ALL-STARS TEEN TITANS

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: PROJECT X, PART II

Robin, with his new project X suit, sat on the rooftops, staring down below at the city. He had been scolded by his teammates earlier, after what they perceived to be going too far. But to Robin his teammates weren't going far enough. "What are they thinking, I'm their leader, I know what's best…and the best is for Deathstroke to go, he requires all attention, nothing else matters. And if they won't help me find them, I'll do it myself. Who needs them." Robin growled.

Robin heard an alarm in the distance. A jewelry store was being robbed. "But first I need something to vent some frustration." Robin said as he jumped from rooftop from rooftop heading for the source of the commotion. As he neared he saw a thief in a red hoodie escape to the rooftops with the loot in his backpack. "This one's not going to get away from me."

The Hood (that's how he'll be referred to for the moment) jumped from rooftop to rooftop, getting away with the gems he stole. He was suddenly stopped in his tracks when Robin used the Xenothium belt of his suit to reappear in front of the Hood. "No robber gets away on my watch." Robin said to the Hood.

"Nice magic trick. But it takes more than cheap gimmicks to catch me." Hood said as he unzipped his hoodie, revealing a tech suit underneath it. Unlike Robin it was sleeveless, though he had wristbands with several tools on it as well. He aimed out one of his arms and shot a disc out at Robin, who countered by tossing an X-shuriken, the two shattering each other on impact.

Robin turned the X's on his wrists back into blades and lashed at Hood, who dodged all the swipes of and sported blades from his wrists as well and started countering his moves. However, Robin was pushing him back due to his enhanced physical attributes, but Hood was no idiot. "I was already warned I may run into the likes of you."

"Someone warned you? Who was it? Was it Deathstroke?" Robin asked furiously.

"That would be telling, would it? If you can catch you I might tell you!" Hood said as he pressed a button on his belt, letting out a flash that blinded Robin as Hood would be getting a head start over the rooftops. Robin gave chase, and due to his enhanced abilities he would run faster than normal and catch up to Hood.

But Hood didn't come unprepared. Under his boots, several rollerblades came out as well as some jet boosters, so he could rapidly get ahead of Robin. "What's the matter, birdboy? Can't fly fast enough?" Hood taunted.

Robin wouldn't be outclassed by a mere punk of a thief. He used his belt to teleport himself closer to Hood and tackle him down, tangling with him and cutting off the boosters and wheels from under his boots; He had the crook pinned down. "Now you'll talk."

"If you want me to say something, I'll speak. But I'm warning you, it's going to be shocking!" Hood said as he zapped Robin with a shock device in his gloves, knocking the bird boy off him. "Good try though, but you're not quite there yet!" Hood said as he got away again. From the back of his own suit came a pair of wing-like objects so he could glide over the rooftops, out of Robin's reach. "I'm a better flyer then you are, and I'm not named after a bird!"

Robin growled as he tossed several x-shuriken at Hood, but he barrel rolled to dodge them all. Robin lost patience once again as he teleported and jumped on top of Hood, taking him out of the sky and crashing him on a rooftop, then shooting an X that pinned his arms to hid body, and then pinning him down below him. "No more tricks. You know something about Deathstroke and you are going to tell me!" Robin shouted.

"You really have quite the temper. I was warned about it. But you were the most fun I had in a long time, you're good, you're really good. Only problem, a bit too one-track minded." Hood kept mocking.

"Don't change the subject! Tell me everything about Deathstroke or I'll slit your throat." Robin said as he held one of the x-blades at Hood's neck like he said.

"Ok…you must know that everything I did was so that Deathstroke could study you. He just offered me a challenge and I took it. Nothing more." Hood said.

"Where is he now?" Robin asked.

"I don't know, he brought me to his lair once, but I was blindfolded, I got headphones and other senses were blocked off so all I could do was breathe through my mouth. Wish I could have told you though, I really wanted to see how with that temper you'd do anything to the one-eyed guy." Hood said, oddly casual and calm through it all.

Robin roared in frustration as he raised one of the blades and readied it to put it through Hood's skull, but Hood was saved in time when Robin's fist was caught by Starfire. "Robin, that is enough!"

"What are you doing? I had him! He knows about Deathstroke." Robin said as he tried pulling loose.

"We heard…and we heard he knew nothing. It's enough, the guy is a thief and we are going to arrest him, there is nothing else you'll be getting from him." Cyborg added, appearing alongside Beast Boy and Raven beside him.

"He says he doesn't know anything, but I don't believe him. Besides, he's so smug and calm, he knows something but he thinks I can't force him to tell. But he's wrong. I am going to make him sing like a canary." Robin growled.

"I like being a canary better than a Robin." Hood joked.

"You are supposed to be a hero, an example to the people. What you're doing is not setting example. You are acting like a bad guy more than this hooded guy is." Beast Boy said.

"You know you are doing wrong when Beast Boy is starting to make sense." Raven added.

