Teen Titans: Dangerous Waters
Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans.
A/N: A new story, and depending on how it goes, the start of a new trilogy. This is my first attempt at a Teen Titans story, but it has been in the works for some time now admittedly. I look forward to developing this further, and hopefully garner a positive response from readers along the way. The main pairings are BBRae and RobStar, but others may show up as the trilogy progresses. The main plot for the planned trilogy is completed, but other details are still in the works. Now, without further adieu, let's begin!
Chapter 1: Civic Duty
As she walked the familiar outer expanse of her mindscape, Raven couldn't help the uneasy, heavy feeling gnawing at her brain and sinking her heart.
She wasn't exactly sure why this was happening now. It wasn't like she hadn't blown up at Beast Boy before. It had almost been like a routine for them over the last few years. He annoys her, she snaps, he slumps away, she centers herself through meditation, and things go back to normal. This time, though, this time felt strangely and unsettlingly... different.
The demoness had elected to seek out her intellectual emoticlone for answers, hence her present location. She never could've anticipated what, or who, was waiting for her inside her Knowledge's domain. After Raven stepped through the archway that made up the portal into her mindscape's library, the familiar home of her Knowledge, what greeted her on the other side was a sight that instantly chilled her to her core.
He sat by himself on the leather chair in front of the fireplace, flanked by the tall rows of archived books on both sides. He didn't appear to acknowledge her presence, at least not at first, but the sorceress found at that moment she was understandably far more concerned, confused, and unnerved at his presence instead.
His white-sleeved arm and black-gloved hand held aloft a book he had apparently been reading while awaiting her arrival. He spoke the next row of dialogue on the open pages aloud, knowing full well she was listening.
"'Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door.' Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore.'"
The moment he finished reading aloud, he snapped the book shut and lowered it down. He turned his head and shifted his gaze over his shoulder, straight at her. Though his faceless mask obscured what lay behind it perfectly, Raven could feel his cold stare going right through her. She stifled a shudder as another chill ran down her spine. "There's something to be said for contemporary poetry, but the classics can never truly be surpassed. Wouldn't you agree, Miss Roth?"
"Who are you? How did you get in here?" she demanded once she trusted her voice enough to formulate a response.
She didn't know him, she had never seen him before in her life, and that made his presence in her mind all the more unsettling. She briefly considered the possibility that one of her emoticlones was playing some kind of prank on her, but that seemed even more far-fetched. If someone truly could find their way into her mindscape from the physical world without her even knowing it, they would have to possess a tremendous amount of power.
He stood, coming around to face her. It was only then that Raven got her first good look at him. The intruder was concealed from head to toe, making it impossible to distinguish anything about him beyond his sense of fashion just by appearances alone. Atop his head was a pitch black tricorne hat, the rim of which was fitted with a band layered in what appeared to be some combination of scanning and sensory equipment. The white mask that covered his head below the hat shrouded his facial features perfectly. Only small indentations for the eyes and nose were present. A long white duster coat enshrouded his tall form, almost reminding the empath of her cloak in a way. It was a set of matching dress shirt and pants that lay behind it, and a pair of tall, knee-high black boots were on his feet. A pair of black gloves covered his hands, and a matching utility belt lined with small silver boxes and what appeared to be a holstered pistol on his right hip. Finally, a ball-tipped black cane rested comfortably in his grip, decorated intricately with silver inlays.
"Who am I? Consider me a casual observer, one who has been watching your team with keen interest for some time now," his voice was calm, collected, and as-a-matter-of-fact in tone. His confidence only unnerved Raven further. "As for how I came to be here, that's quite simply really: I let myself in."
"Impossible," the half-demon countered, "My mirror was untouched in my room, right where I left it."
"Yes, I am aware of how your animorph and cybernetic teammates once stumbled their way into this realm entirely by chance. I, however, am not bound by such limitations. Know that I am here because I will it. It is no more and no less than that."
"Fine," Raven almost seethed, indignation starting to override her fear, "Why are you here, and where are my...?" she caught herself, hesitating in regards to how much to reveal. It was for naught.
"The manifestations of your emotions," the intruder finished for her. Her eyes went wide in response. Just how much did this guy know about her? What did he know about the rest of the team? "Truthfully, I have been wondering that myself. It would seem either they are as of yet unaware of my presence, or they are aware and have chosen to conceal themselves for whatever reason. Regardless, I did not come here for them, I am here for you, Miss Roth."
"I just asked you why you are here, and I am in no mood to do so again," the empath narrowed her eyes, staring the intruder down. She could sense his smug mirth, and it only served to upset her further. She couldn't tell whether his cordiality was genuine or an act, but she really didn't care either way.
