Hey, I'm back! More importantly, so are Raven and Jinx.
Disclaimer: Were the Titans afraid of Raven after she used lethal force against Slade? If so, I don't own the Teen Titans franchise; it belongs to DC Entertainment, Glen Murakami, and Warner Bros.
Deep in the Dinaric Alps of what used to be Yugoslavia lay an underground Soviet bunker. The presence of such a structure was not a surprise — the USSR had given the word 'paranoid' a whole new meaning — but what was a shock was its highly active recent history. Passing from the KGB to terrorists to shadowy military projects to organized crime, this building with its oh-so-inviting address of Yugoslavia-5183 had collected more than its fair share of weird items. Most were worthless, others would be valuable in the right hands, but some… some were outright dangerous, too dangerous to leave to just anyone who could get ahold of them.
A flash illuminated one darkened corner for a moment, and the musty silence was broken as a mangled grille from the ventilation shaft dropped to the concrete floor with a clang. Mere seconds later a figure followed it, landing with a soft, quick roll. "I'm in," came a feminine whisper, and the trespasser stepped into the weak lighting. "Coast seems clear. Any readings on your end?"
"Not so far, but you know that doesn't mean anything," answered a tinny voice from the earpiece the thief wore. "Want my advice? Grab the corium and get the hell out."
Scoffing, the woman brushed dust off her black bodysuit. "Thanks so much for that; I don't know what I'd ever do without you. Just keep a fucking eye on the cameras and make sure I'm not about to get capped in the back." She dismissed her partner's mutterings with a roll of her eyes and surveyed the storeroom. Pulling a silver chain that wouldn't look out of place on an old-fashioned pocket watch from one of the pouches strewn around her waist, she let it dangle from the middle finger of her left hand and slowly turned on one heel. Vertically slit pupils widened as the crystal on the end swung forward slightly; if she hadn't been wearing a mask that covered her entire face but for the eyes, a wide grin would have been seen. "Gotcha."
The object in question was a plain crate, no different from any of the other hundred or five that were scattered throughout the room, but she knew that was what she had been looking for. Looking around out of habit, she gripped the edge of one side and wrenched it open. She couldn't make out the contents as they were sealed in a large lead tube, but that protection confirmed her dowsing. This was surely what she was looking for, and if by some amazing cosmic accident it turned out to be something else… Well, it's not like I'll have a lot of trouble slipping back in here.
She spun to put the shelving behind her as the one door leading in or out, thankfully located at the other end of the storeroom, slammed closed. Chatter echoed in the tall space, not that she could understand a word of it. Her heart beating like a rabbit's, she leapt up and grabbed the topmost shelf; a moment's scramble found her safely laying on her belly, her body out of sight even as she peered down. She stilled her breathing to minimize her presence further.
A minute went by, then two, and she allowed herself to relax marginally. Her timing could not have been worse; a muscle-bound bruiser wandered toward her hiding place, bent cigarette hanging from his lips. He stared dumbly at the open crate for a couple of seconds before jerking a radio off his belt.
The woman allowed her training to take over. Diving from the shelf to land on his shoulders, she squeezed his head between her calves and flipped forward while adding a half twist; a sickening crack could be heard as her hands hit the ground. She released his head and transitioned into a back handspring, the soft sound of her feet touching down covered by his heavier thud when he fell to the concrete.
"How many?" she asked over the audio channel as she rummaged through his ill-fitting jacket, averting her eyes from the sight of his head facing the exact wrong way. Her fingers touched cold metal, and she jerked his automatic pistol and an extended magazine from their holster.
"Give me a sec." A clatter of typing, and then, "Looks like four in total, not counting the kludge-head you just iced. They should all be in the other side of the room, but I can't be sure; I'm still having trouble moving around this shitty system. If we'd gotten time…"
She shook her head. "Not your fault." Fresh intelligence had come in a week earlier warning that the Serbian mafia had obtained nuclear fuel material it planned to auction the next day. That alone was bad enough, but when said prize came from the infamous Chernobyl reactor, there were more issues than just the radiation. Having caused so much pain and death and being recognized so easily, the material had almost certainly gained metaphysical properties; if it were ever used in a bomb, or even just exposed to the general population, the results could be catastrophic.
Hence why Covert Metahuman Team 26, codename Black Magic, had been deployed.
They were the absolute best the American military could offer when mystical threats came knocking. Mercenaries trained by the top-secret Perseus Initiative, they had the knowledge, the skills, and the raw power needed to fight fire with fire, sometimes literally. Unfortunately, much of their success was because they never went into battle blind if they could help it and they always worked together. Half of their number were on another assignment at the moment, the kind where radio silence was essential. Between there only being two members available and having mere hours to prep, this mission had started with unacceptable risks and nose-dived from there.
"The next time we meet with Ruiz, remind me to break my foot off in his ass," she muttered as she slid the clip into her pilfered gun and switched the safety off. Hand-to-hand combat and her pseudomagical talents were her preferred means of attack, but the reactor fuel made this a ghost job; they could not, under any circumstances, leave evidence of who they or their employer was. If they did, denouncement and extradition were the best possible options. That meant using firearms, unpredictable though they could be in her hands.
"Like you'll actually go through with that threat. You know he'd… One of the brawns just found the vent! Get out of there!"
