Epilogue: A Farewell to Friends
"How's her condition Cyborg?"
"Several sprains, minor fractures, and a minor concussion but aside from that she's in reasonable condition."
"And the others?"
"Raven's got a sprained knee and a few mild burns; Beast Boys has a bunch of bumps and bruises; Jacqueline's has a puncture wound through her upper abdomen that's not very serious; Tyrael has a few broken ribs and a slight concussion; Terubia has a large number of superficial lacerations from going through a pane of glass…um, am I missing anybody?"
Starfire's vision was still a bit blurry as she fully regained consciousness. As her eyes fluttered open at least, she found herself lying on a hospital bed in the Titan's Tower with a several wires and sensors attached to her body. Digital beeps and pings came from all directions as she slowly recalled the events that happened leading up to her current situation: the last thing she remembered was an explosion coming from Kronos and then she blacked out. Judging by the aching, pounding sensation at the back of her head suggested that she had hit her head against something when knocked back by the blast. Her vision was still a bit hazy but she could make out the blurry figures of Robin and Cyborg over her bed.
"Hey, Starfire's starting to come to," Cyborg directed Robin's attention to the stirring Tamaranean.
"Robin…" she murmured weakly.
"Take it easy Starfire. You got knocked around pretty badly," Robin said as he sat down in the chair next to her bed.
"Did we win?"
"Yeah Starfire, we did. We couldn't have done it without what you did Starfire – you did a good job."
"But…my sister…" she whimpered softly, stifling a tear that was welling up in her eye. "Kronos…he…she's gone."
"Um, she looks fine to me," Robin said as he looked past Starfire to the next bed over. All the exhaustion and drowsy feelings that Starfire had been feeling moments ago vanished in an instant as she rolled over to see her sister in the hospital bed next to her. Covered with bandages and both arms in slings, Blackfire was in a weak, but stable condition.
"Shh…wounded people trying to rest here," Blackfire muttered in response, not even opening her eyes as she rested.
"How…I mean I saw you…and then you stopped…I thought you were dead!"
"I was faking it," she answered in a very 'matter-of-factly' tone.
"Faking?" Starfire shouted in disbelief. "I thought you were dead. I felt so much sorrow and rage…why would you play with my emotions like that?"
"Because if you knew if I was alive, you'd be distracted," Blackfire said as she finally opened her eyes and looked over to her sister. "You'd be worried about my safety and Kronos would use that to his advantage. By thinking I was dead, you fought with more rage and ferocity than ever before. Plus, that idiot Kronos thought I was dead too…so he stopped paying attention to me, which Robin can attest to was one of the keys to victory."
"You were the one that threw me the sword," Robin realized, now being able to peg the voice to a face. It was Blackfire's voice that called out to him – he wondered how he didn't realize it at the time.
"You did good out there sis and that's what mattered. I'm not going to apologize for making you a little sad; I did what had to be done in order to win. That's what I do and you should know this by now. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to sleep cause every inch of my body aches right now and talking to you just makes it worse." Blackfire let her head sink back in the pillow. Robin and Starfire weren't going to argue or carry on their conversation as they both respected Blackfire's wish for silence.
"We'll talk when you're feeling better," Robin said softly, smiling warmly to her.
"Raven? Are you in?" Beast Boy knocked lightly on his friend's door. He hadn't seen the reclusive young girl since the end of the fight, where she returned to the Tower quickly and remained in her room ever since. If it weren't for the hectic mess in tending to the injuries of the other Titans and their allies, the other Titans would've expressed more concern about their friend. However, the physical injuries came before emotional ones that Raven likely suffered from. "Come on Raven, I need to talk with you for a minute," Beast Boy insisted as he reached to knock upon the metal door once more. Just as his hand reached it though, the door opened slightly with Raven peering through the foot-wide opening in the door.
"What is it?" Raven asked, a bit impatiently.
"Um…you feeling okay Raven?"
