Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Teen Titans, so don't ask. I DO however, own all original characters mentioned in this fic and to use them you WILL have to ask me.
New Players on the Stage
Chapter 4: Meet Mr. Dark
Deep beneath the streets of Jump City lays the ruins of a long abandoned and forgotten church. It had been buried there decades before by a massive earthquake that had demolished much of the original Jump City. What was left of that part of the city had been closed off from the public and was scheduled for demolition at some unspecified date. Most of the citizens had either forgotten about it or ignored it completely in favor of the brighter, more modern parts of the city.
But there was one person that didn't forget. A person that embraced the destroyed landscape and in particular the buried church. He used it in his plans to take over the city. It was there that he took a scared and lost little girl and twisted her into a psychopath like him. This person of course being Slade, the Teen Titans first true foe. The girl was Terra, a powerful meta-human with the ability to move the earth itself. Unfortunately, she had little to no control over these powers and she feared the damage she could cause.
So she ran away from those who would be her friends and right into the arms of the madman. He in turn, used her as his ultimate weapon to defeat the Titans, conquer the city with then onward to his final goal: the world. His plan failed, though, when his own apprentice turned against him, having seen the folly of her ways. In her last acts of redemption she not only defeated Slade, but also saved the city from a volcano that was about to erupt. Her reward for this effort was to be turned into her stone, a permanent look of sorrow on her face.
The church was silent once again now. Its only occupant was the scared little girl who acted as her own monument. The silence was broken by the soft, steady sounds of footsteps. A figure dressed in red and green gently walked through the old the partially destroyed building and makeshift memorial. The figure, of course, being Robin, leader of the Teen Titans. He was down here not to pay his respect to his fallen teammate, though he knew he should do that more often, but rather to follow up on the case he was working. This was the last place any of them had seen Slade alive. He just had to check this one last site before he could truly accept the fact that Slade wasn't the cause of their current misery. Robin paused for a moment as he pasted Terra's frozen form. His expression changed to one of sorrow and guilt as he looked up into her frozen eyes then looked at the small plague he and others had placed at the base of her feet.
A TEEN TITAN
A TRUE FRIEND
"I'm sorry Terra," he said softly. "I know we promised to reverse this but...things haven't seen so easy for us lately. We'll figure out a way though. Somehow."
He turned away from the petrified girl to study his surroundings more closely. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to replay the scene in his head. Naturally, he could remember from his perspective, but he had to try and see it from Terra's point of view if he was to proceed. He took another moment to concentrate before he reopened his eyes and stared straight ahead. If Terra stood where her...statue was standing, now then Slade would have been...
His thoughts paused for a moment as he took a few large steps forward.
...Here! Yes, based on what he could remember this was the spot where they had all seen Slade disappear. Robin, narrowed his eyes behind his mask and kneeled down to examine the ground. He ran his fingers over the spot, which only resulted in dirtying up his gloves. Still, he inspected the dust on them as well as the spot in general. Try as he might, he couldn't find any evidence that the ground had been disturbed at all. That could mean either that he was VERY good at covering his tracks or, mostly likely, that Slade truly was dead. Unfortunately, Robin didn't know if he should be happy or terrified by that fact. While he certainly didn't want to see Slade again anytime soon, the fact that someone else took such an interest in them greatly unnerved him. Who could be behind the Terror Sect and why was this person so interested in the Titans?
"It must really be bothering you, huh?" a voice suddenly called out.
Robin instantly sprang to his feet and towards the sound of the voice, only to be rewarded with a boot heel to his cheek. The force of the unexpected blow caused him to do a 180 in midair before he crashed face first onto the hard, unforgiving ground. Once he recovered, he rubbed his throbbing cheek and was thankfully that nothing felt broken. He then quickly reached towards his belt, in one swift motion pulled out a Bird-A-Rang, and tossed it in the direction the kick had come from. Not surprisingly, the weapon flew harmlessly through the air. Robin let out a groan of frustration then pulled himself to his feet and casually caught the Bird-a-Rang when it flew back towards him. He slipped it back into his belt while he closely examined the area again, looking for any sign of his opponent.
"Missed me," her voice rang from behind him.
He grunted angrily as he spun around with his arm outstretched in an attempt to backhand her. Unfortunately, she had ducked under the arm and quickly launched her own arm forward with her palm turned upwards and fingers curled. The blow landed squarely on Robin's wound from behind, causing the Titan's leader to reel back in pain. Again, his opponent, Strika, took advantage of his openness and struck him with her other palm on the opposite side of his face from which she had planted her boot heel. Robin fell towards the ground once more, this time with both sides of his face throbbing. He pushed back the pain and launched himself towards the masked girl, striking out in a blind rage. The attacks were sloppy and easily dodged or blocked by his enemy.
"Come on Robin, I know that's not all ya got!" Strika taunted as she sidestepped another punch.
"You don't know anything about me!" Robin growled.
"Sure I do. That's what's got you so upset after all. My team and I know almost everything about the Titans. Your quirks, your personalities, your secrets," she paused as she caught his arm and held it in a vice like grip, "your moves."
She then twisted the arm as she moved behind him, holding to his back while her other hand grabbed his free arm. She gave his arm another twist as she leaned in close to whisper into his ear.
"We know all that about you and yet you don't know a thing about us. Must be real frustrating," she taunted.
"What do you want! Who are you working for!" Robin grunted through the pain.
"I thought what we wanted was kind of obvious. As for who we're working for...well you'll just have to wait and find out. Don't worry though, you'll meet him soon enough."
The Titan leader's eyebrow quirked at that last remark. She had said "him". That would help with narrowing the field down, not by much but it was more than what he had a few moments ago. He thought about trying to see what other information he could get from her, but the pain in his arm cut off that thought. He had to break the hold before she broke his arm. Planting his feet firmly on the ground, he groaned as he mustered all the strength he could and leaned forward, lifting Strika off her feet. Caught off guard, she let her grip loosen enough for him to free his arms and throw her off him as he moved forward. She controlled her flight well enough to twist her body in mid-air so that she landed perfectly on her feet next to Terra's fossilized form. Robin growled and was about to charge her when she pulled out one of her explosive spikes and held it next to Terra's stomach.
"Ah, ah, ah," Strika admonished, wagging the index finger of her other hand. "I won't do anything hasty if I were you. Unless of course you want to explain to Beast Boy why his girlfriend is now a pile of gravel."
The Boy Wonder still stood tense for a moment, deciding if he should take the risk of tackling the girl before she had time to move. His logical side won out and he let out a small sigh and slumped his shoulders slightly when he knew there was no way he could act that fast.
"Good boy. Now I have to get going, but don't worry, I'll be seeing you around real soon."
With that, Strika tossed the weapon towards Robin. It buried itself in the ground right in front of him and quickly began beeping. Robin jumped away as far as he could, ignoring the pain of his wound reopening even more. He rolled along the hard, rocky ground and covered himself with his cape just as the device went off, sending small chunks of rocks and dust everywhere. When it seemed as though everything had calmed down, he pulled back his cape and stood up, groaning a bit as pain shot through his chest. He looked for Strika but as he suspected, there was no trace of the warrior girl. He wouldn't bother wasting the energy looking for her either, he had used this trick enough times himself to know that she was gone. As he stood there, he reflected on the last word she had said to him.
