AN: An apology in advance for the lack of a beta reader. Expect mistakes.
To all those who reviewed, thanks as always, it really is appreciated and you should have all gotten a reply! If not, and you want one, send me an abusive PM and bug me until I get back to you.
The two girls were the first in the common room that morning, sat cradling mugs of tea as Jinx did her best to describe her two teammates to the empath.
"Gizmo's as obnoxious to you guys during fights as he his to me and Mammoth, so don't worry about it. Doubt he'll be smiling at you any time soon, but once you get past the layers of rudeness and self-confidant issues, not to mention his serious case of Napoleon Syndrome, his heart's in the right place."
Raven arched her brow. "I seriously doubt that."
"He's loyal to a fault – what more can you ask from a guy?" Jinx shrugged nonchalantly. "Now, Mammoth you really won't have a problem with – might even end up as friends. He looks big and scary but he's all heart, and not as stupid as he looks. Just don't expect his logic to match yours. He's a little outside the box. But lovely. He really is like a brother to me."
"Gizmo obnoxious, Mammoth not so much," Raven nodded, before asking, "How do you think they're going to react when you tell them you're no longer dating me as an attempt to ruin the Titans?"
"I know exactly what Gizmo will do. Cuss and shout and kick off. Mammoth… it's hard to tell, but I don't think he'll as many questions. See Gizmo is here for the money and not much else; Mammoth's more bothered about friendships and a loyalty so long as there's food in the fridge. He owed me for a time back at H.I.V.E Academy and kinda makes it more of a deal than it was. He could be fine with it and accept it without comment or he could take it in the complete opposite way and get protective in that 'older brother' kinda way," she shrugged, and Raven nodded again. "What about the Titans? I know you've said they're not going to be happy but…"
"Robin is going to have the biggest problem with it. After an incident involving Slade a couple of years ago he's fond of drilling rules into us. We don't bargain with the enemy, we don't converse with them, and they're not our friends. He likes to pretend everything's black and white, even when he knows better."
The hex caster frowned. "That doesn't have anything to do with the creation of Red X, does it?"
"Why?" Raven asked, her caution clear on her face, and Jinx grinned.
"Jason told me he stole the costume from the Tower. I called bullshit, but apparently I was wrong."
The empath scowled slightly before deciding to continue with the Titans' predicted reactions. "The rest of the team aren't so easy to predict. Under any other circumstances Starfire would be ready to welcome you to the group with open arms. But you're a bad guy. Starfire is… weird. Her ways are her own. Sometimes she'll be the first to forgive someone and will encourage us all to do the same and other times she's been known to hold a grudge for months. Tamaraneans are raised to follow their heart above their head. It makes them difficult to understand."
"You know, there are a lot of humans who live like that too," Jinx grinned, before declaring, "Cy won't have a problem with me."
"What makes you so sure?"
"H.I.V.E Academy. Did you know he asked me out on a date? Pretty sure I mentioned it before…"
"You have, and like I told you before that was sort of different. From what I've heard, it sounds like he'll have a bone to pick with you regardless. Unlike Mammoth, he's already decided to play up to the mantle of 'older brother'. I don't think he'll be hostile about the… situation, but he wont be happy either. As for Beast Boy… Azar knows what that man is thinking at the best of times. He is a paradox in his own right. But he is also very easy going. Once he's gotten over the shock and used up his storage of jokes I don't think he'll really care. Not in a nasty way, just in a… Beast Boy way."
"So Robin will try and arrest me, Starfire might and the other two should be okay? Great." Jinx muttered sarcastically.
"Did you expect otherwise?" Raven asked, and she shook her head, grinning.
"Not really, no."
The sound of Raven's T-Communicator filled the kitchen and the empath unhooked it from her belt as the thief frowned.
"I know –I'm staying silent."
"No need," Raven shook her head slightly as she flipped it open. "It's an alert, not a call."
"Ow," Jinx pouted.
"I have to go back eventually," Raven replied distractedly as she read the on-screen map.
"So you're not gonna be there when I talk to the boys?"
"Do you want me there?" She asked as she closed her communicator, and Jinx shrugged.
