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Nightmare Fuel / Ward

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Unmarked spoilers below.

In General

  • Though he definitely wants to be a good guy, Chris is pretty scary.
    • While it's first appearance can be pretty funny, the description of Mad Anxiety is outright disturbing. A warped face with a partially detached lower jaw surrounded by countless twitching, fleshy insect-like legs that constantly grab and pull at the forms head as it skitters around, emitting a constant scream of pure mortal terror as it skitters around with incredible speed. Many commenters described it as something that wouldn't look out of place in the work of Junji Ito, or a Silent Hill game.
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    • Chris later tops himself... herself... with Brooding Anger. Picture, if you will, a tardigrade the size of a small bus with limbs gnarled with claws, armored plates covering its body, and a distorted porcelain mask resembling a human face for a head. Now imagine that when it moves you can see its transparent flesh in between the armor, which gives you a lovely view of what's inside. And what is inside it, you may ask? Over a thousand creatures that are halfway between man and grub with clawed fingers, masks that resemble their parent's, and a very debatable ability to do anything but kill whatever they settle on as a target. A smidge more Bloodborne than Silent Hill via Echidna, that form.
    • Later he shows off a form called Twisted Betrayal, something that looks like someone fused a humanoid and a bird, then twisted and broke it into something that shouldn't even be able to move. He then backs up its frightening appearance with actions by ripping Goddess apart despite her incredible power. And that's not an exaggeration, he hooks his claws into her and tears her organs out. There's an extra layers of horror to that: either Chris becomes so detached in some of his forms that he doesn't hesitate at such an action, or he's always been willing to do something like that.
  • The Machine Army in Interlude 3, which were briefly mentioned in Worm to be quarantined within Eagleton, Tennessee, are fully revealed to be self-replicating robots that are hostile to humans and work as ambush predators. Dot's Interlude has her witness them systematically murder an entire group of scavengers with blades, darts, and poison gas, before systematically cleaning the area of blood and bodies so that no one else is the wiser. Even a cape who happens to be with them doesn't last very long and is ultimately put out of her misery by Dot. What's worse is that following the Golden Morning, they've spread to the other side of the Raleigh chasm.
    • as of Interlude 19.z they have Simurgh biological material. you know the stuff Bonesaw thought was too dangerous and world ending to work with back in Worm.
  • The Fallen. Previously only seen as a cult with a distasteful gimmick the group has now, after the Gold Morning, grown into something much more powerful and sinister. Rain's interludes best highlight the countless disturbing and realistic practices they make use of. From the indoctrination of more followers through appeal to hate and fear in their doctrine and sermons, detailed information on the disturbing arranged marriage system where people who are still teenagers can be forced into marrying and having children with relatives or people many times their age and the sheer fact that the group is growing stronger and stronger as more refugees from Earth Bet arrive makes the Fallen several degrees more nightmarish than they once were.
    • Then we have Mama Mathers. Leader of the Fallen clan Rain's family is part of and a Cape with an exceptionally terrifying power. Once Mama Mathers 'marks' someone with her power she becomes aware of them and everything around them every single time the victim thinks of her, which she uses to control and monitor both her clan and her enemies. Furthermore, her power haunts the victim with creepy hallucinations of herself and making the already difficult task of forgetting about and negating the power near impossible. Her abilities are so emotionally draining to her victims that her own son willingly brainwashed himself into accepting and loving the hold his mother's power had on him.
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    • The aforementioned son of Mama Mathers, Elijah from Rain's interludes? He is Valefor. And after his blinding at the hands of Skitter, Valefor is now able to control people with his words alone with no eye contact required. The friendly and upbeat Fallen member Lachlan, who Rain repeatedly converses with, is revealed to have been brainwashed by Valefor into dropping his previous life and becoming an enthusiastic poster boy for the Fallen.
    • The story of Peat and Fen, two Case 53s who were making a name for themselves and becoming icons to Case 53s all over Bet... until they went down the wrong road, were caught by some Fallen and had their horns chainsawed off as trophies, dying from the blood loss.
    • One of the high-ranking Mathers Fallen is Bamet, who can mutate animals by stealing intelligence and features from humans and permanently melding them into the animals. The results are reminiscent of a horror game. The two 'animals' seen in Pitch 6.3 are a man with a pig's head and a horse with a human's face, both of which are human enough to understand English, implying that either their human consciousness remains or their animal minds were warped enough to reach human intelligence, but neither can respond. Erin also states that they're human enough to warrant not being put down.
  • Remember all the horror and devastating power of the Endbringers in Worm? Well, they're still out there. True, Behemoth and Leviathan are taking dirt naps and the survivors are in hibernation, but the fact remains that ones remaining are just as dangerous as they ever were. Except now there's no Scion around to beat them back, the unspoken rules governing heroes and villains are shattering, and there's no mass scale organization that can act against them should something set them off again. Everyone is terrified that something might wake them back up, and they have plenty of reason to be.

