Author's Preamble: My brother, being my brother, had decided to make some sort of blog thing for his music and sound addiction. Hopefully chatting to like minded individuals will show him he's not alone. If you're interested (and you know you are...) go here www.tomorrowafterthewar. .
Author's Note: Bah, this chapter was a headache and a half. Really, I had to take out multiple versions of this before i was satisfied. This is like, version 2.3 something. Hope I haven't lost my touch... was i ever in touch? oh well, enjoy. huh, i'm progressively getting lazier... oh, almost forgot to mention the fact that this may be the last you'll see of me in a while on this fic. apparently, i got high off fumes and decided to join the marines. i'm shippin' out to boot camp on the fifteenth of oct. yay me!
Chapter the Seventh: An Engaging Day
Jade Chan had finally escaped from her erstwhile partner (was partner the right word for their association?). She could hardly be blamed; the guy was infuriating in his pacifistic tendencies. It was impossible to do just about anything without one of his lectures. She'd had to do cartwheels and bend over backward with words just to have him stay out of her way. So Jade was happy to have him out of her hair and walking down the streets of Jump City.
She had had to promise not to hurt a fly before the peace loving nut would let her out of her own hotel room (not that she had a problem with peace, but that guy really pushed it above and beyond). She'd been the one to pay for their rooms and he had the audacity to bar her way! She itched to rip his head off, but her superiors would frown at that. Besides which, Wintergreen (the bastard had a butler) would have never allowed for such actions.
Sighing, Jade cast her awareness out into the world to once again seek the ones who could help her wrap up this damnable assignment. Finding what she needed, she muttered quietly to herself and started moving, her chocolate brown, almond shaped eyes trained on nothing as she continued to seek the only aid made available to her.
Terra stared tiredly at Emrys, trying desperately to take in what he was saying but failing spectacularly. Already the sleepless night taxed her body, desperately demanding repose. She refused, remembering the phantoms that haunted her rest.
She'd had trouble sleeping already as t'were. Nats had not been pleased to learn of her super-heroic/villainess origins, the Titan Terra had not been remembered too fondly for her last few escapades. Natalie had lost her brother to a certain maniac's hostile takeover a few years back. Things had gone sour for the civilian and she'd sunk into a depression. She'd finally started picking up the pieces in befriending 'Serra' and now it turns out that her new friend had a hand in her brother's death.
Though this had kept the blonde awake for a while, it didn't stop her from falling into a fitful sleep. However, the nightmare she had had woke her screaming and jumping at her own shadow.
She didn't get any sleep after that.
She snapped to attention, eyes blinking rapidly as they uncertainly registered the room once more. Kel was off to the side, eyeing her warily. The girl with the mismatched eyes did not like her, not in the least. Emrys was staring at her, caught between yelling at her for not paying attention (he had been teaching her some very important magical basics) and asking her what was on her mind (she was distracted and he was curious).
Keltaek turned away, the unease not leaving her once. She couldn't explain this irrational distrust in the newly acquired novice. It wasn't just the story of her as a backstabbing Titan; she hadn't trusted her before even learning about that piece of history. Something about the blonde had her instantly on alert and Kel was left to flounder as to why. Every nerve was on end, every synapse in her brain was trained on the other geomancer's every action, looking for ulterior motives.
Groaning softly to herself, she turned to the front of the store, silently leaving the room with every instinct inside berating her for exposing her back.
She traversed the portal only to find herself in between the rooms to the shop. Here all doors to the shop were open. From here, every portal to every room to the store was accessible to those with the eyes to see them and the hands to open them. The rows of doors were infinite, stretching into eternity with portals that neither Kel nor Emrys had yet to open and pass. Past, present and future were here and doors that should not yet exist or no longer do can be accessed here. Time had no place and without such a reference, Kel was rather disoriented.
'Feeling' the place out, she searched the shop for Cavall. Finding the were-like construct she 'opened' the portal and 'walked' in disoriented. She wasn't very good at the whole walking dimensions thing. Shaking her head to rid herself of the slight migraine that she always had when doing these 'jumps', the girl/woman sought out the construct.
