I want to thank everyone for taking the time to review!
NOTE: A big thanks to I AM LAH and Wing the Swordsman for correcting my Spanish. Also, many thanks to LordGodsServant and suikofan for correcting my other grammatical errors, god knows there are a lot of them! The translations are at the ending Author's Note.
I got a Guest review asking for the ages of the Titans during Season 1, and while this can easily be looked up online, I am happy to answer you. Red X: 17, Robin: 13/14, Red Arrow: 18, Kid Flash: 15/16, Aqualad: 16, Superboy: 16, Artemis: 15, Miss Martian while chronologically is 48, her human equivalent age is 16, Zatanna: 14, Rocket: 15. I didn't put down Raven's age for… reasons. It's part of the plot people, just go with it.
~Young Justice: Red X~
Chapter 14: Drop-Zone
|2010 July 22, 20:08 ECT
"We're approaching Santa Prisca." Miss Martian announced to the rest of the team, the Bio-ship flying fast to their destination. Robin narrowed his eyes slightly, his mind replaying what Batman had said when assigning them their first official mission.
"De Isle Santa Prisca, this island nation is the primary source of a dangerous and illegal neo-steroid, a strength enhancing drug, sold under the street name "Venom". Infrared heat signatures indicate they're still operating a full capacity, but all shipments of Venom have been inexplicably cut off. That's where this team comes in. This is a covert recon mission only. Observe and report, if the Justice League needs to intervene, it will. The plan requires two drop-zones." Batman explained as he brought up a holographic map of Santa Prisca.
"So who's in charge?" Robin asked, causing Batman and Red Tornado to glance at each other. He saw his mentor shoot a fleeting look towards Red X and the Boy Wonder frowned a little at that. He regarded Red X too, who hadn't even bothered to show up in his civilian clothes. From the way that the older caped teen was standing, one would never guess that he'd been captured and tortured by the Joker twenty-four hours ago. Robin bit his lower lip, a nervous habit he'd never been able to fully get rid of, and caught Red X's eye.
The older teen looked over at him from where he stood a few feet behind Aqualad, his fully masked face giving Robin no clues on what he must be thinking. X gave him a nod and Robin quickly shot his eyes back towards Batman.
The others had no idea about what happened to Red X. Robin wasn't even entirely sure what condition the other teen was in. He knew Raven had done her best to heal X's wounds, and they had looked much better after the violet eyed girl had treated them, but he still worried about the older boy. He also debated if they should inform the team that X had been injured. What if something happened while on the mission and one of Red X's wounds acted up?
"Work that out amongst yourselves." Batman finally said, bringing Robin out of his musings. He smiled slightly to himself, knowing that it would only make sense for him to take the lead. He had the most experience out of everyone there, plus he knew the full extent behind Red X's injuries.
"Drop-zone A in thirty." Miss Martian stated suddenly, interrupting the Boy Wonder's thoughts. He turned to look over at Aqualad as the Atlantian activated the stealth mode Batman had installed into his suit.
"Ready." Aqualad announced as his seat melted into the floor.
"Putting Bio-ship in camouflage mode." Miss Marian responded and the ship flew closer to the water before letting Aqualad out. As the leader, Robin almost felt like he should say something encouraging, but there really wasn't any point. Everyone knew their jobs; they all understood the plan Batman had setup for them. A good leader trusted his teammates to know what they were doing.
"Heat and motion sensors are now patched, data's now on a continuous loop. Move in." Aqualad said over the comlink after a few minutes and Miss Martian flew the ship towards the next designated drop-off zone.
"Drop-zone B." Miss Martian intoned as the others stood up, chairs melting into the floors as cable lines descended from the ceiling. Robin clipped the line onto his belt, seeing Red X and Kid Flash do the same thing.
"How cool is this?" Kid Flash bragged as he activated the camouflage mode of his suit and looked over at Miss Martian, clearly trying to impress her.
"Very impressive." The Martian replied as her powers activated, a dark full-body suit replacing her usual costume, making Kid Mouths' jaw go slack. Robin could've sworn he heard Red X scoff and he sent a smirk towards the tattered caped teen.
"Uh, that works too. Hey Supey, not too late to put on the new stealth tech." Kid said to Superboy, making the clone cross his arms over his broad chest.
"No capes, no tights, no offense." Superboy countered sourly, almost making Robin snicker. While he'd once worn tights when he'd been in the circus, he certainly didn't wear them now. How could tights protect him against knives and bullets? His suit, every stich and fiber of it, was made out of a rare Kevlar-elastic armor created by Wayne Tech.
Kid Flash, on the other hand, wore some sort of friction resistant spandex. Wally was definitely closer to the tights category than him. Robin looked over at Red X and briefly wondered what the older teen's suit was made out of. Now that he really looked at it, Robin thought that the material matched his own suit. But how did X get his hands on a synthetic armor that wasn't even out on the market yet?
