Author's Notes: Hello and welcome! This was my first FanFic ever back in 2016 on FFnet, and I am excited to share it and get feedback, but I would like to first take the time to establish a few things about my Teen Titan stories. First, some business. As far as the cannon I am using goes, I will be relying on the TV series from 2003-2006. Any contradictions presented in the original DC comics or TTG comics will be ignored.
Second, I think I should establish a timeline of events to place our heroes within the context of my writing. Really, there never was a set time or age for them within the TV series, although we do know that 4th of July occurred somewhere in it all. Now, as to time, I place Starfire's arrival on earth sometime in May prior to this. For all of this to work, I make the assumption that the events of seasons 1-5 occur within a span of less than a year, which seems like a lot, but hey, they're heroes and crime does not take a break. Now, Raven's birthday has to occur before the new year and "Hide and Seek" sometime in the early part of the new year for her statement of "last year for my birthday" to work. So, I'm saying that the events that occur here in this first episode are in mid-February. Now as to ages, I put Starfire at 15 prior to "Transformation" and 16 after. I give Raven a transition from 14 to 15 during "Birthmark." Robin has probably had a birthday somewhere in the course of the series, so going from 15 to 16. Cyborg and Beast Boy, I say have yet to have their birthdays this year, making them 17 and 14 respectively. Agree or disagree, that is your choice, but I'm sticking with it for the sake of the storyline.
Third, think of this story as a Season 6, if you will. Each chapter serves as a single "episode" in that season. Technically, there are 14 episodes here, instead of the usual 13 the show was known for, but I had some ideas that had to fit into a particular timeline.
One last thing. In memoriam imdifferentnotwerid. The world deserved more writers and betas like you. I am forever grateful for the short time we did work together, and I would have loved to see how wonderful this story could have been with you. You at least got me through these first couple of chapters, and inspired me to continue this work, if anything, for the sake of enjoyment.
I do not own the Teen Titans or any other affiliated material.
Episode 1: Archie
The Palace of Tamaran, 16 Years Ago:
"When can I see?" a three-year-old Blackfire asked eagerly.
She could barely sit still on top of Galfore's shoulders. She had been waiting for such a long time for this day. The palace had been abuzz since the early hours of the morning, and Blackfire had heard some of the comings and goings. Thus, she already knew the news. Only now though, had Galfore wakened her. "Easy there, my little bumgorf," Galfore chuckled. "She is not going anywhere. Perhaps we can pass the time if I tell you of my travels to-"
Without warning the massive doors before them opened. Her father, Emperor Myand'r stood in the grand entrance. While the look in his prominent green eyes was steadfast, his long, flowing red beard could not hide his wide smile. Blackfire hopped off Galfore's shoulders and stood before her father. Like most Tamaraneans, he stood tall, almost a giant in Blackfire's eyes. Almost. That description was reserved for Galfore. She remembered proper etiquette as the future ruler of Tamaran and bowed before him. For the first time, at least as far Blackfire could remember, her father did not keep his normal stoicism and swung her up off her feet. Blackfire giggled and floated out of his arms for a brief second, the unbridled joy taking over. She never saw this much affection out of her father. Of course, he loved her, but as Grand Ruler, he had to show strength and solidarity, even towards his own family. Today was special though. "Are you ready?" he asked softly.
She bobbed her head up and down eagerly. He carried her into the room, Galfore following close behind. As they entered, Blackfire saw her mother, Empress Luand'r, resting comfortably in a bed, holding a small bundle. While her father had rather squared features, her mother's were softer, something which Blackfire had inherited aside from her hair and eyes. Blackfire breathed in deeply. This almost felt unreal. Myand'r brought Blackfire up to the very edge of the bed and sat her down beside her mother. "Can I hold her?" Blackfire asked, trying to peek at the bundle.
"Only if she lets you," her mother replied gently, pulling back the cover of the little bundle.
She was incredible, Blackfire thought. In her mother's arms was her new baby sister. She had wide green eyes and one stray, red hair on her head. She was going to look more like their father rather than their mother. It was strange, Blackfire thought; she was only hours old and she was already smiling, and Blackfire could not help but smile back. It was then that the tiny baby looked directly at Blackfire. Seeing her big sister's smile, she started to giggle and flew straight to her arms. "Her first flight," Galfore breathed with awe.
"She's so small," Blackfire said, holding her sister with care. "What are you going to call her?"
"Koriand'r," her mother replied.
That was fitting, Blackfire thought. Her eyes truly shone like two stars in the night sky. The little child meanwhile had taken a tight grip of her sister's finger, her smile never leaving her face. Blackfire felt her father's hand on her shoulder. "You must remember, Komand'r," he said, now speaking to her as the Grand Ruler, "she is your younger sister. With that comes responsibility. She will look to you for protection and for the difference between right and wrong. I trust you. You are the future Grand Ruler of Tamaran. You will know the right thing to do."
Blackfire looked back down at her baby sister. "Don't worry, Koriand'r," she said, holding her close, "I will never let anything bad happen to you. I love you."
Jump City, Present Day
A sleeping Plasmus was being loaded into a prison vehicle, the sticky remnants of his latest battle with the Teen Titans covering most of Main Street. Beast Boy, in a lion form, was shaking Plasmus' essence off of his fur, slowly transforming back into a human. "Dude, why can't we fight bad guys who aren't so disgusting?" he whined.
"It can't be any more disgusting than your filthy room," Raven replied, casually brushing debris off her cloak.
"More importantly, I'd like to know how Plasmus keeps waking up and escaping," Cyborg said, changing the subject while trying to empty Plasmus' goo from his sonic cannon.
"You would think they would take special care not to wake someone so dangerous," Starfire added.
Robin was about to respond to Cyborg and Starfire's conversation when he heard an all-too-familiar sound. It was the sound of something moving fast enough to break the sound barrier. Sure enough, as he looked to the sky, he saw the trail of light following the object. These occurrences were not unusual. Starfire was not the only person from another world to visit Jump City. These instances were not always friendly, however. As he looked down, Robin saw that his friends had taken notice of the object, all with worried expressions.
