The Titans stared at the figure that Danny had seemingly brought from thin air. Robin had just about to call Danny on his communicator, when they had heard an almightily howl. It had brought shivers to everyone's spines, including Raven's. They turned and saw the giant were-being that Danny had brought with him. Robin looked up into the sharp, fang-like jaw of teeth the being had.
"Saluton Phantoms amikoj. Mi estas ĉi tie por trovi la Tero-Bender. [Hello Phantom's friends. I am here to find the Earth-bender.]"
Starfire and Robin looked confused, and just a little bit more scared; Robin seemed in instinctively go into a battle stance, and Starfire began to float a little higher but Cyborg, Beast Boy and Raven understood.
"Saluton [Hello]" Raven said in greeting, her monotone speech not having a hint of fear.
"Saluton [Hello]." Cyborg said, carefully, after a moment.
"Hej dude, vi parolas Esperanton? [Hey dude, you speak Esperanto?]" Beast Boy asked, cautiously, and Wulf nodded, his claws retracting, and his paws looking more like human hands. Danny raised an eyebrow at the three Titans.
"You know Esperanto?" He asked the three of them.
"Yeah, how do you know it so fluently?" Robin asked feeling a little left out. His studies into languages had never covered Esperanto.
"I learnt it on Azarath" Raven shrugged, her face returning to the natural monotone.
"Universal translator subroutine in my head. He's just speaking English to me." Cyborg said, flicking his robotic head
"Duh. I can speak any language an animal can understand. Even dead ones." Beast Boy said.
"Robin, I must do the 'kissing' to sample and understand this language. Is that okay?" Starfire asked, about to fly over and kiss the giant being.
"N-no!" Robin quickly said panicking, grabbing her hand, and pulling her down to the ground. "No, it's okay. The others can translate for us, right?" he said, giving a death glare at the rest of his team. Raven rolled her eyes, but nodded anyway.
"Get any new information, while I was away?" Danny asked, smugly. Robin glared, but admitted "No, we don't have any leads, we're been asking civilians about what's happened while we were in hiding, and trying to get as many Slade bots off the street as we can." Danny nodded, and was about to comment, when Wulf quickly sniffed the air in front of them, his eyes narrowing.
"Tero. Grandaj odoro de la Tero-Bender proksima [Earth. Large smell of the Earth-bender nearby]" He said, lowering himself to the ground, and letting his claws retract once more. He went over to Beast Boy and sniffed his waist, something in his pocket. Beast Boy took out the simple heart box that he had made Terra, and Wulf sniffed it eagerly. "Ĉi tiu estas la Tero-Bender, ĉu ne? [This is the Earth-bender, is it not?]" He asked, his eyes darting, almost to pick out the sent trail that none of them could see.
"Y-jes, ĝi estas. Ĉu vi povas trovi Terra el tiu [Y-yeah, it is. Can you find Terra from this?]" Beast Boy asked, slightly nervous. If he could see Terra again, would he be able to bring her back, bring her back to the team, and his life? Would she even want to come back?
Wulf began running off in a direction, startling the Titans. "Come on, Titans! Follow that Ghost Wolf!" Robin shouted, and jumped on his nearby Robin-cycle.
"He's Wulf, not a wolf ghost, you idiot!" Danny said happily as he took to the skies with Raven and Starfire. He scanned the city below him and saw the startled faces of citizens as they watched Wulf bound through the empty streets, barrelling past any Slade Bots that may have gotten in his way. Danny and the Titans soon caught up to Wulf as he ran onto the eerily quiet docks. He stopped in front of one of the storage bays, not a single window was installed in the walls, and it had a single metal garage door as an entrance. Danny and Wulf phased inside it, and opened it from the inside, for the others.
Slade looked angrily down at his apprentice, who was bowing before him, half in shame, and half in paralysing fear for her punishment.
"You have failed me once again, apprentice. You have left me no choice but to punish you severely. With a swift side kick to her head, he knocked her to the floor. She shakily got up, and continued to bow to him, a small trickle of blood falling from the wound his metal boot had inflicted on her. Another kick, to the ribs, and he heard a snap and a sharp intake of breath as one of the ribs broke. She still bowed her head to him, waiting.
