Worm was created by Wildblow. This is fan fiction.
Author's Note: For those unfamiliar with Worm, it's a web serial about a girl named Taylor Hebert in a world of superheroes and supervillains. She wants to do the right thing, but society keeps pushing her down and pushing her into a corner. The world of Worm is incredibly dark in the since that the bad guys often win, but Taylor never gives up completely. This particular version will not be as dark as canon Worm.
I screamed until my throat gave out. I banged on the locker door until I exhausted myself. I vomited at least five times—mostly dry heaving. I cried until I was too numb to care any more. I ached all over from being cramped in the too-small locker. No one helped me—not during the seven hours of school or after. Time lost meaning to me—I thought the locker was a little bit darker and it felt colder, but it was hard for her to tell if it was just my imagination or not. I felt sick, and not just from the smell. The feeling of bugs crawling on me had long since stopped bothering me due to my delirium.
I would ease your suffering, child.
I started at the unexpected voice. It was kind, musical, ethereal, feminine, motherly, and a little bit mischievous. At least I thought it was a voice. A warmth filled me starting at my forehead and spreading throughout my body. My aches faded and I became able to think again.
"Who are you?" I asked. My voice sounded normal for the first time in hours.
I am called Elmindra.
"Are you a cape?"
I am not human—much less parahuman, child.
"What are you? Why are you helping me?"
Some have called me a goddess, others fae. For myself, I don't remember. I have existed so long that I no longer recall my origins. The most amusing of my titles, and the one that I actually prefer, is ROB.
Random Omnipotent Being. Elmindra sounded amused.
"Are you really omnipotent?"
No, child, but to many it seems that way.
"Can you get me out of here?"
Yes. I can and will. I also have a gift for you, if you wish it.
Yes. I wish to gift you with the power to make a difference.
"You can make me a cape?"
No, child. I cannot make you a parahuman. That is the domain of the parasite known to you as Scion.
"Scion? The hero?"
I would not call Scion a hero. He helps, but he does so out of boredom rather than desire, and ultimately, he intends to destroy your world.
His kind initiates conflict. They gift shards of power to sentients so that they will use them, so that the shards will learn and improve themselves. Eventually, he will harvest them and use your world as fuel to power his voyage to a new world to infect.
"We need to tell someone!"
There are those among your kind that know and are struggling to find a way to deal with him as well as what you term "Endbringers." I don't know if they will succeed or not, but the odds are not promising. Elmindra stopped speaking as Taylor processed what she had said.
I propose to give you the power to make a difference. You can pretend to be a parahuman if you like, but if you accept, you will rarely be able to pretend to be normal.
I hesitated. The "rarely be able to pretend to be normal" sounded slightly ominous. I steeled myself. This was my chance to be a hero!
"I don't care. I want to be a hero! I want to be a difference for good!" I exclaimed. I wanted to make Brockton Bay the type of place that no other girl would be shoved into a locker filled with refuse.
Would it make any difference to you if I told you that one of your principle tormentors is affiliated with the Protectorate?
The Protectorate? None of my bullies were old enough to be actual members of the Protectorate, but the government hero team had a junior auxiliary called the Wards. They were limited to mainly training and public relations events, but they occasionally fought—especially here in Brockton Bay, where the heroes were so outnumbered. I doubted that Elmindra meant affiliated in any other way. As far as I knew, none of the local Protectorate had children. There were two female Wards: Vista, who was too young to be one of my bullies, and Shadow Stalker. The Ward's build and attitude matched up best with Sophia out of my three tormentors. I grew angry. How could they call themselves heroes if they let a bully like Sophia Hess join them? I clenched my fists and counted to ten mentally in order to calm myself.
"It doesn't make a difference to me," I said finally. "I still want to do good. I admit that it will probably affect how I do it though."
I am pleased to hear that. It may make a difference to you to know that only one of her superiors or colleagues, the case worker that is supposed to be monitoring her, has any idea of what has been happening here. However, her superiors in the Parahuman Response Team know what type of person she is and are too trusting or ambivalent to monitor her closely. For the most part the Wards and Protectorate members themselves are good people, if perhaps too trusting in the system. I want to emphasize that I am giving you this gift in order for you to do good regardless of what the law or society itself says.
