Chapter 4: The Alliance

(Please note, not edited/checked/PR-ed. You may run into a questionable grammar or two. If you happen to spot them, please let me know in the comments below. Thanks in advance!!)

Jack was bewildered at this approach and needed a second or two to get a grip on his confusion.

Once recovered somewhat, he realized where they were. Jack quickly motioned the girl to follow him and went behind the bleachers, away from the prying eyes and potentially disastrous spread of gossip.

The girl followed him back without saying anything else. After reaching the relative hidden depth of the bleachers, Jack turned around to study the girl for a moment or two, trying to analyze the situation. She stood there, her hands in the jean’s pockets, slightly biting her lower lip, waiting. It seemed like that she was trying to appear tough and strong. Maybe even street-smart, if such a thing was applicable in the middle of a comfy suburbia.

Well, it was not really important to Jack how she appeared on the surface. All he wanted to know was why this unknown girl saw fit to bother him in the first place.

“What do you want from me?”

Jack’s cautious voice slowly drifted towards the girl in glasses.

She frowned but didn’t fail to continue with her tough girl act. “What the…. You aren’t even going to ask me for my name first?!”

“Oh, sorry. Right, your name? I’m sure you know mine already.”

She shook her head and clicked her tongue, trying to sound a bit disappointed. “OK, whatever. Fine. I’m Taylor Finn. Same year as you, Mercer, just a different class.”

“Okay, so that’s that. What do you want, Finn?”

“Call me Taylor. The only person who gets called Finn is my old man.” Taylor quipped as she adjusted her glass.

“Yeah, alright, Taylor it is. Okay, for the third time, what is it you want from me?”

“Well, it’s simple, really – I want your cooperation. I need your help on…. something.”

Her face hardened when she said that, a dark shadow looming over her expression. Jack noticed the change and thought that Taylor must have found it difficult to openly talk about her issues. He quietly narrowed his eyes and studied the girl again, wondering what could be her troubles.

Taylor sure as hell didn’t resemble a Super, at least to his eyes. She didn’t look like one of those types that relied on the overwhelming brute strength to overcome whatever problems she faced. Maybe, she was one of those that relied on some sort of crazy, mind-bending psychic powers.

Was she one of those who chose to live quietly, not bothering with all that Superheroes and villains stuff? Jack mused inwardly. Whatever her situation was, he wasn’t going to just nod his head and say “I’m all yours.”

Nope, he had to be cautious when not knowing the real intention of the other party, never mind the fact that he didn’t even know what this girl actually wanted from him. Finding out that bit out first before deciding on what to do took precedence over all else.

“Assuming that I’m a Super like you say, why me? You don’t even know anything about me. Hell, until today, I didn’t know we went to the same school,” Jack looked straight into her eyes and declared. “Besides, why should I help you in the first place?”

Taylor grunted and shrugged her shoulders again. “True. I know nothing about you. But I heard the rumors, here and there. More importantly, though…. You have gone through some horrible sh*t. I’ve been observing you for the whole day and I saw how everyone is treating you. They obviously don’t want to…. I don’t know, hurt your feelings or something. That’s perfect for what I have in mind, you see. Well, and also…. you’re the only other Super that I know personally.”

“….You wanna use my status as a victim of a tragedy? What the hell? You serious?” Jack looked at Taylor with a pair of disbelieving eyes.

She basically wanted to exploit his pain and suffering for her own gain, something no sane or caring human being would even dare to do. A layer of anger covered Jack’s disbelief, nearly making him swear out at her.

Taylor grimaced a little before continuing on. “Yeah. Dead serious. Otherwise, why would I even tell you my secret in the first place? Look. Because of my powers, I know that you’re a Super. And that’s why you healed up really quickly. You help me, and I won’t tell anyone about you and your condition.”

The penny dropped, and Jack groaned aloud. “A blackmail?!”

He slowly kneaded his pulsing temples. Taylor was giving him a fresh set of headaches with this crap. Not to mention, it was a big one too.

“This is just great. Great!! Wow. But gotta say, you trying to blackmail me sounds pretty stupid, don’t you think? I mean, wouldn’t that mean you need to expose your secret in the process if I don’t agree to your conditions? Then what will you do? Hell, did you even think this through?”

Jack’s voice rose in anger as he reproached Taylor. A flash of anger flickered in her eyes in response. She clenched her fist inside the pockets and spoke, her voice low and guttural.

