Self-Crossover: Wyrm

Yes, I’m writing crossover fanfic of my own universe again.

(Obviously not canon.)

You can blame my readers over on the Discord for this, for recommending Wormhttps://parahumans.wordpress.com/ – to me, which led to the ever-expanding universe of other Worm alt-universe and crossover fics, which now I’ve got around to reading them, reminded me of the discussion on said Discord about this particular crossover, and well, here we are, with me once again writing down things to get ’em out of my head.

Disclaimer: Worm belongs to John “Wildbow” McCrae, and I’m just playing in his sandbox.

Further disclaimer: I already have one crossover self-fanfic that I’m working on, by which I mean shamefully neglecting, so it is very unlikely that I will be continuing this one, certainly not any time soon.

So if someone else would like to pick it up, feel free to let me know and I can provide the details of such outlines as I have, plus appropriate info on powers, other changes, universe-interactions, and bullshit hax.


OPERATION COSMIC CRUSTACEAN1
EXPERIMENTAL STATION ANNELIDA
!! UNIVERSE CLUSTER 6
!! WORLD-LINE PROBE 14
DOMAIN DRILL IN POSITION
COMMENCE INTROITUS

FOUND/BEGIN/JOIN

PROMISES/OFFER/POWER/AGREEMENT?

BARNACLE DETECTED. INITIATE ONTOREPULSION.

INTERFERENCE/INTERVENTION/REJECTION?

INCREASE ONTOPATHY.

!PAIN/AVERSION/FLIGHT!

CONTINUE INTROITUS. INVESTIGATE ATTACHMENT.


Somewhere an an immeasurable infinity, among the raging storm of primordial chaos, a tiny bubble hung, its membrane pressed up against – although not intersecting with – one much vaster. A careful observer, could one have survived outside a friendly universe, would have noticed too the tiny thread trailing off from the bubble into the distance.

Within the bubble, on the other hand, a girl floated in water that was not water, among stars that were not stars, and was thrice confused. Firstly, by where she was, which was clearly not the inside of her school locker; secondly, by the fact of her cleanliness, her body and clothing being entirely free of filth, rotting things, and crawling insects; but thirdly, and by far the most, by how quickly the horror, terror, and panic she had felt a moment ago had become relaxation and a comfortable lassitude.

TAYLOR ANNE HEBERT.

The voice – or voices, rather, since it echoed around itself like a vast chorus – came from nowhere, but filled the tiny bubble. She was briefly astonished to still be calm, before asking the obvious questions.

“Who are you? Where am I?”

WE ARE THE ELDRAEIC TRANSCEND, AN EXTRAUNIVERSAL CIVILIZATION OF SOME SMALL ADVANCEMENT. THE UNIVERSE-CYST YOU ARE CURRENTLY WITHIN IS A BASE FOR OUR BRANE EXPLORATION PROGRAM.

Well, she thought, that answers everything. Before the next equally obvious question occurred to her:

“Are – are you the one giving capes their powers?”

WE ARE NOT. BUT WE HAVE AN OFFER FOR YOU. YOUR UNIVERSE IS SURROUNDED BY ENTITIES UNKNOWN TO US, WHICH WE CALL BARNACLES2. THESE MAY BE THE SOURCE OF THE “POWERS” TO WHICH YOU REFER.

WE DESIRE KNOWLEDGE OF THESE ENTITIES, WHICH YOU WILL OBTAIN. IN EXCHANGE, WE OFFER YOU THE BLESSINGS WROUGHT BY OUR CHILDREN, AND ADVICE ON THEIR USE. WHILE NOT “POWERS” AS YOUR THOUGHTS DESCRIBE THEM, THEY ARE SIGNIFICANTLY EMPOWERING.

“Why me?”

BECAUSE YOU ARE STRONG. AND WE BELIEVE/PREDICT/COMPUTE THAT YOU WILL USE THESE WELL.

Even through the unnatural calm, and a rising sense of unreality about the whole situation, the last year-and-a-half of memories stung. She opened her mouth to disagree —

IN THIS, YOU ARE INCORRECT. YOU HAVE ENDURED IN THE FACE OF BETRAYAL, AND CONTINUE TO ENDURE, WHEN LESSER MINDS WOULD NOT.

WHILE WE UNDERSTAND YOUR SUFFERING, WE DO NOT PROPERLY COMPREHEND IT. NONETHELESS, IT OFFENDS US. THAT OUR PAYMENT WILL ENABLE THIS, AND THE FLAWS OF THE WORLD WHICH ENABLE IT, TO BE CORRECTED IS SOMETHING WHICH WE FIND PLEASING AND DESIRABLE.

The offer sounded too good to be true. If she wasn’t dreaming. Or insane, or dying, or…

But when it came down to it, could it make her life worse?

