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Fanfic / On Missing Limbs

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Unmarked spoilers ahead. Avoid or read at your own risk.

On Missing Limbs is a completed crossover / fusion fanfic between Worm and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, written by fallacies. Also available on SpaceBattles and Sufficient Velocity.

Toted in its description as "a sequence of short scenes, meant largely to be humorous," the story begins with Taylor Hebert waking up in a hospital room after being discovered in her locker, not unlike other fanfics wherein she obtains the abilities of a protagonist from another canon. Per the usual pattern, she begins to acquire abilities associated with Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid V. However, as the plot continues, and the chapters grow longer, it becomes apparent that select parts of the Metal Gear Solid continuity have actually occurred within a combined world setting.


Though the fic is flagged as "complete" as of December 2015, and multiple epilogues have been written, the actual storyline is discontinued just at the point where Taylor begins to establish herself as an independent hero.

Tropes present in On Missing Limbs:

  • 108: The number of pages in the Parahumans Online Forum thread regarding Sahelanthropus. The other page numbers that appear in the PHO Interlude may also be references.
  • Action Girl: Taylor and Miss Militia, though the latter is technically in her thirties ...
  • All There in the Manual: The summary provided by the author claims that the story is "Not actually a fic where Taylor triggers with an alternate set of powers," despite the earlier chapters overtly contradicting this. However, it's eventually revealed that Taylor never triggered, and isn't in fact a parahuman.
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  • An Arm and a Leg / Artificial Limbs: As a result of injuries sustained in the aftermath of her internment to her locker, Taylor Hebert's left arm had to be amputated in the same manner as Venom Snake's. This is later revealed to have been unnecessary; the amputation was intentionally carried out on a healthy limb to grant Taylor cosmetic features appropriate of a Distaff Counterpart to Venom Snake. The noticeably advanced technology involved in the prosthetic that Taylor acquires from Armsmaster is noted in-universe to be a product of Soviet Superscience dating from the 1970's and 80's.
  • Alternate Timeline: The vehicle of the story's Canon Welding; the Worm setting is posed as a divergence from the Metal Gear Solid timeline. Subsequently, Worm events diverge from The Stations of the Canon due to the "legacy" of Metal Gear Solid.
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  • Biological Weapons Solve Everything: Offscreen, "Huey" Emmerich ends up leaking a variant of Code Talker's modified Wolbachia to a radical feminist group led by Lustrum. Two weaponized strains intended for the infection of mammals are eventually created: Strain A, which causes only men to become sterilized; and Strain B, which eliminates the female courtship response, and induces females to reproduce via self-cloning parthenogenesis. During a hostage incident on Father's Day 1991, Lustrum's group infects an unspecified number of men with the Strain A Wolbachia, including Danny Hebert. Kazuhira Miller describes this as "Potentially the largest scale bio-terror incident ever to occur on American soil."
  • Bullet Time: Reflex Mode, which Taylor inherited from Venom Snake via Revolver Ocelot's Mind Manipulation.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted. Though Miss Militia technically has this as a part of her parahuman ability, the nano-tranq rounds she fires at Taylor during their Sniper Battle are limited in supply.
  • Canine Companion: Diamond, an Expy to DD. Serves as an Assist Character, who aids Taylor in marking opponents.
  • Canon Character All Along:
    • Miss Militia is revealed to be an alternate-universe version of Sniper Wolf.
    • An offscreen character referred to as "Interim Director Iriomote" is later revealed to be Revolver Ocelot, with the name "Iriomote" apparently being a reference to a type of Japanese wildcat.
  • Canon Welding: The world setting gives that the Worm timeline diverged from the Metal Gear Solid timeline due to the arrival of Scion. However, events subsequently diverge from the canon of Worm as well due to influences from the Metal Gear Solid background.
  • Cassandra Truth: In his PHO Forum postings, Greg Veder's wild theories end up being correct roughly half the time. However, because of his reputation as an Attention Whore, nobody really believes anything he says.
  • Cerebus Call Back: One of the most serious scenes in the story takes place in a branch of Miller's Maxi Buns, years after Miller's death.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Literally a gunman. Revolver Ocelot is innocuously introduced early on as "Interim Director Iriomote." Later, it's revealed that he orchestrated all of the major events in the plot. According to Word of God, he has a son named Joseph Iriomote, who featured in the story as Taylor's training partner in CQC.
