AN: Thanks again to my beta Grey Raven 09 for his assistance!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Worm. If I did, I would be FAR more productive.
Please enjoy and let me know what you think in a review if you feel like it!
AN: And we come to the end of this fic. Wow, this has been a hell of a ride! I've had far more fun writing this than I ever expected and I'm ecstatic that everyone else has enjoyed it as well! There will be more stories taking place in this verse, primarily a ME semi-crossover sequel. I'll be taking a short break to focus on a few other items before circling back around to that one, but I expect that the preview chapter should be up shortly. Thanks again folks, and enjoy the conclusion to Mutant Deviations!
The portals I had Doormaker open up beneath all of my friends and most of our allies had deposited everyone into a meeting room in the Brockton Bay Protectorate. While it probably would've been nicer and more welcoming (and less jarring) to drop them in my home, my house did not have a room big enough for everyone. The Rig on the other hand, did have a wonderfully sized, large, meeting room!
After a moment's thought, I sighed and dropped my father into the room too. Then QA reformed her new body and we stepped through to the head of the table. Most of the people in the room were looking around at each other with varying levels of wariness. At least the villains were. My Outcasts were just grinning and finding chairs. Alexandria had her head in her hands and was groaning into the table. Legend looked torn between amusement and terror as he stared over my shoulder.
Oh right, Scion was following me like a lost puppy. Because of course he was.
Contessa had taken a seat next to Alexandria, rubbing circles on the hero's back while the Number Man was standing near them, his gaze entirely focused on QA, Scion, and me.
"Good afternoon, everyone. I apologize for dropping you here on short notice, but I would really rather prefer not to have to do this multiple times, so I figured this was easier."
Kaiser waved a hand towards me, turning the gesture into a sweep that covered the whole room. "Are you even trying to pretend that you don't run this city anymore Miss Queen?"
"No, not really. Not anymore." I sighed and took my own seat between Lisa and Madison, Legend across the table from me. Scion stayed hovering an inch off the ground behind me. I glared over my shoulder. "What did we talk about?"
"Being human. That means walking. Stop floating. Now."
He dropped to the ground, his head dropping to stare at the floor, lifting a moment later to meet my eyes. "Acceptable?"
"Yeah, that's better. Now - " I said, turning back to the room at large. Before I could say anything though, Hookwolf burst out laughing, holding his sides with one arm while his other pounded on the table in front of him and he doubled over.
"Oh god, holy crap, the bug girl can yell at SCION HIMSELF now! This is priceless! I love this city!"
I rubbed at my temples with two fingers, squeezing my eyes shut and counting to ten. Madison's hand dropped to my knee putting just enough pressure to remind me she was there. I dropped my hand to hers and clasped it, grinning softly.
"As I was saying, I wanted to get everyone together to let you all know at once what's going on." I was interrupted again as Simmy tapped on the glass of the large window to the side. Grumbling, I eyed her. She flashed me a thumbs up and several screens in the room lit up. Theresa's avatar was on one, several world leaders were on the others - including both the President of the United States and the Emperor of China. Whatever that position meant since he was apparently facing an insurrection now that the CUI didn't really have capes after Simmy was done with them…I should feel nervous that there were so many important people listening to me.
Instead I just felt…tired.
"Queen?" Legend prodded.
"Hebert," I said, shaking my head. "There's no point in hiding my name. Anyone who doesn't already know it is going to know it soon anyway. For those of you just joining us and who are unaware, my name is Taylor Hebert. I am the avatar of Queen Hub. This," I gestured to QA right behind me, "is Queen Hub Actual. She also goes by QH. You may hear some refer to her as QA - you don't have the right to do that, only we do. And here's how things are going to work from now on."
The meeting took almost two hours to explain my initial concerns about the state of things in the city and the world in general. Laying out my plan for everyone was…disturbing simple. I had expected far more pushback. So had Accord when I stopped by his place for a quick appointment before assembling everyone. (He hadn't needed to know that I manually adjusted his calendar to slot myself in.) Apparently, even government leaders could see the way the wind was blowing now.
Maybe we could actually start improving things. That was the dream after all, right?
