Dawsen: I didn't take raven to be the reciprocating type, but maybe there is another reason she let red x go?
I think more than anything, she doesn't want to owe anything to X that he could try and bring up at a later point in an attempt to get her to do something. Better to pay off all debts straight away, right?
Concolor44: This little trade-off thing that Raven and Red X have going could very quickly escalate into something that neither of them might be able to handle ... from more than one perspective. And if Robin finds out she's pulling her punches ... hmmm.
The Church of Blood. Egad, but I hate those guys. I predict that Red X will soon come to hate them, too.
Beautiful work, as always!
Hmm, it could. And yeah, I don't think Robin would be impressed.
Lanamere: This is really good, regarding the whole Batman asking him to pass on his mantle, are we maybe, hopefully going to see Jason Todd in this? That would be interesting
Glad you think so. *smirk* I'm not telling you who we're going to be seeing in the future:P
Discb: Summoning Trigon or making Raven go demonic... Hm...
Glad to know Aussie's treating you well.
Maybe…. Or maybe not. I like to think my plots aren't quite so easy to read.
Sunshine-Midnight123: It makes perfect sense to me that Red X is in this certain business. I assume Raven is Blood because of the two guards mentioning of that other facility in Gotham guarded by more than just the church as well as other reasons as to why I think Raven may be Blood. I love how Red X was able to escape and enjoyed reading Red X in his stealth mode in that building.
A good guess, but not quite – though I could imagine Raven setting up her own protection to keep people away from the Church in Gotham. Anyway, glad you're enjoying.
Maddielove95: This is really cool. It would be nice though, to add one of those "what happened before the chapter" thingies though. I hope you update soon. :)
Glad you liked. Not sure what you mean by that though.
THE NEXT MORNING…
"How did he even know that would take me out? The specific current needed to-"
"I created them, when I created the suit." Robin spoke up from his place in front of the crime scanner, where he was trying to find signs of Red X. "I just didn't use them – didn't need to. If I could hack into your main systems, I didn't need or want to take out several of your minor functions."
"Is this meant to make me feel better?" Cyborg scowled from where he sat, his internal scanner running a final diagnostic of his body, checking the repair work he, Raven and Beast Boy had attempted last night. The easy part had been turning him back on. The hard part was removing and replacing all the circuits that had fried from the extra current forced through him, but with Raven's sharp mind and nimble fingers, and Beast Boy's will to help his best friend, they had managed it under Cyborg's guidance. "Because it isn't."
"Look on the bright side – at least Adonis didn't escape." Beast Boy forced a smile. "And we know to get his hands bound first next time."
"Still not helping." Cyborg muttered.
"It is not the first time Red X has escaped us," Starfire reminded them, "nor will it be the last. We were expecting this, or should have been. Do not take it so harshly on yourselves. With each defeat we learn something new about him and his abilities."
"And so does he." Robin replied.
"That's nice and all Star, but I think we'll let you explain this one to the commissioner. I mean, we paid the media off, and dragged Adonis out of his cell for what? To lose one criminal and put the other in a situation he could have potentially escaped from." Cyborg's sensors bleeped at him and he read the report on the little screen built into his right arm. "I'm all fixed up." He looked at Beast Boy and Raven. "Thanks guys."
"At least we have proof Red X is aiding other criminals." Starfire shrugged. "If we could just find out where the items are coming from we could also prove them to be stolen. Surely that is worth something?"
Robin turned round to look at his team, his eyes landing on Raven, sat on the sofa. "You're very quiet."
"I have nothing useful to say." She replied. "Nothing can be done about it until our next encounter with him, no matter how much we discuss what happened. In truth, we learned nothing new about Red X other than the fact he has the weapons to disable Cyborg without even touching him."
"Then let's talk about how we plan on getting him next time. We know he's not gonna risk meeting up with a 'client' like that again," the changeling pointed out.
"So we figure out where these items he's been selling are coming from and keep an eye on where it is." Robin said after a moment's thought. "And we might catch him. We know it's not from any of the stores hooked up to our alarm system, or we would have heard about it, so what does that leave?"
"Just about nowhere in Jump City." Cyborg answered. "At least it narrows it down a lot. We have two factories on the outskirts that deal with wood – one makes paper, the other furniture, not something I can see him being interested in. That's it. All the businesses in town, and anyone who could lose a lot of money from a robbery, are all linked up to our alarm system."
"Then we'll have to find out the locations and names of nearby factories, shops, storage companies … I'll look into it after I've been to the police station and see if any business has reported a break in."
"Me and BB will take a drive – stop wherever we can think of and ask around." Cyborg announced, receiving a nod of approval from their leader.
"Starfire, Raven, take some time off. I want you to run tonight's patrol, focusing on the areas around the docks." Robin ordered.
Starfire entered the common room, the sound of the door closing the only noise to mark her presence. She watched her teammate and friend for a moment as she levitated in front of the large windows overlooking the bay before deciding the meditating Titan had either chosen to ignore her presence or hadn't noticed her enter the room.
