Sorry this story took so long, but I've been busy with the real world. Anyway, this episode, we have another original story by yours truly, starring Titans East! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I have recently been informed that I will not be receiving the rights to Teen Titans for Christmas, so it still isn't mine, I'm afraid.
Steel City was not the prettiest of cities. It was a heavily industrialised city, with factories and smokestacks dominating the skyline. Crime used to run rampant in the streets; theft, mugging, the occasional murder, as well as corporate theft, blackmail, extortion and smuggling. The arrival of the Teen Titans East had changed everything. Originally, they had arrived to deal with Brother Blood, the then headmaster of the H.I.V.E. Academy. With him gone, they had turned their attention to the crime in the city itself. Within months, crime had dropped dramatically, reaching eighty percent of the old level. After the defeat of the Brotherhood of Evil, this number dropped even further, until the villains had escaped. While crime, especially murder and assassination, had dropped drastically, there were still people willing to commit the capital crime...for a price (1).
The assassin was unusual in two ways. The first thing was that she was female, and this had surprised many of her targets, though not for long. The second, more surprising thing about the assassin was her age: she was barely seventeen years old. The fact that she wore a smiling cat's mask and had the ability to turn invisible received absolutely no surprise at all, which says something about people's priorities these days. Her name was known to few people, usually her clients. However, the Titans had learnt of her when she had been hired by the Brotherhood of Evil. Cheshire had kept quiet about her time with the Brotherhood, but it was known that she had defeated Speedy, and had participated in the final fight. She had also fled in the later stages of the battle, when the fight had swung into the Titans favour. She had spent several months under the radar, until she had been hired to assassinate the incredibly popular and respected Senator John Trelawney (2). He was the most likely candidate to win the next election, which is why several large corporations, who would not benefit from having Trelawney as President, had paid Cheshire her quite considerable fee to remove him from the picture, as they had put it. She didn't care who was in charge; she'd kill anyone, if the price was right.
She strode boldly through the hotel in which Trelawney was staying. One of his suited bodyguards drew a pistol and took aim at her, and she vanished, leaving behind only her grinning cat's face. The guard's mouth dropped in shock, and his eyes went so wide they almost popped out of his head. He recovered from his surprise, and took aim at the face, but was too late. Cheshire swung her head around, smashing the heavy weights in her hair into the guard's face. He collapsed, unconscious. Cheshire had no problems with killing, but she had her own code of honour: if a target managed to evade her long enough, or best her in combat, she would abandon the contract; she would give the target a chance to defend him or herself; and she never killed any of the guards that were just doing their duty.
Cheshire uncloaked, and continued down the hallway. She opened the door to the room where she had been told Trelawney would be sleeping. She went up to the bed and yanked the covers off, revealing only a large bundle of clothes, shaped to look like a sleeping body.
There was a whistling noise behind her, and she spun around, exposing the claws hidden in the sleeves of her kimono, and slashed the arrow out of the air.
Speedy notched another arrow into his bow, aiming for her mask. Behind his own mask, his eyes narrowed. "Sorry, Cheshire," he said. "But your prince is in another castle." (3) He smiled grimly. "Won't I do instead?" He released the arrow, sending it flying towards her...
When there's trouble, you know who to call. TEEN TITANS!
From their tower they can see it all. TEEN TITANS!
When there's evil on the attack,
You can rest knowing they've got your back,
'Cause when the world needs heroes on patrol,
Teen Titans, GO!
With their superpowers they unite. TEEN TITANS!
Never met a villain that they liked. TEEN TITANS!
They've got the bad guys on the run,
They never stop till the job gets done,
'Cause when the world is losing all control,
Teen Titans, GO!
One, two, three, four, GO! Teen Titans!
Cheshire lashed out, slicing the arrow in half. Speedy leapt at her, trying to hit her with his bow. She brought her arm up and cut the bow to pieces, then smashed him in the chest with her shoulder. She ran past him as he pulled a second bow out of his quiver; he'd have to be a total fool to have only one bow (4). He pulled out an arrow and ran after her. She was sprinting down the corridor as he fired. A few metres from her, the arrow exploded, releasing a fine net, which wrapped around Cheshire's legs, tripping her up. She hit the ground, her breath knocked out of her.
