The Sidekick

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Chapter 2 – My life as a teenage bunker dweller

Jet returned to his room after having a shower in the washrooms. He had always felt uneasy showering in there, the large washroom with multiple showers meant for multiple people that were always empty except for him. It was much like the rest of the bunker, large and hollow with no life spiriting it.

With a sigh, Jet looked at his wall plastered with newspaper clippings of famous superhero battles and adventures, and as always his eyes found the framed clipping of The First Super Hero, Alpha. The way Jet saw it, Alpha was the real reason he was in the bunker so he could be a superhero like him. It brought Jet a moment of peace before the anger came back.

How long would he have to wait before he could go back to the surface? Why couldn’t he be doing his training up there? Paladin had told him it was because to train Jet, Paladin needed his attention one hundred percent of the time. But then there nights like tonight when Paladin would abandon Jet in the bunker alone, and Jet wondered what in the world was keeping him in the bunker.

Jet shook off the thought, while he was moody as a teenager could be, he didn’t like dwelling on it. For a moment he considered reading over some of the textbooks to be ahead of Paladin’s tutoring, allowing more time for combat training, Jet decided to lift his spirits with a movie.

Movies were one of the only luxuries Jet was allowed in the bunker, and he had a vast collection. Every Christmas and birthday he would get five to ten more, and while that wasn’t enough to last a year Jet liked to re-watch movies all the time.

Digging into his assorted collection, Jet looked for one he hadn’t watched yet. He had seen most of the action and adventure ones enough time to quote them by memory, and he had watched the comedies enough times to ruin some of the movies, but the romance and drama section went widely ignored.

Sitting in the back corner of his collection, Jet noted one, in particular, that was covered in dust. Reaching in and blowing the dust off, Jet immediately recoiled upon seeing it was a romantic comedy.

“Ugh,” Jet sighed.

By the looks of it, this movie had been in his collection since the beginning and had yet to be watched. With a sigh, Jet stood back up and turned on his television to watch what would no doubt be a snore-fest.

“Maybe I can still study some algebra, it’ll probably be better than this,” Jet joked to himself, making him laugh.

As Jet opened the case, a small photo fell out unexpectedly, landing by Jet’s feet. Jet stared down at it in surprise, and after putting the disc in he reached down and picked up the photo. Walking over to his bed with it, he looked at it more closely. It was a little faded, having not been kept in proper conditions, but Jet could still make out the details.

In the photo was a picture of Jet when he was a kid. Jet looked at it for a long time, trying to recall the memory. It was his fifth birthday, he realized, looking at the large chocolate frosted cake and counting the candles. He had a big goofy grin on his face and his eyes gleamed with anticipation at the cake.

Jet chuckled, and then looked to the man next to him in the picture. Dominating most of the frame was a large man, with silver curly hair and a big belly. He liked to wear tacky Hawaiian shirts and didn’t shave particularly well, but his smile was as big as Jets. It was a man Jet had barely seen these past five years.

“Wow, Uncle Quinn,” Jet commented.

He looked at the picture fondly for several minutes as his mind drifted back to before his time in the bunker.

**************************************************************

A young preteen Jet awakened as the van braked to a halt, making Jet stir to life with a jolt. He rubbed his eyes and looked at his uncle as Quinn placed the van in park. Looking outside the window, Jet saw an old decrepit building dimly lit by the glow of a street light.

It was around four o’clock in the morning, and Jet hadn’t slept well after the rush of packing all his possessions the night before. He knew why he was leaving, but something seemed off about where he was.

“Where are we?” Jet asked as he looked back at his uncle.

Quinn didn’t answer right away, instead, he reached into the glove department and pulled out a slip of paper. Jet watched with confusion as Quinn read notes scribbled on the paper and then checked outside the window of the van. He took a long deep breath of air and then turned to his nephew.

“Alright. We’re in the Rat’s Nest now, so-“ Quinn began to say, but sirens went off in Jet’s brain as those words were said.

“The Rat’s Nest?!” Jet whispered, almost afraid to say the words. “Where that big massacre was-“

“Jet,” Quinn said firmly, making Jet’s sentence stop. “I need you to focus. Can you do that?” Jet turned to look back out the window, and though panic set in at the prospect of being in the Rat’s Nest, he did his best to gather himself. He nodded slowly, and Quinn took another breath before continuing.

