Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
Author's Note: Believe it or not, this chapter's been mostly written for a pretty long time… it's just been in Atlanta. With my computer. It's actually kind of a funny story, really. You know what else is a funny story? My email account decided to start shoveling all incoming mail into my spam box a while back. So if you've tried to contact me (email, PM, review, smoke signal, etc.) and I haven't replied, I probably never received your message and would be grateful if you'd try again.
It is as hard to do your duty when men are sneering at you as when they are shooting at you.
Halve a Nice Day
Good morning Jump City! It's two before seven, and it's looking like today is going to be a beautiful day. Temperature looks like it'll be about the same as it's been all week, with lows in the upper seventies and highs in the lower nineties. Traffic is going smoothly so far today, with minimal congestion on Interstate 5 and no reported accidents. For those of you headed downtown, be prepared for some congestion around the Jump City Convention Hall, where the long-awaited auditions for the nation's first officially sanctioned metahumans law enforcement team—tentatively dubbed "The Titans"—will be taking place from eight o'clock until nine in the evening. This team, to be lead by the world famous Robin—best known as the sidekick to the notorious Batman of Gotham City—is expected to significantly reduce the incidence of metacrime in our city, which has the highest metacrime rate west of Metropolis… and until now, no Superman to counter it. Here's wishing the best of luck to Robin and his chosen Titans from us at WREK! And in sports-
The transmission cut out as a careening spaceship smashed into the radio tower as it made its way to the desert beyond the city, where it crashed and absolutely vaporized some unfortunate cacti.
Barbara Gordon looked out the window of the office she was using for the interviews and sighed. There had to be at least six hundred people out there waiting for an audition, and she was going to be talking to every single one of them. In twelve hours. There was no way in hell this was going to work. Richard was going to owe her for this, big time.
She shook her head in resignation at the thought of Robin. The poor boy had been buried in paperwork for the past three months, even with her and Bruce helping out when they could. He probably looked at the chance to spar with everyone she sent his way as a way to relax. Not that fighting lacked a certain cathartic quality, but twelve straight hours? The guy needed a hobby, or a girlfriend. Given the severity of the problem, he probably needed both… and therapy, lots of therapy.
The clock on the wall struck eight, and Batgirl called in the first prospective team member. The man had supposedly shown up a week early to be first in line. He scored points for being punctual, but lost a lot more for being nucking futs.
As soon as he appeared, she decided that this one wasn't going on the team. He shouldn't be allowed within one hundred meters of any team, crimefighting or otherwise. After a few cursory questions, she sent him over to the room Robin had set aside for sparring with the applicants. If nothing else, "The Fearless Ferret" and his freaky pet-thing "Wonder Weasel" would be good for a laugh, and God did that boy need a sense of humor.
Raven focused on her breathing, trying as hard as possible to tune out the emotions of the crowd around her. Growing up in New York City had, of course, gotten her a little used to crowds, but she was still very uncomfortable when around such large numbers of people.
She had considered arriving later in the day, so as to avoid both the wait and the crowd, but had thrown out that idea when she realized that doing so would significantly reduce her chance of getting on the team; after all, the slots could very well fill up before they had gotten around to everyone who showed up. The risk of that happening was one that she couldn't accept; she had been preparing for this ever since that fateful morning nine years ago when she had met Garfield, although she hadn't known it at the time. She knew now that what had happened to Jason wasn't her fault, but that did little to help assuage the guilt of having taken a life. By devoting her life and… special talents… to helping people in need, Raven figured she could atone for what she had done, as well as do some genuine good in the world.
A sudden spike of fear in the crowd shocked Raven out of her reverie just in time to dodge the very large and very unconscious man hurtling her way.
Princess Koriand'r of Tameran was, first and foremost, a warrior. And as such, she was not going to go down without a fight.
Her ship, on the other hand, was not, technically speaking, a warrior, and seemed much less up to the challenge of escaping this world's gravitational pull than she had hoped. It was certainly going down, at least.
The crash was, of course, unpleasant, but at least she had landed in a space that was unoccupied by the people of this world. She could, of course, hold her own in a fight if she were attacked—or so she hoped, knowing nothing of this backwater planet or its residents—but it was easier for all involved if one didn't introduce oneself to a new world by flattening a few hundred of its citizens… unless they were hostile, of course, in which a few hundred flattened now would be a few hundred fewer to deal with later.
Setting aside the cheerless thoughts of what may await her on this uncharted planet, Koriand'r kicked out the door to her wrecked craft and floated out into the bright sunlight. Immediately, she began the process of unwrapping the silvery bindings around her body that protected her during interstellar flight—and minimized the solar energy she could absorb and wield against her former Gordanian captors. Once the material had been stripped from her person, she placed it in her craft and lay down spreadeagle in the sand.
Fifteen minutes passed, and once she had recovered enough energy, Princess Koriand'r of Tameran destroyed the escape pod she had landed in, eliminating any evidence for her likely pursuers to track.
The next matter was to make contact with the indigenous people of this world. Remembering the population hub a short flight towards the apparent position of the star this world orbited, she leapt into the air and made her way in that direction.
Upon reaching the city, Koriand'r began to search for an appropriate destination. It was not long before she found herself above a very large building that was surrounded by the people of this world scurrying in and out. Deciding that this apparent hub of activity was as good a place as any to start, she descended from the sky and walked through one of the doorways she had seen the natives using.
