Author Topic: Worm  (Read 965 times)

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Offline screwtape

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Worm
« on: December 13, 2013, 10:42:30 PM »
Worm is an online series about a 15 year old girl - Taylor Hebert - who has just acquired super powers.  She lives in an Earth where humans have had powers for about 30 years.  The get them through traumatic experiences, called trigger events.  The event shapes the power.  Taylors power is the ability to sense and control bugs.  She aspires to be a hero, but on her first night out in costume, her goal may be side tracked.

It is a superbly written story and does a great job at realistically portraying human nature.  It stands at the top of the super hero genre for me.  One of the things I like is how the smart people are actually smart, and pretty much always are able to overcome the "tanks".  Taylor's power sounds weak, but through smarts and creativity she becomes one of the most versatile and powerful capes in the world.

The story is broken up by story arcs.  Each arc is about as long as a short novel.  There are 30 arcs and one epilogue.  It is a monumental feat of writing.

I highly recommend this to anyone, not just fans of comic book heroes.  Try the first arc and you'll be hooked.

link:
parahumans.wordpress.com/table-of-contents/


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Offline wright

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Re: Worm
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2013, 12:30:35 AM »
Already hooked after Chapter 1. Thanks, screwtape.
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Worm
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 01:04:43 AM »
I like it.  I wish I could read it on my Nook but I can only use the internet where there is WiFi.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

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Re: Worm
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2013, 01:46:03 AM »
I've never tried reading anything long in a web page format before. Not one with chapters anyway. Not the easiest thing in the world to do. But the story is good. I feel a little creepy about being an old guy reading about a young woman. But I think she's replaced my previous favorite female superhero:



WonderBread Woman!
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Offline jetson

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Re: Worm
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 09:18:44 AM »
Crap...i'm hooked...

Offline screwtape

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Re: Worm
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2013, 08:41:34 AM »
I just finished it.  I'm not sure I love the ending.  If you'd like to do a book club thing, we could discuss arc by arc.  This would necessarily include spoilers.   I suggest when we are ready to talk about an arc, we post the Arc title, in nice big, bold typeface and understand that anything after that point could include spoilers.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Worm
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2013, 08:46:12 AM »
Worm is an online series about a 15 year old girl - Taylor Hebert - who has just acquired super powers.  She lives in an Earth where humans have had powers for about 30 years.  The get them through traumatic experiences, called trigger events.  The event shapes the power.  Taylors power is the ability to sense and control bugs.  She aspires to be a hero, but on her first night out in costume, her goal may be side tracked.

Sounds exactly my cup of tea.  Unfortunately, its white text on black background, and my eyes just can't deal.   :(
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Offline jetson

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Re: Worm
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2013, 09:36:28 PM »
I'm cranking through...but I've been busy as well.  I started reading comments, and then decided it is a waste of time.  I'll look at comments later.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Worm
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2013, 03:03:11 PM »
Sounds exactly my cup of tea.  Unfortunately, its white text on black background, and my eyes just can't deal.   :(

cut and paste into a format and color scheme your eyes love.  It is a little extra work, but I would say it is worth it.



lemme know if anyone wants to discuss Arc 1.
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Offline magicmiles

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Re: Worm
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2013, 05:31:28 PM »
I read 1.1, and I sort of want to continue with it. If I find myself bored over my upcoming holiday I might read on.

I'm sensitive to bullying, and quite nervous for my daughter as she is almost high school age. She has already experienced bullying amongst her group of friends.

The idea of a bug army is intriguing.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Worm
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2013, 09:28:09 AM »
Finished Arc 7.  I wanted to say this is a cheesy story, but I can't.  It seems to be maturing as it goes, in terms of writing.  Like it's improving in writing style and content.  I can see it as a movie.

Seems like I have a long way to go to finish, but I can't read as much as I want, and I have a ton of work to do around the house.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Worm
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2013, 09:55:22 AM »
I can see it as a movie.

It would need a lot of editing. I can see it as a graphic novel or a tv series.  In fact, I'd like to.
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Offline wright

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Re: Worm
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2013, 03:00:52 PM »
I'm sensitive to bullying, and quite nervous for my daughter as she is almost high school age. She has already experienced bullying amongst her group of friends.

The idea of a bug army is intriguing.

