Teen Titans Fan Fiction ❯ The Real World: Titans Tower ❯ Begin Endgame! ( Chapter 23 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
DISCLAIMER: The New Teen Titans were created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, and are owned by DC Comics.
“All Star Teen Titans”
“The Real World: Titans Tower”
Chapter 23: Begin Endgame!
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.
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—Princess Koriand'r: Pure-hearted alien powerhouse.
Terra—Tara Markov: Runaway and wanderer with control over the very Earth itself!
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.
***OFF THE AIR—INFANTINO HIGH SCHOOL. KEYSTONE CITY, KANSAS, USA***
Sixteen years ago a boy named Wally West was born in the small, plain town of Blue Valley, Nebraska. Though a small child, he had large dreams—of being a fireman, or an astronaut, or maybe even a super-hero!
Wally's parents, however, put down their son's aspirations as often as they could. They meant well—the Wests knew the world was a harsh place and just wanted Wally spared the pain so many dreamers are often met with. Still, the boy was crushed—but as time went on, his dreams became nothing but distant memories. Wally West became as plain as the town he grew up in, wanting nothing more than a normal suburban life.
Wally nearly lost that possibility, though, when a freak accident turned him into an energy based lifeform known as Speed. Faced with the loss of everything that had ever made him normal, Speed very nearly lost his mind. Only the timely intervention of his teammate Cyborg and his uncle, the Flash, was able to rescue the teenager from the depths of despair.
With his physical body returned to him and his powers gone, Wally was finally able to resume his normal life; he'd never been happier! Now it was his first day at Infantino High School, and he was anticipating things to be just like they had always been, back when he mostly stayed below the radar. Much to his surprise, though, he was greeted by the exact opposite!
At first all the attention was great, but by the time sixth period rolled around, Wally was thoroughly sick of it!
“Class, I'd like to introduce you to our new student: Wally West!” This was the sixth time the former Titan had been presented to a class that day, and each time it was the same: at first, a few of the kids seemed to recognize him, but once they heard his name, all their faces lit up! “Wally, do you have anything to say to the class?”
“Not really,” shrugged the reluctant celebrity as he made his way towards a vacant desk. “Just hey, I guess.”
Much to his chagrin, though, his classmates weren't going to give up that easily. “What, you're the Wally West?! From `The Real World'?!”
“So you got your body back?! I'm so happy for you!”
“I can't wait to spoil this on the forums!”
“So, that guy on the new promo really was Wally with his body back! I knew it! The new episode marathon this afternoon should be awesome!” That one just made the boy stop and think for a second—that explained why people were recognizing him!
For a moment Wally was frustrated that even after he was gone, Jupiter was still banking in on his suffering, but the objection quickly passed. `After all,' he thought, `At least it's something good to get these tools all worked up over for a change.'
Fortunately, before questioning could go any further the teacher interjected, “Class! You'll have plenty of time left to learn about your new classmate, but I only have forty-five minutes to teach you about carbon dating! Simmer down!”
Though far more interested in what Wally had to say, the kids shut up—all except for Joe Polanski, who sat behind the former Titan. His 200 pounds of pure muscle made him the most intimidating guy in school, which Wally found out for himself as Joe's hands suddenly clamped down on both of his shoulders.
“Hey, Titan boy,” whispered Joe over Wally's shoulder, “When're ya gonna show off for us? Cant'cha run `round the world in, like, faster'n I can blink?”
`Great. Too bad this guy's brain isn't as big as his body,' thought Wally with a sigh. “No, I can't do that anymore. I gave my powers up.”
A vein nearly exploded in Joe's neck. “Why t'hell wouldja do that?!”
Wally buried his face in his hands, knowing it was futile before he even spoke—yet, with seemingly little choice, he explained himself anyway. “My powers took away my body! All I wanted was to be normal again!”
“That's stupid,” chuckled Joe. “If I had powers, no way would I come back to this hellhole! I'd do anything I wanted!”
“You're the stupid one then, dumbass,” growled Wally without thinking. “Nobody could enjoy my powers.”
The former Teen Titan had said the words so casually he barely realized what was coming out of his mouth, but Joe Polanski was furious. With one devastating movement he knocked Wally from his chair. “Listen, super-hero or not, nobody insults me!”
“Joseph!” The shocked teacher quickly intervened. “To the principal's office, now!”
Begrudgingly, Joe crossed his arms and moved towards the door. “West: you, me, the court yard after school. Don't chicken out.”
As Wally climbed back into his desk, he was more annoyed than worried—even without powers to fight back with. `God, I just got challenged to a fight by some pumped up jock. This is so high school, so…juvenile.
`I would never give up my body again, but maybe I was wrong about the whole super-hero thing. I was never really able to give it a fair chance.' Looking around the room one more time, Wally just sighed. `It sure beats the hell outta this place, that's for sure. I wanted to be normal so bad, I actually thought I wanted to be in school!'
***ON THE AIR—OVER SAN FRANCISCO BAY. SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, USA***
A boulder soared over San Francisco bay; aboard road three Teen Titans, while three more flew above it. Their destination was Alcatraz Island, the former prison that was now a popular tourist destination. It had been taken over by a group of supervillains who were planning on making it their new base—but for now, they would settle for holding all its tourists hostage! With the scene of the crime practically visible from their base, it was a given that the Teen Titans would be the first ones called to the scene!
"Man," grumbled Gar Logan, the animal shapeshifter known as Beast Boy, "Could these guys have chosen a worse time to attack? Tara an' me were hangin' out!"
The green boy glanced happily to the thin blonde terrakinetic girl beside him. Golden energy surrounded the girl, Tara Markov, as she commanded the boulder to carry the two, plus the acrobat Robin, over the waters.
"You've had all day to hang out," replied the team leader, Wonder Girl, with slight annoyance in her voice. Starfire and Raven flew beside her, the three not needing their teammate's abilities to make it across the bay.
Gar raised an eyebrow. "Really?! It doesn't seem like it."
Beast Boy: "I guess time flies when you're havin' fun!"
"Don't worry Gar," added Tara with a chuckle, "We'll have all the time in the world to spend together after this."
Behind them, Dick Grayson chuckled. "Gar and Tara, sittin' on a rock. K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"
Though Gar blushed, Terra's smile just grew. Above them, Starfire laughed.
Robin: "Yeah, I made her laugh! That's a good sign all right! I mean...I really don't want to lose Kory. I think I may even love that girl...and I always said I'd never fall in love! I know I hurt her bad, so I'm gonna do everything I can to win her back!"
Starfire: "It is so good to see Dick back with us and laughing again! It feels like forever since I have seen him so happy! I wonder what has changed?"
As she always did when the topic strayed too far, Raven brought the conversation back around. "So, Wonder Girl, what are we up against?"
"These guys that call themselves the Fearsome Five," replied Donna. "They've got some big time powers, but small time brains—they've mostly robbed banks and other small scale stuff. Rumor in the underworld is that four of the members have followed a new boss, but if they're doing something as stupid as trying to turn a national monument into their base, then I doubt he's much smarter than the old one."
Wonder Girl: "Which, frankly, is fine with me. After Deathstroke, I never want to see another 'smart' enemy again!'
"Then this mission seems quite simple!" exclaimed Princess Koriand'r. "We just go in there and stop them!"
"Always a good plan!" chimed Dick—Donna just buried her face in her palm.
"No it's not, especially not this time!" protested the adopted Amazon. "They have hostages! We have to be more delicate about this! They're not just going to stand outside and attack us!"
All the while, as they argued their strategies, Alcatraz Island grew closer and closer, until finally it came into view. Some of the Titans didn't notice at first, but Beast Boy and Terra immediately burst into hysterics.
"Gar, what's that?" laughed the earth-mover in a playful, kidding tone.
"Why, I believe it's the Fearsome Five standing outside attacking us!"
Wonder Girl: "Smart aleck kids..."
A ring of neon pink energy soared towards them, growing larger the further away it got from the island. "I sense a multitude of powerful, conflicting forces within that attack," said Raven as she started to disappear into her dark cloak. "I suggest all of you get out of its way."
"Duh!" exclaimed Tara as she crouched low and raised her hands. "You guys better hang onto something!" The boulder followed her command and veered straight up, out of the attack's range. Gar yelped and became a tiger, trying to sink his claws into the rock's sheer face. When that failed, he just took flight as an eagle instead.
Ever the daredevil, Robin just pulled a Redbird boomerang from his belt and jabbed its sharp edge into the boulder, hanging vertically from it like he was climbing a mountainside. "F---, what a rush!" he said in a marveled, hushed voice.
Robin: "Hell, why would I need powers when I've got friends with such cool ones already?!"
The Titans weren't out of danger yet. Yet another ring of pink power soared towards them, but this time it was accompanied by about two dozen missiles that fired from small silos hidden around the island.
