Okay…this is my first fanfic, so don't go biting my head off if I don't exactly portray the characters the way they act in the show. I'm only human (or am I?). Anyway, I really hope people enjoy this story, mainly the fans of Red X and Jinx. Couple of O.C.'s (original characters for you new to FF Net, too) showing up in later chapters. Until next time…X may mark the spot, but only the Darklord knows the way…
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans.
Honour Among Thieves:
There are many stories in the concrete world known as Jump City.
This is just one of them.
There are many things one can never be sure of, but the morals and actions of the mysterious vigilante known as Red X are near the top of the list. His objectives always shrouded in mystery; he stalks Jump City nightly for some unknown purpose or another.
However, there are times when even the best can meet their match in the least likely of all opponents. In these times, there may be a drastic change which some call "honour among thieves". This time brings out the worst in some people…then again it can often bring out the best in others.
To each their own, I suppose…
Chapter I: Thief's Honour
"This is too easy"
Jinx slipped into the factory, taking great care not to let the security cameras spot her. Her two partners, Gizmo and Mammoth, followed. Gizmo's fingers danced across his techpad and the cameras shorted out, their circuitry disrupted by a small electro magnetic pulse. Unhindered, they walked deeper through the stronghold, discussing their plans.
"Mammoth and I will hold off the guards," explained Jinx to Gizmo, "while you break into the safe and get the item. In, out…they won't know what hit them." Gizmo and Mammoth chuckled evilly.
They kept walking until they reached a door with the words DANGER! DO NOT ENTER written upon it.
So, naturally, they were going to go in. They knew what was behind that door.
Jinx signalled to Mammoth, who nodded. Gizmo tapped a few buttons on his techpad and four spidery appendages emerged from his backpack, lifting him off the ground. He gave the thumbs-up.
Mammoth charged at the door, knocking it off its hinges. Jinx followed close behind him, ready to fight. Gizmo waited for the shouts of surprise from the guards and the sound of battle as his friends dispatched them.
Gizmo waited a few seconds more until he heard Mammoth's stupefied voice.
"Well…uh…the good news is we don't have to worry about the guards…"
"What!" Gizmo scurried into the room. He gaped when he saw the strange scene. Jinx and Mammoth stood in the centre of the room, unconscious guards strewn about them. Each guard had two slashes burned into their chest armour with impressive accuracy.
And speed, Jinx noted before the other two. None of the guards had even managed to unholster their own weapon. Whoever had taken them out had done so within a matter of seconds.
In the far wall opposite, the vault door had been blown clear off its hinges, the bulletproof glass on the outside lay on the ground in shards. The three rushed over to it, where Gizmo made a startling revelation.
"I'm getting a thermal reading here!" he said. "The metal hasn't cooled yet! It was blasted open just as we entered the facility!"
Jinx shook her head in annoyance. "Don't be an idiot!" she snapped. "That is if you're not one already. We would have heard a blast powerful enough to rip through the vault. Unless…"
A sudden suspicion seized Jinx. She walked around the hole, carefully examining it until she found what she was looking for. A sonic dissipator hung, drilled into the metal, just below where the vault door had been breached. The small machine had soaked up all the sound from the explosion and converted it to a sibilant whisper.
But…that's impossible! Jinx thought angrily. There was no kind of thief that used such sophisticated equipment.
Then again, thought Jinx in unease, if such an advanced thief did exist and was at large in Jump City, how come they had never heard of him before?
Gizmo's voice cut through Jinx's thoughts. "I've found traces of xenothium, leading out of the door in the direction of the stairs that ascend to the roof. If we hurry we might still be able to catch that loser!" Both Mammoth and Jinx nodded in agreement and ran toward the stairs, Gizmo close behind.
Sprinting up flight after flight, they reached the roof. After having opened the door, courtesy of Mammoth, they stopped on the centre of the compound's roof. They looked around wildly, hoping to spot the one who had beat them to the prize.
"I don't get it!" yelled Gizmo in frustration. "How could he get away! He didn't have enough time to get away!"
