Fan Fic: Cenotaph

"You're saying I shouldn't take the credit," I said.
Im saying you have two options. Option one is to join the Wards, where youll have support and protection in the event of an altercation. Option two is to keep your head down. Dont take the credit. Fly under the radar."

How much of what I was doing, was I doing in the memory of my father? To make his empty grave a monument, a marker for the moment when the future of this city changed?

A Worm fanfic by notes originally written on the Spacebattles forums. Now with an Archive Of Our Own link. A sequel named Wake has been completed. Here. A third installment, Legacy is also in the works.

These works collectively comprise the Memorials series.


Cenotaphis widely considered one of the best Worm fanfics ever written, a very Original Flavor AU that emulates the original style so seamlessly that some consider it equal and opposite the original, with near-legendary status among the fans (some of whom consider it required reading along with the source material). The Hero to Wildbow's Villain- one that flows organically and naturally from a very minor divergence into a stand-alone plot that only resembles the original timeline in the very loosest sense.

An impressive feat by itself, what makes it even more impressive is the story is arguably darker than Worm.

In this timeline, Taylor did not give Armsmaster a definitive answer following their pivotal meeting. Instead, he offers her a chance to test the waters, and see if she would be comfortable dealing with Protectorate oversight. Unfortunately, this quickly leads to tragedy. Taylor wakes up two days later, a newly minted orphan. What follows is both an epic Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and a heartwarming exploration of Taylor's character, alongside the character of the Brockton Bay Wards, the Undersiders, and Taylor's other allies and enemies.

The plot makes full use of characters not fully realized in-canon to build a very different perspective of the gangs and happenings of Brockton Bay.

Warning: Full story provides spoilers for Worm.

