Hey I'm approaching 100 reviews for the very first time ever! Hooray! Reviewer #100 gets to be my new best friend! Lol!
At the end of a fierce battle, androids strewn all around, Batman and Robin stood with dignified poise throughout their fatigue. Batgirl and Beast Boy however lay sprawled out on the grass panting like sled dogs run ragged on the snow. Already the Dynamic Duo was on their different communicators, working out the finer details of the case, arranging things and closing it up with the League and Commissioner Gordon. Neither mimicked the other; it was just a natural reaction and one they tackled separately.
Batgirl, a trained gymnast, was more in shape and so was the first to recover. She sprung up with a sudden burst of energy and slugged Beast Boy in the arm, almost hard enough to paralyze it.
"Oww! What gives?"
"You scrawny little dork!" she yelled in harassment, wanting to hit him more but he backed out of her range and she hadn't recovered enough to follow. "You almost bit my face off!
"That?" the boy grumbled, rubbing his arm. "Oh please, I knew exactly where you were and the range of my-"
Every word she spoke grew higher in volume and intensity. "You do NOT transform into a T-Rex and scare the living spit out of your teammate ON YOUR FIRST FIGHT TOGETHER, STUPID!"
Suddenly a few feet's distance didn't seem safe enough. Still, it wasn't like Beast Boy wasn't tempered to being yelled at all the time by his regular teammates. "As if you scare me!" he huffed. "The girls on my team shoot laser death beams and scary dark energy from their hands!"
"You do not want to get on my bad side, Greenie, powers or no," she said like she'd make him regret underestimating her. "Aside from that, I'm the one here who has solo experience on a city and doesn't have the lamest superhero outfit ever!"
"It's a stand-in!" he fired back over the outfit he hated just as much. He got back on the subject with fire. "Fine! Maybe I'll just leave the bad guys to their thing next time!"
"You do that! I had everything under control!"
"Yeah right, if I hadn't been there to save you-!"
"I would've thought of something else!" she came back. "You're the fanboy here; you should know that we Bats have our utility belts and are always prepared for anything!"
Beast Boy crossed his arms. "Except for taking off your cape so it didn't become your downfall."
"Guys," tried Robin with a sigh and he was immediately told by both parties to stuff it. They both kept arguing on until Batman himself broke it up. Neither dared to pursue it any further when it was him and there was a little hint of fear there instead of friendship.
"I won't argue with you over assignments," Batman told his ward with a little harshness to his tone before he addressed them all. "Batgirl, I want you to erase all evidence of the alien technology present. Leaving it be would be asking a tech-savvy criminal to recreate it. Robin and Beast Boy, now that Cherrywood Academy is vacant I want you to investigate the grounds for any further evidence that will help us locate the missing students. I'm returning to Birnamwood to calm the masses and to relay information to the headmaster. Break."
His long black cape whisked over the ground like a living shadow and he was off without another word.
"Hmmph," Beast Boy grumbled a little, but only when the Bat disappeared over the top of the hill. "I'll bet if we were working with Flash or Green Lantern we'd get a "Good job team" or something."
Batgirl shrugged to that but just because the boss had told her to quit didn't mean she was completely finished. Before the boys could head out to the girl's academy she pulled a certain device from her belt. "Hey Beast Boy," she said in a mocking tone. "Watch this!"
The green Titan turned and he saw a gun in her hands so small it should've been a toy. It was made up of glass vial the size of a ping-pong ball and filled with a strange shimmering indigo liquid. He was expecting bubbles or something from the wimpy thing but when she pulled the trigger…
With the power of an explosion a long whip of fire blasted out from the nozzle and it consumed a whole pile of androids. The violet flames melted the metal there on the spot and Batgirl's expression couldn't have been smugger.
Beast Boy's shoulders went limp as he stared blankly at the scene. He snapped back out of it so fast he might've gotten whiplash. "She gets a flamethrower too!? One drop and it has all that power!?"
Seeing as his partner would've complained over it for several minutes, Robin headed off the problem by dragging the other boy back by the scruff of his shirt in the direction of the girl's academy. It may've gotten them moving in the right direction but it didn't spare Robin any of Beast Boy's griping and he silently cursed his former teammate for ever putting the idea in his head.
