The three of us had been walking for 3 hours and 42 minutes, and the whole atmosphere seems to have changed. It isn't like before, I'm feeling wind and temperature rise. It no longer feels like the silence before a storm, but I keep shaking my head as what the storm was, or if this is the beginning of it. Probably not. Maybe for once, that detail, the silence, meant nothing.
But I am beginning to think that someone else is here. I am trying to make sense of everything before a dark, uneven shape appeared on the horizon.
"Could it be them?" Artemis asked, her voice full of hope.
"It's too big to be them. Like mountains," I replied. Artemis looked at me sadly and full of disappointment. The last thing I wanted was to crush her hope, so I continued… "Still, I'd rather be in a mountain range than on this thin ice! And the others would have a decent chance of surviving if they found woods in the hills." I was trying to bring back Artemis's shining hope. I succeeded, and she turned to me with a hopeful smile.
"Then what are we waiting for?!" Wally asked in excitement. He ran off, and I began to follow. But I also stopped to consider.
If we were nearing land, or a large island, then the ice would either thin or thicken around the shore. I had to verify that the ice was becoming thicker so that we wouldn't end up falling through when we neared the land. I knelt down and cautiously drilled a small deep hole in the ice. To my relief, the ice was now five inches thick. It was thickening for sure.
I grinned and ran lightly after the others in order to catch up. My footsteps made hardly a sound as I went, meaning I still had a talent for being light and quiet. I hadn't actually been able to walk silently since that night on the rooftop. It was strange, but I accepted it.
I caught up to them and we quietly walked on. I informed them that the ice was thicker, and we didn't have to worry so much about falling through anymore.
The hills were still a long distance off when I heard a small noise. I turned and switched on my night-vision. The moon didn't give enough light to see far distances.
What I saw through the appearance of green was a lumbering form. It was stalking closer, coming from far away on the flat iced plain. I turned and looked towards the island. Even if we ran, we would never make it there before the beast caught up with us, at least, all of us.
"Guys," I said, and the other two turned around to look at me. "We have company." I pointed slowly. The catlike creature was still slowly stalking towards us. And sudden movements might send it into a full out run.
"What do we do?" Artemis asked.
"It's just one little cat! How much harm can it really do?" Wally asked without concern.
"Plenty," I replied. "Or have you forgotten how I looked when I came home? Do you think a 'little cat' could have done that if it weren't dangerous?" Wally swallowed a little, probably remembering the shock of seeing me the first day I returned to our Earth.
"Artemis," I said, turning to her. "Try shooting an arrow at it. Hurt it, try to scare it off, anything. If you have to, trap it and maybe we can make it to the island if it remains stuck for long enough."
Artemis nodded and pulled out an arrow. She aimed upwards and realised the arrow. It flew silently, and the only way to know it hit the ground was the flash of light that followed. It was a flash bomb at the tip of an arrow, and the cat stumbled around due to the temporary blindness.
The cat stopped stumbling and stood still. Everyone held their breath to see what would happen next.
The cat shook it's head, standing roughly 50 feet away from it's prey, meaning us. I slowly pulled a projectile from my belt and several pellets. "Glasses on," I whispered. They slowly pulled out their sunglasses and slipped them on without argument.
The cat shook it's enormous head once more and stared straight at us. We were all tense, which told the beast that it's time for secretly drawing nearer was over. It sprinted forward with great speed. The cat was very thin compared to it's length, and it stretched out over six feet with each lunging stride. Quickly, the gap between us was closing.
As the feline was now 15 feet away, I threw the pellets down, once again causing a bright light to flash. I opened my eyes just in time to see the cat pounce through the fading light and land five feet in front of me. The cat lunged with one more long stride and would have landed on top of me if Kid Flash hadn't dashed forward and sent us both skidding to the side. I regained my balance and resumed a fighting stance.
This monster was different. It had adapted to the light of the flash bombs, and seemed to adapt within moments. While just moments ago it was thin and long, giving it power in speed, it had morphed into a more muscular and thicker form. It was changing with every factor of the situation.
Artemis strung another arrow and let it fly. It landed in the cat's thick shoulder, and penetrated several inches. Without as much as flinching in pain, it turned and pounced towards Artemis. Thank god it was slow.
A billion thoughts raced through my mind as I assessed the situation. 'It adapts quickly, but every time it adapts we have a single try to stop it before it perfects it's new form.'
I relayed the information. "Artemis! Keep the fight interesting! Force it to adapt! KF, the best time to attack is immediately after it changes! Before it can balance itself out!" They both nodded.
Wally distracted it while Artemis ran several meters away. I focused on keeping the cat where it was as Artemis flew arrows. Like I predicted, the cat began to morph. It was finding a defence against the arrows.
Artemis's arrows stopped penetrating and I realised the cat had hardened it's back somehow. It's fur thickened and became intertwined. It provided a padding, a shield. But the under side… it would most likely be vulnerable.
I took out three more pellets and slid them on the ice. They stopped directly on the ice underneath the enemy and went off. One sent an electric shock through the cat's abdomen and the other two exploded, causing the cat's underside to be burned. Now the cat hissed and meowed in displeasure. It turned away from us and ran off, morphing back into it's long slender form as it went.
"Well that was fun," Artemis murmured as she reapproached.
"Dude, I'm never questioning you again. That thing was creepy!" Wally said.
"Yeah, well. I'm actually really surprised none of us got hurt. I guess there was only one, and three of us. And it's really the ones under the ice that are most dangerous."
Wally and Artemis looked down simultaneously, and I tried not to laugh.
"Those mountains sound like a good idea," Artemis gestured to the large peaks. I nodded and we set back on our way. Not even thirty minutes later, we could see the edge of the ice. There was little sand on the shore, but instead large boulders and rock. More pebbles than sand.
