Teen Titans is a registered trademark of DC Comics and Cartoon Network Inc. All trademarked characters, locations, themes and ideas are used without permission in a work of fan-created fiction. The following has been done without profit for purely entertainment purposes. All original concepts, characters, themes and ideas within are the copyrighted property of the author, and are not to be reproduced without his prior consent. Additional information used in creating Teen Titans: Adaptation is courtesy of Titans Tower Online.
Prologue: A Cry in the Dark
The tide around the island broke as a mechanical giant rose from the crashing waves and staggered onto the beach. Its body gleamed wet in the sunlight. Seaweed clung to its broad shoulders and massive feet, dragging spiral patterns in the sand as the giant lurched beyond the waters' edge and fell to its knees. Its shoulders heaved with breath that never left the grille set below its broad, fearsome visor.
Crouched over, the creature still stood tall. Its body was composed of pristine armor molded into a shape that mimicked a human form, if such a human happened to possess the brawn of a gorilla. Light blue trim decorated the giant's edges and frilled its helmet-like head, which swiveled around to take in its surroundings.
The island itself stood abandoned. Its only structure occupied the center of the island, high above the beach on a bluff covered in red rock and scrub grass. The metal giant gazed up at the structure—a tower, perhaps the oddest ever built—and felt a twinge of nostalgia.
That bizarre building, designed to resemble a tremendous "T" that could be seen across the bay, had been the only home the giant had ever known. Once the tower had been a gleaming monument to justice. No longer. It sat at a slight angle, its windows jagged and gaping, its steel skeleton warped by explosive heat. Forgotten scaffolding wrapped around the base of the tower, unused. Repairs to the tower had been abandoned in favor of more important business.
The metal giant took one more tinny breath. Then it coiled against the wet sand and leapt. The cliff face whistled past its visor scowl as it jumped to the top of the bluffs and landed in one clumsy motion. It turned its stumble into a run that carried it toward the tower's base.
Absently, the giant reached for something at its waist. Alloy scraped against alloy as it grasped at nothing. The giant slowed. It shook its head with chagrin. Then it stopped, and lowered its head in concentration.
The intricate blue trim of its armor snapped open and separated, taking with it metal muscles that deconstructed further into base components. Circuitry, freshly exposed, slithered with interconnected pieces toward a glowing blue-white light emanating from within the giant's metal skin. The armored giant collapsed into its own back, allowing the girl inside it to fall to the ground. The light swallowed itself into the skin bared low on her back.
She was small, and terribly thin, as evident by the ribs jutting from her open-backed bodysuit. Her hair clung to her head like a greasy black cap, framing her pinched face. Her cheeks flushed and her eyes darted about as she checked and checked again her surroundings. When no hidden assailant struck her down, she again reached to her waist. This time, with no armor impeding her, she plucked a canary yellow communicator from the belt of her suit and snapped it open.
"Calling all Titans," she said hurriedly, resuming her run toward the Tower. "This is Tek. I'm at the Tower and I need help." She paused in thought, though not in step, and then said, "I guess I'm calling for other honorary Titans, too, since the real Titans…I mean, the regular Titans...
She reached the massive doors of the Tower. They had been left closed, but were damaged from the explosion that had torn the Titans' home asunder from the inside. Tek squeezed into a gap in the warped metal, keeping her communicator open and active as she rambled, "Let me try that again. I'm an honorary Titan too. Or, I was. See, I was living on the street when the Titans found me. Actually, it wasn't the Titans, it was this other group of heroes that found me. They're really nice. But they couldn't help me, so the Titans took me in. They said they could help me with my…problem."
Her skin tore on a sharp edge of the broken door as she squeezed through, leaving behind a scrap of blue and a splash of red. She hissed and clutched her arm, and ran into the cavernous entrance of the Tower. Char and debris littered the room, crunching underfoot, slowing her steps lest her feet skitter out from under her. She picked her way over the floor and to the hall, where the light of day could not reach.
Biting her lip at the inky darkness in the hall, she began patting down her belt with her free hand. Into the communicator, she continued, "It's not a bad problem. It's just that I lose control sometimes, and my armor—I have this armor that comes out of my back, see, and sometimes…
She snapped her communicator closed and rapped it against her forehead, crushing shut her eyes. "Get a grip, alley girl," she muttered to herself.
Her wandering hand found a small penlight in her suit's pockets. She snapped it on and aimed it into the pitch. More of the same charred floor and emptiness awaited her, but at least she could see it now. She flipped the communicator open again and said, "Let me start over. Calling all Titans! …and honorary Titans…like me. This is an emergency. I'm in the Tower, and I'm being chased by bad guys. Lots of bad guys. And I'm the last Titan left."
The door to the stairwell was stuck. She slammed her spindly shoulder against it once, twice, and then unstuck it open on the third try. Panting, she leaned against the door to catch her breath and shone her light up the rickety stairs, dreading the thought of ascending them to Ops.
"Well," she admitted between breaths, "I'm not really the last-last Titan. See, a while back, Robin got super powers. It was really weird. I wasn't here for that part. This gross space bug came down in a pod, from space, and then the bug exploded, and this smaller gross bug burrowed into Robin's chest, sort of the reverse of that movie with that alien. I can't remember the title right now. It was pretty good, but really scary…
She trailed off again, and lightly thumped her head against the door. "Focus," she told herself through gritted teeth.
