Disclaimer: By this means, I rightfully claim ownership to this fanfiction story and my original character within it, by my trademark signature T.M.O at the conclusion of every update. Any other characters that may appear in this work and are new, these are the rightful properties by their creators as well and cannot be reproduced or duplicated without their individual consent. I do not own anything within the DC Universe, from Warner Brothers or on Cartoon Network. The only original character and the name that I created for him; that I accept half ownership on is Falcon from this telling. Scififanfreak222 owns the second half of him as well, for drawing him upon a collaboration of various new designs and sketches within the year of 2010; and cannot be knowingly placed into another literary document, writing community, comicbook series, and or televised broadcast without either of our written or verbal consent in front of legal consultants. TheForceIsStrongWithThisOne, Scififanfreak222, xSaffire55x, Novus Ordo Seclorum, and RavenxIsxAxBlackxRose; each of these fellow writers have helped me to press onwards with this story, everytime I have come across writers block. Without their outstanding guidance, the updates would have taken me even longer to complete.

Chapter 19 is ready! Beast Boy and his friends have a somber reunion; while a twisted conspiracy unravels in Gotham. "Beware of the person with two faces"-Dutch proverb-


Chapter 19 – Duplicity

"So then, he didn't make it." Beast Boy's slow words cast a glum and heart crushing defeat over everyone in the recovery wing. "I guess this changes things."

While Beast Boy easily frowned in disappointment, he did not expect to feel a certain someone's hand move over his left wrist for comfort. The gray fingers clasped gingerly over his scraggly wrist, and a tingling sensation crawled its way from his toes tucked beneath the thin satin blanket, all the way up his spine.

The lingering hush carried on too long for the dark bird, and the changeling understood that she was thinking about something else while she looked into his eyes. She wanted to relax the tensions that had become too vast to surpress, now she set out to end the conflict. It was like someone had entered the building to a mascarade ball, only to spoil the upcoming entertainment that everyone was hoping to partake in, and were waiting for some reason to stay when everyone just wanted to leave.

"I thought something was off with you guys, where I was expecting some bad news, but this threw me off quiet aways. I don't really know what to make of it, like at all."

Each of his friends eyeballs quickly rose to lock onto Beast Boy's brused face, as the unpleasant horror that had taken them by storm was now being replayed over again. It was like a terrible waterfall that each of them had crashed down from, only to meet a second larger one and the fear was truly immeasurable.

Upon elevating his head from the nightgown to observe their contorted faces, the signs after an extensive slumber began to show upon Beast Boy's profile. He needed a shower, and his eyelids were fighting to stay open, but he was taken aback by the unruly appearances, from his dear friends faces as well. From the dark bags near his sightline, to his posture that was hunched to one side in the bed, like he would be knocked over if the slightest breeze entered the room, and he continued speaking in a lethargic voice. It was a new pitch that was entirely different from the upbeat manner everyone was so habitual to hearing, where the dryness in his voicebox made him sound like he was ill.

However, the other figures standing about him, they looked as though they had not managed to gain a good nights rest either. Robin was revealing some form of sleep deprivation, although nobody could see his true eye color behind the mask; simply by the way he walked to the corner when the changeling awoke to see his exuberant glance, it was not one of pure joy, but a moment of relief to an increasing issue. Being the team leader, that problem could be one of a hundred, and Beast Boy could not easily pick out a prime motive.

Cyborg kept his distance like Robin, his arms were crossed yet even his shadow only expressed how restless his body was growing. Beast Boy could tell that the mechanic wanted to sit down, to put his legs up and to recharge his power cell but he had refused, for some unknown logic. Perhaps it was to bear his own failures, to prove something he didn't have to, yet he felt required in doing it.

Starfire was in a wheelchair, and her emerald eyes were not beaming with the same affection that they typically carried, it was like the color had dimmed. The warmth and hope which the alien expressed was mired into a new feeling, something that a person who knows what it feels like to witness a friendship on the brink of its destruction, where the continual questions at last became still inside of her mind. Her face revealed the same perplexion of everybody around her.

When Beast Boy looked to Raven, he could see that she too had some pressing struggle to contain. The Empath was cautious about expressing any form of tenderness towards anyone, especially to the prankster which she always scolded. Yet he felt her hand upon his wrist, and she was sitting closer to him than the rest of his friends were. This was turning into a quagmired situation, and Beast Boy decided to keep his distance.

"It-it feels like …" He turned away to glance at the floor in despair, trying to sum up how he could make them understand the moment when the human brain is split in two, horribly divided.

The stench of chlorine and cleaning agents gave the hospital a smell that never faded. The floor had been waxed long before Beast Boy was placed into this particular area; and whether the others realized this nausiating scent or not, the changeling had a very gifted nose. Even when there was a dried up clot within his nasel cavity, despite the fact of his face being swollen like he had his wisdom teeth removed, and his nose was sore; he could still make a mental note of the subtle things that made up his surroundings, qualities that his teammates tended to overstep.

Raven moved away, and was just able to blankly stare towards his right cheek; it made the pain even more serious and she winced slightly. The tourment that their most dreadful enemy had given to the young hero was very appalling, and even in the dark room with the shadows nearby covering most of his features, the signs of a nasty struggle were still visible. Everyone was on the tip of their toes, awaiting the words that would pass over them now, but nothing was heard for a long time.

"I know." Raven interjected. "You don't have to say it; we all feel lost in a sense."

"Do you?" he questioned her with a sudden snort. "This is something far different; we are all on different levels of how we feel about this. All I have to do is look at any one of you guys, and I can tell that you are at ends with eachother. That you have made up your minds about certain things."

Robin and Cyborg glanced to eachother, and the changeling sighed before finishing his words.

"How can you possibly come to understand, what it is that I am capible of feeling, right in this very moment with you?"

"Beast Boy, as much that all of us would like for this strange and bad dream to be over with; for us to wake up and find out that it didn't actually happen, sadly that is not the case." Raven replied. "We know that there is no possible way of turning back, and it's hard because we understand the same problem."

Beast Boy's heart began to pump faster, and the faces of his teammates were beginning to stretch, like the shapes on a dripping oil painting. His insides were simply bilious.

"What would that be Raven, huh?" He said back.

Whether caused by the drugs from the IV line going directly into his wrist, mixed with the high doses of morphine and pain suppressants that he was given during the taxing surgury, it was unclear why everything seemed to be a shifting blur. The room seemed to be spinning and his head began to ache.

