"There was no long-term, and trying to cling to one would only spoil it all."
This article contains spoilers regarding the ending of Worm and plot of the sequel.
"I'm guessing there's more that I don't know about?"
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I give people power, and I think there is a submissive kind of appeal to being a slave. To being numbed. Some fall for me like an alcoholic falls to drink. Love, after a fashion. In your case, that’s almost a defense mechanism.
Benjamin is an extremely long-term planner, setting up situations that unfold years down the line. In his interactions with Saint, Tattletale speculates that not only did Teacher fake having a son, but the actions Teacher took served multiple plans at once, from different angles, serving multiple agendas. Teacher himself claims that none of his plans ever failed.
Indeed, Teacher has supreme confidence in his own plans and abilities, often appearing smug in his interactions with others.
Teacher favors being in control, yet praises the value of submission to others, even genuinely believing his students are happier under his command. He frequently offers the use of his powers to others, and is not above lying to get his students to submit or to subsume his enemies. Nevertheless, Teacher is self-aware enough to call the time he spends under Khepri's control "karma."
Teacher is a fat, mundane looking man, with a red face and curly or wavy brown hair with a receding hairline, balding pate and beard. While Marquis finds him to be ugly,Taylor thinks he would appear at home in a classroom, if only he wore appropriate clothing. Teacher is later seen donning a dress shirt and khakis with penny loafers. At some point Teacher received cosmetic surgery.
He is often accompanied by his students, who dress in white outfits.
Teacher is able to give others an ability of his choice from a wide variety of Thinker and Tinker powers with a simple touch, with the disadvantage that the recipient becomes susceptible to Teacher's manipulation. In severe cases, his minions remained absolutely loyal to him as long as they had the granted powers. Teacher is able to intensify his power, making the granted ability stronger, but the power of an ability granted inversely correlates with diminished faculties in the subject, creating a dynamic where the more information a given 'student' possesses, the less able they are to express it. While Teacher has no constant connection to his students, he is able to sense both the power and the degree of influence he has over them. Teacher is able to change a student's abilities at any moment, but this becomes more difficult when an ability has had time to settle in.
In addition to his ability to grant powers, Teacher is able to modify existing ones, achieving more power at the expense of control, or vice versa. Teacher describes the process as first discovering the true nature of the power before using of a sort of hypnotic state to unlock it, likening it to a second trigger.
Teacher's power decays over time. There have been almost no cases where Teacher’s power lasted more than a few days without a refresher, with the brainwashing wearing off over a few weeks or months, but in at least one case the power remained active for several years without being refreshed, with the subject showing sign similar to addiction. Despite this, Teacher claims his methods are less invasive than actual brain tampering.
Teacher's students show a form of groupthink: While individual members appear normal at first glance, they actually work within a complex system, which Taylor compares to a RTS game or computer, with every individual carrying out a specific operation, gathered in clusters with people who communicate their ideas to others in efficient ways.
It is worth noting that Teacher does not give actual Tinker powers. Rather, he pushes his ability to grant mastery of a given subject just beyond the normal limits of theory and knowledge, using several people working in tandem to achieve low-quality Tinker products.
Outside of his parahuman abilities, Teacher is a highly educated man, having used his powers to create his own tutors. Teacher is learned in history, foreign affairs, management and internal affairs, intelligence, code-breaking, medicine and poisons, parahuman studies, accounting and trade, the sciences, the arts and strategy and tactics in military, government and business settings. In addition, he has learned from those who he called 'public speakers, flirts, con artists, actors, thieves, magicians, and cutthroats'.
Teacher is able to give a wide variety of mental powers, including:
Enhanced skill in an academic subject.
Enhanced proficiency with a melee or ranged weapon of a particular category.
Enhanced awareness of the environment or cause and effect in that environment.
Enhanced improvisational ability, either related to the use of objects as weapons or related to manipulating the environment (in the form of traps).
Enhanced abstract skill in navigation, direction, and intuiting the nature of the environment.
Enhanced skill in research, data gathering, understanding and memory retention.
Enhanced ability to pick up and retain skills. The user may suffer losses of old skills with the acquisition of new ones.
A limited ability to intuit either physical or emotional weaknesses in others.
Awareness of physiology.
Full sight from all angles of all things within range, in a 360 degrees radius around oneself, likely with a 300 feet range.
The ability to have a clairvoyant awareness, picking a distant location and seeing either static objects in said location, with moving and transient objects less or not visible, or seeing moving and transient objects clearly while having trouble with static objects.
The ability to focus on a target over a long period of time to gain information on them, similar to Tattletale, initially vague or intermittent but gaining more information with time. May be biased towards either the current state or past and future events.
Precognition, taking various forms, on a scale from short range and clear to long range and vague.
Psychometry, where the user can touch an object to get a sense of past events. Gives more clear information when associated with parahumans and those with a corona pollentia and living individuals.
X-ray vision, either with vague patterns and covering the full range of vision or clear with limited range.
The ability to see electrical signals, including insulated wires and brain activity.
The ability to see nerves, with a limited ability to manipulate them on striking or grappling the target.
Enhanced sense of smell, with associated tracking ability.
Enhanced sense of hearing.
The ability to hear radio and other wireless signals, but with limited interpretation.
Enhanced sense of touch, reading the position and movement of others through brushes of air on the skin.
The ability to detect parahumans and people with a corona pollentia, similar to Chevalier.
The ability to read and assess powers, although the ability may require time to use.
