Hey, guys. Sorry for being silent for so long, but I had to deal with the real world, mainly school. Anyway, as you are no doubt aware, this episode is called Brother, is based on TTG! #46, and involves Starfire's brother Wildfire. This episode also lays a lot of the groundwork for Titans Reunited, so it's the only episode (so far) that is really a prequel of sorts.
Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans. Second verse, same as the first. I don't Teen Titans. Third verse, ad nauseum.
The Silencieux Ruisseau Prison (1) was located in the French countryside by a dried up river, isolated by necessity. The prison held some of the worst criminals in the country. But four of the inmates were even worse than the usual calibre of criminals housed there. The Brain, Monsieur Mallah, Madame Rouge and General Immortus, leaders of the Brotherhood of Evil, had been captured by the Doom Patrol when the Brotherhood and its members were freed. Mento had advised the authorities how best to hold the villains, and so far his suggestions had proved to be accurate: despite numerous attempts, none of the leaders of the Brotherhood had managed to escape. Of course, Mento hadn't expected them to receive help from the outside...
The young woman had long black hair that fell loosely down her back. She was wearing contact lenses to disguise her purple eyes, and most people thought her skin was tanned. The prison guard uniform she was wearing had been stolen from a woman who now lay unconscious and had been shoved unceremoniously into a janitor's closet. Among the young woman's stolen accoutrements was the security card used to open the cell doors. She strode through the halls like she owned the place, but her seemingly arrogant attitude was not misplaced; had she been challenged, she would have easily been able to fight her way to her goal, but had decided not to because she enjoyed the challenge. Finally, she reached the door, indistinguishable from all the others, that housed the prisoner she was looking for. She slipped her card through the reader, and the door slid open soundlessly. A black-clad arm shot out of the room and grabbed her by the throat, slamming her into the wall on the opposite side of the corridor. However, she was prepared for a reception like this. The young woman's eyes started to glow a bright shade of purple, and she fired a purple orb of energy from her hand at the hand wrapped around her neck. There was a grunt of pain and the arm retracted as the owner stepped out of her cell.
"You do realize I'm trying to rescue you?" asked the young woman, massaging her throat.
"And what purpose would that serve?" asked the prisoner warily. "You wouldn't free me unless you wanted something from me."
The young woman smirked. "Well guessed, Madame Rouge," replied the young woman. "But this isn't really the time or place to discuss this."
Alarms had started blaring when the young woman had fired the purple blast, and even now guards were charging at them from both sides. Madame Rouge swung her arm at the guards to the left, and her arm stretched out and smashed them aside. The young woman fired a barrage of purple blasts down the corridor on the right, mowing down the guards, before firing two purple beams out of her eyes at the ceiling, disintegrating the contacts that had been part of her disguise.
"And what was that supposed to accomplish?" asked Madame Rouge sarcastically.
"That is our way out," said the stranger as she began to hover in front of her.
Madame Rouge narrowed her eyes. "You are like Starfire," she said.
"Well, that would make sense," replied her rescuer. "After all, I am her sister." The young woman grabbed Madame Rouge's wrists and soared through the hole she had made in the roof.
"And your name is?" asked Madame Rouge as they left the prison far behind.
"You can call me Blackfire," she replied. "And I've got a proposition for you; one that would serve us both..."
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!
Beast Boy groaned as something started beeping. He buried his head into his pillow to drown out the noise, covering his ears. His arm flopped out, smacking the alarm clock beside his bed. After a few unsuccessful tries, he found the cord and unplugged it. As the beeping continued, he realized that wasn't his clock. His eyes snapped open and he stumbled through the perpetual mess that filled his room, digging out his old Doom Patrol communicator. He fumbled with it for a few seconds, almost dropping it before he managed to hit the answer button.
"Beast Boy here, what's wrong?" he asked. He wouldn't be receiving a call like this unless there was trouble...
"Beast Boy, its Mento," replied his adoptive father. "We've got trouble."
Beast Boy barely managed to hold back his sarcastic reply.
"I've just found out that there's been a break-out at the Silencieux Ruisseau Prison in France," continued Mento.
The green-skinned teenager's eyes went wide when he recognized the name. "Isn't that the prison where the Brotherhood leaders are being kept?"
"Yes," said Mento. "We haven't got much information yet, but it looks like someone managed to free Madame Rouge."
Beast Boy swore. "When did this happen?"
"It happened at about 7 A.M. yesterday. That's in France time, by the way."
"Yeah, I figured that," said Beast Boy, trying—and failing—to work out the time conversions.
"There's more," said Mento. "Apparently Madame Rouge had help from outside. I think you can guess what that means."
"Somebody wants to take us out of the picture," said Beast Boy softly.
"That's my read on the situation, as well," replied Mento. "You should let the rest of the Titans know, as well."
Beast Boy nodded. "Are you guys gonna try and track her down?"
"What did you expect us to do?" said Mento.
Beast Boy smiled. "Right." He paused for a few seconds. "Well...be careful, Steve."
"Same to you, Garfield," Mento replied before signing off.
Beast Boy sighed, and slumped against the wall. Madame Rouge was possibly the most violent and most dangerous member of the Brotherhood of Evil. She had the ability to stretch any part of her body at will, and could almost flawlessly imitate anyone. Fortunately, her acting skills weren't perfect, and she couldn't imitate superpowers. Of course, if she took the place of one of the Honoraries like Bushido, all bets were off...