Cavall dozed within the labyrinthine walls of the Inner Library, simmering in a light meditative trance. Its awareness brushed softly against the inked leaves on the shelves, slowly absorbing the knowledge writ there idly, bored. The library was vast, its reading not even having taken a dent of its mammoth mass. But still, Cavall grew tired of people phrasing and rephrasing the same thing over and over again. It idly considered lulling itself to a pseudo sleep and greatly mourned the loss of sleeping, of- dreaming.
"Yo, paperboy." A frowned marred its papery features, annoyed at being disturbed. "Pack it in and look lively, whitey. We've places to go today."
Its paper eyes unfurled, the body behind it unwinding from its supine position. Raising itself onto its hind legs, it shifted into the androgynous preset form it had chosen. Looking down the hall of shelves with a peeved expression on its face, Cavall took off toward Kel, muttering under its breath.
Kel waited, impatient for Cavall's arrival. She knew the being would be irritated, but she couldn't help herself, she loved bugging the sentinel, ruffling its paper was fun.
A riotous fury of paper stormed before her, resolving into something humanoid. Cavall had arrived.
"What places? Furthermore, what right do you have to order me around anyhow? I'm a magical construct, I'll have you know, and I will be treated courteously!" snapped Cavall. A pointed glare speared Kel, but she didn't look affected at all. As a matter of fact, she had an amused look on her face. Sauntering up to the white construct, she patted his cheek condescendingly. Then she took a piece of paper out. Cavall froze as he read the contents.
"Cavall, Cavall, Cavall," sighed the sorceress, mock disappointment coloring her tone. "I expected better from you. After all, you should know better than anyone that the shop doesn't generate that sort of revenue." Cavall gulped, apprehension making its home at the pit of- well, somewhere on the construct. Kel circled behind it, the receipt still firmly grasped in hand. Leaning toward a white pointed ear, she whispered, "We don't want Em to know about this little," she trailed off, "indiscretion of your'n, do we, Cavall?"
Cavall missed having teeth, it was really hard to grind paper and feel the not quite satisfying but nonetheless there for you pain. Finally, he snapped.
"Oh alright; where do you want to go!?"
Kel returned to center stage before the riled being, all sunshine and daisies and smiling happily.
"Titans' Tower, I have to check up on my little project."
"'Little project'?" asked Cavall, slightly confused. Then it remembered the three-in-one. "Oh, that kid." The humanoid frowned. "What do you want with them?"
Kel rolled her eyes. "I don't want anything from them; I just want some things for them. After all, I did pay quite a hefty price for the lot, it'd behoove me to take an interest in my own investment, would you not agree?" demanded the mage haughtily, flicking a lock of hair behind her with an assured swing of her head. Cavall stared, the gears in its head turning smoothly like a carefully up-kept dynamo.
"What worries you, Kel?" its eyes narrowing, Cavall watched its mage mistress, looking for any sign to give away her worries. It was already aware of her distaste toward the other geomancer under their roof, so that wasn't it. Something that bothered her even more than that girl was worrying indeed.
"You know how troubling Shades are, don't you?" Kel spoke reluctantly. When her audience nodded in the affirmative, she plowed on. "Well, they, as you know, are beings that are neither living nor dead. They are, in fact, practically immortal. Without true substance, a shadow, a reflection, right?" Another nod. Kel began to pace. "Be that as it may, these shadows are beings of power and the presence of one in this world, in active dormancy no less, is worrying. Theirs is a power that we don't shake a stick at." Cavall grunted in agreement. "Well, the green one's magic, the life mana, is destabilizing- unpredictable even. Some have even speculated that chaos magic was more predictable in comparison."
"Wait, life magic is dependable," interrupted Cavall, a confused air about it as it scratched its head.
"Yes," agreed Kel as she stopped her pacing, parking herself right in front of the facsimile human, "unless you miss it up with magic of another alignment. Say, dark and earth?" remarked the mage, deadpan in her sarcasm.
"Oh…" Cavall couldn't argue with that one. After all, its existence was practically a byproduct of said phenomenon. It wasn't about to start questioning that. But if he came into existence from such a mix of power, then what would come from something with a Shade's power to back the collision? It was one experiment that Cavall had no interest in seeing the outcome of. Cavall was a power to be reckoned with, and its life had started off from the lowly life of a hunting hound with a dollop of magic in its veins (earth aligned if you must know). The mutation of something like a Shade would be drastic; to say anything less would be the epitome of stupidity.