"Great," growled Donna Troy, "They're trying to split us up!"
Wonder Girl: "That's the same strategy Deathstroke used! Divide and conquer!"
"I do not sense that much thought behind the assault," said Raven, appearing from nowhere. "They are simply trying to destroy us, one way or another. I sense only four on the outside—their boss must be waiting within the prison for us. I will go after him. Even then, you have the advantage, five against four, right?"
Raven vanished, teleporting inside of Alcatraz, leaving the team leader pondering her words.
Wonder Girl: "She's right! Not that I like her running off like that by herself, but she's right! We can take the Fearsome Five down! I wanted to feel like I could have a little more faith in my team, so what better time to start than now?!"
"Alright team, if they want to split us up, then split up! Once we've taken care of them, we'll move inside!" The girl wonder actually smiled for a second as she continued, "I just need you guys to make it there in one piece! Can I trust you to get through?!"
"Hell yeah!" responded Robin, and his cheer was quickly followed by his three teammates.
The alien powerhouse soared high, unleashing a blinding display of Starbolt attacks that demolished a number of the missiles. The impression of her long red hair soared behind her like a trail of fire as she weaved between the few remaining projectiles, picking them off one by one with quick, precise shots of fluorescent green.
Starfire: "Their paths are so simple to decipher, it is almost boring shooting those weapons down!"
Her former boyfriend, however, was conferring with Terra. "Hey Tara! Your boulder may be the only thing big enough to stop that stupid pink ring!"
One could practically see the wheels turning within the girl's head as her smile grew wider. "Good idea! I'm getting pretty sick of looking at it myself!" Golden energy flared around her gloved hands as two small chunks of the rock broke free, levitating the two Titans in mid-air as the rest of the boulder hurled into the hot pink attack.
Time almost seemed to freeze as the boulder was immersed in pink, floating for a second before exploding, sending chunks of stone and dirt flying in all directions. With Tara's abilities, it was easy to direct the debris away from her path, but Robin was knocked right off his perch.
His cape caught the wind and expanded like a glider, slowing his fall, but no matter how slow he fell, there was nothing to hit below but the frigid water!
Robin: "Man, this costume is way too f---ing hard to get on an' off dry—no way in hell I wanna get it wet!"
Suddenly, though, he felt something grab his hand. Opening his eyes, Dick saw he was being flown high into the air—courtesy of his savior, Koriand'r!
"Woah, Kory! I...I didn't know if you'd catch me!"
"Dick, I would never let you fall." The boy's face was suddenly filled with joy, and Kory realized what she had implied. "I would never allow harm to come to any of my friends!"
And the acrobat's spirits fell right back just as fast as they had risen. "Oh."
Robin: "S---, I hoped that was her getting over it!"
Starfire: "Ever since he came back from the city Dick has been surprisingly pleasant, but...I do not want to lead him on. He still hurt me quite badly, and I do not know if I can just let that go!"
Suddenly their attention was diverted by a large chunk of concrete—which looked like it had been ripped from the former prison's walls itself—soaring straight for them. "Take that, bugs!" cried a large man from the island's shore. Wearing a yellow jumpsuit, he was hunched and bearing a set of fangs in a bestial manner. Fur covered nearly all of his massive, muscle packed body.
"Kory, just get me to 'im! I'll take care of the rest!"
"All right..." Starfire tossed Robin with all her Tamaranian strength, just seconds later dodging the soaring chunk of concrete. Dick soared just as quickly towards their target, striking the Fearsome Fiver dead in the chest with both feet. However, it was Dick who was sent flying, sprawling across the sand as his opponent didn't even budge.
Scrambling onto his feet, Robin rubbed his aching head. "S---, you're heavy as a rock!
Maybe you need to go on a diet, y'know, drop a few hundred pounds?!"
The beast-man roared in outrage. "Nobody insults Mammoth!" The ground rumbled as he charged the Titan. "I make you flat as pancake!"
Robin: "Hard as a rock, dumb as a rock. Oh well, a guy can't have everything—unless he's me!"
Suddenly, though, a flash of orange and green intercepted the massive villain. Kory's fist was surrounded by a surging Starbolt as her uppercut connected with Mammoth's chin, which actually managed to knock the unmovable villain backwards!
"Nobody hurts my friends!" exclaimed the angered alien as she floated at Dick's side.
Robin: "Hell, so maybe I can't take the guy on alone. There's nobody I'd rather fight with than Kory!"
What was left of Terra's decimated boulder fell into the bay, splashing water all over as she landed on the island's shore, brushing her hair out of her eye and surveying her surroundings.
"Why, lookie what we got here, Billy!"
Tara span to see two identical men, each tall and skinny and wearing a bright red full body jumpsuit with a multiplication sign on the chest. Dark visors and red hoods covered their heads.
"I see 'er, Billy! My my, we's gotten us a pretty one, yessiree bob!"
The earth-mover nearly hurled. "Ugh, rednecks. I wandered away from the South to get away from guys like you!"
One of the Billys walked towards her, trying to take her hand. "Why, pretty little thangs like you ain't s'posed to mouth off! Don't you worry your little head off—Billy Numerous's a perfect gentleman!"
"Ew," replied Terra, rolling her eyes. The ground beneath the closer Billy uprooted and sent him flying. As he hit the dirt with a thud, the girl just grinned. "One down, one to go."
Billy Numerous's face dropped. "Billy!" A shocked look of anguish was replaced by one of outrage. "Ain't nobody hurt Billy Numerous!" Suddenly he started to shimmer and vibrate, and clones started to appear, extending out of his body and replicating endlessly, until over 100 exact copies of the redneck villain surrounded the one Teen Titan. "Right, Billys?!"
Tara Markov just sighed and took a fighting stance. "If there's one thing I hate more than a redneck, it's a hundred of 'em!"
Armed with nothing but their fists and sheer numbers—which was actually quite formidable—the army of Billys charged Terra. The terrakinetic sent rocks flying left and right, uprooting dirt and sending the clones tumbling. As they hit the ground they would disappear with a pop—a sign that they were not truly living beings.
Still, they were real enough to do damage, and Tara couldn't take them down fast enough. They stormed past her defenses, cloning new copies of themselves as they went, until they all were just close enough to pile up on her, making a giant mound of Billy Numerous.
“Now lookit you done, Billy!” scolded one of the Billy clones. “You've gone'n crushed `er! Now how d'you reckon we're gonna do anything with `er if we're all piled up on `er like this?!”
One of the Billys beneath him shrugged, but before any of them could offer an answer they were immersed in a pillar of golden energy. Tara Markov could be heard screaming beneath them, and suddenly the ground erupted, sending all the dirt, sand and stone surrounding her flying in every direction, swirling like a whirlwind..
Every last Billy Numerous was knocked out cold, and as they disappeared, only the final one was left solid, unable to continue replicating. Terra just smiled, and after she caught her breath, she only had one thing to say to her unconscious opponent.
“Well, looks like I was right! Rednecks do get stupider when you have more of them together!”
"Ha, look at Billy go!" Standing on the other side of the shore while his teammate was still struggling with his opponent was a diminutive ten year old, wearing a green leather suit, goggles and a circular, shiny silver backpack. "Even all of those nitwits together aren't as smart as I am, but at least they can punch, right Jinx?"
Standing close to the loudmouthed boy genius was Jinx, a pale skinned young woman with long pink hair adorned with numerous beads and other hair accessories. Her fingernails were painted black, and her shirt and dress were all the same shade, all made of soft velvet. She wore black army boots and a black choker necklace—to call her gothic would have been an understatement.
"If I were you I'd be more worried about myself than Billy, Gizmo," sighed the girl as she rolled her eyes. Pointing both her arms into the air, she continued to fire pink energy blasts, the same kind that had been giving the Titans so much trouble. "You should probably look up."
Indeed, above Gizmo was a green rhino, falling face first towards him. As he saw him, though, the boy just smirked. "Please, I knew he was comin'! I've got radar up the wazoo!"
Beast Boy: "Ick. I know he wasn't serious, but still, not a pleasant thought!"
Just as Gar's animal form was ready to strike, several bursts of blue energy shot from Gizmo's backpack, with two small wings and a set of thrusters appearing in their place. The Fearsome Fiver took to the air, and with two more small bursts of blue two missiles launchers extended over his shoulder.
"Fear the Gizmopak G1200!" exclaimed Gizmo as missiles fired from the two launchers. "There's over 1200 weapons the size of pins stationed all over it—and I can use any of 'em any time I want by usin' its built in size-manipulator to bring them to full size!"
On the ground, Garfield Logan grimaced. "Man, nobody as small as you should be that smart!" Then, as missiles rained down all around him, he took the form of a pterodactyl and soared into the sky, whizzing between the explosive projectiles like a pro.