He shook his head and glanced at his clock. The display was dark, and he chuckled at his own stupidity when he realized it was unplugged. He looked out the window, his view wandering over Jump City in the pre-dawn light. Beast Boy didn't see any point in going back to bed, so he decided he might as well get an early start on the day.
Robin groaned as his eyes fluttered open. He lifted his head, and glanced down at the young woman still asleep beside him. Starfire's head was resting against his shoulder, and his left arm was wrapped around her. He looked around, and noticed the TV was still on. He grabbed the remote beside him, and managed to turn off the TV. His task complete, he turned his attention back to his girlfriend. He slowly but surely managed to retrieve his arm without waking her up, then shuffled over a little and gently lowered her head onto the couch. He stood up and winced as his muscles protested this movement after spending so long on the slightly uncomfortable couch.
Note to self, he thought, sleeping on the couch is a bad idea.
Robin wandered over to the kitchen and perused the fridge for anything that he could eat or drink with a minimum of fuss and a maximum in speed. Unfortunately, nothing seemed appealing at the moment, so he abandoned his pursuit. It was still dark, but the sun would be up soon, and he was awake now anyway. As he walked past the couch, and the still sleeping Starfire, he thought she'd probably be more comfortable on her bed. Smiling, he scooped up the young woman, and carried her gently down the hall. He opened the door to her room, and rested her sleeping body on her bed. As a finishing touch, he unbuckled his cape and covered her with it, planting a quick kiss on her forehead as he did so. Robin then made a quick escape; he'd much rather avoid the interrogation he would most likely receive if his friends caught him leaving Starfire's room early in the morning...
Beast Boy flopped onto the empty couch, a can of Coke in hand. He sipped at the drink as he pondered the news he had received. He'd have to let all the other Titans know, but it'd probably be a good idea to let Robin know first.
Footsteps interrupted his thoughts, and he glanced over the couch, and saw none other than the Teen Wonder himself walking in, minus his cape for some reason.
Robin raised his eyebrow when he spotted Beast Boy. "You're up early," he noted.
"Good morning to you too, Robin," said Beast Boy semi-sarcastically.
Robin smirked. "Sorry. Good morning, Beast Boy," the Teen Wonder replied in the same tone.
Beast Boy shrugged. "I just got a call from the Doom Patrol."
Robin was browsing through the kitchen again, and froze for a second. "Oh, really?" asked Robin neutrally, as he pulled out a mug from under the counter and filled it with water. "And what did our friend Mento have to say?"
"Madame Rouge has escaped," said Beast Boy bluntly.
To his credit, Robin didn't drop his mug. He did utter a single, rather rude word.
"Yeah, that was my reaction, too," deadpanned Beast Boy. "So what are we gonna do?"
"Well, first of all, I'm going to have a coffee," said Robin, sticking his mug in the microwave. "Then, we'll have to send a message to the rest of the Titans. 'All Titans, be advised,' or something like that."
Beast Boy nodded, and took another sip of his Coke. "Hot Spot and Wildebeest are going to be pissed," said Beast Boy.
"Can you blame them?" asked Robin.
"Not really," replied Beast Boy. "Jinx isn't going to be too happy, either."
Robin nodded. "Maybe we should send her and Kid Flash to France to help the Doom Patrol."
"I dunno if that's a good idea," said Beast Boy as the microwave began to beep. "Mento isn't going to like it if we barge in on his investigation."
"I'll tell Kid Flash not to get in his way," promised Robin. "Besides, Jinx is the only person I can think of who has consistently beaten Rouge in combat."
Beast Boy opened his mouth to respond, but couldn't find anything to say. He closed his mouth and tried again. "Good point," he said finally. "I guess that Mento won't mind if they can take her down when they manage to find her."
"If they manage to find her," replied the Teen Wonder, sitting down on the couch, his mug now filled with steaming hot coffee. "I have the feeling that if someone wanted to free Rouge, they'd cover their tracks well." He drank a sip of his coffee, and then glanced introspectively at the dark liquid in his mug.
"We might be in serious trouble this time around," said Beast Boy.
"Yeah," said Robin. "Anyway, I'd better tell the other Titans that Madame Rouge is out," he said as he stood up.
Beast Boy sat there, looking pensive.
"Don't worry," said Robin. "We'll catch her."
"Who's worried?" muttered Beast Boy unconvincingly.
Robin had just finished sending his message when Starfire walked into his office, carrying his cape.
"I believe this is yours," she said as she draped it over his shoulders.
He smiled as he clicked the buckle back into place. "Thanks," he said. His smile soon faded, and he went back to fiddling with his communicator.
"Is something wrong?" asked Starfire gently.
Robin sighed. There wasn't any point trying to hide his feelings from Starfire. "Madame Rouge has escaped from prison."
"What took her so long?" asked Starfire.
Robin's raised an eyebrow and grinned. "Are you starting to develop a sarcastic streak, Star?" he asked.
His girlfriend smiled cheekily. "Of course not," she said.
"Could've fooled me," muttered Robin, prompting a giggle from Star, but she quickly became serious again.
"Where would she go?" she asked.
"I honestly don't know," replied Robin. "But she'll probably want revenge on us or the Doom Patrol; some people are funny like that."
Starfire nodded in agreement.
"Anyway," continued Robin, "if we do find her, we'll just get Jinx down here. That ought to solve our problems—"
He was cut off by a massive explosion, one that shook the whole tower. Robin and Starfire glanced at each other before they snapped into action, racing out of his office and down the hallway. Beast Boy joined them as they went past the common room.
"Explosion on the rooftop," he said quickly. "Not sure what hit us, though."
