The Cutting Edge

Writer's Note: Sometimes you start out to write a neat story…and suddenly you have something more complicated then rocket science. This may be the case with my timeline of Teen Titans fanfics, which not only encompasses my work but several others. So, to help people, this is the timeline.

Teen Titans Season 1 (and possibly 1 or 2 episodes of Season 2)

Black and White

Wings of the Eagles (which includes my separate stories Time and Time Again, White and Black, the author Bobcat's Epic of Gauntlet, and several altered episodes of Season 2, altered due to various original characters having joined. Got all that?)

Flashing Lights and Sounds (written by the author Jedi-And)

This story takes place after Flashing Lights and Sounds, and as a result several years have passed since Teen Titans began, hence putting all the Titans in early adulthood age (they're probably on the verge of dropping the Teen part of the name and just calling themselves the Titans). If you've never read my work, three OC Titans are part of the group: Savior, who belongs to me, Gauntlet, who belongs to Bobcat, and Scalpel, who belongs to Jedi-and. That's enough explanation for now.

Oh, and my thanks to Roger Corman, who provided the idea, and the darker and more mature theme, for this story. And the key word is MATURE. Even more so then my USUAL work. I'll be tackling some things I usually avoid in this plot, got it? MATURE. You have been warned.

Who's Roger Corman? Find out for yourself, I have to cut and run…run away from Jump City and to another…

Part 1: Run Down

Behold Light City.

Wait, you say. You've never heard of Light City? I suppose that's understandable. Then let us speak of it.

Light City was similar to Jump City: a city poised by the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, a city with a core of skyscrapers and other large buildings radiating out to smaller buildings and then to rural areas.

So what does this have to do with the Titans? Well, nothing really.

You see, Light City was once a tourist hotspot. When people left the drudgery of their daily lives, many came to Light City to do so. The city has a marvelous and wonderful beach, famed far and wide. And not only that. The city was famed for its amazing nightlife, which had begun back at the turn of the century with the discovery of the incredible moons that could be seen over Light City. It was where the city got its name from, as it was said you had never seen moonlight until you had seen it from Light City. Indeed, so bright and clear was the moon that the city had not had to install more then token outdoor lights until years after most other cities had had to do so as a necessity. With the beach for the day and the moon for the night, Light City thrived.

But that had been at a time when most of the Titans had been little more then twinkles in their father's eyes. In these days…times have changed.

When did it happen exactly? If any of the people who chronicle these things had to pinpoint a time, it was when the mayor, Geoffrey Tercero, had landed a contract with a very large corporation to set up several chemical plants on the outskirts of Light City. Mayor Tercero had made sure that the plants would not pollute the waters nearby, hence wrecking Light City's famed beaches, and he had been correct in his assessment that they wouldn't. It seemed like a win-win situation: no problems and many new jobs created.

And so it had been.

Until it was realized that while the company did not pollute the water, it was far from perfect. Instead, the company belched forth huge, dense clouds of chemical smoke. And while this chemical did not harm humans, it proved thick and murky, and prone to hanging around the lower atmosphere. Combined with clouds, Light City's famed moon suddenly vanished, hardly ever seen again, hidden behind the clouds of smoke and chemicals.

That had been the start of the decline. Tourism began to slack. But the town was stuck with the plants: removing them would hurt the city far more then a slump in tourism. So the city had dug in and hoped it would ride the rough patch out.

Except the rough patch didn't end. The problems compounded themselves. Businesses, fueled by tourism for so long, began to slack, hence causing even more reliance on the chemical plants.

And it grew worse, as the streets of Light City, so long lit by their moon that had now been locked behind huge clouds, now found itself cloaked in darkness, with little artificial light to chase it away, a darkness that had proved to be a fair hunting ground for those who walked in the shadows. Every city has crime, but Light City's had begun to grow, and was now teetering on the edge of being a severe problem.

The final blow perhaps came when a new man arrived. His name was Stephen Pierce, and he wore the guise of a simple businessman. What he really was a master chess player, and his pieces were all on the wrong side of the tracks. The mayor was easy to get on his side: he had long been proven to be far from virtuous (which is why he had been elected continuously for six terms. It wasn't because he was a great leader. It was because he had people who would make sure the people didn't get someone better, in exchange for looking the other way on a variety of things, more then a few that had Stephen Pierce's hand in it) and it wasn't hard to get the right people in the right positions to ensure smooth sailing.

