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Nightstar breathed deeply as she drifted through the sky, eyes closed as she floated upon her back and soaked in the golden rays of the sun. Her shadow fell across the scattered clouds beneath her, and she ran fingers through them, cooling the warm itch of overeager starbolts. She decided that it had been too long since she had flown for the sake of doing, and made an internal promise to change that. There was a liberty in the sky that she could not convey verbally, a grand freedom that came from slipping the shackles of gravity.
She turned and opened her jeweled gaze to the distant fields that grudgingly gave way to small communities and roads that spread across the landscape like spider webs. Casting her eyes forward, she saw the distant spires of their destination peering over the horizon and she gave a glance backwards with a smile before accelerating upwards. The air begin to thin as she climbed higher, and her lungs pulled whatever oxygen that they could from the environment while her body warmed, staving off the growing chill. Above her, the sun hung like some heavy fruit ripe for picking and she remembered her earlier years when she had tried to do just that until her lungs started to burn, struggling to find oxygen.
For a moment, she stayed there, one arm outstretched and reaching before she closed her eyes and arched backwards to plummet to the Earth below. Her body went lax and the wind screamed by her ears as she passed through a cloud, gaining a coat of water and grime that she removed by heating her body. Below her, she could hear the discordant symphony of traffic and she cracked her eyelids open to angle herself towards the median. Inches before impact, she resumed control and hurtled parallel to the concrete separator between the two halves of the highway. She raced the cars, smiling at the gawking drivers and waving to any backseat passengers before finally lifting upward again, coming to rest beneath the clouds.
She twisted about to smirk at the ashen green avian who flew slightly above her, his thin beak somehow surpassing its natural rigidity to express his displeasure. Circling about him, she teased, "Actually, yes. I did. Maybe you should try it sometimes."
"Of course. Because most people are waiting their entire lives to be divebombed by a pterodactyl," Wyld said in a flat tone.
"Oh, please. You have tons of other options," she pointed out, stopping her orbiting to float lazily beneath him. She crossed her arms behind her head and smiled broader as his red eyes narrowed into a glare before focusing upon the growing towers. Remaining beneath him, she mused, "You know, I've been thinking."
"A dangerous preoccupation. About what?"
"Okay, so those roles you came up with for the teams – they're all well and good and you have most types of threats covered, but instead of just slapping 'other' on there, don't you think something like 'tech' would fit better? Somebody who knows machines and stuff?"
Without slowing his flapping, he tiled his head and was silent for a moment before he nodded in agreement. "That does make sense. I may have assumed that the alien or the human would use or at least be familiar enough with technology."
"And I mean, that kind of makes sense. Dami's pretty good with all his little gadgets, and Colin's done some actual mechanical maintenance. But not everybody's like that."
"I was raised listening to my father's stories of the Doom Patrol's exploits. The 'other' may have been slightly influenced by that."
"And that's totally fair," she said. "But since we aren't facing Doom Patrol type threats-"
"With any sort of luck."
"- maybe we should organize the team for more conventional threats."
"Then I suppose it is fortunate that this is our first stop," he noted as the grassy lawns and quaint houses were replaced by urban sprawl. The pair wove through the skyscrapers and Nightstar winked at the startled office workers before they approached an old building with a gothic design, snarling grotesques stationed at its corners to ward off evil. Wyld perched upon one and began to smooth out the feathers ruffled by the flight as Nightstar landed upon the balcony and pulled out her Communicator, checking it with a sigh.
"Jai still hasn't sent anything," she announced as she leaned upon the railing. "Do you want me to give him a call?"
"In a moment. He's likely preoccupied," he muttered. "And I would rather wait five minutes for him to finish than listen to him complain for five hours about how we interrupted his game."
"Amen," she agreed as she slipped the device back onto her belt and admired the twin cities, separated by a broad river dappled with the glow of the early sun.
Brown eyes narrowed in concentration and quick fingers slipped up to tuck several stray strands of unruly brunette hair behind his ear again. The boy, who teetered upon the verge of manhood, crouched in the shadowed driveway of a suburban home as he regarded the components carefully laid out before him. They led back into the otherwise empty garage that was situated behind the house, alongside the backyard. He wore dark jeans and a red flannel shirt, its long sleeves rolled up to his elbows and the buttons left undone to reveal the white shirt beneath it. Lean and lanky, he crouched upon thick-soled shoes, rocking back and forth as he clasped battered hands together and pressed his knuckle to his chin.