A small movement caught my attention. In the shade of large evergreens there was a flicker of white. Snow covered the trees, so I assumed some had simply fallen from the branches. But then there was more movement, and I saw what appeared to be a deep reddish brown.
"Guys, I think there's something in the woods," Artemis said. That confirmed my suspicions.
"I saw it too Arty."
"Do you think it could be the others?" Wally wondered.
"Only one way to find out." I continued towards the tall trees. "Besides, I'm not staying on the ice any longer!" I said jokingly. They were tense, which wouldn't help them in battle. Artemis strung an arrow and I removed a weapon, just to be safe.
A howl rang through the forest and echoed through the mountains until it died on the flat ice. Standing sixty yards away from the trees, we could see many pairs of eyes glowing in the moonlight. The sky had begun to lighten, telling me that we only had an hour or two of night time left.
Again, I felt the change of the atmosphere and cold wind chilled my bones. I took up a fighting stance and waited.
Don't be scared, don't be scared, don't be scared. But it is scary, I saw six pairs of eyes staring at me, each belonging to one of the oversized Teekl-look-alikes. I began to hate these cats with a passion.
"Rob?" KF whispered.
"Yeah buddy?" I scootched further to Wally, as did Artemis, who had an arrow notched on to her bow already.
"Any Ideas?" Well duh, I always have an idea.
"Just kick as much ass as you can." I don't always have a good idea. I heard KF let out an overenthusiastic laugh behind me, letting me know he wasn't scared. The eyes drew closer.
I don't remember who charged first, but within seconds I found myself vaulting over a tiger-thing, landing harshly and forcing myself to dodge another, missing razor sharp claws by inches.
Then my body reminded me that it wasn't in tip top condition, and my muscles strained, refusing to do as I told. My lungs burned for a moment, just a moment, but it was enough time to leave me defenceless.
KF scooped me up, and put me down just out of the fray, Artemis was giving him cover. "You're not quite at a hundred percent yet, huh?"
"I'm pushing ninety." KF snorted, ran back in, and punched a cat in the nose. I made myself useful again, took out a few projectiles, and flung them at a single target. The cat screeched in pain as it's upper back was penetrated twice, the last blade slicing it's side. But the beast wasn't down, and it turned to me in fury. It ran forward and an idea struck me.
"Hey KF!" I called out, and he turned to me momentarily. "I have plans!" I laughed and jumped just as the cat lunged at me. I landed on its back and took hold of my blades. I jammed the blades back into it, just beneath the shoulder blades.
The cat howled in anger as I held on. Wally screamed… "Rob, what the hell are you…!?"
I cheered happily and pulled out some electrifiable metal cable. I managed it into the cat's mouth like the reins on a horse and gave an electric shock. It wasn't enough to render is unconscious, but that wasn't the point. The beast began to struggle again, so I sent another amount of electricity through it.
"Look kitty," I said playfully. "All you have to do is stop trying to kill me and my friends and we'll call you tamed. No more electric shocks. Promise."
I was only joking, but the cat seemed to have understood me. It tensed and stood completely still, seemingly thinking it over. After a moment it stood straight and coked it's head at me with no aggression.
I started to wonder if I was wrong. 'I always thought they were just toys of Klarion's. But maybe… maybe they're just trying to survive. Trying to survive in a world that Klarion controls.'
I lost my train of thought when Wally suddenly screamed. Three large cats were on top of him, and one had bitten into his leg.
'But they were still created by Klarion. They're made with evil. And right now… they're hurting my friends. I can't hold back.'
"Attack!" I told the cat, and accompanied the order with a light kick on it's side. The cat rushed forward, and I noted it exchange glances with the other creatures. We neared, only feet away from Wally when the cat stopped. I was scared again as I realized, these cats were smarter than the others. They were a group, they had ideas, plans. And I wasn't in control of a single one of them.
I jumped as another cat flew towards me, passing over the cat I was sitting on. I was still in pain, and too slow to move fast enough. The cat pulled me off and landed on me.
More prepared than ever before, I broke a vile and held my breath, covering my face with one arm as a toxic gas was released; Scarecrow's Fear Toxin. Don't ask me why I carry it, I have just found enough times for it to be useful. The cat scratched my arm thoroughly and jumped back. I turned to Wally and saw him sitting up, all the cats that had previously been on him were now distracted with me.
The scared monster turned and lashed out at a near cat in fear. the other three cats surrounded it as it continued to resist them. With a nod from the cat I had been riding on, the other two pounced, ripping the struggling cat to shreds.
I stared in horror, forgetting that this would be the perfect time to regroup. The dying cat on the ice never stopped crying as it was torn apart. It only took half a minute for the two cats to step back, blood coating their face and claws.
With one cat dead and Artemis and Wally fighting two, there were now five cats. Three of them stood in front of me. I stood and tried to run, but I failed as the ice under me cracked and gave way. I didn't understand, the ice was so thick here.
I didn't understand until I looked down. There was another beast under the ice, the ones that we really had to be concerned about. It latched on to my torso and pulled me down.
It was a miracle, but yesterday we had found an island. It had four large mountains and many caves, but there were also many beasts. M'gann used the rest of her strength to take us to the higher mountain where there were many rocky ledges out of reach from the monsters below. I scavenged the island and found what appeared to be fresh water and strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Along with coconuts from Palm Trees I discovered by a near shore.
We ate for the first time since arriving on the cold world, each of us eating nearly a two hundred berries. I also killed one of the smaller beasts for meat, knowing that it was not murder, and that nature dictates that we must kill for food. I would never kill a human being, nor Atlantian of other. But just as a person I eat pig, I quickly sliced the furry beast's throat, leaving it in no pain.
