A/N: This is a timeskip to the start of Worm canon, and a Cauldron Interlude. I free wrote this a while ago on the Questionable Questing dot com thread for this story, figured as a small Christmas Present I'd post it here. Fair warning, it is not edited so it may be rife with errors, I dunno. (No one complained on QQ lol.)

"He's coming -here?- To the states? Hell No!"

That was Alexandria and she punctuated the statement by smacking her palms down on the meeting table just hard enough to leave handprints. Even angry, she was in control. Except right now. She could see on Eidolon's face that he wanted to agree with her, but he stayed silent. Meanwhile Dr. Mother and Contessa stared at her impassively. It was the Doctor who responded.

"We cannot stop him, and as you know he plays a very important role in Canada. While we have no idea why he's choosing now to travel south of the border to Brockton Bay of all places, we do know this is not an invasion. Our reports say he is coming practically alone, with only Canadia by his side in her civilian identity. Every thinker is in agreement, this is more a vacation for him than anything."

Alexandria sneers at that. "He doesn't need an army to invade, as we all know too well. He took control of Canada and held that control for years before we even realized something was off about just how well the northern country was doing. While Brockton Bay is not the ideal starting point, he could easily take the United States the same way."

"We would not let him do so, of course. He would be dealt with long before that came to pass."

A half-scoff, half-laugh escaped Alexandria's lips. "How? We can't kill him as you've told me time and time again. He's too important to the damn Path. Because a few thousand steps less is worth the continued serial rape and mastering of a country."

Eidolon finally spoke up at that. "Alexandria, you were there when we voted on his life. You voted with us to make it unanimous. You agreed on his importance. Have you changed your mind? Because if so, I'll gladly go and kill him myself, Path be damned."

In the face of that camaraderie, in the face of her friend's loyalty, Alexandria deflates and settles back into her chair, only then even realizing she'd stood up in her anger in the first place.

"No. I stand by the decision made at that time. He is valuable, I can see that from a rational viewpoint. Its the emotional side that wants to tear him limb from limb for the sake of his victims. But then we don't know what they would do, how they would react if he died, do we? The best we get from thinkers is a sense of "Very Bad". Which is why we shouldn't let him leave Canada in the first place!

The others around the table are silent, letting the Heroine have a chance to explain.

"Well, isn't it obvious? He's safe up there. In control of everything from their hero teams to their villains alike. He's even in control of Dragon, horrifying as that fact makes me feel when I consider the Birdcage we let her build and are forced to let her continue to run for appearance's sake. But in Brockton Bay? He could die in the blink of an eye to a number of very real threats. There's a reason we've written that city off and let Coil of all people use it to experiment with our parahuman feudalism concept."

Alexandria shakes her head and continues, gratified to see furrowed brows on Dr. Mother and Eidolon at least, though Contessa is as inscrutable as ever.

"We can't risk him dying in that city, no more than we can risk any of ourselves unduly. The difference is, we're nearly unkillable and he is merely human, albeit enhanced with unknown means by a number of parahumans under his control in ways we know nothing about as of yet. But still, he took a bullet to the arm just last month while "defusing" a cape fight, and while he had a healer friend right there to deal with it, he won't in Brockton Bay."

Eidolon opened his mouth to speak, and Alexandria hoped it was in her favor, but Contessa cut him off before he could say a word.

"The Manipulator must go to Brockton Bay. He knows the story, he has the chapters. He will know how best to use the characters when the time comes. The Manipulator -must- go to Brockton Bay."

Alexandria could only grimace as that ended the discussion. Contessa had changed over the last decade. The Path, or something connected to it, had changed her. Alexandria feared for her friend. She feared for the human race. But the Path was all they had at this point. To save the human race, Alexandria would follow it where ever it led her. Into the jaws of hell itself if necessary.

With one last shake of her head, she slowly unclenched her fists as everyone else vacated the room. Then, she spun on her heel and walked towards the wall behind her, tossing out a casual "Door." and walking through the portal that was suddenly there without a moment of hesitation. One could not hesitate, one could not falter, when one held the fate of the world up on their shoulders.


Contessa let a slow smile grow into a sinister grin as she walked down a long hallway away from the Meeting Room. Those imbeciles continued to eat up her every word. The Manipulator. Contessa held back a snort for fear that it would turn into uncontrollable laughter as she remembered the looks on their faces as she 'intoned' her oh so important Path.

Complete lies of course, all of it. Her face morphed into more of a joyful smile as she stepped through a portal that opened without command. Walking into her Master's parlor, she couldn't help putting a little sway in her hips and her steps as she walked the length of the room to where he sat, enjoying a brandy.

Falling to her knees before him, she got comfortable even as her hands came up to stroke his half-hard cock. "They ate it up Master. Cauldron will not interfer with your trip to Brockton Bay. They wouldn't dare go against their precious Path."

