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Taylor Anne Hebert,[1] also known as Skitter, is the main character of Worm.[2] Her surname is pronounced "Hee-bert".[3]

AppearanceEdit

Civilian Identity Edit

Taylor was a tall,[4] stick-thin,[5][6] young woman with long, curly black hair[7][5][8][9] 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.[10][11] She was approximately 5'6" at the story's outset[3]

Taylor didn't wear clothes that showed skin, or bright colors. Emma presumed this was an unconscious effort to blend in or hide.[7] At various times, she wore a brown hooded sweatshirt over a green t-shirt.[10]

As time went on and under the influence of Lisa Wilbourn 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.[12] The fact that she didn't need to turn her head to look at things gave her a false appearance of extreme confidence.[13]

Parahuman Identity Edit

As Skitter, Taylor wore various costumes made of spider silk.

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[14]. She later dyes it black with grey paneling before she goes out[15]. 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.[16] Her mask leaves the back of her head uncovered and her hair free to fly behind her.[17]

She kept her costume clean by having bugs eat and clean any waste and wiping it down with a cloth.[18]

The spider-silk fabric is too tough to cut with an x-acto knife, although it can be slowly cut through using wire cutters.[14] It was mostly waterproof.[18] 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.[15] Eventually it included shoulder pads, elbow pads, wrist guards, a chest guard and kneepads, possibly more. Each had "layers" resembling a pillbug.[19] The mask design features dull yellow lenses and sections of armor designed to imitate a bug’s mandibles.[20][21]

Later, after a redesign, she incorporated clawed fingertips into her costume.[22]

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.[20], 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."[20]

In Queen 18.3, Miss Militia takes a look at the contents and sees: A handgun (Trickster's spare), 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)

As Weaver, Taylor uses a flight pack developed and maintained by Defiant. She first wears a generic version of her costume created by Dragon, which lacks the armor of her earlier costume simply being a light grey bodysuit with cleaner, slim dark grey armor panels. The mantle around her shoulders and the cloth hanging from her belt are marked in electric blue with her personal gang emblem (a beetle facing downwards) in miniature at each corner, flipped upside down so that it faces upward. [23]

When she deployed against Behemoth in New Delhi Defiant spray-painted her last Skitter costume white to match her new colors, but allow her additional protection.

After The Timeskip Weaver was properly outfitted with a silk body suit and her usual armor. Her later costume had extra armor, with a coil of silk hidden beneath an armor panel at the back of the hand.[22] Wildbow had her down in his notes as 5’8″ (175 cm), 125 lbs (56 kg) during her stay in prison[24]. According to her Wards physical, she was five feet and nine inches tall[25]. She later described herself as a hundred and thirty pounds and 5'10"[26]

After the Timeskip, she wears a spider-silk version of her Weaver costume. After it's partially destroyed during the oil-rig battle, she wears a costume that combines elements of several provisional costumes she had created in different color schemes.

During the oil-rig battle, she wore a black bodysuit with white armor panels and lenses. She carried primarily symbolic weapons - a handgun, taser, and pepper spray - and wore her flight pack.[22] Afterward, she wore a similar costume, including flight pack.[27][28] She carried the same tube of pepper spray, rescued from the remains of her previous costume.[27] She carried a knife in a holster, and supplemented it with a nano-thorn knife created by Defiant.[28]

As Khepri, Taylor wears a black bodysuit with white armor panels and lenses.[22] She is missing an arm, and appears to not be able to control her body very well. Throughout the fight with Scion, she usually had Doormaker and Clairvoyant attached to her, though when Doormaker ran out of energy for his power, she left him behind.

The name of Khepri was first seen when Contessa refers to Taylor as such. [29]

PersonalityEdit

BackgroundEdit

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".[10] She had seemingly never heard of Trigger Events, but this may have been a mistake by the author.[30]

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.[31][11] She suspected that she would hurt herself before she hurt the Trio.[14] However, Wildbow has stated that if she hadn't triggered, Taylor would likely have simply stopped going to school.[32]

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.[33]

Story StartEdit

She has shown some insecurity in her femininity, describing her long, dark curly hair as her "only feminine feature".[10] She would always stress over choosing her clothes.[34]

She had a tendency to throw herself into danger without considering the consequences to herself, that could easily have resulted in her death had it persisted.[35]

