-Robin training, discusses plans for finding Raven, combatting Beastboy. Says he'll go to bed soon.
-Silkie looking for BB, finds him just as he's about to drug Robin- makes loud noise waking Robin
Starfire wandered the halls of Titan's Tower
"SIIILL-KEEE" Starfire called as she moved through the hall of the Tower. "SILLL-KEE! This has ceased to be amusing, Silkie! To where have you gone?"
The alien princess had been searching for her pet for more than four hours now. It was quite strange, really. Since being 'rescued' from the walls of the Tower, the larva had been extraordinarily affectionate- following her all around the Tower and more than once having to be physically prevented from following her out on patrol. Yet for the last few days the tiny worm had been distant- he'd still been around the Tower, but hadn't paid her much attention. She had not seen him at all since last night. Starfire had begun to worry when he failed to arrive for his dinner- normally the highlight of his day. She had gone about her search methodically, beginning in the basement and slowly working her way up floor by floor. She had chosen to do this alone, reasoning that her friends would still be worn out from their recent efforts to find their friends. So it was that she found herself all alone in a darkened hallway, in a section of the Tower that was rarely in use.
She wasn't frightened, of course. Certainly not! Tamaranian's were a fierce warrior people, and their princess was the most fearless of all! She could hardly be frightened just because she was all alone in a dark and unfamiliar hallway, in the middle of the night. The very idea was laughable! She was however, more alert. Her every sense raised to its highest level… not out of nerves or any such thing, naturally, but out of focus on her search. So focused was she, in fact, that when she heard a sudden thump coming from one of the rooms which lined the corridor, she leapt high into the air and gave voice to a mighty battle-cry (which, admittedly, might have sounded to the uninitiated like a shriek).
Composing herself, Starfire crept up to the doorway and pressed her ear against the shut portal. Sure enough she could hear loud thumps and bumps coming from within. Clearly, her little bumgorf had wandered into an empty chamber and become trapped inside. Her first impulse was to race inside, rescue her precious pet, and shower him with affection and reassurances. But she forced herself to resist- Silkie had been most naughty and she needed to be stern with him, to prevent him from wandering around the empty spaces of the Tower again. She took a deep breath and burst into the room.
"You have been a very naughty boy!" She exclaimed, before noticing that Silkie was nowhere within.
Robin, who had been starting a handspring when the angry alien came in, tumbled forward onto his face. "GAH!" he exclaimed, rubbing his newly sore nose. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I know we said I was going to bed early but I just felt like I NEEDED to train!"
"Um, in truth, Robin I did not come here seeking you" Starfire said, a bit puzzled by this turn of events. "I have been seeking Silkie for many hours. You see, he did not come when I called him for his evening meal and so I went in search of him. I am afraid that he may be lost within the Tower once more, and I do not wish him to enter the walls."
"Oh, is that all?" Robin said, visibly relieved. "Well, I haven't seen him. Just let me shower up and I'll help you- uh, is something wrong?"
Starfire's face had darkened as a thought had occurred to you. "Wait a moment. You told us at dinner that you had not the energy to partake in relaxation time this evening, and that instead you would go to bed early. You said something similar two nights ago- and several days before that. Have you been lying to us- to ME- so that you could sneak away and train?"
"Err.." Robin said, sweating as he tried desperately to explain his actions.
"I do not wish to hear it. You will go to your bed at once, and rest in preparation for tomorrow's work. If you seem less than completely rested tomorrow morning, I shall be most angry with you." Starfire stated, pointing imperiously to the door. "Further, you shall not lie to me again- if you truly wish to train, you must say so. We will train together, so that I may be certain you are not pushing yourself too hard, and relax afterwards. Now go!"
Robin's feet were moving before his brain could even process what his girlfriend had said, much less formulate any sort of counter-argument. It was only later, as he got ready for bed that he realized why that was. Starfire had been trained almost from birth to rule a planet- the habits of nobility were so much a part of her that on the very rare occasions when she issued commands it was almost impossible to resist her. It was, he reflected, a good thing she didn't issue commands very often, otherwise she'd probably rule the world.