"You have betrayed your friends, taught them that you are the one they should fear, that you are no longer a helpless girl who doesn't know how to control your powers. But, you didn't kill them. You didn't capture them. You let them get away, you let them escape. And now they are at our door, with that ghost and his wolf. You may have ruined my plan to rid the world of the Titans, and take Jump City as my own." Slade said, poising to send a shock of electricity through her.
"I'm sorry, master. I have failed you, but I don't want to fight them anymore. They are my friends."
"They were your friends. Now you only have me. No one but me. You have chosen this life, the life of the apprentice over them. They see that, and so do I. The only person, who hasn't realised this, is you. You have done terrible things, hurt and destroyed. You are truly evil." Slade said, towering over her bowing form.
"No! I can't be evil. I wanted to show them humility, to show them that I'm not that stupid girl who can't control her powers! I'm not evil!"
"Oh but you are, terra. You have taken this city, and soon you shall help me take the country and the world for my own. You are my apprentice now. Don't you understand? There is no one that loves you anymore. No one that cares for you, but me."
"Slade! You tricked me you bastard!" Terra said, slowly standing up, despite her injuries. "You evil, manipulative, psychopath!"
"Yes Terra, I am all of those things and more. But you should have realised this before you put on the suit." Slade gently pushed a button on his wrist and Terra suddenly went into a bowing position again. "You are now my mine to control. The neurotransmitters inside it have been successfully grafted to your skin, letting me completely control you. You are powerless." Slade said, as he kicked her in the ribs again, letting something else snap. "Now apprentice. You promised that you would fight at my side forever. And that's a promise I intend to make you keep."
The Titans entered inside the building, quickly scanning their surroundings and all preparing for a fight. The storage bay was quiet, and dark, but not enough that they couldn't make out the silhouettes of around a hundred or so Slade Bots, ranging from the Human Slade variant, to the tall robots with metallic shells and claw appendages. Robin swore under his breath, and readied himself for a fight, but quickly figured out that they were all offline.
"Quick, let's find the entrance nearby." He whispered, afraid of some sound activated alarm system. The rest of the group nodded in agreement, and all flew up and over the robots, looking from the air for anything that might look like an entrance. Robin, beings air lifted by Starfire, saw that there was a lot more than a hundred of these robots. The place was filled to the very brim with them, of all different shapes and sizes. At the very back, a man was suspended in glass tank, naked apart from a pair of underwear. He seemed to have things implanted in him; a angry red chip, a hideous green growth, and a set of concrete blocks over his hands and feet, somehow not stopping him drop to the bottom of the tank. The man's breathing was harsh and erratic, almost like he was having a nightmare and various tubes full of harsh looking liquids were being pumped into him via IV's.
Robin shook his head, and continued the search. It was cold, so much that everyone could see their own breaths, most of all Wulf, whose breath left a large cloud of breath in front of his face. Danny narrowed his eyes; it was the middle of July, so why would the heat be so low? He looked around the room, trying to see any type of temperature control. He didn't want to be unprepared if a ghost decided to fight him. He spotted one near the door, and was about to turn it up, when the lights suddenly burst on and a loud voice sounded over the speakers. Danny and Wulf instinctively went intangible to avoid the cameras.
"You Titans should be dead. My apprentice has disobeyed me, and paid the price."
"Slade! What have you done to Terra?!" Beast Boy shouted, angry and frightful for his friend.
"Nothing she didn't deserve." The cold voice said.
"Slade, you've gone too far!" Robin said, standing tall, while his eyes searched for a door in the new light.
"Just try and stop me." The sound of hundreds of machines activating cut through the air, and made the hairs on Danny's back rise.
"Fuck." He breathed, as he, Wulf and the Titans sprung into action. The bots were quick, and managed to get a few shots into Cyborg's gut, before he powered up his Sonic Cannon and fired it into a crowd of them, stunning them, and making it easy for him to barrel them over with a yell and his large stature. He growled and checked his power levels; there was only forty percent left, the whole day, and not being able to charge up had left him drained. He knew that he might power down, if he did, that might be the tipping point for the battle.
