-Unedited summary

Slade. A criminal mastermind who is obsessed with the utter destruction of the titans. He has drones, machines and weapons, but who designed them? Who's behind them? Who designed Terra and Robin's suits? The mechanical worms? And will Terra ever return?

Three choices, two girls, and one secret behind it all.

Disclaimer: I do not own teen titans or the teen titan's characters. The only character in this story I own is Max Steeler.

Chapter One

The moon shone brightly in a clear night sky, engulfed in an endless sea of shimmering stars. A lone figure stood out against the blackness of the night, a young girl no more than fifteen. She sat on the tallest of buildings, hugging her knees to her chest, staring blankly at the city beneath her. The city itself was vacant, except for the passing of an occasional car.

The gentle night's breeze danced through her brown hair as it hung loosely upon her shoulders. She sighed, adverting her gaze to the sky. She took in her surroundings as if they were newfound. As if she had never seen the moon, the stars, or even the city life below. Who was she? A question even the girl herself would find difficult to answer. A single tear rolled down her cheek as her mind returned to the past.

Max ran through the streets chasing her friend Mark. Mark zigzagged wildly, behind every street corner. Max just barely managed to avoid pedestrians as she struggled to catch him.

"I'll get you yet!" she yelled, and Mark only laughed.

The pair slowed to a stop as they came upon Max's house. The street lights dimly illuminated the sidewalk underfoot. Max waved goodbye and walked inside. Silence welcomed her as she slowly walked into the house.

"Mommy? Daddy?" she called and was answered only by an echo. She continued walking. A slamming door caused her to jump. She quickened her pace, heading for her parents room. The sound of gunshots shattered the silence and a sudden urgency gripped her heart. Max hid.

A tall man exited the room gun in hand. Max held her breath and remained still. The man crept down the corridor and turned to a door on his right.

Her room.

His fist slowly clenched around the knob and he disappeared through the frame. Max leapt to her feet, the adrenaline rushing through her veins. Her heart pounded furiously as she bolted for the door.

The man reappeared at her door, almost laughing at her foolish attempt. He brought the gun at level with his eye and gently squeezed the trigger. The silent bullet connected with the girl's shoulder. She cried out in anguish as metal burned through flesh. Fading out of consciousness she crumpled to the ground, never making it to the door.

The man strode over to the girl until he stood beside her. A smile spread across his face as he watched her struggle to stay conscious. He brought his first across the back of her head.

Her body went limp.

The sound of a blaring car alarm yanked Max back into existence, and she became aware of her surroundings. She lay in an abandoned ally in the middle of nowhere. A sharp pain surged throughout her body, and a wave of nausea swept over her. She forced herself up, but collapsed as soon as she attempted to stand.

The reality of it all hit her suddenly. Her parents had been murdered. She herself had dumped in an ally, left for dead. She buried her face in her hands and sobbed. She chocked on her tears, sputtering and coughing loudly.

"Don't cry little girl…"

The dark and mysterious voice came from behind her. She whirled around, eyes wide with fear. The man stood tall, towering above her. An orange and black mask covered his head, but only one eye was visible through the shield. She remained silent.

The man in the mask dropped a knee.

"It's okay. I don't want to hurt you," he paused and motioned for her to come closer.

She struggled to stand, almost falling in the process. She cautiously stepped toward him, stopping half way.

"I want to help you," he coaxed her.

She traveled the remaining steps, and she fell upon reaching him. The man caught her soundly and set her on her feet. She winced as pain shot up her arm. The man gently lifted her arm, examining it closely.

"I'll take care of this, too"

He gently picked the ten year old up and cradled her in her arms.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"You can call me Slade."

She stared up at him and despite the pain managed a smile. Her shoulder began to burn. She shivered and fell into a deep slumber.

The sound of constant dripping echoed through the under ground tavern. Max lay on a small mattress against a corner. Her breathing was steady, in rhythm with the dripping water. Her eyes flashed open, and she threw herself upwards. She glanced around her.

Darkness.

Only a dim light, flickering on and off, revealed the scene around her. Her eyes blinked in rapid succession as they adjusted to the dark.

Her arm had been cast in a sling and her shoulder bandaged. It was then she remembered the man. She peered into the darkness, searching for some clue of where she was.

Nothing.

"Feeling better I see."

He appeared out of nowhere, talking with the same low voice that sent a chill down her spine. She remained quiet. A small smile formed and then disappeared. A million questions came to view. Where were they? Why was it so dark? Who was this man? This man called Slade. None of these were questioned aloud.

"Darkness," Slade continued, "You'll learn to become quite fond of it."

Max just stared at him, her face emotionless.

"You like technology don't you Max. You like working with and building machines."

Max's eyes betrayed her curiosity as she looked up at him.

"You help me build and design the things I need and in return you will have a home. A family."

A hint of excitement filled her eyes and that was the moment. The moment she belonged to Slade.