Speedy whipped out his communicator and activated it. "Guys, Speedy here," he said. "I got her."
"Really?" said Bumblebee, the team leader.
He watched as Cheshire sliced through the fine weave of the net without grazing her own leg. She scrambled to her feet and bolted.
"Uh, scratch that," amended Speedy. "I don't got her."
"Big surprise," said Aqualad sarcastically. "I guess you need my help, again?"
"Hey, shut up, Fish-stick," said Speedy.
"Boys," said Bumblebee. "Argue later. Catch assassin now."
Speedy sighed. "Yes, mom," he said, signing off to avoid the inevitable backlash. He grabbed two more arrows and chased after Cheshire.
The assassin leapt down the stairs, rolling when she landed at the bottom. A wave of water crashed into her, knocking her off her feet. Once the flood passed, she looked up at a well built young man with dark eyes and long black hair. He waved his hand, and another jet of water hit her in the face. Fortunately for her, her mask stayed on as she was forced back by the stream, trapped against the wall. She reached into her sleeve and pulled out a nasty looking dagger, and threw it in Aqualad's direction. The Atlantean ducked, and his concentration broke. The water jet died, and she sprinted, bursting through the door and onto the streets of Steel City. Behind her, the speedster twins, Más and Menos, raced towards her.
"¡Más y Menos, sí podemos!" yelled the twins as they grabbed each other's hands. They accelerated impossibly quickly, closing the gap between them and the assassin with every millisecond. She was ready for them, though. As they approached, she jumped up, grabbing onto a street lamp and swung herself onto the top. Más y Menos raced past, staring in amazement, until they ran into the side of a building. Yellow blasts of electricity rained down on her as Bumblebee flew in, growing to her normal size in an instant. Cheshire leapt onto another street lamp, then dug her claws into the side of a building and started to slide down. Cheshire pushed off the wall to avoid the stinger shots, rolling when she hit the pavement. Bumblebee landed beside her, and lashed out with her stingers. The assassin blocked the stingers with her claws, and then swung her head around, bringing her weighted hair smashing into Bumblebee's face. Bumblebee fell backwards, and Cheshire jumped back to avoid a hail of explosive-tipped arrows. She turned and sprinted into an alley, and Speedy ran after her. He rounded the corner, and found a dead end, with absolutely no sign on the assassin. He swore and tossed down his bow in anger. Bumblebee and the others soon caught up with him.
"I can't believe she got away," said Speedy. He sighed and sat down on a trash can, burying his head in his hands.
"Por lo menos el senador sigue vivo," said Más.
"Por ahora," replied Menos, in a more downcast tone.
Aqualad patted his shoulder in sympathy. "We'll get her next time."
Speedy sighed. "I hope you're right."
"C'mon," said Bumblebee. "Let's get back to the Tower."
The others turned to leave as Speedy bent down to retrieve his bow. As he did so, he found a piece of paper next to the bow. There was a short message written on it.
Better luck next time, Speedy. From Cheshire.
Speedy crumpled the note. "You won't get so lucky next time," he said, somehow knowing she'd hear him. "I guarantee it."
Did he imagine it, or did he really hear a woman laugh after he said that? He shook his head, and went off after the others.
Speedy fired arrow after arrow down the shooting range. The arrows buried themselves deeply into the target at the other end of the range, grouped incredibly tightly. He did this every day, partially to keep in practice, but mostly because it helped him to unwind after a long day fighting crime. It also helped him to get over his heroin addiction; he'd gotten addicted about two years ago, and he and his mentor, the Green Arrow, had had a falling out. He'd finally broken the addiction just prior to his "participation" in the Tournament of Heroes. Speedy had tried hard to break his addiction; it was part of the reason why he hadn't been his traditional 'bad-boy' self during the tournament. (5) That was when he'd met Aqualad; more correctly, when he kicked Aqualad's ass. Of course, they'd gotten off to a rough start when they joined Titans East (he still thought that the whole 'fish taco' thing had been pretty funny), but it hadn't taken long for them to soon become friends. Aqualad had saved his life several times during his time in Steel, but to be fair, Speedy had saved Aqualad's life about the same number of times. There was no-one else he'd trust at his back when the going got tough, except maybe Bumblebee and the twins. Speedy lowered his bow, and took off his quiver. He loaded in more arrows, and then he decided to kick things up a notch. He pressed a button on a nearby console, and targets started to appear all down the range. He moved forward, firing an arrow into every target that appeared. He crouched behind a barricade and notched three arrows, before he popped up and sent the three arrows flying. The arrows hit a cluster of targets, one that he always had trouble with. He fired arrows as fast as he could, taking out almost every target as it appeared. A few started to progress down the range, but he dealt with them soon enough. The final target appeared, but Speedy was out of arrows. Thinking quickly, he pulled a little-used knife out of his belt and ditched it at the target. The blade stuck in, and Speedy leaned against the barricade, breathing heavily.