The very first thing she noticed as she entered was the massive queue occupying the majority of the available floor space. Hundreds of people, all varying widely in appearance and dress, stood waiting anxiously to be allowed to enter a doorway on the other side of the building. Reminding herself that information was her most valuable resource, the princess walked up to the person in line that was nearest to her and politely got his attention.
Unfortunately, the attention he gave her was not polite, and was more focused on her body below the neck rather than any of the questions she was asking of him about where she was and who their leader might be.
After extricating herself from the company of the leering male, she took to the air and made her way forward in the line in search of someone who would be able to answer her queries. Eventually, she settled on a group of females chatting animatedly amongst themselves near the head of the queue and took off in their direction. She was close to their position when she was suddenly jerked off course by a strong jerk on her ankle accompanied by an angry shout.
Koriand'r landed roughly on the floor and shook her head to clear out the cobwebs. Standing above her, a very heavily built and irate looking man was shouting at her in a guttural sounding language she was not familiar with.
"I don't know who the hell you think you are to be going straight to the front of the line, princess, but I'll be damned if I'm going to wait in this God-forsaken line for a minute longer than I hav—gah!"
The shouting man's tirade was cut short as a bright beam of green light erupted from Koriand'r's eyes and smashed into his own, temporarily blinding him and knocking him off his balance. Springing nimbly to her feet, the Tamaranian warrior leapt forward to deal with her assailant. A left-handed jab to the chest knocked him a few feet backwards, his progress halted by way of collision with the people in line behind him. Not waiting to allow him to recover his balance, Koriand'r dashed forward and deftly launched her opponent straight up into the air. The crowd surrounding her quickly retreated as she drew her fist back, as though readying herself to punch the empty air in front of her. Her arm flew forward as the space before her was suddenly occupied by the dazed form of her opponent, who was sent on his way by way of a very solid blow to his head.
Koriand'r was prepared to go finish off her attacker when she heard The Voice.
The Voice spoke with absolute authority. It allowed for no departure from its commands, permitted no questioning of its orders, and expected instant and willing obedience of those who heard it. It was the voice of leadership that she had been looking for.
Turning to face The Voice's owner, she found herself looking down at an irate—and apparently colorblind, from the look of his outfit—young man speaking to her in the same guttural language that her assailant had spoken to her with.
Koriand'r tried a few times to interrupt what seemed to be a long and angry rant that she couldn't understand a word of, but her attempts were to no avail. Finally in exasperation, she resolved to solve both the problem of language and the problem of getting a word in edgewise in one fell swoop.
Robin had just finished with the latest applicant—another one for the rejection pile—when the noise of screaming and shouting filtered in through the walls. In a flash, he dashed through the doorways leading to the convention hall where the metas were waiting in line. The cause of the disturbance was immediately evident as he saw a slightly off-color girl launch a man easily three times her size into the air before slamming him across the hall.
Why does it always have to be redheads?
"HOLD IT!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. The girl flinched, as though she were a child caught filching cookies from a cookie jar. He held back a smile at the thought of how many times that exact situation had played out between him and Alfred when he was younger, and launched into his tirade.
He wasn't really paying attention to what he was saying; none of it was particularly relevant anyway. Obviously, the girl wouldn't be allowed to join the Titans, she was clearly a discipline problem that he didn't need. All that needed to be said was that she was disqualified, and that she would be under arrest if she didn't clear off the premises immediately. However, he had some stress to relieve, and a good verbal dressing-down was a decent way to do it. She tried several times to interrupt, and somewhere in the back of his mind he took note that she wasn't speaking in a language he knew, but he rolled right over her attempted objections and kept on haranguing her.
He stopped, however, when the girl snatched his head between her hands (Robin absently asked himself how she had moved so quickly) and crushed his lips to her own. His body reacted as though he was kissing a Van de Graaff generator—a sensation he hadn't quite experienced with any of the other coincidentally red-headed girls he had kissed—and as suddenly as it had begun, the kiss ended, and he found himself sitting on the ground and feeling as though he had run through one of Bruce's nastier training programs.
A surprisingly strong—yet gentle—hand grasped his own and pulled him to his feet, bringing him face-to-face with what he now suddenly realized was a remarkably pretty girl that had literally just knocked him on his ass with a kiss. He was about to ask her what the hell was going on (because the only other question his mind could form was "Can you do that again?" and he obviously couldn't ask her that) when she hit him out of left field once more.
"Please, what planet is this?"
Barbara had watched the whole thing from her window, from the girl getting snatched out of the air to the bewildered Boy Wonder walking back to the sparring room. He had left her with instructions regarding the pretty redhead: that she would be the last person in line today, and that if he was busy that Barbara was to give her whatever help she needed before sending her on her way. Barbara had, of course, smiled and agreed to do just that.
That "sending her on her way" would likely involve "giving her a spot on the team without telling you" went without saying. Smirking to herself, she rolled her wheelchair back to her desk and called in the next applicant.
Author's Note: This was written in two installments, with one event marking the fifty-day halt in progress caused by my computer going to Atlanta with my sister without me backing up all of my files like I should have (because even I can be a dumbass sometimes). Twenty Captain Cool Bonus Points to the first lucky individual to guess correctly what that event was. Another twenty to the first to guess what college my father graduated from.
Disclaimer: Captain Cool Bonus Points not actually redeemable for anything.