I don't own the Teen Titans, though I sure wish I did. Or maybe just a pair of hot Tamaranian Princesses to give me a 'bath.' Yum-yum. Anyone who tries to sue me won't walk away with more than my entire life savings. Which, since I'm a poor college student and a freelance camera-man, isn't much. Five piestas at most.
Several years after the defeat of Trigon, a new enemy has arisen to battle the Titans. Tartarus. An organization dedicated and trained to bring about their downfall. Named after the mystical prison from Greek myth where the Titans languished. And now, the Titan's worst and most terrible of enemies united under a single name. When the Titans are beaten by their seemingly unstoppable foes, can they muster the willpower and skill necessary to stave off disaster? Or is the world, and it's young heroes, doomed? Takes place four to five years after the events of 'The End.' Rated R for graphic violence, intense romance, some adult themes, and a curse word here and there. Just for future reference the Titans ages for this story are: Robin 21, Cyborg 20, Starfire 19, Raven 19 and Beastboy 18. Not quite the kids we knew and loved in the animated series, now they're a little more grown up.
Jump City was a thriving metropolis on the edge of the west coast. A wealthy and prosperous city it was also known for being, for the most part, crime-free. Most criminals weren't dumb enough to commit a crime. Not after nearly a whole decade of being watched by their resident superheroes. The Teen Titans. However, as with all things, exceptions exist.
The blaring alarm went off in short, piercing bursts before a large fist slammed into the control system and it managed one weak, dying cry before it fell silent. The fist, a giant-sized collection of two fingers and thumb, was composed solely of energy. Pure electricity given shape and form and strength by the central processing unit with the glowing red eye in the center of his head, serving as the eye of the behemoth who stood there, before the alarm. Like his fist, his arm was composed also of pure energy, as was the rest of his body. His bones, a denser, darker bluish-white energy, were clearly visible beneath his electrical skin and flesh. This was Overload.
"Stupid alarm," muttered the electronic supervillain.
The nine foot tall Overload stood just inside the electronics store, right beyond the shattered window. Shattered, of course, because he'd just smashed his enormous fist through it. That was what set off the alarm. Before him now lay all the electronics he could possibly want, unprotected and unguarded. It was late, the store was closed and the employees were long gone. All the computers, the stereos, all the delicious technology and electricity... all for him.
And, he added mentally, his master. His black on red CPU eye glowed red as he stepped over the broken glass and joined Overload.
Glass crunched under the heavy boot as this new figure entered the electronics store, along with a heavy iron 'clang.' In the shadows of the dark store, the figure could barely be made out as a robed man of average height, armed and armored, particularly by a pair of heavy metal gauntlets and boots and a thick, wide belt. The image of a horned skull adorned the man's breastplate. The man's silhouette showed a receding hairline of grayish hair, being swept back into two devil's horns on either side of his head. His eyes glowed crimson in the shadows.
"Excellent work, Overload," intoned the figure as he held up his hand and conjured a crimson ball of fire in his hand, illuminating him fully. And it seemed, he was not armored at all. The armor was his skin, the gauntlets his hands. Half man and half machine, he seemed to be. What was human was primarily the lower half from the waist down, including his hips and his legs and his feet. His arms were normal from the shoulder to elbow, but below that they were mechanical, ending in steel-tipped claws. Half of his face, the left half, was metallic, the eye a glowing infrared orb. The right was a sickly pale skin with an equally crimson orb set deep into his skull, glowing with an inner fire. No hair graced his head any longer, the gray swept back features of his metal head were designed to resemble hair. His expression was one of deep-set annoyance, his jaw line hard with a near-constant arrogance.
His name... was Brother Blood.
"Grab everything and move quickly," he barked at Overload.
The gigantic entity's eye glowed a bright red, matching the hue of Blood's. Oh it struggled a plenty against it's new master, but Blood had been able to control it's mind with little difficulty. Human or machine, either were controllable with it's mental powers now. Only those of powerful spirit possessed the ability to defy him. Like the Teen Titans. And one Titan in particular. But Overload was no difficulty.
Obeying it's masters order, the great behemoth made its way forward, scooping up great racks of technology, computers and CD players, electronics and cables and the like, scooping them up into it's crackling frame of electricity. Absorbing them into it's body until it was a pulsing mass of blue-white energy and silver-grey mechanics.