"Targets hit: thirty-one out of thirty-five. A new personal best," said the computerised voice of the training room computer. "Congratulations."
Speedy smiled a little. He'd finally gotten over thirty, a feat he had been struggling to achieve since Cheshire had beaten him months ago. Maybe if he was faster, he could beat her...
"Not bad," said Aqualad. The Atlantean was leaning against the doorframe, watching Speedy train. "But I don't think it'll help you much with Cheshire."
Speedy's face hardened. "You know what they say: every little bit counts."
"Not if you spend the whole fight looking at her butt," said Aqualad deadpan.
"...She wears a low cut dress that exposes her thighs," said Speedy through gritted teeth. "Of course I'm gonna be looking at her butt!"
Aqualad finally cracked a grin. "That's not all you look at."
Speedy's face went red, although it was impossible to tell whether it was out of embarrassment or anger. "Why, you...!" He ran at Aqualad, raising his fist to punch him, but he was knocked down by Bumblebee. She hovered between the pair of them, keeping them apart.
"Hey!" she yelled. "Cool it, Speedy. Nobody hits anyone in my Tower," she paused for a second, "unless they break in, then they're fair game." Then, just as Aqualad was feeling safe, she spun round and gutted him with her stare. "And you," she said, pointing a finger at him threateningly. "Stop riling him up about Cheshire. That's my job." She calmed down a bit. "Now, I want you two to calm down, shake hands, and stop it right now."
Speedy got to his feet and held his hand out to Aqualad. "I was outta line. 'm sorry, bro," he said. Bumblebee raised an eyebrow; Speedy almost never admitted he was wrong.
Aqualad shook Speedy's hand. "No, it's my fault for winding you up about it."
Speedy shook his head. "No, I shouldn't have lost my temper at you."
Bumblebee groaned. "Can't you just share the blame fifty-fifty?" she asked.
The two of them shook their heads at the same time. "Wouldn't work," said Aqualad.
Speedy nodded. "We'd argue over who gets the bigger half."
Bumblebee covered her eyes with her hand and shook her head. "What did I do to deserve this?" she wondered out loud.
"You volunteered," said Speedy.
Bumblebee made a rather rude hand gesture, but Speedy and Aqualad just laughed.
In an abandoned factory, a meeting was taking place. The meeting room was dominated by a large, rectangular table, with several seats arranged around it. The occupants of each chair were members of several large corporations, ones that, under their lawful exterior, engaged in criminal activities too numerous to mention. Everyone in that room had connections to major criminal networks, be it gangs, the mafia, the yakuza, the Triads or Scorpia (6). While they had kept their unlawful activities carefully guarded secrets, not everything had remained hidden. Small pieces of information floated around, and all these pieces of information had been collected by one man: John Trelawney. It was well known that several of the companies represented in the meeting were supporting Charles Baker, one of the other presidential candidates. Trelawney had found out about their activities when he was researching Baker's supporters, but he had no solid evidence, so he couldn't do anything. If Trelawney became president, however, they believed he would launch a full-scale investigation into each of the companies, ripping out their secrets for the world to see. Recently, public opinion was swinging in favour of Trelawney, so Baker's supporters had decided to hire someone to eliminate Trelawney. That someone was now being questioned about her failure.
"You should have been able to kill Trelawney easily," said one of them. He had an Italian accent.
"You should have been taken more care to ensure secrecy," replied Cheshire. "His guards knew that an assassin was coming for him, and I never tell anyone about my targets."
"Surely you would have had time to find Trelawney, even if he had changed rooms," said a woman. She spoke with a British accent.
"He was guarded by Titans East," said Cheshire. "I've fought against some of them before; some of them are incredibly powerful. Especially when they work as a team."
