"Come on Raven, wake up!" The sound registered before anything else, but it was too far away to tell who was actually talking. There was a siren blaring, and it would be another few moments before Raven realized that it was sounding off from inside her head, not outside.
"Raven, please get up..." It was Beast Boy she thought, speaking to her through the darkness and the screaming noise.
"Beast Boy, give her time. It looks like she's taken a good knock."
"I know...her eye..." It was then that she attempted to lift the lids of her eyes, and found that one of them was not going to listen. Her good eye creaked open painfully, but it was nothing but a blur she saw, like looking through an aquarium. There was a green blob floating in front of her, and it was speaking. Though she still couldn't see, she knew it was Beast Boy.
"Uhh..." She tried to sit up but her head spun furiously and she fell back.
"Careful," the green blob said, and she felt the weight of a hand on her shoulder. "You might have a concussion." She tried to speak, but the words got lost somewhere between her brain and her mouth.
"I think she's down for the day guys...someone roughed her up pretty good." That was Cyborg, she thought. And she thought that if he was referring to her, he was probably right.
"What's that on her wrist?" Someone (She couldn't place who this time) asked.
"No idea. Certainly doesn't match her usual fashion sense though," Robin said. She tried to open her eyes again, and again one was largely unresponsive. When all she could see was the same underwater blob, she closed her eyes again. She felt a hand lay a comforting stroke along the top of her head, but was too far away to register it.
The group, meanwhile, was trying to figure a way out of the cell they'd been so unceremoniously thrown into over two hours before. They'd put up a good fight, but against such odds they didn't last long. They came through it better than Raven had, so it seemed, and they hadn't even seen that girl Cerise since they'd thrown an unconscious Raven into the cell about a half hour ago.
"Starfire, any luck with the bars?"
"No...they are unresponsive to my powers. Too strong to melt through or bend."
"They were expecting this...I'd bet anything that bracelet Raven is wearing is designed to block her powers." It was a large step Robin had just taken, but the group knew better than to question him, when it came to deducing things from very little, Robin was bested only by one man (and he was nowhere close to that cell at the time).
They looked at the bracelet for a moment. It was metal and had a lock on it, but the most striking feature about it was a strange, engraved symbol which almost glowed. One look, and yes, Robin was probably right. Why else would those vampires put it on her?
"Beast Boy, how is she?" Beast Boy looked down at her, he had her head supported in his lap, and was doing his best to comfort her.
"Not good..." She was still trying to get her eyes to open her eyes, but couldn't do much more than flutter the good one open for a moment or two.
"I don't know how much damage was done, but I think it's bad. Whoever hit her wasn't human."
"No, we know that," Robin said.
"Here, hang on a sec," Cyborg said. He started looking at a screen on his forearm and swept his arm over Raven's head in a slow arc.
"She's got a bad concussion, and the orbital bone of her right eye is fractured. She...might have brain damage, but I can't tell for sure." Cyborg spoke very solemnly, and continued to look at the screen on his arm for a few moments longer before pressing a button and sitting up against the wall. "She's in bad shape guys, she needs an emergency room, and soon." Beast Boy ran his fingers through her violet hair.
"Come on Raven, you gotta wake up..." Her only response was a small moan.
"We gotta get out of here..." Robin said. His attention had been drawn to the lock on the door. They'd taken away all his gadgets when they threw him in, but he'd been taught to pick locks with just about anything. For example, it was Houdini who discovered that most handcuffs could be opened by applying pressure to certain areas above or around the locking device. It was Batman who extrapolated that fact into a working theory that stated that most locks, of any make or model, will pop open if you hit them hard enough in the right spot. Robin balled his fist and took a swing at the spot that he – having been trained for endless hours on such things – thought might be that one trick spot on this lock that would break it open. What he got was a massive electrical shock, which sent him flying in the other direction. The group all looked at him with stunned fascination as he stood and rubbed the back of his head.
