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Nightmare Fuel: Worm
Nightmare Fuel? Take your pick.
  • The bullying of Taylor at Winslow High. You know that bit on the main page that says, "the story shifts away from the hellish landscape that is contemporary high school towards the more uplifting setting of a bombed out city at the mercy of a roving band of psychopaths"? That's not a joke. When you read Taylor's account of torments that the three bullies inflicted upon her that she gives to the school officials in Hive 5.4, you don't have to wonder why Skitter seems so unfazed by the horrors described on the rest of this page: no situation that Skitter finds herself in since can surpass the level of combined horror and helplessness that she escaped from when she joined the Undersiders.
    • The bullies' attitute makes it even worse: they honestly feel entitled to treat her like that. Sophia fully expects Taylor to take the abuse without any kind of escape, and straight-up assaults her partially as "punishment" for having a way out of the pain, as well as for getting her suspended.
  • The Endbringers: Unstoppable, enormous monsters whose only goal is too kill as many people as possible. At their current rate of attrition they should destroy the world in several decades.
    • Leviathan is a thirty-foot tall monster with macrohydrokinesis. Let's repeat that, he is a macro water user. He has sunk entire landmasses, has destroyed entire cities, has creates tsunamis on cue. There is also a severe water crisis in the Wormverse because he is specifically aiming for and destroying sources of fresh water in the world. He is also impossibly durable, strong, and utterly relentless. Did I mention he also has super speed? When he first shows up in the story, a half a dozen capes are disabled within seconds. During the attack on Brockton Bay, the strongest capes in the world barely slow him down, and he destroys half the city, killing over forty parahumans. This is considered a victory compared to what he usually does. He may actually have the highest body count among the Endbringers as he has killed millions of people in one day. He destroyed Newfoundland in 2005, and not just the settlements on it; he actually sank the entire island in a day, and this is not the most destructive thing he's done. Despite all of this, he is seen as the weakest of the three.
    • Behemoth is a forty-five foot tall horned abomination with dynakinesis, and is the only confirmed 10 on the Brute scale. Which means he is pretty much invincible and he can turn any attack into energy that he can use against you. He can scream so loud, people are torn apart. If you get too close and he notices you, you combust. He also produces deadly radiation all of the time. This thing has killed more heroes than anything else, and turns the areas he attacks into a radiated wasteland before too long. The battle plan the heroes have when he shows up is basically to hit him from a long distance away and try their best to slow the thing down while praying for Scion to show up.
    • The most feared of the Endbringers is the Simurgh. A creature that appears as a freakishly tall woman with a countless number of wings fanning out from her body, some fanning out from other wings.  While she is a telekinetic powerful enough to toss buildings around, that's not why she is feared. She is the world's only telepath and is a precognitive so powerful she might be approaching omniscience. Unless you are a precog as well, or a certain class of thinker, she knows every single thing you will try against her. Every attack seems to miss, and every counterattack seems to hit. She is also telepathically screaming in the heads of everyone in her range. Imagine a voice screaming so loud that it is impossible to ignore and paying attention to it only causes it to distort and rise in volume. If you remain in her presence it gets even worse, becoming a very fast pattern that drives you temporarily insane. Emotions get ramped up, your inhibitions are lowered, and you have terrible flashbacks to old traumas. A canary literally smashes its head open when it hears the Simurgh's scream. But the worse thing is her precognitive powers. To quote one victim, "Every time she shows up. Every time, people who've heard this song that's in our head? Things go wrong. They snap, they break, their lives fall apart, or they do something, and it makes something else happen, and there's a major disaster. That guy who was supposedly making a clean energy source that could power whole cities? His wife and kids got killed and he became a supervillain who made it a life goal to murder anyone who tries to better society with their powers. There were others. Over and over, every time she shows up. She never does quite as much damage as Leviathan or Behemoth, not right away, but stuff always happens later." In other words, if you are in her presence for too long, you could have been chosen by her to play a role in making the world a worse place. While the extent of the damage she has done has not been revealed, it is very telling how freaking terrified/paranoid the world is of the people who who are in her presence for too long. They have killed trusted heroes, condemned the cities the Simurgh has attacked, and forced large numbers of survivors to basically become second class citizens for the rest of their lives in fear of what she could have them do. For quite a while, fans considered her the Big Bad of the Wormverse, and her machinations have already nearly destroyed the world. And the quarantine countermeasures are incorporated into her plans anyway.
