"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. Click here to visit a redacted version, although it will still contain minor spoilers.
Taylor Anne Hebert, pronounced "Hee-bert", is the main character of Worm.
Taylor was a tall, stick-thin, young woman with long, curly black hair and glasses. She had a thin-lipped, wide, expressive mouth she inherited from her mother, and her large eyes and gawky figure made her look a lot like her father. She was approximately 5'6" at the story's outset.
Taylor didn't wear clothes that showed skin, or bright colors. Emma presumed this was an unconscious effort to blend in or hide. At various times, she wore a brown hooded sweatshirt over a green t-shirt.
As time went on and under the influence of Lisa Wilbourn she began to vary her wardrobe more. Learning to vary her appearance to blend into situations. She also grew taller and gained some muscle from her training regime and activities as a parahuman. The fact that she didn't need to turn her head to look at things gave her a false appearance of extreme confidence.
As Skitter, Taylor wore various costumes made of spider silk.
Initially, she wears a black-and-grey spider silk bodysuit with armor panels made out of insect shells and exoskeletons augmented with more spider silk. The costume's prototype had fabric that was a dirty yellow-gray color, and the armor was colored dark mottled brown-gray. She later dyes it black with grey paneling before she goes out. The lenses of her mask are durable, high-end swim goggles tinted to help filter out bright lights, with lenses from an old pair of her glasses sealed inside with silicon. Her mask leaves the back of her head uncovered and her hair free to fly behind her.
She kept her costume clean by having bugs eat and clean any waste and wiping it down with a cloth.
The spider-silk fabric is too tough to cut with an x-acto knife, although it can be slowly cut through using wire cutters. It was mostly waterproof. The costume lacks the full extent of the armor paneling she planned, including protection for the back of her head, but the armor covers her face, chest, spine, stomach and major joints (including wrists, shoulders, elbows and knees). Each had "layers" resembling a pillbug. The mask design features dull yellow lenses and sections of armor designed to imitate a bug’s mandibles.
Later, after a redesign, she incorporated clawed fingertips into her costume.
Taylor has a utility compartment for storing necessary items, weapons, and insects in the shape of a spade-shaped armor panel that covers her back., Taylor's backpack contains "a set of EpiPens, a pen and notepad, a tube of pepper spray meant to hang off a key chain and a zippered pouch of chalk dust."
In Queen 18.3, Miss Militia takes a look at the contents and sees: A handgun (Trickster's spare), a length of spider silk fashioned into a long cord, pepper spray, a change purse, containing cotton swabs (to muffle the noise), needles, smelling salts, and change, a collapsible baton, and a combat knife (sturdy enough to be used as a crowbar if needed)
As Weaver, Taylor uses a flight pack developed and maintained by Defiant. She first wears a generic version of her costume created by Dragon, which lacks the armor of her earlier costume simply being a light grey bodysuit with cleaner, slim dark grey armor panels. The mantle around her shoulders and the cloth hanging from her belt are marked in electric blue with her personal gang emblem (a beetle facing downwards) in miniature at each corner, flipped upside down so that it faces upward.
When she deployed against Behemoth in New Delhi Defiant spray-painted her last Skitter costume white to match her new colors, but allow her additional protection.
After The Timeskip Weaver was properly outfitted with a silk body suit and her usual armor. Her later costume had extra armor, with a coil of silk hidden beneath an armor panel at the back of the hand.
Wildbow had her down in his notes as 5’8″ (175 cm), 125 lbs (56 kg) during her stay in prison. According to her Wards physical, she was five feet and nine inches tall. She later described herself as a hundred and thirty pounds and 5'10".
After the Timeskip, she wears a spider-silk version of her Weaver costume. After it's partially destroyed during the oil-rig battle, she wears a costume that combines elements of several provisional costumes she had created in different color schemes.
During the oil-rig battle, she wore a black bodysuit with white armor panels and lenses. She carried primarily symbolic weapons - a handgun, taser, and pepper spray - and wore her flight pack. Afterward, she wore a similar costume, including flight pack. She carried the same tube of pepper spray, rescued from the remains of her previous costume. She carried a knife in a holster, and supplemented it with a nano-thorn knife created by Defiant.
As Khepri, Taylor wears a black bodysuit with white armor panels and lenses. She is missing an arm, and appears to not be able to control her body very well. Throughout the fight with Scion, she usually had Doormaker and Clairvoyant attached to her, though when Doormaker ran out of energy for his power, she left him behind.
The name of Khepri was first seen when Contessa refers to Taylor as such, after the fight with Scion has concluded. 
Taylor is initially a shy and awkward teenage girl with a keen interest in capes. She looked forward to the part of her World Issues class where they discussed capes "since the start of the semester". She had seemingly never heard of Trigger Events, but this may have been a mistake by the author.
She was "'surviving', for lack of a better word," from the point her mother died, and then surviving from the point she started getting bullied -- she just wanted to get by. She responded to stress with silence and withdrawal. She was starved for touch. She suspected that she would hurt herself before she hurt the Trio. However, Wildbow has stated that if she hadn't triggered, Taylor would likely have simply stopped going to school rather than harming herself.
She was afraid of illegal drugs, saying she "had this sense" that they were like "an unstoppable black hole". Just the idea of being around someone that was high made her mildly anxious.
She has shown some insecurity in her femininity, describing her long, dark curly hair as her "only feminine feature". She would always stress over choosing her clothes.
She had a tendency to throw herself into danger without considering the consequences to herself, that could easily have resulted in her death had it persisted.
Taylor considered joining the Wards, but felt that "the notion of escaping the stresses of high school by flinging myself into a mess of teenage drama, adult oversight and schedules seemed self-defeating". She had no trust in organized institutions, and felt happier having some independence and control.
She had increasing difficulty attending school. Sometimes she would make deals with herself to attend for part of the day, then convince herself to attend for more.
Tattletale noted that she seemed to "gravitate toward solitude", and that she seemed oblivious to people staring at her as Skitter, perhaps because she had spent so long assuming everyone was staring at her as a result of her poor self-confidence. Tattletale believed that Taylor would be better at using Tattletale's power than she was.