Beast Boy: "Dude! I've never been in a dog fight before...well, at least not without actually bein' a dog!"
Gar looked over his shoulder—as well as a pterodactyl could, anyway—and was happy to see some more fizzle out and spiral into the bay to detonate harmlessly. And, despite what one would think, he was happy to see that he was finally growing close to the pint-sized inventor as well!
"Hey, stay away from me, ya stinkin' freak!" cried the loudmouthed child as he continued to fire missiles—but by now Gar had a clear shot, and soared right through them. In fact, he nearly collided with Gizmo, but at just the last second he shrank into a chimpanzee and landed on his opponent's back.
He grasped the backpack's wings and, growing into a gorilla, proceeded to rip them straight off!
Beast Boy: "Ha! He should have packed some extra-wings!"
"What's freakin' wrong with ya?!" cried Gizmo as they spiraled out of control, his thrusters no longer able to be directed without the wings. Hanging on to his backpack, the gorilla shrank into Garfield's human form.
"Hey, just tryin' to win," chuckled Gar, shrugging slightly.
Another burst of blue came from the Gizmopak G1200 as a new weapon grew to full size—this time a double barreled energy rifle! It pivoted on an extended arm until it faced the green boy. "Well so am I, so get offa me!"
Again becoming a nimble chimpanzee, Beast Boy leapt over a blast, but his opponent wasn't done showing off new tricks. He shut off his thruster and again shrank it, instead unleashing another weapon. Four long mechanical legs, resembling a spider's, grew from the side, and Gizmo span in mid-air, colliding the legs with Gar and sending him falling to the ground.
Beast Boy: "Ha, he's just jealous he can't really become a spider! Well, wait till he sees what I got in store for 'im next! He'll give up that stupid Gizmo-vac for sure!"
The second the shapeshifter hit the ground he had to roll to avoid more gunfire, but he didn't seem upset. Indeed, as Gizmo's spider-legs touched down a few seconds later, he was actually smiling. “Four legs?! That's nothing!”
Gar stretched, his body shrinking while his arms multiplied and grew. He had become a giant squid, and he wasted no time in wrapping a tentacle around each one of his opponent's mechanical legs and tying them together.
“I'll make you seafood!” threatened Gizmo as he started to fire frantically, but before the shots could land Gar disappeared, letting the now unsupported Fearsome Fiver fall flat on his back. The legs disappeared, shrank back onto his backpack, and the tiny tinkerer climbed to his feet. “Show yourself already, ya moron!”
Suddenly electricity surged as Beast Boy, now an electric eel, channeled the destructive energy into the Gizmopak G1200, frying its delicate internal circuits. Gizmo screamed and ran in circles as Gar sat on the ground and laughed.
Finally the boy managed to pull off his short-circuiting equipment. “What're you laughing at?!” he growled angrily.
“You!” responded Garfield, unable to contain his laughter.
“Well stop it! Ya think I don't have weapons on me?!” Gizmo pulled some grenades from his belt, but by the time he looked up to throw them, he only saw a kangaroo leaping towards him. “Oh poop!” Spinning, Beast Boy knocked him out cold with one lash from his tail.
Beast Boy: “The winner, and still champeen…Beast Boy!”
That left Wonder Girl the last Titan still in the sky, where she soared between Jinx's perplexing pink attacks. One zoomed straight towards her face, and with almost no time to react, she managed to knock it aside with her unbreakable bracelet.
"There's no way you're going to be able to hit me!" cried Donna as she took a chance and charged towards the shore. "Believe me, far better than you have tried!"
"Please," replied Jinx, almost sounding bored, as she shot an attack, not at her opponent, but into the water beneath her. "As if that's all they can do!"
As the pink struck the water it exploded, rushing upwards like a waterspout that completely overwhelmed Donna. Jinx continued her assault, sending half a dozen projectiles across the water, each creating more spurts of water that actually shot at an angle, knocking the Titan to the shore, where she lay washed up on the beach.
Wonder Girl: "I've ended up in that position many times before—flat on my face, soaked to the bone, spitting out seaweed and salt. It used to be the price for getting downed during an Amazon training session on the beach—now it's just insulting!"
As the drenched adopted Amazon climbed to her feet, she grumbled, "Well, and here I just thought those were energy blasts. What, are you telekinetic or something?"
"No," replied Jinx playfully, "I'm just bad luck." Suddenly another sparking pink blast burst to life in her palm, and she hurled it like a star pitcher would a baseball. "And these are my bad luck hexes!"
Donna may have had trigger-hair reflexes, but they were of no use when an attack wasn't even aimed at her—as was the case here. Jinx's hex struck the ground right in front of her feet, causing the rock and sand beneath her to cave in, falling into a seemingly bottomless pit!
Wonder Girl: "Okay, I have to admit, that's a pretty cool power. But still, causing a cave-in can't do much against someone who can fly! It does keep me at an arms length, though, but it's not like I can't fight from a distance!"
Taking off, the girl wonder soared forward, outrunning the growing hole and reaching for her lasso. A second later the mystical lariat was hurling through the air and towards her unfortunate opponent, but Jinx didn't seem too scared.
"Okay, looks like you've got some reach," admitted the goth, "but it's too bad for you coming right at me is pretty worthless!" She unfurled her palm and unleashed a potent blast of bad luck, sending the lasso whirling in the other direction, where it ensnared a jagged boulder.
Wonder Girl: "So, she wants to be like that?! Fine! I don't think she can even begin to comprehend all the strategies I've learned in my life!"
So instead of letting her weapon go, the Titan just yanked and turned, pulling the tied-up rock right out of the ground and swinging it at Jinx like a ball-and-chain. The black-clad girl never even flinched as it grew closer and closer; finally it was nearly upon her, and Jinx just calmly outstretched her hand and released a point-blank hex.
"Here, you can have this back." Jinx couldn't help but to smile as the boulder immediately reversed directions, swinging twice as fast back towards Wonder Girl. She took to the air, but her opponent had things covered—hexes flew from all directions, striking the ground, the boulder, and other nearby rocks, and causing every last object it hit to blow into pieces!
It pushed Donna Troy to her limits, but she managed to evade the debris, weaving and dodging as fast as her enhanced-speed allowed her—until Jinx chipped in one last hex into one last rock, which caused one last explosion. When the smoke cleared, the Titan had one leg trapped beneath the pile of rubble.
"Oh no!" cried Jinx, mocking her fallen opponent. "Whatever are you going to do now?!"
"Oh, just quit gloating and finish me off already," Donna said with a snarl.
"With pleasure." Smiling, Jinx extended her arm and let a ball of "bad luck" grow, crackling with pink energy. "If you can, let me know what the afterlife's like! I've always been curious!"
Wonder Girl: "She's so arrogant! Oh well, it worked out fine for me—there's no way I'd let this stop me!"
Indeed, Donna's face filled with a smile as she swung her supposedly trapped leg, flinging the rubble that was atop it past the hex and straight into the stunned Jinx. She didn't even have time to retaliate as it struck and sent her flying into one of the prison's walls. Still, Wonder Girl wasn't done yet. She burst forward and, clasping both fists together, swung her bracelets into the giant hex. It was sent flying in the opposite direction—straight into the wall above of Jinx!
The goth screamed as her own powers betrayed her and the wall collapsed, leaving half her body buried by the heavy stones. She was out cold.
"I've had enough bad luck lately," said Donna Troy as she walked away. "I don't need yours."
While the rest of the Titans plowed through their enemies, Robin and Starfire were having slight trouble with theirs, the super strong, nigh-invulnerable beast-man known as Mammoth. It wasn't that he was too strong for them—it was simply that their attacks did nothing to stop him!
Starbolts fired from the Tamaranian's hands like machine-gun fire, but Mammoth just charged through it, the energy attacks bouncing off him as if he was a tank. He drew within striking distance and bared his claws, but by the time he could swipe at her the alien was already high above him.
"Enough!" she cried as she fired a potent blast of fluorescent green, but Mammoth was far too fast to let it hit, even if it could effect him; he leapt and somersaulted off a rocky crag, trying to get high enough to tag his airborne opponent.
Suddenly, though, a blue disk struck him in the chest, exploding into a shimmering arc of sub-zero sparks and frozen crystals. Mammoth's ice-encased form—weighed down by his dense body—fell to the ground like a rocket.
"S---!" Suddenly Dick realized what a mistake that was—if Mammoth hit the ground like that, he'd be shattered, left in a million pieces! "Kory!"
"Do not worry!" cried Starfire, soaring down low to catch the Fearsome Fiver, "I have him!"
