Taylor was a tall, rail-thin, pale, young woman with long, curly black hair and glasses. She had a thin-lipped, wide, expressive mouth she inherited from her mother, and her large eyes and gawky figure made her look a lot like her dad. She was approximately 5'6" at the story's outset Taylor didn't wear clothes that showed skin, or bright colors. Emma presumed this was an unconscious effort to blend in or hide. At various times, she wore a brown hooded sweatshirt over a green t-shirt.
As time went on, she began to vary her wardrobe more. Learning to vary her appearance to blend into situations. She also grew taller and gained some muscle from her training regime and activities as a parahuman.
Initially, she wears a black-and-grey spider silk bodysuit with armor panels made out of insect shells and exoskeletons augmented with more spider silk. The costume's prototype had fabric that was a dirty yellow-gray color, and the armor was colored dark mottled brown-gray. She later dyes it black with grey paneling before she goes out. The lenses of her mask are durable, high-end swim goggles tinted to help filter out bright lights, with lenses from an old pair of her glasses sealed inside with silicon. Her mask leaves the back of her head uncovered and her hair free to fly behind her.
She kept her costume clean by having bugs eat and clean any waste and wiping it down with a cloth.
The spider-silk fabric is too tough to cut with an x-acto knife, although it can be slowly cut through using wire cutters. It was mostly waterproof. The costume lacks the full extent of the armor paneling she planned, including protection for the back of her head, but the armor covers her face, chest, spine, stomach and major joints. Eventually it included shoulder pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, a chest guard and kneepads, possibly more. Each had "layers" resembling a pillbug. The mask design features dull yellow lenses and sections of armor designed to imitate a bug’s mandibles.
Later, after a redesign, she incorporated clawed fingertips into her costume.
Taylor has a utility compartment for storing necessary items, weapons, and insects in the shape of a spade-shaped armor panel that covers her back., Taylor's backpack contains "a set of EpiPens, a pen and notepad, a tube of pepper spray meant to hang off a key chain and a zippered pouch of chalk dust."
In Queen 18.3, Miss Militia takes a look at the contents and sees: A handgun, a length of spider silk fashioned into a long cord, pepper spray, a change purse, containing cotton swabs (to muffle the noise), needles, smelling salts, and change, a collapsible baton, and a combat knife (sturdy enough to be used as a crowbar if needed)
Taylor is initially a shy and awkward teenage girl with a keen interest in capes. She looked forward to the part of her World Issues class where they discussed capes "since the start of the semester". She had seemingly never heard of Trigger Events, but this may have been a mistake by the author.
She was "'surviving', for lack of a better word," from the point her mother died, and then surviving from the point she started getting bullied -- she just wanted to get by. She responded to stress with silence and withdrawal. She suspected that she would hurt herself before she hurt the Trio. However, Wildbow has stated that if she hadn't triggered, Taylor would likely have simply stopped going to school.
She was afraid of illegal drugs, saying she "had this sense" that they were like "an unstoppable black hole". Just the idea of being around someone that was high made her mildly anxious.
She has shown some insecurity in her femininity, describing her long, dark curly hair as her "only feminine feature". She would always stress over choosing her clothes.
Taylor considered joining the Wards, but felt that "the notion of escaping the stresses of high school by flinging myself into a mess of teenage drama, adult oversight and schedules seemed self-defeating". She had no trust in organized institutions, and felt happier having some independence and control.
She had increasing difficulty attending school. Sometimes she would make deals with herself to attend for part of the day, then convince herself to attend for more.
Taylor had a strained relationship with the students of Winslow High. Because she was bullied extensively by "other girls and a small handful of boys" with the "trio" - Madison Clements, Sophia Hess, and Emma Barnes acting as the ringleaders, she was reluctant to make friends and believed that boys didn't like her. She speculates that the few boys that bullied her sought approval from three of the prettier and more popular girls.
Madison Clements, Sophia Hess, and Emma Barnes - The Trio of students responsible for bullying Taylor. Emma was Taylor's best friend from first grade to middle school, the two girls stayed at each other's houses every weekend. Upon entering high school, Emma suddenly abandoned her for Sophia and Madison. The three then tormented her - Sophia physically, Madison superficially and Emma emotionally. Because Emma knew some of Taylor's psychological weaknesses, such as the death of Mrs. Hebert, she was the only one really able to hurt Taylor.