"It totally works for you." Miss Martian mumbled before realizing how she sounded. "In that you can totally do good work in those clothes." The alien tried to recover as she gave the clone a thumbs up. Robin could barely hold back his sniggers as Miss Martian turned herself invisible from embarrassment, after Superboy looked away of course.
"Superboy, attach a line to your belt." Red X said from his spot in the center of the cockpit. Robin saw the clone frown for a second and he wondered if Superboy was going to tell X off for giving him orders.
"I don't need it. I won't get hurt when we land." The clone grunted back as he made no move to grab his cable line.
"True, but you can't control your decent without the ability of flight. Creating a small seismic landing doesn't exactly fit under the covert category." X argued firmly without turning to look towards the clone. Superboy glared at Red X for a second before attaching the line to his belt as well. Ignoring the tense awkwardness that descended over the group, they dropped onto the ground below with Miss Martian finally reappearing as they landed.
"Aqualad, drop B is go." She said over the communicator as the others detached themselves from the Bio-ship.
"Head for the factory, I'll track your GPS and rendezvous a.s.a.p." Aqualad stated and Robin brought up a holo-map of the island, marking out the factory and the best possible trail to take for the others to see.
"Roger that." He replied getting an approving nod from Red X and they marched through the tropical environment, with Robin making sure that he took the lead. The mission went uninterrupted for the next twenty minutes as he and the others headed towards the factory.
"Did you hear that?" Superboy asked suddenly, making the others pause. Robin narrowed his eyes and activated the infrared lenses of his mask before jumping up into the trees, moving ahead to scout out what Superboy heard.
~Young Justice: Red X~
|2010 July 22, 20:41 ECT
Red X sighed as he watched Robin silently climb up into the trees. He almost called the younger boy back, but stopped when he remembered whom he was dealing with. The boy was him after all, and he knew Robin wasn't dumb enough to charge into battle without them. He was most likely investigating the area. Still, it would have been wise of Robin to alert his teammates of what he'd planned to do.
"Uh, no. Wait, is this a super hearing thing?" Kid Flash questioned, brining X's attention back to his other teammates.
"You do have great ears." Miss Martian complimented as she looked dreamily over at Superboy.
"Okay Rob, now what?" Kid Flash asked as he turned towards the youngest member of their team, only to finally notice that the Boy Wonder had already left. "Man, I hate it when he does that."
"Red X, Superboy, Kid, switch to infrared, see if you're being tracked." Aqualad ordered, though Red X had already adjusted the lenses in his mask once Robin had disappeared. He jumped up into a nearby tree, climbing the branches to get a higher vantage point and spotted the men that Superboy must've picked up on.
"I've got two different armed patrol units heading towards each other." Red X reported as Kid Flash put on his thermal goggles and Superboy used his super vision. "Huh, now that's odd."
"What is?" Miss Martian asked as she was the only one who couldn't see the troops.
"Usually there's no reason for two separate units to be this close, I'd assumed that the one group was coming to relive the other, but the numbers are inconsistent." Red X explained. "This is just a hunch, but I don't think that they're allied with each other." Suddenly gunfire could be heard in the area up ahead, confirming Red X's suspicion.
"Don't need super hearing to hear that." Kid Flash remarked as he moved to stand ahead of the group and X jumped down from a low tree branch, landing next to Superboy.
"Swing wide, steer clear." Aqualad ordered over the comlink.
"Yeah, yeah, just as soon as I find Rob." Kid Flash replied as he dashed off before Red X could say or do otherwise. He sighed to himself, annoyed that in no matter what dimension, Kid Flash would always run head first into danger.
"Miss Martian become invisible and do not reveal yourself unless you need to. Attack from a distance and make sure no one notices your presence. Superboy, we'll backup Kid Flash." X said to the two, getting a nod from both before joining the fray.
"What about Robin?" Miss Martian asked in concern as she pulled her hood up and disappeared from Red X's sight.
"I'm sure he'll join in when he sees us fighting." Superboy offered and he nodded in agreement before running off towards the gunfire. As they approached the two groups, who had been firing at each other before but were now firing at Kid Flash, X spotted one muscular man wearing a black and white mask that he was very familiar with.
'Bane.' His mind supplied as his eyes widened in surprise. Of course he knew Santa Prisca was Bane's birthplace and that, more often than not, this was where the man was when not causing trouble in Gotham City. But he hadn't expected for them to run into the dangerous man while on their recon mission. 'This operation just got a lot more dangerous.'
Superboy threw himself at the masked man, able to overtake him in power due to the fact that Bane had yet to use his Venom serum. That in itself was a blessing. He didn't know if the team could handle an empowered Bane. As Red X launched himself at the opposing group that had been attacking Bane and his men, he suddenly recognized the scarlet uniforms for what they were. These were Kobra's men. 'Bane and Kobra in the same place? I take it back. This mission isn't dangerous, it's deadly.'
"What is wrong with you guys? Remember covert, why didn't you follow my lead, vanish into the jungle?" Robin hissed angrily while dropping down from the trees and attacking two of Bane's thugs, knocking them unconscious with precise blows to their necks.
