Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans or Jackie Chan Adventures.
Betaed by: The magnificent Zim'smostloyalservant
A Shadow of the Titans:
Nocturne No Kitsune
The Problem With Evil Is...
"You can't be serious?" Robin demanded. The Titans stood with him before the Tower's main entrance. The wind was too still, but the day was not even overcast, in contrast to the conflict going on across the water. The four HIVE villains stood downhill amidst the rocks.
Well, the Honor Roll did. Gadjo had taken a seat and was tossing a basketball sized rock up and down, not seeming to pay attention as there was no fighting at the moment.
Jinx glared at him.
"In case you haven't noticed, Boy Wonder, there is a crisis unfolding right now. And since the League isn't swarming in, I am guessing you Titans have been left holding the bag.
"And if you are hiding here from that ninja army… I'm here to tell you that it's armies, plural. And they are nothing compared to what is giving out the marching orders.
"You Titans are out of your depth just as much as us. Not calling a truce and working together would be crazy," Jinx stated.
"You expect us to work with Brother Blood and his Academy?" Raven asked.
"We wish!" Mammoth snorted, "The HIVE has either gone down hard or on its knees. I don't know if the demon head is sitting its not-butt in the headmaster chair or not, but this here in front is all that you get."
Jinx nodded, while Gizmo just glared. Either he had been told to be quiet, or he was not enthused at this idea either. Quite possibly both, Robin admitted.
"You Titans have resources we now lack with the HIVE fallen. And we have first hand experience and more than a few cards that might give us all a shot of coming out of this intact.
"Your city is being occupied! We may be enemies, but you know what we are: thieves, thugs, villains that may someday rule something. But these shadow guys? They are goose-stepping across your people and ours right now!" Jinx insisted.
"Fair point Robin," Cyborg admitted.
"What about him?" Beast Boy said what Robin was thinking, pointing at Gadjo.
"…Still scary as heck and definitely more evil than us. But still one guy, and we honestly know just how bad he can get by now. So instead of focusing on that, focus on having an epic badass you can regretlessly sacrifice for the greater good in this fight.
"Eh? Eh?" Jinx said, gesturing to the bored villain.
"Umm, cannot the Gadjo hear you?" Starfire asked.
"Yes," Gadjo responded. Even with the mutual pause, he made no further comment.
"…Very well, but understand this is no pardon. Gadjo especially I plan to see locked up and held to account the second this crisis is resolved," Robin stated. Gizmo snickered.
"Well, in that case, hardcase, I'll consider that permission to shove a rocket up behind you on hyperdrive the millisecond you outlive your usefulness," the techno villain laughed.
"You will do no such thing to any of my friends foul little creature," Starfire rebutted.
"Are we going in for pie then?" Gadjo asked, standing up.
X X X
The Titans and HIVE students all stood in silence after Gizmo stopped the feed. Thanks to the tech villain using his backdoor into the HIVE surveillance system, they know knew the Shadowkhan's plan.
"That's all. After that, the system is locked out," Gizmo reported.
"Then get your tech off my computer. And if I find you left any viruses…" Cyborg threatened.
"Please, Tinman! If I wanted a cyber war with you I would have fought it and won already," the diminutive scientist laughed.
"Enough," Jinx said. She turned her attention to the lead Titan.
"So Robin, you think these guys can pull it off?" Jinx asked.
"…The threat is there. In the long run, I would say they are overreaching, but if they shift the planet into another dimension? That could be a game-changer," Robin admitted.
"They can do it," Raven butted in.
"Chi magic has been down and out for centuries. That not only means there is precious little defense against it, but we aren't just dealing with a single novice now. We are dealing with ancient beings that each probably qualify as a chi sorcerer, working together. This is the kind of mystic blindside that can topple an era," Raven declared.
"Good fight then!" Gadjo called from the kitchen area. He apparently was paying more attention than initially thought.
"So, nothing's changed then? I mean, we were never going to sit on our hands and wait for back up or try and ride this out, right?" Beast Boy said.
"You empty-headed dork," Gizmo rolled his eyes, "Even if I bring down the HIVE security – which I can – you've got, what, nine armies, each lead by a battle mage elemental being? Oni is a catchall term for folklore; these guys are elementals attuned to shadow, however they dress.
"Point is, they have the armies, and their badass bosses. Ninja girl for whatever she is worth these days. Probably most of the students and some of the HIVE faculty fighting for them, now. And let's not forget their Big Giant Head, who is likely bad enough to rule the other big elementals.
"We are screwed. You guys got nothing on this, and we don't either. We have no time, and these guys are playing it smart, not for the villain sport. I'm going to go bunker down and stock up on onions. I suggest you dorks do the same."
"We have something," Jinx said. That drew attention. Jinx pulled a cloth purse off her belt and reached in, pulling out a notebook with the HIVE symbol on it.
"These guys fear chi magic, it's probably how Blue's ancestor's beat them in the past. So I think we need to read up on chi magic," she said with a smirk.
X X X
Robin stood by the door to Raven's room, as the mage sat at her desk. The others were busy watching the HIVE, and Raven was adamant they would not be getting into her room. Raven looked through the notebook turned spellbook and slid a reference book back onto the shelf.
It was strange. The biggest clues to a lost and mighty form of magic, and here it was, spread before her on a school notebook.
"The Jade Spellbook"… had Zhu Chan been transcribing it from memory? Though that hardly explained the doodles. Beast Boy had been thrilled to see a doodle of him in here, a dagger driven into the head with Xs for eyes; validation for his archenemy "status".
A doodle of Raven had the caption "Cool?" under it.
But by far the most recurring doodles were of an elderly goat-man who was used to provide footnotes with the speak bubble "One more thing!"
And in spite all the silliness, Raven thought she had found something.
"Sealing spells?" Robin asked.
"Not for her own kind. There is reference to masks sealing the ancient evil Generals. So we can assume Jinx is right, these are villains of her kind. These mindless drones are products of dark magic, that's for certain.
"But I think I now understand what happened. I drained a critical amount of Zhu Chan's chi. This leaves the drained vulnerable to other magical influences. An example offered is a chi-sucking vampire, very rare, but native to her homeland. I believe, from what we saw, the sealed evil took control of her in her weakened state, and broke their seal by attacking it from inside and out."
"So, we break this spell on Zhu Chan and the armies and Generals both go back in their cage?" Robin asked.
"Maybe, I could be wrong. And as it stands, I can't put Zhu Chan's chi back until I find it. And there's no time to track it down even with the spells in here. The book includes a stop gap solution, though. A temporary fix to keep victims from falling under evil influence. A chi transference spell, allowing someone to donate a portion of their own chi, like a blood donor," Raven said, "We use Starfire as a donor; hopefully her positive chi will force out Tarakudo's influence and restore some equilibrium to Zhu Chan. At the very least, we get a chi witch probably on our side and insider info on the problem."