This series provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Well, it wasn't abandoned when they got there, but the climax of Wake begins in one that has been taken over by the Slaughterhouse Nine, when Taylor goes to confront Jack about his offer before the fight moves out into the surrounding streets.
  • Adaptational Badass: Lung was always amongst the top villains, but he got sent to the birdcage in canon and stayed there until near the end. Here, he's one of the strongest villains who is considered able to fight an Endbringer and walk away.
  • Alternate Universe Fic
    • For Want of a Nail: The moment she goes for a ride-along before deciding, everything changes...
      • ABB are all but destroyed now.
      • New Wave takes out Coil so Noelle targets them and gets Brandish killed.
      • Grue and Tattletale join the Wards.
      • Mannequin tries to recruit Skitter rather than Armsmaster because of her ecosystem work with her bee farm and being the one responsible for manipulating the villains into killing off one another on top of popping out her eyes to kill Valefor earned her a probationary position from a second sponsorship from jack.
      • Jack dies this time by Skitter's hands, before he can cause the end of the world.
    • In Spite of a Nail: Aegis still gets crushed to paste in a Heroic Sacrifice against Leviathan and Armsmaster still gets several limbs amputated.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Flechette and Hookwolf's combined powers managed to take off Leviathan's hand. It's noted that was the most grievous wound an Endbringer had suffered to this point, and part of the reason that Leviathan retreated.
  • Anti-Villain: Skitter's recklessness has been drastically increased due to her personal losses in this timeline. But she remains, essentially herself. Namely, while she still has a conscience and a desire to do what's right, the death of her father causes her to go from a "merely" competent superhero to "quite possibly Big Good for all of Brockton Bay in order to avenge him." In all of... five weeks give or take a few days.
  • Badass: Skitter. She is a complete badass, and takes pains that nobody comes to realize this. Until it benefits her.
    • Lung as well. He knowingly walks into an ambush he knows was arranged by Skitter because he is confident he can survive. He is consistently ranked as someone who can fight the three most powerful heroes to a standstill. When he appears in a battle between the S9 and Hookwolf and Skitter, the two members of the S9 retreated.
  • Badass Bystander: Jack Slash gets repeatedly shot by random people during his duel with Skitter. This ultimately gets him killed.
  • Badass Family: New Wave, who managed to hold off against Noelle and the Travelers until Eidolon arrived.
  • Beneath the Mask: Taylor is very emotionally repressed due to the abuse perpetuated by Emma. This is played interestingly after she wakes up from her coma as she thinks she ought to feel more than she does- she's too numb to feel the loss, even though her father was murdered because of her.
  • Bilingual Bonus: This Taylor gets around town on a Vespa. Vespa is Italian for wasp.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Skitter and Hookwolf are locked in a stalemate with Mannequin and Shatterbird, only for a new combatant to step in and burn Shatterbird. Lung.
  • Break the Haughty: In her interlude Madison is rather stuck up and air-headed. When Jack kidnaps her and lays out what Madison said about Taylor (which Taylor is Not Amused about) she's tied to a chair, crying in terror, and has soiled herself.
  • Brick Joke: Girl Scouts.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Jack Slash uses a power nullifier courtesy of Bonesaw to shut down Skitter's insect control for a one-on-one powerless fight. A fight between a man with full-body biotinker augmentations and 10 plus years of combat experience and a 15-year-old girl who just lost key elements of her fighting style. It's still an even fight.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Taylor's well-intended actions ironically lead to Leviathan's attack being worse than canon due to the lack of capes because of all the in-fighting.
  • The Chessmaster: Taylor, by necessity due to having a power best suited to reconnaissance and spying. She plays to her strengths and gets her enemies to fight each other. Coil also counts, to a lesser degree.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Lung and Oni Lee vs E88 is horribly one-sided - everyone from E88 who doesn't run dies, while Lung is effortlessly beating them and Oni Lee only dies because of his failed suicide attack on Skitter.
    • New Wave rolls over Coil's entire base effortlessly with Skitter relaying intel in real time. It isn't even a proper fight.
    • Eidolon vs ... anyone really. His arrival was what made Leviathan retreat after losing a hand to Hookwolf. Against Noelle, with Sundancer and copies with New Wave's powers, Eidolon completely ignored their attacks and one-shotted them.
    • Burnscar vs Cherish. Cherish only realizes she was under attack for a moment- Taylor was holding two simultaneous conversations with her and Burnscar, and using the different emotions in each to obfuscate her intent. And the emotions-deadening aspect of Burnscar's power rendered Cherish virtually helpless. She never stood a chance.
    • Weld vs The Siberian. After tearing through everything else Bonesaw sent at him, the Siberian unceremoniously ripped Weld's head from his body. He gets better though.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place.
    • "I was similarly confident that he had pretty good focus no one gets to be a crimelord accidentally." The joke being- in canon, Taylor essentially did just that.
    • In Cenotaph, Taylor was given a low Tinker 3 rating- referencing Brian's comments in canon that her ability to create bug-themed equipment, or use her insects to create useful products, was a Tinker trait.
    • Insight(Tattletale) and Skotos'(Grue) swearing-in ceremony is interrupted by the arrival of the Nine much as Taylor's swearing-in to the Protectorate was in Worm.
    • Jack Slash makes an appearance at the war conference following the Nine's arrival in Brockton. This is a reference to how quickly he showed up after that same event in canon. Presumably, the absence of Leviathan's lake and island is the difference.