She suffered from nightmares. Shocked by the city's devestation, Skitter focused on establishing her new territory and finding a way to retain "employees", despite other demands on her time such as negotiating with Coil over future plans.
Taylor had time to reconnect with her dad, but still had some guilt about the distance in their relationship. She met Emma at school and was surprised to see how her view of her tormentor had changed because of recent events.
After Dragon's return visit, while angry she tried to find a way to compromise after the event by turning herself in. It didn't go well. But eventually her faith in the system was restored some what.
As the negotiations turned into extortion and interrogation, a crisis started to form. However it was defused and in its wake, Taylor had achieved what she felt was necessary: a stronger front against the Endbringers and End of the World scenario. She stated “This is what I want to do, above all else," and would commit to joining the effort under the new name of Weaver.
She is an exceptionally accomplished martial artist; her bug-swarm-enhanced senses enable her to react to events faster than a normal human should be able to. She can easily defeat even other experienced parahumans in hand-to-hand combat. The boost to her senses and coordination due to her swarm also allows her exceptional accuracy with firearms. Personality-wise, she is noted to be cold, distant, exceptionally driven, and even ruthless by many characters.
She became concerned that her passenger was influencing her behaviour. She even blamed ordinary emotions on her passenger. She tried hypnosis and bartering with it to control it, to no avail. Eventually she made a kind of peace with it.
Taylor's sanity begins to rapidly fracture after her Corona pollentia was 're-tuned' by Panacea. Panacea's alterations reduce the range but dramatically increase the power of Taylor's control, at the cost of the 'limiter' on Queen Administrator that prevents Taylor's powers from harming her. The consequences of the loss of the 'limiter' are fundamental. She immediately loses the ability to speak, read, or write and continues to degrade over the course of Gold Morning, eventually losing the ability to understand spoken dialogue.
Shards have a pre-programmed drive to cause conflict. The loss of the limiters on Taylor's Queen Administrator shard cause this quality of her power to excessively bleed into her personality. She loses the ability to understand basic human emotional cues and bodily language, ultimately interpreting nearly any and all forms of human interaction as fighting or conflict. Driven into near-total insanity by her powers, she resolves to take over the disparate Earths in order to finally have peace, but is convinced to peacefully retreat into a self-imposed exile by several heroes, including Narwhal, Rachel, Imp, Tattletale, and Glastig Ulaine.
By the end of Gold Morning, the boundaries between Taylor and the Queen Administrator shard have worn thin. Queen Administrator is able to speak and communicate through Taylor, using Taylor's own voice. Contessa compares her to other parahumans who have lost control of themselves due to the personality bleed-over from an unleashed shard. Echidna, Glastig Ulaine, and the Ash Beast are Contessa's examples of parahumans that Taylor now resembles. Taylor has by this point so degraded that she can only communicate through the assistance of powers, and needs to exert effort in order to be able to communicate as herself, instead of allowing her shard to speak for her.
Taylor ultimately expresses regret for the long chain of decisions she's made, starting from her first meeting with Armsmaster, and culminating in Scion's defeat. At a certain point the losses of friends and the moral compromises became too much, though not even she knows when or where the balance was tipped. Taylor says, in the end, that if she had a way to do it all over again, she would find a way to be a hero differently, a way to do it all better and not pay the prices she was forced to pay.
Afterwards, Taylor appears to be unpowered and dumped into an isolated reality along with her father. She met an alternate version of her mother there. 
Taylor had a strained relationship with the students of Winslow High. Because she was bullied extensively by "other girls and a small handful of boys" with the "trio" - Madison Clements, Sophia Hess, and Emma Barnes acting as the ringleaders, she was reluctant to make friends and believed that boys didn't like her. She speculates that the few boys that bullied her sought approval from three of the prettier and more popular girls.
As Weaver, Taylor visits Ms. Yamada for therapy. The public start to see Weaver as a hero following the New Delhi battle.
Madison Clements, Sophia Hess, and Emma Barnes - The Trio of students responsible for bullying Taylor. Emma was Taylor's best friend from first grade to middle school, the two girls stayed at each other's houses every weekend. Upon entering high school, Emma suddenly abandoned her for Sophia and Madison. The three then tormented her - Sophia physically, Madison superficially and Emma emotionally. Because Emma knew some of Taylor's psychological weaknesses, such as the death of Mrs. Hebert, she was the only one really able to hurt Taylor.
Taylor resisted attacking the trio with her powers, no matter how much she wanted to. She considered the thought of her father's disappointment on seeing that she had attacked the Trio "daunting" but less than her anger and frustration with them. After facing the likes of Coil and the Slaughterhouse 9 Taylor was able to overcome Emma's emotional attacks; following Taylor's public outing as Skitter Emma broke down. Emma Barnes' parents and sister blame Taylor for their daughter's eventual death.
Madison would ultimately come to regret her actions after learning that Taylor had become Skitter, feeling somewhat responsible for the path of violence that Taylor had taken. She would ultimately reach out to various heroes hoping to gain more information but was rebuffed. Eventually Victoria gave her some answers, saying that she would never know whether her actions had ultimately saved the world or not.
After saving Charlotte from the Merchants, she loyally looks after Skitter's base and reports daily to her. While Skitter is thankful for her help and loyalty, but isn't sure how to show her appreciation to her.
Before becoming a cape, Taylor was, in her younger days, a big fan of Alexandria and Armsmaster. As a member of the Undersiders she becomes close friends with Tattletale, Grue, and Rachel (Hellhound/Bitch). She has a somewhat more distant relationship with Regent, due to being somewhat unsettled by him.
Taylor and Grue become romantically involved after the events of the Slaughterhouse Nine arc, but the relationship is short-lived and fizzles due to dramatically different levels of potential investment in the relationship. Where Grue was unwilling to make it a 'serious' relationship, Taylor very much was.
Taylor and Clockblocker share a vaguely respectful mutual relationship despite being enemies, a connection forged by fighting with or against one another several times. This connection becomes obvious to the point that civilian rumors begin to circulate of a romantic relationship between the two. Taylor is also close to Golem, serving as something of a mentor figure. She also spends a large amount of her time with Chicago wards but is considered not to be as close with them as she is with the Undersiders. As Weaver, Taylor visits Ms. Yamada for therapy. The civilian public begins to see Weaver as a hero following the Behemoth battle and Glenn Chamber's unauthorized release of her POV video of the battle.