"I am trying to do something about Deathstroke. You are taking things too easy, messing around thinking that after Roark Deathstroke is going to be a small fry. You guys are lax, and I can't believe I thought that I could whip you into shape of a great superhero team. But I don't need you. You can take the crook as far as I care, I'll handle Deathstroke on my own." Robin said as he let go of Hood.

Starfire grabbed Hood by his collar. "Hey, thanks for the save, sugar. Say, why hang around with this dick, and instead date a real bad boy like me, who hasn't gone total loco." Hood flirted.

"I have more than enough crooked Earthlings court me for one day, so I advise you to keep silent." Starfire said as she shook Hood around a little to shut him up.

"What's gotten into you. Yes, Deathstroke is a threat, but you are crossing lines you didn't dare to cross before. And you faced Gotham's rogues, so what makes Deathstroke different?" Cyborg asked.

"I was unable to touch him, even less then Roark. But now I will, I'll show him that I'm no pushover, no one shall see me as a pushover again." Robin said.

"You are doing this in a misplaced form of pride? I thought you were more than. When I first came to this dimension and met you guys I thought you were more…and while I still want to give the rest of you guys benefit of the doubt but in your case I definitely was wrong." Raven said.

"I didn't even know you could feel anything like disappointment. You never feel anything." Robin bit back.

"You had no reason to say that to her. You were unnecessary hurtful out of nowhere!" Beast Boy growled, baring his fangs.

"Stand down, pet. Real people are talking right now." Robin spat back.

"Hey, that's my little bro you're talking about." Cyborg said, growing frustrated with Robin as well.

"This is too good, are there any snacks with this show?" Hood asked.

"You will remain silent I say!" Starfire said.

"Sorry toots, can't resist. Can't also resist a good psyche-out!" Hood said as he clicked his heels, a taser spouted from one of his boots, zapped Starfire, making her let go of him. Then he fires a grapple from his wrist, which rips the belt buckle of Robin's suit and grabs it. "That teleport trick can make my job in the future a lot easier. Thanks for the gift!" Hood said. He placed it on his own belt buckle, pushed a button and was ready to vanish.

Robin tossed an X-shuriken at Hood, but he vanished just as the shuriken would hit him, and instead headed towards Starfire, who was still stunned, but luckily Raven used her telekinesis to pull her out of the way, and instead the shuriken cut clean through a metal pipe.

"Dude! You could have hit Starfire! And that's unusually sharp for something you use. It could have cut off someone's limbs." Cyborg said.

"If I had to do that to prevent him from running away…but too late, my only lead towards Deathstroke and because of you I lost him. All you seem to do is get in my way from the start." Robin growled. "You were all a mistake, the Titans are a mistake."

"The Titans were no mistake, taking you on as our leader was the real mistake. If you aren't fit to think straight, we have no choice to kick you out." Cyborg said. Beast Boy, Raven and even Starfire agreed to this.

"So you're sending me away? Fine! I don't need you anyways. I was fine on my own before, I'll be fine on my own again." Robin said.

"Yeah, that's what you said when you left Batman." Beast Boy said, fed up. Robin turned around at him. "You are trying to prove yourself by taking out the biggest bad guy to show you're not inferior to him? To prove you're not a mere sidekick? Is that it?" Beast Boy didn't mean to be hurtful, but Robin was pushing the others to the edge…and so was he.

Robin rushed at Beast Boy and readied the blades on his arms, ready to cut at him, but Beast Boy turned into a gorilla and grabbed his wrists. Robin kicks him in the face to make him let go as he then delivers another roundhouse and knocked Beast Boy back. Beast Boy turned into a bull and charged at Robin, who shot an x-shaped projectile that tied down his legs and made him trip.

"Oh no you didn't!" Beast Boy said, coming to the defense of his friend as he readied his sonic cannon and fired. But Robin did a few backflips to dodge, then jumped up, landed on Beast Boy's back and short-circuited him by planting a specialized X on his back. "What the…oh no you didn't just do that either."

Raven didn't want to stand around and watch. "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!" she shouted as she pulled down several nearby metal pipes to wrap around Robin, but he cut them all to ribbons. "Azarath, Metri…" Raven chanted again but he fired an X, that gagged Raven, as she was unable to finish her spell. Okay, she can do a few non-verbal spells, but those were weaker. But that was interrupted when a metallic X shot at her hands, wrapped around them, like a pair of cuffs…Nth Metal cuffs, since she no longer could use her magic.

"Robin…I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, but what you are doing is taking away said doubts!" Starfire said as she fired several concussive starbolts, but Robin was quick and agile enough to dodge. He fired another X, which turned into some kind of goop. Starfire found she couldn't break the goop, no matter how much force she put behind it.

Cyborg couldn't move because of his circuitry being disabled. Raven's magic was completely blocked; Starfire was trapped and Beast Boy tried shifting shapes many times but the binds adapted to any of his animal forms. "Don't bother with any of them. These were specifically designed to hold you." He said.