"We all know about the true meaning of death." A lump inside of the demoness's throat was noticed to roll in a downwards direction, and she was confounded to be breaking the news to the hero, when Robin said that he would be the one.

She looked at the Boy Wonder's boots, and kept her forehead sunk as she turned back to the changeling.

"It's never easy, is it? It's always a constant battle, of you against the world where you're always the underdog."

Is this part of the vision near the pond? His mind realed in the total dismay Raven was explaining, and the great bite he had endured during the battle, this forced his shoulder to burn as though he was just stung by a yellow jacket. He lifted his hand to soothe the sore spot and felt the bumps of the doctor's near perfect stich-work against his skin, while Starfire moved on the opposite side of the bed.

Shortly upon hearing Raven, Beast Boy bowed his head and his thinking turned to complete emptiness. There was another long pause spreading about the close companions, and any words in the changeling's ears carried an echo while Raven and the others whispered. Her lips were moving and then gradually, the bouncing sentences ceased while the clock upon the wall revealed how unfairly time was dragging along.

"Beast Boy." Raven's monotone shook him; "We only just found out ourselves, and now that we have you back with us, it doesn't seem fair."

"What doesn't?" Beast Boy questioned while looking to her. He felt like he was a child, asking all of these things about a topic that never was easy to comprehend.

"It's wrong, that the first thing you should hear on your birthday is about a close friend having died, and this unfortunate situation to crash down onto us. For that, I am truly sorry."

He squinted his eyes while taking it all in, where his skin created wrinkles and bumpy mounds along his brow, as he kept trying to sort through everything, but there only came many more questions. Everybody in his hospital quarters remained very still, not moving as the dark-bird's conclusion unvelied increasing struggles.

"Don't be." Beast Boy said while looking at their unpleasant mugs, where he expelled a soothing sigh before finishing his sentence. "Is that it then?"

"Afraid so." Cyborg slowly replied as his eyes fought against the tears mounting, and he unleashed his rage in a strangely quieter tone than was expected. "Like Raven said, we all know that it's hard to believe, but we have to hold together. When Robin broke the news, I didn't know what to think either."

Beast Boy crossed his arms and shook his head in disbelief, overcome with doubt and guilt.

"I know that this isn't the sort of thing you were expecting to hear, but it's over now." Robin's voice crept out from the wall which he was slouched against, his eyes behind the mask burned with justice towards the window.

"At least this much is complete, but still there is more that we need to discuss." Starfire's voice picked up, where Beast Boy moved his focus from the Boy Wonder to the princess as his face shifted from a look of disgust, to one of great pity.

"So, what else is there that you guys need to fill me in on?"

"I didn't want to be the one to break it to you, but I figured that I should get things set into their proper place."

Robin shivered when Raven chimed in, and he sensed that the Empath was driving on the other issues that they had discussed only moments before entering.

"Yeah, I guess it's good that you told me." Beast Boy revealed an incomplete smile. "Nobody ever said that the truth would be an easy thing to stomach, but this is quiet a hard thing to keep down."

"A good friend has perished." Starfire said with a melancholy tone. "We must first embrace our grief in order to overcome it, as on Tamaran the life of one can leave a mark on many. As with Terra, this is another hurt we cannot avoid or forget."

Beast Boy's tiny smirk quickly vanished, and upon listening to Starfire's message, his nerves were eased and the hostilites dwindled to nothingness.

"But that's just it though." Robin caused everyone to become firm with anger, and Beast Boy could only watch Cyborg glare with some form of a hibernating powederkeg, destined to explode upon the leader. Something was sliced deep into their bonds of fellowship, and it was very sinister. "It will be near impossible to keep whole after this, we can all feel it."

"We just have to try." Raven interrupted the trivial dispute. "Falcon was just one person, and while our own discord with eachother may keep us at bay; we must never forget that one thing that makes us no different from regular people."

Silence hung in the air, the mood was something different yet again and constantly shifted.

"We all must learn to press on with our lives, to get over what is blocking our paths and keep moving forwards." Raven looked to Cyborg, then back at Robin. "That is what Falcon would have wanted."

"Do you really believe that?" Beast Boy asked, his eyes were sinking back into that long sleep, and he fought his body to stay conscience.

"I would have assumed you would have said it out of the group, and yet here I am saying it for the rest of us." She smirked. "I don't know what to believe in anymore, the only thing I have come to respect is to keep moving."

Starfire nodded in a mirthless manner, as Cyborg paced back and forth. The gearhead still had not spoken a great deal, and when he did speak it was mostly in small sentences.

"It sounds like a normal state of mind." The group's technician said at last.

"But we aren't normal. None of us are; I mean just look at us!" Beast Boy jokingly implied. "Cyborg is a man of steel, Starfire is an alien princess, and you're a demoness from another dimension for gosh sakes, while I'm the ladies man."

The changeling's grin spread far as Cyborg burst out in a gentle laugh, while the Empath facepalmed and Starfire simply mused over the topic.

"Alright, yeah I'm green but so what? The only one of us that can actually blend into a crowd is bird boy over there; and even he has his doubts about that."

"Enough with that already!" Robin deadpanned with his arms interlocked, "But yeah, you're right on us each being a little … different, even me."

"That's one word to describe it, but you don't have robotical parts instead of the limbs you were born with."

The laughter died out again, and Beast Boy was still noticing the same burning divide from his best friend on the team, and the hero he idolized since his years on the Doom Patrol. It was a new threat that only became worse by the clear fact of the grim reaper having collected one of their teammates.

"Cyborg, please do not do this." Starfire responded; "Robin only tried to make our uniquenesses, easier to cope with."

"Maybe, but my reflection in the mirror is proof enough that I'm different." The mechanic pointed to their leader, casting him out as the prime reasoning for their failures, where Robin squinted his eyes before talking.

"Now take it easy Cyborg, that wasn't what I meant."

"Sure it wasn't."

Robin stood temporarily speechless; he was appalled in watching this new war intensify over a mere comical moment morphing into a duel between the two. As everyone prepaired for more harsh words to erupt about them, the quiet voice of the wounded member filled in the void.

"Dude, he didn't mean it like that. I feel it's mostly my fault but it is true. All any of us have to do is look in a mirror, I mean I've got pointy elf ears for gosh sakes, but that doesn't bring my game-play any lower." Cyborg nodded, where Beast Boy looked from Robin and then back to the savvy repairman, hoping to be the voice of reason. "What happened to you guys since I was out anyway, it seems like you're at war or something?"