I was bullied too, and find that aspect of the story both disturbing and compelling. That's primarily the draw for me right now: what caused her best friend to turn on her that drastically?

Good for you, magic, for being aware of that kind of thing.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline wright

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Re: Worm
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2013, 05:14:25 AM »
Okay, just reached the chapter where the Best-Friend-Turned-Bully bit is explained (mostly). Not quite what I was expecting.

Overall, it's an interesting take on a morally-ambiguous world where super-powers exist. Some good ideas I might use for roleplaying; characters as well as background details.

For those who like the genre, here's some more with a more positive tone. Basically, the main character is a superhero travelling across parallel worlds trying to get home. It's a series of fanfictions, with the author paying tribute to his favorite books, movies, anime series and so on. Though it's still incomplete, I found it engaging:
http://www.accessdenied-rms.net/dwmain.shtml
« Last Edit: December 24, 2013, 05:16:40 AM by wright »
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Worm
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2014, 11:04:33 AM »
bump

anyone finish this?  If so, what were your thoughts?
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Worm
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2014, 06:21:22 PM »
I keep meaning to start reading this again.  I'm still at the beginning.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline wright

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Re: Worm
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2014, 01:04:47 AM »
I finished it some months ago. It was an interesting study in a character rising to maturity and in sheer power.

It was also a bit too depressing and dark at times; in some ways a tragedy and horror story more than anything else, though not without some hope and redemption at the end. I guess I prefer my superhero fiction with more humor and optimism, like Aaron Williams' Ps238 (http://ps238.nodwick.com/), or Robert Shroeck's Drunkard's Walk (http://www.accessdenied-rms.net/dwmain.shtml).

There were definitely things that I admired, like the slow reveal of the organization Cauldron's true motives, and the super-mercenaries from a parallel world who arrived on Taylor's Earth by accident and are just trying to survive and get home. If I ever run a superhero roleplaying campaign, there are a lot of interesting ideas there to mine.
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Offline Nam

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Re: Worm
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2014, 01:46:24 AM »
I read the first chapter, and is in my bookmarks but that's it.

-Nam
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

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Offline kcrady

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Re: Worm
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2014, 03:06:29 AM »
I read it awhile ago, and was very impressed.  I think it would be awesome as a TV series (hey, HBO: hint, hint!).  It's not a story for the squeamish or faint of heart.  The villains are very creepy and dark (the Avengers wouldn't last long in the Worm-verse...).  One of the things I liked a lot was the level of ingenuity.  It's fairly easy for superhero stories (at least the Hollywood ones--I'm not a reader of coming books/graphic novels, so I can't really talk about those) to devolve into combat scenes where heroes and villains trade superpower blows like human-shaped battleships re-enacting Jutland, with lots of explosions, buildings being destroyed, and so on.  Not that there isn't plenty of destruction (there is, on an apocalyptic scale...), it's just very intelligently done. 

In Worm, it's often clever use of powers (individually and in team coordination) that decide a fight.  How does someone whose power is insect control (and who has an ordinary human body, i.e., can't take a rocket to the chest, etc.) take down enemies who could go toe to toe with Superman?  Many of the powers themselves are also pretty clever, IMO.  Worm definitely goes beyond the usual eye-rays, super-strength, shape-shifting, and the like. 

Also, the explanation for the source of the super-powers is about as mind-blowing as something like that would have to be in reality. :)
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Worm
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2014, 10:01:36 AM »
It was also a bit too depressing and dark at times;

I hear you.  The graphic novel Walking Dead was an exampl of a story being too grim for me.  Utter hopelessness.  Anything positive in it was immediately demolished plus interest.  One step forward, eighteen back. But Worm had enough positive to keep me engaged.  There was definitely frustration for me at some of the characters who survived, but I guess that is life. 



One of the things I liked a lot was the level of ingenuity.

This is what I thought was the best part of it.  Not just the way they interacted, but some of the powers themselves.  I like the idea that Taylor's powers were not just bug oriented, but also thinker oriented.  Her powers included creativity and "administration". 

I also liked that so many of the other capes had weird, creative powers that you just don't see in most comics. McCrae clearly spent a lot of time and effort brainstorming different powers and how they would affect everyone.  That is the key to good scifi.  It is not about the science.  It is about how the science affects us and how we react to the science.  I think Worm succeeds because it does such a good job with portraying how people react to the power.   

