Chapter 10: Friday Has A Face
Cyborg and Robin hastened through the side streets running in full sprint with Starfire zooming above, keeping a sharp lookout from on high. The few minor obstacles did little to hamper their pace down the narrowing alleys, clearing descending steps and divider rails with wide leaps and easily bypassing detours.
The group was coming up fast on what seemed to be a dead end. A thick wall of laid brick barring their path to the connecting street.
Starfire boosted her altitude with ease, flying right over with no trouble.
Robin pulled a grapple launcher from his utility belt, firing a repel line atop an overhead rooftop, pulling himself into an elevated swing, scaling over the barrier and then touching down on the other side with ease.
Cyborg maintained his speed, merely lifting his shoulder, ducking his head down.
He burst through the wall with a stifled grunt, shaking off a few stray stone fragments that grazed his scalp.
They came to a stop at the main access street to the shopping district. A single strip of road that diverted into a long horizontal grid of one-way streets, feeding throughout the various densely packed stores and shops. All of which were closed and seemingly deserted. And all of them ripe for the hiding.
Robin surveyed the area. "He's here," he scowled with a flare of his nostrils. "Somewhere."
Starfire searched from above with a wide gaze across the district. However the area was too tightly connected to allow any vantage point from the air. Even a fly by overhead would only allow limited visibility of the connecting back streets and alleys and no visibility of the shops exterior windows.
"It is like the needle in the stack of hay," she surmised, lowering herself closer to the others on the ground.
Cyborg brought up his scanner on his forearm. "He might be able to hide," he tapped a few buttons, "But that's about all he can do."
"Right," Robin nodded, looking from one end of the district to the other. "If his remote is out of commission, we have to assume his first priority is restoring it to some capacity."
"Judgin' from what I saw of its power supply, that won't be easy," Cyborg mused. "Which leaves him two options. Recharge the existing battery or replacing it with a new one. Recharge would be in his best interest for the sake of time, but if he was fool enough to try somethin' that rookie, I could trace it easy."
"No doubt he is aware of our pursuit," Starfire added. "He will surely try to keep his profile quite low."
"Which means he'll most likely try to fashion a replacement," Robin concluded.
Cyborg tapped a few more commands into his scanner. "His remote is heavily modified, but it ain't exactly universally compatible. Meaning he can't just yank something off the rack and slap it in there."
"So what would he need to fabricate something like that?" Robin inquired.
Cyborg's head leaned to the side a bit. "Based on his style of 're-purposing'," he hesitated to label it, "Not much. A surplus of electronic components and an active power supply."
"So basically any place with an electronics department and a wall outlet." Robin sighed briefly. That hardly narrowed it down. Almost every store nowadays had some kind of electrical parts, accessories, or hardware section.
"A fair assumption. Obviously some places will have better inventory than others, so we can at least narrow down the best places to start lookin'," Cyborg nodded.
"But the Control Freak will no doubt be wary of our search. Would he not anticipate this?" Starfire queried.
"No doubt," Cyborg shrugged. "But if he wants outta' here, he's gonna have to go through us. And if he wants to do that, sooner or later, he's gonna have to make a try for it."
"But remember, if all else fails Control Freak could still be the best and only chance BeastBoy may have," Robin glanced between his two teammates. "Both him AND the remote take precedent."
"Agreed. We must also hasten our return to friend Raven," Starfire shot a dismal look of worry at the ground. "I fear she can only maintain the Control Freak's portal for so long. And I do not relish the thought of her risking both her and BeastBoy's well being to chance."
"They'll be okay, Star," Cyborg assured. "BB's tougher than he looks. And he's in good hands. Raven would rip the universe a new one if she had to just to keep that grass stain around."
Starfire smiled finding some measure of comfort in his words.
"Cyborg's right. Raven will keep BeastBoy stable as long as she can. Which is why we have to find Freak and make him fix this as quickly as possible," the boy wonder outlined.
