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Fanfic / Queen of the Swarm

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Queen of the Swarm is a Worm fanfiction by Vherstinae, in which Taylor triggers not only with her canon powers, but also — due to indirect contamination with the remnants of a Cauldron formula during the locker incident — the ability to modify her bugs, and eventually create and control Zerg-like creatures, along with an Adaptive Biology gradually turning her into the eponymous Queen of Blades.


Somewhat Lighter and Softer than canon (for now), with a focus on character development, Queen of the Swarm looks at different aspects of the characters than are focused on in Worm, most notably Taylor's self-image issues.

Currently hosted on SpaceBattles,, and Sufficient Velocity.

This fanfic contains examples of the following:

  • Action Girl: Self descriptive in Taylor's case.
  • Adaptational Badass: In addition to her canon powers, Taylor has the ability to create many of the creatures of Zerg.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In Starcraft, Hydralisks are some of the meanest and most sadistic Zerg there are. Here, they are more like monkeys in their curiosity and attitude.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The names of the canon Zerg creatures are changed:
    • Zerglings are now Raptors.
    • Hyrdalisks are Spikers.
    • Larvae (the little proto-Zerg that you mutate into individual Zerg) are now called Uglybugs. They were renamed to eggbugs after Atlas died.
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    • Tattletale and Bitch also change their names to Foresight and Cerberus once the Undersiders are given parole.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Emma's reason for bullying Taylor wasn't malice but Sanity Slippage following a trigger event that drove her to awaken Taylor's powers. After a bit of therapy, Emma acknowledges she was wrong and apologizes to Taylor.
  • Adaptive Ability: Taylor's Breaker power allows her to change her body to adapt to different threats - for example, getting burned by Lung led to her getting fire-resistant skin.
  • Afraid of Their Own Strength: Taylor is terrified of her powers and every time she finds some form of comfort, they become worse.
  • Alternate Universe: Quite a few things change from canon.
    • In general, lots of characters seem to act differently, but by Word of God, this is due to Taylor subconsciously pulling a Jack Slash thanks to her powers. She herself is also affected.
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    • This time around, the reason Emma bullies Taylor is due to triggering during the ABB incident and making her throw herself into being attracted to anyone with triggering potential or powers.
    • Because of the dramatic change to Taylor's body, she is unable to hide her powers from Danny before she goes out to be a hero. However, they bond over this, leading to a much stronger relationship.
    • Because of their actions during Bakuda's bombing spree, The Undersiders decide to reform and create another hero group. They receive parole and do so.
    • It's the Butcher 13 that comes to BB, instead of 14.
    • Kaiser goes crazy after losing all of his territory and goes on a killing spree. He dies before Leviathan shows up.
    • Bonesaw is the first of the Slaughterhouse 9 to die, as opposed to canon where she survives the story.
  • Anti-Hero: After becoming heroes, the Undersiders kept using underhanded combat tactics because they were more concerned with saving people than with political correctness.
  • Anti-Villain: Although they committed crimes, the Undersiders's motives weren't evil: Taylor wanted to protect people, but she thought no hero team would accept her; Lisa was recruited by Coil at gunpoint; Rachel was a runaway devoted to save dogs...
  • Badass Normal:
    • Raymond Marks. Just a random victim of the S9... who turns Jack Slash's head games back on him and laughs in Jack's face as he dies.
    • Director Piggot, which is why she almost manages to beat Jack Slash - his hidden power only helps him against other paras.
  • The Berserker: Taylor has a tendency to act like this in fights; it often leaves her critically injured.
  • Big Applesauce: During 6.04 and 6.05 the Undersiders are there for a TV interview and some tourist activities.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Steve the cuddlebug, of all things, is this for Amy when Bonesaw comes after her.
  • Body Horror:
    • When Taylor is shoved into the locker, she can feel the insects crawling inside her.
    • The shifts in Taylor's body are fairly extreme. Retractable claws on both her hands and feet, her hair replaced by chitinous brain extensions; and the way she creates more Zerglings, vomiting up Larvae after unhinging her jaw. Many people are Squicked, the first time they witness it.
    • Taylor almost has a nervous breakdown when she has her first major power shift, and regurgitates a large, maggot-like monstrosity that doesnt even have any sort of brain. Turns out it's actually a kind of organic egg, which contains the genetic material to create fully formed bugs. It's not really a lifeform on its own.
