Chapter 1: "Marshaling of Forces"
Disclaimer: The majority of the characters that will appear in this do not belong to me; they belong to DC Comics as people in the employ of DC Comics created them for and licensed them to DC Comics. I make no monetary profit whatsoever.
Author's note: This is going to be more than a simple "next-generation" story. It's going to take a look at legacies, because – face it – DC Comics characters, heroic or villainous, are based in legacies. Although DC editorial will never let it happen, the fact remains that many characters in the DCU cannot remain in their current roles forever. Eventually, they will have to move up or move on and thus this story is going to look at the future of the DCU through the eyes of the younger generations, who have grown into their own and are now preparing to take the reins from their predecessors.
If you notice that there are things that seem different from the mainstream DC Universe, we'll just say that this is the reality that exists between New Earth-1 and New Earth-2; New Earth-1.5 in other words. Now, let's get this party started.
A grayish humanoid figure that looked like a partly melted clay statue stood in a dimly lit room. By sheer force of will, he forced himself into a human shape, resembling a black-haired teenager. He'd modeled this particular look after the male Robins, who had all been black-haired teenagers. However, he'd had the current Robin in mind when coming up with specific facial features. He'd had to wing it on the eyes, though; all the Robins wore domino masks with whiteout lenses, preventing onlookers from seeing their eyes.
It was a kind of obsession that had driven him to model his human form after Robin. They were both heirs to a legacy; Robin to the legacy of the Batman, he to the legacy of Clayface. He'd inherited the power from his parents, who had both been previous incarnations of Clayface, but his powers evolved somewhat differently. He had to admit, it came with perks, such as the ability to pretend – very convincingly – that he was anyone he wanted to be.
He'd gotten an invitation, passed down by a shadowy figure who had been gone before he could get a good look at him (or her; his night vision wasn't good enough to tell gender). The invitation was the very reason he was here, here in this abandoned fort. To his left, he heard a whirr of power, a whirr substantiated by warping air. The warping air began to glow, the glow taking the shape of a human female. The glow substantiated itself further as a lavender-haired girl in a royal purple armored bustier with sharp silver W-shaped double bars designed to resemble an eagle taking flight and a silver belt holding up skintight royal purple pants. Silver boots encased her feet and calves, silver bracelets encased her wrists, and a silver tiara with a purple bursting star in the center rested on her head.
"Who are you?" Clayface asked.
"Lyta," the girl styled like some kind of "Dark Wonder Woman" replied.
"You look like you ought to be called Wonder Girl." Clayface smirked in amusement.
"Clay infused with life. Just like her." Lyta had an expression equal parts amusement and disgust.
"Don't start squabbling now," a new voice hissed, prompting both teens to turn and behold a black-clad teenage boy. His attire was a form-fitting black suit with guards in the wrists and a red dragon print wrapping around the left arm. He held a plain bow, along with a plain quiver filled with plain arrows. His face was partly concealed by a mask that covered the lower half of his face, leaving everything from his eyes and upward exposed.
"And you might be?" Lyta asked.
"Oni," the archer replied coldly.
"Did you give me that invitation?" Clayface asked.
"No, I received one myself," Oni replied.
"If it wasn't you, who was it?" Clayface inquired.
"We'll see soon enough," Oni answered.
Just then, it suddenly became drafty inside the fort. Lyta briefly sniffed the air and smirked. "Runners."
The draftiness stopped, signaling only that the source of it had stopped. Actually, there were two sources, a boy and a girl. The boy was of average height for his age and blond, his eyes covered by orange goggles and his body encased in skintight black with lightning-edged green running down the middle. The girl was slightly taller and fiery-haired, her body sheathed in form-fitting indigo with silver lightning crisscrossing the legs and meeting in an arc on her chest. An indigo lightning tattoo rested beneath her left eye.
"Inertia. Savitrix." Lyta nodded to the two of them.
Savitrix smiled pleasantly enough, but there was poison in that smile. Inertia simply scowled.
"You have any idea who brought us here?" Clayface asked.
"I may have an indication," Savitrix replied liltingly.
Clayface roared and shifted his arm into its true clay form, extending it violently toward Savitrix. Her answer to that was simply to reach back and plunge her hand through his arm at super-speed, ripping it in half until the torn halves hung uselessly from his shoulder. Clayface regenerated the arm, groaning in pain. "You bitch."
"A bitch, am I?" Savitrix asked. "So I am, but don't think you can try that again and live. Actually, it's quite useless; you might as well be molasses compared to me."