Raven had risen up high into the air, grabbing nearby pipes, and using her dark magic to use it like a bat to smash into the robots, leaving various robotic parts scattered around the large storage area. She growled as she narrowly avoided the lasers that were being fired in her direction. She didn't have the reflexes or the excess energy left to raise a force-field to stop a robot from taking the pole out of her grasp and using it against her. With the sound of a defining crunch, she was thrown into the air, heading straight for a wall.
Danny saw Raven fall as he was icing over a patch of the robots himself, and flew with all the speed he had to try and catch her. Only a few meters away from the wall, he managed to grab her hand and turn intangible, narrowly missing the crushing impact. He slowed down, and brought her outside. Raven's eyes were closed and she looked unconscious, but she quickly opened them again, and Danny could see the determination in them.
"Off." She said, and flew up again to join the battle. Danny scoffed, and rolled his eyes. 'No thanks for saving your life then.' He thought to himself. He turned invisible, and began to freeze over the robots again, slowly draining himself. This fight wasn't going to last long if they didn't have some sort of escape plan.
Robin realised this, and his mind was reeling to find a way out. This had been a trap that Danny and his wolf friend had brought them too. Maybe he was right about Danny and his motives. He didn't know. He used his bow staff to spear an oncoming bot, while he threw an exploding bird-arang at another group fighting Starfire. He saw Beast Boy in the corner of his eyes, the look of anger and fury etched on his face as he turned from animal form to animal form. Robin looked with a sense of awe as he changed from a rhino to an anaconda, then a wolf, then a pterodactyl, all to take out as many robots as he could, he wasn't taking any blows that were sent to him, the wisecracking boy he had become friends with had been replaced with a determined robot killing machine, destroying anything in his range.
He also saw Danny's friend Wulf, who was almost as efficient at killing these bots as Beast Boy; the wolf was charging through the various waves of robots, not caring about the lasers or the claws that were threatening to hurt him. He growled and let out an ear-splitting roar as he smashed into one of the larger robots, his claws no more than a blur as he dug deep inside the machine, the metal acting like paper as he destroyed the internals of it, small machine parts scattering everywhere.
With renewed hope about the battle, he turned to the ever growing amount of robots he had to face, each steadily getting harder and harder to deal with, with his limited amount of weapons. He smashed the heads of some nearby Slade bots, hoping to incapacitate him with a swift boot to the head. Robin laughed mercilessly as he watched Starfire rain hell from above, her eyes glowing stronger then he had ever seen them, narrowly missing the swarms of lasers heading her way.
"Over here!" He heard a voice shout, and saw Raven's black energy pull off a large chunk of metal and send it spiralling into a crowd of bots. He saw Beast Boy fly down, into the floor below. Robin growled as he fought his way over, and was about to jump into the dark cavern below, when he heard the sound of glass shattering, and felt the earth shake under his feet. He looked over to the man suspended in the tank, and saw that it had been broken. A large being, made of electricity, green and purple growths, and heavy concrete stood three meters tall, and looked murderously at Robin. He swore under his breath, before he sprung into action again, hoping that Beast Boy knew what he was doing.
"Titans, take down the Tribrid!"
Slade waited patiently as he stared at the monitors, watching, analysing the various meta-humans and their heavy fighting techniques. He noticed, on his thermal scanner, that there had been a sudden appearance of the Phantom, something he had anticipated. He didn't anticipate, though, the involvement of the other ghost. Something he had never seen before, this beast had the strength of ten men, and the agility of the Phantom himself. He watched as many of his robots were torn and ripped apart. He scowled as Robin took out a few of them with an exploding disk of his, and decided that he should let his ace in the hole out, so the Titans couldn't keep him from his master plan.
He got up from his set of monitors, and walked over to his apprentice. She was standing completely still, apart from her head which was thrashing violently, trying to get her body to move, when he knew it wouldn't.
