While the following contains numerous and abundant spoilers, many facts about the story are nevertheless omitted for brevity. Be warned.
The story begins late on a Friday morning in Mr. Gladly's World Issues class on the day that he introduces the subject of parahumans. The protagonist, fifteen-year-old student Taylor Hebert, has been looking forward to the class for the whole semester, but struggles to pay attention, noting that Mr. Gladly (or "Mr. G", as he asks his students to call him) is her least favorite teacher.
Immediately after World Issues is lunch, a meal which Taylor has been eating in one of the women's restrooms in order to avoid the trio of fellow students who have been bullying her — Madison Clements, Emma Barnes, and Sophia Hess. Unfortunately, they find her in a locked stall and dump juice all over her and into her open backpack, ruining her textbooks and clothes. It is after the trio have left victorious that we discover that Taylor is actually a parahuman herself, possessed of the power to detect and control insects, spiders, and the like, and that one of the bullies — Emma — was once Taylor's best friend.
In any case, she dismisses the insects and leaves the school midday to ride the bus home. Looking at the contents of her bag, she sees that one of the destroyed items was the notebook where she was taking notes on how she could become a superhero with her powers. She initially despairs over trying to recreate all the information in a new notebook, but after she gets home, showers, and examines her costume (a bodysuit she was making out of black widow spider dragline silk), she decides to take it as a sign that she should stop preparing and start her career immediately, that weekend.
She buys the remaining pieces for the costume on Saturday and finishes assembling and dyeing it Sunday, then leaves for her first patrol on Sunday night. She mentions in the narration that her running routine (which she had taken up to build her strength and endurance preparatory to becoming a superhero) had given her a good knowledge of the neighborhood, but that she had never been into the worst, most crime-ridden parts of the Docks until her patrol that night. As she travels along the streets, gathering insects and spiders from her surroundings to bring with her, she spots members of a local gang called the Azn Bad Boys (ABB) gathering in front of a building, including the leader, a supervillain named Lung who generates fire, regenerates quickly and becomes more powerful the longer he fights. Wanting to eavesdrop on their conversation, she climbs the fire escape of the adjacent building and sneaks around to a point over their heads, where she overhears him ordering his followers to shoot the children. Realizing that she doesn't have any way of getting in touch with official groups of heroes such as the Protectorate to alert them, she resorts to using a share of her swarm to attack the gang, biting and stinging (without injecting venom) the mooks while biting and stinging (with venom) Lung in all the most vulnerable places (including there).
Lung proceeds to decimate her swarm with his fire powers, eventually simply setting himself on fire in order to kill any bugs that try to approach him. Realizing that she was unable to do anything else against him, and that his gang was scattered enough to disrupt his operation, she begins to retreat towards the fire escape when Lung's instant reaction to her stepping on the gravel roof reveals he has superhuman hearing. He then proceeds to jump most of the way to the top of the building and climb the rest. Taylor quickly checks through the items in the storage compartment in her armor and pulls out a tube of pepper spray her father gave her, as the best she can find that might still affect him. It does, but when she tries to run for the fire escape he is still able to blast her with a gout of flame before she can reach it. She finds herself trapped on the roof and out of options, just waiting for him to heal enough to be able to spot her in the darkness, when a massive animal jumps onto the roof from a nearby rooftop and slams into Lung. The animal and Lung end up in a fight on street level as two others arrive, each bearing two people in costumes — two male and two female, all high school age.
After the four new arrivals disembark, one orders the other animals down to ground level to attack Lung while the others start up a conversation. Taylor remains silent as the leader thanks her for her assistance, introducing himself as Grue and his companions as Tattletale, Bitch (called Hellhound by heroes, in an attempt to remain politically correct), and Regent. They stop when Tattletale alerts them to the approach of a superhero and Bitch calls her dogs (that being what the giant animals were) back up to the roof. Grue then offers Taylor a ride out, which she refuses, and Tattletale advises her to leave, as a member of the Protectorate who encounters two villains fighting is likely to detain them both. It is not until after they leave that Taylor realizes both that the children Lung planned to kill were supervillains, and that said children assumed she was one as well.
