Spawn 1.2

"Parahuman Report!"

"Today's top story: Known vigilante, Shadow Stalker, engaged in a violent altercation with the local wards. Sources say she was spotted assaulting suspected Empire gang members, when the Wards were sent to intervene. Despite several attempts at peaceful negotiation and capture, the vigilante still remains at large. Official PRT statements say that-"

Mom sighed and flicked off the tv with the remote. "That's enough background noise." she muttered, and sipped from her mug of tea. The tv was distracting enough, but neither of us would be able to focus if it was talking about her. Mom's eyes flicked back to me and Kri'ket. I was sitting on the living room couch across from her, and he was sitting on the floor, wisely not making a sound.

"So this has been your secret project all these months, huh?" she asked, looking between the two of us.

I will say this, my mom was not an easy woman to surprise. After she got over her initial surprise, she had very quickly and calmly extracted every detail about what I had been up to in the last few months. I wasn't exactly trying to hide it, but she was really good at finding the little details I would gloss over, and shining a great big light on them. In less than an hour, she had a full picture of exactly what I had been up to and for how long I had been up to it.

Her gaze kept drifting back to Kri'ket, who had taken to playing with the tarp while we were talking. I was surprised at how dexterous he was with those claws of his; he'd already managed to cleanly pull most of the tarp apart and arranged the plastic strips into neat rows on the floor, and was now staring at them with a look I had once heard described as 'dangerously inventive'.

"Yeah, he's what I was working on. A proof of concept I guess; I hadn't expected him to be like this though." I admitted, and regretted my words.

Kri'ket's head jerked up and his big eyes got bigger, "What did I do? Did I do bad?"

"No no no!" I quickly assured him, "I wasn't expecting you to be so clever Kri'ket. You've exceeded my wildest expectations."

Cliche, but true. Whatever feelings I felt about my little lizard, shame and disappointment were at the bottom of that list.

Kri'ket opened his mouth in what I was learning was his imitation of a smile, and his crest shot straight up while his tail lightly thumped against the ground. Mom suppressed a laugh and looked back at me. The humor in her eyes faded and her face grew more serious. I had a feeling I knew what was coming next.

"Taylor, I don't appreciate being lied to like this. I understand you'll have secrets you want to keep, every teenager does. But it's one thing to keep me ignorant of what you're doing, it's another thing entirely to lie to my face. Multiple times even." she didn't sound angry, just disappointed. That was worse, that was so much worse.

"I didn't want you to worry?" I offered weakly.

"So seeing your face on the evening news, dead or worse would've been better?" she replied. Another sigh, and she pinched her nose under her glasses, her usual tick for when she was tired.

"Okay, Taylor. I'm not going to ground you for this. We all make mistakes, we all do things we think are the best ideas at the time." she started. I let out a sigh of relief, that was quickly cut-off by her raising her finger. "But, in return I want you to call the Protectorate and look into joining the Wards."

I bit my lip and ducked my head. Mom reached forward and gently lifted my face to hers. "I mean it Taylor. I've read the studies, I know the math. If you were a normal cape or even a tinker, you'd be under enough danger as it is. But, you're a biological tinker; every gang in the town is going to see you as a threat, and the PRT will absolutely lose it if we try to play hard ball with them. People don't mess around with biological tinkers."

I stubbornly folded my arms, "I'm not like Nilbog or Bonesaw. I only want to help people."

Mom's expression melted a little and her eyes flashed with pride. "I know you do, little owl. But no one else knows that. If you want them to trust you, you need to trust them. It's a two way street."

She smiled, "Besides, you love Armsmaster, remember when you used to have his-"

"Mom!" I shouted, my face flushing red. Yes, I used to be an Armsmaster fan when I was younger, and it made me cringe so hard when I thought about some of the merchandise I used to own.

Kri'ket's head popped up and he looked at me curiously. "You have skin changing color? What does red mean?"

"It means she's embarrassed!" mom sang, poking me in the stomach.