Three strikes, you're out.

Light City's beaches still remain, as lovely as ever, but few tourists visit them now. It's citizens, who once had wanted for nothing, now toil in the chemical plants or the few businesses, large and small, which struggle on. The streets had become territory for the bad elements of society, or at least the small fry of them: the elites stayed in far nicer places, the leaders of the streets paying tribute to them to allow them to continue their ways with minimal resistance.

True, in some places decent people did their best to make a living, teach their children well, and give them the skills to survive and the possibility to become someone.

But…it was clear that way was losing.

To try in live in Light City was becoming the task of a masochist or a hardcore idealist. To make a decent living, you had to lose the decent part. To get anywhere in Light City, you either knew someone or became someone. Those who tried to fight it were quickly bought, either by choice or after becoming engulfed in the despair that comes that you cannot fight the system. Those who weren't bought…they didn't stay. In one way or another.

Light City…it was not quite there yet, but it was becoming very clear that the glory days were done. It seemed destined to become a slum, then a hellhole…and then whatever oblivion claimed places that fell by the wayside.

It would be nice to say the Titans recognized the problems of this beleaguered town and had come to its aid. But…beside being little more then 97 miles away, the Titans, and Jump City itself, had their own problems.

They say change is good. Not always. But…what goes around comes around…

And before it was over, the Titans would know this city…

This city that had tried to collect money from several businesses to take to a bank. But it hadn't gone that way…

Detective Jonathon Chesbro walked up to one of the white sheets that covered the body of one of the unfortunate souls that had been driving the truck. The truck had been diverted down a side street that had been rigged with a spike strip. Once the truck was disabled, the poor fools, who had absolutely no idea how to carry themselves in a combat situation, had been quickly taken care of, and the money they had "guarded" had been relieved from their hands. Incompetent, yes, but they didn't deserve this.

Chesbro was startled by a sudden noise and turned around to see that it had come from an officer (and he used the term loosely) had stumbled into another one, causing them to tumble down right in the middle of the crime scene. Anger and irritation boiled in his gut at the contamination, but it was quickly washed away by the numb knowledge that it didn't matter. Whoever had killed these two men wouldn't be caught. And if by some miracle they were, it would be the second coming before they were convicted. That was the way things worked in Light City these days. He wondered which drug dealer or gangbanger had managed to pull this off…

"Detective…" One of (hell, the ONLY CSI that Light City had) said, getting Chesbro's attention. "You might want to see this."

Chesbro's brow furrowed as the CSI led him over to the other body, which had been placed on a stretcher. This was a simple robbery, what could the scene tech want to show him…

The CSI pulled back the sheet, and Chesbro knew. His gut clenched again.

"Goddamn freaks." Chesbro growled, and stomped off. He had always known that his city was on a direct line to hell before, but it had become crystal clear when what he had seen had begun to manifest: "special" criminals. The breed that other cities like Gotham and Keystone were infamous for had begun to pop up in Light City. Small so far, but these problems always grew.

The guard's face had been drawn on with marker.

A smiley face.

Chesbro, trying to keep his resentment under control at what the city he had been born and raised in was becoming, got into his car and got on the radio.

"This is Chesbro. It's more then a robbery. Looks like it was committed by…"

"THE PRANKER!" The Pranker declared to no one in particular, as he reached into one of the bags he had taken from the armoured car and pulled out a fistful of bills. "Ohhh, the only thing I like better then the green of dead presidents is the red of flustered faces! Smile, Detective Butthole, you have just been PRANK'D!"

Yes, Light City had begun to get the colorful breed of criminal masterminds that appear in these realities. However, they had not yet warranted one that was ORIGINAL.

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and if that was true, the Pranker was obvious flattering more then one (much BETTER known and cooler) villain. The Pranker was black, but half of his face had been painted with white greasepaint with a full (well, half full) clown nose. One side of his hair was dark and cut close to the skull, and the other was bright pink and flared up in a semi-Mohawk esque way, splitting the two visages in a way that may have brought to mind another villain that the Pranker was ripping off. He did not wear a suit split down the middle in the same way though, but rather a white one with light, vertical purple stripes along white and black saddle shoes.

