Hey, I'm not dead after all! But after you guys get through me for not updating this long, I will be. Something is going on about prohibiting reviewer responses in the fan fics, so until everything is all cleared up, I'm afraid I won't be able to put them up. But I'll have you know I read every single one I get.
As my best friend who is the master of all that is sandwiches (and randomness) put it, I guess this will be a guilt chapter. I had intended it to be quite a few pages longer, however, I would feel worse to make you guys wait any longer. And I really don't blame anyone who had to reread the last chapter just to remember what the heck this story was about
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans. Also, I am (pretty much) aware of Raven's comic past, so please don't leave flames because I had "such-and-such" acting a certain way.
The sky was golden and a small breeze carried the scent of lavender around the air. The white washed walls had golden borders embossed with intricate designs of twisting vines. The architecture resembled of something like an ancient temple untouched by civilization, like a true work of art made by nature. The entire space breathed of tranquility and peace.
The four teens stood still amongst the surreal paradise, speechless and gathering all that was logical in this place, but found none. The silence was soon broken by the girl who was no stranger to feeling out of place.
"This…is an illusion? Slade has tricked us with holograms?" Starfire gently touched a butterfly perched on a nearby orchid. The insect reacted with a small flutter of its wings, and flew past Robin.
"I don't think this is another trick. Somehow…he must have transported us here…using Raven."
"Well, where ever we are, it's not earth. My locater is on the fritz." Cyborg was tapping several buttons, but the screen remained fuzzy.
"So, this is Slade's big plan? He sent us to relax in some planet on vacation? I wonder if they have mopeds here…what if we're on the planet of Space Amazons!" Cyborg smacked Beast Boy upside on the head.
"Focus, B. This is not the time for your harem fantasies with mopeds."
"What is?" Cyborg eyed Beast Boy, not knowing what he was thinking.
"Slade's plan is to distract us in this fantasy world while our bodies will serve as soldiers in his army of zombies! Oh, why this!" Beast Boy clutched his head in a melodramatic manner.
"Oh woe is us." Cyborg said sarcastically as he rolled his eyes.
Robin started rubbing his temples. It was getting hard to concentrate with Beast Boy's outbursts of notions.
"Will you guys just stop arguing for just one second?" silence fell upon the group once again. "First things first; we need to find out where we are—for real." The last word was emphasized just as Beast Boy raised a pointed finger up.
"Yeah, that's gonna be real easy…" Beast Boy said as he folded his arms across his chest.
"Perhaps we could ask for directions?" Starfire innocently inquired. (A/N: she's just so darn naïve, it's cute)
"I…don't think so Star…" Robin tried forcing a smile. 'If only it were that easy…'
A soft pitter patter was heard in the distance. Beast Boy's ears perked up as the sound approached.
'What is that? Sounds like…footsteps and…laughter?'
"Hey guys," Robin, Starfire and Cyborg looked up, "do you here that?"
The thick overgrowth of plants obscured the source of the nearing sound, but it wasn't long until they saw a tan, leather bound ball appearing from behind some potted plants. The ball bounced far in long arches, hitting the ground each time with a muted thud. A small girl tailed it, her long hair fluttering behind as she ran. By the looks of it, she must have been no older than four years old. The ball bounced into a clay vase that lurched slightly on impact. The girl gasped and ran to the vase before it hit the ground. The vase slowly tipped forward, but the girl caught it from underneath. Her eyes squeezed shut bracing for the crushing weight as the pot leaned toward her. Robin snapped out of his gaze and started running toward the unknown girl before she got trapped underneath the pot that was a foot taller than her. The others noticed this and started running as well. In a last effort to stop the vase, the girl pushed forward with all her weight, standing on her tiptoes. She heard the bottom of the pot softly grind against the tile ground and didn't feel any increase in the weight against her. She opened her eyes and let out a sigh of relief. Carefully, she tipped the pot back with her arms still clutched to both sides of it.
"Well, that was close…" She finally spoke. The Titans had slowed their pace as soon as they saw that she was in no harm.