Becomes an accomplice of Teacher in Ward, post-Fallen battle, after being imprisoned. His Teacher ability allows him a greater level of control and less restraint on his powers by weakening his limits. Scapegoat can, in turn, pass on Teacher's influence to others via his power, like a contagious disease.
Benjamin Terrell started out as a cape specializing in renting out capes that could shape, limit or refine powers, or using his own power to do the same, although even early in his career, there was already suspicion of illegal activity. The number of clients dropped sharply once it became known that Teacher had a measure of influence on them, but Teacher's true face didn't show itself until he attacked a school, followed with a successful attempt to assassinate the vice president using his minions.
By 2006, Teacher had amassed himself a small army of college-aged men and women, but was also one of the most wanted capes in America. As such, Teacher moved to the United Kingdom, where he successfully plotted to kill the Prime Minister. Although Teacher claimed the assassinations were the setup for a larger plan, that plan was never set in motion. Teacher was arrested on "trumped up charges" and sentenced to the Birdcage, where he became a cell block leader.
As a cell block leader, Teacher attends the meeting where Marquis introduces Panacea, where he complains about Panacea cutting into his lieutenant's business. Marquis and Panacea offer Teacher a deal in return for an explanation of the Birdcage's security.
Teacher is present when the death of Alexandria is made public knowledge. Afterward, he has a private conversation with Lung, where he offers to modify Lung's power and reveals he has contact with Saint, who is outside the Birdcage. While he rejects the offer to modify his power, Lung agrees to become a bodyguard and to keep Teacher's secrets, while Teacher continues to work on the creation of a group of parahumans under his command.
Later, during Khonsu's attack, Teacher attends a meeting organized by Cauldron. He uses his power on Moord Nag to teach her English, and bargains for his release from the Birdcage, although he is quickly rejected. His attempt to pressure Cauldron by threatening to release information about the coming end of the world is immediately shut down by Contessa.
Teacher, together with some of his fellow prisoners, is released from the Birdcage during Scion's rampage. Unfortunately, Teacher, with a group of twenty to thirty other men, pretends to take control of a well-supplied alternate earth while using an unidentified device to block access to others. In fact, he is using this as a cover to take control of Dragon, although the device blocking transdimensional effects is not a fake, a fact Teacher uses to hide himself. Later, copies of the device are seen in the hands of the Yàngbǎn.
Teacher's students later take control of Khonsu, whose control Teacher gives to Cauldron, together with two of his thralls, Screen and Scanner, who assist Doctor Mother's use of the Clairvoyant. In return Teacher receives a partnership in Cauldron, as well as protection against his enemies.
Teacher returns Dragon to Defiant, although he places extra restrictions on Dragon before doing so. During the battle against Scion in Brockton Bay one of Teacher's minions distorts the memory of a trigger event vision so it can't fade. Although Teacher's goal in doing this is unknown, it does later help in the defeat of Scion.
Khepri pays a visit to Teacher, who is in an alternate version of Washington. She asks for a way to access the Earth where the Yàngbǎn are hiding, and Teacher gives it to her. As Khepri goes after the Yàngbǎn, Teacher warns the other heroes, including the Protectorate and Guild of her actions, at the same time, he talks to Contessa, taking control of some of Cauldron's contingency plans and asking for Contessa's aid in dealing with Khepri. He is seen during the final battle, giving the ability to speak to Doormaker. After the defeat of Scion, Teacher offers the same use of his power to the drained Khepri, but she violently refuses.
Following the death of Scion Teacher sets up multiple villains, helping them to become powerful by providing instructions to be followed. Imp speculates that Teacher does this to spread his chances, to be connected to someone in power if at least one of the villains succeeds.
Unbeknownst to the heroes of Earth Gimel, Teacher had methodically been laying a large scale trap for them in the form of pieces of correspondence or diaries or the like that were designed to undermine them, and their relationships with their teams. At the same time his alliance with Earth Cheit led to his ever increasing control over that dimension.
↑ 1.01.11.21.31.41.5All in all, there were twelve cell blocks with leaders. That meant that there were eleven leaders with eleven lieutenants arriving. Acidbath, Galvanate, Teacher, Lab Rat and Gavel were leaders of the cell blocks on the men’s side of the prison. Lustrum, Black Kaze, Glaistig Uaine, String Theory, Crane and Ingenue were the female leaders. There were other cell blocks, but twelve was generally agreed on as a good number. It left room for discussion without too much chaos, and it left enough cell blocks leaderless that they had elbow room to do business elsewhere. - Excerpt from Interlude 16.z
↑ 2.02.12.2Teacher nodded a little, but he continued, unruffled. “I’m looking to put together something bigger.”
“Than any of the teams currently in operation. Than any of the powers we’ve seen yet. Call it megalomania, if you will.”
“Why? Before you say anything, you should know that ‘because I can’ isn’t an answer.”
“It was never the answer.”
“You’ve done a lot of things, and everything indicates it was for that very reason. Cas Raul?” Ingenue asked. She was relaxing now, the guise dropping. - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑There were sub-menus. All visual. I clicked the frowny-face with the black background, then the little map for a world map… America. I clicked the map icon again for a national map… Washington.
I found Teacher’s portrait near the top of the results list. One of Washington’s most notorious capes. Right. I clicked it. - Excerpt from Speck 30.2
“Right,” Defiant said. “I don’t think it worked the same way it does in humans, but it did something.”
“Somehow, I have a hard time swallowing that,” Saint said.
“Yet you acknowledge there was a sudden, inexplicable shift in how her mind worked,” Defiant retorted.
