(Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans; neither the animated versions upon which this story is based, nor any other version of them.)
Starfire lay catatonic on the couch. Her wide-open emerald eyes didn't so much as flicker as Beast Boy waved his open hand in front of them.
"Oh man," he lamented. "I know Control Freak does all sorts of crazy stuff, but how did he get into her brain?"
"Her mind, actually," Raven commented.
He shot an inquisitive look at her. "What's the difference?"
"One's a physical organ, the other's more...." She paused, deciding to try a new approach. "You went into Cyborg's brain with Gizmo; you went into my mind with Cyborg."
"Oh," he said with comprehension.
Cyborg grimaced. "Don't remind me. Of either time."
Robin spoke next. "What can we do?"
"Yeah," Cyborg added. "I had enough trouble coming to grips with Beast Boy and Gizmo being inside my head, I can't imagine having Control Freak inside Starfire's mind."
Raven ignored the tongue Beast Boy thrust at Cyborg, despite it being an anteater's. "We can't leave him in there. We need to find some way into her mind, boot the creep out, and repair any damage he may have caused."
"Ooh ooh! I know!" Beast Boy said eagerly. "We just need that mirror, and then—"
"'That mirror' only works for me."
"Aww man, I was sure I had the plan this time!"
Robin scowled. "Isn't there some other way in there?"
Raven shook her head. "Not that I have. Unless we're comfortable with me punching a hole into Starfire's mind. Which I'm not, so I won't consider it."
"Uhh, Raven?" Cyborg started, not really liking the direction his thought was going. "That mindscape thing is like an alternate dimension or something, isn't it?"
She nodded. "Kind of like a microcosm." She raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Why?"
He cleared his throat. "I hate to say it, but there's only one transdimensional head-hopper we know of."
Robin started, "Who do you...." His voice trailed off and the eyes on his mask went wide as he came up with the answer. "You cannot mean—"
A sudden, loud pop occurred behind them all. All four coherent Titans turned around, to see the conclusion of Robin's sentence, uttering his own name.
Cyborg said, softly, "I did, actually."
"Yaaaay! I didn't pop inside my hero's noggin this time! My aim is improving! Yay!"
Robin groaned, both that the situation really warranted this, and because dang it he remembered what a pile of flesh popping off of his forehead felt like. "Look. We need your help, and quickly."
"My hero needs my help? YAAAAY!" Larry bounced between the ceiling and the floor for a few seconds, then stopped in midair. "Oh, you said quickly!" He then instantaneously appeared on the ground. "With what?"
Raven answered while the other three were still trying to get their thoughts in order. "Control Freak popped into Starfire's mind."
Larry recoiled in disgust. "Eww, he's not a very good guy, even when he's not breaking and entering people's thoughts."
"We need to get in ourselves, then get him out and fix whatever he's messed up."
Larry started floating six feet off the ground, circling Starfire, with a hand to his chin. "Hmm...I don't think I can quite do that. It's not quite a dimension boundary, you know?"
Robin turned to Raven. "Raven, could you—"
"I told you this last time, Robin," she interrupted, "And mixing my powers with his could still nullify all existence by destroying the dimensional boundaries."
"Wait!" Larry interjected. "There's mind trouble, I know who to call!" Then he faced the center window, drew in a breath so deep he doubled in size, and let out a yell that shook the entire Tower.
Starfire instinctively flinched at the volume spike. Robin, Cyborg and Beast Boy stood there, petrified with confusion. Raven stood there, petrified with apprehension.
Within seconds, a ring of pink petals formed on the surface of the window. Slowly, petals started appearing inside the ring, filling the newly formed circle. Once the circle was filled with petals, strands of red fiber began to grow out of every square millimeter of every tiny gap between the petals. The strands grew, and grew, until they were four feet long.
