At first, Robin wanted to refuse it because nothing got his obsessive compulsive disorder and stubborness going like talking to the Bat.
"Kids", he grumbled to himself several times that morning till the others were smirking and glancing at each other.
"Kids" while checking out the interpol communiques from that morning.
"Kids! Like what, meddling kids? Do we tag along with Scooby and Shaggy?" he muttered while typing out the case file for the previous night's near waste of time apprehension of some two bit crook who'd barely whipped up a uniform in the course of pretending to have powers. "Kids?!" while walking through the kitchen with a clipboard taking inventory of what needed to be bought.
The others all knew to let him get it out of his system. If Robin had just started to fixate on something, trying to stop him then only got him more obsessed about whatever it was, no matter how tiny. It was like some sort of steam heat system of something that, once started, was going to build up to a certain pressure no matter what. Sometimes, for a gag, Beast Boy or Jinx would intentionally get Robin more wound up and he'd find himself shouting at the top of his lungs that, no, he would not increase each Titan's monthly allotment of paper clips!!
This particular jag had lasted from just after 10 in the morning, when Batman had appeared on the giant screen in the communications center with his offer, till lunch time. Finally, as everyone was sitting down for lunch, Kid Flash, who was sitting down for his second lunch that day, glanced around at the others with a raised eyebrow. What do you think? Now?
Raven nodded slightly as did Cyborg.
Kid Flash zipped over beside his pal, who was still muttering to himself while cutting up a sandwich on the counter beside the refrigerator.
"Um, Dick. Do you really need to cut that sandwich into thirty seconds?"
Robin looked down at his handiwork as if seeing it for the first time.
"Um, small bites are better for you. More um more complete digestion that way."
"Uh huh. Listen," he began, putting an arm over his pal's shoulder. "I know you don't like the way the offer was made but we could use the League's old transporter. After all, not all of us are super speedsters who make a mockery of time and space."
"And good taste," added a voice from the table behind them just as Kid Flash was settling into a self-congratulatory grin. He looked over his shoulder and saw Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy and Cyborg all looking at Jinx who was eating her own sandwich with an expression of consummate innocence.
He turned back to Robin. "The team can use it," he continued while Robin popped one of thirty two sandwich squares into his mouth. A red gloved hand darted over and took five of them.
Robin glared. "Fine. Fine. We'll take their old static location transporter unit."
"Boo ya!" came a shout from the table behind them. "I can't wait to take apart all that sweet League tech."
"It's like getting a 14K dial up internet connection compared to their dsl line," grumbled Robin. "Their hand me downs! That's what we're getting, their hand me downs."
"What's this all about, little bat?" asked Jinx. "Your pride or doing the work?"
As the others all stared, Robin sighed and nodded. "You're right. You're right. We can use it. All the entry and destination tubes the League used to use are still there in every major city.
"Paris, for instance," suggested Jinx looking not at Robin but at Raven and Starfire. I can get there now," she said turning to Kid Flash, "but it's hell on my hair."
"It's not a toy for recreational use," complained Robin. "It's a serious device and every one of us is going to go through the 8 hour training course to be certified to use it."
Groans filled the room.
"Jeez Rob," chuckled Beast Boy. "That Wildcat dude was running it the last time I visited the League and he's not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed."
It was a few days before the machinery arrived at Titans Tower. It came in a couple refrigerator sized console pieces, both speckled with lights, and buttons and each with a display screen. And there were several thick cables of varying colors that connected to two different floor to ceiling see through tubes, with about a third of each tub cut out and with gray metal disks covering the tops and bottoms of the tubes.
Cyborg was in charge of the installation. Robin assisted him. The others all helped out a bit but not for very long. It took him a couple days. Finally, one morning at breakfast, he was grinning ear to ear, barely keeping from shouting the news out as everyone munched away.
"It's done! It's ready to go!" he announced when Kid Flash had finished washing everyone's dishes in a half second.
"Our transporter, friend Cyborg?"
"Yup. Our transporter . . !" he beamed.
He might have said 'our' but to the others it came out a lot like 'my' as he displayed the usual pride of ownership that he did with the T-Cars and everything about the Tower, shooing Beast Boy away from sitting on the console and refusing to let Starfire put her bowl of popped eyeballs popcorn anywhere on it.
