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The Number Man is a thinker with the power to understand numbers and probabilities.

Reputation Edit

Number Man was known as a "supervillain banker".[1] Despite his immense influence, he was relatively little-known.[2] Major villain groups turn to him for help hiding and manipulating their finances, a job he has performed for them adequately for decades.

Once he began operating in the field for Cauldron, he became known as one of the "bogeymen" alongside Contessa.[3]

Harbinger's power was never revealed. It was believed to be some kind of hyper-awareness of space and the movements of his body, most effective at close range.[4]

PersonalityEdit

He was irritated when his business lost customers.[5] He was more willing to interfere with organizations that didn't use his banking services.[6]

He disliked the endless white of the Cauldron Compound, and went to some lengths to decorate his office.[7] His office had no chairs, because he believed sitting would leave him too vulnerable.[8]

His participation in Cauldron's experiments gave him a great deal of knowledge regarding how powers and agents worked.[7] He knew how to use the "EM readers" Cauldron used for brain scans to determine of someone had had a second trigger.

He saw morality as a useful delusion perpetrated by society.[9] Nevertheless, he disliked violence.[10] He believed that he worked to save lives, and only ever killed out of kindness.[11] Number Man saw friendship as a sort of shared delusion, but nonetheless saw Jack Slash as a friend of sorts, as well as his polar opposite.[11] He was also interested in fashion and money as constructs of society.[7]

He has noted his distaste for the Harbinger clones. Bonesaw based their personalities according to word of mouth and rumors of his ruthlessness under that are attached to his abandoned alias, rather than acting more in line with his actual personality.[12]

AppearanceEdit

Number Man purposefully dresses as normal as possible. He wears a button-down shirt and thin-rimmed glasses. He is clean-shaven and keeps his blond hair cut short. He considers himself "bland" and appears to be a bookish, middle-aged man.[13] He sometimes wore a suit with a pocket protector, and carried pens with him.[14]

As Harbinger, he wore a flowing cloak with a hood, and a snarling, fanged mask with glowing dots in the eye-sockets.[15]

Abilities and PowersEdit

Number Man's ability makes him "good with numbers" to a ridiculous degree. He perceived his power as elaborate mathematical notation, as if written in the air.[16]

His power allowed him to understand and manipulate the world economy in immense detail.[7] He could also use it to predict the likely casualties of various End of the World scenarios.[2][17] He could potentially identify targets to push the world toward collapse.[18]

His power allowed him to analyse architecture, letting him design buildings, predict collapses,[19] and conduct controlled demolitions.[20] Doctor Mother claimed that he was able to calculate the odds of success for a given Cauldron vial, but this was a lie.[21] Tattletale believed that he would be able to break Dragon's time-lock encryption.[22]

He could perceive the Custodian's presence and the edges of Doormaker portals.[23] He was able to fight even with his sight blocked by bugs.[19] He was able to target Night Hag and Nyx despite their powers.[3] He was able to detect Taylor's bugs and identify people hiding among her swarm-clones.[24]

His ability helped him to survive falls,[4] but he was still somewhat worried by them.[25]

He could climb building-faces as fast as he could run on horizontal terrain, using his power to find handholds and footholds.[4] He climbed down a ladder so fast he almost seemed to be falling.[24]

His power was formidable in combat. He can analyse and predict an opponent during combat, allowing him to dodge their attacks by extremely narrow margins[4][26] once he understands their power.[7] He claimed that he could see the stress points of his opponent, allowing him to shatter bones.[27] He could hold Lung and Bitch's Dogs in holds that didn't allow their muscles any leverage.[28] He could judo-throw Dragon's Teeth officers in full power-armour.[4] However, he wasn't quite as good in a brawl as Contessa.[29]

His power was better at range than in a melee fight.[30] He could ricochet bullets to knock the knife out of Imp's hand when she held it to Doctor Mother's throat,[19] and to target Rime regardless of cover and her attempts to dodge.[24] A clone of him was able to disable one of Bitch's dogs by throwing something at it.[31] He was able to track Scion's location for String Theory.[32] His power enabled him to dodge Foil's attacks, despite her superhuman sense of trajectories and timing. He could also anticipate and avoid Golem's smallest, fastest hands, as well as Revel's programmed orbs.[4]

Equipment Edit

He would sometimes use his pens in combat.[14][27] He carried a small pistol of some kind that he would fire from the hip.[19] On at least one occasion he made use of a sniper rifle.[24]

He was often seen with a laptop.[21][7] His office contained a number of touchscreen computers hooked up to a Doormaker portal, providing him with info from around the world.[7]

HistoryEdit

BackgroundEdit

Number Man was a founding member[33] of the Slaughterhouse Nine under King as Harbinger, where he fought alongside Jacob. King chose the name.[7]

