Backlash

Chapter 1: Trance

Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans. I simply like to play with them for awhile and return them a little worse for wear, earning no profit whatsoever.

"Anybody see Raven?" Beast Boy asked, glancing around the living room. Cyborg looked over his shoulder from where he sat on the big, curved sofa.

"Not lately." He said. "C'mon, BB. I have the new Space Pirates Attack IV game. You know you want to play!" He waved a thin, plastic wrapped package in the air.

"Aw man! Space Pirates IV! Dude, that's supposed to be the best one ever!" Beast Boy bolted for the sofa and grabbed the game package from Cyborg's hand.

"I have not seen Raven either." Starfire said. "And she had told me that she would go with me to see a story about how the small flightless black and white birds walk at the house of many film screens."

"Uh, that's "March of the Penguins" at the Movieplex." Robin said with a grin twitching his lips.

"Yes, that is what I said." Starfire nodded. "But I have not seen her yet today."

"Actually, neither have I." Robin stated from the computer console. "You could go knock on her door."

"I do not like to bother her." Starfire said hesitantly.

"Yeah, and you know how Raven gets if you bother her." Beast Boy muttered as he peeled the tight, clear plastic wrap from the video game. "She'll come to the door with smoke coming out of her nose or something." He giggled. "Oh yeah, here we go." The plastic came free and Beast Boy slipped the game disc out and into the player. He and Cyborg grabbed for their controls. "You're toast." He said with a snicker.

"Oh yeah?" Cyborg laughed deviously.

"I do not wish to make Raven have smoke in her nostrils." Starfire walked over to Robin.

"Um, I think that Beast Boy was just exaggerating." Robin said, giving a glance over to where both combatants were growling and snarling as their fingers flew over the game controls. "If you just knock on the door quietly, I'm sure she won't be upset. Besides, she did tell you she would go with you."

"Yes, she did." Starfire nodded, her expression less apprehensive. "Very well, I will go and tap lightly on the door to remind her." She took a step, and then turned back. "Robin?"

"Yes?" Robin twisted in the swivel chair to look at her.

"If Raven no longer wishes to go to the house of many film screens with me, would you…. do you think…um, could you…." Starfire's words faded out and her cheeks flushed with a pink glow. She stared at the floor.

"Hm….I didn't catch that." Robin said hesitantly.

"Good, er, oh it was nothing. Nothing, never mind." Starfire said quickly backing away. Then she spun and flew to the elevator that went down to the living quarters. The doors opened, then closed behind her. Robin watched as the doors slid shut. For a moment he gnawed his lower lip. He gave a quick side-glance towards the sofa, but Beast Boy and Cyborg were totally involved in the game. He turned back to the computer and let out a sigh.

Starfire left the elevator on the floor that housed some of the living quarters. She walked down the enclosed corridor in the direction of Raven's room. It wasn't like Raven to not appear when she said she would. Of course, she could have become engrossed in a book, or she could have become lost in deep meditation. Still, Starfire had never known her to forget a commitment that way. Raven was very dependable.

The plain reinforced steel door with just the simple nameplate "Raven," engraved on the front faced her. She lifted and hand and rapped gently three times.

"Raven, it is I, Starfire. I do not wish to bother you, and if you have changed your mind that is all right too. But I wondered if you were still going to go with me to see the story of the penguins?" She stood quietly and waited. And waited. She looked up and down the corridor, then at the ceiling. She hummed. Minutes passed. She repeated the tapping and the message. And waited some more. There was no response.

This was a dilemma. Starfire had an unquenchable enthusiasm. However it had been frequently dimmed when she had tried to include Raven in her circle of joyous feelings. Many times she had hammered incessantly at Raven's door to share with her some new delight she had discovered, only to find that she had interrupted something that Raven had deemed far more important. And while she had not seen the smoke pour from Raven's nose, she had certainly seen the aura of anger around her person and a look much like daggers in her dark eyes. It was an experience that Starfire wasn't eager to repeat again. Raven could be…intimidating…when disturbed.

"Raven," Starfire spoke in a near whisper. "I do not wish to anger you. Please, friend, just tell me if you do not wish to go with me. Perhaps another day would be better?"

There was still not answer. This was beginning to concern Starfire. While Raven could be obsessive about her privacy, she would, however, always have the courtesy to at least answer the door and tell you to go away. Starfire stood and stared at the door. She listened closely to see if she could hear any movement inside. Nothing. It didn't feel right to her. Frowning, Starfire turned and walked swiftly back in the direction of the elevator.

"BOOYAH!"

"Dude!"

"Next level."

"I am so there."

"Robin?"

Robin turned quickly, well aware of the tones to Starfire's voice. She stood a few paces away, frowning.

"What is it? What's wrong?" He asked, standing up from the swivel chair, a sense of alarm spreading through him.

"I am not sure." Starfire said slowly. "Raven does not answer my knock. She does not answer my voice. There is no sound of any movement in her room."

"Well, maybe she's asleep?" Robin suggested hesitantly. Starfire's green eyes met his steadily.

"I have knocked several times, and spoken as well. Even if she had been asleep she would have heard me." She said. "Could you please try to call her room on the intercom?"

"Sure." Robin nodded. Starfire did not get herself worried for no reason. If she felt there was reason for concern, then he was going to take whatever steps were necessary just to be sure. Each room had a communication link that could be accessed from the main room. It functioned like a two-way intercom system. Robin flicked it on and coded in Raven's room.

