Titans West: Studio Tore Up, Chapter 2: Rookies

by Martin Maenza

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Darren Festino took his place center stage. The cameras had been blocked, the lights had been adjusted, and the scene was ready to be filmed.

“And… action!” the director said. The cameras began to roll.

In his role of Brad Bindy, Darren sat dejectedly on the plaid sofa. “I flunked my math exam, got razzed by my dumb sister Kathy, and then ran the car into a tree on the way home,” he sighed. “This day can’t get any worse.”

There was knock on the front door. “Great, now what? Probably that annoying couple from next door.” He glanced up. “Hey, big guy, can’t you cut me a break once in a while?” He walked over to the door and opened it; there was a beautiful blond teenager wearing a short, tight mini-dress.

“Excuse me, I’m new in the neighborhood,” Cindy said as she recalled her lines. “Might you be able to direct me to the mall?” She remembered to giggle and smile, just as the script called for.

Darren, as Brad, glanced up once more and grinned. “Now that’s what I call a break!

There was a pause, and then the director said, “Cut and print! Good job, everyone.” Cindy was relieved; her first walk-on part had gone off without a hitch. The director called, “Let’s set up for the final–” Suddenly, there was a rumbling sound from the back of the sound stage. “What’s going on back there?”

The wall began to shake, crack, and then crumble. As the dust began to clear, there appeared a large figure in the opening of the wall. “Y’all b-b-better get n-n-now!” the man warned as he worked on more of the wall with an oversized jackhammer. His clothes looked like that of a construction worker, with blue pants and brown boots complete with gold construction helmet. The only thing out of place was the black mask he wore over his eyes and the large red D T letters on his light blue T-shirt. “T-t-this here b-b-building’s b-b-been c-c-condemned by the D-D-Demolition T-T-Team!”

Gopher recognized the name. Yipes, this guy’s trouble, he thought as he slipped away from his Aunt Marla and the others. He then made a bee-line for a nearby building. I remember a group by that name causing problems at a nearby airfield a year or so ago. If this guy’s from that same group, and if there’s more than just him, the whole studio could be in for it! The kid hurried inside the special effects offices and opened up a certain locker. With Dan off on a remote shoot, there’s only one person who can save the day. He pulled out a red costume and began to change into it.

***

At the same instant that Gopher left the sound stage, Cindy Simpson struggled to make her own exit. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get away unnoticed. “Cindy, this way!” Darren Festino said as he ushered her out the nearby exit. “You’ve got to get out of here!” They made it safely outside.

Cindy had to think fast. She grabbed him and began to panic. “You’ve got to do something! Call the police, or the National Guard, or anyone!

“Relax, relax!” Darren told her. He moved her over nearby a trailer. “Just calm down and keep an eye out! I’ll go make a call.” The male teen ran off to find the nearest phone.

Cindy waited for him to get out of sight, then ducked behind the trailer. She smiled and said, “Hmm, maybe I’m a better actress than I thought.” A green ring became visible on her hand, and emerald energy from it quickly washed over her body. When the glow faded, she was no longer dressed as Cindy Simpson the model/actress; she was now dressed in the white top, green skirt, and matching boots of the Green Lantern named Arisia. “Now to attend to the problem at hand.”

The female Green Lantern flew over the top of one of the buildings and almost ran into another costumed female. “Hold it right there!” Arisia said as her ring pulsed, and an emerald hand sprung forth.

The target leaped instinctively out of the way and rolled to her feet. “Like, what are you doing?” the blond woman snapped. She wore a black half-top with long yellow gloves, a black mini-skirt and high yellow boots. Her mask was black, and her top had a yellow bat insignia across the chest. “Do you, like, have any idea who I am, little miss Green Lantern?”

Arisia took a good look at the costume. “Who are you? Batgirl or something?”

“Right on the first try,” Batgirl replied. “I was just about to swing down and stop those creeps when you, like, blasted at me!” Then under her breath she added, “Rookies!”

“I’m sorry,” Arisia apologized. But the other heroine hadn’t waited for it; Batgirl had already tossed her line and had left the rooftop. “Well, isn’t she a bit rude?” The alien heroine took off toward the action as well.

Hawk and Dove had already been engaging the members of the Demolition Team but were a bit outnumbered. “About time you joined the party, Batgirl,” Hawk called out as he struggled with the villain called Hardhat.