Cyborg pressed another button on his scanner, bringing up a digital map of the surrounding area. "I've highlighted the highest probable search areas. Spots most likely to have the ideal parts and materials he's probably gonna' need."
Robin and Starfire's communicators beeped. They inspected their devices finding Cyborg's map projected on the main screen of each communicator with red dots highlighting points of interest.
"We'll fan out to cover more ground," Robin observed the proximity of the surrounding spaces. "Cyborg, you start at the electronics store and work your way east. Star, you cover the convenience store to the west. I'll scout the interconnected department stores and push towards you." He pocketed his communicator. "Keep in mind, Control Freak knows we're looking for him so he may try to bypass these areas to give us the slip. Keep a look out for any signs of forced entry, highlighted or not."
Cyborg and Starfire nodded in agreement, understanding their instructions.
Robin turned, but paused mid step turning back to face his fellow Titans. "Control Freak is out there. He's momentarily unarmed, but he can be resourceful when he needs to be. Most of all, he's desperate. And that makes him dangerous. Watch yourselves at all times."
"Ain't gonna' be the only thing dangerous if I get dibs on him first," Cyborg ground his fist into his palm.
"Let us do this," Starfire bolstered.
And with that the three broke off, scattering to begin a thorough search of the surrounding area.
Not far away, nestled deeper into the district's close quarters was a sporting goods store. Bright colors and bold white print outlined the outer storefront, littered with symbols and sale signs all pertinent to its strong sports, recreation, and exercise theme. Around back however, stood exposed and cracked brick walls and shabby overhead gutters with far less evidence of pride or care.
Nothing all that out of the ordinary, considering most of the other store's rear entryways and back alley access points had similar signs of weathered exteriors not privy to the public view.
Except for the small dumpster out back. Seemingly having been recently moved, evidenced by the large vacant spot equivalent to the dumpster's size absent of any dirt or caked in filth on the now exposed concrete.
And positioned just above a mid-sized ventilation grate.
An attached but loosened grate, giving the occasional squeak with a shift in the wind.
Inside the store however, a far less concealed display of forced entry. The interior ventilation shaft's grate broken down, bent screws and all, fallen to the floor below. The shaft itself was somewhat warped. Stretched as if something far larger had pushed its way through.
But aside from that nothing else seemed out of place. Large aisles of neatly arranged sporting equipment lined the center of the store. Several pieces of exercise and workout equipment lined the far wall. And way back towards the rear, large pup tents were setup on the floor for display and large amounts of camping gear were lined on a few parallel shelves close by.
From inside one tent conversely came the occasional flicker of swaying light.
Inside Control Freak was working diligently to restore his remote to full operational status. The power pack removed and semi disassembled. An assortment of tools laid out on the floor, conveniently 'borrowed' from the maintenance closet. Several open packages of batteries stockpiled in a heap. And a few activity trackers and assorted GPS units split open, exposing wires and circuit boards for spare parts as needed.
Control Freak worked hastily. A battery component in one hand, a screwdriver in the other, and a flashlight held in his mouth, trying to keep steady illumination on what he was doing. Occasionally letting a confident snicker escape as he worked. Granted it wasn't easy working conditions and a far cry from his standards for suitable work materials. But it was a rather ingenious temporary staging ground if he did think so himself.
The Titans would no doubt be scouring every game shop and discount electronics store for hours before they'd think to look for him here. Adequate components, a sufficient supply of batteries, AND even an apt food supply. He was famished.
Freak momentarily spit out his flashlight, replacing it with an unwrapped candy bar.
"BLEGH!" He spat out the first and only bite taken, wide eyed and leaving his tongue to hang out, airing the pungent taste of cardboard and dish soap from his taste buds. After a brief wipe of his tongue on his sleeve, he double-checked the wrapper. Narrowing his brow that his previously assumed candy bar confiscated from beside the register was a protein bar. An 'all natural' protein bar. In other words, no chocolate, no peanut butter, no caramel, and no artificial flavor whatsoever. Only the taste of vitamins and supplements French kissing oatmeal. No crime was without its price apparently.
