Truth to be said, she had never really liked her elder sister. Not very much, indeed. It was difficult to cherish someone who had been her rival for attention and recognition in the kingdom since childhood, more so that this certain person was rubbing it merrily on her face at every chance she got.
However, old adage proves true once more: blood was thicker than water. When she heard the news about her sister, Blackfire, not returning anymore to Tamaran, she persisted to know why from her ever-loyal childhood caretaker, Galfore. At first, he adamantly refused to tell her what he knew. However, after a long time of begging, he gave in.
And she heard the greatest shock of her life—her sister had found her groom in a small, almost unknown planet from a distant galaxy. An earthling, to be sure.
She couldn't believe his words, even if they were uttered by the most honest person she knew. Her better-in-anything sister, with those spirited ebony eyes and self-satisfied smirk perpetually pasted on her face, was married to a person that could be most compassionately classified as "average". Her sister was the surest next-in-line for the throne of the Grand Ruler of Tamaran and all of them in the kingdom were expecting him to marry another royal-blooded alien from a powerful planet that could help fortify the defenses of their own vulnerable and small planet.
The council of the elders was debating on whether the marriage should be nullified under their Tamaranean customs. It was projected that the deliberation would last for at least three lunar revolutions, which would give her some time to make investigations of her own.
"Bumgorf?" The voice of her guardian reverberated in the darkness of the secluded launch pad. This was reserved only for royal transportation, thus she had the privilege of not having her usual guards surrounding her when she went there. She had gone there in secret, taking only a small bundle of what she thought was necessities. No one must know that the second in line candidate for the throne was going to leave the planet, and the only way she could do that was to use this royal private dock.
But Galfore was a royal steward—an honorable title to hold as well. Thus, his access to this place. Even without that designation though, she would not leave Tamaran without bidding her farewell to the person who taught her so much and loved her even more so.
"Lashik mei gan wali, k'norfka," she said softly, appearing amidst the silhouettes. Her goodbye was met by his sigh of helplessness.
He took a step forward and hugged her tight. She was aware that he had inner protests about letting her go off to space on her own, but she pointed out that it was important for him to remain in the palace and be her eyes and ears there. He was the person she trusted with utmost heart, and he too, understood that it meant an even bigger responsibility than chaperoning her.
"Nange Zol sen m'yan," he whispered to her ear. It was a prayer to their god to look after her because Zol's eyes and hands held more power than his own.
She nodded and hugged him back, etching in her memory how warm and affectionate his big, almost meaty arms were. Recollections like this would fuel her courage into her venture into a literal unknown. She herself wondered how she would fare in this journey when the farthest she had traveled alone was the palace gardens.
But she wanted the truth straight from her sister herself. For that, she was only too willing to go far and beyond.
"Wali," she bade before disentangling herself from his embrace. If she held him longer, she might just lose her guts to leave.
"Jei nye." He asked her to pause as he brought out his farewell gift for her—a small piece of headset. "M'yan tei."
She did as told. The minute she placed it on her head, she saw the lips of Galfore move, yet his words sounded…well…strange.
"Can you hear me, Princess?" The voice coming from him asked.
"Dyan nay!" she tried to wail, but it came out as, "I can't understand!"
He nodded. "Every Tamaranean word I say will automatically be converted by that piece into Earth language. Likewise, your Tamaranean tongue shall come out in the earthlings' native language. This gadget will be your first step in surviving that planet."
He laughed and pushed the Record button. "That instruction would be handy once you gain knowledge of some practical earthling language. It's fairly easy to learn their crude way of communication, do not worry." His hands moved over the headset and removed it from her head. "Kjan yun tan m'yan senkili." Once more, she heard him talking in their natural language. He was now planting a considerably thick book on her hand, telling her not to lose it since this would be the key to her understanding of the earthling interaction.
"Rimne?" She asked him what the tome was called.
"Dictionary. Un d'yan Dic-tio-na-ry."
