A/N: And now for something completely different.
What I can't stand is that nobody ever writes about the HIVE! They rock so much and they deserve more attention. Well, I suppose Jinx has a fair fan following, I have seen her paired up with just about every guy on the show. (and a few of the girls too… and a few OCs…) But it's always just HER. Gizmo and Mammoth are like… universally hated. How many fanfics have I read where Jinx stops being their friend? I know she reforms in the comics but… still.
I still dunno about pairings for this. Maybe R/S hints, maybe BB/R hints. Possibly J/G if no one threatens to kill me for it :P
Title subject to change.
Solo. Totally solo. Not Jinx, Mammoth, and Gizmo… just Jinx.
The little sorceress was under such a misconception. After constantly being looked on upon as "one of the guys" (which wasn't the most fashionable title as you can imagine), the idea of a solo mission was sweet relief. Maybe one day, after HIVE graduation was just an old memory, she could become a real villainess, who worked alone, and was never referred to alongside 'klutzes' like Mammoth and Gizmo… even if they were her friends. Heck, she'd become attached to them over the years, maybe they'd be fit for careers as her henchmen.
She knew talking Mammoth into it wouldn't be too hard, but swaying Gizmo could prove to be a chore. Him agreeing to be anything less than a sidekick was unimaginable. Maybe he'd be his own villain too, and they could agree to be allies - and equals - instead.
Those days, she knew, after graduation, weren't too far off in the horizon - so her obsessive thoughts over the matter weren't just crazy daydreams. A future career as a feared criminal mastermind was a reality drifting ever-closer, one that she knew could very well begin with her first solo mission at hand.
But the problem was, unbeknownst to her, she wasn't that alone after all, not even from the start. As soon as she set foot outside HIVE academy, she was unaware of being stalked from the shadows, a realm that she believed herself to be at home in.
It wasn't a Titan trailing her, but rather one of her own… so in that particular aspect, there wasn't any danger involved.
Believing to be alone, Jinx (and her new shadow) bounded silently over the tops of buildings, alert and undetected. She kept up this procedure for almost half an hour, careful to keep quiet, yet quick on her feet. Not a soul was aware that such a dangerous villain was plodding on their roof. Reaching her destination, she took a quick look around and then jumped to the ground in the alley, silent as ever. A cat was heard scrambling away with a terrified "mrow!" as she landed in a crouch on the cement.
She whipped out her communicator, speaking in a hushed voice. Before infiltrating the little shop, she wanted to get some confirmation from her teammates, who were supposedly back at HIVE HQ. Back at their base, and also back with the monitors. "Jinx to Gizmo… Gizmo? Where are you?"
There was nothing but static on the other end. For a second she was gripped by panic - maybe the HIVE had been invaded as she was away, and the lines all shut down. She seriously considered turning right back around until it occurred to her that the boy genius was probably doing some gadgetry in his room, and whatever he was working on was intercepting the transmission.
Feeling relieved, she flipped a switch on the back.
"Jinx to Mammoth… Jinx to Mammoth…?"
"You there yet?" Came the gruff voice as a response.
"I'm double-checking the coordinates. You picking up anything on the monitor?"
There was a few-second pause on the other end. "Nothing on the radar. Just a few cats. Now get in there already."
She pocketed the handheld device with a satisfied smirk.
"I almost wish this mission could be a little harder," The sorceress murmured to herself, taking a delicate step to the front of the shop. "This is almost too easy."
Not even bothering with the stealthy approach, she raised a gray fist, and the door shattered down with a small pink flash. The inside of the tiny building was revealed to her wandering eyes. There was a small glass table, decorated in fine and intricate cloth, with a crystal ball stationed in the middle. Deep purple drapes crawled across the walls, and the doorway beyond the door was decorated with overhanging beaded string. Halfway through the dark room was a little wooden chair, and seated in it, a shawl-clad old woman with a jeweled turban, fast asleep and threatening to tip over.
Jinx realized, with a chuckle, that not a single alarm went off as she entered.
"Child's play! I'm starting to wonder if this is the right place. Surely an ancient artifact would be housed in a more secure area."
All her tension gone, heels clattering against the floor, Jinx walked further into the room until she stood at waist-level with the glass table. She seized the crystal ball and held it to her ear, shaking it a few times. It was surprisingly light (plastic?), and it definitely didn't house anything.
Her eyes traveled across the room until they reached the lady in the chair. She'd failed to notice it before, but sitting at the woman's feet was a little velvet handbag, and it was bulging with its contents. Surely that must be where she stashed the prized artifact.
