Author's Note: Doo doo doo, another chapter done by the almighty...me! Muwahahaha! Well....read fools!
When Robin had gone to, supposedly, blow off some steam, Cyborg had gone to do that as well. Having taken the T-Car, the hybrid had decided to cruise around Jump City.
Usually, a ride in his "baby" would help calm the nerves that hadn't been replaced by machinery. This time, however, those nerves weren't being easily calmed. The words had affected Cyborg, and he knew that the other Titans had been too. He also knew that Robin hadn't really meant it, but the words still hurt nonetheless.
Still, could Cyborg fully deny those words? If they hadn't had Robin, would this city have long been destroyed? Were they really that helpless without him?
"No, don't think like that," Cyborg suddenly said to himself, shaking his head. "We had to save his butt before."
It was true. Once, Robin had been at Slade's mercy because he had injected probes into Cyborg and the others and threatened to have them torn from the inside out if Robin didn't do whatever Slade wanted him to do. In the end, the Titans had came to his rescue, despite the probes. And together, they managed to defeat Slade once again.
And it proved that Robin couldn't handle things by himself. If he could, why bother be part of the team? Why bother even creating the Teen Titans? Despite how Robin felt that Slade was his responsibility, he was part of a team. There was no I in team...even though there was a me in it. But that's not the point.
Cyborg suddenly hit the brakes of the car and it screeched to a stop.
In that instant, all of the Titan's troubles were suddenly forgotten. A huge smile appeared on Cyborg's face as he stared at a poster on the window of a video game store. It couldn't be!
Arsenal 2 In Stock Now.
Finally, after a whole year since playing Arsenal, Cyborg could finally continue the story of the video game. Not able to help but cackle with glee, Cyborg drove into the parking lot, his troubles sent to the back of his mind where they would remain momentarily.
'An hour ago, Dr. John Vants had been found dead in his observatory. He is the seventh astronomer that had been murdered, his wounds matching that of the six other victims. Authorities believe that-'
Robin shut off the radio of his R-Cycle before that sentence could be finished. It didn't matter what the authorities believed, they practically knew nothing about Slade.
He had been there, right there. If only he had stayed, or at least went back inside a minute earlier, he would've encountered Vants's killer. If only...
Robin sighed. He couldn't worry about it now. He hadn't been there, he hadn't encountered the killer, and he hadn't saved Dr. John Vants.
All he had gotten were more questions and the little token that he had received from the killer. Unconsciously, Robin touched the orange circle with the white S.
Something wasn't right.
Despite all the evidence, something felt...wrong. Cinderblock, the mask, and now the symbol that Robin himself had once worn. All the evidence screamed Slade. But...that was the problem.
With his craving for knowledge, Robin had studied everything he could about Slade. He wanted to try to predict what Slade would do, be one step ahead of the villain. He wanted to learn Slade's motives. The problem was that he had never been able to easily understand. The disks he stole when he was Red X to fool Slade, was on example.
Though he wasn't completely sure if Slade wanted those disks as much as he was letting on, Robin did figure out one thing. Slade knew that he was Red X. And he had wanted Robin to steal the disks for another reason. He had wanted to test Robin.
And Robin had gotten full marks.
He had easily managed to steal the disks, despite the security. But he had done something else. When forced, Robin would combat the Titans. That had been what accomplished Slade's unspoken objective. When Robin wanted something done badly enough, he would turn on his team, his friends.
With the clues Slade had created to have Robin figure it out, and the Red X incident, he came to the conclusion that Robin would make a perfect apprentice. In the end, it was Robin that Slade had wanted.
Robin stopped his R-Cycle. These thoughts were clouding his mind; he couldn't think and drive at the moment. He sat there, his feet planted on the road to stop the cycle from tipping, the engine still running. The Titan suddenly sighed, dropping the kickstand before turning off the engine. The road in front of him was hidden in darkness as the headlight turned off.
Slipping off his helmet and placing it on the bike, Robin ran a hand through his hair to get rid of any helmet hair. The thought of the white hair crossed his mind, and he couldn't help that ripple of amusement that caused him to smile. Maybe he should take it easy with all this detective work, all the stress was getting to him. Shaking his head, Robin hopped off the R-Cycle before looking down from the hill that he had parked on top.