    • What Bonesaw does to Glory Girl. And what Amy does to Bonesaw later in the same chapter.
  • Break Them by Talking: Taylor does this to the trio in 1.02.
  • Broken Pedestal: Taylor was a fan of Armsmaster and Alexandria, but gets her expectations crushed early on.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Happens a few times when overconfident people try to mess with Taylor or her team.
    • When Shadow Stalker kidnaps Taylor.
    • When Coal (not to confuse with Coil) attacks the Undersiders.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The time-locked spiderweb net by Skitter and Clockblocker. First it's used in 7.03 to pin Leviathan, forcing the Endbringer to break off its own arm to escape. Then again in 8.07 to pop the Siberian!
  • Chekhov's Skill: Across many Worm fanfics, Armsmaster is commented to have a talent to say the absolute worst possible thing. Here, he weaponizes it, baiting Mannequin into a close-range fight that ends with the mad Tinker's death.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Shadow Stalker does this to Taylor in 4.01 because she just wants to make her suffer.
  • Consolation Backfire: When Amy is about to heal Taylor, Taylor tells her things that greatly help her, but when her healing goes wrong she blames herself and feels even worse for having "betrayed" Taylor.
  • Contagious Heroism: Taylor to the Undersiders.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Deconstructed. Emma bullied Taylor for months because she was trying to help her to trigger and gain powers. When her therapist explained how Taylor had felt during that time, she was horrified.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In 1.04, Taylor beats Lung without a scratch.
  • Eye Scream: Sophia gouges out one of Taylors eyes while trying to torture her to death
  • Flat "What": Taylor has this reaction when Emma hugs her and says that she is proud of her:
    "Taylor!" Before I could react she'd closed the distance between us and enveloped me in a bearhug, like the last two years had never happened.
    "What the fuck!?" I squirmed to get free but Emma wasn't budging. I'd need to get rough with the psycho bitch, and–
    "I'm so proud of you!"
  • Foreshadowing: This happens quite a bit, obviously.
    • The entire point of the prologue is for this purpose. It's the reason why Taylor has a Cauldron shard.
    • In 1.02, Taylor concentrates hard "to the point I expected my hair to catch fire" and loses her hair later in the same chapter.
    • In 3.02, Regent says "What? Did you figure out the ultimate question? Can you see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Have you found a way to grow boobs?" Later on, her powers makes her grow boobs.
  • Forceful Kiss: Emma planted one on Taylor in 1.05.
  • Formerly Fat: After Piggot gets treated by Panacea. Justified in that the biomass utilized to heal her had to come from somewhere.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Taylor thinks she could forgive her former best friend for betraying her and bullying her since Emma's sincerely sorry and trying to make amends, but she cannot forget what happened.
    I doubted she could ever be my best friend again: no amount of mental gymnastics could remove the fact that it'd been her face sneering at me, taunting and abusing me. I might not be able to forget, but I could forgive, and so long as Emma could settle for being a basic friend (and control any other urges: I caught her eyeing me several times) I saw no reason why this arrangement couldn't work.
  • Freakiness Shame: Subverted. When Gregg tells Taylor that her transformation makes her look badass, she gets angry and replies that her body changes are painful, make her look a monster, and she hates them.
  • Freak Out: Happens to Piggot in 5.02; she manages to push through and get over her trauma, which in turn makes her decide to get healed by Panacea.
  • Gaslighting: During the gang war, Aisha occasionally used her "Forget about me" powers and her trickster disposition to do this to enemy gangs' members':
    "Back during the war, we found out one of the households was hardcore ABB. Not actual gang members, but the kind who would – and did – make attempts to smuggle gangers into the neighborhood, where they figured they'd be safe under E88's radar. Now, these were civilians, so we couldn't just beat the shit out of them. We might've officially been villains, but even back then we didn't hurt people like that. So instead, the evil genius here has an idea." I let the information sink in for a moment while Imp preened, before continuing. "She camps out in their house for a week. Brings a pillow and a sleeping bag, sets up in a closet. Every day, she rearranges their furniture. Sometimes it's just little things, like an ottoman being across the room or a glass on the other side of the table. Other times, she spends the whole day to shove the couch into the dining room. By the end of the week, they're freaking out. Of course, when she starts to write satanic messages on their mirrors, that's when they decide it's the last straw. They left the territory and we moved refugees into the house the same day. Now," I addressed them directly, "imagine her and Regent on patrol together. Street vendors would end up painted like clowns and gangers would have their pants set on fire."