Who knows who this rip-off artist is, where he came from, how he got this way?

What, you don't? Ok, let's move on.

Unoriginality aside, the Pranker certainly didn't think he was a knockoff of anyone, oh no! Well, there was that other clown guy, but he was OLD, man, yesterday's news. He was the new generation of supercriminals! He was well on his way! He even had a few goons, who were also black, in their mid twenties, and possessing IQ's of roughly that. They were both dressed in roughly the same way, with pants, shirts, vests, and bowler hats, coloured dark pink-purple and subtle green respectively (to more stand out from the average gangbanger…who would probably have rejected these two morons anyway). The Pranker had never bothered learning their names, so to him Pink was Moron 1 and Green was Idjit 2. And they had helped him pull off the robbery, but besides that he couldn't much care. What was REALLY the sparkle in his eye was his girl, straight out of the cliché of the 60's Batman TV show where all the villains would have an attractive female by their side. His was Giggles, a thin and busty Japanese woman with sparkling mascara, hair tied in pigtails, and an outfit consisting of a tight leather tube top and short, tight shorts (Harley WHO?). Exactly WHY this girl was hanging around him and his boys, "entertaining" him and them, was a mystery to the Pranker: he, when he actually spent a moment to think about it, figured it was because of A) It was a better life then hooking, and B) He didn't much care anyway.

Pranker was currently finding much more entertainment in his hard stolen money then Giggles at the moment though, so she was entertaining Moron 1 and Idjit 2 with a dance that had probably been learned at her previous place of employment. The two watched with the dull, horny look of the unwashed male when they see some exposed female flesh, and making noises much like the apes they were probably only a step above on the evolutionary scale. The noises greatly increased when Giggles actually pulled down the zipper at the front of her top and opened it up to free her breasts. The Pranker droned out the noises his two goons were making at this show of flesh until it irritated him too much, and then he started snapping his fingers. Giggles immediately covered herself up again and zipped her top closed, as his two goons made disappointed noises until they realized he was waving them over, and their faces grew stupidly happy again: that meant the boss was going to divvy up the loot. Maybe they would get enough this time to pay Giggles for a more…intimate kind of entertainment.

"I'd say good work boys…" The Pranker said on his elevated chair, that was positioned much like a throne on the old games warehouse where he and his men hid out, as Giggles sat on his lap and he gave her rear end an appreciative squeeze that made her emit one of her namesakes. He'd make her make a lot more noises then that later… "Except it wasn't! You two were sloppy! I barely had time to leave my signature before we had to scram! I have half a mind to send you to bed without supper!"

"Ah no boss, c'mon, we got it all, we did our best…" Moron 1 whined.

"Not good enough! Your work is going to have to pick up if you want to stay! But…for now, let's divvy it up!" The Pranker said as he pulled a small table over and began rooting through the bag, extracting small mounds of piles tied together with elastic.

"One for you, one for me!" The Pranker said, putting a cash clip in front of his goons and then himself. "Two for you, two for me!" He continued, as he laid down another clip for the goons and TWO more for him. "Three for you, three for me!" Once again this played out, as the Pranker added to the number for his goons and gave himself the number outright. Even the dull eyes of the two men were starting to show a slight heat as part of them realized they were being cheated, but the Pranker knew it would come to nothing. He might have only been able to think at a level that was two above his goons (and that wasn't saying much), but he was still the one thinking at that level, and it had always proved him right!

And he was.

Kind of.

"Spare any for a guest?"

The Pranker jerked up from his counting, his two goons whirling around at the sound of the voice. The eyes of the three criminals and their girl focused on the figure standing in the shadows at the end of the room.

"Who the hell invited you?" The Pranker snarled.

"I let myself in…" Said the voice as it stepped forward, slowly coming into the light. The faces of the Pranker and his associates reflected off the black surface of whatever reflective substance composed most of the helmet that the figure was wearing. The black glass flowed into a red skintight outfit that covered every part of the head that the helmet didn't conceal, leaving only the figure's mouth visible. On each side of the helmet where twin sets of bladed prongs set in the center and positioned backwards. The red neck of the outfit ran into a black-colored chest, red and black mixing and zig-zagging together down the arms and legs. The boots were jet black, and on the figure's arms were thin, sleek metal gauntlets that covered (or coated, which was a better description) both his forearms, his hands covered in red gloves. He was fairly tall and a step above lanky, his body containing a musculature that would probably have fit a gymnast rather then a bodybuilder.

