**Please see author's description. Thank you.
*~ The Shocking Truth ~*
Really, I was amazed that I escaped HIM so easily. My unique ability to create and conduct electricity made me a valuable asset to HIM. After another two whole months of "training," I was finally able to escape the "cell" HE put me in every night. Actually, I didn't even know where I was. It was dark, and I was running on... sand, perhaps? I didn't stop to find out. My waist length, dark brown hair flew behind me as I pushed myself faster.
After about an hour, I stopped and collapsed panting, heart racing. I guess I fell asleep, because the next time I opened my eyes, I saw the sun shining above a distant mountain. I jumped up, rubbing my eyes and taking in my surroundings. It appeared as though I was on an island. Must be HIS lair
I was on a beach near the water. There was a small channel of water between a larger body of land. Freedom.
I swam across the channel, and started running again. I stopped when I reached civilization. It was what looked to be a park, completely void of life. I sighed, sat at a picnic table, popped off my shoes, and rubbed my sore feet. It appeared to be just before noon by the position of the sun. I held my stomach when it growled loudly. I really need food.
Suddenly, I felt a familiar electric tingle under my skin, signaling something electric was nearby. I quickly shoved on my shoes and jumped up, rubbing my hands together to gather the resting electric charges in my system. Then, I saw them. At least two dozen of HIS clones creeping out of a forest to the east. I raised my hands, and shook my head, scoffing. Why would HE send something I could so easily dispose of?
I stretched my hand towards the advancing clones, and willed an arc of electrical energy to push through my hand. Causing one to freeze in shock, the current strangely did not travel to the next bot, instead, the one simply kept walking as if unaffected. Had HE modified these Robots somehow? A surge suppressor, maybe? Is this why HE let me escape? To try out HIS new bots on me?
Anger surged through me, causing my blood to boil and a greater charge flow to my clenched fists. I tried to shock one again to no avail, but told myself not to panic, as HE would most certainly be watching through one of the clones. Once they reached me, I sprang at one and latched onto its back, sending an incredible voltage through its framework directly. I hopped off as it short-circuited and fell to the ground.
I smiled in satisfaction, but was suddenly grabbed from behind by a remarkable force and slammed into the ground. The breath was knocked from my lungs, and I gasped for air. Now that I knew how to defeat them, I wasn't sure I could do so to each one before they overwhelmed me. Plus, it took an insane amount of energy to generate a high enough change to overload one, let alone twenty.
Just as I finished off the second one, my shoulder was gripped by three pairs of unbelievably strong, metal hands. I was flung through the air, crashing into a swing set and knocking it down.
I blacked out.
Snap! Snap, snap!
"She's out cold
"Should we move her?"
"Where would we move her, Beast Boy?"
"I don't know, Raven... Aren't you supposed to move unconscious people?"
"Beast Boy... you're an idiot."
I blinked away my blurry vision to see a small green hand snapping in my face. Just beyond the hand was a wild-looking boy
a green boy.
"She's awake!" he shouted in a shrill voice.
Encircling me was a strange sight. Beside the green boy was a dark-looking girl with a dark blue cloak, purple hair, and shadowed eyes. Another girl stood nearby, looking at my curiously with bright green eyes that stood out against her very tan skin and purple clothes. I gasped when I saw the huge, cyberneticly augmented man with dark skin, one eye an artificial red light. Lastly was a boy with jet-black, spiky hair, a black eye mask, and a small black cape.
I sat up, grabbing my arm when I felt a sharp pain, and tried to speak, but a cough came out instead. I tried motioning with my arms that there could be more danger.
The dark girl with the cloak stepped forward, and her voice was like acid, "Who are you? Did Slade send you?"
I looked down at my tattered black and orange uniform that HE had given me, and realized the misunderstanding right away. They thought I worked for HIM. I opened my mouth to explain, but I couldn't find my voice. I stood up and grabbed my throat.
"Well, obviously, he didn't send her if his own clones were attacking her, Raven. Although, it's strange that she's in those clothes," said the black-haired boy, eyeing me skeptically.
I didn't appreciate his talking as if I weren't there, and I put a finger up to object, yet my voice still wouldn't work.
Focusing their attention back on me, the tan girl said, "Friends, I believe her speech does not work."
I opened my eyes wide, pointing rapidly to her and nodding my head. They all gave some form of 'oh.'
"Have you always been this way?" asked the cybernetic man.
I shook my head and motioned to the ground where I woke up, then to the pile of broken robots.
"They hurt you and broke your voice?" the tan girl suggested.
I smiled at her choice of words, but nodded.
"That still doesn't explain it
who are you? Why are you here?" the dark girl snapped, glaring.
I was confused by her anger with me, so I looked around for something to write with. I picked up a stick from the ground, and smoothed out a patch of dirt with my shoe. I wrote: "I'm Dezerae was Slade's prisoner, but escaped." I paused and let them read it, then added, "No trouble, please."
The tall man stepped up and smiled. "If you're friendly to us, we're friendly to you."
I nodded, mouthing, "Thank you."
"Friend Dezerae," began the green-eyed girl "do you have any other injuries?"
I remembered the pain in my arm from before, looked down at my half-torn sleeve. I pulled it up to see a bloody compound fracture. I gasped from the sudden pain and merely the sight of it and the cyber man came over to inspect the break.
I began feeling light headed and queasy when he said, "Robin, this is bad. We gotta get her back to the Tower
The black haired boy nodded. "Beast Boy?"
The green boy winked at me. "Gotcha covered!" He morphed into a sleek green jaguar.
The world (along with the jaguar) began swimming, and I felt ringing in my ears. One more look at my bloody arm would have been just enough for me to pass out.
And I did... again.
I woke in a dark room. My head throbbed. I groaned and reached up to massage my forehead. I gotta stop passing out
There were beeps coming from a red and blue screen above my head. I tried to move my head to look around, but the pain was too severe. I squeezed my eyes shut until it stopped. It didn't.