Starfire: "Back on Tamaran, the very idea of letting thieves or murderers live would be considered insanity! But here, it is law, even if one held begrudgingly...all my time here on Earth I have struggled with this concept, but it seems the longer I stay here, the easier it is to uphold!"
The Mammoth-sicle landed with a thud in the Tamaranian's arms, but he didn't remain there for long—from deep inside the thick, icy casing emanated a roar filled with primal fury. Suddenly Mammoth broke free, shattering his sub-zero prison and attacking his savior with reckless abandon!
"Well, if that didn't work guess a bolo's gonna be pretty f---ing pointless then," remarked Robin—but he didn't let that deter him as he reached for his belt.
Robin: "I think I know what was buggin' me all this time now...I've always been better'n everybody around me, all my life! But now I work with girls that could crush me with their pinky and guys that can turn into f---ing wildebeests...and it was just like, how can I compete with that?!
"I thought bein' like Batman was the answer, but hell, that just wasn't for me. Thanks to Superman, I realize it now...All I gotta do's just be me! That's all this team's ever needed! So maybe I can't hurt this Mammoth jerk...then I'll just find another way to win!"
"Hey, you overgrown shag-rug! Think fast!" Dick Grayson let loose with a handful of explosive disks that bombarded his massive opponent as he landed. "Maybe'll all that thikin'll do ya some good—or maybe it'll just fry your brain! Either way, it's an improvement!"
With his claws bared the beast-like villain tore through the disks as he stampeded forward, the ground rumbling beneath them. "You no insult Mammoth!" he cried with outrage. "Me make you stop!"
"Well, you can try," said Dick with a sly smile as he leapt above the monster's razor sharp claws. Mammoth reached over his head to try and tag his agile opponent, but the Titan just pushed off his back and somersaulted out of reach. "And, of course, you won't make it, s--- head!"
The Fearsome Fiver was so angry his face was turning red—Dick was surprised steam wasn't floating out of his ears—but before he could further pursue Robin a Starbolt flew at him, a large solid beam moving as fast as a bullet train! Just the force of it moving closer blew Dick off his feet!
Yet, Mammoth just held out his hand in front of his head and caught most of the beam's heft in his palm, letting the raging, destructive bolt fizzle out feet away from him. Princess Koriand'r was right behind it, screaming as she span into a ferocious Tamaranian martial art strike. Snarling, her opponent caught that attack as well and reciprocated in kind, sending the beautiful Titan tumbling across the island.
Starfire: "Donna said that these villains had great powers but no brains...but I never expected them to be this strong! Do not get me wrong, I have no problem fighting somebody stronger than myself, but his moves have no pattern or style! He moves like an animal, on instinct! That is difficult to counter!"
But that didn't mean the alien was going to give up! As she rose to her feet she unleashed a volley of tiny Starbolts as cover—while they bounced harmlessly off Mammoth's body, he covered his face with his arms, apparently to protect it.
Robin: "Hey, looks like the little Robin's whole 'observe everything around you' lectures are finally payin' off! He protected his head! That must be his weak-point! About time!"
"Kory!" called the detective. "It's his head! We can hurt him if we hit his head!"
"Easier said than done!" replied Kory, firing attacks from the air. "He is too fast to hit from this distance, and he will not let me get close enough to make a difference!"
It only took Robin a second to come up with a solution. "Then let me handle it! Get in the sky and be ready to attack! I'll get this f---er to hold still!"
"What?! Are you sure that is safe?!"
"Safe? Hell no!" Despite that, though, Dick just flashed her his biggest grin. "But I've handled worse!"
And that was enough for her. Starfire took the sky, her hair burning behind her like a dancing flame. Mammoth, however, just smiled. He cracked his knuckles and bared his claws. "Good. Mammoth want to tear you apart first anyway!"
"Well too bad!" Throwing both arms to his side, Dick tossed a dozen black balls into the fray—as they hit the ground they spewed a thick screen of smoke. "Nobody gets what they want all the time—not even me!"
Mammoth choked on the smoke, flailing and slashing aimlessly in all directions. Sounds echoed around him like somebody was attacking, but by the time the smoke cleared, nobody had laid a finger on the massive beast.
"Hey donkey-f---er! I thought you were going to tear me apart?!" Robin called to his opponent from atop a boulder in the distance. "Well, aren't'cha?! Come an' get me!"
"You will die!" cried Mammoth as he charged—and was promptly caught up in an intricately spun web of steel wires. Robin had strung over half a dozen grappling launchers all around the Fearsome Fiver, and as soon as he moved he'd sprung them.
Now Mammoth was wrapped tight in the cocoon-like trap—if it could hold him! "Mammoth can get outta this!"
"I'm sure you can!" laughed Dick Grayson as he pointed to the sky. "But by then, she'll have finished ya off!"
His jaw dropping, Mammoth stared up and saw Starfire floating above him, a shimmering ball of green pulsating in her palms. She screamed and let the Starbolt fly, and as always, her aim was true. The attack exploded in a brilliant flash of green as it struck Mammoth's head, and as the smoke cleared, the beast was out cold!
"Dick, that was amazing!" cried Kory as she soared into the boy and trapped him within her massive bear-hug. “Good job!” His face buried in her bosom, the acrobat just mumbled.
Robin: “I'dve said something back, but y'know, boobies were in my face.”
It took that long for Koriand'r to realize what she had done, and she suddenly let go and took several quick steps backwards.
Starfire: “I do not like having to restrain my actions and feelings…it goes against my nature. I do not want to make Dick think that I want to get back together with him, but it is hard to not be enthusiastic around him…
“Especially today! Today he has been the Dick I fell in love with in the first place! He was brave, funny and charming! But…I cannot help thinking about what Donna told me when I was first interested in Dick, that he would only hurt me…and he did. And back then, Dick was unable to admit his true feelings about me…and now he refuses to tell me why he was being so secretive…and even though he has returned to his normal behavior, he still has not told me why! I would like to think I could trust him again, I really could…but I cannot. Not yet.”
Robin: “S---…she's still not feelin' me. What more will it take?!”
The silence between the two Titans felt like it could separate worlds, but fortunately their teammates put an end to the awkward moment. “Hey, get up here you two! We're not gettin' any younger!”
Wonder Girl, Terra and Beast Boy were waiting for them by the door. “Good job, guys!” exclaimed Donna with a smile. “I didn't think we'd be able to make it past them that easily!”
“Hopefully the rest of our mission will be just as easy,” replied Kory as she wound her arms and released a Starbolt that sent the massive prison doors flying off their hinges and across the island. “Now, to help Raven!”
“Not just yet,” interjected Donna. “Raven can take care of herself. We need to get to the hostages first!”
Starfire: “I suppose Donna was right. If any of us can hold our own, it is Raven…but even if they are strong, I still worry about my friends!”
***OFF THE AIR—SECRET ROOM BEHIND LOREN JUPITER'S OFFICE***
Hidden behind a panel in the office of Mr. Loren Jupiter, manager of the Teen Titans, was an expansive room. Dimly lit, the walls were lined with a seemingly endless supply of tall computer terminals, blinking machines of a mysterious purpose. For the moment it was empty, its owner having far more important things to think about.
Suddenly, though, the silence was shattered by the sound of a trumpet. A wormhole opened in the middle of the room, courtesy of the Herald—Mal Duncan—and his Gabriel Horn. The rest of Titans East followed behind him: Karen Beecher, the cybernetics expert known as Bumblebee. Bette Kane, the heiress and martial artist known as Flamebird. Roy Harper, the government sanctioned weapons master known as Arsenal. Bart Allen, the hyperactive super-speedster from the future known as Impulse. Francis Kane, the bi-polar magnetic girl known as Magenta. And finally, the last one through the wormhole was Omen, a mysterious figure hidden beneath an expansive black and red cloak.
It was Omen who had reassembled the team in this hidden room, and now it was Omen who took charge. “This is it: Jupiter's secret room. We cannot waste anymore time if we are to stop his plans.”
“I still can't believe Jupiter's evil!” stammered Fran. “He always seemed so nice!”
“The guy seemed like a tool to me,” grunted Herald, “So yeah, I'm surprised he could pull something like this off.”
“You are both quite wrong,” corrected Omen. “We cannot afford to underestimate Loren Jupiter. The man has been manipulating the Teen Titans since they were first formed—in fact, their entire reason for existing was simply to fill his needs. Jupiter has pulled countless strings to raise and raise the show's ratings—all the while, he's been using these machines to steal and store the energy of his ever growing group of viewers.”
Rolling his eyes, Roy interjected, “So, another power-hungry madman? As if the world didn't have enough of those…”
“His motives may be cliché, but with all the power amassed in this room, Jupiter is still quite dangerous.” Omen gestured across the room towards all the computers lining the walls. “Of course, he can only use it as long as these machines stay in one piece…”
“Yeah yeah, we get it!” exclaimed Bart Allen as he took off. “We just gotta blow up these stupid computers!”
