Once again, the plotbunnies have spoken. As much as I loved the episode Date With Destiny (best episode of the series so far, imo), many of the scenes felt a little too rushed, as if the writers were pressed for time. It could easily have turned into an hour-long episode. And since I did a scene-rewrite for Sisters…why not do another one?
This goes out to all my buddies over on the Robin and Starfire Shrine.
The attack came all too suddenly, leaving behind nothing but scraps of floating debris in a matter of seconds. Not that she noticed, however; just moments after Koriand'r managed to haul her diminutive figure into the one-man escape pod, exhaustion finally overcame her. She slipped into a peaceful slumber, welcoming the only way she had to escape reality. It was the automatic self-launching unit that shut the pod hatch, propelling her into the vast regions of space.
Seconds later, the Psion ship was caught in a fantastic explosion.
At the time, were someone to look through the hatch window, they'd never be able to suspect her previous royal heritage. Cuts and bruises ran over nearly every inch of her skin, which held a telltale pale-orange hue. Unmistakably Tameranian. Her auburn hair was long and frazzled from not having been tended to in days. The clothes she wore were her only material possession, consiting of little more than strips of blood-stained, rough cloth wrapped around her chest and upper torso, held by a single strap over her left shoulder, as well as a matching mini-skirt and ankle bands.
But there was no one to see her. She was the sole survivor of the brutal attack without ever knowing it had occurred. Not even the pirates who had fired upon them stuck around long enough to notice.
They were primitive creatures, drifting around the cosmos in search of little more than amusement and necessary provisions. Life meant nothing to them. Yet, ironically enough, they may very well have saved Koriand'r's by providing the one and only opportunity to escape. Her body was worn from physical abuse, and her spirit, nearly broken. She had been the favorite amongst her captors, who delighted in her youthful looks and child-like naiveté.
Now, she wished nothing more than to return home. Home to her mother and father. Home to her planet. Home to Tameran.
What she didn't know was that the sheer force of the blast had knocked her navigation system off-course. The tiny ship wasn't heading back to Vega, as she'd programmed it to. It was thrown into the direct path of a more primitive galaxy, one light-years away from everything she held near and dear.
The Milky Way.
"What is it?"
"Not sure. Definitely not from this planet, I can tell you that much."
"Dude, I think we got that message when it fell from the sky."
The call had come in at around eleven o'clock that morning. According to the Jump City officials, some unidentified object had crashed into a large field just outside the populated area. Fearing a supervillain (or possibly extraterrestrial) attack, they called upon the local teenage superheroes for backup.
Currently, the four of them stood on the outer edges of a relatively small crater, approximately twenty feet in diameter. A metallic pod lay in the center, originally smoking from the heat friction but cooled off considerably since. The concept of interplanetary visitors wasn't exactly unfamiliar territory with them—half the Justice League came from different planets—but this was the first time any of them had personally encountered such a situation.
"Raven, can you get a mental reading on it?" Robin turned to the sole female member of the team, at an otherwise loss at what to do. "Scan for signs of life? Anything?"
The lavender-haired beauty's eyes glowed an eerie black for a moment before she nodded in confirmation. "There's definitely something inside…but whatever it is, its unconscious. Nothing to indicate hostility, though I can't be certain."
Taking that as his cue, Robin climbed over the edge and began a cautious decent into the heart of the crater. Cyborg and Beast Boy immediately followed, while Raven telekinetically floated herself down. It wasn't until they reached the pod that Robin noticed the small window. Flying dust and debris had scratched the surface beyond repair, though he was just able to make out the humanoid figure inside.
"There's somebody in there!" he called to the others. "Cyborg, can you get it open?"
"Already on it."
Within seconds, the robotic teen found what appeared to be the hatch opening and ripped it apart. Galactic dust flew into the air as it sprung open, causing Beast Boy to erupt into a fit of coughing and temporarily obscuring everyone's view. No sooner did it clear, than they heard a low moan emit from the cockpit. Four pairs of eyes peered inside, simultaneously widening in horror as they caught a glimpse of the young girl's condition.
"Is she…alive?" Beast Boy asked weakly, recoiling slightly.
Robin moved to check for signs of life before realizing he had no clue what to check for. A second later, he received confirmation in the form of another low moan as she unconsciously turned her head.
