Disclaimer: Don't own and never will.
"Are you serious?"
Alejandra looked up nervously at her cousin Calista and nodded. Calista rolled her eyes.
"Why would you need to learn how to fight?" she asked. "Who would bother a little girl like you?"
Alejandra scowled at her cousin.
"I'm not a little girl anymore! Why won't everyone stop treating me like one?" she protested and Calista chuckled.
"Your mama seems to think otherwise," she said with a chuckle, ruffling her hair. Alejandra scowled.
"Los Muertos were happy enough to steal my money. They didn't leave me alone!" Alejandra protested and Calista shook her head.
"You're too small fry for them to do any worse," she said and Alejandra let out a growl of frustration, before storming away. Calista raised an eyebrow and sighed. Her little cousin was such a drama queen.
Alejandra continued to storm away, walking into the delivery yard and sighed. She could hardly tell her cousin her real reason for wanting to learn how to fight. And she was right. Alejandra was too small fry for them to bother and often too fast. And Los Muertos rarely bothered locals too badly.
She idly considered her options.
She could try learning moves from the holovids of Los Protectores, but they were superhumans with the luxury of time. And teachers. She really needed a teacher.
There were the gangs as well. Los Muertos had more than a few fighters in their ranks and there were other local street gangs. They got into fights often enough. Surely they had some experience that she could learn from?
She shook her head.
The gangs were criminals whose training was just as often learning on the job as anything else. And they were the same criminales that her mother had warned her time and again to stay away from. Once they had their garras in you, they never let go.
And besides, Señor 76 would be disappointed in her.
Somehow, that was worse.
There had to be something she could do. Anything.
"What's the real reason you want to learn how to fight, Frito pequeño?" her cousin asked and Alejandra whipped her head around sharply.
"I told you, I-"
"Don't tell me that mierda frito pequeño!" Calista said with some annoyance. "You aren't fooling anyone."
Alejandra looked away and Calista sighed.
"Are you in some kind of trouble niña?" Calista pressed, her face getting close to Alejandra "You shouldn't have to be afraid to tell me if something is bothering you, or your parents if you can't tell me." Calista hit her chest. "I can protect you, but only if you let me."
"I'm not in trouble," she mumbled and Calista grabbed her shoulders. "Then what is it? Tell me!"
"I want to learn how to be a héroe!" she said quickly, before looking away embarrassed.
"A héroe?" Calista asked with a puzzled look. Alejandra nodded.
"Si, si. Like those heroes in the old stories mamá used to tell me when I was younger. Like the Overwatch."
Calista snorted and Alejandra frowned.
"You want to go and play games with your friends niñita?" she said mockingly and Alejandra glared.
"I'm serious!" she said with some annoyance as she glared at her cousin. Calista looked at her and frowned.
"What's your real reason?" she asked and Alejandra growled.
"That IS my real reason!" she said and Calista shook her head.
"Mierda! You stopped caring about them years ago," Calista said, leaning back and folding her arms with a frown. "You're not fooling anyone. What's your real reason?"
Alejandra glared at her cousin, who simply sighed.
"This isn't some children's game niñita. People get killed in gangs. They aren't heroes, they're just different shades of bad."
"Señor 76 isn't a bad guy!" Alejandra shot back. "He saved me and I want to be a héroe like him!"
"You wouldn't have needed saving if he hadn't been fighting Los Muertos in the first place!" Calista snapped back. "It's thanks to him that you ended up in the middle of a war zone!"
"Los Muertos are turning these streets into a war zone! You think that any of them would have saved me?"
"That's besides the point! He-"
"He's done a lot of good in this neighbourhood. Los Muertos and their influence have dropped and it's safer and I want to be a protector like him, not caught up in some corrupt beaucratic mess! You've said it yourself. You're sick of catching small fry and seeing the bigger fish go free because of corruption."
"And how long until you become as corrupt as los Autodefensas groups of twenty-twelve and twenty-thirteen?" Calista asked and Alejandra frowned.
"I would never become like them!" she said angrily and Calista gently touched her arm.
"They probably said that as well when they started," she said. "Alejandra, your intentions mean well, but the system exists for a reason."
"A system that doesn't work," Alejandra said sullenly and Calista smiled sadly.
"Not perfectly, no," she said. "But it works better than the alternative. Vigilante justice catches innocents in it's path without caring. People have been killed by clashes between the Autodefensas and the cartels. You were almost killed by a clash between your hero and Los Muertos. This is not a path that you want to go. If you want to protect people, consider going for Policía Federal, or Fuerzas Armadas de México. They may not be perfect, but they're a good place to start. Or maybe even Helix Security International. Then you could help protect people across the world."
"Helix are a private company. They take experienced soldiers, not inexperienced teenagers," Alejandra said, looking away. "And we all know that they are just as corrupt as the rest of the government, paying out bribes for big government contracts."
"But they do a lot of good as well," Calista gently pointed out. "They stopped the god-programme Anubis when it escaped. They're involved with peacekeeping missions across the world. Spend a few years in Fuerzas Armadas de México, do well and you'll be able to join them." Calista looked grimly out of the window. "There'll be plenty of opportunities for you to prove yourself soon enough."
"Is there another war coming?" she asked and Calista shook her head.
"Maybe. I hope not," she said, before smiling. "Promise me you won't do anything stupid?"
Alejandra nodded her head and Calista smiled.
"Good. I will see you later," she said, turning to leave.
"Calista?" Alejandra asked tentatively and Calista looked curiously at Alejandra. "What do you suppose will happen if a new war between the Omnics and humans starts?"
"Then I'm sure that new heroes will rise, just like Los Protectores did," she said with a smile before leaving.
Alejandra sat for a moment in deep thought. Her cousin might be happy to hope for the best, but it sounded like heroes would be needed once more.
And when the time came, she was going to be ready.
AN: Vigilante groups, known as Grupos de Autodefensas (self-defenders groups) or Policía Comunitaria (Community Police) or "Policía Popular" (People's Police) arose in the Gulf of Mexico and South Mexico regions between 2012 and 2013. A new cartel arose from these groups (not all. Some disbanded at the behest of the Mexican Government) known as "Los Viagras".
Fuerzas Armadas de México=Mexican armed forces
Policía Federal=Mexico's Federal Police Force
Frito pequeño=small fry