Then she took to the stairs, gingerly testing each buckled step before she risked putting her full weight on it. "Anyway, Robin got these powers. He could fly, and shoot red blasts, or red bolts, it kinda changed, depending. At for a while, it was okay. He used his powers to chase after Slade—that's this really bad guy with a weird mask and one eye. He tried to take over the city with robots. You probably saw that on the news."
Tek stopped halfway to the top. Between talking, climbing, and panicking, her lungs could not keep up. She leaned heavily on her knees and gasped.
"Slade was super-bad, even though I never met him. He kept sending people and robots to mess with the Tower. I guess they got in because Terra—she was a Titan too, but she was also a bad guy, because she was helping Slade, so I guess she wasn't a Titan, except she helped save me and voted me on the team…" With another breath, Tek forced herself back on topic, "Terra and Slade blew up the Tower using lots of robots. He thought he blew us up, too, but we survived in this underground bunker that Robin built.
With heavy steps and a light head, she resumed her climb. The stairwell echoed with her footsteps. She tried to keep her voice steady as she continued to the communicator, "We stopped Slade and his robots, but not before they trashed Jump City. That's when Robin went sort of crazy. But I wasn't there for that part, either. I was having…problems.
Finally, she reached the top level of the Tower. Her destination laid just a few shadowy halls away. Armed with her penlight and communicator, she pressed ahead, timing her footsteps to her chest-rattling heartbeat. "Beast Boy said that Robin felt bad about letting the city get destroyed by Slade, so he became this crazy vigilante, the Red Robin. Maybe you saw that on the news, too. He got so bad that the other Titans had to stop him. They fought. It went…not good."
She paused outside a set of double doors, but not for lack of breath. Her hand trembled as she reached for the doors' seam. Then she stopped.
"They stopped Robin, but it was really bad. Starfire was hurt bad. She still isn't awake. And Robin ran away. Nobody knows where he is. And Cyborg was torn to pieces. Those nice doctors at S.T.A.R. Labs are building him a new body, but he's still in little pieces and these gross chunks, although I didn't tell him the chunks look gross, because that's his body…his body-body, not his machine-body. Raven and Beast Boy were supposed to get out of the hospital today, but they aren't answering, and my communicator can't find them. I hope they're okay," Tek said.
Ops' doors loomed before her, growing larger in her eyes by the second. She knew she didn't even deserve to walk through them anymore. She didn't deserve to be a Titan, honorary or otherwise. Raven had told her as much. But there was no one left.
She lifted the communicator to her mouth and stared at the doors. Worthy or not, she had no choice. Innocent lives were on the line. "Please," she said, "If anyone's listening, you have to help. There are no more Teen Titans, and Jump City is in real danger. I can't stop them alone. I don't even really know who they are. I'm in trouble, and I don't know who else to call. So if anybody gets this, hurry to Jump City. Look for 'Tek' on your locator beacons.
"Um…that's it. Hope to meet you soon," she told the dead airways.
Then Tek shut her communicator, grasped the doors of Ops, and pushed them apart. It took all her strength to fight the grinding gears in the walls, but she managed to open the doors enough to squeeze through, losing more skin and suit in the process.
Cheery sunlight poured through the empty window frames at the far side of Ops. More char carpeted the floors, crunching under her hesitant footfalls. She recognized the scorched shapes that remained, remembering what they had been before the explosion: that blackened lump facing the window-screen had been their couch; the scorched block to her left had been the kitchen area; on either side, consoles and lockers sat open and eviscerated, where once they had housed the Titans' vast resources.
And before her, a stranger dressed in flowing white threw sharp, gleaming metal at her face.
To Be Continued
And thus begins a new chapter for my Teen Titans. For those of you who are new: welcome! And for those of you who aren't quite as new: welcome back! It's the beginning of a new story, which is really a continuation of my older story, but with new twists, a new theme, and brand new excitement to explore.
I should note for you newcomers that this is technically an AU story. My continuity follows the Teen Titans animated series up until the Season Two episode, "Winner Take All," from which it diverges wildly. The continuity also liberally takes from both the DC Animated Universe and DC comics. I've streamlined it quite a bit, so you should pick it up without problem. The biggest thing to realize is that here, Robin isn't Dick Grayson, but instead Tim Drake, who I maintain is the superior Robin. This, of course, is only my opinion, but being that it's my story, Tim is here to stay. Keep your eyes peeled for Dick Grayson and other DC favorites to appear as the story progresses.
I have a lot of thanks to give, so I might as well get them out of the way now. First off, to all my returning readers, for whom this story continues, and to whom I owe quite a bit. You guys may not be the reason I started writing, but in bleaker moments, you're the ones who encourage me to keep writing, and that means more than you'll ever know. A quick list of my favorite authors, to whom I give thanks for further inspiration: Peter David, Brian Michael Bendis, Alan Moore, Robert Heinlein, Edgar Allen Poe, and Jim Butcher, just to name a few. And finally, once again, I lend thanks to Legend Maker, an ff-dot-net alumnus whose Titan stories inspired me to try my hand at it, and whose chaptering system I have "borrowed," with both apologies and gratitude.
Want to learn more about Tek and the strange events she's recounting? Check out the story that came previously, "Teen Titans: Avatar." Or you could stay tuned and pick it up. Or you could do both. I sure hope you do both. Definitely the "staying tuned" part. Because, as I like to say:
The best is yet to come.