By the time things were winding down, there were only a few questions left. Alexandria was the first to ask what I had been waiting for the entire time.
"Miss Hebert, what of Scion? Is he…staying? Assisting you?" Her left hand was clenched around a coffee mug, and the table under her right hand was indented slightly. It was impressive that her voice still came across so calm and level.
"No, he is not." I shook my head and hitched a thumb over my shoulder towards Scion. "He understands what he's done in the past was bad now. He…Well it's a work in progress really, but he's making good steps."
"So you're…tutoring him?" The Number Man asked, frowning.
I shook my head again. "No. He's going to be, let's call it: cleaning up problems. Problems that are a bit outside of my range. We can talk more once everyone else is gone."
The President leaned forward, his hands clasped. "Miss Hebert, are you implying that the world's first hero is now both under your control and that you are sending him away?"
I sighed and rubbed at my forehead again. "Trust me, you really don't want him hanging around. He'd make you a lot more nervous if you understood what he was and what he's done."
"Ma'am we don't understand what you are."
"Ah. Yeah that's…a good counter." I tapped the table trying to find the best way to respond. QA beat me to it. She laid a hand on my shoulder and met the President's gaze.
"Taylor and I are the future. We are separate, yet joined. We are the future and we are the guide. As we advised, we will be offering this to the majority of your species. Scion is of my ilk, but he is different all the same. He'll be working to prevent any incursions from occurring which would threaten this world. He'll still be your hero, you just won't be seeing him for a long time."
"He's helping in a different way now."
"Purpose: Protect. Save. Cease Spread. Convert," Scion helpfully supplied.
The Emperor glared at me, speaking in heavily accented English, "I still do not believe you will share your 'gifts' with my country. Your Endbringers were very thorough in their work. Why change now?"
I scowled as I glared right back at the man. "Simmy merely brought back the people you kidnapped to their homes. You will not be offered a place in the Network, because you are an asshole. Your people are not. I have no issues with your country's inhabitants. I have issues with you specifically and several others in your Cabinet."
Armsmaster coughed into his hand, and murmured, "That's not what advisors are called in the CUI."
"Besides," I continued, ignoring Armsmaster's correction, "this thing isn't going to happen overnight. We don't have enough shards for everyone right off the bat. Earth has a lot of people on it. And that's before you even start getting into the other realities. We'll get there, but it's going to be in phases. If you don't like it, you can get right the hell out."
"Where are we supposed to go? Another world, little girl?" the Emperor sneered.
Complete silence followed my matter-of-fact statement. I glanced at each screen, meeting the disparate leaders' eyes. Finally, my circuit finished, I nodded. "I will have further details for you later. For now, if you have major concerns over my plans to distribute tech, medicine, and food, please pass them to the Number Man and Accord. They will coordinate matters and respond back with appropriate comments. Anything that needs to be elevated to me personally, contact Simmy or Alexandria and they'll get a message to me. Thank you for your time."
The feeds cut off, Simmy flashed me another thumbs up through the window and flew off.
I laid my head down on the table, letting the air in my lungs out slowly. Madison's hand on my knee squeezed, Lisa's hand on my back ran soothing lengths up and down my spine. "I just wanted to graduate high school without killing my ex-best friend," I spoke into the table. "I never wanted to rule an entire fucking planet."
"Escalation seems to be what you excel at, child," Lung rumbled. I flipped him off without raising my head and he chuckled. "Am I to understand that Scion is Earth's…defense mechanism now? Has he been reprogrammed like with your EBs?"
"Please say yes, please say yes, please say yes," Alexandria muttered to herself on endless repeat. She was talking softly enough that without my enhanced senses I never would have heard her. It was almost amusing. What would definitely be amusing was when she heard my next statement.
"No." Yup, definitely funny. Alexandria drove holes into the table as the fingers of her right hand clenched and punched through the metal. "I showed him what it means to be human. I showed him emotions and creativity and progress. I showed him what creatures like him lack. He was highly interested."
"Purpose: Encourage bonds. Innovate. Improvise. Solution in Innovation. Purpose: Experience. Enjoy. Live."
