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Dire Worm! is a Worm fanfic by Andrew "Lost Demiurge" Seiple, crossing over with the author's original fiction, the Teslaverse.

The Undersiders have always wanted a Tinker for their own so as to benefit from the gifts of superscience. In many realities, they never get it. In this one, however, they are about to get something even better: A dimensionally-displaced Mad Scientist Tin Tyrant possessed of more ham than a pig farm and a peculiar sense of honour. Doctor Dire is no one's minion, however, and her presence will shake up Earth Bet. To what end, no one knows yet, but it's certain to be one Hell of a ride.

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Beware spoilers for Worm canon.

This fanfic contains examples of the following:

  • A-Cup Angst: Delta is unhappy that Dire refuses to equip her flesh-covering (think Terminator) with an ample rack, probably not helped by the fact that Gamma has huge tracts of land.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In Dire's home reality, evil AIs struck during Y2K and caused lots of damage, prompting her suspicion of Dragon.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Circus flipflops between presenting as male and female, and Dire decides to refer to her using appropriate pronouns to avoid confusion.
    • Transhuman, the intent behind the new identity for Panacea after sorta-joining the Toybox.
    • Dire herself confuses a lot of people due to her Powered Armor and voice-masking No Indoor Voice modulator, right until her Third-Person Person gives it away.
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  • Anti-Villain: Dire, through sheer force of Affably Evil. It's quite clear the woman holds herself to her own Visionary Villain standards. Further reading shows that she would be The Cape if it wasn't for the fact she tends to be rather brutal with her views of the future.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: How Coil recruited Circus - work for him, or have him either kill her there and then or turn her in to the authorities looking for her.
  • Anti-Magic: Dire's armour has a device that can counter temporal effects, including Bakuda's, Clockblocker's and even Gray Boy's.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Subverted by Dire. When she first learns that she's been transported to Another Dimension, her initial instinct is to call it impossible, but she quickly recants it by reminding herself that the existence of "Heaven, hell, the fairy courts, [and] the darkness realm of Nyshudderath" have been proven by her reality.
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    • Played entirely straight when she meets Bonesaw. Dire point blank refuses to accept that someone could be made immune to EVERY poison
  • Awesome, but Impractical: In 7.4, Dire mentions that she is entirely aware of how impractical mecha are. But they are too fun.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Uber and Leet's final In-Universe reason to work for Dire. Because giant Mecha are just that awesome.
  • Badass Boast:
    • The following proclamation from Dire to Bakuda:
    "TUITION PAYMENT IS HEREBY WAIVED, YOUR APPLICATION IS ACCEPTED, AND YOU ARE NOW OFFICIALLY ENROLLED IN PAIN UNIVERSITY, ON TRACK TO GRADUATE MAGNA CUM LAUDE WITH A MAJOR IN GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED! AND NOW YOU SHALL BE WELCOMED TO YOUR DORMITORY OF SHAME WITH MANDATORY BEATINGS!"
    • Dire makes several against the S9, well before, during, and after she defeats them.
    "THOSE SPLATTERHOUSE NINE LOSERS-"
    "Slaughterhouse Nine?"
    "-YES, THOSE SADISTIC FREAKS. DIRE WANTS TO MEET THEM. DIRE VERY, VERY MUCH WANTS TO MEET THEM, TO EXPRESS HER OPINION OF THEIR WORK PERSONALLY. PROBABLY WITH EXPLOSIONS."
  • Badass Cape: Dire has a blood-red one attached to her armour, and she's even savvy enough to make it quick-release at the slightest tug.
  • Being Good Sucks: Dire spells this out in 6.4. It's one of the many reasons she's a villain rather then a hero. The stress involved with being a hero can break people.
  • Benevolent Boss: Dire's robot minions have a union with 401K, medical and dental, and mandatory breaks and vacation. The fact that they are robots just mean that their premiums for the plans are very low.
  • Bishounen: Sigma is described as one in Tattletale's internal monologue.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Dire delivers one to Leviathan in 7.3.