"What was that?" Beast Boy asked, looking awestruck.
Robin's brow furrowed. "Potential trouble. We have to follow it."
The Titans had followed the object as far as the edge of the city but lost it near the coast. Starfire hovered down to the team, having returned from a search of the area. "I have not been able to locate any signs of this possible danger," she said, a little dejected.
Cyborg checked one of the computer readouts on his arm. "My sensors lost the object's exhaust trail here," he added.
Robin looked around furtively. "Then it has to be here. We have to split up and-"
"Wait! Look," Beast Boy shouted, pointing at the top of Titans Tower.
They all saw it: a tiny glint on the roof of the tower. But it lasted for less than a second before they saw an unusual spaceship lift off and zoom through the air, speeding through the atmosphere, as though desperate to leave Earth behind. Raven glared at it with suspicion. "Looks like it came here for a pit stop," Raven said, breaking the awed silence.
"We need to search the tower; top to bottom. Take note of everything that is missing or out of place," Robin ordered. "We have to know what it wanted with our home."
Each of the Titans had split off on their own to search the tower. Cyborg decided to listen to his instincts and made his first priority to search his own room. As the door slid open and the lights flickered on, it appeared as though nothing had been touched. However, Cyborg knew better than that. If anyone had any purpose to invade his room, there was one thing they were after. Cyborg flipped open the keyboard to his computer. Using one of his scanners, he found no fingerprints on it. That could be good or that could be bad. All that told him was that if anyone had hacked into it, they did not have fingerprints. They could be like him, having metal hands and fingers. There was only one way to find the answer. He tapped away at the keyboard, his eyes never wavering from the screen. He turned on his communicator shortly, clearly bored with the results. "Cyborg checking in," he said. "No one's tried to log on since I was last in. No files are missing or have been accessed. System looks clean."
Robin had also decided to follow his instincts, and for him, it, therefore, made sense to check the evidence room. This idea, of course, ran on the assumption that it was a returning villain who had come to the tower. However, after everything they had seen, it was clear that they were very likely dealing with someone they had never met. That did not mean that there were not plenty of dangerous items that anyone could take from this room. To his surprise though, nothing was out of place. "This is Robin," he said into his communicator. "Nothing wrong with the evidence room."
Beast Boy had been assigned to search the common room. Nothing was out of place. He was just glad that no one had touched his Gamestation. However, in his bloodhound form, he was picking up on an unusual scent. It was definitely earthy, musky even, but there were a lot of unfamiliar things about it that he could not place. Not really a surprise since whatever it was came from another planet most likely. He had also noted large indentations in the carpet. "Beast Boy here," he said as he transformed back. "I've found footprints, or hoofprints I should say."
"Hoofprints?" Cyborg inquired.
Robin asked the more important question. "Where do they lead?"
"Dude, they're everywhere. Whatever it was didn't even know where it was going," he replied, observing the confused mass of prints. "I've also got a scent. I can't really describe it, but it leads to the bedrooms. If Raven and Starfire don't find anything, we're good right?"
"Don't be so sure," Robin said.
Raven had decided to start with her own room. There were plenty of relics and unusual items that someone would be willing to steal. Or better yet, an intruder could have picked some of this stuff up, not knowing what it was and gotten into more trouble than they could imagine. Still, nothing had been moved. She had heard Beast Boy's comments but saw nothing out of the ordinary on her carpet. She was leaving her room to search Robin's when she found more evidence of someone in the tower. "Robin, it's Raven," she said. "I've got two small indentations on the hallway wall."
"How small?" Robin asked.
"I don't know…maybe six inches tall, three inches wide at the bottom and getting smaller towards the top, but only centimeters deep. I don't think this was purposeful; most likely an act of clumsiness," she replied, examining them.
"So what are they?" Beast Boy asked.
"If I knew that, I would have told you." Raven sighed with exasperation.
"Just be cautious in your search," Robin said, ending the conversation.
Starfire had just finished searching Beast Boy's room. She did not genuinely believe anyone would have purposefully gone in there, but given the conversation she had heard from the others, she was not so sure. After hearing them, she had been much quieter in her search. She had even taken to her silent hovering to have the element of surprise over whatever might be in the tower. She suddenly heard something scuttle across the floor. Starbolts at the ready, she took aim in the direction of the sound. Before she could react, Silkie crawled up to her feet. He had been the source of the noise. She let out a gasp of relief. "Silkie!" she said. "Why are you out here, my little bumgorf?"
She picked him up but noticed he was shaking and squirming to get out of her arms. He was frightened. "Silkie, what is wrong? Why are you- Eep!"
Both of them stopped moving as if paralyzed, as they heard a thud come from Starfire's room. Silkie decided not to wait, and leaped out of Starfire's arms and shuffled away. Starfire then heard something that sounded like a groan from her room. Now she was certain that there was someone in the tower. Summoning her courage, she prepared to open her door and release a barrage of starbolts. Before she could touch the button to slide open her door, their intruder already opened it.
The tower's silence was broken with the sound of an ear-splitting shriek. "Starfire!" Robin, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy cried simultaneously as they rushed from the common room to her aid.
All four of the Titans soon found themselves shocked as they reached the door to Starfire's room. They soon learned that Starfire's shriek of terror had in reality been a squeal of joy. She was engaged in a warm, bone-crushing embrace, with a peculiar looking figure. She also seemed to be engaged in conversation with him, but the language was unknown to them. It was not the angry-sounding shouts of Tamaranean, but rather more guttural with some sort of bleating noises to indicate nuance. Nonetheless, they could see by the sparkle in her big, green eyes that the conversation was a friendly one. However, they were still confused. "Uh, Starfire?" Raven finally interrupted, breaking the exchange.
Starfire seemed to come back to reality. "Many apologies, friends," she said.
She leaned forward and kissed the stranger. Even for all her unusual behavior on a regular basis, this was considered strange. It was downright disturbing for Robin. Yes, they understood she did this to understand languages, but she seemed to understand his just fine before. "It has been a long time since I have received such a friendly greeting," the stranger said after the kiss.