She remains on the roof as Armsmaster — the leader of Brockton Bay's Protectorate team — arrives on a motorcycle and uses his Halberd to quickly reach the roof. He yells a challenge to Taylor, who informs him that she is an (aspiring) hero; which (to her surprise) he believes. When she expresses her surprise that she was not killed by Lung, he reminds her of the Wards (the junior version of the Protectorate); in order to avoid having to discuss her reluctance to join said organization, she asks about Lung. Armsmaster informs her that he had found Lung beaten unconscious and tranquilized and locked him in a cage. Taylor then gives him a full briefing on the fight. Armsmaster then reveals to Taylor that the gang of teenage villains she met had been an infuriatingly-evasive liability, with both Regent and Tattletale being completely unknown entities.
He then asks Taylor whether she wants credit for helping take down Lung. He warns her that taking credit would be dangerous, as other members of the organization (including Bakuda, whom he informs her is a tinker specializing in bombs who was recently recruited by Lung) would then target her; he advises that she either join the Wards for protection or keep her involvement in the capture of Lung secret. She realizes that the latter gives Armsmaster the opportunity to take the credit himself, but not wanting to join the Wards, reluctantly opts for it anyway. Armsmaster praises her for it, and tells her to call the Protectorate Headquarters (PHQ) if she ever needs help before departing.
Interlude 1 (following Danny Hebert)
The chapter opens with a narration about the history of parahumans, starting with the first, a golden man seen floating over the open ocean on May 20th, 1982, who is latter dubbed "Scion". Shortly after the narration segues away from Scion and other early parahumans to talk about the beginnings of government involvement, we see Danny Hebert, Taylor's father, turn off the TV and pace worriedly — it was three-fifteen in the morning, and he had woken just after midnight to the sound of the back door of his house closing and discovered Taylor was not in her room. We learn from his narration that his wife is dead; also, that he fears she either went running (a routine he knew she found calming) and was accosted or that the bullies at school (whom he knew of, but not the identities of) who had been targeting her had lured her out.
When he hears her come in, he decides to remain in his room until she returns to her own room, so as not to humiliate her by confronting her if she had just returned from being bullied, but when he steps out in the hall to knock on her door, he smells jam and toast — from which he concludes that she wasn't returning from any such encounter. His fear turns into anger, but in keeping with a promise he made to himself not to inflict his temper on his family the way his father did, he remains in his room, eventually calming enough to sleep and deciding to talk to Taylor about her midnight excursion in the morning.
Taylor returns to school the following day, but gives up and leaves partway through the day after repeat encounters with the bullies and Mr. Gladly. After some online research, she discovers an invitation to meet with the villains from the previous night, and accepts.
At the meeting, Tattletale, Grue, and Regent invite her to join their team, the Undersiders. She agrees, planning to learn more about them and turn them over to the Protectorate. Bitch interrupts her tour of the team's loft by attacking the newcomer, but Taylor surprises the others by giving as good as she gets. Grue breaks up the fight and convinces Taylor to stay despite the hostilities. He and Tattletale give the combatants first aid while explaining more about the team's operations, and Taylor calls her dad to tell him she's hanging out with friends.
Closing interlude: Victoria Dallon, AKA Glory Girl of the unorthodox hero team New Wave (made up of a family of heroes whose civilian identities are publically known), interrogates an Empire Eighty Eight thug about the situation in the Docks following Lung's capture. Her adopted sister Amy Dallon, AKA Panacea, a powerful healer, is introduced when Glory Girl goes too far in her interrogation and needs Panacea's healing abilities to ensure that she doesn't kill or maim the thug.
After negotiating with the Undersiders' unidentified sponsor, Tattletale proposes that the team rob the Brockton Bay Central Bank. Her teammates consider the pros and cons, and eventually agree to go through with it.
Still planning to stick with the group long enough to identify their sponsor, but hoping to avoid jail if something goes wrong, Taylor contacts Armsmaster. He's impressed by what she's learned so far, but becomes frustrated when she says she can't tell him what she knows (for fear of alerting Tattletale to her real intentions), and outright balks at the idea of protecting her from criminal charges. He agrees to keep their meeting a secret, but they part on less than friendly terms.
Determined to succeed without his help, Taylor goes ahead with the robbery alongside the Undersiders. They face more opposition than expected, including nearly the full roster of Brockton Bay's Wards (sponsored younger heroes). Unbeknownst to the Undersiders, one of the hostages in the bank is Panacea, causing Glory Girl to arrive and take the situation personally. With the help of Tattletale playing head-games by threatening to reveal a secret that Panacea does not want Glory Girl to know, the villains manage to escape unscathed with their haul. Key characters introduced in this fight include Vista, a young female Ward with the ability to alter the dimensions of physical space, and Clockblocker, a male Ward who can freeze objects or people in time for several minutes by touching them.