"That's what you were doing? Oh, way to fill us in! We're not mind readers you know." Kid Flash argued back before a still invisible Miss Martian telepathically flew two of Kobra's men into a tree, knocking them out cold. "Well, most of us aren't."
As X turned his attention to the last Kobra grunt, he saw Aqualad jump out of the foliage, using his electric abilities to knock the man unconscious. They rounded the cataleptic men up, tying them to the large trees in separated groups.
"I recognize those uniforms. They belong to the Cult of the Kobra." Robin informed the others as X stood vigilant in front of Bane, who had woken up not long after being restrained. The two simply glared at each other for the moment. The tattered caped teen could still remember that horrible incident when the Spanish criminal had broken Batman's back.
"I'm certain Batman would have mentioned it if he knew a dangerous extremist was running Santa Prisca's Venom operation." Aqualad pointed out to Robin, making Red X nod in agreement, though the others didn't see it.
"Agreed and since there's clearly no love between the cultists and those goons, I'm betting Kobra came in and tossed them out. That's why normal supply lines have been cut off." Robin deduced and Bane growled in anger.
"We get it, Kobra wanted super cultists, mystery solved, radio Bats and we'll be home in time for–" Kid Flash started to say before Robin cut him off irritably.
"These cultists aren't on Venom, Kobra is hoarding this stuff. We don't leave, not until I know why."
"Until you know why?" Kid Flash asked disbelievingly.
"This team needs a leader." Robin stated evenly as he unconsciously straightened his posture, trying to seem taller. Red X recognized the small action for what it was, a desire to prove himself towards others. He'd always reacted that way when his abilities were called into question.
"And it's you?" Kid Flash mocked in a patronizing tone as he pointed at the younger boy who looked surprised that Kid Flash didn't agree. "Dude, you're a thirteen-year-old kid who ducked out on us without a word!"
"Ha, and you're a mature fifteen?" Robin countered, laughing without any humor as he glared up at the older boy. "You blew our cover the first chance you got!" X mentally blocked them out once their argument dissolved into petty bickering and focused on more important things. Like Bane, who was now smirking slightly.
"Don't you want to lead?" Miss Martian asked Superboy, who shot a look over at Red X before closing his eyes and shaking his head no. That question caught X's attention, and although he didn't have super hearing, he could still make out their interesting conversation.
"Don't you?" He asked in return and Miss Martian waved her hand dismissively.
"After the Mister Twister fiasco…" She reminded the clone, getting a rare smirk in response.
"You did alright." The clone stated truthfully, and Red X saw a glowing blush spread across Miss Martian's face. He thought for sure she would turn invisible again.
"Míralos, liberate y atácalos mientras están distraídos." One of the men tied next to Bane said, regaining Red X's attention. Obviously, the man thought that none of them understood Spanish, a foolish mistake. The tattered caped teenager knew nine different languages and he was certain that Robin knew at least four by this point. He didn't doubt that Cadmus taught Superboy different dialects either.
"Tranquilo, por ahora les seguiré el juego. Ellos me darán lo que necesito." Bane replied in a quieter tone before turning back to glare at Red X. The hero merely crossed his arms, waiting to see what Bane had in store and for his team to pull themselves together.
"You don't even have any powers!" Kid Flash shouted suddenly as he and Robin walked along the other side of the tree that Bane was tied to. X shifted his glare from the Spaniard and redirected it towards Kid Flash, seeing as it was an unintentional insult directed towards him too.
"Red X doesn't have powers and neither does Batman!" Robin pointed out indignantly.
"Duh, you're not Batman." Kid Flash replied in a tone that sent Red X's teeth on edge. The words hadn't been directed towards him, but they did bring back unpleasant memories. Insults where criminals had always dismissed him, where civilians were disappointed to see that their protector was an eleven-year-old boy, everyone believing he wasn't good enough simply because he wasn't Batman.
"Tch, I'm the closest thing we got." Robin claimed as he proudly stuck out his chest. That statement finally got a reaction out of Bane. The man chuckled slightly, but his eyes firmly stayed on X the entire time.
"Such clever niños, but you only know half the story." The masked Spaniard said and the team gathered around X, who remained a few feet in front of the villain. "Let me show you the rest, get you into the factory, reveal my secret entrance." An obvious deal and an obvious trap, Bane wasn't trying to be very subtle from what the tattered caped teen could see. That was most likely because he was underestimating them. In Bane's eyes they were just children, hardly a threat.
"There is a secret entrance, but he's also hiding something." Miss Martian related to them as she crouched down in front of the criminal, eyes glowing white.
"Ah-ah-ah chica, Bane is not that easy." The smirking criminal responded and Miss Martian sighed in frustration.
"He's mentally reviewing football scores, in Española. This could take a while." She confessed tiredly towards the others.
"It's not that complicated, the enemy of my enemy is my friend." The man explained with a grin.