"You would think healthy people would eat stuff that at least TASTED liked it was good for them."
He discarded the now inedible snack over his shoulder getting back to work.
Control Freak smashed apart the housing of a few hand held digital devices.
He coupled several batteries together, wiring them in sync to one another, lining them inside a smaller reassembled housing just large enough to fit them. He lined the tops of each unit with flat pieces of metal to act as conductors.
He reattached the battery pack to the underside of the remote, only now it had a noticeable gap in the center. Freak pulled back a piece of metal, exposing a modified breech where the standard battery had previously been attached.
He slapped in one of his modified battery casings, then pushing the breech closed similar to loading a rifle.
He pressed the main power switch on the remote.
It quietly hummed to life.
Freak had affixed a dozen or so identical units to a long strip of fabric, clipped on, almost like a bandoleer. He draped his new cache of portable charge packs across his mid section.
And as if just for cosmetic effect, he tied a long slim piece of red cloth around the top of his skull like a headband. Eyes narrowed, jaw firm, his remote clutched tightly against his chest.
"Survive a war," he deepened his voice like an eighties action movie narration, "Ya gotta' become war." He sneered gleefully.
The tables had turned. Escape was now not only possible, but maybe knock off another Titan or two on the way. And best of all, they were none the wiser.
"And this time," he said to himself with excited fever, "It's personal." As if playing out a scene from a movie in his head. "So… COOL!" threw his fist in the air in self-approval.
And in doing so his forearm grazed a display of upright hockey sticks, toppling them all to the floor. To which the toe of a few sticks snagged on a rack of hanging sports jerseys, knocking the entire display over. Which just so happened to be stationed close enough to a floor display of dumbbells. Causing several to dislodge, rolling hard against the base of a nearby shelf and…
The shelf fell backward, tipping over.
Right against the shelf behind it, leading right into the next aisle.
Effectively knocking down half of the aisles on one entire side of the store like dominos. All of which signaled by loud bangs the equivalent to rapid claps of thunder.
Control Freak stood perfectly still, his back to the disaster area he'd unintentionally provoked. Teeth tightly gritted, cringing his shoulders, frozen from the incessant impacts. Eyes wide for an instant in self-ridicule and embarrassment before the gradual sinking of his head as he smacked his palm into the center of his face.
So much for the element of surprise.
Several stores down Robin emerged, discontinuing his previous investigation, alarmed by the sudden commotion. The stillness of the evening amplified any disturbance. Especially one that loud. Quickly he began sprinting towards the commotion.
"Titans," he called into his communicator, "Possible lead on Control Freak. Left side, five shops down from the discount outlet."
"Comin' to ya," Cyborg replied.
"I shall move to intercept as well," Starfire responded.
Control Freak could hear Robin's advance. It would only be a matter of minutes before he'd be on top of him.
"Gyeh!" he softly squealed between his teeth, jogging in place, turning in circles unable to contemplate where to run. Finally his bearings aligned, darting down the far side of the store, hanging a hard left right into…
Control Freak fell backwards, backpedaling fiercely against the wall, hands up in front of him, staving off whatever Titan had happened upon him. "Ah! W-Wait! Time out! Let's talk about this! I can explai…"
Freak's words cut short, finally braving to open his eyes and get a good look at the mannequin he'd bumped into.
Steadily he got to his feet, taking a deep breath. That was a close one.
But he could hear footsteps hastening closer outside.
Control Freak took a step back, scanning the area. For an exit, for a hiding place, for something. But just as quickly he found himself looking back to the same mannequin who'd obstructed him. A large, white plastic male figure garbed in thick pads and hockey attire. A large number thirteen printed on its jersey. And its face shielded by a protective goalie mask.
Freak lowered his head, curving his eyebrows downward and curling a malevolent grin.