Creeeeeeeaak! Squeeeek, slam! I recognized the opening and closing of a metal door (a sound with which I was all too familiar), and tried to see the shadowed figure of a person through the dark. I jumped when an unusually warm hand touched mine, and my eyes shot open to find large green one looking down at me in surprise.
"Oh! Friend Dezerae, you are awake!"
I tried to speak, but quickly remembered my impediment. It would take some getting used to. I moved my left arm, and was surprised to find only sore muscles. How did it heal so fast?
"I am sorry for your pain. You see, our friend Raven healed your injuries, but it will take some time to stop the hurt." I saw her frown even through the dark.
I nodded in appreciation. I wanted to ask what she meant by 'healed', but again found myself silent. I sighed in frustration and shook my head, sending a knife of pain through my skull.
"I don't believe we were properly introduced, friend. I am Starfire. I came to earth from Tamaran, a planet very far from here!" she said cheerfully, smiling.
I blinked in confusion.
"Oh! I brought this box of words!"
She handed me a book-sized computer pad with a touch screen keyboard. First things first. "Who are you people?" I typed.
She giggled. "We are the Teen Titans. There is Robin our leader Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven, and myself. The defenders of justice and Jump City!"
I nodded in response, recalling HIS mention of the 'Teen Titans.' I tapped on the pad, "Slade does not like you people at all."
"Nor we he!"she giggled, standing. "Friend Cyborg instructed me to give you food when you woke up. Are you hungry?"
I nodded, typing, "Where are the others?"
"They left to search for Slade. I remained to look after you."
I smiled in thanks, and she glided out of the room. I laid back, careful not to bump the goose egg on the back of my head. Starfire brought some food, and I barely had any energy to eat anything before I was dozing off again.
Sleep took me under its thick darkness of dreams
HIS cool, even voice met my ears harshly through the darkness. "Give up, Dezerae. More need not die, hopelessly protecting you."
I opened my mouth to defy him, but no sound came out. To my horror, I realized that a cold hand was wrapped tightly around my throat. I gasped for air and clawed at the hand until my head began to spin. Just when I thought it was over, I managed to pry the hand from my neck and stumble away. The black floor seemed to melt away, and I fell down into the dark abyss. What seemed like a hundred hands took hold of me and restrained me so I couldn't move at all. I kicked and screamed, trying with all my might to break free from that darkness...
I felt someone grab me by the shoulders, and shake.
I opened my eyes and gasped, realizing it had just been a dream. 'Give up, Dezerae.' I shook my head to clear my head, and saw a boy with jet black hair and a black eye mask. I was thoroughly confused until I remembered
the Teen Titans had protected me.
The boy jumped back when I sat up quickly, and I looked around at the room I appeared to have slept in. Daylight was barely visible through the dark curtains of the one and only window in the room, but I sensed that it was morning. My body hummed with dormant electricity, and I noted the various computers in the room. Like the one above my cot that monitored my pulse, which beeping its cathodes off.
"Are you OK?"
My eyes stopped on the boy once again, and I opened my mouth to respond. I found that I still couldn't speak, so I settled for a nod. This must have been Robin, the leader of the Teen Titans.
"You slept for almost 16 hours. You must have been exhausted."
Sixteen hours? But what about ? "Slade!" I mouthed, tracing the letters in the air.
Robin was surprised at my actions, but his shoulders slumped when he understood. "Oh, don't worry. No sign of him," he said drearily, frowning.
I let out a sigh of relief, maneuvering to the edge of the bed. I noticed that my headache was gone, replaced with a stomach ache. I stood wobbly, grabbing my head from dizziness, and stumbled forward. Robin caught my arm just before I fell. This, of course, due to the thin cloth of his glove, resulted with him receiving quite a good static shock.
"Erg!" He doubled over and grasped his arm in pain.
Shocked, I held my hands up in surrender, hoping he hadn't misunderstood. I had very good control over my power, but not the touching part.
Robin stared at me. "What was that?"
I was scared that I had seriously hurt him, but I could very well say it. I gaped like a fish.
Just then, the dark girl called Raven stepped into the room. I hadn't noticed her standing in the doorway. "That was electricity, Robin. She conducts and channels it." She paused, fixing her piercing blue eyes on me. "Don't you?"
The severity of her glare made me slightly uneasy, but I nodded rapidly anyway. I wanted Robin to understand that I hadn't really meant to hurt him.
Just in time, a voice called from the other room, "Breakfast!"
Raven gave me a significant look before going back the way she came. I bit the inside of my lip nervously. "I'm so sorry," I lipped to Robin, shaking my head miserably.
"Er, don't worry about it," he said, shrugging. "She's like that to everyone."
I sighed when he misunderstood me, and followed him out to the next room. It was much larger than the medical room. There were windows everywhere, with a large flat-screen computer council in what appeared to be a living room on the lower level. Several steps higher, was a large, state of the art kitchen. Robin took a seat at a table, where nearly everyone else had already sat. The cybernetic man was at the stove with a chief's hat on. Robin and Raven went to the table and sat down; I didn't miss the significant looks they exchanged. The boy that had morphed into a jaguar was helping the "chief" with the food, and Starfire waved and smiled from her seat at the table. I couched into my hand to hide my shyness and waved back at Starfire.
The man in the kitchen turned around when he heard me. "Well, looks like Sleeping Beauty finally woke up! Did ya have to kiss her, Rob?"
Everyone laughed but Robin and Raven. I blushed and reached for the man's hand, which he had held up in greeting.
"I'm Cyborg," he said, smiling. I returned it easily, and took his hand to shake. A ripple of static went through me when my gloved hand touched his. I opened my mouth to say 'Dezarae,' but failed.
"Dezarae, right?" he asked unquestioningly.
I nodded. Starfire patted the seat next to her, and I smiled as I sat down. At least someone like me. Robin and Raven's cold stares make me nervous. I felt something nudge my arm, and I looked over at Starfire. She held out the computer pad from the previous night. "Perhaps this can help," she said, smiling.
