Teen Titans Fan Fiction ❯ The Real World: Titans Tower ❯ Guest-Starring the Justice League of America! ( Chapter 5 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

OOC: I'm sorry about the huge wait between chapters guys—and also about the huge size of this chapter! I had a ton to cram into this and less time to do it in, so consider this your extra special chapter 5 super-blowout-extravaganza. As for the Justice League line-up…all of you saying “Why isn't he there!”…he'll be here eventually. It may be a dozen chapters from now, but I promise it's coming. Read a bit and you'll know who. Thanks for reading guys, and please leave me a comment to let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: The New Teen Titans were created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. I claim no credit for these characters nor the Justice League, whose characters have been handled by dozens and dozens of talented writers. My hats off to you, good sirs and ma'ams.
“All Star Teen Titans”
“The Real World: Titans Tower”
Episode 5: Guest-Starring the Justice League of America!
THE TEEN TITANS—Teenage heroes and reality-TV stars:
Robin—Dick Grayson: Arrogant former circus star, acrobat extraordinaire and hopeful ladies man.
Wonder Girl—Donna Troy: Adopted sister of Wonder Woman, bestowed with the powers of the Amazons.
Speed—Wally West: A bitter, living embodiment of the mythical Speed Force.
Cyborg—Victor Stone: Half flesh, half machine—all human.
Beast Boy—Garfield Logan: Goofy, insecure animal shapeshifter and former member of the Doom Patrol.
Raven: Cynical empath shrouded in mystery.
Starfire—Koriand'r: Honest, caring newcomer to Earth capable of flight and generating energy blasts.
THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA—Elite task force of Earth's mightiest heroes:
Batman—Bruce Wayne: Orphaned millionaire turned dark, brooding vigilante.
Wonder Woman—Diana of Themyscara: Princess and ambassador of the Amazons, blessed with the powers of the Greek Gods.
The Flash—Barry Allen: The fastest man alive.
Green Lantern—Kyle Rayner: Artist bestowed with a ring capable of forming objects from pure energy.
Animal Man—Buddy Baker: “Cosmically aware” family man capable of siphoning animal abilities.
Zatanna—Zatanna Zatara: Magician whose spells can cause anything to happen—as long as she says them backwards.
Hawkgirl—Shayera Hol: Tough-as-nails winged alien cop.
This is the true story of seven teenaged superheroes, picked to live in a house, fight crime together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when heroes stop being polite, and start being real. The Real World: Titans Tower.
Super heroes aren't anything new—indeed, the first `mystery men', as they were then called, arrived on the scene way back during the dawn of World War II. President Roosevelt organized these proud powered volunteers into several teams, such as the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron, in order to fight the war abroad and protect those left here at home.
However, after the conflict, the teams eventually drifted apart. As decades passed many superheroes became reclusive vigilantes, and the public lost sight of their great achievements of yesteryear. Even the impact of the benevolent Superman, who took the nation by storm, was tempered by the appearances of a frightening Batman and the selfish Booster Gold—heroes the public could hardly get behind.
Would it take another world war to recapture the public's hearts? No—but it would take a near-war between worlds.
A Martian invasion brought together seven heroes to form what would perhaps become the greatest superhero group of all time: The Justice League of America. From there it grew, one hero at a time, until the present where it has encompassed nearly all the costumed heroes in the world.
It has truly become an “Unlimited” Justice League. And now a seven member field team stood at the scene of a disaster—but they were not the ones who saved the day. They were not the ones who rescued the citizens or defeated the bad guy. Instead, they'd been beaten to the punch by a new team recruited, not by an urgent catastrophe, but by an agent and a TV network.
However, despite the less than selfless premise their team had been founded on, the infamous mercenary known as Deathstroke lay defeated at the feet of the Teen Titans. (Of course, let's ignore the fact that he was hired to make them look good by the show's director, as the teens don't know—it's a story for another time.) To even the great Justice League, this was impressive.
“Well done, Donna,” smiled Wonder Woman, proud of what her `sister' and her team had accomplished. “And all of you, as well. You fought valiantly.”
Beast Boy: “I think…my heart…is going to burst out my chest.”
Indeed, young Garfield had reason to be awe-struck. Diana, princess of the Amazons, was considered the epitome of all beauty, grace, and poise. Barely a man could lay eyes on her and not fall in love. Of course, her revealing red corset—emblazoned with a golden, stylized `w' pattern and a golden belt—and blue and white starred panties gave them every reason to. Like her sister she had metallic bracelets and a glowing magic lasso, and a golden tiara held back her luscious black hair.
Wonder Girl: “It feels so good to get a compliment from Diana. She's the one who saved me as a baby when I was abandoned in a burning building, the one who brought me back to Themyscara and insisted I was raised as an Amazon. I owe my life to her, and I've grown up just being amazed at what a great hero she is.
“I'd give anything to be half as good as she is. To be that perfect.
Of course, if Donna Troy felt incompetent next to her sister, her boyfriend would certainly make sure she didn't. “Yeah Wonder Chick, way to go!” exclaimed Kyle Rayner, one of the elite space-cops known as the Green Lanterns. One of the youngest members of both the GL Corps and the League, Kyle had only had his ring for a couple of years, but had already proved himself more than worthy of the nearly omnipotent weapon. “I guess your team isn't as incompetent as you said!”
Speed: “Why am I not surprised?”
Cyborg: “Okay, Devil's Advocate here, but I'm sure she doesn't feel that way now after what we just did.
”And yo, wait a minute! I'm getting to meet the Justice League—but the biggest hero of all ain't here!”
“Sorry to interrupt here,” began Victor Stone, “but where's Superman?!”
“He's on a mission in space,” replied a deep, gravely voice coming from a man in a black cowl and cape. His cape covered much of his body like a cloak, though a yellow belt could slightly be seen beneath it, and two pointy ears were perched atop his cowl. He was the Batman, protector of Gotham City. “He, Martian Manhunter and Adam Strange are evacuating a planet that's about to explode.
“Besides,” continued the vigilante as he turned towards Slade, “Deathstroke may be good, but we hardly would have needed Superman to defeat him.”
Robin: “See, Batman is the guy who paved the way for people like me. He's the guy with no powers who can walk among Gods and instantly command their respect, and even fear. Powers? He doesn't need them. And neither do I. We've got more. Just plain skill, baby!
“Of course, I'm not going to be a jerk hiding in the shadows like him. That's just not my style.”
“What about Green Arrow?” asked Donna. “He's got the biggest mad-on for Deathstroke I've ever seen! You'd think he'd want to be here!”
Without even moving his gaze from the captured mercenary Batman replied, “That's exactly why he's not here. He'd only get in the way.”
Raven: “He is so calculating. I feel little concern from him for anything other than his mission. Yet, deep within, I can feel horrific levels of trauma and pain. It is like he had been holding back his emotions, as if he no longer wishes to feel.
“I can relate.”
Suddenly Kyle popped up from behind Batman, grinning from ear-to-ear. “'Course, he forgot to mention he sent GA on a mission with Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, just for giggles.”
Donna Troy burst out laughing, knowing the chaos those two could cause together. From above, a voice agreed with the young Titan. “Better him than me,” laughed Hawkgirl, floating to the ground with the rest of her team. In her hand was a mace she gripped like her life depended on it—gigantic wings spread from the girl's back. Her clothing had alternating yellow, green and black, and she wore a mask that hid her beautiful features under the fearsome façade of a hawk. Her red hair spilled out the back and past her shoulders. “Last time I worked with those two they spent more time hitting on me than fighting bad guys!”
Even if the two absent leaguers in question didn't enjoy it, hitting punks was just what Hawkgirl loved to do more than anything else—just something carried over from her years as a cop on the distant planet Thanagar. Starfire gasped excitedly at the sight of the fellow alien.
Starfire: “She is from Thanagar! My home world of Tamaran is actually quite close to theirs, and I've worked with several Thanagarians before! Oh, what a pleasure it is to finally find something familiar on this world!”
“Oh, give them a break Hawkgirl,” added a fifth member in reply to the alien. “Besides, it's rude to talk about them behind their back.” This Justice Leaguer was Zatanna, the resident magician. Dressed in fishnets, a tuxedo and top hat she certainly looked the part—and stunned most men.
Wonder Girl: “Besides Diana and Kyle, Zatanna is my favorite Leaguer. I just think she has one of the better balances in her life—some barely have one outside being a hero! When she's not fighting with the League, she's performing top-selling magic shows all over the world! `Course, don't get me wrong, she's one of the most altruistic people I know! She never lets it distract her from her work, and much of her money goes to charity.
“Honestly, it inspired a lot of my work. I decided to use my powers to crusade for abandoned children, like I once was, and any money or publicity I earned I gave right back to them. My work was why I never joined the League—the Titans, though, was supposed to be for myself. A smaller group where I'd have access to the resources to finally track down my own parents. And, of course, you all see how that's worked out so far…or how it hasn't, I should say.”