“Now we’re going to have to move quickly. We’re going to get the bags from the trunk, and I need you to stay close behind me. I want you to grab on to my shirt and not let go,” Quinn explained. “We’re not far from where we need to go, but we still need to be safe.”

While Quinn had been such a happy go lucky guy, the past few weeks he had seemed on edge. This night had been the worst yet. Jet looked at his uncle with apprehension, the knowledge of the awful things that happen in the Rat’s Nest at the forefront of his mind. However, Jet thought back to the framed article of The First Super Hero his uncle had gotten him as a Christmas present earlier that year. Alpha wouldn’t have been scared, he thought to himself. Keeping in mind what his idol would do, Jet steeled himself and nodded again.

“Alright, let’s do this,” Jet said. Quinn gave his nephew one last concerned look, but then the two both left the van and hurried to the trunk. As Quinn pulled large suitcases out of the trunk, Jet noticed a long, slender black plastic case sitting in the trunk. It was hard plastic with clips that kept it shut, and for some reason Jet couldn’t explain he couldn’t tear his eyes off it.

There was a mysterious longing Jet had never experienced before in the few moments he stared at the case. Like some part of himself he never knew was inside it, something he needed to feel complete.

Quinn quickly grabbed one of Jet’s bags, and upon seeing the mysterious package was now free to grab Jet instinctively reached for it. It was in Jet’s hands before he could realize it, and Jet took a moment to hold it.

For such a big case, it felt incredibly light in his hands. There was still a clawing sensation in Jet’s stomach to open the case and look inside, to get whatever mysterious treasure he knew awaited him. He knew deep down he needed whatever was inside it.

The moment quickly passed as Quinn slammed the trunk unexpectedly, snapping Jet out of his trance. Jet shook his head and cleared his head. He looked up at his uncle who was holding Jet’s other bags and gave Jet an even more puzzled look than before. Quinn’s eyes went from Jet to the case back to Jet, trying to solve some mystery Jet didn’t know about.

Quinn then shrugged his shoulders, muttering to himself there wasn’t time. Closing the trunk, Quinn took off into an alleyway beside the decrepit building with Jet holding onto his uncle’s shirt. They moved quickly, and Jet found his little legs struggling to keep up with his uncle at a walking pace, occasionally having to take a couple of running steps. Jet didn’t peel his eyes off the back of Quinn’s shirt, but he could tell how poorly lit the streets were. He could smell the garbage that roamed the streets like an infestation. And Jet couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being constantly watched from every dark corner.

Jet didn’t have any other time to look at the alleyways as Quinn quickly maneuvered them. He had to trust his uncle was leading him in the right direction as they dipped in behind the buildings and Quinn led them down a back alley.

A light caught Jet’s attention, and he looked from his uncle’s shirt up to the right to see a dangling light from outside a back entrance to a building. It was swinging back and forth with the small breeze in the air. Jet was still more tired than he cared to admit and the swaying light caught his attention.

Then suddenly Jet crashed right into his uncle’s back, bumping his nose into Quinn’s spine. Quinn had stopped abruptly and the impact snapped Jet back into what was happening around him. Figuring they must have reached their destination, Jet poked his head from behind Quinn’s back to see they hadn’t.

Standing in front of Quinn were two men with long shaggy hair and beards in old torn up clothing. A look to their hands saw they each had a switchblade. Jet more nervously tugged on Quinn’s shirt, wanting to back away from the situation. However, he heard a chuckling noise behind him and standing there was another man with unkempt hair and tattered attire.

Jet’s head swung around to see they were trapped between two buildings, with no exit from whatever was coming their way. He looked up at his uncle, the big man who had always taken care of him and been his foundation, and saw fear clearly plastered on his face.

“Well, what have we here?” one of the men asked, his voice hoarse.

“Lotta bags for two guys,” the other said.

“Anything valuable you wouldn’t mind parting with to help the homeless?”

Quinn continued to not say anything, only staring in terror at the two men in front of him.

“It’s not like he has a choice,” the first man said. “Drop the bags or we’ll cut you and the boy.”

“Nobody’s going to hear you here,” the third man behind Jet and Quinn said.

Then suddenly the man behind Jet screamed in pain, and Jet’s head whirled around. When once he was imposing, the man now cowered on one knee, as a mysterious figure behind him holding one of the man’s arms up in the air at an awkward angle while the figure’s foot rested on the man’s opposite shoulder.

“Walk away now,” the figure commanded, his voice deep and imposing. “Walk away and no harm shall befall you.”