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".[36] She had no trust in organized institutions, and felt happier having some independence and control.[37]

She had increasing difficulty attending school.[38] Sometimes she would make deals with herself to attend for part of the day, then convince herself to attend for more.[39]

Tattletale noted that she seemed to "gravitate toward solitude", and that she seemed oblivious to people staring at her as Skitter, perhaps because she had spent so long assuming everyone was staring at her as a result of her poor self-confidence. Tattletale believed that Taylor would be better at using Tattletale's power than she was.[40]

Post-LeviathanEdit

She suffered from nightmares.[41]

She also started to take the lead more in engagements the undersiders participated in. Eventually taking the lead when dealing with Dragon.

Post-TimeskipEdit

She is an exceptionally accomplished martial artist; her bug-swarm-enhanced senses enable her to react to events faster than a normal human should be able to. She can easily defeat even other experienced parahumans in hand-to-hand combat. The boost to her senses and coordination due to her swarm also allows her exceptional accuracy with firearms. Personality-wise, she is noted to be cold, distant, exceptionally driven, and even ruthless by many characters.[42]

She became concerned that her passenger was influencing her behaviour.[43][44][45] She even blamed ordinary emotions on her passenger.[46] She tried hypnosis and bartering with it to control it, to no avail. Eventually she made a kind of peace with it.[47]

Gold MorningEdit

Taylor's sanity begins to rapidly fracture after her shard was 're-tuned' by Panacea. Panacea's alterations reduce the range but dramatically increase the power of Taylor's control, at the cost of the 'limiter' on Queen Administrator that prevents Taylor's powers from harming her. The consequences of the loss of the 'limiter are fundamental. She immediately loses the ability to speak, read, or write and continues to degrade over the course of Gold Morning, eventually losing the ability to understand spoken dialogue.[48]

Shards have a pre-programmed drive to cause conflict. The loss of the limiters on Taylor's Queen Administrator shard cause this quality of her power to excessively bleed into her personality. She loses the ability to understand basic human emotional cues and bodily language, ultimately interpreting nearly any and all forms of human interaction as fighting or conflict. Driven into near-total insanity by her powers, she resolves to take over the disparate Earths in order to finally have peace, but is convinced to peacefully retreat into a self-imposed exile by several heroes, including Narwhal, Rachel, Imp, Tattletale, and Glastig Ulaine.[49]

By the end of Gold Morning, the boundaries between Taylor and the Queen Administrator shard have worn thin. Queen Administrator is able to speak and communicate through Taylor, using Taylor's own voice. [50] Contessa compares her to other parahumans who have lost control of themselves due to the personality bleed-over from an unleashed shard. Echidna, Glastig Ulaine, and the Ash Beast are Contessa's examples of parahumans that Taylor now resembles. Taylor has by this point so degraded that she can only communicate through the assistance of powers, and needs to exert effort in order to be able to communicate as herself, instead of allowing her shard to speak for her.

Taylor ultimately expresses regret for the long chain of decisions she's made, starting from her first meeting with Armsmaster, and culminating in Scion's defeat. At a certain point the losses of friends and the moral compromises became too much, though not even she knows when or where the balance was tipped. Taylor says, in the end, that if she had a way to do it all over again, she would find a way to be a hero differently, a way to do it all better and not pay the prices she was forced to pay.[51]

Afterwards, Taylor, now unpowered, sneaked into an isolated reality along with her father. She met her mother there. [52]

Relationships Edit

Civilians Edit

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[10] acting as the ringleaders, she was reluctant to make friends and believed that boys didn't like her.[10] She speculates that the few boys that bullied her sought approval from three of the prettier and more popular girls.[10]

As Weaver, Taylor visits Ms. Yamada for therapy. The public start to see Weaver as a hero following the New Delhi battle.[citation needed]

TeachersEdit

Taylor disliked Mr. Gladly viewing him as one of the ‘popular kids' who had become a teacher.[10]

Mrs. Knott, who taught Computer sciences, was Taylor's favourite teacher.[53][54]

Taylor's Bullies Edit

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.[14] 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.[10] 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. After facing the likes of Coil and the Slaughterhouse 9 Taylor was able to overcome Emma's emotional attacks; following Taylor's public outing as Skitter Emma broke down. Emma Barnes' parents and sister blame Taylor for their daughter's eventual death.

