Welcome to chapter 8, and let's have a big hand for Ground Pounder!
Normal text is narrator.
"This is speech."
"This is a whisper."
"This is a shout!"
This is thought.
This is written words.
This is a transition.
This is author's notes.
(Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans)
Ground Pounder was hungry. As usual. He'd just arrived in Jump City the day before, and was fresh out of cash. Thanks to the heist his sisters had dragged him into a few weeks ago, he couldn't get a job without getting arrested. Although it's not like that wasn't the case already, he thought bitterly. He sighed, I guess it's dumpster diving. Again.
Em: "Uh, where are we headin'?"
Jinx: "Just down to the lab. If you're going to be staying here, we need to find out if you have any, unnatural talents."
Em: "You mean superpowers?"
Jinx: "We prefer to call them Meta-human talents."
Em: "But I don't have any powers."
Gizmo: "You might now."
Gizmo: "The Aura Borealis."
Gizmo: "The Northern Lights, dimwit. When the energy from the sun hits the Earth's magnetic field, it gets caught up in the loop and turns the entire planet into a giant battery. This messes with every living thing on Earth, and causes visitors to sometimes develop powers shortly after they arrive. The visible effect of it is the Northern Lights."
Em: "This is so cool!"
Gizmo: "You already said that."
Em: "I know!"
See More: "We're here."
The lab was Gizmo's personal playground. Since no one else really knew anything about machines or programming or research, they mostly stayed out. Surprisingly, the room was fairly tidy, with all the tools hung on the far wall, an open-fronted scanner to the left, some work tables to the right of the door, and all of the large, complicated instruments and power cores in the middle of the floor. Everyone gave Gizmo a funny look.
Gizmo: "I can't work in a dirty space, you got a problem with that?"
They stared at him some more. Finally, Private Hive shook his head.
Gizmo: "Good. Scuzbrains."
Jinx: "Getting back on track here, guys. Gimzo, fire up the scanner."
He dashed across room and started scrambling all over the machine, checking wires, flipping switches, and pushing buttons. Em watched in astonishment. Everyone else looked bored.
Gizmo: "Okay, it's ready."
Jinx: "Good. Em, could you please step inside?"
Em: "It won't hurt me, will it?"
Jinx chuckled. "Not at all! Right Gizmo?"
Gizmo: "Are you serious? I built this thing myself! It took a lot of work, too."
Em: "Well, all right then." She stepped inside.
Gizmo: "It will tingle like crazy, though."
Em: "Well, how 'bout we get it over with?"
He turned to the controls console on the side of the scanner and pressed a green button. A red laser scanner started at her feet and traveled up her body. Em immediately started laughing hysterically.
Jinx: "What's going on, Gizmo, is something wrong?"
Gizmo: "Everything's fine, she's just ticklish."
Two minutes later, it reached the top of the tube and clicked off.
Em: "(gasp, wheeze) ah, ah, ah, ahhhhh. Wow. What a rush. Although I don't like the taste of iron it gave me. What's the report say?"
Gizmo glared at the readouts. "It says you've got 2 powers. One is weak telekinesis, and the other one shorted out the scanner. I can't tell you what it is."
Gizmo: "The scanner is fried, dimwits. And even if it wasn't, it wouldn't be able to tell us. The heap of junk failed to register what the second power was, then got burned out. We'll need a much stronger scanner, and a bigger power source to fuel it."
Jinx: "Do you know where to find one?"
Gizmo: "Yeah, I'll show you."
He led them into the command center and pulled up a picture.
Gizmo: "The only scanner powerful enough to pull this off belongs to Wayne Industries, and you can't exactly stroll in there and ask to use it."
Em: "Why not? You're superheroes. If you say it's for a good cause, they'll let you in, won't they?"
Jinx snorted: "The only people who get into Wayne Industries are the employees, and they sign confidentiality agreements. No one just drops in and asks to use some of their stuff."
Em: "Oh. That's a bummer. So what do we do?"
See-More: "Aren't they having a charity party there in a few weeks?"
Private Hive: "I think so, why?"
See-More: "How about this? We could donate some money and attend, then sneak into the labs to use the scanner."
While the others started nodding, Em looked horrified.
Em: "Are you suggesting that we BREAK IN?"
Everyone shifted uncomfortably.
See-More: "It'll be for a good cause: finding out your powers, and it's not like we're going to take anything. Plus if we donate some money it will basically nullify the cost of using of the scanner."
Em: "I guess that makes sense. It still seems wrong though."
Gizmo: "You can't be good guy unless you're able to do a slightly bad thing for a good cause."
Em: "Well you are heroes so I guess you'd know. Still…"
Jinx: "Well I guess that's settled then. We're going to the benefit."