Brother Blood stepped past him as he worked, intent upon their true objective. Making his way to the opposite end of the store, he opened up the storage room and made his way inside, grinning as he spotted the small vault on the floor, holding the money from the register. That he did not care for, though he would take the money anyway (his funds were beginning to run low). What he truly care for was inside, and with one swift gesture he reached down and, using only a minimum of five percent of his strength, tore the door of the vault and hurled it casually over his shoulder. A grin split his lip as he beheld what lay within. The money, neatly placed in large bills and bundled up, rested on the bottom half of the vault. While on a second level above the first rested the object he desired. A computer chip, silver-white with splashes of blue, the size of a quarter. To Brother Blood, it was invaluable. It was perhaps his key to victory, if all went according to plan.
Such a valuable thing shouldn't have been left in such an unguarded location. But that had been precisely the point. The company that had manufactured the chip could find no security system, no stronghold safe enough to store it. So they erased all knowledge of it's existence, swore their employees to secrecy, and hid it here, in Jump City, in an electronics store. Not a bad idea. But they hadn't counted on Blood's newfound connection to the digital age. And even a deleted e-mail could be retrieved if one knew how to do it. The chip would, once properly inserted into the back of his steel, computerized skull, allow him to hack into any system on Earth. Bank accounts, credit cards numbers, e-mails, passwords. All of it and more would be at his fingertips. He shivered, almost able to taste the power that would be at his fingertips with such a single tiny chip in his hands. And so he slowly reached in to take it, stretching out his steel claws...
When a sudden cry of pain rang through the store, and Blood whipped his head around just in time to see Overload go flying through the air to strike the wall just beside the door to the storage room. He stood in an instant, standing in the doorway, as Overload fell to the ground and sat up, rubbing his head in pain. Blood didn't care in the least about his minion, his gaze shot past him, taking in the ones who'd sent him hurling through the air in the first place.
And there they stood, one in the doorway, the other just before the broken glass window.
The first one, in the frame of the doorway, was a smallish fellow, barely come up to Blood's chin (an average sized individual) clad in purple and black spandex which engulfed his thin, almost gangly frame from his toes all the way to his neck. A pair of overly large gray-white gloves covered his hands and an equally large boots covered his feet, seemingly too big for him. A gray belt was slung across his hips. He was completely green. Hair, eyes, skin, everything was some shade of green, save the whites of his eyes and the sharp fangs which protruded from his lips, curled up in a sneer as they regarded Brother Blood. He couldn't have been more than eighteen or so.
The second figure, the larger one, was a face and form Blood knew all too well. It haunted him. It irritated him to no end. Like his own visage, the left half was an image of mechanized steel and the right was human flesh. Unlike Brother Blood, however, this figure sported a silver-white metal finish, with blue circuitry, as opposed to the crimson that Blood used. The right side of his face, the human side, was dark-skinned, young and could almost be considered handsome, were it not marred by the machinery of the left side. His mechanical eye also glowed red, like Blood's, but it was a soft, duller red, a more peaceful sort, almost. His eye, on the other side, was completely human, a dull grayish-brown in color. There were other differences too. The young man stood about as tall as Blood, if wider-shouldered and covered almost head-to-toe in machinery that made up ninety percent of his body. Only part of his head and his arms were human anymore, at least that could be seen, beneath the armored skin was a mystery to most.
Beastboy and Cyborg.
Blood hated them.
"Nice to see you again Blood," said Cyborg amiably, flexing his great mechanical fist, idly cracking his knuckles with the other in a show of strength. Then, sparing the barest of glances towards the fallen Overload, he added "Nice company you're keeping these days... what, did you run out of HIVE underlings to boss around?"
Blood growled darkly, his features twisted by hate. If looks could kill, Cyborg would've been flash-fried in an instant by the hate-filled gaze Blood was giving him. As it was, he didn't so much as flinch. He'd seen worse from his housemate Raven whenever she ran out of her herbal tea. Now that was scary.
"Overload! Destroy them!" roared Blood, thrusting out his hand and pointing his sharp claw at the Titans.