A sweatdrop formed on her head. Even a lone earthling word sounded ridiculously awkward already. She wondered secretly if those language reflected what the kind of people dwell in that planet often described in space traveler's tales as crude and barbaric.
"Wali!" said Galfore, patting her hand. He added quickly that she should study the book he gave her when idle in her ship.
"Jei nye, k'norfka," she said, scratching her cheek. "Nyalan ne rimne?" She asked him once more the name of her sister's groom, also her brother-in-law. Urkshad in Tamaranean speech.
The forename was given. "Robin."
My first AU series on this fandom, so please bear with some OOCs that may occur, particularly on Blackfire's part. And as you may have already guessed, the Tamaranean exchange was made-up language. Any resemblance to any existing language in this planet is purely coincidental.
Standard disclaimers apply in the story.
He sipped his ice-cold soda in slow, lazy gulps. He had all the time in the world, considering that his surveillance had been, at most, stationary. He was sitting on his motorcycle some blocks away from his target's domicile, vigilantly keeping watch of any sign of life in the seemingly ghost house.
The rickety old Victorian house was the least likeliest place for such a classy scum as this master thief who calls himself Red X. However, there were intelligence reports that his hideout may just be the abandoned edifice just east of the city hall.
Fortunately, he was one of the first people to get a crack on the scoop. Thanks to his friend Cyborg's seemingly innate understanding of anything with wires in it, they were able to hack into the confidential files kept by the state police and find the slippery eel's whereabouts.
Placing his binoculars over his eyes, he carefully scanned the surrounding and interiors of the house. If indeed, the city's number one most-wanted criminal was staying in that place, then he must be very good at blanketing his presence. Day in and day out, he had never left this spot just to not miss even a second of hint of life in the house' deathly silence. However, three days had passed, but to no avail.
Cyborg had suggested that he should pull out and let the computer take his place. He refused, saying that a computer couldn't run after Red X once they get discovered. Further protests from his mechanized buddy was sealed in finality by the emotionally-desiccated voice of Raven warning him that Red X might steal his babies. The proud father of everything computerized in their headquarters immediately took the mantle of silence.
Even without her intervention though, he knew he would not back out from this mission. Red X was simply too important a catch for him. He had been trailing after various petty criminals for so long, hoping to find a couple of them that links to the higher hierarchy in the organized crime empire that run their affairs in the undergrounds of this city.
The master thief was the answer to his efforts. This guy obviously works meticulously—smooth execution of crimes was his way of life. He was also proud of the fact that his atrocities were not to be credited to him alone.
That sparked something within his cerebral factory. His crimes were too smooth to be cooked up by one evil mind only, no matter how ingenious it was. There were too many Plan Bs on his every crime spree, way too many escape latches that would be humanly impossible to be unleashed by a single mind alone.
He also observed that there seemed to be a pattern on his criminal activities. He didn't go after jewelry or cold cash—he was bagging military arsenal, nuclear plant formulae, and chemical weapons. He was not after trivial easy riches—he wanted more. And if his hunch was right, he and the puppeteer behind him were after the REAL wealth: power. Their way to get it? Violent domination, first of the city, then tomorrow, the whole world.
This was a theory he only chose to share among his team. He was wary on trusting people related to politics and the military—until the persona behind Red X was revealed, he could never be sure about laying his confidence on others.
After giving her Dos and Don'ts While Staying in Planet Earth tour brochure a final glance, she parked her ship on the first patch of greenery the dictionary calls 'woods'. She read that people in this planet were still used to the idea of gravity and unnaturalness of obtaining speed of light ruling their modes of transportation. Needless to say, they also wouldn't want to see her fly.
So taking her possessions and slinging them over one shoulder, she began to walk towards the towering masses of gray over the horizon.
A vehicle sped past him, and the next thing he felt was something hitting the side of his face. He frowned and picked up the white package that the passenger of the car threw towards him.