"Don't make much difference to me."
"Then I have a criminal to apprehend," The Titan declared as she got to her feet.
"Anyone I know?" Jinx asked as she followed Raven.
"I wont know until I get there. Unlike the command centre at Titans Tower, my communicator doesn't give me that much detail."
"Hmm." Jinx took those las few steps over to Raven, intruding on her personal space. "You do realise you'll be jumping straight into a fight smelling of me? The grass stain might pick up on it."
"I'll just have to risk that. The alert came from a high security facility. Robin will kill me if I'm not there before he is – unlike the rest of my team I have no excuse for not being there within seconds. I can't exactly blame my lateness on a traffic jam."
"You don't have to go." Jinx offered as she slid her hands around Raven's waist. "You could stay here. I'm sure we could find a place for you on the team."
"You know what my answer to that is," Raven replied with a small smile.
"I have to try," Jinx shrugged, grinning as she leaned forward and kissed her. "Have fun."
"I doubt it."
"I'll contact you in a day or two's time. Got some stuff to do with the boys and they'll only get touchy if they know I've been speaking to you at the same time."
Raven nodded and stepped back before shadows rose to claim her and she disappeared.
The coordinates on the communicator led Raven to the street outside a vast multi-complex. To the average passerby it looked like every other office block in the area – if not a little more up market – but to those in the know it housed everything from Star Labs weapon prototypes and robots to laboratories researching cures for all types of diseases as well as more offending chemicals that looked at artificially replicating meta-genes in your average homo-sapiens. Not that they'd got it to work without nasty side effects. High security and high clearance, Raven had only ever been inside once.
Opening up her communicator she called her leader. "Raven calling Robin."
There was a moment of static on the circular upper screen before Robin's image appeared. "Raven?"
"Don't sound too shocked. I'm at the coordinates. Should I wait for you to arrive?" He was in the T-Car, going from what she could see behind Robin. It shouldn't have taken them too long to arrive.
"Can't risk it. There's too much housed up in the complex, and depending on what level they're on… Go inside and talk to security for details – there should be someone waiting in the lobby – then do some recon. Try not to engage in a fight unless absolutely necessary," Robin instructed and Raven nodded. "We're a few minutes away at most."
Robin hung up and Raven put the device back onto it's place on her belt before walking up to the doors. A key card was needed to activate the locks on the door, and trusting Robin's judgement regarding someone being posted downstairs she tried knocking, and when no-one responded she phased through the mirrored glass and into the lobby.
The place was as dead, not another person in sight Red warning lights orbited in their fittings, plunging the room into darkness for a second at a time. A second too long. She was moving towards the receptionists' desk when she noticed the Security Guard tied up on the floor. Raven rushed over and knelt beside him, quickly discovering the unfortunate man was unconscious. She studied the red binding wrapped around his torso and arms with a frown, instantly able to narrow down the burglar to one person.
Raven carefully freed the man before resting her hand on his scalp and feeling him for damage, a soft blue light radiating from her hand. He woke up as she pulled away, a foggy expression on his face.
"Careful. You took a nasty hit to the head," Raven moved back as he made to sit up.
"What…? The alert! The intruder!"
"That's what I'm here about," She told him. "Do you know what level he was on?"
The man frowned and rubbed the side of his head before answering. "Basement. Level B10."
"This place goes that far down?" Raven asked, astonished.
"B10," he repeated, before passing Raven a key card he unhooked from the belt loop on his trousers. "You'll need this to get in. The code is 51962."
"B10. Right, you stay here. The rest of the Titans should get here soon," She told him before standing up. "They'll be able to call you an ambulance. I did heal you but you should still see a professional."
Raven didn't pause to call her team leader; she knew they'd be able to figure it out on her own, and when it came to Red X or any teleporter time was everything. She didn't bother with the elevator, creating a portal beneath her feet instead, descending through the floor, and the one below that, and the one below that until she was greeted by the sight of a large 'B10' sign stuck on the wall near the elevator to the floor.
The hair on Raven's arms and neck stood to attention the moment she'd entered the room. The air felt charged, like the atmosphere before a bad storm and it made her hesitate. She'd never asked the security guard what floor B10 specialised in, and she wished she had.