Jet looked past Quinn at the other two men who were suddenly much more apprehensive. Quinn blew a long sigh of relief, and Jet stared curiously at his uncle, not sure what was happening.

“Last chance,” the figure said, pulling a little on the man’s arm making him groan. “Do it now or you will suffer the consequences.”

His eyes fully adjusted, Jet could finally see their hero. Clad in white and silver armor with gold trim, the man seemed to be wearing a form-fitting iron battle suit from the dark ages. It glistened even in the darkness, and its edges were smooth. He wore a glistening white helmet that completely covered his head, obscuring his face and making his voice sound metallic. For a brief moment, Jet let himself think Alpha had come to save him. Barring the fact that Alpha had passed away years ago and his costume looked nothing like what this man was wearing, he inspired similar feelings of heroics in Jet.

“Aw, screw this,” one of the men said in front of Quinn. The two men both yelled and ran past Quinn and Jet. Quinn grabbed Jet and instinctively tucked him in close, and Jet felt the rush of air as the two muggers dashed at their target.

The man in armor tilted his head to the side for a moment to relieve pressure in his neck. Then in a blur of movement, he kicked forward into his hostage’s back and pulled on the arm. He let go and the man with the now dislocated shoulder crashed face-first on the ground.

One of the muggers reached the man and tried to stab him in the stomach, somehow oblivious to the armor the hero was wearing. His blade bounced harmlessly off the armor, and the man grabbed the mugger by the arm. Placing his other hand on the mugger’s stomach he easily heaved the mugger off his feet and threw the man like he weighed nothing over his shoulder.

The man went soaring and hit a garbage can with a loud crash. Jet didn’t realize how wide his eyes were as he watched this hero easily dispatch the grown men. Somehow the last mugger didn’t get the message and swung down with his knife at the hero.

There was a sharp ting sound and flash of steel as the man’s knife went flying out of his hand. Jet blinked and had missed it, but the now unarmed man shakily took a step back away from the hero. In the hero’s hand was a long slender broadsword.

It gleamed with a gold trim that ran down the sharp edges, and in the middle was an intricate gold and blue pattern. The hero stared coldly at the last mugger for several moments, and then with a flourish, he sheathed his sword onto his back. The mugger stared at the hero in confusion as the hero continued to glare at him.

“I will show you mercy. But you have to walk away now,” the hero said, giving the mugger one final chance.

The mugger breathed rapidly through his nose in indignation, his fists trembling. Then in a fit of rage and cowardice, the mugger turned and ran away.

There was a tense moment where Jet thought he and his uncle were next. Then the hero let out a breath and removed his helmet as he looked at Quinn and Jet, and for the first time Jet could see his gentle features. He had light blond hair that he seemed to comb over to an extent, letting a few strands rest across his forehead. The hero had bright blue eyes and a small but square chin that jutted out just ever so slightly.

“Quinn. I was worried you weren’t going to make it,” the man said. Quinn grumbled in response and let go of his nephew, letting Jet take a few steps forward.

“We almost didn’t. It’s a miracle you showed up,” Quinn responded.

“Well, I had a funny feeling that trouble would find you somehow. I hate to say I was right,” the man remarked. He then took a quick glance over his shoulder, and looking back forward he began to stride past the two.

“Let’s speak inside. We don’t want prying ears,” the hero said. Quinn nodded, but Jet still just stared shell-shocked at their savior.

He had never seen a real-life superhero before. At the very least, that’s what Jet thought was happening. It took him another moment to realize said superhero had saved him personally. Not just some person he would read about in the paper. A superhero had saved him.

“Hey,” Quinn said with a pat on Jet’s back. “Let’s go.” Jet started walking forward awkwardly, having a difficult time maintaining his excitement. He knew it wasn’t the place, but it was shaking its way out of him. Like a boy having to hold it before going to the bathroom, Jet’s knees buckled together and he nervously took his steps.

The three traveled a short distance until finally, the armor-clad man opened a door into the back of a building. A single light shone overhead, and the man gestured for Quinn and Jet to enter first. Jet continued to move like a puppy on anesthetics, but he eventually made his way in. The man took two glances in either direction and then he quickly shut the door.

Jet took a look around the room there were in and saw it was dimly lit with faded green walls. A torn up couch sat across from an old TV, a dark hallway led presumably to a bedroom and washroom, a small kitchen unit occupied a corner, and the wall across from the television was decorated with pictures, newspapers, and strings.