"Stop it!" I smacked her hand away and scooted across the couch.

Mom smiled, "Alright alright. Why don't you tell me why you didn't go to the Protectorate?"

That I definitely didn't want to talk about. As bad as it had been, I had kept Sophia's little campaign of terror a secret from mom for a lot of reasons. I wanted to handle it myself, to feel that I was capable on my own, it wasn't worth the effort dealing with her, or more realistically, I didn't want mom to worry after we had lost dad. She hid it well, but losing dad had taken its toll on her. Life was slower for her now, a lot of her energy had faded with him gone.

Everyone dealt with grief differently, and I didn't want to be a bother. I didn't want to get in the way…

Mom put her hands on my shoulders, "Taylor. My little owl," she pushed my glasses back into place. "I am your mother, and I love you with all my heart. Whatever is bothering you, whatever has you worried, telling me will never change that."

"Creator! Your eyes are leaking!" Kri'ket helpfully informed me.

I took my glasses off and wiped at my eyes, "I know Kri'ket, thank you. I'm okay."

After I dried my eyes, I slid my glasses back on and told mom everything. I told her how, when I first started going to Winslow, Sophia seemed to pick me out of a crowd of hundreds and made me her personal victim. It had started as jeers, insults, and the occasional shove and slowly gotten worse as the months passed. Soon she stepped it up to 'harmless' pranks that only left me humiliated, and then she went out of her way to actively sabotage my school projects, before finally actively trying to hurt me.

As I told mom more and more, I saw her calm expression twist into an expression of utter contempt, her lips drawn into a thin white line. She was patient of course, but once I mentioned the physical abuse, she stopped me.

"Sorry, Taylor. I have to make sure, but you did talk to the faculty staff about this, right?"

I nodded, "Once she started getting physical I did. But Sophia is a track star with a dozen toadies that side with her constantly, so no one believed me. And if I fought back… Well, Winslow has a Zero Tolerance policy, and I didn't want to be expelled."

Mom cursed, "Those dumb sons of bitches, of course they would use that medieval system."

"Mom, language." I whispered, glancing at Kri'ket.

The lizard boy was already testing out the new word on his lips, and seemed to like the sound of it. Great. Mom put a hand to her mouth, "Whoops, sorry Taylor." but she didn't sound very sorry.

I sighed, "Anyway, that's why I didn't fight back. I figured doing well in school was more important than dealing with one super determined bully."

Again, mom shook her head, "Oh, honey. As a college professor, I appreciate the sentiment, but let me give you some advice. If you have to go back to Winslow for whatever reason and that girl bugs you again, I want you to punch her fucking lights out!"

There aren't enough words to describe how off balance that sentiment knocked me. I physically recoiled in surprise at her statement. "Okay, um… not what I was expecting from you, going to be honest there."

She smiled and winked at me, "Taylor, if there's one thing I've learned, it's that in this town you don't let people shove you around. If you're going to get in trouble even if you do nothing, then at the very least you can make it clear to that b- to Sophia that you're not going to take this abuse lying down."

I felt my throat choking up again and nodded, ignoring painful memories that were dragged to the surface of my mind. It took an effort but I buried them and let out a deep breath.

"That though, is why I was reluctant to go to the PRT. How do I know they aren't as bad as the staff at Winslow? Or that the Wards aren't just a big pile of teenage drama and angst?"

Mom folded her arms, and wore a smug smirk on her face, "Because, daughter of mine, there's one key difference between your situation at Winslow, and you joining the Wards. We have leverage."

I cocked my head to the side and raised a brow, before I caught on to what I meant, and couldn't stop the grin from forming on my face, which mom happily returned.

"It's okay Taylor, if you want to do an evil laugh, you can." she chuckled.

I didn't do an evil laugh, but I did chuckle maliciously, "You are scary sometimes mom, have I ever told you that?"

"On occasion." she said, casually polishing her nails on her shirt. "Now, final detail for the night: What are we doing about little Kri'ket here?"