There was only one corridor leading away from the lifts and Raven followed it, all too aware that if the thief was there she couldn't sense him. The Titan passed several offices, all empty and locked before reaching the first locked door in her way. She used the security guard's key card and pin, cringing as a warning siren sounded as the door opened.
"WARNING. DOOR OPEN."
It repeated itself until she'd closed it behind her, and Raven deducted it wasn't because the code hadn't worked. The corridor continued on the other side for a while before Raven reached something attached to the walls of the corridor that looked suspiciously like a metal detector at an airport.
Raven stopped and did her best to look past it, more than shocked when she spotted Red X in the centre of a space that opened out, hunched over as he typed away on the keyboard of someone's computer.
She still didn't want to pass through the construct in front of her, not knowing what it did, so stayed in the narrow corridor as she called out, "She will be angry when she hears the alert was your fault."
"Was wondering when you'd show up, Sunshine. Where's your entourage?" He asked without looking up from the computer screen.
"They're on their way," She replied as she studied the metal and plastic object in front of her.
"It's safe to pass through – I came that way." Red X looked up when the Titan didn't move, and Raven didn't need to be able to sense his emotions to know he was wearing a grin. "Honest."
Against her better judgement Raven stepped forward under the construct. The pain hit her like a wall, and she was momentarily blinded as she collapsed to her knees.
"Woah! You okay?!"
Raven felt empty, like a large chunk of her had been ripped out, and the moment she could see again she shuffled back until the sensation receded.
She looked at the thief, the concern she could hear in his voice even though the synthesiser catching her off guard and with wide eyes she asked, "what the hell is that thing?"
"I dunno, but it didn't do that to me!" He watched Raven for a moment longer before remembering why he was there in the first place, going back to the computer.
The empath sat and watched him, unable to do anything else. She was quick to open her communicator when it rang, surprised to even had signal that far underground.
"Raven? What's going off? Where are you?" Robin was in the lobby above them, and she could see Cyborg helping the security guard stand up behind him.
"I'm on floor B10. I have Red X within my sight but I can't get to him. There's some sort of… force field or ward that doesn't agree with me."
Robin didn't waste time with questions, just nodded. "We're on our way."
Raven hung up, and Red X commented distracted, "Almost done and I'll be out ya' way."
"Not likely," the girl scowled as she got to her feet. "What are you here for anyway?"
"Nuh uh. I got to respect client confidentiality, especially if it's been bought. Can't tell you, Sunshine."
Frustrated, she crossed her arms over her chest as she watched him with a hardened gaze, counting each second as she waited for her team to show up. The seconds continued to tick away before Raven heard the elevator doors open down the hallway, able to feel her teammates as they ran towards them. Red X glanced up from the computer in time to see Robin turn the corner, the others close on his heels.
"What's the shield?" Robin asked as he came to a stop, but his eyes were focused on Red X.
"I have no idea. I think you should be fine to pass through – Red X got through fine."
The titans stared suspiciously at the metal construct. Beast Boy was the first one to try and pass through, his face scrunched up as he mentally prepared himself for something to go wrong. When nothing happened the rest of the team followed, Cyborg squeezing Raven's shoulder as he passed.
The empath moved as close to the force field as she dared so she could watch them approach Red X, the thief all but ignoring them.
"Stop what you're doing, Red X. You're under arrest for breaking and entering, and for suspicion of stealing confidential data. We'll only ask you this once to come peacefully," Robin told him.
"Two minutes and I'm done," he replied without looking up. "Read me my rights or something."
Beast Boy, Cyborg and Starfire al glanced at each other, not quite able to understand why the villain hadn't jumped straight into a fight like he usually did. Robin was having none of it though, and unhooked a pair of police standard handcuffs from his belt as he approached Red X.
The villain reacted to the wordless threat, turning his back on the computer to face Robin. His stance was casual enough but they all knew under the back costume his muscles were tense, ready to spring into action.
"Last chance, X."
"All these years and you still hope I might just give up one day?"
It was all the 'no' Robin needed, and moving forward he gave his signature command. "Titans GO!"