Closing interlude: the Wards and other heroes debrief with the Parahuman Response Team (PRT, the government body supervising heroic activities) Director Piggot, an unlikeable overweight "baseline human" woman, following the bank robbery. Taylor's costumed identity is assigned a cape name: Skitter.
The Undersiders (minus Bitch) hang out. Tattletale takes Taylor shopping. Taylor shares her origin story. Grue reveals his in return. Bitch seems to disappear after being tasked with exchanging the robbery proceeds for the team's reward. They hurry after her and find themselves in a fight with local joke villains Uber and Leet, plus a surprise guest.
Taylor is concussed during the fighting. The Undersiders take her to a doctor for treatment, and Brian and Lisa take her home to her dad. They explain her injury without revealing her identity.
Initial "apology" interlude: Purity reluctantly agrees to resume her position in her ex-husband's organization, Empire Eighty-Eight.
Closing interlude: Brutus goes for a walk with Bitch, which becomes eventful when her destination turns out to be a dogfighting arena.
The villains and mercenary capes of Brockton Bay meet to address the problem of the ABB's sudden sustained offensive. The reader is introduced to the Merchants, the Travelers, Coil, and Faultline's Crew. They split into interwoven teams to attack and dismantle key ABB operations. Taylor works alongside several capes from different criminal organizations, and encounters Lung for the second time.
Closing interlude follows Gregor the Snail, a cape with a nonhuman appearance who works with Faultline. We see a day in the off-duty life of a mercenary cape and learn more about the phenomenon the Protectorate calls the Case 53s.
Out of school with her injury, Taylor spends more time hanging out at the team's loft. She visits Brian's apartment and meets his sister, Aisha.
The Undersiders embarrass the heroes of Brockton Bay at a celebration of their victory over the ABB, and learn the identity of their boss, the extent of his organization, and his plans for the city.
Taylor's dad discovers she's been lying to him about her school attendance, and confronts her, refusing to back down until he knows what's going on. The best thing she can think of is to admit she's an undercover superhero- but faced with the prospect of actually turning the Undersiders in to the Protectorate, she's overcome by her feelings of camaraderie. She leaves her dad without giving him an answer, and resolves to give up on the undercover operation, becoming a real member of the team.
Closing interlude: Canary, a parahuman who chose not to be a hero or a villain, is transported to the Birdcage alongside Lung and Bakuda. We learn more about Canary's alleged criminal offense and the decision to imprison her, and the nature of the most effective parahuman prison.
Gang violence overtakes Brockton Bay once again when the secret identities of the top members of Empire Eighty Eight are revealed to law enforcement and news media by Coil's operatives. The Undersiders mobilize against the white supremacists, first because Tattletale's power makes them the prime suspects, and then to stop the violence spilling out across the city as Purity demands the return of her daughter.
After resolving things with the white supremacists, the team arranges a meeting with Coil to renegotiate their place in his organization. It seems to be going well, until Coil shows off one of his prime strategic assets: a precognitive parahuman of impressive accuracy and control who also happens to be a preteen he keeps captive and addicted to drugs. The resulting moral dilemma drives a wedge between Taylor and the rest of the team.
Closing interlude: Miss Militia recalls events from her childhood and adolescence, including her trigger event, and is the first to learn from Dragon and Armsmaster that an Endbringer attack on Brockton Bay is imminent.
Leviathan comes to Brockton Bay. Taylor joins the assembled capes of the city to fight off the monster.
In the aftermath of the devastating battle, the city is in shambles, and several secrets are revealed. Taylor learns that Shadow Stalker is Sophia Hess. The Protectorate learns that Armsmaster deliberately risked the lives of other combatants to attempt to fight Leviathan singlehanded. The Undersiders learn that Taylor planned with Armsmaster to betray them.
Donation interlude spotlights Tattletale, both before the formation of the Undersiders and during Leviathan's attack.
Closing interlude follows Coil in the aftermath of Leviathan.
Taylor's decision at the end of Arc 8 remains unclear. A series of interludes focuses on the (remaining) Wards of Brockton Bay in the week following Leviathan:
- Weld, a new member transplanted from Boston. A Case 53 who involuntarily absorbs metal items that he touches, absorbing them into his metal body.