Danny HebertEdit

They develop a somewhat strained relationship after she becomes Skitter. but repair it over the time she acted as Weaver. She always saw his teachings as a source of strength.

Other Parahumans Edit

Taylor was, in her younger days, a big fan of Alexandria and Armsmaster. As a member of the Undersiders she becomes close friends with Tattletale, Grue, and Rachel (Hellhound/Bitch). She has a somewhat more distant relationship with Regent, due to being somewhat unsettled by him.

Taylor and Grue become romantically involved after the events of the Slaughterhouse Nine arc, but the relationship is short-lived and fizzles due to dramatically different levels of potential investment in the relationship. Where Grue was unwilling to make it a 'serious' relationship, Taylor very much was.

Taylor and Clockblocker share a vaguely respectful mutual relationship despite being enemies, a connection forged by fighting with or against one another several times. This connection becomes obvious to the point that civilian rumors begin to circulate of a romantic relationship between the two. Taylor is also close to Golem, serving as something of a mentor figure. She also spends a large amount of her time with Chicago wards but is considered not to be as close with them as she is with the Undersiders. As Weaver, Taylor visits Ms. Yamada for therapy. The civilian public begins to see Weaver as a hero following the Behemoth battle and Glenn Chamber's unauthorized release of her POV video of the battle.

After the time-skip, she is close to Golem, serving as something of a mentor figure. She also spends a large amount of her time with Chicago wards but is considered not to be as close with them as she is with the Undersiders. After recovering from her injuries during the oil-rig battle, Taylor collects a team of parahumans with a semi-rotating membership from capes she had known in the past. This group includes Lung, Tattletale, Shadow Stalker, Cuff, Tecton, and Canary at different points.

Armsmaster Edit

He was the first real Cape that Taylor worked with. She loses her respect for him after he betrays her, and they later become brutal enemies. After gaining perspective, Armsmaster apologizes to her (which catches her off guard.) Afterwards they're able to have a civil (if not friendly) relationship.

Alexandria Edit

Alexandria was Taylor's favourite heroine when she was a kid.[55] 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.[56]

She developed a fractious relationship with The hero which turned dangerous a bit before Taylor began her career as Weaver.

Lisa Wilbourn "Tattletale"Edit

Lisa is one of the first to trust Taylor from their first meeting and eventually becomes her closest friend.

Brian Laborn "Grue" Edit

Taylor develops a crush on him and the two date for awhile. After the timeskip, though they have long since separated, she is still surprised to see that he had moved on with someone else.

Rachel Lindt "Bitch" Edit

The two initially have a rocky relationship, but by the end of Worm, Taylor is one of the few Rachel could call a friend.

Alec "Regent" Vasil Edit

Taylor is wary of Regent. She knows that he's a sociopath and considers his membership on the Undersiders a necessary evil.[citation needed]

Aisha Laborn "Imp" Edit

Taylor thinks she's annoying, but tolerates her out of respect for her brother. They develop a close personal relationship later on.

DefiantEdit

Despite his earlier betrayal, Defiant becomes something of a friend to Taylor, or at least a respected colleague. He and Dragon work to create her equipment and ferry her from place to place, at least partly as an apology. Their relationship is purely business.

PanaceaEdit

Complicated. Gifted her with Atlas, and later Relay bugs. Though these were meant to be temporary.

Abilities and Powers Edit

Taylor posesses a form of telepathy[57] that grants her total control over most arthropods.[58]

ControlEdit

She can make her minions do things that they would not normally do,[59] such as walk into fire[citation needed], produce so much web silk that they physically couldn't produce any more[60] or stinging while injecting little[61] to no venom.[62] She doesn't require "organized" insects. Once she stops controlling them, her bugs revert to their normal behavior patterns.[58]

MultitaskingEdit

Taylor has an almost limitless ability to focus on multiple insects at once, or to focus on other things while also using her insects.[61][63] 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.[64] However, she could be distracted by the difficulty of focusing on her insects' senses,[65] and by Panacea's modified insects providing contradictory signals.[63][66] 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,[45] when she was incapacitated,[67] or when she was in an altered mental state,[44] without her conscious instruction.