“Zatanna's right,” growled the Batman as his JLA communicator buzzed in his ear. “More important matters to deal with. Oracle just managed to find files on Deathstroke's identity after I sent her the visuals of his face.
“His name is Slade Wilson. He was a career soldier starting in the Vietnam War, who eventually volunteered himself for an experimental project to heighten his senses. It was thought a failure, and he was discharged after he disobeyed orders and rescued a fellow soldier from a suicide mission.
“Soon he came to have a family: a wife, son and daughter. However, while they were young Slade and his wife divorced—around the same time Slade lost one of his eyes. In hindsight, both are likely connected to the beginning of his career as Deathstroke—his abilities must have stabilized. Regardless, several months after the divorce, his wife was found dead in her home, and the children missing. Her killer was never found. Around the same time, Deathstroke was rumored to be seen with two young apprentices.”
Batman's eyes narrowed into slits, his teeth clenching as his voice dropped to an even lower pitch. “Again, in hindsight, the connections are obvious. We should have plenty to charge him with.”
Slade, though, simply laughed—his smug arrogance still going strong even as he was wrapped tight in a magic lasso. “Doubtful. If I even make it to trail, I'll never be convicted. You're all wasting your time.”
“You're a monster!” cried another Leaguer. He wore full body tights, the leggings orange and the tunic blue, with an orange “A” spreading vertically up his chest. A blue cowl covered the sides of his head and goggles his eyes, but his blonde hair stuck out the top. Over it all was a denim jacket, just so he'd have some place to store the car keys and the grocery list. He was Animal Man—a friend to all animals, able to borrow their powers. “How could you do that to your family?”
Beast Boy: “Hey, I know that guy! We met at some animals' rights convention when I was still on the Doom Patrol! Animal Man—Buddy Baker! Pretty cool guy, he even had his wife and kids with him! Come to think of it, I'd heard he talks about animal rights more than he superheroes—and he's always doing it with his family! …Dude, with what Deathstroke did to his family no wonder he's so pissed!”
“It was easy,” said Slade with a slight smile. “She couldn't handle my double life. She left me, she tried to kill me—I merely returned the favor.”
Tears welled in Animal Man's eyes as he moved to take action—but someone else was one step ahead of him. The rope tied around him tightened as Wonder Girl took to the air, the other end held firmly in her grip. “Buddy's right—you're the worst kind of monster.”
Electricity—lightning from Zeus himself—exploded from the lasso, knocking the already battered Deathstroke unconscious almost instantly. Despite this, she kept going, the lasso fueled by her rage. Suddenly a streak of red knocked the Wonder Girl away from her weapon—as the streak skidded to a stop, it revealed itself to be a man dressed in a crimson uniform with lightning flashing across it: he was the Flash, the fastest man alive!
“What're you doing, Donna?” asked the Flash—secretly Barry Allen, police chemist for the Keystone City Police Force. Donna Troy just growled—still lost in her own anger, as she so often was.
“He deserved it.”
“Doesn't matter,” interjected Flash. “We don't get to even treat criminals like that.”
Suddenly another streak—this one yellow—zoomed between the two. “That's your problem—you've always cared more about the bad guys then your friends!”
Barry Allen's eyes nearly bulged out of his head. “Wally?!”
“Yeah,” growled Speed—he nearly spat the words. “Y'know, it's about time you showed up. I was about to think you were going to be too big a coward to come around here!”
Cyborg: “What's his problem?! Even if it's embarrassing I can understand Donna, but Wally's just being a jerk! And to the Flash—I mean, everybody loves the Flash! He's gotta whole freaking museum devoted to him even!”
The Flash was taken aback, clearly pained by the accusation of the younger speedster. “Why would I be scared to come?”
“Because of me!” screamed Wally, electricity flaring around him. “Because I'm your fault and you haven't even tried to fix it!”
Barry took a step backwards, trying to comprehend the boy's anger. Growling slightly, Batman reached for his belt, only to find himself being held back by Wonder Woman. The wise Amazon shook her head `no', hoping perhaps it could be worked out with words, that this could all be resolved without resorting to violence. Yet, her other hand was clenched into a fist—as her time in man's world had taught her, this could rarely be achieved, sadly.
Before the Flash could even defend himself, Speed continued, starting with a broad sweeping gesture towards his teammates. “You wanted to know why I even bothered to join his team? Well, this is it! The only reason I even freaking showed up was for this! To confront the Flash on TV and show the world what a jerk he really is!”
Robin: “Wow, and here I just thought my magnetic personality kept him around.”
Raven: “Speed is always angry, but normally his anger is laced with traces of doubt, pity and hopelessness. Today, all I can sense is hate. His hatred is so deep and potent that it consumes his mind completely. At this moment there is nothing else to him.”
Beast Boy: “Well, looks like it's `secret origins' time!”
“Just a few months ago I was visiting my aunt in Keystone City and she introduced me to her fiancée. He was some boring guy, a scientist working for the police, but apparently he worked with the protector of Keystone—the Flash—sometimes. I didn't believe him, but the next day he introduced me to Flash—yes, the same Flash standing with you all right here!
“He showed me how he got his powers by lightning striking a rack of chemicals, and before he could even finish his freakin' sentence, lightning shot through the window and hit my future uncle's chemicals. They were headin' right for me, but I couldn't do anything, I was just too slow. Hell, I barely realized it was happening—but the Flash, hell, he's the fastest man alive, haven't ya' heard?
“Running in he tried to push me out of the way of the chemicals—”
Wally West was interrupted by a gasp from the Flash himself. “Is that what his is all about? Do you think I was trying to stop you from getting superpowers or something? Wally, those weren't the same chemicals! Who knows what they could have done!”
Energy forming the speed specter's mouth gnashed as Speed continued his story. “I couldn't have given a s--- about being some hero. I just wish you'd had been faster! Hey America, the guy who's so fast he can outrun time itself couldn't push me out of the path of lighting in time—“
“I could've—” again interjected Barry, “but if I'd have moved any faster I would've broken your spine!
The Titan was undeterred. “So his push, the chemicals and the bolt of lightning hit me all at once—and next thing I know, I'm just freaking floating somewhere, in some blinding field. I couldn't feel, see, hear, anything. It took me over a week to figure out how to control the energy—my new body.
“My old body was nowhere to be found—I've been stuck like this ever since! It's your fault, Flash!”
“Wally,” replied the Flash, in a half whisper, tears welling in his blue eyes, “even heroes make mistakes sometimes. You have no idea how bad I feel about it…”
The ground around Speed cracked as lightning flew. “Then DO something about it!” The teen's `body' was nearly breaking apart from the pressure it was exerting. “I'm just some kid who hasn't even finished high school thanks to you, but you know scientists! You work in the Justice League, with my uncle, with STAR Labs even! Fix me!”
Speed: “That's all I want! All I freaking care about is getting fixed already! Why else would I even be wasting my time here?!”
“I have been working on it,” The Flash replied. “But the Speed Force is complicated, Wally! I barely made it out with my life, and I can't remember any of it! Max Mercury is the only other person who's even come close to entering it—we've been working as much as we can, but with all I have to do to protect Keystone and my JLA duties—”
“Don't tell me you don't have TIME!” Something inside of Wally West snapped—he was tired of trying to reason! His fist of compressed energy tore into the Flash's face, sending the scarlet speedster flying. Speed followed, and the two span into a dazzling whirlwind of red and yellow streaks.
Speed: “I've said all I have to say! If Flash won't help me after I call him out on national television, then I've got nothing else to do but punch his face in! I'm sick of seeing it!”
Vindicated by the Titan's actions, Batman brushed away his teammate's hand—Wonder Woman didn't object, knowing it was time to break this up before it got any worse. “League, defuse this!”
“Already on it!” exclaimed Hawkgirl as she swooped down from above, spiraling several times as she flapped her massive wings. Lightning sparked form the barbs of her mace, and a smile grew across her face. “I've been waiting for this ever since the beginning of his stupid little spee—”
The Thanagarian couldn't even finish her sentence before she was sent sprawling through the sky by a powerful beam of green energy. More of the energy surged in Koriand'r's hand as she again took aim, not even trying to hide her action.
Starfire: “The thought that I had just attacked a member of the Justice League had never even crossed my mind—of course, at the time I did not even know who they even were, actually. Still, had I, there would have been no difference. I believe you should act on your instinct—in the time it takes to ask questions, it could already be too late to prevent catastrophe!”
“Do not lay a finger on my friends!” exclaimed the Tamaranian. “This is a matter Wally and the Flash must settle between the two of them!”
Flipping in mid-air and stopping her flight by opening her feathery appendages to their full wing-span, Shayera Hol just growled as she wiped blood from her cheek. “What would you know? Your people haven't been able to settle your war with the Gordanians, and that's been going on for centuries!”
