By The Steel Angel
Authors Notes - My first real Teen Titans fic. Yay me! Ahem... it's set after "The End", of course. The pairing at hand, and you KNOW there's going to be a pairing, since it's me and all, is Robin/Raven. Watches half the readers click the back button ... All right, for those of you still here, enjoy!
Azarath Metrion Zinthos...
Azarath Metrion Zinthos...
Azarath Metrion Zinthos...
Calm... Peace... Tranquillity. Her eyes were closed. Her mind was clear. She'd enetered her meiko shisui... her serene state of mind. It was here, that her thoughts could roam wild. Unrestrained. It was here, that she would wonder. Contemplate. Even desire. Deep within the depths of her mind, she'd wonder if it was all real.
If all of this was just a big dream. If Trigon was really still here, ruling this planet and dimension with a fist of blood, while she and her friends slept eternally in a stone prison. It was her destiny, after all, to bring him to the planet's surface. A destiny that she'd carried out, almost willingly.
Trigon was the source of darkness... he was the very thing that her powers drew their energy from. How could she have possibly defeated that which made her strong in the first place? It didn't make any sense. Perhaps the fight had been merely an illusion... a hoax, that would leave her and her friends content to rest forever in a false world.
That had to be in. The real world had been pulled over their eyes, so that Trigon would have no adversary. No rival. So that he was unchallenged in his reign of terror. But it had felt so real... so genuine. She still remembered the feeling of defeating him. It was as if the entire dimension of Azarath became a weapon for her to use. As if the power of light and good itself had became hers to command. To control.
But it wasn't just that, was it? Friendship had also played its role. They'd believed in her the entire time... even when she herself had lost all hope of victory. All of them... Cyborg. Starfire. Beast Boy. Especially Robin... they'd all believed in her. They'd given her the strength to rise from the ashes of defeat, to claim the victory for the entire world.
Dream, or no dream, it was over now. Whether they were really just living in a dream world generated by Trigon's might to keep them at bay, or if they really had defeated the demon overlord... the fight was over. They could all get on with their lives now. They could-
"So, why did the duck cross the road?" A voice said. Raven's eyes snapped open. Instantly, her serene state of mind was lost. Her calm, collected state dissipated into nothingness, leaving her with only the world around her. In this case, the living room of Titan's Tower.
Her eyes trailed along the floor, until she saw the familiar boots of Beast Boy. Her eyes slowly made their way up his body, until they focused on his face with an almost icy glare. He of course, saw none of this. His eyes were closed, and his mouth was pulled into a toothy grin. Raven sighed. "I don't know." She asnwered.
"To prove that he wasn't chicken!" Beast Boy cried out, then chuckled wildly at his own stale joke. Raven's eye twitched, as she stared at him. She knew that he meant well, but his comedic attempts often came out... as idiotic. She uncrossed her legs, and lowered her hood over her head. Beast Boy, by now, had figured out that Raven wasn't laughing. "Oh come on, you KNOW that was funny!" He argued.
"Maybe if you're Mad-Mod's age." Raven said sarcastically. Beast Boy crossed his arms over his chest with a loud 'hmph!', and grabbed the video game controllers from the coffee table. Raven watched calmly as he started up his game. He looked back and forth between her and the TV screen for a few moments.
"...You wanna play?" He asked. She looked at him stoicly, her expression giving away nothing. Beast Boy looked almost nervous, like he'd said something that was going to cause him bodily harm. Raven didn't smile, chuckle, or even show a visible reaction in her eyes.
"I guess I could, seeing how you wrecked my meditation." She said simply, and picked up the second controller, looking at it a bit akwardly. Card games, she could handle. Board games, she found to be even more enjoyable. Video games? She'd honestly never tried before. "What's the object of the game?" She asked, looking up at the big screen, which was emblazened with a single giant word.
"It's called F-Zero 91. It's a racing game." Beast Boy explained. "The object is to win the race. That is, to get your car around the track and past the finish line before anyone else." Beast Boy said, and moved past the title screen. Raven looked down at the controller a bit confusedly. "Use the joystick to steer, the A button to select and confirm, and the B button to go back." Beast Boy said.
