Author's Notes: This is the second of my one-off Teen Titan fanfics. The first one, The Extreme Sanction, featured only the boys, and put them in a place far outside of their normal comfort zone, where they fared fairly well, I think. In this case, all five Jump City defenders find themselves in the position of being forced to watch while someone else saves the City.
This is a vignette, a slice of a story. I was only really interested in Orville, and how he finds the courage to function in circumstances way outside of who he is. As to how the Teen Titans end up in low earth orbit with Orville Ellis – comic book store clerk, well, I didn't care. But here's the setting:
Orville has been tagging along with the Titans for several days, having been swept up into the adventure with no opportunity to put him back down on earth. Orville is not much to look at. Not quite fat, he's pudgy, with no endurance, not physically fit, and barely has the upper body strength to shift a box of comic books in the store where he works. He's got acne, bad breath, and poor taste in clothes. The only reason he can hold down this job is that he takes half his pay in comic books.
Now in his early twenties, Orville barely got out of college with a general liberal arts degree. His favorite comic book hero is the Green Lantern, and in the three days he's been with the Titans, he and Beast Boy have been giving the Titans a constant geek-out discussing the history, adventures, and current state of the Green Lantern Corps.
But his single biggest problem is that Orville is a coward. He's been one all of his life. It's been his defining feature. He doesn't just have stage fright, or self-doubts. He's got actual pee-his-pants cowardice whenever he encounters adversity. He's not evil. He's not bad. He's just a total chicken-shit.
Orville and the Titans are aboard a small research ship designed by Cyborg, Espy. Espy has been partially disabled, but carries an orbit-to-ground shuttle.
Unheralded, a Gordanian battle cruiser came screaming in out of warp, her commander bent on redeeming Lord Trogar's shame, having been bested by five children. Upon making orbit, the battle cruiser immediately began powering up its primary weapon, with an eye to destroying Jump City.
Working quickly, Starfire and Cyborg were able to determine that the shuttle, if piloted into the plasma sphere as it forms, will prematurely release the energy from the weapon, and destroy the enemy vessel. But there is no working autopilot. Accordingly, the Titans draw lots, with Robin the victor, and having the privilege of driving the shuttle to detonate the reaction. Unknown to the others, while Robin said a tearful good-bye to Starfire, Orville slipped into the shuttle with an agenda of his own.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
I do. - Lamont Cranston
Heart racing, palms sweating, Orville slid into the pilot's seat of the shuttle.
"Why am I here?" he asked himself. "I'm just a guy."
He flipped the primary power switches, bringing the nervous system of the clumsy little vessel to life.
The computer awoke, and began the pre-launch check. "Commence primary ignition."
Far below, Earth's finest struggled to answer the call. From a hidden base called Crystal Palace, somewhere underground a General in Air Force blue spoke with quiet authority. "Scramble all alert aircraft within range of the affected area. Call SAC and have them flush the bombers. Hell, call NORAD and get the ICBM's warmed up. And get me the President." They were brave young men: skilled, dedicated, and valiant. They were also too far away, and no power on Earth could get them into position to do anything in time.
In orbit, Orville belted himself in to the seat at he watched the engine warm up. The intercom crackled to life.
"Orville, what do you think you're doing?"
"Stopping them, someone's got to. I'm the best choice."
Robin's voice cut in, "Orville, that's my job. I won the lottery – get OUT of there."
"Ca - ca - Can't do that, Robin," he said, as he ordered the shuttle to disconnect the fuel and electrical umbilicals. "Y-You matter. I d-don't. If you d-die, how many criminals will go uncaught? H-how many bombs will explode in crowded sports events? How m-many drugs will flood the s-streets? And besides, I saw your farewell to Starfire. Me? When I'm gone, three comic book companies will note a drop of .00001% because I've quit buying comic books."
On the other side of the planet, the Justice League's Watchtower spat out a Javelin fighter with a bat logo clearly emblazoned on the side. With no chain of command to restrict him and no concern for budgets or equipment, and utterly without fear, he was much faster than the American fighter pilots who were closer. But he wasn't going to make it, either. He'd not have enough warning.
"Don't be stupid, Orville. This isn't your responsibility. It's mine."
"Orville, you don't know how to fly the shuttle. Now come out of there."
"Mega Monkeys In Space VIII."
