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The Echidna (pronounced “eh-kid-nah”), formerly known as Noelle Meinhardt, is a powerful being, described as potentially being a nascent Endbringer. Her intense hatred of the Undersiders directed her to focus primarily on killing the team. She is amazingly destructive, powerful, and hard to stop. She qualifies as a Class-S threat, a category that includes the likes of the Endbringers.
Echidna's emotional state is incredibly volatile, heavily influenced by her power and mental issues. She has an adversarial relationship with her body, with her body constantly seeking highly destructive and aggressive combat. While Echidna disliked the prospect of killing, her body had a mind of its own, trying to subvert her by twisting her perceptions of other people and instilling a killer instinct within her that was difficult to suppress. When she gave in to her "other half," she would experience visions, usually from her memories, while her body took over and rampaged of its own accord until the vision ended. Echidna worried that her body would completely subsume her, leaving her as a passenger in her own body. Later, however, she became more in sync with her body, sympathizing with its anger and viewing the world in a more detached manner.
She had an intense hatred of the Undersiders for killing Coil, who she perceived as being her only hope to go home and become normal again. This hatred was exacerbated by her body's killer instinct, which led to Echidna developing homicidal feelings toward the Undersiders.
Echidna's body changes with the amount and type of tissue that she consumes. From her pelvis up, Echidna appears exactly as she originally had as Noelle. Underneath is a mass of flesh from which animal heads, limbs and other assorted body parts protrude. The tissues of her lower half are split between smooth dark green, brown and gray flesh and angry, wrinkled and blistered red flesh. Prior to her internment in Coil's base, the limbs of her lower half included forelegs ending in a cross between claw and hoof, a set of tentacles (with assorted exoskeletons) that were able to support her weight, and a gigantic arm and hand with another limb sprouting from the palm. Lower-body heads included a horse-sized half-bovine and half-canine head and a half-sprouted head. These features would further develop and change before the combined hero and villain forces fought her.
She could shift her body like fluid, pushing it through rubble and dissolving her own bones when necessary.
Echidna consumes tissue and 'evolves' body parts, varying from wolf-like heads to legs. When touched she will vomit a clone of whoever is touching her - with all the powers they may have - that are stronger, violent, and impossible to control. If she maintains contact with the original, she can continuously produce clones. Clones, along with vomit, are her only excretion; she eats only meat and it adds directly to her mass. This ability is a Master/Trump effect where she creates clones that possess modified or even stronger versions of the original's powers.
Tattletale considers Echidna to be as strong as Leviathan, who is classified as a Brute 9 to Echidna's Brute 8, but is not as durable and is able to move quite fast despite her size. While seemingly indestructible due to her quick regeneration, she in fact can be killed. Anything cut away from the core of her body will deteriorate and die, while anything left attached to the core will quickly regenerate. This includes her human body that is regrown if cut away and heals if severely damaged. If Echidna's core is destroyed, the rest of her is destroyed as well.
Anyone she touches is absorbed and, if a parahuman, has their powers suppressed,some parahumans take extra punishment before they succumb. The ingested experience vivid hallucinations based on the worst moments of their lives.
Her clones are usually physically tougher than the original, resistant to pain and injury, although this effect seemed to grow weaker as she produced increasing numbers of clones. They vary based on how long she spent creating them - clones that are produced too rapidly are fragile, half-formed and missing body parts, while clones that are held inside too long are heavily mutated to the point of having difficulty moving. Even the most human-looking clones are visibly different from the original.
Echidna can also create hostile versions of rats, insects, spiders, and other organisms that she absorbs, and can mutate fungi and bacteria into a form that temporarily debilitates anyone she captures.
She has also developed an extremely unstable temperament as a direct result of her power. Her displacement from Earth Aleph and Simurgh's tampering also contributes to her unstable state.
It is likely that her power was affected by the fact that Echidna was administered only half of a dose of a power elixir; her unstable temperament and monstrous lower body were probably not in the intended spectrum of effects. Oliver, who drank the other half of the dose, may have received the portion of the power intended to moderate and control these effects.
Echidna has a thinker power that interprets people's power through "taste" or "smell" It seems that this serves as a weak tracking aid, but serves primarily to identify the powers parahumans have in order to facilitate the planned creation of clones. This helps tracking down targets.
"I won't spoil the conclusion if you're eager to see this through."