Cyborg tilted his head up at Robin, and both of them appeared to have made amends, without speaking another word.

"We've … had some things to go over." Raven spoke softly during the lull. "Not that we aren't on the same page, but this thing with Slade has definitely taken its toll, on everybody."

"Knocking out a member on the team does hurt, but I think it's his entire gameplan that we still haven't figured out yet, that is what gets me the most." Robin said next.

Cyborg uncrossed his arms and frowned at the silhouette where the geomancer was recooperating, and he toyed with certain ideas roaming freely within his skull, as he scanned her outline.

"So, what did you uncover when you got at the station?" Raven asked the computer specialist, she was a little bemused to hear herself like the rest of the group was.

"There wasn't much of anything left standing when I got there." Cyborg's eyes drew into the same deep focus, as he had when he studied the mess. "It was pretty much rubble and debris, toppled benches, broken wires, vents … and glass. Do you remember what happened at the dam Beast Boy? Why Terra was even there to begin with?"

Beast Boy scratched the tip of his left ear before giving a reply. "Everything is fuzzy still, it's almost like a thick fog is blocking me anytime I think back onto it. But I can remember a few things."

Robin's slouched posture shot up quickly, and he along with the others listened intently for the missing pieces of his side to the story.

"Elaborate as best you can." said Raven. "Think, try to focus on what you saw and felt."

"I was scared, terrified. In fact it was one of the few times that I've ever been so shaken up, yet locked in with curiosity that my entire body refused to move, it was like someone put my brain and actions on stun. Everything happened so rapidly that one moment I was fighting Cinderblock from room to room, and then the next thing I know; I was tumbling to the earth, hard."

Beast Boy rubbed his shoulder as the black and white memory of the deadly bullet passed into his arm, and the second round entered his knee, causing him to collapse into horrible agony. "I heard footsteps, a shadow of a man coming from the corner and then … nothing. Everything goes blank after that."

"But you must have seen him, heard him say something before you passed out." Robin demanded as he came closer to the foot of the bed. "There was more going on and I have to know what that is."

"I … I can't remember too much."

"You have to try!" The look upon the Boy Wonder's face was uncompromising as the tone in his words forced the others to raise their eyebrows with pressing suspicion; he was determined to uncover every crevice of a partial clue that could point him in the direction he wanted.

"It's hard, okay! I keep trying to see what happened but I only hear and see the same things."

"What things?" Robin pressed the topic; he refused to let it go like a fisherman in a tug of war with a great whale, hoping to capture his prize.

Beast Boy could tell Robin was beginning to grow impatient, and during the gaps in their bantering Robin placed himself to the side that Raven was sitting on. The changeling closed his eyelids and clenched his fingers against the sheets, while he was growing further upset with the gaudy rudeness by the entire team. It felt more like a cruel interrogation now that the matter of their greatest enemy was the point of interest. It always was for the Boy Wonder.

"A gunshot, me shouting for help, and then the echoing of footsteps getting closer. That's all I can recall fully."

"What do you see?"

"I cannot remember."

Robin was a few meters away from his face. Bending so close that their noses were almost touching, where the Boy Wonder grabbed the railing and his knuckles closed tightly around the durable frame.

"You have to. Tell me what you saw Beast Boy!"

"I CAN'T!"

Robin turned to find a cold and intimidating hand was now upon his shoulder, it was from the team mechanic and Cyborg appeared to be on the verge of laying a few heavy blows to his face, if he kept this up any longer.

As Beast Boy saw this, his slunk backwards into the pillows and the intense topic was now turning old.

"Everything is a blur and my whole body stings everytime I move, even an inch." The changeling groaned and shut his eyelids. "I want to remember things, I know that it could help but I only just woke up, and the news of Falcon being dead is a lot to absorb at one time!" Beast Boy found himself sitting up grumbling where his ribs throbbed a great deal, and the startling pain caused him to slowly fall backwards onto the pillows, while the nausea in his stomach overpowered his will to argue further.

Robin pulled away as he felt a gray hand move upon his right shoulder, and she took the tight deathgrip away; as the hot anger in the eyes of Cyborg and the terror upon the face of Starfire, these things made him realize that he had tried to get the answers, a bit too brash on the spot.

"Beast Boy, please try to remember." The raspy monotone from Raven brought a calm sensation back to the group of heroes. "I'll add in what I came across to help."

"Thanks Raven." The changeling spoke as the duo briefly smiled at eachother.

"Beast Boy, look." Robin started up again, trying to fix what he had caused. "Forgive my outburst earlier. I just had to know, I just had to find something and you are the one I'm turning to for help. So please, even the slightest thing that may not have seemed important then, it can be of great aid now."

"Rob, it's no sweat. I think I understand what you guys are going through." Beast Boy said with caugh, where they each slightly grinned. "Just try to understand what I went through too."

"Well now that that whole debacle is done with, then I suppose those footseps you were hearing were coming from Slade?" Cyborg asked as he approached the shutters. "Raven told us that he was there, waiting for you. What was that all about?"

Cyborg turned his focus from the world outside, back over to the changeling.

"He was." Beast Boy answered before the demoness could respond. "I don't know for how long or for what purpose, but Slade was there. Watching me, ploting something evil like always from the shadows."

"You mean that he actually talked with you?" Robin butted in as the eager hunger for his vendetta grew like the beginning of their heated confab.

"Now that we're getting a bit deeper into the matter, yeah; I can see him." Beast Boy's eyebrows furrowed. "He was just, looking at me. Like it was a game or something. I mean I sort of expected him to be picking me out from the rest of you guys, but I didn't think he would try to get me to turn on his side."

The others stood in total shock, while Raven became slack jawed.

"Wait, what did I say?" Beast Boy's eyes lit up from disbelief. "Man, this cannot be good."

"Focus Beast Boy, stay with it." said Robin.

"Like as an apprentice with Terra. That sort of deal?" Cyborg questioned while the Boy Wonder became apprehensive of his own past.

Beast Boy nodded. "Pretty much, but he didn't really try to give me a choice. It was almost as if he was desperate for something, so he beat me up when I refused to play along."

Raven turned away and squeezed her fingers tightly, and Robin slowly bowed his head as a sign of graceful exculpation. The one person that they had never expected to prove his might, Beast Boy had done so in a very couragous manner.