Arcs 1-5

  • The broken trigger event in Flare 2.4. Over ninety people trigger in a very short space of time, and none of them survive thanks to a rather nasty quirk of their triggering: when their Corona Pollentia activates, it becomes locked to a certain point in space, and when all of them eventually moved, their Corona tore their brains apart.
  • Victoria getting stuck as a giant mutated blob for two years was bad enough, but it gets worse when Shadow 5.10 reveals that she spent the whole time with Amy's 'love me' programming in her head, fucking with her thoughts and emotions, unable to change or nullify them.

Arcs 6-10

  • Torch 7.2 reveals even more horrible tidbits about Victoria's time as a meat garden: not only did Amy also program her to feel constant heartbreak because they couldn't be together, blob!Victoria was made using whatever animals Amy could find, and when she turned Victoria back to her old self, she didn't remove all of the animal DNA.
  • The Graeae twins, part of March's group, had a particularly nightmarish past: they were actually triplets who cluster-triggered, but unfortunately cluster-triggers tend to come with Kiss/Kill. Their older brother got Kiss and Kill, and while he's now dead, it suggests that things got very nasty for them.
  • The Eclipse arc gives us more information on Orchard, a team who were briefly mentioned in Worm as coming for Brockton Bay: one of them has the ability to alter others' minds, and the other has the ability to mutate others' bodies. Together, they take ordinary humans and turn them into custom-ordered slaves. Licit explicitly says that they bought prisoners from other countries and mutated them into half-cow people to sell to fans of a children's show.
  • Prison inmate Kathlee Rosenthal's, AKA Monokeros, ability to inflict intense emotion and read the memories of people she targets with her power isn't what truly horrifying about her. It's her nature as a deluded serial killer who would enthrall children and take them apart in the belief that it restores her youth that disturbs much more.
    • Confronting Monokeros after she ensnared Kenzie with her power to send a message, Ashley and the team are confronted with a disturbing look into the deranged cape's psyche.
      "Don’t they say that if someone lives on in our hearts, they’re still with us? They say it when a family member dies, but when you use my diplomatic pull ability, draw them in, take them apart with delicacy, never sullying them, but working with an eye for beauty... and then watch the light go out of their eyes, slowly, slowly, slowly," Monokeros luxuriated in her own words. "Mm. If you hold that moment more dear in your heart than any parent could hold onto the memories of their child, no, you’re a murderer. It’s death this time, the idea of holding onto memories is some kind of falsehood all of a sudden because the child is gone. Hypocrisy."
  • Goddess- more specifically, her compulsion power. Not only does it work without the afflicted noticing anything, it works on people who aren't even physically near her. Breakthrough get whammied through their projections. And worse, it's not a power that turns people into mindless slaves, it leaves them more or less as they were before- but they now want to help Goddess and serve her, and will turn on those who do not have the same interests. This leads to Victoria fighting Byron, the only one who didn't get affected, and later, the rest of Breakthrough ask Victoria if she's prepared to kill Byron if she has to.
  • The Gleaming interludes give us some insight into Byron and Tristan's backstory, particularly the events leading up to their trigger, their general situation, and the incident that nearly got Tristan labeled a villain. It's not pretty.
    • For starters, their trigger event? After years of Tristan supplanting him from any social group he tried to build and leveraging his greater popularity to crush any attempt he made at setting himself apart from his brother, Byron tried confronting him over it. And when Tristan proved unwilling to listen and unable to understand, Byron snapped and tried to strangle him. The end result managed to be worse than successful manslaughter, leaving the two of them sharing a life and a body while hating each other's guts.
    • It turns out the non-active twin isn't just looking through the other's eyes. They share every sense, every perception, every movement. The description makes it sound a lot like the victim of People Puppeteering, except somehow even worse because you're not helpless in your own body. That extra twinge of "something's off" comes from a body that's a bit different then your own, making you even more disoriented because the muscle and fat are just a little different in proportion, the hair just a little different in length, while the whole time you feel everything as if you're the one in the driver's seat but without any ability to control what you do.