"You bastard Slade! Let me go!" Terra shouted, and thrashed harder. He came close to her, and cupped her chin with his hand, bringing to face his.
"You let this happen, Terra. This is all your fault, whether you like it or not. You have to face the consequences of your own actions." He said softly, almost mocking her. Terra tried to get her chin from his grasp, but couldn't move it. She instead spat on his helmet, aiming for his only eye hole. He simply laughed, and wiped away the spittle with the back of his hand, and then slapped her hard across the face with the same hand.
"You disgusting girl. I will enjoy making you kill Beast Boy." Terra gasped, and struggled harder against the suit. Just then a giant green tiger burst from the entrance of their hide out, roaring loudly, and dashing at Slade. He simply stepped back and let his control of Terra make her bring up a boulder, hitting Beast Boy in the stomach while he was in the air, and making Slade grin.
"Well well, seems you have found our little hide away, haven't you Beast Boy. Care to try and defeat me and my apprentice?" He asked. Beast Boy didn't say a word, but simply transformed into a rhino and charged at Slade, he was blocked by another boulder that was put in his way, which he charged through and broke into tiny fragments. Terra was made to summon an earth made platform and float in the air, her eyes glowing yellow and screaming in frustration as she tried to break the control. Beast Boy changed into a hawk and flew up, trying to get to Terra, but Slade's control just made her reflexes too fast for the bird. He made her throw pointed rocks at him, that he was having a tough time avoiding. One managed to graze his wing, so in a last ditch effort, he flew up above Terra, and turned into a whale.
Terra simply dropped downwards, slipping into the earth, and let the whale make the cavern shake with its weight. Beast Boy changed into his human form, and waited for Terra to resurface. He squinted as he didn't see Slade anywhere in sight. He must have slipped away to escape, Beast Boy thought. Without a second thought, he dodged an incoming boulder aimed at him by turning into a mouse. He looked up to see Terra, her eyes still yellow and standing on a new patch of earth. Small tears were running down her face as she raised her hands. Beast Boy sniffed, and scattered as he heard the rocks rumble from above, trying to avoid being crushed under the weight of them. Terra brought her hands down, and rocks began to smash down onto the floor below.
Beast Boy turned into a cheetah and rushed to the mouth of the cavern, where it was protected by the metal ceiling, but didn't make it far enough to stop himself getting hit by one of the many falling rocks. He let out a yowl of pain, and was hit by another rock, which trapped his paw underneath it. He changed back into his human form and yelled out in pain, small cuts were littered on his face, and a small pool of blood was forming under the rock. In his human form, he realised that the bone had been shattered, and was sticking out at an odd angle. He gritted his teeth against the pain, and stopped himself from passing out at the initial wave of agonising pain.
"Beast Boy!" Terra yelled from the earth. She was hovering a few feet above him, tears streaming down her face in horror and frustration at the scene. She had done this, she had hurt Beast Boy, made him bleed and was soon to murder him in cold blood. She yelled out in frustration, trying as hard as she could to stop the control Slade had over her.
"There's no use my apprentice. You cannot escape my control, not now, not ever." Slade said, as he stepped out of the shadows, slowly clapping. "Now, this is your chance. You will kill Beast Boy, and then we shall join the fight above. We shall destroy the Titans tonight, and this city will be ours!"
"No! I will never hurt Beast Boy! This isn't me Beast Boy, this isn't me! Slade is using the suit to control me!" Terra said desperately to the changeling.
"This is you, Terra. Everything that's happened to you is all your fault! You had the chance to walk away from Slade! You had the chance to join us, to live and be a hero! We didn't care that you didn't know how to use your powers! Raven would have taught you control, hell, I would have taught you!" Beast Boy said, tears slowly forming in his eyes "But you went with Slade, you started wearing the suit! You took the easy way out, and now look at what you've done! Only you can stop this now, Terra. We've done all we can, but now it's up to you." Beast Boy said.
"But I can't-" Terra began, before she was made to create a spike of rock by Slade.
"Enough of this, apprentice. It's time to take down the first of the Titans." Slade motioned, and the spike began to fly at Beast Boy's heart.