Harbinger and Jacob killed King in 1987, opening the way for Jacob to reshape the King's group to his purposes.[7] They were around twelve at the time.[34]

He would join Cauldron at some point prior to May 1, 1988.[35] He didn't operate in the field.[10]

At some point he disabled Andrew Richter's "Robin Hood" program, which had been stealing money and funneling it to the Dragonslayers.[36]

Story Start Edit

Coil created accounts with the Number Man for each of the Undersiders.[1] He managed these accounts so that they grew "in alternating stutters and huge bounds".[37]

Post-Echidna Edit

Number Man lost a number of clients thanks to the revelation that he worked with Cauldron, including Tattletale.[5]

He met with Accord to sell him vials and discuss happenings in Brockton Bay.[38]

Cauldron sent him back into the field.[10] He helped to break Pretender out of Protectorate custody, going up against a team that included Weaver.[24]

Post-Timeskip Edit

Bonesaw created ten teenage clones of him as part of the Slaughterhouse 9000.[33]

Along with Contessa, he helped defeat a group of the Slaughterhouse 9000 when they were overwhelming the heroes.[3]

By the time of Sting 26.5, there were only eight clones of him; all of them were with Jack Slash's group.[3] He fought them along with Contessa; she killed three of them, and the others surrendered and joined Cauldron.[26]

Golden MorningEdit

He attended a meeting of all the major players as part of Cauldron following Scion's betrayal.[17]

At some point during or shortly after Gold Morning, he was made aware of the existence of Eden.[20]

During the Irregulars' attack on Cauldron, Number Man talked to Contessa over the phone.[39] He and his clones helped protect Doctor Mother.[19] Following her death, he helped set up the demolition that brought the Cauldron Compound down on Scion.[20]

He became part of Khepri's swarm and helped calculate the likelihood of attacks hitting Scion.[40]

Fanart Gallery Edit

Trivia Edit

It was initially planned for Number Man to meet with Citrine after Accord's death and form a relationship with her.[41]