His focus was broken by the clatter of rapid footsteps and ragged, gasping breaths from behind him, and he turned slowly to regard the dark-haired boy panting in the driveway.
"Jai," he said in greeting as his friend doubled over, hands upon his knees as he tried to recover his breath. He lifted a finger in a plea for more time, and the elder smiled as he rose up and approached the short boy, a hand on his shoulder forcing him to stand. He advised, "You're going to close off your airway if you bend over like that."
"Yeah . . ." he nodded. "I – whoo – I know."
"Then stand up. Did you run all the way over here?" he asked as he guided him to the fence, leaning him against it.
Jai nodded again, finding it easier than talking, and he took a deep breath to steady himself before asking, "Have any weird kids come by?"
"You mean, besides you?"
"Weirder than me."
"Wait until you meet them," he smirked with his exclusive knowledge and the brunette's eyes narrowed while Jai became distracted with the rows of parts. "I don't know what you're working on, but I bet it runs better when it's not in pieces."
"Most things do," he acknowledged. "But I'm memorizing all the parts. All the little things and how they all fit together."
"Sounds like a blast," Jai said as he pulled a circular device from his pocket. He flipped it open and pressed several buttons before closing it and pressing it back into his pocket. Pushing off from the fence, he approached the elder boy in an attempt to appear nonchalant and wondered, "So, you been busy lately?"
His eyes narrowed suspiciously, but his lips pulled into a gentle smile as he shrugged, "No particularly. So, you been asking any weird questions lately?"
"More like answering."
"You enjoy being cryptic way too much."
"It's surprisingly fun," he admitted.
"Seriously, what's up? You're acting stranger than usual."
He glanced away, eyes searching the sky, before he looked nervously back to the brunette and said, "Yeah, see, I'm not sure I should be giving the whole pitch. They've kind of got their own way of doing it."
"What and who are you talking about?" he demanded, folding his arms over his chest.
"Oh, c'mon. Don't make me ruin it."
"Is this about driving you and your friends to a gaming convention again? I already told you -"
"That it has nothing to do with that. It's something -"
"On a somewhat grander scale."
Both boys turned towards the eagle that perched upon a branch that hung over the driveway, crimson eyes fixing upon them. Feathers dwindled away as his body began to contort and a golden girl descended from the sky, the sun framing her with an angelic gleamed before she landed upon the asphalt. Jai watched her landing with keen interest, and his breath hitched at his first personal sighting of her new outfit. His gaze latched onto the long, bared legs until she placed a hand on her hip, and a tiger seemed to slither from the tree to prowl alongside her, sickly green pelt striped with darker hues.
"Took you long enough," Nighstar accused the shorter boy. "I thought you were just going to send us the address."
He shrugged, "I figured that it would help if I was here. Especially with the intros. Blaine, this is Nightstar and -"
"Wyld. You guys are some of the Teen Titans," he interjected. "I've seen the news."
"Right. Anyway, guys, this is Blaine Allen. His family's a friend of my family, and I think he's exactly what you guys are looking for," Jai finished.
Nightstar extended her hand and said, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Allen."
He shook the slender hand that disguised inhuman strength and grinned, "How cheesy would it be if I said that 'Mr. Allen' is my dad?"
"A tad clichéd, but I suppose I can live with that," she returned with a dazzling smile and Blaine subtly observed his friend swooning at the expression. Changing his grip upon her hand, he raised it to his lips and bowed slightly to brush a kiss across her knuckles. His eyes twinkled mischievously as he lifted them towards her, evading Jai's glare as he focused on the surprised girl.
"Your mom's Starfire, right? Queen of Tamaran?" he asked. "I usually don't go around meeting princesses, so forgive me if I mess up the etiquette or something."
"Don't sweat it," she assured him as their hands separated. "I wasn't raised as a princess or anything. I mean, not exactly."
"Forgive the intrusion, but we have somewhat pressing matters to attend to," Wyld interrupted dryly, his voice a deep rumble. "And a busy day."
"I take it that that means you guys didn't just drop by to introduce yourselves?" Blaine queried as he slipped his hands into his pockets.