  • Child Soldiers:
    • Miss Militia, in Backstory only — and only briefly, at that. By the time she appears in the plot (even in the 1985 flashback), she is no longer a child soldier; though being a Ward of the Protectorate is arguably the same thing.
    • Offscreen, Raiden was conditioned as a child soldier by Solidus Snake. However, within the constraints of the existing story, he is effectively a Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game.
  • Continuity Porn: Though the earlier parts of the story are fairly accessible to readers unfamiliar with the source canons of the crossover, the later chapters invoke the backstory of Metal Gear Solid heavily enough that they may be difficult to comprehend without either a thorough knowledge of the canon or the author's notes regarding the background. However, as the story is a crossover with the Metal Gear Solid franchise, this is a difficulty that may just go with the territory.
  • Cut-and-Paste Environments: The Protectorate Oil Rig is described as an in-universe Call-Back to the Mother Base offshore platform operated by the Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF) in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker — which was itself a Call-Forward of Big Shell from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in meta. Per the Canon of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, many other organizations ended up imitating the design of the 1970's MSF base. However, the actual physical description of the Protectorate HQ makes it sound like a mashed-up Palette Swap of the MGSV Mother Base in Seychelles.
  • Deconstruction Fic: A variant, targeted at Alt-Power Worm fics. Though early on, the story appears to adopt the Obvious Crossover Method of granting Taylor the power-set of a protagonist from another work, it's revealed in the Stinger that her abrupt mastery of Venom Snake's abilities is in fact an intentional consequence of Revolver Ocelot's Mind Manipulation and conditioning. The project established to implant Taylor with said abilities is known as VSS, which Code Talker theorizes to be an acronym for Venom Snake Simulation. This is an explicit Call-Back to the "S3 Plan" or "Solid Snake Simulation" from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, which itself was a Deconstruction of the tendency of sequels to use Recycled Script. This makes the story a Whole Plot Reference not only to MGSV — which converts Venom Snake into a memetic clone of Big Boss via the same process — but to MGS 2 as well.
  • Discontinuity Nod: "John South," the pseudonym adopted by Big Boss during his time as commander of FOXHOUND, is a nod toward the non-canonical "Commander South," who is named as Solid Snake's commanding officer only in the game manual to the North American localization of Metal Gear 1. In the game itself, Big Boss plays the roles of both "Commander South" and "Vernon Ca Taffy," the leader of Outer Heaven.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Taylor, for Venom Snake. Subverted, in that she's actually a biological daughter to Venom, mentally manipulated by Ocelot to resemble her gene donor.
  • Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue: The omake snippets and certain other dialogues within the story are almost entirely free of framing prose, and appear as conversations in a vacuum. May be an intentional Call-Back to the similarly-presented cassette tapes which appear in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V; in the Stinger, Danny Hebert actually stops listening to an unidentified cassette tape immediately after one such passage.
  • Foreshadowing: The story as a whole frequently features trivia relating to (Alternate Timeline) historical events from the 1990's and the preceding decades. The majority of these are actually stealth references to events or concepts from the Metal Gear Solid continuity. In context, when the fic was originally released, Metal Gear Solid was not explicitly indicated as the crossover canon; ergo, aside from functioning purely as a Call-Back or providing World Building, these references served as hints prior to The Reveal that the events of Metal Gear Solid actually occurred in the Backstory of the fic.
  • Government Conspiracy: Per the Canon of Worm, Cauldron is manipulating the government of the United States. However, they've also subsumed Cipher and the Patriots and acquired all their resources. This gives them twice as much unlimited political power as they canonically possess!
  • Hidden Villain: Revolver Ocelot, who turned out to be the villain anyways, because that's just how Metal Gear Solid rolls. Specifically, he utilized Mind Manipulation to orchestrate nearly all of the major events from offscreen. The audience isn't made aware of this until the Stinger.
  • Instant Sedation / One Dose Fits All: The tranquilizer rounds shot from the assorted weapons that appear in the later parts of the story can apparently knock anyone unconscious regardless of build or body mass. In-universe, this is explained to be a consequence of the use of Armsmaster's "nano-tranq," a Tinkertech tranquilizing agent whose mechanics are never explained in detail. From the name, we can assume that it involves Nanomachines.