“Well, I guess it’s time for a formal introduction,” the man said, making Jet turn around to face him. Jet noticed by the door they just walked through there was a set of luggage, similar to his own.

The man took a knee and outstretched a hand to Jet saying, “I am Paladin. I have been a superhero for several years now. I will be the one taking care of you.”

Jet anxiously shook Paladin’s hand, feeling the strong grip of Paladin’s grasp.

“Oh, you’re Paladin?” Jet asked, finally having a mental image in his brain of who Quinn had been talking about. “You’re…cooler than I expected.”

Paladin released Jet’s hand and chuckled while looking up at Quinn.

“Cool, eh?” Paladin reiterated as he stood up.

“I mean it’s not that I never thought you weren’t cool I just didn’t know if you would be because I’ve never seen you in the paper before or anything so I didn’t know if you were cool enough to be in it or-I’m going to stop talking now,” Jet rambled. Paladin raised an eyebrow in curiosity, and Quinn chuckled.

“I told you. He likes superheroes,” Quinn said. Paladin crossed his arms and smiled at Jet, and Jet looked to the floor as his face flushed red, thoroughly embarrassed with himself.

“Well Jet, it’s a good thing you do. Because I’m going to train you to be one,” Paladin stated.

There was a moment where Jet couldn’t process what had just been told to him. His head slowly tilted upwards to look at Paladin. Then he slowly looked over his shoulder at Quinn, who seemed unfazed by this news.

“I…what?” Jet asked.

“You have an incredible power Jet, even if you do not yet realize it,” Paladin continued. “That is why you are coming with me, so I can teach you to harness that power and use it for good.”

Jet’s world began to spin slightly, excitement and blood rushing to his head. He knew he was stronger than most kids, faster, generally more athletic without any practice. But he had powers? Since when?

The bewilderment was clear on his face, and Paladin couldn’t help but have a laugh. He nodded to Quinn and pointed at the large case in Jet’s hands.

“Can we show him? Or are you worried his head will pop off?” Paladin asked.

There was a long, hesitant sigh from Quinn. He stared down at Jet and then finally agreed.

“Yes. It’s time,” Quinn answered. Paladin then knelt down again and grabbed the large case from Jet. Jet was in such a state of euphoria he couldn’t even be bothered to try and stop him despite the case calling out to him.

Paladin seemed to struggle with the weight of the case, a stark contrast to how easily Jet had lifted it. Turning the case towards Jet, Paladin unlocked the clips and opened the case, and Jet’s state of mind came down from the moon.

Resting on foam in the large case, was a large wide great sword. It was like Jet was having an out of body experience while looking at the sword. The longing he had felt before zeroing in on the sword. Without even thinking he grabbed it from the case, and to him, it was still light. More so, it felt like an extension of his body. Something that truly belonged in his grip.

“You have had that sword since you were a baby,” Quinn said. “It just... showed up one day, just outside your crib. Your parents had tried to get rid of it, but you wouldn’t stop balling so we’ve always had it in the house.”

“I’ve had this for that long?” Jet asked in disbelief, unable to fathom that this work of art was tied to him.

“We figure it’s linked to wherever your powers come from,” Paladin explained as he discarded the black case. “And since I’m a swordfighter already, we decided it would make the most sense to train you to be as well.”

Jet stared back at the sword in disbelief. His uncle had told him he had superpowers, it explained why he was so much more athletic than all the other kids while still being a string bean, why he needed less sleep than them while having so much more energy. Why he could fall from their house’s roof and feel completely fine. While some kids felt invincible, Jet had sometimes questioned if he was invincible.

“Where do my powers come from?” Jet asked, looking at Paladin and Quinn in curiosity, his appetite for the sword somewhat sated now that he held it.

Quinn and Paladin exchanged quick looks, but Paladin acknowledged Jet with a sincere look.

“We don’t know,” Paladin answered. Then the hero sighed and sadly looked at Quinn.

“And that’s why you have to come with me,” Paladin continued as his eyes returned to Jet.

Jet had known he was leaving with someone to begin homeschooling, but he hadn’t expected anything about a mysterious sword or becoming a superhero. The news was hitting him very suddenly and he wasn’t sure what to make of it.

“Why? I just thought Uncle Quinn didn’t know anything else so you were taking over,” Jet said.