"Since Robin has given us the rest of our day off until our patrol, I declare we spend some time 'bonding' down at the shopping mall." The alien announced loudly.
Raven didn't reply straight away, finishing the chant of her mantra before she turned to face Starfire and opened her eyes. "Robin gave us time off so we might rest and prepare for the upcoming patrol. Not so we could go shopping."
The princess smiled. "Robin did not specify what we do with our time. Besides, we Tamaranians are most hard to wear out, and you have no excuse for not coming, needing less rest than myself in an average week. A few hours in the mall will not affect how we perform tonight."
The empath's eyes narrowed. "You're not going to give up are you?"
"We could visit your favourite bookstore, and get lunch at the nice café three shops down from the pet store." Starfire tried her best to make it sound enticing.
Raven rolled her eyes as she unfolded her legs from beneath her and landed on the floor. "Give me five minutes to change into something more suitable." She started to move for the doors. "But you can tell Robin where we were and why we were there if he gets back to the tower before we do."
"Of course. I am sure he will be fine with it."
"More like he just doesn't know how to tell you no." Raven muttered.
"Robin said he had approached you about the dilemma of his identity." Starfire told the empath as they walked through the mall.
Raven nodded. "He asked me what I thought he should do. I take it he asked you the same?"
"He did. I told him I am not in any position to tell him how he should handle this, just like he told me to do what I thought was best back on Tamaran."
Raven smirked. "I bet that wasn't the answer he was looking for."
"It seemed it was not. And now I am wondering if it was the wrong answer."
"It wasn't," she told the alien. "Batman and Robin need to sort this out between them. Family matters are rarely improved by other people getting involved." Seeing Starfire's expression, Raven quickly added, "Rarely. Do not even think of using my father and me as an example. Batman is not trying to destroy the world through Robin, just trying to get Robin to pass on the alias so he can hand it down to his new sidekick."
"It might as well be destroying Robin's world." Starfire argued. "He has been Robin-"
"For most of his life thus far, I know."
"I … just feel that I should be able to do more to help him. He is obviously stressed by the decision Batman is forcing upon him."
"You'll support him in whatever he chooses, won't you?" Raven asked, and Starfire nodded.
"Then you can do no more."
"… I suppose." Starfire admitted slowly. Looking up, she spotted one of her favourite stores and pointed it out to her teammate. "I wish to go in there. The clothes are most pretty."
Raven glanced down at the many bags Starfire was already holding. "Go ahead. I think I'll wait out here."
"You are sure?"
"Certain." She quickly nodded.
"I will not take too long." Starfire told her before rushing off, missing Raven's sarcastic comment of, "Sure you won't."
Moving to lean against the strip of wall next to the doors of the shop, Raven tugged up the hood of her black jacket to hide her hair, slightly more self-conscious now she wasn't stood beside a woman with orange skin and flame red hair. Her civilian outfit of faded grey jeans, black heelless boots and a black tank-top served only to mark her as off duty. The only Titan who could actually blend into a crowd should he want to was Robin. Being a Saturday, the mall was almost overflowing with teenagers hanging out with friends and people doing their general shopping before the week of work began. Raven hated going to the mall during the weekend.
Her preferred time was during the weekdays, before the school had finished for the day. It meant fewer people to watch, because even though she was 'off duty' she still had a job to do as a superhero. It also meant less staring and harassment from fans. Not that she had many, compared to the other members of the team.
She watched the crowd pass back and forth as she waited for Starfire, only briefly tearing her eyes away to watch a young man walk over and lean against the wall next to her, a flat-billed cap, identical to what so many other teenagers and men in their twenties had suddenly started wearing, pulled low over his face to his eyes. She looked back at the stream of people in front of her, dismissing him.
The man waited a moment, before saying, "I need some information I think you might have."
Raven turned to look at him, making sure there was no one else he could have been talking to before asking, "Excuse me?"
He kept his head down, and Raven could only just see his smile. "You're a little slow today, aren't you Sunshine?" The Titan tensed, and the man quickly added, "Chill. I'm not here to start a fight. Or steal anything. I just want some info."
Raven crossed her arms as she ignored the urge to try and get a better look at his face, not quite sure why she didn't. "You know Starfire's with me, right? You wouldn't stand a chance without your suit."
"The warrant for your arrest is still active."
"It's active for another ten years."
She frowned. "Then what are you doing here?"
"How is the name 'Blood', a church, and a …pit of some sort related." He didn't see Raven's expression falter. "I'm gathering Blood is in the criminal circuit somewhere, so I thought you might be my best bet for getting some info."
"What?" Raven asked, not having processed his last sentence.
"You heard me. And from that tone of voice, I'm guessing you know somethin'. Answer my question and I'll let you get on with the rest of your day."
"Why do you need to know?"
"Just answer the question Sunshine."
"You're in no position to tell me to do anything." Raven glared at him, the effect somewhat lost by the fact she didn't have eye contact.