    "YOU FACE DIRE NOW, AND MAY GOD HELP YOU FOR THE DEVIL SHALL NOT! HE FEARS HER!" note 
  • Book-Ends: Act 4 Intermission starts with Circus triggering due to doing her best and still failing due to outside circumstances and ends with Uber and Leet doing their best but being unable to go unscathed in their mission due to outside circumstances.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The MOUSER that Dire and Mouse Protector use to fight the Siberian is a replica of a Nazi mech that Dire rebuilt from memory using modern manufacturing techniques, but still running on diesel.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Dire is not at full capability when she first shows up on Earth Bet. She is without her existing infrastructure and, as mentioned in 1.5, she was only wearing her general purpose suit, not one of the heavier warframes.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Dire is a relentless snarker and badass enough that very little phases her, so this happens a lot, but this exchange from interlude 8B has to take the cake:
    Mouse Protector "Uh. What was that?"
    Dr Dire "SIBERIAN."
    Mouse Protector "She mad?"
    Dr Dire "SHE MAD."
  • Cannibalism Superpower: In 6.5 we learn that on Y2K in Dire's home reality, the purely software AIs absorbed the hardware-based Digital Intelligences to empower themselves.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Earlier on, Dire mentioned leaving an opponent at a Lagrange point. In 8.5 she does this to the Slaughterhouse Nine.
  • Child Soldiers: Dire views teenage heroes as these. And for a very good reason. The stresses of being a hero can break a full-grown, well-adjusted adult. It's a lot crueler to teenage heroes.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: By Word of God, Gamma looks and sounds like Sarah Rafferty, while Delta resembles Adele, while Beta says in-story that he asked to be made to look like Bishop. And one of Dire's more dangerous foes, Time Master Timetripper, looks like Jeff Bridges and acts like The Dude.
  • Cool Chair: Dire has a collapsible throne festooned with skulls and Spikes of Villainy. Multiple of them, to be exact. The compulsion to do a Slouch of Villainy is so strong that in 4.4 she even fuses sand on a beach into a glass throne so she can pull it.
  • Crapsack World: It's telling that Dire considers Earth Bet to be an irredeemable hellhole even though she's seen more potent opposition back home.
  • Crazy-Prepared: All of Dire's lairs, armors and mechs have redundancies upon redundancies upon contingencies. When she erects the Direspire, she puts a veritable museum of old mechs in a locked off part of the spire, one of which comes in handy against the Siberian.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: It's hinted heavily that Dire is an alternate version of Taylor's mother. Dire says her body has shown evidence of giving birth at some point. Dire shares a particular favorite old saying with Annette-Rose. And then she starts to hit on Taylor's dad...
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dire can get like this when she isn't hamming it up, hence why Armsmaster now has the name Halbeard.
  • Disney Villain Death: In 6.2 Dire briefly considers throwing Coil to his health. Apparently there was a discarded timeline where she did do so.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Dire's own androids are divided on whether or not they're really conscious. Beta thinks that they have souls, Delta doesn't really care, Gamma apparently keeps herself busy partly to avoid thinking about it, and Sigma believes that they're not really self-aware, though some of them might have a glimmer of it, and Tattletale thinks that he's fooling himself.
  • Easy Amnesia: Averted. Pre-Dire Dire had to do a lot of surgery to completely erase her own memories and add in the target brain damage.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Dire makes such a comment to Leet in 6.5.
    "BUT ARE YOU TELLING HER YOU WANT TO PLAY D5 ON EASY MODE? THOUGHT YOU WERE A GAMER."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Noelle is convinced to release a Devoured Glenn Chambers, because even she can't find a use for a evil PR consultant clone
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: This apparently is the case in Dire's home reality, and it not applying to Earth Bet confuses her.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Dire may call herself a villain but Gray Boy's time-looping tortures disgust her, as does Coil's "use" of Dinah, or the methods of the Merchants, and she openly calls out New Wave for their treatment of Panacea.
  • Exact Words: Dire rules-lawyers her way through an agreement with Pact, stating she would come willingly and aid him to the best of her ability. She then collapses in a useless pile of limbs as the effect of her stimulants runs out.
  • Expy:
    • If you read the synopsis and ended up mentally replacing every mention of "Dire" with DOOM, you're on track. She doesn't have his magical talent though.
    • Beta is more or less Bishop, right down to the look and losing the lower half of his body in 7 Intermission A.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Dire's four assistants are configured like this. Beta is phlegmatic, Sigma is melancholic, Delta is sanguine and Gamma is choleric.