"Now I have to get going, but don't worry, I'll be seeing you around real soon."
"Count on it," he said softly as he clenched a fist.
Titan's Tower was quieter than usual. There was no post fight celebration or even any relaxation time. Those things only came when they were victorious, which they sadly were not in their last battle. So the usual routine was thrown out in favor of following Robin's orders in trying to find out as much as they could about this new Terror Sect group. While their leader had gone off in private to search, they began to exhaust what means they could at the Tower. Raven searched through various papers to see if anything had been written about the attack the other day and to see if they had committed any other crimes the Titans didn't know about. Starfire did a similar search through the news channels while Cyborg used a new upgrade to shift through the police frequencies in hopes overhearing something useful. And Beast Boy...
Beast Boy was bored. At first he truly did try to help out, watching the news channels with Starfire and helping Raven sort through the papers, but he quickly lost interest in both and found his mind wandering. When he suggested a break to play the latest version of Super Ninja Fury, the others simply glared at him as he shrank down into the couch. When they finally went back to what they had been doing, Beast Boy sat up again with a sigh that was a mixture of relief and sadness. It was not like he was purposely trying to distract everyone else, but he was bored and needed some distraction himself. He just wanted to do something, no matter what it was, just as long as it kept his mind off what he had seen. It wasn't Terra. It couldn't have been Terra! But...it was so convincing. Looking into her eyes...it just felt like her.
The green changeling shook his head to clear away those thoughts. He focused his attention on the TV again and fortunately, the news station Starfire had been watching, switched over to a celebrity news program. It wasn't much but at least it was more entertaining than the real news. And maybe he'd be able to find out something about one of the upcoming movies he wanted to see. At the moment, the head anchor was talking about the latest Hollywood power couple and the gossip surrounding them.
Ah. Pure escapist entertainment, he thought as he folded his arms behind his head.
"Friends, I am confused," Starfire spoke up.
"About what?" Raven asked, not looking away from her paper.
"I am unsure as to why the details of this couple's life are so fascinating. While I am most happy for them to have found someone they care about, I am understanding why it must be talked about on the channels of news."
"Because people are overly fixated on celebrities and need to know every aspect of their lives. Particularly those who have none of their own."
"Hey! Was that a crack at me!" Beast Boy shouted.
"No, of course not," Raven replied, holding her paper closer to her face.
"Then why did you look at me when you said that?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"But," Starfire started, adjusting her injured foot on the armwar it sat on, "are we not considered the celebrities of Jump City?"
"Yep! Pretty cool, isn't it?" Beast Boy asked, swelling his chest out a bit.
"Then would not people want to know all about our lives and spread the gossip about us?"
The other three stopped what they were doing and stared at each other. As was usually the case with Starfire, it was a simple enough question that carried with it rather complex answers. They were sure that given their rather public displays, that some of the more sleazy journalists out there would want to know everything about their lives. And why not? Five teenage superheroes living unsupervised in a giant "T" would make great fodder for the tabloids. Hence why they always kept away from them as well as any entertainment news stories about the team. Finding out what people thought was going on behind the doors and who they thought was sleeping with who was actually a rather disturbing concept.
Thankfully, none of them had to answer the question, as all of their attention was diverted towards the door to the main room when they heard it slide open and saw Robin entering. Starfire abandoned her question for the moment and levitated herself off the couch to fly over towards the returning leader. She landed as softly as she could and withheld a grimace as a slight pain shot through her leg. She ignored it and smiled towards the Boy Wonder.
"Robin! Did you find something important on your mission?" she asked, then noticed the splotch of darker red soaking through his costume. "You are injured."
"It's nothing, I'm fine," he replied gruffly as he tried to walk pasted her.
He was stopped by a sudden jolt that yanked him backwards slightly. He let out a small groan of pain as the movement pulled at his reopened wound more and once he regained his footing he turned around to find Starfire holding onto his wrist.
"Starfire, let go of me," he growled as he struggled against her grip.
"No," she replied softly, looking at the floor. "You said you would not do this again."
"Close yourself off from your friends. You are wounded and refuse help. You know something and will not tell us. You are acting just as you did when we first encountered Slade. You promised that you would not do such things again," she paused to look him in the eyes. "You promised me."
As Robin looked into her bright green eyes, a new pain passed over him; the pain of guilt. He knew what she was saying was true. Without even realizing it, he had slipped right back into his old patterns. The patterns he had moved away from Gotham and helped formed the Titans to get away from. The saying about old habits went through his mind before he noticed the other six pairs of eyes staring at him as well. He hung his head with a sound he rarely made, a sigh of defeat.
"You're right," he said quietly. "I was turning away from you again and I'm sorry." At this point, he realized he had been looking directly at Starfire while the others were staring at him. His eyes widened a second before he corrected himself, "To all of you. I-I shouldn't have ignored any of you."
Starfire nodded and let go of his wrist while the others simply exchanged knowing glances.
"So, may you now tell us what you have found?" Starfire asked.
"Alright," he nodded in return. "I went to Terra's..." he paused as he glanced at Beast Boy, "memorial to see if Slade had managed to escape somehow. From what I could tell, the ground hadn't be disturbed at all so at this point I'm willing to rule out him as a suspect. Unless, of course, he made some miraculous return from the dead. Whoever it is this, has studied up on us because I was attacked by Strika while I was there. That's how my wound reopened."
"Dude! They know about Terra? Who are these guys!" Beast Boy wondered aloud.
"More accurately, who are they working for?" Raven asked.
"I don't know," Robin spoke again. "When we fought, all Strika made mention to was a 'he'."
"That's...really not much to go on."
"I know. Were you guys able to find anything useful?"
"Nope," Cyborg said with a shake of his head. "We went through all the papers, news channels, and I scanned every police band I could and got nothing. It's like they just disappeared."
"In that case, we're just going to have to do this the old fashioned way."
"Uh...didn't you say you already tried that?" Beast Boy pointed out.
"No I said I went to see if Slade was still alive. Now I'm going to go scour the streets for any clues as to Terror Sect's whereabouts. And you're going to help me?"
Robin sighed. "All of you. We'll spit up and take different parts of the city. Hopefully we'll be able to turn up something on these guys before they strike again."
"And if we do not?" Starfire queried.
"Then we'll probably get our butts kicked again," Beast Boy interjected, downheartedly.
Robin didn't respond verbally, but the grim look that crossed his face made it quite clear; he would not accept another defeat as an option. They would find Terror Sect and their master and wherever they may be hiding and stop them before they had a chance to carry their plans out any further, whatever they may be.
Ironically, part of the answers Robin seeks lay not too far from where he was previously. In the same sector of the old part of the city, there still stands a meat packing plant. Though long abandoned by its original owners, it now serves as the base of operations for one of Jump City's most notorious felons. The heart of which is stationed in the former room sized freezer used to store the racks of meat. While the chunks of skinned flesh were long gone, the cooling mechanism still worked just fine. This was by design of course. The current occupant of the building preferred colder climates, having gotten use to work in such conditions years before. He found it helped to keep certain sensitive devices free of dust and bacteria. It also gave him a distinct advantage over those who were not use to such environments and thus usually gave him an edge in the conversation. Something that was invaluable in his line of work. Especially considering that fact that some of his clients could be a little...unruly if not kept in line. That is why he preferred to due business over video conferences or here within his lab. Here, he could control things. Here, he was safe.