Jinx, however, wasn't listening. She felt a weird sensation, like a sliver of ice slipping down into her heart.
"I have a bad feeling," she said to them. "It feels as though he were just here."
"Wrong," rasped a voice from the shadows. "I still am here!"
There, emerging from the darkness of the doorway through which they had just came, was a black apparition, tall and forbidding, its face a white skull with bloody slashes across the forehead. One hand emerged from the blackness of his attire holding a single unit of raw xenothium ore, glowing scarlet with the strange power locked within its core, casting a sanguine glow over the thief's masked face.
"Looking for this?" his cold, uninflected voice mocked them. "Because I'm afraid I'll be keeping it. After all," he said, pocketing the canister, "I was the one who got here first."
Gizmo, Mammoth and Jinx stood rooted to the spot with anger. Not only had this guy beaten them to the xenothium, but he actually had the audacity to taunt them about it. Gizmo reared up on his spider legs – he hadn't deactivated his backpack – and the blasters whipped around from behind him.
"How about we make a deal, Snot Skull? You give us the xenothium, and we don't flash-fry you!"
"Yeah," grunted Mammoth, cracking his knuckles together. "What you've got belongs to us!"
"Really," said the masked stranger. "By what right?" Jinx felt that she had been quiet for too long. "By the authority of the H.I.V.E. Academy," she said in a threatening voice. "That's what makes it ours."
The stranger began to laugh softly, a truly menacing sound. "Unfortunately," he said, when he'd stopped laughing, "you are making a serious mistake. I do not bow to the authority of the H.I.V.E.. I answer to a higher law."
"Yeah?" hissed Jinx. "What is it?"
"Mine." The chill night wind whipped around him, making his tattered cape billow out like the wings of a monstrous bat. "Specifically what's mine I keep. Unless I get paid for it…"
Mammoth and Gizmo laughed contemptuously; this guy obviously didn't know who he was messing with. Jinx, however, didn't join in.
"So," sneered Mammoth, "you think you can beat us, do you? Once I've finished with you, you'll wish you'd never crossed us!" The stranger just stood there, totally unimpressed. Infuriated, Mammoth charged like an insane bull. The other didn't even move to defend himself.
He's paralysed with fear, thought Mammoth. His guess proved correct; he was within striking distance and the stranger still hadn't moved to a defensive position.
Mammoth pulled back with his huge right fist, ready to deliver a blow of near-decapitory force. He threw his hand forward and his fist connected with…empty air.
The mysterious thief had sidestepped at the last second, letting Mammoth's own momentum throw him off balance. Mammoth spun around quickly.
But not quick enough. The stranger's fist struck Mammoth squarely between the eyes, hard enough to inspire concussion. As Mammoth staggered off balance, the other drove his knee deep into Mammoth's gut. Winded and holding his stomach, Mammoth looked up just in time to see the stranger drive his elbow into the small his back.
Stepping away from the unconscious form of Mammoth, the stranger cracked his knuckles and his neck.
"That was pathetic!" said the dark stranger in disgust. "I don't have time to waste with the likes of you!" He turned to walk away, but found his path blocked by Jinx.
"If you want to escape," she said, "you'll have to get through me!"
The stranger smirked. She whirled around, firing several Hex Blade spells at him. Just before they made contact, however, he disappeared.
"What?" said Jinx. "Where did-"
"Look out!" yelled Gizmo, but his warning came a fraction of a second too late. It was as if everything was moving in slow motion. Jinx's eyes flicked to her right side and saw the fearsome skull mask, its owner's unseen eyes focused on her own, and tension filling her soul as she waited for the first blow.
It never came.
Time returned. He roared past Jinx like a midnight blast, stopping at the roof's edge. He turned back to them, pulling out the ore cylinder once again, spinning it and pocketing it.
"Catch you later!" he laughed.
"Not so fast, wannabe!" Gizmo cried. He pressed a button on his techpad. The two blasters came to life, spitting several shafts of energy at the skull-faced stranger, who reacted with unnerving speed. From within some secret place in his cape, he withdrew a crimson object and flung it at the beams.
