ALL-STARS TEEN TITANS
CHAPTER NINETEEN: TITANS DIVIDED, PART II
At the abandoned Observatory, where Deathstroke and Robin used to have their fight. However, the rest of the Titans arrived, but once again a little too late. “Oh man. We missed out on him again. And by the looks of it, it seems he had a rough time.” Cyborg commented, seeing how the entire place was ransacked.
“You think Robin may be captured by Deathstroke, or worse?” Beast Boy asked worried.
“My scans don’t detect any blood that has been spilled, so probably nothing too violent. But from the details I can’t make out who won…and they are both no longer here.” Cyborg noted.
“So they must have either fled or Robin has been kidnapped.” Raven noted.
“So we’re back to square one! That’s just great!” Beast Boy said.
“I know nothing about geometric shapes being numbered, but I believe that what friend Beast Boy tries to say is that we are back where we started.” Starfire replied.
“How are we going to find Robin now? We have no clues, we have no leader and we have no way of knowing where they may have ended up.” Cyborg wondered.
“Maybe I can be of assistance.” A sly voice said as the owner became visible, turning his camouflage gear off. They recognized the hoodie and the skull mask. “What’s up?” The Hood asked.
“You? What do you want with us?” Cyborg said as he aimed his sonic cannon, and the others took battle stances.
“Whoa-ho-ho! Easy with the firepower tin can. I’m not here to fight. I don’t even have the gear to take you all on at once. I’m just here for negotiations. But to do so I would appreciate if you don’t point that bullhorn at me.” Hood said as he gently pushed the sonic cannon of Cyborg to the side and talked to him in the face. “You want to know where bird boy and Deathstroke went, and I can help you find him.”
“Wait, how would you even know about Deathstroke? Are you in league with him?” Beast Boy asked.
“Hey, the green one can think. Excellent. Yes, he hired me for a job, he wanted me to test the bird boy. That’s all. I didn’t kill anyone or the likes. And paid me handsomely for it.” The Hood said.
“And you are going to return the favor by betraying him? Nice guy you must be. How do we know you are not going to betray us in return?” Cyborg asked suspiciously.
“I am looking out for myself and myself only, I admit that, and I also admit I do this to gain something out of it. But no way I am going to let you guys get yourselves killed. I have standards. Deathstroke has less clean standards then me, and I don’t like that when I found out he was up to. I don’t like being part of it. While it would be suicide to go up against him like I am now, I realize you would also probably have a piece of him…” The Hood said. “If you don’t believe me, the goth chick can tell if I’m lying, right?”
“I hate to say it, but I can’t sense any malicious aura. It’s not a clean aura, but he is truthful, for the moment.” Raven noted.
“It’s not because he doesn’t lie he doesn’t tell the entire truth. Why would we be accepting help from a common thief motivated by greed.” Cyborg said.
“Correction, I am not just a thief, I am a Master Thief, I’m in a whole different league then most other small fries you have sent to jail. I don’t even care about the riches, all I want is to make a name for myself. Look!” The Hood said as he pulled out a bag and tossed it at Cyborg’s feet. “I’m even returning the loot from my last robbery. That shows how little it means.” The Hood said.
“These are the genuine article…still, it could be a trick.” Cyborg noted.
“You know what, I understand you are probably skeptical about me. So I give you some time to think about it. If you need me…here is my card.” The Hood said as he tossed his calling card at them, Cyborg catching it in his hand.
The card only said ‘The Hood’. “There are no means to contact you mentioned, how will you know we’ll need you in the impossible case we need you?” Cyborg asked.
“Believe me, I’ll know.” The Hood said as his invisibility booster activated again and he vanished.
“Hey, wait, you still didn’t tell us what made Robin act so screwy!” Beast Boy said, but there came no response. Beast Boy became a dog, and smelled, but turned back immediately. “Gone…He has some good cloaking, I couldn’t even smell him.”
“We are seriously not going to negotiate with the likes of him to get Robin back, are we?” Raven asked.
“He may be our only lead to Deathstroke.” Starfire said sadly.
“We shall do this ourselves. We may have a setback, but we are not going to be put down that easily.” Cyborg noted.
On top of a tall skyscraper, a figure stared at the building on the other side of the street, some kind of important development company. He pressed his ear, using the communicator. “I have a visual, I’m ready to retrieve the package.”
“Excellent. Now, don’t hesitate, move in and get the price.” A reply came from the other side of the line. The apprentice ran to the edge of the building and jumped all the way across the street to the roof on the other side, without even flinching or hurting from the long jump, and moved further. He pulled off a roster of the ventilation shaft and pulled it off.
With his slim form he was easily able to navigate through the shafts, until he came to a point where it was a dead end. Probably many have tried the ventilation to get into the vaults, so the ones to the vault weren’t connected to the main network. He had to leave the vents. He saw two guards pass underneath him. He tossed a small X through grates in the vents, the X spreads out in the middle of the air, each leg grabbing one of the guards’ heads and then retracts, smashing their heads together.