"Not enough, Raven," Robin told her, crunching the odds. He was willing to take risks for himself, to go the final measure. But…
"There is another wrinkle, Robin.
"I admit, this is all theory from this point on. I've just more than quadrupled my knowledge of chi magic with these scrawled notes I have barely had time to study in any kind of depth. I would dismiss another magic user building a plan on something this flimsy," she groaned to herself and him.
"I trust you. What have you got?" Robin answered without hesitation.
"…as I said, Zhu Chan has not seemingly left the Shadow Lord's side by design. I think, she is vitally and utterly important.
"Because all this evil was sealed in a mask. And when she wore it, I think he had already somehow circumvented his prison to possess her in a fashion through his chi.
"And the mask did not shatter, it 'changed'. It changed into pieces that were absorbed into Zhu Chan. One for each of the sentient Shadowkhan imprisoned within it.
"What if that mask was also a way to wield the powers of those imprisoned within? And he reworked the spell so that her 'wearing' the morphed mask freed them instead?
"If that is the case, I think she is currently a living anti-sealing spell. And if we disrupt her, that old magic might snap back in place. The Shadowkhan and their armies returned to their prison," Raven finished.
"…What are the odds that would happen?" Robin asked.
"I can't even guess. I could be completely wrong. It may be all we do is exorcise Tarakudo from Zhu Chan, period. Or maybe instead of forcing his chi out, it stays too and she blows up from too much chi.
"Or we destroy the Generals and their armies run rampant? Destroy armies and spare the Generals? Or we do this, and nothing at all happens," Raven told him.
"We put it to a vote. Everyone, even the HIVE," Robin decided.
X X X
They had given the explanation to everyone gathered in the main room. Which, appropriately enough, gave them all a view of the city and the reddening sky. And more recently, the squads of tentacled ninjas in the surf, testing the island's wards.
Now was the quiet moment, everyone absorbing the plan.
Then Gadjo yawned.
"Gadjo will fight. We will all be fighting. Heroes won't be running, and if bad guys were gong to be running they would be gone now.
"So enough talking. Gadjo was promised great fight, and Gadjo will be getting it," the villain declared.
"Someone else, please say something. That can't be our pre-battle inspiring speech," Beast Boy pleaded.
"…If I die, everyone stay out of my room," Raven said.
X X X
Superman looked to the screen, which showed two comrades and the expanding dome in the background. The Atom spoke first.
"My approach isn't working. Typical magic nonsense keeping people out when by all rights it should fail, considering what else can pass through. If I had time to study this in depth… but, well, we don't seem to have that option," the super scientist said. The lady magician in blue and a top hat spoke next.
"Our people here on the ground are drawing hands of blanks, Superman. If it were just chi magic I would be confident that we could whip up enough brute force to overpower it, or even slip around it with all we have available.
"But this is not just dealing with obscure and powerful magic. This is obscure, powerful magic we have little to no knowledge of that is being powered and directed by several masterful magic users.
"Like Atom said, if we had time I'm confident we could come up with something. To be honest, the dark types who showed up to help as a truce have been cutting and running for other planes. And I'm pretty sure most of those are considering trying to return later to throw in with the new overlord if the pieces fall that way," Zatanna reported.
"Well, at least the evil scientists that have been chiming in seem adamant that they find a dark magic kingdom intolerable," Atom spoke up.
"Thank you for trying, keep at it. It's not the first time we've had to ride on slim odds," Superman said.
"The battle will not be decided by the famed champions whatever their role. This day, the fate of the world lies in the hands of those who are yet to rise to their potential," Dr. Fate remarked. Superman glanced to the sorcerer, trying to read any hidden meanings in the enigmatic man's words.
An ally certainly, but like Batman, his agenda and goals could be divergent from what Superman felt was right, or necessary.
"The Teen Titans," Superman said.
"Correct, but not only them. In fact, darkness may be needed to thwart evil designs," Dr. Fate added.
X X X
Amanda Waller was not pleased as she watched the data stream into the control room. Much in the world displeased her; after all, her job was essentially to impose order on a world that seemed bound and determined to be driven by chaotic individuals and organizations. Rather than let that weigh her down, since childhood she had channeled her displeasure into action against the forces that irked her.
One of the earliest and most potent lessons was that the key to winning, or sometimes just important not losing, was to not play the same game as your opponent.
The HIVE affair was one such instance in her ongoing feud with the Super community. The JL merely saw a problem to be solved. But Waller saw an opportunity. The world had shifted such that groups like the HIVE would exist. No government, or even the League, could stop that for the foreseeable future. But while the League acknowledged that fact and rolled up its sleeves to keep fighting a losing battle, Amanda Waller considered options.
And the solution was to make the most of the bad situation. Through a number of shielding covers, Cadmus covered for the HIVE, letting it prosper. And the HIVE was able to stifle any would be 'unauthorized' competition in the region. Prosper within established parameters, of course. The deal was made with the leadership, and in exchange for their unknown benefactor's aid, Waller ended up with thorough data on all those up-and-coming villains.
More than a few, through her proxies, had ended up working for Uncle Sam. And for the others, what would have been often unknown threats were being analyzed as they developed, assigned threat levels, and had countermeasures developed. Not to mention an established limit on what the HIVE itself could do without risking their handler's wrath.
The League would not approve; they would sooner destroy the powerful school and spawn dozens of spin-offs, which would produce unknown threats and likely be geared toward doomsday plots.
Blood, that smartass psi… His coup had cut off the head, leaving him ignorant of what let the HIVE function. And his profile showed he was not possible to work with. She had been pulling strings, hoping to remove him before it became necessary to let him and the HIVE fall. It had not been promising.
But his fall had turned out to be an epic fail that would have stunned her had she less experience. Their controlled asset had become ground zero for a trans-dimensional invasion. By one of the marked potential Cadmus recruits, no less.
The fun of watching that insufferable interloper be humiliated was balanced by the question of how to best use her still existent control over the HIVE systems to aid the JL in stopping this nonsense.
Glancing to a screen, she raised an eyebrow. Looked like the 'Little League' was stepping up to bat. With a nod to a tech wiz, she declared a secret alliance, starting by clearing the bald kid's way to enter the system.
"Alright, Boy Wonder 3.0, let's see what you've got," Waller stated, as the pre-battle took shape before her eyes.
X X X
Tarakudo observed the festivities, not allowing himself a frown. As a matter of principal, he believed in celebrating after victory, even a mild affair like this.
But their last liberation had been all business, and the chance to indulge had slipped by his Generals. They had a right to complain, and as King he had certain duties to indulge them, when it could be afforded.
Only Ikazuki was withholding himself from the celebration, such as it was. But then, the samurai celebrated the act of victory far more than any banquet meant to honor it. And perhaps he picked up on his King's mood.
