DAMN it has been a long time since I've put anything meaningful on this site. Hopefully a few years of writing courses will have seen some improvements over the older works I have up.
Here's the first chapter; it's self-titled and is the result of my experimentation with some new styles.
1 Forecasted Thunderstorms
It was six a.m. when Raven awoke, same as every day. The tower was silent, and she could sense the stillness had that settled homogenously throughout. Robin was probably just getting up and the stillness would be gone within half an hour, which meant that she should get up as well to maintain appearances.
She felt the demon making its presence known within her and mentally sighed. She turned her attention away from the tower and toward the demon, but it was strangely unresponsive toward her usual methods of suppressing it. Trying harder now, Raven focused completely on forcing the growing presence back into the recesses of her mind. It was as if she were trying to swallow a large pill, but this one refused to go down. Still, Raven was far from panicking; this was still fairly typical.
Then, the presence suddenly doubled in strength, then doubled again. Raven found herself working much harder than usual to stay in control. Her heart rate was climbing at a noticeable rate, and a few drops of sweat were forming on her body. She tried to control her breathing in order to calm herself down, but the demon required all of her concentration. Suddenly, its strength spiked even higher and Raven all but lost control. Panic growing, her fingers grasped at her bed sheets as her body twisted and her muscles tightened. The demon was getting closer and closer to the surface, trying harder than Raven could remember it ever doing before.
Suddenly, the demon's power arrived at that crucial line. Raven felt the breath sucked from her lungs as her eyes began to burn under her eyelids. The burning grew more and more painful and she could feel her front teeth beginning to sharpen. Her heart rate was a steady one hundred eighty, but each successive beat was a painful thump that tore at her chest muscles even harder than the last.
Determined not to let the demon take control, Raven gripped her sheets harder as she tried to regain control. Her transformation halted as the two wills fought each other, her eyes clenched shut as they burned bright red. Then, Raven found a foothold in her mind. She managed to push the demon back a small amount, and then again. With each push she gained momentum, and her eyes and teeth began to revert back to normal, her heart rate slowing.
The demon's influence grew weaker and weaker, and eventually it seemed to have stopped fighting back. Raven took in a deep breath, held it for a few seconds, and then exhaled.
She opened her eyes and sat up. Her room was as she'd left it, everything in its place save for a few meditation books she'd left open on her desk. The room was lit with a pale blue light from the window, and she turned to see that that sun had not yet risen but must have been just under the horizon. It was her favorite time of the day, and she wondered what her odds were of salvaging it.
It was just another day in the life for the Titans, who had arrived in the heart of Jump City to take on a menacing Plasmus. They'd set out after receiving word of the monster's escape from prison, and found him making his way up town, ripping out streetlights and crushing cars in his path. Not unexpectedly, the purple goo creature was less than pleased with the confrontation.
"Yo Robin! What's this thing doing so far up town?" Cyborg asked as he backed up toward Robin while firing bursts from his sonic cannon. "It's not like there's anything—" He ducked, narrowly ffavoiding a goo shot from Plasmus, then tried again. "It's not like there's anything he'd want to steal around here!"
"He's probably trying to get to one of the chemical plants further up town," Robin replied while assembling a set of three bird-a-rangs in each hand and hurling them at Plasmus. All six projectiles hit their target, and Plasmus stopped in his tracks while Cyborg readied his follow-up attack.
A second later, the liquid in which the bird-a-rangs were wedged began to form blue ice crystals, which quickly began to spread. Suddenly though, Plasmus' body seemed to stiffen up as if he were flexing. Robin and Cyborg watched, confused. The monster's body condensed more and more, until it stopped and abruptly expanded back to full size, shooting out the six bird-a-rangs along with the ice crystals that had formed on his surface.
"Judging by his strength, I'd say he's already gotten to a few plants," Robin added, shielding his face from flying ice chunks.
"No kidding! He's never been able to do that—Wahh!" Cyborg stopped short as he and Robin were both hit by sludge blasts and sent tumbling backward about fifteen meters along the asphalt road.
Quick on the counter attack were Raven and Starfire, who came swooping down past the fallen Titans and flew parallel to the road before launching blasts of black energy and green radiation at Plasmus point blank. The engulfed creature could not recover his damage fast enough and screamed out in fury as the energy waves ripped him apart. When the dust cleared, Plasmus existed only as a countless number of tiny piles of purple goo on the ground.