"You did good Beast Boy." Robin spoke as his voice became gentle. "You did more than what anyone could have asked for in a hero, what any of us could have done had our places been switched."

"And then some." Cyborg remarked as he approached the table, it was overflowing with presents and the lopsided cake that the heroines had made.

"Thanks tin man." Beast Boy replied as the group of five friends lightly chuckled. "But I was just doing my job. I should have done something more, but I couldn't. I needed to stop Slade, but as you can guess from look of things, it's obvious that I didn't."

Silence.

"Beast Boy, you're being too hard on yourself." Robin said as he tapped the changeling's right shoulder in the white sling. "Taking on Cinderblock all by yourself is hard enough; I never thought Slade would go after you."

"You're telling me. The blockhead threw me into the wall a few times, he broke a couple of my ribs in the process, and he still kept the chase going."

"But you are here now." Starfire spoke up. "You are safe and that is the utmost of importance."

"Yeah." Beast Boy said back. "But with my unlucky situation I'm in now, I don't think I can help anytime soon."

A lingering peace dropped upon the gang as they each scanned Beast Boy, looking over his scars and bruses. It was during this uneasy hush that Raven made her move.

"So, are we going to have a birthday party ... or what?"

All eyes stayed towards the dark bird, where she shrugged her shoulders.

"I mean, aside from the fact that we are in a hospital, it is his birthday today."

Beast Boy grinned. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot it was today."

"Sixteen years." Cyborg said as he handed the changeling a massive present. "It's quiet the milestone green bean, and this is no ordinary way to spend it."

"Thanks dude." He held the box in his lap, waiting for a sign to tear the neat wrappings off his present.

"Sure, it's no sweat." Cyborg shuffled his friend's hair and backed away. He was hoping that the carnage of the gift wrap would bring some joy, as it usually did whenever the changeling received a gift.

Everyone was watching Beast Boy's face, and then his wonderful grin they had longed to see, slowly ebbed into a frown.

"Aren't you even going to open it?" Cyborg asked; he was fearful that something was wrong with it.

"It feels, kinda strange."

"The gift?" Cyborg smiled.

"No, that's not it. It's not what I meant."

"What makes you feel this way?" Starfire asked.

"Well, not that long ago we were a team of six. Now we're right where we started from." Beast Boy felt the paper texture between his hands; his eyes were glued to the window of his room, as the night sky was still visible. "We had a great thing going, where we were able to make a new friend. It felt like we were even stronger because of it."

The group recounted their own moments with the necromancer, and they were silent.

"This day may be for me, but it doesn't really feel like it." Beast Boy closed his eyes. "It just doesn't feel how a party should."

"Even though he was an outsider?" Robin spoke up.

"Yeah, but we all were at one point." said Raven. "Was I really any different, when we first met?"

The Teen Titans looked to eachother, pulling into their fears and doubts when they joined.

"Most of us try to forget our past." Beast Boy spoke up; "I think we should have done more to welcome him in, where instead I feel to have broken a trust that takes time to build, that is felt in here." He pointed over his chest,to his heart.

Robin froze; he could not breathe or think as he became stuck on that line.

"Um Robin, is everything okay?" Beast Boy felt to be on the other end of a loop now.

"Yeah." The Boy Wonder answered quickly with his eyes on the floor, where Raven gave him a stern expression.

"Robin, you must tell him."

Beast Boy shifted his right eyebrow upwards, as he moved his focus away from the window.

"Wait, there is more that happened?" The changeling asked. "Spit it out already; I want to be brought up to speed. I know about Falcon, we know that Slade was after me as his next apprentice, and there is something else?"

The sorceress and sophisticated repairman each gave a similare expression, fear.

"Will someone please just tell me?"

Raven sighed, she was prepared to explain how they all ended up in the hospital, and she could connect the dots from the moment she met him at the dam. The gray enchantress was getting wound up in anger at how coy and reserved Robin was; she thought that he would stand and demonstrate his prowess, by taking their failures as a noble leader should. But the Boy Wonder just stood there, he did not open his mouth while the changeling pleaded for some answers.

"Beast Boy-"

"No." Robin said at last, causing the others to look from the down trodden heroine, back to their captain. It even startled the Empath.

Is he willing to do it? Raven thought, her amethyst eyes were transfixed upon him now. Is he finally willing to cross that bridge?

"There is something I have to tell you, something I have been dreading for a long time." Robin swallowed some air, he was ready to face his ultimate challenge he had made for himself.

"Go on." The recuperating hero in the hospital bed replied. His stomach was turning and another migraine pounded within his head.

Robin stepped closer as the gift upon his teammates lap was no longer a point of interest, this new topic was. He could feel everyone watching him, like they were waiting for his fallacy to knock him down, but despite these things he was strong and pressed on.

"Do you remember the day we were working out, when Falcon had that mental breakdown?"

Cyborg and Starfire shot the same confused look at Robin that the Empath gave. Where was he going with this?

Beast Boy stroked his chin to think.

"Okay, what has that got to do with anything?" Beast Boy asked, his mind reeling back when Falcon and him were laughing together, and it was on this day that these two strangers, actually became good friends.

Robin took another step closer, his vital organ was beating harder and he could feel the constant thumping, where he could see himself and the others, but he could not stop what he was about to do. His body felt to be controlled by another person, and all he could do was watch.

He had no idea on how this was going to make things better; it could turn the situation from bad to worse in an instant. It was going to make him untrustworthy again, that was for damned sure and he could be cast out from being their leader and yet, that was not the most difficult part to fathom. The worst part was; that he had no idea on how Beast Boy would feel when this was all over, or of what would become of their friendship.

The pair's shadows were overlaping, and Robin was standing directly under the limelight and he took a deep breath.

"Well after you left, Cyborg, Starfire and I talked for a bit." He took another step closer as his tongue struggled to give him any more words. His hands were becoming clammy, yet he wanted to continue. "What we talked about I knew would come back to haunt me. But you have to understand something."

"Understand what?"

"I thought I would have more time, I never thought that he … would actually die, but it doesn't change the fact of what I did to you."

Beast Boy's eyes became wide, his pulse was racing and his thoughts were wandering to countless things that could have happened in that short span that he was gone.

"What we did." Cyborg cut-in, and then he became mute to allow Robin to continue.

"Beast Boy, when you walked out the door that day . . ."