"So, we'll be paying the Titans a visit and you'll accompany me unless you want Emmy to know about your- splurge." With that she headed toward the door once more, frowning belligerently at it. She hated the feeling of being everywhere and nowhere. It was, to put it simply, nauseating. There was a way to skip the interlude but that called for a pretty penny when it came to mana. She glared at the portal, hoping that her gaze would put the thing into place.
In terms of magic, she wasn't supposed to be able to feel any such sensation. The spell was designed with that in mind. However, Kel was much more sensitive to such things. As a matter of fact, she seemed a little above average on just about everything. Emrys had commented on it as well and at first it was kind of cool. Now it was kind of depressing. Nothing sort of works out the way it was supposed to. She couldn't very well hide from it either, that took work. Now spells weren't having the right affect on her because she was more perceptive than average and it was rather frustrating.
Growling, she finally decided the expenditure would be wholly worth it and made her way through.
She sighed as she closed the door leading to the front of the shop. Finding Cora and Ceres there (she still hasn't quite forgiven either of them for their involvement in her misadventures) she glared at them (they ignored it) before turning to the front of the shop. She blinked at the door. Someone was tracking her. She was so surprised that she froze, gaping in shock. She'd just gotten herself out of one mess (hey, it had only been a day after she took care of the Raaja) and now someone was hunting her? It was a little on the 'much' side of things.
However, her freezing had inadvertently doomed her, she had been unable to shield herself, masking her presence, and had thus been found. She articulated her immense displeasure silently with a glare and an internal tirade. The bell jangled, announcing the hunter to the cornered prey.
Warm brown eyes stared intently, satisfied as they met with mismatched hazel and silver. Kel groaned, her left hand going up for a preemptive massage against the headache that she was sure was coming. She sighed and looked toward the person she hoped to pass off as a customer.
"Welcome to Keltaek's Knick Knacks and Other Krum!" exclaimed Kel delightedly, a fake smile pasted onto her features and hands clasped beneath her chin cutely (she hoped, she kind of had trouble pulling that look off). "Store clerks Cora and Ceres will be happy to lend a hand or four to help make your shopping experience one to be remembered," she declared, hands landing on either twins' shoulder. They looked to their mistress in surprise. "I'll be in the back, so long, and have a happy shopping experience, buh-bye!"
With that she turned to make her escape.
A seemingly innocuous dressing room door in the middle of the Jump City Mall™ cracked open to reveal murky brown eyes peering cautiously into the waiting room area. Feet shuffled nervously behind the once again sealed portal as they kicked themselves into well worn sneakers. Again the door opened and another surveillance of the waiting room took place. Good; still empty.
Cautiously, the grey swathed girl made her way out, leaving the atrocities that a certain redheaded alien had tried to get her in. jamming her hands into the pockets of the baggy jeans she 'borrowed' from Gar (no, it was Beast Boy now), she tried to move as inconspicuously as she could. Of course, raising the hood on the 'TOFU ROX!' jacket and ducking her head had drawn more attention than not. Still with no Starfire in sight, it was fine with her.
Minuet tugged nervously at brown locks under the cowl of her jacket (his jacket). She wasn't sure if this Starfire had been trying to distract her or really wanted her in those pink- things… she hoped it wasn't both. One or the other is fine, but both would be too much. Her fingers continued to pick at her own locks before they came upon something smooth to the touch and it wasn't hair. Tugging curiously at the mysterious thing, she plucked the leaf from her scalp.
A curbed yelp hissed through her lips. She'd forgotten how strange her magic had become, transforming her head into a miniature garden. Random plant-life had taken to appearing on her head and only with supreme effort was she able to hide the green under her skin. Worrying her lip as she worried at her own magic, she continued to make her way to the exit.