After a few seconds, the goo piles began to squirm and move, preparing to reassemble. Enter the giant green elephant, who came stomping obnoxiously down the road with four wide elephant feet. During the next minute and a half, each and every pile of wriggling goo was completely flattened into a pavement until they appeared as nothing more than purple stains in the road.
The elephant stood up on its hind two legs and shrunk down to become a fury green boy in a purple and black jumpsuit dusting off his hands after a day's work.
"Who ordered the goo soup?"
"Good work, Beastboy," Robin said, ignoring his less-than-hilarious comment as he reloaded a taser-type device back into his belt. Raven and Starfire were busy helping Cyborg pick sludge out of his gears.
"Aww man! It's all stained!" the half-robot bellowed, white tear streaks running down his face as he came to grips with the purple smears all over his otherwise shiny titanium body. He hung his head in defeat and groaned, "I'm purple…"
"You could have done worse," Raven stated in her usual monotone, nodding in the direction of the green, fanged Titan.
"Hey! What do you have against green?!" He held out his hand and began counting with his fingers. "It's unique…" One finger. "It's rugged…" Two fingers. "You know the fur is awesome…"
Rolling their eyes, the other four turned and started toward the tower, with Beastboy following behind with the unabridged version of his rant. "Maybe the costume's a little retro…" He was right on that one; "…but don't even get me started on the ears!"
The list ended surprisingly early, allowing the Titans to reflect on the battle just won.
"The Plasmus seemed much tougher today than when we last defeated him," Starfire pointed out.
"Tell me about it!" Cyborg agreed. "And since when can he get all hard and shoot out your ice thingies?"
"I don't know," Robin admitted. "It seems like a lot of the usual villains are starting to remember our attacks. Bit by bit, they're catching on to us, and learning new things themselves."
"Well that's just perfect," Cyborg responded. "Now we gotta deal with bad guys that are smarter and stronger!"
A faint shadow was cast over them from behind, as if the sun had moved behind a building. No one gave it a second thought, until Starfire turned to get a quick view of the sunset but got an ugly surprise instead.
"Beastboy! Look out!" she cried suddenly.
Several meters behind the rest of the group, Beastboy turned around to find Plasmus towering over him with a thick, hardened arm up in the air and already swinging down on him. He had no time to react before the heavy limb crashed down on top of him, immediately collapsing his legs beneath his body and breaking several bones as the ground rumbled from the impact.
"Beastboy!" the other Titans exclaimed, launching a plethora of explosives and energy attacks.
"Argh!" Plasmus bellowed in anticipation. He'd already fallen victim to this attack once today and didn't plan on doing so again. With the same arm with which he'd attacked, he picked up Beastboy's unconscious body and hurled it forward.
"No!" Robin and Raven shouted as Beastboy's body took the hits from all four Titans' attacks. It flailed limply before collapsing to the ground, burnt and contorted.
"Haa!" Starfire cried as she bolted toward Plasmus, brought her fists together, and struck him in the face in an uppercut motion, causing his twelve hundred pound body to lift several inches off the ground. With her fists still interlocked, she immediately slammed them right back down on the back of his 'head,' sending him slamming face first into the asphalt.
Cyborg and Robin joined in the fray while Raven checked for a pulse in her fallen comrade. It was there but faint. This battle needed to be ended quickly, even though the technique she had in mind was highly advanced and therefore tended to use up most of her energy.
Hovering over the ground, she folded her legs up and closed her eyes, quickly entering a meditative state. Unlike her normal meditations that focused on exploring the deepest innards of her mind, this type of trance concentrated on removing her consciousness from her mind and body altogether. Within a few seconds, she felt the separation occur, and all five senses were eliminated as her presence left her body. Leaving her unoccupied vessel behind, she guided herself toward the battle, past her battling comrades, and directly into Plasmus, unaffected by his attacks on her teammates. With her energy running low, she immediately got to work executing her technique.
Meanwhile, the other Titans were effectively keeping the goo monster occupied. Fueled with rage at the sight of their fallen friend, their attacks were relentless. Still, Plasmus' new ability to condense himself was a force to be reckoned with; his attacks were doing considerable damage and worse, his dense exterior seemed impenetrable. The monster attacked viciously, unaffected by the hailing rain of star bolts that were exploding continuously on his back. He turned to face her, but was suddenly pelted with six bird-a-rangs that exploded immediately on his left shoulder and arm.
"Arghrah!" the monster roared as he spun back toward Robin and Cyborg, swinging an elongated arm of hardened goo. They jumped out of the way, the attack scraping up asphalt as it barely missed its targets. Cyborg returned the attack with his sonic cannon; the blast was a direct hit, but what once tore a hole through the monster's center now left him unscathed.