“I could say the same of your people!” exclaimed Starfire as she exploded forward, her fists—immersed within Starbolts—meeting with Hawkgirl's mace and sending energy crackling through the air like a lightning storm.
Burying her face in the palms of her hands, Wonder Girl could do nothing but sigh at the actions of not just her team, but herself. “Why am I not surprised this happened?” she sobbed.
Wonder Girl: “Really, I mean, should anything surprise me anymore?”
“Now this sounds more like the team you told me about,” said Kyle, placing a hand on his girlfriend's shoulder. “Y'know, you don't have to stay here. I mean, with the Justice League pressing down on them I'm sure MTV would let you off your contract.”
Wonder Girl: “As good as that sounds, I just really don't know. I decided to lead this team, and joining was all my idea—do I really want to give up so early? Well…yes, I do, okay—let me rephrase that. Can I really let myself give up in front of Diana and Kyle?!”
Much to the young Amazon's delight, though, the decision was taken out of her hands as Cyborg slapped aside the Green Lantern.
“Yo, what's your problem?” Kyle asked irately as his ring created a tiny green brush that swept the dust off his costume. Cyborg didn't have an answer—he just glared at the Justice Leaguer as several parts of his half-mechanical body folded back, readying weapons.
Cyborg: “I know what I was feeling—we were all tired of being looked down on. Even if some of us deserved it, Donna's constant self-righteousness had reached a breaking point. I just wished it hadn't happened with the Justice League was there, but I guess there was no helping it.”
“My problem is that everybody keeps putting us down!” exclaimed Victor Stone. “The Justice League has been my heroes all my life, but all I've seen so far are self-righteous hypocrites! We saved lives here today! Y'know, Speed acted totally outta' line, but that's not our fault! Not even MTV's screening could have stopped that!”
Kyle Rayner just snickered. “Please, your little kid's table team can barely hold themselves together!”
And with that statement the young space-cop found himself being blasted across the already battered city street by a powerful laser exploding from the half-robot's chest.
“Punk,” Cyborg growled. “You're like, what, a year older than me? Shove it.”
“Oh, you're going to regret that,” vowed the seething Green Lantern as his ring sparked to life, sweeping the Titan into the air in a bull-dozer shaped construct—and Kyle was right behind him, a tail of emerald power trailing after the boy.
“Kyle!” exclaimed Wonder Girl as she tried to take after her boyfriend—but a gray-covered arm emerging from a dark cloak suddenly held her back.
Batman squinted, his voice coming out closer to an animal's growl than a human voice. He wasn't known for his patience, and this tested what little the Dark Knight had. “You've done enough Wonder Girl,” chastised the vigilante as he signaled to his side. “Zatanna! Restrain them!”
The beautiful magician smiled and tapped the side of her top-hat, letting it fall to a slight tilt. “Got it, Batsy!” she replied in a cheerful tone as she held her hand in the air—multi-colored sparks began to fly as she recited her backwards request.
“Ezeerf eht neet snatit dna eht ecitsuj eug—” However, like her teammates', Zatanna's efforts were in vain as she was cut off—mid spell—by a public mailbox hitting her in the side, sending the slim showgirl soaring. The black halo surrounding the mailbox disappeared, letting it fall to the ground unceremoniously.
The remaining heroes turned to Raven. “What did you do that for?!” Donna asked, it coming out almost as a whine as she fought back tears.
“I…do not know…” replied the empath, her voice wavering and distant.
Raven: “I do not know what I was thinking. I could only feel that we were all being consumed by our unusual anger. It had begun to devour our thoughts, much like it had Speed, yet he did not have the power to do that to us…”
“…Laeh…em…” gasped Zatanna as her powers, following her request, fused together broken bones and sealed the scrapes and bruises Raven's attack had left. Then her eyebrows arched as her own anger peaked, and accompanied by a puff of smoke a magic wand appeared in her hand. “Gninthgil paz Nevar!” she commanded as a bolt of electricity shot from the end of her wand.
Without wasting a second Raven disappeared into the darkness, leaving her opponent's projectile to attack nothing but air as a bird-shaped blast of black enveloped Zatanna—in an instant both heroes had disappeared.
Batman's eyes shot open wide like saucers. “Teleportation!”
“Donna,” began Wonder Woman, trying to keep her regal demeanor in midst of the chaos, “They're your team and you know them better than we do—what do you suggest we do to break this up?”
Donna Troy only mumbled under her breath, prompting her sister to continue. “Sister, this should not be that difficult…” Wonder Girl's lip quivered as her hands balled into fists.
Wonder Girl: “I…love my sister, I really do. Even on the occasions when she may get a little sanctimonious I know she means well. It' s never bothered me before. But just with everything going on…Hera forgive me, but I couldn't help myself.”
Without warning—though considering the day so far it should have surprised no one—Wonder Girl charged into the air, both her fists colliding with Diana's stomach. Before the elder Amazon could react her sister span into a roundhouse kick that sent her flying.
“I'm sorry I'm not as good as you then!” yelled Donna in response to Wonder Woman's suggestions. As the two warriors from Themyscara traded blows, only four heroes had yet to fight.
Beast Boy stared into the sky, whistling at the sight. “What a cat fight,” he said with a smile as he looked towards Animal Man. “But I guess you're not allowed to watch that stuff, right?”
“Yeah,” smiled Buddy Baker, “My wife definitely wouldn't appreciate it.” Suddenly—in fact, in a literal second—his face became twisted in rage as he span into a hook that sent Gar twirling like a top.
The green boy wiped blood away from his busted lip as he asked indignantly, “Hey! What was that for?”
“I…I don't know,” stuttered Animal Man as he leapt forward, spreading his arms and flying straight for the tiny Titan. “I…I think the author just wants us to fight!”
“What?!” Gar's eyes nearly bugged out of his head, but Buddy's assault left little time to ponder the Justice Leaguer's meta-textual musings. Beast Boy shrank until he was a frog leaping far above Animal Man.
Beast Boy: “Great, everybody else gets to fight big powerful heroes and I'm assaulted by Count Cuckoo!”
Robin had been watching in shock as one-by-one his teammates and the Justice League started fighting, and now he was the only one left. He took a hesitant glance over his shoulder, spying the Batman examining the battles closely. However, the vigilante quickly turned his attention to the acrobat, locking eye contact.
Taking a step back hesitantly, Dick stammered, “Well, what are we going to do to stop this?”
“You want to stop it?” The dark knight's glare forced Robin back yet another step. “You're going to be the only one not to take on a member of the Justice League? You know that won't go over too well with your `fans.'”
Robin: “Eh, he's just jealous `cause I have fans. He should try getting a life outside'a fighting crime and maybe he'd realize the potential this biz' has to make us famous!”
“The Hell?” Now Dick Grayson's anger was staring to well up, and he made up his lost ground, moving closer to his counterpart. “Are you trying to goad me on or something?”
“Maybe you just want me to be goading you on so you have an excuse to fight me,” suggested the Batman, his expression not revealing his true motivations in the slightest. “That way you wouldn't look bad for throwing the first punch.”
Robin: “Damn him and his stupid unreadable face. Should be off playing poker and leaving me alone!”
“Listen!” Robin inserted in frustration. “This doesn't make any sense!”
This gave Dick a good laugh. “Please. I took on Deathstroke alone. Why would I be—”
Again Gotham's protector didn't even let the boy finish his sentence. “You and Slade played with toys. He may be physically stronger than both of us but he's trained to kill efficiently, not for drawing things out hand to hand.” Batman whipped open his cloak and reached for his utility belt—Robin prepared to retaliate until he noticed that his opponent had simply pressed the buckle, and let the belt fall to the ground.
The caped crusader's eyes narrowed into barely visible strips of white. “I hear you're quite talented. That you can learn anything put in front of you. What a waste of potential that makes you.”
“Jackass.” With a tiny clicking noise Robin's utility belt fell to the ground, but its owner was already high in the air. “I'm better than anybody thinks!”
Two streaks of red, blue and gold shot through the sky as Donna Troy—the Titan known as Wonder Girl—attempted to pummel her mentor mercilessly. The elder Amazon, Wonder Woman—the princess and ambassador of the mythical island of Themyscara—was making her sister's task quite difficult.
Anger poured from the younger Amazon like sweat as she hurled punches and kicks—pardon the cliché—faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. However, each found itself being countered, deflected, or downright evaded by the skillful Justice Leaguer.
Wonder Girl: “In the heat of the moment, all I could think about was connecting with a hit, but really, I shouldn't have been surprised. As strong as I am, as fast as I am, my sister will always have a slight edge on that power. And really, that's not even counting the millennia she's spent training on Themyscara compared to my…seventeen.”
“Donna, please!” pleaded Wonder Woman as she slapped aside a right straight. “I don't know what has come over all of us but we must stop fighting!”
