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The unwritten rules that govern the fights and outright wars between ‘capes’ have been amended: everyone gets their second chance. It’s an uneasy thing to come to terms with when notorious supervillains and even monsters are playing at being hero. The world ended two years ago, and as humanity straddles the old world and the new, there aren’t records, witnesses, or facilities to answer the villains’ past actions in the present. One of many compromises, uneasy truces and deceptions that are starting to splinter as humanity rebuilds.

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None feel the injustice of this new status quo or the lack of established footing more than the past residents of the parahuman asylums. The facilities hosted parahumans and their victims, but the facilities are ruined or gone; one of many fragile ex-patients is left to find a place in a fractured world. She’s perhaps the person least suited to have anything to do with this tenuous peace or to stand alongside these false heroes. She’s put in a position to make the decision: will she compromise to help forge what they call, with dark sentiment, a second golden age? Or will she stand tall as a gilded dark age dawns?

Ward is the fourth Web Serial Novel written by wildbow, following Twig, and is the direct sequel to the hit web novel Worm, taking place two years later. Following the events of the previous series, Victoria Dallon, previously known as Glory Girl of Brockton Bay's New Wave, is released from her asylum and is forced to find her way in a fractured world.

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It can be read here and the character sheet is under construction here. As of May 3, 2020, Ward is complete, to be followed by a story set in the same universe as Pact, Pale.

This page contains unmarked spoilers for the previous series, you have been warned.


Tropes include:

  • Abusive Parents: More than a few. Amy was neglected by Carol and Mark, Victoria was abandoned all but in name while inside the Asylum, Dean's parents threatened to disown him if he didn't take his father's position in the company, Rain's parents sold him off to some Fallen relatives, Ashley's father would beat his wife and her because of any perceived slight, and Kenzie's parents would beat and poison her for much the same reasons. The less said about Heartbreaker, the better.
  • Action Survivor: Natalie, a lawyer who possesses no powers of her own, often finds herself in situations with dangerous capes and coming out in one piece.
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  • Adaptive Ability: One of Goddess's many powers is that she can "tune" herself to be immune to power effects, such as making herself immune to Victoria's aura.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The Eclipse arc focuses both on present-day Ashley and on Damsel of Distress during the time of the Boston Games, which took place several years before Worm started.
  • After the End: Ward begins two years after Worm concludes. Near the end of that story, Scion went on a genocidal rampage, destroying most of human civilization on Earth Bet and killing billions of people across multiple alternate realities. Ward is set mostly on Earth Gimel, which was an empty earth where Earth Bet survivors evacuated to and are attempting to build a new civilization. The story does allow us to see what has become of Earth Bet, which is basically uninhabitable, filled with disaster areas and unchecked Class S threats.
  • Agony Beam: Aroa can blast out bolts of lightning that induce pain in the target and make them want more of it.
  • All Up to You: Victoria takes charge in fighting back against Teacher's machinations. She and the Fragile One team up to fight is Shard minions and destroy his power connections.
  • The All-Concealing "I": The narrator's identity is hidden until the last line of Daybreak 1.1, which reveals her to be Victoria.
  • Alternate Timeline: Prior to the story's start, the advent of superpowers caused several things to divert the Parahuman Timeline.
    • Betamax won out over VHS.
    • The Iron Giant and E.T. both got sequels.
    • Q-Bert got a racing game.
    • Nicolas Cage played Bender in The Breakfast Club.
  • Alternate Universe: 47 of them are known, including Bet. Some of them are not exactly safe.
  • Always a Bigger Fish:
    • Goddess easily subverts Breakthrough's defenses.
    • Teacher's army holds off the combined might of the Wardens and many other hero/villain teams at once.
    • Played With in regards to Titan Fortuna and the Simurgh. Fortuna notes that she is far more powerful than the Simurgh, but the latter has had years to rig the game against her, leaving her with limited options. Time will tell who's Precognitive powers will come out on top.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Victoria spent two years in a ten-foot long amalgamation flesh and limbs, incapable of speech, and constantly fighting Panacea's mental compulsions to love her.
    • The many unconscious victims of Nursery's power. Victoria suffers from being nearly impregnated, saving herself at the last second and forcing herself to fight, lest she break down then and there.
    • Most of those who go Titan are forced to exist inside an alien body that barely listens to them and fight to retain their awareness
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: Heavens 12.all, on top of the weird name, takes place from the perspective of Victoria's and March's shards. Victoria's uses first person narration, being the only interlude character in all of Wildbow's writing to do this instead of third person.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Rain and Erin have a mutual one in Interlude 5.d, though given that Erin is being coerced into marrying him and is clearly on the edge of a mental breakdown, how legitimate her side of the confession is is strongly up for debate.
  • Anyone Can Die: In true Wildbow fashion, no character is safe. When new threats arise even old and beloved characters can bite the dust.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • During their confrontation in New Brockton, Victoria asks Tattletale "Do you regret your part in what happened with my sister?" Tattletale notably avoids outright answering the question, and Victoria's inner monologue later comments she wasn't actually expecting one.
    • Madison tells Victoria in Glow-worm that after the photoshoot incident, she asked herself if she was a good person, but never actually answered it.
  • Arrested for Heroism: After disrupting Teacher's operations in Shardspace, which would have caused catastrophic damage to reality itself if they had succeeded, minutes or hours away from such a success, Defiant essentially blackmails Breakthrough and the Chicken Tenders into agreeing to letting the Wardens oversee them which then in turn leads to them all being put on a Harsh probation, including being forbidden to have any contact with each other, and ultimately Vicky herself being benched. The other members are put back into active duty in less than a day, but there's very little to suggest that they aren't still on probation. It's particularly egregious because Defiant's reasoning for forbidding them from tampering with Shardspace an arc earlier included his belief that Teacher's operations in Shardspce were not a sufficient threat to be worth immediately working towards and when confronted with evidence that his reasoning was wrong says that he "wouldn't say that it was the right thing" for Breakthrough to ignore his flawed order.