“Obviously, I have thought this through. This is the only card I have left. If you don’t help me…. I will do it, you know?”

Jack felt the intensity of his headache increasing at a rate of knots. What a completely unexpected development this was, especially for his first day back in school.

What should Jack do now? He couldn’t come up with a suitable idea on the spot. He didn’t want the world to know his real secret, not yet. Sure, it might get exposed sooner or later, but he would have preferred it be later – much, much later down the line.

Most importantly, Jack didn’t want to alert the Guild of Heroes to the fact that he was a Super – if they got the wind of it, then that would mean him landing on their attention, his profile registered, asked to work under constraints, rules and regulations and all that crap.

If Jack wanted to kill Master Evil and Falcon, to get his revenge, those things were absolutely a hindrance he didn’t need.

He wondered if he could call her bluff. Was it worth the risk? He thought that at least he should give it a shot, see how she reacted.

“You know what? This is nothing but conjecture. I’m not a Super, and you don’t have any solid proof that I am one, either. I’m leaving.”

Jack turned on his heels and began to walk away. He took only a step before Taylor interrupted his escape by quickly moving in front of him. There was no way she’d let him walk away just like that.

“Wait!! Hold on a sec. We can help each other out, you know?” She sounded flustered as she spread her arms out. “Look, my power – it allows me to tell if a person is a Super or not and when someone is nearby. It’s like a radar. And when I’m close enough, I can even roughly tell what that person can do!!”

“Good for you,” quipped Jack. He sounded not interested. Inwardly, though, he was frowning at her attempt to sway him. Not that he’d give her the time of a day, since she had the galls to blackmail a total stranger.

“I’m serious. That’s how I knew you are a Super, right away!!”

Jack waved his hand dismissively in the air and moved past her. “I don’t know what you were expecting, but this is the only possible result from trying to blackmail someone. You earn hostility, not a pledge of friendship. So, get the hell out of my way.”

Jack wanted to sound like a tough guy. He really did. A man’s pride and all that. But inwardly, he was actually bracing himself for more of her threatening words or antics. If Taylor was to put the squeeze on, then he wouldn’t be able to persist. But, to his great relief, none came his way.

Wondering what happened, he turned around to see if Taylor was still there. Well, that was a mistake. Because, he ended up seeing the face of a girl nearly in tears. She was valiantly holding back the tide as hard as she could.

Upon realizing that she was not faking it, Jack was startled and began to feel a guilty conscience creeping in. But now that he had hopped on this train, it was too late to back off. So, he steeled his heart and spoke some words he thought were necessary to end this relationship, or whatever this was, from developing any further.

“Look, this conversation never happened. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. Let’s keep it that way. Don’t talk to me about this, again.”

Jack didn’t want to sound like a jerk, but somehow, he came off as one. It left a strong sour taste in his mouth. Too late to take back what he said now, though.

He turned around again and left Taylor where she stood. He felt really bad as he did so, but found some sort of solace with knowing that he had his own deadly battle to overcome. He simply couldn’t mind someone else’s fight right now.

If she was a Super, then she’d better rely on her powers to solve her problems. After all, that was what they were for, wasn’t it? Still, the appeasement of his guilt lasted all of ten seconds. Yep, he still felt like a massive bastard in the end.


After school, Min-jung came to fetch Jack. Bob was still tied up at his work and so, it became her responsibility to provide the ride home. She didn’t really mind as her schedules were empty anyways.

As for Dana, she had gone ahead already with one of her friends. Jack thought that her actions were kind of like abandoning him behind which was really uncool. But he didn’t have the heart to blame her, as the unbearable atmosphere of the morning commute was entirely his fault. Who would want to endure another round of that torture? Dana had made the right call to hitch a ride with someone else. If the positions were reversed, he’d probably do the same. Probably.

The afternoon ride proved to be just as challenging as in the morning. Jack gripped the armrests tightly, a thin film of sweat forming on his forehead. He shook whenever the undulations on the road’s surface made Min-jung’s SUV rock a little. He gritted his teeth and endured.

To keep his mind off things, Jack recalled the encounter with Taylor Finn, and the unpleasant way it went down, leaving behind a bitter taste until now.

Did I play that wrong? Should I have said and reacted differently?

His thoughts were muddled, wavering from one side to the other. He felt a ton of regret for saying those things at Taylor. But then again, a part of him also chimed in, saying that she got what she deserved for trying to blackmail him.