"Much as I don't agree with Clayface's actions, I want to know who invited us, or I'm just going to go home," Lyta pouted.
"Don't be a brat," Inertia sneered.
"Who are you calling a brat, you little punk?!" Lyta asked indignantly.
"You," Inertia answered coldly.
Magical energy crackled in Lyta's hands, the daughter of Circe and Ares being perfectly ready to use it on the dark speedster. Said dark speedster was calculating how to dodge the blast that would be coming in his immediate future and retaliate against Lyta.
"Enough," a mechanical-sounding female voice spoke.
The five already present turned to meet the speaker, a girl in form-fitting black nano-weave with a mask that was black on the right side and light blue on the left. Whiteout lenses stared out from both sides of the masks, while light blue mesh-weave covered her arms from the shoulders down. A sheathed katana rested behind her hip and utility cuffs wrapped around her wrists and beneath her knees. The utility cuffs came attached to black gloves with light blue fingers and black boots with bluish-silver steel toes.
"Who are you supposed to be, Lady Deathstroke?" Inertia asked mockingly.
"Deathstroke is the one who sent me," the girl replied. "He is the one who called you all here. Be patient and he will arrive."
"You shouldn't have given it away so soon," Savitrix pouted lightly.
"Anyone else, or is it just us?" Clayface asked.
"Two more," the masked girl replied.
It didn't take long for the final two to show themselves. One was a pale young man in black stylized archer gear. A high-tech compound bow rested at his hip, along with a more conventional firearm strapped to his left thigh. His hair was pitch black, a striking contrast with the paleness of his skin. His stare was cold, analyzing everyone with it. The other . . .
The other was a teenage girl in a black short jacket with an upside-down silver pentagon buckle that had the letter "U" engraved on it. Under that jacket she wore a black bikini top and black leather short shorts. Black laced-up knee-high boots encased her feet and calves. The skin that was exposed by her outfit – and there was plenty – was smooth and her exposed stomach was highly toned. Her long black hair was tied in a ponytail.
"Quincy, Ultrawoman," the masked girl greeted. "Nice to see you managed to make it."
Quincy nodded, while Ultrawoman spoke. "Whatever. Now, what the hell are we here for?"
"You're here because I asked you here," a menacing purr of a voice answered.
The eight teens looked around and saw the man who had brought them all together. He stood six feet four inches tall, although his sheer menacing presence made him seem even taller. He was garbed in black with bluish-silver mesh-weave extending from slightly below his shoulders and wrapping around his muscular abdomen. Orange gloves, buccaneer boots, and belt added to the ensemble and a bisected black-and-orange mask with a singular lens on the left (orange) side completed it. A sword was sheathed on his back and a bandolier full of rifle shells wrapped around his torso. The accompanying rifle was strapped to his hip, although it did not seem to impede his movement at all.
"Deathstroke," Inertia greeted tersely. "You've changed your look."
"You haven't," Deathstroke replied. "But then again, you've spent the past decade in Speed Force stasis. Shouldn't have underestimated the love a certain Mr. Allen enjoyed from his fellow heroes, particularly the speedsters, such as it was."
Inertia growled, but he knew better than to do more than that. Attacking Deathstroke would get him nowhere but in the same condition that had prompted the late Bart Allen's shift from Impulse to Kid Flash. Besides, it was Deathstroke's agent Savitrix that had freed him, forcing his system into overdrive to shock him back to normal and recharging his connection to the Speed Force.
"Anyway, you were all called here for a simple task," Deathstroke answered. "You are all the heirs to the legacies of the antagonists of those who call themselves 'heroes.' Cassius, you are Clayface, as were your parents before you; Quincy, you were trained by Merlyn; Oni, you and the current Black Canary have a shared paternal link; Lyta, you possess power on the order of a goddess, power enough to challenge Wonder Woman herself as your mother and father did before you. Inertia, you are the reverse of every heroic trait possessed by those who called themselves the Flash; Savitrix, you aim to take up where Savitar left off; Ultrawoman, you are the heir to Ultraman and the perfect foe for the latest Superboy."
"What about Little Miss Terminator?" Clayface asked mockingly.
"Executrix," Deathstroke corrected. "That is what she is called. And she is the heir to my legacy."
"Blah, blah, $#&) blah," Ultrawoman sneered. "What are we here for, old man?!"