He said they would demonstrate that every one of the 24 transporter tubes in the U.S. and around the world was working perfectly and synched up with the new Titans Tower location. Kid Flash interrupted him noting that Cyborg hadn't said anything about testing all of them. All 24 said Cyborg as Kid Flash grumbled about being taken for granted.
One after another, Kid Flash raced to some american or foreign city's police headquarters, or embassy building and then spoke to Cyborg on his communicator. First, as previously agreed, they put a single rose in a slender vase of water on the transporter platform of that city and Cyborg went through the initialization sequence, checked the display console and then, voila, a slender vase of water with a single red rose would start to appear in the air in the Tower's transporter tube. After about two seconds each time, it was fully there. Cyborg would call to Kid Flash on his communicator. "Success!" Kid Flash would step into the tube and then Cyborg would go through the initialization sequence, press a certain green button and Kid Flash would start to faintly appear in the transporter tube in the Tower.
It was like a magic act the first few times. The others, especially Starfire, applauded. By the tenth time, from Rome, the attention of the others was wandering. By the 15th time, from Tokyo, Raven had gone off to read, Jinx had taken T-Car2 off to her mother's farm in the hills outside Jump City and Starfire had flown off somewhere else. As Kid Flash was being zapped back from the 21st city, Sydney, a call came into the communications console from Interpol. Robin raced off to answer it and found himself assuring some international cop type that there was nothing to worry about. The reports of a costumed figure using the recently neglected Justice League transporter tubes was nothing to worry about. No no no! It was Kid Flash and the tubes were all connected to the Tower now. That's right -sigh- a sort of hand me down.
But, as usual with these things, a call that could have taken a minute took nearly a half hour as other officials got on the line and Robin had to read off multiple security clearance codes to prove that he was actually Robin. "Four nine two whiskey bravo delta six eight two five three one tango foxtrot eight nine two three . . . "
To Cyborg's surprise, the only Titan who stayed to the end was Beast Boy. The verdant shape shifter was watching more and more closely as Cyborg processed each transport till, by the next to last one, he thought he had pretty much mastered it. He moved to stand right beside Cyborg at one console and raised an eyebrow expectantly.
"You wanna do one, BB?"
Beast Boy smiled. "Damn right. I wanna do this before Robin does and treat him the way he treats me when he shows me how to do something."
Cyborg chuckled. He knew what he meant.
"You think you know how to do it?"
"Sure. I've been watching you. It's easy."
"Oh, it's easy, huh? How do you start?"
Beast Boy reached forward. "First, you push that handle foward to the-"
Cyborg grabbed Beast Boy's hand, stopping him.
"First, you call Kid Flash and see if he's ready in Stockholm."
"Oh. Yeah. I knew that."
Beast Boy whipped out his communicator and pressed *KF. A second later, the screen showed Kid Flash's face.
"Gar? What's up?"
"What's up is I'm doing this next one."
Kid Flash's expression immediately betrayed anxiety.
"Uh, this thing's gonna take apart every molecule in my body, convert 'em to electromagnetic energy, and then put 'em back together half way across the world. I'd really rather Cyborg be in charge."
"Thanks a lot, Wally! Thanks for that vote of confidence. I thought you might treat me with a little respect but maybe all that hanging around with Robin's rubbing off on you. Thanks for the positive reinforcement, speedster. Thanks a lot. I-"
"Fine! Fine, Gar! Do it!"
Cyborg peeked his head over Beast Boy's shoulder. "I'll be supervising him, Wally."
Kid Flash was seen sighing and nodding contentedly.
"Okay! The rose first!" shouted Beast Boy.
Kid Flash stepped forward in one of the restricted access rooms in the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm and placed the vase with the still fresh rose in the transporter tube.
"Okay," said Beast Boy under his breath as he turned and stared at the console full of controls again.
Step by step, Cyborg questioned Beast Boy and one after another, Beast Boy called out the correct sequence of 8 steps finishing with "Check the console display for error messages annnnnnnnnnnd . . there aren't any so . . start, right?"
Cyborg nodded. Beast Boy pressed the green button the console flashed a whole series of messages too fast to read about the status of the process and then the slender vase and rose started to appear in the transporter tube. And then they were there.