He came out of the vents and walked through the corridors. He shot several X’s at some nearby security camera’s forcing them to loop to avoid suspicion. He came across the vault. It was equipped with voice, handpalm and eyeball recognition. However, he could surpass that by just tossing an X on the board, short circuiting it, so that it would recognize his eyes, voice and hands as authorized. He then went in.
There were several lasers surrounding the object. A small but very powerful microchip. He moved up to it. He scanned it for one final security. An alarm sounds whenever someone would try to remove it. He would swap the chip for a fake faster than the system would register it was moved in the first place. But he hadn’t touched it as the alarms went off. “What? I didn’t trigger this!”
Several guards came in and pointed their weapons at them. “Stay where you are, thief!” The intruder swapped the microship and waved his hand, setting up a huge X-shaped shield that blocked the shots that the guards had started firing at them. He then rushed away, the guards on his heels.
The shield has only lasted temporary, allowing the guards to chase after him. However, a lot of the guards, once turning into a corridor, walked right in a giant X that was strung like a spider web in the corridor and got stuck, others stepped on X’s on the ground, that glued them to the ground. Though a group managed to evade the traps and fire at him. The intruder dodged them all easily and then turned around, fired several X’s, which exploded and created a smokescreen, which distracted the guards. When the smoke cleared, he was gone.
Not gone, just having reappeared in the rooftop of the building, the chip still in his hand. He spoke in his communicator: “Target acquired!” he spoke.
“Excellent, now return to base immediately.” He was replied with.
The communicator was turned off as he twirled the small but potent microchip in his fingers. “The four of you can come out now.” He said softly, as the four other Titans came from the shadows.
“Are you that desperate to get close to Deathstroke? By stealing?” Cyborg asked.
“I am already close to Deathstroke. I’m doing this because he asked me to.” Robin replied. He turned his face towards them…he now had a face mask similar to Deathstroke, half orange and half black, only both his eyes were visible.
“You can’t be serious, after all that trouble you went to get him, being all obsessed and freaky, not to mention a total prick about it, you just decided to be buddy-buds?” Beast Boy asked.
“He made me see things a different way…Everything he did up to now was test me, he saw a potential in me. He has his very own view for the future, a view that we tried to make true but can’t as things are now. Not with the methods we use…no, I can create a better future, but I have to cut several attachments.” Robin said.
“You don’t even make any sense anymore. And I can’t read you to find out what is wrong. But what you are going to do is to give back what you stole and come quietly with us.” Raven noted.
“Make me!” Robin said as he prepared to battle.
“Last time we held back Robin, but if you do not stand down, I am not sure if I allowed to do the same this time.” Starfire said, the saddest of the four. “Do you even know what you have put us through? We thought you cared, you believed in us as a team. You said we made the difference. Back then I believed that…and I still do. So I will keep fighting for it.”
“You know, I’ll regret having to hurt you the most Starfire, you were always optimistic, too optimistic. But I think I can get over that.” Robin said as he prepared himself.
Raven began with her chantra: “Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!” and launched a black energy wave at him, but Robin pulled out an Nth Metal X (which repels magic), which cut through the attack, but Raven dodged in time to no be sliced by the X…only to find it turning around and chasing her, forcing her to keep flying away to dodge.
Cyborg aimed his Sonic cannon at Robin and fired several blasts, but Robin agilely dodged them all, as he then fired an X in an attempt to short-circuit him, but the X bounced off Cyborg. “I made several mods since last time!” as he then fired his hand like a missile, which grabbed his face and knocked him in a wall. Robin cut himself loose with the X-blade on his hand, only to see Raven in front of him, pulling up and let the Nth Metal X rush at Robin, who was forced to cut his own weapon in half.
Beast Boy in rhino form charged at Robin, who jumped up at the last second, making Beast Boy charge in the wall, but he shrugged it off. Robin fired a gooey X, but Beast Boy became a bee to dodge it, then a hawk to rush at him. Robin was ready to dodge, but Starfire grabbed him from behind in a neckhold to stop him. Robin shocked her to force her to let go and dodged the swooping hawk.
“You guys have improved. But you haven’t even seen all the gadgets I created.” Robin deplayed two X’s which unfolded in a pair of drones and flew after Raven and Starfire. He then created two slashes in the shape of an energy X to send at Beast Boy and Cyborg. Raven and Starfire flew up with the drones on their heels, while Beast Boy became a gorilla, grabbed Cyborg and pulled him out of harm’s way, and used the dexterity of his new form to get close to Robin.
Starfire and Raven dodged the X’s the drones shot at them, both of them retaliating with their spells and starbolts, but the drones seemed to be immune. They then got an idea, and they just had to inform each other by looking in each other’s eyes and nod, making several turns and twists until the drones flew into each other and crashed.
Both Cyborg and Gorilla Beast Boy got close and engaged in close combat. Robin was agile yes, but in gorilla form Beast Boy also had surprising agility and dexterity to back that up as he grabbed Robin’s wrist and tossed him around, Cyborg using his Sonic cannon while Robin was in mid-air. Robin put up an X-shield to protect him, but he was still knocked back. He got up and saw Raven and Starfire approach him, and Cyborg and Beast Boy joined into cornering him.