"Red X, what do you think?" Aqualad asked after a moment, causing the tattered caped teen to turn back and look at the Atlantian in surprise. Why was Aqualad already looking towards him for guidance? From what he had observed so far, Kaldur seemed best suited to lead the team. Brushing those thoughts aside, he turned back towards Bane and activated his X-Wrist Blades. He crouched down, using the red metal to swiftly cut through the ropes, and gave the man another glare.
"We work together, for now."
~Young Justice: Red X~
|2010 July 22, 21:23 ECT
They followed after Bane with Red X staying close to the man to make sure he didn't try any double-crossing. The Titans were brought towards the edge of a cliff and he used his lenses to magnify his vision, spotting several shipments of Venom being carried by the cultists.
"Look at all that product… A buy is going down, but if Kobra isn't selling to the usual suspects then…" Robin started to say and Aqualad finished his sentence.
"We need to identify that buyer." X watched as Bane pulled away from the others and he followed the man, seeing as the group was too preoccupied with starting another argument rather than keep track of Bane.
"You don't trust me, do you calavera?" The masked Spaniard asked with a crooked smirk. "At least one of you niños isn't completely hopeless. Do you not wish to be the leader also?"
"I'd rather make sure we live through this mission then argue about something that will resolve itself with time. Leadership only works when one is chosen by others. To force my ideals on my teammates and demand that they follow me is something that's destined to fail. Trust takes time to build." X answered calmly and the others took another minute to join him. Bane studied him silently before tossing aside a boulder that had been hiding the secret entrance.
"So, now El Luchador is our leader." Kid Flash started sarcastically, earning him a punch in the arm from Robin, and the team silently followed the drug dealer into the long tunnel. As they continued down the passageway, X absentmindedly rubbed a hand on his aching arms. The pain reminding him that he wasn't at a hundred percent yet.
Red X grunted as he slowly opened his eyes, the familiar sight of a dark cavernous ceiling greeting his tired eyes. He sighed a little and shifted his body slightly to get an idea of what his injuries were. Pain radiated from both of his arms in several different places and a dull ache came from his head, chest, and left hand. He sat up, biting back a groan as his body protested at the sharp movement.
"You shouldn't be moving yet. Even with Raven's healing abilities, your injuries are still rather serious and will give you trouble for the next few days." Batman said, causing X to jerk his head up in surprise. "You're currently in my lair." The Dark Knight explained before he even thought to ask the question. After all, why would he ask that? X knew exactly where he was.
He was home.
He quickly checked himself over, realizing that the top part of his costume had been pulled back in order for his wounds to be bandaged. His chest had a few fading cuts, most of them scabbed or completely healed over and leaving an itchy feeling behind. His arms however, were wrapped with gauze in several different spots and he could tell from the pain that these were his more serious injuries. It was his left hand that caught his attention though.
A crude smiley face was carved into his flesh; the scars were raised slightly compared to the rest of his skin. In an almost hypnotic-like trance, Red X gently brushed over the newly acquired mutilation, easily recalling the feel of cold metal piercing his skin in a jagged manner. The Joker never did anything neatly.
"Xenothium is a very dangerous compound to use as a power source." Batman said after a moment, startling X again. He shook his head, refusing to let himself be distracted in the other man's presence again.
"I've got it under control." He replied roughly, hating how he didn't have his mask to cover his voice and expressions. Panicked, a hand quickly shot up to his face to find that his domino mask was still in place. Red X knew Batman had a nasty habit of discovering secret identities. He was honestly surprised his old mentor hadn't removed the mask, but then again, he was beginning to realize that this Batman was different from his. "I've been using it for the past several months and it's given me no trouble."
"Yes, I can tell from the way that you've wired your suit that you've taken every precaution to ensure your safety. Just continue to be careful, if the League found out you were using such a highly unstable energy source–"
"They would kick me off the team without a second thought." He interrupted plainly, seemingly unaffected by the chance of losing his new team. "I know how to keep things secret." Silence reigned in, leaving both heroes in a tense atmosphere that they could easily ignore. An air of stubbornness, hardened expressions, strong stances, these were the characteristics reflected in each other's faces. He noticed, at that moment, that they were very much alike.
"The mark on your hand is permanent. You have a total of five deep lacerations on your arms. Once healed, they'll scar over too." Batman stated after a minute and Red X shrugged. "I can recommend a discreet doctor; skin grafts can get rid of those."
Red X looked down at himself, his body was riddled with scars that were years old, but one in particular caught his gaze. It was a small circle, made from a bullet, and rested just a few centimeters away from his heart. The Joker's cackle echoed in the back of his mind, mixing in with Batman's worried shout as the sound of a gunshot thundered in his skull. He shot a blank look at the Dark Knight, who had no doubt seen the old scar.
"I have plenty of scars. A few more won't make a difference." The teenager replied, his eyes moving to study the mark the Joker had engraved into his skin. The scar itself wouldn't be that hard to hide, gloves would cover it easily enough and he could use make up when he couldn't wear gloves. No, this new scratch wouldn't change anything. He wouldn't let it.