Deathstroke clucked his tongue. "Such an impatient, rude little girl you are. But with an upbringing like yours I should expect that. You do have a point, though; you do deserve to know what you're here for. You're here . . . to teach the older generation of 'heroes' what it means to not be able to see their children grow up as they intended, because they won't be able to grow up at all."
Inertia smirked cruelly. "A plan I can get behind. I wonder how West's brats are doing, anyway. I haven't gotten the chance to meet them yet."
Beneath the city, two teenage girls walked down the stairway into a cavern that had been revamped into a high-tech fortress. The fortress was a coming-of-age present of sorts to the girls, to aid them in crime-fighting and assembling a team for that purpose. The technology in the fortress was a combination and advancement of technology culled from Batman, Superman, and generations of Justice Leagues and Titans. Put together, it gave the girls access to information hubs all over the world and enabled transport to just about any place within the country. (They were still working on transnational transportation, but the girls had been told that they'd get there.)
Who were these two girls, anyway, that they could have such technology commissioned for them by the greatest heroes on the planet? Only the daughters of two founding Titans who themselves had gone on to the Justice League, becoming leaders there as opposed to the rookies they'd been when they started. Their names were Lian Harper, the markswoman feared by the criminal underworld as Red Hood; and Mar'i Grayson, whose fire shone in the night sky like a star going nova, hence the name she took in battle: Nightstar.
Lian was a slip of a girl, only five feet six inches and built like a feline, all lean muscle and slender grace. She wore a costume that was largely black with red trim down the middle and sides, with red archer's gauntlets and a hooded red mantle. She was wearing her hood down, exposing curly red hair; it was naturally black, but she'd started dyeing it in her adolescence. Her eyes, on the other hand, were covered by red-tinted sunglasses, the lenses of which were specially designed with various visual enhancements. Her lips were slightly upturned, as though in an almost-smile of mischief.
Mar'i, on the other hand, was tall, quite tall. Specifically, she was six feet three inches – only an inch shy of her late mother Starfire – and built much the same way as her late mother, voluptuous curves and hard muscle combined into one tantalizing golden bronze form. Her hair cascaded down her back and to her knees in glossy waves of ebony. A low-cut black leotard with a translucent purple wing symbol forming the neckline clung to her torso and black boots encased her feet and calves. Pupil-less and iris-less green eyes stared out intensely from beneath a delicately structured and classically beautiful face.
"Your dad always said he'd get you a Batcave of your own someday," Mar'i remarked.
"Our own," Lian amended. "Your dad helped out, too."
"I suppose that's his way of saying sorry."
"He was going through a tough time. After what happened to Aunt Kory . . ."
"I know." Mar'i looked down sadly. "I know."
Lian reached up to plant a hand on the older girl's shoulder. "At least you had a mother you could be proud of."
Mar'i looked at Lian. "At least yours is still around."
Lian's slightly quirked lips turned up more fully in a smile. "Enough of the pity party. Least our dads are still around, and they've got more than enough love for both of us."
"When're the rest of them going to show up?" Mar'i asked.
"They should be getting here soon," Lian replied. "And it's not easy; they're coming from all over. One of them doesn't even live on land at all."
The first to arrive was Olivia Queen, inheritor of her mother's titles of "Black Canary" and "Blonde Bombshell." She was the spitting image of her mother in her youth, except for the fact that she was seventeen years old. She wore a black leather jacket with ridged armor on the shoulders over what looked like a sleeveless black leather leotard with fishnets.
"Hey there, Jailbait Canary," Lian greeted slyly.
Olivia glared at Lian, though there was no anger or malice in the glare. "Shut up, Little Red Riding Hood."
Mar'i snickered slightly; the banter between Lian and her "little cousin" was always amusing to see. Truthfully, Olivia wasn't so little, but that was just what happened when a symbiotic biomechanical weapon merged with a girl who should only be seven or eight. Said weapon, dubbed Excalibur by those who had forced it upon her, had accelerated Olivia's physical and mental development to a point in her teens. Despite that, Olivia still sometimes acted like the child she was supposed to be.
"Mar'i!" Olivia squealed, hugging the Tamaranean hybrid. Mar'i smiled and hugged Olivia back. When Olivia had still been physically a child, she had become rather attached to Mar'i – who babysat her frequently – and that attachment had increased since her forced aging. After all, as Olivia reasoned, she was now old enough to do "big girl" stuff with Mar'i.
"No hug for me?" Lian asked, arching an eyebrow.