Finding herself on the congested streets of Jump City, she looked every which way, her eyes watering at the smog that had been so foreign in her life. She'd nearly choked on the air when she first encountered it and was still getting used to the slightly toxic atmosphere. Hurriedly, she pushed herself forward, away from the mall and hopefully toward Titans' Tower. Finding his lingering presence once more, she took off towards it, trying desperately not to think about the boy's body she was shamelessly using. Guilt gnawed at her mercilessly- cramping her abdominals, pounding on her head and weighing down her limbs. She struggled to keep from feeling inferior, to not sink into a depression- but the guilt, oh it was relentless.
She'd tried to distract herself by going to the mall. When she announced her consent, Raven had looked at her oddly. Robin, the leader, had only grunted, muttering about public liaisons. Cyborg had used the PA to announce his blasé "cool". Robin threw a fit, Raven rolled her eyes and Minuet jumped, still not quite used to modern conveniences. Starfire had chirpily dragged her into the air, zipping across the water so quickly that they hardly registered on the human eye. Minuet was stuck with wearing the loose breeches (jeans they called them), worn out black and white sneakers and the faded purple shirt with the hooded jacket over it.
Her mind raced back to the present as she made her way through an alley. She watched as somebody in front of her was harassed. She took in the scene bemused as the tall bulky white haired balding fellow was pushed around by pint sized (in comparison anyway) twerps. She couldn't quite grasp it, the guy was huge! His arms were as thick as her torso for crying out loud!
So, she kept her nose out of it and just watched. And what she saw didn't please her. The tanned giant just stood there, trying to appease the thugs pushing him around. A frown marred her face. With all that power, if he let loose he might knock them silly. But then the cowards drew pocket knives and Minuet decided right then that she'd seen enough.
Silently, she rushed forward, balanced neatly on her toes. With an extra forceful step she lunged at the closest thug to her, the punk (shit, they were much taller up close!) on the right of the giant, and belted him one neatly in his solar plexus, knocking the wind right out of him. Turning to the remaining three, she snarled as she flipped over the slightly bewildered man she was saving to get to the rest of them.
The aches in her body screamed, but she paid them no mind, forcing them into the recesses of her awareness for a later date. Darting in, she swept the next thug lined up off his feet before pile driving her elbow into his torso, taking him out of commission. The last two began to close in on her, but they moved so slowly, like they were swimming through molasses. She took a stand, feet at shoulder width, body twisting to follow the palm that would strike. She felt her breath entering her attack, she couldn't quite explain the sensation, but she knew it was true. Adjusting her trajectory, she dodged the knife and palmed him in the chest. In one fluid motion she took care of the last thug, but not physically.
It happened before she was even aware of her hand going anywhere near the cowl of her jacket. Suddenly, the hood was off and she was tugging a switch of bramble off her head, cutting her fingers indelicately on the prickling thorns. With a breathless invocation, she'd sent the plant matter flying toward the last punk's feet where a gardening miracle took place.
The switch had quickly taken root in the asphalt and began climbing over its prisoner. The growth was explosive, quickly springing to over five feet in height in a matter of moments. The thug screamed more in terror than in pain as thorns began to prick him mercilessly. The other three ran after that display of meta-ability, the one lagging behind pulling at his waistband as he tried to keep from tripping, not to mention his dignity.
Minuet stood erect, a defiant look in her eye and ready for more. When the last bugger was gone around the bend she finally fell to her knees, breath labored. The last remaining thug moaned, droplets of blood tracing paths to the earth.
"Are you alright, girl?" the giant of a man moved over to her side, worriedly eyeing her, his hands hovering about her nervously.
"I'm fine," wheezed the brunette, eyeing her hair, or more specifically, the sudden addition of greens to her hair. Tentatively she poked and errant root, focusing her magic on the thing.
She jumped when a voice of darkness whispered in her mind's ear, telling her of the properties of said root. Magical or mundane, no secret of the plant was lost to her. Her attention turned to the rose bush before her, and again the knowledge scrolled itself into her mind. From hip to petal, she knew everything and anything to know about roses.
"You sure about that," he half asked half stated.
"Yes," she replied curtly, a glare to her eyes. Her wind apparently caught, she rose unsteadily to her feet. She paused to catch her breath again, clearly not ready for any type of exertion. She stumbled toward the wall closest to her, leaning against it for support.
"Uh-huh," the skepticism could not be ignored and Min growled belligerently, still huffing and puffing. With a sigh on his breath, the giant moved over to her and picked her up daintily.
