The Crisis of Taylor Hebert:


Taylor at times wondered if she was making a foolish decision. Throwing herself into such needless danger for benefits she may never see.

At least the view was nice.

"Tighten your stance up, you're leaving your sides open."

"Oof." That was the only word of response she could muster as Brian took advantage of her wandering attention and had his shin met her side, knocking the air from her lungs and forcing her onto her bum.

Brian's biceps, and the pain, aside Taylor was learning a lot. That day was mostly how to properly defend herself in case someone got past her swarm, others were dedicated to making sure she knew how to handle her knife properly enough.

"You have to keep your feet squared Taylor, you'll fall over at the first hit every time. Pretty sure I've already told you that." He gave her one of his boyish smiles, eyes dancing playfully as he offered her his hand.

Taylor had the decency to blush as she took it. "I know," she mumbled, "I just keep forgetting." 'And getting distracted,' she would add in her thoughts.

"For only a few weeks of this you're doing pretty good," he said easily enough as he pulled her to her feet. "You're doing a lot better than Alec ever did."

"I resent that," Alec said, looking up from where he was lazing on the coach. "I could totally kick the dork's ass."

"Let's just say I have my doubts." Brian said, giving Alec a flat look. "Maybe if you practiced, or even worked out, I might believe you."

"Eh, that would take effort." Alec said, waving his hand loftily as he did so.

Brian just rolled his eyes before he turned back to Taylor, intent on teaching her how to keep a solid stance while moving around.

Unfortunately, both for his lesson and Taylor's viewing pleasure, Lisa finally came out of her room.

"Is Rachel back yet?" Lisa asked in way of greeting as she entered the main room of the Lair.

"She went out to walk her dogs a while ago, should be back in ten minutes or so."

"Shit, guess I'll have to fill her in later." she mumbled under her breath before looking straight at Brian. "Look, the boss has a job for us, and it's a bit time sensitive."

"Already?" Alec whined. "We aren't even done with that ABB thing yet."

"Can't be helped. The other gangs will just have to make do without us," she said in way of explanation with a shrug. "Something's being delivered to Armsmaster today and the boss would be very 'appreciative; if we made sure it didn't make it to him."

"Exactly what's this 'something' the boss wants?" Brian asked, already sounding wary of the job as he grabbed some towels for himself and Taylor.

"Probably Tinker tech, more than that…" She finished the sentence with a shrug, telling them she didn't know.

Brian gave her an even blank look. "He wants us to steal some unknown Tinker device from Armsmaster, the second best Tinker in the world and leader of the local Protectorate? With barely any time to plan it?"

"Yeeeah, that just sounds stupid," Alec said, summing up what they all thought. Taylor in particular, as she would really like to stay on the hero's good side. She was already at the edge of his patience as it was.

"It pays well. Really well. Sixty thousand each well." Lisa said, sounding annoyed over something. "Look, I'd try to sweet talk you into the deal, like usual, but again, time sensitive. Four hours' time sensitive in fact. Extra pay if we can manage to deliver the device to him."

'Deliver to him? As in, in-person?' Taylor wondered as Brian continued to argue with the rest of their group.

"Seriously? He wants us to pull a job off against Armsmaster," Brian put a heavy emphasis on the man's name, "with only four hours prep time, at best?"

"Then again, that money…" Regent added on, sounding very on board with the idea already.

"Shouldn't be a factor when we have almost no chance of getting away with it." Brian said, sounding as irritated as Alec was wistful, "This isn't like the casino job or the bank where we knew the heavy hitters couldn't get to us before we could get away. This is walking into a PRT squad and having the Protectorate respond as soon as we hit it. If Velocity wasn't there by the time they sent out a call was put in I'd be surprised."

"I love speedsters," Regent said with a faux excitement, "They always skip like stones when I twitch their legs."

Brian growled in frustration. "Not the point."

"Sure it is. If it's just Velocity I can take him. Then we grab the gizmo the boss wants and we bolt."

"Should I take that as a 'yes' from you Alec?" Lisa asked.

"Sure, money's good."


His jaw tensed. "We should wait for Bitch."

Lisa pushed his flimsy excuse to the side with a wave of her hand. "Wouldn't be the first time we voted without her."

"Fine then. No."

"And now, we must wait for Bitch to break the tie," Regent said slouching back into the coach and getting comfortable as if expecting a long wait.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Lisa said, throwing a pointed look at Taylor, who was chewing at her lip in thought.

That had Alec sit up from his seat and peer over at his teammate. "What? The Dork's going to vote against Grue? Seriously?" Brian himself turned to give her his attention.

Seeing all eyes on her Taylor offered a "Maybe?"

"Maybe?" Alec repeated, trying to edge her into explaining herself.

"It's just…" Pausing for a moment to find a good enough fake reason to hide her real one. "Its good money and there's a decent chance of us getting away if we hit quick…"

"While I'm glad to know my greatness has reassured you, I didn't take you for the greedy type there Dork."

"I'm not. I'm more curious about who our boss is." The rest of the room, the boys at least, just stared at her. Under the pressure of their gaze she elaborated. "Lisa said the boss wants us to deliver it to him, I figured that meant in person. And I would like to know who's backing us. It's been bugging me for a while, especially with the ugly possibilities there are for who he is."

There, truth enough that Lisa wouldn't ping her as an undercover and satisfy the others' questions.

"Pretty sure that's not what he meant but I'm sure he'd be willing if we grabbed the thing." Lisa said after some thought. "I think he was planning on showing himself to us soon anyway."

That was news, great news really. She wasn't sure how much longer she could take pretending like she has been. If she didn't turn herself, and all she knew, over to the Protectorate soon, she didn't know if she'd be able to turn back. She was starting to like the Undersiders too much, getting so used to their company that the idea of turning them in was starting to actually physically hurt.

Then there was how she was getting so used to the crimes, to being a villain. How that little nagging feeling of guilt and unease she had was starting to disappear from the back of her head. How her heart didn't do the little double skip it used to before they set out.

She really had to wonder what that meant.

"Taylor," Brian's voice said, snapping her out of her brief daze. Good thing too, who knew how much Lisa could have gotten from that brief train of thought. "Listen, it's not that I'm not curious too. It's just not enough for me to think this job is worth it."

"I thought it was already agreed upon that my awesomeness was going to save the day."

"Shut up Regent," Lisa said, turning her attention back to Taylor. "You sure about this Taylor?"

"I, yeah. Yeah, I'm sure." Shaking her head, she turned towards Lisa, "How do we do this?"