Kaiser pointed to QA, saying, "And why is she different? Why did she understand what he did not if they are the same?"
"Because, my daughter achieved the impossible, completely by accident," my father said. He smiled and gestured to the two of us. "QH has been growing for months. You've seen it as well as I have. It's nice to see that you have a body now, dear, instead of just a collection of bugs."
QA snorted. "Wow, he's even a better father to me, than to you. You both have serious issues, Taylor."
"No shit," I snapped. "Changing the subject, Alexandria, you know as well as I do that there are more of these Space Whales out there."
The woman went totally motionless. It was ultimately Legend who responded instead. "Yes, we do. We had hoped that their arrival here was a one-in-a-million chance. If that is not so…"
"It's low odds, but they will probably be back at some point. They won't get very far, I'll be entrenched by then." A lot of eyebrows raised at that, but I ignored it. "I'm actually more concerned with the other races out there that they are preying on. They're an intergalactic, multiversal cancer as they currently exist. Scion has volunteered to help with that problem."
The Number Man's gaze locked onto Scion and he nodded almost imperceptibly. "He's going to be your interstellar missionary; or hitman if his targets don't conform to your new method of interaction with the other species."
"Yes." I inclined my head to the man and several people around the room gasped. "These things are a menace and they are killing countless other races. Scion is going to find his kin, spread the Path to searching for a Solution to the issue of eventual Heat Death, and he's going to explain why experiencing life in the meantime is worthwhile too. If they don't agree, he's going to kill them. They can't be left alive to roam free and continue destroying the multiverse."
"Purpose: Protect, Innovate, Convert, Safeguard."
Madison glanced over her shoulder towards Scion as he finished what amounted to a speech for him and shuddered. "That is extremely creepy how he does that. It's all like monotone and everything."
"Work in progress," I sighed. "At least he's not trying to kill me anymore."
"Can I touch him?" Amy asked leaning back and staring at the Golden Man's arm. "I've always wondered what biology I would see if I touched Scion…"
"You're not going to see anything, he's not like me or QA, that form is basically a fancy projection rather than a rebuilt human body. The two of us draw on Shaper and others to form a new body when we need it, he just extrudes a tiny piece of himself through a microtear. But sure, knock yourself out Amy. He doesn't really understand most of what we're discussing. The only reason he's even still on this planet is because I wanted to make sure that everyone got the message that they can't pray to Scion to save them from me if they start screwing with people."
Lady Photon frowned. "That's…pragmatic I suppose. However, it does strike me as unethical…"
"I would have said devious, but to each their own," Kaiser shrugged. "Miss Hebert, it's been enlightening as usual, but I sincerely hope we never have one of these little conferences again."
"Kaiser, I…you what? Fuck it. I'm tired. It's been a really long day. Go home, keep your people rebuilding. If there is a bare hint of another Nazi thing in my city I will squash you like a bug and throw you into the Sun. Understand?"
"I understand very well my precarious position, child. That's why I am endeavoring to play as nice as possible."
"Good. Talk to you never." I snapped my fingers and the two Empire members fell through a portal into Kaiser's office with a squawk of surprise. I smirked as the portals slammed shut. Turning to Lung I raised an eyebrow. "Anything from your side or do you want to go home too?"
He just grinned, holding a fist to his chest and inclining his head. "You have defeated many dragons today, Miss Hebert. I am but one. The ABB will disband, a new organization will take its place. Perhaps we can rebuild what was lost."
I nodded to him. "If any of your people want help moving back to Kyushu let me know." As he stood to walk back through the portal that I formed behind him, I called out, "Oh and Lung? I expect the family of every person your group has ever abused, kidnapped, or put to work to be taken care of. Within the next week. Every. One. If they are not, the same fate waits for you as it does Kaiser."
"A dragon does not bow, but a defeated dragon understands when the game is lost. I will contact healers of the body and mind. They will be restored and their families will receive recompense."
The portal slammed shut and I looked at Contessa. "You. Help him. Help both of them. I want my city cleaned up. They've been helpful so I can't justify doing anything against them at this point, but I want their bad shit fixed. The EBs are blunt instruments. You can be subtle. Be subtle."