I used fire to cook it ledges away from the others to that M'gann would not be affected. Now the three of us waited, sometimes exploring the island. M'gann regained enough strength to fly again, and Conner's previously broken arm was usable, yet still pained him if he tried anything extraordinary to a human.
And I had not slept in days, thought constantly clouding my mind. I often wished Robin had made it to the island with us, and while I try to push the thoughts aside, I can not.
"So what are we going to do next Kaldur?" M'gann stared at me hopingly. I shook my head.
"I am sorry, my friends, but I have no plans. We must remain here and hope that the league will come for us."
"If they aren't here yet, why would they come now? Why would they come now, but not in time to save Robin!? It's been over a week Kaldur, they aren't coming." Conner was having the hardest time of us all. Robin had been there when we rescued Superboy from Cadmus. And while he sometimes became annoyed with Robin's jokes, the boy had helped him in numerous ways. Conner had only us as family, so losing his youngest brother was crushing.
We all missed Robin, we all missed home, and all of us were losing hope.
"At the very least, we are alive, my friends. And we will continue to survive… if not for ourselves then for Robin."
Tears welled in M'gann's eyes, but none spilled over. Conner pulled her into a hug, and I waited, lost in my thoughts once again. I thought back to the nightmares Robin had had within the walls of the igloos. how he had screamed and cried, and how he had been afraid. How he was afraid of me. And yet when we were separated it hurt him, being left alone. I would give anything to go back. To have him back.
Robin didn't need protection, but he had needed a team. And he needed me to be there, to be the leader. To help him learn how to be a part of the team. And I knew, he learned well. He was one of the biggest parts of the team, and if we ever got back, the team wouldn't be the same without him. There may not even be a team without Robin. I'm not sure we could continue to function after losing a member.
We were all pulled from thought, startled by a distant scream. Conner listened and informed me that there was a battle nearby. I jumped through the trees, like Robin would have, and stopped at the edge of the island where the ice met the rock. Not too far off we saw many large beasts, and my eyes settled upon Artemis and Kid Flash.
"They're here?" M'gann whispered.
I shook my head, attempting to clear my many thoughts. Sleep deprivation was taking it's toll on me now, but Adrenaline also coursed through me, waking me up a bit.
We all heard cracking ice and Artemis and Wally screamed out at the same time "Robin!" Wally limped to the edge of the broken ice and stopped, peering into the dark water.
M'gann Conner and I were arriving now, none of us understanding. Robin was dead. How did they get here?
There was a bright flash of light in the water and all of us stepped back, expecting to see some monster coming up from the depths. Instead, Robin came up gasping and clutched the edge of the ice which began to freeze around him. He looked up and I stared back unblinking.
"Okay fine, don't help me out. I can do it myself." He said as he tried to scramble up onto the ice. Before anything else could happen, five large beasts attacked. I was pushed from behind and fell into the water, faintly hearing someone call my name.
I observed my surroundings, notting a large swimming beast under the ice. It had tentacles and latched on to me. I struggled to free myself, but my arms were restricted. I became even more alert as holes in the large appendage opened and more, smaller, stringy arms came out. It was like a vine that has many more small vines splitting from it, and many of them attached to my skin. I became alarmed when several covered my gills and began to creep into them. I struggled and began to suffocate.
It was like I was drowning.
There was another flash of light that blinded me, and my organic bonds were cut. I swam to the surface, my arm being pulled by another. I still couldn't see as we breached.
"Damn, that was my last flash bomb."
"Robin?" I whispered. It couldn't be.
"Sorry kaldur. I couldn't warn you not to look, being underwater and all." There were scraping noises and Robin was tasked with something. My vision was becoming clearer and I could see him struggling to climb onto the ice, just like before. A large cat beast came up and grabbed him with it's claws, pulling him onto the ice. The creature stood over him and placed either paw on his wrists. Robin kicked at it's stomach, but the beast wouldn't move.
I jumped onto the ice and attempted to help him, but another beast attacked me as well. I stood as M'gann hit the cat on the head with a block of ice.
"Robin!" I called as his enemy pulled it's back claws on his leg, leaving long rake marks. It lifted its front paw and penetrated Robin's shoulder, one claw piercing his neck. Robin pulled a blade and sunk it into the beast's side, but the claws were embedded deeply into him.
I wasn't going to lose Robin again, so I pulled my water bearers and ran for the beast. My water snakes wrapped around it and I sent an electric shock through it's body. The way electricity works its that it always flows towards the ground, something I had forgotten at the moment. The beast screeched, and since it was on top of Robin, he also called out in pain as the electricity coursed through him. I stopped.
Robin was rendered unconscious by the shock, but the beast was still awake. It turned to me and removed it's claws from Robin's flesh. As soon as it did, blood began to pour at an alarming rate from Robin's throat and shoulder, and he stopped breathing.
'No, not again.' I am really turning out to be some leader. I try to be almost like a big brother, a friend, but I keep letting him down.
I raced forward and attacked the beast with all of my might. I sliced it with my bearers as swords, and the feline fell to the ice, dead.
I stared down at Robin's unmoving form once again.
I opened my eyes and decided not to move. I sat for a moment, thinking. My head was foggy and my thought blurred. Quickly, I realized that I wasn't breathing and took a few rattling breaths. I went to sit up, but my head spun and Kaldur was suddenly kneeling down over me. He placed his hand on my shoulder, and the other one he used to lay his fingers on my throat. He applied a light pressure to both.
"Robin, do not move. You are losing large amounts of blood." I moaned, not in pain but in frustration. Kaldur thought I was in pain though, and worry instantly crossed his face. He turned and looked towards the others, and I could barely see them out of the corner of my eye.
