Titans West: Something Like a Team-Up, Chapter 1: The Tiger’s Heart

by Martin Maenza and Tynnechris

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Betty Kane flicked off the large-screen television in disgust. “Ugh, I so can’t believe the reporters around here,” she huffed as she bounced the remote off the sectional couch seat. “They, like, took what happened this afternoon at the Verner Brothers Studio and, like, totally blew it out of proportion! Typical press in this town!”

Hank Hall grabbed a few chips from the bowl on the glass top coffee table. “How so? I thought it was good coverage of our battle with the Demolition Team.”

“Yeah, but, like, then they go and start speculating about the Titans West,” Betty explained. “Saying that, like, we’re taking in new members, assuming that devil kid and the female Green Lantern were part of our team.”

Our team? So, Betty, are you, like, going to move up to San Francisco to hang with us?” Charley Parker asked as he put his beer down on a marble coaster.

“Um, like, I don’t know yet. But that’s not the point. The point is that female Green Lantern just, like, dropped right in and acted like it was her gig! That’s just so totally pushy.”

Dawn Granger, who had just returned to the room, interjected, “Well, that is what you thought of me when we first met, right?”

Betty started to fidget in her seat. “Well, um…” She took a sip of her gin and tonic.

Hank said, “Dawn, that’s not fair. Betty hasn’t said anything like that all weekend.”

“True,” Dawn admitted, “but I wasn’t referring to this weekend. I was referring to when she and I met for the first time, a few months back.”

What?!” Hank and Charley asked at the same time.

Betty put down her drink. “OK, like, since Dawn brought it up and everything, let me tell the story.” The guys settled in to hear the tale.

***

OK, so it was, like, a few months back, like two or three, when this all happened. I found myself late one night trying to foil like a museum-robbery against a costumed super-villain, the first I’d fought in a few years.

Until earlier this year, I hadn’t, like, put on a costume since my Aunt Kathy was killed. I guess I was a little shaken for a while after all that happened. Probably just being over cautious, you know? With so many criminals, like, running amok during the aftermath of the red sky days and with the Batgirl name totally up for grabs again, I, like, decided it was time to come out of retirement. I even had a new costume to go with my new adventuring — the one I wore today.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was, like, tracking this woman who had actually tangled with the other Batgirl once before; she called herself the Velvet Tiger and wore, like, a striped costume with white fur trim. Not a bad look, really. She had, like, this reputation as a pretty good thief. Little did I know at the time that there was, like, more to her than met the eye. We ended up learning that the hard way.

I was in New York City for, like, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics, and I heard a rumor that the Velvet Tiger had, like, rolled into town, too. I remembered reading something in the morning papers, so thought I knew what she was after. The Museum of Natural History had, like, this special edition to its South Africa display — the Tiger’s Heart sapphire? Yeah, yeah, I have a, like, thing for foiling costumed jewel thieves; sue me — it’s what I was trained on!

Sure enough, the Velvet Tiger made a flamboyant grab to get it. I was ready for her and waited until she was just ready to bust into the display. “Stop right there, Tiger!” Like I really expected her to listen to that.

“Batgirl!” she exclaimed. “A blonde Batgirl? You get a bleach job or something?”

Some women just have to go and get catty, you know. “You’re facing a Batgirl of a different color now — the original one!” I reached for a batarang and let it fly.

Now, here’s the part where it started to, like, get a bit weird. One second, the Velvet Tiger was, like, about to get nailed by my batarang, and the next second she was totally gone! I mean, like, literally not in the same spot anymore, and I didn’t even see her move!

That’s when I noticed the glass on the floor from the busted display case, the one that had been intact a second ago. “Oh, my God! Like, what happened?” I was starting to wonder if I’d blacked out, you know? But then, how could I have seen my batarang clatter to the floor? There was something freaky going on here.

Then I felt this kick to my back, but not a very good one. I was able to, like, roll with it easy enough. Turning around, there was the Velvet Tiger with the sapphire in her hands. “How’d you, like, do that?”

A smile crossed her face. “That’s for me to know and for you to find out, Batgirl!” she taunted me. She almost sounded like a kid on the playground. I half-expected her to, like, add a, “Nyah nyah nyah-nyah nyaaah.” She tried to attack me again, but her attack was, like, totally lame.

I managed to dodge it easy enough, all the while grabbing a rope from my utility belt. Like, I figured I’d have this case all wrapped up in no time flat. Then, something totally weird happened again — I suddenly found myself, like, tied up by my own rope! “What’s going on here?”

The Velvet Tiger stood before me smugly laughing. “You’re out of your league, Batgirl!” she said. “You don’t have a chance stopping someone as gifted as myself.”

“Maybe I can lend a hand,” came a female voice from across the room.

Both the Velvet Tiger and I turned, and we realized that another costumed figure had, like, joined the party. Now, I’d been keeping up with current events and all, you know, but seeing the costume the woman wore startled me a bit. There was this, like, woman wearing the familiar blue and white of my old friend Dove! At the time, I didn’t know she was Dawn, here.

***

“Time out!” Hank said, interrupting the story. “Betty, are you saying that you and Dawn worked together on a case before? Why didn’t you tell me about that? If I had known that she was out there, I wouldn’t have been so surprised when I encountered her in San Francisco last month!”

Chill, Hank,” Betty replied. “It was, like, only a few months back or so, and I, like, really hadn’t had a chance to talk with you or anything since it happened. It’s not like I knew where you were exactly at the time, and then I sort of forgot about it when other stuff came up, you know? Sorry.”

“I was working with the Titans in New York back around the beginning of the year,” the brown-haired male said, “or at least for that mission in Greece. I really didn’t stick around the Titans Tower for too long after that.”

“That sounds about right,” Dawn said. “I remember hearing about you working with the Titans, so that was why I had been hanging around New York City as well. I had hoped to run into you there so that we could talk. Turns out shortly after this whole incident, I heard about your appearance in the Midwest, so I realized you had moved on. We must have just missed each other.”

“Whoa, talk about your ships passing in the night,” Charley said.

Betty put down her gin and tonic. “OK, can I please get back to my story?” The others nodded, so she continued.

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