"She's alive, but badly injured." He stated the obvious, moving to gently lift her into his arms. "We need to get her back to the tower. Now."
"…what was that last part again?"
Only a few short years had passed since Robin first broke away from his mentor and took up the role as team leader of the Titans. In that time, he'd met some bizarre villains—more bizarre than anything he'd ever dealt with Batman in the past. Everything from technology-packed Sci Fi geeks, to ooze monsters, to real life horror film stars (if the attack of Raven's powers counted) had seen fir to grace him with their presence at one point or another.
But this? This was definitely a first.
"Hi, Robbie-poo!" An image of a sixteen-year old blonde popped up in the upper right hand corner of the screen, waving madly at him and smirking. The screeching tone of her voice, alone, was enough to leave Robin grinding his teeth.
"Robin, who is this girl…and why does she call you 'poo'?" Starfire's voice ran out behind him, innocent yet accusing at the same time. He visibly winced, painfully aware that she was staring at him acutely.
I wonder if he ever had days like this.
"'This girl' had a name, hun," stated the vigorous teenager, as if it should've been obvious to everyone present. "Name's Kitten. Meow!" she added for emphases.
Though she found the situation stranger than usual, Starfire's curiosity once again got the better of her. She cautiously floated up until she was eye-level with Kitten and asked, "This 'prom' you speak of…is some sort of duel, perhaps?"
Kitten stared incredulously at the alien girl for a few seconds before bursting into a fit of obnoxious laughter.
Starfire tilted her head to one side, confused. "I am sorry. Did I say something humorous?"
"It's not a duel, Star," Robin called up to her reluctantly, "It's a date."
"Oh…" She seemed to be taking in this new piece of information for a moment before turning back to Kitten, who had already calmed down. "But why would you wish Robin to take you to a piece of fruit?"
In spite of the circumstances, Robin had to stifle a bout of laughter at Kitten's expression. Obviously annoyed, the blonde smacked her forehead before glaring. "Not that kind of date, you idiot. The other kind!"
Starfire's eyes narrowed considerably. Her English was well enough to know that she'd just been insulted, and Kitten's tone wasn't any better. "Listen here, you klebnorg undarnook," her fists clenched in anger, "I do not know who you are, or what is it you are asking of Robin, but I will not allow you to—" any further words were immediately silenced as Robin grabbed her by the wrist, hastily pulling the fiery red head into the hallway.
"Excuse us for a moment." He called to Killer Mother and Kitten over his shoulder.
Once they were out of the monitor's view, Robin halted in his steps and turned to face the young Tameranian. Her eyes considerably softened as they met with his, though it was easy to tell she was still considerably upset. Without a word, he guided her with one hand so that Starfire stood directly in front of him.
"I do not like this, Robin." She spoke quietly. "She is very mean, and I still do understand what is meant by 'the other kind of date.' Is there another kind?"
There was a pause as Robin fought an internal battle. On the one hand, he had promised Starfire long ago to teach her any of Earth's customs that she asked. He hated breaking promises. But on the other hand, the current situation was hard enough already…and he knew things would only be worse if she knew.
Still…looking up to find himself staring straight into her eyes, he knew he couldn't lie to her.
Heaving a sigh, Robin wracked his mind for a way to explain. "A date is something where two people go off together someplace. It could be to the movies, or a restaurant for dinner, or the park…" he paused to think. "Anywhere they can spend time together."
"But is that not what we do?" She questioned further, desperately trying to fathom what he was telling her.
A smile found its way onto Robin's face. He'd never admit it to himself, let alone anyone else, but it wasexactly what they did. "Sort of. Only this kind of spending time together is more…" he tried to think of a word she would be more familiar with. "…special."
"Oh." It took Starfire a moment before her eyes suddenly widened in recognition. "Oh! But, Robin," she began, her voice almost quivering with sudden worry. "Does that mean…"
"No." He snapped, more harsh than intended. Noticing her increasing frustration, he continued on, "Prom is basically a large dance for High School kids where everybody is dressed up in fancy outfits and brings someone special, making it a 'date'. Most think of it as an important part in every person's life. A milestone."
"Milestone?" She repeated.