“I will continue your education. But, while we explore what you’re capable of we can’t take the chance your superpowers will hurt anyone else,” Paladin reasoned. “So because of that you and I are leaving for a safe place where I will train you.”

Paladin put a hand on Jet’s shoulder said, “When the time is right, you will be my sidekick. Then when you’re older, you will be your own man. But right now I need you to trust me. Can you do that?”

Jet looked up at Paladin’s eyes and saw the honesty in them. This man exhumed kindness and confidence, a sincere brand of truth that Jet hadn’t experienced before. When Quinn had told Jet he had to leave to be taught by someone else, he had been nervous. But seeing what Paladin was capable of beating those men in the alley and the kindness he displayed, Jet took a leap of faith and nodded.

“Yeah…yeah, I think so,” Jet answered.

“Good. Then we will leave…” Paladin’s sentence trailed off and he removed his hand from Jet’s shoulder.

Jet finally realized that standing behind him, his Uncle Quinn was sobbing. The big man’s eyes were puffy and red and tears marked his shirt. Paladin sighed and looked at the door.

“I will give you two a minute. Jet come find me at the end of the alley when you are ready and I’ll take you to where we’re going,” Paladin said. Paladin then grabbed his luggage from beside the door and left, leaving Jet alone with his uncle.

“Uncle Quinn? Are you okay?” Jet asked cautiously.

Quinn put the luggage down on the ground and brought up a hand to his face, trying to wipe away the tears. Jet had never seen his uncle like this before and had no idea how to handle the situation.

“Look, Uncle Quinn, I’m sure I’ll be able to come and see you every once in a while, it’s not like I’ll be leaving forever or anything,” Jet stammered when suddenly Quinn picked his nephew up and locked him in a bear hug.

“You’re just like your Dad,” Quinn whispered, and Jet stared awkwardly at the roof while the air was squeezed out of him. “Just please take care of yourself. You’re the only thing I have left.”

Jet’s eyes looked at the side of Quinn’s head, feeling guilty. He had never once imagined his uncle felt that way, and it suddenly made leaving much more difficult despite the promises of being a superhero.

“I promise Uncle Quinn,” Jet said quietly, feeling a lump in his own throat forming as he thought back to his younger years.

Ever since Jet’s parents had died Quinn had taken care of him and raised him. Some of his earliest memories were playing with his uncle, and even though Quinn had gotten harder on him as Jet had gotten older, Jet still treasured those memories.

Quinn released Jet from the hug, and then took a deep self-controlling breath.

“Okay,” Quinn said to himself. “Okay.”

Jet then grabbed the luggage off the ground awkwardly carrying one bag with his sword in the same hand. They started walking towards the door, and Quinn opened it for his nephew.

“I left you a present in the bag,” Quinn commented as Jet walked out the door. Jet immediately wanted to ask what it was, but Paladin’s gleaming armor caught his attention. He knew it was time.

Down one way of the alley was his old life. His uncle, his room filled with superhero stories, everything he knew. Down the other was everything Jet had ever wanted to be.

Jet was torn for one last moment.

“See you later, Uncle Quinn,” Jet said. He turned and walked towards Paladin leaving everything he was to become something new.

He could hear his uncle say softly behind him, “Goodbye.”

As that night progressed, Jet wouldn’t have much memory of where they went, but a short distance away nestled in a park was a trap door that he and Paladin had climbed down. It was poorly lit and the ladder Jet climbed down was cold steel to the touch.

“Where are we?” Jet asked as he reached the bottom of the hole Paladin opened up. Jet looked up to watch Paladin descend but instead had to quickly catch his bags as Paladin dropped them down first. With a huff, Jet caught them both, more surprised at his bags being plummeting towards him then strained from the weight. His unusual strength made the bags he had to carry remarkably light considering their contents.

“This is a Chaos Bunker,” Paladin answered as he slid down the ladder. “It was designed after World War Two when that Chaos Bomb was dropped down in the U.S.”

“To…what, protect people from Chaos Bombs?” Jet guessed as he looked around. Paladin reached the bottom of the ladder and flipped a switch. With the hum of electricity, lights stirred to life, and Jet could see the long tunnel reaching down for many meters in front of him. The hall was a tight and constricted one, and doors lined either side.

“Yes, as a matter of fact,” Paladin answered. “During the Cold War, these bunkers were designed in case of an emergency involving Chaos Bombs.”

