*****author comments at the bottom*****

******Scene start

Greg was glad his shift was almost over. His eyes felt dry and coated in grit, and he was practically dragging his feet. He only hoped rotating that shoulder joint would loosen the knot. 'Man, guard duty is seriously boring work...' his voice echoed internally. He yawned and mozied through the last round of checks, fully expecting absolutely nothing just like every check before it tonight.

Slowly his mind drifted. The sheets would be as cool and refreshing as in his memory. Until he snuggled into 'her' that is. Even now the warmth of her scent filled his nostrils. Smooth silky skin, not quite burning warm. Sue always pulled away at the first touch, but she adjusts quickly and curls into his spooned form like a sleepy kitten with a fuzzy blanket. He could even feel her hair tickling his face now.

Surprise was total. Utter silence one moment, small scale Armageddon the next! The corrugated sheet metal bent inwards for a split second before exploding outwards in a hailstorm of blinding light and melted shrapnel. The entire corner of the storage building had vanished in a white hot jet that lasted more than a second.

Sleep vanished from his mind and he found himself already with his back to the nearest trash bin. 'What the hell was that!' he shouted in his own mind. Keeping his outward cool and professional demeanor he drew his sidearm holding it in both hands as his vision cleared. His time in the army, though short, had made proper grip instinct.

Peeking around the side of his make shift cover, he took a momentary glance. Pulling back, Greg to review what he saw in his minds eye. Nothing seemed to be moving, but this quick after the explosion that meant little.

He reached up with a steady hand and depressed the button on the mouthpiece attached to the shoulder of his uniform. "Foxtrot to Alpha! Foxtrot to Alpha! We have an explosion in my quarter, past third checkpoint. Send in Echo and Gamma. I'm moving in to take a closer look."

Static crackled and a stunned voice emitted from the speaker. "Dammit Greg, what the hell could anyone want out there? That sector is mostly empty!"

Greg's eyes widened and he froze, slapping his hand back up he whispered harshly "I don't know dammit, but shut the hell up! I don't wanna get shot because you gave me away, OUT!" His hand shot down to his hip and turned the knob all the way back.

Silence reigned, only interrupted by the crackling of burning debris and settling of wreckage. At least he hoped it was wreckage settling. He darted he head back around the corner for a second. When he was sure there was nothing there, he moved out, slinking from cover to cover.

Having covered the entire circumference of the storage building he found no signs of forced entry, and the building had quite obviously blown from the inside.

He sighed to himself, lowered his weapon, then turning the volume back up he spoke into his mic again, "Hey Tony, I checked it out and it doesn't look like anyone broke in. Something on the inside blew the wall out..." trained eyes darted lazily over the wreckage. "What the hell was in this place?"

He rounded a corner and pain blossomed in his chest, followed by a suckling gurgle sound. As the static muffled answer came through he could only look down in horror to see the massive bone needle in his chest.

Shock seized his mind, he never heard the answer. His eyes traced back along the purple green mottled tube, ending in a horrific beetle like monster on the ground. He had basically walked into the damned thing. Tears blurred his vision.

Slitted demonic eyes bore into him. There was almost a recognizable smirk of satisfaction on its face. A raspy hiss of a voice permeated his ears "Don't cry, you're going to become part of my... perfection!"

Through the sharp burn and terror, perfection WAS on his mind... Who would tell Sue?

******Scene change, Raven POV

"Dude, you are so gonna eat my dust!" Exclaimed the green teen.

Cyborg 's reply was quick and hot "No way man, this one is mine!"

Bleeps and static poured out of the surround sound system as the two boys struggled with their controllers.

Her ears felt like they were going to bleed with the whining, Raven's eyebrow twitched. She took a deep breath and continued to chant under her breath, trying to shut out the incessant noise. 'azarath, metrion, zinthos'

A synthetic crunch echoed through the room. "Hey that's not fair Cy!" Beastboy's voice racked.

Again the reply was right on its heels "Thems the rules BeastBoy" the larger teen's pitch changed slightly for emphasis, "namely there are none!"

'Azarath Metrion Zinthos' she firmly repeated

A rev was heard and a cry of dismay from the larger of the gamers.

"Hah! Take that." shouted BeastBoy

Cyborg was having none of that, "Oh you're in for it now!"