The handcuffs went spinning from Robin's hand within seconds as Red X disarmed him in two quick moves. Catching sight of Beast Boy charging towards him as a rhinoceros, he changed targets, removing the green shape shifter from the fight with one sticky red 'x' that tangled around Beast Boy's legs and tripped him up. Unable to fight against the strong compression of the trap his body forced himself back into his human form and he burst out in complaints.
"You seem to have gotten a little rusty," Red X commented as he turned his attention back onto the closest threat – Robin.
Readying his bo-staff, he kept up with Robin's attacks and blocks, landing a couple of hits and receiving a few himself. One to the upper arm, another to his waist – he was so focused on the leader of the Titans he almost missed Cyborg sneaking up behind him. He blocked Robin's high blow before neatly pivoting and swinging his staff round low with as much force as he could muster, only just managing to knock the metal man off his feet.
Raven scowled as she itched to join the fight, but she was reluctant to pass through the field and feel so weak again.
Finished with Cyborg for the moment Red X turned back to Robin, ducking under his staff as the titan swung it round before executing two perfect back flips and unleashing two red 'x's from the palm of his right hand. The first one hit Cyborg, the material expanding like polyurethane foam until it covered most of his body, sticking him firm to the ground. The second one hit Robin with enough force it threw him backwards and, stretching across his torso it stuck him low down on the wall. All who was left was Starfire.
The Tameranean had been hanging back, weary about using her starbolts around the computers in the room, but the thief had left her no choice. Flying in close and almost faster than Raven's eyes could follow she attacked with her fists, swinging for his chest before grabbing hold of Red X by the arm and flinging him across the room like a rag doll. He landed on his feet, hunched down into a crouch and one hand on the floor for added balance. Raven could see where the fight was inevitably heading, her frustration growing until she'd almost reached snapping point.
"What's wrong, beautiful?" Red X taunted Starfire.
"You is what is the wrong," She replied as she landed on her feet and marched towards him. Raven saw his arm tense as he prepared to release another one of his xenothium powered weapons and decided she couldn't stand on the side lines any longer. She rushed forward and pushed through the barrier, then through the pain as she fought to stay on her feet. The empath ran into him but barely with the strength to make him stumble. The red 'x' he shot towards Starfire went wide and in response the thief grabbed Raven's arm and spin her round before kicking her high on the chest.
She crumbled to the floor, in so much pain she couldn't even make a sound, but it had given Starfire an opening and she shot off a starbolt. The ball of green energy hit Red X's left arm and singed through the material, revealing a patch of raw, burnt skin. The thief glanced down at the burn before looking at the Tameranean princess.
"So, you're not just a pretty face."
"You will pay for your crimes, Red X," Starfire promised as she released another Starbolt.
He managed to dodge that one – just. "Probably, but not today."
He hit the centre of his belt and disappeared. Starfire tried to look round and cover her back but she wasn't fast enough. The kick to her spine surprised her, and she lost flight, hitting the ground. Red X was quick to grab her wrists, pulling them behind her and slapping on an adhesive 'X'.
"You won't get away with this!" Robin shouted, frustrated.
"Already have," He replied as he walked over to the computer and pulled on the memory stick before pocketing it. He almost teleported, his finger hovering over the button on his belt, but thought better of it and moved over to where Raven was still on the floor. "You don't look too good, Sunshine."
She didn't feel too good neither, and she wasn't impressed about being singled out by the thief. She would have punched him, but she wasn't sure she even had the energy to stand. Whatever was protecting the room was still draining her.
He crouched down, and to Raven's alarm tried to pick her up. She found the strength to punch him them, aiming for his throat to make up for the strength she was lacking. He dropped her, coughing.
"Trying to help you here."
"Fuck off." She replied brazenly.
"That shield thing is going to kill you at this rate."
Raven didn't respond, just glared at him and Red X made a small noise of exasperation. Pulling loose a small canister from his belt he sprayed Starfire's restraints with a clear liquid.
"That stuff usually takes three minutes to work but you're strong. Get her out first," he told the alien, and didn't wait for a reply – didn't even glance at any of the other titans – before teleporting.