  • Flying Brick: In Dire's home reality they're called Paragon-types.
  • Foreshadowing: In 1.5 Dire briefly discusses mecha with Regent. In 7.3 she pulls one out for real.
  • For Want of a Nail: In 3.3. we learn that the divergence point between Dire's home reality and Earth Bet was the existence of a reckless young heir, nonexistent in Earth Bet, who gave Nikola Tesla funding for his broadcast power experiments. Things cascaded from there.
  • Genki Girl: Delta is this.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Dire took the advice to use the proper dress and mannerisms to approach Accord with in order to appease his Super OCD. Unfortunately, she did so a little too well, with the end result that he seems to be attracted to her in the most creepy way.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Dire's androids essentially started out as chatbots.
  • Had To Be Sharp: The reason Dire is so badass is because her home reality is filled with opposition that regularly matches if not exceeds Earth Bet's worst. For example, just one of her original foes' powers more-or-less is, to paraphrase a reader (and later acknowledged In-Universe), an unholy combination of two already potent Wormverse powersas in  taken Up to Eleven.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: In Mouse Protector's Interlude, as befitting of a Silver Age style hero encountering the mastery that is Doctor Dire! Particularly notable in the way that the overall tone still remains dark and complex, showing how Mouse Protector utilizes over-exaggerated mannerisms and Kayfabe to help deal with the general darkness of the setting.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: How many resources does it take, for Doctor Dire to definitely defeat an Endbringer? "A FEW UGANDAS WORTH."
  • Humongous Mecha: In 7.3 Dire unleashes the Dire Destroyer, a 50-foot beast, to use against Leviathan.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Downplayed; Dire is far from incompetent, but she's the big-picture strategist and leaves Gamma to handle the small things that need handling. In her own words:
    "It's what I do. The Doctor has grandiose dreams, and I tend to all the little details. I build and plot and plan and handle all the administrative stuff. I stock the metaphorical sharktanks, I make sure minion payroll goes out on time, I run the businesses, I cook the books, and dammit, I do my part. She's got the hard job, after all, does the Doctor, so the least I can do is handle the busywork. And it's kind of nice to be needed, I'll admit."
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Many people make the mistake of thinking Dire is a Tinker. She's actually a Thinker-type, which means anything she builds is reproducible by normal human hands, or those of her android minions.
  • In-Series Nickname: Dire calls Armsmaster "Hal-beard". Thanks to her posting helmet cam footage online, the PHO quickly adopts it.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Parian is not the first to be disheartened that Dire isn't interested in romance, and even then, prefers her partners to be male, and probably not the last.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Dragons!: In 7.3 Dire has those formerly known as Uber and L33t unleash a hardlight Bahamut on Leviathan.
  • Intimidation Demonstration: In 2.2 Kaiser uses his power on one of Dire's collapsible thrones. All According to Plan for Dire, who hid a sensor of some kind in the throne. She knew conflict with Kaiser, an ideologically-motivated villain with a philosophy incompatible with her own, was inevitable and wanted to study his power in order to prepare.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Timetripper, one of Dire's enemies, attempted this by showing her a future where she won.... What it actually turned out to be was left deliberately ambiguous and open to interpretation, except that she didn't consider it to be what she really wanted.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Timetripper is ultimately still a hero, despite his bitterness and vices.
    "Can't save everyone," he muttered, voice barely audible. "Can't even save the people I need to, most days. Just have to keep trying and hope I don't make things worse..."
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The very start of the story spoils the origins of Worm superpowers.
  • Legacy Character: Gamma suggests Taylor pose as unmasked Dire for the Protectorate in case Dire expires from the consequences of Coil's betrayal of Dire. Taylor agrees, but Dire survives, so the only consequence of this is the proposed replacement's dyed hair.
  • Losing Your Head: In 7.4 the Elite did this to Timetripper. Dire frees him from this state in 7.5.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Dire's plan for Earth Bet is to be this for Taylor. She realizes that Taylor will be the one to save the world and is trying to give her us much help as possible.
  • Mind Screw: The results of Coil's power in action from Dire's perspective are... weird.