Also, the explanation for the source of the super-powers is about as mind-blowing as something like that would have to be in reality.

I agree.  I loved that powers were not acquired by the usual, cliche means.  It was very original.

My one big criticism of it (spoilers here) is that given how powers were acquired, it should not be possible for clones to have the same powers.  A worm shard was delivered to someone (as predetermined by the worms) and that shard was activated by the trigger event.  The power was shaped by circumstances of the event.  So the power was from an external "device", not something inherent in the capes themselves.

When the capes were cloned, it would have been impossible to recreate those exact same circumstances, and the power would not have been identical.  I would even argue that a cloned cape would not even necessarily have a shard.  Accordingly, you could clone Manton all day long, and still there should only ever be one Siberian. 

That leads to the other big problem - if Alexandria and Coil were so essential to the end battle, why were they not cloned a dozen times?
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Offline kcrady

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Re: Worm
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2014, 11:36:17 AM »
--SPOILERS--

My one big criticism of it (spoilers here) is that given how powers were acquired, it should not be possible for clones to have the same powers.  A worm shard was delivered to someone (as predetermined by the worms) and that shard was activated by the trigger event.  The power was shaped by circumstances of the event.  So the power was from an external "device", not something inherent in the capes themselves.
 
When the capes were cloned, it would have been impossible to recreate those exact same circumstances, and the power would not have been identical.  I would even argue that a cloned cape would not even necessarily have a shard.  Accordingly, you could clone Manton all day long, and still there should only ever be one Siberian. 

If memory serves, cloning in Worm is only done through the use of Tinker powers (e.g., Bonesaw and that bio-Tinker she "took over").  Tinker "technology" isn't "just" highly-advanced technology in the normal sense.  Rather, it is more like the creation of "enchanted" artifacts with a tech-ish vibe.  Ordinary mortals could not reverse=engineer Tinker tech and start manufacturing it wholesale.  Tinker tech needed Tinkers to maintain it as well, even if non-capes could use it.  So, Tinker "technology" is an extension of the Tinker's powers.  Tinkers are generally portrayed (IIRC) as having particular "specialties" they could invent in, determined by the nature of their Shards.  E.g. Bonesaw could do all sorts of nasty things with flesh/cyborg "tech," but she couldn't build things like ray guns, forcefield generators, or suits of powered combat armor.  Thus, a Tinker able to make clones of capes would have to have a biologically-oriented Shard that also possessed some kind of "copy Shard" function.  There was also the case of the mutant cape/monster (Amelia?) that could spawn mutated replicas of whatever capes she/it could capture and hold inside her body, and those never really "came out right."

That leads to the other big problem - if Alexandria and Coil were so essential to the end battle, why were they not cloned a dozen times?

Wasn't Coil dead and gone well before the final battle?  Do you mean that other guy, whose power was oriented around finding optimal solutions for things, who had the nicely-dressed minions?  Again, if memory serves, Bonesaw was the main person who had the power to clone other capes.[1]  I know I wouldn't trust her with the ability to manufacture Alexandrias!
 1. Dragon could make copies of fetal-type form IIRC, but not other capes.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Worm
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2014, 01:55:56 PM »
--SPOILERS--

If memory serves, cloning in Worm is only done through the use of Tinker powers (e.g., Bonesaw and that bio-Tinker she "took over").  Tinker "technology" isn't "just" highly-advanced technology in the normal sense.  Rather, it is more like the creation of "enchanted" artifacts with a tech-ish vibe.  Ordinary mortals could not reverse=engineer Tinker tech and start manufacturing it wholesale.

Sort of.  It has been a while since I read it (going on a year now), but my recollection is tinker powers were not special knowledge, but rather, they were sort of like mediums doing spirit inventing, instead of spirit writing. So in most cases tinkers could not effectively understand their own creations.  The shard did the actual inventing, using the tinker as it's agent.

Thus, a Tinker able to make clones of capes would have to have a biologically-oriented Shard that also possessed some kind of "copy Shard" function. 

This makes sense.  Bonesaw was able to do some manipulation of powers/ shards when she made her cape "splices".  Crap.  There was a wiki page that explained the different categories of powers and now I cannot find it.  I'll look later and post when I find it.

There was also the case of the mutant cape/monster (Amelia?)