Jinx wasted no time in digging through the little bag until her fingers closed on something, only to pull it out and discover she was touching a jar of something gooey and orange.
It took every fragment of her self-control not to squeal with disgust as she gingerly but rapidly set the jar back down.
Frustration abounded. The sorceress planted her hands on her hips, glaring around the room as she tried to think of where her hidden objective might be. Was there a loose floorboard? A cabinet?
Maybe even in that big turban of hers.
In a last desperate resort she carelessly prodded the woman's additional forehead, hoping to feel a mysterious lump or some kind of roughness beneath the cloth. She did, however, manage to provoke a few stirs from the wrinkled old psychic.
Knowing she'd been too reckless, Jinx pulled a deer-in-the-headlights, hoping the woman would just nod back off to deep slumber. But she didn't. Instead, she opened her battered old eyes to a sight that nearly roused a heart attack.
"YOU!" She shrieked in a high, pinched tone, rising from her chair and backing away from the invader. Her nerves settled down a little as she took into account that the intruder was just a thin, doll-faced teenage girl. In scary clothing, still, but… "Who are you and why are you here, child?! What is your business here?!"
"I came to make a purchase." The sorceress announced, her confidence restored. "But there won't be any payment involved. Unless it's you who pays, of course. Because that's exactly what's going to happen if you don't cooperate."
The old psychic grimaced and she glared at her intruder, which piled an additional four wrinkles atop her browline. "A thief! You, a young girl!? My goodness, the cruel influences of society these days!"
Jinx just took an additional step forward, trying to get it across that she indeed meant business.
"Oh, you'll take it from me all right, when you pry it from my lifeless corpse!" The psychic shrieked, waving her arms floppily in the girl's direction, making a defensive cross with her fingers. "But thievery never goes unavenged! Someday very soon, you too will have something taken from you- something nearer and dearer to you than whatever material possessions you've stolen."
"Thanks for the philosophy… I'll log it all away." The sorceress just gave a grim smile, her fingers glowing with that fluorescent pink again. "But right now, you're at my mercy, and are in no position to be threatening me. See that ceiling you've been living under? Well-"
"I've worked here for 48 years, you witch," The tethered lady scorned, shaking her pruny fist although she knew it wouldn't do any good. "The money and tile for that nice overhang you see came out of my own wallet."
"48 years ago, I suppose. It must've looked nice back then - now, though, it looks kind of old… kind of worn down… kind of creaky." Jinx waved her palm dismissively. The pink light was glowing as fierce as ever, but the young sorceress wasn't putting her powers to work yet. "An old ceiling like that, beaten and torn by age… would be some awful rotten luck should it collapse, especially with you still beneath it…"
There was a long silence on the other end. Apparently the woman didn't actually expect a death threat. "…What do you want?" She asked in a feeble voice.
"I think you know what I want. Just how many things in this shack would actually prove valuable?"
The wrinkled psychic winced at these words. She did know, of course. She knew that hidden under the tapestries, deep within the stronghold of her secure little safe, there dwelled an ancient family heirloom with foretold magical abilities. All those seeking power would be drawn to it like a magnet; and finally, a sorceress was responding to that call.
"You must never be able to touch it, mark my words." It came out as a shrill little shriek, because the lady knew that by saying so, she was basically sentencing herself to death.
Jinx looked unphased at these words. The mysterious smile still loomed on her lips, the mischievous twinkle still sparkled in her eye. "Failure to comply with the order of the HIVE… Do you realize what the penalties are for such a charge?" She inquired calmly, her glowing palm still waving in the air. The ceiling above them started to creak, and a few wayward pieces of tile were already falling to the floor. "I'll give you one last chance. Don't try and be the hero, hag - we'll find it no matter what you do, I'm only offering you the opportunity to make our job easier."
"Then I'd rather die." The psychic hissed without hesitance. "Better to die noble than live the rest of my old life in guilt."
"Hmm… devotion. I respect that." Jinx continued to smile, cocking her doll-like head to one side. "Now… get ready for the unluckiest - and probably the last - night of your life."
The wrinkled old psychic shut her eyes, preparing for the impact.
But the impact never came.
"Yow!" The sorceress yipped, lowering her throbbing hand at eye level to examine it. The cut from the birderang was still fresh in her porcelain skin.
Eyes now squinted into slits of rage, she glared at the shadow that had seemingly appeared in the little room. The mysterious figure was lithe and heroic, thanks to the cape that billowed behind it.
"Hey, Jinx. Need a hand?"