A surprised squawk protested this situation but no further resistance was forthcoming. She was aching too much to do anything else except enjoy the warmth of being cradled. She was half asleep when the deep rumbling of his voice cut through the haze.
"The name's Bowman Lerosong," his voice as soothing as lava-lamps, soft glow and embracing warmth. "And yours? I don't like bringing complete strangers into my home." There was a hint of a demand to his voice.
"Well met, Minuet," whispered the giant, "well met indeed." With that he lumbered off only stopping to whisper a command to the briar.
Two minutes later, the last thug was released. He high tailed it out of there, the lacerations on him not hindering his mobility in the least. He and his 'friends' never spoke of the chick that handed their collective asses to them that day- ever.
Beast Boy was a bit of a mystery and that was acceptable, expected even. The fact that the team apparently knew less about the changeling than Raven herself, well…
That was not acceptable.
They'd been so easily bought, fooled by the shape shifter. They hardly knew anything about him. They'd barely learned of his career with the Doom Patrol and that had been granted by chance alone.
They hadn't heard any tales of Africa. He never spoke of his parents, presumably dead. They didn't know when he met the Patrol. For the most part, they weren't sure why he was green and morph capable.
It wasn't like they hadn't tried, they did. They tried to learn more about him from the source himself. But he had chattered on inanely, leaving no real opportunities to broach the subject. It had been an unspoken rule to never ask directly about anyone's past. But whenever the conversation was being steered in that direction, he would have a severe case of ADD. Either that or turn the conversation on the others.
They've all tried: Raven would huff away in annoyance muttering about green morons (the other time she tried she'd ended up spilling her guts about her estranged relationship with her mother- she never tried again), Cyborg and Starfire would look on with a slightly amused twinkle in their eyes (Beast Boy also knew exactly who it was that helped develop the cybernetics keeping his best friend alive and knew of Star's younger brother) and Robin sort of blinked, blindsided by the sudden egress (Robin was the only one that Beast Boy refused to wrangle with).
They should have noticed they berated themselves; they hadn't, didn't.
That's not to say that they knew absolutely nothing about him. Beast Boy was good, but he lived in a household of very stubborn people which some people (mostly villains) would call busybodies.
Robin, being Robin, tracked down every story about green animals that he could find which led to interesting articles about Sakutia and a pair of researching geneticists that had passed away. Interesting enough, there was a slight mention of a little boy, conspicuously named Garfield Logan.
From there, he tracked the tale of Galtry and Robin's frown grew ever more pronounced as he read. Then Beast Boy kind of disappeared only to reappear with the D.P.
The boy wonder typed up what he knew and put it on file, just in case. He'd learned much, but it wasn't the same as having it from the horse's mouth. He could make educated conjectures, but ultimately they were speculations without confirmation.
Cyborg had clearance to many networks in STAR labs and had actually aided Robin in his own research. The two boys had decided in the end that when the green bean was ready, he'd talk to them about what they'd learned. They also decided against disclosing any of what they learned to Starfire and Raven. However, the boys being who they were, they underestimated the full might of magic.
Raven was no detective, but she was an empath and the sorceress supreme of the Titans. She had known when they'd gone behind Beast Boy's back and done a background on him. Everyone had to undergo a background in the Titans; some were just more cooperative than others. Raven had been quite annoyed when Robin decided she wasn't exempt. She still hadn't quite forgiven him for putting her file on the roster, after all, if Beast Boy could hack his way in, what the hell kind of protections did they have?
So, after that little debacle with her birthday, Raven had decided that turnabout was fair play- an eye for an eye, if you will. However, even though she was the mistress of magic and could use a computer, no one would mistake her for a hacker.
Ah, the wonders of magic.
With a few well placed words, she practically ordered the files on screen. She hesitated, knowing very well that she was on the brink of becoming a hypocrite. With but a word she could bare her comrade's history before her eyes. Pru made war with Quizzy, a battle between earthy brown and blinding yellow thrummed through her head. Finally, the bright flame was stifled and cool serenity urged her to step back.
