Taylor considered herself a patient person; she had, after all, spent the past few months carefully creating her computation orbs with watchmaker tools and a prehistoric CAD program on her mom's old computer. Painstakingly making sure every single tiny gear was perfectly set for hours on end, urged on by an unyielding desire to prove that she was actually worthwhile to, if no one else, herself.

She had succeeded, after a few iterations of course, in her act of creation, and boy did the Type 3 orb deliver. Problem was, up until today, it did nothing to protect her from her bullies, other than passively deflecting and mitigating Sophia's shoulder checks and Madison's random juice spills.

Then the locker happened, then she had lost her patience, and subsequently outed herself as a cape; the funny thing was, she didn't have it in herself to give a damn about that at this point. Glancing over to her new companion, or rather her newly self-proclaimed minion, Taylor let out an amused snort as the energetic girl chattered on, then decided to interrupt her verbal deluge.

"Aisha where exactly are you taking us?"

She grinned up at her in return, "To the boardwalk! I'm buying you icecream and you're going to explain your awesome as fuck magical orb thingy to me, because that is what besties do!"

Taylor felt a twinge at 'besties', twirled her finger to cast a medical scan spell on her companion, and seeing the hormone levels, heat, and brain activity overlaid in her vision, she quickly decided that there was no malicious intent to her words.

Well, in for a penny and all that.

"There is, eh, a lot to it, but less than you would think, really. Though I will never turn down free icecream, and since you are, apparently, my minion I suppose an explanation is in order."

Aisha cheerfully replied with a rather succinct, "Damn right!"

The restaurant they arrived at was one her parents took her to when she was younger, but she hadn't been to since her mom died, feeling a pang in her chest at the memories she nearly missed what her ...friend chattered about next.

"My brother, who is a complete dork but I love him anyway, takes me here whenever he has some extra pocket money. My parents kind of...well, they suck. Ugh...ok that's not fair, dad is super strict and while that worked on Brian all it does for me is make me want to act out more. Yes, I am self aware enough to admit it, thank you very much."

Huh, alright then.

"And your mom?"

Aisha went quiet as she led them to a table, they sat down and she picked up a menu feigning perusing its contents before growling out, "She's a drug addict, has a new boyfriend every week. You'd think I'd hate her, but honestly? I just pity her, and if you ever tell him I said this I will prank you into next Sunday, if it wasn't for my brother I'm not sure what I'd do…"

Well fuck, weren't they a pair, time to compare notes, fair is fair after all.

"My dad basically runs the Dock Workers Union, technically he is only in charge of hiring, but everyone knows that he's the one in charge, he just has this... presence where you know he cares and will do anything he can to make things right. When mom died he really threw himself into his job and never really resurfaced. It's been...rough, more or less raising myself."

Aisha dropped her menu down and stared at Taylor a moment before quietly saying, "Umm… I'm sorry Tay, that has to suck, having good parents and then losing them I mean. I, ugh, I'm fucking this up so hard, what was your mom like?"

Taylor laughed at that a bit, "She was a literature professor, my bedtime stories were classics and poetry, and when I was a brat she never baby talked to me, she was a stickler for proper grammar. She… Have you ever met someone who was an actual hero to you? Not those idiots running around in primary color spandex punching thugs robbing jewelry stores, but someone who actually represented everything you ever wanted to be?"

Aisha's eyes turned to the floor and she nodded while muttering, "Yeah…"

"That's what my mom was to me, then I had to call her while she was driving home, distracted her, and I heard her scream as she died when hit by a drunk driver. I killed my mom and my hero all at the same moment, just because I wanted her to pick up chinese."

Aisha blinked rapidly, shook her head, then asked, "How are you still sane?"

Taylor snorted at that while picking up her menu, "Who says I am, I did just out myself after all."

That's when the waitress showed up, they both ordered sundaes and sat in uncomfortable silence for a time before Taylor pulled Sophia's phones out of her purloined pants pockets and tossed them on the table. Aisha perked up at that desperate for a way to change the subject and she snatched up the bulkier of the pair and began fiddling with it.

"Shit this is swanky as hell, password locked, lame," she tossed it aside and picked up the cheaper of the pair, her eyebrows raising slightly, "Oh ho, what do we have here?"

Taylor glanced over to her and took the bait, after all there was no reason not to.

"What have you got there?"

"Well the swanky phone has a password lock and this one doesn't have one at all, hmm...what have you been up to little miss psycho…"

Taylor honestly didn't want to know, but morbid curiosity drove her forward, "Anything interesting?"

Tilting her head to the side Aisha's face scrunched up as she took on an incredulous look, "Holy shit this bitch is obsessed with 'putting that Hebert bitch in her place,' I mean seriously what did you do to her? Did you drown her puppy then eat it in front of her or something? These texts between her and the ginger bitch are like a serial killer's personal diary."

"I'm shocked, truly, and no, before she turned my best friend into a...traitorous thing, I had never interacted with her."

Aisha was quiet for a few moments, our sundaes then arrived, and I did my best to avoid the world by indulging in the sugary goodness. A few minutes passed, then Aisha glanced up from the phone still in her hands having ignored her icecream completely.

"You know what the ginger did when you curb stomped miss pantless psychopath Tay?"

Taylor rather liked Sophia's new title, and shook her head in the negative, "No idea Aisha."

"She was cowering in the corner muttering, 'Nonononono I'm strong, Sophia is strong, Taylor is weak, this isn't happening nonononono,' and put that on repeat. I...umm, I know I was joking about being your minion, but going by these texts I think the shadow bitch may have actually broken the ginger, and made her into an actual minion…"

Well...wasn't that a sobering thought...

"Huh...well that sucks…"

Aisha shrugged, picked up her spoon and ate with one hand while browsing the phone with the other, "Yeah, suppose so. Life sucks and then you die, boohoo welcome to Brockton Bay."

The sad part was, considering everything that wasn't even being cynical, it was just the way things were.

Eventually Aisha froze, blinked rapidly, then turned the phone to Taylor, "Uh, I know we already decided she was nuttier than squirrel shit but apparently we were really understating things."

It was a photo gallery labeled, "Trophies," and they were all pictures of bloody bodies riddled with arrow bolts.

Taylor stared at it for a few moments, then lifted her glasses as she pinched the bridge of her nose, shaking her head slowly, "I really wish I was surprised, I really, really do."

They sat in silence for a time, both ignoring the chime from the door as a new customer entered the restaurant lost in their thoughts. That was; up until Aisha glanced up and looked over Taylors shoulder muttering, "Woah."

Taylor for her own part focused on her slowly melting icecream trying her best to wrap her head around how the Protectorate and PRT could let such a blatant murderous psychopath run free like this.


Really, just, why? Her power wasn't even that useful, she was abrasive as hell, and had a violent streak a mile wide, what the hell were they thinking?

"Tay, seriously turn around."

Blinking, Taylor broke from her thoughts, turned her head, and met the stern visage of the leader of the local Protectorate, one of her own personal heroes, and had to do her best not to fangirl as she took a breath in so she could calmly address the newcomer.

"Hello Armsmaster, how can I help you?"