Yes, I know it's been a little while since my last update, but the holidays, combined with college and working on a full-length original novel, just makes it so blasted hard to get any decent work on a fanfiction done without it taking longer than we'd like. But, at long last, it's here. I also want to thank everyone who's reviewed thus far, and, to make up for taking so long in updating, this is my longest chapter yet. And yeah, ya'll know I don't own the Teen Titans, or Star Wars. Now, on with the show.
Chapter Three: Aftermath (Part II)
With his lightsaber running perpendicular to and above his head, Crix held his Form III stance, waiting for the lethal, infamous General Grievous to make his first move. Grievous, however, seemed to be in no hurry to attack, choosing instead to laugh mockingly as he, too, held his ground.
"Your pathetic skills are no match for me, Jedi scum!"
"You're supposed to be dead, Grievous." Crix countered, his mind still struggling to comprehend what it was experiencing. "Master Kenobi destroyed you on Utapau."
"Do not dare compare me to the pathetic prototype that preceded me." Grievous growled. "I have been greatly improved…able to retain my knowledge, skills, and memories with none of the biological weaknesses that come with it!"
"So they finally finished you off, huh? Yes, it seems to make perfect sense. Master Kenobi finishes you off, allowing Sidious to use his resources to revive you as a full droid, totally obedient and capable of only limited independence…that does seem like the kind of thing a Sith Lord would do." Crix allowed himself to laugh fully, using the knowledge that he would soon be dead to set him free from any fear he might have had. "It looks like Palps finally has himself the perfect errand boy, the perfect slave."
"I am no slave!" Grievous corrected, taking an angry step forward. "I am the commander of the largest droid army in the history of two galaxies, the most powerful, the most feared, being in either galaxy's history!"
"Is that what they're using for recruitment drives now?" Crix asked, part of him unable to decide why he was teasing and mocking such a dangerous foe, a being who, much like Asajj Ventress, had been the bane of Jedi everywhere, the same being who'd ruthlessly killed countless Jedi throughout the span of the Clone Wars. "Can't say I'm all that impressed, really. I mean, sure, you have new, shiny black armor, and it looks like you might even be a few centimeters taller, but do you have the same power, the same ruthless cunning, as you did before Utapau?"
"Why don't you step forward and find out?"
Again, Crix laughed, deciding it must be the freedom of fear from death that'd made him suddenly so light and humorous. "Come on, General, do I look that stupid to you? I mean, sure, I may be a kid, but I do like to think I'm smarter than that. We both know you're fluent in all six of the main forms of lightsaber combat, just like we both know you've already analyzed my stance, my body language, and as such have an appropriate counterattack already selected, waiting only for me to make my move."
"Smart or not, you must realized you are doomed."
"Of course I'm doomed." Crix agreed. "Neither of us fully expect a Jedi apprentice who's been out of the Order for a little over a full year to defeat someone like you, someone who's killed Jedi Knights and Masters far more powerful than me."
The mechanically-reptilian eyes of the new and improved General Grievous narrowed behind his skull-like faceplate, as though suspicious of Crix for having made no attempt at fleeing when he knew he was about to be killed.
"You forget, Grievous." Crix responded, accepting of the fate the Force seemed to have in store for him. "I'm a Jedi. There is no death, there is only the Force."
"Well then, youngling," Grievous responded, shrugging off the black cloak that covered his back, a single lightsaber hilt in each hand. "Let us see about reuniting you with your beloved Force!"
As those words went silent, the two sabers sprang to life, one blade green, the other a violet that immediately drew Crix's attention, causing him to temporarily forget the deadly creature preparing to kill him. As he studied the pommel of the purple blade's origin, he almost immediately recognized the hilt.
"That's Master Windu's lightsaber!"
At this, Grievous's laughter became louder than ever. "A gift from Lord Sidious himself, in recognition of my loyal service to his dark Order!"
A powerful, burning anger began to rise up inside of him, a hatred of the Dark Side, outrage at the mere thought of the Master of the Order's lightsaber being used against one of its own members. How dare they pervert the legacy of the Order like that?!
Without thinking, without realizing what he was doing, Crix charged forward like a wild, angry bantha, his lightsaber cutting and slashing with such ferocity and power as he'd never before known. Deep down, part of him did know the mistake he'd made, did realize the trouble he'd put himself in, but the young Jedi apprentice suddenly cared for nothing but striking back at the Dark Side, at making it feel even just a fraction of the pain the Jedi had known for the past year, to make someone, anyone, pay for what Darth Sidious had orchestrated. Crix Kavar had abandoned his Jedi training, had lost all control, and was now on the verge of not only losing his life but also his very soul.
His vicious strikes might have been enough to drive a normal lightsaber-wielding foe backwards, but when his emerald blade at last crossed with the matching blade the monster known as Grievous possessed, Crix found himself instantly repelled, the Kaleesh General effortlessly batting the young Jedi's attack backwards with such raw power that he found himself sailing through the air, desperately calling on the Force to keep him on his feet as he landed, bringing his saber back up into a Jedi ready stance before again charging forward, launching yet another assault, which, again, was batted back with childish ease, sending the young teen backwards with such ferocity that when his back exploded against the floor, he felt as though his spine had broken in half.
