Yellow and white lights shifted after each other in parallel lines where the train was crossing the tracks. The clacking sound of metal scraping metal continued for a few minutes until the train slid away. Behind the warehouse, five teenagers crouched on the ground in fighting positions.
Robin raised a gloved hand and glanced down at his communicator. "Twenty three more seconds to go," he said softly. He closed the lid of the compact and slipped it back into his pocket.
"Remember the strategy, Titans. Raven, you-"
"-Use my powers to remove the hinges of the doors," she said calmly. Robin nodded and turned to Beast Boy. "While Raven's getting through the front. . ."
"Right. Star and I fly onto the roof and de-activate the security," he added.
"And I'll work on cutting off the main power circuit," Cyborg finished up, holding a glowing red tool in his metallic hand.
"Great. I'll be coming in around the back and working my way to the central control station where we should all meet in exactly eight minutes." Robin took a deep breath to assure that the plan would go smoothly.
The next train whistled along the tracks in time to the whistling sound of the wind.
Raven's blue boots touched the floor just before she thrust her hands out to the door. Her amethyst eyes glowed white as she chanted the command. The hinges on the giant gates turned from silvery gray to stark black. With a flick of her hands, the nuts and bolts clattered to the ground. Raven glanced up just to see a green bird and a tall girl in purple float up to the roof.
Cyborg popped open a hand-sized door that was drilled into the side of the wall and began to poke and pry through the mess of wires.
"Good work, team. I'm going in," Robin announced.
"Careful, Rob," Cyborg warned over his shoulder. "There's no telling what Slade's up to this time."
Robin's optimistic attitude was dampened by the mention of the team's primary villain and Robin's personal enemy. Instinctively, his teeth clenched together.
"I'll be waiting for him," he muttered. The Teen Wonder stepped up to the door and drove his staff against the center. It fell down with a loud clanking noise. Robin ran into the dark warehouse, shadows quickly concealing his bright uniform.
Somewhere inside, Robin's image was thrown onto the screen of a hidden camera. A single black eye was watching him with interest.
"I'm waiting for you as well," a voice muttered.
A sharp clicking noise interrupted Robin's concentration. A troop of black drones had quickly closed in on him, hunched over and ready to attack. Without a warning they charged towards Robin, all twelve, ready to tear him to pieces. Robin just smirked-a piece of cake.
The staff lashed out, knocking the head off of one droid. Robin jumped into the air, landing on the shoulders of another. The staff went in one direction while his feet went into the other. More droids were knocked right and left. They hit the walls just before crumpling to the ground in haphazard piles of metal.
A blinding flash of light burst overhead, causing Robin to blink and the rest of the droids to withdraw. He heard a strange popping sound and saw bubbles of bright light swimming in front of him, as if a hundred flash bulbs had gone off at once. Robin sputtered and waved a hand in front of his face to clear his vision. His mask hadn't blocked the ability to see. So what was causing this illusion?
The strobe lighting stopped just as soon as a metallic shuttering sound began.
Robin looked up and gasped. A round circular device was descending from the ceiling at an alarming rate; aiming right at Robin.
Before he could even move, there was a final brilliant flash of light, brighter than all the rest.
Then a painful blow to the head.
"Owww," he groaned, turning over in bed. Robin felt as if someone had used his skull as a football and placed dumbells on each of his eyelids. There was no other way to describe the throbbing pain in his head. He pulled the covers over his head to block out any slips of sunshine.
I must've blacked out. I hope the Titans are all right, he thought.
"Rise and shine, sleepy head!" a woman's voice chirped from somewhere. The curtains parted with a swoosh allowing the room to be flooded in yellow paint-like sunbeams.
Robin squinted to shield his eyes from the brilliance and he rubbed them with his fists to clear his vision. Then he realized that he wasn't wearing his mask.
And this was definitely not Titans Tower.
He was in a bedroom with a wooden desk, chair, and walk-inc closet. The walls were plastered with pictures of athletes and a few maps of the solar system. Books were stacked up on the desk while a baseball bat was propped up against the foot of the bed. A computer was on the desk along with some eyeglasses and a microscope.
Standing in front of him was a slender woman with black hair pulled into a bun and two friendly blue eyes. Robin's blood was draining out of his head and he suddenly felt shaky inside. He hadn't seen that face since he was nine years old.