As much as Raven hated to feel inferior to Beast Boy, she couldn't turn back now. She'd already accepted the invitation to play. Backing out would be even worse than losing. She looked at what Beast Boy was doing. It looked like he was picking out his car and driver from a lineup. She moved her cursor down to the car lineup, and selected a sleek black car. "Nice choice. That car's called the Flash and Burn. Really fast. A little hard on turns, though." He said.
She didn't respond to him. Instead, she moved her cursor down to the lineup of drivers, and selected a girl with long black hair named Sparrow. "Now... how do I make the car go?" Raven asked, while Beast Boy moved past the select screen, and chose the race track.
"A button is the gas, B button is the brake. Now we'll see just how good a driver YOU are." Beast Boy said with a smirk. Both teens turned toward the TV as the video light counted down. Red... red... red... GREEN!
Both Beast Boy and Raven punched their respective A buttons, and both cars took off down the race track. Beast Boy's car ran smoothly in the middle of the track, moving to block Raven's attempt to pass every single time. Raven's car was running a bit wobbly, but did eventually take the lead when her car got more altitude on a jump, which landed her a short distance ahead of him.
"Yes!" Raven exclaimed reflexively, earning a strange glance from Beast Boy out of the corner of one of his eyes. Raven instantly calmed down, returning her complete focus to the game. She applied delicate, conservative techniques to her driving, making use of the brake button as she turned. "Almost..." Raven said softly, as her car approached the finish line... only to be passed at the last second by Beast Boy's yellow car.
"Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Go Beast Boy! Go Beast Boy! Break it down!" Beast Boy cheered, jumping up on the coffee table, dancing in his victory. Raven calmly set the controller down and stood up, turning to walk back to her room, until she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned her head slightly. "... That was a good race. You're pretty good. For a girl and all." Beast Boy said.
"...Thank you. I think." Raven said. Beast Boy smiled slightly. Raven was about to smile back, but was interrupted by the sound of the Alarm system. "Trouble," Raven commented, looking up at the blaring siren. The door to the hallway slid open, revealing Robin's figure.
"Slade." He said simply, and walked into the living room. Starfire and Cyborg weren't far behind him. Robin walked over to the computer system, and keyed up a map of the city, which projected itself onto the giant television screen. There were small red blinking dots in the business district of Jump City.
"But how do you know that it is Slade, Robin?" Starfire asked curiously. Robin looked up at the giant TV, and pointed to where the flashing dots were located.
"The signal is coming from Wayne Enterprises." Robin said. Raven didn't have to think twice. Wayne Enterprises was the scene of the fight that the Titans had with Robin, when he'd forced him to become his apprentice over a year ago. "There's no random destruction, no money to be found, and Professor Chang is in jail. It's got to be Slade." Robin said, then turned back to his teammates. "Beast Boy and Starfire, you guys go in by air." He said.
"No problemo. We'll head downtown, kick Slade's butt again, and be back before Kung Fu Chicken comes on." Beast Boy said confidently. Starfire giggled, and took off, floating up toward the roof of the tower, with Beast Boy close on her heels.
"We'll go in by ground. You two in the T-Car, I'll be on my R-Cycle." Robin said, narrowing his eyes. "No mercy this time. From anyone. I made Slade a promise the last time I saw him. I told him that if I ever saw him again, that I'd-" Robin began, but was cut off when Cyborg held up a hand.
"As interesting as that is, we've got some technology to keep from being stolen." Cyborg said. Robin looked ready to argue, but decided against it. The three Titans took a small elevator down the long base of the Tower, and emerged in the garage. Raven calmly opened the passenger side door to the T-car, and stepped inside. She watched Robin and Cyborg exchange a few words, before Robin got onto his R-Cycle, and sped out of the garage as fast as his wheels would take him.
Cyborg opened the drivers side door to the T-Car and sat down, starting the car up. A long shaft opened up under the ground. It was the standard tunnel that they used to transport the T-Car from the island, to the mainland. Raven leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes, as the car began to pick up speed down the tunnel.
