I could offer every excuse under the sun, but not my style. Can only offer an apology, but please, I do promise that I will complete this story sometime soon. Also, just a note - this isn't my normal writing style. I have quite a sarcastic ring to my writing. So this is a bit out of my comfort zone. Also to the captain obvious guest reviewer: Yes. This is an AU. I would have thought the voices in Starfire's head were enough to give it away, seeing as its not canon. Also, I know Starfires background, I'm playing on it to cater to this story. You'll see what I mean in the progressing chapters.
So love and hugs! Enjoy x
"Defiant to the end, we hear the call to carry on." - My Chemical Romance, Welcome to The Black Parade.
Everything was still.
After Richard left the interrogation room in silence, both Donna and Vic had decided to leave him to mourn. This was the first time anyone had ever seen Richard break, it seemed so delayed and overdue, but at the same time it was better safe than sorry.
"I didn't think he would break. Especially in front of a captive."
Vic grunted, paperwork in one hand and burger in another. "I thought he was just another Raven."
"Capable of not laughing?"
"Or feeling in general."
Donna couldn't help but laugh, taking a sip of her triple show cappuccino. Pressing her napkin closely to lips to rid of the froth, a small smile appeared on her face. "They are capable of feeling, I suppose circumstances didn't allow it to happen."
"You mean like being the daughter of the devil, or the adoptive son of Bruce Wayne?"
"That exactly." But even then, a small unsure look drew upon her porcelain face, giving a slight quirk of her threaded brow. "Even then, I could've sworn if he was to break down on someone, it would've been you, Wally or even me."
Vic leaned in, a cheeky smile that Donna knew all too well. "A bit jealous, are we?"
"Hah. Don't insult me. Dick knows if he ever tried to bone me, I'd rip his little Richard out and shove it down his throat. Besides… I've been seeing someone."
"Good to hear." Vic took a bite of his burger, absent-mindedly skim reading over some foot notes from the analysis. "Nice to know there's one person inhabited in this lifetime that doesn't want to sit on Richard Graysons lap, and talk about the first thing that pops up."
Donna – grossed out by this comment – knew this wasn't Vic's mental processing. "Hmm. Wally or Gar?"
"Wally. After half a bottle of Johnny Walker."
"If Linda heard that, she would've slapped some sense into him." Donna pondered on that idea of being slapped, a small smile appeared on her face before she looked over at Victor, who seemed a bit more fascinated in his work. "What'cha looking at there?"
There were a few things on Vic desk that perked up Donna's interest. The first thing was a laptop connected to numerous amounts of wires. The monitor looked like it was not in service, breaking with grey and black lines with a rare peak of colour in between, but for the most part it looked like a code. "Dick gave this to me, said it was a transmission received from the Vega system but was lost in encryption when he wasn't there to receive it."
"Vega. Like Tamaran?"
"Assuming so, but I can't make anything out until I've broken the code. Someone didn't want this transmission to be seen. It will take me a while, but I'll figure it out by the end of the week."
Donna turned over to a few scattered pieces of paper that Vic looked more interest in, pointing in the same general direction. "Then what about that?"
"Hmm." Vic rotated a few loose papers upright so that Donna could read it accordingly. "When Dick was talking to the alien, all brain activity seemed normal – well, Tamaranean normal. There is no lack of any neurotransmitters, reuptake looks good – even with her lack of sunlight. But when I decided to scan her body to see an average temperature of a Tamaranean. As expected, because she is heavily dependent of the sun, she emits a higher body temperature – but Hal and I concluded that was the norm. But…"
"… But? That can ever be good."
"Never is." Vic handed Troia the papers that triggered his interest, pointing to the first figure. "If you look at picture number 1, there's her normal body temperature. But then if you look here…"
"Holy crap on a stick. Is that even possible?"
"Not even for human standards. I suspect that when Kori is in her usual conscious state, figure 1 is her regulated heat. But when the voices slowly try to take over her body, we get what we see in figure number two." Both Vic and Donna had sceptical looks on their faces, meeting each other's glance before evaluating the second picture.
"She emits no heat at all."
In her silhouette, her body was black all over, . There were other pecks of blue poking in around the left side of her chest and her skull, but the rest remained pitch black. "It shows a striking resemblance of a dead body."
"Ironic," Donna turned back to the confinement, peering through the window to see the exotic beauty peacefully sleeping on her bed. Her silky locks flared around her side with a blanket and blank white shirt draping around her womanly body. If Donna had her camera there, it would definitely be a picture worth keeping in her portfolio. "Ironic? In what way?"
