Epilogue: Just the Beginning
"Hey, I zink he's finally coming to," Jacqueline's voice sounded, starting off very faint and growing louder until it was a normal volume by the end. Cyborg's eye opened up slowly, seeing two of his friends looming over him with bright smiles across their faces. "Welcome back to ze real world sleepy-head."
"Wait…where am I?" Cyborg groaned as he sat up. A quick look around the room revealed that he was back in the tower, in his own room. Beast Boy and Jacqueline stood on opposite sides of the table, both relieved to see that Cyborg was okay. "How did I get back here?"
"Long story short, Jacqueline figured out how to pilot the Argo and flew it back to the Tower, then me and Red X found you unconscious in the ship and brought you here. A few quick runs with her tools and some assistance from yours truly and here you are, good as new!"
"Beast Boy, standing next to me and asking 'is he better yet' does not really qualify as helping me," Jacqueline remarked jokingly. "Ze good news is it's all over Cyborg – Slade's got away unfortunately but we were able to capture Brother Blood and ze Argo. Ze Titans East are already taking zat cybernetic lunatic back to Steel City for incarceration." Cyborg was certainly relieved to hear that his friends were able to handle things without him and he was very glad to hear that Blood was going back to prison, as much as he would've liked to have been there to throw a few punches in. However, something else was on his mind at the moment.
"Um…what did you do with Atalanta's body?"
"What are you talking about?" Jacqueline asked, both Titans looking very puzzled.
"I killed her. Her body was on the repair bed next to me with the tarp covering of it."
Beast Boy and Jacqueline gave each other a confused look before Beast Boy looked back to his friend. "Um Cyborg…you were on the repair with a tarp overtop of you. The only other thing in that room aside from debris was that dead scientist guy."
"Yeah, if Atalanta was zere we would've put her remains someplace safe until you made a decision," Jacqueline added, though Cyborg wasn't listening at that point. He wasn't sure how but that news meant only one thing – she was still alive. He hadn't failed her. "Yo! Earth to Cyborg, pay attention!" A swift smack to the back of the head brought Cyborg's attention back to his friends in the room, rather than his own hopeful thoughts. "I'm afraid I've got some bad news as well…the Legion isn't-"
"Under Slade's command. Yeah, I already know," Cyborg quickly interrupted. "Atalanta told me that when I confronted her. Somebody else was controlling the Legion all along and it wasn't that scientist guy either."
"Oh, okay then. Well, I don't want to sound like a pessimist…but I hope you realize zat zere's a distinct possibility zat your…zat Atalanta might have been more important in ze Legion zan she let on."
"I know…I thought of that possibility as well," Cyborg sighed lightly as he climbed off the table. "I doubt it was all her acting alone though. The Legion seemed too…coordinated for it to be acting under the orders of somebody who had their memories wiped out for some covert operation. She might be important in the Legion but I don't think she's in control of all of it."
"There's no telling what she could be – she's a machine," Beast Boy added. "And a pretty darn fancy one at that."
"How about we save speculation until we have some hard facts," Jacqueline silenced Beast Boy quickly before turning back to Cyborg. "Don't worry about it Cy. We'll start looking for once everybody's patched up and rested – we'll find her and you can get some answers…and maybe bring back your girl."
"Thanks you two," Cyborg nodded slowly. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think a bit of a celebration is in order."
"Oh sweet! I'll get the kitchen fired up!" Beast Boy cheered as he immediately bolted out of the room.
"I'll go get ze others," Jacqueline chuckled before heading on her way.
"Sounds like quite the adventure you had. I was a little worried when you left so abruptly last time and never came back for such a long time. I suppose I shouldn't have worried though, if something bad had happened I would've been able to sense it."
"The cell I was being held in had some sort of energy barrier that made it impossible for me to contact you, otherwise I would've called," Raven answered as she sat upon a small rock in the barren plains of the Daluram afterworld, Z'hral Delthak, with her friend, the demon lord Napharak, sitting upon a larger rock just across from her. "After Jacqueline and I were able to take control of the Argo's bridge, she was able to learn how control the vessel and eventually took us back to the Tower."
"Jacqueline? You mean that blonde girl with the guitar that caused so much trouble in my keep back in Daluram?"
"Yeah, that's her. She's been helping us a lot since Daluram."
"You speak quite highly of her. I take you have become friends with her?"
"Quite," Raven nodded with a faint smile. "She's been pestering me to teach her about magic. Apparently she studies just about everything in the rare chance that she might go up against it or something similar when fighting crime."
"You just appreciate having somebody actually interested in your mysticism for a change," he chuckled in response. Raven chuckled a bit nervously before nodding her head. Jacqueline showed a very genuine interest, even though the human girl would never be able to use those magic spells…she just wanted to learn more. None of the other Titans ever gave that much interest for that very reason. Raven was a little reluctant to let Jacqueline into that dark world that Raven considered home but perhaps it'd be nice to have somebody to understand the sort of reality she dealt with on a regular basis.
