Chapter 37: A Devious Trap
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any DC characters of logos.
"I see you have come…" Slade replied in a shrewd tone, glaring up at the young sorceress as she dispersed her veil of magic. He cast an amused look at the new arrival and let out an eerie chortle. "To think that your powers are still strong… It is amazing that you managed to survive after a piece of your soul was ripped from its shell."
"You'll find that I'm full of surprises…" Raven interjected boldly.
Dick Grayson blinked in surprise at the sudden arrival of his friend, but she merely stepped in front of his injured form so that her blue robe shielded him from view. Raven showed no fear as she faced their longtime foe. Raising her right arm slowly, she moved her hand in a circular motion and muttered a series of short incantations under her breath. Her fingers glowed with a golden light, and less then a second later she condensed the magical energies and released them in the form of a rainbow-colored blast.
Although the attack was heading towards him, the unmasked villain raised his hand and seemed to catch the swirling energies like a ball. His opponents watched on in shock, but before either of them could comment, the magical sphere in his hand became engulfed in flame. Slade returned the attack with a vindictive smile, forcing the heroes to flee as the burning projectile incinerated the spot where they had been standing moments before.
"You'll find that I've also learned some new tricks since our earlier encounter aboard the Watch Tower." The villain replied.
Deathstroke held out his arms in a sinister manner as walls of flame danced around his body, the mark of Scath burning into his forehead. Even without the mask, his battle-scarred face was livid with a cold fury that very few people had ever seen in a human being, and as the two Titans stared into his eyes they saw nothing but death. The raging fires took the shape of a large bird, which seemed to advance on the opposition like a malevolent predator.
Raven pushed her teammate out of the way as the blast gravitated towards them, but she hovered out of range in order to avoid the towering inferno. Although she tried to outdistance the fiery wave, the attack continued to pursue her no matter how much higher they rose into the skies above Gotham City. Without any other option, she closed her eyes and pointed towards the fires and conjured a gargantuan wave of water from thin air with a wave of her hand.
The two elemental forces collided with a might crash, but knowing that Slade was using a fraction of her father's power hampered her confidence that it would work. She floated higher as the water from her summoning spell transformed into a cloud of steam, but from this height she noticed that the dark fire seemed to have stopped moving as well.
Using the temporary pause to his advantage, Nightwing bounded forward and nailed his opponent in the face with a powerful kick, but the enemy's body burst into flame on contact. His eyes widened in shock as the imposter vanished into the shadows, and recoiled in pain. The vigilante stomped out the fire that had spread to his foot, but was quickly caught off guard by the real Slade. The skilled assassin attempted to behead his younger adversary with a swing of his katana, but Raven foresaw his strategy from her aerial view and used a simple spell to push her friend out of the way.
"Thanks for that…" Nightwing called up to his friend. Striking a defensive pose, he turned around and faced Deathstroke again. "Let's finish this!"
The unmasked villain ran a hand through his messy gray hair. "Indeed we shall, but the even with her help the result will be the same. You seem to forget that the well being of your little alien friend is in my hands… A simple command from me is all it will take, and her life is forfeit…"
The young vigilante sneered in anger and prepared to charge at their opponent, but Raven landed in front of him before he could even draw his weapon. Reaching forward, the young sorceress placed a gentle hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him. She knew that any attempt he made to stop such a powerful enemy while driven by rage would only lead to his own death.
"I understand how you feel, but running into battle when you're not thinking clearly is something that you may not live to regret." She scolded.
"Move…" Nightwing replied venomously.
Raven shook her head. "I cast a tracking spell on everyone the last time we gathered together so we could find each other in an emergency. My magic indicates that Starfire is being held in this building, and I sent Beast Boy and Cyborg ahead to save her. The best thing you can do for her now is to focus on this fight, and trust in your friends…"
Hearing these words from someone like Raven seemed to calm his wrath for the moment, and after a moment's pause he turned back towards their mutual foe. He glanced back at his friend and seemed to thank her silently, to which she merely nodded, and together they prepared to resume the battle. Her hands ignited with magical energy and Nightwing hoisted his staff into the air in an aggressive manner.