Cyborg (over the intercom): "Well, look who's finally woken up. Welcome back, sleepyhead."
ZYX: "Oooooowwwwwwwwwwww. What happened?"
Raven (also over the intercom): "I would be the best one to explain that. Basically, the circles from the first spell we cast that I didn't erase entirely interfered with the one that knocked us out. Exactly what the spell did, we don't know yet."
ZYX: "Why not?"
Raven: "Because you need to be awake when I cast a tracer to figure out what happened."
ZYX: "How long was I out?"
Cyborg: "Not that long, just overnight."
ZYX: "Did anything happen?"
Beast Boy: "Robin's been acting weird, and dude, I mean weirder than normal."
ZYX: "Weird how?"
Raven: "I noticed too. He's been giving you funny looks, and when he heard about the accident, he went ballistic, accusing you of causing it despite my assurances that it was my fault. Then he stalked off to his office and we haven't seen him since."
ZYX: "Huh. Can I get up?"
Cyborg: "Let me check you out first. Just a moment."
A little while later, Cyborg walked in and powered up the scanner chair.
Cyborg: "Hop on in, and let's get you checked out."
ZYX climbed into the chair while Cyborg powered it up. After a few moments, he was sorting through the readings.
Cyborg: "Aside from a nasty bruise when you passed out, I don't see anything. You're good to go. I'll tell Robin you're up and about."
Raven stepped into the room. "Let's get this over with."
ZYX: "All right."
He followed her back to her room, where she told him to sit in the middle of the failed spell.
Raven: "Once I start the incantation, it will run on its own, but take several hours before it can give us an answer. During that time, we can't go more than 2 miles away from the source, but other than that, we should be able to do as we please. When it's finished, it will tell me what happened. Nagglock-coas-sell-ehponten."
All the lines on the floor glowed faintly silver. A moment later, Raven's communicator beeped.
Raven: "What is it, Robin?"
Robin: "Raven, come to the common room. Bring ZYX too."
Raven: "On our way."
ZYX: "Where do you keep your communicator? It's not like you have pockets."
Raven: "You don't want to know."
ZYX: "Well, all right. Maybe now Robin will tell us what's been bugging him."
Raven strode out of her room and headed for the common area with ZYX tailing behind. When they got there, the others were waiting, sitting in the dinette with Robin in the middle. He was holding a manila folder. When he saw ZYX, he glared. That wasn't new. However, Beast Boy and Cyborg gazed at ZYX with a wariness they had only shown when he first appeared. Whatever Robin was mad about, he had told them as well, and they found it disturbing.
Robin: "ZYX, have a seat." He gestured to the folding he had set up directly across from him. ZYX dropped into it, and gave Robin a questioning look. Robin responded by pulling a photo out of the folder and handing it to ZYX.
Robin: "Does this person look familiar to you?" It was a printed out copy of Freezo Hands' criminal profile picture.
ZYX stared at it in disbelief. "Of course I do, that's my sister. But how did you get a photo of her, and WHAT is she wearing?"
Robin didn't respond. He only pulled out another photo and slid it across the table.
ZYX: "And this is my other sister." He stared hard at Robin. "Why are you showing me these?"
In reply, Robin pulled out a third photo. Ground Pounder's photo.
ZYX picked it up and studied it for a long time. "Is this supposed to be me?"
Robin: "That's not supposed to be you, that IS you. You're a spy, sent to infiltrate our team and compromise it! You're not a hero, and never were!"
ZYX: "That's not true! What about the message? Do you think I could fake that?"
Robin: "With enough money, you can fake anything. Now admit it, this," he pointed to the picture, "is you."
ZYX: "No, it's not!"
Robin was so livid by this point that he started to climb over the table to shake the truth out of ZYX, but the alarm went off before he got the chance. Shoving away any anger he had towards ZYX, he rushed over to the computer and started typing.
Robin: "Mumbo is attacking the armored car making a drop at First Jump City Bank! Titans, Go!"
Beast Boy: "Dude, what about HIM?" He shot a withering look at ZYX.
Robin: "Cyborg, activate lockdown in the T-Car. I'm not letting him out of my sight."
Ground Pounder was walking down the street opposite the First Jump City Bank, which was full of restaurants. The local owners had quickly realized that every battle outside the bank drew tons of tourists, and they had reacted accordingly, building a second story balcony where people could watch the fights, and installing shatterproof glass windows and reinforced steel doors. This had paid off immensely: the tables were packed with visitors ever hoping to see the local heroes in action. This helped Ground Pounder as well, because it meant that the dumpsters out back would be full to bursting.