After the time-skip, she is close to Golem, serving as something of a mentor figure. She also spends a large amount of her time with Chicago wards but is considered not to be as close with them as she is with the Undersiders. After recovering from her injuries during the oil-rig battle, Taylor collects a team of parahumans with a semi-rotating membership from capes she had known in the past. This group includes Lung, Tattletale, Shadow Stalker, Cuff, Tecton, and Canary at different points.
He was the first real Cape that Taylor worked with. She loses her respect for him after he betrays her, and they later become brutal enemies. After gaining perspective, Armsmaster apologizes to her (which catches her off guard.) Afterwards they're able to have a civil (if not friendly) relationship.
Alexandria was Taylor's favourite heroine when she was a kid. When she was nine, she went through a phase where she wore an Alexandria t-shirt and had her mom help her look up pictures of Alexandria online; the only time she had ever been a fan of a particular hero.
She developed a fractious relationship with the hero which turned dangerous a bit before Taylor began her career as Weaver.
Lisa is one of the first to trust Taylor from their first meeting and eventually becomes her closest friend. Despite some a few later misgivings over Tattletale's morals, especially when she suddenly unveils her more audacious plans, Taylor generally accepts her reasons and trusts her to do the right thing. In turn Lisa is somewhat protective of her because of two reasons: her past, and her involvement in recruiting Skitter.
Taylor is wary of Regent's ways. She knows that he's sociopathic and considers his membership on the Undersiders a necessary evil. She acknowledges his power is useful, but doesn't fully accept its moral implications.
Taylor is extremely distrustful because he involved the Undersiders in a kidnapping (albeit indirectly), but depends on his funding and supplies. As his plan to dominate the city comes to fruition, their conflict puts her increasingly on edge.
Skitter works to save Dinah Alcott. While unfortunately she works for the PRT, she harbors no regrets or ill will towards the thinker.
Skitter comes to know and talk with all of the Travelers, who cautiously respect her. She first meets Sundancer while fighting at the ABB warehouse, but unnerved her by disfiguring Lung. Likewise, she doesn't seem to get along too well with Trickster nor Ballistic, who don't trust her motives and are suspicious of her. Genesis is more neutral but later sensing Skitter's agitation with Coil, becomes guarded.
Complicated. While she disliked the Undersiders due to the bank argument, she would later come around. Because of the Nine, she gifted Skitter with Atlas and Relay bugs to cover her weaknesses. Though these were meant to be temporary they helped her escape the fire bombs.
They would cooperate to some extent, Miss Militia's attitude as leader of the local heroes more amenable than that of her colleagues. During the Echidna fight Skitter often informed her of urgent developments and did get understanding if not acceptance from the pragmatic hero. Like Defiant, she was sympathetic to the worst of Skitter's treatment as a cape, including the PRT order to unmask her. Thus she would be somewhat involved in Skitter's Surrender, although Skitter begrudged her decision to avoid influencing the ongoing negotiations.
Despite his earlier betrayal, Defiant becomes something of a friend to Taylor, or at least a respected colleague. He and Dragon work to create her equipment and ferry her from place to place, at least partly as an apology. Their relationship is purely business.
She can make her minions do things that they would not normally do, such as walk into fire, produce so much web silk that they physically couldn't produce any more or stinging while injecting little to no venom. She doesn't require "organized" insects. Once she stops controlling them, her bugs revert to their normal behavior patterns.
Taylor has an almost limitless ability to focus on multiple insects at once, or to focus on other things while also using her insects. She can give general instructions, in which case she is only vaguely aware of their movements, or guide individual insects through complex tasks, in which case she is more precisely aware of their movements and environment. However, she could be distracted by the difficulty of focusing on her insects' senses, and by Panacea's modified insects providing contradictory signals. As of Colony 15.7, she was only capable of holding one conversation at a time, even while controlling multiple clones.
Her power would sometimes perform actions by habit, when she was incapacitated, or when she was in an altered mental state, without her conscious instruction.
Taylor would sometimes use her bugs to "channel" her emotions, lending her an "aura of indomitable calm". This can be seen with Alexandria's interrogation, when Taylor was able to attack Alexandria and the latter was not prepared as Taylor had offloaded all of her emotional cues into her bugs and thus appeared calmer than she truly was.Armsmaster's lie-detector and Cherish's power also had partially bad reads on her emotions. Even those close to her have trouble understanding her at times.
The sensory input from her bugs is "fuzzy" and difficult for humans to interpret. She can sporadically hear and see clearly, but the "signal quality" is unreliable.
Practicing doesn't seem to produce results. However, over time, Taylor does learn to more reliably hear through her bugs. In her last day as Skitter she was unable to understand a phone message heard with her bugs, but was able to identify it was a recording. She was only able to discern tone of voice at "rare moments".
Based on the combined sensory input of large numbers of insects, Taylor can gain a very clear mental picture of whatever they're interacting with. She can also sense the biology and location of every bug she can control. This gives her enhanced aim and the ability to dodge attacks with supernatural reaction times. However, in environments where bugs are scarce, or when dealing with materials that they don't interact with well, her image of the area can become less reliable.
Taylor also receives some knowledge of her bugs' biology from her power, giving her an understanding of their limits, capabilities and the effects of adaptions such as any venom they have.
Taylor has a limited range. During periods of stress, it would increase, once reaching over six and a half blocks. The increases aren't permanent. Nevertheless, her base range did slowly increase over time, from two blocks as when fighting the ABB to three blocks when she began to claim territory, and participate in more conflicts.
Her power doesn't work on creatures below a certain size. At different times, she speculated that she could control anything with an exoskeleton or shell -- which wouldn't explain how she could control earthworms -- and that it was the subject having a non-complex nervous system. Her power does not affect squid. It's possible that she could control bug-like Case 53s, depending on their brain makeup & chemistry.
At one point, Taylor attempted to distract a foe underwater by forming simulated bodies out of sea creatures.