Suddenly the circle bulged. Then just as suddenly, it resumed its prior shape with the sound of a feminine "oof," and the strands all went slack. Then, the strands all turned blue over the course of a second, retained their straightened state....Then violently snapped against the glass in every direction, throwing some sort of green mass through the circle of petals, which promptly disappeared. The strands traveled with the mass, revealing them to be connected to it on the ends.
It quickly became apparent that the mass was in fact a miniature Raven, in the same way that Larry was a miniature Robin, although her cloak was green and hoodless. And she had four feet of blue hair, that was different too. Suddenly she froze in midair. Her cloak and hair turned pink and orange, respectively; she righted herself and floated to the ground, her hair folding in on itself, then folding in on itself again, making it a manageable size for land-based movement. Taking proportions into account, its length and style strongly resembled Starfire's.
"HTOR, has ARRIVED!" she proudly announced in a fairly high-pitched voice.
Somehow, Beast Boy managed to come to his senses first; while Robin, Cyborg and Raven were slack-jawed with twitching eyes. "Uhh...why does she sound like Rikku?" Some fragment of his senses, anyway.
The two miniatures, meanwhile, were ecstatic at the sight of each other, and jumped towards one another to embrace. They both missed. Simultaneously, they halted movement through the air, rotated themselves to face each other again, then resumed inertia. Still flying away from each other.
On contact with the ground, though, they each pounced forward, and managed to connect.
"Actually it's Larry here."
Htor released her hug and took a step back. "What?" Her hair and cloak transitioned to gray. "How come you get an extra name?" She looked back at Robin and Raven, still petrified with shock. "How come all of you get to be named after birds and I don't?"
That was apparently enough to shake off Robin's state. "But, Larry isn't a bird."
Out of nowhere, a basketball dropped from the ceiling.
"I want an extra name too!" she pouted.
"It's OK," Larry said, patting her on the shoulder reassuringly. "We just need these nice people to get you one. Hey nice people! Htor here needs another name!" Her cloak-and-hair combination returned to pink-and-orange.
It took a Robin a second to process this all. "Uhh...what's your normal name?"
"Htor Nevar," she answered playfully.
Beast Boy shook his head quickly, trying to clear whatever obstruction was growing inside it. "I never—"
"Nevar," she said in a playfully corrective tone.
"—heard of a name like that."
Cyborg's mind had rebooted, or otherwise just started working. "Maybe you should start with some ideas."
"Oh," she replied. "OK." She hopped up a couple feet , her hair forming into the shape of beanbag chair on the floor while still attached. As she landed, her cloak turned yellow, and her hair turned green. She put a hand on her chin, directed her gaze ceilingward, and started rambling.
"Bubbles? No. Dil? No. Celeste? No. Keira? No."
Robin, having given up on any hope of normalcy, made a remark. "None of those are birds, are they? Maybe you need something like...Hawk, or Dove?"
"They're already taken," Cyborg quickly added.
"Wait!" Htor suddenly exclaimed. "How about...KESTREL? KESTREL shall be my localized name!"
Raven's psyche had chosen that exact moment to return. "Uhh...Sure. Now...what are you doing here again?" Raven had already determined, much to her own chagrin, that Kestrel was indeed an alternate universe's envisioning of...herself.
With a smile, Kestrel's coloring returned to pink-and-orange, and suddenly her hair formed into a spring and launched her into the air. She landed immediately in front of Raven, who instinctively took a step back.
Still bobbing in the air from the spring maneuver, Kestrel responded. "Well, my magnificently stoic sister, I'm here because Larry yelled for me. Sure, Larry bends reality as it suits him, but when he yells it's a colossal deal! And he called me because....Excuse me one minute." Her hair formed into a helicopter shape, and its rotations carried her into the air, and then towards Larry. "Hey, Larry, why'd you yell for me?"
Larry responded, "Because, Kestrel, our heroes need to get a creepy guy out of Starfire's mind, and I can't really do that, and they can't help me get in. But mindy stuff is your power!"