"I should have gotten there sooner." The words were spoken so softly, they were almost inaudible. Red X had to look up at Batman just to make sure that he didn't imagine them. Had he heard right, was the caped crusader actually saying that he was the one at fault? His Batman would have reprimanded him for being caught in the first place.
Why was this man so different, why weren't they the same? What was he missing?
"I wasn't expecting any help." X lied. He had called out to Raven after all, he just hadn't expected who she'd brought as backup. "I'd like to say that I had the situation under control, but…" It was quiet again and after a few minutes. He slowly donned the rest of his costume, minding his injuries. As he rustled his bandages, ignoring the way his arms protested in pain, he wondered if Alfred would make an appearance at all. Probably not.
"I've checked out John Strike's background, the only living relative he has is a grandfather who doesn't exist." Batman probed and Red X could hear the unasked question. Do you have any family? The answer jarred him slightly, making him even more aware of the pain that ailed him, both physically and emotionally. The answer was simple.
No, he didn't have anyone left.
He picked up his Red X mask, remembering that Joker had thrown it across the warehouse room where it had landed behind some wooden crates. Batman must have found it for him. X mentally shook his head foolishly at that thought. Robin was more than likely the one who'd recovered it.
"I'm on my own." The truth poured out from his mouth before he had a chance to stop it. They were harsh, empty words, emphasized by the metallic tone his mask caused, and they seemed to echo throughout the Bat Cave. Suddenly, X found it too difficult to look in Batman's direction. He quickly turned away, but he could still feel that piercing gaze burrowing into the back of his head.
"Hey, you okay?" Robin asked from beside Red X, startling the older teen slightly. He shook his head to get rid of the lingering memories and nodded. Robin still looked worried so he gripped the boy's shoulder firmly, ignoring the twinge of pain that shot up his arm.
"I'm fine." He turned away from the younger teen after getting a smile and saw Bane push a red button on a hidden console, the disguised rock doors opening up into an empty storage room. Robin moved ahead of the group and scouted the next room before telling them that the area was clear.
It wasn't at all surprising to X as he watched his counterpart shoot up onto one of the giant fermenting tanks that made up the production floor. As he observed the boy climb higher, he heard the others' reactions towards Robin's disappearing act.
"Has that little fool already been caught?" Bane muttered towards them and Aqualad sighed tiredly.
"No, he just does that." He answered, sounding only mildly annoyed with their youngest teammate.
"I wouldn't worry. Robin is the stealthiest member of this team, next to myself. The cultists won't see him until it's already too late." X stated towards the others as he pointed upwards at their lone teammate, getting an understanding nod from Aqualad.
"Stay back, I'll get our intel before the Boy Wonder." Kid Flash boasted before speeding off, giving the others no chance to stop him, even as Aqualad ordered for him to wait.
"Kid Flash, on the other hand, doesn't know the meaning of the word subtle and is unable to stay quiet for longer than a few seconds." Red X growled in annoyance as the blur of black and red disappeared from their sights.
"Great chain of command." The villain commented sarcastically and the tattered caped teen couldn't really argue with him. The Titans clearly needed a leader, which was a position he was reluctant to take. He wasn't supposed to be in this world, that role was meant for someone else. Still, until a leader, Aqualad preferably, stepped forward, the Titans needed some sort of direction.
"C'mon, we'll investigate what Kobra's planning from down here, but remain out of sight." He ordered the team and they nodded. "Can you take us to where you usually store the Venom?" Red X asked and Bane grunted a yes before heading off in that direction, the Titans silently following his lead. They came to the cargo bay in a matter of minutes and hid behind some of the crates, observing the cultists as they transferred the Venom drug outside and into the open.
"It's a massive shipment." Aqualad realized, sounding slightly awed by how much Venom Kobra had been able to produce.
"Yeah, but they're only taking new products off the line, they're not touching this Venom." Superboy noted, making Red X frown in thought.
"Maybe freshness counts?" Miss Martian offered, sounding rather naïve in doing so.
"No. Venom is an artificially created compound, scientifically altered to have an extended resistance to deteriorating. If properly sealed, Venom can last twenty years without losing any potency." X corrected automatically, his extensive knowledge on the super steroid never lost even after having no contact with the drug for the last three years. The others stared at him in surprise, while Bane glared at him darkly, no doubt displeased with an enemy knowing so much about his product. Superboy's head twitched to the left suddenly, turning back to look outside and informing them that a helicopter was arriving.
"We need to find out what's going on over there." Aqualad said as the helicopter landed. "Miss Martian, turn invisible and see if you can get a closer look. We'll go back into the warehouse and see if we can find out what Kobra has been doing with the Venom." Splitting up, Red X, Aqualad, Superboy, and Bane worked their way back into the factory. They stuck to the catwalks above to avoid detection as the cultists continued to move around down below.