One cat lay dead on the ice, leaving only four. Artemis shot five arrows at the cat Wally was fighting, and the arrows let out a netting that pinned the beast down. The netting pulled in until it was tight and the cat was unable to move. M'gann and Conner dealt with another two beasts, Miss Martian rendering one unconscious while Superboy had her back. He punched a cat hard enough to make it sleep, but I wasn't sure if he killed it or not.
There was one cat dead for sure. But who had killed that one? It didn't matter right now. There was one cat left and it was running this way. Kaldur looked down at me, then back to the cat. If he let go, I would bleed out. If he didn't, the cat could kill us both.
WIth another plan, I reached into my belt and pulled out a laser. I had brought it in case I fell into the ice and the ice freezes over me, so that I could cut my way out. Now I sat up suddenly, coming into Kaldur's arms, and aimed. The cat jumped and I cut a hole in the ice. The feline fell through and disappeared into the water.
I looked around, there were no more attacking cat beasts. It was funny how much a team could accomplish. I slumped into Kaldur's chest as he held the still bleeding wounds. I was feeling really light headed again, the adrenaline no longer able to make up for the blood loss. I was soaked and bloody, and the cold wind picked up, as if urging me into a cold sleep.
"Robin," Kaldur whispered. "Do not sleep, or you will not wake up."
"I won't, promise." I wasn't hurt that bad. I knew it, but convincing someone else would be pointless.
The others came over and Conner took of his shirt. M'gann ripped it to form bandages and cleaned my wounds. Kaldur carefully poured warm water on them before M'gann placed the andages. I rested my head on Kaldur's shoulder, but refused to fall asleep. After a few minutes, my wounds were cleaned and wrapped, and M'gann moved on to Wally and whoever else may have sustained any injuries.
I was surprised when Kaldur wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into a tight hug. "We thought you were dead, Robin," he whispered. My eyes widened a little in surprise. "We found the igloo in which you and Wolf had gone back to, and there was so much blood. We thought for sure that there was no way you could survive an attack with the condition you had been in." Conner and M'gann looked at me with smiles on their faces, both of them happy I was alive, though I was mad at myself for getting hurt again.
"Sorry," was all I could whisper. I was still struggling to stay awake, and Kaldur wasn't doing much better. None of them were. Kaldur looked like he hadn't slept in forever. Wally's leg had damage; it would heal, but he wouldn't be able to run at his normal speed, or to carry anyone. Connor's arm couldn't lift more than ten pounds. M'gann was so mentally exhausted that she could barely hover. And Artemis… she actually miraculously managed to remain completely okay. She's tough.
"We're a mess, aren't we?" I asked almost noncoherently. Kaldur chuckled.
"Yes, but we are a team, and we are together. We will find a way home, and I assume that the league will at least look for the new arrivals, Artemis and Kid Flash. Surely you have new information?"
"Yes, I have a way home too," I responded, mentally finding a way to tell them about it. No one was going to like it. I looked at my backpack which lay ten feet away. Inside was hidden the helmet of fate.
"How?" I took in a breath and ran a hand through my hair.
Before I could continue, the ice underneath us began to crack. I'd forgotten, but there was another beast beneath us. My adrenalin flooded back as Kaldur stood and jumped back, the ice cracking and the large squid-like monster breaking through.
It stood twenty-five feet tall, at least. It was a pale, unhealthy looking color and had blood red splotches on it's tentacles. Up on it's head, red and blue lightning flashed and Klarion appeared. He wore orange and green, for some strange reason. And the green clothes were far too big, they had to be held tightly on by a belt, and were tied in several places like one might do for a big Tshirt.
"Are those Green Arrow's clothes?" Artemis called out, and we all looked up again. Indeed, they were GA's.
"Oh, look at the little Robin! Found your team I see," Klarion said, mocking me. Kaldur let me down, but gave me support so I wouldn't fall over, though I'm not sure I needed it.
Klarion continued. "It's good you've found them. Now I don't have to use my powers to bring them here." A harsh wind blew. "It's good you're all together… now you, Robin, can watch every last one of them die."
Damn him, really. This was getting old. Kaldur started talking, I'm not sure what he was saying due to the sudden urge to wring Klarion's neck.
A large tentacle stretched out and grabbed Miss M from five feet above the ice. SB jumped to save her, but was snached up in mid air. The tentacle brought Superboy down onto the ice and he cracked through with great force. The tentacle held him under in the deep cold water. We waited a few moments, but there was no sign that he was coming up. Artemis went to help him and she shot three more arrows at the beast, I made a mental note on where they landed.
M'gann screamed, and I lifted my hand and attempted to throw a projectile to help her. Since my right arm was useless due to cat claws, I used my left one. The blade flew, but I couldn't put enough force into it with the condition I was in. It fell short and instead landed, wedged into the ice straight up.
Klarion laughed, though it sounded fake and forced. I could tell he was still mourning. "You missed, bird boy! Not feeling well are we? Good. You won't get in the way too much as I kill your friends." Artemis shot one more explosive arrow and half of a tentacle was severed.
Conner came out from under the ice and gasped a few times. He turned and jumped towards M'gann again, this time Artemis shot anything that tried to stop him. M'gann was freed and the tree rejoined Kaldur Wally and I. We all stood together, none of us thinking it would be a good idea to split up.
I grit my teeth together and I'm sure you could see my face turn red. My patience, as if I had any to start with, was growing thin.
"You killed Teekl," Klarion continued, his voice dropping an octave, "So I killed your precious dog. Now, I'm going to kill all of your friends." Though he was atop a 75 foot sea monster thing, I could tell he was either crying or trying to contain laughter. "I'll make you watch all of them die. Everything you have. Then, I'll lock you up, and I'll make you watch as I kill the Bat too."
