"Please, Vaudevillian is the name." Will, er, Vaudevillian said with his goofy grin. Whiplash looked between him and us for a moment and shook her head.

"You two know each other?" She asked. Before I could answer Vaudevillian spun on his heel and bowed directly to her.

"Why yes, yes we do. I'm friend number four in Nova's group of trouble making rapscallions. Now, question. Would you pick a card?" He pulled a deck of cards out of his sleeve and splayed them out to Whiplash. I saw an amused smirk tug at the edges of her lips before she reached forward and drew a card. He grinned at her before flipping the deck over the reveal them all to be the same card.

"Was this your card?" He asked.

"No," she answered, turning the card around to reveal the ace of spades. A look of confusion passed over Vaudevillain's face.

"Wait, what?" He asked, examining his deck a little close

"I always keep a few aces up my sleeve," Whiplash answered, flicking her hand upward and revealing four more cards. Three aces and the queen Vaude had given her.

He clasped a hand over his chest and threw his head back dramatically.

"Ah! Foiled again! Quick men, time for our timely escape!" He raised his hand up and I had a moment to see a little glass ball before he threw it on the ground and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. A second later all the apparent Sapient members and followed his lead, filling the building up with the smoke that made a few of us cough. I flapped my wings a little to help clear the smoke and perhaps exactly as expected, they were gone.

"Where'd they go?" Quantumlock asked.

"I always thought those trap doors the Sentient used were weird," Cheshire said loudly enough to hear.

Then, Vaudevillian's muffled voice floated up from underneath us. "I can hear spoiling my secrets up there Cheshire and it is not appreciated!"

Whiplash stifled a giggle as Vaudevillian presumably darted away using his underground tunnels.

"I like him," Whiplash said with a grin.

"He gets old fast," Cheshire said dryly, but she was smiling.

"Well, its been fun and all," Quatumlock said, stepping forward. "But we ought to go help the other half of our team. Showman's probably made the other Teeth either gay or caused them to cringe so hard they broke."

"You think you guys can handle that?" Cheshire asked, whipping out a phone and beginning to do some work on it. "We need to catch up to Vaudevillain and talk to him for a bit.

"Eh, shouldn't be a problem," Whiplash said with a shrug before cracking her knuckles with a grin.

"Good," Cheshire answered, then looked up at me. "Nova, home please."

"I'm not a taxi you know," I grumbled kneeling on the ground for her to climb on.

"Of course not," she answered and she slid onto my back and patting the side of my neck affectionately. "Taxi's can't fly."

I shot her a sour look to counter her vaguely amused look. She wasn't looking as amused when I took off the ground as fast as I possibly could, leaving an afterimage as I did.


The upper branches of the tree parted to let me land as I came in. Cheshire was moving to get off my back before I even landed.

Walking into the tree, I was able to see Will lounging on the couch down below. Mask off and television on. How he got here before we did? I didn't know. I decided not think about it or I was going to get a headache. And if that doesn't perfectly describe Will's impact on my life, I don't know what does.

Cheshire went on ahead of me as I walked down down the spiral ramp towards the lower floor. But on my way, I notice my father's door cracked open slightly. Was he back already?

Carefully, I nudged it open and peered inside. He was there alright, packing a suitcase full of his stuff.

"Dad?" I asked in alarm, stepping into the room. He whirled around to face me and his eyes widened.

"Taylor, I, er…"

"Dad, what are you doing," I asked, motioning with my head at his bags. Whatever confidence he still possessed faltered.

"I'm… I'm sorry Taylor, but I'm leaving."

"You're what?" I asked, practically rearing back in disbelief. My dad took a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh.

"Taylor, I just… I just can't stay here for much longer. I'm kind of useless you know, and don't say I'm not." He added that last bit just as I was opening my mouth to protest. He shook his head.

"Look, Taylor. You don't need me. You've got your own home, two of them actually, powerful friends, and maybe even the city if what I've heard from you and Cheshire is true. Me? I don't have a job with the Dockworkers Union anymore, if there even is much of a dock left. You don't need me to provide anything for you. So… I leaving for New York. State, that is, not the city. Maybe after this conflict between you and the Protectorate cools down I'll get a job with them or something. But you don't need me."

"You're my father," I said quietly. "Of course I need you." He gave me this sad smile and shook his head.

"No, you don't."

"But what about… Amy?" I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses here, but I was almost speechless, completely blindsided by the events.

"Amy's a nice girl, but she is having some other issues now. Issues I think it'll be best if you use that 'pony therapy' power Will likes to talk about."

"Then what about Will?" I asked, a hint of desperation creeping into my voice despite me attempting to stifle it. My dad just shook his head.

"I'm sorry Taylor, again, but this life isn't for me. I wish you the best of luck in what you're going to do, but I've made my choice. I'm going to finish packing and I'll be on my way."

He strode forward and gave me a hug while I was still paralyzed with the news. Then he turned and continued to put clothing into his suitcase. My eyes wide and uncomprehending, I stumbled out of the room with my mind racing at a thousand miles a minute.

"Nova? Nova? Taylor?" I was only shaken out of my daze when Will clapped his hands in front of me. I looked down at him with wide eyes as I continued to reel.

"You gave the PRT more than a full day to prepare their statements and create the narrative they want to? Have you learned nothing?" Will said, practically freaking out. "The first to create a narrative makes the narrative, and we are sorely behind. And this deal with the villains? Are you crazy, we need to get on top of this before we lose all credibility."

I blinked then shook my head. There were… more important things to deal with right now. More important than my father moving away and… I needed to focus. I needed to get the situation under wraps.

"What do I need to do," I asked, turning to face Will directly. He stumbled back a moment, thrown off by my sudden recovery.

"Well, first things first," he began, dusting himself off. "You need to decide what you want the new status quo to be, how we're going to enforce it and what not. Then you need to make a speech about it, maybe accept interviews and various other things. If you want the PRT to be involved in-"

"I don't," I snapped as a flare of anger rose in my chest. "Can this city survive without any PRT, period?" That took Will back a bit.

"Well, maybe? I think so, anyway. Your issue wouldn't be with the PRT but rather the rest of the American government. But these Sentient members I scavenged can be an effective police force for now, and us six can be all the cape muscle we need to put the other gangs down. If that still is what you want. If you can keep the American military at bay on the basis of this being a cape take over then… yeah, probably."

"Then that's what we'll do," I stated firmly, planting a hoof on the ground. A wave of anger washed over me and I felt my magic respond. I looked around the area. I had wandered downstairs and now everyone was looking at me. Cheshire, Shadow Stalker, Will, and Imp. I glanced up and to my shock, I saw tired and dishevelled Amy looking down from the ramp above.

These were all my friends through various mean. Will came to me loyal to the idea he could do good. Cheshire and I came together because of her ability to discern the truth of things, even if she has hidden it from me from time to time. Amy who was so dedicated to the idea of generosity she was running herself into the ground for it. Imp, not wanting to be under anyone's thumb so she could laugh and joke as she pleased, with me giving her the space she wanted. And Shadow Stalker, she was here because she likes my power and I let her stay so she can't distribute that twisted form of kindness she believes in.

What a mess. But I was glad to have them.

I start flapping my wings and flying upward.

"Wait," Will called. "Where are you going?"

"To make a speech!" I answered.

"But I already wrote some speeches! And you haven't practised!"

"I'll improvise," I growled bitterly. I glanced at Amy as I passed. She was staring at me wide-eyed with dark circles beginning to form on her face.

"Amy," I asked. "Do you think you can build a wall?"