Olivia gently released Mar'i and turned to Lian. "You get one, too, Little Red Riding Hood." The next thing Lian knew, she was caught in Olivia's embrace. "By the way, where's your boyfriend?"
"He's too old for you," Lian answered.
"And you're too old for him," Olivia retorted gently.
"She's too old for whom?" a familiar young man's voice questioned. The three girls turned and spotted a fourteen-year-old boy dressed in a black wetsuit with navy highlights down the arms and legs. His hair was black and hung in his eyes as though wet, which it probably was, given where he usually spent his time. Purple eyes gazed out of a soft face with gentle, slightly feminine features.
"I'm too old for no one," Lian answered, gently sliding out of Olivia's hug. "Not even you, Cerdian."
"Don't tell my mother that," Cerdian answered, smiling slyly. "You'd destroy the one flimsy excuse she has for not wanting me to be with you."
Mar'i groaned. "You're corrupting him, aren't you, Lian?"
Lian grinned shamelessly. "That's the fun part of a relationship with a younger man. Teaching him, molding him, shaping him . . ."
"I love you, too," Cerdian piped up with a tongue-in-cheek grin belying the sincerity in his eyes.
"I know, Ian," Lian answered.
"How'd you get here?" Mar'i asked. "Thought your mother would kill you if you came here."
"It's not that bad," Cerdian replied. "She wouldn't lay a finger on her 'precious little mage,' but the rest of you are another story." He chuckled briefly. "Anyway, all I really did was crack open a trans-dimensional portal when she wasn't looking." He whistled briefly. "Nice cave."
"Thanks," Lian replied. "We're going to christen it later."
"Uh, by 'we' do you mean 'you and I,' or 'you, Mar'i, Olivia, and I'?" Cerdian asked, genuinely puzzled.
Lian looked at him briefly and saw that he genuinely was confused. "Still such an innocent. Or would you like it if Mar'i and Olivia got in on our fun?"
Cerdian blushed. "Um . . . uh . . ."
Lian laughed. "Never mind."
There was a sudden gust and then it stopped, revealing a redheaded young woman and a black-haired teenage boy. The young woman was dressed in skintight red with lightning-like silver lines forming a makeshift stripe and wore lightning-stemmed silver goggle-like glasses over her eyes. The boy was dressed in skintight silver and black, the black being a stripe down the middle of his uniform and framed in lightning-like red. He wore black gloves and boots with two thick buckles on each one and a black open-head cowl with goggle-like silver lenses and lightning-winged ear caps.
"Hey, Iris, Jai," Mar'i greeted.
"Hey yourself, babe," Jai answered, clicking his tongue coolly at her.
Mar'i giggled. "Thanks."
"Don't mind my brother," Iris said. "He's being an idiot right now, but that's nothing unusual."
Iris and Jai West were the twin children of Wally West, the original Kid Flash and the third man to call himself the Flash. The connection to the Speed Force they'd inherited from their father had caused them to age at an accelerated rate, much like their cousin Bart Allen had. Like with Bart, Wally had finally managed to find a way to stabilize their growth, but when he had, Iris had become physically 10 and Jai had become physically 8. Their powers had also evolved differently; still based in acceleration but not necessarily in running.
Cerdian was the son of founding Titan Garth of Atlantis, originally known as Aqualad and currently known as Tempest, and the aquatic metahuman Dolphin. As taught by Garth himself, Cerdian was an accomplished sorcerer for someone of his age. Plus, there was just something about him that had never quite lost its innocence. Granted, there was plenty of time for that to change, but nobody was counting on that. Not seriously.
"What have you guys been up to?" Mar'i asked.
"Kicking ass," Jai replied. "It's like bad guys are jumping up just to get knocked down."
"The new Rogues giving you any trouble?" Lian asked.
"Not really," Iris replied. "Not as much as they would have before the old ones killed Bart. Ever since, every crime-fighter in the country has wanted a piece of the Rogues, not just us."
Mar'i and Lian looked downcast. They had both known Bart, been babysat by Bart. He had been a constant bright spot in their lives and when he was snuffed out like that . . . something in them both had died when they found out. Ever since then, their world had been just a little less joyful, a little darker and bleaker. It had been the Rogues that did that to them, that did that to everyone who had ever known and loved Bart. No wonder, then, that the Rogues were so hated.
