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Recoil is a Worm fanfic by Ack (also known for Hope Comes to Brockton Bay and Security! (Worm)). It has discussion pages at SpaceBattles and Sufficient Velocity.

Warning! Unavoidable spoilers for Worm canon follow!

The fight against Behemoth in New Delhi takes a wrong turn, nearly resulting in a Total Party Kill. Taylor, one of the few survivors, is discovered by a Not Quite Dead Phir Sē and sent back into the past to try and do better. However, things don't go quite as planned, starting with the fact that her bug-control powers didn't follow...


This fanfic contains examples of the following:

  • Above the Influence: Taylor gets smashed and Kinsey has to help her to bed where she admits she's lonely and needs comforting. Kinsey gently stops her from kissing him and lulls her to sleep.
  • The Ace: Between her natural intelligence, Lisa's hints, and knowledge of the future, Taylor soon becomes well-known in the PRT as the lead cybersecurity expert and foremost analyst. She's also an expert marksman with pistols and a formidable opponent in hand-to-hand.
  • Ascended Extra
    • Mrs Knott from canon introduced as 'Gladys Harvey', given that she's in high school at the time.
    • Aster Anders from canon, introduced in Part 5-4 as 'Doctor Ruth Goldstein' and then revealed as Purity's one year old daughter, sent back fifty years from 2011. The next four chapters cover what she's been doing since then.
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  • Badass Normal: Kinsey has no powers or special mental advantage like Taylor. He is however exceptional in combat and even trains himself to resist mental influence so well he actually countered Mother Mathers and Valefor.
  • Badass Teacher: Mrs Knott, again Taylor's influence causes her to attend JROTC and then ROTC, so that she's more confident and capable than in canon.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Taylor's become such a good shot that all her lethal shots are these.
  • Brainy Baby: Aster triggered as a one year-old and gained a secondary power that gave her perfect recall of everything she had seen, mentally maturing her enough to handle her primary power.
  • Breeding Slave: Taylor deduces that the proto-Fallen cult has been abducting teenage parahuman girls in an attempt to breed parahumans.
  • Broken Pedestal: Aster grew up believing her mother was a hero and that Taylor had a master plan. When she meets Taylor, she's shocked to learn her mother was a criminal and that Taylor is winging it.
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  • Brought Down to Badass: Taylor loses her bug-control powers after being sent back to the past. Doesn't stop her from kicking arse.
  • But Not Too Bi: Anne-Rose (Taylor's alt-mom) is portrayed as being a little bisexual, enough to be having a relationship with Andrea when Taylor meets her. However, once Taylor sets her up with Danny ...
  • The Captain: Taylor ends up as one.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Subverted at times. Taylor keeps Kinsey on his toes, and vice versa.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted in 5-3. One mook asks why they don't just shoot through the walls at Taylor and co. Another one has to tell him that the bullets might overpenetrate and cause Unfriendly Fire.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Phir Sē drops Taylor in the ocean right in the middle of a boating accident where two yachts sank with no survivors. With a hasty claim of amnesia, it's assumed she was the only survivor of one of them.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Taylor regularly chats with Lisa in her dreams, and Lisa possesses far more insight than Taylor's subconscious should have.
  • Danger Deadpan: In Part 5-1, Taylor notes that the pilot of her helicopter remains calm and factual even while the fatally damaged chopper is plunging toward the ground.
  • Death by Despair: After the destruction of New Delhi, Taylor was entirely willing to die sitting by Lisa's cairn as she felt there was nothing left to fight for. Phir Sē discovered her corpse resting next to Lisa but used his power to reach her before she died.
  • Dented Iron: Taylor managed to walk off a lot of major injuries in canon which makes her need to use a cane, even long after the initial injury, much more notable.
  • Dirty Business:
    • Taylor knows that she couldn't give too much advance warning about a Behemoth attack if she wanted to keep her cover. But knowing that doing so led to more people dying that she might have saved eats at her.
    • Taylor also hates that she has to (pretend to) play nice with Thomas Calvert.
    • In 6-1, Taylor knows she's going to have to murder Eidolon in order to rid the world of Behemoth, but she doesn't like it one little bit.
    • In 7-0, Taylor shoots a four-year-old child in the head. It's Valefor, and he's trying to make Kinsey commit suicide.
    • Two instances in 8-0. Andrea, on Taylor's orders, incites riots against the Los Angeles Protectorate and PRT in order to keep Alexandria busy during a key meeting. During said meeting, Taylor uses a drug, explanation, and body language to convince Eidolon he created Behemoth and the only way to make amends is by dying against him.
  • Dream Land: Lisa creates entire landscapes within Taylor's head to host their interactions.