"So you ran in fear," said another. Cheshire couldn't place his accent, but she thought he may have been from Africa.
"I am not scared of the Titans East," she said. "I can take them in a one-on-one fight. But the odds were against me, so I thought it wise to retreat."
No-one chose to comment. The Titans East were incredible fighters, a fact attested to by the major drop in crime since they had arrived. The Brotherhood of Evil had proven that each member could be defeated if he or she was alone; when they teamed up, though, they were almost unstoppable.
The first man to speak sighed. "With your failure, security around Trelawney will be tighter than ever," he said. "But it is too late for us to hire a new assassin. We will, of course, pay you double your current fee, half now, half when the deed is done."
Cheshire nodded. "I understand. And if I fail?"
"If you fail, you will still receive the rest of your payment; assuming you are not in prison," said the British woman. "We will not send anyone to kill you; anyone we send would be no match for you."
The assassin nodded again, then turned and walked out. Once she was outside the room, she turned invisible and snuck back in, staying in the shadows so her mask wasn't visible.
"Do you really intend to pay her if she fails?" asked someone. She had a French accent.
"Of course not," said the British woman. "She will not live long enough to receive her payment."
"I have several people on retainer," said a man. He had a Russian accent. "I am sure any one of them could easily dispose of her. Besides, no-one would miss her."
Behind her mask, Cheshire's face twisted in rage. She should have known they wouldn't honour their word. She slipped under the table and uncloaked, trying not to breathe too loud as she recovered from the extreme mental exertion required maintaining her invisibility.
"Then this meeting is adjourned," said someone. "And never officially took place." There was a scraping of chairs on concrete as everyone stood up and walked out. Once the last of the footsteps had receded, and the room had been quiet for a good two minutes, Cheshire crawled out from under the table, removing her mask to wipe away the sweat that had collected on her brow. This deal was getting worse all the time... (7)
Bumblebee soared over the factories and skyscrapers of Steel City, her insect-like wings fluttering rapidly. She paused to pull her communicator out and call in.
"Bumblebee here. Nothing so far."
"Más aquí, no hemos encontrado nada," said Más.
"Es tranquilo," said his brother Menos.
"Yeah," said Aqualad. "Too quiet."
Speedy sighed. "I have a bad feeling about this."
"Yeah, me too," said Bumblebee. "You think she'll make another attempt this soon, Cheap Shot?"
Speedy rolled his eyes at the nickname he'd received. "No, I don't think so. She'd probably wait until it looks like the Senator's no longer her target, then she'll strike."
"So we're just waiting out here for no good reason?" asked Aqualad.
"Well, she might try to throw us off," said Speedy. "She might be counting on the fact that we've amped up security, 'cause no-one would be crazy enough to attack someone with such heavy security."
"A excepción de su," said Menos.
"I've been living with you two for almost a year, and I still have no idea what you're saying!" said Speedy.
"He said she'd be the only one crazy enough to attack right now," said Bumblebee.
"Yeah, probably," said Speedy. "I—"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash of green fabric. He whirled around to get a better view, but it was gone.
"Hey Speedy, you okay?" asked Bumblebee.
"Yeah," he said distractedly. "Yeah, I'm all right. I think I spotted something, but it's probably nothing. Won't take long."
"All right," said Bumblebee. "Call if you need help."
"Will do. Speedy out."
The teenage archer slipped the communicator into his belt, and whipped out an arrow and slipped it into place. He didn't draw the bow back, because his arm would get tired if he held it too long. He turned into the alleyway, holding the bow horizontally, and pulled the arrow back.
"Cheshire," he growled.
"Speedy," she replied, her back to him. "Here to take me to prison?"
"I want to know who hired you," he said.
The assassin shook her head. "A professional never reveals her secrets."
"You'd better tell me; my arm's getting tired."
"Such an old threat, Speedy," Cheshire said as she turned to face him. "I think you need a new one." She lashed out at lightning speed, whipping out her claws and slashing the arrow to pieces, leaving the bow intact.
"Why are you an assassin?" he asked, relaxing his grip on the string.
"You wouldn't understand," she said.
Speedy shrugged. "Try me."
"Have you ever been a slave?" she asked. "Has anyone ever had complete control over every aspect of your life...and your death?"