Starfire noted everyone's face after the action, especially Robin's. "Worry not Robin," she apologized. "This was only a transference of language. Tamaraneans can transfer as well as learn the languages of others through lip contact. Do not be angry." This last sentence was punctuated by a pleading look from her.
"I thought you learned Tamaranean from her," Raven said, turning to Cyborg with a curious glance. "I don't recall it being like that."
He shrugged. "She did offer to teach me the 'Tamaranean' way, but this is not at all like what she described. So I said no thanks. She described it more like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
The fell silent, as they remembered the stranger in their tower. Now that Starfire was not covering him in one of her friendly embraces, they could get a better look at him. Raven easily recognized him as a satyr. He stood about as tall as Cyborg, but his horns, which were rooted on his forehead, just above his eyebrows, gave him at least another half a foot. He had thick, and most likely strong, goat legs, which ended with two wide hooves. His lower half and head were covered in thick blonde fur and hair, though he had no tail. His hair was kept rather short though, and somewhat messy, and his eyes were a milky, white color. His nose was rather large and wide, and covered with a peach fuzz of his blonde fur and ended in a flat, goat-like snout. His ears were mostly human but slightly pointed. Needless to say, he struck quite a figure. "So you uh…know this guy?" Cyborg asked Starfire.
Starfire beamed, as though she had been waiting forever for someone to ask the question. "Friends," she announced joyfully, "this is the brave warrior, and my beloved childhood friend, Zadkiel. He is a Visirian from the planet Naraka."
A blush rose to his cheeks. "You flatter me. It has been ages since I have heard your voice, Princess Koriand'r."
"It is Starfire here," she replied, "just Starfire. Oh, but you have changed so much since I have last seen you. Your horns, they have finally grown out. And is that the start of a beard?" She gently stroked the side of his face. "But please, you must meet my friends, the Teen Titans."
Beast Boy wasted no time to meet the creature, already a little starstruck. He had been the first to notice the visitor's scars. The worst one was the scar that started just above his left eye and crossed the bridge of his nose."Dude! You are awesome looking!" he said. "Are those scars all from battles?"
"Most of them," he replied. "My people are very proud of their battle scars. They tell stories of our triumphs."
Beast Boy was never one for subtlety. "So how did you get that gnarly one on your face?"
It was now Starfire who blushed. "Actually that was my first," he replied. "It has the best story too. Starfire accidentally gave it to me when we first met. And you are?"
"I'm Beast Boy," he replied, proudly. "You have to tell us that story."
"Raven, do not be so shy," Starfire called to her. "Please, come say the 'hello.'"
Raven hovered forward, looking the figure over carefully. As someone who took notice of other cultures, she was slightly curious at his attire. He wore minimal clothing, though the fur covered much. He had a belt with two long pieces of blue cloth trailing down to his ankles to cover his manhood and behind. He also wore a leather sword belt across one of his shoulders, which carried a short sword hanging on his back, as well as something that looked like a hunting horn, made out of the even larger horn of what was probably a very large and terrifying creature. The only piece of adornment he wore was a chain necklace with a pendant shaped to look like the sun, made out of a metal that shone red, orange, and yellow in different lighting. "So what's your planet like?" she asked.
"It is mostly a desert planet," he replied. "Most of the intelligent species who live there have formed tribes who are mostly at war with each other. I am of the species the Visiri, one of the more powerful tribes. We have possession of the only fertile soil on the planet, the Great Garden, we call it. I was to become the guardian of it one day."
He did not notice the puzzled expression on Starfire's face as a result of that last comment. Cyborg stepped forward. Standing next to him, they could tell he was not as bulky as Cyborg, but then his muscles were not as thin and ropey as Beast Boy's or Robin's. "The name's Cyborg. Starfire said your name was-"
"Oh, I suppose I should have given an earthly translation of your name," Starfire said.
"It's not as easy as that," he said. "Your translation of my name is 'merciful one.' Although, as I now understand it, from Starfire giving me the language, that it is for you only a concept, not really a name. Please, call me Zadkiel."
Beast Boy was already struggling to remember it. "Zad- uh Zak-… No, I'm not going to get that one."
Zadkiel only shrugged. Robin was last. He had cooled down some after Starfire had explained the kiss. "Oh Zadkiel," Starfire introduced, "this is my most special friend, Robin. He is what they call on this planet, my boyfriend."
"Any friend of Starfire's is a friend of ours. Welcome," Robin said, holding out his hand.
There was awkward silence for a while as Zadkiel did not respond to the handshake. Robin dropped his hand, annoyed at the awkward pause. "Uh Robin," Starfire said, "I am most pleased that you do not judge another alien by their appearance, but Zadkiel has been blind since birth. He does not see your hand raised for the shake."
Beast Boy was quite surprised. "Blind? Like blind blind?"
Zadkiel nodded his head in the affirmative. "Yes, I experience what you call total blindness."
"But you said you've been in all sorts of battles," Beast Boy objected, "how?"
"My people are already well known for their enhanced senses of smell and hearing," he began. "Being blind, these are even more enhanced for me. I have had to rely on these to survive. Plus, my own tribe has always seen me as weak for having this difference. I have had to work that much harder to prove them wrong."
Robin did not question these statements. He had, after all, faced the blind serpent on his journey to learn from the Great Master. It was a bit silent for a while. "Zadkiel," Starfire began, "I must show you all my favorite places on Earth. And I have so many questions. First, we will…oh." She looked at her friends. "I had already promised to participate in recreational activities with all of you today."
"Go," Robin said, pleasantly, "it's not every day you have a childhood friend visit. I mean, how long has it been?"
She started running a few quick calculations in her head. "Since Earth and Tamaran are almost equidistant from their suns, I guess it has been almost eight years."
"How long on your planet, goat-boy?" Beast Boy asked.
"Too long," he replied. "Besides, this will be most helpful. These new smells and sounds have been quite disorienting. Some familiarity with your home will help."
"Well, that explains the hoofprints and horn-shaped dents in the wall."