"Mom?" he croaked out weakly.
"Of course, Dick. What did you expect, the tooth fairy?" she laughed cheerily. The woman came to the edge of the bed and tugged on his wrist. "Now up and at 'em, or you'll get nothing for breakfast."
The touch of her hand was an electic shock, causing him to shrink back from her.
"NO!" he shouted, jumping out of the bed backing into a corner. "You're not real!"
The woman raised a black eyebrow in surprise. "And why, may I ask, can't I?"
Robin felt his stomach sink into his feet. "You're supposed to be dead. And if this is some idea of a sick trick, it isn't very funny," he argued in defense.
The woman's expression suddenly became one of deep concern. "Dick, are you feeling all right? You look very pale," she said gently.. She reached out with one hand but he moved behind the chair, baring his teeth at her.
"Don't touch me!" he snarled.
Her lips parted and began to quiver slightly. "Dick?" the woman said timidly.
"Yeah, that's it. I'm Dick and you're dead. Dad's dead too, remember?" he yelled out. "You died in the circus act years ago! You can't be real, that's impossible."
"John! John!" she cried out. Robin looked at the door to his room and heard footsteps approaching. The handle turned and in stepped...
A hefty-looking man with a thick bush of brown hair had just entered the room. He looked at the woman and then at Robin, somewhat confused.
"What is it, Mary?" he asked.
She motioned to Robin. "Its Dick, he must be imagining things. He keeps saying that we're dead."
Robin watched the man (his "father" he wondered) scratch his head in thought. "Why do you keep saying that, son?"
"That act. . .Tony Zucco. . the wires. ." Robin began to stammer nervously. "Didn't you fall?"
"Well no, that's not what happened. Remember Dick?" his father asked softly. "Yes, the wires were cut but your mother and I were able to swing to safety." John Grayson furrowed his eyebrows. "Don't you remember? You were eight years old."
Robin breathed deeply, trying to collect his confused thoughts together. His parents looked real. The blue jeans and red polo shirt he wore felt real. So did the floor boards under his feet and the smell of coffee from downstairs. He nervously bit his lip and dug nails into his palm, trying to break the daze with some kind of pain.
But the display that his eyes were showing him did not vanish one bit. On the contrary, the colors, smells, and sounds were becoming more real and more warm to him with every passing second.
Mary Grayson walked up and felt his forehead. Robin felt a cool calm sensation spread throughout his body when her smooth hand touched his skin, causing him to lower his hands and his heart rate to calm down. He realized that he didn't want to break it off, whatever this was. "I, I think I'm all right," he heard himself say.
She smiled. "That's good. Are you feeling well enough to have some pancakes?"
The oddest thing was how natural he was starting to feel. Robin tried to job his memory. Wasn't he supposed to be somewhere else? With some other people? Or maybe, that was just part of a dream itself. This was the reality of what things really happened.
"I, I guess not," he managed to smile.
His mother beamed in relief. "Good. Then lets go downstairs and have breakfast."
This wasn't really like having amnesia at all; He knew where everything was and what he was supposed to do.
He sat at the table and had breakfast while hearing about his father talk about a new gym being opened in town and his mother's charity event. He helped his mother wash the dishes and dry them, knowing that the blue ones went over the counter and to take out the garbage before he left for school.
Richard Grayson. Dick Grayson. Was that his name? Yes, that's what it was.
He had a sign on his door that said it in green letters. It was on his backpack as well. He wheeled his bicycle out of the garage, admiring the bright red chrome gleaming along the handlebars. Was I called by some other name?
He knew the way to school. A right turn at the grocery store, straight on Metropolis Avenue until the large brick building came into vision. It was a beautiful day in Jump City. The sun shined brightly, neighbors were watering flowers and waving to each other, nodding to him and saying "Good morning" as he whizzed by.
This is what normal people do, right? Kids get up and go to school. And his friends were waiting there.
My friends. Weren't they supposed to be very extraordinary? Someone with a funny-looking body. Or green hair. Get serious, who has green hair? H
Violet. I remember violet eyes. A girl who wore a lot of black.
The bizarre colors were merely wisps of white memories floating in the back of his mind. He couldn't remember much else except perhaps a special building. Yes! There was a giant tower in the shape of a T, its silver plates glittering brightly in the sunshine just as much as the waters lapping in the bay around it-
That's kind of stupid. Why would there be a tower sitting on a rock?