“I—“ Wonder Girl managed to stop for a brief second before connecting with a high kick to her sister's chin. “I can't! I'm sorry I don't have your perfect control!”
As the princess reeled her attacker had already caught up, ready for another assault. “I'm sorry I can't be all calm and cold and collected every second!”
Unfortunately for the Teen Titan, Wonder Woman wasn't one to stay down long. Donna's fist was blocked by the elder Amazon's metal bracelet, and she was sent reeling from the backlash of her own punch.
Wonder Girl: “Great Zeus, that hurt!”
Still, the pain only added fuel to Wonder Girl's fire. She was barely visible as she zoomed forward, deciding to add her own bracelets to the melee as the sound of clanking metal filled the sky.
A few tears fell as Donna's teeth gnashed and she span into a punch sure to be the money-maker. “I'm sorry I'm not some perfect girl made out of clay like you!”
Donna Troy's fist only met with the two crossed bracelets of Wonder Woman—as the mighty princess threw both arms backwards the younger girl was sent flying.
“The only thing you need to apologize for is your behavior now!” exclaimed Diana. “I don't know who has been telling you that you're inferior to me, but it certainly hasn't been me! Donna, I love you the way you are!”
Suddenly the mighty Amazon's eyebrows narrowed. “And I know that this certainly isn't you in control!” Diana pulled her magic lasso from her belt, and suddenly everything made sense. Truth was restored to the princess's mind, and it only confirmed what she had suspected all along—nobody here was acting in their right mind.
However, Donna saw this action in a different light.
Wonder Girl: “My lasso is a powerful weapon, but Diana's…it's amazing. Made from a chunk of Gaia's girdle, it's unbreakable, as long as it needs to be and almost unstoppable. It's not just a lie detector folks—it was able to even uncloud the manipulated mind of the mad war god Ares!
“And as soon as I saw Diana grab it I knew I was doomed—because I reached for mine and realized it was still tied around Deathsroke!”
“No!” cried Wonder Girl as she took off at top-speed, wind burning her eyes as she strained to reach the bounded mercenary before her sister could catch her. Of course, this was futile, as Wonder Woman was already right on her tail, her lasso weaving around her in serpentine patterns.
Knowing words were no longer of use, Diana of Themyscara simply threw her rope—and with the skills she honed in her thousands of years of existence caught the younger Amazon like a hog at a rodeo. Donna Troy hung just a few feet above the ground, in shock. She knew she should have been angry, but if anything she was simply amazed at how much clearer everything was!
“What…” stammered Wonder Girl as her sister loosened her golden weapon, “What happened?”
“Mind control,” growled Wonder Woman. “Something or somebody has manipulated all of us into attacking each other. My lasso seems to be able to break through its fog and reveal the truth, though.”
“Oh,” replied Donna, amazed. “Diana…I'm so sorr—”
Diana waved her hand and wouldn't even let the younger Amazon reply. “Please, sister. It wasn't your fault—enough apologies for today.”
Wonder Girl: “So yeah…like I said, I love my sister, but even under mind control she's perfect. Me? I'm just…trying.”
“So,” asked the Justice Leaguer, “who should we stop first?”
Speed and Raven were the first names that jumped to the Titan's mind, but both of them were going to take quite some effort. Suddenly, an explosion of energy above the two Amazons made up their mind for them.
“Them!” exclaimed Donna. “'Cause, believe me, even without mind control they'd keep fighting until they killed each other!”
Explosions rocked the sky as sparks of lightning and green energy barely left room for the two combatants to maneuver—fortunately, both Koriand'r of Tamaran and Shayera Hol of Thanagar were proficient at flying and barely noticed the aftereffects of their attacks. Indeed, the alien warriors were far more focused on each other than any of the distractions.
This was the sort of stuff Hawkgirl lived for, and it was easy to imagine that she'd have reacted the same even when not under mind control. Thanagar had always been a fierce, warlike world, and the demeanor of its inhabitants reflected it. Tamaran, on the other hand, was a lush world that tried to maintain peace. Its armies were extremely effective and skilled—and god help anybody who stood in their way—but at the end of the day they still preferred love over war.
This gave Hawkgirl a slight edge in fighting—but whatever advantage this gained her was lost in range. As the Leaguer spiraled through attacks in a breathtaking display of acrobatics, all her opponent had to do was take aim. Faster than she could say `Starbolt' the Thanagarian had been cut off by an emerald attack that she could barely hold back with her mace.
Starfire: “Besides their love of battle, what Thanagarians are most famous for is creating something called `N-th metal'. It is an astounding metal, light-weight yet very dense, resistant to magic and most other types of energy, able to generate its own attacks, and under certain occasions even lighter than air! Hawkgirl's N-th metal mace is certainly a fierce and dangerous weapon!”
However, Kory had more pressing issues on her mind, and with her opponent held back by her attack it seemed the perfect time to address them. “How can you insult us over our war with the Gordanians when your people have been just as unsuccessful at defusing yours?!”
Starfire: “The Thanagarians may enjoy fighting, but the Gordanians—they just enjoy killing. They are the most detestable race in the universe. Currently they are engaged in bloody wars with both my world and Hawkgirl's, as well as several more. We have fought to stand-stills, but as there is no negotiating with them, the wars just continue endlessly. It is truly a no win situation, and to look down on us for not being able to win against them is just…horrible!”
“At least we've been trying to fight them with all our might!” Hawkgirl exclaimed, barely audible as she shouted to be heard over the sounds of their attacks. “Your people gave up and are trying to negotiate a truce with them! I've never heard of such a cowardly move!”
“What?!” The news took Starfire by surprise. “But, how can this be? We would never do that!”
Starfire: “Unless mother and father changed their opinions on the Gordanian war since I left…and I do not think they have!”
“Of course you can!” Hawkgirl cried as she somersaulted, finally bashing the Starbolt beneath her. “After all, you did!”
With tremendous speed Hawkgirl zoomed forward, taking advantage of every precious second she could get free from enemy fire—which wasn't long, as Koriand'r quickly retaliated by launching a frenzied spree of tiny Starbolts that rattled off like machine gun fire.
However, Shayera matched the furious pace and deflected the shots with her mace, and before her Tamaranian opponent could even react she had a mace in her gut. Starfire was sent reeling from the assault, but she wasn't going to be caught off guard—she launched an attack of her own in her wake that devastated the bird-girl.
Both Starfire and Hawkgirl regained their bearings and didn't even pause for a breath as they lunged for each other, both lost within the endless anger they'd been manipulated into by some unseen force. Starbolts flew in all directions, and the Justice Leaguer had obviously grown tired of evading them.
The green rays battered the Thanagarian as she flew through the barrage face first, her deep guttural scream echoing as she wound up her mace. However, Koriand'r had already dodged below any assault—which instead left her victim to a kick in the face. Still, this wasn't without its weak spots for Hawkgirl too, as she discovered when Starfire grabbed her leg and pulled her close, connecting with a fierce uppercut to the chin.
Shayera Hol recovered from the strike with miraculous speed, but only spread her wings and continued her backwards flight even faster. It was a smart move, because a Starbolt was already hot on her tail. As a good distance finally opened between the two, Hawkgirl span several times and hurled her mace through Starfire's technique, deciding to let the Nth Metal do all the work. It tore through the energy attack and collided with the Titan, filling the sky with lightning.
Princess Koriand'r's vision blinked in and out as she fell to the ground, electricity still sparking up and down her curvy body. She could see her opponent above her, mace pulled far behind her head for one final assault—and she knew that no matter how it looked, Hawkgirl was right where she wanted her.
Starfire: “My flight is obvious, and my Starbolts are always the first thing on the minds of my opponents. What they usually overlook, however, is my strength. With that comes endurance. Right now Hawkgirl cannot even consider that I'm not unconscious—and that shall be her downfall!”
The Tamaranian bided her time, waiting until her hawk-like enemy was as close as possible—then thrusted her hand forward with a vicious scream. Green, shimmering energy exploded like soda from a shaken bottle, throwing Hawkgirl backwards like she'd been hit by a bullet train.
Somehow managing to crawl to her feet, a small smile crawled across Starfire's face, even if a small flare of static still crawled across her orange body every few seconds. However, apparently her opponent was just as resilient, and soon Shayera was on her feet as well.
“Finish this?” growled the Thanagarian.
“Gladly,” replied the Tamaranian.
Dust exploded from behind both aliens as they charged for one final attack, but fortunately for both of them, they were intercepted by two streaks of red, gold and blue and a shining lasso—which left them hogtied together by their feet.
“Looks like we arrived just in time,” said Wonder Woman with a smile.
Both aliens were reduced to just blinking at each other. “What just happened, and why do I not want to fight anymore?” asked Hawkgirl.
“Mind control,” replied Donna as she loosed the lasso. “Something's manipulating all of us into attacking each other, and Diana's lasso is the only thing that can stop us.”
