Part 1

by CM Towns

   COLD. That’s what ARAMINTA thought. It was April according to the date on the computer and weather reports she sought specified a chilly next few days. Araminta put the computer on the ground to her left side and got up from under the comforter, crawled to the end of the bed, grabbed one of the folded blankets and laid it out before settling back under. She grabbed the laptop and pulled it back onto her lap.
   A noise from outside made her snap her head in the direction of the door. She shook it out, knowing it was probably a squatter looking for a place to crash. Araminta’s current residence was a condemned school. The site of a clash between military and super-criminals. It was closed down, sectioned off with many locals temporarily relocated as tests were made to determine if any hazardous gases and materials infected the area. When tests came back negative the locals returned and debated in city council over the next several months on what to do with the property. With no decisions made the school has remained condemned, making it a perfect home for Araminta with its running water and working electricity.
   The room Araminta claimed was on the second floor of the main building. She chose this room because one staircase was mostly crushed plus a few holes in the ground and the bits of debris on the second floor made for dangerous navigating. Araminta made it a little slice of home with a bed, a lamp, a microwave, laptop, books, and other stolen goods. The room itself was nothing out of the ordinary. White walls, tiled ceiling, hard floor, empty blackboard, three large windows shut with blinds down and the teachers desk.

   Araminta yawned. She was up a little later than normal. Usually she went to bed around eight and woke up early in the morning-that way to avoid other possible squatters hiding about the school or even kids and teenagers roaming the premises for one reason or another. Not that it was too hard for her to avoid people.
   Still, she liked to move without anyone noticing her. Whether it be squatters, the locals, or the police-the moment one of Araminta’s pursuers were wise to her position it would mean looking for a new place to hide. It was not an ideal situation but Araminta made due better than anyone else could in her circumstance. The police could not be trusted and given the current climate, it would be unwise to approach them even if they could help shield her. She also could not take the chance in hiding at a home. Araminta would rather take her chances on the street, hoping that with the right time and distance she could find a way to assimilate back into a normal everyday life. It would still be a few years until she could pass as an adult however.
   Araminta’s days were filled with just staying out of sight and finding an activity to keep herself busy. She used her talents to get around so it helped. Libraries and bookstores were standard two to three times a week. Fridays and sometimes Wednesdays were dedicated to movie theaters. Once or twice a week she would find her way into a home or hotel and enjoy daytime television as well as a real shower. She also would wander around busy parts of the city or go to the mall, checking out stores she could steal from or just browse to kill time.
   Araminta rubbed her eyes. The computer was piggybacking a strong wifi connection and she was finishing an episodes of an old eighties cartoon called Jem. It had become a recent obsession thanks to Youtube and she was up to the two-parter that ended the second season entitled Hollywood Jem. A big yawn took her as the episode came to an end. Araminta turned off the computer and set it to the side. She stood up, standing not too short but not too tall. Her strawberry blonde hair long, her eyes hazel and skin fair. She was wearing pajama pants with a shirt three sizes too big. She put her feet into some shoes and walked closer to the locked door.
   Araminta stopped, put her left arm out and blue colored shapes and glyphs appeared between a double circular pattern with a hole in the middle widen to a black hole. A WITCHES CIRCLE that turned into a gateway which allowed her to transport from one place to another. Araminta hopped in and traveled through a tunneled path of stars to end up at the other side which was the restroom below.
   After she took care of her business she was about to open another gate until noises outside caught her attention. She paused to hear what sounded to be a group moving. Araminta figured a group of teens out late to get stoned. She quickly opened another gate and jumped inside. Once back to her room she started adjusting the sheets on her mattress before slipping in. She turned off the light, laid on her right side and closed her eyes. She moved a little to get more comfortable. Araminta opened her eyes before closing them again. That’s when she heard steps. Araminta sat up, stayed very still and studied the marching noise until it stopped.
   The door was smashed off it’s hinges and Araminta let out a scream in shock. Her mind raced with images of cloaked men with curved daggers so she almost missed the blue blast fired in her direction. On instinct her hands went up, palms facing out, and another witches circle appeared. This one smaller, yellow colored design to shield her from attacks. The small shield absorbed the impact but the force still knocked her off the bed. Araminta turned, made a gate, and jumped through just as she got tackled from the rear. The two traveled through space for a brief few moments until they both landing hard on the concrete ground outside.