"Your eyes a little red around the edges that's all…and your room looks worse than the city," Beast Boy answered, looking past Raven to see a few knocked over bookcases and a number of her other possessions strewed across the room.
"I'll be fine," she insisted again.
"I'm sorry about Napharak," Beast Boy said softly. Raven sighed softly as her eyes drifted downwards – despite what she claimed earlier, she had been in her room feeling horribly conflicted over the loss of Napharak.
"I don't know what to feel anymore…" Raven admitted quietly. "He lied to me. He tried to manipulate me. He used his former reputation and my past admiration to get close to me and I'm sure he would've tried to make me leave the rest of you. He tried to have my friends killed and he ordered the death of hundreds of innocent lives. I should hate him like any other monster but…I can't seem to."
"You looked up to him, it's hard to let that go."
"It was more than just that. Growing up…knowing that I was going to be this prophesized bringer of the apocalypse, I sometimes thought I could just…sacrifice myself so that Trigon couldn't use me as a portal. Every time though, I would always go back to his tales and I'd actually believe that there was a chance. I always had that feeling though…that he never intended on surviving this conflict. He acted just like he did before he went out against Kronos for the last time…"
"Before he…um, you know, he wanted me to give you this," Beast Boy said as he held out the wooden staff of the demon lord. Raven's door slowly opened as she stepped out with disbelief on her face. With a bit of reluctance, Raven accepted the gift from Beast Boy. She held it with one hand and ran her fingertips against the ancient, coarse gnarled shaft, still having trouble believing that she was holding the weapon of a warrior who stood up against her father and won so many years ago. It was easier to distance herself from the sadness she was feeling when all she needed to do was shut it out of her mind but now that there was a very predominant reminder sitting right in her hands, the bottled-up feelings started surfacing again. Trying to save face, she turned around and tried to hide the tears that streaked down her cheeks.
"N-no," Raven tried to deny the painfully obvious. "Please…I'd like to be alone right now."
"Alright then," Beast Boy sighed softly as he turned to leave.
"W-wait!" Raven blurted out, halting Beast Boy in his tracks. "You don't have to go actually."
"Sure thing," Beast Boy quickly turned back to face Raven, who still had her back turned to him. "You kept mentioning Napharak's tales. I don't suppose you still have those books do you?"
"You…want to know the story?"
"Contrary to popular belief, I do actually read from time to time."
"They're somewhere in the um…mess," Raven said as she finally looked back to Beast Boy. "But…it's not written in English. You wouldn't be able to read it."
"Oh…" Beast Boy sighed, sounding a little disappointed at the news.
"I could translate it for you," Raven suggested, managing a weak smile. "If you've got the time to spare."
"Sounds like fun."
"It's been an honour fighting by your side, all of you," Robin said as he conversed with their three new friends just outside of the Titan's Tower. Though somewhat battered, Terubia, Jacqueline, and Tyrael were all prepared to head on their way. Accompanying Robin was Cyborg, who had a little parting gift for each of them. In his hand were a trio of their special communicators and held them out to them. "Take these. From now on you're all honourary Titans."
"Oooo, merci," Jacqueline smiled as she quickly helped herself to one of the communicators. "Does it get AM/FM?"
"It, too, has been a honour for me. If you ever need some help, my order and I will be more than willing to help," Tyrael added after taking a communicator. "I pray that our paths cross again in the future, hopefully under better circumstances."
"How does this thingie work anyways?" Terubia asked since she had no experience whatsoever with technology.
"So you're all going to be heading back home now, huh?"
"Actually no," Tyrael answered. "I've got another assignment to go to. There are reports of apparitions in a small southern African village they want me to investigate."
"There's nothing left for me back in Daluram so I'm taking up Cyborg's offer and I'm going to see what living on Earth is like," Terubia continued with an excited smile.