Her Master smiled down at her, and Fortuna grew wet instantly, flushing red under his gaze she ducked her head so her fedora would cover her suddenly bright red face, even as she brought her lips down on the head of his cock and sucked him into her mouth eagerly.

"That's a good girl Fortuna. A very good girl."

She basked in his attention even as she gave his length her undivided attention. This right here was her place. This was where she was meant to be. After all, the Path (the real one, not the fake one she'd fed to Cauldron at times over the years) had led her here, to him. Her Master was the key to saving the human race. What was a little thing like her Free Will in the face of that?


Eidolon let out a low sigh and once he was fully out of sight, ensconced in his room, he let his posture drop and slouched down. It was hard keeping up appearances as the Master wanted. Eidolon wasn't the kind of man he'd pretended to be for so long, not anymore. Finding out that the Endbringers were coming from him, that he was the cause because he'd "Needed Worthy Opponents"...

It had broken him. He'd welcomed the death of old Eidolon with open arms after that. Dropped his anti-master powers on the spot and welcomed his Master's control, much to the man and Contessa's approval. And that was all that had mattered in the years since. His master's approval meant more than anything to him.

Because of that desire to make the Master happy, there hadn't been an Endbringer attack in years. The creatures were still there, but they slumbered. No one knew why, except for Eidolon. It was because he no longer needed worthy opponents. All he needed was his Master's approval.

Eidolon was glad Contessa had spoken up in the meeting when she did. He was afraid Alexandria would sway Doctor Mother. Given he was supposed to be on the heroine's side in the false persona he put on for show, he hadn't been sure WHAT he was going to say to try to convince Alexandria that the Master needed to go on this vacation. Perhaps Contessa had sensed that and thats why she'd spoken up when she did.

Either way, it was taken care of. The Master would have his vacation and do whatever he pleased in Brockton Bay. It was not for Eidolon to question or wonder what his Master wanted with the coastal city. Eidolon's purpose was to obey. That was the primary reason he hadn't committed suicide yet after all. He'd been forbade that sweet release, and told that regardless of his weakening powers and the death count from the Endbringers that could be laid at his feet, he still had -value.-

He would be needed in the fight against Scion, and he was ready to be used in that fight, however his Master saw fit. Eidolon may be unable to give his Master pleasure in the physical ways he sometimes yearned to do, thanks to the man's orientation and preferences... But he still had value. He would remember that and seek to please the Master in all other ways he possibly could.

A/N: There it is. Below I'm going to copy/paste the explanation for how this all worked that I also originally wrote on Questionable Questing dot com. Hope it satisfies anyone. I'll also be posting another slice of life snippet tomorrow involving the SI and a certain powerful character.

Explanation for the above:

Alright so I wrote all of that in bed at 4 am this morning. I did have reasoning figured out though for how it happened. Feel free to critique that below.

Contessa: A very young and more naive Contessa tries to run a Path that defeats Scion. She comes up with an error message. So she tries to run a Path that keeps the majority of the Human race alive through the next century. She comes with partial error messages. "Majority isn't possible" her Path says. "You can keep -this- many alive -maybe- and no more."

Contessa and Cauldron keep trucking on with the Path that keeps some of humanity alive. The SI arrives and starts doing his thing. Down the line a few years, a still young and still slightly naive Contessa is left sickened by what she has to do in the name of this pyrrchic victory of a Path. So on a whim she runs the very optimistic "how to save the majority of humanity with as little loss of life as possible"

Its mostly just to make herself feel better. If the above doesn't work, she's assauged her guilt and can move on. As part of that, she doesn't both including protecting herself in the Path. After all, she needs to show herself she'll give anything to accomplish her goals. But then the Path comes back to her with an -answer- with actual -steps-

She reads it of course, I don't subscribe to the theory that Contessa blindly follows her path. Three steps in she already knows she's getting mastered. That nearly turns her off entirely, but this is the first time the Path has given her this answer so she keeps reading what she can of the steps ahead. In the end, she initiates the path and steps through a suddenly open portal into the SI's home, whatever that is at the time.

He's alone of course but promptly freaks out at seeing Contessa and the Portal and he hits her with a truckload of loyalty and submission out of pure reflex and fear for his life. From there the rest is history.

Eidolon: Eidolon is simpler actually. How do you master the most powerful cape in the world? It helps if you control his guiding light first. Then, you wait till a particularly nasty Endbringer attack claims some of his friends. Once that's happened, you have Contessa drop the news that she's "just" found out.

As Eidolon despairs, as he grows suicidal and leaves himself open and defenseless, thats when you strike and give him -purpose- again.

So yeah like I said these were the theories I came up with while writing this shit in bed at 4 am on my android. Now that Im awake (but still typing from my android lol) I feel I stand by them still, at least mostly. I know in canon Contessa has been reduced to a memic plot device. I like to think there was a point she wasn't yet at that stage and could still make emotional and altogether human errors.

But feel free to poke holes in this so I can try to find ways to shore it up and make it stronger.