Whatever, that parting face of hers really bothered Jack. He couldn’t be sure what that face meant. Why did it look like…. a face of agony? A face of someone ready to call it quits, out of sheer desperation? Like one of the faces trapped in the red soul crystals inside him? Maybe not as desperate nor as horrifying but not too far off, either.

Jack grimaced and sighed deeply at himself. The ride home was tough on him but with these thoughts tumbling around inside his head, he felt like vomiting everything in his gut. It sure was a disgusting sensation to endure. How the hell did he become like this?

He shook his head and tried to sort out his head first. That meant organizing everything Taylor told him today. Then he remembered what she said about her powers.

What was that about her powers? Something about being a radar, right?

Jack’s attempt to calm his shaking gut seemed to work, his innards tumbling around less. He felt pretty pathetic about having a phobia of riding cars and being on the road. It was a ridiculous affliction to suffer from and that if he wanted to remain sane for the rest of his life, he needed to get over this ASAP.

Frustratingly, though, Jack knew he was not capable of overcoming this fear with his own power just yet and needed a way to distract himself, even if temporarily. It’s just that, his choice of distraction this time was maybe not a best one.

Huh. If what she said was true, then…. uh, what? She can tell who’s a Super and who isn’t? That’s not that good a power to have, isn’t it?

Jack slowly wiped the sweat off his brows. Taking in another deep breath. His heart beat just a tad steadier, calmer.

Hmm. Whatever help she wanted from me, whatever she needed me for, I guess her powers aren’t really suitable for the job. I mean, a radar wouldn’t let her shoot a plasma beam from her fingers or something….

But wait a sec, how does she know what my powers are, exactly? Even I’m not 100% sure what it is.

Jack leaned back on the seat but a bump on the road surprised him too much and he nearly jumped out. He gripped the armrest so hard, it was now this close to breaking into pieces. His calming heart began to race again.

Whew. Calm down, boy. Calm the Eff down!! Mom’s not going to crash. Nothing’s going to happen. Just…. relax.

Right, Taylor’s powers. She said it’s a radar…

Wait a minute. A radar? Could she…

Can she locate someone with her powers? Like a real radar?

Can she help me find Falcon and Master Evil?!

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Jack became speechless as soon as this possibility rose up in his mind. If true, Taylor could potentially help him locate his two elusive targets, then….

His heart, which was slowly calming down, began to race again.

As it was now, the whereabouts of Falcon and Master Evil were unknown. Additionally, no one had a clue whatsoever to work with. That was one of the reasons why the carrying out of the justice was literally taking forever.

But he’d be able to find them and…. kill them if Taylor’s powers were legit. He’d be able to avenge the deaths of his classmates. Of Emily. And Nick. And himself.

No, no wait. I don’t know if that’s her powers. Maybe it’s nothing as fancy as that. I mean, I’ve never heard of a Superpower that can locate someone anywhere in the world.

No, I must ask Taylor first. Find out the truth, get the clarification, whatever.

Jack nodded slowly. Suddenly, like a bright ray of sun piercing through the gloomy clouds, he saw the path open up. He knew exactly what to do.

Jack would go back to school tomorrow and confront Taylor, make her explain more about her powers. Depending on what Taylor might say, he would then modify his plans accordingly.

Regarding what Taylor wanted from Jack, he figured it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. No, it was like him feeling confident of carrying it out no matter what it was. Whether it was some sort of an illegal activity or something just as shady, he didn’t care. As long as her powers were useful….

Jack was prepared to jump through multiple hoops just for a chance to find the two murdering bastards.

Jack made his mind up. This was the path he chose to tread, so he was going to step on it regardless of the cost. He was too determined to give up here.

A deep, hardened grimace formed on Jack’s face without him noticing. It was a different kind of grimace from the one before, the one formed from the fear. This new expression originated from his determination. Thus, its intense atmosphere was on a whole new level.

So much so, even Min-jung couldn’t help but notice it.

She saw that her son’s expression was different from the one he had in the morning. Incorrectly, she figured this was because something not so good had happened in school. There was this uncomfortable silence in the car that some random music on the stereo couldn’t fix, and she wasn’t too keen on staying quiet all the way home so it seemed like a good time to break the invisible wall.

“So, Jack. How was your first day back? Anything interesting happened?”

Min-jung glanced at her son and asked.

“No, nothing much,” Jack replied mirthlessly.

“Did the paparazzi bother you at school? I thought that the security the school board hired were doing its job.”