  • It's All My Fault / You Did Everything You Could: Armsmaster's reasoning for sponsoring Taylor as an independent hero is a overpowering guilt for not being able to prevent the locker incident. In the prologue, Dragon points out that the guilt isn't entirely rational. It's eventually revealed that Armsmaster's behavior may be a result of Mind Manipulation.
  • Jerkass: "Huey" Emmerich. Still a jerk. Actions he took offscreen resulted in "potentially the largest scale bio-terror incident ever to occur on American soil," and indirectly, Danny Hebert's sterilization.
  • Language Equals Thought: A major theme in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, reflected indirectly in this story within the conversations that took place in the final chapters.
    • Miss Militia and Big Boss are unable to truly communicate their thoughts to one another, due to age and experience creating such a gulf that it's almost as if they "lacked a common tongue." This is a Call-Back to Quiet's plot in the ending of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
    • Bagrat notes on the PHO Forums that words alone can arbitrate whether a person without a face is received as a hero or a villain. This is an explicit reference to Skull Face; and to a limited extent, it invokes Venom Snake's circumstances as well.
  • Lethal Joke Item / Outside-the-Box Tactic: Taylor ends up defeating the majority of her opponents with nothing more than clever use of a cardboard box. Technically an "inside" the box tactic.
  • Meaningful Name: The cape name that Dragon chose for Taylor — Virtue — is a Call-Back to the "Virtuous Mission" in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which itself was a Call-Back to the "Virtual Missions" of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Unlike many of the other Call Backs that exist within the fic, however, there isn't a clear in-world justification for the naming, aside from the fact that Dragon's creator, Andrew Richter, also worked on this world's version of The Patriots AI according to Word of God.
    • In the Stinger, Code Talker notes that the name Ahab means "the Brother of the Father" in Hebrew. He feels that this is appropriate, as Venom Snake was "a divergence from a shared point of origin," relative to Big Boss.
    • "Chapter 11: (Reunion) The Patriot" is a reference to the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain mission titled "Episode 11: (Reunion) Cloaked in Silence" — the version of Episode 11 that appears if the player replays the mission 7 times subsequent to Quiet's death. In the conclusion of the Reunion version of the mission, Quiet noncanonically rejoins the player as an Assist Character. Chapter 11 in this story, comparatively, is a Sniper Duel against Miss Militia, who is revealed to be an Alternate Timeline version of Sniper Wolf. The "Reunion" aspect is invoked by the fact that Miss Militia is meeting a Distaff Counterpart to Big Boss, who she has been tracking for ages.
  • Meet the New Boss: Cauldron, which has subsumed and inherited the resources of Cipher and the Patriots. However, by the nature of their goals, they might be better regarded as a Contrasting Sequel Antagonist.
  • Mind Manipulation: Used by Revolver Ocelot on various cast members as a method of orchestrating his plan. Victims include Taylor, Armsmaster, and possibly Sophia.
  • Mythology Gag: Too numerous to name, as the fic is Reference Overdosed. However, many of them appear as Catch Phrase Shout Outs and Call Backs in dialogue.
  • Nature vs. Nurture: Averted. Though the debate regarding the relative weight of the named factors on development toward maturity plays as a central theme in parts of the Metal Gear Solid franchise, the comparative impact of Nature vs. Nurture on Taylor's cultivation as the replica of a legend is unclear, owing to the fact that she's inherited both the genes and the memes of Venom Snake. Arguably, Nuture plays a stronger role, as Venom Snake himself inherited the memes of Big Boss.
  • No Body Left Behind: Subverted. During the joint training exercise that Taylor participates in against the PRT and Wards, the other participants appear to vanish into thin air. This is actually because Taylor is performing Fulton extractions with the aid of Dragon.
  • No Name Given: The identity of the parahuman recruited by Cauldron/XOF in the second epilogue is never revealed. The author merely states in author's notes that she's a major Worm character who was "relatively canonical" until an event distantly traceable to Taylor's actions shook her status quo.