Saint frowned. Long seconds passed.
“Well,” Saint said. “Whatever it was, we couldn’t keep up at that point. She was just getting into the Protectorate, and she had access to the work of other tinkers. She began creating tools, fixing and updating existing work, including the containment foam guns, the grenade launchers and all the other technologies that became PRT fundamentals. I went back to Teacher. Another deal, minimal cost, with a promise for evidence that he’s not going to do anything immoral with the money.”
“Stupid,” Tattletale said.
“Necessary. You wanted to hear about Teacher, not me. He was bigger, by that time. Had a small army at his disposal. All brainwashed. College-aged men and women in white uniforms, outfitted with ray guns and more. Shitty stuff, as far as tinker work goes, but a lot of it. Half of America was gunning for him, so he moved to the United Kingdom. I followed.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.2
↑ 5.05.1“Weaknesses,” Narwhal said. “He has more than the one?”
“His son. He’s divorced, and he left his son behind. Teacher’s never used his power on him. Might be a Manton-like block, might be compassion. Every step of the way, he protected his kid, tried to burn bridges, hide his identity, even got cosmetic surgery from one of his pet tinkers, to distance himself from the boy. Had his thinkers cover his tracks. They even got into our computers to scrub information.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.2
↑ 6.06.16.2“He planned this,” I said. “How much of it?”
“Enough. I’d bet the son was even a red herring. Maybe someone tampered with the data Saint had on Teacher, maybe not. The old equipment, the plans during the years he was interacting with Saint, all of it was serving a purpose. Or double purposes. Multiple plans at once, from different angles. Helps him put pieces together towards different agendas, builds up his rep, and makes Saint think Teacher’s invested in this stuff, when he’s really keeping quiet about his true desire.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.2
↑ 7.07.1No doubt they were organized by ability. Teacher could grant thinker and tinker powers. If I assumed at least one tinker per group, with the tinkers carrying some ranged weapon or defense, and if the athletic members of the roaming squads were the soldiers, gifted with some knowledge that would give them a small edge in a fight, there were still two or three members in a given group I couldn’t identify. - Excerpt from Speck 30.3
↑ 8.08.18.28.3“I’m not happy with him, though, and I can tell you what I know about him.”
“From the beginning,” Defiant said.
“I was just starting out, tracking and investigating Dragon, when I came across one of Teacher’s subjects. He gave me my in. Gave me the ability to learn the ins and outs of her code, like I was a genius who had a natural knack for it. That got the Dragonslayers started.”
“What did you pay him?”
“We didn’t. He started off by asking us for five percent of our earnings for the first five years. Mags, one of the Dragonslayers you’ve got in custody, she wasn’t cool with it. Teacher was shady, clearly doing some illegal stuff. He offered it as a freebie, we considered the issues, then decided to go for it. Just me. When word got out that Teacher actually had a measure of influence over the people he’d given powers to, we set up safeguards. Only me, and I’d teach the other two what they needed to know. Mags would double and triple check every discussion I had with Teacher, to make sure he wasn’t fucking with my head or setting me up to participate in something ugly.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.2
Enhanced awareness of environment/cause and effect in environment
Limited ability to intuit physical weaknesses in others
The power of an ability granted inversely correlates with diminished faculties in the subject and a 'candle that burns at both ends' duration, creating a dynamic where the more information a given 'student' possesses, the less able they are to express it. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑ 10.010.110.210.310.410.5“You explicitly let us know you were open for a meeting,” Teacher said. He didn’t look like a cape in the least. He was fat, for one thing, and he was ugly, with a red face and balding pate. “Don’t be coy.”
“Coy? No, let’s say we’re simply weighing our options and getting a lay of the land. Healing’s rare. More than one person picked up on the fact that her codename meant ‘universal cure’.”
↑ 11.011.1“I give people power, and I think there is a submissive kind of appeal to being a slave. To being numbed. Some fall for me like an alcoholic falls to drink. Love, after a fashion. In your case, that’s almost a defense mechanism.”
“A defense mechanism? I fall in love with you, you get the benefit of my power…” - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑He saw her open her mouth, and quickly added, “-until released by Benjamin Terrell. Who is public enemy number one, and I would guess is either going to die before the year is out or live to be two hundred.”
Teacher was a mundane looking man. If one were to put a argyle sweater and khakis on him and put him in a classroom, he would have looked well at home. He had a receding hairline, with curly hair that had been cut short-ish.
Crimes: conspiracy to assassinate the Vice President of the United States. Successful. Conspiracy to assassinate the Prime Minister of England. Successful. He picked big targets, took his time and was successful. Setting up his pawns and giving them the low level thinker powers they needed for observation and information gathering, for getting glimpses of the future or intuitively knowing how to hack or decrypt, or for knowing the weaknesses of their enemies and how best to hurt them.
Followers that remained absolutely loyal as long as they had the granted powers. - Excerpt from Extinction 27.3
↑ 14.014.1“Killing a man that prominent sets everything into motion. That motion lets me see things from different angles, filling in the blanks. I needed to do something big to disturb the dynamic enough that I could glimpse the real big picture and fill in the blanks.”
“Big picture. You’re talking about significant things, again. On par with killing a vice president and a prime minister.”
“This is a little more impressive. In any event, I got the information I wanted with my play, first the national death, then the international one, to see the effects and plot things out on the global scale. I was all set to act on it when I got arrested. I was left with years to think, to study and improve myself. I plotted our release to keep myself sane, and to keep things in motion. You are welcome for that, by the way.” - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑“You spend over a decade as a supervillain, put plans in motion, great and small, with a flawless rate of success,” Teacher said, “First bump in the road, and you get questioned.”
