Jump City had a problem with stray cats. Homeless people had all but disappeared, but stray cats, well, they were taking over. One of these cats, a black one, so black that all you would ever see of it that night would have been the two glowing specs of its eyes as it slipped gracefully down the street, was looking for food. Food was something that always caused problems, especially in a city as clean as Jump City. There was never any viable litter on the streets, and since garbage collection was upped to two days a week (the previous day being one of the lucky two), most of the food options for a feline without a home went down to essentially nil.
For this cat, it wouldn't really matter, though, because this cat was about to die.
The attack came from out of a darkened alley, so fast that not even the heightened senses and speed of a cat could avoid it. Before this poor cat could even understand what was going on, it was four and a half feet in the air, with a set of sharp teeth buried in its neck. It struggled for a few moments, lashing out at its attacker, but quickly lost the strength to do even that. In few moments more, it was dead, drained of its blood, and was discarded like an empty juice box in a darkened corner of the alley. Its attacker ran off into the night, satiated for another evening.
Satiated, and utterly terrified of what it was.
Just another average night in Jump City, I guess.
"Just like every night the past week. One dead cat, dried out like a strip of jerky in a fur coat." The Titans were gathered around the dead little thing, all of them feeling just a little sympathetic, but Raven still felt the need to make the sarcastic comment every now and then.
"Yeah, and just like every other time, no trace of whatever did it." Beast Boy said.
"There is nothing in the area, I have checked the entire block." Starfire said, descending from the sky. She had been combing the streets for at least an hour, and nothing, absolutely nothing. It was like the night itself came out and attacked the poor little cat. She landed next to Robin, and so the group was whole.
"Look, no offense to anyone here, but why are we doing this? I mean...Dead animal Patrol? Isn't there a car being stolen somewhere?" Cyborg was addressing Robin, but was really open to an answer from anyone.
"As much as I like black cats, I think I'd have to agree. This can't be very high on the priority list," Raven said, looking rather unsympathetically at the withered cats corpse.
"Do you not want to find the slayer of the cats? Do you not feel for them...the poor...little things?" Starfire looked on the verge of tears, Robin thought a bit extreme to be crying over this, but felt for her, nonetheless.
"Starfire's right, we need to find whoever did this. If they can do it to a cat, how long until they start doing it to people?" No one had an answer, Robin wasn't expecting one, anyway.
"Well, if you plan on catching the guy, then we need a plan. All we've done for the past six days is mop up what he leaves us. We gotta get there before he does...whatever it is he does."
"Yeah, and we'd better find the guy fast, with all these foreign digi...dimdi...
"Dignitaries." Robin corrected.
"Right, those guys."
The dignitaries to which Beast Boy referred to were in town on a peace summit. They didn't really relay any of the details to the Titans, which suited them fine, politics was something that none of the Titans were familiar with, or even cared that much about. Whoever they were, they were in town discussing a possible peace treaty for some war between two European countries. There was a short list of reasons why they picked Jump City to hold said conference, and the Titans were proud to say they were pretty high up on that list. They'd heard, though, that one of the higher ups in charge of the summit had personally picked Jump City out of a long list of candidates. Whatever, politics...boring. Still, they wanted to make an impression, so when dead, dry cats started turning up, it didn't take long for them to start investigating, however much they didn't want to.
"Are we bringing this one back to the tower?" Cyborg asked, motioning towards the cat but not touching it. Something about the whole set up he found...creepy.
"Yes, I'd like to run a few tests," Robin replied.
"You expect to find anything new?" Raven asked.
"No, not really..." Robin looked around him for a moment, "...I think we need a little more strategy here."
"Well, what do you recommend, fearless leader?" Cyborg asked. Robin thought for a moment. There was only one thing he could think of that would, perhaps, provide some results, and he was fairly certain no one was going to like it.
"We need to stake the whole city out." He got about what he expected, a sea of exasperated faces. "Look," he said, trying to get some of them on his side, "we need to put a stop to this stuff, right now, before it spills over into the streets. I don't want to see any human beings taken down by whatever's doing this. Guys, I'm sorry to say, but it's the only way." The looks continued for a moment, but slowly melted away. What replaced them was a kind of depressed resignation. Robin was right, they had to catch the guy in the act, he certainly wasn't leaving enough of himself behind to track. After Robin saw that everyone agreed with him, he continued.