“We can certainly use the help,” Dove added as she leaped from one spot to another, dodging the rubble being hurled at her by the villain named Scoopshovel.

“Not if I have anythin’ ta say about it!” the female member of the Demolition Team stated as she took aim with her golden weapon. “Eat hot rivets, bimbos!” Rosie the Riveter fired her weapon in a spraying arc toward the approaching heroines.

Arisia instinctively raised an emerald shield, but the projectiles passed through it with ease. “What the–?” she said as she zoomed out of their path.

The red-haired Rosie laughed. “Ha! Had a feelin’ we might encounter a Green Lantern or two, so we made sure our weapons had a fresh yella coatin’!”

Another of the rivets cut Batgirl’s line, but the masked heroine landed safely on her feet. “Lantern, see if you can, like, take out one of the others,” she ordered. “This woman is totally mine!”

Arisia nodded and located another of the villains. One of the costumed men riding a large yellow machine was about to flatten a series of trailers. “Let’s try an indirect approach,” she said. An emerald beam shot forth and snagged a nearby tarp. Using the tarp as a surface, she created a ramp of emerald energy beneath it and put the entire combination in the path of the fast-moving machine.

“Not bad, sweetheart,” the driver said as the machine charged up the ramp even faster. “But I guess you didn’t know that ol’ Steamroller was a stunt cyclist.” The namesake machine flew off the edge of the ramp. “Whaaa-hooo!” The driver landed the vehicle squarely and turned his head back to taunt the woman. “Gonna have to better than that to stop me and my big rig!”

Arisia smiled. “Oh, really? Maybe you should turn around.”

“What?” Steamroller said. He turned just in time to see his vehicle go over the edge of a very deep crater that had not been there a moment ago. “Hey! No fair!” An emerald hand plucked him out of the hole and bound him tightly.

“Guess you didn’t know I liked to dig holes as a child,” Arisia teased. “And my power ring makes it so much faster to make them.” From behind her, a giant emerald scoop full of dirt appeared. “Quick to fill them in, too.” She dumped the dirt back in the hole, burying the man’s vehicle.

Meanwhile, across the way, Hawk struggled with his problem directly. “Ugh, you’re strong,” he puffed as he dug in his heels. He pushed against the golden metal shoulder pads of his opponent.

“Concrete walls can’t stop me,” the big man stated, “so what makes you t’ink you can? I’m called Hardhat fer a reason!” He continued to press on forward.

“Hardhat, eh?” Hawk said as he considered his options. “Hard-head is more like it!” The hero resisted the man’s momentum as long as possible, then pulled aside. Hardhat tumbled forward unexpectedly and lost his footing as Hawk tripped him. Hardhat’s head plowed into the ground hard like an ostrich.

Hawk grabbed some nearby cable and bound Hardhat’s legs tightly. Then he did the same to the man’s arms, bringing both pairs of appendages together behind the mercenary’s back. “Ever been to a rodeo, Hardhat? This is how they take care of stubborn bulls like you!”

One the Demolition Team had Dove cornered. “End of the line, chiquita!” Scoopshovel said as he raised his weapon hand. Before he could strike, he let out a yelp. “Oooh!” Spinning around, he had to look down to see the source of the pain he received in his behind. “Que el infierno?

Before him was a young boy dressed in a red costume with a large, sharp pitchfork weapon in his hand. “Hey, Pooper-scooper! You shouldn’t pick on a girl!” Kid Devil stuck his tongue out to further taunt the man.

“You poca mierda!” Scoopshovel exclaimed as he lunged for the child. Kid Devil activated his pitchfork and rocketed backward just in the nick of time; Scoopshovel pursued. The young hero led the enraged man on a wild chase across the studio lot, keeping well out of the way of the deadly golden weapon.

Dove smiled and decided to go and lend one of her friends a hand.

Rosie the Riveter continued to keep Batgirl on her toes by firing rivets at her. “Ya have ta stop movin’ sooner or later,” the woman stated. “An’ when ya do, you’re a goner!”

“You can’t hit what you can’t see,” Dove said as she leaped onto Rosie’s shoulders. The heroine covered the cigar-chomping woman’s eyes.

“Hey, get off!” Rosie exclaimed. She tried shaking Dove loose but quickly concluded she would have to pry the nuisance off. The woman let go of her rivet gun and reached up with both red-gloved hands. “I said get off! I’m warnin’ ya!” Rosie was a strong woman, giving the heroine a challenge to remain on her perch.