Tarakudo smirked as both the ghost and the godling served drinks. It had amused the Generals to restore the sutra someone had weakened in her. Her entire head was now covered in sealing paper, leaving only a few stray clumps of ethereal hair to trail.
That bit of torment was too petty to amuse him, though. Kicking the head of those who bow sincerely, even if in terror rather than respect, always had a certain distaste, he had found. No, there was no joy in humbling those quick to bow.
Which was why his smirk was for the so-called "Susano". Who stiffly walked amongst the lounging Generals dressed in fine Geisha regalia with a fan, Kubota had expertly applied the appropriate makeup, and hair styling was supplied by Ikazuki.
Ah, the joys of intimidating those who think themselves strong into humiliation. Age refined one's tastes, and humiliation was no different. Not the weak, for which it is only petty. Nor for the strong and worthy who warrant respect. The godling was an ideal victim!
"Hey, Big Red! Shouldn't we be doing something?" Jade Chan's remnant spoke up. She rose into his line of sight quite rudely.
"We are. It's important to be ready to respond," He answered the shard he had named Kagehime. She frowned at his answer, already getting angry, even without the answer.
Jade Chan, as Zhu Chan, had had such potential. But the key had been twofold. Making her realize how much better uniting with her dark side willingly would be, and her coming around to the dark side of her own accord.
Because he had been the tempting devil many a time. Every Shadowkhan had been human, the souls of children whose discontent in death let them linger until a Higher Shadowkhan made an offer. He recalled Kubota as a bitter young boy who had broken his neck fleeing the monastery he had been assigned to as part of his family's punishment for his father's disgrace. A disgrace fabricated to protect their daimyo's heir from taking the rightful blame and humiliation. An honorable man made to take his own life, while his firstborn son was condemned to a monk's life. And everyone had told the boy to just bear it, such was karma, accept it and move on.
Even in death, the deeds and words had infuriated the boy who refused to be obedient. And so Tarakudo had found him and made an offer. Tarakudo had kept his word, and in time the fledgling Shadowkhan had climbed the way to General, and like Ikazuki was unwavering in his loyalty.
And when they had started, he doubted Kubota would have behaved evilly towards anyone he did not think deserved it. It took time, building off foundations to create a new worldview.
People don't really change all of a sudden. When they did, it was either a trick of magic, or simply revealing they had long been growing into something else and now the mask was shed.
No – real, meaningful change was piece by piece. It was such that you do something, and then are stunned by your own actions; and are left wondering what happened and when did you start to change?
Zhu Chan had such potential. This shard did not. For the moment, she might retain some virtues by proxy, but she would prove treacherous, shortsighted, and a host of other flaws in her turn. Because pure light or darkness, in a being meant to possess both, was nothing but flawed.
He estimated her life would end inside twenty years from reckless magic, and the simple instability of her chi composition. Not to mention long-term effects from that nasty spell and shoehorning his own chi into her.
A bummer, that that beauty of a female High Shadowkhan would never exist.
But for now, he needed her. And it was more convenient to placate her.
"This is ready to respond?" she asked, gesturing to the lounging Generals.
"As a matter of fact, yes. I know these Khan – they may seem at ease, but they are ready to spring into action. And in the meantime, they are getting quite pleased and therefore more effective by indulging in civilized pleasure," he explained.
"Are we really going to eat his brain?" the Queen asked, looking a little disturbed.
"Well, you can try, but females are not the same apex predators. Your advantage is you can eat most anything and thus survive in any isolated region you decide to hole up in with ease," he said.
"Hole up in?" Kagehime frowned.
"Well, that is far off, at least a century. Females are a bit more in touch with the elemental part of being a Shadowkhan. Basically, the desire will take hold to establish a single territory and completely master it."
"Nesting?! For real?" she spat.
"Well, seeing as we don't reproduce like that, no. From what I saw of it, it's more like 'fortressing'. Males like me might be going about vast domains we harass or rule, but a well-established female… even an elder dragon would be foolish to idly trespass in their domain where their shadow permeates all.
"That's why I went for all males. The women were quite worthy, but the top gals just weren't interested in bestirring themselves from their shadowed realms for my plans of world conquest," he admitted.
Another prospect he had considered Zhu Chan for. Her wander-lusting nature might have meant she would be an exception to those lawn-guarding ladies. What wastes of power and knowledge, rooting themselves down in whatever forest, mountain, or canyon and the like their shadows attuned to, and piece-by-piece neglecting the outside world.
Supposedly, the places with the strongest shadow magic were actually the corpses of ancient females whose shadows lingered on after their death. Their very essence leaving their bodies for the land.
Not that this fool would live so long. And the risk of retrieving the light side of Jade was foolish. The point had been to coax her slowly, for her to choose the darkness. All of this – the invasion, Kagehime – it was too fast, too soon. She would push back, toward the light.
"So why not give me an army so I can do something, then?" the brat demanded.
"What? Give you an army? Shall I just run down to Martial Bulk and buy you a few crates?" he drawled.
"Uh, yes?" she answered lamely.
"If I had a lap I would ask you to sit on it while Papa Tarakudo teaches you the facts of life. But as I am rather lacking in that department, you can sit on the grass.
"…That was not a suggestion, sit your blue bottom on that turf," he commanded. Frowning, she complied, setting down on the ground and then awkwardly sitting down with crossed legs.
"Now, Shadowkhan come in three basic varieties, disregarding gender. There are the Low Shadowkhan that you know. Mindless drones, really created as either homunculi or by corrupting living humans and the like.
"Middle Shadowkhan - these would be Shadowkhan who were recruited after death from restless sprits. Retain their own minds and some magic and the usual enhanced skills and might. But really not capable of climbing the ladder.
"Then you have High Shadowkhan. That would be all of us here. And among High Shadowkhan, the single most distinguishing ability is being able to create the drones.
"Before I came along and worked my magic, there were no armies of drones. A respectable High Shadowkhan could make, say, eight at once.
"These gentleman hailed me as King in exchange for that power and other benefits, and those who disagreed… well, differences in power were addressed. And less need to employ Middle Khan to fill out their tribes.
"Point is, as a High Khan, you will grow your own tribe. And asking any of these to lend you some of theirs would be quite obscene.
"So, any questions?"
"…Regular fountain of information, aren't ya? Well, how long until I get my own minions?" Kagehime snarked.
"Well, you already are getting your horns. So I would say once you start getting a more distinct look than a Middle Khan. I used to be blue-skinned and red-eyed myself. High Shadowkhan grow out of it, though sometimes the changes are more drastic than others. Ikazuki kept the blue but went scaly; me, I went red. Females usually keep at least some blue, with other colors appearing, some had tails, rather humdrum stuff really.
"Now, if there are no-" he continued, but cut off.
"Tarakudo?" Kagehime asked, as he seemed to space out.