  • Ascended Extra: Multiple major characters take a much more prominent role than in Worm. Most obviously is Victoria, who has gone from side character to main protagonist, but Ashleynote , Svetanote  and Crystalnote  all received massive spikes in prominence as well. The Fallen also take a much bigger role as villains than they did in Worm. Later on, it turns out that Chris is a clone of Lab Rat, who therefore plays a much larger role as well.
  • The Atoner:
    • Madison is revealed to be this in Glow-worm P.9, admitting that she is haunted by the possibility that she drove Taylor to ruthlessness.
    • Rain is one for the crimes he committed as part of the Fallen.
  • After the End: Takes place two years after Gold Morning, Scion's betrayal of humanity.
  • Bad Boss: Mama Mathers is a particularly nasty Master/Stranger running the Fallen. She uses her own allies and people in ways most villains would hesitate to use enemy hostages. In the confrontation with the Fallen she hands out You Have Failed Me Mind Rape like it's going out of style.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The restaurant seen in the first interlude caters to both B-list and A-list villains.
  • Bank Robbery: Bad Apple attempting one leads to a miscarriage and the beginnings of her turning away from villainy.
  • Berserk Button: The city is full of pillars that bear the names and faces of people lost to Gold Morning. Damaging or destroying a pillar, even by accident, is taken very badly by the denizens.
  • Beware the Superman: Following Worm, anti-cape sentiment has increased quite a bit.
  • BFG: Tinkers often build large weapons, but Dragon gives Antares a cannon in the Radiation arc that weighs 12 tons and shoots lasers that can put holes in Endbringer-scale creatures.
  • Blessed with Suck: Heart-Shaped Pupil/Kenzie, whose tinker power makes others afraid of her to the point that she has virtually no friends, but also has had people try to kidnap her for that same power. And she's not even thirteen yet.
  • Body Horror: As should be expected of a wildbow story, things can get pretty gory.
    • Victoria is still traumatized from her mutilation and Mind Rape at Amy's hands, as well as from the emotional trauma that went along with her two year hospitalization. Since Victoria's invisible forcefield conforms to her perception of herself, it still reflects her lingering self-image as a horrifying "garden of flesh."
    • Nursery says she is pregnant with an unborn child who triggered, but it's not clear whether that is the case, if the child is actually dead to some degree or if she's just completely insane and thinks she is still pregnant, with the powers actually being all hers. Additionally, her power slowly transforms the area around her into a twisted nursery which contains a giant fetus monster that restrains and impregnates the orifices of any person it can catch, while keeping them alive as if it were an umbilical cord.
    • The broken triggers in Arc 2 are not a pretty sight. One has a giant pole growing out of his mouth. Another has his lower half transformed into a mass of origami like material. The worst part, however, is that all those people had their Corona Pollentia (the part of the brain that controls superpowers) locked in a particular point in space. Most of them die from the brain damage that even slightly shifting around caused. One particular victim had what is implied to be cerebrospinal fluid leaking down her nose.
    • Bamet, one of the Fallen, can mutate animals by stealing the features (including intelligence) of humans and permanently transferring them to the animals, resulting in monstrous human/animal combinations that are intelligent and aware but unable to do anything about their situation.
    • The villain duo Orchard make slaves to order by using their powers to alter the bodies and minds of humans to match what the client wants.
    • Polarize 10.10 packs a doozy: the Navigators are found with two of them hacked into tiny pieces and the third dismembered and impaled on a building. Worst of all, all three of them are still alive.
  • Bond One-Liner: Damsel of Distress, after she kills Beast of Burden for attacking her and ordering her to stop pissing him off, gives a good one: "You stop."
  • Breather Episode:
    • The first part of Arc 7, Torch, is this compared to the other two. There's no big enemies to confront but rather this arc focus on the team regaining their footing in the new unstable situation generated from the events in the two previous arcs, Shadow and Pitch. The only big event in this arc is Rain's trail for his acts as a Fallen. While the team isn't showed to be completely relaxed, the stakes are lower and not life-threatening. Subverted with the latter half, after the Eclipse Arc, where we learn the truth about Kenzie's family and the Interlude shows us an attack from a enemy Earth to the portal zone and give us a hint of its consequences.
    • Arc 10, Polarize, for the most part. After the intense and emotionally draining arc 9, things start off pretty laid back, with the team having a shopping trip, then investigating what the Undersiders and Love Lost have been up to. Most of the arc is pretty low stakes, with lots of friendly banter and heartwarming moments. Things kick into high gear later on with grade A body horror, a tense gunfight, and the ugly truth about Chris, but the arc still manages to end on a somewhat light note with the wholesome Aiden interlude.
  • Broken Masquerade: Not to the wider public, but amongst capes the knowledge of the Entities—sometimes referred to as Agents—being the source of powers is now much more widespread. Probably helped that trigger events no longer have a Laser-Guided Amnesia component to them.
    Chris: The world was invaded by aliens. People don’t know it, we don’t like to think about it, but they’re here, they’re a part of things.
  • The Bus Came Back: Glow-worm has one of the main characters be Sveta/Garrotte, whose fate was left unknown after the Venom arc. She also confirmed that Weld survived.