Cyborg sighed. "I designed the console after the one in Mega Monkeys in Space VIII. Anyone who's played the game can operate the shuttle. Not very well, but . . ."
"But I don't have to land in on a carrier, or even complete a single safe orbit. Just a simple arc."
And with that, he turned off the comm system. But he ignored the flight recorder.
And slapped the launch button. The shuttle bucked as the air pressure in the bay suddenly flushing it into orbit. The engines flared, and she began her final voyage.
On the island of Themyscira, a contrail marked the launch of the legendary Invisible plane. It screamed upward at it stop speed, its normal subtlety abandoned in the need for speed. The atmosphere shrieked around Diana's jet as it strained upwards. With no way to get into position before the weapon fired. She wasn't going to make it.
"Orville? Orville? Cyborg, why doesn't he answer?" Robin asked.
"He's killed the audio in the cockpit. We can still monitor him, but he can't hear us."
"Starfire," said Robin, "Can you catch him in time to stop him?"
"Friend Robin, he has left the outer airlock door open. I cannot exit Espy without evacuating the atmosphere."
Back in Crystal Palace, and startled airman shouted to the General, "Sir, I've got an unauthorized launch in Russia! Shall I . . . " his hands darted over to the launch control center.
"Naw, son. Stand down. That's just Red Star getting the word we've got a problem in orbit, and trying to come help." He looked up at the screen. "Ain't no way he's gonna get there in time to do any good."
"Another launch sir, this one from New Zealand.
"That'll be Argent."
"And . . .um, London?"
"Heh. Looks like Lord Bravery has decided to come out of retirement. Patton was right. A single crossbow in the right place is worth all the firepower in the world in the wrong place and facing the wrong way. Those kids are going to have to solve this with whoever is on the spot, right now.
Back in orbit, Robin spoke "Raven . . ."
"He's already out of my range, Robin. I tried. I can't reach him."
"Then we can't do anything but watch."
In Metropolis, a living missile flashed from the ground. Red and blue, it left a contrail of shattered air in its wake as the Man of Steel strained every ounce of his power to reach the Gordanian warship before it could fire. Like everyone else, he'd been caught by surprise. And he was too far away.
Alone aboard the shuttle, Orville's stomach dropped. His hands shook.
"D-daddy, I don't want to do this anymore," he said.
In the vaults of his memory, the little boy sniffed. "It hurts, and they're mean to me."
His father sighed, a little disappointed, but in no way angry. "It's okay, son. Then you don't have to do it." The two of them threw the football pads into the back of the family station wagon and drove off."
The giant emitter array on the bow of the Gordanian warship began to glow a foul yellow as the plasma sphere began to form.
Orville fired the braking thrusters and brought the shuttle to a halt, short of the plasma sphere.
"What's he doing?" asked Robin.
"He's stopping," said Cyborg. "I can believe he's stopping."
Far out in deep space, screaming in a wide curve around Proxima Centauri were three figures, encased in an emerald bubble of pure will, and powered by the strength of imagination. Of all Jump City's would-be rescuers, the three Green Lanterns were the fastest. For imagination and human will are both many, many times faster than the speed of light. But they were just too far away.
"Mama, I want to go home. I don't want to die." Tears ran down Orville's face and his nose began to run.
"It's all right Orville. We'll go home soon," he remembered her saying. And they'd never returned to the school.
But this time was different. It wasn't just about him. His lack of pride. Even his lack of dignity. His parent's disappointment. His girlfriend's disgust. This was a far simpler matter. Life, and death.
"Seven million people die by fire, if I am weak. If I could just think about something else long enough."
The plasma emitter went from yellow to white. He cast his mind about for something, anything to take his mind off of what he was going to do. What he had to do.
"In b-b-b-rightest day, in b-b-blackest n – n – night."
There's a funny thing about fear. It's not really an "emotion." It's a process. It starts with nervousness and works its way through frightened, scared, horrified, and all the way up to stark-screaming-terror. At the end of which, you come out the other side. If you stick with it, and ride it out, in the end all your "scared" fuses blow, and you can act. You're still afraid, but once you come out the other side, it doesn't matter. And now, after all his failures, Orville was about to do something that mattered.
"No evil shall escape m-m-y sight.
His eyes were bloodshot, but his vision was clear. His face was tear-stained, but calm. His hands shook a little, but did not move on the steering yoke. He reached for the throttle.