His helmet glass hid whatever look he was giving the Pranker, who was glaring hotly at the newcomer. Forget that he had intruded, he had a cooler costume! That made him mad!

"Hey! Asshole! You have intruded on a private business function! Make like a tree and blow your ass out of here!" The Pranker yelled.

"No." the costumed figure said simply. An expression filled the Pranker's face, one that mostly fit a child who had been denied a cookie before supper.

"Boys, show our guest out!" The Pranker yelled, and Giggles again made one of her namesakes as the Pranker's goons pulled out semiautomatic pistols.

The costumed man didn't move. He didn't even raise his arms. He just stood there.

"You really must wanna die, buddy!" Moron 1 said, and fired.

The figure didn't move.

And he didn't jerk back to indicate the bullet had hit him. No blood blossomed on his black chest piece to add to the red on the rest of his outfit. He stood there, as calm as he was waiting to cross the street, giving no indication that a bullet had been fired.

And the bullet didn't give any indication either. It was as if it had vanished.

"Not really." He said.

"MORON!" Idjit 2 yelled, and fired himself.

Same result.

"I think I'm getting the indication I'm not much welcome here." The figure said.

"KILL HIM!" The Pranker yelled.

And the goons listened, as they threw caution to the wind and opened up, their yells of effort and anger mixing with Giggles' screams at the sudden racket as they emptied their clips at the figure.

Who didn't move an inch, and didn't suffer as much as a scratch. As the guns clicked dry, the two goons stared in horror at him.

"You missed." He said.

The Pranker's eyes bulged in a combination of shock, renewed anger, and underneath it all, a tiny bit of fear. His goons were far from master marksmen, but they had been shooting from a distance of three feet. A BLIND man couldn't have missed at that distance. But somehow his goons had, with every shot…without the figure having moved an inch.

Or so it seemed to the Pranker. Had he been able to examine the ground by the figure's feet, he would have seen ever so slight grooves in the dust on either side of the boots.

Their eyes hadn't failed them. None of the bullets HAD hit the figure…because he had dodged them.

They just hadn't been able to see it.

Just like they didn't see it when Moron 1 stumbled backwards, his eyes wild with fear as he fumbled to eject his gun clip and insert another. He was finally getting the second clip in when it happened.

They never saw anything in between, although they might have heard a slight clirchk! noise when the metal gauntlet around the figure's right arm opened at the front and snapped metal constraints up that the figure inserted his fingers through, covering them in a protective lattice of metal.

But they saw nothing.

One moment the figure was standing where he was.

And the next split second he was right up and against Moron 1, looking right into his face.

With his arm right through Moron 1's chest.

"I didn't." he said.

It took a few seconds for everyone to grasp what had just happened, and then Giggles began to scream again, even as Moron 1 looked down at where the figure's arm was, right up to the elbow in his chest, his fist sticking out the back like one of those arrow jokes you could buy and wear on your head. But this was no joke. This was deadly real.

Moron 1 made a low groan, and then the light faded from his eyes. The figure put his hand on Moron 1's face and shoved, pushing the body off his arm.

There wasn't any blood. Not a speck. The figure, moving at speed beyond human comprehension, hadn't just punched through Moron 1: he had literally DRILLED the entire section his arm had been in out, which was now lying on the ground behind Moron 1 like a sausage from hell. That part was bleeding…but Moron 1 wasn't. The edges of the wound had been seared shut by the incredible force and friction of the blow.

Moron 1 fell, as the Pranker realized the punk who had intruded on his domicile was more then some guy in a costume, as Giggles screamed again and Idjit 2 finally managed to reload his clip.

"YOU FUCKER!!!!!!!" he screamed, opening fire on the figure again.

The figure just walked towards him, as if he wasn't even there, as Idjit 2 fired round after round at him. The bullets didn't hit him. As you might have guessed, he was far too fast for that. He was so fast that the Pranker, Giggles, and Idjit 2 couldn't even see him dodging: all they got was a very slight blurring in the corner of their eye.

The figure tensed his arm, and from the gauntlet a blade sprang, a long black one with golden etchings that was slightly shorter then the figure's forearm. He twisted his wrist slightly and the blade detached, tilting up slightly as the figure turned his hand to grab it at its hilt.