Taylor resisted attacking the trio with her powers, no matter how much she wanted to. She considered the thought of her father's disappointment on seeing that she had attacked the Trio "daunting" but less than her anger and frustration with them. Emma Barnes' parents blame Taylor for their daughter's eventual death.
Alexandria was Taylor's favourite heroine when she was a kid. When she was nine, she went through a phase where wore an Alexandria t-shirt and had her mom help her look up pictures of Alexandria online; the only time she had ever been a fan of a particular hero.
She can make her subjects do things that they would not normally do, such as walk into fire, produce so much web silk that they physically couldn't produce any more or stinging while injecting little to no venom. She doesn't require "organized" insects. Once she stops controlling them, her bugs revert to their normal behavior patterns.
Taylor has an almost limitless ability to focus on multiple insects at once, or to focus on other things while also using her insects. She can give general instructions, in which case she is only vaguely aware of their movements, or guide individual insects through complex tasks, in which case she is more precisely aware of their movements and environment. However, she could be distracted by the difficulty of focusing on her insects' senses, and by Panacea's modified insects providing contradictory signals. As of Colony 15.7, she was only capable of holding one conversation at a time, even while controlling multiple clones.
Her power would sometimes perform actions by habit, when she was incapacitated, or when she was in an altered mental state, without her conscious instruction.
Taylor would sometimes use her bugs to "channel" her emotions, lending her an "aura of indomitable calm". This could sometimes cause thinkers who relied on body language to think she was calmer than she really was.
The sensory input from her bugs is "fuzzy" and difficult for humans to interpret. She can sporadically hear and see clearly, but the "signal quality" is unreliable.
Practicing doesn't seem to produce results. However, over time, Taylor does learn to more reliably hear through her bugs. As of Cell 22.4, she was unable to understand a phone message heard with her bugs, but was able to identify it was a recording. She was only able to discern tone of voice at "rare moments".
Based on the combined sensory input of large numbers of insects, Taylor can gain a very clear mental picture of whatever they're interacting with. She can also sense the biology and location of every bug she can control. This gives her enhanced aim and the ability to dodge attacks with supernatural reaction times. However, in environments where bugs are scarce, or when dealing with materials that they don't interact with well, her image of the area can become less reliable.
Taylor also receives some knowledge of her bugs' biology from her power, giving her an understanding of their limits, capabilities and the effects of adaptions such as any venom they have.
Taylor has a limited range. During periods of stress, it would increase, once reaching over six and a half blocks. The increases aren't permanent. Nevertheless, her base range did slowly increase over time, from two blocks as when fighting the ABB to three blocks when she began to claim territory.
Her power doesn't work on creatures below a certain size. At different times, she speculated that she could control anything with an exoskeleton or shell -- which wouldn't explain how she could control earthworms -- and that it was the subject having a non-complex nervous system. Her power does not affect squid. It's possible that she could control bug-like Case 53s, depending on their brain makeup & chemistry.
At one point, Taylor attempted to distract a foe underwater by forming simulated bodies out of sea creatures.
Taylor was rated by PRT analysts as a Master 5, which was later upgraded to an 8. A rating of Thinker 1 was officially added when Emily Piggot deduced she could see through her bugs in a limited fashion. Piggot suggested that this should be upgraded when Taylor admitted she came up with the plan to raid the PRT to stop Dragon and demonstrated the ability to anticipate incoming attacks through her bugs, but she was still classified as a thinker-one after Piggot had left office.
Later Director Tagg ordered her to be treated as a Master 10, Thinker 3 with an additional rating of 2 in every other category; in order to make sure his soldiers didn't underestimate her and to authorize additional means of containing her.
(To Triumph): "Sorry. I didn't want this to go this far."
(To Doctor Mother): "I know what that's like, I've walked down that road. Maybe not so ugly a road, but I've gone that route. All the way along, I told myself it sucked, but I wouldn't do it differently. I did everything I did for a reason. Except now, having reached the point I was working towards, I finally do regret it all. The last two years, the way I treated my teammates, leaving the Undersiders... I'd change it all in a heartbeat."
(To Tecton): “Being good or bad was never a thing for me. Not really. It was all about the actions I was taking and why."
"I didn’t follow that stuff, didn’t buy into the hero worship. I’d always found the capes interesting, I’d followed the non-gossipy news about them, but with the exception of a phase around the time I was nine where I’d had an Alexandria t-shirt and had my mom help me find pictures of her online, I had never really got giddy over any particular hero." - Tangle 6.7
Taylor likely triggered Monday the third of January 2011 as it was described as the first day of school in the new year.