"Let those who worship evils might . . ."
He spoke in a clear, crisp tenor.
"Beware my power . . ."
He slammed the throttle to 100%, and the shuttle leapt forward like a startled mustang. Her engine snarled defiance as she approached the massive Gordanian warship.
"Green Lantern's Light!"
The shuttle's bow impacted the side of the plasma bubble a moment later and disturbed the delicate balance of forces, causing the entire energy store of the blast to be released at once, rather than channeled into the beam aimed at the city below.
It didn't hurt. Orville had been needlessly worried about that. Pain signals run along the nervous system at about 1.3 miles per hour. The incendiary blast wave was travelling at over a thousand. By the time Orville's brain could have known his toes were on fire, his brain was part of the expanding ball of plasma over the American West Coast.
On the ground, for a few moments, everyone in Jump City cast twin shadows, for two suns burned in the sky above. The second sun faded very quickly as the mass of the Gordanian battleship was consumed in the aftermath of the initial blast.
Three days later, at the home of Mr. And Mrs. Ellis:
"We are very, very sorry for your loss. Your son was very smart, and stayed ahead of us every step of the way. He out-witted us and trapped us on the main ship, and at the cost of his own life, saved Jump City and seven million lives." Robin spoke very somberly.
Cyborg spoke. "I was able to retrieve some dust from the edge of the explosion. There's nothing at all left that could be DNA, but I was able to isolate parts that were organic. I think these are your son's ashes.
Beast Boy put in. "We've got them in two containers. We'd like to keep some . . . um, please?"
"Why?" asked Mr. Ellis, quietly.
"Titans," Robin said, with some feeling, "Are often from . . . unusual backgrounds. Raven, Beast Boy, and I have no family. There's a . . . vault set aside under the Tower for fallen Titans. Orville defended Jump City with his life. We'd like the honor of naming him 'Titan,' and interring him with our own honored dead."
But the story does not quite end there. As Orville would be the first Titan so interred, there was a delay of a couple of days while the Titans came up with a ceremony that would suit the gravity of the event.
There was a knock at the door. Now, this never happens at Titan Tower. The Tower is on an island in the middle of the bay, and has neither bridge nor authorized boat service. So there are not normally unexpected visitors. Beast Boy went to answer the door.
"Hello –oh. Wow. Um, Hey Robin . . ."
"Who is it?" Robin asked, not looking up from his notes.
"It's a, um, a guy with a fish head, a human, and a big pile of rocks with a very bad attitude."
"My name is Hal Jordon. My friends are Tomar-Re and KoIlowog."
Robin rose and offered Jordon a hand. "Your reputation precedes you."
"Thanks, but it preceded us too far. We should have gotten here before the Gordanians. We didn't get word of what they were planning until the last moment, and then we were delayed."
"Thanks for coming. We . . . managed. Sort of."
"I know. The flight recorder telemetry is really making the rounds. Young Orville was a very brave man."
"Yes – he was."
"We've come from the Green Lantern Corps to make a request. We went to the Ellis home to request that Orville be interred on Oa."
"The flight recorder telemetry and his last words. He swore the oath. He did our job. He died in the service. That makes him as good as us. Or better. If you'll permit it, Orville will rest beneath the Central Power Battery on Oa, with our honored dead, undisturbed and guarded by the Guardians of the Universe until the heat death of the universe."
Robin looked over at Beast Boy. "Well? You knew him best."
"Dude, he'd love it. He'd think it was AWESOME."
So Cyborg divided the ashes one more time. And that's how Orville Ellis, comic book store clerk, came to rest at the base of Titan Tower with the simple inscription: Orville Ellis, Titan.
But also at the core of the galaxy, far from the eyes of men beneath the base of the Central Power Battery lies a small drawer. On it, the inscription reads: "Orville Ellis: Green Lantern, Space Sector 2814. Duty executed in a satisfactory manner."
Upon the top of the drawer rests an emerald ring. There it will remain, until shortly after the heat death of the universe.
Back on Earth, Robin looked up from some new research.
"Titans, I may need your help with a personal project."
"S'up, Rob?" asked Cyborg.
"It's occurred to me, that this is the second time a Gordanian battle-cruiser has pointed a humongous particle weapon at my city. Plus, somebody at the Citadel has an unhealthy interest in my girlfriend. I think it's time to punch someone in the nose."