Deathstroke watched them in amusement, but his gaze settled on the young sorceress for a moment. "You seem to have played this game very carefully, my dear. Judging from past experiences I anticipated that you fools would meddle in my plans. Unfortunately for you, I have already prepared for such variables…"
"How do I know you're not bluffing?" Nightwing narrowed his eyes dangerously.
"It doesn't matter if you believe me or not." The villain replied with a casual shrug. "Either way, you're friends are about to run into a trap…"
Beast Boy and Cyborg slunk through the shadows as they carefully infiltrated the interior of Gotham City's largest mall. Although the building had been closed for some time now, but somehow or another the green changeling knew that there was something strange about the building. While a fierce battle was waging atop the roof of the oversized shopping paradise, the former Titans had carefully followed Raven's instructions leading them to search the inside of the facility instead while she dealt with the opposing side.
The robotic hero walked ahead of his friend, glancing back and forth as they carefully observed their surroundings for any signs of an ambush. Both heroes knew that Slade was an intelligent man who's cunning and manipulative personality allowed him to create and deploy the most devious of traps with relative ease. While the place seemed relatively normal at first glance, neither of them could shake the feeling that something was amiss.
Raven's locator spells had tracked Starfire and Nightwing to this location, but so far there was no indication that the alien princess was anywhere inside or outside of the building. Furthermore they had yet to encounter another living soul, as if all of the security guards on duty that night had simultaneously neglected their duties. Aside from the battle that was taking place on the roof, the setting just seemed too quiet.
Beast Boy looked discomforting by the silence, and shivered slightly as he observed the darkened surroundings. "Yo dude…" he whispered, attempting to hamper his excited tone. "Do you find it strange that the alarm hasn't gone off yet? I also noticed that all the lights are off… Don't people usually leave the light on at night?"
"All the more proof that Starfire might be being held here…" the half robot answered in a resolute voice. Looking back at his best friend, Cyborg immediately noticed the skeptical expression on Beast Boy's face. He simply shrugged his shoulders before speaking again. "I know what you're thinking, but Slade's here then he might have brought Starfire with him."
"That doesn't sound like something he would do?" the younger hero replied, scratching is his head in emphasis.
His friend merely nodded. "Any other time I would probably agree with you, but I think he might have had his reasons…"
Beast Boy snorted in contempt. "Yeah, but what kind of criminal actually brings the hostage along?"
"Beats the heck outta me…" Cyborg replied, pressing a button on his arm. The metallic device beeped for a second, as his circuits accessed the Justice League's global positioning satellite.
"What are you doing?" the green hero asked, leaning forward to observe the small monitor on his friend's arm.
"Personal space dude…" The robotic superhero replied, shoving his friend backwards in an irritated manner. "I was just testing out my new invention."
"What is it?" the younger hero asked, taking another glance at the small screen on Cyborg's arm.
"DNA scanner." He answered, eying his curious friend. "It's a special scanner that I created using small sample of our genetic material."
The green changeling simply sighed in response. "Gee, and I thought Raven casting locator spells on us was an invasion of personal space."
"Don't go getting all freaky now… I just used a hair sample." Cyborg added impatiently. "The point is that Raven and I thought of the idea together, and we decided to make it so that we can find each other in an emergency. Great minds do think alike you know."
"Dude, we've been inside of Raven's mind before… I don't see how you can compare yourself with her. Unless you're some sort of monster and you didn't tell us." Beast boy added, quickly working to conceal a smirk that had formed on his face.
Cyborg simply hushed his friend with a quick shushing noise as his equipment began to flash. "Save the bad jokes for later… I just picked up Starfire's DNA signature coming from the basement."
"Then what're we waiting for… Let's get going already!" the shape shifter replied, transforming into a dog as he finished speaking.
The metallic superhero caught onto his friend's idea, watching in silence as the dog now standing a few yards away began sniffing the ground. After a few moments, the green canine's head sprang up like he had found the scent. Glancing back towards his friend, the shapeshifter jerked his head forward in a beckoning motion. Cyborg nodded in understanding, following after Beast Boy as the green shape shifter began running towards the source of the smell. The pair darted through the darkened mall, climbing up and down flights of unmoving escalators as they headed towards the basement of the facility.