"Oh, thanks." She hovered back over to Raven. "I'm here because mindy stuff is my power!" she finished her response to Raven.
Robin stared in disbelief. "You have to be joking."
"Nope!" Larry and Kestrel simultaneously replied. Then they looked at each other with a grin. "Jinx!" they uttered simultaneously.
"Hey, what the—" came the corresponding voice.
"Wrong kind of jinx, sorry!" Larry quickly said before waving his magic finger and returning Jinx to...somewhere that wasn't the Tower.
"Dude," Beast Boy commented, "That wasn't even a cameo."
"She got off easy," Raven remarked.
"Wait," Beast Boy said, "I have an idea!"
Cyborg shook his head. "Here it comes...."
Beast Boy ignored him. "What if we take Control Freak out of Starfire's mind? Won't that be easier then some sort of fantastic voyage?"
"Hey, that's an idea!" Larry exclaimed while hopping between the ceiling and floor.
Surprisingly, Kestrel landed on the ground, her cloak and hair turned gray, and she covered her eyes with her hands, muttering "Don't need a trance don't need a trance don't need a—"
"Kestrel, we need a trance." Larry said.
Her scream of agony shook the entire Tower.
"I'm sorry, but we have to."
Raven was sure she'd regret this, but she had to ask. "What's so bad about this trance?"
"What happens when you achieve a meditative trance?" Kestrel asked in response.
It took Raven a second to grasp the answer. "Well...I find my center, my powers get under my conscious control again...."
"Lucky," Kestrel pouted.
"OK," Robin said, "Explain to me how this works."
A yellow-cloaked, green-haired Kestrel, sitting cross-legged on the table, provided the answer. "This," she said as a visible collection of hair strands arranged itself into a diagonal line, "is like Starfire's mindscape. This, " she said as another line of hair formed a diagonal in the opposite direction to form an 'X' shape, "is my quasi-structured meditative consciousness."
She pressed a cookie onto one of the lines, and it slowly rose along the line. "This Control Freak guy is a foreign object. So, I'm going to pull him out of there, by making my consciousness more natural for him to be in." As she said this, the cookie passed between the two hair lines, and jumped from one to the other. "That'll shove him into reality, where you...take care of his presence as you see fit."
"And you dislike this, why exactly?" Raven inquired.
"To make this state more natural, I have to establish a mindset focused around some facet of his mind that is foreign to Starfire's psyche. And...this mindset tends to adversely affect reality. And I won't be able to act normally until the trance is past."
"...in English?" Beast Boy asked.
Kestrel's cloak turned orange, her hair yellow. "Expect shit that be freaky," she said bluntly.
Robin sighed. "Let's just get this over with."
Kestrel turned gray again. "But...I don't like it! And what if I mess it up?"
Raven put her hand on her little counterpart's shoulder. It was difficult for her to isolate Kestrel's emotional state, but she recognized the gnaw of inadequacy. "Just do your best. That's all we ask."
Kestrel looked up at her. Her cloak-hair turned green-blue. "OK," she said, "here goes." Then she faced forward and closed her eyes. Her cloak turned blue, and her hair purple, perfectly matching Raven's own colors.
They could all feel her concentration, it gave the sensation of slight thickness to the air. A few seconds passed. Then a minute. Then....
"I don't see any evidence of him," Kestrel said, her eyes still closed.
"What do you need?" Raven asked.
"Starfire's eyes are stuck open, right? Get something in front of her that'll draw a reaction from this guy but not her."
The four Titans, and Larry, went up to the couch, trying to think of something to fit the request. Suddenly, Beast Boy's eyes shone like little stars.
"Aha!" he said as he turned on the TV mode of the glass window. The flicker of activation made way for a black screen.
"Great job," Cyborg sarcastically cheered.
"I'm getting something," Kestrel said. Then she took a deep breath. When she opened her eyelids, they were glowing blue. When she spoke next, it was with a lower voice, almost like an announcer.
