the estimated range.

I could only hope that a stray blast wouldn’t hit the gun before I got there.

In my haste, I tackled the thing, flying right into it, finding handholds, and using momentum to get it moving by scraping the topside of it against the ground.  Heels, feet, forcefield faces and other parts of me dug into the ground and snow to find leverage more than I aimed to stop outright.  Even though I was skidding toward the Nemean Titan’s range.

I found the leverage, lifted the thing up, and started flying.  I waited until I was more or less out of range of the Nemean Titan before I started shooting him.

The Titan whipped something at me.  Three somethings- I could see amid the orange and yellow of fiery explosions.  I veered to one side, and pulled back on the trigger, shooting somewhat blind in an effort to hit the incoming projectiles.  I hit one, and shifted direction, turning my back to things, while putting my body between the gun and the incoming chunks of rubble.

I heard them but didn’t see them.  No contact.

Without turning back around, I flew forward, over the crack.

IN FIVE.

Three seconds

FOUR…

That tremor caught my finger again.  I held my breath.

THREE…

The bombs they’d planted in the crystal landscape went off.  Three points below.

It felt like the world stopped.  A shudder ran through me, in a way I hadn’t ever felt.  Like feeling your stomach drop during a rollercoaster when you’d never felt your stomach drop before.  Feeling your bones rattle from an impact, when you’d never been that close to an earth-rattling explosion or collision.

Not my bones, not my body, and not my flesh.

NEED MORE.  TWO

The horizon was pink flesh illuminated by a hundred different powers with different lighting around them, if they had any lighting at all.  Titans fighting, capes fighting with everything they had.

Except the lights had gone out.  They’d all felt that impact too.  The fighting had stopped for one moment, as everyone found their equilibrium, and the only lights that remained were from silver fire that kept burning in patches, or glowing constructions that still hung in the air.  Minions that hadn’t disappeared when their masters lost their focus.

ONE…

I almost fired on one, but the ellipses stopped me.  Again, my finger shook.

Skadi appeared near me.  I was anticipating her, and let myself fall, to buy myself seconds.  She was a skyscraper filled with fury and violence, dropping in next to me with no warning, tipping my way.

So instead of merely dropping, I flew down, adjusting the speed of my descent, so the blade cleaved the air above me.

Fury and violence.

What happens when we obliterate the library where they store all their memories of violence and ruin?

GO

Still falling, I pulled the trigger, and I went from seeing gold letters against a black and red backdrop to seeing the Stygean Blue aftermath of those letters, and the golden beam.

The initial impact elicited that same shudder as before, though it felt like it came from a different direction.  The bulk of Skadi beside me reacted.  She hit the edge of the crevice, found her equilibrium, and slashed for me again.  This time I slowed my fall, best I could.  It hardly mattered, because she crashed through the crack.  I did my best to steer upward and break the fall while still aiming on target.  For two or so seconds, I was off-target, hitting the ground five to ten feet near the blast zone.  I found my target for two more seconds.

The laser punched through.  It was like pressing my hand flat against a wall, pushing, and feeling the hand go all the way through.  Except the feeling of breached reached through me, was me.  My fragile agent.  My power.

The strength went out of me, in a very different way than it had when I’d been flying into the region below.  That had been like I’d been swimming through muddy water, getting thicker as I went down.

This was more like I was swimming and finding my arms and legs just didn’t have the strength.  I hurried to get closer to terra firma, feeling that strength bleeding out.

In the distance, the wall of flesh collapsed, breaking under its own weight.  Oberon was enmeshed in hand to hand combat with the other flesh-creature, and collapsed as it did.  Ophion tipped over.  A figure in the background, black as night from head to toe, with something like tv static buried deep within itself, dropped, and landed with enough force that shoulder sheared from torso.  Skadi, who had appeared too late, was gone.

I aimed for it, firing.  The beam lanced out, bright against the darkness, and sheared off part of its head.

No strength, no durability.

I felt the gun move, my hand involuntarily shifting, unable to point directly at it.  It was regaining some strength.

“Hit them!” I screamed the words.

Hoping others would hear.

The gun’s shuddering as it streamed out its golden laser got worse, and with my powers being weak, the forcefield wasn’t strong enough to take it.  With it gone, my flight went too.

I and the gun dropped the last ten feet to earth.

The landing was rough.  The gun wobbled on landing and the barrel nearly brained me.

Lying on my back, staring at the night sky above me, I closed my eye, holding it closed until Kenzie’s camera display came up.  I navigated through.  Checking on the others.

Sveta had collapsed, her limbs and lower body a spaghetti tangle of very flat tendrils.  A Number Boy was very close to her, kneeling.  Whippersnap wasn’t far, either.

Tristan was grimacing, a blur tearing across part of his body, blue shades dancing with red ones.

Other capes, all around them, were struggling, trying to find their equilibrium.

And Rain-

In trying to get to him, I saw a glimpse of what Kenzie had been trying to capture on displays to send out to others, alongside Kenzie’s hands, poised above the keyboard, doing nothing.  She was saying something, going by how her head moved, the glance to her right at Chicken Little.

That display showed the map of connections between Titans.  A map of gray tendrils and bright white straight lines.  A red x between two.

I looked over at Rain, moving on to the next viewpoint.