"Well." Vic too joined Donna, peering at the alien at rest. "When the voices do decide to take full operation of her motor senses, they speak and behave in a way almost like they want her to stay alive."
"Huh, so you picked up on that?"
"That, and the audio hallucinations aren't afraid to tell her what's what. The little lady literally pulls her hair out because she gets that confused."
"Didn't think you had an eye for detail, Vic."
"Try working with the boy blunder himself. If anything went amiss, he would have your head." Donna could only relate too well to Vic. This whole situation, because Richard had the talent to pick up on even the slightest details, he was able to figure out this whole situation with Kori. Rubbing her arm, Donna looked at Vic. "Now we need to know where the voices come from."
Vic shook his head, "I'd rather figure out why they're telling Kori all this. Possibilities are endless. If the wrong secret fell on the wrong pair of ears…"
Donna gave a smile; it looked like there was more to the Cyborg than the capacity to eat more than an army of men.
"… ahh. Gotcha."
What had seemed like forever that had passed, Kori had never felt so empowered before in her life. She could hold another person like this, she could definitely get used to this. For someone so powerful to fall so easily in her arms… It was like the universes way of saying there was another person alive who wanted to be held and comforted by her. By someone so… repelling? Is that the word? Surely even Ryan enjoyed the embrace she held.
Perhaps, she wasn't repelled. She needed to be given a chance. Did Kori feel like she was taking advantage of the situation? By all means. But she couldn't recall another time someone willingly held her that was not already dead.
"Richard? Are you the okay?"
Richard didn't move. Instead, he buried her head in her fragile shoulder. Kori knew he had exposed his Achilles' heel to a stranger, little did he know that Kori was not like every other living human. Never had the thought to betray and mock his moment of weakness ever once crossed the Tamaraneans mind.
"Richard." Pulling his head away from the newfound safe haven, she peered heavily into the beautiful azure orbs in front of her, eyes of her own showing nothing but comfort and sympathy.
"You will be the okay."
"Is this you, or the voices speaking?"
"The voices are telling me this, but alongside…" She let her arms fall from his shoulders, tucking her hands near her head. A cute little blush swept along her cheeks. "… You have shown nothing but consideration for your friends and family. As your loved ones now focus on themselves, you too must find what you truly want to do. Bruce is now finding peace with himself with Oliver temporarily running Wayne Enterprises ever-so-smoothly. Jason is now in a resting place… and I know you would have stepped at X'Hals gates to bring him back."
"That, and a lot more."
"Yes." Though she found it a bit peculiar that a stranger was seeking comfort from a refugee, Kori didn't have the heart to turn away the broken. Not when she knew the feeling herself.
"The Azarathean will find her way. I have predicted her to found someone else, yet at this point in time, she is need to heal herself. But she will be okay."
Richard swallowed his pride.
"… and Babs?"
"I will not lie." Kori floated back over to the seat, folding her hands as she looked away. At this point in time, she couldn't bring herself to look at the pain that she would eventually see in the vigilante's eye. "She will endure a lot of hardship, and many obstacles. I have not foreseen her giving her love up for you so easily."
Richard threw his hands behind his head, just more things he needed to hear to make his day better. "Is there anything I can do with… overstepping my boundary?"
"Though I do not know what to do…"Richard took a mental note, she began to do that tapping of the chin when she was in deep though, "… the voices do tell me that she will find happiness. A loved one will run by her side and she will be swept off her feet."
"This you promise?"
Kori nodded her head, a smile full of determination not faltering.
"Yes Richard, this I promise."
The same memory was running through Kori's head. She felt guilty for taking advantage of a human in his weakest, but she felt body contact. She felt comfort.
She felt things she thought she'd never feel.
Her heart soared at this guilty pleasure, but she didn't care. It was the only thing to cherish during those lonely nights. It was nearly enough to make her feel normal.
A meek smile shielded her pastel blush, trying to rid her previous thoughts.
"You must be Victor Stone?"
Victor drew a sheepish grin, scratching what seemed to be a fully bald head. "Well how do ya do, little lady? Guessing your voices told me about you?"
"Yes. Victor Stone of STAR labs. Your work is most admirable and your technology is advanced – maybe, too advanced." Victor knew of the sad affair, unfortunately, his gift was wanted for the less fortunate of activities – many had attempted Vic to join the darker sides, fortunately his path of righteous and justice prevailed. "Yeah well, I'm just glad the things I make for the League helps for the better, ya know?"
"That is glorious! I am most certain your technologies and your intelligence help achieve numerous victories! The League should be ever so grateful for your assistance!"