Beast Boy remained silent as they found the door leading to the boiler room, shifting his dog body uncomfortably as he picked up a new scent. He let out a dull whimper as his friend headed towards the next room, quickly moving forward to intercept him. Transforming back into his human form, he shot his friend a warning look, holding his arm out to stop him from proceeding any further. The half metal hero moved as silently as he could so he understand what his friend was trying to tell him, but found the task unnecessary as his ears picked up the sound hushed voices coming from the next room.
The robotic hero leaned forward to see through the crack in the door, his eyes scanning what little bit of the room that he could see. After a moment, he caught sight of the room's occupant, but it was too late to do any good. A fist plunged through the door catching Cyborg off guard as it shattered the wood and connected with his face.
The blow sent him staggering backwards as wooden splinters scattered, but the metallic hero was smart enough to move away from the doorway before the enemy had a chance to strike him again. Cyborg leapt backwards and readied his energy cannon before turning to face his opponent, but the villain was the first to respond.
"Well, what have we here?" a familiar voice shouted from beyond the threshold. With one swift kick, the enemy sent remains of the door flying off its hinges.
The green-skinned hero took a defensive stance as the super villain stepped into the hall, his face engulfed in green flame. "Atomic Skull…" he sneered, taking a fighting a defensive stance as the skull-faced bad guy approached him.
"You looking for the orange chick?" the villain asked, crunching his fists together menacingly.
Cyborg imitated his opponent's gesture, his face contorting into a grimace. "Tell us where Starfire… We can do this the easy way or the hard way."
"You guys ain't in any position to be threatening me, considering that we got your little friend's life on the line." The enemy jeered with a snarl. "Deathstroke doesn't have any interest in the alien, he just wants to finish off your buddy on the roof. Maybe you can have what's left of you friends once the boss makes mincemeat out of Nightwing."
The green-skinned hero stepped forward aggressively, looking unusually feral. "Wrong answer…" he hissed.
Beast Boy took a step backwards to distance himself from his ally before transforming into a Triceratops seconds later. Letting out an angry snort, the three-horned dinosaur charged headfirst into Atomic Skull, sending the glowing villain hurtling through a wall with a gigantic crash that seemed to shake the very foundations of the shopping center.
The super villain landed headfirst into a fashion display in the clothing store beyond, but he made a quick recovery and retaliated by sending a blast of green fire at his two adversaries. Although the attack missed, Cyborg took advantage of the opening and fired his energy cannon.
"You missed me…" Atomic Skull shouted as the blast sailed over his left shoulder.
The half-robot merely smiled and calmly asserted. "I wasn't aiming for you, smart guy!"
The enemy wore a dumbstruck look, but the meaning of his adversary's words became apparent as he turned to find the course of a certain rumbling noise. He screamed in terror as the shelf behind him came crashing down, and let out a small cry of pain as the metal rack landed on top of him with a loud thud.
Seeing their opponent defeated, Beast Boy smashed through the wall with his great horns before transforming back to human form, his old teammate climbing through the hole in the wall after him seconds later. Once they were within sprinting range, the duo approached their battered enemy with caution.
"We hammered him pretty hard just now… The bad guy won't be able to answer our questions if he's not even conscious." the green changeling glanced at the large arm sticking out from beneath the wreckage.
Cyborg reached down and lifted the shelf off of his enemy and seized hold of his neck, looking thoroughly enraged. He positioned the man's skull-like visage so that they were face-to-face and sneered. "I'll ask you one more time… Where's Starfire?"
"You'd better start talking!" the green changeling added fiercely.
Despite their aggressive demeanor, the glowing baddie seemed relatively unfazed. Before either of the heroes could question him further, a thin shape emerged from the shadows. Atomic Skull seemed to sense the newcomer's presence and sprung back to life, freeing himself from his captor's robotic grip with a well-placed blast of green fire. The mechanical hero was singed by the oncoming blast and seemed relatively unharmed, but in the chaos he had lost sight of the enemy.
Beast Boy transformed into a dog in an attempt to track the villain's scent. He darted forward in an attempt to intercept the enemy, but was quickly caught off guard by kick to the head. Squealing in pain, the green dog writhed in pain for a moment before resuming human form, but while in dog form he had caught a second smell in the air and immediately returned to tell his friend the news.
"Oh man, who else is here?" he shouted frantically.