I nodded in thanks.
Cyborg took off his hat and turned the stove off. "Well, I found your problem while I was patching you up. With your voice, I mean." He laughed and sat a plate in the middle of the table. It was stacked high with waffles. "I'll show you after breakfast, though you need to eat."
I nodded, trying to take his words to heart. There were plates and forks at each chair, and Cyborg sat down across from me. Half a second later, the green boy was in the seat on the other side of me. "Hey, there," he said, raising his eyebrows. "I'm Best Boy!"
I gave him a small smile. Then, remembering the pad, I typed, "You shape shift?"
"Yep, that's me!" He stuffed a forkful of waffles in his mouth and swallowed. "I tried to get them to call me 'Beast Man' but that didn't end well AH!" Raven smacked his aim, efficiently silencing him.
I silently laughed as she turned to me, "You may have guessed; I'm Raven." She nodded formally in greeting.
"How did you know about me?" I typed, then showed it to her.
She smiled a tiny smile and said, "I... am very perceptive." No one offered further explanation, so I dropped it, becoming extremely frustrated with the little computer pad.
Breakfast was finished with the Titans discussing their most recent battle, filling Starfire in on what she missed. Beast Boy was very friendly to me; I couldn't wait to actually talk to him. Robin left after everyone introduced themselves, taking a plate of food with him. I was afraid that I had offended him some way. But, before I could really worry about it, Best Boy swept away my empty plate and Cyborg took me back to the medical room.
"Now," he began as I sat patiently on the med-bed. He turned on a small computer screen on one of the walls, and started tapping on the touch screen. "It looks as though losing your voice was not an accident."
He brought up an x-ray on the larger screen above the bed, and zoomed in on the neck. It was my neck.
"Do you see that?" He pointed to a black speck in my larynx. I nodded. "That is no ordinary black speck," he said, chuckling. "It's a vocal inhibitor. Probably put there by
" I knew what he meant when he trailed off.
I put a hand to my throat as I looked at the x-ray. I didn't feel anything there, but I knew that HE had done weird things to me.
"Don't worry," Cyborg said. "I can deactivate it. It responds to a certain wave frequency; like an on and off switch. But
it'll take a while to decrypt the exact frequency." He frowned.
Suddenly, I had an idea. I hadn't lost my voice until the encounter with the clone bots HE sent after me. So, perhaps the inhibitor responded to the same frequency that HE used to control the clones
and I knew that frequency.
I hopped down from the bed and walked over to the computer Cyborg had used. It was requesting the frequency. I looked back at Cyborg, and smiled, gestured to the screen.
He looked surprised. "You think you know it?"
I nodded. He stepped aside and I typed the code I knew by heart. Any scrap of information I found in HIS dark prison I committed to memory. I stepped back and nodded to Cyborg.
"You sure?" he asked. I nodded again, sharply and surely. "All right," he sighed, doubtful.
"Here goes." He sent the wave. It was supersonic, but I felt a small pain in my throat. I gasped, clutching my throat. Concerned, Cyborg raised his cybernetic arm and pressed a few keys. Was he scanning me?
"Did it work?" I asked in a dry voice.
Cyborg smiled, lowering his arm. "Apparently!"
Just then, I heard clattering outside the door. "I think it worked," a voice whispered.
"What did she say?" another asked.
"Move and I'll tell you!" the first voice said harshly.
Suddenly, the door banged open and Beast Boy fell into the room, flat on his face. Starfire flew in too, hovering above the ground with her hands clasped to her chest. "Oh, friends! Did the not-hearing sound restore your speech?"
I smiled at their antics. "Yeah, it wor " before I could finish, Starfire had me in a bone-crushing hug.
After Beast Boy marveled at my newly-found voice, Starfire took me to her room to lend me some new clothes. She and I were about the same size; she was only two inches taller. I was still in the tattered uniform that Slade had given me. Starfire told me that Raven had healed my arm while I was sleeping. I wondered if I'd ever get the right chance to thank her.
"So, friend, how long were you prisoner of the vial Slade?" Starfire asked, sifting through her closet. The closet covered a whole wall in her room, and was packed with various items of clothing, all with price tags dangling from their sleeves. Apparently, she was quite a shopper.
I frowned at the question and sat on the bench at the end of her bed. "Two months
this time, that is. He's captured me three times before, but I always escape." I'd said it lightheartedly, but Starfire still frowned.
"That is a terrible thing, I think," she said sadly.
" I mused. "Not so much so much at first. When I was young, he helped me control my powers. I don't know what would have happened if he hadn't
" I trailed off, deep in memories. "But after a while, I got
curious. I wanted to know what the world was like; not just the inside of a laboratory."
Both of us where silent for several long moments.
"Do you have 'the parents' here on Earth?" she asked tentatively.
Her question surprised me; I didn't often think of my parents. "Yes. But they didn't love me, I guess, because the only memory I have of them is saying goodbye at a foster care center." I sighed. "Slade found me when I was eight. That's when I first used my power." I looked at my hands, then clenched them into fists. "And now, six years later, he's still
controlling me." I shook my head in frustration, staring at the carpet.
Starfire walked over to the bed and sat down slowly. I looked up when she put a warm hand on my shoulder. "As the Teen Titans, we promise not to let Slade harm you again." She smiled, trying to cheer me up.
It worked. I even managed a small smile back.
After some trial and error, I found myself in some dark-blue jeans with a light-blue T-shirt. Starfire said that the blue matched my eyes. I kept HIS gloves and boots, which were reinforced with a low-conducting compound. I also kept the special belt and bracelets HE made for me. They were designed to focus my spare electricity to my hands. Starfire used her powers to burn HIS uniform into a pile of ash.
There was a knock on the door just when I asked her about Tamaran.
It was Raven. "Robin wants everyone in the living room. Some big, important meeting," she said in false interest. I felt her eyes on my back as we three walked back to the main room.