“I mean, no country has ever been able to recreate a Chaos Bomb, but these bunkers came in handy too when there was a threat of nuclear war as well,” Paladin commented. Paladin then began to walk down the hall, leading the way for Jet. Jet let Paladin’s comment sink in for a moment, but then he raced after his new mentor.

“Chaos energy is dangerous?” Jet asked as he scrambled to keep up. “I thought it created Alpha. And a bunch of other superheroes.”

Paladin looked over his shoulder at Jet, clearly bemused at Jet’s knowledge of superheroes.

“Indeed it did. But it’s important to know Jet that Alpha is the only person to sustain that much Chaos Energy in his body at one time. That’s what gave him his power. Other superhumans have to manipulate Chaos Energy in different ways so it’s not harmful to them. Alpha is the only person ever who has been able to harness the pure Chaos Energy without it killing him.”

“Oh, that makes sense I guess,” Jet muttered as he followed Paladin.

“It’s what makes Chaos Energy such a sought after resource,” Paladin continued, taking a left at the end of the hall. “People are always after ways to manipulate to their advantage, for good or bad.”

Paladin took a right at their next intersection and Jet was absent-mindedly following him now. The sudden history lesson was something Jet had learned a bit about in his homeschooling with Quinn, but his uncle had never spent that much time on the subject matter.

Then suddenly Paladin stopped, making Jet stop abruptly as well.

“It’s those of us who seek to use it for good that have become some of the greatest superheroes, and those who use it for bad some of the greatest villains,” Paladin said as he turned to face Jet.

“Do you guys think my powers come from Chaos Energy?” Jet asked, feeling like Paladin’s last comment was directed at him.

“To be honest Jet, we don’t know where your powers come from. But that’s not what matters. What matters is how you want to use them,” Paladin stated. Jet looked to the side, feeling like he had already responded to this ethical dilemma once. He wanted to get to the part with the training.

Seeing the eleven-years-old disinterest in more of this talk at the moment, Paladin opened the door next to him, revealing a small dark room. Leaning in Paladin flicked a light switch, giving the room a dim light and revealing to Jet a small cot and a little night table.

“This will be your room until we’re done your training,” Paladin commented. Jet grimaced and poked his head inside the room. Even though his room at Quinn’s house wasn’t much bigger, the lack of a window made Jet feel extremely claustrophobic.

“Ummm….” Jet muttered as he looked around. “Cool?” Jet thought he was a pretty optimistic guy, but if he had to live down here out of the sunlight for the next few years and have constant conversations about ethical rhetoric, then he was starting to regret his decision.

“Get some rest for now,” Paladin said, the apprehension in Jet’s voice enough to tip off Paladin to his protégé’s feelings. “We begin training later today.”

The reminder of superhero training perked up Jet’s spirits.

**************************************************************

Five years and one decorated room later, Jet felt like much hadn’t changed. While he knew how to use his powers better, he still had no idea where they came from or what to do with them. He didn’t even really know why he was in the bunker.

Jet stared at the picture with apprehension. He appreciated the gesture, he truly did, and he felt bad it had taken him so long to discover it hidden away in the collection. His Uncle Quinn must have packed it for him without his realizing. But hiding it in a romantic comedy, a movie Jet sure wasn’t about to open first, meant Quinn also didn’t necessarily want Jet to see it right away.

Not sure what to do with the photo, Jet looked at the framed copy of his Alpha article. His Uncle Quinn had bought him that frame as a birthday present. Alpha had always been his favourite superhero growing up, so when they found a copy of that news article Quinn had pulled out all the stops buying a nice wood frame for the article so it could be immortalized for Jet. The thought sent a tinge of guilt through JEt, reminding how much Uncle Quinn cared about him. Pulling it down from the wall, Jet unclipped the back, and tucked the photo in behind it, figuring that was the safest place for the picture to be so it wouldn’t get stomped on. He’d have to find a better home for it later.

Securing the frame back in place, Jet hung the article back up on the wall. He stared at the article for several moments after that, at the picture of the heroic, stoic Alpha. Jet let himself get lost in a fantasy for a moment, imagining the kind of superhero he wanted to be.

Jet sighed as that made him realize more than ever that Paladin hadn’t let him out into the field yet. It had been five long years of superhero training, and he still wasn’t allowed to leave. He was getting to the point where he figured he was never going to escape the bunker.

With a sigh, Jet resigned himself to watching the romantic comedy on his television. Maybe the next day he’d get to leave. Jet snorted and laughed at himself. He always too hopeful for his own good.

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