It wasn’t his eyes I saw through, but an external view of the space beyond the Dream Room.  He was out there with Colt, next to a crystal pillar.  Working.

Love Lost stood on a ledge, looking out over the side.  One of the agents from within the system had felt what we’d done, much as the Titans had.

We’d hit them where it hurt all of them.

And in the doing, we’d thrown our own powers for a loop.

I could feel my powers stirring, struggling to find their way back to even footing.  I didn’t push the Fragile One to perform.

Instead, wincing as I was forced to put weight on my foot, I tended to the gun, checking it over.  One rough catch, two short falls.  I couldn’t keep treating it like this and expecting it to perform.

The Stranger was starting to draw near, now, or its range was increasing back to what it had been.  I could tell because the area I couldn’t bring myself to look at was shifting, growing.

They were recovering faster than we were.

THAT DIDN’T NOT WORK

I used eye movements and blinks to slowly navigate the menu back to the perspective where I could see Kenzie.  In the course of getting there, I saw Sveta pulling herself together.  Tristan wasn’t blurry or hurting anymore.

Tristan’s viewpoint looked out over toward the Titans.  Skadi was off in the distance, and was hurt with one arm limp at her side, and wasn’t healing the hurt.

Ophion impaled Oberon, but the impaling spines were slower, shorter, weaker than before.  The impaled Titanflesh formed tumors, but the tumors were small.

THEY WERE TRYING TO TAKE OVER EACH OTHER’S NETWORKS WHEN WE HIT ‘EM.  DAMAGE RIPPLED THROUGH.

Capes were mobilizing.  Tristan was urged to head over toward the Stranger Titan.

I wished our side was recovering faster.

RAIN GETS A QUIET COUPLE OF MINUTES TO MESS AROUND IN THE INTERNALS.

That was good.  It could be what we needed.

SKADI ISN’T PART OF OBERON NETWORK ANYMORE.  INDEPENDENT.

That was the red ‘x’, I assumed.

Okay.

I gave lifting the gun a try.  I was annoyed by the Stranger Titan’s approach.  Moving faster.

The Fragile One was still too weak.

So I floated, mindful of the Stranger Titan’s reach and power.  I kept a building between myself and my best guess of it’s location.

Too close.

I watched the fighting, tense, waiting for the point our side recovered, and hoping we’d bounce back to one hundred percent before the Titans did.  If the Titans could.

As best as I could figure it out, we’d nuked them right in one of their capital cities, but we’d still dropped a nuclear bomb on the same continent in which we all lived.

GETTING FIRST REPORTS IN: POWERS ARE DIFFERENT.

“Different how?” I asked the night air.

SUBTLE CHANGES TO A LOT OF CAPES.  WITHIN TTSE, WHATEVER THAT MEANS.  MORE INFO TO COME.  BE SAFE LOVE YOU.

I knew what it meant, but I wasn’t in a position to address the team.

TTSE was power testing terminology.  Training, Tolerances, Sechen, Evolution.  Capricorn would know it.  Powers were weird, powers changed over time.  They could be trained with meditation or practice, certain uses pulled out, they could be strained to certain limits, and those limits weren’t just raw power, but included duration and range.  They changed as our mood did, as we got closer to certain triggers.  And some were just meant to change by certain metrics.

In effect, Powers were different, but not in any drastic ways that challenged baseline expectations of where a power might go with training or mood.

I reached out with the Fragile One.

I couldn’t tell, but I still had the control.

Still with me?

I could feel the Stranger getting closer.  A little nervous now, I flew down to the ground, to the gun that I’d left there.  I knelt atop it, and unfurled the Fragile One.

Hands didn’t reach handholds.

Are you weaker?  Smaller?  What happened to you?

The Stranger drew ever closer, and I felt a bit of panic.  I didn’t want to leave my gun behind, but if I gave him another twenty seconds, he’d be on top of me or my gun, and I wouldn’t be able to turn my attention or reaching hands toward my weapon.

Forcefield fingernails dug into the gun’s housing, The hands that needed to be in certain places to pull triggers and hold the thing found those places.

Sorry, Gun, I thought.

I lifted it, and metal creaked.  I didn’t trust myself to fire it like this.

But I brought it with me, and I scrammed, flying into the shallowest parts of the crack for visual cover from the Stranger Titan.

I could hear the fighting resuming.  Powers partially or wholly back.  Titans, as far as I knew, still limping.  People in the landscape below were moving now, and they were fortunate in that they hadn’t really stopped while the rest of us had been reeling.  Helicopters and trucks were audible, all in the one direction.

I kept an eye on them.  I’d make sure they were safe to evacuate, distract any of the other Titans, and then reunite with my team.

Crystal and Aunt Sarah found me, falling into loose formation with me.  It made me feel a hell of a lot better.

ALL TITANS EXCEPT TWO WERE HIT BY TAHT.

“Arachne,” I whispered.  One of the ones who wasn’t linked in.  Hunter.  “And?”

TITAN FORTUNA DISCONNECTED JUST BEFORE THE BLAST, RECONNECTED.  UNTOUCHED.

TITAN FORTUNA IS HEADING TOWARD SHIN.  TOWARD CHRIS.

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46 thoughts on “Infrared – 19.2”

  1. -Victor is such a huge ass and I hope that he’ll be the first Titan who’ll be obliterated in thousands of small parts while he’ll feel every single second of his destruction. He was always nothing but a monster. He disgusts me so much.