Robin was studying the empath suspitiously as Starfire began to fight to get free from the binds.
"I can't believe we lost so quickly," Beast Boy complained as he tried to wiggle out of his restraints.
"One Titan down, I am," Cyborg replied before calling out, "You okay, Rae?"
"I've been better," She replied drily as she attempted to sit up, not getting very far.
"I am… almost there," Starfire told the empath as she continued to fight against the restraints, her voice strained.
"What aren't you telling us?" Robin finally asked the question that had been eating away at him.
"What do you mean?" Raven asked. She'd been expecting something from her leading but that didn't mean she was ready to deal with him yet. She felt weak and fatigued, alarmingly so, and didn't want to play his game.
"Red X doesn't help anyone."
It was Starfire who replied, surprising all of them. "On the contrary. When Ding Dong Daddy had your briefcase he aided us in ridding several villains between our bus and the finish line after leaving first place to you. The Red X has never actively sought to do us serious harm, physical or otherwise. And the incident with the Xenothium and Professor Chang… Did he not-" she'd snapped the restraints as she'd been talking, pausing for a moment as she pulled the sticky material free from her wrists before moving over to Raven.
"He helped me beat Chang, free you guys and save the city, I know," Robin finished for the alien, though he didn't sound any happier.
The Tameranean knew better than to try and carry Raven, putting one arm around her waist and one of Raven's around her shoulders before she stood. She was still carrying all of the empath's weight but it gave Raven the illusion of walking as they made their way towards the construct in the hallway.
"Hurry up will you – I can't feel my legs!" Beast Boy complained.
On the other side of the invisible barrier Starfire lowered her friend to the ground When Starfire didn't move for the others Raven waved her off. "I'm fine. Go help the others."
"You do not look the fine," Starfire commented but flew over to Beast Boy and attempted to use her alien strength to peel away the adhesive strip keeping his legs together.
Raven could feel her strength and powers returning, though somewhat slower than the first time, her skin breaking out in a hot sweat. She was standing and almost back to normal by the time Starfire had managed to free Beast Boy, and once again stood as close to the construct as she dared as she asked her leader, "Do you know what they research on his floor?"
"No. I didn't think to ask," He shook his head, glancing at Starfire as her and the changeling moved over to him, studying the 'x' keeping him stuck to the wall. "Why?"
"I'm going to find someone who might know," she told him. "I'll see you back at the tower."
She didn't wait for Robin's reply before walking away, Beast Boy asking, "Umm, why?"
"She'll have her reasons," Robin replied. He tried to shrug before remembering his arms were still stuck.
"Beast Boy, if you could please grab the top corner your side."
The green shape shifter looked at Starfire and nodded, easily sliding his fingertips beneath the corner despite the thickness of his gloves. "Hey! I think its wearing off!"
"Lucky for some," Cyborg spoke up sourly from where he was still stuck. "If this crap clogs up my circuits, Red X is a dead man walking."
Starfire placed her foot against the wall for leverage, and Beast Boy copied and she began to count down. "Three… two… one!"
The two titans pulled back with all their weight, Starfire's side coming away from the wall considerably quicker but both retracting until Robin's own weight broke him free and he was dumped onto the floor. He stood and removed the last of the 'x' from his uniform before brushing himself down. He walked over to the computer Red 'X' had been using as Starfire and Beast Boy went to assist Cyborg.
"I'm going to see if I can find out what he was after," Robin told them.
"S'not like I'm going anywhere," Cyborg replied, and Beast Boy cracked up laughing. "Not funny, BB." Turning his attention onto the Tameranean he didn't like the look she was giving him. "Go on then, how do you plan on freeing me?"
"I believe our best option would be to cut you free," she announced.
"Right. How exactly?"
The robotic man flinched as Starfire's eyes begun to glow green. The girl wasn't known for the accuracy of her attacks, and Cyborg closed his human eye as he looked away. He could smell the material burning as Starfire cut into it with her eye beams and felt some of the tightness on his body recede.
Cyborg was still trying to clean gunk out of his joins when Raven got back to the tower. She all but ignored everyone else as she approached Cyborg, carrying a folder full of paperwork.