Then he wasn't in front of Idjit 2 any more.

He was behind him.

A very slight pause, as the Pranker and Giggles realized that the figure was now kneeling down, his arm extended and his hand gripping his blade at a near perfect 90 degree angle to his arm.

"YOU MISSED YOU FUC-!" Idjit 2 screamed as he turned to fire some more.

And then he split in half, his waist separating and tumbling off his legs, as Giggles screamed once more.

"No I didn't." the figure said, as he snapped the blade back against the wrist part of the gauntlet. The blade snapped back inside the construct with a slight clanging noise as Idjit 2's legs fell.

Once again, there was not a drop of blood. The blow had been so fast it was as if it had come from a lightsaber, sealing the wound shut and preventing any bloodshed.

The figure stood back up and turned towards the Pranker.

"Now…" he began.

"DODGE THIS!" The Pranker screamed. While the figure had occupied himself with standing up, the Pranker had reached behind his chair and removed an AK-47, and now, kicking the table aside, the money flying everywhere, forgotten now, he squeezed the trigger and lit up the room, laughing manically.

This time, they saw the figure move. Or Giggles did, despite her shock and horror. What she saw was a blur of red and black, dashing back and forth in a zig-zagging pattern in front of the Pranker, who didn't seem to notice, who kept firing and laughing, his eyes gleaming frenziedly.

The gun clicked dry.

And the blur was restored to the figure, the man in the costume, who seemed to be looking down…until he looked up, holing his arms up and out…showing that each hand was piled high with bullets.

He'd caught every single one.

"This good enough?" he asked, tossing the bullets on the ground in front of the Pranker, who stood, gun at his side, his eyes bulging with rage and astonishment at this…thing that had appeared and…

And then the Pranker screamed, dropping the machine gun and reaching into his coat for his personal sidearm.

And the figure, his arms still outstretched with his empty palms up, did a quick snapping motion, twisting his palms down in a movement that brought his elbows up, as the blade he had just used and a twin snapped out from the gauntlets and disconnected, starting to spin through the air as the figure snapped out each hand, crossing his arms as his right hand caught the left blade and vice-versa.

The Pranker aimed at the figure.

And the figure was suddenly right up in front of the Pranker, his leg snapping up and kicking the gun out of the Pranker's hand and into the air.

And then all Giggles saw was a blurring rush of red, black and gold, ever so slight whooshes of the air as the Pranker stood stock still, seemingly paralyzed…

And then the figure reappeared, snapping his blades down and to his side, and then taking a step back and twirling slightly as the gun he had kicked out of the Pranker's hand finally began to fall down again.

It drew parallel to the figure.

And then just one of his arms began a blur, a blur of color that consumed the gun, a blur that was here one split second and gone the next, Giggles barely registering it.

The gun hit the floor.

And shattered like glass, fragmenting into a hundred tiny pieces, somehow chopped to shreds in the quarter of a blink of an eye.

The figure turned away from the Pranker, who was still standing as still as a statue, as the figure twisted his blades and snapped them back into his arms.

And then the Pranker fell apart, his body suddenly splitting and disintegrating into a thousand small cubes of cooked flesh, just like his gun, a man reduced to hamburger in the truest sense of the word.

Giggles didn't scream. Her horror had gone beyond that. All she could do was make little mewling noises as she backed up. The figure didn't seem to notice her, standing with his back to her, as if contemplating the fact he had just killed three men.

Giggles turned to make a break for it.

Only to find him standing in front of her.

"Going somewhere?"

Giggles made a tiny shriek and turned around to run again. She got two steps before he was in front of her again.

"Not quite yet my darling."

Giggles repeated her tactic once more. This time she made it three and a half steps before he was there again.

"My my…aren't you a luscious one…yes…" the figure said.

"Please don't kill me." Giggles whimpered.

"Kill you? Why do that…yet anyway…" the figure said, stepping towards her. "You even smell good…such a lovely girl…and yet…I sense you could be lovelier…"

Giggles felt it like somehow had tugged lightly at her top and shorts. Then she found that twin lines had been cut in them, exposing a sliver of flesh on her breasts and on her rear. She gasped at this sudden change.

