Chapter Fourteen: Is this destiny?
Normal disclaimers. I don't own teen titans. I do own Max Steeler. Yada yada.
It was so bright. Soft music blended with the perfume of wildflowers, dancing throughout the air. Max was young again running with her friend, though now, instead of streets, a luscious meadow lay underfoot. They laughed and smiled together. A peace rested over them.
"Where've you been?" Mark asked curiously, "I missed you so much. There was no one to chase and laugh with me in these meadows."
"I've been avoiding destiny," Max replied simply.
"Oh," Mark answered, shaking his head. "You shouldn't do that. That's when people end up here."
"Why wouldn't someone want to end up here? Forever at peace, forever joyful?"
"Because of the ones they leave behind. Friends and family, mentors and teachers, all lost without the person they love."
"Not me," Max swallowed. "I didn't have any of those things."
"You had Terra. She was family."
"She has Beastboy and the Titans. She doesn't need me."
"Oh, you mean your friends?"
"No," Max said sternly, shaking her head. "I already told you. I had no friends. The Titans weren't my friends, they were my enemies."
"Oh right, because of Slade, your mentor and teacher."
"Slade was neither of those things. He simply used me."
"He saved your life."
"After probably endangering it in the first place! Why are asking me all these questions, Mark?"
"You'll be going back soon…"
"No," Max pleaded. "That's impossible."
"It's not your time yet, Max." Mark smiled, "One day we'll play in the fields. One day we'll laugh until it should hurt, but doesn't. There'll be no more pain or suffering and you'll be free of everyone's grasp but your own. Today isn't that day."
The young boy's figure began to fade. Max's eyes widened with fear.
His voice echoed on the wind before completely vanishing from sight and sound.
"You choose your destiny, Max. It doesn't choose you. Not if you don't let it."
Then he was gone.
Alone in the meadow, Max stood still, watching as the sky grew dark. Fear grasped her soul. The field disappeared before her eyes, replaced by a long hallway. Glancing sideways, her eyes fell upon the door of her old room. She could feel herself starting to run. The gunshots, echoing through the house, sending high speed metal toward her body. She turned, just as two bullets pierced her chest, ripping and tearing flesh.
Life flooded her veins as she gasped for air. Her eyes followed soon after, flashing open and revealing her newfound surroundings. A blur of pink, a flash of green caught her eyes. Max closed them a few times, hoping to restore her vision. They opened once more.
"There. Told you she'd come back to us," an obnoxious voice sounded.
"You've made your point, done your job, now leave."
"Pfff, you're welcome," he replied bitterly, exiting the room.
Max could hardly move. Her body felt weak and drained.
"Where am I?"
"We brought you back. Cheated death."
With all her strength, Max forced herself to sit up. She opened her eyes again, the haziness vanquished. She locked eyes with the girl in front of her.
"You…how long have I been out?"
"About a week now I'd say. Yes me, who else you'd think I'd be? One of the Titans?" The girl gave a soft laugh, "Those losers left you for dead back in that alley."
"Maybe they were wise," Max replied. "All I've done is evil. I've only brought pain into peoples lives."
"That all depends on your outlook, kid." The girl smiled, "Maybe you're just looking at it wrong. Why is everything you done wrong?"
"Stealing and aiding plots to destroy the city and the Teen Titans. Both seem to me like they would be against the law."
"And who laid down these laws? What makes them more right than any of us? Stealing is fun, not wrong. The Titans are just pansies who can't stand anyone else having a good time."
"When I was with them they didn't seem…"
"Look, kid. I'm here to make you an offer that I don't make to just anyone, but I figure, since we know each other, I'll make an exception."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm offering you a spot on my team."
"Do I look like I'm joking? Kid, you take things too seriously."
Max stood there, looking at the communicator on the bed. She looked back up at the girl.
"Jinx, I don't know what to say."
"My suggestion is you say yes, but again, that's all up to you. You can join my team and do what you want to do for a change, or you can forever live in the shadow of someone else. It's up to you."
"I always knew you'd start your own team," Max smiled. "Even back when you were doing odd jobs for Slade, you were always independent." She sighed, "I just…I can't see myself facing the Titans in battle. I wouldn't be fighting just them; I'd be fighting family…"
"Look Max, I never wanted to tell you this, but that whole you and Terra being sisters deal, is a load of crap."
"What do you mean?"
"Terra was the illegitimate daughter of some king. The only way you two are related is if her dad took a vacation and hooked up with some whore."
Max was playing right into her plans. She almost smiled at the display of anger. "At most, you're half sisters, but honestly, I highly doubt that. Then again, you might as well be the daughter of some whore. I'm surprised Terra never told you."
Jinx started to leave, but the metal bender stopped her short.
"I'll do it," Max spat out bitterly.
Jinx turned around to face Max.
"I'll do it."
Robin sat on the building, his cape blowing in the wind, ever so gently. His eyes watched the abandoned warehouse with hawk like scrutiny, his thoughts torn. Her smug face was embedded across his mind. He had agreed to stay away. His own moral conscience, however, didn't allow him to follow through. The sorceress had been bringing the girl to this site for a couple weeks now, training her, obviously. What the Boy Wonder wanted to know was who the girl was, and what threat she posed. Mumbling curses under his breath, Robin disappeared into the shadows. It would have to wait another night. Both girls had managed to disappear right from under his gaze. He would just have to wait. Robin hated waiting.