She was able to control Atlas a horse sized beetle, and have her range extended by Relay bugs. Both of these were courtesy of Panacea. Like all of her other bugs she saw them as tools, though Atlas did have some sentimental value.
Taylor has come up with a multitude of creative uses of her power. For example, she can produce and manipulate large quantities of spider silk, coat her insects in petroleum jelly and capsaicin to use them like pepper spray, deploy groups of bugs to create humanoid figures, mask her movements, and clear out rat infestations. She was able to catch containment foam on glass carried by her bugs and stick it to her attackers. She can disguise or project her voice by having her insects buzz and chirp together. Over a two year period she learned how to read Braille and used her bugs to read multiple texts at once.
She even had some tricks she wasn't consciously aware of learning. For example, she would occasionally use her bugs to cover her while she moved without noticing, making her difficult to track.
Taylor was rated by PRT analysts as a Master 5, which was later upgraded to an 8. A rating of Thinker 1 was officially added when Emily Piggot deduced she could see through her bugs in a limited fashion. Piggot suggested that this should be upgraded when Taylor admitted she came up with the plan to raid the PRT to stop Dragon and demonstrated the ability to anticipate incoming attacks through her bugs, but she was still classified as a thinker-one after Piggot had left office.
Later Director Tagg ordered for her to be treated as a Master 10, Thinker 3 with an additional rating of 2 in every other category; in order to make sure his soldiers didn't underestimate her and to authorize additional means of containing her.
Taylor Anne Hebert was born in June 1995, arguably on the 19th, 12th (a week before the 19th), or 11th (about a week before the 19th and the date Worm began.)
Growing up, Taylor's parents showed concern for her safety. They warned her to stay on the Boardwalk and avoided the bad part of town, a command she scrupulously obeyed.
When she was around five or six, she saw a meth addict freak out on the bus, making enough of a ruckus that the driver had to stop and force him off. This fright permanently affected her.
Her mother, Annette Rose Hebert, died in a car crash later attributed to texting while driving. As a result of the incident, Taylor becomes closed off and rigid. Her previously strong friendship with Emma Barnes became strained due to this change, but it still served as an emotional piller.
A year and a half before the story begins, just before they enter high school, Emma unexpectedly abandoned Taylor to befriend Sophia Hess and later Madison Clements. The Trio then began aggressively bullying Taylor, including one event in early January that causes Taylor to trigger. They send her vicious e-mails, upend trash over her desk, and steal her mother's flute from her locker. Others join in, ‘accidentally’ skipping her when passing out assignments and adding their own voices to the taunts and emails.Taylor begins lying low in the bathrooms during lunch and comes to view it as "refuge ... a place I could retreat to, a place where I was off their radar".
In January 2011, she arrived back at school to find her locker had been filled with used pads and tampons, and then someone shoved her inside. She triggered after enough time had passed to realise no one who'd seen what happened was trying to help, and was freed from the locker by or before the end of first period. While she recovered in hospital she was visited by the PRT in case she had triggered. She was overwhelmed by the sensory input of her power and didn't notice. Her near catatonic state kept them from drawing any conclusions.
Three months before the story begins -- once Taylor recovered from her trigger event -- she started to prepare herself to become a hero. She exercised, honed her abilities, doing research and preparing her costume. Her training schedule consisted of running every morning and every other afternoon. She resisted using her power in school for three months, restricting it to a faint buzzing sound at the edge of her consciousness. She conducted practice sessions, "far from prying eyes", to determine the extent of her power.
At some point, her backpack was stolen from her locker by the Trio and stuffed in a trash can. She bought a new one for twelve bucks. This incident alerted her to the risk of someone reading her notes, and she rewrote them in code. Around the same time, she began hiding equipment for her superheroics in a boarded-up coal shute in her basement.
On April 8th, 2011, Taylor was discovered in the School bathroom, ruining her hiding place. The Trio drenches her clothes and bag in juice. She then throws her bag against the wall in anger, her midterm project -- due that day -- is destroyed. She finally lets her defenses drop and is automatically swarmed with bugs responding to her emotional distress, but she resists killing the trio.
At home, Taylor discovers the juice also ruined many of the contents of her bag, including notes on her eventual superhero career. This event pushes Taylor to stop putting off the start of said career. That weekend Taylor completes her costume and on Sunday night goes out in costume for the first time, crossing into the "bad part of town" just after midnight.
She fought the EndbringerLeviathan when he attacked Brockton Bay, helping to track his location and rescue wounded until her communicator was fried. She was nearby when Armsmaster duelled the monster and picked up his Halberd when he fell, using it to wound the monster and help other heroes clear rubble.
Taylor discovered that the hero Shadow Stalker was in fact Sophia Hess, one of the girls who had tormented her. In the ensuing conversation, Armsmaster was revealed by Tattletale to have fried her armband in order to prevent her giving away the beast's location to other heroes, which would have prevented him duelling it one-on-one. In revenge, he revealed her status as a mole to the Undersiders.
Nevertheless, she rejoined the Undersiders, disillusioned with the heroes. She agreed to Coil's plan to take over the city, claiming a territory. There she fought the Slaughterhouse Nine.
Spearheaded winning strategies against Dragon's suits.
On June 19th, Coil completed his takeover of the city by faking his death and discrediting Emily Piggot. He claimed he was going to release Dinah Alcott, as agreed, but instead attacked Skitter. After the Undersiders defeated Coil, Taylor killed him.
Taylor felt increasing pressure from the authorities, who revealed her secret identity to the public.
Eventually she surrendered, hoping to acquire concessions in the form of reforms in exchange. This initially failed, but after she killed the PRT's local and national leadership, she was proclaimed a hero.
She asked Panacea to modify her powers, becoming the being known as Khepri.
Though she now had the power she needed to face the warrior she dealt with a rapidly deteriorating mental state unable to communicate with others. Her actions were opposed by her allies and friends.
After Zion's defeat, her shard was disabled by Contessa, saving Taylors life. She eventually moved to Earth Aleph along with her father. She thinks she will be able to live a quiet life.
↑ 2.02.1How tall exactly is Taylor? in comparison to the Wards ENE?
