Part 17

by CM Towns

   The simple brilliance of a white van is that with the right decal on the side it blends in effortlessly. Plumber, electrician, or maybe a smaller shipping company. This white van, borrowed, was from a private computer repair store. It was parked around the corner from a large apartment complex. No one noticed or cared as it just sat there. It drove through once and around, found its spot and waited. Only one person exited this van. She walked the street in front of the complex, caught the eye of the doorman, then the guard by the remote fence to the parking lot. This woman circled back and reported what she had found.
   This complex in Hyde Park, Chicago was where the signal went dead. Kid Victory was in the front seat on his com with the Professor, talking about the location while Reina Titán and Araminta sat in the back. Reina was calming herself down, her body itching to move, to react. Araminta was nervous, scared, and worried for her new friends. Kid Victory was not at all concerned. In his head everything was going according to plan and there was little reason to consider the possibility of something going wrong. Kid Victory was optimistic, confident and that at times gnawed at Reina.
   “You okay?” asked Araminta.
   “I should be asking you that,” she replied.

   Araminta smiled and said, “I’m trying to figure out how I ended up here.”
   “You’re here cause of peer pressure.”
   “That’s one reason.”
   “Its the main reason. You want to connect with people. And seeing as you spent god knows how long by yourself, the fact there is a group of people who have accepted you gives you a warm feeling inside,” Reina explained.
   “It is nice to have people to talk to. Good food to eat. A nice bed,” agreed Araminta.
   “It is.”
   “Why do you do what you do? Why does Kid Victory?” inquired Araminta.
   “I thought you knew why we do this.”
   Araminta shook her head. “I know you’re heroes-that’s what you do. But why are you heroes?”
   “I can’t really talk for KV. A thrill seeker attitude mixed in with that goodhearted ‘help your average man’ values. Maybe there is something else there,” she said.
   “I do this because someone should,” Kid Victory said before getting back to his discussion with the Professor.
   Reina had a smirk and continued, “I don’t do this because I like people. I don’t do this because I believe in justice. I mean our justice system is screwy. I do all this for selfish reasons.”
   “What are they?” asked a puzzled Araminta. Reina looked down and thought about the question. Reina always lied about the movies, shows and books that featured her. She was well aware of the various portrayals. They always got Reina Titán wrong. Most liked to give her a tragic story or a dark past. Or it was just the way they made her walk, talk, and her general attitude. Jessie always considered herself a very simple person with simple motivations.
   Reina started, “I do this to protect the people I know. The people I care about. I really don’t give a damn about the average man or woman usually. People are selfish, mean, petty, and hateful. But I love my family and friends. Even if I sometimes I get annoyed by my mother I still love her. I would never want some asshole villain to come in to my home and hurt them. I save the world from bad guys because I don’t want my family to suffer. By extension I guess that’s everyone else.”
   “But why help me? Why Sally? Why go out of your way-like when you were in Brazil and fought those dragons that one time?” asked Araminta.
   “I went to Brazil that time to chase down HAZEL. She use to work for the Mistress. I didn’t know at the time but Hazel was looking for a way back home. They accidentally let them dragon dogs out. She and some of the HARKIN helped us fight them off. People don’t really know that. Hazel was a bitch who worked for a bigger bitch, but at the end of the day she wanted to go home. She died in that fight a hero,” Reina replied. She shook her head thinking about Hazel’s death.
   “But… To answer your question. I don’t know. Sally-was broken when I met her. Tired, scared, on the run. I helped her because I just did. She snapped that collar on me and it was done. No self journey. No coming to grips with my powers. No time to process alien invaders. I got a piece of jewelry, saw some pricks, opened a can of whup ass. That’s the origin of Reina Titán.
   “And right after I did my thing the first time I seriously considered throwing that collar away. But Sally lost her family. Was stranded from home. And I knew that Mizer would be causing much trouble. I did it to be done with it but here I am. Still Reina,” she finished.
   “You’re not selfish,” said Araminta.
   “She’s right, you’re not,” Kid Victory agreed.
   Reina switched topics. “What’s the job?”
   “You worried the others are in trouble?” he asked.
   “Everyone except Red Sprite. She’s probably already busting out,” Reina answered.
   “You think so?” asked Araminta.
   “She’s the toughest woman I know and maybe the toughest woman in the universe. She is definitely tougher than I am,” Reina Titán answered.
   “Professor looked up as much as she could find on the Taylor Complex. It was bought out twenty-three years ago by a Pryce Michaels Inc. which seems to be a shelf company. Every apartment is currently rented out with the details of the occupants having turned up that every resident is white. There has major construction in and around the complex every few years,” Kid Victory said.
   “So what do we do?” Reina asked.
   “You smash in. Knock out the ground where there has to be a secret pathway, call to confirm, go in and do some damage while we place a call to the authorities before following through,” Kid Victory explained.
   “So go wild?” Reina Titán said with a big smile.
   In less than a minute Reina was smashing into the parking lot. She heard alarms as she found a nice center in the lot which she proceeded to crush through, revealing an underground pathway. Reina put the call in before following down the path. It turned right and went for a few meters before splitting in twos. Reina took left and pushed her speed faster until she got to a loading area. Guards fired with guns and laser pistols. Reina took it and moved quick to silence each and every soldier. Nonlethal in her actions but broken wrists, ribs and fractured collar bones made sure to leave an impression.
   Reina Titán sees four elevators around her. Two freight, two standard. She breaks one open and sees the shaft goes down. Reina remembered her headpiece and called in. “Professor?” she asked.
   “I’m here. Kid Victory and Araminta are on there way, police and federal agents notified,” she told her.
   “Good. Let’s save the day,” Reina replied.