"You said you wanted my help," Raven told him, putting the folder down in front of him. "Here's my help. I can't guarantee it'll work, but I'm sure you'll agree it's worth a try."
"What is it?" Cyborg frowned as everyone gathered around them.
"The same technology that incapacitated me earlier at S.T.A.R Labs. Apparently they've been playing around with dimensions and rifts. They designed the shield protecting that floor after they encountered a few nasty beings with their prototype. Personally, I'm surprised, and not in a good way. Since when did S.T.A.R Labs start playing with dimensions?"
"Since they first discovered them," Cyborg told her. "My parents were two of the researchers. This shield, it was generated by machines alone?" He'd paused in his cleaning to flip through the folder.
"From what I can gather, although machines are more your department than mine. Hopefully this is enough for you to work from – it's all I could get them to share with me."
Cyborg looked at her in disbelief. "Can you even hear yourself? There's a 'confidential' stamp on every damn page. That entire place is a high security operation. How'd you even get these?"
Raven shrugged. "I dropped a few names, including 'Stone' since I already knew your connection to the place, hyped up the Shadow case a bit and did some sweet talking."
Beast Boy laughed, the sound shocked. "Did some what?"
"It worked, didn't it?" She scowled.
"I can't wait to meet this girlfriend of yours now," Cyborg told her, smiling. "I don't know what she's done to you but it's an improvement. We have a lot to thank her for."
Raven doubted that, but didn't say anything, letting him read through some of the paperwork before she asked, "What do you think? Can you use it?"
He nodded slowly. "Make a few adaptations here and there… there will be quite a lot of recalculations to do but I don't see why I shouldn't be able to come up with something." Cyborg looked up at her. "I will need a hand though."
The empath scowled at him before she declared, "I'll help you build this containment field but that is it. I will not be helping you catch him."
"How long will it take you to build it," Robin asked, and Cyborg shrugged.
"If we get it right first time, two – maybe three – weeks. If we get the time to work on it. Like I said, things'll need tweaking considering we'll want a smaller, portable version and we'll have to find a suitable power source… ideally I'd build a proto-type first," Cyborg told him.
"We don't have that kind of time," the leader of the titans stressed.
"That's why there won't be a prototype, but it's still going to take a while."
"Then we'd better get started," Raven said as she closed the folder and took it off Cyborg before moving to leave the room.
"While you're working see if you can convince her to come back on the case – not just help, but to be fully involved again," Robin told Cyborg quietly, though not quietly enough.
"I can hear you, and my answer hasn't changed," Raven spoke up from the door. "Nor is it going to. If we can build this field to contain him you won't need me anyway."
"We're a team, Raven. We'll always need you."
Although Robin was talking about the Shadow, the words meant something else to the empath, and she studied her leader as she let them sink in, considering telling them all about Jinx. The team was together and no-one was in a particularly bad mood; she wasn't sure she'd get a better opportunity.
"Come on then," Cyborg said as he walked past Raven and out of the room. "You're right, we'd better get started."
She didn't move, still watching Robin, who was staring back in return, a soft scowl of concern on his face.
"Raven?" Cyborg asked, oblivious, and the empath nodded, looking away from her leader.
The young woman snooped round the back of the large building, searching the tall evening shadows for a side entrance. Finding it, illuminated by a small light meant to deter thieves Jinx checked for any security cameras before pulling the sleeve of her dress over her hand and trying the door handle. It didn't open, but then she hadn't expected to find it unlocked.
Crouching down to study the lock on the door the girl made a quick call, saying the moment it had connected, "I'm round back. Can't see any cameras and the lock's simple enough. If luck isn't on our side it shouldn't take me long to pick it."
"And the rest of the place?" A squeaky male voice asked back.
"Dead as a graveyard. Warehouse 4 gets a delivery at 3am though, so we're gonna have to be gone by then." Jinx backed up and stared up at the roof.
"If there's no security outside there's bound to be plenty inside. See if you can find a conduit box. Might be able to shut it all off from the outside."
