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"Mar'i, what in the world are we doing out here?" Robin grumbled, keeping himself entertained by flitting between the shadows that populated the dockyard. Abuse, attired in his usual trenchcoat and hat, had used his strength to arrange the crates to form a throne for himself that he lounged upon, tossing jelly beans one by one into his mouth. Completing the trio was a teenaged girl with smooth, light orange skin and ebony hair who hovered in the air, her pretty face twisted into a scowl directed at the hooded Boy Wonder. Her toned body was budding and already attracting the attention of most of her peers and her outfit made the effort to showcase it, a black long sleeved shirt and pants with purple accents that left her lean abdomen bare.
"It's Nightstar when we're in costume. How many times do I have to tell you before it gets through your thick skull?" she snapped, a brief scowl hardening her otherwise angelic face.
"'Thick skull?' Like you're one to talk," he groused, pausing to glare up at her from the expressive domino mask.
"Pipsqueak," she taunted.
"Airhead," he growled.
"Sexual tension!" Abuse roared, causing both of them to jump as he threw a handful of jelly beans into his mouth and crunched on them with a broad grin. "Gotta love it."
Nightstar blushed, an interesting warming of her skin tone that hovered between orange and crimson like heated metal, while Robin snarled at his friend, "You need to have your eyes and your head checked out because there is definitely something wrong with you."
He shrugged and chuckled before stretching his massive body and sighing, glancing back towards the spires and towers of Gotham City. Heaving another sigh, he lolled his head back and wondered aloud, "Hey, why didn't we bring Nell along? Then I'd at least have somebody to snicker with at you two."
"Batgirl's got parent stuff tonight. She couldn't make it," Nightstar explained.
"Oh, what a tragedy. To think that she missed out on this deliriously exciting endeavor," mocked Batman's protégé, earning a glare and low power starbolt from the human alien hybrid.
Folding her arms across her chest, she said, "Look, an old friend of mine is coming to town and he asked me to bring you guys along."
"Why?" Abuse asked between jelly beans.
"I don't know," she shrugged, "He's wasn't – well, isn't too big on talking. Still, he's a good guy."
"You're far too kind, Mar'i."
All eyes flickered to the container several feet away from Nightstar where the voice that sounded like velvet trying to cover gravel had called out from and they stared at the peculiar cat that was lying on his belly as though resting. He was a sleek creature of ashen fur tainted by a faint green as though moss was growing within the silky hairs. There was a faint crimson glow to eyes devoid of pupil or iris and as they all blinked at the cat, he tilted his head, regarding them with equal curiosity. Then Nightstar squealed with delight and opened her arms for the animal to bound into, which he did so willingly despite the inhumanly strong hug it was then subjected to. She twirled through the air, descending towards the ground as her friends looked on as though she had lost it.
Abuse's eyes flickered towards Robin, who looked equally astonished and perplexed, and he stood partway between a combat crouch and a relaxed stance. He brought a sledge sized hand up to push his hat up slightly and scratch at his stony forehead before pointing out, "Ummmm . . . that cat . . . i-it just talked. Right? I mean, I wasn't imagining things, right?"
"And why does it get to call you 'Mar'i?'" Robin demanded
"First off, he is not a cat. Usually. Though, now that I think about it," she paused, frowning, and then looked down at the cat in her arms who met her gaze evenly, "I think you've been human less than anything else around me. Oh, and secondly, he doesn't know that I became a hero, so as far as Ty's concerned, I'm just Mar'i."
"Ty?" questioned the young behemoth.
"Short for Tyson," explained the feline as he hopped from his friend's arms. He arched his back, performing the typical cat stretches and then glanced back towards the ebony-haired beauty, "And there's nothing 'just' about you, Mar'i."
"Damn," Abuse whistled, "He's good. So what's the talking not-cat want us for?"