The robotic hero shrugged in confusion. "What are you talking about? The only other person I saw was Atomic Skull, and it looks like he's hiding now."
Beast Boy took another step so that they were standing back to back. "Just don't let your guard down yet. I had some trouble adjusting my caught another scent and then some jerk nailed me in head."
"Let me shed a little light onto the subject." Cyborg turned on his searchlights and quickly caught sight of their new attacker.
The former Titans gasped in shock as a skinny man with vibrant red hair and square glasses stepped out of the shadows. He wore a suit and carried a walking stick topped with a large red crystal. To their surprise, his confident smile and arrogant demeanor hadn't changed at all in the last five years. The two heroes glanced at each other for a second as the familiar foe approached them, his hands clapping in a mocking gesture.
Mad Mod twirled his walking stick like a baton before bringing the end to rest on the ground and smirked devilishly. "Ello me little snots…. Looks like you lot did some growing up while uncle Moddie was trapped in the clink."
The green changeling transformed into a cheetah and pounced ferociously, but the villain sidestepped him and smashed him over the head with the end of his cane. Planting the tip of his stick into the green jungle cat, he released a large blast of electricity into he victim's body. Beast Boy returned to human form and thrashed around violently even after his attacker removed the device from his body.
"A tiny stun gun less than an inch in size but still capable of releasing deadly amounts of electricity is what's built into the end of my walking stick." the psychedelic villain boasted.
"Frankly I don't give a hoot…" Cyborg released another shot from his energy cannon, forcing the villain to stop his assault. "Anyone dumb enough to go after my friends has to deal with me!"
Charging forward, he flailed his arms back and forth in an attempt to attack the false Englishman, but his hands sliced through thin air as the irritating villain weaved around his powerful strikes with relative ease. The robotic hero swept his leg underneath in an attempt to trip his fleeing adversary, but the enemy merely somersaulted into the air with an effortless flair to avoid the attack.
Mad Mod touched down gracefully moments later with an arrogant smirk. "Looks like you bratty little do-gooders are just as stupid as before. It's almost as if you haven't figured out that you fell into another one of me little traps."
The half-robot shifted his feet nervously as he remembered all of the crazy things that this man had done in the past. An injured Beast Boy morphed into a bird and landed a safe distance away before returning to his normal form. The former Titans glared heatedly at their old enemy, but the British impersonator merely grinned eagerly in response to their hostile expressions. With a cheerful grin, the psychedelic bad guy pushed the button on the top of his walking stick several times, causing several things to happen at once.
In less than an instant the light in the store flashed on, blinding his victims for a brief moment. Using his robotic eye to enhance his vision it only took Cyborg a matter of seconds to recover, but his teammate shielded his eyes at the sudden change of lighting. The green shape shifter lost his footing and landed in the arms of an unseen assailant, but before he could escape the arms closed around his torso and did not let go.
Atomic Skull let out an angry growl as he tightened his grip on the green shape shifter's neck. "Don't try anything stupid unless you wanna get blown to smithereens."
Beast Boy tried to escape, but found his captor to be exceedingly strong. "Hey buddy, I could use a little help here." He shouted for help.
Cyborg turned to aid him, but before he could even take one step, several display mannequins came to life and crowded around him. "Sorry BB, but it looks like I've got some troubles of my own." He apologized.
Switching his focus the half-robot began to smite the oncoming automatons with his energy blaster, but found himself fighting a losing battle as their numbers increased. The cyber robotic mannequins began pouring in from display stands, windows, and dressing rooms, jumping out from behind racks as if they were being called from all corners of the store. Advancing on the heroes like jackals to their prey, several more emerged piled onto the backs of their targets, their synthetic arms tugging and clawing from all sides. The robotic hero exchanged a knowing glance and Beast Boy sensed that his friend had a plan and decided not to act right away.
Once both for them were pinned to the floor, Mad Mod let out a laugh of triumph. "Well my duckies, it looks like you lot just got into some sticky wickets. Care to share some thoughts on me newest toys?"
Cyborg groaned from beneath his mechanical captors. "Making an entire army of robots, disguising them as store mannequins, and then stationing them here to catch us… You really must have a lot of time on your hands."
