Robin clutched the bed sheets with sweaty hands, lamp on, gasping from the latest nightmare to plague the his sleep. He felt chagrined at the state he was in. He had always hated the distress and panic that accompanied waking from his nightmares. But that wasn't the source of his anger. Not exactly. What he hated most, was the nightmare itself, and the things in it that he found that he could fear.
It had started, just as it had in reality, with the two flitting across the roof tops, the sun pushing weakly through the grey clouds the storm the night before had left. He could almost smell the rich scent of rain, and feel the numbness of his skin as he ran against the chilly wind in pursuit of his tall, black clad foe. Who was carrying with him a large sack of loot he had stolen from the bank. Robin tossed freeze discs at his feet, but the Robber evaded them with ease.
Robin adjusted his strategy, aiming instead to throw the Robber off his footing with throwing knives, but finding no instance to attack without fatally injuring him.
So abandoning the idea of hitting the robber directly, Robin threw a knife at the large sack of money that was bouncing over it's carrier's shoulder. Robin's weapon succeeded in tearing a large gash in the bag, spilling bills of green currency, sending them dancing like leaves in the wind. And yet the Robber never so much as paused.
The he turned his head over his shoulder, and smiled mockingly at him. He couldn't hear, but he knew that the Robber was shouting that he had a hand in Starfire's harm. Which of coarse, was a lie. Robin knew it, but he still reacted the way he had before.
Letting his anger consume him like an amateur. He yelled out a curse and let fly a throwing knife, this time aiming to puncture his throat, when the dream differed from the true course of events that day. Instead of catching, and throwing the knife back, sparking the skilled knife fight that actually happened, the Robber darted out of the way, narrowly avoiding Robin's blade. Robin fired again, and again, to no avail. The Robber dodged every attack without a flaw. Robin slashed downwards, as his hand darted forward, intending to clasp around Robin's neck. Robin slashed again as his hand reached out once more, but this time the Robber didn't retreat. Instead, he caught the blade in his bare hands, blood dripping from a deep gash in his palm as a result. But he didn't appear to be in any kind of pain, Robin couldn't here him make any sound suggesting discomfort from his injury.
No, he just fixed his eyes on Robin, grinning mockingly. The next thing he knew, his back was pressed up against the tiled roof the two had been quarreling on seconds before. A hand clutching Robin's throat in a bloody vice. Robin struggled against him, But he felt numb and restrained. Like someone had encased his entire body in solid lead. His lips formed a string of foul curses at the Robber, but he could summon no sound, no air.
No, it was worse than that. It wasn't that he just couldn't draw air in, he couldn't breath out either, he was forced to hold on that used air, suffocating from the inside. For the first time in the dream he could hear, everything. A train passing by in the distance, traffic and the aggravated shouts of drivers, the vague blend of voices from the throng of civilians living out their daily routines, completely unaware of the struggle taking place above them. And then there was something else, it was hazy, and unclear, but it stood out. A haunting familiarity about it that sent shivers up his spine. The more he tried to place it, the clearer it became, slowly over powering the sounds of the city, ringing in his ears, bringing images to his mind that he was happy to have forgotten. Slade pummeling him mercilessly during training as his apprentice, shouting at him to think quicker, strike faster, fight to kill, kill to win, reminding him how similar the two really were - the two fighting when Slade's reagent had infected his mind, causing Robin to see him everywhere, hear him, throw punches that the hallucinated Slade deflected without ever so much as scratching his armor. Watching him torment Raven from the roof tops, convincing her she would be the death of the world. In every instance laughing cruelly at his weakness, like he was now. The laughter grew closer, his eyes darted around searching for the source of the sound, looking for Slade, The laughter grew louder and louder, threatening to shatter his ear drums, when he finally found him. There just over the Robber's shoulder, bent over in hysterical laughter, his two-colored mask gleaming in the few streams of sunlight that breached the clouds. He froze when he realized Robin was watching. He straightened and clasped his hands behind his back, his shoulders still shaking slightly with more controlled laughter. His eye fixed on Robin. Robin threw his most ferocious glare back in response, but Slade just returned with an amused look, like the one he had responded with that night at the pier. He turned his gaze to the Robber and made a quick gesture with his hand. The Robber never looked his way but Slade must have said something as well. The Robber grinned again and pried the throwing knife from Robin's hand bringing it closer to his face, placing the wicked tip just under his eye… and everything went black. His eyes snapped open and he woke up drenched in sweat. He turned on his lamp and stared at the bulb for five minutes, to make sure he could still see.
