I Can't Believe the News Today…

September 3, 2010

"The city is still in a state of shock today following the bombing of a Downtown pizzeria yesterday that resulted in over two dozen dead and hundreds wounded. JCPD spokespeople have announced that the terrorists, using the name "Illuminati", has confirmed their responsibility. According the JCPD, the supervillain known as "Dr. Light" is believed to have orchestrated the bombing, leading police to reclassify the former criminal a "terrorist" and calling on the FBI to help aid in his capture…"

September 2

The Titans, still in full costumes, sit on the patio of the pizzeria that has long been one of their favorite places to hang out. Given the ease at which they seem to be in, Raven's absence may be noticed only slightly. In her place, Herald sits along with the group, a possible sub-in for the part-time empath.
Though the young adults sit in peace, they're being observed with caution, making sure none of the Titans pick up on the viewer's location.
"See-More, any movement?" the throaty voice of Mammoth asks over an earpiece.
"Nothing. They don't suspect a thing." A grin on his face, See-More would love it if the heroes didn't move for another few moments.

"Gizmo's rigging the device now. Any word from Light?"

"He wants to know why you're taking so long."

A growl sounds through the earpiece but See-More ignores the incoming rant "That ass is getting' on my nerves!"

Down at the car, Mammoth and Gizmo are in plain clothes to avoid detection by the residents. Despite being out of the news for over a year, they can't afford to be caught in this delicate stage.

Mumbling quietly to his partner, Mammoth demands "Speed it up, would ya?"

Under the car, Gizmo's busy finishing up the lock on the T-Car's security. Another few seconds and he'll be free to open the vehicle without alarm. "Shove it, brickhead. This is delicate work!"

"I can be delicate, short shrimp! Let me throw the car at them, that'll do the same thing."

"Can't you think beyond that lump of a brain in you head, sasquatch? They can avoid something like that. Hehe, but this is something they'll never see coming."

Sitting bored on a chair in the middle of the room, Light's mind wanders as he watches dozens of people work about his new headquarters. No more Fatal Four, no more being a coward in this city, it's all him now. Maybe that's a wrong way of saying it, considering if it weren't for the Fatal Four or the Watchman, he'd never dream up a plan quite so brilliant.

"Dr. Light, sir, the HIVE member See-More reports a few more minutes to disarm the car."

Looking over at the voice, Light notices one of his newest recruits have a fire motif going. Red hair, red eyes, a costume made of red material with flame designs along the legs, this woman's got some serious pyrophila going on here.

"For how smart that little brat is, you would think he could learn to pick up the pace."

Light's definitely in a sour mood so maybe a little finesse will work here. "According to See-More, they have a lot of time to work with. The Titans have just settled in and shouldn't be out for awhile."

Eyes turning back to the room, he notes idly that both Punk Rocket and Johnny Grunge pass by, debating music. "I should've sent some brawn with them to keep them in check."

"We would have sent Cinderblock but you suggested that his brains might..." The report in her hand details his current whereabouts, despite what Light might care to know.

"I don't want that walking hunk of destruction to ruin this delicate operation. How are we supposed to bask in the spotlight if we have nothing but dim-witted morons for pawns?"

"I hate to ask but does that include me sir?" Even though that could be taken as a threat, the playful smile on her face reveals other intentions.

"No," Light responds, looking back to the young villain "you have the potential to do very well in our line of work." Standing up, he cracks his back a little and starts for the door to his right "In the meantime, I have work to do. With the Titans out of the way, we can get some real business done around here."

The sounds of a vicious firefight echo across a warehouse complex in North Jump. Four vans of Desade fighters, led by Rose and Marin Desade charge towards what appears to be a joint Bulletface-Triad operation.

"Take out the snipers and clear out the front entrance." Pointing to another group, he orders "Split from the group up by that container and take the rear! Move!"

With dust and dirt being kicked up around them from automatic rifle fire, they zig and zag towards the building, take a few casualties as they run.

Leaning up against a box container, the group catches their breath, waiting for an opening.

"Marin, this plan's gone to shit!" Rose barks, elbowing him with her free arm.

"Someone must've tipped them off. But we're this close, we can take it!" Marin declares, trying to boost his men's morale.

Looking out for a second, Rose sees their chance. "The others made it behind the building without being shot at!"

"Good! When they start firing, we'll move in! I'll see you inside!"

The sounds of dual firing beginning, the fight moves inside from both sides as Marin and company make from the box to the entry door.

Stopping at the door, Marin tossing Rose a gift to throw inside. "GRENADE!"

After a harsh explosion, the dozen or so Desades burst into the factory, aiming at anyone in black suits or yelling in Chinese. Moving his hands to direct them, Marin and Rose order their troops forward as they charge any would-be Desade killers.

"Move up to the second floor! Watch out for shooters on the scaffolding!"