He brought his remote up from his side, almost itching under his fingertips.
Robin came to a stop in front of the various storefronts, looking all along the row of shops and stores. He'd been inside and a short distance away when the disturbance occurred, so he only had a close approximation to go on.
Suddenly there came a bright flash from inside the sporting goods store.
Robin threw himself against the wall taking cover, ducking down. After a few seconds he slowly peeked up through the corner of the window. Peering inside the shop's darkened interior his pupils shifted from side to side. No movement and nothing registering as the villain in question.
But there was still the matter of the noise from before. And that burst of light.
"Uh…" came tense call from inside, "A-Any good guys out there?"
Robin narrowed his eyes, instantly recognizing that voice. He extended his bo staff at the ready. But he still couldn't see him.
"Um… uh… citizen in need of assistance," he called out sheepishly.
Robin slowly moved to the other side of the window, his view now scanning the opposite side of the store for the villain's presence, but still no sign of him. However there was no doubt it was coming from inside.
"Hey! I'm asking for help already!" he impatiently whined at the lack of response. "Do I gotta' spell it out for you?"
"What's your game, Freak?" Robin replied.
"N-No! No. No game," he reacted in subtle panic. "I give up. I Surrender. White flag."
Robin leaned closer, nose to the glass trying to look deeper inside. But his view was heavily obstructed by large displays and shelves, barring much of the interior from view.
"Step outside," he firmly instructed, "Slowly and with your hands above your head."
There was a short pause.
"Uh, yeah. Um… about that," his voice cracked, "I'm… kinda'… sorta'… stuck."
Robin's stare into the dark never faltered. "Stuck how?"
"Ugh!" he huffed. "The immobile kind. What do ya think? Just… get me outta here, will ya?"
He was complaining, conceited, and downright pathetic. That was Control Freak all right. But there was something Robin couldn't quite put his finger on.
He drew a bird-a-rang from his utility belt, keeping his staff low at his hip. He slipped the razor sharp edge of his throwing projectile along the door's inner frame. With a few quick motions he bypassed the lock, silently easing the door open and slipping inside. Robin held his bird-a-rang firm in hand, his arm curved up to his shoulder in throwing position, his staff pulled back, aiming at the floor.
He advanced without a sound, his footsteps mute against the ground. He moved deeper into the store, glancing down both sides of every aisle as he passed, cautious with his senses on alert. Just then he noticed the trail of fallen shelves toppled over one another. Scattered boxes and merchandise crumpled and discarded every which way. And there, just beyond the trails end, a lumped figure underneath the last fallen shelf.
The blades of Robin's bird-a-rang retracted, holstering his bow as he moved more hastily towards his downed foe. He took a firm grip on the side of the overturned shelf, attempting to lift it. But the stacked shelves anchored at its base made it almost totally immovable. He heaved and strained as if hoping just to budge it an inch or two to pry him free, but it was no use. Robin let out a hard gasp, releasing his hold on the shelf. It wasn't going anywhere. But on the up side, neither was his captive who lie motionless underneath with his trench coat draped over himself from impact.
"Alright, Freak," he leaned down to verify his condition. "Try not to move and as soon as the others get he…"
Robin pulled back Control Freak's trench coat, revealing a display mannequin with sports attire underneath the hastily thrown on garb.
"Rrragh!" Robin punched the mannequin square in its thick plastic skull, dislodging its head altogether, tumbling it across the floor. It was the second time today Control Freak had played him for a fool.
Huffing a few short breaths, he gathered himself, restoring his focus. He couldn't afford to lose his cool again. Freak had been calling to him before he entered, so he still had to be nearby.
Robin stood up, taking a few steps backward, his field of vision encompassing the store.
Suddenly he felt a firm thud against his shoulder, stopping cold. He turned.
A hand reached out, palming his face like a basketball.
