The cave was unusually dark, and lifeless. The only signs of activity coming from water that dripped through the sharp stalactites that littered the cave roof. Gears and steel beams protruded from the rock walls, a sign that this place was once a facility of some kind, now it was abandoned. Although mostly dark, a small crack in the cavern allowed some light to come through, blanketing the cave in a faint light.
A tall mountain dominated the center of this cave, and it was connected to the cavern tunnel by a large land bridge, which seemed to be naturally formed. On the mountaintop, was a small platform, where the statue of a little girl stood.
Beneath her stood a plaque, and a bouquet of flowers left by someone in the past.
Meanwhile, feet away, a new sound entered the cavern, disturbing a nearby group of bats as they scurried away to the exit, avoiding this mysterious figure.
The visitor walked calmly to the platform, inspecting the walls as he passed, stopping before the platform to read the small plaque left by someone.
Terra : A teen titan, a true friend
He smirked, then with strong flick of his hand, swept the plaque off its resting place, where it shattered into a million pieces in the darkness below. He looked coldly upon the statue, his face still in the shadows.
The man began, in his cold all-too-calm voice. "Did you think I was going to let you off so easily my dear? ....."
The man picked up a rock from the plaque, grasping it into his fist before it exploded into a cloud of dust. He walked out of the shadow, the small light in the cave reflecting off the rim of his mask...
"Remember...you belong to me."
Cue opening song
"WHO WANTS ALL TOFU WAFFLES!" A delighted beast boy, wearing a puffed up chef's hat, shouted as the titans relaxed in the lounge. Cyborg was sitting over the couch holding up blueprints, trying to find a way to fix the T car. Beastboy had made his Piece de resistance! Two gigantic towers of chocolate covered tofu waffles, with sprinkles, syrup and a cherry on top.
"Comon cy! Best in da house!" Beastboy poked his head up between cyborg and his papers.
"Much as a love to B, got some work to do, can't believe the T car broke down, again. Besides, I'm laying off waffles considering what happened last time. Although I do have this strange craving for steak." Cyborg clutched his growling stomach.
"You can thank Beast boy for that." Raven said with a slightly bored tone, she was meditating as usual, in mid air.
"Heh...heh.." Beast boy said nervously.
"Well how about you Raven?" He said, jumping the couch with one of thee plates full of pancakes and syrup.
Raven didn't even bother opening her eyes. "No...."
"Aw common Raven! I made them myself!" Beast boy continued, not noticing the books cyborg left beside the couch as he ran. "Look there's even little chocolate –WHOA!"
"Thanks....." Raven said sarcastically, trying hard to ignore the chocolate syrup dripping across her face.
Beast boy nervously rubbed the back of his neck, bullets sweating from his face. "Heh, heh, my mistake."
Cyborg, seeing the whole scene, began burst out laughing. "Beast boy strikes again eh Rave?"
"Hello everyone! Oh raven! What's happened to your hair??" Starfire asked inquisitively as she flew into the room.
Raven groaned, trying her best to control the urge to throw beast boy out the window. "Why does this happen to me."
"Good news Titans! I just-?" Robin began as he walked into the room, then stopped. (at the sight of a chocolate covered raven)
"Err..am I interrupting something." An astonished robin asked.
Raven stopped floating now. Beast boy recoiled in terror, expecting perhaps a pancake in the face, instead Raven just casually wiping the chocolate covered tofu off her cloak. "Just coping with another disaster."
"My waffles are not disasters!" Beast boy protested.
"Who said I was referring to those." Raven replied with her usual sarcastic wit wiping the chocolate from herself.
"Don't worry raven, I'll make it up to you, maybe cook you dinner tonight!" The Green titan offered helpfully. Smiling nervously.
"I'm eating out." Raven replied smugly.
"Alone." Raven cut him off.
An outraged beastboy barely had time to reply before the entire room shook violently. Lights came crashing down from the ceiling while a nearby pillar began tumbling down to earth.