"He just took my sonic cannon like it was nothing!" Cyborg exclaimed in disbelief.
"Rargh!" Plasmus cried out, his rage growing with every attack. "Rargh—ragh…"
The Titans looked confused as the monster appeared to suddenly be calming down very quickly.
"Ergh…" he continued, dropping to one knee as his breathing grew deeper and slower.
Cyborg lowered his cannon, not believing what he was seeing. "Is he… tired?"
Wide-eyed, Robin and Starfire didn't respond but kept watching as Plasmus seemed to slump more and more. Soon, he had collapse to the ground completely, his breathing slowed and his eyes barely open. As they slipped closed, the hardened exterior turned soft, and then began to shrink away. As the last of the purple slime melted away, a sleeping man in his underwear was left on the asphalt, snoring peacefully as if he were in his own bed.
The three heroes were at a loss for words, expecting a counter attack at any second as they cautiously approached the sleeping body.
"If you're done watching him sleep, Beastboy needs medical attention."
They turned around to find Raven knelt over Beastboy's unconscious body, her fingers on his neck feeling for his pulse. They hurried over and Starfire gasped as they got their first close look at the aftermath of his trauma.
Immediately obvious were the scorch marks all over his body, caused by Robin's explosives and Starfire's star bolts. The heat resistant in his jumpsuit hadn't been sufficient to weather the blast; his flesh was darkened all over and already blistering in some places. His legs were in bad shape as well. His bones were cracked in many places and it showed in the contorted position he was now in. Worst, though, was the impact from Cyborg's sonic cannon. Deriving its power from sound waves, it didn't do its damage via heat or radiation, but through the sheer force and speed of the blast. It hits the opponent with such sudden force that the vital tissues are torn by the shockwave. Upon close inspection, bruises could be seen all over Beastboy's chest and it was immediately clear why his pulse had become so weak.
"He needs help now," Robin barked. "Raven, can't you heal him?"
"No," she replied. "Getting rid of Plasmus took all of my energy. I don't have any left."
Robin looked back at Beastboy, unsure of what to do. "He's in no condition to be moved. He's taken too much damage; we'll only make him worse."
As he spoke, Starfire put her fingers on his neck in the same way that Raven had, curious to feel what a person's pulse felt like. She moved her two fingers up and down his neck, a look of growing perplexion her face.
"Uh Star?" Cyborg began.
"Please, can you help me to find the pulse? I am trying to feel Beastboy's pulse like Raven did."
"It should be right over there, Star," Robin replied, not paying much attention while indicating a spot about in inch above her fingers.
A few seconds went by, and then, "It is not here. Please, is this normal?"
Now concerned, Robin knelt down and tried for himself. Finding nothing, he immediately grabbed Beastboy's wrist, only to find no pulse there either.
"His heart's stopped!"
"Stand back!" Cyborg exclaimed, raising each of his pointer fingers as electricity accumulated on each one. "I'm gonna use my internal battery as a defibrillator!" The others moved back and watched as he knelt down and touched his fingers to Beastboy's burnt chest. "Clear!" He'd administered a shock but Beastboy's body remained motionless. Not satisfied with the result, he tried again. "Clear!"
The other Titans watched in horror as their friend lay dying before them, surging with guilt knowing that it was their attacks that had put in him this state. Four shocks saw no change in his condition, but Cyborg wouldn't give up.
"Come on Bea wake up!" he shouted of frustration but helpless to do anything more.
Robin's mind raced for solutions but came up with nothing. The resuscitation wasn't working; the heart had been to heavily damaged by the shockwave of Cyborg's cannon. CPR wouldn't work for the same reason. It'd just make him worse, he thought.
Suddenly, Raven stepped forward and knelt next to Beastboy and Cyborg, her hands glowing white as they emerged from within her cloak. Cyborg instinctively backed off, welcoming any alternative to his ineffective attempts at defibrillation. Beastboy's chest glowed as well, but much dimmer than the Titans were used to seeing when Raven healed them.
"I thought you were out of energy," Robin stated, hoping she had found a second wind.
"I am," she replied in a tone that closed off any other questions Robin might have had. She found herself short on breath within a few seconds of the healing process. The other Titans watched with concerned expressions, but there wasn't anything else they could do.