"MMMMPH!" Robin gave a startled, muffled yell through its palm, grabbing hold of its arm, attempting to pull himself free. But the grip was too strong. He swung his fists hard, attempting to knock the arm away, landing hard blows blindly into its forearms. But Robin's fists merely thunked against the thick mass of muscle, sturdy and strong like a tree trunk.
The hand reeled back, throwing Robin ten feet across the room, slamming his back against a wall display of baseball gloves. He dropped to the ground on his side, coughing to regain oxygen. Slowly Robin looked up.
Standing before him was a tall shadowy figure, dimly lit, making him all the more a foreboding presence. Dark shirt and pants, ripped, tattered, and rotted. A worn, dingy brown jacket with various rips and tears. And a dilapidated hockey mask covering his face. A pattern of small aerating holes scattered across and two slightly larger openings for the barely visible but menacing looking eyes. Eyes that stared him down with a quiet, undying hate.
Robin shook off the last of the disorientation from the impact. No doubt this was Control Freak's doing. And he was in no mood for movie night.
The masked assailant drew back his coat, slowly unsheathing a long machete. Light catching off the blade, shimmering across Robin's eye.
Robin got to one knee, parting through his cape.
The imposing figure took heavy, lumbering steps towards the downed Titan, raising his blade above his head.
Robin rolled clear just as the machete clanged into the tile floor.
The killer turned his head, tracing Robin's movements with his eyes. Suddenly there came a rapid beeping noise below. He turned back to find Robin's bird-a-rang jammed into the floor with a small red light blinking atop it.
The device detonated.
The explosion echoed through the still night air, rumbling heard as far back as the museum grounds.
BeastBoy turned up his head, his ears attuned to the disturbance. "What was that?" he called.
Raven's eyes shifted to the side but just as quickly shifted back paying little mind. "Nothing to worry about, I'm sure," she replied solemnly. Even though she plainly knew there was more to it than that. But she didn't want to distract herself or BeastBoy with baseless speculation.
"Think they found Control Freak?" he turned his whole body to face the direction the noise had come from. Coincidentally the same direction the others had taken off in their pursuit.
"No," she replied casually. "I'm sure it's just a completely unrelated incident involving premature firework preparation for the fourth of July."
BeastBoy looked over his shoulder back at her with a cocked eyebrow. Laying it on thick, even for Raven's brand of sarcasm.
Raven admitted internally not her smoothest, believable response. But her mental faculties were otherwise preoccupied.
Her sole focus remained keeping the portal open. And that meant keeping the energies of the portal itself stable. Which meant constant equalizing of her powers against it. Too little energy and it would increase the portal's resistance. Too much energy and it could overly saturate its energy flow making it more erratic. She was constantly balancing her hold over it, both to keep it open and to keep it intact.
Like so many other things in her life, it took patience. And patience she had. But even she had her limit. BeastBoy's condition, while not deteriorating, was not visually improving either. At least not that she could tell. Raven had been able to see him from the start of this debacle. So how was she to know if he was re-materializing at all? He didn't look any different from before.
BeastBoy looked back towards the direction of the explosion but remained within the portal. Helpless.
Raven shook her head, doing her best to keep this heavy sensation from gripping her. Fatigue was slowly starting to set in. But still she pressed on. Holding her powers steady. Patience. She just had to be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day.
But who cared about Rome. All she wanted was one half-witted changeling.
She pulled her gaze away from the portal for one more fleeting look at BeastBoy, looking away, an anxious expression of curiosity and worry clear on his face.
"Probably a warning shot," she said calmly.
BeastBoy briefly paused with a nod, never looking away from the direction of the disturbance in the distance. "Yeah," he said reluctantly. "Warning shot. Nothin' says don't move like blowin' something up."
Raven shrugged her head off to the side. Granted, neither Robin or Cyborg's ordinances were exactly low level. And Starfire could obliterate a square block if she wanted to. But then Control Freak was probably more than just a handful. And few things got a message across like a small, directional blast. Or two.