    • We also find out at least part of the incident that caused Tristan's falling out with Reach. While pursuing a vendetta, Tristan lied to his team and said that he couldn't change back after Byron had been hit by by one of the villain's attacks, tearfully proclaiming that he thought his brother was dead. The above point describes exactly how bad being in the backseat is, and in the present day Tristan hired some of the worse mercenaries out their to inflict a Fate Worse than Death on either of them if they start disobeying their schedule. Now imagine exactly how bad it would be to be trapped in this situation for who knows how long without hope for an end. Yeah, it's bad.
  • The fight with Lung in Gleaming 9.11. He was never someone to take lightly even in Worm, but there we only ever saw him going up against villains with the ruthlessness needed to end the fight before he could fully build up his power. Here he's already significantly powered up by the time we see him and he only gets worse from there. Over the course of the fight he turns everything around him into a hellscape of smoke and fire, utterly decimating every attempt to hurt him. At one point Rain and Victoria manage to cut him in half, only for him to heal the wound shut before he can even fall apart. It's not just his power, but his appearance that become frightening. His face splits apart into multiple "petals" with additional glowing eyes and a fanged mouth that extends down his neck. It's made worse by the fact that he doesn't roar or yell in anger. In fact the only noise he makes during the whole fight is a single low chuckle when his enemies realize he's past the point where they can hurt him. And on top of all of that he's smart, using his own pyrokinesis to spread and control the power-igniting fire and throwing off Goddess's attempt to impale him with a decoy. This is the man who once took on Leviathan in single combat and it's terrifyingly clear just how dangerous he could be if he wanted to fight for the sake of fighting.
  • Sveta in Gleaming 9.13. When the rest of the team finds her, she seems to have lost control of herself, out of her armor, mute, and tendrils flaying everywhere. She is also clutching a bundle of black fabric. Victoria asks her what happened to Swansong, Crystalclear, and Ratcatcher, and in response, Sveta chucks the bundle, which contains bits of flesh. Thankfully it only turns out that Kingdom Come has possessed her, but for a moment it really seems like Sveta lost control of herself and killed one of her friends.
    • No "only" about it: Sveta has been going through a very good imitation of her very own hellscape. Taking her hard-won physical and mental control away from her? Isn't doing wonders for her peace of mind. First Goddess, then Kingdom Come and now Monokeros trying to weigh in with the whammies when they don't have a clue how her body works and can't entirely stop it acting on auto? Yeah: no wonder she's going through another "please jug me up in a curled ball" phase.
  • In Polarize 10.6 Tattletale finally reveals to Breakthrough how it is possible for a cluster trigger cape to get a Power-Up without killing the other cluster mates. And in true Wildbow fashion the answer is pretty much a texbook case of Fate Worse than Death. To actually get the new power at full potency the cape has to first trick the shard. How to do that? Well to start you have to be in close proximity (arm's reach proximity to be more exact) to the cluster mate for days to entire weeks, and since it's unlikely that the cape wants to part from his or her power then it's practically a given that a good old fashioned kidnapping is necessary to keep them close, and since they probably are going to try resisting the attempt at power stealing, maybe some starvation and drugs are necessary to keep them weak. Step two is even worse, because it needs the DNA from the person in question and it needs to be in your body. Sex and saliva are the less messed up ones of all of them so you know this is going to get even more fucked-up. Blood is even better choice for a sample, and a blood transfusion is the best and more safe bet to trick the shard. However there is still a issue with this. You're not compatible to the type of blood? Don't worry you still have the option of doing a literal blood bath a la Countess Bathory, or some cannibalism to boot. It also adds to a new level of creepiness that so many capes are willing to do this procedure on a clustermate, even if they hate them, and that Tattletale actually encourages Rain to do it and join March for it.
  • In Polarize 10.10, Victoria, Crystal, Vista, Golem, and Cuff wind up at a crime scene where three heroes were murdered, each torn to dozens of pieces and left scattered around the area. Bad enough, sure, but it gets a lot worse when Victoria discovers that the heroes are still alive, and possibly every single piece of them is alive.