Before any more could be said, Starfire grabbed Zadkiel by the arm and zoomed off. Everyone stood with confused looks. "What just happened?" Cyborg asked.
Beast Boy pouted. "Dude, we got blown off for an awesome alien."
"You're not jealous are you, Robin?" Cyborg was clearly prying.
"No, of course not," Robin lied. "He's just a good friend. I hope."
"Well better him than me," Raven quipped. "I've got a good book, and I did not feel like 'journeying to the mall of shopping.'"
"What do you call this place again?" Zadkiel asked as he and Starfire were walking.
"It is called the park," Starfire replied as she took another sip of mustard. The local hot dog vendor had become so used to her unusual request and no longer batted an eye. "It is a place where one may engage in recreational activities such as picnics, outdoor games, and walking."
When she had first arrived on Earth, she had felt awkward at the stares of curious humans. It did not feel so strange now. She had gotten used to humans and they had gotten used to her. But now, she was starting to have that awkward feeling again, especially now that she knew that the glances were directed at her even more unusual looking friend. Zadkiel was meanwhile inhaling deeply, trying to gather as much of the park's typical smells. "It reminds me of home," he said. "It is like how the Great Garden is the only place on Naraka where one can smell things that are growing. You remember when I took you there?"
How could she forget? For the one patch of fertile land on the planet, it was a veritable paradise, even by Tamaranean standards. "Your friends are quite wonderful," he continued. "So please try and explain Robin to me. He is different from your other friends?"
Starfire only wished she could put it into words. They had not been a couple for long. They had only returned from Japan a few weeks before. "Yes, he is…different," she replied. "He is the human with whom I have been closest to since my arrival on Earth. He is more than just my best friend though. He is someone with whom my time with is special. It is as though I do not wish for it to end. When he is around, I get a strange feeling all over my body, but it is a good strange. He…I have gone on about him too long?"
Zadkiel shook his head. "No, I am glad you have found such comfort, and friends, and…more than friends here on your new home."
Starfire had led him to a bench so that they could sit and continue their conversation. "I have been speaking too much of my time here on Earth," she said. "It is not that I do not enjoy your companionship. I have greatly missed you, but…why is it only now that you seek me out? I thought your father-"
"Things have changed on Naraka," Zadkiel interrupted. "My brother is now the tribe's leader."
"You mean to say that Saraqael-" She could not bring herself to voice the entire thought.
"Yes," Zekiel responded, understanding her thoughts, "and he has banished me from Naraka."
"Banished? But how? Why?"
Zadkiel sighed, trying to find the best explanation. "As it turns out, Saraqael could tolerate me even less than father ever did. I suppose then I should consider myself lucky that father did not abandon me as a child for not having the same bloodlust he and my brothers share. At first, I was not sure where to go after I was banished. I was actually unsure of seeking asylum in Tamaran, as your father had made it clear that my kind were no longer welcome. But then, the whole galaxy had heard of your miraculous escape from slavery and return to Tamaran to assume the position of Grand Ruler. I had hope. I was able to finally obtain travel to Tamaran on a trade ship. Emperor Galfore was welcoming, as he did remember me, but he told me of your new home and how happy you had been there. He did offer me refuge in Tamaran, but suggested I might find that same happiness here on Earth. It took some time, but I was able to convince another trade ship to take me to the coordinates he had given."
Starfire nodded a silent approval to Galfore. While he would have tried to see to it that Zadkiel was treated fairly, he would never have been fully accepted on Tamaran. "He also sends you news from home," Zadkiel continued, his tone becoming more distressed.
This made her equally worried. "What is it?"
"It is Blackfire. Ever since you exiled her from Tamaran, Galfore has had guards keep a close watch over her. Now though, they have lost her."
Starfire breathed in deeply. She knew this was no accident. Blackfire had managed to get loose from the close watch she had tried to keep on her. With no knowledge of her whereabouts, she could be anywhere, although Starfire had a pretty good guess of where she was heading. The bigger question though is where she would stop along the way. Would she gain the help of some poor lackey from another planet? Would she acquire an army? Would she destroy Tamaran first? Starfire could prepare all she wanted for her sister's return, but it was waiting for what would happen in between that would be the most agonizing. Zadkiel was becoming concerned at his friend's sudden silence. "Starfire? Please say something."
"How long has it been since they last saw her?"
"Their last contact with her was, I guess three weeks in Earth time, from the Alnitak system."
Blackfire was then in proximity to Tamaran. This was troublesome. "Do not worry," Zadkiel added, "I know you can handle it."
He gave her an all too familiar sideways grin. Starfire could not help but laugh. "You could always convince me of anything with that smile," she said between giggles. "I suppose that is how we found ourselves in so much trouble when we were small."
She was about to ask more when her communicator let out a high-pitched alarm. "What is that?" Zadkiel groaned, covering his sensitive ears.
"Trouble," Starfire replied, grabbing him by the arm.
Control Freak had his arsenal prepared, and was shouting his latest monologue. "At last! I will finally get to enact the Ultimate Titan's Challenge."
Villains like him were truly exhausting. "Give it a rest fanboy," Cyborg said. "Aren't you late for some geek convention?"
"Laugh now, Titans," Control Freak retorted, "but you will find that I will have the last laugh. I, Control Freak, as your greatest nemesis know your every move. You don't-"
"Will you shut up?" Cyborg interrupted, charging at Control Freak.
The young villain only smiled as he clicked a few buttons on his improved pack filled with an incredible arsenal of weapons. Suddenly, a wave of repelling, magnetic force surged from the machine, knocking Cyborg back against the side of the building. He hit with a solid crash. Cyborg grunted as he tried to stand back up. Control Freak was ready with a taunting barb. "What's the matter, Cyborg? Afraid to face me? Oh, that's right. You never got the chance to see my weapons specially designed for each of you. You were too busy fighting 'real' villains. Well, how real am I now?"
A green eagle went zooming by, just in front of Control Freak. "Tsk, tsk, Beast Boy," he said, taking aim at him, "you can do better than that."