"If they were in any real danger we probably would've heard a lot more fireworks by now," she rationalized. "Probably just… blowing off a little steam. He did take your body away. And unreasonably tried to barter for his help. AND welched out on our deal!" her tone was growing more and more heated. "AND…"
"Okay, okay!" BeastBoy spun around to face her, holding up his hands to try to calm her. "You're right. I get it."
Raven briefly sunk her head, taking a deep breath. She was starting to want to blow up a thing or two herself the more she thought about it. This was more taxing than she thought.
"Yeah. Just… a little show of force. Right?" he went along with her assumption.
Raven closed her eyes, exhaling softly, steadying her thoughts and realigning her focus. "Right," she nodded slightly, focusing back on the portal.
"Yeah," he rubbed the back of his head, looking back with a tense smile. "I bet they're draggin' his butt back here right now."
Robin desperately pulled and pried at his cape, trying to unfasten it from around his neck as he was forcibly dragged across the floor. The lumbering brute pulled the teen hero by the end of his cape gripped tightly in his hand deeper inside the store. His opponent's immense stature had proven too great for standard means of attack.
"Gek!" Robin panted between gritted teeth. "Let go!" he ordered
But his hockey clad assailant merely continued to haul him across the floor.
"I said," Robin barked in between a slight gag, "Let… me…" he pulled a bola from his utility belt, pulling back his arm. "…GO!"
Robin hurled the projectile at him, striking him square in the back. The bola's heavy weights coiled around his upper body, ensnaring him, pulling their restrictive rope lines across his arms causing the killer to briefly loosen his grip. Robin threw all his body weight behind him, jerking backwards, pulling his cape free. He rolled to one knee, charging back towards him to keep his momentum going to counterattack.
"EEEYAH!" He sprang from the ground.
But the killer balled his fists, throwing his arms out, breaking the bola's lines effortlessly with a snap. He turned.
He snatched the boy wonder by the throat in mid air with one hand.
Robin wriggled and struggled to break free, feeling his attacker's fingers tightening around his neck. Keeping one hand on top of his enemy's, he scrambled his other across his utility belt.
The killer slowly raised his other hand, gripping his machete.
Robin pulled a smoke pellet from his belt, shooting his arm forward, stuffing the small orb directly into one of the hockey mask's eyeholes.
A blast of dense smoke burst from inside the killer's mask, billowing out of his face, dropping the teen to the floor as he staggered backwards, clutching his face.
Robin coughed, taking only a second to draw air. He heaved his staff, pulling back his arm, extending the bo to full length. He darted forward.
Robin swung square at his midsection.
He spun behind with another sharp blow right across the back of his knee. He stepped up onto a few aisle shelves, jumping into the air, clenching his bo tightly.
He drove his staff down like a hammer right along the back of his head.
The immense figure hunched forward.
Robin's breathing quickened, holding his stance firm as he touched back down onto solid ground. He raised his staff to eye level. "Huh?" he flustered. The end of the staff was bent almost in a U shape, contouring perfectly to the shape of his opponent's cranium. Robin shot a look of mild disbelief from his misshapen weapon to the horrific figure now looming over him once more. Without even the slightest inclination of injury or fatigue.
Robin shook it off, regaining his fighting demeanor. He steadied his weapon before him. "Hagh!" he raised his staff once more, aiming it's coiled end at the imposing figure's midsection.
But his opponent stood silent and unflinching. With one motion he swung his arm across, his machete cleaving through the air.
The bent half of Robin's staff clanged against the floor a foot away.
The teen hero took a moment to pull his halved weapon towards him for closer inspection, almost in disbelief as he analyzed the severed steel in his hands. The staff had been cut clean through. It was difficult to discern if the blade was that sharp, or if this guy was just that strong.
Robin gazed up from his weapon to his attacker as he lifted his blade over his head in swinging fashion. He shuffled his feet to the side preparing to dodge.
Suddenly there came a whistle from behind.