Knowing that Grievous was stalking ever closer towards him, Crix brought his saber's blade up, pointing it directly at the superior droid general and keeping it in that same position as he urgently pulled himself back to his feet.
As he violently shook his head, Crix knew he'd made a critical mistake, one that only younglings should make. He'd allowed his anger and hatred join him in battle, had surrendered himself to those dark emotions, and that, in turn, had cost him dearly. Of course, part of him realized, dark emotions or not, there was simply no way he would be able to defeat General Grievous, and his chances of escaping the infamous general with his life weren't much better. Why, then, when it was all but certain that he would fall to Grievous's blades, likely sooner rather than later, did it matter if he fought with anger and hatred in his heart or not?
Because, he reminded himself sternly, suddenly feeling, for just a few moments, that Master Zi'Kez was back with him once more, he was still a Jedi, even if there was no Jedi Order left to claim him, and, until the moment he drew his last breath, he do his best to do his decade plus of Jedi training the justice it deserved.
Taking three full, deliberate steps backwards to put more distance between himself and Grievous, Crix took a deep breath and held it for several long, silent seconds before exhaling it through his mouth, imagining the anger and hatred as small atoms leaving his body on his very breath. Though he still felt angry, still felt like he wanted nothing more than to punish Grievous and his masters, he did feel much better, slightly more in control of himself and his actions. Bringing his blade up in a Jedi ready stance, he patiently waited for Grievous to make his next move.
Watching Grievous as he continued his approach towards the young Jedi, Crix began to study his opponent, looking for some kind of opening that he might be able to exploit, some way that he might at least prolong the fight, some way he might be able to wear the general down further, knowing full well that he had no real chance of surviving.
And then he had it. It was an answer so simple, so brilliant, that he had no idea why it had taken him so long to think of it. He immediately felt ashamed to call himself a Jedi, to disgrace that Order's rich history by disgracing its name.
General Grievous, he knew, was a powerful being, a lethal warrior who'd slain countless Jedi in his brief career as the leader of the Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent System, second-in-command only to Count Dooku himself. Grievous, as all Jedi knew, was a master of the six primary forms of lightsaber combat, in addition to having mastered several variants of Jar'Kai, the form involving using multiple lightsabers, and, having faced Mace Windu himself during the Battle of Coruscant just a little of a year ago, he also had a good amount of knowledge in the Seventh Form, both Juyo and Vapaad. Yes, a master tactician and an expert swordsman, Grievous was an opponent very few Jedi could stand toe-to-toe with an survive. However, Crix realized, despite all of his skills and knowledge, there was one thing General Grievous would never have.
Switching his blade to his right hand, keeping the blade pointed down to the ground, he focused the Force around him into a powerful conduit around his left arm, allowing it to build up and strengthen as he prepared himself for his next attack, waiting only for General Grievous to get into the perfect position, the moment when his attack would do the most damage. After all, he doubted he'd get many additional chances to do this again.
And then Grievous was in position, and, releasing his hold on the Force, his left arm stretching out, a blast of invisible Force energy rocketed forward from his open palm, catching Grievous square in the chest and sending him sailing through the air, slamming into the far wall with such force that both of his blades slipped from his metallic hands, shutting off as they clattered harmlessly to the floor, and when Grievous slid down to the floor next to his sabers, the dent in the wall, the spot where he'd impacted, was so pronounced that wires and steel were now jutting out, sparking angrily as the lights overhead began to flicker on and off weakly. Allowing himself a brief smile, proud of his fledgling powers, Crix moved forward, his saber held loosely at his side, unsure of just how much damage he'd caused his foe.
"You may be powerful, you bucket of bolts, but your skills and knowledge are no match for the powers of the Force. And now," Crix said, twirling his blade and bringing it up above his head, ready for a finishing strike. "You will pay for the Jedi you've k-"
Before Crix could finish his sentence, however, Grievous's duracreet leg came out of nowhere, slamming into the young boy's face with such force that he could immediately taste the bitter, metallic blood flowing freely from his busted lips. Given no chance to defend himself, Crix found himself overshadowed by the towering figure of the black-armored warrior.
Knowing he was now in mortal danger, sensing that he might soon become one with the Force, Crix was powerless to stop his opponent as Grievous brought his left arm up into the teen's abdomen, driving the breath from his lungs as he doubled over, unable to retain control of his lightsaber, which, in turn, fell away to the floor, joining both of Grievous's own weapons. Now too weak to stop Grievous, Crix attempted nothing to stop his dark adversary as the general grabbed a handful of his Jedi tunic, lifting Crix clear off the floor, laughing mockingly at the Jedi apprentice who, they both knew, could do very little, if anything, to stop him.
"Your Force can do nothing to help you now, you Jedi scum!"
With amazing ease, as though he were but a hawk-bat's feather caught up in one of Bespin's legendary storms, Grievous threw Crix backwards, the young Jedi teenager angrily crashing through a large glass window and falling over thirty feet below to the floor of an empty storage room.