↑“You can’t cover every eventuality,” Ingenue said.
“My plans work,” he said, dusting himself off.
Her voice was hard. “If you want my help, fine. But don’t involve me in your lunatic schemes.” - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑ 17.017.117.2He’d had the best teachers around. Public speakers, flirts, con artists, actors, thieves, magicians, and cutthroats. He’d been educated in history, foreign affairs, management and internal affairs, intelligence, and codebreaking. He’d learned from the best in medicine and poisons, in parahuman studies, in accounting and trade, the sciences, strategy and tactics in military, government and business roles. He knew how to make things, and how to fake them.
Even in the little things, hobbies to some and unlikely careers to the foolhardy, he’d achieved some degree of competence. Music, singing, art, prose and dance. All it took was the right teacher, a hungry eagerness to learn, and time.
One could not lead, after all, with one eye closed. Some could lead while admitting some ignorance in one department or another, but he wasn’t some.
↑There were a lot of capes out there who didn’t like being made into puppets. I suspected that more than a few of them had been victim to it in the past. Yet others were used to being the ones in control. Lung, Teacher, the child surgeon. - Excerpt from Speck 30.6
↑ 20.020.120.220.320.420.5She did. He could intensify his power, scale up the strength of the ability with the effect on the subject, but hers was minor at best. He’d wanted assistance from a person, rather than an invalid. It had been good that her spirit had been broken when he’d found her. It meant she was more compliant in general, without being useless.
She’s happier now, he thought. She had been lost, and now she had direction, even if it was his.
That the precognition was barely set in made it easier to undo. His awareness touched on countless abilities, arranged in grids and rows in the background of his mind
There were caveats. Issues. He could grant a kind of specialty in a particular field, a mastery over a given subject. This was how he found his expert teachers, ironic as it was. It was also how he made his tinkers, pushing that mastery to the point that it went just beyond the normal limits of theory and knowledge. Doing it with enough people, putting them all on one task, and he was effectively a tinker himself, in a roundabout way. There were tradeoffs in needing personnel, and a lack of reliability in the end product, if he didn’t carefully check every step of the way, but he was a low level tinker in every field.
He could also grant a wealth of mental powers. Perception powers, powers that gave perspective, or peculiar forms of genius that operated by different rules. - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑ 21.021.1“I believe I can be useful to you,” Teacher said.
“You have nothing to give me,” Lung said. He bristled at the implication.
“You know how my power works, yes?”
“You make others smarter.”
“I turn others into lesser Thinkers, into Tinkers.”
“At the cost of their independence.”
“Not something I want,” Lung said.
“You have strength, good instincts on a primal level, and all the potential in the world. Yet you’ve failed here and there. You’re here, after all.”
↑ 22.022.1He sent one of his underlings into my reach. A boy with a shaved head and thick eyebrows.
I felt the underling’s body and powers unfold before me, and I could tell right away that there was something wrong.
My eyes told me one thing, my power told me another.
My eyes told me the man was just beyond the reach of my power, the boy following his orders.
My power told me that whatever the boy looked like, he was a half-foot taller, he had a beard, and he was loaded down with trinkets and tidbits. I recognized him by his power. He made thinkers and tinkers, granted powers.
He had three more, hanging back, watching. No doubt to help facilitate this ruse, whatever it was. To watch for people who could see through it, to watch his back.
He was putting himself in my power. Whatever he’d had his other self, his disguised underling or his clone say, he was making his offer plain and clear to me. He’d let me use his power on myself.
A chance to communicate, to fix something.
I sensed my bugs moving, shifting position without even moving a limb or wing. Before I even grasped what was happening, I was moving. I cut out with my knife, feeling like I was swinging madly into open air. - Excerpt from Speck 30.7
Teacher staggered a little, then muttered what must have been a swear word in that other language.
“Karma, I suppose,” he said, panting a little. “A… little nerve wracking there. I can’t help but notice you didn’t pursue with yourself, while you had me in command.”
There would be no way to use the power without leaving myself open to Teacher’s influence. No, I wouldn’t be able to get myself a voice this way. Not if it affected my ability to make decisions. Not if it left a lingering window open.
These people who’d taken his promise of a lifetime of power, no strings attached, had been misled. - Excerpt from Speck 30.3
↑ 24.024.1Teacher nodded. As much as he wanted to rest and get his bearings, he had to keep moving. “Saint?”
A student in the corner turned. It took him a second to muster the functions needed to reply. “Sir?”
“Dragon’s code. Any changes? Anything significant?”
↑ 25.025.125.225.3Teacher and Teacher’s coterie emerged, with Dragon following. The man had a receding hairline, wavy brown hair and a beard. He’d donned a dress shirt and khakis, with penny loafers. Not usual supervillain attire. - Excerpt from Interlude 28
↑ 26.026.1A cape in wizard attire spoke up, “The Doctor is dead, I believe?”
Contessa nodded. Odd, that she couldn’t bring herself to feel badly about it. Was it because she’d spent so long trying to achieve something and she’d failed, or was it because she’d lost respect for the Doctor like she’d lost respect for herself?
If she were an outside party, she was forced to admit, any outside party, she wasn’t convinced she would be able to be upset over her own death.
“We need your help,” the wizard said.
She nodded. “Whatever I can provide.”
“First, we need information.”
“Were there any other plans Cauldron had in the works?” he asked.
“Nothing substantial. I can show you the tertiary plans.”