    -Chris is FUCKED. Titan Fortuna will probably want to kill him and there’s NOTHING that can save him from her, except for Simurgh if she’ll be interested in his survival. He’s doomed.

    -Poor Victoria having to relive the worst moments of her life. Worst, have other people watching her worst moments :(.

    -Yay for Number Lads helping. I wonder if the one Number Lad with Sveta is the one who have some feelings for her. I hope so because I kind of ship them :).

  2. ALL TITANS EXCEPT TWO VOTED FOR TAHT.

    “Arachne,” I whispered. One of the ones who wasn’t linked in. Hunter. “And?”

    TITAN FORTUNA DISCONNECTED JUST BEFORE THE BLAST, RECONNECTED. UNTOUCHED.

    TITAN FORTUNA IS VOTING ON TOP WEB FICTION. TOWARD WARD.

    http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=ward

  3. Or maybe she’s planning to turn Chris into a Titan and add him to her network. Titan Fortuna needs powerful Titans by her side.

  4. TITAN FORTUNA DISCONNECTED JUST BEFORE THE BLAST, RECONNECTED. UNTOUCHED.

    TITAN FORTUNA IS HEADING TOWARD SHIN. TOWARD CHRIS.

    Best Girl is incoming!

  5. – Wait, is this…a victory? A success?

    The characters tried a thing and it worked out okay, mostly the way they hoped it would, rather than the sitation becoming worse in some unforseen and horrific way? My God!

    Or is WibblyBob just building up hope before something extra EXTRA bad happens?
    I’m scared to hope…

    – I like the way Victor’s portrayed. From the attitude, to the power he got, to the way he fights even when he’s a nigh-invincible titan – he’s fundamentally a coward. It fits!
    But also, fuck that guy.

    1. Well, I call it a small victory. There’s still time for worse things to follow this small and passing victory once Titan Fortuna will find Chris and/or Amy.

  6. While it’s awful for Victoria to have to relive her worst moments in front of everyone, there’s one person who’d benefit from seeing them: Amy.

    It’s easy for someone to say ‘I’m a good person really!’ or ‘I wasn’t really me!’ when you’re in another world not facing it, but when directly faced with the consequence of their actions? A lot harder.
    It might cut though some of the bullshit excuses Amy’s built up to protect herself.

    If only we knew someone who could make sure Amy saw a recording of Victoria’s suffering (possibly every day, for forever). Some kind of – Tinker, maybe – who’s known for recording everything and having everyone’s contact details…

    1. This should be obligatory part of her therapy sessions. Being forced to watch what she did to Victoria every session.

  7. Well there are two things that I’m most curious about the fallout of:
    1. The civilians who saw the struggles and terror of the capes (I wonder if any of them brought phones with them)
    2. Whose power might be notably changed

  8. What does Sechen mean? It’s the S in TTSE, and also maybe a Kpop guy’s name?
    Also, I wonder who had their power changed, and how.

  9. @centipedal
    It’s been mentioned before; seems to be the name of some power researcher, by analogy to “Manton limits”. Sechen ranges are aspects of a power that fluctuate based on a cape’s mindset (specifically, their mindset’s proximity to their trigger mindset). Like, Taylor’s range was a Sechen range that was also a literal range.

    @Chimi
    …huh, yeah, that is very foreboding.

  10. Typo Thread:

    flesh monster were > flesh monsters were
    course-, > course-
    of balance > off balance
    violent exclamation (missing punctuation)
    lay us below > lay below us
    Three seconds (is this intentionally different from the count? also no punctuation)
    Stygean > Stygian
    expecting it > expect it
    it’s location > it’s location
    TAHT > THAT

    1. I assumed TAHT was an intentional typo made by WB to represent an accidental typo made by Kenzie. Honestly, I’m surprised we don’t see a lot more typos by Kenzie. She must be working at a frantic pace, multitasking all the while, and yet we almost never see her make typing mistakes.

    2. “the feeling of breached reached through me,”
      Something feels off.

      “best guess of it’s location.”
      >its

  11. Titan Fortuna:
    “You guys sound busy, I’mma just going to hang up for a minute or so, then I’ll call back.”
    ….
    *explosions happen*
    ….
    “Oh, What’s that? Whatdid I miss?”

  12. Of course Fortuna’s unaffected. Of course. She’s always been hard to surprise. Skadi’s another who is hard to surprise, but only because usually she’s the one surprising you when you’re preparing to go fight her.

    Victor’s a dick, but I like his power. Always kinda did. I’d be interested in seeing his trigger, unless that was it recorded on the crystal with the woman and the scissors.

  13. The plan worked! At this current moment it seems. Titan Hunter and Titan Fortuna are still contenders though, and I’m both hyped and hyperventilating from her coming for Chris.

    @luna: I love how passionate you are with your comments. Please never stop! <3

  14. 1. “Skadi was now effectively on our side”
    Why and since when? Probably I missed something in previous chapter…

    2. “TITAN FORTUNA IS HEADING TOWARD SHIN. TOWARD CHRIS.”
    Chris have technology to create Endbriclones. If Fortuna could titanize some Endbriclone… With titan-network it would be possible to control them completely.