He had fallen for Beast Boy's distraction, and while concentrating on him, Cyborg came at him from behind. Control Freak was greeted with a solid kick to the back. He rolled to the ground for a few yards and was a bit woozy standing. "Hmm…so, you are going to pose a challenge," he said. "Very well then."
This time, Cyborg was prepared for the magnet and took a careful running start. As Control Freak turned on the magnet, Cyborg made sure to run around its range. Cyborg ran around him in no time, and before any more could be done, he took a firm grip of the magnet, ripping it from the backpack. Control Freak whipped around on him. "I don't think so, Cyborg. I don't approve of cheating."
A handful of small rockets appeared from the pack, blasting Cyborg back yet again.
"What is the trouble?" Starfire asked as she and Zadkiel were the last to arrive on the scene.
"Control Freak," Cyborg said. "Time to hit mute on this guy."
Cyborg aimed his sonic cannon at Control Freak, who did not seem fazed. He sent a solid blast in the villain's direction. A domed object appeared, redirecting the blast back towards Cyborg. The blast took out the stone balcony on the building above him, burying Cyborg in a pile of rubble before he had time to react, while Zadkiel covered his ears.
With a shared nod, Robin and Beast Boy took over the offensive. Turning into an armadillo, Beast Boy curled up into a balled position. Like a hockey stick, Robin used his staff to knock Beast Boy in the direction of Control Freak. This took the villain by surprise and knocked him on the side of his head. "Betcha didn't see that one coming did ya?" Beast Boy cheered.
The Titans were not going to go down easy; that much was certain, Control Freak realized, but he still had so many surprises up his sleeve. "True, you are the wild card of the Titans," Control Freak said, trying to sound more confident than he really was, "but two against one just isn't fair, now is it?"
Beast Boy shifted into a tiger form and leaped at Control Freak. He only yawned and casually pressed a button, shooting an electrically charged cage, capturing Beast Boy. Try as he might, it prevented him from transforming into anything big enough to break through. Even turning into a mouse to slip through the bars proved futile as the electric charge gave him a zap as he tried to escape. Robin found Control Freak just as difficult to fight as several pairs of mechanical arms sprung from the backpack and proved able to block all of his kicks and punches. This proceeded to only make Robin frustrated and exhausted. "Give it up Robin!" Control Freak shouted, triumphantly. "I've studied all your moves and have programmed them all into this. You can't- Hey!"
A green bolt of radioactive energy broke one of the arms off, leaving a pile of sparking wires. Starfire was directly above him, her eyes glowing with fury. Robin took advantage of Control Freak's focus on her, and put some distance between him and the villain. Starfire was accurate in her attacks, to be sure, but it was still a good idea to not even have the possibility of coming between her and a target. This finally broke Control Freak's confidence for a moment, as he no longer had a quip to respond with. He decided his best use of time was getting away while fumbling with his remote to find his best defense. Though to call it running away was an overstatement, and taking Starfire's speed into account, he really stood little chance. He looked behind him, to find that she had gone, only to run headlong into her just up ahead. Running into the Tamaranean felt more like being hit by a truck. She was already hovering over him, ready to throw a low-powered starbolt by the time he was able to focus once more. He used his remote to quickly throw up a force field, just as a barrage of starbolts pounded the ground. She was not finished there though, choosing to uproot a parking meter as her weapon of choice. "I hate to do this, Starfire," Control Freak said, with just a hint of longing, "but I can't have you getting in the way of my greatest victory."
With that he launched one of his atomic resistor capsules, trapping her in a red orb. Starfire fell straight to the ground. No matter her efforts, her starbolts could not release her. Meanwhile, Robin immediately went back to attacking Control Freak with his staff. Even though he was short one of his mechanical arms, he could still put up a fight with Robin. If there were not so many arms, Robin might have been able to get close enough to strike Control Freak and the control panel of his backpack. Suddenly, a car, surrounded by a magical aura started flying at the two of them. Control Freak only missed it by a few inches. "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!" Raven chanted, sending another spell his way.
It was more than just a single spell. Bolts of energy struck at him repeatedly, pushing Control Freak back a few yards with every hit. She had him cornered as she backed him up against a storefront. Raven was ready to end this fight with such a pathetic villain, and surrounded him with her own force field, hoping to entrap him. The force field cackled, giving Control Freak mild shocks. He struggled and thrashed about for a few minutes until he could gain some control of his hands. It was then that he revealed the gloves he was wearing. They were metallic and made a whirring noise as he turned them on. Raven's spell was absorbed into the gloves, alieving his pain. He flicked another switch and the gloves sent her spell back at her, encapsulating her in a dark box of her own magic, but there was something wrong. She could not get herself out of it. He had somehow altered her magic to prevent her from neutralizing it. Control Freak smirked to himself, but it did not last long.
Robin had, once again, set upon him. That was one thing the fanboy admired most about the hero; he was relentless. But now was not the time for it. Robin, however, still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Yes, Control Freak had programmed his mechanical arms to parry all of his usual moves, but there were still a few he had never used, mostly because he tried hard to forget his time as an apprentice to Slade. Swiftly, he flipped into a handstand, grabbing one of the mechanical arms with his legs. Continuing the flip, he threw Control Freak a fair distance, bending one of the mechanical arms beyond repair. He was nowhere near finished. No one messed with his team. In all the chaos of his arsenal falling apart, Control Freak was not prepared for the next wave of Robin's martial arts. He was knocked about like a ragdoll, and rolled in a heap across the street. Control Freak had one last ditch plan. He only hoped Robin was as predictable as he had planned. Sure enough, Control Freak heard an all too familiar sound of something whizzing through the air. Sure enough, it was a series of birdarangs. Control Freak only shook his head. "Disappointing."
With only a flick of a switch, he blasted them out of the air. There was only one still flying, and at this, he launched a hand-shaped blocker, which pushed it back at Robin. It exploded before he could react, leaving him passed out in the crater in the street created by the birdarang. Control Freak cackled, his confidence returning. "That was almost pathetic. I was expecting a real show from you Titans. Now if you'll excuse me, I have more important things to do.