This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS relating to
some of the most pivotal parts of Worm. Although all articles contain spoilers, this article will reveal major plot twists and should almost certainly be avoided unless you have finished the story.
Noelle and the rest of her group found and drank several Cauldron vials that they found in a briefcase, granting each of them powers. However, Noelle and Oliver split one of the vials, each of them drinking half. As a result, they received what are believed to be two halves of the same power - Oliver's appearance gradually adjusts to the local standard of attractiveness, and Noelle became the monster known as Echidna. A common theory is that by splitting the vial, the intended power was broken into two parts, leading to a weaker stabilizing power and an incredibly unstable power.
Echidna was the main cause of the Travelers' nomadic lifestyle, due to her occasional rage states that resulted in dozens of deaths. They arrived in Brockton Bay after fleeing from Boston, enticed by Coil's promises of a way to cure Noelle. Noelle was kept in a secure room underground, far away from other people, but could communicate via a microphone and loudspeaker installed in her room.
She later escaped after finding out that the Undersiders had killed Coil. Coil had broadcasted his last moments to Echidna's cell, dashing her hopes of being cured of her condition. This resulted in her going into a rage and culminated into the Battle against Echidna.
During her rampage, Echidna was finally killed by her former friend Sundancer, who incinerated her and several capes still trapped inside of Echidna at the time.
"Echidna" is the codename used for Noelle. A PRT member suggested the name because he had a daughter named Noelle and didn't want to associate the name with the monstrous equivalent. It is implied that this PRT member is the Earth Bet version of Noelle's father, as they share the last name Meinhardt.
Echidna's most notable "human connection" is with Trickster. He is the Traveler most able to control her, while simultaneously being the main reason the Travelers have not abandoned Noelle.
↑“An unknown. Possibly a fourth Endbringer, not yet fully grown. I’d like to get in contact with PRT thinkers to verify.” - Excerpt from Queen 18.4
↑Her other half hated him, and she was realizing just how much her monstrous body had been influencing her without her knowledge, now that her emotions were all pointed at this one individual, this one target. It left her feelings towards everyone else at an almost normal level. Her feelings for Krouse, her hatred of the Undersiders, her anger at Coil, each had been twisted, magnified, warped. - Excerpt from Interlude 18
↑Noelle couldn’t bring herself to reply. She wanted to say she was sorry too, that his apology was unnecessary, but a kind of indignant rage was rising deep within her, threatening to overwhelm her. All of it was directed at Eidolon.
And in the midst of that rage, she felt a killing instinct she hadn’t experienced before. Even coming this far, she’d never wanted to kill. She’d wanted the Undersiders dead, yes, she’d tried to kill people, but a part of her had always held back from wanting to kill, from wishing to carry out the act of murder herself.
To execute this man who sought to end her existence.
↑She ran. The simple act of moving flooded her body with endorphins and adrenaline. It felt good, made her feel strong. That was another avenue of attack, as her body tried to work its manipulations on her mind. The hunger, the heightened emotions, rewarding her with pleasant memories and good feelings when she operated in sync with it.
It was a matter of weeks, days or hours before she lost enough ground that she was the one trying to manipulate her body into doing what she wanted, with it calling all the shots. If the process continued, she would eventually be subsumed entirely, unable to do anything but observe, and maybe not even that. - Excerpt from Interlude 18
↑Her vision from before lingered. The entity. The thing that was taking her over, that had made her a monster, it had an identity, now. She wouldn’t say it had a face, but it was no longer a vague malevolent force, now.
Part of her felt sympathetic for it, because this thing that shared her body had been wronged by some nebulous circumstance. In that, at least, they were kindred.
Another part of her was just bewildered. The memory it had shared with her was so vast, it changed everything, had left her feeling like her problems here were so small, so miniscule. Even this, this fight, her revenge, in a way it felt artificial, false.
It’s not my world, she thought. It’s almost like a game. Killing characters in some false, barbaric setting. - Excerpt from Interlude 18
↑Surfacing from her dream, she’d temporarily supplanted the killer instinct that was demanding Eidolon’s head. Now that she was closer, her thoughts were afire with thoughts of revenge, and that killer instinct was welling up again. The idea that she’d maybe had the chance to get back to normal, that her friends had maybe been close to going home, and the Undersiders had taken all that away, it made her want to scream. To inflict punishments worse than death on them. - Excerpt from Interlude 18
↑Noelle was perched on the ruined bed. Her fingers were clutching a sweatshirt, with no shirt beneath. Still the Noelle he’d always known.