"Professor Chang," a voice spoke up from the darkness.
Said professor spun towards the source of the voice, shocked someone could have made it into his inner sanctum without his knowledge.
"Who's there?" he asked, searching for the other man.
"A potential costumer," the voice replied.
Try as he might, Prof. Chang couldn't see anything more than a vague outline of the man. The only reason he was sure it was a man was because of how deep the voice sounded. Beyond that, he was unsure of who he was speaking too. Even when he detected movement from his unwanted visitor, he was still draped in shadows, as if the darkness conformed to the man. It reminded him a certain good boy who came to him once or twice in his former hideout in the old observatory. For a moment he thought that perhaps the boy's old mentor come to shut his operation down, but it was quickly dismissed when he finally glimpsed a feature of the other person; a sheen, reflective mask. The dim light of the room bounced off it, drawing Chang's attention to it and only offering the vaguest ideas of what else he wore. He pushed that out of his mind for the moment and focused on the more important question.
"How did you get in here?"
"There are many cracks in your security. You should really get those looked at," the form replied as he began to inspect the instruments laid out on a table. "But that's a matter for later. Right now, as I said, I've come inquire about one of your latest...acquisitions."
"Ah, I see," Prof. Chang replied as he slipped into his professional mode. "But I like to know who I'm doing business with, Mr..."
"Dark. Mr. Dark will do for now."
"Alright then, Mr. Dark. Exactly what 'acquisition' are you talking about? I've acquired a lot recently."
"This one is fairly new. A certain chip."
"Ah, you're referring to the XR-71 chip. A very valuable one, specifically designed to work for a multitude of devices and increase their output exponentially." The gleeful smile soon vanished from the mad scientist's face as he thought the request over. "But how did you know about that? I only very recently came into position of it. I haven't even had time to advertise it yet."
"I have my sources," Mr. Dark replied as he picked up one of the nastiest looking instruments and examined it. "Now, we're both reasonable men. I'm sure we can come to a price that acceptable to both of us."
"I'm sure we can. After what my men had to go through to get the chip, and to make sure those annoying Titans didn't interfere, I think...40 million should suffice."
Mr. Dark raised he head slightly upon hearing the price. "That's unacceptable."
"On the contrary, I think it's quite fair. Particularly when I'm debating with someone who came to me without going through the proper channels. Breaking into my personal sanctum does not put me in a bargaining mood."
"Perhaps not, but I need that chip and I am going to leave here with it. One way or another," the dark clad stranger said as he examined an instrument that looked like a combination of a pair of pliers and a scalpel.
"Is that so? Well I AM willing to work something out," Prof. Chang replied while his hand slowly slid across the bench he was leaning on towards a hidden weapon.
Right as his hand was about to reach it, the instrument Mr. Dark had been holding flew towards him and impaled itself into the bench in such a way that his middle finger was trapped in-between the two blades. He gasped as the suddenness of the attack and sweating began to collect on his borrow when he found out it would be impossible to move his hand without cutting the finger off. He turned his attention back to his "guest", who was not walking towards him with a small hook in his left hand. He stopped just inches from the weapon's dealer and held up the instrument, looking at it thoughtfully before snagging it on the small tube coming out of Prof. Chang's right nostril.
"You know, I have always wondered just what exactly this is for," Mr. Dark said calmly, yanking slightly at the hook. "More importantly, I have wondered what would happen if it were to be removed. Exactly how far back does it go?"
Prof. Chang tried his best not to twitch too much, which at the moment seemed harder than he ever would have thought. For some illogical reason knowing that the wrong move could cost him a finger or worse only seemed to make his body shake even more. He stared into the faceplate before him to try and find some trace of the man behind it, but all he could see was his own terrified face reflecting back to him. Somehow being able to see as well as feel the tube in his nose being pulled added to the state of urgency of the situation, which was no doubt the purpose of the stranger's mask. It also made it impossible to read his expression to know if he was bluffing or not. Of course, given his usual cliental he had the distinct feeling that this man wasn't bluffing. Either way, he didn't want to find out.
"Forty thousand!" Prof. Chang blurted out. "I'll only charge forty thousand for it."
Mr. Dark stood still for a moment before he pulled back and unhooked the instrument.
"I know we could come to an agreement," he said calmly before he pulled the other instrument out of the bench, feeing the professor's hand. "Now then, let's discuss the arrangements."
Prof. Chang nodded eagerly as he walked off to retrieve said chip. As he inspected his hand for cuts, one thought ran through his head:
I need to get out of this city.
Downtown Jump City is a busy place. In stark contrast to the older parts of the city, downtown has numerous buildings standing tall, proud, and reaching towards the sky. While most of them looked similar on the outside, varying only in size and sometimes in shape, on the inside they each had their own unique purposes. Some were businesses, others apartment complexes, somewhere waiting to be rented, but one closely guarded its secrets. To the populace at large, it was just another building standing amongst a plethora of others, but on the inside, it was home to those bent on their destruction. To those who knew, the old adage of hiding in plain sight would come to mind. For beyond the mundane exterior lay the headquarters of Jump City's newest set of villains, the Terror Sect. Here they trained and planed their defeat of the Titans and dominance of the city.
At the moment, however, they were doing what most teenagers like to do; relaxing. Three of the members of the young villain group lounged in the large entertainment room their employer had provided for them. Pyra lay sprawled out on the couch with her right arm tucked under her head while her left arm rested on her stomach. Her head was tilted to the right to stare at the big screen TV at the other end of the room. Much to her dismay, the screen was currently filled with images from a fantasy role-playing game that Tekka was engaged in. Because the fire wielder took up the couch, Tekka was forced to sit cross legged on the floor with her back propped against the bottom half of the couch. A small smile graced her lips as she heard another of Pyra's muttered protests about her game. In addition to being a fun game, it was also the prefect way to pay Pyra back for taking up the whole couch.
"How much longer is this going to take?" the red head groaned.
"Until I get to the next Save Point," Tekka replied.
"You said that three Save Points ago."
"It's a very engrossing game."
"Yeah right. The only thing more boring than actually playing one of those things is watching someone playing it. I like the kind where you just get to go around and blow up stuff!"
"That's because you have no patience. Or tact."
Pyra scoffed. "You're one to talk Ms. Belly Button."
"At least I'm not flashing half my chest to everyone in sight," Tekka countered.
"Hey, this is all about distracting the enemy! And I'll have you know it works just fine! Besides, I still have more on than you."
"And that just makes things right, doesn't it?"
"Of course it does! Beta, you want to use that computer brain of your to tell her I'm right?" Pyra asked, craning her neck towards him.
Tekka looked at him as well and both sets of female eyes saw him sitting in one of the recliners in the room with his jacket thrown over the back of it and his attention fully on the copy of Technology Today in his hands. He spared them only a cursory glance before he went back to the article he had been reading.
"Sorry, but I know enough about human girls than to get into the middle of that kind of conversation," he replied matter-of-factly.
"Oh come on," the fire wielder pleaded. "You have to have some kind of an opinion."
"Nope. None at all."
Pyra scoffed again and before she could make another remark, the door at the end of the room opened and the three turned to watch their leader Strika walk in. She gave them all a quick nod as she walked over to the kitchenette area of the room and pulled out a bottle of water from the fridge. She took a long swig from it before she focused her attention on the three.
