Coal-based working: hazards

The Faerie Queen had told me I needed to anchor myself.  Except I’d been doing that for a long time.  It was how I functioned.  Compartmentalizing, identifying a priority, devoting myself to it.  Surviving the bullying, the mission to turn in the Undersiders, the mission to save Dinah, to turn the city around, to save the world.  I’d had tunnel vision at the best of times, and I’d had both successes and failures.

De-personalizatien: Worm

I was still aware of my body, but it felt piecemeal, now.  My fist was shaking, I had my head bowed, my teeth clenched so hard against one another it hurt.  My heart was pounding, my breath coming out in inconsistent huffs through my nose, pushing just a bit of mucus free.  My eyes were wet with tears, but I hadn’t blinked, causing them to build up on the surface of my eyeballs.

All of these things were normal, but I didn’t feel like they were all intuitive parts of a whole.  My concept of my body as a connected thing had shattered, the ties broken

When we were waiting for the fight to start, I went around, looking for people I needed to thank.  Important people to me, people who I wasn’t sure I’d get a chance to talk to again.  I missed a few important ones.  My dad… you two.  I know the only reason I got my shot at being a hero, the only reason I didn’t go to jail, was because you vouched for me, because you agreed to cart me back and forth and interrupt your schedule.  I probably didn’t even deserve it, but you backed me up.  I’m just… I’ve never been good at saying thank you and sounding as sincere as I feel.”

The fire-fighting mistake

I always knew there was something wrong, underneath it all, but there were bigger things to focus on.  You finish dealing with one Endbringer attack or a potential war with parahuman attacks on both sides, it demands all of your focus.  You’re left drained, dealing with the event or the aftermath, and then you need to recuperate, you have an organization to manage.  There’s never a moment where you can stop, take a deep breath, and then say, ‘now is the moment where I address that nagging doubt I had the other day’.  Now is the moment I call so-and-so out on that less-than-complete truth they used while we were elbow-deep in Indonesian cyborg super-soldiers.”

Worm

Don’t tell me you don’t see a romantic element to all of this.  You wouldn’t dress yourself up like a gallant knight if you didn’t.  Good and evil, man and woman, physical and magical.  But we share common experience.  I bet you’d find more parallels if you looked for it.”

Who’s Taylor Hebert?

I asked, “You’re saying this me isn’t the real me, that it’s a product of the crisis?”

“You? Hmm…” Mr. Calle paused.

“Her behavior after her arrest was remarkably in line with prior behavior,” Glenn commented. “Including the, as you describe it, poorly-timed murder of two very notable figures, after she was provoked. Essentially word for word what Miss Militia had put in her file.”

“Point conceded,” Mr. Calle said.

“I’m not sure that’s how I want to be defined,” I said.

“Take it for what it is,” Glenn said. “You’re very scary when angry. Perhaps… now is the time to be angry?”

“Being angry at Scion is like raging against a natural disaster,” I said. “It doesn’t understand. It doesn’t react. My screams are drowned out in the chaos.”

“You weren’t screaming when you attacked Alexandria,” Mr. Calle commented. “In fact, I remember you were very quiet.”

I nodded.

“If you’ve decided who you want to be,” Glenn said, “Accept all of it. The good, the bad, the ambiguous. Vulnerabilities and strengths. The anger, that’s part of it. The fear for people you care about, that’s a strength too. Doesn’t feel very good while you’re experiencing it, but it’s a well you can tap.”

“Right,” I said. I thought of Charlotte and the kids.

Fuck, I didn’t want to fail here, to let them lose what they were building.

“And with luck, knowing who you are means not having to waste time and effort on putting up a facade. Maybe that extra time and effort you have at your disposal will make the difference.”