Speedy was silent, his jaw hanging open in shock.
"I didn't think so." She sheathed her claws and turned away from him. "That man deserved to die," she continued. "So I gave him exactly what he deserved." She swallowed audibly. "I was ten years old," she whispered.
Speedy had no idea what to say, so, wisely, he stayed silent.
"I surprised even myself at how easily I killed him," she said. "After I became an assassin, after my first assignment, I learnt not to see my targets as people. I learnt not to wonder whether they had a family, or friends, or parents; I learnt to see them as a thing." She was silent for a few seconds. "That's why you wouldn't understand." She reached into her sleeve, and pulled out a smoke bomb, and Speedy notched another arrow.
"Don't move," he said, pulling the arrow back.
Behind her mask, Cheshire smiled. She dropped the smoke bomb, and it went off when it hit the ground, spewing out foul-smelling grey smoke. Speedy fired his arrow into the cloud, but when the smoke cleared, he found he missed. There was no sign of Cheshire; just an arrow embedded in the wall in front of him, and an expended smoke bomb where she had been standing. He sighed, and walked out of the alley. His communicator chimed. He pulled it out and answered.
"Speedy? It's Bumblebee. What did you find?"
Speedy didn't hesitate. "It was nothing," he said, a part of him wondering why exactly he was saying that. "Don't sweat it."
"You sure?" asked Bumblebee, not willing to drop the subject that quickly.
The teenage archer sighed. "Yes, I'm sure," he said. "If it had been something, you would've heard me yelling from the other side of town."
"Good point," said the team leader. "Bumblebee out." Speedy returned the communicator back to its place on his belt, wondering when exactly Bumblebee had become so damn overprotective.
Aqualad sighed. There had been no sign of Cheshire all night; it was almost four in the morning.
"Bumblebee, this is Aqualad. You still awake?" he said into his communicator.
Bumblebee appeared on the screen, stifling a yawn. "Barely," she groaned. "What's up?"
"I don't think Cheshire's gonna show," said the Atlantean. "If she was going to kill Trelawney, she would've done so by now."
"I dunno," said Bumblebee. "She doesn't have a consistent method of attack after she's been surprised on a mission. She might attack today, or tomorrow, or maybe next week; we have to stay on our guard."
"Right," said Aqualad. "I'll keep that in mind. Aqualad out."
Aqualad put away his communicator and returned to his vigil. After a few minutes, he saw movement nearby. He moved closer to try and spot whatever had moved, but there was nothing there, so he put it down to his imagination and went back to his spot. Someone hit him on the back of the head, and he spun around to attack his assailant, already pulling water out of a nearby drain. Cheshire kicked him in the chin, and he fell onto his back. His concentration broke, and the water jet he was manipulating splashed onto the ground beside him harmlessly. Cheshire knelt down and pressed something foul-smelling to his nose. He tried to struggle, but the smell was too much, and he passed out.
The superspeed twins, Más and Menos, were walking around the hotel where Trelawney was staying. Más pulled out his communicator and called Bumblebee.
"Más aquí," he said. "Nada inusual hasta el momento."
"Que sabemos de," muttered his brother.
"Keep looking, you two," replied Bumblebee.
"Si, senorita," said Más, before he signed off and put his communicator away.
"No hay nada aquí," said Menos. "Bien podríamos volver a casa."
"Hermano tranquilo," replied Mas. "Usted nunca sabe quién está escuchando."
The twins continued their walk, neglecting to look behind them. Cheshire walked up to them and placed a hand on each of their heads.
"¿Qué—?" was all the twins managed to get out before she slammed their heads together. They were groggy from the hit, but still conscious, so Cheshire punched them both in the temple. Más and Menos collapsed with a groan, and she shook some feeling back into her sore fists.
Bumblebee, hovering above Steel City, was starting to get worried. Neither Aqualad nor Más and Menos had checked in for a while. She knew that they could handle themselves in a fight, but they weren't invincible. If Cheshire had hurt her teammates in any way, Bumblebee promised herself darkly that Cheshire would get the beating of the century...