Moaning in pain, Crix forced himself up to his feet, looking up helplessly at the window he'd crashed through, knowing deep down, as Grievous came flying through the exit Crix had helplessly created, that the end of his times was approaching him, especially considering, he realized sadly, that his lightsaber, along with Mace Windu's and the other saber, and he would be dead before he could reach his weapon. Unless…
His reaction was sudden, without thought or plan, with no pre-meditation. He reached out his left hand, gathering the Force around him, and imagined that power's invisible tendrils grabbing his lightsaber firmly in its grips, and, with virtually no thought, he yanked it free of the general's hip, which had been rebuilt with a built-in utility belt, capable of holding, it seemed, up to six lightsabers at once.
General Grievous, however, had obviously anticipated just a move, for the moment the lightsaber hilt freed itself of his hip and began its flight forward, Grievous had stretched out his right hand, catching Crix's saber in his grip, and, laughing ever loud, the general closed his grip around the cylinder and began to tighten his hold on the weapon until, at last, the pommel cracked and shattered, the pressure so great that it crushed everything in its path, including, Crix realized, his heart now dropping, the weapon's famed focusing crystal, reducing it to a fine powder before it was dumped unceremoniously to the floor at the general's feet.
Not knowing what else to do, Crix decided to take the offensive once more, deciding that surprising the general would be his best decision now, when he no longer had a lightsaber to defend himself with. He charged forward, surrounding himself with the Force and concentrating it in his right hand, knowing that Grievous would have already pegged him for the left-handed Jedi he was.
It turned out, however, that Grievous had expected his sudden turn of aggression, for even as Crix was approaching him, preparing to launch his Force assault, Grievous stepped off to Crix's left, causing the young Jedi to cancel his coming attack and sail helplessly past Grievous, who, in turn, brought his right foot up into Crix's back, sending the young Jedi crashing face-first into the concrete wall.
Before he could move, before his brain could even register what was happening, Grievous grabbed the back of the Jedi's head and threw him with such force that the young teen cleared much of the room before gravity called him back down to the surface head-first. At the last moment, survival instincts kicking in, Crix used what little Force powers he could summon to avoid landing on his head, landing instead directly on his neck.
For several long, dark moments, the young would-be Jedi Knight could feel no other part of his body, unable to move his legs or his arms, fully paralyzed and at Grievous's mercy like never before.
"All too easy." Grievous laughed as, at last, he began to regain control over his body, pulling himself up to his feet shakily, staring at the mechanically-reptilian eyes of General Grievous as the monster stalked towards him.
"If it's so easy, then why am I still breathing?" Crix asked, ignoring the stupidity of teasing his foe, despite knowing how lethal poking and mocking the general could be.
"You have no chance of escape, young Jedi."
"So you toy with me, instead?" Crix asked, forcing a shade of humorous bravado into his voice. "And here I thought generals were supposed to be intelligent. Of course, there is an exception to every rule, but still-"
With a roar of rage, Grievous charged forward, and, relying solely on instinct, Crix somersaulted over the general's head, twisting as he began his descent towards the floor once more, ready to take the offensive once more. Before he could attack the general, however, Grievous spun around, catching Crix in the chest with his heavy duracreet foot, sending the young Jedi crashing down to the floor yet again.
Instinctively, going on nothing but muscle memory from years of combat training, Crix rolled over onto his back, but instead of handspringing back to his feet, as he would usually do, he found a duracreet triple-toed foot crashing towards his face, with such force that it would surely cave his skull in the moment it made contact.
With his destruction so close, Crix rolled out of the way just in time to send the general's foot crashing into the floor instead. Again, acting on instinct, not realizing the folly of his plan, Crix brought up the foot closest to Grievous, bringing his leg crashing into Grievous's leg…an act that sent pain fanning out through his body with such ferocity that he screamed out in pain, unable to help himself.
Again, Grievous picked up the young Jedi, holding him high in the air, relishing his victory over his much younger and weaker foe, knowing his victory was now complete.
Crix could sense the end fast approaching, he knew he was now only moments away from becoming one with the Force, to becoming only one more Jedi to fall at the ends of the infamous General Grievous.
Again, not knowing why, Crix, remembering his lessons as an apprentice, acted, with no thought or plan. His free left hand dropped steadily to hi side, even as he used the Force to summon Master Windu's lightsaber into that hand. With his grip around the fallen Jedi Master's weapon, Crix depressed the activation stud.
Suddenly realizing the danger he was in, thanks only to self-preservation protocols, Grievous dropped the young Jedi and leapt back, putting just enough space between them to be out of the reach of the violet, amethyst-powered bar of plasma that sprang from the pommel of Mace Windu's lightsaber. Though slightly larger and heavier than his own weapon, he still found himself adjusting to the new weapon with uncanny ease, as though he'd been using it all along.
"You should have killed me when you had a chance, general. Only a foolish rookie is stupid enough to underestimate his opponent, especially when that opponent is a Force-trained Jedi apprentice."
Grievous, in response, took his sole remaining lightsaber in hand, and, as the green blade snapped to life once more, coming up into a diagonal stance across the general's torso, a classic Form V stance of the Djem So variant, he charged the young apprentice, sweeping the blade in a left-to-right slash at Crix's midsection, an assault meant to slice the padawan in half. Knowing he would be unable to stop the sheer power and momentum behind the attack, he instead jumped back, clearing the zone of attack and causing the blade to sweep by harmlessly in front of him.