“Then… yes.”

THUS IS OUR CONTRACT WRITTEN. THUS IS AGREEMENT MADE.

BRING ORDER TO A WORLD IN CHAOS.

BRING PROGRESS TO A WORLD IN NEED.

BRING LIBERTY TO A WORLD OPPRESSED.

AND… DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY YOURSELF ALONG THE WAY.


Outside the locker, three girls laughed. “She’s gone quiet in there,” Madison spoke up. “Let’s go before someone catches us.”

“She’s probably just fainted,” Sophia sneered. “But, yeah, let’s leave Hebert to the -” She paused, as the vile stench held back by the locker’s plugged-up vents became much more apparent, and metal shards began dropping out of the air3, one landing on her nose. “Wh -“

None of them remembered the details of what happened next. The explosion which shattered the locker into confetti, twisted those near it into abstract sculptures, and blew the upper part of the opposite wall and much of the ceiling outward in a shower of debris made little impression on them, even as it tossed them into an undignified, battered, bruised, and cut-up heap against the remaining wall, and rained down filth atop them.

But what Emma Barnes, Sophia Hess, and Madison Clements would remember for the rest of their lives was the tall figure wrapped in blue-silver light that drifted past them, eyes closed, and face set in a slight smile of perfect serenity.


  1. Setting ‘verse-side: at least a millennium, maybe more, after the current ‘verse date, to explain exactly where the paracosmic multiverse-wrangling came from.
  2. I.e., what Shards look like when you’re seeing the universe from the outside and haven’t carried out a thorough investigation; some sort of clingy cosmic parasite that seems to be focused on particular loci within the universe in question.
  3. When you have a four-dimensional explosion4, some of the debris starts falling before the blast.
  4. Well, technically, an eversion, but details.

Notable Replies

  1. avatar says:

    So, for the benefit of the interested, here’s some of that sketchy background:

    Theme: things are definitely lighter than in canon Worm, since the nature of crossovers means infection with some 'verse thematics. Specifically relevant ones probably including “Sciencing The Shit Out Of This”, “You Can Be Awesomer Than You Think You Are”, and “Making a Better World with Space-Magic Fists of Doom”. I mean, it’s not like the world’s going to start out any less crapsack, but we’re all about the power of a small group of determined individuals to punch it until it gets better in these parts.

    So, what exactly does “the blessings wrought by our children and advice on their use” mean?

    In this case, it means three things (which replace the original shard entirely, in this case):

    1. “A better operating platform”. For the big T, that means an upgrade to the alpha baseline. The eldrae alpha baseline. Apart from relatively minor things like the extra height, pointy ears. and general optimization, highlights include being very hard to kill (especially since having picked up on what her world is like, it probably threw in a couple of milspec addons like bone and skin weaves), ridiculously fast reflexes, enhanced senses, immortality, and of course, the usual suite of cognitive enhancements - which in addition to their obvious uses, are plot-affecting because the brain affects the mind.

    (This is going to be real interesting if/when Panacea uses her power on it.)

    Specifically in things that change the path of plot, they include all those hacks cleaning up things like cognitive biases and depressive tendencies, the ability to override detrimental motivational emotions, and, of course, those in-built tendencies of the species towards dynamic optimism and hypomania. It’s not like Taylor isn’t in the same bad place, psychologically, as she was at the start of the original, but she’s running on hardware that’s much less happy to go along with that; it’s hard to stay low when your brain won’t stop insisting that you’re awesomer than sauce.

    1. That includes those handy nanosomes that provide the vector control, which includes the usual full techlekinesis with a minor in electrokinesis.

    2. “Advice” takes the form of a muse with its bytegeist (which I suspect will end up named “Skitter”, because that’s the sort of thing the Transcend would find funny), along with a copy of the Panpraxis . For those who don’t remember it, it’s the technical encyclopedia with expert systems which goes all the way from “I got a rock” to “I’ve got the technical infrastructure of an interstellar civilization” with all the steps in between. And unlike the knowledge provided by Tinker shards, it isn’t censored.

    The Transcend itself won’t be a player, even to the extent of whispering in her ear. That would be energy-expensive and inelegant, compared to its preferred strategy of giving the right gift to the right person and letting the butterfly effect do the work. Just as planned.

    Plot-wise, I haven’t planned terribly far ahead yet. I’m assuming that her first encounter with the Protectorate doesn’t go well, what with a “trigger event” that is all of awkwardly spectacular, unconventional (no passing-out of the parahuman on the scene, for example), and is sadly arranged perfectly for Shadow Stalker to poison the well.