   Araminta grimaced in pain, stood up and saw her attacker. Not who she had expected. Dark green Kevlar uniform with full mask and black goggles. An UPWARD POINTED ARROW as an emblem on the right chest. Araminta started working her hands and feet to move backwards as her attacker shook off the hard landing and started for his gun. It was a laser pistol she noted and her gates have a habit of short circuiting electronics so she scrambled, dashing off on nervous, shaky legs. No blast to the back confirmed it but a club thrown to the right leg tripped her down hard. A groan worked itself out of her before Araminta threw up another gate just below herself and disappeared, landing hard onto the ground of one of the nearby bungalows.
   Araminta was breathing hard, heart racing, cursing herself for both pausing after the last exit and trying to run instead of just opening another escape route. Araminta grimaced, her ankle was on fire. She grit her teeth in pain, grabbing and rubbing at her ankle. Araminta was gifted with three abilities she knew of-gates, shields, and a healing touch. She expanded a white witches circle on the ground around her. This began the process of smoothing her ankles pain away. It would take a few moments but she couldn’t run on the leg. She could open another gate but she needed to decide on where it would open up at. The longest distances she knew she could jump was around 25 yards. Araminta started thinking of what was in each direction from the school. In a minute she’d jump through a trio of gates.
   Araminta whispered to herself, “Okay-okay-okay. One gate into the street on Elmore, second puts me in the backyard of that one house, last jump and I can get inside the local auto shop. It should be closed right now.”
   Before Araminta could get to work a smoke canister flew through the broken window. Orange gas was shooting out quickly and Araminta started to cough. She opened the first of the three planned gates and dived through, landing on the street. Her feet hit on concrete, stumbled coughing and fell to the ground. It was some sort of knock out gas and her vision was starting to get blurry. Once she stood up she tilted, dizzy and light headed. Araminta knew she needed some distance and more time to heal but the gas was working quickly. Before she could do anything she spit a small amount of vomit up.
   Araminta wiped her mouth and expanded another healing circle below her. She had a violent coughing fit that forced smoke from out her mouth. Araminta lifted her hands to start on another gateway but a blast to the back took her down. It felt like she had been hit with a bat. She squirmed and a hard kick to the gut pushed all the air out her body. Groggily she whelped, “help.”
   “Pull her up!” a voice shouted and arms pulled her to her feet. Araminta tried to struggle but got a hard smack to the face for her trouble. “Get her to nap so we can move out,” the man added.
   A hand grabbed the mans shoulder and tossed him to the side. Araminta was let go of and she fell to her knees. There was a collision of noise ahead off her but she was busy rubbing her jaw and noticing the blood. She finally looked up when a hand touched her shoulder and asked, “You okay? Are you in shock?”
   Araminta’s eyes widen.
   A costumed woman stood before her. The costume was white with a black serpent coiling up the right leg, over the hip and disappearing toward her back only to wrap over the left shoulder with its horned head resting on her chest. The costume came up the neck and formed around the side of her head and the top half of her face with it opened for her medium length raven black hair. A second black mask was layered on top looking a little like a masquerade cover with small horns on top and the eyes were the white of the concealment underneath. She wore a belt with a few pouches, black gloves that covered half the forearm and also matching black boots. Her skin, what little was showing, was a light shade of brown. The over all design gave the impression of a masked Mexican wrestler turned superhero.
   All these details came rushing to Araminta, despite her efforts not to collapse cause she was drinking in the sight of the worlds first superhuman. Someone she had only seen in videos and grainy photos and actress’ play in movies. She stammered surprised, “REINA TITÁN?”
   “Yeah. Everything is going to be fine. You just stay here. I’m going to check out these assholes and clear the premises. I’ll be right back,” she said in a calming manner.
   Araminta nodded and barely got out a response of, “Okay” out. She saw Reina ascend into the air before flying into the school. Araminta smiled, relieved, she knew Reina would deal with the problem. She then heard sirens in the distance and knew the cops would be here shortly. Araminta considered what to do. The police may not be of any help to her but Reina told her to stay. Araminta mulled the choices over quickly and decided on what to do. She turned toward the direction of cop sirens and raised her hand to make another gateway but a sudden blow to the back of the skull squashed that idea.