"Raven, you take this area of the city." Raven nodded absently, still looking at the dead cat. Robin divided the city up amongst the Titans in a similar way. They all knew that even this was a long shot. It was, after all, a big city, and there was only five of them. Still, the plan held confidence, and at least they were doing something instead of sitting around, watching Robin bury his face in a microscope.
They all parted and went to their assigned area of the city. For Raven, this meant going nowhere, really. The only place she went was a nearby rooftop, where she was sure to have a long, long night.
It was after night fall, what time specifically Raven wasn't sure. Her communicator had a digital clock on it, but it had been at least two hours since she'd checked it. Who needed to know the time, anyway? She was there until the sun came up or she found someone who really enjoyed the taste of cats.
The pattern of attacks – that is, the places where they'd found the cats – was concentrated mostly to Raven's south, the one that had occurred that day in the alley that now lay to her right was the northernmost incident. This meant that she, if anyone, was going to see something tonight, but she might not see it where she was. She started to float slowly towards the north, scanning the ground as she went.
One thing was for sure, it was a damned slow night.
The only thing she'd seen since the sun went down was a car going at quite a clip, with one of its headlights broken. She resisted the urge to chase it down and bring it to a halt. Chasing down cat killers was low enough on the crime totem pole, she didn't need to be tailing reckless drivers, too. That, she thought, was definitely beneath her. Whatever happened to Dr. Light? He was about due to rob a bank, wasn't he?
Man, did she sound insensitive or what? She didn't want to seem like she was being an ass about the whole cat thing, certainly it was important to find who was doing this. It was easy to forget that the animals of Jump City were just as important. It's just, homeless cats...where was animal control?
Suddenly, Raven saw a form on the ground. It was a dark spot in the even darker street, but seeing things in low light had never been an issue for her. She followed the form fairly easily, and stayed a good distance away from it until she could figure out what it was. It moved fast, staying always in shadow. If it was human, it was a very odd human indeed. She kept flying, but tried to stay out of its direct line of sight. It finally came to stop in an alley, much like the one they'd found the last cat in, and Raven dissolved into the wall to sneak in for a closer look.
She came to rest behind the thing, which was still obscured by the lack of light, a black stain in the night. Raven waited. She needed to be sure that this...whatever it was was what was responsible for the deaths of those cats, and for that, well, she needed a cat. She reached out with her mind, searching the area, she knew there were lots of strays these days (in fact, she remembered once mentioning in passing that they'd make an excellent source of food for those who were so inclined. She'd been recently trying to reassure herself that that was a joke). She found one a few blocks over, and though it didn't seem to like it very much, she levitated it to just to the right of the mouth of the alley. Hopefully it would take a nice leisurely stroll in front of Raven's new friend, and Raven could solve this little mystery, and get home to a book and a warm cup of tea before she was driven totally batty.
The cat obediently started to walk in front of the alley, and the shape in the night darted out – almost too fast for Raven to see, and pressed the cat to its mouth. Ok...that was weird. Raven stepped out of the wall.
"Taste good?" She saw a small light attached to one of the buildings beside her, and used her power to turn it on. "I think you can put the cat down now, supper's over."
What the light illuminated was a small girl, no more than ten, with midnight black hair and wearing a tattered black dress. She dropped the cat and it ran away, but she didn't turn around.
"Turn, slowly." Raven said, raising her hands in self defence. When the girl turned, she had the biggest, bluest eyes Raven had ever seen. She was also sad, Raven could tell. It was as if at any moment she might burst into tears. The most striking thing about her, though, were her teeth, or rather the two Raven could see, long and pointy slipping out of the sides of her mouth, with a fresh coat of blood slowly dripping from their tips.
Suddenly, the girls expression changed, from sadness, to rage. Her eyes went from sapphire blue to blood red, her mouth opened to let out an almost reptilian hiss, and she started to stalk towards Raven.
"Stay...stay back! I don't want to hurt you!" Raven said, but what she was really worried about was herself. She expected little of that night, but being scared was not something she was prepared for. "I'm warning you...!"
The girl lunged through the air, baring her hideous fangs to the world.