Deciding to follow up his defense with an attack of his own, Crix switched his grip on his saber hilt to a reverse Shien grip, bringing the blade upwards towards the unprotected left flank of General Grievous. The Kaleesh general, however, was ready for just such a blow, bringing his saber over his head and back down just in time to intercept Crix's attack.
Immediately disengaging the duel, Crix somersaulted backwards, but, even as he landed, General Grievous was on top of him, the green blade now launching a flurry of attacks that caused the young Jedi to hurriedly back up, using the Force to know when and where he should move, each stab, thrust, slash, and cut of the green blade passing innocently by only inches from his body.
Grievous must have realized his current mode of attack would do very little damage to his foe, he stopped suddenly with his furious onslaught and instead lashed out with his duracreet foot, catching the young teen in the abdomen and sending him skidding back several feet. Taking advantage of this new opening, he moved forward, bringing his green blade crashing down on top of the young Jedi, who, only at the last minute, brought the violet blade of Windu up above him, intercepting his foe's saber so close to his head that he could feel the energy of the weapons as they singed the smallest locks of hair.
Forcing himself to his feet, Crix held the saber-lock as it was, giving no ground, not even as Grievous attempted to push both blades back on top of the young Jedi. However, as the young Jedi already knew, his foe was superior to him in nearly every possible way. Again lashing with his right foot, Grievous brought his foot up so high that it latched around Crix's face, and with incredible ease, with a mere snap of his robotic ankle, Grievous had sent the young teenager flying across the room, Mace Windu's lightsaber slipping from his grip and shutting off as it rolled away, the purple blade gone as though it had never existed.
As he landed on his back, Crix forced himself onto his feet, ignoring the pain and exhaustion now flooding his body. As Grievous came forward, Crix charged forward, tucking and rolling along the ground as the general swung for the fences with his saber, the blade sweeping harmlessly over the young Jedi.
Now behind the surprised droid general, Crix jumped to his feet, but, even as he was prepared to launch a renewed attack, Grievous spun around impossibly fast, his free right hand balling into a fist as it streaked forward, catching the boy directly in his left eye with such force that it forced him to close the eye, the impact making it feel as though his entire socket had shattered. Not relenting, Grievous spun around hastily before bringing his droid elbow into the young Jedi's temple, causing his vision to immediately swim and swirl as the general then brought up his right leg into the boy's face, causing yet more damage.
Not knowing what else to do, now half-blind and so dizzy he could barely stand, Crix somersaulted backwards, narrowly avoiding a would-be lethal thrust at his heart by Grievous's green blade. Desperately propelling himself with the Force in an effort to put as much distance between the two as he possibly could, Crix took several deep, painful breaths.
Tentatively, afraid of the damage that had been done to his sight, he forced his injured eye open, and, to his immediate relief, he found his sight was perfectly fine, though he was sure he'd have a nice black eye as a trophy from the assault even if he survived, a possibility that didn't much appear to exist.
Before he could plan out what he might do next, Grievous was again on him, and again Crix leapt over the general's head, but, to his horror, Grievous had anticipated exactly that move, for the moment Crix was directly above the general, he leapt up, his head catching Crix in the chest, sending the young boy crashing to the ground on his back.
The wind driven fully from his lungs, Crix watched helplessly as Grievous moved to stand over him, his single saber held high above his head.
"And now, you Jedi scum, you become one with your vaunted Force!" And, laughing maniacally, he brought the weapon crashing down on top of his foe. Crix again acted, using the Force to summon the second lightsaber back to his hands, holding it just above him and activating the purple blade just in time to intercept the would-be lethal strike.
This, it turned out, was a move that was going to buy him only a few extra seconds, for, tired, exhausted like he'd never been before, his strength waning and ebbing, leaving him so weak he could barely breath. Realizing the nearness of his victory, Grievous began to push down with his weapon, and, because Crix could do nothing to stop him, the green blade started to slowly push the violet weapon down on top of him…Crix, he realized, would die not by Grievous's hand but by his own, falling to the blade of the famed Jedi Master known as Mace Windu.
Knowing his time was over, realizing that the bout was finished, Crix closed his eyes and allowed his mind and soul to drop into the Force, accepting the fate and destiny it had in store for him, knowing he'd lived his entire life as a Jedi should, even at the final moments, in the end…with that knowledge, he smiled.
Meanwhile, back at Titan's Tower, Robin and Starfire arrived at the top of their home once more, only to find Cyborg standing at the edge of a small, triangle-shaped ship. As the pair strode closer to the small craft, they realized it was a familiar craft, the same one they'd seen the boy named Crix use to make his escape following the duel with Maw.
"Cyborg, what's going on?" Robin asked as he and Starfire reached their friend.
"I don't know, man." Cyborg admitted, moving aside so that they could both see the black-and-green dome-shaped robot situated just left of the empty canopy. "I've tried everything I can think of to communicate with this thing, but nothing seems to work."
"It's him!" A familiar voice shouted as the black shadow of a raven appeared, shrinking away moments later into the familiar forms of Raven and Beast Boy, the latter of who was shivering, his hands folded over his chest in an attempt to warm himself as the pair joined their friends.