"I don't have any 'leader' to get into trouble with for helping you out the other night. You do."
"Are you blackmailing me?"
"Who gave you the name?" Raven asked.
"Why is that important?"
"Because it is."
He sighed. "No one 'gave' it to me. I overheard some scumbags talking who'd … acquired something I had my eye on."
"He was the leader of H.I.V.E Academy – their headmaster – before we shut them down."
"Great. Now what church is he related to?"
"Why do you need to know?"
The man tried to hide how frustrated he was getting with the Titan. "Help me out here, Sunshine. I might be saving your city from a very grizzly end."
An alarm bell went off in Raven's head, but she tried to ignore it for the moment. "Why do you need to know?"
"It'll help give me some idea as to who the hell the scumbags who took my stuff are."
"It wasn't 'your stuff'. It's the property of whoever you were planning to steal from."
"Come on; I answered your questions. Now answer mine."
"If it's so important, why didn't you drop the police an anonymous tip? Why come to me?"
"Because they made it personal when they took the stuff I was gonna take. And they seem to be packing a hell of a lot of fire power – wouldn't want to send a few police officers to their deaths."
"Then talk to Robin."
"Raven. Answer my question."
The empath could count on one hand the number of times Red X had called her by name. "Sebastian Blood, known to most as Brother Blood, is the last to inherit leadership of the Church of Blood. To my knowledge he has no children to continue the line." The thief noted she sounded rather happy about that. "Google the rest."
"The Church of Blood?" The man's amusement was clear in his voice. "At least that explains the pit they were talking about."
Raven's eyes narrowed with suspicion and the beginnings of worry. "What else did they say? Who are these people, and where are they based?"
"Your first and last question is for me to know. Not you. As for the second … that's exactly what I'm trying to find out." He pushed off from the wall. "See you around, Sunshine."
The empath had started to move after the man when she caught Starfire leaving the store out of the corner of her eye. She changed direction, hiding her frown under a small smile.
"Buy anything?" Even she thought the question sounded forced, but Starfire took no notice, used to the lack of patience and interest Raven had with shopping.
"A lovely dress in pale violet, and a pair of jeans I found in their 'for sale' rack. I saw a few items you might-"
"That's all right – I'm saving money for a particular book." Raven quickly cut her off.
"Perhaps we could go into the book store and you could show it to me?"
"It's not in Jump City." Raven told her as they began walking, her mind only half focusing on Starfire's questions. "It's not even in America. I'll gladly show it to you once I've bought it, however."
"It is another spell book?"
"Not quite." Raven smiled. "Though it does contain a few, throughout the chapters."
"You have seen this book?" Starfire frowned.
"Of course. I wouldn't buy it without first checking it's authentic."
"While I do love the convenience of my speed of flight, it must be nice to be able to travel so far with such ease."
"I had some help. Besides, I wouldn't call navigating through inter-dimensional lines of travel easy."
"Please, these lines you speak of are …?"
"Closely related to ley lines, though much greater in number. They're a necessity for long-distance teleportation, though inconsequential when I'm teleporting somewhere within my sight or to a place that is extremely familiar to me."
"Why does being able to see a place change that?" Starfire frowned, truly interested.
"My powers are all about altering the fabric of our reality, being the freak of nature that I am."
"Raven, you must not say such things!" Starfire interrupted in protest. "You are many things, but you are not a freak."
"The point remains that my existence threatens the equilibrium established by natural order. My abilities are, at root, a form of chaos. The lines of inter-dimensional travel will always be accessible to those well practiced in the arts of magic, and those naturally gifted with teleportation can accesses them a lot easier than practitioners. However if I can see the desired location, or if I can imagine it in great detail – something that is rarely worth risking – I can teleport there, regardless of whether lines of inter-dimensional travel run through it or not. It is a matter of will, and while it is sometimes easier than long distance travel, it can also be harder. If I lost my goal from my thoughts, I could end up anywhere."
"Like the time you dropped us all into the bay around Titans Tower." Starfire grinned, and Raven blushed slightly, still embarrassed by the memory.
"Yes. Exactly like that."
"And imagining your location?"
"The only locations to which I do that regularly are rooms around the Tower. I might attempt it during an emergency, but I try not to make a habit out of it."
"During those few hours stuck in each other's bodies during our first year of being Titans, teleportation was one of the things you did not teach me."
"It's harder than it looks. The first time I teleported I travelled a foot. I was three, I believe. It took me another year to learn how to use and control that ability, although I still couldn't move out of a room. And I am still yet to master it."
"Three?" Starfire repeated.
The empath nodded. "My mental growth, including my powers, developed at a rate slightly faster than I believe what you said Tamaranians do."
"Then your powers must have first shown … hours after your birth, as new-borns on my planet can be known to fly – at least hover – on the same day as their birth."
Raven nodded, pulling out her communicator and checking the time on the front panel. "Let's get lunch then head back. Unless there's somewhere else you want to go?"
The alien looked sheepishly at the bags she had in both her hands. "I believe I have 'spent up'."