The lizard in question had been tugging at my shirt for a few minutes now while we talked and I looked down at him with a smile, "What is it, Kri'ket?"

He pointed at my shirt, "Can you take that off? I want to look at it."

"What? Why?" I said, reminding myself that he was literally a few hours old and didn't know any better. It didn't help with my blush, nor did mom's laughter. If I didn't know any better, I'd have guessed she was enjoying this.

Kri'ket held up strips of the tarp in his clawed hands, "I am trying to make something similar out of the tarp thing you gave me. You shouldn't need it right? We are not outside and you don't need to disguise yourself anymore."

Mom cackled as my blush traveled from my heads to my toes. "K-Kri'ket, that's… not how that works for people like me, for humans. We have, um… god how do I explain this. We are a lot more delicate than you, we don't have scales to protect us from the environment. I wear my shirt and pants to protect myself, and for modesty."

He cocked his head to the side and blinked his big eyes, "But you are the creator, the old one! Why would you need to be modest?"

"Humans have bits that aren't appropriate to be exposed." I grumbled, crossing my arms over my chest. "And what do you mean I'm 'the old one'?"

Kri'ket shrugged, "You have lived for far longer than I have, many many days, weeks even. You are very old to me."

Mom broke down into hysterical laughter and I clenched my eyes in frustration for a moment. "Okay, fair enough I guess. But I'm only 15 years old, Kri'ket, I'm not some ancient unknowable god."

Kri'ket's face twisted into the closest approximation of sass it could manage. "You literally created life. You are, by definition, a god to me."

"But I'm not an old one." I retorted, then grinned and jerked a thumb at mom, "If anything, she should be the old one, she made me after all."

Mom stopped laughing, "Hey!"

Kri'kets eyes went wide again as he looked at mom, "Then that would make her the oldest one."

Now it was my turn to laugh, even as mom threw a pillow at my face and Kri'ket looked confused.

I made the call to the Protectorate after mom finished interrogating me and after dinner. As I had suspected, Kri'ket was more than capable of eating any human food put in front of him, which had been an intentional part of his design. This was a relief, since after he showed so much intelligence, I was worried that my initial vision had just been a pipe dream, and that complications were bound to start arising soon.

Thankfully, that didn't seem to be the case, and I was actually able to relax in my room later that night, brushing my long hair while Kri'ket was exploring. His curiosity seemed endless, but that was to be expected given how old he was. At the moment, his tail was poking out from under my computer desk, happily wiggling in the air while he spoke to himself in chirps and muttered words.

I set my brush down and turned around on my bed to face him, arms crossed, "Kri'ket, you better not be messing with anything under there."

He jumped at my voice and knocked his head against the desk with a loud thump and a startled yelp. Then he pulled himself out from under it, rubbing a fresh little welt on his head.

"Are you okay?" I asked, and smiled when he nodded silently.

Kri'ket gestured at the computer, "The wires. What do they do? Where do they go?"

"It's electricity, and it's complicated." I explained. "Maybe tomorrow morning I'll lend you my physics book so you can read up on it. You… do know how to read, yes?"

Kri'ket blinked his big eyes, then nodded, "Yes, I can read. I read many things on the walk here."

"Oh good, that makes things even easier." I sighed with relief. I was not even remotely ready to start educating a newborn lizard. Not when there was so much else to worry about.

I bit my lip and resisted another sigh, "Kri'ket, we need to talk about tomorrow."

"Is it about the Protectorate Representative?" he asked.

It took me some effort not to stare at him; he was a surprisingly perceptive little guy, and even if his knowledge of things was inconsistent, stupid was not a word that described Kri'ket. I felt more than a little ashamed that I was still struggling to understand that.

I shook off my guilt and nodded, "Yes, it's about that. I called the Protectorate earlier tonight while you were eating. They're sending a representative in the morning tomorrow. When they do, I need you to stay up here until I call you down, okay?"

He cocked his head to the side, "But why?"

"Because you might startle them."

"But why?"

"Because no one's ever seen anything like you before."