Connor and I both snapped. Klarion mentioned Wolf, making all of us angry, especially Connor and me. Then, he mentioned Batman, and threatened all my friends, my father, everyone I cared about. If me dying first was the only way to stop this, then I would fight till my dying breath.
Connor and I both ran forward out of rage, adrenalin, and love. No one stopped us. Side-by-side, we attacked, ignoring any pain. I ignored all of my injuries, the blood, burning lungs, light head. None of it mattered, I was ending this now.
Even if I had to kill Klarion, like I tried to do last time, I would. I was tired of this bullshit.
We both ran, full speed. SB jumped and landed on a tentacle, then jumped higher and landed on another fifty feet up. He looked down at klarion.
I ran straight onto one tentacle and hopped to another as more tried to strike me. An arrow whized by, and I saw Artemis was down to her last quiver. She had brought three when we came to the frozen dimension.
I refocused on the task at hand and made it up above Klarion's head. I jumped down and landed on him, both of us tumbling off the beast's head and onto it's limbs. More limbs came out of the large one I was standing on and latched onto my wrists and ankles. With all of my might on my left wrist and ignoring the pain as the tentacles pulled tighter and cut blood circulation, I pulled a blade and freed myself. The tentacles pulled back and I lunged for Klarion again. I balanced on his tentacle until Superboy landed on the Squid's head hard, making the whole thing squirm and move.
Klarion fell to the ice and I lightly jumped down after him. Kaldur came up next to me while Wally ran up an appendage and M'gann searched for the creature's mind. I pulled out another blade and prepared to strike. Klarion attacked first though and shot bolts our way. Kaldur defended by pulling out and electrifying water as a shield, but Klarion's magic was stronger and when it reacted with Kaldur's bearers, it caused an explosion. Kaldur was thrown back and fell harshly to the ground. Klarion stumbled and almost slipped, but he managed to hold himself up.
"Guess it's just you and me," Klarion said. "I have something special for you." He pulled out a needle. "This will keep you still… but you won't pass out. You'll just be defenseless, and unable to stop me as I kill your friends. You'll be able to see it all. And magically, you'll never be able to move again, and, within a few months, it will kill you."
I threw my blade, attempting to break the vile, but Klarion caught it with his magic and it dropped to the ground. He ran forward and I attacked. I tried to punch him, but my fist was stopped inches from his face. I was thrown back and landed on the ground. Restreints of red lightning came over me and threaded me to the ice. One hand was free and I reached for another projectile. There were none left.
"All out, Bird for Brains?" he came forward and sat down on top of me. He showed me the needle again and whispered some words of victory.
I reached for anything I could use, and to my surprise, found another one of my blades. The one I had thrown to save M'gann, and that had come up short and landed in the ice. I pulled at it, but it was stuck. It wouldn't come out.
I heard several people call my name, their voices blending together. I tried harder to pull the blade from the ice, and i thought it moved just a little. Klarion stuck the needle into my neck just as the blade broke free. I sliced him across his cheek and he jumped back. I pulled the syringe out and was relieved that the serum was still inside.
Klarion fell to the ground and the syringe was left lying on the ice. I came up to him and lifted the blade. I had to end this, I had to kill him. I would never be able to live with myself, but I didn't plan to. I was going to be trapped as Dr. Fate soon anyways. I had no intention of living as a murderer. But kill Klarion… that I was still going to do.
Klarion looked up at me with fear as the blade came down, just like last time. But again, I found resistance as someone caught my wrist. I turned my head to see Kaldur.
"Let go Kaldur. This has to be done."
Kaldur looked at me sadly. "No Robin, don't."
A wave of magic flowed through us and we both screamed in pain. Klarion stood and let his magic go near full force.
If the fish-guy didn't catch his wrist, I'd be dead. I wouldn't of had enough time to use my magic. I suppose I underestimated Robin just a bit, this was the second time he nearly sliced me open with one of his stupid toys. No matter, I sent both him and the leader back a few feet and let them wither and scream in pain.
Robin lay on the ice, bleeding out slowly, and Aqua-something was on his knees, slowly trying to get back up. The syringe lay just a few yards away, you have no idea how hard that was to get, and I had full intent of using it. I bent down to pick it up but something hit me over the head. I whirled around to see Artemis, the blond one that follows Green Arrow.
"Did you just hit me over the head with your quiver!?" The nerve of some people. She can die first.
"Yeah, what are you going to do about it?" I have to admit, she played a wonderful distraction. I fell for it and swung my hand at her. She dodged and backed up a few paces. I followed, somehow forgetting the syringe full of magic serum that lay within reach of the other two.
She threw her quiver at me and I blocked it with my magic and sent her to the ice floor. I loomed over her and readied myself.
Once again, I fell for another distraction as the green girl attempted to enter my mind. We both know she couldn't really do any harm, that she couldn't get in, but it kept me busy and drew my attention from the blond girl who got up and scrambled to the others.
I felt a surge of pain as the alien attempted to pry my memories, and I am embarrassed to say she got a few.
I could see my Pookie next to me on a warm night and her playfully attitude bringing me, a baby deer. I could see her rub up against me and arch her back as I pet her.
The picture of Teekl I stuffed in my pocket before I left grew as heavy as lead when the memory of the day I took that picture came up. That martian girl is strong, strong enough to leave me, the lord of freaking chaos, on my knees with tears in my eyes, begging for Teekl. The episode with her in my mind couldn't of lasted more than a minute, and I kicked her out of my head as soon as I regained myself.
"Stupid Martian." I had to wipe my eyes before I stood tall again. This wasn't over. I couldn't come this far, this far to avenging my best and only friend just to lose here. I cursed myself for being pathetic at a moment when I really needed to keep myself together.
Superman's clone and Flash's kid stood far off, busying themselves with the sea monster I worked so hard to get. I stood to full height and prepared to unleash a extra large bit of magic upon the Green and Blond who stood next to each other just a few feet off.