A small little blush appeared on Victors face. He couldn't help it, a huge cheesy grin appeared on his face as he nervously scratched his head. "What can I say? It runs in my blood, literally!"
If the voices weren't so kind to inform her of every person she was ever to come in contact with, the hologram ring was a big giveaway. A smile appeared on her face, she too knew what it was like to conceal her true physical appearance. "You are the okay, Victor. You are a lovely person with abundance of wisdom, you also surpass many in strength and resilience. The voices have spoken nothing but kind words towards you."
"Wow." Vic sat down, looking at the contrast between himself and the slim alien. How ironic, this little girl could easily bench press his limit fifty times over, and that probably wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface of her capabilities. "Donna was right, you couldn't even hurt a fly."
"Donna? You are a close friend of hers, yes?"
"Well, maybe not as close as you two." He could see the Amazonian and the Tamaranean talking about the stuff 25 year old female's talk about. "But she is a good friend of mine."
"I would love to talk with her one last time." Her bottom lip began to tremble, Kori had faced reality a while ago. Donna was a true, faithful and loyal friend. Kori had often pondered the 'what-ifs' had Kori told Donna the truth of the voices. There may had been the chance to seek refuge, perhaps seek help and redemption with these curses in the head that do not want to be found. Maybe there were too many possibilities floating around in her head, this could be a contributing reason why she couldn't sleep at night.
Kori bowed her head in shame, caressing her elbow slightly. Over time, it began a coping mechanism. It helped the alien to comfort herself when she needed it most. "I miss our girl time. Our sleepovers, our photo shoots, our gossip of this Terry person. It was joyous to see her enjoy her life out of her Troia persona. I had seen her fighting enemies on the television, I assumed it brought her a lot of stress. I was joyous that my friend had met someone who made her happy."
"Wow, Kori." Vic looked down at the girl who spoke selfless words of truth. It was rare sight indeed. Unfortunately, Vic knew that those who were the most giving were the loneliest. He didn't know what to say.
"Does this Terry person still make her happy?"
"Tell ya what, little lady. You're the only person who knew his name."
"Oh no! I have betrayed her trust!" Kori behaved in a frantic way he expected a timid, polite girl to act. Vic couldn't help but grin, "If we both know Donna, she would just go all embarrassed and girly. Then she would find a reason to protect you and kick my ass."
"Yes, I suppose that is very Donna like."
A small smile appeared on the face of Kori. It was like she had found another friend she could 'make the jokes' and 'do the hanging out' with. With the talk of his amazing appetite, surely he too would appreciate the tangy, spicy and bitter condiment X'Hal blessed. Mustard. Kori giggled to herself, maybe she was overthinking the situation. "So what brings you into my confinement room?"
"I've been analysing your heat signal. When you were talking with Dick, your body temperature met that of a normal Tamaranean, however, when the voices attempted to make contact with you, your temperature dropped." Kori cocked her head the way she always did when she was confused. "It dropped so low, it's the same as a dead body."
That didn't come to a surprise to Kori. She was used to bad luck flying at her like bullets, and of course they never missed her. The numbness completely succumbed her like always; she even began to perform the coping mechanism to comfort herself. Vic placed a hand on her small shoulder, offering his sympathy. "We need to perform an EEG. It's…"
"Electromyography. It is used to detect the electrical potential generated by muscle cells when they are either electrically or neurologically activated."
Vics eyes shot open, pretty wide to be exact. Little lady knows her stuff.
"Then you'll know that I'm going to use it to study any abnormalities that differ from Tamaranean biomechanics. Are you aware of any other experiments the Psions conducted on you, besides the bolts?"
Kori shook her head with a sigh, "As prisoners, we were often 'kept in the dark' about most things."
"That's okay, little lady. I'll wait for Dick to get back before we get the green light."
Victor stood to leave, but Kori held his arm, refusing to let him move before she finished her sentence. Beneath the hologram ring, she could feel the metal and steel used to construct his artificial limbs. The voices too informed Kori that he hated his biomechanics.
"Please, will you see Donna?"
Vic complied with a nod of his head. He knew a request was going to follow shortly.
"If you do see her. Can you please tell her that I am sorry for the stress the audio hallucinations have caused? Also, please tell her that I miss her terribly, and that I hope all is well for her."
Turning to walk away, he knew he didn't need to talk with Donna. She was behind the glass, watching and hearing in on every word the two exchanged.
Before she knew it, tears began to fall down her porcelain face. The realisation left – Kori was just as in the dark about these voices, and Donna left her when she was needed most. Yet the forsaken alien still wished her well.