Arcs 11-15

  • Blinding 11.6 reveals the true extent of Nursery's power: she creates tiny fetus monsters that instinctively try to burrow inside capes through every orifice they can reach. Parian gets several in the mouth and nose, though thankfully they're removed.
  • Breaking 14.8 has the Gimel group attacked in prison for the crime of being capes, by prisoners and guards armed with everything from knives to yo-yos made of razor wire. Victoria's hand gets partially degloved, including two of her fingernails.
  • There's something downright unsettling about the cut Wildbow used to symbolize Amy healing Victoria: five of the dots used as a scene breaks, three of them red to symbolise Amy's three fingers tattooed red and two left white. The stark red on black is eerie.
  • Many of the capes and defensive measures Teacher brings to bear are horrific.
    • The Syringe Breaker creates areas where needles are as plentiful as blades of grass, erupting from every surface and angled to get the unwary to prick themselves. As soon as they strike home they inject their payloads, dosing the unfortunate victims with terminal diseases and addictive substances. Worse, all of these are slow acting, ensuring that anyone who gets pricked is doomed to suffer an agonizing death over the course of weeks or months. Her appearance is equally horrific, thin enough that she looks like she should snap apart under her own weight and moving on a rippling carpet of her own needles that pierce her feet and legs to propel her forward.
    • The Leper is the partner of the above cape and is nightmarish for his own reasons. First, his whole body is a mess of tumorous growths and pus. Second, he shrugs off almost all damage, including having his head mangled to the point that there's nothing even resembling a face. Third, that durability isn't even his main power. His main power is to amplify any latent infections and diseases in someone's body, causing them to manifest their total lifespan's worth of symptoms in seconds before burning themselves out. Normally that would make him good for a detox, but his partner's ability makes it much more horrific. When he uses his power to target those infected by the syringe breaker they rot apart and are beset with a myriad of other grotesque symptoms, dying in seconds and in agony.

Arcs 16-Present

  • Dinah's prediction of the future in From Within 16.4. It paints a grim picture for the story's future:
    Dinah: Eighty point three six one five percent chance of mass death that extends across realities. That remaining nineteen percent? Fifteen percent of it is worse. Where we don’t even get to die. The other four percent isn’t pretty either.
  • From Within 16.12 includes a vision of Dr. Yamada and Riley fighting, with no contexts for why or how the fight started, that ends with Yamada strangling Riley. The chapter notes that Bonesaw never came back and that Yamada quit being a therapist after returning. While Yamada didn't kill Riley, the experience left its mark on both of them.
  • In Radiation 18.6, we finally get to see the oft-joked about true power of Parian, only it's no joking matter. The reason her cloth creations always seemed so clumsy, why her power never quite seemed intuitive? It was never meant to work with cloth, or needles, or any of the many small things she used it for. It was meant to work with skin. Generalities aside, the reveal is even more horrifying as she flays the dead to stitch their hides together into a massive, bloodied doll, even using tendons and hair when thread ran out for the stitches.
  • Arc 20: Last provides us with something we only saw glimpses of previously: a battle against the Simurgh. Everyone experiences constant screaming in their ears, as well as hearing voices whispering things targeted at their mental weak points. The Simurgh uses telekinesis to mess with lighting and vision to produce scenes out of a horror movie, playing on people's fears. Friends and teammates slowly go insane, attacking each other if they're in the area too long, and everyone knows that they are a ticking time bomb before becoming a pawn of the Simurgh themselves. You can't fully trust anything: not your senses, not your friends, not even your own thoughts. And there's the constant paranoia that whatever you're doing now is just playing into the Simurgh's long-term plans, regardless of whether you're under her control or not. This gets turned way up when the Simurgh seizes control of the Mathers giant, and uses it to begin producing pan-sensory hallucinations and illusions in anyone who sees it.
  • Epilogue 20.e6 shows us some civilians who were killed by Bitter Pill. Their bodies begin producing enormous amounts of grey fluid, more than their own body mass, and they turn into raging zombies, trying to infect as many people as possible with the liquid.