“Whatever you say,” the heroine replied. She broke free of the tight grasp and leaped away just as two gas pellets hit the ground near Rosie’s feet. A cloud of knockout gas rose from them. The woman coughed three times and tried to cover her mouth, but her attempt was all in vain. In a moment, she succumbed to the gas and collapsed on the ground. “Great work, Batgirl,” Dove said.

Batgirl stood with her gloved hands on her hips and stared at the heroine intensely. “Like, I could have totally handled her on my own!” she barked. “I didn’t ask for your help, you know!”

Dove suppressed a smile and thought to herself, Whatever.

Kid Devil sat perched on a large metal box, grinning ear to ear. “About time you caught up, Stuporscoop!” he taunted the approaching villain. “That shovel must slow you down, eh?”

“No, no, bambino, my hydraulic shovel is muy rapido!” the black man boasted. “Fast enough to cut you in dos pedazos!” He raised the blade back and brought it down hard.

“You might have a fast shovel,” the red-garbed boy said as he leaped from the box, “but the rest of you is slow.” When Kid Devil moved from his spot, he revealed a warning sign that said: Danger: High Voltage.

It was too late for Scoopshovel to stop his blade from striking the generator box. “Madre de dios!” The metal shovel blade slashed through the outer casing and connected with the metal conductors inside. Electricity coursed through the shovel, up the villain’s left arm, and completely shorted out the man’s equipment.

“How’s that for shocking?” Kid Devil quipped. Scoopshovel slumped to the ground, his leg still twitching from the shock he received.

The last of the Demolition Team, Jackhammer, was still focused on the primary goal — to demolish as much of the Verner Brothers lot as possible. He continued to tear into the sound stages, unaware of what had been transpiring. “T-t-there ain’t n-n-nothin’ sweeter than the s-s-sound of bustin’ c-c-concrete,” the Texan said to himself. He felt a slight tap on his right shoulder. “W-w-wha–?”

As Jackhammer turned his head around, a red-gloved fist slammed into his jaw. Hawk had knocked the man backward with his haymaker punch. “The union called. Your contract’s expired, bub,” the hero said. “Time to pack it up and call it a day.”

“I d-d-don’t think so,” Jackhammer said. He hoisted his golden tool into the air and charged toward Hawk. The hero backed away, then moved to the side as the man rushed past. “H-h-hold still, so’s I c-c-can k-k-kill ya!” He charged at his target once more.

Suddenly, a green object appeared on the ground in his path. Before he could notice it, Jackhammer’s brown boots hit a banana peel made of emerald energy, and his feet slipped out from under him. The mercenary landed flatly on his back, banging his head on the concrete. The jackhammer weapon slammed him in the stomach. From the air, Arisia called to Hawk. “I hope you didn’t mind my giving you a hand,” she said.

“Not at all,” Hawk replied. He disarmed his unconscious opponent. “Anything to get this all wrapped up quicker is appreciated.”

***

After all the excitement calmed down and the authorities carted the criminals off to jail, Batgirl had an opportunity to slip away and change into her regular clothes once more. She caught up with Hank and Dawn as they were retrieving Charley. “Like, there you all are!” she exclaimed. “Where’d you, like, disappear to?”

“You know how it is with us,” Hank said. “When the danger is over, so is the need for our powers. It’s annoying, but you learn to work around it.” Dawn nodded silently.

“Speaking of, like, annoying, the ring-wielding teen queen totally qualifies,” Betty said as they headed for her car. “And that kid in the devil suit, too. Both of them sort of split right after you all did. Mondo unprofessional.”

“I thought it was nice of them to help us out,” Dawn said. “They both seemed like helpful kids who could use a bit of guidance. They certainly have potential.”

“You would think that.” Betty unlocked the doors. “We would have been fine if it were, like, the four of us.”

Charley Parker ran his hand through his long hair. “Yeah, bummer that I didn’t, like, have my armor with us,” he said as he climbed into the front seat. “But it wasn’t a total waste. I, like, got to hang out with Wayne Tarrant! Got his autograph and a photo and everything! It was way cool.”

Betty started the car. “Well, like, after all that, I can use a shower and such. Why don’t we head back to my place and take a swim?” The others realized that they were in Betty’s hands and that arguing with her was a pointless exercise.

The End

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