"Can I get a flamethrower for Christmas?" Beast Boy pleaded, looking to Robin, finally noticing that his feet were moving backward.
Robin was as serious as Death itself. "Not then. Not ever."
"Aww, why not?" And he picked up his feet now to walk. "Batgirl has one, why can't-?"
"Because I don't want to wake up one morning in a ten foot deep crater where the tower used to be!"
"I wouldn't do that!"
"Yes you would!"
It was an argument doomed on his side from the moment Beast Boy asked but he still continued to pester Robin about it, not because he'd have ever thought that his stingy leader would cave in but to distract him from getting all dark and moody in that he was again being ordered around by Batman and following those orders like an underling.
Robin pulled out his scanner and was the first to enter one of the school's main doors. Beast Boy was a little after for having to retrieve the pajamas he'd left behind again when he'd transformed into a turtle and he went off in the opposite direction. This time they weren't groping blindly in the dark for any clues. This time their scanner's frequencies were wired to pick up any hint of the alien technology they'd presently uncovered, anything that shouldn't be there and they had free reign in the empty building.
Beast Boy moved the scanner round the empty corridors and the readings were only moderate near the dorms. He rounded a corner and the scales dropped to zero. It was like playing a very long, very boring game of Hot/Cold but just as Beast Boy was starting to go to auto-pilot the readings gave a high pitched beeping noise.
They had spiked into the orange zone.
Later than he should've, Beast Boy realized enough that their mission still wasn't technically over as long as he was still waving a scanner. He re-activated the generator rings and disguised himself again as a normal teenager but now that he had a trail he didn't stop to do so and kept running as he did. He made a left turn at the upcoming fork in the hall and it was the right turn to make as the scanner practically screamed that he was right on top of the signal.
Three doors were in the range of the red readings, any further and they turned back to orange. Since the whole school had been infiltrated it would've been the easiest thing to do to just take over one of these less used classrooms near the back of the building. He opened them both but all that was strange inside was a teacher with a sense of humor that had put a bowtie on the model skeleton.
He opened the last door. Any thoughts that a supply closet was an awfully lame place for the makeshift headquarters of a manufactured invasion force left his mind when he found a staircase leading down to a basement instead. Beast Boy no longer required the scanner so he set it down. He descended the steps and came to another door.
Once he unlocked it he praised his quick thinking to re-activate the rings.
About fourteen students were imprisoned in a three-walled glass cell pressed up against the wall. They were in all stages of dress: pajamas and uniforms, whatever time of the day each of them had been taken. They all sat without energy, even Chad and Bradley, the only boys of the group, hadn't the will to continue punching out the weakest wall past the several bruises it already had. Miserable, they'd resigned themselves to their fate along with the girls.
"Brooke…" Beast Boy breathed out, a little taken back on seeing her shiny head of chestnut hair. She'd pulled her knees to her chest and a look of forlorn pulled at her pretty face as she waited to be shipped off to an alien world like all her hapless classmates before her.
Beast Boy stared at her in a rather obvious way that should've earned some sort of reaction from the girl and it was only then that he found that he hadn't needed his quick thinking about the rings at all. The glass was a one way mirror and none of the prisoners inside could see him anyway.
There was strange technology lined up against the walls, computers, teleportation devices and other things occupying the spaces in the shelves that school supplies once did. There were deactivated androids lined up that had escaped Robin's virus that were like metal zombies waiting to return to life but Beast Boy ignored the technology that Cyborg would have adored and went for the axe from the emergency fire kit on the wall.
The cell appeared to be soundproof as well but the students still jumped off the walls and fell over one another in shock on feeling the vibrations coursing through the walls. The glass wasn't any thicker than a pencil but it held strong wherever Beast Boy bashed it. It wasn't going to yield to him; there would be no weak spots in the structure so he instead aimed for the lock. Thankfully it was a retro padlock rather than a coded lock, probably to cut unnecessary extra spending when they did the job just as well.
The students all scrambled away from the door in the little space they were provided. They couldn't have any idea of what could be happening without sight or sound to aid them.