Beast Boy was waiting for us in the hallway, and he complimented my clothes. I shrugged. "Thanks. Starfire lent me them." I caught her eye, and we exchanged smiles.
Robin was sitting at the head of the table in the kitchen again, his hands folded on top of it. He was frowning, and he didn't look up when we came in the room. Raven told me to sit at the foot of the table, directly across from Robin. Beast Boy sat on my right with Starfire on the left, and soon Cyborg came to sit by Raven.
Robin cleared his throat once we'd all sat down. He addressed me, but didn't use my name. "Now that you have your voice back, welcome to Titans Tower."
His masked eyes made me nervous. "Er, thanks. I don't know what I wouldn't done with those bots yesterday if you guys hadn't helped me. So
thanks again." I chuckled apprehensively.
I was met with a chorus of "no problem's" and "we're glad to have you's," but still a cold stare from Robin.
Beast Boy laughed. "Yeah we're glad to hear you with us!" he joked. Cyborg gave a "boo!" and Raven slapped his arm again. I smiled, and Beast Boy grinned hugely when he saw my reaction.
"Anyway," Robin interrupted, continuing business. "There's still been no sign of Slade. Could you tell us more about where you escaped from?" Still, he didn't say my name.
I matched his expressionless face with my own. More than one could play that game. "On an island about ten miles east of the park you found me in. Though, I suspect that he's already left there."
Raven leaned forward, watching me intently. "Why would you think that?"
Everyone's faces were serious now, and I glanced timidly from one to the other. "Well
because of the vocal inhibitor that Cyborg found." I paused, but they were all waiting for me to continue. I swallowed dryly. "Slade sent those clones after me, predicting that once I was in Jump City you guys would know about it
intervene. Plus, the frequency to activate the inhibitor was the same that controls the bots, leading to my inability to inform you of his location. Until now, when he's had ample time to move to another facility. All this leads me to believe that he actually let me escape yesterday morning, in order to set all this in motion."
After my little speech, everyone seemed to be deep in thought. Especially Robin.
Beast Boy looked confused. "OK, OK, I think I get it. But why?"
I shrugged. "It's just a theory
it may have all been a coincidence."
"No," Robin said right away, "nothing having to do with Slade is ever a coincidence." He scowled.
"I disagree, Dezerae," Raven said, watching me with empty eyes. "You are far too valuable of an asset to Slade for him to just
'let you escape.'" She used air-quotes to emphasize my own words.
"You control electricity, right?" Beast Boy said. "That sounds like Slade's style
" he trailed off when Raven glared at him.
"Well, it's kinda like that
," I said. I'd never really had the need to explain my power to anyone before.
Thankfully, Cyborg put up a finger and said, "I went over those scans, Dez, and I think I got a pretty good idea of your power. May I?" He gestured, asking if he could continue.
I was momentarily fazed by what he'd called me. "Dez." Nobody had ever called me that before. "Er
yeah, go ahead."
He looked excited, and leaned forward like he was sharing a juicy secret. "Every cell in her body seems to have an extra valence electron in every atom. These electrons come together and are somehow converted into dormant static electricity. More electrons are always being produced by her cells; that why when you come in contact with her skin, you get a shock."
He glanced at me, and I nodded enthusiastically. He was hitting the nail on the head.
"She can control the voltages at which she releases her electricity. But there's one thing I don't get," he said, looking at me. "Can you control electricity around you?"
I bit my lip uncertainly. I wasn't sure I could explain it as well as he had. "Um
not really. I can't control outside static, but it doesn't affect me like it would you. I can sense it, though. Like when I shook your hand this morning, Cyborg!" I said, chuckling. "I could tell you were more machine than man."
"Like a static detector!" said Beast Boy, smiling. I nodded.
Robin held his chin in his hand, with his elbow leaned on the table. Raven looked bored, as though she'd already known all about me. Starfire never stopped smiling.
"One more question
," Beast Boy said slowly.
"Yes?" I encouraged.
"Can you give us a demonstration?" He grinned wickedly.
I stood at the beginning of the track, feeling pretty nervous. These were the Teen Titans. Would they be impressed by a little zap here and a little zing there?
"OK!" Cyborg called from the control booth. I knew they all were watching. "Like I said, the objective is to knock out all the dummies and not fall while you're at it. We'll time you and see if you can beat Beast Boy's score."
I swore I heard a small, "Hey!" before he continued.
"Are you ready?" he said into the microphone.
I gave him a thumbs up. "As ready as I'll ever be," I mumbled to myself.
"Alright. Get ready!"
I got into a running pose, eyeing the steep ramp ahead of me. It was so vertical that I couldn't see beyond it.
I took a deep, steadying breath. "You can do this, Dezerae," I whispered.
The incline was more abrupt than I had accounted for, so I pushed myself harder to get up in good time. I reached the pinnacle and staggered to a stop when it dropped off about twenty feet. I jumped across the chasm to the next platform. When I landed, the platform tipped with my weight. "Woah!" I ran to the center to stabilize it.
Once it was steady, three training robots dropped from the ceiling and surrounded me. I put out my hand and willed a high charge from my fingertips. The electricity shot into the bot, causing it to short circuit. When it fell off the platform, it became unbalanced again. I ran to the side to weight it down, and the other two robots followed me. "Oh, no!" As I ran to the other side, I sideswiped one of the robots so it fell off its feet. Them, it slid down the tilted side and onto the ground below. I took out the last one by shocking it like the first.
After I was safe, I looked around for the next objective. There was rope in front of me, hanging all the way to the ground. I took a hold of it and slid down. My feet landed in water, and I looked up to see a large pool of knee-deep water. About ten robots came online at the far end. They may have been waterproof, but not shockproof. I leisurely walked toward them as they worked through the water. Then, I broke into a run. Once I reached the first one, I jumped into a summersault. With my hands held in front of me, I delivered the highest voltage I could to the water's surface while in mid-air. The water glowed blue with arcs of electricity, and the bots shuttered and shook as I landed safely on the dry edge. The charge cleared up as the bots fell down into the water with a splash.