As much as she wanted to, Beast Boy had always respected her privacy in certain circumstances. Her past was privy only to her and he had never pried (her spilling her guts was her own doing, and 'sides that, he'd been there to offer her comfort, lousy little…). He may not understand the meaning of personal space, but he left the past where it belonged- behind him.
So, reluctantly, she closed the systems, dismissed the files and set up mystical protections around the mainframe. She'll learn this properly- from the source itself. Until then, she'd wait.
Too bad Starfire lost the only connection they had to Beast Boy at the moment.
Earl Warrington manned the security hub of the JCM™ with only half of his attention on the screens. He was rather advanced in years and he expected to have his employers sack him anytime now. He likes to think that they haven't fired him because he was venerable, but the truth of the matter probably had something to do with the stink it'd send up. Earl couldn't exactly walk up to them and say 'I quit' (he could actually), he wanted to leave without the whole drawn out song and dance (oh).
So rather desperately, Earl tried to get an attitude problem. However, with over thirty years of sittin' on his arse, manning the same station from nine to whenever with patrols sprinkled in, his position was pretty set. Lousy management, shouldn't they have fired his ass already? He was supposed to retire.
Grumbling quietly to himself he heaved himself up on his tired legs, ready to go for another patrol. That's when the door opened- with a bang.
He nearly had a heart attack and his mouth started moving on instinct along with his hands. He was a veteran and cursing like one under his breath as he reached for his gun, fumbling only slightly. Then a face that was familiar to every resident of Jump came into view and Earl thought he had indeed had a heart attack, died and gone to heaven.
"Please kind sir," screamed a frantic Starfire, "I require the viewing of your audio and video recording monitors! I am searching for a misplaced friend."
Earl tried to keep up with the panicking alien. After he made sure she wasn't an angel here to deliver him to the judge (he was quite sure angels wouldn't need his help in any matters), his old cogs creaked into motion to go over what protocol demanded in a situation like this.
As a Titan, Starfire was allowed to commandeer just about anything if she fancied it. It was one of the perks to being a Titan. Their authority far supersedes anything Earl had. But perhaps he could use this situation to advantage. He may be wizened but he was still sharp as a tack.
"Alright, s'all yours," he began slowly, trying to make a bargain with someone who could splat you with nary a thought would make anyone nervous. "But I'll help you out if you do something for me."
Starfire blinked. She needed all the assistance that she could get. Robin would be so disappointed in her if she were to lose their new acquaintance so soon. However, she was wary about agreeing to just anything. More information needs be forthcoming.
"Please, how exactly would I be assisting you?"
"Well…" and off Earl went to expound upon his situation. It was rather embarrassing, but better it be her than him.
"You desire that I tell your superiors a 'white' untruth about you so that they would relieve you of your post?"
"That about sums it up, yeah," replied Earl with a nod of agreement. "So, what do you say?"
"Well, as long as the deed would harm no one…"
"Don't you worry your pretty little head, toots," toots, he couldn't believed he actually said toots. He was getting old… "No one's gonna be a hurtin' and everyone's happy. C'mon, I'm beggin' here."
"Very well," she answered in a moment. She closed her eyes, rationalizing her course of action to herself. It was for the best.
"Alrighty then," declared the aged guard. He sat himself before the main counsel, through which he could access all of the records. Keeping up with the newfangled stuff those tech guys kept pushing out was going to pay off apparently. Drawing up the recordings, he began asking questions. The pair of them finally found their target and watched as she made her way to the western exit.
"The Tower!" declared the redhead. "She must have been making her way back towards Titans Tower!"
Halfway to the exit she turned around to address Earl. She bowed hurriedly.
"Thank you for your assistance kind friend, I will be sure to speak with your supervisor."
Earl sighed, leaning against the back of his chair. In a minute he'd be makin' his rounds. But for a moment, he'd relish the fact that an old man like him had the opportunity to talk to a Titan. Being a softie had its perks; he wouldn't have to initiate a confrontation, he met one of the heroes of the city and offered her assistance. Life was good.
Author's Closing Note: Um, seriously, i'm going to boot camp despite the blase nature of my note. Here's to hopin' i survive! yeehah! Oh, don't forget to review. And yes, not much happens, but I find it only fair- everyone else is doing it.