The lock jangled around, every hit scarring its metal deeper, but Beast Boy kept accidentally hitting the little thing in different areas, opening new cuts instead of deepening previous ones.
Finally his hit struck true and the lock clattered to the ground. He opened the door and, as soon as the students could see something other than glass in several days, they all rushed out less like a group of pampered heirs and more like a horde of wild animals. Beast Boy was the dividing line and the students passed by either side of him, the girls all giving their thanks and Chad and Bradley reluctantly doing the same in respects to their cellmates, but there was one person that went neither right nor left.
Beast Boy suddenly had to rethink his footing to stay standing when Brooke pounced on him with all the power her slight frame possessed.
"Uh…hey…" It was all he could lamely stammer in such close vicinity. The last girl that had hugged him so determinedly had been a pig-tailed five year old bursting with gratitude for him having rescued her from an apartment fire. Little Kari hadn't colored his cheeks the bright pink they were now.
"You saved me!" Brooke cried out, burying her face into her shoulder. "I thought I'd be shipped away and never see Earth again but you saved me!"
"N-no…problem…" he said, regaining his speech a little but he could only sacrifice his comfort on the matter and let her keep at it when he heard her sniff, felt her shake slightly. "Didn't think we'd end up here like this at the café that night, did you?"
His attempt at levity seemed to have little effect and she continued to carry on.
The next few things happened in rapid succession. The first student to reach the door grunted and strained but could not open the door despite that it had no lock. The two big jocks tried knocking it down but it bested them too. Noticing their struggle made Beast Boy pull away from Brooke a little to see and in that small movement her hold over him broke and his senses were no longer distracted.
Brooke had no scent.
Something nasty spasmed in his chest at the revelation but too late did Beast Boy move to shove her off of him and there was a sharp prick of metal in his neck. An unknown serum had been instantly been absorbed into his bloodstream and that was all the android needed to do. She let him proceed with shoving her off him the second after.
"Well," The girl's voice now rang in a pitiless way, her eyes dry, not programmed to cry. "We certainly didn't get the smarter of the two."
The students stared on in rising realization that could only sink in at half speed that one of their cellmates had been an android guard all along and not one had ever suspected anything different. Many tried ramming the door when Brooke's hands broke apart into long daggers.
Beast Boy clutched his neck where the injection still stung. "What did you just inject me with!?"
"Oh I don't think you would be able to repeat it back to me even if I told you," she replied as the rest of her human disguise continued to recede back and reform to reveal her true form. "Did you really think my master would leave his shipments completely unguarded for you to liberate? I have been prepared for the worst case scenario from day one. And as for rest of you," she said, addressing the students who were all now trying to break the door in earnest, "you're not getting through that door without my permission. I detonated a capsule that melted the metal into the frame."
When they were made aware of that the students presently tried to get as far from the android as the cramped basement allowed. Two of the girls however, taking courage from one another, came out from the group in a burst to grab their rescuer, haul him to safety.
"I don't need it!" he said with a slight bit too much harshness. Beast Boy pulled his arms away freeing himself as even after only a minute the serum was making him feel like he'd just gotten off the world's sickest tilt-a-whirl. He constantly pivoted his feet to keep from falling over but still refused to be pulled back into the safety of the group.
"Get over here, idiot!" Bradley yelled at him, at the front of the group to protect the girls. "That thing's going to kill you!"
Meanwhile his friend Chad rallied the girls who weren't going to return to imprisonment quietly and had them grab any crude weapon in sight. The android had spinning blades, laser beams and super speed and that was matched up against with only the blunt objects a caveman would use. These soft-faced, privileged students would surely lose and fast and with his role as a superhero Beast Boy couldn't let them get hurt.
"Get back in the cell!" Their very prison was the only safe place remaining.
His demand raised a mighty din of complaints and indignation.
Beast Boy had spent enough time with Robin that he instinctively projected the other boy's no-nonsense level of authority into his voice, one that promised unforgiving retribution if he wasn't heeded. "GO! I can handle this!"