  • Bus Crash: In Heavens 12.3 Breakthrough winds up meeting again with the Hollow Point villains, who reveal that Velvet was killed off-screen during the battle with the Fallen.
    • In Valkyrie's interlude, Jessica, Riley and Rinke were all confirmed to have survived. Jessica later rejoined the story, but Riley and Rinke didn't, and no explanation was given. In From Within 16.12, Victoria sees a vision in a crystal of Jessica strangling an attacking Riley, implying that she died some time ago. This is zigzagged, as in a later interlude Jessica states that she only attacked Riley, and did not succeed in killing her. No mention is made of Rinke, however.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Victoria has spent two years without any superheroics and only working with relief efforts across reality, hiding her powers. The call comes for her when a bus full of villains organized by Tattletale targets one of her job sites.
  • Came Back Wrong: Following on from Worm's Teneral, Valkyrie has managed to bring some of her dead back to life... but unfortunately, it's not perfect. They're described as being 'fragile' in body and mind, because they are rebuilt from the shard's "recordings" of the person, which tend towards remembering only the violent and dramatic parts of their lives. Also, in every case, their bodies have been modified to resemble how the shard saw them as capes, leading to body markings, hair and eye colors that resemble their costumes more than the original person.
    • Furcate's power means they're a different case than the others, somewhat downplaying the trope, since it already altered their personality and appearance with every use.
    • Sarah/Photon is definitely nothing like her old self, missing a lot of what made her "mom" to Crystal/Laserdream.
    • Chris/Kid Win and Dennis/Clockblocker both have their personalities watered down to the point they're almost the Theme Park Version of themselves.
  • Character Development: In her chapter of Glow-worm, Sveta is visibly more confident and less constantly horrified by her body than she was in Worm, to the point that she even smiles at a joke Kenzie makes about how her hugs are lethal.
    • Ashley has noticeably mellowed out as the story progressed.
  • Call-Forward: Eclipse x.8 has one of Ashley's old henchmen mention in a flashback that two people they know are headed down to join a gang for endless parties following Leviathan's attack on Brockton Bay, implied to be the Merchants. They likely died during the Slaughterhouse Nine's attack on the Merchants.
  • Canon Immigrant: Velvet and Prancer in Interlude 1 first appeared as side-villains in the semi-canon PRT Quest game.
    • The Old Man/Case 12 was a character from the Weaverdice Wichita campaign.
  • Card Battle Game: One existed in-universe around the time of Worm, before Gold Morning hit. It apparently involved consoles, but there were cards that could be swiped, summoning a cape into a fight. Glory Girl, Panacea and Optics/Kenzie were all on a card for that game.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Multi-triggers, also known as grab-bag capes. They're the result of multiple people triggering in close proximity at the same time. As per Wildbow, each person gets their own power at 75%, and then gets a variant of the other powers at 25%.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Daybreak 1.1, some of the groups in Victoria's files include the Ambassadors and Empire Eighty-Eight, and earlier she compares the angry crowd around a car accident as similar to the baseball riot in 1989 that claimed the life of Vikare, ending the Golden Age of Parahumans.
    • In Daybreak 1.5, Victoria compares Nursery's powers as a Shaker to Labyrinth's, being parahumans capable of warping the area around them.
    • In Interlude 1 one of the capes mentioned as being there is Biter, one of Bitch's old henchmen who decided to separate sometime after Worm ended.
    • Interlude 5.x turns into a a whole segment of one as we discover one of the major political figures turns out to be Citrine from the Ambassadors, and that she's married to and working with the Number Man. The pair, along with his younger clones, are also trying to collect the scattered resources of Cauldron, but have been hindered by Teacher, putting him to be shaping up into a Greater-Scope Villain in the setting.
    • In Polarize 10.3, when Rain goes over what he knows about Chris' backstory, Victoria compares it to what happened to Dinah Alcott when she was kidnapped by Coil, though she isn't namedropped.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: In the same ways that Taylor contrasts with Victoria, her opponents are also generally different. Taylor's power could generally be seen as weak but flexible and long-ranged, and her strength and toughness were baseline human at best, so the opponents that gave her the most trouble were physical powerhouses (e.g. Endbringers, Lung, Kaiser, Crawler, Mannequin, Alexandria, Scion.) or those who had ways of effectively countering her power by destroying her swarm or otherwise neutralizing her abilities (e.g. Armsmaster, Burnscar, Bonesaw, Coil, Mannequin again). These opponents forced her to rely on her intelligence and creativity to get the most out of her powers; many of them could have been defeated by main force, but Taylor rarely had the means to deliver that kind of hit and instead had to outsmart her enemies, or simply survive long enough to figure out a critical enemy weakness. Victoria, on the other hand, has a forcefield that renders her mostly immune to physical damage (at least initially), is incredibly strong in close combat, has an aura that works best up close, and has flight that gives her great mobility. Thus, her greatest opponents are people who can't be easily defeated with a punch or have some other power that prevents Victoria from getting close enough to deliver one. This includes people who control hordes of relatively weak minions that must be defeated or bypassed (e.g. Teacher), people who can turn allies against her or exploit her own mental issues (Goddess, Mamma Mathers, Valefor, The Simurgh), and people or things that can cause problems so great or esoteric that Victoria by herself has little hope of countering them (Teacher again, Cradle, the Machine Army, The Simurgh again, Titan Fortuna and all of the unfriendly Titans, and anti-cape sentiment among the masses of unpowered humans). Victoria's opponents therefore force her to find ways beyond just main force to stop them, or force her to be creative in order to find a way to put herself or her allies in position to deliver a fight-ending blow.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character:
    • Unlike Taylor, Victoria seeks out social interaction instead of being ostracized, and is willing to talk about her problems. Rather than Taylor's aimless desire to do good and survive day-to-day, Victoria wants to get into college and has concrete items on her agenda. Whereas Taylor had a fandom nickname as the Queen of Escalation, the first chapter's text explicitly notes that Victoria de-escalates a fight. While Taylor tried to rationalize every single one of her decisions, no matter how bad they were, Victoria is aware of how poor her mental landscape is and is willing to get help.