    3. “POWERS ARE DIFFERENT. SUBTLE CHANGES TO A LOT OF CAPES.”
    As a result of explosions in Shardspace. I guess something similar to rerouting inside that “computer system”. So the more damage they do the more powers will change, but some could stop or broke.
    I wonder, wouldn’t it be more useful to fire Victoria’s gun (or similar stuff) into crystals than to place explosives…

  15. I think this chapter calls to atention one of the main strong points of worm/ward that a lot of people, in universe and out of it (readers) often miss, and thats the nuance of characters. How many of them have done terrible things at one point or the other and they have grown out of it or not. White and Black, Good and Evil, Hero and Villain are labels that dont really stick on human beings and fail to completely say who and what they are. People make mistakes, people change, people are a sum of many things and events and encounters that shape who they are.

    Victoria and Rain have done pretty awful things and that is a fact. They have hurted others, been petty, inmature, wrong, violent, out of control, arrogant…it comes to light in this chapter, with the bonus of Victor who, on the opposite side of our heroes, is a horrible person all along. And yet the implications are there, that there is not such thing as an absolute when it comes to good and evil.

    Victor was also a terrified boy/young man who was initiated into violence since childhood. “Ugliness creating ugliness”. Victoria lashed out in moments of trauma and extreme pain, and was a violent hero because she was raised with parents that hadnt been that impressed with her until she triggered. She overcompensated, and nazis seemed to be an aceptable target of violence, and her view of the world was simplistic enough, that hurting bad people wasnt something bad in her eyes, a view that Amy shared at early worm. Rain was raised in a pretty abusive cult and indoctrinated since early age. One may even compare the Fallen to the Clans and Rain to Victor, to an extent. They were equally brutal, equally manipulated, but Victor never grew out of it and activately enjoyed it.

    With all of the symbolism of diferent faces of the same person, different sides of the shard, so to speak, it would be a good thing to see people as a sum of their parts rather than just stick with one aspect of them, and understand them of something more than Evil and Good. I see some happy for Chris/Amy possibly dying and I dont like it. I feel you miss the whole point of the series, over and over, is just easy to see on characters you like, like Victoria and Rain rather than on Amy and Chris. I wish Amy/Chris died, I wish Amy was showed Victoria´s suffering(good) every day for the rest of her life(you were doing so good)

    That was a comment made by @BlueHorus that gave me a deja vu to an often misunderstood Black mirror episode, White Bear. That woman was a bad person, the complice to a pedophile that murdered a little girl. And yet the daily, continued suffering she was dealt as punishment for her actions speak more of her tormentors than they do of her. It says that people are often too willing to engage in violence and torture, therefore look for an “aceptable” outlet of said violence. Is cruelty and sadism anyway, but we feel justified in doing so. Is bad people, so we are doing nothing wrong. As Amadeus from A practical guide to evil would say “Justifications only matter to the just” is the heroes who often justify a lot of their actions.

    This goes in general for readers that are all too happy to inflict whatever messed up torture on Amy/Chris, but also for how Victoria felt justified in maiming nazis, and Rain and Victor in those they were taught to consider inferior. And yet, they have grown or madured past it (Except Victor, tho, Im convinced he was about to hit event horizon and didnt cause he titanized) and we allow them to move past their past mistakes. It will be great if after seeing that, people will let them move on their past, and if s as readers will let some other characters, such Amy and Chris a chance as well.

    1. First, my opinion about the protagonist from the White Bear is that she deserved her fate as she not only did nothing to stop her boyfriend to rape and kill that little girl but also she recorded and enjoyed it. She was a bad person and she surely deserved this punishment (I really want this punishment to be possible in real life, especially for rapists and serial murders. There people…they’re the kind of people that I’ll never give a second chance. Did they ever gave their victims a second chance? No. Then why they should receive a similar treatment?).

      The same for Amy and Chris. They don’t regret what they did/they’re doing, they don’t want to change, they don’t even realize that they’re bad people (Amy even believe herself to be “good”) why they would deserve a second chance then? Rain and Victoria regretted their actions and CHANGED. This is why they deserve a second chance. But the others…until they’ll regret what they did and will decide to change. I personally don’t believe that Amy and Chris deserve another chance. They already got too many chances and they rejected all of them (Amy accepted therapy, yes, but…she still is unable
      to realize that she hurt Victoria and she should apology/stop hurting Victoria further).

      Sorry, but I’m not a goody-two-shoes like you, especially with bad people who refuse to change. My philosophy is simple: if you want to be forgiven, freaking change into a better person. If you don’t want to change and continue harming people, then you must endure whatever punishment the people have prepared for you. This is not cruelty, this is justice done in the name of the innocent victims of these “people”.

      This and I think we have to accept people’s different opinions. Why judge the readers for feeling like this for Amy and Chris? Its their opinion, they can think however they want about certain characters they like or not. If they want Amy and Chris to die or suffer, its their business. Doesn’t mean that they’re bad people because they want these villains to get their comeuppance. My opinion is that I really don’t care what will happen to them. As long as Fortuna doesn’t turn them into her titans then anything else is fine for me.