"Think Slade's after you again?" Cyborg asked after a few moments. Raven opened her eyes, turning her head slowly to look at him. They had never been the closest members of the team, not by a long shot. It was Robin that she shared a bond with. It was Starfire that she shared a gender with. And it was Beast Boy that got on her nerves more than any other. She wondered why, sometimes. Why her and Cyborg weren't closer friends. Did they just not mix as well as some of the others did?
"Why would he be? He's not working for my father anymore." Raven said simply, then turned her head to look straight ahead at the emerging city street. "That part of my destiny is over. Slade's got no business with me anymore. If he's after anyone, it's Robin." Raven said. It made sense. Robin was the one who had betrayed Slade. She was just a tool that Slade had used to further his own goals.
"I don't know." Cyborg admitted. "We never know what Slade is planning. This whole mission could just be a set up. A trap for an even bigger plan. Just like the Chronoton Detonator." Cyborg said. Raven nodded in agreement. Slade had used the ploy of a Chronoton Detonator to lure the Titans away from Robin, so that Slade could blackmail him into being his apprentice.
"We won't divide ourselves at the scene of the crime this time around." Raven said. She reached up and pulled her hood down, letting her hair blow in the gentle manufactured breeze of the air conditioner. She was a bit nervous. This was their first mission since the incident with her Father. And it involved Slade, no less. She wasn't sure on how things were going to go.
"Right. We won't let Robin out of our sights." Cyborg agreed, then puased for a moment. "And we won't let you out of our sights." He said. Raven cocked an eyebrow, turning her head slightly toward him. Cyborg kept his eyes on the road. "I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't worried about you. We all are. After all the weirdness that went down... and seeing how helpless we all were... we're not gonna put you in that kind of position again." Cyborg said.
"You weren't helpless. Or useless, if that's what you're implying." Raven said. Worried about her? "Cyborg... Do you know what gave me the power to defeat my father?" She asked. When Cyborg didn't respond, she kept talking. "It was your guys' friendship... that's what gave me the power. All of you... you're all the best friends I could ever ask for." Raven said.
Cyborg turned to look at her, surprised to hear Raven talk in such an emotional way. But when he turned, her realized that it was over just as a suddenly as it had begun. Her hood was up again, and she was staring out the window at the buildings as they passed by. He smiled slightly.
"Well then, enough heart to heart. We've got a megalomaniac to stop. Time to push it into overdrive!" Cyborg exclaimed, and hit a few buttons on the steering wheel. The blue panels on the outside of the car began to glow, and the boosters in the back ignited, surging the car forward at super human speeds. "Whooo! Oh yeah baby!" Cyborg screamed gleefully.
Raven gripped the door handle and the center armrest, surprised by the sudden strain of the G-forces pulling her back into her seat. Her hands were squeezing to tightly, that her knuckles were turning white. "I... hate... boys... and... CARS!" She shrieked, as Cyborg jerked the steering wheel and slammed on the brakes, causing the T-Car to jump up into the air, do a barrell roll, and come to rest neatly in a parking spot right outside of the entrance to Wayne Enterprises.
Robin, Starfire, and Beast Boy were already waiting outside the entrance. Raven stepped out of the car, her knees wobbling slghtly. Robin walked over and put a hand on her shoulder. "Are you all right?" He asked, a hint of concern in his voice. She quickly stood up solidly, refusing to show any kind of weakness to Robin, or any of her friends for that matter.
"I'm fine. Let's go." She said, and walked into the building. The other four exchanged glances with each other for a few moments, but then quickly followed her. It was dark inside the main part of the building, as one would expect from a business coorperation at nine oclock at night. All of the employees had gone home.
It was eerily quiet inside the building. It created an aura of an almost deafening silence, with all five titans struggling to hear any drop of a pin, clap of a footstep, or creak of a door. Cyborg looked down at one of the sensor's on his arm. "I'm getting readings of a heartbeat three floors up... surrounded by neural connetic wave patterns." He whispered.
"Slade and his robot henchmen?" Starfire wondered aloud.