"Robin! Look out!"
The boy wonder, honed by years of training, instinctively did a back flip to avoid the pillar of rock and concrete. Star blasted several pieces of debris which threatened to fall over cyborg's head.
"What's going on?" Beastboy asked, eyeing Raven.
"Don't look at me." Raven shrugged as she formed a protective shield above herself.
The Earthquake was getting increasingly violent, and soon beams from the roof were falling, one of which struck the fridge, flattening it while beast boy's leaning tower of waffles disappeared under a torrent of dust and rock.
"Aw man, I spent all morning on that." Beast boy groaned.
Raven ignored Beast boy's mournful loss of his nutritious breakfast, focusing instead on holding the beams of the building together.
Suddenly however, the Earthquake stopped.
"Cyborg, whats going on?" Robin immediately inquired.
Cyborg instinctively read the scanners attached to his right arm, the machine made a series of bleeps as it tried to locate the source of all this.
"Major earthquake resonating from out of town, by the old quarry?" He said this last exclamation with a puzzled tone.
"Alright titan's, let's move out!" Robin, thinking that some people might be needing help, automatically instructed the team.
The Old rock Quarry was abandoned for some time, from old geological reports that the caves were now unstable. Yet the team was familiar with the old quarry, having fought here against cinderblock before. But aside from that, it was a very quiet place....
The team made it there in no time, and were greeted by the ominous shapes of old rusted Machinery. Gigantic cranes which were bent unnaturally in the sun. Although it may have been a productive place once, it now resembled a junkyard in a crater. Old machinery with metal rail tracks criss crossing the tunnels inside. Some tracks were twisted from the great heat of the day.
"Anything now cy?" Robin asked inquisitively.
"No...Nothing." Cyborg vainly attempted to point his detector arm at the various tunnels, but no reading came out. "I don't get it, it was going haywire minutes ago."
Then the detector started going off, with cyborg pointing to one of the darkened caves. "Wait! I'm getting signals from the mine, several hundred meters down. Sesimic readings."
A slight chill went through Robin's spine, this was getting all too familiar.
"Slade..." He spoke outloud to no one in particular.
"Aw not this again." Beastboy grumbled, then leaned over to whisper to cyborg. "Ok, I'll distract him while you go in and hold him..."
"It's real this time! Do you think I can imagine this earthquake?"
Beast boy, surprised that robin could hear him, was taken aback. "And I thought my ears were good at hearing..."
"It could be natural you know?" Cyborg suggested.
"No, it seems...too familiar, something is wrong."
"I don't sense the presence of anyone." Raven offered helpfully. "Robin, Slade is gone." She put her hand on his shoulder helpfully. Robin bowed his head in thought. Was he wrong again?
The ground shook even more violently now, and quickly regaining his senses, robin watched as the rocks around them began shaking. Cracks began appearing on the ground as the tremors intensified.
"Whoa...!" Beastboy shouted as he fell into backwards from a huge crack that formed under him.
Then it came.
They were not new to the titans, and the team remembered them all too well the last time they tried and attacked their home. Rockets flared, sending the cylindrical shaped bodies flying even more into the air, before coming to a stop. The robot worm's drill folded back into its body, revealing a head, which contained a circular mouth full of sharp teeth, and red eyes. The worm took its time, extracting itself from the hole until it stood towering about the titans, its scanners coming to life while its laser eyes searched for any viable targets.
The titans watched all this without talking. Except for the occasional Beast Boy comment.
"Ok, so I was wrong." Beast boy said with awe at the gigantic worm, it seemed to have gotten way bigger.
"Titans! Go!" Robin shouted, throwing a cluster of explosives ball bearings at the mechanical beast.
The worm gave a great roar as the bombs exploded into a blinding flash, obscuring the titans. When the smoke cleared, they were already separated.
"Cyborg! Beast-boy! You know what to do!" Robin yelled out. "Star! Common! We'll distract it!"
