Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans. I only own my OC, John Smith

It was only a routine job...

The deal was simple: Adder Inc. had their eyes set on the new AI software developed by Wayne Industries. So, we were promised a nifty amount if we could get a copy of its source code, by any means necessary.

Which boils down to basic Industrial Espionage, actually.

Now, the Wayne Ind. building in Jump City is an impossible challenge, as any thief will tell you. In fact, the only one who managed to pull a job there was a certain Red-X, who, somehow, teleported past most of the Security.

Don't assume that when I say "Security", I mean some computer-controlled, automated camera system, or laser defenses, or any state-of-the-art technological Cerberus. As more and more thieves learned how to fool computers, Wayne Industries reverted to the good ol' favorites: the patrol and the guard-dog.

Which was good for us. There is no way you can cast an Illusion on a computer.

I had never been to Jump City before. It was a pleasant break from Gotham. I especially liked the way the buildings were built one next to the other, making movement over rooftops as easy as a walk in the park. We approached the Wayne building without difficulty and I cast my spells on the rooftop guards. Nothing flashy-I wasn't that powerful. I just made sure that their already sleepy brains would forget about us the moment they saw us. Kate scrambled the signals of the cameras and we were in.

The rest of the job went just as smooth. Ten minutes after our successful entry, we were in the computer room, where Iris hacked into the Wayne mainframe. Not ten feet away from her, sat the guard in charge, calmly sipping his tea, having forgotten that we were there. Even Fred, always distrustful of my Illusions seemed relatively at ease, just like the rest of us.

Iris had the software source code downloaded in less than five minutes. We were packing up, when the lights went out.

An accidental blackout in Wayne building is impossible. Even if the city power grid fails, there are two reserve generators in the basement, each capable of sustaining the power supply for more than twelve hours. This was no accident. This was sabotage.

I heard the guard beside me give a muffled yelp. Apparently, the blackout had torn my Veiling spell to tatters. I heard him fumbling for his walkie-talkie and flashlight. Not wanting our cover to be blown, I stepped next to him and grabbed his hand. He tried to jerk himself loose, but my Paralyzing spell shot up to his head in seconds. He collapsed in a heap, alive but unable to move a muscle. I steadied myself on the desk, as the powerful spell drained my power.

I heard the distinctive crunch of glow sticks being twisted and the room was bathed in green light. Kate and Fred looked around, wary, and Jason slid two dart clips into his handguns.

"We go now." he said. "Keep together. We will keep moving, no matter what happens. We gotta get out, before the police get here. John," he turned to me, "we must be invisible all the time. We don't know what is waiting for us out there. You two," he snapped to Kate and Fred, "lose the light. Use your night vision goggles."

We nodded. I pointed at his guns.

"Are these really necessary?" I asked.

Fred pulled out his knives.

"Not everyone is afraid of fighting, mate!" he said with a grin, and activated his goggles.

"It's called pacifism." I mumbled. "Comes with intelligence. You should try it sometime, Conan."

Iris snickered.

We ran out of the room in single file, Jason and Fred first, then Iris and me and finally Kate. Mark, who was guarding the door, joined us, bringing up the rear. We made our way to the roof, sneaking past guards who watched us run by with a dazed expression on their faces, only to forget about us the moment we were out of sight. Once, Iris turned to smile wolfishly at me and whisper "I like those spells of yours!" My stomach tied itself into a knot. I still hadn't found the courage to ask her out. Maybe after the job was done...

It was never meant to be.

A blur in the corner of my vision, a sharp motion in the darkness, and Mark fell, a blade in his throat. I froze. What the...?

Jason whirled and fired four shots from each gun, covering a wide area. Subconsciously, I admired the old man: well past his prime, his reflexes were as good as ever. My main concern at the time, though, was how our mysterious attacker had spotted us under my Veiling spells.

Jason turned to Kate, who was kneeling by Mark

"Well?" he snapped. Kate just shook her head and drew her own gun.

Jason swore loudly and turned to me.

"John! What are you playing at? I told you..."

"The shield is up!" I cried, as puzzled as he was. "Somehow he saw through it!"

"Did you get him?" asked Kate, her eyes scanning the corridor, from beneath her goggles. Joe shook his head.

"I see no body." he said. "Be on your guard!"

I nervously added another layer to my defenses. Deep down, though, I knew it was useless.

Two more blades whistled through the air, and both Jason and Fred went down. Katie screamed and rushed to Jason's side, while I backed away towards the wall, dragging Iris with me.

OK, I was a coward. Still, I survived.

The masked man fell from the ventilation pipes on the ceiling, right next to Kate. She raised her gun, but he grabbed her hand and turned it towards us. Kate fired twice, instinctively, and both slugs hit the wall not three inches from my head. The mysterious aggressor pressed his advantage, grabbing her head with both hands and twisting sharply. Her neck broke like a twig, and she fell, dead before she hit the floor.

The killer turned towards us. For the first time I managed to sense him: Cold and calculating, like a well-oiled machine. He was clearly able to see us-my Veils had no effect. But now I could sense him, I could also affect him. I tried to gain access to his mind, to erase us from his memory and winced, in pain. Trying to break through his defenses was like running into a brick wall.

He chuckled.

"Trying to enter my mind, little one?" he drawled. "You should know that, once someone has fought the Devil himself and reclaimed his body after death, he tends to be resilient to such pathetic attacks."

He stepped closer, a staff appearing as if from nowhere into his hands.

"Now give me the disks, and I might let you live."

Before I could say anything Iris beat me to it:

"Come and get them, freako!" she howled and went for her knives.

In an instant, the assassin was upon us. I still don't know how I blocked his first two blows (I was never a good fighter), but his third got me just below the solar plexus, leaving me gasping for breath. Iris had, amazingly, scored a number of hits, that did not, however, seem to slow the assassin down. Hitting her wrists with his staff, he disarmed her and lifted her off the ground, in a stranglehold. She wheezed and gasped for air.

"Where are the disks?" the assassin asked in a bored drawl, tightening his grip.

"In her backpack!" I panted. "Take 'em! Just let her go!"

He twisted her around and I could see the contempt in her face. 'Coward!' she seemed to say. I didn't care. I just wanted us to get outta there. Alive, if possible.

The assassin delved into her backpack and took out the two source code disks. Then he threw Iris against the wall, and I heard her neck snap.

"NO!" I cried and I charged him head on, calling upon my power, wreathing myself in shadows. I should have known better, but at the time I was more than blind with rage.

His fist connected with my nose and I felt the bone break. My eyes filled with tears of pain, and my rush was brought to an abrupt halt. The next blow got me right above my ear, and stars exploded before my eyes. I expected to die, right then and there, and it might even have been some sort of relief, when a brilliant light flooded the corridor.

For a single frozen moment I could see his face. Black. Orange. Some sort of twisted yin-yang mask, with a single staring eye, in an orange background. Then, the explosion hit us and I fell to the floor.

I heard someone calling, as if from far away "You're going down, Slade!"

And then there was darkness. And silence