The thief had started to move when she caught sight of moment down at the far end of the building. She frowned into the darkness for a moment before telling Gizmo, "I'm'a have to call you back," and hanging up.
Quietly, Jinx headed down the access road, her body hunched low in a defensive position. She'd been monitoring the area for almost a week in preparation for the boys' escape from jail. No-one should have been there. Not workers or delivery drivers or security patrolmen. Only her. Gizmo and Mammoth would have left it and gotten out of there but she wasn't them, and Jinx let her curiosity get the best of her.
The closer she got, the more she expected to hear voices or the sounds of shoes hitting the concrete but everything was quiet. Too quiet. A fox would have made more noise.
Icy fingers spread down the young woman's spine as she slowly started to back up, deciding that whatever it was, it wasn't her concern. Jinx saw another flicker of movement, the shadow of a man, and her eyes widened in fear as it silently moved towards her.
She was running, her feet working on auto-pilot. Jinx twisted and weaved her way around over-flowing dumpsters, only just managing to keep her feet as she pulled out of the access road and down an alley. She looked over her shoulder, every shadow suddenly alive with movement, and a pile of old roofing slates exploded, sharp knives of slate scattering across the alleyway behind her, threatening to cut anything in its path. They all slid harmlessly though the smoky mass that followed her.
Jinx cursed under her breath and set her eyes back in front of her, skidding around another corner. Cold water shot up the back of her tights as she ran through a murky, oil stained puddle. The ripples she made pushed past the boundaries of the pot hole, coating the path with the slick oil.
She ducked her head as she tried to pick up speed, almost missing the next corning and having to catch herself against the rough brickwork of another building, skinning the flesh of her hands. It had slowed Jinx down, her breath catching in her throat with terror as she fought the urge to look behind her; to see how close the monster was.
Jinx used the wall to push off and gather speed while attempting to figure out her position within the concrete maze. Was she close to the road? The bay? The road was ideal but what if the creature couldn't swim? Could she hide under the surface of the dark waters?
The thief was about to change direction, set on reaching the bay and convinced she was moving the wrong way when she noticed a tangle of fishing net. She ran towards it and, coming to a junction, paused to frantically look around and orient herself. Spotting a boat shed she ran, pulling around the back of the building before looking around again.
The Shadow wasn't there. Finding the door of the shed she tried to open it, the corroded handle falling off in her grip. Jinx dropped it and pushed the door open, quickly stepping inside and closing it behind her. Inside, Jinx looked for something to prop up against the door and keep it shut. She ended up shoving a stack of crates across the floor, cringing at the loud noise they made but unable to lift them into place.
The door blocked, she moved back a few steps and took in the shed as she tried to calm down, looking for an ideal hiding spot. Jinx found one between some tarp covered boxes and a wall, a shelf loaded with boxes and totes hiding her from above. The hole was barely large enough for her to squeeze into but she managed, hiding her head on her knees as she tried to figure out what she should be listening for, if anything. A few minutes or fear had passed before Jinx recalled her communicator.
Reaching into the pocket of her dress was awkward but she managed it. She didn't hesitate on who to call and had Raven's contact sheet up when a strong force tugged on her boot. She screamed, dropping her communicator as she tried to pull further into her hole, only resulting in bashing her head on a box. A man's voice laughed and the force on her boot got stronger, splinters cutting through Jinx's tights and the skin of her upper thighs and ass as he pulled her across the floor of the shed.
Cyborg scratched his head as he studied the rough blueprints in front of them. "It's going to take a while to set it up. We'd need a decoy or something to lure him into the area."
Raven shrugged. "Don't look at me."
Cyborg smiled. "He would, but I'm not Rob. I think we could use your help but I'm not gonna bully you into doin' something you don't wanna do."
"No, you'll just try and guilt trip e instead," She muttered, before offering, "We're going to have to decrease the effect of the field anyway so could we… I don't know. You know mechanics isn't exactly my best area. I didn't even know what half of it was before joining the team."
"I dunno, you're getting pretty good with the T-Car." He dragged the folder of S.T.A.R Labs paperwork over to them. "Why do we need to lower the effect?"
"You saw what it did to me and I have a physical form."
"I saw you collapse. I don't know why."