“Please do. Did Cauldron have plans for if humanity failed?”
“We’ll need to see those as well.”
“Something this big, it has to carry on somehow. I’ll need a second in command.”
“Me?” she asked. Her eye moved to the man in the horned helmet.
“He’s his own man. A wild card.”
“I see,” she said. More kids in white were streaming from the room.
“Trickster, stop. You’re with me. We might need help navigating some of the trickier areas, if the damage to this place is extensive enough.”
One boy stopped where he was, stopping beside Teacher, a dull and unfocused look in his eyes.
Teacher turned his attention to Contessa, “Whatever happens in the next few hours, we need to be there to pick up the pieces. That was a factor in Cauldron’s plan, wasn’t it?”
“I don’t have much of a role,” Contessa said. “I can’t do anything when Scion’s on the table.”
“To the contrary,” Teacher said. “We very much need your help, or we might.”
She narrowed her eyes. “With?”
“Saving us from ourselves,” he said. “Case in point, we’ve got a crisis that involves one little lady I think you’re familiar with.”
He held up his phone. A picture was displayed.
It took her a moment to recognize the person in the picture, and not because it was an unfamiliar face.
↑ 27.027.127.2I could sense his power, and I could sense his general awareness of the people he’d affected. There was no constant connection between him and them, nothing like I had over my bugs or my subjects.
I moved another over to him, and I used his power on them.
There was a connection then. It only took a little bit of time, and focus on Teacher’s part. I could sense both the power taking hold, and the frailty, the weak point that manifested at the same time. There was a duality.
I let go of the subject, and I could feel that frail point linger, decaying by the smallest fraction with every passing moment. That was what Teacher sensed, an awareness of both the power and the degree of influence he had over the subject. - Excerpt from Speck 30.3
Rounding out their group were two individuals. ‘Scanner’ and ‘Screen’. Not hers. Teacher’s students. Loaners, part and parcel of her ‘payment’ for Khonsu.
Teacher had once specialized in renting out capes that could shape, limit or refine powers, or using his power to do the same. Thinkers would go to him for a subordinate capable of ridding them of their perpetual migraines, or capes would seek him out to achieve more power at the expense of control, or vice versa.
That second half of his business had faltered as people learned of his ability to manipulate his students… and his clients.
Teacher’s payment for Khonsu had been a partnership in Cauldron, as well as protection, should one of his enemies come after him. He’d sent some of his students to the Doctor in efforts to make himself indispensable, and Contessa had verified that there were no traps.
One caveat to two-six-five’s ability to grant visions was that it left the recipient on bedrest for a week, dazed and weak. It was potent, capable of viewing wide areas or multiple things at once, viewing other universes, whole cities, anyone or everyone. But the drawbacks made it impossible for her to use the service.
Screen was a means of absorbing the drawbacks, allowing communication between the people in two-six-five’s network. He took the brunt of the images, allowed her to focus more readily, a router of sorts. He allowed Doormaker to handle requests without it taking her attention off what she was viewing. It meant the Doctor was lucid, recovering with every second.
She could spy on everyone.
And with Scanner, she could read them. Draw conclusions as to their thoughts, their brain patterns. - Excerpt from Interlude 28
↑ 29.029.1There was no conversation in Teacher’s cell block. The residents were neat, tidy, and well groomed. Some seemed functional, reading on their own or watching television. Others were more disabled. Lung could see one individual rocking in place, tapping something out on a table. Another was walking in small, tight circles.
“My groupthink,” Teacher said. “Rest assured, I wouldn’t subject you to something this grave. We would dig deep enough to discover the true nature of your power, fast enough that you didn’t feel the side effects at their worst. Then we would use what is effectively a hypnotic state to unlock your power as it truly should be, effectively a second trigger event. If Amelia is right, the entity that grants you your power will resist… but we can get around that.” - Excerpt from Interlude 22.y
“No idea. Maybe he wanted a safe place to work on a trump card with zero distractions. Going by his modus operandi, though, yeah, I think he betrayed us. Not a big betrayal, but that’s one world where we moved a hell of a lot of supplies in”
I nodded, pursing my lips.
“Saint’s upset, to put it mildly. We ran the data. Apparently he crossed paths with Teacher at some point a few months before Teacher’s incarceration. There have been almost no cases where Teacher’s power lasted more than a few days without a refresher, and the brainwashing wears off over a few weeks or months, so yeah. It’s not that.”
“Saint wants something from Teacher? A power?”
“Probably. Anyways, Teacher had a few of those devices made. Four portals in all that particular interest groups claimed and locked down, using these switches, wanting worlds all to themselves. No major players in the bunch, no sign of any greater conspiracy. Defiant was all too happy to bring Saint into custody, and we’re kind of hoping to get a response out of the man. That’s problem number one.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.1
↑ 31.031.131.231.3“Just brilliant,” Tattletale said. “Hand yourself over to the mind-altering lunatic.”
“The lunatic bit came later. The attack on the school. Then the hit on the vice president. Once he was implicated, it all changed. Can’t deal with a motherfucker like that in good conscience. We cut contact.”
“But something changed,” Tattletale said.
“We were dealing with harder jobs, more capes in general out there, and our gear was getting beaten up. Fine, okay, we can deal. Until Dragon changed. All at once, I couldn’t read her code on the same level. Like gears changing on a bike.”