"Boo yah, Greenie! Good job!" Cyborg high fived the shape shifter knocking the 155 pounder back in the process.
Beast Boy grimaced and rubbed that hand on his hip then pressed *KF on his communicator with his other hand and eagerly shouted "Success".
"Okay, I'm in the tube," said Kid Flash.
Cyborg again stood beside Beast Boy and had him call out each step before executing it.
". . check the console display for error messages . . none . . so start annnnnnnd"
Beast Boy pressed the green button and a momen later a shimmering version of Kid Flash started to appear in the transporter tube. A second later, Kid Flash was there. He ran out of the tube and patted Beast Boy on the back. So did Cyborg, lightly.
Kid Flash pulled out a piece of paper from under one red glove and pronounced, "Okay . . next up . . Nairobi." A second later, he was gone, no doubt sprinting half way around the world. Cyborg had considered sending Kid Flash out on the transporter from the Tower to another city at a couple locations after successfully pulling him back to the Tower. But they wanted to let him make sure there were no problems at each transporter tube before trying anything, so he had to sprint out to each city first.
A few seconds later, he was in the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and pressed *BB on his communicator. "I'm here, Gar. I'll put the flower in now."
Like clockwork, Beast Boy operated the controls, calling out each step before executing it, even though he practically felt like a child being asked to read off the alphabet at this point.
Cyborg nodded like a proud father or at least older brother at Gar's deft handling of the transporter controls and Kid Flash sprinted out to the last city, Paris.
"Way to go pretty boy."
Gar half scowled and half smiled. He wanted to be angry at being called that but he loved being six feet tall now and considered model material. He was still trying to scowl more when Robin called Cyborg from the communications center on the other side of the 14th floor, something about the Justice League having sent in a code message officially saying all the static location transporter tubes were off line but that they hadn't sent interpol a re-activate message in code.
Cyborg shook his head in disgust and marched off muttering something about bullshit protocols but stopping at the doorway to ask Beast Boy, "You got this under control?"
The shape shifter nodded, his expression almost offended. Cyborg marched off to find Robin and just as Beast Boy returned his gaze to the transporter console, Kid Flash checked in on the communicator. "I'm here in Paris, but, um, there was a squall over the Atlantic. I dropped the flower and the vase. Could we just wrap this up, just zap me."
"Sure," said Beast Boy.
"I'm ready," said Kid Flash.
And then Beast Boy's communicator sounded that particular low tone beep that meant it was a call from outside that had been given special reroute status by the Titan recipient. Beast Boy's eyes lit up. He cleared his throat and adopted his most suave, double oh Logan, tone of voice.
"Gar Logan, male model, here."
Paris was different.
Unlike all the other countries, the French wouldn't let the Justice League put a transporter tube in the American Embassy. They insisted that it be put in police headquarters, the Surete's headquarters. They couldn't actually have done anything if the League had simply set up the transporter tube in the embassy but they made a big squawk that the League wasn't supposed to be aligned with any particular country. Batman wanted to put it in a McDonald's on the Champs Elysee at that point but Superman and some others outvoted him and agreed to the French terms.
Kid Flash saw that the address in Paris wasn't the embassy but Surete Headquarters, but thought nothing of it. What could ever happen in a police headquarters building?
Red X grinned beneath his skull mask. Was there any place in the world easier to rob than a police station? Every fat deskbound doughnut eater, oops, croissant eater, thought that a bunch more lazy lard asses like him guaranteed the safety of these places. What a frigging joke! As yet another fat gendarme waddled past, he shook his head. Note to self. Put a bullet in your head if you ever allow yourself to get anywhere near that overweight. God! What good is a cop that fat? To protect and to marinate! God.
If you were a high end jeweler who had a diamond worth several million dollars like, say, the panthere rose diamond, you had the damn door knob sized thing in a safe inside a vault behind locked gates, motion detection systems, vibration detection systems, multiple 24/7/365 security cameras and guards patrolling at irregular intervals outside the place. You put some work into protecting your $14.7 million diamond.
Even then, a top notch guy like Litton might spend weeks timing the guards, and coming up with work arounds to get past all the other systems and drill your vault and safe doors to make off with the thing.
Red X smiled beneath his skull mask. Litton. He liked his work. He'd worked with him on that Berlin job. What a sweet swipe that was!