"Overload destroy!" responded the hulking behemoth, pushing itself to it's feet and charging towards the two Titans, lashing out with both it's electrical arms, which stretched and morphed like whips. Beastboy and Cyborg dodged aside, Beastboy rolling onto the ground and Cyborg slamming hard into the wall, using it to help him stay upright as he dodged the electrical lash.
Beastboy shifted as he rolled, going into the dive a green-skinned man and emerging from it a great tiger with black and green stripes. He gave out a roar as he charged at Overload, slashing at it's leg and tearing away some of the electronic components that had been absorbed into it's leg. Overload, though pained, was not seriously hurt and lashed out again at the green-skinned metamorph, who leapt backwards. His initial attack was only a distraction. A blast of blue-white energy shot through the air, slamming hard into Overload's chest and sending him flying through the air once more to slam into the far wall beside Brother Blood.
"Curse you!" shouted Blood, though the verbal assault was aimed primarily at Cyborg more than Beastboy. The two had a long-standing history. One that was filled with conflict.
Blood filled his steel clawed hand with red fire and leapt forward, hoping to tear off Cyborg's head and take it home as a trophy for his trouble, but Cyborg neatly side-stepped, having anticipated the move, and spun around, his mechanical body moving as fluidly as a living man's to slam his armor-plated elbow right into Blood's back, sending him flying through the broken window and out into the street, narrowly missing a car as it zoomed past, swerving to avoid the former HIVE Headmaster.
Cyborg stepped out into the street, slowly, deliberately, in somewhat of a relaxed stance. Unlike their previous encounters, it was clear that he had no fear of Blood. No apprehension. It made the crimson-eyed hypnotist's blood boil with fury.
"I'll destroy you, Cyborg! I'll strip you down to your wires!" he shouted, his still-human mouth foaming as Blood spat venom at his former student and arch-enemy. Cyborg regarded him as he would the wind on his face. As an irritation and nothing more.
"Just come peacefully Blood," he said. "You can't win. I know you're running on empty."
"You know nothing, insolent child!" roared Blood, leaping forward and spinning in mid-air, lashing out with his foot. Cyborg's arm shot up in an instant to block the strike aimed for his head, but made no move to counter-attack. It would've been too easy. He could tell. Already he could see for himself Blood was visibly fatigued since their last battle, nearly eight full months ago. Back when he'd tried take over an orphanage of "gifted" children, metahumans really, and teaching them to grow up like him. He'd failed, of course. The Titans broke it up. Back then, Blood had been working in secret. He'd had a chance to construct the necessary things he needed to keep his body going.
But when they'd sent him back to the prison in Steel City, the Titans kept Blood on minimum power on a near constant basis. One way of keeping him under control. He couldn't go far before his power cell died and he'd shut down.
Already Cyborg could see that Brother Blood was losing energy. His bright red highlights, his circuitry, was dimming, and soon it would turn black and lifeless. Blood, however, was clinging to life and consciousness, fueled by his anger and his hated of the Titans.
Blood lashed out with his hand, covered in bright red fire, and managed to slash across Cyborg's cheek this time as he blocked an instant too late. Cyborg retaliated by grabbing Blood's arm and hurling him over his shoulder, throwing him against the wall of the electronics store. However, Blood had anticipated the move, flipping gracefully end over end to land on his feet. Which reminded Cyborg that, though nearly beaten, Blood was still a dangerous opponent. His particular design allowed for a greater use of agility, and beyond that he was a skilled martial artist, easily the equal of Slade or Robin. He wouldn't go down easily.
Cyborg smirked, shifting his right arm into the infamous sonic cannon that had been the doom of many evil-doers, taking aim at Blood. He, on the other hand, wouldn't go down. Period. End of sentence.
A great grunt and a crash of yet more glass interrupted the two combatants, however, as the great crackling mass of electricity that was Overload came crashing through the opposing window of the electronics store, smashing into the ground hard enough to crack the pavement. The few cars out on the road screeched to a halt at the sight of the unexpected roadblock, citizens and residents of Jump City paused to watch, though at a respectful distance. Many had learned by now not to get too close when a Titan was fighting.
Overload groaned, struggling to lift his head, but failed, collapsed, and it's body dissipated, electricity no longer given shape as it simply shut down. The stolen electronics, including the necessary components Blood would have needed to power himself, fell to the ground, along with the single CPU that was Overload's core. The red on black eye closed as he completely shut down.