"It seems we are going to have a show to go with dinner. Good news, gentlemen! It seems the enemy has opted to bring the fight to us. Two invader forces – Taichi, Ikazuki, take a duo each to meet them. The rest of you will wait here. This Robin is no fool, there is more at work, I expect," Tarakudo called out, as the Generals stood to attention.
X X X
The enemy was not as endless as the feed had implied, Robin thought as more ninjas dispersed.
The samurai were the most durable, with their armor, but he had experience fighting multitudes of battle drones.
"I can't believe that Poindexter was this good for bringing down the auto-defense," Cyborg said. He tossed the unconscious Evil Dick aside as the three Titans continued their advance. The HIVE's security seemed to have turned on the HIVE and Oni, even the remaining robots going after the Shadowkhan. And more than one villain had been trapped in rapidly closing doors, for easy incapacitation.
"Think Gizmo was planning a coup or something?" Beast Boy asked, shifting back from tiger.
"Irrelevant for now. All Tarakudo has sent so far are drones and pawns. The heavy hitters are what we need to worry about," Robin said.
"Right you are!" A booming voice laughed. Shadows bloomed on the walls and over the floors of the corridor, and three of the Generals stepped forth or rose up from them. Standing center, in his black samurai armor, was Ikazuki. The Jade Spellbook had singled him alone out among Tarakudo's Generals, the greatest.
"Ikazuki," Robin greeted him, adjusting his stance slightly as the Oni samurai slowly drew his katana.
"You know me? Normally I'm flattered, but these are strange times. Have you torn through this chafe to better your position as vassals? An empty move – these so-called villains lack true martial spirit, they only serve their egos, greed, and fear," Ikazuki droned.
"Hey!" Evil Dick's voice floated past the Titans in a groaning objection.
"We're here to take back Jump City," Robin said.
"And kick your Shadowbutts!" Cyborg shouted.
"And… ah, you took all the good stuff that isn't a secret!" Beast Boy bemoaned. Ikazuki chuckled, inspecting the edge of his black sword.
"Keep your secrets. You allowed these vermin to run rampant and plague your territory so long. The heroes of our world tolerated no such half measures when they waged war against His Malign Majesty. Whether it's will or might, you are weak.
"And now, you die!" he exclaimed. He charged from a relaxed stance in the blink of an eye, swinging his katana down to cut Robin in half.
The parried blade withdrew. As a sliver of metal fell to the floor, Robin backpedaled, not taking his eyes off the enemy, but feeling the new flat surface on his staff with a thumb.
"Let me guess, that was supposed to shear through my staff like it was made of bread, right?" Robin asked.
"Heh, finally some sport. HIYAAAH!" Ikazuki charged once more, the other two Generals rushing to meet the other two Titans.
X X X
"Hmm, they're making good headway," Tarakudo remarked. Kagehime kicked the turf next to him, not privy to the viewings he was undertaking.
"Your Generals are not stopping them," she pointed out.
"And yet they tire them and use up much of their weapons. While the rest of us wait here, calm and fresh to reinforce our comrades when they fall back here," he answered.
"There is something else going on. You know it. Where are the spellcasters?" Kagehime asked.
"Hmm, not here. Nor the orange off-worlder," Tarakudo remarked, shifting his attention back.
"So, the women cut and run? Women may be wiser after all in this world," Kubota commented, sipping his drink.
"…It's not two prongs, it's a trident! The trump card's going to come from above!" Kagehime shouted, throwing her head back to look at the hexagonal ceiling.
The assembled Shadowkhan, and Susano, looked up. Yurei the ghost, blind as she was, jut stood by, holding her emptied snack tray to her side. Tilting himself down after a few more seconds of looking, Tarakudo raised a large eyebrow at the blushing girl. She pulled her kasa down to conceal her face somewhat.
"So dramatic," Tarakudo sighed.
"It's going to happen, you'll see," she insisted.
X X X
Taichi grunted as he got his proper footing, and shifted the force of the battle to send his opponent flying. The large mortal was sent crashing through a sturdy wall. He did not sound displeased by the notion before he impacted.
Taking a steadying breath, he walked on down the corridor. The mad mortal had rushed them; he had not seen what had become of the others.
Oh, there was one. Just as tall, but leaner and surprisingly more hairy, it seemed. Ah, beast blood of some sort. The other, his senses had found no such tell on. His comrade stood by the fallen but alive invader, a bit battered but like himself more than fit to continue.
"The rest?" the Sumo General asked.
"Ryouga went after the onion slinger. That machine is fast, but he should be able to handle it," the other General shrugged.
"No. There are other foes. We find him and end this, and then we all head back to bring the hammer down. We will not repeat stupid mistakes," the sumo said.
"Oh, but turning your back on Gadjo is a stupid mistake, Irish Ninja Sumo!" Gadjo laughed. Sure enough, he stood in the corridor, arms spread wide, cackling and seemingly unharmed.
"…Very well. First we finish this. Quickly," Taichi said.
A dark aura swept over Taichi, who planted his feet, flexed, and caused his hakama to tear apart, revealing only a small breastplate strapped to his chest. The other General, with a cry, was also enshrouded in such an aura, and drew his blades.
"Ohhh! Fun!" Gadjo laughed.
"Rah Rhhhh! Wihaaaaaaa!" Gadjo exclaimed, crunching and flexing every muscle he seemed able to. No aura appeared.
The Generals glanced at one another as he continued.
"Is he powering up or constipated?" the General asked Taichi.
"YAAAAAAAAHHHH!" Gadjo threw back his head, and something dark burst out from his face.
Breathing slowing, sweat trickling down his face, the Oni watched stunned as the new facial hair unfurled into a magnificent handlebar mustache.
"Now for fighting!" Gadjo shouted, raising his fist and charging forward.
X X X
"Well, how's the battle going?" Kagehime pestered.
"No better for you pestering the King! Now pipe down, the marinade is reaching its most critical pre-decapitation stage," the Black carapaced General pouring sauce over Blood's head snapped.
"Ah, no need to be so harsh, don't you recall being so young and in a hurry?" General Kubota remarked. He was lounging on a backless folding chair his Khan had retrieved for him. On his legs sat both a murderous looking Susano and Yurei, each filling his over-sized sake saucer when he held it out in front of him.
"Well, if it's excitement you want, there is a pretty sweet fight between Ikazuki and the colorblind human. As for the other half, well – oh. Protect the sake, General Kubota," Tarakudo ordered, staring off into the lake.
The addressed General flung the geisha-attired villains away to nearly flicker to the barrels and bottles of rice spirits the Khan had gathered. Just in time for a hole to get knocked out of an upper section of the arena wall. Something flew toward Kubota; the General braced himself, taking a stance, with two Khan popping up to either side of him to aid. But it bowled him over on impact.
"Oh drat. What waste," Tarakudo lamented, looking at the mostly broken sake containers in the trail left by Kubota.
"Is that Taichi?" Kagehime asked of the battered figure pinning the purple-skinned General to he ground.
