Disclaimer: The Teen Titans animation is the property of Glen Murakami and Warner Bros. Animation.
Chapter 5 - Finding the Center
"Rose!" Starfire squealed, almost sending the other Titans reeling back from the force of her voice. She flew over to the girl and gathered her into a bear hug. "It has been such a long time since we have seen you. It is most glorious that you have joined us today!"
"Star..." Rose's eyes began to well up with tears. "You're...choking me..."
"Eep!" The Tamaranian let her go quickly. "I am sorry, friend Rose! Have any of your internal organs been damaged?"
Rose's body throbbed in pain. "Not...all of them..."
Red Star turned to Cyborg. "I was not aware of anyone named Rose in the Titans. Did I miss something?"
"While you were back in Russia, we had a string of incidents involving an old nemesis of ours. We thought it was him, but it turned out to be his daughter, Rose," Cyborg explained. "We managed to corner her, but it turns out she was under the impression she needed to continue his work. We were able to convince her otherwise."
"Yeah, but she left a couple days after agreeing to come with us," Beast Boy added. "I wonder where she's been."
Rose walked down the stairs, still slightly wincing from Starfire's hug. "Hey guys. Long time no see."
Robin hopped down to the floor to meet with his team. "Ravager's been training with The Master for the past week, at my request. I thought that it would be better that anything we have here, especially since we didn't actually have a training room for a while."
"Hey!" Beast Boy exclaimed. "Weight training as an octopus does make me eight times stronger!"
Raven rolled her eyes. "It also makes you eight times dumber."
"Anyways," Robin interjected, "I figured this would be a good opportunity for Ravager to get her feet wet and see if all of her training has paid off."
"But Robin," Starfire said as she peered down at the white-haired girl's steel-toed boots, "her feet do not appear to have any water on them."
"It's...a figure of speech, Star."
"Oh, that is right!" Starfire stood back up, beaming. "I now remember that from the book Cyborg gave me for Christmas! Foiling Your Fickle Friends: One Thousand and One Figures of Speech!" She could imagine herself toiling with the book in her room as the customs of Earth were-
Her inner thoughts burst as she was brought back to reality. "Yes, Robin?"
"You can go back to reading your book later. We have a mission to do."
"Yes, it's time to get going, mates," Argent added. "They're going to move the materials soon, from the sounds of it."
"Cyborg, you guys take the T-Car. Star, Raven, Argent, and Red Star can fly. Ravager, you're with me." Robin pressed a button on his communicator. "I've uploaded your coordinates to all of your comms."
He made his way to the main doorway and waved his hands dramatically.
"Ladies and gentlemen...our mission awaits."
"You know, I've only ridden on a motorcycle once before."
"There was a gang."
Robin peaked his head around to look at his passenger.
"...It was a thing."
Not wanting to press the issue further, Robin turned his attention back toward the road. They had left the Tower a few minutes before, heading out on his R-Cycle. Behind him was Ravager, grasping him around the waist.
"You don't seem very comfortable on motorcycles, though."
"Well, it wasn't exactly the best of circumstances."
"What happened? Did a giant pack of robots on mechanical bears chase you across three states?"
Ravager shook her head. "No, that's just stupid."
Robin winced, sad that his joke was denied.
"It was four states, and it was an elephant."
"Red Star, I have had a question for you ever since our meeting in the land of Russia."
"And what is this question you have, Starfire?"
"Beast Boy has told me that in the old Russia, certain things can be done to us as opposed to the opposite. Is this kind of occurrence commonplace?"
"...I believe Beast Boy needs to stop paying attention to the Internet so much."
A few minutes later, The Boy Wonder pulled up to the edge of a cliff, just overhanging the target location. Ravager uneasily got off the cycle, shaking her head.
"At least there wasn't a maniac robot elephant this time," she muttered.
Robin pulled out his communicator. "Status report, Titans."
He heard the whooshing of the air that was always synonymous with Starfire. "Robin, I have arrived at the location."
"So have we," Raven said over the frequency.
"Ditto for us," Cyborg confirmed.
"Good." Robin kicked his stand down on his cycle. "From this point on, we maintain radio silence. Do not report back in until either a half hour has passed, or you have secured the packages, whichever comes later. That should give us plenty of time to do our mission. Over and out."