"You don't understand." I spoke so Kaldur-something and Robin would hear. "I can't lose, I'm too powerful." I felt the power flow through my veins. "And I have a reason, I'm not just doing this for the hell of it, I have a legit reason." I spilled more than I meant to. "She, I, need this revenge."
I lifted my hand and sent a bolt of lighting to both of the girls. The ice underneath them cracked and I saw the drained Miss. M. struggle to levitate both herself and the archer.
I smirked and sent another. I heard one of them shriek as they were set down on a solid piece of ice. "Artemis!" The brave girl was holding her abdomen, and the Martian was trying to help her. I turned back to my favorite two.
They were supporting each other as I walked to them. I could see the desperateness in Robin's glare, his sunglasses lay in his hands. That desperation was the same I had, the need to win, the need to do be better than the other.
We just glared at each other for a moment, then he adjusted his sunglasses and took a step towards me.
"Ready for the inevitable?" I asked him.
He walked away from his atlantean friend, stumbling a bit, and he walked closer to me. "What are you planning to do Boy Blunder? I got you in check mate." I looked for the serum.
His expression was that of disgust, easier to see without the shades. His fists were clenched and his jaw was tight. He was pissed and I loved it. This kid was too easy to play with. I looked around a bit more, hoping to spot the syringe. I admit, I got a tad bit nervous when I didn't see it.
Robin pulled a sharp projectile out of his pocket, and knowing him, he had no intent of throwing it. He intended to beat me with it as he has attempted before. That's fine as long he doesn't actually get the chance, there was a few time he could've. He looked as though he was thinking something, a plan to himself, but it wouldn't do him any good, or that's what I thought.
"Ready to see them die?" I taunted him, hoping he'd take the bait and we could fight a bit more.
"I swear to God, lay one finger on them again and I'll shove explosives down your throat."
"You're chaotic, I love it!" And he did charge. He was sloppy, as expected, he was hitting hard but slow and off center, it was just too easy to dodge. I struck a bolt at him and laughed as he fell to the ground and sent me a glare that seethed hate. Good, I hate him too.
I ruptured the ice around the team females and willed it to start snowing. The daylight would be blinding soon, we didn't have much more of the night left. I sent a lightning bolt to the Fish and he then lay sprawled out on the ice, not capable of much more, which is expected, he too was hurt.
"I said, don't lay a finger on them."
"I heard you." His other two friends were finishing with my other beast and made their way to the leader, so I sent another lightning strike their way. The kid's reaction was hilarious. He didn't yell to them however.
"Now," I bent down to his level, "where is the syringe?" He took a moment to answer, and I noted how everyone was quiet.
"Go to hell." He breathed out. I stomped on his chest, knowing that had to still hurt.
"I live there." I wanted that serum.
I walked over to the group of three, and kicked the snow around them, hoping to feel it. No luck. I looked to the fish man, but he was out cold. He didn't have pockets, so I doubted he had it.
I looked over to the martian and archer. I didn't think they had it. But I looked at the martians horrible poker face and realized something. They were having a mental conversation! How did I not notice earlier?
'No matter, it won't make a difference.' Robin's jacket had pockets, he had to have it, but I knew he wouldn't hesitate to stab me with it. I decided that I didn't need it.
I walked to him again, put my foot on his chest when he was about to get up, and spoke to him. "I hope you're ready." I heard him muttering the same thing under his breath, I think it was something like don't be scared. I cleared my throat to get his full attention.
"...What?" His voice was faint. I said it louder.
"I," he panted, "can't hear you... very well."
I got down on a knee and sneered to him, then summed up my victory speech so we could get a move on. I didn't like wearing those clothes and though the snow created a nice effect, I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. "I win, this is checkmate, ready to see them die?"
The sneaky little bastard brought his good arm up, and swapped me across the face with his little projectile. I pulled myself back and screamed at the agony, pulling my hands to my face to stop the blood. I fell back.
He was on me in seconds, using power that could only be fueled by hatred. I could see it in his eyes, he truly hated me. He was ready to kill me, as I was him.
"No... This is checkmate." He pulled out the syringe filled with the serum, and with much more force than necessary, stabbed it as hard as he could into my neck.
My blood went cold as it flowed through my veins. 'Well played.' I screamed as loud as I could, as if that would make it any better. I woke up all of his little friends. They watched as he used his bare hands to clobber my face, just like last time.
He held back nothing as he hit me repeatedly. I couldn't do anything but cry as the serum worked through my blood and slowly paralyzed me. I put my arms up a few times but it didn't do much good.
Teekl... I failed you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all the times I used you and all the times I took advantage of you. I am truly sorry. You don't know what you have till it's really gone.
The pain was near unbearable when the hitting ceased and he took a breather. I was nearly completely paralyzed, I could feel myself slipping away. Robin raised his fist again.
"...Stop...." I was surprised he did. "I... Don't want to go like this..." The gentle snowfall ceased.
"In my pocket is a picture. I want to look at her one last time."
He nodded, and stuffed his hand in my pocket and pulled out the slightly bent picture of Teekl. The beginning of morning light reflected off the glossy surface. I turned my head to the side and let it rest of the bloody ice. With my last strength, I held out my hand. Robin placed the picture of Teekl in it. It was a picture of her in her larger form, in a field of grass, looking down at the camera showing a blue sky with alot of sunglare in the background. It looked peaceful, and I loved it even if I was chaos.
I let out a wail, knowing that I did lose after coming so close to winning. I lost. I felt him clobber me again. I saw him take out his projectile again, grasping it in hand and ready to end me. His eyes were full of hate, full of destruction. This guy was more chaotic than me.