“Oh,” sighed Starfire as she rubbed her aching head. “Well Hawkgirl, I'm so—”
“No need to apologize,” interjected the Thanagarian. Hanging her mace on her belt, she extended her slim arm. “Even if we were trying to kill each other, I really enjoyed it. We should spar sometime!”
Starfire: “Now there is an intriguing offer! It really will help to keep me in shape, but more than anything else, I think I shall enjoy finally knowing somebody so closely connected to Tamaran!”
“Indeed,” smiled Koriand'r. “I am looking forward to it.”
The green bull-dozer construct that had swept Victor Stone into the air morphed and changed, swallowing the Titan within a small green bubble still connected to the Lantern's ring.
“That'll keep you from causing any trouble,” growled Kyle Rayner. “Stay put like a good little boy while I sweep up the others.”
“Fat chance,” retorted Cyborg as hatches in his shoulders popped open, filling the bubble with a blue hue. Green Lantern gritted his teeth as electrical backlash traveled back to his ring, but before he could even get rid of his construct Cyborg's energy shield broke through the bubble.
Kyle reeled backwards, and before Vic could even begin to fall he launched another shot from the energy cannon in his chest, sending the young space cop flying even further. Boosters in both the machine-man's feet slowed his fall, and he landed without a scratch.
His opponent returned only a second later, incensed as he floated nearly unharmed in an aura of emerald energy. His ring started to spark like a star.
Cyborg: “Hm, a Green Lantern energy ring, able to create anything its user can think of, as long as the user's got the willpower to maintain it. Technically it's the most powerful weapon ever created. And this Rayner kid, he's an artist. I hear he's got more imagination than anyone on the League.
“But if he thinks that means he's winnin' this, then he's gonna be pretty pissed—cause I've got a pretty damn good imagination myself. After all, when I was rebuilt I was just meant to keep my life support going. All my weapons and crime fighting gear—they're my design. I've got plenty of tricks up my sleeve.”
“Let's see how you handle this, cowboy,” challenged Rayner. Smirking, he released at least a dozen charging green bulls and bison. Cyborg's eyes nearly bugged out of his head.
Cyborg: “Definitely not what I was expecting! Don't Lanterns usually attack with giant green fists and stuff?”
Still, when one was fighting a Lantern, they had to be prepared for the unexpected, and here Vic was no exception. His shield leapt to life just long enough to let him ready the laser cannon in his chest, and as soon as he retracted his shield he unleashed a blast that decimated one of the cattle.
However, the machine man wasn't quite done yet. He looked to the ground, combining the tail end of his blast's momentum with the boosters in his feet to propel himself to the air. Then he let boosters in the backs of his elbows take over, and as his right arm slid back into his Sonic Cannon he propelled both appendages into the ground at amazing speeds—the concrete and dirt uprooted by the blast obliterated the stampede and barreled on towards the Green Lantern.
“Not bad,” grinned Kyle as he formed a wall of green bricks, shielding himself. “But still not good enough, kid!” Each brick then separated and shot forward in the shape of missiles.
“Where'd you get your dialogue, the school of the cliché?” asked Victor Stone as his mind raced with the efficiency of a computer to find a workable evasive maneuver.
Cyborg: “I hope under all that bravado he's as scared as I am, cause I know I sure as hell don't mean the taunts I'm saying!”
Knowing his shield couldn't take another hit of that level, the Titan attempted his earlier maneuver to leap over them—and was promptly swatted out of the sky by a green hand.
“Oh,” mumbled Vic, “There's the giant green hand.”
“Hey, they're corny as hell but they're tradition,” Kyle replied with a laugh as the hand balled up into a fist and roared towards his opponent's half metal face. Scrambling to his feet as fast as he could, Cyborg span into a vicious right hook that obliterated Kyle's construct—and before the energy had even dissipated hatches popped open in the Titan's shoulder, unleashing a storm of blue and white missiles!
The Green Lantern's eyes shot open wide, but not in fear. “Now that looks fun!” he exclaimed; pointing his ring to the ground he unleashed a potent beam that grew and fluctuated into a miniature army fort beneath the Leaguer. “We have incoming missile threat,” he said to himself. “Roger that!”
Cyborg: “Okay, apparently he's a few power rings short of a jewelry store here.”
Hatches opened all over the fort construct in reply to Kyle's affirmation, unleashing blasts and missiles that completely annihilated Cyborg's assault in the blink of an eye.
Cyborg: “Or he just has an over-active imagination. Then again, that's his rep, and if I wasn't prepared for that then I'd just be an idiot. See, I'dve just shot them down myself, but really, this time I wanted the distraction.”
Smoke poured across the battlefield as Kyle let his construct fade, beaming as he looked out at the chaos, no doubt quite proud of himself. Suddenly Vic's entire forearm burst out from inside the smoke, propelled by rockets and still attached to the metal man by a steel wire.
The Lantern weaved to the side, evading the punch outright, but the Titan's arm just followed suit and in seconds had wrapped itself around Kyle several times, ensnaring him like a boa constrictor would its prey. With a mighty scream Victor grabbed the rope and pulled with all his might.
“No you don't!” Kyle declared, using his own aura to fly further back. The two were locked in a stalemate—however, unlike the Green Lantern, Cyborg didn't need all his willpower and concentration to keep things even, and this gave him the advantage. His other forearm disconnected itself as well, and soared into Kyle Rayner's face with enough force to dent steel.
Fortunately for the Leaguer, he was protected by his ring's aura—but he was still badly stunned, and as the teen rolled across the ground, Victor Stone's arm was already reconnecting with his body and folding back into his Sonic Cannon.
Floating onto his feet, Kyle was already only moments away from being bombarded by the sound waves as he regained his bearings—but it was just enough time to erect a shield. “Nice try, but—”
Suddenly the Lantern was on his knees, hands clamped tightly over his ears.
Cyborg shook his head sadly. “People always underestimate the Sonic Cannon.” Of course, if the Titan made one mistake the entire battle, it was revealing the true nature of his weapon. Kyle's ring lit up and green plugs appeared in his ears—and suddenly a giant green Amtrack train made of pure energy struck his opponent square in the stomach.
“That's it!” Kyle exclaimed, enraged. Before Vic had even landed he was ensnared in an emerald net, being pulled back towards the Lantern. Constructs in the shape of electric generators had already formed at his feet. “I'm ending this now!”
Vic grunted, and the blue portions of his body started to glow. “Then I guess I'll just have to too!”
As the two warriors collided, green electricity from Kyle's generators and real electricity from Cyborg's personal defense system both came to life, engulfing both heroes in sparking misery—and suddenly, almost as soon as it'd started, it was over. Victor Stone and Kyle Rayner had been tied together within a golden, magic lasso.
Wonder Girl smacked both playfully across their head. “Cut it out, guys,” she laughed, knowing well enough that they couldn't help it. Then she looked lovingly towards her boyfriend. “And quit being a show-off, Kyle.”
“Sorry, Wonder Chick,” Kyle replied, flashing a perfect smile before more pressing questions issued in his head. “Wait a second, what just happened?”
“Mind control,” interjected Cyborg before either Amazons could answer. “I could detect it with my bionic eye, but I was so engulfed in it during my battle that I didn't even notice it!”
Cyborg: “Wait a second! That means I'm still human enough to be put under mind control! All right!”
Suddenly Wonder Woman's soft hand was on the half-robot's shoulder. “Excellent work, Cyborg,” complemented Diana.
“Yeah, but can you use that brain of yours to figure out a way to separate the speedsters over there?” Donna asked, frustrated as she pointed to Wally and the Flash.
“Sure,” grunted Vic as he brought several diagnostic readings to life. “But it may take a sec. You should probably break the others up before that.”
“All animals on Earth are connected by the morphogenetic field,” explained Buddy Baker—the animal rights crusader, family man and superhero known as Animal Man. The blue and orange clad man flapped his arms slightly as he soared high into the air, fast on the heels of a green falcon. “Once, long ago, I was abducted by aliens. They experimented on me, tied me into this field—and that's how I can borrow the attributes of any animal by reaching through that field.”
Beast Boy: “So I can become any animal, but he can take their strengths and speed and apply them to his body. Heh, it's not nearly as fun man. You can't have a tail, or a trunk, or a really long neck, I mean, there's so much to experience that he can't. Sucks.”
Gar maneuvered himself directly above his opponent, and for a brief second shifted back to human form. “Don't bother, dude. I don't need to know how you got your powers!” Then he expanded into an elephant, letting himself fall atop Animal Man, bringing both crashing to the ground like the Titan was an anvil crushing a cartoon character.
Yet, Buddy Baker was somehow not as flat as a pancake. Beast Boy certainly was surprised to see it as he fell into the crater they had created upon impact. “Dude, how?”