"You had something to neutralize us? Why would you even had those for your own teammates?" Beast Boy asked.

"I had them the day you set foot in the city. Didn't know if I could trust you. I was right. You turned on me. So I put my contingency plans to good use." Robin told them coldly.

"You attacked Beast Boy, after he was right for calling you out on your behavior, we didn't turn on you, he attacked in self-defense…I used to admire you as a warrior, on par with my own people, but you are no warrior worthy of any title." Starfire said sadly, tears in her eyes.

"I do what I have to take any criminal down, no matter what the cost. If someone of a proud warrior race like yours can't get behind that, then you are a poor race of warriors. I'm leaving now, and I'll give you one warning: don't get in my way again or I'll make sure to use lethal versions of my contingency. I promise that." Robin said as he rushed off, jumping from rooftop to rooftop.

Later on, the effects of Robin's tool on Cyborg wore off, as he managed to get moving and release the rest of the Titans from their bounds. He was kind of fearful of Raven's reaction as he ripped off the sticker of her mouth, but while it seemed she'd explode in, he was grateful as she afterwards gave a dull and admittingly humorous 'Ow!' later on.

"I can't believe that guy anymore. He dumps us, he goes over the edge, tried killing some dudes, he attacks us…after all we've been through and he says he never trusted us and never wanted us. Well he can go to heck for all I care." Beast Boy said, angry, but at the same time hurt.

"People think they're doing right, but they go far in their endeavors to ensure justice, failing to acknowledge their own wrongs. I've seen it before a lot. It happens. He just wasn't strong enough to resist. Nothing we should be upset about." Raven said, like she wouldn't care. But a weird hair twitch and a busted fire hydrant due to black energy proved otherwise. "What?"

"I can't believe it has come to this. The very team he founded, he no longer cares for. I though we finally found our place in this weird universe. Guess it was not meant to be. We can still be Titans, but is there any reason to keep it up without him? He's no longer the person he was." Cyborg said.

"You are correct…" Starfire said sadly, but suddenly she started thinking. "You are correct, he is no longer the same person. This change…it is not logical. For him to change paths this drastically in a short time. No, I refuse to believe this is the same Robin we first learned to know. I am certain there is something, an outside force influencing him." Starfire said.

"It's a drastic change for sure, but how can we tell it isn't genuine?" Beast Boy asked.

"You may deny, but you refuse to believe this as well…Robin has gone after Deathstroke alone when we dealt with Roark, who says nothing will have happened since then? Something that could have influenced him?" Starfire said.

"You are going by a longshot here. What would Deathstroke have to gain by turning Robin into…that?" Raven noted.

"If Deathstroke would have wanted Robin dead, would he not have done so already? No, our friend Robin is still in there but something clouds his mind, and we are going to find out what, and we will cure him." Starfire said, firmer than she ever sounded.

"Doesn't that sound a bit too hopeful?" Cyborg asked.

"Were we not too hopeful when we thought we could be a superhero team that could inspire the people of Blüdhaven or rid the city of the corrupt rulers and law enforcement?" Starfire said.

"She has a point, you know." Beast Boy said. "You know, we had some good times too, and it'd be sad to lose them like this. I want to give it a go, find out the source of this odd change."

"Wherever my bro goes, so will I. You Rae?" Cyborg asked.

"It's not like I have anywhere else to go, or anything better to do." Raven muttered.

"It is settled then. The Titans are not done. We are going to save one of our own. Together!" Starfire said as she reached out her hand. The rest put their hands on top of it, all saying "Together!" at the same time.

"Very nifty thing. The payment is nice, but I don't think I will be able to come up with a thing like it myself. Your doc wants to study it though while I would love to use it in my heists." Hood said. He had given the Xenothium belt to Deathstroke, who let Desmond study it.

"Not so sure about that. You have given me better data then I could hope for." Deathstroke said as he pulled out a duplicate of the Xenothium belt. "I had some own Xenothium reserves lying around. And you deserve a little extra. I'm in a generous mood. You sure I can't interest you in a permanent employment?"

"I normally don't like taking orders. I did it for some dough and some fun. But I am grateful for your payment. Maybe we can do business again in the future. But for now, I think I have enough to take a long vacation, may be a while before I'm in Blüdhaven again." Hood said as he wrapped the belt around his waist.

"Ok then, but if you change your mind, I'll know, and I'll find you to make the proposition again. But for now…Mr. Wintergreen will let you out. Just have fun on your vacation." Deathstroke said. Hood was led out by Wintergreen.

Desmond was weary as he told Deathstroke: "The kid could compromise everything, you let him go like that? And give him the prototype? Why for?"

"Like Robin he interests me. Just not as much for the moment. But it's handy to have something to fall back upon once it shouldn't work out with Robin. But even if he were to blab, even if he got some sensitive info after all the work I did to make sure he knew as little as possible, I can deal with him myself." Deathstroke said as he pulled out his katana and studied the shimmering blade. "I just leave my options open…"

TO BE CONTINUED