EmotionsEdit

Taylor would sometimes use her bugs to "channel" her emotions, lending her an "aura of indomitable calm".[43] This can be seen with Alexandria's interrogation in Cell 22.4 , when Taylor was able to attack Alexandria and the latter was not prepared as Taylor had offloaded all of her emotional cues into her bugs and thus appeared calmer than she truly was.[68] Armsmaster's lie-detector and Cherish's power also had partially bad reads on her emotions.[69]

SensesEdit

The sensory input from her bugs is "fuzzy" and difficult for humans to interpret.[64][70] She can sporadically hear and see clearly, but the "signal quality" is unreliable.[70]

Practicing doesn't seem to produce results.[65] However, over time, Taylor does learn to more reliably hear through her bugs.[70] 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".[71]

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.[64] She can also sense the biology and location[57] of every bug she can control.[72] This gives her enhanced aim[73] and the ability to dodge attacks with supernatural reaction times.[74] 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.[citation needed]

Taylor also receives some knowledge of her bugs' biology from her power,[75] giving her an understanding of their limits, capabilities and the effects of adaptions such as any venom they have.[76]

LimitsEdit

Taylor has a limited range. During periods of stress, it would increase, once reaching over six and a half blocks.[77] The increases aren't permanent.[78] 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.[79][80][81]

Her power doesn't work on creatures below a certain size.[82] 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.[83] Her power does not affect squid. It's possible that she could control bug-like Case 53s, depending on their brain makeup & chemistry.[84] At one point, Taylor attempted to distract a foe underwater by forming simulated bodies out of sea creatures.[85]

She was able to control Atlas a horse sized beetle, and have her range extended by Relay bugs. Both of these were courtesy of Panacea. Like all of her other bugs she saw them as tools, though Atlas did have some sentimental value.

SkillsEdit

Taylor has come up with a multitude of creative uses of her power. For example, she can produce and manipulate large quantities of spider silk, coat her insects in petroleum jelly and capsaicin to use them like pepper spray, deploy groups of bugs to create humanoid figures,[86] mask her movements, and clear out rat infestations. She was able to catch containment foam on glass carried by her bugs and stick it to her attackers.[87] She can disguise or project her voice by having her insects buzz and chirp together.[88]

She even had some tricks she wasn't consciously aware of learning. For example, she would occasionally use her bugs to cover her while she moved without noticing, making her difficult to track.[89]

Taylor had an unusually high pain tolerance, which she blamed on her exposure to a pain-bomb of Bakuda's.[90]

ClassificationEdit

Taylor was rated by PRT analysts as a Master 5,[16] which was later upgraded to an 8.[91] A rating of Thinker 1 was officially added when Emily Piggot deduced she could see through her bugs in a limited fashion.[91][92] 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,[93] but she was still classified as a thinker-one after Piggot had left office.[94]

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[94] and to authorize additional means of containing her.[95]

Taylor's trigger event, which involved both an environmental stressor and a thinker stressor, led her primarily Master power to have Thinker and Shaker overtones.[96]

QuotesEdit

  • (To Lung): "Don't underestimate me."
  • (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."[97]
  • (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

TriviaEdit

  • 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"[98], queen being one of the regal titles that Glaistig Uaine uses for those with powerful and fully developed shards[22], which became a popular fan nickname for the power.
  • Taylor's surname, "Hebert," would most likely pronounced "Ai-bear," as it is a French name. H is rarely pronounced in French, especially at the beginning of a word, and a final consonant is also rarely pronounced without a final "e" after it. However her surname is canonically stated to be pronounced "Hee-bert".[3]

Fanart Gallery Edit

References Edit

  1. Prey 14.8
  2. Skitter – The protagonist. A bug controller, she wears a black spidersilk costume with gray-black speckled armor panels. If you’ve forgotten who she is, you have a problem. - Cast (spoiler free)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 How tall exactly is Taylor? in comparison to the Wards ENE?

    I think I mention it in the story, but you wouldn't be too wrong if you said she's 5'7" or 5'8" (corrected from 5'6") at the story's outset, taller than Battery, who's maybe 5'3" or 5'4". The only one who'd be taller than her would be Browbeat (using his power) or Aegis (who's a tallish male about to turn 18).

    Taylor's last name is pronounced 'A bear' right? I ask this because I recall Victor calling Skitter 'heb' and she having a panic attack because she thought he knew her last name. Did I miss something?