"But why?"

I took off my glasses and pinched my nose, "Because Kri'ket, only I can make… people, like you. There are others like me that can… 'create' creatures, and most of them are bad. Very bad. If they were in Brockton Bay, I'd already be working on a plan for how to get rid of them."

He perked up, "The Great Plan?"

"Yes," I smiled, "My great plan. But that's besides the point. What I am trying to say is that there are people out there that have created an expectation for people like me. I need time to explain things to the representative so they know what to expect. If they just see you with no explanation, they could jump to conclusions."

Kri'ket's crest went flat and he frowned, "That is bad. No, wrong word. Dumb, that is dumb. You have done nothing wrong. Why would they assume you have done something bad?"

"Stereotypes are nasty things, little guy." I said. "That's why I'm being careful though. If I show them that I am a sane and rational person, they'll be more likely to see me for me and not as some… psychotic warlord with dreams of taking over the city."

Kri'ket smiled, showing off his needle-sharp teeth. "You are a very good person. I do not think they will see you as a psychotic warlord."

My chest went tight and I felt warmth spreading through it. I couldn't help but return his smile, "Thanks Kri'ket, I appreciate that."

Mom had done a good job taking care of me after dad had… passed away. But without Emma, and with Madison's laser-minded focus on tormenting me, I hadn't received much in the way of praise or a positive interaction with anyone for a long time. It felt nice.

I cleared my throat with a cough, "So, anyway. I just wanted to make sure you understood so there wasn't any confusion tomorrow. Do you think you can wait up here until I call you?"

Kri'ket stood up straight and nodded with utter seriousness, "They will not even know that I am here, old one!"

I scowled playfully, "Keep calling me that and you're sleeping outside mister."

My humor turned to regret as I saw his eyes go wide and his head sag, "Oh… I am sorry."

Be still my heart!

"Oh Kri'ket no! I was… that was a joke!" I explained hastily.

He looked up confused, "But, are not jokes supposed to be funny?"

I stared at him for a long moment, then reached forward and hugged the little guy, "I'm sorry Kri'ket. I didn't mean to worry you. You're not sleeping outside, okay?"

I made a mental note to myself to teach Kri'ket what sarcasm was at some point in the future, or else he wouldn't last a week without me around.

After a moment longer I released him from my hug and said, "Alright little guy. It's been a long day. I need my rest, you're probably exhausted, and we have an even longer day ahead of us tomorrow. Time for some shut-eye."

"Okay." he nodded without complaint.

I shut off the lights and slid under my covers. Kri'ket curled into a ball on my bed next to me on top of them, until I relented and let him under the covers too. He curled up next to and quickly fell asleep. It wasn't long before the toll of the day, and the warmth and comfort of his presence had me drifting off soon after him.

The Hebert household was an oddity in Brockton Bay. It was not well off enough to avoid the slow decay of the city, but it was neither poor enough to be directly affected by it either. It existed in that strange middle area that, only upon closer examination, would show the sad truth. There were a surprising number of such neighborhoods in the city; it was no surprise to Miss Militia that one of them would produce a new parahuman. This sort of scenario in fact was all too common in her experience.

Miss Militia stared at the Hebert Household from her car and wondered how many boxes this ticked. Had their daughter hidden their powers for weeks and months out of worry and fear of what their parents would say? Had they seemingly developed with no outside impetus, which was really just a case of the child telling their parents a bold faced lie? Or was this one of those rare cases where the parents and child were on the same page with no miscommunication and deception between them? All three options were possible, but experience suggested the first two were far more likely

There was no more point in putting this off; Miss Militia pulled up her scarf and got out of her car, firmly shutting the door behind her. Standard procedure for calls like this was to send a member of the Protectorate as a representative instead of an auxiliary agent. New parahumans were often emotionally sensitive and non-parahumans could unknowingly exacerbate a situation. That wasn't to say a normal parahuman couldn't either, anyone could make a mistake like that after all.