The sorceress scowled at the figure as it took a step into the moonlight, revealing it for who he really was. Not that it needed any confirmation, of course.
"The Teen Titans. Or should I say, their esteemed leader." Jinx mused, regaining her calm composure once more. "Where're your friends? You know it's unlucky to go wandering about the streets alone at night..."
"Robin is not alone."
Into the moonlight walked a second form. This one was distinctly female, and the crimson hair that battered about her in the mysterious breeze made her easily identifiable.
"So you brought along the little alien." Jinx purred. "Don't you two make a cute pair."
"We've got this place surrounded." Robin announced, crossing his gloved arms. "I give the signal, and all five of us are taking you down."
"You cannot take us all at once! Not without your very creepy friends." Starfire added merrily.
"How kind of you to notice. This mission, I'm going solo." Jinx nodded, taking one step back from the two titans. The carefree expression she wore never faltered as she moved around, there was not a single air of tension distinguishable about her. "This must be daily routine for you. Once again, you loons are what stand between the HIVE and the victory we deserve. Stand aside or be dealt with. You won't find good fortune in this battle."
She brought her fist down in one sudden, swift movement. A powerful gust of wind burst through the doors, scattering papers every which way and bringing the curtains of the little psychic shop to whip around the titans mercilessly. Jinx was lost in the indoor hurricane, for it was near impossible to see anything in the mess.
"Robin!" Star squeaked, using her green fists to create a small invisible barrier around her. The papers and debris just whipped against the little force-field, so she still couldn't see. "Where are you?!"
Nothing could be heard but the howl of the wind as the two titans stumbled about blindly in the mess, crashing into one another on occasion. Coordination was thrown into a new depth as they tried to make heads or tails of what was going on.
"Star, is that you?!" Robin had to yell as he backed against something. He turned around and squinted. It was his Tamaranean friend, all right. She looked as lost and confused as he did.
"Robin! We must find Jinx! She may have already gotten away!" She cried in urgency.
"First we need to stop this hurricane! I'll call the others!"
Parked outside the little shop, Cyborg, Beast Boy and Raven heard the communicators on their costumes start to beep. The signal had been given; they rushed into the fray.
"Azarath metrion ZINTHOS!"
It was like time had stopped. Every paper and every stray ceiling tile and every miscellaneous rock had frozen in mid-air, each glowing with a strange black aura. Teen Titans glanced around the room. The old psychic was cowering in the corner, but Jinx was nowhere in sight.
The room looked like it had been ransacked - chairs were overturned, the legs of the table had given way and tapestries were thrown about. Halfway through the room, near the floor of the eastward wall, the hinge steel door or a small safe was hanging astray.
"She took it." The old woman sobbed into her gnarled hands. "That sorceress… She escaped with it."
Robin approached her cautiously. "Escaped with what?"
But the psychic's eyes were now caught on something else. She jabbed a pointed finger at the night sky outside, where a feminine silhouette was surveying the scene from high atop a nearby building.
"We can still catch her!" Cyborg growled.
"Titans, go!" The boy wonder leapt into action, and his friends followed suite.
Jinx watched them approaching from her safe perch above. The thrill of chase was one last thing she wanted to experience tonight, on her solo mission - the solo mission that she knew would get her endless appraisal from the headmasters of HIVE Academy themselves.
"An indoor hurricane - how about that - and now, your villain has escaped with the spoils. It's just not your lucky day." She murmured, mostly to herself, bursting with excitement as she watched them draw ever nearer. A green eagle was already making its ascent to the top of the building, and every second more of the gap was closed.
Time to go.
With the grace and expertise of a deer, Jinx leapt from her spot atop the building, landing in a crouch on the next. She broke into a run until it was time for the next jump.
A noble screech sounded from above her. Eagle-boy. She must've underestimated his speed. But no matter.
She stopped on a dime, staring up at the changeling, who went hurling past her with his momentum.
"Pretty bird… Polly wanna cracker?"
Her fists were smothered in a pink flame as little round sparks of the same color went hurling through the air at her opponent. They caught the shapeshifter off guard, and he went plummeting groundwards with a little explosion of green feathers on impact.
"WAAAAAAAAH!" Cried the human voice, and then a metallic-sounding WHUMP, no doubt resulting from an uncushioned fall in a trash can.
"That'll take care of him for a while."
But there was still the issue of the others. Robin, supported by Raven, and Cyborg, supported by Starfire (her superstrength was necessary in his case), were making their way to her at gradually building speeds. The Tamaranean had energy-projectiles of her own. With her free hand, she shot her trademark green light-missiles - Starbolts - hurling towards the foe.