Contrary to popular belief, fishing your meals out of a dumpster is not as gross as you might think. Messed up orders, picky eaters, and anything that's even a day past its expiration date gets pitched, whether or not it's still safe to eat. Also, once the food has been thrown away, it's free game by law. He once found an entire meat lovers pizza behind a Sam's Club that was still warm, and big enough to last for two days. So if you knew where to look, you would never go hungry.
He was in the mood for Chinese, and that shop on the corner looked like just the place. As he tried to inconspicuously mosey over in its general direction, the bank started blazing with alarms. Mumbo burst through the front doors, cackling gleefully. GP (As I will call him from now on) quickly ducked into an alleyway between a deli and an ice-cream parlor, and found a spot behind a few boxes where he could see but not be seen. From there he watched as the shops sprang into action.
All up and down the block, the storefronts were lowering the steel chain barriers that you see in front of stores in the mall after closing, and were firing up heat shields and exterior cameras, for the benefit of the customers inside, who rushed to the counters to order more food for the upcoming battle. And they weren't disappointed, as the T-car came barreling around the corner. Now GP avoided law enforcement of any kind, and he reasoned that the best way to do that in this situation was to wait for them to stop Mumbo and go back to their base, wherever it might be. So he stayed put.
Meanwhile, Mumbo was using his wand to suck money out of the pockets of everyone who was still on the street, much to their dismay.
Robin: "Give it up, Mumbo, your parlor tricks won't work today!"
Mumbo: "That's what you think, Titans! Hocus Pocus!"
Robin: "Titans, GO!"
They sprang into battle. In the restaurants lining the streets, the spectators cheered the Titans on, booing every time Mumbo got a shot in. GP was pretty sure he saw the crowd make "the wave" at one point.
This time around, after Mumbo had buried them in confetti, Starfire had broken loose and managed to snatch his wand and break it, ending the fight early. His hat ballooned and exploded, scattering money everywhere. While most of it landed right next to the Titans, a single stray 100 dollar bill had been scooped up by a gust of wind and deposited right at the entrance to the alley GP was hiding in.
He thought, I don't like stealing, but I could live off that bill for a week. He carefully stepped out of the out of the alley, made sure no one was looking, then stooped down to pick up the bill. A steel toed boot stepped on it before he got the chance.
Robin: "Just what do you think you're doing?"
GP glanced up at Robin. He had never seen the Boy Wonder before, but he thought he seemed familiar. He knew that there was no chance of him just being able to walk away, and he didn't want to use his suit yet, so he stood up and hoped Robin didn't recognize him.
GP: "Just looking to pick this up so it isn't misplaced, Sir."
Unfortunately for him, he looked just like ZYX, and Robin freaked.
Robin: "HOW did you get out of the car!"?
GP: "Wait, do I know you?" Then it hit him. "Oh, yeah, I do. My sister hates you!"
Robin: "I won't repeat myself again! How did you get out of the car?"
GP: "What are you talking about?"
Robin: "I knew you were a traitor!"
He took a swing at GP, who executed a backwards roll into the alley. Damn, no choice but to fight now. He pushed a button on the inside of his right wrist, and his armor came out from under his clothes, covering him in durable yet flexible scale mail, with solid plate on his joints and an astronaut style visor covering his head. A small twin canister power pack, only 10 by 6 inches wide, and 2 inches deep, grew out of his back, and his gun, modeled after an AK-47, twisted together in his arms. Electrical wires deftly snaked up and down his form, connecting the power pack to the rest of his gear without impeding his movement. A power reading came up inside his helmet.
90% capacity. GP grinned. While he had been on his cross country trek over the past few weeks, he hadn't anything better to do than practice, and he had gotten good, really good.
Robin meanwhile, had just leapt into the air, swiping downward with the bo-staff he had just opened. GP deftly caught the weapon with his left hand and squeezed off a single shot from his weapon. The blast sent Robin barreling out of the alley, and slammed him into the bank, where he hit with a sickening crunch. GP smiled in satisfaction and tossed the crumpled metal stick aside.
Robin managed to point a finger at GP, while his teammates looked on in shock.
"Titans. . . go." He slumped to the ground, unconscious, and bleeding profusely from a head laceration. Raven immediately flew to his side to treat his wounds, while the others focused their attention on GP, who had stepped out of the alley and now shone in the morning sun, showing all his green and black glory. He slammed his left fist into his right.
GP: "Bring it!"
The Titans needed no further encouragement.
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the end of chapter 8. The titans have no idea what they're getting themselves into! (mad cackle) And as one last note, where's ZYX? As always, R&R! This time, if you have suggestions for improvements I could make to the first 2 chapters, I'll change them. Right now, they stink.