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Happens in 1.03, when Taylor is debating whether or not to tell Miss Militia her true powers. She refers to them as her "shoulder spider and ladybug".
  • Good Is Not Soft: The first day alone returning to class after triggering has Taylor bashing Sophia's head against a sink after being attacked, and she threatens to just tell the E88 about where she lives. This isn't a threat anyone would take lightly, less so her. It's the first clue the audience gets that she may be heroic, but she doesn't respond well to threats of any caliber.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Steve tackles Bonesaw('s leg), in order to buy Amy time. Subverted in the end, though, as Amy is able to heal him in time.
    • The original Raptor dies defending Taylor from Lung.
    • Atlas, trying to take on Crawler to save Skitter.
  • Hollywood Acid: How some of Taylor's bugs deal with Lung's scales.
    • It's actually not an acid but a strong alkali, as said early in the story.
  • Hope Bringer: Taylor is quite capable of being this. As Tattletale points out in Interlude 2.z, Taylor seems to have the ability to pick individual quirks and then speak about them, only to uplift the target of her speech.
  • Hybrid Power: Taylor has multiple powers because she has both a cauldron shard and a normal one.
  • I Am a Monster: Taylor does this more than once, but the worst of it is in 3.01 when she has mutated after being healed by Panacea.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In Spawn 1.05 Taylor tells her father about her fight against Lung and her latest meeting with Emma (in which she learnt that her ex-friend bullied her because she was in fact psychologically ill). After hearing her daughter's stories, Danny decides that he needs alcohol, pronto.
    Dad had gotten home just as I bade goodbye to the Barneses and I now had two long stories to tell him. By the end of the discussion, he needed some booze and I needed to relax.
  • It's All My Fault: Taylor has an episode of this during 3.01.
    And, more than anything. God damn me. It was my fault that mom died. If I hadn't been texting her, hadn't needed her to comfort such a weak daughter, she'd still be alive. I let Emma drift away. It was my fault Sophia got her claws in her, my fault she went crazy. It was my fault dad was so stressed, my fault for being so pathetic that I let three bullies destroy my life. I couldn't even help Panacea. A monster like me trying to make her feel better? My entire existence was a cruel joke.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: Taylor notices this when she's about to be shoved into the locker.
  • Karmic Death: Dinah Alcott kills Coil with one of Coil's merc's laser rifles. Not only that, but Coil's power can't save him, either – it only changes how he dies.
    • Sophia Hess is killed when she tries to escape in her Shadow form, and the acid from one of Taylor's bug bombs dissolves her shadow, leaving her real body partially dissolved when she solidifies
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Jack Slash. After nearly every other member of the S9 is brutally massacred, including the Siberian, Jack tries to make a break for it, straight into a PRT ambush. He is repeatedly gunned down, and when that doesn't finish him off, is thermited until he's nothing but a pinkish smear on the asphalt.
    • Crawler. After Atlas' Heroic Sacrifice, Taylor barfs a Zerg parasite into his brain, where it rips apart his body apart from the inside, in spite of him trying to adapt, and eventually turns his meat into a Zerg Hive.
  • Killed Off for Real: Kaiser, Chariot, Coil, Bonesaw, Atlas, Crawler, Jack Slash
  • Logical Weakness: The Siberian, apparently according to Foresight's revelation: Physics-violating unstoppable force? Meet the even more physics-violating immovable object!
  • Loophole Abuse: The Fairy Queen signed a binding contract saying that she would spend 300 years in the Birdcage, but nowhere in the contract did it say that she had to spend them continuously. So she sees nothing wrong with breaking out for a short vacation so long as she always comes back.
  • Loving Bully: Emma bullied Taylor because she genuinely thought that she was helping her dear friend.
  • Magnetic Hero: Lisa describes Taylor to be this way in 2.z.
  • Mood Whiplash: Done magnificently in 8.04. Taylor comes out of her meeting with Madison, not only with the closure she was seeking, but now more determined than ever to do good with her powers. Then she finds out that the Slaughterhouse Nine are in town.
    • Followed by Director Piggot giving everyone a truly epic Rousing Speech, completely annihilating the previously bleak atmosphere.