"What? You're shocked? Modest suddenly? You were willing to show it off for that human pond scum, and they were just horny dogs. I can truly appreciate…the female form…"

"No…" Giggles whimpered again, as a new and horrifying possibility reared large in her head. Would he…and with his…how could she…

"Come now…let me see…" the figure said, holding out a hand as if he was gesturing for her to continue what he had started.

Giggles crossed her arms over her breasts and began backing up, her head shaking slightly. Ever with his mask, the figure was clearly disappointed.

"Fine then."

Her top was ripped off before she even knew what happened, and even as she was suddenly registering cold air on her nipples, her shorts were suddenly gone too, leaving her totally exposed to the world besides her boots. And before she could even cover herself he was suddenly there, and then she was suddenly against the wall, the side of his hip pressing into her bare stomach and his right hand gently but firmly around her throat.

"Now…don't you think you should have listened?"

Giggles made a tiny shocked noise and began to cry, her sparkling mascara beginning to run.

"You know…" the figure said, raising his left hand, which was now gloveless. "The greatest thing about wearing a mask…" he continued, the upper back of his fingers tracing lightly across Giggle's cheek. If they had been lovers, this would have been construed as erotic, but the situation was far from that. "Is that when you put it on, you seem to become a different person. And when you combine that with power, you feel so many things…no more rules, no more responsibilities….no more…inhibitions…" the figure said as he leaned in as if he was going to kiss Giggles. Giggles made a low sob in her throat.

"But that…is for lower men. And that is not what I am." The figure said, drawing back. "So pretty…a lovely China doll…I'd love to sample you…your texture, your scent, your taste…but I'm not a rapist. Rape is about power and anger. I don't want that darling…I just want…someone to appreciate…just for a little while…and I know…I couldn't take that from you…and you'd never want to give it…so don't be afraid…I won't hurt you…promise…"

Giggles' look of sheer terror remained. Then, in the background, sirens.

"Ah, the boys in blue. Better late then never, I suppose…" the figure said, and leaned in again. "Remember this. Learn from it. Forget scum like your rip-off former boyfriend. Find a nice man…one who would protect you from the things…I'd like to do…but know are wrong. This time, anyway."

The sirens grew louder, but all Giggles knew was the figure, her terrified face reflected in his black glass.

"Go. Find a better place then this. There are bad things in the dark. And then…there's me."

And then he was gone, as if he had never been.

Giggles collapsed, curled into the fetal position, and lay there, her brain shutting down from shock.

To their credit, when the first officers on the scene found her there, naked and lying in a puddle of her own fear-expelled urine, among the bodies of the Pranker and his goons, they did nothing but help her.

As best they could.

(Writer's Note: Sorry if you thought I was gonna do a rape scene. I'm not gonna go THAT far)

And from these police officers we go to other so called "keepers of the peace", although this group was actually trying, in a sense, to live up to that responsibility as their sirens wailed and their tires squealed as the two police cars chased after their target: a getaway car containing two men. The men had robbed a convenience store, murdering the clerk in the process. Normally the police wouldn't care so much…except the store had been right next to a 24 hour coffee shop the officers had stopped in to grab a coffee…and that was it. What, can't ALWAYS follow the donut cliché! Anyway, the officers had taken umbrage to the fact that the two men thought so little of them they would commit the robbery considering the police cars were in FULL VIEW, and oh yeah, the actual robbery and murder, and hence had given chase.

The two killers in the car don't seem much concerned. They are so low on the totem pole as to not deserve names, so I will simply call them Driver and Gunner. Laughing and whooping, both were living up to their given names as Diver kept trying to outrun the cops and Gunner, leaning out the window and firing at the chasing vehicles, is doing likewise.

"Squeeeee for me piggy!" Gunner hollered, as he cocked his gun and let loose a round of buckshot. The fact that he was using a shotgun, a close range weapon, to try and hit a target that was NOT at close range pretty much gives you an indication of the intelligence level he possessed, but Lady Luck always seemed to have a soft spot for fools as Gunner got extraordinarily lucky and managed to blow out the right tire of the cop car in the front. The car swerved and crashed into the side of the highway embankment that the chase was happening on, and the second car had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision, one that almost happened anyway.

"WHOOO HOOOOOOOO!" Gunner shrieked, and the two yammered and gibbered as they drove on.

