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Worm: The best supervillain web serial that you aren't not reading yet.

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Wolfwood2

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I like to think of it as, "The continuing saga of Purity's babysitter."

Night and Fog are seriously, seriously fucked up in the head. Someone has done some major messing with them, to the point they don't even seem to know how to be human anymore.

There's something that sort of got to me, though. This update makes it crystal clear that superpowers are some of the most heavily studied things on Earth. Multiple papers and theories exist on trigger events. Governments invest enormous resources in trying to create trigger events. So answer me this... how the fuck does Cauldron remain a secret? It seems to be like, an entire industry pumping out hundreds (thousands?) of superpowered beings a year.

I know secret IDs are a thing, but the heroes who work for the government all have to reveal their identities to it at least. You would think, "Tell us about your trigger event so we can study them," would be a mandatory question. Not to mention that a simple background analysis of the government heroes would reveal, "Hey, there seems to be an unusual amount of people with lots of money who have superpowers. Does money make you more likely to have superpowers?"

Not to mention that they have to advertise to some extent. Haven't governments sent in undercover agents to answer the ads?

Not to mention that with all these people, someone is going to talk. If not while they're alive, then post-mortem by leaving letters "to be opened after my death" or something.

I mean, I was sort of willing to let it go because Cauldron probably has pre-cogs and Thinkers and such on its side to help stay secret. But can they really match the resources that major nation states are pouring into investigating superpowers? It feels funny to say that after everything else, this is what breaks my suspension of disbelief, but it kind of does.
 

Wildbow

Retired User
What if Cauldron wasn't trying to stay entirely secret from governments, and was merely attempting to conceal its location, so that no government could raid it and seize any assets/formulae?
 

Wolfwood2

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What if Cauldron wasn't trying to stay entirely secret from governments, and was merely attempting to conceal its location, so that no government could raid it and seize any assets/formulae?
That does make more sense!

Their greatest vulnerability there is probably the money trail. If they're accepting payments from all these people then they must be moving money around, and that's something that can't be easily hidden away in another dimension. Especially if they are actually spending this money on lab equipment and supplies. No doubt the Numbers Man is playing a pretty good defense, but it's a situation where he has to win every time.
 

Truthseeker

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With Doormaker in the game, there's nothing to say that their money trail isn't scattered across several parallel dimensions. Cauldron being the only reliable source of parahumans amounts to an absolutely incalculable advantage in flexibility for Shenannigans.
 

Wolfwood2

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With Doormaker in the game, there's nothing to say that their money trail isn't scattered across several parallel dimensions. Cauldron being the only reliable source of parahumans amounts to an absolutely incalculable advantage in flexibility for Shenannigans.
I don't even know how you would do that. It's not like you can go to the bank and change one dimension's currency into another dimension's currency. I guess there's always using one dimension's money to buy stuff, sell it in another dimension, and so on... but that's a lot of trouble and gets away from their core mission.
 

dreamfarer

Man of Two Worlds
RPGnet Member
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I don't even know how you would do that. It's not like you can go to the bank and change one dimension's currency into another dimension's currency. I guess there's always using one dimension's money to buy stuff, sell it in another dimension, and so on... but that's a lot of trouble and gets away from their core mission.
I'm unclear on how "following the money trail" would lead you to the actual location of a group that uses teleportation and portals for all of the interaction with the outside world?

For example, you know that I do business with any of 1,000 different banks around the world, never the same location twice in any repeating pattern. You can potentially find my accounts, but again, I have so many that if I lose a few I don't really care.

Absolute worse case, if you do happen to apprehend me...what exactly do you do? There aren't any friendly telepaths around that can read my mind, so finding my base through super powers isn't an option (at least not that way). Take me in for questioning? At which point several of my superhuman henchmen will break me out of more-or-less any holding facility you have. Including the Bird Cage potentially.

Kill me? Does that seem wise? Given that I have an unknown number of super humans at my disposal with an unknown array of superpowers. Can you really even be sure I'm meaningful at all and not simply yet-another-pawn of the organization?

For that matter, as a government, what goal would you like to try pursuing against me? The smart one seems to be "avoid pissing off Cauldron and encourage them to send more of the sane supers they create to live in your country". Do we have any reason to think that's not what's happening?
 

Wolfwood2

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I'm unclear on how "following the money trail" would lead you to the actual location of a group that uses teleportation and portals for all of the interaction with the outside world?

For example, you know that I do business with any of 1,000 different banks around the world, never the same location twice in any repeating pattern. You can potentially find my accounts, but again, I have so many that if I lose a few I don't really care.
Well you're clearly spending the money on something. Otherwise why do you even have it? So I guess when I freeze your accounts, that'll encourage you to negotiate for their return. Or put a hold on whatever you bought with the money.

I mean, look, I guess they could interact with the world only through teleportation and portals, but if they're interacting with the world only through teleportation and portals, why do they need money? Why are they charging people for their services? Presumably they do buy property and equipment and recruit people who want to be paid money that they can go home and spend, not be exiled in another dimension forever. And since they want to use money to interact with the world, that's where pressure can be applied.


For that matter, as a government, what goal would you like to try pursuing against me? The smart one seems to be "avoid pissing off Cauldron and encourage them to send more of the sane supers they create to live in your country". Do we have any reason to think that's not what's happening?
The goal would be to force you to give up your "make super-people" formulas by any means necessary. And frankly the harder you fight to avoid doing that, the more suspicious you look. Because at that point it's obvious your goal isn't simple scientific research (which you could have all the DARPA funding you want for) it's some supervillainish scheme for world domination or some shit like that.

So no, I don't think "assume a submissive posture and hope Cauldron's plans don't fuck over the world" is a smart approach. I'm not saying you want to start a superpowered firefight, but it's definitely time for some Cold War spy-versus-spy shit where governemnts take every opportunity to infiltrate and monitor while searching for a way to control.
 

Winston Smith

New member
Banned
This interlude was awesome. Really good job on writing with Justin / Crusader's voice, Wildbow, especially considering how different it is from our normal POV into the Wormverse. Also, tons of intriguing tidbits here and Night and Fog are awesomely dysfunctional.
 

Istera

Retired User
A pre-crafted cover story, including a fabricated 'trigger-event', could be part of the Cauldron pacakage. Also don't forget that Cauldron have thousands of Parahumans, including the world's most powerful, running interference for them (which they are willing to use quite ruthessly). And finally, Cauldron may have access to one or more parahuman with powers affecting memory and / reasoning (sort of like the Man in Black flashing-light thingy in power-form).
 
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Wolfwood2

Registered User
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A pre-crafted cover story, including a fabricated 'trigger-event', could be part of the Cauldron pacakage. Also don't forget that Cauldron have thousands of Parahumans, including the world's most powerful, running interference for them (which they are willing to use quite ruthessly). And finally, Cauldron may have access to one or more parahuman with powers affecting memory and / reasoning (sort of like the Man in Black flashing-light thingy in power-form).
Yes, it's a pretty impressive list. On the other side you have unlimited resources (at least from Cauldron's point of view), legal and moral authority to compel cooperation (perhaps even from parahumans 'belonging' to Cauldron), institutional experience in espionage, the ability to collect and analyze staggeringly vast quantities of information, and of course literal armies.

Sure Cauldron's advantages are great enough that they can play the game, but it's an incredibly dangerous game to be playing. They're a rogue power who have super-WMDs, and that means that the people who run the world aren't going to rest until there's some kind of leash on Cauldron. That's a lot of pressure, no matter how big your ego.
 
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