“The closer the animals I borrow from are, the more potent the effects,” Buddy began. “So, I dropped the flight to take the strength of your elephant and combine it with the durability of a cockroach.” Suddenly he slumped backwards slightly. “Of course, taking the powers of two animals at once isn't fun…don't do it much.”
The Justice Leaguer scratched his chin for a second before adding on one other thing. “As for explaining my powers, I'm not doing it for you. It's for the readers! They need exposition to know who I am and what I'm doing!”
Gar Logan just raised an eyebrow. “…What? Readers? You mean the viewers? This is a TV show, not a book man.”
Beast Boy: “And who reads books anymore?”
Animal Man smiled slightly. “If you say so, little guy. But believe me, I've seen things beyond this realm of reality—beyond fiction, non-fiction or even reference—and you'd be surprised at what we are and aren't.” Suddenly he dashed forward, the rest of his words becoming hard to hear as he dropped his other abilities for the speed of a cheetah. “So believe me, I don't want to do this, but it doesn't seem I have much of a choice!”
Shrinking into the body of a chimpanzee, the Teen Titan easily flipped over the straight-forward charge of his opponent. However, Buddy quickly skidded to a stop and instead attacked with the cheetah's claws, to which Gar decided to counter by becoming a rhino—a hide that thick was claw-proof!
As Animal Man skidded to the side, his hands throbbing, Garfield Logan wanted to give it another shot. “I'm not buyin' it bro,” he said, panting. “Something's definitely fishy here, but it's got nothin' to do with what you're talking about!”
Suddenly, in a blue and orange streak, Buddy had disappeared far into the air, having borrowed the abilities of a jumping spider. Beast Boy did a spit take as now he became a cheetah, dashing with all his might to escape what was coming next.
But even the fastest land animal alive couldn't outrun the pure force of Animal Man landing after a seventy feet fall with the density of a blue whale. Gar shrank into an armadillo and curled into a ball, rolling through the debris safely.
“Why's it so hard to believe, Gar?” asked the Leaguer. “You used to be a part of the Doom Patrol—the weird and unbelievable was your specialty! You met a living street but can't question the very world that could create that?”
Charging forward as a bison, Beast Boy chose to ignore the question.
Beast Boy: “He's right—you guys wouldn't believe the freaky crap I've seen through my life. But, y'know, I always thought that they were the universe's little quirks, just to make it fun. We've got to have something more solid and reliable to back that up, right?”
Just as the Titan's prey was within reach, he sent the green animal soaring with an upper-cut to the beast's chin—still backed by the power of a blue whale!
Beast Boy: “Okay, so there's one advantage to the not shapeshifting stuff. Still, I got a ton more over on `im.”
“C'mon, we could go like this all day,” began Buddy as he walked towards his downed opponent, who was slowly shrinking back to his frail human body. “One of us has gotta have a trump card to finish this.”
Gar just grinned from ear to ear. “Well, now that you mention it…” Suddenly he expanded, growing until he almost blocked the sky. Beast Boy had become a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Animal Man was speechless as the Titan roared mightily.
Beast Boy: “Take that! Doubt extinct animals are in this mighty morphin' field of yours!”
However, before the battle could be settled Gar suddenly found a golden rope around his neck, like a leash and collar. As he regained his senses he shrank to normal, and Wonder Girl caught him as her sister quickly bound Animal Man—and just as quickly unbound him.
As Donna set her fellow Titan on the ground, he had only one thing to ask. “'Kay, I feel all weird and tingly and not angry now. What happened?!”
Donna Troy sighed. “Long story short, cause I'm tired of telling it—mind control, magic lasso, no more mind control.”
“Story of my life,” Gar joked as he turned towards his former opponent. “Guess that `splains all the weird crap you were spouting off, right?”
“Sure,” Buddy Baker lied with a shrug. “Must be it. None of us were in our right minds.” Sure, the Justice Leaguer felt bad about lying. However, if not for the mind control, he never would have even mentioned it. The nature of reality isn't fit for just anybody to hear—sometimes Buddy was annoyed that he'd been let in on it. It just wouldn't be fair for poor Beast Boy to know that he was just a fictional character—and a fan version of a fictional character at that!
“So,” ventured Gar as he extended his hand, “No hard feelings?”
“Please,” replied Buddy, blushing slightly. “I threw the first punch. Of course there isn't!” Suddenly an idea leapt into his head that alleviated what little guilt remained. “Hey, want to come over to dinner some night soon? Ellen's become quite a little vegan connoisseur since I became Animal Man!”
“You bet!” exclaimed Beast Boy.
Beast Boy: “I'll have to get some recipes!”
Meanwhile, Donna Troy found her sister's hand on her shoulder. “Since we haven't located Zatanna yet nor figured how to break up the Flash and Wally, I think we had better bring the Batman to his senses now.”
Wonder Woman's suggestion made the adopted Amazon a little sad. “I guess. Too bad though—I wanted to see Dick get beat up on more!”
“Too sloppy,” growled the Batman, Bruce Wayne, as he dodged behind a left hook. “I could see it coming from a mile away.” His opponent, seething, attacked again—and instantly Batman was beneath it, retaliating with a fist to the young acrobat's gut. “And that one was too wide.”
Growling was about all Robin could do as he skidded backwards. The former circus star wasn't going to take being called out by the dark knight—and even if he had the advantage in experience, Dick still had youth on his side!
“Enough with the advice already!” he screamed as he took to the air.
Robin: “I mean, this is the Real World, not freaking `So You Think You Can Kung-Fu Fight?'!”
The teen's mid-air roundhouse kick was deflected by his opponent's forearm, and the detective used the momentum to spin into a punch of his own. Robin skidded behind it then leapt forward, landing an open palm strike on the vigilante's shoulder. However, the Batman used the unfortunate turn of events to his advantage, as he was so adept at doing, and hurled a twisting uppercut into the Titan's stomach.
Robin tumbled down the street, landing on his butt; Batman loomed over him. “Fine, no more advice. But if you're not going to learn—or fight better than that—then there's no need to play around anymore.”
Bruce Wayne's costumed body moved slightly, the first signs of his finisher, when he was suddenly struck in the face by Dick Grayson's booted foot. Spinning on his hands, the boy knocked aside the Justice Leaguer with a second helicopter kick before leaping back onto his feet.
Perhaps Batman had been wrong about him! “Capoeira. Impressive.”
“We had a Brazilian fire-breather at Haley's Circus,” smiled Dick. “Taught me all the Capoeira moves he knew.”
Robin: “He gave me some damn fine tips on picking up the ladies too. And really, who better to ask then a Latin guy? Chicks dig `em!”
“And I bet it didn't take you long at all to learn,” growled Batman; he wasn't at all pleased by Robin's gleeful nod `yes'. “I spent most of my life learning every style of fighting on Earth. You could do it in a year—two at the most. Your natural talent amazes even me, Robin. Use it!”
“To do what, become some dark, dull guy like you?” Robin was disgusted by the idea. “No thanks! I'm fine the way I am!”
Whipping open his cloak, Bruce beckoned on his opponent. “Prove it, then.”
Again a challenge was issued that could not be ignored—but this time the Batman had just as much to prove. He dashed beside a straight and pretended to jab—but it was only a feint as he appeared behind his distracted opponent, leaping into the air and landing a spinning kick upside the acrobat's head.
Robin span to face his opponent, but already the damage had slowed his reaction time. Gotham's protector grabbed his arm and twisted, and as Dick reeled back in pain Bruce responded with several karate chops to pressure points.
Robin: “Okay, note to self: No matter what s--- this guy tells me, I still should definitely memorize where those things are. They still hurt!”
“Assh---!” screamed the Teen Titan as he charged, weaving around his black-clad opponent before charging, hopefully unseen. Sadly—though expected, considering just who his opponent was—the dark knight saw it coming and again got a hold of Robin's arm. He lifted the boy into the air, span him around, and piledrove him into the ground.
Again Batman just stared down at his young, battered opponent condescendingly. “Winning fights isn't just about knowing combat styles—though that is essential. It's about flowing between styles and combinations of them effortlessly, like water. My last assault involved boxing, savate, knowledge of pressure points, karate and judo.”
“Not to mention a little professional wrestling,” joked Robin.
“Never watched it,” growled Batman. “Not a fan of men jumping on each other in their underwear.”
Robin: “Heh, when you describe it that way, it sounds far too much like what we do. Damn!”
“Still,” continued Dick as he gasped for breath, “I told you to stop lecturing me. Now I'll have to teach you some stuff of my own!”
Suddenly Batman had two feet in his chin—Robin pushed himself into the air and, after the kick in question, tucked and rolled backwards into a triple somersault. As soon as his nimble feet touched pavement he rolled to the side in a cartwheel, and used his momentum to again somersault above the dark knight. With kicks coming from all directions, even Batman couldn't block them all. Dick landed, smile plastered across his face, after landing three kicks and sending the Leaguer staggering.