"Hey, are you ok?" Robin asked lightly as they approached the child. No reaction. He neared a little closer, the team behind him with curious looks on each of their faces. The girl did not respond. She was not even aware anyone had spoken to her, and went to pick up the ball that had escaped from her. Robin raised an eyebrow, confused why the girl was ignoring him.
"Snubbed by a toddler? That's low…" Beast Boy suddenly said. "Lemme try to talk to her," Beast Boy said as he stepped forward. "Hey, we need some help. Do you think you could…"
His hand reached forward to touch her shoulder, but instead went right through it. "Whoa!" He retracted his hand quickly as the girl bounced her ball happily, oblivious to the group of teens surrounding her.
Beast Boy shivered before turning around to face the others. "Was that?—Did you?—And I?—What just happened?" His hand was still shaking. The others looked at him with wide eyes, then turned to Robin for an explanation.
"Hologram?" His voice a little unsure.
"But Robin, could a hologram push this…?" Starfire's hand rested on the vase from before; it felt quite solid and was unmoving.
"It could have been an illusion." His voice was firm now.
"But what was the point of that? It's not like the time we were trapped with Mad Mod." Cyborg responded.
"I've had it with all of this weirdness!" Beast Boy marched up the girl who had walked some feet away while dribbling her ball. "Who are you?" he asked in a raised voice.
A faint breeze passed by and blew some of her hair away from her face. It was then that he wasn't sure if the sunlight was playing with his eyes; her hair looked…violet? She had stopped bouncing her ball and was now looking at the birds that flew about in the sky. Beast Boy kneeled down and studied her face slowly.
"What!" Robin was completely confused now.
"Just look at her!"
"Indeed she does have the likeness of Raven, but she is so small…and is ignoring us…" Starfire waved a hand in front of 'Raven.'
"But what does this all mean?"
"Hey, I'm just happy she isn't out to get us."
"Hey…!" a small voice echoed.
They watched the girl chase the ball once again, disappearing behind some more plants.
"Why don't we follow her? It's not like we're doing anything now…"
"I don't think we have a choice in the matter…" Robin said suddenly. They gave him confused looks until they saw what he was pointing to. Parts of the courtyard were starting to fade away. It was as if someone was holding a torch in a dark passage; they had lagged behind, and now the darkness was catching up behind them. The Titans quickly went through the path that the girl had taken. When they caught up, she was still playing with the ball and there seemed to be voices coming from another room.
"Since when do holograms do that?" Beast Boy asked, jerking a thumb behind to the path they had taken.
"I'm beginning to suspect these aren't holograms…" They waited for him to continue, but were interrupted by 'Raven' again.
"Oh shoot!" She squealed quietly. The ball had almost bounced into the room with the voices. She hugged it tightly with her back against the wall next to the door. She let out a sigh, but then her eyes widened slightly. She turned her head presumably to eavesdrop on the discussion inside. Beast Boy stepped closer towards the door.
"What? It's not like they can see us." Everyone nodded and got closer to listen as well.
"But is it the best thing? She's only a child for heavens sake!"
"Well what can we do? There's no denying what will happen in the future."
"It could happen, there's no definite way of telling—"
"And when has a prophecy from Azar been proven false?"
"They're talking about me again…" the girl whispered to herself. Her face was void of expression. Who knows what thoughts were in her head as she listened.
"She's growing you know. We can't act like everything is under control. If we are to ensure everyone's safety she must learn control."
"I understand that, but…"
There was small pause before the person continued.
"The fate of the world rests in that young girl's hands. To never show emotion…to never laugh again at the expense of someone's life. How do you say that to a child?"
The team was huddled on the side of the door opposite of the girl. They exchanged nervous glances and peered over to the girl across from them. She had remained quiet for some time now. When she finally spoke, it was barely above a whisper.
"You don't have to worry. Please don't worry. I don't want anyone to get hurt 'cause of me. I don't want to hurt. I wouldn't…never."
Her face was almost expressionless, save a false small smile. There was just the faintest trace of fear as she played with her fingers while looking away towards the ground. The hug on her ball tightened as she slowly slid down to sit.