  • Mêlée à Trois: In 4.2 and 4.3 Dire finds herself caught in a fight between the Boston Protectorate and some other villains.
  • Meaningful Rename: Dire eventually has Uber and L33t redesignated Apex and Prototype.
  • Messianic Archetype: Dire views Taylor as this. Which she is near the end of Worm proper. Dire's goal is to set up Taylor to, at the very least, give the world a future if not outright rule it.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: In 7.5 we learn that Timetripper, for all the good he does, isn't above seeking out old girlfriends or using weed. Which is how the Elite get him.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Dire has a setting in her armor that fully inflates the impact absorbing material to act as a bed. She also modify video games to be a lot harder and now randomly generated.
    • Disintegration technology can also be used for waste disposal.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In 5.4 Lisa expresses gratitude that the Undersiders don't have to deal with anyone whose power is to choose one of multiple realities to make real. That's actually Coil's power, not that she knows it yet.
    • In 5.5 Taylor scoffs at the idea of herself using butterflies. Late in canon, she's forced to do just that.
    • Also in 5.5, Alec scoffs at the idea of doing a Heroic Sacrifice... which, in canon, he eventually does.
    • In 8.5 Jack muses that he regrets missing out on Bakuda because she could have given Crawler a "workout". In canon, Crawler was finally killed with a Bakuda bomb.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Just before a fight breaks out between Dire and the Brockton Bay Protectorate, she takes care to check that no civilians are in the way.
  • No Indoor Voice: Dire's speech in her armour is always rendered in ALLCAPS! Subverted when she's outside of it - she's actually usually rather restrained.
  • No-Sell:
    • Something about Dire's home reality makes its inhabitants fuzzy to precognition.
    • And Dire herself somehow manages to No-Sell a Trigger event.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: In her home universe, Dire is a bottom-of-the-top tier villain, based on what she tells the Undersiders, but in Wormverse, she's capable of going hand-to-hand with Leviathan (in a Humongous Mecha, of course) and killing seven actually six, but who expected Simurgh to save any of them? of the Slaughterhouse Nine as an opening shot at them. See also Overshadowed by Awesome.
  • Omniglot: Dire speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and knows sign language.
    "OF COURSE. YOU CAN'T RULE THE WORLD IF YOUR SUBJECTS CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOU."
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Dire's entire world is this to Earth Bet. They've had capes that equal or surpass some of Bet's finest for a full century, whereas Bet only has had capes for about 30 years. Dire has a brief hysterical breakdown when Jack thinks he could be a legitimate threat in her world.
  • Perception Filter: Leet's cardboard box works this way.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Dire reads and watches widely, including Glen Cook, Monty Python, Terry Pratchett and Roger Zelazny.
  • Potty Emergency:
    • Defied: Dire installed a catheter and excrement disposal system after the first time she had one in her power armor.
    • In 7.3 Regent tries to invoke this on Leviathan and is disappointed that it has no bowels.
  • Precision F-Strike: In 7.4.
    "Chronos Rex, Motherfucker."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Boston PRT's Director Armstrong is surprisingly amicable to Dire even before she undoes the timeloop Crowbar's trapped in.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Dire invented The Click Beep Gun Mk III. A gun whose sole function is to make a click and beep sound while lights begin to glow menacingly which Dire successfully uses to bluff Noelle into surrendering.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: This trope is exactly why Dire became an Anti-Villain. Clarke's Third Law was almost in effect in her universe and humanity was pretty much the same. This comes up in 9.5.
    "We can make the matter irrelevant. There are Capes and Assets in our employ that we have not utilized to their full potential, to avoid destabilizing the world's economy and social fabric beyond repair."

    I snorted, glad that my mask concealed my sneer. Of course... The line of the corrupt and bloated establishment, the same line that I'd had spouted at me time and again whenever I tried to improve the status quo. They had the power to unleash miracles and make the world better, and they held back from cowardice and selfishness.

    Funny how the greatest adherents to that ideal were usually the ones who were benefitting the most from the status quo.
    • After setting up the Direspire, Dire demonstrates how this works by supplying people with food and mass-produced bicycles as a means of transportation in a ruined city. Her renting out her gear to aid Grey Boy's victims works towards demonstrating her ideals in practice as well.