From the waist up.
Around where her pelvis should have been, she’d changed. The mass of tissue left her tall enough that she had to hunch over to avoid hitting her head on the ceiling, and she was lying down. Half of it was angry, red, wrinkled or blistered. The other half was smooth tissue, dark greens, dark brown and pale grays. The head of an animal, half-bovine and half-canine, extended from the front, large as a horse from the back of its skull to the tip of its flaring nostrils. Another head was in progress, emerging just to the left. Two forelegs extended to either side of the heads, rippling with powerful muscle, ending in something that fell between claw and hoof, massive and easily capable of tearing through steel.
There were the fingers and thumb of a hand, extending from her right hindquarters, each digit thicker around than Krouse was, with another, smaller limb extending from the palm. Her rear left hindquarters featured only a mess of tentacles, some bearing partial exoskeleton, some long enough that they had to encircle the massive head and numerous limbs, or wind in a wreath around her as she lay down, lest their coiled mass fill the master bedroom of the house and leave Krouse nowhere to sit. Despite the apparent lack of bones, the tentacles were capable of supporting her weight.
She didn’t expel waste. She only grew, or she reinforced what had already grown. - Excerpt from Migration 17.8
↑In her restlessness, unable to shake the idea that her sanity was slipping away moment by moment, she pushed her way through the last length of the rubble, absorbing it into herself and spitting it out behind her, moving through it as though she were a thick fluid; even her bones dissolved when needed. The only thing that slowed her down were the capes she’d stored within herself. Each of the three Undersiders, the tinker, and the girl in white. She used her strength to wedge gaps sufficient to squeeze the individual organs through. - Excerpt from Interlude 18
↑Some of the time, the powers would be different. Most of the time, going by precedent, they were stronger. Trickster was left to wonder how Perdition’s powers had changed. Duration? Range? The amount of time reversed? - Migration 17.8
↑ “She’s as strong as Leviathan, physically,” Tattletale said, “She’s not as tough, based on what I’ve seen. - Queen 18.3
↑"The following information has been disseminated, and remains unconfirmed. Echidna is in a rage state. The monster is in control, not the girl. Seventeen capes are currently within her. Her rate of regeneration and production of clones is derived from a central core within her lower body that produces an endless quantity of biological material. A body part severed from the core will die. Destroying the core in entirety will destroy her…"
↑Noelle tagged several of the bodies in her internal stomachs, felt flesh constrict tight against them, felt the pre-prepared nuggets of flesh in her gullet forming into close replicas in an instant. Timing was crucial; if she spat them out too soon, they’d be malformed, missing limbs or features. Too late, and there was extra material. - Excerpt from Interlude 18
↑With that thought, it dawned on me. Noelle absorbed living things, and that apparently extended to bacteria. Where others had bacteria in their digestive systems to help them digest food, Noelle, Echidna, had no need for such. When she absorbed the ambient bacteria and molds from her surroundings, she was storing them, weaponizing them like she did with rats and insects. They were used to debilitate her victims, render them unable to fight back while her clones got the upper hand. - Excerpt from Scourge 19.1
Not that it was really a smell… but she was peculiarly aware of the people with powers, active or otherwise. Each had a texture and a tone and a flavor, something she felt like she could come to understand. She might have said it was taste, might have compared it to when she’d tried wine that one time and tried to see what the wine aficionados looked for when they sampled a vintage. Except the word ‘smell’ worked better, because smell and taste were really very similar and smell worked over distances.
There was a difference in Skitter, Grue’s and Eidolon’s smells, along with a handful of the other visiting capes. A smell that set them apart from the other parahumans in the same way that the other parahumans were set apart from the people who could have powers but didn’t. An intensity. - Excerpt from Interlude 18
↑We stopped when we reached Tattletale. She stood facing the vault door. The one that was used to seal Noelle within.
There were two vault doors, one set behind the other, and both were ruined, the one closest to us nearly folded in half, hanging by one hinge.
“A final act of spite,” Tattletale said. She looked at the phone in her hand. “He made sure she heard our conversation.” - Excerpt from Monarch 16.13