Hope. That was the first thing she felt, the only thing she felt. It was this sudden, joyous feeling that lit up her world after it had spent so long in deep darkness. It seemed as if a great weight had been lifted from her and she was now flying.
Pain. That was what she felt next. It was pain so unbearable that she thought it might never end, and somehow, deep down, she knew that it never really would. The light left her, and gravity regained its hold on her, and she crashed down onto the cold, hard ground.
Every muscle ached. Every bone felt as if it had been shattered. Her skin felt raw. She fought back tears as she gasped for breath with lungs that felt as if they had been crushed. She longed for the hope that had cruelly left her as suddenly as it had come.
As she lay still, not daring to move, memories flooded back to her, causing a fresh wave of tears to stream from her eyes. More pain.
My name is Terra. I have done horrible things.
Terra, as she now remembered her name, cried harder and wished for the memories to stop. She would prefer to forget. She didn't know where she was or what was going on, but she almost wanted to stay confused. She longed for the bliss that came from not knowing and remaining innocent.
I have sworn to serve a dark master. I have obeyed his every command and committed crimes in his name.
She recalled her horrible former master Slade and his horrible lone eye that had watched her, looked down on her, seeing her as both something and nothing as he did horrible things to her. There were those times when he had beat her, but at one time, she would have considered him a friend. He had given her a sense of control over her erratic powers, but...
I have betrayed and attacked everyone who used to be my friend. One by one, I have destroyed the Teen Titans.
Just like she had betrayed the Titans, her friends, though she could hardly bear to call them that after what she had done to them, for Slade, she had turned on him in the end. She had brought him down, way down. He could not control her, even with the suit that he had fused with her nervous system. She was the one who was supposed to be in control.
And with no one left to stop me, I have brought an entire city to its knees.
But that hadn't been what she had wanted. Why had she thought she wanted control and power over others when she only need control over her powers? Hadn't that been the very reason she had destroyed Slade? Because he tried to forcefully control her?
My name is Terra. I have done horrible things, and I...
Her cry echoed back to her, causing her to wonder exactly where she even was. Slowly, she opened her eyes, though even this tiny movement brought on more pain. With sore and blurry eyes, she examined her surroundings. To her horror, she was still in the old lair.
This realization shocked her so much that she immediately tried to sit straight up, and she screamed from the pain. Looking down at her body to see what had caused it, she screamed again from the horror. She was still wearing the suit, but it had been damaged, and jagged edges of the metal pierced the same skin it was grafted onto. Blood soaked into the old, torn bandages she wore.
For a terrifying moment, she thought that she might still be Slade's apprentice, and everything else had been an illusion, that Slade had just beaten her so bad that she had passed out. It wouldn't have been the first time. Terra began to panic and tried to get up and run away but could only manage a slow, exhausted crawl. Inevitably, she collapsed after only a few feet.
She waited and waited, her panic starting to lose its edge but still half-expecting Slade to come and kick her while she was down, but nothing happened. It took several long minutes for Terra to gather what was left of her strength and wits before she could sit back up again. When she did, she saw something that finally put her current fears to rest: her tomb.
It looked like an ordinary rock formation from a distance, but as she inched closer, she saw flowers strewn all around it, both fresh and old, and a plaque that read:
A Teen Titan
And A True Friend
Terra couldn't help but begin bawling again, burying her face in a bouquet of daisies as more memories, fuzzier ones that she hadn't remembered at first, came to light. These were from her time spent as a statue - how long had she been like that, anyway? - and most of them were of Beast Boy. He would come visit her and talk to her. She couldn't quite remember what he had said or how often he had come, but she remembered him being there. She remembered him smiling at her.
It was a smile that she didn't deserve.
She didn't deserve any of it. The flowers and the monument weren't right for her, and she hated the Titans for not seeing that. She hadn't been a true friend or a Titan. She was a traitor. She pretended to be a Titan to exploit their friendship and betray them, and even though she regretted it now, that didn't change anything she had done. She wanted to shatter the plaque praising her into nothingness, but she felt weak and drained. Using her powers seemed impossible at the moment. Even her crazy emotions hadn't caused her powers to go even a little crazy. Not a single pebble had moved the entire time she had been awake.
Then, an idea occurred to her. She could not stay where she was. Beast Boy would return at some point to lay undeserved flowers at an empty grave. When had he last come? How much longer did she have? She would not let him find her there. It would just be more pain.
What would he do if he saw her? Would he die of shock? Would he still be mad at her? Would he run to her with open arms and a smile, saying he missed her and was glad that she was back? That would be the worst option, in her opinion. There had been a time long ago when she had wished for him to do something like that, to tell her that everything was okay and that he would be her friend no matter what, but he had coldly turned her away that time.
She would rather hear that again because it was the only correct response to an awful person like her. She realized now how wrong she was, and she refused to accept praise she had done nothing to earn, and she also refused to return to a team that either didn't trust her or couldn't decide who they thought she was. In fact, she wasn't so sure herself. What do you call someone who screws up their life past the point of no return? Hopeless, maybe. No matter how much she wished, Slade had been right about one thing. It was far too late to return to her old life.
Still, despite her being hopeless and all, she had somehow been given a second chance to hope, and she could not waste it. She decided that she just couldn't be good or evil. Either side brought her pain, and from now on, she swore to avoid it. She just needed to disappear so that she could not be hurt anymore. She would just be an average teenage girl who worried about average teenage problems, not a hero or a villain. No more Terra, the girl both blessed and cursed with awesome power.
She didn't know how she would pull this off. There were the issues of acquiring a home and getting off the suit, but she knew where to start, at least. She knew that in a short time, she would need to practice controlling her powers only so they would never give away who she was in the future.
Slowly, painfully, Terra brought herself to her feet to begin the slower, more painful process of building a brand new life, which, sadly, she had done a few times in the past, but never to this magnitude.