Then another General smacked face first to the dirt. He groaned and started to pick himself up, before collapsing. He looked a mess, with cracked and missing armor, and more colors than he was supposed to be under it.
A familiar laugh drew the Generals to looking up at the hole at the intruder. Kagehime did not look up; her eyes were closed and she fiddled with her hat.
"Gadjo," she grumbled.
"GADJO!" The villain roared, leaping down with audible drama.
"What the-" Tarakudo said.
Then the ceiling exploded. 'Now' she looked up.
There were the female Titans, and Jinx being carried by Starfire.
"Told ya! I told ya!" Kagehime yelled, pointing at Tarakudo. Ignoring the now laughing villain and the battle starting to break out with the new arrivals, he glared at her.
"You do know that doing that makes 'you' look bad, not me, right?" he asked.
"Don't care," Kagehime giggled into the back on her hand, only to stop suddenly as she noticed something.
"Hey! That's my spellbook!" Kagehime objected, pointing accusingly at Raven as the girl evaded shuriken. Growling, the young Shadowkhan gathered chi magic in her hands and… was yanked back by a telekinetic ripple.
"Whoa now, did you just say your spellbook?" Tarakudo demanded, bringing her face-to-face with him as battle and explosions continued around them.
"Yes. And I will be getting it back now," Kagehime insisted. The unseen grip on her did not slacken as she tried to pull away.
"There wouldn't be any chi spells in there, would there?" he asked with odd politeness.
"Uh, maybe a few?"
"Or perhaps everything you know about chi magic? How many protective blood wards did you put on it to keep intruders from reading it?" he demanded.
"… What's a blood ward?"
"…Did you at least hide it in the Shadow Realm for safekeeping?"
"…It was in a desk drawer, there was a lock on it."
"…We have a world that is magnificently ignorant, and you poured out chi magic to the pages of dear diary. If I wasn't so angry, I would be mad right now," Tarakudo said with a fang filled smile.
"Well, I will just go get it back!" Kagehime pleaded straining against thr unseen grip.
"Oh, no! After this, no battle play time for you, young lady! You are gong to your room and thinking about what you've done!" Tarakudo roared knocking her hat off. With a ripple of air he tossed her like a baseball through the nearest shadow, made by a fallen section of ceiling.
X X X
The black blade slid down the edge of the staff, carving more of the metal away, the second bite it had taken. Robin disengaged, throwing a birdarang at the Oni's face. The sword yet again moved perfectly to block it, but the contact was enough for it to explode.
Discarding the mutilated staff, he pulled a backup from his belt and extended it.
"Excellent. Last time, I was cheated of true battle," Ikazuki declared, stepping from the smoke. The only sign of damage from the demolition-class birdarang exploding near point blank in his face was a thin line of blood from his nose. And he only acknowledged that with a backhanded wipe, cleaning his face.
"I don't care for people who treat war as a game," Robin said.
"Nor do I. This is much more meaningful.
"Your city is fallen, your allies falling. What will you do now, Son of Bat?" Ikazuki demanded, raising his blade and falling into a stance.
"Change the rules," Robin said. The battle had taken them into some kind of auditorium. His free hand pulled out a grapple gun, and with a shot, he was soon soaring into the air, away from the destructive blade cleaving the space he had been in.
Ikazuki leapt about the desks and tiers as explosives rained down on him.
"You withdraw to escape my sword. Wise, but ignorant! The blade is not the sole discipline of the bushi!" Ikazuki declared. The sword blurred in his hand, and landing atop the teacher's desk, he held it aloft as it morphed into a solid black longbow. Putting two fingers to the string, a black arrow sprang into existence from their tips.
"You've got to be kidding!"
Ikazuki smirked and loosed the arrow. Robin swung away and the arrow struck the ceiling. And kept going, blowing a fist-sized circular hole in the metal.
"Try not to die too quickly," Ikazuki asked.
X X X
'I think I just killed us all,' Raven thought, wide-eyed, as Tarakudo threw Kagehime through a shadow. Did this species have a predilection for telekinesis?
"Raven, the Zhu Chan-!"
"I know!" Raven snapped. She had to raise a shield as the purple Oni tried to skewer her with his claw weapon.
Stupid! She had worried if the spell would work. And how effective it might be. But she hadn't thought that the villains would simply play it safe by sending their linchpin beyond reach when attacked. They had unexpectedly cut the knot, as few villains seemed able to understand.
She drifted back, watching her opponent, chanting a new spell. The psi blast blindsided her from the left. It was all she could do to brace herself as she slammed into a tree.
"No more fooling around. EVERYONE TO ME, NOW!" The Oni King's voice vibrated as he advanced on the pinned mage.
Raven strained against the pressure, and the giant head smirked. He was going to crush her into paste, she realized. She couldn't even talk; this was beyond Zhu Chan's attack. She could unravel spells, evade and avoid, find holes. But this was like, like, like…
It was going dark and he was leering down at her. Red skinned, white haired, larger than the world…
It was only when the tree exploded she realized she was the one screaming. Stumbling forward as the energy rippled out, still around her, vision stained red.
Even the grass was ripped up from the ground around her, and it looked like everyone was off their feet. Except the head, who was flying back toward her, looking quite miffed.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos," Raven said. She wouldn't be taken by surprise a second time. Her darkness rose to twist and struggle with the rippling air of his attack.
X X X
Kagehime was laying down on the grass of the plain, letting the shadows lap at her as she stared up at the sky of the Shadow Realm.
She had not been pleased at being flung here. It seemed just another slight. But it seemed to be clearing her head, all this shadow essence around her.
His displeasure, she was thinking, was the same as her own, the fact that she was not complete. But he had apparently given up on the ideal. And his victory clearly did not allow for her becoming complete.
And she had recognized the book along with the rudimentary chi sorcery. Raven was a poor hand; cross-discipline was hard in magic. Still, the only place she could have gotten it from was the book. And boy, was he mad at her admitting she had written down chi sorcery, and what's more lost it.
She knew every spell in that book, and could only think of one that would inspire the Titans and villains alike to launch such a foolish attack – chi transference, a spell that could replace the King's space-filler chi with her other half.
True, she had not sensed her other half, but the point was, they had the means to make her whole. And there was a slim chance they would do it. As opposed to zero chance she would be made whole under Big Red.
So, backstab her savior from her feral state and throw away a comfy, if unrespected, post assurance. Basically, just risk everything up to and including prison and death all for the small hope she might be able to become the fully integrated Shadowkhan Zhu Chan that she wanted.
Or do the smart thing and sit tight and let Big Red screw the world over and take a generous package deal with him as her long-term career.
Well, phrased like that, the answer was obvious – after all, she had all of the recklessness and little to none of what would make her regret being a treacherous ingrate.
X X X
"Robin!" Raven's voice came over the communicator as the three Titans advanced through the HIVE, making short work of the few villains to stand in their way. Most seemed to be absent, or perhaps hanging back?