    • Whereas Taylor was a deeply cynical person, Victoria tends to be far more idealistic.
    • Even in terms of powers, Taylor was a first-gen cape with a long-range mental power, whereas Victoria is a second-gen with a suite of in-your-face physical powers.
    • Taylor's shard, the Queen Administrator, is one of the most powerful and vital shards to the Cycle. Meanwhile, Victoria's shard is an unimportant bud of Manpower and Brandish's shards that sees itself as waste.
    • At the end of Worm, Taylor has sacrificed everything for victory, including her own mental stability, sense of self, and humanity. She's more Shard than person by the end. The epilogue leaves it vague whether she has recovered to live a normal life in disabled anonymity, is in a coma, or simply dead, but her journey clearly took a massive toll on her that left her with permanent negative effects. Victoria, by contrast, emerges at the end of of Ward having won by facing her trauma, making only necessary sacrifices, and despite going through hell to get there, stronger for the experience and more or less healthy mentally and physically. Rather than being subsumed by her shard, she has made a partnership with it where she is clearly in the driver's seat.
  • Crapsack World: Multiple to choose from thanks to the story’s multiverse setting:
    • Gimel is a giant Mega-City with nearly fifty-million inhabitants, various cross-cultural issues, and Cape conflict, all while on the edge of starvation.
    • Cheit is a monotheistic single-government ruled Earth that threatens war and oppressive regimes.
    • Due to their past history in being conquered by Goddess, Earth Shin hates parahumans with a passion and is willing to go to war with another Earth out of spite.
  • Cutting the Knot: To deal with Valefor's Compelling Voice without killing him, Victoria eventually settles for destroying his jaw.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Antares’ hero costume is a mix of dark black and gold.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Tristan uses his power to kill himself when he senses that he is about to go Titan in the Last arc. Whether this was a Heroic Sacrifice to spare Byron the consequences of Titanification or simply a tragic suicide by someone who had crossed the Despair Event Horizon is hotly debated by fans. Regardless, a small silver lining is that his death opens the way for Byron and Vista to pursue a real relationship without having to force Tristan to experience their intimacy through Byron's body.
  • Death World: Earth Bet has been reduced to this by Scion, with heavy pollution from both destroyed industry and the colossal number of dead bodies, as well as bizarrely cold weather. A number of other examples exist in The Multiverse; Earth Achat's Europe is covered in a highly poisonous mold that makes people puke themselves to death, and Earth Zayin is treated as this due to the Sleeper living there.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: In Eclipse x.6, there's a scene that could be read as either J having given Ashley oral sex, or J and Ashley having simply fallen asleep on the same bed, and there's no clear indication as to which it is. 16.11 confirms that they did in fact have sex.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted with the main characters. All of them except Rain live around the city, but the city is so big that just getting together takes several hours of travelling.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Chastity verbalizes her appreciation for Precipice's... proportions. Victoria is a recipient of this from both men and Amelia, much to her chagrin.
  • Exact Words:
    • In Eclipse x.8, Jack Slash tells Ashley that as part of the Slaughterhouse Nine, if she ever sees anything she wants or doesn't want, she only has to say the word... and not only did Bonesaw take her voice, her hands were turned into blades, making her unable to write, either.
    • When Crock O' Shit, a lie detector, is trying to figure out how Armstrong got tipped-off about the assassination attempt, Cryptid replies that Breakthrough does not currently have electronics and that if they had any, it's all gone by now. Cryptid is not lying here, and does not set off Crock's lie detector. In fact, he knew that they did have electronics before, and that Ashley had destroyed them later.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Played with; while not every villain is a monster, they aren't exactly quick to stop the worse villains from actually committing those crimes. That being said, when pushed on the matter, some like Prancer will help out the heroes.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Later on, the Scry vs. Scry war between Fortuna and the Simurgh amounts to this, with Fortuna wanting humanity to die in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom in order to continue the cycle, and the Simurgh wanting to rule them as they suffer forever.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Snag invokes this trope by name: He, Love Lost, and Cradle want to make Rain suffer one, but they need him dead, so they intend to make him suffer as much as they can before killing him.
  • First-Episode Twist: Victoria Dallon, AKA Glory Girl, is Ward’s main protagonist and viewpoint character. Her forcefield has also changed to match the shape she had while in the asylum.
  • Foreshadowing: In Interlude 9, Valkyrie meets Laserdream, who admits that she's OK with Valkyrie bringing dead capes back to life, but not with Valkyrie interrogating the souls of her enemies. Dying revealed that one of Valkyrie's Flock is Lady Photon, Laserdream's mother.
  • Flying Brick: Victoria’s power-set via forcefield and flight. The emotion aura is a bonus. With the Wretch’s mobile limbs, she can pull off a decent telekinesis impression as well.
  • Genetic Engineering: Rampant in a setting with super geniuses like Tinkers. Blasto creates a giant plant Kaiju by mixing several cape DNA’s together, Chris was designed to be an imprinted clone by Labrat, and the Shin Defense Initiative is the unholy byproduct of Labrat and Red Queen’s tampering of Cape DNA
  • Gone Horribly Right: Kenzie’s camera attempts to see into Rain’s dream-Room. It succeeds but also breaks down the barriers between the rooms and alerts the Shard Avatars. An attempt at breaching the room with Breakthrough also succeeds... but also accidentally ends up dragging Tattletale and the Chicken Tenders in with them.