"Nope. We're here to offer you a place on the Teen Titans," Nightstar supplied. "Jai's been telling us that you have some pretty impressive powers, but he's kept mostly quiet about them."
"Did he now?" Blaine asked as his gaze narrowed again and slid to the dark-haired boy who chuckled and shrugged innocently. Giving a sudden smirk, Blaine blurred, and colors flashed between the rows of components that disappeared as the mixed hues flashed over them. Tools disappeared and reappeared from the work table in the garage, and the parts began to join together, rising into the form of a dirt bike colored maroon and gold. Coming back into focus, the brunette leaned against the restored craft, folded his arms over his chest, and gave a triumphant grin.
"Whattaya think?" he challenged.
"Just super speed?" Nightstar wondered, her expression lackluster. "Impulse does that. So does that Spitfire kid on the Titans East, along with all those powers."
"Geez, tough crowd," he winced, his countenance falling. With a sigh, he straightened and turned towards the bike, rubbing his hands together furiously. "Guess I'm going to have to break out the big guns."
Electricity suddenly sparked and leapt about his hands, making his hair stand on end, and he suddenly clasped the handlebars of the bike. Crackling energy circled the sleek vehicle and sped faster until it was consumed in the glow that intensified and forced the others to abate their gaze. Blaine remained focused upon the task, his brow furrowed even as his lips pulled into a manic grin. Metallic clanks and whirs emerged from the cocoon of electricity, and, after a moment, they began to dissipate, and the audience opened their eyes to gaze upon the new vehicle crouching in the driveway.
The casings about the bike now fully encased it, considerably enhancing its bulk without losing any of its sleek design or the hues. Both the prow and tail extended over the strange wheels and a tall windshield rose from the former to guard the intended rider. Its long seat appeared comfortably padded and was arranged to be lain upon, accentuating the aerodynamic style. Broad, crimson rims that lacked any apparent treads circled golden extensions as the wheels, composed of a strange material besides rubber. In the core of the bike, a ball of orange energy floated within a hollow, pulsing slightly and releasing small jolts into the walls of its confines.
Blaine patted it affectionately before looking to the Titans and spreading his arms. "Impressed now?"
"Very," Nighstar marveled as she circled the vehicle, appraising it with keen interest. "What did you just do to it?"
"I have a connection to the Speed Force – the stuff that the Flashes run on? – and I discovered that I can tap into it and kinda 'accelerate' technology and stuff," he explained.
"That's pretty awesome," she beamed and he preened slightly, pushing his chest out and standing taller.
"Glad you think so. Want me to take you for a spin?"
"Y'know, I really think we should let Wyld say his bit. I mean, they do have a busy day," Jai suggested heatedly. "Wyld, you have to get on with that whole 'world's end' stuff, right?"
"Wait, what?" Blaine blinked as he turned.
"There is a threat growing on the horizon, one too great for any single hero to stop, or any army to defeat," the tiger began. "There is still time before its arrival, but when it does, many of the current heroes will not be able to contend with it. We must begin training the new guard, the next superheroes, for what is to come."
"Okay, two things," the brunette held up the corresponding fingers. "One, that sounds really rehearsed."
The tiger shrugged, "Repeat anything enough times, and it will sound so."
"Two. You're putting all the Titans together to battle this . . . this doomsday threat?"
"And you want me to be a part of that team? To stop the end of the world?"
"I believe you're starting to catch on."
"That's . . . I mean, that's just . . ."
Blaine stopped and blew out a long breath, setting his hands upon his hips as he considered the offer. Raking his fingers through his hair, he let them rest upon the back of his head, drumming them against his skull before dropping his limb. He studied the youths before him, including Jai in his scrutiny, and he searched their faces for any sign that this was some grand prank. The tiger, as far as he could tell, expressed daunting severity, and the black-haired boy to the side wore the serious visage usually reserved for his video games. Nightstar's pleasant countenance had hardened, but she allowed it soften into a promise of support.
He released another sigh as he turned back towards Wyld and held out his arms at his side, "Look, I know the hero business. It's nothing new. But this – it's . . . it's a little over my head. All our heads . . . My dad's seen a few 'Judgement day' things. Maybe he can – I mean, maybe it won't -"
"It will. If we cannot, do not, stop what is coming, nobody will. And the world shall burn for our failure," Wyld intoned, voice brooking no room for dispute. His stern stance faded slightly and his gaze dropped away as he continued in a tone tinged with melancholy, "I have seen it."