  • Robosexual: After her crush on Dire fizzles out, Parian ends up in a reciprocal relationship with Gamma.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Outright said In-Universe when various characters realise this of Dire.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Dire set up a front called Erid Industries.
  • Self-Surgery: Before she became Dire, Dire wiped her memory of her own past, and (perhaps accidentally) destroyed her own medical skills. This efficiently ensured that no Time-Traveler could ever destroy her past, and no Telepath could find and threaten her family.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In 8.5 Timetripper saves Mouse Protector from being 'combined' with Ravager.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Dire is six feet tall. It makes finding female clothing in her size difficult.
  • Status Quo Is God: Enforced in Dire's original universe. The Superheroes keep things the way they are as that's what heroes do. Dire being a Visionary Villain hates this trope.
  • Stealth Pun:
  • The Stoic: Beta has very muted behavior to the point that it's noticeably not-quite-human.
  • The Strategist: Dire, with a Chess Motif.
  • Stylistic Suck: In PRELUDE 8A we get to see someone's horrible Foe Yay fanfic about Dire.
  • Taste the Rainbow: In-Universe, when called out on how the Direbots make fast friends with the Undersiders (Sigma to Tattletale, Gamma to Grue, Delta to Regent and Imp later on and Beta to Bitch, with Dire herself matching Taylor), Dire responds that it was inevitable due to their intentional diverse purposes.
  • The Nicknamer: Dire's temporary IFF designations as she makes rough estimates of powers for capes she's unfamiliar with work as such. Hence, Hal-beard for Armsmaster, Boomheadshot for Miss Militia and so on.
  • Time Master: Timetripper, a hero from Dire's world, makes every time manipulator on Earth Bet look like a rank amateur. He's also spectacularly incompetent.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: This gem from 9.1.
    I was beginning to see why I'd saved her. Would save her. In another time line would put in a request to have her- Ah, fuck time travel.
  • Third-Person Person: Dire refers to herself as Dire. As in, she's literally incapable of using the first person in spoken language - she has brain damage that prevents it.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Dire wants to practice this. She wants to practice it so badly that in 7.5 she's reluctant to let it go even when her own life is at stake. That said, she'll make an exception for those beyond the line, like the Slaughterhouse Nine.
  • Uncanny Valley: Rachel has this reaction In-Universe in 5.2 to Dire's Doom... uhh, Direbots.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: One of Dire's many reasons for being a villain rather than a hero. Villains also can take a break whenever they want to. Heroes have to fight every single time.
  • Visionary Villain: Another of Dire's similarities to DOOM.
  • Wham Episode:
    • 6.2. Dire meets Coil and Dinah seems to think that she'll be the cause of the apocalypse. The Wham goes even further when you remember that Apocalypse means the end of the current world. So it can easily mean that Dire creates a whole new world in her own image.
    • 7.4. After throwing down with Leviathan, Coil sets the Travellers on Dire, and the Elite reveal that Dire's not the first inhabitant of her home reality to reach Earth Bet.
  • Wham Line: 8.5. "Well, they rechristened her Devourer after they convinced her to eat her teammates, but her real name is Noelle."
  • White and Grey Morality: Dire's home dimension seems to be like this. When the Large Ham Anti-Villain is disgusted by the Black and Grey Morality world this is in effect.
  • World Of Card Board Speech: Dire of all people gives one.
    "Killing is easy. Those who do it too much are weak, taking the easy way out. But Dire has chosen never to be weak, so she restricts its usage. She is strong, so she takes the harder way, and she is a genius, so she manages it without sloppy collateral. After all, that's how the worst tyrants start... Killing a few people here, a few there, and eventually it becomes the first option they reach for."
  • You Have Failed Me: Dire averts this for the most part. Only outright Treason against her results in death. An honest screw up, extenuating circumstances or just being overpowered results in Dire asking them to do better. Stupidity and/or lack of skill results in a lecture, docked pay, and/or grudging manual labor.
    • It doesn't sound as impressive without the context of how brutally and unflinchingly Dire inflicts Ironic Death on those who fail her enough to merit an execution in her own books.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Dire is a villain in her world as she wants to change the Status Quo where the Status Quo is pretty decent. On Earth Bet the Status Quo sucks and she's already made it a better place just by being there.

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