Jinx was able to dodge them, but a good number of the Starbolts just narrowly avoided her slim frame.
Cyborg was next to coordinate his attack. His arm took a serious turn for the deadly, transforming itself into his trademark sonic cannon. A thick blue laser came pulsating through the air, but not quick enough to hit its target, instead wearing a thick hole in somebody's roof. ("Oh, dang! I hope they don't charge us for that.")
Robin leaped off of the floating black platform Raven had created with her powers, doing a somersault in midair and landing on the building beneath him. Immediately his friends passed him up, for they were now traveling at high speeds.
He knew he'd have to be fast.
The boy wonder raised his grappling hook, taking careful aim. He tightened his hold on the trigger, and away went the hook. Direct hit.
As the hook retracted, he was hurled through the air towards it at freakishly high speeds, passing his friends up in a matter of seconds. He landed on his feet on the faraway building. A skillfully-chosen faraway building at that. Upon landing, Jinx nearly ran into him. Eyes wide, she tried to evade (or at least blast him out of the way)… and she was fast, but he was faster, delivering a swift kick that pinned her to the ground as he stood over her with his pole readied.
"Looks like your luck's run out." He commented, keeping his weapon out where she could see it. "Hand it over, Jinx."
"Or what, your highness?" She demanded with a smirk.
The roar of a great feline brought her out of her cockiness. With one mighty leap, a big green cheetah landed on the little building where they stood, inches away from Jinx, caging her between him and Robin.
The cheetah shifted back into a human form, and on its face was the smirk that had escaped from the sorceress.
"Hope you didn't forget about me, baby." Mused the green one, crossing his arms in that we-have-won way he'd inherited from Robin.
Jinx just lay there, an unreadable expression on her face. Not a word passed through her lips. She knew when she was outnumbered, and she didn't dare try and resist under Robin's watchful eagle-eye.
The other three Titans landed nearby. Cyborg punched his fist in the air as he surveyed the scene ("Boo-ya! Think we got her.") and Starfire was quick to enthuse as well ("Most glorious!").
Raven just stood there, her perpetually bored, half-lidded gaze focused on Jinx.
"Did… we win?"
"It seems that way, friend!" Star smiled. She made her way over to the stunned sorceress, the innocence on her face resilient.
"This is what happens when you do things alone!" She giggled. "If you have friends that are willing to cover for you, you should bring them along! Are you and your creepy friends Gizmo and Mammoth 'tight'? Do you do the hanging out?"
Jinx felt herself tense up in extreme annoyance. Robin shot the alien one of his exclusive gazes, reserved only for her. (It said: Star, uh, that's enough.) Wordlessly, he took out some handcuffs from a mysterious pocket in his costume and advanced on the sorceress with them.
"Raven, get that weird artifact away from her. She stole it from the psychic."
The sullen cloaked girl closed her eyes in unspoken agreement. She raised her pale lavender hands, which started to glow with otherworldly black energy. "Azarath… Metrion…Z-"
Two twin smoke bombs erupted out of nowhere, both littering the ground around Raven, who fell backwards a couple steps in, well, surprise. Her concentration was broken. A nearby street lamp exploded as a result.
The Titans all glanced skywards in alarm, squinting their eyes against the fumes of heavy smoke, searching for the source of the voice.
"Dude… What just happened?" Beast Boy coughed, waving a few wisps away from his face. His eyes traveled down from the sky and in the direction of the ruined streetlamp, even if he couldn't actually see it through the fog.
"My powers did that." Raven replied coolly, but one could still detect a tinge of anxiety in her words. "As for the voice… I think we're being ambushed."
Starfire clutched both hands to her chest. "Oh no! …But by whom?"
Jinx knew. Cyborg had a feeling, too. He'd forever have that voice implanted into his systems.
Something in Beast Boy's mind clicked. "It kinda sounded like…"
The smoke in the air finally thinned out a bit, allowing the Titans a better look around.
"Jinx!" Robin shouted, interrupting his friend's thoughts.
Beast Boy shook his head skeptically. "She's right here with us. It couldn't have been her…"
"No! She's gone!"
Raven rolled her eyes. "And none of us saw this coming because…?"
"Never mind! We need to track her down again! Titans, split up!"
Instantly, the team segregated. Starfire could be seen taking flight to the East. Raven headed off, wordlessly, in the opposite direction, floating in midair, long blue cape trailing behind her like the wings of a giant bat. Cyborg, never one for stealth, stomped off in the North route, readily armed and alert, and Beast Boy, in the guise of a tiger, took to the South.