Some of the gangsters find themselves in close proximity, forcing a few to fight hand-to-hand. Several stab each other while victors are cut down by rival survivors.

Marin, with Rose at his back, rush up the stairway leading to the main office, ready to end this once and for all. Bursting into the room, the lead man aims his gun at Marin faster than the Desade can aim his own gun…

But before the killing bullet is fired, the lead Bulletface member is struck still and nerves spazzing as a long, needle-like pike is burst through his right eye and out of his head.

"ROSE!" Marin shouts angrily, seeing the display extending from her finger to the man's head ten feet away. "NOT IN FRONT OF THE MEN!"

Retracting the blade back into a normal finger, she shrugs with a grin of malice "I saved your life, asshole, remember that!"

He doesn't have time for this, there's more fighting downstairs "We have respect on the knowledge that we're normal human beings. If the guys think we're some kind of meta-freaks, they could abandon us."

"I'm tired of hiding who I am! Why should I have to pretend I'm not special when I am?"

Pushing past her, he rushes for the stairway "Forget this, we're not done here!"

"but you see, the turtle just kept on coming, even though the rabbit was much faster than he was. He kept pulling himself forward as the rabbit just ran ahead, laughing that racing the turtle was a waste of time…"
Dozens of wide-eyed, all-ears children pay attention to the woman reading the classic fairy tale to them. Nevermind the rain or the other kids moving about the library, their rapt attention is brought in by the woman at the fore. Despite speaking as well as a teacher ten years older than herself, the woman speaks eloquently, the perception of her being "odd" with her purple hair and pale-peach skin fading away under her commanding tone.
"Then what happened?"
"Well, the rabbit, he said he didn't even need to run to the finish line, I can take a nap and still beat you!" Several of the kids laugh, knowing what the others don't and what's about to happen.

"But the turtle just kept on coming, even as the rabbit slept… And a few hours later, as the rabbit opened his eyes, he suddenly realized "OH NO! HE'S ABOUT TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE!" At the statement, she raises her eyebrows, acting along with the rabbit, getting another laugh from the children. "It was too late… By the time the rabbit got up to cross the line, the turtle had pulled himself over the line! The foolish rabbit lost, and do you know why?"

Almost in unison, the kids answer to the likeness of "never give up" or "don't be stupid like the rabbit."
Closing the book, she stands up and, despite their protests, announces her time with them is up. Slowly but surely, their chaperone funnels them out, a few them wishing her a good day and thanking her for reading to them. If there's one thing this woman had never expected to find in her ill-fated life was that one day, despite the world-ending threat she once possessed, even children would be happy to have her in their presence…
"Ms. Roth?"
Turning to the voice, she responds with a small smile, their faces still in her mind "Yes Mrs. Baker?"

"I really do appreciate you coming down here to read for the children. They always ask me "when is the nice lady coming to read for us again?" You've become their favorite guest over these past few months."
With a polite bow of the head, Ms. Roth thanks her for the high praise "I'm still getting used to it, this is still kind of new to me."

Putting a hand to the younger woman's shoulder, the lady before her assures her with a broad smile "I'd say you're a natural, Ms. Roth. We need more people like you in the world, trying to put our kids on the right path so early in their lives."

Even she can't resist the smile growing, the praise growing a bit higher. "It's the least I could do. Will you be needing me next week?"

Letting her go, the elder woman turns about with a smile "Of course. They might throw a fit if you don't."

Outside of the library, Ms. Roth sits in the doorway of the building, taking in the beautiful, late-summer sunshine. How long has it been since she's taken this path? Six months? Seven? Seems like a lifetime since she took her first, real steps into this brave, new world… even longer since Gar was here to see her in person. At the though of the "wayward Titan" as Rob used to refer to him, she muses to herself "He'd laugh if he saw me doing this… hell, I wouldn't blame him."

In the silence of the entrance, the bright sunlight nearing her face, she reaches into her pocket, producing a well-worn, faded one cent penny. Eying it in her hand, she thinks back to the day he gave her this simple thing, an impossible gift to help remind her of her humanity, even with Trigon bearing down on the world… So small a gift and yet so genuine in it's intentions.. Hard to imagine that the teen who gave her this is in a prison cell three-thousand miles away…

A sigh on her lips, she whispers to herself "I wonder if he's ok..."

After the meal while the men stay behind a moment to talk "strategy" regarding the current situation in Jump, the girls excuse themselves to do some talking of their own in the car. This immediately sets off warning bells in See-More's mind. Getting on the radio, he calls down to Gizmo and Mammoth "I hope you two are done playing with your dicks because Starfire and Argent are heading your way!"

"Get real, I'm not done yet!"
"Can you stall them up there?"
Mammoth pleads over the speaker.

"WHAT? How am I supposed to do that? I'm six stories up!"