"I hate you, bastard," I said sternly. Deep down inside though… I felt a twinge. I thought back to when I killed his Wolf, and I felt a little sorry. "Robin…" he hesitated in his motion to kill me. "I want you to feel pain… the pain I feel. Losing the only one you've ever known. The one who's been there the entire time. But when I killed your Wolf. I… I'm sorry about that. You deserved it. The beast… it didn't deserve to die. Just like Teekle didn't deserve to die. When they died, the didn't go to hell like you or I. They didn't go anywhere. I feel no pity for you. But I am sorry, that I killed Wolf."
Robin appeared to be thinking. "He's not dead. He's in a coma." That changed some things.
"Then by my magic powers, he'll be awake when you get home. If you get home. I still want you to die Robin… in the worst way imaginable." I used the last bit of magic I had and cast a spell on the teams familiar. I don't know how I summoned the extra power, or how I found my heart just then, but I did.
"I know," he responded. "So do I."
He fully intended to kill me. I didn't blame him, and the serum would end me in a few months time anyway. I looked to the picture one last time, feeling almost at peace knowing I'd be joining her, and squeezed my eyes shut as he lifted his fist.
Even demon's die.
Back to Robin
I brought my fist down on him again and let out a sob I didn't know I was holding back. I didn't even notice the snow stopping, how I was bleeding again, and I certainly didn't notice how my team started to gather around me till I felt strong arms across my chest, stopping me.
In front of me lay the broken and bloody Klarion, once the lord of chaos, not a corpse. I didn't look any longer.
My arms fell limp as Kaldur pulled me to my feet and turned me around to face him. I couldn't bring myself to look at his face. I'd done it. I killed Klarion.
No one said anything. Kaldur pulled me into a hug and held tight. I felt his heart beat and wished that mine would stop. I killed…
"Let us go home," Kaldur whispered. I knew how to get home… but I didn't know what to think about it.
"Crap," I said. At least I wouldn't have to face Batman. Not ever. Kaldur looked down at me questioningly. I realized that I didn't have my glasses on yet, and it wouldn't matter. I'd be Dr. Fate until I died… they could know who I am.
"Dick…" Wally whispered. "How are we getting home? We don't have magic." I sighed and walked over to my backpack, the others waiting in their little cluster.
I unzipped it and stared down at the Helmet of Fate. Fate… Fate had definitely won the battle today. I couldn't say that I won… the team was safe, but it still wasn't right. There was no victory. Nothing was gained, and too much was lost.
I stood, and before I turned to the others, I slipped on the helmet. I didn't want to see their faces. I panicked as it went on, trying to think back to what the last image of them was. How would i see them for the rest of eternity? It mattered… but it also didn't. I would just let my mind slip away…
"Don't be scared. don't be scared, you can do this Grayson. Don't be scared.'
I heard them scream as the helmet went on, then there was silence. A light glowed dimly, and I saw the helmet in a different light, darkness completely surrounding. I was inside now, a vast emptiness.
I looked to Dr. Fate. "Take them home," is all I said, all I could bring myself to say. He knew what was going on.
"It will be done."
I sat down in the darkness, the light of the helmet fading away. And I, myself, began to slip away as well. The darkness would be all I know… I only had to give it my time.
I admit, that was possibly the hardest, most terrifying thing I've ever done, but I'd do it again and again for my team as long as at the end of the day, we can go home a family.
They screamed as they realised Robin's plans, all except for Artemis. Kaldur ran forward and grabbed him, but it was far too late. There was a flash and Kaldur jumped back. When he looked up again, Dr. Fate was levitating in front of them.
"He wishes only for you to go home," he said. No one else said a word, only started as a portal was torn open. In a state of shock they entered the portal. None of them could find words.
Moments later they were standing in Mount Justice. It seemed far too big. Empty and hollow. It was silent, and they hated it.
Quietly, M'gann began to cry, no one knew how to comfort her. KF dropped to his knees and let out a heartbreaking sob, and Kaldur just remembered the haunting look he saw before the helmet went on. Wolf  trotted silently into the room, all of his wounds cleaned and healed. He could feel the intense depression and darkness that filled the mountain, and he knew the youngest member wasn't going to be coming back. He stopped at Conner's side and liked the boy's hand affectionately. Conner scratched him behind the ear, but nothing more.
The mountain remained silent and empty, only the few sobs echoed through the caverns.
Artemis remembered a few words by a man named Orson Welles, and then told to her by Robin. Ones that she could finally know as true. He said, "We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone."
Once upon a time, Artemis argued that the world is overpopulated. We are never alone. Even when you most want to be alone, you never can be.
But now, with all but one person here, everything was empty. Robin was right, we are all alone. 'I could have stopped it' she thought. 'I could have...'
In the Watchtower
There was a flash of light in the meeting room. Flash, WonderWoman, Superman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Zatarra, and Batman all stood at the unexpected event. Dr. Fate was levitating a foot above the large table, facing Batman.
Batman instantly recognized the small and slender form of his young ward, and deep down inside he felt instant pain.
"Release him," Batman said quietly, deep emotion seeping into his voice.
"I can not. He does not wish to be released." Dr. Fate replied. This surprised Batman, and the feeling of pain drained into emptiness and determination.
"I will find a way to free him," Batman warned.
"I have no doubt." Fate replied.
"Even if I have to go to hell and back, you will not have my son."
"Then do as you will… this boy will be waiting."
Batman nodded and simultaneously Dr. Fate disappeared and Batman swiftly left the room. Now it was a race against Fate.
And Bruce would have his son back… no matter what.
Three Months Later
Now tell me… When has Robin ever given up? He's much too stubborn for that…
In the deep mind and darkness of the Helmet of Fate, Dick Grayson was alive, and full of thoughts and feelings. Every now and then when someone would call him Robin instead of Doctor Fate, or talked to him as if he was still in there, he would wake up a little.