Some best friend she was.
"What are you doing here?"
"Jesus, Rachel. Hi to you too."
Letting himself in, Richard knew he had to confront the elephant in the corner of the room sooner or later. Not only was she a great benefit to the League and his vigilante life, but she was also a valued friend that couldn't be replaced.
"Tell me Dick, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Bubbly and upbeat, as always." It was like his second home. Her homemade crumbed chicken schnitzel with steamed seasonal veges served with her cheese sauce made from scratch. He couldn't forget about the chives. The chives. They made the sauce. All that was her leftovers from her start from scratch dinner for one, and Rachel was never one for leftovers. Luckily for her, she had a friend who could live off heat and eats if he needed to.
"Well last time you and I were in the same room, a Tamaranean decided to embarrass me."
"Oh, that." Richard seemed so nonchalant about the situation, but that didn't stop him from eating the white sauce with chives. "What is there to be said? I am in no position to be in a relationship. With an alien who can make predictions, relationships are somewhere further down the list."
It was in Rachel's pessimistic nature to assume the worst, that way when bad news hit, she wouldn't be so hurt. In any case, she missed Richard eating her piling up leftovers. It may of tickled an entrée for Victor, and Garfield refused to eat anything with meat – he would kick up a fuss if there were veges beside the meat, claiming it to be 'tainted'. Rachel was amused by the sole fact Garfield knew what the word 'tainted' was, let alone using it in correct context.
"Look," A dark expression fell upon the handsome face of Richard Grayson, he and Rachel were never ones to exchange their feelings to anyone, so this proved to be an obstacle for him. "All I know, is that you were like a sister to me. I'd want nothing more than to be friends with you."
Like a sister. Friends.
These words floating around Rachel's head. She knew she could be more than this if someone let her show them, for now, all she could do is fulfil what she has been for the past how long.
"Condition: You don't let that Tamaranean near me until she can't hear the voices anymore." Her stern face stood strong, something that Richard naturally picked up on. "You know the voices took over her body and made that outburst of your private life. Kori didn't do anything."
"I didn't say Kori was the problem. But the second I entered that room, rage was going out of control. Next, it was Rage vs. the Voices."
"We picked up on that. You two weren't exactly peachy keen when you first met." Richard leant back in his seat, he could obviously conclude a few of Rachel's emotions had a problem with the voices, at least. Rachel folded her hands. "Kori and I didn't have a chance to meet. Rage and the voices went at each other the second I stepped in the room."
"You're saying these voices are able to disrupt your inner peace with your emotions?" Richard looked at the look on Rachel's face, almost to suggest it was ready to laugh at his hypothesis. "If anything, the voices wanted to dig at every emotion and memory I had. Rage retaliated out of – surprise – rage."
"Surprise, indeed." Richard whispered in a small realisation. Rachel knew that when Richard muttered to himself, he had a million of ideas flowing through his head. "Dare I enquire?"
"Wait and see." Richard donned his Nightwing mask once again, with intentions to carry on with his patrol of the city. "Oh, and Rach?"
That rare infamous grin came upon his face. "Chives. That cheese sauce needs a lot more chives."
It was a small and sweet visit, that was all that needed to be said. Both he and Rachel were people of few words, or so he thought.
Both Donna and Vic felt relieved that there would be no tension between the two birds. The last thing they needed was tension to rip the group apart. If worse came to worse, Donna or Vic could ask the alien what they could do as a last resort…
"Wow, I'm glad to hear that you two have sorted it out."
Donna gave Vic a little sceptical glare. "It's Dick and Raven we're talking about. They're not one to let a little slip up get in the way of friendship… even if they don't show it."
"Thanks." Richard gave a small smile, it was always nice to be appreciated and stuck up for by a friend. But his mind was occupied elsewhere.
"Dick, I think you might want to take a look at this."
Richard looked at what Vic had in his metallic hand, it brought a big grin to his face. "You've decoded it?" Vic gave a small wink, "Wouldn't be a digital genius if I couldn't."
Plugging the now decoded transmitter in, the monitor screen initially showed static drawing from the foreign object. A few moments passed as the three intently pressed forward, a large extra-terrestrial came up on screen. A green and yellow reptile like species carrying weapons, tridents so large it would probably put Aquaman to shame. Richard shook his head by a miniscule, if he could make out their facial recognition, they looked less than impressed, almost like something – or someone, had made an enemy out of them.
Donna tapped her finger on the table, eventually putting two and two together. "Psions? Those are the things Hal was on about?"
"Quite a scary looking bunch, huh?"