Noel/ Echidna, I think.

Wasn't Coil dead and gone well before the final battle?

Yes, but Cauldron was aware of what the end event was going to be and they had some hope that Coil was going to be able to stop it.  When he was killed, they fretted over their odds.  Same for Alexandria.  However, if those two were so critical, it seems to me the Contessa could have been relied on to find a way to get whatever samples from them that would be needed.  And Legend.  And Eidolon.

Do you mean that other guy, whose power was oriented around finding optimal solutions for things, who had the nicely-dressed minions?

Accord.  Him too.

  Again, if memory serves, Bonesaw was the main person who had the power to clone other capes. I know I wouldn't trust her with the ability to manufacture Alexandrias!

She could do it, but I thought there were others.  The guy who Accord hired to do cloing and was trying to clone the Simurgh (and a whole bunch of others).  I know the SH9 took him and destroyed him.  But other people were doing cape cloning.  They had a bunch of Siberians running around during the end event. I don't think Bonesaw made them all.  And if she did, I don't think Siberian is any less dangerous than Alexandria or Coil.

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Offline kcrady

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Re: Worm
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2014, 09:47:31 PM »
--SPOILERS--

There was also the case of the mutant cape/monster (Amelia?)

Noel/ Echidna, I think.

Yeah, that's the one. :)

Yes, but Cauldron was aware of what the end event was going to be and they had some hope that Coil was going to be able to stop it.  When he was killed, they fretted over their odds.  Same for Alexandria.  However, if those two were so critical, it seems to me the Contessa could have been relied on to find a way to get whatever samples from them that would be needed.  And Legend.  And Eidolon.

OTOH, maybe Contessa's power indicated that cloning high-powered capes like that would inevitably make things worse.  They would develop their own agendas (or perhaps people within Cauldron would develop agendas for them, if they were kept suspended in bubbly vats "until needed").  The Nine could make clones of heavy-hitters willy-nilly because they wouldn't mind if the clones went insane and started unleashing random mayhem; that's pretty much what they wanted in the first place.  Cauldron, OTOH, was engaged in crafting a careful, delicate plan to win against overwhelming odds.  One or more rogue Coils, Alexandrias, or Accords (or plots within their own organization to seize control of high-powered clones, etc.) could have upset their whole applecart.

One of the main themes of Worm is that, even in the face of direct existential threat, large-scale cooperation among human beings is really hard, if not impossible.  Again and again, the Protectorate refuses to cooperate with Taylor and the Undersiders, even against global existential threats like the Nine and Echidna.  Ultimately, Taylor has no choice but to use her rebooted powers and her "administrator" talent to forcibly make people cooperate.  Truth In Television: see "Climate change and resource depletion, human response to."

Given that theme, it might have been impossible to get a squad of Alexandrias, Eidolons, Legends, Coils, and Accords to play for the same team, especially if some of them started going nuts because the cloning procedure didn't quite work.  I don't recall any "good guy" clones; for the ones made by the Nine, murderous insanity would be a feature, not a bug.  Thus, if someone in Cauldron made the suggestion, "Hey, why don't we just clone an army of Alexandrias, Eidolons, and Legends?" Contessa might have paled with horror, then, shuddering, shouted "NOPENOPENOPE!" :)
 
They had a bunch of Siberians running around during the end event. I don't think Bonesaw made them all.  And if she did, I don't think Siberian is any less dangerous than Alexandria or Coil.

I thought that she had made them all, using the the other bio-Tinker (the one Accord wanted) as a Borged puppet to assist her.  I could be wrong.  The difference here is that Cauldron never chose to give Bonesaw the ability/facilities to clone Siberians.  The Nine did that on their own (unless I'm forgetting something in the story).  To have her clone Alexandria, Eidolon, Coil, etc. they would have had to decide to trust her.  Analogy: "Sure, the Soviets have nuclear-capable ballistic missiles already.  That doesn't mean we want to share our Stealth bomber tech with them, even if they say they'll use it to help us fight the Martians!"