"Somebody just knocked on my door…" Raven said suddenly with a slightly disappointed look in her eyes. "Figures – they're probably ready to start celebrating the win. I guess I'll be talking to you later Napharak."
"You're friends should always come first."
Returning back to reality, Raven stood back up and headed to answer her door. The fact that it had been only one, short, and polite series of knocks gave her the impression that it wasn't one of her usual guest, who had a habit of calling out when they knew she was in the room. Answering the door, Raven wasn't too surprised to see that it was actually Jacqueline on the other side.
"Bonjour mon ami," she greeted cheerfully. "Still playing hermit or will you be coming out to join your friends for a bit of celebrating?"
"I was just on my way actually," Raven answered. "Are we…still on for tomorrow?"
"For ze last time, oui and, once again, you can just loan me ze books or just let me read in your living room for a few hours if it's really zat bad for you. I know you're not much of a people person, as much as zat fact saddens me."
"Sorta. It's sort of like when you see a little kitten sitting out in ze pouring rain – it makes you want to do somezing to help out ze little animal."
"So I'm a kitten now?"
"Well you're cute like one." When Raven raised an eyebrow at Jacqueline's comment, the French girl merely laughed heartily. "Go meet your friends in the living room, chaton, and I'm going to get the rest of my buds." Raven didn't bother questioning the girl's unusual antics, as she had grown a bit used to such unexpected behavior because of Beast Boy.
"In politics today, Senator Fraser's controversial 'Meta-human Control' bill was defeated by the House in a landslide victory for his opponents. The bill, which proposed tighter laws against humans with unnatural powers and a meta-human registration program, owes its defeat primarily to renewed confidence in our country's heroes, especially after Jump City's Teen Titans were cleared of all charges relating to a plot by the infamous 'Slade'. In the business world, Wayne Enterprises' Project Olympus was able to resume only a bit behind schedule after the three super-computers, which were central to the project's plans, were recovered by the Teen Titans and their allies."
Robin flicked off the television, silencing the anchorman, now semi-content that things were going to go back to normal in their fair little city. The potential fallout from the actions of the Teen Titan replicas had been averted and the city was safe for the time being. Slade was still unaccounted for but even if he had survived the explosion and the fall, he wasn't going to be in any condition to be threatening the city any time soon; the next time he shows his face, the Titans will be there to stop him as usual.
"It is a relief to see that everything will be back to normal," Starfire sighed in relief, resting her head on Robin's shoulder.
"I just wish I knew why the Legion did what it did," Robin said softly, still not quite able to relax as a result of the lingering thoughts. "Heracles told me…that the Legion's aim was to end chaos. He also said that we'd only ever find out who really led the Legion when they return to destroy us."
"When they come back, we will be ready to stop them," Starfire tried to reassure him. "We know what we are dealing with and now we have new friends to count on for help."
"Oh all the people, I didn't really quite expect your sister to be the one saving the day," Robin admitted jokingly. It was a bit of a surprise but not a huge one. Ever since Daluram Blackfire had changed noticeably – she might not be the moral hero like her sister was but she still managed to do the right thing in the end.
"She has finally found something worth living for aside from herself. At Daluram, she fought because she wanted to get home and then because she wanted revenge. Fighting the Legion was partly for revenge as well…but stopping all those criminals when we were not able to…that was because she knew it was the right thing to do. I think she's going to continue doing good things from now on. Maybe if she does enough good here…they'll let her come back home to Tamaran."
A few moments later, Beast Boy and Cyborg strolled on in. The two Titans on the couch were relieved to see Cyborg up and about considering the level of damage he had received in his battle. "Cyborg!" Starfire exclaimed when she saw her friend. "Um…how are you feeling?"
"I'll be fine," he answered calmly, knowing the tension that talking about Atalanta would bring to the situation. As such, he preferred if it weren't brought up. "The kitchen's been fixed, right?"
"Yeah. Kid Flash and the twins were able to clean this place up really quickly," Robin answered as he looked over the refurbished living room. There were still some things missing, like temporary metal plates where the windows used to be, but considering the condition it was in when the Titans returned, it was amazing that they got it repaired this much. Well, fourteen Titans working together helped make things move really quickly.
"I suppose this is the point where I should admit that you guys were right – I let my emotions get the better of my judgment and it almost got us killed. I'm sorry you guys."
"You do not need to apologize Cyborg," Starfire answered as she flew off the couch and over to him. "You followed your heart to find something that all people seek. You wished to find happiness and you cannot be blamed when things outside of your control happened. Risking everything to find that one person that completes you does not make you a bad person…it simply makes you human."