"Raven?" Robin said. It was audio only, but that alone told him there was trouble.
"They sent Kagehime away. I can't do the spell," Raven said. She stopped, grunting in some exertion.
"The Oni withdrew from us, trouble coming your way," Robin said.
"Yeah, Gadjo won his fight. But we won't win without the spell. You can still get away while we hold them-"
"No, we're coming to back you up. Titans, pick up the pace!" Robin commanded, cutting the mystic's objection off with a click.
The remaining HIVE students and the Titans had been forced practically back-to-back, encircled by the remaining Oni Generals. Save, of course, for Raven, who was still engaged in her lone telekinetic duel with the floating head, which the other Oni were clearly avoiding – out of respect for their King's power or at his command, Robin couldn't tell. And frankly, he had more pressing concerns.
He spared a quick glance at his allies, and what he saw wasn't encouraging. Cyborg's primary sonic cannon had been crushed by the Crab General at some point, and his armor and circuitry were cracked and blackened in patches across his body. As for the others, like Robin himself, they were covered in cuts and bruises, and were all showing signs of reaching the point of total exhaustion… well, except for Gadjo, who was still smiling maniacally beneath that ridiculous mustache (and where had that come from, anyway?). But then, for all the Boy Wonder knew, the madman could just as easily be on the verge of collapse and was simply hiding it.
On the other hand, the Oni – or at least, those who were still standing – seemed to still be in near prime condition. And even if they weren't, they were quickly learning from their mistakes. They were working as a unit, rather than seeking single glory, and Ikazuki had broken out magic of his own. Even now, the blue demon stood before Robin, katana engulfed in black flames.
"Well fought," he said, "It has been many a year since we have fought a battle with such close odds. But you are on your last legs. Surrender now, and His Majesty may yet show you mercy and allow you to live as slaves."
"I think I speak for all of us when I say that ain't gonna happen," Cyborg said, aiming his remaining sonic cannon at the samurai. Robin smirked at that, giving a slight nod and tightening his grip on the bo in his hands.
Ikazuki gave a smirk of his own at the answer, fangs gleaming in the dim light.
"I expected nothing less," he replied, "Decorum merely demanded that I make the offer, and you have my respect for refusing. But that will not save you. Take them!"
The encircled heroes and villains tensed as the charge began. But before the Shadowkhan had taken two steps, Robin saw something strike the ground at Ikazuki's feet. The ground between the forces exploded, sending up dirt and smoke.
He heard a familiar hiss, gas.
"Titans!" he began, but then heard screams. The enemy.
"My eyes, my eyes!" Ikazuki screamed, the others also crying out. The smoke settled in time for Robin to see them run or leap down into shadows, yellow foam scattering in their wake.
"Told ya the debris wouldn't be a problem," a man chuckled. Robin looked up to where he assumed Gadjo had entered. A blonde, bearded man wearing a black mask and a green Robin Hood outfit stood there, leaning slightly on a modified longbow.
And he wasn't alone.
"Huntress! Batman!" he exclaimed.
"What am I, chopped liver?" Green Arrow griped.
Firing off a cable, Batman descended to the ground, Huntress close behind.
"We made a point of creating some onion-based weaponry after Zhu Chan's threat level spiked so suddenly. Should have made more," Batman commented.
"Should have made none, mortal!" Ikazuki growled, rising from a shadow so quickly he seemed to actually pop off the ground. His comrades likewise emerged, wearing enraged expressions.
X X X
Jinx ducked behind a fallen tree as another explosion ripped across the battlefield. Batman was here.
Crap, crap, crap! Even if they won, she was going to jail, wasn't she? And if the HIVE was in shambles, she might actually be there a long time. Ugh, prison was very unfair to people like her. Orange did not go with her natural colors, AT ALL.
"Jinx, excellent to see a loyal face," the Headmaster's voice reached her. Jinx stiffened reflexively at that voice, anticipating the 'greasy' sensation that seemed to come with communicating with the man. It didn't come, and when she peeked out from cover, she saw him still locked in that stock, with a drenched head. And sutras attached to the wood; she could sense magic at work.
"Well, hurry up and free me. The HIVE can still turn this around," he commanded. She almost moved – he was the Headmaster, and it went without saying she would obey him or else. Except, did it really? He had been beaten easily, it seemed, and was a backstabber. Would he be an asset or liability right now?
As for fear of him, if kept locked in there, wasn't there a good chance whoever won he would either go to big boy Justice League Max Prison, or get his brain eaten?
"Sorry sir, I aced Self-Preservation, remember!" she said, before running off, still crouched for cover.
"Minions," Blood growled, wood cracking under the strain as he exerted his muscles against it.
X X X
"Reinforcements?" Tarakudo remarked, the air rippling between him and the darkness swirling around Raven. The darkness that was receding as he slowly advanced through the air.
"A fine contest, I haven't been so challenged since the Noble Rooster. But this is not your best trick, and you are fatiguing," he observed.
"Bragging about beating a chicken?" Raven drawled. Her face twitched in what could be a mocking grin, or a wince as another layer of the enscrolled darkness was ripped away.
"Do you think I'm Zhu Chan or one of the professional 'bad guys' to rise to that bait? I am upper case Evil, and I'm not here to tie Miss Tessy to the tracks, I'm going to derail the train so I can rebuild it to better suit my needs.
"And just so you know, I am not going to repeat past mistakes. Calling back our armies now would delay the plan significantly. But if necessary, I will drown the lot of you and this city quite literally in a sea of Shadowkhan and steel.
"You can't win. Period. You were going to do something with Zhu Chan because of that book, right? Well, as I said, I'm through making old mistakes.
"But judging by your alignmentally androgynous attire, and the scent of your ancestry, I am guessing you are not quite a white cape yourself, more like flour coated cape, with something that is grayer than your skin underneath."
"You love your voice," Raven managed.
"Purely and faithfully. Though alas, sometimes I fear it is a love unrequited.
"Point is, in my experience, people who try swimming in the shallow end of the alignment pool often are the better swimmers at the deep end. Plus, you have the breeding.
"So what about signing on to Team Shadow? Or you could pull that 'true friends or loyalty to light and etc.' line and I just push through your remaining defenses and crush your bones into paste."
"Go… Screw!" Raven eyes flickered red, but the color faded, letting her purple pupils glare at him.
"Not unexpected. Ta-Ta!" he grinned, showing off a mouthful of fangs.
Then an onion smacked into his face.
"Been awhile since I threw vegetables at a speech. Forgot how good it can feel," A faceless man with black hair, a blue suit, and a fine fedora said, stopping out from behind a battered tree, dusting off his jacket.
"My eyes! My eyes!" The King screamed, darting off. Raven stumbled under the lack of pressure, but a gloved hand grabbed her shoulder, steadying her.
"Good to go?" Question asked. Closing her eyes, Raven took a deep breath. Opening them, she met what should be his eyes and nodded.