But even a pro like Litton who worked with other people could get screwed by those other people fucking up. Red X nodded to himself as another slack faced gendarme walked right past him, nearly elbowing him in his oh so toned abs without seeing him.
Gotta love the cloaking feature.
Some idiot who barely did anything for Litton, sat in a freaking car outside for god's sake, got nabbed and a day later the stupid french cops had the diamond. They didn't get Litton but they got the huge chunk of ice from its temporary hiding place.
Never gonna happen to me, Red X reiterated to himself. I am always working alone. Always.
But cops didn't protect things like top end jewelers or banks did. They had the diamond in a safe any idiot safe cracker could beat in a minute. They thought it couldn't be taken because it was in this building with all these gendarmes including one leaning on the counter at the lockup.
Red X smiled under his mask, recalling how he walked right in past the guy at the counter, with the cloaking feature of his suit on. Oh, it had taken him a minute to open the Surete's safe at the back of the room. He'd tell that to the old safe cracker who gave him lessons. He could hear him now. "A minute to crack a St. Pierre 621?! What were you doin', scratching yer balls for 45 seconds?!?!" Ahhh, the old guy was fun to talk to. What a great guy. Not like those NSA assholes.
Red X smirked under his skull mask as a couple more gendarmes went right past him in the hallway. Oh, how fun it would be talking to spook number one and spook number two. It was loads of fun playing innocent with them, especially right after a performance, still in costume. That really freaked them out, that they coudn't intimidate a guy dressed like that. Why couldn't they wait, anyway? They had to talk to him while he was still a prince?
You did that! You did that and we know it! We know it! Don't bullshit us, Lee! You did it and we're not gonna stand for it!
"Did what? What are you talking about?"
Everyone's part was as ritualized as kabuki theater by now. We didn't give you carte blanche to do whatever you want, Lee! You've done some great work for us, Lee, but we weren't trying to let some kind of super thief loose on the world! We've gotta bring you in!
"Nope. And don't try and make a move on me section chief Carreker. This conversation's been recorded, too. Anything happens to me . . "
"Why, you pretty boy son of a bitch!
" . . the same 6 lawyers, whose names you don't know, will-"
"You pretty boy son of a bitch. We made you. We set you up! We-"
Red X tired of recalling and predicting the never changing argument. He winked one eye and the time, 5:07, showed in red on the inside of the right side lens of his mask, invisible to the gendarmes still waddling past. Cops were fat everywhere. A few more minutes and the change of shift congestion of the hallways would be over and he could jog right out of this place with the panthere rose diamond.
And then the gendarme with the dog came by. Red X gritted his teeth. He was a cat person. Could the stupid mutt tell there was a cat person there when he couldn't see anything. He sure smelled something, though. He had his nose lifted and almost pressed to Red X's crotch. Then the damn dog started growling and barking. And just as Fido was really going nuts, the alarm sounded. Gendarmes started waddling frantically in every direction.
It still seemed like escape would be easy till that especially fat one with a platter in his hand, came toward them, making his way down the hallway. Red X shook his invisibly cloaked head looking at the guy. Bouillabaisse was supposed to be in two separate platters. This fat slob cop had it all in one, one big messy fish stew. You're a poor excuse for a frenchman, Pierre.
But if Red X had contempt for the guy's culinary sense it paled in comparison to his feelings about the guy's clumsiness. He tripped and slammed into the gendarme with the dog and threw the whole platter of bouillabaisse onto X. Now, there was something to back up the dog's psycho reaction. There was the outline of a slender athletic guy where there had apparently been no one standing there.
This was too obvious even for cops to miss. "Sacre bleu! Qu'est-ce que c'est?!"
A couple of them dove at him but X jumped over them, so much more agile than them, and started sprinting down the hallway. One of them blew his whistle and shouted for the others to stop the "invisible thief in bouillabaisse". X punched out one in his way then another. The fish stew was over his chest and torso, a bit onto his thighs but not his hands so his fists were invisible. He started down a set of stairs to the main exit but someone pressed some sort of alarm and the doors slammed shut just before he got there. He was about to throw an exploding X at the door when he was jumped by a couple cops each from the hallways to the left and right of the exit. He fought them off, invisible fists again quite handy in a fight but a dozen more were coming. He realized that it would be smarter to leave somewhere else where they weren't all waiting for him. He raced back up the stairs, easily faster than a couple cops chasing him and a glance downward told him that some of the bouillabaisse had come off in the course of fighting. He ducked into a men's room and turned on the tap, C for hot, and frantically splashed water over his uniform. He wiped himself with a towel and checked in the mirror.