"WE'RE GONNA BE FREE BABY!" Driver whooped.

"No you're not." Said a voice by the windshield.

Diver turned his head at the sudden noise…and found nothing.

And then he had new concerns as the car suddenly stopped, DEAD. On a literal dime. Driver's chest slammed into the steering wheel, and Gunner's head crashed into the windshield.

By now, the second cop car had managed to get around it's fellow and had resumed the chase, merely as a formality, as the two policemen inside the car KNEW that with the head start they had been afforded the two robbers would be long gone by now.

Only to find they weren't. They had stopped.

And not just stopped. The car was now missing its two front tires. And its engine.

"Uhhhhhhh…" Drover groaned as he came swimming out of the murk that had consumed him the second after he had heard the voice. He was aware of a deep pain in his chest and the yells of police as they got out of their own car.

And that was as far as they got, as a sudden blur of red and black zipped back across the freeway…

As the figure called upon his powers over speed and velocity, powers that had not only allowed him to disassemble the tires and engine of the car but actually suck all the kinetic energy out of it, causing its dead stop, and turned them inward, seizing command of his molecules and vibrating them, to the point where, for a moment so brief it was almost beyond recording, the figure lost all lucidity except for the very bottom of his feet, and ran back at the car and right THROUGH it, phasing through the vehicle like it wasn't there at all.

But it still was, and there were grave consequences to the figure's action. For in the process of the run, the figure's particles had briefly, ever so briefly, intermingled with that of the car, and while the figure was not affected, as he was the one commanding his form, the car was, as the particles were disrupted from their natural state, and as anyone who has ever studied atomic science can tell you, when atoms are disturbed, the results can be…explosive.

The figure reappeared on the other side.

And the car exploded. Well technically, the parts of the car and the men that the figure had phased through exploded, the two killers not even comprehending what had happened before the initial explosion and the subsequent detonation of the gas tank blew them straight to hell. The cops recoiled down behind their car at the sudden blast. The figure just stood there. As you may have guessed, no shrapnel hit him.

The cops slowly pulled themselves back up and looked at the figure, who looked back at them and gave them a very slight smile.

"There. I've saved you the trouble of arresting them and all the nonsense afterward." The figure said.

The police finally grasped what they had seen, and their training kicked in.

"FREEZE MOTHERFUCKER!" The driver yelled, aiming his gun at the figure.

"Why?" the figure said. "What are you going to do, shoot me?"





The head officer cocked back the hammer. The figure smirked again, this time only using one side of his mouth.

"Hey, wanna see a neat trick?" he said, and then his blades were in his hands.

And the officer, already on edge from the explosion and not knowing the full extent of what this costumed fire could do, fired.

The figure snapped up a blade, and the bullet hit it and ricocheted off of it…directly at the figure's other blade, where it ricocheted again, back at the original blade, and again, and again.

The two officers stared in alarm as the figure bounced the bullet back and forth on his swords, the figure feeding it kinetic energy, the reverse of what he had done with the car, so it could maintain maximum swiftness, the arms moving so fast they couldn't seem them, just hearing the noise of the constant recoils as the figure showed off.

Before he grew bored.

And cut the bullet in half.

And hit both halves at such an angle they flew back at the officers and knocked the guns out of their hands. As the officers grabbed at the appendages that had just held weapons, the figure twirled, knelt down, and sheathed his blades back in the gauntlets.

(True, he'd had to run aside BOTH bullets when he had hit them and made tiny little adjustments on their courses in order to make them disarm BOTH officers without blowing off their hands or some other body part…but he'd done that so quickly the officers hadn't even seen him, so why spoil the moment?)

"I am not your enemy. Yet." The figure said as he stood up. "You were doing your job in pursuing these men. Keep doing it. Don't let them buy you. Don't let apathy consume you. This was a nice town once. I want it to be a nice town again. You can either help me…or get in my way. And that's a bad place to be."

The figure disappeared.

And suddenly the two officers found themselves next to each other, their hats turned backwards, their badges switched to each other's chests, their nightsticks in front of them on the ground…and their right wrists handcuffed together.

The figure reappeared in front of them.

"Believe me. Make your choice. Posthaste."

And then the figure was gone again.

It took a little while, but the officers managed to uncuff themselves and get on the radio. They had a feeling their chief would want to hear this.