- The PRT is working to streamline the acceptance of Case 53s by the public.
- Weld is introduced to the team as their new leader, and receives the PRT's assessment of the status quo post-Leviathan.
- Flechette, a new member transplanted from New York. A "kitchen sink cape" whose powers make her accurate and effective with ranged weaponry.
- We see more about Parian, Brockton Bay's primary rogue, and the area of the city that she's protecting.
- Glory Girl is riding along with the Wards, considering membership now that New Wave is an effective nonentity.
- The Wards get into a fight with the Travelers.
- Kid Win
- The Wards discover that the Slaughterhouse Nine are in town.
- Kid Win holds an initial interview with a potential recruit, a vehicular tinker called Chariot, and learns that he's a mole for an outside agency.
- As they've done with certain PRT agents, the PRT proposes that the Wards accept Chariot and pretend they don't know his real intentions, in order to learn more about Coil's organization and possibly manipulate him. The Wards agree.
- Shadow Stalker
- Sophia follows up on the incident where Skitter learned her secret identity. The result hints at Taylor's decision about her future with the Undersiders.
Taylor and the Undersiders execute a daring heist on PRT headquarters, going up against the Wards to steal classified data. The team has a new member. Regent reveals the full extent of his power, and his origin. Taylor's relationship with her teammates has changed following the end of Arc 8.
When Coil consults Dinah for information about the Slaughterhouse Nine, she reveals a frightening prophecy: there's an event coming that will kill the vast majority of Earth's population. Jack Slash is the first person she's recognized in connection with this: if he leaves Brockton Bay alive, this event happens sooner- between two and eight years, instead of fifteen.
Closing interlude: Regent methodically disassembles Shadow Stalker's out-of-costume life as revenge for what she did to Taylor.
Donation interlude: Dragon reviews some recent communications and draws important conclusions about the identities of two young parahuman ladies in Brockton Bay.
Taylor claims a territory and begins to establish infrastructure, providing food, shelter, protection, and supplies to the people of her section of the city. Sneaking into a Merchants gathering with Tattletale and four of Coil's mercenaries to retrieve a missing person earns her her first two employees: Sierra, whose brother was taken in by the Merchants, and Charlotte, an abductee they encountered and rescued who recognizes Taylor from high school. Faultline's Crew disrupts the gathering and retrieves a prize of their own: a briefcase with the same symbol as the Case 53s, containing canisters purported to give the user superpowers.
EIGHT closing interludes. See next folder.
The Slaughterhouse Nine are in town, and they're recruiting. Eight interludes cover the Nine's visits to certain parahumans, mostly their chosen recruits.
- Bitch receives a gift from the Siberian, and an offer of freedom from other people's rules.
- Bitch receives a wolf pup, who she names Bastard.
- Theo Anders, Kaiser's son and currently living with Purity, navigates a series of terrifying conversations with Jack Slash.
- Jack gives Theo a deadline: kill Jack within two years, or he and the Nine will kill a thousand people in Theo's name, ending with Theo and his baby sister.
- Labyrinth tries to protect her teammates from Burnscar.
- Armsmaster faces an attack (and a comparison) from Mannequin.
- Dragon decides to share her secret with Armsmaster.
- Hookwolf goes head-to-head with Shatterbird before being blackmailed into cooperating with the tests.
- Dinah Alcott does her best to survive Crawler's attempt to contact Noelle of the Travelers.
- Dinah overextends her precognition to save herself and Coil's other employees.
- Cherish draws her estranged brother, Regent, into the Nine's initiation trials out of spite.
- Panacea does her best to rebuff Bonesaw, who claims to have recognized a kindred spirit.
- Panacea violates her policy against affecting the brain (healing her brain-damaged foster father), and runs away from home.
The cape factions of the city meet to discuss their response to the Nine, including Dinah's prophecy. Mostly ejected from the general meeting by Hookwolf's manipulations, the Undersiders and Travelers strategize in private. After the meeting, they encounter half of the current Nine, who introduce Regent and Bitch to the testing process and announce Shatterbird's usual citywide attack. Tattletale is wounded after revealing Cherish's plan to subvert the Nine, but entices Jack to a deal- if the tests end with more than half the candidates surviving, the Nine take the first volunteer and leave town.
