Self-Crossover: Wyrm

Originally published at: https://eldraeverse.com/2020/02/05/self-crossover-wyrm/

Yes, I’m writing crossover fanfic of my own universe again. (Obviously not canon.) You can blame my readers over on the Discord for this, for recommending Worm – https://parahumans.wordpress.com/ – to me, which led to the ever-expanding universe of other Worm alt-universe and crossover fics, which now I’ve got around to reading them, reminded me of the discussion on said Discord about this particular crossover, and well, here we are, with me once again writing down things to get ’em out of my head. Disclaimer: Worm belongs to John “Wildbow” McCrae, and I’m just playing in his sandbox. Further disclaimer:…

So, for the benefit of the interested, here’s some of that sketchy background:

Theme: things are definitely lighter than in canon Worm, since the nature of crossovers means infection with some 'verse thematics. Specifically relevant ones probably including “Sciencing The Shit Out Of This”, “You Can Be Awesomer Than You Think You Are”, and “Making a Better World with Space-Magic Fists of Doom”. I mean, it’s not like the world’s going to start out any less crapsack, but we’re all about the power of a small group of determined individuals to punch it until it gets better in these parts.

So, what exactly does “the blessings wrought by our children and advice on their use” mean?

In this case, it means three things (which replace the original shard entirely, in this case):

  1. “A better operating platform”. For the big T, that means an upgrade to the alpha baseline. The eldrae alpha baseline. Apart from relatively minor things like the extra height, pointy ears. and general optimization, highlights include being very hard to kill (especially since having picked up on what her world is like, it probably threw in a couple of milspec addons like bone and skin weaves), ridiculously fast reflexes, enhanced senses, immortality, and of course, the usual suite of cognitive enhancements - which in addition to their obvious uses, are plot-affecting because the brain affects the mind.

(This is going to be real interesting if/when Panacea uses her power on it.)

Specifically in things that change the path of plot, they include all those hacks cleaning up things like cognitive biases and depressive tendencies, the ability to override detrimental motivational emotions, and, of course, those in-built tendencies of the species towards dynamic optimism and hypomania. It’s not like Taylor isn’t in the same bad place, psychologically, as she was at the start of the original, but she’s running on hardware that’s much less happy to go along with that; it’s hard to stay low when your brain won’t stop insisting that you’re awesomer than sauce.

  1. That includes those handy nanosomes that provide the vector control, which includes the usual full techlekinesis with a minor in electrokinesis.

  2. “Advice” takes the form of a muse with its bytegeist (which I suspect will end up named “Skitter”, because that’s the sort of thing the Transcend would find funny), along with a copy of the Panpraxis . For those who don’t remember it, it’s the technical encyclopedia with expert systems which goes all the way from “I got a rock” to “I’ve got the technical infrastructure of an interstellar civilization” with all the steps in between. And unlike the knowledge provided by Tinker shards, it isn’t censored.

The Transcend itself won’t be a player, even to the extent of whispering in her ear. That would be energy-expensive and inelegant, compared to its preferred strategy of giving the right gift to the right person and letting the butterfly effect do the work. Just as planned.

Plot-wise, I haven’t planned terribly far ahead yet. I’m assuming that her first encounter with the Protectorate doesn’t go well, what with a “trigger event” that is all of awkwardly spectacular, unconventional (no passing-out of the parahuman on the scene, for example), and is sadly arranged perfectly for Shadow Stalker to poison the well.

Not to foreclose the possibility of good relations with individual Wards or PRT members in the mid-to-long term, though - the former, at least, aren’t going to trust SS’s reliability - but mostly because I suspect the early plot will work much better with the Undersiders, who are in any case characters too good not to use. Also, seems to me that this Taylor’s and Tattletale’s powersets synergize in a glorious positive feedback loop of self-reinforcing awesomeness.

Remainder TBD.

(Oh, and for those with the shipping bug, I am sorely tempted to same-sex-ship the straight only-example-of-her-species-on-the-planet with the self-described asexual aromantic because evidently my perverse writer-brain wants to play this game on SKULLFUCKINGLY HARD mode.)

OK, I’d read it. It looks like fun and a nice antidote to the grimdark of Wyrm. Kind of like Dire Worm in that regard.