"Consider it done," she replied. "How should I redeem myself?"
I sighed and rubbed my eyes. "Honestly, I don't think you have to. Give it a week and then come talk to me. We can revisit it then."
She nodded, stood and called for her Door. The Number Man followed behind her, leaving just the PRT and Protectorate folks behind. Well them and my team.
Ethan broke the silence first as he started chuckling and leaning back in his chair. "Damn, girl, you sure know how to make ultimatums. It's a good thing that you're not a villain cause you'd be a nightmare."
Jessie shuddered. "Don't even joke about that."
Dragon peered down from her digital screen with a slight frown. "Taylor, perhaps we can talk later? I'm interested in the cloning ability you mentioned. Specifically if it can be applied to…Other aspects."
I smiled up at her and nodded. "Talk to QA, we already have an idea of how to help improve things a bit. Oh, I forgot, did you want me to go and smack Saint around? We were supposed to do that after Echidna, but with the EBs…I forgot…"
Dragon's avatar blushed and she was quiet for a moment before sighing. "I thought you knew. Saint and another member of the Dragon Slayers were killed in that fight, Taylor. Both of them were struck by an attack shortly after arriving on the scene."
I frowned thinking back, I remembered their suits being knocked out of the sky and…"Oooh, yeah, I…hadn't realized that killed him. Huh, well…that sucks. Actually no, no that doesn't suck. Asshole tried to kill you just for having the audacity to be alive. Fuck him."
She just glowed in response.
Looking over at Legend I held out my hand towards him, "So, Mr. Director, still planning to stay on? I confess, I kinda like having a reasonable man at the helm of the city."
"I…we'll see." The small grin on his face was promise enough that I'd at least see him around, even if he decided to stay in New York full time.
"Miss Hebert," Alexandria said, her hand finally removing itself from the mess of a table as she folded her hands into her lap. "I would like to act as an ambassador. You were, exceedingly blunt, in this meeting. A more delicate hand can work wonders."
"You aren't exactly known for being delicate, Princess," Lisa said, smirking.
"Everyone else is adjusting to the new normal. I would like the opportunity to do the same. It would be…a step in the right direction for me."
I nodded. "Okay. Let me know if you need a specific team or something." She nodded once and then stepped away through her own portal.
Hannah glanced around the rest of the table, saying, "Am I the only one slightly concerned that the new teenage ruler of Earth apparently knew where we all were, and where this secret conference room was, and was courteous enough to drop us in our assigned seats?" The smirk and laughter in her voice was present even through the bandanna.
"Hahaha," I replied, rolling my eyes. "If you don't want me to use the secret squirrel room don't put a window in it that Simmy can see through."
"We'll take that into advisement," Colin grumbled.
Finally, I looked to my father who had been remarkably quiet for most of this event. "I'm still not happy with you treating Dinah like a daughter and ignoring me. But that is a personal matter. We can deal with it another time."
QA shrugged. "My father just tried to kill me and she forgave him. Stop being an idiot, have someone explain why you're being an idiot and maybe your next dinner together won't be so disastrous."
"I would like that." He stood, and bowed slightly to us. "I doubt I'll ever be a good father again, but perhaps we can work back to at least being a decent one."
"We'll see." I snapped my fingers again and he fell through a portal into his office, letting out a brief shout of surprise along the way. "That was far too satisfying." Standing, I cracked my neck and let out a breath. "Okay, I'm going home. I don't really need to sleep anymore, but I would like to. Any other immediately pressing matters?"
Legend coughed and looked pointedly behind me at Scion. Sighing, I turned and set my hands on my hips.
"You understand what you have to do?"
"Protect. Carry the new Path. Convert. Destroy to Safeguard."
I nodded. "And you can get from place to place and recharge without cracking planets?"
"Restriction to barren worlds for large gains. Alternative energy source for short gains and sustainment in transit."
"Okay." This was it, the moment of truth. I had a trained godling at my command and I was letting him go?