A flash of green cloth down below caught her attention. She began to descend, hoping and dreading that she would find Cheshire. She drew her stingers as she flew between the buildings, shivering as a cold gust of wind blew through the street. Her insect-like wings beat rapidly as she flew between buildings. After searching in vain for a few minutes, she stopped and hovered in place for a few seconds, bobbing up and down slightly. On impulse, she looked up. As she did so, someone dropped onto her, grabbing her waist. She dropped her stingers in surprise, before she started to struggle against her attacker. If she could get free, she could fly off and let her opponent fall. Bumblebee whacked her opponent in the face, and swore when her hand hit Cheshire's unforgiving mask. The assassin swung her head around, bringing her weighted hair around to batter Bumblebee. The two started to fall, and Cheshire jumped off of Bumblebee, digging her claws into the side of a building. Bumblebee tried to recover, and started to flap her wings as quickly as she could. However, she didn't slow down enough, and she hit the pavement, rolling as she landed to avoid breaking her legs. She looked around wildly, and saw one of her stingers a few metres away. As she ran towards it, Cheshire tackled her. Bumblebee managed to grab the stinger and slash Cheshire with it, cutting through the sleeve of her kimono. The assassin pulled out the scented cloth she had used on Aqualad, and pressed it against Bumblebee's face. Bumblebee's attacks became more frantic as she realized what was happening, but Cheshire hung on until the cloth did its work, and Bumblebee's eyes rolled upwards as she slipped into unconsciousness.
Speedy sprinted between the buildings, hoping he could reach his friend in time. He'd seen Cheshire attack Bumblebee in mid-air, and watched helplessly as the two of them fell. He rounded the corner, pulling out an arrow, slipping it onto his bow and taking aim in one smooth movement. The assassin was standing up next to an unconscious Bumblebee, with several cuts in the sleeves of kimono, and a dark piece of cloth in her hand; Speedy was quite willing to bet it was drugged with some sort of sleeping agent. Through one of the slices in her sleeve, Speedy saw a metal band around her arm, the one that had the claws attached to it. He aimed for it and unleashed the arrow. His arrow flew straight and true, the miniature explosive detonating on impact, shredding the metal band and bruising her skin. She yelped in pain, dropping the drugged cloth. Cheshire turned to face him, and exposed the claws sheathed in her other sleeve.
Speedy sighed. "Fuck (8)," he said as she started to run towards him. He quickly fired another arrow at her, but she slashed it out of the air with her remaining claws. She closed the distance between them and slashed his bow to pieces. She tried to slash him, but he caught her arm and held it back. Cheshire swung her head around to bring her weighted hair smashing into Speedy's head, but the teen archer was prepared. He held onto Cheshire's arm with his left hand, and pulled an explosive arrow out of his quiver with his right, and stabbed the arrow into the weights in her hair. The explosion shredded the weight, burning through some of Cheshire's hair. She backed off, watching him warily. Speedy moaned; the force of the explosion wouldn't do any permanent damage, but his hand would hurt like hell for a while. He clutched his injured hand to his side, keeping his attention on the assassin. She kept her remaining claws exposed, and Speedy pulled out a weapon he almost never used: a knife.
"You any good with that?" asked Cheshire, nodding at the knife.
"I can handle myself pretty well," he replied.
"You're bluffing," she said.
"Maybe; maybe not," he replied, as a smile made its way onto his face. He flourished the knife. "Wanna find out?"
Cheshire lunged at him, stabbing at his face with her claws. He dodged, and knocked her claws away with his knife. She attacked again and again, and Speedy stayed on the defensive, constantly being pushed back. She struck again, and Speedy blocked, the blade of his knife getting stuck between her claws.
"You're terrible with that knife," said Cheshire as they struggled against each other.
"There's a reason for that," grunted Speedy.
"And that is...?" Cheshire trailed off.
Speedy smiled mirthlessly. "I'm not left handed." As he finished speaking, he disentangled the knife and shoved the assassin with his right hand. She fell back, and Speedy tossed the blade from his left hand to his right, wincing slightly as it landed in his sore palm. He launched himself at Cheshire, and this time the two were evenly matched. Speedy slashed at her mask, and she blocked the blow. She flicked her claws, and the knife slipped out of his hand. He grabbed her arm with one hand, and yanked off her remaining set of metal claws with the other. She punched him in the chest, winding him, and sprinted past him as he tried to get his breath back. He watched her as she ran, making no effort to conceal herself. Speedy managed to get his breathing back to normal, and scooped up his knife, returning it to his belt. He yanked out a spare bow and tied the bowstring to both ends. It was a useless weapon in close-quarters combat, as he'd learnt when he first fought Cheshire, which is why he'd saved it; until now. He sprinted after the teenage assassin, hoping she wouldn't get too far away.