"Yes, you did, didn't you? Fair enough," he conceded, "Answer a question for me, if you would: how long do you believe you can maintain your deception of your green teammate?"
"Excuse me?" Raven was incredulous, and becoming more and more indignant by the second. First this stranger breaks into her mindscape without her knowledge or permission, then he talks down to her face, and now he's asking for personal information about her and a teammate? What the absolute hell was with the nerve of this guy?
"Like you, I don't like to repeat myself," he warned, his tone shifting to one of seriousness.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she retorted, "I am not 'deceiving' Beast Boy. He pissed me off and I let him know it, same as always."
"Young Mr. Logan merely asked if you wanted to join him for pizza," the intruder stated simply. Raven chose to ignore the fact that he seemed to know all of their surnames, for now.
"And when I politely told him 'no,' he kept pestering me about it. Wait, why am I telling you this? I don't need to tell you anything," Raven glared at him, reminding herself this guy was still an unwelcome presence in what was supposed to be her private space.
"Do you recall what transpired the last time you denied your emotions? I certainly do," he recalled, the implication unnerving her once again.
"Get. Out," she told him, her eyes narrowing further. "Now!"
A moment of silence and stillness passed, one too long for Raven's liking.
"Very well, I can tell that you won't give me a straight answer. It makes little difference," and with that he turned to leave, walking past her toward the way she had come. She followed him with her gaze, wanting to be certain the moment he was gone. "We'll meet again, Miss Roth, soon enough."
"Okay, so you're sure that's what happened?" Robin inquired further with the tower's resident empath.
"Yes, my memory hasn't changed in the last two minutes," Raven drolled in response, trying to resist the urge to roll her eyes.
It was only about half past eight o'clock in the morning, and the team leader had been grilling the half-demon regarding the unwelcome visitor to her mindscape for the last forty five minutes. Starfire had arrived about fifteen minutes into the pseudo-inquiry, and the three of them had been sitting on the sofa in the common room, Robin a fair distance away to the left and Raven on the right with the Tamaranean sitting in close proximity beside her, concern and worry clear in the latter's emerald green eyes. Raven had told the pair everything, excluding the intruder's inquiry about her relationship with Beast Boy. That particular detail, she had quickly decided, was best kept to herself, for a number of reasons.
"Sorry, I'm just trying to make sure I have a clear picture of what happened," the Boy Wonder amended, sighing as he did so.
"I know you are," the empath acknowledged, her gaze downcast. The alien girl placed a hand on her shoulder reassuringly. It was then that Cyborg walked in.
"I checked the security mainframe and ran a manual diagnostic on the system, twice. Nobody was in the tower last night aside from us, and nobody else was on the island, either" the half-man, half-machine confirmed grimly. The implications resonated with the rest of those present immediately.
"So, we have confirmation that this guy wasn't in close proximity when he infiltrated Raven's mind," Robin laced his fingers together in thought as he contemplated further.
"With Trigon gone, there shouldn't be anyone left who can access my mindscape without my mirror. Whoever this person is, he possesses a tremendous level of magical power," Raven deadpanned, "Dark magical power," she emphasized, clearly still unnerved at the whole experience.
"As pressing as this matter is, we'll have to deal with it at another time. Our meeting at the mayor's office begins at eleven thirty," Robin reminded everyone present.
"Hey dudes, what'd I miss?"
The voice of the resident green, pointy-eared changeling was unmistakable. His voice was groggy as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, his dark green hair an unkempt mess of bedhead. He was clad in a loose long-sleeved sleepwear, comprised of a plain white shirt and orange pants. It was quite evident that he'd just left his bed, the last of the team to awaken as per usual.
Raven couldn't look at him, not right now, when a vortex of conflicting emotions was already surging within her. Unbeknownst to her, her refusal to acknowledge him along with the others caused a noticeable frown to form on his face, the memory of her outburst at him the previous evening fresh in his mind.
Over the last few years, Jump City had become best known for the familiar T-shaped tower that stood on an island near the center of the bay around which the city had been built. However, there was still something to be said for some of the structures within the city proper, including City Hall itself. It stood out in the old section of downtown, its prominent neo-classical architecture hard to miss. White marble columns and steps adorned the front entrance, and a large dome of the same substance towered over the rooftop. The outside walls of the building were made of bricks, and the wooden window frames were painted to match the marble steps and adornments. Excluding the dome, the building was three stories tall, a rather modest size compared to the towering modern high rises elsewhere downtown that dominated the city's skyline, including one currently in the later stages of construction.
It was within the largest office of the older building that Anwar Zaman had set about his work for the day when the phone on his desk rang to life. He wasted no time answering, glancing at a file folder that sat atop a stack of papers on the right side of his desk as he did so.
