"Swipe" by Ed Alger aka "SecondLevelWriter"
TEEN TITANS (c) Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. TEEN TITANS and all related characters and elements are trademarks of DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.
Brand names, like Wheaties or Nike or Reebok or whatever, are trademarks of their respective companies. Think of it as free advertising. :) Also, references to Dungeons and Dragons are property of Wizards of the Coast.
Timeline: This story takes place after "Winner Take All" but just before "Betrayal". Later parts will occur around "Deception" and "Wavelength."
Chapter 1 : Formal Introductions
The streets of Jump City are always quiet around midnight, with the only disturbances being committed by the stray animals that prowl the alleys. However, one of them is neither a dog nor a cat.
Keeping to the shadows, the prowler carefully approached the front door of Senator Goodson's mansion. A quick appraisal of the lock showed that no amount of picking could possibly get it open. The sudden approach of a car practically dispelled the shadow, sending him back to the alley in the blink of an eye. After poking his head out to ensure the coast has cleared, he returns to his work; carefully examining each window for some flaw, until he finds a kitchen window with a slightly loose pane of glass. Digging into his utility belt, he fishes out a suction cup and a small cutting tool to work the glass free of its frame. As he works, he begins muttering to himself, perhaps as a way to maintain his concentration.
"And the level 3 rogue makes his Open Lock check... he has a plus-ten to this roll..."
Or perhaps he's just plain crazy.
Anyway, the glass pops out, and the burglar reaches in to easily unlock and open the window. After carefully and silently crawling inside and replacing the glass in its frame, he looks over the room while gleefully rubbing his hands together. He makes his way to his first target, which is neither a safe or jewelry stash, but the refrigerator. With a Grinch-like sense of precision, he swiftly cleans out over three-quarters of its contents and feasts.
His stomach sated, the intruder takes a pan of leftover meatloaf and a half-full bottle of soda (declaring it "for the road") and leaves the mansion the same way he entered. Just as he emerges from the alleyway, his visions of an early lunch are interrupted by the sight of a familiar quintet of superheroes: the Teen Titans. Now it begins...
"Snacktime's over for you, pal," Robin informed the perpetrator.
"Efcuzz me, buh muh nehzz Fifph!" he answered back, his mouth still stuffed with a corndog.
"He said 'Excuse me, but my name's Swipe,'" Beast Boy translated, earning strange looks from his teammates. "What? What'd I say?"
"Only you could have figured that out," Raven said in her usual dry tone.
The would-be thief finished his mouthful of corndog and spit out the remaining stump before stepping out of the shadows. He is a scruffy young man, probably about 14 or 15 years old, with short, unkempt black hair and shifty brown eyes. A ratty black t-shirt covers his thin frame, and a small utility belt holds up slightly frayed denim shorts. His worn-out sneakers suggest that he is quite active in what he does.
"So, you are the one behind the other burglaries," Starfire remarked as the rogue emerged. Swipe smiled proudly at what he considered a great compliment.
"But you sure have some weird tastes. Everything that's been reported stolen has been food, odds and ends, gadgets... There've even been reports of someone rooting through the dumpsters behind the mall after dark," Cyborg added, which made the thief's smile diminish considerably.
"Hey now! I'll have you know I stole somethin' very valuable the day before yesterday!" he protested.
"That's true," Robin conceded, "but we also heard a report that the North Star sapphire had later been donated to a local charity."
"So? I was feeling generous that night," Swipe retorted while beginning to fidget. He was prone to doing that when he had to stay still for a certain amount of time. The leader of the Titans noticed this, and grinned to himself in anticipation. Not getting any response, the rogue continued, "Hey, look, if you're gonna bust me for helping myself to the 'good' senator's potato salad at twelve o'clock at night, then I'm afraid you're gonna have to catch me first. Now, if you'll excuse me..."
Before anyone could so much as blink, Swipe was already gone - racing down the street at an unbelievable speed. While Beast Boy gave an impressed whistle, Robin instead issued his trademark command.
Raven and Starfire immediately took to the air while Beast Boy shifted into cheetah form to take up the chase on land. Cyborg called the T-Car in from a nearby sidestreet, and climbed into the driver's seat with Robin riding shotgun. Once they were on the road, Robin activated the communicator.
"Remember, we're not really going to capture him. We just want to see how good he is."
"From the looks of it, I'd say he's pretty good," Raven answered as a sudden sizzle from her dark shield rattled their eardrums. "We're going as fast as we can, and he's still keeping a good lead on us.."
"And he is THROWING things at us!" Starfire interjected, accompanied by the sound of starbolts blasting metal.
Robin and Cyborg each quirked an eyebrow.
"What kinda things?" the cybernetic Titan asked after a beat.
"They look like knives," Raven replied just as three more deflections were registered. "Dull knives."
The two Titans exchanged confused looks. "Dull knives?"
"Think he knows we don't plan on bustin' him?" Cyborg inquired.
"Maybe. Or else he doesn't want to seriously hurt them," Robin answered as he turned back to the comm. "Beast Boy, how're you holding up?"
The sight of an extremely winded green cheetah told him more than enough. Beast Boy reverted to his humanoid form so he could give his report.
"Dude... he's just... just too fast..." he said between pants.
Just as he had spoken those words, a black and blue streak shot past him. The event would instantly renew the green Titan's determination.
"THERE HE IS! I'M GOIN' AFTER HIM!"
