Part 17

by CM Towns

   Reina Titán, Mr. Monster and Flash-Man arrived in the basement of the old newspaper building. This was where the alien graffiti was discovered by Flash-Man and Kestrel. Mr. Monster put his nose to the ground to pick up any scents while Flash-Man and Reina looked for more signs.
   “Nothing on my end,” Flash-Man said.
   “Maybe slow down a little?” suggested Titán. Flash-Man nodedd his head did another sweep.
   After a few minutes Reina stated, “I don’t see anything either. If this really is a marker they were not making it easy.”
   “I’m picking up scents but… Too many all over,” Mr. Monster said. He pulled a counter from his belt and measured the readings and added, “There is a hint of magic in the air.”

   “You have a magic Geiger counter?” questioned Flash-Man after running up to Monster.
   “Of course I do. These things however are not the most accurate. They only pick up readings if its strong. The faintest of magic will go unnoticed unless you have an awareness to it,” Monster explained.
   “You feeling anything?” Flash-Man asked looking up at Reina Titán who was hovering.
   “I don’t know,” she replied.
   “So what do we do next?” inquired Flash-Man.
   “If it’s a marker for a trail than there has to be more. We just have to figure it out. You said there were other exits?”
   “Yes-a hole blown through the far side. Another door to my right around the press, there’s a small nearby crawlspace that lines up with it too,” Flash-Man said.
   “The Daily News. You said this use to be part of Daily News?” asked Reina Titán of Mr. Monster.
   “Yes. It was hit during third invasion, the bad one-crashing and collapsing in. The way we came in actually aligns with a maintenance room,” Mr. Monster spoke out loud.
   He looked around, “I’m trying to work out which way they came or went. I think we did miss a marker somewhere. We should check the maintenance room and the tunnel. If we find nothing that means they never went that way. They had to have come and gone through the other two points.”
   “I can check the room and tunnel quicker,” Flash-Man offered.
   “Then we’ll-” Titán was interrupted by an explosion from their right. The three gather at fight position as they heard shuffling feet and a big laugh.
   “Ah shit!” one shouted.
   “We got costumes!” another shouted.
   Four Harkin soldiers and two humans had weapons pointed at Reina Titán, Mr. Monster, and Flash-Man. Fliopt worked his way through to the front.
   “This moment here is what I call a morale crushing moment,” Fliopt said.
   “Good to see you too shorty,” Reina responded.
   “How’d you find this place?”
   “Detective work. We don’t really need to get into the details.”
   “You sure? I was hoping to stall so I can come up with an exit strategy,” admitted Fliopt.
   “The only exit is for you all to give up. I can take you all by myself but Mr. Monster and Flash-Man here are pretty good themselves,” Reina Titán touted.
   “That’s wonderful to know,” Fliopt said before pointing a small crystal ball to Reina and firing what appeared to be purple lightning. Reina did not budge and it hit her direct in the chest, no effect at first but something settled in her gut like a heaviness before it begun to pierce her insides. Purple electricity crawled around her body, zig-zagging all over her. Reina Titán’s heart started beating faster and then she threw up a little.
   “That should even this fight up,” Fliopt said before his men started firing. Flash-Man and Mr. Monster had been distracted but regained their wits in time to dodge. Mr. Monster tried pulling Reina with him but she got a blast to the back sending her opposite of him, landing chest first.
   Reina pulled herself up and spit up on the ground. She saw one of Fliopts men coming and pointed her palm. It trembled as it lit up, Reina changed tactics, she rolled off and around debris. She heard a pair of explosions from above.
   “Crap!” Reina said. Fliopt’s men were firing on the roof to cause a distraction and allow themselves to make a quick escape.
   “I got you bitch!” one guy said behind her. Renia Titán moved quick spinning around, knocking away the gun and planting a right punch into the mans ribs before adding a knee to the gut and then finished with pulling the mans hair and sending him face down into the ground. Reina had an idea of what Fliopt did. A sort of haste spell that doubled as a minor sick spell. First it hit her with the discomfort to force her to pause. It slowed her ability to create iridescent projectiles and probably effected her super strength and flight. The discomfort grew into full stomach pains and nausea. Dizziness was kicking in and she could feel her regular movements slowing.
   Crafty Harkin prick, shot through her head. Fliopt came prepared. Designed an entire enchantment to use against her. He had gotten very good she thought.
   “TRAGEMROLEV,” Reina said and a glow surrounded her. Now powered down to her normal state, Jessie started to vomit.
   “Time to go beautiful,” Mr. Monster said scooping Jessie up and hopping away. Flash-Man had the door up and the two retreated back towards the tunnels they came in through just as a collision happened behind them.
   A safe distance away Monster finally put Jessie on her feet and she spat up on the ground.
   Jessie went into her pockets and said, “Son of a bitch.”
   “What happened back there?” questioned Flash-Man.
   “Designer spell. He must have been working on that piece for a while,” Jessie answered now wearing a domino mask and black gloves.
   “So you can’t power back up?”
   Jessie answered, “Not until I feel better. By then the spell should have ran its course-” Jessie saw Mr. Monster and went over to him, “You’re bleeding bad.”
   “The weapons they were packing were lethal,” he answered as she checked his wounds. A hole through his chest, jacket torn from laser blasts and missing two fingers on the left hand.
   “They’ll grow back.”
   “How the fu… You’ve tried that before?” she asked. He nodded and Jessie started smacking him in his head.
   “Ease up, Canary.”
   “You don’t do something like that without someone around!” shouted Jessie.
   “Frank was there,” he replied.
   Jessie shook her head. “They missed your heart?”
   “Thankfully. I’m not very interested in trying to heal that.”
   “Definitely. Also, protect your head. We know you heal but if mythology and movies tell us anything is that your head is the most precious part of your body,” Jessie said. He kissed her and she smacked him for that.
   “What’s the for?”
   “Having me worried. Healing factor or not,” she responded.
   “Hate to break this up-” Flash-Man paused to catch Jessie’s arm as she almost fell. She sat down and started breathing hard.
   “As I was saying, we got beat back there. What now?” continued Flash-Man.
   “I took one down. How about you two?”
   “Fliopt started trying to blast me so I only was able to knock out one of the Elves,” Flash-Man said.
   “Harkin,” she corrected him.
   “I knocked out one of their humans, kicked another Harkin but I don’t think he stayed down,” Mr. Monster said.
   Jessie nodded and then said, “Fliopt probably isn’t retrieving the humans. Probably not the Harkin you knocked out. At least we now know the direction they came in from so that leaves checking the dilapidated maintenance room and tunnels for a marker-”
   “Which will be harder now that part of it is smashed in,” Flash-Man said.
   “Check how bad it is. While scoping for markers,” instructed Jessie to Mr. Monster. She looked at Flash-Man and said, “The second tunnel back, check for any signs. I’m gonna call our partners.”
   “Got it,” Monster said getting up. Flash-Man sped off at that moment.
   Jessie ran her hand through hair and cursed at herself.