Part 18

by CM Towns

   Frank and Araminta moved down the hallway of the base, engaged in talk about the news. It was the morning time and Frank had gotten up early to work out. After finishing he made his way to the game room to find Araminta toying with one of the coin-op video game machines the team acquired-Super Puzzle Fighter II. It was alongside Super Street Fighter II, Ms. Pac-Man, Final Fight and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. Frank had requested a pinball machine or two while Antoine wanted a Tekken, a Neo-Geo machine and a Dance Dance Revolution. Reed really had no preference as long as the game was fun. It was in the game room they got the call about coming up to the Executive floor.
   “I guess we’ve been lucky for the most part,” Araminta said in regards to the treatment the team had received from most local law enforcement.
   “Yeah but they’re gonna crack down eventually. Probably first with the soloists. Its a matter of time before they get harder on us. We are outlaws,” Frank pointed out.
   “But the good kind,” Araminta joked.
   “Absolutely. Those are the best kinds of outlaws. Fighting for justice in a world where the security of the state is more important than the liberty of the individual,” said Frank.
   “You’re not going to get political on me? If you are I have to go away. I know nothing about politics.”
   “Fine, fine-how about this-Elijah and Jessie went out last night. To a club,” he mentioned.
   “Really? How did I not know about this?”
   “You knocked out early, before they left.”
   “No troubles I hope,” Araminta commented.
   “GOOD MORNING!” Jessie shouted in joy as she crept up on the pair and put her arms around their shoulders.

