Raven had seen a lot in her short life, but those were two words she had never expected Robin to say.
At least not in the same sentence, she sighed mentally as she and the others headed back to the T-Car. I can understand why, but that doesn't make it–
She froze. Who said that?
"Help me. Someone help me."
Who are you? Where–?
The intensity of the last exclamation actually caused Raven to cry out and clutch her head. She began to fall, but luckily Starfire was already at her side to catch her, the others not far behind.
"Raven! Are you all right?"
"We," she muttered weakly. "We need to go back."
"Are you crazy!" Beast Boy shouted. "And deal with the army of mobsters and that angry big guy!"
"Tunnels," Raven continued, re-finding her feet. "Underneath the hotel. Cave-in. Ricochet and Hornet."
"Got it," Robin said, a look of determination on his face. "Let's go team."
"I'm sorry," the Hornet sobbed to the pile of rubble before him. His armor was covered with dust, the exposed part of his face smeared with dirt and tears. "I'm sorry Johnny. I just can't dig anymore. There's just too much. I tired to be brave Johnny. Tried to be strong. But I...I just can't. I can't do this."
"Be at ease, Friend Hornet."
Had he the strength, Hornet would have jumped to his feet and turned around. As it was, he barely raised his head to see the orange hand place itself on his shoulder. "Who...?"
"I am called Starfire. My friends and I shall retrieve your friend."
"Beast Boy, see if you can find a scent," another new voice. "Raven, Starfire, start digging. "Cyborg, help me get him outside."
It wasn't until he felt the fresh wind of the night outside against his face that Hornet slowly started to come out of his daze. When he felt his rescuers gently sit him down on a rock, he finally looked up.
"Cyborg and Robin I presume," he said, sounding hallow.
"That's right," Robin nodded. "And I take it you're the Hornet."
"All right. Now that we all know who we are, mind telling us what happened?"
"Prodigy," Hornet said softly. "He sent us to find out what was going on below. There were barrels...and the rats. He left us. Prodigy left us."
Cyborg and Robin exchanged shocked glances before turning back to the would-be hero before them.
"He's new to the whole leader thing, isn't he?" Cyborg asked.
The answer was not what either Titan expected and came in the form of shouting from the drain pipe they just exited. Before either Cyborg or Robin could inquire as to what was happening, they were forced to duck as two golden objects came hurling towards them.
"Get away from him!" Ricochet shouted as he bounded out of the pipe, another disk in hand. "Hornet, fly! I'll take care--–Lucy in the freakin' sky--!"
Ricochet's "rescue" was cut short by a quickly and well thrown Bird-a-rang, pinning his jacket to the brick surrounding the pipe.
"Johnny what are you–?" Hornet tried to ask.
"Okay, now is not the time to be using my real name," Ricochet sighed. "Just go already!"
"I'm going!" Hornet shouted, obviously confused but trusting his friend. He took to the air, but Robin quickly threw a line, wrapping it around Hornet's ankles.
"Cyborg, reel him in," he shouted, handing the line to his much stronger teammate.
"No problem," Cyborg said. "Just like a–WHOA!"
Robin's eyes nearly bugged out of his head as his friend was yanked from the ground, pulled by Hornet's flight as if he were little more than a paper weight.
"Yeah, you got everything under control."
Robin turned to face Ricochet, but was greeted by his Bird-a-rang being returned to sender. The impact with his forehead knocked him down. He propped himself up on his elbow just in time to see Ricochet bounce away and Starfire and Beast Boy rush to his side from the drain pipe.
"What happened?" he asked as Starfire helped him to his feet.
"I don't know!" Beast Boy shouted. "We'd just uncovered the guy and BAM! He just flips out, throwing those disks of his and bouncing all over the place!"
"Are you hurt?" Robin asked, finding it hard to believe that Ricochet could've taken all three of them, even if he did catch them by surprise.
"No, just caught us off guard," Beast Boy replied. "The guy is crazy fast."
"Rodents of most unusual size," Starfire said, sounding a bit shaken up.
Robin raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Freaky giant mutant rats," Beast Boy explained. "They started coming out from the rubble right after bouncing boy took off. They were really mean looking, but Star freaked and hit 'em with her starbolts and they took off running."
"Great," Robin sighed as he pulled out his communicator. "Cyborg, you need a hand?"
"Yeah, if you guys don't mind, I'd like to be cut down."
"Cut down?" Robin repeated, raising his other eyebrow. "What happened?"
"I don't want to talk about it. Just have Raven or Star home in on my signal."
"All right. Raven, could you...wait, where is Raven?"
Beast Boy and Starfire blinked and looked behind them. Question marks then began to blink in and out of existence over their heads.
"I do not know," Starfire said. "She was right on our heads."
"Tails," Beast Boy corrected. "And yeah, she was right there."
"Great," Robin sighed.
"This is pretty messed up right here Eddie," Johnny said as he and Hornet came home to roost on a rooftop several blocks away. "He left us man! Ritchie just...abandoned us under there! I knew he was a psycho from the beginning. I said so, and nobody listened to me! And if I must re-state, there were giant rats down there Eddie! Real giant one! I mean, what the f–!"