The rest of the morning was fairly quiet. To quiet for his taste.
Not that the Titans usually had much work to do in the mornings, but still. Things seemed unusually quiet at Titans Tower. Under normal circumstances this would have been nice. Robin usually relished times like these. It was sort of nice to have a peaceful morning once in a while, he had to admit. But it couldn't have been worse timing now. With nothing to keep him occupied, or more importantly, to distract him from that dream. Even on its most peaceful days, Titans tower always had some sort of dysfunction, for want of a better word. Like the dishwasher not working, or Robin having some sort of paperwork to fill out, or Cyborg and Beast Boy might be playing Extreme Stank Ball in the hallway, but Nothing. Beast Boy had been locked in his room for hours playing the new Mega Monkeys 5 video game, and showed no signs of making an appearance any time soon, Cyborg and excused himself as soon as he licked the last scrap of bacon of his plate, Saying he had something important to do. And Raven… she hadn't even come out of her room yet. Both Cyborg and Beast Boy strongly advised Robin and Starfire to stay out of it. "You do not want to mess with stuff in her room" Beast boy said in a thin voice.Starfire took some more convincing, but finally gave it a rest. At the moment, the only sounds that could be heard in the common area were Starfire's snores, and the his breathing. She laid curled up on the couch a few mere feet away from him.
She twitched in her sleep, almost as if from pain. But then just nestled her head deeper into her arms and resumed her relaxed snoring. It was just a small thing most likely nothing. But the action disturbed him. He reached a protective hand out to her, but stopped just a hair away from her shoulder. He clasped his other hand around his wrist, as if to restrain himself. this is why he got away. You need to stop this, you cant panic every time she might get a scrape. He mentally scolded himself. She can take care of herself.
He jerked his hand away from her. Of course she could take care of herself, she was a Titan, after all. He just needed work to do, Come to think of it, wasn't there a report he had to file in his office? Robin stood up, careful not to disturb the sleeping tamerainian. He was just at the door when it slid open with a whooshing sound. Cyborg stood in the door way with a serious look to him. Robin stepped back surprised. The cybernetic teen just regarded him silently for another moment. "Cyborg, you scared me," when Cyborg didn't answer in his light hearted way, he knew something serious had come up. "What, trouble?" he asked. no, if there was trouble he would have heard the alarm. "what is it?" he demanded. "Robin, I think… it's time we do it. The disc. I think its time."
Surprise registered on Robin's face for a split second, before quickly melding seamlessly into an expressionless business mask. "Lets get to it then. I'll be in the lab." Robin replied, striding forward, indenting to brush past him, when a metal hand fell on his shoulder. "Actually, I think it would be easier to look at it in my room." He suggested. Robin nodded and followed his friend and teammate to his room.
This was just what he needed.
The two stood over the metal operating table that served as Cyborg's bed, staring intently at the small piece of evidence "You sure you don't want any gloves, or a mask or something?" Cyborg asked again. Robin shook his head, and held up his gloves. "These gloves are made of a special material that is water proof, bullet proof, can withstand the heat of 1500 degrees Celsius, and is impervious to most acids, my hands should be fine. And as for a mask, well, your scans would have found anything that dangerous." Robin said confidently. Cyborg looked down, a slight reddish tone to the flesh side of his face. "There are some metals my scans cant penetrate, albeit rare. We don't know how far Slade went on this…" Robin looked over at the tray where an extra surgical mask lay untouched. He shook his head. "I'm sure it's nothing I cant handle. I'll be fine." he reassured, clasping a gloved hand on to the older teen's shoulder. Cyborg looked down at the shiny green material. "1500 degrees, huh?" he said admiringly .
