The Darklord returneth! Thanx for all the comments, and sorry I haven't posted for so long. This chapter is gonna be long, so I decided to split it into two parts (don't ask me…although I am the one writing this thing… ). First part of the third chapter of "Honour Among Thieves" cominatcha, wherein we're introduced to a new villain…and an old foe, too!
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans (I do, however, own Dario Darque and Vincent!)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Go on! Guess what he is! I darest ya! Guess!
Chapter III / 1 of 2: Only On All Hallows Eve!
Dario Darque spoke the name aloud to the gloom in front of him. It did not matter where he was, in this world or in any other, for an answer would always come…
"Yes, master Darque?"
In the darkness had condensed the form of a teenage boy, his cloak seemed to spread out across the ground like oil as he kneeled before Dario on one knee.
"My old friend," Dario said, a sly smile forming upon his lips, "we shall be needing help. Fetch me the other. Don't be afraid to use your…persuasive abilities if need be." The other young man nodded. Dario outstretched his clenched fist and Vincent opened his own to receive what was concealed within.
"What is this?" he asked.
"It is a present," Dario said simply. "An offering for her to join us. Apparently, she is quick to anger. This gift will sweeten her temper and, if we are lucky, persuade her to join us. Regardless, there is no time to dwell on this. There is still much to prepare. Find her and bring her to me."
Vincent stood up, straight and tall, and bowed. "I shall not fail you, master Darque." Dario placed a hand upon his shoulder. "I know you won't, my old friend."
And with that, Vincent melted away into the shadows and was gone.
The landscape was barren, dotted all over with deep chasms and huge mountains. There was not a single thing growing in the rocky soil, and there was no sign of life anywhere.
No sign of life except for the girl. She sat with huddled her arms wrapped around her legs as she stared out at the bleak scenery. Her clothes and appearance showed that she had been wandering long: the material of her top and skirt were ragged and frayed and the metallic underlay of her costume was scratched and dull. Her dark hair was unkempt and hung about her face. However, all of these things didn't hide the arrogant angle of her head, the fierce look in her eyes and her identity.
Banished. Why? How? I had it all. How could she have beaten me? she thought furiously. How could she have beaten me?! I'm stronger, I'm smarter, I'm prettier…and I was born first! she finished with a certain childish anger. How could they have preferred Starfire? How dare they prefer Starfire? All alone on a dead planet, these thoughts coursing like poison through her mind, nothing could have prepared her for what she heard next. A voice spoke to her.
Who cares what others think? The voice was sympathetic, but it held another emotion in its tone as well. Was it…eagerness?
Blackfire leapt to her feet, violet energy crackling around her hands, and said "Who's there?" The voice laughed gently, pleasantly, and Blackfire felt a sudden, unexplainable urge to lower her fists. Relax the strange voice soothed. I have no wish to engage you in battle. I only want to talk. Look behind you… Slowly, Blackfire turned around.
A strange boy stood behind her, about a metre away. He was as tall as she was, wearing a voluminous black cape which was fastened at his throat with a gold clasp in the shape of a strange winged Earth mammal she had once seen. His strange clothes hinted at nobility, and there was a look of emaciation about him. Despite his thinness, he was not ill-favoured: his high cheekbones contrasted well with the paleness of his skin, his crimson eyes held a look of devilish cunning, and he wore a satisfied, thin-lipped smile on his sly, handsome face. His hair was as white as snow.
Before Blackfire could respond, he spoke; his voice was the voice that she had just heard in her head…
"Allow me to introduce myself," he said. "My name is Vincent Cronquist." With a flourish, he made a deep bow at the waist, his cape flowing with his own motion. "And who might I have the honour of addressing?" His question brought Blackfire back to her senses. The energy vanished from around her hands, and she turned away from him. "Who I am is none of your business," she said coldly. "Just leave me alone…" Silence. Blackfire glanced behind her. The boy had disappeared. Completely uncaring of who he was or what he wanted, she turned back the other way…
…and flinched back when she saw Vincent there, blocking her path.
"I know who you are. You are Komand'r," he said. "Also known as Blackfire, the sister of Starfire, and Grand Ruler,"-he broke off and gave a nasty laugh-"or should I say ex-Grand Ruler of the planet Tameran."
Blackfire raised her fists again, her eyes glowing violet at the mention of what he said, but she demanded nonetheless, "How do you know that?"