Almost perfect. A few more seconds and the water would dry and he'd be invisible again. Outside, he could hear cops feverishly talking. "He's in there," he heard them say in french and then some other things to get their courage up.
A few seconds after, bam, they came busting into the bathroom, five of them. They looked and looked but didn't see him. Then they began waving and kicking their arms around, hoping to find the master thief by a lucky swing but found nothing. He got out into the hall! They brought the dog forward and the mutt pulled steadily at his master's leash, leading them all down one hallway then to the left down another then to a window. The dog stopped and barked. They all swung their clubs in the air but no one hit anything. One opened the window and looked out. It was some twenty feet across to the administration building and three stories down to the parking area below. Just as he glanced to one side of the parking lot, a motorcycle sped away.
"He's on a motorcycle!" the gendarme shouted, leading the others down the hall to the radio room to call in squad cars.
At the window across the way in the administration building, Red X looked at the unfortunate motorcyclist speeding away. Sorry guy. Your night's ruined but mine got a lot better.
He turned around and looked at his surroundings with a sniff. He didn't like seeing "League de Justice" in part of the sign over the door to the room as another fat french cop, this one a plainclothesman, swung it open then closed it. But there weren't any Justice League types here so it didn't matter what the damn sign said. Only just a second later, a yellow and red blur came right through the frigging door. It didn't open. He came right through it. X backed away a step. He'd been run into and knocked out by Zippy Carrottop before. He wasn't about to let that happen again. But the kid just kept walking right for him even while saying hello to the plainclothes cop. And then, X realized that he'd backed almost into the opening of some kind of weird floor to ceiling tube. And then Kid Flash took another step right at him, obviously not seeing him but in danger of blowing his cover. X backed into the tube and flattened himself against the wall of it to not touch Kid Flash. Zippy was on his communicator now, telling Beast Boy to get a move on.
And now X realized what this was, a transporter tube, a Justice League transporter tube. Well, hell, he didn't want to got to either Titans Tower or to the Justice League satellite. They seemed to be remarkably unappreciative of his witty personality and spirit of adventure in both those places. He slid along the curve of the tube and was just about to jump out to one side when he was blinded by white light and felt a paralyzing but not painful warmth pass through his body.
"Gar Logan, male model here."
"Monsieur Lo-gan you are ze famous Boy Beast, yes?"
"Wiss ze skin green?"
"Yeah, that's me?"
A short burst of static came from Beast Boy's communicator as a Titan transmission got precedence over an outside transmission and the green teen heard an insistent voice. "Gar? Are you ready? How 'bout it?"
"Just a second, KF!" groaned Beast Boy and he pressed one of the buttons twice to give the other call temporary precedence.
As he continued speaking on the private line, he started pressing the buttons and moving the levers to execute the transporter process.
"I am Jean Paul Gaultier. Monsieur Lo-gan. And I would like you to appear in ze show fashion ex-eebiting my new line next month in ze Jump Ceetee. Ees that okay weeth you?"
Beast Boy pushed the process initiation lever forward to the green line as the man spoke then pressed the number 1 on the console. One subject coming back.
"Sure, I'm interested. I enjoy working the catwalk. Ever since that Prada show early last year I've done a show a season," drawled Beast Boy pressing the buttons for transmission subject scan and conversion algorithm processing. He looked at his reflection in the dark glass of the adjacent computer monitor. He fluffed his hair ever so slightly. Mirrors and reflecting surfaces interested him so much more since the growth spurt that left him a full 6 feet tall and with a face, well, one designer said he could have worked the catwalk even if he hadn't been green. He ws a bit embarassed at how scrawny he was, but so were most of the other male models. What a bunch of wimps!
"But I want to be clear that I'm not walking out there with half my butt uncovered like I had to at that D and G show last season. No half speedos, no thongs, no pubic jeans, none of that stuff."
"Oh, mon dieu! A show is supposed to be fuuuuuuuuuun, Monsieur Lo-gan! Don't be so . . 'ow you say? Up-tight."