Cheshire's trail led him to a factory that was lying abandoned in one of the cheaper areas of the city. The building was old, and was slated for demolition.
Cheshire's client has got to be in there, thought Speedy. I doubt she'd be stupid enough to lead me to her hideout.
He was standing on the roof of another factory; one with a higher roof than the one Cheshire had entered. He fired an arrow at the roof, one trailing a long rope. The arrow stuck into the roof of the abandoned factory, and Speedy tied the other end to a pipe on the roof he was standing on. He unstrung his bow and swung it over the rope, checking it held his weight. The arrow held, and Speedy sailed over the gap on his makeshift zip line. He made it across and tied the bowstring back onto his bow. He saw a window on the roof that he could enter through. The window was unlatched, so he lifted it open. Once he did so, voices drifted up to him, and he pulled out an arrow as he tried to see who was in the gloom below.
"...though you would have killed Trelawney by now," said a man. He sounded like he had a South African accent.
"It's almost impossible to reach him now," said a familiar voice. Speedy realized it belonged to Cheshire. "He's heavily guarded, and the Titans East are well-prepared."
As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he saw that Cheshire was standing at a large table, which had several chairs around it. All of the chairs were occupied, but Speedy couldn't see their faces in the dim light.
"Surely these so-called heroes are no match for you," said a woman. Speedy tentatively identified her accent as German.
"They are more resourceful than I thought," said Cheshire. "One of them gave me a lot of trouble today." Speedy was flattered to know that he had made her life difficult; it was one of the things he was good at.
Cheshire took a deep breath, as if she was steeling herself to do something really bad. "I'm going to have to back out of this assignment."
Her words caused a ripple of murmuring throughout the room. Speedy heard a Russian voice say, "If you are going back on our deal, I am afraid we will have to kill you." The Russian man gestured, and a shadow detached itself from the wall, revealing himself as a huge muscular bodyguard. He drew a pistol out of his pocket and took aim—
—and yelled in pain when an explosive arrow knocked the gun out of his hand. A second arrow flew straight at him, bursting mid-flight into a net. The net wrapped around the bodyguard, trapping him. Speedy threw his knife down at the table, and jumped down through the window. He went into a roll as he landed, firing another explosive arrow at a guard reaching for his pistol. Cheshire yanked the knife out of the table and whacked the Russian on the side of the head with the hilt. Speedy fired arrows at all the guards, disarming and netting them, while Cheshire took out all the members of the clandestine meeting. In less than a minute, it was all over. Speedy and Cheshire stood back to back on the table, panting as they surveyed the room.
"We have got to stop meeting like this," said Cheshire as she turned to face him.
"Yeah, I always get into fights whenever you're around," said Speedy.
"What can I say? I'm a bad influence," Cheshire replied.
"That you are. In fact, I—!" Speedy was cut off as Cheshire pushed the bottom of her mask up and kissed him. Ah, what the hell, was his last coherent thought before he wrapped his arms around her, deepening the kiss. They broke apart when his ears started ringing. No, that wasn't his ears...
Cheshire tripped him up, and he slammed into the table.
"Thanks for the knife," she whispered, before jumping off and disappearing. Speedy rolled onto his stomach, but he saw no sign of her. He groaned, and pulled out his communicator.
"Speedy here," he said. "What's up?"
"Speedy!" It was Bumblebee. "Where are you? Are you all right? What happened?"
"I'm all right, I'm all right," he assured Bumblebee. "How 'bout you?"
"Well, I've got a massive headache from whatever-it-was that Cheshire drugged me with, a few bruises, but other than that I feel okay." She paused. "Where are you?"
"I'm in an abandoned factory on the other side of town. Listen..." he told them all that had occurred since Bumblebee was taken out; his fight with Cheshire, tracking her across town, finding her in a meeting with her clients, helping her take out her clients, and her escape. The only thing he left out was the kiss. He wasn't going to mention that anytime soon.