"The Titans," Hornet interrupted. "I don't think they were gonna hurt us Johnny."
"I know, I know," Johnny sighed, pulling down his mask. "I panicked, I admit it. Between our fearless leader, the rats and being buried alive...say, you got systems to track us, right?"
"What?" Hornet asked, obviously confused by the sudden change in topic.
"Greybeard. He had to have lined the suits with all kinds of goodies to keep track of us, right? And knowing you, you hacked into them with yours, right?"
" 'Cause while Ritchie leaving us high and dry is no real surprise, I can't believe Cassie didn't at least come looking for you. See if you can find her."
"Right," Eddie said, suddenly worried. He opened up a control panel in one of his gauntlets and began typing furiously. He then stopped suddenly, frozen solid. "Oh God. Oh God no," he whispered.
"What?" Johnny asked, suddenly back on edge as well. "What is it?"
"Cassie's suit," Eddie whispered, tears starting to flow from behind the visor. "No pulse. No breathing. Body temperature falling steadily...oh god...
Raven allowed herself to be pulled into the dimension more than a little confused. She had assumed the empathic cry she heard was the Hornet trying to dig out Ricochet. After all, the boy had been more than a little terrified when they found him. But after they had both calmed Hornet down and dug Ricochet out, the cry began anew, even more intense than before. It even began...pulling at her somehow. And not sure what else to do, she let herself be pulled.
Now she found herself in a realm she had never been to or heard of before. She was surrounded by complete blackness, as if flying through starless space. However she could...feel flashes of color here and there.
"What is this place?" she asked aloud. "I kinda like it."
Raven looked around, but saw no one. "I will. Just tell me where you are."
It is a bit chilly, Raven thought to herself as she continued to look around. Looking above her, she finally found someone else.
She was dressed in the uniforms of one of the local high schools: black skirt, white button down shirt and black tie, though the tie was hard to see as the girl was curled into a fetal position. Her head was pressed against her knees, hiding her face.
"Are you all right?" Raven asked as she flew toward the girl. "Are you the one..."
"Scared. So scared."
"That answers that question," the Titan muttered to herself as she came within arms reach of the girl. "It's okay. I'm here to help you."
Please let me be doing the right thing, she pleaded mentally, though she had a strong feeling she was.
"Don't worry. Just give me your hand, and I'll take you someplace warm. Someplace light."
"And light," Raven said, holding out her hand. "I promise."
The girl slowly reached out, and took Raven's hand.
And then the realm around them exploded.
Red X cursed as he shifted the uncomfortable weight on his shoulder. He had agreed to work for Roland Desmond as "security" for two reasons:
1. He was being paid good money.
2. He knew it would be a chance to mess with Robin and his little gang of friends.
He definitely did not sign up to play garbage man. Of course, he wasn't about to say that aloud to Desmond's face. If the girl he was now carrying through the sewers was any indication, he did not want to see what his employer was like when he was really "annoyed."
I just wish the damn corpse wasn't so cold, he thought darkly.
He then let out a sigh of relief as he felt the weight on his shoulders started to get warmer. In fact, it even burned a little.
Being pulled apart and smashed back together.
Red X wasn't sure what happened. He just knew that when it was over, there was no sign of the body, he was hanging upside down, his leg hooked on the ladder leading to a manhole, his trademark was now a green Y, and his underwear was on the outside of his costume.
"I'm asking for a raise."
Robin, Starfire and Beast Boy stared with open mouths and wide eyes. It wasn't so much that Cyborg had somehow wound up tangled in Robin's line and was currently hanging from a flag pole and wearing a dress and make-up. It was that Raven had simply...appeared, sitting on his head, looking just as confused as the rest of them.
"Okay," Raven said finally after a rather uncomfortable silence. "I vote we go home, get some sleep, and sort all this out in the morning. Any objections?"
The other Titans slowly shook their heads.
"So you left them."
"I...yes," Prodigy answered, hanging his head. "There was an explosion. My cover was blown. I had...no reason to believe they were alive."
"I don't know. She was not waiting at the rendevous. I can only assume she decided to go against her orders, joining Ricochet and Hornet."
"I see," Slade said as he exited the shadows of the darkened complex. "You sound nervous, my Prodigy. As though you've done something wrong."
"You...aren't mad at me?"
"Should I be?"
"I...no. The others, Sir. They were weak. I'm sorry, but I don't know why you chose them. They didn't have the heart."
"Perhaps," Slade said. "However, they died a Warrior's death. We will have to avenge them, won't we, my Prodigy?"
"Are you sure about this, Johnny?"
"Oh, I'm sure," Johnny all but growled. "He left us Eddie. He left Dusk. And right now, he's probably telling the whole thing to Greybeard, making it look like it's our fault. Like he's the next Big Blue and can do no wrong. I, for one, have had it."
"But you just can't burst into the base, disks...slinging," Eddie protested. "What's your strategy?"
"I told you," Johnny said, punching his palm. "A fist in his face."
Yes, I know this one is shorter than the last, and for that I apologize. However, I like to think that it's entertaining all the same. Personally, I like the bit with Raven on Cyborg's head. The image makes me chuckle. In any case, more action next chapter.
Special thanks to my roommate and my big sister for helping me work out some of the kinks.