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Interlude 26

Illustration by Seathing on Imgur

Date posted 10 August 2013
Link Interlude 26
Chapter guide
Interlude 26b
Extinction 27.1
Chapter List

26.x (Interlude, …)‏ is the tenth chapter of Sting and the third interlude. Trapped by Gray Boy, Scion reminisces. Arrival, meeting Kevin Norton, assisting humanity, speaking that one time, reflecting on his nature. Listening to Jack, while everyone else scrambles putting the pieces together, Zion decides. Boom.


The events of the last chapter seen from Scion's perspective:

Scion reviews his memories, recounting the events that led to the first of 'his' ancestors to leave their home planet. Back then the entities were feral and suffering from severe overpopulation, expanding over every accessible alternate world and consuming every scrap of food and energy before turning on each other for those scraps. They realized that if they continued to repeat this pattern they would eventually consume everything and drive themselves to permanent extinction.

None of these proto-entities could come up with a solution to this problem, so they repeated their expansion over and over. Each attempt to access more worlds meant that the number of entities would grow exponentially, forcing them to expand again sooner than the last time. Eventually, one came up with a proposal: expand into space, connect to other species and gather their knowledge in order to learn how to figure out their problems. Thus began the cycle that defines Scion's life.

The proto-entities gathered together, feasting on each other until only one remained. It absorbed as much energy as it could from every variation of the homeworld before releasing it in a single massive explosion that launched the ancestor into space, with the side effect of blowing up every variant of the world. The entities get shattered into fragments which land on various worlds, connecting to other species and granting powers so that the entities can learn how others would use their abilities.

Over time, the entities become very good at this. They've learned much from the various host species they've encountered over the course of thousands of cycles. They learn technologies, new ways of thinking, evolved new and more refined abilities to be used.

The specific lineage that led to Scion and his counterpart decided that pairing up was more effective than going at it solo, with each half of the pair specializing into different roles. Scion is the Warrior Entity, the one that fights and wins whenever the two are threatened. The counterpart is the Scholar, the one that focuses more on deciding what to do next, what plans to enact and what details need fine tuning in a given cycle.

Approaching the modern day, the duo is searching the cosmos for the next host species and detects Earth. Seeing that humans will make suitable hosts for their shards, the two set course and beginning planning how exactly they'll go about this cycle.

Normally this step would largely fall under the counterpart's jurisdiction, but something unusual has happened: The Scholar is distracted by a transmission from a third entity, one that's trekked a different evolutionary path than the one that led to Scion and his counterpart. The Scholar and the third entity agree upon an exchange and alter their courses slightly, colliding with each other in order to exchange shards which store lessons that the other hasn't learned.

The third entity departs after this exchange, happy with the knowledge it has gained. As the Scholar is now busy digesting its new information, Scion steps up to fill in for its role in the planning stage. He spends a long time splitting off pieces of himself and aiming them at different points in space and time so that they'll connect to various hosts and grant powers.

Details about where certain trends in powers come from emerge; The Manton effect is an artificial limitation put into place so that the granted powers don't accidentally kill their hosts, precognition is restricted against shards and entities to prevent them from being used against either Warrior or Scholar, trigger events happen at moments of intense stress because shards are looking to test their powers out in conflict. Much light is brought to the dark secrets of the story. A familiar person's trigger event is shown, for example.

The Warrior continues to worry about its counterpart throughout this planning and distribution stage. It believes that the Schooler sacrificed too much in its exchange with the third entity, and is too distracted to properly compensate. The replies it receives are confident, and The Warrior double checks with some of its work to confirm that things are technically going according to plan, but still it worries.

Eventually the two arrive on Earth. The Warrior more or less lands safely, keeping a small number of key powers to itself so that it will be able to overcome any possible it encounters in this cycle. It spends time finalizing the form it will take for the next three hundred odd years using the understanding of humans it gleaned from scans on the way over. Encoding that knowledge in a new shard, which builds an avatar reminiscent of various religious figures, then it waits for the counterpart to signal that it is also ready to start.

No signal comes. Concerned, it moves the avatar into the target reality - Earth Bet. 'He' looks up and sees the shards the pair had sent to Earth raining down.

He sees that the shards of his counterpart are damaged, broken, unconnective. He calls them 'dead', though it isn't quite specified what he means by this (as they're still 'alive' in the sense that they can sustain themselves and grant powers to hosts). After shooting down a wave of these dead shards, he uses his power to extend his senses across the various alternate Earths.

He sees that his counterpart is dead, and that the cycle is stillborn. Because of the specialization he and his counterpart have evolved, he is unable to continue the cycle on his own. He can't create the next generation of entities and send them out in to space to seek more hosts. Essentially, his entire meaning for existence has come to an end.

Yet the very shard it used to interpret humanity; to help build the avatar. This shard lets him simulate a human's way of thinking so that he'd better understand the test subjects. In doing so, the avatar enabled himself to feel emotions for the first time in his life. This first emotion is a profound, depthless sadness at the loss of his counterpart.

We then see the unnamed avatar's first encounter with humans from his perspective, where he floats above the ocean for a bit, heals a man for a dead shard's sake, before flying away.

Back to the start of Golem's fight with Jack. Scion gets stopped from interfering by Weaver, and muses for a bit on her connection to her shard, which had matured and 'fragmented' and began granting powers to a second host, but that she separated from that fragment. This is not good for the cycle.

Flashback the Avatar first encounters Kevin Norton, who tells him that if he's going to float around being so sad all the time he might as well do something helpful. Thus begins the avatar's unbroken streak of flying around the world saving orphans, stopping natural disasters, stopping terrorist attacks anon.