↑“That’s the funny thing about pity, Saint. It’s condescending by default. Teacher got you hooked like a dealer does. You’re craving the hit that’s going to make your little Dragon-centric world make sense again, and you’re rationalizing without realizing you’re doing it. I can’t quite figure out how much of that is his power and how much of that is you, and I’m not sure which of the two is sadder.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.2
↑“Because it involves tampering with your brain,” Teacher said. “My offer is… less invasive. We can break down that barrier, give you the ability to control when you change.” - Excerpt from Interlude 22 (Donation Bonus #1)
↑There were nods all around. Teacher walked over to another table, lined with tinker weaponry and other tools. His students were loyal, but they weren’t puppets, like mine were. Their movements were natural. The overall system, though, wasn’t natural at all.
I was put in mind of Regent’s games. There was the base of operations, the cluster of villagers managing the city, and there were the more independent squads of people, deployed to the world beyond the base camp, patrolling for enemies, ready at a moment’s notice to be gathered together in a massed attack. - Excerpt from Speck 30.3
↑Heads in every second group around the base turned. They looked my way, as if they could see the full five or six city blocks and see me standing in the middle of the road.
One crossed to another group, touching a young man.
“Weaver,” the young man said, in turn.
It’s like a computer. Every person carries out a specific operation, and they’re gathered in clusters with people who can communicate those ideas to others in efficient ways. - Excerpt from Speck 30.3
↑Saint Tinker 0, maintained understanding of Dragon's tech via. Teacher - parahumanList, bolded edit by Wildbow.
↑ 37.037.1“Good, good.” Teacher led Lung to one TV in the row. “Trickster?”
Lung arched an eyebrow. Trickster… the name rung a bell. It didn’t matter.
“Connect,” Teacher said.
Trickster reached up to the power button on the television, then began a sequence of turning it on and off, with very specific pauses. A code.
The sequence was still going on when Teacher said, “Stop. Leave it on.”
The screen showed a face, the image grainy, flickering. The face had a tattoo of a cross on it.
“Lung, meet Saint,” Teacher said.
Lung didn’t answer.
“He speaks when we give him something to say,” Teacher said. “But I may have been too eager to find a way of contacting the outside world, and I’ve irritated him. Saint explained what happened. The PRT showed him Dragon’s equipment, asked if he could commandeer it, and Saint found an opportunity to insert a discreet backdoor. He has a channel in, a way to observe, but our channel out is poor at best.” - Excerpt from Interlude 22.y
↑No, packbat’s right. My answer was originally that Amy got the info from the Undersiders, but I was in the middle of getting ready to watch Game of Thrones when I said it – a mental slip.
↑The beam hit the surface of the portal, and only a fraction passed through to strike Scion from behind. Enough to kill someone, enough to kill me, if the beam had happened to touch any of my control portals, but even so, the portal itself took the brunt of the impact.
Doormaker staggered beside me.
The portal was wiped out. Without any barrier in the way, the beam radiated forward to wipe Ash Beast, the cape with the pole, Trickster, and Othala from existence. - Excerpt from Speck 30.5
Lung watched Teacher’s expression change as he considered the idea. The man seemed so ordinary, so unassuming. To hear the man talk about it, he’d been one of the foremost criminal masterminds until the heroes trumped up charges against him. - Excerpt from Interlude 22.y
↑ 42.042.1“You’re cutting into my lieutenant’s business,” Teacher said. “I won’t take that well.”
“Competition is the best thing in the long run,” Marquis replied. “But maybe we can extend you a discount for your troubles?”
“Um,” Amelia spoke up. All eyes turned her way. “A silly question, but if my dad says it’s okay, maybe we can offer a deal, in exchange for an answer?”
Marquis suppressed the urge to frown. “I think we could.”
“I know the answer’s no, but nobody really talks about it outside, so I’m not sure why… but with everyone we’ve got in here, why can’t we break out?” - Excerpt from Interlude 16.z
↑“No,” Teacher cut him off. “You want the real answer, healer? It’ll cost.”
Amelia nodded. Marquis suppressed yet another urge to cringe.
“Measuring devices are scarce down here, so we don’t have the full picture, but there’s a solid running theory on why we can’t just teleport out or fly through the vacuum and punch our way through the side of the mountain.”
“Do tell,” Marquis said. It doesn’t matter in the end, but this is the first I’ve heard of it.
“Size warping technology. The device might be no bigger than a football, and that’s hidden somewhere in the middle of the rocky mountains. The warping apparatus would be bigger, but there’s nothing saying it’s anywhere close to the actual prison. Reason we can’t break out is because we’re in a prison no bigger than your fist. And if all of this is only this small,” Teacher held up a fist, then tapped it against the nearest table, “How far are you going to have to dig or teleport to get through a surface this thick? Or through something as thick as that wall over there? Or a hundred feet of lead with gallons of containment foam on the outside?”
“Okay,” Amelia said. “I understand. Thank you.”
That could have gone worse, Marquis thought. It’s depressing, but it could be worse.
Teacher shrugged. “Thank me with healing for my cell block.”
↑“Then you agree? I should tell Saint to bury the information, maybe push events here and there, if it means we could go free?”
“And your power? If I-”
“My power will be left alone,” Lung said. “It is enough. If you want a bodyguard for a time after we’ve walked free, you will have it. I will keep your secret about this Saint for now.”
“Alas,” Teacher said. “But I’ll take the offer. By the time this comes through, I’ll have a small army of parahumans at my disposal. Some will be… under my sway, but I’d rather have your feral instincts to offset my own wit than have you as a slave.” - Excerpt from Interlude 22.y
↑“I gave you the ability to understand and speak English,” a man in the group of twelve said. “It wouldn’t cost you anything to use it.”