The pallor was soon broken by the sound of footsteps coming down the stairway to the cave. The six youths looked to the stairway to see two young men coming to join them. The one in the lead was a dark-haired boy in short-sleeved black with a red stripe extending from a vaguely birdlike golden symbol across his chest. A black cape with feather-like scallops covered his shoulders and a vaguely birdlike domino mask covered his eyes. The one following was a brown-haired boy wearing a red coat held on by an S-shield buckle over a skintight blue suit.
The two young men were Damien Wayne and Chris Kent, the latest to take the names of Robin and Superboy. Damien, the bastard son (quite literally) of the deceased original Batman and heir to the legacies of both Robin and Batman, gazed down at his fellow young heroes with his customary steely expression. Chris, the adopted son of Superman and the biological son of the would-be Kryptonian dictator known as General Zod, looked over Damien's shoulder – easily done since he was taller than Damien – and smiled at his fellows.
"What are we here for?" Damien asked, cutting to the chase.
"Damien," Lian answered. "Still a rude little punk. Didn't your father teach you any manners?"
"I don't have a father," Damien snapped.
"Lian, give it a rest," Mar'i said.
Lian let out an irritated breath. "I don't see why you're defending him."
"Because I understand what he's been through," Mar'i answered. "What he's still going through."
"Your sympathy is quite touching," Damien sneered. "Now what the f#$ are we here for?"
"One thing I always liked about you, Dame," Iris remarked. "You get straight to the point."
"We're re-forming the Titans," Lian said.
"The Titans?" Chris echoed.
"Yes," Lian confirmed.
"Why a cave?" Jai asked. "What about the big T-Tower?"
"Too obvious," Mar'i replied. "It'd be an open invitation to our enemies. A cave is better for what we have in mind."
"And what do you have in mind?" Iris inquired.
"There are times . . . when we don't want to be with our parents," Lian answered. "When we just wanna be with people our own age. Not just people our own age, but people our own age who understand what we're going through."
"Sounds all right," Cerdian said. "Besides . . ." He looked at Lian. "I missed you."
"I missed you, too, Ian," Lian responded.
Chris gently placed a hand on Damien's shoulder. To the surprise of anyone who didn't know Damien all that well, Damien didn't shrug Chris's shoulder off. "You envy them, don't you?"
"Would I have to kill you if I said 'yes'?"
Chris chuckled. "That's why Uncle Dick keeps the Kryptonite, doesn't he?"
Damien rolled his eyes beneath the mask. "Don't joke about that."
"You might need it someday," Chris insisted, completely serious this time. "In case . . ."
"It won't come to that," Damien whispered. "I won't let it."
"You two look cozy," Lian remarked, looking at Chris and Damien out of the corner of her eye.
"Shut up," Damien snarled.
"You first," Lian retorted.
"Do you two have to pointlessly antagonize each other?" Jai asked. "Someone who watched too many romantic comedies would be convinced you secretly wanted to shag."
"Me? With him?" Lian asked derisively. "That'll be the day."
"Like I'd touch you with a ten-foot pole," Damien added.
"Just saying . . ." Jai remarked nonchalantly.
"If you don't want him, I'll take him . . ." Olivia purred, black-painted lips curled in a wicked smile. A slightly evil chortle escaped those lips.
Mar'i stared at Olivia, almost as though she could burn a hole through the blonde. "Jealous?" Iris whispered, having sidled over to the much taller girl.
"Yeah," Mar'i admitted.
"Why don't you go for him?" Iris questioned. "Or do you think Chris is better for him?"
Mar'i raised a slim black eyebrow at Iris. "Huh?"
"Just saying . . ." Iris answered.
"You sound like Jai," Mar'i mused.
Iris groaned. "Aw, man . . ."
Mar'i laughed. "It's ok. Jai isn't such a bad guy."
"Easy for you to say," Iris grumbled. "You don't live with him."
Just then, the two young women heard Jai shout, "I heard that! And by the way, I'm not the one who leaves their toenail clippings all over the table!"
Iris growled. "Hey! I thought we weren't going to talk about that!"
Lian snickered slightly. "You two are funny."
End Notes: That's the first chapter of Titans: Legacies. The second chapter will be coming soon enough, and that's where the new Titans go up against Deathstroke's new team. In the meantime, you will also see the new Titans' civilian lives and such and you will see what it means for each of these characters to take on a legacy. At some point, you'll also see why Mar'i and Damien are so close, the origins of Damien and Lian's animosity, the beginnings of Chris and Damien's friendship, how Olivia got to her current physical age, and more. In the meantime, let me know what you think of this first installment.