"Aqualad, Red X, I'm sending you a telepathic image of the buyer now." Miss Martian said after a few minutes and the image of a man with a silver goalie mask and blonde hair appeared inside his mind.
"Sportsmaster, he is the buyer?" Aqualad asked out loud.
"Unlikely, Sportsmaster is a mercenary. He could be representing any number of criminals." X informed the others, getting an understanding nod in return. "Robin, Kid Flash, we need to–" He stopped talking as only static answered him, realizing that someone was jamming the comlinks.
"Ugh, I can't reach Robin or the League." Aqualad said as he tried his own comlink. "What do we do now?"
"I know what we do." Bane replied as he gripped the railing tightly and Red X realized what the villain planned to do just a few seconds too late. Bane launched himself over the railing and onto the warehouse floor, landing on top of a cultist and causing the others to open fire on him.
"What is he doing?" Aqualad shouted and before he could answer a giant of a man shot in through the window, forcing them to retreat to the floor near Bane.
'Is that Mammoth?' The teen silently asked himself, shocked as the beastly man roared at them. He didn't have any time to investigate further as Kobra also made an appearance. At the snake-like man's order, Mammoth and several cultists, attacked, forcing the Titans to separate. Red X attacked the three cultists that charged at him, barely dodging the bullets that came his way. Throwing a few gas pellets, he launched himself into the cloud of red smoke and quickly knocked the men out before they could shoot at each other. As the teenager looked out over the area, it did not escape his notice that Bane had disappeared from the fight altogether.
A sudden explosion caught his attention and X looked up just in time to see Miss Martian crashing into one of fermenting tanks. The familiar sound of something whistling through the air caught his attention, and he instinctively ducked, avoiding the metal baseball bat that had been aimed at his head.
"I hope you're ready for a rematch kid." A voice growled behind him and the teen jumped to the right, performing a dodge roll to avoid the second strike that had been aimed his way. Red X looked up, not surprised to find that that his attacker was Sportsmaster. "I owe you for breaking my leg."
"Let's see if you do better in round two." The tattered caped hero taunted, earning him another growl and he launched several X-shuriken to halt Sportsmaster's advance. The blonde man dove to the side, allowing X enough time to pull out his collapsible Bo Staff. Metal clanged against metal at the two weapons connected, leaving the two masked males in a power lock.
"Everyone online?" Miss Martian asked telepathically, surprising X for a second and giving Sportsmaster the chance to push him back. He stumbled slightly before doing a back-handspring to evade another strike, gritting his teeth as his arms screamed at the strain of his weight. As the others mentally answered, he launched a payload disk at Sportsmaster, encasing the man's legs in red ice.
"Yeah, little busy here." Robin answered a few moments after the others. Red X quickly cast an eye over the room, trying to spot the familiar black and yellow cape. Not seeing his younger self present, he assumed the boy had already moved ahead. Kobra wasn't in the warehouse room either.
"Be careful Robin, Kobra isn't a pushover." He firmly warned the young boy, getting laughter in return that seemed to echo through the link. X quickly turned his attention back to Sportsmaster who had just freed himself from the ice. The man threw a discus at him, which the teenager countered by throwing one of his own. Jumping up onto one of the tanks, the two weapons collided before exploding and knocking down the cultists closest to the blast's radius.
"We need to retreat." Aqualad ordered and Kid Flashed raced ahead of the team to clear a path. As he spotted Robin reentering the warehouse and following the others, X rotated back to Sportsmaster who stood on a parallel tank.
"Looks like this one's a draw." Red X called before teleporting away and leaving an enraged Sportsmaster behind. He entered the secret passageway with the others, trailing behind Robin as Mammoth lunged after them. The large villain looked disturbingly less human that his counterpart, and the age was off by a few years, but Red X could still recognize him as one of the original Hive Five.
"Superboy, the support beams!" Aqualad shouted and the clone destroyed the wooden pillars, causing the tunnel to collapse behind them and stopping the cultists from following. In the dark tunnel, Aqualad pulled out a glow stick, bathing the Titans in an eerie red light.
"How could my first mission as leader go so wrong?" Robin asked to no one in particular with his back facing the others. Red X stood nearby, leaning against an undestroyed support beam with eyes closed in meditation. He could feel that most of the stab wounds on his arms had reopened from his brief fight with Sportsmaster, but he didn't have the time to take care of them at the moment.
"You do have the most experience and perhaps that is exactly what has left you unprepared. Fighting alongside Batman, your roles are defined. You two do not need to talk, but this team is new and the leader must be clear, explicit. He cannot vanish and expect others to play parts in an unknown plan." Aqualad reasoned, and X nodded in agreement.
"Oh, so I'm supposed to hold everyone's hands." The Boy Wonder scoffed before humming slightly. "Who am I kidding? Kaldur and Red X are the only ones who could lead the Titans." Robin declared taking the oldest teenager by surprise. His head shot up to see half of the team smiling towards him, obviously agreeing with his counterpart.