"Ugh." He groaned. "Rae, I think the next time we get an order to get back here ASAP, I'll just fly. That dark energy stuff makes me feel weird." He finished with a heavy shudder.
"Dude," Cyborg remarked, as though unable to help himself. "You're green, can change into any animal you want, and eat only tofu; you are weird."
"Where is he?" Raven asked, ignoring her friends' comments as she looked around for any sign of the small vessel's owner.
"You're asking the wrong robot." Cyborg explained. "He wasn't inside when the thing landed."
Before anyone else could say anything else, the dome-shaped robot began to whistle, beep, and twiddle loudly, as though it might be trying to tell them something important.
"It sounds frightened." Starfire commented sadly. "Like it has a case of the worries."
"I can't understand what it's saying." Cyborg repeated, bending down to inspect the robot's dome, as though he might find the answer he was looking for here. The robot, however, seemed to have a different idea, for its domed head began to rapidly spin back and forth as a small antennae popped up from one of the green hatches atop its head.
Before Cyborg could finish, however, a familiar voice began speaking from the little antennae. Recognizing an audio recording when he heard one, Cyborg said nothing as the five Titans listened to what was being said.
"Skipper, it's Crix." The voice said, speaking calmly, in a resigned voice. "Get out of here, now. Go find help and bring them back here to finish the mission for me."
A series of beeps and whistles.
"No buddy, there's no escape for me this time. It was nice knowing you, my friend."
More beeps and whistles.
"Get out of here, now! Go, before they can stop you!"
"Well," Raven said as the antennae disappeared inside of the robot's domed head once more. "That was clear enough."
"That boy, Crix, he must be in trouble." Robin answered, studying the little robot closely. "But why send him here? Why send him to-"
"He did not send him to us." Starfire explained. "He instructed his friend only to find help so that his mission could be finished."
"Star's right. This little guy must have decided we were the best hope to finish that mission." Cyborg confirmed, still doing his best to study the little bot.
"Hellllloooo?" Beast Boy interrupted, taking a step forward. "Do we even know what this mission is? How do we know it's not some kind of trap, maybe with some kind of eight-eyed, twelve-legged monster with huge teeth on the other end, just waiting for us?" He asked, half-transforming as though to prove his point. "And," He added as he resumed his human form once more. "We all know it's the handsome, comic-relief character that gets eaten first." And, as though terrified by those words, he grabbed his head desperately and began running around in circles.
"I can't believe I'm saying this, but Beast Boy's right." Raven said. "We know very little about any of this…we have no information on this supposed mission. It could be an ambush."
"Yes, and this Crix is just as big a mystery." Starfire added. "How do we know we can trust it to not be the ambush of which Beast Boy spoke?"
"We can't." Robin answered. "But we don't have much of a choice, either. If he is a good guy, then he's in trouble, and his mission may be vital to the city. If so, he needs our help."
"And if he's just another villain?" Cyborg asked pointedly.
"Then he's a threat, and the Teen Titans will take him down." Robin responded, turning to look at the dome-shaped robot. "Can you take us to him?"
Though the beeps and whistles were no easier to understand, they all knew what the answer was.
"We'll take the T-Ship, but be ready for anything." Robin ordered. "Titans, go!"
"The dark is generous. Its first gift is concealment: our true faces lie in the dark beneath our skins, our true hearts remain shadowed deeper still. But the greatest concealment lies not in protecting our secret truths, but in hiding from us the truths of others. The dark protects us from what we dare not know."
As the T-Ship flew off into the unknown, a dark-cloaked figure was striding confidently across the bay, his feet just barely touching the surface of the water as he approached the giant T-shaped building that was Titans Tower.
Night was quickly settling in on Jump City, the darkness he so loved creeping ever gently between the buildings. Beneath the cowl of his dark cloak, he allowed himself a smile. So many ignorant, foolish people believed that darkness was merely the opposite of the light, that night was what happened when the sun went down. They believed that nightfall occurred immediately, that it was something that just fell onto the city when the sun disappeared across the horizon. Because of their inferior, limited minds, none of the could understand, could comprehend the truth.
Nightfall, he knew, like the darkness itself, was a gradual thing that didn't just happen. Nightfall began well before the sun set. It was a gradual darkness that flooded in from the east, gently settling in between the towering buildings as the sun moved further west. In truth, it was such a gradual thing that very few ever really realized what was happening, not until full night had overtaken them. It slowly enveloped everything around it, seeming completely harmless until its takeover was complete.
Now at the base of Titans Tower, seventeen year-old Rand Havoc stopped cold in his track, turning to look upwards. He by far preferred the night over the day, the dark over the light, he confessed to himself.
With nightfall, he knew, the shadows took over the landscape, allowing him to move freely as he made to accomplish his goals, whatever they might be, and because they could not see him his enemies would be unable to stop him. Though his powers were derived from an ancient magic, they were bolstered by dark environments and dark emotions.