"Something worth remembering, more or less." He waited for her to absorb this before continuing. "But sometimes, people can be forced to go to these things with someone else, whether they like it or not. Usually because someone threatens to tell an important secret or cause harm in some way."
"Or threaten to devastate the city with giant moth-like creatures."
"Well, that's what we'd call a bit extreme, but yeah."
The Tameranian nodded wordlessly, signaling that she understood as much as possible. But internally, she wasn't sure if this information comforted or concerned her further. Such things did not exist on her planet, and though she wasn't entirely unfamiliar with the concept of "blackmail," she still didn't quite comprehend how it worked.
Tilting her head downward, Starfire's eyes fell upon their clasped hands. Neither had moved to break the hold, and Robin was even subconsciously rubbing his thumb over her knuckles in comfort. It was a subtle gesture, yet one she greatly appreciated. Robin always knew how to make her feel better, even slightly, and it never ceased to amaze her just how well her tiny hand fit in his. How right his touch felt.
She smiled weakly at the sight, until he abruptly pulled his hand away. Looking up in surprise, she saw him move to lean against the adjacent wall. He reached into one of his utility belt's many compartments and pulled out his Titans Communicator: "How's it looking, guys?"
"Not good, man." Cyborg's voice came though the tiny speakers. "There's just too many. I don't know how much longer we can hold 'em off." The sound of dozens of buzzing moths, accompanied by Raven and Beast Boy's shouts, confirmed his statement.
There was a pause, then, "All right. Keep me posted; I'll see what I can do. Robin out." Tucking the small object back into its compartment, Robin closed his eyes and let out an audible sigh. He repeatedly banged his head against the wall in frustration.
Having said nothing up until that point, Starfire floated over to where her closest friend and team leader continued the abuse to his skull. He looked defeated, frustrated, and annoyed all in one. Were it not for the circumstances that led him to feel that way, she may have giggled at his current condition: face flushed…hair messier than usual…acting so uncharacteristically childish. Times like those, she was reminded that in spite of his position as leader of a group of heroes, he was still only a teenage boy. Still only human.
It was one of the things she loved most about him.
"I've got to do it." Robin announced suddenly.
"But…but…" she'd known it was coming, though hearing him bluntly say so aloud was still a bit surprising.
"I have to, Starfire. The others can't hold out much longer." He ceased the poundings and opened his eyes, turning his head to look at her. His expression softened at her troubled expression. "Hey, it'll be all right. It's just one event. No big deal."
She forced herself to smile. For him.
Robin kicked himself upright and headed back towards the room. "I have to do it, Star. Even if I don't want to." He restated, more to himself than her. But as Kitten came into his line of sight, he took on an exasperated look and mumbled under his breath, just loud enough for Starfire to hear: "…and I really…don't want to."
"I'll take the girl to prom."
"Don't tell me," Killer Moth replied, slightly miffed at having been ignored for so long. He motioned towards Kitten. "Ask her."
Robin's shoulders slumped in disbelief. "You've gotta be—"
"Do it! Or else…"
Through his peripheral vision, Robin caught a glimpse of Starfire hovering near the doorway, silently listening in. He muttered a few choice words under his breath before looking up. "Kitten, was it?"
"Mrow!" She answered, waving her hand like a paw for effect.
Robin felt his left eye twitch slightly, but gritted his teeth. His next few words came out extremely forced: "Will you…go with me to the prom?" He saw Starfire noticeably flinch at the question, wishing he could do something about it.
"Oh, Robbie-poo! I thought you'd never ask!"
Miles away, the thousands of mutated moths abruptly flew off mid-attack, leaving behind three very confused Titans. Pausing to register what it was that just happened, they quickly regrouped in time to hear the Communicator's familiar tune ring out.
"I managed to buy you guys some time." It was Robin. "Spread out, try to find Killer Moth's hideout." A still image of Kitten appeared on the screen. "Start with this girl."
"Who is she?" Raven asked, peering over Cyborg's shoulder. She briefly noticed Starfire hovering in the background, looking upset, but said nothing of it.
"Name's Kitten. She's got some kind of connection to Killer Moth. Find the connection and you'll find him."
"What about you?" Beast Boy chimed in. "Aren't you gonna help us?"
At this, Robin looked down. "I can't." He explained, sounding less than happy about the situation. "I have a date."
TO BE CONTINUED...