"Please! I could run circles around those–" The speedster started to argue before Robin cut him off.
"Wally, c'mon, you know the choice comes down between them."
"Hello Megan, it's so obvious." Miss Martian commented as she hit her forehead lightly.
"Could have told ya." Superboy added stoically as he nodded over at Red X.
"Yeah, all right." Kid Flash agreed after a moment. "But who's it gonna be?"
"Not me." X answered, continuing once he saw that the others were about to protest. "I doubt the League would stand for it, for one thing. And let's not forget I'm considered to be an assassin by the rest of the world. Kaldur has my vote of confidence. I know he'll do a good job as leader." The others were silent for a minute as he looked at Aqualad, who was gave him a surprised, but flattered expression.
"Then I accept the burden, until you are ready to lift it from my shoulders." Aqualad stated as he laid a hand on Robin's shoulder. "You were born to lead this team, maybe not now, but soon." Robin nodded. "And I hope that I can also look towards you for wisdom in the future." Aqualad said towards Red X, who simply nodded as well. "Alright, our first priority is stopping that shipment from leaving the island."
"Funny," Robin remarked as he smirked up at their new leader. "I was thinking the same thing."
~Young Justice: Red X~
|2010 July 22, 22:13 ECT
"Sportsmaster is the employer slash buyer, but it still doesn't track. He doesn't have the juice to acquire the Blockbuster formula or to get Kobra to do his dirty work." As the Boy Wonder informed the others on what he found.
"And neither of them have the chops to combine Blockbuster with Venom, that took some major nerd-edge." Kid Flash added.
"I believe the expression is, 'tip of the iceberg'." Aqualad said as Bane suddenly appeared at the entrance. Dropping an empty syringe which must've been filled with Venom, judging that Bane's muscle mass had increased tremendously.
"Halt niños, I'm feeling… explosive." He mocked and X spotted several bombs implanted in the tunnels' ceiling.
"You betrayed us, why?" Aqualad asked.
"I want my factory back." Bane answered and Aqualad telepathically contacted Kid Flash.
"Kid, you're going to need a running start."
"So I forced you into a situation where you would either take down my enemies or die trying. If the latter, the Justice League will certainly have come to avenge their sidekicks and when the smoke cleared, Santa Prisca would be mine once more. Blowing the tunnel with you inside should have the same effect." Bane never noticed the black and red blur that zoomed by.
"With what, this trigger thingy?" Kid Flash asked as leaned up against a tree, taunting Bane by dangling the trigger in front of the criminal. Bane angrily took a swing at Kid Flash, only to miss as he was levitated several feet off the ground by Miss Martian.
"La próxima vez, trata de no ser tan obvio." Red X stated, getting a growl from Bane.
"Finally, drop him." Superboy said to Miss Martian and she smiled as she dropped the Spaniard. Superboy swung at the criminal, knocking him out with one powerful blow. Fortunately, Bane hadn't had access to more Venom otherwise things could've gone a lot more difficult.
"Now, we go after Sportsmaster and Kobra." Aqualad said to the team. "Here's what we do."
~Young Justice: Red X~
|2010 July 22, 22:19 ECT
Red X charged at the cultists, easily falling into step beside Robin. Their mission was to distract Kobra for as long as possible while the others destroyed the Venom/Kobra hybrid. Robin threw a bola, tying up Kobra's second in command. They landed a few feet away from the tall pale man, simultaneously sizing him up. X had very few encounters with Kobra back in his world. From what he could remember, the snake-like man had been on par with Batman in terms of fighting skills.
"I know you don't like to get your hands dirty…" Robin trailed off as he raised his own fists in preparation for an attack.
"True, but sometimes, even a god must stoop to conquer." Kobra responded as he removed his cloak. Red X let his counterpart make the first move. The younger teen dashed forwards, launching a combo of high kicks that Kobra was able to block easily. "What's wrong boy, you look disconcerted."
"Let's kick things up a notch then." The tattered caped teen retorted as he charged forward. He delivered a haymaker towards Kobra's face while at the same time kicking at the inner part of Kobra's foot, making the man stumble slightly. Taking the advantage, X slammed his elbow into Kobra's solar plexus, earning him a slight grunt.
He avoided a side kick by sliding forward and ducking down, before retreating a few feet. While his arms throbbed and blood soaked into his suit, Kobra sent him an appraising look. On the man's other side stood Robin, who looked impressed. X nodded towards the Boy Wonder and together they attacked the pale man, falling into a synchronized pattern that should have taken years of training to learn.
It amazed Robin with how in sync he and Red X were. The way they moved and attacked, it was as if they'd been working together all their lives. It actually sort of felt like when he was fighting alongside Batman. X aimed low and Robin took the top. Whenever Kobra would lash out with a kick, the older teen blocked it and Robin did the same whenever the villain moved to punch. They held him back, they made him work, and the Boy Wonder could tell they were annoying Kobra to no end.