“Maybe you can get so much more technical than me,” taunted Dick, “but I'm a helluva better acrobat than you!”
Not even a second after he finished speaking, the back of Batman's hand tore across the teen's cheek and sent him spinning like a top. “I'm stronger,” he countered.
“And you're both done,” added a calm, motherly voice from above as Wonder Woman's golden lasso entwined both Batman and Robin, tying the two together—far closer than either ever hoped to be to the other.
“Well, this is uncomfortable,” chuckled Dick. Batman just glared.
Wonder Woman cocked her head and smiled as she untied her mystical weapon. “I'm sorry it came to this, but you were being affected by—”
“Mind control,” interjected the Batman. “Except not quite. That term infers a being directly controlling our thoughts and actions to make us do exactly what he or she desires, which wasn't what we were experiencing. We were just manipulated into becoming angry and releasing our inhibitions. We meant what we said, but they were things we would never have admitted if we had not been manipulated into such severe anger.” The detective tapped a receiver in his ear. “Oracle, send me a list of all psionics and telepaths currently on the loose.”
Robin: “Show-off.”
Wonder Girl: “Makes sense to me. Of course, Batman probably would have said all that stuff to Dick anyway. He just wouldn't have punched him. He's brilliant, but he's still a jerk sometimes.”
“So, now what?” asked Dick with a shrug.
“We break up the speedsters,” replied Donna, mashing her fists together. “And then we just hope we can find Raven wherever she ran off to.”
Batman stared over his shoulder at Robin. “Everything I said is true, though. Practice.”
Dick Grayson could only reply by calling him, “Jackass.”
Not caring for the particulars, somewhere far enough away from the battle that the Justice Leaguers couldn't easily track them down was where Raven and Zatanna ended up. The sky was filled by a foreboding, black bird shape, and as it dissipated the two heroes were left on the city streets, staring each other down.
“What were you thinking?” asked the magician angrily. “All I was trying to do was stop the fighting!”
Raven: “She was right, of course. I could feel within Zatanna, within me, and within the other heroes that something was not right—that some outside force was tampering with us. That said, the manipulation was extraordinarily powerful. Even my abilities could not dispel it. So, though I was not acting of my own will, I still deeply regret everything I did…”
“I know what I feel,” replied Raven, the edges of her dark cloak flickering like a flame. “I know that now, for once, I feel something: I feel anger. I do not know, nor do I understand, why this is, but I know that I must hurt you!”
Darkness leapt up a lamp pole and the object uprooted, controlled by the empath's very thoughts into swinging towards the Leaguer. Now on her toes—she wasn't going to be caught off guard twice—she pivoted out of its range and waved her wand.
“Elitcejorp pots!” cried Zatanna as the pole froze in mid-air. “Etailater!” Sparks of assorted hues exploded from her hands as the pole broke through Raven's control and instead hurled itself towards the Titan. Not appearing concerned in the least, the dark energy surrounding her cloak grew and swallowed up the object.
The showgirl's eyes grew wide. “What did you do?!”
“Teleported it into the middle of the ocean,” replied her opponent.
Raven: “Since that seems to be where the humans so carelessly dump their waste…”
Zatanna took a quick step backwards, glancing all around her, trying to concoct a strategy. She needed to disable her opponent before things got messy, but even for her—one of the most powerful members of the League—it wasn't going to be easy. Not with an opponent as powerful as Raven.
“Snoisulli dnuorrus reh!” Within seconds the empath was bombarded with projections of her opponent from every direction—yet, of the dozens and dozens of images, only one was the real Zatanna. Discovering which one it was would be nearly impossible—at least, for anybody else.
“Lepxe semalf!” The spell came from the illusion standing directly to Raven's side, but as a smoldering balls of flame roared from the Leaguer's hand, her opponent somehow knew it was coming. The fire disappeared into an enormous raven-shaped blob of pure darkness.
Moments later Raven appeared behind Zatanna, redirecting her fiery attack towards the magician herself. “Dleihs tcetorp em!” she cried as an impenetrable bubble formed around her body, keeping her from even being singed as her own attack died down around her.
“Stupid,” growled Raven. “An empath cannot be fooled by illusions. Did you think I could not sense which one had emotions?”
Raven: “I must admit, I enjoyed the arrogance…this scared me. I need to remain emotionless to keep from being consumed by my abilities. I…cannot afford to be tempted to feel.”
A few flames still flickered around Zatanna's feet as she stared at her opponent, stunned. “What…what are you?” she stammered. “I've…never seen anything like your powers before!”
“That is none of your business!” exclaimed Raven in an uncharacteristic scream. This peak in anger caused the darkness she controlled to explode around her, overtaking numerous items up and down the street—cars, newspaper dispensers, manhole covers, parking meters, anything that wasn't a building—and sending them all towards Zatanna.
The showgirl span in a circle, waving her wand before screaming, “Selitcejorp nrut otni srewolf!” A stupendous explosion in a rainbow of colors left—not a dangerous assault—but a wreath of attractive roses surrounding the magician. “Srewolf kcatta!”
Zatanna's redirected weapons hurled towards Raven like beautiful, thorn covered darts. Raven wasn't intimidated. A wall of black intercepted them, spinning the roses and sending them back towards the empath's opponent—her surprise only lasted a second before she cursed her own stupidity.
“Tropelet em dniheb Nevar nhet kcatta htiw a retaw enam—” Instantaneously Zatanna disappeared and reappeared behind Raven, but the empath knew better and had already turned to face her displaced opponent—which left her wide open to a clever assault! “—morf eht tnorf!” A pipe burst from the ground and sent a massive jet of stinging water into the unprepared Titan's back, sending her reeling down the street. However, Zatanna wasn't finished. “Esacne reh ni eci!”
A tiny whirlwind of artic air swirled around Raven, leaving her nothing but a glacier in the middle of a city street in summer. Wiping the sweat from her brow, Zatanna wasn't even pleased with her victory—she was too concerned about Raven. Something wasn't right with that girl.
Suddenly, the ice shattered and blew across the block in a black explosion.
Raven floated unharmed, watching gleefully as Zatanna wiped away blood from scratches the flying shards of ice had left. “Your anger is growing, Zatanna. You cannot touch me, and I can sense how it frustrates you. You cannot figure out why I am so powerful, how to overcome my abilities, not even what they are. This has…never happened to you before, has it?”
“No,” replied Zatanna with a huff. “So why don't you tell me? What are you?!”
Raven: “She does not want to know. Nobody should know what I am.”
“You cannot make me tell you,” taunted the manipulated empath.
“Like Hell I can't,” growled Zatanna as she waved her wand. “Wohs em tahw uoy era!”
The darkness flickering around Raven began to fade—but the Titan only grinned, evilly, maliciously. “As you wish. But you will not like it.”
And as Raven was forced to stop hiding behind her cloak, all the cameras could catch was the sound of Zatanna screaming before suddenly—
A funnel of yellow surrounded the Flash, spiraling high into the air, cutting off all possible escape routes. This whirlwind was actually the Titan known as Speed—a bitter teen who blamed the Flash for the accident that granted him his powers, but cost him his human body. He raced so fast that his new body—composed of energy from the mythical source of all inertia, the Speed Force—appeared to stretch the entire diameter of the tornado.
“Wally?” Flash asked, concerned for the young man's safety, “What in the world are you doing?!”
“Moving so fast that the cameras Jupiter has tracking me can't keep up,” replied Speed, his voice echoing from all directions at once. “I wanted to have a discussion without having to worry about protecting your precious secret identity…Uncle Barry.”
Barry Allen's face lit up beneath his crimson cowl—so there was still hope for his nephew! “See, I knew there was a part of you that care—”
“Can it,” growled the speed specter. “I couldn't care less if the world found out that the Flash was really mild mannered police scientist Barry Allen. I couldn't care less if Captain Cold or the Top or even the Reverse Flash himself showed up on your doorstep tomorrow.” Flash took a step backwards, mortified because he knew Wally meant it. “The only reason I'm keeping your secret is to protect Aunt Iris!”
Wally West's `eyes' narrowed. “What she sees in you I'll never know.”
The words of his nephew stabbed the Flash, but at least he knew why Wally was so angry—and could address it. “Wally, I'm trying to help you! But there's only so much I can do if you won't come in for tests! Why don't you—”
“No way!” exclaimed Speed. “I'm not going to be poked and prodded at by some stupid scientists who care more about keeping their grant than curing me!”
Flash winced, growing frustrated that nothing he said worked. “You're not being reasonable! I won't let them do anything to you!”
“Oh yeah,” retorted Wally, “I mean, after all, you did such a great job protecting me from this.”