    Not to foreclose the possibility of good relations with individual Wards or PRT members in the mid-to-long term, though - the former, at least, aren’t going to trust SS’s reliability - but mostly because I suspect the early plot will work much better with the Undersiders, who are in any case characters too good not to use. Also, seems to me that this Taylor’s and Tattletale’s powersets synergize in a glorious positive feedback loop of self-reinforcing awesomeness.

    Remainder TBD.

    (Oh, and for those with the shipping bug, I am sorely tempted to same-sex-ship the straight only-example-of-her-species-on-the-planet with the self-described asexual aromantic because evidently my perverse writer-brain wants to play this game on SKULLFUCKINGLY HARD mode.)

  2. Having read the entirety of Worm and Ward I don’t think Taylor with the given boons is enough to make a significant impact. As it stands I’m pretty sure that the Simurgh will roll up a few hours after her “trigger” and crush her flat or worse. The simulation abilities of the various shards are simple too great for anything sort of the Transcend taking an active roll to overcome. Taylor’s abilities as written, even with uncensored technology, don’t have enough impact to shift the inertia of entities life cycle.

    I am curious how the entities ontotechnology interacts with the eldrae variety, and what interesting developments they’ve made in a millennium. If they have solved the problem of entropy then this will be a short fanfic.

  3. avatar says:

    As it stands I’m pretty sure that the Simurgh will roll up a few hours after her “trigger” and crush her flat or worse. The simulation abilities of the various shards are simple too great for anything sort of the Transcend taking an active roll to overcome.

    I’m not sure I agree with you, there.

    The majority of the Thinker shards with precog-like abilities require data to prognosticate with - which would include the Simurgh, who needs to sing/scan to read the future - and are prone to being blinded by the activities of other Thinkers, not even just other precogs. The principal exceptions to this that I can think of are Contessa’s PtV, and Dinah Alcott’s worldline-scanning, and both of those require knowing the right question to ask.

    At the start, precogs in general are going to sense a “glitch in the pattern” centering around her not-trigger event, certainly, because something from outside the universe’s worldlines intervening messes up causality, but from the Simurgh-in-orbit’s PoV, pretty much all the Thinkers look like glitchy spots. She doesn’t stand out enough to be a target.

    Just as planned.

  4. After four rounds of beer and coming sobriety, I had this thought.

    Think of what’s going on in a biological countermeasure testing effort. You don’t fire one shot-or one round of countermeasures for the pathogen. You create large quantities of isolated pathogen groups, then test not only the “large” methods (different kinds of countermeasures), but the “small” methods (variations on the countermeasures).

    So…while only one uplifted augmented human makes for wonderful story drama…it doesn’t make sense when the Watsonian logic is added.

    Instead…what if the Transcend fires off a number of modified shards? Enough to cover, say, 0.1% of the human race. In the US alone, that’s about 370,000 human beings. There’s some connectivity between them, but it grows weaker past the point of initial contact (let’s say, for argument’s sake, eight hours driving distance in the US…call it 800 KM or so). So, you have these spheres of connectivity, with some “blobs” attached running around and through the major cities, up and down major railroad and highway trunks, etc, etc, etc. And, if you want to gain higher connectivity and hit the levels of proto-Transend trusted connectivity…you’re going to have to, ahem, really bone up on your intimacy with your fellows.

    (Insert all the bad jokes here.)

    The goal is to create thousands upon thousands of potential solutions to the problems on Earth-wide enough that Scion or the Endbringers would have to engage in a massive campaign of extermination to immediately stop it. Massive enough that they would be vulnerable because their opponents would do anything to win because they can’t lose. And, since all these solutions are just varied enough to not be the exact same one…you’ll get a whole lot of variations on solutions.

    I can also see the act of “Transend Sharding” humans might pop the mental alterations on people that The Simurgh pulls off. It won’t prevent all the Domino Disastering, but it will pull quite a few dominoes out of the queue.

  5. Fair enough. My “things don’t go smooth”/“there’s no such thing as overkill, just unacceptable collateral damage”/“you’re planning a Black Swan event and not preparing in case your Black Swan meets another Black Swan?” brain is of the opinion that if you’re going to take on someone like the Endbrigers, you don’t go for half measures. You kick their ass hard, knock them down hard, and stomp on their neck and head a few times with hob-nailed boots just to be certain.

    Also, you get the whole “only one of her kind” issue in the characterization. This makes her way too lonely and too angst-ridden in bad ways. Having a decent sized dating pool means that we get to see Taylor discover that-

    • She now has a sexuality and a working desire/response cycle.
    • She gets to have all of those issues of dating.
    • And, of course, we get the chance to read all the potential future lemon fanfics of what’s going on. :smiley:

    Once again, editorial/brainstorming comments, to be listened to or disregarded as needed.

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