"Start your mission. If you come across something worrying or if you need to report or ask for any guidance, come back and we'll discuss before you go back out there. Hunt them down. Wipe out the old guard. Not a single one left."
"Purpose understood. No Entity shall remain unconverted." He paused, his head dropping and a small, barely noticeable shiver ran through him. "Queen Hub, Warrior expresses Thanks for elaborating Purpose. Warrior expresses Luck with Queen Hub's continued Innovation. Warrior Hopes Solution will be found. Warrior…Understands that Solution may be impossible. Warrior Accepts this, if Queen Hub continues to receive Enjoyment and Fulfillment."
I reached out, and grasped his arm. "We will Scion. If you get lonely and want to visit, feel free to come back, but you can't stay. I'm sorry, but you can't stay."
Scion smiled, for what might have been the first time since he had arrived on Earth. "Warrior understands. Warrior's past is deep. Yet, Warrior's memory is long. The Cycle is ended, the work continues. When Warrior's task is complete, Warrior will find its own world. Knowledge of bonds and the gains inherent will not be lost. Warrior expresses gratitude. Goodbye, [Queen Hub]."
Between one moment and the next, he was gone. I looked through my other senses and I felt the dead world he was on shatter as he launched himself into space. He was heading for the Entity we had named Abaddon first. That was only appropriate I supposed.
"I'm going home," I murmured, barely loud enough for anyone to hear. I stared at the spot that Scion had just vanished from. Lisa and Madison both stood to hold my hands, while Cassie laid her own on my shoulder.
Without another word, I portalled my people back to their original locations. Only Lisa, Madison, and Cassie were shifted to a new spot. Those three I took to our bedroom with me. As the portal closed, I pulled out of their grasp, wiping an arm across my eyes, trying to get rid of the moisture there.
"Damnit," I muttered. "I'm not supposed to feel bad that the evil Space Whale is gone."
"Taylor," Lisa murmured even as she guided me back to lie on the bed. "You went into the fight, fully intending to manipulate Scion into being your intergalactic hitman didn't you?"
I stayed silent. Madison curled up next to me, wrapping her arms around me and snuggling in as close as she could. Cassie claimed my other side.
"Lisa, lay off, she's exhausted. It's been a long day," Cassie said.
"Taylor, you shouldn't feel bad about what you did," Lisa said. She leaned over and ran a hand over my face, brushing my hair off of my closed eyes. "He destroyed god knows how many civilizations. Just because he feels a bit lonely now, that doesn't make you a bad person."
"It was him or me," I whispered.
Madison lifted her head and kissed my cheek. "You came home. That's what matters. I'm glad you won, Taylor."
"That's not what she means, Madison," Cassie sighed.
"Oh, Taylor," Lisa said. She laid down on the bed too, behind Madison. It really was a good thing that we had gotten a larger one. I'd probably need to get an even bigger one soon. "Taylor, you can't save the universe."
"I have the power to now. I could never just let them exist without hunting them down. Not now, not anymore. But…if he does it…Then I can stay here…with my friends…with my family."
All three of them squeezed me tight.
"We'll always be here for you, Taylor. Us, the Outcasts, New Wave, our friends. That's what family is for."
"I know. I love you guys," I said, my voice soft and choked with emotion.
"We love you too, Taylor."
Fanfic Rec: 'The Rising of the Shield Heroine' by Tale Swapper. On SV. This is a fun fic that is a fusion between The Gamer and The Rising of the Shield Hero. While in the locker, just before she triggers, Taylor attracts the attention of Naofumi. Taylor, choosing the Shield as her weapon, then proceeds to watch as QA, about to trigger her is co-opted by the Shield as well. Later on, Taylor is trying to level up and work out how her Shield and skills works and finds out about the Halp function. Which is literally an altered QA remade into a sort of inner sister to act as a go-between of the powers of the cosmere and Taylor's Shield. And she would prefer not to die when Taylor gets strong enough. This is a fun fic with a unique take on the Gamer powers since it's revolved almost solely on the Shield and Taylor explicitly does not have Gamer's Mind at the start which is a plot point. It's still in progress, but seems to update fairly slowly.