"I hear you have the answer to this invasion. What do you need to make it happen? I'm fairly sure we can best these inter-dimensional bandits with delusions of grandeur, but it sounds like they have a big red button to push," Question said.
"Starfire, this book… and something we can't get," Raven admitted, pulling the book back out from the magic pocket space in her cloak.
"Would that be me?" Kagehime asked. Raven nearly hurt her neck whipping her head around to where the Shadowkhan stood plain as day, hat off, letting her scratch at the top of her shaved head, apparently suffering quite an itch.
Question turned to regard her more sedately.
"Shaved head. Keeping with the Japanese theme, is this a spiritual shift from Shinto towards dark Buddhism?" he questioned, tapping his chin.
"No. Now go grab the alien princess, you'd better do this before my chaotic dial flips against you," Kagehime snapped, crossing her arms.
X X X
Tarakudo emerged from the Shadow Realm back into the light, his expression irked but calmed. One of the best parts of retreating to the Shadow Realm, like a mortal taking a good whiff of opium – not enough to muddy the thoughts, but enough to knock the sharp edges off of distracting passion.
A quick assessment of the battlefield showed unacceptable progress. Even with Taichi back up and having another round with the berserker, the enemy was avoiding drawn out duels, swapping and confusing his remaining Generals. Ikazuki had been defeated in Section 13 by such an application of unexpected tactics.
He was confident his men would win; onions weren't that bountiful and their endurance would outlast. But to be honest, he was done with this!
"Generals, Kage Tsunami!" Tarakudo yelled.
They did not look to him for confirmation, no need. And he felt the outward flow of so much of their chi pause and oh so slowly pull back.
His third eye through the shadows let him see it. The black circle was constricting and thickening, speeding up by the moment.
A pity to lose a ready-made underground lair and so many vassals, but you don't get far in the dark forces without stealing and breaking someone else's eggs.
And why was someone chanting a chi spell?
Dread pooling in his absent stomach, he honed in on the sound and a ripple of mental strength ripped away a wild hedge, revealing a jaw-dropping scene.
Kagehime was back, it seemed, and was standing cross-armed as the hanyou chanted and the orange girl's eyes glowed green. The faceless man threw an onion at him again, but Tarakudo dodged and sent the man flying with another burst. Kagehime turned to glance at him and cocked a smile.
"What did you expect? I'm pumped on your chi," she said.
"YOU UNGRATEFUL SHIT!" he roared, as the shadow tsunami darkened the walls, bursting forth and curving downward as it finally became solid. Brilliant green chi speckled with orange burst forth from the alien to strike the blue girl.
The falling shadows halted, and the world became still.
"Glad we had sake first," Kubota broke the silence. Energy exploded from Kagehime, green with red shards floating on its swirling currents, sending the heroes flying. Ikazuki was struck by one, and with a howl of rage tried and failed to finish a killing blow on the green archer. Instead, his mask clattered to the ground, glowing.
The energy streaked and struck out, even out of sight to the Generals not present.
"SO CLOSE! DIEEEE!" The Lord of all Shadowkhan bellowed. There was no escape, but he would drag the brat down with him!
"No." The pink-haired witch he knew from Jade's memories leapt between him and his prey. Her hex bolts hardly slowed him, and he was posed to crush her into fertilizer, when green lanced him.
"I WAS SO CLOSE! IT'S NOT FAIR!" He yelled as the stillness came over him.
"Fair? You fail in your defeat speech, jerk," the witch spat as his vision gave way to black.
X X X
Jinx squinted her eyes, watching the magic fill the air. Something opened as the green streaks pulsed like a suspended nervous system, hot and pulling up storms.
An eye, but not – a portal? More green surged through it, filling the nexus that had been Tarakudo.
Susano was laughing, and as the green cut off, letting her see a painful display of color and light through that opening, the other HIVE student leapt into it, framed for an instant against a horrid infinity.
With a snap, it was all done. The portal was gone, and small explosions rocketed the masks up and out of sight. Glancing up, she saw a hole for each General that had been the room. Her magic intuition told her those holes punched clear through to the surface.
"It's over, then?" Robin said. Jinx watched him walk past her and pick up the red mask.
"Is it?" a gravelly voice said behind her. Jinx closed her eyes. Batman was behind her.
Bad, bad day.
"Well, this has been a rather unexpected setback," Brother Blood said. He walked out of the smoke, shirtless and bruised but smiling, as the HIVE also emerged from hiding around the heroes.
The other standing villains also edged away, save for Gadjo, who was standing his ground. Twirling that mustache (where had that come from?), he eyed the Leaguers, settling on Batman with a smile.
"The barrier is down," Batman stated. Jinx blinked at that, turning to look at him and backing up. She felt like she could collapse any moment. But she couldn't yet.
Apparently Blood got what Batman meant, judging by his scowl.
"Go then. But pursue at your peril," He threatened.
"As if you aren't running from Superman and half the Justice League. Maybe letting you go isn't the best option," Green Arrow pointed out.
She didn't get why the heroes seemed to turn their attention to Robin.
"…Another day. Today is over," Robin said.
"Then turn her over," Blood demanded, pointing. Jinx finally spotted her. Zhu Chan, held by Starfire, wrapped in what looked like Raven's cloak. What was that green on her forehead, though? Raven didn't have the cloak on, so that must be it.
Did Blue lose her outfit again? That girl.
'Oh man, I really need to lie down. But she should be okay now. That's good. I didn't kill her, either way.'
"For you to avenge yourself on? I don't think so. Run," Robin commanded. The heroes closed ranks, hiding the girl from view.
"…So be it. But there will be another day, Boy Wonder. The HIVE is far from finished, with this city and with her," Blood vowed.
He turned his back and it really was over, Jinx thought. She joined the exodus, going through the fast evac protocol in her head.
18 Hours after the conclusion of the Shadow Crisis:
Waller knew he was there, and walked in anyway. He wasn't sitting at the kitchen table. He never liked to sit down. Just like she sat for chess and meetings, he stood for action however much he possessed a great mind.
"At this rate, maybe I should just give you a key," Waller remarked.
"You made a point that I could find you. Don't pretend otherwise."
"I assume you're here about the Shadow Crisis? Good work there, by the way. Zhu Chan caught us all off-guard."
"We both know that's not true. There was no plan on her part. Either it was a coincidence triggering a curse she was unaware of, or she was a sleeper with no knowledge. You would know – after all, you have been watching her. And the entire HIVE."
"Do you have a point? Some of us have meetings to attend."
"You are behind the HIVE. All those villains being groomed – you could have shut them down anytime with their own tech, and still let them run rampant."
"Exactly. And you know why, which is why you aren't making leaks or taking that to your friends with their white hats, rich boy. Blood was a problem; the HIVE was a controlled issue before him."
"He's still running the HIVE from whatever beta site the HIVE has run off to. With your help."