I think I mention it in the story, but you wouldn't be too wrong if you said she's 5'7" or 5'8" (corrected from 5'6") at the story's outset, taller than Battery, who's maybe 5'3" or 5'4". The only one who'd be taller than her would be Browbeat (using his power) or Aegis (who's a tallish male about to turn 18).
Taylor's last name is pronounced 'A bear' right? I ask this because I recall Victor calling Skitter 'heb' and she having a panic attack because she thought he knew her last name. Did I miss something?
Hee-bert. A-bear would be the French pronunciation, but her family uses the American pronunciation. The slur is 'heeb', short for Hebrew. - Comment on spacebattles by Wildbow
↑Skitter – The protagonist. A bug controller, she wears a black spidersilk costume with gray-black speckled armor panels. If you’ve forgotten who she is, you have a problem. - Cast (spoiler free)
↑ Broomstick arms and legs, gawky, with a wide, guileless smile, her eyes just a fraction larger behind the glasses she wore, a little too old fashioned. Her long dark curls were tied into a loose set of twin braids, one bearing a series of colorful ‘friendship braclet' style ties at the end. Only her height gave her age away. - Excerpt from Interlude 19.z
↑ 5.05.1A girl with curly black hair and glasses, stick thin, hugging a red-haired girl. The body type was a match.
The goal was always the same: to look for the girl with the slight build, curly black hair and glasses. Taylor Hebert. - Excerpt from Interlude 10.5
↑A girl, skinny, but not in the attractive way you saw in magazines. Spindly. - Excerpt from Sentinel 9.6
↑ 7.07.1Taylor kneeled in the middle of a massive puddle of juices and sodas, some of it still fizzing around her. She was drenched, head to toe, trickles still running off of the lengths of her hair. Her style of dress had changed over the past little while, in ways Taylor probably wasn’t fully aware of. She wore darker clothes now, cloaked herself in sweatshirts and loose fitting jeans. Her long hair was a shield, a barrier around her face. All measures to hide, signals and gestures of defeat.
More than that, she’d changed in behavior, had stopped fighting back. She’d stopped reacting, for the most part. Her expression was impassive. It took some of the fun out of it. It was almost disappointing. - Excerpt from Interlude 19.z
↑Skinny teenage girl with black curly hair entering and leaving the same building that the skinny teenage villain with black curly hair was operating out of? - Excerpt from Infestation 11.1
↑Her expression was masked behind a shifting mass of bugs that moved in and out of her hairline. Sierra couldn’t even tell where the bugs ended and the scalp began, as the small black bodies crawled into and onto the black curls. - Exerpt from Interlude 14.x
↑The casual display of emotion was startling. It was equally startling when, in the moment Emma’s dad slowed the car down, Taylor’s head turned, her eyes falling on them, her head and upper body turning to follow them as they passed.
She didn’t even resemble the person Emma had known way back then, not the girl who’d approached her house after coming back from camp, and not the girl who’d been drenched in juice. The lines of her cheekbones and chin were more defined, her skin baked to a light tan by the sun, her long black curls grown a touch wild by long exposure to wind. Light muscles stood out on her arms as she held a box, her dad standing back to direct.
Even her clothes. She wasn’t hiding under a hood and long sleeves. A trace of her stomach was exposed between the bottom of her yellow tank top and the top of her jeans. The frayed cuffs were rolled up at the bottom, around new running shoes, and neither Taylor nor her dad seemed to be paying any attention to the knife that was sheathed at her back. - Excerpt from Interlude 19.z
↑She wasn’t in costume. It was odd, seeing her approach from a distance, observing her uninterrupted over a longer span of time. She conveyed an eerie kind of confidence that he knew she didn’t have at her core. Some of that was how she unflinchingly looked forward. She didn’t react as the wind blew her hair across her face, didn’t turn to look around the street as she crossed an intersection.
He might have to say something about that. If that was her using her power to assess her surroundings and keep an eye out for trouble, she should avoid doing it when she was in civilian wear.
She stopped a short distance away, holding grocery bags in one hand and tucking her hair back into place with the other. She wore a black tank top, jeans and rubber boots, with a sweatshirt tied around her waist. That last article of clothing would be to conceal weapons, he guessed. Her glasses caught the light from the sun to the west, turning almost opaque in the glare as she looked his way.- Excerpt from Interlude 15.y
↑ 18.018.1Easy peasy. There’s bugs that eat and clean the waste of other bugs (pillbugs, for example) and she can suppress or time their need to create the waste in the first place (at least for the, say, pillbugs, who would therefore not be making mess as they clean it up).
As the armor’s mostly waterproof (see chapter where she mentions trying to give Newter first aid, for this), all she’d need is a wipe-down with a wet cloth and some pillbug attention. - Comment by Wildbow on Tangle 6.6
↑Alas, I’m not a talented artist, or I’d be able to sketch out the armor in proper. I’ve got two pieces of work that I’ve yet to sit down and finish; one being a sketch of her armor, as she might have drawn it in her notebook (see arc 1, chapter 2) and the other being a drawing of Taylor herself, which stalled because I can’t draw hair in a way that satisfies me. I may get it done if I find a good reference image that I can build off of, as well as the mood to draw at a time to actually do said drawing.
But yeah. Keep in mind that her armor features that spade shaped compartment over her back – sort of like a beetle shell, about the size of a small backpack. There’s also shoulderpads, elbow pads, wristguards, chestguard, kneepads, etc. Each having layers in the style of insect chitin (pillbug, etc), that adds to the bulk (and internal capacity, as it happens), without making it too ‘loose’.