Vincent smiled. It was an icy smile, the smile a snake might make just before striking. "I know more than just that," he whispered. "I know everything about you. About how much you hated your sister ever since you two were children, about how you tried to frame her with the Centauri Moon Diamond, about how you arranged her marriage to that horrible fellow Glgrdsklechhh in exchange for the Jewel of Charta…and even more than that, my dear."
At this, Blackfire crossed her arms in front of her and smirked. "I'm flattered that you know so much about me," she said, a slight sneer twisting her lips. "But I don't have time for any admirers, or whatever else you may be. So get out of my way, and I might just let you leave unharmed…"
That strange smile never left Vincent's face. "Ah," he said slyly "but I know much more than just your past. I know what you want, and what I can give you…"
Blackfire raised an eyebrow. "And exactly what is it that I want?" she asked curiously.
"You want power," he said simply. "You want riches. And you want to use both of them to, using your vernacular, 'have fun'. That, and you want to pay back your dear little sister…" Blackfire nodded, ignoring the anger building up inside her chest at the mention of her sibling. It seemed that this boy – creature, or whatever he was – could sense her innermost thoughts and feelings. But what was he doing here? This entire planet was deserted: a dead planet in every sense of the word, floating in a place that all of creation had forgotten. There was nothing here in this place…
"And why do you care about what I want?" she asked, playing along, although she already suspected his motives. Almost as though he could read her mind, he nodded. "I care about what you want because I am willing to give it to you," he said. "If you join us, you can have whatever your heart desires. Power, riches, revenge…anything you want, it is yours…" He bowed.
Blackfire took his offer into consideration, and found that it appealed to her greatly. He had not been lying when he had told her what she wanted. All the things he had said had been exactly what she wanted. And yet…
"You said 'us'?" she asked. He nodded. "Are there more like you?" At that, he shook his head. "No," he replied. "The one that I serve is more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. He is Darkness incarnate and holds the power of Life and Death in his own two hands. I am merely his lieutenant. They call him the Shadow Phantom…"
"The Shadow Phantom…" Blackfire said. "He sounds like quite an extraordinary person. But how do I know that your master is as powerful as you say he is? I would like to see some proof." As thoroughly impressed as she was with Vincent's offer, she would need some convincing before she formed an alliance of any sort.
"But of course," Vincent said, that sly smile creeping back across his face. "He thought that you might, and so he created a little present especially for you…" Reaching underneath the folds of his cape, he removed something from his trouser pocket and held it in front of him in a closed fist. Slowly uncurling his fingers, the object lay upon his pale palm, finally revealing what it was. Blackfire couldn't believe it.
It was the Jewel of Charta. Only it couldn't be: the Jewel had been shattered in her last fight with her sister. This had to be some sort of trick.
"Oh, I know what you're thinking," Vincent said, his voice cutting cleanly into her thoughts. "Of course it isn't the Jewel of Charta. But it retains all of the same power. My master crafted it in the image of the original jewel." Realising that the gem wasn't red at all, but pure black, Blackfire reached out and took it from Vincent, feeling its cool weight in her own hand.
At that moment, she felt the energy course through her, a surging current of invigorating and undeniable power which manifested in her eyes and pooled into her hands. She spied a mountain in the distance and raised her left arm, aiming directly at it. Black energy erupted from her hand and roared towards the mountain, striking it directly in the centre. There was an explosion of rock, smoke and sound.
When the dust had settled, there was nothing left but rubble. Satisfied, Blackfire let go of her power and felt it leave her hands and eyes. She fastened the new jewel below her throat, in the exact same place she had kept the original Jewel of Charta. She had made up her mind now, without question. Surely one who could create something like this was powerful indeed. She turned her attention back to Vincent. He was smiling.
"So," he said. "After seeing my gift and a demonstration of my master's power, will you join us?" He extended his hand, but Blackfire did not take it. She still had one more question to ask…
"One last thing, before I make up my mind," she said. "On which planet are you and your master?" Vincent's smile widened and his eyes gleamed as he spoke a single word.
"Earth." Blackfire nodded.
"I thought as much," she said. "Very well. I accept your offer, Vincent Cronquist." She placed her delicate hand in his. He bowed low and kissed it.
Blackfire looked out at the shimmering stars in space and her eyes glowed. Look out, sister dear, she thought, evilly. Here I come…