“Ek sal nie jou tong gebruik nie, vullis,” the woman replied, her voice still quiet, though it was flecked with anger, just a bit of an edge.
The man sighed, “Well, I could use my power on everyone else here, but somehow I don’t think the offer would be accepted.” - Excerpt from Scarab 25.5
↑“We all have people we’d see freed,” the man who’d spoken about granting the ability to speak English said. “Let’s say two for each of us.”
“Thirty six in all,” Dragon said. “One in five of the people currently in the Birdcage, almost. Six more could potentially use the opportunity to slip out, through Stranger powers or other malfeasance. Glancing over the notes my artificial intelligences have made regarding the facility, I can guess who some of the cell block leaders would choose to release. No. I harbor concerns about the Birdcage, but this is not the answer to that.”
“It would do more harm than good,” Chevalier said. “And I say that with full knowledge of what we’re up against here, today. The last three days.” - Excerpt from Scarab 25.5
↑“I see,” Marquis said. “Unavoidable, I take it. And if I were to share the particularly valuable information that you and I both know, that you don’t want me to share with others who are present?”
“I can’t believe I’m not getting in on this,” Tattletale whispered to me.
Doctor Mother didn’t reply. She remained still, her eyes on Marquis, as the woman in the suit, who she’d called Contessa, leaned in close, whispering.
“You won’t,” the Doctor said, when Contessa had straightened and stepped back, standing guard behind the Doctor’s chair.
“You won’t. Teacher would, hearing that, but Teacher has a secret he doesn’t want divulged, and he now knows we know.”
Marquis turned, his shadow shifting, presumably as he looked at Teacher. He turned back, “Ah well. I suppose I’ll just say we’re here if you need us.” - Excerpt from Scarab 25.5
↑I glanced at the image, but I didn’t see anything out of place. People in the crowd, tired, worn out. A middle-aged man with a group of male teenagers and other men aged twenty to thirty.
“I don’t see it,” I said.
“You will,” she said. She resumed the video.
I watched the man she’d pointed out. Familiar, but not overwhelmingly so. Nobody I knew.
The crowd flowed through the portal as a mass. Up until the man I was watching stopped, turning around. The men and boys from the group around him did too. They became obstacles, standing against the stream of bodies. - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.1
↑ 50.050.1Defiant turned to give Tattletale a curious look. “Lie?”
“That he waltzed into another Earth and locked himself in. He never left. Or he left and then he walked right back out the second he could make a gate. Probably the former. Easier to do a hologram or dress up a minion to look like him than it is to make a door between universes.”
“Where is he, then?” Defiant asked.
Tattletale stretched, then took a seat on the edge of the desk. “What, or who, were we just arguing about? Quite possibly the most dangerous piece of technology we know about?”
Defiant went still. His head lowered until he was staring at the laptop.
“We established that Saint is nothing special. What Teacher gave him, he can give to someone else. Or ten someone elses.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.2
↑“You will not be taking charge of all of the Endbringers,” the Doctor said. “Teacher emerged with a small force at his disposal. He defeated the Protectorate squads that were deployed at one empty location…”
“The place Khonsu or Tohu were supposed to appear,” Tattletale said.
“Quite. It was Khonsu. The Endbringer has imprinted on Teacher’s group, and he has offered to sell that squad, along with the Endbringer, to a sufficiently wealthy buyer. We agreed, if only to keep this from becoming a monopoly on Endbringers.” - Excerpt from Cockroaches 28.5
↑Dragon’s body, in turn, was cobbled together from scrap metal. Truck parts, car parts, some rusted. Her head hung low. A dragon, but not a noble one.
“Oh my god,” Canary said, her voice a hush.
“You’re a bastard, Teacher,” Defiant said.
“You’d be surprised,” Teacher responded. “Saint. Hello. I honestly didn’t expect you to be here.”
“I revived her, for one thing. Not the easiest thing in the world to do with the amount of encryption we were talking about. I don’t know if I said, dear Dragon, but I do think your creator did love you in the end. He could have made it harder to break. I think he did want you free in the end.”
Defiant looked down at Dragon’s head, then clenched his fists.
“Ironic,” Teacher said.
“I would like you…” Defiant said, pausing as if to compose himself, “…to please tell me what you did.”
“Nothing. Nothing important, anyways. I imposed a restriction. Nothing more.”
“Only that she wouldn’t attack me, or condone attacks against me.”
Defiant didn’t move an inch, not even seeming to breathe.
↑I opened my eyes, and I saw the scene from the vision. Scion standing in the middle of the settlement, blood and brains dripping from his hand.
The two words continued, as if in the background, distorted as I turned my head.
It was one of the capes that had arrived with Crane. He was doing it, distorting the memory.
Making it so the memory wouldn’t fade.
Let me forget, I thought. I don’t want to know this. Let me be ignorant, fight to the end. - Excerpt from Venom 29.2
↑“Teacher asked me to bring him,” she said. “That is not one of mine.”
So many plays. So many big players.
I felt a welling anger, frustration, a note of hopelessness I hadn’t felt before. - Excerpt from Venom 29.2
↑The plan had been simple. Thanks to Teacher’s underling, I’d been able to retain my memory of the trigger event. Scion had censored the most pertinent details, but he’d left one vital weak point in the midst of it.
He’d analyzed us as a species. He’d seen how we functioned, the strategies we could employ, and he’d set himself on a path.
But that path, I was almost certain, was predicated on the idea that we couldn’t work together, that we couldn’t bring our full strength to bear. We were too chaotic a species.