When it came to morals, however, he believed in neither dark nor light. As he'd learned from infancy, all sentient beings had the ability to do good, kind deeds, just as they had the equal ability to commit dark, horrible crimes for nearly any reason. This, in Rand's eyes, had confirmed that there was no good or evil, no light or dark, but rather there existed only power, and those too weak to take it. Your own power, he'd always known, was all you could count on. When it came down to the wire, when all the chips were on the table, you were the only person you could trust to have your back, because everyone would always turn on you, no matter how close they claimed to be.
His smile only widened as he continued to study the now-empty Titans Tower. The Teen Titans might be Jump City's local protectors, but not even they could stop him, especially when he finished here tonight. Kneeling down, he placed a hand on the ground and extended his powers through the cold earth and through the full frame of the towering home of the Teen Titans.
They weren't novices when it came to security, he admitted grudgingly. In addition to advanced security protocols and defensive weapons, he could also sense several forms of magical defenses. This, however, worried him very little. There were basic wards, barriers, and metaphysical security alarms in place, but he knew exactly what to do bypass them all. Homing in on his primary objective, he allowed his powers to now wrap around him, cloaking him in their darkness until, at last, he allowed it to eat away at him, evolving his form into nothing but a small, thick plume of smoke.
With his conscious still in charge, he directed his smoky form up the side of Titans Tower until he reached the window he'd targeted. Stopping only to double check his thoughts and confirm what he knew, he allowed his smoky form to slam into the window, doing no physical damage as he slid harmless through the class.
Still nothing but a small cloud of smoke, Rand again gathered his metaphysical energy, like a spring coil about to be released. Then, at the perfect moment, he released his hold, allowing his dark powers to flood through the entire building with such ferocity that it ate away and corrupted all magical defenses.
With his way now clear, Rand solidified himself once more, smiling as he began inspecting the dark room.
Though he was no fan of the Teen Titans, he found himself admiring her style. This room, unlike the rest of the team, was dark, something she seemed to display proudly. Her powers, he knew, were great, far too strong to waste with such a pathetic team…
He stopped, then, as a sudden blast of hot, burning-hot energy began to fill him up. Using this energy like a tracking device, he allowed it to lead him through the room, stopping only when he found himself looking down on a dresser at an ancient-looking amulet. His smile wider than ever, he picked up the amulet, turning it over slowly in his right hand as he inspected it, ensuring it was, in fact, the real deal.
"At last," He muttered, placing the stolen amulet into his pockets. "I have found it; all his dark powers shall become mine."
Turning around, he made his way towards the room's door, happier than he could ever remember. "Now, time to have a little fun."
Having set down at the bottom of a small valley, the five Titans followed the dome-headed robot to a pair of heavy iron doors, beside which was a small, unusual-looking terminal was built into the wall.
"I guess we just knock?" Cyborg asked, his face unsure as he studied the doorway. Before anyone could respond, however, the dome-shaped robot rolled up to the unusual-looking terminal, and extended an equally weird-looking jack from its bucket-like torso that fit perfectly into the jack, which began to turn as the little robot whistled and beeped softly.
A blue-white light began to shine from the projector on the robot's head, and a moment later a large, holographic map appeared in thin air.
"Wow!" Beast Boy exclaimed, moving forward. "Imagine the movies we could watch with technology like that!"
"It looks like a blueprint of some kind." Cyborg explained, holding his right arm out as he scanned the image. "I'm downloading a copy now."
"That still doesn't explain how to open these doors." Robin responded, running his hands along the iron doors, looking for some type of hidden switch or button that would grant them access.
Again, though, the little robot began to beep and whistle as the jack and terminal began to turn once more, and almost immediately the doors began to slowly slide apart.
"I guess that works." Raven answered wryly, stepping towards the door, only to have Robin stop her cold.
"Don't forget; this could still be a trap."
Before any of them could say or do anything to respond to the Boy Wonder's words, though, the little robot began to beep, whistle, and twiddle loudly, as though it might be trying to keep them there for a moment longer.
The cybernetic Titan fell quiet, however, as a new image replaced the blueprints he'd downloaded moments before. Though still a schematic of the entire base, it now showed hundreds of red dots, dots that were moving, as though-
"Hostile patrol units." Robin finished, as though he perfectly understood what he was seeing.
"Ummm…dude?" Beast Boy asked, stepping closer to carefully study the image. "Where does it say that?"
"It doesn't have to." Robin finished. "Look at their movements; precise, patterned, and, together, they cover the entire area."
"I hate to burst your bubble, but if those are enemy patrols, we can't take them all down; there's too many of them."
"Raven is correct." Starfire added, joining in on the conversation. "We are five, and they are hundreds. If we take them in the head-on strategy, we would have no boo-yah, for we would surely be defeated."
"Star's right, Robin." Cyborg added. "There's so many of them I'm not sure we could avoid them all even if we tried."
Again, the little robot began to make a series of excited whistles and beeps as it again spun the terminal jack in circles. A glowing red dot, far larger than the others, appeared just outside of the schematic area, and, less than a full second later, the sound of heavy explosions began echoing off of the mountain faces around them.
"Yeah, they'll never know we're here now." Raven said dryly as the rest of the Titan's face palmed. Cyborg, however, was closely studying the schematics.
"Boo-yah!" Cyborg screamed excitedly. "Little robot has the right idea; it looks like the explosion drew off all the patrols…we should have full access if we hurry."