“No, that’s not it,” Jack shook his head. “Don’t worry, mom. I can handle it.”

His voice was inadvertently raised at the end of his sentence, which surprised Min-jung just a little. To her eyes, Jack was clearly struggling to cope. Even though she was not a regular surgeon or a qualified psychiatrist, she could still tell all the signs of stress her son exhibited.

She sighed deeply. The simple, short ride to and fro between home and the school was stressing him out this much. And lest she forgets, there was the matter of insomnia too. On top of that, Jack’s level of physical fitness was abnormal as well. Min-jung could not help but worry, whether he was finally showing the signs or not.

She also felt helpless that unless Jack opened up by himself, no matter what, it’d be very difficult for Min-jung to help her son with his problems.

A month passed by since that terrible incident. She’d hoped that her son might get better as the time moved on but maybe, she miscalculated here.

“Jack, listen. You know that I’m here for you, right? I wish you could trust me a little more. Whatever you are going through, we can handle it together. You and me, your dad, Dana – we are a family. We can help each other, if you just talk to us.”

Jack gritted his teeth and nodded. He chose not to speak for fear of inadvertently shouting at his mom just like now. This damnable phobia was making him do things he’d never do normally. How he hated himself for being scared. He needed to get a grip.

Jack knew that once he got his revenge, then everything will be alright. That, everything will go back to where it was.


Next morning’s school run was just as tough. It was Bob’s turn to give his kids the ride and his four-door sedan, although possessing an altogether far smoother ride quality compared to Min-jung’s over-sized SUV, still had one or two instances of going over potholes, which caused a loud thunk to transmit into the cabin and upset Jack’s already weakened mind.

He nearly chose to stay at home and forget about this whole “going to school” business completely. He really did. But in the end, finding out the truths of Taylor’s powers proved to be too tempting. He couldn’t wait another minute to get closer to his end goal.

After a sweaty and nerve-jarring ride, Jack could finally breathe easy as soon as he left the car and set foot on the school ground. Immediately, he focused his mind and began searching for Taylor’s shadow among the crowd of students hurrying to enter the school. Disappointingly, his first search was fruitless; he didn’t see her.

Jack figured that, since she did say something about them being in the same year, his scope of search should be confined to the specific section of the school building where his own class was located in. That sounded simpler to look into.

In order to maintain the veil of normalcy, he decided not to ask others for more information or wander around during class hours, lest he roused suspicions from the overactive imaginations of the hormonal teenagers.

Jack paid a lot of extra attention during the breaks between the periods. Kids swarmed the corridors like an ocean of bodies and it was harder than expected to find Taylor, even if he was pretty sure she was among the crowd.

In the end, though, he failed to find her this way as well. His search left him empty-handed. She was just nowhere to be found. It was an odd thing, as if Taylor was actively in hiding.

As if she didn’t want to be found in the first place by anyone, including Jack.

Well, if her abilities are exactly like a radar, then I guess she can hide from people trying to locate her, right?

When Jack thought like this, his desire to find Taylor and get the truth out of her took on an urgent note, to a point where it might explode out into the open like a bomb. He felt impatient, wanting to scour the entire premise of the school just to find the glasses-wearing girl. He was pretty damn sure she was somewhere nearby.

Somehow, he managed to calm down enough to wait until the lunch break. He figured that everyone had to eat lunch, including Taylor. Well, unless she was eating alone somewhere….

Jack rushed to the cafeteria the moment the bells rang. He was almost the first to arrive, and also the first to earn the ire of the lunch ladies as he didn’t immediately stand in the line and obediently go for his meal like other students but rather, stood around in the doorway, searching. He even thought about climbing on top of a table to get a better look, but refrained after seeing the annoyed gazes of the lunch ladies.

As the starved kids streamed in and started to fill up the cafeteria, it got a bit harder to find someone of Taylor’s height. But he kept at it.

Finally, his diligence paid off.

He saw Taylor in the distance, walking alone towards the cafeteria. She had her head down, avoiding running into anyone and carefully weaving her way between the throngs of other students. If it won’t for Jack specifically searching for her, he would have missed her completely by the way she was hiding her presence.

Since there was some distance before she could actually enter the cafeteria, Jack chose to go out and intercept her halfway. The sooner the better it was for him, after all.

As he began to row past the moving bodies, an unexpected interruption to his plans appeared in the form of his younger sister, Dana. She was with a couple of her friends as she entered the cafeteria when she spotted her brother hastily leaving.