Looking for another goal, I spied a ladder that led back up to the ground level. The test must be over, I thought as I walked toward it. Scaling quickly, I found that the test was definitely not over. About thirty operational bots stood in a big open space. I let then run at me as I rubbed a charge together in my hands. They were pretty close when I was ready, and I put my palms out toward them, delivering the widest attack that I knew how to do. Five of them caught the current and collapsed, but the rest the still coming. All my charge was used up.
Getting an idea, I ran to one of the downed bots and put my foot on its shoulder. I took its hand and jerked up to rip its arm off. I felt my natural charge flow into the conductor, and I swung it back behind my head like a sword.
Bam! Wack! Buzz!
Every hit from my makeshift shock-sword brought each bot quaking to the ground. Once every one was down, I dropped the arm to the ground and looked for my next goal. There was none.
I looked to see Starfire flying full-speed towards me, squealing. She touched down in front of me and grabbed my shoulders, and shook. "Friend! That was truly glorious! You are quite the battle warrior-ess, are you not?"
When she stopped, my head felt dizzy. "Er
" I quickly took my gloves from my pocket and slipped them on. "I-I guess so." Then, everyone else was there to congratulate me.
"Girl, you beat my time!" Cyborg slapped me on the shoulder and laughed. "In fact, you beat everyone's time! Except for Robin's!"
My jaw dropped and I turned to a rather stone-faced Robin. For the first time, he cracked a smile and stuck out a hand. "Congrats. You're pretty good."
I smiled back, somewhat uneasily, and we shook gloved hands. "Thanks."
Beast Boy jumped up and down beside me. "Are you kidding me? She was amazing! She was all backflip and shock the water! Electric robo-arm! Dezerae, your power is cool!"
I laughed as Beast Boy waved his arms around, trying to prove his point. "Th-Thanks
Raven spared me an emotionless nod. "Good job. You pass in my book."
The rest of the day, Starefire and Beast Boy gave the grand tour of the Tower; they even showed me the room they'd set up just for my use, right next to Starfire's. Cyborg was working on a new gadget for the Titans, as he regrettably told me. Beast Boy explained Raven's snubbing by saying she wasn't really the "social type." However, neither of them bothered to give an excuse for Robin... which left me to my doomsday thoughts.
Just before dinner, Cyborg and I had a long techy talk as he showed me the new motion tracker device he was designing. It was at the dinner table that I discovered Beast Boy was a vegetarian. I shared a good laugh with Cyborg as Beast Boy forked out all the meatballs from his spaghetti.
After helping Starfire with the dishes (it was her turn, as Raven had reminded her), we joined the rest of the team in the living room to watch a movie before bed.
I sat in between Beast Boy and Starfire, Cyborg next to Beast bow, Robin on the loveseat, and Raven on the floor. (Hovering above it, actually.) I was still trying to understand the extent of Raven's powers; her abilities seemed unfathomable.
The movie was an old zombie horror film, which made it that much funnier. Beast Boy, Cyborg, and I laughed ourselves silly when the woman's head screen when rolling down the hallway; Raven gave a small eye roll; Starfire gasped and hid her eyes; Robin shook his head and tried not to smile.
During the movie, I couldn't help but glance over at Robin from time to time. He was just outside of my field of vision, so every inch he moved caught my attention. Every time, he would be looking back. We would both snap our gaze back to the screen, coughing or rubbing our eyes to cover it up. It was quite frustrating, as the cause for the tension was unknown to me.
Near the end, I felt a pressure on my right shoulder, and looked over to see a deeply sleeping Beast Boy. I shrugged, but he didn't wake up. Trying not to smile, and focused on the movie. When the end credits began to roll, I pocked Starfire to get her attention, and pointed to Beast Boy. She giggled and went to pick him up as Robin turned on the lights.
"That was hilarious!" Cyborg said, stretching his arms over the back of the couch. He glanced over at Starfire floating out of the room, the sleeping boy in her arms. "BB fell asleep? That's rare... Enjoy it while ya can, Dez."
I laughed lightly and caught Cyborg's contagious yawn.
Raven lowered herself to the ground, and stood. "That... was retarded. Goodnight." She left, followed by a chorus of 'goodnights' and 'sleep wells.'
"Have a good evening, friend Raven," Starfire said as she passed her in the doorway.
Cyborg stood and yawned again. "Go easy on that arm for a few more days, Dezerae. Raven healed it up pretty good, but it'll be a little sore."
I rolled my arms and flexed by fingers. It was a little sore. "Noted. Thanks, Cyborg."
"Yeah, no prob. I'm gonna plug in for the night. Sleep tight, y'all!"
"Goodnight," I said.
"'Night, Cy," said Robin.
"Don't let the bugs bite you in bed!" Starfire called, and then shuttered. She hugged me for the umpteenth time that day, and this time I remembered to take a deep breath. "Goodnight, new friend! I do hope that your room will be satisfactory for tonight."
"Satisfactory" would be the last term I applied to the five-star suit that they called a room. "Are you kidding? It's way more than satisfactory! Thanks for everything you've done for me." I smiled warmly as her face lit up.
"You're most welcome, Dezerae. I shall see you in the morning!" She floated away, but stopped to glace back at Robin. "Goodnight, Robin," she said coldly.
"Er... 'night, Star."
I didn't miss the discomfort between them; I wondered what it was all about.
Robin ducked his head and began walking towards the sliding door that lead to the hallways. Then, he stopped and half-turned to me. "Goodnight, Dezerae," he said over his shoulder. "Maybe we can train more tomorrow
I cleared my throat awkwardly. "Yeah, I'd like that...," I choked out.
He turned to walk away.
Not wanting to miss my chance, I stepped forward and called, "Robin!"
He stopped again to face me, and his severe eyes were questioning.
I swallowed the lump in my throat. "Um
Why don't...? I-I mean..."
He sighed impatiently and took a step toward me, waiting until I could form a sentence.