      • She also can emulate tinker abilities through her future sight to the point where she can literally make anything. Including a device capable of upgrading Leviathan...
    • The fourth Endbringer, Khonsu. Not a physical fighter like Behemoth or Leviathan, nor a planner like the Simurgh. He teleports vast distances (as in halfway across the planet) to get from place to place, making him almost impossible to pin down. He can create fields of accelerated time that cause people to die of old age in seconds, and can be used to massively speed up his natural regeneration. In his first appearance, rather than the usual tactics of appear, fight until injured, and leave, Khonsu simply teleported away each time things got bad for him. The first fight against him lasted for days.
      • The people inside are basically trapped absolutely, and starve and die. People outside get to watch this happen on fast-forward.
      • The time acceleration also works on himself, meaning he can speed up his natural healing. This means unlike other Endbringers, who accumulate damage before fleeing, he can escape and heal up before returning.
    • And finally, the fifth/sixth Endbringer, Tohu and Bohu. Bohu is a 1300-foot-tall tower with a face, who takes over city-sized chunks of land and claims complete control. Spikes from the walls, blades in the ground, pits, anything. After she's finished with her first attack, she'll smooth the terrain out to brutally crush any injured. She fights with her sister Tohu, a woman made entirely out of tightly wound hair. Tohu has three torsos and heads, each a feminized version of a cape she picks each time she shows up. When she picks a cape's face, she gains (and possibly improves on) their powers.
      • And none of them have actually been trying or putting any effort into anything. Simurgh, for instance, isn't meaningfully disrupted by other precogs, and even the one being she can't perceive at ALL, Scion, she can still predict by inference. She just doens't care enough to put in the extra effort to get around precogs.
  • The Slaughterhouse Nine: Sick and depraved serial killers with powerful superpowers who always manage to get away and rebuild their ranks. They include a invincible woman who eats you alive, a emotion controller that has made parents torture their children to death while enjoying it, a mad scientist who turned himself into a living Creepy Doll, and a creepy child surgeon who regularly gives out fates worse than death to innocent people.
    • One of The Dreaded ancient horrors in the Slaughterhouse Nine was a villain called "Gray Boy". His power? He locks his opponents in tiny loops in time — resetting every second or less to where they were before, their memories the only thing that persist as they remain trapped in a prison they cannot escape. If he is very generous, he will leave them in a loop long enough to speak, syllable after agonizing syllable, interrupted constantly by the resetting of their vocal cords and lungs; if he is not, there's nothing stopping him from lighting a match and letting them feel that first moment of horrible burning pain again and again and over and over....
    • Psychosoma: Possesses people and warps them into horrible monstrosities that can easily kill you. The only way to reverse it is by killing the affected parties yourself.
    • Screamer: Manipulates sound over a huge range. She can imitate people's voices perfectly after a little while, to the point where she can masquerade as their own thoughts, telling them to kill themselves or similarly horrible things.
    • Crawler was extremely creepy to begin with, being an enormous, monstrous thing that can regenerate from nearly anything, and end up stronger for it. But his threats to Skitter after she temporarily disables him are particularly chilling
    “Run, little girl!” Crawler’s broken voice carried, a rumble so low I could feel it. “I’ll get free! I’ll catch you! I’ll hold you down and lick your skin until it melts! I’ll pluck your eyes out with the tip of my tongue! I have your scent and you cannot ever stop me! You cannot ever escape!”
  • Panacea's power. The public knows her as a healer, but her actual power is unlimited manipulation of biology. She can turn any microbe that lands on her skin into plagues that can kill everyone around her. She threatens to inflict uncontrollable weight gain on Skitter more than once. And what she does to Glory Girl goes well beyond that even ignoring what she did to Glory Girl's mind.
    • She can create new species. One of the most feared characters in the setting is a monster-spawner named Nilbog (see below). Panacea can do everything he can and more.
