I do not own Teen Titans, nor do I own Bizenghast. They belong to their respective owners, and all I can claim credit for are the concepts presented in this story. For future reference, all non DC Comics-verse scenarios depicted in the story are of my own invention.
The Sunken Mausoleum - Ch. 1
As it began, much had changed for the famed heroes of Jump City, yet things remained the same in most ways. They still lived in the Tower, still went on missions, and still bickered over the laundry and whose turn it would be to get the last slice of pizza. The biggest substantial change of course was the newfound couple status between Robin and Starfire (yet not so newfound any more, as this had happened about three years ago). This resulted in the two of them acting much more as a couple should, perhaps due to Starfire's penchant to adopt as many Earth customs as possible in order to fit in; Robin seemed to be dragged along for the ride, not that he minded much.
Cyborg had just turned twenty, something that did not go unnoticed as now he could really no longer be called a 'Teen' Titan, per se. The team had decided in order to be fair to everyone that until Beast Boy, the youngest, was close enough to turning twenty that they would drop the first half of the name and simply go as the Titans. Overall the team's skills and prowess at taking down enemies allowed for a much more peaceful time in Jump City, as villains both subsided their attacks and the heroes would only need to respond to them in pairs of two or three at times of greater need.
This fact did not go unnoticed by the Justice League, who began deliberating and negotiating with Robin in order to see if perhaps they would have time to begin training a new, younger set of Teen Titans, while perhaps sending some of the team across the country on special missions. Robin was thrilled and overwhelmed with all this responsibility, something that was plainly obvious to all of his teammates, but especially Raven. Her abilities as an empath allowed her to sense the battle going on in Robin's head as he attempted to plan out every detail of everyone's lives; she spent most of her time away from him these days, not wanting to get a headache. That is, unless he wanted her wise opinion on some of these matters, in which case she politely sat and endured the waves of stress he gave off. It was in one of these meetings between herself and Robin that he gave her the news.
"Raven, there's something else I wanted to run by you... I've been discussing things with Batman and he's been having some issues with the Joker lately, and he requested some help. I was hoping you'd be available to go on a mission I was meant to do with Starfire, but I need time to help him research things from here with Cyborg. Think you can handle it? I know Star will be upset, is all..." he trailed off, feeling guilty for doing the "cutting of the couple time" as Starfire would phrase it.
Raven exhaled. More roiling hormonal emotions to deal with, except the alien princess managed to multiply her feelings tenfold the normal dosage one would expect from a teen girl. Reluctantly, Raven nodded her head.
"What does this mission involve?" she deadpanned. Robin bit his lower lip, handing her a file folder with a briefing inside. Seems like he counted on her participation already, Raven huffed internally. Before she even had a chance to open the folder and read the papers properly, Robin began talking.
"It has to do with sightings of someone browsing around one of Slade's old lair... We monitor any of his old hangouts, but this one has been showing signs of life, at least, that someone has been there doing something. Cy's scanners pick up sudden spiked disturbances in the air temperatures and although the cameras aren't picking up anything, things seem to be moving around even when we stare right at them, almost as if in an illusionary manner... You know, with your magic and stuff, maybe this is a better mission for you after all. I kinda promised I'd go with Star just because, well, you know..." he trailed off again sheepishly.
Raven smirked and set the folder down as she stood up. "When do we start?"
"Most of the disturbances seem to be occurring in what seems to be Slade's records and books. Not sure why, because you'd assume his more valuable information would be stored somewhere on an encrypted technological device. Whatever's goin' on, it's all been in this area" Cyborg pointed on the electronic map on the screen towards a specific area of Slade's lair, while Starfire and Raven made mental notes and observations of what they should be looking for.
"Just try to see if anyone's there messing with our equipment, and if they are... Well, you know what to do" Cyborg finished, closing the map and the girls took that as their cue to leave. Cyborg had assumed the role of second in command as Robin dealt with more and more Justice League related business, and he honestly didn't mind all that much. It made him feel a bit better about himself, more important than just the brainy brawny pile of circuits that he was stereotyped as.
As Raven and Starfire took off, Cyborg realized that he'd be freed up this afternoon to spend some quality time gaming with his best green bud, something that neither titan had the privilege of doing much of in these more recent times. Beast Boy, in fact, had been assigned to patrol and scout the city for potential new recruits, and was almost never around for any down time. This was taking its toll on the green changeling, but perhaps maturing him in a way. He no longer whined constantly about trivial things, something that Raven especially had begun to appreciate.