    Hee-bert. A-bear would be the French pronunciation, but her family uses the American pronunciation. The slur is 'heeb', short for Hebrew. - Comment on spacebattles by Wildbow
  4. Broomstick arms and legs, gawky, with a wide, guileless smile, her eyes just a fraction larger behind the glasses she wore, a little too old fashioned. Her long dark curls were tied into a loose set of twin braids, one bearing a series of colorful ‘friendship braclet' style ties at the end. Only her height gave her age away. - Excerpt from Interlude 19.z
  5. 5.0 5.1 A girl with curly black hair and glasses, stick thin, hugging a red-haired girl. The body type was a match.

    [...]

    The goal was always the same: to look for the girl with the slight build, curly black hair and glasses. Taylor Hebert. - Interlude 10.5 (Bonus)
  6. A girl, skinny, but not in the attractive way you saw in magazines. Spindly. - Excerpt from Sentinel 9.6
  7. 7.0 7.1 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
  8. Skinny teenage girl with black curly hair entering and leaving the same building that the skinny teenage villain with black curly hair was operating out of? - Excerpt from Infestation 11.1
  9. Her expression was masked behind a shifting mass of bugs that moved in and out of her hairline. Sierra couldn’t even tell where the bugs ended and the scalp began, as the small black bodies crawled into and onto the black curls. - 14.x (Interlude)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 Gestation 1.1
  11. 11.0 11.1 Interlude 22
  12. 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
  13. She wasn’t in costume. It was odd, seeing her approach from a distance, observing her uninterrupted over a longer span of time. She conveyed an eerie kind of confidence that he knew she didn’t have at her core. Some of that was how she unflinchingly looked forward. She didn’t react as the wind blew her hair across her face, didn’t turn to look around the street as she crossed an intersection.

    He might have to say something about that. If that was her using her power to assess her surroundings and keep an eye out for trouble, she should avoid doing it when she was in civilian wear.

    She stopped a short distance away, holding grocery bags in one hand and tucking her hair back into place with the other. She wore a black tank top, jeans and rubber boots, with a sweatshirt tied around her waist. That last article of clothing would be to conceal weapons, he guessed. Her glasses caught the light from the sun to the west, turning almost opaque in the glare as she looked his way.- Excerpt from Interlude 15 (Donation Bonus 2)
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Gestation 1.2
  15. 15.0 15.1 Gestation 1.3
  16. 16.0 16.1 Extermination 8.5
  17. Hive 5.10
  18. 18.0 18.1 Easy peasy. There’s bugs that eat and clean the waste of other bugs (pillbugs, for example) and she can suppress or time their need to create the waste in the first place (at least for the, say, pillbugs, who would therefore not be making mess as they clean it up).

    As the armor’s mostly waterproof (see chapter where she mentions trying to give Newter first aid, for this), all she’d need is a wipe-down with a wet cloth and some pillbug attention. - Comment by Wildbow on Tangle 6.6
  19. Alas, I’m not a talented artist, or I’d be able to sketch out the armor in proper. I’ve got two pieces of work that I’ve yet to sit down and finish; one being a sketch of her armor, as she might have drawn it in her notebook (see arc 1, chapter 2) and the other being a drawing of Taylor herself, which stalled because I can’t draw hair in a way that satisfies me. I may get it done if I find a good reference image that I can build off of, as well as the mood to draw at a time to actually do said drawing.

    But yeah. Keep in mind that her armor features that spade shaped compartment over her back – sort of like a beetle shell, about the size of a small backpack. There’s also shoulderpads, elbow pads, wristguards, chestguard, kneepads, etc. Each having layers in the style of insect chitin (pillbug, etc), that adds to the bulk (and internal capacity, as it happens), without making it too ‘loose’.