  • Incompatible Orientation:
    • Vista is attracted to Capricorn, but unfortunately for her, Tristan is gay. And he's also forced by his powers to share a body with his twin brother Byron. He's straight, but he and his brother can both see and hear what the other does while in control of their body, so it's never going to work out.
    • Amy is romantically and sexually obsessed with Victoria. Not only is Victoria straight, but she's also her adopted sister
  • Insistent Terminology: Kenzie interprets almost all her inventions as cameras, to the point where she insists that her listening device is a "sound camera." It's implied that doing so actually helps her work by allowing her to convince her shard that the things she's working on falls under her purview.
    • She also didn't weaponize her cameras by throwing them/dropping them on her enemies. She weaponized the off switch.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • The readers find out that Rain is with the Fallen several chapters before Victoria does.
    • It's not until Infrared 19.8 that Victoria and Breakthrough find out about the existence of the third Entity and original holder of Contessa's Shard, Abaddon, who first appeared in Worm.
  • Interquel: Glow-worm takes place between both Worm and Ward and serves to set up the multiverse as it is post-Gold Morning. Wildbow also said it would be a hint of what would be expected in the latter series.
  • Karma Houdini: The view of the non-cape populace towards the villains who got off due to the amnesty set up at the end of Worm.
  • Lead You Can Relate To: While not everyone can relate to superheroics, many people have had overly-involved and manipulative Parent relationships like Victoria has with Carol.
  • Loophole Abuse: Valefor's Compelling Voice gets used against him by Victoria when she's told to help the Fallen. She ends up "helping" him via depositing him on a rooftop, safely away from the fighting... before he can compel anyone else.
  • Love Confession: Victoria does this to Fragile One once she realizes that her Shard has loved her since she was born, seeing it through the eyes of the hosts who also loved Victoria.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Implied via the Broken Triggers and outright confirmed in Heavens 12.all. With Scion/Zion dead, all of the remaining shards can no longer connect to the "Warrior Hub" or draw power from him, only each other. Victoria's shard (Waste/this waste) likens it to glowing coals slowly burning out while March's cluster (these three faces) desires the exchange of information and hints that Kronos may be capable of fueling them again...
  • Mega City: The main hub of humanity post-Gold Morning, a fifty-million strong megapolis on Earth Gimel with no name.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The latter half of Arc 5 is a multi-chapter spanning version of this, with the Hollow Point villains attacking the Fallen compound under contract from Rain's cluster, and our heroes stuck in the crossfire trying to rescue civilians and save lives.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Discussed by Victoria, who points out in her narration that unpowered humans can learn to fight the same way thousands of others have, and draw on knowledge shared by people who know how to fight like them to improve their skills, while no two parahumans are exactly alike, so they wind up being forced to teach themselves and can miss things that others might have caught.
  • Mundane Utility: Laserdream doesn't own any scissors, as Victoria discovers while staying with her early in the story; she opens containers with finely-controlled lasers instead. She also uses forcefields as trays for carrying food.
    • Damsel's power destroys matter, but doesn't touch her body, so she can use it to destroy all grime and sweat, giving herself an instant bath.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Glow-worm has Madison indirectly asking this, saying that she's become increasingly horrified at how she bullied Taylor, especially knowing that what Taylor did as a villain happened at least in part because of her actions. Victoria doesn't hold back in telling her just how horrible what she did was.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: An Earth Shin faction plots to manipulate Earth Gimel by using dirty diplomatic tactics for their own gain. Kidnapping Breakthrough actually allows the heroes to foil the faction's plot from the inside while making the Shin government appear utterly incompetent, learn valuable intel about the Shardrealm from Amy, and forces them to relinquish power influencing vials as an apology to the Gimel government.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Victoria ends up losing her job after the events of the first arc after she used her power to save people.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: For humanity as a whole. After Gold Morning, humanity has spread itself across over ten different Earths. The PRT no longer exists, numerous cape teams have broken up, and many villains have joined the heroes, while anti-cape sentiment is at an all-time high.
    • The trope comes back with a vengeance after the Fallen arc concludes: portals that were previously under control are now expanded to unmanageable sizes, shaking things up even more. The disappearance of the Wardens has thrown the city into even shakier territory, and the citizens aren't taking it well.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: As it turns out, Skitter trying to depower Valefor by blinding him in Worm didn't quite work: without his eyes, his power shifted to his voice, and still works quite well.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted not within Ward itself, but several characters share first names with characters from Worm.
    • Cryptid and Kid Win both have Chris as a first name.
    • The Number Man has Kurt as his first name, like one of Danny's friends in Worm.
    • Anelace is named Ethan, just like Assault.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The first half of Interlude 3, in which Dot observes a group of scavengers getting methodically wiped out by an army of Humongous Mecha, is like something right out of a horror film.
    • The rest of that same interlude is also a brief shift in genre, to high fantasy of all things; Dot goes on a quest to save her people and hits many of the beats of the hero's journey along the way.
    • Wildbow seems to like to do this every so often in Ward to shake things up. Common genres he shifts to are horror, as mentioned above, and in the case of Antares-Tattletale team-ups, Mystery/Detective stories.