Having read the entirety of Worm and Ward I don’t think Taylor with the given boons is enough to make a significant impact. As it stands I’m pretty sure that the Simurgh will roll up a few hours after her “trigger” and crush her flat or worse. The simulation abilities of the various shards are simple too great for anything sort of the Transcend taking an active roll to overcome. Taylor’s abilities as written, even with uncensored technology, don’t have enough impact to shift the inertia of entities life cycle.

I am curious how the entities ontotechnology interacts with the eldrae variety, and what interesting developments they’ve made in a millennium. If they have solved the problem of entropy then this will be a short fanfic.

Which, I suspect, is why the Fifth Directorate would do something like calling a specialist. Something like Void Shiki, who would continue to arrange events to keep the Simurgh away from Taylor. Or have the Simurgh’s manipulations all be quietly rearranged so that every single disaster domino placed the Simurgh right into range of her Mystic Eyes of Death Perception and her Kanesada Kuji to be slain.

As it stands I’m pretty sure that the Simurgh will roll up a few hours after her “trigger” and crush her flat or worse. The simulation abilities of the various shards are simple too great for anything sort of the Transcend taking an active roll to overcome.

I’m not sure I agree with you, there.

The majority of the Thinker shards with precog-like abilities require data to prognosticate with - which would include the Simurgh, who needs to sing/scan to read the future - and are prone to being blinded by the activities of other Thinkers, not even just other precogs. The principal exceptions to this that I can think of are Contessa’s PtV, and Dinah Alcott’s worldline-scanning, and both of those require knowing the right question to ask.

At the start, precogs in general are going to sense a “glitch in the pattern” centering around her not-trigger event, certainly, because something from outside the universe’s worldlines intervening messes up causality, but from the Simurgh-in-orbit’s PoV, pretty much all the Thinkers look like glitchy spots. She doesn’t stand out enough to be a target.

Just as planned.

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(spoilers of Ward)

We learn in the Simurgh’s interlude that her power is much less limited than normal parahumans, and in Ward she explicitly forces a stalemate with an unshackled Contessa. The shards sensory abilities are good enough to recognise the alien nature of Taylor’s abilities and would likely move to counter said development. And it is doubtful that her interrupted trigger event would go unnoticed considering that the Simurgh can line millions of people like dominos to kill a single individual. All it would take is noting that something is wrong for her to begin planning. Simurgh is also a trump and makes free use of other parahumans thinker and tinker powers. The blindness that she suffers from due to thinker powers isn’t really a handicap. Now whether or not she can draw on Eldrae thinker abilities is unclear, but at the very least I don’t see why she wouldn’t be able to see inside of her head.

Shard future sight abilities are based around simulation and to be countered they need to be up against something with more computational power than themselves. The limitations that parahumans possess are due to inbuilt limitations to keep the entities greater lifecycle safe. Below are the explicit limitations given to Contessa’s shard.

"And the forward-looking eye, so generously given to the pair, was dropped in the rush, dropped in a stumble and crashing fall. Instructions were given in the parting. “Don’t go too far, little Eye. You may see everything, but close yourself before you show them where we’re weak. Don’t show them our deepest secrets!” Infrared 18.z

All of this also doesn’t account for Scion who’s explicit role is to prevent the cycle from being interrupted, and while he might be an idiot he is also stupidly powerful and will probably notice interference with one of his shards. Either due to said shard sending an SOS or by witnessing the interference with the primary reality.

After four rounds of beer and coming sobriety, I had this thought.

Think of what’s going on in a biological countermeasure testing effort. You don’t fire one shot-or one round of countermeasures for the pathogen. You create large quantities of isolated pathogen groups, then test not only the “large” methods (different kinds of countermeasures), but the “small” methods (variations on the countermeasures).

So…while only one uplifted augmented human makes for wonderful story drama…it doesn’t make sense when the Watsonian logic is added.

Instead…what if the Transcend fires off a number of modified shards? Enough to cover, say, 0.1% of the human race. In the US alone, that’s about 370,000 human beings. There’s some connectivity between them, but it grows weaker past the point of initial contact (let’s say, for argument’s sake, eight hours driving distance in the US…call it 800 KM or so). So, you have these spheres of connectivity, with some “blobs” attached running around and through the major cities, up and down major railroad and highway trunks, etc, etc, etc. And, if you want to gain higher connectivity and hit the levels of proto-Transend trusted connectivity…you’re going to have to, ahem, really bone up on your intimacy with your fellows.