Inside, he could feel it, each day, he could do a little more, think a little clearer. Still, the thought of what he's done and how he'd talk to the others if he was free always quieted his head drew him back into the dumb trance, drew him back to just being an empty shell.
It was fair to say the league didn't exactly want to see Doctor Fate very much, something about him using a child through them off, they told him so. In all the past three months, the only time he had been needed was for meetings and a brief guarding mission, that's it. Dr. Fate had no doubt that if he had just an older body, they would accept him.
Oh well, he didn't need their acceptance.
Today was just another meeting. A big meeting with most of the members and the Young Justice team, but a meeting all the same.
Dr. Fate would have to deal with everyone's disapproving stares the whole time.
"Everyone here?" Superman asked, taking it upon himself to take attendance. He took a rough head count and started to begin. To be frank, Dr. Fate, nor the thirteen year old inside, cared a bit about what he was saying. It took five minutes for him to realise he was talking about new members.
Looked like Aqualad was in the running, and some other heros no one had ever heard of.
Batman, who sat beside him sighed and Aqualad and M'gann, who sat a bit off to the other side smirked at him with enthusiasm. Apparently, Batman couldn't care less too.
Dr. Fate, no, Robin, had noticed Batman's behavior as of late. He was drawn back, much more angry and impatient. Dr. Fate looked to Batman, and found himself wondering how them man was adjusting. Dick Grayson stirred a bit inside when he thought of how Batman must've been dealing with the criminals in Gotham.
Gotham... He missed it so.
"Can I help you?" Batman had caught him staring again. Then man usually ignored it, finding it hard to talk to Dr. Fate.
"No." Dr. Fate answered briefly but Dick Grayson found himself wanting to continue on into conversation. The rest of the room seemed to be buzzing with conversation, though neither of them where paying enough attention to know why or what they were discussing.
"You in there chum?" The question caught both of them off guard.
Dr. Fate took a long time to reply, Robin was taking control and impairing his thought. "I think so."
Doctor Fate looked to the Young Justice team with a sense of longing, and witnessed the way they were staring at him secretly, waiting to see any sign of their team member.
'I miss them.' Dr. Fate was experiencing a booming headache and the child inside him going crazy. He wanted out, or atleast control.
Dr. Fate stood up and cut Superman off. "I must leave."
"...Uhh, you sure? We were just about to take vote-"
"I must leave now." Dr. Fate insisted as he hurried out of the room. It hurt Robin inside when all he got was a few strange looks and shrugs, not any questions on why he was leaving or anyone following him to check if he was okay.
He walked through the halls, the chatter of the main room disappearing with each step. He found himself in the bathroom, sitting in front of the mirror. The only visible sign of Dick Grayson from the outside was the distressed blue eyes watching through the eyeholes.
He panted, the child was gaining control. It was too much. Dr Fate couldn't handle it, the emotions were too strong and his host seemed fully awake.
'You in there chum?' That put him over the edge.
Dick Grayson was awake, and he was done hiding, done fretting about what he did to Klarion and what the others though of him. 'Fuck this.'
"We should go back to the meeting." Dr. Fate pestered.
'I don't wanna, I don't like your orders.'
"You have no choice but to obey."
'Make me!' To prove his point, Fate turned and silently walked back into the meeting room. Aqualad had not been chosen as a new member. No one said anything as Fate returned to his seat, they tried not to even recognize him. They didn't want to think about it anymore.
'Fate, I'm going to make hell for you. I'm warning you!'
"What can you do, child?" Fate whispered under his breath so quietly that none could here. Superboy and Superman glanced his way, but tried not to stare, they were busy in conversation as well.
'I… I'm going to insult your mom! Because… she's fat! And ugly! And don't get me started on the way you're dressed. You look like a golden dumbass. You're going to die of OG! Over Gold! It's like an overdose, but with Gold. And you know what? You're…'
"You're acting childish." Fate whispered, this time neither Superman or Superboy looked his way, no doubt they heard though, along with a few others. Including Batman, who found himself hoping beyond hope that Dr. Fate was talking to his ward which would show he was still in there.
'I'm tired of this Fate. I don't care what they'll say to me, and I don't care about what happens afterwards. I want out. I'm not going to put up with it any longer.'
Fate was staring at the window that overlooked the Earth. The eyes reflecting in the window showed more emotion that Dr. Fate had felt, or seen, in months. They sparkled with denial and arrogant disobedience. 'I need my life back. And I can't help but feeling I've done something terrible to my friends by leaving… and to Bruce. I am a child Fate, and I want to live. I need out. I want my father, my friends. I have so much to live for. I'm just a kid.'
Everyone had said the same thing… that he was only a child, just a kid. And Dr. Fate finally realized, they were right. It only took three months of childish insults, defiant glares, and on and off fighting. "Yes, you are." He got why he had been getting all the harsh looks, why everyone was protesting. His host was a kid. He'd stolen this child from his father, from his friends. Even if Dick Grayson chose to put the helmet on, Fate couldn't contain him any longer. Dr. Fate was no villain, and holding this boy was wrong. He wouldn't do it any longer.
Doctor Fate stood and the hero placed his hands on the helmet. "Are you ready?" Everyone in the room looked to him with questioning looks. The room fell silent after a few intakes of breath after realising what he was about to do.
"...Yeah." He carefully pulled the helmet off, all eyes turning to him. He stared directly at Kaldur and smiled, his eyes shining with a stunning happiness in which he hadn't felt in a very, very long time. He was ready to live.
A/N: Well, that concludes our story. It's taken months and gobs of time, but we truly believe this story has been worth it. We hope you all liked it... please review and tell us what you think. Based on how this story is reviewed, there may be another partnership in the future.
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