"Only one way to find out," replied the Teen Wonder.
A black portal appeared on the wall beside them, and Raven glided through, joining the others as they ran towards the rooftop. Cyborg soon joined them, sonic cannon at the ready. The five of them burst through the door, and Cyborg took aim at the centre of the still-smoking crater. Robin scanned the skies for any sign of where the attack had come from and who had launched it, but there was nothing. Through the smoke, he caught sight of something—no, someone. As the smoke cleared, he noticed the young man had curly red hair, and he was dressed in clothes that were infuriatingly familiar. The young man raised his head with a groan, and opened his solid green eyes. Finally, Robin recognized the clothes: they were the same style of clothes Starfire had been wearing when she had first arrived on Earth, minus the crown.
Beside him, Starfire gasped. Robin's gaze flicked between Starfire and the young man on the rooftop, and a crazy theory started to form in his head. But it couldn't be true...could it?
Starfire shrieked in joy, and grabbed the stranger in a massive hug. Robin glanced at his teammates. Beast Boy shrugged with a confused expression on his face. Cyborg lowered his arm, but kept his sonic cannon active. Raven was staring at the stranger, her face obscured by her hood.
"Wildfire, it is you!" cried Starfire, as tears started to fall down her face. "I hadn't heard from you in so long. I thought you were dead!"
Wildfire hugged her back, smiling. "Rumours of my death were greatly exaggerated," he replied.
"Oh, X'Hal, I missed you so much," she said. "Oh! You must meet my friends!" Starfire turned to face the Titans, a massive grin on her face. "Friends, I would like to introduce to you my younger brother Wildfire."
Robin's jaw dropped, but he closed it just as quickly. His surprise soon began to change into suspicion as he remembered the last time one of Starfire's relatives had come for a surprise visit...
Cyborg had shut down his sonic cannon, and held out his hand.
"Pleased to meet you, kiddo," he said. "I'm Cyborg."
Wildfire reached out to shake Cyborg's hand. "Hello," said Wildfire.
There was a crunching noise, and Cyborg's hand had been crushed by the young Tamaranean's innate strength.
"Yeah, you two are related, all right," joked Cyborg.
Raven was the next person to introduce herself. "I'm Raven," she said.
Wildfire smiled. "It's nice to meet you," he said.
"Likewise," said Raven, her voice devoid of emotion as per usual.
Wildfire looked over at the next person in line.
"The name's Beast Boy," said the green-skinned teenager.
"And this is my boyfriend, Robin," said Starfire, guiding Wildfire over to Robin.
"Hey," said the Teen Wonder. "We should head inside. We'll be a lot more comfortable in there."
Starfire nodded and practically dragged her brother inside, and the other Titans followed them.
The Titans and their guest were now seated in the common room. Starfire had sat down next to her brother, and the other Titans had sat down on the opposite side of the couch. Raven was seated the furthest away from him, and she reached out mentally, trying to get a grasp of his emotions.
"So, Wildfire," said Robin. "Tell us a little about yourself."
The young Tamaranean nodded. "I am the youngest child of Grand Ruler Myand'r and his wife Luand'r, and I am third in line for the throne."
Anyone could've told us that, thought Raven.
"So how'd you end up here, on Earth?" asked Cyborg.
"Well, it all started about five years ago, when the Gordanians first attacked Tamaran," said Wildfire. "I was eight years old at the time. Starfire, you were twelve, I think.
Starfire nodded. "I remember that day," she said. "The Gordanians had attacked without warning or provocation. They always have. Their intent is to take complete control of the galaxy, and they will wipe out or enslave anyone who resists." Starfire's eyes lost focus as she gazed into the misty past...
A series of explosions rocked the palace, knocking me off balance. I got back to my feet, and staggered over to the window. Outside, I saw starfighters racing past, firing down at the city below. The door opened, and my k'norfka entered.
"Galfore!" I said as I flew over to him. "What's going on?"
"We're under attack," he replied. "I have to make sure you are safe. Where are Komand'r and Ryand'r?"
"I think they're in their rooms," I said. Galfore turned and ran back down the corridor, and I followed him. Galfore almost knocked my sister over as she left her room.
"Komand'r!" he yelled. "Where is your brother?"
"Here!" replied Ryand'r. "What's happening?"
"We're being attacked," said Galfore. "I have to take you three down to the bunker."
"But what about our parents?" asked Komand'r.
"They're already down there," replied Galfore. Another barrage of laserfire struck the palace, and part of the roof caved in. "We have to go, now!"
Galfore shoved the debris out of the way, and we raced past him, heading down to the bunker. I flew down the last flight of stairs, looking over my shoulder to check that Galfore was still behind us. Two Elite Guards were guarding the entrance to the bunker, their staffs at the ready. They let us through the door, and sealed it behind us. I spotted a woman with long black hair, seated on one of the benches that ran across the room.
"Mom!" I yelled, flying over and hugging her. "You're okay!"
"Oh, thank goodness you're all right!" Mom whispered as she hugged me. She kissed me on the cheek, and hugged my brother and sister.
"Where's Dad?" asked Komand'r.
Mom pointed to a separate area of the bunker. The walls were covered with video screens, showing scenes of the war outside.
"He's giving our troops orders," she said. "We can't disturb him unless it's very important."
"But we are important," said Ryand'r. "Aren't we?"
Mom smiled. "Of course you are," she said. "I'll go tell him you three are here, all right?"