As I think on it, though, it is a rather high number. If I recall, it was a placeholder I put in there while I didn’t have access to the web or a library for research, and I never thought to change it while doing sweeps of edits & whatnot to the subsequent drafts. I’ll change that. - Comment by Wildbow onTangle 6.6
↑Taylor Hebert, Skitter– A 16 year old native of Brockton Bay, Taylor gained the power to control arthropods and other simple lifeforms, sensing what they sense to varying degrees. With a wide range (spanning nine to fifteen hundred feet around her) and the power to individually control each insect, she relies on versatility and strategic thinking to seize the advantage in battle.Her powers manifested in January 2011, triggered by a bullying campaign by her former best friend and two other girls. She found a measure of escape with her dream of becoming a superhero, but things didn’t quite work out that way. She’s now one of the controlling powers in Brockton Bay, a villain warlord in charge of the Boardwalk, with a small contingent of followers working under her, and leader of the Undersiders. . In civilian guise, she’s skinny to the point of being scrawny, with glasses and long curly hair she maintains as a desperate grasp at a single feminine feature. Her gawky or nerdy appearance is marked by a wide mouth and large eyes. . As Skitter, she wears a costume of black spider silk and gray armor panels, a yellow-lensed mask that features a mandible-esque design around her jaw. Her hair blows free. Depending on the situation and the state of her costume, she occasionally wears a skirt or shawl of black spider silk with ragged or torn edges, for protection, concealment, and to offer more surface area for her bugs to crawl on. When battle ready, bugs crawl over every surface of her costume, including her hair and mask. The carapace-like panel of armor at her back serves as a utility compartment, holding her weapons and various items. - Cast (in depth)
↑Being completely honest, even as the author, I'm a little surprised Taylor didn't know or even voice that she'd come across the idea while on ParahumansOnline. I thought I remembered the dialogue going more like, "Do you know what trigger events are?" "I've heard of them, but..."
↑Wildbow: Early Taylor responds to stress with silence and withdrawal. [...] logiccosmic: Anything else you remember from the shit show? Mishie: back Wildbow: The big issue is it doesn't feel like Taylor. Wildbow: When writing a character, you gotta start from the motivations. Taylor, starting out, just wants to get by.
%logiccosmic scribbles furiously Wildbow: She was 'surviving', for lack of a better word, from the point her mom died, and then surviving from the point she started getting bullied. Wildbow: She compartmentalizes things, but she's very prone to having her perspective skew like crazy. Wildbow: (I really want to emphasize this more in the rewrite, for the initial arcs) - Wildbow on IRC, archived on SpaceBattles
↑ Lisa, though, put one of her arms around my shoulders and gave me a one-armed squeeze of a hug. She was a little older than I was, so she was just tall enough to be at the perfect height to do it. What caught me off guard was how nice the gesture felt. Like I had been needing a hug from someone who wasn’t my dad for a long time. - excerpt from Insinuation 2.7
↑Taylor isn't suicidal but would have dropped out of school. Depends on your definition of suicidal. I've fairly sure I've dropped WoG (That's noted in the archives) that states Taylor would not live in a lot of AUs because she was liable to tailspin into self destruction (the thought 'I want to die' not crossing her mind even as she put herself into dangerous situations) in a lot of scenarios where she didn't have the same outside influence. - Partial comment by Wildbow on Reddit
↑As Taylor states, “I had considered applying to join, but the notion of escaping the stresses of high school by flinging myself into a mess of teenage drama, adult oversight and schedules seemed self-defeating.”
In brief: The Wards could easily be everything she’s trying to get away from.
Beyond that, she has no trust in organized institutions (school has failed her badly – see the next chapter for more on the subject), and she’s happier having some independence and control (personal power, freedom, escapism) in circumstances where she otherwise has none, than she would be as another rank and file member of the Wards. Or, perhaps to phrase it better, she’s more afraid of being unhappy in the Wards than she is of being unhappy on her own.
↑Kicking myself even as I did it, I turned away and walked back down the hall towards the front doors of the school. I knew it would be that much harder to go back tomorrow. For one and three-quarter school years, I had been putting up with this shit. I'd been going against the current for a long time, and even though I was aware of the consequences I'd face if I kept missing school like this, it was so much easier to stop pushing so hard against the current and just step in the other direction. - Agitation 3.1]
↑I stared out the window of the bus, watching the people and the cars. On days like this, after being publicly humiliated, getting myself to the point where I was willing to walk through the door was about making deals with myself and trying to look past the school day. I told myself that I would go to Mrs. Knott's computer class. None of the Trio would be there, it was usually pretty easygoing, and I could take the time to browse the web. From there, it was just a matter of convincing myself to walk down the hall to Mr. Gladly's class.
If I just made myself do that, I promised myself, I would give myself a treat. - Agitation 3.1]
↑I know the dream sequence is sort of a tired bit, but it struck me that I’ve mentioned a few times that Taylor has nightmares, earlier in the story, and there’s the stress over Dinah, her dad and Sophia, and I wanted to sort of touch on that without getting into pure exposition. Showing rather than telling. So I went with the dream.
All in all? I’m ok with how that part turned out, personally. Though I welcome any complaints/criticisms/praise to let me know if I hit the mark & should leave that option open for another story/book in another year. - Comment by Wildbow on Infestation 11.1
↑ 45.045.1I was using my bugs to channel my feelings, even with my concerns about my passenger and how it might be merging with me. I was wearing that aura of indomitable calm, even though I wasn't sure I liked the Taylor of this past year and a half, who had been doing just that as a matter of both habit and necessity. - Excerpt from Extinction 27.3
↑ 46.046.1Passenger, I thought. Been a while, trying to figure out how to make peace with the fact that you're there, that you're affecting me somehow, taking control whenever I'm not in my own mind. I think we've made strides. I've sort of accepted that you're going to do what you're going to do, whether that helps me or hurts me. - Excerpt from Sting 26.2
↑ 47.047.1Had I? Not wholly consciously. I'd set up the string, but how much of that was intentional? Was it habit, now, to have a measure on hand when dealing with any weapon?
I focused on the swarm, focused on the cords and threads that traced the room. One in the doorway, one at each of Phir Sē's feet, just waiting for me to finish the deal and bind him. Others extended between us, spiders poised to cut the threads or tie them, as the situation demanded.
The passenger, or was it me, being wary?
"I guess I did," I said. I made the spiders cut the threads between us.
My heart was still pounding, my mouth dry, and it wasn't just the Phir Sē thing, or the teleporter. The passenger. - Crushed 24.4
↑"It's been a bad day, in case you haven't noticed. You're allowed to feel bad. It's kind of normal."
I'd been thinking of my feelings as being off-kilter, out of control, unreasonable and irrational.
Were they just regular feelings? Emotions that weren't being reined in by my discipline and bottling everything up, by distraction and disconnection?