The shapeshifter took on the form of a hummingbird, and the chase was on once again. It wouldn't take long for Swipe to realize he had a follower, and he flung a trio of blunted knives as a deterrant. All attacks missed, thanks to Beast Boy's diminuitive form. The rogue then tried some evasive maneuvers, zigzagging through alleys and sidestreets in an effort to lose his pursuer. Unfortunately for him, hummingbirds can turn on a dime.
As he raced into another alley, he saw a wooden fence blocking the way through. Beast Boy also noticed this and decided to switch back to being a cheetah to press his advantage. The shapeshifter's momentum wouldn't last long, however, as Swipe threw five of his sharpened knives into the fence to form a makeshift ladder. The thief easily scrambled over the obstacle. Cheetah-morphed Beast Boy, however, crashed headfirst into the fence.
Again reverting to humanoid form, the green Titan fumbled for his communicator, "Never mind, you guys..."
At that point, Starfire suddenly cut in, "I have visualization! I am in pursuit!"
"I think you mean 'visual confirmation'," Swipe corrected her, still running at breakneck speed.
"Oh.. right. I, uh, thank you for telling me the proper term."
"No problem," the thief replied as he took a sharp left turn. Starfire remained in hot pursuit.
"In appreciation, I would like to offer you the chance to surrender right now so that I do not have to fight you."
"Sorry, Sweetcheeks, but you heard what I said. You've gotta catch me first!"
"My name is not 'Sweetcheeks'! It is Starfire!"
"Starfire, eh? Nice to meet you! Name's Swipe, but you knew that already," he replied with a grin.
"Er... it is nice, um... to meet you as well, Swipe... although you are still a thief." Starfire answered, with a sizeable amount of confusion in her voice. The last part seemed to be added as a self-reminder.
"I prefer the term 'rogue'," he retorted as he hurdled a line of trash cans, "so how'd you get your name?"
"Um, actually," the Titan girl replied as she dodged to the right of a lamppost, although the subject would have been better, "Starfire is the... Earth translation of my name on Tamaran. It is... ah... difficult to pronounce in my native language."
"Tamaran? What, is that some kinda country in Europe?"
"No, no, no! It is a distant planet! Only a few hundred light-years from here!"
"Did you just say 'planet'...?"
Robin's fairly annoyed voice crackled over the comm to cut the conversation short, "Are you gonna try catch this guy or tell him your life story?"
"I apologize, Robin," Starfire replied, blushing slightly from embarrassment, "but Swipe seems like such a nice person..."
"I'm sure he is, but we'll get to know him later, okay?"
"Understood.. Starfire out," the Tamaranean said dejectedly.
"Chat time's over, huh?" Swipe remarked over his shoulder, still maintaining his pace.
"Alrighty then. Hit me with yer best shot!"
"Hey, it's okay! You gotta do your job, right?"
"I suppose you are correct. Very well, then."
Swipe tensed himself for the impending attacks, but they never came. He slowed his pace slightly and checked over his shoulder. Starfire was still following him, and her arms were raised in her attack position, but the expression on her face told it all.
"I -- I am sorry. I cannot summon the strength to battle you."
The rogue screeched to a halt and turned to face his former pursuer, "You're kidding." The Titan shook her head sadly. "Would it help if I called you 'Sweetcheeks' again?"
"No.. That nickname does not really bother me that much."
Swipe scratched the back of his head, "Well, I certainly wasn't expecting this..."
"Azarath... Metrion... ZINTHOS!"
The thief had barely enough time to dodge the magically animated newspaper bundles that were aimed right for his cranium.
"Wasn't expecting that either..."
When Swipe glanced behind him, he saw Raven standing about 50 feet away, raising up some more ammunition with her shadow magic. Rather than allow her the initiative, the rogue attempted to dash past her. Just as he took three steps forward, a sudden blast from behind him took him by surprise yet again and sent him flying rather than running. It also put him on a collision course with the cloaked Titan, who had only recently become aware of the situation.
The impact sent both of them tumbling into a newsstand, where they laid in a dazed heap for what seemed like hours. At last, Raven regained her senses and came to the realization that she was pinned by an unconscious rogue.
"You can get off me any time now," she muttered, nudging Swipe with a trapped elbow.
As the rogue came to, his eyes focused on two rather annoyed violet eyes glaring back at him. As sudden understanding hit him, his eyes flew wide open and he was back on his feet instantly with a good shade of red of his face. Although he offered his hand to help the sorceress up, Raven instead chose to get to her feet on her own.
"Sorry about that," both Swipe and Cyborg apologized.
It quickly occurred to the thief that he was now surrounded. In a brief moment of wide-eyed panic, Swipe found a gap between Robin and Beast Boy and raced for his freedom before the Titans caught on themselves. After a beat, Beast Boy was the first to speak.
"And there he goes... So," he looked to his leader. "Mission accomplished?"
Robin grinned, "I'd say so."
"Really, I'm sorry about what happened, Raven," Cyborg once again apologized, "I didn't think he was gonna take off like that."
Raven shrugged it off, "It's okay. I'll live."
"We may as well head back home. Swipe could be on the other side of the city by now." Robin said before heading back to the T-Car. Beast Boy was right behind him, now too exhausted to do any more running or flying. Naturally, Cyborg did the driving.
As they returned to Titan Tower, Raven commented to Starfire, "You may be right. He doesn't seem like such a bad guy after all."
The Tamaranean was treated to the rare sight of Raven's smile.
End of Chapter 1
In Chapter 2: Swipe may have managed to evade the Titans, but his night doesn't yet end when a chance encounter possibly leads to a new friendship.