      1. David, you got Nauro wrong. They doesn’t judge us, the readers, because we want Amy and Chris, two obviously irremediable assholes (this is MY opinion about them), to pay for their wrongs. Nauro weant us to forgive them, even if they’re evil because they believe that they can change and if we believe in them then we can forgive them. I don’t personally believe in them or in their ability to ever change, but if Nauro believes then I’m glad they’re so optimistic and kind even towards these monsters. They’re very few people who can forgive so easy and who, in their kindness, believe that even the most evil persons (fictional or not) deserve a chance. Nauro seems to be one of these people and if they’re like this in real life too, then I’m happy to see that people like them still exist. I’m not a forgiving person in general BUT I don’t judge when some people honestly believe in the power of forgiveness (I have no right to judge them or condemn them and in my opinion, they’re what I’d like to call genuinely good people). Please, don’t be harsh with Nauro, they asked us to forgive, they didn’t forced us, try to see the difference.

        May this year will bring you and Nauro happiness and a lot of new inspirations on your life. Wish you a year fully loaded with happiness.

    2. I think this chapter calls to atention one of the main strong points of worm/ward that a lot of people, in universe and out of it (readers) often miss, and thats the nuance of characters. How many of them have done terrible things at one point or the other and they have grown out of it or not. White and Black, Good and Evil, Hero and Villain are labels that dont really stick on human beings and fail to completely say who and what they are.

      Unfortunately when it comes to Wildball antagonists all the nuance evaporates and they all boil down to being evil scum. Alexandria was one, Coil, Jack, Heartbreaker, Kaiser, Emma Barnes, Jack, Scion, Valethor, Mama Mathers, Ingenue, Goddess, all were evil scum as well.

      It will be great if after seeing that, people will let them move on their past, and if s as readers will let some other characters, such Amy and Chris a chance as well.

      Except it is not up to us readers to give them a chance, it is up to Wildbow.

  16. 1. “Skadi was now effectively on our side”
    Why and since when? Probably I missed something in previous chapter…

    The second wave of titans — Nemean, Ophion, and Stranger — are all networked. Skadi is not a part of that network and correctly views them as a threat — note the part where Nemean sapped her powers. When Victoria said that they were effectively on the same side, she meant that both the humans and Skadi were viewing the other three as the bigger threat and focusing their efforts on fighting them instead of each other. Mostly.

  17. @david
    The point of white bear is not if she deserved the punishment or not, is that it got to the point where people where actively enjoying and having fun with torturing someone. People made tours, acted excited and happy as if they were going to Disneyworld. They were being as sadistic as the person they were punishing, and felt justified in doing so because she was a horrible person. Thats why we have death penalty and long life prison sentences and we dont torture inmates like we used to do in the dark ages. Is not even the only time they do that in black mirror!!The father of the girl from Black museum, seen as a criminal, was being tortured daily for being a criminal(he was innocent but people believed him to be guilty)and copies were made of him to suffer FOREVER.

    The point is that eternal torture of criminals is wrong because we are supposed to be better than them. Yet people keep missing the point in white bear, you only support my opinion with your opinion. I wont expand on this, as this is not a Black mirror forum, if you got it,if you dont, tough luck.

    Dont give criminals a second chance. Give them the chair. Dont build the disneyworld of torture porn around them and buy souvenirs about how much fun you had torturing them. Is sick.

    Is funny how you tell me to respect other opinion´s then call me a goody two shoes. Im not. Im not a good person or a terrible one, Im just someone who likes analyzing what she reads, and gets annoyed when the author is trying to build up a theme, a narrative, and people ignore it like this is some shallow american action film and we can go “Kill the bad guys” and thats it. The only reason Victoria and Rain get a pass is not regret is perspective. Like I have said over and over here, if Love Lost would have been in Breakthrough instead of Rain, no one here would forgive him no matter how regretful.

    (Amy accepted therapy, yes, but…she still is unable
    to realize that she hurt Victoria and she should apology/stop hurting Victoria further).

    Dude, she had like, ONE therapy session. ONE. As a person who has gone to therapy over many issues, one session barely stands to sort of tell your therapist a rough outline of what the fuck is wrong with you. She may come to realize the horror of what she did(Or rather stop hiding from it. She was clearly aware of it on her interlude in worm when she went to the birdcage)but unless she gets some parahuman therapist whose power is so therapy, one session doesnt do jackshit.

    And she needs a therapist that cares for her. Like I said, therapy veteran here, it was annoying to see Yamada frame everything she said to Amy in relation to what is good for Victoria and her mental health. Is your therapy sesion, it should be focused on you. When I went to therapy it was focused on me, not my abuser, and viceversa, for all I know. Thats why is not ethical or profesional for a therapist to treat the abuser and the survivor, as they will be biased and dont do a proper job. Thats how therapy works, is a fact. If you dont believe me, ask a therapist worth its salt.

    Also, I have never said people who want Chris and Amy to die are bad. I just say they are missing the point of Worm/Ward, the ones I called bad/sadistic were the people from white bear. That is my opinion so please respect it as well as you ask me to respect yours.

    >Why judge the readers for feeling like this for Amy and Chris? Its their opinion, they can think however they want about certain characters they like or not

    Yes they can, and so can I, so dont come at me because my opinion is diferent than yours. I know I dislike characters people love, like Sveta or Damsel. Fuck, are we going to talk about how according to you, being regretful is what matters, but Damsel doesnt regret not a single thing, still wants to be a villain, and recently made fun of Victoria over Mockument´s parody of her, over trauma and very hurtful things on Victoria´s past, the fact that she deliberately hurted her and NOBODY CARES???She never apologized for it, and it was fucking awful!!I was in tears for Victoria the entire time and the bitch gets a fucking pass for it??Because she is not Amy I guess, everyone gets a pass if they are not Amy I GUESS. Kenzie loves the fuck out of Damsel even after how she treated Victoria.