The worm burrowed again, surfacing with lightning speed behind the Tamaranian. Starfire however was quicker, and she turned around, her eyes were glowing with her bright green rage.
She threw a furious barrage of starbolts at the worm, which engulfed it in a gigantic explosion that rippled throughout the quarry. The worm however, sliced its head above the smoke and hit starfire with its red laser eyes. The alien girl screamed, falling onto a broken crane, which dented as it broke her fall.
"Star!" Robin cried out.
"Do not worry! I am unharmed!" She shouted quickly, then picked up the crane and threw it at the robot, which simply swerved out of the way.
Cyborg meanwhile, latched onto the bottom of the worm's body, with beast boy transforming into an octopus to get a good grip on the Serpent's cold metallic surface.
Cyborg's arm immediately switched to a power drill and began grinding its way through the robot's thick skin.
"Almost there!" Cyborg shouted.
The worm however, was smarter this time, and it lashed its body about violently. Cyborg stopped his drill and instinctively reached for something, anything and held on for dear life.
Like a bull trying to knock off its rider, the worm circled the quarry with impressive speed, all the while shooting lasers at Raven and Starfire, who returned fire with their own powers.
"Cy! Common! I can't hold on forever!" The Green Octopus managed to squirt out.
"We gotta keep it still!" Cyborg shouted.
"I'm on it." Raven began concentrating black energy into her hands, and her eyes began glowing white. "Azerath mentrion zinthos!"
The rock wall of the quarry began collapsing now, pinning the body of the worm down as a mini avalanche buried its body, while its head tried still lashed about violently, trying to break free.
"Cyborg! Now!" Raven had deliberately guided the avalanche around the two dazed titans, who immediately began to work.
"There!" Cyborg exclaimed as his drill struck through. "Now beastboy!"
The green titan gave a nod, and immediately transformed into a rat, jumping into the circuitry of the worm to destroy the mechanical monster inside out.
It worked like a charm, less than a minute later after Beast Boy jumped out, small explosions rocked the inside of the worm's metallic body, and soon its head and body exploded in one fiery blast, burying the quarry in a hailstorm of dust and metal parts.
"Booyah! Way to go B." Cyborg roared a cheer as he high fived Beast Boy. The team settled down in the wake of the robot's destruction. They stood uneasily in the box canyon of the quarry as the dust began to settle.
"Now, if my movie senses are right, this is when the psycho bad guy makes his appearance, right there through the dust!" Beast boy instinctively pointed to the tunnels, where the remains of the burning worm lay.
Raven, although tempted to tell Beast Boy what she thought of that theory, decided that she was too mature for that, instead she settled for dropping a small piece of granite on the unsuspecting Titan's head.
"Ouch! Rave, if you didn't like my theory you could have just said so."
"I found this much more appropriate." Raven replied, starfire trying hard to suppress her laughter as a gigantic bulge began appearing on Beast Boy's Head.
"Your friend has a wily imagination." A new voice echoed from above the Quarry floor. The titan's looked out, and saw an all too familiar Silouette in the sunlight.
"Slade!" Robin gave a deathly glare.
"Glad to see that your memory hasn't suffered from my little gift Robin. But then again, you can never forget me can you?" Robin's fists clenched as he heard every meticulous and calm word ushered from Slade. There was something maddening in hearing how taunting his voice always was, like something in the back of my head.
"I knew you'd be back."
"My my, Robin, is that all you can say after all this time? Not even bothering to catch up on old times?" He gave a little snicker. "I'm hurt." Slade smirked, each word dripping with the same mocking tone that he always used. He gave the last remark just after he jumped down onto the quarry, in front of a tunnel.
"You'll be hurt all right, when I'm through with you!" Robin took out his Bo staff, and charged at the masked man.
"Robin! Wait!" Starfire cried out, flying to stop the boy wonder. Slade stood perfectly calm, and when it was evident he would not defend himself, Robin checked his advance.
The ground began trembling again.