"So, what's up?" she asked.
"Well," Pyra started, pulling herself up into a sitting pose to look at Strika. "Tekka here say that my costume shows off too much, which I think is completely hypocritical and that I have no tact."
Strika turned the information over in head for a moment.
"Yeah I could see that," she remarked.
"Figures," the other girl replied as she plopped back down onto the couch. "You two agree on pretty much everything. I swear, it's like you're joined at the hip."
The two girls in question looked at each other for a moment before shaking their heads and laughing. Once the moment passed, Strika looked over the group again and her brow furrowed when she notice one of their number was missing.
"Where's Mercurial?" she asked.
"Where else?" Pyra shot back. "In his room muttering to himself."
"You didn't try to talk to him?"
"I did," Tekka spoke up. "But it didn't seem to go that well. He's in one of his worse moods today."
Strika nodded solemnly as she twisted the cap back onto her bottle.
"I'll go talk to him then," she said.
After placing the bottle back into the fridge, she exited the room through the other door that led towards their living spaces. She walked a steady pace, not in any great hurry to get to the shape shifter's room. This was the part about being team leader that she hated, having to make sure everyone was in good moral. It wasn't that she disliked the job itself, but with a group like this it was a tiring job. It had to be done though. It was one of the first thing Mr. Dark had told them all when he first brought them all together. They had to think of each other as a team and not just a group of villains working together. That had been the downfall of some many other groups. Although they were working for the same overall goals, they each still had their own agendas and so when it came down to it, they could never trust each other. The Terror Sect would not fall prey to such petty differences. They would work together as a team, become friends, family even. So when one member was hurt, the others did what they could to help them.
Unfortunately, this meant mental help as well as physical help. While Strika didn't mind talking with the others, talking with Mercurial always unnerved her. He was a great asset to the team to be sure. His ability to morph his body into various objects gave him a wide range of weapons and being able to take on anyone's form made him perfect for infiltration. More so given the fact that he didn't simply just copy someone's appearance, he practically became them. Every mannerism and tick they had, he was able to replicate. He was even able to duplicate the powers of other metahumans when he took their forms. It was actually an incredible thing to watch.
With these powers came a price, however. Because he was so good at taking on other people's personalities, it seemed somewhere along the line he lost his own. Mr. Dark once told her that when he found Mercurial he was sitting in an alleyway trembling and muttering incoherently to himself. He brought the boy in, hoping to teach how to harness his powers as well as cure his fractured mind. The latter being much more challenging than it appeared. Although he had improved greatly from when he was first brought into the group, Mercurial still tended to keep to himself. Even when they were able to convince him to come out of his room, he still stayed apart from the group and talked very little. Unless of course it was to himself.
Strika stopped just in front of Mercurial's door and took a breath to calm herself before she lightly knocked.
"Merc? You in there?" she asked softly.
"Who is it? What do you want?" the slightly panicked cry came back.
"It's Strika and I just want to talk."
When she received no answer, she took it as his form of inviting her in. She pressed the "Open" button on the small keypad next to the door and it opened with a slight "whoosh". She stepped in to find it lit by a small desk lamp sitting on the bed stand and the open window that Mercurial sat in front of, rocking back and forth slightly in the chair. She walked over to him slowly, careful not to make any sudden movements or noises that might startle him. She glanced out at the window as she sat on the bed and saw that his room had a perfect view of river...and Titan's Tower.
"They're in there," the shape shifter spoke up, surprising her somewhat. "They're in there waiting. Wanting to hurt. But...they also want to save. But also hurt. I...I don't..."
"I know," Strika said quietly. "But they're only hurt us as much as we'll let them. We've already proven we're better than them."
"I-I don't want to fight. But I have to. Have to fight to end fight. I'm so confused," he muttered while he rubbed his temples.
Strika's expression softened and she gently reached over and placed a hand on his shoulder. He jumped a bit at the sudden feeling but when he saw it was her, he calmed down some.
"I know you don't want to fight, but we have to. Once we get rid of the Titans and have this city-this world for our own we can get the best treatment there is. We'll find someone who can help you put the pieces back together," she told him, praying she sounded more confident than she felt.
"Really?" he asked in a hopeful tone. Before she could answer though he jerked away from her with a shake of his head. "No! Can't help. Too many. Just too many. So-so many faces. Voices. People. I-I don't know who I am any more."
"Merc, focus!" she commanded, drawing his attention again. "You need to calm down and think through it. The sessions are helping, aren't they?"
"Yes. Yes they are."
"Good. Then just remember what you learned from them and you'll be alright for now."
He gave another frantic nod before he closed eyes and began breathing in slow, steady breathes. After a moment, he stopped shaking altogether and a calm demeanor seemed to over take him."
"You OK?" she asked, tentatively.
"Yes," he replied in a much more controlled voice, though it still held uncertainty.
"Good. Then when you feel you're up to it the rest of us are hanging out in the lounge. You're welcome to come."
"I...might. In-in a bit."
She nodded then stood up and walked briskly toward the door. She glanced over her shoulder at him one last time before stepping out into the hall. Once the door closed behind her, she leaned against it and let out a sigh.
"Having another one of his episodes, I take it."
She jolted upright at the sound of the voice and then turned to see the real leader of the Terror Sect standing before her.
"Sir!" she said sharply.
"No need for that," Mr. Dark replied, holding up a gloved hand.
"Sorry, it's just an impulse."
"One I've tried to break you off many times."
"I...I know," she said as she lowered her head and held onto her left arm.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of, just a habit you need to break. And I'm assuming from your posture that Mercurial had another lapse."
"Yes. I tried to do what I could to help but..." she shook her head. "It's going to take a lot more than either of us have."
"I know. We can only hope that his sanity holds out long enough for us to complete our plans. After which we will find him the helps he needs."
There was a moment of silence.
"Mr. Dark?" she asked tentatively. "May I ask where you were coming from just now?"
"Simply acquiring something I needed for the device. I can't send you to do all my work for me. Though I will require you to head out later tonight for a new component."
"We'll be ready sir," she nodded.
"Good. I think I'll accompany you this time. I want to meet the Titans in person and, not to sound too cliché, make them an offer they dare not refuse."
Strika nodded again, but this time her face held a look of confusion as Mr. Dark walked away from her. Out of all the members of Terror Sect, she spent the most time talking to him and working with him on his plans. They had a mutual trust and respect for each other, but there were still times when he kept his business secret from her. While she didn't always like it, she accepted it and moved on. This was obviously one of those times. All she knew was that whatever he had in mind for the Titans it wouldn't be good for them. And that thought made her smile.
Robin's growl was drowning out by the roar of his R-cycle's engine. As he had suggested the Titans split up and scoured the city for any traces of their newest foes. The search had started in the late afternoon and looked like it would stretch long into the night. He didn't want to call the search off just yet, but he knew the others would be getting tired soon and therefore getting sloppy. Unlike him, they didn't have the luxury of late night scouting and raids so he knew they weren't use to keeping such hours. If he had to, he could at least still look for clues on his own. It wasn't an idea he particularly liked, but neither was letting a group of criminals get away. Another thing his prestigious upbringing taught him; how to obsess over keeping the city free from undesirables. Although he wasn't as connected to Jump City as his mentor was to his city just yet, he could still feel something was wrong. He just didn't know where.