"Yeah dude, you seriously need an new hobby." The green-skinned hero added in through a chokehold.
"British engineering… Best in the world, wouldn't you lads agree?" Mad Mod cracked his knuckles lazily before turned to face his captives. "Of course I can't take all the credit, since dear old Deathstroke was kind enough to provide me with the technology necessary to set this whole thing up."
The robotic hero did not struggle as the power meter on his arm rose, indicating that he was trying to reach full strength before trying to counterattack against such a large number of foes, but he had one more motive in mind. If he could keep the bad guys thinking that they had won, maybe he could find out more about what else was going on.
As if on cue, Mad Mod approached Cyborg bent over so that they were face-to-face, but the half-metal hero merely growled. "Now why so glum, my duckies? The fun's just beginning…"
The false Englishman struck a thinking pose for a moment before snapping his fingers as if he had just remembered something vastly important. "We wouldn't want the lass to miss out on this." Mad Mod pressed the button on his staff again, causing a platform to rise out of the floor through a trap door. A metal chair was bolted to the surface of the object, and bound and gagged atop the seat was Starfire.
"The lass was a strong one, but I doubt that even her alien strength can break through this heat-treated alloy." The psychedelic bad guy tapped the binds on her wrists with the tip of his walking stick in emphasis and smiled as his captive struggled against her binds.
Although she was unable to speak due to the gag in her mouth, the alien princess glared at him and shouted a muffled jumble of curse words in her native tongue. Her reaction elicited an amused smile from her captor. "What's wrong, my pet?" he leaned forward and placed a hand of his ear in a mocking gesture. "It's improper for a lady to talk with her bloody mouth full… Perhaps you should speak up."
With great difficulty, the Tamaranean opened her throat and swallowed the spherical gag in her mouth. She cringed slightly as the ball hit the pit of one of her stomachs like a rock, but did her best to ignore the pain. "You are a terrible person to hold us here while our friends are in trouble! You will pay…"
Starfire struggled against her binds for brief moment and attempted to discharge her star bolts, but the shackles seemed to prevent her from releasing them, forcing her to abandon her attempt. Seconds later her eyes glowed bright green and she fixated her gaze on the villain, firing off a pair of energy beams from her pupils seconds later. The false Englishman bent backwards to avoid the attack and let out a cry of outrage as her energy blasts burned holes through the wall behind him.
"You will do no more harm to my friends!" Starfire shouted as she fired off another series of blasts from her eyes.
"Oy, you rotten little snot! You'll regret that… Then again, it might prove more effective if I discipline your best mates instead. With nasty sneer, the psychedelic villain pressed the button on his staff again. "Why not start with the metal head?"
Driven by his will, his cyber robotic minions began to crush Cyborg under their full weight. Mad Mod flipped into the air and landed beside him in order to finish the job personally. Turning a dial on the side of his weapon, the villain relished the opportunity to put an end to his old enemies once and for all. Slade claimed Nightwing as his own opponent, but specifically gave him the orders to kill the others if necessary.
Without warning he positioned the end of his staff inches from Cyborg's face. "I adjusted my stun gun to emit deadly electrical shocks, and I doubt even this oversized tin soldier is tough enough to survive."
Cyborg turned his attention towards the others and decided that now was the best time to act. "Beast Boy…LET'S ROCK!"
The villain lowered his staff to deliver the finishing blast, but the metallic hero had no intention of allowing it. Having taken the last minute or to fully charge his systems, Cyborg sprang back to life while releasing his full power, sending the robotic henchmen flying everywhere. Seizing one of the living dolls by the waist, he tossed the mannequin at Mad Mod, forcing the villain to dodge yet again.
"Hiyah!" Beast Boy let out a fierce battle cry before transforming into a Tyrannosaurus rex.
His enemy was caught off guard by the sudden change and attempted to flee, but was caught unaware by the dinosaur's thrashing tail. With a cry of pain, he succumbed to the strike and went sailing into a nearby display rack. Once his enemy was flattened, the green-skinned hero changed into a bird and fled the scene as his opponent began to pursue him.
"What's all this then?" the British villain screamed.
Cyborg plowed his way through several more living mannequins using raw strength. "It's called playing possum! Maybe you should have shut up and finished us off when you had the chance instead of wasting so much time talking about it."