"No!" Terra said, and yelled in pain as she began to fight and beat the suits influence. She began to scream and shout as she began to pull the spike away from Beast Boy. Her eyes and hair began to glow brilliantly yellow as she fought, her muscles were taught and shaking with the amount of invisible strain on them. Her hair began to rise, seemingly having no gravity.
"NO!" She screamed, and the spike flew directly at Slade. His quick reflexes saved him, and he managed to dive out of the way. "I WILL NOT BE UNDER YOUR CONTROL ANYMORE!" She shouted at Slade, and made the floor crumble below his feet, creating a fissure and making him fall.
The rocks above began to shake as Terra's eyes glowed brighter still. She lifted the rock from Beast Boy's body, and floated over to him. The floor began to violently move, and bursts of lava began to erupt from the fissure that she had created, slowly beginning to fill the cavern.
"Beast Boy, I can't control it!" Terra said, as her hair began to splay out behind her, her power increasing further.
Above ground, the fighting was still in full swing, with most of the bots destroyed by the Titans, and the fight with Slade's monster was still going strong. Danny was using his axe to try and hack away the various parts of the monster, and had almost managed to separate the concrete from the rest of its body. Raven and Starfire were using their power of flight to mount an aerial attack on the monster, distracting it, and managing to land a few powerful blows. Robin, Cyborg and Wulf were slowly taking out the rest of the bots, while they attacked from the ground, leaving a small path of destruction.
The floor began to rumble, and made most of the bots become disorientated, making it easy for a few explosions from Robin and Starfire to take care of most of the remaining ones.
"What the hell was that?" Robin asked, as he pulled his bow-staff out of the bot he had just finished with. He was sweating and panting, his suit was torn and ripped, and he had a long bleeding scratch across his arm and a graze on the side of his face. He growled as he smashed his bow-staff into another robot, and pulled it out of his face.
"It the ground below. Whatever Terra did has set off a volcano, and-" Cyborg let loose a powerful beam from both of his sonic canons taking out at least ten of the bots "It's going to take out half the city! Beast Boy could be trapped down there!" Cyborg shouted to Robin across the sounds of fighting and robots exploding.
"Damn it, someone needs to go get him." Robin shouted.
"I'll get him!" Danny shouted back. He knew his ghost powers wouldn't last for very much longer, but he would be the quickest, and they didn't know how fast the volcano was going to explode.
"Good! Everyone else, get the hell out. We need to be clear of this place, and try to evacuate everyone we can!" Robin shouted as he flipped over a nearby bot, and let Starfire grab him in mid air.
"Wulf, ellabori la monstro, kaj poste la infero el! [Wulf, finish off the monster, and then get the hell out!]" Danny shouted as the building began to shake and collapse.
"Jes Fantomo [Yes Phantom.]" Wulf growled, and let out a loud howl as he dove at the creature, attacking him relentlessly, claws diving deep into the creature's skin and tearing chunks out of it. Danny sped away from the carnage Wulf was doing to the monster, and dove under the floor, into the cavern.
Danny sped over to Beast Boy and picked him up, but stopped when he saw the amount of blood on the floor, and the wound on his leg.
"No! Terra, you can't! You'll die!" Beast Boy shouted, as he watched Terra work against the flow of the lava.
"I have to Beast Boy; it's the only way to save the city!" She called back, and let herself levitate, her focus solely on the volcano below, and stopping it. Danny turned Beast Boy intangible with him, not giving the conversation a second thought, and flew him high into the air, going through the cavern, flying him into the air above the collapsing building.
"No! You need to go back, you need to save Terra!" Danny heard Beast Boy plead over the sound of the rushing air in his ears. Below, they watched as the building completely collapsed, and yellow light began to shine in between the cracks. An almighty screech was heard as a large amount of dust poured from the cracks and shrouded the ruins from view. Danny stopped, and Beast Boy was silent in his pleas.
"It's too late for her, Beast Boy. She's gone."