"Robin, it's Cyborg, come in," the radio in his helmet crackled.
"Robin here, what is it?" he asked, hoping it was something useful.
"Got a report of a break-in in the business district. Got the T-Car right outside the building now so all you gotta do is follow the homing signal."
The Boy Wonder glanced down at the small screen built into the R-Cycle and just as Cyborg said, the distinctive beep of the Titan's primary mode of transportation was there. And not too far from where he was right now. A smile graced Robin's lips before he responded.
"I'll be right there. Robin out."
He closed the connection before his teammate could respond then jerked on the handlebars so that the motorcycle whipped around and sent him to his new distinction. Though he arrived in only a few minutes, it still felt like hours to him. He was anxious to get this fight started and over with as quickly as they could. Thankfully, when he arrived he saw the other Titan's had already gotten there, with Starfire landing just as he pulled the R-Cycle up along side the T-Car. He slipped off his helmet and placed in on the gas tank before walking over towards the others.
"Is this it?" he asked, looking up at the tall building in front of them.
"Yep. Report said, five costumed teenagers brought in about half hour ago and since we're all here..." Cyborg let the sentence hang.
"It has to be them," Robin finished as he punched his right fist into the palm of his left hand. "Let's go."
The Titans followed their leader inside the building to the spacious, and at the moment dimly lit, lobby. He made a few hand motions as a signal for them to start looking for any clues as to where the Terror Sect may have gone. A quick inspection of the area revealed that even with as large as the lobby was, there weren't many options for their enemies to hide there.
"Maybe they already left," Beast Boy hoped.
"No, they're here. I feel it," Robin said darkly.
"OK, but where? My sensors aren't picking up anything," Cyborg informed him as he looked at the computer build into his right arm.
"They could be jamming you. Raven, can you pick anything up?"
"I could try, but it might take a few minutes and-"
"Perhaps this is where they have gone," Starfire interrupted from her place in front of the directory board.
Robin walked over to see exactly what she was pointing to. His eyebrow quirked when he saw the name of the company on the 7th floor.
"Infinite Technologies, Inc?" he mused. "Looks like the right place. Good work Starfire."
The alien girl beamed as they both turned to face the others.
"Alright Titans, looks like we're going to the 7th floor," Robin proclaimed.
"7th floor, go it!" Beast Boy remarked as he darted over to the elevators and pressed the "Up" button.
"It's the middle of the night and the building is shut down," Raven started in her usual "lecturing Beast Boy" voice. "Do you really think-"
Again she was cut off, this time by the hum of the elevator as it began to slide down the shaft. Beast Boy crossed his arms over his chest and gave her a smug look.
"Lucky," she muttered.
"No," Robin counted darkly.
"Trap?" Cyborg ventured.
"So then what should we do? They're probably waiting up there for us right now."
A smirk played on Robin's features as the elevator chimed and the doors slid open.
"Then let's not keep them waiting," he mused as he walked forward.
The others looked at each other before they shrugged and followed him into the elevator. Once they were situated comfortably enough, Robin pressed the button for their desired floor and they all waited as the machine began to move. As they rode upwards into what was obviously a trap, they had to wonder what was worse; the anticipation of the fight that lay ahead or the muzak version of Air Supply's "All Out of Love" playing over the speakers. They decided the latter was worse once Beast Boy began to hum along to the tune. They turned their attention to their green-skinned friend and gave him odd looks. He blushed when he realized they were all looking at him.
"What? I like this song," he said sheepishly.
Before anyone could make a remark, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Cyborg shifted his right arm into its sonic cannon form while Starfire powered up her Starbolts. They took the lead out of the elevator to allow time for Robin to ready his weapons and for Raven to get into the proper mindset. Beast Boy hung into the back, not sure what he could do now. They looked around the immediate area for anything out of place, but thanks to the lights being dimmed for the night, it was hard to make anything out. What they could see was a large main room, much like the lobby, filled mostly with rows of cubicles with numerous hallways, no doubt leading off to comfortable corner offices. As they continued to scan the office space, a sudden noise caught their attention. It sounded like a light squeaking that was moving towards them, rather quickly. It took a moment for them to realize it was coming from behind them and in quick, fluid motions Cyborg and Starfire spun around and began firing...right at the cleaning lady's cart. The frightened woman jumped back down the hallway as her cart was incinerated by a barrage of Starbolts and sonic waves.
"Whoa! Whoa! Hold it!" Robin shouted once he realized their mistake.
The two stopped their attacks at their leader's behest, and once they realized what they had down their cheeks turned red with embarrassment.
"What the hell are you doing?" the cleaning lady asked as she poked her head out at them.
"Sorry," Cyborg offered.
"I am sorry as well," Starfire added.
"We're all sorry," Robin finished.
"Yeah we thought you were someone else," Beast Boy piped in.
The older woman looked at them like they're all crazy before she went to salvaging what she could from her cart. Robin sighed then turned back around to face his team.
"This isn't going to work," he said.
"At least now we know we can take on the old cleaning ladies," Beast Boy retorted, earning him a poke in the ribs from Raven.
"I think we need to split up," Robin continued.
"Good idea. We can do more damage that way."
This time it was Raven who made the snide remark, earning her a harsh glare from the Boy Wonder. She shrugged uncaringly but remained silent. Robin took this as his cue to continue issuing his orders.
"Raven, Beast Boy, Starfire and I will each take different hallways. Cyborg, stay out here and see if you can find anything or anyone suspicious. Just...make sure you look first this time."
"Hey that wasn't my fault!" Cyborg protested. "You said this was a trap so I was on edge!"
"I still think it's a trap. But it proves there might be some employees here as well so we need to be careful. Oh and Starfire?"
"Yes?" she asked, afraid she might get a lecture as well.
He looked back over his shoulder at the cleaning woman before he addressed her.
"Can you help her get out of the building safely?"
"I will do my best."
After a quick nod to her, the team split off in separate directions. As Cyborg began to look behind the cubicle walls, Starfire cautiously approached the woman she had just been shooting at moments earlier.
"Please do not be afraid. I am not here to do you...further harm," she told the frightened woman softly.
"Are you sure? Cause my health insurance doesn't cover this," the woman replied.
"Yes I am sure. I wish to escort you out of this building so that you may be safe."
"Well...alright. But there's something I forgot in the back office down there," she replied, pointing to the hallway she had just come from.
"I shall accompany you while you retrieve it then."
The woman gave her a suspicious look but then shrugged and motioned for the alien girl to follow her. Starfire did as she was instructed, following the older woman down the dimly lit hall, looking from side to side for anything out of the ordinary. She watched the woman slip inside the office at the end of the hall then stood in the open doorway, still watching for any sign of their opponents.
"Please, we must hurry. It is not safe-ack!"
Starfire's word caught in her throat, along with her breath, when a large hand grasped her throat as she turned into the room. Gone was the older cleaning lady and in her place stood a muscular man about seven feet tall. He was dressed in a mostly red costume with a black, leather flame pattern going across the top of his biceps. He wore a leather mask with a similar design, though he didn't need it because his stringy hair covered most of his face. The hand he had wrapped around her throat was covered by a black glove while he other hand, and arm for that matter was exposed. He yanked her into the room and stared her in the eyes before he held up over his head then brought her down with full force onto the desk sitting in the middle of the room. It shattered under at the impact and Starfire moaned as she lay in the middle of broken wood. She forced her eyes opened just in time to see a big, black boot coming down on her face. She brought her hands forward to catch the foot then pushed back and sent the man falling to the floor. She levitated and fired a Starbolt at him, but he rolled out of the way.