Raven sighed, frowning at the far wall of the garage. "It… was like the containment room here but it wasn't. The containment room just blocks me from using my powers , but this… it was like they weren't even there anymore. Like it drained them away."
"Red X claimed it was going to kill you. Could it have?" Cyborg asked.
"I don't know. Possibly. Due to my heritage, my very essence – my soul for lack of a better word – isn't like yours, or Robin's. It's more susceptible to magic and as you know can be separated from my physical form very easily. I am an astral creature – a being of magic. If that field is designed to absorb magic I don't see why it couldn't kill me."
"The shadow was human at some point."
Raven nodded. "He is also currently a being made completely by blood magic. I wouldn't mind getting rid of him that way but you are all intent on giving him a trial."
"So we want to drain him, just not that much."
"Any ideas on what did the draining?" Cyborg asked, and Raven shook her head.
"Not a clue."
"Let's hope they annotated it somewhere on the plans, then," Cyborg said as he started scanning the content of the folder.
"How have the past two days been?" Raven asked after a moment of silence passed.
"You haven't seen the news?" The titan asked as he looked up at Raven.
"We didn't exactly sit and watch TV. Why? What's happened?"
"Cops found another body."
"I didn't get the alert," she told him.
"There wasn't one. Commissioner called us personally. He's still expecting your visit, by the way. Your absence wasn't unnoticed, either."
"Cyborg, my father is involved. I can't-"
"I know, I'm not tryin' to insinuate anything."
"…was it bad?"
Cyborg grimaced. "Don't think any of us got much sleep last night."
"And the cops? What did you tell them about my absence?"
"That you were working on something back at the tower. We're going to run out of excuses soon enough. This girl was literally torn to shreds – it looked like someone had stuck her through a blender - and she was found on a corner of the main street; far as the cops are concerned there's nothin' more important than that."
"Then tell them the truth."
Cyborg laughed. "What? That the Church of Blood created Damien to get you to open a portal for the demon Trigon who just happens to be your Dad, so you're staying out of the way. Yeah, I could see that going down well."
"Okay, so perhaps an edited version."
"And when they ask why?"
Raven thought back to the conversation she'd had with Jinx in the tea-shop. "Maybe it's time we told them. I mean, the public have the right to know who's protecting them don't they?"
"You once said yourself, it's been kept a secret this long for a reason. Girl, what's brought this on?"
She shrugged, avoiding his gaze. "I don't know. I… before my sixteenth birthday all I did was hide myself from you, and after my father's defeat I thought that could change but I still… I don't feel like I can be me. I'm still hiding, and I'm tired of it."
Cyborg frowned. "One day maybe you can but do you really think now is the best time? During all these murders? We need you with us – we don't need some psycho trying to exorcise you."
His response reflected Jinx's, and she scowled, upset. "I didn't ask to be like this and everything… just once I want it to mean nothing. I want it to not control me."
"None of us asked to be who we are, an' trust me, you don't want people to fear you. I know what that's like."
She stared at him sceptically. "People do fear me. Maybe you didn't notice but I'm the public's least favourite titan. And the villains. It wouldn't change anything, and I'm fine with that, really."
"You're serious about this, aren't you?" Cyborg asked. "I thought you enjoyed the 'mystery girl' routine?"
"I don't enjoy it – I had to do it. To protect myself and everyone else. Trigon was coming and I couldn't fight him on my own. I needed help. Most people don't willingly befriend a demon."
"…Talk to Robin," Cyborg eventually told her. "This is big, Rae. I mean we're talking about making demons common knowledge. I understand where you're coming from, I really do – I spent years under that tracksuit trying to hide what I am – but is the result really worth it?"
She got the urge to scream at him. He understood? Years hiding? Try a lifetime – he hadn't worn that tracksuit since they'd met – but Raven bottled it up, her eyes glaring holes in the folder instead as she forced herself to read its pages. A tool box rattled with discontent on the shelf but they both ignored it.
"Here," she suddenly spoke, tapping an area of text. "Something about frequency waves."
"Which should come from… here," Cyborg showed her an area on the blueprints. "Great. Let's get to work."