    • Taylor's outlook on religion comes up rarely, as in canon... but her outlook is cautiously optimistic instead of indifferent or pessimistic.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Lung. He immediately knew what Taylor was planning by telling him how to get to Kaiser and sent her after Coil. When he saw that she and Hookwolf were on the verge of forging an alliance, he pinned her as the one who killed Krieg and Cricket since no one took the credit for the kill, making it impossible to disprove for her. The fact that she actually did it only reinforced it.
  • Darker and Edgier: Both played straight and inverted. On one hand Taylor's father is murdered by Bakuda on the other, Taylor dosen't spend the first month of her cape career fighting for her life against both sides of the law.
  • Dead Man Switch: Bakuda had one so that when she died all of the bombs she had around the city had their timers switched on.
  • Defector from Decadence: Purity claimed to have left the E88 2 years ago because they were making things worse, and had been targeting other gangs to try to make things better. Victor believes that its because Kaiser was a lying and cheating manipulator.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Tattletale had no idea Taylor was behind the destruction of the ABB and later Kaiser's assassination. Finding out about it provokes a brief "Wait...what?" moment from her.
  • Dying as Yourself: Stormtiger, after turning into the newest Butcher, blows his own head off rather than remain trapped in the prison that's being controlled in that manner.
  • Emotionless Girl: Taylor has shades of this after she wakes up from her coma and finds out Danny was killed by Bakuda.
  • Enemy Civil War: Skitter gets quite good at stirring these up. Mostly, as a consequence of being a solo vigilante with a power poorly suited to direct confrontation.
  • Enemy Mine: Purity and Skitter teaming up to fight the ABB. Also, with Hookwolf (Now Fenrir) against the Shatterbird and Mannequin Up until Lung points out she killed Krieg and Cricket (the last one was an accident from Krieg's explosion). This leads to him wanting nothing more than to have her dead.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Taylor follows Coil home, discovers his secret identity and puts together the pieces of the puzzle at her disposal to come to the conclusion that...Coil is an infiltrator for the PRT. Quinn points out that's not the case.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Hookwolf was genuinely hurt when Cricket died. So when Lung pins it on Skitter, he's willing to let Theo take control of the E88 in exchange for bringing her to him since he can't do it himself.
  • Everything's Worse with Bees: Taylor got a bee-farm. She uses it well.
    A Thinker might be more dangerous, but if in doubt?
    More bees.
    • It didn't end well for Coil.
      Afraid Id rather you kill me. Quicker.
    • And no one can forget the bee blanket.
      I pulled the bees about me, and slept.
  • Eye Scream: Taylor pops out her eyeballs to be able to fight Valefor... and by that, I mean she popped them out, had insects chew the optic nerves out, and then put them in a case for safekeeping. Panacea had to re-grow them.
  • Fallen Hero: Taylor is even more reckless than in canon. This bites her hard when she kills Bakuda... and sets off her failsafe- this leads to a moment of My God, What Have I Done?.
    • Taylor considers herself something like this after the Bakuda arcs.
  • Foil: Just as Coil was manipulating both villains and heroes under two identities, Taylor is doing the same.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Crawler and Lung's battle ran the risk of making the former into an extinction-level threat, so if it hadn't ended when it did they would have authorized a nuclear missile strike.
  • Guile Hero: Skitter, 'natch. She gets most of her enemies to take themselves out and hides her true abilities under a Stranger/Changer classification.
  • Heel-Face Turn: In Legacy, Theo has tried to shift the E88 towards this direction, having them act as vigilantes who either recruit or send villain capes to the PRT... or kill them, but he's trying hard to avoid that last one.
  • Heel-Faith Turn / Heaven Seeker: An interesting example. In canon Taylor is a atheist. In Cenotaph, she comes to have a cautiously hopeful outlook on religion.
    • To think of them. I had no idea if there was an afterlife though some theologians were citing Glaistig Uaine as definitive proof but I liked to hope they were together again. Happy again.
    • I thought about it. A veiled warning that I could die? I knew that. There were worse things than death, I suppose. It was my last hope of seeing my family again.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: A literal example - Bakuda is killed by one of her own bombs.
    • By disabling Skitter's power, Jack kept her from seeing the random bystanders shooting him with her swarm-sense and therefore wasn't warned by his secondary power.
  • Imagination-Based Superpower: Uber's power allows him to do anything he set his mind to as long as he concentrates. Anything. In the hands of anyone else, it would used to its fullest potential while he's wasting it making webvideos.
  • Imagine Spot: Taylor has an interesting moment while talking to Jack Slash in which his face morphs into Jack Sparrow's in her mind. This is in part because she was blinded at the time, and trying to put a face to his voice.
  • Keystone Army: The ABB by virtue of Bakuda being stupid enough to ensure loyalty by implanting bombs into the majority of them and a Dead Man Switch. When she dies, she takes nearly the entire gang with her.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Skitter manipulates Lung and Kaiser into a battle to the death... and then ensures the one she thought would be harder to take down doesn't walk away afterwards.
    • Cherish manipulated Lung into fighting Crawler in order to keep them both evolving towards a very real world-ending threat.
      • Then Skitter gets Burnscar to off Cherish for her.
  • Meaningful Echo
    • Taylor to Amy Dallon, relating advice given to her early in the story, almost word for word. Taylor also gives Amy Dallon the same lunchbox she'd been given at around that time, stuffed with money like it had been for her.