As he rolled his body shifted once more. This time he turned into an equally large...creature but his muscles were larger and he was covered in a black costume with clawed hands and a giant white spider across his chest and continuing on his back. The most frightening aspect of his creature was his wide mouth full of jagged teeth and unnaturally long tongue. It stared at her with white eyes that looked to be a part of the head before he lunged at her, surprisingly quick of its size. It grabbed her wrists and held her down on the floor with the rest of its body.
"We will suck the marrow from your bones," it slobbered, green drool dripping out of his mouth.
"You shall do no such thing!" Starfire shouted as her eye glowed.
A quick shot from her eye Starbolts sent the creature flying into the air. It flipped around in the air, just grazing the roof of the office, then landed perfectly on its feet, shifting again as it did so. Where the creature once was, now stood a man in a mostly blue costume that was highlighted by gold boots, gloves and a red belt with an "X" on the buckle. He reached up to a gold visor covering his eyes and placed his fingers on a button.
"If that's how you want to play it," he replied before he pressed the button.
A red beam shot out of his eyes, hitting Starfire square in the stomach and sending flying through the window to the outside. She recovered quickly enough to stop her fall and start flying back up to the window to deal with her opponent. She stopped and let out a gasp when she saw a new figure standing the hole, smiling viciously down at her. It was a very familiar figure that she didn't think she would see again anytime soon.
"Blackfire?" she asked but then quickly shook her head. "No! You are not my sister!"
"Maybe not," the faux Blackfire retorted as she glided out the window. "But I know enough of her moves and her powers to kick your ass."
"We shall see whose ass it to be kicked!"
The two combatants glared at each other as their hands were encased in green or purple glows then darted towards one another. A sound akin to that of thunder rang out when their fists met amid a light show that would put most firework displays to shame. It was an opening gambit that showed there would be no quarter asked and none given.
Cyborg was investigating the cubicles in the main area when he heard a loud crash coming from one of the hallways. His head immediately sprang up from the desk he was looking under and he started running towards the source of the sound. He started to, but he didn't get very far. Before he could even clear the first cubicle, his body froze and lifted into the air a few inches. He tried to struggle against the invisible force, but it was to no avail. After a moment or more of struggling, he finally did move. Unfortunately, it was flying backwards at a rapid speed and stopped only when he slammed into the wall at the other end of the room. He groaned as he pulled himself from the Cyborg shaped hole then fell forward into his hands and knees. When he picked himself up, he noticed another figure, definitely female and clad in blue leather standing in the middle of one of the cubicles. Once he got his bearings back, he aimed his sonic cannon at her.
"You wouldn't shoot a helpless girl, now would you?" Tekka asked in a sugary sweet tone.
"Normally, no. But then again you're not helpless," he replied before he sent a wave of sonic energy at her.
The blast was deflected off a telekinetic shield and shot upwards, destroying part of the drop tile ceiling.
"Careful. You don't want to hurt anyone, remember?" she admonished. "I on the other hand..."
The rest of her statement came in the form of a computer monitor lifting into the air and flying towards him. He blasted it with no problems, but it proved to be enough of a distraction so that the large desk, did hit him. He let out a growl of frustration and threw the desk off him just in time to duck out of the way of a filing cabinet. He fired a series of blasts at the dark skinned girl but each one of those was deflected as well. In a desperate move, he reverted cannon back into a normal hand, then picked up the cabinet that had just been thrown at him and threw it back to her. This proved to be a mistake, however, as it stopped just inches from her fact and when sailing back to him, this time much too fast for him to move out of the way. He pushed the metal object off himself and sighed.
"Well this is getting annoying," he muttered.
Raven's head had jerked back at the first crash she heard. When they turned into a series of sounds, that's when she turned around to go see what the commotion was. This left her wide open to an attack from behind. Or at least would have, had she not heard the stairwell door open and erected a dark energy shield around herself just as she was engulfed in flames. She waited for the flames to die down before she turned to find Pyra standing at the other end of the hall, a demented smile on her face and both hand encased in fire.
"Guess I do need to work on that stealth thing. Oh well, it'll be much more fun to see your face when you're screaming anyway," she gloated.
"And Beast Boy thinks I'm the dark one," Raven mused.
"Oh really? Well then, here's some light!"
Pyra cackled joyously as she sent another barrage of flames towards the young sorceress. Once again, Raven erected a shield to protect herself, but even through it, she could feel the heat of the flames. Sweat began to form on her forehead through a combination of heat and mental exertion.
"You can't keep that up forever!" Pyra taunted.
Much as she hated to admit it, the flamer thrower was right, eventually the strain would be too much and the shield would drop, causing her to be fried like so much chicken. Fortunately, deflecting Pyra's constant stream of fire gave her an idea on how to quickly end this fight. She weakened her shield just enough to allow her the energy to engulf one of the metal trashcans in the hallway. She furrowed her brow in concentration and sent the can on a careful path under the streams of fire and towards its source. That is to say, letting it smack Pyra full force and knocking her down to the floor with a nasty bruise already forming on her cheek. Once the fire was gone, Raven dropped her shield and used her powers to rip off the ends of the sprinkler heads, flooding the hall with water. That done, she then ripped off the cords to the blinds on one of the windows then sent it down to the fallen red head, tied her up and threw her back out into the stairwell. She then sighed in exhaustion and looked down at her now soaking cape and leotard.
"Well...I guess it's better than being roasted," she quipped to herself.
She pulled back her rapidly falling hood then turned and moved back through the hallway towards the unmistakable sounds of fighting ahead of her. She almost neared the end of the hallway when she noticed the sounds of the sprinkler stop. She thought that they had simply run out of water but that was quickly proven wrong when a sudden blast of heat hit her back and sent her flying forward and sliding on the carpeted floor. She groaned and rubbed her hand on her back to check for any swelling. Thankfully, she found none, contributing it to her damp cape and the relatively low powered blast. She rolled over to see that not only where the head to the sprinklers all melted shut but Pyra was free and completely dry.
"How?" Raven asked.
"Precise body temp control," Pyra informed her in a low growled. "But that's not that issue. THIS is," she pointed to the bruise on her cheek. "You ruined my beautiful face. You are gonna PAY for that bitch!"
She let out a feral scream for unleashing an assault of fireballs that was barely able to dodge them and even the ones she did started small fires on the floor. She tried to think of some way to fight back, but really all she could think of was how much burn cream they had back at the tower. No matter the outcome of the fight, she knew she was going to need a lot of it.
Beast Boy jerked slightly as another boom filled the air. This time it was definitely one of the ones coming from outside. He was getting confused by all the loud banging noises he heard from some place or another. He wanted to go help his friends, but he wasn't sure which way to go. He almost went to the fight that sounded closest when he caught something out of the corner of his eye. He turned towards it and through the open door to a corner office, he could see out the window at the bright green streak buzzing past it.
"Star?" he wondered aloud, slowly creeping towards the door.