"The makers of Azarath and Metrion are proud to introduce...."
Raven yelled as an unseen force thrust her next to the table Kestrel was situated on.
"....Zinthos," Kestrel said as a hand gestured towards Raven.
The rest of the conscious crew ran back to the table to see what exactly was going on.
"New and improved Zinthos gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. And because it's blue..."
Umpteen two-dimensional glowing arrows popped in and out of existence, pointing to Raven's cloak.
"...Zinthos goes with..."
While Kestrel, Larry and the Titans remained where they were, every other object and the background itself quickly zoomed away, passing solar systems and even galaxies; leaving them in the inky blackness of space.
A sudden flash of cyan light and the backdrop was as it should be, complete with objects.
"Zinthos isn't right for everyone, and may cause bloating..."
Beast Boy swelled up like a balloon.
Robin yelled in pain and clutched his right calf.
Larry looked on bemused as all of his hair fell away from his head. Raven shielded her eyes with her hand at the various spectacles.
Raven's hand turned transparent, offering her no further protection from the visual onslaught.
"...fits of rage..."
Robin was fuming, still holding his leg in agony.
"...and growth of additional eyes."
Miniature versions of Robin's mask sprouted all over Cyborg's body, causing him to fall over backwards from the sensory overload.
Beast Boy screamed as an unseen force pulled him on top of the table, then started crying as he was inexplicably morphed into an infant human, though still resembling a balloon. Kestrel's entire hair mass stretched towards him, then arced up on itself twice, forming the shape of a huge number three directly over him.
"Children under 3 should not be exposed to Zinthos. Do not get Zinthos wet...."
A jet of water projected itself from the sink to Beast Boy's face, pushing him off the table and somehow reverted him to his normal age.
"...and never feed it after midnight."
Beast Boy turned greener then usual green, and noisily vomited behind a chair. Whatever had swelled in his stomach was now on the floor.
"If you experience trouble meditating, stop saying 'Zinthos' and consult your ancient scrolls immediately."
Legions of sheets of brown, brittle paper fell from the ceiling. Each had the word 'ANCIENT' stamped on it in huge, capital letters.
Control Freak popped into the Tower, having been pulled out of Starfire's mental facilities.
"Zinthos," he concluded. "Wait, how'd I get...."
His voice trailed off as he saw the horror around him. A hyperoptic Cyborg, an agonized Robin, a pile of Beast Boy vomit. He squealed loudly, then fainted, hitting the floor with a thud.
Raven stared, in total disbelief, for several seconds. "Well that's one way to do it."
Kestrel blinked, clearing the glow from her eyes, and made a prolonged gasp of sheer horror at what she had wrought, as her cloak and hair immediately turned gray. This time, she was the petrified one.
"YAAAY!" Larry exclaimed, bouncing happily. "Kestrel did it!"
"Yes, she did," Raven said. "Now...could you help me clean this up?"
"Uhh...sorry about all that," a pink Kestrel apologized.
"Well," Cyborg said, "it's all fixed now, and Starfire's OK; that's what matters."
"Yes, friendly miniature doppelganger," a recovered Starfire said, "I am most grateful that you came to assist me." She and Kestrel hugged, Kestrel using her hair since her arms weren't sufficient to hold around Starfire.
"But I have to admit," Cyborg commented, "sprouting legions of functioning eyes is probably the most horrifying thing I'll ever experience."
An awkward silence fell for a few seconds, before Beast Boy broke it.
"At least we got Control Freak back in jail where he belongs."
Starfire abruptly stood fully upright. "No! He is the muffin of the stud—" She quickly covered her mouth, eyes wide and gasping in horror at the words that escaped her mouth. They were certainly not her own.
Her scream reverberated throughout the Tower.
Robin, Raven, Larry and Kestrel looked at each other. "Looks like we're not finished," Raven said.
- THE END -