" that's right." he said, almost proudly. Then, he took the hand off his shoulder and clapped them together. "Let's get to work." Cyborg nodded at the statement.
And grabbed a screw driver from a near by operating tray. Holding the hilt he unscrewed the base of the disc with almost machine like precision, to reveal a network of wires connecting several small metal compartments which seemed to be connected, yet again to a larger rectangular box in the center by lengths of thin metal tubing. "It seems these tubes all seem to filter into this main compartment," He said, following the tubes with a mechanical finger. "My scans have already revealed this, now I've come up with several possible theories as to the purpose of these smaller compartment. My theory is, they each compartment carry's some sort of gas or liquid, that when signaled by radio wave, rush into this main compartment, here, creating some sort of chemical reaction, like an explosion, or freezing effect. Isolated, the gasses or liquids would be harmless, but combined it could pose a much larger threat. It's a sound theory, after all, your freeze disks and explosive knives work the same way." He explained. And then pointed at a small chip on each compartment. "These chips receive radio signals that, I'm sure, signal each of these compartments to release whatever they're holding. I've disabled them, of course. But, we'll need to cut these wires, it could have some sort of fail safe where it triggers the device if disturbed. And even after that, I think it's best we examine each compartment individually, saving the big one for last." Robin nodded, unfazed. Cyborg signaled to Robin for light. In response Robin flashed a torch over the wires illuminating every inch of the cybernetic networks. Cyborg put aside the screwdriver and picked up a small pair of tweezers and another pair of wire cutters. Carefully, he adjusted or snipped away the appropriate wires, until he was sure it was safe to move on. Cyborg put aside the wire cutters and picked up a screw driver with a much smaller head and lowered it down onto the miniscule screws holding the compartment together. Cyborg paused, a bead of sweat running down his face. Just before he loosened the screw he pulled is hand away roughly. "I-I can't do it." He gasped, averting his eyes in shame. Robin reached out reassuringly. "It's okay. I can, just talk me through it."
Cyborg bit his lip, then nodded, a shamed look on his face. "I'm sorry." he mutters. Robin shook his head.
"No, It's fine, I was going to ask to do it anyway." He said kindly. "Back to work." Cyborg nodded. And switched positions with his teammate. Robin took the screw driver from the side and held it in the same place he'd seen Cyborg position it before. Once it was firmly nestled into the countersink of the screw, Robin slowly twisted, loosening it, slowly drawing it up, until it came out all together. He looked up excitedly to Cyborg, who was eying the device intently, He gave him a thumbs up, and a signal to continue. Robin removed the screw from it's socket and continued to the next, and the third, repeating the action, all without a hitch. With three screws laying on a tray Robin positioned the head of the screwdriver into the head of the fourth screw, mind buzzing with what might be inside. He carefully twisted the handle, bringing up a small bit more. He continued, until most of the screw was out, one more twist to go. His mind buzzed excitedly.
He twisted the screw head with a small flick of his wrists.
And he knew, something had gone wrong.
There was a quick clicking sound, like a latch being opened, and a low hiss. Suddenly the thin tubes connecting the compartments began to quiver, all leading into the one he had been working on just before. Robin's eyes widened in horror behind his mask as the lid of the compartment folded in, releasing a cloud of black gas that swarmed around Robin's head in an instant. Robin gasped out of instinct, and covered his face in a hacking cough.
"ROBIN!" Raven screamed, barging through the doors towards him in a blur of dark energy. Then he heard a defining sound, and every thing went red.