Somewhere along the line, I'd stopped thinking about my feelings as being mixed up or fucked up and stopped concerning myself with them altogether. On a level, I'd blamed my passenger.
But I wasn't sure I could justify that with what I was experiencing now. Why would the passenger take away, gain ground in subsuming my identity and then give it back, all like this?
↑Computer class was one of the few parts of the school day I didn't usually dread. For one thing, it was the one class in which I was doing well.
Mrs. Knott was an alright teacher, if not the most hands on; she was usually content to give us advanced students an in-class assignment and then focus on the more rambunctious majority for the rest of the class.
↑I looked at my teachers. At Mrs. Knott, who I'd even say was my favorite teacher, "Don't you see how fucked up this is? He's blackmailing us right in front of you, and you can't understand that this manipulation has been going on from the beginning?"
Mrs. Knott frowned, "I don't like the sound of it, but we can only comment and act on what happens in school." - Hive 5.4
↑Without taking the box, I tilted my head to get a better look at the front, "Alexandria. She was my favorite member of the Protectorate when I was a kid. Is the lunchbox collectable?" - Excerpt from Insinuation 2.6
↑I didn't follow that stuff, didn't buy into the hero worship. I'd always found the capes interesting, I'd followed the non-gossipy news about them, but with the exception of a phase around the time I was nine where I'd had an Alexandria t-shirt and had my mom help me find pictures of her online, I had never really got giddy over any particular hero. - Tangle 6.7
↑ 60.060.1In truth, when they’re quoting the scientists as saying “There’s no telepathy, it’s impossible.” they’re quoting something where the scientists theorized that thought-transference wouldn’t work. Which is similar but different.
Yes, Taylor is telepathic – she transmits information via. yet-unknown channels to her bugs, who respond, and through these same channels, she gets very frequent (to the point that it feels real-time) updates on her bugs’ positions, biology/status, etc. in what’s sort of a very rapid, hyper-detailed echolocation.
Meanwhile, thought-transference is more the ‘put thoughts in other people’s heads, or take thoughts out of other’s heads and understand them.’ - Comment by Wildbow on Extermination 8.4
↑ 61.061.1Ah, but the control & organization of the bugs she controls don’t necessarily matter. She maintains absolute control anyways. The only convenience would be, say, that they could cooperate in her absence. (As opposed to black widows which have to be isolated from each other as they’re territorial enough to kill one another). - Comment by Wildbow on Plague 12.1
↑ 66.066.1Re: Skitter’s power, she’s yet to demonstrate the inability to control some bugs because she was focusing on others or focusing on something else. Well, there was the bank robbery, but that was Panacea’s interference at work. It’s unstated, but multitasking abilities come part and parcel with her power, as far as her facility with her power is concerned. -
Comment by Wildbow on Infestation 11.2
↑ 67.067.167.2Taylor’s power is fairly nuanced, and I guess I haven’t really elaborated enough on that aspect of things. I tweaked the sweaty crotches part of the chapter just a tiny bit, and will strive to explain a little better in a later chapter. Long story short, Taylor’s sensory input from the bugs is vastly different depending on whether she’s giving them a general ‘find your way to me’ impulse or whether she’s focused enough on them individually to have them navigating their way into somebody’s underpants. In the former case, she’s drawn her bugs in while really stressed (such as when Bitch attacked her) without really noticing she was doing it. Things are that thin, that easy to block out.
You said “not at all recognizable from the ‘human’ perspective except by a good deal of piecing together of clues.” – Except she’s got a helluvalot of clues. Even fuzzy, blurry clues add up to a pretty strong mental picture when you’ve got enough of them. When there’s also context, with Taylor knowing in advance what her bugs are doing, there’s going to be (even if Taylor doesn’t really want to) a framing of those clues in a particular way. - Comment by Wildbow on Shell 4.3
↑Hey, passenger, I thought. Do me a favor. If I get taken out of action and you step up to fight, work on taking out Jack, alright? -
↑Wildbow - Had taylor broken, raged out, in the sense of chapter one, they would have had a scapegoat for everything that happened in Brockton Bay. She could have tapped Cauldron resources and been on the alert. But Taylor offloaded all cues to her shard. She appeared far calmer and more subdued than she was, Alexandria calibrated her approach with this in mind, and things tilted off differently. Wildbow - Taylor was absolutely not a killer at that stage, unless she had a reasonable target, and Alexandria presented herself as that target. Alexandria looked at Taylor, talked to her, and saw someone different. All of the profiling and information worked -against- her.- WoG from Spacebattles
↑Armsmaster's lie detector. Cherish gets a partial read on Skitter, but extrapolates wrong. Jack remarks on this on two occasions, especially how (he feels) if the read had been correct, he could have convinced Taylor to kill Battery. Powers set aside, she expresses frustration at people misreading her motivations, especially at the meeting with Accord/Valefor/the Teeth. Virtually everyone around her has trouble grasping what she's doing and why: her dad, Emma (most recent encounter), D&D, Grue, even Tattletale at times. - Partial comment by Wildbow on Reddit
↑ 73.073.173.2Well, she can’t quite hear through her bugs. As she says in 2.6, noises break down to weird and irritating pitches that she can’t quite make out.
The one real exception to this occurs at the conclusion of the ‘Shell’ arc, where she was overhearing music through a moth. But that’s an exception, not the rule. - Comment by Wildbow on Tangle 6.1
↑He doesn’t have a conventional brain, but his system isn’t so simple that Taylor can take it over. If she could have, her power would have detected & sensed him the way it usually does bugs. - Comment by Wildbow on Sentinel 9.1
↑I didn’t hear the rest. Behind my back, Assault moved to kick one of the desks. It went flying into the air in the same instant I threw myself to the ground. I could feel the rush of wind as it passed over me, hurtling into a cubicle. I scrambled for cover.
“Prescience. Interesting,” the Director called out, as I ducked low and used the cubicles to hide. “We assigned you a thinker-one classification, but perhaps we fell short.” Excerpt from Monarch 16.2
↑I wasn’t just grabbing every creepy crawly in a two block radius, though. I was being selective, and I was gathering quite a few.