Through trial and error, Miss Militia had been slowly decided upon as the best candidate for talking to potential new recruits to the Protectorate. Though she herself doubted whether this was true, she was certainly willing to do her best, especially when it came to potential Wards. Developing powers was a stressful enough situation for adults, her own experience showed her just how terrible it was for minors. So here hs ewas, approaching this unassuming home with an offer of either a shoulder to cry on or an opportunity to shape their new abilities into something they could use.

Now of course, Miss Militia wasn't foolish enough to simply pull up and approach the house in full costume. If the Hebert's ultimately decided the Protectorate wasn't for them, then Miss Militia basically would have sent out a flair to every wannabe cape-killer and gangster that there was a potential parahuman nearby.

No, instead she had come dressed casually and warmly. Slacks, a neat white blouse and a nice grey coat and scarf over it. From a distance she simply looked like a friend coming to visit, while up close, her plain white scarf could still hide her face and preserve her identity should things turn out less than fruitful.

And of course, there were at least three PRT vans parked within several blocks of the house in case things took a turn for the worst. But if and only if Miss Militia gave the signal or her vitals spiked unreasonably high. She consciously rubbed the little bracelet on her wrist; a 'gift' from Armsmaster that let the waiting PRT troopers observe her vitals. If anything went wrong, they would know.

But the odds of that felt slim to her. When Miss Hebert had called asking to meet with a representative the previous night, she had been noted as being calm, clear, and concise during the entire call. To Miss Militia, this was a sign that Miss Hebert had likely lived with her powers for at least some period of time and had been practicing what she would say when she reached out to the Protectorate.

Of course it could also be an exceptionally elaborate trap, but that was again, why she had so much backup nearby.

One of the porch steps wobbled dangerously under her foot as she approached the front door. Miss Militia took a moment to steady her nerves, sucked in a breath, and knocked firmly on the door. There was the sound of voices and hushed whispers from the other side, followed by the rapid thud of footsteps rushing to the front door before it opened.

A tall slender woman in her mid thirties greeted Miss Militia at the door, adjusting her wire rim spectacles when she saw her. "Miss Militia? This is a surprise."

The cape frowned behind her scarf, "Not even a moment's hesitation, it's that obvious?"

"No offense ma'am," the woman said, "But you're a tall middle eastern woman hiding most of your face with a scarf. The connection wasn't hard to make."

She smiled and offered a hand, "Annette Hebert, it's a pleasure to meet you."

This was followed by her leaning forward slightly and whispering, "And don't worry, I won't say anything to my daughter."

With near perfect timing, Miss Militia saw the aforementioned daughter come walking down the stairs, trembling with excess energy. She was a tall and lanky teenager, the spitting image of her mother, with very large eyes behind wide spectacles. Those eyes grew worryingly large when they landed on the cape.

"Oh my god, they sent Miss Militia." the girl squeaked.

Annette snickered and grinned at her. Miss Militia rolled her eyes and focused on the girl. "Yes, they did, though I would hope that isn't going to cause any trouble. I take it you're Taylor?"

The girl nodded wordlessly, her lips slightly parted in an expression of awe; if her eyes grew any larger, they were liable to pop out of her skull. Annette gestured for Miss Militia to enter, and walked toward the kitchen, stopping only to close Taylor's open mouth.

"You'll catch flies that way, little owl." Annette smiled and looked over her shoulder, "Would you like something to drink?"

Miss Militia shook her head as she stepped inside and closed the door behind her, "Thank you but no. I don't eat when I'm on duty." she pointed at her scarf for emphasis.

Annette nodded, and gave her daughter a very gentle push forward. Taylor shook herself and seemed to regain focus, "O-oh, right, yes! Hi, hello sir, I mean ma'am! Miss? I-I…"

Taylor sputtered and covered her face in embarrassment. Miss Militia smiled behind her scarf; broken home life seemed off the table, that was good. But they weren't going to get much done if the girl spent all day sputtering starstruck nonsense.

"Taylor, may I call you Taylor?"