  • Outside Ride: Disjoint pulls this with Velvet's truck during the chase sequence in Arc 5. It backfires hilariously when Velvet starts using her telekinesis to tilt the truck and avoid hazards on the road, with Victoria commenting that she can see the whites of his eyes at a not-inconsiderable distance.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • Arc 12, Heavens, has an odd interlude structure to say the least. The arc begins with an interlude, numbered 12.z of all things. We then get 12.e, 12.all, 12.f, and finally 12.none. We get an answer in 12.none when the Harbingers give an analogy of what happened to Dauntless:
      "Like a localized, misspelled apocalypse," Harbinger Five said. "You get things meant for endings at the beginning, like Z, and that connects to E, which connects to everything, and a few steps later... nothing."
    • Heavens strikes again with Interlude 12.x. The chapter ends with March seemingly killing Foil and Imp, and then stating she'll have to kill their friends as well since they'll be after her. However, if you scroll beneath the "Previous Chapter/Next Chapter" text, the text will continue, with March proclaiming "That’s not supposed to... be there." Vista actually survived her earlier encounter with March by warping her rapier until it only grazed her, which March didn't notice. The resulting explosion knocked her unconscious, but didn't kill her, and she just used the same trick to save Foil and Imp, who proceed to turn the tables on March. When a commenter wondered whether the placement was intentional or not, Wildbow replied "Intentional. It’s almost as if it’s placement was... warped."
    • Ward often uses the circled dot symbol (⊙) to break paragraphs. While this is most often used to signify scene transitions or perspective changes, it is sometimes used for more unique situation as well.
      • Gleaming 9.15 uses it when Victoria consumes the tinker drug and breaks free of Goddess's control.
      • Blinding 11.3 uses it when Imp activates her power.
      • Breaking 14.9 uses 5 of them in a vertical row when Amy touches Victoria, representing her fingers. Notably, the 1st, 2nd, and 5th are colored red to represent her tattoos. This is so far the only instance of colored text in Ward.
  • Parents as People: Victoria describes Brandish as having been completely broken and patched herself back together in a way that only gives her compassion and empathy for a few people.
  • Perspective Flip:
    • The perspective of Ward changes to Victoria, who was generally an antagonist from the perspective of Worm"s protagonists. In particular, at least early on, Tattletale is one of Ward"s main antagonists.
    • Victoria hangs a lampshade on it while receiving one. Working alongside Rachel and her dogs to take down the Fallen and (attempt) to reduce casualties is quite a bit different than seeing her and them as antagonists that can only be dangerous to civilians.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: Eclipse x.8 has one of Ashley's memories of the original be Blasto's Interlude, but from her perspective up until Defiant killed her.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • As of Glow-worm, anti-cape sentiment has skyrocketed in the last two years, both because of the Cauldron/Alexandria reveal, because of how many people got killed by Scion before he was finally taken down, and because the amnesty established at the end of Worm (Every crime a cape previously committed is essentially forgotten, allowing them all to start afresh) has resulted in many, many villains who were not punished for their crimes either going free or even joining the heroes. And even the ones who were punished for their crimes are still seen as getting away with it because their previous deeds are now forgotten. Understandably, the non-capes don't like that at all, especially since the collapse of the PRT means that non-capes now have virtually no authority over the capes.
      • More than that, the people are looking for someone to blame and the capes are the most transparent of them to do so.
    • Earth Bet has been rendered essentially uninhabitable because Scion's attacks left cities and countries shattered, and because clean-up was basically impossible, various industrial plants and sites have been left to seep into the surrounding land and water. The universe hasn't been written off entirely, but making it livable is going to take a lot of effort and they simply don't have it to spare.
    • Brandish's brilliant idea of having Amy and Victoria resolve their issues by inviting them both to a family barbecue and not telling Victoria goes about as well as you'd expect. Her defense that Victoria should have known because she said 'Everyone' would be there also goes about as well as you'd expect.
    • Capes as a whole decided at some point between Worm and Ward that the non-capes should not be told about Khepri or how she defeated Scion. But, as Victoria pointed out in Glow-worm, they can't stop word of mouth, so the full story will get out eventually.
    • The Hollow Point villains have little cohesion and don't work together well, despite being big in number and having lots of firepower, because that's what generally happens when a group of mostly strangers form a team under someone who doesn't have much experience at leading and can't keep control of his people.
    • The battle against the Fallen almost instantly becomes a total clusterfuck when it starts, because when both sides have multiple groups with differing desires involved and the communication between them isn't good, the idea of staying on the rails becomes more like a pipe dream than a plan.
      • Beast of Burden continually antagonises and eventually assaults a powerful, proud cape with little reason to respect him or to hold back. And Ashley winds up blowing a hole in his chest for it.
    • Tattletale and Victoria may technically be on the same side now, but all attempts to work together go about as smoothly as sandpaper, given their history and Tattletale's personality. Victoria having Kenzie as her liaison doesn't exactly help either, given Kenzie's lack of boundaries.
    • Cauldron is no longer subtly manipulating public sentiment, there's no real Parahuman Response team, the Birdcage prison is shut down without Dragon to run it, several of the world's most powerful heroes are dead, and the legal system hasn't really been formalized yet. Because of this, the "unspoken cape rules" have gone out the window. Villains (and some heroes) with potentially lethal powers are shooting to kill. Those without powers are not hesitating to use guns against capes and each other.
    • Damsel of Distress was a proud, vindictive teenager with a power she could barely control, no real backup or organisation, and an inset refusal to be acknowledged as anything other than the top dog. She managed a few small victories, but inevitably, the bigger dogs would come along and effortlessly knock her down, and she never took it well.