A series of messages flashed by on the transporter's console screen. As all the previous times, they flashed by too quick for anyone but, perhaps, Kid Flash to read and all the other times, these messages had been harmless. They followed a certain set pattern, almost a shape of the light displays rather than predictable words, the lines went by so fast. But the shape of the lights was a bit different this time. Beast Boy shrugged and pressed the conveyance connection initiatiion button as he checked out his reflection again.
"Hey, Jean Paul. I'm literally green but not figuratively, okay? I know that the top models get to have some say in this stuff. I'm not a regular on the circuit. I've obviously got a regular job but if you want me you have to agree to my terms," said Beast Boy and he pressed the status assessment button on the console. The machine hummed louder. In fact, it seemed louder than it had during any of the other transports.
But it barely registered. After a few sacre bleus and trust mes, Jean Paul had caved in and now they were negotiating Beast Boy's fee for the modeling. So, he barely noticed the blur of messages on the console.
The much more numerous messages didn't totally escape Beast Boy's notice but when he looked down at the console, after issuing his "final offer" to the fashion designer, the spate of messages flitting across the screen were the same ones about the system checking it's power. He shrugged, nothing to worry about, and checked out his reflection again as the fashion designer pleaded for some understanding. Beast Boy knew he had him and said nothing, just waited him out. Meanwhile another flurry of unusual messages zipped by.
Beast Boy looked down again, saw something odd about 10000 seconds. Hmm, never saw that one before. But then the console was prompting him in the usual way to press the final button to begin initiation of transport. He decided it had probably shown those messages before but he just hadn't noticed. He stabbed impatiently at the final button. Just as he did, Jean Paul Gaultier caved in and agreed to pay Beast Boy what he wanted. Beast Boy smiled as he hung up and watched an image start to shimmer in transporter tube. Kid Flash. But then, for a second, Beast Boy almost thought he saw another image there at the same time. He blinked. Him? Huh?
But, no. There was only Wally.
"Success!" shouted Beast Boy as Kid Flash stepped out of the transporter tube. But Wally wasn't quite so effervescent this time. He sniffed and grimaced a second.
"What?" asked Beast Boy.
"Probably nothing I just feel, I don't know, congested, I guess," said Kid Flash stopping beside Gar.
"Gar I have to guess what it's like. I've never been congested a day in my life. I feel like . . like I've got a head cold or something," he explained.
Beast Boy's eyes darted left and right. "Hey, I did it right. Don't go telling the others I did anything wrong. You know how Dick is about shit like that."
Unnnh! What the hell?! A groan reverberated inside Kid Flash's head. A groan in a whole different voice.
"Did you hear that?" he said to Beast Boy.
"Wally, all I hear is you and me talking about nothing."
Kid Flash sighed, obviously not happy but not sure what to do. "I-I must've imagined it. I'm-I'm going down to my room," he said and sprinted off to the hall then down the stairs to the 13th floor and then vibrated through the door of his and Jinx's room.
He wanted to agree that he had just imagined it but that head cold feeling was still there. He never got colds, especially not after he got super speed. He could only guess at what it was like based on what Dick and others told him. Was this what he was feeling?
Oh, what the fucking fuck is going on?
Kid Flash jumped. There it was again! Clear as a bell, that same voice!
He had an idea. He zipped over to Jinx's desk. She had a micro-recorder that she sometimes used to record thoughts that occurred to her while reading or at other times. "Note to self . . ", that sort of thing. He zipped back in front her three sided mirror with the recorder in one hand. There was something about the incredible clarity of that voice. How could Gar not hear it?
Why do I feel so funny? What's with my reflection? Where am I? Why can't I . . ?
At a rate that only super speed fingers could, Kid Flash hit the buttons to stop the record function, rewind and then play the last 15 seconds of recording back. He heard nothing.
He looked around in the air of the room.
"Whoever you are, come out where I can see you!"
What the hell did you do to me, carrot top?
Kid Flash looked frantically around the room. "Where are you?! Who . . who are you?! Come out in the open!" He whipped around at super speed before finally stopping and slowly approaching Jinx's three sided mirror, the kind you find in high class stores' changing rooms. He approached the center mirrored panel, a new possibility slowly dawning on him.