Society and the law had failed me pretty spectacularly. I wanted to help people, but did not particularly care to protect the organs of society that maintained the status quo.
I have been looking for someone in this world that has experienced great suffering, but has not succumbed to it. You, Taylor Hebert, have suffered greatly in the last year and a half, but still want to help people. You have kept to the values that your mother taught you and have not succumbed to the temptation to become a bully yourself.
"I'm not as noble as you make me sound," I whispered.
Elmindra chuckled. I need someone good. I do not especially care about noble.
I blushed at the praise. "What did you mean earlier about not being able to 'pretend to be normal?'"
If you accept my gift, it will change your appearance. I will cause you to sleep while my energy suffuses you. You will wake up and free yourself while the halls are full of your peers. You will transform in full view of your schoolmates. Are you familiar with the term "Case 53?"
I frowned and said, "Yes." Case 53's were the so-called "monster capes." They looked inhuman and had severe amnesia of who they were before they were found.
If you accept, you will have the appearance of an exceptionally beautiful and striking Case 53. However, you would not lose your memory or have their distinctive tattoo. In order to give you some stress relief and time off, I would grant you a limited shapeshifting ability so that you could appear as a normal human for about an hour a day. I will also remove the Shard of the parasite, to make you independent of him.
"Why so little time?" Taylor asked.
I want you to make a difference, child. You can't do that if you hide. She giggled. I want you to turn the parahuman world on its head.
I was slightly unnerved by the fact that the "ROB" was giggling. I thought about Elmindra's stipulations. I was a shy, introverted girl—which was one of the reasons the bullies had been so successful. My only friend had turned against me and become my primary antagonist, leaving me incredibly vulnerable. One of the main attractions for me about being a hero, was that the costume protected the hero from exposure of their private selves.
I want you to stretch and grow, Taylor. If you accept my gift, it will be challenging, but I believe you can do it.
"What happens if I decline?"
You would have triggered here in the locker if I had not interfered. At your discretion I can remove the Shard of the parasite or leave it. If I leave it, you won't trigger here, but may in the future. Be warned that triggering as a parahuman happens when you are under great duress. You would need to have another day approaching today in order for it to happen. I will put you to sleep and make sure the janitor finds you tomorrow morning. He will make sure you get to the hospital and are treated for your injuries.
"Didn't you heal me?"
I relieved your pain and symptoms only. If you don't accept my offer, it would be better for you if you weren't healed. That way they do not erroneously think you have powers.
"Do you know what my cape powers would have been?" I asked, curious.
Your shard calls itself the Queen Administrator. You would likely have been a strong Master type of some sort, but I cannot say for sure. The exact details of a parahuman's power depends on the circumstances surrounding their trigger and their thoughts and needs at the time.
"What powers will your gift give to me?"
I prefer to leave it as a surprise. I will say that you would have the potential to match an upper-level parahuman.
That both pleased me and made me a little nervous. I realized that I had already decided to accept. Perhaps it was vanity, but I wanted to make a difference in the world. I wanted to stop being the victim. There was only one thing that worried me—Dad.
"If I'm out as a cape, what would happen to my dad?" I asked. "I don't want villains to target him to get to me."
I will provide you with an artifact that will protect him by teleporting him to a safe place if he is in danger.
"Thank you," I said with feeling. "I'll do it."
I am pleased, Elmindra said warmly.
More warmth spread out from my forehead. I felt a brief squeal of pain and disappointment as a small pressure on my thoughts that I had never noticed before disappeared. I began to feel drowsy.
"Will we ever meet again?" I asked. I realized that I didn't even know what she looked like.
Perhaps, but if so, it will not be soon.
Just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard her say, I should probably have warned you that many feel that I have an odd sense of humor. She giggled.
A brief flash of panic enveloped me, but I was too far gone to stop from falling asleep.
My awareness reasserted itself quickly. I remembered the locker and the odd discussion with the so-called ROB. I was still in the locker, but it seemed lighter. I could hear chatter outside it. I reflexively pushed against the locker door with my back and it gave way. I tumbled into the hall.
As I lay on the floor, I glanced around. Some of my fellow students looked embarrassed. Some looked viciously pleased. Others looked at me with pity. No one moved to help me. I heard some snickers and name-calling—the tamest of which was "loser."