"They got bars srtong enough to keep Starfire in, they beat Raven down and gave her some funky bracelet that hexes her powers, and you thought punching the door would get us out?" Cyborg said, and a similar sentiment was written on both Starfire and Beast boys faces.
"...It was worth a shot..." Robin said with a shrug .
A few moments later two of the men in the black suits appeared out of the darkness on the other side of the bars.
"Grab the witch, Master wishes to speak with her," one of them said to the other. All of them knew they were speaking about Raven, and they all turned to look at her. She'd still barely moved, her black eye looked more swollen every second, and she was in no condition to be moved. Beast Boy moved both his hands to her shoulders, in a vein attempt to protect her.
"She needs a doctor! Can't you see that?" He yelled at them as they sorted through a bunch of things on a ring. They must have been keys, but they looked more like the small remote's people used to get into their cars. The two men didn't say anything to Beast Boy's protests. As soon as they got into the cell, Robin fired out with a punch that bounced off the first ones chest like a wadded up ball of paper.
One of them seized him by the throat before he could get the words out.
"If any of you so much as move, I will snap his neck like a twig." They all backed down.
"Now, Green one, let her go, or your friend will leave this cell in a box." It was with a certain amount of will power that Beast Boy pulled himself away from Raven. His last thoughts were of her physical condition.
Brain damage...she might never wake up...
The one who held Robin raised him off the ground and through him like a rag doll against the back wall of the cell.
"Sleep tight, Titans." They locked the door and each took one of Raven's arms, letting her hang limply between them as they dragged her away. Starfire bent over and tended to Robin as he coughed and spluttered. Beast Boy made a last ditch lunge at the bars, but was shocked away by the same electrical charge that floored Robin minutes before.
"Woah, steady there, BB," Cyborg said, walking over and helping him up. He didn't say anything, just looked into the shadows as the two mens silhouettes slowly disappeared.
"Wake up, my dear," was the next voice Raven heard. She'd vaguely registered the exchange between the two vampires and the rest of the Titans, and even less vaguely felt them dragging her to wherever she now was. She felt able to open her eyes, at least with more confidence than her last attempt. Slowly she did, and found that she was in a very dimly lit room, and the voice that had just spoken to her belonged to a tall, lanky man whom she immediately recognized as the dignitary that had called the Titans away the previous night. Her head was still swimming, and any attempt at speech was getting absolutely nowhere.
Across from her there was a large mirror, which stood at least eight feet high, and five across. In it she could see her arms were suspended over her head in large, clunky looking manacles, and suspended her just high enough that if she stood her toes would barely brush the ground. Slowly, she began to feel all the sensations such a position would garner; the pulling of her shoulders, the lack of ground beneath her feet, but always there was the soup in her head that made the world a much more confusing place.
"My men have treated you badly...hmmm, I suppose it could not be helped. Still..." He leaned in and kissed her cheek, she tried to flinch away from it but the way she was held in place, and her general state of health prevented such an action. His touch sent off a flare of pain, he'd kissed her at just the spot where the fist had contacted her cheek, she thought. A second or so after he did it, though, she felt her head begin to clear, and when she looked again at her reflection in the mirror (she was a little surprised to discover that he too, had a reflection, and decided then to forget everything she thought she knew about vampires) the bruise which dominated the right side of her face was receding, and soon disappeared all together. His touch has healed her, but why he had bothered she had no idea. Didn't matter, now she had her chance.
"Azerath Metrion Zinthos!" She watched as a spectacular lot of nothing happened. That, she thought, was a little weird.
"Azerath metrion zinthos? Hmmm, interesting." The man...Ivanovich? Said. "I suppose you don't even know what that means, do you?"
"It's a prayer, my mother taught it to me." She said with a voice full of anger and determination.
"Oh yes, the whore," he said casually. The words stung Raven. Before she could say anything against them (and yes, she very much wanted to) Ivanovich went on talking.
"Yes, a prayer, but what do the words mean. What is it you are saying, child?" At that Raven said nothing, as far as she knew they were words that had no English equivalent.