"Okay!" I said. Mom walked over and spoke to Dad for a few seconds. He nodded, and glanced at us over his shoulder, with a big smile on his face. I smiled back at him and waved. Dad's grin got bigger for a second, and then he turned back to the screens to direct the battle. (2)
"That battle went on for one and a half hours," finished Starfire. "The Gordanians had not been expecting any resistance, so our initial attack took them by surprise. They fought to the last soldier, no matter how many chances they were offered to surrender."
Raven had noticed that it had been Starfire, not Wildfire, who had explained all this. Her gaze briefly flicked over to Robin. Their eyes met, and she could tell he had noticed as well.
"So the war between the Tamaraneans and Gordanians has been going o for five years?" asked Cyborg.
Wildfire nodded. "There have been periods of relative peace, because the Gordanians are expanding their territory in all directions. They didn't always focus their attacks on us."
"There would usually be a four-to-eight month break between attacks," continued Starfire. "I believe they were trying to wear us down in a war of attrition."
"How successful were they?" asked Robin.
"Remember when we visited Tamaran?" asked Starfire.
The other Titans nodded. "The whole planet had been turned into a desert wasteland," Robin said.
Starfire nodded. "The planet has borne the brunt of the Gordanian assault," she said. "Large areas have been decimated by the attacks. There are very few places that remain untouched, and those areas are the targets for the next assault."
"So, what happened after that first attack?" asked Raven.
Starfire sighed. "There were several attacks over the next three years. It all culminated in a massive strike at the palace. It was during that fight that I was captured."
Blue beams of energy lanced through the air, and one of them struck the soldier beside me. He screamed as the beam charred his arm, and was silenced forever when a second beam hit his throat. I scooped up the rifle he dropped and aimed it at the advancing Gordanians, firing wildly. I couldn't tell if I hit anything or not. I pulled the trigger again, but the rifle refused to fire. I tossed the useless weapon away, and started blasting the Gordanians with my starbolts.
"Princess Koriand'r!" yelled one of the soldiers—I identified him as Major General Ryys'ik.
"We have to retreat!" Ryys'ik continued. He was using his hand to cover his injured right eye, but it did little to stop the flow of blood. He was blasting away at Gordanians with the pistol in his left hand. "We can't hold out much longer!"
I looked around wildly, trying to find my brother. "Not without Ryand'r!" I replied.
"If he's not here, then he's either been captured or he's dead!" yelled Ryys'ik. "Either way, you can't help him if you get yourself killed!"
The Major General's comment cut me deep. He was right, too, which made it even worse.
I nodded. "Fall back! Fall back!" I screamed.
The Tamaranean soldiers started to move backwards. They kept up a constant volley of fire, and I fired starbolts at the advancing horde. Another soldier went down, and I swore under my breath. There were only ten of us left, out of a company that once numbered a hundred. A crazy idea formed in my head, and I fired a starbolt at the ceiling. Ryys'ik worked out what I was trying to do, and he fired at the ceiling, emptying the charge in his pistol's power-cell. With a horrendous crashing noise, the ceiling came down, burying any Gordanians under it, and keeping the rest trapped.
"That should buy us some time," I said, almost collapsing from exhaustion.
Ryys'ik wiped his blood-covered hand on his uniform, and then reloaded his pistol as the surviving medic applied a bandage to his injured eye.
"Trattok'o," said the Major General. "Make contact with the Supreme Commander and Emperor Myand'r. Ask them if they have any new orders."
The Tamaranean soldier in question nodded, and took out his communicator. He spoke with someone for a few minutes, and when he finished, he had a haunted look on his face.
"What's wrong?" I asked, fearing the answer.
"A missile barrage struck the command centre," said Trattok'o. "The Grand Ruler, his wife and the Supreme Commander were inside. There were no survivors."
I shook my head, not believing what I had just heard. "No," I whispered. "That can't be true. Tell them to check again. Mom and Dad...they're not...they can't be..."
"I'm so sorry, Your Highness," whispered Ryys'ik. "I really am."
"No," I said, tears streaming down my face. "No, no, no, NO!" I shrieked in rage and slammed my fist into the wall. I slid down to my hands and knees, sobbing. My parents couldn't be dead...they couldn't be...no...
"We have to meet up with any other survivors," said Ryys'ik. "No time to waste. Move!"
"Yes, sir!" The soldiers filed off, leaving me alone with Ryys'ik. He knelt down beside me and rested his unbloodied hand on my shoulder.
"I know this is hard for you, Koriand'r," he said quietly. "But this isn't the time for grief. The only time a soldier can cry is when it's all over."
His words managed to penetrate the fog that had filled my head, and I stood up uncertainly. "Thank you," I whispered, my voice cracking.
The Major General nodded. "Now, we must leave, before Gordanian reinforcements—"
The pile of rubble behind us exploded, tossing us down the corridor. Ryys'ik hit the ground hard, and I couldn't tell if he was unconscious or dead. I staggered upright, and my grief turned into anger. I fired a massive barrage of starbolts at the Gordanian horde, roasting their blue scaly flesh. One of them lashed out with his energy staff. The blow struck my chin, knocking me down. They surrounded me, smashing me back into the ground every time I tried to stand up. I sagged in defeat, and was dimly aware of one of them contacting his superiors. As the world started to fade out, I hoped my brother and sister were still alive... (3)
"When I woke up, I was aboard a Gordanian vessel, en route to the Citadel," said Starfire. "I managed to escape from that vessel, and I made my way to Earth."
"Which is when you met us," said Robin. "God, I can't believe it's been almost two years since we met."