Both projectiles collided and detonated with a deafening roar, knocking Jinx and Gizmo off-balance. The dark stranger turned skyward once more.
"Sorry," he sneered. "Gotta fly!"
She didn't know what caused her to do it; Jinx leapt to her feet and sprung at the thief, clutching his arm just as he took to the air. Her unexpected assault must have surprised him, for his eyes widened in shock.
But just for a moment. The next second, they were engulfed by complete darkness as the wind roared around them.
Reality was brought back by a hard bump.
Jinx got unsteadily to her feet and looked around. She seemed to be in the middle of a deserted, crumbling building. She could also see that she was not alone…
The thief in black was also standing, looking around as though this wasn't the place he'd meant to be in at all. After a moment, he regarded the girl standing a few feet away from him.
"Thanks a lot, Pigtails," he snarled. "I really wanted to end up here!" He brushed himself off; reaching within the folds of his cape he withdrew the ore again. He looked from it to Jinx. "You still want this?" he asked, whipping it back into his cape with one swift, fluid movement.
"You bet," she said, her eyes glowing pink. He smirked.
"Well, then," he jeered. "Come and get it!"
She launched a spinning hex curse at him, but he was gone with one whirl of his cape. She ducked as he materialised in front of her, dodging the kick he had aimed at her head. She fired off a crouching roundhouse of her own, but the other merely backflipped it with as much grace as Jinx herself. She hurled several more curses at him, but missed, instead bringing parts of the roof down in a cloud of cement and dust. Landing out of his flip, he crossed his arms, and twin X blades sprung from the backs of his hands, glinting malevolently in the moonlight. He lunged at her again, slashing wildly. Jinx dodged the vicious spikes, and closed for a stomach kick. He blocked her foot with the back of one blade and slashed at her face with the other. She dodged again, but this time one of the wicked edges grazed her cheek, leaving a stinging cut. Acting on instinct, she ducked, narrowly missed by the other edged blade, used her other leg to trap her opponent's and used a low lockstep kick. He staggered back, off-balance. Jinx tried to close with him, but he recovered too quickly. Regaining his composure, he dealt a light backhand blow to her stomach, winding her. Clutching her stomach, she dodged one of the blades too late, this one running a long, deep gash down her left arm. As she let out a cry of pain and surprise, the thief backed off, retracting the blades with a flick of his wrist. Another flick and a crimson shuriken-like star appeared in his hand.
"Who are you?" gasped Jinx.
"The last thing you'll ever see," he said, but Jinx made one last effort. Summoning her remaining strength, she concentrated her power into a single Hex Blast, and launched it at the masked thief, hitting him squarely in the belt.
There was a crackling explosion of crimson energy and they were both thrown back with tremendous force. Jinx felt something hit the back of her head hard and felt herself slipping into unconsciousness…
"Oh…dammnit…what the Hell was that…?"
With a groan, Red X picked himself up from the ground for the second time in one night. Glancing at his belt, he saw that one of his cartridges had been destroyed, but otherwise it would still function.
That'll take some fixing, he thought to himself. He looked around until he saw where his adversary was.
The explosion had thrown her into one of the crumbling walls, knocking her unconscious. Her clothes had been singed from the explosion, and cuts that X recognised as his own handiwork ran down her cheek and left arm. Looking down at her, X shook his head.
"Tough luck, Pigtails," he said. He knelt down beside her, tore a strip off his already ragged cape and bound it about her arm like a makeshift bandage. It was only then he realized how hard she had hit the wall, and the angle of her arm…
Standing up, X turned away. He had to get out of here. With any luck, some people might have heard the commotion and already have called Jump City P.D.. They would arrive shortly and sort out the girl…
Get real, his inner voice mocked him. You're the only one who knows she's here. Hell, even you didn't know you'd end up here…
I can't take her with me, his rational side explained. My suit isn't built for transporting more than one person at a time. At any rate… he glanced down at his damaged belt, where the power core had started flashing. …I've only got enough xenothium to get myself away from this place…
So, you're just gonna leave her here to die? his inner voice asked coldly. Oh, bravo, X…you're a real bastard…
There was a pause.