"Tomato sandwich," he said with a sigh. He then remembered that it was Beast Boy's turn to wear the Kiss the Cook apron on their No-Pizza night, which was once a week. According to their not-so-friendly neighborhood nutritionist, Raven, pizza was a big junk of health joke: its thin crust could not deliver their daily carbo needs to fuel their very physical crime-fighting duties to the city; its diced and minced vegetable toppings lacked the green, leafy ones that were a better source for vitamin goodness; and it was cheesy. Seven days of pizza would eventually suck every ounce of their sustenance until they all wake up sitting on wheelchairs with IV poles beside them.
To cut the long story short, he had to make do with their vegetarian cook's special treat of tomato sandwich back to back with a bottle of tomato juice. He just had to will himself not to remember that two weeks ago, he had carrot sandwich and carrot juice courtesy of the same brilliant chef.
He unwrapped the upper half of the sandwich and bit on it. As he swallowed the tomato-ness of his food, he placed his binoculars over his face again. Master thief or not, he still had to move inside—body, shadow, or what. Even a brief ruffling of the torn curtains would be a blessing for him now. Anything that signaled activity within the edifice was his cue.
His communicator vibrated. Picking it up with his other hand, he replied, "Come in."
"Hey dude, how's the sandwich?" greeted Beast Boy brightly.
"Dead. Ate the half of it already," he replied dully.
"I used a new formula on it, you know! I used a vegetable that I flavored with tomato for your sandwich."
"Why didn't you just use tomato?" he asked, not taking his eyes off the house.
"Because I don't want you to know that it's a tomato sandwich!" said the said inventive chef proudly. "And it worked! Did you know that it's a tomato sandwich?"
The logic was lost on him.
Another voice spoke on the line. "The alien still won't talk," said Raven's even voice. "Even with Cyborg's lie-detector machine, she still comes out squeaky clean."
He shrugged, not caring whether his friend wouldn't see it. "The fact alone that she was traveling to earth without visa from space authorities would be enough to keep her behind bars for at least a week more. Dating the Red X persona is too big a matter to let her off the hook that easily."
"Maybe you should let me do the interrogating," she suggested.
He weighed the idea.
"I promise not to send her off to another dimension," she added as an afterthought. "Or dismantle her sanity function."
"If Beast Boy is with you—"
"He's not. He's planning his next tomato-based mystery vegetable dish."
"I will not allow you to start inquiries without him."
"Hah." He could visualize her rolling her eyes sarcastically. "Maybe feeding that alien girl some of Beast Boy's tomato sandwich would make her spit out what we need."
He heard the green-skinned boy complain somewhere. "It's not a tomato sandwich, mind you! It just tastes like one, but it's noooot a tomato sandwich!"
"Don't kill our star witness, Raven, alright?" he asked.
"Should I stop Beast Boy when he offers the alien his vegetarian dishes?" she asked back. "I'm not the only one with killing potential here."
"Just make sure she stays alive until I get there," he said wearily. The heat-seeking scanner of his binoculars vibrated in alarm, making his pulse quicken.
"We can't keep her this way for ten more years, Robin," she reminded him dryly.
"I'm about to wrap this case up," he assured her. "Where's Cyborg?"
"Mourning over his lie-detector machine's failure." A deep sigh. "His breakdown is worse than the machine's."
"Then I can only rely on Beast Boy." He blinked. "Did I just say that?"
"He can come with me," said the girl. "As long as he gets out of my way."
"Good luck with that." He ended the conversation when he thought he saw a shadow cross the living room. Some minutes later, he heard the sound of rumbling engine.
A smile crossed his face. "Bingo."
She sweatdropped when she finally arrived within the area of those gray masses that turned out to be tall, almost sky-high structures made of smooth stone in various colors, some in light cheerful shades while others in sober monotones of gray and white. The continuous stream of people clad in different kinds of outfits, the honks of wheeled vehicles, and the steady barrage of non-Tamaranean speech became an eye and ear candy for her, a first-timer in this kind of chaotic environment.
Her busy roving emerald eyes caught the colorful gowns displayed within a glass capsule, worn by women with ivory and white skin, posed and very still.