The other Titans nodded. They hadn't really been paying much attention to how much time had passed since they first met, usually because they were too busy battling the villain of the week or saving the world again.
"So what happened to you, Wildfire?" asked Beast Boy.
Wildfire shrugged. "I was knocked out fairly early on during that attack, so I can't tell you much about it. When I came to, I was a prisoner on a Gordanian Assault Frigate, en route to the Citadel. I was their prisoner for a long time. I managed to escape in the confusion of a battle between the Gordanians and another group, the Appoplexians." (4)
"And that's when you made your way towards Earth?" asked Robin, slightly sceptical.
"Well, I had heard rumours during my travels that a Tamaranean had been seen on Earth, so I decided to investigate," said Wildfire. "I only crashed here because I was tired, and needed a place to rest."
Robin found this explanation a little difficult to swallow. The chance of something like that happening was a billion to one. That statement, of course, did suggest there was, in fact, a chance. A very small chance, but a chance nonetheless.
"Well, I am glad you are here, little brother," said Starfire.
"And I'm glad I found you," he replied.
Starfire smiled. "Come on, I will show you around the Tower," she said enthusiastically. She grabbed her brother's arm and escorted him down the hall, chatting as they went. Once their voices had faded, Robin turned to the other Titans.
"He's hiding something," Beast Boy, Raven and Cyborg said in unison.
Robin blinked. "Okay...Cyborg, you first."
"His heartbeat was way faster than it shoulda been," said Cyborg. "He was obviously nervous, but the readings I was getting...well, he shouldn't have been that nervous."
"It felt like he was trying to suppress some of his emotions," said Raven. "I'd pass it off as bad memories, but this was too strong for that sort of thing."
Beast Boy nodded. "And he smelled off. His scent was definitely Tamaranean, but it was...weird."
Robin sighed. "I guess that means we need to keep an eye on him. Beast Boy?"
"I know, I know," replied the green-skinned teenager, morphing into a fly and heading down the hall after Starfire and her brother.
"By the way," said Robin, turning back to Raven and Cyborg. "I have bad news. Madame Rouge has escaped."
Cyborg groaned. "Aw, man. Just when I thought we might get a bit of a break..."
"I have a bad feeling about this," muttered Raven.
It was midday when Beast Boy entered Robin's office. He found the Teen Wonder watching something on his computer screen. He looked up as Beast Boy entered.
"What's up?" asked Robin.
"When Starfire introduced Wildfire to Silkie, Silkie tried to bite him," said Beast Boy.
Robin nodded, not sure how the grub's reaction was important. "And...?"
"Well, first of all, Silkie never bites anyone," Beast Boy replied. "And secondly, she started to talk about some pet he had when he was younger, then clammed up all of a sudden and said she was said they didn't get along straight away."
Robin mulled over this new information. It wasn't really solid evidence, but it fit the pattern that had emerged earlier. Something was definitely not quite right about Wildfire.
"You sure about this?" asked Robin.
"Not really," said Beast Boy. "Flies aren't really the best animal for spying." He glanced over at the monitor. "Whatcha watching?"
"Security camera tapes from Silencieux Ruisseau Prison," said Robin. "Kid Flash sent it to me a few minutes ago."
Beast Boy moved to where he could get a clear view. "Found anything yet?"
Robin shook his head. "I've only just started looking," he replied.
"How long is the video?" asked Beast Boy.
"About fifteen minutes," said Robin. He clicked play, and the video continued. After a few minutes, a woman with long black hair entered the frame. She pulled out a card and swiped it through a reader adjacent to one of the cell doors, opening the door. An arm—obviously belonging to Madame Rouge—reached out to throttle the woman. Purple energy formed around the woman's hands, and she blasted Rouge's arm.
"That type of energy," muttered Robin. "I've seen it before..."
Rouge and the woman were talking, and then the alarms started to go off. Madame Rouge swept her arm down one side of the hallway, while the woman fired a barrage of purple blasts down the other side. She then looked up at the ceiling, and two purple beams lanced out of her eyes to blast a hole in the ceiling.
Robin finally recognised the mystery woman. "Blackfire," he growled. As Blackfire carried Madame Rouge off screen, Robin started to piece together the puzzle.
Blackfire wants to get rid of her sister, and Madame Rouge will want revenge on us, he thought. So if Blackfire rescued Rouge, then Rouge could get all sorts of information about...
"Wildfire," Robin said, finishing his thought.
Robin and Beast Boy looked at each other as understanding dawned, and that understanding brought fear and anger with it.
"Oh, shit," Beast Boy whispered. (5)
Madame Rouge's smiled. The smile was genuine, and not just a part of her masquerade as Wildfire. Those children were so easy to fool...
"And here is where you will be staying," said Starfire, showing Rouge into one of the guest rooms. Madame Rouge looked around, keeping her disinterest off of her face. Slowly, she reached down and activated the device Blackfire had given her, sending a signal to her accomplice.
"Thank you," she said. "But there is something I have to tell you."
Starfire looked slightly confused. "And what is that?" she asked.
An evil grin spread across Madame Rouge's features. "I am not Wildfire," she said, switching back to her real voice.
Starfire gasped in surprise, and Madame Rouge took the opportunity to strike, smashing her fist into Starfire's temple. The Tamaranean woman grunted as the blow spun her around. She turned back to fire a starbolt at Madame Rouge, but the shapeshifter dodged the attack, changing back into her normal form. She stretched her arm out, grabbed Starfire and slammed her repeatedly into the wall. Alarms started to blare as Rouge dropped Starfire, and the young woman slumped to the ground, eyes closed. There was a roar as Beast Boy leapt out to attack her in wolf form, but she grabbed him and threw him at Robin, knocking them both down. Rouge picked up Starfire and ran down the corridor.