"Probably. Raven? Can you take us to the third floor?" Robin asked. Raven nodded, and moved to stand in the middle of the small circle that her friends had formed. She crossed her arms in an X formation, and closed her eyes.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos!" She chanted, and unfurled her arms. However, nothing happened. The large black raven that was supposed to envelop her and her friends and carry them to the third floor wasn't coming. Raven blinked confusedly, then tried it again. "Azarath Metrion Zinthos!" She chanted louder. Again, there was no change in her current status. She looked down at her hands, a bit worridly.
"Don't worry about it. We'll use the stairs." Robin said, and turned to run down the hallway. Cyborg and Beast Boy followed him quickly. Starfire hesitated, however, and looked back at Raven. Raven herself, was still staring down at her hands, more shocked than anything else.
"Raven? Are you well?" She asked, and came down from her floating position, to stand beside Raven on the cold tile floor. Raven mumbled a few words to herself, before turning back to Starfire. Her cloak was in its customary position, hiding her face. She was grateful for this... no doubt, she was wearing a facial expression that would only serve to further Starfire's curiosity.
"I'm fine, Starfire. Don't worry about it." Raven said calmly. Starfire nodded in acceptance.
"Then we must make the haste." Starfire said, and once again, lifted off the ground. She zipped forward, flying up the staircase after the three boys, who were probably already at the third floor. Raven looked down at her hands once more, as thoughts began to run through her head. Simple questions like why and how each contained a million answers... she had no way to be sure.
"A vexing problem, isn't it?" A cold, familiar voice said. Raven spun around back toward the door. Standing just beyond the glass sliding doors of the entrance, was Slade himself. He had no body guards with him. No weapons that she could see. He took a step toward her, slowly making his way across the tiled floor.
"What's your game, Slade? Find some way to block my powers?" Raven asked, dropping into a defensive stance. Slade's cold left eye lever left Raven's gaze. His arms were dangling at his sides loosely. He looked as if they were going to go out for tea, rather than fight.
"You give me too much credit, Raven." Slade said, narrowing his eye at her. "I don't have the ability nor the means to take away your powers. No... you did that yourself, dear child." Slade said, taking another few steps closer to Raven. She took a step back reflexively. "Surely you know that your powers ran through Trigon. With him destroyed, your powers cease to exist."
"You're lying." Raven said, narrowing her eyes at Slade, as he continued to approach her. She kept backing up, until her back pressed against the wall of the building. Slade stopped a few feet away from her. She could feel the arrogance seeping through the black and orange mask that he wore. "My powers seperated themselves from him. That's how I was able to destroy him." She said.
"Then why can't you use them now?" He asked simply. Raven didn't respond. "Because you don't have them, Raven." Slade said. "It's quite ironic. The savior of the world is now powerless, and alone." Slade said, then arched his neck, looking up at the ceiling. He turned his back to Raven and took a step away from her. "Your friends are walking into a trap. In little more than five minutes, the entire third floor of this building will succumb to a series of remote activated explosives. Not even Starfire will survive." Slade said.
"Why are you telling me this? What possible gain is it for you to tell me your plan?" Raven asked.
"You're of little consequence, Raven. Do what you wish. Run up there to try and save them. You won't make it. Your frail body will be incinerated when the explosives detonate. Or, you can run. Run away from this place. Save your own life. There's nothing you can do for them." Slade said.
"What's your ulterior motive, Slade? What mind game are you trying to pull over on me?" Raven asked, taking a step forward.
"I simply have no use for killing you. Alive or dead, you pose no threat to me." Slade said. Raven growled slightly. She drew back her fist, and threw a punch at the back of Slade's head with all of her strength. Slade easily turned around, and caught her fist in his hand, squeezing it to the point of breaking her fingers. "Come now, Raven. Even with your powers, you couldn't hope to physically outfight me. Who do you think you are? Robin?"
"Why would you destroy this building? There's nothing in it for you. Nothing to steal. You're not the type for random destruction and murder." Raven spat, her arm trembling under Slade's grip. "You've had the opportunity to kill us before, and you never took it."