"What are you saying officer, I can't hear you. You're breaking up." Chief Rudy Bialas said into his personal radio station. He was a man in his late forties who still had a full head of dark red hair, but the muscle that had once been on his large frame was almost finished in it's journey to become fat. Not that he needed to do anything physical any more. He was the Chief. Let everyone ELSE do the work, he'd do the job he'd been bought, er, was paid for.

"I was say…if….e might ha…lante…."

"What? WHAT?"

"Sir, we have….blem…"


"Sir, we have a…"

"Problem." Said the figure who was suddenly standing next to Chief Bialas. Bialas looked up in shock, and then with a whir a blade cut the radio wire, even as the chief realized there was an intruder and opened up his mouth to yell for help.

He never got the chance, as a hand seized his throat.

"Don't. Just don't."


Within a second the door to the chief's office was jammed closed with a chair and his deck, and Chief Bialas was tied to his own chair with his own belt, and the figure was looking into his face.

"You people never listen." The figure said.

"HELP! HELP!" Chief Bialas screamed.

"I suggest you shut up. The only way they're getting through that door is through shooting, and they won't hit me. You, on the other hand…" the figure said, as yelling began behind the door as the police officers tried to respond to the cry and found the chief door's barred.

"DON'T SHOOT! DON'T SHOOT!" Chief Bialas screamed. The figure's mouth formed into a frown of intense distaste.

"Look at you. A puppet on his throne, letting this city go to hell for the sake of a few payments. You grew up here Chief Bialas, and look what you let this city become. Your city. MY city." The figure said.

"What are you…?"

"Have you ever heard of the Speed Force, Mon Capitan? Strange place. They theorize it's this plane of existence where things happen at incomprehensible speeds, speeds that make the speed of light look like a snail. And sometimes…some people…they find a way to reach out and touch this dimension…tap its amazing swiftness. There have been several people who have done this Chief. The Flash. Johnny Quick. Impulse…or is he Kid Flash now? I forget. And then…there's me." The figure said. His speech was a bit slower then usual, because he had to keep pausing to breathe.

"Let me…" Bialas began, and suddenly he found a blade at his throat.

"You have let this city go to hell. This is your lone chance of redemption. You are no longer a toady and a pawn. You are the leader of this force. Send it out. Take down the bad guys. ALL of them. Do what you are SUPPOSED to do. Because if you don't…I'll kill you Chief. You, and every single officer in this department, and everyone else I have to…to make this place a nice town again. And I don't care about numbers, chief. When you go as fast as I do…time takes on a whole new meaning. Do your job, or DIE. There is no other option. Do not try to stop me. Do not try to defeat me. Either work with me, or work your way into a grave."

The figure pressed the blade in. Bialas's nostrils snorted out a breath in sheer terror.

"My name is Cauterize."

Cauterize withdrew the blade, and more air shot from Bialas's nostrils.

"One breath. I'm never farther away then that."

And then he was gone, the door open, the officers that had been trying to break in suddenly lying on their ass as a great force shoved past them and left the building far behind him before they had even hit the ground.

In the pandemonium that followed, it took the chief forty minutes before he could make the call.

"Stop whining you pathetic piece of shit." Hissed Stephen Pierce. "I pay you good money. Either get rid of this vigilante, or I'll find someone who can."


"Get on his ass. Run him to ground. He's killed in cold blood, use that as an excuse. Do not even think of calling me again until he's dead. I will not tolerate anything else."

Stephen Pierce hung up in disgust. What a disgusting man, and with limited uses.

Still…Pierce figured he'd beef up his security.

He might need it.

Cauterize stood on the building, looking up onto the sky. He had removed his helmet, and had the moonlight shone down on Light City like it once had, you might have been able to see his features. But the moon was lost behind thick clouds, and you can see nothing. But you can hear.

"So…it begins…that fool probably won't listen to me…guess I'll have to kill him…and anyone else…" Cauterize said. Some might have called him morally bankrupt for thinking of murder so lightly, but as far as Cauterize was concerned, morals were a nice thing that didn't work any more. Nice things were for nice places. Once Light City was a nice place again…they could talk. But until then…

So Cauterize stared off into the distance, wishing for a moon, and planning his next steps.

There were a lot of them.

But he wasn't worried.

When it came to stepping, he was a cut above.

To Be Continued