Smiling, Flamebird pulled some of her namesake weapons from her belt. “Impulse is right, guys! Let's tear this place apart!”
Becoming a white and red streak, Impulse was almost bouncing off the walls as he pulled apart consoles and shattered screens. Vibrating through one of the machines, he came out of the other side dragging the computer's insides behind him.
Whirling his newly upgraded Gabriel Horn in his hand, Mal puffed his lips and released a sound wave that nearly blew a hole through the wall. Behind him, his girlfriend sent shocking stinger blasts flying all around her.
Bette let loose with her Flamebirdarangs, tossing explosive and freezing ones left and right and watching them take their toll. Arsenal was showing a similar lack of restraint as he fired explosive arrows and his laser pistols.
Extending both of her arms to the side, Magenta released a potent magnetic blast that simply shredded the remaining machines. In less than thirty seconds, Mr. Jupiter's room had been completely demolished!
“Wow, who knew saving the world could be so easy?!” exclaimed Impulse, grinning madly.
“Unfortunately, the world is not saved yet,” said Omen somberly. “We may have destroyed his machines, but Jupiter himself is still quite dangerous, and now he's targeting our friends.
“The Teen Titans need our help. Titans East, we're going to Alcatraz…”
***ON THE AIR—INSIDE ALCATRAZ PRISON***
The five Teen Titans rushed down a muted white corridor inside the former prison, following Raven's signal on Donna's Titan communicator, hoping to find their teammate.
"Do we really need that?" asked Beast Boy, his ears twitching. "I mean, I can hear 'em fighting from here! It sounds like a war zone!"
Koriand'r gasped. "I hope Raven is okay! It has been an awfully long time for them to still be fighting!"
"Wouldn't've been half as long if somebody had known how to run the boats back to shore!" griped Tara. "A whole prison full of hostages but somehow the sailors got away scott-free?!"
Beast Boy: "If Vic'd been here he could have handled that easy! I don't wanna sound like a wuss here or anything, but I'm startin' to worry about the guy! I know he was laggin' behind to shut off his lab and bring the T-ship, but it's been a really long time since then!"
"Enough complaining," grumbled Wonder Girl. "I think we're going to have enough to worry about already without adding that." Proving the adopted Amazon correct, a prison-cell door cloaked in black energy suddenly burst through the door and down the hallway, straight toward the superheroic entourage!
Acting purely on instinct, Starfire lashed out and immolated it with a Starbolt. "Well, I think we're there!" laughed Robin as he cracked his knuckles and dashed for the room.
Within the large chamber, once the main cellblock, chaos reigned. Most of the cells had been torn from the walls—as had much of the walls themselves—and the balcony that held much of its second floor was crumbling. Raven soared across the room, circling her opponent as her dark cloak flared wildly around her, possessing anything in the room she could possibly find to use as a weapon.
Her opponent had a similar strategy. On first glance he was far from intimidating: he looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties, and his thin, frail body was cloaked within a pink and black robe that was so oversized it looked like it was swallowing him. His pupil-less eyes were surrounded by dark rings, but what was most shocking about this figure was that the top half of his head seemed to be a clear dome—inside could be seen his brain, floating as if suspended in some sort of liquid!
He smiled a wry, wicked smile as the dome glowed bright pink, and fields of the same color appeared all throughout the block, taking telekinetic control of objects and mobilizing them against Raven in like.
"Holy f---ing s---!" exclaimed Dick as he skidded to a stop. "I can see his brain!"
"Pleasant," grumbled Wonder Girl, trying to hold down the nauseous feeling that was slowly developing in her gut. "I'd take a bad luck hex over that any day..."
"Look Psimon, my teammates are here," taunted Raven. "Do you really think you can win now, against all six of us?"
Pulling his staff from his belt, Robin decided to answer for him. "Hell no he can't!"
Wonder Girl: "I went into this team hoping that they would help me find my parents, find myself. I was hoping that we could do anything. And, of course, from the very start I was disappointed...yet, despite appearances, we accomplished more than I ever thought we could. But, at the same time...we let Terry die! So I don't know anymore what we can do and what we can't...I just hope Dick is right. I want to think he is, especially since his flunkies were so easy to take down, but...there's something off here. I feel it in my stomach...something is wrong! I just wish I knew what!"
"Ah, the Teen Titans." Psimon grinned. "You don't need to threaten me—I was hoping I would get to battle with all of you. I think you'll find it...enlightening."
Starfire: "Enlightening? He plans to teach us?"
Taking steps backwards, Terra waited until she had put a good distance between her teammates and herself before screaming and sending her golden aura soaring. The floor cracked as jagged rocks broke through the concrete foundation and jutted in all directions. Massive stone pillars rose around her, soaring straight through the roof before coming to a stop. The earth finally ceased rumbling as the tiny terrakinetic took a breath, nearly collapsing—still, she was proud! This was a feat she could have never pulled off without complete control of her powers!
However, she just found herself greeted by annoyed looks from half her teammates. "What?!" she asked, shrugging. "I needed something to fight with! It's not like this place wasn't trashed enough as it is!"
Wonder Girl: "She has a point. Thank Zeus we don't have to pay for the damage we cause!"
Thrusting both of her fists to the side, several of the pillars shattered and filled the air with boulders of all sizes, ready to follow Tara's every command. "Well, what're we waiting for?! Let's light 'im up!" Throwing her arms forward, the rocks followed suit. Seeming to explode into action, they hurled towards Psimon like a meteor shower.
"You have the correct idea, Terra," complimented Raven as her cloak billowed, sending every object she had under her control into the storm of rock. "If we overwhelm him, perhaps he will be unable to maintain his control!"
"Well, I'm all for it!" cried Gar as he leapt into the air, taking the form of a bald eagle as he stayed one step behind the destructive attacks of his two teammates—which was practically guaranteed to tear apart any animal shape the boy could assume.
Psimon was even less durable, but he looked far less worried. In fact, his smile only grew as he levitated backwards. "Overwhelm me? Bah! A master of mentality cannot be overwhelmed!"
Brainpower seemed to explode from his clear head, nearly vaporizing every scrap that Terra and Raven had sent his way. What survived was flawlessly redirected into Beast Boy's path, knocking him from the sky and nearly crushing him—until Starfire burst through the wreckage, the changeling in her arms!
Beast Boy: "A master of mentality? Yeah right! My adopted Dad, Mento, he was a master of mentality! Sure, he needed a helmet to do what this guy can do with his freaky dome-head, but he didn't attack anybody with those powers either—at least not anybody who didn't have it comin'!"
"Thanks...Kory," mumbled Gar groggily, but she was already long gone, soaring like a rocket towards their brightly garbed opponent. She screamed as she fired a Starbolt, but it had barely left her palm before Psimon reversed its direction, and the green energy exploded on contact with its creator!
As she tumbled through the room, a grappling launcher sank into a nearby wall, propelling Dick Grayson into the air. He reached the end of his line and let go, somersaulting until he was nearly on top of his ex-girlfriend. "Hey Kory, think you can give me another boost?"
She nodded in agreement, and he landed perfectly with one foot in her hands. She sent him soaring, but Psimon simply shook his head. "Nuh-uh. You get close to me by invitation only!"
The Fearsome Fiver's telekinesis then promptly took control of Robin's cape and pulled him backwards, wrapping the garment around Koriand'r's head! Another field of pink energy pulled Dick's staff from his grip and, after spinning it in the air, brought it down hard into the Tamaranian's stomach. Both Titans fell straight to the ground.
"Well, that was disappointing," said Psimon with a sigh. Again his head lit up, and this time steel rods used in the prison's constructions were pulled from beneath the cement. "Looks like I'll just have to show you what I can do instead!"
"And this time I'll shut you down!" Donna Troy took to the sky, moving so fast she was only a blur. With her magic lasso in hand she effortlessly bound the erratically grouped rods, and with one punch she knocked them back where they came from!
Psimon chuckled. "Impressive, but ultimately, useless." The telekinetic let the rods get as close as he dared; as they came within a few feet of his body, the ends began to practically dissolve as he pulled them apart, scattering their shattered atoms to the wind. Growling, Wonder Girl shot into the air, but her opponent simply released a mental shockwave that sent the entire team tumbling across the floor.
However, even as her teammates were still reeling, Raven had a plan. Black exploded around her telekinetic rival as she attempted to do to him what she had done to Dr. Light—unleash her Soul Self directly into his mind!
"I should have done this as soon as the fight began!" exclaimed Raven, her already creepy voice only getting spookier as it emanated from within the pure black.