Back in his impromptu training room, Starfire let out a long sigh and resumed her search for Silkie. "He lies to his friends, avoids relaxation and hides in an isolated part of the Tower, all so he can work himself to exhaustion." she muttered to herself in Tamaranian "Why couldn't you have fallen in love with a normal human, Koriand'r? Now, where to find Silkie? I wonder why it has been so difficult to find him."
As the alien girl floated away, a set of segmented eyes watched her go, hidden within the darkness of an air vent. When he judged her far away enough for safety, Silkie wriggled out of the vent and dropped to the floor. Silkie was not lost. In truth, Starfire's beloved larva was actively hiding from her.
To understand why, it is important to understand Silkie's brain. When he had created X-239 as a pet for his daughter, Killer Moth had known that simply giving her a normal moth caterpillar wouldn't do. Even he understood that a mindless, emotionless insect was hardly the sort of thing a young woman would warm to (even if he couldn't see why not). So he had altered his creations brain, adding elements of canine and simian DNA to create an intelligent and loving larva. The result was a bug that was as friendly and affectionate as any pup- as anyone who'd ever met the little fellow knew. But it also resulted in him having a unique understanding of families, and of his second family in particular.
Silkie had noticed that, although his swarm/pack had returned, the Green Father (as he thought of Beastboy) was missing. Silkie wasn't worried- his swarm/pack was strong and he knew the Green Father would return safely. But his absence was making the Mother/Queen very upset, and that was something Silkie would not allow. The pair of them had cared for him all his life (or as much of it as he could remember) and he loved them more than anyone else in the world. He had taken several days to decide what to do about this, time when he distanced himself from the Mother/Queen so as to be able to focus on his dilemma. Eventually, he concluded there was only one thing to be done. Mustering his courage, the little larva set out into the world to find his green father. Unfortunately (or not) for him, Silkie had very little memory of his life before the Titans- to his mind, the Tower comprised the entirety of the world. Thus it had never occurred to him to extend his search beyond the building he called home.
He had started in the Room of The Ever-Changing Window. He knew that Green Father and Metal Brother would often spend hours and hours pressing buttons and making the Window change, sometimes yelling at one another for no reason Silkie could see. But there was no trace of his quarry. He moved to the Room Of Bountiful Snacks- Green Father would often be near the Cold Box, making himself a snack (which he'd usually share). But still no sign. Silkie would have to venture into the uncharted depths of the World.
So it was that Silkie crawled through the Tower, keeping to the shadows to avoid his swarm/pack. They were all very busy with… something… and didn't need to be disturbed by the baby (as he thought of himself). No, this would be Silkie's task, his mission, and his quest. Above all else, however, it was his chance to prove to the Mother/Queen once and for all that he was a Good Boy.
He swept his antennae across the floor of every hallway and room, using the olfactory organs on each to 'sniff' for his green father's unique scent. He found nothing. He crawled through air vents and pipes, knowing his quarry could somehow become other creatures. He found nothing. He strained his setae to their limit, using the tiny hairs to seek the tell-tale sign of the green father's laughter. He found nothing. Still, insects are nothing if not persistent and Silkie pressed on, regardless.
It would be impossible to say exactly how long he searched, for Silkie had no real concept of Time. All he knew was he had been searching for a Long While- at least one meal and two snacks. In his hearts he was beginning to think the Green Father might have departed the World, to whatever lay beyond the Great Portals. But, as he passed through the den/nesting area his left antenna suddenly caught a familiar scent, indistinct but recognizable. In an instant, both of his antennae were up and quivering. Forcing himself to be slow, Silkie methodically swept the sensitive protrusions back and forth through the air, seeking the source of the odour. He panned it across the hallway- not from Metal Brother's room, not from Quiet Female's room… it seemed to be coming from the Consort's room. Silkie rarely went in there- the Consort didn't really seem to like him, probably because he wanted the mother/queen's affection all to himself. But now was not the time to be put off by the Consort's attitude. With renewed energy, he coiled his body beneath him before springing into the air to hit the button which opened the door.