    As I think on it, though, it is a rather high number. If I recall, it was a placeholder I put in there while I didn’t have access to the web or a library for research, and I never thought to change it while doing sweeps of edits & whatnot to the subsequent drafts. I’ll change that. - Comment by Wildbow on Tangle 6.6
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Gestation 1.4
  21. Taylor Hebert, Skitter– A 16 year old native of Brockton Bay, Taylor gained the power to control arthropods and other simple lifeforms, sensing what they sense to varying degrees. With a wide range (spanning nine to fifteen hundred feet around her) and the power to individually control each insect, she relies on versatility and strategic thinking to seize the advantage in battle.Her powers manifested in January 2011, triggered by a bullying campaign by her former best friend and two other girls. She found a measure of escape with her dream of becoming a superhero, but things didn’t quite work out that way. She’s now one of the controlling powers in Brockton Bay, a villain warlord in charge of the Boardwalk, with a small contingent of followers working under her, and leader of the Undersiders.
    .
    In civilian guise, she’s skinny to the point of being scrawny, with glasses and long curly hair she maintains as a desperate grasp at a single feminine feature. Her gawky or nerdy appearance is marked by a wide mouth and large eyes.
    .
    As Skitter, she wears a costume of black spider silk and gray armor panels, a yellow-lensed mask that features a mandible-esque design around her jaw. Her hair blows free. Depending on the situation and the state of her costume, she occasionally wears a skirt or shawl of black spider silk with ragged or torn edges, for protection, concealment, and to offer more surface area for her bugs to crawl on. When battle ready, bugs crawl over every surface of her costume, including her hair and mask. The carapace-like panel of armor at her back serves as a utility compartment, holding her weapons and various items. - Cast (in depth)
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 Extinction 27.4
  23. Cell 22.6
  24. In my notes, I had her down at 5’8″ (178 cm), 125 lbs (56 kg). Pretty close! - Comment by Wildbow on Drone 23.1
  25. Scarab 25.1
  26. Sting 26.2
  27. 27.0 27.1 Cockroaches 28.3
  28. 28.0 28.1 Venom 29.3
  29. Speck 30.7
  30. Being completely honest, even as the author, I'm a little surprised Taylor didn't know or even voice that she'd come across the idea while on ParahumansOnline. I thought I remembered the dialogue going more like, "Do you know what trigger events are?" "I've heard of them, but..."

    I suspect I may tweak it just a bit when I return to the chapter while doing the edits for the polished final version. - Comment by Wildbow, archived on Sufficient Velocity
  31. Wildbow: Early Taylor responds to stress with silence and withdrawal.
    [...]
    logiccosmic: Anything else you remember from the shit show?
    Mishie: back
    Wildbow: The big issue is it doesn't feel like Taylor.
    Wildbow: When writing a character, you gotta start from the motivations. Taylor, starting out, just wants to get by.
    •  %logiccosmic scribbles furiously
      Wildbow: She was 'surviving', for lack of a better word, from the point her mom died, and then surviving from the point she started getting bullied.
      Wildbow: She compartmentalizes things, but she's very prone to having her perspective skew like crazy.
      Wildbow: (I really want to emphasize this more in the rewrite, for the initial arcs) - Wildbow on IRC, archived on SpaceBattles
  32. People keep saying suicide, but that isn't quite it.
    Taylor likely would have stopped going to school. She was already on that road. - Reddit - "What would've happened to Taylor if she'd never triggered?"
  33. Hive 5.8
  34. Tangle 6.2
  35. Taylor isn't suicidal but would have dropped out of school.
    Depends on your definition of suicidal. I've fairly sure I've dropped WoG (That's noted in the archives) that states Taylor would not live in a lot of AUs because she was liable to tailspin into self destruction (the thought 'I want to die' not crossing her mind even as she put herself into dangerous situations) in a lot of scenarios where she didn't have the same outside influence. - Partial comment by Wildbow on Reddit
  36. Gestation 1.6
  37. As Taylor states, “I had considered applying to join, but 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.”

    In brief: The Wards could easily be everything she’s trying to get away from.

    Beyond that, she has no trust in organized institutions (school has failed her badly – see the next chapter for more on the subject), and she’s happier having some independence and control (personal power, freedom, escapism) in circumstances where she otherwise has none, than she would be as another rank and file member of the Wards. Or, perhaps to phrase it better, she’s more afraid of being unhappy in the Wards than she is of being unhappy on her own.

    So why not just fly solo for a while, right? - Comment by Wildbow on Gestation 1.6
  38. 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]
  39. 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]
  40. Interlude 8 (Bonus)
  41. I know the dream sequence is sort of a tired bit, but it struck me that I’ve mentioned a few times that Taylor has nightmares, earlier in the story, and there’s the stress over Dinah, her dad and Sophia, and I wanted to sort of touch on that without getting into pure exposition. Showing rather than telling. So I went with the dream.