   “You okay?” Frank asked.
   “Just a joy to be alive,” she answered before dropping her arms and walking by them. She pressed the button to the passenger elevator and whistled a tune.
   Frank and Araminta turned behind them to see Elijah walking behind them. He had a great big grin on his face.
   “You guys have fun last night? What did you do?” Araminta inquired of them.
   “Went to a club, got a whole hour of dancing in before cops came in to tell us to move along. Had a nice dinner at a hole in the wall Vietnamese place. Looked at stars up on the mountain headquarters. Truly magical evening,” Elijah answered as they all got into the elevator.
   Frank and Araminta turned to each other, in silent agreement that there was more to their night.
   “HOLD IT!” came a shout. Elijah gripped the door and Kate came running. She got into the elevator and said, “Thanks.”
   “Kate… What a surprise,” Elijah said.
   “Yeah. Antoine told me I should come down to the base so I got in last night,” she said as the elevator started up.
   “Something happen?” Jessie asked.
   “No,” Kate replied before adding, “The headquarters is really claustrophobic. Pretty unsettling.”
   “You get to use to it. Has its charms,” Frank said.
   “I like windows,” replied Kate.
   “Windows are nice. Maybe we should have Tesla put some fake ones in,” Elijah said.
   “That’s a waste of budget,” Jessie said.
   “So were the game machines,” Araminta responded.
   “You take that back!” Frank said in a stern manner.
   “Plus I got those at a discount. About the cost of a really crappy used car that’s missing the parts that would make it work properly,” Jessie said.
   They got out and made their way to the War Room. “Hope you gave Vidya complimentary word on her performance when you were out,” said Elijah.
   “I did. Vidya’s working out well. I kind of think we need a third person in the Hub,” said Kate.
   “Normally I’d be a against that but if we’re recruiting I guess we could pull one more,” Jessie said.
   Once they reached the War Room the group stepped inside to be greeted by Antoine, Sally, Reed (with his handheld by an empty plate), Wolf and a cake with a missing slice on the table.
   “Whats the occasion?” asked Frank as he sat down.
   “With April and Aamil joining our ranks-plus our recruitment drive meaning soon the Living space will be a bit more crowded-we thought-”
   “Antoine thought,” Sally interrupted.
   “That we should celebrate the original eight,” he finished.
   “When did Reed and Wolf get up here and why did they get to eat cake before we showed up?” asked a jealous Araminta.
   “I smelled the baking early and followed closely. Wolf is eating special cake,” Reed answered.
   “Special cake?” Frank asked.
   “I did not use that marijuana you confiscated from the cartel nor would I ever use it in my cooking,” Sally said.
   “A shame,” he said disappointed.
   “Let’s get the drinks,” Antoine said walking over to the counter connected to the wall on the right side of the room. He asked, “Got milk, coffee-Vanilla flavor, and orange juice.”
   They all mentioned what they want and Antoine served the drinks as Sally served the chocolate cake. The group started to talk, joke, and speak about the last couple months wild ride.
   “I wonder how Montalvo’s looking these days,” Frank wondered.
   “I’m sure the rich bastard got facial reconstruction or something. Probably did a whole Face/Off thing,” Antoine joked.
   “Let’s hope not,” Jessie said.
   “So how’d you like the trip over, Kate?” asked Sally.
   “It was terrible. Seriously-I felt sick afterward,” answered Kate.
   “You get use to it,” attested Antoine.
   “I hope not to make many jumps, thank you very much,” Kate replied to that.
   “But you’re going to be around for the big shindig when we get it started right?” Antoine asked.
   “The meet and greet? Sure,” Kate answered.
   “We’re going to need you here for a little more than that,” added Sally.
   “To do what?” she wondered.
   “How to file reports, what your department does, and the importance of communication,” Elijah answered.
   “Plus we love seeing you around here,” chimed Frank.
   “You don’t have to be here for the entirety though. Two solid weeks of the team together. Getting to know one another. Training. Working. Becoming one unit,” Jessie smirked.
   “Little negative,” noticed Antoine.
   “You think there will be problems?” Araminta questioned.
   “Of course there will. We’re talking doubling the team-besides Aamil is already a bit anti-social,” explained Jessie.
   “That’s true. He seemed a bit dismissive of April on first meeting. Pissed me off,” noted Frank.
   “Aamil is… Well… Focused and seems more interested in treating it specifically like a job. We’re co-workers, not friends,” Antoine said.
   “He’ll fit in. He’s good,” Elijah vouched.
   “Plus with us around he’ll tow the line,” added Jessie.
   “How many people are we talking about?” asked Reed.
   “Not sure. Still have to make some invites. Vet a few people,” Antoine answered.
   “They better not screw with my games.”
   “You’re going to have to share,” Araminta said.
   “Pffft-to that.”
   “Speaking of brats-whats going on with the Mexican kid? Didn’t you say a general wanted us to watch him?” Frank asked.
   “One our contacts is a General in the Mexican army. His pre-teen nephew has gained some magical abiltiies. He wishes the child to train with us for a period of time before returning to Mexico for the superhuman army they are building,” detailed Sally.
   “Is that wise?” Frank further inquired.
   “No but we do owe the General a great deal.”
   “Wonderful, another pre-teen to watch,” Elijah said looking over to Reed.
   “Excuse me, I am a teenager,” corrected Reed.
   “That’s right, I keep forgetting.”
   “You think there will be problems with the alien girl we brought in?” asked Kate.
   “There shouldn’t be as long as no one does something stupid,” Jessie said.
   “Has anyone seen her leave the room?” Frank questioned.
   “I have. When me and Wolf went to get a midnight snack,” Reed said.
   “How did Wolf react?” Kate wondered.
   “He was defensive at first but I calmed him down. Next time he sees her Wolf will be fine,” replied Reed.
   “Good. I still need to work with her, get her situated,” said Sally.
   “Surprised she didn’t want to go to the island-well, maybe not surprised. More surprised she would chose to come stay here,” Frank said.
   “We rescued her,” Araminta said.
   “Plus, my understanding, her species has trouble with a few the white aliens we helped. Maybe it would be too uncomfortable,” Sally said.
   “Why are we even in the War Room?” asked Elijah.
   Antoine answered, “Well-I kind of wanted to do some status updates on-”
   The team groaned.
   “Okay, okay. We’ll do them tomorrow,” said Antoine.
   “We actually do have some details about our mystery wizard from New Jersey,” Kate said.
   “Really?” Araminta reacted wide eyed. That case had been nagging at her on and off since their run in with Vizier.
   “Before we go any farther, I guess we should toast,” Elijah said raising his cup up, “We beat up Neo-Nazi supervillains, a real life Mummy, helped Kid Victory kick around some of his rogues, and in a couple days did more to damage the Daga Cartel than any federal organization has in the the last ten months. We are badass’. I think we should take a moment to acknowledge that.”
   “Here, here,” everyone said.
   “If I may,” Frank said standing up, “We should acknowledge the help of our associates and contacts. Big Boss, Tesla, of course Kate’s partner Acid Burn. On a personal note-I never really thought of myself as a superhero type-just a good Samaritan sure. Someone who was outspoken and I figured maybe I’d do my part in a small way. These last few months I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. More than I ever thought I would. I’m glad to be here and ti be hanging out with such awesome people,” Frank said.
   “Any other speeches? Because if so I want to get back to my other games,” Reed said. Jessie reached over and gave him a hug and he pushed her off to which she laughed.
   “Well-I’ll say go team go. Sally is of course amazing. You go girl!” jessie said to which Sally smiled. Jessie went on, “Antoine-Kid Victory-bit full of himself…”
   “Wow…” he said.
   “But nonetheless I’ve seen vigilantes come and go and this Kid Victory is battling a wave of crazed costume baddies and making it look easy. Your partner/associate, Professor, don’t know you too well but you’ve been a big help with a lot of the details. Reed-still some work needs to be done but I’ve watched you closely and your relentless drive to beat Cektic up warms my heart,” continue Jessie.
   “Cektic is a beast so thats no small feat,” Kid Victory commented.
   “I know I am awesome you can move on,” Reed agreed without looking up from his game.
   “Elijah…” Jessie pointed, “You’re doing okay I guess.” He raised his drink and smiled.
   “But you got some talents,” she winked and Frank whistled.
   “Frank! Love the hair. Very enthusiastic. Rocker girls and boys are going to have posters of you in their room telling all the people you’re their favorite superhero,” Jessie said.
   “I like being the reason people masturbate,” Frank commented and Araminta spat out her orange juice shocked.
   “That leaves Araminta. You done good girl. Got a sweet sword-beat up a bunch baddies. You’ve come a long way and I’m sure you’ll go further,” Jessie finished.
   “Thank you, Jessie, I… um… Okay I think I have to stop because I’m swelling with a little emotion,” Araminta said.,br>
   “Boring! Come on Wolf,” Reed said walking away.
   “Well he would have left soon anyway since we’re going to get down to business,” said Antoine. The rest of the team got up and started to leave. Frank brought up the idea of a movie in the theater and a round of suggestions started. Antoine sighed and got up to join them.