    Clockblocker: When Gallant died, Vista saw the body. When Aegis was mashed to a literal pulp by Leviathan, to the point that he couldn't function anymore, when he died, despite his power? I got to see the remains to verify for myself. But Victoria Dallon was still alive and they didn't let us see. A select few adults and family members got to see her, they carted her off to a parahuman asylum and none of the rest of us got to say goodbye, because the end result was that fucked up.

    As described in the text: A caricature. A twisted reflection of how Amy saw Victoria, the swan curve of the nape of the neck, the delicate hands, and countless other features, repeated over and over again throughout. It might even have been something objectively beautiful, had it not been warped by desperation and loneliness and panic. As overwhelming as the image and the situation had been in Amy’s mind, Victoria was now equally imposing, in a sense. No longer able to move under her own power, her flesh spilled over from the edge of the mattress and onto the floor.

  • As pointed out by readers, and Skitter herself, the Undersiders themselves must be terrifying to others in the city.
    • Bitch turns dogs into giant monsters that follow her every command. To put this in perspective, go near a very big and vicious dog. The kind of dog that inspired Cujo, that is growling with giant teeth. Now get on you knees so it is taller than you are. Picture that? Bitch can turn that into monsters as big as vans. She is known for having had her dogs tear her foster family apart, and she is very territorial. She doesn't care about you. She doesn't care if you have children with you. If you come in her territory, which is a very large part of the city, she will give her dogs the hurt command. Yes, she specifically trained her dogs how to hurt people. A dog barking in the night is a scary thing for the people in Brockton Bay.
      • Keep in mind, however, that the 'hurt' command is merciful; it means Bitch thinks you need a dose of physical violence, but that you don't need killing.
    • Grue creates darkness. The darkness that is a primal fear, that everyone felt at some point in their lives. A complete and utter darkness, that also makes you deaf, and screws up your sense of touch. You are essentially transported into a complete and utter void with no sound, speech, or sight. Every now and then though, you can occasionally see a a horrifying face moving in the dark. You see, Grue can see you just fine, and he is very good at hurting people.
    • Tattletale claims to be a mind-reader, and it's hard to dispute. The only confirmed telepath in this setting is the Simurgh (see above), so you can see why people are scared of her. She knows everything about you. All your greatest hopes, biggest secrets, and most terrible fears. She knows what makes you tick, what makes you angry, what makes you sad. You can't hide anything from her, and she'll use it to hurt you any way she can if you cross her. It doesn't matter who you are, she will get to you. This is the girl who scares the heroes more than any other Undersider, for good reason.
    • Imp makes it so you aren't aware she is there, even when she is standing right in front you. How does she deal with enemies? It starts small at first. One day you start to lose things. You keep misplacing your keys, or your wallet. Than you start to lose very important things. Then the furniture starts be rearranged when you aren't watching. At this point you are probably very scared at what is happening. You check your rooms, and lock your doors. The paranoia starts to really build when you start getting injuries you don't remember. Paper cuts between the fingers, strange markings, bruises. Then the blood starts to show up. Gallons of blood all over your walls telling you to leave the city. Believe it or not, that is Imp being nice. If she wants to kill you, she simply slits your throat. But the scary thing is that from her enemies' perspective, their throats just appear to open up all on its own. It's probably a good thing for the mental health of the people in the city that the general public is unsure about what her power is.
    • Regent can take over your body. He can make you a prisoner in your own mind as he forces you to do whatever he wants. All the terrible ideas that just popped in your head? When he was with his dad, he was probably pushed to do every single one of them. Even worse, once he takes you over, he can do it again instantly over a huge radius. You can never be safe if you come anywhere near him.
    • Last but not least is Skitter. Oh, Skitter. Most people assume she is weak because, after all, what can bugs do? Well, one bug, not much. Two bugs, still not much. A dozen bugs, probably not much. But Skitter doesn't control a dozen, or a hundred, or a thousand bugs at a time—Skitter controls all the insects in sight ... and worse, she controls all the insects in hiding. Sneaking up on her? Impossible. Running away from her? Impossible. Fighting her? Well, let me ask you a question: how well can you fight while being blanketed with stinging insects—insects that swarm into your nose, your mouth, your ears, and worse? This isn't getting into what she can do when she doesn't hold back. She can flay you alive with her bugs, have them burrow through your eyes, and send them through small wounds to do massive internal damage. Let's make this clear. She can destroy entire ecosystems, and could probably commit genocide if she truly wanted to. As one commenter put it:
      Saintsant: Fuck with Skitter, and you'll die wishing you had the breath to do so screaming.