  • Non-Powered Costumed Hero: Taylor, when active in her Secret Identity as Virtue. She would be a Badass Normal, except for the fact that she actually does have powers; they just aren't of the variety awarded by the Worm setting's Superpower Lottery. Rather, Word of God links them to the more "mundane" powers that existed within-universe prior to the arrival of Scion, such as the Psychic Powers associated with Psycho Mantis or The Sorrow.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Cauldron, which makes references to agendas and motives that are never actually clarified in-universe. Word of God subsequently provides explanation to the more mystifying bits of their conversation.
  • Original Character: There are surprisingly few of them, as the author prefers to reinterpret existing cast members of Worm and the Metal Gear Solid continuity using Canon Character All Along as a mechanic for the fusion. However, some notable examples exist:
    • Joseph Iriomote and a man known as Smith appear as one shot characters in a chapter called Close Quarters. By physical description, naming, and mannerism, they may be expies of Revolver Ocelot and Kazuhira Miller respectively; Iriomote pays homage to Ocelot by speaking a variant of the catchphrase "You're pretty good," while Smith wears aviator glasses indoors, much like Miller. Later on, Word of God reveals that Iriomote is, in fact, Revolver Ocelot's son.
    • M.W. Mond, a character that never appears on-screen. A psychologist and neurologist stated to be a Mind Manipulation expert and Ocelot's agent.
  • Pacifist Run: Taylor's standard mode of operation in the field. A Call-Back to the overall pacifist bent of the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
  • Propaganda Machine: In this case, Trismegistos, a literal machine; this timeline's version of The Patriots AI. Controlled by Cauldron, it engages in the manipulation of popular opinion via media control.
  • Put on a Bus: Sophia, who vanished after causing the locker incident prior to the prologue, and never appears within the main action of the story. Her fate is unclear.
    • To a slightly lesser extent, this trope also applies to Emma and Madison, who are briefly mentioned as facing criminal trial.
  • Red Baron: In addition to the cape name chosen for her by Dragon (Virtue), Taylor incidentally picks up the nickname of "Venom" from a Clockblocker posting on the PHO Forums. May be an intentional consequence of a Simurgh plot, as it came about following discussion of a post that the Endbringer made as "Winged_One."
  • The Reveal: In (Reunion) The Patriot, wherein it's explicitly indicated that the events of Metal Gear Solid actually occurred in the Backstory of the fic.
  • Shock and Awe: The Stun Arm prosthetic prepared for Taylor by Armsmaster, based on notes regarding Venom's combat prosthetic recovered by the CIA; in-universe, it was designed in the 1980's, and noted to be an example of Soviet Superscience. Operating on a somewhat shady explanation of physics and Rule of Cool, the arm is somehow capable of rendering humans unconscious with an electric discharge without ill consequence.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Revolver Ocelot's pseudonym, Charles Adam Iriomote, is really a conscious, in-universe Character Name Alias; it's a reference to Charlie Townsend of Charlie's Angels. Like Charlie, Ocelot is assisted by the three female — in this case, members of the HAVEN superhero team. HAVEN, incidentally, is a call forward to Outer Haven, from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots; the three females are Alternate Timeline versions of the members of the Beauty and Beast Unit.
    • Saltash, the name of the helicopter designated to pick up Big Boss and Miss Militia in Syria during the 1985 flashback, is an in-universe Shout Out to the protagonist's ship in The Cruel Sea, a 1951 novel by Nicholas Monsarrat. This is a parallel to the use of the name Pequod for the helicopter that services Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain; Pequod is the name of Ahab's ship in Moby-Dick. Where the ship Pequod was destroyed at the end of Moby-Dick, however, the Saltash is the second ship boarded by the protagonist of The Cruel Sea (the first was torpedoed), and it notably manages to survive World War II within the plot of the novel.
    • The name of the offscreen character M.W. Mond is a reference to the Tezuka manga MW, and Mustapha Mond from Brave New World. At one point, he adopts the pseudonym Matthew William O'Brien. The surname "O'Brien" is a reference to the similarly named character from Nineteen Eighty Four.
    • When Venom Snake performs a punching action with his prosthetic in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, it produces a noise similar to the memetic "bionic strength sound effect" from The Six Million Dollar Man. Armsmaster explains that this is actually an in-universe Shout-Out, specifically documented in the notes of the scientist who created Venom Snake's prosthetic arm.