  • Faking Amnesia: Taylor claims to have no memory of her life after arriving in the past.
  • Frame-Up: A patrolling Protectorate hero hears somebody yelling "Stop! Thief!" and assumes the only running person he sees is a purse snatcher. When he tries to grab them, the man throws himself to the side so his arm is crushed by a passing car and begins yelling the hero threw him into traffic. Turns out there was no purse and nobody can find the person who was yelling. The man was a gangbanger paid to take the fall by Andrea's mercenaries.
  • From Bad to Worse: The battle in New Delhi was already devastating, but when Phir Sē hit Behemoth with his attack the Endbringer redirected the power into a blast that leveled the city. And a later interlude reveals that unlike usual Behemoth didn't stop but instead carved a path of destruction halfway around the planet, hunting down Aster.
  • Future Slang: Taylor gets to use present slang in the past.
    • She uses the term 'cape' occasionally, usually by accident, years before it becomes current.
    • In Part 5-1, she introduces the term 'End-Bringer' specifically to do with Behemoth.
    • She has to stop herself several times from referring to the Protectorate leaders as the "Triumvirate" since there's still four of them.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Subverted when the victims of the parahuman breeding program of the Brotherhood of the Fallen decide that some of them don't actually want to go through with the unwanted pregnancies resulting from their ordeal. Given that about half of them are teenagers, this is actually not unexpected. There is also a Hand on Womb moment.
    • Magical Abortion: Also subverted. The girls are offered transit to a state where abortion is legal, where they can talk to a counsellor and decide what they really want before going through with it (or not).
  • Heroic Suicide: Eidolon charges straight into Behemoth's kill zone without any defensive powers in hopes of stopping him. It works as his last thoughts essentially ordered Behemoth to stand down.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: L33t accidentally kills Shadow Stalker this way after she suggests killing an infant for the greater good. Nobody raises any serious objections to it.
  • I Should Have Been Better: Taylor saves tens of thousands of lives when she "predicts" Behemoth's attack on New York ten hours early. But people still die, and she feels guilty over that.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...:
    • In 4-11, Taylor tells Marquis that he'll live, because she only shot out his kneecaps. On being asked why she didn't kill him, she replies that it suits her for him to be alive and free ... for the moment.
    • In 5-0, Taylor asserts that she was not intending to seriously harm Captain Gordon, because it would have turned out much worse for him had that been her intent.
    • Inverted in 5-1 when Taylor finds out Gordon's thwarted plans for her, causing her to want to harm him seriously. Kinsey talks her out of it.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Taylor is entirely straight, with Andrea even saying she's the straightest girl she's ever met. Despite this she and Andrea end up in a loving relationship based on an emotional connection rather than sexual attraction.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Taylor carries out the assassination of Heartbreaker relatively early in his career but it's heavily implied that Alec was conceived just minutes earlier.
    • Taylor's attempt to stop Ned being wrongfully sentenced and triggering in jail leads to him encountering Night Terror and triggering as a result.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: 5-4 starts with members of various law enforcement agencies squabbling over how to handle a supervillain prisoner.
  • Last Kiss: Taylor gives one to Lisa in her dying moments. But it's not their last kiss ...
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Taylor puts together a lot of impressive-looking statistics to hide the fact that she's actually using knowledge of the future.
  • Loophole Abuse: Marquis Would Not Hit a Girl. But abducting and harming a male comrade to use as leverage? Perfectly fine in his book.
  • Magic Feather: The tapes Taylor use to put herself into the state needed to contact Lisa aren't actually needed.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Ned Hollows became Crawler in the original timeline when he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced for murders carried out by the parahuman Night Terror. This led to his trigger and transformation into Crawler.
  • The Mole: In 5-3, it is revealed that Rodriguez is sympathetic to the Fallen.
  • Moral Guardian: Dorothy Hebert, Taylor's alt-grandma. Fervently Christian, fervently anti-gay.
  • My Own Grampa: Some readers were worried that Taylor meeting her alt-father would spark this trope. Nope. Just nope.