Another screech and then muffled thumps preceded a shrill mechanical groan in the game.

"Dude, stop it. That's not cool man!" came the complaint.

The shrill voice had broken her concentration like nails on chalkboard. With a furrowed brow Raven opened a single eye and her monotone voice was nearly drowned out "Do you have to be so loud."

Both boys had heard her anyways. Turning with annoyed expressions of their own, they had barely opened their mouths to answer when the screen flickered and blinked to a street grid-view. Red whirling lights popped from the walls and a siren screeched, its tone rising and falling.

Her stomach dropped instantly, and so did she. Luckily she was over the couch. Quickly unfolding her feet she stood as if it was intentional.

Robin swooped in from the kitchen, beating her to console and rapidly typed away. His animated gravely voice quick to explain what had set it off. "We've got an explosion at one of the warehouses on the north side. Titans, Assemble!"

An orange skinned girl floated in swiftly to land behind the Boy Wonder. "Is it the Hive again!"

"Don't know yet, but be on your guard. Two groups, let's move!" Robin replied stiffly.

An eye brow fluttered, Raven quickly suppressed the irritation, she could meditate after. She turned and walked determinedly to the roof access. Silently noting which routes the others took. Starfire followed on her heels, already asking insipid questions. Both Robin and Cyborg headed for the lift, to the garage most likely. Surprisingly BeastBoy was at Cyborgs side "There is no way I am flapping or running that entire distance!" he stated leaving no room for argument.

The only response being a nod from the chrome teen.

*****scene break

It wasn't the largest disaster she had ever seen, but whatever caused this scene had been... energetic. The corrugated aluminum was bowed outward near the edges. It hadn't even had time to melt or tear. Instead the jagged edges were blackened. Bright splashes of silver mixed with bubbled black were scattered across the alley and walls of the other storage units. Pieces of the structure had fallen in. The roof was gone for the most part, and pieces of debris were burning in tiny places everywhere.

A quiet sense unease filled her chest as she and Starfire descended from the twilight sky side by side. Her companions eyes wide in astonishment. For once, Koriand'r was silent.

Softly touching down the dark haired girl took in the scene slowly, searching for any clues to the cause, or movement that might indicate something alive was nearby.

"Friend Raven, I have rarely seen heat to cause this burning metal." Starfire noted.

Well, that didn't last long, "What do you mean Starfire?" she queried flatly.

"The metal has become ash"

Raven decided she didn't have the knowledge to answer that question. "Let's... leave that to Robin for now. Look around for anyone. Who knows if people were nearby when this blew"

The two of them spread out in search of anyone that might be injured. There wasn't much chance anyone was here when it happened, but these places usually had at least minimal security. She was surprised there wasn't at least one guard present.

"Hey, you!" shouted a voice, cutting through the gloom. A light burned in her vision. Squinting tightly, she raised a hand to shield her sensitive eyes. "Do you mind? I'm here to help." she drawled in the usual flat tone.

The flashlight was lowered so it was no longer hurting her eyes. "Sorry... You're one of those Titan kids right?"

Lowering her hand Raven got a good look at the speaker. The guy couldn't be far out of high school himself. With a smooth face that looked like he didn't even need to shave, buzz cut blond hair and brown eyes that were wide open. Guy looked kinda skittish.

"Yeah, you're not exactly a grandpa yourself... Was there anyone here?" she droned

"Well yeah, Greg called this..." He was interrupted by terrified screech.

Startled, Raven's head whipped about "Common!" she ordered with a bit more energy. That was Starfire. It could be nothing, but then again...

Raven came sliding around a stack of crates and saw Star, hands stuffed over her mouth and her eyes beginning to brim. The Tamaranean was looking at a pile of clothing on the ground.

Ravens eyes narrowed, but she cautiously approached. A light shown on the pile, revealing it to be a guards uniform; complete with badge, belt, and shoes. A pistol lay on the ground to the side. The position was as if someone could still be wearing them, except they were empty.

The center of the shirt was bloody, but the body was just gone. Bile rose in the back of her throat.

A shocked voice whispered beside her "Oh Greg..." She had nearly forgotten about the guard.

Raven held a hand to her stomach and softly approached the orange skinned princess. "Star" no response "Star!" still nothing. The alien's eyes remained fixed on the pile, eyes filled with horror and sorrow.