"Dick! Hey, Dick!"
He slammed his sneakers into the gravel, causing the bike to skid to a halt. Throngs of students were on the grounds of Jump City High School in front of him. Some kids were trading notes, others were mimicking teachers, and out of the corner of his eye, a few cheerleaders were performing flips.
A tall African American boy was waving to him from the main doors. Richard (or was it Dick? Or Robin?) carefully set aside the bike and walked up to him.
This guy looked tough enough to crush rocks in his bare hands. But he had the biggest smile spread across his face.
The newcomer's eyes widened. "Uh, Vic? Victor Stone, remember? Your best friend in high school."
He cracked a grin and nodded. "Oh yeah!" he laughed, slapping high fives with Victor. They tapped fists against each other. Immediately, the friendly gesture clicked in his head.
"So tell me, did you hear about the new transfer students coming in?" Victor asked him.
"Er, no," Dick said. Vic kept talking as they walked inside of the school. "Well, I heard they're sisters and one of 'em is in our chemistry class. Heard they're kind of extraordinary. You know Gar, he'll be hounding the camera and taking picture as if they're-"
"-Aliens," Dick blurted out. Aliens? Yes, that sounded like something that Gar would do. Who's Gar?
"Dude!" he heard a voice pipe up. A small teenager had been running to catch up with the two boys. He slowed down with wheezing breath just in front of them, a hand on Dick's shoulder for support. The roots of his hair were a faint green; the rest of it grew into a brown nest from his scalp.
"Dick, I'm so glad I caught up with you," Gar babbled. His eyes narrowed keenly and a look of sheer delight and wickedness spread across his face. "Guess what, buddy," he said, said as he slipped an arm around Dick and pulled him closer. "I've got a secret surprise for us."
"Let me guess. The school is serving Chicken Surprise today," Victor suggested.
"Nooooo," Gar drawled out. "Its even better than that. The most awesome sci-fi movie is coming out next month: Super Ninja Fury!" he nearly hollered into Dick's ear. He broke out into what looked like a crossover between a flamingo mating dance and a disco number.
"Right," Dick said, smoothing his shirt out. "And if its next month, why are you dancing for joy now?"
Gar Logan stopped his dancing long enough to stare at the two boys. "Helluh-oh! That's in four weeks from now. That's not enough time!" he shouted, flapping his arms up and down. "We've got to get costumes made for the show, and come up with a cool parody for the other fans, and of course, I'll need an article for the school paper why we should close school for the week when the movie comes out..."
The three boys continued down the hallway while Gar rattle on excitingly to the other two. At one point when Gar stopped to catch his breath, Dick tapped Victor on the shoulder.
"Uh, Vic? Can you do me a favor?" he asked lightly.
"Sure, anything," he nodded.
Dick's hands grew sweaty. "Tell me about my life and what you know about me," he insisted.
Victor starred at him in surprise. "Say what?"
"Just give me a run down about my life. Humor me. As my friend, ok?"
"Well, all right, man. If you say so." Victor gave him the details as they opened their lockers and started to get out books and papers.
"You're Richard Grayson, you're fifteen years old, and you go to Jump City High School. You and your family were trapeze artists when you were younger. You guys toured a lot and were really popular. Man, those were some cool photos you had in your room," Victor said, looking up with an impressed look on his face. Dick's puzzled glance brought him back to memory.
"Oh yeah, so anyway, this bad Zucco guy threatened the circus and toyed with the wires on the trapeze. Your mom and dad would have fallen if your dad hadn't grabbed the emergency bar and hung on. And you saw the whole thing, so the police came in and tracked down Zucco, able to stop him and his gang. Your family got some reward money and a promo in the paper with Bruce Wayne."
"Wayne," Dick repeated aloud.
"Billionare playboy? Ring any bells? C'mon, Dick, he was in the front row seats the night of the accident! But anway, that's when your dad decided to quit the circus and settle down here. He runs a few gyms in the city and your mom is on the P.T.A. You're on the baseball team, I'm on the football team, and Gar is head of the 'Clash of the Planets' Fan Club and photographer for the school paper. That's us, the Three Musketeers."
Dick drummed his fingers lightly on the notebook.
"Do people like me?" he asked. Victor slamed his locker shut and laughed.