"Mr. Mayor, your eleven thirty appointment is here," a female voice chimed in through the speaker.
"Very good, thank you Mrs. Davis. Send them in."
"Will do, sir."
The recently-elected mayor of Jump City had a lot on his plate, especially considering the fact that the previous administration had been ousted abruptly admid a well-documented corruption scandal. Still, the son of first generation Arab-American immigrants was no stranger to hard work, and he knew full well what he signed up for. That said, he hoped this imminent meeting would lift some of the weight off.
And then, the wooden double doors to his office opened, and the iconic heroes that put his city on the map nationwide stood before him. He promptly stood to greet them, walking around his desk to approach them.
"Ah, the Teen Titans. Thank you for coming on such short notice," as he finished, Anwar extended his hand to the team's leader, who accepted it in a handshake after a brief pause.
"Your summons wasn't entirely unexpected," Robin stated simply, "We were invited to meet the last incoming administration here at City Hall."
"Yes, well, truthfully I wish this were just a matter of cordial introductions."
"Say what now?" Cyborg arched the brow over his remaining organic eye. To his left, Starfire looked puzzled, while to his right Beast boy looked around the room, clearly distracted. Raven merely folded her arms over her chest from where she stood beside the green animorph, her usual deadpan stare on display beneath her hood.
Robin remained silent as well, waiting for the mayor to continue. Zaman elaborated as he turned to walk back around his desk, his eyes never leaving the young superheroes.
"Titans, as you may know the fifty-sixth annual charity ball for Jump City is set to take place next week. In lieu of myself this year I would greatly appreciate it if the five of you could attend in my stead," the mayor returned to his chair as he spoke, carefully gauging their reaction. The predicted expressions of puzzlement didn't last long.
"No offense, Mr. Mayor," Robin began, skeptical, "but happy as we are to do things for the good of the city, I feel this may be out of my team's purview. We're not politicians or celebrities."
"Politicians, no. But celebrities? You can't can't honestly expect me to believe you and your team are unaware of your stardom. The five of you have made pretty strong names for yourselves over the last few years," Zaman countered.
"He does have a point there," Beast Boy chimed in with a grin, having refocused on the discussion at hand. Raven merely rolled her eyes.
"Fine, point taken, but this will be your first charity ball while in office as mayor," Robin offered his own counter point, undeterred, "Wouldn't it be better for you to go as you're supposed to?"
The question wasn't intended to seem like an insinuation, but now it was Zaman's turn to arch a brow.
"Robin..." Starfire moved to interject, but was cut off.
"No, no, it's a perfectly valid question," the mayor sighed as he conceded, "Very well, I can see your mentor taught you well, Robin. Honestly, I was hoping it wouldn't come to this..." Zaman shifted his gaze to the folder as he finished, and the team's leader followed it.
"Come to what, exactly?" Now it was Raven's turn to inquire. The mayor reached for the folder and moved it to the center of his desk, shifting it around so it stood right side up for the young crime fighters. He opened it slowly as he answered.
"I'll be honest with you, Titans: two days ago, the city council voted not to renew funding for you or your tower."
The silence and unease that followed this revelation was palpable, to say the least. Zaman leaned back in his chair, giving the five youths time to absorb the unwelcome news as they all stepped closer to look at the offending piece of bureaucratic parchment for themselves. Zaman's expression betrayed a sense of regret, and it became clear he didn't want to have to tell them. Still, Robin felt an explanation was due, and found he regained his voice first.
"So let me get this straight: you're telling me that after all we've done for this city and all the people living here over the years we've been here, this is how we're rewarded?!" he wasn't outright yelling, but his tone had become noticeably sharper and louder, tinged with indignance and sheer, frustrated outrage.
"Please, Robin, I know the people of Jump City continue to feel awed and inspired by you and your team, and have no shortage of gratitude" the mayor tried reasoning, "A slim majority on the city council simply believe that with the worst of the villains you've faced out of the picture, our police department is sufficient to handle more common and rudimentary crime, and the costs of funding your operations in the city year after year can no longer be justified."
"How slim of a majority are we talking here?" Cyborg inquired, frustration in his own voice.
"One vote," Zaman confessed, "Myself and Deputy Mayor Keehan both voted in your favor. The three commissioners are the ones who voted against, and just so we're clear you can't reach out to any of them on this yourselves," he added a bit more resolutely.
"Wait, what does this have to do with the sphere for charity?" Starfire asked, not quite seeing where the dots connected.
"Yeah, that was my next question as well, sort of," Raven added.
"Take another look at the bottom of the page, Titans," the mayor gestured to the paper still on display in the open folder.
The Titans all at once refocused on the parchment in question. This time, it was Beast Boy who spoke up.