I put the tips of my fingers together to calm my nerves. "Why
don't you trust me?" I asked pointedly, meeting his glare.
"I trust you," he said half-heartedly.
"No, you don't," I countered, gaining confidence. "You think I'm a spy," I accused.
He looked rather shocked, and opened his mouth to say something... but didn't.
"It's OK," I said, "I would feel the same way if I were you. Slade has lots of tricks up his sleeves."
His posture stiffened when I spoke the name.
"So, Robin, how can I prove to you that I don't work for Slade?" It felt as though I had his self-confidence, leaving him with my clumsiness.
"Dezerae..." His mouth hung open slightly, and his eyebrows went together in thought. "I don't think that you "
Suddenly, a loud siren made me jump.
Beeep, beeep! Whooop, whooop! Beeep, beeep!
Red lights flashed everywhere, and I held my ears. Robin immediately ran to the main computer, and brought up some security video. Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven were back in the room not two seconds later.
"What is that?" I shouted over the noise.
Robin glared up at the screen. "It's a robbery downtown... It's !"
"Red-X!" Robin growled through his teeth. The security video on the screen showed a man running down an alley, but all I saw was a black cape.
"May I come, Robin? I can help!" I said, clenching my fists.
He shot me a suspicious glance as the others got ready. "I don't think that's
"Trust me," I said softly, pleading with my eyes. "Please, trust me."
He still seemed unsure, but he nodded sharply. "All right, fine. Where's Beast Boy?" he called, just as Beast Boy came stumbling into the room.
He yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Wa'sup?" he asked tiredly.
"Dezerae is coming, so you'll have to carry her. We need to get there fast."
His face brightened, and he gave me a huge green grin. "This'll be awesome. What would you prefer: Pterodactyl or giant hawk?"
Before I could even put sense to what he'd just said, I was on the back of a giant flying dinosaur. I yelped when it jumped from the roof of Titans Tower, and gravity seemed like a whole new concept to me. The wind whipped at my loose hair and stung at my eyes, but the sensation was like none other. We crossed the water surrounding the Tower in no time, and soon, the glowing cityscape was flying out from under us.
Starfire carried Robin by the arms, as Raven did with Cyborg. "Ugh! You're so heavy!" Raven complained in monotone.
"Told ya we should've taken the T-car!" Cyborg shouted, crossing his arms.
"Stop fighting, you guys! We're almost there!" Robin yelled, silencing them.
I clutched the sides of the dinosaur with my knees, and tightened my arms around its neck. I held my breath as we descended lower into the buildings of downtown. The dinosaur cocked its head back and looked at me. The eyes were Beast Boy's, making me smile.
I screamed when he swooped down super-fast, holding on closer. "Beast Boy!"
He leveled out and glanced back again, and I thought I saw him smile.
"There! They're trying to block him off!" Robin called.
In the street, there were at least five police cars. Blue and reds lights flashed across my face as we passed over them. Raven and Starfire touched down with Cyborg and Robin, just beyond the blockade. "So
where is he?"
Just then, my eyes caught a dark figure coming out from in between two buildings. The man whirled around to face the Titans, and I could see a large, red "X" across his torso. A white scull mask covered his whole face.
"You won't get away this time, X!" Robin yelled, and the other Titans fell in formation behind him.
However, paying no attention to them, the caped man looked right at Beast Boy, who was still in flight with me. He suddenly took out a strange-looking gun and shot at Beast Boy. Banking abruptly to avoid the red blast, Beast Boy tossed me right off his back, sending me falling twenty feet to the hard concrete. Flashes of HIS training exercises played through my head
I rolled my landing to soften the impact, and stopped in a crouched position.
Explosions and yells burst into action between Red-X and the remaining Titans, and witty phrases were exchanged frequently.
Keeping my wits, I ran over to where Beast Boy had fallen. He was covered in sticky, red web-like material. He was in human form, unconscious but breathing. I bent over him and tried untangling the red stuff, but it was way too tight. I tried shaking him awake. "Beast Boy?"
Suddenly, there was a blast that knocked me to the ground on my back. I sat up and coughed on the dust that the explosion caused. My eyes stung and I couldn't see a thing. Then, I felt somebody grab my hair and lift me up. I gasped at the pain and frantically grabbed for whoever it was, trying to stand to my feet all the while.
"Well, well, well... What do we have here?" a low, husky voice said.
I squinted and looked up. The white mask that looked down at me was tipped to the side in curiosity.
"A new Titan?" He lifted me right off the ground to his eye level, and I cried out at the fire in my scalp. I griped at his strong wrists and gritted my teeth in pain. He cocked his head from side to side, getting a good look at me.
"Let me go," I commanded, glaring at the hollow black eyes of the mask.
"Put her down, X!" I heard Cyborg shout. Starfire had been pinned to the side of a building with a large "X" with a smaller one on her mouth. Raven appeared unconscious on the ground far away. Robin and Cyborg stood across from us. Cyborg's plasma cannon glowed blue, and Robin held a boomerang behind his head.
"Sure, kid... why not?" said X. He dropped me to the ground and bolted down the street.
Robin took off in pursuit, running past me. Cyborg crouched next to me. "Are you OK?"
I rubbed the back of my head; it was sore. "Y-Yeah. You better help Robin," I added quickly.
"Right." He left after Robin and X.
I stood shakily, glancing up and down the street. It was a battlefield: craters from explosions were in the street, and red "x's" were scattered everywhere. I felt hopeless. I could've helped a lot more, but the thick of battle caught me off guard. Training in HIS laboratory was a lot different than the real deal.
"Hey there, hottie."
I whipped around to see Red-X casually leaning on a building. "You! But
how did...?" I looked from him, to where I'd seen him run down the street. I hadn't seen him double-back.
"It's a hologram," he laughed, shaking his head. "They're so stupid
"Oh, no. You're the only stupid one here." I rubbed my fingers together, keeping my hands nonchalantly at my sides. I kept my face expressionless.