As the HIVE villains argue amongst themselves, fate has delivered them a miracle in this situation. Private HIVE, now officially a Private First Class in the United States Marine Corp, walks past the T-Car and towards the two heroines.
"Hey!" the former villain calls out, seeing his former enemies out so casually.

"Whoa, check out the man in uniform." Argent whispers to Starfire, seeing the tan and blue suit before who's inside the uniform.

"I know him. You are the Private HIVE, yes?" Starfire asks, seeing the man eye-to-eye now.

"Formerly, now I'm Private First Class Cipes. I've come home for some leave."

Clasping her hands together, Starfire seems to brighten up more than usual for the occasion. "Really? You have given up the ways of evil-doing?"

Nodding, he affirms "Yes ma'am, I serve the United States now before myself. The villain thing wasn't working so I decided to turn things around."

"Finally someone gets the picture." Argent compliments, pointing out "And the uniform definitely works better for you than spandex."

"Thank you, ma'am. Sorry to rush but I'm due at my next recruiting post. It's been a pleasure meeting you again, both of you."

"You will take care now." Starfire wishes as he embarks on his way.

"He's come a long way, eh Star?" asks the red-haired Aussie as she watches HIVE march away.

"He is much happier too, I can tell."

"Wow, you gotta be kidding! You, Private HIVE just showed up and talked to Starfire and Argent!" See-More announces through a grin.

"Cool news. That traitor just did us a favor so I guess we can call it even." Gizmo responds with an evil, little chuckle.

"The package is in place. Let's get the hell out of here!" Mammoth asks, clearing the area with Gizmo following suit…

"According to witnesses near the bomb site, the target of the attack was the "T-Car", the name of the Titans' personal vehicle. They say that the back of the car exploded in a large fireball, far too powerful to be faulty engine parts. Heat from the blast could be felt as fall as six blocks away with many sustaining second and third degree burns. All twenty of the victims were killed in a thirty-feet radius of the explosion, many instantly... And we've received word from the JCPD… in a statement from the coroner's office, they've identified the corpses of Titans' members Starfire and Argent… We repeat, the JCPD has confirmed that Titans' members Starfire and Argent were killed in the bombing yesterday afternoon. The rumors had been swirling since last night but we, regrettably, now have proof that two of the city's most decorated crimefighters have died in this heinous terrorist attack…"

The tragedy and effects of the "Bloody Sunday" bombing in Jump City spreads throughout the United States. The announcement by Dr. Light has indicated a dramatic shift in criminal activity throughout the underworld, signifying that no longer will villains be treated as simple annoyances to be put down from time to time.

However, in Jump City, even the city's underworld holds mixed emotions following the attack. The Big Three gangs of Jump City, long-time enemies to the Titans, send their condolences following the bombing, calling the attack by Light "despicable and going too far." Arthur Void, another enemy of the Titans, calls on the City Government to crack down on masks to "help make Jump City a safer place once again". The Triple Threat, who's leader Madame Rogue was an archenemy of the group, declares it's support in finding their former teammate and offering a million of their own money to find Dr. Light.

The funeral for the two heroines was attended by over ten-thousand of the city's residents and the Titans' friends and families. Australian dignitaries and a grieving Blackfire were in attendance as Archbishop Niederauer read the eulogies for the lost heroes. As with Jinx's funeral, it doesn't pass anyone's notice as one former Titan is absent from the service…

Sitting alone in his cell in Arkham, a badly unshaven, hollow-looking Garfield Logan stares at the door, ever silent as not to disturb something in his mind.

His attention, however, is pulled away by the sight of a pale woman in black standing before him. Speaking his first word aloud in nearly two months, Gar squints his eyes to ask "Death?"

A finger again to her lips, she whispers softly to him "No time for questions, Gar. There's a few people who want to talk to you before they move on."

Still squinting, Gar can only wait before two souls before him force his eyes wide open. 'No…"

A/N2: End of side-story. This wasn't meant to be pretty (although as of yesterday this didn't even exist). I realized that just "announcing" the Illuminati was meaningless without a major action. However, I don't believe that the two of them were the intended target, I believe all 5 were. And as I told my "consulatant" on this story, you can't kill a major character without major consequences or a major setup. Can you imagine what Rob... damnit, NIGHTWING... gonna do now that his other half has been murdered?

- I tried to stay away from more U2isms but this fit the bill perfectly. The title is the opening lyrics to "Sunday Bloody Sunday".
- The fire girl is my OC, fleshing out later.
- Rose's power is first revealed although very T-1000-ish.
- Private HIVE is a name I liked and (as part of an idea in another draft) I made him a PFC in the USMC. One of the examples that bad can turn good.
- The "outpour" of sympathy by the criminals is mainly a farce, like most countries do after an attack, it's not real.
- Death makes another appearance since Gar seems to have a running link with her.

And to think it was gonna be Cyborg dying... thank you John for changing my mind.