He suddenly blinked. He never actually realized how big Jump City was.
It was night and despite that, several lights in the houses and other buildings were still on. How many people populated the city? Hundreds? Thousands? How many had made homes within the walls of concrete and steel that covered these acres of land?
How could Robin protect all of them?
The boy wonder suddenly had a feeling of déjà vu. He had asked himself the exact same questions before. And, as he thought harder, Robin couldn't help but think that he was standing on the same hill that he stood on before. But when?
The realization hit him. When he had first came to Jump City...when he realized that he couldn't do this alone. It was then that he went to work on creating the Teen Titans.
The same answer hit him again as he stared at the Titans Tower.
Robin couldn't do this alone, he wasn't alone. The Titans, his friends, were there to help him. They were there to help get rid of any burdens that troubled him.
A great weight suddenly seemed to be lifted from Robin's shoulders. He suddenly felt more powerful. His thoughts became clear; energy flowed through him, bringing him out of his weary state.
A smile spread across Robin's face. He sat back on his R-Cycle while he placed his helmet onto his head. Everything suddenly came together.
Slade wasn't responsible for what was happening. Robin knew it, had known it. The clues were too obvious, Slade wasn't obvious. Now Robin needed to learn about this new enemy so that he and his team can defeat it together.
In the year 2194, the United States government had proved the military's request to create a new weapon. In the year 2202, scientists had created parasitic life forms that were quickly put to use by setting them loose into civilian areas of other countries, where secret military installations were found. When military forces were sent and get rid of the infestation, the installations would already be destroyed, lessening any military threat that could endanger America. As attacks came and went, it wasn't long until the other countries became suspicious of the United States when it was the only country that hadn't been attacked.
To get rid of thee spreading rumors, the United States had unleashed the life forms on one of their military bases. The unsuspecting soldiers were consumed by the parasites. Waiting to test out their new weapon, the military had sent their super soldier named Arsenal, his mission to destroy the parasitic threat. Unfortunately, Arsenal ended up being overpowered by the life forms, who had learned and evolved from their brethren that had been previously sent to destroy and then exterminated.
Surprisingly, one solder named Sergeant Jacob Kelly did what the super soldier could not. By overloading the miniature nuclear core of the military base, the parasitic threat was put to an end.
But Cyborg knew better!
Barely able to stop himself from cackling, Cyborg took one of the two remaining boxes that held the game. Finally it was out! After a long and tiring year of playing Arsenal over and over again, watching trailers, looking at screenshots, reading articles, and even checking out rumors, finally the hybrid's dreams had come true! He looked at the cover of the rectangular box that held his precious.
It showed a large black armored figure, eight feet tall, lying on the ground of a room. The armor was cracked and pieces had been torn off, revealing burnt, bruised, and bleeding flesh. There were two cracked black metal wings, some thrusters under them. One large hand had been freed from its large metal gauntlet, the other hand being nothing more then a large chaingun.
Something was wrong with the room. The walls, floor, and ceiling were organic. If it wasn't a picture, they would be pulsing as if they were alive. Some kind of small purple insect looking creatures were on the floor and slowly approached the downed armored figure. And behind the figure's visor, a red eye glowed from within.
Excitement rushed trough Cyborg as he couldn't help but hop a little in his place in line. It figures that an old lady would be in front of him. The senior citizen had her purse out, and Cyborg hid a groan when he saw that she was paying in cents. This was going to take a while.
"I didn't think that the Teen Titans even had time to play video games," a voice said behind the hybrid.
Cyborg's human eye blinked before he turned around to look at the speaker. Behind him was a sixteen year old teen, brandishing the final copy of Arsenal 2. He looked up at Cyborg with blue eyes, his hair having been dyed to match them. He hefted a somewhat large pack on his back, but he didn't seem to mind the weight.
"At least you go good taste," the teen continued noting the copy Cyborg had. "Luck too. All the other stores had been out of stock." He grinned. "At least I managed to get the last one, was going to call it quits after this."
Cyborg grinned, tossing his game on the air before catching it. "I'm just glad it finally came out. I've been waiting for the thing ever since I beat Arsenal."
"Yeah no kidding. It took me about six hours nonstop to beat it." The teen shrugged. "After playing video games for most of your life, you tend to be able to beat them easily."