"Yes, I thought so. We have much to discuss, I see. First, though, I think I must introduce myself." He walked close to her, and stood straight up.
"My name is Sebastian St. Fleure, though I suppose you think my name Ivanovich. Wasn't my act a good one?"
"The accent could have used some work..." Raven said with restraint.
"Hmmmm...perhaps," Sebastian said, smiling. He turned away from her and walked into the short distance, where for the first time she noticed an easel set up next to a window. He picked up a brush and started to paint as he spoke.
"I suppose you are wondering why you are here, Ms. Raven?" He said, but before she had a chance to answer, he continued. "You are the culmination of quite a long search, my dear. We vampires have been pouring over all matter of text trying to find you."
"What's so important about me!" Raven uttered, struggling against her restraints. He still never looked from his painting once.
"You are the one, aren't you? The vampire with all of the advantages and none of the set backs. Access to more power than I'm sure even you know the true scope of, and yet you need not skulk the back streets like a dog to find a rat to feed on. A vampire without bloodlust. You really have no idea how important that is."
"I'm no vampire!"
"No, I suppose not, not in the strictest sense, anyway." He put his brush down and turned to face her. "But then again, you really don't know what a vampire is, do you?" She made no reply. "A vampire is nothing more than a human being with just a touch of demon in them. It is the blood, you see..." He was pacing the room as he spoke. "Our blood is, for lack of a better word, infected. Our very hearts are the hearts of demons, and the blood that pumps through them is utter poison. That's why we have to drink so much of the stuff. Replenish the supply." He had, by then made his way back to his easel, and picked up his brush again.
"But you don't have that little imperfection. You," he looked over his shoulder, and smiled. "With you it's rather the opposite." He blotted his brush into a new colour nad started to apply it to the page. Raven realised then, with what must have been revulsion, that he was painting her, there as she was, chained up. "With you, your entire body is that of a demon, at least in a way. If you were to ever let him out for some air...shame really. The only thing about you that is truly human is your heart. I suppose you could say it's your mother's greatest gift. It keeps you grounded."
"What's your point!"
"Ahh, a great question! Why have I bothered to come up with such an elaborate plan to sneak my entire coven of vampires into your little city, and imprison you and your little friends?" Raven thought about what he'd just said, then realised the gravity of it. There was no foreign war, all the dignitaries were just vampires masquerading. She was in a hotel that was just full of vampires, and the idea didn't sit well with her at all.
"You," Sebastian continued, "are our way out of these imperfect bodies. The answer to our little imperfection. Along with that harpy of a daughter of mine, you will bring about the vampire apocalypse. The death of the entire human race." The mention of Cerise snapped all of Raven's thoughts to her (The death of all humans was a revelation so huge that it must have gone completely over her head).
"What have you done to her?"
"Cerise? Oh, she will be out later, put on a little show for me and mine like usual. Figure we'd get at least one more night out of her before we killed her." Raven pulled as hard as she could against the shackles that held her, but they wouldn't give, and Sebastian had somehow restrained her from using her powers.
"Hmmm, perhaps you would do well to read up on this little party we are about to have. I, after all, have a painting to finish, and it is so difficult to explain...here." He waved his hand in the air and a book flew over to him (surrounded by a familiar black glow).
"I can permit you the small use of your powers to keep this aloft and turn its pages. You seem to me to be the type who enjoys reading dusty old tomes like this, so enjoy yourself. Just raise your hand when your finished." He looked up at her shackled hands, stretched towards the ceiling.
"Oh, right...forgive me." He started to laugh, a high, shrill laugh which made Raven's hair stand up. She was more mad than she could remember being for the longest time. Here she was confronted with the very man that had so scared Cerise, and she could do nothing. Every word he said infuriated her, but she was powerless to stop him. Well, mostly powerless, he was right when he said she'd be able to levitate the book, which she did. If he was allowed to gain knowledge, she would, it would be required if she planned on stopping whatever was to come.
With the pain in her shoulders nearing apocalyptic levels, she started to read.