“Ok…You guys really are going all-out. Admirable determination.” Robin noted.
“It is what you used to stand for as well.” Starfire noted.
“You’re right…Used to!” Robin said as he then activated something he hadn’t done during the battle: the Xenothium-powered warp belt, using it to quickly warp, reappearing behind each of the four, tag something on their back, warp away, repeat until he reappeared in the center again. He held a trigger. “I didn’t want to use this…these X’s are really explosive, and not the concussive ones I normally use. I can just pull a trigger, and you’ll be out of my way.”
“Is this what you really want, after all we have been through together?” Starfire asked sadly. She dropped on her knees. “Then go ahead. I already lost two families now. What reason is there for me to carry on?”
Robin had one of his fingers dangerously close to the trigger. But then he hesitated…right before he crushed the detonator in his grip, which made the four explosive X’s drop of them. “Final warning. Stay out of my way!” Robin said as he vanished thanks to his warp belt.
“That was a risky move you pulled off, he could have blown us up, you know!” Cyborg said.
“If he really has become as malicious as we thought he would be, he would have done so anyway.” Starfire noted. “Robin is not completely lost to us.”
“He is lost in a different sense, because he is gone now. How do we track him down this time?” Beast Boy asked.
“I know of one solution, but none of you is going to like this.” Starfire noted.
“Oh no, not him. Anything but…” Cyborg groaned.
“I hate to admit it, but he is the only one who claims to have a lead.” Raven added.
“Fine…” Cyborg said as he pulled out the card. “But where do we find Hood?”
“You called?” Hood said as he shed his cloaking again and reappeared.
“Where you here the whole time? And you did nothing?” Beast Boy asked.
“I would have knocked the detonator out of his hand if he were to push it, but it seemed you had everything under control. So, you reconsidered my offer?” Hood said smugly.
“Yes…I don’t like this, but show us where he is. And tell us what makes him act so messed up, which you conveniently forgot to mention last time.” Cyborg growled.
“Deathstroke has a substance…He called it Miraclo or something like that. Last time I got my hands on it, but left it there, he would have been really ticked if I swiped it. Besides, I don’t want to sell drugs, that is wrong. As far as I can tell, it makes you stronger and faster, maybe even smarter, but also messes you up in the head.” Hood said as he made a circle motion with his index finger around his head to emphasize it.
“So, how do we get an antidote?” Cyborg asked.
“I don’t know if Deathstroke even has one, but his lair with the lab is the best place to look. I can lead you there. I was brought in blind-folded so he thought I wouldn’t be able to see its location, but I have other senses and ways of perception…” Hood said.
“There is something for you in it, otherwise you wouldn’t help us. You claim to not like Deathstroke’s style but there is something else for you, is it?” Raven asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Indeed. I won’t lie about that. But that’s something you four will have to put up with, otherwise you may never see your friend again. I’ll help you get to him, and to the lab where the drug is fabricated, and in return I get a ticket to my own goals, everyone wins, you’d be foolish to not accept this deal. You were not doing well on your own when tracking stuff down…” Hood said.
“You leave us with no choice…” Cyborg growled. “Tell us where we need to go.” Five minutes later… “That is Deathstroke’s lair?” Cyborg looked at one of the flashiest looking buildings in the city. “Would be too obvious.”
“Hiding in plain sight, unexpected but effective villains strategy.” Hood noted.
“How can you get us in without being spotted?” Cyborg asked.
“I can’t…too tight. You’re in, he’ll know. So you have to work fast.” Hood said. “Deathstroke has the works; robots, trained soldiers, security and a freaky scientist who is probably responsible for most of your rogue gallery.” Hood replied.
“We will take our chances.” Starfire said firmly.
“You’re all very brave…or foolish, what’s the difference? You know, you can also take your chances with me, hotstuff?” Hood asked Starfire, but she just let her eyes glow green menacingly. “Yikes…I’ll shut up now!”
“There’s no turning back…we are bringing our friend back!” Raven said as the heroes were ready to enter.
“You did a great job retrieving the microchip, apprentice. It will come in real handy for future projects.” Deathstroke said as he put the chip away. “Though…you had a chance to get rid of the other Titans, yet you didn’t take them.”
“They were enemies, but had no ill intentions, I saw no need to dispose of them.” Robin said.
“Ill intented or not, they are a threat for the future we want to create. It may not be fair, but it’s a necessary thing to do. We are heading the right way. We can’t be distracted now. So next time you see them…you finish the job.” Deathstroke told the apprentice. “No prisoners.”
“No sir…no prisoners.” Robin replied.
“You’ll have to put that to the test soon enough.” Deathstroke said as he pushed a button on a console and security footage of the Titans entering the lair and sneaking around appeared. “No cold feet?”
“Never.” Robin replied.
TO BE CONTINUED