He entered the room slowly, letting his eyes adapt to the darkness within. As he moved inside of the room, the scent of the Green Father became slightly stronger. Turning his head this way and that, Silkie saw a bright green mouse emerge from a vent. Its form blurred and swelled, solidifying into the familiar form of the Green Father- larger and more muscular than Silkie remembered, but undeniably him. Silkie let out a burble of joy and leapt onto his caretaker to give him a warm welcome home.
Robin was a light sleeper. That hadn't always been the case- his dad (his REAL dad) used to joke that he'd been the only baby in the world that could sleep through a diaper change. Years of training with one of the world's greatest paranoiacs (justified paranoia but still paranoia) had eliminated that problem. As his mentor had said, and as life had proven, a crime fighter had to be ready to defend himself at any time. There were downsides to this training, of course. Many were the nights that Robin had been jarred awake, adrenaline surging as he prepared to fight, only to discover that he'd been awakened by the sound of rain hitting his window. Still, it was a skill that served him well that night, when soft thud catapulted him into wakefulness.
The first thing he noticed was a green boy in a red-and-white outfit standing over his bed, while an enthusiastic larva slobbered on his green cheek. The second thing he noticed was the large hypodermic in the boy's hand. Years of training came into play, and Robin surged into motion. His foot lashed out, kicking the needle out of Beastboy's grip and sending it clattering against the far wall. He let the kick spin his body around until he rested on his stomach, before pushing himself off the bed and into a fighting crouch. In one swift motion, he grabbed two shirts from the floor and twirled them so that they were wrapped around his bare arms, protecting them from any more poisonous attacks.
Beastboy had, by now, shaken Silkie off and was edging towards the door. "Um…. This is all a dreeeaam!" the green boy exclaimed in what he no doubt thought was a 'spooky' voice. "Go back to bed!"
In response, Robin spun about with one leg extended, trying to sweep his opponent to the ground. To his surprise, the changeling sprang back with an agility he'd never demonstrated before. Robin considered pressing the attack, but held back- the last time he'd been impulsive and tried to fight his former team mate alone, he'd regretted it almost immediately. Instead he grabbed his communicator from a nearby table and opened a team-wide link.
"Robin to all Titans- Beastboy is in my room. I need backup NOW!" he barked. "We're going to end this right now!"
"Oh, dang." The changeling said with a wince. "I can't stay for this, Rob. I'd like to take you with us- but I can't risk getting caught now. Too much at stake y'know?"
Robin's hand darted to his utility belt and withdrew a freeze disc. As soon as he had it in hand, he hurled it at his opponent, intending to freeze Beastboy to the spot. Instead, the disc passed through empty air as the green boy transformed into a housefly, colliding with the door to his room and freezing it shut. Robin leapt forward, hoping to catch the green fly before it got a way, but it simply buzzed into a nearby air vent. Instead, the Boy Wonder crashed head-first into the wall. With a curse, he sat back and reached for his communicator.
"Titans, he's out in the Tower. Find him! We can't let him get away again!" Robin barked, before taking a deep breath. "Also, once you do catch him, I need someone to come let me out of my bedroom."
Raven wandered through her old room, slowly taking down various items and carefully placing them in a bag. She had been doing this for more than an hour, lingering a little over each memento and curio before slowly putting it away. Slade had allowed them to sneak into Titans Tower for just this purpose- he'd wanted them to feel at home in their new rooms, so he'd let them infiltrate their old home to take what they could. It had also been a way to test their ability to sneak past the Tower's security systems- something that could come in handy as their campaign progressed. Given that Raven had spent a long time upgrading the Tower's mystical defenses and integrating them into the more mundane security measures, it hadn't been too hard for her to find a way in. So, now she could savor her reunion with the small mementos which had come to mean surprisingly much to her.