Come on, she told herself. She could feel the energy going into Beastboy gradually weakening as she became more and more exhausted herself. You have to do this. You can't let him die! At that thought, she felt a brief surge of power flare up inside her, which she automatically channeled completely into Beastboy. Then she felt it: a heartbeat. It was faint; only Cyborg had detected it with his sensors, but then he also realized how unstable it was.
There was no second. She panicked, her energy transfer becoming inefficient as her last reserves were starting to run dry. Each second that passed by, she could feel her friend move closer to his death. I have to do this! He's dying!
At that moment, she let her guard down. A storm of emotions hit her, and with them, a huge surge of energy that caused her to radiate wildly with a dark aura and her eyes to emit a black fire. No! Not now, she panicked, having no energy to fight the apparent outbreak. But surprisingly, the power was cooperating. It was allowing her to channel it, flowing smoothly into her fallen comrade who immediately began to improve. His heart started beating again, this time getting stronger and soon stabilizing. She had no idea how she was controlling this power but she channeled all of it toward Beastboy, who's heart was healed and now some of the bruises on his chest were starting to disappear.
"You did it!" Starfire exclaimed joyfully. She, Robin and Cyborg knelt next to Beastboy and Raven with wide smiles of relief, each checking his pulse for themselves to make sure it wasn't too good to be true.
Suddenly, Raven's power surge gave out. Her dark aura was immediately dispelled and she collapsed, caught by Robin just before hitting the ground.
"Are you okay?" Robin asked.
Too exhausted to reply, Raven could only lay in his arms breathing quickly with her eyes barely open. She looked up at him, though, and managed to weak-fisted thumbs up before letting her arm drop and her eyes gently close. The three conscious Titans all stared with bewildered expressions.
"Thumbs up…" Cyborg asked, "from Raven?"
Raven awoke in her own bed to the sound of the Titan's alert wailing throughout the tower. It was almost three a.m. and storming loudly outside. She was surprised to notice that her energy had been completely restored, despite the fact that she'd been near the point of death just twelve hours ago. She was also surprised that any of the Titans would have brought her into her room; the only one she could imagine doing so was presumably still out cold and a long way from walking anywhere.
She arrived in the giant-television-gathering-room place to find Robin at the main computer and Starfire hovering about five meters off the floor in front of the bay windows, as if looking for something in the city skyline off in the distance. The dark storm clouds blocked out the moonlight, though, and the pouring rain made it difficult to see more than a few meters past the windows. Cyborg wandered in just behind Raven, rubbing his eyes as he tried to wake himself up.
"What's the deal with these bad guys…" he muttered. "It's three in the morning…"
"It's Plasmus again," Robin responded, completely alert as if it were noon. "He's already broken out of prison and the police haven't been able to find him."
"How'd he get out of his holding cell?!" Cyborg exclaimed in shock. "They designed it specifically for him!"
"I don't know. The report says the guard dozed off and when he woke up a few minutes later, Plasmus was gone. We don't have any time to waste; every second puts him farther away."
Thirty seconds later, Cyborg, Robin, and Raven pulled out of the tower's garage in the T-car, with Starfire flying just behind them. Raven stared out the window at the rain, noticing that the storm seemed to be at its strongest right near Titan's Tower. Robin was booting up the car's computer to program a search when Cyborg suddenly slammed on the breaks and brought the car to a skidding stop just outside the tower.
"What's going on—" Robin asked, in no mood to waste time at this hour. But Cyborg had already opened his door and gotten out of the car.
Robin and Raven each got out and ran around to meet him, and Starfire landed on his other side. All four stood speechless, staring at the body before them. Everyone gasped.
In front of the car and at the foot of Titan's Tower lay Plasmus, motionless on his back in the pouring rain. Deep, wide slash marks had torn through his dense exterior, leaving large gashes. Liquid goo seeped out from the open wounds, slid down his body, and several small puddles on the floor that mixed with the rain water. He was covered with cut marks from head to toe with his eyes rolled to the side. Unlike earlier, his wounds weren't recovering.
Robin was the first to speak.
"Plasmus didn't break out of jail on his own."
Another few seconds went by as the Titans thought about this before something hit Cyborg.
"And if he hasn't turned back to human, then…"
Well there it is, chapter one. Everyone is encouraged to review and (more importantly) criticize. And don't worry, I do plan on incorporating some Titan humor into the rest of the story. This chapter's the hook.
I've done a fifteen-chapter fic and a one shot, and this one's going to be somewhere in between—probably around four chapters. I'm hoping to get chapter two out over the next few days.