His tone was intimidating enough to silence many of the girls but Chad and Bradley weren't convinced that the scrawny geek they'd picked on would survive. Bullying was one thing but letting someone die for them was another and they stepped forward, cracking their knuckles. They were pulled back by several girls so they couldn't pull free without making an ugly scene and as soon as they were behind the cell door Beast Boy returned the strip of metal remaining from the lock into the slot so no one could change their mind half way through.
Beast Boy took a wide stance so that his feet wouldn't trip him as he squared off against the robot. When the world around him was melting like a painting he couldn't focus on the specific features of her whirring blade-hands but could only focus on her outline and her exact shade of color that was different from the background.
"I think you've got about three minutes until you're floored," Android-Brooke commented dispassionately as she took a casual fighting stance in return. She nodded her head back to certain cabinet behind her. "The antidote is a bright blue liquid labeled with the number five. You'll need exactly half of the contents in the vial to negate the effects."
She crouched now in preparation to attack, her bladed hand whirring in anticipation.
Beast Boy grated his teeth, both to fight back the effects of the sedative overpowering him fast and that she had the nerve to play with him in such a way when she was at such an unfair advantage. There would be no backup this time, not when Robin was on the other side of the academy by now and he had only a few minutes instead of several.
She came swooping in like a blurry phantom caught between planes and, relying mostly on the sound of the blades, Beast Boy stumbled out of the way. When she was still running forward in momentum he changed into a crocodile to get down out of her immediate strike zone and he snapped those powerful jaws down where he thought her feet were, for once they chomped down nothing could open them again.
The android leapt into the air before he could snag her and her movements were far too fast and agile for the human she was impersonating. She wasn't going for a critical hit and rather landed on his tail instead, causing him to spasmodically change back to human to escape the pressure.
She was right there before him and wouldn't be in the following second so while he was still conscious Beast Boy lunged for the exact spot on the left leg where the computer chips laid. He punched a hole an inch deep into the metal flesh but instead of the android crumpling to the floor like her sisters had before her she simply gave a crooked smirk like it was a big joke she was only waiting to unveil.
"I'm on a different motherboard than the others and a different model," she informed him as she lifted him off the floor with a vicious upper cut to his chin. "You don't know where my chip is."
Beast Boy landed several feet away. With the pain exploding in his jaw and everything blurred now past all recognition, his consciousness was draining away fast and would be gone in seconds without the antidote.
He looked blearily to the location of the cabinet and he yanked on his scalp harshly enough to pull out hair, anything that would give him a few more seconds of consciousness. Beast Boy gritted his teeth; he had to close his eyes, fight his dizziness, to coordinate in his head where to place his hands and feet just to be able to stand.
He only had enough left in him for one final attack.
Robin had thoroughly scanned through a fourth of the school for any readings when Batgirl finished with her assignment and helped him wrap up the rest. They both came up negative and met up again outside the dormitories, each shaking their head at the unsaid question.
"Looks like you guys called me back here unnecessarily after all," Robin teased a little when Batgirl could've uncovered the case much faster on her own at Cherrywood if only the evidence hadn't been at the other academy.
Batgirl shrugged like she didn't really care either way. "Whatever makes you come home, Robbie. You make sure you stay in touch this time."
"Mmm-hmm," he said dutifully. "I know the magnitude of that new "toy" of yours but you finished your assignment awfully fast, are you sure you-?"
She rolled her eyes, expecting it when she was and always would be the most junior member of the Gotham team. "Am I sure that none of those crawling bits decided to burrow away in the forest before we iced them? Yes, I'm sure! Just because I'm not a freak about my job like you and the Bat doesn't mean I'm not careful about it." She looked round the courtyard. "Where's the green guy?"
"He should still have a bit more investigating to do. I was going to go help him take care of the rest of the school and B-!"
To spare Beast Boy's identity, Batgirl cut Robin off immediately when she saw that Beast Boy was in his human form and being supported by a couple students through the doors. He swayed and he looked as if he would surely collapse if either of the girls were to loosen their grip. Robin and Batgirl rushed over at once but couldn't treat him differently than any other civilian.
"Are the rest of you are okay?" Batgirl checked though the students only looked a little worn from being prisoners for days on end. "What happened to this boy? Is there anything still chasing you?"