…Think about it…you'll make the right decision…
Red X stood, straight and tall, a figure of darkness, silhouetted by his two innermost wills. Finally, he pulled out the xenothium canister. Gazing into its glowing core, he finally made his decision…
"Son of a bitch…" he said.
Jinx slowly opened her eyes.
She appeared to be in a dark bedroom, lit only by a dim bulb swinging from the ceiling. She also became aware of the fact that she was lying on a thin-matressed bed, with a strange, tattered black and grey sheet over her.
She sat up, shrugging the sheet off her shoulders which fell to the floor, and tried to push herself off the bed. She was rewarded with a bright flare of pain in her left arm. Looking down, she saw that it had been bound with a long white bandage and strapped tightly between two splints. On impulse, she reached up and touched her cheek. Another small bandage.
The door opened.
The familiar skull-faced stranger stood framed in the doorway, holding a tray in his gloved hands on which rested a steaming bowl and a glass of water. Obviously, he had not been expecting to see her awake, for he stilled upon catching sight of her, but he soon recovered. Stepping into the room he placed the tray upon a small table beside the bed, looked into her eyes for a half-second, and turned to leave without saying a word. She couldn't raise her voice any higher than a whisper, but he heard her speak just as his hand grasped the door's handle.
"You could have killed me…"
He took his hand off the handle and turned to address her. "I've never killed anyone," he said through the mask's filter, "but if I ever have to, I hope it won't start with unconscious girls."
The usual Jinx asserted herself. "So what? Do you honestly think you can keep me here? I doubt it…"
"I don't," he said, a slight sneer in his voice. "You're not going anywhere with that arm." Jinx smirked and gestured to the bowl on the tray. "What's this?" she said.
"What does it look like?" he replied. "It's a bowl of soup. Thought you might be hungry…" Catching the sceptical look on her face, he added "Don't worry; I'm not in the habit of poisoning people. If I wanted to kill you" – he pulled out one of his red stars – "I could do it much easier with this…"
"I think you would find both difficult," she said coldly as he flicked the weapon away, but regardless, whatever he had prepared for her smelled delicious. He stood up again, picking up the sheet that Jinx recognised as his own cape. Placing this back on the bed, he said "You should eat, rest, regain your strength. You could be here for awhile. Try to escape and I'll make you wish you'd never been born. I've got a mean streak in me, Pigtails." He turned to leave.
"My name is Jinx," she said, annoyed. "And it might help if I at least knew your name." He turned around again, his back to the open door. "Sorry," he replied, "but I can't go around telling every cute girl I meet that."
"Well," she said, smiling a little, "how about just me?"
There was a pause.
"Aw, c'mon," she said, clearing relishing the effect. "Pretty please?"
There was another pause, much longer than the first.
"It's X," he said, finally. "The name's Red X." He turned around for the last time, opened the door and left the room.
"What guarantee do I have that you won't kill me in my sleep?" she called after him.
"I promise I won't kill you," his voice floated back. "Thief's honour…"
The door closed, the lock clicking.
So…that's Red X…
Jinx had heard whispers of him, but had dismissed them all as over-exaggeration and urban myths. Now, however, she saw things differently. The guy was good, choosing to use a lethal combination of finesse and blatant destruction, rather than just the latter. It was a long time since Jinx had won second prize.
Then again, her inner voice mused, maybe he just sees you as a rival rather than an enemy.
I doubt that, she thought to herself. He nearly killed me back there, and I think he would have. Maybe he felt guilty about it and helped me out, so that, when I'm back on my feet, he can finish the job…
Or maybe, her inner voice countered, he's attracted to you. He did call you cute...
Jinx suddenly realised how hungry she was. She glanced over at the bowl of soup, still steaming, on the bedside table. No doubt it would be foolish to eat it.