Taylor uses her bugs to warn as many people as possible of the imminent devastation from Shatterbird's power. (Her dad is injured, but Coil's medics arrive immediately and take him to get treatment.) While she's working to provide relief to the injured in her territory, Mannequin attacks. He kills several of her people, but she promises to make him regret it, and succeeds.
Donation interlude recaps the history up to this point of Battery, a local hero who bought her powers from Cauldron, and her encounters with Madcap, the supercriminal that she was determined to capture.
Closing interlude: Jack Slash considers Tattletale's offer while he and the Nine massacre the Merchants' leadership and scatter their followers.
The Nine's tests begin. After Burnscar turns a narrow but decisive victory against Mannequin into a mutual retreat, Taylor persuades the Travelers and Undersiders to change tactics and attack the Nine directly rather than risk weeks of attacks without rest. The plan is a success, resulting in the capture of both Shatterbird and Cherish, but the remaining Nine take Grue captive in return.
After the Protectorate refuse their request for help, the Travelers and Undersiders mobilize to rescue Grue (and possibly Imp). They distract most of the Nine by giving their location to the city's other villains, but Bonesaw still manages to capture the strike team, plus an enraged Parian. She's considering a selection of fates worse than death for them when Grue has a second trigger event. He kills Burnscar, heals his captive teammates, and forces Jack to cut Bonesaw's hands off at the wrists and abandon the battlefield.
In the aftermath of the mutual rescue, Taylor attempts to support Brian emotionally. He explains his new power- the darkness he generates has always slightly hampered the powers of other capes inside it; now, that effect is magnified, and he can access some of the ability the affected capes lose.
Donation interlude: Aisha checks in on her mother before attempting a raid on the Nine.
Closing interlude: Director Piggot plans an attack on the Nine, hoping to capitalize on their losses so far.
The Protectorate's attack on the Nine is a success, eliminating Mannequin and Crawler and putting the Siberian on the defensive for the first time. But the string of victories by the heroes prompts Bonesaw to release the penalty she prepared for the Nine's game: a bioweapon that destroys the ability to recognize other people. Unable to identify friend or foe and severely hampered by the resulting isolation and paranoia, Taylor manages to contact Panacea and get her to release a cure, but in the meantime, Jack learns of Dinah's prophecy. Intrigued by the future it promises, he and his remaining teammates leave Brockton Bay with one new recruit- after a quick stop to punish the traitor in their ranks.
One donation interlude: Legend meets with the top tier of the Protectorate regarding the results of his stay in Brockton Bay, including the new information about the Siberian.
Closing interlude: Sierra, Taylor's employee, continues to manage day-to-day life in Skitter's territory, until her boss returns from the campaign against the Nine.
The Slaughterhouse Nine are gone, but now Taylor is convinced that Coil has no intention of releasing Dinah. The Undersiders agree to back her up when she's ready to move against him. She even recruits a new ally in Parian, after donating money to cover treatment costs for the rogue's family members who were altered by Bonesaw.
Her day takes a turn for the worse when Coil orders her, Trickster, and Genesis to deliver a message to the mayor. Intimidating a public official at dinner with his family would be uncomfortable enough, but Tattletale also gets a strong impression that Coil intends for Skitter to be killed in action. And then the Protectorate shows up...
Three donation interludes:
- Carol Dallon, aka Brandish, recalls key moments of her history as a cape before finding out what's happened to her daughters, Victoria (Glory Girl) and Amy (Panacea).
- Brian tries to cope with what he suffered in Bonesaw's lab, and decide how much help he's willing to accept from his teammates.
- Alexandria's history: scenes from her origin as one of the early superheroes, the planning and formal establishment of the Protectorate, the defense against the first Endbringer attack, the first fight against the Siberian, and more.
Closing interlude: Rory Christner, son of the mayor of Brockton Bay, observes events within the Protectorate. After the encounter with the villains at the mayor's house, the local heroes are divided on what measures are appropriate to deal with the current situation, until Dragon and her new partner offer a new option.
The Travelers and Undersiders are on track to have the city under control by Coil's deadline— until seven of Dragon's suits descend on the city with orders to capture them. Coil volunteers the use of his assembled resources to deal with the problem, and offers additional incentives including a promise to honor the condition Taylor proposed. Now all she has to do is make sure the two teams come out victorious against seven times the firepower ever deployed by the best tinker in the world... and then find out if Coil intends to keep his promise.