Cyborg and Blood, still staring one another down, saw this out of the corner of their eyes, still focused primarily on one another.
That, of course, was when Beastboy re-joined them, leaping gracefully up and over the broken glass of the second window and landing beside Overload, grabbing the villain's CPU up in his hand and tossing it up into the air once before catching it in his hand. He smirked his characteristic Beastboy grin, his fangs showing over his lips, as he slowly, deliberately, made his way to stand beside Cyborg. No words were spoken, but the message was quite clear.
Two against one.
Blood's right eye, his living eye, twitched with barely suppressed fury. His other eye shined brightly, blinking as he accessed information. Specifically, concerning just how much power he had left. The result was enough to seriously ruin his day. He has less than six minutes on full power, twenty on half-power, which wouldn't be nearly enough to defeat both of them. So he'd lost his minion, the technology to keep himself going, the chip and, worse of all... his dignity.
"This is not the end, Cyborg...!" he roared angrily, filling his hand with bright red lightning and tossing a quick bolt as Cyborg, who knocked it aside with his cybernetic arm. However, the attack had been enough to give Blood the moments he needed to make his way down the nearby alleyway and run for all his legs were worth.
Beastboy, predictably, shook his head, even as he glanced over to make sure Cyborg hadn't been hurt by the attack. "What am I, chopped liver? I was standing here too you know!"
Cyborg didn't reply, he took off running down the alleyway after Blood. Beastboy followed after him, leaping forward and shifting gracefully into the body of a green cheetah, keeping pace with his buddy as they pursued Brother Blood's red and black form down alleyways.
Beastboy and Cyborg had little doubt they'd catch Brother Blood. He was fast but so were they, and he'd tire sooner or later. Cyborg, on the other hand, could run for three days straight with his legs showing the least bit of strain. And his power cell, unlike Blood's, was full. He'd recharged only the week before. Still, Blood wasn't going to make it easy for them. He ran down alleyways and ducked to and fro between buildings and into the street, weaving in and out of traffic in an effort to lose the Titans, though he nearly got himself killed in the process.
Cyborg, however, was worried. Brother Blood was growing desperate. Someone might get hurt if they pushed him too far, so he needed to take him down now. His right arm shifted back into the sonic cannon, as he took aim while he ran, his left eye forming a cross-hair as he locked onto Blood's leg, simultaneously shifting the power setting on his sonic cannon to drop down to a bare minimum. He didn't want to blow Blood's leg off at the knee, after all. Just knock him off balance and give them a chance to capture him.
Cyborg's crosshairs lit up as he obtained his target. And just like a missile lock on an F-16, you couldn't shake him once he had you in his sights.
He was about to pull on the imaginary trigger (he had to think it, really) and fire off the sonic cannon when an explosion shook the street and sent Beastboy and Cyborg stumbling from the aftershocks. A nearby building, previously having been sitting quite innocently to the side, had exploded in an instant, fire and rock rushing out in all directions. Cyborg threw up an arm to protect himself and, without thinking, stepped in front of Beastboy as well. Still, it seemed after the initial explosion that no more were worth coming, and he could better assess the situation.
His eyes opened wide as the sign previously hanging above the door to the shop swung crazily on a single chain, then that too snapped and the sign came crashing down into the pavement.
The sign read "Veterinary Clinic."
And Beastboy had seen it too. Without hesitation he turned and ran towards the clinic, heedlessly plunging into the fire engulfed building to see if there was anyone he could help. Human or animal, he didn't care, he'd get them all out one way or another, heedless of the danger to himself. Cyborg lost sight of him after Beastboy bounded over the broken doorway and into the building.
Cyborg, as eager as the next Titan to help those in need, hesitated, taking one look down the street where he'd been running. Brother Blood was getting further away by the minute, and more than anything else, Cyborg wanted to go after him. Not just because of what he'd done (and he'd done a lot, both to the world in general and to Cyborg on a personal level) but what he could do. If he got away, there was no telling how much damage he could do before they caught him again.
But they could always catch a villain another day. Lives, once lost, could not be restored.