"STARFIRE!" Raven all but shouted.

Her teammate started and snapped her eyes up to Raven's own. Taking a shuddering breath Starfire spoke "I am truly sorry Friend Raven. The sight reminds me of a... nightmare."

Raven nodded slightly "It's okay" she continued gulping down the bile in her own throat. "Lets... see if we can find anyone, okay?"

Starfire Blinked once hard, clearing the tears from her eyes and nodded fiercely. Both girls continued, this time side by side. Leaving the other guard on his knees before the pile of clothes in shock.

The familiar rumble of the T-car and whine of Robins bike met their ears. With a beep from their communicators they heard Robins voice. "Starfire, Raven, report"

Raven responded as Star was still too spooked. "Looks like some sort of high temperature explosion came from the inside of the building but..." here her voice quavered only slightly "We think something else was here. There was a guard, but... maybe you had better look. We left another security guard at the location..."

There was a slight pause, Raven could almost envision his frown. "Okay, head to the epicenter and I'll meet you there. Cyborg is on his way to the guard." Raven frowned slightly as she glanced over to the Tamaranean. With a slight tilt of her head she indicated the general direction and both Titans moved in the indicated direction.

What awaited them was a roofless dirt crater, surrounded by the shattered remains of shipping crates. They heard a strained cough as they rounded the last crates. Rushing in, the cowled girl took only momentary notice of the surrounds, enough to note no enemies seemed to be lying in wait. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the two battered forms lying unconscious in the crater.

The larger of the two was a short man with the largest widows peak she had ever witnessed. His black hair stood almost straight up. His torso was covered in cracked and scuffed armor that looked like some sort of plaster or plastic, boots of a similar substance on his feet.. And the tights he wore as pants had seen better days, thinning in places and coated with a little dust. The entire form was covered in raw scrapes and scratches.

The second form was smaller, but only in stature. She couldn't see its face but its black hair stuck out at unnatural angles. It was bare chested and shredded baggy pants covered the legs. A pair of pointed leather shoes on its feet. Although both individuals were well muscled, this one was far more obvious due to its bared skin. Every muscle seemed to bulge even while at rest. His chest featured massive pecs and there wasn't a flat surface to be seen on his stomach. He was also rather beaten up. One shoulder looked dislocated, and a massive bruise was forming there. There was barely more than a few square inches of skin in any place that wasn't cut or split.

The smaller form shuddered as it breathed. He was obviously having trouble getting a full breath.

"Oh no! We must get help!" yelped the Alien by her side.

"Call Robin!" Raven replied quickly and slid to her knees next to the boy. She could now see his face.

Ravens heart leapt into her throat. This was not going to be fun. The boys face was in tears even in his sleep. The eyes scrunched shut, and mouth quivering.

Steeling herself the em-path reached both hands out as a subtle glow began to emanate from them. She drew in the feelings of the young boy and was unprepared for the intensity of his emotional onslaught.

The bottom dropped out of her stomach, the right side of her chest ached with each beat of her heart. Her tongue curled at the bitter sensation in her heart, and the edges of her vision began to blur. Her cheeks felt cool and damp as a warm sensation rose up her neck. Her solar plexus was nothing but an empty void...

She nearly choked on the moisture in the back of her throat. The normally straight faced teen swallowed as she blinked hard, trying to clear her eyes. Only to make her lashes stick together.

Slowly she heard the breath become steadier. Releasing a breath she hadn't realized she was holding she began to repeat her trademark mantra. "Azarath, Metrion... Zinthos... Azarath, Metrion... Zinthos..." Slowly and steadily she repeated it. Her eyes still filled with unshed tears as she drew the emotions and pain of her subject within herself. Allowing his own healing to accelerate. The physical pain was a burning over every portion of her body and even throughout it, But that was nothing compared to his emotional turmoil.

It was a sense of duty, terrible purpose, and pride mixed with sorrow and loss.

Whatever he had been though, she couldn't imagine. But she drew on until his breathing wasn't as shallow and was now steady.

With barely a pause she moved to her toes only long enough to rotate around to the armored man. She took a deep breath and began her chant before starting on this one. "Azarath, Metrion... Zinthos... Azarath, Metrion... Zinthos..." Over and over she repeated this. The glow increasing more before she brought her hand down to this one. The burning sensation throughout her body was the same as the boy's if not as severe. The emotional turmoil was just as violent.