    • Goddess is far less competent than she's thought to be, because she's A) a spoiled, sheltered ditz who's unused to being opposed, and B) incredibly powerful, so much so that she's not used to going up against anyone on her level (especially since she was dropped on a world of much weaker parahumans shortly after triggering). While she's still a legitimate threat and exceptionally powerful, she's not infallible, and is shown to be at a distinct disadvantage against Teacher, who has considerably more experience at out-thinking people.
    • As of Dying, we discover the source of the instability of the portals... killing Scion/Zion may have actually made things worse in the long run, as the death of a multi-dimension spanning Eldritch Abomination means that the shards he left behind are either malfunctioning (the Broken Triggers) or coalescing of their own accord, threatening to break reality itself apart in the process.
    • During the raid on Teacher's compound, Breakthrough and Imp manage to free and wake up Contessa. Imp thinks that they've automatically won now that she's awake; unfortunately, life isn't that simple, and Contessa winds up offering them three plans, each with a long list of pros and cons attached.
  • Recruit the Muggles: Victoria makes a appeal for civilian help during the Titans crisis, the volunteers are able to damage the Shard's pace and force the Titans onto a defensive footing which gives the heroes times to win.
  • Theme Naming: The names of the story arcs all relate to light or darkness in some way.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Victoria gives one to Madison in Glow-worm, saying that what she and the others did to Taylor was absolutely horrible, Madison doesn't get a pass just because she was a teenager, and that even after everything Taylor did, she was still a better person than Madison and the other bullies.
    • Accord gives Damsel one in Eclipse x.7, telling her just how insignificant and minor she was, especially compared to the major players in the Boston Games.
    • Tattletale practicaly gives one every time that she meets with Victoria, or Breakthrough.
  • Scry vs. Scry: The Simurgh gets into a contest along these lines with Fortuna. To outsiders, they're just standing there staring at each other for the better part of a day, but in reality they're both constantly updating their plans at the speed of thought and then revising them again when their powers inform them what the other will do in response.
  • Servant Race: Earth Shin has one that was apparently cape manufactured, every member of Bianca's court had a troupe of them. The new government has no idea what to do with them so they've given them to Lab Rat.
  • Shiny New Australia: Goddess offers to take the partially mind-controlled Victoria back to her universe with her and give her her own country if they win, which would also imply remaining Goddess' mind-slave forever. Rain's reaction is what sells it: "A country, wow."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Early on in Daybreak 1.2. A squad is tasked with visiting the span on Norwalk-Fairfield, and one of the residents refers to the place as "the Norfair span".
    • In Interlude 3, Ratcatcher declares "You thall not path" when encountering Dot.
  • Starfish Aliens: In Infrared 19.8, when Victoria and Breakthrough tap into the memories of Fortuna's Shard to see a previous cycle, they see aliens that Victoria describes as most closely resembling Earth animals like wolves and spiders but streamlined down enough to lack their key traits fighting a giant shell that served as their Endbringer-equivalent.
  • Stylish Protection Gear: Several chapters emphasize the need for a costume to be distinctive and memorable while still protecting the wearer.
  • Team Mom: Victoria calls Sveta this in as many words, since she's older, more experienced, and works to hold the team together. Of course, it applies equally well to Victoria herself.
  • Tempting Fate: Subverted in Polarize 10.1. Victoria ends the chapter by saying "Let's not get in any trouble" right before the Breakthrough goes on a shopping trip. Amazingly, the team does not get in any trouble for the next few chapters and ends up having a mostly pleasant shopping trip.
  • That Man Is Dead:
    Victoria: "I don’t want to be Glory Girl," I said. "Someone remarked yesterday that they’d thought she died and... good. She can stay dead."
  • The Theocracy: Earth Cheit is run by one of these. The religion in question is of Abrahamic origin, although nothing else about it has been revealed.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Antares has two confirmed kills to their name and potentially more unconfirmed. These weigh heavy on their thoughts even in life and death battles.
  • Time Skip: Takes place in 2015, two years after the end of Worm.
  • Trauma Button:
    • Amy is Victoria's following what she did to her during Worm, to the point that when their mother reveals in Daybreak 1.7 that she was invited to the family get-together without telling Victoria in an attempt to get them to reconcile, Victoria has a panic attack and immediately flies away rather than face her.
    • Khepri seems to have become a collective Trauma button to just about every cape that participated in Gold Morning, to the point where said capes generally pretend she never existed or just clam up whenever questioned about her.
  • Unfortunate Names: Invoked when Victoria points out that a superhero calling herself 'Fume Hood' sounds like she's calling herself a gangster.
    • Darlene is absolutely terrible at choosing codenames, with most of her ideas falling under this trope. (She eventually goes with 'Syndicate'.)
  • Un-person: Glow-worm reveals that Taylor has become this to an extent: capes refuse to tell non-capes anything about Khepri or her role in the Scion fight, information about her (her Parahumans Online Wiki page) has been removed from the internet, and Madison says that people have got annoyed and upset at her for asking about Taylor, or just brush aside the question.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Victoria, while under the influence of Valefor's power. Even aside from that, limited information and personal trauma can sometimes cause her to perceive events and people in a way readers of Worm will know are false, particularly her perception of Tattletale. This is especially true in regards to anything related to Amy.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Civilization being as unstable as it is, all of the superhero teams don't really agree on the best way to keep the peace, and it shows in how disorganized they are. This problem comes to a head when a team of Advance Guard capes attacks Hollow Point in Arc 5 on hearsay, disrupting the ongoing plan to undermine the villains there.
  • Wham Episode: It's a story made by Wildbow so for everyone familiar with his works, you should expect these in spades.
    • In the first chapter, Daybreak 1.1, there is already one with the reveal of who the protagonist is: Victoria Dallon, who was previously Brockton Bay's Glory Girl.