  • Never My Fault: Lt Gordon's vendetta against Taylor that started over the fact that she wouldn't sleep with him ultimately gets him court-martialed, and only gets off with a other-than-honorable discharge rather than jail time because some of his crimes were done while Mastered (which only happened because he ignored Taylor's protocols on how to avoid, detect and/or resist Mastering). He still think's everything is Taylor's fault.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Taylor plays a key role in the battle outside Waco despite having been impaled with a piece of debris before it started. The doctors note it's a miracle the debris didn't hit a single vital organ and that the metal was able to keep her from bleeding out for as long as it did. Only some parahuman-assisted surgery saves her life afterwards.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: At the end of Part 5-2, she's injured and low on ammo, but she's just head-shot three of the opposition, so nobody is about to argue.
    "Congratulations. You're rescued."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
    • Nina Veder, ship's doctor and psychologist, who takes Taylor under her wing.
    • Principal Paul Woodbine of Winslow High School. Directly contrasting with Ms Blackwell, of Taylor's time.
    • Major (and then Lt Col) Brian Hamilton, of the PRT Intelligence branch. Taylor's boss and father figure.
  • Retroactive Precognition: Taylor takes advantage of her and Lisa's knowledge of the future in order to further her mission. This includes building a secret economic empire to handle affairs outside of the PRT and predicting the appearance of Behemoth to make herself look better.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: What Taylor's trying to do. Time will tell how it works out.
  • Shout-Out
    • Taylor explicitly picks her new surname from Game of Thrones after traveling back in time.
    • In one dream sequence, Lisa shows Taylor a stack of trade paperbacks referencing other Worm fics by the same author, and by others as well. Lisa comments that she knows what she'll be doing for reading material for a while.
    • In Part 5-1, Taylor references two movies that Kinsey likes: Return of the Dragon and Heartbreak Ridge (the second one only by a single quote).
    • In 5-4, brief mention is made of three other Worm fics: Burn Up, The Wolf Time and It Gets Worse.
    • Sergeant Kinsey's name was deliberately chosen as a reference to the different ranges of sexual preference in the story.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Aster made the mistake of falling for the attentions of a senior doctor and took a contract to work at the same hospital under him. When she learned he only liked her for the easy sex, she dumped him and tried to quit only to be trapped by her contract.
  • The Slow Path:
    • What Taylor's taking to get back to what used to be her own time.
    • Aster in turn overshot Taylor's time of arrival and had to do this too to reach Taylor. Admittedly, she was only one at the time.
  • Strong Family Resemblance
    • Taylor looks enough like her alt-mother that
      • Andrea mistakes Taylor for her on their first meeting.
      • Danny is able to transfer his latent crush from Taylor to Anne-Rose without a problem.
      • She is able to pass for Taylor in a dark movie theatre in order for Taylor to sneak out and rescue Kinsey.
    • Aster has her mother's cheekbones and her father's jaw; Taylor thinks she looks familiar but isn't sure why.
  • Super Breeding Program: The proto-Fallen cult was attempting this by recruiting parahumans and kidnapping young female parahumans for the more willing ones to rape.
  • Take That!: Aster Anders, the child of white supremacists, is raised in the Jewish faith, and has a close friendship with a black woman.
  • Tranquil Fury: Taylor fights using this; coldly, scientifically and ruthlessly.
    • In Part 1-8, she takes on and handily defeats three would-be bullies, with the side-thought:
    They were woefully under-equipped for any sort of brawl.
    • When the bullies come back with reinforcements at the end of the year (Part 1-9), she is equally unhesitating, but she only uncorks the real whoopass when one of them destroys the tape she listens to for her self-hypnosis:
    I collapsed the baton. Wrapped my fist around it. And punched her so hard that I broke her jaw in two places.
  • Twin Switch: Taylor uses the fact that she and her alt-mother look almost exactly alike to have Annette serve as her alibi while she launches a one-woman raid on Marquis' headquarters to rescue Kinsey.
  • Unpleasant Parent Reveal: Aster grew up knowing only that Miss Militia had said her mother was a hero. She is horrified when Taylor reveals that her parents were Kaiser and Purity.
  • Unknown Rival: Taylor was largely oblivious to Gordon's machinations even as she casually bested him.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Part 2-4. Behemoth emerges for the first time.
    • Part 5-4. Taylor wasn't the only one Phir Sē sent back in time; so was Aster Anders.
  • Wham Line
    Part 2-1: Oh shit. My mom's in a lesbian relationship with my room-mate. What the fuck do I do now?.
    Part 3-1: “The name's Tom,” he greeted me. “Tom Calvert.”
    Part 5-1: He frowned. “Okay, I'll bite. If they're not stockpiling guns, what are they stockpiling?”
    My voice was flat. “Parahumans.”
    Part 5-4: We've never met before today. I knew your face but you didn't know mine. You have, however, met my mother and father. I was sent back to the year nineteen sixty-one, in Seattle. I'm thirty-four years old.
    And my birth name is Aster Anders.
    Part 6-2: When sweet old Deborah Goldstein reveals that she's a Holocaust survivor.
    More that that; checking the dates involved reveals that she went through Auschwitz as a child.


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