"I'm not so sure about this," Max muttered. Her apparel had changed drastically. Blue jean cargo shorts, grey shirt with a black, corroded looking "M" right in the middle. "What if someone gets hurt?"
"People get hurt sometimes. Get over it," Jinx replied, slightly irritated.
"Has anyone ever been killed?" Max asked tentatively.
"We're thieves, Max, not murderers," Jinx barked.
"They're all snot heads anyway. Who cares if they live or die?" Gizmo replied.
"I do…" Max whispered under her breath.
"Let's teach these guys a lesson about the Hive Five," Jinx smiled, giving the signal.
Max was barely able move. She willed herself forward.
"There's been a break in down at the diamond factory!" Robin's voice echoed across the tower, drawing the remainder of his team to the main room. "Where's Terra?"
"Where do you think," Raven answered coldly.
"She's taking Max's death hard, dude. Really hard," Beastboy added.
"I don't care. We need her. Go get her, Beastboy." Robin snapped.
The changeling scampered off in the direction of the geomancer's room, tapping lightly on the door upon his arrival.
"Terra, we need you on this one. Robin sounded really irritated and I don't think he's going to let this one slide."
There was silence.
There was a small clicking sound. Beastboy stood motionless as the fragile oak door came toward him, her small frame hidden behind it.
"Thanks," Beastboy whispered.
Terra simply nodded.
There arrival on scene was swift, though once there, all eyes fell upon one person.
"Max?" Terra asked, horrified.
"That's right," Jinx spoke in reply. "After you two losers left her in the alley for dead, we took her back to our tower and helped her. Some sense of justice you freaks have."
"And so as payment for your act you're forcing her to serve you?" Robin answered.
"Sorry, bird boy, the choice to be on my team was hers. Now if you'll excuse us, we have some diamonds to take."
"Max…how could you?" Terra spoke.
"How could you!"
All the built up rage slowly releasing.
"You lied to me Terra!"
"What did I lie about?"
"We're not sisters."
"Yes, we are, Max."
"Our mothers weren't same people."
Terra paused, not knowing how to approach this.
"Who told you that?"
"Does it matter! It's the truth."
"We had the same father…"
"That's the only thing we shared, that and the fact that he didn't want either one of us."
Tears speckled the geomancer's eyes.
"You don't mean that."
"I'm tired of everyone telling me what I don't mean!"
Max's hands trembled as the building around them began to shake. Gizmo glanced over to Jinx, glaring at her.
"Told you she wouldn't be able to handle it..." He whispered harshly.
"Who ever said I expected her to? She's a distraction moron. Now grab the bags of diamonds and let's blow this joint."
Gizmo smiled, thrilled to follow her order.
Pieces of metal were being ripped off of the walls and flying around them. Cyborg was lifted from where he stood. He quickly grabbed onto a pole, in hopes of rescue.
"Max, calm down," Terra begged.
"I'm tired of hurting people…"
"I know, Max, but you don't have to hurt anyone. Just stop this."
"Sure you can, Max."
"No Terra! I really can't!"
"Raven, can you do something?" Robin asked, turning toward the empathy.
Raven nodded. A black aura surrounded Max. As it engulfed her, Max began gasping for air, choking.
"What are you doing to her?" Terra screamed.
Beastboy shifted into a gorilla, grabbing Terra in his arms and holding her back. She fought his grasp. Still Beastboy remained firm.
Slowly, Max began to lose consciousness. Falling to her knees, she grabbed at her throat, trying to pull the blackness away - anything but the darkness. Metal dropped all around them, followed by the girl. Beastboy released Terra and shifted as she ran over to her limp half-sister.
"What did you do?"
"It was the only way."
"You killed her!"
"Not quite. She's unconscious, but she won't be that way for long. We have to get her back to the tower, now."
Beastboy shifted appropriately and grabbed, Max. The rest followed.
After searching her body for any chips or devices, Cyborg handed the girl off to Raven and Starfire, who dressed the girl in a white shirt and pants. They then fastened plastic bracelets around her wrists and ankles before placing her in a Titan cell. Max trembled in her unconscious state, shivering endlessly.
"What's going to happen to her?" Terra asked softly.
"We'll keep her here, under observation."
"What will happen to her?"
"We don't know."
"Will she ever be let out?"
"I'm afraid not. She's lived underground most of her life. The outside world was just too much for her to handle. Moral decisions were too hard for her to make, because someone's always made them for her. Her entire life has been lived out through others, nothing of her own."
Terra looked through the bullet proof, clear wall that stood between her and the girl she had once known. Terra placed her hand on the thick plastic.
"She's not the same person I once knew," Terra reflected.
"Neither are you," Raven commented in her same monotonous voice.
"Things change, remember? People too," Beastboy offered.
"So she'll never be the same?"
"No. She never will..."
Letting her hand drop from the barrier, Terra walked silently down the hall. Her way of saying goodbye…
The End. That's it. Nothing More.