He instantly regretted going through the doorway because the moment he passed the threshold, a metal bo staff struck out from the darkness and hit him in the stomach. He let out a grunt at the pain and air escaping his lungs and then was roughly thrown into the room by his scruff of his neck. He picked himself up off the floor only to stare Strika face-to-face. Before he could even think of something to say, she lashed out with an open palm attack to his chest, knocking him down again.
Wow, she can hit, he thought as he rubbed the sore spot on his chest.
As soon as the thought had passed through his mind, Strika attacked again, this time swinging her bo-staff down to strike him in the shoulder. He avoided the attack by changing into a fly and simply flying out of the way. He flew close to the ceiling and then turned into a spider monkey, planning to fall into the villianess's face and confuse her. This plan failed, however, when he caught the business end of her staff to his chest again. She used the inertia to flip him over her head and slam him down into the floor. He switched back to his human form and glared at her.
"Dude! Seriously how many times are you going to hit me with that thing!" he shouted indignantly.
"As many time as it takes," she replied.
"Well then...try to hit this!"
With that, Beast Boy's shape grew larger as he changed into a grizzly bear. He lunged forward with a swipe of his massive claw, intending to cut the staff and two and hopefully knock her down. Unfortunately, she proved to be too quick and tucked the attack with a forward roll that brought her next to his stomach. She unleashed a flurry of punches on him before she grabbed the bear's arms and used them to propel herself upwards in a spinning kick that landed neatly on his bottom jaw. The Beast Boy bear stumbled back a bit and rubbed his now swore jaw a best he could with his paws. Deciding to change tactics once again, he turned into a giant boa and slithered across the floor. Fortunately, he was able to wrap up Strika before she could counteract him this time. He smiled as much as his snake form would allow and began to squeeze her, hoping just to knock her out.
Strika groaned as she struggled against the cold, reptilian skin surrounding her body. Her fingers struggled with a compartment on her utility belt, trying to fight through the pressure being applied to them was harder than she thought. She wouldn't have to deal with it too much longer if she could only get the compartment opened. A smile spread across her lips when she her the satisfying click, then slipped two fingers into it and pulled out a device that resembled a syringe and jabbed it into the scaly skin. She pressed the button on the top and Beast Boy's body shook violently as an electrical charge ran through him. He disentangled himself from her and subconsciously changed back into his human form as he fell to the floor. Strika took a moment to breath before prodding the green boy's limp form with her foot. When he didn't move, she smiled to herself.
"Now that that's over with," she mused and walked over to the desk.
She crossed behind it and sat down at the chair and in front of the computer sitting on top of the desk. She pulled out a modified flash drive from her belt and slipped it into the USB port on the tower. Once the computer was turned on, it automatically unlocked the password and went about finding the program she needed. In practically no time, the message box "Copy Complete" popped up on screen. She took the device out of the tower and placed it back into her belt, leaving no trace what so ever that she been in the computer. She turned it off then stood and started to walk out of the room. She looked down at Beast Boy again.
"Can't forget you," she said as she bent down and grabbed the back of his collar then processed to drag him behind her.
Robin was about to go see what all the ruckus was about, but Beta had cut his escape off by launching his tentacle at the Titan leader. Robin deflected the attack with his bo-staff and was now jumping and dodging a barrage of laser blasts. He threw a handful of Bird-a-rangs towards them but they were all shot down before they could get near him. Robin used the distraction to pole vault himself over to the Terror Sect member and land a drop kick to his chest. He landed his target, but it barely moved the metal man. The Boy Wonder recovered from the failed attack with a flip and landed in a crouching position. He threw an explosive disk at Beta, which did find the mark and did have an effect on him, knocking him down the hallway as it exploded. When he recovered Beta locked on to Robin with his arm mounted laser and tried to fire, but soon around the barrel was blocked with a Bird-a-rang. He let out a howl as it the top of the weapon exploded, only the built in fail safes keeping him from losing that arm entirely. Still, most of the cannon was gone so now his arm had a gaping hole in it until he could get it repaired. He rolled down his jacket sleeve and glared at his opponent.
"I really liked that laser," he growled.
"Sorry, can't seem to care right now," Robin retorted.
"Then I'll just have to make you care," Beta shouted then launched the tentacle from his left arm.
Again, Robin tried to deflect it with his staff, but this time the metal coil wrapped around his weapon and gave it a hard yank. The speed and force was enough to pull Robin from his feet and send him flying towards the android. Right where Beta waited with closed fist and arm locked, ready to strike in a second. Knowing that such a blow would most likely kill him, the masked boy twisted the staff to the right and let go. The force was enough to twist his body away from the impending attack and allow him to land safely next to the inner window of an office. Undeterred by this change of events, Beta through the staff away when it reached his hand then ran forward with blinding speed. He grabbed Robin's shirt then lifted him up, spun around once then threw him through the window and into the office. Robin used his cape to protect his face from the shards of glass around him but could do nothing to stop his flight. He bounced off the desk and crashed to the floor, knocking the wheeled chair out of the way as he did so. He groaned and placed his hand over his now throbbing chest, figuring he must have reopened the wound again.
Beta chuckled at his own handy work, then smashed the wooden railing running along what was left of the window as he stepped into the office. He shot his tentacle out again and impaled the desk, missing Robin's head by mere centimeters. He hooked the cord around the edge of the desk then jerked his arm back, causing the piece of furniture to fly upwards and smash against the ceiling near where he was standing.
"Peek-a-boo. I see you," he cooed dementedly at the now exposed Robin.
Seeing that he had no other choice, the caped crusader got to his feet and took a fighting stance.
"Aw, that's cute. You actually think you can stand against me," Beta mocked. "Face it, no matter how good you think you are, the only one of you Titans that stands chance against me is Cyborg. And maybe that Starfire girl. But by now they're probably both downstairs and half conscious."
Robin's brow quirked at that statement. He smirked a plan started to form.
"You know, you're right, there is something you do a lot better than me."
"Of course. But humor me, what exactly is it?"
"You talk too much!"
Robin emphasized his point by throwing down a few smoke pellets, the quickly filled the room in a thick haze. While he knew it wouldn't keep the android off guard for long he knew it would disorientate him long enough for him to past him. Once out of the office, he made a beeline for the elevator he and the others had come up on. True to Beta's word, the other Titans were nowhere to be found, but then neither were the other members of Terror Sect. He didn't know whether to be relived or more upset by that fact. He nearly smashed the "Down" button when he got to it and anxiously waited for the elevator. Unfortunately, during that wait, a familiar coil snaked around his left ankle and pulled him backward. Beta had a malicious gleam in his eye as he swung the boy into one of the few cubicle walls that still stood. He then pulled his arm the other way and smashed him into a wall. Despite himself, Robin let out a scream as the collision pulled at his chest wound even more. As Beta tried for another round of "Smash Robin", Titan pulled out another explosive disk and tossed it towards the android's arm. Though it didn't quite reach its target, it did land well enough to cut the line and send him flying into the now open elevator. He picked himself up, stumbled over to the button pad, and pressed the one for the lobby. The door closed just as Beta reached them and tired to punch through them, leaving a deep, fist shaped dent in the doors.