"Not for long, I assure you. His successor, much more controllable by the way, we have been able to move up with this chaos.
"You know how this works. You bring the hammer down and all those young villains go off into the world like a bounced bee hive and do who knows what. Would you rather Gadjo be out killing civilians for trifles, or maiming villain students and committing crimes that at least point him away from the masses?"
"And you are measuring him for a brain bleach into a killer for you. Otherwise he wouldn't be there.
"I can't 'prove' anything; if I could, I would be sorely tempted. I never forget what you have on me, and still I might show you to the world."
"Oh please. Self-preservation has never motivated you any more than me. For both our flaws, we are defined by our causes. We give up everything for them in the end, knowing it will leave us alone and unthanked."
"Zhu Chan was a fine prospect for Cadmus. Just goes to show, no amount of preparation or information can prepare you for every outcome. How is she doing? And that red mask the King was sucked into?" Waller asked.
"You don't need to know," Batman said.
"Well, I will find out eventually-" she turned to find herself alone.
"Show off," the director remarked.
The Titans stood together, looking at the large monitor, watching the now alone blue girl with little nubs of green horns. Their expressions, blank, wary, and Cyborg's scowl, were cast in the florescent light of the Watchtower.
A door slid open, and the Martian Manhunter emerged.
"Titans," he greeted politely.
"Manhunter, did you learn anything?" Robin asked. It irked him they weren't the first to know, but they had not been able to stick around, with the chaos in their city left in the wake of the Shadow Crisis. He could hardly expect them to just sit on a potential threat and not follow up.
"Yes, but not as much as you want, Robin.
"Her mind is not as solid as it should be, but nor is it unstable. The transferred chi seems to have mingled with part of her, creating the current personality. But her deeper thoughts, and I believe core self, are sealed away, protecting them from contamination. How I cannot say, possibly a defense for her species. But I dare not try and breach it.
"She is currently quite cooperative, emulating you it seems, Starfire. But beyond some memories of the HIVE, she seems ignorant of herself. She claims to know her name still, but refuses to say it. Unless someone guesses it.
"I cannot tell whether that is a lie or truth. Zhu Chan herself may not know," J'onn reported. He seemed saddened, but it was hard to tell.
"Dangerous?" Robin asked.
"No. If anything, she is positive. She recalls your team and states a desire to join. I deem it sincere, but I cannot be certain it is not simply an effect of Starfire's chi.
"She has been cleared as no longer a threat to warrant incarceration, and in my opinion there is little good hospitalization can do her. However, her mental state is such that full release would be unwise, if for no other reason than she may pose unintentional danger to herself and others.
"Raven is, as of now, the leading expert in the chi sorcery at the root of this condition. In light of this and your team's experience with her, I would ask you to consider taking her under your care in a monitor basis," he said.
They talked for a time on what that would entail, with him leaving them alone to decide. Robin pondered the risk, but also the responsibility he felt. Cyborg had been oddly silent. He had already returned to staring at the girl hovering around the secure wardroom. Starfire joined him, and turned to face Robin.
"So to be clear, the Zhu Chan is in many ways a happy blank slate?" Star asked.
"…That seems to be what it boils down to," Robin admitted. Starfire glanced back at the screen and then gave a Robin a small smile.
"Do you think she would like to be friends now?" the alien redhead asked.
H.I.V.E. Arc: END
Next: StarJade Interlude
Do Mine eyes deceive me?! A PDJ update from Kassel? Has something gone wrong?!
Well yes as a matter of fact something did go wrong RL. But that is neither here nor there. So to fanfiction matters instead.
To be clear the arcs conclusion does not mean to look for a sequel. This story is not over. And nor is the criminal career of Zhu Chan I assure you. Nocturne envisioned the StarJade as a miniarc, but frankly I have few idea for it so a single chapter should cover that.
Then ohohoho then! We move onto the next arc! There will be thrills, explosions, the return of Kitten, new shadowkhan, more explosions, masks, and a man... wearing... a... hat!
But that will not be quick as my next goal on this site will be Qeuen of all Oni being updated. There's another story also on the verge of being updated.
Hope this chapter wasn't too disappointing after the wait. For now enjoy some PDJcanon omake tying this story with another:
"4,754. 4,755. 4,756," Commodore Chan said pointing to each cannonball in turn. The sun was high and bright the sea gulls were aloft and in fear of her; while the wind smelled of the sea and Adventure.
Yet here she was ordered to count all the canon balls in Marineford by Admiral Afro Buddha himself! And he had two CP goons trailing her to make sure he actually did it. Let's see when would be the next time she let him pay for her lunch again!
"This is so ridiculous!" she shouted stamping the her foot. Her steel boot went through the white stone. Grumbling she pulled her foot from the new hole and shook the debris off.
"He's is so over reacting. I mean how was I supposed to know the thing would explode; or that the other thing was that important. And I still say that kid was up to something. I don't care if you're a Dragon or whatever, kids that young should NEVER wear sunglasses! And besides I created a nice big wave to put most of fire out, eventually" she declared leveling an accusing finger at her minders.
"Get back to work," suit number 1 said. Hmm, he was wearing sunglasses too, Chan noted. She should report it to Admiral Afro Buddha, or Garp Sensei.
Then a scary burning hole opened in the air atop the small pyramid of cannonballs.
"Hey I've seen that before!" the Commodore exclaimed. A dark haired woman fell out of the burning overly colorful hole, hit the top most cannonball head first and slid down, in bumpy fashion to arrive nearly at her pointy steel tipped feet.
"Hey you're not a woman. Welcome to Marineford okama! Here to enlist?" she asked. The goons behind her were whispering, but she was the resident expertly on burning holes in reality.
The okama looked up and saw her in her glory, and screamed.
"Wait a minute! I'd know that scream of terror anywhere. Choreboy Sus! You're back!" she cheered. She threw her arms wide to embrace her former charge. And it had the added bonus of making her officer jacket flap out all cool like. But instead of a touching reunion with his lovely Marine master, he leapt back up the pyramid of iron in a most undignified fashion.
"Nnononononononoo!" he said as he scrambled back to the shrinking hole in existence. She applauded as he actually grabbed its edges and pulled it back from porthole size to widen once more. And slipped though still blathering his denials. He almost lost a foot, but with a firing belching noise the conflagration was gone.
"I lose more choreboys that way. Chachchacha! But did you see that scramble! And he just grabbed it! Why when I first met him he would have stopped to think before hurling himself into fiery peril of doom! When he gets back i should probably promote him to junior petty officer third class. Or something," she chuckled applauding the display.
"Well back to business," she said cracking her knuckles.
"Uhh, one, two, three, four," she resumed counted the canon balls blushing a bit.
Yes there is only one Susano. And yes this ties into the Lost Episode of JOD. I hope to write that sometime soon to help ease back into that story.
Long days pleasant nights.