(Insert all the bad jokes here.)

The goal is to create thousands upon thousands of potential solutions to the problems on Earth-wide enough that Scion or the Endbringers would have to engage in a massive campaign of extermination to immediately stop it. Massive enough that they would be vulnerable because their opponents would do anything to win because they can’t lose. And, since all these solutions are just varied enough to not be the exact same one…you’ll get a whole lot of variations on solutions.

I can also see the act of “Transend Sharding” humans might pop the mental alterations on people that The Simurgh pulls off. It won’t prevent all the Domino Disastering, but it will pull quite a few dominoes out of the queue.

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I would presume not, on the former, since they aren’t shard-based; the shards’ own intercommunications and the convenient back-door they provide into their hosts’ brains won’t apply in her case. Their “thinker” abilities, physically speaking, are just a consequence of cramming much higher neuron density and interconnectivity into the brain, then adding a symbiotic quantum computer and artificial intelligence on top of that.

On the latter, the first problem this poses for just “seeing inside her head” is the one that’s going to be really obvious the first time someone gives her an EEG: the activity in there doesn’t resemble anything familiar from humans brains. (The second one is that, since brain-hacking exists in the 'verse, even standard brains also come equipped with firewalls and other anti-intrusion measures.)


Anyway, fundamentally, what is starting here is a race (both conventional, and Lensman Arms). On one side, the Endbringers (and in particular the Simurgh) not only picking up that this failed trigger and this thinker-anomaly are something very much not routine, but coming to useful conclusions as to what to do about it and following through on that. They certainly will conclude that They Have A Problem and move on it given time, but it won’t be instant. Outside Context Problems don’t get insta-solved.

(I am also discounting Scion until relatively late in this process, because his ongoing uberdejection handicaps his response.)

On the other side, Taylor’s ability to bootstrap a one-woman singularity. Or, rather, what starts as one, because unlike regular tinker-tech, hers is entirely reproducible (and potentially self-reproducing), usable, and even installable into non-paras.

(And that’s about all I can say about that at this time. Other than that exponential growth, including of computing power, is a bugger if given any time at all to get started.)

((ALL HAIL THE MACHINE GODDESS! COGS FOR THE COG THRONE!))


You have a good point, but…

The Transcend is all of (a) lazy (which it would call efficient), (b) smug (making a point of pride out of maximum return for minimum effort), and © interested in the promotion of awesome in others, not just itself.

So it calls upon Agathaeon, the Clionomic Mind, and has it churn through its simulations, and determines that applying this intervention - handing out its version of a box of scraps (cave not included) to the right person in the right place at the right time - will result in maximin awesomeness-effort, that’s the option it goes for.

(If further intervention is necessary, it retains that capability - but it doesn’t expect to have to use it. It is, in its empirically tested opinion, rather good at this.)

Fair enough. My “things don’t go smooth”/“there’s no such thing as overkill, just unacceptable collateral damage”/“you’re planning a Black Swan event and not preparing in case your Black Swan meets another Black Swan?” brain is of the opinion that if you’re going to take on someone like the Endbrigers, you don’t go for half measures. You kick their ass hard, knock them down hard, and stomp on their neck and head a few times with hob-nailed boots just to be certain.

Also, you get the whole “only one of her kind” issue in the characterization. This makes her way too lonely and too angst-ridden in bad ways. Having a decent sized dating pool means that we get to see Taylor discover that-

  • She now has a sexuality and a working desire/response cycle.
  • She gets to have all of those issues of dating.
  • And, of course, we get the chance to read all the potential future lemon fanfics of what’s going on. :smiley:

Once again, editorial/brainstorming comments, to be listened to or disregarded as needed.

Oh, trust me, I already have some thoughts in those directions. :grinning:

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I think it would be far more cool if the Transcend had addressed her in “Eldrae Style” name, re [ https://eldraeverse.com/2012/04/23/naming/ ]

TaylorAnn Hebert-ith-Hebert ion-Danel iel-AnnetteRose mis-Terra-en-BrocktonBay

Not sure what to use for her Erinlochos. She is not Skitter yet, and in this timeline, won’t ever be.

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I kicked this over to AO3, just in case I do find myself continuing:

https://archiveofourown.org/works/22820431/chapters/54536758

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