Biting back a curse, Cyborg made his way into the burning veterinary clinic, just as a giant green gorilla emerged, carry a young blonde woman under one hairy arm and a small dog under another. Both were unconscious. Cyborg took them both, gently placing them on the ground beside the burnt store as Beastboy knuckled back in and giving them a quick scan with his cybernetic eye. Both were fine, they'd passed out from smoke inhalation but suffered not bruises or burns. And Cyborg could already hear fire engines on their way. Cyborg gently reached down, tilting the girl's head back so oxygen could reach her lungs more easily. He didn't know what he could do for the dog. He knew only a little about human anatomy as it was, next to zip about canine.
"Cyborg! That's the last of them!" shouted Beastboy, as he leapt from the second-story of the building and gracefully landed in a crouch, coming over to join his teammate and the innocents. "How are they?"
"They're gonna be fine, BB..." he said, standing back up. He stared with a mixture of regret and anger in the direction Blood had fled.
"Don't worry dude, we'll get him next time," said Beastboy, coming up beside Cyborg. His tone too was soft, with subdued anger and a little regret that they hadn't been able to catch the bad guy. He too, hated Blood, as he hated all villains, but he couldn't understand how deeply Cyborg disliked him. Or maybe, in a sense, he could. Blood had gone in deep and really gotten under Cyborg's skin when he'd stolen his blueprints and everything about him without any remorse. Beastboy had, briefly, felt the same way when he'd been betrayed by the earth-shaking metahuman Terra, who he'd opened his heart to. Before he'd realized just how messed up she had been. What she'd done... had been entirely out of spite. Or uncaring.
A sudden inhalation of breath caught their attention, and Beastboy gently bent over the young veterinarian who was gasping for breath, sucking in oxygen into her starved lungs and clutching her chest. He gently placed a hand on her back, trying to keep her calm. That was most important now.
"Hey, relax... I gotcha... you're gonna be fine," he said, in soothing tones. He too, could hear the sirens coming. Ambulances as well as fire trucks, likely. Beastboy gently patted the tall girl's back as she started to cough, helping her clear her lungs. The dog was on it's own, but it had managed to escape relatively unscathed. It's owner, who'd been just down the street in another building for an appointment, had been delighted to have it returned. Beastboy stayed by the blonde woman's side until the ambulances arrived and some properly equipped and trained individuals took her away. And he saw her smile as she vanished behind the closed doors of an ambulance.
She hadn't been half-bad looking either.
Beastboy smiled to himself, shook his head. "Pity I'm taken," he muttered with little remorse under his breath, turning back towards Cyborg. They'd best be heading back towards Titan's Tower, since their job here was done. They could track down Blood later. Robin probably already knew exactly where he was. He was good at that sort of thing, after all. Cyborg and Beastboy were just the heavy hitters, Robin was the brains of the team.
Cyborg, however, was peering up at the structure with a curious expression on his face, ignoring his green-skinned little buddy.
Why did this building suddenly explode? he wondered.
Query. Fuel lines in the back of a veterinary clinic could have ruptured, resulting in combustion of the lines and the explosion.
Sounded reasonable enough. Under any other circumstances, Cyborg might not have questioned it.
But as he glanced down the street where Blood had fled... he wondered.
For future reference, regular writing is for regular, "text" is for dialogue, italicized text is for inner dialogue or, more rarely, telepath, and bold text is for Cyborg's and Brother Blood's computerized thoughts. Most of the references to Brother Blood involved his prior appearances in 'Deception,' 'Wavelength,' and 'Titan's East.' The reference to him brainwashing children was comic inspired by the seventh Brother Blood (whom the animated version seems to be based primarily upon) and will become more deeply involved in the later plot of the story. Overload comes from 'Car Trouble,' and 'Aftershock' and was mostly used here as a throwaway villain. Blood's losing power was a reference to 'Sum of his Parts' where Cyborg remarked he had to keep replacing his power cell every so often unless he wanted to shut down. Steel City is the home of Titan's East (animated, at least) and was seen as the backdrop in the episode of the same name. The idea to make the vet a blonde was inspired by the Terra character and by Beastboy's flirting in 'Every Dog has his Day.' He seems to like the hair color. I will leave his comment about 'being' taken unexplained until later, though long-time fan of my stories (and Teen Titans in general) can doubtlessly surmise who it is with little difficulty. Next time: the real enemy is revealed, and Blood finds that his legacy is both blessing and curse.