    • You know the Leviathan mentioned above? Well, it was once driven off by a supervillain named Lung. So, obviously, he's one of the most powerful beings in the setting, right? Skitter has destroyed him twice, and those were relatively early in her career.
  • Throughout the story we have heard references to a Master class villain called Nilbog. He is spoken of as a monster and mentioned in the same breath as the Endbringers and the Slaughterhouse Nine. In the first arc-16 donation interlude we finally meet him, and he does not disappoint. What is his power? He can create mutated living creatures that have powers and seem to have feelings. They run the gambit in size, and shape but they look vaguely like people. Things like armless pregnant women that vomit up creatures and babies that have spider legs. He made things that multiply when you burn them and the government has left him alone so they don't provoke him into expanding from his little town. For the past decade he has played God with the things he creates.
  • What Bonesaw does to Blasto. She paralyzes him from his neck down, and completely takes control of all of his motor functions, turning him into a self-aware meat puppet. By shoving her prehensile spine down his throat. She intends to use him to clone all of the dead members of the Nine, and maybe a few heroes. Then when she's done so, she forces him to sing a children's song over and over again until his body can't take it and gives out.
  • On the subject of terrifying things that Bonesaw does, there's also what she does to Grue to cause his second trigger event. She flays the skin off his limbs, pries open his ribcage, removes some of his organs and shifts others out of place, and connects his nerves to artificial ones that cover the entire room he's in so that when the rest of the Undersiders come to rescue him, they can't reach him without adding another level of unbearable pain to the agony he is already in. As is typical of Bonesaw, she makes sure he is alive and conscious throughout.
  • Hookwolf's recruitment to the Nine. They convinced him to work for them while he was under the effects of a plague that screwed up his ability to remember people. If he's recovered at all, he's probably realized he's stuck working with the Slaughterhouse Nine. He's surrounded by them, probably has devices implanted in him from Bonesaw to help him survive/enforce loyalty, and he can't leave because the kill order means everyone will try to kill him.
  • What Bonesaw does to Cherish: lock her in a Mannequin life support chamber lashed to the bottom of Brockton Bay, paralyzed, with all the negative aspects of her power cranked up to the max.
    • And now, thanks to her becoming Butcher 15, she has fourteen voices in her head that very probably hate her.
  • What Skitter does to Valefor. Valefor's powers require that he look upon his target with his naked eye — so she fills his eyeballs with maggots to blind him. Worse, as Toast pointed out in the comments section, maggots make noises that would be conducted straight through the matter of his brain to his ears — noises that sound like chewing.
  • How Skitter gets revenge on Alexandria in Cell 22.4. Just imagine the feeling of thousands of bugs forcing themselves down your throat, doing their best to completely fill your lungs with their bodies and gluing themselves in place with spider silk..
  • Echidna. Oh Lord, Echidna. She looks vaguely like the mythical Scylla and vomits up mutated evil twins of everyone she touches. She started out as a girl named Noelle, and she's getting both bigger and more and more insane ...
    • Looks more like Kampe, humanoid top "half" and all.
  • The existence of tinkers. People whose superpower makes them genius inventors capable of building nearly anything - such as WMDs. Brockton Bay is nearly destroyed by a tinker-made weapon twice. Imagine trying to control nuclear proliferation when potentially anyone could build a nuke-equivalent out of an old vacuum.
  • Scion's rampage. To see the greatest force for good in the setting become such a nightmare is terrifying.
    • Not to mention the sheer magnitude of the destruction. It starts with the entire island of Great Britain being completely destroyed and only gets worse from there; Scion's MO is to simply blast major cities out of existence without stopping for anything, likely killing tens of millions every hour.