I was still covered in filth and sores, but I felt fine. My glasses had fallen off in the locker, but I found I could see even better than if I had them on. I felt more warmth pool in my forehead. This was punctuated by a light prick there and a gentle weight, which grew more pronounced, but still manageable. I reached up and felt a bony growth rising from her forehead. From what I could see and feel, a ridge spiraled around it until it came to a point. My horn's tip was just within the reach of my hands. I touched it and found that it had a very sharp point.
One boy exclaimed, "Who does she think she is, Narwhal?"
Narwhal was a Canadian cape who was rather flamboyant and famous.
One of the junior bullies, a girl in my World Issues class named Julia, said, "I hope not. No one wants to see her wearing only tight forcefields." She made gagging noises. Narwhal's most famous quirk was that she didn't wear any actual clothes.
My horn stopped growing at about two feet in length. After that, it began to glow. My injuries suddenly healed themselves and the filth on my clothes and skin sloughed off, leaving my skin and clothes spotless. My hair turned white. I felt a gentle itching in my legs. I sat up and lifted my pant legs. I could see white fur-like hair growing around my ankles and shins. Judging by the itching, it covered my legs all the way up to my hips.
I felt a pressure in my feet as my shoes became tight. Frowning, I took them off. My feet, which were still inside my socks had taken on an odd, stretched shape. Curious, I removed my socks. The white fur covered my feet as well, even the bottom. My big toes were completely gone. As I watched my pinkie toe and second toe retracted as my foot increased in length while becoming thinner. All four of my remaining toenails increased in thickness, but my third and fourth toes grew and their toenails expanded until they became hooves. My second and fifth toes tucked behind and above my main hoof toes. If I remembered right, they called those toes/toenails dewclaws. My hooves were a light cream color that was almost white. My ankle now looked more like a knee that bent the wrong way and the bottom joint of my two larger toes became my new ankle. When what used to be my foot stopped lengthening, the hair on it began to grow, becoming somewhat shaggy.
I was well-read enough to guess that I was turning into a unicorn of some sort, between the cloven hooves and the horn. I hoped that I retained my arms and voice. It would be inconvenient to not have them. I felt, however, strangely calm. I wondered if Elmindra was stopping me from freaking out.
I chuckled. The other students were freaking out enough for all of us. Most of them had fled, but there were still some sticking around, many of them filming me with their phones. Someone had fetched Emma and Sophia. My former best friend was looking on in fascination. Sophia sneered at me when she noticed me noticing her. The third of my tormentors, Madison, was nowhere to be seen.
The rest of my legs had started to change shape—my thighs started to swell. My pants were rapidly becoming too tight. I didn't exactly want to strip, but undid the button on my pants, to catcalls from some of the football team. It helped relief the pressure a little, but before long my pants were splitting at the seams. Strangely, I barely felt it. Denim is usually much tougher than flesh and it should be crushing me as my legs swelled. I wasn't sure if the protection from my clothes hurting me as I changed shape was a temporary gift or if I now had a Brute rating.
To my relief, the hair on my legs and hips was thick enough to protect my modesty, more or less, because my panties were about to give as well. The hair was almost as thick as it was around my ankles. I removed the remains of my pants and underwear, struggling to get them over my longer and oddly-shaped legs. My old feet was now longer than my calves or my thighs, which had each shortened as my legs changed. This gave me the appearance of having backwards-bending knees.
A pressure emerged in my backside. I rolled onto my side and looked behind me and saw a fur-covered tail snaking out behind me. My new tail looked like that of a short-haired cat. However, when it finally stopped growing, a white tuft of fur, like a lion's tail, sprouted from the end. I made it twitch, fascinated at having a new limb of sorts.
I rolled over onto my stomach and arched my back in order to loosen some tension that had built up there. My spine stretched and my torso grew; the new growth was covered in the same white fur. The growth pushed my upper body along the floor. Even though I couldn't feel any shifting of my organs, I could see some odd shifting around things moved inside me as my lower torso didn't have any ribs covering it. The stretching stopped when my torso was about twice as long as normal, which looked decidedly odd. Nubs appeared on it about halfway down its length. The nubs grew into spindly limbs to my immense relief. It was now apparent that I was turning into a centaur of some sort. Hopefully my upper body remained human. I took great relief in the fact that Elmindra had said I would look beautiful.
