Part 14

by CM Towns

   Frank is up on the roof, headphones on with Bad Brains playing. His head working through the information they operated on and the consequences of their attack. No one was hurt, luckily, but it showed the Teiwaz were not only good at distracting them but aware of just how the Guard was trying to track them. The Teiwaz were several steps in another direction and if Mizer was to be believed they could be gone very soon. This was a serious issue and one that the team took seriously.
   The mp3 player now switched to Suicide and Frank got up to stretch.
   “Teiwaz pricks,” he said to the wind.
   The team in New York, his home state, did good. Frank looked at the reports and little footage they got. They went after Fliopt and ended up taking on a pair of metal monsters. Reina Titán went all out too. Something she rarely does-even when the team went up against the crazy mummy Vizier some months ago.
   Frank laughed. It was Kid Victory, Red Sprite, Reina, Mr. Monster and himself against an ancient mummy with incredible super powers. Almost unbeatable until Huntsman and Araminta showed up with the coffin and Red Sprite was able to read the inscription and have the monster taken care. Frank wondered why Reina did not go all out at the time and her response was simply ‘I didn’t really think I needed to strain myself for a battle we would win.’
   That shot his mind toward Mizer, who showed up after their battle to take credit for unleashing the Mummy and to taunt the team. Now she shows up again offering a trade. Some ancient book for important intel.
   What is the bitch’s game? he wondered. By now Suicide switched to the Fall and then to the Big Sleep and is now on Ramones as his mind considered Mizers schemes, the Teiwaz’s actions, and how his team is reacting.

   Franks head turned to see April making her way onto the roof.
   “Hey,” April said.
   “Can’t sleep either?” Frank asked.
   “No. Busy few days. Well… Worrisome few days.”
   “It’s a nice night up here to stare up and think.”
   “Have you thought about anything useful?”
   “Absolutely not. Other than I hate Izam Mizer, I hate the Teiwaz, and I hate that my blasts are not killer enough sometimes,” Frank answered as April sat down by him.
   “Your powers are cool. Guess you just need to add a weapon for guys with outfits that protect,” suggested April.
   “I’ve thought about that. Probably a baseball bat,” he said.
   “You like baseball?”
   “No but I like the Warriors.”
   “That’s a movie right? I think my dad liked that one,” April said.
   “Its a cool flick. The gang called the Furies looked the best. I think that’s why I’d like to use a bat,” Frank said.
   “Plus bats are great weapons to bludgeon people with.”
“Exactly. So you want to bounce off ideas about the case? Go over the details?” asked Frank.
   “Yeah.”
   “Or do you want to make out?”
   “God yes!”
   The two embraced and kiss under the Paris stars.

#G#


   Antoine was tired, yawning, and still working. He had Kate, the Professor, on chat through his tablet which was being held up on a stand.
   “You probably should get some sleep,” Kate suggested.
   “I’ll catch up on sleep after all this is over.”
   “That includes taking some days off,” Kate recommended.
   “Yeah sure. So where was I?”
   “We were discussing exactly how Mizer is so aware of the Teiwaz’s movements. We pretty much settled on her research on Earths magic and supernatural activities introducing her to Teiwaz. Seeing as there are stories of Nazi research into the occult. Its possible the connection was made there,” Kate explained.
   “Right. Any word on Meltdown?” Antoine asked switching topics.
   “None. He’s been safely transported to a special holding facility. The Teiwaz did not risk going after him like we thought they would,” answered Kate.
   “The assassin Hunter and Minty saw?”
   “Minty?”
“Her name has too many syllables right now,” Antoine replied.
   “The Mute is who I believe it was. Not much on her except she has been connected to a couple high value hits,” Kate answered.
   “From the way Minty described her she is very good. Obviously she could out sword fight her but to catch onto Bravado’s technique so quickly shows strong observational skills.”
   “I wonder why Mute did not press them.”
   “Probably to have us try and track her. They left a trail behind but I assumed it was a trap. Just another skirmish for diversion, more time for the Teiwaz to go on with their real plans,” inferred Antoine.
   “So we’re relying on Mizer to come through. That’s reassuring,” Kate said dripping sarcasm and contempt for the Mistress.
   “The Teiwaz have a major plan in the works and France is not where its going down. Its just part of the scheme. We need to figure it out,” Antoine detailed.
   “Maybe our appearance in France has forced them to move up their time table. If we’re coming at them here, we could come after them anywhere they choose to operate,” Kate said.
   “Its possible but we’re talking world domination. Even moving up the timeline its still something that seems too far out. So many factors to deal with-military, supeheroes, revolts alongside being able to coordinate such an attack,” Antoine responded.
   “Should I submit a report to Big Boss or wait until Mizer delivers on her end?” asked Kate.
   “No. Nothing goes to Big Boss until we finish the job. I want to have everything finished, everything looked over before we let him feed it to the agencies to disseminate,” said Antoine.
   “Did you know Jessie has access to AHM files on the highest level?” Kate asked.
   “She mentioned she had a false identity, but I assumed it was just a clever disguise.”
   “No. Sylia Stingray is a deep cover agent for the department of Advance Human Monitoring,” Kate said.
   Antoine replied to that with, “Interesting. We might have to exploit this.”