Wildbow is planning to save revealing Number Man's trigger event for a sequel to Worm.[42]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 "And before I forget, I arranged individual accounts for each of you with a supervillain banker by the name of The Number Man, as paying for tonight's job in bills, naturally, was unfeasible.  My men will provide you with your account information and the instructions for accessing these accounts as you retrieve your dogs." - Tangle 6.8
  2. 2.0 2.1 Interlude 14.5 (Bonus Interlude)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Sting 26.5
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Interlude 26a
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tattletale had been actively separating herself from the Number Man, issuing new accounts to the Undersiders and her organization.  Not so surprising.  Eidolon had outed him, announcing the Number Man as a Cauldron-involved cape to a crowd. Irritating. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  6. Gesellschaft hadn’t elected to seek out the Number Man and make use of his services, as so many supervillains around the world did.  He had no compunctions, as a consequence, about interfering with them. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus #1)
  8. No chairs.  He’d worked out the dangers of sitting against the convenience and decided it wasn’t worth falling into that trap.  When he did enter his office, he walked, paced, tapped his foot while pondering deeper problems, stood and stared out the window at whatever landscape he had outside his window in a given week. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  9. “Ah,” the Number Man replied.  “Morals.” Another delusion perpetuated by society.  Useful, valuable, much like commerce, but still a delusion.  It only served its purpose so long as it was more constructive than not adhering to those beliefs, but people often lost sight of the fact, made it out to be something it wasn’t. He’d suddenly lost a great deal of interest in this conversation. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 “I was thinking we use you in the field, Number Man.” The Number Man leaned back in his chair.  “Me.” “You’d perform.  You have performed in the past.” “I suppose,” he mused.  He rubbed his chin.  He needed to shave.  “A long time ago.” “I know you wanted to get away from that business, but-” He shook his head.  “No.  This is bigger than things I want.  If I can participate in this, I can get my hands dirty.  We’ll be looking for the Slaughterhouse Nine, I take it?” -
  11. 11.0 11.1 Jack was his other number, his inverse.  The Number Man was working to save lives, and he killed as a matter of kindness.  Jack considered killing a matter of fact, and any life he spared was only for his own twisted ends. The Number Man still considered the man a friend, as much as he knew that friendship was one of those ephemeral constructs.  One of the delusions people subjected themselves to, to make the world make sense. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  12. "I'm sorry," the Number Man said, to Rachel.  "For the behavior of my clones.  They're inaccurate, based on hearsay and speculation more than fact.  I was more polite, back then, more efficient." - Venom 29.7
  13. He armored himself in normalcy.  He wore only a button-up shirt and thin-rimmed glasses, his blond hair cut into a short style that was easy to maintain.  To anyone on the street, he wouldn’t appear to be anything but a bookish middle-aged man. He hadn’t always been this bland. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Rounding out the group was the Number Man, who had a pen pressed tight against Cuff's jugular, her costume already torn open at the throat to expose flesh.  His foot was propped up on a sphere. I could see the resemblance between the Number Man and the boys in dress shirts.  Twenty or more years of difference, and the Number Man was dressed in a full suit, which somehow made him more imposing, pocket protector or no, but they were too similar to be anything but related. - Venom 29.7
  15. Each was young.  Teenagers.  Each had a matching mask, a snarling face, complete with fangs and glowing dots in the dark eye sockets.  Their clothing flowed, with hoods peaking above their heads.  Each carried a different improvised weapon.  A fire axe.  A two-handed shovel.  A makeshift spear. "Harbingers," Weaver said.  "Don't let them get close!  Finish them quickly!" - Interlude 26a
  16. As though it were penciled in the air, in thread-thin, elaborate notation, he could see the geometry and the numbers unfolding across the world around him, through the air. He withdrew a pen from his pocket, spun it around one finger.  The notation billowed around it, and through it, he could see the movement of the pen, the plotted trajectory, the velocity and rotation of it.  The numbers clicked into place with a speed that made the rest of him, his very perceptions, seem like slow motion. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  17. 17.0 17.1 Extinction 27.2
  18. Our Harbinger has been giving us some very good advice.  Talking about the critical places to strike.  What happens if we attack certain targets?  The world teeters on the brink of falling to the Endbringers.  Divide my remaining soldiers and attack key points in the infrastructure, and maybe that's game over for humanity. - Sting 26.6
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 Venom 29.7
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Venom 29.8
  21. 21.0 21.1 "We have no need for human experimentation.  The Number Man can calculate the odds of success for a given formula." LIE. - Interlude 14.5 (Bonus Interlude)
  22. Cockroaches 28.2
  23. His power alerted him about the Custodian’s presence as he entered the hallway.  The sum of a million infinitesimal details. It also informed him of the seam in the hallway, marking the nearly invisible Doormaker portal. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 Drone 23.2
  25. Venom 29.9
  26. 26.0 26.1 Interlude 26
  27. 27.0 27.1 “You’ll miss,” the Number Man said.  “And I’ll close in and strike you, using my pen and my hand.  I can see the stress points of your body, clear as day.  I can shatter your skull like a glass, and it would be an exceptionally painful way to die.” - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  28. hey moved fluidly as the animals lunged, snapping and biting.  Confident movements.  Two caught Huntress' head, wrenched it to the side, while the others avoided snapping jaws to catch Bastard's forelimbs, bodily hauling him up and then throwing him to the ground. The two animals were brought down in as many seconds.  Pinned, as inexplicably as Lung was pinned.  Except this wasn't sheer strength.  They were strategic, targeting body parts, one of the young men leveraging his whole body between Bastard's forelimbs, forcing them apart in a way that the dog's musculature couldn't combat. It was like holding a crocodile's mouth shut.  Jaw strength aside, the crocodile wasn't built to force it's mouth open.  The wolf wasn't built to draw its legs together against its chest, but couldn't get feet under it to stand without dislodging the offending attacker.  The other had his head caught and twisted to one side. - Venom 29.7
  29. This kid with the dress clothes was slippery, efficient, but the way his movements played out… maybe not quite on Contessa's level.  Contessa would have found a way to attack and defend at the same time, instead of being stuck evading Golem's power. - Venom 29.7
  30. My power is better at range.  Better still as I get further away, attack from other angles, in more subtle ways. - Interlude 21 (Donation Bonus 1)
  31. Golem tore his eyes away from the scene.  He glanced down at the street, where Bitch, Parian and Foil were reinforcing Tecton and Hoyden, backing them up as the Harbingers approached.  One Harbinger threw something, and a dog dropped like its heart had stopped. - Sting 26.5
  32. Extinction 27.4
  33. 33.0 33.1 King

    Screamer]]

    Harbinger

    Breed

    Crimson

    Gray Boy

    Nyx

    Psychosoma

    There were ten of each in various glass chambers. The original members. - Interlude 25
  34. I have it written down somewhere, but I had it down that they were no older than twelve, IIRC. Might have been twelve. - Wildbow on SufficientVelocity
  35. Interlude 15 (Donation Bonus #3)
  36. Richter's programs had continued to defraud organized crime, emptying bank accounts here and there.  Another agency, which Saint now knew to be the Number Man, had eventually stopped the Robin Hood A.I., but not before it had filled the Dragonslayer's coffers. - Interlude 26 (Donation Bonus 1)
  37. The bank account Coil had assigned to me seemed to be growing in alternating stutters and huge bounds.  The benefit of having a bank account that was managed by a guy who called himself ‘the Number Man', I supposed. - Colony 15.6
  38. Interlude 20
  39. Interlude 29
  40. Speck 30.5
  41. Wildbow on IRC
  42. Wildbow on Spacebattles

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