The sour sensation surrounding her heart was punctuated by a stab of emotional fire. With another deep breath she continued to mutter the mantra under her breath until she felt that he had stabilized as well.

Images tainted her momentary connection with the two. The boy was fixated on on a large man with a flaming golden aura, the eyes glowed a fierce turquoise. Even so, the face was graced with a gentle smile. She couldn't quite make out was was said.

As for the older one, he was fixated on the image a hole punched through an armored chest, the owner also having those same eyes and hair...

Her cheeks were wet, she couldn't breath through her nose anymore. Even her upper lip seemed wet... Although she had severed the connections, that sour heart sensation and the void in her solar plexus remained, even if subdued.

"Raven... Raven!... RAVEN!" she started and looked up through blurry eyes.

"Wh what?" she had tried to reply with her usually monotone but failed completely, her voice nearly cracking. She squeezed her eyes and wiped them on part of her cloak draped over an arm. With a slight sniffle to clear her nose. She schooled her face as best she could and raised her expressionless face to meet the concerned mask of Robin.

With a deep breath she commented. "I need a moment. That was... unexpected" Standing slowly she walked off in a random direction a few paces, closed her eyes, and folded her legs under her, floating mid air to meditate.

"Sure thing" came the gruff reply.

Within her mind she slowly found her center. Balance was established. From there she drew everything back to her center, and began to pack it down. Locking in the emotions which had been released by her empathic healing contact. Whatever they had been through, it was intense. She had to get control of her emotions, before she caused the next explosion herself. When the pit of her stomach finally felt like there wasn't a hole there anymore she lowered her feet to the ground, opened her blank eyes, and turned to regard her companions.

BeastBoy was watching her with almost obsessive worry. His eyes huge and shiny, hands clasping each other and feet threatening to shuffle. Robin was watching the perimeter, although she could tell he watched her also from the corner of his eyes. Starfire looked to be nearly in tears herself, the terror from earlier was forgotten. Instead she appeared severely worried for the only other female Titan.

Resignation cooled her ears. Before anyone could so much as utter a syllable she raised one hand, palm out and simply shook her head "It's... a side effect, okay?" Thankfully her voice was completely monotone.

"Alright, so what do we know?" Asked the gravelly Boy Wonder

"Aside from that fact these two were in some sort of major fight before appearing in a big bang?" she said morosely "Not much... These two suffered some sort of loss in the fight... and I don't mean the fight itself. We also need to get them some proper medical treatment."

"Fine, but I don't want either of them out of our sight. Get them back to the Tower infirmary." He ordered firmly. Robin was obviously trying to maintain a sense of normalcy despite what he had witnessed in his teammate. "Star, go with her in case they wake up. They look like they could be tough customers even if they are injured. BeastBoy, Cyborg and myself will stay behind a bit to comb the area again. Obviously someone or something else showed up here two. And I think they know something, so don't let them go anywhere if they wake up."

Relief washed over her only to tense up again as she realized she would have to stay near the source of her instability again. Starfire would have to watch them while she meditated when they got back.

She stepped up to them and Starfire edged closer as well.

With a swirl of her cloak, ebony energy emerged from her core as a rough avian shape before consuming the stoic hero's body. Swelling into a dome, it encompassed the girls and their injured charges. Then shrank to a miniscule point, disappearing altogether before a shadow shot skyward.

******Scene change Robin POV

There was only the distant murmur of his chromed teammate and a guard in the distance. Not even the wind blew, as if afraid to draw attention. The crater was hard packed earth, seared into a hardened crust by the flash heat of an explosion. At the lip of the crater the layer of concrete looked like another discolored layer of earth until one witnessed the surface. The smooth concrete surface marred by debris and scorch marks.

A nagging feeling of something missed agitated the teens concentration. Robin narrowed his eyes and swept them over the area both in detail, and out of focus. There had to be some clue.

A green basset hound snuffled about the area, its large cheeks dragging along. It froze, the shape shifted boy had caught something. The pooch wobbled before morphing like clay-do back into a green teen.

"Dude, over here" Beastboy's voice was abnormally serious.

"What it is Beastboy?" he voice lifted at the end indicating his curiosity.