"Why?" asked Psimon, not losing his calm even for a second. "It would have been just as pointless then as it is now." The ground shook as neon light burst from all around the Fearsome Five's leader, shattering the Soul Self with its pure psionic force and sending its empathic owner flying.
"Raven!" cried Kory.
"S--- this guy's strong!" exclaimed Robin as he picked himself off the floor. "So, I guess the question is, what the hell's a guy like you doin' hanging out with those brain-dead a--holes we left outside?!"
Wonder Girl: "I don't know if Dick realizes it or not, but he's onto something! Maybe that's what feels so wrong to me! Psimon's too smart for this crime! He's too smart for his cronies!"
"And why would somebody as strong as you try to take Alcatraz?!" demanded the Titans leader. "You have to know trying to take over a government institution is pointless! They'd never let you keep it!"
"Yeah!" piped in Gar. "They'd sic the army or the Justice League on ya', and even you can't take down those guys!" Pausing for a second as a depressing thought popped into his head, he added, "Well, I guess you can't..."
Behind him, Terra just swallowed a lump in her throat. "Don't give him any ideas, Gar..."
"You Titans have no idea how long I've been waiting for you to ask those questions," mused Psimon cryptically. Suddenly chuckling, though, he continued, "But that doesn't mean I'm ready to give you any answers...at least not yet. Now without some sacrifice..."
Robin: "Hell, what is it with villains and sacrifice?! I thought they liked to talk! Shouldn't he be ready to tell us his whole elaborate plan by now?!"
Suddenly, though, all their thoughts were interrupted as part of the ceiling was shattered by an explosion. As debris rained to the floor a potent beam of focused sonic waves burst from the newly created hole and struck Psimon, knocking the villain to his knees, where he held his ears with a vice-like grip, trying—and failing—to keep out the ear-piercing noise.
Gar's face lit up. "Vic!"
Indeed, it was Victor Stone, the mechanical Titan known as Cyborg, who stepped through the hole. He leapt to the ground, tackling his incapacitated opponent and holding down his face with his free hand—all the while never letting up with his Sonic Cannon!
Beast Boy: "Woah! That's Vic all right, but I dunno if I've ever seen him so intense, even 'gainst Brother Blood!"
"Why?!" roared Cyborg. "Why did you do this to us?! We trusted you and you did nothing but use us! Why?!"
Starfire couldn't understand what her friend was talking about—or why he was so enraged! "Vic! You are not making any sense!"
"And you're way out of line!" added Donna. "Let him go!"
Cyborg: "I'm out of line?! I don't even know anymore! I'd never normally go off on somebody like this, but they don't know what he's done to us! Normally I'd agree with Donna, but...damn, not with this guy!"
"You don't know what he's done..." growled the half-man, half-machine. Shaking his captive, he demanded, "Show them! Stop this act and show them who you really are! Then they'll understand!"
"Fine," groaned Psimon weakly. Vic finally shut down his Sonic Cannon, and the dome on his telekinetic captive glowed dimly. "Titans, Psimon is...simply an act. The name, the appearance...he does not exist. You only see me because I manipulated your minds...made you see me as Psimon...but who I really am...well..."
Chuckling to himself, he let his mental suggestions go, and the Titans' sight blurred for a second as they finally saw 'Psimon' for who he really was—though they still didn't believe their eyes! It didn't make any sense!
"No way! I never would've thought he had it in 'im!"
"Holy f---ing s---!"
The Titans had good reason to be surprised: because Psimon was actually their manager, Mr. Loren Jupiter!
"Surprised, my Titans?"
Garfield Logan could only stammer. "M-Mr. Jupiter's a telepath?!"
"A telepath who took a federal monument hostage and attacked his own team!" added a livid Donna.
Wonder Girl: "To believe I used to kiss up to him! I wish I had known this then!"
"He's done a lot worse than that," said Cyborg in a solemn, gravely tone. "Jupiter's been manipulatin' us from the start! He hired Dr. Light and Deathstroke! He made us and the Justice League fight, and then erased the evidence from our minds! And when I got too close to the truth, he blew up my lab, with me still in it!"
"You make that sound so bad!" drolly stated Jupiter, still held in the metal-man's grip.
Cyborg: "Damn that pompous jackass! I was hopin' he'd at least be pissed I was able to survive his little trap usin' my energy shield to protect myself from the explosion, but he don't care! He's just as smarmy as ever!"
"Oh, and Cyborg?" The mechanical Titan just glared at his captive. "Never touch me again." Jupiter's eyes suddenly lit up purple and sent Vic soaring with a psionic shock; as he tumbled off the balcony to the floor a story below, the malicious manager slowly got to his feet and wiped dirt off of his plaid suit-coat.
Tara was quick to take action, rustling up a small dust-storm that slowed her teammate's descent and no doubt saved him some unwanted pain. "You okay?" she asked.
"I guess," grumbled Victor. "I'm a little dirty, and very, very pissed, so if you call that okay, then I guess I am."
"Come now Cyborg, don't hold a grudge." Mr. Jupiter still stood on what little remained of the crumbling balcony above the rest of the block, looking down on the team he had manipulated like puppets for months now. "I mean, sure you weren't smart enough to figure me out before it was too late, but don't worry, nobody could have!"
Wonder Girl: "Hera, he's more arrogant than Dick!"
Robin: "S---, this guy's so full of himself it ain't funny! And there are a lot of loudmouths who ain't got nothin' to back it up, but I think he's more like me: he's got a reason to be arrogant!"
Starfire: "I do not understand this! Sure Mr. Jupiter has always been a little...odd, but I always thought he had our best interests at heart!"
"Mr. Jupiter, say this is not so!" pleaded Koriand'r. "You gathered us together and helped us combat evil! You helped me find a new home after escaping the Gordanian forces! Please, I do not understand how you could be evil!"
Loren just chuckled, however. "Poor naive Starfire...you'll trust anybody, won't you? Did you ever even wonder how I found you after you...'escaped' the Gordanians?" The arrogant man accented the word escaped by making air quotes with his fingers. "After they rebelled against your sister, the Gordanians sold you to me. I bought you from them so I could use you in the show!"
Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran was stunned, tears trickling down her cheeks as she stood in silence, desperately trying to comprehend what she was hearing.
Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran was stunned, tears trickling down her cheeks as she stood in silence, desperately trying to comprehend what she was hearing.
"But...why?!" was the only response the heartbroken Tamaranian could find. "Why would you do this to us?!"
"Why, as I'm sure your smarter teammates have figured out already, it's simply because I have much to gain by manipulating your actions, using you as my puppets. Your actions may have saved lives and stopped criminals, but no matter what, on some level, they were simply serving my agenda!"
"But what?!" This time it was Donna who took charge. "What could you possibly gain by manipulating us like this? Higher ratings?!"
"And what about me?!" yelled Terra. "Why did you bring me here? Did you just need somebody to fill in the numbers, or do you have some twisted fate in mind for me, too?!"
Again Jupiter simply chuckled, amused by how close his pawns actually were. "As I already said, I'll give you some answers, but it will require some...sacrifice."
Not satisfied with those answers, the Titans prepared to beat some answers out of their boss, but suddenly they stopped, frozen by the echoing sounds of a million voices screaming in their heads.
'You will not attack me! You will stand still! You will follow only my commands, move only when I want you to, do only what I tell you to!'
And as the Teen Titans grew limp, their minds desperately and vainly fighting to regain control of their body, their director stood far above them, telepathically putting commands into their very brains, and all the while taking exquisite pleasure in the whole ordeal.
Wonder Girl: "I felt helpless, just like when Jericho took control of me! Actually, this may have even been worse, because while Jericho simply controlled my body, I can actually hear Jupiter putting every thought into my head! I can hear his sick mind making me do everything he wants!"
"So, you want answers...I'll give you an answer, but...for the price of one of your lives!"
The Titans eyes shot open wide in shock, but even as her mind protested, Wonder Girl was forced to grab her lasso. "So, who should it be?" asked Jupiter cruelly as lightning shot from his tool's mystical lariat. "Shall I have Donna fry Cyborg's circuits?"
Suddenly he made Kory spin, a Starbolt sizzling in her palm, pointed towards Robin! "Or perhaps Starfire should incinerate her ex-boyfriend! After all, I can see she still loves him, despite everything he's done to her!"
Robin: "That's good to know, but I sure wish I coulda found out when I wasn't about to be killed! Then again, that seems to be the only f---ing way I find out anything anymore, heh."
No matter how much she strained, Tara couldn't restrain her power as her beautiful golden aura built around her. "Or maybe Terra should crush her little crush Beast Boy!"
Beast Boy: "Definitely not the kinda attention I'm lookin' for!"
Jupiter was giggling like a schoolgirl. "Oh, this is too good! I don't know who I should kill first!"