"So, let me get this straight," Ravager started as Robin made his way down the hill. "You brought me all the way out here because you saw my father on a video moving a bunch of rocks."
"And what's so special about these rocks again?"
"Cyborg says their elemental breakdown seems to enhance technology to its peak, and then some." Robin hopped up to a nearby branch to gaze down on the warehouse. "Imagine if Red X got a hold of that."
He winced. "Oh yeah, you don't know him. Imagine if Brother Blood-"
"Still don't know him."
"Atlas? Adonis? Control Freak?"
"Nope, nada, and...wait, what kind of name is that?"
"...Looks like we'll have to teach you about the kind of villains we deal with."
"Sooo...how's everyone doin'?"
"Beast Boy, Robin said to shut up."
"I'm pretty sure he didn't put it like that. It's boring here, anyways."
Raven sighed as Argent giggled behind her. "It's infiltration. It's suppose to be boring."
"Can't do anything anyway until Cy opens the door. Isn't that right, Cy?"
Raven heard the slap of metal over the comm, as well as the sound of a blowtorch whooshing past the speaker. "Dude, trying to concentrate here!"
She let out an aggravated growl. "Whatever. I'm turning you two off now."
Argent flew a little farther ahead as Raven ceased her conversation. "So, you and Beast Boy..."
"Me and Beast Boy what?"
"Oh, come off it, love," the gold teased. "Don't tell me that you two aren't anything."
"Pretty sure I'm telling you now."
Raven and Argent glided down to the roof of the warehouse, where Raven was easily able to make a passageway through the material. Once inside, they began to look around for their target.
"This Slade character...I was listening to Robin at the Tower talk about him," Argent whispered. "Sounds like a terrible guy."
"He brainwashed Robin into his apprentice, made me into a puppet to summon my demon father, and that's not even counting the countless other things he did to this city," Raven monotoned. "Minerals with technology-enhancing capabilities? Azar knows what he's up to with that."
"Raven, I think I found something."
She hovered over to Argent, who pointed over to the far corner of the building. She shined some purple light in that direction, illuminating over some iron crated with a faint green glow coming from the cracks.
"That's it. Are you ready to take this stuff-"
A shadow dashed through the light, the being that caused it almost knocking Raven into the wall.
The spell caster regained her balance, lowering herself onto the floor. "I'm fine," she snapped as she waved her light around the premise. "What in the world was that?"
She wildly turned, finally spotting something in the back corner. She shined some magic in its direction...and saw a robot, with metal claws, a black jumpsuit, and a orange circle on his mask.
Several of the boxes around them erupted into splinters as more of the Sladebots came into view. Raven and Argent quickly found themselves back to back and surrounded.
"What the heck are these things?" Argent yelled.
"Something I thought I wouldn't have to see for a long while." Raven held her hand down to the floor. "I'm porting us out of here. We need to warn the others."
Even before she started her mental incantation, a giant symbol appeared beneath their feet, nullifying the spell.
"An anti-teleportation rune."
Both of the girls looked up to see the windows in the ceiling were now covered by solid steel, all adorned with the same symbol.
"Let me guess," Argent said uneasily, watching the robots circle them. "Warehouses aren't suppose to have retractable metal covers with magic-repelling capabilities?"
"I'm going to go with a no on that." Raven pressed the brooch on her cloak. "Robin, this is Raven. We have a situation-"
The loud crackle of static interrupted her plea.
"Dammit!" Raven cursed. "Radio's blocked. Probably some sort of scrambler in the building."
"Well, Raven," Argent said, powering up her fists with red energy, "Looks like there's only one way out of this."
"Yeah." She straightened up as her eyes glowed white. "Hope Slade didn't need any of these robots back."
Argent summoned an energy fist and pulled it back. "If it will help, just imagine it's Beast Boy's head."
"Way ahead of you." Raven materialized a claw, sending it towards the nearest Sladebot.
"Beast Boy, what did you run into now?"
"Nothing." He held his head to his hand. "It feels like something just came out of nowhere."
Kole walked up behind him, levitating a crystal in her open palm. "Perhaps you need some medicine. Maybe we could find some in these boxes."
"I think I would rather eat Cyborg's meat dishes than eat crate medicine."
"And yet both would probably make you feel better!"
All three heads turned to their fourth companion, who was standing on what appeared to be a steel crate, with a faint green glow coming out from it.
