AN: This is my attempt at completing Qoheleth's Malachy O'More Challenge, which can be found on his profile. I don't generally release the first chapter of a story until it's completed and proofread on my hard drive, but it's been almost four months since I received the prompt, and I have enough of it written that I should hopefully be able to finish in a timely manner. For the challenge, I was assigned "Schisma Barchinonium," or Schism in Barcelona. According to Qoheleth: "It's the 44th motto on the Malachy List, and is traditionally associated with Gil Sánchez Muñoz, who moonlighted as an antipope during the Western Schism under the name of Clement VIII." So without further ado, let's get dangerous!
Disclaimer: I don't own any ancient prophecies as far as I know, nor do I own the Teen Titans.
He hangs high above the pews, lit by a myriad of colors as sunset filters through the stained glass. Blood flows down his body to land on the altar. He notices none of this.
Pain, and the voice of his tormentor— these are the only two things that exist in his world.
"Well, little boy, it's been a pleasure, but I really do have to be going. Give my regards to the rest of the Titans... not that you'll live long enough to see them."
Blackness swims at the corners of his eyes, pressure crowding out his vision. So hard to breathe. The pounding of blood in his ears almost drowns out the sound of footsteps, the creak and slam of the gigantic doors.
His one good lung can't expand. Have to move, have to get air. Trembling legs push up through agony. Two broken hands lift seven wounds, fighting for inches.
He collapses again and again. Struggles against the euphoria and fuzzy contentment that would be so, so easy. Time stretches interminably, and he loses the battle.
Everything goes numb.
"So, tell me again why it was a good idea to let Beast Boy pick our vacation destination?" The slight crackle of the T-Ship's intercom did nothing to diminish the sarcasm in Raven's voice.
"Friend Raven," Starfire's reply filtered through their headsets, "Robin assures me that there is nothing wrong with this city called Barcelona. We are all needing to do the blowing off of gaseous water after our ordeal with the Brotherhood of Evil, and in our friend's defense, he picked the locale for our vacation making every attempt at impartiality."
"Spinning a globe and sticking a finger on it doesn't exactly inspire confidence... nor does the fact that he called it Bark-a-lona."
"Hey! I learned quick enough, didn't I? Didn't end up calling it that a second time. Besides, have you even researched the place?" Pulling out a Lonesome Globe compendium on Barcelona, Beast Boy thumbed to a page with a folded corner. "The guide book says it's like gothic central over there. You'll be right at home with all the other children of the night, Rae."
The temperature in his cabin dropped to the point where he could see his breath, but it still wasn't nearly as cold as the voice in his ears. "One. I am not a goth. Two. The book is talking about architecture, not a subculture. Three. My name is Raven, not Rae or any other idiotic nickname you invent for me. Four. You will be shutting up now, because if you say another word before we land, I will teleport the two of us to a butcher somewhere in Barcelona and force feed you raw ham until the rest of the Titans find us."
A strangled noise made its way out of Beast Boy before he clapped a hand over his mouth. Even after his portion of the T-Ship was no longer an impromptu meat locker, he still glanced fearfully over at the cockpit housing the purple-haired girl every few seconds.
An hour later, Beast Boy had managed to remain silent for the remainder of the trip in spite of the fact that Cyborg had begun capitalizing on his predicament with jokes at his expense.
"So since BB doesn't seem to have any objections, I guess I'll be turning half of his room into a combination curing rack and meat-smoking area. We're gonna have the best bacon in California, not to mention nice, juicy jerky. Think of all the adorable little animals we can chow on! Pig, deer, ostrich—"
The wheel of their landing gear brushed against the ground.
"No! No no no nononono! No meat in my room, Cy!" Denials flew out of Beast Boy's mouth
like the spray of a fire hose, jumbling together into a steady stream. Thirty seconds later, he sat panting in his seat, exhausted from the verbal sprint as their plane began taxiing in.
Silence reigned for a moment, then Raven's voice reached their ears again. "An entire hour without Beast Boy's yammering... I need to threaten him more often."
Check-in at the hotel was brisk and relatively devoid of fanfare, considering that a group of five metahumans in uniform was an uncommon sight in Barcelona, to say the least. It certainly helped that Robin had been in contact with the local U.S. Consulate to communicate their plans... and was spending a considerable sum on the lodgings.
Robin, a firm believer in preparedness, had booked their suite for a day in advance of their arrival and a day after their scheduled departure. Superhero business aside, life still had a way of throwing a wrench into even the best of plans, and the extra expense was more than justified by the peace of mind it bought.
And so, at 7:35 AM local time, after a grueling flight from Jump City, the Titans first entered their hotel room.
The five teenagers had scarcely made it through the doorway when their youngest member let out an enthusiastic whoop and charged for the enormous couch. "Dibs on this baby tonight!" A twisting front handspring took him sailing over the back of the sofa and directly into a supine position sprawled across the cushions.
The remaining Titans looked at one another and shrugged.
"So..." Cyborg began, eyeing Robin, "Not that it matters much for me, considering that I just plug in my generator block and switch off, but what are the sleeping arrangements like around here?"
Robin smiled. "This is the penthouse suite— the biggest in the hotel. There are two separate bedrooms, each with a king bed."
Raising a hand, Raven began ticking off Titans on her fingers. "Then... Cyborg's taken care of. Beast Boy gets the couch. That leaves three of us and only two beds. Brilliant planning."
The Boy Wonder shifted his gaze to the ground. "Oh. Well, since you prefer your privacy and all, I guess Starfire and I could... uhh... the beds are pretty big, so, um..." He trailed off into incoherence, growing redder by the second as his boot scuffed the ground.
"This arrangement shall be glorious!" Starfire announced, spinning in a circle as she grabbed hold of Robin with an audible cracking of joints. "I have not shared a bed with a companion since the days of my training on Okaara, when we had to sleep close together in order to avoid being eaten by the ferocious and muciferous Grokthar Beast! Truly, this shall be just like the times that are old!"
All but two of the Titans indulged in some degree of jollity at the situation, and when a wheezed, "Old times," escaped from a now-purple Robin, Beast Boy fell off the couch laughing.
Their levity was cut short, however, when a deafening boom sounded outside their window. The view of the adjoining plaza was now marred by plumes of smoke and flame. As tourists ran screaming from the disaster site, Cyborg pointed to a trio of figures standing atop the clock tower, silhouetted against the destruction.
"Looks like these guys don't want us enjoying our vacation just yet," he said even as his companions began readying themselves for action.
"Then we'd better take them down quickly and get back to relaxing," their leader remarked. "Raven, teleport us to the rooftop, and then we'll plan our attack from a better vantage point."
The empath motioned for the assembled teens to circle around her, and a raven's call rang out as they were enveloped in black energy and disappeared.
AN: I cribbed a line in the intro from Demon Hunter's "I Play Dead," given that it fits the nature of the scene quite well. Also, I'm certain I've screwed up at least something regarding Barcelona either in this or future chapters; Google just isn't the same as being able to walk down the streets of a city. While a certain amount of creative license can be a good thing, I really would like to keep this as accurate as possible. If anyone notices errors, please feel free to point them out.