"Khepri" is a god in ancient Egyptian religion connected with the scarab beetle, because the scarab rolls balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky.
Glaistig Uaine calls Taylor "Queen Administrator", queen being one of the regal titles that Glaistig Uaine uses for those with powerful and fully developed shards, which became a popular fan nickname for the power.
↑Taylor kneeled in the middle of a massive puddle of juices and sodas, some of it still fizzing around her. She was drenched, head to toe, trickles still running off of the lengths of her hair. Her style of dress had changed over the past little while, in ways Taylor probably wasn’t fully aware of. She wore darker clothes now, cloaked herself in sweatshirts and loose fitting jeans. Her long hair was a shield, a barrier around her face. All measures to hide, signals and gestures of defeat.
More than that, she’d changed in behavior, had stopped fighting back. She’d stopped reacting, for the most part. Her expression was impassive. It took some of the fun out of it. It was almost disappointing. - Excerpt from Interlude 19.z
↑The casual display of emotion was startling. It was equally startling when, in the moment Emma’s dad slowed the car down, Taylor’s head turned, her eyes falling on them, her head and upper body turning to follow them as they passed.
She didn’t even resemble the person Emma had known way back then, not the girl who’d approached her house after coming back from camp, and not the girl who’d been drenched in juice. The lines of her cheekbones and chin were more defined, her skin baked to a light tan by the sun, her long black curls grown a touch wild by long exposure to wind. Light muscles stood out on her arms as she held a box, her dad standing back to direct.
Even her clothes. She wasn’t hiding under a hood and long sleeves. A trace of her stomach was exposed between the bottom of her yellow tank top and the top of her jeans. The frayed cuffs were rolled up at the bottom, around new running shoes, and neither Taylor nor her dad seemed to be paying any attention to the knife that was sheathed at her back. - Excerpt from Interlude 19.z
↑Kicking myself even as I did it, I turned away and walked back down the hall towards the front doors of the school. I knew it would be that much harder to go back tomorrow. For one and three-quarter school years, I had been putting up with this shit. I'd been going against the current for a long time, and even though I was aware of the consequences I'd face if I kept missing school like this, it was so much easier to stop pushing so hard against the current and just step in the other direction. - Agitation 3.1]
↑I stared out the window of the bus, watching the people and the cars. On days like this, after being publicly humiliated, getting myself to the point where I was willing to walk through the door was about making deals with myself and trying to look past the school day. I told myself that I would go to Mrs. Knott's computer class. None of the Trio would be there, it was usually pretty easygoing, and I could take the time to browse the web. From there, it was just a matter of convincing myself to walk down the hall to Mr. Gladly's class.
If I just made myself do that, I promised myself, I would give myself a treat. - Agitation 3.1]
↑Computer class was one of the few parts of the school day I didn't usually dread. For one thing, it was the one class in which I was doing well. [...] Mrs. Knott was an alright teacher, if not the most hands on; she was usually content to give us advanced students an in-class assignment and then focus on the more rambunctious majority for the rest of the class.
↑I looked at my teachers. At Mrs. Knott, who I'd even say was my favorite teacher, "Don't you see how fucked up this is? He's blackmailing us right in front of you, and you can't understand that this manipulation has been going on from the beginning?"
Mrs. Knott frowned, "I don't like the sound of it, but we can only comment and act on what happens in school." - Hive 5.4
↑Without taking the box, I tilted my head to get a better look at the front, "Alexandria. She was my favorite member of the Protectorate when I was a kid. Is the lunchbox collectable?"- Insinuation 2.6
↑I didn't follow that stuff, didn't buy into the hero worship. I'd always found the capes interesting, I'd followed the non-gossipy news about them, but with the exception of a phase around the time I was nine where I'd had an Alexandria t-shirt and had my mom help me find pictures of her online, I had never really got giddy over any particular hero. - Tangle 6.7
↑Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag;
no text was provided for refs named 24.4e1
↑Hey, passenger, I thought. Do me a favor. If I get taken out of action and you step up to fight, work on taking out Jack, alright? -
↑Passenger, I thought. Been a while, trying to figure out how to make peace with the fact that you're there, that you're affecting me somehow, taking control whenever I'm not in my own mind. I think we've made strides. I've sort of accepted that you're going to do what you're going to do, whether that helps me or hurts me. -Sting 26.2
↑I was using my bugs to channel my feelings, even with my concerns about my passenger and how it might be merging with me. I was wearing that aura of indomitable calm, even though I wasn't sure I liked the Taylor of this past year and a half, who had been doing just that as a matter of both habit and necessity. - Extinction 27.3
↑Wildbow - Had taylor broken, raged out, in the sense of chapter one, they would have had a scapegoat for everything that happened in Brockton Bay. She could have tapped Cauldron resources and been on the alert. But Taylor offloaded all cues to her shard. She appeared far calmer and more subdued than she was, Alexandria calibrated her approach with this in mind, and things tilted off differently.