Blue sonic blasts lanced down the corridor as Cyborg fired at her. She dodged, and threw a punch at him, knocking him sideways. Cyborg recovered quickly, and fired a missile from his shoulder. The missile missed Rouge, and blew open the door to the roof. Madame Rouge sprinted outside, to where Blackfire was waiting. Blackfire fired a barrage of starbolts down the hall after Madame Rouge passed, slowing down the other Titans. Suddenly, Starfire's eyes snapped open, and with a shriek, she fired a pair of eyebeams at Madame Rouge, striking her face. Starfire managed to slip out of Rouge's grasp, and fired a volley of starbolts at Blackfire. Blackfire countered with a volley of her own. There was an explosion behind her, and she whirled around as the other Titans burst out onto the roof. Robin whipped out his bo staff and stepped into an attack stance. Raven used her powers to bring her hood up while Cyborg levelled his sonic cannon at her. Behind them, Beast Boy crouched and morphed into a tiger, ready to pounce.
"You didn't do a good job of hiding your tracks, Madame Rouge," said Robin tauntingly. His expression hardened as he spun his staff.
Cyborg fired his cannon at Rouge, and she dodged the sonic blast, right into the path of Beast Boy, who had morphed into a rhinoceros and charged Rouge. He struck Rouge hard, sending her flying. Raven opened up a portal behind her, and she fell through, landing on the streets of Jump City. Robin leapt through after her, bringing his staff down on Rouge's head. She rolled out of the way and lashed out, tripping him. Cyborg fired a barrage of sonic blasts at her, and she ran, avoiding the blue blasts. Raven moved to follow, but Beast Boy stopped her.
"Wait," he said.
"What?" she hissed. "Are you crazy? Cyborg and Robin can't fight her alone!"
"Listen," said Beast Boy. "If we wait while Robin and Cyborg fight, when they get tired, we can jump in and take their place—"
"So we can keep Rouge on the back foot," finished Raven.
"Exactly," said Beast Boy, nodding. "If we keep the pressure up, she'll get tired, and we'll be able to take her down."
"Got it," said Raven. "I'll cover for Cyborg, you go for Robin."
"Okay," said Beast Boy. He morphed into an eagle and started to circle the fight. Raven levitated herself alongside him, ready to drop down and continue the fight.
Cyborg had transformed both arms into sonic cannons now, and was firing an almost constant stream of blue sonic blasts at Madame Rouge. Robin was hanging back, throwing his explosive discs at her. She dodged a sonic blast, and grabbed an explosive disc and hurled it at Cyborg. It struck his chest, denting the plate and knocking him backwards. Raven dropped down and used her powers to hurl a nearby car at Rouge. Rouge stretched her arms and grabbed a streetlight, pulling herself out of the way. Beast Boy soared down and slashed at Madame Rouge's arms with his claws. She gasped in pain and let go instinctively, dropping down to the ground. Beast Boy morphed into an elephant and dropped down on her. She barely made it out of the way, and as she retreated, Beast Boy morphed into a cheetah and raced after her. He pounced, and Rouge rolled to the side, and was hit by a blast of black energy from Raven. She launched her arm at Raven, punching her in the chest. Raven fell out of the air as Beast Boy charged her as a triceratops. She leapt to the side, and Beast Boy slammed into the side of a building, stunning himself.
Cyborg and Robin watched all this from down the street. As Madame Rouge struck Raven out of the sky, Cyborg turned to Robin.
"I still got the sonic if you still got the boom," he said with a grin, raising his sonic cannon.
Robin nodded, pulling out his strongest explosive disc. "Let's do it," he growled.
The two teens charged down the street towards Rouge. As Beast Boy struck the wall, she turned to face the two Titans racing towards her.
"Sonic—BOOM!" they yelled. Robin jumped and tossed his explosive disc, and Cyborg fired his sonic cannon at the disc, propelling it at the speed of sound into Madame Rouge. She screamed in pain as the disc struck her and detonated, knocking her backwards. (6) Slowly, she got to her feet, swaying as the Titans approached. Robin walked up to her, bo staff raised.
"Lights out, bitch," (7) he said coldly, before smashing her across the head, knocking her unconscious. Once she collapsed, Robin sighed and sheathed his staff.
"Beast Boy, call the Doom Patrol," he said tiredly. "We got her."
Beast Boy nodded, and pulled his old Doom Patrol communicator out.
"Where's Starfire?" asked Raven.
Robin looked up. The other Titans followed his gaze, to where green and purple lights flashed across the sky...