Suddenly three more worms bursted from underneath the ground, stretching out of the ground as if reaching for the sky, before bending their heads with the scanners. It was perfectly coordinated, as the worms sprouted out of the ground just inches in front of robin, while Slade stood right where he was right in between the two worms, hands clasped behind his back.
"What are you planning this time?"
"If you are so eager Robin, then why don't you come and find out." Slade ran into the tunnel, disappearing into the shadows, leaving the Titans to contend with the three worms.
"Get ready guys." Cyborg yelled as he charged his cannon, Raven and starfire followed suit, readying their energy blasts.
The worms however, were not interested, and each began burrowing into the quarry, making tunnels of their own.
"Aw man, not again!" Beast Boy groaned.
"Are they going after our home?" Starfire asked with concern.
"No, my seismic readings indicate they are going into the mine." Cyborg reassured her.
"Besides." Robin interjected, putting his bo staff back on his belt. "Slade isn't one to try the same thing twice. He's in there, and we have to find him."
"It will be pretty hard to tackle three of those things." Cyborg commented.
"He wants us to split up." Robin continued. "He's done this in the past."
"But its not like we have a choice, we can't leave even one of those monsters alone."
"No, you are right. Raven, think you can handle one by yourself?"
"No Problem." She said with a tone of assurance.
"Good, Star, you're with me, Beast boy, cyborg, you two seem to know how to handle these worms. Try to work your way through them as fast as you can, we can't afford to stay split up for long." He nodded towards the two titans.
"Will do!" Cyborg shouted, then began running into the tunnel to catch one of the worms. Beast boy, not to get outdone, transformed into a cheetah and disappeared with Cyborg into the darkness.
"Well, that leaves two for us. Let's go." Robin pointed towards the tunnels.
"But what about Slade?" Starfire asked concernedly, "your not going after him?"
"Slade can wait." Robin replied, remembering back to how his obsession with Slade nearly killed him. "Besides, my team needs me, I can't just let you guys have all the fun."
Raven gave a nod. "Alright, what are we waiting for? Let's go!"
And so they went off, into the darkness.
"Aw man! For a 100 ton metal thingy, they can sure move fast." Beast boy huffed as he flew upwards to where the worm carved a hole in the tunnel. "Why am I letting you do this again?" he asked cyborg.
"Because I can't fly? Remember?" Cyborg said dryly.
"oh." Beast boy said in realization. "man, I wonder if the others are having better luck."
The chase had led them into a small underground chamber, where the worm had decided to stop and fight. Popping its head above the ground like one of those little moles in the wack-a-mole arcade games, it scanned the room for any presence. Raven stealthily glided behind the worm, and began chanting...
"Azerath Metrion...." The ground rumbled again, and Raven gasped in amazement as a drill came up from underneath her. She flew upwards, while detaching several boulders from the cavern to smash the worm's tail beneath her. It was obvious that these worms were improved, she had not expected the last attack.
The worm attacked again, trailing her flight path with a steady stream of lasers, which carved deep scars into the walls as she flew around the room. Then raven stopped, concentrating for this next attack.
She sliced through the air with her hands, creating two rippling blades of energy that were sent propelling toward the worm's neck. They struck, and immediately two deep cuts began forming on the Worm's body, followed by an explosion.
"Did I do it?" Raven wondered to herself out loud.
The answer came as another burst of laser fire came through the smoke. Raven barely had time to form a protective barrier as the full impact of the blast knocked her into some rocks.
This wasn't going to be easy.
"Star! Watch out!" Robin yelled a warning as he detonated the explosive he attached on the worm's back. He hoped it would work, there was enough c4 in that bomb to blow up an office building. Yet the mechanical beast came off without a scratch.
Robin grimaced, and instinctively jumped behind a rock, narrowly avoiding the lasers that the Worm fired.
"Robin!" Starfire shouted, then let loose a torrent of star bolts into the monster's back. The mechanical beast roared as if it was an annoyance, and focused on Starfire now, firing a steady laser beam that tracked her every movement.