"I wonder how much compensation do those girls get for such a tiresome job," mused the scarlet head, cupping her chin.
"You won't get away from me, Red X," he promised solemnly as he accelerated towards the vehicle in front of him. They had long left the residential proper, thus he felt that he didn't need to conceal the fact that he was chasing him deliberately. He was good as caught now anyway.
The welcome arc of the city proper briefly crossed his vision. His heart sank. A city with more than twenty thousand people running, driving, eating, and working—it was a virtual nightmare for any criminal-chasing, motorcycling crime fighter!
But he had given way too much to back out now. Grabbing the handlebars of his vehicle, he silently braced himself for one hell of a ride.
One minute she was running her fingers on the glass panel of the dress shop, and the next minute, she heard screams from the people, coupled by the noises of crashes and booms. The once congested traffic on the concrete road parted like the waves of the Red Sea.
And two speeding somethings pierced the empty roads, earning gasps, wails, and curses from the people around the area.
However, her trained jade eyes were able to see an object sparkle even amidst the barely a second of encounter.
The other half of her kingdom's royal heirloom, the part that belonged to her elder sister, Blackfire. She could not mistake the cardinal shine of the gem, the gem that was given by the eighty-ninth generation of the Grand Ruler of Tamaran to them as a gift. It symbolized how, like the rare and much-prized jewel that it was, she and her sister were pedestals above the rest of the womenfolk in the planet.
"Whoever that person is, he has my sister," she thought out loud, her fists clenched. "I must go after him and ask him at once!"
Forgetting her initial reservation on what to do and not to do in this strange new planet, she immediately floated in the air and went after the two racing motorcycles.
"Out of the way! Get out, get out!" yelled Robin to the people ahead, some even petrified in shock. "Clear the road, criminal on the loose!" Whipping out his T communicator, he yelled, "Titans, surround block C-87, on the double!"
He gripped the bars of the motor bike tighter and speeded up. "You're not getting away from me, wiseguy."
To his surprise, something literally soared past him, nearly sending his motorcycle to the side of the road.
"Mister, I say, please slow down!" A female voice shouted at the top of her lungs. "I have a few questions—"
The motorcycle responded by blowing off a large cloud of dust from its back exhaust. The unexpected blow and contents of the smog that were strange to her senses made her stagger back, coughing in tears.
The thief seized the chance to shoot her. Holding out his gun, he aimed his laser pistol at her way.
"Watch out!" Stepping on his motorcycle, he seized a couple of seconds to free the handlebars from his hands. His arms caught her suspended body, then upon securing her with one arm, drove sideward. They barely missed the laser gunshot, but the motorcycle couldn't maintain its balance for long. They were both flung towards the grassy on-shoulder of the road as their target triumphantly left them, his trail still blazing in dust and victory.
Robin got up, ignoring his blurring vision and aching temple. "He's…not here anymore." In frustration, he slumped back on the grass, face buried on his palm. He was muttering away when the girl beside him stirred.
"Kol'ya may hishun…" moaned the girl, rubbing her head.
"What?" he asked, voice barely above a moan. The T communicator was beeping, but he couldn't care less.
Red X was gone. All those days and nights he spent on what he thought was the foolproof plan to capture him…
His eyes went to the motorcycle, its engine now steaming and hissing. The scratches were unkind to the vehicle, and suddenly, he felt more apprehension form within him. Wait till Cyborg sees what happened to one of his proudest creations.
"Nah kuh yoh…" mumbled the girl, reaching for her head. She panickedly tested the side of her head. Her eyes widened in panic. "M'yan Zol." Now she was crawling around the grass, as if searching for something in despair. "M'yan Zol!"
He raised a brow. Was his injury a bit more severe than he gives it credit for, or was he really hearing her speak in a dialect unlike anything his ears had absorbed before? "Hey," he called.
She lifted her face. The second she did, he did a double take. Not taking his eyes off her, he reached for his communicator.