    All in all? I’m ok with how that part turned out, personally. Though I welcome any complaints/criticisms/praise to let me know if I hit the mark & should leave that option open for another story/book in another year. - Comment by Wildbow on Infestation 11.1
  42. Cell 22.2
  43. 43.0 43.1 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. - Excerpt from Extinction 27.3
  44. 44.0 44.1 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
  45. 45.0 45.1 Had I? Not wholly consciously. I'd set up the string, but how much of that was intentional? Was it habit, now, to have a measure on hand when dealing with any weapon?

    I focused on the swarm, focused on the cords and threads that traced the room. One in the doorway, one at each of Phir Sē's feet, just waiting for me to finish the deal and bind him. Others extended between us, spiders poised to cut the threads or tie them, as the situation demanded.

    The passenger, or was it me, being wary?

    "I guess I did," I said. I made the spiders cut the threads between us.

    [...]

    My heart was still pounding, my mouth dry, and it wasn't just the Phir Sē thing, or the teleporter. The passenger. - Crushed 24.4
  46. "It's been a bad day, in case you haven't noticed. You're allowed to feel bad. It's kind of normal."

    Normal.

    I'd been thinking of my feelings as being off-kilter, out of control, unreasonable and irrational.

    Were they just regular feelings? Emotions that weren't being reined in by my discipline and bottling everything up, by distraction and disconnection?

    Somewhere along the line, I'd stopped thinking about my feelings as being mixed up or fucked up and stopped concerning myself with them altogether. On a level, I'd blamed my passenger.

    But I wasn't sure I could justify that with what I was experiencing now. Why would the passenger take away, gain ground in subsuming my identity and then give it back, all like this?

    Was it just me? - Excerpt from Extinction 27.3
  47. Sting 26.4
  48. Speck 30.7
  49. Speck 30.7
  50. “I don’t-” I started.  What had I been saying?

    Not me.  The passenger.  I had to relax.  Allow myself to speak. - Excerpt from Speck 30.7
  51. Speck 30.7
  52. Excerpt from Interlude: End
  53. 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.
  54. 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
  55. 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?" - Excerpt from Insinuation 2.6
  56. 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
  57. 57.0 57.1 In truth, when they’re quoting the scientists as saying “There’s no telepathy, it’s impossible.” they’re quoting something where the scientists theorized that thought-transference wouldn’t work. Which is similar but different.

    Yes, Taylor is telepathic – she transmits information via. yet-unknown channels to her bugs, who respond, and through these same channels, she gets very frequent (to the point that it feels real-time) updates on her bugs’ positions, biology/status, etc. in what’s sort of a very rapid, hyper-detailed echolocation.

    Meanwhile, thought-transference is more the ‘put thoughts in other people’s heads, or take thoughts out of other’s heads and understand them.’ - Comment by Wildbow on Extermination 8.4
  58. 58.0 58.1 Ah, but the control & organization of the bugs she controls don’t necessarily matter. She maintains absolute control anyways. The only convenience would be, say, that they could cooperate in her absence. (As opposed to black widows which have to be isolated from each other as they’re territorial enough to kill one another). - Comment by Wildbow on Plague 12.1
  59. Comment by Wildbow on Spacebattles
  60. Comment by Wildbow on Prey 14.4
  61. 61.0 61.1 Colony 15.9
  62. Tangle 6.7
  63. 63.0 63.1 Re: Skitter’s power, she’s yet to demonstrate the inability to control some bugs because she was focusing on others or focusing on something else. Well, there was the bank robbery, but that was Panacea’s interference at work. It’s unstated, but multitasking abilities come part and parcel with her power, as far as her facility with her power is concerned. - Comment by Wildbow on Infestation 11.2
  64. 64.0 64.1 64.2 Taylor’s power is fairly nuanced, and I guess I haven’t really elaborated enough on that aspect of things. I tweaked the sweaty crotches part of the chapter just a tiny bit, and will strive to explain a little better in a later chapter. Long story short, Taylor’s sensory input from the bugs is vastly different depending on whether she’s giving them a general ‘find your way to me’ impulse or whether she’s focused enough on them individually to have them navigating their way into somebody’s underpants. In the former case, she’s drawn her bugs in while really stressed (such as when Bitch attacked her) without really noticing she was doing it. Things are that thin, that easy to block out.