The Tamaranian however, had planned ahead, and she flew around the ceiling of the cavern several times, dodging the lasers with relative ease as she continued her circular path.
When Starfire ended her confusing flight, she floated down to the worm's head, staring at it eye to eye. The lasers began charging, and Starfire let out a friendly smile, then pointed above the worm.
The confused worm looked up, and barely had time to react as a huge cleanly cut slab of rock fell onto it, burying the entire Chamber in smoke and dust.
"Perhaps that was too much." Starfire said, slightly embarrassed. She checked her surroundings now, where was Robin?
"Robin?" her voice echoed through the empty chamber. There was barely time to react though, for under the pile of Rocks, the worm gave a defiant roar, and soon the entire mountain of boulders exploded into a large ray of red. The battle was far from over.
"Robin?!" The concerned Tamaranian cried out. "Where are you?"
The collapsing rock had divided the chamber into two, unbeknownst to Starfire. And as the battle raged on on the other side of the Rock wall, Robin lied there, feeling as if a million needs were suddenly stabbing his throbbing head. The pain was so intense, that he could barely see straight, let alone stand, but he could hardly ignore the voice that cackled through the chamber.
"Out of Breath already Robin? Don't tell me you've gotten soft." The voice snapped from the darkness.
Robin took a second to regain his bearings, and when the cavern suddenly became clear to him, he took a deep breath. Calm down, he told himself, calm down.
"Is the little robin afraid of the dark?"
"We'll see who's afraid of what." Robin grinned, confident as ever, he took out his bo staff.
"This should make things interesting." Slade replied in his same calm and flat voice. The masked man stepped out of the shadows now. Although he was unarmed, he carried with him an air of confidence, as if he took notice to the bo staff that was gripped hard in Robin's hand.
"just like old times eh Robin?" Slade gave a mocking smirk, then ran towards the boy wonder.
"Bring it ON!"
"Stay still why don't ya!" Cyborg grunted as he pinned the worm's body against the wall. Normally this would have been physically impossible, if not for the support of a gigantic wooly mammoth which rammed the worm's body alongside the wall, pushing for dear life.
"Almost there!" Cyborg's drill stabbed deeper and deeper through the armoured plating. Man was this hard!
The worm roared as if in pain, then lashed against its captors, trying to break free. Lasers fired wildly from its eyes, causing boulders to rain down from the cavern roof.
"Comon Cy, I can't hold it forever!" Beastboy was grunting under the strain.
"Almost ....there...Got it!"
"Finally!" Beastboy said in relief, then transformed into an ant and crawled his way to the drill's opening.
With the woolly mammoth gone, the worm was now freed and began a rampage throughout the cavern, slicing through rocks in a vain attempt to locate something in its scanners, then it stopped. Beast boy was already inside in his mouse form, chewing through the random circuitry that made the robot tick. It was crashing.
Cyborg watched uneasily however, as the worm split into two parts. The head and a small portion of the body detached just as the rest of the body vanished in a bright orange flash, shaking the entire cavern in a gigantic explosion. Rocks tumbled down now, obscuring Cyborg's view of Beast boy as he escaped the explosion. He was ok, that was a relief.
More rocks fell however, and soon Cyborg's attention was diverted not to the collapsing cavern roof, but to the remaining part of the robot Worm, which slowly began deploying new sets of arms and legs from its sides, as if it were a spider now.
"Oh brother.... Give me a break."
Robin grunted as Slade quickly disarmed him, throwing him against the wall with an impact of a truck.
"You have grown weak robin, too weak. A pity that it will have to end like this." Slade's voice was cold, deathly serious.
"You won't get rid of me that easily!" Robin yelled, charging Slade as he recovered his stance. The titan's punch however, hit thin air as Slade ducked under his arm, and with lightning fast reflexes punched Robin hard in the stomach.
Robin reeled back in pain, and held his now tender stomach.