    …Okay I went on an unrelated rant but it still annoys me to this day.

    @ninegardens
    Thanks, really. Is nice to know that someone agrees with me on this.

  18. Naoru, but people doesn’t like Damsel. Nobody like Damsel. We all know that Damsel is a horrible person, so very different from Swansong. We liked Swansong, our Ashley. Swansong was an evil bitch at the beginning, then she became one of the kindest teammate, especially toward Kenzie. Our Ashley died to save her whole teammate. Our Ashley was an angel. This Ashley (Damsel) is a heartless bitch, I don’t think I’ll ever like her if she doesn’t try to change her attitude. Yes, she’s pretty badass, scary and intelligent, but that’s it. She doesn’t have any other qualities besides these, just like Kenzie said.
    I adore Sveta (I don’t know why you don’t like her but its your opinion and I respect it). Sveta have a heart of pure gold and she’s a wonderful friend and ally, I’d love to have a friend exactly with her personality in real life.
    I’m so sorry hearing that you went through therapy. I have a close friend that went through therapy as well because she was very badly bullied at school and I know how it is. I hope you’re ok now. Have a wonderful new year.

    1. I still havent got over swansong’s death, she was my favorite breakthrough member along with Kenzie. I think what annoys me is that inverse, Damsel gets away with a lot of things. Making fun of Victoria’s caricature made by mockument was vicious and nasty, and like I said in its day it broke my heart because Damsel knew how cruel she was being, and it just wasnt okay and nobody called her out for it. I mean around her not the readers. Though I do was working under the assumption that the readers liked her, Im happy to be wrong.

      I dont hate Sveta. I know she has many wonderful qualities, is a great friend, a team mom, and a generally pleasant person to be around. She just annoys me. She is more of a stereotypical teen and she can get annoying when it comes to cauldron(Justified,but still)Tattletale and some other villains. She can be as annoying as early Amy in worm who almost fucked everything because of her irrational hate of tattletale that she still holds to this day. Is a personal pet peeve of mine with Sveta and most of the time I like her just fine. The one breakthrough member Im passionate about is Kenzie and people love her so I dont get in rants over her lol

      Im fine now, sort of, thanks for asking!I have bad days but I have the tools to handle it, so Im cool. Happy new year to you too!

  19. Well, Sveta’s hate for Cauldron is very justified (Cauldron destroyed her life and they weren’t good people anyway even if their intentions were good). Every single Cauldron’s victim who hate Cauldron for what they did to them and who wanted to get revenge is perfectly justified and I support them. Yes, Sveta’s hate for people who have nothing to do with Cauldron or weren’t such amoral criminals like Legend and Citrine is not justified but Sveta doesn’t know what we know about Legend and Citrine (that they weren’t involved in Cauldron’s crimes. Citrine wasn’t involved at all). She’s not us, to know everything about other characters’ past. She’s just a character with limited knowledge about the world she lives in. This is the reason why I can’t judge her for hating Legend/Citrine. If I were in her place, I think I’d hate even the simple mention of Cauldron.
    I understand Amy hate for Tatttletale too. Tattletale caused Amy to doubt about herself and her family. She was the one who started everything by moving the first domino piece. She’s partially responsible for Amy’s gradually downfall. I like Lisa a lot but she did a lot of bad things and she doesn’t even feel sorry for some shit she did. Lisa is not a very good person, I admit it.
    Kenzie also tortured her parents, remember? (she was justified but its still torture and you’re against torture).
    Thank you.

    1. I understand both Amy and Sveta in hating Tattletale/Citrine, which is why I dont hate Sveta,she just annoys me. And why I call early Amy annoying. Tattletale has done a lot of bad things, but being so against her when it obvious she wants to help and will help, to the point it gets in the way of things,is pretty annoying.

      Like I said is a personal pet peeve. I know is nothing in the great scheme of things, but it gets on my nerves. I know is unfair of me to Sveta, but is kind of a minor thing against her for that and being a stereotypical teen a lot of the time. Other than that I like her just fine she has had some great moments.

      Now,Kenzie and her parents…I was so against that. She could have used that evidence to put her parents in jail, yet she decided to torture them. It was a sick, toxic situation she was in, and she had to be taken out because she obviously wouldnt do it herself. Kenzie is similar to Amy in that, they went down a slippery slope and things never stopped to get worse for them until they did something horrifying. Victoria saved Kenzie from herself and continues to do so every single day, her and Kenzie’s support network.

      I dont think Kenzie is even fully ok now,but like Amy I want to believe she can improve and get to a somewhat okay place. Which is why worries me that minus Mark, Amy’s support network just enables her and doesnt force her to face her problems. But I digress. Point is yes, Im against what she did to her parents,still like her.