Here was a sculpture she'd taken with her from Azerath. She could still remember the day she'd made it with her mother- one of the few memories she had of familial bonding. Here was that stupid stuffed chicken Beastboy had given her so long ago. Even before she'd developed feelings for the green boy, she'd treasured the toy as a symbol of how she'd made real friends on Earth. Here was a photo of her and the Titans, taken just after her sixteenth birthday- she often wished she'd kept her white cloak, but it had simply been impractical for use as a superheroine, being almost impossible to conceal or keep clean. So it went, each object bringing with it a host of memories.
Finally, Raven's fingers brushed against the handle of her magic mirrors- both her own and the special one she'd made for Beastboy. She swept the latter into her bag without much thought, but spent a moment lingering over her own. She had to admit she needed it- after such a long time without proper meditation and balancing her emotions, her mental state was becoming dangerously unbalanced. On the other hand, "dangerously unbalanced" for her was what other people called "normality". It was oddly pleasant to FEEL things for herself, rather than shunting the bulk of her emotions to her mirror-selves. Still, it was too big a risk to be allowed to continue indefinitely, and so she placed the mirror gently within her bag.
No sooner had she done so, however, than a green fly emerged from the duct and morphed into her boyfriend. He grabbed her and began to shake her, shake her so hard that the bag dropped to the floor, spilling out its contents.
"Rae we gotta go NOW!" the changeling cried. "C'MON C'MON C'MON!"
"B-eas-t B-oy s-t-op sh-ak-ing me!" she replied. When he did, she took a moment to clear her head before continuing. "Why do we have to leave now? We were supposed to sneak in, get our things and sneak out. The others shouldn't have even known we were here unless… unless…" She scowled at Beastboy, who suddenly couldn't meet her eyes. "What. Did. You. Do."
"I, um, I may have, sorta… tried to take Robin." He mumbled.
Raven didn't shout or scream. Her jaw didn't hit the ground nor did her eyes bulge. Such was the power of Azarathian self-control that she gave no sign of how incredibly shocked she was by this. "You did what?" was all she said.
"I- I was on my way back from me and Cy's room, when I started thinkin'…"
"Always a dangerous sign." Raven quipped with a smirk.
"Hey! Anyway, I started thinkin' that, if we grabbed Robin, we could make this whole thing a lot easier. Y'know, cause without a leader the Titans aren't as effective." Beastboy said "So, I went by Rob's room and sure enough he was sleeping. So I took one of those needles Slade gave us- the sleeping ones?- and I crept up on his bed. It all looked like it was gonna go great, but then Silkie tackled me. While he was slobberin' all over me, Rob woke up and… well, I was lucky to get away. Now the other Titans are gonna be looking for us and we gotta GO!"
"All right, all right. Let me grab my things and we'll go- but we're NOT going to be coming back for your things." Raven said with a warning glare as she bent over to pick up her belongings. "I don't think the others will think to look here, and if they do the lock on the door will keep them from sneaking up on us."
"Yeah, sure, whatever." Beastboy said, hopping from one foot to the other in impatience and nervousness "Let's just get going, okay?"
"All right, I think that's everything." Raven said at last, closing the bag. "Now we can go"
"Good, lets do." Beastboy said, stepping close to her. He gave her a wan smile. "I AM sorry I messed up, Rae."
Raven gave him a half-smile, half-smirk. "I'm used to it." Was all she said before her soul-self manifested and the two teleported away.
Beneath Raven's bed, a small hand-mirror glinted with reflected light…
Well, I for one never knew much about insect sensory organs until this chapter. Setae are tiny hairs which caterpillars (both butterfly and moth) use to capture sound vibrations- to 'hear'. I also learned that they have multiple hearts. Amazing.