"The line where people's names go is blank."
"Not quite how I would put it, but yes," Zaman quickly affirmed, "I have not signed the resolution as of this moment, but unless something changes, I will have to by Monday, next week."
"What 'something?'" Robin immediately arched his brow, skeptical.
The mayor took a moment to carefully gauge the five superheroes before continuing. He spoke clearly and concisely.
"I believe I can persuade the commissioners to change their minds, but I need time and a reason to do so, something that can convince them.
Your attendance at the ball, placing yourselves in a setting entirely for the benefit of the city on your own time, is precisely what we need for this to happen."
Another moment of silence passed as Robin glanced at each of his teammates one at a time, all of them sharing nods after a few seconds.
"Where is this year's charity ball?" the Boy Wonder inquired.
"The city council and the committee in charge of planning the festivities have booked this year's event in the ballroom of a luxury ocean liner, the MS Skyward. Beautiful ship. She's setting sail from New York City in two days for a five day voyage across the Atlantic to Liverpool in Britain," Zaman elaborated further.
"We have to spend five whole days in a confined space, surrounded by thousands of strangers?" Raven asked in her typically droll and unamused voice. Predictably, she wasn't a fan of the prospect of a voyage at sea.
"You would have your own private rooms on board the ship," Zaman clarified.
"I'm no tourist," the resident half-man, half-machine chimed in, "but cabins on luxury ocean liners don't come cheap."
"That's where I come in," an unfamiliar voice announced. The Titans turned to face the new arrival. He was a caucasian male who appeared to be in his mid-to-late thirties, dressed in a navy blue business suit with a white formal shirt, black formal shoes and matching tie. His brown hair was neatly trimmed in a scholarly style, and his eyes were deep blue in color. He regarded the mayor and superhero team with a light, gentle smile as he approached. "I do apologize for the intrusion, Mayor Zaman."
"No apology needed," the mayor assured, "Titans, allow me to introduce Mr. Clyde, the proprietor of the new high rise currently being built a couple blocks from here."
"Wait, hold up," Cyborg spoke up in an incredulous tone. "Clyde as in Edward Clyde?! Fortune Magazine's Billionaire of the Year?!" The rest of his team turned wide-eyed at the apparent revelation, confirmed a moment later.
"The one and only," Edward affirmed with a nod.
"Dude..." Beast Boy was in disbelief.
"Since when do you read Fortune Magazine?" Raven asked Cyborg. The latter chuckled slightly before answering.
"I don't; I was reading an article online about the high-speed lightrail his company is building across the country and it was mentioned there."
"So," Robin eyed the rich man, "how do you fit into all this, exactly?"
"Allow me," Zaman chimed back in, "The high rise Mr. Clyde is building in our city is to become the new regional headquarters for his company, Excelsior Global Industries. As part of the upcoming grand opening, he has made quite the generous contribution to this year's charity ball. Our local soup kitchen, youth center, senior center, the hospital, and the animal shelter have all received hefty donations from his private bank account."
"Oh, glorious! What a very kind thing to do!" Starfire beamed.
"Your praise is well received, your highness," Edward bowed graciously, evidently aware of her status as royalty. "However, this isn't about me. The five of you are the reason I'm here today," he gestured to the superhero team, "I've reserved a pair of executive suites aboard the Skyward for you all, complete with private staff from among the ship's crew. I have your tickets and boarding passes right here, in fact," he reached into his coat and promptly produced said items, and handed them to Robin who accepted them after a moment. "One of my private jets will fly the five of you out to New York, and I've also arranged transportation from the airport directly to the ship. Really, all you need do is just show up and participate in the festivities."
"Do this, and the commissioners will have to see the continued merits for hosting superheroes of your status," the mayor added. "The Deputy Mayor be hosting the event this year, and I'll provide you with his contact information should you have any questions once on board."
After another moment of silence, Robin finally spoke up again.
"I still have some issues with all this..." he turned to his teammates, "What do you guys think?"
"I say we do the going for it!" Starfire answered immediately.
"A free vacation? Dude, what is there to even think about?!" Beast Boy agreed just as quickly.
"I get where you're coming from, Robin," Cyborg empathized, "but we don't seem to have much of an option, and who knows? It could be fun!"
"Well... If it's what we have to do, then I accept," Raven stated with finality. Through the jubilance she sensed from three of her four other teammates, a faint sense of foreboding began to manifest within her.
A/N: So that's Chapter 1. Preliminary work on Chapter 2 has begun, though my Star Wars Rebels series will be updated first. Please feel free top share your thoughts with me, as I value your feedback. Thank you for reading, and as always a special thanks to my beta reader, WikkedGrin, for his work in helping me finalize every chapter.
Until next time, everyone!