"I don't care who she works for, I refuse to take orders from some brat!" The reptile known as Killer Croc bellowed in outrage at Blackfire, while slamming his mighty fists into the thick wooden table. The broken shackles to his claws rattled due to his brute force.

"Settle down Croc." A gravelly voice chimed in, as the strange man flipped his coin. "I know you've been chomping at the bit for some action. Yet after you were chasing the Bat under Arkham's main sewer line, I thought you would have learned by now that rushing head first, isn't a good way of settling buisness."

The half dollar tumbled back into his hand, and the shadows which he was hiding behind slowly receeded as he leaned away from the lounge chair, towards the colossus scaley creature. Blackfire was looking to the left portion of his face that was hidden, but his head was turned so she alongside the others in the room, they could only view his normal side.

"I see that you still like to deal out your judgments by the flip of that coin Harve, quiet a tragedy when you could have silenced him a few months ago, but the coin turned up on the good end, so you let him live. Talk about the impass to achieving your goals."

The woman in the black outfit chided the once district attorney, where he turned his entire profile to become visible for everyone, as he pointed with his left hand to the dangerous rival. His skin on the left was forever the crimson burnt discoloration, and his partially disfigured appearance made the crimelord's title come to life.

"Never question fate! Even though I would have killed him on the spot, the coin ruled that he should live one more acursed day." Two-Face barked in his hoarse voice. "That day is soon to meet its end, I can guarentee you that." He flipped the talisman again.

"You sure take that thing pretty seriously." Catwoman spoke as she studied her nails.

"It guides everything by the law of chance without prejudice. It is the only honor and justice left in this world! A fifty/fifty outcome for life and death for without it, there would only be anarchy." Two-Face angrily stared back, defending his actions while he held the coin in his burnt fingers. "Besides, you had him pinned to the wall inside Gotham's First National Bank vault with that freak of a clown, but it seems when Gordon and his crew came rushing in, you turned to the Batman for a way out. Say what you want kitty cat, but you have grown a weak spot for him. While the next chance I get, fate won't be there to protect him."

The two opponents stared with much intent at one another, where they each had a golden opportunity to destroy their greatest foe, but they allowed him to escape by their crippling faults. Two-Face's coin didn't always play by his rules, and Catwoman had an on-again, off-again fling with the caped crusader.

"Now now, there is no need to squabble." Penguin's sneering voice forced everyone to calm down. "What you both have bickered about in the past is of no concern to me, that buisness is not why we have gathered today."

Two-Face caught the circular object quickly, and then he spoke.

"Just stay on the sidelines Cobblepot, if you know what's best for you. You may run this joint but out there, I OWN this city!"

"Careful Harvey, those seem like fighting words I reckon." Penguin replied as he bit down even harder onto the cigarette. "I don't believe you could last, in a long war against me."

"We'll see."

The sophisticated kingpin looked out the window to the dancefloor, and he continued smoking the long cigarette where the fumes billowed around him. Two-Face moved into the darkness, where only the black and white suit could be seen, as Catwoman fiddled with the curled whip attached to her sleak belt. The coin was again tossed into the air, and the sharp sound was unmistakable from the silence that now hung about the room.

"Alice?" The tiny gentleman at the table was heard. "Oh my dear, what ever shall we do when nobody wants to join in on our little tea party? Everybody is so loud, so brash and so-so overly boring. The party must have a group, for without a group then there can be no party and we don't want that to happen now, do we? The party must have a purpose, it must have a reason."

"The party?" The beautiful blond replied in a frazzled state of mind, it was caused from some deep hypnotic trance that her partner had put her under.

"Awe, you know my dear. The tea party needs to be filled, the guests must to arrive, and the games require people to play them in order for the rules to be set."

"You all can say what you want, but there are far greater rewards to be had. If we join forces that is." The dummy in a pinstripe suit, with a scar over his right eye spoke with a Brooklyn accent, while the Vantriloquist behind him wearing the large glasses nodded in strong agreement.

"Good luck with that." said Catwoman. "I'm just here to stake my claim in this, no offence to the rest of you but this isn't my first time that I've seen an alliance like this form together, only to crumble soon afterwards."

"See, see Alice. I told you that they would come to our way of thinking. I told you that we would have a tea party, didn't I? Didn't I promise you that?" Mad Hatter took another sip from his drink.

"Yes." His accomplice replied.

The poor woman who was potrayed as Alice, she appeared to be totally lost in a dream world, the chemicals Mad Hatter laced within the tea she sipped was part of the mind controlling agent.

Blackfire glanced to the unusual pair, and began to notice an anomaly about these two from everyone else.

"Would anybody else care for some tea?" Mad Hatter asked the group of villains while hoisting up his cup, and he smiled where his large teeth revealed a truly sinister grin. "This tea is special you know, I had it made just the way it should be. So that everything is calm, everything is nice and wonderful, he-he."

"Special?" asked Alice.

"Indeed, it is a very potent, a very high-strung and a wirey sort of drink. It will make your ears tingle and your bones crack, your heart will race and your toes shall dance to the rythmic sound, of a soothing melody." Using his free hand he placed the cards onto the table, and he stared into her blue eyes. He was showing a king high flush, all of them were spades. "For you see it is a special tea, my special tea … my specialty."

"Would you care for some?" Alice was facing Blackfire and her gaze made the exile shiver from a horrible understanding, that this poor woman was not herself.

"No, I think I'll pass." Blackfire turned away to focus on something less tragic.

"Pity." Alice replied in a bell-like tone, as she took another sip.

"Now that I have your attention, unlike what Croc has distastefully spoken you would not be taking orders from me." Blackfire cooly spoke as she walked over to the throne at the end of the table. "My client, he is the one with the unbeatable offer; I only came here to deliever it."

"Then we shall here it." Killer Croc said in his deep voice, where his sharp teeth for ripping away flesh from the bone revealed that he was truly a pugnacious beast. "Or I will have your head."

"Oh, and it is such a pretty head." Mad Hatter interrupted. "Off with her head, off with her head!"

The Tamaranean Exile held her breath, as she glanced to the assorted members of the criminal syndicate. Her next choice of words had to be carefully picked; she did not plan to stir up any accidental brawl.

"Let the girl speak!" Catwoman purred. "Honestly, you morons can give a girl such a headache."

Blackfire nodded in appreciation to her fellow mercenary.