#G#


   Araminta couldn’t sleep. She has had trouble since arriving in Paris but the last 24 hours have made it worse. She was pacing in one of the rooms below the base, thinking about Mizer’s offer which had taken Sally and Arturo out of Paris. Araminta thought about the fight she had with the assassin and how she needed more instructions in the art of sword fighting. Sally had done what she could working through fundamentals of a style similar to fencing. Antoine worked with Araminta too but his knowledge of sword fighting was limited. They mostly work on her countering his use of sticks and staffs. This was part of a plan to have Araminta develop a style free from proven forms.
   Araminta got a lot more out of training with Jessie as a sparring partner. Jessie had no technique. She simply attacked, aggressively. It not only forced her to react, it played to her confidence to be better than Jessie at something. Araminta believed it was all part of Jessie’s teaching style. Jessie, much like Sally, were both taught parts of different styles and picked up everything else in battle. Jessie had a way of teaching that was natural. Sally would teach you. She would be kind and gentle but at the same time she was distant. Sally had a hard time connecting, she tried but lacked the humor. Antoine had the humor, but sometimes it felt like the slower learners were frustrating him. Jessie was there in the middle being able to push her students.
   Araminta picked up her sword and swung it a few times. She imagined the fight with the assassin, thinking of the movements she saw. Her teachers told her to learn from her enemies and Araminta would go over the movements tomorrow with Hunter who copied them to memory.
   Araminta’s head spun around at the sound of knocking. She looked to the stairs she climbed down from but knew that was wrong. She looked then to the door and thought about calling Antoine down. A whistling begun from behind the door and she approached with her sword in hand. The door was re-enforced by the feds who once used this building as a base. She touched it and then moved her hands to the locks, and then to the knob but stopped herself from turning it.
   Araminta heard a voice that said, “You know who it is. I won’t hurt you.”
   Araminta’s hand shook. She considered not opening the door but ultimately decided to take the chance.
   “Hello,” Mizer smiled, “Shall I come in, or do you want to speak out here?”
   She stepped aside and Mizer walked by.
   “What do you want?” Araminta stumbled.
   “Do you know your real name?”
   “Yes.”
   “Not the name you were given by your adopted parents, but by your real mother?” Mizer said.
   “You do not know anything about my real mother.”
   “I know more than you on the matter. Would like me to give you a biography?” Mizer asked.
   “Don’t,” Araminta said.
“Bethany Araminta Courant. The middle name is your true first name, given by your mother after the woman who saved her, while pregnant, from the cult that pursues you now. Both your mother and this Araminta are deceased,” Mizer said.
   Araminta opened her mouth but closed it. She then asked, “My father?”
   “Was one of them,” Mizer said.
   It stabbed Araminta in her heart. Choked up and almost about to vomit.
   “Why?” she struggled to ask.
   “Power. Great power.”
   “I have great power?”
   Mizer smiled. “That is a question I’m curious about myself.”
   “Why are you telling me this?” asked Araminta.
   “Maybe to help you. Maybe to help myself. Maybe I just want to see your face as I tell you these things. I am odd like that,” Mizer responded.
   “My mother-her friend… What were their names?” questioned Araminta.
   “Vivian Stark. Araminta Jones. I’d tell you your fathers name but I don’t know,” Mizer said.
   “ARAMINTA!”
   Araminta’s head spun around and saw Antoine peeking down.
   “You talking to someone?” he asked.
   Araminta looked to her side and saw herself alone again, door closed.
   “No one,” she then answered.

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