"Is that so?" he said, amused. He pushed off the brick building and walked around me in a half-circle, then stopped. "What's your power?" he asked amiably.
"I really shouldn't say," I said, imitating Raven's neutral tone. "You may find it quite
He stepped behind me so I couldn't see him. "I'm always up for a surprise, cutes."
He grabbed me by the shoulders, but I was much faster. I grabbed his wrists and crouched, flipping him over my back. Unfortunately, he brought me tumbling down along with him. He was back on his feet before I was, but he stood back to let me make a move.
Angry, I fell for his trick and karate kicked him right in the "X" on his chest. "Hy-ya!" He didn't even flinch, instead, be caught my ankle and twisted. I flew to the ground painfully, and the impact knocked the wind out of me. He grabbed me up by the collar and slammed me into the building.
His masked face was just an inch from mine. "You may be a hottie, but you can't fight! AGH!"
I kneed him where it counts and punched him right in the jaw. This time, he staggered back. "Is that so?" I mocked.
He growled furiously and rushed at me. I held out my hands I front of me, and the charge was so gathered that it surrounded my hands in a pale, blue glow. But I'm sure it was the shining blue eyes that stopped Red-X right in his tracks.
"Who are you?" he shouted.
I stepped forward and delivered a good punch to his face
well, mask. If I over-did it, he might be more harmed than the Titans wanted him to be. He staggered backwards
and disappeared in a flash of white light.
I staggered back, and held the fist that I'd hit him with. He'd felt so real.
"Dezerae!" Cyborg shouted, running back up the street. "What was that light? Are you hurt?"
I shook my head and looked down at my looked down at my still-glowing hands. I clenched them tightly and squeezed my eyes shut to calm my charge. When I opened them, my clear blue eyes took in Cyborg's worried expression. "I-It was a hologram... I think. Where's Robin? The hologram said that you chased the hologram!"
Cyborg discharged his plasma cannon. "Rob's still after him. I'm pretty sure the X we had was the real deal. He had the stolen... thing." He seemed uneasy, and turned away quickly.
I watched as he easily freed Beast Boy from his restraints. He was still out cold.
I ran over to Starfire, pinned to a building. Her shouting was muffled by the "x" covering her mouth. "Starfire! Oh no..." I gently peeled it off, and her voice was shill and panicked.
"Friend! I am eternally sorry for leaving you with the Red-X that is evil! Even if it was a hologr "
"Starfire! It's OK! Look I'm fine." I fiddled with the large "X" that was stuck to her. "I was just, uh... caught off guard." I tore the sticky red stuff in half, and dropped it onto the sidewalk.
Starfire twirled into the air. "As I was, too. Is Robin unharmed as well?"
"I don't know..."
"Y'all!" Cyborg called, waving us over. Raven dusted her dark cloak and kicked Beast Boy's shoulder as we reached.
Beast Boy sat up and rubbed his head. "W-What happened...?" He groaned.
"Robin is chasing X, trying to get the Xenothi er thing." Cyborg was acting suspicious.
Beast Boy suddenly jumped up. "Dezerae! I'm so sorry I dropped you! Are you OK? Is anything broken? I'm so, so, so sorry!" He cowered in front of me, biting his fingernails.
I put my hands on his shoulders to stop his nervous movements. "I'm fine, don't you see? Don't be sorry it was X!" I stepped back on my left foot, and winced when there was a sharp pain in my ankle.
Beast Boy gasped in horror. "See? You are hurt! Where is it?" He forced me to sit on the pavement, and he started pocking likely places to be hurt.
"It must be from when X ah!" I eased my boot off; my ankle was swollen.
Cyborg crouched next to me. "How'd this happen?" he asked.
"Well, the hologram kinda, er, twisted it." I winced again when Cyborg put some pressure on the front of my ankle.
He chuckled at my expression. "It's defiantly a sprain. Raven, can you take care of this?"
"Sure," said Raven's droll voice. She floated over with a vacant expression. Putting a finger on my ankle, she surrounded it in white light.
"Good as new...," she said blandly.
I rotated my foot and jumped up, smiling. "Gee, thanks!" Yeah, I felt stupid after I said it.
Just then, a light on Cyborg's mechanic arm flashed red. He rose it, and pressed a small button near the small display screen. Robin's face popped up on it. "Cyborg, come in."
"Yeah, we're all here. What happened?"
I saw a scowl on Robin's face. "X got away. But not with the Xenoth er stuff. I'll drop it off where it belongs you guys head back to the Tower and get some sleep. Robin out." The screen went blank abruptly and everyone exchanged looks.
Starfire dropped to the ground and sighed. "Friends, we should return home..."
All at once, I realized how late it actually was. The moon was already high above Jump City.
"Yeah," Beast Boy yawned. "I gotta get my beauty sleep..." Raven smacked him as she hovered by; he didn't even notice. "How are we getting' home?" he asked tiredly. "I'm too tired to fly."
I giggled when he turned into a green kitten and curled into a ball.
Cyborg rose his arm again. "I'll have the T-car come pick us up. The taxies don't run after midnight."
Starfire cheered. "The glories of technology!"
"Um... I'll catch up later. You guys go ahead."
They all looked at me strangely, but they were too tired to dispute. They waited for the T-car to respond to Cyborg's remote activation while I stole away down the street. I noticed a squishy sound with each of my steps, and I scraped my boot on the pavement to wear off the red, sticky adhesive that was attached to my sole.
Once I was out of sight of the Titans, I ducked into an alley and slumped against the side of a building. I rubbed my aching temples, and tried to stop and think for a moment.
Slade would be bound to come for me sooner or later. Did I want the Titans in the way when that happened? I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if anything ever happened to Starfire... or Beast Boy... or Cyborg... or any of them. I considered how hard it would be to try to stick it out on my own.