"Man, unless you knock their teeth out-which you've never done-you're the apple of everyone's eye. Even Professor Prombo likes you, and he's not the easiest guy in the word to-"
Dick had suddenly crashed into someone so hard that he fell down, books and pens scattering all over the place. Richard groaned and rubbed his aching head.
"Hey, watch it, snort breath!" he heard a nasal sharp voice snap irritably.
A small kid in green was clutching a laptop and grinning sharp white teeth like a shark at him. He was flanked by two other kids. The large hairy one, Dick assumed, had caused him to fall. The other was a thin girl in a black gothic looking dress and bright pink tinted hair.
"You watch where you're going," Vic snapped at him. The kid looked up at Vic and continued his malevolent smiling. The burly haired one cracked his knuckles in Dick's face.
"Oooh, watcha gonna do about it, Jock Face?" he sneered in his face.
"Leave him alone, Gizmo," the girl said in a cool voice. "Its not worth mashing anyone before third period."
He shrugged and they all slunk off, past Dick and down the hallway.
"Sheesh, what a bunch of bullies," Gar grumbled. "They've got a lot of nerve messing with other kids."
"Maybe you can slip them some Chicken Surprise into their lockers," Dick suggested. Vic cracked a grin but Gar was laughing so hard that he was clutching his sides from the amusement.
The boys raced into the lab, skidded to a halt, and jumped into their seats just in time. Richard opened up his notes to the right pages and looked up. Professor Prombo had just walked in. An elderly gentleman with gray hair around his ears and a rather long nose, you'd assume he wasn't anything radical or bizarre.
"Good day, class," he announced in a funny nasal tone. The students giggled slightly.
"Good day, Mumbo Jumbo," Gar whispered to Dick .
"Mr. Logan! Do I have to separate you two?" the teacher demanded.
"N-no, Professor Prombo," Gar tried to say with a strained voice, attempting not to crack up again.
"Good." Professor Prombo strode up to front of the room and whirled the rotating chalk board around madly. With a flick of the wrist, several beakers landed on the counter in a perfectly straight line. "Now today in chemistry class, we'll be making some magic!"
"Now now class," Professor Numbo warned with a shake of his finger. "Osmosis can be a very fascinating experience, once you've seen how science works its wonderful wacky ways. But before we get started, I'd like to introduce out new students."
The door opened and two people walked in.
Dick's eyes nearly popped of his mouth. The rest of the class also stopped moaning long enough to stare at the newcomers.
"Class, I'd like you to meet Kayla and Kory Anders. They've just moved in to the city," Professor Prombo announced.
Kayla was taller and the more confident looking of the two. She tossed violet-black hair back off of her shoulders and smile alluringly at everyone.
"Hello, Jump City!" she announced to the class a loud rich voice. "I bring you, the Anders Girls. You couldn't have picked a better place for us to come in." Her beauty and charisma alone seemed to have ensnared everyone and they couldn't stop staring at her. Several boys were eyeing her as Kayla nearly floated across the room, her high heeled boots clicking on the tiles.
She walked past Richard and he got a whiff of her perfume, trying not to look like he was being overpowered by the heady scent. The girl winked a violet eye at him and her fingertips had lightly brushed over his hand when she walked passed him and took a seat.
"Ah yes, well, we're very glad to have you here, Kayla," Professor Prombo said, clearing his voice. He turned to the second girl. "Have you anything to say, Kory?"
Now everyone was glancing at the second girl, who was just as lovely as her sister but seemed four times more shy. Her skin had a warm orange glow to it, her long red hair fell gracefully around her shoulders, and she wore a matching purple sweater top and plaid skirt. Dick was fascinated by her eyes; they were large, green, and glowed gently in his direction.
The girl blushed and hugged her books to her chest. "I, I am glad to be here," she said in a soft kind voice. "And I hope we will be friends."
A few kids snickered at her remark, as if she was just coming into kindergarten. But she walked past them with her head held up, trembling slightly to maintain confidence in herself. She looked at Richard and their eyes met.
Summer green meet spring blue eyes. For a moment, Dick had forgotten about his surroundings. He felt Kory's stare going into his very soul, almost intoxicating...
"Is this seat taken?" she asked him. Dick realized he was still gawking at her. Time for a reality check. He cleared his throat quickly and scooted over.
"Yes, just for you," he said. She slid into the seat and gave him a smile that set off fireworks in his head.