'How about nobody, you sick freak?!'
Everybody in the room froze as the new, mysterious voice sounded in their head. Suddenly the air in front of the Titans started to shimmer and warp, and a few seconds later a new player had entered the field—a mysterious figure hidden beneath a massively oversized crimson and black hooded cloak!
"And who are you supposed to be?" asked Jupiter, annoyed at the intrusion and the interruption of his game.
"I am Omen," said the disguised savior, its voice indistinguishable, "A harbinger of doom: namely yours, Loren Jupiter! For today, your plans are thwarted!"
'You are free, Teen Titans! Regain control! Jupiter will no longer manipulate you!'
The six Titans all jerked, once again in control of their bodies thanks to Omen's telepathic powers.
Beast Boy: "Finally, a telepath on our side!"
"As long as I am here, I will make sure you can't control the Titans anymore!" exclaimed Omen. "And I have done more than that to spoil your plans!"
The sound of a horn blew as a wormhole opened behind the harbinger, and the six remaining members of Titans East stepped through.
"Terra!" Flamebird's eyes shot open wide, and the enthusiastic heiress rushed her former teammate, hugging her as tightly as Starfire would have! "It's so great to see you! I thought you were still in Zandia!"
"Just got back, actually," replied the earth-mover with a smile. "It's kinda a long story. I guess it's the same for how you got hooked up with the living parka over there?"
"It's not that complicated," laughed Bette Kane. "Omen recruited us to save the world!"
Robin: "What?! Flamebird saving the world?! I hope this Omen knows what he's f---ing doing!"
"Indeed, the Titans East have been most helpful!" announced Omen. "They have destroyed your energy collecting machines, making everything you've been working towards completely worthless! You're defeated, Jupiter!"
Donna Troy just looked confused. "Energy collecting machines? That doesn't make any sense..."
"Sure don't, but we definitely destroyed some of them anyway!" exclaimed Roy Harper from behind the adopted Amazon. Just now noticing the archer, she only chuckled nervously.
Wonder Girl: "Great, Roy's here. Now this is life-threatening and awkward!"
Mr. Jupiter, however, didn't seem threatened in the slightest. "Well now, if I'm defeated, I at least deserve to see who defeated me, right?!" Not waiting for an answer, he took telekinetic control of Omen's cloak and ripped it to shreds!
Beneath the cloak was a young woman in a red and black sweater and miniskirt, with black high heels. She had long red hair and earrings in the shape of peace signs. While Loren Jupiter knew exactly who she was—and, truthfully, had before he even removed her disguise—most of the Titans weren't quite as in the know. In fact, she only looked familiar to two.
"Wait a second," said Donna as she strained to remember where she recognized this girl from, "Aren't you Mr. Jupiter's secretary?!"
"She sure is!" exclaimed Terra, not waiting for an answer as her powers instinctively leapt to life. The ground beneath them shook. "So, does that mean you're working with him?! Trying to trick us?!"
Lilith Clay was knocked off her feet as the floor quaked. "No, I swear! All I've ever wanted is to stop Jupiter!"
"She's right, you know," nonchalantly added Jupiter. "Of course, assisting me as my secretary all this time probably wasn't a very good way to do it."
"I had to get close to you and earn your trust, figure exactly what was up with you!" exclaimed Lilith, defending herself.
"This don't make no sense," sighed Vic. "How did you know he was up to anything at all then?!"
Cyborg: "Seriously, this whole thing just keeps making less and less sense!"
"Because I saw it," said Lilith mysteriously. "Just two years ago I was a normal girl, but then I started hearing people's thoughts. It freaked me out even more as I started getting whole glimpses of their minds, and when I realized that I could put thoughts into their heads too!
"But the worst was the premonitions...I started to see glimpses of the future, omens of things to come. One of them was of my parents telling me that I was adopted, and that my abilities likely came from my birth parents, so I left home on a search for them.
"All the clues led me to a man named Loren Jupiter, who it seemed might be my father. To get close to him, I interviewed for the position of his secretary. But there was something off about him—and I don't just mean the clothes. His mind was...nothing but static! I couldn't read his thoughts!
"That's when I saw it...he triggered one of my premonitions! I saw a future that was dark and bleak, with blood red skies and a lifeless planet...and it was all Jupiter's fault!
"So when I got the job I decided to take it, to stick close to Jupiter and figure out just what he was up to, so I could stop it! Titans, he's been manipulating you from the start so that he could tell the most entertaining story possible, so that he could drum up ratings and reach larger and larger audiences!
"Once his audience peaked, he was going to use his energy collecting machines to steal all their strength and use it for himself!"
Beast Boy: "Woah, and they call some of my stories far-fetched!"
Jupiter slowly clapped his hands. "Bravo, Ms. Clay. Very compelling. Still, you didn't take something very important into account when you made your plan."
That shook Lilith, but she tried to put on a brave face as she asked, "And what would that be?"
"You said you knew something was wrong because you couldn't read my mind, but my dear Ms. Clay, I couldn't read your mind either! I knew all along that you were trying to stop me, though I didn't know exactly how—nice touch bringing Titans East in, by the way, even if it was a tad desperate."
Robin couldn't hold in his laughter at that, despite the dire situation and Flamebird's resentful reaction.
Lilith, however, fought back. "So?! It didn't do you a lot of good if you still told me your secrets—heck, you never should have hired me in the first place!"
"Why Ms. Clay, what kind of fool do you take me for?!" Jupiter nearly cracked up. "I hired you because you were honestly the best candidate—besides, you knew many of my secrets, but I never told you everything! And as for those "energy collecting machines", they were never real! The computers your team destroyed were never anything more than elaborate decoys to make sure you didn't catch onto my real secrets!"
The two teams of Titans were crestfallen, especially Lilith. "Wow, even I feel dumb now," sighed Impulse.
Before they could figure out what to do next, though, the room suddenly started to shake, and red lightning shot from Mr. Jupiter's body. A vortex of crimson formed between his hands as a fearsome looking cowl emerged, coming to rest in his palms.
Cyborg: "Dammit! This situation is bad enough without that thing showin' up again!"
"Uh-oh, team...this might get really, really bad," stammered Wonder Girl as she started taking steps backwards.
"Why?" asked Terra, who along with half of Titans East, had no idea what Jupiter's new weapon was. "What's so dangerous about that thing?"
"What isn't dangerous about that thing?!" scoffed Robin. "It nearly killed us a while back!"
"It's the Brother Blood cowl," explained Vic Stone, "And it's probably the most dangerous weapon on Earth!"
Jupiter's grin couldn't have been bigger as he slipped the weapon onto his head. Immediately he was immersed in crimson energy, and as he emerged, he was wearing robes identical to the ones he wore as "Psimon", except these were red instead of pink!
Beast Boy: "Okay, some improvement in the costume there, but not much! He needs to spend less time harassing us and more time reading some magazines!"
"Indeed Cyborg, this cowl is the key to everything. Ms. Clay was correct that I wanted to drive up ratings and gain more and more devoted fans, but all along I was planning on using the Brother Blood cowl to collect their fannish loyalty and devotion and turn it into my very own power!
"You see, I've been trying to make it big in this business for years. I was brilliant, but jealous producers and directors kept shooting down my scripts, never giving me a chance to take the place in the spotlight I so deserved! I never gave up, but it was only draining more and more of my spirit...
"And that's when I discovered my psionic power! I could have used it to make those damned envious fools give me whatever I pleased, but I wanted to prove a point to them! So I came up with the idea of this show, and used my powers to get it on the air, to manipulate events so that reality was as interesting as fiction!
"And look at it! Am I a brilliant writer, or what?! We're the top rated show on MTV! We've been syndicated to too many stations to count! Our ratings are at an all time high!
"And that's all I've been waiting for. Today we're airing a 'Real World: Titans Tower' marathon, all leading up to the brand new episodes chronicling your newest escapades with our friend Deathstroke—which should be airing as we speak! Viewership will never be higher! So I'll seize the opportunity and finally make their power mine! I'll have enough strength to do anything I please!
"Of course, as my power has grown, I've realized that having this strength is nothing without somebody to show off to...so I hired the Fearsome Five, created the identity of Psimon, attacked Alcatraz and lured you here, my Titans, all just so I could tell you the truth and crush your spirits in person!"
Cyborg: "Damn, Raven was right about that cowl! I don't think either Sebastian or Jupiter used to be that bad, but gettin' all that power twisted their minds! They feel so entitled they don't have no guilt anymore!"
The two teams of Titans didn't know what to say. Jupiter's words scared them, weighed down on them like a million pounds.
"So...I haven't done anything?!" Lilith was crushed. "I helped him all this time and couldn't do anything to stop him?!"