Then again, her compulsive side insisted, I doubt he would have saved your life just to immediately poison you. She sat up cross-legged on the bed, wincing slightly as she shifted her left arm, took the tray off the table, dipped the spoon in the soup, and began to eat.
Thief and whatever else he was, X must have been a fair cook. In a few minutes, the bowl was back on the table, empty, and Jinx had lain back onto the pillow, sighing with pleasure, just now noticing, as suddenly as she had before, how tired she was. She took the cape from the bottom of the bed and draped it around herself. Despite its tattered appearance, the cape was long, soft and warm.
Maybe, she thought, just maybe…X isn't such a bad guy after all…
This thought remained in her head even as she drifted off to sleep.
The sparks spit at Red X's hand as he gingerly turned the miniscule tool, trying to reinforce the microcircuitry of the belt's complex system. Although the explosion had damaged the belt, it still functioned and wasn't anywhere near as damaged as it could have been. X moved like a surgeon, carefully weaving his instrument through the forest of already repaired wires. Slowly, the minute tip of the tool touched the two edges of torn circuit together. A spark, a small hiss, and his work was done.
X leant back on his wood-backed work chair and sighed with relief, the small spot-welding tool rolling from his grasp. It had taken him little over two whole hours, but he had finally repaired the belt. All that was needed now was to cover up the exposed circuitry with the grey steel of the belt's outer layer.
X glanced out the small, dirty window into the darkness of the night sky, where the stars shimmered brightly and a new full moon glowed. Now that he had repaired the belt, he was free to lose himself in his own thoughts. One, in particular, kept cutting to the fore of the others:
Why? Why did I do it? Why did I take her with me?
Well, his rational side replied, is was kind of your fault that she got that badly hurt. Whatever else you may be, you're not a killer...
I wasn't going to kill her, his inner voice evaded; I just had to get out of there as quick as possible.
And leave her to her fate? his other side quipped. What else do you call murder?
I don't know! his inner voice roared. I just…don't know…
His first impulse had been to flee, to escape and not look back. It was his natural impulse. But she had been severely injured and probably would have died if he hadn't reached closure quickly.
He could have. Oh, he could have. He held her death in his own two hands and could have ended her misery at any time he chose. But something made him stay his hand, something made him sweep her up in his arms and bore her away into the dark night…something…
That same something had come to him even as he had laid her on his own bed. It struck him as just an impulse, but for a second there – just a second – he had wanted to stroke her pink hair, to see if it was as soft as it looked. X massaged his eyes with his gloved fingers.
Being stupid, he thought. Just being stupid… He hoped.
Before tonight he had never so much as held someone in his arms, Red X, but in his mind his chastity made him no less a man. And she was very pretty… He wanted to dwell more on that.
But, judging by the moon at its peak in the sky, it was nearly midnight and his body was telling him it was past his bedtime. Resisting the urge to fall asleep where he was sitting, he instead rose to his feet and took the belt in both his hands and strapped it around his waist. He had used some of the xenothium he had stolen earlier tonight to transport Jinx and himself here and the belt was nearly fully charged. But xenothium was precious, and it was easy to overtax the suit's system in the heat of battle. The canister he had gone to all that trouble for only contained two-thirds of the energy it had previously.
I guess, he mused, I'll have to go back…to call in an old favour…
He sat back down in his hard work chair but, for all he cared, could have been a soft bed with downy pillows. He tried to listen to what his inner sense was telling him.
It was telling him, Stop thinking so much and pay more attention to the girl. X smiled. Yes, she probably was going to be trouble. But he wouldn't expect anything less from a girl named Jinx… His head slowly curved down onto his chest and he surrendered to darkness.
The skull mask that hid his face, however, kept its eyes open.
And that's the end of that chapter! I hope that was enough excitement for the first instalment of "Honour Among Thieves"! In the next chapter, X must call in an old favour from his former brother-in-arms. But who is this mysterious character, and what does he have to do with X's and Raven's pasts? Find out in "Chapter II: Dario Darque"!