    • The title of the second epilogue, Valkyrie, may be a Shout-Out to the movie of the same name, wherein Tom Cruise depicts Claus von Stauffenberg, a historical German military officer who participated in Operation Valkyrie, a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Like Venom Snake — and by extension, Taylor — von Stauffenberg had a damaged eye and a missing arm; however, where the former had a damaged right eye and missing left arm, von Stauffenberg lacked a left eye and a right arm.
    • The references to Father's Day during The Sting may be related to the film Father's Day (2011), wherein a crazed one-eyed vigilante called Ahab attempts to hunt down a demonic serial killer who murdered his father.
  • Simulation Game: Similar to the Big Shell arc of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the entire plot of the story arises as a consequence of the VSS or Venom Snake Simulation, a project created by Revolver Ocelot to artificially cultivate Taylor Hebert as a reproduction of a "legendary hero".
  • Sniping Mission / Sniper Duel: The showdown between Taylor and Miss Militia is highly reminiscent of sniper battles in the Metal Gear Solid series. Possibly, this is due to the fact that Taylor is Quiet's biological daughter, Miss Militia is this world's version of Sniper Wolf.
  • Superhero Origin: Played straight, with Taylor's debut as a sort-of Non-Powered Costumed Hero.
  • Stealth Parody: The contents of the fic are ostensibly serious, with few exceptions. However, knowledge of the Metal Gear Solid continuity turns the entire story into a Reference Overdosed In-Joke. The story summary provided by the author indicates that this was the intent.
  • The Stinger: Following the two epilogues, there's an unnumbered chapter titled "Ex. Truth: Daniel Robert Hebert," wherein Danny Hebert converses with Code Talker. Paralleling the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain mission titled "Truth: The Man Who Sold the World," the chapter provides an explanation that recasts the events of the story in a much darker light. Taylor and key characters that attended her in the course of her recovery from the locker incident have been subject to unspecified Mind Manipulation in order to condition her as an intentional Distaff Counterpart to Venom Snake, her biological father. Taylor's arm was unnecessarily amputated specifically to grant her the use of Venom Snake's prosthesis.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Averted in Miss Militia, as per Canon. Despite having killed as 9-year-old child, she doesn't feel particularly guilty or traumatized.
  • Time Skip: The sniper battle versus Miss Militia is the last time that Taylor appears on-screen within the scope of the fic's plot. The next time she's mentioned again, roughly a month has passed, and she's involved herself in the battle against the 4th Endbringer, Sahelanthropus. What she's done in the interim is never described, but she is now popularly referred to as "Venom."
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • Chubster is this during his recount of the battle against the 4th Endbringer, Sahelanthropus. Though his stated version of events is accurate as far as he knows, other characters posting to the PHO Forums point out his inaccuracies and lack of clarity.
    • Armsmaster and Taylor serve as major point of view characters in earlier chapters. However, their actions are revealed to have been compromised by Mind Manipulation in the epilogue, which calls into question the reliability of their line of thought as a vehicle for the narrative.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 11, titled "(Reunion) The Patriot." Up until this point, the fic was largely a humorous romp featuring a Taylor with Venom Snake's power-set. However, this chapter recasts events in an open confirmation that the events of the Metal Gear Solid continuity are historically extant within-setting. Specifically, it's revealed that Miss Militia was in fact Sniper Wolf all along, and that Big Boss was deeply involved in the shaping of the setting's history. This gives context to the strange historical trivia that frequently came up in the narrative within preceding chapters.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Taylor's makeshift superhero costume is a military uniform purchased from an army surplus shop. By description, it seems almost identical to the generic uniform used by soldiers of the Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF) in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, balaclava included.
  • The Worm That Walks: Code Talker, who triggered with the Administrator Shard. At over 130 years of age, his body is now comprised mostly of parasites. As the Administrator Shard grants him significantly more control over his flesh than he canonically possessed, he appears healthier and more mobile.
  • Zeerust: Inheriting variants of Venom Snake's Schizo Tech equipment from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Taylor gains access to an assortment of apparently futuristic or bizarre devices that were actually abandoned technologies designed between the 1950's and 1980's in-universe. In many cases, they were conventionally substituted by Worm-verse Tinkertech.

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