"Do not be hard on yourself, Lilith," said Koriand'r, putting her hand on the telepath's shoulder. "We were all fooled by him! He has done many terrible things, but we shall let him do no more! We will stop him!"
Starfire: "I have never been more sure of anything in my life than I am of that!"
"And how're we supposed to do that?!" cried Gar Logan. "I know it's kinda hard to remember with all the costume changes, but this is the same guy that was just kicking our butts bad a few minutes ago!"
"It's doesn't matter!" cried Robin, directing all eyes towards him. "There's fourteen of us an' only one of him! We're gonna take him down, an' we'll kick his ass so hard he'll never think about messin' with any of us again!"
Robin: "That's the only way you can deal with guys like him: fight confidence with confidence! I can do so much s--- 'cause I always believe that I can do anything, an' it's not gonna be any different this time!"
The acrobat's charisma actually seemed to be energizing his teammates.
Starfire: "Dick just keeps on amazing me today! I would follow him into battle anytime!"
Wonder Girl: "I can't believe I'm saying this...but Dick made me believe him there. I don't know if I've just never noticed it before, or if he's only getting a handle on it, but Dick has the spirit of a real leader!"
Cyborg: "Just what I wanted to hear! Jupiter needs to go down hard!"
"Fourteen?" Suddenly, though, their figurative balloon was busted as Jupiter again spoke, his eyes lighting up purple beneath his fearsome cowl. "You've overestimated yourselves there, Robin—as you so often do. You see—and here's my second great secret, if you're keeping track—I knew that if Lilith showed up to interfere with my grand revelation, she would try to keep me out of all of my Titans minds! Therefore, I created a weapon that I couldn't be kept out of!"
Suddenly the floor again rumbled, and Terra shot into the air, riding atop a jagged boulder. Her rock columns began to crumble and float beside her.
"Tara?" Gar swallowed a lump as he noticed that his love's eyes were now glowing purple, just like Jupiter's! "What did you do to her?!"
Beast Boy: "I swear, if he hurts her I don't know if I'll be able to hold myself together! I can't lose her!"
"I'm controlling her just like I was controlling all of you, of course," replied the devious director, though he quickly corrected himself. "Actually, it is slightly different. When I realized Lilith could block my telepathic control of all of you, I ferried Terra over from Zandia, telling her that I planned to help her learn to control her wild powers. Of course, I did give her control, but I also secretly planted telepathic overrides into her mind. Without her even knowing it, she became my mole within the team, ready to be turned into my willing and able tool whenever I may need her services!"
The words could barely even escape his mouth before Starfire was in the air, seething. "That is the final straw! I will not let you use our friends this way! You have proven to be a horrible person in every way, and even if it means I am exiled from this world I have come to love, I will kill you!"
Starfire: "I most certainly meant both things I said! I have come to love Earth and the people on it just as much as my home on Tamaran, but I would give that up to see Jupiter brought to justice! He does not deserve to live after ruining so many lives! He has played with all our minds, is using Tara like a puppet, he is even responsible for the death of Terry! Even more than Deathstroke, Mr. Jupiter does not deserve to live!"
However, before she could carry out her threat, she was knocked out of the sky by the very girl she was defending. With her full potential at the control of the vicious Loren Jupiter, the entire room had become a whirling duststorm full of flying rocks.
"Oh," quickly exclaimed Jupiter, like he had forgotten, "And just to make this a little more interesting..." Suddenly two large doors beneath him glew purple and popped open, and a crowd of over a hundred armed soldiers, all also under Jupiter's telepathic control, marched through, guns aimed for the two teams of Teen Titans.
"Great!" exclaimed Flamebird, "Is there any way this could get worse?!"
Robin: "S---, you're never supposed to ask that! Something worse'll always happen next!"
"Well now, you seem to have this all planned out, Jupiter...the problem is, they are not our plans." Indeed, just as Dick had said, something worse happened. Raven suddenly appeared behind Jupiter, darkness flaring around her like a black fire. "Should we consider this a mutiny?"
"Ah, Raven!" Jupiter still just smiled away. "I was hoping you'd step forward and reveal yourself! This, Ms. Clay, is my third and final secret from you!"
"You're controlling Raven too?!" Wonder Girl couldn't believe it. "What the hell is wrong with you?!"
Wonder Girl: "Terra's powerful enough, but if he has full control of Raven, then that's it—there's no winning! Maybe Wally could have beaten her if he was still a phantom, but with him gone every chance we had of competing with somebody as powerful as Raven is gone too!"
"Wonder Girl, you know better," chastised the dark empath. "Nobody controls me. Mr. Jupiter has been working for me. Despite how brilliant he truly believes he is, he could never have come up with the idea of using the Cowl of Blood, nor with the way to find it, without my guidance. Our goals have always been mutual...until now, it seems."
Shrugging, Jupiter just laughed and said, "Well, I guess the cat's out of the bag! Don't get me wrong, while I'm certainly grateful for the psionic powers you and your father granted me, you simply weren't offering me enough incentive to stay with the program! I don't just want to rule over one world, I want it all! If I keep this cowl for myself my power will be unlimited!
"And, if you think you can stop me, just remember that your dark powers are useless against this cowl's power!"
Raven wasn't impressed. "I am not so weak so as to be stopped by such a simple disadvantage," she said in a threatening tone. "And as for the offer we made you, it was a lie. Once Trigon makes this world into his own dark image, there will be nothing left to rule. All along your cooperation only ensured a quick, painless death, but now, your mutiny has earned you the most painful demise possible. Hand over the cowl."
Jupiter acted as if he was considering her offer for a second, and then just slyly smiled as he shook his head. "Considering you've promised me death, I think I'll take my chances and keep it for myself."
"Fine." Suddenly the dark veil that had always enshrouded Raven seemed to explode as it burst around her. Beneath it, it could be seen that her cloak was actually dark blue, not black, and all this time it had simply been hidden by her Soul Self! Now Raven's true appearance was revealed, and it shocked her teammates. She had skin so pale it was almost gray. Long, jet black hair fell behind her head. In the center of her forehead was a red jewel, a chakra, used in meditation. However, her most prominent—and most frightening—feature was her four red eyes, each glaring at Jupiter with an expression full of hatred.
Wonder Girl: "So all this time Raven has just been hiding inside her own power?! We never really knew her at all! I can't believe we trusted her!"
Cyborg: “It must've taken her a lot of energy to constantly be usin' her Soul Self like a disguise all that time, `cause as soon as she stopped her vitals and energy readings skyrocketed! Great, she's even more powerful now!”
"Raven?!" Starfire called to her friend, her voice full of confusion and frustration. The dark empath, however, paid the alien no mind. Jupiter moved only slightly, just enough to reposition Terra between the Titans and the two former allies.
"Great!" growled Beast Boy, "She really did go to the dark side!"
Stamping her foot, Koriand'r retaliated, "No! I refuse to believe it! Jupiter did something to her, just like he did to Terra!"
"I wish I could say I was with ya, Starry," said Cyborg, "But something's been fishy with that girl for a while now. Maybe Raven really did betray us! Maybe she was never on our side to begin with! I think Wally was right about her all along..."
That caught the attention of Magenta, Frances Kane. "Where is Wally anyway?"
However, her question went unanswered, barely even heard with so much commotion already under way. Before Kory could even move to defend her friend, Lilith Clay stepped between her and Vic. "We don't have time to argue, not with Jupiter so close to achieving his goal! We can sort this out later!"
Starfire: "At least that I can agree with! I still do not think Raven could be capable of what she said, but now the best way to find out is to stop Jupiter and ask her ourselves!"
'Right, so first we have to save Tara!" declared Gar, readying himself for action. "We can't hurt her—this isn't her fault!"
Beast Boy: "We need to get past her to stop Jupiter and save her, but there's no way I'm lettin' her get hurt while we do it! Jupiter and plenty of other jerks've all done that to her enough already!"
"Agreed!" echoed Victor Stone. "'Sides, we have to get to Jupiter as fast as possible! The guy was already monstrously strong before he got the cowl! Now, he'll make the other Brother Blood look like nothin'!"
"And then, even if we can do all that, we still have to make sure our most powerful teammate hasn't decided to betray us and destroy the world!" added Wonder Girl.
Looking all around her, Flamebird chimed in, "And don't forget all these soldiers! Good thing Titans East is here to lend a hand!"
"So," asked Donna playfully, almost like she was issuing a challenge, as she turned towards Dick, "You still think we can take him?"
Robin: "Truthfully? I had no idea. We'd never faced anything like this before. But that's why I couldn't say that! After all that time I wasted bein' all dark an' s---, I had to think we could do it! It's the only way we can!"
"F--- yeah!" exclaimed Dick Grayson, never even letting that moment of doubt show. "Let's do this!"
Next time: The Moment of Truth