"Titans, go!" Robin ordered, and, together, the five friends charged forward through the iron doors and into the dimly-lit base beyond.
"Either my sensors are wrong, or…there's virtually nobody here; I'm only picking up a single signature."
"Can you tell who it is?" Robin asked.
"Or what it is?" Raven added.
"No." Cyborg confessed. "There's too much interference and it's too far away. But I can track it and take us right to it."
Motioning for Cyborg to take the lead, Robin followed immediately behind him, the others falling into place behind the Boy Wonder.
In silence, the Titans dove deeper into the mountain base, encountering no patrols as they continued on their way. Though they still had no idea what to expect upon their arrival, they were beginning to suspect that perhaps the call for help was sincere.
"It's getting stronger." Cyborg said, nearly five minutes later, as they entered what appeared to be some kind of control room. "Someone definitely went a few rounds here."
"Looks like they didn't have time to use the door." Raven added, approaching a shattered window as she crossed through the damage-strewn room, the others quickly joining her.
Looking down, the team of friends realized they were looking into a large, empty room…well, a large, almost empty room, save for two beings, one large, mechanical warrior with a green blade of energy exactly like Crix had used against Maw, and one smaller, all-too-familiar form.
In stunned silence, they watched as the large, mechanical figured charged the battered youth who'd saved Raven earlier, only for Crix to launch himself over the mechanical warrior's head. It appeared, however, the mechanical figure had anticipated this move, for he launched himself upwards, his head crashing into the boy's chest, sending him crashing heavily to the floor before he rolled over onto his back, now looking up at his opponent.
"And now, you Jedi scum, you become one with your vaunted Force!" The mechanical foe laughed, his voice manic and demented. His green blade lifted up, he brought it swinging down on top of Crix, who, rather than just accept his fate, used his powers to summon a cylindrical object to him, a violet blade appearing as though from nowhere just in time to intercept the to-be-lethal blow.
Even from their distance, however, the Titans knew, even as the more powerful machine slowly drove both blades closer towards the grounded Crix, that the young teen had no chance of escape, and he was certainly too weak to push the pair of blades upwards and away from him.
"He needs our help, now." Robin ordered as, out of the blue, as though he was happy at what was going on, Crix closed his eyes and smiled, as though at last surrendering himself to his fate.
"I got this." Cyborg responded, and, before anyone might be able to stop him, he jumped down from the window to the floor below, taking aim with his right arm as it transformed into his patented sonic cannon. Landing softly, he homed in on his target.
"Yo, Short Stuff!" He shouted, causing the mechanical warrior to turn his head towards Cyborg, who, in turn, smiled. "Pick on someone your own size."
And, with the end of those words, Cyborg fired.
His shot caught the would-be murderer square in his side with such power that it lifted him up off the ground and sent him sailing through the air and into a far wall, and, before he could move, Beast Boy charged forward, having taken the form of a Mountain Ram, his horned head connecting with the mechanical warrior with such force that the wall immediately collapsed under the weight of such power.
"Teen Titans, go!" Robin ordered from above as Beast Boy moved away from the fallen warrior, and, with that order, the Titans charged forward, each readying their own attacks to ensure that the dark foe could do no more damage. Together, with the perfect unity that came not through training but prolonged experience, Cyborg launched a second blast from his sonic cannon, a shot that impacted the downed warrior at the same moment Robin's explosive disks and Starfire's Starbolts found their own marks, causing an explosion of such magnitude that the ground shook violently beneath their feet.
"Boo-yah." Cyborg muttered with a smile as his arm took its original form, the Titans now moving towards the downed monstrosity, confident that they'd taken him down. Apparently, however, that monstrosity had other ideas.
With a mechanically-filtered reptilian-like roar, the mechanical warrior climbed back to his feet, clearing the crumbled wall from atop him as though the debris was light as a feather. Climbing back to his feet, the robotic figure pulled himself up to his full height as he stepped back towards the Titans, who in turn readied themselves for a fight.
"Don't do it, man, don't do it." Cyborg warned, again taking aim with his right arm-turned-sonic cannon took a single step towards the downed form of Crix.
"We do not wish to harm you any further." Starfire added, taking aim with arm glowing-green hands, the same glowing-green that had taken over her eyes.
"It'll be the last thing you ever do." Raven added, taking aim with her own magical powers.
In response to their words, the robotic figure returned his weapon to a holder on his waist before making to reach into a pouch on the belt built into his hip.
"Give it up, you guys." Crix coughed, pulling himself back up to his feet, the violet blade still in his left hand and pointed towards his foe, his right hand holding his abdomen in a way that suggested he might have injured some of his ribs. "The only thing General Grievous cares about is how many people he can kill in the name of his dark master."
"I have no master, you-"
"Don't kid yourself, General." Crix countered, interrupting the robotic figure. "I don't care what the Sith have promised you, you'll always be nothing more than a high-profile errand boy with no control over his own destiny. Your best bet would be to surrender now, seeing as how we have you outnumbered six-to-one, but I don't think you're that smart."
"Do not be so foolish to think that just because you're victorious in this battle you've also won the war, because this war is just beginning!"