"Wow," said Aqualad. "You've been busy."
Speedy grinned. "Fish-stick! How are ya, ol' buddy?"
Aqualad fumed quietly for a few seconds. "Call me that again, and you will not like what happens to you, I guarantee it."
"Yeah, you're fine," said Speedy. "What about the twins?"
"Estamos bien," said Más. "Un poco golpeado, pero sobrevivirá."
Speedy nodded, pretending he actually knew what Más was going on about.
"You reckon you can keep everyone in there down for a while?" asked Bumblebee.
Speedy glanced around at the unconscious bodies that littered the room. "I don't think the people here are getting up anytime soon."
"All right, we'll be there soon." Static hissed out of the communicator's speaker, indicating that Bumblebee had hung up. He put the communicator back into its belt pouch, then noticed something on the ground beside him. It was his knife, and there was a sheet of paper wrapped around it. He unwound the piece of paper and read the note written there with a smile.
Meet me here tomorrow at six. C
Beneath was part of a street map, with a cross on the map to indicate the meeting point. He wasn't going to miss this for the world...
Speedy arrived five minutes early, dressed in civvies, just in case. He was wearing a white shirt and jeans, and he wasn't wearing sunglasses, showing his dark blue eyes. He had done some reconnaissance earlier, again, just in case; you never knew if someone would jump out of hiding to attack you—
A young woman walked up to him. Her features looked as if she had been born in Singapore, Hong Kong, or anywhere in Central Asia. Her hair was jet-black and hung short and her eyes were a beautiful green colour. The closest word to describe the colour was jade; they were the same colour and hardness as the rock. But when she recognized Speedy, her eyes softened and she smiled.
"Almost fooled me there," said Cheshire, before kissing him.
—or kiss you.
1. "The capital crime" part is a reference to Snuff, the latest Discworld novel, starring Sam Vimes, goblins, smugglers and the battle butler Willikins, all out in the countryside, an obvious recipe for disaster.
2. A reference to Nightrise, book 3 of the Power of Five, or The Gatekeepers, as you Americans call it. Anyway, the series is by Anthony Horowitz, aka the creator of Alex Rider, so you know it's got to be good. It's basically Alex Rider, but fantasy style. Read it. Now, if not sooner. (That sentence doesn't make any sense, does it?)
3. Mario references, anyone?
4. In Calling All Titans, Cheshire destroyed Speedy's bow. However, in Titans Together, he had his bow when he was unfrozen. The answer? He had a spare or two, just in case. Hence the fact he pulls out a spare in this fight. If you're wondering why he didn't bring out the spare when he first fought Cheshire in Calling All Titans, it was probably because he was busy getting beaten to a pulp.
5. A possible explanation for his change in personality between "Winner Take All" and "Titans East Part I", using Speedy's actual comic background. That takes skill.
6. Power of Five references and Alex Rider references. Damn, I'm good. Just for the record, Scorpia got beaten by Alex no less than three times. Fortunately, they've given up now.
7. Quoting Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back. I had to sneak in at least one Star Wars quote, otherwise I would feel bad.
8. Sorry about the Precision F-Strike, but Speedy has a bad habit of mouthing off when I don't want him to. Mind you, it does express his feelings accurately. (9)
9. I seem to have contracted Footnote Fever. (10)
10. Footnote Fever is a compulsion to add footnotes to any sentence written by the writer (11). It is not fatal, however, in some cases, it can be highly contagious, and could potentially span a writer's entire career (12).
11. Like this.
12. Doctors and scientists are working on a cure for Footnote Fever, but it may take some time.
Sorry about the butchered Spanish. I'm using Google Translate. Go figure.
For some reason, I really liked the scene in the training room. I guess that's because I got a chance to get inside Speedy's head and really try and work out what makes him tick. I also like the ending. Yeah, I'm a sucker for romance. Whaddya gonna do?
One of my greatest worries is characterisation. I hope I've written everyone in character, and if anyone in any of my stories so far has been OOC, I sincerely apologize.
Next episode is titled "The Fearsome Five," and is another episode based on the TTG comics, but with my own spin on the story. I won't be posting that until next year though, because I'll be on holiday in Bali for a few weeks, and I won't be getting back after the New Year. Anyway, I hope y'all have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Don't do anything stupid, because that would be bad.