Three donation interludes:
- Parahuman Response Team squads deploy to eliminate a threat whose powers aren't fully understood.
- Defiant continues the hunt for the Slaughterhouse Nine, and reaches a surprising conclusion about Dragon.
- Marquis tries to guide Panacea through a crucial moment in her introduction to the Birdcage.
No closing interlude.
The origin of the Travelers- all seven of them. We learn how they met, how they got their powers, the nature of their common goal as capes, and why they came to Brockton Bay.
All-interlude arc, similar to Sentinel, but with a single perspective.
The fight with Noelle begins.
In one corner, the Undersiders, the Brockton Bay Protectorate and Wards, and a dozen or so heroes from out of town, including Eidolon.
In the other corner, Noelle, with access to Circus, Uber, Leet, and one local hero.
It doesn't go well.
Four donation interludes:
- Kevin Norton, the most powerful man in the world, makes two important decisions, including naming his successor.
- Crusader reaches a breakthrough in the Pure's ongoing effort to force Theo's trigger event.
- Jessica Yamada holds therapy sessions with a series of parahuman patients from long-term care facilities, the Wards, and even the Protectorate.
- Faultline continues to search for clues about Cauldron, leading her team into a Simurgh quarantine zone... and into mortal danger.
Closing interlude: The newly-christened Echidna struggles with her cape opponents, and with her monstrous other half.
The fight with Echidna continues, and secrets and hidden agendas are revealed. When it's over, nothing will be the same.
Two donation interludes:
- Blasto, a biochemist Tinker and Boston crime lord, embarks on a dangerous experiment.
- The users of Parahumans Online discuss the recent mass cape deployment and the situation in Brockton Bay in general.
Closing interlude: Emma Barnes recounts key moments in her history with Sophia Hess (and Taylor Hebert) as she prepares to move back to Brockton Bay.
Two weeks after Echidna, Taylor goes to high school for the last time.
Donation interlude: Stan Vickers from channel twelve turns this arc from an event into a story.
Closing interlude: Accord meets with the Undersiders alongside other group leaders to discuss terms of operation in Brockton Bay.
Tattletale's portal has attracted several new cape groups to the city. As de facto crime lord of Brockton Bay following Coil's downfall, Taylor sets out to get her house in order. She and the Undersiders fight off the Teeth and the Fallen and forge a treaty with the Ambassadors.
Then she sets out to deal with the PRT. Her first move: surrender.
One donation interlude: The Number Man deals with an escape attempt from one of Cauldron's facilities.
Closing interlude: Parian deals with the fallout of Skitter's surrender alongside the Undersiders, and reaches a personal turning point of her own.
Having surrendered to the PRT, but still holding a number of other cards in reserve, Taylor tries to bargain for the chance that things will change, either in Brockton Bay or the world at large. Director Tagg, naturally, has other plans. Unexpectedly, so does Alexandria.
Things don't go according to anyone's plan. At the end of the day, Tagg and Alexandria are both dead. Desperate to spin this as a positive, the PRT decides to release information tying Alexandria to the events of June 20th, and announce that Taylor had a hand in taking down the traitor in their ranks. She submits to the criminal justice system and announces that she'd like to be a hero someday, taking the name Weaver.
Closing interlude: Charlotte rides out the repercussions of Taylor's announcement alongside the residents of the Boardwalk, the Undersiders, and Danny Hebert.
Donation interlude: Lung recounts key victories and defeats before learning about Skitter's decision and discovering a new faction at work in the Birdcage.
Finally entering the ranks of the Protectorate's sponsored capes, but not yet placed on a team, the newly christened Weaver splits her time between jail and a series of deployments while she tries to find her footing as a hero.
Closing interlude: Number Thirty-Six of the Yàngbǎn assists his teammates against Behemoth in New Delhi, and makes an unprecedented decision that will turn the tide of the fight.
Weaver's part in the battle against Behemoth in New Delhi brings her into contact with various factions, from the Undersiders and the Chicago Wards to Cauldron, the Yangban, and the powerful and ruthless parahumans that move through India's underground like shadows.
Closing interlude: Chevalier, badly injured and barely upright but with no intention of backing down, rejoins the fight at the eleventh hour.