Somehow, he could see the sorrow and fear dance across the feline's face, and he wondered at it before realizing that all eyes were upon him once again. Flickering his gaze between them, he focused upon the tiger and crushed his eyelids shut, shoving his hand forward. Before his resolve could flee him, he declared, "All right. I'm in."
Slender fingers pressed a ridged circular device into his palm and then circled his hand, offering a comforting squeeze before releasing. He opened his eyes to the 'T' emblazoned upon the Communicator staring up at him. Lifting his gaze to Nightstar, he searched for his voice as she nodded encouragingly and placed a hand upon his shoulder to offer a comforting squeeze.
"Welcome to the Teen Titans."
He looked back to the Communicator and gave a jerky nod, "I, uh, I – Yeah. Thanks."
Wyld slid forward, his body flowing with an almost water-like quality as he looked up to the brunette. "We are still organizing the team you will be placed upon. You have time to prepare yourself, inform friends and family -"
"Oh, crap," he snapped, eyes suddenly widening as he looked up. He pushed a hand through his thick hair as realization and terror dawned upon his expression. "I need to talk to my dad. My mom. Oh, geez. She's gonna kill me. Look, I'm still in, but I need to – y'know."
"Do as you must," the feline nodded, and Blaine gave an appreciative smirk before disappearing in a blur. Jai eyed the modified motorcycle speculatively, fingers dancing upon his thighs.
"So, you two need any more help or anything?"
"Nope. You've done plenty," Nightstar shook her head, and he managed to tear his eyes away as she began to rise into the air. Wyld twisted into an eagle and circled about her as she continued, "We're headed out a ways from her. We'll see you later."
"Yeah, yeah. See you later," he returned as he focused back upon the vehicle and licked his lips anxiously.
The city gleamed in the sunlight, a shining spectacle that was free, at the moment, of any superhuman or supernatural threats. No interplanetary conquerors, giant robots, monstrously powerful metahumans, or even common criminals menaced it, and the citizenry celebrated by emerging to bask in the daylight and each other's presence. They greeted each other warmly as they passed on the sidewalks and the traffic flowed smoothly, free of enraged shouts or blaring horns. Shadows seemed to flee from the light that filled every street and alley, and the people walked without fear through the passages. Everywhere throughout the city, painted on walls, worn upon attire, and decorating signs, was a sigil resembling a shield marked with an 'S.'
"This place is so weird," Nightstar said of Metropolis as she stood upon the ledge of one of the skyscrapers. At her side, the giant bat paused in its release of ultrasonic screeches and turned to regard his friend curiously.
"I don't know. I was raised in Gotham," she shrugged. "Even during the day, it feels dark there. Here – well, it's just kind of blinding."
"Your eyes adjust. Can I help you two with something? The squeaking's starting to get annoying."
They both turned, Wyld instinctively sprouting a spiked tail, and looked to the voluptuous blonde floating above them, attired in a flattering uniform of red and blue marked with the famous shield. Nightstar gaped, "S-S-Supergirl!"
"Don't steal my shtick," grumbled the changeling as his tail retracted.
The blonde arched a brow and crossed her arms over her chest and said, "Actually, it's Superwoman nowadays. There's been a new Supergirl for about . . . oh, three years or so."
"That's – yeah, I know," she flushed. "It's just you – well, you're the original."
"She's a fan," supplied the shape shifter, ignoring the sharp glare from his friend.
Giving a soft smile, the Kryptonian relaxed her strict stance and descended to stand upon the balcony with the youths. Her costume had changed little since she had first worn it, and she favored its simplistic approach even if the skirt garnered more attention than she liked. She was pleased to see the unnaturally large bat adjust himself to meet her gaze and she fixed a stoic expression on her face once again.
"What are you two kids doing up here anyway?"
There was a moment of silence in which Wyld waited for Nightstar to answer, and upon realizing that she was stricken with paralysis at the proximity of one of her idols, he cleared his throat and said, "We were attempting to contact Superboy. We were hoping to offer him a place upon the Teen Titans."
"Ooh, I knew you two looked familiar," she brightened and lifted into the air again. "Wait right here. I'll go get him. He's been watching you guys on the news like a sad little puppy."