“Stop being such a pessimist! Sure, this is a tragedy, but if you'll just calm down for a second and cooperate we may be able to fix it! And in the meantime you don't have to be miserable! Using your powers to help people is more fulfilling than you'll ever real—”
“Shut up already!” Speed's words were so loud they hurt the Flash's ears, and as he jerked in pain golden energy began seeping from the scarlet speedster's body, and being absorbed into the yellow funnel. “All I wanted was to be normal: to finish school, have a girlfriend, maybe get married and start a family, work as a mechanic…just an average, down to Earth life! Don't you see? None of that is possible now!”
However, Barry was somewhat distracted. As the energy was wrung from his body, he started to feel weak, slow—normal. “Wally…what're you…”
“Absorbing your speed,” growled Speed. “Taking what's precious to you like you did to me.”
Lightning erupted from the Flash's eyes and soon engulfed his entire body—but instead of burning or killing him, he actually looked more energized! “Wally, I've been to the Speed Force and back. It doesn't just grant me some of its power now like the other speedsters—I mainline it. I can't be cut off from my speed!”
“Fine!” Wally skidded to a stop, his fist becoming tangible as he exploded forward, connecting with a right cross that held all the speed of his whirlwind—and all his rage. The world seemed to snap back into place—as well as the cameras planted within the Titan. “We'll just do this the old fashioned way!
***ON THE AIR***
The blood of Keystone's protector filled the air, but he didn't let this injury deter him—becoming a red and yellow blur, the Flash landed on his feet and simply crossed his arms. Despite his nephew's extreme anger, he wasn't going to retaliate. He wouldn't throw a single punch.
Of course, Speed was another matter. The Titan threw punches like there was no tomorrow, and the two weaved back and forth so fast they were almost invisible.
Speed: “Dammit, he's just as fast as I am, and he's the one with all the smarts and super speed tricks. Of course, wasn't time for that anyway. I didn't care about tricks or running in stinking circles—I just wanted to see his face bashed in!”
Despite Wally's best efforts, however, the Flash was able to see through his moves—he knew that fighting angry, while improving strength and aggression, definitely diminished the attacker's skills. Not even uncrossing his arms, Barry Allen dodged below, above, besides and around every punch his opponent unleashed.
Speed: “I can tell from his stupid smirk—he thinks I'm just fighting angry. Well, of course I am, but it doesn't mean I don't have a plan!”
Wally West picked up speed, drawing more and more from the Speed Force with every punch. The Flash followed suit, and a whirlwind again picked up around the two as their supersonic movements started to dig through the pavement beneath their feet. However, as the Leaguer maneuvered and continued to grow faster, he realized that he was growing dangerously close to the threshold—that speed limit he dare not cross again.
He was forced to slam on his brakes, snapping to a stop as Speed's yellow fist of compressed energy soared towards his face at Mach 7.
Speed: “See, at a certain speed the world can no longer contain the energy—and any speedster going that fast will be absorbed into the Speed Force forever. Except for the Flash. Somehow, he came back—but I doubt he can do it twice. A goody goody like him will never risk it—but as a part of the Speed Force, it's not a danger to me. Finally, I can hit `im!”
Still, as Wally's fist tore through the Flash's head, he didn't seem affected in the slightest. In fact, the scarlet speedster actually smiled—vibrating at tremendous speeds, his nephew's fist actually slipped in between his molecules, not even touching him! Barry dashed through the other speedster and came to a stop behind him.
Speed: “Of course, that whole vibrating thing. Y'know, I may not be the biggest physics buff, but I can't even begin to imagine all the universal laws that must break. But y'know what, now's a stupid time to worry about that. If neither of us can be touched, this is gonna be tougher than I thought!”
Barry Allen likely had the same thoughts on his mind—though he was more worried at how to restrain his nephew—but fortunately, neither had to solve the dilemmas. Suddenly a golden lasso fell around the Leaguer, and the Justice League and Teen Titans stepped between the two speedsters.
“Calm down now,” commanded Wonder Woman. “This was neither of your faults. You're under mind control.”
As the Amazon princess loosened her weapon, Speed only growled. “Please. This is exactly what I've wanted to do since I saw MTV was making this stupid show. If Flash wants to cop out like that, let `em, but I know I was in complete control of myself.”
Speed: “I mean, seriously? Mind control? They must be high!”
“Speed is speaking the truth,” declared an unearthly voice. Raven emerged from only a small puddle of black, Zatanna floating before her on a bed of the same dark energy. “He indeed acted of his own resolve. His actions were simply used as a scapegoat, so that the manipulation would go unnoticed for longer.”
“Zee!” exclaimed Barry, ignoring the empath's statement and pulling his injured teammate from the Titan's grasp in a single, instantaneous dash. “What did you do to her?!”
Beast Boy: “Well, I guess Wally might not get the `Worst Treatment of a Justice Leaguer' award after all!”
“I…am sorry,” stated the Titan in her usual calm, cold voice. “Neither of us could control our impulses due to the manipulation. I have healed her wounds but I fear it may still be a while before her mind makes a full recovery.”
Looking down at the unconscious showgirl in his arms, Barry Allen then turned a pleading eye towards another teammate. “Batm—”
“Yes, Flash, we'll get her back to the Watchtower immediately.” Batman turned towards the rest of his team. “Ready?”
Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Animal Man and the Flash nodded. Suddenly Hawkgirl landed besides them, with the unconscious body of Deathstroke in her arms. “Only if we can stop off real fast to drop his ass in jail.”
“Of course,” confirmed the caped crusader. Turning towards the Teen Titans, he continued. “But this isn't done. As soon as the Martian Manhunter gets back I'm sending him by the tower to search your minds for signs of the manipulation.”
Robin: “Goodie. If they have to keep comin' back, can't he at least send a hottie like Black Canary or Power Girl? God, Power Girl, her boobs are like freaking bigger than my head! It's amazi—oh, s---, I think I need to change my pants
However, Wonder Girl's eyes lit up at hearing the news. “Kyle! Think you can come by too?!”
The Green Lantern hesitated for a second. “Donna, I dunno if I'll have the time…”
Cyborg: “Make time, punk. She's your girlfriend.”
Donna Troy wasn't giving up. “Pleeeeeeeeeease?”
Kyle Rayner just smiled. “Fine, I'll be there.”
Raven: “Interesting. Green Lantern definitely feels…affection for her, but I think he may just want to be able to say that he has a girlfriend but is not very willing to put in the work it requires.”
“So, this is it?” asked Speed, again interrupting the conversation. “You're all just going to act like everything is fine even after all I've told you?!”
Robin stepped up to the speed specter. “Of course, druggie. You're being a drama queen! Stop trying to get so much attention and—”
Lightning exploded around Wally. “Oh, like you're one to talk about being a glory hound, circus boy. Forget this! I did what I came to do! World, think about what I said! Can you really trust the Flash again?!”
The Flash tried to move to respond to his nephew's claim one final time, but he was frozen in his tracks. Wally was stealing all their speed! Of course, this wouldn't keep Barry Allen down for long, but it could just long enough for Speed to make his move. A single tear rolled down the Flash's cheek. “Wally…I'm sorry…”
“I'm sick of this, and I'm through with it!” exclaimed Speed. Then he exploded forward in a blinding dash, uprooting pavement and shattering windows with a sonic boom. He left only smoke, a mile long trench, and one final statement:
“I quit!”
Shadows filled the office of the director of `The Real World: Titan's Tower', Loren Jupiter. Dangerous, clandestine liaisons were common place in this room, and generally known to his staff (though definitely not to the stars of his show)—but the meeting now being conducted there was a secret even to Jupiter's trusted secretary, Ms. Clay.
“That was brilliant! Amazing!” raved Jupiter to his mysterious guest. “The drama of that rescue and the Robin and Deathstroke fight was just fantastic, but yet it was nothing compared to what came next—
“The JUSTICE LEAGUE! Any appearance of them will be a fan favorite, yet you stepped it up a notch! The manipulation was a brilliant idea! Who wouldn't want to watch the Teen Titans and the Justice League battle each other?! Those fights—seeing my Titans go toe to toe with the Justice League and still hold their own was exactly what we needed!”
“Yes,” replied his mysterious visitor, “I thought it turned out quite well myself.”
“Oh, the ratings we'll get on this!”
Jupiter's guest had something to add. “But what about the League? Batman is already suspicious, and with the Manhunter coming—”
“Don't worry, my friend,” said Mr. Jupiter, flashing the smile of a used car salesman. “You know all the resources I've got at my disposal. The League won't find anything to lead them back to us—not the tiniest trace.”
However, Loren Jupiter then calmed himself, leaning against his table to face his seated guest at eye level. “Still, I have one concern—Speed. Wally is an absolutely necessary source of antagonism. I need him back!” The director pointed. “Can I trust you to bring him back to me?”
“Absolutely,” answered Raven, floating forward out of the shadows, a malicious smile on what little of her face could be seen. “I look forward to it.”
Next time: Incoming Trouble!