  • The Irregulars' and the freed Cauldron's prisoners' own brand of justice: at least one of them indulges in bathing in blood and they crucify the limbless parahuman that Cauldron uses to wipe memories.
  • Skitter's unlocked powers. She doesn't have her pinpoint control of insects anymore, but she automatically takes control of anyone within 16 feet. Worse, said control also results in a Mind Meld, where she seemingly peers into your memories and your Shard. You also happen to be fully aware while this is happening.
    • It's also damaged her brain to the point where she can no longer speak, read written language, or even interact with another person within 16 feet. Also, unlocking her power has heightened her passenger's conflict-generating function, slowly overwriting her personality and changing her into a megalomaniacal, xenophobic monster.
    • She controls almost every parahuman in every Earth: "Finally, everyone was working together."
  • The misfired trigger events that start happening after Scion died. Instead of the worms dancing/mating, the visions are of Scion's death and the events leading up to it, but that's not the problem. The powers aren't stable — the one guy we see turns into a self-replicating blob of ooze and tendrils — and when he's killed, the shard jumps to another person, giving a similar ability. This happens 3 times before the fourth person doesn't go berserk.
  • The Sleeper. It's never made clear who he is or what he does aside from being dormant, but he's mentioned along with the Endbringers and Nilbog as a Class S threat. In 30.4 when Taylor is scouring every possible Earth for parahumans to use against Scion her attention falls to Sleeper "sitting on a lawn chair on a balcony, reading a book out loud to himself". She decides against controlling him. The Godzilla Threshold goes past negotiating with serial killers and warlords with kill counts in the thousands, past opening the Birdcage, past recruiting the surviving Endbringers, past taking over the bodies of many thousands of people, but never quite gets to daring to interrupt the Sleeper's book.
    • Well, you know what they say: "Sleeper waking, pills taking.//Sleeper speeding, people bleeding." Oh, wait. Wrong 'The Sleeper' from a superheroic milieu where all the supers are empowered by aliens in a test with catastrophic side effects.
    • One of the signs of the pending apocalypse is that the Sleeper wakes up. In the ongoing confusion, people try to evacuate from Earth into alternate dimensions and the last report of Sleeper is that he entered the dimension labeled Zayin and "subsumed" it. The very fact that he entered Zayin causes everyone else to write off the whole dimension as a lost cause. Presumably, everyone not on Zayin breathes a sigh of relief to know that it might be the end of the world, but at least they won't have to worry about dealing with the Sleeper any more.
    • She doesn't even consider taking the Sleeper just to kill him and get him out of the way. That is how scary he is to everyone.
  • Some trigger events are horrific enough to make you feel sympathy even for the monsters. Bonesaw/Riley provides an example. Jack Slash mutilated her family members, then gave her the chance to patch them up with her surgery powers. Then hurt them again. And again. She kept going until physically exhausted but was forced to eventually choose let them die, and to watch her mother's final moments. With nothing else left, she joined her tormentors, always maintaining a smile because with her last breath, her mother told her to "Be a good girl".
    • Worse still we see her do something similar to Panacea, forcing her to use her powers in ways revolting to her, and wants her for a big sister.
  • The "tests" the Nine inflict on their potential recruits (willing or otherwise) are horrifying, but Jack's test to Cherish is the worst of all. He has her do the tests again.
    • Mannequin asks you to alter (read: mutilate) yourself in some meaningful way, Siberian hunts you down and tries to eat you, Crawler has you kill someone. The tests gone into most specifically are Cherish's, including such gems as having to evade a moving shard of glass in a lightless room for 3 straight days, and having to drink unknown quantities of an unknown type of blood or be permanently depowered, while Siberian was trying to kill her.
  • Stranger powers. Their Perception Filters make them very hard to fight. For "weaker" ones you just can't raise a hand against them even if you are entirely aware of their presence and them attacking you. For stronger ones you might not even be able to see them as a threat, or even outright forget about their presence even when physically touching them.
  • The scariest thing? Apart from the Endbringers and Sleeper, almost everything on this list is only in America/Canada. North America has way fewer parahumans than places like Africa. There are hundreds of other things out there that belong on this list, ones that we know nothing about. Think about that for a moment.
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