"Perhaps I can be of assistance?" Zadkiel inquired, worriedly as he ran out to help Robin up.
Robin groaned. His own weapons really packed a punch, and it was certainly painful being on the receiving end. "Wishful thinking," he said as he wobbled to his feet. "No offense, but you are still getting used to this planet. So how do you know-"
"If I am correct, I am to attack the…uh boy who reeks of putrid-smelling oils and enjoys the sound of his voice, yes?"
He had to concede him that point. "Ok, maybe you've got a chance. He doesn't know you or what you can do."
Zadkiel nodded. "You free the others. I will see to this 'Control Freak.'"
Control Freak was meanwhile raiding a video store. He muttered to himself as he flicked through the tapes. "Junk, junk, junk. They gave Star Raiders one and a half stars! No one can appreciate real art."
"You are Control Freak? I challenge you to defeat me!" Zadkiel shouted, trying to get Control Freak's attention.
Control Freak scoffed. "And who are you supposed to be? You're not a Teen Titan."
"Maybe not, but then, as I understand it, you are not a real villain. So we are even." He had him angry now.
Control Freak accepted the challenge. "You'll be no problem. You can't be any harder to capture than Beast Boy."
With that, he launched another electrically charged cage. Zadkiel's ears twitched ever so slightly as he heard the zap of the electricity. Swiftly, he dodged the attack. "My turn," he said with his sideways grin.
With a twitch of his back muscles, two golden, dragon-like wings morphed out of his back. Control Freak's eyes widened in surprise. His voice cracked as he tried to eke out his next words. "You can fly?"
Without answering, Zadkiel kicked off into the air, his golden wings flapping lightly, allowing him to glide just over the ground, going full throttle at Control Freak. The villain scrambled frantically to push some buttons and managed to launch some of the blockers he had used against Robin at the alien, hoping to stop his flight. Hearing the whizzing sound coming towards him, Zadkiel responded quickly as he made bright flames burst from his hands, burning the blockers to ashes. "Oh come on!" Control Freak whined. "You can shoot fire too?"
But Zadkiel showed no signs of slowing, now launching a steady stream of flames to the ground, getting closer to Control Freak. With a high pitched shriek, the boy ran, trying to dodge the two beams of fire, shooting from each of the alien's hands. Control Freak ran around a corner, trying to catch his breath. Zadkiel stopped launching his fire as he lost his target's footsteps. Without knowledge of the city, he found himself running headlong into a building. The crash landing shook him up a bit, but he had suffered no major injury. In the meantime, Control Freak came incredibly close to being hit with loose debris. Behind him, he saw Raven with an awful scowl on her face. Control Freak made a run to get out of her sight, finding his challenger just ahead. Control Freak taunted him to show he was not afraid. "Doesn't do much for you if you can't see!"
"Which is why I prefer my hearing," Zadkiel retorted.
"Oh…" Control Freak said, realizing his stupidity.
Zadkiel now drew his sword. Using his ability to generate flames from his hands, he transferred the fire to his sword. "Now where were we?" he said, smiling as he held the flaming sword close.
With a shout, Zadkiel ran straight for Control Freak. Control Freak quickly took control of his mechanical arms to parry the swings of Zadkiel's sword. For some time, it was the clanging sound of metal against metal. Zadkiel's fury kept him swinging wildly at the boy. Control Freak could almost not keep up. His machine was programmed to block Robin's moves, not this creature's frenzied attacks. Suddenly, he heard a creaking sound. One of the mechanical arms had caught fire and sparks were shooting from the wiring. It did not take long for the arm to give and fall to the ground. Control Freak wasted no time to break away from the fight. He was smarter this time and tried not to make a sound. Beast Boy was coming around a corner, transformed into a triceratops, and eager to get back at Control Freak. Robin came around from the other corner, forcing him ahead. He was now only a pawn to the Titans, who were leading him into the open. Zadkiel was no fool either and took a deep breath as he sheathed his sword. With Control Freak's unique odor in his nostrils, he turned to face him, slowly pulling his war-horn from off his back. Control Freak wheezed, but still tried to sound assertive and in control of the situation. "What are you going to do now, sing me to sleep?"
"Just see what happens," Zadkiel retorted.
This time, Control Freak tried launching one of his atomic resistor capsules at him. If Starfire's starbolts could not break them, surely this thing could not break free. As the orb flew, Zadkiel inhaled deeply, his chest expanding far beyond that of any human. While doing so, he put his horn to his lips and blew. The ground shook beneath the two as the horn's blast resounded throughout the city. The orb cracked in midair and shattered into hundreds of pieces. "It's no fair!" Control Freak tried to shout over the sound of the horn.
With his last bit of willpower, Control Freak pushed several more buttons, starting up the gloves, using what last, little bit of Raven's magic he could, knocking Zadkiel's sword and horn at least fifty yards away. "You cannot defeat me," Control Freak shouted through labored breathing, "I am the Teen Titan's greatest nemesis, and you are nothing. You are just some savage creature!"
Zadkiel glowered at the boy. Control Freak could see the change in expression in Zadkiel's face. There was nothing there but seething anger, bloodlust really. Zadkiel ignited the power of fire he controlled, ready to hit him with everything he had. But then, a tender hand touched his shoulder, snapping him out of it. "We can assist now," Starfire said calmly.
Control Freak was ready for another wave of attacks. "I have one last idea," Zadkiel replied, with a smile Starfire knew all too well.
"You mean-" she asked, hopefully.
"You lead," he said, "I will follow."
Both took to the air, rising higher and higher, far above some of the tallest skyscrapers. "What are they doing?" Control Freak asked, awestruck instead of trying to get away.