"Yo! Big J!"
The masked horror slowly turned his head peering over his shoulder.
Cyborg stood at the opposite side of the store with his sonic cannon aimed and ready, a bright blue charge emanating inside the barrel. "That's definitely a foul."
The voiceless figure turned towards him.
Robin dove to the side, quickly getting out of his teammate's line of fire.
Cyborg discharged a sonic blast, striking his target's left shoulder, staggering him back a step. He fired another blast, this time hitting his lower right abdomen. Again, the masked figure was forced another step backward. He charged a third and final shot, firing once more, this time hitting him dead center in the face, knocking his head back but without forcing him to move otherwise.
Slowly he lowered his head back down with a low cracking sound of his neck realigning, a small wasp of vapor rising off his mask.
But by then Cyborg had already holstered his cannon, and held a large heavy aisle shelf over his head with both hands. "Somebody needs a little time in the penalty box," he smirked with a subtle air of confidence.
He hurled the large fixture with all his strength, smashing right into the killer, sending him flying backwards into the far wall, the shelf digging in and anchoring him to the wall.
Robin stepped out as his friend ventured closer, both keeping their sights on the unmoving aisle pinned to the wall, barring any sign of their opponent. "Nice timing," he thanked for the assist.
"Nothin' to worry about," Cyborg shrugged with a grin, "The virgin always survives."
Robin grimaced a frown.
Suddenly there came a rumbling.
The two Titans turned to see as the shelf half dug into the wall began to shake and rattle.
A fist punched through the back of the aisle, scattering fragments of the shelf's assembly onto the floor.
"Look's like he's ready for a sequel," Cyborg took a step back, re-arming his sonic cannon.
Robin gave an exasperated sigh, gritting his teeth. This was starting to get old fast.
The killer's hands took hold on both sides of the opening he'd recently punched through, pulling with such strength that a crack began to vertically creep across both sides of the fixture. Until finally the makeshift barricade split in two, each side's parts shambling across the floor on either side.
He pulled himself out from the sunken portion of wall touching down onto the floor.
Robin dropped into fighting stance, but hardly enthusiastic. It was like trying to incapacitate wall. A stubborn, indomitable wall. With a really big knife.
"How do we stop something like that?" he asked.
"Well, if we're goin' by horror movie logic here, we either blow'im up, freeze'im, or drop a satellite on him." Cyborg tilted his head to side, recapping his overview of horror culture.
The killer began to slowly walk towards them at a glaciers pace, machete drawn once more.
Robin pulled a bird-a-rang from his utility belt. His equipment hadn't faired all that well the first time and he had little reason to be any more hopeful the second time around. But now at least he had backup.
Cyborg took aim.
What sounded like a car horn blared nearby. And was getting closer.
The masked man looked all around before casting his gaze upward, alerted to the sound growing louder, seemingly coming from above when suddenly…
A large semi-truck broke through the ceiling, crashing down right on top of him, plowing him deep into the foundation of the floor. The truck's massive extended front sunk five and a half feet into the concrete just beneath the surface, chipping and breaking apart large fragments of concrete and assorted debris. A stream of water burst up from the impact, no doubt rupturing an underground water pipe.
Robin pulled back his cape, having previously drawn it up over his head to shield himself. Cyborg too turned back, having pulled away, lowering his arms from over his head.
From the outside of the newly formed large gap in the ceiling came Starfire, swooping in from above, dodging lingering pieces of drywall and support columns dropping to the floor below. She quickly surveyed the area, focusing directly on her intended target. Or lack there of, buried underneath several tons of heavy earth machinery.
"Apologies, friends," she said sweetly. "But I was unable to find a satellite in the near vicinity."
Cyborg and Robin exchanged bewildered but relieved looks at one another.
Movie night was paying off.
"Is there any sign of the Control Freak?" Starfire, inquired.
Cyborg deferred to Robin with a look over his shoulder. He'd made no such discovery when he arrived, too preoccupied with horror night.