  • Morton's Fork: Coil's death. No matter which direction he tries to dodge, Dinah still lasers him in half in both timelines.
  • Must Make Amends: This becomes Emma's raison d'être after her therapy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: During her therapy, Emma realizes how much of an horrible person she's been.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: Taylor's appearance after she wakes up from the locker incident.
  • Orifice Evacuation: The way Skitter bring her critters to the world (through the mouth, mind you).
  • Parental Substitute: Danny becomes this to the Undersiders.
  • Power Incontinence: Taylor's adaptive biology causes weird changes that make her vomit an impossible amount of creep early on.
  • Power Glows: How Emma's power allows her to perceive parahuman ability.
    • Tastes Like Purple: Different powers, to her, have subtly different "colors". Notable in that Taylor is repeatedly mentioned to have two colors at once (her two shards), and that Eidolon has multiple.
  • Power is Sexy: In 1.05, Emma basically reveals she's attracted to parahumans, the more powerful the more so.
  • Promotion to Parent: Brian tries to get legal custody of his little sister Aisha to get her out of their home before their parents screw her up.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: This happens to Taylor in 1.02; she ends up beating the shit out of Sophia.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: After realizing how much she's hurt Taylor, Emma is genuinely sorry and wanting to make amends. However, Taylor doesn't believe she can forgive her.
    In all honesty, I wasn't certain if I could ever be her friend again, no matter what help she got. I could never forgive her, that was for certain. No matter what was wrong with her mind, the evils she had perpetrated on me would never go away. Perhaps one day I could stop hating her, but she would never again be my best friend.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Taylor's Cuddlebugs. Small, fuzzy, affectionate, volleyball-sized critters that squeak when they're squeezed. What more need be said?
    • As of Interlude 8.x, at least some are able to squeak by themselves.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Taylor, briefly, after Atlas is killed by Crawler.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Emily Piggot. Made even more so, by the fact that when she was killed, she was in the middle of kicking Jack Slash's ass and was literally about to finish him off.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • Taylor does this from the get-go.
    • Brockon Bay's Protectorate pulls this on the main branch when they decide to hire Fautline's crew and ask for help from the Undersiders unofficially, in order to deal with the gang wars.
  • Stealing the Credit: Armsmaster does this to Taylor when he takes credit for Lung being taken down when she told him she wanted it. Subverted, however, in that he genuinely thought it was the right call to make.
  • Stress Vomit: This happens to Taylor after insulting the trio in 1.02.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: Taylor decides to add a cloak -and a shirt- to her hero costume when she realizes that she can use them to conceal more bugs.
  • Team Dad: Danny, all the way.
  • Terror Hero: Taylor. Despite usually trying to appear friendly and her creations having the personalities of dogs or monkeys, they have no trouble ripping people to pieces. This disturbs everyone, especially Taylor.
    • They had the intelligence of a dog, and when their owner dropped the leash and felt pain they acted like one, they attacked the threat, using the full of their abilities.
  • Took a Level in Idealism: Taylor and the Undersiders were teen criminals because they felt the system failed them. Later on, they realize they can become heroes.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: This happens to Piggot after Taylor keeps showing her that despite her powers she's still a good person.
  • Tranquil Fury: Regent goes through something akin to this, when talking about his sister Cherish during the S9 briefing.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • The Empire 88 attempt this during Bakuda's bombing spree. They use it as an excuse to expand their territory. If not for the actions of the Undersiders, they likely would have taken the city because of it.
    • Also during Bakuda's spree, the Undersiders publicly protect a large swath of territory which earns them the support of the people of Brockton Bay. They get a group parole because of this.
    • Subverted with Sophia Hess. The PRT was aware of her delinquency-having been on parole-and she made no attempt to hide her true self from her teammates. But they willfully ignored it because she was getting results. Taylor's accusations cost her place in the PRT, and have her carted off to jail. Taylor, however, is pissed with the PRT for letting Sophia off for so long.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Subverted. Emma and Taylor were friends until Emma broke their relationship off. However Emma never stopped thinking of Taylor as her friend. Later on, Taylor found out about her reasons, and although she's uncertain that she could ever be her friend again, their relationship has gotten better.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Emma, somewhat.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The Undersiders and Danny to Taylor frequently.
  • Zerg Rush: Subverted. Taylor doesn't have the numbers to do this yet, but gets pretty close during Leviathan's attack.