"Well it was about time you pick up!" came Cyborg's voice. "We didn't catch the guy. He disappeared all of a sudden, or how else could have he made his way past me and Beast Boy? There was only one road, and its two diverts were covered by us."
"I see. By the way, is our alien lady friend still there?" he asked casually. The girl in front of him was watching him back with her wide green eyes. Despite himself, he was starting to feel uncomfortable with her gaze.
"Sleeping soundly. Raven gave her a tranquilizer to condition her for her planned hypnosis. " A snort. "The little alien thinks she's so smart, bypassing my lie-detecting machine. Hah! No one was born yet to ridicule my babies!"
"She's the real thing, Cyborg?" he asked.
"What the hell are you talking about, man?" the mechanic whiz asked, bewildered. "Of course, she is! How can she get away from the hawk-eye guarding of Raven?"
His eyes went to the girl who was now crawling towards him, her finger aiming for something.
He grimaced. "Wait. Will call you up again later." Not waiting for his friend's reply, he flicked the communicator off, his hand ready to reach for his fighting staff. "Look, I don't know how the hell you managed to escape Raven, but I'm warning you, you are under our custody. We are authorized to—" His words were cut short when one delicate finger landed on his temple.
His breathing harshened as he waited for what her next move would be.
Her eyes grew wide in worry when she withdrew her finger and found it smudged with dark red liquid. Sitting up, she took one armband off. Thrusting her hand into her pocket, she came up with a small bottle of purple liquid.
Alarm bells rung in his mind. It could be poison, or maybe a sleeping potion. He watched cautiously as she immersed the fabric in the fluid. A moment later, she crouched back towards him.
He gulped inwardly. What was that purple liquid that she applied to the cloth? His eyes went to the girl again.
Concern was imprinted clearly on her face that seemed too innocent to even think of poisoning him or something. In fact, even if she carried the same features as their current detainee, something still felt different about her. It wasn't just the color of the hair that could easily be solved by hair dyes, nor could it be those one-of-a-kind green eyes that could be the same effect of wearing green contact lenses. There was a certain air of naïveté on her face, and although she too was cautious, he couldn't feel anything malevolent about her.
But then again, if he allowed that kind of trusting mentality rule him, it could mean life and death for him. One life and more than two ways to die. Peachy.
She seemed to sense his hesitation. Mouth twitching, she dipped her finger into the remaining contents of the bottle and slipped it into her mouth. She then smiled and shrugged her shoulders, as if showing him that it was safe.
He refused to react, making her sigh. Dipping her finger once more into the bottle, she lifted her finger. Instead of tasting it again, she placed it over his slightly open mouth. He was too stunned to digest that he just swallowed a drop of the purple fluid that he had been fearing for some minutes already.
Her eyes, almost challenging, seemed to ask whether he felt anything unnatural. When he still didn't answer, she proceeded to kneel in front of him, wiping his bleeding forehead with her drenched armband.
He instinctively shut his eyes. Her touch was so gentle, so feather-like, that he was suddenly starting to feel sleepy. His mind kept on insisting that it was a sleeping potion, but he knew the lightness he was feeling was not induced by any drug.
When she stopped moving, he opened his eyes.
She was now holding a book, frantically running through its pages.
He straightened. What was she doing, browsing a dictionary?
To his surprise, she nodded to herself and placed the book face-down on her lap. "H-Heal. I…healed."
"Uh…okay," he said, blinking. "Thanks."
At that moment, she was madly flipping through the book again. Thinking she did not hear him, he repeated his words of gratitude. She still didn't respond—her eyes were on the pages of the thick dictionary.
"Hey?" he called. It was only then that she looked up, her face crinkled into a gentle smile that sealed the final hole of doubt he had on her. She was definitely not Blackfire, one of their B-list criminals. How she was related to her though and how they shared almost the same face, he wasn't sure. But he was intending to find that out soon enough.
Her mouth opened to slowly form three words that made him crack a smile.
To be continued