Starfire screamed in anger as she fired another starbolt at her sister. Blackfire dodged with ease and fired a starbolt of her own at Starfire. Starfire flew under the purple blast, and punched Blackfire in the face. Blackfire was knocked back, and shook her head to clear the ringing. She launched herself at Starfire, swinging her body around in a powerful kick. Starfire blocked the kick with her arm, and punched at her sister. Blackfire grabbed her sister's arm and swung her around, trying to throw her away to get some distance between them, but Starfire held onto her arm and spun herself around, launching a powerful kick. The blow struck Blackfire in the chest, and she fell backwards, losing altitude for a few seconds as she lost concentration. Starfire launched a volley at Blackfire, and Blackfire dropped down close to the ocean, dodging the green blasts. Her sister's starbolts struck the water around her, superheating it and sending up clouds of steam. Blackfire fired her eyebeams at the ocean below, trying to lose herself in a massive steam cloud. She hid in the steam, losing sight of her sister, panting. She heard Starfire launching starbolts above her, and looked up as the starbolt shot down at her, hitting her in the face. Blackfire grunted, and was knocked into the ocean. She surfaced, gasping for breath as Starfire descended on her. Blackfire fired her eyebeams, and hit Starfire, propelling her backwards. She kicked her legs and fired a starbolt down, using the force of the blast to propel her upwards so she could take flight. The gambit worked, and she took to the skies, barrelling down on her sister. Blackfire formed an orb of starbolt energy around her fist, and punched Starfire in the gut. The strength of the blow sent Starfire tumbling through the air. She righted herself as Blackfire started flying towards her, firing a volley of purple starbolts at her. Starfire countered with a volley of her own, blasting each of her sister's blasts. She soared upwards, with Blackfire in hot pursuit. Starfire twisted around the blasts, and dropped suddenly, firing her eyebeams at Blackfire. Blackfire dodged, and raced towards Jump City, firing a starbolt at her. Starfire dodged as her sister dropped down, flying through the streets of Jump City. Starfire followed her, firing her eyebeams. Blackfire avoided the attack, and the eyebeams gouged a huge chunk out of the road. Blackfire shot off to the right and Starfire followed. Blackfire landed and spun around to face her sister. Starfire landed and fired her eyebeams at her sister. Blackfire responded by firing her eyebeams as well, and the two blasts met in mid-air. Both women were firing their eyebeams, neither relenting. Starfire started to force her way closer to her sister, struggling against the concussive force of the eyebeams. Blackfire also managed to take a few steps forwards. The two sisters slowly closed the gap between each other. Once she was in range, Starfire grabbed Blackfire's hands, preventing her sister from firing starbolts. They struggled against each other, their faces as close as possible. The skin on Starfire's face started to blister from the intense heat, and she was dimly aware that the same was happening to her sister. Eventually, the force was too much, and the two women were knocked apart by a massive explosion. Starfire rolled down the street, coming to a stop when she slammed into a building. She got to her feet, and spotted her sister doing the same thing over three hundred metres away. Starfire shot into the air, her sister racing up to meet her. Starfire held her hands close and raised her arms above, forming a single, massive starbolt, several metres in diameter. Blackfire got closer and closer, firing starbolts at Starfire to disrupt her concentration. She ignored the pain, focused completely on making the starbolt, and when she was about fifteen metres away, Starfire launched it at Blackfire. There was a huge explosion, and Blackfire was hurled downwards, striking the street hard enough to leave a crater. As Blackfire struggled to rise, Starfire landed on the ground in front of her, an expression of intense fury and rage on her face. A starbolt formed around her hand, and she raised her arm to finish this battle, once and for all—
Robin grabbed her arm and yanked it out of the way, and Starfire fired the starbolt instinctively. He spun her around and held her arm behind her back, preventing her from using it. He grabbed her other arm and held it above her head, restraining her.
"What are you doing, Richard?" she hissed in anger.
"I'm not going to let you kill your sister," he said, tightening his grip on her arm.
"She's not my sister," she replied, her voice cracking. "Not anymore."
"That doesn't matter," he continued after a short pause. "Killing her won't bring back your brother."
Starfire gasped, and the green glow faded from her eyes. Robin felt her sag, and he let her go. She turned to face him, and tears started to spill from her brilliant green eyes.
"I'm sorry, Kori," he whispered. "I really am."
She sobbed and flung her arms around him, grabbing him in a tight hug, sobbing on his shoulder.
"Its okay, Kori," he whispered into her ear, his breath tickling her cheek. "I'm here for you."
Behind them, Blackfire had gotten to her feet. She had seen Robin subduing Starfire, and she'd heard what Starfire had said. She knew exactly what her younger sister meant: Starfire had officially disowned her. By Tamaranean law and custom, she and Starfire were no longer related. (8) She launched herself at Starfire and Robin with a yell, but was knocked aside by a sonic blast. She turned to face Cyborg, but Beast Boy morphed a bear and ran towards her, smashing her aside with his paw. She tried to find Beast Boy and Cyborg, but the only person she spotted was Raven. Raven raised her hand, and a wave of black energy spread from Raven's outspread palm, hitting Blackfire in the chest, knocking the Tamaranean woman to the ground. She stood up, and saw Robin approaching her. Blackfire took off, flying towards the Teen Wonder. Robin sidestepped and whipped out his bo staff, hitting her across the face with it. The staff shattered upon impact, and Blackfire lost her concentration and dropped to the ground, skidding to a stop on her stomach. She rolled over and tried to get up, but Robin placed a booted foot on her shoulder and forced her back down. He reached into his belt and pulled out a bird-a-rang, and slashed her across the cheek with the sharp edge. Bright red blood trickled down her face as he stepped back and pulled out a second bird-a-rang, and slammed the two together to form a sharp, straight-edged sword. He pointed the sword at her, his face set in an expression of tranquil fury.
"Run," said Robin, his voice icy calm, betraying none of the anger burning inside. "Now."
Blackfire scrambled away from the Teen Wonder, running backwards for a few metres, before she turned and took off.
Robin sighed and sheathed his sword, returning the two bird-a-rangs to his belt. He walked back to Starfire and took her hand.
"Let's go home," he whispered.
