Fan Fic / Worm: Shattered Glass

My name is James Shirakawa. I'm a parahuman, a person with extraordinary abilities. In any other time or place, this would be massive news. Headline-worthy. Today, I'm just another guy who grew up in the small town of Tutshill, UK, and the day of the week is Tuesday.
I hate my power. I believe I've mentioned that already.
—James Shirakawa, aka "Looking Glass"

Written by throwaawy, the oneshot Looking Glass and it's sequel Shattered Glass are a pair of Alternate Universe fanfics of wildbow's Worm. They take place primarily in South Wales and England around the River Severn.

Looking Glass is a Master-class parahuman with a superpower that allows him to summon a female version of himself as a spectral minion. A Psychic Link allows the two to share information with each other instantaneously and he primarily uses his abilities as a scout of for the rest of his group, a trio of more experienced 'capes': Flurry, Wu Lung, and Volley. Together, they deal with small-time crooks, low-level parahuman crimes, and... paperwork.

But Glass is keeping a secret from the others... his powers aren't quite what they appear to be...

Namely, he's keeping the fact that Jamie used to be an alternate universe version of him...then, she functionally died. And she's getting crazier by the week...

Looking Glass takes place several years earlier prior to the events of Worm, whilst Shattered Glass seems to take place concurrently with the source material. However, there is no real overlap between the stories other than a few cameos and references to world-wide newsworthy events. Instead events seem to deal with relatively 'low-level' superheroing and a cast of Original Characters. Overall the story is much Lighter and Softer than the source material, although not without it's conflict.

The two stories together provide examples of:

  • Alternate Universe: In-universe, the divergence point seems to concern the existence of James/Jamie.
    • Meta-example: One notable complaint for this fic is that it breaks canon where parallel universes cannot diverge any later than around 1981.
  • All There in the Manual: In the author's notes, in response to complaints of the setting sounding unlike either of the locations where they supposedly take place (the author is American), Shattered Glass has been said to take place in 'Glasstownsville', a fictional city-sized area positioned roughly near Chepstow.
    • Although it's implied, it's not really stated until the notes at the end that Jamie's paraplegia is a result of her power's manifesting.
  • An Ice Person: Flurry, natch. She can produce and shape snow from thin air, as well as harden it into ice given a bit more time and effort.
  • Barrier Warrior: Ajax's power is primarily this, which he uses to safeguard rookie capes-in-training.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Looking Glass and Poltergeist's final confrontation.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Despite being identical in age, James and Jamie still refer to each other as 'Big Brother' and 'Little Sister'.
  • Continuity Nod: Not many, but there are a few references to Worm
    • The Suits and the King's Men are mentioned as being the largest cape organisations in the UK.
    • Haywire—the first cape to breach dimensions and break into alternate universes—is brought up as a reference (and lampshade) to refute Looking Glass' concerns.
    • During an Endbringer attack, Flurry works side-by-side with Rime, another ice-based cape.
    • Karen's rescuer is strongly implied to be The Most Powerful Man in the World.
    • Poltergeist scoffs at the idea that Trigger-events are predetermined, saying anything that could do such a thing would be a God-tiered being.
    • Leviathan's attack on an American East Coast city most likely refers to the events of Worm's Arc 8: Extermination.
  • Could Say It, But...: Flurry explicitly wants James and Jamie to know that they'll be fine as long as Poltergeist never reappears.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Jamie is sidetracked from her patrol by a box of kittens.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Jamie's Parental Abandonment started a chain of events which led to her becoming Poltergeist.
    • Two for Flurry. One that caused her to dissolve the team, and one prior to that which led to her Trigger event.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: Inverted. Both Flurry's sister and Wu Lung are both alive in the Alternate Universe.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wu Lung mostly, although other characters toss in their own two bits.
  • Death from Above: Volley's favorite modus operandi, although usually with non-lethal ammunition.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Flurry, especially when concerning Wu Lung
  • Evil Twin: Looking Glass <-> Poltergeist.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Elaine has long been resigned to being called 'Sunny' by her younger sister Karen.
    "It's cuz she's got such a sunny disposition. Fitting, dontcha think?"
  • Fangirl: Karen is an unrepentant capegeek.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
  • Heroic Host: When James and Jamie merge together, their reflexes and collective field of vision are greatly enhanced, which aids them in melee combat.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: Wu Lung's main schtick. His powers allow him to manipulate the mass and density of objects he touches and transform them into 'Dancing Dragons'—which usually take the form of vaguely-draconic constructions that can spit fire.
  • LoveMakesYouCrazy/LoveMakesYouEvil: The jury's out on which one actually applies to Poltergeist.
  • Magnetic Weapons: Volley's weapon of choice is a variable-output railgun, used either as a direct-fire weapon at maximum power, or more often as a makeshift artillery cannon.
  • Me's a Crowd: Duplex's ability, doubly so when possessed by Poltergeist.
  • My Greatest Failure: Looking Glass considers Poltergeist's emergence as such.
    • Flurry for having led the group into an Endbringer fight in the time period between the two stories.
  • Nonindicative Name: Poltergeist is the one who can control people, while Looking Glass can juggle small objects. Unless they're in the opposite universe, in which case 'their' abilities are flipped. See Poltergeist below.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Poltergeist and Looking Glass both can assume the form of a 50cm tall, glowing blue spectre. Capable of flight, phasing through objects, and limited telekinesis.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Poltergeist trips this when trying to pull one over Flurry.
  • Parental Abandonment: Jamie. Somewhat justified, seeing as she had been in a coma for well over a decade and they had apparently exhausted all medical alternatives.
  • People Puppets: Poltergeist's application of her ability results in this.
  • Playing with Fire: Alternative application of Wu's power, he can convert a portion of mass of any object he touches into energy—usually fireballs.
  • Poltergeist: Looking Glass's power. Or Poltergeist's. Depends on where they are. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Posthumous Character: Wu Lung has been killed during the interval between the two stories, but he still receives characterisation through a Flash Back interlude and an Alive Alternate Counterpart.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Wu is not pleased when Flurry gets hurt.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Jamie latches on to Karen quite fiercely as her first real-life friend.
  • Start of Darkness: The first two arcs seem to be this for Poltergeist.
  • Twin Telepathy: Allows James and Jamie to share all of their perceptions, as well as thoughts and emotions.
  • Villain Teleportation: The supervillain Nightwalker is capable of using shadows as teleportation mediums. If you meet him in a poorly-lit room, prepare for Teleport Spam.