Mad Mod glared at his opponent, but was suddenly bombarded by several energy blasts before he could contemplate his next move. Raising his staff, he pressed the button again, which quickly summoned three of his robotic sentinels to block the assault. The explosions created a bank of smoke, and amidst the chaos Cyborg took advantage of the ensuing conditions. He charged through the smog and shoulder-rammed the smaller man with the force of a raging bulldozer.
The psychedelic villain crumpled under the force of the strike as his opponent shoved him into a nearby wall, crushing him under his superior weight as he became sandwiched between Cyborg and the offending wall. The former Titan stepped away from the wall with a satisfied smirk, allowing his enemy to fall limply to the ground. Despite his injuries, the ragged villain leapt to his feet with surprising vigor.
"I'll get you little pests for this!" Mad Mod instinctively tried to press the button on the top of his walking stick, but his eyes widened in dear as he realized that the object was no longer in his hand.
Cyborg wore a confident expression on his face as he held out the villain's staff. Grasping the source of their troubles in two hands, he snapped the device in half and crushed the remains underneath his foot. "Game over…"
No sooner had he said this, that several of the remaining mannequins toppled lifelessly onto the ground. Without the remote control provided by the system inside his walking stick, all of Mad Mod's computerized inventions began to short-circuit and deactivate. The villain glanced around wildly as his creations failed, his look of worry growing by the minute.
The heavy shackles binding Starfire's limbs gave off a series of bright sparks before cracking open and dropping to the floor with a loud thud, allowing her to get free of her wretched confinement. After rubbing her wrists gently, the alien princess darted forward with amazing agility and punched her former jailer in the face, knocking the false Englishman out with one hit. He fell down with a cry of pain and fainted straightaway, but she did not even spare him a second glance.
"I thank you for coming to save me, yet I am ashamed to have allowed myself to be captured." The alien girl bowed her head in shame. "It pains me to know that they used me as bait in order to lure Nightwing into a trap."
Cyborg placed a hand on her shoulder and shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Star…"
Starfire glanced over at her half-robot friend, and they both seemed to sigh in relief. "The terrible noises coming from the roof indicate that our friends are currently engaging Slade in battle. He is much stronger than before… Nightwing and Raven are surely in trouble and may require our assistance."
"That was pretty much what I was about to say, but first we need to find Beast Boy." He replied in a businesslike tone.
She nodded quickly. "I saw him fighting the strange glowing man during your battle."
Before either of them could say anything else, a green-furred gorilla entered the scene carrying Atomic Skull's unconscious form under his arm. After a brief pause, the animal tossed his load aside like a bag of garbage and returned to human form. Once he was within a few yards of the others, he brushed his hands together and cracked his knuckles.
Beast Boy cast an unusually thoughtful glance towards his companions. "I'm just as psyched to deal with Slade as the rest of you guys, but is it really a good idea for us to leave the other bad guys just lying here."
The trio cast disgusted glances at the unconscious villains lying on the floor, and seemed to consider the options for the moment. Taking them back to the Watch Tower would take some time they didn't have, and even if only one member of their team took care of the job, their ranks would be thinned in the upcoming clash. With his newfound power, the masked crime lord had become so strong that even several of the Justice League's founding members had struggled against him during recent encounters.
After a short silence, Cyborg was the first to recover. "I think that we oughta focus on the bigger problem right now. The most important thing to do is rescue our friends and stop Slade while we have the chance, and to do that it'll probably take all of us."
Starfire nodded in agreement. "Yes, that does seem most logical considering that Raven was terribly weakened in her last battle with the Morgaine Le Fey, and the two of you have been exhausted by this recent ordeal."
The green changeling seemed to consider her for a moment before answering. "I agree with Cyborg this time. Don't worry about us… We'll handle this mess like we always do!"
Note to Readers: All right… I took almost a year to get back to this story, but I took that time to work on another one. I figured since this one is ready for me to wrap up, I might as well put it to rest so that I can say that I finished it at any rate. I think I have the general ideas in mind to do it, so here's hoping that I can finally put this old story to rest.
I doubt anyone who originally read this cares after so long, but maybe some other viewers might enjoy it. Sorry for any errors I made, but it was late when I wrote this chapter.