And with that exclamation, even as countless explosions further rocked the room, the robotic monster known as Grievous tossed the little ball in his hands.
"Thermal Detonator!" Crix shouted, extending a hand as though trying to summon his mysterious powers once more, though nothing happened.
"What?" Robin asked, taking a step towards the device as Grievous disappeared through the wall he'd inadvertently created.
"It's a grenade!" Crix amended, causing the masked hero to rush forward and kick it away from himself and his friends.
"Raven," Robin ordered, somersaulting backwards. "Get us out of here."
In response, a black dome of metaphysical energy rose up around the group of six, enclosing and protecting them from the resulting explosion of the detonator, an explosion followed by a chain reaction of smaller explosions that shook the foundation of the entire mountainside base.
When at last the dome of Raven's black energy dissipated, the Titans found themselves, along with Crix, outside the entrance to the base, standing perfectly between the T-Ship and the smaller craft Crix called his own. Before anyone could speak, though, the dome-shaped robot wheeled itself forward towards the group, beeping and whistling louder than ever, stopping only once it'd reached the battered young teen to whom it belonged.
"What is it, Skipper?" He asked, shutting off his violet-bladed weapon and hooking the hilt to his waist. Frantically, as though desperate to relay its message, the little robot again beeped and whistled loudly, not stopping for nearly a whole minute.
"A self-destruct sequence, huh? Yup, sounds exactly like something that blasted coward would do; force us to fall back, giving him time to escape and evade capture."
"Whoa, you can understand all that?" Cyborg asked, eyes wide in surprise.
"Of course I can." Crix responded, turning towards the gathered Titans. "The Skipper here's been my friend and wingman for years now. Speaking of which," He added, not turning as he spoke. "Skipper, get the fighter ready for lift off."
"Hold on." Robin interrupted, taking three steps towards Crix. "You're not leaving until we get some answers."
"Sorry, but I'm afraid the question-and-answer session will have to wait, seeing as how I have more pressing matters to attend to at the moment."
"What kind of pressing matters?" Raven asked, moving to join her friend, the pair now only a foot away from the injured Jedi.
"I-I can't explain, not right now. Suffice it to say, however, that your city, this planet, and your entire galaxy is facing a threat the likes of which you couldn't even begin to imagine." Crix explained, now striding towards his ship, where the engines were whining to life once more as Skipper worked on getting the vessel ready for travel.
"If this threat is so dangerous, then why not tell us?" Robin asked, taking a step forward as though to follow Crix. "Why not let us help you?"
Crix, however, failed to answer as he took his seat in the cockpit of his small spacecraft, silent as he fitted a one-sided headset over his head and buckled himself in.
"Thanks for your help, and for giving me one last chance to do my duty." He shouted as the craft began to hover a couple of inches off the ground.
"Titans," Robin ordered as the small triangle-shaped crafted roared into the sky above. "Follow him."
Crix sighed as the planet's blue atmosphere faded away into the blackness of space. In all his life, even in the heaviest fighting during the Clone Wars, he'd never come as close to dying as he had moments ago at the hands of the reborn General Grievous. His body begged him for rest, begged him to slow down for just a single day, but Crix, thanks to his lifetime of Jedi training, ignored the pain.
"Okay, Skipper, are the rings set?"
The little droid beeped an affirmative.
"Good. Don't forget to bring us out of hyperspace far enough away from that Relay that we won't be picked up on any sensors."
Another beep, followed by a quicker, deeper series of whistles and beeps.
"Yes, we're going through the Relay…we're going home. I have an old friend I need to talk to, someone who can point me in the right direction, someone who can give me some advice on what I should do next."
Another series of whistles and beeps.
"I figured they'd follow me." He admitted, studying the scanners in front of him. "Don't worry, though; we'll lose them once we go to light-speed."
Again, there was another short series of whistles and beeps, though these had a more inquisitive tone about them than the others.
"They're teenagers, and they're not equipped to battle the Sith or the armies they command." Crix responded. "They know nothing about these enemies or the powers they possess."
A sarcastic-sounding trio of beeps sounded through his headset, causing the young Jedi to chuckle.
"Well yeah, of course I'm a teenager, but I've been trained as a Jedi from infancy, and even I'm no match for the Dark Lords of the Sith. Why do you think we're going back through the Relay? The Order may be dead, but I do know where our last hope lives."
More inquisitive beeps and twiddles.
"Well, there's only one way to find out." He responded as their hyperspace ring at last came into view. "In the meantime, once we're in hyperspace, I'm going to place myself into a healing trance, so don't wake me up until we get to the Relay. While we're in hyperspace, I want you to study your schematics of the Relay and flag any possible weak points."
Another question formed by whistle, beeps, and twiddles.
"Only what I have to." He responded as he maneuvered his Delta-7 Aethersprite into a perfect docking position, and, once docked, he pulled the hyperspace lever back, and with a mighty lurch, the small interceptor jumped forward, stars elongated into starlines, and with that they were gone.
And thus ends the third chapter of this interesting story.
Before you go, though, there is something I want to say; part of me feels like something's wrong with this chapter, so could you guys please tell me what ya'll think, be it good, bad, or neutral? I really would appreciate some feedback. Thanks.