Blackfire soared through space, wiping away her now frozen tears, and no one, not even Blackfire herself, knew if those tears were of fear or remorse. As she reached the outer edge of Earth's gravitational field, she spotted a spaceship, and flew into the open airlock. She waited as the door behind her closed and the room re-pressurized. The door in front of her hissed open and she was met by two Gordanian guards. She walked in front of them, their staffs prodding her in the back if she walked too slowly. They escorted her to the bridge, and kept her there as the ship accelerated past the speed of light. The starship maintained its faster-than-light speed for five minutes, before the white tunnel dissolved into streaks, and finally pinpoints of light as the ship slowed down. Visible in front of them was a massive space station—the Gordanian Citadel. As the frigate approached the Citadel, Blackfire spotted signs of construction at the base of the Citadel. Whatever it was, it would not bode well for her people. The frigate entered the Citadel's hangar, a hangar full of Gordanian starfighters, with a few larger ships interspersed throughout. Once the frigate had landed, Blackfire was escorted off the ship, and she and her guards were brought to the throne room. The back wall of the throne room was made of transparent steel, offering an unrivalled view of the emptiness of the space around them. The centre of the room was dominated by a holographic map of the galaxy, marked in green for Gordanian territory, yellow for "allies", and red for the territory of their various enemies. Behind the hologram, one of the largest Gordanians Blackfire had ever seen was seated in an ornate throne. He pressed a button on the arm of the throne, and the holographic map dissolved.
Blackfire knelt before the throne as the Grand Vizier of the Gordanians spoke.
"Komand'r of Tamaran," he said. "You have failed yet again."
Blackfire grit her teeth. "Please, sir, just give me one more chance—"
"No," said the Grand Vizier. "This is your fourth failure to bring us Koriand'r. Your first attempt was when you gave us details about the palace defences, allowing us access to them and allowing us to capture your sister and brother, and kill your parents."
A tear started to form in Blackfire's eye at the casual mention of her parent's death, but she wisely decided to stay silent.
"Of course, Koriand'r escaped, resulting in the destruction of one our frigates, and in Trogaar's demotion," continued the Grand Vizier. "Your second attempt was when you stole the Emerald of the Centauri and tried to frame your sister; needless to say, that plan failed.
"Your third scheme involved marrying her off to our ally Glgrdsklechhh from the Swamp Moons of Drenthax IV; a plan which, I must say, backfired spectacularly, even by your standards.
"And now, you try to use a shapeshifter to impersonate your younger brother so she will drop her guard so you can capture you; your plan has, of course, failed."
Blackfire swallowed. "But, sir—"
"Enough, troq," said the Grand Vizier, and Blackfire winced at the insult. "You will have no more chances." He nodded at the guards behind her, and one of them struck her over the head with his staff, stunning her. The other shackled her arms behind her back in cuffs that covered her whole forearm, and sealed her hands to prevent her from firing starbolts. She stood up, eyes blazing purple, and tried to fire an eyebeam. The guards slipped a transparent steel band around her eyes, stopping her from using her eyebeams.
"Before you go, there is something you should know," said the Grand Vizier. "You betrayed your family in exchange for our cease-fire, to protect the Tamaranean people. I would never have kept that peace forever." (9)
Blackfire screamed in anger and tried to rush him, but the guards knocked her down.
"Take her away," said the Grand Vizier contemptuously. "And order the next attack on Tamaran; I want Galfore dead as soon as possible."
The guards bowed, and they each grabbed one of Blackfire's arms and dragged her down to the prison level. Once in the prison, they opened a cell door and tossed her inside. She hit the ground, and the breath was forced out of her lungs. She had just managed to make it to her feet when someone slammed her against the wall. She looked at her attacker, registering the paleness of his skin, the knotted mess of his curly red hair, his youthful face, and his glowing white eyes.
"Where. Is. My. Sister?" he growled angrily.
Blackfire gasped when she finally recognized him. "Ryand'r?"
1. For those of you who are curious, "Silencieux Ruisseau" is French for "Silent Creek."
2. Starfire is speaking so fluently in the flashback because she's talking in Tamaranean.
3. You may have recognized the names Trattok'o and Ryys'ik from Titans Reunited. This is their first appearance chronologically, and Ryys'ik is kind of important in the ending of Titans Reunited. Not so much for Trattok'o.
4. I borrowed the Appoplexians from the Ben 10 series. It's a big galaxy, there's plenty of room in it for the DC aliens and the Ben 10 aliens.
5. I don't like swearing in my stories, which is usually why I filter it out in the narrative, e.g. "Robin swore loudly". I only really swear when I want to really bring the point home, which is how "shit" worked its way in here.
6. The Sonic-Boom finishing move was a cool move from Divide and Conquer (screwing it up is what kicked off the whole plot of that episode, after all) but it was never used again for the entirety of the series...until now.
7. Again, I apologize for swearing, but it get's the point home.
8. Yes, Starfire has officially disowned Blackfire. That's how angry/upset she is.
9. I don't see Blackfire as completely evil. I see her as someone who believes that the ends justify the means, the end being the safety of her people, the means being betraying her family. Basically, she's a sort of well-intentioned extremist.
Just for the record, I did not enjoy putting Starfire through all of that. Yes, it was deemed necessary by the Plot Gods, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And yeah, the ending was my first attempt at a real cliff-hanger, although it's not very effective if you've read Titans Reunited.
Anyway, Episode 9 is titled Metamorphosis, and is based on Teen Titans Go! #51. The history of Terra, her brother Geo-Force, and the mysteries raised by her school-girl doppelganger—all shall be revealed next time, so stay tuned!