She soared away, arching high overhead before descending back towards the city, and as she reached speeds that Wyld could never hope of touching, he mused at how she still seemed slow in comparison to Impulse. He ceased his contemplation as he turned towards his friend, her eyes still following Superwoman and her mouth hanging open. A small snicker escaped his mouth, and most people would have missed it, but her jaw closed and her eyes hardened as she scowled down at him.
"What?" she demanded.
"Nothing," he answered innocently. "I was merely reflecting on how curious it is to be the socially functional one."
Before she could offer a retort, Wyld's head swiveled away and his gaze fixed upon a growing speck that was rocketing towards them. She followed his stare and apprised the stocky boy who stopped his flight in the open air before the building, bobbing as he drifted closer. His muscular form was encased in a suit of white with the famous shield emblazoned in scarlet upon his broad chest. Its boots were dark blue and red gauntlets encased his forearm while lines of the same hue arched over the outfit in geometric designs. Warm, brown eyes, which Nightstar found adorably puppy-like, softened his chiseled features and dark hair brushed across his brow, the wind playing through it. He hovered before them with a lack of surety and offered a crooked smile in greeting as he stopped just before the edge and spoke, his tone deep and resonant but still touched by his youth.
"Umm, Superboy here. Sorry about not answering earlier. Aunt Kara said that you wanted to talk to me?"
"Right," the black-haired girl nodded, shaking away the lingering effects of her awe. She beamed at the boy and began, "My name is Nightstar and fuzzy here is Wyld. We're from the Teen Titans."
"Yeah. I've caught some of your work on the news. That was a really impressive job with that alien invasion."
"Thank you. Anyway, we're looking to sign up some more people. Any chance that you're interested?"
"In joining the Titans?" he asked, his eyes widening.
"Actually, we're looking to start a knitting club. Somebody suggested you had super-knitting powers," Wyld muttered. Superboy regarded him confusedly and the bat lifted himself from where he had splayed across the roof and said, "We want you to join the Titans. It provides an opportunity to connect with other young heroes, learn new techniques and means of combating villains, and to save the world from an oncoming threat."
"But you – you really want me to join?" he asked in continued disbelief.
"The Teen of Steel? I suppose that you could be of some use," he waved a wing negligently. Nightstar nudged him roughly in the ribcage and he hissed at her before settling back against the roof as she lifted towards the boy.
"You've been doing this for years now," she pointed out and smiled at his startled expression. "You aren't the only one who watches the news. You're pretty impressive on your own. Even if you didn't have powers, we would want that experience in the Titans. Somebody who knows heroing and can teach it to the newer kids."
She paused for a second before admitting, "Though the powers are a nice bonus."
He smiled sheepishly and paused before glancing back from the way he had come, seemingly listening to something before looking back to her and smiling brightly now.
"Okay, I'm in."
"Then, let me welcome you to the Teen Titans."
She pulled an extra Communicator from her belt and passed it to him, and he held it gingerly as he stared awestruck at it. Opening it cautiously, he grinned as the screen greeted him before looking back up as Nightstar continued, "You'll have a few days before we're all set up with the rest of the team. You can go ahead and make whatever arrangements you need, and we'll give you a call. If you need to, go ahead and contact us first. Sound good?"
"It sounds great," he gushed as he closed the Communicator. He rose into the air and began speaking largely to himself, "I need to go start packing . . . And tell my friends that I might be leaving for a while . . . And figure out what to do about my chores . . ."
Nightstar chuckled fondly as he departed, zooming back towards his home, both oblivious to the cautious eye that Wyld turned upon their newest recruit. Since his youth, he had fought with his darker impulses, and whether through a facet of his empathy or his familiarity with the struggle against his, literal, inner demons, he had seen that Superboy carried a similar burden. There was something he hid from the rest of the world, something buried within the recesses of soul that he struggled to keep from the light of day. Some creature lurked behind the kind eyes, a beast that was carefully testing its binds and checking the locks that kept it in place, waiting for a single moment of weakness to break free.
He had found another monster.
More characters! Because we clearly don't have enough. By the time Ty and Mar'i are done, they will have another team assembled.
Sorry this is out so late, but the tablet we pass around decided to stop sending emails, so we had to type everything up again. Fun.
Anyway, please review!