"We're going to have to get this out of the way, aren't we?" he sighed. Before an explanation could be demanded for his musing, bones cracked as muscle and flesh tore, and the cat twisted into a bipedal stance, lurching about for a minute as its body swelled. Both the boys stepped back, horror painting Abuse's features beneath his hat, but Nightstar merely winced at the more prominent pops and tearing sounds. Standing several inches taller than the hybrid, the beast ceased his growth and his features became mostly human. Leather armor inscribed with runes carrying the silver glimmer of magic covered his torso with matching gauntlets and greaves on the respective limbs. Pants that flowed into the leather greaves were equipped with several leather straps to afford protection without entirely hampering mobility covered his legs. Claws, nearly talons, tipped his fingers and toes, which were left bared, revealing thick skin that was the same strange mix of moss green and ash grey of the cat's fur. Hesitantly, he reached up and flicked down the hood that obscured his face, revealing an elfin face with angular features and extended ears. He opened his mouth, revealing elongated canines and gave a jerky nod of his head.
"S-s-s-see? H-human. . . . Mo-mostly," he conceded and he tried to give them a grin. His teeth were normal enough aside from pronounced canines but suddenly his mouth was bristling with fangs that he panicked over and quickly tried to cover. The boys arched their brows and shared a glance as Mar'i streaked forward again to capture him in a hug, giggling excitedly.
"Oooooohhh! It's so good to see you! And I mean the actual you, not another animal," she squealed.
"I am an animal," he stated simply.
She held him out at arm's length as though he were still the same weight as a cat and she admonished, "You know what I mean."
"True," he gave a soft grin that she returned before finally setting him down. He glanced toward her other friends but looked away when their eyes met and squirmed uncomfortably under their gaze before he began to explain, "I-I'm sorry t-t-to c-cause any inconvenience, b-but there is a t-t-th-th- Curse it all!"
His roar caused them to jump and a batarang sprang into Robin's hand while Abuse balled his fists, but Ty's rage quickly abated as the silence was filled with the grotesque, visceral sounds of his shifting. In his place hunched a powerful gorilla, the unique coloration consistent throughout his forms. He lifted a hand, which could have nearly wrapped about Nightstar's waist, to illustrate his point as he continued, "As I was saying, there is a threat coming. I haven't pinpointed the exact date, but it'll be too late for the current world's protectors. They will be ineffectual or old or . . . dead."
Abuse's hand shot into the air and Ty stared at it, blinking infrequently, until the large youth finally lowered his arm and asked, "Okay, I gotta ask . . . uh, what's up with the monkey suit?"
"Gorilla beringei graueri. Eastern lowlands gorilla," he corrected immediately before glancing away and muttering under his breath, "And it's . . . more comfortable."
"What?" Robin narrowed his eyes in confusion.
"It's more comfortable," he rushed and maintained the momentum as he rolled into the continuation of his speech, "Regardless, this threat will bring the world to its knees. Our generation is powerful but we are spread thin and have no connection aside from small alliances. We are all so sure that we can handle ourselves. And that will be our end. Earth shall be lost unless we can change things."
"Who's the enemy?" demanded the dark haired boy.
"I . . . don't know," Ty admitted.
"How much time do we have?"
"I already said I don't know."
Robin nodded slowly, his face solemn before he asked, "And how did you find out about this attack?"
"Visions," he scoffed. "Well, at least we're going on something substantial."
"Back off, Damian," Nightstar scathed.
"I came along to humor you. To cease your incessant whining. But now that I've confirmed that this is a fool's errand, I'll be taking my leave to stop actual crime. Not pipe dreams. Let's go, Colin."
Abuse glanced between his departing friend and the floating girl and massive gorilla, his crisis obvious as he pleaded, "D, hold up. Let's hear him out. Even if the threat's not real, I think he's onto something."
"Good for him."
"We're rebuilding the Teen Titans."
The steady words of the ape gave Robin pause and he glanced over his shoulder to the suddenly beaming Abuse and gaping Nightstar. He gazed into the blank eyes with their eerie glow and slowly smiled.
"I should warn you . . . I don't play well with others."
This story takes place approximately twenty years after the events of A Clean Slate. All the characters featured in this story will be from the DC universe though some will have undergone massive changes to make them fit. Not worse than much of the bastardization committed in the New 52.
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