      1. How I personally saw Kenzie torturing her parents scene. I actually was glad for what she did to her parents (they made her suffer so she made them suffer in return). Call me sadistic, I don’t care, but I’m all for eye for eye, tooth for tooth. You hurt me, I hurt you back, something like this. But, my problem with Kenzie is that- by torturing them, she tortured herself too. She exposed herself to further abuses from them, she allowed them to POISON her so she’ll have enough evidences against them. She blackmailed them and terrorized them but she was terrorized too. She hurt them but she also hurt herself. This is the only reason why I think that what she did was wrong- because she allowed them to abuse her further. She got her revenge on her abusers but she also became her own abuser. I’m gland that Victoria convinced her to stop not because I was feeling sorry for her parents (they deserved everything they got and even more) but because she’d have destroyed herself in the process of punishing them.
        Kenzie’ story life sucks. She’s such a good kid with such a sad life. I’m glad that now she have friends that she can count on: Victoria, Sveta, Aiden, Rain, even Candy (even if Heartbroken treat her horrible at times, Candy is good with Kenzie).

  20. @ Naoru
    Ironically, *I* agree with you. The White Bear episode of Black Mirror disgusted me, because it went far, FAR past the point of punishment, well into sadism. Thcharacter in the episode were enjoying what they did WAY too much and it didn’t resemble justice in any form, whatever they wrote on the sign of their park.

    I also agree that WigglyBear* is very good at showing how characters ended up the way they are.
    Victor is a great example in that almost everything about him is based on fear: the aloof attitude, the way he presented a front, powers based around stealing other people’s abilities for himself and the way that- even as a Titan – he’s skulking at the edges of the battlefield targeting defenceless civilians until he feels brave enough to take on Capes, who might hurt him (slightly). He is, in a very real sense, pathetic.
    Yet – all that said: knowing this doesn’t really help the woman with the scissors jammed into her ear canal much, does it?

    But you’re right: regardng Amy Dallon, endlessly beating her over the head with her crimes would, utimately, be cruel. And pointless.
    Mentioning it a few times is worth doing. Showing her footage Victoria as the Wretch would be worth doing.
    But only in that it might bludgeon its way though her layers of denial and get her to face what she’s done, which I get the impression she’s desperate to avoid doing… plus, it would take some tenacity to actually get through to her.
    However, sending her reminders FOREVER would be both mean and counterproductive, simply enforcing the denial. Ultimately, the only person who can redeem Amy Dallon is herself.

    Saying ‘forever’ was hyperbole, and partially motivated by the (darkly amusing) though of Kenzie setting up an automated email account that sends a message with the headline ‘YOU’RE A HORRIBLE PERSON’ every single day to Amy.
    Just imagining Amy scrolling through her emails every morning and going ‘Goddamit, AGAIN?’ makes me chuckle.

    *Deliberately mis-saying ‘Wildbow’ is a witty thing to do, right?

    1. I dont know if is witty, but is certainly cute.

      I agree with you on everything. Amy’s denial confuses me sometimes because back in worm,when she was fresh to the birdcage, she was aware of what she had done,didnt wanted to use her powers ever again,then Marquis helped her hold to her memories of Victoria as she was, which was great of him btw,the thing with the tattoos. And now she is in deep denial about her own guilt and rationalizing everything around that.

      I dont how she got to where she is now, compared to how she was at the end of worm. I dont know if is a writing problem or if something happened.My theory is that Carol reconected with her,made her have hope to reconcile with Victoria and she figured if Victoria forgave her, then it was ok?so she started getting in denial?Idk I just hate Carol with a pasion.

      Showing her footage is a good idea but I think it would help a lot if she was forced to face what she did by someone that is not Victoria’s friend. I think so far she rationalizes it as “They are her friends so they are obviously on her side”It doesnt help that she is surrounded by enablers. Even then,she has to want to change.

      Victor…yeah,he is pathetic. Is sad,because he shares a similar background with Rain,but he wasnt as strong as Rain was and never moved past his indoctrination and past like Rain did. Is sad because he got separated from all of his nazi friends, and was starting to see that what he had done only isolated him from everyone. And he got titanized. He was like,almost there. Redemption is not for everyone I guess.

      Also,Im glad you agree with me about white bear is incredible how many people miss the point of the episode.

      1. “Redemption is not for everyone I guess”
        I agree so much with you here. Not everyone can be redeemed. Someone like Victoria, Rain, Tristan, OUR Ashley, some of Heartbroken, Rachel, can be redeemed and we saw that. But monsters like Jack Slash, Teacher, Mama Mathers, Cradle, even less monsters but huge idiots like Saint, couldn’t be redeemed in any way (my opinion is that Chris is another person that can’t be redeemed and possible Amy too- we’re pretty close to the endgame and I’m not sure if we still have time to see Amy trying to find redemption in the middle of this chaos) so Worm/Ward are about people that want to be redeemed and they get their redemption and people who doesn’t want to be redeemed/or they lack humanity so much that they can’t be redeemed even if they’d probably want. Wildbow is so good to create so many different characters that you can either love, hate, feel sorry for them but you just can’t ignore them.

        1. @lulu and anyone else who wants to respond: What do you see is the biggest difference between the people we’ve seen redeemed (Victoria, Rain, Tristan, etc.) and the people we haven’t seen redeemed (Jack Slash, Teacher, Cradle, etc.)?

          Thanks everyone for a very interesting comment section. It’s been both fun and thought provoking.