A faint smile curled upon Cyborg's lips before he nodded in silent agreement. "Thanks Starfire," he replied. "Now who wants French toast?"
Though the sun had risen many hours ago, Blackfire did not bother leaving the rooftops despite originally going up to just watch the sunrise. The morning breeze rustled through her hair and the glow of the sun warmed up her face. It was a beautiful day to be alive; part of her had never realized such simple things in life before. As much as she didn't want to admit it, she had changed a bit as a result of this whole ordeal – she had friends now and more importantly somebody who loved her and she loved as well.
"So this is where you've been hiding all day," Red X's voice perked up behind her, which made the Tamaranean quickly spin around to face her boyfriend. However, it was more than just Red X as Jinx, Kid Flash, and Jacqueline stood alongside him as well.
"Hey you guys," Blackfire greeted, leaning back against the railing. "Hm, I guess this is also sorta good-bye at the same time." The battle was over; there was no need for them to be around each other constantly. They all had lives before they banded together to help the Titans and she figured they were all going to go back to those lives now.
"Well, actually Blackfire…" Red X began. "We were sort of discussing it downstairs and we were thinking that maybe we shouldn't go our separate ways. We did make a pretty damn good team…and you made a damn fine leader too."
"Now you I definitely didn't expect to be saying that," Blackfire remarked. "I thought you hated playing hero. I figured you'd be the first to be wanting to get back to your old life."
"I thought so too until I found something a bit better than stealing."
"So…us a team, eh?" Blackfire still couldn't help but chuckle at the thought. "You know, I kinda like the sound of that. This superhero business is actually kind of fun. I don't know why I didn't think of getting into it sooner. But..um, where are we going to work out of? I doubt the Titans would like us moving in."
"Oh, I zink I have a solution zat zey would not have too much trouble with," Jacqueline mused as she glanced over the side of the building. She was, of course, referring to the Argo that was still docked in the water next to the island. "We'd probably have to remove ze big particle cannon but aside from zat zose Legion folks owe us a new home."
"It could use a bit of fixing and cleaning but I think we can make it work," Kid Flash joked.
"Come on guys, Cyborg's cooking up a party in ze kitchen and I don't want to keep him waiting," Jacqueline reminded her friends, motioning for them to follow along as she headed back inside.
"You know, we're going to need a name if we're going to be a team full-time." With the foundation of their friendship in place, the five new members of the Titans team headed inside for a well-deserved celebration.
"What is her status brother?" A heavy, baritone male voice spoke through the darkness of the chambers.
"The damage was severe but it can be repaired," a second male voice answered, this one lighter and more raspy than the previous.
"It would seem dear sister's plan was not as successful as she said it would be," a third voice, this one female, added.
"I told you we should've helped her out – maybe then she wouldn't be in this condition," a fourth voice stepped into the conversation, this one being a more youthful and bold masculine voice.
"You know how stubborn she can be. Maybe now she'll consider a new plan," a final, fifth voice said. His was somewhat flatter but had a much faster tempo compared to the others. "Are you almost done?"
"Patience – not all of us work as fast as you do," the second voice answered, followed by the sounds of tools at work. Flashes of blue and red sparks dances across the repair table that was kept illuminated by a single, focused beam of light. "Hm, interesting. The secondary program has actually hard-wired itself into the primary operating system."
"And that means?" asked the third voice.
"It means nothing, except that she will be a little more annoyed when she wakes up."
"I told her that was a stupid move…entrusting her entire system to a stranger program. Who knows what sort of things that Atalanta could've done to her sub-systems and protocols," the fifth voice said, voicing his concerns.
"She will be fine," said the second voice reassuringly. "Just a few more connections and I can restore her primary operating system to its full capacity. And…done." The five barely visible figures surrounding the repair table slowly backed up allowing the unconscious robotic woman on the table some space to get back up. It was Atalanta who lay there upon the cold, metallic surface, her body now repaired and the old scars of the battle before barely noticeable. Slowly, her eyes fluttered open and the young girl sat up on the table with a somewhat tired expression on her face.
"I take it no good news is awaiting me," she said calmly as she glanced over to those around her.
"I'm afraid not sister," spoke the first voice. "The Titans have succeeded against your operations. The Argo has been lost, Slade has gone underground, and the super-computers have been returned to their rightful locations."
"Great," she grumbled under her breath. "I suppose you have already recalled all our troops."
"Correct. It is clear we are not ready to launch a full-scale operation. That, however, does not matter at the moment. For now, we are merely relieved to see you returned to us unharmed…General Athena."
Last Comments of the Author:
Wow. Two down, only one more to go. Keep your eyes peeled for the final installment of the Blackfire Trilogy, which will hopefully be started within a week. I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I have had writing it.