    You said “not at all recognizable from the ‘human’ perspective except by a good deal of piecing together of clues.” – Except she’s got a helluvalot of clues. Even fuzzy, blurry clues add up to a pretty strong mental picture when you’ve got enough of them. When there’s also context, with Taylor knowing in advance what her bugs are doing, there’s going to be (even if Taylor doesn’t really want to) a framing of those clues in a particular way. - Comment by Wildbow on Shell 4.3
  65. 65.0 65.1 Comment by Wildbow on Prey 14.4
  66. Agitation 3.12
  67. 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? -
  68. 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 Spacebattles
  69. Armsmaster's lie detector.
    Cherish gets a partial read on Skitter, but extrapolates wrong. Jack remarks on this on two occasions, especially how (he feels) if the read had been correct, he could have convinced Taylor to kill Battery.
    Powers set aside, she expresses frustration at people misreading her motivations, especially at the meeting with Accord/Valefor/the Teeth. Virtually everyone around her has trouble grasping what she's doing and why: her dad, Emma (most recent encounter), D&D, Grue, even Tattletale at times. - Partial comment by Wildbow on Reddit
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 Well, she can’t quite hear through her bugs. As she says in 2.6, noises break down to weird and irritating pitches that she can’t quite make out.

    The one real exception to this occurs at the conclusion of the ‘Shell’ arc, where she was overhearing music through a moth. But that’s an exception, not the rule. - Comment by Wildbow on Tangle 6.1
  71. Cell 22.4
  72. He doesn’t have a conventional brain, but his system isn’t so simple that Taylor can take it over. If she could have, her power would have detected & sensed him the way it usually does bugs. Comment by Wildbow on Cell 9.1
  73. Sting 26.6
  74. 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
  75. Prey 14.6
  76. “Yeah,” Lisa raised an eyebrow, “You do know which bugs you had biting him, right? Black Widow, Brown Recluse, Browntail Moth, Mildei, Fire Ants-”

    “Yeah,” I cut her off, “I don’t know the official names, but I know exactly what bit him, what stung him and what the venoms do.”
    - Excerpt from Insinuation 2.6
  77. Chrysalis 20.5
  78. Comment by Wildbow on Infestation 11.3
  79. 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
  80. 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
  81. 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
  82. 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
  83. “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
  84. 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.

    But I think the real concern wouldn’t be so much ‘Is it possible’ as the ethics involved. - Comment by Wildbow on Interlude 5
  85. 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
  86. Infestation 11.3
  87. Parasite 10.5
  88. Pinkhair:
    I figured that Taylor did the voice trick to disguise herself, now that she knows that Sophia might possibly recognize her by voice.

    Wildbow:
    We have a winner. - Comment by Wildbow on Sentinel 9.6
  89. All around me, PRT employees were howling in pain, their cries silenced by the lack of an audio feed.  Either the camera hadn’t picked it up, or Glenn had muted it.  They thrashed.  One reached for me, for the me on the screen, and I could see how I moved out of the way without even glancing at him.  The swarm concealed me at the same time, briefly obscuring the Skitter in the video from both the man on the ground and the security camera.  When it parted, she had shifted two or three feet to the left.  A simple step to one side in the half-second she couldn’t be seen, but it misled the eyes.

    And I couldn’t remember doing it.  I’d never consciously added the trick to my repertoire. - Excerpt from Drone 23.3
  90. “Whatever,” Panacea said. “Works for me, actually.”

    Then she touched me, and the pain went away. I relaxed so suddenly I felt like I’d suddenly become part liquid. I’d been so tense my head wasn’t even touching the countertop, my legs and shoulders tense.

    “Thank you,” I said. “Thanks.”

    “You have a high pain tolerance,” she said.

    “One of Bakuda’s bombs, way back when,” I said. “I think it messed with my head, as far as my perception of pain. I found out what it’s really like to feel pain, real ten-out-of-ten pain. A part of me knew it was too much to be true, and other stuff’s affected me more because I knew it was tied with something real. Case in point, a burn is still a motherfucker.”

    “Well, we’ll fix it,” she said. - Excerpt from Venom 29.9
  91. 91.0 91.1 Cell 22.1]
  92. Queen 18.3
  93. Monarch 16.2
  94. 94.0 94.1 "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 
  95. 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
  96. 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
  97. https://parahumans.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/extinction-27-2/
  98. Scarab 25.5

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