"He was here," Robin confirmed, glancing around the store, which was now all but in shambles. "But its anyone's guess where he could've gone to."
"Coulda' slipped away while we had our hands full with tall, dark, and deceased," Cyborg theorized.
"I spotted no one fleeing from the area on my approach," Starfire recounted. "He may still be lurking about."
Robin shot one last hard look at the semi wedged into the floor. "And if he's calling in support, it means his remote is up and running again."
Cyborg sighed. "Nothin' easy is ever simple."
"If the remote is again functional, could we perhaps trace its power output?" Starfire inquired.
Cyborg pulled up his sensory display on his forearm, emitting a low pulsing sound. "Sorry, y'all. Not gettin' anything," he shook his head tapping the screen. "Whatever kinda' power he's runnin' it off of, isn't actively putting off any kind of reading. I won't be able to get a fix unless he discharges another…"
A fist burst up through the floor a foot away from the entrenched vehicle.
The Titans turned.
A second arm broke through the floor, tightly clutching a machete in its grip.
"Oh, you gotta' be kiddin' me," Cyborg exclaimed.
A familiar masked figure rose head first up through the weakened surface area, brushing back the loosened concrete floor that rolled down his back and scattered off of his shoulders as he stepped up onto solid ground. He'd tunneled out from under the makeshift grave, rising once more. Silent and without the slightest sign of fatigue or injury.
"This guy just doesn't know when to quit," Robin balled up his fists at his sides.
"Yeah, kinda' his thing," Cyborg informed, sensing Robin's unfamiliarity with the horror genre.
Just then there came a slight rattling sound.
Starfire turned to spy a can of tennis balls rolling across the floor. And just opposite of them was Control Freak tiptoeing towards the exit.
"Halt!" she exclaimed with an accusatory finger pointed at the villain.
"Gyeh!" he yelped, visibly alarmed he'd been made. He whipped to his side, drawing his remote, taking aim.
"Friends! Look out!" Starfire warned, leaping to the air in front of them, arms crossed over her chest to block whatever attack was bound to come as a shield.
Control Freak narrowed his eyes, angrily shaking the remote. "Oh, come on!" he shouted. "How many blanks can a guy shoot in one story?"
. . .
"Don't answer that," he scowled.
Starfire dropped her guarded posture deeming the villain's offensive weapon to be inoperable once more. She ascended higher into the air, shifting her weight forward and drawing closer.
A ski pole whizzed past her, narrowly avoiding her upper body before digging into the wall. Starfire and her fellow Titans glanced back to find their other active adversary drawing back his arm from throwing position, plucking a second matching pole from a nearby display.
Starfire looked back again to repeat her warning and to reaffirm her standing order to remain still. But it was too late. Control Freak was gone. Vanished from sight and no doubt already off and running.
"The Control Freak is getting away," she looked back.
Robin narrowed his gaze at their other standing threat. "Stay on him, Star," he called without breaking eye contact from the towering horror only a few feet away. "We'll catch up once we cancel this re-run."
Starfire nodded, turning to hasten her pursuit, flying towards the door to give chase.
The killer launched the ski pole in hand like a javelin, coming right for the Tameranian girl.
But Robin was quick to respond, drawing a bird-a-rang from his utility belt, letting it fly with a sharp flick of the wrist. The projectile struck the inbound pole, knocking it to the ground with a tumble.
Starfire whizzed through the air undeterred, exiting the store and commencing her search.
The masked figure tilted his head at the two remaining Titans, tightly grinding his fingers together, cracking his knuckles.
Both Robin and Cyborg stood at the ready.
"Any ideas?" Robin murmured over his shoulder, clearly reaching for tactics against this undying human tank.
"Yeah. Don't let him get to a cutlery section," Cyborg quipped, eying that large knife tightly gripped in his hand.
The killer advanced towards them once more.
Ah, life was just one horror story after another.
To Be Continued…