Wildbow - Taylor was absolutely not a killer at that stage, unless she had a reasonable target, and Alexandria presented herself as that target. Alexandria looked at Taylor, talked to her, and saw someone different. All of the profiling and information worked -against- her.
- WoG from 
↑I didn’t hear the rest. Behind my back, Assault moved to kick one of the desks. It went flying into the air in the same instant I threw myself to the ground. I could feel the rush of wind as it passed over me, hurtling into a cubicle. I scrambled for cover.
“Prescience. Interesting,” the Director called out, as I ducked low and used the cubicles to hide. “We assigned you a thinker-one classification, but perhaps we fell short.”
Excerpt from Monarch 16.2
↑I wasn’t just grabbing every creepy crawly in a two block radius, though. I was being selective, and I was gathering quite a few.
It would take time for all of them to arrive. Bugs could move faster than you thought when they moved with purpose in a straight line, but even so, two blocks was a lot of ground for something so small to cover. - Excerpt from Gestation 1.2
↑I generally measured things in city blocks – I’ve never been good at eyeballing distance – and I would say my range usually sat at around two blocks. - Excerpt from Hive 5.5
↑Generally speaking, there were two routes I tended to go. The first put me in one spot, drawing my bugs from the area. A three block radius made for a good number of bugs.
Today wasn’t one of the days my power was working double time, with double the range. I’d wanted to make sure to reach as many as I could, so I’d started drawing the arrows and words with the bugs early. -
Excerpt from Infestation 11.2
↑It’s been stated in the comments, but Taylor’s power doesn’t let her control bugs below a certain size. It’s why she can’t sense skin mites. -
Comment by Wildbow on Colony 15.1
↑“I used to think I could control anything with an exoskeleton or shell. But I can control earthworms too, among other things, and they don’t have shells. I think all it takes is that they have to have very simple brains.” -excerpt from Agitation 3.1
↑Um the Muse: Hmm, I wonder if Skitter could affect the various bugmen? I know that she said that it had to do with the size of the brain involved, but how certain is that?
wildbow: Probably would depend on their brain makeup & chemistry.
↑Simple lifeforms. If there were none above the water’s surface, I’d use the ones below. A glance above me showed one of the flying heroes above the water’s surface, watching. Good. We’d be able to coordinate an attack.
We were too far from the ocean floor for me to find crabs or lobsters, but there were others.
Krill. Two inches in length, at best. But they were alive, and I could move them. I could use them. Another swarm decoy, another combination attack. Something that- Excerpt from Extinction 27.5
↑ 65.065.1"Arthropodokinesis, arthropodovoyance," the Deputy Director said. "She's on record as a master eight, thinker one. The thinker classification is key here: ex-Director Piggot noted Skitter can see through her bugs' eyes."
Director Tagg nodded slowly, then rubbed his chin again. The movement of his wrist against his armrest nearly killed the bug I had in between his dress shirt and jacket. "Agreed. I already informed each of my officers to treat her as though she had a two point classification in every category, or two points higher in cases where she's already received scores. Brute two, mover two… all the way down the list. It won't do to underestimate her." - Cell 22.1
↑Tagg slaps a '2 of everything' on Taylor because it gives full authorization for all special measures, and it's a constant reminder to his people that she's a threat in every department... Comment by Wildbow on spacebattles
↑<TFS> Is the fact that Taylor was trapped a reason why her Master powers act the same way as Shaker powers do?
<soulpelt|> do tell
<Wildbow> Yeah, there's overlap.
<soulpelt|> Taylor is needing help from being trapped in a sucky environment.
<Wildbow> Environmental stressor, thinker stressor, more thinkery shakery master power. - Wildbow on IRC, archived on SpaceBattles