The girl nodded behind her hands.

"Do you mind if we take a seat before we talk, Taylor?"

"Yes, thank you, sitting is good, very good, yes." Taylor seemed thankful for the suggestion. They sat in the living room, Taylor on the couch and Miss Militia in the single armchair. Annette joined her daughter on the couch a moment later, hands laden with two cups of steaming tea. Taylor mouthed a wordless thank you to her mom and took a sip as everyone settled. While that moment passed, Miss Militia took in the home and its inhabitants.

Overall, the interior of the Hebert household was in better shape than the exterior. The two women obviously put a fair amount of work into maintaining it; the carpeted living room was neat and clean, the kitchen and dining room were spotless and the house smelled vaguely lemony.

The two women themselves seemed to have an easy going relationship that suggested that there was a legitimate familial bond, which as she noted earlier, was a good sign; a strong home life made a world of difference in a cape's day to day stability.

Taylor herself, while a little thin and lanky, seemed healthy and in good condition. Her movements were very careful and obviously calculated to Miss Militia. She made no movement that expended as little effort as possible, and seemed to retreat in on herself when given too much attention, which was at odds with her constant speaking. It could be a result of her power, or it could be the result of targeted physical abuse. More than likely, it was a result of both.

Miss Militia folded her hands in her lap and set her lips in a firm line. It was time to get to work.

"I should let you both know, before we discuss anything, that this conversation is being recorded for posterity. If there's anything you feel uncomfortable about others knowing or would like to discuss in private, we can arrange for something when I am off duty."

Taylor made no expression at that, while Annette quirked her lips, "Well, thank you for informing us, Miss Militia. Is that going to be a problem, Taylor?"

"Who is going to listen to it?"

"It's more of a black box policy," Miss Militia explained. "We've had villains in the past use these meetings as potential ambushes, and some past agents have attempted to twist a story in their favor to make themselves look better. We record these meetings so we can compare the truth of the situation with the report given."

What was left unsaid was that Miss Militia told her this as a sign of trust. When it came to the general rights of Parahumans, lawmakers were… struggling, to say the least. The mere existence of prisons like the Birdcage spoke volumes about the razor's edge that most unknowingly walked. Miss Militia didn't agree with any of that, and though her superiors disagreed with her on it, she knew it was important that she treated Taylor like any other person, with all the same rights and dignities that implied.

Taylor's face remained expressionless as she digested this, and spoke, "That makes sense. I guess that means there's no point in beating around the bush then."

"We can discuss this as quickly or as slowly as you like, Taylor," Miss Militia assured her. "It can be difficult discussing these kinds of things, even with people you trust. So if you need some time, I understand."

"I'm a tinker." Taylor said plainly.

Miss Militia raised a brow, "Or we can rip the band-aid right off, okay. What kind of tinker?"

At that, Taylor paused for a long moment, before she finally said, "I'm a… biological tinker. I can… grow, new life forms."

Outwardly, Miss Militia remained calm; inwardly she cursed. Bio-tinkers were a notorious moral clusterfuck. Were there creations just biological machines or living creatures? If they were alive, how alive were they, where they were sentient or merely following their 'programmed' instructions? That was without even getting into the monstrosities created by the likes of Bonesaw. In the span of a single sentence Taylor made what could be a simple recruitment a much more… complicated issue.

"I see," Miss Militia said, leaning forward in her seat. "What exactly can you… grow, Taylor?"

The girl bit her lower lip for a moment then looked at the stairs and yelled, "You can come down now!"

Miss Militia made an effort to appear calm and relaxed as she heard the ceiling overhead creak and footsteps echoed from the second floor. It took a lot of effort to keep herself restrained. That very thought filled her with shame; Taylor had done nothing to show she was unstable, and yet Miss Militia had already jumped straight to conclusions. She'd been spending too much time with Armsmaster.

Her tense paranoia rapidly turned into confusion as Taylor's creation came downstairs. This confusion was immediately replaced with a desire to hug and squeeze the creature standing there as hard as she could.