  21. Amy’s denial confuses me sometimes because back in worm,when she was fresh to the birdcage, she was aware of what she had done,didnt wanted to use her powers ever again,then Marquis helped her hold to her memories of Victoria as she was, which was great of him btw,the thing with the tattoos. And now she is in deep denial about her own guilt and rationalizing everything around that.

    I don’t think Amy’s denial pattern has changed. If anything, she was in more denial during her confession in Worm. For the rest of Worm and all of Ward she’s been consistent in admitting that she seriously wronged Victoria while remaining in denial about the particulars. The only thing that’s changed is her expectation of forgiveness, and that’s just a simple matter of Amy-logic: when she left Victoria broken, it was right for Victoria to be upset with her; now she has fixed Victoria, so it’s wrong for Victoria to remain upset. (Amy-logic has no concept of lasting trauma, broken trust, and other fun things that go on in those brains she used to be so scared of touching.)

  22. @Pizzasgood
    I like you, I like how you think. I have never considered it, but I know people that are like that, they get legit upset you havent forgiven them because “it was a long time ago” That Amy thinks that way becase she fixed Victoria´s body makes a lot of sense to me.

    @lulu
    Whats interesting of Kenzie is that she wasnt trying to punish them, she was trying to make them into the parents she wanted. I relate to that because while I didnt tortured my dad, I spent a good part of my life trying to make him into the dad I knew I deserved. The problem was that in doing so, Kenzie created a toxic codependent situation that was going to destroy her. Tbh Im mad they didnt got what they deserved, which was jail, as child abusers. As for the Heartbroken they are a whole can of worms, is a wonder they can function at all. They have been cruel to Kenzie, but lets face it, thats how they know how to function. They were abused and made to fight each other since early childhood, they are as good as they are going to be. Heartbreaker has a special place in our hearts for someone who never said a word outside of a flashback. Dear lord what an asshole.

    About redemption, yes, some people cant be redeemed. I would add Kaiser and Coil to that list. I loved them as characters because they were magnificent villains and great antagonists, hated them as people. I want to believe Chris and Amy can be redeemed but Im fully ready for a tragic ending for both of them, thats how it goes.

    Also, I can only reply on threads on mobile :/ it sucks

    1. I want to believe Chris and Amy can be redeemed but Im fully ready for a tragic ending for both of them, thats how it goes.

      Wildbow designed Amy as an unrepentant, evil rapist monster, that deserves to be raped, deserves to be tortured, and deserves to die. He worked hard in Ward to depict her as an evil rapist monster. He cannot redeem her now in a way that won’t look cheap, though I also think that he doesn’t want to.

  23. @lulu -Chris is FUCKED. Titan Fortuna will probably want to kill him and there’s NOTHING that can save him from her, except for Simurgh if she’ll be interested in his survival. He’s doomed.

    I’ll give you odds that Chris has more mini titans, and clones of the existing that were moved from the lab, including an Amy or similarly connected para like goddess. Chris and Amy were planning to be the “network admins” from the start so Contessa intends to take over a lightly guarded powerbase.

    Random musing 1: Victoria’s attitude to TT is almost certainly biased by Amy – the only time they interacted was at the bank, and I dont remember Victoria recalling that encounter with any clarity. (yeah, she cant think about Amy so not actually evidence) TT told Amy in no uncertain terms

    Random musing 2: Eek… Contessa knows about Khepri. Is there a more connected para? With the skillz to manage it all… Hopefully already being second triggered prevents (sorry) titanus.

    Random musing 3: Where is Mama Mathers?

  24. Even with more Endbriclones, Chris can’t still do anything against the most powerful Titan, Fortuna. Fortuna was the boogeyman of capes and now she’s the boogeyman of Titans. She must know every single action that Chris is planning to take against her and she’ll use her Paths to stop him. Endbriclone Goddess was unable to control Titan Arachne so Endbriclones are weaker than Titans, their powers are not so effective against Titans. I don’t think anyone else except for Simurgh have a chance to take Fortuna down and even for Simurgh is not so easy (Fortuna avoided to be depowered by the explosions in Shardspace so she’s a real force to recognize with).

    The real Mama Mathers is in Wardens ‘ custody, she’s in induced coma so she won’t try to escape. Mathers Clone guards Shin against Titan Arachne.

  25. @carlos ‘Hopefully already being second triggered prevents (sorry) titanus.’

    Goddamit. Why didn’t *I* think of that pun? It’s beautiful.
    I salute you, sir.

  26. @lulu, that was my point. They are all blind spots to her as is he now I’m sure, so he is pretty screwed but not wholely.

    He is also one of the few paras that is completely disconnected I suspect. One of the goals of his experimentation

    @Bluehorus. Ty kind sir

  27. My theory is that the heroes were doing the shimurgh/titans work for them in shin.
    They were hours away from creating more giants, which would have enabled them to protect the lab from arachne, and what happens? A shimurgh controlled dauntless interferes, and Amy is űulled away from the lab to calibrate the giants. Later she is influenced My Vic to go to therapy, which is fine, except shin lost the lab to create the only weapons that could put up a fight against the titans. So I invoke the trope good is dumb.

  28. Of course Fortuna did that 😛
    This is a fascinating and pivotal chapter!
    I googled ‘sechen’ to see what the word means (thanks OverQuantum for finding the official lore) and the results were not useful 😛

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