Just who was she? Was she really Raven? But Raven had never mentioned anything like this before. Nothing made sense. A strong wind suddenly whipped around them, and the pulling sensation was back. The scenery dissipated as if the wind was eroding it away. The wind wasn't as harsh as the first time; Beast Boy squinted as he lowered his arm that was shielding his eyes. The others were doing the same thing. Everything around them was bright white but it still felt like there was solid ground beneath his feet.
Silence. They opened their eyes cautiously, to make sure it was really over. The white light that had stung their eyes was gone. Infact, it was quite dark; a completely different scenery.
The air was cold, and felt slightly damp. It was like the feeling you got entering a basement on a hot summer day. They waited a moment for their eyes to adjust to the darkness. The Titans found themselves in a desolate tunnel. Off in the distance was the faintest tint of blue light.
"Everyone okay?" Robin asked quietly. The place had been eerily silent with no signs of life around. Starfire and Beast Boy nodded while Cyborg let out a sigh.
"Location still unknown. How long do you think we will be here?"
"As long as Slade wants us to be here," Robin said, starting to make his way towards the dim light off in the distance. Starfire gave a look of concern to the boy wonder. They started to follow their leader down the path without uttering a single word. Starfire hesitated to speak when she caught up to Robin, but carefully started to talk.
"Robin…? Earlier you said that what we were seeing may not have been holograms. If that is true, then what is going on?"
"That's right Starfire. They really weren't holograms. At first nothing added up, but then we saw the girl, how everything started to disappear unless it was near her, how she looked like Raven. I don't know what Slade is planning, or how he did what he did, but I have a good hunch that what we're experiencing…"
The light grew as they finally reached the end of the passage. The Titans stepped though two large doors that hid the source of the light. They had entered a large room that was cathedral like. The walls were made of the same carved rock as the tunnel, but the room was filled with millions of candles which made the room glow with life. The ceiling had large circular window made with various colors of stained glass. The light that spilled down gave the floor a multicolored pattern that was almost hypnotizing. On the far end of the room sat two large torches with blue fire on an elevated platform. Between sat a woman that looked rather aged with long silvery hair, and what appeared to be a young girl. She had purple hair like the little girl they met before, but this girl's hair did not reach her back, nor did she wear a loose fitting robe. This young girl had shorter hair that was just shoulder length, and was wearing a unitard. Starfire, Beast Boy and Cyborg gaped at the sight of the girl who was quietly chanting something as four crystals being levitated was rotating between herself and the woman.
"…is Raven's memories." Robin finished.
The words 'Raven's memories' echoed in the minds of the teens who watched a seven year old version of the person they knew meditate across the room.
"So, we're in the past?" Beast Boy said while raising an eyebrow.
"No, that's not it. We're just seeing the recollections of certain events. That's why we couldn't touch any objects or people; we can't affect them because we're not in the past, just seeing it. And since its Raven's memories, we can only see what's around her and not other places at the same time since she wasn't there."
The group shifted their attention back to the young Raven. The familiar mantra often heard during the quiet dawns in the Titan's common room had seemed like distant memory until now. They gazed as the girl calmly levitated in her trademark lotus position, the aged woman intently watching as well. It was strange; watching this girl brought some sort of comfort inside, only logic contradicted the feeling because it wasn't truly the Raven they knew. But who was the Raven the team knew all these years?
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos… Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos…" The girl repeated. The four crystals circling in the air in front of her slowed slightly. The woman focused her eyes noticing the change in speed.
"Concentrate, Raven. You must not lose your focus; Clear your mind and concentrate." Her tone was rather strong for someone who looked so brittle. The authority in her voice sent chills down even Robin's spine (no doubt everyone else's). Small creases grew between Raven's eyes as her shut eyes began to squeeze together. She continued to chant but it was becoming evident that her concentration was slipping, her mind wandering somewhere else.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos…Azarath…Metrion, Zinthos…Azarath, Met-trion, Zinthos…" The woman looked disappointed.