"Wow. I wonder how the workers totally missed this when they were unpacking the cargo."
"Slade probably made them look the other way," Cyborg replied as he surveyed the box. "Or just brought it in when nobody was looking. Doesn't matter either way." He waved over to Gnaark. "Hey, want to give me a hand with this?"
Before he could even step forward, the overhead windows slammed shit with a loud clang.
"No idea, buddy," Cyborg replied, narrowing his one human eye. "But I have a funny feeling that Slade knew we were coming."
"Was it that..."
Cyborg turned to see his best friend madly waving his hands and the hundreds of Slade-bots that had appeared out of nowhere.
"OR WAS IT THE GIANT ROBOT ARMY?"
The four teens backed up into a huddle as the robots began to close around him. Beast Boy quickly turned into a bear, Kole made two spears out of crystal, and Gnarrk cracked his fists together.
"I'm hankering for a good fight anyway." Cyborg held up his hand, cannon at the ready. "Titans, let's rock!"
A giant red beam shot across the room, destroying several Sladebots in the process.
"Red Star, I do not think you know your own strength."
"That is part of fun, is it not?"
Starfire smiled as she threw another starbolt out at a crowd of robots. "Do you ever have the feeling that our friends are getting more of the exposition than the both of us?"
Before Starfire could come to her next wall-breaking epiphany, she was tackled by a Sladebot.
Several more robots slammed onto her, causing a huge pile of metal and electricity.
"Starfire!" Red Star began to fly over to assist, but was cut off by several sudden laser blasts.
Underneath the pile, the Tamaranian was straining under the weight of the adversaries on her. "No..."
Her eyes began to glow green.
With all of her strength, she threw out her hands, the energy throwing back the robots into the walls, destroying all of them in the process. She fell down to one knee as Red Star hovered down to her.
"Are you OK, Starfire?"
He looked at her face to see the alien teen growling, steam pouring out of her ears and her hands balled into fists.
"That is it!" Starfire flew up, her anger clearly evident. "I am not the nice girl anymore!"
Red Star watched as she flew off, throwing starbolts willy-nilly around the battle area. He sighed inwardly.
"I must remind myself never to make that girl mad."
Two pairs of metal boots clanged onto the roof of the warehouse. The shadows opened up a spare window and repelled down to the ground below. The shorter one grabbed a glowstick from his utility belt, shaking it slightly before the pale yellow light started to illuminate the room.
"I don't like this."
Robin turned to his teammate. "If it's any consolation, neither do I. But we need to get this stuff out of here before Slade suspects anything is happening."
"And what if he does already?"
"You know something I don't?"
Ravager continued to scan her surroundings, looking for their cargo. "If I know one thing about my father, it's that he prepares for everything. We're going to have our hands full with them."
"Let me ask you something, Rose." Robin took a second glowstick and handed it to Ravager. "What is it like being with the most dangerous man to Jump City?"
"I wouldn't know. I haven't seen him in ten years."
Robin momentarily forgot they were on a mission where they needed to keep quiet. "What!?"
"Yeah." Her eyes narrowed, her memories coming back to her. "He left me and my mother alone when I was young. Before that, he was always teaching me about legacy and family and how each was important to produce your own identity on the world."
"Sounds like the father of the year."
"He had me train at a very young age to someday take over for him. That's why I was in Jump City when you guys caught up with me."
She felt his hand on her shoulder.
"Rose, you're not that person anymore. You don't have to be anyone's successor. You can make your own life."
For one fleeting moment, she had the sudden urge to turn around and kiss him. It was so touching...
If not for the nearby boxes suddenly exploding.
The Sladebots landed from their surprise attack, their claws glimmering in the moonlight. Rose slowly got up from the floor and unsheathed her two swords.
"Are you going to be OK?" Robin asked, his bo stick extended to its maximum length. "Remember, The Master told me that rage is an emotion that-"
"I don't freakin' care." Rose brought her swords forward, her anger rising. "I'm mad, and I'm not going to take it lying down."
Robin smiled. "You wanna make this a contest?" He brought back one of his Birdarangs, ready to throw it.
"It won't be a contest..."
Rose smirked at the nearest Sladebot, her opponent unaware of the pain that was going to follow.
"It's going to be a slaughter."