His question was soon answered. As they reached the apex of their flight, they slowed down and encircled each other, drawing closer. In a moment, the two brought themselves together, touching the palms of their hands. Starfire now turned their direction so that they now faced downward. Zadkiel turned in his wings ever so slightly. It soon became apparent that the two were engaged in a spinning freefall. Starfire, being the one to see, kept their direction aimed at Control Freak. All the way down, an incredible power flowed between the two. As their hands were locked together, Starfire's starbolts merged with Zadkiel's powerful jet of flames, creating a magnificent beam of radioactive flames following Control Freak. As the villain ran as fast as his short legs could carry him, the combined powers of the two struck directly at his backpack arsenal, completely obliterating it. Goal accomplished, Starfire unlocked her palms from Zadkiel and tried to redirect their inertia to keep them from hitting a wall. The two landed safely behind Control Freak. Despite being caught, he was still the fanboy at heart and gushed. "And you have power moves with Starfire? It's not fair. C'mon, only Raven can do that with her."
"Life's tough," Cyborg said, picking Control Freak up by his coat collar, "and then in your case, you go to jail."
"That was awesome!" Beast Boy exclaimed, just bursting with excitement as they were taking Control Freak to jail. "You're like having Hot Spot, Wildebeest, and Herald all at once…but with wings. Dude, where did those even come from?"
Zadkiel shrugged, never having considered his abilities anything but ordinary. "My people have always had them, but we keep them hidden until we need them."
"And the flames?" Beast Boy continued.
"That's just an ability my people have. It is a part of our soul, our inner fire we call it."
"What's even cooler is that you can transfer that to other weapons," Cyborg added.
"And this horn," Beast Boy exclaimed, grabbing it out of Zadkiel's hands, "is it magic or something?"
Beast Boy tried his hand at blowing it, only succeeding in emitting a horrible squeak. Zadkiel snatched it back, shaking his head, but soon softening. "It is all in the lungs," he said. "For my people, our lungs are the largest of our internal organs. We can expand them further in proportion to most creatures. It is this part of our physiology that has made our cultural practices revolve around music. This horn is only special in that it reverberates sound better than most. When blown with enough force, it creates the effects you have just witnessed."
Raven only raised an eyebrow. "And that move you were able to do with Starfire?"
Both he and Starfire shrugged. "It is something we discovered when we were quite small," Starfire replied.
"We have never been able to understand how it is possible though," Zadkiel added.
"Well whatever it is," Cyborg said, redirecting the conversation, "you've got some sweet moves. We could use that on the team." He noticed a look from Robin. "That is if everyone is in agreement.
Starfire beamed. "Oh but of course! You must stay with us. You said you have been needing a place to call home."
"What she said," Beast Boy added. "I mean, you are one awesome alien."
Raven looked him over again. She had not forgotten the last time they had someone join their team. "You trust him?" Raven asked, looking at Starfire.
"More than anyone," she replied, a little offended.
"You heard her then," Raven said to Zadkiel. "Screw it up, and there will be no end to what I will do to you."
"Duly noted." Zadkiel nodded.
All eyes now turned to Robin. He was silent for a long time, but then slowly approached Zadkiel, grabbing his hand. "We really could use someone like you," he said, shooting a knowing smile to Starfire, "and I already had a hunch that you would be staying with us for a while."
Robin had placed a Titan communicator in his hand. Zadkiel could not see exactly what it was but felt the significance of the moment. "You know, we are going to have to call you something," Robin added. "You need a name that will command respect as a hero."
"Well," Raven thought out loud, "based on looks alone, he has more in common with a demon. But, based on the flaming sword, the horn, and the fact that he uses his powers for good, I would argue that he is similar to the concept of an archangel."
"Archangel," Cyborg repeated, "that's actually a pretty good name. It sounds perfect for a hero. And hey, we could call you Archie for short."
Zadkiel smiled. "I like it too," he said, "but please, someone needs to explain to me what an archangel is."
Beast Boy was disappointed he did not get to share his own idea. "Aw man, I kinda liked Goat Boy."
"Not a chance," Raven replied.
"Oh this is most glorious!" Starfire exclaimed. "All of my friends are united for the ultimate good. This is cause for celebration."
"Whoo! I'm breaking out the soy ice cream," Beast Boy hollered.
"Oh I know you didn't just use the words 'soy' and 'ice cream' together," Cyborg shouted as Beast Boy ran ahead.
"And I am to understand that these two are best friends?" Archangel said. "They certainly do not act like it."
"You have no idea," Robin said as he continued to talk with the new Titan as they walked home.
Starfire smiled to herself and was about to begin her flight home when a hand reached out to her. "Starfire, wait," Raven said, "I want to talk. You said you now had all your friends here. Was Archangel your only childhood friend?"
Starfire was a little taken aback by Raven's sudden concern for her, but she appreciated it nonetheless. "When you are the child of the royal family of Tamaran, you do not meet many other children your age unless it is under political pretenses," she replied, "and I never had many opportunities to venture outside the palace."
She sighed. Raven, however, was still curious. "Political pretenses?" she repeated. "Under what circumstances did you meet him?"
"Well, he and I were betrothed for two years when we were small," she responded. "I believe I had just celebrated the sixth anniversary of my birth when-"
"You two were engaged?" Raven asked in disbelief.
"Raven, you have seen this all done once before," Starfire said, confused by her friend's reaction. "This should come as no surprise to you."
"So, you are going to tell Robin?"
"Well, truthfully I am not sure. I fear that Robin may feel jealous. But, this is something that is in the past for both of us. We were quite young, and we really did not think about it very much. And Zadkiel, I mean Archie, has no intention of-"
"Starfire, you really should tell him," Raven interrupted. "For you, this seems like nothing, but if you do not tell him, then this nothing ceases to be nothing. Do you understand?"
"I believe so." Starfire sighed, and the two girls caught up to the rest of the team.
"And this is my little bumgorf, Silkie," Starfire said as she placed the mutant larva in Archangel's hands.
The Titans had welcomed their new member with open arms, none more so than Starfire, who had personally taken upon herself to give him a tour of the tower. "Oh…you have developed a maternal bond for this…thing," he said, a little disgusted as it squirmed in his arms, making a series of gurgles and squeals, "terrific."
"You do not like him?" Starfire asked a little hurt.
"Well, he is certainly…interesting," he said as Silkie began crawling up his shoulder.