"You're not trying hard enough. Don't get distracted by something as simple as my voice. Focus!" Raven's eyes squeezed tight and her voice grew a little louder. The crystals, however, started to wobble as they continued to orbit the empty space between Raven and the mysterious woman. Raven's frustration finally hit its limit as she shouted her last three words.
One of the crystals shattered midair as the rest fell to the ground, no longer held under Raven's control. She jumped up, quickly gasping as she realized how she lost her focus. The surprise in her face faded quickly as anger took its place. She growled under her breath and descended on her two feet, the shards softly crunching underneath her shoes. The woman let out a tired sigh, unmoving from her sitting position.
"That's the third time you have failed to maintain your focus. If you keep this up we may have to double your training!" The young Raven drummed her fingers against her crossed arms. She looked determined to keep her head turned away to the side as her eyes searched for something to stare daggers at. "Come now, we're going to do this again; this time, 30 minutes more." Raven's eyes widened in disbelief as her arms dropped to her sides. The speed at which she turned around to face her mentor could make you flinch.
"30 minutes more! I already practice 6 hours a day; that's totally unfair!"
"Raven…" The warning in her voice rose slightly.
"No!" Raven shouted, "I'm sick! I'm sick and tired of this! I'm stuck in here while everyone else is off having a life out there! I don't want to do this anymore!"
The woman finally rose to her feet and didn't open her eyes until after taking in a long breath. The four Titans who had remained silent during this time slowly edged to the side, bracing themselves for the yelling to come.
"Whether or not you 'want' to continue, you must and will control your emotions," the woman stated in a low monotone, "and I suggest you calm down before anything else is damaged."
"…Why…?" Raven asked in a low trembling voice just above a whisper. The woman didn't answer her. "Why do I have to do this? Everyone has emotions, why can't I do what everyone else can!"
"Because you are not everyone else!" the woman said, raising her voice for the first time. She took another breath to even her tone. Raven watched her, waiting for her to continue. "The only thing you should worry about is doing what you are told and—"
"And why am I not like everyone else…?"
"I did not say that."
"But…you meant it. I'm different, and you know why. Tell me." Raven continued to glare up at her. There was silence as the old woman stared at the determination in the young girl's face.
"The situation at hand is far beyond your comprehension, child. You just wouldn't understand."
"I bet." Raven spat. The woman certainly had a longer fuse than her obstinate student, but her patience had worn thin.
"Why must you make things so difficult?" Anger starting to rise in her throat.
"Why can't you just answer me?" Raven began shouting again.
"You want to know?" her question sounded more like a statement, "You want to know why we spend countless hours meditating here inside sacred grounds? It is so 'everyone else' can, as you so put it 'have a life out there.'" Raven held her gaze on her elder as she continued. "Your emotions are dangerous; more destructive than any force of nature."
"I know that." Raven stated hotly.
"So you know. Is that why you are so persistent in avoiding our daily sessions? Letting out your anger without a care in the world? Because you can be selfish anytime you want, end the lives of billions—end the world because you have the control over the influence your father has on you."
Raven gritted her teeth and narrowed her eyes. Her breathing was shaky; was she holding back tears?
"You say you want to do what everyone can. And you say you know the extent of your…abilities. Do you want to fulfill your destiny? After all of our efforts to prevent the inevitable? Raven, is this what you want?" Her tone was no longer harsh, but the words stung Raven. She stood her ground, looking more defiant than ever before, yet her voice completely betrayed her.
"No." She said with a high cracked tone, her entire body was shaking. The woman's gaze softened.
"I expect great things from you, Raven."
With the swish of her robes, all the candles of the room blew out. Only the blue flames illuminated the room. As the sound of her footsteps faded Raven could only bend her head down and sob. The tears were flowing in a steady stream as she gasped for breath. She stood in the semi-darkness crying for several minutes until she slammed the side of her fist into a stone pedestal next to her. She opened her eyes slowly and glanced at her fist. Her fingers uncurled gingerly as she willed away the remaining sniffling.
Thanks for not losing faith people. Click on that review button, and you may succeed in getting me to procrastinate from my homework to write the last chapter before the year ends…