"I caught the scent of those two guys easily enough, but there is a third one here. Kinda cooked if you know what I mean." Beastboy chuckled before his expression became thoughtful again "Even aside from that it's still... weird. There's a pile of ash here."

Robin stepped to BB's side and absorbed the clues in front of him. Sure enough there was a loose gathering of ash here.

Kneeling down, Robin poked through the ash and found a few harder pieces. He withdraw sample baggies and collected a bit of ash and the larger pieces before tucking them into a belt compartment. Robin stood and started following a trail of ash drag marks taking small steps and keeping to the side, so as to not disturb the trail.

Eventually he came upon Cyborg and a distraught guard.

The young man was chocking back his emotions trying to keep a professional demeanor as he explained the sequence of events as he remembered them yet again to Cyborg.

Cyborg nodded at Robin tapping a finger against the camera in his hand. Understanding the child detective circumvented that event and continued to follow the now fainter skid marks. He could now make out two sets of three digit prints with a tail, a single creature if he read the signs correctly. At the edge of the property they found the fence torn apart at three feet from the ground and the dirt immediately outside was freshly turned.

His scalped cooled as if ice water had been dumped over him. His heart thudded louder in his ears. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Beastboy's expression, eyebrows narrowed with a deep frown and his fangs were pronounced. Beastboy reached for his communicator, "Cy, I think we need you here man." his voice very low and level.

Robin raised an eyebrow, The green teen was usually the loud and obnoxious one, comparing everything to some horror movie. Something had disturbed him far more than normal.

"On the way buddy." came the curt reply.

Obviously Cyborg had picked up on their friends mood as well. Both heroes waiting in silence for their teammate to join them. "You alright Beastboy?" Robin queried while they waited.

"No, I can become any animal I can imagine, and I can't imagine what could have done... that"

The image of empty clothes with a small amount of blood on the breast of the button shirt flashed in his mind. The raven haired boy raised an eyebrow. After everything they had dealt with together, that's what upset him?

The heavy footsteps and flashlight of their friend interrupted his thoughts."What did you guys find?"

Robin's voice sounded low in his own ears "Whatever got that guard crawled out this way." and he pointed towards the freshly turned dirt.

The pile was quickly illuminated by the machine mans spot light. The shifting of armor plates and hum of high powered weaponry filled their ears

"Beastboy" Robin's voice was flat but his intent was obvious.

"You can't be serious Rob. You want me to go digging after some freaky inter-dimensional monster? Did you see that pile back there! I'd like for more that my uniform to get buried when I go man!" Ahh, there was comic geek friend he was missing.

"Don't worry B, we got your back!" encouraged their sonic artillery support.

The shape shifter grumbled but shuffled towards the dirt and condensed into some armored rodent, then in a flurry of dirt quickly vanished.

Minutes passed with only the muffled sound of paws digging.

Eventually the changeling emerged and reverted to his human form, holding something is his hand. As he approached he held it out. A green and purple mottled piece of what looked to be a piece some sort of shell. Its edges, though warped, were jagged. As if it had been broken off. "Whatever that thing is, it's the same as what crawled out of the building."

This didn't look good...

So I'm kinda siked really. This is my first attempt at putting something I have written out where people can read. The response has been very encouraging. One PM actually brought up what they though was a missed plot ploy, I calmly informed them it wasn't missed. The story will just proceed at a slower pace than "get it all in five chapters!"

For anyone who is wondering. I have a neat little idea tree mapped out for the chapoters and concepts. I'm aiming for 30 chapters of 3k+ words per chapter. I actually would have had this particular chapter out earlier, but my boss shipped me out of state for a big convention over the last week. Needless to say I haven't had a day off since the 11th.

273 views, 223 Visitors, 8 follows, 4 favorites, 3 reviews as of this posting

I am looking for beta readers so if your interested in doing full detail beta reading; that means grammar, punctuation, story flow, plot points, and even suggestions; then please go ahead and contact me so we can setup a DOCX connection. I'd like to get responses for what I send within a week. As of right now, I mostly do all of the proof reading myself.

Hopefully I'll have something either every week or every other week. If I don't please feel free to bug me until I post... No really, bug the hell out of me if its been over a week.

Oh and please review!

If its anon, I'll approve the review provided there is no profanity or inappropriate behavior. This means if you are critical of my story I will still approve it.