Starfire quickly returned to her perky self. "Glorious! I knew you two would get along."
She took the creature off his back and began to tickle its belly. "Did that thing look as bad as it felt, smelled, and sounded like?" he whispered to Raven.
"Worse," she replied.
"It's a face only a mother could love," Raven interrupted.
Beast Boy then let out a mighty yawn. "This day's been exhausting," he said between yawns. "If you need me, I'll be catching some Z's."
"I need to charge for the night anyway," Cyborg agreed.
The other Titans followed suit, deciding to call it a day. Starfire soon returned to the common room with some blankets as Archangel made himself comfortable on the couch. "Cyborg and I shall begin work on your own sleeping quarters tomorrow," Starfire said. "You know, you do not have to sleep out here. Beast Boy has a spare bed, and there is also-"
"It is fine," Archangel replied. "Besides, I did not wish to say anything to Beast Boy, but it does smell as if something is rotting in his room."
Starfire smiled to herself. "Well, good night," she said after a long silence.
"Good night," he said back.
Just as he was about to settle in, Starfire turned and hugged him tightly. Archangel returned the embrace, opening up his wings and fully enclosing her in the embrace. "I have missed you greatly Zadkiel…I mean, Archangel."
"I have missed you as well, Princess Koriand'r…I mean, Starfire," he whispered back.
The two shared a friendly smile. Starfire always knew that he could not see her smile, but she also felt that he always could tell anyway. Starfire went to bed and Archangel began spreading a blanket and trying to go to sleep. He tossed and turned for some time, and eventually gave up. He was quite sure that everyone else had fallen asleep. As quietly as he could, he left the common room. He had paid careful attention to Starfire's tour of the tower, especially when she had relayed directions to the roof. He snuck to the door leading to the roof, carefully trying not to make a sound. As he took a few steps outside, he could feel the crisp night air and heard the crashing of waves against the shores of the island. He was silent, but his mind was quite busy. He certainly felt uneasy. Shortly later, he heard the flapping of wings. "Quite impressive," a voice said, followed by the soft sound of hooves landing on the roof. "You gained their complete trust in less than a day's time on this worthless planet."
"Do you have anything better to do than following me?" Archangel asked a tinge of bitterness in his voice.
"I think I am exactly where I need to be," the voice replied, placing a hand on the new Titan's shoulder. "Now, you must remember, you have been given an assignment. I trust you will deliver on it swiftly?"
Archangel snorted. Some things never changed. "That was always your problem; you have always been impatient. When will you learn that you must sow the seeds before you can harvest the fruit?"
He revealed a handful of seeds he had been carrying with him. His visitor only scoffed. "I do not have time for your foolish gardening metaphors. However, you have piqued my interest. What are they?"
"They are my business."
"Be that as it may," the voice said, once again taking charge, "if I suspect you of trying to sabotage this, I will step in." He grabbed Archangel by the throat. "And you can be certain that I will not be so merciful. I saw your little exchange with her. I will be watching."
Control Freak always made it a point to carry a video camera on his person at all times to record his adversaries' moves. He had managed to salvage the one he had that day, and wasted no time uploading it to the internet before his guards could notice. As fate would have it, someone had taken great interest in the footage of the Titan's newest member. "Most interesting," Slade said as he poured over every second of the video.
It was a very rare situation, but Slade soon found himself caught unaware as he was startled by the sound of crashing metal. The door to the main room of his latest lair was blown open by a magenta colored energy. Without so much as a greeting, in stepped Blackfire. "I was expecting something more spectacular," she said, observing her new surroundings, clearly not all that impressed.
"It serves its purposes," Slade said, regaining composure after the sudden outburst. "What I would like to know now is to whom I owe this pleasure?"
Blackfire only shrugged, not really answering his question. "I hear you teach skills that no one else can offer, and that you are searching for someone to teach. I also hear you have a habit of trying to destroy my pesky sister and her friends."
"Your sister?" Slade repeated, observing his intruder. "Ah yes, I see it now. Starfire?"
"Let's not say that name," Blackfire said through gritted teeth.
"Quite a bone to pick," Slade said. "I see what you would get out of an arrangement with me, but tell me, what do I get in return?"
Blackfire began to stroll around the room, never directly looking at Slade. She wanted to be the one in control of the conversation. "As I understand, you have a desire to leave a legacy of crime through your pupils, but have had no success as of yet. I can be that legacy. And I am better than any student you could find on Earth. I can take your legacy to the farthest reaches of the galaxy."
Slade was not so easily impressed. "Pardon me for being too quick to refuse, but I do not just take any apprentice who asks for it. I like to make the selection myself based on their skills."
Blackfire only responded with a wicked grin and began to launch a barrage of starbolts at Slade. With his usual finesse, he was able to dodge them. Gritting her teeth, she tried to hit him with the beams from her eyes. Slade once again was quick and was almost behind Blackfire before she could realize it. Using her Tamaranean strength as her last resort, she tried to take on Slade in hand to hand combat. This fight proved to be more evenly matched as the two matched each other blow for blow. Blackfire was starting to feel the strain, but in one last ditch effort, she struck him with a powerful right hook, knocking him to the ground. Slowly he stood up. "Really, you only match your sister in power, but you certainly have more ambition. And there is potential; quite a bit of potential really. I think I should have very much use for an apprentice like you."
Blackfire was a little taken aback by his comment about her powers. "You dare say I am equal to her!" she shouted. "I always was the better fighter. I was the one who-"
She was stopped short as Slade struck her across the face. Blackfire lay in a heap, shocked. She touched the burning spot on the side of her face where he had struck her. "Consider this lesson one: having an attitude like that is what gets you defeated. Never underestimate your opponents, and never, ever underestimate your allies. I had to learn that the hard way. Watch their every move. Acknowledge their strengths. It is only then that you can plant the seeds of doubt in their minds. You have much to learn before you can seek your revenge on your sister."
Blackfire rubbed at the painful spot on her face. "Don't worry, waiting only makes me even more eager to see my dear sister."