Cyborg grinned. "Yeah I know what you mean, took me the same amount of time to beat it. What's your name?"
"The name's David." Amusement flicked in David's eyes as he smirked. "You must be Beastboy."
Cyborg couldn't help but chuckle lightly, already starting to like David. "Funny. So David, you thin Arsenal will make a reappearance?"
David shrugged and tapped his copy. "I think the cover answers that question. Probably got infected or something."
"Yeah most likely," agreed Cyborg. "Have you heard the rumor that Arsenal had a son?"
"Heard of it, but I don't really believe it. I think if they were going to make a super soldier, they would've made sure that the guy didn't have any relations."
"True. But there is that off chance that he met a woman and ended up getting an unexpected surprise."
"You have a point. Then again, how would they introduce him?"
"The parasites could attack a city or some populated place where he's living to infect more people."
"...Ah, I got nothing to beat that."
"Can I help you?" questioned a cashier, having taken an unmanned cash register. Cyborg took a step forward.
But David sped past him and was already there in a second. Grinning, he looked back at Cyborg. "Guess I win this."
Cyborg gave him a glare.
Having traveled through the halls of the tower, letting her thoughts roam, Starfire suddenly stopped. Turning, she found herself facing the door that led to Robin's room.
Robin had come back to the tower about fifteen minutes ago and had immediately locked himself in his room. Since then, the alien girl had debated whether to speak with him or not. Usually, she would've made her choice before Robin had left and talk to him. However, Starfire had started to understand more about privacy.
But her talking had helped the Titans before, her comforting words putting them at ease. Still...
"Slade ran right by you! How could you let him get away!?"
Starfire's hand came up and touched her arm at the memory. During that incident, Robin had hurt her. His obsession of Slade had taken over him when he had seen what the other Titans couldn't see. He had said that he wouldn't let anyone stand in his way from stopping Slade, not even the Titans.
Starfire had been forced to hurt him.
She had been afraid at what would've happened if she hadn't. She had been afraid that Robin would've fought his friends like Slade had once forced him to do. But that time, Robin would've fought them at his own accord.
Despite the end of the incident, it still haunted Starfire. The first seeds of doubt had been planted into her innocent mind.
And the events that were now happening is the fertilizer that was causing the seeds to sprout.
The fear had been creeping up behind Starfire, the fear that Robin would fight them. And how he said those things about that the city would've been destroyed without him had been the fear's first strike on Starfire's defenses against her doubts.
The alien girl remembered when she first met the boy wonder. She had first arrived at Earth, not understanding the customs of the planet. Fortunately, she had been at the right place (on top of a library) at the right time (way past midnight).
Starfire had sat there, the loneliness she had experienced since coming to Earth still having a firm grip on her. Then, swooping in like the bird he was named after, Robin had stumbled onto her. That had been the beginning of a real beautiful relationship.
But that was before Slade.
He had once been a carefree teen, enjoying the good times with his team. Then Slade came into the picture.
Now, when the Titans enjoyed those good times, Robin wouldn't be there. Instead, he would be shut away in his room, trying fruitlessly to find the ways to end Slade...like he was now.
The silence of the hallway was broken as Starfire knocked on Robin's door. "Robin?"
When he didn't answer, the Tamaranean thought about leaving. She then dismissed the though. Robin had always been there to help her, and she wanted to be there to help him. So instead, she opened the door and walked in.
At first, Starfire frowned when she saw Slade's mask on the table in the center of the room and some newspaper articles hanging on the wall. Then, curiosity gnawed on her when she noticed that the only thing on the table was the mask. And there were only few articles on the walls...none of them about Slade.
Starfire's gaze swept through the room until it landed on Robin.
The leader of the Titans sat on a chair, his back to Starfire while he was bathed in light by the screen. The alien girl saw Robin fingering something, and as Starfire looked closer, she found that he was holding Slade's symbol in the palm of his hand.
Starfire opened her mouth, wanting to say something. No words came out. She opened her mouth again, and again words failed to pass through her lips. Finally, all she could do was sigh and turn back to the still open door.
"Slade isn't behind this."
Starfire froze, her eyes widening slightly when he spoke. She turned to see that Robin had looked away from the computer and his gaze was no on her.