"Wicked girl, nasty little thing!" Mad Hatter said. "Here, have some tea. It will help to clear your mind."

"No, I don't think so." responded Catwoman.

"But you must have some, it is good. It is ready and you must join in my party."

"Enough!" Two-Face said from the darkness. "Nobody cares about it, and we don't want to hear anymore of it."

"Yeah, so quit your yappin, and make with the deal already." Scareface cooed and he looked at Blackfire.

"I think you forgot one thing." A foreign voice spoke up while the doors slammed wide open. The light from the hallway poured inside the cramped room, and the shadows of six more figures stood by the opening. "Me."

"Geese, another loud mouth to take some of the prize." Catwoman chuckled as this man came in. "Welcome to the party then."

"So you will join us!" Mad Hatter sputtered with glee, while his top hat nearly fell over.

"Sorry Jarvis, not in your lifetime I'm afraid."

"Well then, I guess we could do without that hissing feline. What a screw, what a fussy, tizzy girl, isn't she? Isn't she Alice?" He shifted his hat and turned to look at the other figures. "Would any of you care to join in for some delectable tea?"

A muscular figure wearing a clean and very expensive pressed suit, walked up from behind the Mad Hatter, and as he came closer into the smokey and dimly lit vacinity, he glanced behind the horrifying dark skull that covered his face.

"If you thought for a second that you could hold this meeting, without me knowing of it; then that is a bad mistake on your part Penguin." The tall man in his proper attire and fancy necktie spoke, while two of his bodyguards remained by his sides.

"I didn't hold this back from any of you." The chubby nightclub owner replied while he looked to a nearby fishtank. The aquatic life behind the glass box, it hypnotized Penguin while the fog from his addiction floated about his plump figure. "After putting your boys on my terf and thinking you could spy on my operations from the inside, then I'm sorry dear boy but the fault is yours."

Black Mask growled as leaned across the desk, his hands were bent upon the wood and he glared with a deep, burning hatred.

"If you were a real man, you wouldn't be hiding in here, would you?"

Penguin shifted his gaze to the mophia leader, who was testing him.

"I see that you've brought your trusted soldiers along with you. If you were a leader to others, then you would have come in here, all by yourself." Penguin tapped the ashes onto the floor, and returned his focus back on the fish.

"Hi boys." A soothing tone from an estranged female entered the conversation. "I'll take a glass of herbal tea."

Penguin nodded to Lark, one of his other assistance still in the room holding a serving tray that passed the man with a thin mustache and wearing a black tuxedo. It was also noticed that he had a red rose tucked into the upper breat pocket, where a hankerchief would normally be kept.

Lark who was dressed in a slender outfit with fishnet stockings, she tipped her bowler hat and went to the bar along the edge of this room. She returned quickly and with much courtesy to the other guests, she placed it upon a coster.

Everyone turned as her footsteps from her bare legs stepped across the floor, and all eyes observed the curvaceous red headed woman stroll past the massive reptile. Her skin color was a lime tint, but her eyes were a soup green color, while the outfit she wore was mostly plant leaves that covered her torso, and went across her breasts to conceal her midsection.

"Scram lady, this is a privet club!" Killer Croc demanded, while pointing her to the exit.

She stopped and raised her neck to look at his features, as the remaining whispers fizzled out to hear this new banter.

"Surely by now you realize, that I'm a girl who can go anywhere she pleases." She stroked his powerful chest with her fingertips. "When I heard about this little gathering tonight, I just had to drop in and see your smiling faces."

"Poison Ivy." The same pitch from the man flipping his coin was heard.

The plant conjurer grinned at the once promising lawyer, while taking her seat alongside the puppet master.

"It's been a long time Harvey; you still look … half way decent."

Two-Face lifted a clenched fist before speaking, and he stuck his head out revealing the man he once was.

"Half of me want's to strangle ya."

"And what does the other half want?" Poison Ivy leaned her chin against the palm of her left hand, while the horribly burnt side of Dent was noticed.

"To hit you with a truck!"

"I'm sorry but how do you guys, know one another?" The ice ninja asked while holding her documents.

The eco terrorist plucked a flower from a persuing vine that followed her up the stairs, and she inhaled the vibrant scent before answering in a seductive tone.

"We used to date."

"Ahhhh." Was the collective sound from many of the criminals.

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Penguin flippantly implied.

"Indeed, but I think a knife to the jugular would quell that ruckus." A man spoke from another corner, and some turned to look past the bit of lighting at the place Lark got the drink, where he emerged alongside a stuffed polar bear.

As he walked into clearer focus for everyone, the orange jumpsuit and broken handcuffs against his wrists and ankles, they revealed that he was once a convict, where the words ARKHAM INMATE were across the back of his shirt, in bold lettering.

"Victor Zsasz, as I live and breathe. I never thought that you would wind up in here of all places." Catwoman facepalmed; "This night is just full of surprises."

The bald and slender man was covered in tally marks across his skin and head, where he toyed with his trusted weapon while stepping closer to the side the jewelry thief was at.

"It amuses me that you should say that, Catwoman." He spoke with a calm demeanor while running his fingers along the shaft of the blade. "But what I think was even more surprising, was the guard who was too foolish enough to stand in my way. Oh, the sweet nectar of his crimson blood, I can still see the look of pure horror on his face when I sank my blade, deep into his chest."

"Wait, so you escaped from-" Blackfire barged in, her eyes were now growing wide.

"That's right." The deadly knife wielder responded, and then he laughed as a drip of his own blood trickled down the weapon, caused from a slight cut on his thumb. "The brand on the back of this jumpsuit tells it all."

"Weren't you locked away too?" Blackfire questioned the overly protective nature worshiper.

"Yes, and like Zsasz we both had a little help from … shall we say, a friend."

"Really?" asked Blackfire with curiosity. "Just who may I ask was willing to assist in a jail break? And on that kind of scale, it must have left a dent to someone."

The slow stomping of an enormous man of muscle walked right behind Poison Ivy, and the entire room became eerily still.

"That would be me, senorita." A thick Mexican accent was heard and all eyes were fixated on the juggernaught who towered over all, even the vile Killer Croc who could not help himself but grin with pleasure that another man of mighty strength was there. Now, the gathering of villains only grew larger in numbers, as the space to roam freely inside the nightclub became ristricted.

"So, you assisted a bunch of Gotham's convicts, to break out of Arkham did you?" Catwoman leaned back.