It was adorable!

Barely reaching five feet tall at best, it could best be described as a nervous light blue lizard boy, timidly tapping its claws together and looking at Miss Militia with big doe eyes. It even had a cute little red crest that was pressed tight against its scalp! That overwhelming cuteness immediately shutdown any concerns Miss Militia had as she watched the lizard man-boy walk up behind the couch and sink low behind it until only his eyes were showing.

And then it spoke.

"H-hello Miss Protectorate Representative. I am Kri'ket. Please do not get Taylor in trouble, she is not bad, she is very good. She even has a great plan for helping people!"

Taylor's face turned beet red as she covered her face again, "Kri'ket, please…"

Miss Militia cleared her throat, and managed not to squeal with delight as she addressed the creature, "Hello… Kri'ket. You can call me Miss Militia. And don't worry, your… friend, isn't in any trouble."

Kri'kets crest popped up and he poked his head above the couch edge, mouth parted in an obvious imitation of a human smile, "You're not!? This is very good, yes?"

"We'll see." Taylor grumbled, looking for all the world like she wanted to disappear into her couch now.

"You realize I have a few questions regarding this, yes?" Miss Militia asked, forcing herself back on track.

Taylor nodded and said, "First one is obvious. I specifically made Kri'ket unable to reproduce. The only way there could be more of him, is if I made them."

That was a relief. The last thing the world needed was to be swarmed by an army of unstoppable adorable lizard people.

"Good. Now as for the other, have you made any others like him?"

"No, not yet." Taylor said. "Kri'ket was the first I could make. I don't exactly have the resources at hand to make more; it took me a lot of experimenting to come up with him. I can't really do small creatures. Best I can tell, I think I specialize in large scale creatures."

Annette raised a finger, "Which actually brings up something that's been bothering me. I thought Capes knew what their abilities were when they got them, that it was one of those weird enigma's no one could figure out."

Miss Militia nodded, "You're not wrong, though, Tinkers and Thinkers have always been odd outliers when it came to powers. Tinkers in particular sometimes struggle finding their specialties, and ever since the Cauldron Crisis this has only gotten worse."

Taylor perked up, "I read about that actually! The big theory right now is that Scion was connected to everyone else's powers somehow, like a regulator. After Cauldron managed to defeat him though, powers have been getting a little wonkier."

Miss Militia frowned, "That is one theory right now, yes. Generally though, a tinker will always struggle at first to find their niche. Given the uniqueness of yours, this probably explains why you had to experiment so much with yours. Though I feel this needs to be asked; what exactly can Kri'ket do?"

Taylor looked at her creation and back at Miss Militia, "Well, he was kind of a proof of concept. I hadn't expected him to be, um, self aware when I first made him. But, I do know what I was going for. I made it easy for him to learn, sturdy, and strong. I was hoping that if I did join the Protectorate we might make more and they could help with damage control…"

The girl smiled helplessly. Miss Militia frowned at that and leaned back in her chair, "I see. It's an interesting proposition for sure; I can't make the final call of course, but I definitely can't see anyone in the Protectorate or PRT turning down extra help…"

"We do have one condition though," Annette spoke up. "If Taylor joins the Protectorate that is."

Miss Militia turned to the women and folded her hands together, "And that would be?"

If she didn't know any better, Miss Militia could've sworn the mother and daughter exchanged evil looks.

"If you want Taylor to join the Protectorate, she needs a transfer out of Winslow to Arcadia, no exceptions."

A/N: So believe it or not, I had like 90% of this chapter done for like three weeks. I just couldn't finish the Miss Militia section to save my life. Now it's done though and I can move on with my life! I hope you guys enjoyed the chapter for what it was, please let me know if you did or did not. Comments and constructive criticism are appreciated. An edited version will go up in a day or so depending on my editor of course.

I'm not sure when I'll be updating this story again. It could be some time till then, but if anything is going to seriously delay it, I will post and let you know. Otherwise, I'll see you all next time!