"He...is not?" was what Starfire was only able to ask. Relief took hold of her. No Slade, no mean Robin.
"The clues are too obvious," explained Robin. He held up the symbol. "If he was back, he would've showed himself already instead of taunting us with these clues." He tossed the object away. "Someone else is doing this."
A silence occupied the room and Starfire wrung her hands together.
"I want to apologize," Robin finally said.
Starfire blinked at that. Confused, she tilted her head to the side and stared at him questionally. "Apologize?"
"For the way I acted." Robin took a breath, and Starfire couldn't help but take a step closer. "I've been acting like a real jerk lately. It's just...I don't want anyone to get hurt."
Starfire remembered when Robin had apologized before. He had felt that he had responsibility for bringing down Slade, that he was the only one that could stop him. She couldn't blame him for thinking that. It was probably the same thing now, but he's just saying it differently.
"I do not want any harm to come to anyone either," she said. "But we protect each other Robin. We help one another so that none of us have to face their problems alone...what is so humorous?"
During her explanation, a smile had been creeping up on Robin's face. He shook his head at her question.
"It's just that everyone seems to know that but me. And I'm supposed to be the detective." Smiling, Robin turned back to his computer.
Starfire hovered over to him. "Is there anything that I can assist you with?"
"No," replied Robin. "Not now anyway. Right now I'm just going to try to discover our new enemy." He looked over at Starfire, the smile still on his face. "But I am going to need help bringing the guy down."
At that, a wide smile appeared on Starfire's face. When she left his room a minute later, she felt like everything was back to normal.
As soon as David was done purchasing the game, he had walked right out of the store. By that time, the slow paying old lady was done and Cyborg had been able to make his purchase. He had hoped to catch David before he left, but when the hybrid went outside, there was no sign of David.
Shrugging, Cyborg opened the door to his T-Car and sat down in the driver seat, placing his now bought game in the passenger seat. Starting the car, Cyborg wondered how his day could've gone from bad to good so quickly. First he had argued with Robin, and now he got the game that he had been waiting for a year to get.
But in the next second, the hybrid's day was going to go bad again.
Cyborg was heading down the street; his mind filled with thoughts about Arsenal 2, when something came crashing down, literally.
At first, all Cyborg saw through the windshield was the concrete road. And suddenly, black armored tree trunk like legs fell from above and crushed the front of the T-Car.
The rear wheels suddenly shot into the air from the impact, and Cyborg would've crashed through the windshield if he hadn't been wearing his seat belt. But there was an alternative that got him out of the car. Something tore off the hood of the T-Car, and Cyborg felt a large hand grab him before he was suddenly thrown out of the car, the seat belt not saving him this time as it snapped.
Cyborg spun in the air and fell hard on the concrete. He tumbled and came to a stop, lying on his back. The hybrid took a second to allow his mind to piece together what had just happened before he shot to his feet and whirled around to face whoever it was that just totaled his car.
Cyborg couldn't believe it even when he saw him.
His night vision allowed him to see the towering eight foot tall armored figure that was standing on the T-Car. Large black metal wings were attached to its back over a pair of thrusters. The figure turned to Cyborg, stepping off of the car so that the vehicle crashed back down onto the road.
The hybrid already saw the figure's left hand. The large hand wasn't encased in the black gauntlet, and Cyborg blinked in surprise when he saw it. The skin was hairless, but had the color and texture of badly healed scar tissue.
And when it turned, Cyborg was able to see its face.
The hairless skull had the same color and texture as the hand. Its mouth had been turned into mandibles, which now clicked. A pair of red orbs were in the eye sockets of this monster.
A monster that Cyborg had thought fake.
The mandibles opened and the transformed super soldier roared a fierce cry. Arsenal's right hand, which was nothing more then a chaingun, was raised and pointed directly at Cyborg shocked form. The chaingun whirled to life, the barrels rotating.
And muzzle flashes now lit the night as the weapon fired.
Author's Note: You know what was funny? When I was typing the chapter, Pix found out that there was a dude named Arsenal in the comics. But...we decided to call the Arsenal in this fic Arsenal anyway. This is to get rid of any confusion for those of you who know that fact o.o Anyway, now it's Pixie's turn!