Robin sighed and backed up against the wall then slid to the floor. His body was bruised and broken and the only thing keeping him from passing out was the thought of helping his friends. He just wasn't sure how to do that just yet. He hoped that the other Titans had been able to get a few licks of their own in on the other members of Terror Sect so that they wouldn't be in fighting form either. He hoped, but didn't count on it. If they weren't, then he had no idea on how he would pull them out of this mess. The elevator stopped and the doors chimed open much too early for him. Mustering all the strength he could, he limped out of the elevator, across the lobby and out the front doors.
Outside, he saw a sight that made his heart sink even more. The Titans all lay in an undignified heap, Cyborg so far into the ground that he looked like he had been thrown out from the 7th floor, while all the remaining members of Terror Sect stood over them. Thankfully, his team hadn't gone down without a fight and the villains all sported some bruises of their own, though nowhere near as bad as those the Titans had sustained. He stared at them and they stared back at him, each one seeming to dare the other to make a move. That move came in the form of Beta slapping Robin on the back and sending him forward with the rest of his defeated team.
"Sorry I'm late," Beta spoke up. "He's a lot tougher than he looks."
"I know," Strika replied, looking down at Robin.
"So-so now what?" Mercurial asked nervously.
"I say we fry 'em. Especially the witch!" Pyra remarked with a dangerous gleam in her eye.
"You'll do nothing of the sort," a new, deeper voice broke in.
Robin propped himself up on his hands and forced his head up to see the newcomer. What he saw was a man dressed in a long, black trench coat that was buttoned all the way up, covering at least a pair of black pants and books. On his head a black fedora, head that rested on top of a slimmed down helmet with a reflected mask covering up his face. His hands were in the coat's pockets and he walked with a casual step, coming to stop just before the fallen Titans. By the way, the Terror Sect member stepped aside for him, Robin assumed this man was their true leader.
"Who-who are you?" he asked, drawing from quickly fading strength.
"I am Mr. Dark. As I'm sure you've figured out by now I was the one up put together this fine group," he motioned to standing teens.
"Why? Why are you doing this?"
"Please. Don't insult me by assuming I'll tell you all my plans. All you need to know is that I am here before you now to offer you a deal."
"Look around you Robin," Mr. Dark replied, pulling his hand out of his pockets and arching them wide. "This city is just full of people and buildings. Buildings full of offices like the one you just destroyed. It was empty tonight, but imagine if I had my group attack during the day. Your Teen Titans have experience the force my Terror Sect can unleash, imagine what they could do to innocent bystanders."
Robin's eyes widened at the implication of that statement.
"You...bastard," he spat.
"Perhaps," Mr. Dark agreed, placing his hands back in his pockets. "But really, you're no better. You claim to be acting in the interest of the people, and yet how many get caught in the crossfire of your battles? How many innocent people have been hurt because a fight dragged on just a little too long? Do you even think about these facts? I'm assuming you do. That it haunts your dreams late a night. People hurt, perhaps dead because of your carelessness. Well I make you this promise Robin, more will get hurt if you continue to fight my group. Is that what you really want?" He shook his head. "No, I don't think so. So I offer you this deal, just this one time. Walk away. Just walk away. Go back to your tower, patch yourselves up and never cross our paths again. Just walk away and we can avoid all the needless bloodshed."
"And let you take over the city? The world? Never," Robin growled, the determination in his voice renewed.
"Now Robin, think about this carefully. What would the other Titans say."
"We...would agree," Starfire suddenly said, pulling herself to her feet.
"Yeah. We're not letting some goof in a fancy mask bully us," Cyborg added, rising as well.
"No matter how much it may hurt," Raven joined in.
"Or how many times we get our butts kicked," Beast Boy finished.
Robin smiled to himself as he suddenly found the strength to stand as well, albeit shakily. He pulled himself up to as much height as his bruises would let him and stared Mr. Dark directly in the face. Though the faceplate he could the reflection of himself and the other Titans. They looked the bloodied, bruised, and ready to fall down at any moment, but there was something else he could see. It was in there eyes, beaming as brightly in the reflection as it would in reality; determination. As sign that though they may be hurt for now they were far from beaten.
"Well, I think you have your answer," the Titan's leader responded.
A small, amused sound came from Mr. Dark.
"Very well," he said, and in the distance they could here a helicopter approaching. "But remember what I said. Our battle will be long and drawn out. Many lives will hurt or perhaps lost. A great deal of damage will be done to your city. And all of it, all the pain and suffering and bloodshed, all of it will be on your heads."
The helicopter appeared above them as he finished his speech and began to lower to the ground. The Terror Sect members were already heading for it as Mr. Dark continued to stare at them, his coat tails and belt flowing from the wind of the propellers as he held his had in place.
"Just remember, I gave you a chance to avoid the coming devastation and you spat in my face. Think about it heroes," he spat the last word out as if it were poisonous then turned and followed his team into the helicopter.
The Teen Titans simply watched at the vehicle took off once again. Although their wills were strong enough to follow him, their bodies simply were not. Instead, they watched helplessly as their newest enemies flew off, the words for Mr. Dark floating through their heads. Whatever their coming battles may hold they would face them together as a team, and that would get them through it all. They couldn't tell what was going to happen. The only thing they knew, was that this was just the beginning.
THE END...for now.
Author's Notes: First off, I want to apologize for the MASSIVE delay in getting this chapter out. All I can say is that the combination of work and school is a bitch! Specially since this is my last year and the classes I need to take pile on the homework. So pretty much after all that I had little time/energy to write on this story. So I hope whoever was following the story before my little hiatus is still reading and I maybe the sudden reappearance of the fic will get some new people to read it. Now that that's out of the way, I hope those of you how ARE reading enjoyed the chapter and aren't too upset that it's not a complete ending. I do have a plan in place to make this an overall arch alla the seasons of the Teen Titans cartoon. Admitly that plan has been pushed back more than I would have liked, but I'm still going to go ahead with it. I just don't know how long it will take. Hopefully you will all stay with it was I plan to involve all sorts of new villians and heros and deathtraps and all that fun stuff. "There will be surprises around every corner but nothing dangerous". Well...not dangerous for the reader at least. I think tihs show it'll be plenty dangerous for the Titans. But where would the fun be if it wasn't?
Oh and I feel I should mention this. In addition to my school work I do plan on writing fics for other shows as well, so don't be surprised if the next story in this arch is slow in showing up. The first thing I need to finish now that this is done is a Kim Possible/Havery Birdman Attorney At Law crossover. If I don't, I think my roommate will hurt me. So look for that.
Now then, onto the reader reviews(as if anyone remembers what they wrote):
JustIce37: Well as I said above I hope you liked this chapter and I know it didn't reveal much of their plans, but it's all in small steps. All will be made clear in time. And yes, that PEZ thing was from the Seinfeld ep. Now the question is, can you catch all the pop culture references in this chapter?
TDG3RD: Nope, not Slade. Mr. Dark is his own person he just likes to keep his real name and face a secret like most villians do. It's their thing.
Sleeping Bag: Thanks for the heads up on the spelling stuff and hopefully this chapter didn't have as many mistakes. Really though I need to take time out to thank my beta reader Ayanna Wildfire for making me look a hell of a lot better than I do. Don't know what I would do without her. Thanks for the praise on the dialouge too. I really try to follow the Joss Weadon example where if you have to do heavy dialouge, make the characters as interesting as you can so it doesn't feel like a big exposition dump. Seems I have acheived that. I am happy. Hope the first half of this chap held up to those standards.