She quickly moved to his side and stopped him, calling for her friends to create an obstacle at this crucial juncture in his quest for vengeance.

“Hey, Jack. Finished already?! Where are you going?” Dana grabbed onto his arm playfully and tugged at him. “Mind accompanying us for a while?”

“No can do. There’s something I gotta do first.”

“Oww, don’t be like that. Join us,” Dana pouted like a spoiled child and kept on tugging at his arm.

Jack smiled awkwardly at her. He wanted to brush her off nice and easy but he could see that Dana was being quite insistent. However, his “quest” had to take the precedence over her feelings, at least for now.

“Hey, Dana. Can I take a rain check? I’ll make it up to you later. I promise.”

Dana shook her head. “Nope. I got you now, so you’re coming with me. No buts or ifs, okay? It’s fine, right, guys?” She turned to ask her friends, whom all nodded their consents.

Jack felt helpless. He was going to firmly say no, but then, Taylor brushed past him, casting a short, sideways glance at his way. Jack couldn’t see her face well so it was difficult to tell what her full expression was like, but for some reason, he thought it was not particularly a good one.

That slight feeling of guilt from the day before reared its ugly head and Jack felt like crap, watching the back of Taylor walking further away. Oblivious to all this, Dana successfully managed to drag her brother back in the cafeteria.

The rest of the lunch went okay, considering. Jack was surrounded by Dana and her friends, and they talked about girl stuff which he found almost completely indecipherable. He mused to himself that it was also like this back when he was still going out with Emily, where he earned a plenty of her ire due to his ignorance as well. He was glad to find that at least in this regard, he hadn’t changed that much after all.

Thinking about his past with Emily made his resolution to satisfy the thirst for vengeance that only firmer. While only half listening to his sister, Jack paid as much attention as possible to where Taylor was. She sat by herself in the corner and ate her meal silently, making him wonder whether this girl had any friends in the school at all. Not a single person came up to her and engaged in conversation with the girl.

Eventually, Taylor seemed to finish with her meal and was about to leave. Jack thought that she looked like in a hurry to get going.

The reason for her sudden desire to leave became apparent when a group of girls began surrounding her. Jack instantly recognized them and the person leading it, which caused him to break out in an unhappy frown.

“Oh, that can’t be good,” Jack groaned softly.

The leader of the group was Cindy McAlister, one of those bitchy high school queen bee archetype that liked to bully nerds and the like. She was infamous for laying down the law, her law, on several cliche-ridden things, like who could talk to her or even breathe the same air as her. Since she was also quite popular with the members of the opposite sex, she got away with a fair amount of nasty behavior. A flick of her abundant golden locks and a flirtatious wink of her lashes were enough to absolve most of her crimes and that emboldened her remarkably in the past year or two.

Her posse – or menagerie, depending on who you asked – consisted of ass-kissers and her BFFs, but in truth, they were all her soldiers, for a lack of better description. This time, Cindy had three of her “friends” to aid her.

Even Jack could see the direction this was going in. He quickly got up from the seat, drawing the focus of his tablemates.

“What’s wrong?” asked Dana, puzzled.

“I’ll be right back.”

By the time he crossed half way through the busy cafeteria, the trouble had already started. Cindy’s group had cornered Taylor and isolated her, and one of the girls – Jack couldn’t remember her name – was doing an impression of a disdainful ghetto babe mouthing off her rival in love. Or something like that. The other members of Cindy’s clique were simply looking on with the expressions of a cold sneer.

Unfortunately, Jack could hear the contents of that seemingly unnecessary beratement thanks to his slightly improved hearing. What he heard ticked him off.

Taylor’s get up was the first to be criticized. The implications of the remarks were that the bespectacled girl was a d*** and all that. Jack wanted to retort that, in this day and age, who cared which way you leaned? Next to come under the verbal assault was her father. Apparently, he wasn’t good enough for this school, calling him a slave at one point, even.

Taylor’s expression was understandably dark. She wordlessly tried to avoid confronting the group and wisely she moved past the cordon to leave. But then, another one of Cindy’s goons shoved her from behind and as a result, Taylor took a nasty tumble forward. The half-eaten contents of her food tray spilled noisily on the floor.

The whole thing had drawn enough attention of the other kids by then. To Jack’s dismay, he found some of the other kids were chuckling at the misfortune of Taylor, while some were eyeing the whole situation with irritation.