    • Misconceptions 5.4:
    I will kill you. His (Lung's) voice caressed every word.
    Not here, and not tonight. (Skitter)
    "I will kill you." I wasn't sure if the buzzing really conveyed my tone, or how absolute a truth this was.
    He (Lung) smiled still, as Hookwolf vanished into the night. "Not tonight. And not with so weak a pawn."
  • Mundane Utility: Citrine uses her physics-breaking power to run in high heels.
  • Mythology Gag: Lung's love of Laz-e-Boys and fine sofas began in Cenotaph and has since become a running gag in many other Worm fanfictions.
  • Never Found the Body: Deliberately pulled by Taylor, when she kills Krieg and has the insects eat his flesh before getting rid of the bones to cover up her plans.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever happened between Taylor and the Colombians in Florida during the Time Skip between Wake and Legacy.
  • OC Stand-in: Very well done. Even Madison gets a time to shine...
  • Off with His Head!: Brandish decapitates Coil, on his request since it would be quicker. Taylor cuts off Jack Slash's head to make sure he's dead.
  • Original Flavor: Deliciously so.
  • Playing Both Sides: Lung accuses Taylor of this, and he's not wrong.
  • Poirot Speak: Krieg likes to use Herr and Frau when talking to other capes, but speaks otherwise perfect English. It's possible it's just an affectation.
    • Skitter later observes Krieg adopt a British accent while at his day job, and muses on whether the accents are genuine or not.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: After Taylor sets up the above Let's You and Him Fight situation, Lung reveals his genre savviness by referencing Yojimbo.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Brandish, who both took the time to listen to Taylor before acting on her information rather than dismissing it out of hand, and credited the PDT so that it looks better for them that they're investigating into their spy issue.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Not with Taylor. Once Quinn arranges for her to get a farm she becomes a rogue who is the world's only supplier of spider-silk, makes costumes for the PDT, create a Bee Vitamin Supplement, and produces her own honey.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Skitter deliberately aggro's all five remaining S9 members allow Amy, Weld, and Madison to escape the hospital.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: An exceptionally quiet and careful example of one by Skitter.
  • Secret Keeper: Only Lisa, Brian, Lung, Madison, and Amy know that Taylor is both Skitter and Tailor, and they keep it secret for one reason or another. Armsmaster and Piggot have some suspicion, but nothing concrete.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "I hate Illinois Nazis... and the ones here too, I suppose."
    • "But Crawler and the Siberian... nothing I could think of would stop them. We could entomb Crawler, probably. At which point he'd evolve burrowing, and then what?"
    • "And once he got here, I had no faith that he'd be deceived by this game of clones."
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Mimi (Burnscar) is still alive after the events in Wake, and it is mentioned that her case is causing a lot of trouble for the PRT in court.
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: Jack Slash enforced it using Cherish's emotion control. It's so strong that the Protectorate won't send in reinforcements to deal with the S9 because they can't risk the heroes killing one another off. Only when she's dealt with do they bring in the big guns.
  • Title Drop: As in Worm itself, the title is referenced in every arc, sometimes in a highly creative and subtle fashion.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Revenge is a hell of a motivator to grind levels in Badass, as Skitter shows.
  • Unflinching Walk: Lung, on his way to the fight with Kaiser. He steam-rolled over the others who came after him before he Scaled Up.
    And walking right down the middle of that road came a barefoot man, with dark jeans and a black longcoat. The half-set sun cast his shadow out before him, down the gentle slope towards the construction site and Kaiser. As he came onward, he opened that coat, revealing a chest entirely covered in elaborate tattoos.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: By the end of Wave Piggot believes that Taylor is the one manipulating events behind the scene and has no way of touching her or even 100% guarantee that she is the one doing it.
  • What You Are in the Dark: During her confrontation with Jack on the hospital roof, Jack tries to goad her into joining first by revealing what Madison said about bullying Taylor (while Madison is tied to a chair freaking out; then he plays on Taylor's need to save the city by offering to let her use the nine as a weapon against other villains. Taylor Madison and Jack are the only ones there. Taylor tells Jack to go fuck himself.
  • Worthy Opponent: Lung considers Skitter to be this, in his own way. He keeps promising to kill her for what she has done to him. Skitter later exploits this attitude to sit at the negotiating table on the truce-ground, despite the fact that only two people in the room even knew she existed before then.
    Skitter moves to sit at the table.
    Hookwolf: slams a hand on the table This is the big boys table. Take a booth."
    Skitter: "Lung will vouch for me."
    Skitter: "The first time we fought, I took his manhood. The second, the hand hed use to touch it."
    Lung: smiles, then inspects the nails on his regrown right hand: "I heal".
    Skitter: "Or ask Bakuda or Oni Lee. If you can get Glaistig Uaine out of the Birdcage to ask them for you."
    Lung and Skitter talk briefly, then Skitter sits down at the table. No one protests.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Bakuda implanted bombs into infants of the apartment complex she had taken over and had specifically engineered a time-bubble bomb to go off on a playground.
  • Xanatos Gambit: What Taylor intended with setting up the E88 vs Lung. If Lung killed Kaiser, then the E88 would fracture as it was the largest threat. If he failed, she would use the distraction to assassinate him. If Kaiser killed Lung in the process, that was good too.