Richard took note of their surroundings being projected on the transmitter, it seemed to have a darker red undertone to it. Everything was metallic, suggesting their technology far surpassed anything seen on this Earth. "Try sadistic. Look at those solar beams behind them. Ten dollars say that it wasn't used for anything good."
"Correct, as always. I took the liberty to hook up a translator. You're not going to like this."
Vic gave a small sigh, he knew after hearing the audio it would further complicate their lives, but Richard was his boss, and like any other employee, he had to oblige no matter how much he hated it.
"-… of earth as I have reason to believe that a project belonging to the Psion Monarchy has found salvation-…" The transmission began to sway between English and the aliens native tongue, but Cyborg roughly tapped on the translator, no sooner did they hear the transmission in English again.
"-… the one known as Koriand'r rightfully belongs back here as stated in her treated. A mother fleet shall arrive to your planet corresponding to one earthen week to collect the prisoner. Any notions of resistance will be seen as hostile and will be put down immediately."
The screen went blank. Richard leaned back in his seat, heaving a sigh from his thin lips as he looked over to his friends, both sharing an expression that was similar to how Richard was feeling.
"… Thoughts?" Vic knew he would be picked first to express an opinion, but Vic tilted his head to the side. "These were the guys who gave her the ability to shoot of solar powered beams, right? I bet you one of the beams we saw did that to the poor girl. But they addressed her as a project? So is she a runaway?"
"Runaway would be one theory," Donna turned off the monitor, even the blank screen was enough to give her the chills. "But the girl has been on this planet presumably for the past few years, Hal reported that there were sightings of the Psions in orbit, but nothing to suggest hostile activity. Surely they would've picked up her signal then? Why wait for years in advance to collect their project? Something doesn't seem right."
Something didn't seem right, Richard already knew that. But it had to have something to do with her voices, or maybe they were talking to her as they spoke, perhaps the voices had already predicted the transmission being discovered. Walking over to the observatory panel, he saw the girl curled into a ball, rocking herself back and forth as she cried the last of her hopes away.
Richard knew the voices knew something. With nothing else to go on, Richard walked into the room without notice, curling over Kori has she looked up at him. She had the largest emerald eyes he had ever seen, but even in the midst of her horrible negotiation, she began to smile at him.
"I assume the transmission has been relayed to Earth?"
"Why didn't you tell us?"
"What could I possibly have said? That I have been an experiment from my upcoming, burdened with the ability to shoot bolts from my hand? X'Hal cursed me further by allowing me to shoot these rays from my eyes. Then I was stripped of any sanity when the Goddess placed these voices in my head!" Kori pushed him away, screaming as her eyes lit in fury and rage. "These voices have been the comfort and solace since I was dumped off that ship, yet the voices are the reason why I cannot lead a normal life!"
Richard was more than ready to offer comfort to the fallen alien, but the inner detective couldn't let go of one peculiar thing she blurted. Such a thing that would go notice by any other like Vic or Donna who were probably watching right now, but not Richard Grayson. He was too good at this.
"Dumped? So you weren't a runaway."
"Dear X'Hal I didn't think I had the energy to stand after another day of their treacherous torture, escaping from their depths of hell would prove near impossible."
"… And you've had no other experiments performed on you?"
"As far as I am aware, no."
Richard sat down on the bed next to the alien who seemed to have released her defensive barriers. He had a few theories circulating around his head, but there was one thing he was sure of, one thing that he was sure of.
"Do you when the voices appeared in your head?"
"Hmm. I remember talking to them during an unconscious state when I was released from the Psions spaceship depository hatch. I faintly remember the voices forcing me to think of times that would make me happy. Truly happy."
"… and you're sure that these voices were never when you were on their mother ship?"
"I am very certain. The voices express much guilt stating if they were there, they could help me to flee, or even destroy their nation."
Richard sat motionless, his head bowed in frustration and guilt. He was frustrated that he learnt the truth of her fore coming, but guilt overcame him when his logic placed the pieces to her unsolved puzzle. This girl was truly a forsaken beauty, almost like she was doomed to let tragedy throw everything it had at her until she could stand no more. He was certain of it.
"Why do the Psions want me if I was disposed of like trash?"
Gently grabbing a hold of her hand, he had to break the cold hard truth to her. No one deserved to feel the way she was feeling, but no one would wish her life upon another, anyone else would probably find the easiest way out.
Richard stroked her hand, looking deeply into her eyes. Her eyes knew that something was coming, she just wandered her strength alone was enough to survive another storm.
"Kori, you were disposed of because you were a failed project. But you've done something to stir them, and now they want you back."