    • In Flare 2.3 a massive broken trigger happens during a protest where Victoria and several heroes are stationed. At least thirty-two people get new defective powers that are probably killing them.
    • In the next chapter Flare 2.4 the heroes try to contain the broken triggers, but while they succeed none of the new parahumans survive. Later Jessica Yamada ask for Vicky's help, telling her she committed a huge mistake with a group of her patients.
    • Both Flare 2.6, and 2.7 pack a few : Yamada asks Vicky to try to dissuade a group of high-risk patients from the hero lifestyle, because of how fragile mentally and emotionally they are. She talks to them and decides to help them with their attempt at heroism by becoming some sort of hero coach to them.
    • In Interlude 2 is revealed that one of the more stronger candidates to become the new mayor of the megalopolis is Jeanne Wynn CEO of Mortari, one of the newest and most important compaines in the city, and the ex-villain Citrine from Accord's Ambassadors in Worm. She's following his previous plans to win and stabilize the city and is now married to the Number Man from Cauldron, of all people. It's also revealed that several citizens from an allied Earth (Cheit) died in the broken trigger incident, and that Cheit is threatening war because of that.
    • Practically the whole Shade Arc is one with the reveal that Rain is a member of the Fallen, an highly xenophobic doomsday cult that after the end of the world have grown into a genuine threat, he also is a member of a cluster trigger with other three parahumans that want to kill him, and destroy everything he loves. Through the Interludes we learn how horrible his life is with the Fallen and how due to the bleed through of the trigger, he had a change of heart and personality but made the rest of the cluster worse people that blame him for their problems and their trigger. They're also recruiting an army of villains to attack the Fallen.
    • Both Arc 5, Shadow, and Arc 6, Pitch, up the ante in this trope.In Shadow the raid to the Fallen compound begins with the villains of Hollow Point, the Undersiders, and the other members of Rain's cluster attacking to eliminate the cult and flush him out. The heroes, including Vicky and the therapy group, team up to limit casualities and rescue civilians abducted by the Fallen. Rain appears with reinforcements in the form of March and her group, composed exclusively of multitriggers. Lastly Damsel kills Beast of Burden of Hollow Point and surrenders herself to the heroes, blowing her cover as a villain at the same time.
      • In Pitch the heroes capture Valefor and Mama Mathers, but a branch of the Fallen manage to escape and scatter to other settlements forcing Vicky and Tattletale to collaborate to capture them. The latter also reveals the she helped Rain's cluster in the hopes that one of them can become a counter to Goddess a very powerful villain from Earth Shin that conquered her Earth. She is stranded in Gimel since Worm thanks to Khepri and wants a way out to her home. While the therapy team and heroes called by the Undersiders has success in capturing the Fallen, their succeed in their plan and manage to deform and expand the portals that connect the diferent Earths by using Tinkertech from Teacher. This causes an untold amount of damage to the infrastructure of the City and a lot of people go missing, lost in other worlds, including the Wardens and their headquarters, and the people working in them at that moment like Jessica Yamada. On an more individual level Rain kills Snag and absorbs his powers but is almost killed by Cradle. The team saves him but he decides that after recovering he's going to deliver himself to the authorities to atone for his deeds while he was with the Fallen. Damsel as well decides to go to jail in order to atone for killing Beast of Burden and stays a hero.
  • Wham Line:
    • The first chapter of Ward proper deliberately obscured the narrator's identity, making the reveal pack one hell of a wallop:
      "For those of you who’ve just joined us, my name is Victoria Dallon, and I’ll be your squad captain today."
    • Interlude 12.e reveals how the personality bleed in Rain's cluster actually works:
      When we give up our tokens, we give up aspects of ourselves. We change the other. Cradle’s been constantly giving up his tinker ability. To Jonathan and me, then to me alone.
      [...] Giving us the ability to tinker, and making us into monsters. That’s how we bleed through.
      [...] The most galling part of it all- the Fallen boy had never been given anything. Until now. No bleed-through. Just him.
    • The final lines of Dying 15.2:
      My eyes settled on the culprit. The forcefield cape. The feeling crystallized as I caught her looking back at me with those eerie eyes.
      Aunt Sarah.
  • Wild Card: The Undersiders have fallen into this role following the end of Worm. They supply information and muscle to villainous organizations, but only for their own reasons, and Tattletale makes a point of trying to coordinate with Victoria and the team to minimize any potential casualties during the Fallen compound raid. Where they really fall on the morality spectrum nowadays is heavily up for date.
  • Xenofiction:
    • Interlude 3 takes place from the perspective of Dot, daughter of Polka the fourth, one of Nilbog's creations in Worm.
    • Interlude 12.all takes place from the perspective of the the powers themselves (aka the shards/passengers/agents), in particular Victoria's shard and the Three Faces cluster consisting of March, Foil, and Homer.
      • A few chapters later, Interlude 12.f has a few sections from the perspective of Grasping Self, Cradle's primary shard.
  • Your Cheating Heart: From Within reveals that Carol had an affair with Neil Pelham decades before the story starts, meaning that Victoria might actually be Eric and Crystal's cousin and half-sister.
  • Zerg Rush:
    • In a rare non-villainous example, Victoria and the Wardens recruit thousands of unpowered humans to employ this tactic for an invasion of shard-space during the Radiation arc.
    • In a more conventional example, this is standard operating procedure for Teacher, whose power allows him to enthrall and give low-level superpowers to basically anyone he can touch. He then throws the thralls at his enemies to keep them busy while his heavy hitters do the real damage.
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