The sound of the helicopter crashing into the factory and causing it to explode interrupted their fight.
"I am surrounded by mosquitos!" Kobra shouted angrily as Robin ducked under a knee strike that had been directed towards his head.
"Hah, you seem to be struggling with these mosquitos! In fact, you seem a little disconcerted." He taunted back as they regrouped with the rest of the Titans. The snake-like man searched over the battlefield with narrowed eyes, realizing that he'd lost this fight.
"Another time then." Kobra hissed before he vanished into the jungle and Robin tried to pursue. The younger teen huffed as he spotted no trace of the man and turned back to the others, looking over at the burning factory with a slight smile.
"We picked the right guy to lead." Robin hummed cheerfully as he approached Aqualad and gestured to the burning factory. "Automatically making you the right guy to tell Batman about all this." The Boy Wonder remarked as he walked ahead of the group. Red X grimaced, knowing how bad Batman could be. He laid a hand on Aqualad's shoulder, who was looking rather pale and worried at the moment.
"A good leader knows when to defend his actions and when to accept that he's made a mistake." He said as the others moved to the Bio-ship that Miss Martian had mentally summoned.
"And was I wrong? In continuing the mission, I mean?" Kaldur asked as he stared down at the ground.
"I don't know. I'm not sure how Batman will react to this. The only thing I can tell you is that I wouldn't have done anything different." The older teen confided, earning a small grateful smile from Aqualad.
~Young Justice: Red X~
|2010 July 23, 10:01 EDT
"A simple recon mission, observe and report. You'll each receive a written evaluation detailing your many mistakes, until then… good job." Batman stated, making X actually jerk a little in surprise. He could count how many times Batman had ever said good job to him on one hand. "No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. How you adjust to the unforeseen is what determines success and how you choose who leads, determines character."
After that the team slowly disbanded while Red X trailed behind. He was dizzy, tired. He'd lost blood, but he wouldn't know how much until he removed his suit.
"I thought they might've chosen you as the leader." Batman said after a moment, not bothering to look up from the screen in front of him that displayed the Venom/Blockbuster hybrid.
"They tried, I turned them down. You know the League wouldn't have allowed it." X answered evenly as he continued to study his mentor's counterpart. This Batman didn't cease to surprise him. "Aqualad will make a good leader, until Robin is ready." It was silent for a few minutes before Batman spoke again.
"How're your injuries?"
"I'm fine." Silence reigned in again.
"If you ever need help–" He started to say, before stopping abruptly.
"I'll call." X finished just as shortly before disappearing down the hallway and to the entrance bay where his motorcycle was. A smile, one that he refused to acknowledge, made its way onto his face. 'Maybe things will work out here better than I originally thought.'
~Young Justice: Red X~
|2010 July 24, 23:46 EDT
"All I recovered is a single ampule of Kobra Venom." Sportsmaster informed the room as he held up the vial for his employers to see.
"That can be reversed engineered, but what of the young heroes?" A monotonic voice with a heavy French accent questioned.
"First Cadmus, then Mister Twister, now Santa Prisca." Another added, irritation filling his tone.
"Once is happenstance, two is a coincidence, but three times is enemy action and enemies of the Light must not stand." A different, more refined accent added and another scoffed.
"They are mere children. I am disappointed to see them giving you such troubles, Sportsmaster." The assassin growled at the insult and answered with a short reply through his clenched teeth.
"The would-be heroes are no problem. It's that Red X guy who keeps getting in my way." Silence fell over the group.
"He stole the Xenothium before you could several months ago, did he not?" A female voice asked this time and Sportsmaster nodded rigidly. "Perhaps it would soothe your ego to know that Deathstroke the Terminator himself is interested in this Red X." It didn't.
"What? Why?" He restrained himself from shouting, but just barely.
"We are unsure, but there appears to be some sort of connection between the two." A deep, somewhat rough voice intoned while a different, younger male chuckled in the background. "Whatever the case, make sure you do not underestimate Red X again. He is an anomaly the Light had not planned for."
~Young Justice: Red X~
Spanish/English Dialogue and Terminology:
"Míralos, liberate y atácalos mientras están distraídos." – "Look at them, free yourself and take them while they're distracted."
"Tranquilo, por ahora les seguiré el juego. Ellos me darán lo que necesito." – "Quiet, for now I play along. They will give me what I need."
"La próxima vez, trata de no ser tan obvio." – "Next time, try not to be so obvious."
"Niños" – "Children"; "Calavera" – "Skull"
Oh shit, the Light finally got a debut, and apparently Deathstroke is up to something. Man, you gotta love all the secrecy that comes with this show. Somehow though, I think I've given Sportsmaster a vendetta against Red X. I seriously didn't do it on purpose, the mercenary always felt like a flunky to me, but there's a lot of resentment coming on his end, considering X has come out on top whenever they've fought. It amuses me to imagine X writing the man off while Sportsmaster is literally foaming at the mouth with hate.