As Worm plot-holes go, the one that stands out to me is the scene where Dragon and Dauntless (IIRC) show up to trap Taylor at the high school, and she is able to escape under the nose of a couple Dragon ships with the help of some other students who serve as human shields.  Why didn't Dragon just splat them with the sticky-foam?  Also, abandoning pursuit of the Nine with the End of the World at stake to run back home and try to grab Taylor in a way that would destroy the gentleman's agreement that cape society lived by ("Don't out people's civilian ID's!") was a massively boneheaded decision IMO, one of the few times characters in Worm ever held the Idiot Ball.[1]  For that one, the Protectorate, Dragon and Dauntless must have had the complete Collector's Edition set of all seven. :)
 1. Come to think of it all the other examples I can recall have to do with the Protectorate or members thereof refusing to cooperate with Taylor.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Worm
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2014, 10:16:05 AM »
OTOH, maybe Contessa's power indicated that cloning high-powered capes like that would inevitably make things worse. 

I hope this doesn't come off as pedantic.  That would have been either Numbers Man or Dinah Alcott.  Contessa's power let her "win".[1]  She would know the steps required to achieve a goal.  The only goals she could not see through were ones where pre-cogs were involved.  But that is just a quibble and does not address your point.   

The larger point, that more of those capes could have made the situation worse, I dunno.  It is possible, but I don't think it is likely.

One or more rogue Coils, Alexandrias, or Accords (or plots within their own organization to seize control of high-powered clones, etc.) could have upset their whole applecart.

Possibly.  But they could (should?) have known those actors might be removed from play and kept back-ups.  Having a spare Alexandria (or 20) in stasis to whip out when one went down seems prudent. 

One of the main themes of Worm is that, even in the face of direct existential threat, large-scale cooperation among human beings is really hard, if not impossible.

I completely agree.  But Alexandria, at least, was Cauldron.  Having a dozen back ups of her should have been a relatively easy get.  At the end there were multiple good Siberians running around (iIrc), so, it is at least feasible.

I thought that she had made them all, using the the other bio-Tinker (the one Accord wanted) as a Borged puppet to assist her.  I could be wrong.  The difference here is that Cauldron never chose to give Bonesaw the ability/facilities to clone Siberians.  The Nine did that on their own (unless I'm forgetting something in the story).

My recollection (and I could be wrong) is all the clones the SH9 made were eradicated.  At one point Bonesaw had made a decision - actually, I think it was a stronger than just a decision - she had a change of heart and committed to leaving the SH9 if she could.  The wiki shows her as "defected".[2]  So while they did not trust her and they kept her supervised, they still needed and used her talents.  My understanding was she or someone else in the protectorate was making the clones.  Since her power allowed her to mess with other capes' powers, I would conclude she had to have been involved.  Which would explain the plot hole that had been bothering me.


As Worm plot-holes go, the one that stands out to me is the scene where Dragon and Dauntless (IIRC) show up to trap Taylor at the high school, and she is able to escape under the nose of a couple Dragon ships with the help of some other students who serve as human shields.  Why didn't Dragon just splat them with the sticky-foam? 

I remember the scene, but I do not remember the circumstance.  Were there Dragon ships or were they occupied with other problems?  I don't remember.

Also, abandoning pursuit of the Nine with the End of the World at stake...Come to think of it all the other examples I can recall have to do with the Protectorate or members thereof

Yeah, I'd pin that on the protectorate.  They had a track record of consistently doing stupid things.  The first director - Piggot - was smart but heavily biased against all capes.  And Dragon, being AI, could not refuse. 


btw, I found the classification of powers: http://parahumans.wikia.com/wiki/Power_Classifications
and Bonesaw's profile http://parahumans.wikia.com/wiki/Riley
the classification table for Trump better describes her ability to muck around with powers.
Quote
Biological/medical tinker. Trump rating for her ability to alter, suppress, and combine powers in her patients.
 1. http://parahumans.wikia.com/wiki/Contessa
 2. http://parahumans.wikia.com/wiki/Slaughterhouse_Nine
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Offline Zankuu

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Re: Worm
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2014, 08:39:07 PM »
screwtape, thanks for sharing this. I'm on Buzz 7.9. The characters are so refreshingly human. I'm really enjoying it so far.
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Offline Defiance

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Re: Worm
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2014, 09:27:14 PM »
I don't like dark things.

But I gave it a try. Good.
"God is just and fair"
*God kills 2.5 million of people he KNEW would turn out like this in the flood*
*Humanity turns bad again, when God knew it would*
We should feel guilty for this.