There were those with eyes of pity too, but no one tried to help Taylor. The reputation of Cindy was too well known and it seemed like no one wanted to interfere.

Jack increased his pace and came closer. And as he got near, he suddenly realized that this scene playing out in the cafeteria was rather a familiar one.

Holy crap. Now I remember. There was this one girl who kept on getting pushed around by Cindy and her gang. It was Taylor all this time.

Crap, I haven’t even noticed it until now….

Jack felt his face getting hot from the shame.

He felt shameful for not trying to break up this…. crap before. He could have tried to save her, at least once, but was afraid of earning the anger of the queen bee, just like other kids here.

Only allowed on

His previous cowardice was like an ice-cold knife slowly gouging at his sides. Well, things were different now. He had the strengths to back himself up, even if he couldn’t readily expose it yet.

By the time he got close enough, he could hear the scornful laughter of the posse of bitchy and somewhat vindictive girls. With Cindy as the lynchpin, they were jeering Taylor as if she was a lowly creature born solely for ridicule.

Jack saw that the glasses girl was fighting back tears as she tried to get up but she got pushed back down again. She let out a whimper as she fell down on the spilled foodstuffs. That drew in more of that grating, derisive laughter.

It was getting on Jack’s nerves quite a bit.

“That’s enough.”

He spoke in a firm voice, drawing the attention of the group away. They seemed taken back at his intervention and eyed him suspiciously. As their leader, Cindy had to say something, so she did.

“This doesn’t concern you, Mercer. Walk away.”

Jack ignored her and bent down to offer his hand. “Hey, you okay? Can you stand?”

Taylor nodded silently but she pushed his offered hand away and glared at him for a second, before trying to leave once more. Of course, Cindy and her goons wouldn’t allow that to happen.

When they tried to block Taylor again, Jack raised his voice again.

“I said, that’s enough!! What’s wrong with you people?!”

Cindy cocked an eyebrow at him and raised her clearly irritated voice.

“Mercer, stay out of this, if you know what’s good for you. We don’t need a wannabe hero here.”

“No, you back the hell off, if you got a functioning brain in that head of yours.”

Jack spat out aggressively before walking away himself. He ignored the indignant cursings coming from the girls behind him and followed Taylor out of the cafeteria.

Somehow, their footsteps led them to the back of the bleachers. Taylor was waiting for him there, leaning against the structure and trying her best to look nonchalant and tough. It failed to convince him, though.

“That – that happen a lot?” Jack asked her, pointing behind him, towards the cafeteria building.

“I thought we don’t know each other? What’s changed?”

Taylor’s wet eyes were sharp, like daggers boring into his skin. Jack felt that pang of guilt, the shame, rise back up again. He forcibly repressed it and shook his head.

“Look, I’m sorry about what I said yesterday. I came off sounding like an asshole.”

“Oh, so you know. That’s just great,” said Taylor sarcastically.

Her reaction this time ticked off Jack slightly, so he also spoke in kind. “Well, what did you expect after trying to blackmail me? Of course I was going to get angry.” Sighing, Jack then leaned on the bleachers next to her. Scratching the back of his head, Jack wondered how he should broach the subject of her powers.

After a moment or two of deliberation, he decided to use Cindy and her gang. At least they would be useful for something this way.

“Okay, I’m taking a wild guess here, but…. That help you mentioned – is it against Cindy and her cronies?”

“You are sharper than you look,” quipped Taylor.

Jack groaned and shook his head. “That girl…. she’s trouble. Not sure how you landed on her crosshairs, but – fine. I’ll cooperate. I’ll help you, but you help me out too.”

“With what, exactly? Aren’t you afraid of associating with a dork like me? Becoming a target of the queen bee and her pack of mad, rabid dogs?”

Jack shook his head. “Well, don’t worry about that. If she’s got a brain then she won’t do anything, at least not for a while. As for what you can help me with…. well, first, I want to know more about your powers.”

Jack said it up front, in order to ensure there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings later.

Taylor narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “My powers? Why? Haven’t I told you enough about them already?”

“No, what I have in mind…. is this. Can you help me locate someone specific? Like, a Super?”

Jack asked cautiously, feeling that how he broached the topic here would make the world of difference. He sure as hell didn’t want Taylor to break off their tacit agreement. That would be a disastrous result for him.

Taylor’s eyes narrowed. She slowly adjusted the glasses on her nose and went silent for a long while.

Finally, she asked. “Why?”

Jack took a deep breath and he told her the reason.

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