"Raven? Are you there?" He spoke into the mike. "Raven, this is Robin. We were concerned because no one has seen or spoken to you today. Please answer." He waited, and found himself gnawing on his lip. His eyes flickered up to Starfire's. There was no response. His gloved finger tapped on the desktop. His brow knitted over above the curve of his mask. He leaned forward again. "Raven, I need for you to answer me. If you don't answer right away, we will have to come down and…check your room."

Over on the sofa, Beast Boy blinked as one of his ears twitched over in the direction of the computer console and picked up Robin's words. His lapse in concentration cost him, and suddenly, Cyborg let out a whoop of victory. Beast Boy glowered at him, but quickly put the controls down and hopped over the back of the sofa.

"What's going on?" He asked, walking up to where Starfire stood.

"We aren't sure." Robin answered. "No one has seen Raven. Star went to her room but there was no answer of any kind. I've tried the intercom and she's not answering."

"Okay, that's not good." Beast Boy said. "Um, maybe she just went out for a walk or something?"

"Raven knows the rules better than anyone, she helped make them. No one leaves without letting someone else know, in case of emergency." Robin said.

"Yo, you think there's something wrong with Raven?" Cyborg was right behind Beast Boy.

"She isn't answering. Not one saw her leave and she didn't say anything about leaving." Robin replied. "I'm worried and so is Starfire."

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Cyborg asked. "Let's check out her room. She might be hurt or sick or something."

"Um…dude? Remember what happened the last time we went into her room without asking?" Beast Boy tapped on Cyborg's metal arm.

"Yeah, well, we're just going to see if she's okay." Cyborg looked down at him. "And we won't touch anything."

"I know. I know." Beast Boy said sheepishly.

"Let's go." Robin led the way to the elevator.

Raven's door stood as a very sturdy barrier to her sacrosanct room. Raven did not like anyone to go into her room. She never invited anyone into her room. Her room was her private sanctuary. There was only one time, and they all remembered it vividly, that she had broken that rule and had let someone into her room. It had been the book-entrapped dragon, Malchior, who had lied to her and betrayed her to gain his freedom. At the time, she had believed him to be a dashing, young magician, and to everyone's complete shock, she had fallen hopelessly in love with him.

"So, team," Robin stared at the door after several repeated sessions of knocking and calling out. "How do we get in?"

"Hey BB, you got in as a fly once didn't you?" Cyborg recalled. "You could go in and open it for us."

"Well…" Beast Boy ducked his head. "After I told Raven, she got rid of the crack at the bottom of the door. There is no way in for even a gnat. Believe me, I've tr……." He looked up quickly. "I, erm, asked." The red blush on his cheeks made a weird color mix with his green skin tone. Robin arched an eyebrow. "So, um, I could go Rhino and just knock it down."

"Starbolts would destroy it, I am sure." Starfire said confidently.

"Yeah, and this half of the Tower." Cyborg muttered. "Look, y'all. I could use my lazar cannon, I could melt down a hole big enough for us to go through." Cyborg stated grimly.

"Okay." Robin didn't think for long. "Cyborg, you go. Least amount of damage to her room that way. The door will have to be replaced no matter what."

"I'm on it." Cyborg narrowed his eyes, and aimed his arm-turned-lazar cannon. With the skill of much experience, in just a few minutes he had melted down a hole large enough for them to go through. "Don't touch the edges, man. They're still hot." He said, leading the way in.

The others stormed through in his wake. And crashed into him, as he had come to a dead stop. They stared, along with Cyborg, at Raven's large circular bed with the dark satin cover and headboard suggesting a hovering bird of prey. Because, on top of the dark satin cover, Raven lay motionless, eyes open and staring. On one side of her, gripped in lax fingers, was the book of the cursed dragon Malchior. And in Raven's other hand, entwined through her fingers, was a silky, black neck scarf that none of them had ever seen before.

"Raven…" Robin whispered, frozen in shock.

"Oh no…" Starire's hand went to her mouth.

"Man…"Cyborg swallowed.

"Somebody please tell me she's not dead." Beast Boy's voice shook.

"Cy!" Robin broke the paralysis and bolted forward to the side of the bed. He snatched Raven's wrist to find a pulse. Cyborg was right behind him, switching from lazar cannon to diagnostic as he moved. He scanned Raven's prone form. Robin looked up. "She has a pulse, but it's faint."

"Yeah, all her signs are slow."Cyborg nodded. "We need to take her down to the med room so I can check the monitors. I can't really tell much from here."

"Could it be…."Starfire's voice was shaky as she pointed a finger at the book. "The evil Malchior?" Everyone looked.

"Why would she have that out?" Robin asked with a frown. "She'd buried it deep in that locked chest of hers."

"Robin, I'm not sure now if we should move her." Cyborg said slowly. "She looks more like she's in some sort of trance than sick or hurt."

"Could she be fighting the Malchior again?" Starfire asked.

"What's this? Doesn't look like anything Raven would be caught dead in….sorry." Beast Boy was pointing to the scarf. He wilted at the glare everyone directed at him. But they did then redirect their attention to the scarf.

"Anyone see this before?" Robin asked. One by one, they each shook their heads negatively. "Well, it must have something to do with all this. And I agree with Cyborg, this looks like some sort of trance she's in."

"What can we do?" Starfire asked. "We must help Raven."

"If this is some magic thing, there really isn't a whole lot we can do. I just wonder what happened. Why is that book out? What is with that scarf, and whose is it? And why didn't Raven tell us she was going to do something…like this?" Robin asked in a quiet but grim voice.

"Maybe she didn't know what she was getting into." Beast Boy stared at the book then looked back up at Robin. "He fooled her once…."

To be continued….