Raven and Starfire, floating across the buildings of Jump City towards the remnants of Slade's old lair, were engaging in the "girl talk" as Starfire liked to call it, and Beast Boy happened to be one of the topics.
"So you do not think that friend Beast Boy has become attractive? Most curious, Raven, as you are frequently engaging in conversation with him whenever he's around"the Tamaranian said.
"Just because I have friendly conversation does not mean I'm attracted to him" Raven muttered back. "He's becoming much easier to deal with, that's all"
"But I never asked if you were attracted to him, simply if you thought he had grown into an attractive man" Starfire said with a small smile. Raven blanched.
"That's... Ugh, Starfire, let's not talk about this and focus on the mission" she said, pointing to the decrepit mass of caved in metal which was Slade's old lair.
The two female titans entered the wreckage cautiously, Starfire's eyes glowing green to provide some light in the newfound shadow. Raven was on alert, as perhaps at any moment she would have to phase Starfire and herself into the ground if some of the metal and rubble came crashing down. They made their way through the structure, towards the record keeping room. Raven held her hand out and encased them both in her dark energy, slipping them into the room and remaining shrouded by her magic. Then they waited.
It did not take long, and at precisely 3:33 (something that alarmed Raven, but she stored the information away for future inspection) the temperature descended to a chilly air that rattled their very bones. A figure emerged from the opposite end of the room; he or she was cloaked, their robe a tattered dark brown which concealed their identity and gender. The person seemed to walk with a gait that Raven (damn you, Beast Boy, and your influences) could only describe as zombielike, making effort to step towards the tables full of books and scrolls kept and then abandoned by Slade.
Starfire nudged her, wanting her to reveal themselves in order to confront the person, but she shook her head no. She wanted to see what this thing was looking for. It finally reached the table, pushing aside scrolls that seemed to have no meaning to the entity. It picked up books, mediocre looking and blank covered, some with runed inscriptions, but tossed them aside as if they were of no consequence at all. All of this was transpiring rather quickly, Raven noticed, as it was still only 3:34. The thing suddenly stopped it's shuffling, its hands around a book that seemed to mean something to it. It turned the book over in its hands a few times, flipping the pages, and then quickly making to tuck it away into its cloak. It was then that Raven lowered her shield.
"Drop it" she deadpanned, her black magic reaching out to grasp the book before it could hide it. Starfire readied her starbolts.
"Tell us what your use of this book is, creature, and you will not be destroyed!" she proclaimed. The creature cocked its head in a way that could only be menacing, before its cloak opened and it sent out volleys of what looked like bloody and rusty bits of wire, which Starfire immediately zapped with her eyebeams. She hurled volleys of starbolts at the thing, which had sluggishly made its way back into the corner of shadow it had emerged from.
Raven made to follow it, but it sent out another wave of those wires, one which caught Starfire on the thigh. The alien screamed in agony, and Raven turned to sever it with a wave of her obsidian light. By the time she turned back to face the creature, it was gone. Placing the book on the floor next to her as she kneeled to heal Starfire, she gasped. The wound inflicted by the wire seemed to have festered and become putrid with decay in a matter of seconds. Raven grimaced, muttering a healing mantra as her cooling blue magic passed over Starfire's orange skin, healing and knitting the skin back together as if it were good as new.
"Friend Raven, I thank you. But what was that horrible monster? I have a sense of foreboding" Starfire said as she got to her feet. Raven stood with her, clutching the book.
"Perhaps this holds some answers" was her reply, and with that she phased them out of there.
Upon inspection of the book, something done with all 5 Titans present, Cyborg's scanners came up with nothing initially. "Well, the book doesn't seem to hold anything particularly supernatural at a glance" the tin man said. Raven nodded in agreement.
"There's no magical signature that I can perceive" she said.
"Then why did that thing want to possess it so?" Starfire inquired curiously. "I have never seen a simple attack so viciously dangerous" she continued, and Robin glanced down at her perfectly healed leg with a shiver as he imagined what could have been there on his girlfriend's thigh if it weren't for Raven.
"Maybe it just wanted a history lesson" Beast Boy piped up, as he flipped through the pages of the book without rhyme or reason. "Nothing in this book seems to be anything important, it's all just the history of an area in the Northeast."
"Then we'll just have to do this the hard way. Read up about everything in the book and find something that strikes us as... well, off" Robin said, determined to figure out the mystery behind the person or creature that attacked his girl, what they wanted with this book, and what they could do to stop any more potential attacks.