It would take time for all of them to arrive. Bugs could move faster than you thought when they moved with purpose in a straight line, but even so, two blocks was a lot of ground for something so small to cover. - Excerpt from Gestation 1.2
↑I generally measured things in city blocks – I’ve never been good at eyeballing distance – and I would say my range usually sat at around two blocks. - Excerpt from Hive 5.5
↑Generally speaking, there were two routes I tended to go. The first put me in one spot, drawing my bugs from the area. A three block radius made for a good number of bugs.
Today wasn’t one of the days my power was working double time, with double the range. I’d wanted to make sure to reach as many as I could, so I’d started drawing the arrows and words with the bugs early. - Excerpt from Infestation 11.2
↑Much like Taylor's achievements went hand in hand with a growth in her capability and flexibility with her power (on a blunt level like the waxing & waning max range, in terms of being able to see/speak with them, and on an abstract level, like how the shard is helping more in the background or when she's unconscious), - Comment by Wildbow on Armsmaster's growth.
↑It’s been stated in the comments, but Taylor’s power doesn’t let her control bugs below a certain size. It’s why she can’t sense skin mites. -
Comment by Wildbow on Colony 15.1
↑“I used to think I could control anything with an exoskeleton or shell. But I can control earthworms too, among other things, and they don’t have shells. I think all it takes is that they have to have very simple brains.” -excerpt from Agitation 3.1
↑Um the Muse: Hmm, I wonder if Skitter could affect the various bugmen? I know that she said that it had to do with the size of the brain involved, but how certain is that?
wildbow: Probably would depend on their brain makeup & chemistry.
↑Simple lifeforms. If there were none above the water’s surface, I’d use the ones below. A glance above me showed one of the flying heroes above the water’s surface, watching. Good. We’d be able to coordinate an attack.
We were too far from the ocean floor for me to find crabs or lobsters, but there were others.
Krill. Two inches in length, at best. But they were alive, and I could move them. I could use them. Another swarm decoy, another combination attack. Something that- Excerpt from Extinction 27.5
↑The moment the wind died down, I bid the bugs to shift position, carrying the pages to me, sorting them into the appropriate order.
I bent down and began collecting the pieces of paper. I could feel the raised bumps on the pages as I brushed them free of specks of dirt and leaves. Each set of bumps corresponded with a letter or punctuation mark, which had been printed over the dots in thick, bold, letters. - Excerpt from Sting 26.2
↑ I’d taught myself braille, so I could read with my bugs, and take in more. -Excerpt from Speck 30.2
↑All around me, PRT employees were howling in pain, their cries silenced by the lack of an audio feed. Either the camera hadn’t picked it up, or Glenn had muted it. They thrashed. One reached for me, for the me on the screen, and I could see how I moved out of the way without even glancing at him. The swarm concealed me at the same time, briefly obscuring the Skitter in the video from both the man on the ground and the security camera. When it parted, she had shifted two or three feet to the left. A simple step to one side in the half-second she couldn’t be seen, but it misled the eyes.
And I couldn’t remember doing it. I’d never consciously added the trick to my repertoire. - Excerpt from Drone 23.3
↑“Whatever,” Panacea said. “Works for me, actually.”
Then she touched me, and the pain went away. I relaxed so suddenly I felt like I’d suddenly become part liquid. I’d been so tense my head wasn’t even touching the countertop, my legs and shoulders tense.
“Thank you,” I said. “Thanks.”
“You have a high pain tolerance,” she said.
“One of Bakuda’s bombs, way back when,” I said. “I think it messed with my head, as far as my perception of pain. I found out what it’s really like to feel pain, real ten-out-of-ten pain. A part of me knew it was too much to be true, and other stuff’s affected me more because I knew it was tied with something real. Case in point, a burn is still a motherfucker.”
↑ 100.0100.1"Arthropodokinesis, arthropodovoyance," the Deputy Director said. "She's on record as a master eight, thinker one. The thinker classification is key here: ex-Director Piggot noted Skitter can see through her bugs' eyes."
Director Tagg nodded slowly, then rubbed his chin again. The movement of his wrist against his armrest nearly killed the bug I had in between his dress shirt and jacket. "Agreed. I already informed each of my officers to treat her as though she had a two point classification in every category, or two points higher in cases where she's already received scores. Brute two, mover two… all the way down the list. It won't do to underestimate her." - Cell 22.1
↑Tagg slaps a '2 of everything' on Taylor because it gives full authorization for all special measures, and it's a constant reminder to his people that she's a threat in every department... Comment by Wildbow on spacebattles
↑TFS Is the fact that Taylor was trapped a reason why her Master powers act the same way as Shaker powers do?
soulpelt| do tell
Wildbow Yeah, there's overlap.
soulpelt| Taylor is needing help from being trapped in a sucky environment.
Wildbow Environmental stressor, thinker stressor, more thinkery shakery master power. - Wildbow on IRC, archived on SpaceBattles
↑“Will you state your name for the record?” “Taylor Hebert.” “Your date of birth?” “June nineteenth, 1995.” - Excerpt from Scarab 25.1 (this was later redacted by WOG)
↑“It’s the nineteenth,” he said. “Your birthday was a week ago.”
Excerpt from Monarch 16.7
↑Taylor's classes are an hour and a half long, or an hour and fifteen minutes long, IIRC, with a bit of extra time for homeroom announcements and whatnot. She arrives at the start of the day and goes to her locker, she gets shoved into her locker and she has time to get a glimpse of people looking - and enough time passes that she realizes that those same people who saw didn't take any action on her behalf. She's not really in a position to bang, facing in, too cramped to turn around.
Not so much time passes that the next class starts - or it's as the class opens that people realize what happened and that's when she's let out. Wildbow on Reddit
↑Wildbow: Generally the PRT will pay visits to likely triggerees - special cases, victims of extraordinary violence or disaster, etc. They paid a visit to Taylor in her hospital room, for example, though nothing came of that.
[Edit with afterthought: Crisis points, ftr] [...] Discreet: If she did get visited by a hero, I'd find it odd that she'd never mention it, especially when at one point or another she's fighting them later in the story or stuffing centipedes in their mouth