"A mother lion throws her cubs off the edge of a cliff, and only recognizes the ones that climb back up as her own." Slade said, and released Raven's fist. "If the Titans are so resourceful and cunning, then they'll find a way to survive. I, on the other hand, have what I came for." Slade said, and held out his hand. In it, was a small test tube filled halfway with a metallic looking liquid. "Galmium Rhianophosphate. A living metal with the ability to self-repair, self-multiply, and self-evolve."
"Peachy." Raven said, glaring at him. "What's the point of telling me?" She asked.
"Because this," He said, holding up the vial. "Can give you your powers back, Raven. No, more than that. They can enhance you in every way you can imagine. Super human strength. Super human speed. Super human sight, smell, and hearing. You'd essentially become a true super hero, instead of sorceress." Slade said.
"What point would it be to give it to me? Even if it does all that you say it does, which I doubt, the first thing I'd do would be to send you off to the highest security prison in the state." Raven said, keeping her gaze focused on him. "Or maybe you're trying to strike a deal with me. What deal, Slade? Do you want another Apprentice? Haven't you exhausted that dream enough?" Raven asked.
"My reasons are my own. Do you wish to live the rest of your life, helpless and alone?" Slade asked. "With the super human speed that my Galmium will provide, you may be able to save your friends. Tick tock, Raven." Slade said, and pointed up to a clock on the wall. The time was eight fifty eight. She had two minutes. She needed more time... There was a possibility that there were no explosives at all, but she couldn't take that risk. It was a risk that would leave Robin and the others dead.
She had to save them, no matter what the cost. She hadn't forgotten what Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, and Beast Boy had done for her, in the days leading up to the End of the World. They'd tried everything in their power to save her... she had to repay that debt. She took a step forward. "...Fine. I'll do it." She whispered.
"Thata girl." Slade whispered, still turned away from her. In a flash, he spun around and grabbed Raven's arm, and plunged a syringe into her bicep, the needle piercing deep past the skin, down to the muscle and sinew. Raven cried out in pain, as she saw Slade begin to inject the almost glowing Galmium into her body.
Instantly, she felt the metal begin to weigh her arm down. It was a dense compound, that made her right arm feel like it was twice, maybe three times as heavy as her left arm. Once all of the contents of the syringe were emptied into her body, Slade slowly withdrew the needle, and tossed it aside. Raven looked down at her arm. Small, grey, metallic scales had begun to form over the injection point, and were slowly spreading across her arm. "What the...?" She asked quietly.
"The thing about apprentices... is that they have a pesky little thing called free will. Drones, on the other hand, are much easier to command." Slade said. Raven looked up at him, a look of horror on her face. "Within minutes, the Galmium will spread to your entire body, enhancing your natural abilities twenty fold. Of course, once the compound reaches your mind... it will turn you into little more than a drone, awaiting my signal." He said, looking down at her malevolently.
"No..." Raven said through gritted teeth. She put her hands to her head, and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to block out the pain that was afflicting her arm. She could feel the metallic scales begin to make their way in both directions, slowly encapsulating her arm, turning her human fingers into metallic looking claws.
The metal spread up her arm more rapidly, using the surge of adrenaline to speed up its multiplication process. The metal flowed across her shoulder and down her chest like a fluid wave. She collapsed to her knees, finding it harder and harder to breath. Harder to retain control of the muscles that had fallen under the sinister spell of the living metal.
It spread like a virus; Capturing her legs and stomach without mercy, and spread across her other arm, turning it into a mechiniacle parallel to the other arm. She was too weak to fight it now... the metal slowly crawled up her neck like a serpent, getting ready to strike. It brushed across her cheeks, filling her with a cold so deep, that she couldn't move.
Her vision became dark as the metal covered her eyes. She could feel the Galmium, like a probe, sinking through her scalp, moving deeper and deeper, toward her brain itself. She could no longer control her bodily movements. She felt like she was a spectator inside her own body. It breathed, but she hadn't commanded it to do so. Her consciousness was fading... so weak... With her last breath, and last ounce of strength, she opened her mouth and whispered the word:
To Be Continued...