"Too slow Robin, always were."
It was all too familiar now, as if that apparation that had haunted him had come back. Robin however, needed to buy time and he began speaking, or tried to anyway, as his stomach was killing him.
"You still haven't answered my previous question Slade." Robin spat out. "Why did you come back? And why did you send me that mask?" Robin was curious about the mask that had given him those delusions months ago. Slade was a bad guy, he gave him that, but he had always treated Robin as a prize to be won, the only titan he had addressed with respect in all the times he had known them. It would seem unlikely that now all of a sudden he would want to kill him. But would he?
Slade gave a modest sardonic laugh.
"I have come to tell you robin. My offer of Apprenticeship has expired. Now, I am afraid that you represent only a threat to me, and all threats." He gripped his fist. "Must be eliminated. Starting with your pathetic little organization you call a team. Pity though, I would have enjoyed molding you into my successor."
"Still can't get over that obsession with me Slade? Why else did you lure me here?" Robin shouted with a pent up rage, a rage that he had felt ever since he saw his friends almost killed by this maniac.
"Once again Robin, you think this is all about you." Slade replied. "No Robin, my purpose is much simpler than merely luring you here. You see, I am going to destroy your team, I might as well start with you.
Robin grinned. "Are you confident you can take me down first because I'm the only one without powers?" Robin said with a confident tone as he picked up his bo staff from the ground.
"Just thought I'd take care of the brain first." Slade gave a triumphant grin, then charged robin head on.
"Sorry Slade, not today." Robin pressed a button on his belt.
Suddenly Slades charge halted, a small explosion flashed through the cave as Slade cried out in pain. Robin had managed placed some mini explosives on his neck when he pretended to miss Slade.
"Why you little...." Slade barely had time to recover when Robin rushed forward. Slade attempted to parry the bo staff but Robin was too quick. A quick thrust quickly pinned Slade against the wall and to Robin's surprise, the momentum of the Bo staff which had driven Slade into the wall had also impaled him.
Robin, taken by surprise, back away from Slade.
"Hehe, things aren't always what they seem. And now Robin, a goodbye Present." Slade quickly began laughing now, and Robin began hearing a beep originating from somewhere, and it all too quickly became apparent to him.
"You cannot escape Robin." Slade shouted, "It is over!"
Robin jumped clear of the explosion, ducking at the end of the cavern. The explosion lighted the dark tunnel clear as day, and sent several rocks slamming against the wall. The blast was so powerful, that it launched his bo Staff into the wall just inches above his head.
Following that, was a slight bump, and Robin turned to look beside him, and saw...Slade's head. Was it over?
He did not know why he was doing it, but Robin instinctively reached for the mask, anticipating who it was. He had spent countless hours theorizing himself, and had even played with the idea that he was someone he knew. But he had rejected all those explanations, as they never did seem to fit into the madman's descriptions.
Robin's hand almost trembled as he removed the mask, and his eyes widened in amazement at what he saw.
He quickly slammed the mask against the wall in rage, cracking it into a million broken pieces. He was angry, for all he saw was just a face he had seen hundreds of times before.
The cold eyes of a robot.
"A fake? What are you planning Slade...."
The blast had destroyed most of the underground chamber, and he found himself coughing above the dust, trying to find a way out of this dark dark place. He had tried hard, listening for sounds of the battle through the walls, but he had found nothing. The cavern was barely lit, perhaps a small slit of light coming from the upper levels, but aside from that, Beast Boy had to feel the rocks to navigate his way around.
"Aw man, It'll take weeks to get this stuff out of my hair, not to mention all the bruises! Stupid raven....." he muttered.
"Always the comedian, aren't we?"
Beast Boy jumped in surprise, and he couldn't believe his eyes as he spied the menacing figure standing by the tunnel entrance. Beast boy scoffed and watched as the all too familiar masked figure stepped out of the shadows.
"Oh great," Beast boy replied dryly. "are you going to be stalking ME now?"