Donation interlude: the aftermath of the battle in New Delhi, including its historic conclusion. Perspectives include Defiant, the Chicago Wards, Danny Hebert, news media, Parahumans Online, and Glenn Chambers.
Having found a place as a hero with the Chicago Wards, Taylor begins to prepare for the end of the world. Along the way, she encounters the Directors of the PRT, representatives from more shadowy factions of capes, and the Endbringers' retaliation for Behemoth's death.
The last chapter jumps forward nearly two years: Taylor makes a return visit to Brockton Bay on her eighteenth birthday, before her induction to the Protectorate.
Closing interlude: Bonesaw prepares the improved Slaughterhouse Nine- including herself- for their return.
With over 200 Slaughterhouse Nine clones at his disposal, Jack Slash creates a trail of deadly scenarios across America while continually baiting Theo to try and kill him. Still concerned about Jack sparking the end of the world, Weaver and the Protectorate launch a measured response, enlisting as many heroes and other allies as possible while prioritizing a quarantine between Jack and anyone with the power to create the outcome Dinah warns of.
Donation interlude: Saint, leader of the Dragonslayers, observes the Protectorate's operations and does his best to help.
Three closing interlude chapters:
- Two parts: Theo makes his way to the final confrontation with Jack. With the weight of the world firmly on his shoulders, he makes a discovery that leads to Jack's downfall.
- Scion observes as the heroes capture Jack... and quarantine fails.
As the world reels from Scion's initial attacks, Taylor returns to Brockton Bay with Rachel to help with search and rescue. The apparent futility of her best efforts over the past years nearly sends Taylor into total despair, but Tattletale intervenes at a key moment by inviting her to a council of war.
In the face of an enemy who's never been defeated, the assembled representatives of the world's cape factions agree to desperate measures, including the release of strategic parahuman criminals from the Birdcage and other prisons. Together they stage an initial offensive, and achieve some successes, but at a high price.
Closing interlude (two parts): Eidolon, desperate to accomplish something with his waning powers against a nigh-indestructible enemy, accepts the guidance of the Faerie Queen and makes a leap of faith.
Taylor wakes up in hospital, fully healed, but finds humanity in a much worse state than she left it. After the disaster at the oil rig, defending forces have more or less given up on defeating Scion, and new problems have arisen, ranging from infighting among refugee groups to the presence of multiple Endbringers.
Determined not to let humanity go out with a whimper, Taylor assembles a small squad of known assets, starting with the Undersiders and Defiant, to find and apply solutions wherever possible. In the process, however, they discover new assets as well- ones whose power serves to rally the remaining parahumans to try again.
Interlude: Doctor Mother uses the abilities of some Cauldron assets to investigate the status of various cape groups as they prepare for war- and discovers that one group has escaped her notice, with potentially deadly consequences.
Emboldened by the recruitment of the Endbringers, the gathered cape factions stage an assault on Scion, and meet with similar levels of casualties as previous efforts- this time with an added element of psychological attack as the golden man experiments with different methods of destruction.
In the aftermath, Taylor decides to investigate the sudden lack of communication from Doormaker and the rest of Cauldron. She and her strike team encounter several factions with their own connections to the power brokers as they make their way through the organization's main headquarters. Eventually, they discover the source of Cauldron's samples, and land what might be the first real hit against Scion before returning to base to share what they've learned. In the end, Taylor settles on a radical new direction for her efforts.
Closing interlude: Contessa finds herself in desperate straits.
The impromptu brain surgery Taylor requested from Panacea has taken her power to new heights, but at a steep cost. Armed with the ability to utterly control other people, but stripped of the power to explain her intentions or coordinate with allies, she'll have to overcome the available parahumans of several Earths, the alien intelligence behind Scion, and her own deteriorating mind and body in order to save humanity and survive the experience.
Five donation-funded chapters, followed by a closing interlude:
- An orphaned adolescent of frightening power takes a big step toward finding a place for herself. (Ciara, formerly Glaistig Uaine)
- An Undersider emerges from hiding to pay respect to the legacies of fallen friends. (Aisha)
- Earth Bet's greatest hero returns from her long absence. (Pandora, Dragon's backup)
- A former Brockton Bay criminal mends a fence with a hometown hero. (Rachel)
- A mastermind with an extensive grasp considers what to reach for next. (Teacher)
- Taylor moves on, and the Undersiders mourn and regroup.