Danny watched from the hospital bed as Beast Boy slept. He had been in a coma for the last three days, and the other Titans were beginning to worry about him not waking up. He had lost a lot of blood, more than any human could have lost without passing out, and even with Raven's healing abilities or Danny's quick thinking to ice his leg; it had been hit and miss for the first day. Danny had volunteered to watch over Beast Boy during that time, to make sure he didn't suddenly get worse without anyone knowing. During the three days the cities citizens had all come back from their various retreats, and city had life had been restored, almost inhumanly quickly. Places that had been destroyed in the siege were all ready to be re-built, with specialist contractors already drawing up plans. It seems that Terra had sacrificed herself, and somehow managed to stop the volcano from erupting, but she had lost her life in the process. Danny had searched the ruins for her body, for a hero's burial, but only came back with a statue. It seemed, in her ultimate sacrifice, she had turned herself to stone. He had been asked by Robin to move the statue to the cave, off the shore of Titan's Tower.
Wulf had taken down the monster, and soon after it was captured from the rubble of the building and the robots, they had all been locked back up and reverted back to the three small time villains that had created the thing. Wulf himself had left through a rip he made, just as the floor began to fall beneath him, and Danny had since got in contact with him. Wulf had told him that he was going to take a few days off in his jungle. Danny had guiltily agreed, and promised not to call on him for a race for a while.
Danny had checked on the location of his parents, but it seemed that wherever they were, they hadn't come back with the citizens and that worried him deeply. The Titans had been happy enough letting him stay in a spare bedroom for a while, but Robin still seemed to suspect him to be more then he appeared. Danny was fine with that, so long that Robin didn't threaten him like had with Wulf, and then it didn't matter.
Danny watched as Beast Boy slowly began to open his eyes, his heart monitor slowly beginning to increase as he awoke. He blinked a few times, before he lifted his head from the pillow, and looked up at Danny.
"How is she?" He asked, his voice little more than a whisper. Danny looked away
"She... Didn't make it." He said, and leaned over to the button to signal the other Titans. Cyborg was the first to get to Beast Boy's room, having his heart monitor's results streamed to his internal system.
"Hey grass stain! How are ya'?" He asked, going the other side of the bed, and gently nudging him on the shoulder. Beast Boy shrugged, too tired and emotionally drained to do anything. Danny knew the signs, and said quietly.
"You've been out for three days, dude. Scared the hell out of everyone. Even Raven was getting worried for you, man. But we saved the city. You saved it, really." Cyborg told him, trying to get Beast Boy to talk. Beast Boy winced when he realised that no one else knew the whole story of what happened down there, apart from him. He could've only told Danny so much before he passed out.
"I think we should leave Beast Boy to himself. He probably needs sleep."
"Yeah, he probably does. Hey, I'll be back later with some tofu cakes and waffles, I know you love them." Cyborg said, and grinned at the changeling. Beast Boy nodded, and closed his eyes, slipping under the covers. Both Danny and Cyborg left, and told the others about Beast Boy's condition.
Beast Boy thought about the last thing Terra said to him. She had been so brave, and so stupid. He should have saved her. He should have done something to stop her from sacrificing himself, anything. He left tears fall from his eyes again, and felt the wave of tiredness hit him. He had loved her; she had been his best friend, and one of the only people he could tell anything too. He had wanted so much for them both, but now he knew that it wouldn't happen. It couldn't happen. With a final sigh, he let himself fall into a fitful sleep.
AN: Heh, this chapter isn't quite as late as the last one, but I only just had time to finish it. And it's over 5,000 words long! That's a personal record, that I'm quite happy with. Anyway, I'm sorry to kill Terra like that, but that's how it goes in canon, and as much as I've taken artistic liberties in this story arc, I didn't want to mess with the end result.
So Slade's gone! Dead, or so it seems. So what does that mean for Danny, or for Penny? Will she disappear from his life, or will something else happen? Only the next chapter will tell!
Till next time,
P.S. I'm currently looking for a quick Beta for this story, as many of you have suggested it to me. I just want someone to look it over and just point out the small errors in my prose, more than anything else.