Jinx watched them go their separate ways. In reality, she had not moved more than ten feet from her spot on the building. She was sitting in a squat on the ground below, absolutely silent, thankfully hidden by the thick bushes.
Beside her sat Gizmo, and despite what he'd just done for her, it took every ounce of willpower in her being not to strangle him.
"You think I should've used more smoke bombs?" He asked in a whispered hush, oblivious to the glare of death that was being thrown in his direction.
"You know what I think?" She hissed. "I think you should've stayed at base. What were you thinking, you little dorkhole!?"
"I just saved your ungrateful butt! And in the process, saved myself from the blame I would've gotten had you screwed up on your first mission without me." He smirked.
"Oh, that's real clever…" She hissed between clenched teeth, trying to remain calm, but righteously failing. "Only I wasn't being sarcastic."
His smirk faded, obviously peeved at her lack of appreciation. "What's your problem, Jinx!?"
"I think the real matter at hand is YOUR problem, because you obviously must have one if you don't think I can fare for myself."
"That explains why the Titans had you cornered back there?"
She flushed with anger. "I had it all under control."
"Hmm, I could see that." He started fiddling with the buttons on his master control. "You know, I've been following you ever since you left the HIVE. I saw everything you were doing - your diversionary tactics were out-of-style and if you call that thing you were doing back at the crackpot house stealth mode I'll eat Mammoth. I was watching you the whole time and you didn't even know I was there! And ignorant chuckleheads aren't the ones that deserve solo missions."
"Wha-" Her eyes widened in surprise, momentarily making her forget her anger. "You mean… HIVE sent you to follow me?!"
"Well… not exactly." And then she wished with all her might she could wipe that devious smirk off his face and stomp it into the mud. "I came on my own. But when the head honchos hear about this it won't matter whether or not I was supposed to trail you!"
Four mechanical spider-legs sprouted from the tech on his back, lifting him above the bushes.
"Better get back to HIVE, Jinxie." He mused in that conceited tone. Then, strangely enough, he lowered his voice to a whisper. "I'll be the diversion while you get that Ore back to Headquarters safely."
"I don't need a diversion," She rose to her feet, clutching the artifact between her gray palms. "The Titans split up already."
"You saw hood-geek, tin man, stink boy and star-fart split up. Ever wonder what happened to birdman?"
Jinx followed his gaze to the midsection of a nearby skyscraper. She couldn't see anything, but she knew Gizmo probably did through his special goggles.
"The pitsniffer's probably already seen you, but he'll have no choice but to go after me if I start terrorizing the innocents." He grinned with obnoxious glee. "So don't wreck anything, because he has to know for sure which one of us he has to go after."
She raised a brow, surprised at his insight, but otherwise kept it silent.
Without another word, she skulked off into the night, keeping her head bowed as she ran through the Jump City streets. Behind her, she heard a shrill car alarm, and then the sound of glass shattering. A couple's scream of realization. A young genius's maniacal laughter.
She knew he hadn't killed them. They probably hadn't even been in the car. And she knew this because there was some kind of unspoken agreement between the HIVE's top trio to commit their villainy without resorting to murder. Unless, of course, it was in the case of their enemies.
Focusing back on the path ahead of her, she evaded a lamppost and kept on running.
The little sorceress ran to her lungs' extent, not bothering to glance back over her shoulder. She ran straight in one direction, not caring to weave a tricky path like she usually used to do. They'd come dangerously close to catching her; it wasn't an experience she would've liked to relive.
Good thing Gizmo had tagged along. She should've been thankful for that… but she wasn't. She was furious.
"I told them I was doing this one solo. But I guess I never got the message across!"
A car had the misfortune to cruise by in her way. With a flash of pink energy she sent it spiraling away on the dark road, the driver screaming in submission. Gizmo's order to avoid 'vandalism' had apparently been forgotten.
"Those goggles of his must be on too tight. Must be cutting off the circulation to his brain. What part of solo is missing from his outrageous vocabulary?"
The secret HIVE academy HQ was no more than a mile away, at most. Easily ten minutes' run if she was quick, and avoided any further interruptions.
At least the blundering Titans were behind her. And the artifact was still tucked safely under her arm. The academy would be thrilled.
And in spite of recent events, that was a definite plus. Because after failing to destroy the Teen Titans for Slade's final exam, she was subjected to another full year of training. So much for graduation.