"Not it!" Beast Boy and Cyborg shouted simultaneously, while Raven rolled her eyes.
"I'm assuming the task will be mine, then?" she spoke in her signature monotone, snatching the book from Beast Boy. "I am the only one of us here that actually enjoys a good book."Robin dipped his head in agreement.
"Let me know what you find, Raven. I'll try to help you out by scanning any images for locations and cities in the meantime. Cyborg, forward me your scan of the book but filter out all of the superfluous text."
"So you just want the pictures? You got it, bird brain" Cyborg said with a grin, while Robin slapped his forehead in despair.
Raven had already made her way towards the couch to begin her perusal of the book, and Starfire was ushered off to her room for some R&R by her boyfriend, who then turned on his heel to head to his office in order to begin his work (not without a lengthy kiss from Starfire to send him off, however, which made him reluctant to begin his task).
Beast Boy sat on the couch next to Raven, watching her as she read for a little while. So focused on her task, Raven hardly was made aware of this as he kept quite still. She was very concentrated and at the same time peaceful, Beast Boy observed, something he admired in her at this moment when she seemed completely in her comfort zone. If only the book were more interesting, perhaps Beast Boy might have asked her something about it. They had grown closer once everything in the past few years had transpired; the End of the world was only the beginning for them.
Raven had emerged triumphant from this experience as a partially changed woman, much more tolerant and beginning to lose some of the heavily guarded repression she had forced upon herself until she had managed to lock up Rage for good and keep her under her utmost control. Beast Boy had indeed grown and matured, but the spark of this was something completely different (and something that irked Raven to no end, although she would never admit it).
Terra's return was a shock and a revelation to Beast Boy, as she had denied her identity when he had found her at Murakami High School and left him without any hope of reconciling with her. However, old habits die hard, and Terra couldn't shake her earthen powers (or what was left of them) completely, nor could she deny her place as a Teen Titan. She came out of hiding and revealed that she now had a lesser amount of potency when it came to her earth powers, but they were still there. She wanted to join the Titans again, perhaps to get another shot at her own life, perhaps another shot at the green changeling.
Whatever her reasons were, Raven did not like them, and advised Robin to send her to the Titans East. Robin took her advice, and to their great surprise Beast Boy agreed with the decision. Her rejection of him at the High School had stung, perhaps enough for him to realize that he needed to move on. He also felt that she would be better off with new people to bond with, something that Robin echoed in his decision once he informed the geomancer.
Terra accepted his jurisdiction, and over time spent in Steel City with the other Titans, she became not only an invaluable asset to their team, but developed a relationship with another elementalist. She and Aqualad had been going strong for a few years now, something that contented everyone, even Raven, although once again she showed complete indifference.
That indifference was what interested Beast Boy. He wondered what was going through her head, his boyish curiosity of the past having matured into something which he could not yet put his finger on. She looked up from her reading, making eye contact with the green boy.
"I think I might have an idea as to what we need to look into" she said, flipping the book around to reveal a page with a picture of a strange looking gothic boarding school. Beast Boy scooted closer, their sides touching as he took the other side of the book in order to examine it more closely.
"St. Lyman's School for Boys" he read out loud. His eyes were drawn to another photo, one of a very severe looking woman, 'Governess Addie Clark.' In her hands was a portrait of... herself. In the portrait of herself, she was holding a book, and on the cover of this book was a strange looking symbol. It looked like some sort of spidery insect with a spiraled tail, yet instead of a head it had a clock. Beast Boy shivered, as it gave him the creeps.
"There's something weird about that place" he muttered, and Raven nodded. Just then, Robin ran into the room holding what looked to be a printout of a newspaper clipping. He skidded to a halt in front of the two Titans, thrusting the newspaper clipping at them.
"The Second Graveyard" he panted. "A mysterious graveyard, sighted by hikers and hunters, it only appears sporadically, and all evidence of it really existing... well, doesn't exist. It's got to be what this thing is looking for, it sounds like a magical or spectral type of place. In a town called..."
"Bizenghast" Raven intercepted him, flipping the book around once more so that her leader could see what they had found. "Looks like we've got a lead."
There you have it. Even if you don't have the slightest clue as to what Bizenghast is, never fear! All will be explained (by me) throughout the story. It can be enjoyed by all who appreciate Teen Titans, gothic horror, or horror in general. And of course, all you people who enjoyed Bizenghast will get a kick out of this story as well. :) I'll be posting it in the crossover section as well as the Teen Titans one, so as to appeal to a wider audience.