I pulled my knees to my chest, and rested my chin on them. I stared at the ground and shivered in the cool evening air. My long, dark brown hair nearly touched the ground as it flowed over my shoulders. I saw a drop of water on the pavement, so I turned my gaze to the sky, but the stars above twinkled clearly. When I began to become puzzled, I felt hot moisture on my cheek. Gasping, I wiped it away.
I looked at the tear on my gloved finger. Why would I be crying?
I jumped at the sudden voice, and sprang to my feet. I roughly rubbed my eyes to clear my cloudy vision. And there stood... Red-X.
"You again?" I laughed, raising my fists. The charge left over from before jumped to life, and my eyes filled with a radiant blue light. My hair stood on end from the sparks of static jumping across my knuckles.
He chuckled at my defensive stance, and strapped his gun onto his belt. "In the flesh," he quipped, raising his hands in surrender.
"Your hologram sure enjoyed getting to know me." The Titans' clever phrases were rubbing off on me.
"Ah, yes," X sighed. "The prototype. Glad to hear it was a success... Its creator will be pleased." He chuckled, twirling a small red "x" between his fingers.
My ears perked up. "Its creator, hu?"
"Yes... you'd really like him, Dez. He's the real-friendly type." I heard the smirk in his words.
"So, it was him that hired you?" I prodded.
"Yep. That's him. The job's complete now... except for one thing..." he trailed off, and I knew he was drawing me out.
"And that would be...?"
"This." He turned and ran down the dark alley, jumping nimbly over the chain-link fence at the end.
I dashed after him instinctively; the chase was on.
I rounded another corner, panting after running so long. There he was again, flashing out of sight behind another building. I pushed myself faster; if I could only catch him, then the Titans would know for sure that I wasn't a spy. That I was one of the good guys.
The part of town I'd run to was shabby there were barely any lamps lighting the streets. I couldn't see any hint of life, and the dark night was completely silent. We soon left the city entirely, and I heard the whistle of a freightliner pulling out of the docks beyond a field of warehouses.
I came to a halt and bent over, supporting my weight on my knees. I was exhausted; I must have run twenty miles.
"Tired already?" his voice called.
I glared up at Red-X, who was casually sitting on the roof of the nearest warehouse. "I can see that you are," I growled, looking around for a way to get up there.
He chuckled and stood, agilely walking across the top of the building. "I've only just started our fun, dear Dezerae..." I watched as he dropped through an open access panel in the roof.
I grit my teeth, and ran for the cracked doors of the warehouse. I slipped through the small opening, and looked around the room. Stacks and stacks of paper reams filled the room, separated by wooden pallets. I saw X jumping across the highest stack in the dark shadows of the massive room.
I bolted right for him, weaving in and out of the maze of paper.
"Dezerae, you disappoint me..." The chilly voice made me freeze in my tracks. "After all I've done for you... this is how you repay me?"
I felt myself submitting to his authoritative voice immediately. "M-Master...?"
HE stepped from the shadows between the stacks of paper. His one eye was narrowed through the darkness, and his hands were behind his back. "Explain yourself, Apprentice," HE said sternly.
"I-I..." My face was stricken. "Master, I'm sorry "
"Return to me, Dezerae, and I will forgive you. You do not belong with them..."
My eyes did not blink in my trance-like state, and I stepped forward to take the hand he held out to me. "Master..."
Suddenly, my body was jerked away from HIM and I flew through the air. "Master!" I called, reaching back to the ground. I was in someone's arms, swinging from a rope. I struggled, desperately striving to reach HIM... bewitched to reach HIM...
"Dezerae! What are you doing here?" Robin yelled, lithely landing on a high pile of paper. His grappling hook zipped back into his belt, and his masked eyes stared at me as though I were a maniac.
I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. The urge to find HIM was nagging at me, but I stomped it out. "Slade," I hissed. "He's here!"
His eyes widened, and he looked down over the dark room. "...He is?"
"Yes! I saw him just now! I need to " Robin caught my hand just before I jumped to a 30-foot fall. I struggled, trying to jerk my hand away. "Let me go!"
"Are you crazy? You're trying to get yourself killed!" He pulled me back from the edge forcefully, and I caught myself with my hands when I fell.
I jumped up and growled in aggravation. Ripping the glove off my right hand, I held it in front of Robin's face. "Don't make me use this!"
Immediately, he side-stepped and held his hands up in surrender. "I knew it," he said under his breath.
I smirked at his weakness, and took off across the platform I was on. I jumped onto lower stacks until I reached the ground safely. Once there, I began searching. Robin reached the ground via his grapple, and he watched me on the sidelines.
When I turned into the corner that HE had been in, I saw a different masked figure. "How many holograms does it take to trick a silly girl?" He laughed outright, juggling three silver balls in his hands. "Just one, apparently..."
I gaped. Of course HE would come himself. What had I been thinking? I clenched my fists angrily. HE always had tricks to spare. "What's your part in all this, X?" I asked irritably. "Are you just the guy in charge of the catchy insults?" I gestured frantically, upset to have been fooled... again.
He caught the balls he was tossing, and strapped them to his belt one at a time. "Well... that position was already filled, cutes... by your boyfriend there." He waved behind me, and I turned to see Robin... standing there like an idiot.
"So it was all a diversion, hu? To get me away from the Titans?" I spoke to X, even though I glared at Robin. Robin, who'd fallen for the whole thing! I whipped around to X. "Where is Slade?" I demanded.
He chuckled lowly, and leaned against a paper stack. "Do you think it's that easy?"
I scoffed, crossing my arms. "Fine. I don't need you. I'll find out eventually." I turned away sourly.
"Yep sure you will." He slipped something from his belt. "Gotta go, hot stuff... don't cry." His voice was smug. "Don't call me I'll call you." He clicked his tongue and pointed at me. "Say 'hi' to Starfire for me, Robbie." A cloud of smoke burst from the small capsule he threw to the ground.
When it cleared up, he was gone.
I turned back to Robin, my jaw nearly on the floor. "You just let him get away?" I demanded, throwing my hands out. "What kind of a superhero are you?"
He stared at me. "What was that?"