She took a breath and started running, the soft soles of her suit silencing her steps. As she rounded the aisle at the far end, a man saw her and reached for his weapon before a burst of gunfire dropped him. Mentally cursing now that her cover was definitely blown, she growled, "Where's the next one?"
"Fifteen feet in front of you on the right."
Spotting the gap between shelves, she poured on as much speed as she could and twisted to her side. She squeezed the trigger as she passed, a thump indicating that her shots had found their target. There wasn't much time left before the next grunt followed the noise, so she angled her heading and jumped at the shelves on her left, kicking off and spinning in midair to land on the — thankfully empty — top shelf on the other side of the pathway.
The weapon in her grasp decided that moment was the perfect time to undergo structural failure and literally fell apart into a dozen pieces. She sighed, knowing she was lucky to have kept it even that long. Her metahuman ability, increasing the entropy in an object to destroy it, could not be turned off; she could suppress it, but stressful situations like this one caused it to surge unpredictably, which was why she hated relying on guns to begin with.
She held her breath to listen; sure enough, footsteps pounded down the aisle in her direction. Waiting until they were practically right under her, she rolled off her perch onto the swarthy man's extended arms. She twisted his wrists, grabbed the pistol when it fell from numb fingers, and fired two rounds into his chest. "And that makes three."
A sharp click and a babble of Serbian came from behind her.
Crap. Giz said there were four, didn't he?
She dropped the gun, raising her hands slowly into the air even as she gathered her powers. Ghost job this might be, but if the only way for her to get out of here alive was to pop this guy's head like a zit, she'd do it and deal with the fallout later. Unfortunately, her surrendering only pissed him off more if the tone and volume of his voice was any indication.
The lights hanging from the ceiling all went out at the same, and her captor paused in his yelling. He muttered something, then quiet returned.
She nearly jumped out of her skin at the sudden sound and dived to the ground when the gunfire didn't stop. Whirling around and manifesting bubblegum sparks in her hand, she used her superior night-vision to find him shooting at… empty air? The short man threw his gun away and ran, his legs stiff with obvious terror. He rounded the corner to the hallway that held the second corpse; almost as soon as he was out of sight, he screamed.
For a third time, silence.
Deciding that was as good a time as any to get out of Dodge, she lifted herself from the cold concrete and sprinted in the opposite direction. Coming to an intersection, she turned left, then threw a bolt of pink at a sudden crimson flash. She spun on her heel and found herself staring into four glowing slits peering from a nearby wall.
Panic clawed at her chest before she spotted a familiar glitter in the evil visage. "Holy shit, Raven, don't do that. Are you trying to give me a fucking heart attack?"
"My apologies, Jinx." The lights came back on — Or were they ever really out to begin with?, she wondered — changing the angled streaks into two amethyst eyes in a smear of darkness. The pool of shadow spread, and from its surface came a head, then a complete body clad in grimy combat fatigues. The new woman brushed lavender bangs from in front of her face, showing unnaturally pale grey skin and a deep red gem shaped like a jagged S on her forehead. "You know that I cannot control my eyes' transformation."
Bullshit, miss youngest-illusion-master-in-history. You just like making me jump too much to stop. "And you wonder why we never have sex with the lights off."
Raven snorted quietly in amusement. "Is that the reason? I simply assumed you understood how much I enjoy watching you writhe in climax after climax."
"Nope." Jinx paused a beat in thought. "Well, that is a nice side benefit, I admit. And your own O-face isn't too bad to look at, either."
"Always so crude. Let us grab your objective and leave this place; I have not had a shower in nearly two weeks."
She shrugged, following the love of her life down the halls. "It was you who terrified that guy, wasn't it? How long were you here?"
"Long enough to discover you never learned to count." Raven flashed a small grin over her shoulder, but her face quickly smoothed back to solemnity. "In all seriousness, Jinx, please do not scare me like that again. I have no idea what I would do if something happened to you."
"The same thing you did in Nicaragua, I expect," Jinx murmured. The web of scars over her left ribs throbbed in remembered pain. They had been in that country three years previously to steal a doomsday device invented by a certifiably insane warlock. The shockwave from a hidden improvised explosive had peppered her with debris before it smashed her into a wall twenty feet away; her only saving grace was that the bomb had been inside a building while she was outside, or the sudden impact would have been the least of her worries. Nevertheless, she had been concussed and barely coherent, though she did remember what happened next.
To say that Raven was distraught was to say that the deepest reaches of space were a little chilly; technically correct but horribly understated in degree. When the two platoons of infantry surrounding them kept firing rather than let them escape, her lover proved exactly what happened when someone pissed off a literal devil child. The end result?
96 lives snuffed out in an instant of infinite black.
"More likely than not." Darkness sucked up the wooden crate before swirling into nothingness. "Time to go home?" Raven asked, a hint of hope coloring her voice.
"I wish. We need to stop by the base first. Can't have Hollingsworth yelling himself into an aneurism for failure to follow procedure."
The half-demon huffed. "If we must, but should he make an issue of how you did not complete the mission 'by the book', I will personally introduce said book to his spleen."
"Always so violent," she mocked playfully. Wrapping her arms around Raven's waist, she laid her chin on a dirty shoulder. Cold soulself crept up their bodies and flung them into the void.
This first installment is more prologue than anything. Chapter 2 will be longer.
Silently Watches out.