Back at the battle, Scion watches with some dispassion; thinking to himself about the specifics of the shards in play. He's particularly interested in Jack - Scion notes that Jack's shard Broadcast is basically cheating in his favor. Any move against him by a parahuman causes an instinctual retreat, any weakness invites an attack. Essentially, Jack has a hidden Thinker power that helped keep him from losing to parahumans and is indeed allowing him to win the fight with Golem rather decisively. Scion gets attacked by Gray Boy while watching the battle, trapping the avatar in a bubble of looped time.

Another flashback, the avatar is saving a city from a widespread fire in a Russian town. He accidentally floats next to a women there who asks "What are you?" He muses about his nature, his goals and how they're impossible to achieve. He thinks of the things that Kevin Norton talked about in their encounters, and settles upon a name as his answer.

"Zion", after the biblical promised land.

Int the present Zion thinks on that encounter and other mythologies. He waxes philosophy to himself as he watches the battle. Almost immediately after he was trapped by Gray Boy, Cauldron opened a portal into the city. Contessa and Number Man step out and engage the Harbinger clones, killing three and capturing the other five. They walk back through the portal and disappear. When Scion looks at Contessa, he notes something unusual: The shard she has isn't one of his, but it's 'alive' - perhaps unique in this cycle. He doesn't pursue that train of thought after she leaves beyond noting that it's puzzling.

Turning his attention back to the rest of the fight, Zion sees Jack get caught by the Dragon's Teeth officer and betrayed by Gray Boy. He sees Foil step out and kill Gray Boy, noting that her shard was designed as a particularly effective weapon against his species back before they had left their homeworld.

The next two scene breaks show what Jack's last words were, and what he's continuing to say while trapped in Gray Boy's looped time. "Just you and me. I bet you think you’re noble. You’re not. You’re uglier than any of us, sparky. I always hated the blank… slates. ...Never that interesting…” He grunted. “Never created art, never… created variation... you’re worse than… most..."

Set above in his own cell of time, Scion listens.

The scene changes to Tattletale as she, Sierra, Charlotte and others are sitting in their base, nervously following the updates from the heroes in the field. Tattletale thinks that calamity has been averted and disperses the crowd. Charlotte comes up to Tattletale to let her know that Aiden, one of the orphans Skitter picked up from her territory, triggered two days ago, gaining the ability to control birds like Skitter controls bugs.

Tattletale gets her train of thought interrupted when Charlotte mentions that they'd already suspected he would trigger sooner or later. Referencing the nightmare he had had, where he mentioned seeing planets, stars and living things larger than either, and drew a picture to help himself remember the dream. Charlotte showed the picture to Tattletale soon after, and Tt hasn't brought it up in the almost two years since.

Tattletale doesn't connect the dots, for once. She forgot about the picture pretty much as soon as it was out of her sight, even when Charlotte brings it up. She goes looking at Charlotte's insistence, finds it in a desk drawer, puts it to the side... and promptly forgets about it again. Charlotte picks it up and basically has to shove it in Tattletale's face, which forces Tattletale's power to start actually trying to piece together the clues rather than making her forget about them.

The mental block gets circumvented when Charlotte repeats something Tattletale said back when they first met: "Like viruses, like gods, like children." Those are the last clues she needed to figure out what 'Scion' is, and the danger that he represents while in earshot of Jack.

Another glimpse at what Jack is saying to Zion. "I’m not… Darwinist,” Jack gasped. “None of that… bullshit [...] I think it is simple-“, “It’s simpler. Us monsters and… psychopaths, we gravitate towards… predation, because we were originally… predators. Originally had to hunt… Had to be brutal, cruel…”, “Order to survive. Violence was what made us… or broke us back… in the beginning.”

Meanwhile Saint is trying to juggle a absent Dragon's many roles now that she's offline. He notices someone worming their way into his systems and opens communications, letting Tattletale start shouting in his ear about how bad it is for 'Scion' to be listening to Jack right now. He tries to figure out a way to get Scion to stop listening and comes across an old report that had caught his eye earlier of an English woman who claimed that she could order Zion around - Lisette, Kevin Norton's appointed successor.

Zion Jack enforced brooding session is interrupted by a Dragon mech approaching and sounding an air horn to drown Jack out. Broadcasting, Lisette desperately asks Zion to look away from Jack and stop listening. Much to her surprise, he actually does so, effortlessly shattering Gray Boy's (Until then) indestructible prison in the process. Lisette asks him to leave the area and he complies, but it unfortunately came too late. Jack had finished his speech. "What I don’t understand, is why a blank slate like you would default to doing good deeds, rescuing cats from trees. Why not turn to that violence, as our ancestors did? It drove them, just like it drives the basest and most monstrous of our kind."

After circling the globe twice and coming to a stop at the place where he first entered Earth Bet, Zion contemplates Jack's words. He contemplates a decision, reviewing the many possible paths his life could take.

His next action was to begin the end of the world, destroying England and likely much of the Atlantic Archipelago. He finds the experience much to his liking, and sets out to explore this feeling, with that he targets the east coast of North America.

Major Events[]

  • Zion is convinced to rethink his life based on advice from Jack.
  • The Golden Mourning ends, Gold Morning begins.


Heroes Villains Others
The Protectorate

Chicago Wards

The Guild

Independent Heroes
The Undersiders

Red Hand

Slaughterhouse Nine




  • This chapter is mostly from the perspective of Scion or Zion as he is revealed to be here, but small segments are from the perspective of Golem, Tattletale, and Saint.
    • The Plot is an edited form of a posting on Reddit,[1], praise be.
  • All of the chapter titles up to this point are used by the entities in their communication or dialogue.


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