"Not just some, but plenty." Bane replied as he crossed his arms. "There is of course one whom will keep the notorious Bat out of our mind-set, for quiet some time."

"That would be?" Blackfire asked.

"The Joker my sweet." Zsasz answered as he licked his recent wound. "Oh, don't look so worried, that fool is having a blast, and with him out there in the streets of Gotham, than we can avoid you know who."

"Agreed." Poison Ivy chimed in.

There are so many of them, I wonder how I can convince them all? Blackfire thought to herself while she stood by Penguin.

"I never really liked the idea, of working with a maniac who had a knife fixation." Catwoman said while she got up and leaned against a nearby window. "No offence."

Zsasz nodded without speaking.

"Fear is power." A quiet tone worked its way in.

Silence.

"Aren't you going to show yourself?" Penguin asked while he returned to his chair.

"Gladly." The mysterious voice finally emerged, where the tall figure wearing a hangman's noose around his neck, and his long brown tenchcoat gave him a distinctive quality that was truly different from everyone else.

"I see that you have been keeping busy, Cobblepot." The stranger moved closer, while the burlap sack that covered his face concealed who the man was. "Those shipments I was expecting two days ago, they have yet to arrive."

Penguin blew smoke rings as he listened.

"What can I say; I've had my hands tied."

"For your sake, you'd better find a way out of your perdicament."

"Or what?" Penguin proped his elbow up, and grinned a devilish smirk. "Do you think my word is not good enough for you?"

"Stop pressing your luck; it is bound to run into a new problem." He walked past Two-Face and pulled the chair alongside Zsasz out. "Since I have been roaming about freely, those fools you sent to the docks to prepare my containers, they have a way to run their mouths."

"What was that?" Penguin squinted his other eye.

"Our arrangement is on thin ice, be careful you do not cross me or the Batman will be the least of your nightmares."

The sly arms dealer kept both eyes fixed upon the recent arrival, where he continued smoking as he was ignorant of his threats.

"I'm not the only one who has a foothold on those docks." Peguin replied.

"Do I look like I care?"

"Well you should, but it doesn't matter. Quiet frankly, you will go about your way of doing things. I will go about mine, you pose little to no trouble for me."

"Betcha I can." Said a seductive voice from a young teenager.

She pulled her hand away from Cobblepot's shoulder, and he coughed from inhaling too quickly.

"Wh-what the?" Penguin stuttered as he became tense. "You know, I could use someone with your skills."

The figure walked past Killer Croc and stood by an empty seat. The kimono dress she wore was green, while the cold mask blocked any emotions she could give off. "Are you offering me a job?"

"That my dear, depends on certain factors I have yet to see you accomplish."

Cheshire strummed her sai's upon her belt, the deadly weapons were similar to Frost's as the two young mercenaries looked at eachother. They were sizing eachother up.

"Well, to put it so precisely; my rates are high."

"That won't be a problem." Penguin cackled.

Blackfire sighed from the people interrupting every five minuets; she wanted to plead her case but had yet to even start. While the thirteen villains, thieves and gangsters continue to banter back and forth, the exile summed up her strength, and was prepaired to speak.

"Is that everyone then?" Blackfire asked loudly, forcing a hush to stifle the monumental gathering.

Penguin waved his umbrella towards two of his henchmen outside, and the pair of bodyguards slowly closed the big doors where the air became dense, and the warming light gradually faded. The messanger was next to Cobblepot, and she took a deep breath to calm herself, this was the first time she felt anxiety, and she hated it.

"Now, I would like to thank you all for coming tonight, for those who could not make it-" Blackfire grinned to ebb away her jitters. "Then it's there loss."

One of the bodyguards loyal to Blackmask lit a thick cigar for him, and the alien watched as the silver lighter was tucked away.

"Are we going to get paid?" asked Killer Croc while he moved to a seat.

"If so, how much are we talkin about doll?" Scarface's voice echoed.

"Right to the point, you gentlemen sure don't like to waste time." said Blackfire; "I like it."

"Call me a simple man, but I ain't workin unless I get some dough, cash up front and in my hands." Scarface replied.

Soon, other voices from the assembly began to rise, and then a constant hollering filled the backroom.

A brisk walk in the park, this was going to be easy Blackfire, that's what you said. The exile released some oxygen, as her mind dwelled on the past. This isn't what I was expecting to be doing, to be a moderator between these factions, but it will have to do.

"QUIET!" Blackfire screamed, where her eyes turned purple and the hot ire from this task was overflowing.

Everyone shut their lips that instant, and all eyes were back on the messanger.

"Now, if you're all done with these pointless rants about yourselves, I would like to make a proposition." Blackfire's eyes changed back to their dark color as the anger was soothed.

"A proposition you say?" Penguin asked.

"Normally my client would be accepting the task of carrying out hits and such, this time around; he has a request for all of you."

"Of us?" Catwoman stretched her arms.

"That's a new one, where it's pretty damned hysterical if you ask me!" Killer Croc chortled. "Slade, the world's deadliest mercenary and assassin for hire, he is trying to hire us?"

Blackfire narrowed her eyes.

"Yes."

Killer Croc and many others began to chuckle repeatedly; they could not believe what they were hearing. As the foreigner to Gotham looked over her shoulder, she observed that even the Penguin was smirking.

"What many of you fail to understand, is that he has taken contracts for some of you within this very room." Blackfire started to walk around the table, and after opening the backpack she left by her feet, she placed a file of the person she past, down onto the table in front of them. "What some of you have come to forget, is that he hasn't been entirely compensated, so consider what he offers you now, as a counterbalance to your debts."

"So, what's that got to do with me?" Zsasz chimed in; "I never hired a man to do my dirty work in my place, the best way to do a crime, is knowing you're the one who commited it. With the blood on your own hands, the warm, liquid texture running through your fingers like its a delicate red wine from a vinyard."

"He knows that, but do you know what you each do have in common with one another?" Blackfire placed the last folder in front of Penguin, and all of the members became hunkered down, and they were nose deep into the papers.

"Why would you give us our own files?" Bane demanded after skimming through some pages, as he tossed his into a fireplace. "This means nothing, it IS nothing!"

"I see, hmmm." Blackfire replied as she watched the folder go up in flames, while the dancing blaze caused the papers to bend and melt. "But there is something I want you to think about."

"What's your angle?" Poison Ivy cut in.

"Oh no, this isn't about me." Blackfire said while placing a hand onto the plant charmer's seat. "This is all about you."