My new front legs finished growing and my hips shifted—the weirdest sensation yet—causing me to pull my rear legs underneath my torso. My rear torso barreled out slightly as a second rib cage grew in. A shoulder-like structure grew in to support my "front hips" and my fur there grew shaggier—like a lion's mane, but not as long. I stretched my spine again as my front abdominal muscles tightened. I pressed my hands against them and found them much more solid than my old abs had been. I pulled my front half upright so that my upper body was vertical while my rear body knelt on four legs. When my rear body stopped changing, I stood on all four of my legs.
I looked at my lower half. My upper half was very flexible, allowing me to get a good look at most of it. My lower body was lithe and sleek and not particularly horse-like. My tail and hooves were also decidedly different than a horse's, but matched how some legends describe unicorns.
My upper body seemed too small, but no sooner had I thought that, my upper rib cage began to shift and grow. My remaining clothing began to feel tight, but not enough to burst. My spine stretched too, pulling my shirt up enough to expose my bare navel. The slight pudge I had developed was long gone and my waist even looked waspish due to the way it flowed into my lower half. I didn't have a visible "six pack" but when I moved my upper torso, I could see muscles rippling underneath the skin of my abdomen. My skin seemed paler, but more healthy looking. My breasts compressed against my bra as they grew slightly, which was uncomfortable, but not painful due to my suspected brute rating. My arms also grew slightly. I removed my hoodie and then reached around and undid my bra strap through my t-shirt, but left it on. I tied my hoodie around my waist.
I could feel the skin in my face stretching. I reached up and felt it. My nose seemed more delicate and my cheekbones were also different. Without looking in a mirror, the biggest difference I could tell was that my ears were pointed like an elf from a fantasy book.
I briefly thought my changes were done, but another set of nubs grew out near my spine, not far behind my forelegs. The nubs grew into hand-like structures with membranes connecting the fingers. White feathers grew out of my new limbs. After they were finished growing, I stretched my wings. My wingspan was too large for the hall, so I limited my stretching. I frowned. There was no way my wings could provide enough lift for me to fly. Maybe that was one of my powers?
Finally I could tell I had stopped changing. I looked myself over again. I was a combination unicorn/pegasus/centaur? That was ridiculous! Did Elmindra have the mentality an eight-year-old girl?
"Don't think this changes anything, Taylor," Emma sneered. "Now everyone can see at a glance how freakish you are."
"Yeah," Sophia added. "Don't think being a cape makes you strong, Hebert."
In the past I would have ignored them, but I was angry enough at what they had done to me that I snapped out while turning around, "Why would I even consider the opinion of a two-bit bully and a back-stabbing traitor to be worth anything?"
I was relieved to hear that my voice sounded mostly the same—maybe a little clearer. I was curious how breathing worked for me since I could tell that I had two sets of lungs. I concentrated and realized that both of my diaphragms were somehow in sync with each other.
I wanted to see what I looked like in a mirror, but was reluctant to venture into the bathrooms. I did not want to get cornered there. I decided to go to the office so that I could be excused to go home. If anyone had an excuse, I did—triggering in front of half the school!
"Don't turn your back on me, Hebert!" Sophia exclaimed angrily.
I felt something strike her rump, but it did not hurt, so I ignored it. The Brute rating must be a permanent part of my powers. I continued walking. Sophia continued to strike me.
"Don't ignore me, Hebert!" she shouted repeatedly as she struck me.
I smirked as I kept walking. My smirk slipped however as I saw the stares from my schoolmates and teachers. The halls were empty, but people were gathered in the doorways. Sophia gave up before I reached the office.
Author's Note: Capes in Worm are given the following categories in-story: Mover (transportation), Shaker (affect a wide area), Brute (strong and tough), Breaker (affect themselves), Master (control others), Tinker (build physics-defying gear), Blaster (shoot things), Thinker (know things), Striker (affect others through touch), Changer (change their own shape), Trump (copy, steal, or nullify other powers), and Stranger (make themselves hard to find via disguise or stealth). The categories are designed based on strategies on how to counter them. Capes often fall into several categories.