"No, we're all fine," said the girl Rowan, stepping up, and it was a little disconcerting to see her real self when Robin had only just decapitated her double. "We don't know how he did it but Gar took down that guard robot all by himself."
Another girl piped up, "We gave him the antidote to the serum he was injected with but he's still a little woozy."
"He's going to be okay, isn't he?" one of the girls supporting him asked in worry.
"We'll take care of him," Robin said a little too quickly but none of the students noticed; seeing his friend sagging there with such little energy when he was usually bursting with it bothered him more than he could show. He told the students to head over to the boy's academy where things were being put in order and he relieved the girls supporting Beast Boy just as soon as he could.
Robin was aided by Batgirl and they helped Beast Boy sit down without stumbling, laid him up against the trunk of a tree.
Robin was a little harsh but not because he was mad. "Why didn't you call for backup?"
"No time," Beast Boy mumbled back vaguely and he was only looking in Robin's general direction, unable it seemed to pinpoint his exact location. "S'fine, all I need to do is sleep it off." Even just saying that aloud, the boy started to take his own advice.
"Batman should be wrapping up the case back at the academy," Batgirl commented as she parked it beside Beast Boy. The offhand way she phrased it suggested that if Robin left now he could still get in and close his case, prove to Batman that his presence was never really required there at all.
His masked eyes did stray towards the boy's academy in a few moments consideration but he sat down beside his teammates instead. Batgirl smiled a little smile of approval for his decision to stay with his ill friend. The two former teammates hadn't really had a chance to talk in the two years they'd been apart so Batgirl started up conversation on what had been going on in his absence while Robin detailed what it was like being the leader of a team. There had been bad blood between them before but that seemed to fade away when they talked about the crime-fighting that had originally brought them together.
"Mmmm," Beast Boy groaned from up against the tree, drawing their attention.
"You okay, B?" Robin asked. "We should really get a blood sample to make sure-"
'BB?" Batgirl wondered over his sudden outburst.
Beast Boy opened his eyes again. Before they had just been a little blurry and out of focus but now they were downcast and not making direct contact with either of them. "There were hundreds of women and girls in that school that were captured, a few guys from our school, and they were all sold across the galaxy like cattle. I only saved fourteen of them…just fourteen. The rest of them…" he trailed off and his guilt spread to the others like a contagious disease, "what must they be going through?"
"I couldn't have known that I'd given you the wrong academy," Batgirl said but her conviction was weak even though her words were true.
"I should've been paying more attention to the way those two androids were acting at that café," Robin admitted, sharing a part of that guilt. He'd just been focusing on everything else that night, their false suspects, the wasabi burning his tongue and of course the fiasco with the Penguin. It would be a poor excuse to give to Batman after all he'd done to make it on his own, that the real culprits had been right under his nose and he'd never even suspected. He'd jumped the gun on this one and had been horribly shot.
"If only we'd been paying more attention…" Beast Boy trailed on gloomily, "we could've saved more of them."
"B, this operation most likely is spread out to other academies across the nation," Batgirl said in effort to lift their spirits a little. "Any operation with Renwei's name on it will be stripped and searched and taken down immediately. The Justice League will get the leads, they'll track the missing students down and return them to their families. The League never fails at things like this."
"But I did," Beast Boy murmured almost too low for them to pick up and Robin wilted a little too, feeling similarly.
If he were to stay there sitting on the grass for much longer Robin's mood might have sunk lower going over all the things he should've seen and done as a capable leader, the perfect path the Bat would've taken without a second thought. He got up and he helped his friend get to his feet.
"Come on, Beast Boy," Robin said as he pressed the button on his communicator to signal his fifth of the T-Ship. "This is the League's mission now and we have Jump to look after so let's just go home. You can ride in the backseat this time."
"Thanks, man," Beast Boy breathed. His head was bowed and not visible as Robin helped him walk and so Robin missed Beast Boy's lips pull back in a wicked grin and the red glow that burned from his eyes. "Beast Boy" had the appearance of a normal peach-skinned human but his holographic generator rings were nowhere to be found.
And that's all she wrote! Thanks for reading everyone and stayed tuned for the sequel!