"About me?"

"Yes." Blackfire pulled away, she felt that she was somehow, gaining control over the humans from earth, and was not timid like she first felt from the moment she walked into the lounge. "This deals with each and every single one of you, who have gathered here tonight. While some have employed Slade in the past, others like Zsasz have pointed out, that they never met him. So, what do you have in common with eachother?"

The man sitting next to Penguin was one of the Italian mophia leaders; he narrowed his eyes after locating his mugshot from his captivity in jail. The name below the plate he was holding with numbers, Carmine Falcone.

"We all have been imprisioned, so what." Bane spoke while shrugging his broad shoulders. "What does any of this have to do with a job, or me?"

"Furthermore, why should I even care?" The burlap masked villain asked. "This has nothing to do with my own plans for Gotham."

"What if I told you, that there was something you all share equally the same." Blackfire moved past Killer Croc and was standing next to Black Mask. She allowed her sightline to meet with people to her left, and right.

"That's easy." said Catwoman.

"We all share a single enemy." said Penguin.

"The Batman." Black Mask answered.

The coin tossing ceased as everyone looked at Two-Face.

"Ha, so that's the plan then."

"I'm sorry, b-but what is exactly?" Mad Hatter asked in a trembling pitch, where Two-Face began to flip the shining currency.

"We kill the Bat." Zsasz slammed the blade into the table, as the carving of the symbol they feared was struck.

"You're barking up the wrong tree." Said Blackfire, where she now stood next to Cheshire as she had gone around the long table twice.

"So those files on us, what were you getting at then?" Poison Ivy demanded.

"You all may hate the Dark Knight, but we have a golden prospect that many of you would find hard to resist."

"That does sound tempting, but why don't we just go and get rid of the Batman now, while we're all here!" Killer Croc pounded his cold hands against the table.

Blackfire shook her head as the voices from everyone began to rise once more.

"Because Croc." Poison Ivy said; "Don't you think he would call his friends to help him? The scales would tip out of our favor; it wouldn't be much of a fight when the Justice League could arrive."

A long silence held out, before Blackfire made her ultimate move in the negotiations.

"While it is true that the Batman put many of you in Arkham, and as Poison Ivy has pointed out the single largest flaw in your theory Croc, there is something I believe, that will inspire you all."

"Inspire us to do what?" Penguin released a wisp of a cloud, as the tobacco filled the space about his throne.

Blackfire smirked at him, where she then moved to a console, and hooked the communicator up to the keyboard. After a few clicks from the pannel, a long flat screen dropped in front of a wall, and everyone observed at full attention. After a brief delay with static across the screen, the image of a face slowly came into focus. It was of Robin from the Teen Titans.

"Him!" Cheshire stood up. "He's the target?"

Killer Croc snarled, as Zsasz felt a smile rise across his lips. Batman was too busy on other missions, to follow clues leading to these two villains at home, but his protage was the one who captured them. Now that they were free, they both felt the need to settle the score.

"If it isn't the only fool, who gathered enough evidence against me for a trial, those many years ago? Alas, my reputation still has been plauged by his doing." Penguin glared at the hero, and then he squawked.

"My botanical garden, my home was left in ashes from that boy!" Poison Ivy hissed quietly as she curled her fingers. "I have long waited for the moment, when I could seize the chance to get my revenge."

Blackfire watched as a new battlecry was felt, while her goal to bring a new army to Slade was clicking into place.

"Your mentor is no longer there to watch over you." Penguin sneered. "You may have come close before, but soon you will fail. I was hoping that I would have my chance to get you and now, it seems that I am to clip your wings little bird. Awwwwk, awwwk, awwwk!"

{{End of Scene}}


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Reviews from previous chapter:

Dude: "I'm dying with suspence here! I wanna know what happens to Falcon, and what about Beast Boy and Terra? Your writing is intoxicating. Falcon is freaking awesome! I think he'd make a cute couple with Raven."

~~ All things take time, and for the overly extensive long wait for this chapter, there is bound to be further mayhem. (In the story I mean, not further waiting by close to a full year to see the next chapter, I apologize for that.) I'm glad you like my original character, the necromancer and demoness do make a nice pair, I myself am curious as to what will become of the various love triangles. ~~

Linzerj: "That has gotta be one of my most favorite cliffhangers of all time. Wow, now I'm really excited for what's going to come next. Oh, and that was a very interesting meeting, to say the least. Ah, Blackfire … I hope you convince them, for your sake."

~~ When I first made that ending, it was much shorter but I felt to be missing some key elements, so I went back and increased some of the depth. How was the cliffhanger I left you with, for Robin and Beast Boy in this upate? Will the Teen Titans be ready to face a looming battle that is coming to their own backyard, or will the team be torn apart from this thought to be buried plan concocted to use on Falcon, without Beast Boy's knowing? One can only hope for the best. ;-) ~~

Shac89: "I really enjoyed it but what interested me the most, was the whole conflict with Blackfire."

~~ It would seem that you and the person above; have a common interest on the estranged sister. X-D Blackfire is in a bit over her head, I plan to make her story arc a little different than what you may think.~~

xSaffire55x: "I still absolutely love this story! It's so intense and you can't seem to stop reading once you start! Please update soon!"

~~ It may seem intense now, but I can only imagine on how rough it will be on you and all of the others, when the big fight for Jump City gets into motion. ~~


A/N Hello my lovelies, it has been a super extended waiting game, to post even this chapter that has been in a cryogenic state for way too long. Has it has been since the month of May when I posted my last update? Well, before you get completely furious at me for taking more than three months to complete a single chapter; maybe I should explain myself? Naw, you know what, it's pointless to even try. (I think that I'm sounding like a broken record.) Just know that I only want to put out the best, and to make sure things run smoothly. This chapter was one of my favorites to craft out, even though it took the most time from the others. Having Beast Boy celebrating his special day alongside the other Titans; that was the tricky part. To encorperate joy with saddness, loss and triumph all in one section was very hard to do. I hope that I was able to convey the emotions from each of the characters as they would on the show, along with the comics. I guess the dialogue in the Iceburg Lounge was the scene I wanted to craft out even more, probably because I could focus on new faces instead of the same ones. From the sloppy stuff I posted earlier, I was really happy to get this one out. Quick question, there was one villain I did not say by name, does anybody know who that is? ;-)

~~ T.M.O ~~