He’d made one mistake I knew of, he had predicted a future where he would meet his partner and then pursued that future, only to meet the brain-dead version that was in Cauldron’s base. - Excerpt from Speck 30.5
↑I took hold of Doormaker’s hand, and I moved it to my belt, hooking his fingers through it. Then I used my hand to take hold of the clairvoyant’s.
My awareness started to unfold. A slow, steady, gradual process. I was aware of vast tracts of land. I could see the damage done to Earth Bet. It disoriented me, to see how we were in Washington, not New York. Teacher had returned home. Why had I thought we were in New York? - Excerpt from Speck 30.3
“Understand, it wasn’t spiteful on my part,” Teacher said. He lapsed into the other language for one moment, “…I gave them the switch in the hopes it would stop the incursions and curb honestly. They were supposed to lock themselves away, but they held on to it, apparently intending to use it if anyone retaliated. An ingress, a portcullis, if you will. A way to raise the drawbridge and prevent passage into their castle.”
At my order, some of his students gestured with their guns, prompting him.
He seemed to take the threat in stride. “The one with a white button.” - Excerpt from Speck 30.3
↑More doors opened, and more of the ones I’d collected continued to appear.
Teacher was making his way into Cauldron’s base, walking past the heroes at the doorway like he belonged there. He was talking into his phone, mocked up to be like a PRT-issue phone, and the communication was going to every major member of the Protectorate and Guild.
I could see people throughout the crowd. Protectorate members, team leaders of the Wards. They were tense. - Excerpt from Speck 30.4
↑I could see my blonde friend with the portal man, talking to people. Talking to… what was his name? The one who gave thinker powers. Teacher.
He’d given the portal man the ability to talk.
A power I was afraid of taking for myself. Because I couldn’t lose even an iota of willpower if I was going to make it through this. Because I couldn’t fall into his grasp. Because I was afraid of finding out that even he couldn’t help me. - Excerpt from Speck 30.6
↑Nero gave the youths a wary look, then broke into an explanation, rushing a touch, “Teacher. He gave me the plan, told me what to do. So long as I follow his game plan, I get supplies I can’t get with my power, stuff you’d need forged. Documents and hard cash. He unlocked my power, too. Used to be I could only make a few things. Darts, I know where my stuff is, so I could tag people, track-”
“You’re rambling,” Imp said. “Rambling is good. Better than playing stupid. But maybe focus a bit, here.”
“The game plan,” Imp prodded him.
“He gave me guidelines. There’s a whole list of things I have to do, times to do them. I send in weekly reports, he sends me updated instructions. I, um. I’m not the only one. There are others. He told me he knows there’s no guarantee I’ll work out, so the instructions differ, and so do the people following them. If one of us succeeds, he steps up the rewards, helps us become even more powerful. We fail or we tell someone, and we’re on our own.”
“And, so long as someone succeeds,” Imp thought aloud, “He’s connected to someone in power.” - Excerpt from Teneral e.2
↑“A shapeshifter,” Ingenue said. “Do I know you by another face?”
“I wasn’t in the Birdcage,” the viking said. “Satyr.”
↑He stopped. He’d turned, and she wasn’t there. Invisibility wasn’t one of her powers, but-
The dressing gown flew into the air, draping itself over the top of the dragon-print folding screen in the corner. She was on the other side.
“I see you’ve decided that you’re coming.”
“I’m bored,” she said, from behind the screen. “They can give me my art, good food, entertainment, chaperones to plays, but I want one thing, and they won’t give him to me.” - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑The blinking light turned yellow, then green. A mist erupted around the pad. The foam that bound it in place broke down. It skidded across the floor, propelled by small wheels.
Teacher let himself topple. His shoulder hit the teleportation pad. Crackling swept over the length of his body.
His students were waiting as he appeared on the other side, dragging him off. - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑In the silence, he could hear footsteps behind him. He, Satyr and Ingenue were joined by a third person.
Teacher spoke without turning his head. “You’ve seen this video already, I expect?”
“Yes,” Contessa answered.
Lung tore into the casing, much as he’d torn through the vault door.
There was a scratch as Lung’s claw touched glass.
He tore at the metal, peeling it away while preserving the glass.
There was fluid inside.
The light caught the glass, at first, obscuring the contents.
A baby. Male. With large ears and a large round nose. Not attractive, as babies went. - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑“Your daughter is an adult. Capable of making her own decisions. I was going to bring her up later.”
“You’re not winning me over, Teacher.”
“I’ll make you a deal. Let me make the offer to her. She accepts or refuses it herself. If she says no, I leave it be and find someone else. Either way, you respect things with your silence. I won’t take any action against you, but I can’t promise my partners will be so polite.”
“Mmm. A counteroffer. I make the offer, as you outlined it here, and she decides from that.” - Excerpt from Teneral e.5
↑“We caught wind of the plot when we traced Cheit’s people and they turned out to be Teacher’s. He was responsible for the attack on the portals and for the attack on this prison. It didn’t feel like he went all-out, even if he did it smart. He wanted the prison sealed off so he could collect everyone within, and we think he wanted Goddess with them. She slipped the trap.” - Excerpt from Interlude 9.z II
↑“Glaistig Uaine might see things, but she isn’t usually wrong,” Galvanate said. “She says the kid has power? Fine. Our issues are the usual. The dentist in cell block T charges a small fortune, and we’ve got some toothaches. Can you heal that?” - Excerpt from Interlude 16 (Donation Bonus #3)