"I've always been looking for a reason to leave home and branch out. I zink zis is a prime opportunity to start making a name for myself on zis side of the Atlantic. Besides, from what I've heard ze villains here are a lot more fun to take down zan ze bland zugs back home."
"Well good-bye and good luck to each of you," Robin said with one final farewell. Each one had contributed greatly to their success against Kronos and it was good to see that despite all the hardship they went through, the Titans were able to come out of this ordeal with something positive.
"Clean-up crews are up their knees in debris as repairs to the damaged sections of the city are currently underway. Yesterday's 10-hour long battle with a villain known only as Kronos ended with a narrow victory for the Teen Titans and several of their allies. Amazingly, though there were numerous injuries, no fatalities have been reported. The fate of Kronos is still currently unknown and the Titans have refused to comment on the matter." Robin sighed lightly to himself as he continued watching one of the many news broadcast on the battle the day before. If the Titans had definitive answers, Robin would've given them and he didn't want to cause panic by telling them that Kronos was motivated by a desire to prevent some terrible disaster in the future. "In other news, Wayne Enterprises Olympus Project hit an unexpected delay when-" Robin shut off the television when he heard some footsteps echoing through the peaceful tower. It was late at night so everybody should've been asleep until Robin thought about it for more than five seconds and had a good guess as to who it was.
Taking an alternate route, Robin headed up to the roof at a casually pace. When he arrived, Blackfire was already there with a small duffle in her relatively good arm. Robin simply grunted to get Blackfire's attention, who didn't seem too surprised to see the Titan up there.
"Oh…uh, hi there. I thought you were still asleep."
"Leaving without even so much as saying good-bye. I wondered where Starfire got that habit from," Robin remarked as he walked over and leaned against the railing next to Blackfire.
She chuckled softly as she leaned back on the railing. "I didn't even say good-bye when I left Tamaran years ago. She simply woke up one day to find me gone. I just didn't want to have to deal with her – she wanted me to stay so badly."
"You don't have to leave Blackfire. I mean…where will you go?"
"I've always been a nomad Robin, even when I was kid. I never could stay in one spot for very long. I would always look to the horizon with the thought of seeing what's out there. There's a whole planet out there for me to experience. Who knows…maybe I'll find some friends and make my own little family like my sister."
"Two near-death experiences might have something to do with that," Blackfire said before taking a moment to think the next few things over. "Back on Daluram, I seriously thought I was going to die in that cave. I was going to die and only one person would actually give two shits about it. Who knows what the future holds for me – whatever it is though, I'm not going to screw things up with trivialities and holding onto old grudges. I'm going to do something with my life…I'm going to prove to everybody back home that I'm not a total failure."
"Alright then. I'll tell Starfire you said good-bye, okay?"
"You take of her, you hear me? The only person allowed to mess with her emotions is me so if I hear a complaint about the way you've been teaching her, I'll be paying you a visit." Both smirked as Blackfire picked up her bag and hopped onto the other side of the railing. "Starfire's birthday is in six months, I'll be drop by and pay a visit then."
"I'm sure she'd be glad to see you when that day comes." Robin was prepared to turn in for the night when Blackfire spoke up again.
"Hey Robin," Blackfire said with a bit of a speculative tone in her voice. "Have you ever wondered…if we did the right thing today?"
"What do you mean?"
"Kronos was trying to prevent some huge disaster, right? You don't think we may have just doomed humanity by stopping Kronos?"
"History isn't written in stone. His presence has already changed some things – you've made up with your sister, the Titans have several new allies, and now we know that there's a major disaster in the future involving us in some way. The future is in our hands now."
"I guess the only thing we can do is wait…and see what the future brings."
Last words from the Author:
Wow. Can you believe it's actually finished? Part of me is still in disbelief. Well, I hope you all enjoyed reading Plains of Daluram as much as I had writing it. Join Blackfire, the Titans, and more in the next installment of the Blackfire Trilogy, Blackluck Angel, which will be released hopefully around the June 10th weekend.